The Meaning of Matthew 8:24 Explained

Matthew 8:24

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

YLT: and lo, a great tempest arose in the sea, so that the boat was being covered by the waves, but he was sleeping,

Darby: and behold, the water became very agitated on the sea, so that the ship was covered by the waves; but he slept.

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

What does Matthew 8:24 Mean?

Context Summary

Matthew 8:18-27 - Leader Of Men And Ruler Of Nature
Christ winnows men. Before any enter upon His service, He places before them the inevitable trials which they must meet, among which loneliness and homelessness bulk large. See that in your heart Christ has a home. Where, however, there is lethargy, the Savior stirs the soul to follow Him. Do not mourn about the grave of the past; leave it and enter the life of resurrection and ascension.
Storms must sweep over all our lives. The Master's sleep indicates the peace and security of His nature. What a contrast between our impatience and His infinite serenity! Our Lord was sure that the Father was with Him, John 8:29. Near though the enemy may be, the Father is nearer. The everlasting arms are beneath you. You are beset behind and before, but no boat can sink when Christ is on board. [source]

Chapter Summary: Matthew 8

1  Jesus cleanses the leper;
5  heals the centurion's servant,
14  Peter's mother in law,
16  and many others;
18  shows the cost of following him;
23  stills the storm on the sea;
28  drives the demons out of two men possessed;
31  and tells them to go into the pigs

Greek Commentary for Matthew 8:24

But he was asleep [αυτος δε εκατευδεν]
Imperfect, was sleeping. Picturesque scene. The Sea of Galilee is 680 feet below the Mediterranean Sea. These sudden squalls come down from the summit of Hermon with terrific force (σεισμος μεγας — seismos megas) like an earthquake. Mark (Mark 4:37) and Luke (Luke 8:23) term it a whirlwind (λαιλαπς — lailaps) in furious gusts. [source]
Tempest [σεισμὸς]
Lit., shaking. Used of an earthquake. The narrative indicates a sudden storm. Dr. Thomson (“Land and Book”) says: “Such winds are not only violent, but they come down suddenly, and often when the sky is perfectly clear … .To understand the causes of these sudden and violent tempests we must remember that the lake lies low - six hundred and eighty feet below the sea; that the mountainous plateau of the Jaulan rises to a considerable height, spreading backward to the wilds of the Hauran, and upward to snowy Hermon; that the water-courses have worn or washed out profound ravines and wild gorges, converging to the head of this lake; and that these act like great funnels to draw down the cold winds from the mountains.” [source]

Reverse Greek Commentary Search for Matthew 8:24

Mark 4:37 Storm [λαῖλαψ]
So Luke. Distinctively a furious storm or hurricane. Compare Septuagint, Job 21:18. Matthew uses σεισμὸς a shaking. See on Matthew 8:24. Mr. Macgregor (“Rob Roy on the Jordan”) says that “on the sea of Galilee the wind has a singular force and suddenness; and this is no doubt because that sea is so deep in the world that the sun rarefies the air in it enormously, and the wind, speeding swiftly above a long and level plateau, gathers much force as it sweeps through flat deserts, until suddenly it meets this huge gap in the way, and it tumbles down here irresistible.” [source]
Mark 4:37 There ariseth a great storm of wind [γινεται λαιλαπς μεγαλη ανεμου]
Mark‘s vivid historical present again. Matthew 8:24 has εγενετο — egeneto (arose) and Luke 8:23 κατεβη — katebē (came down). Luke has also λαιλαπς — lailaps but Matthew σεισμος — seismos (tempest), a violent upheaval like an earthquake. Λαιλαπς — Lailaps is an old word for these cyclonic gusts or storms. Luke‘s “came down” shows that the storm fell suddenly from Mount Hermon down into the Jordan Valley and smote the Sea of Galilee violently at its depth of 682 feet below the Mediterranean Sea. The hot air at this depth draws the storm down with sudden power. These sudden storms continue to this day on the Sea of Galilee. The word occurs in the lxx of the whirlwind out of which God answered Job (Job 38:1) and in Jonah 1:4. [source]
Mark 4:37 The waves beat into the boat [τα κυματα επεβαλλεν εις το πλοιον]
Imperfect tense (were beating) vividly picturing the rolling over the sides of the boat “so that the boat was covered with the waves” (Matthew 8:24). Mark has it: “insomuch that the boat was now filling” Graphic description of the plight of the disciples. [source]
Mark 4:38 Asleep on the cushion [επι το προσκεπαλαιον κατευδων]
Mark also mentions the cushion or bolster and the stern of the boat Matthew 8:24 notes that Jesus was sleeping He was worn out from the toil of this day. [source]
Luke 8:23 Storm [λαιλαψ]
See Mark 4:37. Matthew has σεισμὸς , a shaking. See on Matthew 8:24. [source]
Luke 8:23 Came down [κατέβη]
More vivid than either Matthew or Mark, who have there arose. The word describes the action of the sudden storms which literally come down from the heights surrounding the lake. See on Matthew 8:24. [source]
Luke 8:23 Came down [κατεβη]
Second aorist active indicative of καταβαινω — katabainō common verb. It was literally true. These wind storms Mark‘s (Mark 4:37) vivid use of the dramatic present γινεται — ginetai (ariseth) is not so precise as Luke‘s “came down.” See note on Matthew 8:24. These sudden squalls were dangerous on this small lake.They were filling (συνεπληρουντο — suneplērounto). Imperfect passive. It was the boat that was being filled (Mark 4:37) and it is here applied to the navigators as sailors sometimes spoke. An old verb, but in the N.T. used only by Luke (Luke 8:23; Luke 9:51; Acts 2:1).Were in jeopardy Imperfect active, vivid description. Old verb, but in the N.T. only here, Acts 19:27; 1 Corinthians 15:30. [source]
Acts 27:14 There arose against it [ἔβαλε κατ ' αὐτῆς]
Against what? Some say, the island of Crete; in which case they would have been driven against the island, whereas we are told that they were driven away from it. Others, the ship. It is objected that the pronoun αὐτῆς it, is feminine, while the feminine noun for ship ( ναῦς ) is not commonly used by Luke, but rather the neuter, πλοῖον . I do not think this objection entitled to much weight. Luke is the only New Testament writer who uses ναῦς (see Acts 27:41), though he uses it but once; and, as Hackett remarks, “it would be quite accidental which of the terms would shape the pronoun at this moment, as they were both so familiar.” A third explanation refers the pronoun to the island of Crete, and renders, “there beat down from it. ” This is grammatical, and according to a well-known usage of the preposition. The verb βάλλω is also used intransitively in the sense of tofall; thus Homer Iliad,” xi., 722), of a riverfalling into the sea. Compare Mark 4:37: “the the waves beat ( ἐπέβαλλεν ) into the ship;” and Luke 15:12the portion of goods thatfalleth ( ἐπιβάλλον ) to me.” The rendering of the Rev. is, therefore, well supported, and, on the whole, preferable' there beat down from it. It is also according to the analogy of the expression in Luke 8:23, there came down a storm. See note there, and see on Matthew 8:24. [source]
Jude 1:13 Wild waves [κυματα αγρια]
Waves (Matthew 8:24, from κυεω — kueō to swell) wild (from αγρος — agros field, wild honey Matthew 3:4) like untamed animals of the forest or the sea. [source]
Revelation 6:12 Earthquake [σεισμὸς]
Lit., shaking. Used also of a tempest. See on Matthew 8:24, and compare Matthew 24:7. The word here is not necessarily confined to shaking the earth. In Matthew 24:29, it is predicted that the powers of the heavens shall be shaken ( σαλευθήσονται , see on Luke 21:26). Here also the heaven is removed (Revelation 6:14). Compare Hebrews 12:26, where the verb σείω toshake (kindred with σεισμὸς ) is used. [source]

What do the individual words in Matthew 8:24 mean?

And behold a storm great arose in the sea so that the boat was being swamped by the waves He Himself however was sleeping
καὶ ἰδοὺ σεισμὸς μέγας ἐγένετο ἐν τῇ θαλάσσῃ ὥστε τὸ πλοῖον καλύπτεσθαι ὑπὸ τῶν κυμάτων αὐτὸς δὲ ἐκάθευδεν

ἰδοὺ  behold 
Parse: Verb, Aorist Imperative Active, 2nd Person Singular
Root: ἰδού  
Sense: behold, see, lo.
σεισμὸς  a  storm 
Parse: Noun, Nominative Masculine Singular
Root: σεισμός  
Sense: a shaking, a commotion.
μέγας  great 
Parse: Adjective, Nominative Masculine Singular
Root: μέγας  
Sense: great.
ἐγένετο  arose 
Parse: Verb, Aorist Indicative Middle, 3rd Person Singular
Root: γίνομαι  
Sense: to become, i.
θαλάσσῃ  sea 
Parse: Noun, Dative Feminine Singular
Root: θάλασσα  
Sense: the sea.
ὥστε  so  that 
Parse: Conjunction
Root: ὥστε  
Sense: so that, insomuch that.
πλοῖον  boat 
Parse: Noun, Accusative Neuter Singular
Root: πλοῖον  
Sense: a ship.
καλύπτεσθαι  was  being  swamped 
Parse: Verb, Present Infinitive Middle or Passive
Root: καλύπτω  
Sense: to hide, veil.
κυμάτων  waves 
Parse: Noun, Genitive Neuter Plural
Root: κῦμα  
Sense: a wave (swell) esp. of the sea or of a lake.
αὐτὸς  He  Himself 
Parse: Personal / Possessive Pronoun, Nominative Masculine 3rd Person Singular
Root: αὐτός  
Sense: himself, herself, themselves, itself.
δὲ  however 
Parse: Conjunction
Root: δέ  
Sense: but, moreover, and, etc.
ἐκάθευδεν  was  sleeping 
Parse: Verb, Imperfect Indicative Active, 3rd Person Singular
Root: καθεύδω  
Sense: to fall asleep, drop off to sleep.