Matthew 9:11 MEANING

Matthew 9:11
(11) When the Pharisees saw it.--"Scribes of the Pharisees" (Mark 2:16). These were probably those who had been present at the healing of the paralytic. the scribes who had come from Jerusalem. They, of course, would not enter the publican's house, but they stood outside and watched the mingled guests with wonder, and asked their two-fold question, "Why do ye eat and drink . . . (Luke 5:30)?" "Why doth your Master . . .?"

Verse 11. - And when the Pharisees. Mentioned thus far only in Matthew 3:7 and Matthew 5:20. This is, therefore, the first time that Matthew speaks of them as coming into direct contact with Jesus. Although Mark (cf. Luke) says that the objection was raised by those among the Pharisees who were also scribes (οἱ γραμματεῖς τῶν Φαρισαίων), yet the difference of expression from that in ver. 3 must not be overlooked. There the fact that they were scribes, accustomed to weigh the statements of the Law about blasphemy, etc., was prominent in the mind of the narrator; here it is rather the fact that they were Pharisees, men who by their very name professed to hold aloof from those who neglected the Law. Saw it. They could freely come into the court of the house, and when there could both see and hear what was passing in the rooms that opened into it. They said; ἔλεγον: dieebaat (Vulgate); "were saying." Their eager talk is brought vividly before us. Unto his disciples. Probably these were nearer to the Pharisees than Jesus himself was, or perhaps the Pharisees thought it easier to attack Jesus through them. On the naturalness of this remark in the mouth of Pharisees, vide Schurer, II. 2. p. 25. Why eateth your Master (διδάσκαλος); Teacher (Revised Version margin) is preferable, for both Pharisees and disciples realized that even Jesus' actions were intended to instruct his followers. But the reason for this action (why, cf. also ver. 14) they did not understand. It is possible that the order of the Greek points to irony on the part of the Pharisees. The man who presumes to be called Teacher, and whom the disciples accept as such, sets at defiance the primary rules of right and wrong. Professor Marshall (Expositor, IV. 4. p. 222) explains the variants "teacher" (here) and "drink" (parallel passages) by the original Aramaic word for "drink" (רוא) having been written here with the peculiar spelling of the Samaritan Targum (רבא). With (the, Revised Version) publicans and sinners? Who form but one class (τῶν τελωνῶν καὶ ἁμαρτωλῶν). (For the thought, cf. Matthew 11:19; Luke 15:2; also Psalm 101:5 [LXX.].

9:10-13 Some time after his call, Matthew sought to bring his old associates to hear Christ. He knew by experience what the grace of Christ could do, and would not despair concerning them. Those who are effectually brought to Christ, cannot but desire that others also may be brought to him. Those who suppose their souls to be without disease will not welcome the spiritual Physician. This was the case with the Pharisees; they despised Christ, because they thought themselves whole; but the poor publicans and sinners felt that they wanted instruction and amendment. It is easy, and too common, to put the worst constructions upon the best words and actions. It may justly be suspected that those have not the grace of God themselves, who are not pleased with others' obtaining it. Christ's conversing with sinners is here called mercy; for to promote the conversion of souls is the greatest act of mercy. The gospel call is a call to repentance; a call to us to change our minds, and to change our ways. If the children of men had not been sinners, there had been no need for Christ to come among them. Let us examine whether we have found out our sickness, and have learned to follow the directions of our great Physician.And when the Pharisees saw it,.... The feast Matthew made, the guests that were invited, and particularly that Christ sat down to meat with such vile and wicked company; they and the Scribes, as Mark and Luke add, who generally were together, of the same complexion, equally enemies to Christ, and watchful observers of his conduct, and pretending to a more strict and religious way of life, were offended at all this;

and said to his disciples, which they chose to do, rather than to Christ himself; partly, because they were afraid to engage in a dispute with him, who had just given them a full proof of his omniscience, that he knew the very thoughts and reasonings of their minds, and had so confounded them already, both by his arguments and miracles; and partly, because they might think themselves a match for the disciples, and might hope to stumble and ensnare them, and prevail upon them to quit their profession, and leave following him, whom they would suggest could not be a good man, that was guilty of so evil an action; which, with them, was very unlawful and abhorrent, as that for which they accuse and reprove him,

why eateth your master with publicans and sinners? The "publicans", or gatherers of the Roman tax, toll, or tribute of any sort, whether Jews or Gentiles, were persons of a very infamous character; and, as here, so often, in Jewish writings, are ranked with "sinners", and those of the worst sort: so false swearing was allowed to be made , "to murderers, and to robbers, and to publicans" (o); and so "publicans and thieves" are joined together by Maimonides (p), and a publican is said by him to be as a thief. And indeed this was not only the sense of the Jews, but also of other people, according to those words of Zeno the poet, (q), "all publicans are all of them robbers": though this was not originally their character; for formerly the best of the Roman gentry were employed in this office, till by malpractices it became scandalous, when the meaner sort of people, yea, even vassals, were put into it (r). Now, with such sort of men as these the Pharisees held it unlawful to have any sort of conversation; they expelled such their society, would not dwell with them in the same house, nor eat or drink with them; concerning which, their rules and methods are these;

"a companion, or friend, who becomes the king's collector, or a "publican", or the like, they drive him from society with them: if he abstains from his evil works, then he is as any other man (s).''


"when the king's collectors enter into a house to dwell, all that are in the house are defiled (t).''

Moreover, it is (u) said, that

"the former saints ate their common food with purity, i.e. with their hands washed, and took care of all defilements every day; and these were called Pharisees; and this sect was exceedingly holy, and was the way of piety; for such a man was separated, and he abstained from the rest of the people, and he did not touch them, , "nor did he eat and drink with them".''

It was a general rule with them, that a clean person ought not to eat with an unclean, as they judged the common people to be; nay, that a Pharisee, who was unclean himself, might not eat with another person that was so, and which they boast of, as a great degree of holiness.

"Come and see, (say they (w),) to what a pitch purity has arrived in Israel; for they not only teach, that a pure person may not eat with one that is defiled, but that one that has a "gonorrhoea" may not eat with another that has one, lest he should be used to transgress this way; and a Pharisee that has a "gonorrhoea" may not eat with a common person that has one, lest he should be used to do so.''

Hence they looked upon Christ and his disciples as such, and would insinuate that they were evil men, who had no regard to purity of life and conversation.

(o) Mis. Nedarim, c. 3. sect. 4. (p) Hilch. Gezela, c. 5. sect. 9. 11. (q) Apud Fabricii Graec. Biblioth. l. 2. c. 22. p. 755. (r) Alex. ab Alex. Genial. Dier. l. 2. c. 29. (s) Maimon. Mishcab & Moshab, c. 10. sect. 8. (t) lb. c. 12. sect. 12. (u) lb. Hilchoth Tumaot Okelim. c. 16. sect. 12. (w) T. Bab. Sabbat, fol. 13. 1.

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