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Matthew 9

PARAGRAPH DIVISIONS OF MODERN TRANSLATIONS

UBS4 NKJV NRSV TEV NJB
The Healing of a Paralytic Jesus Forgives and Heals a Paralytic Events in Galilee
(continued)
Jesus Heals a Paralyzed Man Cure of a Paralytic
    (8:1-9:38)    
9:1-8 9:1-8 9:1 9:1-2 9:1-8
    9:2-8    
      9:3  
      9:4-6  
      9:7-8  
The Calling of Matthew Matthew the Tax Collector   Jesus Calls Matthew The Call of Matthew
9:9-13 9:9-13 9:9 9:9a-b 9:9
      9:9c Eating with Sinners
    9:10-13 9:10-11 9:10-13
      9:12-13  
The Question About Fasting Jesus is Questioned About Fasting   The Question About Fasting A Discussion of Fasting
9:14-17 9:14-17 9:14-17 9:14 9:14-17
      9:15  
      9:16-17  
The Ruler's Daughter and the Woman Who Touched Jesus' Garment A Girl Restored to Life and a Woman Healed   The Official's Daughter and the Woman Who Touched Jesus' Cloak Cure of the Woman with a Hemorrhage; The Official's Daughter Raised to Life
9:18-26 9:18-26 9:18-26 9:18 9:18-19
      9:19  
      9:20-21 9:20-22
      9:22  
      9:23-24a 9:23-26
      9:24b-26  
The Healing of Two Blind Men Two Blind Men Healed   Jesus Heals Two Blind Men Cure of Two Blind Men
9:27-31 9:27-31 9:27-31 9:27 9:27-31
      9:28a-b  
      9:28c  
      9:29-30  
      9:31  
The Healing of a Dumb Man A Mute Man Speaks   Jesus Heals a Dumb Man Cure of a Dumb Demoniac
9:32-34 9:32-34 9:32-34 9:32-33 9:32-34
The Compassion of Jesus     9:34 The Distress of the Crowds
9:35-38 9:35-38 9:35-38 9:35-38 9:35
        9:36-37

 

READING CYCLE THREE (from "A Guide to Good Bible Reading")

 

FOLLOWING THE ORIGINAL AUTHOR'S INTENT AT THE PARAGRAPH LEVEL

This is a study guide commentary which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

Read the chapter in one sitting. Identify the subjects. Compare your subject divisions with the five translations above. Paragraphing is not inspired, but it is the key to following the original author's intent, which is the heart of interpretation. Every paragraph has one and only one subject.

1. First paragraph

2. Second paragraph

3. Third paragraph

4. Etc.

 

BACKGROUND TO MATTHEW 9:1-38

A. Matthew often condenses events which are recorded in much fuller detail in both Mark and Luke. Interpreters should not compare the other Gospels seeking fuller details until they have determined how/why the individual Gospel writer recorded the events as he did. We are not looking for a complete history, but for the theological intent of the inspired writer (cf. Gordon Fee and Douglas Stuart's How to Study the Bible for All Its Worth, pp. 120-129) .

 

B. This chapter breaks into several distinct units:

1. Verses 1-8, cf. Mark 2:3-12 and Luke 5:17-26

2. Verses 9-17, cf. Mark 2:14-22 and Luke 5:27-38

3. Verses 18-26, cf. Mark 5:22-43 and Luke 8:41-56

4. Verses 27-31, which are unique to Matthew

5. Verses 32-34, which are also unique to Matthew

6. Verses 35-38, many believe that this is an introduction to the mission of the Twelve which should go with Matthew 10

 

C. Matthew 8 showed His power over diseases, nature, and the demonic. Matthew used this section to show the power and authority of Jesus over different types of circumstances.

 

WORD AND PHRASE STUDY

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: MATTHEW 9:1
 1Getting into a boat, Jesus crossed over the sea and came to His own city.

9:1 Contextually this verse should go with Matthew 8, as it is a transitional verse leading to the next event. Capernaum became the headquarters of Jesus' ministry (cf. Mark 2:1; Matt. 4:13) after the experience of unbelief and rejection in Nazareth where he spent His childhood.

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: MATTHEW 9:2-8
 2And they brought to Him a paralytic lying on a bed. Seeing their faith, Jesus said to the paralytic, "Take courage, son; your sins are forgiven." 3And some of the scribes said to themselves, "This fellow blasphemes." 4And Jesus knowing their thoughts said, " Why are you thinking evil in your hearts? 5Which is easier, to say, 'Your sins are forgiven,'or to say, 'Get up, and walk'? 6But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins" -then he said to the paralytic, "Get up, pick up your bed and go home." 7And he got up and went home. 8But when the crowds saw this, they were awestruck, and glorified God, who had given such authority to men.

9:2 "they brought to Him a paralytic" Fuller details of this event are found in Mark 2:1-22. This is the account in which the friends of the paralytic man tear the roof apart and lower him to the floor at Jesus' feet.

▣ "Seeing their faith, Jesus" In context "their faith" referred not only to the man who needed healing, but primarily to his friends who had so much ingenuity and persistence.

▣ "Take courage son; your sins are forgiven" This is a present active imperative (cf. Matt. 9:22) and a present passive indicative. The Jews often related sin and sickness (cf. John. 5:14; 9:2; and James 5:15-16). Although Jesus apparently recognized the connection, He also seemed to resist a formal linkage (cf. John. 9:3 and Luke 13:2-3). This is a powerful statement of Jesus' self understanding. Only God can forgive sin (i.e., passive voice)!

Jesus addressed this man as "child" (teknon). However, this was not an indication of his age, but a term of endearment (cf. Mark 10:24; also possibly Luke 16:25 and Gen. 43:29 in the LXX).

9:3 "the scribes" Since the Babylonian captivity, the Temple had been somewhat rivaled by the Synagogue as the place of honor in Jewish society. These local experts in the Jewish law, following the tradition of Ezra, became known as scribes (see Special Topic at Matt. 12:38, Ezra 7:8,10). They were from several theological backgrounds, but they were mostly Pharisees. Whether they were present because of genuine interest or to spy on Jesus is uncertain. They would certainly have been astonished at His claiming to have the power to forgive sin. They believed that only God had this power. In this context, they condemned the radical claims of Jesus as blasphemy (cf. Mark 2:7); indeed, they were blasphemy if Jesus was not the Incarnate Son of God!

9:4 "and Jesus knowing their thoughts" Whether this is an example of Jesus' supernatural knowledge, which seems to be implied from the context, or whether someone in the crowd passed on their grumbling verbally is uncertain. There are passages in the New Testament which imply that Jesus knew human nature well and other passages which imply that He used His supernatural power.

There is a manuscript variation between

1. seeing (idōn) - א, C, D, L, W, and the old Latin, Vulgate, and Coptic translations

2. knowing (eidōs) - B, Ec, and the Syrian and Armenian translations

The UBS4 rates #1 as "B" (almost certain). The second option probably comes from Matt. 12:25; Luke 6:8; 9:47. The NASB, NKJV, and NJB follow option #2.

9:5 "Which is easier, to say 'Your sins are forgiven'or to say 'Get up, and walk'" To say, "Your sins are forgiven" is harder, but it is not as obvious as a physical healing. Both are impossible for sinful mortals!

9:6 "But so that you may know" Throughout the Gospels Jesus was concerned not only with the poor and needy, but also the Jewish leadership (cf. John. 11:42,45). Jesus was confronting them for the purpose of turning them to faith in Himself. This healing was as much for the scribes as it was for the paralyzed man and his friends. As a matter of fact, this is true of most of Jesus' healing ministry. Often these acts of power were to encourage the faith of the disciples or engender faith in by-standers.

▣ "the Son of Man" This was an adjectival phrase from the OT. It was used in Ezek. 2:1 and Ps. 8:4 in its true etymological meaning of " human being." However, it was used in Dan. 7:13 in a unique context which implied both the humanity and deity of the person addressed by this title. Since this title was not used by rabbinical Judaism and, therefore, had none of the nationalistic, exclusivistic, militaristic implications, Jesus chose it as the perfect title of both veiling and revealing His dual nature (cf. 1 John. 4:1-6). It was His favorite self-designation.

▣ "has authority on earth to forgive sins" This term " authority" (exousia) was the word for "right," " power" or "authority." It strongly implied Jesus' Messiahship, if not His Deity. The Jews were not expecting the Messiah to be divine, but to be a supernaturally-empowered military/political leader, like the Judges of the OT. It is only through NT progressive revelation that believers recognized the incarnational nature of the Messiah (i.e., John 1:1; 5:18; 8:58; 10:30,34-38; 14:9-10; 20:28; Rom. 9:5; Phil. 2:6-7; Heb. 1:8; 2 Pet. 1:1).

▣ "He said to the paralytic, 'Get up, pick up your bed, and go home'" There are three verbals in this phrase.

1. " get up" is an aorist passive participle used as an imperative

2. " pick up your bed" is an aorist active imperative

3. " go home" is a present active imperative.

The implication of these tenses would have been that God was the agent of the passive voice, "be raised up." The two imperatives would speak of the man's actions immediately after his healing. Taking up his bed was a sign that his days of begging were over and he was returning home. This healing confirmed Jesus' claim of Deity and Messiahship!

9:8 "But when the crowds saw this, they were awestruck" There is a Greek manuscript problem here connected to the term "awestruck." The oldest and best Greek texts have "were afraid" (MSS א, B, D, W). Later texts softened the term to "marveled" or NKJV "were astonished" (MSS C, L). Some Greek manuscripts simply left the phrase out (MS X). The UBS4 gives option #1 an "A" rating (certain).

The crowds were not accustomed to someone speaking with this kind of authority. Rabbinical Judaism had become trapped by tradition and the quoting of the ancient sayings of the rabbis. Jesus spoke with truth and authority, which this generation of Jewish people had never heard. They praised God for giving this kind of power to a man. This may be a veiled allusion to the humanity of Jesus which was questioned by the early church heresy called "Gnosticism." It is also likely from further reading of the NT that the religious leaders were jealous of Jesus' popularity.

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: MATTHEW 9:9
 9As Jesus went on from there, He saw a man called Matthew, sitting in the tax collector's booth; and He said to him, " Follow Me!" And he got up and followed Him.

9:9 "As Jesus went on from there" Verses 9-17 are expressed in more detail in the other Synoptic Gospel parallels, Mark 2 and Luke 5.

▣ "He saw a man called Matthew" From Mark 2:14 and Luke 5:27 we learn that his other name was Levi. This does not imply that he was a priest or a Levite. Jews often had two names, one Jewish and one Greek, given to them usually at birth. This is the disciple to whom authorship of this Gospel is attributed. Jesus may have chosen him because of his gift of keeping meticulous records or as a way of showing His love to all people, even tax-collectors!

▣ "sitting in the tax-collector's booth" Capernaum was located by the Sea of Galilee between the jurisdictions of Philip the Tetrarch and Herod the Tetrarch. Therefore, the taxation would be between the areas of Syria and Judea. The office of tax collector was purchased from the Herodian or Roman authorities. It was often done with the implied suggestion that all of the extra revenue which was collected would be the wage of the one having the office. This was notoriously practiced in Jesus' day and, therefore, the office had become a synonym for evil and exploitation. Tax-collectors were certainly not welcome at the local synagogue or in Jewish society.

▣ "'Follow Me!'And he got up and followed Him" This was probably not the first time Matthew had heard Jesus. Apparently he had been exposed to Jesus' teachings on many occasions and this was the culmination of an official call (present active imperative) of a rabbi to a follower to come and be a full-time disciple (cf. Matt. 4:19,21).

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: MATTHEW 9:10-13
 10Then it happened that as Jesus was reclining at the table in the house, behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and were dining with Jesus and His disciples. 11When the Pharisees saw this, they said to His disciples, "Why is your Teacher eating with the tax collectors and sinners?" 12But when Jesus heard this, He said, "It is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick. 13But go and learn what this means: 'I desire compassion, and not sacrifice,'for I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners."

9:10 This referred to Matthew's house, not Jesus' . Apparently the giving of a banquet after a meaningful decision in life was quite common because Zaccheus, another tax-collector, does the same thing (cf. Luke 19). "Notorious sinners" would refer basically to those outcasts of Jewish society who could not perform the meticulous details of the Mosaic Law as amplified in the oral tradition of rabbinical Judaism. That some of them were openly immoral people is possible, but again, it may have been that their trade or occupation was unacceptable to the Jewish leaders (i.e., shepherds, tanners, etc.).

The phrase "took their seats" meant "reclined." The people during this historical period reclined on their left elbows when they ate. Only in Egypt did people sit at a table to eat.

9:11 "when the Pharisees saw this, they said to His disciples" These Pharisees were present at the dinner, but were not a part of the dinner. It seems unusual but in the ancient world anyone could come and stand around the walls or look in the windows and participate in the conversation without being an official guest at the dinner. Apparently "the Pharisees" was another name for "the scribes" who were mentioned earlier in this context. They were a group of committed Jews who followed a particular tradition which affirmed the oral tradition of the Jews (the Talmud). Notice that they confronted the disciples and not Jesus Himself. Jesus, by eating with these notorious sinners, was expressing fellowship and friendship. John the Baptist had come earlier as an ascetic and the Jewish leaders had rejected him and now they rejected Jesus who came as a more social person (cf. Matt. 11:19; Luke 7:34). They even accused Jesus of being a "wine-bibber" which meant a "glutton" or "one who over-drinks." Quite often religious conservatism has an ugly and self-righteous side. For a full discussion of the origin and theology of the Pharisees, see note at Matt. 22:15.

9:12 "But when Jesus heard this, He said" On this occasion Jesus obviously did not read the minds of the Pharisees (cf. v.4). Either it was conveyed to Him what they were saying or He heard them Himself.

▣ "It is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick"This does not imply that the Pharisees were without sin; rather it was a sarcastic response.

9:13 "But go and learn what this means" This is a quote from Hosea 6:6 (as is Matt. 12:7). This verse began with an aorist imperative phrase which was an idiom that the rabbis used to tell their students to study a particular issue. Verse 13 is unique to Matthew's Gospel.

▣ "for I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners" Luke 5:32, which is the Synoptic parallel to this account, adds "to repentance." Matthew's account, although it does not specifically record this, implied it. The two necessary responses for people to be right with God were repentance and faith (cf. Mark 1:15; Acts 3:16, 19; 20:21). Jesus even asserted that unless people repent they shall perish (cf. Luke 13:5). Repentance basically is a turning from self, sin, and rebellion and turning to God's will and way for one's life. It is not so much an emotion as it is a change in priority and lifestyle. It is willingness to change. See Special Topic at Matt. 3:2.

The verb "call" (kaleō) can be understood as " invite" (cf. Matt. 22:2-10 and Luke 14:16-25; John 2:2; Rev. 19:9). In a theological sense this accentuates the covenant concept.

1. God invites (divine call)

2. humans must respond (with initial and continuing faith, repentance, obedience, and perseverance)

 

See SPECIAL TOPIC: ELECTION/PREDESTINATION AND THE NEED FOR A THEOLOGICAL BALANCE at Matt. 24:22.

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: MATTHEW 9:14-17
 14Then the disciples of John came to Him, asking, "Why do we and the Pharisees fast, but Your disciples do not fast?" 15And Jesus said to them, "The attendants of the bridegroom cannot mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them, can they? But the days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast. 16But no one puts a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment; for the patch pulls away from the garment, and a worse tear results. 17Nor do people put new wine into old wineskins; otherwise the wineskins burst, and the wine pours out and the wineskins are ruined; but they put new wine into fresh wineskins, and both are preserved."

9:14 "then the disciples of John came to Him" It is uncertain whether they were (1) truly interested, (2) truly confused, or (3) trying to trick Him. They, like the Pharisees, were uninvited guests, but were apparently present at the feast. There were many disciples of John the Baptist, as can be seen from Acts 19:1ff.

▣ "Why do we and the Pharisees fast, but Your disciples do not fast" In the Old Testament there was only one official fast day called Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement, cf. Leviticus 16) held each year. However, the rabbis had made the second and fifth days of the week fast days also (cf. Luke 18:12), supposedly basing them on the day that Moses went up on Mt. Sinai and on the day that he came back down. Fasting had become a way to prove one's religious commitment. Jesus does not condemn the practice, but neither does He affirm it as required. See SPECIAL TOPIC: FASTING at Matt. 6:16.

There is a Greek manuscript problem in this verse connected with the term " often," found in NKJV and NRSV, apparently from the parallel in Luke 5:33. The Markan parallel 2:18 just has "fast." The UBS4 Committee put the other term "much" in brackets because they were uncertain whether it was original with Matthew or added later by a copyist from Luke.

9:15 The grammar of this question expects a " no" answer.

▣ "But the days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast" Jesus assumed that His disciples would fast after He was crucified. This is the first time that the crucifixion was implied. The verb apairo (" taken away"), used in this phrase, has violent connotations (cf. Mark 2:20; Luke 5:35). Jesus' analogy of "the bridegroom," had Messianic connotations. See Special Topic: Fasting at Matt. 6:16.

9:16-17 There has been much discussion about how to apply this truth. It seems to emphasize the need to be flexible in one's faith. However, one must be careful as to the nature and extent of this flexibility. It is in reality a condemnation of rabbinical Judaism's literalistic interpretation of the Oral Tradition. Jesus' message was radically new and different from the Jewish sects of His day! God help us, sometimes we are more committed to our traditions and legalisms than we are to a dynamic, obedient, daily relationship with God (cf. Isa. 6:9-10; 29:13). This parable is paralleled in Mark 2:19-20 and Luke 5:33-39. Something new has come (i.e., the gospel) and it has changed everything!

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: MATTHEW 9:18-19
 18While He was saying these things to them, a synagogue official came and bowed down before Him, and said, "My daughter has just died; but come and lay Your hand on her, and she will live." 19Jesus got up and began to follow him, and so did His disciples.

9:18 "a synagogue official came and bowed down before Him" A much more detailed account is found in Mark 5:22-43 and Luke 8:41-56. The person was literally a "synagogue ruler" (cf. Mark 5:22; John 3:1). This was a man who was responsible for the physical condition of the synagogue as well as its regular activities. He acted in an uncharacteristic way by publicly running up to a controversial, unofficial rabbi such as Jesus and by falling at His feet. However, he was greatly concerned about the condition of his daughter, whom he loved. When one compares this passage with Mark 5:21 and Luke 8:42, there is some discrepancy as to whether the daughter was at the point of death or was already dead.

9:19 "Jesus got up and began to follow him" Apparently this man's faith was connected to (1) the physical presence of Jesus, (2) the act of laying on of hands, and (3) prayer. In Matt. 11:5 the raising of the dead was one of the signs mentioned to John the Baptist to validate the Messianic ministry of Jesus. Whether this was truly an act of resuscitation or an act of healing from a coma is uncertain from the context.

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: MATTHEW 9:20-22
 20And a woman who had been suffering from a hemorrhage for twelve years came up behind Him and touched the fringe of His cloak; 21for she was saying to herself, "If I only touch His garment, I will get well." 22But Jesus turning and seeing her said, "Daughter, take courage; your faith has made you well." At once the woman was made well.

9:20 "a woman who had been suffering from a hemorrhage for twelve years" We learn more details about this account from Mark 5:26 and Luke 8:43. Apparently she had spent all of her money on doctors and had received no help. We know of some of the magical cures in rabbinical Judaism from the Talmud, particularly Shabb, 110 A and B. One of the cures was to carry ostrich eggs or barley corn obtained from the dung of a white donkey around one's neck. One can imagine the grotesque kinds of cures this woman had tried during these twelve years. This particular kind of illness made her ceremonially unclean and unwelcome in regular Jewish worship services (cf. Lev. 15:25). Also she was probably physically exhausted most of the time.

9:21 "if I only touch His garment, I will get well" There was an element of superstition in this woman's faith and yet Jesus honors even her weak faith (third class conditional sentence). Based on Lev. 15:19ff. it would have been illegal for her to touch a rabbi because it would have made Jesus ceremonially unclean. Jesus was more concerned with people than He was with ceremonial laws!

The garment referred to was possibly (1) Jesus' outer robe (cf. John 19:2) or (2) Jesus' prayer shawl (talith), which He used to cover His head during worship (cf. Num. 15:38-40; Deut. 22:12; Matt. 23:5) and worn on the shoulders at other times.

9:22 "your faith has made you well" This is literally the term "saved." It was used in its OT sense of "physical deliverance" (cf. James 5:15). This woman's faith, weak though it was because of superstition, was still honored by Jesus. In the NT it is the object of ones faith that is the issue.

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: MATTHEW 9:23-26
 23When Jesus came into the official's house, and saw the flute-players and the crowd in noisy disorder, 24He said, " Leave; for the girl has not died, but is asleep." And they began laughing at Him. 25 But when the crowd had been sent out, He entered and took her by the hand, and the girl got up. 26This news spread throughout all that land.

9:23 "Jesus came into the official's house, and saw the flute players and the crowd in noisy disorder" It was a common practice in rabbinical Judaism (cf. Jer. 9:17; 48:36) that when someone died, even in the poorest family, at least two flute players and one wailing woman had to be hired for a standard funeral. Funerals were a very outward and emotional communal experience.

9:24 "Leave; for the girl has not died, but is asleep" " Sleep" was not often used of death, but in this context it was contrasted with death. Whether it was a deep coma or death, a miracle of healing truly occurred.

9:25 "but when the crowd had been sent out" Luke 8:51 notes that the parents and the inner circle of disciples, Peter, James, and John, were allowed to stay.

▣ "took her by the hand" From Mark 5:41 more details are recorded as to what Jesus said to the girl. Touching a dead body would have made Him ceremonially unclean. But, when one has the power of life over death, there is no such thing as a dead body!

9:26 "this news spread throughout all that land" The reason that Jesus emptied the room was so that no one would spread the news about this miraculous healing (cf. Matt. 8:4; 9:30; 12:16; 16:20; 17:9; Mark 1:44; 3:12; 5:43; 7:36; 8:30; 9:9; Luke 4:41; 5:14; 8:56; 9:21). However, with the funeral process well under way, the restoration of this young girl would certainly have been broadcast.

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: MATTHEW 9:27-31
 27As Jesus went on from there, two blind men followed Him, crying out, "Have mercy on us, Son of David!" 28When He entered the house, the blind men came up to Him, and Jesus said to them, "Do you believe that I am able to do this?" They said to Him, "Yes, Lord." 29Then He touched their eyes, saying, "It shall be done to you according to your faith." 30And their eyes were opened. And Jesus sternly warned them: " See that no one knows about this!" 31But they went out and spread the news about Him throughout all that land.

9:27 "two blind men followed Him, crying out" It was characteristic in the Synoptic Gospels'miracle accounts that Matthew always records two persons whereas Mark and Luke only record one (cf. Matt. 8:28 and 20:30). The exact reason for this is uncertain. It has been speculated that Matthew wanted two witnesses to fulfill OT witness requirements (cf. Num. 35:30; Deut. 17:6; 19:15).

▣ "Have mercy on us, Son of David" This OT title is also used in Matt. 1:20. It apparently had Messianic implications going back to 2 Samuel 7 (cf. Matt. 1:1; 12:23; 15:22; 20:30; 21:9,15). Exactly what these people understood by these titles is uncertain, but surely it was a sign of their faith, not a full theological understanding of the person of Christ. The Jews of Jesus' day expected the Messiah to be a healer from Isa. 35:5-6.

9:28 "Yes, Lord" This is the title "kurios." It was used in the sense of "sir" or "mister" or it could have been a full theological title of Jesus' Deity. Here it seems to be used more in the popular sense although these blind men's use of the title "Son of David" implied some theological understanding. Jesus took them off away from the crowd because He did not want to broadcast their healing (cf. Matt. 9:26, 30; 8:4).

9:29 "He touched their eyes" It is amazing how many accounts of the healing of blind people are recorded in the Gospels. However, they are performed with great variety. Here Jesus touched their eyes, apparently to increase their faith. Restoring sight to the blind was one of the prophetic evidences of the Messiah (cf. Ps. 146:8; Isa. 29:18; 35:5; 42:7, 16, 18; Matt. 11:5).

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: MATTHEW 9:32-34
 32As they were going out, a mute, demon-possessed man was brought to Him. 33After the demon was cast out, the mute man spoke; and the crowds were amazed, and were saying, " Nothing like this has ever been seen in Israel." 34But the Pharisees were saying, "He casts out the demons by the ruler of the demons."

9:32 "a mute, demon-possessed man" A sharp distinction was made in the Gospels between demon possession and physical illness. A good example of this is found in Mark 7:32 and 9:25: a physically dumb man was healed while a demonized man, who was also dumb, was exorcized. Although demonic forces can cause physical illness, not all physical illness is demonic. The NT affirms the presence of demons in our world. Those who have spent much time in Third World countries affirm this reality and see this manifestation much more often and in NT categories. This is not to imply there are more demons in the Third World. The modern western worldview is biased against the supernatural. See special topic at Matt. 10:1.

The term "mute" (kōphos) can mean

1. deaf (cf. Matt. 11:5; Mark 7:32,37; Luke 7:22, so used by Homer)

2. dumb (cf. Matt. 12:22; 15:30-31; Luke 1:22; 11:14, so used by Herodotus)

The first could lead to the second. Context is the best clue as to which meaning is intended.

9:34

NASB, NKJV,
NRSV" He casts out the demons by the ruler of the demons"
TEV"It is the chief of the demons who gives him the power to drive them out"
NJB"It is through the prince of devils that he drives out devils"

The "ruler of demons" refers to the chief demon who in Matt. 10:25 is called Beelzebul. Both titles are together in Matt. 12:24. See full note on this name there.

It is amazing that the Pharisees who saw Jesus' power and heard His teachings could have rejected Him simply because He violated their traditions. This same account is found in Mark 3:22 and Luke 11:15. This same blasphemy is recorded as coming from the crowd in John. 7:20. They could not deny the reality of these miraculous events, so they attributed them to the power of the evil one.

Jesus fully answered this charge, which is often called the "unpardonable sin" in Matt. 12:22ff. The unpardonable sin is apparently the continual rejection of faith in Jesus in the presence of great light. These people were so blinded by their preconceived notions that they were unable to see the gospel which was revealed so clearly in the words and actions of Jesus Christ. When your light has become darkness, how great is the darkness (cf. Matt. 6:23; 2 Cor. 4:4).

It is interesting that this verse is omitted in the Greek manuscript D (Bezae) and some Old Latin MSS, but present in all the older uncial manuscripts. The verse is present in Matt. 12:24 and Luke 11:15. The UBS4 rates its inclusion as "B" (almost certain).

▣ "by the ruler of the demons" The phrase referred to Satan (cf. Matt. 12:24-32, Mark 3:22, and Luke 11:15). The attitude of the Pharisees in denying Jesus' power and authority led them to the unpardonable sin of turning God's light into darkness!

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: MATTHEW 9:35-38
 35Jesus was going through all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every kind of disease and every kind of sickness. 36Seeing the people, He felt compassion for them, because they were distressed and dispirited like sheep without a shepherd. 37Then he said to His disciples, "The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. 38Therefore beseech the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into His harvest."

9:35-38 There are two possible ways of relating this summary statement (1) as a summary going back to 4:23 or (2) an introduction of the mission of the Twelve in Matthew 10.

9:35 "proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom" The kingdom of God was the focus of Jesus' first and last sermons and most of His parables. It apparently referred to the reign of God in men's hearts now that will one day be consummated over all the earth (cf. Matt. 6:10). See special topic at Matt. 4:17.

The term "gospel" (euangelion) is used in summary statements by Matthew in Matt. 4:23 and 9:35. It is used by Jesus in Matt. 24:14 and 26:13. The term becomes a standard way of referring collectively to the life, teaching, death, resurrection, second coming, and offer of salvation in Paul. Only in the second century does the term begin to denote the four written accounts on Jesus' life (i.e., Gospels, in Ireneaus and Clement of Alexandria).

9:36 "He felt compassion" It is comforting to know how caring Jesus the Messiah was (cf. Matt. 14:14; 15:32; 20:34) to the socially and religiously outcast. His compassion for them is expressed in these same terms in Luke 13:34.

▣ "like sheep without a shepherd" "Shepherd" was a common metaphor for religious leaders (cf. Num. 27:17; 1 Kgs. 22:17; Ezek. 34:1-16). It was sometimes used in the sense of false shepherds (cf. Ezek. 34; Zech. 11:5). Jesus is the good shepherd (cf. John. 10; Zech 11:7-14; 13:7-9).

9:37-38 God sees His world in an entirely different light than humans (cf. Isa. 55:8-9). Believers need to be praying for God to thrust or drive out laborers into His harvest field. Seeing the need does not constitute a call but, thank God, when we pray, God sometimes allows us to go! Notice that the world is seen as God's harvest field. This is His world. He loves it. He wants it redeemed (cf. John. 3:16; 1 Tim. 2:4; 2 Pet. 3:9).

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

This is a study guide commentary which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

These discussion questions are provided to help you think through the major issues of this section of the book. They are meant to be thought provoking, not definitive.

1. Why do these same teachings seem to appear with different details and settings in the Synoptic Gospels?

2. What is the significance of Jesus' forgiving the sins of the paralytic man?

3. What is the theological significance of the term "Son of Man" ?

4. Why is it significant that Jesus ate with sinners and tax collectors?

5. What does Jesus say about fasting?

6. Why did the sick woman want to touch Jesus' clothing?

7. Describe an oriental funeral.

8. Why does Matthew consistently record two blind men or angels while Mark and Luke only record one?

9. Explain the difference between physical illness and demonic possession.

10. How did the Pharisees commit the unpardonable sin in Matt. 9:34?

11. What do verses 37 and 38 say about the heart of God?

 

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