9:1 And he said unto them, Verily I say unto you, There are some here of them that stand [by], who shall in no wise taste of death, till they see the kingdom of God come with power1.
There are some here of them that stand [by], who shall in no wise taste
of death, till they see the kingdom of God come with power. The mention
of his final coming suggested one nearer at hand which was to be
accomplished during the life of most of those present, since none but Jesus
himself and Judas were to die previous to that time. The kingdom was to come
and likewise the King. The former coming was literal, the latter spiritual.
Those who refer this expression to the transfiguration certainly err, for no
visible kingdom was established at that time. The expression refers to the
kingdom which was organized and set in motion on the Pentecost which
followed the resurrection of Jesus. It was set up with power, because three
thousand souls were converted the first day, Acts
2:41, and many other gospel triumphs speedily followed.
9:2 And after six
days1 Jesus taketh with him
Peter, and James, and John2, and
bringeth them up into a high mountain apart by themselves3:
and he was transfigured before them4;
THIRD WITHDRAWAL FROM HEROD'S TERRITORY. D. THE TRANSFIGURATION. CONCERNING
ELIJAH. (A Spur of Hermon, near Caesarea Philippi.) Matthew
And after six days. Mark agrees with Matthew in saying six days.
Luke qualifies his estimate by saying "about", Luke
9:28. But if we regard him as including the day of the
"sayings" and also the day of the transfiguration, and the two as
excluding these days, then the three statements tally exactly.
Jesus taketh with him Peter, and James, and John. These three, as
leaders among the apostles, needed the special encouragement which was about
to be given. For further comment, see Mark
And bringeth them up into a high mountain apart by themselves. A
tradition dating from the fourth century fixes upon Mt. Tabor as the site of
the transfiguration, but this is unquestionably a mistake. Mt. Tabor is in
Galilee, while Jesus was still in the region of Caesarea Philippi (Mark
9:30). Moreover there is little doubt that at that time and for
centuries previous there was an inhabited fortress upon Mt. Tabor (Joshua
19:12). Moreover, Mt. Tabor is not a high mountain, its elevation above
the sea being but 1,748 feet. Hermon, on the contrary, is the highest
mountain in Palestine, its elevation, according to Reclus, being 9,400 feet.
It was Jesus' custom to withdraw for prayer by night (Matthew
22:39) and the transfiguration took place at night.
And he was transfigured before them. That is, transformed; the
description shows to what extent.
9:3 and his
garments became glistering, exceeding white1, so as no
fuller on earth can whiten them.
And his garments became glistering, exceeding white. We may
conceive of the body of Jesus becoming luminous and imparting its light to
his garments. The Christian looks forward to beholding such a
transfiguration and also to participating in it (1 John
9:4 And there
appeared unto them Elijah with Moses1: and they were
talking with Jesus.
There appeared unto them Elijah with Moses. The three apostles
could identify Moses and Elijah by the course of this conversation, though
it is possible that miraculous knowledge may have accompanied miraculous
9:5 And Peter answereth and saith to Jesus,
Rabbi, it is good for us to be here: and let us make
three tabernacles1; one for thee,
and one for Moses, and one for Elijah2.
Let us make three tabernacles. Booths, or arbors, made of the
branches of trees.
One for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elijah. By thus
speaking, Peter placed Jesus upon the same level with Moses and Elijah --all
three being worthy of a booth.
9:6 For he knew not
what to answer; for they became sore afraid1.
For he knew not what to answer; for they became sore afraid.
Peter's fears overcame his discretion, but did not silence his tongue.
Though he trembled at the fellowship of Moses and Elijah, he also realized
the blessedness of it and could not let them depart without an effort to
detain them, though the best inducement that he could offer was to build
three booths for their and Christ's accommodation.
9:7 And there came
a cloud overshadowing them1: and there came a voice out of
the cloud, This is my beloved Son: hear ye him2.
And there came a cloud overshadowing them. Clouds often roll
against the sides of Mt. Hermon, but the brightness of this cloud and the
fear which it produced suggests that it was the Shekinah, or cloud of glory,
which was the symbol of God's particular presence (Exodus
40:34,35; 1 Kings
This is my beloved Son: hear ye him. This command contains the
chief significance of the entire scene. Spoken in the presence of Moses and
Elijah, it gave Jesus that pre-eminence which is a son has over servants. He
is to be heard. His words have pre-eminence over those of the lawgiver and
the prophet (Hebrews
1:1,2). Peter recognized Jesus as thus honored by this voice (2 Peter
9:8 And suddenly looking round about, they
saw no one any more, save Jesus only with themselves.
They saw no man any more, save Jesus only with themselves. Leaders
and prophets depart, but Christ abides (Hebrews
9:9 And as they were coming down from the
mountain, he charged them that they should tell no man
what things they had seen1, save when the Son of man
should have risen again from the dead.
He charged them that they should tell no man what things they had seen.
The people were not ready for the publication of such an event. To have told
it now would only have been to raise doubts as to their veracity.
9:10 And they kept the saying, questioning
among themselves what the rising again from the dead should mean.
Questioning among themselves what the rising from the dead should mean.
Jesus spoke so often in parables and made so frequent use of metaphors that
the apostles did not take his words concerning the resurrection in a literal
sense. They regarded his language as figurative, and sought to interpret the
9:11 And they asked him, saying, [How
is it] that the scribes say that Elijah must first come1?
[How is it] that the scribes say that Elijah must first come? They
were puzzled by the disappearance of Elijah. They looked upon him as having
come to fulfill the prophecy of Malachi (Malachi
4:5,6), but they marveled that, having come, he should so soon withdraw,
and that they should be forbidden to tell that they had seen him, since the
sight of him would be some sign of Jesus' Messiahship.
9:12 And he said unto them, Elijah
indeed cometh first, and restoreth all things1: and
how is it written of the Son of man, that he should suffer many things and be
set at nought2?
Elijah indeed cometh first, and restoreth all things. This sentence
leads some to think that Elijah will appear again before the second coming
of our Lord, but the words are to be interpreted in connection with the rest
of the passage.
And how is it written of the Son of man, that he should suffer many
things and be set at nought? If the writings concerning Elijah perplexed
the apostles, those concerning the Messiah perplexed them also. From one set
of prophecies they might learn something about the other. Elijah came, but
the Scriptures concerning him were so little understood that he was put to
death. The Messiah also came, and the prophecies concerning him were so
little understood that he, too, would be set at naught.
9:13 But I say unto you, that Elijah
is come, and they have also done unto him whatsoever they would, even as it is
written of him1.
Elijah is come, and they have also done unto him whatsoever they would,
even as it is written of him. Malachi used the name of Elijah
figuratively to represent John the Baptist. See John
1:21 and see Matthew
11:13. That there shall be a second coming of Elijah in fulfillment of
this prophecy is hardly possible, for the office of Elijah is prophetically
outlined as that of the restorer. But Elijah could not restore Judaism, for
that dispensation had been done away with in Christ. He could hardly have
chosen to restore Christianity, for even if it should ne such a restoration,
a Jewish prophet would be ill-suited to such an office. One of the apostles
would be vastly preferable.
9:14 And when they
came to the disciples1, they saw
a great multitude about them2, and
scribes questioning with them3.
THIRD WITHDRAWAL FROM HEROD'S TERRITORY. E. HEALING THE DEMONIAC BOY. (Region
of Caesarea Philippi.) Matthew
And when they came to the disciples. The nine apostles which had
been left behind.
They saw a great multitude about them. We last heard of the
multitude at Mark
8:34. It had not doubt been with Jesus until he ascended the mount and
had remained with his apostles until he came down.
And scribes questioning with them. These scribes had caught the
apostles in one and perhaps the only case where they had failed to cure, and
they were making full use of the advantageous opportunity to discredit
Christ and his apostles before the people by asking sneering and sarcastic
straightway all the multitude, when they saw him, were greatly amazed, and
running to him saluted him1.
And straightway all the multitude, when they saw him, were greatly
amazed, and running to him saluted him. Why were the multitude amazed?
Most commentators answer that it was because the face of Jesus shone with
remaining traces of transfiguration glory, as did that of Moses (Exodus
34:29), but this can hardly have been so, for it would have been at
variance with the secrecy which Jesus enjoined as to his transfiguration.
Moreover, so important a feature could hardly have escaped from the
narratives of all three evangelists. Undoubtedly the amazement was caused by
the sudden and opportune return of Jesus. Those who urge that this was not
enough to produce amazement show themselves to be poor students of human
nature. The multitude had been listening to and no doubt enjoying the
questions of the scribes. The unexpected appearance of Jesus therefore
impressed them with the sudden sense of having been detected in wrong-doing
which invariably leads to amazement. Moreover, those who remained loyal to
Jesus would be equally amazed by his approach, since they could not but feel
that an exciting crisis was at hand.
9:16 And he asked them, What
question ye with them1?
What question ye with them? He surprised the scribes by this demand
and they saw at once that he knew all and they felt rebuked for their
unwarranted exultation, and so kept silent.
9:17 And one of
the multitude answered him1, Teacher,
I brought unto thee my son, who hath a dumb spirit2;
And one of the multitude answered him. When the scribes did not
answer, the father of the demoniac boy broke the embarrassing silence by
telling Jesus about the matter in question.
Teacher, I brought unto thee my son, who hath a dumb spirit. His
child was deaf, dumb, and epileptic, but all these physical ailments were no
doubt produced by the demon or evil spirit which possessed him.
9:19 And he answereth them and saith, O
faithless generation, how long shall I be with you? how long shall I bear with
you? bring him unto me.
O faithless generation, how long shall I be with you? how long shall I
bear with you? As there was no reason to accuse the apostles of
perversity, it is evident that the rebuke of Jesus is addressed generally to
all and not particularly to the disciples. The perverse faithlessness and
infidelity of the scribes had operated upon the multitude, and the doubts of
the multitude had influenced the apostles, and thus, with the blind leading
the blind, all had fallen into the ditch of impotent disbelief. The
disbelief of the people was a constant grief to Jesus, but it must have been
especially so in this case, for it fostered and perpetrated this scene of
weakness, mean-spiritedness, misery, and suffering which stood out in such
sharp contrast with the peace, blessedness, and glory from which he had just
9:20 And they brought him unto him: and when
he saw him1, straightway the spirit tare him grievously;
and he fell on the ground, and wallowed foaming.
When he saw him. Saw Jesus.
9:21 And he asked his father, How long time
is it since this hath come unto him? And he said, From
From a child. By causing the long-standing nature of the case and
the malignity of it to be fully revealed, Jesus emphasized the power of the
9:23 And Jesus said unto him, If
thou canst! All things are possible to him that believeth1.
If thou canst! All things are possible to him that believeth. Jesus
echoed back the "if thou canst do any thing" which the man had
9:22). If Jesus marveled at the faith of a Gentile which trusted the
fullness of his divine power, he also marveled at this disbelief of this Jew
which thus coolly and presumptuously questions the sufficiency of that
power. In the remainder of his answer Jesus shows that the lack of power is
not in him, but in those who would be recipients of the blessings of his
power, for those blessings are obtained by faith.
9:24 Straightway the father of the child
cried out, and said, I believe; help thou mine unbelief.
I believe; help thou my unbelief. He confessed his faith, but
desired so ardently to have the child healed that he feared lest he should
not have faith enough to accomplish that desire, and therefore asked for
9:25 And when Jesus saw that a multitude
came running together, he rebuked the unclean spirit2,
saying unto him, Thou dumb and deaf spirit, I command
thee, come out of him, and enter no more into him3.
When Jesus saw that the multitude came running together. Jesus had
found the multitude when he came down from the mountain, but the excitement
in this multitude was evidently drawing men from every quarter, so that the
crowd was momentarily growing greater.
He rebuked the unclean spirit. A longer conversation with the man
might have been beneficial, but to prevent the gathering of any larger
company, Jesus acted at once and spoke the words of command. On unclean
spirits, see Mark
Thou dumb and deaf spirit, I command thee, come out of him, and enter
no more into him. Since the demon was manifestly of a most daring,
impudent, and audacious nature, Jesus took the precaution to forbid it
attempting to re-enter its victim, a precaution which the conduct of the
demon abundantly justified.
9:26 And having
cried out, and torn him much, he came out1: and [the boy]
became as one dead; insomuch that the more part said, He is dead.
And having cried out, and torn him much, he came out. The malicious
effrontery and obstinacy displayed by this demon stands in marked contrast
to the cowed, supplicating spirit shown by the Gergesene legion. See Mark
9:27 But Jesus
took him by the hand, and raised him up1; and he arose.
But Jesus took him by the hand, and raised him up. See Mark
9:29 And he said unto them, This kind can
come out by nothing, save by prayer.
This kind can come forth by nothing, save by prayer. Prayer was the
means of increasing faith. Demons, like spirits in the flesh, have different
degrees of will force, some being easier to subdue than others, and this
once, being particularly willful and obstinate, required more faith to expel
it. See Matthew
17:20 for comparison.
9:30 And they went
forth from thence1, and passed
through Galilee2; and he would
not that any man should know it3.
RETURN TO GALILEE. THE PASSION FORETOLD. Matthew
And they went forth from thence. From the region of Caesarea
And passed through Galilee. On his way to Capernaum.
And he would not that any man should know it. He was still seeking
that retirement which began on the journey to Tyre. See Mark
7:24. This is the last definite mention of that retirement, but we find
it referred to again at John
9:31 For he taught
his disciples1, and said unto them, The
Son of man is delivered up into the hands of men2, and
they shall kill him; and when he is killed, after three
days he shall rise again3.
For he taught his disciples. The reason for his retirement is here
given: he wished to prepare his disciples for his passion.
The Son of man is delivered up into the hands of men. The present
tense is used for the future to express the nearness and certainty of the
event. See Matthew
After three days he shall rise again. See Matthew
9:32 But they understood not the saying, and
were afraid to ask him2.
But they understood not that saying. What was told to them was not
for their present but their future benefit, and therefore they were left to
puzzle over the words of Jesus.
And were afraid to ask him. Not so much from any awe with which
they regarded him, as from the delicacy of the subject itself, and their own
sorrow, which shrank from knowing it more fully.
9:33 And they came
to Capernaum: and when he was in the house1 he
asked them, What were ye reasoning on the way2?
9:33,34 FALSE AMBITION VERSUS CHILDLIKENESS. (Capernaum, Autumn, A.D. 29.)
And they came to Capernaum: and when he was in the house. Probably
Simon Peter's house.
He asked them, What were ye reasoning on the way? The Lord with his
disciples was now on his way back to Galilee from Caesarea Philippi, where,
some ten days before, he had promised the keys of the kingdom to Peter (Matthew
16:19), and where he had honored Peter and the Sons of Zebedee by a
mysterious withdrawal into the mount (Matthew
9:28). These facts, therefore, no doubt started the dispute as to which
should hold the highest office in the kingdom. The fires of envy thus set
burning were not easily quenched. We find them bursting forth again from
time to time down to the very verge of Christ's exit from the world (Matthew
9:35 And he sat down, and called the
twelve; and he saith unto them, If any man would be
first, he shall be last of all, and servant of all1.
If any man would be first, he shall be last of all, and servant of all.
The spirit which proudly seeks to be first in place thereby consents to make
itself last in character, for it reverses the graces of the soul, turning
love into envy, humility into pride, generosity into selfishness, etc.
shall receive one of such little children in my name1,
receiveth me: and whosoever receiveth me, receiveth not me, but him that sent
Whosoever shall receive one of such little children in my name,
receiveth me, etc. Greatness does not consist in place. Disciples
who receive those of a childlike spirit and disposition that they may
thereby honor the name of Christ are honored of Christ as the greatest. The
words "in my name" probably suggested to John the incident which
follows. See Matthew
9:38 John said unto him, Teacher, we saw
one casting out demons in thy name; and we forbade him,
because he followed not us2.
Master, we saw one casting out demons in thy name. This man's
actions had excited the jealousy of John. Jealousy as to official
prerogative is very common. His zeal for Jesus reminds us of the friends of
And we forbade him, because he followed not us. Was not one of our
9:39 But Jesus said, Forbid
him not: for there is no man who shall do a mighty work in my name, and be able
quickly to speak evil of me1.
Forbid him not: for there is no man who shall do a mighty work in my
name, and be able quickly to speak evil of me. Jesus shows that one who
knows enough of him to use his power is not apt to dishonor him.
9:40 For he that
is not against us is for us1.
For he that is not against us is for us. The converse of this
statement is found at Matthew
12:30. The two statements taken together declare the impossibility of
neutrality. If a man is in no sense against Christ, then he is for him; and
if he is not for Christ, he is against him.
9:41 For whosoever
shall give you a cup of water to drink, because ye are Christ's, verily I say
unto you, he shall in no wise lose his reward1.
For whosoever shall give you a cup of water to drink, because ye are
Christ's, verily I say unto you, he shall in no wise lose his reward.
Jesus here returns to the discussion of greatness, and reasserts the
doctrine that the smallest act of righteousness, if performed for the sake
of the King, shall be honored in the kingdom. For comment, see Matthew
9:42 And whosoever
shall cause one of these little ones that believe on me to stumble1,
it were better for him if a great millstone were hanged
about his neck2, and he were cast
into the sea3.
And whosoever shall cause one of these little ones that believe on me
to stumble. Character depends upon small things. If a small act of
goodness receives its reward, an act of evil, made apparently small by the
trifling insignificance of the person against whom it is committed, receives
just as inevitably its punishment. In short, there is no smallness in good
and evil that men may rely upon, for heavy penalties may be meted out for
what the world judges to be light sin. Those who cause the weak to lapse
into unbelief through their ecclesiastical arrogance have a heavy reckoning
for which to answer.
It were better for him if a great millstone were hanged about his neck.
The Greek word "lithos" indicates a large millstone which was
turned by an ass.
And he were cast into the sea. Greeks, Romans, and Egyptians were
punished by such millstone drowning. But the fate of one who, by striving
for place, causes others to sin, will be worse than that. From offenses
caused by a proud spirit Jesus now passes to discuss offenses or sins caused
by any spirit of evil.
9:43 And if thy hand cause thee to stumble,
cut it off: it is good for thee to enter into life maimed, rather than having
thy two hands to go into hell, into the unquenchable
And if thy hand causeth thee to stumble, cut it off. It is better
to deny ourselves all unlawful pleasures, even if the denial be as painful
and distressing as the loss of a member.
Into hell, into the unquenchable fire. We see from this that
"hell" and "eternal fire" (Matthew
18:8) are interchangeable terms, and stand in contrast to eternal life.
9:44 [where their worm dieth not, and the
fire is not quenched.]
[Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched]. The
image of the worm is taken from Isaiah
66:24, and refers to those worms which feed upon the carcasses of men.
The fire and worm can hardly be taken literally, for the two figures are
incompatible--worms do not frequent fires. The two figures depict hell as a
state of decay which is never completed and of burning which does not
consume, Some regard the worm as a symbol of the gnawings of remorse, and
the fire as a symbol of actual punishment.
9:45 And if thy foot cause thee to stumble,
cut it off: it is good for thee to enter into life halt, rather than having thy
two feet to be cast into hell.
And if thy foot causeth thee to stumble, cut it off. See Mark
9:46 [where their worm dieth not, and the
fire is not quenched.]
[Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched]. See Mark
9:47 And if thine
eye cause thee to stumble, cast it out1: it is good for
thee to enter into the kingdom of God with one eye, rather than having two eyes
to be cast into hell;
And if thine eye cause thee to stumble, cast it out. See Mark
9:48 where their
worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched1.
Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched. See Mark
9:49 For every one1
shall be salted with fire2.
For every one. The sufferers mentioned in Mark
Shall be salted with fire. At this point, many acient authorities
add, "and every sacrifice shall be salted with salt". We have here
one of the most difficult passages in the Bible. If the word
"fire" were found in an isolated text it might be taken as a
symbol either of purification or of punishment. But the context here
determines its meaning, for it has just been taken twice as a symbol of
9:43,47). Salt is a symbol of that which preserves from decay. Now,
Jesus has just been talking about the future state, with its two conditions
or states of bliss and punishment. In both of these states the souls of men
are salted or preserved by a negative or false salt--a worm which feeds but
does not die, and a fire which consumes but refuses to go out. Though this
state is a condition of life, it is such a negative and false condition that
it is elsewhere termed a second death (Revelation
21:8). It is therefore rightly called a "salted" or preserved
condition, yet it contradicts the symbolic idea of saltness.
9:50 Salt is good:
but if the salt have lost its saltness, wherewith will ye season it1?
Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace one with
Salt is good: but if the salt have lost its saltness, wherewith will ye
season it? As we understand it, the difficulty of the passage lies in
this contradictory sense in which the term "salt" is used--a
contradiction in which the term "eternal life" also shares, for
eternal life is the constant contrast to life in hell, though that life also
is spoken of as eternal. The true Christian--the man who offers his body as
"a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God" (Romans
12:1)--is preserved by the true salt or element of preservation, which
is a divinely begotten life of righteousness within him.
Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace one with another. This is
the good state of preservation which a man is counseled to obtain, and not
to lose, since it will not be restored to him. The passage summarizes and
contrasts the two states of future preservation, one being the salt of
eternal life which preserves a man to enjoy the love of God in heaven, and
the other being the salt of fire which preserves him in hell to endure the
just punishment. See Matthew
5:13 and see Luke