Matthew 15

1 Then the scribes and Pharisees from Jerusalem come up to Jesus, saying,
2 Why do thy disciples transgress what has been delivered by the ancients? for they do not wash their hands when they eat bread.
3 But he answering said to them, Why do *ye* also transgress the commandment of God on account of your traditional teaching?
4 For God commanded saying, Honour father and mother; and, He that speaks ill of father or mother, let him die the death.
5 But *ye* say, Whosoever shall say to his father or mother, It is a gift, whatsoever [it be] by which [received] from me thou wouldest be profited:
6 and he shall in no wise honour his father or his mother; and ye have made void the commandment of God on account of your traditional teaching.
7 Hypocrites! well has Esaias prophesied about you, saying,
8 This people honour me with the lips, but their heart is far away from me;
9 but in vain do they worship me, teaching [as] teachings commandments of men.
10 And having called to [him] the crowd, he said to them, Hear and understand:
11 Not what enters into the mouth defiles the man; but what goes forth out of the mouth, this defiles the man.
12 Then his disciples, coming up, said to him, Dost thou know that the Pharisees, having heard this word, have been offended?
13 But he answering said, Every plant which my heavenly Father has not planted shall be rooted up.
14 Leave them alone; they are blind leaders of blind: but if blind lead blind, both will fall into a ditch.
15 And Peter answering said to him, Expound to us this parable.
16 But he said, Are *ye* also still without intelligence?
17 Do ye not yet apprehend, that everything that enters into the mouth finds its way into the belly, and is cast forth into the draught?
18 but the things which go forth out of the mouth come out of the heart, and those defile man.
19 For out of the heart come forth evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witnessings, blasphemies;
20 these are the things which defile man; but the eating with unwashen hands does not defile man.
21 And Jesus, going forth from thence, went away into the parts of Tyre and Sidon;
22 and lo, a Canaanitish woman, coming out from those borders, cried [to him] saying, Have pity on me, Lord, Son of David; my daughter is miserably possessed by a demon.
23 But he did not answer her a word. And his disciples came to [him] and asked him, saying, Dismiss her, for she cries after us.
24 But he answering said, I have not been sent save to the lost sheep of Israel's house.
25 But she came and did him homage, saying, Lord, help me.
26 But he answering said, It is not well to take the bread of the children and cast it to the dogs.
27 But she said, Yea, Lord; for even the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from the table of their masters.
28 Then Jesus answering said to her, O woman, thy faith [is] great. Be it to thee as thou desirest. And her daughter was healed from *that* hour.
29 And Jesus, going away from thence, came towards the sea of Galilee, and he went up into the mountain and sat down there;
30 and great crowds came to him, having with them lame, blind, dumb, crippled, and many others, and they cast them at his feet, and he healed them:
31 so that the crowds wondered, seeing dumb speaking, crippled sound, lame walking, and blind seeing; and they glorified the God of Israel.
32 But Jesus, having called his disciples to [him], said, I have compassion on the crowd, because they have stayed with me already three days and they have not anything they can eat, and I would not send them away fasting lest they should faint on the way.
33 And his disciples say to him, Whence should we have so many loaves in [the] wilderness as to satisfy so great a crowd?
34 And Jesus says to them, How many loaves have ye? But they said, Seven, and a few small fishes.
35 And he commanded the crowds to lie down on the ground;
36 and having taken the seven loaves and the fishes, having given thanks, he broke [them] and gave [them] to his disciples, and the disciples to the crowd.
37 And all ate and were filled; and they took up what was over and above of the fragments seven baskets full;
38 but they that ate were four thousand men, besides women and children.
39 And, having dismissed the crowds, he went on board ship and came to the borders of Magadan.

Matthew 15 Commentary

Chapter 15

Jesus discourses about human traditions. (1-9) He warns against things which really defile. (10-20) He heals the daughter of a Syrophenician woman. (21-28) Jesus heals the sick, and miraculously feeds four thousand. (29-39)

Verses 1-9 Additions to God's laws reflect upon his wisdom, as if he had left out something which was needed, and which man could supply; in one way or other they always lead men to disobey God. How thankful ought we to be for the written word of God! Never let us think that the religion of the Bible can be improved by any human addition, either in doctrine or practice. Our blessed Lord spoke of their traditions as inventions of their own, and pointed out one instance in which this was very clear, that of their transgressing the fifth commandment. When a parent's wants called for assistance, they pleaded, that they had devoted to the temple all they could spare, even though they did not part with it, and therefore their parents must expect nothing from them. This was making the command of God of no effect. The doom of hypocrites is put in a little compass; "In vain do they worship me." It will neither please God, nor profit themselves; they trust in vanity, and vanity will be their recompence.

Verses 10-20 Christ shows that the defilement they ought to fear, was not from what entered their mouths as food, but from what came out of their mouths, which showed the wickedness of their hearts. Nothing will last in the soul but the regenerating graces of the Holy Spirit; and nothing should be admitted into the church but what is from above; therefore, whoever is offended by a plain, seasonable declaration of the truth, we should not be troubled at it. The disciples ask to be better taught as to this matter. Where a weak head doubts concerning any word of Christ, an upright heart and a willing mind seek for instruction. It is the heart that is desperately wicked, Jer. 17:9 , for there is no sin in word or deed, which was not first in the heart. They all come out of the man, and are fruits of that wickedness which is in the heart, and is wrought there. When Christ teaches, he will show men the deceitfulness and wickedness of their own hearts; he will teach them to humble themselves, and to seek to be cleansed in the Fountain opened for sin and uncleanness.

Verses 21-28 The dark corners of the country, the most remote, shall share Christ's influences; afterwards the ends of the earth shall see his salvation. The distress and trouble of her family brought a woman to Christ; and though it is need that drives us to Christ, yet we shall not therefore be driven from him. She did not limit Christ to any particular instance of mercy, but mercy, mercy, is what she begged for: she pleads not merit, but depends upon mercy. It is the duty of parents to pray for their children, and to be earnest in prayer for them, especially for their souls. Have you a son, a daughter, grievously vexed with a proud devil, an unclean devil, a malicious devil, led captive by him at his will? this is a case more deplorable than that of bodily possession, and you must bring them by faith and prayer to Christ, who alone is able to heal them. Many methods of Christ's providence, especially of his grace, in dealing with his people, which are dark and perplexing, may be explained by this story, which teaches that there may be love in Christ's heart while there are frowns in his face; and it encourages us, though he seems ready to slay us, yet to trust in him. Those whom Christ intends most to honour, he humbles to feel their own unworthiness. A proud, unhumbled heart would not have borne this; but she turned it into an argument to support her request. The state of this woman is an emblem of the state of a sinner, deeply conscious of the misery of his soul. The least of Christ is precious to a believer, even the very crumbs of the Bread of life. Of all graces, faith honours Christ most; therefore of all graces Christ honours faith most. He cured her daughter. He spake, and it was done. From hence let such as seek help from the Lord, and receive no gracious answer, learn to turn even their unworthiness and discouragements into pleas for mercy.

Verses 29-39 Whatever our case is, the only way to find ease and relief, is to lay it at Christ's feet, to submit it to him, and refer it to his disposal. Those who would have spiritual healing from Christ, must be ruled as he pleases. See what work sin has made; what various diseases human bodies are subject to. Here were such diseases as fancy could neither guess the cause nor the cure of, yet these were subject to the command of Christ. The spiritual cures that Christ works are wonderful. When blind souls are made to see by faith, the dumb to speak in prayer, the maimed and the lame to walk in holy obedience, it is to be wondered at. His power was also shown to the multitude, in the plentiful provision he made for them: the manner is much the same as before. All did eat, and were filled. Those whom Christ feeds, he fills. With Christ there is bread enough, and to spare; supplies of grace for more than seek it, and for those that seek for more. Christ sent away the people. Though he had fed them twice, they must not look for miracles to find their daily bread. Let them go home to their callings and their own tables. Lord, increase our faith, and pardon our unbelief, teaching us to live upon thy fulness and bounty, for all things pertaining to this life, and that which is to come.

Footnotes 14

  • [a]. Or 'the tradition of the elders.'
  • [b]. Ex. 20.12.
  • [c]. Ex. 21.17.
  • [d]. Or 'abuses,' 'curses.'
  • [e]. * i.e. an offering to God, see Mark 7.11 and note at Matt. 27.6.
  • [f]. Isa. 29.13.
  • [g]. Lit. 'the.'
  • [h]. As ch. 13.57: and so wherever the word 'offend' occurs.
  • [i]. Or 'the man.'
  • [j]. Eis: Not necessarily within the territory, but in that neighbourhood: perhaps it might be translated 'into the neighbourhood,' only it is a little too free. The woman came out from the country of Tyre and Sidon.
  • [k]. 'A little dog,' more slighting than 'dog' in Greek; but 'little dog' is rather the contrary in English. I would not say 'cur,' fearing it might be too strong, but I have no doubt of the greater contempt expressed by the word; also in ver. 27.
  • [l]. Or else we may say 'Yet' here, as admitting the truth, but pleading; nai is used for affirming what is said, but also for beseeching, as, indeed, in English we say, 'Yes, do it.' 'Yet' seems perhaps to express this more clearly, as the admission of what Christ said is thus evident; the 'but' is wanting if we say 'yea.' The Authorized Version avoids the difficulty discussed by all the critics by translating freely, but the 'for even' of the original is lost. 'Yet' thus used gives assent and obsecration, and this seems the force of nai. See Rev. 22.20, 'Amen; come.' If we say 'Truth, Lord,' we must add 'yet:' 'Truth, Lord, [yet hear] for even.' As to nai having this tacitly beseeching character, see Philemon 20, and so it is taken by many. Otherwise nai contradicts the Lord, who had said ouk, and kai gar follows naturally. And I suspect this to be the better sense: 'Yes, Lord, you may do it, for even:' so I have put it in the text.
  • [m]. See Note, ch. 5.25; Mark 4.12.
  • [n]. Larger than the 'hand-basket' in ch. 16.9. It is particularly a 'fish-basket.'

Matthew 15 Commentaries

The Darby Translation is in the public domain.