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Word Pictures in the New Testament
(Matthew: Chapter 4)

4:1 {To be tempted of the devil} (\peirasthēnai hupo tou
. Matthew locates the temptation at a definite time,
"then" (\tote\) and place, "into the wilderness" (\eis tēn
, the same general region where John was preaching. It is
not surprising that Jesus was tempted by the devil immediately
after his baptism which signified the formal entrance upon the
Messianic work. That is a common experience with ministers who
step out into the open for Christ. The difficulty here is that
Matthew says that "Jesus was led up into the wilderness by the
Spirit to be tempted by the devil." Mark (Mr 1:12) puts it more
strongly that the Spirit "drives" (\ekballei\) Christ into the
wilderness. It was a strong impulsion by the Holy Spirit that led
Jesus into the wilderness to think through the full significance
of the great step that he had now taken. That step opened the
door for the devil and involved inevitable conflict with the
slanderer (\tou diabolou\). Judas has this term applied to him
(Joh 6:70) as it is to men (2Ti 3:3; Tit 2:3) and women (she
devils, 1Ti 3:11)
who do the work of the arch slanderer. There
are those today who do not believe that a personal devil exists,
but they do not offer an adequate explanation of the existence
and presence of sin in the world. Certainly Jesus did not
discount or deny the reality of the devil's presence. The word
"tempt" here (\peirazō\) and in 4:3 means originally to test,
to try. That is its usual meaning in the ancient Greek and in the
Septuagint. Bad sense of \ekpeirazō\ in 4:7 as in De 6:16.
Here it comes to mean, as often in the New Testament, to solicit
to sin. The evil sense comes from its use for an evil purpose.

4:2 {Had fasted} (\nēsteusas\). No perfunctory ceremonial fast,
but of communion with the Father in complete abstention from food
as in the case of Moses during forty days and forty nights (Ex
. "The period of the fast, as in the case of Moses was
spent in a spiritual ecstasy, during which the wants of the
natural body were suspended" (Alford). "He afterward hungered"
and so at the close of the period of forty days.

4:3 {If thou art the Son of God} (\ei huios ei tou theou\). More
exactly, "If thou art Son of God," for there is no article with
"Son." The devil is alluding to the words of the Father to Jesus
at the baptism: "This is my Son the Beloved." He challenges this
address by a condition of the first class which assumes the
condition to be true and deftly calls on Jesus to exercise his
power as Son of God to appease his hunger and thus prove to
himself and all that he really is what the Father called him.
{Become bread} (\artoi genōntai\). Literally, "that these stones
(round smooth stones which possibly the devil pointed to or even
picked up and held)
become loaves" (each stone a loaf). It was
all so simple, obvious, easy. It would satisfy the hunger of
Christ and was quite within his power. {It is written}
(\gegraptai\). Perfect passive indicative, stands written and is
still in force. Each time Jesus quotes Deuteronomy to repel the
subtle temptation of the devil. Here it is De 8:3 from the
Septuagint. Bread is a mere detail (Bruce) in man's dependence
upon God.

4:5 {Then the devil taketh him} (\tote paralambanei auton ho
. Matthew is very fond of this temporal adverb
(\tote\). See already 2:7; 3:13; 4:1,5. Note historic present
with vivid picturesqueness. Luke puts this temptation third, the
geographical order. But was the person of Christ allowed to be at
the disposal of the devil during these temptations? Alford so
holds. {On the pinnacle of the temple} (\epi to pterugion tou
. Literally "wing:" the English word "pinnacle" is from
the Latin _pinnaculum_, a diminutive of _pinna_ (wing). "_The
temple_" (\tou hierou\) here includes the whole temple area, not
just the sanctuary (\ho naos\), the Holy Place and Most Holy
Place. It is not clear what place is meant by "wing." It may
refer to Herod's royal portico which overhung the Kedron Valley
and looked down some four hundred and fifty feet, a dizzy height
(Josephus, _Ant_. XV. xi. 5). This was on the south of the temple
court. Hegesippus says that James the Lord's brother was later
placed on the wing of the temple and thrown down therefrom.

4:6 {Cast thyself down} (\bale seauton katō\). The appeal to hurl
himself down into the abyss below would intensify the nervous
dread that most people feel at such a height. The devil urged
presumptuous reliance on God and quotes Scripture to support his
view (Ps 91:11f.). So the devil quotes the Word of God,
misinterprets it, omits a clause, and tries to trip the Son of
God by the Word of God. It was a skilful thrust and would also be
accepted by the populace as proof that Jesus was the Messiah if
they should see him sailing down as if from heaven. This would be
a sign from heaven in accord with popular Messianic expectation.
The promise of the angels the devil thought would reassure Jesus.
They would be a spiritual parachute for Christ.

4:7 {Thou shall not tempt} (\ouk ekpeiraseis\). Jesus quotes
Deuteronomy again (De 6:16) and shows that the devil has wholly
misapplied God's promise of protection.

4:8 {And showeth him} (\kai deiknusin autōi\). This wonderful
panorama had to be partially mental and imaginative, since the
devil caused to pass in review "all the kingdoms of the world and
the glory of them." But this fact does not prove that all phases
of the temptations were subjective without any objective presence
of the devil. Both could be true. Here again we have the vivid
historical present (\deiknusin\). The devil now has Christ upon a
very high mountain whether the traditional Quarantania or not. It
was from Nebo's summit that Moses caught the vision of the land
of Canaan (De 34:1-3). Luke (Lu 4:5) says that the whole
panorama was "in a moment of time" and clearly psychological and

4:9 {All these things will I give thee} (\tauta soi panta dōsō\).
The devil claims the rule of the world, not merely of Palestine
or of the Roman Empire. "The kingdoms of the cosmos" (4:8) were
under his sway. This word for world brings out the orderly
arrangement of the universe while \hē oikoumenē\ presents the
inhabited earth. Jesus does not deny the grip of the devil on the
world of men, but the condition (\ean\ and aorist subjunctive,
second class undetermined with likelihood of determination)
, was
spurned by Jesus. As Matthew has it Jesus is plainly to "fall
down and worship me" (\pesōn prokunēsēis moi\), while Luke (Lu
puts it, "worship before me" (\enōpion emou\), a less
offensive demand, but one that really involved worship of the
devil. The ambition of Jesus is thus appealed to at the price of
recognition of the devil's primacy in the world. It was
compromise that involved surrender of the Son of God to the world
ruler of this darkness. "The temptation was threefold: to gain a
temporal, not a spiritual, dominion; to gain it at once; and to
gain it by an act of homage to the ruler of this world, which
would make the self-constituted Messiah the vice-regent of the
devil and not of God" (McNeile).

4:10 {Get thee hence, Satan} (\Hupage, Satanā\). The words
"behind me" (\opisō mou\) belong to Mt 16:23, not here.
"Begone" Christ says to Satan. This temptation is the limit of
diabolical suggestion and argues for the logical order in
Matthew. "Satan" means the adversary and Christ so terms the
devil here. The third time Jesus quotes Deuteronomy, this time
De 6:13, and repels the infamous suggestion by Scripture
quotation. The words "him alone thou shalt serve" need be
recalled today. Jesus will warn men against trying to serve God
and mammon (Mt 6:24). The devil as the lord of the evil world
constantly tries to win men to the service of the world and God.
This is his chief camouflage for destroying a preacher's power
for God. The word here in Mt 4:10 for serve is \latreuseis\
from \latris\ a hired servant, one who works for hire, then
render worship.

4:11 {Then the devil leaveth him} (\tote aphiēsin auton ho
. Note the use of "then" (\tote\) again and the
historical present. The movement is swift. "And behold" (\kai
as so often in Matthew carries on the life-like picture.
"{Angels came} (aorist tense \prosēlthon\ punctiliar action) {and
were ministering}
(\diēkonoun\, picturesque imperfect, linear
{unto him}." The victory was won in spite of the fast of
forty days and the repeated onsets of the devil who had tried
every avenue of approach. The angels could cheer him in the
inevitable nervous and spiritual reaction from the strain of
conflict, and probably also with food as in the case of Elijah
(1Ki 19:6f.). The issues at stake were of vast import as the
champions of light and darkness grappled for the mastery of men.
Lu 4:13 adds, that the devil left Jesus only "until a good
opportunity" (\achri kairou\).

4:12 {Now when he heard} (\akousas de\). The reason for Christ's
return to Galilee is given here to be that John had been
delivered up into prison. The Synoptic Gospels skip from the
temptation of Jesus to the Galilean ministry, a whole year. But
for Joh 1:19-3:36 we should know nothing of the "year of
obscurity" (Stalker). John supplies items to help fill in the
picture. Christ's work in Galilee began after the close of the
active ministry of the Baptist who lingered on in prison for a
year or more.

4:13 {Dwelt in Capernaum} (\Katōikēsen eis Kapharnaoum\). He went
first to Nazareth, his old home, but was rejected there (Lu
. In Capernaum (probably the modern \Tell H–m\) Jesus
was in a large town, one of the centres of Galilean political and
commercial life, a fishing mart, where many Gentiles came. Here
the message of the kingdom would have a better chance than in
Jerusalem with its ecclesiastical prejudices or in Nazareth with
its local jealousies. So Jesus "made his home" (\katōikēsen\)

4:16 {Saw a great light} (\phōs eiden mega\). Matthew quotes Isa
9:1f., and applies the words about the deliverer from Assyria to
the Messiah. "The same district lay in spiritual darkness and
death and the new era dawned when Christ went thither" (McNeile).
Light sprang up from those who were sitting in the region and
shadow of death (\en chorāi kai skiāi thanatou\). Death is

4:17 {Began Jesus to preach} (\ērxato ho Iēsous kērussein\). In
Galilee. He had been preaching for over a year already elsewhere.
His message carries on the words of the Baptist about
"repentance" and the "kingdom of heaven" (Mt 3:2) being at
hand. The same word for "preaching" (\kērussein\) from \kērux\,
herald, is used of Jesus as of John. Both proclaimed the good
news of the kingdom. Jesus is more usually described as the
Teacher, (\ho didaskalos\) who taught (\edidasken\) the people.
He was both herald and teacher as every preacher should be.

4:18 {Casting a net into the sea} (\ballantas amphiblēstron eis
tēn thalassan\)
. The word here for net is a casting-net (compare
\amphiballō\ in Mr 1:16, casting on both sides)
. The net was
thrown over the shoulder and spread into a circle (\amphi\). In
4:20 and 4:21 another word occurs for nets (\diktua\), a word
used for nets of any kind. The large drag-net (\sagēnē\) appears
in Mt 13:47.

4:19 {Fishers of men} (\haleeis anthrōpōn\). Andrew and Simon
were fishers by trade. They had already become disciples of Jesus
(Joh 1:35-42), but now they are called upon to leave their
business and to follow Jesus in his travels and work. These two
brothers promptly (\eutheōs\) accepted the call and challenge of

4:21 {Mending their nets} (\katartizontas ta diktua autōn\).
These two brothers, James and John, were getting their nets ready
for use. The verb (\katartizō\) means to adjust, to articulate,
to mend if needed (Lu 6:40; Ro 9:22; Ga 6:1). So they promptly
left their boat and father and followed Jesus. They had also
already become disciples of Jesus. Now there are four who follow
him steadily.

4:23 {Went about in all Galilee} (\periēgen en holēi tēi
. Literally Jesus "was going around (imperfect) in all
Galilee." This is the first of the three tours of Galilee made by
Jesus. This time he took the four fishermen whom he had just
called to personal service. The second time he took the twelve.
On the third he sent the twelve on ahead by twos and followed
after them. He was teaching and preaching the gospel of the
kingdom in the synagogues chiefly and on the roads and in the
streets where Gentiles could hear. {Healing all manner of
diseases and all manner of sickness}
(\therapeuōn pāsan noson kai
pāsan malakian\)
. The occasional sickness is called \malakian\,
the chronic or serious disease \noson\.

4:24 {The report of him went forth into all Syria} (\apēlthen hē
akoē autou eis holēn tēn Syrian\)
. Rumour (\akoē\) carries things
almost like the wireless or radio. The Gentiles all over Syria to
the north heard of what was going on in Galilee. The result was
inevitable. Jesus had a moving hospital of patients from all over
Galilee and Syria. "{Those that were sick}" (\tous kakōs
, literally "those who had it bad," cases that the
doctors could not cure. "{Holden with divers diseases and
" (\poikilais nosois kai basanois sunechomenous\). "Held
together" or "compressed" is the idea of the participle. The same
word is used by Jesus in Lu 12:50 and by Paul in Php 1:23 and
of the crowd pressing on Jesus (Lu 8:45). They brought these
difficult and chronic cases (present tense of the participle
to Jesus. Instead of "divers" say "various" (\poikilais\)
like fever, leprosy, blindness. The adjective means literally
many colored or variegated like flowers, paintings, jaundice,
etc. Some had "torments" (\basanois\). The word originally
(oriental origin) meant a touchstone, "Lydian stone" used for
testing gold because pure gold rubbed on it left a peculiar mark.
Then it was used for examination by torture. Sickness was often
regarded as "torture." These diseases are further described "in a
descending scale of violence" (McNeile) as "demoniacs, lunatics,
and paralytics" as Moffatt puts it, "demoniacs, epileptics,
paralytics" as Weymouth has it, (\daimonizomenous kai
selēniazomenous kai paralutikous\)
, people possessed by demons,
lunatics or "moon-struck" because the epileptic seizures
supposedly followed the phases of the moon (Bruce) as shown also
in Mt 17:15, paralytics (our very word). Our word "lunatic" is
from the Latin _luna_ (moon) and carries the same picture as the
Greek \selēniazomai\ from \selēnē\ (moon). These diseases are
called "torments."

4:25 {Great multitudes} (\ochloi polloi\). Note the plural, not
just one crowd, but crowds and crowds. And from all parts of
Palestine including Decapolis, the region of the Ten Greek Cities
east of the Jordan. No political campaign was equal to this
outpouring of the people to hear Jesus and to be healed by Jesus.

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Word Pictures in the New Testament
(Matthew: Chapter 4)