Matthew 17:21
However, this kind goes not out but by prayer and fasting.
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17:14-21 The case of afflicted children should be presented to God by faithful and fervent prayer. Christ cured the child. Though the people were perverse, and Christ was provoked, yet care was taken of the child. When all other helps and succours fail, we are welcome to Christ, may trust in him, and in his power and goodness. See here an emblem of Christ's undertaking as our Redeemer. It encourages parents to bring children to Christ, whose souls are under Satan's power; he is able to heal them, and as willing as he is able. Not only bring them to Christ by prayer, but bring them to the word of Christ; to means by which Satan's strong-holds in the soul are beaten down. It is good for us to distrust ourselves and our own strength; but it is displeasing to Christ when we distrust any power derived from him, or granted by him. There was also something in the malady which rendered the cure difficult. The extraordinary power of Satan must not discourage our faith, but quicken us to more earnestness in praying to God for the increase of it. Do we wonder to see Satan's bodily possession of this young man from a child, when we see his spiritual possession of every son of Adam from the fall!Howbeit, this kind ... - This kind means this kind of devils - this species of possession. Where they have had long possession where they produce such painful, fixed, and alarming effects, they can be expelled only in connection with prayer and fasting.

Goeth not out but by prayer and fasting - That is, in order to work miracles of this kind to cast out devils in cases so obstinate and dreadful as this, faith of the highest kind is necessary. That faith is produced and kept vigorous only by much prayer, and by such abstinence from food as fits the mind for the highest exercises of religion, and leaves it free to hold communion with God.

Margin Howbeit

The two best MSS. omit verse 21.

Howbeit, this kind goeth not out,.... The Vulgate Latin renders it, "is not cast out"; and so do the Arabic version, and Munster's Hebrew Gospel; and which confirm the more commonly received sense of these words, that they are to be understood of that kind of devils, one of which was cast out of the lunatic, and was of the worst sort, of a fierce and obstinate kind; and having had long possession, was not easily ejected: and that there is a difference in devils, some are worse and more wicked than others, is clear from Matthew 12:45 and not of that kind of miracles, or kind of faith to the working of such miracles. Moreover, the above versions, as they fitly express the word here used; see Mark 9:17 compared with Matthew 15:17. So they pertinently set forth the dispossession of devils, who do not go out voluntarily, but by force; and this sort could not be ejected,

but by fasting and prayer: that is, in the exercise of a miraculous faith, expressed in solemn prayer to God, joined with fasting. It seems that Christ not only suggests, that faith was greatly wanting in his disciples; for which reason they could not cast out the devil, and heal the lunatic; but they had been wanting in prayer to God, to assist them in the exercise of their miraculous gifts; and that whilst Christ, and the other three disciples were on the mount, they had been feasting and indulging themselves with the people, and so were in a very undue disposition of mind, for such extraordinary service, for which our Lord tacitly rebukes them. This agrees with the notions of the Jews, who think that, by fasting, a divine soul (f) , "may obtain that which is sought for"; and that among other things, for which a private person may afflict himself with fasting, this is one, , "because of an evil spirit" (g); which they think may be got rid of this way.

(f) Jacchiades in Dan. x. 3.((g) T. Bab. Taanith, fol. 22. 2. Maimon. Hilch. Taaniot, c. 1. sect. 6.

{4} Howbeit this kind goeth not out but by {h} prayer and fasting.

(4) The remedy against distrust.

(h) To help us to understand the watchfulness and diligence of earnest prayer, which cannot be without sobriety.

Mt 17:14-23. Healing of a Demoniac Boy—Second Explicit Announcement by Our Lord of His Approaching Death and Resurrection. ( = Mr 9:14-32; Lu 9:37-45).

The time of this section is sufficiently denoted by the events which all the narratives show to have immediately preceded it—the first explicit announcement of His death, and the transfiguration—both being between His third and His fourth and last Passover.

Healing of the Demoniac and Lunatic Boy (Mt 17:14-21).

For the exposition of this portion, see on [1322]Mr 9:14-32.

Second Announcement of His Death (Mt 17:22, 23).

This kind goeth not out but by prayer, etc. - Τουτο το γενος, this kind, some apply to the faith which should be exercised on the occasion, which goeth not out, doth not exert itself, but by prayer and fasting; but this interpretation is, in my opinion, far from solid. However, there is great difficulty in the text. The whole verse is wanting in the famous Vatican MS., one of the most ancient and most authentic perhaps in the world; and in another one of Colbert's, written in the 11th or 12th century. It is wanting also in the Coptic, Ethiopic, Syriac, Hieros., and in one copy of the Itala. But all the MSS. acknowledge it in the parallel place, Mark 9:29, only the Vatican MS. leaves out νηϚεια, fasting. I strongly suspect it to be an interpolation; but, if it be, it is very ancient, as Origen, Chrysostom, and others of the primitive fathers, acknowledged it. But while candour obliges me to acknowledge that I cannot account for the fact here alleged, that a certain class or genus of demons cannot be expelled but by prayer and fasting, while others may be ejected without them, I can give a sense to the passage which all my readers will easily understand: viz. that there are certain evil propensities, in some persons, which pampering the flesh tends to nourish and strengthen; and that self-denial and fasting, accompanied by prayer to God, are the most likely means, not only to mortify such propensities, but also to destroy them. For other remarkable circumstances relative to this case, see the notes on Mark 9:17, etc. 17:21 This kind of devils - goeth not out but by prayer and fasting - What a testimony is here of the efficacy of fasting, when added to fervent prayer! Some kinds of devils the apostles had cast out before this, without fasting. 17:21 This kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting. Compare Mr 9:29. Only by devout waiting before the Lord for strength. Such strength is always needful to the victories of faith. Often, too, we have demons, envy, pride, covetousness, a revengeful spirit, that must be cast out by prayer.
Matthew 17:20
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