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Bible Commentaries

John Broadus' Commentary on Matthew
Matthew 4

 

 

Other Authors
Verses 1-11

Matthew 4:1-11.
The Temptation

The Temptation concludes Matthew's account of events connected with our Lord's entrance upon his public work (see on "Matthew 3:1; Mat_3:13"). That work was now about to begin, and he was doubtless meditating upon it. Some recent critics go to great lengths in speculating upon the "plan" of Jesus, at this and subsequent periods. There is little or no indication of any plan, and such unsupported speculations seem unprofitable and unwise. But his meditations in beginning his work would furnish the natural occasion for such special temptations as are here depicted. These are also recorded by Luke, (Luke 4:13) and briefly mentioned by Mark. (Matthew 1:12 ff.)

Matthew 4:1. Then (see on "Matthew 3:13", viz., when he had been baptized.) Luke implies, and Mark states, that it was 'immediately' after the baptism. Led up, i. e., from the valley of the Jordan (see on "Matthew 3:6") into the higher land.(1) Into the wilderness (see on "Matthew 3:1"). Some recent writers (Stanley, Plumptre) make it east of the Jordan, but the general use of the term in the N. T. favours the common view that it was on the west. Luke's 'returned' (Matthew 4:1) also favours this view, but does not settle the question, for Jesus may have crossed below the Lake of Galilee, and come through Perea to be baptized, as the Galileans often took this route to Jerusalem. The notion that it was the wilderness of Sinai is founded only on the fact that there occurred the forty days' fast of Moses and of Elijah.—It was certainly a very retired and wild part of the 'wilderness,' for Mark says, with one of his vivid descriptive touches, 'and he was with the wild beasts.' A tradition which appears first in the time of the Crusades places it in a mountain just west of Jericho, hence called Quarantania, (a place of forty days; compare quarantine, a forty days' detention). This mountain is six or eight miles from the traditional place of the baptism, and rises some fifteen hundred feet almost perpendicularly from the plain of the Jordan, which is here at its widest part. In the rocky face of the mountain are the openings of numerous artificial caves, made by monks of the Crusading period, perhaps some of them by old Jewish Eremites. But to our modern feeling it seems unlikely that our Lord withdrew to a cave, and probable that he went further away from the populous plain of Jericho. Some think (Schaff) that Quarantania may have been the place of the third temptation, if not of those preceding, which is quite possible. After all, it may he that a special providence caused the precise locality of this and many other events in our Lord's history to be left unknown, for the purpose of restraining superstition. The Spirit, viz., the Spirit of God, well known and just mentioned. (Matthew 3:16) Luke says he was 'full of the Holy Spirit.' From the time of his baptism (see on "Matthew 8:16") we find frequent statements that the God-man, the Mediator, was specially and powerfully under the influence of the Holy Spirit, (John 3:34; Luke 4:14; Matthew 12:28; Acts 1:2) as had been predicted. (Isaiah 42:1; Matthew 12:18; Isaiah 61:1; Luke 4:18) The term led, employed also by Luke, appears to denote only an internal impulse wrought by the Spirit. Mark (Mark 1:12) expresses the same idea by a strong figure, literally, 'the Spirit casts him forth into the wilderness.' "This is the language of the prophet-paroxysm, seized with an irresistible impulse; so the 'holy men of old' were impelled by the Spirit." (Ezekiel 40:2)(Beeeher.)

To be tempted. The Greek word signifies to try, or make trial of, to test. The motive of such testing or trial may he good or bad. (1) The object may be to ascertain character, to develop and make manifest its excellencies, or to expose its faults, that they may be mended. So in John 6:6, 'prove'; 1 Corinthians 13:5, 'examine'; Revelation 2:2, 'tried'; Genesis 22:1 (God 'did tempt' Abraham; Rev. Ver., 'prove'); Exodus 20:20, 'prove,' etc. (2) The object may be unfriendly, bad. (a) Men 'tempt' God, test him in some improper way, because they lack confidence in the fulfilment of his promises or threats. So below in Matthew 3:7; (Deuteronomy 6:16) Exodus 17:2, Exodus 17:7; (Psalms 95:9) Isaiah 7:12, Acts 5:9, Acts 15:10. (b) Men, or Satan and his subordinates, 'tempt' men, test them, with a view to draw out evil tendencies and entice into sin. So here, and in 1 Corinthians 7:5, 1 Thessalonians 3:5, etc. (This sense does not occur in the O. T.)(1) In all cases there is a: testing, trying, and the difference lies in the nature and design of it. Our English word, 'tempt,' was formerly used in all these senses, but is now restricted to the bad sense; and some confusion arises, for example, in the translation of James 1:2-15, where there is a transition from the good to the bad-from 'trials' to 'temptations.' Of the devil. The Greek word diabolos (borrowed in Latin as diabalus, from which come Italian diavolo, French diable, English devil, German teufel, etc.), is the term regularly employed in the Sept. to translate the Hebrew name Satan. (Job 1:6 ff.; Job 2:1, 1 Chronicles 21:1, Zechariah 3:1-2)(2) The latter signifies 'adversary,' 'opposer,' while diabolos strictly signifies 'slanderer,' 'false accuser,' but in the N. T is used as practically equivalent to Satan. So Mark 1:13 has 'tempted by Satan,' and see below, Matthew 4:10. (Compare Matthew 16:23 and John 6:70; also Revelation 12:9) The term 'devil' in the N. T. is strictly a proper name, as much so as Satan; his subordinates should be called 'demons,' as in the Greek (see on "Matthew 8:28"). To the real existence and personality of the devil the Scriptures are fully committed. He is represented as the chief of the fallen angel (Matthew 25:41; compare Matthew 9:34), and through these he it able, though not omnipresent, to be carrying on the temptation of many persons at the same time. He is, of course, limited in knowledge, though immeasurably superior to man.

How could Jesus be tempted? Was it possible for him to sin? If this was in no sense possible, then he' was not really tempted, certainly not 'like as we are.' (Hebrews 4:15) But how can it have been possible for him to sin? If we think of his human nature in itself, apart from the co-linked divinity, and apart from the Holy Spirit that filled and led him, then we must say that, like Adam in his state of purity, like the angels and every other moral creature, his humanity was certainly in itself capable of sinning, and thus the temptation was real, and was felt as such, and as such overcome while yet in virtue of the union with the divine nature, and of the power of the Holy Spirit that filled him, it was morally impossible that he should sin.—A substantially similar view is well stated by Edersheim.—Jesus was tempted on other occasions also, as is implied in Luke 4:13, and affirmed in Luke 22:28, and Hebrews 4:15. It has been remarked (Ullmann) that there are in the nature of things two great classes of temptations, the one to commit positive evil, and the other to shrink from what is right. In the former way Jesus was tempted here, and when the people wanted him to be king (John 6:15); in the latter way he was tempted in Gethsemane, and when Peter tried to dissuade him. (Matthew 16:22, Matthew 16:23.) Why should Jesus be tempted? We can see some of the reasons. (1) It gave proof of his true humanity, proof that he possessed a real human soul. (2) It was part of his example to us. (3) It formed part of his personal discipline; (Hebrews 5:7-9) and (4) of his preparation to be a sympathizing intercessor. (Hebrews 2:18, Hebrews 4:15) (5) It formed a part of that great conflict in which the "seed of the woman "was to "bruise the serpent's head." (Genesis 3:15) In this first great struggle of the conflict the destined conqueror came off completely victorious.

During the forty days (Luke 4:2), and at other times, our Lord was doubtless tempted by suggestion to his mind, as we are; but in the three signal and final temptations here described, it seems to be distinctly declared that Satan appeared in bodily form and with actually spoken words, and this fitted the scene for distinct and impressive description. To make it a mere vision, is without the slightest warrant. And while it is possible to regard the history as merely a vivid description of a series of internal temptations, it does no small violence to the language and the entire colour of the narrative. Note especially the correspondence of the two expressions, 'the devil leaves him.... angels came and ministered to him,' where few who believe the Bible at all will question that the angels appeared in bodily form, as on so many other occasions. The desire of many commentators to reduce the scene to internal suggestion, apparently arises from two causes. (1) Some wish to lessen the difficulties of the narrative. But those who are repelled by the idea of Satan's personal appearance will be equally reluctant to admit his personality; so that there is nothing gained, and the difficulties of the subject are in fact inherent and have to be accepted. (2) Others wish to assimilate the Saviour's temptations to our own. (Hebrews 4:15) But this desire is amply met by considering his temptations during the forty days and throughout his career. (See above.) Every point connected with this series of temptations has occasioned a vast amount of speculation, often of the wildest character. Yet the subject from its very nature calls for guarded interpretation, great moderation in conjecture, and willingness to remain ignorant where we have no means of knowing; and it requires to be discussed in a spirit of profound reverence and humility. Familiar as we have grown with the simple narrative, it presents one of the most wonderful, mysterious, awful scenes of the world's history. O dark and dreadful enemy, ever plotting our ruin and exulting in our woe, here thou wast completely conquered on earth, conquered by a man, and in the strength of that Spirit whose help is offered to us all.

Matthew 4:2. It is best to understand the fasting as entire abstinence from food. The word does not necessarily mean this, nor does even the strong expression of Luke, 'he did not eat anything in those days,' for Luke uses equally strong language of Paul's companions in Acts 27:33, where he can only mean that they had taken very irregular and inadequate food, as it were nothing at all. (Compare below Matthew 11:18.) Still, the literal meaning is preferable here, because nothing to forbid it, because also in the corresponding cases of Moses and Elijah the fasting is usually understood to have been entire, and because we thus best see the force of the statement, 'afterwards he was hungry,' or, as Luke, 'and when they (the forty days) were completed he was hungry,' leading us to suppose that during the forty days be was not hungry, but supernaturally sustained. The time was the same as in the case of Moses, (Exodus 34:28) and Elijah, (1 Kings 19:8) and was perhaps typically related also to the forty years spent by Israel in the wilderness. (See on "Matthew 2:15"). We do not know what originally caused the adoption of forty as a sacred or solemn number. (Genesis 7:12, Deuteronomy 9:25, Deuteronomy 10:10, Ezekiel 4:6, Acts 7:23, and often.)"Jesus had forty days before his public appearance; forty days, as if for preparation, before his ascension." (Acts 1:3) (Bengel). And forty nights, added (by Matt. alone) perhaps because the Jews were accustomed to speak of the night and day as together constituting one period (see on "Matthew 12:40"), or because they frequently fasted during the day and then ate at night, (2 Samuel 1:12) while here it was day and night, as in, Esther 4:16. The design of the Spirit that he be tempted was probably not the sole design of this retirement our Lord, thus secluded and supernaturally sustained, doubtless spent his time in prayerful communion with his Father, as often afterwards, (Luke 6:12, John 6:15) and probably also (see on "Matthew 4:1") in meditation upon the great work he was about to commence. So Moses and Elijah, as lawgiver and reformer. Our Lord's fasting was not an act of self-mortification, if he was preternaturally sustained and is not an example to us. To make it the authority for a regular annual "fast " of forty days by all Christians ("Lent ") is wholly unwarranted, and very strange. (Compare Alexander.)

Matthew 4:3. Came to him—we cannot tell in what form. If thou be—art—the Son of God. The form of expression in Greek is most naturally understood as assuming that the supposition is fact, as shortly before declared. (Matthew 3:17) Wyclif 'art'; Tyndale to K. James 'be.' The Greek is not subjunctive but indicative. The tempter puts the matter in this form in order to invite Jesus to establish the fact by a miracle, and in order to intimate that he certainly i has the right thus to satisfy his hunger. 'Son' is by its position in the Greek emphatic. God's ordinary creatures may suffer, they cannot help it; but if thou art his Son, it is unworthy of thee thus to suffer, and unnecessary—'speak, that these stones may become loaves.' It does not follow, on this view, that I Satan fully understood what was involved in I Jesus' being God's Son; and this ignorance will account for an attempt otherwise not only I audacious but absurd. Those who prefer the view that he really doubted whether Jesus was God's Son, are at liberty so to interpret the phrase, 'if thou art' etc., though it is a less natural and less common use. Command, etc.,—or, speak that... may become. (Compare the same construction in Matthew 20:21.(1) Luke (Luke 4:3) has 'speak to this stone, that it may become a loaf,' as if pointing to a particular one. (Compare Matthew 3:9; Matthew 7:9). 'Become' is the literal and exact translation. These stones, lying around, as in Matthew 3:9. The English word 'bread' being only used collectively, we have to introduce 'loaf,' 'loaves' to give the exact idea. (Compare Rev. Ver. margin, and see on "Matthew 26:26").

This first temptation thus appears to be twofold (and so of the others); he is tempted to satisfy hunger, and in such a way as will prove him to be the Son of God. Our bodily appetites form the occasion of many of our severest temptations. Yet these appetites are not sinful in themselves; the sin consists in seeking excessive or essentially improper gratification of them, or in seeking lawful gratification by improper means. Jesus was tempted to work a miracle in order to relieve his hunger. We could say before hand whether this would be right, but we see throughout his history that he never performed miracles merely for his own benefit; they were all wrought to do good to other and to attest his divine mission.—And this attestation was never given to those who asked it from improper motives. (Matthew 12:38 ff; Matthew 16:1 ff.) He paid no heed to the taunt (Matthew 27:40): 'If thou be—or art—the Son of God, come down from the cross' (the first clause being precisely the same as here). And so he takes no notice, in replying to the tempter, of the proposition that he should by the miracle prove himself the Son of God. Nor does he condescend to refer to the attesting voice from heaven. (Matthew 3:17) We have no reason to believe that our Lord had ever wrought a miracle up to this time, the 'beginning of his miracles' (John 2:11) taking place shortly after. He would not begin till his 'hour' had 'come.' (John 2:4) The miracles of his childhood, so numerous in some apocryphal gospels, are without historical foundation, and most of them quite unworthy of him, as child or man.

Matthew 4:4. It is written, perfect tense, it stands written (so in Matthew 2:5, and below in Matthew 4:6-7, Matthew 4:10, and often). Our Lord meets every temptation by a quotation from Scripture. The Father's word was to him the sword with which he conquered the great spiritual enemy. (Ephesians 6:17.) This quotation is from, Deuteronomy 8:3, and the two below are from the same book, which is rich in spiritual and devotional matter. Notice, too, that all the passages he thus applies to himself are from precepts given to Israel in the wilderness, at the opening of the national career—there being a typical relation between Israel and the Messiah (see on "Matthew 2:15"). Possibly (Godet) he had, during his retirement, been specially meditating on the account of Israel's forty years in the wilderness. This quotation agrees with the Septuagint, and differs from the Hebrew only in inserting 'word,' where the Hebrew has simply 'all that goes forth from the mouth of the Lord.' And this is really the meaning of the Greek, 'every word that goes(1) forth,' etc., i. e., whatever he says that man shall live on. There is no propriety in understanding here a reference to the spiritual life as sustained by God's word, viz., by the Scriptures; the Hebrew phrase and the connection in Deuteronomy quite forbid such an idea. God fed Israel with manna, a thing unknown to them and their fathers, "that he might make thee know that man shall not live on bread only, but on all that goes forth from the mouth of the Lord shall man live"—that the support of life is not absolutely dependent on ordinary food, but it may be sustained on whatever God shall choose to say, to appoint. And so Jesus will not work the miracle to obtain ordinary food, because God can, if he should think proper, command food to be supplied him in an extraordinary way. And this appears to have been done, through angels (see on "Matthew 4:11"). To insist on making the passage, in spite of the connection in Deuteronomy, and here, apply also to spiritual food, as so many do, is unreasonable, and dishonouring to the Bible, which is not a book of riddles, but given for practical instruction, and must be interpreted on principles of common sense, or it cannot be interpreted at all—Man shall not. Thus he identifies himself with humanity, applying as a matter of course to himself what is true of mankind. And he conquers temptation not as God, but as man, by the power of the Spirit and of the lessons that are 'written.' Shall not live, viz., such is the divine plan or appointment. By—or, upon—bread, as that on which life rests for support. So, 'upon every word,' etc., or according to another reading 'in every word,' i. e., in the use of, which amounts to the same thing. Out of is here literally 'through.'

Matthew 4:5. Then, compare on Matthew 4:1. Luke (Luke 4:5) simply connects by 'and,' and gives the two remaining temptations in the reverse order, seeming (Bengel, others) to follow the natural order of topography—first the desert, then a high mountain in the desert, then Jerusalem. Matthew's is the natural topical order, the second temptation being just the opposite of the first, and the third forming the climax. It seems natural also that the severe rebuke of Matthew 4:10, should put an end to Satan's attempts, and accordingly Luke, in the correct text, does not give it. (See also below, on Matthew 4:8.) Taketh him—literally, takes him with him, or 'along with him,' does not prove that he was carried involuntarily or supernaturally (see the same word in Matthew 17:1; Mark 4:36, etc.), nor does Luke's term 'led' prove the contrary. We have no means of determining the manner of going, and are left to suppose that Jesus went as men usually go, and so that the devil did likewise. The word up, Tyn. to King James, is not here in the Greek. The holy city, i. e., Jerusalem, regarded as holy because the seat of the temple and its worship. Compare Isaiah 48:2, Daniel 9:24, Nehemiah 11:1, Matthew 27:53. Some Jewish coins were inscribed (Gill, others), 'Jerusalem the holy'; old Jewish prayers also have 'the holy city' (Wünsche), and the Arabs now call Jerusalem El-Kuds, 'the holy.' (As to Jerusalem, see on "Matthew 21:10".) and setteth. Rev. Ver., And he set. The correct text has the past tense, but the meaning is substantially the same. A pinnacle of the temple.(1) Our Lord, who did not belong to the priesthood, is nowhere said to have entered the naos, but only went into the hieron, i. e., into the courts, as other Jews did. On the inner side of the wall enclosing the great outer court ran a long portico or colonnade, the roof of which also covered the top of the wall, and sometimes was built up above the wall to a great height. The outer battlement of such a roof, rising above the outer wall, is probably what is here called 'pinnacle,'(2)and 'the pinnacle' suggests some well-known or remarkable pinnacle. It is doubtful whether this was 'the portico that is called Solomon's' (John 10:23; Acts 3:11), on the east side of the temple enclosure, and described by Josephus ("Ant., "20, 9, 7) as of great height; more probably it was what he calls "the royal portico" (of Herod), on the south side, and which he represents ("Ant., "15, 11, 5) as "one of the most remarkable works under the sun." Below the wall enclosing the temple court, there was an immense substruction extending up from the bottom of the ravine, and so deep that one could not see to the foot of it (probably the southeast corner); "on this arose the vast height of the portico, so that if one should look down from the summit of its roof, putting together the depths, he would grow dizzy, the sight not reaching into the unmeasured abyss." This high-wrought description at least presents us with a scene very suitable to the temptation in question.

Matthew 4:6. This temptation, like the first, appears to have been twofold, appealing to a natural feeling and also to Messianic aspiration. Many persons when looking down from a dizzy height feel a strong disposition to throw themselves down; with some, the feeling is intense and almost irresistible; and it is not unreasonable, and not derogatory to our Saviour, to suppose that here also Satan tried to take advantage of a natural feeling, as he had before done with hunger. Let him throw himself down, and see if God would not protect him; and thus descending in so public a place and supernaturally protected, he would be observed, and at once hailed by the populace as 'he that should come.' This last seems to have been part of the idea presented; for otherwise why take him to the temple (Lightfoot, Lutteroth)? A precipice in the wilderness would have sufficed for the mere temptation to throw himself down; the carefully chosen place indicates that the idea was also to exhibit himself in public. Keim : "At the same time a test of the protection God would extend to his ambassador, and a miracle of display by which the faith of Israel might be won for God's messenger." As Jesus had in the former case fortified himself by quoting Scripture, so the tempter supports his suggestion by quoting a promise of protection amid dangers. This passage, from Psalms 91:11 f., applies to any one who trusts in God, and by eminence to Jesus. The quotation follows Sept. and Hebrews, with the omission of a clause not important to the application ('to keep thee in all thy ways'), such an omission (Toy) as the New Testament writers often make. It is therefore not proper to say, as is often said, that Satan misquoted; it was a misinterpretation and misapplication. The expression, in their hands they shall bear thee up, as a mother or a nurse supports a child (Numbers 11:12, Deuteronomy 1:31, Isaiah 49:22, Acts 13:18, margin; 1 Thessalonians 2:7), is of course figurative, referring to providential protection. Satan treats it as if we were authorized to expect its literal and supernatural fulfilment; and while there are of course limitations to such a promise (see below), he takes no account of these. Observe that the plural 'angels' renders it improper to quote this passage in support of the Jewish fancy of a guardian angel attending each individual. The passage corresponds to Hebrews 1:14, where the angels are said to minister to God for the benefit of his people. 'Lest haply' is more probably the meaning here, than 'lest at any time.'

Matthew 4:7. It is written again. What Satan had quoted is indeed found, but in another place is written that which forbids what he suggests and is seeking to justify. There is here an illustration of two important rules of interpretation: that a figurative expression must not be so understood as to bring it in conflict with unfigurative passages; and that an unlimited promise or statement must not be applied to cases forbidden by other teachings of Scripture.—This quotation is from Deuteronomy 6:16. It follows Sept., and differs from Hebrews only in using singular instead of plural ("Ye shall not," etc.), thus rendering more pointed the application to an individual—The Greek word here rendered 'tempt' is a compound of that ordinarily used (see on "Matthew 4:1"), and has a somewhat more emphatic meaning; but we can hardly express the difference in a translation. To 'tempt God' is to test, or put him to the trial, in order to see whether he can and dill fulfil his promises. The App of the Amer. Revisers would here render 'make trial of.' This Ahaz (Isaiah 7:12) with affected humility declined to do. Deuteronomy 6:16, refers to the ease in which the Israelites tempted Jehovah at Massah ('temptation'), by requiring a supply of water to prove that he would fulfil his promise to take care of them. (Exodus 17:2, Exodus 17:7. Compare Psalms 78, 18, Psalms 96:8-9, 1 Corinthians 10:9; Hebrews 3:9) Ananias and Sapphira (Acts 5:9) tempted the Spirit of the Lord, by virtually putting him to the test whether he would know and reveal their villainy. Peter declared (Acts 15:10) that it would he tempting God to act as if they wanted further proof of his will that the Gentiles should not be required to bear the yoke of the ceremonial law. And so Jesus intimates that it would be tempting God to plunge voluntarily into danger, as if to make trial whether he would fulfil his promise of protection. These cases show the nature of the sin in question. Its source is in all cases unbelief. This was understood by the author of Wisdom, Deuteronomy 1:2 : "He is found by those who do not tempt him, and he manifests himself to those who do not distrust him."—It is unwarrantable to say (Alexander, others) that the passage as quoted by our Saviour has a double application, so as at the same time to rebuke Satan for tempting him. Such "double applications" of Scripture are almost always fanciful, save in the case of prophecies and types.—Throughout his ministry our Lord acted on the principle here involved. He never went voluntarily into danger, and always prudently turned away from the wrath of his enemies, save when some duty called.

Matthew 4:8. In the third temptation Satan no longer says 'If thou art God's Son,' no longer attempts to incite Jesus to prove his Sonship or Messiahship by miracle; and as if conceding that he is Messiah and will found a kingdom, he proposes to aid him in making it a splendid earthly kingdom, in subordination to himself. That Messiah would have a magnificent earthly kingdom was the general expectation of such Jews as were now expecting Messiah at all; and the disciples clung tenaciously to this notion throughout our Lord's ministry. The tempter hopes to work upon such a conception in Jesus. Neander: "Herein was the temptation, that the Messiah should not develop his kingdom gradually, and in its pure spirituality from within, but should establish it at once, as an outward dominion; and that although this could not be accomplished without the use of an evil agency, the end would sanctify the means." Many a man, before and since, has with Satan's secret help surveyed the glittering spectacle of boundless dominion, and so burned with the fierce longings of ambition that he was ready for anything that would bring success. Alas! how nearly was this idea of a world-wide kingdom, held in allegiance to Satan, fulfilled by some in the Middle Ages who boasted the title of Vicar of Christ.

Here also, as in the former cases, the temptation of Jesus seems to have been twofold, appealing to a natural feeling—the love of power, the desire to rule over others—and at the same time suggesting a way in which his Messianic mission might be expeditiously carried through.

Taketh him—or, takes him along with him, as in Matthew 4:5. Luke (Luke 4:5) says, 'led him up,' Rev. Ver. What the exceeding high mountain was, it is quite impossible to judge. As the highest mountain on earth would no more have sufficed for a literal view of all the kingdoms of the world than the highest near to Jerusalem, there is nothing gained by going far away in our conjecture. Tradition names a mountain near Jericho (see on "Matthew 4:1"), but with no great probability. Sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world. Some understand a literal view of all the districts of Palestine. But there is no proof that the term rendered 'world' (Kosmos) was ever used to denote merely Palestine, though this has been often asserted; and the districts of Palestine would at that time hardly have been called kingdoms; besides that the significance of the temptation is much clearer and more striking on the other view. It is best to understand a sort of vision. It may certainly be conceived that Satan had the power, while Jesus looked round from the mountain top, to cause such a view to pass before his eyes; and Luke's phrase "in a moment of time" seems clearly to indicate that it was supernatural. Alford : "If it be objected that in that case there was no need for the ascent of the mountain, I answer, that such natural accessories are made use of frequently in supernatural revelations; see especially Revelation 21:10." Bengel: "Shows—to the eyes what the horizon embraced; the rest he spoke of and perhaps pointed towards."Keil : "In the case of both Jesus and Satan experiences arc possible which are impossible for mere man, which we cannot adequately represent to our minds, and have no right to deny." We may very well take 'all the kingdoms' as a hyperbole, (compare Ezra 1:2) especially as many parts of the earth would present little that was glorious, or attractive to worldly ambition. And the glory of them, is added because their glory was especially paraded before his view. But Jesus would look beneath the glittering surface, and see hollowness, degradation, suffering, ruin. Doubtless his ardent desire to save men was not weakened by this panorama, but greatly strengthened. Throughout his subsequent ministry the idea of a glorious and all-embracing earthly kingdom was often pressed upon him by the multitude, and constantly cherished by his chosen followers, but rejected by him. How much more truly glorious the 'kingdom not of this world' (John 18:36) which he did found; and how blessed a thing it will be when 'the kingdom of the world is become the kingdom of our Lord, and of his Christ.' (Revelation 11:15 Rev. Ver.)

Matthew 4:9. All these things, the Greek placing the emphasis not so much on 'all,' as on 'these things.' The claim which Satan here implies, and in Luke 4:6, expressly asserts, viz., that he possesses the control of the kingdoms of the world and their glory, is not wholly unfounded, for the Scriptures speak of him as the prince or god of this world. (John 12:31, John 14:30, John 16:11, 2 Corinthians 4:4) As to the precise nature and limitations of this power we are not informed; but it has been committed to him, (Luke 4:6) and the Revelation of John teaches that it shall one day be withdrawn. Wilt fall down,(1) as in Matthew 2:11, the usual posture in the East, whether for adoration or for homage. Worship. See on "Matthew 2:2". There has been difference of opinion as to whether it here signifies idolatrous worship, (compare 1 Corinthians 10:20, Revelation 9:20) or only homage as to a civil superior; but the latter, paid to Satan, would necessarily lead to the former. The tempter proposes that Jesus shall recognize the worldly power which Satan is allowed to exercise, and shall conform his messianic reign to existing conditions by acknowledging Satan's sovereignty. Jesus was in fact to reign over this world, yet not as successor or subordinate to Satan, but by utterly overthrowing his dominion. (Compare Matthew 12:25, Matthew 12:28).

10. Get thee hence,(1) 'begone,' or, 'away with thee,' here said in abhorrence or disgust, though sometimes in kindness (as Matthew 8:13). Satan, see on "Matthew 4:1". It is written, see on "Matthew 4:4". The quotation here is from Deuteronomy 6:13, and follows Sept. It differs from Hebrew in introducing 'only' or 'alone,' which merely expresses what is indicated in the Hebrew by the emphasis; and also in substituting for the general term 'fear' the more specific term 'worship,' which makes more manifest the affiliation of the passage to the matter in hand. (See on "Matthew 2:6".)

Matthew 4:11. Leaveth him. An example of what was afterwards taught by James (James 4:7), 'Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.' Luke (Luke 4:13) says, 'for a season.' Doubtless his temptations were frequently renewed throughout the Saviour's ministry (compare on Matthew 4:1), and especially when it was about to close. (John 14:30) Bengel: "This temptation is a specimen of Christ's whole state of humiliation, and an epitome of all the temptations, not only moral but spiritual, which the devil contrived from the beginning." Angels came; came near to him (same term as in Matthew 4:3). Ministered, or, were ministering—unto him. This word signifies to attend as a servant, wait on, etc., often with particular reference to supplying food (comp, Matthew 8:15, Matthew 25:44, Matthew 27:55; Luke 8:3, Luke 10:40 'serve'; Luke 12:37; Acts 6:2 'serve'). And so apparently here. They waited on him as human friends might have waited on one whom they found hungry, weary, lonely. To Elijah (1 Kings 19:6-7) an angel brought food before the forty days' fast; to Jesus at its close. He had refused to relieve his hunger by turning the stones into loaves of bread, referring to the case of Israel, to whom God supplied food in an extraordinary way; and now God I makes an extraordinary provision for him. He had refused to try an experiment upon a promise of angelic help (Matthew 4:6), and now angelic help comes unsought. The term employed, 'were ministering to him,' not simply narrates the fact, but vividly describes it as going on. And so, with the baffled tempter withdrawn, and angels engaged in ministering to him, this wonderful and affecting scene comes to a close.

Our Lord is now fully prepared for his work as Messiah. At his baptism the Father gave him an extraordinary recognition and greeting. During the forty days he has doubtless reflected upon the need and the character of that saving work which he has come into the world to do. And now the tempter's proposals have familiarized his mind with the thought of three principal wrong courses which will often during his ministry be proposed to him, and which he will always instantly reject as he has done here—he will never use his supernatural powers to relieve his own natural wants, nor to make a display before man, and he will utterly avoid the favourite Jewish notion of a brilliant worldly kingdom, obtained by worldly means and used for worldly purposes.(1)

Homiletical And Practical

Matthew 4:1. The occurrence of this special season of temptation immediately after our Lord's baptism and when he was about to enter on his ministry, while not wholly analogous to the case of his disciples, yet corresponds with a not infrequent experience.— Sirach 2:1 : "My son, if thou art coming near to serve the Lord, prepare thy soul for temptation."—Euthym.: "That thou also after baptism mayst no longer lead thyself, but rather be led by the Spirit, and that if after baptism thou fallest into temptations thou mayest not be confounded."—Gill: "And so it often is, that after sweet communion with God in his ordinances, after large discoveries of his love and interest in him, follow sore temptations, trials, and exercises." —God often brings his people into temptation (Matthew 6:13), and so he brought the Captain of their salvation.—Milton (Hebrews 2:10)(Par. Reg.):

But first I mean

To exercise him in the wilderness;

There he shall first lay down the rudiments

Of his great warfare, ere I send him forth

To conquer sin and death, the two grand foes,

By humiliation and strong sufferance.

Some men have fancied that they would escape temptation by fleeing to solitude—and others by seeking society; behold, Jesus is tempted both in the wilderness and in the Holy City. There is here (1) a discipline to the tempted Redeemer; (2) an example to his tempted followers, and (3) a lesson of failure to the tempter. Three distinct practical evils are prevalent as to the devil, each of which must help him. (a) Some deny his existence, i. e., either his personality or his agency—which gives him an admirable opportunity to carry on his work unsuspected. (b) A few persons associate him with the sublime conceptions of Paradise Lost, and thus feel a diminished abhorrence. (c) The great mass associate him with all that is ridiculous. The instinctive desire to shake off horrible thoughts has led to this, as men joke in a dissecting-room, and it has grown customary, and gained strength from prevailing scepticism. The practice of applying ludicrous designations to the devil, and making him the point of amusing stories and jests, as well as the grotesque nursery descriptions and stories, can never fail to be very hurtful, and should be avoided and discouraged.

Sirach 2:2. Greg. Naz., (in Wordsw.): "Christ hungered as man, and fed the hungry as God. He was hungry as man, and yet he is the Bread of life. He was athirst as man, and yet he says, Let him that is athirst come to me and drink. He was weary, and is our Rest.... He pays tribute, and is a King; he is called a devil, and casts out devils; prays, and hears prayer; weeps, and dries our tears; is sold for thirty pieces of silver, and redeems the world; is led as a sheep to the slaughter, and is the Good Shepherd." —Edersheim: "Moses failed after his forty days' fast, when in indignation he cast the tables of the law from him; Elijah failed before his forty days' fast; Jesus was assailed for forty days, and endured the trial."

Sirach 2:3. The demand for special proofs of the divine mission of Christ is often made in a wrong spirit, by persons whom those very proofs would not convince; as Satan afterwards witnessed numerous miracles wrought by Jesus, but without effect.—Geikie: "No temptation is more difficult to resist than the prompting to do what seems needful for self-preservation, when abundant means are in our hands." —Morison: "The prime temptation of millions, though they often realize it not, is to use improper means of making their bread."

Sirach 2:4. Our Lord was 'tempted like as we are,' and be resisted like as we must. If he had wrought a miracle for his own relief, that would have been no example for us; but it was an example that he should in trying circumstances trust in God and wait-and that he should be guided and sustained by what 'is written.' If we would imitate this example, let us become thoughtfully imbued with the principles of Scripture, (Psalms 119:11) and familiar with its precepts and examples, so that they may be naturally suggested to the mind, or readily recalled, just when they are needed.—Origen (Wordsw.) "He routs the tempter by what all may wield, the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. (Ephesians 6:17.) Hence learn the value of Scripture, and the impotence of Satan against it." —Stier: "As Eve in the beginning rightly opposed the tempter with God has said! but alas, did not persist therein—even so now the Lord; but he holds firm." —Lightfoot: "Observe (1) That the first word spoken by Christ in his ministerial office is an assertion of the authority of Scripture. (2) That he opposeth the word of God as the properest incounterer against the words of the devil. (3) That he alledgeth Scripture as a thing undeniable and uncontrollable by the devil himself. (4) That he maketh the Scripture his rule, though he had the fullness of the Spirit above measure." —Henry: "As in our greatest abundance we must not think to live without God, so in our greatest straits we must learn to live upon God." —There is a common saying, 'Necessity knows no law.' But it ought to know the law of duty.

Sirach 2:5. Henry: "Pinnacles of the temple are places of temptation. (1) High places in the world are so. (2) High places in the church are in a special manner dangerous."

Sirach 2:6. Henry: "We must avoid going from one extreme to another—from despair to presumption, from prodigality to covetousness, "etc.—Lange: "The holiest thing may be perverted to become the most vile temptation. (1) A stay in the holy city. (2) The prospect from the pinnacle of the temple. (3) The promise contained in an inspired Psalm."—One of the subtlest and sometimes mightiest forms of temptation to a devout mind is the misapplication of Scripture, so as to give apparent warrant for doing what we incline to. We need not only to know the language of Scripture, but to understand the real meaning and legitimate application. A great aid in this is to compare other passages, as our Lord here does.—Bengel: "Scripture must through Scripture be interpreted and reconciled."—Wordsworth: "The devil may tempt us to fall, but he cannot make us fall; he may persuade us to cast ourselves down, but he cannot cast us down."

Sirach 2:7. True faith never tries experiments upon the promises, being satisfied that they will be fulfilled as occasion may arise. We have no right to create danger, and expect Providence to shield us from it. The love of adventure, curiosity as to the places and procedures of vice, the spirit of speculation in business, the I profits of some calling attended by moral perils,—often lead men to tempt God. It is a common form of sin. (See Chalmers' Sermons on the Temptations.) Griffith: "We violate the organic conditions of health, and then expect some miracle of restoration. We devote ourselves to seeming duty, labour on in what we fancy must be saintly self-sacrifice, till the brain is fevered, the strength is exhausted, and imbecility and death come in to punish the presumption of 'testing the Lord our God.' " —Jesus did afterwards work miracles equivalent to those proposed in the first and second temptations, when he multiplied food, and when he walked on the water; but in these cases he was using his supernatural power for the benefit of others.

Sirach 2:8. See Milton's description in Par. Regained, Book iii. Sirach 2:9. How often are measures adopted by preacher or church that are unworthy of Christianity, and defended only by urging that they take, that they succeed. But Christ would not rule over the world by Satan's help, and we must not seek to advance the kingdom of holiness by unholy means.—Theophylact: "Now also he says to the covetous that the world is his, so that they gain it who worship him."—Schaff: "Satan's greatest weapons are his half-truths, his perversions of the truth."

Sirach 2:10. Often the only proper way to deal with the tempter is to bid him begone. Augustine: "It is the devil's part to suggest, it is ours not to consent." —Jer. Taylor: "The Lamb of God could by no means endure it when tempted to a direct dishonouring of God. Our own injuries are opportunities of patience; but when the glory of God and his immediate honour is the question, then is the occasion for the flames of a clear shining and unconsuming zeal."

Sirach 2:11. Grotius: "Formerly conqueror of our first parents and long conqueror of the human race, but now conquered by Christ, anal to be conquered by Christians. (1 John 5:18.)" Griffith: "The successive temptations may be ranked as temptations to under-confidence, over-confidence, and other confidence. The first, to take things impatiently into our' hands; the second, to throw things presumptuously on God's hands; the third, to transfer i things disloyally into other hands than God's." —Lorimer: "The spirit of evil takes things that are right in themselves and perverts them to our undoing; as here, the instinct of self-preservation, the feeling of self-confidence, the hope of self-aggrandizement." We can see in these temptations a progression. (a) The tempter appeals to, (1) a bodily appetite, (2) an obscure nervous feeling, (3) ambition, which is wholly of the mind. (b) He proposes (1) a useful miracle, (2) a useless miracle, (3) a gross sin. (c) He seeks to excite, (1) distrust of God, (2) presumptuous reliance on God, (3) worldly-minded abandonment of God.


Verses 12-25

Matthew 4:12-25.
Beginning Of Our Lord's Ministry In Galilee

The third and principal division of the Gospel of Matthew, from Matthew 4:12 to the end of Matthew 18, gives an account of our Lord's ministry in Galilee. A general introduction to that account is given in Matthew 4:12-25.

Having described the events connected with the entrance of Jesus upon his public work, it is natural that the narrative should pass to the work itself. So far as we learn from Matthew, Mark (Mark 1:14,) and Luke (Luke 4:14), this began after John the Baptist's labours were closed by his imprisonment, and its scene was Galilee and adjacent districts, until shortly before our Lord's death. Nor do they intimate that any long time intervened between the temptation and this ministry in Galilee. The Gospel of John, on the other hand, records a number of intervening events, embracing the testimony of John the Baptist to Jesus, after his baptism, and apparently after his temptation; the gaining of disciples, the marriage at Cans, and the brief residence at Capernaum (John 1:19 to John 2:12); the first Passover of our Lord's public ministry, with the expulsion of the traders and the conversation with Nicodemus (John 2:13 to John 3:21); the teaching and baptizing in Judea before John the Baptist's imprisonment, and the occurrences at Sychar when Jesus was on the way to Galilee. (John 3:22 to John 4:42.)

But there is here no real contradiction between John and the other Evangelists. None of them could record the whole of Jesus' public life, and each must select according to his particular design. Where events are omitted in a brief narrative, we cannot expect to find a wide break as if to invite their insertion from some other source; for this would destroy the continuity of the narrative, and greatly impair its interest and impressiveness. The story must go right on, but must not contain such expressions as would exclude the events it omits. This is the course which Matthew, Mark, and Luke have here pursued. They make no allusion to labours of our Lord between the temptation and John's imprisonment, but do not at all affirm that there were no intervening labours; and various facts mentioned by them, (e.g. Luke 10:38) really imply that our Lord had been preaching in Judea before the visit which ended in his death. What were the reasons for omitting one thing and inserting another, we may not in all cases be able to perceive. But the concurrence of the three first Evangelists in beginning their account of Christ's public ministry just after that of the forerunner closed, suggests (Ewald, Alexander), that the work of Christ then assumed in some sense a different character; the early preaching and baptizing of our Lord while the forerunner's work still went on (John 3:22 f.; John 4:1 f.) was introductory, and his ministry now takes in some sense a higher position. The transition from the Old Dispensation to the New was in many respects gradual. Even after the ascension of Christ and the special coming of the Spirit, the Jewish Christians long continued to observe the ceremonies of the law, continued it apparently until providentially stopped by the destruction of the temple. And so the forerunner continued his preaching and baptizing side by side with that of Jesus until providentially stopped by his imprisonment. It is likely that the oral narratives commonly given by the apostles for years after the ascension were accustomed to begin their account of the Lord's ministry, as we find the three first Gospels doing, with this point at which his ministry stood out apart from that of the Baptist. But before John's Gospel was written, some persons were maintaining that the Baptist's work was designed to be permanent, and ought to be continued by his disciples; it may have been partly to correct this error that John narrates the earlier ministry of Jesus, showing that he was not a mere successor of the Baptist, but began to preach before the other ceased, and that the forerunner distinctly and repeatedly acknowledged his own inferiority, and asserted that his work was designed to be temporary. (John 1:29-37, John 3:26 ff.)

If we adopt the common and probable reckoning that our Lord's public ministry occupied about three years and a half, putting his baptism some months before the Passover at which Nicodemus visited him, then the labours in Galilee and vicinity recorded by Matthew (and Mark and Luke) begin during the second year of his ministry (reckoning from Passover to Passover, because at the Passover he died), and probably in the latter part of that year; thus leaving rather less than two years for this "ministry in Galilee," which ended six months before the crucifixion.

It is evident that Matthew does not in this part of his work propose to himself a chronological account of events and discourses. He sets out with the general statement that our Lord withdrew (from Judea) into Galilee, and making Capernaum his residence and the centre of his operations, began to preach. (Matthew 4:12-17) Then comes the fact of his calling certain persons to follow him, and unite with him in these labours. (Matthew 4:8-22) Next a very general account of his going about all Galilee, preaching and healing, while his fame spread far and wide, and he was followed by crowds from all the adjacent regions. (Matthew 4:23-25) The present section thus carries us into the heart of the ministry in Galilee. Afterwards we shall find that great discourse (Matthew 5-7), in which our Lord set forth certain principles of the kingdom or reign he came to proclaim and establish; and then a number of miracles and discourses, such as were calculated to prove the fact that Jesus is the Messiah, and to exhibit the true nature of the Messianic reign-the twofold object of Matthew's Gospel. In all this there is no attempt at chronological order, but a grouping of the topics which is more effective for the sacred writer's object. (Compare on Matthew 8:1; Matthew 9:35; Matthew 11:2; Matthew 12:1, Matthew 14:1.)

Matthew 4:12. Now when Jesus had heard, or, and hearing. The narrative goes right on.(1) Cast into prison, or, delivered up,—literally, passed on, 'given from hand to hand.' It is a word often used in the Gospels and the Acts, sometimes correctly translated by 'deliver,'(2) often incorrectly by 'betray.' Matthew here contents himself with this general expression, without stating the circumstances of John's imprisonment, because they were familiar to his readers. Afterwards, when telling of John's death (Matthew 14:3 ff.), he states the cause of his imprisonment. According to the chronological estimates above mentioned, the imprisonment took place over twelve months after the baptism of Jesus, and thus John's preaching and baptizing continued in all about a year and a half. Henceforth, until his death, about a year later, we are to think of him as a prisoner in the Castle of Machaerus, some miles east of the northern part of the Dead Sea. (See on "Matthew 14:6".) Departed, withdrew, or, 'retired,'(3) as above in Matthew 2:12-13, Matthew 2:14, Matthew 2:22, and below in Matthew 12:15; Matthew 14:13, etc The word does not necessarily imply danger (See Acts 23:19, Acts 26:31) Yet the circumstances here suggest that our Lord withdrew to avoid inconvenient consequences which might follow if he remained in Judea. And this is explained by John. The Pharisees at Jerusalem had been watching the Baptist (John 1:19 ff.) and were doubtless jealous of his influence. But of late they had heard that Jesus was making and baptizing more disciples than John (John 4:1), and now that John was imprisoned they would be likely to turn their jealous attention to Jesus, who therefore withdrew from Judea into the remoter Galilee. It is a strange mistake to say that he wished to avoid Herod, for Judea (John 4:3) was not in Herod's dominions, and Galilee was. Similar withdrawals by our Lord we shall find below, in Matthew 12:15; Matthew 14:13; Matthew 15:21. (Compare on Matthew 8:4.)

Galilee, the scene of the greater part of our Lord's ministry, is wrongly conceived by many as a poor country, with a degraded population. It has always been much more fertile and beautiful than Judea, and in the time of Christ had an immense population, brave, energetic, and wealthy. (Compare below on Matthew 4:23.) The name appears to have come from the Galil or 'circuit' of twenty cities given by Solomon to Hiram, king of Tyre, (Joshua 20:7, 1 Kings 9:11, 2 Kings 15:29) and was gradually extended to denote the northern part of the Holy Land in general. From its proximity to and connection with Phenicia this district would be largely occupied by Gentiles, and so was called by Isaiah, literally (Isaiah 9:1) 'circuit of the Gentiles.' During and after the captivity the "Gentiles became predominant." In B. C. 164, the Jews in Galilee were so few that the Maccabees carried them all away to Judea for safety. (1 Maccabees 5:23.) In the time of Christ the vast population were chiefly Jews, though: Several cities are expressly said (Josephus, Strabo) to have contained many Gentiles, and they were doubtless numerous elsewhere. These probably sometimes heard Jesus, who may have sometimes spoken in Greek, but there is nothing to warrant the fancy that he was a "Foreign Missionary," as habitually preaching to the heathen; and it is quite forbidden by Matthew 10:5, and Matthew 15:24. The constant association with Gentiles, as well as the distance from Jerusalem, may have softened the religious prejudices of the Galilean Jews, and rendered them more accessible to the new teachings. The Galileans pronounced Aramaic with some provincial peculiarities by which the people of Jerusalem could recognize them (Matthew 26:73), but this does not show them to have been ignorant. Galilee exhibited an intense activity in agriculture, fisheries, manufacturing, and trade. Besides local business, the great trade between Egypt and Damascus passed through this region. Jesus laboured among an intelligent and actively busy people. The district comprised the immensely fertile plain of Esdraelon on the south; the broad, rolling uplands of the centre, rich in grass and wheat, in bright flowers and shady trees; and the higher hills and mountains of the north, which, interspersed with deep valleys, presented the greatest variety of productions and climate. (See Josephus, Keim, Renan, Neubauer, and especially Merrill's "Galilee in the Time of our Lord," from "Biblioth. Sac." for 1874.) Three times we find our Lord described as making extensive journeys around Galilee. (Matthew 4:23, Luke 8:1 ff.; Matthew 9:35)

Matthew 4:13 f. He did not make this change immediately upon reaching Galilee, but first revisited Cans, (John 4:46) and began teaching in Galilee with great acceptance, (Luke 4:15) coming presently to Nazareth. (Luke 4:16 ff.) Being there rejected and his life attempted, he left, (Luke 4:31) and went down to Capernaum.(1) Here he would not only be more free from popular violence, but would come in contact with a much larger and more active-minded population. So Paul laboured especially at Antioch, Corinth, and Ephesus, commercial centres, in which men's minds were active and ready to grasp new ideas, and from which the news would spread in every direction, and excursions could be readily made. Came and dwelt in, as in Matthew 2:23. Capernaum was our Lord's home, the centre of his labours and journeys, for probably nearly two years. (Compare on Matthew 4:12) On the western shore of the Lake of Galilee (see on "Matthew 4:18") there extends for some three miles an exceedingly fertile plain, called the 'Plain of Gennesaret.' (See on "Matthew 14:34".) In this plain, or a little north of it, Capernaum was situated; but the once highly exalted city has been cast down into such destruction, (Matthew 11:23) that we cannot certainly determine its site. Robinson placed it at Khan Minyeh, on the northern edge of the plain, and is still followed by Keim and Conder. (Renan and Godet doubtful.) But the great majority of recent explorers prefer the view that it was at Tel Hum, two miles further up the shore. The earliest MSS. and versions give the name as Capharnaum, and the Syriac gives Capharnahum. As Caphar in Hebrew means 'village,' Capharnahum means 'village of Nahum,' or perhaps 'village of consolation' (Origen). In modern Arabic the word Tel denotes a hill covered with ruins, and thus Tel Hum might well be the modern form of village of Nahum (so Ewald, Delitzsch, and others). Moreover, the ruins at Tel Hum contain much black basaltic rock, which is very hard to work, and must have been brought from the country S. E. of the lake, so that its free use indicates a wealthy city, the most important in the neighbourhood. Now Capernaum evidently had, such pre-eminence among the cities on the northern shores of the lake, and so it seems highly probable that Tel Hum is the site of Capernaum.(2) At Tel Hum are the ruins of a beautiful synagogue, the finest of which we have any remains in all Palestine, and this may well have been 'the synagogue' built by the centurion. (Luke 7:5) Originally but a 'village' (Caphar), and so not mentioned in O. T., it had in N. T. times become a 'city.' (Luke 4:31) It probably had a large fishing business (the fish were put up in salt and transported to the interior), and general trade on the lake, while very near it passed the principal road from Damascus to Ptolemats, carrying the trade with Egypt, It had a custom-house, (Matthew 9:9) and a garrison of Roman soldiers. (Matthew 8:9) Our Lord had at a former period remained here for a short time, (John 2:12) perhaps sojourning with Peter, whom we afterwards find living at Capernaum. (Matthew 8:14, Mark 1:29, Mark 2:1) In the synagogue at Capernaum he delivered the great discourse of John 6 (see John 6:59). It was a convenient starting point for his journeys into Galilee or Decapolis, towards Tyre or Cesarea Philippi, to Perea or Judea; and was the home to which he constantly returned.

Borders, as in Matthew 2:16. The borders of Zabulon and Nephthalim means the borders common to the two, the boundary between them. For the peculiar forms of the names, Zabulon and Nephthalim, see on "Matthew 1:2". The Evangelist takes pains to describe the situation of Capernaum, as beside the sea (lake), and on the boundary between these two tribes, in order to show the minute correspondence to the prediction he is about to quote. Matthew often introduces Messianic prophecies as fulfilled in Jesus, (Matthew 1:22, Matthew 2:6, Matthew 2:15, Matthew 2:17, Matthew 2:23, Matthew 3:8) this being an evidence of his Messiahship.

Matthew 4:14. For that it might be fulfilled by, or, through, see on "Matthew 1:22"; and for the form of the names Esaias or Isaiah, on Matthew 1:2. A providential design of Jesus' going to reside in this region was that the prophecy might be fulfilled; there might of course be other designs at the same time.

Matthew 4:15 f. The Sept. translation of this passage, (Isaiah 9:1 f.) is quite incorrect, and Matt. does not follow the Sept., as he commonly does where it is sufficiently accurate for his purpose. The original Hebrew contains some expressions which would be intelligible only by consulting the connection, and these Matt. has omitted, but without affecting the meaning of the passage, as applying to our Lord's settlement at Capernaum. He even begins in the middle of a sentence, taking only what was appropriate to the matter in hand. The prophet has spoken of great afflictions which would befall the people at the hands of the Assyrians and others, but which would be followed by great blessings, to be enjoyed especially by the tribes mentioned, they having been most afflicted; and the Evangelist shows us a remoter reference in this to the blessings connected with the work of the Messiah, to whom Isaiah immediately afterwards (Isaiah 9:6 f.) makes a distinct reference. By the way of the sea, omit 'by.' This might mean road to the sea, or simply sea-road (Meyer, Weiss); or road by the sea, meaning the great caravan route which passed near the sea, i.e., the Lake of Galilee (see on "Matthew 4:18"); or road from the sea, viz., the Mediterranean (Keim). The English 'sea-road'(1) would be equally ambiguous. The most probable meaning is the second, 'road by the sea,' designating the regions adjacent to the lake. Beyond Jordan (see Matthew 4:25) in O. T. usually means east of the Jordan, but in some passages west of it, (see Numbers 32:19, Deuteronomy 11:30, Joshua 5:1, Joshua 22:7) reminding us that Israel came first to the region east of the river. It of course depends on the writer's point of view in each case. Isaiah, having referred to the calamities which would be inflicted by the Eastern nations, might naturally for the moment speak from their point of view, and thus 'beyond Jordan' would mean west of the Jordan, and would denote the same region as the other expressions. This fits the connection, which has a series of parallel phrases. Those who prefer the more common O. T. sense of 'beyond Jordan' understand Decapolis, east of the lake, or Perea, east of the lower Jordan (see on "Matthew 4:25"). They then either hold that this denotes a region distinct from Galilee, or suppose that Galilee sometimes included Decapells, etc. Galilee of the Gentiles (see on "Matthew 4:12"). The word rendered Gentiles signifies simply 'nations' (see margin of Rev. Ver.). The Israelites called all others 'the nations,' in distinction from themselves, who were the chosen people.

Matthew 4:16. In this verse is an instance of that "parallelism" which is the peculiarity in the structure of Hebrew poetry, and consequently abounds in O. T. There are two principal varieties of it: (a) the second clause simply repeats, in different phraseology, the thought of the first; and (b) the second stands in contrast with the first. The present example belongs to (a), the second clause repeating first, but in stronger terms. (See other examples in Matthew 7:6, Matthew 12:30) Shadow of death, or, death-shade, is simply a figure for the densest darkness. (Compare Jeremiah 13:16, Amos 5:8, Psalms 107:10, Psalms 23:4, see margin Rev. Ver. 'deep darkness'; even Job 10:21) The 'region and shadow' may be understood as equivalent by what grammarians call hendiadys to 'region of the shadow' (which is the meaning of the Hebrew), or as simply expanding the idea, region of death and shadow of death. Is sprung up, or, arose; the Greek term is often used of sunrise and dawn.(1) The image seems to be that of persons who had lost their way in the dense darkness, and upon whom arose the great light of the morning. The Hebrew has 'walked.... sat,' while Matt. says 'sat' in both cases, which with reference to the figure is an equivalent expression. Here, as So often in Scripture, darkness and light represent ignorance, sin, misery, as opposed to knowledge, holiness, happiness.—Alexander: "The verse in its original connection has respect to the degraded and oppressed state of the Galileans, arising from their situation on the frontier, their exposure to attack from without, and their actual mixture with the Gentiles." Matthew shows us in this language a further reference to the spiritual darkness of the Galileans of our Lord's time. All the Jews were in spiritual darkness, and the Galileans were inferior in religious privileges to the Judeans, and despised by them. (John 7:41, John 7:49, John 7:52) There is no proof that they were morally more corrupt than the Judeans. But he who came 'to seek and to save that which is lost,' fixed in this remote and despised section of the Holy Land the centre of his labours, and here chose most of the apostles who were to carry his teachings to Judea and Samaria, and the ends of the earth. (Acts 1:8)

Matthew 4:17. Establishing himself in Capernaum, our Lord began to preach. rom that time began that public ministry which Matthew proposes to describe. (Compare on Matthew 4:12) The English word preach is derived (through the French) from the Latin predico, which signifies to proclaim, publish, declare. The Greek word here used (kerusso) has the same sense, to proclaim as a crier or herald does, and in general to proclaim, publish, declare. This is the word always used by Matthew where the Common English Version has 'preach,' except in Matthew 11:5, and elsewhere in N. T. it is always rendered 'preach,' except in Luke 12:3, Revelation 5:2, 'proclaim,' and in Mark 1:45, Mark 5:20, Mark 7:36, Mark 13:10, Luke 8:39 'publish.' But it will not do to infer that 'to preach' is always in N. T. an official function, as these facts have led some to do, because the English word is also used (in other N. T. books) to translate various other words, which carry no suggestion of a herald or other official. Thus euangelizomai, to bear a good message, bring good news (compare euangelion, 'gospel,' introductory note to Matthew 1:1), used once by Matthew, (Matthew 11:5) and not at all by Mark or John, is a favourite word with Luke and Paul, and often rendered in Com. Ver. by 'preach,' or 'preach the gospel.' Laleo, to talk, speak, a very common word in that sense, is rendered 'preach' in Mark 2:2, Acts 8:25, Acts 11:19, Acts 13:42, Acts 14:25, Acts 16:6.(1)

Repent, etc. See on "Matthew 3:2". Our Lord begins this ministry after the imprisonment of John, with precisely the same exhortation and announcement that had been made by John. We naturally infer that his previous preaching in Judea had been to the same effect. Yet he by no means confined himself to the announcement and exhortation, but already in Judea had strongly stated to Nicodemus and to the woman of Samaria the spiritual nature of the Messianic reign. To the woman he had also declared himself the Messiah (John 4:26; compare John 1:46-51), but it did not accord with his purpose publicly to declare this in Galilee. From Mark 1:15 we see that along with the exhortation to repent he called on the people to 'believe in the gospel,' or good news, viz., in the good news he was announcing; just as the Baptist bade them 'believe on the (one) coming after him.' Thus (Acts 19:4) not only repentance, but faith in the Messiah, was preached before as well as after the day of Pentecost. Then, as in the case of Abraham (Romans 4:11) and always, belief in God's word was the root of piety. And if the baptism of John, and that administered by Jesus through his disciples, (John 4:1 f.) was conditioned on faith in the Messiah as well as repentance, what essential difference was there between it and Christian baptism?

Matthew 4:18. In Matthew 4:18-22 we have an account of the call of certain disciples, Simon and Andrew, James and John. The first two of these, and in all probability John also, had attached themselves to Jesus on the Jordan, soon after his temptation, as had also Philip and Nathanael (John 1:35 ff.) From that time we find him constantly attended by persons known as 'his disciples,' at Cana, (John 2:2, John 2:11) at Capernaum, (John 2:12) at Jerusalem, (John 2:17, John 2:22) in his labours in Judea, (John 3:22, John 4:2) and at Sychar. (John 4:8, John 4:27-33) Supposing, as there seems reason to do, that these included some or all of the five persons above named, we conclude that upon returning to Galilee they had left Jesus, gone to their own homes, and resumed their former occupations, it being probable that he had never yet told them they were to forsake all and follow him without intermission. And it was natural enough that they should return to fishing after being so long with Jesus, even as some of them sought food in that way after his resurrection. (John 21:1) The training of the disciples for their work was very gradual (see on "Matthew 10:1"). On the present occasion, finding the two pairs of brothers engaged in their occupation as fishermen, Jesus calls on them to attend him in his ministry, which they seem to have constantly done from this time forward. Their immediate compliance with his demand (Matthew 4:20, Matthew 4:22) ceases to be strange when we remember their former connection with him; and this is one of the cases in which Matthew, Mark, and Luke, make statements which seem to imply a previous ministry such as was afterwards described by John. We see also from the fuller account of the circumstances given by Luke—for (Luke 5:1 ff.) it is very unwise to assume two different calls, as Clark and others do-that a miracle was wrought which made a great impression on Peter and the rest.—Omit 'Jesus,' as in Matthew 4:12.

The Sea of Galilee has been well said to be "the most sacred sheet of water in the world," for it is intimately associated with many of the most interesting events in the life of our Lord. It is called in O.T. "the Sea of Chinnereth," or "Chinneroth", (Numbers 34:11, Joshua 12:3) perhaps from a town of that name on its banks. (Joshua 19:35) In N. T. times it was commonly called "Lake of Gennesaret", (Luke 5:1, Josephus, Strabo, etc.) as already in 1 Maccabees 11:67, "water of Gennesar," the name being probably derived from the plain on its northwestern shore (see on "Matthew 14:34"). We also find in John (John 21:1, John 6:1) the name "Sea of Tiberius," from the city which Herod Antipas built on the southwestern shore, and named after the emperor Tiberius, and which is at the present day the only town remaining near the lake.

The name "Sea of Galilee,"here and in Mark 7:31, John 6:1, was obviously taken from the great district on the west. In Hebrew the term rendered 'sea' was also applied to small bodies of water (as now in German a sea may be a small lake), and this unclassical use of the term is adopted in Greek by Matt., Mark, and John, but not by Luke, who says 'lake.' It is important to observe this usage; for many persons think of the Sea of Galilee as a large body of water, when it is only a small lake, twelve and a quarter miles long, and six and three-quarter miles in its greatest breadth. Its surface is six hundred and eighty-two feet below the level of the Mediterranean (compare on Matthew 3:6), so that from the hills on either side it seems sunken in a great ravine. The range of mountains which bounds the whole Jordan valley on the east, rise here just from the eastern shore of the lake (except a bit of plain at the upper and lower extremities) to the height of nearly two thousand feet. They are deeply furrowed by ravines, and have a barren and desolate appearance. The mountains on the west curve round so as to give space for the lake, and besides leaving the beautiful plain of Gennesaret on the northwest, present "an alternation of soft grassy slopes and rocky cliffs." The warmth due to the great depression, and the numerous and copious springs which break out on the western side, produce a high degree of fertility, which attains its greatest richness in the plain of Gennesaret. Down the ravines on this side, as well as on tile east, come rushing winds, which often lash the surface of the lake to fury (see on "Matthew 8:24"). Around nearly all the western side lies a gently sloping beach, which southward is roughly strewn with stones, but in the middle and northern part is of smooth sand. The water is found, as described by Josephus, to be remarkably clear, cool, and sweet; and the lake still abounds in choice fish, which doubtless led to the name Bethsaida, house of fish, fish town, for a town on the northeast and another on the northwest. Besides nine cities, some of them quite populous, on the western shore, there were many villages on the hill-sides. Hanna: "It is perhaps not too much to say that never did so small a sheet of water see so many keels cutting its surface, or so many human habitations circling round and shadowing its waves, as did the Sea of Galilee in the days of Jesus Christ." Our Lord was throwing himself into the midst of the busy world (compare on Matthew 4:12-13), where great crowds would easily collect to hear and see; while whenever he wished to avoid them, he could retire from the lake-shore to the adjacent lofty hills, or cross the narrow lake to the comparative solitudes beyond. On the present occasion we think of him as going forth from Capernaum, and walking by the sea, along the sloping and sandy beach, until presently he sees among the busy fishermen those humble brothers whom he had chosen to follow him in labours destined to make the Sea of Galilee famous forever.

How pleasant to me thy deep blue wave,

O Sea of Galilee!

For the glorious One who came to save

Hath often stood by thee.

Graceful around thee the mountains meet,

Thou calm reposing sea;

But ah! far more, the beautiful feet

Of Jesus walked o'er thee.

Tell me, ye mouldering fragments, tell,

Was the Saviour's city here?

Lifted to heaven, has it sunk to hell,

With none to shed a tear?

And was it beside this very sea

The new-risen Saviour said,

Three times to Simon, Lovest thou me?

My lambs and sheep then feed.

O Saviour, gone to God's right hand,

But the same Saviour still,

Graved on thy heart is this lovely strand

And every fragrant hill.

Oh! give me, Lord, by this sacred wave,

Threefold thy love divine,

That I may feed, till I find my grave,

Thy flock—both thine and mine.

—M'CHEYNE.

On Simon called Peter (as to the form of expression compare Matthew 1:16), and on Andrew, see on Matthew 10:2. A net is in the original a different word from the more general term employed in Matthew 4:20 f., but without any substantial difference of meaning. The circumstances show that it was a dip-net. (Compare on Matthew 13:47)—The fact that our Lord chose 'fishermen' to receive and propagate his teachings, and not Rabbis, shows that he relied on something better than mere human learning and worldly influence, and the success of their labours is one evidence of the divine power which attends the preaching of the gospel. But this idea must not be carried too far. There is no reason at all to consider them weak men, and their position and pursuits seemed in some respects to fit them for their work. They were perhaps less prepossessed by the follies of Pharisaic tradition, and thus better prepared for receiving and transmitting new doctrine, and they were eminently men of the people. "Working men" in the East (Kitto) are often markedly intelligent, correct in language, and courteous, and it has always been a matter of course there that some such men should rise to the highest station. And it has often been seen in America that such men, when they possess real force, have greater popular influence from their ready and well recognized sympathy with the common mind. There was afterwards added to the number of the apostles a man of lofty intellect, filled with Jewish learning, and not ignorant of Greek literature, and it is he that was chosen to be the chief instrument of introducing the gospel among the cultivated Greeks, and to write such inspired treatises as the Epistle to the Romans, while at the same time he abhorred the idea of relying on human philosophy or rhetoric, when the excellency of the power must be of God, and not of men. In all this we see a rebuke to the presumption and exclusiveness both of learning and of ignorance.—It is not certain that any others of the twelve than the four here named were fishermen by profession. We know that Matthew was not, nor is it likely that Nathanael of Cana was. The incident in John 21:1 ff. does not prove that to have been the proper calling of every one present. Still, it is probable that all the twelve were men in comparatively humble life, and without the learning of the Rabbinical schools. (Compare Acts 4:13)

Matthew 4:19. Follow me. This was translated Come ye after me, by Wyclif and Rheims, followed by Davidson, Noyes, Alford, McClellan. The entire phrase was translated 'follow me' by Tyndale, and so came into Common Version. The first term is literally 'hither,' or 'come hither,' as in Matthew 11:28. With the addition 'after me' it implies that they were to come and follow him, viz., as his disciples. (compare Luke 9:23, Luke 14:27) The same idea is presently expressed (Matthew 4:20, Matthew 4:22) by the simple term 'follow'; and in Matthew 19:21, both 'hither' and 'follow,' are combined. It was the practice of many of the Greek philosophers to have their pupils accompany them wherever they went, instructing them not only by elaborate discourses, but also by conversations with them, for with others in their presence. So Elijah was for some years followed (1 Kings 19:20 f.) by Elisha, his destined successor. It is easy to see the wisdom of such a course, in these cases and in that of the Great Teacher. Similar language is found below in Matthew 9:9, Matthew 16:24. Fishers of men, as he himself had just been occupied with a thronging crowd. (Luke 5:1)

Matthew 4:20-22. For explanation of their immediately obeying, see on "Matthew 4:18". So Elisha left at once his numerous oxen, and followed the prophet. Peter remembers long afterwards that they 'left all' and followed Jesus (Matthew 19:27, Rev. Ver.) And going on, etc., or going forward. The connection in Luke (Luke 5:7) shows that it was only a short distance, for Peter had beckoned to James and John when he found his boat so full, and they came and filled theirs also. Probably they then brought their boat to shore at a different point, and to this Jesus advanced, and addressed to them also his call.—These two pairs of brothers, thus called at the same time, appear to have been peculiarly associated, forming the first of those quaternions, or companies of four, into which the twelve are in all the lists divided (see on "Matthew 10:2 ff"). The twelve probably comprised also a third pair of brothers, (Luke 6:16) where 'brother' is more probably the meaning. In a ship, or the boat, viz., the one they kept and used. The article was duly translated, 'in the ship,' by Tyndale and Cranmer. The translators of Common Version seem to have had in general but little feeling for the article. 'Boat' (Noyes, McClellan) is necessary in modern English to express the exact idea. The Greek word means something used for sailing, and is applied to vessels of various sizes, just as the English ship and skiff were originally the same word. On the Lake of Galilee these fishing-vessels were in all probability mere boats. We cannot tell whether or not they had sails, which are never mentioned in the Gospels. With Matthew 4:22 compare Mark 1:20, 'and leaving their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired servants,' Bib. Un. Ver., which indicates that this family were not in great poverty, and so the sons were not depriving their father of necessary assistance. (compare Matthew 10:2)

Matthew 4:23. In Matthew 4:23-25 is given a general account of our Lord's making a circuit of galilee, as he did also on two subsequent occasions. (Luke 8:1-3, Matthew 9:35 to Matthew 11:1) Particular incidents of the circuit are postponed by Matt. till after giving the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7), to which this paragraph furnishes a soft of introduction.

Jesus went about. 'Jesus' should probably be omitted, as in Matthew 4:18, though the evidence is here not conclusive. 'Went about' is imperfect tense, continued or kept going. Christ's labours were incessant. All Galilee, (compare on Matthew 4:12) is also a strong expression. Galilee was a small district, say seventy miles long and forty in greatest width; but Josephus declares that it had two hundred and four cities and villages ("Life," ch. 55, Whiston, wrongly, two hundred and forty), and elsewhere ("War.," 3, 3, 2) says: "The cities are numerous, and the multitude of villages everywhere crowded with men, owing to the fecundity of the soil, so that the smallest of them contains above fifteen thousand inhabitants." This is obviously an exaggeration or loose statement, as there must, in the nature of things, have been many smaller villages. But Josephus had ample opportunity to know, having been commanding general in Galilee in A. D. 66.

Nearly all the people lived in cities, or villages, and (omitting those who did not) according to these two statements of Josephus there were in Galilee, thirty-five years (one generation) later than our Lord's ministry, more than three million inhabitants; an estimate which some other facts support. But few of the cities are named in the Gospels, yet quite a number in Josephus, whose military operations lead him to speak of them. At any rate, there were over two hundred cities and considerable villages, and while we must not press the phrase 'in all Galilee,' we perceive that this circuit by our Lord was one of great labour, and requiring much time, since to visit only half the towns at the rate of one every day, would have taken more than three months. These arithmetical estimates should however not be insisted on, save as helps to form a general conception of the labours of love our Lord performed, as he 'went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil.' (Acts 10:38) Notice also the expressions which here follow: 'all manner of sickness,' 'all Syria,' 'all sick people.' Of particular miracles and discourses in our Lord's ministry the Gospels give only a few examples; and it is very important to dwell on these general statements, and expand the imagination over this great extent of beneficent work. Day after day, week after week, he goes from town to town, teaching, healing. In scores of synagogues he speaks, hundreds and perhaps thousands of persons he heals; feeling fatigue like any other human being, (John 4:6, Matthew 8:24, Mark 6:31), he toils on. Teaching.. The constant application of 'teach' and 'teacher' to our Lord reminds us that the gospel proposes to instruct and enlighten men, in their ignorance of spiritual things—giving both information as to the facts of God's word and instruction in its principles.

Synagogues. These were of great service to Jesus, and afterwards to his apostles, in furnishing congregations already assembled in a quiet place, associated with nothing but worship. The Greek word which we borrow (sunagoge) signifies a collection of objects, or persons, and in the Sept. is often used for the congregation or assembly of Israel (compare on Matthew 16:18), in N. T. only for a local assembly of Jews in a particular place to worship, or for the place in which they assembled. The practice of holding such meetings probably originated during the Babylonian captivity, when the people were cut off from the temple worship, and having been found pleasant and useful, was continued afterward. In the time of Christ synagogues are referred to as a thing of course in every town, not only in Palestine, but wherever there were many Jews. After the destruction of Jerusalem, in A. D. 70, the synagogues would naturally receive a further development in organization and worship, and it should not be forgotten that the accounts of these furnished by the Jewish books (see Bible Dictionaries) refer to this later time. In N. T. we find no proofs of complete organization and regular jurisdiction, but there is mention of 'rulers' or 'elders,' and of an 'attendant'; (Luke 4:20) also of expulsion, (John 9:22 to John 12:42, Matthew 16:2) by which it is sufficient to understand that they forbade the person to attend their meetings, which would also cause him to be shunned in society. The examples in Luke 4:21 and Acts 13:15 show how our Lord and his apostles could turn the worship and Scripture reading to account. Philo says the reading and detailed exposition of Scripture was continued till late in the afternoon. Regular meetings were held in the synagogues on the Sabbath and on festival-days; whether also on the second and fifth days of the week, as at a later period, we cannot determine. (see Luke 18:12) Nor are we informed whether extraordinary meetings could be called on other days, as when Jesus arrived in a town and wished to be heard; and we know well that our Lord would speak wherever people could be assembled in quietness, as well in the open air as in a synagogue. Preaching, proclaiming (Kerusso), see on "Matthew 4:17". Gospel (margin of Rev. Ver. 'good tidings') see note introductory to Matthew 1:1. The gospel of the kingdom is the good news of that kingdom (or reign) of Messiah which was about to be established (see on "Matthew 3:2" and Matthew 6:10). The prophets had associated ideas of joy with the coming of Messiah's reign; and now Jesus proclaims the 'good news' that it is near. See an interesting specimen of his preaching at this period in Luke 4:18. Healing. There were two great departments of his public work—to make known truth, and miraculously to relieve men's distresses. He was a Teacher and a Healer. All manner of sickness—or, every kind of disease; the word is so rendered in Matthew 4:24. Disease—this word differs from that above. It seems to denote infirmity, or such diseases as produce feebleness rather than positive suffering. The same two Greek words meaning 'disease' and 'infirmity,' are coupled in Matthew 9:35 and Matthew 10:1. The miracles of Jesus cannot possibly be separated from his history or his teaching, nor can they be rejected without impeaching his character, or also declaring the Epistles of Paul, as well as the Gospels and Acts, to be so utterly untrustworthy that nothing whatever can be received upon their authority. Nay, if one denies the possibility of miracles, he need only be logical to deny the possibility of creation. If we believe that God caused these physical forces to exist, and to act according to the laws which modern science is so nobly busy in observing, where is the difficulty in believing (upon suitable testimony) that God's own spiritual influence has sometimes modified the action of these forces, without violating their nature' If he made them, he can do this. If ever there could be suitable occasion for miracles, it would seem to be when God "sent his Son into the world." Nor can any nobler, worthier miracles be imagined than those recorded as wrought by the Founder of Christianity. The spiritual teachings, the perfect character, and tile noble miracles of Christ, all support each other, and together form the foundation of our faith and hope.

Matthew 4:24. His fame, Rev. Ver., the report, literally, hearing. Went throughout. Tyndale gave the 'throughout,' which is unwarrantably strong—more strictly, went off into. Syria, Hebrew 'Aram' (whence 'Aramaic' as a name of language) was a term of variable extent, denoting in general the country east of the Mediterranean, between Asia Minor and Arabia. In the time of the kings of Israel it signifies the kingdom of which Damascus was the capital. During the Maccabean period it is the Greek kingdom of the Seleucidae, with Antioch as its capital. At the time of Christ, it is a Roman province of like extent, reaching from the northeast angle of the Mediterranean towards the Euphrates, and southward so as to include Phenicia and Damascus. After Archelaus was deposed, A. D. 6, Judea and Samaria became a Roman province, under the proconsul of Antioch,. (see Luke 2:2) But Galilee, and the other districts governed by Herod Antipas and Philip (see on Matthew 2:22), were still independent of the proconsul, and not a part of Syria. We thus 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. It would be folly to press the 'into' and 'all' so as to include Antioch. Mark (Mark 1:28) says, 'into all the region about Galilee'; compare, Luke 4:14. All sick people, literally, those having (themselves) badly, those who were in a bad condition; a general phrase covering all the classes presently specified. Torments, or 'tortures,' such diseases as occasion violent pain; a specific term, added to the general term 'diseases.' To these are further added three particular terms, denoting affections which were severe and frequent, and in themselves quite remarkable. Possessed with devils. Demoniacs (margin Rev. Ver.), see on "Matthew 8:28". Lunatic, epileptic, as in Rev. Ver. The Greek term, like the Latin word which we borrow in English, is derived from the word for moon, but was applied not to insanity, as in our use of the corresponding Latin term (lunatics), but to epilepsy, which the ancients supposed to become worse at certain stages of the moon. The sacred writer employs the familiar term, just as he speaks of sunrise, etc., without thereby making himself responsible for the idea which gave rise to it. This epilepsy might or might not be connected with demoniacal possession (see on "Matthew 17:15 ff.") That had the palsy, paralytics. The Greek word paralusis, signifying a loosening or relaxation, viz., of the muscles or nerves (compare on Matthew 8:6), was, as originally borrowed into English, contracted into 'palsy,' and denotes in Scripture all that we now mean by 'paralysis.' This full form was borrowed at a later period (compare story and history, fancy and phantasy, etc.), and 'palsy' is now usually confined to one kind of paralysis; that which produces an involuntary tremulous motion of some part of the body. It is to be regretted that Rev. Ver. has not here rendered by 'demoniacs' and 'paralytics.'

Matthew 4:25. Great multitudes, rather, crowds. The Greek word (ochlos) signifies not simply a multitude (which is plethos, used frequently by Luke, and a few times by Mark and John, not by Matthew), but a confused crowd or throng. This meaning must be borne in mind, for such was no doubt usually the character of the crowds that followed Jesus, as so often mentioned in the Gospels; but the word should not be insisted on as necessarily having this distinctive sense in every case, for it can scarcely be so taken in Acts 1:15. The crowds who thus followed Jesus were not all in any just sense his disciples. They came and went, attended him a longer or shorter time, to see his miracles and hear his teachings; sometimes many straggled away, and again they would throng around him to see some new wonder. So we must notice that follow means more or less in different cases. The term people was uselessly introduced here by Tyndale and followers.—Galilee. See on "Matthew 4:12". The word from is in the original given only before Galilee, thus grouping all the other localities with it. Decapolis signifies a district containing ten cities (compare Tripolis, Pentapolis), and here designates a region of somewhat indefinite extent, lying mainly on the southeast of the Lake of Galilee, but including Scythopolis (Beth-shean) on the western bank of the Jordan valley. After the Romans gained control of Palestine (beginning B. C. 63), these ten cities were allowed peculiar privileges. Ancient writers differ as to what cities formed the ten, Pliny including Damascus, which Josephus seems to exclude; perhaps the Romans made changes. One of them was Gadara, see on "Matthew 8:28". The population of these towns was very largely Gentile, and after the death of Herod the Great they were not governed by either of his sons, but belonged to the Roman province of Syria. (See Caspari.) Jerusalem, see on "Matthew 21:10"; Judea, see on "Matthew 2:1"; beyond Jordan Perea, see on "Matthew 19:1"—Though Jesus had retired from Judea to Galilee, many came thence to attend him here. (Compare on Matthew 15:1)

Homiletical And Practical

Matthew 4:12. Chrysostom: "Wherefore doth he depart? Again instructing us not to meet temptations, but to give place and withdraw ourselves."

Matthew 4:13. Henry: "It is just with God to take the gospel and the means of grace from those that slight them. Christ will not stay long where he is not welcome." —Capernaum. (1) Greatly favoured as the home of Jesus. (2) Severely tested by his teachings and miracles. (3) Utterly ruined for rejecting him. (Matthew 12:23)

Matthew 4:15. The most destitute field will sometimes prove most fruitful.

Matthew 4:16. Darkness and light. (1) The midnight darkness of sin, ignorance, and unbelief. (2) The morning sunlight of a present gospel. (3) The noonday brightness reached by following the path of the just. (Proverbs 4:18) starke (in Lange): "Many live under the full blaze of the gospel as if they still sat in the shadow of death."

Matthew 4:17. The preaching of Jesus (1) Its subjects. (2) Its spirit. (3) Its effects. The call to repentance has been made by all God's messengers; e.g., by the prophets ('turn ye'), by John the Baptist, by Jesus himself, by the apostles after his ascension. (Acts 2:38, Acts 3:19, Acts 20:21) Henry: "The doctrine of repentance is right gospel-doctrine. Not only the austere Baptist, who was looked upon as a melancholy, morose man, but the sweet and gracious Jesus, whose life dropped as a honey-comb, preached repentance; for it is an unspeakable privilege that room is left for repentance."

Matthew 4:19. Fishers of men. (1) Humble workers, but a lofty work. (2) It requires tact, perseverance, patient endurance of frequent failure. (3) He who calls us to it promises that we shall not labour in vain. [Beware of the wild fancies of certain Fathers, comparing Christians to fishes, etc., which some modern writers unwisely quote]. starke (in Lange): "Let none fancy that he can succeed by himself; even Christ chose assistants."

Matthew 4:21. Two pairs of brothers. Christ sanctifies and makes use of natural affections.

Matthew 4:21 f. (1) He saw, (2) He called, (3) They followed him. Calvin: "This shows (1) the energy of Christ's voice, (2) docility and prompt obedience in the disciples."

Matthew 4:22. We also should be ready if necessary to leave business and kindred, in order to follow Jesus. (Compare Luke 9:57-62) We cannot tread in his bodily footsteps; many did this with little or no profit; but by faith and loving imagination we may see him manifested; (John 14:21-23) and in imitating and obeying we shall in the best sense be following him.

Matthew 4:23. 'In their synagogues.' It may be proper to preach truth even in places where others preach much error. Jesus a Teacher and a Healer; and the relations between these functions. Sin was the prime cause of disease, and special sin is often the immediate cause of particular diseases. The miracles of healing both relieved human distress, and attested the divine authority of the teaching. Henry: "What we hear of Christ from others, should invite us to him." Chrys.: "If we have any bodily ailment, we do and contrive everything to be rid of what pains us; but when our soul is indisposed, we delay, and draw back."

Matthew 4:25. It is well if crowds come to a preacher: he should then take great pains (Matthew 5:1) to teach them the truth they need (Matthew 5:7); but they may admire his teachings as novel and striking (Matthew 7:28 f.), and yet few of them become Christians; and the fault may sometimes be wholly their own.

 


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Bibliography Information
Broadus, John. "Commentary on Matthew 4:4". "John Broadus' Commentary on Matthew". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jbm/matthew-4.html. 1886.

Lectionary Calendar
Monday, September 16th, 2019
the Week of Proper 19 / Ordinary 24
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