Bible Commentaries

Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament

Matthew 4

Verse 1

Matthew 4:1. τότε, then) sc. on His baptism.— ἀνήκθη, He was led up) sc. towards Jerusalem, by an inward impulse.— εἰς τὴν ἔρημον, into the wilderness) a wilder part than that mentioned in ch. Matthew 3:1.— ὑπὸ τοῦ πνεύματος, by the Spirit) sc. the Holy Spirit; see ch. Matthew 3:16.— πειρασθῆναι, to be tempted) This temptation is a sample of our Lord’s whole state of humiliation (exinanitionis), and an epitome of all the temptations (not only moral, but still more especially spiritual), which the devil has contrived from the beginning.— ὑπὸ τοῦ διαβόλου, by the Devil) The LXX. generally render the Hebrew שטן, Satan or Adversary, by διάβολος, Devil or Accuser; only in 1 Kings 11, and there twice or thrice, they translate it σατάν, Satan.

Verse 2

Matthew 4:2. νηστεύσας, when He had fasted) no doubt by virtue of His baptism. Fasting implies also abstinence from drink.— ἡμέρας, days) In these days, during this retirement, matters of the greatest importance passed between God and the Mediator.— τεσσαράκοντα, forty) A celebrated measure of time, also, in the lives of Moses and Elijah. But the condition of Moses, when without food, was one of glory; that of Christ (which is more to be wondered at), one of humiliation. An angel brought food to Elijah before his fast commenced; many angels ministered to Christ after His fast ended. Jesus passed forty days before He appeared in public: forty days, as if for the sake of preparation before His ascension.— ὕστερον, afterwards) up to this point it had not been so much a temptation as a preparation for it: cf. the beginning of the following verse.— ἐπείνασε, He hungered) Hunger is a very bitter temptation; thirst He experienced in His passion. This temptation may be compared with that which is described in Genesis 3 : the Tempter employed the same arts; but that cause, which the first-formed pair of the human race had lost, Christ restored.

Verse 3

Matthew 4:3. προδελθών αὐτῷ, having come to Him) sc. in a visible form. The Tempter watched his time.(134) πειράζων, the tempter) who did not wish it to be known that he was Satan: yet Christ at the conclusion of the interview, and not till then, calls him, in Matthew 4:10, Satan, after that Satan had plainly betrayed his satanity, i.e., pride, his peculiar characteristic. Thus, by Divine skill, He defeated his infernal skill. The tempter seems to have appeared under the form of a γραμματύς, scribe, since our Lord thrice replies to him by the word, γέγραπται, “It is written.”— εἰ, if) Thus also, in Matthew 4:6, Satan both doubts himself, and endeavours to produce doubt, to take away that which is true, to teach that which is false. He solicits our Lord, stating that hypothetically, which had been (Matthew 3:17) declared categorically from heaven.— εἰπέ, κ. τ. λ., command, etc.) The tempter acknowledges that He who is the Son of God must be Almighty.— οἰ, κ. τ. λ., these, etc.) i.e., that some one of these stones become bread [or a loaf]: see Luke 4:3, [where it is, “Command this stone (sing.) that it be made bread.”]— λίθοι, stones) q. d., “You are in the wilderness, which has hard stones, but no bread.” Nay, on very different grounds shalt thou become convinced, O Tempter, that this is the Son of God. Soon will He commence the work of thy destruction. See Luke 4:34; Luke 4:41.

Verse 4

Matthew 4:4. γέγραπται, it is written) Jesus does not appeal to the Voice from heaven: He does not reply to the arguments of the Tempter: against those arguments He employs the Scripture alone, and simply cites its assertions. He declines to state whether He be the Son of God or not. When addressing mankind, our Lord seldom quoted Scripture, but said, “I say unto you.” He says that only in answer to Satan, “It is written;” i.e., “Whoever I am, I assuredly keep to that which is written.” All the statements winch He thus advanced were in themselves indisputable: and yet He keeps to that, “it is written.” By doing which, He declares that He is the Destined One who should fulfil Scripture; and at the same time shows the high authority of Scripture itself, irrefragable even to Satan.— οὐκ ἐπʼ ἄρτῳ μόνῳ ζήσεται ἄνθρωτος, αλλʼ ἐπὶ παντὶ ῥήματι ἐκπορευομένῳ διὰ στόματος θεοῦ, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God) The LXX. (Deuteronomy 8:3) prefix the definite article to ἄνθρωπος (man), and repeat after θεου (of God) ζήσεται ἄνθρωπος (shall man live). Even in the wilderness, the Israelites had felt the force of these words. The sixth chapter of the same book is cited in Matthew 4:7; Matthew 4:10 : so that the two paraschae,(135) ואתחנן and עקב, contain the three sayings propounded to the Israelites in the wilderness, and in the wilderness employed by Christ as a sword against the tempter. At the same season of the year(136) at which Moses had uttered them, Jesus employed these sayings against the tempter.— ζήσεται, shall live, etc.) Jesus had experienced this during these forty days. It is equally easy to live without bread, or to make bread out of stone. This is truly αὐτάρκεια,(137) constant tranquillity of mind (prœsens animi quies), to require nothing besides life. Jesus knew that He should live.— ἄνθρωπος, man. He does not reply to the tempter with reference to the appellation, “Son of God,” but speaks as if one of many, who were bound to the Written Word. And already in the time of Moses, Divine Wisdom had expressed all this testimony in those words with which the Saviour was to smite the tempter. Jerome says, “Propositum erat Domino humilitate Diabolum vincere, non potentiâ,”—“The Lord had determined to overcome the Devil, not by power, but by humility.”— ἐτὶ παντὶ ῥήματι ἐκπορευομὲνῳ διὰ στόματος θεοῦ, by every word that proceedeth out through the mouth of God) Thus in Psalms 89(88):34, the LXX. have, concerning a Divine promise, τὰ ἐκπορευόμενα διὰ τῶν χειλέων ΄ουthe things which proceed out through My lips. Cf. concerning vows: S. V. of Numbers 30:13, and Deuteronomy 23:23 : Cf. also Jeremiah 17:16, and Numbers 32:24.—That which goeth forth out of the mouth (exitus oris), is put by Metonomy for that which is uttered by the mouth.— διὰ στόματος, through the mouth) and, therefore, from the heart.

Verse 5

Matthew 4:5. τότε, then) St Matthew describes the attempts of Satan in the order of time in which they were made; see Gnomon on Matthew 4:8; Matthew 4:10 : St Luke observes a gradation in the places, and mentions successively (Luke 4:1; Luke 4:5; Luke 4:9) the desert, the mountain, the temple; which change of order, not only harmless but beneficial, is a proof that the one evangelist did not copy from the other. Perhaps, also, the tempter assailed our Lord with something of the third temptation before the second, and appeared in various disguises.— παραλαμβάνει, taketh along with him(138)) An abbreviated mode of expression(139) for he takes and leads. The same word is used with the same force, in Luke 4:8. St Luke, Luke 4:9; Luke 4:5, uses the words ἤγαγεν, led [Him],— ἀναγαγὼν, leading [Him] up. A marvellous power was granted to the tempter, until our Lord says to him, in Matthew 4:10, “Depart.” “It is not to be wondered at,” says Gregory, “that Christ should permit Himself to be led about by the Devil, since He permitted Himself to be crucified by the Devil’s members.” Satan tempts everywhere.—Cf. on the change of place, Numbers 23:13; Numbers 23:27. Christ was tempted everywhere, in all places where afterwards He was to exercise His office.— εἰς τὴν ἁγίαν πόλιν, into the holy city) where an angelic guard might have seemed especially to be expected.— ἐπὶ upon) Our Lord was as truly on the pinnacle, and on the mountain, as He was in the desert.— πτερύγιον, pinnacle) to which the ascent was far more easy than the descent from it. What this pinnacle was, antiquarians doubt.(140) Christ was tempted by height and depth.

Verse 6

Matthew 4:6. γέγραπται, it is written) A most specious temptation, which appears to quote Scripture appositely. There is no doubt but that Satan must have often felt the force of this saying, from the protection which the angels extended to the godly against him.— ὅτιπερὶ σοῦ καὶ ἐπὶ, κ. τ. λ.) He shall give his angels charge concerning thee, and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone. The LXX. render Psalms 91(90):11, 12,— ὅτιπερὶ σοῦ, τοῦ διαφυλάξαί σε ἐν πάσαις ταῖς ὁδοῖς σου ἐπὶ, κ. τ. λ., He shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy way: they shall bear thee up in their hands, lest thou dash thy foot against a stone. The fraud of Satan consists rather in false application, than in omission.— ἐπὶ χειρῶν, in their hands) That is, they shall guard Thee with great circumspection.— λίθον, a stone) i.e., one of those of which the Temple was built. The tempter applies the psalm speciously.

Verse 7

Matthew 4:7. πάλιν γέγραπταί, it is written again) Although Satan retorted the phrase, “It is written,” Jesus does not suffer it to be forcibly taken from Him as something trite, but employs it three times. Scripture is to be interpreted and reconciled by Scripture.— οὐκ ἐκπειράσεις, κ. τ. λ.) thou shall not tempt, etc.—Thus the LXX. in Deuteronomy 6:16. According to the usage of those interpreters, ἐκπειράζειν is not a word of stronger signification than πειράζειν.—Jesus, however, means, “It is not Mine to provoke God by tempting Him.”— κύριον, the Lord) This is put as a proper name.

Verse 8

Matthew 4:8. πάλιν, again) This was the third and last conflict, as is evident from the expression “Depart,” Matthew 4:10.— ὄρος, a mountain) A new theatre of temptation.— δείκνυσιν, shows) To His eyes those things which the horizon enclosed: the rest, perhaps, by enumeration and indication. Satan is a subtle spirit.

Verse 9

Matthew 4:9. δώσω, I will give) But the Son is the heir of all things, and whatever authority Satan possessed on account of man’s defection from God, that, Christ, stronger than he,(141) took from him, not by compact, but by conquest. What the devil could not persuade Christ to do in his temptation, that he will effect by his vassal the Beast, see Revelation 13:2. And what he offered to Christ, he will give to that adversary of His, viz., the kingdoms of the world.— ἐὰν, κ. τ. λ., if, etc.) Vast pride, to offer all the kingdoms of the earth as a gift, in return for one act of adoration acknowledging that gift.(142) Without doubt, he appeared in an august form.

Verse 10

Matthew 4:10. ὓπαγε, depart) “Get thee behind Me, Satan” said the Lord to Peter, when he took Him and endeavoured to dissuade Him from undergoing His passion; thus commanding Peter to retire into the proper place of a disciple, i.e., behind Him. But to Satan He said, Depart, Satan: go, not behind Me, but plainly from Me.— σατανᾶ, Satan) q.d. “Thou hast tried to discover who I am, and I tell thee who thou art.” He calls the tempter, when he wished to appear specially gracious to Him, Satan.(143)κύριονπροσκυνήσεις, κ. τ. λ., Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and Him only shalt thou serve) In Deuteronomy 6:13, the LXX. have κύριονφοβηθήσῃ, κ. τ. λ., Thou shalt fear the Lord, etc. Jesus substitutes worship aptly for fear.—Cf. Matthew 4:9.— μόνῳ, only, alone) Thus the LXX. have it, who have inserted μόνος also in Genesis 3:11; Genesis 3:17, without doing violence to the meaning.

Verse 11

Matthew 4:11. ἄγγελοι, angels) Who had probably witnessed the contest. Cf. 1 Corinthians 4:9; 1 Timothy 3:16.— διηκόνουν, ministered) Undoubtedly, by doing that which was then necessary, sc. bringing Him food.—Cf. 1 Kings 19:5-6.

Verse 12

Matthew 4:12. ἀκούσας δὲ ὅτι, κ. τ. λ., but having heard that, etc.) The name of Jesus is expressed in Matthew 4:17. It is not expressed in Matthew 4:12,(144) because this passage, verses 12–16, when taken in connection with what precedes it, intimates in what manner John made room for the Lord. But in Matthew 4:17, etc., is described the actual commencement of the Lord’s preaching, in which is included the vocation of the two pairs of brothers. Wherefore, in Matthew 4:18, ἰησοῦς, Jesus, is again understood, but not expressed.— παρεδόθη, was delivered up) sc. to confinement in prison (in custodiam).—See ch. Matthew 11:2. As John decreased, Jesus increased.(145)ἀνεχώρησεν, he departed) The same verb occurs, ch. Matthew 14:13, from a similar cause.(146)εἰς τὴν γαλιλαίαν, into Galilee) and, indeed, into that part of Galilee which was farthest from Herod and the prison of John. St Matthew speaks of the whole of Galilee in opposition to Judea, where the temptation had taken place. Jesus then came forth from private into public life.(147)

Verse 13

Matthew 4:13. ναζαρέτ, Nazareth) where He had hitherto resided.— παραθαλασσίαν, which is upon the sea-coast) See Matthew 4:15; Matthew 4:18. A place much frequented.

Verse 15-16

Matthew 4:15-16. γῆ ζαβουλὼν καὶ γῆ νεφθαλεὶμ, ὁδὸν θαλάσσης πέραν τοῦ ἰορδάνου γαλιλαία τῶν ἐθνῶν, λαὸς πορευόμενος(148) ἐν σκότει εἶδε φῶς ΄έγα, καὶ τοῖς καθη΄ένοις ἐν χώρᾳ καὶ σκιᾷ θανάτου, φῶς ἀνέτειλεν αὐτοῖς, The land of Zabulon, and the land of Nephthalim, by the way of the sea, beyond Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles; the people which walketh in darkness saw great light; and to them which sat in the region and shadow of death light is sprung up) The LXX. thus render the passage in Isa. 8:23 and Isaiah 9:1 :(149) χώρα ζαβουλὼν, γῆ νεφθαλεὶ΄, καὶ οἱ λοιποὶ οἱ τὴν παραλίαν, καὶ πέραν τοῦ ἰορδάνου γαλιλαία τῶν ἐθνῶν. λαὸς πορευό΄ενος ἐν σκότει, ἴδετε φῶς ΄έγα· οἱ κατοικοῦντες ἐν χώρᾳ καὶ σκιᾷ θανάτου φῶς λά΄ψει ἐφʼ ὑ΄ᾶς,—Country of Zabulon, the land of Nephthalim, and ye the rest who inhabit the region situated by the sea, and bounded by(150) the Jordan, thou Galilee of the Gentiles! Thou people which walketh in darkness, behold ye a great light: ye who dwell in the country and shadow of death, a light shall shine upon you. The two verses are in Isaiah most closely connected together, on which ground the Evangelist takes part of the topography from the former [to explain the application of the latter]. Many of the apostles were from this region. See Psalms 68:28; Acts 1:11; Acts 2:7.— γῆ, land, and λαὸς, people, are placed in opposition.— ὁδὸν, the way) The LXX. render דרך (way) by ὁδὸν (way). We must here understand κατά, by. The exactness of the prophetical topography is marvellous, minutely accurate both in latitude and longitude.— θαλάσσης, of the sea(151)) See Matthew 4:18.— πέραν τοῦ ἰορδάνου, beyond the Jordan) The Hebrew עבר,(152) rendered in the present passage by the Greek πέραν (beyond), is used with reference to a boundary considered in reference to, not only the farther side, but the hither side also.— γαλιλαία τῶν ἐθνῶν, Galilee of the Gentiles) Galilee, though inhabited by Israelites, was conterminous to the Gentiles, especially as far as the tribes of Zabulon and Naphthali were concerned.—See Hiller’s Onomata Sacra, p. 816. Galilee, previously to the time under consideration, was behind Judaea in the cultivation of sacred learning: the citadel of the Levitical worship was at Jerusalem: the Jews therefore ought to have acknowledged our Lord more readily than the Galilaeans, to whom a compensation is now made for their previous disadvantages.

Verse 16

Matthew 4:16. πορευόμενος, that walketh) There is here a threefold ascending climax.(153)

First Clause.

Second Clause.

The people that Walketh

And on those sitting

In Darkness

In the Region and Shadow of Death,

Hath seen a Great Light.

A Light hath arisen.

It is worse to sit, detained, in darkness, than to walk in it.(154)εἶδε, hath seenφῶς, a Light(155)) No one is saved except he be illuminated [by that Light]. See Acts 13:47.— καὶ τοῖς κυθημένοις, κ. τ. λ., and to those sitting, etc.) The LXX. in Psalms 107(106):10, have καθημένους ἐν σκότει καὶ σκιᾷ θανάτου, sitting in darkness and the shadow of death. The verb to sit aptly denotes a sluggish solitude.— χώρᾳ καὶ σκιᾷ, region and shadow) one thing expressed by two words.(156) The natural situation of the country was low, and such was also its spiritual condition.— ἀνέτειλεν αὐτοῖς, hath risen upon them) In the original Hebrew it is נגה, shines, upon them. This increased force of expression corresponds with the epithet μέγα, great, in the preceding clause.

Verse 17

Matthew 4:17. ἤρξατο, began)(157) A word of frequent occurrence. It indicates the commencement of an action to be often repeated, or of one deliberate and ample, or even of long continuance.— βασιλεία, the kingdom) It is an example of elegance in the Divine style, that first the kingdom should be said to have come in the abstract, then the King or Messiah in the concrete. The former mode of expression suits the hidden beginnings, the latter the triumphant consummation, [of the Gospel Dispensation].—Cf. Gnomon on Luke 1:35, and 2 Thessalonians 2:3.— βασιλεία τῶν οὐρανῶν, the kingdom of the Heavens) i.e., the kingdom of God (cf. ch. Matthew 5:3, with Luke 6:20); for it is called also thus by St Matthew, sometimes, as his book proceeds, and is always thus denominated in the other books of the New Testament,(158) e.g. Acts 1:3; Acts 28:31, and Romans 14:17. The Metonomy by which Heaven is substituted for God, is of frequent occurrence, and very suitable to the first times of the Gospel.—See ch. Matthew 3:2. By the expression, “The Kingdom of the Heavens,” which is almost peculiar to the books of the New Testament, the hope of an earthly kingdom was cut away,(159) and all were invited to Heavenly things. It is thus called with a regard to its final consummation.—See Luke 21:31, and Acts 1:3.

Verse 18

Matthew 4:18. θάλασσαν τῆς γαλαλαίας, Sea of Galilee) See verses 15, 23.— σίμωνα, Simon) Simon, the first who followed on this occasion, was the first to remain.

Verse 19

Matthew 4:19. δεῦτε, come ye) This word has the force of calling combined with the idea of the present moment; see Matthew 11:28, Matthew 21:38, etc. This is evident from the singular δεῦρο, hither.— ποιήσω, κ. τ. λ., I will make, etc.) The authority of Jesus Christ [is here asserted].— ἁλιεῖς, fishers) See Jeremiah 16:16.

Verse 20

Matthew 4:20. εὐθέως, straightway) A promptitude and quickness in following our Lord is denoted in James and John, in Matthew 4:22, where εὐθέως occurs again. The same quickness is denoted in Matthew 4:19, in the case of Peter and Andrew, by the word δεῦτε, whether you read εὐθέως or not. In the very ardour of doing their daily work, they received the call. Thus also Matthew ch. Matthew 9:9, blessed moment!— ἠκολούθησαν, they followed) Ingenuously, without any immediate stipulation concerning reward.—See ch. Matthew 19:27.

Verse 21

Matthew 4:21. ΄ετὰ ζεβεδαίου, with Zebedee) They were therefore youths; their father Zebedee being still in his prime, and both their parents alive. John lived seventy years longer. James was the first of the apostles who died; John survived him a long time.(160)καταρτίζοντας, adjusting for work) This word is said of a vessel or tool, which is either prepared for work or repaired after work. The first meaning is more suitable to this passage. The sons of Zebedee, as well as those of Jonas, on more than one occasion, abandoned the work in which they were respectively engaged with the greatest promptitude and obedience.

Verse 23

Matthew 4:23. καὶ περιῆγεν, κ. τ. λ., And Jesus went about, etc.) Thus, also, clearly in ch. Matthew 9:35.(161)κηρύσσων, preaching) His teaching in the synagogues was public, but His preaching more public still.—See ch. Matthew 10:27, and Matthew 11:1; comp. also Luke 8:39 : John 3:2; John 3:4.— τὸ εὐαγγέλιον, the Gospel) The chief teaching of Christ was the Gospel: the other things which He taught concerned only the removing impediments [to its saving reception].— τῆς βασιλείας, of the kingdom) sc. of God. In Holy Scripture God is the perpetual object of contemplation.— πᾶσαν, every) No one sick or dead, whom Jesus met, remained in sickness or death.— νόσον disease) νόσος; signifies a disease of the whole body: μαλακία, an infirmity of any particular part, attended with pain: βἀσανος (Matthew 4:24), a torture, or malady accompanied by excruciating pain: μάστιξ (Luke 7:21), a scourge.— ἐν τῷ λαῷ, among the people) Among the people of Israel: and it was among the people, [i.e., in public,] that, as the sick were promiscuously brought to Him, even those were healed whose disease was a matter of public notoriety; see John 9:8, and Acts 3:10. But in the case of miracles of later times, men, or dumb images, to whom they are pretended to have happened, are thrust forth from some obscure nook or other by collusion.

Verse 24

Matthew 4:24. ἀπῆλθεν, went out thence) sc. afar.— ἀκοὴ, fame) The LXX. frequently render שמעה(162) by ἀκοὴ.— συρίαν, Syria) The province of which Palestine was considered a part.— προσήνεγκαν αὐτῷ, they brought unto Him) Even the Syrians did so.— τοὺς κακῶς ἔχοντας, those who were ill)(163) The miracles of Jesus Christ were performed for the good(164) of men.—See John 6:2; Matthew 11:5; Acts 10:38.— δαιμονιζομένους, possessed with devils) The sick and the possessed are frequently mentioned together.—See Acts 5:16.

Verse 25

Matthew 4:25. ὄχλοι, multitudes) The plural is used on account of the various places from which they came.— δεκαπόκεως, from Decapolis)(165) situated on both sides of the Jordan. Samaria is not mentioned in this enumeration.— πέραν, beyond) i.e., ἀπὸ τῆς πέρανfrom the country beyond.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Bengel, Johann Albrecht. "Commentary on Matthew 4". Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament. 1897.