saying, he hath done all things well; not by Beelzebub, the prince of devils, as said the Scribes and Pharisees; nor in any ostentatious manner, for the sake of the honour and applause of men, as they plainly saw; but for the good of mankind, and for the glory of God: and as all the miraculous works, which Christ did, were well done by him, so all other works of his: all that he did in eternity before the world was, he did well; what he did in the council and covenant of grace, in espousing the persons and cause of his people, and in all his federal transactions and suretyship engagements for them: he drew nigh to God on their account; he cheerfully agreed to what his Father proposed; he entered into a covenant with him, and took the care and charge of all his people, and of all promises and blessings of grace for them: and whatsoever he has done in time is well done; as his assumption of human nature; taking a nature, and not a person, this of a virgin, and an holy nature, though subject to sinless infirmities, and this in due and proper time; also his subjection to the law, moral, civil, and ceremonial, as it became him to fulfil all righteousness; and his preaching the Gospel, which he did with authority, and which he spake as never man did, and which he confirmed by his miracles; but especially the great work of redemption he came about, was well done by him: this he has thoroughly done; he has redeemed his people from the law, its curse, and condemnation; he has ransomed them out of the hands of Satan; he has saved them from all their sins; he has procured the remission of them, made reconciliation for them, and brought in an everlasting righteousness: he has done this work to the satisfaction of all parties; to the glory of all the divine perfections, of justice, as well as of grace and mercy; to the contentment and pleasure of all the divine persons; his Father, himself, and the blessed Spirit: and to the joy of angels and men: and all that he has done, or is now doing in heaven, as an advocate and intercessor, is done well; and we may be assured, that all that he will do hereafter, as the judge of quick and dead, will be done in like manner.
He maketh both the deaf to hear, and the dumb, or those that could not speak, at least without a great deal of difficulty,
to speak; an instance of both which there was in this single man's case.
the multitude being very great: for the number of men that ate, when the following miracle was wrought, were about four thousand; see Mark 8:9. The Vulgate Latin, Arabic, and Ethiopic versions add, "again"; referring to the former miracle of the five thousand, who were fed with five loaves, and two fishes, Mark 6:44.
And having nothing to eat; what they might have brought with them being expended, and they in a desert, where nothing was to be had, nor bought for money:
Jesus called his disciples to him, and saith unto them; See Gill on Matthew 15:32.
because, says he,
they have now been with me three days, and have nothing to eat; for if they brought any food with them, it was all spent, and they were in a wilderness, where nothing was to be got; where they had no house to go into, nor bed to lie upon, and no provisions to be bought; and in this case they had been two nights and three days; which showed great affection and zeal in these people, and a close attachment to Christ, in exposing themselves to all these difficulties and hardships, which they seemed to bear with much patience and unconcernedness. The Vulgate Latin, Syriac, Persic, and Ethiopic versions prefix the word "behold" to this clause, as expressing admiration at their stay with him so long in such a place.
They will faint by the way; for want of food their strength will be exhausted, their animal spirits will fail, their nerves will be loosened, they will not be able to perform their journey, or get to the end of it:
for divers of them came from far; perhaps some had followed him from the coasts of Tyre and Sidon, from whence he came last; and others from Decapolis, through the midst of the borders of which he passed hither; and others from different parts, who had heard of his coming; See Gill on Matthew 15:32.
from whence can a man satisfy these men with bread here in the wilderness? from what place, and by what ways and means can it be thought, that such a quantity of bread can be got at any rate in a desert, as to satisfy so large a number of hungry men? See Gill on Matthew 15:33.
and they said, seven. Matthew adds, "and a few little fishes", which are here afterwards mentioned.
and he took the seven loaves, and gave thanks, and brake them; See Gill on Matthew 15:36;
and gave to his disciples to set before them, the multitude,
and they did set them before the people; in which they were obedient to their Lord's commands, though they were so forgetful, unbelieving, and stupid.
and he blessed, and commanded to set them also before them. It looks, by this account, as if the fishes were blessed, and brake, and distributed separately, alter the blessing, breaking, and distribution of the bread; and so the Syriac version renders it, "upon whom also he blessed"; and the Persic thus, "and he also blessed the fishes"; but, according to Matthew they were both blessed, and brake, and distributed together, as it is highly reasonable to suppose they were both ate together; See Gill on Matthew 15:36.
and they took up of the broken meat that was left seven baskets; as many as there were loaves; See Gill on Matthew 15:37.
and he sent them away; some that came dumb, with their speech, and deaf, with their hearing; others that were maimed, with perfect healing of their wounds, and with their limbs sound and whole; others that came lame, he dismissed leaping; and others that were blind, with their sight restored to them, and all of them full.
and came into the parts of Dalmanutha; which Matthew calls, "the coasts of Magdala"; See Gill on Matthew 15:39. The Arabic version reads it, "Magdal"; and in two of Beza's copies it is read, "Madegada"; but the Syriac version reads, "Dalmanutha"; and the Persic, "Dalmanuth"; and the Ethiopic, "Dalmathy": it was a city in the coasts of Magdala, and is thought by Dr. Lightfoot to be the same with Tzalmon, or Salmon, a place often mentioned (f) in the Jewish writings.
(f) Misn. Celaim, c. 4. sect. 9. & Yebarnot, c. 16. sect. 6. T. Bab. Bava Bathra, fol. 82. 2.
and began to question with him; or to dispute with him, it being their manner to carry on disputations by questions and answers. The Persic version has the question they put, and about which they disputed, "if thou art the Christ"; in proof of which they required a sign:
seeking of him a sign from heaven, tempting him; See Gill on Matthew 16:1.
and saith, why doth this generation seek after a sign? when so many have been shown among them, and they will not believe:
verily I say unto you, there shall no sign be given to this generation: such as they desired; namely, one from heaven. The Evangelist Matthew adds, "but the sign of the Prophet Jonas"; See Gill on Matthew 16:4, Matthew 12:40.
and entering into the ship again; which brought him over, and waited for him:
departed to the other side; of the sea of Galilee, towards Bethsaida, Mark 8:22.
Neither had they in the ship with them more than one loaf; for thirteen passengers of them. The Persic version reads the whole thus: "and they forgot to take bread with them, not indeed one loaf, and there was no bread with them in the ship"; See Gill on Matthew 16:5.
saying, take heed, beware of the leaven of the Pharisees; and of the leaven of Herod: in Matthew, instead of "the leaven of Herod", it is read, "the leaven of the Sadducees": which are either the same, Herod and his courtiers being Sadducees, or favourers of them; or the Sadducees being sticklers for Herod, and his government, which the Pharisees had no good opinion of; or else distinct from one another; and so Christ cautions against the doctrines of the Pharisees, which regarded the traditions of the elders, and of the Sadducees, concerning the resurrection, and of the Herodians, who thought Herod to be the Messiah; and against the unreasonable request and demand of them all to have a sign from heaven, in proof of his own Messiahship; See Gill on Matthew 16:6.
saying, it is because we have no bread; that he says these words; tacitly chiding and reproving us, for our want of thought and care; See Gill on Matthew 16:7.
he saith unto them, why reason ye because ye have no bread? or imagine that I have given you this caution on that account; or are distressed because this is your case, as if you should be reduced to great difficulties, by reason of your forgetfulness and negligence:
perceive ye not yet, neither understand? the meaning of the parabolical expressions, which he had used them to; or his power in providing food for them, and supporting a great number of persons with very little food, of which they had some very late instances:
have ye your heart yet hardened? as after the first miracle; see Mark 6:52, for it might have been expected, that by a second miracle of the loaves, their understandings would have been more enlightened, and their faith increased, and that they would have relinquished their gross notions, their anxieties, doubts, and unbelief.
and having ears, hear ye not? They had their natural hearing, and yet made but little use of it; and did not so diligently attend to the sound of Christ's words: and though they had spiritual ears given them to hear, yet were very dull of, understanding, and taking in things:
and do ye not remember? the interpretation of parables formerly given, and the miracles of the loaves lately wrought.
how many baskets full of fragments took ye up? do not you remember? have you forgot what was so lately done? surely you cannot:
they say unto him, twelve. Their memories were hereby refreshed, and they call to mind the exact number of the baskets of fragments that were taken up, which were above double the number of the loaves, the multitude were fed with.
how many baskets full of fragments took ye up? this surely you must remember, it being so recent an action, but just done, as it were:
and they said, seven; for this, as yet, could not have slipped their memories; though they had, been reasoning among themselves because of their straitness of provisions, as if these things had never been done.
how is it that ye do not understand? my words concerning the leaven of the Pharisees, of the Sadducees, and of Herod, as to imagine I spoke of bread, taken in a literal sense; or that I concerned myself about the scantiness of your provisions, when you, might have learnt from my late miracles, how able I am to support you, if you had not so much as one loaf with you: wherefore it argues great want both of understanding and faith, and shows great stupidity, ignorance, and unbelief, to give such a sense of my words, and to be anxiously concerned on the score of your provisions.
and they bring a blind man unto him; for Christ had been here before, and was known by the inhabitants of the place; who, as soon as they heard of his arrival, and knowing what miracles were done by him, brought a poor blind man, of their town, to him, to be cured by him:
and besought him to touch him; having heard of, or seen cures performed by him this way. This man is an emblem of such who are spiritually blind: he had no natural sight at all; he could see nothing; he had not the least glimmering of any thing, until he was touched by Christ: so men, in a state of nature, are quite dark, even darkness itself, until they are made light by the Lord: they have no sight, nor sense of themselves, of their sinful, lost, and dangerous estate and condition they are in; they know not because they are blind, that they are wretched, and poor, and miserable, and naked: they have no sight of Christ, neither of the glory of his person, nor of the fulness of his grace, nor of the nature, necessity, and suitableness of his salvation: they are quite blind as to any saving knowledge of God in Christ, the way of life and peace by him, and the work of the Spirit of God upon the soul; or with regard to any spiritual experience of the power of Gospel truths, or views of the glories of another world: and as this man seemed to be unconcerned himself about the cure of his blindness, only his friends were affected with his case, and brought him to Christ, and solicited a cure, so it is with unregenerate men, they are insensible of their case, and so thoughtless of it, and unaffected with it, and do not, of themselves, seek for a deliverance out of it; nor do they make use of means for that purpose; but it becomes their friends, relations, and acquaintance, that are spiritual, who know their case, and their need of Christ, and his grace, to bring them to him under the means, and pray unto him, that he would put forth the mighty power of his grace upon them, and give them spiritual sight to see in what a lost condition they are, and their need of him.
and led him out of the town; to shun all appearance of vain glory and popular applause, being willing to do the miracle in a private manner; and because of the obstinacy and unbelief of the inhabitants of this place, who were not worthy to be witnesses of such a cure; see Matthew 11:21;
and when he had spit on his eyes; not as a cause of healing him; for whatever use spittle may be of to such that have weak eyes, it can have no causal influence upon, or be of any service, in a natural way, to a blind man to restore his sight unto him:
and put his hands upon him; as he sometimes did, when he healed persons of any disorder:
he asked him, if he saw ought; any object whatever, whether he could perceive he had any sight at all. Christ's taking the blind man by the hand, and leading him out or the town, and spitting on his eyes, and putting his hands upon him, and then asking him if he saw ought, are emblematical of what he does in spiritual conversion, when he turns men from darkness to light: he takes them by the hand, which expresses his condescension, grace, and mercy, and becomes their guide and leader; and a better, and safer guide they cannot have; he brings them by a way they know not, and leads them in paths they had not known before; makes darkness light before them, and crooked things straight, and does not forsake them: he takes them apart, and separates them from the rest of the world; he calls them out from thence to go with him, teaching them, that, when enlightened by him, they should have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, and the workers of them; for what communion has light with darkness? his putting spittle upon his eyes, may signify the means of grace, the eye salve of the word, which, when attended with a divine power, enlightens the eyes; and which power may be represented here by Christ's putting his hands upon the man; for the Gospel, without the power of Christ, Is insufficient to produce such an effect; but when it is accompanied with that, it always succeeds.
and said, I see men, as trees, walking: he saw some objects at a little distance from him, which, by their motion, he supposed to be men; otherwise his sight was so imperfect, that he could not have distinguished them from trees: he was capable of discerning the bulk of their bodies, and that they walked, or moved forward; but he could not distinguish the particular parts of their bodies; they seemed to be like trunks of trees, in an erect posture, and which he should have took for such, had it not been for their walking. As this man immediately, upon Christ's putting spittle on his eyes, and laying his hands on him, had sight given him, though it was very obscure and glimmering; so, as soon as ever the Gospel comes with power, it dispels the darkness of the mind, and introduces light; though at first it is but very small; it is let in gradually: the sinner is first convinced of the evil of his actions, and then of the sinfulness of his nature; he first sees the ability and suitableness of Christ as a Saviour, and after that his willingness, and his interest in him as such; and all this is commonly before he is so well acquainted with the dignity and infiniteness of his person, as the Son of God: and it is some time before he has his spiritual senses exercised to discern between good and evil, between truth and error; or arrives to a clear and distinct knowledge of Gospel truths, and a stability in them. Hence it is, that such are greatly harassed with Satan's temptations; are disquieted in their souls; are filled with doubts and fears, and are in danger of being imposed upon by false teachers.
and made him look up. This is omitted in the Syriac, Persic, and Ethiopic versions. The Vulgate Latin reads it, "he began to see"; and so Beza's ancient copy: but this he did before, upon the first imposition of hands on him. The Arabic version renders it, "he saw well": this is expressed afterwards. The words are an order, or command of Christ to the man to lift up his eyes, and try again how he could see, and whether any better than before, which he did:
and he was restored; his sight was restored to him as before, and he was perfectly cured of his blindness;
and saw every man clearly; or "all things", as the Vulgate Latin, Syriac, Arabic, Persic, and Ethiopic versions read: he saw every object distinctly, and afar off, as the word used also signifies; he could distinguish men from trees, and trees from men. This man, as before observed, was a very lively emblem of one that is spiritually enlightened by the grace of God: Christ first separated this man from the rest of the multitude; and such are first distinguished from others in election, and redemption, and calling, who are illuminated by the Spirit of God: means were made use of by Christ for healing this man; though the bare actions, without a divine power, would have been insufficient, as the spittle of his mouth, and the imposition of his hands: and, generally speaking, in the illumination of a sinner the word of Christ's mouth is a means; though this, without the efficacy of his grace, is not of itself sufficient. This man, upon his first reception of sight, had a very dim, obscure, and imperfect view of things; could not well distinguish one thing from another, though he saw. As at first conversion, the enlightened soul has but a very glimmering view of things, particularly of Christ, the glory and fulness of his person, the efficacy of his blood, the excellency of his righteousness, of his ability, willingness, and suitableness as a Saviour; and especially of those doctrines of the Gospel, that are more sublime and distinguishing. But as this man afterwards had a more clear, and distinct view of objects; so it is with true believers in Christ; their shining light increases, and shines more and more unto the perfect day. For Gospel light at present is not perfect in any such who have the clearest views of things, have some darkness and imperfection in them; though they may be said to see all things clearly in comparison of what they sometimes did, and others do: particularly saints, under the Gospel dispensation see more clearly than those under the legal dispensation did; the object was at a greater distance from them; they saw the promises afar off; and the medium of their sight or through which they saw were obscure types shadows and sacrifices and dark prophecies. Moses, and his law, had a veil over them; but New Testament saints with open face without a veil behold as in a glass the glory of the Lord Jesus and of Gospel truths: indeed, they that know most see things most clearly and speak of them most distinctly know but in part and prophesy but in part in comparison of the beatific vision; when saints shall see face to face and know, as they are known; they now see but through a glass darkly. How clearly will all things be seen in the new Jerusalem state when there will be no need of the light of the sun or moon of ordinances; but Christ, the Lamb will be the everlasting light thereof in which the nations of them that are saved shall walk!
Saying, neither go into the town: or "that town", as the Syriac, the town or city of Bethsaida:
nor tell it to any in the town; to any of the inhabitants of the town that he should meet with any where or at any time: the reason of this was not merely or only because Christ would have the miracle concealed; but chiefly because the inhabitants of this place were notorious for their impenitence and unbelief. Christ had done many wonderful works among them and yet they repented not; nor did they believe in him; but despised him, his doctrine and his miracles; and therefore for their neglect and contempt of such means he was determined to withdraw them from them. So Christ sometimes deals with nations cities and towns that disbelieve reject and despise his Gospel; he takes it away from them he orders his ministering servants to preach no more to them; no more to tell them of the good news of life and salvation by him: thus he dealt with the Jews who contradicted and blasphemed and judged themselves or by their conduct made themselves appear to be unworthy of the words of eternal life; he took away the kingdom of God or the Gospel from them and sent it among the Gentiles: and thus he threatened the church of Ephesus for leaving its first love to remove the candlestick out of its place in case of non-repentance; and a grievous judgment it is upon a place and people when God commands the clouds to rain no rain upon them, Isaiah 5:6; or, in other words when he enjoins his ministers no more to tell, or publish his Gospel to them; he determining to withdraw from them and have no more to do with them; so Christ and his disciples departed from this place, declared in the following verse.
into the towns Caesarea Philippi; in the jurisdiction of Philip, tetrarch of Iturea and Trachonitis; for this Caesarea was rebuilt by him and called so in honour of Tiberius Caesar; and the towns and villages adjacent to it are here intended: See Gill on Matthew 16:13;
and by the way he asked his disciples; as they were going from Galilee to those parts:
saying unto them; whom do men say that I am? not that he needed any information of this; for he knew not only what was said by men but What was in them; but he put this question, in order to bring out their sense of, and faith in him, and to impart something to them which was necessary they should be acquainted with; See Gill on Matthew 16:13, where it is read, "whom do men say that I, the son of man am?"
John the Baptist; which was the opinion of Herod, and others:
but some say Elias; that is the "Tishbite", whom the Jews in general expected in person before the coming of the Messiah and imagined that Jesus was he:
and others one of the prophets; as Jeremiah or Isaiah or some other. The Vulgate Latin reads, "as one of the prophets"; and so Beza's ancient copy as in Mark 6:15. All spake highly and honourably of him: the people in common did not look upon him as a mean person; they perceived by his doctrine and more especially by his miracles that he was an extraordinary one: the several persons which they differently took him to be and make mention of were such as were of great repute; as John the Baptist, who had lately, been among them and whom all held to be a prophet, and indeed was more than a prophet; and Elias who was so very zealous for the Lord of hosts and wrought many miracles in his day; and whose coming the Jews were in expectation of to usher in the Messiah; and none thought him less than one of the prophets; and all agreed he was an uncommon man; even one raised from the dead as he must be, if he was John the Baptist or Elias or one of the old prophets; but they knew him not at least did not confess him to be the Messiah; he not appearing as a temporal prince, they were taught to believe he would be; See Gill on Matthew 16:14.
and Peter answereth and saith unto him, thou art the Christ; the Messiah that was long ago promised and so often prophesied of in the books of Moses and the prophets; and whom the Jews have so much and long expected. This confession of Peter's in which all the apostles agreed with him speaks out what Jesus really was, and exceeds the most exalted sentiments which the people had of him: he was not the harbinger of the Messiah but the Messiah himself; not Elias in whose Spirit his forerunner was to come and did come; nor any one of the prophets; but he who was spoken of by all the holy prophets; which have been since the beginning of the world. Not one of the various opinions of the people being just, and answering the true character of Jesus, he demands the sense of his disciples which is here given by Peter in their name, and which was right; and on account of which he declared Peter blessed and ascribed his knowledge of him not to flesh and blood but to the revelation of his Father. The Syriac and Persic versions add, "the Son of the living God"; and so Beza found it in one ancient copy; but it may be it is only taken from Mat_16:16; See Gill on Matthew 16:16.
that they should tell no man of him; that he was the Messiah, and the Son of God; See Gill on Matthew 16:20.
that the son of man must suffer many things; meaning himself, as that he should be betrayed, apprehended, and bound, should be smitten, spit upon, buffeted, and scourged; and which things must be done, and he suffer them, because it was so determined by God, and foretold in the Scriptures:
and be rejected of the elders, and of the chief priests and Scribes; which composed the grand sanhedrim of the nation, and are the builders that were prophesied of by whom he should be rejected, Psalm 118:22,
and be killed; in a violent manner; his life be taken away by force, without law, or justice:
and after three days rise again: not after three days were ended, and on the fourth day, but after the third day was come; that is, "on the third day", as the Syriac, Arabic, Persic, and Ethiopic versions read; and even the Pharisees themselves thus understood Christ, Matthew 27:63, so the phrase, "after eight days", is used for the eighth day, being come, or that same day a week later; see Luke 9:28 compared with Matthew 17:1.
and Peter took him, and began to rebuke him. Peter might more especially be concerned at this free and open account Christ gave of his sufferings and death, because he had just now acquainted him, that he should have the keys of the kingdom of heaven; by which he might understand some high post in the temporal kingdom of the Messiah he expected; and immediately to hear of his sufferings and death, damped his spirits, and destroyed his hopes, and threw him into such difficulties he was not able to remove; and therefore he takes Christ aside, and very warmly expostulates with him about what he had said, and chides him for it, and entreats him that he would not think, or talk of such like things: the words of Peter are recorded by Matthew; see Gill on Matthew 16:22.
and looked on his disciples; he cast his eye toward, them at the same time, and expressed to them the same displeasure in his countenance, they being of the same mind:
he rebuked Peter, saying, get thee behind me, Satan: for thou savourest not the things that be of God; things which were according to the will of God, as the sufferings of Christ were: they were according to the determinate counsel of his will; what he had determined in his purposes and council should be; and what he had declared in the Scriptures of truth, the revelation of his will, would be; and in which, according to them, he should have a great concern himself, Isaiah 53:6, and whereby all his divine perfections would be glorified, and therefore may well be said to be the things of God; and which ought to be savoured, minded, and attended to, as things of the greatest moment and importance: and which, though the apostle had often read of in the books of the Old Testament; yet either had not a clear understanding of them, as being the will of God; or however, they were greatly out of his view at this time, his mind being possessed with notions of a temporal kingdom, and of worldly honour and grandeur: wherefore it follows,
but the things that be of men; as were the notions of Christ's being a temporal prince, that would set up a worldly kingdom, and deliver the Jews from the Roman yoke, and make his subjects happy, with an affluence of all worldly things; and particularly his favourites, as the disciples were: these were schemes of men's devising, and were suited to the corrupt nature, and carnal inclinations of men; and these things at present too much possessed Peter's mind: wherefore the Lord rebuked him in a very severe, though just manner; being touched in his most tender part, and dissuaded from that which his heart was set upon, and he came into the world for; whose keen resentment is seen by using a phrase he never did but to the devil himself, Matthew 4:10; See Gill on Matthew 16:23.
with his disciples also; for what he was about to say, concerned them both:
whosoever will come after me; in a spiritual sense, as this multitude did in a natural one, and which is the same as to be a disciple of his:
let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me; signifying, that his followers must deny themselves of worldly advantages, and suffer many things, as well as he, which he had been but just before acquainting his disciples with; See Gill on Matthew 16:24.
shall lose it: he shall not enjoy it with honour and comfort now, and much less with peace, pleasure, and happiness hereafter, but shall be under the power of the second death:
but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the Gospel's; that is, shall willingly part with it when he is called to it, rather than deny Christ and his Gospel,
the same shall save it: though he will lose it now, he will find it again in the resurrection of life; for he will rise to eternal life; when such, who have apostatized from Christ, will rise to shame, and everlasting contempt: this man will have greatly the advantage over such; they will die the second death, or be destroyed soul and body in hell; and he will live for ever with Christ, in endless pleasure and glory; See Gill on Matthew 16:25.
if he shall gain the whole world; were that possible to be done, and which the ambitious, worldly man is desirous of; yet supposing he: had his desire, of what avail would this be in the upshot of things, should the following be his case, as it will,
and lose his own soul? which is immortal and everlasting, when the world, and the glory of it pass away, and so is of more worth than the whole world. The world can only be enjoyed for a season, and that with a great deal of fatigue and trouble; but the soul continues for ever; and if it is lost and damned, its torment always abides, and the smoke of it ascends for ever, its worm never dies, and its fire is never quenched; See Gill on Matthew 16:26.