What does Matthew 9:16 mean?
ESV: No one puts a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old garment, for the patch tears away from the garment, and a worse tear is made.
NIV: No one sews a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment, for the patch will pull away from the garment, making the tear worse.
NASB: But no one puts a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment; for the patch pulls away from the garment, and a worse tear results.
CSB: No one patches an old garment with unshrunk cloth, because the patch pulls away from the garment and makes the tear worse.
NLT: Besides, who would patch old clothing with new cloth? For the new patch would shrink and rip away from the old cloth, leaving an even bigger tear than before.
KJV: 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.
NKJV: No one puts a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old garment; for the patch pulls away from the garment, and the tear is made worse.
Verse Commentary:
Jesus is answering a question from the disciples of John the Baptist, along with the Pharisees. They have asked why His disciples do not participate in regular fasting as they do (Matthew 9:14). Jesus is answering with three illustrations. First, He referred to wedding guests celebrating the presence of the groom (Matthew 9:15). This verse begins the second example.

Christ notes that nobody who was patching a torn garment would ever use a piece of unshrunk cloth. Natural fibers tend to shrink over time, especially after repeated washing and drying. Stitching brand new fibers over a hole in older cloth will eventually make the hole worse: the patch will shrink and pull away from the hole.

Whether His questioners understood it or not in the moment, Jesus is insisting that He is introducing something new. Judaism, especially as practiced by the Pharisees, is the "old cloth." As the Messiah and Son of God, Jesus had not come to fit into the old way of doing things under the Law. He had come to fulfill the Law (Matthew 5:17), by offering the grace of God. This grace is available to all who come to the Father through faith in Christ's death for their sin on the cross (John 3:16–18).

Even Jesus' own disciples did not yet fully understand. Nevertheless, the arrival of the king, the Messiah, on earth meant that the kingdom was near. Life in the kingdom would not be the same as it had been before the king arrived, even in its religious practices and observations.
Verse Context:
Matthew 9:14–17 begins with a question from the disciples of John the Baptist. They want to know why Jesus' disciples do not fast as they and the Pharisees do. Jesus asks if the wedding guests should mourn while the bridegroom is with them. They will fast when the bridegroom is taken away. Then Jesus gives two more illustrations: Nobody would put a patch of new cloth on an old garment or new wine in an old wineskin.
Chapter Summary:
Matthew 9 continues to show how Jesus authenticated His claims to be the Messiah by powerful miracles of healing and casting out demons. He heals a paralyzed man after telling the man his sins are forgiven. He calls Matthew to follow Him and eats dinner with Matthew and other tax collectors. He answers questions from Pharisees and others. A woman who touches His cloak is healed from a 12–year illness, and Jesus raises a dead girl back to life. He restores sight to blind men and speech to one who is demon oppressed. He is filled with compassion for the crowds.
Chapter Context:
Matthew 9 follows the same pattern of Matthew 8, showing through miraculous works of healing that Jesus is truly the Messiah. Christ forgives the sins of a paralyzed man and heals him. He calls Matthew to follow Him and eats with tax collectors and sinners. A woman is healed by touching His garment and a dead girl is given life by the touch of His hand. Two blind men see, and Jesus casts out a demon, restoring speech to its victim. Finally, Jesus declares that the harvest is plentiful and tells His followers to pray for workers. Chapter 10 builds on this compassion as Jesus commissions the Twelve to go and deliver His gospel to the people.
Book Summary:
The Gospel of Matthew clearly shows the influence of its writer's background, and his effort to reach a specific audience. Matthew was one of Jesus' twelve disciples, a Jewish man, and a former tax collector. This profession would have required literacy, and Matthew may have transcribed some of Jesus' words as they were spoken. This book is filled with references to the Old Testament, demonstrating to Israel that Jesus is the Promised One. Matthew also includes many references to coins, likely due to his former profession. Matthew records extensive accounts of Jesus' teaching, more than the other three Gospels.
Accessed 5/26/2024 8:09:07 AM
© Copyright 2002-2024 Got Questions Ministries. All rights reserved.
Text from ESV, NIV, NASB, CSB, NLT, KJV, NKJV © Copyright respective owners, used by permission.