Matthew 8 Bible Commentary

John Wesley’s Explanatory Notes

(Read all of Matthew 8)

Verse 4

[4] And Jesus saith unto him, See thou tell no man; but go thy way, shew thyself to the priest, and offer the gift that Moses commanded, for a testimony unto them.

See thou tell no man|-Perhaps our Lord only meant here, Not till thou hast showed thyself to the priest-who was appointed to inquire into the case of leprosy. But many others he commanded, absolutely, to tell none of tho miracles he had wrought upon them. And this he seems to have done, chiefly for one or more of these reasons: 1. To prevent the multitude from thronging him, in the manner related Matthew 16:20,21.

For a testimony — That I am the Messiah; to them - The priests, who otherwise might have pleaded want of evidence. Leviticus 14:2. 5.

There came to him a centurion — A captain of a hundred Roman soldiers. Probably he came a little way toward him, and then went back. He thought himself not worthy to come in person, and therefore spoke the words that follow by his messengers. As it is not unusual in all languages, so in the Hebrew it is peculiarly frequent, to ascribe to a person himself the thing which is done, and the words which are spoken by his order. And accordingly St. Matthew relates as said by the centurion himself, what others said by order from him. An instance of the same kind we have in the case of Zebedee's children. From St. Matthew, Luke 7:1.

Verse 8

[8] The centurion answered and said, Lord, I am not worthy that thou shouldest come under my roof: but speak the word only, and my servant shall be healed.

The centurion answered — By his second messengers.

Verse 9

[9] For I am a man under authority, having soldiers under me: and I say to this man, Go, and he goeth; and to another, Come, and he cometh; and to my servant, Do this, and he doeth it.

For I am a man under authority — I am only an inferior officer: and what I command, is done even in my absence: how much more what thou commandest, who art Lord of all!

Verse 10

[10] When Jesus heard it, he marvelled, and said to them that followed, Verily I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel.

I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel — For the centurion was not an Israelite.

Verse 11

[11] And I say unto you, That many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven.

Many from the farthest parts of the earth shall embrace the terms and enjoy the rewards of the Gospel covenant established with Abraham. But the Jews, who have the first title to them, shall be shut out from the feast; from grace here, and hereafter from glory. Luke 13:29.

Verse 12

[12] But the children of the kingdom shall be cast out into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

The outer darkness — Our Lord here alludes to the custom the ancients had of making their feast in the night time. Probably while he was speaking this, the centurion came in person. 25:30.

Verse 14

[14] And when Jesus was come into Peter's house, he saw his wife's mother laid, and sick of a fever.

Peter's wife's mother — St. Peter was then a young man, as were all the apostles. Luke 4:38.

Verse 16

[16] When the even was come, they brought unto him many that were possessed with devils: and he cast out the spirits with his word, and healed all that were sick:

Luke 4:40.

Verse 17

[17] That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet, saying, Himself took our infirmities, and bare our sicknesses.

Whereby was fulfilled what was spoken by the Prophet Isaiah — He spoke it in a more exalted sense. The evangelist here only alludes to those words, as being capable of this lower meaning also. Such instances are frequent in the sacred writings, and are elegancies rather than imperfections. He fulfilled these words in the highest sense, by bearing our sins in his own body on the tree: in a lower sense, by sympathizing with us in our sorrows, and healing us of the diseases which were the fruit of sin. Isaiah 53:4.

Verse 18

[18] Now when Jesus saw great multitudes about him, he gave commandment to depart unto the other side.

He commanded to go to the other side — That both himself and the people might have a little rest.

Verse 19

[19] And a certain scribe came, and said unto him, Master, I will follow thee whithersoever thou goest.

Luke 9:57.

Verse 20

[20] And Jesus saith unto him, The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head.

The Son of man — The expression is borrowed from Daniel 7:13, and is the appellation which Christ generally gives himself: which he seems to do out of humility, as having some relation to his mean appearance in this world.

Hath not where to lay his head — Therefore do not follow me from any view of temporal advantage.

Verse 21

[21] And another of his disciples said unto him, Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father.

Another said — I will follow thee without any such view; but I must mind my business first. It is not certain that his father was already dead. Perhaps his son desired to stay with him, being very old, till his death.

Verse 22

[22] But Jesus said unto him, Follow me; and let the dead bury their dead.

But Jesus said — When God calls, leave the business of the world to them who are dead to God.

Verse 23

[23] And when he was entered into a ship, his disciples followed him.

Luke 8:22.

Verse 24

[24] And, behold, there arose a great tempest in the sea, insomuch that the ship was covered with the waves: but he was asleep.

The ship was covered — So man's extremity is God's opportunity.

Verse 26

[26] And he saith unto them, Why are ye fearful, O ye of little faith? Then he arose, and rebuked the winds and the sea; and there was a great calm.

Why are ye fearful — Then he rebuked the winds - First, he composed their spirits, and then the sea.

Verse 28

[28] And when he was come to the other side into the country of the Gergesenes, there met him two possessed with devils, coming out of the tombs, exceeding fierce, so that no man might pass by that way.

The country of the Gergesenes — Or of the Gadarenes - Gergesa and Gadara were towns near each other. Hence the country between them took its name, sometimes from the one, sometimes from the other.

There met him two demoniacs — St. Mark and St. Luke mention only one, who was probably the fiercer of the two, and the person who spoke to our Lord first. But this is no way inconsistent with the account which St. Matthew gives.

The tombs — Doubtless those malevolent spirits love such tokens of death and destruction. Tombs were usually in those days in desert places, at a distance from towns, and were often made in the sides of caves, in the rocks and mountains.

No one could pass — Safely. Luke 8:26.

Verse 29

[29] And, behold, they cried out, saying, What have we to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of God? art thou come hither to torment us before the time?

What have we to do with thee — This is a Hebrew phrase, which signifies. Why do you concern yourself about us? 2 Samuel 16:10.

Before the time — The great day.

Verse 30

[30] And there was a good way off from them an herd of many swine feeding.

There was a herd of many swine — Which it was not lawful for the Jews to keep. Therefore our Lord both justly and mercifully permitted them to be destroyed.

Verse 31

[31] So the devils besought him, saying, If thou cast us out, suffer us to go away into the herd of swine.

He said, Go — A word of permission only, not command.

Verse 34

[34] And, behold, the whole city came out to meet Jesus: and when they saw him, they besought him that he would depart out of their coasts.

They besought him to depart out of their coasts — They loved their swine so much better than their souls! How many are of the same mind!