4. Salvation by grace through faith, 8:1-9:34

viii] Jesus heals the blind and mute


The series of miracles recorded by Matthew in chapter eight and nine ends with the healing of the two blind men and the healing of the dumb demoniac. As Jesus is ministering in Capernaum, two blind men call on him to show mercy toward them. Some time later they come to the home where Jesus and his disciples are staying and Jesus asks them whether they really believe he is able to heal them. They respond in the affirmative and so Jesus heals them in accord with their faith. He asks them not to broadcast their healing, but, unable to contain themselves, they spread the news far and wide. As Jesus is leaving the home a possessed man, unable to speak, is brought to him. Jesus immediately exorcises the evil spirit and the gathered crowd responds in amazement. Sadly, there is among the crowd a number of Pharisees who announce that the miracle was performed in the power of Satan.


Faith opens our eyes to truth and frees us from the powers that bind.


i] Context: See 9:9-13.


ii] Structure: , Jesus heals the blind and mute:

Jesus heals two blind men, v27-31;

Jesus heals a dumb demoniac, v32-34.


Matthew presents both narratives as typical miracle stories by alluding to features present in previous narratives such that, As Luz puts it, "the reader is to sense that this is a typical healing of Jesus."


iii] Interpretation:

The two miracles recorded in the passage before us reveal the three primary responses to Jesus: faith leading to truth; amazement leading to questions; unbelief leading to blindness. Of these responses, Matthew again underlines the crucial ingredient for covenant standing, a faith that opens our eyes to truth and frees us from the powers that bind. So, as we come to the end of the narrative application of the Great Sermon, Matthew emphasizes the faith of two blind men to underline again the answer to the problem posed by the Sermon on the Mount, namely that covenant righteousness can neither be attained nor maintained by obedience to the law. The full appropriation of the promised covenant blessing is by grace through faith apart from works of the law.

When it comes to the healing of the two blind men, Morris notes that there are no miracles of the giving of sight in the Old Testament, but a significant number in the New Testament. Jesus clearly uses blindness metaphorically and this fact is conveyed in the tradition and emphasized by the gospel writers. Blindness is a state of living in darkness, metaphorically the darkness of another age now confronted by the brilliance of the coming kingdom, of a lack of understanding confronted by truth. From these two conjoined pericopes we learn that Christ, in the power of his coming kingdom, through faith apart from works, enlightens those locked in the darkness. Yet, for those of that other age, of old cloaks / old wine bottles, of Israel's religious authorities, blindness remains, understanding alludes them, and this because of their unbelief. For them, Jesus is an agent of Satan. Matthew "introduces a motif here that he will repeat several times and that culminates in chap. 23 with the separation between the blind leaders of Israel and the Jesus who heals the blind", Luz.


iv] Synoptics:

Matthew's account of the healing of the two blind men is similar to both Mark and Luke's account of the healing of blind Bartimaeus, Mk.10:46-52, Lk.18:33-43. In Matthew the miracle takes place in Capernaum, while for Mark it occurs in Jericho. In 20:29-34 Matthew records a similar miracle (possibly a doublet, but there are significant differences between the two stories) where two blind men receive their sight, with the setting this time in Jericho. Similarities within the oral tradition may be the result of either a convergence, or divergence of tradition. A story, in its retelling, can end up forming two separate stories with tantalizing similarities, but also, stories in their retelling can take on some of the characteristics of a separate, but similar story. It is not unreasonable to assume that Jesus healed a number of blind people and that there has been some convergence in the oral tradition. None-the-less, most commentators argue that Matthew has used Mark for a redactional rendering ("redactional creation" D&A) of the Bartimaeus story in 20:29-34, with a further redaction in 9:27-31. Luz addresses this rather careless treatment of tradition by stating that "Matthew did not have our problems concerning historical truthfulness." Yet, the evidence is that the gospel writers were true to their sources, more inclined to preserve the tradition as received than creatively manage it. A liberal assessment of Matthew's rendering of source material is usually based on the assumption that he worked off Mark rather than his own received oral tradition. This assumption is just that, an assumption.

The healing of the demoniac is peculiar to Matthew, but again a possible doublet may be found in 12:22-24.


v] Exposition: A simple exposition of this passage may be found in the linked pew-level Sermon Notes.

Text - 9:27

The healing of two blind men, v27-31. Jesus is ministering in Capernaum and has just raised the daughter of one of the leaders of the local synagogue from the dead. On leaving the house Jesus is confronted by two blind men who incessantly shout out to him, "Have mercy on us, Son of David." Jesus continues on his way with the two blind men following on behind, probably both still shouting out after Jesus. On reaching the house where he is staying, Jesus enters, probably along with his disciples. The blind men find their way to the house, and they also enter. Jesus then confronts them with a question; he asks them whether they really do believe that he is able to heal them. They respond in the affirmative. Jesus touches their eyes and announces "you believe, so you have it." Immediately their sight is restored, but Jesus instructs them that they must keep their healing secret. Popular belief in the coming of a warrior king to overthrow the Romans is an idea that Jesus doesn't want promoted, although indeed, Jesus is a king. Enthusiasm drives the blind men to tell everyone about their healing; the good news is too good to contain (or is the point that their unwillingness to comply with Jesus' instructions aligns them with those who are amazed, but uncommitted? - See below).

paragonti (paragw) dat. pres. part. "as [Jesus] went on from" - [and jesus] going away. As for ambanti in 8:23, this participle seems to introduce a dative absolute construction, temporal, as NIV; "when Jesus left the place", Rieu, "while Jesus was walking away", Berkeley. With this construction the variant dative pronoun autw/, "he", is treated as an addition to the text. Olmstead suggests that the participle is adjectival, attributive; "and Jesus who was going on from there, two blind men followed him." If this is the case then autw/, dative of direct object after the verb "to follow", is original, and the dative "Jesus going away" stands in apposition to it. Runge, Discourse Grammar, classifies it as a "left-dislocation", Olmstead as a "cleft construction." "As Jesus went on his way from there two blind men followed after him."

ekeiqen adv. "there" - from there. Adverb of place. The place is unclear. Is Matthew implying that Jesus is leaving the ruler's home, leaving Capernaum, or just walking about in Capernaum or a locality nearby? It is unlikely that the received tradition carried a specific locality.

krazonteV (krazw) "calling out" - [two blind men followed] crying out [and saying]. As with legonteV, "saying", attendant circumstance participle expressing action accompanying the verb "to follow after", or adverbial, modal, expressing the manner of their following, "calling out and saying." Both "calling out" and "saying" are present tense and so a durative aspect may be intended; "they were repeatedly calling out", possibly "shouting out."

hJmaV acc. pro. "[have mercy on] us" - A vocative variant exists. Accusative of direct object after the verb eleew, "to show mercy on." "Take pity on us" in the sense of alleviate our medical condition. Of course, the oral preservation of the phrase, "have mercy on us", with its particular liturgical shape, serves as a metaphor for something more substantial than physical sight - Lord have mercy on us that we may see, that we may know, and in that knowing find life divine.

uiJoV Dauid "Son of David" - The genitive "of David" is adjectival, relational. Primarily a messianic title, although it may not have been understood that way by the blind men, given the tradition of Solomon as a wise healer. They may just see in Jesus a type of Solomon. None-the-less, Matthew would surely expect his readers to take the reference as messianic.


elqonti (ercomai) dat. aor. part. "when he had gone" - [and Jesus] having entered. The same dative construction as with paragonti .... tw/ Ihsou ........ autw/, v27; "when he had gone indoors they came to him and Jesus asked", REB.

eiV + acc. "-" - into. Spacial. The messianic secret is in play given that Jesus waits for the two men to follow him "into the house" before enacting their healing. This is confirmed by Jesus' instruction that they "see that no one knows about it (the healing)", although Carson suggests that getting them into the house may have been "a device to increase their faith."

thn oikian (a) "indoors" - the house [the blind men approached him]. The presence of a definite article may indicate that the house is Jesus' house although there is no evidence he owned a house. Still, Jesus has worked as a carpenter-builder for some 15 years and would properly now, as head of Joseph's family, have title to the family's property, so it may well be his house. At least it is a provided or rented property to serve as a base for Jesus and the disciples during their ministry in Capernaum. All this rests on the assumption that this incident took place in Capernaum.

autoiV dat. pro. "[he asked] them" - [jesus says] to them. Dative of indirect object.

pisteuete (pisteuw) pres. "do you believe" - As with the interwoven story of the ruler's daughter and the woman with an issue of blood, this story raises the issue of faith / belief. Do the blind men believe that Jesus can do touto, "this" - presumably being the gift of sight?

oJti "that" - Introducing a dependent statement of perception expressing what they should believe.

poihsai (poiew) aor. inf. "[I am able] to do [this]" - Complementary infinitive, completing the sense of the verb "to be able."

autw/ dat. pro. "-" - [they said] to him [yes Lord]. Dative of indirect object. "Lord" could be just "Sir", although something more is implied - Yhwh is Lord.


tote adv. "then" - Temporal adverb.

twn ofqalmwn (oV) gen. "[their eyes]" - [he touched] the eyes [of them]. Genitive of direct object after the verb aJptw, "to touch." Note again Jesus' use of his hands in healing. It is obviously not an essential ingredient, given that a word from Jesus will often heal, but human contact plays its part, specifying the source of the healing power.

legwn (legw) pres. part. "and said" - saying. Attendant circumstance participle expressing action accompanying the verb "to touch."

kata + acc. "according to" - Expressing a standard; "in accordance with" = "since you have faith", Morris. There is no indication that the quantity or quality of faith is in mind, rather what matters is the direction of the faith, namely, in Jesus. Faith is often associated with a miracle, but not always. "You believed, you have it", Brunner.

thn pistin (iV ewV) "[your] faith" - the faith [of you]. "The faith of the blind man becomes a model for the church of its own faith", Luz.

uJmin dat. pro. "to you" - [let it be done] to / for you. Dative of interest, advantage, although see BDF.189.1 for the dative of the object possessed.


hnewcqhsan (anoigw) aor. pas. "[their sight] was restored" - [and] were opened [the eyes of them]. The miracle "testifies to the astonishing power and authority of Jesus", Hagner.

autoiV dat. pro. "[warned] them" - [and jesus sternly warning, admonishing] them. Dative of direct object after the en prefix verb "to warn." "Warned them", JB, doesn't quite fit, better "Jesus said to them sternly", NEB.

legwn (legw) pres. part. "-" - saying. Attendant circumstance participle expressing action accompanying the verb "to warn"; redundant.

oJrate (oJraw) pres. imp. "see that" - be sure, see that [no one knows]. "Make sure that no one gets to know about this", Cassirer. The messianic secret is usually viewed as a move by Jesus to limit the popular expectation of a coming worrier king type messiah so prompting misplaced faith and/or intervention by the secular state. "Don't tell this to anyone", TEV.


"Although Jesus wants to avoid stirring up popular expectations concerning the Messiah, which have no room for his more important work on the cross, the news of such wonderful deeds is simply too good to keep secret", Hagner. D&A take a different line emphasizing the disobedience of the blind men, making the point that "their disobedience, like the frequent failure of the twelve, shows first-hand observation or experience of the supernatural scarcely guarantees faithful discipleship." The tendency to mute their disobedience dates all the way back to Chrysostom.

de "but" - but/and. Transitional, indicating a step in the narrative, here to a conclusion.

exelqonteV (exercomai) aor. part. "they went out" - [they] having come out. Attendant circumstance participle expressing action accompanying the verb "to make known"; "they went away and spread his fame", ESV.

diefhmisan (diafhmizw) aor. "spread the news about [him]" - made known [him]. With the sense of spreading a rumor or news about someone; "but they left and talked to everyone about him in that part of the country", CEV.

en + dat. "all over" - in [that whole region]. Local; expressing space.


ii] The healing of the dumb demoniac, v32-34. On leaving the house where they were staying, a man, who is possessed by an evil spirit and unable to speak, is brought to Jesus for healing. On driving out the spirit, the man speaks and the crowd responds in amazement. Some Pharisees, watching on, correct the crowds opinion that nothing like this has ever been seen in Israel. The Pharisees know that amazing things happen in black magic all the time. As far as they are concerned, Jesus exercises control over the demons by the power of Beelzebub, the prince of the demons.

In this pericope / episode Matthew emphasizes the amazement of the crowd and the disbelief of the Pharisees. Jesus is well able to help a blind person see, but he can't help someone who is determined not to see. In this pronouncement story the crowd makes the pronouncement: "never has there appeared anything like this in Israel." Matthew's placement of this story at the end of his collection of miracle stories in chapters 8- 9, serves to conclude his narrative exposition of the Great Sermon. As a doublet with the healing of the two blind men, Matthew presents us with a metaphorical choice - belief, amazement, or rejection. The Great Sermon has shown us that the way of covenant righteous by grace through faith. What is our response?

exercomenwn (exercomai) gen. pres. part. "while [they] were going out" - [and they] going out. The participle forms a genitive absolute construction, best treated as temporal, as NIV.

daimonizomenon (daimonizomai) pres. mid./pas. part. "who was demon-possessed" - [behold they brought to him a mute man] being demon possessed. The participle is adjectival, attributive, limiting "a mute man", as NIV.

autw/ dat. pro. "to Jesus" - to him. Dative of indirect object.


kblhqontoV (ekballw) gen. aor. pas. part. "when [the demon] was driven out" - [and] casing out [the demons the speechless man spoke]. The participle forms a genitive absolute construction, temporal, as NIV. The dumb spirit is cast out, exorcised, rather than the man healed. This statement leads to the assessment of the Pharisees.

legonteV (legw) pres. part. "and said" - [and the crowds were amazed, wondered, marveled] saying. Attendant circumstance participle expressing action accompanying the verb "were amazed"; "were amazed and said."

ou{twV adv. "[nothing] like this" - [never was seen] thus. Temporal adverb. The verb efanh, "appeared, manifested", is passive, so "was seen."

en + dat. "in [Israel]" - Local, expressing place. In Israel, "the nation in which so many things had been seen", Bengel.


The Pharisees' assertion that Jesus' miracles are performed in the power of Satan is directed to the crowd. Their point being that these things have happened before, that healers and miracle workers are to be found everywhere plying their trade, and that such is cultic, employing the dark arts / black magic by channeling Satanic power. This is the first overt opposition to Jesus by the religious authorities. From this point on the opposition of the religious authorities will increase; such will be the experience of the disciples and of all who choose to follow Christ. For the greatest blasphemy / the unforgivable sin, see 12:28-32. Note that the verse is omitted in some MSS, but is usually taken as original.

en + dat. "it is by" - in. Instrumental, expressing agency, as NIV.

twn daimoniwn (on) gen. "[the prince] of demons" - The genitive is adjectival, idiomatic / subordination; "the prince over the demons." He is identified as Beelzebul in 12:24-28.


Matthew Introduction



[Pumpkin Cottage]