Temptation of Christ. ( = Mr 1:12,
13; Lu 4:1-13).
1. Then—an indefinite note of sequence.
But Mark's word (Mr 1:12)
fixes what we should have presumed was meant, that it was "immediately"
after His baptism; and with this agrees the statement of Luke (Lu 4:1).
was Jesus led up—that is, from the low
Jordan valley to some more elevated spot.
of the Spirit—that blessed Spirit
immediately before spoken of as descending upon Him at His baptism, and
abiding upon Him. Luke, connecting these two scenes, as if the one were
but the sequel of the other, says, "Jesus, being full of the Holy
Ghost, returned from Jordan, and was led," &c. Mark's expression
has a startling sharpness about it—"Immediately the Spirit
driveth Him" (Mr 1:12),
"putteth," or "hurrieth Him forth," or "impelleth Him." (See the same
word in Mr 1:43; 5:40; Mt 9:25; 13:52; Joh
10:4). The thought thus
strongly expressed is the mighty constraining impulse of the Spirit
under which He went; while Matthew's more gentle expression, "was led
up," intimates how purely voluntary on His own part this action
into the wilderness—probably the wild
Judean desert. The particular spot which tradition has fixed upon has
hence got the name of Quarantana or Quarantaria, from the
forty days—"an almost perpendicular wall of rock twelve or
fifteen hundred feet above the plain" [Robinson, Palestine]. The supposition of
those who incline to place the temptation amongst the mountains of Moab
is, we think, very improbable.
to be tempted—The Greek word
(peirazein) means simply to try or make proof of; and
when ascribed to God in His dealings with men, it means, and can mean
no more than this. Thus, Ge 22:1, "It
came to pass that God did tempt Abraham," or put his faith to a severe
proof. (See De 8:2). But
for the most part in Scripture the word is used in a bad sense, and
means to entice, solicit, or provoke to sin. Hence the name here given
to the wicked one—"the tempter" (Mt 4:3). Accordingly "to be tempted" here is to
be understood both ways. The Spirit conducted Him into the wilderness
simply to have His faith tried; but as the agent in this trial
was to be the wicked one, whose whole object would be to seduce Him
from His allegiance to God, it was a temptation in the bad sense
of the term. The unworthy inference which some would draw from this is
energetically repelled by an apostle (Jas 1:13-17).
of the devil—The word signifies a
slanderer—one who casts imputations upon another. Hence that
other name given him (Re 12:10),
"The accuser of the brethren, who accuseth them before our God day and
night." Mark (Mr 1:13)
says, "He was forty days tempted of Satan," a word signifying an
adversary, one who lies in wait for, or sets himself in
opposition to another. These and other names of the same fallen spirit
point to different features in his character or operations. What was
the high design of this? First, as we judge, to give our Lord a taste
of what lay before Him in the work He had undertaken; next, to make
trial of the glorious equipment for it which He had just received;
further, to give Him encouragement, by the victory now to be won, to go
forward spoiling principalities and powers, until at length He should
make a show of them openly, triumphing over them in His cross: that the
tempter, too, might get a taste, at the very outset, of the new kind of
material in man which he would find he had here to deal with;
finally, that He might acquire experimental ability "to succor them
that are tempted" (Heb 2:18).
The temptation evidently embraced two stages: the one continuing
throughout the forty days' fast; the other, at the conclusion of that
2. And when he had fasted forty days and forty
nights—Luke says "When they were quite ended" (Lu 4:2).
he was afterward an hungered—evidently
implying that the sensation of hunger was unfelt during all the forty
days; coming on only at their close. So it was apparently with Moses
34:28) and Elijah (1Ki 19:8) for the same period. A
supernatural power of endurance was of course imparted to the body, but
this probably operated through a natural law—the absorption of
the Redeemer's Spirit in the dread conflict with the tempter. (See on
Ac 9:9). Had we only this Gospel, we should
suppose the temptation did not begin till after this. But it is clear,
from Mark's statement, that "He was in the wilderness forty days
tempted of Satan" (Mr 1:13), and
Luke's, "being forty days tempted of the devil" (Lu 4:2), that there was a forty days'
temptation before the three specific temptations afterwards
recorded. And this is what we have called the First Stage. What the
precise nature and object of the forty days' temptation were is not
recorded. But two things seem plain enough. First, the tempter had
utterly failed of his object, else it had not been renewed; and the
terms in which he opens his second attack imply as much. But further,
the tempter's whole object during the forty days evidently was to get
Him to distrust the heavenly testimony borne to Him at His baptism as
THE Son of God—to persuade Him to
regard it as but a splendid illusion—and, generally, to dislodge
from His breast the consciousness of His Sonship. With what
plausibility the events of His previous history from the beginning
would be urged upon Him in support of this temptation it is easy to
imagine. And it makes much in support of this view of the forty days'
temptation that the particulars of it are not recorded; for how the
details of such a purely internal struggle could be recorded it is hard
to see. If this be correct, how naturally does the Second Stage of the temptation open! In Mark's brief
notice of the temptation there is one expressive particular not given
either by Matthew or by Luke—that "He was with the wild beasts"
1:12), no doubt to add terror
to solitude, and aggravate the horrors of the whole scene.
3. And when the tempter came to
him—Evidently we have here a new scene.
he said, if thou be the Son of God, command that
these stones be made bread—rather, "loaves," answering to
"stones" in the plural; whereas Luke, having said, "Command this
stone," in the singular, adds, "that it be made bread," in the singular
(Lu 4:3). The sensation of hunger, unfelt
during all the forty days, seems now to have come on in all its
keenness—no doubt to open a door to the tempter, of which he is
not slow to avail himself; "Thou still clingest to that vainglorious
confidence that Thou art the Son of God, carried away by those illusory
scenes at the Jordan. Thou wast born in a stable; but Thou art the Son
of God! hurried off to Egypt for fear of Herod's wrath; but Thou art
the Son of God! a carpenter's roof supplied Thee with a home, and in
the obscurity of a despicable town of Galilee Thou hast spent thirty
years, yet still Thou art the Son of God! and a voice from heaven, it
seems, proclaimed it in Thine ears at the Jordan! Be it so; but after
that, surely Thy days of obscurity and trial should have an end.
Why linger for weeks in this desert, wandering among the wild beasts
and craggy rocks, unhonored, unattended, unpitied, ready to starve for
want of the necessaries of life? Is this befitting "the Son of God?" At
the bidding of "the Son of God" surely those stones shall all be turned
into loaves, and in a moment present an abundant repast."
4. But he answered and said, It is
Man shall not live by bread alone—more
emphatically, as in the Greek, "Not by bread alone shall man
but by every word that proceedeth out of the
mouth of God—Of all passages in Old Testament Scripture, none
could have been pitched upon more apposite, perhaps not one so
apposite, to our Lord's purpose. "The Lord … led thee (said Moses
to Israel, at the close of their journeyings) these forty years in the
wilderness, to humble thee, and to prove thee, to know what was in
thine heart, whether thou wouldest keep His commandments, or no. And He
humbled thee, and suffered thee to hunger, and fed thee with manna,
which thou knewest not, neither did thy fathers know; that He might
make thee know that man doth not live by bread only," &c., "Now, if
Israel spent, not forty days, but forty years in a waste, howling
wilderness, where there were no means of human subsistence, not
starving, but divinely provided for, on purpose to prove to every age
that human support depends not upon bread, but upon God's unfailing
word of promise and pledge of all needful providential care, am I,
distrusting this word of God, and despairing of relief, to take the law
into My own hand? True, the Son of God is able enough to turn stones
into bread: but what the Son of God is able to do is not the present
question, but what is man's duty under want of the necessaries
of life. And as Israel's condition in the wilderness did not justify
their unbelieving murmurings and frequent desperation, so neither would
Mine warrant the exercise of the power of the Son of God in snatching
despairingly at unwarranted relief. As man, therefore, I will await
divine supply, nothing doubting that at the fitting time it will
arrive." The second temptation in this Gospel is in Luke's the
third. That Matthew's order is the right one will appear, we
think, quite clearly in the sequel.
5. Then the devil taketh him up—rather,
into the holy city—so called (as in
48:2; Ne 11:1) from its being
"the city of the Great King," the seat of the temple, the metropolis of
all Jewish worship.
and setteth him on a pinnacle of the
temple—rather, "the pinnacle"—a certain well-known
projection. Whether this refers to the highest summit of the temple,
which bristled with golden spikes [Josephus, Antiquities, 5.5,6]; or whether it
refers to another peak, on Herod's royal portico, overhanging the
ravine of Kedron, at the valley of Hinnom—an immense tower built
on the very edge of this precipice, from the top of which dizzy height
Josephus says one could not look to the
bottom [Antiquities, 15.11,5]—is not certain; but the
latter is probably meant.
6. And saith unto him, If thou be the Son of
God—As this temptation starts with the same point as the
first—our Lord's determination not to be disputed out of His
Sonship—it seems to us clear that the one came directly after the
other; and as the remaining temptation shows that the hope of carrying
that point was abandoned, and all was staked upon a desperate venture,
we think that remaining temptation is thus shown to be the last; as
will appear still more when we come to it.
cast thyself down—"from hence" (Lu 4:9).
for it is written—(Ps 91:11, 12). "But what is this I see?"
exclaims stately Bishop Hall. "Satan
himself with a Bible under his arm and a text in his mouth!" Doubtless
the tempter, having felt the power of God's Word in the former
temptation, was eager to try the effect of it from his own mouth (2Co 11:14).
He shall give his angels charge concerning thee:
and in their hands—rather, "on their hands."
they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou
dash thy foot against a stone—The quotation is, precisely as
it stands in the Hebrew and the Septuagint, save that
after the first clause the words, "to keep thee in all thy ways," are
here omitted. Not a few good expositors have thought that this omission
was intentional, to conceal the fact that this would not have
been one of "His ways," that is, of duty. But as our Lord's reply makes
no allusion to this, but seizes on the great principle involved in the
promise quoted, so when we look at the promise itself, it is plain that
the sense of it is precisely the same whether the clause in question be
inserted or not.
7. Jesus said unto him, It is written
again—(De 6:16), as
if he should say, "True, it is so written, and on that promise I
implicitly rely; but in using it there is another Scripture which must
not be forgotten."
Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy
God—"Preservation in danger is divinely pledged: shall I then
create danger, either to put the promised security skeptically
to the proof, or wantonly to demand a display of it? That were 'to
tempt the Lord my God,' which, being expressly forbidden, would forfeit
the right to expect preservation."
8. Again, the devil taketh him
up—"conducteth him," as before.
an exceeding high mountain, and showeth him all
the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them—Luke (Lu 4:5) adds the important clause, "in a moment
of time"; a clause which seems to furnish a key to the true meaning.
That a scene was presented to our Lord's natural eye seems plainly
expressed. But to limit this to the most extensive scene which the
natural eye could take in, is to give a sense to the expression, "all
the kingdoms of the world," quite violent. It remains, then, to gather
from the expression, "in a moment of time"—which manifestly is
intended to intimate some supernatural operation—that it was
permitted to the tempter to extend preternaturally for a moment our
Lord's range of vision, and throw a "glory" or glitter over the scene
of vision: a thing not inconsistent with the analogy of other
scriptural statements regarding the permitted operations of the wicked
one. In this case, the "exceeding height" of the "mountain" from which
this sight was beheld would favor the effect to be produced.
9. And saith unto him, All these things will I
give thee—"and the glory of them," adds Luke (Lu 4:6). But Matthew having already said that
this was "showed Him," did not need to repeat it here. Luke (Lu 4:6) adds these other very important
clauses, here omitted—"for that is," or "has been," "delivered
unto me, and to whomsoever I will I give it." Was this wholly false?
That were not like Satan's unusual policy, which is to insinuate his
lies under cover of some truth. What truth, then, is there here? We
answer, Is not Satan thrice called by our Lord Himself, "the prince of
this world" (Joh 12:31; 14:30; 16:11)? Does not the apostle call him "the god
of this world" (2Co 4:4)? And
still further, is it not said that Christ came to destroy by His death
"him that hath the power of death, that is, the devil" (Heb 2:14)? No doubt these passages only
express men's voluntary subjection to the rule of the wicked one while
they live, and his power to surround death to them, when it comes, with
all the terrors of the wages of sin. But as this is a real and terrible
sway, so all Scripture represents men as righteously sold under it. In
this sense he speaks what is not devoid of truth, when he says, "All
this is delivered unto me." But how does he deliver this "to whomsoever
he will?" As employing whomsoever he pleases of his willing subjects in
keeping men under his power. In this case his offer to our Lord was
that of a deputed supremacy commensurate with his own, though as
his gift and for his ends.
if thou wilt fall down and worship
me—This was the sole but monstrous condition. No Scripture,
it will be observed, is quoted now, because none could be found to
support so blasphemous a claim. In fact, he has ceased now to present
his temptations under the mask of piety, and he stands out unblushingly
as the rival of God Himself in his claims on the homage of men.
Despairing of success as an angel of light, he throws off all disguise,
and with a splendid bribe solicits divine honor. This again shows that
we are now at the last of the temptations, and that Matthew's order is
the true one.
10. Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence,
Satan—Since the tempter has now thrown off the mask, and
stands forth in his true character, our Lord no longer deals with him
as a pretended friend and pious counsellor, but calls him by his right
name—His knowledge of which from the outset He had carefully
concealed till now—and orders him off. This is the final and
conclusive evidence, as we think, that Matthew's must be the right
order of the temptations. For who can well conceive of the tempter's
returning to the assault after this, in the pious character again, and
hoping still to dislodge the consciousness of His Sonship, while our
Lord must in that case be supposed to quote Scripture to one He had
called the devil to his face—thus throwing His pearls before
worse than swine?
for it is written—(De 6:13). Thus does our Lord part with Satan on
the rock of Scripture.
Thou shalt worship—In the
Hebrew and the Septuagint it is, "Thou shalt
fear"; but as the sense is the same, so "worship" is here used
to show emphatically that what the tempter claimed was precisely what
God had forbidden.
the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou
serve—The word "serve" in the second clause, is one never
used by the Septuagint of any but religious service; and
in this sense exclusively is it used in the New Testament, as we find
it here. Once more the word "only," in the second clause—not
expressed in the Hebrew and the Septuagint—is here
added to bring out emphatically the negative and
prohibitory feature of the command. (See Ga 3:10 for a similar supplement of the word
"all" in a quotation from De 27:26).
11. Then the devil leaveth him—Luke
says, "And when the devil had exhausted"—or "quite ended," as in
Lu 4:2—"every (mode of) temptation,
he departed from him till a season." The definite "season" here
indicated is expressly referred to by our Lord in Joh 14:30
and Lu 22:52, 53.
and, behold, angels came and ministered unto
him—or supplied Him with food, as the same expression means
1:31 and Lu 8:3. Thus did
angels to Elijah (1Ki 19:5-8). Excellent critics think that they
ministered, not food only, but supernatural support and cheer also. But
this would be the natural effect rather than the direct
object of the visit, which was plainly what we have expressed.
And after having refused to claim the illegitimate ministration
of angels in His behalf, oh, with what deep joy would He accept their
services when sent, unasked, at the close of all this temptation,
direct from Him whom He had so gloriously honored! What "angels' food"
would this repast be to Him! and as He partook of it, might not a Voice
from heaven be heard again, by any who could read the Father's mind,
"Said I not well, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well
Mt 4:12-25. Christ Begins
His Galilean Ministry—Calling of
Peter and Andrew, James and John—His First Galilean Circuit. ( = Mr
1:14-20, 35-39; Lu 4:14, 15).
There is here a notable gap in the history,
which but for the fourth Gospel we should never have discovered. From
the former Gospels we should have been apt to draw three inferences,
which from the fourth one we know to be erroneous: First, that our Lord
awaited the close of John's ministry, by his arrest and imprisonment,
before beginning His own; next, that there was but a brief interval
between the baptism of our Lord and the imprisonment of John; and
further, that our Lord not only opened His work in Galilee, but never
ministered out of it, and never visited Jerusalem at all nor kept a
passover till He went thither to become "our Passover, sacrificed for
us." The fourth Gospel alone gives the true succession of events; not
only recording those important openings of our Lord's public work which
preceded the Baptist's imprisonment—extending to the end of the
third chapter—but so specifying the passover which occurred
during our Lord's ministry as to enable us to line off, with a large
measure of certainty, the events of the first three Gospels according
to the successive passovers which they embraced. Eusebius, the ecclesiastical historian, who, early
in the fourth century, gave much attention to this subject, in noticing
these features of the Evangelical Records, says [Ecclesiastical
History, 3.24] that John wrote his Gospel at the entreaty of those
who knew the important materials he possessed, and filled up what is
wanting in the first three Gospels. Why it was reserved for the fourth
Gospel, published at so late a period, to supply such important
particulars in the life of Christ, it is not easy to conjecture with
any probability. It may be, that though not unacquainted with the
general facts, they were not furnished with reliable details. But one
thing may be affirmed with tolerable certainty, that as our Lord's
teaching at Jerusalem was of a depth and grandeur scarcely so well
adapted to the prevailing character of the first three Gospels, but
altogether congenial to the fourth; and as the bare mention of the
successive passovers, without any account of the transactions and
discourses they gave rise to, would have served little purpose in the
first three Gospels, there may have been no way of preserving the unity
and consistency of each Gospel, so as to furnish by means of them all
the precious information we get from them, save by the plan on which
they are actually constructed.
Entry into Galilee (Mt 4:12-17).
12. Now when Jesus had heard that John was cast
into prison—more simply, "was delivered up," as recorded in
Mt 14:3-5; Mr 6:17-20; Lu 3:19, 20.
he departed—rather, "withdrew."
into Galilee—as recorded, in its
proper place, in Joh 4:1-3.
13. And leaving Nazareth—The prevalent
opinion is that this refers to a first visit to Nazareth after
His baptism, whose details are given by Luke (Lu 4:16, &c.); a second visit being
that detailed by our Evangelist (Mt 13:54-58), and by Mark (Mr 6:1-6). But to us there seem all but
insuperable difficulties in the supposition of two visits to Nazareth
after His baptism; and on the grounds stated in Lu 4:16, &c., we think that the one only
visit to Nazareth is that recorded by Matthew (Mt 13:53-58), Mark (Mr 6:1-6), and Luke (Lu 4:14-30). But how, in that case, are we to
take the word "leaving Nazareth" here? We answer, just as the
same word is used in Ac 21:3, "Now
when we had sighted Cyprus, and left it on the left, we sailed
into Syria,"—that is, without entering Cyprus at all, but merely
"sighting" it, as the nautical phrase is, they steered southeast of it,
leaving it on the northwest. So here, what we understand the Evangelist
to say is, that Jesus, on His return to Galilee, did not, as might have
been expected, make Nazareth the place of His stated residence, but,
"leaving [or passing by] Nazareth,"
he came and dwelt in Capernaum, which is upon
the seacoast—maritime Capernaum, on the northwest shore of
the Sea of Galilee; but the precise spot is unknown. (See on Mt 11:23). Our Lord seems to have chosen it for several
reasons. Four or five of the Twelve lived there; it had a considerable
and mixed population, securing some freedom from that intense bigotry
which even to this day characterizes all places where Jews in large
numbers dwell nearly alone; it was centrical, so that not only on the
approach of the annual festivals did large numbers pass through it or
near it, but on any occasion multitudes could easily be collected about
it; and for crossing and recrossing the lake, which our Lord had so
often occasion to do, no place could be more convenient. But one other
high reason for the choice of Capernaum remains to be mentioned, the
only one specified by our Evangelist.
in the borders of Zabulon and
Nephthalim—the one lying to the west of the Sea of Galilee,
the other to the north of it; but the precise boundaries cannot now be
14. That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by
Esaias the prophet—(Isa 9:1, 2 or, as in Hebrew, Isaiah 8:23,
15. The land of Zabulon, and the land of
Nephthalim, by the way of the sea—the coast skirting
the Sea of Galilee westward—beyond Jordan—a phrase commonly
meaning eastward of Jordan; but here and in several places it means
westward of the Jordan. The word seems to have got the general meaning
of "the other side"; the nature of the case determining which side that
Galilee of the Gentiles—so called from
its position, which made it the frontier between the Holy Land and the
external world. While Ephraim and Judah, as Stanley says, were separated from the world by the
Jordan valley on one side and the hostile Philistines on another, the
northern tribes were in the direct highway of all the invaders from the
north, in unbroken communication with the promiscuous races who have
always occupied the heights of Lebanon, and in close and peaceful
alliance with the most commercial nation of the ancient world, the
Phœnicians. Twenty of the cities of Galilee were actually annexed
by Solomon to the adjacent kingdom of Tyre, and formed, with their
territory, the "boundary" or "offscouring" (Gebul or
Cabul) of the two dominions—at a later time still known by
the general name of "the boundaries (coasts or borders) of Tyre and
Sidon." In the first great transportation of the Jewish population,
Naphtali and Galilee suffered the same fate as the trans-jordanic
tribes before Ephraim or Judah had been molested (2Ki 15:29). In the time of the Christian era this
original disadvantage of their position was still felt; the speech of
the Galileans "bewrayed them" by its uncouth pronunciation (Mt 26:73); and their distance from the
seats of government and civilization at Jerusalem and Cæsarea gave
them their character for turbulence or independence, according as it
was viewed by their friends or their enemies.
16. The people which sat in darkness saw great
light; and to them which sat in the region and shadow of death light is
sprung up—The prophetic strain to which these words belong
commences with the seventh chapter of Isaiah, to which the sixth
chapter is introductory, and goes down to the end of the twelfth
chapter, which hymns the spirit of that whole strain of prophecy. It
belongs to the reign of Ahaz and turns upon the combined efforts of the
two neighboring kingdoms of Syria and Israel to crush Judah. In these
critical circumstances Judah and her king were, by their ungodliness,
provoking the Lord to sell them into the hands of their enemies. What,
then, is the burden of this prophetic strain, on to the passage here
quoted? First, Judah shall not, cannot perish, because Immanuel, the Virgin's Son, is to come forth from
his loins. Next, one of the invaders shall soon perish, and the
kingdoms of neither be enlarged. Further, while the Lord will be the
Sanctuary of such as confide in these promises and await their
fulfilment, He will drive to confusion, darkness, and despair the vast
multitude of the nation who despised His oracles, and, in their anxiety
and distress, betook themselves to the lying oracles of the heathen.
This carries us down to the end of the eighth chapter. At the opening
of the ninth chapter a sudden light is seen breaking in upon one
particular part of the country, the part which was to suffer most in
these wars and devastations—"the land of Zebulun, and the land of
Naphtali, the way of the sea, beyond Jordan, Galilee and the Gentiles."
The rest of the prophecy stretches over both the Assyrian and the
Chaldean captivities and terminates in the glorious Messianic prophecy
of the eleventh chapter and the choral hymn of the twelfth chapter.
Well, this is the point seized on by our Evangelist. By Messiah's
taking up His abode in those very regions of Galilee, and shedding His
glorious light upon them, this prediction, He says, of the Evangelical
prophet was now fulfilled; and if it was not thus fulfilled, we may
confidently affirm it was not fulfilled in any age of the Jewish
ceremony, and has received no fulfilment at all. Even the most
rationalistic critics have difficulty in explaining it in any other
17. From that time Jesus began to preach, and to
say, Repent; for the kingdom of heaven is at hand—Thus did
our Lord not only take up the strain, but give forth the identical
summons of His honored forerunner. Our Lord sometimes speaks of the new
kingdom as already come—in His own Person and ministry; but the
economy of it was only "at hand" until the blood of the cross
was shed, and the Spirit on the day of Pentecost opened the fountain
for sin and for uncleanness to the world at large.
Calling of Peter and Andrew James and John
18. And Jesus, walking—The word "Jesus"
here appears not to belong to the text, but to have been introduced
from those portions of it which were transcribed to be used as church
lessons; where it was naturally introduced as a connecting word at the
commencement of a lesson.
by the Sea of Galilee, saw two brethren, Simon
called Peter and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea; for
they were fishers—"called Peter" for the reason mentioned in
19. And he saith unto them, Follow
me—rather, as the same expression is rendered in Mark, "Come
ye after Me" (Mr 1:17).
and I will make you fishers of
men—raising them from a lower to a higher fishing, as
David was from a lower to a higher feeding (Ps 78:70-72).
20. And they straightway left their nets, and
21. And going on from thence, he saw other two
brethren, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in a
ship—rather, "in the ship," their fishing boat.
with Zebedee their father, mending their nets:
and he called them.
22. And they immediately left the ship and their
father—Mark adds an important clause: "They left their father
Zebedee in the ship with the hired servants" (Mr 1:20); showing that the family were in easy
and followed him—Two harmonistic
questions here arise: First, Was this the same calling as that
recorded in Joh 1:35-42? Clearly not. For, (1) That call was
given while Jesus was yet in Judea: this, after His return to Galilee.
(2) Here, Christ calls Andrew: there, Andrew solicits an interview with
Christ. (3) Here, Andrew and Peter are called together: there, Andrew
having been called, with an unnamed disciple, who was clearly the
beloved disciple (see on Joh 1:40), goes and
fetches Peter his brother to Christ, who then calls him. (4) Here, John
is called along with James his brother: there, John is called along
with Andrew, after having at their own request had an interview with
Jesus; no mention being made of James, whose call, if it then took
place, would not likely have been passed over by his own brother. Thus
far nearly all are agreed. But on the next question opinion is
divided: Was this the same calling as that recorded in Lu 5:1-11? Many able critics think so. But the
following considerations are to us decisive against it. First here, the
four are called separately, in pairs: in Luke, all together. Next, in
Luke, after a glorious miracle: here, the one pair are casting their
net, the other are mending theirs. Further, here, our Lord had made no
public appearance in Galilee, and so had gathered none around Him; He
is walking solitary by the shores of the lake when He accosts the two
pairs of fishermen: in Luke, the multitude are pressing upon Him, and
hearing the word of God, as He stands by the Lake of Gennesaret—a
state of things implying a somewhat advanced stage of His early
ministry, and some popular enthusiasm. Regarding these successive
callings, see on Lu 5:1.
First Galilean Circuit (Mt 4:23-25).
23. And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in
their synagogues—These were houses of local worship. It
cannot be proved that they existed before the Babylonish captivity; but
as they began to be erected soon after it, probably the idea was
suggested by the religious inconveniences to which the captives had
been subjected. In our Lord's time, the rule was to have one wherever
ten learned men or professed students of the law resided; and they
extended to Syria, Asia Minor, Greece, and most places of the
dispersion. The larger towns had several, and in Jerusalem the number
approached five hundred. In point of officers and mode of worship, the
Christian congregations are modelled after the synagogue.
and preaching the gospel of the
kingdom—proclaiming the glad tidings of the kingdom,
and healing all manner of
and all manner of disease among the
people—every complaint. The word means any incipient malady
24. And his fame went throughout all
Syria—reaching first to the part of it adjacent to Galilee,
called Syro-Phœnicia (Mr 7:26), and
thence extending far and wide.
and they brought unto him all sick
people—all that were ailing or unwell. Those
that were taken—for this is a distinct
class, not an explanation of the "unwell" class, as our translators
with divers diseases and torments—that
is, acute disorders.
and those which were possessed with
devils—that were demonized or possessed with demons.
and those which were
and those that had the
palsy—paralytics, a word not naturalized when our version was
and he healed them—These healings were
at once His credentials and illustrations of "the glad tidings" which
He proclaimed. After reading this account of our Lord's first preaching
tour, can we wonder at what follows?
25. And there followed him great multitudes of
people from Galilee, and from Decapolis—a region lying to the
east of the Jordan, so called as containing ten cities, founded and
chiefly inhabited by Greek settlers.
and from Jerusalem, and from beyond
Jordan—meaning from Perea. Thus not only was all Palestine
upheaved, but all the adjacent regions. But the more immediate object
for which this is here mentioned is, to give the reader some idea both
of the vast concourse and of the varied complexion of eager attendants
upon the great Preacher, to whom the astonishing discourse of the next
three chapters was addressed. On the importance which our Lord Himself
attached to this first preaching circuit, and the preparation which He
made for it, see on Mr 1:35-39.