Gospel Harmony Project
Public Ministry of Jesus From 2nd to 3rd Passover
055:  Eating with Sinners at Matthew's House


056:  Question about Fasting
Epiphany 8B
14 Then came to him the disciples of John, saying, Why do we and the Pharisees fast oft, but thy disciples fast not?
15 And Jesus said unto them, Can the children of the bridechamber mourn, as long as the bridegroom is with them? but the days will come, when the bridegroom shall be taken from them, and then shall they fast.
16 No man putteth a piece of new cloth unto an old garment, for that which is put in to fill it up taketh from the garment, and the rent is made worse.
17 Neither do men put new wine into old bottles: else the bottles break, and the wine runneth out, and the bottles perish: but they put new wine into new bottles, and both are preserved.
18 And the disciples of John and of the Pharisees used to fast: and they come and say unto him, Why do the disciples of John and of the Pharisees fast, but thy disciples fast not?
19 And Jesus said unto them, Can the children of the bridechamber fast, while the bridegroom is with them? as long as they have the bridegroom with them, they cannot fast.
20 But the days will come, when the bridegroom shall be taken away from them, and then shall they fast in those days.
21 No man also seweth a piece of new cloth on an old garment: else the new piece that filled it up taketh away from the old, and the rent is made worse.
22 And no man putteth new wine into old bottles: else the new wine doth burst the bottles, and the wine is spilled, and the bottles will be marred: but new wine must be put into new bottles.
33 And they said unto him, Why do the disciples of John fast often, and make prayers, and likewise the disciples of the Pharisees; but thine eat and drink?
34 And he said unto them, Can ye make the children of the bridechamber fast, while the bridegroom is with them?
35 But the days will come, when the bridegroom shall be taken away from them, and then shall they fast in those days.
36 And he spake also a parable unto them; No man putteth a piece of a new garment upon an old; if otherwise, then both the new maketh a rent, and the piece that was taken out of the new agreeth not with the old.
37 And no man putteth new wine into old bottles; else the new wine will burst the bottles, and be spilled, and the bottles  shall perish.
38 But new wine must be put into new bottles; and both are preserved.
  1. several mss have "fast often" (as in Luke 5:33)
1. To Mark 2:18 cf Didache 8:1 "Do not fast with the hypocrites, for they fast on the second and fifth days of the week" (i.e., Mondays and Thursdays);  "but you should fast on the fourth day and on the day of Preparation" (i.e., Wednesdays and Fridays.
  1. vs 33
    1. "fast often"
    2. "and make prayers"
    3. "but thine eat and drink"
  2. vs 39
    "No man also having drunk old wine straightway desireth new: for he saith, The old is better."


House of Levi (Matthew) in Capernaeum along with Call of Matthew (Event 54) and Eating with Sinners (Event 55).



  • Late winter / Early spring of 29 AD
  • After
    •  returning from healing the Gadarene Demonaic (Mt. 8:28-34, see Event 80)
    • the Return to Capernaum (Mt. 9:1, see Event 51) and
    •  Cure of the Paralytic Lowered through the Roof (Matthew 2:9-8, see Event 52).
    • Call of Matthew (Matthew 9:9, see Event 54)
    • Eating with Sinners (Mt. 9:10-13, see Event 55)
  • Before
    • Healing Jarirus' Daughter and the Bleeding Woman (Mt. 9:18-26, see Event 81).
  • Late Spring of 28 AD
  • After
    •  Cure of the Paralytic Lowered through the Roof (Mark 2:2-12 and Luke 5:17-26, see Event 52).
    • Teaching by the Sea (Mark 2:13, see Event 53)  
    • Call of Matthew (Matthew 9:9, see Event 54)
    • Eating with Sinners (Mt. 9:10-13, see Event 55)




  1. Questioning
    1. Pharisees
      1. The following vices are very common to Pharisees.
        • They are more busied in censuring the conduct of others than in rectifying their own.
        • They desire that every one should regulate his piety by theirs; and embrace their particular customs and forms of devotion.
        •  They speak of and compare themselves with other people, only that they may have an opportunity of distinguishing and exalting themselves.
          Adam Clark Commentary
      2. The Pharisees themselves had a contention with our Saviour in the foregoing verses; here they set on the disciples of John, to contend with him about fasting, alleging that the disciples of John fasted often, Christ's disciples not at all. William Burkitt Notes
    2. John's Disciples
      1. Some who still held aloof from Christ, and really sympathized with the Pharisees.  People's New Testament Commentary
      2. Probably Levi's feast happened on one of the weekly fast-days (second and fifth days of the week for the stricter Jews). So there was a clash of standpoints. The disciples of John sided with the Pharisees in the Jewish ceremonial ritualistic observances.  Robertson's New Testament Word Pictures
      3. It is probable that they had understood that John was the forerunner of the Messiah; and if such was the case, they could not account for the fact that there was such a difference between them and the disciples of Jesus.  Albert Barnes Commentary
      4.  It is probable that this question was put to him when John was in prison; and his disciples, involved in deep grief on account of it, observed days of fasting. Fasting was the natural expression of sorrow, and they wondered that the followers of Jesus did not join with them in lamenting the captivity of him who was the forerunner and baptizer of their Lord.  Albert Barnes Commentary
      5. The objection which the disciples of John made against Christ's disciples, for not fasting so often as they did; which they are charged with, as another instance of the looseness of their profession, besides that of eating with publicans and sinners; and it is therefore suggested to them, that they should change that profession for another more strict.  Matthew Henry Commentary
      6. One is surprised to find disciples of the Baptist in the role of critics of Christ along with the Pharisees. But John was languishing in prison and they perhaps were blaming Jesus for doing nothing about it. At any rate John would not have gone to Levi's feast on one of the Jewish fast-days. "The strict asceticism of the Baptist (Mt 11:18) and of the Pharisaic rabbis (Lu 18:12) was imitated by their disciples" (McNeile).  Robertson's New Testament Word Pictures
      7. As John the Baptist observed one almost continual fast, his diet being locusts and wild honey (Mr 1:6), his disciples naturally had great respect for that rite, and noted the lack of its observance by Jesus as an apparent defect in his character.  Fourfold Gospel
  2. Prayers
    1. Long and solemn. John Wesley Notes on Luke 5:33
    2. and make prayers Treasury of Scripture Knowledge
      • Luke 11:1
      • Luke 20:47
      • Proverbs 28:9
      • Isaiah 1:15
      • Matthew 6:5
      • Matthew 23:14
      • Mark 12:40
      • Acts 9:11
      • Romans 10:2,3
    3. Book of Psalms and the Psaltar
    4. Selected Examples of Jewish Prayers (source: Wikipedia)
      Amidah עמידה The "standing [prayer]", also known as the Shemoneh Esreh ("The Eighteen") prayer, is the essential component of the Jewish services. It is said three times a day (four times on holidays, and five times on Yom Kipur).
      Shema Yisrael שמע ישראל A centerpiece of Jewish prayer services which affirms belief and trust in the One God, the Shema is composed of three sections taken from the Torah.
      Kaddish קדיש An Aramaic prayer which focuses on the idea of magnification and sanctification of God's name. It is usually associated as a prayer said for the dead, but several versions exist. (the Mourner's Kaddish itself does not actually mention death.)
      Aleinu עלינו The Aleinu praises God for allowing the Jewish people to serve him, and expresses their hope that the whole world will recognize God and abandon idolatry.
      Birkat Cohanim ברכת כהנים The "Priestly Blessing," recited by the Kohanim on Jewish holidays (every day in Israel).
      Ein Keloheinu אין כאלהינו A lyrical prayer recited at the end of services on Shabbat and holidays, praising God's uniqueness.
      Hallel הלל Psalms 113–118, recited as a prayer of praise and thanksgiving on Jewish holidays. Hallel is said in one of two forms: Full Hallel and Partial Hallel.
      Kol Nidre כל‑נדרי A prayer recited in the synagogue at the beginning of the evening service on Yom Kippur (יום כיפור), the Day of Atonement. It is a declaration of absolution from vows taken, to free the congregants from guilt due to unfulfilled vows during the previous (and coming) year.
      Shehecheyanu שהחינו The blessing for special (once a year) occasions, recited on holidays and other special occasions.
      Birkat HaMazon ברכת המזון The blessing after meals, thanking God for the food and His support in general.
      Tefilat HaDerech תפלת הדרך The traveler's prayer for a safe journey.
      Birkat HaBayit ברכת הבית A blessing for the home often found inside on wall plaques or hamsas.
      Ma Tovu מה טובו A prayer of reverence for the synagogue, recited in the morning upon entering.


    5. Formal Christian Prayers in the United Methodist Ecumenical Tradition
      1. Liturgy of the Hours / Breviary (Maintained by The Roman Catholic Church)
        1. Based on each 3rd hour (3 pm the Hour of Our Lord's Death)
        2. Origins
          The early Christians continued the Jewish practice of reciting prayers at certain hours of the day or night. In the Psalms we find expressions like "in the morning I offer you my prayer"; "At midnight I will rise and thank you" ; "Evening, morning and at noon I will cry and lament"; "Seven times a day I praise you". The Apostles observed the Jewish custom of praying at the third, sixth and ninth hour and at midnight (Acts 10:3, 9; 16:25; etc.). The Christian prayer of that time consisted of almost the same elements as the Jewish: recital or chanting of psalms, reading of the Old Testament, to which were soon added readings of the Gospels, Acts, and epistles, and canticles such as the Gloria in Excelsis Deo. Other elements were added later in the course of the centuries.  source:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liturgy_of_the_Hours
        3. Canonical Hours
          By the end of the fifth century, the Liturgy of the Hours was composed of a Vigil or Night Service and seven day offices, of which Prime and Compline seem to be the last to appear, since the fourth-century Apostolic Constitutions VIII, iv, 34 does not mention them in the exhortation: "Offer up your prayers in the morning, at the third hour, the sixth, the ninth, the evening, and at cock-crowing".[3]These eight hours were known by the following names:
          • Matins (during the night), sometimes referred to as Vigils or Nocturns; it is now called the Office of Readings.
          • Lauds or Dawn Prayer (at Dawn)
          • Prime or Early Morning Prayer (First Hour = 6 a.m.)
          • Terce or Mid-Morning Prayer (Third Hour = 9 a.m.)
          • Sext or Midday Prayer (Sixth Hour = 12 noon)
          • None or Mid-Afternoon Prayer (Ninth Hour = 3 p.m.)
          • Vespers or Evening Prayer ("at the lighting of the lamps")
          • Compline or Night Prayer (before retiring)

          In the Roman Catholic Church, Prime was suppressed by the Second Vatican Council, reducing the number of canonical hours to the Biblical seven.  source:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liturgy_of_the_Hours

      2. Book of Common Prayer (Maintained by The Anglican Church)
        • The Daily Office:  Morning, Noonday, Evening, Compline (p. 37 cf)
      3. Book of Worship (Maintained by The United Methodist Church)
        • Daily Praise and Prayer:  Morning, Midday, Evening, Night (p. 568 cf).
      4. United Methodist Hymnal
        • Orders of Daily Praise and Prayer:  Morning, Evening (p. 876)
    6. Formal prayer patterns of Judaism, Christianity and Other Religions
    7. Parable of the Pharisee and the Publican, Luke 18: 9-14


  3. Fasting
    1.  Probably meaning that they did not fast so frequently as the others did, or for the same purposes, which is very likely, for the Pharisees had many superstitious fasts. They fasted in order to have lucky dreams, to obtain the interpretation of a dream, or to avert the evil import of a dream. They also fasted often, in order to obtain the things they wished for. The tract, Taanith is full of these fasts, and of the wonders performed thus by the Jewish doctors.  Adam Clarke Commentary
    2. Example Bible Passages on Fasting
      • Joel 2:11-13
        [ A Call to Repentance ] “ Now, therefore,” says the LORD, “ Turn to Me with all your heart, With fasting, with weeping, and with mourning.”   Joel 2:12
      • Matthew 6:15-18
        [ Fasting to Be Seen Only by God ] “Moreover, when you fast, do not be like the hypocrites, with a sad countenance. For they disfigure their faces that they may appear to men to be fasting. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward.  Matthew 6:16
      • Mark 9:28-30
        So He said to them, “This kind can come out by nothing but prayer and fasting.”  Mark 9:29
      • Luke 2:36-38
        and this woman was a widow of about eighty-four years, who did not depart from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day.  Luke 2:37
      • Acts 10:29-31
        So Cornelius said, “Four days ago I was fasting until this hour; and at the ninth hour I prayed in my house, and behold, a man stood before me in bright clothing,  Acts 10:30
      • Acts 14:22-24
        So when they had appointed elders in every church, and prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord in whom they had believed.  Acts 14:23
      • 2 Corinthians 6:4-6
        in stripes, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labors, in sleeplessness, in fastings;  2 Corinthians 6:5
  4. Bridegroom
    1. The children of the bride chamber-The companions of the bridegroom.

      Mourn-Mourning and fasting usually go together. As if he had said, While I am with them, it is a festival time, a season of rejoicing, not mourning. But after I am gone, all my disciples likewise shall be in fastings often.
      John Wesley Notes
    2. "bridegroom is with"
      • Matthew 25:1,10;
      • John 3:29;
      • Revelation 21:2
        Albert Barnes Commentary
  5. New cloth
    1. The words in the original properly signify cloth that hath not passed through the fuller's hands, and which is consequently much harsher than what has been washed and worn; and therefore yielding less than that, will tear away the edges to which it is sewed.  John Wesley Notes
    2. So, says he, my new doctrines do not match with the old rites of the Pharisees. There is a fitness of things. Their doctrines required much fasting. In my system it would be incongruous; and if my new doctrines were to be attached to their old ones, it would only make the matter worse.   Albert Barnes Commentary
    3. Jesus came not to repair Israel’s worn vesture, but to bring new robes.
      Even if a mere mending had been aimed at, it could not have been effected
      through his disciples copying old ways.  Spurgeon Commentary on Matthew
  6. New wine
    1. New-Fermenting wine will soon burst those bottles, the leather of which is almost worn out. The word properly means vessels made of goats' skins, wherein they formerly put wine, (and do in some countries to this day) to convey it from place to place.

      Put new wine into new bottles-Give harsh doctrines to such as have strength to receive them.
      John Wesley Notes
    2.  The institutes of Christ, and those of the Pharisees, could never be brought to accord: an attempt to combine the two systems would be as absurd as it would be destructive. The old covenant made way for the new, which was its completion and its end; but with that old covenant the new cannot be incorporated.
      Adam Clarke Commentary
    3. By this and the preceding similitude our Lord teaches that the austerities of the old dispensation, under which John lived, cannot be profitably mixed in with the free spirit of the new.
      Family Bible Notes
    4. His teaching and spirit could not be associated with the Pharisaic order of
      things.  Spurgeon Commentary on Matthew
  7. Old wine (Luke 5:9)
    1. And beside, men are not wont to be immediately freed from old prejudices.  John Wesley Notes
    2. "The prejudiced person will not even try the new, or admit that it has any merits. He knows that the old is pleasant, and suits him; and that is enough; he is not going to change" (Plummer). This is Christ's picture of the reactionary Pharisees.
      Robertson Word Pictures
    3. The meaning of this proverb in this place seems to be this: You Pharisees wish to draw my disciples to the austere and rigid duties of the ceremonial law--to fasting and painful rites; but they have come under a milder system. They have tasted the gentle and tender blessings of the gospel; they have no relish for your stern and harsh requirements. To insist now on their observing them would be like telling a man who had tasted of good, ripe, and mild wine to partake of that which is sour and unpalatable.  Albert Barnes Commentary
    4. When men are taught of Christ, and know by experience the preciousness of his salvation, they will never give up his religion for any other. Good as the advocates of other religions may think theirs to be, the friends of Christ know his to be better.
      Family Bible Notes



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