Matthew 15:10-28

Matthew 15:10-28
Ordinary A38


10 Then he called the crowd toA him and said to them, “ListenB and understand:C 11 it is not what goes into the mouth that defilesD a person,E but it is what comesF out of the mouth that defiles.” 

Notes on verses 10-11

A “called…to” = proskaleo. From pros at, to, toward, with) + kaleo (to call by name, invite, to name, bid, summon, call aloud); {related to keleuo (to command, order, direct); from kelomai (to urge on)}. This is to call to oneself, summon.
B “listen” = akouo. This is hear or listen, but it also means to understand by hearing. This is where the word “acoustics” comes from.
C “understand” = suneimi. From sun (with, together with) + hiemi (to send, put). This is to put together – used figuratively to mean understand, consider, gain insight. It is bringing together facts or notions and synthesizing them into a whole. It is making a summary to arrive at a final conclusion that includes how to apply the insight to life. It can also imply acting piously or being wise.
D “defiles” = koinoo. 14x in NT. From koinos (common, shared, unclean, ritually profane); probably from sun (with, together with). This is to make something common i.e. treated as ordinary and so not ceremonially pure/sacred. So, it can also mean to pollute or desecrate.
E “person” = anthropos. Probably from aner (man, male, husband) + ops (eye, face). This is human, humankind. Used for all genders.
F “comes” = ekporeuomai. From ek (from, from out of) + poreuomai (to go, travel, journey, die; refers to transporting things from one place to another; focuses on the personal significance of the destination); {from poros (passageway)}. This is to go forth, depart from, be spoken, flow out, project. This word emphasizes the result a process or passage – how it impacts the person or thing.

12 Then the disciplesG approached and said to him, “Do you knowH that the PhariseesI took offenseJ when they heard what you said?”K 

Notes on verse 12

G “disciples” = mathetes. From matheteuo (to make a disciple of); from manthano (to learn key facts, gain knowledge from experience; generally implies reflection as part of the learning process); from math– (thinking things through). This is a disciple, learner, or student. It is where we get “mathematics” from.
H “know” = eido. This is to know, consider perceive, appreciate, behold, or remember. It means seeing with one’s eyes, but also figuratively, it means perceiving – seeing that becomes understanding. So, by implication, this means knowing or being aware.
I “Pharisees” = pharisaios. From Aramaic peras (to divide, separate) and from Hebrew parash (to make distinct, separate, scatter). This is a Pharisee, a member of a Jewish sect active in the 1st century. Their name meant separate in the sense of wanting to live a life separated from sin. Whereas the Sadducees were part of the priestly line and inherited their religious position and responsibilities, Pharisees were regular people who studied the scriptures and offered guidance to regular folk. Sadducees were often wealthier and willing to sacrifice their identity to rub elbows with Roman society. Pharisees were often more concerned with what it meant to follow God without compromising what made them different as followers of God. Sadducees primarily believed in that which was written down (the first five books of the Bible) and Pharisees believed in the Bible and the traditions of the elders. Pharisees had a very wide range of interpretations and diversity of opinion. Their standard mode of religion engagement was lively debate with one another. To argue religion with another teacher was to recognize that they had something of value to offer.
J “took offense” = skandalizo. From skandalon (the bait or portion of the trap that closes down on the victim – the trap’s trigger; a stumbling block, offense, or cause for error; something that sets into motion a negative cause and effect; something that causes one to stumble); perhaps from kampto (to bend or bow). This is to put a stumbling block in someone’s way. Figuratively, causing someone to sin or preventing them from good action. It can also mean to shock or offend. Literally, this is falling into a trap or tripping someone up. So, here, enticing someone to sin or apostasy.
K “what…said” = logos. From lego (to speak, tell, mention). This is word, statement, speech, analogy. It is a word that carries an idea or expresses a thought, a saying. It could refer to a person with a message or reasoning laid out in words. By implication, this could be a topic, line of reasoning, or a motive. It can be used for a divine utterance or as Word – Christ.

13 He answered, “Every plantL that my heavenlyM Father has not plantedN will be uprooted.O 

Notes on verse 13

L “plant” = phuteia. 1x in NT. From phuteo (to plant, implant; figuratively to teach or plant doctrines); from phuton (a plant) or from phuo (to grow, produce, spring up; perhaps from the sense of puff or blow – to swell up; hence, to germinate; to grow literally or figuratively). This is a plant, shrub, or vegetable.
M “heavenly” = ouranios. 9x in NT. From ouranos (air, sky, the atmosphere, heaven; the sky that is visible; the spiritual heaven where God dwells; implies happiness, power, and eternity); {perhaps from oros (mountain, hill)}. This is heavenly or celestial. It can mean in, belonging to, or coming from heaven or the sky.
N “planted” = phuteo. Related to “plant” in v13. 11x in NT. See note L above.
O “uprooted” = ekrizoo. 4x in NT. From ek (from, from out of) + rhizoo (to plant, take root, establish, become stable); {from rhiza (a root literally or figuratively; the root of what comes from it – shoot, source, descendant)}. This is to pull out by something’s roots or to root out.

14 LetP them alone; they are blindQ guidesR of the blind. And if one blind person guidesS another, both will fall into a pit.”T 

Notes on verse 14

P “let” = aphiemi. Related to “understand” in v10. From apo (from, away from) + hiemi (see note C above). This is send away, release, permit, forgive, allow to depart, discharge, or send forth.
Q “blind” = tuphlos. Perhaps from tuphoo (to be conceited, foolish, puffed up, haughty; properly, to blow smoke; figuratively being muddled or cloudy in mind; poor judgment that harms spiritual clarity; also, being covered with smoke – so filled with pride); from tuphos (smoke, vanity, arrogance); from tupho (to raise smoke, smolder, slowly consume without flame). This is blind or a blind person – perhaps in the sense of smoke making things opaque and impossible to see. This is blind literally or figuratively.
R “guides” = hodegos. 5x in NT. From hodos (way, road, path, or journey; can imply progress along a route) + hegeomai (to think, suppose, have an opinion; to lead the way, what comes in front or first, initial thought, high esteem or authority; one who commands in an official capacity); {from ago (lead, bring, carry, drive, go)}. This is leader or guide. It can be used figuratively for a teacher.
S “guides” = hodegeo. Related to “guides” in v14. 5x in NT. From hodegos (see note R above). This is to show someone the way in a literal or figurative sense. So, it could be to guide and lead or it could be to teach.
T “pit” = bothunos. 3x in NT. Probably from bathus (deep in a literal or figurative sense); from the same root as basis (step, foot); from baino (to walk, go) OR similar to bathuno (to excavate, deepen); from bathus (see above). This is a hole in the ground. So, it could be a pit, ditch, or a cistern.

15 But PeterU said to him, “ExplainV this parableW to us.” 

Notes on verse 15

U “Peter” = petros. Related to petra (large rock that is connected and or projecting like a rock, ledge, or cliff; can also be cave or stony ground). This is Peter, a stone, pebble, or boulder.
V “explain” = phrazo. 1x in NT. Perhaps akin to phrasso (to stop, fence in; figuratively, to silence); perhaps from phren (diaphragm, heart, intellect, understanding; figurative for personal opinion or inner mindset; thought regulating action; sympathy, feelings, cognition); perhaps from phrao (to rein in or curb). This is to tell, declare, interpret, or explain. It can indicate using words or deeds to clarify. This is where the word “phrase” comes from.
W “parable” = parabole. From paraballo (literally to throw beside, compare, arrive, liken); {from para (by, beside, in the presence of) + ballo (to throw, cast, place, put, drop)}. This is a parable, comparison, adage. Quite often a tale told or a metaphor to establish a point, but it could be a true story.

16 Then he said, “Are you also still without understanding?X 17 Do you not seeY that whatever goes into the mouth entersZ the stomach,AA and goes out into the sewer?BB 

Notes on verses 16-17

X “without understanding” = asunetos. Related to “understand” in v10 & “let” in v14. 5x in NT. From a (not, without) + sunetos (intelligent, wise, discerning, clever; finding understanding within one’s own frame of reference by connecting facts and concepts; focuses on the mental process of putting things together – being prudent or wise); {from suneimi (see note C above)}. This is literally not understanding or undiscerning. It is someone who doesn’t comprehend, is foolish because they do not connect facts or process information meaningfully. It is an illogical person who chooses not to reason well. It can also imply moral fault and wickedness.
Y “see” = noeo. 14x in NT. From nous (mind, understanding, reasoning faculty, intellect, capacity to reflect); from noos (mind); probably from the base as ginosko (to know, recognize, realize, perceive, learn; gaining knowledge through personal experience)}. This is to think, understand, conceive, realize, see. It is one who thinks things through sufficiently to reach a conclusion or value judgment. It is also one’s moral reasoning.
Z “enters” = choreo. 10x in NT. From choros (a particular space or place); from chora (space, land, region, fields, open area); from chasma (gap, gulf, chasm, open space); from chasko (to gape, yawn). This is to leave in order to make room or space. It can also be to advance, receive, accept, or make progress. Figuratively, it can also refer to being open-hearted.
AA “stomach” = koilia. From koilos (hollow). This is belly or organs in the abdomen. So, it could be stomach, womb, or heart. Figuratively, this refers to one’s inner self.
BB “sewer” = aphedron. 2x in NT – both in parallel passages. From apo (from, away from) + hedraios (sitting, well-seated, immovable; figuratively, steadfast, firm, morally fixed); {from hedra (a seat) or from hezomai (to sit)}. This is a privy, drain, or latrine. Literally, it is a place where one wits apart (from others).

18 But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart,CC and this is what defiles. 19 For out of the heart come evilDD intentions,EE murder,FF adultery,GG

Notes on verses 18-19a

CC “heart” = kardia. Literally the heart, but figuratively mind, character, inner self, will, intention, thoughts, feelings. Also, the center of something. The word heart is only used figuratively in the Old and New Testaments. This is where “cardiac” comes from.
DD “evil” = poneros. From poneo (to toil); related to ponos (pain, trouble, labor, distress, suffering; toil, which implies anguish); from the base of penes (a laborer, poor person, starving or indigent person; someone who works for their living); from pernomai (working for a living; laborer, poor person; to work for daily bread); from peno (to toil to survive day by day). This is bad, evil, wicked, malicious, grievous, or toilsome. Properly, it is something that bears pain – it emphasizes the miseries and pains that come with evil. By contrast, the Greek kakos refers to evil as part of someone’s core character. Also contrasting the Greek sapros, which deals with falling away from a previously embodied virtue. This word can mean ill, diseased, morally culpable, derelict, vicious, malicious, or guilt. It can also refer to the devil or sinners.
EE “intentions” = dialogismos. Related to “said” and “what…said” in v12. 14x in NT. From dialogizomai (to consider, have a back and forth debate with an uncertain conclusion; multiple confused minds reinforcing a faulty conclusion); {from dia (through, because of, across, thoroughly) + logizomai (to compute or reckon up, to count; figuratively, coming to a conclusion or decision using logic; taking an inventory in a literal or figurative sense); {from logos (see note K above)}}. This is reasoning, thought, deliberation, argument, opinion, dissension. It is discussion. It shares a root with the word “dialogue.”
FF “murder” = phonos. Here, in the plural. 9x in NT. From pheno (to slay). This is killing, murder, or slaughter. It is one of the crimes that Barabbas and Saul are accused of.
GG “adultery” = moicheia. Here, in the plural. 3x in NT. From moicheuo (committing adultery or adultery itself; a man with a married woman or a married man with anyone other than his wife); from moichos (adulterer; a man who has been with a married woman; used figuratively of an apostate). This is adultery. It is used for the woman caught in adultery in John 8:3 (“whoever is without sin cast the first stone”).

fornication,HH theft,II false witness,JJ slander.KK 20 These are what defile a person, but to eat with unwashedLL handsMM does not defile.”

Notes on verses 19b-20

HH “fornication” = porneia. Here, in the plural. From porneuo (to fornicate – used figuratively for practicing idolatry or doing immoral things); from porne (prostitute, whore); from pornos (fornicator or immoral person); perhaps from pernemi (to sell off or export); related to piprasko (to sell with travel involved; to sell into slavery; to be devoted to); from perao (to travel); from peran (over, beyond). This is sexual immorality or unchastity. It could include adultery or incest.
II “theft” = klope. Here, in the plural. 2x in NT. From klepto (to steal secretively). This is stealing by stealth or fraud. It is not done using force or in the open.
JJ “false witness” = pseudomarturia. Here, in the plural. 2x in NT – here and the chief priests and counsel seeking false testimony against Jesus in Matthew 26:59. From pseudomartus (false witness); {from pseudes (false, lying, wicked); {from pseudomai (to lie, deceive, falsify)}} + martus (a witness whether having heard or seen something; witness literally, judicially, or figuratively; by analogy, a martyr). This is false testimony or false witness.
KK “slander” = blaspehmia. Here, in the plural. 18x in NT. From perhaps blapto (to harm or to hinder) + pheme (saying, news, rumor, fame) {from phemi (to say, declare, speak comparatively through contrasts, bring to light); from phao (to shine)}. This is slander, blasphemy, or abusive language. It is calling something wrong that is right or calling something right that is wrong – mis-identifying what is good and bad. This is particularly used for vilifying God. This is where the word “blasphemy” comes from.
LL “unwashed” = aniptos. 2x in NT. From a (not, without) + nipto (to wash, particularly the hands, feet, or face; often used for ceremonial or ritual ablution); {from nizo (to cleanse)}. This is unwashed or ritually unclean.
MM “hands” = cheir. This is the hand in a literal sense. Figuratively, the hand is the means a person uses to accomplish things so it can also mean power, means, or instrument.

21 JesusNN left that place and went awayOO to the district of TyrePP and Sidon.QQ 

Notes on verse 21

NN “Jesus” = iesous. From Hebrew Yehoshua (Joshua, the Lord is salvation); {from YHVH (proper name of the God of Israel; the self-existent and eternal one); {from havah (to become) or from hayah (to come to pass, become, be)} + yasha (to deliver, defend, help, preserve, rescue; properly, to be open, wide or free, which implies being safe. So, in a causative sense, this is to free someone). This is Jesus or Joshua in Greek – the Lord saves or the Lord is salvation.
OO “went away” = anachoreo. Related to “enters” in v17. 14x in NT. From ana (up, again, back, among, anew) + choreo (see note Z above). This is to withdraw, depart, retire, or leave. It can give a sense of seeking safety from harm or of retiring.
PP “Tyre” = turos. 11x in NT. From Phoenician t-s-r (rock; “after the rocky formation on which the town was originally built”). This is Tyre, the capital of Phoenicia. See
QQ “Sidon” = sidon. 10x in NT. From Phoenician tsydon (Sidon; probably meaning fishery or fishing town). This is Sidon – a city in Phoenicia. See &

22 Just thenRR a CanaaniteSS womanTT from that regionUU came out and started shouting,VV

Notes on verse 22a

RR {untranslated} = idou. From eido (to be aware, see, know, remember, appreciate). This is see! Lo! Behold! Look! Used to express surprise and or draw attention to the statement.
SS “Canaanite” = chananaios. 1x in NT. From chanaan (Canaan); from Hebrew kenaan (Canaan, his descendants, and the land where they settled; perhaps meaning lowlands, describing their land or subjugated in reference to being conquered by Egypt); from kana (to be humble, subdue; properly, bend the knee). This is Canaan – perhaps a reference to Phoenicia.
TT “woman” = gune. Perhaps from ginomai (to come into being, to happen, become, be born; to emerge from one state or condition to another; this is coming into being with the sense of movement or growth). This is woman, wife, or bride. This is where the word “gynecologist” comes from.
UU “region” = horion. 12x in NT. From horos (limit, boundary). This is a boundary on land or a coast. It could be district, region, territory, or frontier.
VV “started shouting” = krazo. This is to cry out, scream, shriek. It is onomatopoeia for the sound of a raven’s call. Figuratively, this means crying out urgently without intelligible words to express something that is deeply felt.

“Have mercy on me,WW Lord,XX Son of David;YY my daughter isZZ tormented by a demon.”AAA 

Notes on verse 22b

WW “have mercy on” = eleeo. From eleos (mercy, pity, tender mercy, or compassion; generally understood in action by word or deed). This is to have pity on, show mercy to, be compassionate; often used for God’s grace. When we sing or say “kyrie eleison” (Lord, have mercy), it is from this root verb.
XX “Lord” = kurios. From kuros (authority, supremacy). This is a respectful address meaning master or sir. It refers to one who has control or power greater than one’s own. So, it was also applied to God and Jesus as Master or Lord.
YY “David” = dauid. From Hebrew David (David); from the same as dod (beloved, love, uncle); the root may mean to boil, which is used figuratively to describe love. So, this implies someone you love such as a friend, a lover, or a close family member like an uncle. David’s name likely means something like “beloved one.”
ZZ {untranslated} = kakos. 16x in NT. From kakos (bad, evil, harm, ill; evil that is part of someone’s core character – intrinsic, rotted, worthless, depraved, causing harm; deep inner malice that comes from a rotten character; can be contrasted with the Greek poneros, which is that which bears pain – a focus on the miseries and pains that come with evil; also contrasting the Greek sapros, which deals with falling away from a previously embodied virtue). This is wrongly, badly, cruelly, with bad motives, misery connected to affliction. It can be physically badly or morally badly, i.e. evilly.
AAA “tormented by a demon” = daimonizomai. 13x in NT. From daimon (evil spirit, demon, fallen angel); perhaps from daio (giving out destinies). This is being demon-possessed or under an evil spirit’s power. This root is where the word “demon” comes from.

23 But he did not answer her at all.BBB And his disciples came and urgedCCC him, saying, “Send her away,DDD for she keeps shouting after us.” 

Notes on verse 23

BBB “at all” = logos. Literally “a word.” Same as “what…said” in v12. See note K above.
CCC “urged” = erotao. From eromai (to ask) OR from ereo (to say, tell, call, speak of). This is asking a question or making an earnest request. It is used between someone with whom the asker is close in some sense. So, they anticipate special consideration for their request.
DDD “send…away” = apoluo. From apo (from, away from) + luo (to loose, release, untie; figuratively, to break, destroy, or annul; releasing what had been withheld). This is letting go, setting free, or releasing. So, it can be to discharge, dismiss, divorce, pardon, or set at liberty.

24 He answered, “I was sentEEE only to the lostFFF sheepGGG of the houseHHH of Israel.”III 

Notes on verse 24

EEE “sent” = apostello. From apo (from, away from) + stello (to send, set, arrange, prepare, gather up); {probably from histemi (to make to stand, stand, place, set up, establish, appoint, stand firm, be steadfast)}. This is to send forth, send away, dismiss, send as a messenger. It implies one that is sent for a particular mission or purpose rather than a quick errand. This is where “apostle” comes from.
FFF “lost” = apollumi. From apo (from, away from) + ollumi (to destroy or ruin; the loss that comes from a major ruination). This is to destroy, cut off, to perish – perhaps violently. It can also mean to cancel or remove.
GGG “sheep” = probaton. Perhaps related to “pit” in v14. Probably from probaino (to go forward literally or to advance in years); {from pro (before, ahead, earlier than, above) + the same as basis (see note T above)}. This is literally easily led and so a sheep or another grazing animal. Also use figuratively of people who are led easily.
HHH “house” = oikos. This is house – the building, the household, the family, descendants, the temple.
III “Israel” = israel. From Hebrew Yisrael (God strives or one who strives with God; new name for Jacob and for his offspring); {from sarah (to persist, exert oneself, contend, persevere, wrestle, prevail) + el (God or god)}. This is Israel the people and the land.

25 But she came and kneltJJJ before him, saying, “Lord, helpKKK me.” 

26 He answered, “It is not fairLLL to take the children’sMMM foodNNN and throwOOO it to the dogs.”PPP 

Notes on verses 25-26

JJJ “knelt” = proskuneo. From pros (advantageous for, at, to, toward, with) + kuneo (to kiss); {may be related to kuno (dog)}. This is to do reverence, kneel, to prostrate oneself in homage, to worship.
KKK “help” = boetheo. 8x in NT. From boethos (helping or helper; one meeting urgent need); perhaps from boe (to cry, shout for aid; mimics the sound of a desperate shout for help with deep emotion); {from boao (cry out, make a distress call, ask for desperately need assistance); from boe (a cry, shout)} + theo (to run). This is running to help someone who has made an urgent call for help – coming to their rescue. Originally, this was used in a military context, but came to apply more generally to assistance in time of intense distress.
LLL “fair” = kalos. This is good, noble, beautiful, correct, or worthy. This is external signs of goodness like beauty, demonstrations of honorable character, showing moral virtues. A different word, agathos, speaks of intrinsic good.
MMM “children’s” = teknon. From tikto (to beget, bring forth, produce). This is a child, descendant, or inhabitant.
NNN “food” = artos. Perhaps from airo (raise, take up, lift, remove). This is bread or a loaf. It is a loaf as raised.
OOO “throw” = ballo. Related to “parable” in v15 & “goes out” in v17. See note W above.
PPP “dogs” = kunarion. Perhaps related to “knelt” in v25. 4x in NT – all in retellings of the Canaanite/Syro-Phoenician woman in Matthew 15 & Mark 7. Dimunitive from kuon (see note JJJ above). This is little dog or puppy.

27 She said, “Yes,QQQ Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbsRRR that fall from their masters’SSS table.”TTT 

Notes on verse 27

QQQ “yes” = nai. This is yes, truly, indeed. It is a strong affirmation.
RRR “crumbs” = psichion. 2x in NT. From psich (crumb) OR from psallo (to twang, play, sing psalms, pluck a stringed instrument such as a harp); {from psao (to rub)}. This is a crumb or small morsel. It can specifically refer to a breadcrumb.
SSS “masters’” = kurios. Same as “Lord” in v22. see note XX above.
TTT “table” = trapeza. 15x in NT. Probably from tessares (four; figuratively, can mean total inclusion or universality) + peze (by foot or land) or pezos (by foot or land); {from pous (foot)}. This is a table – whether for eating or conducting business. Literally, four feet. This is where the word “trapeze” comes from.

28 Then Jesus answered her, “Woman, great is your faith!UUU Let it beVVV done for you as you wish.”WWW And her daughter was healedXXX instantly.YYY

Notes on verse 28

UUU “faith” = pistis. From peitho (to have confidence, urge, be persuaded, agree, assure, believe, have confidence, trust). This is less about knowing, believing, and repeating a list of doctrines then it is about trusting God. Faith means listening to God and seeking to live a holy life even (and especially) when we don’t understand how everything works or fits together. Faith is about being faithful (trusting and doing) rather than being all knowing.
VVV “let it be” = ginomai. Perhaps related to “woman” in v22. See note TT above.
WWW “wish” = thelo. This is to wish, desire, will, or intend. It is to choose or prefer in a literal or figurative sense. It can also mean inclined toward or take delight in. It can have a sense of being ready to act on the impulse in question.
XXX “healed” = iaomai. This is to heal, particularly from a physical illness, but it could also be a spiritual difficulty. This is to cure or make whole in a literal or figurative sense.
YYY “instantly” = apo + ho + hora + ekeinos. Literally “from that hour.” Hora is a set time or period, an hour, instant, or season. This is where the word “hour” comes from.

Image credit: “Christ and the Canaanite Woman” by Adolf Hölzel, before 1926.

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