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BIBLE STUDY on the Gospel of Matthew
Gospel of Matthew
When Christ was baptized, He was then ready to enter into His earthly ministry. He was sealed for this mission by His Father in Heaven. He is also anointed with the Holy Spirit, as the high priests were anointed with holy oil. Matthew 3:16-17 And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him: 17 And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. (KJV) . . . There was no cloud here. Instead the heavens were opened unto him.
In the Transfiguration, He is sealed for the High Priest. Mark 9:7 And there was a cloud that overshadowed them: and a voice came out of the cloud, saying, This is my beloved Son: hear him. (KJV) . . . "Hear him" goes along with the words of Moses, concerning a Prophet to be raised up by God. Deut. 18:19 And it shall come to pass, that whosoever will not hearken unto my words which he shall speak in my name, I will require it of him. (KJV) The heavenly voice went out of the cloud that overshadowed them when He was transfigured on the mountain. Here is something to consider: The cloud of glory, that led Israel in the wilderness, left after Moses died (Deut.31:14-17); for while godly Moses lived, that cloud was the people's guide in the wilderness; but when Moses died, there was no more pillar of cloud to lead Israel. SO, since that cloud departed at the death of Moses, that great prophet, so too, such a cloud was now present at the sealing of the Greatest Prophet when He was transfigured. Christ Jesus shines with such a terrific brightness, far, far greater than Moses and Elias. When Moses came down from the mountain after being close to God for 40 days, his face shone so brightly the people were afraid to come near him (Ex.34:29-35). Christ Jesus’ Face shone like the sun in His glorification. When we consider the Face of Christ transfigured, shining with such great luster as He talked with Moses and Elias, let us please acknowledge that the brightness of His Gospel is far above the cloudy obscurity of the law and of the prophets. Cloud, divine glory of God: (Ex.24:15-16; Lev.16:2; Num.11:25; 12:5; 1 Ki.8:10; Ps.97:2). Pillar of cloud: (Ex.13:21-22; 33:9-10; Ps.78:14).
This was fulfilled for the apostles in the transfiguration of Jesus. The Transfiguration is that picture of the Son of man coming in His Kingdom. Someone may say, "Can you be sure that the Lord Jesus was Transfigured?" Yes! Simon Peter was one of the apostles who was present at the Transfiguration, and in his second epistle he wrote of that experience: "For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty. For he received from God the Father honour and glory, when there came such a voice to him from the excellent glory, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. And this voice which came from heaven we heard, when we were with him in the holy mount" (2 Pet.1:16-18). How was Jesus' statement fulfilled for the apostles in that day? When the Lord Jesus Christ was glorified on the Mount of Transfiguration with three of His disciples present, this statement was fulfilled. The Transfiguration was a miniature picture of the Kingdom, and Simon Peter confirmed this for us.
The other Gospels give the account of the Transfiguration, with the exception of the Gospel of John. The Transfiguration does not only prove, and set forth the deity of Christ. It also sets forth the humanity of Christ. The Gospel of John emphasizes the deity of Christ and therefore omits the account of the Transfiguration, although the other three Gospels record it.
The Transfiguration of the Lord Jesus Christ is, in my judgment, is not only the proof of His humanity but the hope of humanity. The Man Whom you see glorified there, Transfigured, is the kind of Person that you, my friend, will be someday if you are a child of God. "Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is" (1 Jn:3:2). The glorious prospect of being like Christ Jesus is before every person.
The Lord Jesus Christ was glorified before His death and resurrection, and this is the picture which is given to us here. You will find that the Gospel of Luke presents details which neither Matthew nor Mark include, because Dr. Luke is the one who sets forth the perfect humanity of Jesus.
As I said at the end of chapter 16, I think that verse belongs here, because it explains what our Lord meant when He made this statement: Matthew 16:28 Verily I say unto you, There be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom. (KJV)
The Transfiguration (Matthew 16:28-17:13)
Matthew 17:1 And after six days Jesus taketh Peter, James, and John his brother, and bringeth them up into an high mountain apart, (KJV)
And after six days . . . it must have been this length of time since Christ's conversation with His aposlles at Caesarea Philippi, Peter's confession of Him, and the rebuking that He gave Peter upon his saying that He would suffer and die, and Christ's resentment of it, and after He had spoken about His apostles taking up their cross, and following Him, and of men losing and finding their lives; and after the promise, or prophecy, that He had given out, that some then present should not die, until He came into His Kingdom. Mark 9:2 says six days, but Luke 9:29 says about eight days.
Jesus taketh Peter, James, and John his brother. . . the Lord Jesus took Peter with Him here, even though he had recently offended his Master. It seems Christ did not keep the offence in mind, but freely forgave him, and still loved him dearly. This James was not James, the brother of our Lord, but the Son of Zebedee; as appears from John being his brother (Mat.4:21), who was the beloved disciple. It seems that these three were His favorite disciples, and were at several other times admitted to be with Him, when the others were not. Such a number was taken here, for it was proper and sufficient to bear witness of the truth of the following account of Christ's Transfiguration. Peter, James and John: (Mat.10:2; 17:1; 26:37; ; Mk.5:37; 9:2; 13:3; 14:33; Lk.6:14; 8:51; 9;28).
And bringeth them up into an high mountain apart . . . Luke says, to pray; as He often did in such places. The Lord takes the three apostles, apart from the others. It is commonly supposed that this was Mount Tabor, a high mountain in Galilee. The name of that mountain is not mentioned in the New Testament.
Matthew 17:2 And was transfigured before them: and his face did shine as the sun, and his raiment was white as the light. (KJV)
And was transfigured before them . . . the Lord Jesus was Transfigured before Peter, James, and John. His Body was not changed, nor the shape altered, it only received a more glorious form . . . that while before He appeared in the form of a lowly Servant, now He appeared in the form and majesty of God. There was a brilliant and divine glory, revealing His deity in a visible manner through His Flesh:
And his face did shine as the sun . . .
it had still the same appearance of an human face, but had such a dazzling glory upon it, as equalled the sun shining in its full strength:
And his raiment was white as the light . . . He did not remove His clothes nor was the nature and substance of them changed . . . but there were such brilliant rays of glory darting through His flesh, and through His clothing, that made them as bright and shining as the light of the noon day sun. Mark 9:3 And his raiment became shining, exceeding white as snow; so as no fuller on earth can white them. (KJV) . . . Newly fallen snow has an abnormal whiteness in it, and is here expressing the glittering brightness of Christ's raiment. The fuller is someone that whitens wool or clothing. The sense here is, that there is no fuller, nor ever was, or ever will be upon Earth, that can make clothing as white as Christ's was when He was Transfigured. http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/articles/6421-fuller
Matthew 17:3 And, behold, there appeared unto them Moses and Elias talking with him. (KJV)
And behold, there appeared unto them Moses and Elias . . . Moses and Elijah appeared before the apostles. Moses the giver of the law, and Elijah was one of the main prophets. Moses had been dead many, many years, and Elijah had been caught up to Heaven in a chariot of fire (2 Ki.2:11), about nine hundred years before this. Now they came, speaking with the Lord Jesus. Luke says, they appeared "in glory" (Lk.9:31), most likely meaning in glorious bodies, with brilliance upon their bodies, similar to Jesus, although inferior to the glorious Body of Christ, now Transfigured. They no doubt appeared in their own bodies. Elijah or Elias, was carried body and soul to Heaven. He did not die but I feel was changed; and has ever since remained in a glorious body, in which he now appeared. Moses did die and was buried by the Lord, and no man ever knew the place of his sepulcher (Deut.34:6). There was a dispute about his body, between Michael and the devil (Jude 1:9). I think it is possible that God quickly after Moses’ death, raised and restored to him his body. At least that is what it seems in this Passage. There are many places in the Bible that I simply do not have answers to. One day, when I sit at Jesus’ Feet, I will plague Him with questions.
Talking with him . . . what Moses and Elias were talking with our Lord about, is told to us by Luke. Luke 9:31 Who appeared in glory, and spake of his decease which he should accomplish at Jerusalem. (KJV)
Matthew 17:4 Then answered Peter, and said unto Jesus, Lord, it is good for us to be here: if thou wilt, let us make here three tabernacles; one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias. (KJV)
Then answered Peter and said unto Jesus . . . Luke 9:32 But Peter and they that were with him were heavy with sleep: and when they were awake, they saw his glory, and the two men that stood with him.(KJV) . . . for it is possible that it was night when Christ was Transfigured, and they were tired and fell asleep on the mount, just as they did later in the garden with Him. When they awoke, either by the talk of the men with Christ, or by the rays of brightness and glory, which darted from them, and especially from Christ, to their great surprise; they saw the glory that was upon Him, and observed the two men that were with him, who appeared also in glorious forms. It seems that the apostles knew it was Moses and Elias, either by revelation, or from hearing what they said. Just as the two prophets were leaving Christ, Peter addresses himself to Christ and says,
Lord, it is good for us to be here . . . in this mountain, with You and these great men. They had had much misery and distress in the valley, and more would come. It is better to be here, than to go to Jerusalem, and there suffer and die. Peter still had the horror of this on his mind.
If thou wilt, let us make here three tabernacles . . . Simon Peter could not resist an opportunity to make a speech. Every occasion was favorable for him. He generally got to his feet to say something, and usually it was to say the wrong thing . . . until the Day of Pentecost. Here it is the wrong thing; he should have kept quiet. God Himself rebukes Peter, because he was attempting to place Moses and Elijah on the same plane with the Lord Jesus. Luke offers the explanation for this indiscretion of Peter's by stating: Luke 9:33 And it came to pass, as they departed from him, Peter said unto Jesus, Master, it is good for us to be here: and let us make three tabernacles; one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias: not knowing what he said. (KJV) . . . Have you ever talked without knowing what you are saying! Peter was rebuked. He should have kept still.
One for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias . . . "not knowing what he said"; and Mark, "for he wist not what to say" (Mk.9:6). One represents him with the joy and surprise, not himself; and the other, under the awe and dread of such majesty, at the utmost loss what to say.
Matthew 17:5 While he yet spake, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them: and behold a voice out of the cloud, which said, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him. (KJV)
While he yet spake . . . while Peter was speaking to Christ, before an answer could be given by him, something else happens! A full answer is given to him by a Voice from the Father; directing him and his fellow apostles, to concentrate on Jesus alone, NOT on Moses and Elias.
And behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them . . . meaning Jesus, Moses, and Elias. Moses and Elijah were seen no more, for the cloud covered them, like unto the cloud of glory that covered the Israelites in the wilderness; which, as it ceased at the death of Moses, the first prophet; a similar cloud appeared at the declaration of Christ, as the Greater Prophet. It seems that the apostles at its first appearance were not under the cloud, but were overshadowed by it; for Luke adds, "and they feared as they entered into the cloud". There was such magnificence and glory in it, that it struck them with awe and fear, as they gradually went under it. This cloud, which is said to be a "bright" one, was a symbol of Almighty God’s Divine Presence, and a token of the love, grace and favor of God; and expresses the brightness and clearness of the Gospel dispensation, different from the obscurity of the legal one, signified by the thick, dark, and black cloud, God descended in on Mount Sinai, when he gave the law (Deut.5:22).
And behold, a voice out of the cloud . . . the word "behold" is prefixed to both the cloud and to the Voice out of it, which were both wonderful and surprising; and which Voice came from Heaven, from the excellent glory of God the Father in Heaven.
This is my beloved Son . . . Jesus was NOT just a mortal man like Moses, Elias, and the rest of the prophets. Although as Mediator, and considered in this office capacity, He was a Servant; but in this Passage, He is considered in His personal character and relationship to the Father, as a Divine Person, Who was the only begotten Son of God: (Jn.3:16), NOT by Creation, as the angels and men which are called the sons of God, NOT by adoption, as saints are; or because of His miraculous incarnation, and resurrection from the dead; for indeed, He was here declared to be the Son of God by His Father in Heaven, which He WAS before the manifestation of His incarnation (Jn.1:1-3). Jesus’ natural relationship to God, His Father, was the eternal, essential, and only begotten Son of God, in a way that NO created being is. Since He is the dearly beloved of God His Father, being His image and the brightness of His glory (Heb.1:3); of the same nature and perfections with Him, and equal to Him (Jn.10:30). So it is that He always was, and always will be, the Father’s beloved Son. Adoption, spiritual: (Jn.1:12-13; 3:3-8; Rom.8:15; 9:4,8; 2 Cor.6:18; Gal.3:26; 4:5-6; 2 Cor.6:18; Eph.1:5; 2:19; Heb.2:13; 8:10; 1 Jn.3:1).
In whom I am well pleased . . . Mark and Luke do not have this clause, but Peter, who was present, and heard the words spoken, speaks of it. 2 Peter 1:17 For he received from God the Father honour and glory, when there came such a voice to him from the excellent glory, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. (KJV) The Father was well pleased with His Son’s righteousness, whereby the law was magnified, and made honorable; and with the sacrifice He was about to offer up, which would be of a sweet smelling savour to Him (Eph.5:2). God’s justice was entirely satisfied with it; and with all that His Son did.
Hear ye him . . . this clause is like the very words which Moses delivered, when he spoke of the Messiah, the Great Prophet like unto himself, that should be raised up among the Jews; saying, "unto him ye shall hearken" (Deut.18:15). "Hear ye him" so very clearly points
to Christ, as being this Prophet, who is to be heard. It is Jesus, and Jesus alone, NOT Moses, but Jesus, the Prophet Moses prophesied of . . . NOT Elias, or any of the other prophets, but one greater than them all put together! They were to hear and believe Jesus’ prophecies, concerning His sufferings, death and resurrection, recently delivered by him. They were to listen to and embrace His doctrines, as coming from directly from God. This is God the Father's testimony of Jesus, the Son. Jesus is the final authority in matters of revelation. What Moses, Elijah and the prophets had to say was great, but what Jesus says is greater! Hebrews 1:1-2 God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets,  Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds; (KJV) The Son is the One who came to Earth as the final revelation of God to man.
Matthew 17:6 And when the disciples heard it, they fell on their face, and were sore afraid. (KJV)
And when the disciples heard it . . . the voice out of the cloud, and which they knew came from God, because it was uttered with so much majesty.
They fell on their face . . . NOT so much out of reverence, or for adoration, but as persons struck with shock and fear, and were as half dead. They fell with their faces flat on the ground, not being able to stand before God, to behold His majesty, and hear His voice.
And were sore afraid . . . they were filled with fear; and when awaking out of their sleep (coma), they saw the astounding glory of Christ Jesus, and of the two men that were with Him. They knew not what to think, or say . . . not even talkative Peter, and they remained in this astonishing position when they entered into the cloud, and it seems more so, upon hearing the voice of God Himself, even though it was a voice of love, grace and mercy (Deut.5:24-26). The magnificence and majesty of Almighty God is absolutely awe inspiring. But yet they had enough sense to know what was said; for they clearly heard the words, rightly understood, and faithfully related them, and which Peter perfectly remembered, and recorded many years after this. 2 Peter 1:17 For he received from God the Father honour and glory, when there came such a voice to him from the excellent glory, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. (KJV) Fell at His Feet as dead: (Eze.1:28; Dan.8:18; Dan.chapter 10; Hab.3:16; Rev.1:17).
Matthew 17:7 And Jesus came and touched them, and said, Arise, and be not afraid. (KJV)
And Jesus came and touched them . . . The apostles were a little distance from Christ, but He detecting the fear and shock they were in, came to their assistance. He did not disregard the glory with which He was covered, but acted the part of a Mediator between God and them. I would say that He reaches to raise them to their feet, whom the absolute majesty of God's voice had cast down. Some interpret this: "he came and brought them to themselves"; who had fainted at the awfulness of the Voice they had heard.
And said, Arise, and be not afraid . . . this is not the voice of an angry God, but a God of love and compassion. He tells them to arise, stand on your feet, be of good courage, for no hurt will come to you.
Matthew 17:8 And when they had lifted up their eyes, they saw no man, save Jesus only. (KJV)
And when they had lift up their eyes. . . when they finally opened their eyes, and "looked round about" (Mk.9:8), Moses, Elias and the bright cloud were gone.
They saw no man; save Jesus only . . . both the godly prophets were gone: signifying, that although the law and the prophets were until this time, they were now ended and completed, and the Mosaic economy was to be no more; since these men appeared no more after this, nor will they till the Second Coming of Christ. Luke states: that "when the voice was past, Jesus was found alone" (Lk.9:36); which was so ordered, that it might be very clear that this Voice concerned only Christ, and not either Moses or Elias.
Matthew 17:9 And as they came down from the mountain, Jesus charged them, saying, Tell the vision to no man, until the Son of man be risen again from the dead. (KJV)
And as they came down from the mountain . . . where all these things had taken place.
Jesus charged them, saying, tell the vision to no man . . . Mark says: "what things they had seen" (Mk.9:9), such as Moses and Elias and the bright cloud that overshadowed them, and the awesome event where Christ Jesus Transfigured before them, in such a amazing and glorious manner. Christ strictly ordered Peter, James and John, to speak of this to no man, not even their fellow apostles; who either would be apt to not believe them, because of the greatness of this, as Thomas did the resurrection of Christ, or in case they would be troubled and displeased, that they were not admitted to see it, and especially not to the multitude, or to any other person,
Until the son of man be risen again from the dead . . . meaning Himself and His resurrection, when proof would be given about His mission, authority and glory, which would make this account much more easy to be believed.
Matthew 17:10 And his disciples asked him, saying, Why then say the scribes that Elias must first come? (KJV)
And his disciples asked him, saying . . . Jesus is still with Peter, James, and John, before they rejoined the others.
Why then say the Scribes, that Elias must first come? . . . why do the scribes say Elijah must come before the Messiah comes? Since these three had seen that Elijah returned to Heaven, knowing the tradition of the elders, and the prophecy on which the tradition was founded, Malachi 4:5-6 Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord:  And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse. (KJV) . . . It was natural for them to ask what the meaning of the tradition was, and the intention of the prophecy.
Matthew 17:11 And Jesus answered and said unto them, Elias truly shall first come, and restore all things. (KJV)
And Jesus answered and said unto them, Elias truly shall first come . . . He did not mean by this that Elijah was yet to come for He soon tells them that he had come. He meant to affirm that it was a true doctrine which the scribes taught, that Elijah would appear before the Coming of the Messiah.
And restore all things . . . to restore, means to put into the former situation (Mat.12:13). So it means, to heal, to correct, to put in proper order. Here it means that Elijah would put things in a proper state; be the instrument of reforming the people; of restoring them, in some measure, to proper notions about the Messiah, and preparing them for His Coming. Before the coming of John the Baptist, their views were wrong, their expectations worldly, and their conduct extremely depraved. He corrected many of their notions about the Messiah (Mat.3:1), and was the instrument of an extensive reformation; and thus restored them, to some degree, to correct ideas of their own economy and of the Messiah, and to prepare them for His Coming.
Matthew 17:12 But I say unto you, That Elias is come already, and they knew him not, but have done unto him whatsoever they listed. (KJV)
But I say unto you . . . this is a way of speaking used by Christ, when He opposes and contradicts any of the doctrines of the Scribes and Pharisees. But I say unto you: (Mat.5:22,28,32,34.39,44; 11:22,24; 12:6,36; 17:12; 26:29; Mk.9:13; Lk.6:27; 10:12; Jn.6:36).
That Elias is come already . . . the person that was meant by, and prophesied of, under the name of Elias. Christ is NOT referring to the late appearance of Elias on the mount, but to the coming of a certain person some time ago; who came in the power and spirit of Elias, and was the forerunner of Him, the Messiah.
And they knew him not . . . as was said of him, "and they knew him not"; that is, the Scribes and Pharisees, who believed that Elias would come before the Messiah; and yet when he who was designed by him was come, when He came, they knew him not. They did not know him to be Elias; they knew him under the name of John the Baptist, and seemed pleased with his ministry for a while, but afterwards rejected his doctrine and baptism.
But have done unto him whatsoever they listed . . . they did not believe what he said, nor repent when he preached to them. They rejected the counsel of God he declared, were not baptized by him. They treated him with indignity and contempt, charging him with having a devil (Mat.11:18), and were pleased when Herod put him to death.
Likewise shall also the Son of man suffer of them . . . Christ takes this opportunity to confirm what He had said in the preceding chapter, concerning His sufferings and death. Jesus’ meaning is, that as sure as John the Baptist had suffered indignities, and death itself, so too would the Son of Man suffer like things; if not from the same individual persons, yet from that same generation of men.
Matthew 17:13 Then the disciples understood that he spake unto them of John the Baptist. (KJV)
Then the disciples understood . . . by His saying that Elias was come, and by the account He gave of his ill usage, it was clear to them,
That he spake unto them of John the Baptist . . . and that John the Baptist was the Elias that was to come, and that he did come. Jesus tells them a second time that Malachi used the name Elijah symbolically to represent John the Baptist (verses 12-13; Mat.11:14). Since He that was intended by Elias was come, and had done His work and office, it was confirming the Truth of His Messiahship.
The Demon-Possessed Boy (Matthew 17:14-21)
Next, we have a Kingdom of Heaven situation, as it is in the world today. Where does the church fit into this? Consider the other apostles, at the foot of the mountain, who were not with the Lord on the Mount of Transfiguration. They are in trouble.
Matthew 17:14 And when they were come to the multitude, there came to him a certain man, kneeling down to him, and saying, (KJV)
And when they were come to the multitude . . . which was the next day (Lk.9:37), when Christ and His three apostles, Peter, James, and John came down from the mount to the other nine. There had gathered a multitude of the people during their stay on the mountain.
There came to him a certain man . . . who was "one of the multitude" (Mk.9:17); and as Luke, "a man of the company" (Lk.9:38), who had come to the nine apostles on the behalf of his son for help, with no success, and was waiting until Christ came back from the mountain. When the man saw him, he went up to Him.
Kneeling down to him . . . in the manner of petitioning, showng Him respect, reverence and worship, thus showing his great respect of Him, and regard for Him.
And saying . . . the following words:
Matthew 17:15 Lord, have mercy on my son: for he is lunatick, and sore vexed: for ofttimes he falleth into the fire, and oft into the water. (KJV)
Lord, have mercy on my son . . . the man addressed Jesus with great honor and respect, not only by kneeling before Him, but by his words. He craves compassion, mercy and pity, because his problem was surely a most miserable one. His eagerness and earnestness he hoped might be excused, since it was for his own child. Luke adds "for he is mine only child" (Lk.9:38), therefore his affection for him was very strong, and he greatly concerned for the child’s grievous affliction, desperately desiring help.
For he is lunatic . . . not a mad man, but troubled with the epileptic disease; upon which, as on madness or lunacy, the changes and full of the moon have an influence.
And sore vexed . . . some versions read: "and sore vexed at the beginning of full moons"; at which times, he had very grievous and frequent fits of his disorder.
For ofttimes he falleth into the fire, and oft into the water . . . it seems this was "epilepsy" or "falling sickness" he was afflicted with (Mat.4:24; Mk.9:17-18); which, whenever it seized him, whether by the fireside, or by a river or brook, or any place of water, or in any other dangerous situation, he fell into it, not being able to help himself, or avoid any danger to which he was exposed.
Matthew 17:16 And I brought him to thy disciples, and they could not cure him. (KJV)
And I brought him to thy disciples . . . to the nine, while Christ was with the other three on the mountain. There seems to be no doubt that he wanted to bring him to Christ Jesus first; but since He was gone, he begged assistance from His apostles, thinking their power would heal him. They tried, but did not succeed. I often wonder if they all tried or just one, who was chosen by the nine.
And they could not cure him . . . this the man said, partly to show the malignity and stubbornness of the disease, and partly to accuse the disciples of weakness.
Matthew 17:17 Then Jesus answered and said, O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you? how long shall I suffer you? bring him hither to me. (KJV)
Then Jesus answered and said . . . not to the disciples, but to the father of the child (Mk.9:19), and those that were with him, and too, the Scribes that were present, disputing with the disciples, rebuking them with their weakness, and triumphing over them.
O faithless and perverse generation . . . (Deut.32:5). Jesus had to be speaking to the man and the multitude, because this way of speaking was never used of the disciples by Jesus.
How long shall I be with you? how long shall I suffer you? . . . reprimanding them them with the length of time that He had been with them, in which so many wonderful works had been done among them, and yet they remained unbelieving and impossible. I think He was saying that His patience and longsuffering would not always continue; and that in a short time, He would be gone from them, and they would no longer enjoy the benefit of His ministry and miracles, but wrath should come upon them to the fullest.
Bring him hither to me . . . meaning the lunatic child. These words also are directed, NOT to the apostles, but to the father of the child. “Bring thy son hither" (Lk.9:41).
Matthew 17:18 And Jesus rebuked the devil; and he departed out of him: and the child was cured from that very hour. (KJV)
And Jesus rebuked the devil . . . the Lord rebuked the man and the multitude, and then He rebuked the devil. This is probably the worst case of demon possession that our Lord dealt with. Mark and Luke specifically say that He "rebuked the foul", or "unclean spirit". Even though it was a natural disease which was present with this child, yet he was also afflicted in a preternatural way, by the means of Satan.
And he departed out of him . . . at the command of Christ, the foul or unclean demonic spirit, whose power he could not endure, was compelled to obey and leave the child.
And the child was cured from that very hour . . . immediately, and stayed well and in good health. The word rendered lunatic in (Mat.17:15) is in several versions, translated "demoniac" or one possessed with a devil. It is common with the Jews, to ascribe diseases to evil spirits.
Matthew 17:19 Then came the disciples to Jesus apart, and said, Why could not we cast him out? (KJV)
Then came the disciples to Jesus apart . . . Mark says, "when he was come into the house", and was by Himself, the nine apostles came to Him, to ask Him about this matter.
And said unto him, why could not we cast him out? . . . some versions read: "why could not we heal him?" The child could only be cured by casting out the demon. The apostles feared that they had lost the power which Christ had bestowed upon them, and wanted to know what they had done, which had deprived them of it. What was the cause of this unsuccessful attempt, when they had so often triumphed over the unclean spirits, that were subject to them.
Matthew 17:20 And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you. (KJV)
And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief . . . some versions read, "because of your little faith". They were not altogether destitute of faith, but their faith was very low, and their unbelief great. Christ says, not because of the unbelief of the parent of the child, and those that were with him, though that also was a reason; but because of the apostles’ unbelief, being willing to convince them of their unbelief, as He had done the father of the child, who had confessed it, and desired it might be removed from him: but lest they should think they had lost their power of doing miracles, Christ adds;
For verily I say unto you, if ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed . . . see: Matthew 13:31. Mustard seed was a very small seed, the least of all seeds, and is very often used proverbially by the Jews, to signify anything of a small quantity or weight, and is sometimes used of faith, as it is here. This has no reference to the quality of mustard seed, as for it being hot and bitter; which has led some interpreters wrong, but to compare faith to it . . . to work a miracle it was necessary not only to have a miraculous endowment, but also to exercise faith. This is declared in the Saviour's answer, and it had already been indicated to the disciples at the time of Peter's attempt to walk on the water (Mat.14:31). The faith in question here, was the belief that what was commanded would be done; faith in the power with which they were endued, and belief that what they commanded would happen. When they spoke with doubt to the demon, he had power to resist them.
Ye shall say to this mountain . . . maybe He was pointing to the mountain from which He had recently came down from.
Remove hence to yonder place, and it shall remove . . . here again Christ Jesus lets us see the power of faith, and the weakness of unbelief. There is nothing which may lead to the glory of God, or to our good, but may be obtained from God by a firm exercise of faith in Him. I think that He speaks here of any true faith. We must have the power and promise of God for its object. The promise of working miracles by a Divine power committed to them, was a particular promise made to the apostles (Mat.10:1-42). I take our Saviour's words to extend a little further, as to miraculous operations, that only applied to them. There is NOTHING which God has promised to give or bestow on anyone, that faith will obtain from Him, IF attended by fervent prayer and fasting.
And nothing shall be impossible to you . . . nothing that is, according to the will of God for you. It was God's will that this boy be delivered from demon possession. Why couldn't the disciples deliver him? Because they didn't have the faith.
Matthew 17:21 Howbeit this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting. (KJV)
Howbeit, this kind goeth not out . . . some versions read: "is not cast out". This is to be understood of that kind of devils, like the one which was cast out of the lunatic, and was the worst kind; fierce and obstinate, and having had possession for quite a while, was not easily ejected. There is a difference in evil spirits; some are worse and more wicked than others, which is quite clear (Mat.12:45). The dispossession of unclean spirits do NOT go out voluntarily, but by force.
But by fasting and prayer . . . the exercise of a miraculous faith, is uttered in solemn prayer to God, joined with determined fasting. It seems that Christ not only suggests that faith was greatly wanting in His apostles, for which reason they could not cast out the devil, and heal the lunatic; but they had been lacking in prayer to God as well, to assist them in the exercise of their miraculous gifts. While Jesus and the other three apostles were on the mount, they had been feasting and indulging themselves with the people, and so were not in a very acceptable disposition of mind, for such an unusual and extraordinary service, for which our Lord rebukes them. This entire verse is eliminated in some versions.
Again Jesus Announces His Death And Resurrection (Matthew 17:22-23)
For the third time the Lord reminds His apostles that He would die and be raised again from the dead.
Matthew 17:22 And while they abode in Galilee, Jesus said unto them, The Son of man shall be betrayed into the hands of men: (KJV)
And while they abode in Galilee . . . “when they departed from hence” (Mk.9:30). The time of His death drew nigh, He instills it again to His apostles a third time, that they might be prepared for it, and not be discouraged and terrified by it.
Jesus said unto them, The son of man shall be betrayed into the hands of men . . . some versions read: "sinful men", as the angels say in Lk.24:7; and this may mean the Gentiles, who, by the Jews, were considered very wicked men, and called sinners of the Gentiles. Now Christ tells them, that the Son of Man, meaning Himself, would be betrayed by the Jews, into the hands of the Gentiles . . . and with the Jews, nothing was considered a more foul action, or a worse crime. They believed: “It is forbidden to betray an Israelite into the hands of the Gentiles, whether in his body or in his substance; and though he may be a wicked man, and a ringleader in sin, and though he may have oppressed and afflicted him; and everyone that betrays an Israelite into the hands of the Gentiles, whether in his body, or in his substance, has no part in the world to come.'' It seems that the Jews forgot this rule, when they delivered Christ to Pontius Pilate.
Matthew 17:23 And they shall kill him, and the third day he shall be raised again. And they were exceeding sorry. (KJV)
And they shall kill him . . . put him to death on the cross (Lk.24:7).
And the third day he shall be raised again . . . He said this to comfort them. And notice: when Christ speaks of His rising again, He states the exact time, the third day, on which He should rise, according to the types and prophecies of the Old Testament. Resurrection prophecies of Christ: (Ps.16:10; 30:3; 118:17-18; Isa.26:19; 53:3-5,10; Jonah 1:17; Mat.12:40; Lk.11:30).
And they were exceeding sorry . . . that He would be betrayed into the hands of the Gentiles. They feared that He would die at all; let alone the cruel and disgraceful death, as that of the cross (Gal.3:13). They seemed to have overlooked the fact of His rising again from the dead; which might have given them comfort. All the disciples can do is to feel sorry.
Tax Money From The Fish's Mouth (Matthew 17:24-27)
Matthew 17:24 And when they were come to Capernaum, they that received tribute money came to Peter, and said, Doth not your master pay tribute? (KJV)
And when they were come to Capernaum . . . it is called Christ's own city (Mat.9:1), where He dwelt some time (Mat.4:13), and where Peter had a house (Mat.8:14).
They that received tribute money . . . "tribute" (Ex.38:26) was the assessment collected annually for the support of the temple. The receivers of this money . . .
Came to Peter . . . not wanting to go to Christ Himself; but knowing Peter was forward and active among His apostles, they came to him; or rather, and too maybe because he had a house in this city, where Christ might be.
And said, doth not your master pay tribute? . . . tribute was voluntary; and so they asked him whether he was in the habit of paying taxes for the support of the temple. Peter’s reply was that it was his custom to pay all the usual taxes of the nation.
Matthew 17:25 He saith, Yes. And when he was come into the house, Jesus prevented him, saying, What thinkest thou, Simon? of whom do the kings of the earth take custom or tribute? of their own children, or of strangers? (KJV)
He saith, yes . . . no hesitation whatsoever, for He had done it before.
And when he was come into the house . . . meaning when Peter had come into his own house, or the house where Christ was, in order to talk to Him about the tribute. When the collectors had been speaking of to Peter, he seems to have been alone, Christ was not with him.
Jesus prevented him, saying . . . meaning Jesus started speaking before Peter had a chance to say anything. This implies, that although Jesus was not present with Peter when he gave the answer, yet Jesus KNEW what he had said. So before Peter could open his mouth, Jesus puts this question to him. . .
What thinkest thou, Simon? . . . the Lord Jesus wants to know what Peter thinks about the tribute.
Of whom do the kings of the earth take custom or tribute? of their own children, or of strangers . . . Jesus used this situation, however, to emphasize His Kingly role. Just as kings pay no taxes and collect none from their family, Jesus, the King, owed no taxes. But Jesus supplied the tax payment for both Himself and Peter rather than offend those who did not understand His Kingship. Of whom do the kings of the earth take custom? Not their own children, but from subjects of the kingdom.
Matthew 17:26 Peter saith unto him, Of strangers. Jesus saith unto him, Then are the children free. (KJV)
Peter saith unto him, Of strangers . . . not meaning foreigners from different lands, but their own native subjects, called strangers, in distinction from their domestics, their children, and those of their own family.
Jesus saith unto him, Then are the children free . . . from paying custom, tribute, and taxes, and leaves Peter to make the application. Since Christ Jesus was the Son of the King of Kings, for the support of whose worship and service that money was collected; and was also the Lord and Proprietor of the temple, and greater than that, He would be excused the payment of tribute.
Matthew 17:27 Notwithstanding, lest we should offend them, go thou to the sea, and cast an hook, and take up the fish that first cometh up; and when thou hast opened his mouth, thou shalt find a piece of money: that take, and give unto them for me and thee. (KJV)
Notwithstanding, lest we should offend them . . . although Christ could have maintained His right of exemption from payment, by good and clear reasons, He chose to forego it, lest any would be offended with Him, and consider Him as a transgressor of the law; and Someone who had no regard for the Temple, and so be prejudiced against Him, and His doctrines. My friend, His doctrines teach us to be very careful to give NO offence, to Jew or Gentile, or the church of God. 1 Cor 10:32 Give none offence, neither to the Jews, nor to the Gentiles, nor to the church of God: (KJV) . . . There will be times when this will be to our own disadvantage, but when the honor and significance of Almighty God lies at stake, we must do what is right or pay the penalty one day.
Go thou to the sea . . . although the Lord Jesus supplied the tribute money, Peter had to go and get it. Ultimately all that we have comes to us from God's supply, but He may want us to be active and obedient in the process of obtaining it.
And cast an hook, and take up the fish that first cometh up, and when thou hast opened his mouth, thou shalt find a piece of money . . . this was a marvelous instance of the omniscience of Christ, who knew there was in just the right fish, a piece of money, that exactly answered the present amount due. The FIRST fish that would come to Peter's hook, would have the exact amount of money he needed. My dear friend, Jesus IS God! NO one but God could predict something like this!
And take, and give unto them for me and thee . . . a half shekel was expected of Peter, as well as of Christ, and he did not have the money to pay it. Jesus knew this, and so provides for both. But why didn’t Christ pay for the other disciples, as well as for Himself and Peter? Possibly because just Christ Jesus and Peter were considered inhabitants of this city, so that the rest were not called upon here, but in their respective cities. Jesus IS God!!!
Gospel of Matthew
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