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17 From that time Jesus began to proclaim, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.”

Jesus Calls the First Disciples

18 As he walked by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea—for they were fishermen. 19And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fish for people.” 20Immediately they left their nets and followed him. 21As he went from there, he saw two other brothers, James son of Zebedee and his brother John, in the boat with their father Zebedee, mending their nets, and he called them. 22Immediately they left the boat and their father, and followed him.

 

Jesus Ministers to Crowds of People

23 Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and curing every disease and every sickness among the people. 24So his fame spread throughout all Syria, and they brought to him all the sick, those who were afflicted with various diseases and pains, demoniacs, epileptics, and paralytics, and he cured them. 25And great crowds followed him from Galilee, the Decapolis, Jerusalem, Judea, and from beyond the Jordan.


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13. And having left Nazareth I have thought it proper to introduce this passage of Matthew, immediately after Luke’s narrative, which we have just examined; because we may gather from the context that, as Christ had hitherto been wont to frequent the town of Nazareth, so, in order to avoid danger, he now bade a final adieu to it, and dwelt in Capernaum and the neighboring towns. There would be no difficulty in this history, were it not that there is some appearance, as if Matthew had put a wrong meaning on the quotation from the prophet. But if we attend to the true meaning of the prophet, it will appear to be properly and naturally accommodated to the present occasion. Isaiah, after having described a very heavy calamity of the nation, soothes their grief by a promise that, when the nation shall be reduced to extremity, a deliverance will immediately follow, which shall dispel the darkness, and restore the light of life.

The words are:

“Nevertheless, the dimness shall not be such as was in her vexation, when at the first he lightly afflicted the land of Zebulun, and the land of Naphtali, and afterward did more grievously afflict her by the way of the sea, beyond Jordan, in Galilee of the nations. The people that walked in darkness shall see a great light” (Isaiah 9:1,2.)

The Israelites had been twice visited by a heavy calamity: first, when four tribes, or thereby, were carried away into banishment, by Tiglath-Pileser, (2 Kings 15:29;) and, secondly, when Shalmaneser completed the destruction of the kingdom of Israel, (2 Kings 18:9.) There remained a third desolation, which — the prophet had foretold towards the close of the eighth chapter — would be the most dreadful of all. And now follows, in the words which we have quoted, what is calculated to soothe their grief. God will stretch out his hand to his people, and, therefore, death will be more tolerable than the previous diseases were. Though the whole nation,” says he, “shall be destroyed, yet so brilliant shall be the light of grace, that there will be less dimness in this last destruction than in the two former instances, when the ten tribes were ruined.”

The promise ought to be extended, I have no doubt, to the whole body of the people, which might seem to be, to all appearance, lost and destroyed. It is very absurd in the Jews to confine it to the deliverance of the city of Jerusalem. as if the light of life had been restored to it, when the siege was raised by the flight of King Sennacherib,331331     “Lors que le Roy Sennacherib fut contreint de lever le siege de de-rant, et s'enfuir honteusement.” — “When King Sennacherib was compelled to raise the siege, and to fly disgracefully.” (2 Kings 19: 36.) Certainly, it is evident from the context, that the prophet looks much farther; and, as he promises a universal restoration of the whole church, it follows that the land of Zebulun, and the land of Naphtali, and Galilee of the Gentiles, are included in the number of those, to whom the darkness of death would be changed into the light of life. The commencement of this light, and, as we might say, the dawn, was the return of the people from Babylon. At length, Christ, the Sun of Righteousness,” (Malachi 4:2,) arose in full splendor, and, by his coming, utterly “abolished” (2 Timothy 1:10) the darkness of death.

In the same manner, Paul reminds us, that it was a fulfillment of what occurs in many passages of the prophets, Awake, thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead,” (Ephesians 5:14.) Now, we know that the kingdom of Christ is spiritual, and, therefore, the light of salvation which it brings, and all the assistance which we derive from it, must correspond to its nature. Hence it follows, that our souls are plunged in the darkness of everlasting death, till he enlightens them by his grace. The prophet’s discourse relates, no doubt, to the destruction of the nation, but presents to us, as in a mirror, what is the condition of mankind, until they are delivered by the grace of Christ. When those, who lay in darkness, are said to have seen a great light, a change so sudden and remarkable is intended to enlarge our views of the greatness of the divine salvation. Lower Galilee is called Galilee of the Gentiles, not only on account of its vicinity to Tyre and Sidon, but because its inhabitants were a mixture of Jews and Gentiles, particularly after that David had granted some cities to King Hiram.332332     This appears to refer to a gift, not of David, but of Solomon: for we are told, (1 Kings 9:11,) that” King Solomon gave Hiram twenty cities in the land of Galilee.” Ed.

Matthew 4:18. And Jesus walking. As this history is placed by Luke after the two miracles, which we shall afterwards see, an opinion has commonly prevailed, that the miracle, which is here related by him, was performed some time after that they had been called by Christ.336336     “Quelque temps apresque Jesus Christ ent appelle a soy Pierre, Andre, Jean, et Jaques.” — “Some time after that Jesus Christ had called to himself Peter, Andrew, John, and James.” But the reason, which they allege, carries little weight: for no fixed and distinct order of dates was observed by the Evangelists in composing their narratives. The consequence is, that they disregard the order of time, and satisfy themselves with presenting, in a summary manner, the leading transactions in the life of Christ. They attended, no doubt, to the years, so as to make it plain to their readers, in what manner Christ was employed, during the course of three years, from the commencement of his preaching till his death. But miracles, which took place nearly about the same time, are freely intermixed: which will afterwards appear more clearly from many examples.337337     “Ils ne s'amusent pas, esplucher de pres lequel est le premier, ou le second.” “They do not give themselves the trouble of investigating closely which is first or second.”

That it is the same history, which is given by the three Evangelists, is proved by many arguments: but we may mention one, which will be sufficient to satisfy any reader, who is not contentious. All the three agree in stating, that Peter and Andrew, James and John, were made apostles. If they had been previously called, it would follow that they were apostates, who had forsaken their Master, despised their calling, and returned to their former occupation. There is only this difference between Luke and the other two, that he alone relates the miracle, which the others omit. But it is not uncommon with the Evangelists, to touch slightly one part of a transaction, and to leave out many of the circumstances. There is, therefore, no absurdity in saying, that a miracle, which is related by one, has been passed over by the other two. And we must bear in mind what John says, that, out of the innumerable miracles “which Jesus did,” (John 21:25,) a part only has been selected, which was sufficient to prove his divine power, and to confirm our faith in him. There is therefore no reason to wonder, if the calling of the four apostles is slightly touched by Matthew and Mark, while the occasion of it is more fully explained by Luke.

Matthew 4:22. And they immediately left the ship. The first thing that strikes us here is the power of Christ’s voice. Not that his voice alone makes so powerful an impression on the hearts of men: but those whom the Lord is pleased to lead and draw to himself, are inwardly addressed by his Spirit, that they may obey his voice. The second is, the commendation bestowed on the docility and ready obedience of his disciples, who prefer the call of Christ to all worldly affairs. The ministers of the Word ought, in a particular manner, to be directed by this example, to lay aside all other occupations, and to devote themselves unreservedly to the Church, to which they are appointed.

Matthew 4:23. And Jesus went about all Galilee. The same statement is again made by Matthew in another place, (9:35.) But though Christ was constantly employed in performing almost innumerable miracles, we ought not to think it strange, that they are again mentioned, twice or thrice, in a general manner. In the words of Matthew we ought, first, to observe, that Christ never remained in one place, but scattered every where the seed of the Gospel. Again, Matthew calls it the Gospel of the kingdom, by which the kingdom of God is established among men for their salvation. True and eternal happiness is thus distinguished from the prosperity and joys of the present life.

When Matthew says, that Christ healed every disease, the meaning is, that he healed every kind of disease. We know, that all who were diseased were not cured; but there was no class of diseases, that was ever presented to him, which he did not heal. An enumeration is given of particular kinds of diseases, in which Christ displayed his power. Demoniacs (διαμονιζομένοι) is a name given in Scripture, not to all indiscriminately who are tormented by the devil, but to those who, by a secret vengeance of God, are given up to Satan, so that he holds possession of their minds and of their bodily senses. Lunatics (σεληνιαζομένοι)342342     Σεληνιάζομαι, like the adjective σεληνιαχὸς, is derived from σελήνη, the moon. Among, the Greeks and Romans, as well as among the Jews, certain violent diseases, the variations of which could not be easily explained, were supposed to be affected by the phases of the moon. Till lately, mental derangement was universally believed among ourselves to be influenced by similar causes; if indeed there be not some who still defend that opinion by plausible arguments. Scripture was not. intended to determine questions of physical science, in which inductive reasoning is a sufficient guide, but to declare those truths, which could never have been known without an express revelation. The term σεληνιαζομένοι, in this and similar passages, does not imply, that the sacred writers supported the common opinion, any more than the English word lunatic, used with equal freedom by philosophers and by the unlearned, countenances an exploded theory, — any more, in short, than the popular use of the phrases, the rising and setting of the sun, expresses a belief that it is the motion of the sun, and not of the earth, that produces the succession of day and night. — Ed. is the name given to those, in whom the strength of the disease increases or diminishes, according to the waxing or waning of the moon, such as those who are afflicted with epilepsy,343343     “Comitiali morbo.” The Romans gave the name of comitialis morbus to this disease, in consequence of the singular fact, that their comitia, or public assemblies, were instantly broken up, when any one present was seized with a fit of epilepsy. Ed. or similar diseases. As we know, that diseases of this sort cannot be healed by natural means, it follows that, when Christ miraculously healed them, he proved his divinity.




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