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The Catholic Study Bible A special version of the New American Bible, with a wealth of background information useful to Catholics.

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Commentary on Matthew

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Commentary spanning earlier chapters

8, 1–9, 38 :

This narrative section of the second book of the gospel is composed of nine miracle stories, most of which are found in Mark, although Matthew does not follow the Marcan order and abbreviates the stories radically. The stories are arranged in three groups of three, each group followed by a section composed principally of sayings of Jesus about discipleship. Verse 9, 35 is an almost verbatim repetition of 4, 23 . Each speaks of Jesus' teaching, preaching, and healing. The teaching and preaching form the content of chs 5–7 ; the healing, that of chs 8–9 . Some scholars speak of a portrayal of Jesus as “Messiah of the Word” in 5–7 and “Messiah of the Deed” in 8–9. That is accurate so far as it goes, but there is also a strong emphasis on discipleship in 8–9; these chapters have not only christological but ecclesiological import.

9, 1 :

His own town: Capernaum; see 4, 13 .

9, 3 :

Scribes: see the note on Mk 2, 6 . Matthew omits the reason given in the Marcan story for the charge of blasphemy: “Who but God alone can forgive sins?” (Mk 2, 7 ).

9, 6 :

It is not clear whether “But that you may know … to forgive sins” is intended to be a continuation of the words of Jesus or a parenthetical comment of the evangelist to those who would hear or read this gospel. In any case, Matthew here follows the Marcan text.

9, 8 :

Who had given such authority to human beings: a significant difference from Mk 2, 12 (“They … glorified God saying, ‘We have never seen anything like this.’ ”). Matthew's extension to human beings of the authority to forgive sins points to the belief that such authority was being claimed by Matthew's church.

9, 9–17 :

In this section the order is the same as that of Mk 2, 13–22 .

9, 9 :

A man named Matthew: Mark names this tax collector Levi ( 2, 14 ). No such name appears in the four lists of the twelve who were the closest companions of Jesus ( 10, 2–4; Mk 3, 16–19; Lk 6, 14–16; Acts 1, 13 [eleven, because of the defection of Judas Iscariot]), whereas all four list a Matthew, designated in 10, 3 as “the tax collector.” The evangelist may have changed the “Levi” of his source to Matthew so that this man, whose call is given special notice, like that of the first four disciples ( 4, 18–22 ), might be included among the twelve. Another reason for the change may be that the disciple Matthew was the source of traditions peculiar to the church for which the evangelist was writing.

9, 10 :

His house: it is not clear whether his refers to Jesus or Matthew. Tax collectors: see the note on 5, 46 . Table association with such persons would cause ritual impurity.

9, 11 :

Teacher: see the note on 8, 19 .

9, 12 :

See the note on Mk 2, 17 .

9, 13 :

Go and learn … not sacrifice: Matthew adds the prophetic statement of Hos 6, 6 to the Marcan account (see also 12, 7 ). If mercy is superior to the temple sacrifices, how much more to the laws of ritual impurity.

9, 15 :

Fasting is a sign of mourning and would be as inappropriate at this time of joy, when Jesus is proclaiming the kingdom, as it would be at a marriage feast. Yet the saying looks forward to the time when Jesus will no longer be with the disciples visibly, the time of Matthew's church. Then they will fast: see Didache 8, 1 .

9, 16–17 :

Each of these parables speaks of the unsuitability of attempting to combine the old and the new. Jesus' teaching is not a patching up of Judaism, nor can the gospel be contained within the limits of Mosaic law.

9, 18–34 :

In this third group of miracles, the first ( 18–26 ) is clearly dependent on Mark (Mk 5, 21–43 ). Though it tells of two miracles, the cure of the woman had already been included within the story of the raising of the official's daughter, so that the two were probably regarded as a single unit. The other miracles seem to have been derived from Mark and Q respectively, though there Matthew's own editing is much more evident.

9, 18 :

Official: literally, “ruler.” Mark calls him “one of the synagogue officials” (Mk 5, 22 ). My daughter has just died: Matthew heightens the Marcan “my daughter is at the point of death” (Mk 5, 23 ).

9, 20 :

Tassel: possibly “fringe.” The Mosaic law prescribed that tassels be worn on the corners of one's garment as a reminder to keep the commandments (see Nm 15, 37–39; Dt 22, 12 ).

9, 24 :

Sleeping: sleep is a biblical metaphor for death (see Ps 87, 6 LXX; Dn 12, 2; 1 Thes 5, 10 ). Jesus' statement is not a denial of the child's real death, but an assurance that she will be roused from her sleep of death.

9, 27–31 :

This story was probably composed by Matthew out of Mark's story of the healing of a blind man named Bartimaeus (Mk 10, 46–52 ). Mark places the event late in Jesus' ministry, just before his entrance into Jerusalem, and Matthew has followed his Marcan source at that point in his gospel also (see 20, 29–34 ). In each of the Matthean stories the single blind man of Mark becomes two. The reason why Matthew would have given a double version of the Marcan story and placed the earlier one here may be that he wished to add a story of Jesus' curing the blind at this point in order to prepare for Jesus' answer to the emissaries of the Baptist ( 11, 4–6 ) in which Jesus, recounting his works, begins with his giving sight to the blind.

9, 27 :

Son of David: this messianic title is connected once with the healing power of Jesus in Mark (10, 47–48 ) and Luke ( 18, 38–39 ) but more frequently in Matthew (see also 12, 23; 15, 22; 20, 30–31 ).

9, 32–34 :

The source of this story seems to be Q (see Lk 11, 14–15 ). As in the preceding healing of the blind, Matthew has two versions of this healing, the later in 12, 22–24 and the earlier here.

9, 34 :

This spiteful accusation foreshadows the growing opposition to Jesus in chs 11 and 12 .

9, 35 :

See the notes on 4, 23–25 and 8, 1–9, 38 .

9, 36 :

See Mk 6, 34; Nm 27, 17; 1 Kgs 22, 17 .

9, 37–38 :

This Q saying (see Lk 10, 2 ) is only imperfectly related to this context. It presupposes that only God (the master of the harvest) can take the initiative in sending out preachers of the gospel, whereas in Matthew's setting it leads into ch 10 , where Jesus does so.

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