Bible Commentaries
Matthew 4

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Verses 1-99

(3) 4:1-11. He was prepared for His ministry by temptation. An expansion of Mark 1:1; Mark 1:12Mark 1:12, Mark 1:13


(M) 1. Then was Jesus led into the wilderness by the Spirit to be tempted by the devil.] Mk. has: “And straightway the spirit driveth Him into the wilderness. And He was in the wilderness forty days, being tempted by Satan.”—τότε] For Mk.’s καὶ εὐθύς, see on 3:16.—ὁ Ἰησοῦς�


(M) 2. And having fasted forty days and forty nights, He was afterwards hungry.] Mk. has only the “forty days,” omitting the fasting and the hunger (which Lk. also has). But he has the obscure, “And he was with the wild beasts,” which Mt. omits. The verse reminds us of the fasting of Moses, Exodus 34:28. For the form ἐπείνασα, see Blass, pp. 40, 47. Lk. has: “And He ate nothing in those days; and when they were accomplished He was hungry.” Vv. 3-10 are not in Mk. Lk. has a parallel narrative, but the temptations are in a different order, and the descriptive verses differ in phraseology. There is also less verbal agreement here in the dialogue than there is in 3:7-12 = Luke 3:7-17. As in that case the two Evangelists may have drawn from independent written or oral sources.


(X) 3. And the tempter came and said to Him, If thou art God’s Son, say that these stones become loaves.] Lk. has: “And the devil said to Him, If thou art God’s Son, say to this stone that it become a loaf.”—καὶ προσελθὼν—εἶπεν] Lk. has εἶπεν δέ. προσέρχεσθαι a favourite word in Mt. It occurs 52 times: in Mar_6, in Luk_10.—ὁ πειράζων] a reminiscence of Mk.’s παραζόμενος—υἱὸς θεοῦ] Cf. Dalm. Words, 274 ff.—οἱ λίθοι] Lk. has the singular. For Mt.’s predilection for plurals, see on 8:26.


(X) 4. And He answered and said, It is written, Not upon bread alone shall man live, but upon every utterance that proceedeth through the mouth of God.] Lk. has: “And Jesus answered him, It is written that, Not upon bread alone shall man live.” The quotation is from Deuteronomy 8:3 in the language of the LXX. B has τῷ before ἐκπορευομένῳ, but A F Luc omit. In Deuteronomy the writer describes how the Israelites in their wanderings learned that natural products do not always suffice to support life. They were thus led to live in dependence on the creative word of God. Christ restates this principle as valid for Himself. He will rely upon God’s will for the necessities of life. The tempter implied that Sonship involved power to perform miracles. Christ neither affirms nor denies this, but replies that God, if it be His will, can provide food for His needs. Cf. John 4:34. For an earlier application of Deu 8:3, cf. Wisd. 16:26.


(X) 5. Then the devil taketh Him into the holy city, and placed Him upon the wing of the temple.] Lk. has: “And he led Him to Jerusalem, and planed Him upon the wing of the temple.”—τὴν ἁγίαν πόλιν] Cf. 27:53, Revelation 11:2, Revelation 21:2, Revelation 11:10, Revelation 22:19, Daniel 9:24, To 13:9.—πτερύγιον] For the diminutive form, see Blass, p. 63.—παραλαμβάνει] The historic presents here and in the succeeding verses are striking; see Introduction, p. lx.


(X) 6. And he saith to Him, If Thou art God’s Son, cast Thyself down: for it is written, that His angels He charges concerning Thee: and upon (their) hands they shall bear Thee, lest Thou strike against a stone Thy foot.] Lk. has: “And he said to Him, If Thou art God’s Son, cast Thyself hence down. For it is written, that His angels He charges concerning Thee, to guard Thee; and that upon (their) hands they shall bear Thee, lest Thou dash against a stone Thy foot.” The quotation is from Psalms 90:11, Psalms 90:12. Mt omits τοῦ διαφυλάξαι σε ὲν (πᾶσαις) ταῖς ὁδοῖς σου, and Lk. omits ἐν (πᾶσαις) ταῖς ὁδοῖς σου, which would not have been suitable to this context.


(X) 7. Jesus said to him, Again it is written, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.] Lk. has: “And Jesus answered and said to him that, It has been said,” etc. The quotation is from Deuteronomy 6:16 in the words of the LXX.


(X) 8. Again the devil taketh Him unto an exceeding high mountain, and showeth Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory.] Lk. has: “And taking Him up, he showed Him all the kingdoms of the inhabited world in a moment of time.” Lk.’s�


(X) 9. And said to Him, All these things will I give Thee, if Thou wilt fall down and worship me.] Lk. has: “And the devil said to Him, To Thee I will give all this authority and their glory: because to me it has been delivered; and to whomsoever I will, I give it. Thou, therefore, if Thou wilt worship before me, all shall be Thine.”


(X) 10. Then saith Jesus to him, Away, Satan: for it is written, The Lord thy God shah thou worship, and Him alone shah thou serve.] Lk. has: “And Jesus answered and said to him, It is written,” etc. The quotation comes from Deuteronomy 6:13. B has there φοβηθήσῃ, and omits μόνῳ. But A has προσκυνήσεις and μόνῳ1 a favourite word with Mt., generally takes a dative; cf. 2:2, 8, 11, 4:9, 8:2, 9:18, 14:33, 15:25, 18:26, 28:9.


(X) 11. Then the devil leaveth Him.] Lk. has: “And having accomplished every temptation, the devil departed from Him for a time.” Mt. now returns to Mark 1:12.


(M) And, behold, angels came and were ministering to Him.] Mk.has: “And the angels were ministering to Him.” For τότε, see on 2:7; for καὶ ἰδού, 1:20; and for προσῆλθον, v. 3.

6. περὶ σοῦ] S1 adds: “that they should keep thee,” assimilating to Lk.

8. τοῦ κόσμου] S1 “of this world.”


καὶ τὴν δόξαν αὐτῶν] Omit S1.

9. S1 has: “And said to Him, These kingdoms and their glory Thou hast seen. To Thee will I give them, if,” etc.

10. ὂπαγε] So א B C * al 1 f k. Add όπίσω μου C2 D al S2. S1has “behind.”

11. διάβολος] S1 S2 add “for a time,” assimilating to Lk.


The three temptations are clearly symbolical. That is suggested at the outset by “was led by the Spirit,” an external representation of an inward experience. The first temptation was to put to the test His own consciousness of divine “Sonship.” The “Son of God” could change stones into loaves when necessity arose. In answer, Christ refuses thus to test His own convictions. He would act only as God willed. The second was a temptation to put God to the test. If the “Son of God” were in danger, God would protect Him. In answer, Christ appeals to Scripture for proof that such testing was forbidden. The third was a temptation to grasp at once and by one act the Messianic sovereignty of the world, which His consciousness of Messiahship led Him to expect in the future. For answer, Christ finally dismisses (ὕπαγε Σατανᾶ) the tempter. The service of God to which He was pledged forbade the premature hastening of events by methods which involved rebellion against God’s will. Lk. has the last two temptations in the reverse order, and consequently no ὕπαγε Σατανᾶ. His arrangement avoids the double change of scene which is found in Mt.—desert to Jerusalem, Jerusalem to a high mountain. On the other hand, Mt.’s arrangement is probably due to his belief that the offer of universal monarchy formed the fitting climax to the series. By inserting the mountain, the editor may have intended to draw a contrast between the mountain upon which Christ refused Messianic power with that other mountain (28:16) upon which at a later period He told His disciples that all power was given to Him in heaven and upon earth. It seems probable that the three temptations are artificially connected with Mk.’s brief statement (1:12, 13), where the whole scene takes place in the wilderness. “He was in the wilderness forty days, being tempted.” There He was with the beasts, and there presumably angels ministered to Him. But in Mt., after the first temptation, we leave the wilderness, and the ministration of angels presumably took place on the high mountain.

C.—4:12-15:20. MINISTRY IN GALILEE = Mark 1:14-23

(1) 12-17. Appearance in Galilee. From Mark 1:1; Mark 1:14Mark 1:14, Mark 1:15


(M) 12, 13. And when He heard that John was delivered up, He departed into Galilee. And having left Nazara, He came and settled at Capḥarnaum, which is on the lake, in the districts of Zabulon and Naphtali.] Mk. has: “And after that John was delivered up, Jesus came into Galilee.” For�Mark 1:23, because he wishes to make it the subject of a fulfilment of prophecy.—τὴν παραθαλασσίαν] Capharnaum, whether identified with Tell Ḥûm or Khân Minyeh (see Sanday, Sacred Sites, 36 ff.), being on the shore of the lake.—ἐν ὁρίοις Ζαβουλὼν καὶ Νεφθαλείμ]. This geographical note is necessary to explain the bearing of the following quotation:


(O) 14. In order that it might be fulfilled which was spoken through Isaiah the prophet, saying.] For the formula, see on 1:22. The quotation comes from Isaiah 9:1, Isaiah 9:2.


(O) 15. Land of Zebulon, land of Naphtali, way of the sea, over Jordan, Galilee of the nations.]


(O) 16. The people which (was) sitting in darkness saw a great light. And for those sitting in a region and shadow of death, light rose for them.] The editor seems to be quoting a Greek version, otherwise he would hardly have rendered דרך by the accusative ὁδόν. In the original it is the object of a verb; but Mt., who wrests the words from the context and omits the verbs, would, if translating from the Hebrew, have rendered ὁδός just as he has given us γῆ, not γῆν. ὁδόν can only be due to careless copying from a version before him. This version was not the LXX., which differs a good deal from Mt.’s rendering. B of the LXX. has not ὁδὸν θαλάσσης but these words stand in LXX. אo a A Q, and were found in Aquila and Theodotion. Mt. presumably had before him a Greek version which was either different from the LXX., or was an early form of the LXX., containing ὁδὸν θαλάσσης In the latter case he has adapted the verbs to suit his context. We need not inquire as to the exact signification of the geographical terms in the original. The editor tears the words from their context, because he saw in them a prophecy of the fact that Christ went to Galilee to begin His ministry, and settled for that purpose at Capharnaum, which became from henceforth His headquarters. Isaiah had spoken of Galilee (Γαλιλαία τῶν ἐθνῶν). He had also spoken of ὁδὸν θαλάσσης, and Capharnaum was παραθαλασσία. Isaiah had spoken also of Zebulon and Naphtali, and Capharnaum was in the territory of these tribes. The prophet had said of these places that their inhabitants should see a great light. When Christ began His work amongst them this was fulfilled. Whatever, therefore, may have been the original signification of דרך הים, or of its Greek equivalent ὁδὸν θαλάσσης, it is hardly possible to doubt that Mt. had in mind when he copied the words the lake of Galilee, and described Capharnaum as τὴν παραθαλασσίαν to make his meaning clear.


Γῆ Ζαβουλὼν καὶ γῆ Νεφθαλείμ] LXX. has χώρα Ζαβουλὼν ἡ γῆ Νεφθαλείμ.—ὁδὸν θαλάσσης] See above.—πέραν τοῦ Ἰορδάνου] So LXX., the usual equivalent of עבר הירדן.—Γαλιλαία τῶν ἐθνῶν] So LXX.—ὁ λαὸς ὁ καθήμενος ἐν σκότει] LXX. B has πορευόμενος after the Heb., but A καθήμενος—εἰδε φῶς μέγα] LXX. ἴδετε B, εἴδετε א* Γ, εἶδε א c.—καὶ τοῖς καθημένοις] LXX. οἱ κατοικοῦντες.—ἐν χώρᾳ καὶ σκιᾷ θανάτου] So LXX. (om. καί B א*).—φῶς�


(M) 17. From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Regent: for the kingdom of the heavens is at hand.] Mk. has κηρύσσων τὸ εὐαγγέλιον τοῦ θεοῦ, καὶ λέγων ὅτι Πεπλήρωται ὁ καιρὸς καὶ ἤγγικεν ἡ βασιλεία τοῦ θεοῦ Μετανοεῖτε καὶ πιστεύετε ἐν τῷ εὐαγγελίῳ—ἀπὸ τότε] The editor contrasts this early period of the preaching of the kingdom with a later preaching of His death and resurrection; cf. 16:21, and abbreviates the statement of the contents of Christ’s preaching. For his habit of retaining only one of Mk.’s many double expressions of an idea or fact, see Introduction, p. xxiv. He has already assimilated the statement of the contents of the Baptist’s preaching to this verse, cf. 3:2.

13. Καφαρναούμ] So א B D Z 33 latt.—Ναζαρά] אb B * X Z 33 k Orig. Ναζαρέθ, א* D al

16. ἐν χώρᾳ καὶ σκιᾷ] S1 has: “in sorrow and in the shadow of death”; S2 “in the shadows of death.”

17.μετανοεῖτε] Om. S1 S2 k Blass.

(2) 18-22. The calling of four disciples. From Mark 1:16; Mark 1:16-20Mark 1:16-20


(M) 18. And walking by the sea of Galilee, He saw two brethren, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea: for they were fishermen.] Mk. has: “And passing by the sea of Galilee, He saw Simon and Andrew the brother of Simon casting in the sea: for they were fishermen.”


περιπατῶν δέ] for Mk.’s καὶ παράγων, Mt. prefers the construction with δέ, and avoids Mk.’s iteration of the same pronoun παράγων παρά, cf. 17:18, 24:1. He inserts δύο�Wörterb. der griech. Eigennamen; and Deissm. Bib. Stud. p. 315.


Ἀνδρέας] is a not uncommon Greek name. It occurs of a Jew in an Olympian inscription of b.c. 169, Ditt. Syll. 301. 5. Mt. substitutes βάλλοντας�Isaiah 19:8.—ἦσαν γὰρ ἁλιεῖς] For the occurrence of this clause in Mt. and Mk. as a proof of dependence of one Gospel on the other, see Hor. Syn. p. 43. ἁλιεύς occurs from Homer downwards. For the first cent. a.d., cf. Ox. Pap. II. 294, 6.


(M) 19. And He saith to them, Come after Me, and I will make you fishers of men.] Mk. has: “And Jesus said to them, Come after Me, and I will make you to become fishers of men.” Mt. omits γενέσθαι as superfluous. For ὀπίσω as a preposition, see Blass, p. 129.—δεῦτε ὀπίσω] is Semitic.


(M) 20. And they immediately left the nets and followed Him.] Mk. has; “And immediately they left the nets and followed Him.” Mt. substitutes οἱ δέ for Mk.’s καί. See on v. 18, and Introduction, p. xx.


(M) 21. And going forward thence, He saw two other brethren, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in the boat with Zebedee their father, mending their nets. And He called them.] Mk. has: “And going forward a little, He saw James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, these also in the boat mending the nets.” Mt. inserts ἐκεῖθεν, which occurs 12 times in this Gospel, 5 in Mk., 3 in Lk., 2 in Jn. He inserts also ἄλλους δύο�


(M) 22. And they immediately left the boat and their father, and followed Him.] Mk. has: “And they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired servants, and went after Him.” Mt. substitutes οἱ δέ for καί as in v. 20, and ἠκολούθησαν αὐτῷ for�

(3) Illustrations of His teaching and work, 4:23-9:34


(a) Anticipatory sketch, 4:23-25

23-25. The editor now comes to Mark 1:21-22. He has already (4:13) spoken of the entry into Capharnaum, and therefore omits it here. Mark 1:21, b speaks of teaching in the synagogue. But here the editor wishes to develop his scheme of giving illustrations of Christ’s teaching and work in successive sections. He therefore inserts at this point an introductory sketch of Christ’s activity in these two respects, 4:23-25. The teaching in the synagogue at Capharnaum becomes a synagogal teaching throughout the country, and a summary of Christ’s work of healing is added.


(E) And Jesus passed through the whole of Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the good news of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people. And the rumour about Him went into all Syria: and they brought to Him all who were in evil plight, holden with manifold sicknesses and torments, demoniacs, and lunatics, and paralytics; and He healed them. And there followed Him many multitudes from Galilee, and Decapolis, and Jerusalem, and beyond, Jordan.]


The phraseology of this editorial summary is largely borrowed from Mk.

For καὶ περιῆγεν—διδάσκων, cf. Mark 6:6 καὶ περιῆγε—διδάσκων; for ἐν ὅλῃ τῇ Γαλιλαίᾳ, Mark 1:39 εἰς ὅλην τὴν Γαλιλαίαν; for κηρύσσων τὸ εὐαγγέλιον, Mark 1:14; for�Mark 1:28 ἐξῆλθε δὲ ἡ�Mark 1:32 ἔφερον πρὸς αὐτὸν πάντας τοὺς κακῶς ἔχοντας; for ποικίλαις νόσοις—καὶ ἐθεράπευσεν αὐτούς, Mark 1:34 καὶ ἐθεράπευσεν—ποικίλαις νόσοις; for δαιμονιζομένους, Mark 1:32; for ἠκολούθησαν αὐτῷ ὄχλοι πολλοί, Mark 5:24 ἠκολούθει αὐτῷ ὄχλος πολύς, cf. Mark 3:7; for Δεκάπολις, Mark 5:20, Mark 5:7:31; for Ἰεροσολύμων καὶ Ἰουδαίας καὶ πέραν τοῦ Ἰορδάνου, Mark 3:8.


(E) 23. τὸ εὐαγγέλιον τῆς βασιλείας] i.e. the good news that the kingdom was near, cf. v. 17. εὐαγγέλιον in Cl. Gk. is the reward given to a bearer of good news. So in 2 Samuel 4:10. In later writers it means, as here, the good news itself. So in Lucian, Plutarch.—μαλακία] only in Mt. amongst New Testament writers, cf. 9:35, 10:1.—συναγωγαῖς] For the history of the synagogues, see Schürer, 11. ii, 52 ff.


(E) 24. Συρία] never occurs in Mk.—συνέχομαι] in this sense only here and in Lk. and Acts amongst the New Testament writers.—βάσανος of disease only here.—βασάνοις συνεχομέος] occurs in a different sense in 4 Mac 15:32.—δαιμουίζεσθαι] in this sense only in late writers.—παραλυτικός] a New Testament word, Mt. and Mk. Lk. (5:18, 24) and twice in Acts has παραλελυμένος—σεληνιαζομένος] i.e. epileptic, again in 17:15; a late and rare word.—καὶ ἐθεράπενσεν αὐτούς D a b c g1 h have καὶ πάντας ἐθεράπευσεν Cf. 8:16, 12:15, 14:36.


(E) 25. ὄχλοι πολλοί] the plural is characteristic of Mt. He has the plural ὄχλοι about 30 times, the singular 16 times. Mk. has the singular about 37 times, the plural once.1. In Lk. the numbers are more equally balanced.


Δεκαπόλεως] occurs twice in Mk. For its history, see Schürer, II. i, 94; DB., art. “Decapolis.”


Ἰεροσολύμων] is here treated as a neuter plural. In 2:3 it is fem. sing. The aspirated form is apparently due to association with ἱερός. Cf. West. and Hort, Introduction2, p. 313; Blass, p. 31. Mk. and Mt. (except in 23:37) always have this form. Cf. Blass, p. 31.—πέραν τοῦ Ἰορδάνου] is the עֵבֶר חַיַרְדֵּן the Mishna, and the Peræa of Josephus. For its extent, see Schürer, 11. i. 3, 4; DB., art. “Peræa.”

The reason why the editor now gives his illustration of Christ’s teaching before that of His work is probably to be found in the next verse of Mk., viz. 1:22, which describes the effect of Christ’s preaching. He therefore here inserts the Sermon on the mountain, 5-7:27, and closes it with this verse from Mark 1:22 = Matthew 7:27, Matthew 7:28.

M the Second Gospel.

X passages in which Mt. and Lk. agree closely, borrowed from an unknown source or sources.

Dalm. Dalman.

LXX. The Septuagint Version.

1 The editor (or his source) either had προσκυνήσεις (rather than φοβηθήσῃ = Heb. חירא) in his copy of the LXX., or has substituted it for φοβηθήση to emphasize the antithesis with προσκυνήσης of v. 5. Cf. Introduction, p. xxxi.

S Syriac version: Sinaitic MS.

al i.e. with other uncial MSS.

S Syriac version: Curetonian.

O quotations from the Old Testament borrowed from a collection of Messianic prophecies. See pp.61 f.

Deissm. Deissmann.

Ditt. Dittenberger Sylloge.

Hor. Syn. Horœ Synopticœ (Hawkins).

Ox. Pap. Oxyrhynchus Papyri.

E editorial passages.

1 10:l, but D S1 latt have the singular also here

DB. Dictionary of the Bible (Hastings).

2 On the Sermon on the Mount, see especially the article of Votaw in DB., Extra Volume, pp. 1ff.

Bibliographical Information
Driver, S.A., Plummer, A.A., Briggs, C.A. "Commentary on Matthew 4". International Critical Commentary NT. https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/icc/matthew-4.html. 1896-1924.