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Matthew 16 Asking for signs from heaven

Already in the previous chapters we could see how the Pharisees where interested in bringing Jesus into a bad light. We find that they again want to trick him. For the second time they wanted to test him by asking to show them a miracle [sign] from God [heaven; possibly a sign in the sky, but more likely a Jewish way of saying “from God”] (see also Mt 12:38-45 + Mt 22:23 + Mr 12:18 & Lu 20:27).

Human beings for ages made use of signs in heavens to know what weather would arise the next day. Therefore Jesus having come at Magadan, somewhere on the western side of the lake, answered them:

“·At sunset [In the evening] you say we will have good weather, because the sky is red. And in the morning you say that it will be ·a rainy day [stormy; bad weather], because the sky is red and ·dark [threatening; overcast]. You see ·these signs in [the appearance of] the sky and know ·what they mean [how to interpret them]. ·In the same way [or However; On the other hand], you ·see the things that I am doing now, but you don’t know their meaning [cannot interpret the signs of the times]. ·Evil and sinful people [An evil/wicked and adulterous generation] ·ask for [seek; demand] a miracle as a sign, but they will not be given any sign, except the sign of Jonah [see 12:40; Jon. 1:17].”

Then Jesus left them and went away and warned his apostles to be careful for the dangerous permeating power of the influence of the Pharisees and the Sadducees.

Only a few weeks before, and not more than a few miles away, Jesus had severely censured the Pharisees as hypocrites and violators of God’s word {#Mt 15:6,7} and had spoken of them as blind guides of the people, unworthy of notice. Yet the dissembled hostility here indicated was not first awakened by that censure, for they had already accused him of being in league with Beelzebub. {#Mt 12:24}

Pharisees and Sadducees were groups in Jewish religious and political life absolutely opposed to each other, but they are frequently mentioned together in the Gospel, {# Mt 3:7 16:1,6,11,12 22:34 } united in their opposition to Jesus. {cf. # Joh 7:32 }

The Scribes and Pharisees had asked a sign from him in #Mt 12:38, and were refused. Now the Pharisees and Sadducees make a similar demand specifically for a ‘sign from heaven’ (so also #Mr 8:11), and get {#Mt 16:4 } exactly the same refusal as before. {#Mt 12:39 } They might be thinking of such signs as when Moses gave bread from heaven, {#Ps 78:23 ff.; #Joh 6:30 f. } Joshua made the sun and moon stand still, Samuel brought thunder and rain in time of harvest, Elijah repeatedly called down fire from heaven, and at Isaiah’ s word the shadow went back on the dial; comp. #Joe 2:30 ff. Origen conjectures that they regarded signs on earth as wrought in Beelzebul. {#Mt 12:24 } Probably some Jews really expected celestial signs of Messiah’s approach; but the present request was made from bad motives. Jesus promised “great signs from heaven” in connection with his second coming, {#Mt 24:29 f.; #Lu 21:11,25; comp. #Re 15:1 } and predicted that the false Christs would show great signs. {#Mt 24:24 }

Jesus later also would warn for those who

shut the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces.

and for those who

tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness. {Matthew 23:13-36}

Also today there are people who have false images of the Kingdom of God or who present false images of the Kingdom or how people would or would not be able to reach heaven. Also to day there are ‘preachers‘ or ‘clergy‘ who claim to be speakers of God, but talk about a totally different god than Jesus had and also have their teachings full of heathen and philosophical thoughts.

For those who believe the sayings of those priests and pastors Jesus in this chapter let an answer come to us, which we should take at heart. When Jesus came to the area of Caesarea Philippi [25 miles north of Lake of Galilee near Mount Hermon], he asked his followers [disciples],

“Who do people say the Son of Man is?”

First of all in his question we hear Jesus already giving an indication he is a son of man. At the time of Jesus many had heard about him and some had seen him at work, but where not quite sure who he really was. Some said Jeshua (Jesus) was John the Baptist whilst others said he was the returned Elijah, who they expected in the end times [Mal. 4:5], and still others said he was Jeremiah or one of the prophets [Deut. 18:15]. {Matthew 16:13-14}

We find Simon Peter giving the reply which should also be on our lips, namely that Jesus is

the Christ [Messiah], the Son of the living God. {Matthew 16:16}

Jesus called Simon son of Jonah blessed, because no person had taught him that. Flesh and blood did not reveal this to him but we learn that it was the heavenly Father Who showed him or revealed who Jesus is. Once again in the Word of God it is made clear that Jesus is not God. But the time seemed not yet ready to have many to know that he is also the Christ or anointed from God [Messiah].

Soon it was all going to change, because from that time on Jesus began telling [showing; making it clear to] his followers [disciples] that he had to go to Jerusalem, where the Jewish elders, the leading priests, and the teachers of the law [scribes] would make him suffer many things [greatly]. He then also told them he must be killed and then be raised from the dead on the third day. But Jeshua (Jesus the Christ) also gives some hope, because he tells them

The Son of Man will come again with his Father’s glory and with his angels. At that time, he will ·reward [repay; give back; judge] them for what they have done [Ps. 62:12; Prov. 24:12]. {Matthew 16:27}

Jesus promises that he tells them the truth, and warns

some people standing here will not die [L taste death] before they see the Son of Man [Dan. 7:13–14] coming with his kingdom.” [This may refer to the Transfiguration which follows (17:1–8), Jesus’ resurrection, or the destruction of Jerusalem in ad 70.] {Matthew 16:28}

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Preceding

Matthew 15 An argument with the Scribes – Teachers and traditions

Matthew 15 Calvin’s view

Matthew 15 Spurgeon’s view

Matthew 12:38-42 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Signs in Jonah and the Queen of the South

Matthew 13:24-30 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Parable of the Field and the Harvest

Matthew 15:1-20 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Tradition and the Heart

Matthew 15:32-39 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: 4000 Fed

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Additional reading

  1. Was Jesus Religious
  2. Looking for a shepherd for the sheep and goats

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Related

  1. Jesus warns some pharisees
  2. Live and let live – how could hat work?
  3. “Unless your righteousness exceeds that of the religious elites, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” ~Jesus
  4. God’s True Feelings About False Religion.

Matthew 15:1-20 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Tradition and the Heart

CHAPTER FIFTEEN:
TRADITION AND THE HEART, GIVING CRUMBS TO PUPPIES,
FEEDING 4000

[“The Mouth and the Heart”]
(Key Word: Traditions)

Matthew 15:1-20 – Tradition and the Heart

|| Mark 7:1-23

MT15:1 Now scribes[1] and Pharisees from Jerusalem[2] approached Jesus, saying, “Why do your disciples[3] transgress the traditions of the Ancients?[4] MT15:2 For they do not wash their hands[5] when eating bread.” MT15:3 Jesus responded to them, asking, MT15:4 “For The God said, ‘Honor your father and mother.’[6] [Exodus 20:12] And also, ‘Let the person who says a bad word against[7] father or mother be put to death.’ [Leviticus 20:9] MT15:5 But you teach, ‘Whatever I have to help[8] my father or mother is a Temple-offering consecrated to God’[9] – MT15:6 such a person does not honor[10] father at all. You have invalidated the Word[11] of The God by your own tradition. MT15:7 Hypocrites, Isaiah gave a good prophecy[12] about you when he said, MT15:8 ‘This people honors Me with their lips but their heart is distant. MT15:9 Their worship is worthless[13] because they teach human commandments as doctrine.’” [Isaiah 29:13] MT15:10 Now Jesus called the crowd to gather close, telling them, “Listen carefully and understand:[14] MT15:11 Not what enters the mouth defiles a person,[15] but what pours out of the mouth defiles a person.” MT15:12 Now the disciples approached Jesus, telling him, “Do you know you offended the Pharisees[16] by what they heard you say?” MT15:13 Jesus answered them, “Every plant[17] not planted by my Father will be pulled out by the roots. MT15:14 Leave them alone.[18] They are blind guides.[19] So, if someone blind guides another blind person, they will both fall into a pit.” MT15:15 Peter responded to Jesus, “Make the parable clear to us.” MT15:16 Jesus told them, “Are you still without understanding?[20] MT15:17 Are you unaware that everything entering the mouth passes through the belly[21] and is expelled into a sewer?[22] MT15:18 But the words pouring out of the mouth originate from the heart.[23] Those are the things which defile a person. MT15:19 For it is from the heart these originate:[24] evil dialogue,[25] murders, adulteries,[26] fornications,[27] thieveries,[28] perjuries and slander,[29] abusive speech.[30] MT15:20 These are the things defiling a person. Eating with unwashed hands does not defile a person.”

*

[1] Scribes: BECK: Bible scholars.

[2] From Jerusalem: Over 100 miles.

[3] Your disciples: They do not accuse Jesus. Had these Jews witnessed some habit of the disciples not to ceremonial wash their hands before eating? Or, is this a rumor?

[4] Transgress the traditions of the Ancients: Or, GDSP: break the rules handed down by our ancestors; KJV: elders.

[5] Wash their hands: Or, AMP: for they do not practice [ceremonially] washing. Compare 2 Kings 3:11. “The Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat unless they wash their hands up to the elbow.” (Mark 7:2-5) The Babylonian Talmud (Sotah 4b) places eating with unwashed hands equal to intercourse with a prostitute.

[6] Honor your father and mother: From the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:12; 21:17). Paul also quotes the “first commandment with a promise.” (Ephesians 6:2) The English word “honor” is from the Greek TIMA from which the name Timothy comes.

[7] Says a bad word against: Or, KJV: curseth; ASV: speaketh evil of; NWT: reviles. Jesus quotes Leviticus 20:9. Compare Leviticus 20:9; Deuteronomy 27:16.

[8] Whatever I have to help: ASV: that wherewith thou mightest have been profited by me; RIEU: all the support you might have; RSV: what you would have gained from me; GDSP: anything of mine that might have been of use to you.

[9] Is a Temple-offering consecrated to God: ASV: is given to God; RIEU: temple-offering. The New Jerusalem Bible footnote explains: “Property thus made over by vow assumes a sacred character.… Such a vow in fact was only a legal fiction.… Though the rabbis acknowledged its impiety they sustained its validity.”

[10] Does not honor: Jesus infers this “honor” is of a material kind not a mere matter of respect. The children who do not care for elderly parents dishonor them and violate the commandment. Compare 1 Timothy 5:4, 8. The Greek word TIME means honor, esteem, value, or preciousness. The verb TIMAO also means “set a price on” (Matthew 27:9); the noun TIME caries the sense of price or value (Matthew 27:6; Acts 4:34); and the adjective TIMIOS means esteemed, dear, or valuable (Acts 5:34; 20:24; 1 Corinthians 3:12).

[11] You have invalidated the Word: Or, MOF: you have repealed the law of God; GDSP: you have nullified what God has said; PME: empties the commandment.

[12] Isaiah gave a good prophecy: The quote is of Isaiah 29:13. The context in Isaiah is also referenced by Romans 11:9; Colossians 2:22; 1 Corinthians 1:19. Or, KJV: well did Esaias prophesy; MOF: it was indeed of you that Isaiah prophesied; PME: Isaiah described you beautifully; RIEU: how right Isaiah was.

[13] Their worship is worthless: Or, WMS: their worship of me is an empty show.

[14] Listen carefully and understand: Or, KNX: listen to this, and grasp what it means.

[15] Defiles a person: Or, PME: makes him common or unclean.

[16] You offended the Pharisees: Or, ME: are deeply offended; GDSP: were shocked to hear you. The disciples seem concerned by Jesus did not come to please everyone. The Greek word here is ESCANDALISTHESAN: they thought what he said scandalous.

[17] Every plant: He infers the scribes and Pharisees.

[18] Leave them alone: Or, KNX: let them say what they will.

[19] Blind guides: Or, KJV: blind leaders. Knowing what he has already said was offensive, the Nazarene comes back with an even more direct inference.

[20] Are you still without understanding: Or, RHM: without discernment; GDSP: have even you no understanding; BAS: are you, like them, still without wisdom; RIEU: You too? Still so dull? Jesus is not caring one twit whose toes he steps on: either the clergy or his own disciples. Raised to respect the clergy, it is possible the disciples do not yet discern the gulf which exists between Jesus and the religious hierarchy.

[21] Passes through the belly: Or, WEY: stomach; NWT: intestines.

[22] Expelled into a sewer: WEY: afterwards ejected from the body; NWT: discharged into the sewer.

[23] Originate from the heart: NEB: has its origins in the heart; PME: comes from his heart and mind. Compare James 1:14, 15.

[24] These originate: Mark 7:20, 21 adds several characteristics: “injurious reasonings issue forth: fornications, thieveries, murders, adulteries, covetings, acts of wickedness, deceit, loose conduct, an envious eye, blasphemy, haughtiness, unreasonableness.” (NWT)

[25] Evil dialogue: The Greek is DIALOGISMOI PONEROI. Or, KJV: evil thoughts; KNX: wicked designs.

[26] Adulteries: Or, BAS: broken faith between the married.

[27] Fornications: The Greek is PORNEIAI and is drawn from “prostitution.” Or, MOF: sexual vice; GDSP: immorality; BAS: unclean desires of the flesh.

[28] Thieveries: MOF: stealing.

[29] Perjuries and slander: Or, KJV: false witness; NWT: false testimonies.

[30] Abusive speech: The Greek is BLASPHEMIAI. Or, KJV: blasphemies; ASV: railings; RHM: profane speaking; WEY: slander.

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Preceding

Matthew 14:35-36 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: If They Might Just Touch Him

Matthew 15 An argument with the Scribes – Teachers and traditions

Matthew 15 Calvin’s view

Matthew 15 Spurgeon’s view

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Related

  1. Matthew 15, defilement from within, the faith of the Caananite woman, Jesus feeds the four thousand.
  2. When What to Eat is More Important Than What to Say
  3. Matthew 15丨C. H. Spurgeon
  4. “Why do your disciples play fast and loose with the rules?” ~Religious scholars to Jesus
  5. unclean
  6. Out of The Mouth
  7. “Frauds!” ~Jesus
  8. Doctrine vs. Tradition
  9. Hypocrisy — Its Expression through Insincere Motives
  10. Hypocrisy — What happens when my deeds do not match my words?
  11. False Doctrine — Is it of human origin and not from Jesus the Messiah?

Matthew 15 Spurgeon’s view

Our King combatting formalists

1. THEN came to, Jesus scribes and Pharisees, which were of Jerusalem, saying, Why do thy disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? for they wash not their hand, when they eat bread.

When our Lord was busiest his enemies assailed him. These ecclesiastics “of Jerusalem” were probably the cream of the set, and from their great reputation they reckoned upon an easy victory over the rustic preacher.

Perhaps they were a deputation from headquarters, sent to confound the new Teacher. They had a question to raise, which to them may have seemed important, or possibly they pretended to think it so to answer their own purposes. Traditions of the elders were great things with them: to transgress these must be a crime indeed. Washing of the hands is a thing proper enough, one could wish it were oftener practiced, but to exalt it into a religious rite is a folly and a sin.

These “scribes and Pharisee” washed their hands, whether they needed washing or not, out of a supposed zeal to be rid of any particle that might render them ceremonially unclean. Our Lord’s disciples had so far entered into Christian liberty that they did not observe the rabbinical tradition: “they wash not their hands when they eat bread.” Why should they wash if their hands were clean? Tradition had no power over their consciences. No man has any more right to institute a new duty than to neglect an old one.

The issuing of commands is for the King alone. Yet these religionists enquire why the Lord’s disciples break a law which was no law. It will be well if our opponents are unable to bring against us any worse charge than this.

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Preceding

Matthew 15 Calvin’s view

Matthew 15 An argument with the Scribes – Teachers and traditions

+++

Related

  1. Think About It…
  2. The Dance of Isaiah!

Matthew 15 Calvin’s view

Matthew 15:1. Then scribes and Pharisees. As the fault that is here corrected is not only common but highly dangerous, the passage is particularly worthy of our attention. We see the extraordinary insolence that is displayed by men as to the form and manner of worshipping God; for they are perpetually contriving new modes of worship, and when any one wishes to be thought wiser than others, he displays his ingenuity on this subject. I speak not of foreigners, but of the very domestics of the Church, on whom God has conferred the peculiar honor of declaring with their lips the rule of godliness. God has laid down the manner in which he wishes that we should worship him, and has included in his law the perfection of holiness. Yet a vast number of men, as if it were a light and trivial matter to obey God and to keep what he enjoins, collect for themselves, on every hand, many additions. Those who occupy places of authority bring forward their inventions for this purpose, as if they were in possession of something more perfect than the word of the Lord. This is followed by the slow growth of tyranny; for, when men have once assumed to themselves the right to issue commands, they demand a rigid adherence to their laws, and do not allow the smallest iota to be left out, either through contempt or through forgetfulness.

The world cannot endure lawful authority, and most violently rebels against enduring the Lord’s yoke, and yet easily and willingly becomes entangled in the snares of vain traditions; nay, such bondage appears to be, in the case of many, an object of desire. Meanwhile, the worship of God is corrupted, of which the first and leading principle is obedience. The authority of men is preferred to the command of God. Sternly, and therefore tyrannically, are the common people compelled to give their whole attention to trifles.

This passage teaches us, first, that all modes of worship invented by men are displeasing to God, because he chooses that he alone shall be heard, in order to train and instruct us in true godliness according to his own pleasure; secondly, that those who are not satisfied with the only law of God, and weary themselves by attending to the traditions of men, are uselessly employed; thirdly, that an outrage is committed against God, when the inventions of men are so highly extolled, that the majesty of his law is almost lowered, or at least the reverence for it is abated.

Scribes who had come from Jerusalem. With what design those scribes came to Jesus is not stated; but I think it probable that their attention was excited by his fame, and that they came with the desire of receiving instruction, provided that they should approve of him as a competent teacher; {1 } though it is possible that they were sent to spy. However that may be, as they had brought their haughty disdain along with them, they are easily provoked by the slightest offense to bite or snarl at Christ. Hence we see with what difficulty those who are influenced by ambition and the lust of power are brought to submit to sound doctrine. Those especially whose attachment to ceremonies has been strengthened by long practice cannot endure any novelty, but loudly condemn every thing to which they have not been accustomed. In short, any thing more haughty or more disdainful than this class of men cannot be imagined.

 

Both Evangelists mention that they were scribes and Pharisees; but Matthew puts the scribes first, and Mark puts them second. They convey the same meaning, that the scribes belonged to various sects, but that the Pharisees were the leaders, because they occupied an honorable station, and at that time held the government. That the Pharisees should be the first to take offense at disregard of the laws of which they were authors ought not to excite surprise; for, as we have said, though they boasted that they were expounders of the law, and though their name was derived from that circumstance, {2 } they had corrupted by their inventions the purity of the word of God. All the traditions that then existed among the Jews had come out of their workshop; {3 } and this was the reason why they displayed more than ordinary zeal and bitterness in defending them.

———— –

{1 } “En cas qu’ils l’eussent trouve bon maistre a leur gre”;  — ” provided that they should find him to be a good master to their liking.”

{2 } See Harmony, vol. 1, p. 281 (See CALVIN “Mt 5:20”).

{3 } “Elles avoyent este forgees en leur boutique”;  — ” they had been manufactured in their workshop.”

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Preceding

Matthew 15 An argument with the Scribes – Teachers and traditions

++

Additional reading

  1. Priest, scribes and others with authority
  2. Careful not to have God’s wrath poured out upon us taking on the right attitude
  3. What is a Christian?
  4. Responsibility bigger than those who talk about worldly matters
  5. To find ways of Godly understanding

+++

Related

  1. Isaiah 29:13 Worship By Human Rules
  2. Their Vanities #5
  3. Doctrine Divides #2
  4. Your Right to Eat Meat
  5. Thought for the Day – Superior Theology
  6. Why are we not Integrous? Reason Number 2: Because we do not Submit to the Processes of Teaching through the Experience Lived by which God enables us
  7. Integrity According to the Bible
  8. Basic Training: Being Berean- 8 Steps for Comparing Teaching to Scripture
  9. 1 Timothy 4:6: “…The Sound Doctrine Which You Have Been Following.”
  10. Bringing The Words of God To The Word Of God
  11. Sound Doctrine is Scarce In Churches of Today
  12. Sound Doctrine or Self-Made Religion?
  13. Dost Thou Keep This Commandment?
  14. Christianity and Sound Doctrine
  15. Christian Behavior, Order in the Home

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