Placed immediately after a discussion of purity in both Matthew and Mark, Jesus' encounter with this Gentile woman brings out the implications the Evangelists find in his view of purity: Gentiles will no longer be separated from Israel (compare Acts 10:15, 28; 11:9-18). Like an earlier Gentile in Matthew's Gospel (8:10), this woman becomes an illustration of faith. Also like the centurion, this outsider's faith compares favorably with that of some religious insiders among Jesus' contemporaries (15:1-20).
Matthew reinforces this point by specifying exactly what Mark's Hellenistic Syro-Phoenician woman (Mk 7:26) means. She is a descendant of the ancient Canaanites, the bitter biblical enemies of Israel whose paganism had often led Israel into idolatry (compare Jub. 22:20-22). "Yes," Matthew seems to reply; "God's compassion extends to all Gentiles." If Tyre and Sidon (15:21) lead some readers to recall Jezebel, others must recall instead the widow who supported Elijah (1 Kings 17:8-24; Lk 4:26). The narrative thus constitutes another of Matthew's invitations to the Gentile mission (like 2:1-11; 8:5-13), reinforcing the message of 11:21-24 (where Tyre and Sidon were more open to repentance than Galilean towns were).
IVP New Testament Commentaries are made available by the generosity of InterVarsity Press.
Step 1 - Create an account or log in to start your free trial.
Starting your free trial of Bible Gateway Plus is easy. You’re already logged in with your Bible Gateway account. The next step is to enter your payment information. Your credit card won’t be charged until the trial period is over. You can cancel anytime during the trial period.
Click the button below to continue.
Step 1 - Create an account or log in to start your subscription.
You’ve already claimed your free trial of Bible Gateway Plus. To subscribe at our regular subscription rate of $3.99/month, click the button below.
Now that you've created a Bible Gateway account, upgrade to Bible Gateway Plus, the ultimate online Bible reading & study experience!
Bible Gateway Plus equips you to answer the toughest questions about faith, God, and the Bible. There's no software to install; it's all integrated seamlessly into your Bible Gateway experience. Try it free for 30 days!