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Matthew 8:5-13 – Servant of Army Officer Healed

|| Luke 7:1-10; John 4:46-53

MT8:5 Entering Capernaum a centurion[1] approached Jesus begging him MT8:6 saying, “Sir, my servant-boy[2] is house-bound, a paralytic, in terrible agony.” MT8:7 Jesus told him, “When I arrive I shall[3] cure him.” MT8:8 But the centurion replied: “I am unfit[4] to have you enter under my roof; but only say the word and my servant-boy will be healed. MT8:9 For I am a man in a position of authority with many soldiers under me. And I tell this one, ‘Get up and go,’ and he goes; and to another, ‘Come here,’ and he comes. And to my own slave,[5] ‘Do this,’ and he does it.” MT8:10 Hearing this Jesus marveled and told those following him, “I tell you this truth,[6] I tell you, I have never discovered such faith[7] in all of Israel![8] MT8:11 But, I tell you that many from sunrise to sunset[9] will come and recline with Abraham and Isaac and Jacob[10] in the Realm of the Heavens, MT8:12 but the sons of the kingdom[11] will be cast out into the outer darkness, and there they will weep and grind their teeth.”[12] MT8:13 And then Jesus spoke to the centurion, “Be on your way: just as you believed,[13] let it happen to you.” And the servant-boy was healed in that very hour.

[1] Centurion: The word occurs ten times in the Christian Bible between Matthew and Acts. This Roman army officer was in charge of one hundred soldiers. Roman legions, despite the number of troops were divided into 60 centuries under the command of a centurion. This is an occupying soldier often disliked by the Jews. However, some Roman soldiers became quite favorable to the Jews, giving charitable gifts, and at least in one known case, built a synagogue. Compare a later centurion, Cornelius in Acts chapter 10 (Note John the Baptist’s suggestions to such soldiers at Luke 3:14).

[2] Servant-boy: The Greek is PAIS meaning “boy.” “Boy” is an old English word for a male slave or servant. “Girl” designated a female slave. “Boy” in certain racial contexts is derogatory in many cultures today. Some women object to “girl” because of its historical roots in slavery.

[3] I shall: Note our Lord’s confident faith.

[4] I am unfit: Actually Jews had little to do with Non-Jews and the “religious” among them had no dealings at all.

[5] Slave: This is a different Greek word than PAIS above – DOULO meaning a slave or servant. The word group “slave” occurs 400 times in the Bible, most often in the Christian Bible in Matthew and Luke. The first occurrence is Genesis 9:25 following the Flood. In Paul’s epistles the word “slave” is often applied as a designation for a disciple of the Nazarene. One of Paul’s letters, Philemon (verse 16), was written to a Christian slave owner.

[6] I tell you this truth: The literal Greek word is AMEN and is variously rendered: verily, solemnly, truly. The word usually precedes a sober statement.

[7] Faith: This is the second occurrence of the word “faith” in Matthew. The first was in the Sermon on the Mount at Matthew 6:30. The Greek is PISTIN and is usually translated by the Latin biased word “faith” or the old English bias word “belief.” Paul defines “faith” in Hebrews 11:1. The words “faith” and “believe” occur over 700 times in the Bible. The first occurrence is Genesis 15:6 in the case of the father of all the faithful, Abraham. The word occurs most often in the Letter to the Romans. The last occurrence deals with those lacking faith (Revelation 21:8).

[8] Such faith in all of Israel: This must have struck his disciples hard! Observers may already have been questioning the propriety of such contact with a Gentile, let alone an occupying soldier. And, then to be told this Roman centurion’s faith was so outstanding. How much basis did the centurion have to place his faith and trust in this carpenter from Nazareth? Surely the humble solider serves as an example two thousand years later?

[9] Sunrise to sunset: Or, east and west; orient and occident.

[10] Abraham and Isaac and Jacob: This verse has been very controversial with a variety of opinions. Some view it as evidence these ancient patriarchs would attain to heavenly life. Jesus repeats something similar in another context at Luke 13:29 where he amplifies the compass directions. Judging from Matthew 11:11, 12 these honorable forefathers would only equal John the Baptist who would not be a member of the Kingdom Realm of heaven. So, what may this verse mean? Judging from the context of Luke 13:29 it may be understood in this manner: The phrase “kingdom of the heavens” likely refers to the Realm of Profession (Christendom) over which the Lord Messiah reigns, that is, the Christian Church. The three patriarchs possibly stand as a symbol for the Jewish roots of those first members of Christ’s church/kingdom. As in that “root of fatness” which comprises the Olive Tree of Romans chapter 11. In the year 36 the first Gentile convert to Christianity joined the Church along with his family. This was the first to come to the spiritual table within that Realm of Christian Profession. Meanwhile the religious hypocrites found themselves outside in the darkness. Near the end of his ministry when Greeks wish to speak to them, Jesus assured that following his ascension he “would draw all kinds of men.” (John 12:20-32) The names of the patriarchs are used as synonyms for the nation of Israel [Abraham – Isaiah 29:22; Isaac, Amos 7:9; Jeremiah 33:26; Psalm 105:9. Jacob in particular is a cryptic for Israel – Psalms 14:7; 44:4; 47:4; 53:6; 59:13; 78:5, 21, 71; 79:7; 85:1; 87:2; 99:4; 105:10; 135:4; 147:19; Rachel is also used for all of Israel, Jeremiah 31:15]

[11] Sons of the kingdom: That is the Jews who were promised such a “kingdom of priests” upon their obedience to God’s covenant (Exodus 19:5, 6). Jesus uses the phrase only one other time in Matthew 13:38 as he applies it to the wheat class of Christians within “the kingdom of the heavens.” This kingdom is that of the Son, in which there prove to be the lawless. It contrasts with the Father’s Kingdom where the Saints will shine like the sun in glory (Matthew 13:41-43; Daniel 12:3).

[12] Grind their teeth: Note how this begins at Stephen’s martyrdom (Acts 7:54, 57).

[13] Believed: Or, conviction, trust, faith. The Greek is EPISTEUSAS.



Nazarene Commentary Matthew 4:23-25 – Kingdom Preaching and Healing Draws Crowds

Matthew 8:1-4 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Jesus a Miracle-working Son of God


Further reading

  1. Are We a Kingdom of Priests?
  2. Israel will be a kingdom of priests “if” & decline in true church in USA
  3. “Assembling His Kingdom of Priest”
  4. You Were Chosen For A Divine Purpose
  5. How to Find Healing In a Sick World
  6. Healing Christ
  7. Prayer- Jesus, only speak the word (Matthew 8.5-11)

Comments on: "Matthew 8:5-13 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Servant of Army Officer Healed" (4)

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