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Bible Commentaries
Matthew 4

Schaff's Popular Commentary on the New TestamentSchaff's NT Commentary

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Verse 1

Matthew 4:1. Then, immediately after the events mentioned in the last chapter, as Mark more explicitly states. After marked evidence of Divine favor, the most trying conflicts.

Led up by the Spirit. Not by His own spirit, but by the Holy Spirit. The words ‘led up’ show this.

Into the wilderness. What wilderness, is a question of no special importance. Tradition points to a high and precipitous mountain near Jericho, close by the banks of the Jordan, called Quarantania, from the forty days’ fast. This is the more probable locality; but our Lord, like Moses and Elijah, may have gone to the Sinaitic wilderness.

To be tempted. For this purpose. To this contest, the God-Man is impelled, not directly by his own will, but by the Spirit to fulfil the design of the Father. According to his human nature, Jesus could be tempted, was in need of trial. Through this he passed without sin (Hebrews 4:15).

By the devil. The Greek word means slanderer, accuser. In the Old Testament he is called Satan, or adversary. A person, not a principle or influence, as is evident, from the whole tenor of Scripture. The personal representatives of the two kingdoms here met. As Christ was in human form, it is natural to suppose the adversary took some bodily form. What form is not stated, nor is it material. The views which regard the temptation as purely internal do not require any bodily appearance. Some suppose that ‘the tempter,’ Matthew 4:3, was a member of the Sanhedrin, presenting, as the special instrument of the devil, the prevalent false Messianic notions of the Jews. But ‘the devil’ is expressly mentioned in the second and third temptations; the suggestion of Matthew 4:9 could not be made with any power by a Jew; Matthew 4:10 speaks of Satan by name.

Verses 1-11

The threefold temptation by Satan; the threefold victory over Satan. He who came ‘to destroy the works of the devil,’ triumphs over him in personal conflict. This was the Messiah’s trial and probation, as His baptism had been His inauguration. The second Adam, like the first, was tempted. Contrasts between the temptations: paradise, wilderness; fall, victory; disobedience and death, obedience and life. The aim of Satan was to make of Jesus a pseudo-Messiah, abusing the Divine gifts for selfish ends by conforming to the carnal expectations of the Jews respecting the Messiah. The three temptations: ( 1 ) to doubt the Word of God; ( 2 ) to presume upon the Word of God; ( 3 ) to reject the Word of God; or successive appeals to appetite, pride, ambition. On the analogy between the three temptations and the three Jewish parties, and the three great Messianic offices, see Lange, Matthew, p. 86 .

Different views of the temptation:

1 . An external history, Satan appearing in person. Objections: ‘It involves something supernatural.’ But this might be expected in such circumstances. ‘Verse 8 cannot be taken literally.’ It may be in a qualified sense. The personality of Satan is implied, but this is no argument against this explanation. On the whole this is the most natural view.

2 . An inner experience, a soul struggle with Satan. The detailed accounts, full of references to localities and actions, might be thus explained. But it is necessary to admit some external elements, and it is difficult to draw the line. Bengel, Lange, and others, combine explanations ( 1 ) and ( 2 ).

3 . A vision, like that of Peter (Acts 10:0), and of Paul (2 Corinthians 12:0). It is difficult to account for the purely historical form of the accounts on this theory.

4 . A parable clothed in narrative form.

5 . A myth or religious poem, true in idea, but false in fact.

The last two are incompatible with the historical character of the Gospels.

Verse 2

Matthew 4:2. Fasted. Entire abstinence from food; comp. Luke 4:2.

Forty days and forty nights. Not fasting by day and feasting by night. The length of the fast is not incredible. Comp. the fasts of Moses (Exodus 34:28) and Elijah (1 Kings 19:8), Absorption in intellectual pursuits, but especially in spiritual contemplation, will render any one for a time independent of ordinary food or nourishment. If necessary, supernatural support would be granted. There is nothing here to encourage asceticism, however. Our Lord was enduring for us, not prescribing fasts to us. He neither practised nor enjoined monastic habits.

He afterward hungered. The wants of His human body were no longer overborne. Here for the first time the Gospel presents our Lord as sharing our physical needs. The glorious attestation to His Sonship preceded, the victory over Satan followed. Sent by God to triumph for us. He appears identified with us. Even when weakest physically, when the temptation would be strongest, He overcame in our nature what enslaves our unaided nature.

The tempter came. Luke (Luke 4:2) says that Jesus had been tempted during the forty days of fasting. ‘Tempter,’ the ‘one tempting,’ implying that this was his office or business. Actual approach is suggested by the literal meaning, ‘And the one tempting coming said to him.’

Verses 3-4

FIRST TEMPTATION. Matthew 4:3-4. If thou art the Son of God. The emphasis rests on ‘Son.’ On any theory the tempter meant by ‘Son,’ what our Lord had been declared to be at His baptism. That he would not have dared to tempt Jesus, had he known who He, was, is an unwarranted supposition. The language implies more of taunt than of doubt. Malicious taunting is more like Satan than ignorant doubting.

Command that, lit., ‘speak in order that’ these stones may become bread, lit., loaves.’ A challenge to the hungering Messiah to display His miraculous power, as if he had said, Can the Son of God hunger? The tempter sought to overcome His trust in God. The demand was for magic, rather than miracle. What Satan suggested resembles not the miracles of the Gospels, but the legends of the Apocryphal Gospels, and many ‘Lives of the saints.’

Verse 4

Matthew 4:4. It is written. ‘It has been and still is written,’ is the full meaning of this phrase. Each suggestion was answered by a passage from Scripture. A hint to honor the Old Testament, which is rendered emphatic by this particular quotation. Jesus, who was fulfilling the law, answers Satan from the law (Deuteronomy 8:3). The connection is strikingly appropriate: ‘Jehovah suffered thee to hunger, and fed thee with manna, which thou knewest not, neither did thy fathers know; that he might make thee know that man doth not live,’ etc. The quotation is very slightly varied from the Greek of the Septuagint

Man. Feeling so keenly His human needs, our Lord does not exert his Divine power, nor assert His Divine dignity, but overcomes the temptation by identifying Himself with ‘man,’ conquering Satan for us men.

By, lit., ‘upon,’ bread alone, i.e., ordinary bread procured in the ordinary way, but by every word, etc. Many authorities read ‘in.’ Accepting this, we explain: we live ordinarily ‘upon bread,’ but one who lives upon what God provides, lives ‘in’ it, as an atmosphere. Whoso depends on the mouth of God, his mouth shall not want bread, and thus depending, most truly lives. ‘Outward means cannot sustain us, but God by outward means.’ Some have taken ‘word ‘as meaning ‘thing,’ because it is not expressed in the Hebrew (Deuteronomy 8:3), but this is not strictly correct. The ‘word’ may be a promise, command, which results in the thing needed. The reference is not to spiritual food. The simple meaning is: Man is ordinarily sustained by bread, but if it pleases God, under whose Providential care he stands, to sustain him by other means, this will be done, and was done for Israel in the desert, all done according to the word proceeding out of the mouth of God. Thus the temptation was overcome. The needed supply doubtless came, and the hungering nature was satisfied, without the miracle the tempter suggested. We are here taught to overcome Satan with Scripture; to trust God for extraordinary help in extraordinary circumstances; as He suffered thus, sharing our needs, we may believe that we can triumph thus, partaking of His fulness.

Verse 5

Matthew 4:5. Then. Probably immediately afterwards

Taketh him, as a companion. Force is not necessarily implied, though Satan may have had for the time being some power over his weakened body. The greater humiliation of being tempted by Satan included the less, that of being conducted by him.

Into the holy city. Undoubtedly Jerusalem. Some suppose Jesus of his own accord went to Jerusalem for a day, and was there met by the tempter, i.e., by some one who had authority in the temple. The Evangelists, who write so simply, could easily have told us this, had they so understood it.

And setteth him. The conducting and setting were of a similar character.

On the pinnacle of the temple, i.e. , the whole enclosure. The word ‘pinnacle’ means either a wing, or a pointed roof or a gable. The roof of the temple itself was covered with spikes to prevent birds from defiling it. A portico of the temple is meant, probably that called the Royal Porch, which overlooked the valley of Hinnom at a dizzy height. There is nothing to indicate that the tempter desired Jesus to work a miracle in the sight of the people in the court of the temple. Lange supposes that He was placed somewhere in the temple itself, the temptation presented being the suggestion that He should, by a miraculous display, elevate Himself to become the priest-king of that temple. But the next verse does not favor this theory.

Verses 5-7

SECOND TEMPTATION; Matthew 4:5-7. Luke mentions this last. The order here is probably exact; Matthew 4:5; Matthew 4:8, indicate an order of succession, which is not necessarily implied in Luke’s account. The closing verses in the two narratives confirm this view. Matthew says: ‘Then the devil leaveth him.’ Luke (Luke 4:13): ‘And when the devil had ended all the temptation.’

Verse 6

Matthew 4:6. The devil takes the weapon with which he had been already overcome. He too, ‘can cite Scripture for his purpose.’ But the result proves that Satan was but a surface reader, or rather a wilful perverter of the Scriptures.

He shall give, etc. From Psalms 91:11-12.

On their hands, more literal.

Lest haply, not ‘at any time.’ This promise to all God’s people seems specially applicable to ‘the Son of God.’ The words, ‘in all thy ways,’ are omitted here, but without altering the sense. The original is poetic. Satan uses it literally, tempting to a rash confidence, as in the first instance to distrust. It was also a temptation to avoid the appointed endurance, and by one striking exercise of power prove himself the Messiah.

Verse 7

Matthew 4:7. Again it is written. Not ‘written again.’ In another place; Deuteronomy 6:16. Our Lord corrects the misinterpretation of poetic Scripture by citing a plain statement of the law. The original has ‘ye,’ but Jesus answers: Thou shalt not tempt, turning it directly upon the tempter, for every tempting of God is caused by Satan.

The Lord thy God. By such rash confidence God would be tempted. The direct address involves another thought: that Satan in thus tempting Him was tempting the Lord his God. Religious fanaticism is a tempting of God.

Verse 8

Matthew 4:8. An exceeding high mountain. Its situation can only be conjectured; the Mount of Olives, which was relatively high; others, the mountain in the wilderness (Quarantania), Nebo, Tabor.

Sheweth him. Luke adds, ‘in a moment of time,’ this may imply some supernatural extension of vision. Magical influence on the part of Satan is less probable than an actual pointing out of the regions in sight, and a vivid description of the adjoining realms

All the kingdoms of the world; not to be restricted to Palestine, a narrower meaning which ‘world’ occasionally has, but never in such a phrase. It becomes intelligible on the theory suggested: actual vision with added rhetorical description.

Verses 8-10

THIRD TEMPTATION: Matthew 4:8-10.

Verse 9

Matthew 4:9. Satan in his true character.

All these things, i.e., ‘all that renders them attractive to the love of power, pleasure, wealth, honor’ (J. A. Alexander).

Will I give thee. The world is to a certain extent under the power of Satan, not absolutely nor permanently, indeed, but actually. His greatest weapons are his half-truths, his perversions of the truth. Recognizing in this Person One who would reconquer a kingdom for Himself, he offers to surrender his own part of this kingdom in its temporal extent. But Christ’s sway over the world was not of a kind that could be given by Satan, however wide and deep-seated the power of the latter might be. Yet to Jesus, who as man must conquer the world through suffering and death, this was a real temptation.

If thou wilt fall down and worship me. The next verse shows that religious worship is meant; devil worship in this case. Satan, fallen through ambition, would ask no less for his dominion. His price is always exorbitant. The proposal was bold, but in the contest between them it must come to this. Satan at last offers all he could, but throwing away all disguise, asks from One tempted in all points like as we are, what he asks from us.

Verse 10

Matthew 4:10. Get thee hence. A single word, ‘begone,’ ‘avaunt,’ expressing abhorrence of both person and proposal.

Satan. Addressed by name, having spoken in his true character as ‘adversary.’ For, giving a reason for rejecting the proposal, and also for his going hence, from the presence of One who instead of rendering worship, could claim it.

It is written (Deuteronomy 6:13).

Thou shalt worship, etc. The two clauses taken together forbid every kind of religious homage to any other than Jehovah God. When Jesus of Nazareth permitted religious adoration of himself, he virtually declared that He was Jehovah our God. Tempted yet sinless, hungry yet Divine, He is ready to sympathize with us and able to succor us.

Verse 11

Matthew 4:11. Leaveth him. Luke (Luke 4:13), ‘for a season.’ He was tempted again and again; at last in Gethsemane and on the cross.

Angels. Spiritual beings, probably in visible form on this occasion. Alone in the contest, He had these companions after his victory.

Ministered. Most naturally means, ‘supplied him with food,’ as in the case of Elijah; 1 Kings 19:5. Others think, ‘gave him spiritual companionship,’ to support Him and prove that ‘man doth not live by bread alone.’ The view that the angels brought Him food, accords better with the events just narrated. He who would not turn stones into bread was now fed; He who would not call upon angels to uphold Him in rash confidence, was now sustained by them; He who demanded worship for God alone, received homage from these servants of God.

Verse 12

Matthew 4:12. When he heard, i.e., in Judea.

Delivered up, i.e., into prison by Herod the tetrarch. The common version gives an explanation, not a literal translation. For reason of this imprisonment, see chap. Matthew 14:4; Mark 6:17.

He withdrew into Galilee. A withdrawal from prudence (as chap. Matthew 2:12; Matthew 2:22), hinting that He had been teaching in Judea. ‘Galilee’: here the whole region of that name, since Nazareth was in lower Galilee. In John 4:43-45, it means upper Galilee, or Galilee in the stricter sense. Herod was tetrarch of Galilee, hence the withdrawal was not through fear of him. It was due to the opposition of the Pharisees (John 4:1; John 5:16; John 5:18, if that occurrence preceded).

Verses 12-25

CONTENTS AND CONNECTION. The appearance of Jesus as the light of the world amidst the darkness of the land of Galilee, in accordance with prophecy (Matthew 4:12-16). The record begins at the close of the ministry of John the Baptist, whose message is reannounced by Jesus (Matthew 4:17). He chooses four fishermen as his attendants (Matthew 4:18-22), goes through Galilee healing the sick and followed by great multitudes from all parts of the country (Matthew 4:23-25). Matthew, as well as Mark and Luke, begin their account of our Lord’s ministry at this point. A number of events recorded by John (John 1:19; John 4:54) certainly intervened; including the first Passover at Jerusalem. Some place the second Passover (John 5:1) before this section, which they record as the beginning of the second year of our Lord’s ministry (see Introd. pp. 18 , 19 ). The fourth Gospel concerns itself more with events in Jerusalem, the others with those in Galilee. This may arise from different sources of information or from difference in plan.

Verse 13

Matthew 4:13. And leaving Nazareth, His early home. Because rejected there (Luke 4:16-30). A second rejection took place at a later period (comp. chap. Matthew 13:54-58; Mark 6:1-6). If there were but one (as many think), it occurred at the beginning of the Galilean ministry, since Luke’s account is so particular. Against the identity, see notes on Luke, and on chap. Matthew 13:54-58.

Came and dwelt, or having come he settled.

In Capernaum. A thriving commercial place on the northwestern shore of the sea (or lake) of Galilee, hence called here ‘the maritime,’ which is the literal meaning of the word paraphrased: which is on the shore of the lake. Mentioned, not to distinguish it, but on account of the prophecy which follows. It was also in the borders of Zebulun and Naphtali. The exact site of Capernaum, so often mentioned in the New Testament, is disputed; the words of our Lord (Matthew 11:23) have thus been fulfilled. Some locate it at Khan Minyeh, at the northern end of the Plain of Gennesaret (El-Ghuweir), near the Fountain of the Fig-Tree, and on the present highway to Damascus; others two or three miles further north, at Tell Hum, which is more probable on account of the very remarkable ruins, including a white synagogue (carefully examined and described by Capt. Wilson, 1866 ), and on account of the similarity of the name (Tell Hum means ‘Hill of Nahum,’ and Capernaum ‘Village of Nahum’). Capernaum was an important place, the residence of Andrew, Peter, and the sons of Zebedee, probably of Matthew also, chiefly honored by the title, ‘His own city’ (Matthew 9:1). See Schaff, Bible Lands ( 1878 ), p. 343 .

Verse 14

Matthew 4:14. That it might be fulfilled. The purpose of fulfilling prophecy ever involves the higher purpose of carrying out God’s plan thus revealed.

Isaiah the prophet (Isaiah 9:1-2). An independent and free translation. The Septuagint is quite incorrect here.

Verse 15

Matthew 4:15. The land of Zebulun , etc. These words form the close of a sentence in the original prophecy, and are introduced to specify the region spoken of in this Messianic prediction. Either an apostrophe to these regions or equivalent to: as to the land of Zebulun, etc. The sense is the same.

By the way of the sea. The sea (or lake) of Galilee, not the Mediterranean. The latter view would indicate that the region was profane, being the way of the sea for all the world. But this seems forced.

Beyond Jordan, or ‘the Jordan.’ Either the country on the west side already spoken of, or Perea on the east side. (Both senses are sustained by Old Testament usage.) The former is preferable, since the various terms of the verse seem to be in apposition. Some take this verse as describing the regions surrounding the lake (referring this to Perea), but Naphtali extended beyond the sources of the Jordan, i.e., northward from Jerusalem.

Galilee of the Gentiles. Upper Galilee, already spoken of by other names. It was near Gentile territory and probably had a large Gentile population.

Verse 16

Matthew 4:16. The people; of the region just described.

Sitting in darkness. Dwelling contentedly. Isaiah says: ‘walking,’ but Matthew indicates that the condition was worse. ‘Darkness’ is the usual Scriptural figure for a state of depravity, including more than ignorance.

Saw a great light. The past tense in prophecy indicates certain fulfilment. This region had seen Christ, the light of men, bringing to them ‘truth, knowledge, moral purity, and happiness!’ The article brings this out more fully.

The region and shadow of death. Poetic parallelism, a stronger expression for ‘darkness,’ meaning either the region where death resides and the shadow he produces, or simply the region of the shadow of death. Darkness is spiritual death.

Did light spring up, as a star or the sun arises, the persons being passive. The Galileans, though probably not more barbarous and depraved than the inhabitants of Judea, were despised. Here the light arose; to those in the shadow of death the light came. Among the despised, those furthest from the temple, the work began and met with best success. This prophecy was not understood by the official interpreters. (John 7:52.)

Verse 17

Matthew 4:17. From that time. Either, of this settlement in Capernaum, or the imprisonment of John the Baptist.

Jesus began to preach. The beginning of the ministry in Galilee, to an account of which Matthew confines himself. During most of the time he was probably an eyewitness.

Repent: for the kingdom, etc. Comp. chap. Matthew 3:2. Jesus ‘began’ with the message of His forerunner. The expression ‘at hand,’ indicates that Jesus had not yet publicly declared Himself to be the Messiah. But John had announced Him; He had been accepted as such by Andrew, Philip, and Nathanael (John 1:41; John 1:45; John 1:49),and by many others (John 4:1; John 4:39; John 4:41). As He afterwards sent out His disciples with the same formula (Matthew 10:7), His preaching at this period was not of a different character from His subsequent teachings.

Verse 18

Matthew 4:18. And walking. The omission of the word ‘Jesus’ connects this verse closely with what precedes; the ‘walking’ was while preaching (Matthew 4:17). This close connection is brought out more fully in the account of Luke (Luke 5:1-11). As this verse is the beginning of the Gospel for St. Andrew’s day, the name of Jesus was very early inserted for the sake of definiteness.

The sea or lake of Galilee. The Greek word, like the German See, is applied to both lakes and seas. This sea of Galilee or lake of Gennesaret, called in the Old Testament. Connereth (Deuteronomy 2:17), or Cinneroth (1 Kings 15:20), is a body of water of oval shape, from twelve to fourteen miles long and about half as broad. It is formed by the river Jordan, although smaller streams flow into it ‘The water is salubrious, fresh and clear; it contains abundance of fish; the banks are picturesque, although at present bare; toward the west they are intersected by calcareous mountains, towards the east the lake is bounded by high mountains ( 800 to 1 , 000 feet high), partly of chalk and partly of basalt formation.’ It is subject to sudden and violent storms and is remarkable for its depression, being 653 feet below the level of the Mediterranean. See Bible Dictionaries.

Simon, contracted from Simeon. He was called first.

Who is called Peter, i.e., ‘so called’ at the time when the Gospel was written, not at the time of the event here narrated. The common version does not bring out this distinction; see chap. Matthew 16:18. At a previous interview, however, (John 1:42) our Lord had declared he should be named ‘Cephas’ (the Aramaic form of the same name).

Andrew his brother. This Greek name shows how common that language was in the East. It is not known which was the elder brother; sometimes one and sometimes the other is named first. Their home was Bethsaida (John 1:44). Andrew and another disciple of John the Baptist, probably the Evangelist John, were the first followers of Jesus (John 1:35-40). They may have remained with him. Philip was called to follow him (John 1:43).

Casting a net. They were busy at their usual avocation, for they were fishers. This does not imply special poverty or ignorance.

Verse 19

Matthew 4:19. Come ye after me. This call is to be distinguished from the previous acquaintanceship and discipleship (John 1:0), and also from the later choice and call to the apostleship (Matthew 10:0). The call is thus expanded: ‘ 1 . An invitation to full communion with Him; 2 . A demand of perfect self-renunciation for His sake; 3 . An announcement of a new sphere of activity under Him; 4 . A promise of rich reward from Him. The call of Jesus to follow Him, 1 . A call to faith; 2 . A call to labor; 3 . A call to suffering and cross-bearing; 4 . A call to our blessed home.’ (Lange.)This call to personal attendance, probably in all cases preceded the call to the apostleship. Even this office did not obtain full validity until the day of Pentecost, when the Church was organized, or, strictly speaking, reorganized. The Twelve were gradually prepared for their work. Paul’s case is exceptional.

I will make you. His power, not their ability, made them what they became.

Fishers of men. ‘The main points of resemblance cannot be mistaken, such as the value of the object, the necessity of skill as well as strength, of vigilance as well as labor, with an implication, if not an explicit promise, of abundance and success in their new fishery.’ (J. A. Alexander.) Our Lord uses human agents; even He did not labor alone. Let no one assume to be independent of others in any good work.

Verse 20

Matthew 4:20. Straightway (the same word as in Matthew 4:22). Emphatic; there was no delay. Luke tells of a miraculous draught of fishes, which preceded and prepared the fishermen to obey. His narrative assumes that Jesus was known to them (Luke 5:5), and that they gave up their occupation to follow our Lord constantly.

Verse 21

Matthew 4:21. Going on from thence. (Mark: ‘a little further.’) All four had assisted in the great draught of fishes (see Luke 5:7; Luke 5:10).

James, i.e., Jacob. Probably the older brother.

John, the Apostle and Evangelist. The detailed account he gives of our Lord’s previous ministry and miracles suggests that he was among the ‘disciples,’ he mentions (John 2:2; John 2:11-12; John 4:1; John 4:8; John 4:27; John 4:31).

In the boat, a fishing boat (not a ‘ship’), probably drawn up on the shore.

Mending, or ‘putting their nets in order,’ preparing them for use. The wider sense is perhaps to be preferred.

He called them, probably using the same words.

Verse 22

Matthew 4:22. These two brothers straightway obeyed, leaving their father also. He was probably not poor, as he had ‘hired servants’ (Mark 1:20). The lesson, more plainly taught elsewhere, is: Renounce every human tie, if necessary, to follow Christ. Yet human ties are not severed by following Christ. The brothers remained brethren in the Lord, and these four companions in fishing were joined most closely as ‘fishers of men.’ Comp. Mark 13:3.

Verse 23

Matthew 4:23. And he went about in all Galilee. The sphere of His ministry is thus marked; its character is thus described. ‘Galilee’ here probably includes the whole fertile and well peopled district thus named, not upper Galilee alone. The people of Judea looked down on the Galileans partly because of their contact with the heathen, partly because of their dialect (comp. chap. Matthew 26:73). The inhabitants of a sacred capital city would have unusual contempt for provincials.

Teaching. The people recognized Him as a Rabbi (see below).

In their synagogues. ‘During the Babylonish exile, when the Jews were shut out from the Holy Land, and from the appointed sanctuary, the want of places for religious meetings, in which the worship of God, without sacrifices, could celebrated, must have been painfully felt. The synagogues may have originated at that ominous period. When the Jews returned from Babylon, synagogues were planted throughout the country for the purpose of affording opportunities for publicly reading the law, independently of the regular sacrificial services of the temple (Nehemiah 8:1, etc.). At the time of Jesus there was at least one synagogue in every moderately sized town of Palestine (such as Nazareth, Capernaum, etc.), and in the cities of Syria, Asia Minor, and Greece, in which Jews resided (Acts 9:2, sqq.). Larger towns possessed several synagogues; and it is said that there were no fewer than 460 , or even 480 , of them in Jerusalem itself.’ Winer. The service was simple, and our Lord availed himself of the opportunity of making remarks usually given (comp. Luke 4:16-27; Acts 13:15). Neither Christ nor His Apostles attempted to subvert the established order of worship. They attended the synagogue service, with which, however, Christian worship has more in common than with that of the temple. The influence that revolutionized the world was not revolutionary. When the tree is made good, it grows according to its God-given form, hacking from without only mars it. A hint for politicians and would-be reformers.

Preaching (heralding), teaching and proclaiming, the gospel of the kingdom. The glad tidings about ‘the kingdom of heaven,’ or which introduced this kingdom. On the word ‘gospel,’ see Introd. p. 14 . The good-tidings of the kingdom consist of facts about the King (comp. Romans 1:1-4). As our Lord was a wise Teacher, He did not publicly proclaim Himself the Messiah. His preaching was preparatory; the full gospel could not be preached until after the occurrence of the facts it presents (comp. note on the Sermon on the Mount). As a Rabbi, the Galileans would hear Him; they looked for a less lowly King.

To confirm this preaching, of a new and startling character, our Lord wrought miracles: Healing every disease and every sickness, etc. His ‘doing good’ in this lower form had a higher purpose, to prove a Saviour in a higher sense. On the miracles of our Lord, see chap. 8 . The two words, ‘disease’ and ‘sickness’ include all forms of bodily affliction. The first word occurs again in Matthew 4:24, hence we render it ‘disease’ here.

Verse 24

Matthew 4:24. The report. ‘Fame’ has changed its meaning.

Syria, the name of the largest Roman province north and east of Palestine, sometimes including it. Probably used here in its widest extent.

They brought to him all that were sick. Those who had heard of Him and believed in his power to heal were numerous enough to justify this expression.

Holden, i.e., under the continued power of the maladies.

Torments, painful bodily afflictions, such as the three specified in the next clause (‘and’ is to be omitted).

Possessed with demons, lit, ‘demonized.’ All the Gospel statements in regard to this affliction imply that in those days evil spirits actually invaded the bodies of men, producing fearful effects. Every such possession was a sign of Satan’s hostility, as every dispossession was a triumph over him. We cannot explain how such possession took place. This passage distinguishes demoniacal possession from every kind of sickness.

Lunatics, or ‘epileptics.’ The latter sense is probable, since the word has this meaning in chap. Matthew 17:15 (the only other place where the term occurs). The Greet word had originally the same reference to the influence of the moon which is found in ‘lunatic.’

And paralytics. The original word corresponds exactly. Those afflicted with morbid relaxation of the nerves, as in paralysis and apoplexy.

He healed them. Whatever the form, He did not fail to cure.

Verse 25

Matthew 4:25. Great multitudes, lit, ‘many crowds.’ These came from all parts of Palestine; from Galilee, where he preached, Decapolis (meaning ‘ten cities’), a district principally east of the Jordan; according to Ritter, settled by the veterans of Alexander the Great, Jerusalem, the capital, Judea, the southern part of Palestine, and from beyond the Jordan, here referring to the northern part of Perea, on the east of the Jordan, south of Decapolis. The compact style of the original requires the omission of ‘from’ (italicized in common version), except in the case of the locality last named, ‘from Galilee and Decapolis and Jerusalem and Judea and from beyond the Jordan.’

Bibliographical Information
Schaff, Philip. "Commentary on Matthew 4". "Schaff's Popular Commentary on the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/scn/matthew-4.html. 1879-90.
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