Matthew 15 Commentary


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Charts from Jensen's Survey of the NT - used by permission
Another Chart from Swindoll

THE LIFE OF JESUS AS COVERED
BY MATTHEW (shaded area)


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Source: Ryrie Study Bible

Matthew 15:1  Then some Pharisees and scribes came^ to Jesus from Jerusalem and said,

NET  Matthew 15:1 Then Pharisees and experts in the law came from Jerusalem to Jesus and said,

NLT  Matthew 15:1 Some Pharisees and teachers of religious law now arrived from Jerusalem to see Jesus.

ESV  Matthew 15:1 Then Pharisees and scribes came to Jesus from Jerusalem and said,

NIV  Matthew 15:1 Then some Pharisees and teachers of the law came to Jesus from Jerusalem and asked,

GNT  Matthew 15:1 Τότε προσέρχονται τῷ Ἰησοῦ ἀπὸ Ἱεροσολύμων Φαρισαῖοι καὶ γραμματεῖς λέγοντες,

KJV  Matthew 15:1 Then came to Jesus scribes and Pharisees, which were of Jerusalem, saying,

  • came: Mk 7:1-13 
  • scribes: Mt 5:20 23:2,15-28 Lu 5:30 Ac 23:9 
  • which: Lu 5:17,21 

BROOD OF VIPERS
PREPARE FOR ATTACK

Then some Pharisees and scribes came to Jesus from Jerusalem and said - It is too bad the text did not simply say they "came to Jesus," (cf this same phrase -- with disciples - Mt 17:19 Mt 26:17, Lk 8:24, a leper - Mk 1:40, a blind man - Mk 10:50, Nicodemus - Jn 3:2, Samaritans - Jn 4:40). But of course the Pharisees and scribes did not come with affection but with animosity (cf similar uses of phrase came to Jesus - Mt 19:3, Mt 22:23, Mk 12:18). They did not come with humble hearts but with hardened hearts. Can't you envision this "brood of vipers" (Mt 3:7+) with serpentine precision surrounding Jesus, as if preparing their "victim" for a kill! 

E. Stanley Jones writes on they had come from Jerusalem -  They came all the way from Jerusalem to meet Him, and their life attitudes were so negative and faultfinding that all they saw was unwashed hands. They couldn’t see the greatest movement of redemption that had ever touched our planet—a movement that was cleansing the minds and souls and bodies of men.… Their big eyes were opened wide to the little and marginal, and blind to the big. So history forgets them, the negative—forgets them except as a background for this impact of the positive Christ. They left a criticism; He left a conversion. They picked flaws, He picked followers. (Growing Spiritually)

Pharisees (5330)(pharisaios) is transliterated from the Hebrew parash (06567 - to separate) from Aramaic word peras  (06537) ("Peres" in Da 5:28+), signifying to separate, owing to a different manner of life from that of the general public. After the resettling of the Jewish people in Judea on their return from the Babylonian captivity, there were two religious groups among them. One party contented themselves with following only what was written in the Law of Moses and were known as Zadikim, the righteous. The other group called Chasidim or the pious added traditions of Jewish rabbis to the Law and voluntarily complied with them. Sadducees originated from the Zadikim. Pharisees and the Essenes originated from the Chasidim. The Pharisees were the separatists of their day, and  considered themselves much holier than the common people (Lu 18:11, 12). even wearing special garments to distinguish themselves. Although Pharisees were in number (about 6,000 according to Josephus, Ant. 17.2.4), their theology and tradition had great influence with the common people (who, ironically, the Pharisees often viewed with proud, self-righteous contempt [cf. John 7:49])In opposition to those of the Sadducees, The Pharisees were "supernaturalists" and believed in the existence of angels and spirits and the resurrection (Lk 20:27+; Acts 23:6–9+), which the Sadducees  denied (Mt 22:23; Mk 12:18; Lu 20:27). 

The Pharisees distinguished themselves by their zeal for the traditions of men, which  held to be equal to the Word of God. With the completion of the Mishnah (written compilation of the oral law, rituals, and traditions) in about A.D. 200, and the Talmud (the combination of the Mishnah and the Gemara [three centuries of the rabbis’ commentary on the Mishnah]) in about A.D. 500, the Pharisees’ teaching became virtually synonymous with Judaism. Ironically, it was their zeal for the law that caused the Pharisees to become focused on rituals and externally keeping the law. They abandoned true religion of the heart for mere outward behavior modification and ritual (Mt. 15:3–6), leading Jesus to scathingly denounce their pseudospirituality: The complex set of man-made rules and regulations was a crushing, unbearable burden (Mt. 23:4; Acts 15:10). (See more detailed notes from William Barclay)

Scribes (1122)(grammateus from grapho = to write) was one skilled in Jewish law and theology and most sources consider the lawyers (nomikos = one skilled in the Mosaic law) to be scribes. They were recognized experts in the law of Moses and in and the traditions propounded in the rabbinic writings. Not all Pharisees were scribes, but the scribes were primarily Pharisees, who were interpreters and teachers of the law of Moses and the traditional rabbinic writings. Their teaching provided the theological framework for the Pharisees’ legalistic system of works-righteousness. The scribes were the dominant force in Judaism, not only theologically, but socially because their views affected every aspect of Jewish life, social and legal. They were revered, and given the respectful title of Rabbi (Mt. 23:7). Uses in Matthew's Gospel - Matt. 2:4; Matt. 5:20; Matt. 7:29; Matt. 8:19; Matt. 9:3; Matt. 12:38; Matt. 13:52; Matt. 15:1; Matt. 16:21; Matt. 17:10; Matt. 20:18; Matt. 21:15; Matt. 23:2; Matt. 23:13; Matt. 23:14; Matt. 23:15; Matt. 23:23; Matt. 23:25; Matt. 23:27; Matt. 23:29; Matt. 23:34; Matt. 26:57; Matt. 27:41


Vance Havner - "Keep Thy Heart"      Matthew 15:1-20 Mark 7:1-23

ONE is amazed at the Pharisees and scribes who could look over all the mighty works and teachings of our Lord and fasten upon such a petty matter as the fact that His disciples did not wash their hands according to traditional regulations (Matt. 15:1-20; Mark 7:1-23). Yet we still have with us those who value set customs above the inner realities, to whom sacrifice is more important than mercy. Our Lord described both classes with His quotation from Isaiah 29:13: "This people draweth nigh unto Me with their mouth, and honoreth Me with their lips; but their heart is far from Me."

Jesus recognized a clean heart above clean hands. He reproved them for their "corban" custom by which they dedicated gifts to God and therefore escaped giving them to the needy. It was well to vow gifts to God, but it had degenerated into a clever excuse for not helping the ones in need—a pretext for evading responsibility.

It is not what goeth into a man but what proceeds from him—his thoughts and acts, which reveal his heart, these defile him. Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh. Therefore, "keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life."

Such teaching offended the Pharisees, but Jesus said, "Let them alone: they be blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch." It reminds us of the Old Testament statement: "Ephraim is joined to idols: let him alone" (Hos. 4:17). Our Lord made no effort to rescue these Pharisees; He regarded them as hopelessly set against Him. They had committed the sin against the Holy Ghost.

Well does formal and religious America need to ponder our Lord's position as to outward ritual and inward reality. Throughout the Word, God cries against it: through Isaiah (1:11-17), Hosea (6:6), Amos (5:21-24). Jesus followed the prophets with their own words, hurling them against an entrenched religiousness that could become excited over a slight disregard for precedent but could not see the truth of the Son of God.

Today, sticklers for the niceties of tradition still strain out the gnat and swallow the camel, are careful to observe seasons and ordinances and minute church restrictions; but their heart is far from God. Jesus, however, would break a precedent and smash a tradition anytime to get at a needy life. Sabbath regulations were less important than a withered hand.

There are even Christians who have bordered on medieval asceticism by denying themselves wholesome and normal enjoyment and regulating each detail with meticulous care until they have fallen into the error of the Colossians, "Touch not, taste note, handle not." One is not more holy by being less human. It is the state of the heart that matters most, for evil comes from within. It does no good to cleanse the hands with water if the heart has not been cleansed by the blood.

Matthew 15:2  "Why do Your disciples break the tradition of the elders? For they do not wash their hands when they eat bread."

NET  Matthew 15:2 "Why do your disciples disobey the tradition of the elders? For they don't wash their hands when they eat."

NLT  Matthew 15:2 "Why do your disciples disobey our age-old tradition?" they demanded. "They ignore our tradition of ceremonial hand washing before they eat."

ESV  Matthew 15:2 "Why do your disciples break the tradition of the elders? For they do not wash their hands when they eat."

NIV  Matthew 15:2 "Why do your disciples break the tradition of the elders? They don't wash their hands before they eat!"

GNT  Matthew 15:2 Διὰ τί οἱ μαθηταί σου παραβαίνουσιν τὴν παράδοσιν τῶν πρεσβυτέρων; οὐ γὰρ νίπτονται τὰς χεῖρας [αὐτῶν] ὅταν ἄρτον ἐσθίωσιν.

KJV  Matthew 15:2 Why do thy disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? for they wash not their hands when they eat bread.

  • break: Mk 7:2,5 Ge 1:14 Col 2:8,20-23 1Pe 1:18 

Related Passages:

Mk 7:2+ and had seen that some of His disciples were eating their bread with impure hands, that is, unwashed.

Mk 7:5+ The Pharisees and the scribes *asked Him, “Why do Your disciples not walk according to the tradition of the elders, but eat their bread with impure hands?”

 
Diligently Studying the Talmud

Why do Your disciples break the tradition of the elders - Note they do not ask why they do not keep the Law of God, because there is no such "rule" in the Law of God. But these deceived leaders have foolishly elevated men's traditions to as great (and even greater) as the Law of God. And they have convinced the Jewish populace of this fallacious teac hing. So if they can show Jesus' disciples are breaking their highly esteemed traditions, they can begin to turn the populace against this "Miracle Man." 

Break (transgress)(3845)(parabaino from pará = beside, beyond, contrary to + baínō = to walk, to go) means to go beside (walk beside, pass by), to overstep (transgress), to pass over, to let pass, to let slip. Only 3 uses in NT - Mt 15:2, 3, Acts 1:25. Parabaino is used much more frequently in the Septuagint and especially in the context of transgressing God's covenant and/or commands. To transgress means to pass beyond limits or boundaries. 

Tradition (3862)(paradosis from paradidomi = deliver in teaching) means literally to give from the presence of, thus to give personally. It signifies an act of transmission or that which is transmitted and thus refers to that which is handed down or transmitted from generation to generation or from one to another. In this context paradosis was used to refer to the traditions of men which had been engrafted on the Mosaic Law. All 8 uses (of a total of 13 in NT) in the Gospels are in the parallel descriptions in Matthew 15 and Mark 7 (Matt. 15:2; Matt. 15:3; Matt. 15:6; Mk. 7:3; Mk. 7:5; Mk. 7:8; Mk. 7:9; Mk. 7:13) MacArthur writes that "Ancestral traditions refers to the body of oral teachings about the Old Testament law that came to have equal authority with the Law. Commonly known as the Halakah, this collection of Torah interpretations became a fence around God’s revealed law and all but hid it from view. Over a period of several hundred years it had expanded into a mammoth accumulation of religious, moral, legal, practical, and ceremonial regulations that defied comprehension, much less total compliance. It contained such vast amounts of minutiae that even the most learned rabbinical scholars could not master it either by interpretation or in behavior. Yet the more complex and burdensome it became, the more zealously Jewish legalists revered and propagated it." (Galatians)

For (term of explanation) they do not wash their hands when they eat bread - A simple reading might make one think that the disciples eat food with dirty hands. That is not what the scribes and Pharisees are saying. They are referring to ceremonial washing of hands to assure "ritual purity," a practice that Jesus would soon show focused on the external and not on the internal. Their vain attempts at pursuing "religion" missed God's heart desire for a relationship! 

TSK Note on tradition - Tradition, in Latin {traditio,} from {trado,} I deliver, hand down, exactly agreeing with the original [paradosis] from [paradidomi] I deliver, transmit. Among the Jews it signifies what is called oral law, which they say has been successively handed down from Moses, through every generation, to Judah the Holy, who compiled and digested it into the Mishneh, to explain which the two Gemaras, or Talmuds, called the Jerusalem and Babylonish, were composed. Of the estimation in which these were held by the Jews, the following may serve as an example:  "The words of the Scribes are lovely beyond the words of the law, for the words of the law are weighty and light, but the words of the Scribes are all weighty."


MacArthur on "Traditions of the Elders": "In their minds the tradition of the elders was superior to Scripture, in the sense that it was the only reliable interpretation of God’s Word. Just as Roman Catholics look to church dogma to discover what Scripture “really means,” most Jews of Jesus’ day looked to the tradition of the elders. In much the same way, many Protestants give more authority to the pronouncements of their denomination than to the Bible.
    The Talmud, which is the repository of Jewish tradition, teaches that God gave the oral law to Moses and then told Moses to pass it on to great men of Israel. These men were then to do three things with the law they had received. First, they were to deliberate on it and properly apply it. Second, they were to train disciples in order that the next generation would have teachers of the law. Third, they were to build a wall around the law in order to protect it.
    Because their hearts were not right with God, the rabbis’ wall-building “protection” of His law actually undermined and contradicted it. Their purpose was not to lead the people to worship and serve God from pure hearts made clean by Him, but to worship and serve Him by human means and from unchanged hearts. To provide the means for superficially keeping God’s commandments, regulation after regulation and ceremony after ceremony were added, until God’s own Word was utterly hidden behind the wall of tradition. Instead of protecting. God’s Word, the tradition obscured and perverted it.
    When the northern kingdom of Israel and then the southern kingdom of Judah were taken into captivity, the Jewish people felt as if God had abandoned them. The real reason for their captivity, of course, was that they had abandoned Him. They were suffering God’s judgment, just as Isaiah, Jeremiah, and other prophets had repeatedly and vividly warned they would.
    While the Jews were in exile, scribes (the first of whom was Ezra) began to assemble and copy the various books of Scripture written to that time. They also began to make comments on various passages that seemed unclear; and gradually a larger and larger accumulation of interpretations was developed until there was more interpretation than Scripture. The distinction between Scripture and the traditions based on interpretations of Scripture gradually became less and less distinct, and before long tradition was more familiar and more revered than God’s own Word.
    By Jesus’ day, the tradition of the elders had for many years supplanted Scripture as the supreme religious authority in the minds of Jewish leaders and of most of the people. The traditions even affirmed that “the words of scribes are more lovely than the words of the law,” and it became a greater offense in Judaism to transgress the teaching of some rabbi such as the revered Hillel than to transgress the teaching of Scripture.
    In the thinking of the Pharisees and scribes who approached Jesus on this occasion, it was therefore an extremely serious matter that His disciples would transgress the tradition of the elders. Jesus and His disciples disregarded all the rabbinical traditions, and the particular infraction cited here was simply representative of many others that could have been mentioned. " (MNTC-Matthew)

Matthew 15:3  And He answered and said to them, "Why do you yourselves transgress the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition?

NET  Matthew 15:3 He answered them, "And why do you disobey the commandment of God because of your tradition?

NLT  Matthew 15:3 Jesus replied, "And why do you, by your traditions, violate the direct commandments of God?

ESV  Matthew 15:3 He answered them, "And why do you break the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition?

NIV  Matthew 15:3 Jesus replied, "And why do you break the command of God for the sake of your tradition?

GNT  Matthew 15:3 ὁ δὲ ἀποκριθεὶς εἶπεν αὐτοῖς, Διὰ τί καὶ ὑμεῖς παραβαίνετε τὴν ἐντολὴν τοῦ θεοῦ διὰ τὴν παράδοσιν ὑμῶν;

KJV  Matthew 15:3 But he answered and said unto them, Why do ye also transgress the commandment of God by your tradition?

  • Why : Mt 7:3-5 Mk 7:6-8,13 Col 2:8,23 Tit 1:14 

STRIKING CONTRAST:
MAN MADE VS GOD GIVEN

And He answered - Answered is apokrinomai which is a somewhat formal response or reaction to a question and Hebraistically was used a formula to control the flow of discourse. In this case Jesus was clearly in control of the flow of the discourse! Notice the root of apokrinomai is krino which means to judge and so the idea of the verb is to make a distinction, in this case between what the religious leaders thought was truth (traditions of men) and what really is truth (God's Word).

and said to them, "Why do you yourselves transgress the commandment of God - Transgress is in the present tense, thus Jesus is justifiably accusing the "religionists" of continually transgressing the infallible truth of God's Word in favor of men's fallible words! 

THOUGHT - Keeping the commandments did not make the Jews righteous, but if the laws are kept out of love & reverence for the Lord and from the heart (Lk 1:6, 17 Lk 2:25), not out of ritualistic obedience, then this "keeping of the commandments" is evidence of a righteousness from God in that individual (cp Ro 3:21,22)

Transgress (break)(3845) see above for parabaino

for - Term of explanation. Jesus explains why they transgress God's truth. 

The sake of your tradition - Note your tradition, not "God's tradition!" These legalistic religious leaders followed man-made rules many of which were utterly ridiculous but all of which made obedience a burden instead of a blessing. It is fascinating that these man-made rules were far more difficult and detailed than God's rules! (See MacArthur's description of some of the outlandish rules related to the Sabbath). If the Pharisees' were alive today, their theme song would likely be Tevye's "Tradition" in Fiddler on the Roof, a good song but a bad practice. 

THOUGHT - In their self deception in their zealous adherence to men's traditions the scribes and Pharisees thought they were worshipping God by keeping all of the rules, when in fact they were thoroughly displeasing to God! That's what "religion" without relationship will do. And we can fall into the same trap today, thinking if we go to church on Sunday, that is what God wants us to do. In part that may be true but it is so easy to come to church and miss Jesus by a mile, because we fall into the deception that our "tradition" (of being in church every Sunday) will make us acceptable to God.  The basic principle of 1 Sa 15:22 still applies "Has the LORD as much delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices As in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, And to heed than the fat of rams." God wants our hearts. David affirms this principle writing "The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; A broken and a contrite heart, O God, You will not despise." (Ps 51:17+) The Pharisees were not broken in spirit nor contrite in heart, but were prideful in spirit and heart and that is why they failed to recognize the Messiah of Israel! Beware of religious traditions (rituals)! 

Tradition (3862) see note above on paradosis

Henry Morris - The Lord severely rebuked the Pharisees for ignoring the clear teachings and commands of Scripture in favor of their own self-serving interpretations and traditions. This unfortunate practice is as prevalent among modern Christians as among ancient Jews, and would surely draw the same rebuke today if He were here in the flesh. In fact, we today are more culpable than they, because we have far more evidence of the inerrant authority of His Word than the Pharisees had.

Matthew 15:4  "For God said, 'HONOR YOUR FATHER AND MOTHER,' and, 'HE WHO SPEAKS EVIL OF FATHER OR MOTHER IS TO BE PUT TO DEATH.'

NET  Matthew 15:4 For God said, 'Honor your father and mother' and 'Whoever insults his father or mother must be put to death.'

NLT  Matthew 15:4 For instance, God says, 'Honor your father and mother,' and 'Anyone who speaks disrespectfully of father or mother must be put to death.'

ESV  Matthew 15:4 For God commanded, 'Honor your father and your mother,' and, 'Whoever reviles father or mother must surely die.'

NIV  Matthew 15:4 For God said, 'Honor your father and mother' and 'Anyone who curses his father or mother must be put to death.'

GNT  Matthew 15:4 ὁ γὰρ θεὸς εἶπεν, Τίμα τὸν πατέρα καὶ τὴν μητέρα, καί, Ὁ κακολογῶν πατέρα ἢ μητέρα θανάτῳ τελευτάτω.

KJV  Matthew 15:4 For God commanded, saying, Honour thy father and mother: and, He that curseth father or mother, let him die the death.

  • God: Mt 4:10 5:17-19 Isa 8:20 Ro 3:31 
  • Honour: Mt 19:19 Ex 20:12 Lev 19:3 De 5:16 Pr 23:22 Eph 6:1 
  • He: Ex 21:17 Lev 20:9 De 21:18-21 27:16 Pr 20:20 30:17 

Related Passages:

Mark 7:10+ (PARALLEL PASSAGE) “For Moses said, ‘HONOR YOUR FATHER AND YOUR MOTHER’; and, ‘HE WHO SPEAKS EVIL OF FATHER OR MOTHER, IS TO BE PUT TO DEATH’;

Exodus 20:12+   “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be prolonged in the land which the LORD your God gives you. 

Deuteronomy 5:16; Honor your father and your mother, as the LORD your God has commanded you, that your days may be prolonged and that it may go well with you on the land which the LORD your God gives you. 

Exodus 21:17+  “He who curses his father or his mother shall surely be put to death. 

Leviticus 20:9+ ‘If there is anyone who curses his father or his mother, he shall surely be put to death; he has cursed his father or his mother, his bloodguiltiness is upon him. 

Deuteronomy 27:16  ‘Cursed is he who dishonors his father or mother.’ And all the people shall say, ‘Amen.’ 

Proverbs 20:20 He who curses his father or his mother, His lamp will go out in time of darkness. 

Proverbs 30:17 The eye that mocks a father And scorns a mother, The ravens of the valley will pick it out, And the young eagles will eat it. 

For - Term of explanation. Always ask the Spirit to help you discern what the writer (speaker) is explaining. In this case Jesus is elaborating on the empty, traditional worship of the religious leaders. How sad to be accused of worthless worship by the Lord of lords, but now He gives these hard of hearing leaders a clear explain of their hypocrisy. 

God said - Notice that the Matthew 15:4 parallel has "God said" indicating that what Moses said was what he had been inspired by the Spirit to say (cf 2 Peter 1:21+). 

HONOR YOUR FATHER AND MOTHERHonor is timao in the present imperative which calls for continual, unhesitating tangible demonstration of reverence and respect to one's parents (our need to depend on the Holy Spirit to obey). You would expect that these religious leaders who were zealous for keeping the Law of God and traditions of men would surely seek to obey this one of the Ten Commandments because it came pre-packaged with a promise of long life in the land! But sadly they had allowed their imperfect traditional teachings from sinful men to even take precedence of the perfect Law of the Holy God! 

Honor (5091)(timao from time = honor, prize) means to show high regard respect for and so to count as valuable, to esteem, to value, to revere. To show respect to someone is to recognize their worth as a person (and if they are a parent to recognize the validity of their role and their authority). To honor is to manifest an attitude of love, respect, and disposition of one's heart which in the context of God or the child/parent relationship yields the fruit of obedience. Lenski comments that to honor reflects "the form love assumes towards those who are placed above us by God." All uses of timao in Matthew - Matt. 15:4; Matt. 15:6; Matt. 15:8; Matt. 19:19; Matt. 27:9;

and, 'HE WHO SPEAKS EVIL OF FATHER OR MOTHER IS TO BE PUT TO DEATH - So not only was there a blessing for honoring parents, there was also a curse for dishonoring them! And in spite of this "double motivation" to keep this commandment, the religious leaders opted for the traditions of men! 

Matthew 15:5  "But you say, 'Whoever says to his father or mother, "Whatever I have that would help you has been given to God,"

NET  Matthew 15:5 But you say, 'If someone tells his father or mother, "Whatever help you would have received from me is given to God,"

NLT  Matthew 15:5 But you say it is all right for people to say to their parents, 'Sorry, I can't help you. For I have vowed to give to God what I would have given to you.'

ESV  Matthew 15:5 But you say, 'If anyone tells his father or his mother, "What you would have gained from me is given to God,"

NIV  Matthew 15:5 But you say that if a man says to his father or mother, 'Whatever help you might otherwise have received from me is a gift devoted to God,'

GNT  Matthew 15:5 ὑμεῖς δὲ λέγετε, Ὃς ἂν εἴπῃ τῷ πατρὶ ἢ τῇ μητρί, Δῶρον ὃ ἐὰν ἐξ ἐμοῦ ὠφεληθῇς,

KJV  Matthew 15:5 But ye say, Whosoever shall say to his father or his mother, It is a gift, by whatsoever thou mightest be profited by me;

  • say: Mt 23:16-18 Am 7:15-17 Mk 7:10-13 Ac 4:19 5:29 
  • has been given to God: Lev 27:9-34 Pr 20:25 Mk 7:11,12 

Related Passage:

Mark 7:10 For Moses said, ‘HONOR YOUR FATHER AND YOUR MOTHER’; and, ‘HE WHO SPEAKS EVIL OF FATHER OR MOTHER, IS TO BE PUT TO DEATH’; 11 but you say, ‘If a man says to his father or his mother, whatever I have that would help you is Corban (that is to say, given to God),’ 12 you no longer permit him to do anything for his father or his mother; 13 thus invalidating the word of God by your tradition which you have handed down; and you do many things such as that.”

THE SCAM
OF CORBAN

But you say - Term of contrast. What is Jesus contrasting? Check the immediate context for the answer. Did you notice God said versus you say?

Whoever says to his father or mother, "Whatever I have that would help you has been given to God - Mark 7:11+ has "whatever I have that would help you is Corban (that is to say, given to God)." Withholding money (or any other benefit) from needy parents in order to give it to God is in direct disobedience to God and is dishonoring God's Word and substituting a man-made tradition for God's Word.  Basic human needs come first with God before religious offerings. 

Help (profit) (5623)(opheleo from ophéllo = heap up or from ophelos = increase, profit) means to provide assistance, with emphasis upon the resulting benefit. To help, to be of benefit, to be of use, to be an advantage, to be advantageous. Opheleo is used in the sense of “bringing or gaining spiritual benefit” in Jn 6:63; 1Co. 13: 3; 14:6; Gal. 5: 2; Heb. 4: 2; 13:9. Opheleo occurs in the question “What does it profit a person … ?” in Mt 16:26; Mk 8:36; Lk 9:25.

Matthew 15:6  he is not to honor his father or his mother.' And by this you invalidated the word of God for the sake of your tradition.

NET  Matthew 15:6 he does not need to honor his father.' You have nullified the word of God on account of your tradition.

NLT  Matthew 15:5 But you say it is all right for people to say to their parents, 'Sorry, I can't help you. For I have vowed to give to God what I would have given to you.' 6 In this way, you say they don't need to honor their parents. And so you cancel the word of God for the sake of your own tradition.

ESV  Matthew 15:6 he need not honor his father.' So for the sake of your tradition you have made void the word of God.

NIV  Matthew 15:6 he is not to 'honor his father ' with it. Thus you nullify the word of God for the sake of your tradition.

GNT  Matthew 15:6 οὐ μὴ τιμήσει τὸν πατέρα αὐτοῦ· καὶ ἠκυρώσατε τὸν λόγον τοῦ θεοῦ διὰ τὴν παράδοσιν ὑμῶν.

KJV  Matthew 15:6 And honour not his father or his mother, he shall be free. Thus have ye made the commandment of God of none effect by your tradition.

  • honor : 1Ti 5:3,4,8,16 
  • by this you invalidated the word of God: Ps 119:126,139 Jer 8:8 Ho 4:6 Mal 2:7-9 Mk 7:13 Ro 3:31 

He is not to honor his father or his mother - The person who says this money is for God (so he does not have to given it to his parents) is directly countering the clear commandment of God calling for one to honor parents. 

Honor (5091) see above on timao

And by this you invalidated the Word of God for the sake of your tradition - By invoking this tradition (which Mark 7:11 calls Corban) there essentially "cancel out" God's commandment. And here Jesus says the reason they do this is so they can hold to their tradition. In short, Jesus is saying the tradition of men trumps the clear, unambiguous Word of God! This has to be the height of hubris, which is not surprising for the scribes and Pharisees were proud of their pride and looked down on their fellow Jews! (e.g. read Lk 18:10-14+)

Invalidated (208)(akuroo from a = without + kuroo = to confirm) was a legal technical term meaning to make invalid or void, to annul (Gal 3:17+) It means to cancel, deprive of power. Used in Mt 15:6 and Mk 7:13+ describing depriving divine law of authority (and power) by placing priority on human traditions! In the OT only in the apocryphal writings - 1 Es. 6:31; 4 Ma. 2:1; 4 Ma. 2:3; 4 Ma. 2:18; 4 Ma. 5:18; 4 Ma. 7:14; 4 Ma. 17:2

Tradition (3862) see note above on paradosis

Matthew 15:7  "You hypocrites, rightly did Isaiah prophesy of you:

NET  Matthew 15:7 Hypocrites! Isaiah prophesied correctly about you when he said,

NLT  Matthew 15:7 You hypocrites! Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you, for he wrote,

ESV  Matthew 15:7 You hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy of you, when he said:

NIV  Matthew 15:7 You hypocrites! Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you:

GNT  Matthew 15:7 ὑποκριταί, καλῶς ἐπροφήτευσεν περὶ ὑμῶν Ἠσαΐας λέγων,

KJV  Matthew 15:7 Ye hypocrites, well did Esaias prophesy of you, saying,

  • hypocrites: Mt 7:5 23:23-29 
  • well: Mk 7:6 Ac 28:25-27 

You hypocrites, rightly did Isaiah prophesy of you

Matthew 15:8  'THIS PEOPLE HONORS ME WITH THEIR LIPS, BUT THEIR HEART IS FAR AWAY FROM ME.

NET  Matthew 15:8 'This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me,

NLT  Matthew 15:8 'These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.

ESV  Matthew 15:8 "'This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me;

NIV  Matthew 15:8 " 'These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.

GNT  Matthew 15:8 Ὁ λαὸς οὗτος τοῖς χείλεσίν με τιμᾷ, ἡ δὲ καρδία αὐτῶν πόρρω ἀπέχει ἀπ᾽ ἐμοῦ·

KJV  Matthew 15:8 This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me.

  • HONORS ME: Isa 29:13 Eze 33:31  Joh 1:47 1Pe 3:10 
  • BUT THEIR HEART: Pr 23:26 Jer 12:2 Ac 8:21 Heb 3:12 

LIP SERVICE FROM
HYPOCRITES

THIS PEOPLE HONORS ME WITH THEIR LIPS - A modern saying is they give God "lip service," but lack life submission. It is good to honor God with one's lips, but only if our words truly reflect the worship in our heart! One  is reminded of Paul's description of hypocrites who "profess to know God, but by their deeds (THEIR PRACTICE) they deny (present tense = CONTINUALLY DENY) Him, being detestable (bdekluktos from bdeo = TO STINK!) and disobedient and worthless for any good deed.(Titus 1:16+) In short, their earthly life is essentially USELESS in regard to eternal things. That is sad, but is the sad truth of every unbeliever.

Honors (5091) see above on timao

BUT  - Term of contrast. A "but" usually "changes direction," and in this case the meaning is clear from the context. 

THEIR HEART IS FAR AWAY FROM ME (

See other passages describing heart far from God - Ps 78:35,36 Isa 48:1 Eze 33:31, 32 Mt 7:21 Mk 7:6 Lu 6:46 1 Jn 3:18 Titus 1:16, Jas 1:22-25)

Circumcision was the mark of the covenant given to Abraham, and it was looked on with the greatest possible reverence by Jews. But even before lsrael entered the Promised Land, God declared thru Moses that the issue at hand was what issues from the heart, esp a "circumcised" heart.  (Dt10:12,13, 16). The OT repeatedly declares that the only religious ceremony or activity that pleases God is that which comes from a contrite, pure, and loving heart (Jos24:23; 1Ki8:23; 2Ch11:16; Isa51:7; 57:15).

Matthew 15:9  'BUT IN VAIN DO THEY WORSHIP ME, TEACHING AS DOCTRINES THE PRECEPTS OF MEN.'"

NET  Matthew 15:9 and they worship me in vain, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.'"

NLT  Matthew 15:9 Their worship is a farce, for they teach man-made ideas as commands from God.' "

ESV  Matthew 15:9 in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.'"

NIV  Matthew 15:9 They worship me in vain; their teachings are but rules taught by men.'"

GNT  Matthew 15:9 μάτην δὲ σέβονταί με διδάσκοντες διδασκαλίας ἐντάλματα ἀνθρώπων.

KJV  Matthew 15:9 But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.

  • BUT IN VAIN : Ex 20:7 Lev 26:16,20 1Sa 25:21 Ps 39:6 73:13 Ec 5:2-7 Isa 1:13-15 58:1-3 Mal 3:14 Mk 7:7 1Co 15:2 Jas 2:20 
  • TEACHING AS DOCTRINES: De 12:32 Pr 30:5,6 Isa 29:13 Col 2:18-22 1Ti 1:4 4:1-3,6,7 Tit 1:14 Heb 13:9 Rev 22:18 

EMPTY RITUALISTIC
HUMANISTIC WORSHIP

BUT IN VAIN DO THEY WORSHIP ME - Jesus must have really stirred their anger when He declared their worship was senseless, to no end, pointless and without result. Jesus had earlier given an example of vain worship declaring “And when you are praying, do not use meaningless repetition as the Gentiles do, for they suppose that they will be heard for their many words." (Mt 6:7+)

Vain (3155)(maten from accusative of mate = a folly) means groundless, invalid; and in a final sense, purposeless, useless, futile; and according to circumstances it may be both idle and vain. Thayer says it is an "adverb, from Pindar, Aeschylus down, in vain, fruitlessly: Matt. 15:9 and Mark 7:7, after Isa. 29:13 the Septuagint.* Only 2x in NT - Mt 15:9, Mk 7:9. Septuagint - 1 Ki. 21:20; Ps. 35:7; Ps. 39:6; Ps. 39:11; Ps. 41:6; Ps. 63:9; Ps. 127:1 = "Unless the LORD builds the house, They labor in vain who build it"; Ps. 127:2 = "It is vain for you to rise up early, To retire late." ; Prov. 3:30; Isa. 27:3; Isa. 28:17; Isa. 29:13; Isa. 30:4; Isa. 41:29; Jer. 2:30; Jer. 4:30; Jer. 8:8; Ezek. 14:23; Dan. 11:24

Worship (4576)(sebomai from sébas = reverential awe <> stem seb originally = “to fall back before", sacred, awe) means to hold in high esteem, show reverence or awe (veneration) by someone who his devout. Always in the middle voice indicating personal involvement in the veneration. Sebomai stresses the outward (religious) expression of inner piety. Homer uses falling back in the sense of shrinking from. The bodily movement expressed an inner attitude of respect, of being impressed by something great and lofty. The subjects might be gods or men, the objects gods, men or things. The idea of shrinking from the gods leads to the sense of awe or reverence, first in the general form of respect, then in the more specifically religious form of veneration. Sebomai then means to live a lifestyle of godliness before others. You may say you worshiped God on Sunday. What was Monday like? Did you give in to the pagan darkness around you or did you express the fact that you are serving a higher King. First, RECOGNITION. Then, the LIFESTYLE. Finally, the WORSHIP. These religious leaders failed in all three categories!

TEACHING AS DOCTRINES THE PRECEPTS OF MEN

Creationist Henry Morris says "Those professing believers who reject or distort the Scriptures in order to accommodate some humanistic doctrine (evolution, uniformitarianism, abortionism) need to study this strong warning from Christ. In context, He was talking about the extra-Biblical humanistic legalism of the Pharisees, but the principle seems applicable to any displacement of Scripture by some human precept." 

Matthew 15:10  After Jesus called the crowd to Him, He said to them, "Hear and understand.

NET  Matthew 15:10 Then he called the crowd to him and said, "Listen and understand.

NLT  Matthew 15:10 Then Jesus called to the crowd to come and hear. "Listen," he said, "and try to understand.

ESV  Matthew 15:10 And he called the people to him and said to them, "Hear and understand:

NIV  Matthew 15:10 Jesus called the crowd to him and said, "Listen and understand.

GNT  Matthew 15:10 Καὶ προσκαλεσάμενος τὸν ὄχλον εἶπεν αὐτοῖς, Ἀκούετε καὶ συνίετε·

KJV  Matthew 15:10 And he called the multitude, and said unto them, Hear, and understand:

  • he: 1Ki 22:28 Mk 7:14,16 Lu 20:45-47 
  • Hear: Mt 13:19 24:15 Isa 6:9 55:3 Lu 24:45 Eph 1:17 Col 1:9 Jas 1:5 

CHRIST CORRALS
THE CROWD

Related Passage:

Mark 7:14+ After He called the crowd to Him again, He began saying to them, “Listen to Me, all of you, and understand:

After Jesus called the crowd to Him, He said to them - Why did He have to call the crowd to Him? Neither Matthew or Mark explain exactly why, but it is possible the crowd drew back when they saw the respected scribes and Pharisees engaging Jesus in conversation. Did the crowd hear their conversation? I am not sure. 

Hear and understand - Both are in the present imperative (which is interesting as the parallel commands in Mark 7:14 are in the aorist imperative) - continually hear and continually understand which was a common idiom that meant, “Listen carefully and pay close attention,” and used to precede a message of great importance. It was not that what Jesus said would be hard to understand but that it would be hard to accept. The greatest stumbling block to salvation has always been lack of acceptance and belief of the gospel, not lack of understanding it. It is precisely when the gospel is clearest-as when it was taught by Jesus Himself-that it is also likely to be the most unacceptable. As usual, Jesus’ illustration was simple and based on the common knowledge and everyday experiences of the people. 

Understand (4920)(suniemi from sun/syn = with + hiemi = send; cf sunesis) literally means to send together or bring together. The idea is to put together "pieces of the puzzle" (so to speak) and to exhibit comprehension. Suniemi describes the ability to understand concepts and see relationships between the various concepts and see relationships between them. In short, this verb describes the exercise of the faculty of comprehension, intelligence, acuteness, shrewdness. The noun sunesis was originally used by Homer in the Odyssey to describe the running together or a flowing together of two rivers. Used 25x mostly in the Gospels - Mt. 13:13; Mt. 13:14; Mt. 13:15; Mt. 13:19; Mt. 13:23; Mt. 13:51; Mt. 15:10; Mt. 16:12; Mt. 17:13; Mk. 4:12; Mk. 6:52; Mk. 7:14; Mk. 8:17; Mk. 8:21; Lk. 2:50; Lk. 8:10; Lk. 18:34; Lk. 24:45; Acts 7:25; Acts 28:26; Acts 28:27; Ro. 3:11; Ro. 15:21; 2 Co. 10:12; Eph. 5:17

Matthew 15:11  "It is not what enters into the mouth that defiles the man, but what proceeds out of the mouth, this defiles the man."

NET  Matthew 15:11 What defiles a person is not what goes into the mouth; it is what comes out of the mouth that defiles a person."

NLT  Matthew 15:11 It's not what goes into your mouth that defiles you; you are defiled by the words that come out of your mouth."

ESV  Matthew 15:11 it is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but what comes out of the mouth; this defiles a person."

NIV  Matthew 15:11 What goes into a man's mouth does not make him 'unclean,' but what comes out of his mouth, that is what makes him 'unclean.' "

GNT  Matthew 15:11 οὐ τὸ εἰσερχόμενον εἰς τὸ στόμα κοινοῖ τὸν ἄνθρωπον, ἀλλὰ τὸ ἐκπορευόμενον ἐκ τοῦ στόματος τοῦτο κοινοῖ τὸν ἄνθρωπον.

KJV  Matthew 15:11 Not that which goeth into the mouth defileth a man; but that which cometh out of the mouth, this defileth a man.

  • It is not what enters into the mouth: Mk 7:15 Lu 11:38-41 Ac 10:14,15 11:8,9 Ro 14:14,17,20 1Ti 4:4,5 Tit 1:15 Heb 13:9 
  • but what proceeds out of the mouth: Mt 15:18-20 12:34-37 Ps 10:7 12:2 52:2-4 58:3,4 Isa 37:23 Isa 59:3-5,13-15 Jer 9:3-6 Ro 3:13,14 Jas 3:5-8 2Pe 2:18 

It is not what enters into the mouth that defiles the man, but what proceeds out of the mouth,

This defiles the man - No spiritual or moral contamination can result from what we eat. The physical has no way of defiling the spiritual. “Don’t be deceived and misled by the foolish traditions you have been taught,” Jesus was saying. “The practice of washing your hands before you eat has nothing to do with making you undefiled. What matters is what is in your heart. It is the evil in the heart.
    No Jew should have been shocked at what Jesus was saying. Just as in the Sermon on the Mount, He was not teaching new truths but was simply reinforcing truths that God’s Word had always taught. Even the most unlearned among the crowd had doubtlessly heard the story of the Lord’s choosing David to be Israel’s king in place of Saul. When Jesse brought his sons before Samuel, the prophet thought that Eliab, the eldest, was “‘surely the Lord’s anointed.’ ... But the Lord said to Samuel, ‘Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart’” (1Sa16:6,v7).
    A person’s defiled heart is expressed both in what he says and in what he does; but the mouth is the more dominant revealer of internal pollution, because it is through our words that hatred, deception, cruelty, blasphemy, and most other evils are most clearly manifest.

Matthew 15:12  Then the disciples came^ and said^ to Him, "Do You know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this statement?"

NET  Matthew 15:12 Then the disciples came to him and said, "Do you know that when the Pharisees heard this saying they were offended?"

NLT  Matthew 15:12 Then the disciples came to him and asked, "Do you realize you offended the Pharisees by what you just said?"

ESV  Matthew 15:12 Then the disciples came and said to him, "Do you know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this saying?"

NIV  Matthew 15:12 Then the disciples came to him and asked, "Do you know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this?"

GNT  Matthew 15:12 Τότε προσελθόντες οἱ μαθηταὶ λέγουσιν αὐτῷ, Οἶδας ὅτι οἱ Φαρισαῖοι ἀκούσαντες τὸν λόγον ἐσκανδαλίσθησαν;

KJV  Matthew 15:12 Then came his disciples, and said unto him, Knowest thou that the Pharisees were offended, after they heard this saying?

  • Do You know that the Pharisees: Mt 17:27 1Ki 22:13,14 1Co 10:32,33 2Co 6:3 Ga 2:5 Jas 3:17 

Then the disciples came^ and said to Him, "Do You know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this statement

Matthew 15:13  But He answered and said, "Every plant which My heavenly Father did not plant shall be uprooted.

NET  Matthew 15:13 And he replied, "Every plant that my heavenly Father did not plant will be uprooted.

NLT  Matthew 15:13 Jesus replied, "Every plant not planted by my heavenly Father will be uprooted,

ESV  Matthew 15:13 He answered, "Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be rooted up.

NIV  Matthew 15:13 He replied, "Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be pulled up by the roots.

GNT  Matthew 15:13 ὁ δὲ ἀποκριθεὶς εἶπεν, Πᾶσα φυτεία ἣν οὐκ ἐφύτευσεν ὁ πατήρ μου ὁ οὐράνιος ἐκριζωθήσεται.

KJV  Matthew 15:13 But he answered and said, Every plant, which my heavenly Father hath not planted, shall be rooted up.

  • Every: Mt 13:40,41 Ps 92:13 Isa 60:21  Joh 15:2,6 1Co 3:12-15

 But He answered and said, "Every plant which My heavenly Father did not plant shall be uprooted - This passage clearly implies "election" of some "plants" but remember that God's choosing some to be of the elect does not mean He rejects those not chosen. On the other side of this inscrutable coin, is the truth of man's free will and try as we might we cannot resolve the truth behind both election & free will (especially as we know that no man left to his own heart's desires would chose for God). What we should do is fall on our face in adoration and awe that He would chose ANYONE! We need to gird up our minds as God instructs Job (Job 38:3, 40:7) & accept with gratitude that the Creator would even chose to reveal any of this incredible truth to us. We surely have a fair too truncated concept of Perfection, Omniscience, Omnipotence, etc. O come let us adore Him. Amen.

Matthew 15:14  "Let them alone; they are blind guides of the blind. And if a blind man guides a blind man, both will fall into a pit."

BGT  Matthew 15:14 ἄφετε αὐτούς· τυφλοί εἰσιν ὁδηγοί [τυφλῶν]· τυφλὸς δὲ τυφλὸν ἐὰν ὁδηγῇ, ἀμφότεροι εἰς βόθυνον πεσοῦνται.

NET  Matthew 15:14 Leave them! They are blind guides. If someone who is blind leads another who is blind, both will fall into a pit."

NLT  Matthew 15:14 so ignore them. They are blind guides leading the blind, and if one blind person guides another, they will both fall into a ditch."

ESV  Matthew 15:14 Let them alone; they are blind guides. And if the blind lead the blind, both will fall into a pit."

NIV  Matthew 15:14 Leave them; they are blind guides. If a blind man leads a blind man, both will fall into a pit."

GNT  Matthew 15:14 ἄφετε αὐτούς· τυφλοί εἰσιν ὁδηγοί [τυφλῶν]· τυφλὸς δὲ τυφλὸν ἐὰν ὁδηγῇ, ἀμφότεροι εἰς βόθυνον πεσοῦνται.

KJV  Matthew 15:14 Let them alone: they be blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch.

  • Let: Ho 4:17 1Ti 6:5 
  • they: Mt 23:16-24 Isa 9:16 42:19 56:10 Mal 2:8 Lu 6:39 
  • And if: Jer 5:31 6:15 8:12 Eze 14:9,10 Mic 3:6,7 2Pe 2:1,17 Rev 19:20 Rev 22:15 

Let them alone; they are blind guides of the blind. And if a blind man guides a blind man, both will fall into a pit

A.T. Roberston writes: "Graphic picture. Once in Cincinnati a blind man introduced me to his blind friend. He said that he was showing him the city. Jesus is not afraid of the Pharisees. Let them alone to do their worst. Blind leaders and blind victims will land in the ditch. A proverbial expression in the O.T." 

Matthew 15:15  Peter said to Him, "Explain the parable to us."

NET  Matthew 15:15 But Peter said to him, "Explain this parable to us."

NLT  Matthew 15:15 Then Peter said to Jesus, "Explain to us the parable that says people aren't defiled by what they eat."

ESV  Matthew 15:15 But Peter said to him, "Explain the parable to us."

NIV  Matthew 15:15 Peter said, "Explain the parable to us."

GNT  Matthew 15:15 Ἀποκριθεὶς δὲ ὁ Πέτρος εἶπεν αὐτῷ, Φράσον ἡμῖν τὴν παραβολὴν [ταύτην].

KJV  Matthew 15:15 Then answered Peter and said unto him, Declare unto us this parable.

  • Explain the parable: Mt 13:36 Mk 4:34 7:17 Joh 16:29 

 Peter said to Him, "Explain the parable to us The parable that Peter wanted Jesus to explain refers to the illustration of Mt 15:11. While it was not called a parable here, clearly it is a parabolic teaching. And it was not so much that the disciples did not understand what Jesus meant as that they found it hard to accept-just as had the crowd and the scribes and Pharisees. As already mentioned, even years after Pentecost, Peter was not able to accept fully the idea that all foods were clean (Acts 10:14; Gal 2:11,12).

Matthew 15:16  Jesus said, "Are you still lacking in understanding also?

NET  Matthew 15:16 Jesus said, "Even after all this, are you still so foolish?

NLT  Matthew 15:16 "Don't you understand yet?" Jesus asked.

ESV  Matthew 15:16 And he said, "Are you also still without understanding?

NIV  Matthew 15:16 "Are you still so dull?" Jesus asked them.

GNT  Matthew 15:16 ὁ δὲ εἶπεν, Ἀκμὴν καὶ ὑμεῖς ἀσύνετοί ἐστε;

KJV  Matthew 15:16 And Jesus said, Are ye also yet without understanding?

  • Mt 15:10 13:51 16:9,11 Isa 28:9,10 Mk 6:52 7:18 8:17,18 9:32 Lu 9:45 Lu 18:34 24:45 Heb 5:12 

Jesus said, "Are you still lacking in understanding also

Matthew 15:17  "Do you not understand that everything that goes into the mouth passes into the stomach, and is eliminated?

NET  Matthew 15:17 Don't you understand that whatever goes into the mouth enters the stomach and then passes out into the sewer?

NLT  Matthew 15:17 "Anything you eat passes through the stomach and then goes into the sewer.

ESV  Matthew 15:17 Do you not see that whatever goes into the mouth passes into the stomach and is expelled?

NIV  Matthew 15:17 "Don't you see that whatever enters the mouth goes into the stomach and then out of the body?

GNT  Matthew 15:17 οὐ νοεῖτε ὅτι πᾶν τὸ εἰσπορευόμενον εἰς τὸ στόμα εἰς τὴν κοιλίαν χωρεῖ καὶ εἰς ἀφεδρῶνα ἐκβάλλεται;

KJV  Matthew 15:17 Do not ye yet understand, that whatsoever entereth in at the mouth goeth into the belly, and is cast out into the draught?

  • that: Mt 7:19,20 Lu 6:45 1Co 6:13 Col 2:21,22 Jas 3:6 
  • and is: 2Ki 10:27 

Do you not understand that everything that goes into the mouth passes into the stomach, and is eliminated

Matthew 15:18  "But the things that proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and those defile the man.

NET  Matthew 15:18 But the things that come out of the mouth come from the heart, and these things defile a person.

NLT  Matthew 15:18 But the words you speak come from the heart-- that's what defiles you.

ESV  Matthew 15:18 But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person.

NIV  Matthew 15:18 But the things that come out of the mouth come from the heart, and these make a man 'unclean.'

GNT  Matthew 15:18 τὰ δὲ ἐκπορευόμενα ἐκ τοῦ στόματος ἐκ τῆς καρδίας ἐξέρχεται, κἀκεῖνα κοινοῖ τὸν ἄνθρωπον.

KJV  Matthew 15:18 But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man.

  • Mt 15:11 12:34 1Sa 24:13 Ps 36:3 Pr 6:12 10:32 15:2,28 Lu 19:22 Jas 3:6-10 Rev 13:5,6 

But the things that proceed out of the mouth come from the heart - In short Jesus says that sin begins in the heart. The heart represents the inner person, his thoughts, attitudes, desires, loyalties, and motives. The central moral thrust of the Sermon on the Mount is that the basis of all sin is the inner thought, not the outward act. A person commits the sin when he wants to do it, whether or not he ever carries it out in action.

and those defile the man

Defile (2840)(koinoo from koinos = common, defiled, unclean, unholy, profane, that which lies common or open to all) means to make common. In Scripture, koinoo means to make unclean, to profane (treat something with irreverence or contempt), to desecrate (to treat disrepectfully, irreverentially, outrageously), to render unhallowed, to pollute, to make or cause to become ritually unacceptable. The idea of koinoo is a violation of ritual holiness.

Matthew 15:19  "For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, slanders.

NET  Matthew 15:19 For out of the heart come evil ideas, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander.

NLT  Matthew 15:19 For from the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, all sexual immorality, theft, lying, and slander.

ESV  Matthew 15:19 For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander.

NIV  Matthew 15:19 For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander.

GNT  Matthew 15:19 ἐκ γὰρ τῆς καρδίας ἐξέρχονται διαλογισμοὶ πονηροί, φόνοι, μοιχεῖαι, πορνεῖαι, κλοπαί, ψευδομαρτυρίαι, βλασφημίαι.

KJV  Matthew 15:19 For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies:

  • out: Ge 6:5 8:21 Pr 4:23 6:14 22:15 24:9 Jer 17:9 Mk 7:21-23 Ro 3:10-19 7:18 8:7,8 Ga 5:19-21 Eph 2:1-3 Tit 3:2-6 
  • evil: Mt 9:4 Ps 119:113 Isa 55:7 59:7 Jer 4:14 Ac 8:22 Jas 1:13-15 

Related Passages:

Isaiah 29:13 Then the Lord said, “Because this people draw near with their words And honor Me with their lip service, But they remove their hearts far from Me, And their reverence for Me consists of tradition learned by rote, 

Isaiah 59:13 Transgressing and denying the LORD, And turning away from our God, Speaking oppression and revolt, Conceiving in and uttering from the heart lying words. 

Ecclesiastes 9:3 This is an evil in all that is done under the sun, that there is one fate for all men. Furthermore, the hearts of the sons of men are full of evil and insanity is in their hearts throughout their lives. Afterwards they go to the dead.

Mark 7:21 “For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed the evil thoughts, fornications, thefts, murders, adulteries,

For out of the heart come - Spoken words come out of the heart and so are a true index of character. The problem with man is his heart...hard...obstinate...rebellious...cold...sick. It's the heart we inherited from Adam (thanks Adam). But because of the finished work on the Cross and the New Covenant cut for us in the Savior's blood (Heb 13:20, 21), we can obtain the much needed "heart" transplant" by which our hearts of stone are supernaturally replaced by a heart of flesh which now desires to be obedient to God (Ro 6:17) & has the inherent power of His Spirit to carry out this heretofore impossible task (Ezek 36:26,27, Acts 1:8). So now we can "kill" (mortify) the members of our earthly body in regard to these evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, etc (see Col 3:5, Ro 8:13). How desperate Jesus' listeners should have been...parched & thirsty for relief to their weary sin laden souls, desperate to drink from the living waters His cleansing blood alone could provide. But their hearts were hard & obstinate (Mt 23:37 Lu 13:34).

evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, slanders.

Matthew 15:20  "These are the things which defile the man; but to eat with unwashed hands does not defile the man."

NET  Matthew 15:20 These are the things that defile a person; it is not eating with unwashed hands that defiles a person."

NLT  Matthew 15:20 These are what defile you. Eating with unwashed hands will never defile you."

ESV  Matthew 15:20 These are what defile a person. But to eat with unwashed hands does not defile anyone."

NIV  Matthew 15:20 These are what make a man 'unclean'; but eating with unwashed hands does not make him 'unclean.' "

GNT  Matthew 15:20 ταῦτά ἐστιν τὰ κοινοῦντα τὸν ἄνθρωπον, τὸ δὲ ἀνίπτοις χερσὶν φαγεῖν οὐ κοινοῖ τὸν ἄνθρωπον.

KJV  Matthew 15:20 These are the things which defile a man: but to eat with unwashen hands defileth not a man.

  • hich: 1Co 3:16,17 6:9-11,18-20 Eph 5:3-6 Rev 21:8,27 
  • but: Mt 15:2 23:25,26 Mk 7:3,4 Lu 11:38-40 

These are the things which defile the man;

But - Term of contrast. What is Jesus contrasting?

To eat with unwashed hands does not defile the man - The things that defile the man come from an unwashed heart, not from unwashed hands. The need is for God to cleanse our hearts, not for us to wash our hands. When a person is defiled on the inside, what he does on the outside is also defiled. But when a person is pure in heart-undefiled on the inside-he will see God (Mt5:8).

Matthew 15:21  Jesus went away from there, and withdrew into the district of Tyre and Sidon.

NET  Matthew 15:21 After going out from there, Jesus went to the region of Tyre and Sidon.

NLT  Matthew 15:21 Then Jesus left Galilee and went north to the region of Tyre and Sidon.

ESV  Matthew 15:21 And Jesus went away from there and withdrew to the district of Tyre and Sidon.

NIV  Matthew 15:21 Leaving that place, Jesus withdrew to the region of Tyre and Sidon.

GNT  Matthew 15:21 Καὶ ἐξελθὼν ἐκεῖθεν ὁ Ἰησοῦς ἀνεχώρησεν εἰς τὰ μέρη Τύρου καὶ Σιδῶνος.

KJV  Matthew 15:21 Then Jesus went thence, and departed into the coasts of Tyre and Sidon.

  • and departed: Mk 7:24 
  • Tyre: Mt 10:5,6 11:21-23 Ge 49:13 Jos 11:8 13:6 19:28,29 Jdg 1:31 

Tyre and Sidon
(Click to Enlarge)

Jesus went away from there, and withdrew into the district of Tyre and Sidon.

Jesus' Ministry Beyond Galilee  (see map).  Near Tyre, Jesus cast out a demon from the daughter of a Syro-Phoenician woman (Mark 7:24-30).  Peter made his great confession at Caesarea Philippi (Matt 16:13-19).  Jesus returned to Galilee via the Decapolis region, crossing the Jordan River south of the Sea of Galilee.

Believer's Study Bible - (Mt 15:21-28) This story serves as a significant "hinge paragraph" in Matthew's Gospel. Two feeding miracles bracket a shift in the audience from rejection to reception, and more importantly, from Jew to Gentile. This story serves as the apex of the entire section, and is a crucial turning point in Matthew's Gospel (cf. Mark 7:27, note).


Vance Havner - "As Thou Wilt"    Matthew 15:21-28 Mark 7:24-30 

JESUS' ministry in the coasts of Tyre and Sidon is marked by the wonderful story of the Syrophenician woman (Matt. 15:21-28; Mark 7:24-30). He had not planned a public ministry in these parts, but Mark tells us "He could not be hid." Neither can a true Christian be hidden; men will find him out.

This woman, outside the pale of His ministry to Israel, besought Him for her demonized daughter, but we read, "He answered her not a word." Prayer often meets such a Divine silence, but few of us press on to an answer as did this needy soul. Too often we take silence to mean refusal.

The disciples, bothered by her begging, asked our Lord to respond and send her away. These poor men were continually trying to handle the cases that came to Jesus, but not in His way. He answers, "I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel," which indicates that they had meant for Him to grant her request to get rid of her. It is another clear declaration of His ministry to the Jew first. "He came unto His own and His own received Him not."

Not rebuffed at this, the woman beseeches Him, "Lord, help me," identifying herself with her daughter's need. Still stronger is the Lord's reply: "It is not good to take the children's bread and to cast it to dogs." It is a severe answer. We pass over the sternness of our Lord in these soft, sentimental days. Had the woman come with less than genuine, importunate faith, this would have sent her away insulted—this calling the Jews "children" and the Gentiles "dogs." But our Lord uses the term for little household dogs, and the woman catches the clue. "True, we may not have the bread, but surely we may share the crumbs." Here is humility and perseverance that will not be denied! It is he who is willing to take crumbs who receives bread.

Such faith draws from our Lord the gracious answer: "O woman, great is thy faith: be it unto thee even as thou wilt." Notice, it is as thou wilt. There is a faith that desires and asks, but here faith goes further and wills. Jesus tells us (Mark 11:23) that whoever shall command a mountain to be moved and shall not doubt but believe, he shall have whatever he says. Mind you, He does not say, "Whosoever shall ask God to move the mountain," but "Whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed." Here is faith that dares to command. "Concerning the work of My hands, command ye Me" (Isa. 45:11). Mark tells us that He said, "For this saying go thy way; the devil is gone out of thy daughter." Such faith always sends us on our way; and as we go we are cleansed, as it was with the lepers (Luke 17:14). The woman went, Mark tells us, and found it even as He had said. So did the nobleman (John 4:51). Oh, how rare is the faith that takes Him at His word and goes on believing!

Matthew 15:22  And a Canaanite woman from that region came out and began to cry out, saying, "Have mercy on me, Lord, Son of David; my daughter is cruelly demon-possessed."

NET  Matthew 15:22 A Canaanite woman from that area came and cried out, "Have mercy on me, Lord, Son of David! My daughter is horribly demon-possessed!"

NLT  Matthew 15:22 A Gentile woman who lived there came to him, pleading, "Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David! For my daughter is possessed by a demon that torments her severely."

ESV  Matthew 15:22 And behold, a Canaanite woman from that region came out and was crying, "Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David; my daughter is severely oppressed by a demon."

NIV  Matthew 15:22 A Canaanite woman from that vicinity came to him, crying out, "Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me! My daughter is suffering terribly from demon-possession."

GNT  Matthew 15:22 καὶ ἰδοὺ γυνὴ Χαναναία ἀπὸ τῶν ὁρίων ἐκείνων ἐξελθοῦσα ἔκραζεν λέγουσα, Ἐλέησόν με, κύριε υἱὸς Δαυίδ· ἡ θυγάτηρ μου κακῶς δαιμονίζεται.

KJV  Matthew 15:22 And, behold, a woman of Canaan came out of the same coasts, and cried unto him, saying, Have mercy on me, O Lord, thou Son of David; my daughter is grievously vexed with a devil.

  • woman: Mt 3:8,9 Ps 45:12 Eze 3:6 Mk 7:26 
  • Have: Mt 9:27 17:15 Ps 4:1 6:2 Lu 17:13 18:13 
  • Son of David: Mt 1:1 20:30,31 22:42-45 Lu 18:38,39 Joh 7:41,42 
  • my: Mt 17:15 Mk 7:25 9:17-22 

Related Passages:

Mt 1:1+  The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.

Mark 7:24-30+ Jesus got up and went away from there to the region of Tyre. And when He had entered a house, He wanted no one to know of it; yet He could not escape notice. 25 But after hearing of Him, a woman whose little daughter had an unclean spirit immediately came and fell at His feet. 26 Now the woman was a Gentile, of the Syrophoenician race. And she kept asking Him to cast the demon out of her daughter. 27 And He was saying to her, “Let the children be satisfied first, for it is not good to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.” 28 But she answered and *said to Him, “Yes, Lord, but even the dogs under the table feed on the children’s crumbs.” 29 And He said to her, “Because of this answer go; the demon has gone out of your daughter.” 30 And going back to her home, she found the child lying on the bed, the demon having left. 

And a Canaanite woman from that region came out and began to cry out, saying,

Have mercy on me, Lord, Son of David; my daughter is cruelly demon-possessed - This is an incredible miracle and a manifestation of the kindness of God that this pagan idol worshiping polytheist (in theory, but in fact she may have been and from her words probably was a Gentile fearer of God -- "God fearer" = Acts 13:16, 26+) should recognize Jesus as Who He indeed was, the prophesied "Son of David" (2Sa 7:13,16 Isa 11:1+ Jer 23:5 Jer 33:15-17, Zec 12:8+ Lu 1:31,32+ Lu 1:69,70+)

Disciple's Study Bible - The foreigner correctly identified Jesus as Messiah, but she gained healing for her daughter through persistent faith, not proper identification. The first messianic title applied to Jesus in the New Testament is Son of David. This title for Jesus provides a major link between the Old Testament and the New. Both Matthew's and Luke's genealogies are at pains to establish that Jesus is descended from David (Mt 1:6+; Lk 3:31+). This enabled early believers to claim the Old Testament promise that there would always be an heir to David's throne (2 Sa 7; Ps 132:11-12+). Compare Ro 1:3+. The crowds and individuals in need often used this title for Jesus (Mt 9:27+; Mt 15:22; 20:31; Lk 18:38+). Jesus did not use the title for Himself, possibly because it was so open to political interpretation. Jesus had to show He fulfilled Old Testament expectations. He did so by fulfilling the role of the Suffering Servant and letting all other titles be understood in that light. Thus He fulfilled the role of the true kings of Israel, that of servant (2 Sa 7:19) and shepherd (2 Sa 7:7). See note on 1 Ch 17:23-27.


Question - What does it mean that Jesus is the son of David?

Answer: Seventeen verses in the New Testament describe Jesus as the “son of David.” But the question arises, how could Jesus be the son of David if David lived approximately 1,000 years before Jesus? The answer is that Christ (the Messiah) was the fulfillment of the prophecy of the seed of David (2 Samuel 7:12–16). Jesus is the promised Messiah, which means He had to be of the lineage of David. Matthew 1 gives the genealogical proof that Jesus, in His humanity, was a direct descendant of Abraham and David through Joseph, Jesus’ legal father. The genealogy in Luke 3 traces Jesus’ lineage through His mother, Mary. Jesus is a descendant of David by adoption through Joseph and by blood through Mary. “As to his earthly life [Christ Jesus] was a descendant of David” (Romans 1:3).

Primarily, the title “Son of David” is more than a statement of physical genealogy. It is a Messianic title. When people referred to Jesus as the Son of David, they meant that He was the long-awaited Deliverer, the fulfillment of the Old Testament prophecies.

Jesus was addressed as “Lord, thou son of David” several times by people who, by faith, were seeking mercy or healing. The woman whose daughter was being tormented by a demon (Matthew 15:22) and the two blind men by the wayside (Matthew 20:30) all cried out to the Son of David for help. The titles of honor they gave Him declared their faith in Him. Calling Him “Lord” expressed their sense of His deity, dominion, and power, and calling Him “Son of David,” expressed their faith that He was the Messiah.

The Pharisees understood exactly what the people meant when they called Jesus “Son of David.” But, unlike those who cried out in faith, the Pharisees were so blinded by their own pride that they couldn’t see what the blind beggars could see—that here was the Messiah they had supposedly been waiting for all their lives. They hated Jesus because He wouldn’t give them the honor they thought they deserved, so when they heard the people hailing Jesus as the Savior, they became enraged (Matthew 21:15) and plotted to destroy Him (Luke 19:47).

Jesus further confounded the scribes and Pharisees by asking them to explain the meaning of this very title: how could it be that the Messiah is the son of David when David himself refers to Him as “my Lord” (Mark 12:35–37; cf. Psalm 110:1)? The teachers of the Law couldn’t answer the question. Jesus thereby exposed the Jewish leaders’ ineptitude as teachers and their ignorance of what the Old Testament taught as to the true nature of the Messiah, further alienating them from Him.

Jesus’ point in asking the question of Mark 12:35 was that the Messiah is more than the physical son of David. If He is David’s Lord, He must be greater than David. As Jesus says in Revelation 22:16, “I am the Root and the Offspring of David.” That is, He is both the Creator of David and the Descendant of David. Only the Son of God made flesh could say that. (Source - GotQuestions.org)

Matthew 15:23 But He did not answer her a word. And His disciples came and implored Him, saying, "Send her away, because she keeps shouting at us."

NET  Matthew 15:23 But he did not answer her a word. Then his disciples came and begged him, "Send her away, because she keeps on crying out after us."

NLT  Matthew 15:23 But Jesus gave her no reply, not even a word. Then his disciples urged him to send her away. "Tell her to go away," they said. "She is bothering us with all her begging."

ESV  Matthew 15:23 But he did not answer her a word. And his disciples came and begged him, saying, "Send her away, for she is crying out after us."

NIV  Matthew 15:23 Jesus did not answer a word. So his disciples came to him and urged him, "Send her away, for she keeps crying out after us."

GNT  Matthew 15:23 ὁ δὲ οὐκ ἀπεκρίθη αὐτῇ λόγον. καὶ προσελθόντες οἱ μαθηταὶ αὐτοῦ ἠρώτουν αὐτὸν λέγοντες, Ἀπόλυσον αὐτήν, ὅτι κράζει ὄπισθεν ἡμῶν.

KJV  Matthew 15:23 But he answered her not a word. And his disciples came and besought him, saying, Send her away; for she crieth after us.

  • Ge 42:7 De 8:2 Ps 28:1 La 3:8 
  • Send: Mt 14:15 Mk 10:47,48 

But He did not answer her a word - Jesus was not being rude. He was testing her and was stretching her faith, and she proved up to the test. 

And His disciples came - They approached Jesus after she had begun pleading with Him to heal her daughter. They are dumb to the fact that this Gentile woman is manifesting a greater faith than the majority of Jesus' fellow Jews had manifested! 

MacArthur explains that "The barriers He erected were not designed to push her away but to showcase the authenticity of her faith. Unlike the rich young ruler, whose faith crumbled when tested (cf. Matt. 19:16–22), this woman’s faith was unbreakable. That the Lord had compassion on her is borne out by the rest of this account (cf. John 6:37)." (MNTC-Mk) 

And implored Him, saying, "Send her away, because she keeps shouting at us 

Matthew 15:24  But He answered and said, "I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel."

NET  Matthew 15:24 So he answered, "I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel."

NLT  Matthew 15:24 Then Jesus said to the woman, "I was sent only to help God's lost sheep-- the people of Israel."

ESV  Matthew 15:24 He answered, "I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel."

NIV  Matthew 15:24 He answered, "I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel."

GNT  Matthew 15:24 ὁ δὲ ἀποκριθεὶς εἶπεν, Οὐκ ἀπεστάλην εἰ μὴ εἰς τὰ πρόβατα τὰ ἀπολωλότα οἴκου Ἰσραήλ.

KJV  Matthew 15:24 But he answered and said, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel.

  • I am not: Mt 9:36 10:5,6 Isa 53:6 Jer 50:6,7 Eze 34:5,6,16,23 Lu 15:4-6 Ac 3:25,26 13:46 Ro 15:8 

But He answered and said, "I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel."

Henry Morris on the lost sheep of the house of Israel -  The Lord Jesus had come into the world to die for the sin of the whole world, but He had also come as Israel's promised Messiah. His seeming harshness to the Canaanite woman is best understood as not only a test of her faith in the God of Israel, but also as a means to show His disciples that Gentiles also were included in God's plan, and that they too could have saving faith.


Question -  Why did Jesus say that He was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel (Matthew 15:24)?

Answer: Jesus was in the area of Tyre and Sidon, a coastal region in extreme northeastern Galilee (Matthew 15:21) when a Canaanite woman came to Him with a request to heal her demon-possessed daughter. For a while, Jesus did not respond to the woman’s entreaties, and she followed Him and continued to beg for mercy. Finally, the disciples, feeling that the woman was a nuisance, asked Jesus to send her away. Then Jesus said, “I was not sent except to the lost sheep of the house of Israel” (Matthew 15:24).

We should understand Jesus’ words here not as an outright rejection of the Gentiles—moments later, He heals the woman’s daughter (Matthew 15:28)—but as a fulfillment of prophecy, a setting of priorities, and a test of the woman’s faith.

In Jeremiah 50:6, God calls Israel His people and “lost sheep.” The Messiah, spoken of throughout the Old Testament, was seen as the one who would gather these “lost sheep” (Ezekiel 34:23-24; Micah 5:4-5). When Jesus presented Himself as a shepherd to Israel, He was claiming to be the fulfillment of Messianic prophecy (Mark 6:34, 14:27; John 10:11-16; see also Hebrews 13:20; 1 Peter 5:4; and Revelation 7:17).

Jesus’ words to the Canaanite woman also show an awareness of Israel’s place in God’s plan of salvation. God revealed through Moses that the children of Israel were “a holy people to the LORD . . . chosen . . . a special treasure above all the peoples on the face of the earth” (Deuteronomy 7:6). It was through the Jews that God issued His Law, preserved His Word, and sent His Son. This is why, elsewhere, Jesus tells a Samaritan that “salvation is of the Jews” (John 4:22). In Matthew 15, when the Jewish Messiah says that He was sent to “the house of Israel,” He is simply connecting His presence with God’s purpose in Old Testament history. Christ was “born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law” (Galatians 4:4-5).

Every ministry must have priorities, and Christ’s ministry was no exception. When Jesus sent His disciples to preach the good news of the kingdom, He expressly told them, “Do not go into the way of the Gentiles, and do not enter a city of the Samaritans. But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel” (Matthew 10:5-6). Jesus did not forbid their preaching to all Gentiles; He did, however, narrow their focus to the areas which should be most receptive—those who knew the Law and were expecting the Messiah. Paul, in his missionary journeys, followed the same priority of preaching to the Jews first (Romans 1:16).

Finally, Jesus’ words to the Canaanite woman served as a test of her faith. She came to Jesus believing that He was the “Lord,” the “Son of David,” and the giver of mercy (Matthew 15:22). His delayed answer and seemingly exclusionary statement brought from her a further, passionate, public expression of her faith in His unlimited power (Matthew 15:27).

This act of compassion and healing of a Gentile is a beautiful picture of Christ’s ministry to the whole world—the Jewish Messiah is also the Savior of all who will believe (Matthew 28:19; John 10:16; Acts 10:34-36; Revelation 5:9). (Source - Gotquestions)


Related Resource:

Matthew 15:25  But she came and began to bow down before Him, saying, "Lord, help me!"

NET  Matthew 15:25 But she came and bowed down before him and said, "Lord, help me!"

NLT  Matthew 15:25 But she came and worshiped him, pleading again, "Lord, help me!"

ESV  Matthew 15:25 But she came and knelt before him, saying, "Lord, help me."

NIV  Matthew 15:25 The woman came and knelt before him. "Lord, help me!" she said.

GNT  Matthew 15:25 ἡ δὲ ἐλθοῦσα προσεκύνει αὐτῷ λέγουσα, Κύριε, βοήθει μοι.

KJV  Matthew 15:25 Then came she and worshipped him, saying, Lord, help me.

  • came: Mt 20:31 Ge 32:26 Ho 12:4 Lu 11:8-10 18:1-8 
  • worshipped: Mt 14:33 
  • Lord: Mk 9:22,24 

But she came and began to bow down before Him, saying, "Lord, help me!"

Matthew 15:26  And He answered and said, "It is not good to take the children's bread and throw it to the dogs."

NET  Matthew 15:26 "It is not right to take the children's bread and throw it to the dogs," he said.

NLT  Matthew 15:26 Jesus responded, "It isn't right to take food from the children and throw it to the dogs."

ESV  Matthew 15:26 And he answered, "It is not right to take the children's bread and throw it to the dogs."

NIV  Matthew 15:26 He replied, "It is not right to take the children's bread and toss it to their dogs."

GNT  Matthew 15:26 ὁ δὲ ἀποκριθεὶς εἶπεν, Οὐκ ἔστιν καλὸν λαβεῖν τὸν ἄρτον τῶν τέκνων καὶ βαλεῖν τοῖς κυναρίοις.

KJV  Matthew 15:26 But he answered and said, It is not meet to take the children's bread, and to cast it to dogs.

  • It is not: Mt 7:6 Mk 7:27,28 Ac 22:21,22 Ro 9:4 Ga 2:15 Eph 2:12 Php 3:2 Rev 22:15 

And He answered and said, "It is not good to take the children's bread and throw it to the dogs - If you literally take the children's bread and throw to the dogs, the children will go physically hungry. And yet this is almost a parabolic statement, for Jesus uses "children" to speak of the Jews. And while not specifically stated, the "bread" could easily be viewed as a veiled reference to Himself as the "Bread of Life." (Jn 6:35, 48+) He was to go first to "feed" the Jews the Gospel of Jesus Christ (Mk 1:1+), but sadly "He came to His own (JEWS ~ "THE CHILDREN"), and those who were His own did not receive (BUT IN FACT LARGELY REJECTED) Him. 12 But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God (JEWS AND GENTILES NOW IN ONE FAMILY), even to those who believe in His name, 13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God (Jn 3:3-7+). (Jn 1:11-13+)

Wuest makes a great point about Jesus going first to the Jews - The Jews looked upon all Gentiles as dogs. It was a term of reproach. Paul called the Judaizers, dogs when he said (Phil. 3:2+), “Beware of the dogs.” But our Lord did not use the Greek word kuōn here, the term for a dog. And He must have spoken Greek to this woman, for she would not know the Aramaic of the Jews. Greek was the international language of the day. The word Jesus used was kunarion “a little dog.” In answering the woman thus, He was just staying by His commission, to the Jew first, and then to the Gentile. And that order of procedure was not favoritism, but only the method of reaching the large number through a selected smaller group. The Jew was the chosen channel through which God has elected to reach the Gentiles. It would be just a wise efficiency to thus go to the Jew first. The Messiah, sent to Israel, was careful to preserve that order. And even when about to minister to a Gentile to whom His compassionate heart went out, He was careful to remind her of the fact that she came second, not first, in the great program of God.

Dogs (2952)(kunarion) is the term for a little dog or puppy or what we might refer to as a "house dog." TDNT makes an interesting comment that "is probably chosen by Jesus in Mk. 7:27; Mt. 25:26 to show that there is a distinction between Jews and Gentiles but still to give the Gentiles a place in the house. The woman in her reply accepts the distinction but in so doing takes the place that is offered and finds the help she seeks." In sum, Jesus is not talking about a street scavenger but a household pet. Used 4x - Matt. 15:26; Matt. 15:27; Mk. 7:27; Mk. 7:28. No uses in the Septuagint. 

Wuest - He uses the illustration of the children of the household at the table, and their little pets under the table. It is seemly, proper, (kalon (καλον)), He says, to see that the children are fed first, then the little dogs, their pets.

Chuck Smith on dogs - wild scavenger dogs that were hated by everybody. They would run in packs; they would attack sheep, they would attack children. And they were ferocious, vicious, hated animals. And it was very common for the Jews to call the Gentile Gentile dogs. And the word is equivalent to our English word bitch where it is a derogatory term. And so, they would use it, the word dog like a person would use the other word today, in a very derisive, derogatory way....There is another Greek word for dog, which is the word that Jesus used. It is that little household pet that"s always under the table, that little pet of the family. And most of the Jewish homes had their little pet dogs, which were domesticated and lovable little animals under the table. 

Henry Morris  The "dogs" under the table (Mark 7:28) were understood to be small household pets. On the reasons for the seeming harshness of Jesus' reply to this Gentile woman, note that the Lord Jesus had come into the world to die for the sin of the whole world, but He had also come as Israel's promised Messiah. His seeming harshness to the Canaanite woman is best understood as not only a test of her faith in the God of Israel, but also as a means to show His disciples that Gentiles also were included in God's plan, and that they too could have saving faith.

Believer's Study Bible - Jesus was neither indifferent nor insensitive in His reply to the Syro-Phoenician woman. His approach is designed to test her faith and to demonstrate the extent of her faith to the disciples. The "little dogs" refer to small dogs which were kept as house pets. The parallel passage in Matt. 15:21-28 indicates that Jesus meant that His ministry was first taken to Israel and then subsequently to the Gentiles (cf. Acts 13:46; Rom. 1:16). This woman, while recognizing this, demonstrated great faith. As a result, Jesus honored her request. Believers today can rejoice because in the church there are no racial distinctions (cf. Gal. 3:28; Eph. 2:11-22; Col. 3:11).


Question -  Why did Jesus call the Canaanite woman a dog?

Answer: In Matthew 15:21–28, Jesus encounters a Canaanite (Syrophoenician) woman who begs Him to cure her daughter. Jesus initially refuses her request by saying, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to the dogs” (Matthew 15:26). Taken out of context, and especially in English, it’s easy to mistake this for an insult. In the flow of the story, however, it’s clear Jesus is creating a metaphor meant to explain the priorities of His ministry. He is also teaching an important lesson to His disciples.

Jews in Jesus’ day sometimes referred to Gentiles as “dogs.” In Greek, this word is kuon, meaning “wild cur” (Matthew 7:6; Luke 16:21; Philippians 3:2). Non-Jews were considered so unspiritual that even being in their presence could make a person ceremonially unclean (John 18:28). Much of Jesus’ ministry, however, involved turning expectations and prejudices on their heads (Matthew 11:19; John 4:9–10). According to Matthew’s narrative, Jesus left Israel and went into Tyre and Sidon, which was Gentile territory (Matthew 15:21). When the Canaanite woman approached and repeatedly asked for healing, the disciples were annoyed and asked Jesus to send her away (Matthew 15:23).

At this point, Jesus explained His current ministry in a way that both the woman and the watching disciples could understand. At that time, His duty was to the people of Israel, not to the Gentiles (Matthew 15:24). Recklessly taking His attention from Israel, in violation of His mission, would be like a father taking food from his children in order to throw it to their pets (Matthews 15:26). The exact word Jesus used here, in Greek, was kunarion, meaning “small dog” or “pet dog.” This is a completely different word from the term kuon, used to refer to unspiritual people or to an “unclean” animal.

Jesus frequently tested people to prove their intentions, often through response questions or challenges (see John 4:16–18; and 4:50–53). His response to the Canaanite woman is similar. In testing her, Jesus declined her request and explained that she had no legitimate expectation of His help. The woman, however, lived out the principle Jesus Himself taught in the parable of the persistent widow (Luke 18:1–8). Her response proved that she understood fully what Jesus was saying, yet had enough conviction to ask anyway (Matthew 15:27). Jesus acknowledged her faith—calling it “great”—and granted her request (Matthew 15:28).

So, according to both the context and language involved, Jesus wasn’t referring to the Canaanite woman as a “dog,” either directly or indirectly. He wasn’t using an epithet or racial slur but making a point about the priorities He’d been given by God. He was also testing the faith of the woman and teaching an important lesson to His disciples. (Source: GotQuestions.org)

Matthew 15:27  But she said, "Yes, Lord; but even the dogs feed on the crumbs which fall from their masters' table."

NET  Matthew 15:27 "Yes, Lord," she replied, "but even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters' table."

NLT  Matthew 15:27 She replied, "That's true, Lord, but even dogs are allowed to eat the scraps that fall beneath their master's table."

ESV  Matthew 15:27 She said, "Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters' table."

NIV  Matthew 15:27 "Yes, Lord," she said, "but even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters' table."

GNT  Matthew 15:27 ἡ δὲ εἶπεν, Ναὶ κύριε, καὶ γὰρ τὰ κυνάρια ἐσθίει ἀπὸ τῶν ψιχίων τῶν πιπτόντων ἀπὸ τῆς τραπέζης τῶν κυρίων αὐτῶν.

KJV  Matthew 15:27 And she said, Truth, Lord: yet the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their masters' table.

  • Truth: Mt 8:8 Ge 32:10 Job 40:4,5 42:2-6 Ps 51:4,5 Eze 16:63 Da 9:18 Lu 7:6,7 15:18,19 18:13 23:40-42 Ro 3:4,19 1Co 15:8,9 1Ti 1:13-15 
  • yet: Mt 5:45 Lu 16:21 Ro 3:29 10:12 Eph 3:8,19 

But she said, "Yes, Lord; but even the dogs feed on the crumbs which fall from their masters' table."

Matthew 15:28  Then Jesus said to her, "O woman, your faith is great; it shall be done for you as you wish." And her daughter was healed at once.

NET  Matthew 15:28 Then Jesus answered her, "Woman, your faith is great! Let what you want be done for you." And her daughter was healed from that hour.

NLT  Matthew 15:28 "Dear woman," Jesus said to her, "your faith is great. Your request is granted." And her daughter was instantly healed.

ESV  Matthew 15:28 Then Jesus answered her, "O woman, great is your faith! Be it done for you as you desire." And her daughter was healed instantly.

NIV  Matthew 15:28 Then Jesus answered, "Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted." And her daughter was healed from that very hour.

GNT  Matthew 15:28 τότε ἀποκριθεὶς ὁ Ἰησοῦς εἶπεν αὐτῇ, Ὦ γύναι, μεγάλη σου ἡ πίστις· γενηθήτω σοι ὡς θέλεις. καὶ ἰάθη ἡ θυγάτηρ αὐτῆς ἀπὸ τῆς ὥρας ἐκείνης.

KJV  Matthew 15:28 Then Jesus answered and said unto her, O woman, great is thy faith: be it unto thee even as thou wilt. And her daughter was made whole from that very hour.

  • Jesus: Job 13:15 23:10 La 3:32 
  • O woman: Our Lord's purpose being now answered, he openly commended her faith, and assured her that her daughter was healed.
  • great: Mt 8:10 14:31 1Sa 2:30 Lu 17:5 Ro 4:19,20 2Th 1:3 
  • be it: Mt 8:13 9:29,30 Ps 145:19 Mk 5:34 7:29,30 9:23,24 Lu 7:9,50 Lu 18:42,43  Joh 4:50-53 

Then Jesus said to her, "O woman, your faith is great; it shall be done for you as you wish." And her daughter was healed at once.

Matthew 15:29  Departing from there, Jesus went along by the Sea of Galilee, and having gone up on the mountain, He was sitting there.

NET  Matthew 15:29 When he left there, Jesus went along the Sea of Galilee. Then he went up a mountain, where he sat down.

NLT  Matthew 15:29 Jesus returned to the Sea of Galilee and climbed a hill and sat down.

ESV  Matthew 15:29 Jesus went on from there and walked beside the Sea of Galilee. And he went up on the mountain and sat down there.

NIV  Matthew 15:29 Jesus left there and went along the Sea of Galilee. Then he went up on a mountainside and sat down.

GNT  Matthew 15:29 Καὶ μεταβὰς ἐκεῖθεν ὁ Ἰησοῦς ἦλθεν παρὰ τὴν θάλασσαν τῆς Γαλιλαίας, καὶ ἀναβὰς εἰς τὸ ὄρος ἐκάθητο ἐκεῖ.

KJV  Matthew 15:29 And Jesus departed from thence, and came nigh unto the sea of Galilee; and went up into a mountain, and sat down there.

  • and came: Mk 7:31 
  • to: Mt 4:18 Jos 12:3, Chinneroth, Isa 9:1 Mk 1:16 Lu 5:1, lake of Gennesaret, Joh 6:1,23 21:1, Tiberias
  • gone up: Mt 5:1 13:2 

Departing from there, Jesus went along by the Sea of Galilee, and having gone up on the mountain, He was sitting there - "After departing from there, the region of Tyre and Sidon where that woman lived (Mt 15:21), Jesus went along by the Sea of Galilee, and having gone up to the mountain, He was sitting there. We learn from Mark that Jesus went around the Sea of Galilee, apparently on the east side, stopping in “the region of Decapolis” (Mark 7:31), another Gentile area. Although His primary ministry was still to the Jews, the Lord continually reached out beyond the covenant people, giving a preview of the extension of the kingdom into the whole world (cf. Matt. 28:19; Acts 1:8)." (MacArthur)

Matthew 15:30  And large crowds came to Him, bringing with them those who were lame, crippled, blind, mute, and many others, and they laid them down at His feet; and He healed them.

NET  Matthew 15:30 Then large crowds came to him bringing with them the lame, blind, crippled, mute, and many others. They laid them at his feet, and he healed them.

NLT  Matthew 15:30 A vast crowd brought to him people who were lame, blind, crippled, those who couldn't speak, and many others. They laid them before Jesus, and he healed them all.

ESV  Matthew 15:30 And great crowds came to him, bringing with them the lame, the blind, the crippled, the mute, and many others, and they put them at his feet, and he healed them,

NIV  Matthew 15:30 Great crowds came to him, bringing the lame, the blind, the crippled, the mute and many others, and laid them at his feet; and he healed them.

GNT  Matthew 15:30 καὶ προσῆλθον αὐτῷ ὄχλοι πολλοὶ ἔχοντες μεθ᾽ ἑαυτῶν χωλούς, τυφλούς, κυλλούς, κωφούς, καὶ ἑτέρους πολλοὺς καὶ ἔρριψαν αὐτοὺς παρὰ τοὺς πόδας αὐτοῦ, καὶ ἐθεράπευσεν αὐτούς·

KJV  Matthew 15:30 And great multitudes came unto him, having with them those that were lame, blind, dumb, maimed, and many others, and cast them down at Jesus' feet; and he healed them:

  • large: Mt 4:23,24 11:4,5 14:35,36 Ps 103:3 Isa 35:5,6 Mk 1:32-34 Mk 6:54-56 Lu 6:17-19 7:21,22 Ac 2:22 5:15,16 19:11,12 

MESSIAH HEALS ALL
WHO ARE LAID AT HIS FEET

And large crowds came to Him - John Broadus - Here, seated on a point in the mountain range, probably in view of the lake, He wrought many miracles of healing, and again fed the multitudes. In this case a large proportion of those present must have been Gentiles, as the Ten Cities were more a Gentile than a Jewish district. He must have spent at least several days in this region, since it required some time for his presence to become generally known, and the Four Thousand had been ‘three days’ (Mt 15:32) in close attendance on his ministry.

Broadus on large crowds - Great multitudes, literally, many crowds, as in so many other passages. We have here another general account of numerous miracles. (Comp. Mt 4:23; 8:16; 9:35; 12:15 f.) One of those wrought at this time and place was the healing of a deaf and dumb man, described by Mark alone. (Mk 7:32–37+.)

bringing with them those who were lame, crippled, blind, mute Broadus on crippled (kullos = crooked, bent; of bodily limbs crippled, deformed - 4x = Matt. 15:30; Matt. 15:31; Matt. 18:8; Mk. 9:43) - The word (kullos) rendered maimed signifies crooked, bent, contracted; it is sometimes applied to cases of mutilation, the loss of some part of the body (Mt 18:8), which is the meaning of our word maimed, but is not often so used, and probably the best English word here would be Crippled.’ Malchus’ ear (Mt 26:31) is the only recorded instance of our Lord’s miraculously restoring a missing part of the body.

And many others  - So many they could not even be named. After all Jesus was the Great Physician and no disease would escape His "diagnosis" and total cure! 

and they laid them down at His feet; and He healed them - No exceptions stated. He healed them all!  Vincent says "Very graphic. Lit., flung them down; not carelessly, but in haste, because so many were coming on the same errand." 

Healed (cured)(2323) therapeuo from therapon = an attendant, servant) means primarily to care for, to wait upon, minister to. It has two main senses in the NT, one speaking of rendering service (Acts 17:25) and the more common use describing medical aspects such as to take care of the sick, to heal, to cure (Matt. 4:24; 12:10; Mark 1:34; Luke 6:7; 10:9),  to recover health, to restore. Therapeúō means to heal miraculously in Matt. 4:23, 24; 10:1, 8; Acts 4:14. Providing care to improve a situation. 

Matthew 15:31  So the crowd marveled as they saw the mute speaking, the crippled restored, and the lame walking, and the blind seeing; and they glorified the God of Israel.

NET  Matthew 15:31 As a result, the crowd was amazed when they saw the mute speaking, the crippled healthy, the lame walking, and the blind seeing, and they praised the God of Israel.

NLT  Matthew 15:31 The crowd was amazed! Those who hadn't been able to speak were talking, the crippled were made well, the lame were walking, and the blind could see again! And they praised the God of Israel.

ESV  Matthew 15:31 so that the crowd wondered, when they saw the mute speaking, the crippled healthy, the lame walking, and the blind seeing. And they glorified the God of Israel.

NIV  Matthew 15:31 The people were amazed when they saw the mute speaking, the crippled made well, the lame walking and the blind seeing. And they praised the God of Israel.

GNT  Matthew 15:31 ὥστε τὸν ὄχλον θαυμάσαι βλέποντας κωφοὺς λαλοῦντας, κυλλοὺς ὑγιεῖς καὶ χωλοὺς περιπατοῦντας καὶ τυφλοὺς βλέποντας· καὶ ἐδόξασαν τὸν θεὸν Ἰσραήλ.

KJV  Matthew 15:31 Insomuch that the multitude wondered, when they saw the dumb to speak, the maimed to be whole, the lame to walk, and the blind to see: and they glorified the God of Israel.

  • mute: Mt 9:33 Mk 7:37 
  • the maimed: Mt 18:8 Mk 9:43 Lu 14:13,21 
  • the lame: Mt 21:14 Ac 3:2-11 14:8-10 
  • and they: Mt 9:8 Ps 50:15,23 Mk 2:12 Lu 7:16 17:15-18 18:43  Joh 9:24 
  • God: Ge 32:28 33:20 Ex 24:10 

GENTILES MARVEL
AT MESSIAH'S MIRACLES

So the crowd marveled as they saw the mute speaking, the crippled restored, and the lame walking, and the blind seeing - This predominantly Gentile crowd was struck with awe with instantaneous healings one after another! Mark has “they were utterly astonished, saying, ‘He has done all things well’ ” (Mk 7:37+).

 

Marveled (2296)(thaumazo from thauma [from thaomai = to wonder] = wonder, admiration) means to wonder, marvel, be struck with admiration or astonishment. To be surprised by the unexpected. Thaumazo describes the human response when confronted by divine revelation in some form (Mt 9.33). Be surprised (Gal 1:6). It denotes incredulous surprise. Thaumazo was a rhetorical device used in law courts and politics to attack things done by the opposition party. NIDNTT on Thaumazo in Classic Greek - The word-group associated with thauma is found in Gk. from the 8th and 7th centuries, to designate that which by its appearance arouses astonishment and amazement. The root is cognate with theaomai, to look at. TDNT on Classic Greek uses - The group has first the sense of astonishment, whether critical or inquisitive, then admiration, with a nuance of awe or fear at what is unusual or mysterious, e.g., miracles or oracles in religion, also magical acts or media, and certain phenomena (prior to their explanation) in philosophy. Uses in Matthew - Matt. 8:10; Matt. 8:27; Matt. 9:33; Matt. 15:31; Matt. 21:20; Matt. 22:22; Matt. 27:14;

And they glorified the God of Israel - "In Mt 9:8 it is simply ‘and they glorified God.’ But it was natural to mention that these heathen people glorified ‘the God of Israel." (Broadus)

MacArthur - The wonder of these Gentiles was greater than the wonder of the Jews, whose awe was often tempered by spiritual pride and skepticism. When the crowd at Decapolis saw the perfection of the healings, they knew the power behind them was divine—in great contrast to the Pharisees who charged Jesus with casting out demons by Satan’s power (Matt. 12:24). Knowing that their pagan gods could not perform such marvels, and would not have been inclined to perform them if they could, the people from Decapolis glorified the God of Israel. They were not fully aware of who Jesus was, but they knew He was a Jew and that He served the God of Israel, and they glorified His God in praise and reverent fear. Their excitement and gratitude over being healed or seeing their loved ones and friends healed made them spontaneously praise the Lord. (MNTC- Mt)

Matthew 15:32  And Jesus called His disciples to Him, and said, "I feel compassion for the people, because they have remained with Me now three days and have nothing to eat; and I do not want to send them away hungry, for they might faint on the way."

NET  Matthew 15:32 Then Jesus called the disciples and said, "I have compassion on the crowd, because they have already been here with me three days and they have nothing to eat. I don't want to send them away hungry since they may faint on the way."

NLT  Matthew 15:32 Then Jesus called his disciples and told them, "I feel sorry for these people. They have been here with me for three days, and they have nothing left to eat. I don't want to send them away hungry, or they will faint along the way."

ESV  Matthew 15:32 Then Jesus called his disciples to him and said, "I have compassion on the crowd because they have been with me now three days and have nothing to eat. And I am unwilling to send them away hungry, lest they faint on the way."

NIV  Matthew 15:32 Jesus called his disciples to him and said, "I have compassion for these people; they have already been with me three days and have nothing to eat. I do not want to send them away hungry, or they may collapse on the way."

GNT  Matthew 15:32 Ὁ δὲ Ἰησοῦς προσκαλεσάμενος τοὺς μαθητὰς αὐτοῦ εἶπεν, Σπλαγχνίζομαι ἐπὶ τὸν ὄχλον, ὅτι ἤδη ἡμέραι τρεῖς προσμένουσίν μοι καὶ οὐκ ἔχουσιν τί φάγωσιν· καὶ ἀπολῦσαι αὐτοὺς νήστεις οὐ θέλω, μήποτε ἐκλυθῶσιν ἐν τῇ ὁδῷ.

KJV  Matthew 15:32 Then Jesus called his disciples unto him, and said, I have compassion on the multitude, because they continue with me now three days, and have nothing to eat: and I will not send them away fasting, lest they faint in the way.

  • Jesus: Mt 9:36 14:14 20:34 Mk 8:1,2 9:22 Lu 7:13 
  • I feel: Heb 4:15 
  • three: Mt 12:40 27:63 Ac 27:33 
  • and have: Mt 6:32,33 Lu 12:29,30 
  • for they might faint: 1Sa 14:28-31 30:11,12 Mk 8:3 

Related Passages:

Mark 8:1-10+ In those days, when there was again a large crowd and they had nothing to eat, Jesus called His disciples and *said to them, 2 “I feel compassion for the people because they have remained with Me now three days and have nothing to eat. 

And Jesus called His disciples to Him, and said, "I feel compassion for the people - In Mt 9:36 and Mt 14:14 Matthew says Jesus felt compassion, but here Jesus Himself states His deep feeling for the masses of people. He is the same today (Hebrews 13:8). Here Jesus had compassion not just for their spiritual needs but their physical needs (not just healing, but feeding).

Our English word compassion is from Latin and means to suffer with and as one source has said is “a feeling of deep sympathy and sorrow, accompanied by a strong desire to alleviate the pain and remove its cause.”

 

Feel compassion (4697)(splanchnizomai from splagchnon = bowel, viscera - see splagchnon note below) means to experience a deep visceral feeling for someone, to feel compassion for, to feel sympathy, to take pity on someone. Compassion is the sympathetic consciousness of others’ distress together with a desire to alleviate it. This verb expresses an outward flow of one's life in contrast to our natural tendency toward self centeredness. It is notable that 8/12 NT uses describe this deep seated emotion in Jesus. It follows that if we desire to imitate Jesus, we need to be men and women of deep compassion! 12x in NT - Matt. 9:36; Matt. 14:14; Matt. 15:32; Matt. 18:27; Matt. 20:34; Mk. 1:41; Mk. 6:34; Mk. 8:2; Mk. 9:22; Lk. 7:13; Lk. 10:33; Lk. 15:20

THOUGHT - Obviously the multitudes greatest need was spiritual food, but we see Jesus' compassion specifically directed to their physical needs. This is a good lesson for us to remember, for compassionate deeds may open doors for giving out the Gospel to address spiritual needs. 

because - Term of explanation. Explains why Jesus felt compassion. 

they have remained with Me now three days and have nothing to eat - "They had no doubt brought some food with them, which was now exhausted. They showed great zeal to see and hear and be healed, remaining so long in the thinly inhabited region, sleeping on the ground two nights in the open air, living on the food brought with them, and slow to leave when it was gone." (Broadus)

Vincent - two verbs are used: the verb I will expressing Jesus’ feeling or disposition. The Greek order is, and to send them away fasting I am not willing. Therefore Rev. is better: I would not.

and I do not want to send them away hungry - Want (present tense = "I am not willing") is thelo which primarily refers to exercising of one's will with the underlying sense of to be willing, to desire, to want or to wish. Vine says thelo "expresses not simply a desire, but a determined and constant exercise of the will."  Wuest adds thelo expresses "a desire that comes from one's emotions" in this case Jesus' splanchnizomai.

For Term of explanation. Explains why He does not want to send them away.

They might faint on the way - NIV =  "they may collapse on the way." Literally., be unstrung or relaxed. (Vincent)

Faint (1590)(ekluo from ek = out or intensifier + luo = to loose) means literally to loosen out and so to be unstrung (secular use = to unstring a bow) and so ""to have one's strength relaxed" (Thayer). Even as a bowstring goes limp when unstrung, the people would also go limp.To relax effort. To be without strength, extremely weary, exhausted in strength, ready to give out. Ekluo was used to describe reapers who had been overcome by heat and toil. Used 5x in NT - Mt. 15:32; Mk. 8:3; Gal. 6:9; Heb. 12:3; Heb. 12:5 

Matthew 15:33  The disciples said to Him, "Where would we get so many loaves in this desolate place to satisfy such a large crowd?"

NET  Matthew 15:33 The disciples said to him, "Where can we get enough bread in this desolate place to satisfy so great a crowd?"

NLT  Matthew 15:33 The disciples replied, "Where would we get enough food here in the wilderness for such a huge crowd?"

ESV  Matthew 15:33 And the disciples said to him, "Where are we to get enough bread in such a desolate place to feed so great a crowd?"

NIV  Matthew 15:33 His disciples answered, "Where could we get enough bread in this remote place to feed such a crowd?"

GNT  Matthew 15:33 καὶ λέγουσιν αὐτῷ οἱ μαθηταί, Πόθεν ἡμῖν ἐν ἐρημίᾳ ἄρτοι τοσοῦτοι ὥστε χορτάσαι ὄχλον τοσοῦτον;

KJV  Matthew 15:33 And his disciples say unto him, Whence should we have so much bread in the wilderness, as to fill so great a multitude?

  • Whence: Nu 11:21,22 2Ki 4:42-44 Mk 6:37 8:4,5 Joh 6:5-7 
  • to fill: Mt 14:15 Lu 9:13  Joh 6:8,9 

Related Passages:

Mark 8:4+ And His disciples answered Him, “Where will anyone be able to find enough bread here in this desolate place to satisfy these people?” 

The disciples said to Him, "Where would we get so many loaves in this desolate place to satisfy such a large crowd - Desolate place is eremia  describing an "uninhabited or lonely region, normally with sparse vegetation." (4x in NT - Mt 15:33; Mk 8:4; 2 Co 11:26; Heb 11:38) (BDAG)

Broadus on desolate place "or a desert place, a wild country with few inhabitants, see on Mt 14:13 and Mt 3:1. Only a region containing large towns could at short notice furnish food for such a multitude, and this wild country was a good many miles from the nearest cities of Decapolis."

Robertson -  It seems strange that they should so soon have forgotten the feeding of the five thousand (Mt. 14:13–21+), but they did. Soon Jesus will remind them of both these demonstrations of his power (Mt 16:9,10). They forgot both of them, not just one. 

MacArthur has an interesting comment - Why did they not simply expect Jesus to perform a miracle like the one He had performed only a month or so earlier? They probably did. They could not possibly have forgotten the earlier occasion, especially since they were directly involved in distributing the food to some twenty-five thousand people as Jesus multiplied it. The reason for their question about where to find food seems to be that they were simply acknowledging again their own lack of resources. They were saying, in effect, “Lord we are no more able to feed this crowd by ourselves than we were able to feed the other one. This group is smaller, but four thousand men and their families are just as impossible for us to feed as five thousand.”...The disciples did not doubt that Jesus could also miraculously feed this group; nor had they forgotten the previous feeding. (MACARTHUR IS CLEARLY CUTTING THE DISCIPLES SLACK AS WE SAY) The first idea is totally improbable and the second is impossible. Rather, their reply to Jesus emphasized that they knew the Lord could satisfy such a multitude but that they could not. He had no less power than before, and they had no more. (Ibid)

Matthew 15:34  And Jesus said to them, "How many loaves do you have?" And they said, "Seven, and a few small fish."

NET  Matthew 15:34 Jesus said to them, "How many loaves do you have?" They replied, "Seven– and a few small fish."

NLT  Matthew 15:34 Jesus asked, "How much bread do you have?" They replied, "Seven loaves, and a few small fish."

ESV  Matthew 15:34 And Jesus said to them, "How many loaves do you have?" They said, "Seven, and a few small fish."

NIV  Matthew 15:34 "How many loaves do you have?" Jesus asked. "Seven," they replied, "and a few small fish."

GNT  Matthew 15:34 καὶ λέγει αὐτοῖς ὁ Ἰησοῦς, Πόσους ἄρτους ἔχετε; οἱ δὲ εἶπαν, Ἑπτὰ καὶ ὀλίγα ἰχθύδια.

KJV  Matthew 15:34 And Jesus saith unto them, How many loaves have ye? And they said, Seven, and a few little fishes.

  • How: Mt 16:9,10 
  • few: Lu 24:41,42  Joh 21:9,10 

Related Passages:

Mark 8:5+ And He was asking them, “How many loaves do you have?” And they said, “Seven.” 6 And He directed the people to sit down on the ground; and taking the seven loaves, He gave thanks and broke them, and started giving them to His disciples to serve to them, and they served them to the people. 7 They also had a few small fish; and after He had blessed them, He ordered these to be served as well. 8 And they ate and were satisfied; and they picked up seven large baskets full of what was left over of the broken pieces. 9About four thousand were there; and He sent them away. 10And immediately He entered the boat with His disciples and came to the district of Dalmanutha. 

And Jesus said to them, "How many loaves do you have?" And they said, "Seven, and a few small fish." - Small fish is "The diminutive form emphasizes the fact that the supply was meagre; in v. 36 it is the common word for ‘fishes.’ Here again the people are commanded to recline on the ground, and probably in companies and rows as before (Mark 6:39 f.), though nothing is here said of it." (Broadus)

Matthew 15:35  And He directed the people to sit down on the ground;

NET  Matthew 15:35 After instructing the crowd to sit down on the ground,

NLT  Matthew 15:35 So Jesus told all the people to sit down on the ground.

ESV  Matthew 15:35 And directing the crowd to sit down on the ground,

NIV  Matthew 15:35 He told the crowd to sit down on the ground.

GNT  Matthew 15:35 καὶ παραγγείλας τῷ ὄχλῳ ἀναπεσεῖν ἐπὶ τὴν γῆν

KJV  Matthew 15:35 And he commanded the multitude to sit down on the ground.

  • sit: Mt 14:19-21 Mk 6:39,40 Lu 9:14-16 Joh 6:10 

Related Passages:

Mark 8:6+ And He directed the people to sit down on the ground; and taking the seven loaves, He gave thanks and broke them, and started giving them to His disciples to serve to them, and they served them to the people.

And He directed the people to sit down on the ground - Notice there is no mention of “grass” as in Mt 14:19. This would support that the feeding of the 4000 was more likely midsummer, the grass would be parched and gone. The feeding of the 5000 had been on green grass (several months earlier in the Spring). 

Matthew 15:36  and He took the seven loaves and the fish; and giving thanks, He broke them and started giving them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the people.

NET  Matthew 15:36 he took the seven loaves and the fish, and after giving thanks, he broke them and began giving them to the disciples, who then gave them to the crowds.

NLT  Matthew 15:36 Then he took the seven loaves and the fish, thanked God for them, and broke them into pieces. He gave them to the disciples, who distributed the food to the crowd.

ESV  Matthew 15:36 he took the seven loaves and the fish, and having given thanks he broke them and gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds.

NIV  Matthew 15:36 Then he took the seven loaves and the fish, and when he had given thanks, he broke them and gave them to the disciples, and they in turn to the people.

GNT  Matthew 15:36 ἔλαβεν τοὺς ἑπτὰ ἄρτους καὶ τοὺς ἰχθύας καὶ εὐχαριστήσας ἔκλασεν καὶ ἐδίδου τοῖς μαθηταῖς, οἱ δὲ μαθηταὶ τοῖς ὄχλοις.

KJV  Matthew 15:36 And he took the seven loaves and the fishes, and gave thanks, and brake them, and gave to his disciples, and the disciples to the multitude.

  • thanks: Mt 26:26,27 1Sa 9:13 Lu 22:19 24:30 Joh 6:11 Ac 27:35 Ro 14:6 1Co 10:31 1Ti 4:3,4 

Related Passages:

Mark 8:6-7+ And He directed the people to sit down on the ground; and taking the seven loaves, He gave thanks and broke them, and started giving them to His disciples to serve to them, and they served them to the people. 7 They also had a few small fish; and after He had blessed them, He ordered these to be served as well.

and He took the seven loaves and the fish; and giving thanks, He broke them and started giving them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the people - In Mark's version Jesus gives thanks twice.  The verb started giving is in the imperfect tense picturing the pieces coming forth miraculously from His hand to one disciple after another. 

MacArthur points out that Jesus used the disciples because He was teaching them "as well as feeding the multitudes. He wanted them to learn the practical as well as the theological reality of His compassion. He wanted them to participate first hand in God’s concern for the daily needs of people as well as for their eternal redemption and physical wholeness, because divine compassion embraces every dimension of human need." (Ibid)

Matthew 15:37  And they all ate and were satisfied, and they picked up what was left over of the broken pieces, seven large baskets full.

NET  Matthew 15:37 They all ate and were satisfied, and they picked up the broken pieces left over, seven baskets full.

NLT  Matthew 15:37 They all ate as much as they wanted. Afterward, the disciples picked up seven large baskets of leftover food.

ESV  Matthew 15:37 And they all ate and were satisfied. And they took up seven baskets full of the broken pieces left over.

NIV  Matthew 15:37 They all ate and were satisfied. Afterward the disciples picked up seven basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over.

GNT  Matthew 15:37 καὶ ἔφαγον πάντες καὶ ἐχορτάσθησαν. καὶ τὸ περισσεῦον τῶν κλασμάτων ἦραν ἑπτὰ σπυρίδας πλήρεις.

KJV  Matthew 15:37 And they did all eat, and were filled: and they took up of the broken meat that was left seven baskets full.

  • all: Mt 15:33 14:20,21 Ps 107:9 Lu 1:53 
  • seven: Mt 16:9,10 Mk 8:8,9,19-21 

Related Passages:

Mark 8:8+ And they ate and were satisfied; and they picked up seven large baskets full of what was left over of the broken pieces. 9 About four thousand were there; and He sent them away. 

WHEN JESUS SERVES
ALL ARE SATISFIED!

And they all ate and were satisfied, and they picked up what was left over of the broken pieces, seven large baskets full - In this case the number of baskets corresponds to the number of loaves; in the previous case (Mt 14:20) to the number of apostles.

Large baskets (4711)(spuris) refers to large flexible baskets, large enough to hold a man (which they did in Acts 9:25!). All except Acts 9:25 describe the 7 baskets of left-over bread in feeding the 4000. Contrast the 12 baskets left over from feeding the 5000 in Mark 6:43, a different Greek word kophinosIn both Matthew and Mark when Jesus describes the feeding of 5000 and 4000, He uses these two words with the same distinction (Mark 8:19-20+.; Matt. 16:9-10+). 

Matthew 15:38  And those who ate were four thousand men, besides women and children.

NET  Matthew 15:38 Not counting children and women, there were four thousand men who ate.

NLT  Matthew 15:38 There were 4,000 men who were fed that day, in addition to all the women and children.

ESV  Matthew 15:38 Those who ate were four thousand men, besides women and children.

NIV  Matthew 15:38 The number of those who ate was four thousand, besides women and children.

GNT  Matthew 15:38 οἱ δὲ ἐσθίοντες ἦσαν τετρακισχίλιοι ἄνδρες χωρὶς γυναικῶν καὶ παιδίων.

KJV  Matthew 15:38 And they that did eat were four thousand men, beside women and children.

Related Passages:

Mark 8:9+ About four thousand were there; and He sent them away. 

JESUS FEEDS
4000 PLUS

And those who ate were four thousand men, besides women and children - In other words there were probably in excess of 10,000 people. Matthew distinguished the number of men from women and children just as he had done in Mt 14:21. One wonders if this was the "accountant" in him (tax collector). 

Henry Morris - Matthew 16:6-12 confirms that this was a second miraculous feeding of a multitude, and not an inadvertent repetition of the first, as some have charged. The word "thanks" occurs for the first time in the New Testament in Matthew 15:36, and significantly, it is on the lips of the Lord Jesus.

Alfred Edersheim observed that “the Lord ended each phase of His ministry with a feeding. He ended the ministry in Galilee with the feeding of the five thousand. He ended the ministry in the Gentile area with the feeding of the four thousand. And He ended the Judean ministry before His death on the cross with the feeding of His own in the upper room.”

Broadus - This miracle is recorded both by Matthew and Mark, and the former miraculous feeding by all four of the Evangelists. And shortly after (16:9), we find it recorded both by Matt. and Mark that our Lord referred to the two miracles as separately teaching the same lesson. This conclusively shows that strikingly similar events did occur in our Lord’s history, a thing to be remembered with reference to the two visits to Nazareth, the two instances of cleansing the temple, the two women who anointed Jesus, the parable of the pounds and that of the talents, etc, where it happens that the two events or discourses are recorded only by different Evangelists; and some expositors jump to the conclusion that they are nothing but varying and conflicting accounts of the same matter. If the feeding of five thousand with five loaves had been recorded only by one Gospel, and that of seven thousand with four loaves only by one or two others, it would have been most confidently asserted that these were the same miracle. Let us neither be nervous harmonizers, nor eager to assume that harmonizing is impossible. It is worth observing how natural in these two miracles are the points of agreement, and how striking are some of the differences. It was natural that the situation should in both cases be the wild country, where sufficient food could not be obtained from ordinary sources; that the kind of food multiplied should be that which was common on the shores of the lake; that Jesus should ‘bless’ or ‘give thanks’ before breaking the bread, according to custom, and should distribute the food by the help of the disciples, a matter of obvious convenience and propriety. On the other hand, the precise locality in the wild country is different in the two cases; there is now, in the parched summer, no mention of reclining on the grass, as Matthew, Mark, and John, all mention in the former case, when it was spring; the supply of food is here greater than before, while the number of persons is smaller; the people here have remained three days; in the other case only one day. There is also a slight, but quite remarkable difference as to the word rendered ‘basket.’ This is kophinos in all four Gospels in the first miracle, and spuris (or sphuris) in both Gospels here; and in the subsequent mention of these miracles (Mt 16:9 f.; Mark 8:19 f.) it is again in both Gospels kophinos with reference to the first, and spuris with reference to the second miracle. We do not know the precise difference between the two words, but the careful observance of the distinction throughout, strikingly shows how entirely distinct the two miracles were. Origen and Chrys. suppose that the spuris was somewhat large, and this seems confirmed by its use in lowering Paul from the wall of Damascus (Acts 9:25), while the kophinos appears to have been a small provision basket, such as a Jew on a journey commonly carried with him (see on Mt 14:20). The disciples may have now had these large baskets because they had been making a long journey.
The strange thing about this second miracle is the fact that the apostles do not refer (Mt 15:33) to the former miraculous feeding, which took place but a short time before. Many critics have thought this utterly inexplicable, and on this ground have denied the reality of the second miracle, though explicitly and repeatedly affirmed. But let us remember. Our Lord had sternly rebuked the crowd who shared in the previous feeding for following him the next day with the hope of being fed again (John 6:26), and had been much displeased at the popular determination produced by that miracle to make him a king. Nay, he had hurried the disciples themselves unwillingly away, partly, it is probable, because they sympathized with this popular design. (See on Mt 14:22.) In this state of things the disciples might naturally doubt whether he would repeat a miracle which had been formerly attended by such undesirable results, and might at any rate feel great delicacy about suggesting the idea that he should do so. (Comp. Mark 9:32, “were afraid to ask him.”) But as soon as he intimates such an intention, by asking how many loaves they have, they express no surprise nor doubt, but go on to carry out the details.

Comparing and Contrasting
Feeding of the Multitudes

Feeding 5000 was recorded in all 4 Gospels, but the feeding of 4000 was recorded only in Mark and Matthew.

Similarities:

• Both miracles involved huge crowds who were hungry
• Jesus used a small amount of bread and fish to feed a lot of people
• The disciples doubted the Lord’s ability to provide but were also involved in distributing the food
• In both miracles, Jesus took the little they had, gave thanks, and multiplied it
• The crowds ate and were completely satisfied and a large amount of food was left over

Differences:

• The first miracle involved feeding 5,000 compared to 4,000 here
• The amount of bread is different – 5 loaves versus 7 loaves
• The leftovers from the first miracle go in 12 small baskets and in the second, 7 large baskets are used
• There are two different Greek words - smaller baskets = kophinos and larger baskets = spuris
• The first meal came after a day of teaching and this one follows three days of teaching
• One prayer in the feeding of 5000, two prayers in feeding of 4000
• The first miracle took place among Jewish people and this one happens in the Decapolis, a Gentile community

NET Note - Many commentators, on the basis of similarities between this account of the feeding of the multitude (Mk 8:1–10) and that in Mk 6:30–44, have argued that there is only one event referred to in both passages. While there are similarities in language and in the response of the disciples, there are also noticeable differences, including the different number present on each occasion (i.e., 5,000 in chap. 6 and 4,000 here). In the final analysis, the fact that Jesus refers to two distinct feedings in Mk 8:18–20 settles the issue; this passage represents another very similar incident to that recorded in 6:30–44.

Hiebert - Nineham asserts, “It is now generally accepted that we are dealing with alternative, and somewhat divergent accounts of a single incident.” This critical conclusion of the liberal scholars is urged from the general similarities of the two accounts but especially from the dullness of the disciples as seen in Mk 8:4. The latter argument has some weight but is not insuperable. The obvious similarities are more than outweighed by the striking differences between the two events....The critical assumption is the concomitant of a low view of inspiration.

Brooks quips, “One might think that Mark and Matthew were in a better position than modern interpreters to know whether there was one or two. (PNTC-Mk)

Matthew 15:39  And sending away the crowds, Jesus got into the boat and came to the region of Magadan.

NET  Matthew 15:39 After sending away the crowd, he got into the boat and went to the region of Magadan.

NLT  Matthew 15:39 Then Jesus sent the people home, and he got into a boat and crossed over to the region of Magadan.

ESV  Matthew 15:39 And after sending away the crowds, he got into the boat and went to the region of Magadan.

NIV  Matthew 15:39 After Jesus had sent the crowd away, he got into the boat and went to the vicinity of Magadan.

GNT  Matthew 15:39 Καὶ ἀπολύσας τοὺς ὄχλους ἐνέβη εἰς τὸ πλοῖον καὶ ἦλθεν εἰς τὰ ὅρια Μαγαδάν.

KJV  Matthew 15:39 And he sent away the multitude, and took ship, and came into the coasts of Magdala.

  • sending away the crowds Mt 14:22 Mk 8:10 

Related Passages:

Mark 8:9-10+ About four thousand were there; and He sent them away. 10 And immediately He entered the boat with His disciples and came to the district of Dalmanutha. 

 
Magadan on Western Side of Sea of Galilee

And sending away the crowds, Jesus got into the boat and came to the region of Magadan - Mark has "came to the district of Dalmanutha," which is thought to be in the vicinity of Magadan.  

Robertson on region of Magadan - On the eastern side of the Sea of Galilee and so in Galilee again. Mark terms it Dalmanutha (8:10). Perhaps after all the same place as Magdala, as most manuscripts have it.

Broadus adds "The position of Magadan is unknown, as is that of Dalmanutha. (Mark 8:10.) They appear to have been on the western side of the lake, being reached by boat from the other side, and especially because from them the party crossed to the northeastern side. (16:5; Mark 8:13.)" 


John MacArthur has an excellent summary of this miraculous feeding in Gentile territory...

From Jesus’ ministry to the Gentile crowd in the Decapolis a number of important lessons can be learned.

First, we see again Jesus’ unrivaled divine power. Because only God can create, only God could have multiplied those seven loaves of bread and a few fish even one-fold, not to mention many thousand-fold. He is the God of Abraham, who believed in Him “who gives life to the dead and calls into being that which does not exist” (Rom. 4:17). Just as He had created healthy tissues to replace diseased ones, whole limbs to replace deformed and missing ones, and seeing eyes to replace blinded ones, He also created a superabundance of food to replace a little.
When the apostles were establishing the early church, many miracles were performed through them. But their miracles were performed in the name and by the power of Jesus Christ, for whom they served merely as instruments. Jesus, however, performed miracles in His own name and power, because He was the source of the power. He did not heal, deliver, raise the dead, and multiply food as God’s agent but as God.

Second, the fact that He not only cured diseases and restored hearing and sight but restored those who were kullos (maimed and sometimes completely without arms, legs, eyes, or other parts of the body), He set Himself totally apart from self-proclaimed divine healers of past years and modern times. You look in vain among those healers for verified accounts of anyone who was given an arm, leg, or eye to replace one that was missing. Their “cures” are at best psychosomatic and are extremely minor compared to those the Lord performed during the three years of His earthly ministry. God is still capable of sovereignly healing the most hopeless disease and of creating new limbs where there are none. But the only age of healing in the church was the time of authenticating the Messiah Himself and of His Word through the apostles. Once those ends were accomplished, the gift of miracles ceased. (For a more complete discussion of this subject, see the author’s book The Charismatics, published by Zondervan.)

Third, we learn that the goal of ministry is worship. Although most, if not all, of the multitudes in Decapolis were pagan Gentiles, when they saw the magnitude and perfection of Jesus’ healing power, they not only were astonished beyond measure but also “glorified the God of Israel” (v. 31). Witnessing such a divine display demanded much more than awe; it demanded reverential worship, which those Gentiles offered as best they knew how. Their worship was Jesus’ supreme goal. He had unqualified compassion to heal their broken bodies and to fill their empty stomachs. But He was infinitely more concerned that, through their trust in Him as Lord and Savior, He could also save their souls from eternal damnation and make them citizens of His heavenly kingdom. Christ’s followers are likewise called to minister not only to people’s physical and temporal needs but to lead them to glorify God, “that the grace which is spreading to more and more people may cause the giving of thanks to abound to the glory of God” (2 Cor. 4:15). The goal of evangelism and of Christian living is to “worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers” (John 4:23). Only when devotion to the Lord is sincere and unqualified, service to others truly selfless, and daily living consistently Christlike, will God be glorified. That is an especially important lesson for our day, in which self-love and self-satisfaction have become accepted and touted even in much of the church. We are tempted to offer the gospel simply for what it can do for a person, with no suggestion of the need to turn from self to God and from our own priorities to His. We like to make the way of salvation seem wide, although the Lord says it is narrow (Matt. 7:14). We want to make the Christian life appear easy, although Jesus declared that “he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me” and that only “he who has lost his life for My sake shall find it” (10:38–39).

Fourth, this story teaches the necessity of relying on divine resources. Like the disciples, we are most usable to the Lord when we acknowledge our own lack of resources and turn to Him. Whatever we may have in ourselves is never enough to meet the needs of others or to accomplish anything for God. Jesus did not command the apostles to be His “witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth” until He had first promised, “You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you” (Acts 1:8). “Every good thing bestowed and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights,” James says (James 1:17). I was once asked to visit a elderly lady who was dying and did not know Christ. She was frail and sick, and I did not want to upset her; yet I knew that above everything else she needed Christ. All the way over there I prayed that God would help me know what to say and how to say it; but as I neared her apartment door I became more and more uneasy. When one of her friends let me in and I walked over to her bed, the first thing she said was, “Before you say anything, I just want to tell you that yesterday my sister led me to Christ.” After a time of reading some psalms and prayer, I said, “You don’t need to fear death any more”; to which she replied, “Fear death? I don’t fear death. I don’t fear death at all.” By the time our visit was over, I felt she had ministered to me more than I had to her. I had been totally inadequate to meet her needs; but as I went in dependence on our gracious Lord, I found He had already preceded me and made full provision.

Fifth, we learn from this story that God’s resources are never diminished, much less exhausted, because He has an infinite capacity to create. He did not need the seven loaves and few fish in order to feed the multitude. He could just as easily have made the food from nothing, just as He created the world from nothing. He used the loaves and fish in order to involve the disciples and to help teach them to give what they had into His care. “Give, and it will be given to you; good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, they will pour into your lap. For by your standard of measure it will be measured to you in return” (Luke 6:38). God’s people would never lack resources to do what He calls them to do if they trusted that promise.

Sixth, we learn about the servant’s usefulness. Although the Lord is able do His work without us, He chooses to do it through us. He did not need the disciples’ help to distribute the food any more than he needed the seven loaves and the fish to make the food. He could have done in an instant what took them several hours to do. But in His infinite wisdom and mercy God chooses to use human instruments to do His divine work of carrying the gospel to the world and of ministering to its needs. In submissively serving others in our Lord’s name and power, we learn to serve Him—in preparation for serving Him for all eternity in dimensions we cannot now conceive.

Seventh, we learn that God gives liberally, in “good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over” (Luke 6:38), as we have already seen. Everyone on the mountainside ate until he was completely satisfied. There was even more than enough, so that seven large baskets of food were left over.

Eighth is the lesson of spiritual investment. When the disciples gave all they had to Jesus and then helped Him give it away to others, they had seven full baskets remaining for themselves. “He who sows sparingly shall also reap sparingly; and he who sows bountifully shall also reap bountifully” (2 Cor. 9:6).

The ninth and overarching lesson is the limitless compassion of Jesus Christ. He has compassion for all our needs—eternal, lifetime, and daily. He has compassion on Jews and on Gentiles, on the severely afflicted and the merely hungry. Following the example of our Lord, we are to “do good to all men, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith” (Gal. 6:10). Our compassion is not measured by our feelings but by our giving.

John Wanamaker, founder of the famous Philadelphia department store that bears his name, was a devoted Christian. On a trip to China to observe Christian mission work there, he came across a small village where a group of Christians had begun building a church but lacked money to complete it. In a nearby field he noticed the strange sight of a boy yoked together with an ox as they together pulled a plow held by his father. Mr. Wanamaker’s guide explained that the boy had promised his father, “If you will sell one of the oxen and give the money for the building of the church, I will take the oxen’s place pulling the plow” Mr. Wanamaker is said to have fallen to his knees and said, “Lord, let me be hitched to a plow that I may know the joy of sacrificial giving.

 

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