Jesus Heals a Mute Man

by Spiros Zodhiates

Spiros ZodhiatesDr. Zodhiates continues his exegesis of the Gospel of Matthew.

[Verse 32] Another "behold" (ido [2400], the imperative of edon [1492], the aorist of horo [3708], to perceive, calling attention to the extraordinary; see vv. 2, 3, 10, 18, 20, also Matt. 3:16) draws our attention to a unique miracle that caused multitudes to stand in awe and the Pharisees to drum up fresh criticisms.

Someone brought a dumb man "possessed with a devil" (from daimonzomai [1139]) to Jesus. In the Greek, the word translated "dumb" is kophs (2974), which indicates that the man was both deaf and dumb; he could neither hear nor speak. In Matthew 12:22 we find a demoniac who was both blind and dumb. These are two of the four instances (see also Mark 9:17-27; Luke 11:14) in Israel's long scriptural history where we read of dumbness being attributed to demon possession. We do find in Mark 7:32-37 a deaf man who spoke with difficulty (from mogillos [3424]), but we are not told that the cause was demons.

[33] The uniqueness of this situation did not daunt Jesus. His presence alone was powerful enough to expel demons, and Matthew skips over the exorcist monologue found in the other synoptics:

"And the demon (daimnion [1140], the diminutive "little demon," implying that there may be "big" demons; certainly, there are "worse" according to Matt. 12:45), having been cast out (from ekbllo [1544], to cast out), the deaf person spoke (from laléo [2980], to speak, emphasizing the breaking of silence more than the content of speech). (a.t. See the author's exegetical works on 1 Cor. 12-14.)

In this verse, we have the reaction of the "multitude" (from chlos [3793], a crowd). Based on what they saw, "they were saying" (from légo [3004], to speak logically) that such a thing had never occurred in the entirety of Israel's history.

[34] Secondly, we have the reaction of the Pharisees who opposed Jesus. They, too, saw what had happened. Being educated Jews, they also knew their history. But while they were intelligent, they were also hypocrites (Matt. 23:13-15, 23, 25, 27, 29) who needed an alternative explanation for Jesus' extraordinary authority. They could not deny the uniqueness of what He had done, but to accept Jesus as God incarnate (Emmanuel) was out of the question.

So, since they believed that demons existed and that Jesus was an impostor, they assumed that He derived His authority from another source, namely the "prince (rchon [758], chief, originator, ruler) of the devils (demons).

But the Pharisees did not see the trap they had set for themselves. Why would the chief of demons cast demons out of anyone? In the other Gospels, Jesus pointed out this incongruence, the self-defeating nature of such a practice, by arguing that such a kingdom would be an anti-kingdom (see Mark 3:24-30; Luke 11:18-22).

Dr. Zodhiates is president emeritus of AMG International and publisher emeritus of Pulpit Helps.

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