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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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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 (Mt 4:18-22).

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 Mt 16:18.

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 followed him.

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 circumstances.

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 sickness—every disease.

and all manner of disease among the people—every complaint. The word means any incipient malady causing "softness."

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 understood it.

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 lunatic—moon-struck.

and those that had the palsy—paralytics, a word not naturalized when our version was made.

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.