Thirdmill Study Bible

Notes on Matthew 15:22-16:4

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A Canaanite woman - Matthew 15:22

A Canaanite woman. The Gospel of Mark refers to this woman by a more geographical description, "Syrophoenician" (Mark 7:26). Matthew calls her a "Canaanite" woman to allude to the notorious Gentiles who opposed the Israelites at the Exodus when they were fleeing Egypt (Exod. 33:1-2). This allusion is part of the broader exodus theme in this section (see note on Matt. 14:13-33), with Jesus as the new Moses. In contrast to the Jewish leadership that were opposed to Jesus, this Gentile woman was commended for her great faith (Matt. 15:28).

Lost sheep of Israel – Matthew 15:24

lost sheep of the house of Israel. This same phrase was used by Jesus in 10:6 when he sent his disciples out to preach the gospel to the Jewish people. This phrase comes from Jeremiah 50:6 where Jeremiah spoke of a future time when the people of Israel and Judah would come together to seek the Lord because their leaders had failed them and not led them to God. Jesus used this phrase to pronounce judgment on the Jewish leadership for failing to shepherd God's people (cf. Matt. 9:35-38). See BC 16.

Great faith – Matthew 15:28

Woman, great is your faith. Jesus drew out this woman's faith to make sure she understood who he was. Once again, having faith in Jesus' authority and compassion is commended and honored as more important than ethnic or religious heritage (Matt. 3:8-10; 8:10-13).

A Gentile Sermon on the Mount and Healing Ministry – Matthew 15:29-31

These verses intentionally recall chapters 5–9 where Jesus sat near the Sea of Galilee, taught the message of the Sermon and then healed many people, resulting in praise to God. At this point in Jesus' ministry Matthew is showing that Jesus performed the same ministry among the Gentiles that he did among the Jews, including a miraculous wilderness feeding (Matt. 15:32-39). These Gentiles responded by praising "the God of Israel" (Matt. 15:31).

Gentile Wilderness Feeding - Matthew 15:32-39

This story parallels the wilderness feeding in 14:13-21 except this time Jesus performs the same miracle for a group of Gentiles (see note on Matt. 15:29-31). This is the point of emphasizing the twelve baskets leftover in the first story and seven baskets leftover in the second story (cf. Matt. 16:9-10). Twelve is the number associated with Israel (tribes) and seven with the world in general (creation).

Pharisees and Sadducees - Matthew 16:1

The Pharisees and Sadducees came and tested him. In this time period the Pharisees and Sadducees were two distinct groups of Jewish people, the Pharisees being a more conservative and stricter group of rabbis than the Sadducees who did not follow many of the Jewish traditions that had developed in the preceding centuries. Since Matt. 12:14 the Jewish leaders have sought to entrap and discredit Jesus. Here they join forces because they saw in Jesus a dangerous, common enemy.

You interpret the sky – Matthew 16:3

You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky. It was typical for people in the ancient world (like many places throughout the world today) to have traditional knowledge about how to predict the weather based on generations of observations. Jesus used this to critique them for their hardness of heart and inability to discern that God has sent Jesus.

The sign of Jonah – Matthew 16:4

No sign will be givenexcept the sign of Jonah. This is the second of three times that the OT prophet Jonah was mentioned by Jesus. Later in Matthew 16 Jonah's name will be used in referring to Peter as "Simon son of Jonah" (Matt. 16:17). Earlier in 12:39-42 Jesus used the story of Jonah in the belly of the great fish to refer to his future death and burial. Jesus also claimed that he is greater than Jonah. Matt. 12:39 described his time in burial before his resurrection as "the sign of Jonah" and this must be the same sign Jesus was referring to here.

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