Matthew 15

Tradition and Commandment

15 Then some Pharisees and scribes from Jerusalem came to Jesus and said, 2 “Why do Your disciples violate the [a]tradition (religious laws) handed down by the [Jewish] elders? For Your disciples do not [ceremonially] wash their hands before they eat.” 3 He replied to them, “Why also do you violate the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition [handed down by the elders]? 4 For God said [through Moses], Honor your father and mother,’ and, ‘He who speaks evil of or insults or treats improperly father or mother is to be put to death.’(A) 5 But you say, ‘If anyone says to his father or mother, “Whatever [money or resource that] I have that would help you is [already dedicated and] given to God,” 6 he is not to honor his father or his mother [by helping them with their need].’ So by this you have invalidated the word of God [depriving it of force and authority and making it of no effect] for the sake of your tradition [handed down by the elders]. 7 You hypocrites (play-actors, pretenders), rightly did Isaiah prophesy of you when he said,

This people honors Me with their lips,
But their heart is far away from Me.
But in vain do they worship Me,
For they teach as doctrines the precepts of men.’”(B)

10 After Jesus called the crowd to Him, He said, “Listen and understand this: 11 It is not what goes into the mouth of a man that defiles and dishonors him, but what comes out of the mouth, this defiles and dishonors him.”

12 Then the disciples came and said to Jesus, “Do You know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard you say this?” 13 He answered, “Every plant which My heavenly Father did not plant will be torn up by the roots.(C) 14 Leave them alone; they are blind guides [b][leading blind followers]. If a blind man leads a blind man, both will fall into a pit.”

The Heart of Man

15 Peter asked Him, “Explain this parable [about what defiles a person] to us.” 16 And He said, “Are you still so dull [and unable to put things together]? 17 Do you not understand that whatever goes into the mouth passes into the stomach, and is eliminated? 18 But whatever [word] comes out of the mouth comes from the heart, and this is what defiles and dishonors the man. 19 For out of the heart come evil thoughts and plans, murders, adulteries, sexual immoralities, thefts, false testimonies, slanders (verbal abuse, irreverent speech, blaspheming). 20 These are the things which defile and dishonor the man; but eating with [ceremonially] unwashed hands does not defile the man.”

The Syrophoenician Woman

21 After leaving there, Jesus withdrew to the district of [c]Tyre and Sidon.(D) 22 And a [d]Canaanite woman from that district came out and began to cry out [urgently], saying, “Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David (Messiah); my daughter is cruelly possessed by a demon.” 23 But He did not say a word in answer to her. And His disciples came and asked Him [repeatedly], “Send her away, because she keeps shouting out after us.” 24 He answered, “I was commissioned by God and sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” 25 But she came and began to kneel down before Him, saying, “Lord, help me!” 26 And He replied, “It is not good (appropriate, fair) to take the [e]children’s bread and throw it to the [f]pet dogs.” 27 She said, “Yes, Lord; but even the pet dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their [young] masters’ table.” 28 Then Jesus answered her, “Woman, your faith [your personal trust and confidence in My power] is great; it will be done for you as you wish.” And her daughter was healed from that moment.

Healing Crowds

29 Jesus went on from there and passed along by [the eastern shore of] the Sea of Galilee. Then He went up on the hillside and was sitting there. 30 And great crowds came to Him, bringing with them the lame, crippled, blind, mute, and many others, and they put them down at His feet; and He healed them. 31 So the crowd was amazed when they saw the mute speaking, the crippled restored, the lame walking, and the blind seeing; and they praised and glorified the God of Israel.

Four Thousand Fed

32 Then Jesus called His disciples to Him, and said, “I feel compassion for the crowd, because they have been with Me now three days and have nothing [left] to eat; and I do not want to send them away hungry, because they might faint [from exhaustion] on the way [home].”(E) 33 The disciples said to Him, “Where are we to get enough bread in this isolated place to feed so large a crowd?” 34 And Jesus asked them, “How many loaves [of bread] do you have?” They replied, “Seven, and a few small fish.” 35 He directed the crowd to sit down on the ground, 36 and He took the seven loaves and the fish; and when He had given thanks, He broke them and started giving them to the disciples, and the disciples [gave them] to the people. 37 And they all ate and were satisfied, and they gathered up seven full baskets of the broken pieces that were left over. 38 [Among] those who ate were 4,000 men, not counting women and children.

39 Then Jesus sent the crowds away, got into the boat and went to the district of [g]Magadan.


  1. Matthew 15:2 I.e. the oral commentary on the Law, later codified as the Mishnah.
  2. Matthew 15:14 Later mss add of the blind.
  3. Matthew 15:21 Tyre and Sidon were located along the Gentile coastal region of Phoenicia. Tyre was 35 miles and Sidon 60 miles north of Galilee.
  4. Matthew 15:22 The Canaanites were ancient, pagan enemies of Israel.
  5. Matthew 15:26 A reference to the Jewish people.
  6. Matthew 15:26 Jews used kuon (dog) as a derogatory term referring to Gentiles. This dog (kuon) was a despised, filthy, homeless street scavenger. When speaking with this woman, Jesus uses a word for “dog” (kunarion) that refers to a household pet. The use of the word kunariois by both Jesus and the woman reflects the tenderness and spiritual depth of this exchange. More importantly, it foreshadows the fact that Gentile believers would not be spiritually homeless, but would also be welcomed into God’s household as His children. The gracious response of the woman recorded in v 27 confirms that on some level she understands this.
  7. Matthew 15:39 A small town on the western shore of the Sea of Galilee, between Tiberias and Capernaum.

Cross references

  1. Matthew 15:4 : Ex 20:12; 21:17; Lev 20:9; Deut 5:16
  2. Matthew 15:9 : Is 29:13
  3. Matthew 15:13 : Is 60:21
  4. Matthew 15:21 : Mark 7:24-30
  5. Matthew 15:32 : Mark 8:1-21

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