The Agora
Bible Commentary

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Matthew 15

Mat 15:1

This seems to be an official delegation, to question and examine (Mar 7:1n).

Mat 15:2

THE TRADITION OF THE ELDERS: The "leaven" of the Pharisees: Mat 16:6.

BEFORE THEY EAT: Prob some of the bread left over from miracle (Mat 14:20).

Mat 15:3

AND WHY DO YOU BREAK THE COMMAND OF GOD FOR THE SAKE OF YOUR TRADITION?: "After the death of Jehoiada (2Ch 24:15) the people turned to idol worship. So Zechariah reproved them (2Ch 24:20). Jesus uses the words of his reproof when speaking with the scribes and Pharisees. Whilst they thought they were upholding the law they were, in fact, no better than those rebels who forsook the Lord after the death of Jehoiada. We must take care that the rules we make for life do not violate the principles of God's grace" (PF).

Mat 15:5

A GIFT DEVOTED TO GOD: The "corban" of Mar 7:11. Selfish Jews claimed that their possessions were dedicated to God (ie Lev 1:2; 2:1; 3:1; Num 7:12-17) to avoid responsibilities of caring for parents. The corban-gift could not be taken back, or disavowed, for any reason at all!

Mat 15:11

"In saying this, Jesus declared all foods 'clean' " (Mar 7:19). Cp Rom 14:14; 1Co 8:18.

Mat 15:13

EVERY PLANT... WILL BE PULLED UP BY THE ROOTS: "The wicked will be cut off from the land, and the unfaithful will be torn from it" (Pro 2:22).

Mat 15:14

// Isa 6:9,10; 9:16; Deu 27:18; Joh 9:39-41.

"The Pharisees evaded duties to their parents and so made void one of the ten commandments. Jesus very severely condemns their casuistry, by which they put the doctrines of men in the place of God's law. The same saying occurs in another context in Luk 6:39, as part of the disclosure which closely resembles the Sermon on the Mount of Mat 5-7. This context in Luke's record, and the fact that it was spoken to the disciples, prevents the comfortable detached consideration of the saying which is possible in restricting its reference to the Pharisees. We may appreciate the application to others and endorse the judgment: but it is spoken also as a warning to all disciples. The object lesson of the one must be noted for the guidance of every follower of the Lord. It is a warning of the dangers of being leaders and teachers, which all teachers should take to heart" (PM 113).

Mat 15:15

Evidently they were unwilling to accept Christ's revolutionary teaching as literal.

Mat 15:17

OUT OF THE BODY: Cp Deu 23:13 (where "excrement" is, lit, "that which comes out") with Mar 7:15,20,21 and Mat 15:17-19 (where sin is equated with excrement). In Deu 23 God is said to be walking in the midst of the camp (as he is in Gen 3, in the midst of the garden), and that He is too holy to look upon that which is "indecent". Could this explain, in part, the need that Adam and Eve felt to cover themselves? (Does this suggest that after their sin, for the first time, they have need to relieve themselves, and this induces shame at the indecency -- hence the need to "cover themselves": Gen 3:7?)

THEN OUT OF HIS BODY: The food does not "defile" the man; the man "defiles" the food. Thus, as in Mar 7:19, "Jesus declared all foods clean." What God has cleansed is not common or unclean (Act 10:9-16,28). Cp Rom 14:14; 1Co 8:8.

Mat 15:18

"The heart", wicked: Jer 17:9; Eccl 8:11; Heb 3:12; Ps 51:1-3. "Works of the flesh": Gal 5:19-21. Paul's conflict: Rom 7:18-23.

A stmt with broad application: all poss "sin" is that (and only that) which comes out of a man's heart!

Mat 15:19

OUT OF THE HEART: The heart, center of thoughts, not emotions. One heart for all men. All human nature is in same category.

EVIL THOUGHTS: Everything that follows ARE "evil thoughts" in the first place -- that is the point!

Mat 15:21

Christ purposefully went into lands of Gentiles, the very edge of the Jewish "table" (Mat 15:27; Mar 7:28). To get disciples away from evil influence of Pharisees (Mat 15:1; Mar 7:1)?

Mat 15:22

The only person to "best" Jesus in a battle of wits was a Gentile (not a Jew), a woman (not a man).

A CANAANITE WOMAN: Also called "a Greek, born in Syrian Phoenicia" (Mar 7:26). The most hated of Gentile nations -- a people whom the Jews were to exterminate (Deu 20:17).

SON OF DAVID: She acknowledges his Messiahship.

Mat 15:23

JESUS DID NOT ANSWER A WORD: "Genuine seekers who as yet have not obtained the blessing, may take comfort from the story before us. The Saviour did not at once bestow the blessing, even though the woman had great faith in him. He intended to give it, but He waited awhile. 'He answered her not a word.' Were not her prayers good? Never better in the world. Was not her case needy? Sorrowfully needy. Did she not feel her need sufficiently? She felt it overwhelmingly. Was she not earnest enough? She was intensely so. Had she no faith? She had such a high degree of it that even Jesus wondered, and said, 'O woman, great is thy faith.' See then, although it is true that faith brings peace, yet it does not always bring it instantaneously. There may be certain reasons calling for the trial of faith, rather than the reward of faith. Genuine faith may be in the soul like a hidden seed, but as yet it may not have budded and blossomed into joy and peace. A painful silence from the Saviour is the grievous trial of many a seeking soul, but heavier still is the affliction of a harsh cutting reply such as this, 'It is not meet to take the children's bread, and to cast it to dogs.' Many in waiting upon the Lord find immediate delight, but this is not the case with all. Some, like the jailer [Act 16], are in a moment turned from darkness to light, but others are plants of slower growth" (CHS).

SEND HER AWAY: Christ's silence reveals the hardness of heart in his disciples. They were "miserable mediators, interceding for her repulse" (WGos 349).

Mat 15:24

I WAS SENT ONLY TO THE LOST SHEEP OF ISRAEL: Did they stop to ask themselves WHICH particular "lost sheep" he was busy rescuing at the time?

Mat 15:25

At Jesus' feet, the place of: rest (Luk 8:35); pardon (Luk 7:38); healing (Luk 17:16); teaching (Luk 10:39); comfort (Joh 11:32); intercession (Mat 15:25; Mar 7:25); and worship (Mat 28:9).

AND KNELT BEFORE HIM: See Lesson, Worship of Christ?

Mat 15:26

DOGS: "Kunarion", puppies, derived from "kuon", dogs. "Indeed she showed one of the best qualities of a dog, in holding on and not letting go until she got what she desired." Cp Jacob with the angel: Gen 32:26: "I will not let you go unless you bless me."

"The use of the noun 'kuon' in the disparaging sense in which it appears throughout the NT must be distinguished from 'kunarion', the diminutive form, which denoted the 'house dog' as distinct from the 'yard dog' or the 'dog of the streets'. Jesus referred to the 'kunarion', or house dog, in his discourse with the Gentile woman (Mat 15:26,27; Mark 7:27,28)" (EBC notes).

AND HER DAUGHTER WAS HEALED FROM THAT VERY HOUR: One of Christ's miracles performed at a distance, all having to do with Gentiles. Foreshadows "healing" of Gentiles by preaching of gospel.

Mat 15:27

EVEN THE DOGS: What faith! She accepts his judgment, and sees herself as a dog, but knows that even the dogs may dwell in the "house" also.

How could she have known that the "children" had so recently refused the "bread"? How could she know that the "children" had at that very moment driven him to the very corner of the "table"?

CRUMBS: Cp baskets of fragments taken up after feeding of 5,000 (Mat 14:19-21; Mar 6:33-44; 8:19; Luk 9:10-17; Joh 6:9-13) and the 4,000 (Mat 15:32-38; Mar 8:1-9,20). Neatly suggesting the Jewish "children" are quite unappreciative of the good things they have, to let them fall as crumbs from the table.

"It is better to feed a dog than a man, because a dog is more grateful" (Arabian proverb).

THAT FALL FROM THEIR MASTERS' TABLE: Carelessly cast aside or dropped by unappreciative "children".

Mat 15:28

YOUR REQUEST IS GRANTED: Power of faith and intercession of others: Mat 8:13; 9:32; 15:28; 17:14-18; Luk 8:50; Joh 4:49; Jos 6:17; Gen 7:1; 18:32; 19:12; Act 27:24.

AND HER DAUGHTER WAS HEALED FROM THAT VERY HOUR: One of Christ's miracles done at a distance -- all involving Gentiles. Foreshadows gospel preached to Gentiles: Christ can still "heal" at a distance!

Mat 15:29

THEN HE WENT UP ON A MOUNTAINSIDE AND SAT DOWN: Instances of Jesus withdrawing into a mountain, apart -- sometimes for privacy and prayer, and sometimes to instruct his followers: Mat 5:1; 8:1; 14:23; 15:29; 17:1; 24:3; 28:16; Mark 3:13; 6:46; 9:2; 13:3; Luke 6:12; 9:28; 22:39; John 6:3,15; 8:1.

Mat 15:30

Legion, the now peaceful evangelist, had been doing his work.

Mat 15:31

AND THEY PRAISED THE GOD OF ISRAEL: The first time such a scene had occurred outside the confines of Israel.

Mat 15:32

THREE DAYS: So keen were they for the spiritual food which only Jesus could provide.

I DO NOT WANT TO SEND THEM AWAY HUNGRY: An exhortation to exhorting brothers: Don't send your audience away unfed.

Mat 15:33

The "remote place" of the wilderness was the very site of God's previous miracle of feeding Israel (Num 11:22; Psa 78:20-32; 106:21).

Did they doubt because these were Gentiles?

Mat 15:36

What Jesus gave to his disciples, they must also share with others!

Fish and bread also in Mat 7:9,10; 14:19; John 21:9.

Mat 15:37

"I will bless her with abundant provisions; her poor will I satisfy with food" (Psa 132:15).

SEVEN BASKETFULS: "Spuris": very large baskets, the sort in which Paul escaped from Damascus (Act 9:25; 2Co 11:32,33).

BROKEN PIECES: Which the Canaanite woman, like a "dog" under the Jewish "table", was only too willing to eat (Mat 15:27; Mar 7:28).

Mat 15:39

Jesus needs solitude for thought and prayer (cp Isa 50;4; Psa 119:147,148). A list of "solitude passages": Mar 1:35-37; 3:7,9,20,21; 4:35-38; 6:31; 7:17,18,24; 8:10,11,27; 9:30; 10:32; 14:32.

VICINITY OF MAGADAN: Called "the region of Dalmanutha" (Mar 8:10).

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