1When he was come down from the mountain, great multitudes followed him.
1 CHAPTER VIII.
NOTES ON CHAP. VIII.
Verse 1. From the mountain] That mountain on which he had
delivered the preceding inimitable sermon.
Great multitudes followed him.] Having been deeply impressed
with the glorious doctrines which they had just heard.
2And, behold, there came a leper and worshipped him, saying, Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean.
2 Verse 2. And, behold, there came a leper] The leprosy λεπρα,
from λεπις, a scale, was an inveterate cutaneous disease,
appearing in dry, thin, white scurfy scales or scabs, either on
the whole body, or on some part of it, usually attended with
violent itching, and often with great pain. The eastern leprosy
was a distemper of the most loathsome kind, highly contagious, so
as to infect garments, (, &c.,) and houses, (,
&c.,) and was deemed incurable by any human means. Among the
Jews, GOD alone was applied to for its removal; and the cure was
ever attributed to his sovereign power.
The various symptoms of this dreadful disorder, which was a
striking emblem of sin, may be seen in Lev. 13:, 14:, where also
may be read the legal ordinances concerning it; which, as on the
one hand, they set forth how odious sin is to God, so, on the
other, they represent the cleansing of our pollutions by the
sacrifice and resurrection of Christ, by the sprinkling and
application of his blood, and by the sanctifying and healing
influences of the Holy Spirit.
The Greek name λεπρα, seems to have been given to this
distemper, on account of the thin, white SCALES (λεπιδες) with
which the bodies of the leprous were sometimes so covered as to
give them the appearance of snow, .
Herodotus, lib. 1, mentions this disorder as existing, in his
time, among the Persians. He calls it λευκην, the white scab;
and says, that those who were affected with it were prohibited
from mingling with the other citizens; and so dreadful was this
malady esteemed among them that they considered it a punishment
on the person, from their great god, the sun, for some evil
committed against him. Dr. Mead mentions a remarkable case of
this kind which came under his own observation. "A countryman
whose whole body was so miserably seized with it that his skin was
shining as covered with flakes of snow, and as the furfuraceous or
bran-like scales were daily rubbed off, the flesh appeared quick
or raw underneath." See the doctor's Medica Sacra, chap. 2. It
was probably on account of its tendency to produce this disorder,
in that warm climate, that God forbade the use of swine's flesh
to the Jews. Feeding on this crude aliment, in union with the
intemperate use of ardent spirits, is, in all likelihood, the
grand cause of the scurvy, which is so common in the British
nations, and which would probably assume the form and virulence of
a leprosy, were our climate as hot as that of Judea.
, and on Lev. 13: and 14.
Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean.] As this leper
may be considered as a fit emblem of the corruption of man by sin;
so may his cure, of the redemption of the soul by Christ. A
sinner, truly penitent, seeks God with a respectful faith;
approaches him in the spirit of adoration; humbles himself under
his mighty hand, acknowledging the greatness of his fall, and the
vileness of his sin; his prayer, like that of the leper, should be
humble, plain, and full of confidence in that God who can do all
things, and of dependence upon his will or mercy, from which all
good must be derived. It is peculiar to God that he need only
will what he intends to perform. His power is his will. The
ability of God to do what is necessary to be done, and his
willingness to make his creatures happy, should be deeply
considered by all those who approach him in prayer. The leper had
no doubt of the former, but he was far from being equally
satisfied in respect of the latter.
3And Jesus put forth his hand, and touched him, saying, I will; be thou clean. And immediately his leprosy was cleansed.
3 Verse 3. Jesus put forth his hand-I will; be thou clean.] The
most sovereign authority is assumed in this speech of our blessed
Lord-I WILL: there is here no supplication of any power superior
to his own; and the event proved to the fullest conviction, and by
the clearest demonstration, that his authority was absolute, and
his power unlimited. Be thou cleansed, καθαρισθητι; a single word
And immediately his leprosy was cleansed.] What an astonishing
sight! A man whose whole body was covered over with the most
loathsome disease, cleansed from it in a moment of time! Was it
possible for any soul to resist the evidence of this fact? This
action of Christ is a representation of that invisible hand which
makes itself felt by the most insensible heart; of that internal
word which makes itself heard by the most deaf; and of that
supreme will which works every thing according to its own counsel.
4And Jesus saith unto him, See thou tell no man; but go thy way, shew thyself to the priest, and offer the gift that Moses commanded, for a testimony unto them.
4 Verse 4. Jesus saith-See thou tell no man] Had our Lord, at
this early period, fully manifested himself as the Messiah, the
people in all likelihood would have proclaimed him King; this,
however, refused by him, must have excited the hatred of the
Jewish rulers, and the jealousy of the Roman government; and,
speaking after the manner of men, his farther preachings and
miracles must have been impeded. This alone seems to be the
reason why he said to the leper, See thou tell no man.
Show thyself to the priest] This was to conform to the law
instituted in this case, , &c.
Offer the gift] This gift was two living, clean birds, some
cedar wood, with scarlet and hyssop, , which were to be
brought for his cleansing; and, when clean, two he lambs, one ewe
lamb, three tenth deals of flour, and one log of oil, ;
but if the person was poor, then he was to bring one lamb, one
tenth deal of flour, one log of oil and two turtle doves, or young
pigeons, . See the notes on Lev. 14.
Now all this was to be done for a testimony to them; to prove
that this leper, who was doubtless well known in the land, had
been thoroughly cleansed; and thus, in this private way, to give
full proof to the priesthood that Jesus was the true Messiah. The
Jewish rabbins allowed that curing the lepers should be a
characteristic of the Messiah; (see Bishop Chandler's
Vindication;) therefore the obstinacy of the priests, &c., in
rejecting Christ, was utterly inexcusable.
5 ¶ And when Jesus was entered into Capernaum, there came unto him a centurion, beseeching him,
5 Verse 5. Capernaum] .
A centurion] εκατονταρχος. A Roman military officer who had
the command of one hundred men.
6And saying, Lord, my servant lieth at home sick of the palsy, grievously tormented.
6 Verse 6. Lord] Rather, Sir, for so the word κυριε should
always be translated when a Roman is the speaker.
Lieth at home] βεβληται, lieth all along; intimating that the
disease had reduced him to a state of the utmost impotence,
through the grievous torments with which it was accompanied.
Sick of the palsy] Or paralytic. .
This centurion did not act as many masters do when their servants
are afflicted, have them immediately removed to an infirmary, often
to a work-house; or sent home to friends or relatives, who probably
either care nothing for them, or are unable to afford them any of
the comforts of life. In case of a contagious disorder, it may be
necessary to remove an infected person to such places as are best
calculated to cure the distemper, and prevent the spread of the
contagion. But, in all common cases, the servant should be
considered as a child, and receive the same friendly attention.
If, by a hasty, unkind, and unnecessary removal, the servant die,
are not the master and mistress murderers before God?
7And Jesus saith unto him, I will come and heal him.
7 Verse 7. I will come and heal him.] εγωελοθωνθεραπευσω
αυτον, I am coming, and will heal him. This saying is worthy of
observation. Jesus did not positively say, I will came and heal
him; this could not have been strictly true, because our Lord
healed him without going to the house: and the issue shows that
the words ought to be taken in the most literal sense: thus
understood, they contained a promise which it seems none of them
distinctly comprehended. Foreseeing the exercise of the
centurion's faith, he promises that while he is coming, ere he
arrives at the house, he will heal him, and this was literally
done, . There is much beauty in this passage.
8The centurion answered and said, Lord, I am not worthy that thou shouldest come under my roof: but speak the word only, and my servant shall be healed.
8 Verse 8. But speak the word only] Or instead of ειπελογον
read ειπελογω, speak by word or command. This reading is
supported by the most extensive evidence from MSS., versions, and
fathers. See here the pattern of that living faith and genuine
humility which ought always to accompany the prayer of a sinner:
Jesus can will away the palsy, and speak away the most grievous
torments. The first degree of humility is to acknowledge the
necessity of God's mercy, and our own inability to help ourselves:
the second, to confess the freeness of his grace, and our own
utter unworthiness. Ignorance, unbelief, and presumption will
ever retard our spiritual cure.
9 For I am a man under authority, having soldiers under me: and I say to this man, Go, and he goeth; and to another, Come, and he cometh; and to my servant, Do this, and he doeth it.
9 Verse 9. For I am a man under authority] That is, under the
authority of others. This verse has given considerable
embarrassment to commentators and critics. I believe the
paraphrase given above to be the true meaning of the evangelist.
To make this matter more plain, let it be observed, that the Roman
foot was divided into three grand parts, Hastati, Principes, and
Triarii. Each of these grand divisions was composed of thirty
manipuli or companies; and every manipulus made two centuries
or companies of one hundred men. Every manipulus had two
centurions; but these were very far from being equal in rank and
honour, though possessing the very same office. The Triarii and
Principes were esteemed the most honourable, and had their
centurions elected first; and these first elected centurions took
precedency of the centurions of the Hastati, who were elected
last. The centurion in the text was probably one of this last
order; he was under the authority of either the Principes or
Triarii, and had none under him but the hundred men whom he
commanded, and who appear to have been in a state of the most
loving subjection to him. The argument of the centurion seems to
run thus. If I, who am a person subject to the control of others,
yet have some so completely subject to myself, that I can say to
one, Come, and he cometh, to another, Go, and he goeth, and to my
slave (τωδουλωμου) Do this, and he doeth it; how much more then
canst thou accomplish whatsoever thou willest, being under no
control, and having all things under thy command: He makes a
proper use of his authority, who, by it, raises his mind to the
contemplation of the sovereign power of God, taking occasion from
it to humble himself before Him who has all power in heaven and
earth, and to expect all good from him.
There are two beautiful passages in Arrian that tend much to
illustrate this speech of the centurion. καταταγειςαγαμεμνων
πορευομαιερχουερχομαι. "He who personates Agamemnon says to
me, Go to Achilles, and bring hither Briseis: I go. He says, Come
hither: I come." Dissert. l. i. c. 25. p. 97.
μενεικαιαναπαυεται. "When God commands the plants to blossom,
they bear blossoms. When he commands them to bear seed, they bear
seed. When he commands them to bring forth fruit, they put forth
their fruits. When he commands them to ripen, they grow ripe.
When he commands them to fade, and shed their leaves, and remain
inactive, involved in themselves, they thus remain, and are
inactive." Cap. 14. p. 62. See Raphelius.
This mode of speech fully marks supreme and uncontrolled power,
and that power put forth by a sovereign will to effect any purpose
of justice or mercy. And God said, let there be light, and there
was light, is a similar expression.
10 When Jesus heard it, he marvelled, and said to them that followed, Verily I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel.
10 Verse 10. I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel.]
That is, I have not found so great an instance of confidence and
faith in my power, even among the Jews, as this Roman, a Gentile,
has shown himself to possess.
From , where it is said of this centurion, "he loved our
nation, and has built us a synagogue," we may infer that this man
was like the centurion mentioned ; a devout Gentile, a
proselyte of the gate, one who believed in the God of Israel,
without conforming to the Jewish ritual or receiving circumcision.
Though the military life is one of the most improper nurses for
the Christian religion, yet in all nations there have been found
several instances of genuine humility, and faith in God, even in
soldiers; and perhaps never more, in the British military, than at
present, A. D. 1831.
11And I say unto you, That many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven.
11 Verse 11. Many shall come from the east and west] Men of every
description, of all countries, and of all professions; and shall
sit down, that is, to meat, for this is the proper meaning of
ανακλιθησονται, intimating the recumbent posture used by the
easterns at their meals. The rabbins represent the blessedness of
the kingdom of God under the notion of a banquet. See several
proofs of this in Schoettgenius. This was spoken to soften the
unreasonable prejudices of the Jews, which they entertained
against the Gentiles, and to prepare them to receive their
brethren of mankind into religious fellowship with themselves,
under the Christian dispensation.
With Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob] In the closest communion
with the most eminent followers of God. But if we desire to
inherit the promises, we must be followers of them who through
faith and patience enjoy them. Let us therefore imitate Abraham
in his faith, Isaac in his obedience unto death, and Jacob in his
hope and expectation of good things to come, amidst all the evils
of this life, if we desire to reign with them.
12 But the children of the kingdom shall be cast out into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
12 Verse 12. Shall be cast out into outer darkness] As the
enjoyment of that salvation which Jesus Christ calls the kingdom
of heaven is here represented under the notion of a nuptial
festival, at which the guests sat down in a reclining posture,
with the master of the feast; so the state of those who were
excluded from the banquet is represented as deep darkness; because
the nuptial solemnities took place at night. Hence, at those
suppers, the house of reception was filled with lights called
δαδεςλαμπαδεςλυκνειαφανοι, torches, lamps, candles, and
lanthorns, by Athenaeus and Plutarch: so they who were admitted
to the banquet had the benefit of the light; but they who were
shut out were in darkness, called here outer darkness, i.e. the
darkness on the outside of the house in which the guests were;
which must appear more abundantly gloomy, when compared with the
profusion of light within the guest-chamber. And because they who
were shut out were not only exposed to shame, but also to hunger
and cold; therefore it is added, there shall be weeping and
gnashing of teeth. As these feasts are often alluded to by the
evangelists, I would observe, once for all:-that they who were
invited to them entered by a gate designed to receive them; whence
Christ, by whom we enter into the marriage feast, compares himself
to a gate, .
This gate, at the time the guests were to come, was made narrow,
the wicket only being left open, and the porter standing there,
that they who were not bidden to the marriage might not rush into
it. Hence Christ exhorts the Jews to enter in at the strait gate,
, &c. When all that were invited were once come, the door
was presently shut, and was not to be opened to any who came too
late, and stood knocking without; so after the wise virgins had
entered with the bridegroom, the gate was shut, and was not opened
to the foolish virgins, who stood knocking without, .
And in this sense we are to understand the words of Christ,
. Many shall seek to enter in, but shall not be
able. Why? because the master of the house hath risen up and shut
to the door; they would not come to him when they might, and now
the day of probation is ended, and they must be judged according
to the deeds done in the body. See Whitby on the place. How many
of those who are called Christians suffer the kingdom, the graces,
and the salvation which they had in their hands, to be lost; while
West-India negroes, American Indians, Hindoo polytheists, and
atheistic Hottentots obtain salvation! An eternity of darkness,
fears, and pains, for comparatively a moment of sensual
gratification, how terrible the thought! What outer darkness, or
τοσκοτοςτοεξωτερον, that darkness, that which is outermost, may
refer to, in eternal damnation, is hard to say: what it alludes to
I have already mentioned: but as the words βρυγμοςτωνοδοντων,
gnashing or CHATTERING of teeth, convey the idea, not only of
extreme anguish, but of extreme cold; some have imagined that the
punishment of the damned consists in sudden transitions from
extreme heat to extreme cold; the extremes of both I have found to
produce exactly the same sensation.
MILTON happily describes this in the following inimitable
verses, which a man can scarcely read, even at midsummer, without
There is a passage in the Vulgate, , that might have
helped Milton to this idea. Ad nimium calorem transeat ab aquis
nivium. "Let him pass to excessive heat, from waters of snow."
This reading, which is found only in this form in the Vulgate, is
vastly expressive. Every body knows that snow water feels colder
than snow itself, even when both are of the same temperature, viz.
32�, because the human body, when in contact with snow water,
cools quicker than when in contact with snow. Another of our
poets has given us a most terrible description of perdition on the
Similar to this is that dreadful description of the torments of
the wicked given in the Institutes of Menu: "The wicked shall have
a sensation of agony in Tamisra, or utter darkness, and in other
seats of horror; in Asipatrauana, or the sword-leaved forest, and
in different places of binding fast, and of rending: multifarious
tortures await them: they shall be mangled by ravens and owls, and
shall swallow cakes boiling hot, and shall walk over inflamed
sands, and shall feel the pangs of being baked like the vessels of
a potter: they shall assume the forms of beasts continually
miserable, and suffer alternate afflictions from extremities of
cold and heat; surrounded with terrors of various kinds. They
shall have old age without resource; diseases attended with
anguish; pangs of innumerable sorts, and, lastly, unconquerable
Institutes of MENU, chap. 12. Inst. 75-80.
In the Zend Avesta, the place of wicked spirits is termed, "The
places of darkness, the germs of the thickest darkness." An
uncommonly significant expression: Darkness has its birth there:
there are its seeds and buds, there it vegetates everlastingly,
and its eternal fruit is-darkness!
See Zend Avesta, vol. i. Vendidad sadi, Fargard. xviii. p. 412.
And is this, or, any thing as bad as this, HELL? Yes, and worse
than the worst of all that has already been mentioned. Hear
Christ himself. There their worm dieth not, and the fire is NOT
QUENCHED! Great God! save the reader from this damnation!
13And Jesus said unto the centurion, Go thy way; and as thou hast believed, so be it done unto thee. And his servant was healed in the selfsame hour.
13 Verse 13. As thou hast believed; so be it done] Let the mercy
thou requestest be equal to the faith thou hast brought to receive
it by. ACCORDING to thy faith be it done unto thee, is a general
measure of God's dealings with mankind. To get an increase of
faith is to get an increase of every grace which constitutes the
mind that was in Jesus, and prepares fully for the enjoyment of
the kingdom of God. God is the same in the present time which he
was in ancient days; and miracles of healing may be wrought on our
own bodies and souls, and on those of others, by the
instrumentality of our faith. But, alas! where is faith to be
And his servant was healed in the selfsame hour.] εντηωρα
εκεινη, in that very hour. Faith is never exercised in the power
and goodness of God till it is needed; and, when it is exercised,
God works the miracle of healing. Christ never says, Believe now
for a salvation which thou now needest, and I will give it to thee
in some future time. That salvation which is expected through
works or sufferings must of necessity be future, as there must be
time to work or suffer in; but the salvation which is by faith
must be for the present moment, for this simple reason, IT IS BY
FAITH, that God may be manifested and honoured; and not by works
or by sufferings, lest any man should boast. To say that, though
it is of faith, yet it may; and, must in many cases, be delayed,
(though the person is coming in the most genuine humility, deepest
contrition, and with the liveliest faith in the blood of the
Lamb,) is to say that there is still something necessary to be
done, either on the part of the person, or on the part of God,
in order to procure it; neither of which positions has any truth
14 ¶ And when Jesus was come into Peter's house, he saw his wife's mother laid, and sick of a fever.
14 Verse 14. Peter's house] That Peter lived at Capernaum, and
that Christ lodged with him, is fully evident from this verse
compared with .
Peter's-wife's mother] Learn hence, says Theophylact, that
marriage is no hinderance to virtue, since the chief of the
apostles had his wife. Marriage is one of the first of Divine
institutions, and is a positive command of God. He says, the
state of celibacy is not GOOD, . Those who pretend to say
that the single state is more holy than the other slander their
Maker, and say in effect, "We are too holy to keep the
commandments of God."
15And he touched her hand, and the fever left her: and she arose, and ministered unto them.
15 Verse 15. He touched her hand] Can any thing on this side the
unlimited power of God effect such a cure with only a touch? If
the Scriptures had not spoken of the divinity of Christ, these
proofs of his power must have demonstrated it to the common sense
of every man whose creed had not previously blinded him.
Ministered unto them.] αυτοις, them, is the reading of most of
the printed editions, but αυτω, to him, has the utmost evidence
in its support from MSS., versions, and fathers. Serving Christ
in his ordinances and in his members is the best proof we can give
to others of our being soundly restored to spiritual health.
16 ¶ When the even was come, they brought unto him many that were possessed with devils: and he cast out the spirits with his word, and healed all that were sick:
16 Verse 16. When the even was come] The Jews kept their sabbath
from evening to evening, according to the law, ,
From evening to evening shall ye celebrate your sabbath. And the
rabbins say, The sabbath doth not enter but when the sun is set.
Hence it was that the sick were not brought out to our Lord till
after sun-set, because then the sabbath was ended.
Many that were possessed with devils] Dr. Lightfoot gives two
sound reasons why Judea, in our Lord's time, abounded with
demoniacs. First, Because they were then advanced to the very
height of impiety. See what Josephus, their own historian, says
of them: There was not (said he) a nation under heaven more wicked
than they were. . Secondly, Because they
were then strongly addicted to magic, and so, as it were, invited
evil spirits to be familiar with them. It seems strange to find
men at this distance of time questioning the truth of that which
neither scribes nor Pharisees then doubted; nor did they ever object
against the pretensions of Christ and his apostles to cast them
out. And, if the whole business of demonism had been only a
vulgar error, (as wise men now tell us,) what a fine opportunity
had the wise men then, to unmask the whole matter, and thus pour
contempt on the pretensions of our blessed Lord and his followers,
who held it to be one proof of their Divine mission, that demons
were subject to them!
And healed all that were sick] Not a soul did the Lord Jesus
ever reject, who came to him soliciting his aid. Need any sinner
despair who comes to him, conscious of his spiritual malady, to be
healed by his merciful hand?
17 That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet, saying, Himself took our infirmities, and bare our sicknesses.
17 Verse 17. Himself took our infirmities] The quotation is taken
where the verb nasa signifies to bear sin, so as to make
atonement for it. And the rabbins understand this place to speak
of the sufferings of the Messiah for the sins of Israel; and say
that all the diseases, all the griefs, and all the punishments due
to Israel shall be borne by him. See Synopsis Sohar. Christ
fulfils the prophecies in all respects, and is himself the
completion and truth of them, as being the lamb and victim of God,
which, bears and takes away the sin of the world. The text in
Isaiah refers properly to the taking away of sin; and this in the
evangelist, to the removal of corporeal afflictions: but, as the
diseases of the body are the emblems of the sin of the soul,
Matthew, referring to the prediction of the prophet, considered
the miraculous healing of the body as an emblem of the soul's
salvation by Christ Jesus.
18 ¶ Now when Jesus saw great multitudes about him, he gave commandment to depart unto the other side.
18 Verse 18. Unto the other side.] Viz. of the lake of
Genesareth, whence he proceeded to the country of the Gergesenes,
19And a certain scribe came, and said unto him, Master, I will follow thee whithersoever thou goest.
19 Verse 19. A certain scribe] Though ειςγραμματευς, ONE scribe,
may be considered as a Hebraism, yet it is probable that the
literal construction of it was intended, to show that few of this
class came to the Lord Jesus for instruction or salvation.
Master] Rather, teacher, διδασκαλε from διδασκω, I
teach, which itself seems to be derived from δεικω, I show, and
means the person who shows or points out a particular way or
I will follow thee whithersoever thou goest.] A man who is not
illuminated by the Spirit of God thinks himself capable of any
thing: he alone who is divinely taught knows he can do nothing but
through Christ strengthening him. Every teacher among the Jews
had disciples, and some especially that followed or accompanied
them wherever they went, that they might have some person at hand
with whom they might converse concerning the Divine law.
20 And Jesus saith unto him, The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head.
20 Verse 20. The foxes have holes, &c.] Reader! art thou a poor
man? and dost thou fear God? Then, what comfort must thou derive
from the thought, that thou so nearly resemblest the Lord Jesus!
But how unlike is the rich man, who is the votary of pleasure and
slave of sin, to this heavenly pattern!
Son of man] A Hebrew phrase, expressive of humiliation and
debasement; and, on that account, applied emphatically to himself,
by the meek and lowly Jesus. Besides, it seems here to be used to
point out the incarnation of the Son of God, according to the
predictions of the prophets, ; . And as our Lord
was now showing forth his eternal Divinity in the miracles he
wrought, he seems studious to prove to them the certainty of his
incarnation, because on this depended the atonement for sin.
Indeed our Lord seems more intent on giving the proofs of his
humanity, than of his divinity, the latter being necessarily
manifested by the miracles which he was continually working.
21And another of his disciples said unto him, Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father.
21 Verse 21. Another of his disciples] This does not mean any of
the twelve, but one of those who were constant hearers of our
Lord's preaching; the name of disciple being common to all those
who professed to believe in him, .
Bury my father: probably his father was old, and apparently near
death; but it was a maxim among the Jews, that, if a man had any
duty to perform to the dead, he was, for that time, free from the
observance of any other precept or duty. The children of Adam are
always in extremes; some will rush into the ministry of the Gospel
without a call, others will delay long after they are called; the
middle way is the only safe one: not to move a finger in the work
till the call be given, and not to delay a moment after.
22 But Jesus said unto him, Follow me; and let the dead bury their dead.
22 Verse 22. Let the dead bury their dead.] It was usual for the
Jews to consider a man as dead who had departed from the precepts
of the law; and, on this ground, every transgressor was reputed a
dead man. Our Lord's saying, being in common use, had nothing
difficult in it to a Jew. Natural death is the separation of the
body and soul; spiritual death, the separation of God and the
soul: men who live in sin are dead to God. Leave the spiritually
dead to bury their natural dead. All the common offices of life
may be performed by any person; to preach the glad tidings of the
kingdom of God is granted but to a few, and to these only by an
especial call; these should immediately abandon worldly concerns
and employments, and give themselves wholly up to the work of the
23 ¶ And when he was entered into a ship, his disciples followed him.
24And, behold, there arose a great tempest in the sea, insomuch that the ship was covered with the waves: but he was asleep.
24 Verse 24. Arose a great tempest in the sea] Probably excited
by Satan, the prince of the power of the air, who, having got the
author and all the preachers of the Gospel together in a small
vessel, thought by drowning it, to defeat the purposes of God, and
thus to prevent the salvation of a ruined world. What a noble
opportunity must this have appeared to the enemy of the human
25And his disciples came to him, and awoke him, saying, Lord, save us: we perish.
25 Verse 25. And his disciples] THE disciples. In the common
printed editions, as well as in our translation, it is HIS
disciples, but αυτου, his, is omitted by the very best MSS., and
by Bengel, Wetstein, and Griesbach. This is a matter of very
small importance, and need not be noticed; only every translator
and commentator should aim, to the uttermost of his knowledge and
power, to give every particle of the language of the inspired
penman that can be expressed, and to insert no one word which he
has reason to believe did not come by the inspiration of God.
Lord, save us: we perish.] One advantage of trials is to make
us know our weakness, so as to oblige us to have recourse to God
by faith in Christ. It is by faith alone that we may be said to
approach him; by love we are united to him, and by prayer we
awake him. All good perishes in us without Christ: without his
grace, there is not so much as one moment in which we are not in
danger of utter ruin. How proper, then, is this short prayer for
us, and how familiar should it be to us! Taken in the extensive
Christian sense it is exceedingly expressive: it comprehends all
the power of our Lord's might, all the merit of his atonement,
and all the depth of our misery and danger. See Quesnel.
26And he saith unto them, Why are ye fearful, O ye of little faith? Then he arose, and rebuked the winds and the sea; and there was a great calm.
26 Verse 26. Why are ye fearful, O ye of little faith?] Faith is
ever bold-incredulity always timid. When faith fails in
temptation, there is the utmost danger of shipwreck. Lord,
increase our faith! is a necessary prayer for all who desire to be
Then he arose and rebuked the winds, &c.] As the agitation of
the sea was only the effect of the wind, it was necessary to
remove the cause of the disturbance, that the effect might cease.
Joshua did not say to the earth, Earth, stand thou still, because
the earth is not the cause of its own motion: but, Sun, stand thou
still, shemesh dom, Sun, be silent, or restrain thy
influence, which is a proper cause of the revolutions of all the
planets. When the solar influence was by the miraculous power of
God suspended, the standing still of the earth was a necessary
consequence. Both Christ and Joshua spoke with the strictest
philosophical precision. See the notes on .
There was a great calm.] One word of Christ can change the face
of nature; one word of his can restore calm and peace to the most
troubled and disconsolate soul. Prayer and faith, if sincere,
shall be heard, though they may be weak. 1. That our
imperfections may not hinder us from praying to God. 2. That we
may be persuaded it is not our merits which make our prayers
effectual. 3. That we may offer them up with great humility: and,
4. That we may be fully united to Christ, without which union
there is no salvation.
There was at first a great agitation; then a great calm. Thus
God ever proportions the comfort to the affliction.
27 But the men marvelled, saying, What manner of man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey him!
27 Verse 27. The men marvelled] Every part of the creation (man
excepted) hears and obeys the Creator's voice. Sinners have an
ear for the world, the devil, and the flesh: till this ear is
shut, God's voice is not discerned; for when it is shut to its
enemies it is open to its friends.
What manner of man is this] ποταποςεστινουτος, How great is
this person! Here was God fully manifest; but it was in the
flesh-there were the hidings of his power.
28 ¶ And when he was come to the other side into the country of the Gergesenes, there met him two possessed with devils, coming out of the tombs, exceeding fierce, so that no man might pass by that way.
28 Verse 28. The country of the Gergesenes] This word is
variously written in the MSS, and versions; Gergasenes, Gerasenes,
Gadarenes, Gergesions, and Gersedonians, The three first are
supported by the greater authorities. They might have all been
names of the same place or district; but, if we depend on what
Origen says, the people mentioned here could not have been the
inhabitants of Gerasa, which, says he, is a city of Arabia, ουτε
θαλασσανουτελιμνηνπλησιονεχοντα, which has neither sea nor
lake nigh to it. "Gadara was, according to Josephus, the
metropolis of Perea, or the region beyond Jordan: both the city
and villages belonging to it lay in the country of the Gergasenes;
whence Christ going into the country of the Gadarenes, , is
said to go into the region of the Gergasenes, ." WHITBY.
Two possessed with devils] Persons possessed by evil demons.
Mark and Luke mention only one demoniac, probably the fiercer of
Coming out of the tombs] It is pretty evident that cupolas were
generally builded over the graves among the Jews, and that these
demoniacs had their dwellings under such: the evil spirits which
were in them delighting more in these abodes of desolation and
ruin, as being more congenial to their fierce and diabolic nature,
and therefore would drive the possessed into them.
29And, behold, they cried out, saying, What have we to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of God? art thou come hither to torment us before the time?
29 Verse 29. What have we to do with thee] The literal
translation of τιημινκαισοι, is, What is it to us and to thee;
which perhaps might be understood to imply their disclaiming any
design to interfere with the work of Christ, and that he should
not therefore meddle with them; for it appears they exceedingly
dreaded his power.
What have we to do with thee, is a Jewish phrase, which often
occurs in the Old Testament, signifying an abrupt refusal of some
request, or a wish not to be troubled with the company or
importunity of others. Jehu said to the messenger who was sent by
Joram to meet him, What hast thou to do with peace? David said,
What have I to do with you, ye sons of Zeruiah? Compare
; ; ; ; .
Jesus, thou Son of God] Griesbach omits the word Jesus, on the
authority of several MSS. of the greatest antiquity and
respectability; besides some versions, and several of the fathers.
I heartily concur with these MSS., &c., for this simple reason,
among others, that the word Jesus, i.e. Saviour, was of too
ominous an import to the Satanic interest to be used freely, in
such a case, by any of his disciples or subalterns.
Art thou come hither to torment us before the time?] From this
it appears that a greater degree of punishment awaited these
demons than they at that time endured; and that they knew there
was a time determined by the Divine Judge, when they should be
sent into greater torments.
30And there was a good way off from them an herd of many swine feeding.
30 Verse 30. A herd of many swine] These were in all probability
Jewish property, and kept and used in express violation of the law
of God; and therefore their destruction, in the next verse, was no
more than a proper manifestation of the justice of God.
31 So the devils besought him, saying, If thou cast us out, suffer us to go away into the herd of swine.
31 Verse 31. Suffer us to go away] επιτρεψονημιναπελθειν: this
is the common reading; but αποστειλονημας, send us away, appears
more likely to be genuine. This latter reading Griesbach has
adopted, on the authority of three ancient MSS., the Coptic,
Sahidic, Ethiopic, Syriac, all the Arabic, Saxon, most of the
Itala, and the Vulgate. Send us away seems to express more fully
the absolute power Jesus Christ had over them-permission alone was
not sufficient; the very power by which they were to go away, must
come from Christ himself! How vain was the boast of Satan,
, when we find he could not possess the body of one of the
vilest animals that God has made, without immediate authority from
the Most High! Since a demon cannot enter even into a swine
without being sent by God himself, how little is the power or
malice of any of them to be dreaded by those who have God for
their portion and protector!
32 And he said unto them, Go. And when they were come out, they went into the herd of swine: and, behold, the whole herd of swine ran violently down a steep place into the sea, and perished in the waters.
32 Verse 32. They went into the herd of swine] Instead of την
αγεληντωνχοιρων, the herd of swine, Griesbach reads τους
χοιρους, the swine, on the authority of many MSS. and versions.
The whole herd of swine] τωνχοιρων, of swine, is omitted by
many MSS. and versions. See Griesbach, and
Ran violently down a steep place, &c.] The prayer of these
demons is heard and answered! Strange! But let it be noted, that
God only hears demons and certain sinners when their prayer is the
echo of his own justice. Here is an emblem of the final
impenitence and ruin into which the swinish sinners, the
habitually unpure, more commonly fall than other sinners. Christ
permits the demons to do that in the swine which he did not permit
them to do in the possessed, on purpose to show us what rage they
would exercise on us if left to their liberty and malice. Many
are the Divine favours which we do not consider, or know only in
general. "But the owners of the swine lost their property." Yes;
and learn from this of how small value temporal riches, are in the
estimation of God. He suffers them to be lost, sometimes to
disengage us from them through mercy; sometimes out of justice, to
punish us for having acquired or preserved them either by
covetousness or injustice.
33 And they that kept them fled, and went their ways into the city, and told every thing, and what was befallen to the possessed of the devils.
33 Verse 33. And they that kept them fled] Terrified at what had
happened to the swine.
34And, behold, the whole city came out to meet Jesus: and when they saw him, they besought him that he would depart out of their coasts.
34 Verse 34. The whole city came out] Probably with the intention
to destroy Jesus for having destroyed their swine; but, having
seen him, they were awed by his presence; and only besought him to
depart from their borders. Many rather chose to lose Jesus Christ
than those temporal goods by which they gratify their passions at
the expense of their souls. They love even their swine better
than their salvation.
Certain doctors in both sciences, divinity and physic, gravely
tell us that these demoniacs were only common madmen, and that the
disease was supposed, by the superstitious Jews, to be occasioned
by demons. But, with due deference to great characters, may not a
plain man be permitted to ask, by what figure of speech can it be
said that "two diseases besought-went out-filled a herd of
swine-rushed down a precipice?" &c. What silly trifling is this!
Some people's creeds will neither permit God nor the devil to
work; and, in several respects, hardly to exist. For he who
denies Divine inspiration, will scarcely acknowledge diabolic
influence. , and
It is said, The whole city came out to meet Jesus. This means
no more than all the inhabitants of that place, which, most
probably, was no more than a small country village; or perhaps but
a few houses. I have observed that the inhabitants of the Zetland
Isles, in the North Seas, denominate any collection of houses a
town, even where there are but three or four: and thus I think
that the Jews denominated their villages, often calling them