Thirdmill Study Bible

Notes on Matthew 15:32-16:12

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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.

The yeast of the Pharisees – Matthew 16:6

Yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees. Yeast refers to the ingredient in dough that spreads, affects the whole lump (Matt. 13:33), and causes the dough to rise. Here Jesus was using yeast as an image of the wrong teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees (Matt. 16:12; 23:2-36) that spreads and affects people, including possibly Jesus' own disciples.

Do you not yet perceive? - Matthew 16:9

Do you not yet perceive? Jesus said that the only people who could truly understand his teaching were those whom God has revealed himself to (Matt. 11:25; 13:11-17). Yet Jesus' disciples still struggle to understand the mysteries of the kingdom that Jesus is teaching (Matt. 15:16) because of their "little faith" (Matt. 6:30; 8:26; 14:31; 16:8). In 16:10-12 Jesus reminded them of his two miraculous wilderness feedings and about the seven and twelve basketfuls remaining. This finally helped them understand that he was speaking metaphorically about the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.

Hypocrisy of the Pharisees and Sadducees - Matthew 16:12

The teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees. Jesus critiqued the Jewish leaders of his day for being hypocrites — for focusing their teaching on external righteousness while not loving God from the heart or inner person (Matt. 5:17-7:12; 12:1-13; 15:1-20; 23:1-36). The teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees refers to their hypocritical religious instructions.

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