The Meaning of Matthew 15:3 Explained

Matthew 15:3

KJV: But he answered and said unto them, Why do ye also transgress the commandment of God by your tradition?

YLT: And he answering said to them, 'Wherefore also do ye transgress the command of God because of your tradition?

Darby: But he answering said to them, Why do ye also transgress the commandment of God on account of your traditional teaching?

ASV: And he answered and said unto them, Why do ye also transgress the commandment of God because of your tradition?

What does Matthew 15:3 Mean?

Context Summary

Matthew 15:1-9 - God's Truth Above Men's Teaching
The legal washing of hands before eating was especially sacred in the eyes of the Pharisees. "He who does not wash His hands before eating," says the Talmud, "is as bad as a murderer." Jesus had no sympathy with a system that reduced religion to a slavery to outward forms. His new kingdom was in the heart, in loving sonship to God, and in faith. All outward observances had value only as expressions of the inner spirit. He waived aside their deadly pedantry and told His hearers to care above everything for the cleanliness of the heart.
He did more; He accused the Pharisees of putting their commandments on a level with the divine requirements, and so rendering the whole of Israel's worship vain. The divine authority for what is commanded is greatly weakened when it is mixed up with the purely human. A multitude of saints' days weakens the claims of the Lord's day. Remember that no gift to God's service is acceptable if you neglect the claims of those who are related to you by natural ties. Morality in God's eyes stands far above ritual. [source]

Chapter Summary: Matthew 15

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

Greek Commentary for Matthew 15:3

Ye also [και μεις]
Jesus admits that the disciples had transgressed the rabbinical traditions. Jesus treats it as a matter of no great importance in itself save as they had put the tradition of the elders in the place of the commandment of God. When the two clashed, as was often the case, the rabbis transgress the commandment of God “because of your tradition” The accusative with δια — dia means that, not “by means of.” Tradition is not good or bad in itself. It is merely what is handed on from one to another. Custom tended to make these traditions binding like law. The Talmud is a monument of their struggle with tradition. There could be no compromise on this subject and Jesus accepts the issue. He stands for real righteousness and spiritual freedom, not for bondage to mere ceremonialism and tradition. The rabbis placed tradition (the oral law) above the law of God. [source]
Also [καὶ]
The significance of this little word must not be overlooked. Christ admits that the disciples had transgressed a human injunction, but adds, “Ye also transgress, and in a much greater way.” “Whether the disciples transgress or not, you are the greatest transgressors” (Bengel). The one question is met with the other in the same style. Luther says, “He places one wedge against the other, and therewith drives the first back.” [source]

Reverse Greek Commentary Search for Matthew 15:3

Matthew 20:14 I will give [θέλω δοῦναι]
But, as in other cases in the A. V., this may be mistaken for the simple future of the verb; whereas there are two verbs. Therefore, Rev., rightly, It is my will to give. See on Matthew 15:32. [source]
Matthew 15:34 Little fishes [ἰχθύδια]
Diminutive. The disciples make their provision seem as small as possible. In Matthew 15:36 the diminutive is not used. [source]
Matthew 14:20 Baskets [κοφίνους]
Wyc., coffins, a transcription of the Greek word. Juvenal, the Roman satirist, describes the grove of Numa, near the Capenian gate of Rome, as being “let out to the Jews, whose furniture is a basket (cophinus ) and some hay” (for a bed )“Sat. ” iii., 14. These were small hand-baskets, specially provided for the Jews to carry levitically clean food while travelling in Samaria or other heathen districts. The word for basket used in relating the feeding of the four thousand (Matthew 15:37) is σπυρίς , a large provision-basket or hamper, of the kind used for letting Paul down over the wall at Damascus (Acts 9:25). In Matthew 16:9, Matthew 16:10, Christ, in alluding to the two miracles, observes the distinctive term in each narrative; using κοφίνους in the case of the five thousand, and σπυρίδας in the other. Burgon (“Letters from Rome”) gives a drawing of a wicker basket used by the masons in the cathedral at Sorrento, and called cóffano. He adds, “Who can doubt that the basket of the gospel narrative was of the shape here represented, and that the denomination of this basket exclusively has lingered in a Greek colony, where the Jews (who once carried the cophinus as a personal equipment) formerly lived in great numbers?” [source]
Matthew 16:8  []
Jesus asks four pungent questions about the intellectual dulness, refers to the feeding of the five thousand and uses the word κοπινους — kophinous ( Matthew 14:20 ) for it and σπυριδας — sphuridas for the four thousand ( Matthew 15:37 ), and repeats his warning ( Matthew 16:11 ). Every teacher understands this strain upon the patience of this Teacher of teachers. [source]
Mark 8:9 Four thousand []
Matthew (Matthew 15:38) here adds a detail which we should rather expect in Mark: beside women and children. [source]
Mark 8:3 Faint []
See on Matthew 15:32. Wyc.,fail. [source]
Mark 8:2 Now three days [ηδη ημεραι τρεις]
This text preserves a curious parenthetic nominative of time (Robertson, Grammar, p. 460). See note on Matthew 15:32. [source]
Mark 8:7 A few small fishes [ιχτυδια ολιγα]
Mark mentions them last as if they were served after the food, but not so Matthew 15:34. [source]
Mark 8:10 Into the parts of Dalmanutha [εις τα μερη Δαλμανουτα]
Matthew 15:39 calls it “the borders of Magadan.” Both names are unknown elsewhere, but apparently the same region of Galilee on the western side of the lake not far from Tiberias. Mark here uses “parts” (μερη — merē) in the same sense as “borders” (ορια — horia) in Mark 7:24 just as Matthew reverses it with “parts” in Matthew 15:21 and “borders” here in Matthew 15:39. Mark has here “with his disciples” (μετα των ματητων αυτου — meta tōn mathētōn autou) only implied in Matthew 15:39. [source]
Luke 7:13 Had compassion [εσπλαγχτη]
First aorist (ingressive) passive indicative of σπλαγχνιζομαι — splagchnizomai Often love and pity are mentioned as the motives for Christ‘s miracles (Matthew 14:14; Matthew 15:32, etc.). It is confined to the Synoptics in the N.T. and about Christ save in the parables by Christ.Weep not (μη κλαιε — mē klaie). Present imperative in a prohibition. Cease weeping. [source]
John 6:13 Twelve baskets [δωδεκα κοπινους]
One for each of the apostles. What about the lad? Stout wicker baskets (coffins, Wycliff) in distinction from the soft and frail σπυριδες — sphurides used at the feeding of the four thousand (Mark 8:8; Matthew 15:37). Here all the Gospels (Mark 6:43; Matthew 14:20; Luke 9:17; John 6:13) use κοπινοι — kophinoi The same distinction between κοπινοι — kophinoi and σπυριδες — sphurides is preserved in the allusion to the incidents by Jesus in Mark 8:19, Mark 8:20; Matthew 16:9, Matthew 16:10. Unto them that had eaten Articular perfect active participle (dative case) of βιβρωσκω — bibrōskō old verb to eat, only here in N.T., though often in lxx. [source]
John 6:5 Lifting up his eyes [επαρας τους οπταλμους]
First aorist active participle of επαιρω — epairō See the same phrase in John 4:35 where it is also followed by τεαομαι — theaomai John 11:41; John 17:1; Luke 6:20. Here it is particularly expressive as Jesus looked down from the mountain on the approaching multitude. Cometh unto him Present middle indicative, “is coming to him.” The same οχλος πολυς — ochlos polus (here πολυς οχλος — polus ochlos) of John 6:2 that had followed Jesus around the head of the lake. Whence are we to buy? Deliberative subjunctive (aorist active). John passes by the earlier teaching and healing of the Synoptics (Mark 6:34.; Matthew 14:14.; Luke 9:11.) till mid-afternoon. In John also Jesus takes up the matter of feeding the multitude with Philip (from the other Bethsaida, John 1:44) whereas in the Synoptics the disciples raise the problem with Jesus. So the disciples raise the problem in the feeding of the four thousand (Mark 8:4; Matthew 15:33). See Numbers 11:13-22 (about Moses) and 2 Kings 4:42. (about Elisha). Bread “Loaves” (plural) as in Matthew 4:3. That these may eat Purpose clause with ινα — hina and the second aorist active subjunctive of εστιω — esthiō (defective verb). [source]
Acts 9:25 In a basket [εν σπυριδι]
The word used when the four thousand were fed (Mark 8:8; Matthew 15:37). A large basket plaited of reeds and distinguished in Mark 8:19. (Matthew 16:9.) from the smaller κοπινος — kophinos Paul uses σαργανη — sarganē a basket made of ropes. This escape by night by the help of the men whom he had come to destroy was a shameful memory to Paul (2 Corinthians 11:33). Wendt thinks that the coincidences in language here prove that Luke had read II Corinthians. That, of course, is quite possible. [source]
Acts 9:25 Lowering him [αυτον χαλασαντες]
First aorist active participle of χαλαω — chalaō old and common verb in a nautical sense (Acts 27:17, Acts 27:30) as well as otherwise as here. Same verb used by Paul of this experience (2 Corinthians 11:33). In a basket (εν σπυριδι — en sphuridi). The word used when the four thousand were fed (Mark 8:8; Matthew 15:37). A large basket plaited of reeds and distinguished in Mark 8:19. (Matthew 16:9.) from the smaller κοπινος — kophinos Paul uses σαργανη — sarganē a basket made of ropes. This escape by night by the help of the men whom he had come to destroy was a shameful memory to Paul (2 Corinthians 11:33). Wendt thinks that the coincidences in language here prove that Luke had read II Corinthians. That, of course, is quite possible. [source]
Galatians 6:9 Faint [ἐκλυόμενοι]
Only here in Paul. See Matthew 15:32; Mark 8:3; Hebrews 12:3, Hebrews 12:5. Lit. to be loosened or relaxed, like the limbs of the weary. [source]
1 Timothy 4:5 By the word of God [διὰ λογοῦ θεοῦ]
That is, by the word of God as used in the prayer. Scripture is not called “the Word of God.” The Word of God includes much more than Scripture: but Scripture contains the Word of God, and the thanksgiving at table was in the words of Scripture. See Psalm 145:15, Psalm 145:16. The custom of grace at meat appears 1 Samuel 9:13. Christ blessed the loaves and fishes (Matthew 14:19; Matthew 15:36): Paul on the ship gave thanks for the meal which the seamen ate (Acts 27:35). Ἑντεύξεως prayersee on 1 Timothy 2:1. [source]
Hebrews 12:3 Lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds [ἵνα μὴ κάμητε ταῖς ψυχαῖς ὑμῶν ἐκλυόμενοι]
Rend. “that ye be not weary, fainting in your minds.” Ἐκλύειν is to loosen, hence, to relax, exhaust. So often in lxx. See Deuteronomy 20:3; Judges 8:15; 1 Samuel 14:28. Comp. Matthew 15:32; Mark 8:3; Galatians 6:9. [source]
2 Peter 3:16 Speaking in them of these things [λαλων εν αυταις περι τουτων]
Present active participle of λαλεω — laleō That is to say, Paul also wrote about the second coming of Christ, as is obviously true.Hard to be understood (δυσνοητα — dusnoēta). Late verbal from δυς — dus and νοεω — noeō (in Aristotle, Lucian, Diog. Laert.), here only in N.T. We know that the Thessalonians persisted in misrepresenting Paul on this very subject of the second coming as Hymenaeus and Philetus did about the resurrection (2 Timothy 2:17) and Spitta holds that Paul‘s teaching about grace was twisted to mean moral laxity like Galatians 3:10; Romans 3:20, Romans 3:28; Matthew 19:3-100 (with which cf. Romans 6:1 as a case in point), etc. Peter does not say that he himself did not understand Paul on the subject of faith and freedom.Unlearned Old word (alpha privative and μαντανω — manthanō to learn), ignorant, here only in N.T.Unsteadfast (αστηρικτοι — astēriktoi). See note on 2 Peter 2:14.Wrest Present active indicative of στρεβλοω — strebloō old verb (from στρεβλος — streblos twisted, στρεπω — strephō to turn), here only in N.T.The other scriptures (τας λοιπας γραπας — tas loipas graphas). There is no doubt that the apostles claimed to speak by the help of the Holy Spirit (1 Thessalonians 5:27; Colossians 4:16) just as the prophets of old did (2 Peter 1:20.). Note λοιπας — loipas (rest) here rather than αλλας — allas (other). Peter thus puts Paul‘s Epistles on the same plane with the O.T., which was also misused (Matt 5:21-44; Matthew 15:3-6; 1618257978_63). [source]
2 Peter 3:16 Wrest [στρεβλουσιν]
Present active indicative of στρεβλοω — strebloō old verb (from στρεβλος — streblos twisted, στρεπω — strephō to turn), here only in N.T.The other scriptures (τας λοιπας γραπας — tas loipas graphas). There is no doubt that the apostles claimed to speak by the help of the Holy Spirit (1 Thessalonians 5:27; Colossians 4:16) just as the prophets of old did (2 Peter 1:20.). Note λοιπας — loipas (rest) here rather than αλλας — allas (other). Peter thus puts Paul‘s Epistles on the same plane with the O.T., which was also misused (Matt 5:21-44; Matthew 15:3-6; Matthew 19:3-10). [source]
2 Peter 3:16 The other scriptures [τας λοιπας γραπας]
There is no doubt that the apostles claimed to speak by the help of the Holy Spirit (1 Thessalonians 5:27; Colossians 4:16) just as the prophets of old did (2 Peter 1:20.). Note λοιπας — loipas (rest) here rather than αλλας — allas (other). Peter thus puts Paul‘s Epistles on the same plane with the O.T., which was also misused (Matt 5:21-44; Matthew 15:3-6; Matthew 19:3-10). [source]
2 Peter 3:16 Unlearned [αματεις]
Old word (alpha privative and μαντανω — manthanō to learn), ignorant, here only in N.T.Unsteadfast (αστηρικτοι — astēriktoi). See note on 2 Peter 2:14.Wrest Present active indicative of στρεβλοω — strebloō old verb (from στρεβλος — streblos twisted, στρεπω — strephō to turn), here only in N.T.The other scriptures (τας λοιπας γραπας — tas loipas graphas). There is no doubt that the apostles claimed to speak by the help of the Holy Spirit (1 Thessalonians 5:27; Colossians 4:16) just as the prophets of old did (2 Peter 1:20.). Note λοιπας — loipas (rest) here rather than αλλας — allas (other). Peter thus puts Paul‘s Epistles on the same plane with the O.T., which was also misused (Matt 5:21-44; Matthew 15:3-6; Matthew 19:3-10). [source]

What do the individual words in Matthew 15:3 mean?

- And answering He said to them Because of why also you break the commandment - of God on account of tradition of you
δὲ ἀποκριθεὶς εἶπεν αὐτοῖς Διὰ τί καὶ ὑμεῖς παραβαίνετε τὴν ἐντολὴν τοῦ Θεοῦ διὰ παράδοσιν ὑμῶν

  - 
Parse: Article, Nominative Masculine Singular
Root:  
Sense: this, that, these, etc.
ἀποκριθεὶς  answering 
Parse: Verb, Aorist Participle Passive, Nominative Masculine Singular
Root: ἀποκρίνομαι  
Sense: to give an answer to a question proposed, to answer.
εἶπεν  He  said 
Parse: Verb, Aorist Indicative Active, 3rd Person Singular
Root: λέγω  
Sense: to speak, say.
αὐτοῖς  to  them 
Parse: Personal / Possessive Pronoun, Dative Masculine 3rd Person Plural
Root: αὐτός  
Sense: himself, herself, themselves, itself.
Διὰ  Because  of 
Parse: Preposition
Root: διά  
Sense: through.
τί  why 
Parse: Interrogative / Indefinite Pronoun, Accusative Neuter Singular
Root: τίς  
Sense: who, which, what.
καὶ  also 
Parse: Conjunction
Root: καί  
Sense: and, also, even, indeed, but.
παραβαίνετε  break 
Parse: Verb, Present Indicative Active, 2nd Person Plural
Root: παραβαίνω  
Sense: to go by the side of.
ἐντολὴν  commandment 
Parse: Noun, Accusative Feminine Singular
Root: ἐντολή  
Sense: an order, command, charge, precept, injunction.
τοῦ  - 
Parse: Article, Genitive Masculine Singular
Root:  
Sense: this, that, these, etc.
Θεοῦ  of  God 
Parse: Noun, Genitive Masculine Singular
Root: θεός  
Sense: a god or goddess, a general name of deities or divinities.
διὰ  on  account  of 
Parse: Preposition
Root: διά  
Sense: through.
παράδοσιν  tradition 
Parse: Noun, Accusative Feminine Singular
Root: παράδοσις  
Sense: giving up, giving over.
ὑμῶν  of  you 
Parse: Personal / Possessive Pronoun, Genitive 2nd Person Plural
Root: σύ  
Sense: you.