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Barnes' Notes on the New Testament

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MATTHEW CHAPTER 8

Verse 1. No Barnes text on this verse.

Verse 2. There came a leper. No disease with which the human family has been afflicted, has been more dreadful than that which is often mentioned in the Bible as the leprosy. It first exhibits itself on the surface of the skin. The appearance is not always the same, but it commonly resembles the spot made by the puncture of a pin, or the pustules of a ring-worm. The spots generally make their appearance very suddenly. Perhaps its appearance might be hastened by any sudden passion, as fear or anger. See Numbers 12:10; 2 Chronicles 26:19. The spots commonly exhibit themselves, at first, on the face, about the nose and eyes, and increase in size a number of years, till they become as large as a pea or a bean. There are three kinds of leprosy, distinguished by the appearance of the spots--the white, the black, and the red leprosy. These spots, though few at first, gradually spread till they cover the whole body. But though the appearance of the disease is at first in the skin, yet it is deeply seated in the bones, and marrow, and joints of the body. We have reason to suppose that, in children, it is concealed in the system for a number of years, till they arrive at the age of puberty; and in adults for three or four years, till at last it gives fearful indications on the skin of its having gained a well-rooted and permanent existence. A leprous person may live twenty, or thirty, or even fifty years, if he received the disease at his birth, but they will be years of indescribable misery. The bones and marrow are pervaded with the disease. The malady advances, from one stage to another, with slow and certain ruin. "Life still lingers amidst the desolation;" the joints, and hands, and feet, lose their power; and the body collapses, or falls together, in a form hideous and awful. There is a form of the disease in which it commences at the extremities: the joints separate; the fingers, toes, and other members, one by one, fall off; and the malady thus gradually approaches the seat of life. The wretched victim is thus doomed to see himself dying piece-meal, assured that no human power can arrest, for a moment, the silent and steady march of this foe to the seat of life. This disease is contagious and hereditary. It is easily communicated from one to another, and is transmitted to the third and fourth generation. The last generation that is afflicted with it commonly exhibits the symptoms by decayed teeth, and fetid breath, and diseased complexion.

Moses gave particular directions by which the real leprosy was to be distinguished from other diseases. See Leviticus 13:1 and following. The leprous person was, in order to avoid contagion, very properly separated from the congregation. The inspection of the disease was committed to the priest; and a declaration, on his part, that the person was healed, was sufficient evidence to restore the afflicted man to the congregation. It was required, also, that the leprous person should bring an offering to the priest of two birds, commonly doves, one of which was slain, and the other dismissed. See Leviticus 14:1 and following. In compliance with the laws of the land, Jesus directed the man that he had healed to make the customary offering, and to obtain the testimony of the priest that he was healed. The leprosy has once, and but once appeared in America. This loathsome and most painful disease has, in all other instances, been confined to the old world, and chiefly to the eastern nations. It is matter of profound gratitude to a benignant God, that this scourge has been permitted but once to visit the new world. That awful calamity was in the island of Guadaloupe, in the West Indies, about the year 1730; and is thus described by an eye witness, M. Peyssanel:

"Its commencement is imperceptible. There appear only some few white spots on the skin. At first they are attended with no pain or inconvenience; but no means whatever will remove them. The disease imperceptibly increases for many years. The spots become larger, and spread over the whole body. When the disease advances, the upper part of the nose swells, the nostrils become enlarged, and the nose itself soft. Tumours appear on the jaws; the eyebrows swell; the ears become thick; the points of the fingers, as also the feet and the toes, swell; the nails become scaly; the joints of the hands and feet separate, and drop off. In the last stage of the disease the patient becomes a hideous spectacle, and falls to pieces."

Worshipped him. Bowed down before him, to show him respect. See Barnes "Matthew 2:2".

If thou wilt. This was an exhibition of great faith, and also an acknowledgment of his dependence on the will of Jesus, in order to be healed. So every sinner must come. He must feel that Jesus can save him. He must also feel that he has no claim on him; that it depends on his sovereign will; and must cast himself at his feet with the feelings of the leper:--

"I can but perish if I go; I am resolved to try: For if I stay away, I know I shall for ever die."
Happily, no one ever came to Jesus with this feeling who was not received, and pardoned.

Make me clean. Heal me. The leprosy was regarded as an unclean and disgusting disease. To be healed, therefore, was expressed by being cleansed from it.

{s} "leper" Mark 1:40; Luke 5:12

Verse 3. And Jesus--touched him. It was an offence to the Jews to touch a leprous person, and was regarded as making him who did it ceremonially impure, Leviticus 13:3. The act of putting forth his hand and touching him, therefore, expressed the intention of Jesus to cure him, and was a pledge that he was, in fact, already cured.

Verse 4. See thou tell no man. This command is to be understood as extending only to the time until he had made the proper representation to the priest. It was his duty to hasten to him immediately; not to delay by talking about it, but as the first thing to obey the laws of God, and make proper acknowledgments to him by an offering. The place where this cure was wrought was in Galilee, a distance of forty or fifty miles from Jerusalem; and it was his duty to make haste to the residence of the priest, and obtain his sanction to the reality of the cure. Perhaps, also, Christ was apprehensive that the report would go before the man, if he delayed, and the priest, through opposition to Jesus, might pronounce it an imposition.

A testimony unto them. Not to the priest, but to the people. Show thyself to the priest, and get his testimony to the reality of the cure, as a proof to the people that the healing is genuine. It was necessary that he should have that testimony before he could be received to the congregation, or allowed to mingle with the people. Having this, he would be, of course, restored to the privileges of social and religious life, and the proof of the miracle, to the people, would be put beyond a doubt.

{t} "See thou tell" Matthew 9:30; Mark 5:43
{u} "Moses commanded" Leviticus 14:3

Verse 5. Capernaum. See Barnes "Matthew 4:13".

There came unto him a centurion. A centurion was a commander of a hundred men, in the Roman armies. Judea was a Roman province, and garrisons were kept there to preserve the people in subjection. This man was probably by birth a pagan. See Matthew 8:10.

{v} "a centurion" Luke 7:2

Verse 6. Sick of the palsy. See Barnes "Matthew 4:24". The particular form which the palsy assumed is not mentioned. It seems it was a violent attack. Perhaps it was the painful form which produced violent cramps, and which immediately endangered his life.

Verse 7. No Barnes text on this verse.

Verse 8. I am not worthy, etc. This was an expression of great humility. It refers doubtless to his view of his personal unworthiness, and not merely to the fact that he was a Gentile. It was the expression of a humble spirit; a conviction of the great dignity and power of the Saviour, and a belief that he was so unlike him, that he was not fit that the Son of God should come into his dwelling. So every truly penitent sinner feels--a feeling which is appropriate when he comes to Christ.

{w} "not worthy" Psalms 10:17; Luke 15:19,21
{x} "the word only" Psalms 33:9; 107:20

Verse 9. I am a man, etc. He had full confidence in the ability of Jesus to heal his servant, and requested him simply to give the command. This request he presented in a manner appropriate to a soldier. I am a man, says he, under authority. That is, I am subject to the commands of others, and know how to obey. I have also under me soldiers who are accustomed to obedience. I say to one, go, and he goes; and to another, come, and he comes. I am prepared, therefore, to believe that your commands will be obeyed. As these obey me, so do diseases, storms, and seas obey you. If men obey me, who am an inferior officer, subject to another, how much more shall diseases obey you--the original Source of power-- having control over all things! He asked, therefore, simply that Christ would give commandment, and he felt assured he would be obeyed.

Verse 10. I have not found so great faith. The word faith, here, means confidence, or belief that Christ had power to heal his servant. It does not of necessity imply that he had saving faith; though from the connexion, and the spirit manifested, it seems probable that he had. If this was so, then he was the first Gentile convert to Christianity, and was a very early illustration of what was more dearly revealed afterwards, that the heathen were to be brought to the knowledge of the truth.

Jesus---marvelled. Or wondered at his faith; or deemed it remarkable.

Not in Israel. Israel was a name given to Jacob, (Genesis 32:28,29) because, as a prince, he had power with God; because he persevered in wrestling with the angel that met him, and obtained the blessing. The name is derived from two Hebrew words, signifying Prince and God. He was one of the patriarchs; a progenitor of the Jewish nation; and the names Israel and Israelites were given to them as the name Romans was in honour of Romulus; and the name Americans after Americus Vespuccius. It was given to the whole nation till the time of Jeroboam, when only the ten tribes that revolted received the name, probably because they were a majority of the nation. After the captivity of Babylon, it was given to all the Jews indiscriminately. See Matthew 10:6; Acts 7:42; Hebrews 8:8; Mark 15:32. It here means, "I have not found such an instance of confidence among the Jews."

{y} "no, not in all Israel" Matthew 15.28

Verse 11. Many shall come from the east, etc. Jesus takes occasion, from the faith of a Roman centurion, to state this conversion would not be solitary; that many pagans--many from the east and west-- would be converted to the gospel, and be saved, as Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob were. The phrase "from the east and from the west," in the Scripture, is used to denote the whole world, Isaiah 45:6; 59:19. The phrase, shall sit down, in the original, refers to the manner of sitting at meals, See Barnes "Matthew 23:6" and the enjoyments of heaven are described under the similitude of a feast or banquet--a very common manner of speaking of it, Matthew 26:29; Luke 14:15; 22:30. It is used here to denote felicity, enjoyment, or honour. To sit with those distinguished men was an honour, and would be expressive of great felicity.

{z} "many shall come" Isaiah 2:2,3; Luke 13:29; Acts 11:18; Ephesians 3:6; Revelation 7:9

Verse 12. The children of the kingdom. That is, the children, or the people, who expected the kingdom; or to whom it properly belonged; or, in other words, the Jews. They supposed themselves peculiarly the favourites of heaven. They thought the Messiah would, enlarge their nation, and spread the triumphs of their kingdom. They called themselves, therefore, the children of the members of the kingdom of God, to the exclusion of the Gentiles. Our Saviour used the manner of speech to which they were accustomed, and said that many of the pagans would be saved, and many Jews lost.

Shall be cast out into outer darkness, etc. This is an image of future punishment. It is not improbable that the image was taken from Roman dungeons or prisons. They were commonly constructed under-ground. They were shut out from the light of the sun. They were, of course, damp, dark, and unhealthy, and probably most filthy. Masters were in the habit of constructing such prisons for their slaves, where the unhappy prisoner, without light, or company, or comfort, spent his days and nights in weeping from grief, and in vainly gnashing his teeth from indignation. The image expresses the fact, that the wicked who are lost will be shut out from the light of heaven, and from peace, and joy; and hope; will be confined in gloomy darkness; will weep in hopeless grief; and gnash their teeth in indignation against God, and murmur against his justice. What a striking image of future woe! Go to a damp, dark, solitary, and squalid dungeon; see a miserable and enraged victim; add to his sufferings the idea of eternity, and then remember that this after all is but an image, a faint image, of hell! See Barnes "Matthew 22:13".

{a} "of the kingdom" Matthew 7:22,23
{b} "be weeping" Matthew 13:42,50

Verse 13. He was healed in that selfsame hour. This showed decisively the goodness and power of Jesus. No miracle could be more complete. There could be no imposition, or deception.

This account, or one similar to this, is found in Luke 7:1-10. There has been a difference of opinion whether that was the same account, or whether a second centurion, encouraged by the success of the first, applied to our Saviour in a similar case and manner, and obtained the same success. In support of the supposition that they are different narratives, it is said that they disagree so far that it is impossible to reconcile them, and that it is not improbable that a similar occurrence might take place, and be attended with similar results. To a plain reader, however, the narratives appear to be the same. They agree in the character of the person, the place, and apparently the time; in the same substantial structure of the account, the expression of similar feelings, and the same answers, and the same result. It is very difficult to believe that all these circumstances would coincide in two different stories.

They differ, however. Matthew says, that the centurion came himself. Luke says, that he at first sent elders of the Jews, and then his particular friends. He also adds, that he was friendly to the Jews, and had built them a synagogue. An infidel will ask, whether there is not here a palpable contradiction? In explanation of this, let it be remarked,

(1.) that the fact that the centurion came himself is no evidence that others did not come also. It was in the city. The centurion was a great favourite, and had conferred on them many favours; and they would be anxious that the favour which he desired of Jesus should be granted. At his suggestion, or of their own accord, they might apply to Jesus, and press the subject upon him, and be anxious to represent the case as favourably as possible. All this was probably done, as it would be in any other city, in considerable haste and apparent confusion; and one observer might fix strongly on one circumstance, and another on another. It is not at all improbable that the same representation and request might be made both by the centurion and his friends. Matthew might have fixed his eye very strongly on the fact that the centurion came himself, and been particularly struck with his deportment; and Luke on the remarkable zeal shown by the friends of a heathen, the interest they took in his welfare, and the circumstance that he had done much for them. Full of these interesting circumstances, he might comparatively have overlooked the centurion himself.

(2.) It was a maxim among the Jews, as it is now in law, that what a man does by another, he does himself. So Jesus is said to baptize, when he only baptized by his disciples. See John 4:1 John 19:1. Matthew was intent on the great leading facts of the cure. He was studious of brevity. He did not choose to explain the particular circumstances. He says that the centurion made the application, and received the answer, he does not say whether by himself, or by an agent. Luke explains particularly how it was done. There is no more contradiction, therefore, than there would be if it should be said of a man in a court of law, that he came and made application for a new trial, when the application was really made by his lawyer. Two men, narrating the fact, might exhibit the same variety that Matthew and Luke have done; and both be true. One thing is most clearly shown by this narrative, that this account was not invented by the evangelists for the sake of imposition. If it had been, they would have agreed in all the circumstances.

Verses 14,15. This account is contained also in Mark 1:29-31; and Luke 4:38,39. Mark adds that Simon and Andrew lived together, and that James and John went with them to the house. He adds, also, that before the miracle they spake to him about the sick person. The miracle was direct and complete. She was so completely restored as to attend them, and minister to them. The mention of "Peter's wife's mother," proves that Peter either then was or had been married. The fair and obvious interpretation is, that his wife was then living, comp. 1 Corinthians 9:5; and See Barnes "1 Corinthians 9:15". Peter is claimed by the Roman Catholics to be the head of the church; and the vicegerent of Christ. The pope, according to their view, is the successor of this apostle. On what pretence do they maintain that it is wrong for priests to marry? Why did not Christ at once reject Peter from being an apostle for having a wife? How remarkable that he should be set up as the head of the church, and an example and a model to all who were to succeed him. But all this is human law, and is contrary to the New Testament. That Peter had a wife was no objection to his being an apostle, and marriage has been expressly declared to be "honourable in ALL," Hebrews 13:4.

{c} "wife's mother laid" Mark 1:30,31; Luke 4:38,39

Verse 15. No Barnes text on this verse. See Barnes "Matthew 8:14"

Verse 16. When the even was come, etc. The fame of the miracles of Jesus would probably draw together a crowd, and those who had friends that were afflicted would bring them. All that were brought to him he healed. This was proof of two things: first, his great benevolence; and, secondly, of his Divine mission. He might have established the latter by miracles that would do no good. None of his miracles were performed, however, merely to make a display of power, unless the cursing of the barren fig-tree be an exception comp. Mark 11:11-14. This was on the evening of the sabbath, Mark 1:21-32. The Jews kept the sabbath from evening to evening, Leviticus 23:32. On the sabbath they would not even bring their sick to be healed, (Luke 13:14) but as soon as it was closed, on the evening of the same day, they came in multitudes to be cured.

Possessed with devils. See Barnes "Matthew 4:24".

With his word. By his command; by a word.

{d} "brought unto him many" Mark 1:32

Verse 17. That it might be fulfilled, etc. This passage is found in Isaiah 53:4. Our English translation of that important passage is, "Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows." The Greek in Matthew is an exact translation of the Hebrew, and the same translation should have been made in both places. In the fifty-third chapter, Isaiah fully states the doctrine of atonement, or that the Messiah was to suffer for sin. In the verse quoted here, however, he states the very truth which Matthew declares. The word translated griefs, in Isaiah, and infirmities, in Matthew, means properly, in the Hebrew and Greek, diseases of the body. In neither does it refer to the disease of the mind, or to sin. To bear those griefs, is clearly to bear them away, or to remove them. This was done by his miraculous power in healing the sick. The word rendered "sorrows," in Isaiah, and" sicknesses," in Matthew, means pains, griefs, or anguish of mind. To carry, then; is to sympathize with the sufferers; to make provision for alleviating those sorrows; and to take them away. This he did by his precepts, his example; and the cause of all sorrows--sin--he removed by his atonement. The passage in Isaiah and Matthew, therefore, mean precisely the same thing. See Magee on Atonement, and See Barnes "Isaiah 53:1" and following.

{e} "Esaias the prophet" Isaiah 53:4; 1 Peter 2:24

Verse 18. Unto the other side. Jesus was now in Capernaum, a city at the north-west corner of the sea of Tiberias, or sea of Galilee. See Barnes "Matthew 4:18". The country to which he purposed to go was the region on the east of the Sea of Tiberias.

Verses 19,20. A certain scribe came, etc. It is not improbable that this man, who had seen the miracles of Jesus, had formed an expectation that by following him he would obtain some considerable worldly advantage. Christ, in reply, proclaimed his own poverty, and dashed the hope of the avaricious scribe. The very foxes and birds, says he, have places of repose and shelter, but the Son of man has no home, and no pillow. He is a stranger in his own world; a wanderer and an outcast from the abodes of men. Comp. John 1:11.

Son of man. This means evidently Jesus himself. Not title is more frequently given to the Saviour than this; and yet there is much difficulty in explaining it. The word son is used in a great variety of significations. See Barnes "Matthew 1:1". The name Son of man is given to Jesus only three times in the New Testament, (Acts 7:56; Revelation 1:13; 14:14). The phrase Son of God, given to Christ, denotes peculiar connexion with God, John 10:36. The name Son of man probably denotes a corresponding peculiar connexion with man; his peculiar love and friendship for him; and his willingness to devote himself to the best interests of the race. It is sometimes, however, used as synonymous with Messiah, Matthew 16:28 John 1:34; Acts 7:37; John 12:34.

{f} "Master, I" Luke 9:57,58

Verse 20. No Barnes text on this verse. See Barnes "Matthew 8:19"

Verse 21. And another of his disciples, etc. The word disciple properly signifies learner; and was given to his followers because they received him as their teacher. See Barnes "Matthew 5:1". It does not of necessity mean that a disciple was a pious man, but only one of the multitude, who, for various causes, might attend on his instructions. See John 6:66; 9:28

{g} "Lord, suffer" 1 Kings 19:20

Verse 22. Let the dead bury their dead. The word dead is used in this passage in two different senses. It is apparently a paradox, but is fitted to convey his idea very distinctly to the mind. The Jews used the word dead often to express indifference towards a thing; or rather, to show that that thing has no influence over us. Thus, to be dead to the world; to be dead to the law Romans 7:4; to be dead to sin Romans 6:11; means that the world, law, and sin, have not influence or control over us; that we are free from them, and as as though they were not. A body in the grave is unaffected by the pomp and vanity, by the gaiety and revelry, by the ambition and splendour that may be near the tomb. So men of the world are dead to religion. They see not its beauty; hear not its voice; are not won by its loveliness. This is the class of men to which the Saviour referred here. Let men, says he, who are uninterested in my work, and who are dead in sin, (Ephesians 2:1,) take care of the dead. Your duty is now to follow me.

There may have been two reasons for this apparently rash direction. One was to test the character and attachment of the man. If he had proper love for Christ, he would be willing to leave his friends even in the most tender and trying circumstances.. This is required, Matthew 10:27; Luke 14:26. A second reason might have been, that if he returned, at that time, his friends might ridicule or oppose him, or present plausible arguments, in the afflictions of the family, why he should not return to Christ. The thing to which he was called was moreover of more importance than any earthly consideration; and for that time, Christ chose to require of the man a very extraordinary sacrifice to show his sincere attachment to him. Or it may have been, that the Saviour saw that the effect of visiting his home at that time might have been to drive away all his serious impressions, and that he would return to him no more. These impressions might not have been deep enough, and his purpose to follow our Saviour may not have been strong enough to bear the trial to which he would be subjected. Strange as it may seem, there are few scenes better fitted to drive away serious impressions than those connected with a funeral. We should have supposed it would be otherwise. But facts show it to be so; and show that if this was one of the reasons which influenced the Saviour, he had a thorough knowledge of human nature. The arrangements for the funeral; the preparation of mounting apparel; and the depth of sorrow in such cases, divert the mind from its sins, and its personal need of a Saviour; and hence few persons are awakened or converted as the result of death in a family. The case here was a strong one. It was as strong as can well be conceived. And the Saviour meant to teach by this, that nothing is to be allowed to divert the mind from religion; nothing to be an excuse for not following him. Not even the death of a father, and the sorrows of an afflicted family, are to be suffered to lead a man to defer religion, or to put off the purpose to be a Christian. That is a fixed duty--a duty not to be deferred or neglected--whether in sickness or health, at home or abroad; whether surrounded by living and happy kindred, or whether a father, a mother, a child, or a sister, lies in our house dead.

It is the regular duty of children to obey their parents, and to show them kindness in affliction, and to evince proper care and respect for them when dead. Nor did our Saviour show himself insensible to these duties. He taught here, however, as he always taught, that a regard to friends, and ease, and comfit, should be subordinate to the gospel; and that we should always be ready to sacrifice these when duty to God requires it.

Verse 23. Into a ship. This was on the sea of Tiberias. The ship in which they sailed was probably a small open boat, with sails, such as were commonly used for fishing on the lake.

His disciples. Not merely the apostles, but probably many others. There were many other ships in company with him, Mark 4:36. This circumstance would render the miracle much more striking and impressive.

Verse 24. A great tempest. A violent storm; or a wind so strong as to endanger their lives. This lake was subject to sudden squalls.

The ship was covered with the waves. The billows dashed against the ship, (Mark 4:37,) so that it was fast filling and in danger of sinking.

He was asleep. On the hinder part of the vessel, on a pillow, Mark 4:38. It was in the night, and Jesus had retired to rest. He was probably weary, and slept calmly and serenely, he apprehended no danger, and showed to his disciples how calmly one can sleep with a pure conscience, and who feels safe in the hands of God.

{h} "And, behold" Mark 4:37; Luke 8:23

Verse 25. Save us. Save our lives.

We perish. We are in danger of perishing. This showed great confidence in the Saviour. It shows, also, where sinners and Christians should always go, who feel that they are in danger of perishing. There is none that can save from the storms of Divine wrath but the Son of God.

Verse 26. Why are ye fearful. You should have remembered that the Son of God, the Messiah, was on board. You should not have forgotten that he had power to save, and that with him you are safe. So Christians should never fear danger, disease, or death. With Jesus they are safe. No enemy can reach him; and as he is safe, so they shall be also, John 14:19.

Rebuked the winds. Reproved them; or commanded them to be still. What a power was this! What irresistible proof that he was Divine! His word awed the tempest, and allayed the storm! There is not, anywhere, a sublimer description of a display of power. Nor could there be sublimer proof that he was truly the Son of God.

Great calm. The winds were still; and the sea ceased to dash against the vessel, and to endanger their lives.

{i} "rebuked" Job 38:11; Psalms 89:9; 107:29

Verse 27. Men marvelled. Wondered; or were amazed.

What manner of man. What personage. How unlike other men! What a vast, minute display of power; and how far exalted above mortals must he be I He spoke to the winds; rebuked their raging, and the sea was suddenly calm. The storm subsided; the ship glided smoothly; danger fled; and in amazement they stood in the presence of Him who controlled the tempests that God had raised: and they felt that He must be God himself. None but God could calm the heaving billows, and scatter the tempest. No scene could have been more grand than this display of the power of Jesus. The darkness; the dashing waves; the howling winds; the heaving and tossing ship; the fears and cries of the seamen; all by a single word hushed into calm repose; all present an image of power and divinity irresistibly grand and awful. So the tempest rolls and thickens over the head of the awakened sinner. So he trembles over immediate and awful destruction. So while the storm of wrath howls, and hell threatens to engulf him, he comes trembling to the Saviour. He hears; he rebukes the storm; and the sinner is safe. An indescribable peace takes possession of the soul; and he glides on a tranquil sea to the haven of eternal rest. See Isaiah 57:20,21; Romans 5:1; Philippians 4:7.

Verses 28-34. The same account of the demoniacs substantially is found in Mark 5:1-20; and Luke 8:26-39.

Verse 28. The other side. The other side of the sea of Tiberias.

Country of the Gergesenes. Mark 5:1 says, that he came into the country of the Gadarenes. This difference is only apparent. Gadara was a city not far from the lake Gennesareth; one of the ten cities that were called Decapolis. See Barnes "Matthew 4:25". Gergesa was a city about twelve miles to the south-east of Gadara, and about twenty miles to the east of the Jordan. There is no contradiction, therefore, in the evangelists. He came into the region in which the two cities were situated, and one mentioned one, and the other another. It shows that the writers had not agreed to impose on the world; for if they had, they would have mentioned the same city; and it shows they were familiar with the country. No man would have written in this manner, but those who were acquainted with the facts. Impostors do not mention places, or names, if they can avoid it.

There met him two. Mark and Luke speak of only one that met him. "There met him out of the tombs a man," Mark 5:2. "There met him out of the city a certain man," etc., Luke 8:27. This difference of statement has given rise to considerable difficulty. It is to be observed, however, that neither Mark nor Luke say that there was no more than one. For particular reasons they might have been led to fix the attention on one of them that was more notorious, and furious, and difficult to be managed. Had they denied plainly that there was more than one, and had Matthew affirmed that there were two, there would have been an irreconcilable contradiction. As it is, they relate the affair as other men would. It shows that they were honest witnesses. Had they been impostors; had Matthew and Luke agreed to write books to deceive the world, they would have agreed exactly in a case so easy as this. They would have told the story with the same circumstances. Witnesses in courts of law; often differ in unimportant matters; and, provided the main narrative coincides, their testimony is thought to be more valuable.

Luke has given us a hint why he recorded only the cure of one of them. He says, there met him "out of the city," a man, etc.; or, as it should be rendered, "a man of the city," a citizen. Yet the man did not dwell in the city; for he adds in the same verse, "neither abode he in any house, but in the tombs." The truth of the case was, that he was born and educated in the city; he had probably been a man of wealth and eminence; he was well known; and the people felt a deep interest in the case. Luke was, therefore, particularly struck with his case; and as his cure fully established the power of Jesus, he recorded it. The other that Matthew mentions was probably a stranger, or a person less notorious as a maniac, and he felt less interest in the cure. Let two persons go into a lunatic asylum, and meet two insane persons, one of whom should be exceedingly fierce and ungovernable, and well known as having been a man of worth and standing; let them converse with them; and let the more violent one attract the principal attention, and they would very likely give the same account that Matthew and Luke do; and no one would doubt the statement was correct.

Possessed with devils. See Barnes "Matthew 4:24".

Coming out of the tombs. Mark and Luke say that they dwelt in the tombs. The sepulchres of the Jews were commonly caves, beyond the walls of the cities in which they dwelt, or excavations made in the sides of hills, or sometimes in solid rocks. These caves, or excavations, were sometimes of great extent, They descended to them by flights of steps. These graves were not in the midst of cities, but in groves, and mountains, and solitudes. They afforded, therefore, to insane persons and demoniacs retreat and shelter. They delighted in these gloomy and melancholy recesses, as being congenial to the wretched state of their minds. Josephus, also, states that these sepulchres were the haunts and lurking-places of those desperate bands of robbers that infested Judea. The annexed cut will furnish an illustration of the nature of the sepulchres occurring in the east. A more full illustration may be seen by referring to See Barnes "Isaiah 64:4".

{s} "And when" Mark 5:1; Luke 8:26

Verse 29. What have we to do with thee. This might have been translated with great propriety, What hast thou to do with us? The meaning is, "Why dost thou trouble, or disturb us?" See 2 Samuel 16:10; 2 Kings 9:18; Ezra 4:3.

Son of God. The title, Son of God, is often given to Christ. Men are sometimes called sons, or children of God, to denote their piety and adoption into his family, 1 John 3:1. But the title given, to Christ denotes his superiority to the prophets, (Hebrews 1:1) to Moses the founder of the Jewish economy, (Hebrews 3:6) it denotes his peculiar and near relation to the Father, as evinced by his resurrection, (Psalms 2:7; Acts 13:33) it denotes his peculiar relation to God from his miraculous conception, (Luke 1:35) and is equivalent to a declaration that he is Divine, or equal to the Father, John 10:36.

Art thou come hither to torment us, etc. By the time here mentioned is meant the day of judgment. The Bible reveals the doctrine that evil spirits are not now bound as they will be after that day; that they are permitted to tempt and afflict men; but that in the day of judgment they also will be condemned to everlasting punishment with all the wicked, 2 Peter 2:4; Jude 1:6. These spirits seemed to be apprized of that, and alarmed lest the day that they had feared had come. They besought him, therefore, not to send them out of that country; not to consign them then to hell, but to put off the day of their final punishment. Mark and Luke say that Jesus inquired the name of the principal demoniac, and that he called his name Legion, for they were many. The name legion was given to a division in the Roman army. It did not always denote the same number; but, in the time of Christ, it consisted of six thousand--three thousand foot and three thousand horsemen. It came, therefore, to signify a large number, without specifying the exact amount.

Verse 30. An herd of many swine. The word herd, here applied to swine, is now commonly given to cattle. Formerly it signified any collection of beasts, or even of men. The number that composed this herd was two thousand, Mark 5:13.

Verse 31. No Barnes text on this verse. See Barnes "Matthew 8:28"

{k} "suffer us" Job 1:10-12; 2:3-6
{l} "???" Deuteronomy 14:8; Isaiah 65:3,4

Verse 32. No Barnes text on this verse. See Barnes "Matthew 8:28"

Verse 33. They that kept them fled, etc. These swine were doubtless owned by the inhabitants of Gadara. Whether they were Jews or Gentiles is not certainly known. It was not properly in the territory of Judea; but as it was on its borders, it is probable that the inhabitants were a mixture of Jews and Gentiles. Swine were to Jews unclean animals, and it was unlawful for them to eat them, Leviticus 11:7. The Jews were forbidden by their own laws to keep them, even for the purpose of traffic. Either, therefore, they had expressly violated the law, or these swine were owned by the Gentiles.

The keepers fled in consternation. They were amazed at his power. Perhaps they feared a further destruction of property; or, more likely, they were acquainted with the laws of the Jews, and regarded this as a judgment of Heaven for keeping forbidden animals, and for tempting the Jews to violate the commands of God. They dreaded, perhaps, further punishment, and foolishly came and besought Jesus to depart from their country.

This is the only one of our Saviour's miracles, except the case of the fig-tree that he cursed, (Matthew 21:18-20,) in which he caused any destruction of property. It is a striking proof of his benevolence, that his miracles tended directly to the comfort of mankind. It was a proof of goodness added to the direct purpose for which his miracles were wrought. That purpose was to confirm his Divine mission; and it might have been as fully done by splitting rocks, or removing mountains, or causing water to run up steep hills, as by any other display of power. See Acts 2:22. He chose to exhibit the proof of his Divine power, however, in such a way as to benefit mankind.

Infidels have objected to this whole narrative. They have said that this was a wanton and unauthorized violation of private rights in the destruction of property. They have said that the account of devils going into swine, and destroying them, was ridiculous. In regard to these objections, the narrative is easily vindicated.

1st. If Christ, as the Bible declares, be Divine as well as human--God as well as man--then he had an original right to that and all other property, and might dispose of it as he pleased, Psalms 50:10-12. If God had destroyed them by pestilence, or by lightning, or by an inundation or earthquake, neither the owners, nor any one else, would have had reason to complain. No one now feels that he has a right to murmur if God destroys a thousand times the amount of this property, by overturning a city by an earthquake. Why, then, should complaints be brought against him if he should do the same thing in another way?

2nd. If this property was held by the Jews, it was a violation of their law, and it was right that they should suffer the loss;--if by the Gentiles, it was known also to be a violation of the law of the people among whom they lived; a temptation and a snare to them; and an abomination in their sight; and it was proper that the nuisance should be removed.

3rd. The cure of two men, one of whom was probably a man of distinction and property, was of far more consequence than the amount of property destroyed. To restore a deranged man now, of family and standing, would be an act for which property could not compensate, and which could not be measured in value by any pecuniary consideration. But,

4th. Jesus was not at all answerable for this destruction of property. He did not command, he only suffered or permitted the devils to go into the swine. He commanded them merely to come out of the man. They originated the purpose of destroying the property, doubtless for the sake of doing as much mischief as possible, and of destroying the effect of the miracle of Christ. In this they seem to have had most disastrous success; and they only are responsible.

5th. If it should be said that Christ permitted this, when he might have prevented it, we reply, that the difficulty does not stop there. He permits all the evil that exists, when he might prevent it. He permits men to do much evil, when he might prevent it. He permits one bad man to injure the person and property of another bad man. He permits the bad to injure the good. He often permits a wicked man to fire a city, or to plunder a dwelling, or to rob a traveller, destroying property of many times the amount that was lost at Gadara. Why is it any more absurd to suffer a wicked spirit to do injury, than a wicked man? or to suffer a legion of devils to destroy a herd of swine, than for legions of men to desolate nations, and cover fields and towns with ruin and slaughter?

Verse 34. The whole city came out. The people of the city probably came with a view of arresting him for the injury done to the property; but seeing him, and being awed by his presence, they only besought him to leave them.

Out of their coasts. Out of their country. This shows,

1st. that the design of Satan is to prejudice men against the Saviour; and even to make what Christ does an occasion why they should desire him to leave them.

2nd. The power of avarice. These men preferred their property to the Saviour. They loved it so much, that they were blind to the evidence of the miracle, and to the good he had done to the miserable men that he had healed. It is no uncommon thing for men to love the world so much; to love property, even like that owned by the people of Gadara, so much as to see no beauty in religion, and no excellence in the Saviour; and, rather than part with it, to beseech Jesus to withdraw from them. The most grovelling employment; the most abandoned sins; the most loathsome vices, are often loved more than the presence of Jesus, and more than all the blessings of his salvation.

{m} "depart" Job 21:24; Luke 5:18; Acts 16:39

REMARKS ON MATTHEW CHAPTER 8.

1st. The leprosy, the disease mentioned in this chapter, is an apt representation of the nature of sin. Like that, sin is loathsome; it is deep fixed in the frame; penetrating every part of the system; working its way to the surface imperceptibly, but surely; loosing the joints, and consuming the sinews of moral action; and adhering to the system, till it terminates in eternal death. It goes down from age to age. It shuts out men from the society of the pure in heaven, nor can man be elevated there, till God has cleansed the soul by his Spirit, and man is made pure and whole.

2nd. The case of the centurion is a strong instance of the nature and value of humility, Matthew 8:6-10. He sustained a fair character, and had done much for the Jews. Yet he had no exalted conception of himself. Compared with the Saviour, he felt that he was unworthy that he should come to his dwelling. So feels every humble soul. Humility is an estimate of ourselves as we are. It is a willingness to be known, and talked of, and treated, just according to truth. It is a view of ourselves as lost, poor and wandering creatures. Compared with other men---with angels, with Jesus, and with God--it is a feeling by which we regard ourselves as unworthy of notice. It is a readiness to occupy our appropriate station in the universe, and to put on humbleness of mind as our proper array, 1 Peter 5:5.

3rd. We have here an equally beautiful exhibition of faith. The centurion had unwavering confidence in the power of Jesus. He did not doubt at all that Jesus was able to do for him just what he needed, and what he wished him to do. This is faith; and every man who has this trust or confidence in Christ for salvation, has saving faith.

4th. Humility and faith are always connected. The one prepares the mind for the other. Having a deep sense of our weakness and unworthiness, we are prepared to look to Him who has strength. Faith also produces humility. Jesus was humble; and believing on him, we catch his spirit, and learn of him, Matthew 11:28-30. Compared with him, we see our unworthiness. Seeing HIS strength, we see OUR feebleness; seeing his strength exerted to save creatures, impure and ungrateful as we are, we sink away into an increased sense of our unfitness for his favour.

5th. We see the compassion and kindness of Jesus, Matthew 8:16; 17. He has borne our heavy griefs. He provides comfort for us in sickness, and sustains us in dying. But for his merciful arm, we should sink; and dying, we should die without hope. But he

"Can make a dying bed Feel soft as downy pillows are; Whilst on his breast we lean our head, And breathe our life out sweetly there."

6th. We are forcibly struck with his condescension, Matthew 8:19,20. Men of wickedness and crime dwell in splendid mansions, and stretch themselves on couches of ease; when afflicted, they recline on beds of down; but Jesus had no home, and no pillow. The birds that fill the air with music, and warble in the groves, nay, the very foxes, have homes and a shelter from the storms and elements; but He that made them, clothed in human flesh, was a wanderer, and had not where to lay his head. His sorrows he bore alone; his dwelling was in the mountains. In the palaces of the men for whom he toiled, and for whom he was about to bleed on a cross, he found no home, and no sympathy. Surely this was compassion worthy of a God.

7th. It is no disgrace to be poor. The Son of God was poor--and it is no dishonour to be like him. If our Maker, then, has cast our lot in poverty; if he takes away by sickness or calamity the fruits of our toils; if he clothes us in homely and coarse apparel; if he bids the winds of heaven to howl around our open and lonely dwellings, let us remember that the Redeemer of mankind trod the same humble path; and that it can be no dishonour to be likened to him who was the beloved Son of God.

8th. We should be willing to embrace the gospel without hope of earthly reward, Matthew 8:19-23. Religion promises no earthly honours or wealth. It bids its disciples to look beyond the grave for its highest rewards. It requires men to love religion for its own sake; to love the Saviour, even when poor, and cast out, and suffering, because he is worthy of love; and to be willing to forsake all the allurements which the world holds out to us, for the sake of the purity and peace of the gospel.

9th. We learn the necessity of forsaking all for the sake of the gospel. Our first duty is to God, our Creator and Saviour; our second to friends, and relations and country, Matthew 8:22. When God commands, we must follow him; nor should any consideration of ease, or safety, or imaginary duty, deter us. To us it is of no consequence what men say or think of us. Let the will of God be prayerfully ascertained, and then let it be done, though it carry us through ridicule, racks, and flames.

10th. Jesus can preserve us in the day of danger, Matthew 8:23-27. He hushed the storm, and they were safe. His life was also in danger with theirs. Had the ship sunk, without a miracle, he would have perished with them. So in every storm of trial or persecution, in every heaving sea of calamity, he is united to his followers. His interest and theirs is the same. He feels for them; he is touched with their infirmities; and he will sustain them. "Because I live," says he, "ye shall live also." Never, never, then, shall man or devil pluck one of his faithful followers from his hand, John 10:27,28.

11th. All that can disturb or injure us is under the control of the Christian's Friend, Matthew 8:28-32. The very inhabitants of hell are bound; and beyond his permission they can never injure us. In spite, then, of all the malice of malignant beings, the friends of Jesus are safe.

12th. It is no uncommon thing for men to desire Jesus to depart from them, Matthew 8:34. Though he is ready to confer on them important favours, yet they hold his favours to be of far less consequence than some unimportant earthly possession. Sinners never love him, and always wish him away from their dwellings.

13th. It is no uncommon thing for Jesus to take men at their word, and leave them. He gives them over to worldly thoughts and pursuits; he suffers them to sink into crime, and they perish for ever! Alas, how many are there, like the dwellers in Gadara, that ask him to depart; that see him go without a sigh; and that never, never again behold him coming to bless them with salvation!


Copyright Statement
These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website.

Bibliography Information
Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Matthew 8". "Barnes' Notes on the New Testament". <http://classic.studylight.org/com/bnn/view.cgi?book=mt&chapter=008>.  

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