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Bible Commentaries
Matthew 4

Carroll's Interpretation of the English BibleCarroll's Biblical Interpretation

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Verses 1-11



Harmony pages 16-17 and Matthew 4:1-11; Luke 4:1-18.

In the preceding chapter we have submitted some general observations on the wilderness temptation of Jesus, and its continuance throughout the forty days’ fast by mental suggestion from Satan, himself invisible. We are now to consider the three special temptations at the conclusion of the long fast, when to Jesus, exhausted and faint with hunger, Satan visibly appears and urges on him in rapid succession the consummation of his assault. We follow the better and more logical order of Matthew’s history.

"If thou art the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread." Here, first of all, it is important to note that the mood, "if thou art," is indicative, not subjunctive. We must not let the "if" mislead us. So the word "Son" is emphatic in the Greek. In some way Satan had learned that at the baptism the Father in heaven audibly proclaimed, "This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased." Therefore it does not fall in with his plan of temptation to commence with an express doubt of the Sonship of Jesus, as the subjunctive mood, "If thou be," would have certainly implied. The phrase means, "Since," or "seeing thou art the Son of God" – Son emphatic. In other words, his first temptation assumes the Sonship, with all power to work miracles: "Being God’s Son in the highest sense, able to do wonders, being faint with hunger after a long fast, far from any food supply, convert this stone into a loaf of bread and satisfy thy hunger." The temptation was very subtle.

Our Lord replies at once with a scripture magnifying the written word as the standard of human life, quoting Deuteronomy 8:3: "It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God," which means, "I am here and hungering under divine appointment. The Spirit led me here. In the way he appointed I must wait on his word and trust him to supply my needs. To resort to miracle to supply my need would show under confidence in God."

He might have truly said, "I will never work a miracle in my own behalf. The miracle-working power I possess is for the benefit of others."

Or, as truly, "I will never do a wonder at the demand of others, particularly of my enemies, nor to gratify curiosity, nor for self-display. Or, he might have said, "If I, at the first difficulty after my inauguration, extricate myself as selfish miracle, bow can my people in their trials find in my course an example?" The passage in Deuteronomy clearly shows that God often placed his people in trying circumstances, "to humble them, to prove them, to know what was in their hearts," in order to see if they would trust him and obey him. Life is not a matter of food and clothes and shelter, but of fearing God and keeping his commandments. The thirty-seventh Psalm expresses our Lord’s attitude: Trust in Jehovah, and do good; Dwell in the land, and feed on his faithfulness. Delight thyself also in Jehovah; And he will give thee the desires of thy heart. Commit thy way unto Jehovah; Trust also in him, and he will bring it to pass. And he will make thy righteousness to go forth as the light, And thy justice as the noonday. Rest in Jehovah, and wait patiently for him: They shall not be put to shame in the time of evil; And in the days of famine they shall be satisfied. A man’s goings are established of Jehovah; And he delighteth in his way. Though he fall, be shall not be utterly cast down; For Jehovah upholdeth him with his hand. I have been young, and now am old; Yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, Nor his seed begging bread. The law of his God is in his heart; None of his steps shall slide. – Psalms 37:3-7; Psalms 37:19; Psalms 37:23-25; Psalms 37:31

I cite a simple, practical illustration: In my early pastorate at Waco, I found one of my members keeping a retail dramshop. He was much confused at seeing me, and said:

"Well, parson, a man must live."

"Not necessarily," I replied; "it may be best for him to die. But it is necessary, while he lives, to live in God’s ways and to trust him. You cannot serve God in this business."

Another case I recall, while holding a meeting at Chappel Hill, Texas. Through the unswerving faith, labors, and prayers of a Christian wife, a hard, bad man was brought to accept Christ. Just as he was about to be baptized, I put my hand on him and said:

"Isn’t there something you ought to say to these people before you are baptized?"

He knew that I knew his sole business was the keeping of a low liquor house with a gambling adjunct.

"You mean about my business?"


"Parson, everything I have in the world is in that business; what ought I say?"

"Don’t ask me. You are now the Lord’s man; ask him."

He put his hand in his pocket and drew out a key, passing it to a deacon, and said:

"There’s the key to my liquor shop. Don’t sell my stock. Pour it out. Lock the door. I will never enter it again while I live."

Then, with face illuminated, he was baptized.

The bread and meat question can never be answered right, apart from our higher relations with God and confidence in his care. Well did our Lord say later, "Be not anxious for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than the food, and the body than the raiment?"


"Then the devil taketh him into the holy city; and he set him on the pinnacle of the temple, and saith unto him, if thou art the Son of God, cast thyself down: for it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning thee: and, on their hands they shall bear thee up, lest haply thou dash thy foot against a stone. Jesus said unto him, Again it is written, Thou shalt not make trial of the Lord thy God."

What a change of scene! We have left the wilderness. This is Jerusalem. This is the Temple. The transition is rapid. There is no delay. On a wing of the Temple our Lord looks down from his dizzy height into the deep chasm far below. Satan is with him. Having failed on the line of "under-confidence" in God, he resorts to the other extreme, "over-confidence," or presumption. It is as if he had said, "You did well to trust God for food. It is that trust to which I now appeal. You did well to cite the Holy Scriptures. To the Scriptures I now appeal. Trust God, believe this scripture, and cast thyself down this precipice." And what a scripture he cites!

Psalm 91 is the loftiest hymn of confidence in God and the highest expression of the security of one trusting in God in the whole Bible and in all the literature of the world.

It commences: "He that dwelleth in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of Jehovah, He is my refuge and my fortress; my God, in whom I trust." Let the reader read all of it over again, and imagine that he sees Satan’s finger pointing to the angel passage, and hears him say, "It is written."

Our Lord’s reply comes like a double bolt of lightning, "Again it is written, thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God." What a light on biblical interpretation – "Again it is written!" Scripture must interpret scripture. We may not draw a vital conclusion from a single detached passage, severed from its context, and dislocated from the unity of truth. What a lesson to text heretics and faddists going off on a tangent from the circle of truth! That very psalm illustrates the power of the reply of Jesus: "For he will deliver thee from the snare of the fowler" (Psalm 91-93).

The devil and infidels are never harmonists. They try to make one passage contradict and fight another. They misapply. They put the finger on David’s sin with Uriah’s wife, and then say, "It is written that David was a man after God’s own heart."

"Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God." We have already shown that the word "tempt" may have a good or bad sense according to the object or method. We may test or prove God by implicit obedience when he commands, and by absolute trust in his promises when we are in his appointed way. Hear Jehovah’s own words: "Bring ye the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house, and prove me now herewith, saith Jehovah of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it" (Malachi 3:10).

"Prove me now herewith." It would have been presumption for Israel to have rushed into the Red Sea on their own initiative, but it was the sublime audacity of faith after God said, "Go forward" It was the devil, not Jehovah, who said, "Cast thyself down." The psalm passage cited would have been pertinent if Jehovah had said, "Cast thyself down." We may not claim God’s promise in obeying the Devil. We may not invent or create situations of difficulty in order to prove God’s protecting care. Let us stick to the King’s highway and we will find no lion there.

It is said that when one of the fathers rebuked a demon for taking possession of a Christian, the demon replied: "I never went to the church after him; but when he came to the drinking and gambling hells, on my territory, I occupied him."

To whom the father replied, "To be perfectly fair, even to the devil, I must admit that you make out your case as to occupying him when found in your territory, but as he now comes penitently home, you can’t stay in him. So get out. But, by the way, you may roar at any other Christian, sojourning in your territory."

There is a last change of scene. So far, there is no reason to suppose a miracle in the shifting of the scenes. Jesus went in a natural way to Jerusalem as he had gone to the wilderness, and as he now ascends the mountain. But there is something above the natural in the way Satan, "in one moment of time" exhibits and Jesus sees the kingdoms of the world and the glory of them. We may not crudely suppose that from any mountain, however high, the whole world would be visible to the natural eye, nor even if the world were flat instead of a globe, that any natural eye would have the keenness of vision to sweep discerningly so vast a horizon, nor especially to master and weigh its complicated details in a moment of time.

But the inner eye may see things invisible. Satan, the high intellectual spirit, in addressing the higher intellectual spirit of Jesus could exhibit the world kingdoms and their glory in one great cyclorama. One may ask, Why then ascend a mountain for a viewpoint? The answer is not difficult when we consider that all these temptations are addressed to Jesus, the man. It will help us to get at the reason if we recall the history of Balaam (Numbers 22:24) where by changing the place of divination a new effort was made to curse Israel (Numbers 23:13). Or by recalling Grant’s assaults on General Lee: if he failed at one point, he rapidly shifted the scene of the battle to another point, calling for new and swift readjustment. It is human nature for an army to fight better when it knows and has tried a battlefield, and to be subject to disorder and panic when called suddenly to a new and untried field, necessitating rapid movement of troops, new plans of defense, and new lines of battle.

Jesus was a man. As a man he was subject to all the sensations attending the rapid shiftings of the scenes of conflict, particularly in the faintness of hunger called to make long marches. As has been said, the temptations are on the line of "under-confidence, over-confidence, and other confidence." This last temptation touches the very mission of Jesus. He came to fulfil man’s original commission to "subdue the earth and exercise dominion over it." He came to set up a world kingdom. Satan exhibits the kingdoms of the world and the glory of them. Then hear him: "All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me" (Matthew 4:9). "To thee will I give all this authority, and the glory of them: for it hath been delivered unto me; and to whomsoever I will give it. If thou, therefore, wilt worship before me it shall all be thine."

First of all, let us consider the veracity of Satan’s claim to world empire, and his power to bestow it. Commentators generally allege that Satan lied outright. If their contention be true, there was no temptation at all. On the other hand, he became de facto prince of this world when he defeated the first man, God’s son by creation. He confirmed his title by defeating Israel, God’s national son. The world empires, Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, Persia, Greece, and Rome were largely raised to power by him and derived their systems of idolatry from him. The Scriptures call him the prince of this world and add that through his domination "the whole world lieth in wickedness." He is the author of "the course of this world." Through "the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye, and the pride of life," he reigns over all his usurped territory. He had "the power of death, and through the fear of death kept the people in bondage." As mammon he rules the business world and supplies its maxims of greed. Through national jealousies and ambitions and godless politics he keeps up the burdensome armaments of rival nations.

It is true that Satan’s power is never supreme – that God’s providence overrules all – that limitations tether Satan to a stake, no matter how long the rope. Yet we must concede much of Satan’s high claim.

Our next thought is that Satan’s temptation is on the line of Jewish desire expectation. They wanted a world kingdom with the Jews on top. They were ready at any time to make Jesus king if only he would free them from Roman domination and make Jerusalem the capital of the world. A million Jews would have leaped to arms in a day to follow such a leader.

But look at the Scriptures. God, by prophecy, had said to Jesus, "Ask of me and I will give thee the heathen for thine inheritance and the uttermost part of the earth for thy possession." This, however, was to follow the cross and the resurrection. Satan says, "Worship me, and I will give thee the kingdoms of the world without the cross." This daring impious proposition of Satan to turn God out of his world stirred our Lord into a flame of righteous indignation. He tore all the masks off the tempter. He dragged him into the open light in all his loathsome serpentine length. He uttered the prophetic sentence of final eviction: "Get thee hence, Satan," and struck a conquering blow with the sword of the Spirit: "It is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt -thou serve" (Matthew 4:10). So the first battle ended. It was a presage of the victory in all succeeding battles. It became the slogan of the saints: "Resist the devil, and he will flee from you." "Whom resist stedfast in the faith."

At the close of this chapter we may raise another question: Judging from the silence of the Scriptures, our Lord had not been assaulted by Satan since through his agent, Herod, he sought to take the young child’s life in the massacre of the innocents at Bethlehem. The question is, Why did Satan permit him to grow to manhood without further effort to defeat his mission, till this great occasion? My own judgment is that as Satan is neither omnipresent nor omniscient, he must have supposed that Herod had succeeded in destroying the One concerning whom the Wise Men asked, "Where is he that is king of the Jews?" The flight into Egypt, and the seclusion at Nazareth, Satan does not seem to have known or understood. What startled him from his long inactivity was the inauguration of Christ at his baptism: that voice of the Father; that descent of the Spirit. God kept him in quiet until he had grown in wisdom, until he had been endued with power, until he was ready to undertake his great mission of saving the world.


1. Whose order of the three special temptations is the logical one?

2. What was the scene of the first temptation?

3. Does the phrase, "if thou art the Son of God," imply a doubt of his being the Son of God? If not, explain the "if."

4. What were the words of the first temptation?

5. In his replies to all the temptations, what does our Lord make the standard of human life?

6. From what book of the Pentateuch are all of our Lord’s quotations taken?

7. Give the meaning of our Lord’s use of the quotation, "Man shall not live my bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth from the mouth of God."

8. What other things might he have truly said?

9. What words of Psalm 37 express the Lord’s attitude?

10. Give the substance of the two practical illustrations.

11. In what way alone can the bread and meat question ever be answered right?

12. In the Sermon on the Mount, what pertinent words did our Lord afterward use?

13. What was the scene of the second temptation?

14. In what three words does a writer express the three temptations?

15. Show the process of Satan’s proceeding from the line of under confidence to overconfidence.

16. From what marvelous psalm does Satan quote?

17. From our Lord’s reply, "Again it is written," what lesson of interpretation may be drawn?

18. In the second part of his reply, "Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God," prove that the word "tempt" when applied to God on the part of man, may be lawful and unlawful, and illustrate.

19. Relate the legend of one of the fathers and a demon.

20. What was the scene of the third temptation?

21. Is there necessarily any miracle in shifting the scenes from the wilderness to Jerusalem, and from Jerusalem to the top of the mountain?

22. Show, however, that there must have been something above the natural in Satan’s exhibiting and Christ’s seeing the kingdoms of the world and their glory in a moment of time, and yet how could this be done?

23. Explain why the ascent of the mountain was not for the purpose of a viewpoint, and the reason of Satan’s shifting the scene.

24. This last and crowning temptation touches what.?

25. Give the words of this last temptation.

26. How much of truth is there in Satan’s claim to the sovereignty of the world kingdoms and his authority to give them to whom he will, and yet what the limitations of Satan’s governing the world?

27. How was Satan’s last temptation on a line with Jewish desire and expectation?

28. Prove from a prophetic scripture that God calls upon the Son to ask of him for this world empire, and at what point in the life of Christ to the words of the psalm touch it?

29. When Satan, therefore, tempted Christ to worship him, and receive from him the kingdoms of the world, what the daring and impiety of his proposal?

30. What was the effect on our Lord of this final temptation of Satan’s, and how does he reply?

31. How may we account for Satan’s letting Jesus alone from the time that he sought his death through Herod until this series of temptations?

Verses 17-25



Part I

Harmony pages 85-39 and Matthew 4:17-25; Matthew 8:2-17; Matthew 9:2-26; Mark 1:14-2:22; Mark 5:22-43; Luke 4:14-5:39; Luke 8:41-56; John 4:46-54.

We now come to our Lord’s great ministry m Galilee. We will take a sort of preview of this whole division and then follow it up with more detailed discussions. The general theme of this division of the Harmony is "The kingdom of heaven." We are prone at times to fall into errors of interpretation concerning the kingdom similar to those which led ancient Israel so far and so harmfully astray concerning the advent of the Messiah. Either we so fill our minds with the sublimity of world redemption, as applied to the race, in the outcome, so satisfy our hearts with rhetorical splendor in the glowing description of universal dominion that we lose sight of its application to individuals in our day, and the responsibilities arising from the salvation of one man, or we so concentrate our fancy upon the consummation that we forget the progressive element in the development of the kingdom and the required use of means in carrying on that progress. The former error breeds unprofitable dreamers – the latter promotes skeptics. The preacher is more liable to be led astray by the one, the average church member by the other.

Perhaps the most unprofitable of all sermons is the one full of human eloquence and glowing description excited by the great generalities of salvation, and perhaps the most stubborn of all skepticism is that resulting from disappointment as not witnessing and receiving at once the very climax of salvation, both as to the individual and the race.

Such a spirit of disappointment finds expression in words like these: "The prophecies here of the kingdom are about 1,900 years old. Nineteen centuries have elapsed since the Child was born. Wars have not ceased. The poor are still oppressed. Justice, equity, and righteousness do not prevail. Sorrow, sin, and death still reign. And I am worried and burdened and perplexed. My soul is cast down and disquieted within me." In such case we need to consider the false principles of interpretation which have misled us, and inquire: Have we been fair to the Book and its promise?

Here I submit certain carefully considered statements: (1) The consummation of the Messiah’s kingdom was never promised as an instantaneous result of the birth of the Child. (2) The era of universal peace must follow the utter and eternal removal of things and persons that offend. This will be the harvest of the world. (3) Again, this consummation was never promised as an immediate result, i.e., without the use of means to be employed by Christ’s people. (4) Yet again, this aggregate consummation approaches only by individual reception of the kingdom and individual progress in sanctification. (5) It is safe to say that the promises have been faithfully fulfilled to just the extent that individuals have received the light, walked in the light and discharged the obligations imposed by the gift of the light. These receptive and obedient ones in every age have experienced life, liberty, peace, and joy, and have contributed their part to the ultimate glorious outcome. (6) And this experience in individuals reliably forecasts the ultimate race and world result, and inspires rational hope of its coming. This is a common sense interpretation. In the light of it our duty is obvious. Our concern should be with our day and our lot and our own case as at present environed. The instances of fulfilment cited by the New Testament illustrate and verify this interpretation, particularly that recorded by Matthew as a fulfilment of the prophecies of Isaiah 4-13 inclusive, of his gospel. What dispassionate mind can read these ten chapters of Matthew, with the parallel passages in Mark and Luke, without conceding fulfilment of Isaiah’s prophecies uttered seven centuries before?

Here is the shining of a great light, brighter than all of the material luminaries in the heavens which declare the glory of God and show his handiwork. This is, indeed, the clean, sure and perfect law of the Lord, converting the soul, making wise the simple, rejoicing the heart, enlightening the eyes, enduring forever, more desirable than gold and sweet "r than honey in the honeycomb. Here are judgments true and righteous altogether.

Here in sermon and similitude the incomparable Teacher discloses the principles and characteristics of a kingdom that, unlike anything earth-born, must be from heaven. Here is a fixed, faultless, supreme, and universal standard of morality. The Teacher not only speaks with authority and wisdom, but evidences divinity by supernatural miracles, signs, and wonders. But there is here more than a teacher and wonder worker. He is a Saviour, a Liberator, a Healer, conferring life, liberty, health, peace, and joy. To John’s question – John in prison and in doubt – the answer was conclusive that this, indeed, was the one foreshown by the prophets and there was no need to look for another: "Go and tell John the things which ye hear and see: the blind receive their sight, and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them. And whosoever shall find no occasion for stumbling in me, blessed is he" (Matthew 11:1-4).

The special matter here most worthy of our consideration is that the kingdom of heaven was not expanded by instantaneous diffusion over a community, a nation, or the world, regardless of human personality, activity, and responsibility ill receiving and propagating it, but it took hold of each receptive individual’s heart and worked out on that line toward the consummation.

To as many as received him to them he gave the power to become the sons of God. Those only who walked in the light realized the blessings of progressive sanctification. To the sons of peace, peace came as a thrilling reality. From those who preferred darkness to light) who judged themselves unworthy of eternal life, the proffered peace departed, returning to the evangelists who offered it.

The poor woman whom Satan had bound for eighteen years experienced no imaginary or figurative release from her bonds (Luke 11:10-16). That other woman, who had sinned much, and who, in grateful humility, washed his feet with her tears – was not forgiveness real and sweet to her? That blind Bartimeus who kept crying, "Jesus, thou Son of David, have mercy on me" – did he not receive real sight? That publican, who stood afar off and beat upon his breast, crying, "God, be merciful to me, the sinner" – was he not justified?

And when the Galilean disciples went forth in poverty and weakness preaching his gospel, did they not experience the Joy of the harvest on beholding the ingathering of souls? And when they saw even demons subject to them through the name of Jesus, was not that the joy of victory as when conquerors divide the spoil?

When the stronger than the strong man armed came upon him and bound him, might not our Lord justly say, "As lightning falls from heaven, I saw Satan fall before you"? And just so in our own time.

Every conversion brings life, liberty, peace, and joy to the redeemed soul. Every advance in a higher and better life attests that rest is found at every upward step in the growth of grace. Every talent or pound rightly employed gains 100 per cent for the capital invested, and so the individual Christian who looks persistently into the perfect law of liberty, being not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the Word, is blessed in every deed. Willing to do the will of God, and following on to know the Lord, he not only knows the doctrine to be of God, but experimentally goes on from strength to strength, from grace to grace, and is changed into the divine image from glory to glory.

In the light of these personal experiences he understands how the kingdom of God is invincible, and doubts not the certain coming of the glorious consummation foreshown in prophecy and graciously extended, in the hand of promise. His faith, staggering not through unbelief, takes hold of the invisible, and his hope leaps forward to the final recompense of the reward.

The opening incident of the Galilean ministry is the healing of the nobleman’s son, the second miracle of our Lord in Galilee, and a most remarkable one. The nobleman was Herod’s steward, maybe Chuza, as many suppose, but that is uncertain. The nobleman manifested great faith and it was amply rewarded. This is an illustration of the tenderness with which Jesus ministered to the temporal needs of the people, thus reaching their souls through their bodies. The effect of this miracle was like that of the first: "He himself believed, and his whole house."

The next section (Luke 4:16-31) gives the incident of his rejection at Nazareth. The account runs thus: "And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up: and he entered, as his custom was, into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and stood up to read." How solemn, how sad in its immediate result – how pathetic that scene in Nazareth when the Redeemer announced his mission and issued his proclamation of deliverance: The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, Because he anointed me to publish good tidings to the poor: He hath sent me to proclaim deliverance to the captives, And recovering of sight to the blind, To send crushed ones away free, To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.

Oh! what a day when this scripture was fulfilled in the hearing of the captives I But the Spirit on him was not on them.

As Jewish widows in Elijah’s day, perished of famine, through unbelief, and left to Sarepta’s far-off widow in a foreign land to believe and be blessed with unfailing meal and oil, as Jewish lepers, through unbelief, in Elisha’s day died in uncleanness and loathsomeness while touching elbows with One having power to heal, leaving to a Syrian stranger to wash in Jordan and be clean, so here where Jesus "had been brought up," the people of Nazareth shut their eyes, bugged their chains and died in darkness and under the power of Satan – died unabsolved from sin, died unsanctified and disinherited, and so yet are dying and shall forever die.

The Year of Jubilee came to them in vain. In vain its silver trumpets pealed forth the notes of liberty. They had no ear to hear, and so by consent became slaves of the Terrible One forever.

This brings us to church responsibility and ministerial agency in the perpetuation of this proclamation of mercy. As Paul went forth to far-off shores, announcing in tears, yet with faith and hope and courage, the terms of eternal redemption, so now the churches find in the same mission their warrant for existence, and so now are we sent forth as witnesses to stand before every prison house where souls are immured, commissioned "to open the eyes of the prisoners that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive remission of sins and an inheritance among them that are sanctified by faith in Christ." Ours to blow the silver trumpets and proclaim to captives the year of jubilee. Ours is the evangel of liberty – ours to make known that "if the Son of God make men free, they shall be free indeed."

Leaving Nazareth, Jesus went to Capernaum, where he made his residence from which he radiates in his ministry in Galilee, teaching and healing on a large scale. His work here in Zebulun and Naphtali is a distinct fulfilment of Isaiah 9:1-2, in which he is represented as a great light shining in the darkness. By the sea of Galilee near Capernaum he calls four fishermen to be his partners – Peter, Andrew, James, and John, two sets of brothers. Here he announces his purpose for their lives – to be fishers of men. What a lesson! These men were skilled in their occupation and now Jesus takes that skill and turns it into another direction, toward a greater end, "fishers of men." Here he gives them a sign of his authority and messiahship in the incident of the great draught of fishes. The effect on Peter was marvelous. He was conscious of Christ’s divinity and of his own sinfulness. Thus he makes his confession, Luke 5:8: "Depart from me; for I am a sinful man, O Lord.” But our Lord replied to Peter: "Fear not, from henceforth thou shalt catch men." Later (John 21), when Peter and his comrades went back to their old occupation, the risen Lord appeared to them and renewed their call, performing a miracle of a similar draught of fishes.

In Section 28 (Mark 1:21-28; Luke 4:31-37;) we have his first case of healing a demoniac. What is the meaning of the word "demoniac"? It means demon-possessed, and illustrates the fact of the impact of spirit on spirit, many instances of which we have in the Bible. Here the demons recognized him, which accords with Paul’s statement that he was seen of angels. They believed and trembled as James says, but they knew no conversion. The lesson there is one of faith. The effect of this miracle was amazement at his authority over the demons.

In Section 29 (Matthew 8:14-17; Mark 1:29-34; Luke 4:38-41) we have an account of the healing of Peter’s mother-in-law, which incident gives us light on the social relations of the disciples. Peter was married, the Romanist position to the contrary notwithstanding. Further scriptural evidence of his marriage is found in 2 Corinthians 8:5. It is interesting to compare the parallel accounts of this incident in the Harmony and see how much more graphic is Mark’s account than those of Matthew and Luke. There is a fine lesson here on the relation between the mother-in-law and the son-in-law. Peter is a fine example of such relation. Immediately following the healing of Peter’s wife’s mother those that had sick ones brought them to Jesus and he healed them, thus fulfilling a prophecy of Isaiah, that he should take our infirmities and bear our diseases. Our Lord not only healed their sick ones, but he cast out the demons from many, upon which they recognized him. But he would not let them speak because they knew that he was the Christ.

The effect of our Lord’s great work as described in Section 29 was that Peter tried to work a corner on salvation and dam it up in Capernaum. This is indicated in the account of the interview of Peter with our Lord as described in Section 30 (Matthew 4:23-25; Mark 1:35-39; Luke 4:42-44). Here it is said that Jesus, a great while before day, went out into a desert place to pray, and while out there Peter came to him and complained that they were wanting him everywhere. To this our Lord responded that it was to this end that he had come into the world. So Jesus at once launched out and made three great journeys about Galilee. His first journey included a great mass of teaching and healing, of which we have a few specimens in Sections 31-36, which apparently occurred at Capernaum, his headquarters. A second journey is recorded by Luke in Section 47 (Luke 8:1-3) and a third journey is found in Section 55. (For Broadus’ statement of these tours, see Harmony, p. 31.)

Here we have the occasion of one of the special prayers of Jesus. There are four such occasions in his ministry: (1) At his baptism he prayed for the anointing of the Holy Spirit; (2) here he prayed because of the effort to dam up his work of salvation in Capernaum; (3) the popularity caused by the healing of a leper (Sec. 31 – Matthew 8:2-4; Mark 1:40-45; Luke 5:12-16) drove him to prayer; (4) the fourth occasion was the ordination of the twelve apostles. The immense labors of Jesus are indicated in Matthew 4:23-24. These labors gave him great popularity beyond the borders of Palestine and caused the multitudes from every quarter to flock to him. Attention has already been called to the popularity caused by the healing of the leper (Sec. 31) and Jesus’ prayer as the result.

In the incident of the healing of the paralytic we have a most graphic account by the synoptics and several lessons: (1) That disease may be the result of sin, as “thy sin be forgiven thee”; (2) that of intelligent cooperation; (3) that of persistent effort; (4) that of conquering faith. These are lessons worthy of emulation upon the part of all Christians today. Out of this incident comes the first issue between our Lord and the Pharisees, respecting the authority to forgive sins. This was only a thought of their hearts, but he perceived their thought and rebuked their sin. From this time on they become more bold in their opposition, which finally culminated in his crucifixion. Let the reader note the development of this hatred from section to section of the Harmony.

In Section 33 (Matthew 9:9-13; Mark 2:13-17; Luke 5:27-32) we have the account of the call of Matthew, his instant response and his entertainment of his fellow publicans. Here arose the second issue between Christ and the Pharisees, respecting his receiving publicans and sinners and eating with them. This was contrary to their idea in their self-righteousness, but Jesus replied that his mission was to call sinners rather than the righteous. This issue was greatly enlarged later, in Luke 15, to which he replied with three parables showing his justification and his mission. In this instance (Matthew 9:13) he refutes their contention with a quotation from Hosea which aptly fitted this case: "I desire mercy, and not sacrifice."

Then came to him the disciples of John and made inquiry about fasting, to which he replied with the parable of the sons of the bride chamber, the interpretation of which is that we should let our joy or sorrow fit the occasion, or set fasting ments and old bottles, the interpretation of which is to let the form fit the life; beware of shrinking and expansion.

In Section 35 (Matthew 9:18-25; Mark 5:22-43; Luke 8:41-56) we have the account of his healing of Jairus’ daughter and the healing of the woman with the issue of blood. Usually in the miracles of Christ, and in all preceding miracles, there was the touch of some kind between the healer and the healed. We are informed that great multitudes of people came to Jesus with this confidence, "If I but touch him I shall be healed." Accordingly we find that Christ put his fingers on the eyes of the blind, on the ears of the deaf, or took hold of the hand of the dead. In some way usually there was either presence or contact.

We will now consider the special miracle connected with the fringe of the garment of Jesus which the Romanists cite to justify the usage concerning the relics of the saints. In Numbers 15:38 we have a statute: "Thou shalt put fringes on the wings or ends of the outer garment," and this fringe had in it a cord or ribbon of blue, and the object of it was to remind the wearer of the commandments of God. The outer garment was an oblong piece of cloth, one solid piece of cloth, say, a foot and a half wide and four feet long. The edge was fringed on all the four sides, and in the fringe was run a blue thread, and the object of the fringe and of the blue thread also was to make them remember the commandments of God. The statute is repeated in Deuteronomy 22. Again in Deuteronomy 6 is the additional law of phylacteries, or frontlets – little pieces of leather worn between the eyes – on which were inscribed the commandments of God. The people were taught to instruct their children in the commandments of God: "And they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes, and thou shalt put them upon thy door posts, and when thou goest out and when thou comest in, and when thou sittest down and when thou gettest up, and when thou liest down, thou shalt at all times teach thy children the Word of God.” Now, because of these statutes a superstitious veneration began to attach to the fringe and to the phylacteries. So we learn in Matthew 23, as stated by our Saviour, that the Pharisees made broad the phylacteries between their eyes and enlarged the fringe of the outer garment. They made the fringe or tassel very large. They did it to be seen of men. The law prescribed that when the wearer should see this fringe on his garment he should remember the commandments of the Lord his God. But these Pharisees put it on that others might see it, and that it might be an external token to outsiders of their peculiar sanctity and piety. What was intended to be a sign to the man himself was converted by superstition into a sign for other people. Hence this woman said within herself, "If I but touch that sacred fringe – the border of his garment." She could not go up and touch the phylactery between his eyes, in case he wore one, but he did wear the Jewish costume with the fringe or border on his outer garment, and she could reach that from behind. She would not have to go in front of him. She argued: "Now, if I can in the throng get up so that I can reach out and just touch that fringe, I shall be saved." We see how near her thought connected the healing with the fringe of the garment, because by the double statute of God it was required on the Jewish garment to signify their devotion to his Word – the matchless Word of Jehovah. Mark tells us that she was not the only woman, not the only person healed by touching the border of his garment (Mark 6:56). Her sentiment was not an isolated one. It was shared by the people at large. Multitudes of people came to touch the fringe of his garment that they might be healed.

The question arises, Why should Christ select that through contact with the fringe on his outer garment healing power should be bestowed? He did do it. The question is, why? There shall be no god introduced unless there be a necessity for a god. There shall be no special miracle unless the case demands it. Why? Let us see if we cannot get a reason. I do not announce the reason dogmatically, but as one that seems sufficient to my own mind. Christ was among the people speaking as never man spake, doing works that no man had done. He was awakening public attention. He was the cynosure of every eye. They came to him from every direction. They thronged him. And right here at this juncture Jairus had said, "Master, my little girl, twelve years old, is even now dead. Go and lay thy hand upon her that she may live." He arose and started, the crowd surging around him and following him, and all at once he stopped and said, "Who touched me?" "Master, behold the crowd presseth thee on every side, and thou sayest, who touched me?" Here was a miracle necessary to discriminate between the touches of the people. "Who touched me?" Hundreds sin sick touched him and were not saved. Hundreds that had diseases touched him and were unhealed. Hundreds that were under the dominion of Satan looked in his face and heard his words and were not healed. It was touch and not touch. They touched, but there was no real contact. They rubbed up against salvation and were not saved. Salvation walked through their streets and talked to them face to face. The stream of life flowed right before their doors and they died of thirst. Health came with rosy color and bright eye and glowing cheek and with buoyant step walked through their plague district) and they died of sickness. But some touched him. Some reached forth the hand and laid hold upon the might of his power. This woman did.

Poor woman! What probably was her thought? "I heard that ruler tell him that he had a little girl twelve years old that was just dead, and he asked him to go and heal her, she twelve years old, and for twelve years I have been dead. For twelve years worse than death has had hold on me and I have spent all my money; have consulted many physicians. I have not been benefited by earthly remedies, but rendered worse. Twelve years has death been on me, and if he can heal that, girl that died at twelve years of age, maybe he can heal me twelve years dead. If that ruler says, ’If you will but go and lay your hand upon her even now she will revive,’ what can I do? In my timidity, in the ceremonial uncleanness of my condition, in my shame, I dare not speak. I cannot in this crowd, for if they knew that I were here they would cast me out; for if any of them touch me they are unclean in the eyes of the law. I cannot go and kneel down before him, and say, ’Master, have mercy on me.’ The ceremonial law of uncleanness forbids my showing my face, and if I come in contact with his power it must be with a touch upon the garment. And I beg for that. I say within myself, that if I but touch the fringe with its blue thread in it that reminds him of God’s commands, I shall be healed."

There was the association of her healing with the memento of the Word of God. There was the touch of her faith, that came into contact with that Word of God and with him. So her faith reasoned, and virtue going out from him responded to her faith. And she felt in herself that she was healed. Well, he healed her and there it stands out one of the most beautiful lessons in the Word of God. Oh, what a lesson! Some will say at the judgment, "Lord Jesus, thou hast taught in our streets and we have done many wonders in thy name," and he will say, "I never knew you." "You were close to the Saviour. You did not touch him. You were his neighbor. You did not touch him." There were many lepers in Israel in the days of Elisha, the prophet – lepers that could have been healed of leprosy by an appeal to the power of God in Elisha. They died in leprosy, but Naaman came from afar and touched the healing power of the prophet and was healed. There were many widows in Israel whose staff of life was gone, whose barrel of meal was empty, whose cruse of oil had failed, and here was the prophet of God, who by a word could supply that empty barrel, that failing cruse, but they did not touch him. They did not reach out in faith and come in contact with that power. The widow of Sarepta did, and her barrel of meal never failed, and her cruse of oil never wasted. Now, the special miracle: It was designed to show that if there be a putting forth of faith, even one finger of faith, and that one finger of faith touches but the fringe, the outskirts of salvation – only let there be a touch, though that touch covers no more space than the point of a cambric needle – "let there be the touch of faith and thou art saved."

In the midst of this stir about the woman the news of the death of Jairus’ daughter burst forth upon them with the request to trouble not the Master any further. But that did not stop our Lord. He proceeded immediately to the house to find a tumult and many weeping and wailing, for which he gently rebuked them. This brought forth their scorn, but taking Peter, James, and John, he went in and raised the child to life and his praise went forth into all that land.


1. What is the general theme of this division of the Harmony?

2. What common errors of interpretation of the kingdom? Illustrate.

3. What was the offspring of these errors respectively and who the most liable to each?

4. What, perhaps, was the most unprofitable sermon and what was the most stubborn skepticism?

5. How does such disappointment find expression?

6. Give the author’s statements relative to the kingdom,

7. Where do we find the fulfilment of Isaiah’s prophecies relative to the kingdom?

8. What specific prophecy in Isaiah fulfilled in Matthew?

9. Where do we find the principles of the kingdom disclosed?

10. What great office did our Lord fill besides teacher and wonder worker and what proof did he submit to John the Baptist?

11. What thing most worthy of special consideration in connection with the kingdom?

12. What the opening incident of the Galilean ministry, what its importance, what its great lesson and what its effect?

13. Give an account of our Lord’s rejection at Nazareth.

14. Why was he thus rejected?

15. By what incidents in the lives of the prophets does he illustrate the folly of their unbelief?

16. What is the church responsibility and ministerial agency in the proclamation of mercy?

17. Where does Jesus make his home after his rejection at Nazareth and what his first work in this region?

18. Recite the incident of the call of the four fishermen and its lessons.

19. What was Christ’s first case of healing a demoniac and what the meaning of the term "demoniac"? Illustrate.

20. What was the lesson of this miracle and what was its effect?

21. Recite the incident of the healing of Peter’s mother-in-law and give its lessons.

22. What were the great results of this miracle and why would not Christ allow the demons to speak?

23. How did Peter try to work a "corner" on salvation and how did our Lord defeat the plan?

24. How many and what journeys did Jesus make about Galilee?

25. Give the four special prayers of Jesus here cited and the occasion of each.

26. Describe the incident of the healing of the paralytic and its les sons.

27. What issue arises here between our Lord and the Pharisees and what was the final culmination?

28. Give an account of the call of Matthew, his entertainment, the second issue between our Lord and the Pharisees and how Jesus met it.

29. What question here arises, how was it brought up, how did our Lord reply and what the meaning of his parables here?

30. What double miracle follows and what was the usual method of miracles?

31. What was the law of fringes and phylacteries and what were their real purpose?

32. Why should Christ select that through contact with the fringe on his outer garment healing power should be bestowed?

33. What, probably, was the thought of this woman as she contemplated this venture of faith?

34. What was the great lesson of this incident of her healing?

35. Describe the miracle of raising Jairus’ daughter and its effect.

Bibliographical Information
"Commentary on Matthew 4". "Carroll's Interpretation of the English Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/bhc/matthew-4.html.
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