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When the crowd saw this, they were filled with awe; and they praised God, who had given such authority to man. (Matt. 9:8)

When it says "who had given such authority to men", is this what the crowd believed or was this Matthew saying that God gave the authority to men.

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2 Answers 2

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Most likely this is the crowd's appraisal.

In looking it over there aren't any obvious clues in the text that would nudge us to conclude that Matthew is including this as a parenthetical thought. It reads:

  • “ἰδόντες δὲ οἱ ὄχλοι ἐφοβήθησαν καὶ ἐδόξασαν τὸν θεὸν τὸν δόντα ἐξουσίαν τοιαύτην τοῖς ἀνθρώποις.” (Μαθθαῖον 9·8 THGNT-T)
  • "When the crowd saw this, they became amazed and glorified the God who gave this kind of authority to humans." (translation mine)

Likewise, in the context, they aren't shy about saying what they thought. And, especially in a public setting, praise was not an internal occupation. It was external and spoken.

Finally, in a somewhat parallel example, in Luke, we read:

14 Then he went up and touched the bier they were carrying him on, and the bearers stood still. He said, “Young man, I say to you, get up!” 15 The dead man sat up and began to talk, and Jesus gave him back to his mother. 16 They were all filled with awe and praised God. “A great prophet has appeared among us,” they said. “God has come to help his people.” (Luke 7:14–16 NIV11-GKE)

Calling Jesus "a great prophet" isn't that much different than recognizing that "God gave this kind of authority to humans."

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It may help to compare Matthew's account to Mark's, Luke's and John's. A typical translation of Mark's version is:

And he rose, and immediately took up the pallet and went out before them all; so that they were all amazed and glorified God, saying, “We never saw anything like this!” (Mk 2:12)

Luke 5:26 treats the story similarly to Mark saying: 'struck with awe, they said “We have seen incredible things today.”' In the account of John 5, the crowd expresses no awe, but "the Jews" react very negatively (some interpreters such as NIV render this as "the Jewish leaders.")

Mark's and Luke's versions are more straightforward and journalistic than Matthew's, reporting what the people said, rather than what they felt. But this does not completely resolve the OP's question, because the people may indeed have said "Praise God, who gives men such authority." Matthew also may be telling us how he understood the reason for their praising God even though they didn't verbally express it. Or, as the OP suggests, he may be expressing his own opinion about why God deserved praise in this situation. However, Matthew does not tell us directly, while the report in Mark and Luke sticks to the clearer fact of what the people said.

I conclude that Mark and Luke make objective statements about what the people said. Matthew makes a subjective statement about what he understood from their praising God. I would lean toward this being a report of why he thought the crowd praised God, rather than his own reason for believing that God deserved praise.


Note: In dealing with this question, readers should also consider whether they think Matthew based his account on Mark's or vice versa, and/or whether either them were aware of Luke's versions. This site has several questions addressing this.

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