Matthew 12

Sabbath Questions

1 1At that time Jesus went through the grainfields on the Sabbath, and His disciples became hungry and began to 2pick the heads of grain and eat.
2 But when the Pharisees saw this, they said to Him, "Look, Your disciples do what 3is not lawful to do on a Sabbath."
3 But He said to them, "Have you not read what David did when he became hungry, he and his companions *,
4 how he entered the house of God, and 4they ate the consecrated bread, which was not lawful for him to eat nor for those with him, but for the priests alone?
5 "Or have you not read in the Law, that on the Sabbath the priests in the temple break the Sabbath and are innocent?
6 "But I say to you that something 5greater than the temple is here.
7 "But if you had known what this means, '6I DESIRE COMPASSION, AND NOT A SACRIFICE,' you would not have condemned the innocent.

Lord of the Sabbath

8 "For 7the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath."
9 8Departing from there, He went into their synagogue.
10 And a man was there whose hand was withered. And they questioned Jesus, asking, "9Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?"-so that they might accuse Him.
11 And He said to them, "10What man is there among you who has a sheep, and if it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will he not take hold of it and lift it out?
12 "11How much more valuable then is a man than a sheep! So then, it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath."
13 Then He said to the man, "Stretch out your hand!" 12He stretched it out, and it was restored to normal, like the other.
14 But the Pharisees went out and 13conspired * against Him, as to how they might destroy Him.
15 But Jesus, aware of this, withdrew from there. Many followed Him, and 14He healed them all,
16 and 15warned them not to tell who He was.
17 This was to fulfill what was spoken through Isaiah the prophet:

The Pharisees Rebuked

22 23Then a 24demon-possessed man who was blind and mute was brought to Jesus, and He healed him, so that the mute man spoke and saw.
23 All the crowds were amazed, and were saying, "This man cannot be the 25Son of David, can he?"
24 But when the Pharisees heard this, they said, "This man 26casts out demons only * * by Beelzebul the ruler of the demons."
25 27And 28knowing their thoughts Jesus said to them, "Any kingdom divided against itself is laid waste; and any city or house divided against itself will not stand.
26 "If 29Satan casts out Satan, he is divided against himself; how then will his kingdom stand?
27 "If I 30by Beelzebul cast out demons, 31by whom do your sons cast them out? For this * reason * they will be your judges.
28 "But 32if I cast out demons by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.
29 "Or how can anyone enter the strong man's house and carry off his property, unless * he first binds the strong man? And then he will plunder his house.

The Unpardonable Sin

30 "33He who is not with Me is against Me; and he who does not gather with Me scatters.
31 "34Therefore * I say to you, any sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven people, but blasphemy against the Spirit shall not be forgiven.
32 "35Whoever * speaks a word against the Son of Man, it shall be forgiven him; but whoever * speaks against the Holy Spirit, it shall not be forgiven him, either in 36this age or in the age to come.

Words Reveal Character

33 "Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or make the tree bad and its fruit bad; for 37the tree is known by its fruit.
34 "38You brood of vipers, how can you, being evil, speak what is good? 39For the mouth speaks out of that which fills the heart.
35 "40The good man brings out of his good treasure what is good; and the evil man brings out of his evil treasure what is evil.
36 "But I tell you that every careless word that people speak, they shall give an accounting for it in 41the day of judgment.
37 "For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned."

The Desire for Signs

38 Then some of the scribes and Pharisees said to Him, "Teacher, 42we want to see a sign from You."
39 But He answered and said to them, "43An evil and adulterous generation craves for a sign; and yet no sign will be given to it but the sign of Jonah the prophet;
40 for just as 44JONAH WAS THREE DAYS AND THREE NIGHTS IN THE BELLY OF THE SEA MONSTER, so will 45the Son of Man be 46three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.
41 "47The men of Nineveh will stand up with this generation at the judgment, and will condemn it because 48they repented at the preaching of Jonah; and behold, 49something greater than Jonah is here.
42 "50The Queen of the South will rise up with this generation at the judgment and will condemn it, because she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and behold, 51something greater than Solomon is here.
43 "52Now when the unclean spirit goes out of a man, it passes through waterless places seeking rest, and does not find it.
44 "Then it says, 'I will return to my house from which I came '; and when it comes, it finds it unoccupied, swept, and put in order.
45 "Then it goes and takes along with it seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there; and 53the last state of that man becomes worse than the first. That is the way it will also be with this evil generation."

Changed Relationships

46 54While He was still speaking to the crowds, behold, His 55mother and 56brothers were standing outside, seeking to speak to Him.
47 Someone said to Him, "Behold, Your mother and Your brothers are standing outside seeking to speak to You."
48 But Jesus answered the one who was telling Him and said, "Who is My mother and who are My brothers?"
49 And stretching out His hand toward His disciples, He said, "Behold My mother and My brothers!
50 "For whoever * does the will of My Father who is in heaven, he is My brother and sister and mother."

Matthew 12 Commentary

Chapter 12

Jesus defends his disciples for plucking corn on the sabbath day. (1-8) Jesus heals a man with a withered hand on the sabbath. (9-13) The malice of the Pharisees. (14-21) Jesus heals a demoniac. (22-30) Blasphemy of the Pharisees. (31,32) Evil words proceed from an evil heart. (33-37) The scribes and Pharisees reproved for seeking a sign. (38-45) The disciples of Christ are his nearest relations. (46-50)

Verses 1-8 Being in the corn-fields, the disciples began to pluck the ears of corn: the law of God allowed it, ( Deuteronomy 23:25 ) . This was slender provision for Christ and his disciples; but they were content with it. The Pharisees did not quarrel with them for taking another man's corn, but for doing it on the sabbath day. Christ came to free his followers, not only from the corruptions of the Pharisees, but from their unscriptural rules, and justified what they did. The greatest shall not have their lusts indulged, but the meanest shall have their wants considered. Those labours are lawful on the sabbath day which are necessary, and sabbath rest is to froward, not to hinder sabbath worship. Needful provision for health and food is to be made; but when servants are kept at home, and families become a scene of hurry and confusion on the Lord's day, to furnish a feast for visitors, or for indulgence, the case is very different. Such things as these, and many others common among professors, are to be blamed. The resting on the sabbath was ordained for man's good, ( Deuteronomy 5:14 ) . No law must be understood so as to contradict its own end. And as Christ is the Lord of the sabbath, it is fit the day and the work of it should be dedicated to him.

Verses 9-13 Christ shows that works of mercy are lawful and proper to be done on the Lord's day. There are more ways of doing well upon sabbath days, than by the duties of worship: attending the sick, relieving the poor, helping those who need speedy relief, teaching the young to care for their souls; these are doing good: and these must be done from love and charity, with humility and self-denial, and shall be accepted, ( Genesis 4:7 ) . This, like other cures which Christ wrought, had a spiritual meaning. By nature our hands are withered, and we are unable of ourselves to do any thing that is good. Christ only, by the power of his grace, cures us; he heals the withered hand by putting life into the dead soul, works in us both to will and to do: for, with the command, there is a promise of grace given by the word.

Verses 14-21 The Pharisees took counsel to find some accusation, that Jesus might be condemned to death. Aware of their design, as his time was not come, he retired from that place. Face does not more exactly answer to face in water, than the character of Christ drawn by the prophet, to his temper and conduct as described by the evangelists. Let us with cheerful confidence commit our souls to so kind and faithful a Friend. Far from breaking, he will strengthen the bruised reed; far from quenching the smoking flax, or wick nearly out, he will rather blow it up into a flame. Let us lay aside contentious and angry debates; let us receive one another as Christ receives us. And while encouraged by the gracious kindness of our Lord, we should pray that his Spirit may rest upon us, and make us able to copy his example.

Verses 22-30 A soul under Satan's power, and led captive by him, is blind in the things of God, and dumb at the throne of grace; sees nothing, and says nothing to the purpose. Satan blinds the eyes by unbelief, and seals up the lips from prayer. The more people magnified Christ, the more desirous the Pharisees were to vilify him. It was evident that if Satan aided Jesus in casting out devils, the kingdom of hell was divided against itself; how then could it stand! And if they said that Jesus cast out devils by the prince of the devils, they could not prove that their children cast them out by any other power. There are two great interests in the world; and when unclean spirits are cast out by the Holy Spirit, in the conversion of sinners to a life of faith and obedience, the kingdom of God is come unto us. All who do not aid or rejoice in such a change are against Christ.

Verses 31-32 Here is a gracious assurance of the pardon of all sin upon gospel terms. Christ herein has set an example to the sons of men, to be ready to forgive words spoken against them. But humble and conscientious believers, at times are tempted to think they have committed the unpardonable sin, while those who have come the nearest to it, seldom have any fear about it. We may be sure that those who indeed repent and believe the gospel, have not committed this sin, or any other of the same kind; for repentance and faith are the special gifts of God, which he would not bestow on any man, if he were determined never to pardon him; and those who fear they have committed this sin, give a good sign that they have not. The trembling, contrite sinner, has the witness in himself that this is not his case.

Verses 33-37 Men's language discovers what country they are of, likewise what manner of spirit they are of. The heart is the fountain, words are the streams. A troubled fountain, and a corrupt spring, must send forth muddy and unpleasant streams. Nothing but the salt of grace, cast into the spring, will heal the waters, season the speech, and purify the corrupt communication. An evil man has an evil treasure in his heart, and out of it brings forth evil things. Lusts and corruptions, dwelling and reigning in the heart, are an evil treasure, out of which the sinner brings forth bad words and actions, to dishonour God, and hurt others. Let us keep constant watch over ourselves, that we may speak words agreeable to the Christian character.

Verses 38-45 Though Christ is always ready to hear and answer holy desires and prayers, yet those who ask amiss, ask and have not. Signs were granted to those who desired them to confirm their faith, as Abraham and Gideon; but denied to those who demanded them to excuse their unbelief. The resurrection of Christ from the dead by his own power, called here the sign of the prophet Jonah, was the great proof of Christ's being the Messiah. As Jonah was three days and three nights in the whale, and then came out again alive, thus Christ would be so long in the grave, and then rise again. The Ninevites would shame the Jews for not repenting; the queen of Sheba, for not believing in Christ. And we have no such cares to hinder us, we come not to Christ upon such uncertainties. This parable represents the case of the Jewish church and nation. It is also applicable to all those who hear the word of God, and are in part reformed, but not truly converted. The unclean spirit leaves for a time, but when he returns, he finds Christ is not there to shut him out; the heart is swept by outward reformation, but garnished by preparation to comply with evil suggestions, and the man becomes a more decided enemy of the truth. Every heart is the residence of unclean spirits, except those which are temples of the Holy Ghost, by faith in Christ.

Verses 46-50 Christ's preaching was plain, easy, and familiar, and suited to his hearers. His mother and brethren stood without, desiring to speak with him, when they should have been standing within, desiring to hear him. Frequently, those who are nearest to the means of knowledge and grace are most negligent. We are apt to neglect that which we think we may have any day, forgetting that to-morrow is not ours. We often meet with hinderances in our work from friends about us, and are taken off by care for the things of this life, from the concerns of our souls. Christ was so intent on his work, that no natural or other duty took him from it. Not that, under pretence of religion, we may be disrespectful to parents, or unkind to relations; but the lesser duty must stand by, while the greater is done. Let us cease from men, and cleave to Christ; let us look upon every Christian, in whatever condition of life, as the brother, sister, or mother of the Lord of glory; let us love, respect, and be kind to them, for his sake, and after his example.

Cross References 56

  • 1. Matthew 12:1-8: {Mark 2:23-28; Luke 6:1-5}
  • 2. Deuteronomy 23:25
  • 3. Matthew 12:10; Luke 13:14; Luke 14:3; John 5:10; John 7:23; John 9:16
  • 4. 1 Samuel 21:6
  • 5. 2 Chronicles 6:18; Isaiah 66:1, 2; Matthew 12:41, 42
  • 6. Hosea 6:6; Matthew 9:13
  • 7. Matthew 8:20; Matthew 12:32, 40
  • 8. Matthew 12:9-14: {Mark 3:1-6; Luke 6:6-11}
  • 9. Matthew 12:2; Luke 13:14; Luke 14:3; John 5:10; John 7:23; John 9:16
  • 10. Luke 14:5
  • 11. Matthew 10:31; Luke 14:1-6
  • 12. Matthew 8:3; Acts 28:8
  • 13. Matthew 26:4; Mark 14:1; Luke 22:2; John 7:30, 44; John 8:59; John 10:31, 39; John 11:53
  • 14. Matthew 4:23
  • 15. Matthew 8:4; Matthew 9:30; Matthew 17:9
  • 16. Isaiah 42:1
  • 17. Matthew 3:17; Matthew 17:5
  • 18. Luke 4:18; John 3:34
  • 19. Isaiah 42:1
  • 20. Isaiah 42:2
  • 21. Isaiah 42:3
  • 22. Romans 15:12
  • 23. Matthew 12:22, 24: {Luke 11:14, 15;} Matthew 9:32, 34
  • 24. Matthew 4:24; 2 Thessalonians 2:9
  • 25. Matthew 9:27
  • 26. Matthew 9:34
  • 27. Matthew 12:25-29: {Mark 3:23-27; Luke 11:17-22}
  • 28. Matthew 9:4
  • 29. Matthew 4:10; Matthew 13:19
  • 30. Matthew 9:34
  • 31. Acts 19:13
  • 32. 1 John 3:8
  • 33. Mark 9:40; Luke 9:50; Luke 11:23
  • 34. Matthew 12:31, 32; Mark 3:28-30; Luke 12:10
  • 35. Luke 12:10
  • 36. Matthew 13:22, 39; Mark 10:30; Luke 16:8; Luke 18:30; Luke 20:34, 35; Ephesians 1:21; 1 Timothy 6:17; 2 Timothy 4:10; Titus 2:12; Hebrews 6:5
  • 37. Matthew 7:16-18; Luke 6:43, 44; John 15:4-7
  • 38. Matthew 3:7; Matthew 23:33; Luke 3:7
  • 39. 1 Samuel 24:13; Isaiah 32:6; Matthew 12:34, 35; Matthew 15:18; Luke 6:45; Ephesians 4:29; James 3:2-12
  • 40. Proverbs 10:20, 21; Proverbs 25:11, 12; Matthew 13:52; Colossians 4:6
  • 41. Matthew 10:15
  • 42. Matthew 16:1; Mark 8:11, 12; Luke 11:16; John 2:18; John 6:30; 1 Corinthians 1:22
  • 43. Matthew 12:39-42: {Luke 11:29-32;} Matthew 16:4
  • 44. Jonah 1:17
  • 45. Matthew 8:20
  • 46. Matthew 16:21
  • 47. Jonah 1:2
  • 48. Jonah 3:5
  • 49. Matthew 12:6, 42
  • 50. 1 Kings 10:1; 2 Chronicles 9:1
  • 51. Matthew 12:6, 41
  • 52. Matthew 12:43-45: {Luke 11:24-26}
  • 53. Mark 5:9; Luke 11:26; Hebrews 6:4-8; 2 Peter 2:20
  • 54. Matthew 12:46-50: {Mark 3:31-35; Luke 8:19-21}
  • 55. Matthew 1:18; Matthew 2:11f; Matthew 13:55; Luke 1:43; Luke 2:33f, 48, 51; John 2:1, 5, 12; John 19:25; Acts 1:14
  • 56. Matthew 13:55; Mark 6:3; John 2:12; John 7:3, 5, 10; Acts 1:14; 1 Corinthians 9:5; Galatians 1:19

Footnotes 42

Matthew 12 Commentaries

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