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Matthew 8 – Skeptic's Annotated Bible answered

A response and reply to the notes on Matthew 8 in the Skeptic's Annotated Bible (SAB).

King James Version

SAB comment

My comment

1 When he was come down from the mountain, great multitudes followed him.

2 And, behold, there came a leper and worshipped him, saying, Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean.

3 And Jesus put forth his hand, and touched him, saying, I will; be thou clean. And immediately his leprosy was cleansed.

4 And Jesus saith unto him, See thou tell no man; but go thy way, shew thyself to the priest, and offer the gift that Moses commanded, for a testimony unto them.

5 And when Jesus was entered into Capernaum, there came unto him a centurion, beseeching him,

"My servant lieth at home sick."
Jesus is approached by a centurion who asks him to heal his servant. But when the same story is told in Luke (7:1-7), the centurion doesn't come himself but sends some "elders of the Jews."
Did the Centurion ask Jesus directly to help his servant?
(8:5-9) "My servant lieth at home sick."
Here was the perfect opportunity for Jesus to condemn slavery. All he'd have to do is say, "OK, I'll heal him. But then you must set your slave free, because slavery is an abomination to God."
Does God approve of slavery?
From Luke 7:6 we know that the Centurion did not come himself. But he sent messengers to speak on his behalf. Because these messengers spoke in his name and spoke his words, it is as he himself spoke them. And that is why Matthew did not find it necessary to refer to the messengers, because the words spoken were the words of the Centurion.
And then on slavery. The Greek used in verse 6 for “my servant” (paiv) most commonly signifies “son” or “child”. It is that Luke uses the word “doulov”, or slave, else “paiv” might have been translated with son here. Such was the concern of this centurion for him. It seems that this person was in really good care. First of all, would this servant want to leave? The author of the SAB doesn't ask. Perhaps he didn't want to. Must he be forced out into the streets in order to be “free”? Perhaps this servant had been with the centurion is whole life. Perhaps he didn't even speak the local language. Perhaps he didn't have any skills that would enable him to survive on his own. Perhaps the author of the SAB can ponder all these questions and circumstances before giving a template response.

6 And saying, Lord, my servant lieth at home sick of the palsy, grievously tormented.

7 And Jesus saith unto him, I will come and heal him.

8 The centurion answered and said, Lord, I am not worthy that thou shouldest come under my roof: but speak the word only, and my servant shall be healed.

9 For I am a man under authority, having soldiers under me: and I say to this man, Go, and he goeth; and to another, Come, and he cometh; and to my servant, Do this, and he doeth it.

10 When Jesus heard it, he marvelled, and said to them that followed, Verily I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel.

"When Jesus heard it, he marvelled."
Did Jesus know everything?
Jesus is not only the son of God, but also truly human. His human nature is not omniscient.

11 And I say unto you, That many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven.

12 But the children of the kingdom shall be cast out into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

"There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth."
Jesus says "the children of the kingdom [the Jews] shall be cast out into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth." But Paul (Romans 11:26) says that "all Israel shall be saved."
What will happen to Jews when they die?
The author of the SAB is very confused here. Anyone who believes, shall be saved. Children of the kingdom of not. But Jesus addresses here the children of the kingdom, the Jews, who refuse him, who do not believe. The gentiles will come to believe in Jesus first, while Israel will reject him for a time.
Paul addresses the future of Israel. In verse 26 (Rom. 11:26), not verse 27 as the author of the SAB has it. While Israel as a nation has rejected Jesus, there will come a time when the nation will believe in Him as their saviour.
No one will be saved because they are something, but only when they believe that Jesus is the Son of God. There's no contradiction.

13 And Jesus said unto the centurion, Go thy way; and as thou hast believed, so be it done unto thee. And his servant was healed in the selfsame hour.

14 And when Jesus was come into Peter’s house, he saw his wife’s mother laid, and sick of a fever.

15 And he touched her hand, and the fever left her: and she arose, and ministered unto them.

16 When the even was come, they brought unto him many that were possessed with devils: and he cast out the spirits with his word, and healed all that were sick:

17 That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet, saying, Himself took our infirmities, and bare our sicknesses.

18 Now when Jesus saw great multitudes about him, he gave commandment to depart unto the other side.

19 And a certain scribe came, and said unto him, Master, I will follow thee whithersoever thou goest.

20 And Jesus saith unto him, The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head.

21 And another of his disciples said unto him, Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father.

22 But Jesus said unto him, Follow me; and let the dead bury their dead.

"Let the dead bury the dead."
Jesus tells a man who had just lost his father: "Let the dead bury the dead."
This might indeed seem to be a harsh answer. What child may not bury their father? On the other hand, this cannot mean that this person's father was not buried. Why would this person be here listening to Jesus when his father had just died? Even with our burial customs such a person's time would be occupied making arrangements for the funeral.
But the burial customs in the heat of the Middle East are different from ours: it was their practice to bury the dead straight-away. See for example the burial of Ananias and Sapphira, see Acts 5:6, which happened straight away. Also Lazarus was buried almost immediately, see John 11:17.
So this request cannot mean this man was asking for permission to bury has father, as that had already happened. But there happened to be a second burial we know from Biblical sources. Quote:

However, by New Testament times, the concept had taken on a new meaning. According to the Rabbinic sources, the decomposition of the flesh atoned for the sins of the dead person (a kind of purgatory) and the final stage of this process was gathering the bones and placing them in an ossuary. Jesus confronts this contrary theology. Only faith in Christ’s redemptive work on the cross can atone for sin, not rotting flesh or any other work or merit of our own. Jesus may have rebuked these two disciples rather harshly because they were following the corrupted practice of secondary burial.

23 And when he was entered into a ship, his disciples followed him.

24 And, behold, there arose a great tempest in the sea, insomuch that the ship was covered with the waves: but he was asleep.

25 And his disciples came to him, and awoke him, saying, Lord, save us: we perish.

26 And he saith unto them, Why are ye fearful, O ye of little faith? Then he arose, and rebuked the winds and the sea; and there was a great calm.

27 But the men marvelled, saying, What manner of man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey him!

(8:28) "There met him two possessed with devils"
Jesus meets two men (both Mk.5:2 and Lk.8:27 say there was only one) possessed by devils.
How many men were possessed with devils?
(8:29) "They cried out ... Jesus, thou Son of God."
The devils confess that Jesus is the Son of God. So according to 1 Jn.4:15, God dwells in the devils and the devils in God.
What the Bible says about torture
The Bible's guide to torture

28 And when he was come to the other side into the country of the Gergesenes, there met him two possessed with devils, coming out of the tombs, exceeding fierce, so that no man might pass by that way.

There were two as Matthew clearly indicates. See Mark 5:2 why Mark focuses on only one person.
It is also clear that this is an accident. The devils seem quite surprised to suddenly meet Jesus. They would have avoided them at all costs if they had known in advance he would be there.

29 And, behold, they cried out, saying, What have we to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of God? art thou come hither to torment us before the time?

The “whosoever” in 1 John 4:15 is whosoever who is human. Jesus came to this earth, not to the devils. There is no salvation for the fallen angels and they don't desire it.

30 And there was a good way off from them an herd of many swine feeding.

31 So the devils besought him, saying, If thou cast us out, suffer us to go away into the herd of swine.

32 And he said unto them, Go. And when they were come out, they went into the herd of swine: and, behold, the whole herd of swine ran violently down a steep place into the sea, and perished in the waters.

"The whole herd ... perished."
The devils ask Jesus to cast them into a herd of pigs. He does, and the poor pigs run off into the sea and drown.
Bertrand Russell in Why I am not a Christian considered this story to be evidence of the defective moral character of Jesus. For if Jesus was omnipotent, he could have could have found a kinder way to dispense with the devils -- like just making them go away, for instance.
God is the creator of all things. May he not do with them as He pleases? Moreover, the owners of this herd were probably Jews. Perhaps they ate the flesh of these swine or sold it to other Jews to eat. But Jews were expressly forbidden to eat swine, see Lev. 11:7. And it was probably their conscience speaking that caused the inhabitants of the city not to complain to Jesus about the considerable loss he had caused them. Even they felt this was a just punishment, but were afraid Jesus would punish them even more.

33 And they that kept them fled, and went their ways into the city, and told every thing, and what was befallen to the possessed of the devils.

34 And, behold, the whole city came out to meet Jesus: and when they saw him, they besought him that he would depart out of their coasts.

After Jesus kills the herd of pigs by sending devils into them, the "whole city" asks him to leave. Who could blame them?
This city was more concerned that more illegal profits would be taken away from them than that Jesus might heal other sick and possessed in this city. They didn't even thank Jesus for freeing these two possessed! Pigs were more important to them than the well-being of their fellow humans. Who can not blame them!