Matthew 15:1-20

Sunday, March 19th, 2017

GOD’S COMMANDMENTS VERSUS

MAN’S TRADITIONS AND

JESUS’ DIAGNOSIS OF MAN’S HEART

INTRODUCTION:

 

The destiny of the King includes the narrative about Jesus (13:54 - 17:27), the meaning and greatness of forgiveness (18:1-35), and the concluding statement, (1) And it came to pass, that when Jesus had finished these sayings, he departed from Galilee, and came into the coasts of Judaea beyond Jordan. (2) And great multitudes followed him; and he healed them there (19:1-2).

 

The narrative about Jesus in chapter 15 includes His comments on God’s commandments and man’s traditions (15:1-9), His diagnosis of man’s heart (15:10-20), His casting out a demon from the Syrophenician woman’s daughter (15:21-28), His healing of many near the Sea of Galilee (15:29-31), and His feeding of the four thousand (15:33-39).

First, we see –

    I.     JESUS’ COMMENTS ON GOD’S COMMANDMENTS AND MAN’S TRADITIONS – 15:1-9

 

We note –

            A.  THE SCRIBES’ AND PHARISEES’ QUESTION FOR JESUS – 15:1-2

 

Matthew 15:1 Then came to Jesus scribes and Pharisees, which were of Jerusalem, saying.

 

Then suggests thereupon.

 

Came to Jesus is come to Jesus. It has been translated as a historical present.

 

Which were of Jerusalem is from Jerusalem and describes both scribes and Pharisees.

 

Scribes were specialists in the law of Moses, experts in the law, or scholars versed in the law.

 

Pharisees were the organized followers of these experts in interpreting the scriptures (i.e. they were the organized followers of the scribes). It was the purpose of the Pharisees to take the pattern of a pious Israelite as established by the scribes and put it into practice as nearly as possible.

 

Saying introduces a question the scribes and Pharisees asked Jesus.

 

Matthew 15:2 Why do thy disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? for they wash not their hands when they eat bread.

 

Why? suggests for what reason?

 

Do thy disciples transgress is do your disciples break or are your disciples breaking.

 

Thy disciples are Jesus’ twelve disciples.

 

The tradition refers to the teachings or the instructions.

 

Of the elders suggests taught by the elders and refers to the ancients. It is referring to ancient teaching which the scribes and Pharisees were following.

 

For introduces the reason for their question: they wash not their hands when they eat bread. This was the tradition of the elders which Jesus’ disciples had broken.

 

They wash not their hands does not refer to the normal hygiene which should be practiced under normal circumstances. It refers instead to an elaborate ritual in which the Pharisee would wash not only his hands but also his forearms.

 

When they eat bread suggests whenever they are eating bread.

 

Bread is used in the general sense of food.

 

We also note –

            B.  JESUS’ QUESTION FOR THE SCRIBES AND PHARISEES – 15:3

 

Matthew 15:3 But he answered and said unto them, Why do ye also transgress the commandment of God by your tradition?

 

But introduces a statement in mild contrast to the question Jesus was asked in verse 2. It might instead merely transition from the question the Pharisees asked in verse 2 to the question Jesus asked in response in the sense of then.

 

He answered and said unto them introduces Jesus’ question to the scribes and Pharisees.

 

What Jesus asked is, Why do ye also transgress the commandment of God by your tradition?

 

Why? is the same word the scribes and Pharisees used in their question to Jesus in verse 2. It suggests for what reason?

 

Also suggests in addition.

 

Do ye . . . transgress is are you transgressing.

 

Ye is you (plural). It is emphatic and refers to the scribes and Pharisees.

 

Transgress is the same term used in verse 2 meaning do you break or are you breaking.

 

The commandment of God contrasts a specific commandment God gave in the law with a Pharisaic tradition.

 

By your tradition is because of your tradition. Any tradition which violates God’s commandment is wrong to observe.

 

Next we note –

            C.  JESUS’ EXPLANATION OF HIS QUESTION – 15:4-9

 

Matthew 15:4 For God commanded, saying, Honour thy father and mother: and, He that curseth father or mother, let him die the death.

 

For introduces an example where keeping an ancient tradition would break God’s commandments.

 

God commanded refers to what God had said in giving the law.

 

Saying introduces two quotations from the Old Testament.

 

Honour (i.e. show high regard for or revere) thy father and mother.

 

He that curseth father or mother suggests the one who speaks evil of (i.e. insults or reviles) father or mother.

 

Let him die the death means he must surely die.

 

Jesus is referring to Exodus 20:12 and 21:17 as well as to Leviticus 20:9 .

 

Exodus 20:12 Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee.

 

Exodus 21:17 And he that curseth his father, or his mother, shall surely be put to death.

 

Leviticus 20:9 For every one that curseth his father or his mother shall be surely put to death: he hath cursed his father or his mother; his blood shall be upon him.

 

Matthew 15:5 But ye say, Whosoever shall say to his father or his mother, It is a gift, by whatsoever thou mightest be profited by me.

 

In contrast to what God had said regarding honoring one’s parents, in verses 5-6 the Pharisees taught that one could be free from the responsibility of helping his parents if he would state that whatever he possesses which could be used to help his parents was a gift he has dedicated to God.

 

But introduces a statement in mild contrast to what God commanded regarding honoring one’s father and mother.

 

Ye is you (plural) and is emphatic. It refers to the scribes and Pharisees.

 

Ye say suggests you are saying.

 

Whosoever shall say to his father or his mother, i.e. whoever says to (his) father or to (his) mother. It is equivalent to saying if someone says to (his) father or to (his) mother or to everyone who says to (his) father or to (his) mother.

 

What someone says is, It is a gift, by whatsoever thou mightest be profited by me. It is whatever you might be benefitted (or helped) from me (is) a gift.

 

Gift is speaking of a sacrificial gift or an offering. Gift implies that whatever one has which could be used to help his father or his mother has been dedicated, devoted, or set aside to God and is, therefore, not available to help either of his parents.

 

Matthew 15:6 And honour not his father or his mother, he shall be free. Thus have ye made the commandment of God of none effect by your tradition.

 

In practice, the tradition of the scribes and Pharisees had rendered God’s commandment useless.

 

And honour not is and he absolutely will not honor (i.e. will not show high regard for or will not revere).

 

Not is the strongest negative possible in the Greek language.

 

Thus is the word ordinarily translated and.

 

Thus have ye made the commandment of God of none effect is, And you made void the commandment of God; and it has been translated in a way which emphasizes the result of its action.

 

By your tradition is because of (or for the sake of) your tradition. Their tradition was more important to them than God’s commandment.

 

Matthew 15:7 Ye hypocrites, well did Esaias prophesy of you, saying.

 

He addresses the scribes and Pharisees as Ye hypocrites or simply hypocrites. They were pretending to be something they were not.

 

Well suggests rightly or correctly.

 

Well did Esaias prophesy of you is Isaiah prophesied correctly concerning you (or about you scribes and Pharisees).

 

Saying introduces what Isaiah prophesied in verses 8 and 9.

 

It is quoted from Isaiah 29:13 , which says,

 

Isaiah 29:13 Wherefore the Lord said, Forasmuch as this people draw near me with their mouth, and with their lips do honour me, but have removed their heart far from me, and their fear toward me is taught by the precept of men.

 

Matthew 15:8 This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me.

 

This people in Isaiah 29:13 refers to the Jews; whereas, Jesus is applying it specifically to the scribes and Pharisees in Matthew 15 .

 

Draweth nigh is draws near, comes near, or approaches.

 

Unto me is simply Me and refers to God.

 

With their mouth implies with their words which come out of their mouths. They talk like they love Me, follow Me, and obey Me.

 

And honoureth me is a second way of stating the same thing.

 

Honoureth suggests reveres or shows high regard for.

 

Me is God.

 

With their lips again implies (they honor Me) with words which come out of their mouths through (their) lips (or which (their) lips speak).

 

But introduces a statement in mild contrast to the first half of verse 8.

 

Their heart speaks of the collective heart of the Jewish people as a whole. It suggests deep within themselves.

 

Is far from me is is distant from Me or is far away from Me, (i.e. their heart is far away from God).

 

Matthew 15:9 But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.

 

But introduces a statement in mild contrast to the scribes’ and Pharisees’ worshiping Jesus with their mouths but not with their hearts.

 

In vain suggests to no end.

 

They do worship me refers in Isaiah to the Jews’ worship of God; whereas, in Matthew Jesus is referring to the scribes’ and Pharisees’ worship of Jesus.

 

They do worship teaching suggests they are worshiping and teaching.

 

For doctrines suggests as doctrines, as teachings, or as instructions.

 

The commandments of men is men’s commandments, where men is the generic term for human beings.

 

They are teaching men’s commandments; but, by contrast, they should be teaching God’s commandments.

We also see –

  II.     JESUS’ DIAGNOSIS OF MAN’S HEART – 15:10-20

 

We note that –

            A.  JESUS TOLD THE MULTITUDE THAT WHAT DEFILES A PERSON IS WHAT COMES OUT OF HIS MOUTH RATHER THAN WHAT GOES INTO HIS MOUTH – 15:10-11

 

Matthew 15:10 And he called the multitude, and said unto them, Hear, and understand.

 

And he called the multitude and said suggests and He called the crowd to Himself or and He summoned the crowd.

 

And said unto them is and He said to them (i.e. and Jesus said to the multitude or to the crowd).

 

What Jesus said is Hear, and understand, which suggests listen and comprehend, be listening and be comprehending, or keep on listening and comprehending.

 

The tense of both hear and understand speaks of ongoing action.

 

What they were to hear and understand is the content of verse 11.

 

Matthew 15:11 Not that which goeth into the mouth defileth a man; but that which cometh out of the mouth, this defileth a man.

 

Not is understood with defileth.

 

That which goeth into the mouth is the thing entering into the mouth and functions as the subject of defileth.

 

Defileth is makes common or makes impure.

 

The man is the generic term for the human being and may refer to a female as well as to a male.

 

The thing going into someone’s mouth does not make him or her ceremonially unclean.

 

But introduces a statement in strong contrast to the first half of this verse.

 

That which cometh out of the mouth is the thing which comes out of the mouth (i.e. what goes out of the mouth or what proceeds out of the mouth).

 

This, which refers specifically to that which cometh out of the mouth, functions as the subject of defileth.

 

It is emphatic and suggests this is what.

 

Defileth is the same term used previously in this verse meaning makes common or makes impure.

 

A man is the man and is again the generic term for the human being and may refer to a female as well as to a male.

 

The thing coming out of someone’s mouth makes him or her ceremonially unclean.

 

We also note that –

            B.  THE DISCIPLES REPORT THAT THE PHARISEES WERE ANGERED BY JESUS’ STATEMENT IN VERSE 11 – 15:12

 

Matthew 15:12 Then came his disciples, and said unto him, Knowest thou that the Pharisees were offended, after they heard this saying?

 

Then came his disciples, and said unto him suggests thereupon approached Jesus’ disciples and asked Him.

 

Knowest thou? is do You know?

 

That the Pharisees were offended, after they heard this saying.

 

The Pharisees refers to the individuals who had asked Jesus why His disciples ate without ceremonially washing their hands.

 

Were offended suggests were angered, were given offense, or were shocked.

 

After they heard this saying suggests when they heard this saying or because they heard this saying.

 

This saying is this word, this statement, or this assertion and refers to what Jesus said in verse 11, Not that which goeth into the mouth defileth a man; but that which cometh out of the mouth, this defileth a man.

 

Next, we note –

            C.  JESUS’ RESPONSE TO HIS DISCIPLES THAT EVERY PLANT NOT PLANTED BY HIS FATHER WOULD BE ROOTED UP – 15:13-14

 

Matthew 15:13 But he answered and said, Every plant, which my heavenly Father hath not planted, shall be rooted up.

 

But introduces a statement in mild contrast to Jesus’ disciples reporting that what Jesus had said had upset the Pharisees.

 

He answered and said suggests Jesus answered and asserted or Jesus answered and declared.

 

Every plant is each plant and allows for no exception.

 

Which my heavenly Father hath not planted describes plant.

 

My heavenly Father is God the Father.

 

Hath not planted is did not plant and has been translated in a way which emphasizes the result of its action. In this context it is referring to the scribes and Pharisees.

 

One is reminded of the tares which Satan planted among the wheat (Matthew 13:24-40 ).

 

Shall be rooted up is shall be uprooted, and its tense and mood indicate that this is something which will definitely happen in the future.

 

Matthew 15:14 Let them alone: they be blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch.

 

Let them alone refers to the scribes and Pharisees and suggests let them be.

 

They be blind leaders of the blind is they are blind guides of blind (ones).

 

And if the blind lead the blind is the condition in a conditional statement.

 

It is simply if blind ones lead blind ones..

 

Lead suggests guide.

 

Both means both the blind leader and the blind follower.

 

Shall fall is will fall or will fall down, and it is predictive of something which will can be expected to happen if blind people lead blind people.

 

Into the ditch is into a pit.

 

In addition, we note –

            D.  PETER’S REQUEST THAT JESUS EXPLAIN HIS STATEMENT IN VERSE 11 TO HIS DISCIPLES – 15:15

 

Matthew 15:15 Then answered Peter and said unto him, Declare unto us this parable.

 

Then transitions to the next thought in the context and introduces a request made by Peter.

 

Peter answered and said suggests Peter answered and requested.

 

Unto him means to Jesus.

 

Declare unto us is explain to us or interpret for us.

 

This parable refers to Jesus’ statement in 15:11, Not that which goeth into the mouth defileth a man; but that which cometh out of the mouth, this defileth a man.

 

Finally, we note –

            E.  JESUS’ EXPLANATION OF HIS STATEMENT IN VERSE 11 – 15:16-20

 

Matthew 15:16 And Jesus said, Are ye also yet without understanding? Jesus then asks if His disciples still lack understanding.

 

And continues the discussion between Jesus and Peter.

 

Inasmuch as what Jesus said introduced two questions, Jesus said may be understood in the sense of Jesus asked.

 

The first question is, Are ye also yet without understanding? The second question follows in the next verse.

 

Are ye? implies are you disciples?

 

Ye is emphatic.

 

Also implies in addition to the scribes and Pharisees.

 

Yet suggests even yet or still.

 

Without understanding suggests lacking understanding.

 

They apparently did not perceive Jesus’ meaning any better than the scribes and Pharisees had done.

 

The answer to Jesus’ question is, Yes, the disciples still did not understand.

 

Matthew 15:17 Do not ye yet understand, that whatsoever entereth in at the mouth goeth into the belly, and is cast out into the draught?

 

In verse 17 seeks to enlighten their understanding by asking a second question.

 

Do ye not yet understand? is, You (disciples) are not yet understanding, are you?, You are not yet comprehending, are you?, or You are not yet perceiving, are you?

 

The implied answer to Jesus’ question is, Yes, they still do not understand that this is what Jesus meant.

 

The content of what Jesus’ disciples were not yet comprehending is that whatsoever entereth in at the mouth goeth into the belly, and is cast out into the draught.

 

That whatsoever entereth in at the mouth is that whatever enters the mouth, all that enters the mouth, or everything that enters the mouth.

 

Goeth into the belly suggests goes into the stomach.

 

And is cast out into the draught is and is cast out into the latrine or and is cast out into the toilet.

 

Jesus’ statement means that what enters a person’s mouth does not defile him because it goes through the natural process of digestion and the waste is eliminated from the body.

 

Matthew 15:18 But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man.

 

But introduces a statement in mild contrast to what happens to the things which enter into someone’s mouth.

 

Those things which proceed out of the mouth is the things proceeding out (i.e. going out or coming out) of the mouth.

 

Come forth from the heart is are coming out of the heart and indicates that the heart is the source of things coming out of the mouth.

 

And they defile is and these things are defiling, are making common, or are making unclean.

 

The man is the generic term for human being and may refer to a female as well as to a male.

 

The reason that these things render a person ceremonially unclean is that they have to be in the person before they can come out of the person. They reveal what is in his heart.

 

Matthew 15:19 For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies.

 

Jesus identifies the sort of things which come out of the heart.

 

For introduces an explanation of why the things coming out someone’s mouth defile him.

 

Out of the heart suggests out from deep within an individual and indicates what he is really like in his person.

 

Proceed is the same word translated come forth from in verse 18 and means are coming out of.

 

Its tense indicates that this is happening continually or customarily.

 

Evil thoughts are evil (or wicked) opinions, reasonings, or designs.

 

Murders are killings, where people’s lives are taken.

 

Adulteries occur when married persons have sexual relations with those to whom they are not married.

 

Fornications are unlawful acts of sexual intercourse including adultery, pre-marital sex, prostitution, homosexuality, and bestiality.

 

Thefts involve taking things which belong to others.

 

False witness suggests false testimonies and implies people who lie when giving testimony.

 

Blasphemies are revilings or slanders. When directed toward God or the things of God, it is typically translated blasphemies; but when directed toward a human being, it is typically translated slanders.

 

Matthew 15:20 These are the things which defile a man: but to eat with unwashen hands defileth not a man.

 

These refers to the evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, and blasphemies mentioned in verse 19.

 

Are denotes a timeless truth, something which is always true under all circumstances.

 

The things which defile a man is the things which are defiling a man (i.e. the things which are making a man common or the things which are making a man unclean).

 

A man is again the generic term for human being and may refer to a female as well as to a male.

 

But introduces a statement in mild contrast to the first half of verse 20.

 

To eat with unwashen hands functions as the subject of defileth.

 

Unwashen hands is unwashed hands.

 

Defileth not is does not defile, does not make common, or does not make unclean.

 

A man is once again the generic term for human being and may refer to a female as well as to a male.

CONCLUSION:

 

What do the things which come out of your mouth indicate about you? Do they indicate that you are a saved person who is living a godly life?

 

Or, do you have to watch your language when the preacher shows up? Do you have to talk differently in church than you do at home, at work, or at school?

 

Do the things that come out of your mouth indicate that you are unsaved or that your heart is not right with God? Listen to the things you say; and ask yourself, What do the things I say tell others about me?

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