New Defender's Study Bible Notes
8:4 to the priest. Leviticus 13–14 contains detailed laws and instructions for the ceremonial cleansing of lepers—116 verses altogether. The problem was that there was no cure for leprosy in those days, so the laws were never implemented. Naaman was miraculously healed (II Kings 5:1-19), but he was not an Israelite, so did not follow the prescribed procedures for cleansing. So far as the record goes, this incident in Matthew is the first time ever that a cleansed leper would go to the priest in the manner prescribed by Moses. No wonder, in view of the hypocrisy and unbelief common in the priesthood of the time, that Christ said this would be “for a testimony unto them.”
8:5 came unto him a centurion. The parallel account (Luke 7:1-10) says that the centurion sent the Jewish elders to Jesus to make this request on his behalf (Luke 7:3). Matthew recognized that this was, to all intents and purposes, the centurion himself speaking, for he had delegated the elders to serve as his proxy. Perhaps the centurion thought that, since he was a Roman, the elders (as Jews) could influence Jesus to come more effectively than he could on his own. It is also possible that the centurion himself did come later, after the elders had first approached Jesus. In any case, there is certainly no necessary contradiction between the two accounts, as some have charged.
8:11 many shall come. Both Jewish and Gentile believers from all over the world will share with the fathers of God’s chosen people in the resurrection, and in the millennial kingdom and the eternal kingdom as well (Matthew 24:31).
8:12 outer darkness. The ultimate destiny of the lost, even those who had the special privilege of birth in the chosen nation, is in the lake of fire. This is possibly a star far out in the outer darkness of infinite space (note also II Peter 2:17; Jude 13). Note that a star is, indeed, a vast lake of fire.
8:17 Esaias the prophet. See Isaiah 53:4. Note that this prophecy of Isaiah was fulfilled, according to this passage, before the atonement of Christ on the cross. Therefore, bodily healing is not in the atonement. Like all aspects of our salvation, however, our bodies are delivered from the power of sickness, pain and death in this present life, and from their very presence in the future resurrection life.
8:20 Son of man. This is the first of some eighty occasions when Jesus called Himself “the Son of man,” many more times than He called Himself “Son of God.”
8:20 lay his head. The term “lay His head” actually could read “bow His head”—that is, to worship God. It is significant that, although we never read of Jesus worshiping God, He did teach others to worship, which means simply to bow down to the will of God. Jesus could never really bow His head until He reached the cross and completely finished God’s mission and accomplished His will. Then “He bowed His head [same as ‘laid His head’] and gave up the ghost” (John 19:30).
8:22 dead bury their dead. The meaning of “dead” refers to the spiritually dead (Ephesians 2:1). The young man was actually proposing to wait and follow Jesus after his father died, whenever that might be.
8:27 What manner of man is this. This “manner of man” was God incarnate. He had created the winds and the sea, so it was no wonder He could control them!
8:28 Gergesenes. Both the account in Mark 5:1 and that in Luke 8:26 say this was “the country of the Gadarenes,” and many manuscripts of Matthew have “Gadarenes.” Gadara was an important city about eight miles southeast of the sea of Galilee and apparently was the political center of the entire region. Some manuscripts have “Geresenes” in Mark and Luke (both Gergesa and Gerasa were distinct cities, like Gadara), but the most probable reading seems to be “Gadarenes,” which best fits the geographical implications in the three accounts.
8:28 two possessed with devils. Mark and Luke each speak of only one demoniac in their accounts, evidently emphasizing the one who was the spokesman and leader of the unfortunate pair.
8:29 Jesus, thou Son of God. These “devils” (actually demons, or evil spirits, probably the fallen angelic spirits that followed Satan in his primeval rebellion against God) could recognize Jesus for who He was, even though He was now also a man. In fact, both Satan and his demons, on various occasions, called Jesus “Son of God,” but they never called Him “Son of man.” They apparently refuse to acknowledge that “Jesus Christ is come in the flesh” (note I John 4:2-3).
8:31 cast us out. It seems that these demons intensely desire to function through a physical body. If they could not possess the body of the man living in the tombs, they still wanted at least to indwell the swine.
8:31 swine. Critics have charged Jesus with destroying private property by allowing the demons to drown the swine. However, God called these animals unclean (Leviticus 11:7-8), and forbade the Jews to use them as food; thus these swine ranchers were profiting illegally from their chosen occupation.