Commentary Critical and Explanatory
on the Whole Bible
MISSION OF THE
Mt 10:1, 5-15;
RESURRECTION OF THE
Herod's View of Christ
14. And King Herod--that is, Herod Antipas, one of the three sons of
Herod the Great, and own brother of Archelaus
who ruled as ethnarch over Galilee and Perea.
heard of him; (for his name was spread abroad); and he said--"unto
his councillors or court ministers.
That John the Baptist was risen from the dead--The murdered prophet
haunted his guilty breast like a specter, and seemed to him alive again
and clothed with unearthly powers, in the person of Jesus.
15. Others said, That it is Elias. And others, That it is a prophet,
or as one of the prophets--(See on
16. But when Herod heard thereof, he said, It is John, whom I
beheaded; he is risen from the dead--"Himself has risen"; as if the
innocence and sanctity of his faithful reprover had not suffered that
he should lie long dead.
Account of the Baptist's Imprisonment and Death
17. For Herod himself had sent forth, and laid hold upon John, and
bound him in prison--in the castle of Machærus, near the southern
extremity of Herod's dominions, and adjoining the Dead Sea
[JOSEPHUS, Antiquities, 18.5,2].
for Herodias' sake--She was the granddaughter of Herod the Great.
his brother Philip's wife--and therefore the niece of both brothers.
This Philip, however, was not the tetrarch of that name mentioned in
but one whose distinctive name was "Herod Philip," another son of Herod
the Great--who was disinherited by his father. Herod Antipas' own wife
was the daughter of Aretas, king of Arabia; but he prevailed on
Herodias, his half-brother Philip's wife, to forsake her husband and
live with him, on condition, says JOSEPHUS
[Antiquities, 18.5,1], that he should put away his own wife.
This involved him afterwards in war with Aretas, who totally defeated
him and destroyed his army, from the effects of which he was never able
to recover himself.
18. For John had said unto Herod, It is not lawful for thee to have
thy brother's wife--Noble fidelity! It was not lawful because
Herod's wife and Herodias' husband were both living; and further,
because the parties were within the forbidden degrees of consanguinity
Herodias being the daughter of Aristobulus, the brother of both Herod
and Philip [JOSEPHUS, Antiquities,
19. Therefore Herodias had a quarrel against him--rather, as in the
Margin, "had a grudge against him." Probably she was too proud to
speak to him; still less would she quarrel with him.
and would have killed him; but she could not.
20. For Herod feared John--but, as
BENGEL notes, John feared not Herod.
knowing that he was a just man and an holy--Compare the case of
Elijah with Ahab, after the murder of Naboth
and observed him--rather, as in the Margin, "kept" or "saved him";
that is, from the wicked designs of Herodias, who had been watching for
some pretext to get Herod entangled and committed to despatch him.
and when he heard him, he did many things--many good things under the
influence of the Baptist on his conscience.
and heard him gladly--a striking statement this, for which we are
indebted to our graphic Evangelist alone, illustrating the working of
contrary principles in the slaves of passion. But this only shows how
far Herodias must have wrought upon him, as Jezebel upon Ahab, that he
should at length agree to what his awakened conscience kept him long
21. And when a convenient day--for the purposes of Herodias.
was come, that Herod--rather, "A convenient day being come, when
on his birthday, made a supper to his lords, high captains, and chief
estates of Galilee--This graphic minuteness of detail adds much to
the interest of the tragic narrative.
22. And when the daughter of the said Herodias--that is, her
daughter by her proper husband, Herod Philip: Her name was Salome
[JOSEPHUS, Antiquities, 18.5,4].
came in and danced, and pleased Herod and them that sat with him,
the king said unto the damsel--"the girl" (See on
Ask of me whatsoever thou wilt, and I will give it thee.
23. And he--the king, so called, but only by courtesy (see on
sware unto her Whatsoever thou shalt ask of me, unto the half of my
kingdom--Those in whom passion and luxury have destroyed self-command
will in a capricious moment say and do what in their cool moments they
24. And she said, The head of John the Baptist--Abandoned women are
more shameless and heartless than men. The Baptist's fidelity marred the
pleasures of Herodias, and this was too good an opportunity of getting
rid of him to let slip.
25. I will that thou give me by and by--rather, "at once."
in a charger--large, flat trencher.
the head of John the Baptist.
26. And the king was exceeding sorry--With his feelings regarding
John, and the truths which so told upon his conscience from that
preacher's lips, and after so often and carefully saving him from his
paramour's rage, it must have been very galling to find himself at
length entrapped by his own rash folly.
yet for his oath's sake--See how men of no principle, but troublesome
conscience, will stick at breaking a rash oath, while yielding to the
commission of the worst crimes!
and for their sakes which sat with him--under the influence of that
false shame, which could not brook being thought to be troubled with
religious or moral scruples. To how many has this proved a fatal snare!
he would not reject her.
27. And immediately the king sent an executioner--one of the guards
in attendance. The word is Roman, denoting one of the Imperial Guard.
and commanded his head to be brought: and he went and beheaded him in
the prison--after, it would seem, more than twelve months'
imprisonment. Blessed martyr! Dark and cheerless was the end reserved
for thee: but now thou hast thy Master's benediction, "Blessed is he
whosoever shall not be offended in Me"
and hast found the life thou gavest away
But where are they in whose skirts is found thy blood?
28. And brought his head in a charger, and gave it to the damsel: and
the damsel gave it to her mother--Herodias did not shed the blood of
the stern reprover; she only got it done, and then gloated over it, as
it streamed from the trunkless head.
29. And when his disciples heard of it--that is, the Baptist's own
they came and took up his corpse, and laid it in a tomb--"and went
and told Jesus"
If these disciples had, up to this time, stood apart from Him, as
adherents of John
perhaps they now came to Jesus, not without some secret reflection on
Him for His seeming neglect of their master; but perhaps, too, as
orphans, to cast in their lot henceforth with the Lord's disciples. How
Jesus felt, or what He said, on receiving this intelligence, is not
recorded; but He of whom it was said, as He stood by the grave of His
friend Lazarus, "Jesus wept," was not likely to receive such
intelligence without deep emotion. And one reason why He might not be
unwilling that a small body of John's disciples should cling to him to
the last, might be to provide some attached friends who should do for
his precious body, on a small scale, what was afterwards to be done for
THEM TO THE
AGAIN TO THE
WALKING ON THE
Here, for the first time, all the four streams of sacred text run
parallel. The occasion and all the circumstances of this grand section
are thus brought before us with a vividness quite remarkable.
Five Thousand Miraculously Fed
30. And the apostles gathered themselves together--probably at
Capernaum, on returning from their mission
and told him all things, both what they had done, and what they had
taught--Observe the various reasons He had for crossing to the other
side. First, Matthew
says, that "when Jesus heard" of the murder of His faithful
forerunner--from those attached disciples of his who had taken up his
body and laid it in a sepulchre (see on
--"He departed by ship into a desert place apart"; either to avoid some
apprehended consequences to Himself, arising from the Baptist's death
or more probably to be able to indulge in those feelings which that
affecting event had doubtless awakened, and to which the bustle of the
multitude around Him was very unfavorable. Next, since He must have
heard the report of the Twelve with the deepest interest, and probably
with something of the emotion which He experienced on the return of the
Seventy (see on
He sought privacy for undisturbed reflection on this begun preaching
and progress of His kingdom. Once more, He was wearied with the
multitude of "comers and goers"--depriving Him even of leisure enough
to take His food--and wanted rest: "Come ye yourselves apart
into a desert place, and rest a while," &c. Under the combined
influence of all these considerations, our Lord sought this change.
32. And they departed into a desert place by ship privately--"over
the Sea of Galilee, which is the Sea of Tiberias," says John
the only one of the Evangelists who so fully describes it; the others
having written when their readers were supposed to know something of
it, while the last wrote for those at a greater distance of time and
place. This "desert place" is more definitely described by Luke
as "belonging to the city called Bethsaida." This must not be
confounded with the town so called on the western side of the lake (see
This town lay on its northeastern side, near where the Jordan empties
itself into it: in Gaulonitis, out of the dominions of Herod Antipas,
and within the dominions of Philip the Tetrarch
who raised it from a village to a city, and called it Julias, in
honor of Julia, the daughter of Augustus [JOSEPHUS, Antiquities, 18.2,1].
33. And the people--the multitudes.
saw them departing, and many knew him--The true reading would seem to
be: "And many saw them departing, and knew or recognized [them]."
and ran afoot--Here, perhaps, it should be rendered "by land"--running
round by the head of the lake, and taking one of the fords of the river,
so as to meet Jesus, who was crossing with the Twelve by ship.
thither out of all cities, and outwent them--got before them.
and came together unto him--How exceedingly graphic is this! every
touch of it betokening the presence of an eye-witness. John
says, that "Jesus went up into a mountain"--somewhere in that hilly
range, the green tableland which skirts the eastern side of the
34. And Jesus, when he came out of the ship--having gone on shore.
saw much people--a great multitude.
and was moved with compassion toward them, because they were as sheep
not having a shepherd--At the sight of the multitudes who had followed
Him by land and even got before Him, He was so moved, as was His wont in
such cases, with compassion, because they were like shepherdless sheep,
as to forego both privacy and rest that He might minister to them. Here
we have an important piece of information from the Fourth Evangelist
"And the passover, a feast of the Jews, was nigh"--rather, "Now the
passover, the feast of the Jews, was nigh." This accounts for the
multitudes that now crowded around Him. They were on their way to keep
that festival at Jerusalem. But Jesus did not go up to this festival,
as John expressly tells us,
--remaining in Galilee, because the ruling Jews sought to kill Him.
35. And when the day was now far spent--"began to wear away" or
"decline," says Luke
says, "when it was evening"; and yet he mentions a later evening of the
This earlier evening began at three P.M.; the
latter began at sunset.
36. Send them away, that they may go into the country round about, and
into the villages, and buy themselves bread: for they have nothing to
eat--John tells us
(Joh 6:5, 6)
that "Jesus said to Philip, Whence shall we buy bread, that these may
eat? (And this He said to prove him: for He Himself knew what He would
do)." The subject may have been introduced by some remark of the
disciples; but the precise order and form of what was said by each can
hardly be gathered with precision, nor is it of any importance.
37. He answered and said unto them--"They need not depart"
Give ye them to eat--doubtless said to prepare them for what was to
And they say unto him, Shall we go and buy two hundred pennyworth of
bread, and give them to eat?--"Philip answered Him, Two hundred
pennyworth of bread is not sufficient for them, that every one of them
may take a little"
38. He saith unto them, How many loaves have ye? go and see. And when
they knew, they say, Five, and two fishes--John is more precise and
full: "One of His disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter's brother, saith unto
Him, There is a lad here which hath five barley loaves and two small
fishes: but what are they among so many?"
(Joh 6:8, 9).
Probably this was the whole stock of provisions then at the command of
the disciples--no more than enough for one meal to them--and entrusted
for the time to this lad. "He said, Bring them hither to me"
39. And he commanded them to make all sit down by companies upon the
green grass--or "green hay"; the rank grass of those bushy wastes.
For, as John
notes, "there was much grass in the place."
40. And they sat down in ranks, by hundreds, and by fifties--Doubtless this was to show at a glance the number fed, and to enable all
to witness in an orderly manner this glorious miracle.
41. And when he had taken the five loaves and the two fishes, he
looked up to heaven--Thus would the most distant of them see
distinctly what He was doing.
says, "And when he had given thanks." The sense is the same. This
thanksgiving for the meal, and benediction of it as the food of
thousands, was the crisis of the miracle.
and brake the loaves, and gave them to his disciples to set before
them--thus virtually holding forth these men as His future ministers.
and the two fishes divided he among them all.
42. And they did all eat, and were filled--All the four Evangelists
mention this: and John
adds, "and likewise of the fishes, as much as they would"--to show that
vast as was the multitude, and scanty the provisions, the meal to each
and all of them was a plentiful one. "When they were filled, He said
unto His disciples, Gather up the fragments that remain, that nothing
This was designed to bring out the whole extent of the miracle.
43. And they took up twelve baskets full of the fragments, and of the
they gathered them together, and filled twelve baskets with the
fragments of the five barley loaves, which remained over and above unto
them that had eaten." The article here rendered "baskets" in all the
four narratives was part of the luggage taken by Jews on a journey--to
carry, it is said, both their provisions and hay to sleep on, that they
might not have to depend on Gentiles, and so run the risk of ceremonial
pollution. In this we have a striking corroboration of the truth of the
four narratives. Internal evidence renders it clear, we think, that the
first three Evangelists wrote independently of each other, though the
fourth must have seen all the others. But here, each of the first three
Evangelists uses the same word to express the apparently insignificant
circumstance that the baskets employed to gather up the fragments were
of the kind which even the Roman satirist, JUVENAL, knew by the name of cophinus, while in
both the narratives of the feeding of the Four Thousand the baskets
used are expressly said to have been of the kind called spuris.
Mr 8:19, 20.)
44. And they that did eat of the loaves were about five thousand
men--"besides women and children"
Of these, however, there would probably not be many; as only the males
were obliged to go to the approaching festival.
Jesus Recrosses to the Western side of the Lake Walking on the
One very important particular given by John alone
introduces this portion: "When Jesus therefore perceived that they
would take Him by force, to make Him a king, He departed again into a
mountain Himself alone."
45. And straightway he constrained his disciples to get into the ship,
and to go to the other side before--Him.
unto Bethsaida--Bethsaida of Galilee
says they "went over the sea towards Capernaum"--the wind, probably,
occasioning this slight deviation from the direction of Bethsaida.
while he sent away the people--"the multitude." His object in this was
to put an end to the misdirected excitement in His favor
into which the disciples themselves may have been somewhat drawn. The
word "constrained" implies reluctance on their part, perhaps from
unwillingness to part with their Master and embark at night, leaving
Him alone on the mountain.
46. And when he had sent them away, he departed into a mountain to
pray--thus at length getting that privacy and rest which He had vainly
sought during the earlier part of the day; opportunity also to pour out
His soul in connection with the extraordinary excitement in His favor
that evening--which appears to have marked the zenith of His reputation,
for it began to decline the very next day; and a place whence He might
watch the disciples on the lake, pray for them in their extremity, and
observe the right time for coming to them, in a new manifestation of His
glory, on the sea.
47. And when even was come--the later evening (see on
It had come even when the disciples embarked
the ship was in the midst of the sea, and he alone on the land--John
"It was now dark, and Jesus was not come to them." Perhaps they made no
great effort to push across at first, having a lingering hope that
their Master would yet join them, and so allowed the darkness to come
on. "And the sea arose" (adds the beloved disciple,
"by reason of a great wind that blew."
48. And he saw them toiling in rowing; for the wind was contrary unto
them--putting forth all their strength to buffet the waves and bear on
against a head wind, but to little effect. He "saw" this from His
mountain top, and through the darkness of the night, for His heart was
all with them: yet would He not go to their relief till His own time
and about the fourth watch of the night--The Jews, who used to
divide the night into three watches, latterly adopted the Roman
division into four watches, as here. So that, at the rate of three
hours to each, the fourth watch, reckoning from six P.M., would be three o'clock in the morning. "So when
they had rowed about five and twenty or thirty furlongs"
--rather more than halfway across. The lake is about seven miles broad
at its widest part. So that in eight or nine hours they had only made
some three and a half miles. By this time, therefore, they must have
been in a state of exhaustion and despondency bordering on despair; and
now at length, having tried them long enough.
he cometh unto them, walking upon the sea--"and draweth nigh unto the
and would have passed by them--but only in the sense of
Ge 18:3, 5; 42:7.
49. But when they saw him walking upon the sea, they supposed it had
been a spirit, and cried out--"for fear"
He would appear to them at first like a dark moving speck upon the
waters; then as a human figure; but in the dark tempestuous sky, and
not dreaming that it could be their Lord, they take it for a spirit.
50. For they all saw him, and were troubled. And immediately he talked
with them, and saith unto them, Be of good cheer: It is I; be not
afraid--There is something in these two little words--given by
Matthew, Mark and John
--"It is I," which from the mouth that spake it and the circumstances
in which it was uttered, passes the power of language to express. Here
were they in the midst of a raging sea, their little bark the sport of
the elements, and with just enough of light to descry an object on the
waters which only aggravated their fears. But Jesus deems it enough to
dispel all apprehension to let them know that He was there. From
other lips that "I am" would have merely meant that the person speaking
was such a one and not another person. That, surely, would have done
little to calm the fears of men expecting every minute, it may be, to
go to the bottom. But spoken by One who at that moment was "treading
upon the waves of the sea," and was about to hush the raging elements
with His word, what was it but the Voice which cried of old in the ears
of Israel, even from the days of Moses, "I AM";
"I, EVEN I, AM HE!" Compare
Joh 18:5, 6; 8:58.
Now, that Word is "made flesh, and dwells among us," uttering itself
from beside us in dear familiar tones--"It is the Voice of my Beloved!"
How far was this apprehended by these frightened disciples? There was
one, we know, in the boat who outstripped all the rest in susceptibility
to such sublime appeals. It was not the deep-toned writer of the Fourth
Gospel, who, though he lived to soar beyond all the apostles, was as yet
too young for prominence, and all unripe. It was Simon Barjonas. Here
follows a very remarkable and instructive episode, recorded by Matthew
Peter Ventures to Walk upon the Sea
And Peter answered Him, and said, Lord, If it be Thou, bid me come
unto Thee on the water--not "let me," but "give me the word of
command"--"command," or "order me to come unto Thee upon the
And He said, Come--Sublime word, issuing from One conscious of
power over the raging element, to bid it serve both Himself and
whomsoever else He pleased!
And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked upon the
to come to Jesus--"It was a bold spirit," says BISHOP
"that could wish it; more bold that could act it--not fearing either
the softness or the roughness of that uncouth passage."
But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid: and beginning
to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me--The wind was as
boisterous before, but Peter "saw" it not, seeing only the power of
Christ, in the lively exercise of faith. Now he "sees" the fury of the
elements, and immediately the power of Christ to bear him up fades
before his view, and this makes him "afraid"--as how could he be
otherwise, without any felt power to keep him up? He then "begins to
sink"; and finally, conscious that his experiment had failed, he casts
himself, in a sort of desperate confidence, upon his "Lord" for
And immediately Jesus stretched forth His hand, and caught him, and
said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou
doubt?--This rebuke was not administered while Peter was sinking, nor till Christ had him by the hand: first reinvigorating
his faith, and then with it enabling him again to walk upon the crested
wave. Useless else had been this loving reproof, which owns the
faith that had ventured on the deep upon the bare word of Christ, but
asks why that distrust which so quickly marred it.
And when they--Jesus and Peter.
were come into the ship, the wind ceased.
51. And he went up unto them into the ship--John
says, "Then they willingly received him into the ship"--or rather, "Then
were they willing to receive Him" (with reference to their previous
terror); but implying also a glad welcome, their first fears now
converted into wonder and delight. "And immediately," adds the beloved
disciple, "they were at the land whither they went," or "were bound."
This additional miracle, for as such it is manifestly related, is
recorded by the fourth Evangelist alone. As the storm was suddenly
calmed, so the little bark--propelled by the secret power of the Lord of
nature now sailing in it--glided through the now unruffled waters, and,
while they were wrapt in wonder at what had happened, not heeding their
rapid motion, was found at port, to their still further surprise.
|"Then are they glad, because at rest
And quiet now they be;
So to the haven He them brings
Which they desired to see."
says, "Then they that were in the ship came [that is, ere they got to
land] and worshipped him, saying, Of a truth Thou art the Son of God."
But our Evangelist is wonderfully striking.
and the wind ceased and they were sore amazed in themselves beyond
measure, and wondered--The Evangelist seems hardly to find language
strong enough to express their astonishment.
52. For they considered not the miracle of the loaves; for their heart
was hardened--What a singular statement! The meaning seems to be that
if they had but "considered [reflected upon] the miracle of the loaves,"
wrought but a few hours before, they would have wondered at nothing which He might do within the whole circle of power and grace.
Incidents on Landing
The details here are given with a rich vividness quite peculiar to this
53. And when they had passed over, they came into the land of
Gennesaret--from which the lake sometimes takes its name, stretching
along its western shore. Capernaum was their landing-place
(Joh 6:24, 25).
and drew to the shore--a nautical phrase, nowhere else used in the
54. And when they were come out of the ship, straightway they knew
him--"immediately they recognized Him"; that is, the people did.
55. and began to carry about in beds those that were sick, where they
heard he was--At this period of our Lord's ministry the popular
enthusiasm in His favor was at its height.
56. and besought him that they might touch if it were but the border of
his garment--having heard, no doubt, of what the woman with the issue
of blood experienced on doing so
and perhaps of other unrecorded cases of the same nature.
and as many as touched him--or "it"--the border of His garment.
were made whole--All this they continued to do and to experience
while our Lord was in that region. The time corresponds to that
when He "walked in Galilee," instead of appearing in Jerusalem at the
passover, "because the Jews," that is, the rulers, "sought to
kill Him"--while the people sought to enthrone Him!