The Fourfold Gospel
J. W. McGarvey and Philip Y. Pendleton (1914)

P A R T    S I X T H.
(Time: One Year Less One Week.) 
(Galilee, probably Capernaum, Spring A. D. 29.)
aMATT. XV. 1-20; bMARK VII. 1-23; dJOHN VII. 1. 

      d1 And after these things Jesus walked in Galilee: for he would not walk in Judæa, because the Jews sought to kill him. [John told us in his last chapter that the passover was near at hand. He here makes a general statement which shows that Jesus did not attend this passover. The reason for his absence is given at John v. 18.]   a1 Then there come to Jesus from Jerusalem   b1 And there are gathered together unto him the Pharisees, and certain of the scribes, who had come from Jerusalem,   2 and had seen that some of his disciples ate their bread with defiled, that is, with unwashen, hands. [Evidently several days intervened between the address of John vi. and the events recorded here, for the Pharisees and scribes would not be likely to leave Jerusalem until after the passover.*  3 (For the Pharisees, and all the Jews, except they wash their hands diligently, eat not, holding the tradition of the elders;   4 and when they come from the [393] market-place, except they bathe themselves, they eat not; and many other things there are, which they have received to hold, washings of cups, and pots, and brasen vessels.)   5 And the Pharisees and scribes asked him, asaying, bWhy walk not thy disciples according to the tradition of the elders, but eat their bread with defiled hands?   a2 Why do thy disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? for they wash not their hands when they eat bread. [For former comment on the custom of washing or dipping see page 312. Belief in the tradition of the elders was the fundamental peculiarity of the Pharisaic system. They held that these traditions, or oral expositions of and additions to the law, were revealed to Moses along with the law, and were communicated by him orally to the elders of the people, by whose successors they had been handed down through each successive generation. They regarded these traditions as equal in authority with the written word. Various types of uncleanness are specified in the Mosaic law. Traditions extended the idea of uncleanness so as to hold the man as probably unclean who had been in the marketplace, where he might have touched an unclean person, and to hold certain cups, pots, and brazen vessels as ceremonially unclean when neither the laws of Moses nor the laws of hygiene declared them to be so. Since the law of Moses ordered the unclean to dip himself in a bath for his cleansing, the tradition of the elders required a like dipping in these cases of uncleanness which they had invented. When we remember that bathing was a daily practice among the Pharisees, we are less surprised at this observance. As to the theory that the tradition of the elders was derived from Moses, Jesus here flatly contradicts it. There is no trustworthy evidence to show that it is of higher antiquity than the time of the return from the Babylonian captivity.]   3 And he answered and said unto them, Why do ye also transgress the commandment of God because of your tradition?   7 Ye hypocrites, bWell did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites [Isa. xxix. 13],asaying, bas it is written, This people [394] honoreth me with their lips, But their heart is far from me.   7 But in vain do they worship me, Teaching as their doctrines the precepts of men.   8 Ye leave the commandment of God, and hold fast the tradition of men.   9 And he said unto them, Full well do ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your tradition. [These Pharisees coming from Jerusalem could find nothing wherein Jesus or his disciples transgressed the law, so they eagerly grasped this transgression of the tradition as affording ground for an accusation. Jesus does not deny their charge, but justifies his disciples by attacking the whole traditional system, basing his attack upon a pointed prophecy which condemns it. It is hard for us to learn and apply the distinction between serving God as God wishes to be served, and serving him according to our own wishes and notions.]   a4 For God {bMoses} said [that is, God said it through Moses],   Honor thy father and thy mother; and, He that speaketh evil of father or mother, let him die the death [see Ex. xx. 12; Deut. v. 16; Ex xxi. 17; Lev. xx. 9]:  11 but ye say, If a man {aWhosoever} shall say to his father or his mother, That wherewith thou mightest have been profited by me bis Corban, that is to say, Given to God;  a6 he shall not honor his father.   b12 ye no longer suffer him to do ought for his father or his mother; aAnd ye have made {b13 making} void the word of God by {abecause of} your tradition. bwhich ye have delivered: and many such like things ye do. [Leaving for a moment the main question concerning uncleanness and washing, Jesus makes good his indictment against their tradition by giving an example of the mischievous way in which it set aside God's commandments. The law required the honoring of parents, and for any one to cast off his parents in their old age, thus subjecting them to beggary or starvation, was to do more than to speak evil of them. Such conduct was practically to curse them, and to incur the death penalty for so doing. But at this point the Pharisees interfered with their tradition, which taught that [395] a son could say of that part of his estate by which his parents might be profited, It is a gift; that is, a gift to God, and by thus dedicating that part to God, he would free himself from his obligation to his parents. Thus tradition undid the law. God's law leads to pure and acceptable worship, while human additions and amendments make worship vain, if not abominable. There is probably not one such addition or amendment which does not to a greater or less degree make some commandment void.]   14 And he called to him the multitude again, and said unto them [Having been accused by the scribes and Pharisees of a breach of their tradition, Jesus points out to them generally the iniquity of tradition, for it lay within their power as leaders to remedy the whole system of things. Having done this, he turns to the multitude and answers before them as to the offense with which he is specifically charged. Thus he gives to the leaders general principles, and to the common people the single instance], Hear me all of you, and understand:   a11 Not that which entereth into the mouth defileth a man; but that which proceedeth out of the mouth, this defileth a man.   b15 there is nothing from without a man, that going into him can defile him: but the things which proceed out of the man are those that defile the man.   17 And when he was entered into the house from the multitude,   a12 Then came the disciples, and said unto him, Knowest thou that the Pharisees were offended, when they heard this saying? [The entire speech offended them. He charged them with hypocrisy. He showed that their tradition, which they reverenced as a revelation from God, led them into sin, and he disturbed their self-complacency by showing that the ceremonial cleanness, which was founded on tradition, and in which they prided themselves, was worthless in comparison with the moral cleanness required by God's law, which they had ignored. It grieved the disciples to see Jesus offend these reverend gentlemen from Jerusalem. Like many modern disciples their respect for men counteracted their zeal for truth.]   13 But he answered and said, Every [396] plant which my heavenly Father hath planted not, shall be up rooted up. [God had planted the law with its doctrine: he had planted the Hebrew religion as given by Moses. He had not planted the tradition of the elders; so it, and the religion founded upon it, was doomed to be rooted up.]   14 Let them alone: they are blind guides. And if the blind guide the blind, both shall fall into a pit. [This proverbial expression is found in the Sermon on the Mount. See page 262. There it taught that the disciple could expect to attain no higher felicity than his teacher. Here it teaches the lesson of patience, and is akin to the words of David, which begin, "Fret not thyself because of evil-doers" (Ps. xxxvii. 1, 2). The words of Jesus are full of encouragement to those who adhere to the simple teachings of God; for they show that God guarantees that every error shall be uprooted, and that every teacher of error or false religion shall participate in the judgment which uproots, and shall fall into the pit of ruin; and his disciples, no matter how numerous, shall share his fate. In this particular instance, the destruction of Jerusalem was the pit. The Jewish leaders led their disciples into it, and God uprooted their system of tradition, that the pure gospel might be sowed in the room which they occupied.]   15 And Peter answered and said unto him, Declare unto us the parable. [The word "parable" is used here in its looser sense to indicate an obscure saying.]   bhis disciples asked of him the parable. [They asked what he meant by the words contained in the eleventh verse.   18 And he saith {asaid,} bunto them, aAre ye even yet bso without understanding also? [It was to be expected that the multitude, swayed by the teaching of the Pharisees, would be slow to grasp what Jesus said about uncleanness; but the disciples, having been so long taught of him, and having felt free to eat with unwashed hands, should have been more quick of understanding.] Perceive ye not, that whatsoever from without goeth into the man, it cannot defile him;   19 because it goeth not into his heart, but apasseth into the {bhis} belly, and goeth out into {aand is cast out into} the [397] draught? bThis he said, making all meats clean.   20 And he said, a18 But the things which proceed out of the mouth come forth out of the heart; and they defile the man. bThat which proceedeth out of the man, that defileth the man.   21 For from within, out of the heart of men, acome forth {bproceed,} aevil thoughts, bfornications, thefts, murders, adulteries,   22; covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye [an envious eye] afalse witness, railings: {brailing,} pride, foolishness:   23 all these evil things proceed from within, and   a20 these are the things which defile the man; but to eat with unwashen hands, defileth not the man. [Thus Jesus sets forth the simple doctrine that a man's moral and spiritual state is not dependent upon the symbolic cleanness of his physical diet, much less is it dependent on ceremonial observances in regard to things eaten, or the dishes from which they are eaten. Of course, Jesus did not mean at this time to abrogate the Mosaic law of legal uncleanness. These uncleannesses worked no spiritual defilement, but were merely typical of such; for the food in no way touched or affected the mind or soul, the fountains of spiritual life, but only the corporeal organs, which have no moral susceptibility. The Pharisees had erred in confusing legal and spiritual defilement, and had added error to error by multiplying the causes of defilement in their tradition. By thus showing that legal defilement was merely symbolic, Jesus classed it with all the other symbolism which was to be done away with when the gospel reality was fully ushered in (Col. ii. 16, 17). In saying, therefore, that Jesus made all meats clean, Mark does not mean that Jesus then and there repealed the law. The declaration of such repeal came later (Acts x. 14, 15). He means that he there drew those distinctions and laid down those principles which supplanted the Mosaic law when the kingdom of God was ushered in on the day of Pentecost. Here was the fountain whence Paul drew all his teaching concerning things clean and unclean.] [398]

* It was a whole year.--J. W. McG.
[FFG 393-398]

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