Matthew 8


Great multitudes follow Christ, 1.

He heals a leper, 2-4.

Heals the centurion's servant, 5-13.

Heals Peter's wife's mother, 14, 15;

and several other diseased persons, 16, 17.

Departs from that place, 18.

Two persons offer to be his disciples, 19-22.

He and his disciples are overtaken with a tempest, which he

miraculously stills, 23-27.

He cures demoniacs, and the demons which went out enter into

a herd of swine, which, rushing into the sea, perish, 28-32.

The swine-herds announce the miracle to the Gergesenes, who

request Christ to depart from their country, 33, 34.


Verse 1. From the mountain] That mountain on which he had

delivered the preceding inimitable sermon.

Great multitudes followed him.] Having been deeply impressed

with the glorious doctrines which they had just heard.

Verse 2. And, behold, there came a leper] The leprosy λεπρα,

from λεπις, a scale, was an inveterate cutaneous disease,

appearing in dry, thin, white scurfy scales or scabs, either on

the whole body, or on some part of it, usually attended with

violent itching, and often with great pain. The eastern leprosy

was a distemper of the most loathsome kind, highly contagious, so

as to infect garments, (Le 13:47, &c.,) and houses, (Le 14:34,

&c.,) and was deemed incurable by any human means. Among the

Jews, GOD alone was applied to for its removal; and the cure was

ever attributed to his sovereign power.

The various symptoms of this dreadful disorder, which was a

striking emblem of sin, may be seen in Lev. 13:, 14:, where also

may be read the legal ordinances concerning it; which, as on the

one hand, they set forth how odious sin is to God, so, on the

other, they represent the cleansing of our pollutions by the

sacrifice and resurrection of Christ, by the sprinkling and

application of his blood, and by the sanctifying and healing

influences of the Holy Spirit.

The Greek name λεπρα, seems to have been given to this

distemper, on account of the thin, white SCALES (λεπιδες) with

which the bodies of the leprous were sometimes so covered as to

give them the appearance of snow, Ex 4:6; Nu 12:10; 2Ki 5:27.

Herodotus, lib. 1, mentions this disorder as existing, in his

time, among the Persians. He calls it λευκην, the white scab;

and says, that those who were affected with it were prohibited

from mingling with the other citizens; and so dreadful was this

malady esteemed among them that they considered it a punishment

on the person, from their great god, the sun, for some evil

committed against him. Dr. Mead mentions a remarkable case of

this kind which came under his own observation. "A countryman

whose whole body was so miserably seized with it that his skin was

shining as covered with flakes of snow, and as the furfuraceous or

bran-like scales were daily rubbed off, the flesh appeared quick

or raw underneath." See the doctor's Medica Sacra, chap. 2. It

was probably on account of its tendency to produce this disorder,

in that warm climate, that God forbade the use of swine's flesh

to the Jews. Feeding on this crude aliment, in union with the

intemperate use of ardent spirits, is, in all likelihood, the

grand cause of the scurvy, which is so common in the British

nations, and which would probably assume the form and virulence of

a leprosy, were our climate as hot as that of Judea.

See Clarke on Ex 4:6, and on Lev. 13: and 14.

Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean.] As this leper

may be considered as a fit emblem of the corruption of man by sin;

so may his cure, of the redemption of the soul by Christ. A

sinner, truly penitent, seeks God with a respectful faith;

approaches him in the spirit of adoration; humbles himself under

his mighty hand, acknowledging the greatness of his fall, and the

vileness of his sin; his prayer, like that of the leper, should be

humble, plain, and full of confidence in that God who can do all

things, and of dependence upon his will or mercy, from which all

good must be derived. It is peculiar to God that he need only

will what he intends to perform. His power is his will. The

ability of God to do what is necessary to be done, and his

willingness to make his creatures happy, should be deeply

considered by all those who approach him in prayer. The leper had

no doubt of the former, but he was far from being equally

satisfied in respect of the latter.

Verse 3. Jesus put forth his hand-I will; be thou clean.] The

most sovereign authority is assumed in this speech of our blessed

Lord-I WILL: there is here no supplication of any power superior

to his own; and the event proved to the fullest conviction, and by

the clearest demonstration, that his authority was absolute, and

his power unlimited. Be thou cleansed, καθαρισθητι; a single word

is enough.

And immediately his leprosy was cleansed.] What an astonishing

sight! A man whose whole body was covered over with the most

loathsome disease, cleansed from it in a moment of time! Was it

possible for any soul to resist the evidence of this fact? This

action of Christ is a representation of that invisible hand which

makes itself felt by the most insensible heart; of that internal

word which makes itself heard by the most deaf; and of that

supreme will which works every thing according to its own counsel.

Verse 4. Jesus saith-See thou tell no man] Had our Lord, at

this early period, fully manifested himself as the Messiah, the

people in all likelihood would have proclaimed him King; this,

however, refused by him, must have excited the hatred of the

Jewish rulers, and the jealousy of the Roman government; and,

speaking after the manner of men, his farther preachings and

miracles must have been impeded. This alone seems to be the

reason why he said to the leper, See thou tell no man.

Show thyself to the priest] This was to conform to the law

instituted in this case, Le 14:1, &c.

Offer the gift] This gift was two living, clean birds, some

cedar wood, with scarlet and hyssop, Le 14:4, which were to be

brought for his cleansing; and, when clean, two he lambs, one ewe

lamb, three tenth deals of flour, and one log of oil, Le 14:10;

but if the person was poor, then he was to bring one lamb, one

tenth deal of flour, one log of oil and two turtle doves, or young

pigeons, Le 14:21, 22. See the notes on Lev. 14.

Now all this was to be done for a testimony to them; to prove

that this leper, who was doubtless well known in the land, had

been thoroughly cleansed; and thus, in this private way, to give

full proof to the priesthood that Jesus was the true Messiah. The

Jewish rabbins allowed that curing the lepers should be a

characteristic of the Messiah; (see Bishop Chandler's

Vindication;) therefore the obstinacy of the priests, &c., in

rejecting Christ, was utterly inexcusable.

Verse 5. Capernaum] See Clarke on Mt 4:13.

A centurion] εκατονταρχος. A Roman military officer who had

the command of one hundred men.

Verse 6. Lord] Rather, Sir, for so the word κυριε should

always be translated when a Roman is the speaker.

Lieth at home] βεβληται, lieth all along; intimating that the

disease had reduced him to a state of the utmost impotence,

through the grievous torments with which it was accompanied.

Sick of the palsy] Or paralytic. See Clarke on Mt 4:24.

This centurion did not act as many masters do when their servants

are afflicted, have them immediately removed to an infirmary, often

to a work-house; or sent home to friends or relatives, who probably

either care nothing for them, or are unable to afford them any of

the comforts of life. In case of a contagious disorder, it may be

necessary to remove an infected person to such places as are best

calculated to cure the distemper, and prevent the spread of the

contagion. But, in all common cases, the servant should be

considered as a child, and receive the same friendly attention.

If, by a hasty, unkind, and unnecessary removal, the servant die,

are not the master and mistress murderers before God?

Verse 7. I will come and heal him.] εγωελοθωνθεραπευσω

αυτον, I am coming, and will heal him. This saying is worthy of

observation. Jesus did not positively say, I will came and heal

him; this could not have been strictly true, because our Lord

healed him without going to the house: and the issue shows that

the words ought to be taken in the most literal sense: thus

understood, they contained a promise which it seems none of them

distinctly comprehended. Foreseeing the exercise of the

centurion's faith, he promises that while he is coming, ere he

arrives at the house, he will heal him, and this was literally

done, Mt 8:13. There is much beauty in this passage.

Verse 8. But speak the word only] Or instead of ειπελογον

read ειπελογω, speak by word or command. This reading is

supported by the most extensive evidence from MSS., versions, and

fathers. See here the pattern of that living faith and genuine

humility which ought always to accompany the prayer of a sinner:

Jesus can will away the palsy, and speak away the most grievous

torments. The first degree of humility is to acknowledge the

necessity of God's mercy, and our own inability to help ourselves:

the second, to confess the freeness of his grace, and our own

utter unworthiness. Ignorance, unbelief, and presumption will

ever retard our spiritual cure.

Verse 9. For I am a man under authority] That is, under the

authority of others. This verse has given considerable

embarrassment to commentators and critics. I believe the

paraphrase given above to be the true meaning of the evangelist.

To make this matter more plain, let it be observed, that the Roman

foot was divided into three grand parts, Hastati, Principes, and

Triarii. Each of these grand divisions was composed of thirty

manipuli or companies; and every manipulus made two centuries

or companies of one hundred men. Every manipulus had two

centurions; but these were very far from being equal in rank and

honour, though possessing the very same office. The Triarii and

Principes were esteemed the most honourable, and had their

centurions elected first; and these first elected centurions took

precedency of the centurions of the Hastati, who were elected

last. The centurion in the text was probably one of this last

order; he was under the authority of either the Principes or

Triarii, and had none under him but the hundred men whom he

commanded, and who appear to have been in a state of the most

loving subjection to him. The argument of the centurion seems to

run thus. If I, who am a person subject to the control of others,

yet have some so completely subject to myself, that I can say to

one, Come, and he cometh, to another, Go, and he goeth, and to my

slave (τωδουλωμου) Do this, and he doeth it; how much more then

canst thou accomplish whatsoever thou willest, being under no

control, and having all things under thy command: He makes a

proper use of his authority, who, by it, raises his mind to the

contemplation of the sovereign power of God, taking occasion from

it to humble himself before Him who has all power in heaven and

earth, and to expect all good from him.

There are two beautiful passages in Arrian that tend much to

illustrate this speech of the centurion. καταταγειςαγαμεμνων


πορευομαιερχουερχομαι. "He who personates Agamemnon says to

me, Go to Achilles, and bring hither Briseis: I go. He says, Come

hither: I come." Dissert. l. i. c. 25. p. 97.





μενεικαιαναπαυεται. "When God commands the plants to blossom,

they bear blossoms. When he commands them to bear seed, they bear

seed. When he commands them to bring forth fruit, they put forth

their fruits. When he commands them to ripen, they grow ripe.

When he commands them to fade, and shed their leaves, and remain

inactive, involved in themselves, they thus remain, and are

inactive." Cap. 14. p. 62. See Raphelius.

This mode of speech fully marks supreme and uncontrolled power,

and that power put forth by a sovereign will to effect any purpose

of justice or mercy. And God said, let there be light, and there

was light, is a similar expression.

Verse 10. I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel.]

That is, I have not found so great an instance of confidence and

faith in my power, even among the Jews, as this Roman, a Gentile,

has shown himself to possess.

From Lu 7:5, where it is said of this centurion, "he loved our

nation, and has built us a synagogue," we may infer that this man

was like the centurion mentioned Ac 10:1; a devout Gentile, a

proselyte of the gate, one who believed in the God of Israel,

without conforming to the Jewish ritual or receiving circumcision.

Though the military life is one of the most improper nurses for

the Christian religion, yet in all nations there have been found

several instances of genuine humility, and faith in God, even in

soldiers; and perhaps never more, in the British military, than at

present, A. D. 1831.

Verse 11. Many shall come from the east and west] Men of every

description, of all countries, and of all professions; and shall

sit down, that is, to meat, for this is the proper meaning of

ανακλιθησονται, intimating the recumbent posture used by the

easterns at their meals. The rabbins represent the blessedness of

the kingdom of God under the notion of a banquet. See several

proofs of this in Schoettgenius. This was spoken to soften the

unreasonable prejudices of the Jews, which they entertained

against the Gentiles, and to prepare them to receive their

brethren of mankind into religious fellowship with themselves,

under the Christian dispensation.

With Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob] In the closest communion

with the most eminent followers of God. But if we desire to

inherit the promises, we must be followers of them who through

faith and patience enjoy them. Let us therefore imitate Abraham

in his faith, Isaac in his obedience unto death, and Jacob in his

hope and expectation of good things to come, amidst all the evils

of this life, if we desire to reign with them.

Verse 12. Shall be cast out into outer darkness] As the

enjoyment of that salvation which Jesus Christ calls the kingdom

of heaven is here represented under the notion of a nuptial

festival, at which the guests sat down in a reclining posture,

with the master of the feast; so the state of those who were

excluded from the banquet is represented as deep darkness; because

the nuptial solemnities took place at night. Hence, at those

suppers, the house of reception was filled with lights called

δαδεςλαμπαδεςλυκνειαφανοι, torches, lamps, candles, and

lanthorns, by Athenaeus and Plutarch: so they who were admitted

to the banquet had the benefit of the light; but they who were

shut out were in darkness, called here outer darkness, i.e. the

darkness on the outside of the house in which the guests were;

which must appear more abundantly gloomy, when compared with the

profusion of light within the guest-chamber. And because they who

were shut out were not only exposed to shame, but also to hunger

and cold; therefore it is added, there shall be weeping and

gnashing of teeth. As these feasts are often alluded to by the

evangelists, I would observe, once for all:-that they who were

invited to them entered by a gate designed to receive them; whence

Christ, by whom we enter into the marriage feast, compares himself

to a gate, Joh 10:1, 2, 7, 9.

This gate, at the time the guests were to come, was made narrow,

the wicket only being left open, and the porter standing there,

that they who were not bidden to the marriage might not rush into

it. Hence Christ exhorts the Jews to enter in at the strait gate,

Mt 7:13, &c. When all that were invited were once come, the door

was presently shut, and was not to be opened to any who came too

late, and stood knocking without; so after the wise virgins had

entered with the bridegroom, the gate was shut, and was not opened

to the foolish virgins, who stood knocking without, Mt 25:11.

And in this sense we are to understand the words of Christ,

Lu 13:24, 25. Many shall seek to enter in, but shall not be

able. Why? because the master of the house hath risen up and shut

to the door; they would not come to him when they might, and now

the day of probation is ended, and they must be judged according

to the deeds done in the body. See Whitby on the place. How many

of those who are called Christians suffer the kingdom, the graces,

and the salvation which they had in their hands, to be lost; while

West-India negroes, American Indians, Hindoo polytheists, and

atheistic Hottentots obtain salvation! An eternity of darkness,

fears, and pains, for comparatively a moment of sensual

gratification, how terrible the thought! What outer darkness, or

τοσκοτοςτοεξωτερον, that darkness, that which is outermost, may

refer to, in eternal damnation, is hard to say: what it alludes to

I have already mentioned: but as the words βρυγμοςτωνοδοντων,

gnashing or CHATTERING of teeth, convey the idea, not only of

extreme anguish, but of extreme cold; some have imagined that the

punishment of the damned consists in sudden transitions from

extreme heat to extreme cold; the extremes of both I have found to

produce exactly the same sensation.

MILTON happily describes this in the following inimitable

verses, which a man can scarcely read, even at midsummer, without


Beyond this flood a frozen continent

Lies dark and wild, heat with perpetual storms

Of whirlwind and dire hail--------

-------- the parching air

Burns frore, and cold performs the effect of fire.

Thither by harpy-footed furies haled,

At certain revolutions all the damn'd

Are brought; and feel by turns the bitter change

Of fierce extremes, extremes by change more fierce,

From beds of raging fire, to starve in ice,

-------- and there to pine

Immovable, infix'd, and frozen round

Periods of time; thence hurried back to fire.

Parad. Lost, book ii. line 586.

There is a passage in the Vulgate, Job 24:19, that might have

helped Milton to this idea. Ad nimium calorem transeat ab aquis

nivium. "Let him pass to excessive heat, from waters of snow."

This reading, which is found only in this form in the Vulgate, is

vastly expressive. Every body knows that snow water feels colder

than snow itself, even when both are of the same temperature, viz.

32�, because the human body, when in contact with snow water,

cools quicker than when in contact with snow. Another of our

poets has given us a most terrible description of perdition on the

same ground.

The once pamper'd spirit

To bathe in fiery floods, or to reside

In thrilling regions of thick-ribbed ice;

To be imprison'd in the viewless winds,

And blown with restless violence round about

This pendant world; or to be worse than worst

Of those that lawless and incertain thoughts


Similar to this is that dreadful description of the torments of

the wicked given in the Institutes of Menu: "The wicked shall have

a sensation of agony in Tamisra, or utter darkness, and in other

seats of horror; in Asipatrauana, or the sword-leaved forest, and

in different places of binding fast, and of rending: multifarious

tortures await them: they shall be mangled by ravens and owls, and

shall swallow cakes boiling hot, and shall walk over inflamed

sands, and shall feel the pangs of being baked like the vessels of

a potter: they shall assume the forms of beasts continually

miserable, and suffer alternate afflictions from extremities of

cold and heat; surrounded with terrors of various kinds. They

shall have old age without resource; diseases attended with

anguish; pangs of innumerable sorts, and, lastly, unconquerable


Institutes of MENU, chap. 12. Inst. 75-80.

In the Zend Avesta, the place of wicked spirits is termed, "The

places of darkness, the germs of the thickest darkness." An

uncommonly significant expression: Darkness has its birth there:

there are its seeds and buds, there it vegetates everlastingly,

and its eternal fruit is-darkness!

See Zend Avesta, vol. i. Vendidad sadi, Fargard. xviii. p. 412.

And is this, or, any thing as bad as this, HELL? Yes, and worse

than the worst of all that has already been mentioned. Hear

Christ himself. There their worm dieth not, and the fire is NOT

QUENCHED! Great God! save the reader from this damnation!

Verse 13. As thou hast believed; so be it done] Let the mercy

thou requestest be equal to the faith thou hast brought to receive

it by. ACCORDING to thy faith be it done unto thee, is a general

measure of God's dealings with mankind. To get an increase of

faith is to get an increase of every grace which constitutes the

mind that was in Jesus, and prepares fully for the enjoyment of

the kingdom of God. God is the same in the present time which he

was in ancient days; and miracles of healing may be wrought on our

own bodies and souls, and on those of others, by the

instrumentality of our faith. But, alas! where is faith to be


And his servant was healed in the selfsame hour.] εντηωρα

εκεινη, in that very hour. Faith is never exercised in the power

and goodness of God till it is needed; and, when it is exercised,

God works the miracle of healing. Christ never says, Believe now

for a salvation which thou now needest, and I will give it to thee

in some future time. That salvation which is expected through

works or sufferings must of necessity be future, as there must be

time to work or suffer in; but the salvation which is by faith

must be for the present moment, for this simple reason, IT IS BY

FAITH, that God may be manifested and honoured; and not by works

or by sufferings, lest any man should boast. To say that, though

it is of faith, yet it may; and, must in many cases, be delayed,

(though the person is coming in the most genuine humility, deepest

contrition, and with the liveliest faith in the blood of the

Lamb,) is to say that there is still something necessary to be

done, either on the part of the person, or on the part of God,

in order to procure it; neither of which positions has any truth

in it.

Verse 14. Peter's house] That Peter lived at Capernaum, and

that Christ lodged with him, is fully evident from this verse

compared with Mt 17:24.

Peter's-wife's mother] Learn hence, says Theophylact, that

marriage is no hinderance to virtue, since the chief of the

apostles had his wife. Marriage is one of the first of Divine

institutions, and is a positive command of God. He says, the

state of celibacy is not GOOD, Ge 2:18. Those who pretend to say

that the single state is more holy than the other slander their

Maker, and say in effect, "We are too holy to keep the

commandments of God."

Verse 15. He touched her hand] Can any thing on this side the

unlimited power of God effect such a cure with only a touch? If

the Scriptures had not spoken of the divinity of Christ, these

proofs of his power must have demonstrated it to the common sense

of every man whose creed had not previously blinded him.

Ministered unto them.] αυτοις, them, is the reading of most of

the printed editions, but αυτω, to him, has the utmost evidence

in its support from MSS., versions, and fathers. Serving Christ

in his ordinances and in his members is the best proof we can give

to others of our being soundly restored to spiritual health.

Verse 16. When the even was come] The Jews kept their sabbath

from evening to evening, according to the law, Le 23:32,

From evening to evening shall ye celebrate your sabbath. And the

rabbins say, The sabbath doth not enter but when the sun is set.

Hence it was that the sick were not brought out to our Lord till

after sun-set, because then the sabbath was ended.

Many that were possessed with devils] Dr. Lightfoot gives two

sound reasons why Judea, in our Lord's time, abounded with

demoniacs. First, Because they were then advanced to the very

height of impiety. See what Josephus, their own historian, says

of them: There was not (said he) a nation under heaven more wicked

than they were. See Clarke on Ro 1:1. Secondly, Because they

were then strongly addicted to magic, and so, as it were, invited

evil spirits to be familiar with them. It seems strange to find

men at this distance of time questioning the truth of that which

neither scribes nor Pharisees then doubted; nor did they ever object

against the pretensions of Christ and his apostles to cast them

out. And, if the whole business of demonism had been only a

vulgar error, (as wise men now tell us,) what a fine opportunity

had the wise men then, to unmask the whole matter, and thus pour

contempt on the pretensions of our blessed Lord and his followers,

who held it to be one proof of their Divine mission, that demons

were subject to them!

And healed all that were sick] Not a soul did the Lord Jesus

ever reject, who came to him soliciting his aid. Need any sinner

despair who comes to him, conscious of his spiritual malady, to be

healed by his merciful hand?

Verse 17. Himself took our infirmities] The quotation is taken

from Isa 53:4,

where the verb nasa signifies to bear sin, so as to make

atonement for it. And the rabbins understand this place to speak

of the sufferings of the Messiah for the sins of Israel; and say

that all the diseases, all the griefs, and all the punishments due

to Israel shall be borne by him. See Synopsis Sohar. Christ

fulfils the prophecies in all respects, and is himself the

completion and truth of them, as being the lamb and victim of God,

which, bears and takes away the sin of the world. The text in

Isaiah refers properly to the taking away of sin; and this in the

evangelist, to the removal of corporeal afflictions: but, as the

diseases of the body are the emblems of the sin of the soul,

Matthew, referring to the prediction of the prophet, considered

the miraculous healing of the body as an emblem of the soul's

salvation by Christ Jesus.

Verse 18. Unto the other side.] Viz. of the lake of

Genesareth, whence he proceeded to the country of the Gergesenes,

Mt 8:28.

Verse 19. A certain scribe] Though ειςγραμματευς, ONE scribe,

may be considered as a Hebraism, yet it is probable that the

literal construction of it was intended, to show that few of this

class came to the Lord Jesus for instruction or salvation.

Master] Rather, teacher, διδασκαλε from διδασκω, I

teach, which itself seems to be derived from δεικω, I show, and

means the person who shows or points out a particular way or


I will follow thee whithersoever thou goest.] A man who is not

illuminated by the Spirit of God thinks himself capable of any

thing: he alone who is divinely taught knows he can do nothing but

through Christ strengthening him. Every teacher among the Jews

had disciples, and some especially that followed or accompanied

them wherever they went, that they might have some person at hand

with whom they might converse concerning the Divine law.

Verse 20. The foxes have holes, &c.] Reader! art thou a poor

man? and dost thou fear God? Then, what comfort must thou derive

from the thought, that thou so nearly resemblest the Lord Jesus!

But how unlike is the rich man, who is the votary of pleasure and

slave of sin, to this heavenly pattern!

Son of man] A Hebrew phrase, expressive of humiliation and

debasement; and, on that account, applied emphatically to himself,

by the meek and lowly Jesus. Besides, it seems here to be used to

point out the incarnation of the Son of God, according to the

predictions of the prophets, Ps 8:5; Da 7:13. And as our Lord

was now showing forth his eternal Divinity in the miracles he

wrought, he seems studious to prove to them the certainty of his

incarnation, because on this depended the atonement for sin.

Indeed our Lord seems more intent on giving the proofs of his

humanity, than of his divinity, the latter being necessarily

manifested by the miracles which he was continually working.

Verse 21. Another of his disciples] This does not mean any of

the twelve, but one of those who were constant hearers of our

Lord's preaching; the name of disciple being common to all those

who professed to believe in him, Joh 6:66.

Bury my father: probably his father was old, and apparently near

death; but it was a maxim among the Jews, that, if a man had any

duty to perform to the dead, he was, for that time, free from the

observance of any other precept or duty. The children of Adam are

always in extremes; some will rush into the ministry of the Gospel

without a call, others will delay long after they are called; the

middle way is the only safe one: not to move a finger in the work

till the call be given, and not to delay a moment after.

Verse 22. Let the dead bury their dead.] It was usual for the

Jews to consider a man as dead who had departed from the precepts

of the law; and, on this ground, every transgressor was reputed a

dead man. Our Lord's saying, being in common use, had nothing

difficult in it to a Jew. Natural death is the separation of the

body and soul; spiritual death, the separation of God and the

soul: men who live in sin are dead to God. Leave the spiritually

dead to bury their natural dead. All the common offices of life

may be performed by any person; to preach the glad tidings of the

kingdom of God is granted but to a few, and to these only by an

especial call; these should immediately abandon worldly concerns

and employments, and give themselves wholly up to the work of the


Verse 24. Arose a great tempest in the sea] Probably excited

by Satan, the prince of the power of the air, who, having got the

author and all the preachers of the Gospel together in a small

vessel, thought by drowning it, to defeat the purposes of God, and

thus to prevent the salvation of a ruined world. What a noble

opportunity must this have appeared to the enemy of the human


Verse 25. And his disciples] THE disciples. In the common

printed editions, as well as in our translation, it is HIS

disciples, but αυτου, his, is omitted by the very best MSS., and

by Bengel, Wetstein, and Griesbach. This is a matter of very

small importance, and need not be noticed; only every translator

and commentator should aim, to the uttermost of his knowledge and

power, to give every particle of the language of the inspired

penman that can be expressed, and to insert no one word which he

has reason to believe did not come by the inspiration of God.

Lord, save us: we perish.] One advantage of trials is to make

us know our weakness, so as to oblige us to have recourse to God

by faith in Christ. It is by faith alone that we may be said to

approach him; by love we are united to him, and by prayer we

awake him. All good perishes in us without Christ: without his

grace, there is not so much as one moment in which we are not in

danger of utter ruin. How proper, then, is this short prayer for

us, and how familiar should it be to us! Taken in the extensive

Christian sense it is exceedingly expressive: it comprehends all

the power of our Lord's might, all the merit of his atonement,

and all the depth of our misery and danger. See Quesnel.

Verse 26. Why are ye fearful, O ye of little faith?] Faith is

ever bold-incredulity always timid. When faith fails in

temptation, there is the utmost danger of shipwreck. Lord,

increase our faith! is a necessary prayer for all who desire to be


Then he arose and rebuked the winds, &c.] As the agitation of

the sea was only the effect of the wind, it was necessary to

remove the cause of the disturbance, that the effect might cease.

Joshua did not say to the earth, Earth, stand thou still, because

the earth is not the cause of its own motion: but, Sun, stand thou

still, shemesh dom, Sun, be silent, or restrain thy

influence, which is a proper cause of the revolutions of all the

planets. When the solar influence was by the miraculous power of

God suspended, the standing still of the earth was a necessary

consequence. Both Christ and Joshua spoke with the strictest

philosophical precision. See the notes on Jos 10:12-14.

There was a great calm.] One word of Christ can change the face

of nature; one word of his can restore calm and peace to the most

troubled and disconsolate soul. Prayer and faith, if sincere,

shall be heard, though they may be weak. 1. That our

imperfections may not hinder us from praying to God. 2. That we

may be persuaded it is not our merits which make our prayers

effectual. 3. That we may offer them up with great humility: and,

4. That we may be fully united to Christ, without which union

there is no salvation.

There was at first a great agitation; then a great calm. Thus

God ever proportions the comfort to the affliction.

Verse 27. The men marvelled] Every part of the creation (man

excepted) hears and obeys the Creator's voice. Sinners have an

ear for the world, the devil, and the flesh: till this ear is

shut, God's voice is not discerned; for when it is shut to its

enemies it is open to its friends.

What manner of man is this] ποταποςεστινουτος, How great is

this person! Here was God fully manifest; but it was in the

flesh-there were the hidings of his power.

Verse 28. The country of the Gergesenes] This word is

variously written in the MSS, and versions; Gergasenes, Gerasenes,

Gadarenes, Gergesions, and Gersedonians, The three first are

supported by the greater authorities. They might have all been

names of the same place or district; but, if we depend on what

Origen says, the people mentioned here could not have been the

inhabitants of Gerasa, which, says he, is a city of Arabia, ουτε

θαλασσανουτελιμνηνπλησιονεχοντα, which has neither sea nor

lake nigh to it. "Gadara was, according to Josephus, the

metropolis of Perea, or the region beyond Jordan: both the city

and villages belonging to it lay in the country of the Gergasenes;

whence Christ going into the country of the Gadarenes, Mr 5:1, is

said to go into the region of the Gergasenes, Mt 8:28." WHITBY.

Two possessed with devils] Persons possessed by evil demons.

Mark and Luke mention only one demoniac, probably the fiercer of

the two.

Coming out of the tombs] It is pretty evident that cupolas were

generally builded over the graves among the Jews, and that these

demoniacs had their dwellings under such: the evil spirits which

were in them delighting more in these abodes of desolation and

ruin, as being more congenial to their fierce and diabolic nature,

and therefore would drive the possessed into them.

Verse 29. What have we to do with thee] The literal

translation of τιημινκαισοι, is, What is it to us and to thee;

which perhaps might be understood to imply their disclaiming any

design to interfere with the work of Christ, and that he should

not therefore meddle with them; for it appears they exceedingly

dreaded his power.

What have we to do with thee, is a Jewish phrase, which often

occurs in the Old Testament, signifying an abrupt refusal of some

request, or a wish not to be troubled with the company or

importunity of others. Jehu said to the messenger who was sent by

Joram to meet him, What hast thou to do with peace? David said,

What have I to do with you, ye sons of Zeruiah? Compare

Jud 11:12; 2Sa 16:10; 2Ki 9:18; Ezr 4:3; Joh 2:4.

See Clarke on Mr 1:24.

Jesus, thou Son of God] Griesbach omits the word Jesus, on the

authority of several MSS. of the greatest antiquity and

respectability; besides some versions, and several of the fathers.

I heartily concur with these MSS., &c., for this simple reason,

among others, that the word Jesus, i.e. Saviour, was of too

ominous an import to the Satanic interest to be used freely, in

such a case, by any of his disciples or subalterns.

Art thou come hither to torment us before the time?] From this

it appears that a greater degree of punishment awaited these

demons than they at that time endured; and that they knew there

was a time determined by the Divine Judge, when they should be

sent into greater torments.

Verse 30. A herd of many swine] These were in all probability

Jewish property, and kept and used in express violation of the law

of God; and therefore their destruction, in the next verse, was no

more than a proper manifestation of the justice of God.

Verse 31. Suffer us to go away] επιτρεψονημιναπελθειν: this

is the common reading; but αποστειλονημας, send us away, appears

more likely to be genuine. This latter reading Griesbach has

adopted, on the authority of three ancient MSS., the Coptic,

Sahidic, Ethiopic, Syriac, all the Arabic, Saxon, most of the

Itala, and the Vulgate. Send us away seems to express more fully

the absolute power Jesus Christ had over them-permission alone was

not sufficient; the very power by which they were to go away, must

come from Christ himself! How vain was the boast of Satan,

Mt 4:9, when we find he could not possess the body of one of the

vilest animals that God has made, without immediate authority from

the Most High! Since a demon cannot enter even into a swine

without being sent by God himself, how little is the power or

malice of any of them to be dreaded by those who have God for

their portion and protector!

Verse 32. They went into the herd of swine] Instead of την

αγεληντωνχοιρων, the herd of swine, Griesbach reads τους

χοιρους, the swine, on the authority of many MSS. and versions.

The whole herd of swine] τωνχοιρων, of swine, is omitted by

many MSS. and versions. See Griesbach, and

See Clarke on Lu 8:20, &c.

Ran violently down a steep place, &c.] The prayer of these

demons is heard and answered! Strange! But let it be noted, that

God only hears demons and certain sinners when their prayer is the

echo of his own justice. Here is an emblem of the final

impenitence and ruin into which the swinish sinners, the

habitually unpure, more commonly fall than other sinners. Christ

permits the demons to do that in the swine which he did not permit

them to do in the possessed, on purpose to show us what rage they

would exercise on us if left to their liberty and malice. Many

are the Divine favours which we do not consider, or know only in

general. "But the owners of the swine lost their property." Yes;

and learn from this of how small value temporal riches, are in the

estimation of God. He suffers them to be lost, sometimes to

disengage us from them through mercy; sometimes out of justice, to

punish us for having acquired or preserved them either by

covetousness or injustice.

Verse 33. And they that kept them fled] Terrified at what had

happened to the swine.

Verse 34. The whole city came out] Probably with the intention

to destroy Jesus for having destroyed their swine; but, having

seen him, they were awed by his presence; and only besought him to

depart from their borders. Many rather chose to lose Jesus Christ

than those temporal goods by which they gratify their passions at

the expense of their souls. They love even their swine better

than their salvation.

Certain doctors in both sciences, divinity and physic, gravely

tell us that these demoniacs were only common madmen, and that the

disease was supposed, by the superstitious Jews, to be occasioned

by demons. But, with due deference to great characters, may not a

plain man be permitted to ask, by what figure of speech can it be

said that "two diseases besought-went out-filled a herd of

swine-rushed down a precipice?" &c. What silly trifling is this!

Some people's creeds will neither permit God nor the devil to

work; and, in several respects, hardly to exist. For he who

denies Divine inspiration, will scarcely acknowledge diabolic

influence. See Clarke on Mt 8:16, and

See Clarke on Lu 7:21.

It is said, The whole city came out to meet Jesus. This means

no more than all the inhabitants of that place, which, most

probably, was no more than a small country village; or perhaps but

a few houses. I have observed that the inhabitants of the Zetland

Isles, in the North Seas, denominate any collection of houses a

town, even where there are but three or four: and thus I think

that the Jews denominated their villages, often calling them


Copyright information for Clarke