Ver 1. And they came over unto the other side of the sea, into the country of the Gadarenes.2. And when He was come out of the ship, immediately there met Him out of the tombs a man with an unclean spirit,3. Who had his dwelling among the tombs; and no man could bind him, no, not with chains:4. Because that he had been often bound with fetters and chains, and the chains had been plucked asunder by him, and the fetters broken in pieces: neither could any man tame him.5. And always, night and day, he was in the mountains, and in the tombs, crying, and cutting himself with stones.6. But when he saw Jesus afar off, he ran and worshipped Him.7. And cried with a loud voice, and said, “What have I to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of the most high God? I adjure thee by God, that Thou torment me not.”8. For He said unto him, “Come out of the man, thou unclean spirit.”9. And He asked him, “What is thy name?” And he answered, saying, “My name is Legion: for we are many.”10. And he besought Him much that He would not send them away out of the country.11. Now there was nigh unto the mountains a great herd of swine feeding.12. And all the devils besought Him, saying, “Send us into the swine, that we may enter into them.”13. And forthwith Jesus gave them leave. And the unclean spirits went out, and entered into the swine: and the herd ran violently down a steep place into the sea, (they were about two thousand;) and were choked in the sea.14. And they that fed the swine fled, and told it in the city, and in the country. And they went out to see what it was that was done.15. And they come to Jesus, and see him that was possessed with the devil, and had the legion, sitting, and clothed, and in his right mind: and they were afraid.16. And they that saw it told them how it befell to him that was possessed with the devil, and also concerning the swine.17. And they began to pray Him to depart out of their coasts.18. And when He was come into the ship, he that had been possessed with the devil prayed Him that he might be with Him.19. Howbeit Jesus suffered him not, but saith unto him, “Go home to thy friends, and tell them how great things the Lord hath done for thee, and hath had compassion on thee.”20. And he departed, and began to publish in Decapolis how great things Jesus had done for him: and all men did marvel.
Theophylact: Those who were in the ship enquired among themselves, “What manner of man is this?” and now it is made known Who He is by the testimony of His enemies. For the demoniac came up confessing that He was the Son of God. Proceeding to which circumstance the Evangelist says, “And they came over unto the other side, &c.”
Bede, in Marc., 2, 21: Geraza is a noted town of Arabia, across the Jordan, near mount Galaad, which the tribe of Manasseh held, not far from the lake of Tiberias, into which the swine were precipitated.
Pseudo-Chrys., Vict. Ant. e Cat. in Marc.: Nevertheless the exact reading contains neither Gadarenes, nor Gerasines, but Gergesenes. For Gadara is a city of Judaea, which has no sea at all about it; and Geraza is a city of Arabia, having neither lake nor sea near it. And that the Evangelists may not be thought to have spoken so manifest a falsehood, well acquainted as they were with the parts around Judaea, Gergese, from which come the Gergesenes, was an ancient city, now called Tiberias, around which is situated a considerable lake. [ed. note: Reland seems to feel the same difficulty about Gadara as the author of this comment; but he reconciles it by saying that the whole region might have been so called from the town of Gadara in Peroea, though the town itself was not on the lake. Reland, Palace., v2, p774, also Lightfoot, Horae Hebr. in locum.] It continues, “And when He was come out of the ship, immediately there met Him, &c.”
Augustine, de Con. Evan., 2, 24: Though Matthew says that there were two, Mark and Luke mention one, that you may understand that one of them was a more illustrious person, concerning whose state that country was much afflicted.
Chrys., Vict. Ant. e Cat. in Marc., see Chrys., Hom. in Matthew, 28: Or else, Mark and Luke relate what was most worthy of compassion, and for this reason they put down more at length what had happened to this man; for there follows, “no man could bind him, no, not with chains.”
They therefore simply said, a “man possessed of a devil,” without taking heed to the number; or else, that he might shew the greater virtue in the Worker; for He who had cured one such, might cure many others. Nor is there any discrepancy shewn here, for they did not say that there was one alone, for then they would have contradicted Matthew. Now devils dwelt in tombs, wishing to convey a false opinion to many, that the souls of the dead were changed to devils.
Greg. Nyss.: Now the assembly of the devils had prepared itself to resist the Divine power. But when He was approaching Who had power over all things, they proclaim aloud His eminent virtue. Wherefore there follows, “But when he saw Jesus afar off, he ran and worshipped him, saying, &c.”
Cyril: See how the devil is divided between to passions, fear and audacity; he hangs back and prays, as if meditating a question; he wishes to know what he had to do with Jesus, as though he would say, “Do you cast me out from men, who are mine?”
Bede: And how great is the impiety of the Jews, to say that He cast out devils by the prince of the devils, when the very devils confess that they have nothing in common with Him.
Chrys., Vict. Ant. e Cat. in Marc., and Chrys., Hom. in Matt., 28: Then praying to Him, he subjoins, “I adjure thee by God, that Thou torment me not.” For he considered being cast out to be a torment, or else he was also invisibly tortured. For however bad the devils are, they know that there awaits them at last a punishment for their sins; but that the time of their last punishment was not yet come, they full well knew, especially as they were permitted to mix among men. But because Christ had come upon them as they were doing such dreadful deeds, they thought that such was the heinousness of their crimes, He would not wait for the last times, to punish them; for this reason they beg that they may not be tormented.
Bede: For it is a great torment for a devil to cease to hurt a man, and the more severely he possesses him, the more reluctantly he lets him go. For it goes on, “For He said unto Him, Come out of the man, thou unclean spirit.”
Cyril: Consider the unconquerable power of Christ; He makes Satan shake, for to him the words of Christ are fire and flame: as the Psalmist says, “The mountains melted at the presence of the Lord, [Psa_97:5] that is, great and proud powers. There follows, “And He asked him, What is thy name?”
Theophylact: The Lord indeed asks, not that He Himself required to know, but that the rest might know that there was a multitude of devils dwelling in him.
Pseudo-Chrys., Vict. Ant. e Cat. in Marc.: Lest he should not be believed, if He affirmed there were many, He wishes that they themselves should confess it; wherefore there follows, “And he saith unto Him, Legion, for we are many.” He gives not a fixed number, but a multitude, for such accuracy in the number would not help us to understand it.
Bede: But by the public declaration of the scourge which the madman suffered the virtue of the Healer appears more gracious. And even the priests of our time, who know how to cast out devils by the grace of exorcism, are wont to say that the sufferers cannot be cured at all, unless they in confession openly declare, as far as they are able to know, what they have suffered from the unclean spirits in sight, in hearing, in taste, in touch, or any other sense of body or soul, whether awake or asleep. It goes on, “And he besought Him much that He would not send them away out of the country.”
Pseudo-Chrys., Vict. Ant. e Cat. in Marc.: Luke, however, says, “into the abyss.” [Luk_8:3] For the abyss is the separation of this world, for devils deserve to be sent into outer darkness, prepared for the devil and his angels. This Christ might have done, but He allowed them to remain in this world, lest the absence of a tempter should deprive men of the crown of victory.
Theophylact: Also that by fighting with us, they may make us more expert. It goes on, “Now there was there about the mountain a great herd of swine feeding.”
Augustine, de Con. Evan, ii, 24: What Mark here says, that the herd was about the mountain, and what Luke calls on the mountain, are by no means inconsistent. For the herd of swine was so large, that some part were on the mountain, the rest around it. It goes on: “And the devils besought Him, saying, Send us into the swine, that we may enter into them.”
Remig., see Aurea Catena in Matt., p.327: The devils entered not into the swine of their own will, but their asking for this concession was that is might be shewn that they cannot hurt men without Divine permission. They did not ask to be sent into men, because they saw that He, by whose power they were tortured, bore a human form. Nor did they desire to be sent into the flocks, for they are clean animals offered up in the temple of God. But they desired to be sent into the swine, because no animal is more unclean than a hog, and devils always delight in filthiness. It goes on: “And forthwith Jesus gave them leave.”
Bede: And He gave them leave, that by the killing of the swine, the salvation of men might be furthered.
Pseudo-Chyrs., Vict. Ant. e Cat. in Marc.: He wished to shew publicly the fury which devils entertain against men, and that they would inflict much worse things upon men, if they were not hindered by Divine power; because, again, His compassion would not allow this to be shewn on men, He permitted them to enter into the swine, that on them the fury and power of the devils might be made known. There follows: “And the unclean spirits went out.”
Titus: But the herdsmen also took to flight, lest they should perish with the swine, and spread the same fear amongst the inhabitants of the town. Wherefore there follows: “And they that fed them, &c.”
The necessity of their loss, however, brought these men to the Saviour; for frequently when God makes men suffer loss in their possessions, He confers a benefit on their souls.
Wherefore it goes on: “And they came to Jesus, and see him that was tormented by the devil, &c.” that is, at the feet of Him from whom he had obtained health; a man, whom before, not even chains could bind, clothed and in his right mind, though he used to be continually naked; and they were amazed. Wherefore it says, “And they were afraid.” This miracle then they find out partly by sight, partly by words. Wherefore there follows: “And they that saw it told them.”
Theophylact: But amazed at the miracle, which they had heard, they were afraid, and for this reason they beseech Him to depart out of their borders; which is expressed in what follows: “And they began to pray Him to depart out of their coasts;” for they feared lest some time or other they should suffer a like thing: for, saddened at the loss of their swine, they reject the presence of the Saviour.
Bede: Or else, conscious of their own frailty, they judged themselves unworthy of the presence of the Lord. It goes on: “And when He was going to the ship, he that had been tormented, &c.”
Theophylact: For he feared lest some time or other the devils should find him, and enter into him a second time. But the Lord sends him back to his house, intimating to him, that though He Himself was not present, yet His power would keep him; at the same time also that he might be of use in the healing of others. Wherefore it goes on: “And He did not suffer him, and saith unto him, Go home to thy friends, &c.”
See the humility of the Saviour. He said not, ‘Proclaim all things which I have done to you,’ but, all that the Lord hath done; do thou also, when thou hast done any good thing, take it not to thyself, but refer it to God.
Chrys.: But although He bade others, whom He healed, to tell it to no one, He nevertheless fitly bids this one proclaim it, since all that region, being possessed by devils, remained without God.
Theophylact: He therefore began to proclaim it, and all wonder, which, is that which follows: “And he began to publish.”
Bede: Mystically, however, Gerasa or Gergese, as some read it, is interpreted casting out a dweller or a stranger approaching, because the people of the Gentiles both expelled the enemy from the heart, and he who was afar off is made near.
Pseudo-Jerome: Here again the demoniac is the people of the Gentiles, in a most hopeless case, bound neither by the law of nature, nor of God, nor by human fear.
Bede: Who dwelt in the tombs, because they delighted in dead works, that is, in sins; who were ever raging night and day, because whether in prosperity or in adversity, they were never free from the service of malignant spirits: again, by the foulness of their works, they lay as it were in the tombs, in their lofty pride, they wandered over the mountains, by words of most hardened infidelity, they as it were cut themselves with stones.
But he said, “My name is Legion,” because the Gentile people were enslaved to divers idolatrous forms of worship. Again, that the unclean spirits going out from man enter into swine, which they cast headlong into the sea, implies that now that the people of the Gentiles are freed from the empire of demons, they who have not chosen to believe in Christ, work sacrilegious rites in hidden places.
Theophylact: Or by this it is signified that devils enter into those men who live like swine, rolling themselves in the slough of pleasure; they drive them headlong into the sea down the precipice of perdition, into the sea of an evil life where they are choked.
Pseudo-Jerome: Or they are choked in hell without any touch of mercy by the rushing on of an early death; which evils many persons thus avoid, for by the scourging of the fool, the wise is made more prudent.
Bede: But that the Lord did not admit him, though he wished to be with Him, signifies, that every one after the remission of his sins should remember that he must work to obtain a good conscience, and serve the Gospel for the salvation of others, that at last he may rest in Christ.
Greg., Mor., 37: For when we have perceived ever so little of the Divine knowledge, we are at once unwilling to return to human affairs, and seek for the quiet of contemplation; but the Lord commands that the mind should first toil hard at its work, and afterwards should refresh itself with contemplation.
Pseudo-Jerome: But the man who is healed preached in Decapolis, where the Jews, who hang on the letter of the Decalogue, are being turned away from the Roman rule.