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Bible Commentaries
Matthew 4

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Verses 1-4

Mat 4:1-4

Section V.
The Temptation of Jesus, Matthew 4:1-11

J.W. McGarvey

Preparation, Matthew 4:1-2. (Mark 1:12-13; Luke 4:1-2)

1. led up.—The statement that Jesus was led up by the Spirit to be tempted shows that he was subjected to temptation in accordance with a deliberate purpose, but a purpose not his own. Mark uses the more forcible expression, "the Spirit driveth him into the wilderness." It is an example, then, not of voluntary entrance into temptation, but of being divinely led into it for a special divine purpose. The traditionary supposition that the wilderness into which he was led was the rugged mountainous region back of Jericho, is altogether probable.

2. when he had fasted.—The fast of forty days was intended, at least in part, to excite the intense hunger which Satan tried to take advantage of in the first temptation. That "he was afterward hungered" implies that his appetite was miraculously suspended during the forty days. There are two types of this fast in the Old Testament—the fast of Moses (Exodus 34:28), and that of Elijah (1 Kings 19:1-8).

First Temptation, Matthew 4:3-4. (Luke 4:3-4)

Before we can properly estimate the temptation of Jesus we must fix a standard by which to judge of the force of temptations. All temptation results from the excitement of some lust or desire. (James 1:14.) The more intense the desire excited, other things being equal, the greater the temptation. Human experience teaches, also, that, other things being equal, the more cunningly the sinfulness of a wrong act is disguised, the more easily are we induced to commit it. Evidently, then, the force of a temptation is to be estimated by considering the degree of desire excited and the skill with which the sinfulness of the proposed act is disguised. When these two circumstances exist in the highest degree we have the strongest temptation.

3. If thou be the Son of God.—In addition to the desire for food, resulting from a forty days’ fast, Satan seeks by the words, "If thou be the Son of God," to excite in Jesus another desire—that of rebuking the doubt which these words imply. It is impossible that a fleshly appetite more intense could be excited, or one in the gratification of which we would realize so little suspicion of evil. A good motive for the proposed act is suggested, and the sinfulness of it is so skillfully disguised, that few persons even to this day are able to detect it. It would be difficult, therefore, if not impossible, to conceive of a stronger temptation. It is one which no merely human being could resist.

4. he answered.—As soon as the suggestion of Satan was made the mind of Jesus reverted to the Scriptures and rested on the words of Moses: "Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God." (Deuteronomy 8:3.) Israel had been led by God into the wilderness, where there was no bread; had been subjected to intense hunger there, and had then been fed by bread from heaven. Moses explains that this was to teach them that "man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God"—that is, by every means which God may appoint. Jesus finds in this a precedent for himself. He, too, had been led by God into a wilderness where there was no bread, and he was now suffering from consequent hunger. The duty of Israel is now his duty, for his circumstances are like theirs. They sinned by murmuring against Moses, and by proposing to seek bread in their own way—that is, by returning into Egypt. (Exodus 16:1-9.) He will commit a similar sin if, distrustful of God, he seeks to turn stones into bread. They were taught to rely upon the God who had brought them into trouble to deliver them from it. This, now, is his duty, and he accepts the precedent as his guide.

Verses 5-11

Mat 4:5-11

Second Temptation, Matthew 4:5-7. (Luke 4:9-12)

J.W. McGarvey

5. the devil taketh him.—In what way the devil removed Jesus from the wilderness to the temple is not stated, and it would be vain to inquire. It is a question of no practical value.

on a pinnacle.—The word translated pinnacle (πτεργιον) means literally a little wing. Its force as an architectural term does not enable us to determine what part of the temple is meant. But the context shows that it was a point so high that a fall from it would be fatal; and with this the southeast corner of the outer wall around the temple best coincides. From this point to the valley of the Kedron below is said by Josephus to have been about 600 feet. This is doubtless an exaggeration, but recent explorations have proved that the descent was once much greater than it now is. The foundations of the wall are nearly ninety feet below the present surface of the ground.

6. cast thyself down.—This temptation, like the first, was addressed to the feeling uppermost in the mind of Jesus. While gazing down from a dizzy height the idea of a fall and its consequences instinctively possessed him. The suggestion of the tempter is supported by the written promise of God that Jesus shall not be allowed even to strike his foot against a stone, much less to be dashed to pieces by a fall like this. No injury, then, can result from the attempt if he is the Son of God; and this if, as in the former instance, contributed to the force of the temptation. Moreover, some good might result from the act. It would show how completely he trusted in the promise of God. and it would convince the Jews that he was under special divine protection. Every consideration seemed to be in favor of making the leap except the fear of personal injury, and this consideration must be rejected as indicating distrust of God.

7. Jesus said.—Jesus parried this stroke of the adversary, not, as some have since done for him. by objecting to the accuracy of Satan’s quotation; nor by deriving that the promise referred to himself; nor by making a subtle distinction in reference to the "ways" mentioned in the quotation; but by remembering that the promise quoted is modified by the precept, "Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God." The word rendered tempt (πειρσω) means to put to proof, whether for a good or a bad purpose. When used with reference to enticement to sin it is properly rendered tempt; but when it refers to God putting men to proof, or men putting God to proof, test is the best rendering. The answer of Jesus is as if he had said: True, these words are written; they are applicable to me and to all good men, and they will be fulfilled in their season; but to throw one’s self into unnecessary danger because of these words would be merely testing God in reference to his promise, and this we are forbidden to do.

Third Temptation, Matthew 4:8-11. (Luke 4:5-8)

J.W. McGarvey

8. sheweth him all the kingdoms.—If all the kingdoms of the world and the glory of them were presented visibly to Jesus, Satan must have exerted supernatural power; if they were presented only to his mental vision, it might have been accomplished by a vivid description such as Satan is capable of, aided by the excited imagination of Jesus as he looked abroad from the top of the "exceeding high mountain." Which of these methods was adopted the text does not determine.

9. will I give thee.—Satan’s promise to give Jesus the kingdom, when considered in connection with the capacities of Jesus himself, involves no very arrogant assumption of power. The promise implied, of course, that Jesus must unite his own efforts with Satan’s in seeking to obtain the prize; and it is quite certain that if he had consented, and had not by this consent lost the power and wisdom which belonged to him, he could have attained in a short time to universal dominion. The expectation of the Jews that their Messiah would assume this very position, and a vague expectation which pervaded the most intelligent nations of the heathen world, that some great hero and conqueror was about to appear, would have been ready instruments in Satan’s hands for fulfilling hit promise.

For success in this, the final struggle, Satan depended solely on the intensity of the desire which he expected to excite. With no attempt to disguise the sin, there was a bold offer of the grandest prize which had ever dazzled the eyes of ambition. The doubting if—"if thou art the Son of God"—is also omitted, for it would have militated against the purpose of the tempter to remind Jesus of his Sonship in the very act of enticing him to worship Satan.

10. Then saith Jesus.—Satan estimated so highly the force of this temptation that he relied on it for overcoming one who had resisted all of his previous efforts. It was, in his own estimation, the most powerful temptation which he could employ; but so void of ambition was the spirit of Jesus that it excited in him only disgust. "Get thee hence, Satan," is his first exclamation; and the next, the well remembered command, "Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve."

11. the devil leaveth him.—Satan now leaves Jesus—"for a season," as Luke adds—because he had exhausted his power. The Apostle John distributes the lusts through which we may be tempted into three classes, viz: The lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye, and the pride of life. (1 John 2:16.) Of all the lusts of the flesh, the one most usually gratified without sin, and the one most imperative in its demands, is hunger. Satan had tried Jesus by means of this under circumstances the most favorable to success, and had failed. His next appeal was to the lust of the eye, or the love of display. To this passion he could not hope to address himself more plausibly then he had on the pinnacle of the temple. To "the pride of life," or worldly ambition, he had just made the strongest appeal in the bounds of possibility, and had met with worse than defeat. Having, then, addressed to each class of lusts the temptation best of all calculated to succeed, he retires, baffled and disappointed, to devise some new and different mode of attack. We shall find him hereafter returning to the conflict in the persons of hostile Pharisees and unfaithful disciples.

angels came.—It seems that the hunger which was tormenting Jesus at the beginning of his temptation was not yet appeased. As soon as Satan left him, angels came and ministered to him, supplying his physical wants. The suffering preceded the refreshment; the struggle with Satan preceded the enjoyment of angel company. So with his followers. The coming of the angels also completed the parallel between himself and Israel in the wilderness. As they learned by the falling of the manna that man shall not live by bread alone, so he, adhering to the same lesson, was fed at last, not by turning stones into bread, but by receiving bread from the hands of angels. At the same time the promise, "He will give his angels charge concerning thee," which had been quoted by Satan in tempting him, is now fulfilled to him, and this without putting God to the test in reference to it.

Argument of Section 5

In this section Jesus is presented as overcoming temptations by which all merely human beings have been overcome. The unexpressed conclusion is, that Jesus must be more than human. The story of his temptation is an argument for his divinity.

But besides this, Matthew accomplishes two other important purposes in this section. He exhibits first the skill of Satan. This is seen both in his perfect adaptation of each proposal to the feeling which was at the moment uppermost, or supposed to be uppermost, in the mind of Jesus; and in the selection for this attempt of him on whose resistance depended the salvation of the world. Twice has the destiny of the world been suspended on the action of a single person, and each of these was made an object of especial temptation by our cunning adversary. The first Adam fell, and the race fell with him. The second Adam defeated Satan and redeemed the race from the effects of the fall. Secondly, our author shows us in this section how Satan can be resisted. Jesus achieved his victory by familiarity with the word of God, coupled with unhesitating acceptance of even the slightest indications of God’s will No man can resist, as he did, without his reverence for God’s will and his acquaintance with God’s word. As we approach him in these two particulars we will approach him in his perfect resistance to the temptations of the devil.

Historical Character of Section 5

In discussing the foregoing section I have purposely omitted the questions, whether Satan appeared visibly and spoke audibly to Jesus, whether any part of the account is merely symbolical, and many other questions more curious than profitable which have been discussed by other writers. For a brief statement of these questions, the various theories to which they have given rise, and the various works in which these theories are defended, see Lange (Commentary on Matthew 4:3), who is not himself free from the supposition that the account is partly symbolical. It must be admitted by every candid reader that Matthew supposed himself, throughout this account, to be describing a real transaction precisely as it occurred. It is evident also, from the nature of the case, that he must have obtained his conception of the facts from an account given by Jesus himself. If, then, the account is not to be understood literally, Matthew was deceived, and Jesus deceived him. The deception, too, is one that remained after the plenary inspiration of the apostles had taken place, and was not one of those misconceptions of the Master’s words which characterized the disciples during his personal ministry, and passed away when they became fully inspired. Any hypothesis which involves such consequences has in it the seeds of infidelity, and must be rejected by all who believe in the inspiration of the apostles. If Matthew is to be credited in reference to other events of which he was not an eyewitness, he is to be credited in reference to this. And, after all, if we admit anything at all supernatural in the career of Jesus, there is no difficulty in admitting the reality of this entire account. The absurdities and contradictions in which the ablest men are involved when they deny the reality of the account, and invent hypotheses of their own concerning the transaction, can be seen by the reader if he will but glance over Lange’s note above referred to; and they constitute no mean proof of the wisdom of those who humbly and unquestioningly accept the inspired narrative as we find it.

The Temptation of Jesus - Matthew 4:1-11

Open It

1. What are some common food cravings?

2. Why are some temptations harder to resist than others?

3. Why do different people struggle with different types of temptations?

Explore It

4. Who led Jesus into the wilderness? Why? (Matthew 4:1)

5. Where was Jesus led? By whom? (Matthew 4:1)

6. For what purpose was Jesus led into the desert? (Matthew 4:1)

7. What made Jesus weak at this time? (Matthew 4:2)

8. What three names are given to Jesus’ adversary in the desert? (Matthew 4:3; Matthew 4:5; Matthew 4:10)

9. What was the first temptation presented to Jesus? (Matthew 4:3)

10. How did Jesus respond to the first temptation? (Matthew 4:4)

11. Where did the devil take Jesus for the second temptation? (Matthew 4:5)

12. What tempting offer was made to Christ at the highest point of the temple? (Matthew 4:6)

13. How did Jesus answer the second temptation? (Matthew 4:7)

14. To what final destination did Satan take Christ? (Matthew 4:8)

15. What did the devil show Jesus from a very high mountain? (Matthew 4:8)

16. What did the devil promise Jesus in exchange for worship? (Matthew 4:9)

17. How did Jesus react to the third temptation? (Matthew 4:10)

18. What happened after Jesus had resisted Satan three times? (Matthew 4:11)

19. Who came and ministered to Jesus when all was said and done? (Matthew 4:11)

Get It

20. How would you define temptation?

21. Besides physical appetite, what are some other sins of the flesh?

22. What would have been appealing to Christ about the devil’s second temptation?

23. What would have been appealing to Christ about the offer of all the kingdoms of the world?

24. How can memorizing Scripture help us combat temptation?

25. What role does the Word of God play in resisting temptation?

26. What happens when a Christian consistently resists temptation?

27. What situations make us especially vulnerable to temptation?

28. In what ways can we make temptation more difficult to resist?

29. What can we do to make temptation more manageable?

30. What temptations are inevitable for most people?

31. What temptations are inevitable for you?

Apply It

32. In what specific area of your life is temptation the strongest these days?

33. What steps can you take this week to resist the temptations you are facing now?

Verses 12-17

Mat 4:12-17

Part Second.
Ministry of Jesus in Galilee

Matthew 4:12 to Matthew 18:35

J.W. McGarvey

Section I.
Introductory Statements

Removal to Galilee and Theme of his Preaching, Matthew 4:12-17.

(Mark 1:14-15; Luke 4:14-44; John 4)

12. when Jesus had heard.—The text here introduces the removal of Jesus into Galilee next after the account of his temptation, and fixes the time of it as immediately after Jesus heard of John’s imprisonment. We are not to infer, however, that the imprisonment of John and the removal of Jesus occurred immediately after the temptation; for John’s narrative clearly shows that all of the events of his first three chapters occurred in the interval, and that the events of his fourth chapter occurred on the journey into Galilee, which is here mentioned. In other words, if the first three chapters of John were to be inserted chronologically in Matthew’s narrative, they would come in between the eleventh and twelfth verses of the fourth chapter of Matthew. (See John 1:29; John 1:32; John 4:1-4; John 4:43.)

13. and leaving Nazareth.—The remark about leaving Nazareth implies that Jesus, on returning into Galilee, first came to Nazareth, but that, for some reason not given by Matthew, he changed his place of residence. The reason is given by Luke in Luke 4:16-31; a passage in Luke, which, notwithstanding the opinions of some eminent writers, I am constrained to regard as parallel to this. Capernaum, the place to which Jesus now removes, was the most important city in Galilee, and was situated on the northwestern shore of the lake of Galilee. Scarcely a vestige of it can now be found.

14, 15. beyond Jordan.—The lands of Zebulun and Naphthali, here described as "beyond Jordan," were west of the Jordan, and Isaiah, who wrote these words in Jerusalem, was on the same side of the river. The expression "beyond Jordan." therefore, has not here its usual sense of on the other side of Jordan, but must mean beyond the source of the Jordan. The southern end of the lake of Galilee was the immediate source of the lower Jordan, and a part of Zebulon and the whole of Naphthali were beyond this point.

Galilee of the Gentiles.—The name Galilee was originally confined to a small district in the tribe of Napthali. (Joshua 20:7.) In the days of Solomon it included twenty insignificant cities. (1 Kings 9:11-13.) It was afterward extended until it included all the lands of Naphthali, Asher, Zebulon, and Issachar. It was called by the prophet "Galilee of the Gentiles," because in his day the population was largely intermixed with Gentiles and corrupted by Gentile habits.

16. saw great light.—A great light springing up in a dark place might fitly represent any great teacher or reformer; but the light here predicted by the prophet is located in the very land which witnessed the chief part of the ministry of Jesus, and here no great light but Jesus ever appeared. The enemies of Jesus themselves declared that "out of Galilee ariseth no prophet." (John 7:52.) It is certain, then, that Isaiah’s prediction was fulfilled, as Matthew affirms, in Jesus.

17. Repent: for the kingdom.—The theme of Jesus in the beginning was the same as that of John. He never ceased to preach repentance, and to enforce it by announcing the speedy approach of his kingdom; though, in his later ministry, other subjects became more prominent. As we have remarked before in speaking of John’s preaching, this was the theme best calculated to prepare the people for the reception of the kingdom when it should be preached by the apostles. (See note on Matthew 3:2.)

Jesus Begins to Preach - Matthew 4:12-17

Open It

1. What is the best sermon you have ever heard preached?

2. If you could stand up and preach one sermon to your church, what would you like to say?

3. What do you remember about your first job?

Explore It

4. What happened to John the Baptist? (Matthew 4:12)

5. What did Jesus do when He heard the news about John? (Matthew 4:12)

6. Where in Galilee had Jesus been living? (Matthew 4:13)

7. What is revealed here about the geography of Jesus’ new home? (Matthew 4:13)

8. Where in Galilee did Jesus relocate? (Matthew 4:13-14) Why?

9. What happened where Jesus relocated? (Matthew 4:13-16)

10. Why was Christ’s move significant? (Matthew 4:14)

11. Who foretold that Jesus would live in Capernaum? (Matthew 4:14)

12. In what spiritual state were the inhabitants of this region before Jesus moved there? (Matthew 4:16)

13. How is Jesus’ arrival in Capernaum described? (Matthew 4:16)

14. What did Jesus do in His new hometown? (Matthew 4:17)

15. What was Christ’s message from that time on? (Matthew 4:17)

Get It

16. How do you react when you hear that Christians in other countries are being persecuted for their faith?

17. Why do you think so many of God’s people become bold (instead of fearful) during times of persecution?

18. What would you do if you learned your pastor was in jail for preaching?

19. In what ways have you been ridiculed or hassled for your belief in Christ?

20. How would you respond if you sensed God was leading you to pack up your family and move to an unevangelized area to be a missionary?

21. In what ways are your neighbors like the people of Zebulun and Naphtali?

22. How can you help your neighbors come to see the light of Christ?

Apply It

23. To what places and people do you need to go this week as a light for Christ?

24. In what way can you encourage a missionary today, this week, or this month?

Verses 18-22

Mat 4:18-22


Matthew 4:18-22

18 And walking by the sea of Galilee, he saw two brethren, Simon who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother.—The account of Luke is fuller than that of Matthew. (Luke 5:1-11.) "Walking by the sea of Galilee" does not mean that Jesus was idly strolling along; he is still carrying out his program of ministry and redemption. "Sea of Galilee" is also called Lake of Gennesaret (Luke 5:1), Sea of Chinnereth (Numbers 34:11), Chinneroth (Joshua 11:2; 1 Kings 15:20), and Tiberias (John 6:1; John 21:1). The most common name of this body of water is here mentioned by Matthew; this body of water is formed by the waters of the Jordan and is about twelve miles long and six miles broad. It is an expanse of the river Jordan; its most remarkable feature is its deep depression, being no less than seven hundred feet below the level of the sea.

"Simon who is called Peter" (John 1:42); Jesus gave him the name of Peter; it is a designation with a historical anticipation; it means "rock" or "stone." Simon is contracted from Simeon and means hearing or favorable hearing. This is the first mention that Matthew makes of this disciple. "Andrew his brother" is mentioned here with Peter. Peter and Andrew, and probably John, had accepted Jesus as the Messiah nearly a year before this event (John 1:35-42), and had accompanied him to Cana of Galilee (John 2:2) as his disciple. They did not receive a formal call at that time to leave all and follow Jesus permanently, and probably they had returned for a time to their occupation as fishermen, till they were called expressly to be fishers of men. Peter had another name "Cephas" which means rock or piece of rock. "Andrew" is a Greek word meaning manly we do not know whether he was older or younger than his brother Simon; they had formerly lived in Bethsaida (John 1:44), but had afterward gone to Carpernaum to live. (Luke 4:31; Luke 4:38.)

These brothers were busy; God or Jesus never called one while that one was in idleness. These brothers were "casting a net into the sea" as they were fishers by occupation. There may be a distinction between "casting a net" and the hauling in of a net the one is smaller than the other and may be handled by one man. Fishing was a humble but respectable occupation one who follows that occupation is usually vigorous of body.

19, 20 And he saith unto them, Come ye after me, and I will make you fishers of men.—The meaning evidently is that they were to gain souls for the kingdom of heaven from the sea of the world; the figure that Jesus employed connects their former occupation with the work that he now has for them to do. Their secular employment served as an emblem of their spiritual calling; again they are now catching fish merely to feed men, but their occupation is to be that of catching men. This was a glorious work for them and elevated them to the highest calling on earth. In order to do this they were to "come ye after me"; they were to follow Jesus and he would make them fishers of men. In their present condition they were not as yet ready for this great work. It is commendable in Peter and Andrew that "they straightway left the nets, and followed him." They immediately, without delay, obeyed his command; they recognized Jesus as the Messiah, and they were willing to follow him; they did not hesitate nor falter in indecision; their minds were made up so soon as the call came. Their nets were the means of their living, but they left these; they were willing to forsake all for the sake of Jesus to follow him wherever he should lead. Their faith in the Messiah and their prompt obedience to his call revealed marks of qualifications for the great work.

21, 22 And going on from thence he saw two other brethren, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother.—A little time seems to have intervened which Jesus occupied in conversing with Simon and Andrew; the brief words of Matthew’s record are an epitome of the conversation that Jesus had with Simon and Andrew. He saw after going further along the coast of the Sea of Galilee "two other brethren"; these also are named as James and John; they were partners of Peter and Andrew in the business of fishing (Luke 5:10), and probably John was the disciple not named, who accompanied Andrew in his first visit to Jesus on his return from the temptation of Jesus (John 1:37-40). James and John were sons of Zebedee; their father was with them in the boat at this time. James is probably the elder of the two brothers; his name is the Greek form of the Hebrew name "Jacob"; he is usually called the greater or elder to distinguish him from James the less. He was beheaded by order of Herod Agrippa (Acts 12:2) about A.D. 44 and was the first martyr among the apostles. John means "the grace of God" he is designated as the disciple "whom Jesus loved." He was the writer of the gospel that bears his name, three epistles, and Revelation. He was among the first disciples of Jesus, and followed him faithfully through a long life of service and was the last of the apostles to die. He lived nearly seventy years after this call by Jesus. Zebedee means "Jehovah’s gift"; he was the husband of Salome, the sister of Mary, the mother of Jesus (John 19:25); she ministered to Jesus (Matthew 27:56). James and John were cousins of Jesus. Zebedee is not mentioned among the disciples of Jesus. The mention of hired servants (Mark 1:20), of the two vessels employed (Luke 5:7), and the subsequent allusion of John’s acquaintance with a person in so high a position as the high priest (John 18:15) seem to indicate that Zebedee, if not a wealthy man, was at any rate of some position at Capernaum.

And they straightway left the boat and their father, and followed him.—They were mending their nets at the time Jesus came along; the nets were broken by the great draught of fishes. (Luke 5:6.) Jesus called them to become fishers of men as he had called Peter and Andrew. They immediately "left the boat and their father" and followed Jesus. Some think that they probably got the consent of their father before they accepted the call; they were men and not boys; it is likely that they would make some arrangement with their father about their business before giving up everything and following Jesus. The call of God is above all earthly demands.’ (Matthew 10:37.) The hired servants were there with the father, hence he was not left without some provision. God’s call does not bid us leave our parents to suffer, but rather to make provision for them. (Mark 7:10-13.) This call of these disciples was their call to be his disciples or constant companions and not the formal call to be his apostles; this came at a later period. (Luke 6:12-13.) These disciples not only left their property and their business, but left their homes and their families in order to follow Jesus.

The Calling of the First Disciples - Matthew 4:18-22

Open It

1. If you could pass on some skill or knowledge to an apprentice, what would you want to pass on?

2. What kind of leader do you prefer to follow?

3. What are some examples of well-functioning teams?

Explore It

4. Where did these particular events take place? (Matthew 4:18)

5. Who did Jesus see as He walked by? (Matthew 4:18)

6.What nickname did one of Jesus’ new disciples have? (Matthew 4:18)

7. What were Simon and Andrew doing when Jesus approached them? (Matthew 4:18)

8. What did these brothers do for a living? (Matthew 4:18)

9. What exactly did Jesus say to Simon and Andrew? (Matthew 4:19)

10. What was Simon and Andrew’s response to Jesus’ words? (Matthew 4:20)

11. How long did Simon and Andrew deliberate over Jesus’ offer? (Matthew 4:20)

12. Whom did Jesus see next? (Matthew 4:21)

13. Who was Zebedee? (Matthew 4:21)

14. In what activity were James and John involved? (Matthew 4:21)

15. What did Jesus do when He saw the two brothers, James and John? (Matthew 4:21)

16. How did James and John react to Jesus’ challenge? (Matthew 4:22)

Get It

17. What does it mean to be a "fisher of men"?

18. How risky was it for Peter, Andrew, James, and John to drop everything (jobs and families) to go with Jesus?

19. What thoughts do you think were racing through their minds as they headed off down the beach with Jesus?

20. How do you think you might have responded had you been fishing with these men and heard Jesus direct this challenge to you?

21. What are some reasons people make career changes?

22. How do you think Jesus calls people into the ministry today?

23. What do you think Jesus saw in these men?

24. Why did Jesus handpick blue-collar fishermen to be the leaders of the church?

25. For what would you be willing to leave your family and go far away?

26. What possessions, goals, dreams, or relationships are keeping you from following Jesus wholeheartedly today?

27. What does it mean for us to follow Jesus?

28. What does it mean for you to follow Jesus?

Apply It

29. In what area of your life will you follow Jesus more consciously this week?

30. What can you do or stop doing today in order to become a more expert "fisher of men"?

Verses 18-25

Mat 4:18-25

Call of the Fishermen, Matthew 4:18-22.

(Mark 1:16-20; Luke 5:4-11)

J.W. McGarvey

20, 22. and followed him.—Matthew’s narrative furnishes no sufficient reason why these four men so promptly followed Jesus at his call. True, it would be naturally inferred that they knew more of him than the narrative declares, but we are dependent on the other gospels for the details. We learn from John’s first four chapters that Peter and Andrew at least had been his disciples for a considerable length of time; and from Luke, that they had witnessed some startling miracles just previous to their call. (Luke 5:1-11.) This was their call not to be his disciples, but to be his constant companions. Their call to be apostles was at a still later period. (See Luke 6:12-13.)

General Circuit of Galilee, Matthew 4:23-25.

(Mark 1:35-39; Luke 4:42-44)

J.W. McGarvey

23. went about all Galilee.—This paragraph contains a general statement of the journeying and labors of Jesus in Galilee, the details of which are given in subsequent chapters. It shows that in the course of these journeyings he visited every part of Galilee.

in their synagogues.—The synagogues were buildings erected for a species of public instruction which had originated since the close of Old Testament history. It arose from a felt necessity for a more general knowledge of the law, and for such admonitions and exhortations as would lead to a better observance of it. The synagogues furnished Jesus, and the apostles after him, with a suitable place for public teaching on the Sabbath, and with a ready congregation. In them the law and the prophets were publicly read in such portions as to include the whole of the Old Testament in the course of the year. After the reading, comments were made, and exhortations delivered. A body of rulers, usually called elders, presided over each synagogue, and a discipline was enforced which sometimes resulted in expulsion, and sometimes in the use of the scourge. (See Matthew 10:17; Luke 4:16-20; John 9:22; John 12:42; Acts 13:14-16.)

24, 25. And his fame went.—In these two verses we have a summary of the miracles wrought by Jesus, and of the regions whence the afflicted were brought to him, and whence the multitudes came who flocked around him. Syria was the country lying next north of Galilee. Decapolis lay southeast of the lake of Galilee, and was so called because, it included ten cities and their suburbs. "Beyond Jordan" means the region east of the Jordan called by the Greeks and Romans Perea.

Argument of Section 1

The facts of this section furnish another argument in favor of the claims of Jesus. They show that his dwelling-place was that in which the prophet Isaiah had predicted the appearance of a great light, and that he was such a light; that he was so great a light that some men left all things to follow him, and that multitudes came from all surrounding regions to receive his blessing and to enjoy his instruction. No clearer proof could be given that he was the great light whose rising was predicted by the prophet.

Jesus Heals the Sick - Matthew 4:23-25

Open It

1. How do you feel about doctors and hospitals?

2. If you could find the cure to any one disease, what illness would it be and why?

Explore It

3. Where did the incidents in this passage take place? (Mat 4:23)

4. What did Jesus do at the synagogues of this region? (Mat 4:23)

5. About what did Jesus preach? (Mat 4:23)

6. What activities was Jesus involved in during this ministry tour? (Mat 4:23)

7. How would you describe the publicity surrounding Jesus’ ministry in Galilee? (Mat 4:24)

8. How did the masses react to the news of what Jesus was doing? (Mat 4:24)

9. What kind of physically and spiritually ill people sought out Jesus? (Mat 4:24)

10. What did Jesus do for the suffering individuals who came to Him? (Mat 4:24)

11. Jesus’ audience grew to include people from what surrounding regions and cities? (Mat 4:25)

12. How are the crowds described? (Mat 4:25)

13. What did the people do after hearing Jesus and experiencing His healing touch? (Mat 4:25)

Get It

14. What assorted reactions do people have to life-threatening illnesses?

15. Which is worse in your opinion and why: to be physically ill, or to be spiritually sick?

16. How might God use sickness, pain, or difficulty to bring about good in a person’s life?

17. In times of sickness, why do we often pray or seek spiritual help only as a last resort?

18. Why do people want to be healed of their illnesses?

19. Why is it significant that Jesus was able to heal all the ailments people brought to Him?

Apply It

20. What can you do today to encourage someone who is ill?

21. What realistic step can you take this week to share the good news of Christ with a non-Christian friend?

Verses 23-25

Mat 4:23-25



Matthew 4:23-25

23 And Jesus went about in all Galilee.—Here we have Jesus making a circuit of Galilee; he did this on two other occasions later. (Matthew 9:35 to Matthew 11:1; Luke 8:1-3.) Matthew does not give the details of this circuit here but does later. It may be that "Galilee" as used here implied only "Upper Galilee"; some so think; others think that all Galilee was included in this circuit. Galilee formed the northernmost part of Palestine; it was about ten miles long and four to five miles broad, bounded on the west by the Mediterranean Sea and Phoenicia, on the north by Coelesyria, on the east by the Jordan and the Sea of Galilee, and on the south by Samaria. It was considered mountainous and rugged, yet it was the most fertile part of the country, being well adapted to pasturage and agriculture. It is claimed that it contained 404 towns and villages.

Teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom.—Jesus "taught" in the synagogues and "preached" the gospel of the kingdom. Jesus is called the "Great Teacher" because he instructed people who frequented the synagogue; he interpreted the law of Moses to them and gave them information as to the facts of God’s word and instructed them with respect to its principles. "Synagogues" were common at that time; much of the teaching of the Jews was received in the synagogue; Jews were commanded to teach their children at home on all occasions (Deuteronomy 6:4-10), but at this time many homes neglected the teaching and sent their children to the synagogue. The Greek word which is designated by "synagogue" signifies a collection of objects or persons; the synagogue came into use during the Babylonian captivity and became very common by the time of the advent of the Messiah. To preach means to proclaim; not necessarily to proclaim for the first time, but it includes the first proclamation of the gospel.

Much of the Jewish worship was carried on in the synagogue; this gave Jesus an opportunity to preach "the gospel of the kingdom." The "gospel of the kingdom" was the good news of the approaching reign of the Messiah; his kingdom was "at hand," "it drew nigh." The word "gospel" is composed of two words, "god" and "spell," which means good tidings and corresponds to the Greek word which means "good news." The Jews associated the idea of joy with the coming of the Messiah; now Jesus proclaimed "the good news" that the kingdom or the reign of the Messiah was near. The gospel as preached by Jesus here does not have the same content that the word "gospel" later had.

Healing all manner of disease and all manner of sickness among the people.—Jesus confirmed his teaching and his preaching by miracles; the ultimate aim of these miracles was the manifestation of Jesus himself, and of the kingdom of heaven; while the diseased were blessed in that they were healed, yet Jesus had a higher motive than merely curing the ailments of the physical body. Matthew is general in narrating the miracles of Jesus; he healed "all manner of disease" and "all manner of sickness"; the word for "disease" seems to denote infirmity or such diseases as produce feebleness rather than positive suffering, while the word for "sickness" includes those severe, violent, and dangerous ailments. "Disease" expresses something stronger than "sickness." The miracles of Jesus cannot be separated from his teaching and preaching. The spiritual teachings, the perfect character, and the miracles of Jesus all support each other, and together form the foundation of our faith and hope.

24 And the report of him went forth into all Syria.—Such miracles which brought healing to the people naturally would attract the attention; hence the fame of Jesus passed to the north and east, rather than to the south. Galilee was connected by trade with Damascus, rather than with Jerusalem; however "Syria" was a name of variable extent, denoting in general a country east of .the Mediterranean, between Asia Minor and Arabia. We are to understand Matthew to mean that the report of Jesus’ miracles of healing passed beyond the bounds of Galilee and went far away into the districts northward. Mark says "the report of him went out straightway everywhere into all the region of Galilee round about." (Mark 1:28.)

And they brought unto him all that were sick.—In consequence of what they had heard of his great power to heal, all others who were afflicted were anxious to be healed. Those who could not come of their own strength were brought by relatives and friends. It seems that they had not heard so much of the teachings of Jesus as his power to heal; naturally people would be more interested in the physical comfort and ease than they would in the good news of the approaching kingdom. There were many kinds of diseases then and Jesus healed them; some of these diseases were attended with excruciating pain; others were "possessed with demons" and were healed. It seems that the difference between this and other diseases was in its cause and not its symptoms. We find violent madness (Mark 5:4; Luke 8:29), epilepsy (Mark 9:18; Luke 9:39), dumbness (Matthew 9:32; Luke 11:14), blindness (Matthew 12:22), all ascribed to persons who were possessed with demons. There were diseases among them which were not caused by evil spirits. There seems to have been certain moral and physical conditions in which demons gained possession both of the body and of the mind, bringing disease upon the body, and insanity to the mind. All these were brought to Jesus for his help.

25 And there followed him great multitudes from Galilee and Decapolis and Jerusalem and Judaea and from beyond the Jordan.—Great crowds followed him; possibly a confused crowd or throng of people followed Jesus wherever he went. "Multitudes" means "crowds" without designating the number; this should be understood throughout the record of Matthew. The miracles of Jesus for a season attracted such crowds and excited so many that they saw and heard but little else than the power of Jesus to cure diseases many did not appreciate his teaching, neither did they look forward with great anxiety to the coming kingdom. The miracles of Jesus, if properly understood, would mean that he who wrought the miracle had the power of God, and if he had the power of God in working miracles, God was with him in his teachings. God was manifested in the teaching and preaching of Jesus as much as he was in the healing of all manner of diseases.

Great crowds came from "Galilee and Decapolis and Jerusalem and Judaea and from beyond the Jordan." It seems that the crowds were drawn first from Galilee, where Jesus was teaching then the crowds were increased by others coming from Decapolis, which was a section of country with ten cities these "ten cities" very likely varied at different times it was a region in the northeastern part of Palestine, on the east and southeast of the Sea of Galilee. The crowds also came from Jerusalem and Judea and "from beyond the Jordan"; this means the other side of the Jordan from Jerusalem, and it was usually called Perea. Syria was north of Galilee, Decapolis southeast of the Sea of Galilee, "beyond the Jordan" or Perea was east of the Jordan and Judea was the southern division of Palestine. Jesus had retired from Judea to Galilee, but many followed him to Galilee.

Bibliographical Information
"Commentary on Matthew 4". "Old & New Testament Restoration Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/onr/matthew-4.html.
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