Bible Commentaries
Matthew 14

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Verses 1-99

(M) 14:1 At that time Herod the tetrarch heard the report concerning Jesus.] Mk. has: “And the king, Herod, heard; for His name became notorious.” In Mk. the reference in φανερὸν γὰρ ἐγένετο τὸ ὄνομα αὐτοῦ seems to be to the mission of the Twelve which Mk. has just recorded: “They went out and preached, and cast out many demons,” etc. “And Herod heard; for His name became notorious.” Mt., by altering the order, has separated this incident of Herod from the charge to the Twelve, and, moreover, had omitted altogether the express statement that they went forth on their mission. He therefore introduces the section with a loose formula, ἐν ἐκείνῳ τῷ καιρῷ; cf. 11:25, 12:1. For βασιλεύς he substitutes the more precisely accurate τετραάρχης, which Lk. also has, and omits the surmises of the people. For�


(M) 2. And he said to his servants, This is John the Baptist; he is risen from the dead; and therefore the powers are active in him.] Mk. has: “And he said (ἔλεγεν, א A C L S1) that John the Baptizer has risen from the dead, and therefore the powers are active in him. But others were saying that it is Elijah. And others were saying that he is a prophet as one of the prophets. But Herod heard, and said, John whom I beheaded, he is risen.” Mt. seems to have had ἔλεγεν in 14.—βαπτιστής] for βαπτίζων, cf. the same change in 3:1. Mt. abbreviates Mk.’s double statement of Herod’s opinion and the surmises of other people.—αἱ δυνάμεις] elsewhere in this Gospel means “miraculous actions.” Here, as in Mar_14, it seems to denote the supernatural powers who operated through the risen Baptist.


(M) 3. For Herod seized John, and bound him, and threw him into prison on account of Herodias, the wife of Philip his brother.] Mk. has: “For he, Herod, had sent and seized John, and bound him in prison on account of Herodias, the wife of Philip his brother. Because he had married her.”—ἔδησεν] The aorists throughout the section are borrowed from Mk. They are practically equivalent to the English pluperfect.—ἐν φυλακῇ] i.e. Machærus, Josephus, Ant. xviii. 119.—Φιλίππου] not the tetrarch, but a son of Herod the Great and Mariamne. Josephus, Ant. xviii. 136, calls him “Herod.”


(M) 4. For John said to him, It is not lawful for thee to have her.]—αὐτῷ] Mk. has: τῷ Ἡρῴδῃ. Mt. as often omits Mk.’s ὅτι.—αὐτήν] Mk. has: τὴν γυναῖκα τοῦ�


(M) 5. And wishing to kill him, he feared the multitude, because they held him as a prophet.] Mk. has a different account: “And Herodias set herself against him, and wished to kill him, and could not. For Herod was fearing John, knowing him to be a man just and holy. And he was keeping him in prison; and having heard him, he was much perplexed, and was hearing him gladly.” Mt., in summarising Mk., seems to be influenced by another form of the story.


(M) 6. And on the birthday of Herod, the daughter of Herodias danced in the midst, and pleased Herod.] Mt. summarises Mk vv. 21 and 22.—γενεσίοις δὲ γενομένοις] For the dative, cf. Blass, p. 120, n. 3. The dative seems to be due to a fusion of Mk.’s τοῖς γενεσίοις with his preceding γενομένης ἡμέρας. γενέσια is used in the later Greek as equivalent to γενέθλια, a birthday; cf. Fayûm Towns, 11420, 1158, 11930.


(M) 7. Whence with an oath he promised to give to her whatever she should ask.] Mt. summarises Mk 23-24. For ὃ ἐάν, see on 11:29.—αἰτήσηται] Mk. has αἰτήσῃς and αἴτησον, but ᾐτήσατο in v. 25. For the middle as the stronger word, see Moulton, p. 160. For the juxtaposition of both voices, see Mark 10:35, Mark 10:38.


(M) 8. And she, being put forward by her mother, Give me, she says, here upon a dish the head of John the Baptist.] Mt. summarises Mk 24-25. In abbreviating, he shortens the narrative so far as to make it almost unintelligible. The reader must suppose that Herodias and Herod were living together, which Mk. has stated in v. 17 ὅτι αὐτὴν ἐγάμησεν, from the fact that the daughter of Herodias danced before Herod. He has also to infer that this took place at a public festivity from τοὺς συνανακειμένους of the next verse.


(M) 9. And being grieved, the king, because of his oaths, and because of those who sat with him, commanded (it) to be given.] Mk.’s βασιλεύς creeps in here, in spite of τετραάρχης in v. 1. The συνανακειμένους is a hint that Mt. has omitted much that precedes in Mk. The editor summarises Mk vv. 26, 27.


(M) 10. And he sent, and beheaded John in the prison.]


(M) 11. And his head was brought upon a dish, and given to the girl, and she brought it to her mother.] For the passives, see on 4:1, and Introduction, p. xxiii.


(M) 12. And his disciples came, and took up the corpse, and buried him.] Mk. has: “And His disciples heard it, and came (ἦλθαν) and took up his corpse and placed it in a sepulchre.” For προσέρχεσθαι as characteristic of Mt., see on 4:3.


(M) And came and brought word to Jesus.] Mk. has: “And the Apostles gather together to Jesus, and brought Him word, all things that they had done, and that they had taught. And He saith to them, Come ye yourselves privately into a desert place, and rest a little: for those who were coming and going were many, and they had no opportunity to eat.” In Mk. the execution of John is introduced parenthetically. The disciples go forth on their mission, 6:12. (As a result) Herod hears of the fame of Christ. He expresses his belief that John has risen. This gives occasion to the Evangelist to introduce the story of John’s execution. In Mt. the sequence of events is distorted. He has omitted the statement of the Apostolic Mission, and is obliged to introduce Herod’s belief that Jesus was the risen John, with a vague reference of time: “At that time.” But since he must have been aware that the story of John’s execution is introduced parenthetically to explain the superstition of Herod, it is very surprising to find him treating it as though it were recorded here in its proper chronological sequence: “His disciples came—and buried him, and came and told Jesus. And Jesus having heard, departed.” That is to say, the Evangelist treats John’s execution as though it happened historically before the events of Mark 6:30-44, and actually alters Mk vv. 30-31 to suit this artificial sequence. The reason for this goes back to ch. 10. The editor has there constructed a charge to the disciples which is quite unsuitable for the temporary Galilean missionary expedition described by Mk. He therefore omits the short description of this mission given by Mk. (6:12, 13). When, therefore, he comes to the statement of Mk. that the Apostles returned to Christ and brought news of their doings on this mission, the editor is compelled to omit this also. He therefore summarises Mk 30-31 into the sentence: “And coming, they reported to Jesus”; but has done so in words which it is impossible to avoid connecting with the preceding: “And his disciples came —and buried him.” That he intended this is shown by his insertion of: “And Jesus having heard,” and by his change of Mk.’s�


(M) 13. And Jesus heard it, and withdrew thence in a boat to a desert place privately; and the multitudes heard it, and followed Him on foot from the cities.—ἀνεχώρησεν ἐκεῖθεν] both favourite words of Mt.; see on 2:12 and 4:21. The last place mentioned was Nazareth, 13:54.—καὶ�


(M) 14. And going forth, He saw a great multitude, and had compassion on them, and healed their sick.] Mk. has: “And going forth, He saw a great multitude, and had compassion on them, because they were as sheep not having a shepherd: and He began to teach them much.”—ἐξελθών] in Mk. almost certainly means “having disembarked.” That is to say, the multitude reached the landing-place before the boat. This is probably the meaning also in Mt. For σπλαγχνίζεσθαι, see on 9:36. Mt. has already inserted the analogy of the sheep in 9:36.—ἐθεράπευσεν] Mt. substitutes healing for teaching in 19:2 and 21:14 = Mark 10:1, Mark 10:11:17, Mark 10:18.


(M) 15. And when it was evening, the disciples came to Him, saying, The place is desolate, and the hour is already a late one; send away the multitudes, that they may go away into the villages, and buy food for themselves.] Mk. has: “And already, it being a late hour (καὶ ἤδη ὥρας πολλῆς γενομένης), His disciples came to Him, and were saying that, The place is desolate, and already it is a late hour (καὶ ἤδη ὥρα πολλή). Send them away, that they may go away into the neighbouring hamlets and villages, and buy something for themselves to eat.”—ὀψίας δὲ γενομένης] Mt. avoids Mk.’s iterated ὥρα πολλή.—προσῆλθαν] on the aor. in a, see Blass, p. 45.—λέγοντες] Mt. as usual omits Mk.’s ὅτι.—παρῆλθεν] For παρέρχεσθαι of time, cf. 1 P 4:3. The meaning here seems to be, “the hour (for the customary meal) is already passed.”—τοὺς ὄχλους] The editor, who in v. 14 copied Mk.’s ὄχλον, slips back here into his customary plural. For the omission of Mk.’s�


(M) 16. And Jesus said to them, They need not go away; give ye to them to eat.]


(M) 17. And they say to Him, We have not here save five loaves, and two fishes.]


(M) 18. And He said, Bring them hither to Me.] Mk. has: “And He answered and said to them, Give ye to them to eat. And they say to Him, Are we to go away and buy two hundred pennyworth of bread, and give them to eat? And He saith to them, How many loaves have ye? go, see. And having ascertained, they say, Five, and two fishes.” Mt. summarises.—οὐκ ἔχομεν] The editor avoids the half-sarcastic question of the disciples.—οἱ δέ] for Mk.’s καί, as often. Mt. also avoids the question in the mouth of the Lord; see on 8:29, 16:9-10, 17:11, 14, 17, 18:1, 19:7, 26:18 and Introduction, p. xxxii.


(M) 19. And He commanded the multitudes to sit down upon the grass.] Mt. summarises Mk 39.

And took the five loaves, and the two fishes, and looked up into heaven, and blessed, and brake, and gave to the disciples the loaves, and the disciples to the multitudes.] The editor slightly alters Mk.—ἔδωκεν] For Mk.’s ἐδίδου, see Introduction, p. xx.—ἐπὶ τοῦ χόρτου] see Introduction, p. xxviii.


(M) 20. And they all ate, and were filled; and they took up the remain der of the fragments twelve baskets full.] For χορτάζειν, see on 5:6.


τὸ περισσεῦον τῶν κλασμάτων δώδεκα κοφίνους πλήρεις] for Mk.’s harsher κλάσματα δώδεκα κοφίνων πληρώματα. Mk. adds καὶ�M) 21. And they who ate were about five thousand men, besides women and children.]—οἱ δέ] as often for Mk.’s καί. The editor adds χωρὶς γυναικῶν καὶ παιδίων; cf. the similar insertion in 15:38.

12-21. There are a few verbal agreements between Mt. and Lk. as against Mk.; e.g.: Mat_13Luk_10 ὑπεχώρησεν; Mat_13 οἱ ὄχλοι ἠκολούθησαν αὐτῷ = Luk_11 οἱ δὲ ὄχλοι—ἠκολούθησαν αὐτῷ; Mat_14 ἐθεράπευσεν = Luk_11 θεραπείας ἰᾶτο; Mat_15 τοὺς ὄχλους = Luk_12 τὸν ὄχλον; Mat_17, Luk_18 οἱ δέ for Mk.’s καί; Mat_17 οὐκ ἔχομεν = Luk_13 οὐκ εἰσὶν ἡμῖν; Mat_15 βρώματα = Luk_13 βρώματα; Mat_21 τὸ περισσεῦον = Luk_17 τὸ περισσεῦσαν. Both omit Mk v. 31. And both avoid the questions in Mk 37, 38. It is not, however, probable that they had a second source besides Mk. See Introduction, p. xxxix.


(M) 22. And straightway He compelled the disciples to embark into a boat, and to go before Him to the other side, until1 He had sent away the multitudes.] Mk. has τὸ πλοῖον, and after πέραν adds πρὸς Βηθσαιδάν, and then has ἕως αὐτὸς�


(M) 23. And having sent away the multitudes, He went up into the mountain privately to pray.]—ἀπολύσας τοὺς ὄχλους] Mk. has the ambiguous�


(M) 23, 24. And when it was evening He was there alone, and the boat was already in the midst of the lake.] Mk. has: “And when it was evening the boat was in the midst of the lake, and He Himself was alone upon the land.”

Tossed by the waves, for the wind was contrary.] Mk. has: “And seeing them tossed in their rowing; for the wind was contrary to them.”—ὀψίας δέ] for Mk.’s καὶ ὀψίας, see Introduction, p. xx.—βασανίζειν] has occurred in 8:6 of a patient suffering from paralysis, in 8:29 = Mark 5:7 of the demons. Here Mk. uses it of the rowers exhausted by their efforts. Mt. transfers it to the boat buffeted by the waves.—μέσον τῆς θαλάσσης ἦν] So א C E F al latt. D has ἦν εἰς μέσον τῆς θαλάσσης. B 13 124 238 346 S1 S2 have σταδίους πολλοὺς�


(M) 25. And at the fourth watch of the night He came to them, walking over the sea.] Mk. has: “About the fourth watch of the night He cometh to them, walking on the sea (τῆς θαλάσσης), and wished to pass by them.” ἦλθεν for Mk.’s historic present ἔρχεται, as often. For the omission of Mk.’s last clause, see Introduction, p. xxxi. Mt. has ἐπὶ τὴν θάλασσαν for Mk.’s ἐπὶ τῆς θαλάσσης. Cf. 13:2 ἐπὶ τὸ́ αἰγιαλόν for Mk.’s ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς; 15:35�


(M) 26. And the disciples seeing Him walking on the sea, were troubled, saying that it is a phantasm; and they cried out from fear.] Mk. has: “And seeing Him walking on the sea, they thought that it is a phantasm; and they cried out �Mark 6:48.


(M) 27. And straightway Jesus spake to them, saying, Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid.] Mk. has: ἐλάλησεν μετʼ αὐτῶν καὶ λέγει αὐτοῖς. Mt. alters, as often, into ἐλάλησεν—λέγων. Cf. on 8:3.

28-31. The editor here inserts four verses from tradition:


(P) And Peter answered Him and said, Lord, if it be Thou, bid me come to Thee over the waters. And He said, Come. And Peter descended from the boat, and walked over the waters to come to Jesus. And seeing the wind to be strong, he feared; and, beginning to be immersed, he cried, saying, Lord, save me. And immediately Jesus stretched out His hand, and took hold of him, and saith to him, O thou of little faith, Why didst thou doubt?]—τὸν ἄνεμον] B2 C D al S1 S2 latt add ἰσχυρόν; omit א B.—καταποντίζεσθαι] occurs again in 18:6.—διστάζειν] occurs again in 28:17.—ὀλιγόπιστε] See on 6:30. Here the object of πίστις seems to be not so much the providence of God as the power of Christ and His good will.


(M) 32. And when they had gone up into the boat, the wind ceased.] Mk. has: “And He went up to them into the boat. And the wind ceased.”


(M) 33. And they in the boat worshipped Him, saying, Truly, Thou art God’s Son.] Mk. has: “And they marvelled exceedingly in themselves. For they understood not about the loaves; but their heart was hardened.” For the omission of this statement, see Introduction, p. xxxiii.


For προσκυνεῖν as characteristic of Mt., see on 2:2.

(M) 34. And having crossed over, they came to the land into Gennesaret.] Mk. has: “And having crossed over to the land, they came into Gennesaret; and came to moorings.”—Γεννησαρέτ] called in 1 Mac 11:67, in Josephus, and in the Talmud Gennesar. For a description of the plain, see G. Adam Smith’s Hist. Geog. 443, n. 1.


(M) 35. And the men of that place recognised Him, and sent into all the surrounding district, and brought to Him all who were in evil plight.] Mk. has: “And when they had gone forth from the boat, straightway recognising Him, they ran about all that country and began to bring (περιφέρειν) on beds those who were in evil plight, where they were hearing that He is. And wheresoever He entered into villages, or into cities, or into hamlets, they placed the infirm in the market-places.” Mt. summarises, and gives the impression that he understood Gennesaret to be not, as in Mk., a district, but a town. For Mk.’s�


(M) 36. And were beseeching Him that they might only touch the tassel of His garment; and as many as touched were completely cured.]—ἵνα μόνον] Mk. has ἴνα κἄν. For a similar change, see 9:21. For κρασπέδου, see on 9:20.—διεσώθησαν] Mk. has ἐσώζοντο. Mt.’s is a stronger word, “were (not ‘were being’) thoroughly, completely cured.”

M the Second Gospel.

L the Matthæan Logia.

S Syriac version: Sinaitic MS.

1 ἕως οὗ for Mk.’s ἕως. See on 26:36.

E editorial passages.

al i.e. with other uncial MSS.

S Syriac version: Curetonian.

P Palestinian traditions.

B. Babylonian Talmud.

Bibliographical Information
Driver, S.A., Plummer, A.A., Briggs, C.A. "Commentary on Matthew 14". International Critical Commentary NT. https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/icc/matthew-14.html. 1896-1924.