Matthew 15:11
A man is not defiled by what enters his mouth, but by what comes out of it."
The Source of DefilementW.F. Adeney Matthew 15:11
Casuistry ReprovedJ.A. Macdonald Matthew 15:1-20
On Hand WashingMarcus Dods Matthew 15:1-20
The Secret of Human DefilementR. Tuck Matthew 15:11, 19, 20

The religious people in the time of Christ were right in being anxious to avoid defilement, but they made a great mistake in their idea as to its source, and therefore they went wrong in their notions of the evil thing itself.


1. On its own account. Children who have been brought up in the gutter have no idea of cleanliness and no desire for it; and souls that have habitually wallowed in filth do not perceive their own degradation until a new and better influence has been brought to bear upon them. Nevertheless, man, made in the image of God, cannot attain his true end while the Divine image is corrupted and befouled, and when a gleam of his better nature awakes he longs to be pure. The cultivation of the spiritual life brings a horror of defilement. For its own sake the soul then longs to be clean.

2. Because of the effects of defilement.

(1) Shame. The first perception of defilement seen side by side with purity sends a shock of shame through the awakened soul.

(2) Banishment from God. Without holiness no one can see God. Nothing unclean can enter heaven, i.e. the presence of God (Revelation 21:27).

(3) Blindness. The defiled soul is dark; it cannot perceive spiritual truth.

II. THE PERVERTED CONSCIENCE MISTAKES THE SOURCE OF DEFILEMENT. The root error of the Pharisees was externalism. The prim propriety of demeanour which characterized the professional saints of Jerusalem covered hearts as corrupt as any of the publicans' and sinners'. Yet the Pharisees thought themselves clean. They dreaded contact with a corpse, but they had little scruple in entertaining a corrupt thought. They would stop their ears at the sound of blasphemy, but they would give the reins to their tongues in malignant words. The evil of Pharisaism is by no means extinct today. Religious people dread to be found in association with questionable characters. They are anxious to be perfectly correct in the external observances of worship. They do not go to the extreme of the folly of the Pharisees, but they too often manifest the same spirit.

III. THE ENLIGHTENED CONSCIENCE PERCEIVES THE TRUE SOURCE OF DEFILEMENT WITHIN ITSELF. It is part of the work of Christ to arouse and guide the consciences of men. Thus he shows us that the real origin of defilement is in our own hearts. A black fountain will always pour out a black flood, do what we may to cleanse the stream; on the other hand, a spring of pure water will quickly wash away any casual defilement that falls into it. A man is not his environment. It is dangerous to be in the midst of corrupting influences; and yet a bed of lilies may grow out of foulest mire. A herd of swine will not be converted into a troupe of pure virgins by entering temple; they will only convert the sanctuary into a sty. The corruption of a bad heart will be detected in language and conduct. When these are unworthy they will reflect shame on the debased heart from which they come. It is the great lesson of Christ, needed much in our own day, that as the root of all evil in the world is the evil heart of man, the only radical cleansing must be that which washes the heart. We must have done with the superficial treatment of mere appearances. Christ's method is to renew the life within. - W.F.A.

Why do Thy disciples transgress the tradition of the elders?
I. The worst form of hypocrisy is that which sets aside plain moral duties on the plea that they binder spiritual worship; for, if done as in God's presence, they are spiritual worship.

II. No moral duty is more clearly expressed, either in the Bible or in the heart, than that of obeying, honouring, and ministering to parents.

1. They are the first of our fellow-creatures towards whom we have responsibilities.

2. They are the representatives of God to us. Through them we are to rise to know Him as our Eternal Father, and through them we are to learn how to care for and regard His human family.

III. Strange perversion of what constitutes the service of God, to imagine that a man can free himself from so fundamental a duty as ministering to his parents, by professing to dedicate his property to the support of the temple-worship, and that such a freeing of himself will be acceptable to Him who prefers obedience to sacrifice, and who is Himself honoured in the honour shown to parents. Such external worship is, in God's sight, empty and worthless.

(V. W. Hutton, M. A.)

The fatal mistake of many is that they think of nothing but the profession — the mere externalities of religion — the name, the form, the visible rite, or, at most, the aesthetic emotion. Thus, with all their religiousness, they have no religion, no spiritual vitality, no renewal of nature, and no union with Christ. It is recorded of a certain Spartan in olden times, that he tried hard to make a corpse stand; but utterly failing to do so, in spite of every effort, he said, "I see it wants something within." So it is with these — they want life, and grace, and unction. Censorious men: — Censorious men commonly take up magnifying glasses to look at other persons' imperfections, and diminishing glasses to look at their own enormities.


Reader, why will you search another man's wound while your own is bleeding? Take heed that your own vesture be not full of dust, when you are brushing your neighbour's. Complain not of dirty streets, when heaps lie at your own doors. Many people are no longer well than while they are holding their fingers upon other persons' sores; such are no better in their conduct than crows, which prey only upon carrion.


Christ, no doubt, would exceed all scribes and Pharisees in the love of real cleanliness, inner and outer. But He felt constrained to lay His ban upon the imaginary virtue that was supposed to be inherent in the act of removing imaginary uncleanness. It was supposed that there was a demon called Shibta, which sits upon men's hands during night; and if any person touches his food with unwashed hands, then that demon sits upon his food, and makes it dangerous?

(J. Morison, D. D.)

It is customary with all, but obligatory for Muslims, to wash the hands before eating. The sect of the Sunnites, which includes the Turks and Arabs, wash both hands, but the Sheites, or Persians, only the right, with which the food is taken and conveyed to the mouth. Thus did the Pharisees in the time of our Saviour. For this purpose a ewer and basin are presented to each guest in turn by a servant, who drops upon his right knee while he rests the basin upon the left; the towel is carried upon his shoulder, or is offered by anotherservant.

(Van Lennep.)

As to those who would officiously substitute their traditions in the room of the clear light of the written Word; it is a similar case as if you should fall in with one travelling on the way, and he offers himself to be your companion and guide; and tells you that you have eyes to make use of in choosing your way, but that these eyes are only troublesome to you; that they represent to you diversities of objects that invite you this way and that, so that you cannot mind your path. "And pray," saith he, "let me pull out those eyes of yours, and submit yourself to my guidance;" and all this that he may draw you into a pit!

(J. Howe.)

Would persons as readily believe the correctness of a report transmitted by word of mouth in popular rumours from one end of the kingdom to another, as if it came in a letter passed from one person to another over the same space? Would they think that because they could trust most servants to deliver a letter however long or important, therefore they could trust the same man to deliver the contents of a long and important letter, in a message by word of mouth? Let us put a familiar case: a footman brings you a letter from a friend upon whose word you can perfectly rely, giving an account of something that has happened to himself, and the exact account of which it concerned you to know. While you are reading and answering the letter, the footman goes into the kitchen and there gives your cook an account of the same thing, which he says he overheard the upper servants at home talking over as related to them by the valet, who said he had it from your friend's son's own lips; the cook relates the story to your groom, and he in turn tells you. Would you judge of that story by the letter, or the letter by the story?

(Illustrations of Truth.)

The late William Jay, in his "Practical Illustrations of Character," says, "What a difference must a Christian and a minister feel, between the trammels of some systems of divinity and the advantage of Scripture freedom, the glorious liberty of the sons of God. The one is the horse standing in the street in harness, feeding indeed, but on the contents of a bag tossed up and down; the other, the same animal in a large, fine meadow, where he lies down in green pastures, and feeds beside the still waters.

Canaanitish, David, Isaiah, Jesus, Peter
Genneseret, Jerusalem, Magadan, Sea of Galilee, Sidon, Tyre
Defile, Defiles, Defileth, Doesn't, Entereth, Enters, Forth, Goes, Him'unclean, Makes, Man's, Mouth, Proceedeth, Proceeds, Unclean
1. Jesus reproves the Scribes and Pharisees
7. for transgressing God's commandments through their own traditions;
10. teaches how that which goes into the mouth does not defile a man.
21. He heals the daughter of the woman of Canaan,
29. and other great multitudes;
32. and with seven loaves and a few small fish feeds four thousand men

Dictionary of Bible Themes
Matthew 15:11

     8325   purity, nature of

Matthew 15:1-11

     7426   ritual washing

Matthew 15:1-12

     6206   offence

Matthew 15:1-14

     5345   influence

Matthew 15:1-19

     8720   double-mindedness

Matthew 15:1-20

     7342   cleanliness

Matthew 15:10-11

     5441   philosophy
     5550   speech, negative
     7478   washing

Matthew 15:10-20

     5547   speech, power of
     7340   clean and unclean

Mother's Love
Eversley, Second Sunday in Lent, 1872. St Matthew xv. 22-28. "And, behold, a woman of Canaan came out of the same coasts, and cried unto him, saying, Have mercy on me, O Lord, thou son of David; my daughter is grievously vexed with a devil. But he answered her not a word. And his disciples came and besought him, saying, Send her away; for she crieth after us. But he answered and said, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel. Then came she and worshipped him, saying,
Charles Kingsley—All Saints' Day and Other Sermons

Crumbs and the Bread
'Then Jesus went thence, and departed into the coasts of Tyre and Sidon. 22. And, behold, a woman of Canaan came out of the same coasts, and cried unto Him, saying, Have mercy on me, O Lord, thou Son of David; my daughter is grievously vexed with a devil. 23. But He answered her not a word. And His disciples came and besought Him, saying, Send her away; for she crieth after us. 24. But He answered and said, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel. 25. Then came she and worshipped
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture

On the Words of the Gospel, Matt. xv. 21,"Jesus Went Out Thence, and Withdrew into the Parts of Tyre and Sidon. And Behold, a Canaanitish Woman,"
1. This woman of Canaan, who has just now been brought before us in the lesson of the Gospel, shows us an example of humility, and the way of godliness; shows us how to rise from humility unto exaltation. Now she was, as it appears, not of the people of Israel, of whom came the Patriarchs, and Prophets, and the parents of the Lord Jesus Christ according to the flesh; of whom the Virgin Mary herself was, who was the Mother of Christ. This woman then was not of this people; but of the Gentiles. For,
Saint Augustine—sermons on selected lessons of the new testament

The Perseverance of Faith
"Then Jesus answered and said unto her, O woman, great is thy faith: be it unto thee even as thou wilt. And her daughter was made whole from that very hour."--Matthew 15:28. I HAVE frequently spoken to you concerning the faith of this Canaanitish woman, of the way in which Christ tried it, and of the manner in which, at length, he honoured it, and granted all that the suppliant sought. The story is so full of meaning, that one might turn it this way, and that way, and the other way, and always see
Charles Haddon Spurgeon—Spurgeon's Sermons Volume 38: 1892

Genesis xxvii. 38
And Esau said unto his father, Hast thou but one blessing, my father? Bless me, even me also, O my father. MATTHEW xv. 27. And she said, Truth, Lord: yet the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their master's table. Of these two passages, the first, as we must all remember, is taken from the first lesson of this morning's service; the second is from the morning's gospel. Both speak the same language, and point out, I think, that particular view of the story of Jacob obtaining the blessing
Thomas Arnold—The Christian Life

Sermon for the Second Sunday in Lent
(From the Gospel for the day) Tells us how God drives forward some of His children by the struggle between the inward and outward man. Matt. xv. 21-28.--"Jesus went thence and departed into the coasts of Tyre and Sidon. And, behold, a woman of Canaan came out of the same coasts, and cried unto Him, saying, Have mercy on me, O Lord, thou Son of David; my daughter is grievously vexed with a devil. But He answered her not a word. And His disciples came and besought Him, saying, Send her away, for she
Susannah Winkworth—The History and Life of the Reverend Doctor John Tauler

How to Make Use of Christ for Cleansing of us from Our Daily Spots.
Having spoken of the way of making use of Christ for removing the guilt of our daily transgressions, we come to speak of the way of making use of Christ, for taking away the guilt that cleaveth to the soul, through daily transgressions; "for every sin defileth the man," Matt. xv. 20; and the best are said to have their spots, and to need washing, which presupposeth filthiness and defilement, Eph. v. 27. John xiii. 8-10. Hence we are so oft called to this duty of washing and making us clean. Isa.
John Brown (of Wamphray)—Christ The Way, The Truth, and The Life

Second Withdrawal from Herod's Territory.
^A Matt. XV. 21; ^B Mark VII. 24. ^b 24 And from thence ^a Jesus ^b arose, and went ^a out ^b away ^a and withdrew into the parts { ^b borders} of Tyre and Sidon. [The journey here is indicated in marked terms because it differs from any previously recorded, for it was the first time that Jesus ever entered a foreign or heathen country. Some commentators contend from the use of the word "borders" by Mark that Jesus did not cross over the boundary, but the point is not well taken, for Mark vii. 31
J. W. McGarvey—The Four-Fold Gospel

Another Avoiding of Herod's Territory.
^A Matt. XV. 29; ^B Mark VII. 31. ^b 31 And ^a Jesus ^b again went out. ^a And departed thence, ^b from the borders of Tyre, and came through Sidon, ^a and came nigh unto the sea of Galilee; ^b through the midst of the borders of Decapolis. ^a and he went up into a mountain, and sat down there. [From Tyre Jesus proceeded northward to Sidon and thence eastward across the mountains and the headwaters of the Jordan to the neighborhood of Damascus. Here he turned southward and approached the Sea of Galilee
J. W. McGarvey—The Four-Fold Gospel

Jesus Fails to Attend the Third Passover.
Scribes Reproach Him for Disregarding Tradition. (Galilee, Probably Capernaum, Spring a.d. 29.) ^A Matt. XV. 1-20; ^B Mark VII. 1-23; ^D John VII. 1. ^d 1 And after these things Jesus walked in Galilee: for he would not walk in Judæa, because the Jews sought to kill him. [John told us in his last chapter that the passover was near at hand. He here makes a general statement which shows that Jesus did not attend this passover. The reason for his absence is given at John v. 18.] ^a 1 Then there
J. W. McGarvey—The Four-Fold Gospel

Healing a Phoenician Woman's Daughter.
(Region of Tyre and Sidon.) ^A Matt. XV. 22-28; ^B Mark VII. 24-30. ^b And he entered into a house, and would have no man know it [Jesus sought concealment for the purposes noted in the last section. He also, no doubt, desired an opportunity to impact private instruction to the twelve]; and he could not be hid. [The fame of Jesus had spread far and wide, and he and his disciples were too well known to escape the notice of any who had seen them or heard them described.] 25 But { ^a 22 And} behold,
J. W. McGarvey—The Four-Fold Gospel

The Deaf Stammerer Healed and Four Thousand Fed.
^A Matt. XV. 30-39; ^B Mark VII. 32-VIII. 9. ^b 32 And they bring unto him one that was deaf, and had an impediment in his speech [The man had evidently learned to speak before he lost his hearing. Some think that defective hearing had caused the impediment in his speech, but verse 35 suggests that he was tongue-tied]; and they beseech him to put his hand upon him. 33 And he took him aside from the multitude privately, and put his fingers into his ears, and he spat, and touched his tongue [He separated
J. W. McGarvey—The Four-Fold Gospel

Third Withdrawal from Herod's Territory.
Subdivision A. Pharisaic Leaven. A Blind Man Healed. (Magadan and Bethsaida. Probably Summer, a.d. 29.) ^A Matt. XV. 39-XVI. 12; ^B Mark VIII. 10-26. ^b 10 And straightway he entered into the boat with his disciples, ^a and came into the borders of Magadan. ^b into the parts of Dalmanutha. [It appears from the context that he crossed the lake to the west shore. Commentators, therefore, pretty generally think that Magadan is another form of the name Magdala, and that Dalmanutha was either another
J. W. McGarvey—The Four-Fold Gospel

The Cavils of the Pharisees Concerning Purification, and the Teaching of the Lord Concerning Purity - the Traditions Concerning Hand-Washing' and Vows. '
As we follow the narrative, confirmatory evidence of what had preceded springs up at almost every step. It is quite in accordance with the abrupt departure of Jesus from Capernaum, and its motives, that when, so far from finding rest and privacy at Bethsaida (east of the Jordan), a greater multitude than ever had there gathered around Him, which would fain have proclaimed Him King, He resolved on immediate return to the western shore, with the view of seeking a quieter retreat, even though it were
Alfred Edersheim—The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah

Jesus and the Syro-Phoenician Woman
THE purpose of Christ to withdraw His disciples from the excitement of Galilee, and from what might follow the execution of the Baptist, had been interrupted by the events at Bethsaida-Julias, but it was not changed. On the contrary, it must have been intensified. That wild, popular outburst, which had almost forced upon Him a Jewish Messiah-Kingship; the discussion with the Jerusalem Scribes about the washing of hands on the following day; the Discourses of the Sabbath, and the spreading disaffection,
Alfred Edersheim—The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah

A Group of Miracles among a Semi-Heathen Population
If even the brief stay of Jesus in that friendly Jewish home by the borders of Tyre could not remain unknown, the fame of the healing of the Syro-Phoenician maiden would soon have rendered impossible that privacy and retirement, which had been the chief object of His leaving Capernaum. Accordingly, when the two Paschal days were ended, He resumed His journey, extending it far beyond any previously undertaken, perhaps beyond what had been originally intended. The borders of Palestine proper, though
Alfred Edersheim—The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah

The Feeding of the Four Thousand - to Dalmanutha - the Sign from Heaven' - Journey to Cæsarea Philippi - what is the Leaven of The
THEY might well gather to Jesus in their thousands, with their wants of body and soul, these sheep wandering without a shepherd; for His Ministry in that district, as formerly in Galilee, was about to draw to a close. And here it is remarkable, that each time His prolonged stay and Ministry in a district were brought to a close with some supper, so to speak, some festive entertainment on his part. The Galilean Ministry had closed with the feeding of the five thousand, the guests being mostly from
Alfred Edersheim—The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah

Intercourse of Jesus with the Pagans and the Samaritans.
Following out these principles, Jesus despised all religion which was not of the heart. The vain practices of the devotees,[1] the exterior strictness, which trusted to formality for salvation, had in him a mortal enemy. He cared little for fasting.[2] He preferred forgiveness to sacrifice.[3] The love of God, charity and mutual forgiveness, were his whole law.[4] Nothing could be less priestly. The priest, by his office, ever advocates public sacrifice, of which he is the appointed minister; he
Ernest Renan—The Life of Jesus

To the High and Mighty Prince Charles, Prince of Wales.
Tolle malos, extolle pios, cognosce teipsum: Sacra tene, paci consule, disce pati. Christ Jesus, the Prince of princes, bless your Highness with length of days, and an increase of all graces, which may make you truly prosperous in this life, and eternally happy in that which is to come. Jonathan shot three arrows to drive David further off from Saul's fury; and this is the third epistle which I have written, to draw your Highness nearer to God's favour, by directing your heart to begin, like Josiah,
Lewis Bayly—The Practice of Piety

Introductory Note.
[a.d. 145-220.] When our Lord repulsed the woman of Canaan (Matt. xv. 22) with apparent harshness, he applied to her people the epithet dogs, with which the children of Israel had thought it piety to reproach them. When He accepted her faith and caused it to be recorded for our learning, He did something more: He reversed the curse of the Canaanite and showed that the Church was designed "for all people;" Catholic alike for all time and for all sorts and conditions of men. Thus the North-African

Manifestly Also in the Gospel we Find the Mouth of the Heart...
32. Manifestly also in the Gospel we find the mouth of the heart: so that in one place the Lord is found to have mentioned the mouth both of the body and of the heart, where he saith, "Are ye also yet without understanding? Do ye not yet understand, that whatsoever entereth in at the mouth, goeth into the belly, and is cast out into the draught? but those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart, and they defile the man. For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders,
St. Augustine—On Lying

Prayers on Pilgrimage. --"Lord Help Me. " --Matt. xv. 25
Prayers on Pilgrimage.--"Lord help me."--Matt. xv. 25. II. Blessed be Thy name, Jesus Christ!--the same Yesterday, to-day, for ever, What from Thee my soul shall sever, While I hear Thy voice, And in Thee rejoice? Guide me with Thine eye; Warn to fight or fly, When the foe, a lion raging, Or, with serpent guile assuaging, Comes in wrath to tear, Or by fraud ensnare. Hold me with Thine hand, For by faith I stand; On Thy strength my sole reliance, In Thy truth my whole affiance; Then where'er I
James Montgomery—Sacred Poems and Hymns

Luther's Fourth Preface
To Valentine Bapst's Hymn-book, Leipzig, 1545. The xcvi Psalm saith: "Sing to the Lord a new song; sing to the Lord, all the earth." The service of God in the old dispensation, under the law of Moses, was hard and wearisome. Many and divers sacrifices had men to offer, of all that they possessed, both in house and in field, which the people, being idle and covetous, did grudgingly or for some temporal advantage; as the prophet Malachi saith, chap. i., "who is there even among you that would shut
Leonard Woolsey Bacon—The Hymns of Martin Luther

The Woman of Canaan
Then Jesus went thence, and departed into the coasts of Tyre and Sidon. And, behold, a woman of Canaan came out of the same coasts, and cried unto him, saying, Have mercy on me, O Lord, thou son of David; my daughter is grievously vexed with a devil. But he answered her not a word. And his disciples came and besought him, saying, Send her away; for she crieth after us. But he answered and said, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel. Then came she and worshipped him, saying,
Richard Newton—The Life of Jesus Christ for the Young

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