Matthew 15

Listen to Matthew 15

Traditions and Commandments

1 1Then Pharisees and 2scribes came to Jesus 3from Jerusalem and said,
2 4"Why do your disciples break 5the tradition of the elders? 6For they do not wash their hands when they eat."
3 He answered them, "And why do you break the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition?
4 For God commanded, 7'Honor your father and your mother,' and, 8'Whoever reviles father or mother must surely die.'
5 But you say, 'If anyone tells his father or his mother, "What you would have gained from me is given to God,"[a]
6 he need not honor his father.' So for the sake of your tradition you have 9made void the word[b] of God.
7 10You hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy of you, when he said:
8 11"'This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me;
9 in vain do they worship me, teaching as 12doctrines the commandments of men.'"

What Defiles a Person

10 And he called the people to him and said to them, 13"Hear and understand:
11 14it is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but what comes out of the mouth; this defiles a person."
12 Then the disciples came and said to him, "Do you know that the Pharisees were 15offended when they heard this saying?"
13 He answered, 16"Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted 17will be rooted up.
14 Let them alone; 18they are blind guides.[c] And 19if the blind lead the blind, both will fall into a pit."
15 But Peter said to him, 20"Explain the parable to us."
16 And he said, 21"Are you also still without understanding?
17 Do you not see that 22whatever goes into the mouth passes into the stomach and is expelled?[d]
18 But 23what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person.
19 For out of the heart come 24evil thoughts, 25murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, 26slander.
20 27These are what defile a person. But 28to eat with unwashed hands does not defile anyone."

The Faith of a Canaanite Woman

21 29And Jesus went away from there and withdrew to the district of Tyre and Sidon.
22 And behold, 30a Canaanite woman from that region came out and was crying, 31"Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David; my daughter is severely oppressed by a demon."
23 But he did not answer her a word. And his disciples came and begged him, saying, 32"Send her away, for she is crying out after us."
24 He answered, 33"I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel."
25 But she came and 34knelt before him, saying, "Lord, help me."
26 And he answered, "It is not right to take the children's bread and 35throw it to the dogs."
27 She said, "Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat 36the crumbs that fall from their masters' table."
28 Then Jesus answered her, "O woman, 37great is your faith! 38Be it done for you as you desire." 39And her daughter was 40healed instantly.[e]

Jesus Heals Many

29 41Jesus went on from there and walked 42beside the Sea of Galilee. And he 43went up on the mountain and sat down there.
30 And great crowds came to him, bringing with them 44the lame, the blind, the crippled, the mute, and many others, and they put them at his feet, and he healed them,
31 45so that the crowd wondered, when they saw the mute speaking, 46the crippled healthy, the lame walking, and the blind seeing. And 47they glorified 48the God of Israel.

Jesus Feeds the Four Thousand

32 49Then Jesus called his disciples to him and said, 50"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."
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?"
34 And Jesus said to them, "How many loaves do you have?" They said, 51"Seven, and a few small fish."
35 And directing the crowd to sit down on the ground,
36 he took the seven loaves and the fish, and 52having given thanks he broke them and gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds.
37 And 53they all ate and were satisfied. And they took up seven baskets full of the broken pieces left over.
38 Those who ate were four thousand men, besides women and children.
39 And after sending away the crowds, he got into the boat and went to the region of 54Magadan.

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.

Cross References 54

  • 1. For ver. 1-20, see Mark 7:1-23
  • 2. Mark 3:22
  • 3. Mark 3:22
  • 4. [Matthew 9:11]
  • 5. Galatians 1:14; Colossians 2:8
  • 6. Luke 11:38
  • 7. Cited from Exodus 20:12
  • 8. Cited from Exodus 21:17
  • 9. Galatians 3:17(Gk.); [Romans 2:23]
  • 10. Matthew 23:13
  • 11. Cited from Isaiah 29:13; [Ezekiel 33:31]
  • 12. Colossians 2:22; Titus 1:14
  • 13. Matthew 13:51
  • 14. See Acts 10:14, 15
  • 15. [Matthew 13:57; Luke 7:23]
  • 16. [Isaiah 60:21; Isaiah 61:3; John 15:1, 2; 1 Corinthians 3:9]
  • 17. Jude 12
  • 18. Matthew 23:16, 24; [Isaiah 56:10; Malachi 2:8]
  • 19. Luke 6:39
  • 20. [Matthew 13:36]
  • 21. Matthew 16:9
  • 22. [1 Corinthians 6:13]
  • 23. Matthew 12:34; James 3:6
  • 24. James 2:4
  • 25. Matthew 5:22, 28; See Exodus 20:13-16
  • 26. Ephesians 4:31; Colossians 3:8; 1 Timothy 6:4
  • 27. 1 Corinthians 6:9, 10
  • 28. Mark 7:2, 5
  • 29. For ver. 21-28, see Mark 7:24-30
  • 30. Genesis 10:15, 19; Judges 1:30-33
  • 31. See Matthew 9:27
  • 32. [Matthew 14:15]
  • 33. Romans 15:8; See Matthew 10:5, 6
  • 34. See Matthew 8:2
  • 35. Matthew 7:6
  • 36. [Luke 16:21]
  • 37. See Matthew 9:2
  • 38. [Matthew 8:13]
  • 39. Matthew 9:22; Matthew 17:18; [John 4:52, 53]
  • 40. [Matthew 8:13]
  • 41. For ver. 29-31, [Mark 7:31-37]
  • 42. Matthew 4:18; John 6:1
  • 43. Matthew 5:1
  • 44. See Matthew 11:5
  • 45. See Matthew 9:33
  • 46. Matthew 18:8; Mark 9:43
  • 47. Matthew 9:8
  • 48. Isaiah 29:23; Luke 1:68; Acts 13:17
  • 49. For ver. 32-39, see Mark 8:1-10; [Matthew 14:14-21]
  • 50. [Matthew 9:36]
  • 51. Matthew 16:10
  • 52. Matthew 26:27; Mark 14:23; Luke 22:17, 19; John 6:11, 23; Acts 27:35; Romans 14:6; 1 Corinthians 10:30; 1 Corinthians 11:24; 1 Corinthians 14:16; 1 Timothy 4:3, 4
  • 53. [2 Kings 4:42-44]
  • 54. [Mark 8:10]

Footnotes 5

  • [a]. Or is an offering
  • [b]. Some manuscripts law
  • [c]. Some manuscripts add of the blind
  • [d]. Greek is expelled into the latrine
  • [e]. Greek from that hour

Matthew 15 Commentaries

The English Standard Version is published with the permission of Good News Publishers.