No man puts a piece of new cloth onto an old garment, for that which is put on to fill it up takes from the garment, and the tear is made worse.
Read Chapter 9
George Leo Haydock
A piece of raw cloth. By the Greek is signified new-woven cloth, that has not yet passed the hands of the fuller. (Witham)
And no one putteth Christ, by these similitudes, justifies the manner of life which he taught his disciples, which at first was adapted to their understandings; lest, if in the beginning, he had required them to fast contrary to what they had been accustomed, they might have been frightened at the austerity of his institute, and deserted him. He compares, therefore, his disciples to an old garment, and to old bottles; and an austere mode of life to new clothes and new wine. And he argues, that if we do not put new cloth to an old garment, because it tears the garment the more, nor put new wine into old bottles, because by its fermentation it would easily break them, so in like manner his disciples, who had been accustomed to a less rigid mode of life, were not at once to be initiated into an austere discipline, lest they should sink under the difficulty, and relin...
Once again Jesus constructs his argument with illustrations from common life. And what he says is something like this: “The disciples have not yet become strong. They still need a lot of help at a level they can understand. They have not yet been regenerated by the Spirit. At this time there is no need to dump on them a load of commandments while they are still in this learning period.” He therefore proceeded gradually to set maxims and precepts for his disciples within the times of their stepbystep maturing, as they were better prepared to receive them. This was to teach them later to deal very gently with others, when the time would come that they would be taking this message to the whole world and receiving as disciples all sorts of persons. The Gospel of Matthew, Homily
Then what He had done before, this He does here again. I mean, that as He, when they were attempting to prove Him blameable for eating with sinners, proved to them on the contrary, that His proceeding was not only no blame, but an absolute praise to Him: so here too, when they wanted to show of Him, that He knows not how to manage His disciples, He signifies that such language was the part of men not knowing how to manage their inferences, but finding fault at random.
For no man, says He, puts a piece of new cloth unto an old garment.
He is again establishing His argument by illustrations from common life. And what He says is like this, The disciples have not yet become strong, but still need much condescension. They have not yet been renewed by the Spirit, and on persons in that state one ought not to lay any burden of injunctions.
And these things He said, setting laws and rules for His own disciples, that when they should have to receive as disciples those of all sorts that...
He says that the fabric of the old law was worn away by Judaic zealousness, corrupted by the senses, split apart by factions and worn out by impure actions. The shrunk cloth of the gospel he calls a garment. But make note of the cloth, not simply the tear but the beginning of the weave. First of all, the fabric of Christ’s royal garment was woven out of wool that came from a lamb: “The Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.” The royal vestment was a woven vestment, which the blood of his passion tinged with purple splendor.