Bible Commentary

Matthew 15

John Wesley’s Explanatory Notes

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(Read all of Matthew 15)

Verse 2

[2] Why do thy disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? for they wash not their hands when they eat bread.

The elders — The chief doctors or, teachers among the Jews.

Verse 3

[3] But he answered and said unto them, Why do ye also transgress the commandment of God by your tradition?

They wash not their hands when they eat bread — Food in general is termed bread in Hebrew; so that to eat bread is the same as to make a meal.

Verse 4

[4] For God commanded, saying, Honour thy father and mother: and, He that curseth father or mother, let him die the death.

Honour thy father and mother — Which implies all such relief as they stand in need of. Exodus 20:12; 21:17.

Verse 5

[5] But ye say, Whosoever shall say to his father or his mother, It is a gift, by whatsoever thou mightest be profited by me;

It is a gift by whatsoever thou mightest have been profited by me — That is, I have given, or at least, purpose to give to the treasury of the temple, what you might otherwise have had from me.

Verse 7

[7] Ye hypocrites, well did Esaias prophesy of you, saying,

Well did Isaiah prophesy of you, saying — That is, the description which Isaiah gave of your fathers, is exactly applicable to you. The words therefore which were a description of them, are a prophecy with regard to you.

Verse 8

[8] This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me.

Their heart is far from me — And without this all outward worship is mere mockery of God. Isaiah 29:13.

Verse 9

[9] But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.

Teaching the commandments of men — As equal with, nay, superior to, those of God. What can be a more heinous sin?

Verse 13

[13] But he answered and said, Every plant, which my heavenly Father hath not planted, shall be rooted up.

Every plant — That is, every doctrine.

Verse 14

[14] Let them alone: they be blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch.

Let them alone — If they are indeed blind leaders of the blind; let them alone: concern not yourselves about them: a plain direction how to behave with regard to all such. Luke 6:39.

Verse 17

[17] Do not ye yet understand, that whatsoever entereth in at the mouth goeth into the belly, and is cast out into the draught?

Are ye also yet without understanding — How fair and candid are the sacred historians? Never concealing or excusing their own blemishes.

Verse 19

[19] For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies:

First evil thoughts — then murders - and the rest.

Railings — The Greek word includes all reviling, backbiting, and evil speaking.

Verse 21

[21] Then Jesus went thence, and departed into the coasts of Tyre and Sidon.

Mark 7:24.

Verse 22

[22] And, behold, a woman of Canaan came out of the same coasts, and cried unto him, saying, Have mercy on me, O Lord, thou Son of David; my daughter is grievously vexed with a devil.

A woman of Canaan — Canaan was also called Syrophenicia, as lying between Syria properly so called, and Phenicia, by the sea side.

Cried to him — From afar, Thou Son of David - So she had some knowledge of the promised Messiah.

Verse 23

[23] But he answered her not a word. And his disciples came and besought him, saying, Send her away; for she crieth after us.

He answered her not a word — He sometimes tries our faith in like manner.

Verse 24

[24] But he answered and said, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel.

I am not sent — Not primarily; not yet.

Verse 25

[25] Then came she and worshipped him, saying, Lord, help me.

Then came she — Into the house where he now was.

Verse 28

[28] Then Jesus answered and said unto her, O woman, great is thy faith: be it unto thee even as thou wilt. And her daughter was made whole from that very hour.

Thy faith — Thy reliance on the power and goodness of God.

Verse 29

[29] And Jesus departed from thence, and came nigh unto the sea of Galilee; and went up into a mountain, and sat down there.

The sea of Galilee — The Jews gave the name of seas to all large lakes. This was a hundred furlongs long, and forty broad. It was called also, the sea of Tiberias. It lay on the borders of Galilee, and the city of Tiberias stood on its western shore. It was likewise styled the lake of Gennesareth: perhaps a corruption of Cinnereth, the name by which it was anciently called, Numbers 34:11; Mark 7:31.

Verse 32

[32] Then Jesus called his disciples unto him, and said, I have compassion on the multitude, because they continue with me now three days, and have nothing to eat: and I will not send them away fasting, lest they faint in the way.

They continue with me now three days — It was now the third day since they came. Mark 8:1.

Verse 36

[36] And he took the seven loaves and the fishes, and gave thanks, and brake them, and gave to his disciples, and the disciples to the multitude.

He gave thanks, or blessed the food — That is, he praised God for it, and prayed for a blessing upon it.

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