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Bible Commentaries
Matthew 4

Alford's Greek Testament Critical Exegetical CommentaryAlford's Greek Testament Commentary

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Verse 1

1. ἀνήχθη εἰς τ . . ] The Spirit carried Him away, (see Acts 8:39 ,) αὐτὸν ἐκβάλλει , Mark 1:12 ; compare Chrysostom’s excellent remarks on this agency of the Holy Spirit, in the opening of his 13th homily, p. 167. Had St. Luke’s ἤγετο ἐν τῷ πν . been our only account, we might have supposed what took place to have been done in a vision: but the expressions in the two other Evangelists, entirely preclude this. The desert here spoken of may either be the traditional place of the Temptation near Jericho (thence called Quarantaria: it is described in “The Land and the Book,” p. 617, as a high and precipitous mountain, with its side facing the plain perpendicular, and apparently as high as the rock of Gibraltar, and with caverns midway below, hewn in the rock), or as scripture parallelism between Moses, Elias, and our Lord, leads one to think, the Arabian desert of Sinai .

πειρασθῆναι ] The express purpose of ἀνήχθη . No other rendering is even grammatical. Hence it is evident that our Lord at this time was not ‘led up’ of his own will and design, but as a part of the conflict with the Power of Darkness, He was brought to the Temptation. As He had been subject to his earthly parents at Nazareth, so now He is subject, in the outset of His official course, to his Heavenly Parent, and is by His will thus carried up to be tempted. In reverently considering the nature and end of this temptation, we may observe, (1) That the whole is undoubtedly an objective historical narrative , recording an actual conflict between our Redeemer and the Power of Evil. (2) That it is undetermined by the letter of the sacred text, whether the Tempter appeared in a bodily shape , or, as a spirit , was permitted to exert a certain power, as in Matthew 4:5 , and Matthew 4:8 , over the person of our Lord, even as the Holy Spirit did in Matthew 4:1 . If the latter were the case, the words spoken at the various stages of the temptation, were suggested by this Evil Power to the soul of our Redeemer. But (3) such an interpretation, while it cannot justly be accused of unreality by any who do not reject belief in the spiritual world, hardly meets the expressions of the text, προσελθών Matthew 4:3 , ἐὰν πεσὼν προσκυνήσῃς μοι Matthew 4:9 , and ἀφίησιν αὐτόν Matthew 4:11 . Nor do the two members of Mat 4:11 correspond to one another in this case, for the ἄγγελοι must have been visible and corporeal, as in the parallel case at Gethsemane, Luke 22:43 .

διαβόλου ] The accuser , or adversary: Satan. Not any human tempter or foe: no example can be adduced of a man being absolutely called διάβ . In John 6:70 , Judas is by our Lord called διάβ ., which is the generic substantive without the article; and in Esther 7:4 ; Esther 8:1 , Haman is called ὁ διάβολος , where the art. has no such meaning as would be here required.

Verses 1-11

1 11. ] TEMPTATION OF JESUS. Mark 1:12-13 .Luke 4:1-13; Luke 4:1-13 .

Verse 2

2. νηστεύσας ] Not in the wider ecclesiastical sense of the word, but its strict meaning, of abstaining from all food whatever; οὐκ ἔφαγεν οὐδὲν ἐν ταῖς ἡμέραις ἐκείναις , Luke 4:2 . Similarly Moses, Exodus 34:28 , ἦν ἐναντίον κυρίου τεσσαράκοντα ἡμ . κ . τεσ . νύκ .· ἄρτον οὐκ ἔφαγε , καὶ ὕδωρ οὐκ ἔπιε , and Elias ἐπορεύθη ἐν ἰσχύϊ τῆς βρώσεως ἐκείνης τεσ . ἡ . καὶ τεσ . ν ., 3 Kings Matthew 19:8 .

ὕστερον ἐπείν . ] Then probably not during the time itself . The period of the fast, as in the case of Moses, was spent in a spiritual ecstasy, during which the wants of the natural body were suspended.

Verse 3

3. καὶ προσελθών ] From the words of both St. Mark and St. Luke, it appears that our Lord was tempted also during the forty days . Whether the words of St. Mark, ἦν μετὰ τῶν θηρίων , allude to one kind of temptation, is uncertain: see note on Mark 1:13 . The word προσελθ . need not be understood of the first approach, but the first recorded ‘at a certain time the tempter approaching, &c.’

ὁ πειράζων , ‘the tempter.’ Here first we find the N.T. meaning of πειράζειν , to solicit to sin , which does not occur in the LXX, nor in the classics. The use of the pres. part. with the art., as denoting employ, or office, is very common. See, among other places, John 4:36-37 , and ch. Matthew 13:3 ; Matthew 26:46 ; Matthew 26:48 . Cf. Winer, § 18. 3.

εἰ ] νομίζων ὑποκλέπτειν αὐτὸν τοῖς ἐγκωμίοις , Chrys. Or, as Euthymius, ᾤετο ὅτι παρακνισθήσεται τῷ λόγῳ , καθάπερ ὀνειδισθεὶς ἐπὶ τῷ μὴ εἶναι υἱὸς θεοῦ . At all events, there is no doubt expressed, as Wolf and Bengel think.

υἱὸς τοῦ θεοῦ ] In the N.T. are found three combinations of these two substantives and the article, and all with one and the same meaning , viz. THE SON OF GOD, in the highest and Messianic sense. (1) The expression in the text, of which our Lord says, John 10:36 , ὃν ὁ Πατὴρ ἡγίασεν καὶ ἀπέστειλεν εἰς τὸν κόσμον ὑμεῖς λέγετε ὅτι βλασφημεῖς ὅτι εἶπον Υἱὸς τοῦ θεοῦ εἰμι ; see also Matthew 27:40 . (2) ὁ υἱὸς τοῦ θ . In John 9:35 , we read, σὺ πιστεύεις εἰς τὸυ υἱὸν τοῦ θεοῦ ; … ὁ λαλῶν μετὰ σοῦ ἐκεῖνός ἐστιν . (3) υἱὸς θ . In Luke 1:35 , τὸ γεννώμενον ἅγιον κληθήσεται υἱὸς θεοῦ . See also ch. Matthew 27:54 ( [28] Mk.), and notes there and on Luke 23:47 .

[28] When, in the Gospels, and in the Evangelic statement, 1 Corinthians 11:23-25 , the sign (║) occurs in a reference, it is signified that the word occurs in the parallel place in the other Gospels, which will always be found indicated at the head of the note on the paragraph. When the sign (║) is qualified , thus, ‘║ Mk.,’ or ‘║ Mt. Mk.,’ &c., it is signified that the word occurs in the parallel place in that Gospel or Gospels, but not in the other or others .

Verse 4

4. ] Our Lord does not give way to the temptation, so as to meet him with an open declaration, ‘I am the Son of God:’ thus indeed He might have asserted his Lordship over him, but not have been his Conqueror for us . The first word which He uses against him, reaches far deeper: ‘ Man shall not live, &c.’ “This, like the other text, is taken from the history of Israel’s temptation in the wilderness: for Israel represents, in a foreshadowing type, the Son of Man, the servant of God for Righteousness, the one ἐρχόμενος , in whom alone that nature which in all men has degenerated into sin, πληροῖ πᾶσαν δικαιοσύνην . Adam stood not, Israel according to the flesh stood not, when the Lord their God tempted them: but rather, after Satan’s likeness, tempted their God: but now the second Adam is come, the true Israel, by whose obedience the way of life is again made known and opened ‘that man truly liveth on and in the eternal word of God.’ ” Stier’s Reden Jesu, vol. i. p. 16 (edn. 2). Observe also how our Lord resists Satan in His humanity; at once here numbering Himself with men , by adducing ὁ ἄνθρωπος as including His own case; and not only so, but thus speaking out the mystery of his humiliation, in which He had foregone his divine Power, of his own will. By ‘ every word (or ‘ thing ,’ for ῥῆμα is not expressed in the original) that proceedeth out of the mouth of God ,’ we must understand, every arrangement of the divine will; God, who ordinarily sustains by bread , can, if it please Him, sustain by any other means , as in the case alluded to. Compare John 4:32 ; John 4:34 .

Verse 5

5. τότε παρ . ] Power being most probably given to the tempter over the person of our Lord. In St. Luke, this temptation stands third . The real order is evidently that in the text; for otherwise our Lord’s final answer, Matthew 4:10 , would not be in its place. It may be observed, that St. Luke makes no assertion as to succession, only introducing each temptation with καί : whereas τότε and πάλιν here seem to mark succession. Bishop Ellicott, for psychological reasons, which must be most untrustworthy when opposed to the express assertion of the sacred text ( τότε ἀφίησιν αὐτόν ), follows the order in St. Luke. For ἁγ . πόλ . see reff. ἔστησεν by the same power by which he brought Him.

πτερύγιον ] Abundant instances have been produced to shew that πτέρον was applied to a pointed roof or gable . Now the LXX use πτέρυξ and πτερύγιον as synonymous with πτέρον ; why may not the same be done in the N.T.? The general opinion, that our Lord was placed on Herod’s royal portico , described in Jos. Antt. xv. 11. 5, is probably right; and the τό is in no way inconsistent with it. That portico overhung the ravine of Kedron from a dizzy height, ὡς , εἴ τις ἀπ ʼ ἄκρου τοῦ ταύτης τέγους , ἄμφω συντιθεὶς τὰ βάθη , διοπτεύοι , σκοτοδινιᾷν , οὐκ ἐξικνουμένης τῆς ὄψεως εἰς ἀμέτρητον τὸν βυθόν . The argument that it was probably on the other side, next the court , is grounded on the perfectly gratuitous assumption, that an exhibition to the people was intended. There is no authority for this in the text; the temptation being one not of ambition, but of presumption . The inference from Eusebius, who, quoting Hegesippus, (Hist. ii. 23,) describes James the Just as set on and thrown from τὸ πτερύγιον τοῦ ναοῦ , among the people, is not decisive: for this term might embrace either side, as ‘the cornice,’ or ‘the parapet’ would.

Verse 6

6. γέγραπται ] cited (nearly verbatim from the LXX, as almost all the texts in this narrative) as applying to all servants of God in general, and à fortiori to the Son of God: not as a prophecy of the Messiah.

Verse 7

7. πάλιν ] not ‘contra,’ which it never simply means, not even in Galatians 5:3 ; 1 John 2:8 ; but ‘rursus’ or ‘iterum,’ as the versions rightly render it. The addition of a second Scripture qualifies and interprets the first; but does not refute it.

Verse 8

8. ὄρος ὑψ . λί . ] The enquiry where and what this mountain was, is entirely nugatory, no data being furnished by the text.

δείκνυσιν αὐτ. π. τ. β . ] The additional words in Luke, ἐν στιγμῇ χρόνου , are valuable as pointing out to us clearly the supernatural character of this vision. If it be objected, that in that case there was no need for the ascent of the mountain, I answer, that such natural accessories are made use of frequently in supernatural revelations: see especially Revelation 21:10 . The attempts to restrict τοῦ κόσμου to Palestine , (which was, besides, God’s peculiar portion and vineyard, as distinguished from the Gentile world,) or the Roman empire, are mere subterfuges: as is also the giving to δείκνυσιν the sense of ‘points out the direction of.’ The very passage of Polybius cited to support this view, completely refutes it, when taken entire. Hannibal, from the Alps, is directing the attention of his soldiers to the view of Italy; ἐνδεικνύμενος αὐτοῖς τὰ περὶ τὸν Πάδον πεδία (in sight) … ἅμα δὲ καὶ τὸν τῆς Ῥώμης αὐτοῖς τόπον ὑποδεικνύων , where we may observe the distinction between the two compounds ἐν - and ὑπο - δείκνυμι : and further, that it is not τὴν Ῥ . but τὸν τῆς . τόπον that he pointed out to them. Euthymius, however, interprets our verse thus, … λέγων · ἐν τούτῳ μὲν τῷ μέρει κεῖται ἡ βασιλεία τῶν Ῥωμαίων , ἐν τούτῳ δὲ ἡ τῶν Περσῶν , ἐν ἐκείνῳ δὲ ἡ τῶν Ἀσσυρίων , καὶ τὰ ἑξῆς ὁμοίως · καὶ ὅτι ἡ μὲν ἔχει δόξαν ἐπὶ τοῖσδε τοῖς εἴδεσιν , ἡ δὲ ἐπὶ τοῖσδε , καὶ ἄλλη ἐπ ʼ ἄλλοις , καὶ ἁπλῶς πάντα καταλέγει : and even Maldonatus approves it.

In this last temptation the enemy reveals himself openly, as the ἄρχων τοῦ κόσμου τούτου , and as the father of lies; for though power is given him over this world and its sons, his assertion here is most untrue.

Verse 10

10. ] Our Lord at once repels him openly; not that He did not know him before , but because he had thus openly tempted Him; but not even this of His own power or will; He adds, for it is written, again, as Man, appealing to the Word of God. There does not appear to be sufficient ground for the distinction sometimes set up between the meanings of προσκυνεῖν with the dative and the same verb with the accusative. See, besides reff., Genesis 49:8 ; Exodus 11:8 .

From this time, our Lord is known by the devils, and casts them out by a word. Mark 1:24 ; Mark 1:34 ; Mark 3:11 ; Mark 5:7 .

Verse 11

11. ἀφίησιν αὐτόν ] but only for a season , see [29] Luke. The conflict, however often renewed in secret (of which we cannot speak), was certainly again waged in Gethsemane αὕτη ὑμῶν ἐστιν ἡ ὥρα , καὶ ἡ ἐξουσία τοῦ σκότους . (Luke 22:53 , compare John 14:30 .) The expression in Luke 10:18 , ἐθεώρουν τὸν σατανᾶν ὡς ἀστραπὴν ἐκ τοῦ οὐρανοῦ πεσόντα , must be otherwise understood: see note there.

[29] When, in the Gospels, and in the Evangelic statement, 1 Corinthians 11:23-25 , the sign (║) occurs in a reference, it is signified that the word occurs in the parallel place in the other Gospels, which will always be found indicated at the head of the note on the paragraph. When the sign (║) is qualified , thus, ‘║ Mk.,’ or ‘║ Mt. Mk.,’ &c., it is signified that the word occurs in the parallel place in that Gospel or Gospels, but not in the other or others .

διηκόνουν ] viz. with food , as in the case of Elias, 1 Kings 19:6-7 .

Verse 12

12. ἀνεχώρ . ] not ‘ returned ,’ but retired, withdrew; see ch. Matthew 2:22 , and note. No notice is given whence this withdrawal took place. The narrative is evidently taken up after an interval, and without any intention that it should follow closely on Matthew 4:11 . Wieseler, Chron. Synops. pp. 162 ff., sees in this a proof that St. Matthew recognized a ministry in Judæa during the interval. I cannot quite think this, but certainly he does not exclude it.

Verses 12-22

12 22. ] JESUS BEGINS HIS MINISTRY. CALLING OF PETER, ANDREW, JAMES, AND JOHN. Mark 1:14-20 . Luke 4:14-15 . Between the last verse and this is a considerable interval of time. After returning from the temptation (see note on John 1:28 , end) our Lord was pointed out by John the Baptist, (ib. John 1:29-34 ,) and again on the morrow to two of his disciples, Andrew and (probably) John, who followed Him, and were (on the next day? see note, Joh 1:44 ) joined by Simon Peter ( Joh 1:35-43 ): then on the morrow Philip and Nathanael were called ( Joh 1:44-51 ); three days after was the marriage in Cana ( Joh 2:1-11 ); then our Lord went down to Capernaum and remained not many days ( Joh 2:12 ); then followed the Passover; the cleansing of the temple ( Joh 2:13-22 ); the belief of many on Jesus ( Joh 2:23-25 ); the discourse with Nicodemus ( Mat 3:1-17 ); the baptizing by Jesus (i.e. his disciples) ( Joh 3:22-24 ); the question about purifying, and testimony of the Baptist ( Joh 3:25-36 ); the journey through Samaria into Galilee, and discourse with the woman of Samaria ( Joh 4:1-25 ); the return to Cana and healing of the ruler’s son in Capernaum ( Joh 4:43-54 ); and the journey to Jerusalem related in John 5:1 . After that chapter St. John breaks off the first part of his narrative, and between his Joh 5:47 and John 6:1 , comes in the synoptic narrative, John 4:12-25 ; John 5:1-47 ; John 6:1-34 ; John 7:1-29 ; John 8:1-34 ; John 9:1-38 ; John 10:1-42 ; John 11:1-30 ; John 12:1-50 ; John 13:1-38 ; John 14:1-15 ; Mark 1:14-45 ; Mark 2:1-28 ; Mark 3:1-35 ; Mark 4:1-41 ; Mark 5:1-43 ; Mark 6:1-30 ; Luke 4:14-44 ; Luke 5:1-39 ; Luke 6:1-49 ; Luke 7:1-50 ; Luke 8:1-56 ; Luke 9:1-10 . This omission is in remarkable consistency with St. Matthew’s account of his own calling in ch. Matthew 9:9 . Being employed in his business in the neighbourhood of Capernaum, he now first becomes personally acquainted with the words and actions of our Lord. From what circumstance the former miracle in Capernaum had not attracted his attention, we cannot, of course, definitely say; we can, however, easily conceive. Our Lord was not then in Capernaum; for the ruler sent to Him, and the cure was wrought by word at a distance. If Matthew’s attention had not been called to Jesus before, he might naturally omit such a narrative, which John gives probably from personal knowledge. The synoptic narrative generally omits this whole section of our Lord’s travels and ministry. Its sources of information, until the last visit to Jerusalem, seem to have been exclusively Galilæan , and derived from persons who became attached to Him at a later period than any of the events recorded in that first portion of John’s Gospel . The objections to this view are, the narrative, in the three Gospels, of the baptism and temptation; but the former of these would be abundantly testified by John’s disciples, many of whom became disciples of Jesus; and the latter could only have been derived from the mouth of our Lord Himself.

Verse 13

13. καταλιπὼν τ . Ν . ] Not on account of the behaviour of the Nazarenes to Him after the preaching in the synagogue, Luke 4:28-29 , as sometimes supposed; see notes, ib. Luke 4:31 .

Καφαρναούμ ] This town, on the borders of the lake of Gennesaret, was central in situation, and in the most populous and frequented part of Galilee. It besides was the residence of four at least of the Apostles, Andrew and Peter, and James and John and probably of Matthew. The town was named from a fountain, πρὸς γὰρ τῇ τῶν ἀέρων εὐκρασίῃ καὶ πηγῇ διάρδεται γονιμωτάτῃ , Καφαρναοὺμ αὐτὴν οἱ ἐπιχώριοι καλοῦσι (Joseph. B. J. iii. 10. 8), כְּפַר נַחוּם , vicus consolationis . It is from this time called ‘ His own city ,’ ch. Matthew 9:1 , see also ch. Matthew 17:24 .

Verse 15

15. ] This prophecy is spoken with direct reference to the days of the Messiah. It is here freely rendered from the Hebrew, without any regard to the LXX, which is wholly different. This, coming so immediately after a string of quotations literally from the LXX, seems to mark the beginning of a new portion of the Gospel, agreeably to what was said before.

ὁδὸν θαλάσσης ] the country round the coast of the lake. All the members of this sentence are in apposition with one another: thus πέραν τοῦ Ἰορδ . is not a description of the land before spoken of, which was not thus situated, but of a different tract. The later meaning of מֵעֵבֶר לַיַּרְדֵּן , as signifying the tract to the west of the Jordan, and which naturally sprung up during the captivity, is not to be thought of in Isaiah, who wrote before that event. See 1Ch 26:30 in the Hebrew, where, however, the E. V. renders ‘on this side Jordan westward.’ Meyer [in edd. 1, 2; in edd. 3, 4, 5 he renders ὁδ . θαλ . ‘ seawards .’ See Moulton’s Winer, p. 289, note 4] strangely makes ὁδὸν θαλ . the objective after εἶδεν understood, and construes ‘ the land of Zabulon and Nepthalim saw the way of the sea on the other side of the Jordan: Galilee of the Gentiles, &c. saw a great light: ’ i.e. ‘the light which went forth from Capernaum when Jesus dwelt there, is represented as sending its bright beams over the Galilæan sea, so that Zabulon and Nephthalim by this light could see the way leading along the other side of the sea.’

Γαλ . τ . ἐθν . ] Galilee superior , near to Tyre and Sidon, which was inhabited by a variety of nations.

Verse 17

17. ἀπὸ τότε ] That is, began His ministry in Galilee . The account of Matthew, being that of an eye-witness, begins where his own experience began. It is not correct to suppose, as some of the German Commentators have done, (De Wette, Strauss,) that this preaching of repentance was of a different character from the after-teaching of our Lord; we recognize the same formula, though only partly cited, in ch. Matthew 10:7 : Luke 10:10 , and find our Lord still preaching repentance , Luke 13:3 , after repeated declarations of His Messiahship.

Verse 18

18. παρὰ τὴν θάλασσαν τῆς Γαλιλαίας ] The lake of Gennesareth or Tiberias ( Joh 6:1 ), called in the O.T. “the sea of Chinnereth,” Numbers 34:11 , or Chinneroth, Joshua 12:3 ; the Γεννησαρῖτις λίμνη of Josephus, Antt. xviii. 2. 1: Strabo xvi. p. 755: Plin. Matthew 4:16 : Ptol [30] Matthew 4:15 . It is of an oval shape, about 13 geographical miles long, and 6 broad: and is traversed by the Jordan from N. to S. “Its most remarkable feature is its deep depression, being no less than 700 feet below the level of the ocean.” See the interesting article by Mr. Porter in Smith’s Biblical Dictionary.

[30] Ptolemæus gnosticus apud Epiphanium

If we give any consideration to the circumstances here related, we cannot fail to see that the account in John is admirably calculated to complete the narrative. We have there furnished to us the reason why these two brethren were so ready to arise and follow One, whom, if we had this account only, we should infer they had never before seen. Add to this, that there is every probability that one of the other pair of brethren, John the son of Zebedee, is there described as having gone with Andrew to the dwelling of our Lord. It also tends to confirm the chronological view here taken, that Philip, the only one mentioned expressly by John as having been called by Jesus, is not mentioned here as called: and that Andrew, and the other disciple of John the Baptist, clearly were not called by Jesus in John 1:35-40 , or the words παρ ʼ αὐτῷ ἔμειναν τὴν ἡμέραν ἐκείνην , could not have been used: that these two continued disciples of the Baptist, is not probable; but that they were henceforth, but not invariably, attached to our Lord. I believe that the disciple whom Jesus loved was in His company during the whole of the events in John 2:1-25 ; John 3:1-36 ; John 4:1-54 ; John 5:1-47 , and on His return from Judæa with His disciples, John having for a time returned to his business, as our Lord was now resident in Capernaum, received, as here related, this more solemn and final call. We must remember, that the disciples would naturally have gone up to Jerusalem at the Passover, John 2:23 , without a call from the Lord , and by what they saw there would become more firmly attached to him. The circumstance related in John 21:1-25 , that even after they were assured of the Resurrection, the Apostles returned to their occupation as fishermen, gives additional probability to the usual explanation of the call in our text.

Verse 20

20. ἀφέντες κ . τ . λ . ] i.e. from this time they were constant followers of the Lord. But when He happened to be in the neighbourhood of their homes, they resumed their fishing, cf. Luke 5:1-11 , which occurrence was, in my belief, different from, and later than the one related in our text. See notes there.

Verse 23

23. συναγωγαῖς ] These were the places of religious assembly among the Jews after the return from the captivity. Tradition, and the Targums, ascribe a very early origin to synagogues; and Deuteronomy 31:11 , and Psalms 74:8 , are cited as testimonies of it. But the former passage does not necessarily imply it: and it is doubtful whether that Psalm was not itself written after the captivity. They are generally supposed to have originated in Babylon, and thence to have been brought, at the return, into the mother land. See Nehemiah 8:1-8 . At the Christian era there were synagogues in every town, and in some larger towns several. See Acts 9:2 ; Acts 9:20 . In Jerusalem, according to the Rabbinical writings, there were upwards of 450. (See Acts 6:9 , and note.) The people assembled in them on sabbath and festival days, and in later times also on the second and fifth days of each week, for public prayer and the hearing of portions of Scripture. τῶν ἱερέων δέ τις ὁ παρὼν ἢ τῶν γερόντων εἷς ἀναγινώσκει τοὺς ἱεροὺς νόμους αὐτοῖς καὶ καθ ʼ ἕκαστον ἐξηγεῖται μέχρι σχεδὸν δείλης ὀψίας . Philo, Fragm. vol. ii. p. 630 (Euseb. Prep. Evang. viii. 7, vol. iii. p. 359). See Luke 4:16 ; Acts 13:15 . The officers of the synagogues were (1) the ἀρχισυναγωγός , Luke 8:49 ; Luke 13:14 ; Acts 18:8 ; Acts 18:17 , who had the care of public order, and the arrangement of the service; (2) the Elders, πρεσβύτεροι Luke 7:3 , ἀρχισυναγωγοί Mark 5:22 ; Acts 13:15 , who seem to have formed a sort of council under the presidency of the ἀρχισυναγωγ ός ; (3) the legatus or angelus ecclesiæ , who was the reader of prayers, and also secretary and messenger of the synagogues; (4) the ὑπηρέτης ( Luk 4:20 ), or chapel clerk, whose office was to prepare the books for reading, to sweep, open, and shut the synagogue. Besides these, there appear to have been alms-gatherers. The synagogue was fitted up with seats, of which the first row ( πρωτοκαθεδρίαι ) were an object of ambition with the scribes (ch. Mat 23:6 ). A pulpit for the reader, lamps, and a chest for keeping the sacred books, appear to complete the furniture of the ancient synagogue. Punishments, e.g. scourging, were inflicted in the synagogues. (See ch. Matthew 10:17 ; Matthew 23:34 : Luke 9:49 ; Acts 22:19 ; Acts 26:11 .) The catechizing also of children seems to have taken place there (Lightfoot, xi. 281), as also disputations on religious questions. Our Lord was allowed to read and teach in the synagogues, although of mean extraction according to the flesh, because of His miracles, and His supposed character as the professed leader and teacher of a religious sect.

αὐτῶν ] viz. of the Galilæans: the subject being taken up out of Γαλιλαίᾳ preceding. See reff., and Winer, § 22, 3.

κηρύσσων τὸ εὐαγ . ] For the exact meaning of these words, compare the declaration in the synagogue at Nazareth, Luke 4:16-30 .

Verses 23-25

23 25. ] HE MAKES A CIRCUIT OF GALILEE. (Mark 1:39 . Luke 4:44 , ordinarily: but qu.? There is no necessity for believing this circuit of Galilee to be identical with those, even if we read Γαλιλαίας in the passage in Luke. Our Lord made many such circuits .)

Verse 24

24. Συρίαν ] Answering to ὅλην τὴν περίχωρον τῆς Γαλιλαίας , Mark 1:28 . On βάσανος , see Lexx. Our word ‘ trial ’ has undergone a change of meaning very similar. On the δαιμονιζόμενοι see note on ch. Matthew 8:28 . The σεληνιαζόμενοι were probably epileptics: see an instance in ch. Mat 17:14 and [31] .

[31] When, in the Gospels, and in the Evangelic statement, 1 Corinthians 11:23-25 , the sign (║) occurs in a reference, it is signified that the word occurs in the parallel place in the other Gospels, which will always be found indicated at the head of the note on the paragraph. When the sign (║) is qualified , thus, ‘║ Mk.,’ or ‘║ Mt. Mk.,’ &c., it is signified that the word occurs in the parallel place in that Gospel or Gospels, but not in the other or others .

Verse 25

25. Δεκαπόλεως ] A district principally east of the Jordan, so called from ten cities, some of the names of which are uncertain. Pliny (Nat. Hist. Mat 4:18 ) says, “Jungitur ei lateri Syriæ Decapolitana regio, a numero oppidorum, in quo non omnes eadem observant. Plurimi tamen Damascum.… Philadelplhiam, Raphanam, omnia in Arabiam recedentia; Scythopolin … Gadara … Hippon, Dion, Pellam.… Galasam, Canatham.” Josephus appears not to include Damascus in Decapolis, for he calls Scythopolis μεγίστη τῆς Δεκαπόλεως (B. J. iii. 9. 7): and Cellarius thinks Cæsarea Philippi and Gergesa should be substituted for Damascus and Raphana. See Mark 7:31 .

πέραν τ . Ἰορδ . ] Peræa. The country east of the Jordan, between the rivers Jabbok and Arnon. See Jos. B. J. iii. 3. 3.

Bibliographical Information
Alford, Henry. "Commentary on Matthew 4". Alford's Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/hac/matthew-4.html. 1863-1878.
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