Out of whom went seven devils - Who had been possessed in a most extraordinary manner; probably a case of inveterate lunacy, brought on by the influence of evil spirits. The number seven may here express the superlative degree.
Mary Magdalene is commonly thought to have been a prostitute before she came to the knowledge of Christ, and then to have been a remarkable penitent. So historians and painters represent her: but neither from this passage, nor from any other of the New Testament, can such a supposition be legitimately drawn. She is here represented as one who had been possessed with seven demons; and as one among other women who had been healed by Christ of evil (or wicked) spirits and infirmities. As well might Joanna and Susanna, mentioned Luke 8:3, come in for a share of the censure as this Mary Magdalene; for they seem to have been dispossessed likewise by Jesus, according to St. Luke's account of them. They had all had infirmities, of what sort it is not said, and those infirmities were occasioned by evil spirits within them; and Jesus had healed them all: but Mary Magdalene, by her behavior, and constant attendance on Jesus in his life-time, at his crucifixion, and at his grave, seems to have exceeded all the other women in duty and respect to his person. Bishop Pearce.
There is a marvellous propensity in commentators to make some of the women mentioned in the Sacred Writings appear as women of ill fame; therefore Rahab must be a harlot; and Mary Magdalene, a prostitute: and yet nothing of the kind can be proved either in the former or in the latter case; nor in that mentioned Luke 7:36, etc., where see the notes. Poor Mary Magdalene is made the patroness of penitent prostitutes, both by Papists and Protestants; and to the scandal of her name, and the reproach of the Gospel, houses fitted up for the reception of such are termed Magdalene hospitals! and the persons themselves Magdalenes! There is not only no proof that this person was such as commentators represent her, but there is the strongest presumptive proof against it: for, if she ever had been such, it would have been contrary to every rule of prudence, and every dictate of wisdom, for Christ and his apostles to have permitted such a person to associate with them, however fully she might have been converted to God, and however exemplary her life, at that time, might have been. As the world, who had seen her conduct, and knew her character, (had she been such as is insinuated), could not see the inward change, and as they sought to overwhelm Christ and his disciples with obloquy and reproach on every occasion, they would certainly have availed themselves of so favorable an opportunity to subject the character and ministry of Christ to the blackest censure, had he permitted even a converted prostitute to minister to him and his disciples. They were ready enough to say that he was the friend of publicans and sinners, because he conversed with them in order to instruct and save their souls; but they could never say he was a friend of prostitutes, because it does not appear that such persons ever came to Christ; or that he, in the way of his ministry, ever went to them. I conclude therefore that the common opinion is a vile slander on the character of one of the best women mentioned in the Gospel of God; and a reproach cast on the character and conduct of Christ and his disciples. From the whole account of Mary Magdalene, it is highly probable that she was a person of great respectability in that place; such a person as the wife of Chuza, Herod's steward, could associate with, and a person on whose conduct or character the calumniating Jews could cast no aspersions.
Infirmities - Sickness.
Mary called Magdalene - So called from “Magdula,” the place of her residence. It was situated on the Sea of Galilee, south of Capernaum. To this place Jesus retired after feeding the 4,000. See the notes at Matthew 15:39.
Out of whom went - By the power of Jesus.
Seven devils - The word “seven” is often used for an indefinite number, and “may” signify merely “many” devils. The expression is used to signify that she was grievously tormented, and rendered, doubtless, insane by the power of evil spirits. See the notes at Matthew 4:24. It has been commonly supposed that Mary Magdalene was a woman of abandoned character, but of this there is not the least evidence. All that we know of her is that she was formerly grievously afflicted by the presence of those evil spirits, that she was perfectly cured by Jesus, and that afterward she became one of his most faithful and humble followers. She was at his crucifixion John 19:25 and burial Mark 15:47, and she was among those who had prepared the materials to embalm him Mark 16:1, and who first went to the sepulchre after the resurrection; and what is particularly interesting in her history, she was the first to whom the risen Redeemer appeared Mark 16:9, and his conversation with her is exceeded in interest and pathos by no passage of history, sacred or profane, John 20:11-18.
How Sweet the Consciousness of a Divine Friend—Your compassionate Redeemer is watching you with love and sympathy, ready to hear your prayers and to render you the assistance which you need. He knows the burdens of every mother's heart and is her best friend in every emergency. His everlasting arms support the God-fearing, faithful mother. When upon earth, He had a mother that struggled with poverty, having many anxious cares and perplexities, and He sympathizes with every Christian mother in her cares and anxieties. That Saviour who took a long journey for the purpose of relieving the anxious heart of a woman whose daughter was possessed by an evil spirit will hear the mother's prayers and will bless her children. AH 204.1
He who gave back to the widow her only son as he was carried to the burial is touched today by the woe of the bereaved mother. He who wept tears of sympathy at the grave of Lazarus and gave back to Martha and Mary their buried brother; who pardoned Mary Magdalene; who remembered His mother when He was hanging in agony upon the cross; who appeared to the weeping women and made them His messengers to spread the first glad tidings of a risen Saviour—He is woman's best friend today and is ready to aid her in all the relations of life.1 AH 204.2
No work can equal that of the Christian mother. She takes up her work with a sense of what it is to bring up her children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. How often will she feel her burden's weight heavier than she can bear; and then how precious the privilege of taking it all to her sympathizing Saviour in prayer! She may lay her burden at His feet and find in His presence a strength that will sustain her and give her cheerfulness, hope, courage, and wisdom in the most trying hours. How sweet to the careworn mother is the consciousness of such a friend in all her difficulties! If mothers would go to Christ more frequently and trust Him more fully, their burdens would be easier, and they would find rest to their souls.2 AH 204.3Read in context »
Jesus here refers to a class who have no desire to escape from the slavery of sin. By indulgence in the corrupt and vile their natures have become so degraded that they cling to the evil and will not be separated from it. The servants of Christ should not allow themselves to be hindered by those who would make the gospel only a matter of contention and ridicule. MB 129.1
But the Saviour never passed by one soul, however sunken in sin, who was willing to receive the precious truths of heaven. To publicans and harlots His words were the beginning of a new life. Mary Magdalene, out of whom He cast seven devils, was the last at the Saviour's tomb and the first whom He greeted in the morning of His resurrection. It was Saul of Tarsus, one of the most determined enemies of the gospel, who became Paul the devoted minister of Christ. Beneath an appearance of hatred and contempt, even beneath crime and degradation, may be hidden a soul that the grace of Christ will rescue to shine as a jewel in the Redeemer's crown. MB 129.2Read in context »
Jesus Knows Women's Burdens—He who gave back to the widow her only son as he was being carried to the burial, is touched today by the woe of the bereaved mother. He who gave back to Mary and Martha their buried brother, who wept tears of sympathy at the grave of Lazarus, who pardoned Mary Magdalene, who remembered His mother when He was hanging in agony upon the cross, who appeared to the weeping women after His resurrection, and made them His messengers to preach a risen Saviour saying, “Go tell My disciples that I go to My Father and to your Father, to My God and to your God,” is woman's best friend today and ready to aid her in her need if she will trust Him.—The Health Reformer, August, 1877. WM 156.1
Wonderful Mission of Women—Seventh-day Adventists are not in any way to belittle woman's work.—Gospel Workers, 453. WM 157.1Read in context »