Bible Commentaries
Matthew 4

Lange's Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal and HomileticalLange's Commentary

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Verses 1-11



4. (Mark 1:12-20; Luke 4:1-13; Luke 5:1-11; John 1:19-28; John 4:43-46)

Contents:The threefold temptation of Christ by Satan through the secular notions of the Jews concerning the Messiah, and His threefold victory over the Tempter.

A. Matthew 4:1-11

(The Gospel for Invocavit, or First Sunday in Lent)

1Then was Jesus led up of [by]1 the Spirit into the wilderness, to be tempted of 2 [by]1 the devil. And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was afterward a hungered.2 3And when the tempter came to him, he said, If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread. 4But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God. 5Then the devil taketh him up into the holy city, and setteth him on a [the]3 pinnacle of the temple, 6And saith unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down: for it is written, he shall give his angels charge concerning thee: and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time4 thou dash thy foot against a stone. 7Jesus said unto him, It is written again,5 Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God. 8Again, the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, and sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them; 9And saith unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me. 10Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve. 11Then the devil leaveth him, and, behold, angels came and ministered unto him.


On the Literature of the History of the Temptation, comp. Danz, p. 993, and Supplement, p. 109; Winer, i. 556, Supplement, p. 79; Hase, Leben Jesu, § 55. On the history itself, comp. Ullmann on the Sinlessness of Jesus; Alex. Schweizer, Ueber die Dignitat des Religionsstifters, in the “Theol. Stud. u. Kritiken,” vii. 564. For other works, comp. Meyer’s “Commentary,” p. 100. See also especially Könemann, Ueber die Versuchungsgeschichte in “Rudelbach’s Zeitschrift” for Matt 1850: and Laufs in the “Stud. u. Kritiken” for 1853. p. 355.

We have no right, with Ewald and Meyer, to infer from the mysterious character of the history before us, and from the detailed and circumstantial manner in which it is related, that the account given by Matthew (and by Luke) is a later embell shment of the more simple and older tradition recorded in the Gospel by Mark. Evidently, Mark furnishes only a general summary of the event, which requires to be supplemented by the details furnished by Matthew and Luke.

Matthew 4:1. Then was Jesus.—Τότε, i. e., after the Spirit had descended upon Him. The first operation of the Holy Spirit, when the Lord had attained to the full consciousness of His character as the God-Man, and of His work as the Redeemer, was, not to lead Him into that world which He was to save, but to drive Him out of it into the wilderness. No doubt the primary object of this was to afford an opportunity for blessed rest and joy, in the consciousness of His character and mission. But, secondly, the Saviour had now to consider the difficult question, how to reveal Himself to His people, without conforming to their spurious, secularized views and hopes concerning the Messiah. It was this counterfeit of the true Messiah among Israel which, so to speak, repelled Him, and drove Him into the wilderness The third motive for His going into the wilderness lay in the fact, that the reign of Satan was the cause of all the misery in the world. Hence Christ had to commence His work by conquering Satan; and this He did for the whole world, when He met and overcame him in the personal contest here described.

He was led up, ἀνήχθη,—i. e., from the desert banks of the river to the wilderness of Judæa properly so called. Tradition has given to this wilderness the name of Quarantania (wilderness of Jericho, Joshua 16:1). Comp. Robinson II. 552 [i. 567]; Schubert iii. 73; v. Raumer, p. 47. “From Joppa, on the Mediterranean, the road leads by Ramlah for about seven hours through the beautiful plain of Sharon. Other six hours’ journey over the calcareous and desert mountain tract of Judah brings you to Jerusalem. The road is exceedingly difficult, going alternately up and down hill. From Jerusalem the mountain tract extends for other five hours eastward, when it descends into the valley of Jordan by Jericho. At this eastern slope of the chain is the steep mountain called Quarantania, where, according to tradition, the temptation of Christ took place. The name is derived from the Lord’s fasting for forty days. According to Hasselquist, the mountain is high and conical, and most dangerous of ascent. A deep precipice descends at the side of it. On the summit are the ruins of an ancient Greek monastery, perhaps that built by the Empress Helena. All along the mountain are caves and holes, which formerly were tenanted by hermits; at the base a brook springs,—according to tradition, the same which Elisha healed (2 Kings 2:19-22).” For further particulars, comp. v. Raumer, as above, Note 78. The district is better explored in the direction from the Mount of Olives. “The wilderness of Jericho, extending between that town and the Mount of Olives, or rather Bethany, is a district full of precipitous rocks and deep hollows (comp. Joseph. Antiq. x. 8, 2). The scene presents the appearance of a most desolate wilderness, especially after passing the Caravansary which now bears the name of the Khan of the Samaritan (comp. Luke 10:30), about two hours from Jerusalem: comp. Maundrell, Journey, p. 109. From this wilderness the road descends, after a further journey of two hours, down a precipitous height into the plain of Jericho. At the northern boundary of this plain rises a steep, calcareous mountain, very difficult of ascent, which bears the name of Quarantania, because, according to tradition, Jesus passed forty days fasting in one of the many caves on its side. The northern portion of this desert was connected with the wilderness of Bethany, Joshua 18:12.” Winer, art. “Wüste,” No. 4.—As the wilderness of Quarantania lies close by the banks of Jordan, there is no sufficient reason to doubt the correctness of this tradition. The wildness of this desert, as indicated in the expression of Mark: “He was with the wild beasts,” points to the same conclusion.

Of (by) the Spirit.—The context shows that the Holy Spirit is here meant. The idea that it referred to the personal spirit of Christ, or to a state of ecstasy (Paulus), could only have been broached from defective theological views. The expression ἀνήχθη implies, indeed, an extraordinary state of mind on the part of the Lord, indicating a wonderful impulse, but not a miraculous transportation (which is not meant even in Acts 8:39, or in 2 Kings 2:16)—an idea still more clearly expressed in the parallel passage in Mark 1:12. Meyer aptly remarks: “The two opposite principles, ὑπὸ τοῦ πνεύματος and ὑπὸ τοῦ διαβόλου, are evidently here placed in pragmatic correspondence or juxtaposition. Besides, the whole circumstances of this history, occurring immediately after the descent of the Spirit upon Jesus, show that the Evangelist intended to relate the victory of Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, over the devil (comp. Luke 4:1-2). This consideration alone is sufficient to refute the arbitrary invention of Olshausen, that, during the forty days in the wilderness, Jesus had been forsaken by the Spirit.”

To be tempted of (by) the devil; πειρασθῆναι.—Such was the final object. The Holy Spirit led Him purposely to this contest with Satan. In this conflict He was to be tempted by the devil, to show whether or not, in the exercise of His free determination, He would prove Himself, and continue, the organ of the Holy Spirit in opposition to that satanic principle, or spirit of the world, by which the hopes of Israel concerning the Messiah had been perverted, so as to become even matter of temptation to Him. The basis and commencement of the work of salvation was necessarily a personal contest and victory of the Saviour over the principle of evil, as manifested in the corruption of the world. For further remarks on the tremendous collision between these antagonistic principles, comp. the author’s “Leben Jesu” ii. 1, p. 205.—Διάβολος, from διαβάλλω, to row over, carry across, to slander, accuse, calumniate; hence διάβολος, the slanderer in general, and also, in the most particular sense (Job 1:0; Revelation 12:10), the accuser. In the Old Testament he is called Satan, שָֹׁטָן (Job 1:6-12). The term means, adversary in general, adversary in war (1 Kings 5:4—in the Hebr. text, Matthew 5:18; Matthew 11:14); and with the article, הַשָּׂטָן, the adversary or enemy κατ’ ἐξοχήν: the prince of the fallen spirits (Genesis 3:0; 2 Corinthians 11:3; Revelation 20:2; John 8:44, etc.).

As the cause and origin of the fall of man, Satan is the prince of the kingdom of darkness, which has sprung up and developed on earth in opposition to the theocracy; the seducer of man to their destruction, and hence the principal enemy of Jesus (Matthew 13:28). Comp. works on Dogmatics (among others my Positive Dogmatik, p. 559 sqq.) on the question whether the devil should be regarded as a person, or merely as the symbol of what is called the principle of evil (as if what is evil could have a real, and not what merely appears to be a principle).

Matthew 4:2. And when He had fasted forty days.—Besides the mythical theory, which we at once set aside, there are four different views entertained by commentators in connection with this event. First, as regards Christ’s fasting, some refer it only to the want of His common nourishment (Rosenmuller, Kuinoel, Kuhn, etc.); while most interpreters understand it as meaning absolute and entire abstinence from food (comp. Luke 4:2; Deuteronomy 9:9). Secondly, as regards the duration, some critics regard the “forty days” as a sacred number, and hence as denoting an indefinite period of time (Köster, Henneberg, Neander); while most commentators take it literally. In favor of the literal view, we refer to the circumstance that Moses and Elijah fasted for forty days (Exodus 34:28, and 1 Kings 19:8), in both which instances we have a record of supernatural, and miraculous events. Besides, the addition of the clause, “forty nights,” and the remark in Luke 4:2, “He did eat nothing,” show that both the time and the act are not meant figuratively. Still the expression must not be understood as implying a legal and absolute fast of forty days. Similarly, Jesus said of John that he came “neither eating not drinking,” although we know that his nourishment consisted of locusts and wild honey. The feature which characterized this solemn fast, and distinguished it from every similar event, was, that the Saviour was wholly absorbed by spiritual realities; a state which, although never fully attained by any person, yet, even in the modified degree reached by ordinary men, renders them, for a considerable period, independent of the common necessaries of life. The fast of Jesus formed a striking contrast to the worldly-mindedness of the Jews (as that of Moses and of Elijah had been); it was a higher expression of the feelings and of the fasting of the Baptist; and at last, when, after the lapse of forty days, He was an hungered [or hungry], it became the occasion for the grand assault of the tempter. Comp. our remarks on the freedom of some men from common wants under extraordinary circumstances in the “Leben Jesu” ii. 1, p. 212; Heubner, p. 34.

Matthew 4:3. And the tempter came to Him.—The participle πειράζων is here used as a substantive, as characteristic of the person. It is one of the chief characteristics of Satan that he is the tempter. First, the tempter in the guise of a friend, then the accuser and open enemy. Various views are entertained as to the manner in which the tempter approached the Lord, or, in other words, as to the mode of this temptation. We may reduce the different explanations to five classes. The temptation has been regarded, 1. as an external occurrence; 2. as a supernatural internal occurrence, or a vision; 3. as an inward ethical transaction, or a psychological occurrence; 4. as a parable; 5. as a myth.—Again, viewing it as an objective or external occurrence, it has been regarded, (a) as real, in the sense of having been a literal apparition of Satan in the form of a man or an angel. This is the view of many orthodox commentators. But against this, we set the fact, that under no other circumstances, and at no other period, Satan had ever assumed human form; and also, that there are other circumstances in this narrative which cannot be taken in their literal sense,—such as, that Satan took the Lord to the holy city, or that he placed Him on a high mountain, from which all the kingdoms of this world and their glory could be seen. It has been argued, (b) that what the Evangelist here describes as a real objective occurrence, must be traced to earliest tradition, which invested the symbolical idea of a contest between Messiah and Satan in this mythical form (Strauss); or else, that the misunderstanding must be ascribed to the Evangelists themselves, who viewed and recorded as something external what in reality was an inward transaction, and either told them in the form of a parable, or else was only intended as a parable (Schleiermacher). To this view, in a somewhat modified shape, we shall again advert in the sequel. Meantime suffice it to say, that the idea of a myth must be at once discarded, whatever we may say of the other suggestions advanced. Or, (c) it has been maintained that an external occurrence is here described in symbolical language, and that the tempter was an ordinary man. “This,” says Meyer, “is the case with the absurd suggestion of some interpreters, who substitute for the devil an ordinary personage, such as a member of the Sanhedrin, or a priest, who had come to question and to gain over Jesus, or to lay a snare for Him.” (V. der Hardt, Venturini, Möller, Rosenmüller, Kuinoel, Feilmoser; see also Bengel, who thinks that Satan had appeared “sub schemate γραμματέως quia τὸ γέγραπται ei ter opponitur.”6) However, the suggestion that the devil employed some member of the Sanhedrin as his special instrument—which, of course, Rationalists would repudiate [since they deny the existence of one devil, though they cannot get rid of the many devils—P. S.]—can scarcely be characterized either as rationalistic or as absurd. We know that Satan did employ Judas as his special instrument (John 13:27), and that “this devil” came out against the Lord as His enemy (John 14:30). Still, this view does not quite agree with the symbolical elements contained in the narrative before us.—According to the second interpretation above mentioned, the whole occurrence was merely a vision. In that case, it may be regarded, (a) as a vision called forth by the devil (Origen, Cyprian, Theodorus of Mopsuestia on Luke 4:1, Olshausen, and latterly again Heubner, p. 39). Against this we urge, that the devil could not have possessed the power of presenting to the Lord in a vision, either his own apparition, or the pictures of these temptations. (b) As called forth by God Himself (Farmer, Enquiry, etc., London, 1761),—a view which would render this occurrence wholly mysterious and unintelligible; or (c) as called forth by natural causes (Clericus, Paulus, Gratz, and many other commentators),—not a historical event, but a psychological and ecstatic state of mind; or lastly, (d) a “significant morning dream” (Meyer [not the commentator, H. A. W., so often quoted in this work, see below] in the “Studien u. Kritiken” for 1831, p. 319 sqq.). But it is sufficient to reply that decisive ethical conflicts do not take place in the form of dreams.—According to the third view above mentioned, this narrative must be considered as an inward ethical transaction or conflict: (a) A conflict which took place in the imagination of Christ (Eichhorn, Dereser, Weisse, etc.). Against this view it has been urged, that such an inward conflict, arising from a felt sense of the allurements of evil, could not be reconciled with the sinlessness of Jesus. (b) An inward conflict excited by the devil (Krabbe); but we are at a loss to know the medium through which the enemy assailed Christ, (c) An inward transaction to which the disciples gave an objective form, as if it had been an external event (rejection of the false conceptions concerning the Messiah—Ullmann); but if we dismiss the idea that they consciously and purposely clothed the event in a symbolical form, we are shut up to the mythical theory. (d) A fragmentary, symbolical representation of transactions in the inner life of Jesus (Neander). But this were to spiritualize away and to weaken a great historical fact.—According to the fourth view above mentioned, we are to regard this narrative as a parable, not so much of what Jesus Himself had experienced, but of what His disciples should keep in view and guard against (J. E. Chr. Schmidt, Schleiermacher, Usteri, Alex. Schweizer, Baumgarten-Crusius). But de Wette rightly objects, that in that case the whole meaning of a temptation would be lost—and, let us add, of the temptation κατ’ ἐξοχήν. (Against this parabolic view, comp. also Hasert, in the “Stud. u. Krit.” for 1830.)—Lastly, according to the fifth view above proposed, we must regard this narrative as a pure myth (Strauss, de Wette, Gfrörer, Meyer). Thus Meyer boldly asserts, that “nothing is left but to conclude that what the Evangelists considered and described as an actual event, was merely an ideal event, or a myth.”7 In reply, we simply remark that modern theology has happily overcome the mythical theory. The only thing mythical, in our opinion, is the view entertained by some divines, by which the sacred history, so full of symbolical significance and religious life, is transformed into a purely external transaction.—The main objection to the various explanations which we have just sketched, is that they proceed on the old scholastic plan of predicating an absolute alternative (a mode of interpretation which has frequently obstructed the right interpretation of Scripture), and that they do not sufficiently appreciate the various moral agencies brought into play, and their mutual influence. Nothing appears to us more natural, than that immediately after the baptism, in which Christ entered upon His work as Saviour of the world, He should have encountered and entered upon a spiritual conflict with the spurious ideas which the men of His age entertained about the Messiah. The influence of these perverted views concerning the Messiah upon His own mind, would necessarily give rise to an assault and temptation of Satan. In truth, Satan had thus perverted the hope of Israel concerning the Messiah, for the very purpose of turning aside the Messiah Himself. Thus far, then, the narrative presents an inward transaction indeed; but, at the same time, also a real and actual transaction between Christ on the one hand, and the popular expectations and the kingdom of Satan on the other. But what had at first been an inward transaction, concluded with an outward event, which in some respects is mysterious. Satan really employed, it seems to us, some of the chief priests and scribes as his instruments to tempt Christ to undertake the part of such a worldly Messiah as the Jews at the time expected. (Comp. the ὀπίσω μου here and Matthew 16:23.) The whole history of this temptation—both in its inward and outward phases—Jesus afterward communicated to His disciples in the form of a real narrative, clothed in symbolical language. The difference between this and a mere myth lies in the simple fact, that it really took place, partly as an inward, and partly as an outward transaction; and in the circumstance that speaker and hearers employed and listened to the symbolical language in which the narrative was partly clothed, in the full consciousness that it was such. The various interpretations to which we have above adverted ignore several important circumstances; such as, that, in accordance with his mission, it was the duty of John to point out the Messiah to His people, and, of course, more especially to the representatives of the people; that, at the very time when Jesus was in the neighborhood, a deputation from the Sanhedrim at Jerusalem had arrived to inquire whether he was the Messiah; that John returned, and must have returned, a truthful reply; and lastly, that this deputation could not but take some notice of the directions which the Baptist had given them. Besides, we must remember that, at the commencement of Christ’s work, it was not merely some kind of temptation, but the great temptation, which had to be overcome—i.e., the temptation arising from the lust of the world, even as, at the close of His course, He had to encounter the temptation from the burden and grief of the world. Lastly, it is manifest that so decisive an inward conflict could not be merely the result of an extraordinary state of mind, without having been called forth by some deep historical antagonism; and that, as it could be neither wholly internal nor wholly external, it must have combined both these elements, or, in other words, that it was caused and excited by the devil, and carried into execution through a human medium. We can readily conceive how human sympathies, more particularly Jewish chiliastic influences, may have acted upon the human nature of Christ. Nor can we doubt that a definite outward instrumentality was employed. Such could not have been wanting in this grand decisive moment of the history of the kingdom of God; and the glorious reality and the consequences of such an era, are themselves sufficient to sweep away the cobweb structures of any mythical theory. Hence we agree, 1. with Ullmann, in admitting that the transaction was inward, but caused by external agency; 2. with v. d. Hardt and Bengel, in believing that the transaction concluded with an outward event, to which only allusion is made in the narrative; 3. with Schleiermacher, in concluding that the history is clothed in a symbolical and parabolic garb.

Matthew 4:3-4. First temptation.—The first temptation is occasioned by a feeling of hunger on the part of Jesus, and by the expression of it. If Thou be the Son of God, v. 3—couched in the form of a doubt to incite the Saviour to prove Himself such. The word υἱός is put first, to lay emphasis on the Sonship. The expression implies three things: First, that if the Son of God had come, He must be the expected Messiah. Secondly, that the Messiah could not be any lower personage than the Son of God Himself, in the metaphysical sense of this term. Thirdly, that the greatest miracles might be expected to be wrought by Him.—Εἰπ ὲ, ἵνα, Speak, in order that. The effect is to be produced by a creative, or rather a magical utterance. It may be asked whether the tempter meant this in the literal or the symbolical sense, like the statement of the Baptist: “God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham.” Whatever view we take of this point, it was a covert suggestion to give Himself up to the satanic principle, either by arbitrarily perverting the spiritual power of working miracles into an unholy art of magic, or as a call, in pompous Oriental phraseology, to transform the wilderness into a storehouse, by pronouncing a formula of surrender to the vanity of the world. Probably the tempter intended that it should bear a double meaning, as was also the case with the second temptation. The point of the temptation lay in the suggestion that it seemed incompatible for the Son of God, who could do all things, to suffer hunger. But—doubt would add—to suffer hunger seems to imply that you are not the Son of God. Thus, in the present instance, the doubt would appeal to His power, to His reason, and even to the duty of confirming the declaration that He was the Son of God. The Son of God cannot be limited or hardly beset; He cannot suffer or participate in the wants of humanity; He must at once sweep away every difficulty and want by an act of omnipotence. The Lord resisted this temptation by quoting the Scripture, Deuteronomy 8:3,—the passage being quoted by the Evangelist according to the Septuagint. The original (addressed to Israel) reads: “Jehovah suffered thee to hunger, and fed thee with manna (which thou knowest not, neither did thy fathers know), that He might make thee know that man doth not live by bread (upon bread) only, but by everything (upon everything) that proceedeth out of the mouth of the Lord doth man live.” The Septuagint renders: ἀλλ’ ἐπὶ παντὶ ῥήματι τῷ ἐκπορευομένῳ διὰ στόματος Θεοῦζήσεται δ ᾰνθρωπος. In the Gospel of Matthew we have ἐν instead of ἐπί—in, or by, every word (not thing) that proceedeth out of the mouth of God shall man live. According to Olshausen, the Saviour intended to point out an antithesis between earthly and heavenly food. De Wette suggests the following explanation: “If ordinary means of nourishment fail, the Lord will employ extraordinary means to preserve us alive by His creative Word.” But these extraordinary means—the manna—are here generalized as “everything that proceedeth out of the mouth of the Lord,” and applied in a symbolical sense, to indicate that man is not absolutely dependent upon any kind of external nourishment, and that his real life is sustained by the word of God. Hence the meaning of Christ’s reply is this: If even man is not absolutely dependent upon the bread that perisheth,—if he does not live upon bread only, but rather upon the word of God,—how much more must this be true of the Son of God, whose life flows from the Father, and not from the bread of earth, and who accordingly depends for the preservation of His earthly life, not on any arbitrary interference, nor on satanic device or agency, but on the Father? But the Son of God has condescended to become man, and as such is willing to share the wants and sufferings of humanity. In conclusion, the difference between the idea of miracles as laid down in the Bible, and that entertained by the tempter—or even by some modern theologians—deserves notice.

Matthew 4:5-7. Second temptation.—In the Gospel of Luke this is mentioned as the third temptation. This divergence arises not from any historical inaccuracy, but from the symbolical view which each of the Evangelists connected with these assaults. The symbolical element which appeared in the first temptation, “Command that these stones be made bread,” comes out more distinctly in the present instance. We trace it, first, in the significant expression, παρα λαμβάνει αὐτόν, he takes Him by force with him, or takes Him to himself as a companion (in his journey); and, secondly, in the term εἰς τὴν ἁγίανπόλιν, צִיר הָקֹּדֵש(Isaiah 48:2; Nehemiah 11:1), to denote Jerusalem,—so called on account of the temple. (To this day the Arabs call Jerusalem the place of the Sanctuary, or the Holy City.) The devil is here represented as having free access to the most sacred places, and as familiar with them: He setteth Him (ἵστησιν)—not by force, for such he cannot exercise; besides, he had not yet dropt the mask and shown himself the evil one. He appears as wearing a religious garb, as one who had authority in the temple, and setteth Jesus as his guest in a spot which commanded the most extensive view. The supposition of Jerome, that Jesus was carried thither through the air, is purely fantastic;8 equally unsatisfactory is the suggestion of Olshausen, that He was in a state of mental transport. It is quite possible that Jesus had at the time gone for a day to Jerusalem, and that this circumstance may have formed the external basis for this temptation. Be this as it may, the fact that Satan set Jesus on the (not a) pinnacle [literally: the wing] of the temple (τὸ πτερύγιον τοῦ ἱεροῦ ), implied the suggestion that He should by satanic means become the priest-king of that temple. It is true, the expression τοῦ ἱεροῦ here used, was applied to the whole set of buildings connected with the temple, while the word ναός referred to the principal building of the temple. But the more general expression of course included the temple itself, to which, besides, the word πτερύγιον specially points. Nor is there anything inconsistent in the account of Josephus, that the roof of the temple was covered κατὰ κορυφήν with pointed rods to protect it from being occupied by birds, as the κορυφή of the temple was probably only the most holy place. Nor can the great sacredness of the locality be urged as an argument, since the special object in view was to place Jesus in the most sacred locality. The real difficulty of taking the statement, that the Lord was set upon a pinnacle of the temple, in its literal meaning, lies in this, that Christ was neither priest nor Levite, and that the idea of setting Him publicly in such a place is entirely incompatible with a secret conflict between Christ and Satan. On the same ground we must dismiss the notion, that the devil set him on any other prominent place of the temple. Some commentators have supposed that this “pinnacle” belonged to an out-building of the temple, such as the hall of Solomon on the east side (Joseph. Antiq. xx. 9, 7), or the στοὰ βασιλική on the south side (ibid. xv. 11, 5), both of them rising along a frightful precipice. Kuinoel, Meyer, and others suppose that the scene must have occurred at the south side of the temple, from the description which Josephus gives of its dizzy height. But this would necessitate the strange supposition, that the Evangelist represented the tempter as proposing to the Lord a descent, either into the poor valley of Kidron, or into that of the Cheesemakers. If the narrative is taken literally, the object must have been rather to work some ostentatious miracle for the proud city of Jerusalem itself. In this respect, also, the temptation had its double meaning, the main point lying in the suggestion that Jesus should yield to Satan, place Himself at the head of the priesthood, and in that character be presented to the people. With this object, and in this sense, Jesus was set on the pinnacle of the temple, and probably somehow or somewhere in the temple itself. The spiritual attitude which He was to assume is the main point.

As Jesus had turned aside the first suggestion of the tempter by the word of God, the enemy supported his second assault, If Thou be the Son of God, cast Thyself down, by a quotation from Psalms 91:11-12, “For He shall give His angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways: they shall bear thee up in their hands, lest thou dash thy foot against a stone.” This passage seemed all the better suited for the purpose in view, since in its primary application it referred not exclusively to the Messiah. The plain inference was, that if such a promise had been granted to all pious men, it must apply all the more forcibly to the Messiah. But the application of this promise was evidently false, as the expression, in all thy ways, was not equivalent to the ways of thine own choosing. Indeed, the tempter wholly omitted this clause when adducing the passage. Jesus replied to this quotation—which in its original form was a poetical description of the promised help, and now was grossly misinterpreted in its literal application—by referring to a passage in the law: Ye shall not tempt Jehovah your God, Matthew 4:7. Deuteronomy 6:16. In the present instance, Christ addressed it to Satan personally, Thou, instead of Ye,—a change all the more appropriate, that every tempting of God on the part of man is directly caused by the enemy of souls. Πάλιν does not mean “on the other hand” (Erasmus and others), but again (Meyer, Engl. C. Ver.). Bengel: Scriptura per Scripturam interpretanda—more especially a poetical phrase by the precise statements of the law. This reply to Satan is already an attack upon him, since he is here characterized as tempting the Lord.

Matthew 4:8-10. Third temptation.—“The high mountain ( Matthew 4:8) from which all the kingdoms of the world could be seen, must not be looked for upon any of our maps; it neither refers to the Mount of Olives, nor does κόσμος mean Palestine (Kuinoel), but it applies to the heathen world over which Satan held exclusive dominion” (Meyer). Luke adds, ἐν στιγμῇ χρόνου, to indicate the magic character of the vision. And the glory of them, τὴν δόξαν αὐ τῶν. “The rich country, the splendid cities and palaces, perhaps also the riches which they contained (although these could scarcely have been seen from the top of a mountain).”—De Wette. The idea of any magical influence of Satan upon the vision of the Lord seems to us quite inappropriate (comp. Lange: “Worte der Abwehr,” p. 41). It is not worth while to show at length that Satan could not have exercised such influence over the eyes of the Saviour. In our opinion, the prospect from such a high mountain as that of the wilderness of Quarantania, or near Jerusalem, was sufficient to offer an appropriate basis for a rhetorical description of the world, its kingdoms, and their glory.9 Of course the mountain must still be viewed as a symbolical expression, to designate the political and chiliastic prospects which the Jews portrayed to themselves at the time when Messiah should come to conquer the world by worldly means. Nor must we, with Meyer, exclude Palestine from this vista, since the course of the ambitious conqueror, as sketched by the enemy, was to commence at the temple itself. For, although it is true that Satan had greater power over the heathen world than over Palestine, we must not confound (as Meyer does, p. 105) the later views of the Jews (as given in Eisenmenger’s “Entdecktes Judenthum,” ii. p. 820, etc.) with those of the New Testament. In the New Testament Satan is designated as ἄρχων τοῦ κόσμου (John 12:31), with special reference to his sway over Palestine in opposition to Jesus; while the expression κοσμοκράτωρ , in Ephesians 6:12, alludes more particularly to the heresies by which the Church of Christ was endangered. We must not look in the word of God for the gross, fanatical, and mythical ideas of later rabbinical Judaism. The passage before us refers to the moral reign of darkness which extended over the whole ancient world, although we must ever be careful not to admit the validity of Satan’s pretension that he exercised in any sense absolute sway over the world.

In this third temptation, Satan appears in his proper character. Hence also it is not prefaced by “If Thou be the Son of God.” On the contrary, he rather seems to claim this honor for himself, as Luke plainly indicates in the words, ὅτι ἐμοὶ παραδεδοται . The awful proposal, that Jesus should fall down and worship Satan, and do him homage, is to some extent modified, when we bear in mind the peculiar political and religious import of the word ὅτι ἐμοὶ παραδεδοται among Orientals. We do not imagine that Satan intended to demand an act of absolute adoration, but an act of homage, which, however, necessarily implied worship. Primarily, it was not (as Strauss supposes) a temptation to idolatry, though it is true that, in its ultimate meaning and bearing, all idolatry is devil-worship. Nor does this demand involve a direct threat on the part of Satan that he would let loose against Jesus the whole power of evil (Ebrard), although Satan’s claim to absolute sway over the whole world implied that he was its lord and master. Viewed in this light, the third temptation, from the lust of the world, pointed already to that which Christ had to endure at the close of His course from the sorrow and misery of the world. The incredible presumption and impudence of Satan’s demand (which, indeed, was covertly implied even in the first and second temptations) is in some measure accounted for by his well-known axiom, “that every man has his price at which his virtue may be bought.” The point of the temptation lay in the boldness of the design—Satan spreading out all at once a rushing picture of absolute sway over the world and of its glory, and then offering all this to the lowly and rejected Son of David, who of right could claim all the nations of the world as His inheritance, and the utmost ends of the world as His possession. Gerlach suggests that the proposal to found the kingdom of Messiah by outward power and pomp, and not that of paying outward worship to Satan, formed the main point of the temptation. But this must evidently have been the consequence of a surrender and homage to Satan.

Matthew 4:10. Then saith Jesus unto him.—At last the mask was thrown off: Satan appears in his real character, and is treated accordingly. Hitherto the Lord had, in compliance with the usual forms of intercourse, dealt with him according to his assumed character, as one who seemed anxious to promote the mission of the Messiah, although He sufficiently showed that he had read the motives of Satan,—having in His first reply designated him as one who held men in contempt, and in His second as the tempter. But now he meets the pretensions of Satan to absolute power by a display of His own supreme authority. Get thee hence, Satan. [In Greek a single word, ὕπαγε , begone, out of my sight.] (The addition ὀπίσω μου is not sufficiently authenticated, and apparently an ancient interpolation derived from Matthew 16:23, which seems to apply not to Satan, but to Peter, whose right place as a follower of the Lord was behind, not before Him.) The passage with which Christ dismisses the enemy (Deuteronomy 6:13) is none other than the fundamental principle of Monotheism. It is given in the form of a free quotation from the Septuagint; the word προςκυνήσεις , which Satan had used, being retained, instead of φοβηθήσῃ. Laying emphasis on the main idea of the Old Testament passage, our Lord says, “Him only shalt thou serve.” The devil is expressly designated as Satan, because in this temptation he displayed his real character as the adversary of christ. Lastly, the answer of the Lord conveys the expression of His enmity to all that is satanic in the world, and to the carnal hopes and views entertained about the Messiah. It is, so to speak, a declaration of war on the part of Jesus against Satan, and that on account of the daring promise to make Jesus Lord of the world if He only submitted to his conditions. “Tentatorem, quum is maxime favere videri vult, Satanam appellat.”—Bengel.

In looking back on this threefold temptation, we conclude that Satan offered to the Lord immediate possession of His Messianic inheritance on condition of His employing satanic agency, in the form of magic, of false religious enthusiasm or fanaticism, and of false and demoniacal worship. His first proposal was to confer on Jesus the office of a magician-prophet; his second, to make Him the chief and prince of a grand hierarchy; his third, to invest him with the office of demoniacal and all-powerful monarch of the world. But, manifestly, these were the three great traits of the carnal and perverse expectations which Israel entertained concerning the Messiah: the first temptation representing more especially the erroneous tendency of the Essenes, who lived in the wilderness; the second, the spurious religion of the Pharisees, whose centre was the temple service; and the third, the godless policy of the Sadducees, whose ruling passion was worldliness. The common psychological applications of this narrative—such as, that the first temptation was to sensual enjoyment, the second to fanatical pride, and the third to ambition—do not exhaust the deep bearing of the event, although they are implied in the interpretation above proposed.

The following is the chronological order of events: 1. The baptism of Jesus. 2. The forty days’ fasting. 3. The deputation to John the Baptist from Jerusalem (John 1:0). 4. The temptation of Jesus. 5. The return of Jesus to John by the banks of Jordan (John 1:35). 6. His return to Galilee ( John 4:43).

Matthew 4:11. The victory.—The triumph of the Saviour appears in these two facts: The devil leaveth Him; angels come and minister unto Him, thus paying Him real homage, διηκόνουν αὐτῷ. Bengel: “Sine dubio pro ceo, ac tum opus erat, sc. allato cibo [undoubtedly, by doing that which was then necessary, namely, by bringing Him food]. Comp. the feeding of Elijah by an angel, 1 Kings 19:5.” Thus Piscator, Wolf, and many others,—among them, Meyer. Others understand the expression as denoting supernatural Divine support (Maldonatus, Kuinoel, Olshausen, Kuhn, Ammon, Ebrard). It deserves notice, that most critics who at present defend the view that the text implies a miraculous supply of food by the ministry of angels, characterize the whole narrative as a mere myth. When Jesus had undergone these temptations, He returned from the wilderness into the company of men. Hence any such miraculous supply of food for the body by angels would have been unnecessary. In our view of the passage, the Lord having conquered Satan, and established His glorious supremacy not only over man, but also over the spiritual world, now entered into converse with ministering angels (John 1:51), realizing in the supernatural and heavenly support which He now enjoyed, in the fullest sense, His own declaration, that man lives not by bread alone.


1. The narrative before us establishes, in our opinion, two facts—that Jesus could be tempted, of the possibility of His falling; and again, that He was tempted, yet without sin. This threefold victory of His sinless soul marks another stage in the Gospel history. Before that, the God-man had, in the free exercise of His will, risen to full and joyous consciousness of His character and mission; now this consciousness became a settled divine-human mind or disposition over against all temptations and allurements of the world. From His first and decisive conflict with evil, which ever and again tempted Him during the three years of his earthly ministry, He came forth victorious to rear His kingdom on a spiritual and eternal foundation.

2. Solemn celebration in the wilderness of His full attainment to consciousness of His character and vocation, victory over the temptations of Satan, and maturing of the plan for His work—such are the three great phases in the preceding narrative, none of which can be separated from the other.
The first of these three phases was that of solemn celebration. Bearing in mind that Jesus was led into the wilderness by the Spirit, we infer that He went up in the full and deep consciousness of His vocation as the God-man. Heaven had been opened over him the wings of the blessed Spirit had been upon and around Him. He had the testimony of His Sonship, and of the delight of the Father in Him. In the blessed enjoyment of these glorious realities, forty days passed without His feeling the common wants of humanity. But Jesus did not shut up within His own breast this His “being equal with God,” as if it had been robbery (Philippians 2:0),—least of all when He had just submitted to that baptism, in which, while humbling Himself to become the companion in sorrow of sinners, He had also attained the full consciousness of His theanthropy. Hence the solemn inward feast celebrated in the wilderness served as preparation for His work: the fulness of the Spirit, the fulness of love, the fulness of life within His soul—all summoned Him to be the Deliverer of His people and the Saviour of the world, even as the Father had called Him by His baptism and by the Holy Ghost; and in the depth of His sympathy with humanity, He heard not only His own people but a fallen world entreating deliverance.

But this very cry of the world contained a shrill discord which constituted His temptation. With infinite longing Israel waited for the advent of Messiah. But this glorious hope had become fearfully distorted in the false theology of the synagogue, in the ideas current among the people, in the hierarchical tendencies of the age, and in the general vanity of this world. Hence, while this longing for salvation in the inmost heart of humanity was a loud call for Jesus to reveal Himself to the world as the long-expected Redeemer, He was repelled by the false and unspiritual picture of the Messiah who was the object of the carnal hopes of Israel. The Holy One recognized in these perversions the agency of Satan. Thus far there could be neither doubt nor temptation. But that which in itself was evil had assumed a human form; it had been embodied in human representations, ideas, and aspirations; and in this its human form it made its appeal to His sympathies. This spurious and unholy Messianic expectation appeared most closely intertwined with the loftiest aspirations and the holiest hopes of humanity. It was this seeming combination of two very different elements which might give rise to doubt and difficulty. The Saviour must now discern the spuriousness of this combination; and, to separate its heterogeneous elements, He had to overcome the temptation arising from the fanatical sympathies of His people and of the world. This constituted His temptation. Its point lay in the attractions of human sympathy, allurement, and entreaty; as also, in the apparent connection between what was perverse and what was holy. In His conflict with this temptation, it assumed a threefold form. In the first assault, the Prophet, in all the pride and self-sufficiency of a Magician, stands before His mind’s eye; in the second, the High Priest, in all the pride and self-sufficiency of hierarchical pomp; and in the last, the King, in all the pride and self-sufficiency of secular policy and power. All these pictures are presented in their most attractive features, as painted in the bright anticipations of an expectant world, as drawn with all the cunning of Satan, and as reflecting in a distorted form His own person and vocation.

But He has overcome the threefold inward assault upon His soul (comp. the Gospel of Luke)—and the cravings of hunger indicate the weariness consequent upon this tremendous conflict. The victory which He has achieved in inward conflict, must now also appear in actual and historical incidents, and the outward temptations of Satan succeed His inward struggle.
This threefold historical victory of the Lord over the tempter also marks the grand scheme on which His work as the Saviour of the world was to be carried on. In opposition to the false principle of the world, He clearly realized the truth; in opposition to the spurious plans of Messiah’s kingdom cherished by the world, He chose what was spiritual; in opposition to the false ideas entertained about the work of salvation, He manifested Himself as the true Prophet, Priest, and King. To reject the spurious plans of the synagogue, was at the same time to adopt the true scheme of His mission. Modern [German evangelical] theology commenced with a more full appreciation of the human nature [and sinless perfection] of Jesus, and first spoke of His plan or design. Thus Reinhard has written a work on the Plan of Jesus; Ullmann has rejected the idea of any such scheme, but Neander has vindicated its higher bearing. If by the expression, “plan,” or “scheme,” we mean that the Saviour was distinctly conscious of the principle, the development, the means and the goal of His work, the Lord had undoubtedly a matured “plan.” But it was the leading characteristic of this plan, that it rejected and eliminated all that was merely external, every secular calculation; and that, in unfolding its own glorious proportions and spiritual phases, it proved mainly a negation of all the chiliastic schemes of the synagogue. One of its principal features consisted in this, that while these spurious pictures of the Messiah presented a Saviour who was such in name and appearance only, Jesus would manifest the character and the works of the true Messiah, and that He would avoid even the designation of Messiah, until by His working He had redeemed and purified its idea, which had been so fatally perverted (comp. the “Leben Jesu,” ii. 1, p. 231). Then Jesus chose the path of suffering instead of that of joy; humiliation unto obedience, instead of glory by self-exaltation. Hence, when at the close of His course the accuser tempted Him to despair, amidst the sorrows and under the burden of a guilty world, the Redeemer once more conquered, and entered upon the path of glory. Indeed, the most difficult part of His work was accomplished at the outset of His mission, when, in the power of the Spirit, He overcame Satan and the satanic temptation, connected with the spurious messianic expectations. He conquered Satan as the tempter in all the temptations of worldly allurement. Thus was the kingdom of darkness shaken in its inmost principle. This threefold victory unfolded and appeared in His ministry upon earth; and His triumph over the temptations of allurement, or over the tempter, in the strictest sense of the term, formed the prelude to His victory over the temptations of sorrow and suffering, or over the accuser, which awaited Him at the close of His course.

Thus the history of Christ’s temptation is of infinite import. The destruction of the foundations on which rested the kingdom of darkness, and the structure of the basis on which the salvation of man was reared, are connected with the mystery of those solitary conflicts which had been fought and gained before He entered on the discharge of His public ministry.

3. The following contrasts are significant for christology. The first Adam in paradise, Christ in the wilderness.—Moses (Exodus 34:28; Deuteronomy 9:9; Deuteronomy 9:18) and Elijah (1 Kings 19:8) in the wilderness, Christ in the wilderness.—The fasting of John, the fasting of Christ.—The magic of the world, the prophetic office of Christ.—The hierarchy of the world, the priesthood of Christ.—The political despotism of the world, and the kingdom of Christ.—Essenism and Christ.—Pharisæism and Christ.—Sadducæism and Christ.—Chiliastic tradition and perversion of Scripture by Satan; the word of God, and ever only the word of God, as adduced by Christ.—Christ in the wilderness tempted by the allurements of the world.—Christ in the garden tempted by the sorrow and burden of the world.—The tempter at the commencement of the public ministry of Jesus; the accuser at the close of it.—The offers of Satan, and the triumph of Christ and its results.

4. The symbolical import of the number 40 lies in this, that it contains multiples of ten and four:—ten is the perfect number for life, law, and freedom; four is the number for the full circle of the world. During these forty days, Christ, by the free act of his will, really overcame the world and the spirit of the world, even as Moses had done typically.10

5. As it was fitting that Christ should commence His work by conquering Satan, so also was it in keeping with the tendency of evil to overturn the kingdom of God first of all in its Founder—and that by means of pretended but false friendship.
6. By His victory over the tempter, Christ has for ever separated His kingdom from the demoniac principles, plans, and manifestations of Jewish and carnal Christian chiliasm.
7. The first consequence of Christ’s threefold renunciation of the world in His victory over Satan, was, that He betook himself to Galilee.


Seasons of great quickening and joy are generally followed by great temptations. 1. This appears from the history of Abraham, of David, of Peter, and of the Lord. 2. The reason of this is, that the Lord would lead His own to perfection from stage to stage.—Christ’s festive season a fast, and Christ’s fasting a festive season.—From His festive celebration as the Son of God, Jesus as the Son of man enters immediately into conflict, in order to prove the truth of the testimony concerning His Divine Sonship.—The temptation of Christ, a manifestation by historical facts of the choice and decision of which His baptism was the sacramental sign.—By his threefold temptation and victory, Christ manifests Himself as the victorious Messiah, or the Christ of God: 1. as the infallible Prophet; 2. as the faithful High Priest; 3. as the Supreme King.—The decisive conflict between the fulness of the Spirit in Christ and the appearance of spirituality in Satan.—The Holy Ghost leads the Lord to this decisive conflict with the devil.—Christ attacking human corruption at its root by conquering Satan.—The victory of Christ the preservation of Christians.—The threefold temptation and the threefold victory of the Lord.—How and in what manner our trials may become temptations of Satan.—Every temptation of Satan is, to the child of God, in reality a trial of faith.—What constitutes temptation is, that through the influence of the enemy we misunderstand and misinterpret the trial of our faith.—Temptation assails us through earthly instrumentality: more especially, 1. through our wants; 2. through spiritual delusions; 3. through worldly prospects and hopes.—How victory over one may become the occasion of another temptation.—How our first victory opens the prospect of the triumphs to follow.—Our temptations are numbered.—By the word of God, Christ triumphs even over the chiliastic traditions connected with the word of God.—Christ ever and again conquers by the word of God: 1. by His first quotation, over false doctrine; 2. by His second quotation, over a false interpretation of Scripture; 3. by His third quotation, over false and assumed authority.—The power of this saying: “It is written.”

The first temptation. Christ has undergone for us the temptation of human want and suffering.—Let not the contrast between our spiritual high estate and our outward circumstances become a snare to us.—According both to the Old and the New Testament, temptation commences with doubt.—The tempter in the form of an angel of light.—Temptation to distrustfulness.—Magic and miracles.—The magician and the prophet.—Miraculous sustenance and magical sustenance11 are two different things.—The magical manna [das Zauberbrod] which the world prepares for itself in its wilderness. 1. Its origin: (a) by wicked devices; (b) by wicked works. 2. Its apparent character: (a) boundless wealth; (b) boundless enjoyment. 3. Its real character; (a) guilt; (b) bankruptcy.12 4. Its final consequences: (a) poverty and want of the inner man; (b) poverty and want of the outer man.—He who would selfishly seek to convert stone into bread, will in reality convert even bread into stone.—Satan watches for the distress of man, to make it an occasion for transforming him into a beast of prey and a wicked spirit.—Such is the high calling of man, that he lives not by bread only.—Whoso depends on the mouth of God, his mouth shall not want food.—The judgment of Satan and that of Christ concerning man, in his want and distress. Satan in effect says: Man is a wretched being, suffering hunger; Christ says: So far as the real life of man is concerned, he is infinitely exalted above the mere animal cravings of hunger.—Christ would rather suffer hunger with man, than commit sin with supernatural spirits.—Trust in God ensures victory over the wants of the world.—The empty phrase of Satan rebutted by the simple word of Christ.—The bread of earth becomes transformed by the bread of heaven.—Christ has also conquered spurious anchoresism and asceticism.

The second temptation. The holiest things may be perverted to become the most vile temptation: 1. A stay in the holy city. 2. The prospect from the pinnacle of the temple. 3. The promise contained in an inspired psalm.—The victory of the Lord over religious fanaticism.—Destruction of the temple of spurious enthusiasm.—Victory of the great High Priest over the priestcraft of the world.—Christ and the show-miracles of the hierarchy.—The pomp of the temple, and worship in the spirit.—The giddy height on the pinnacle of the temple and the holy calm of the Lord.—Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God; for, 1. to tempt God is to impute evil to God Himself, since it is an attempt to drag Him into the ways of our own choosing; 2. to tempt God is to suffer oneself to be tempted by the evil one; 3. hence, to tempt God were to attempt rendering the Spirit of light subservient to the spirit of darkness.—To tempt God is to involve oneself in contradictions; for it implies, 1. faith without obedience; 2. prayer without self-surrender; 3. action without warrant from on high; 4. success without comfort or assurance.—Even the dictates of common sense may serve as a warning against fanaticism.—Where a way is already prepared, we are not warranted in attempting to make dangerous experiments for ourselves.—Pride goes before a fall.—The temple-stair itself a sermon.—Fanaticism mistakes excitement for spiritual emotion.—Fanaticism and priestly pretensions spring from one and the same religious delusion.—Christ vanquishes the fanatical pride of the priesthood by calm reverence for the Godhead.

The third temptation. Christ vanquishes the secular spirit of the world: 1. in its pomp; 2. in its pretensions; 3. in its cunning and deceit.—The kingdom of Christ as contrasted with those of the world.—When Satan offers to give away the world in exchange for an act of humble adoration, he shows himself to be, 1. a liar; 2. a deceiver; 3. a maligner of God and man.—The attractions of power, and the desire of exercising it absolutely and indiscriminately, are the two greatest temptations.—Satan has only the right of claiming as his own the worldliness of the world: 1. its vain show; 2. its guilt; 3. its despair.—Despotism and spurious worldly cunning, and their dark background.—When wickedness shows itself undisguised, we ought to designate it by its proper name.—Christians must meet every spurious claim to authority over their consciences, by an appeal to the word of Him who wields rightful authority over the conscience.—Daring usurpers will at last be met and confounded by the royal dignity and authority which belongs even to the humblest believer.—By serving God, Christ vanquishes the sinful service of the creature.—“Him only shalt thou serve.”—Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.—The ministry of angels after the assault of the devil.—Christ the Prince of angels, by his victory over the prince of the kingdom of darkness.—The greater the conflict, the more glorious the victory.—In all temptations Christ is our victory.

Starke:—We must prepare in retirement for important public undertakings.—God often permits His dear children to be visited by the most grievous temptations.—Solitude a training-school of the Holy Spirit.—Solitude is frequently the occasion of temptation.—In our temptations, let us ever distinguish between what comes from God and what from Satan.—Such a High Priest became us who was tempted in all things, Hebrews 4:15.—Frequent conflicts render the Christian strong.—They fit ministers for their work.—Oratio, meditatio, tentatio faciunt theologum.—We may readily recognise the bird of hell by its song.—Fasting as perverted by the Papacy, etc.—Moderation and temperance a continuous fasting.—Christ hungered because He partook of our infirmities.—Christ can have compassion on us when we suffer from hunger or thirst.—The devil adapts his temptations to the nature and circumstances of man.—If the devil ventured to approach the Son of God, how can the most advanced among us expect to be secure from his assaults?—Outward prosperity is not an evidence of sonship.—The word of God our armory.—Even the devil cannot set aside the Scriptures.13—All depends on the blessing which the Lord gives.—Outward means cannot sustain us, but God by outward means.—God is a supply which never fails or leaves unsatisfied.—If Satan does not succeed in one way, he will try another.—In his own way, the devil is learned in the Scriptures.—To pervert Scripture is to follow in the wake of the devil.—Satan fell by his pride and arrogance, and now seeks to ruin others in the same manner.—To expose oneself to danger, except in the way of our calling, from necessity, or with the direct warrant of the word, is presumption.—Satan encompasses the fall of carnal men by showing them even a small portion of this world.—Satan promises his servants what he himself does not possess, nay, what God has in Christ already promised and given to His own.—It is no right to hear blasphemy without reproving it.—He who would prevent us from serving God, and persuade us to serve the world, is Satan so far as we are concerned.—There is a “hitherto and no further” in every temptation.—Every honest conflict will certainly be followed by victory.—Christ has triumphed for us.

Gerlach:—The word of God is our armor against Satan.—Christ takes as His shield the law of God: Thou shalt! He was made under the law (Galatians 4:4).

Heubner:—If solitude has its advantages, it has also its great dangers.—Satan appears here in his true character: he arrogates to himself what belongs to God alone—dominion over the soul; in short, he claims to be God.—The man who in his aims is actuated by ambition and love of power, is thereby rendered unfit for the service of God; yet how many theologians are impelled by such motives!—The temptation of Christ; 1. wherein it consisted, and how it was resisted (three stages, three victories); 2. its consequences: Jesus proving Himself to be the Holy One; Jesus our model in similar conflicts; Jesus our refuge and strength.—How temptations followed Christ throughout His course.—The impotence of all temptations in the case of Christ.—Comparison between the temptation of Christ and that of Adam.—Marheineke:—How closely good and evil border upon each other in our human nature!—Harms:—The conflict between good and evil. This conflict is threefold: 1. A conflict between doubt and trustfulness; 2. a conflict between presumption and modesty; 3. the conflict between the lust of the world and the love of God.—Schleiermacher:—The temptation of the Lord viewed with reference to our state and position in this world.—Bachmann:—The temptation of Jesus the Son of God in the wilderness. It was a temptation, 1. to doubt the word of God; 2. to presume upon the word of God; 3. to reject the word of God.—Greiling:—The three passions by which men are commonly tempted to sin (covetousness, pride, ambition).—Reinhard:—The decisive periods which commonly occur in the life of every man.—Ahlfeld:—The conflict of Christians with the tempter: 1. His attack; 2. their defence; 3. the victory.—(Comp. also Three Sermons on the History of the Temptation by J. P. Lange, Barmen, 1836. Brückner: The History of the Temptation of our Lord. Four Meditations, Leipzig, 1857.)



The Sinaitic Manuscript of the Bible, which Professor Tischendorf rescued from the obscurity of the Convent of St Catharine on Mount Sinai, and carefully edited in two editions in 1862 and 1863,* two years after the issue of the third edition of Dr. Lange’s Commentary on Matthew, has been carefully compared in preparing the American edition of this work from Chapter 8 to the close of the Gospel of Matthew. I thought I was the first to do so, but just before I finished the last pages of this volume, I found that Bäumlein, in his Commentary on the Gospel of St. John,** and Meyer, in the fifth edition of his Commentary on Matthew, both of which appeared in 1864, had preceded me, at least in print. No critical scholar can ignore this manuscript hereafter. For it is the only complete, and perhaps the oldest of all the uncial codices of the Bible, or at least of the same age and authority as the celebrated Vatican Codex (which is traced by some to the middle of the fourth century), and far better edited by the German Protestant Professor, Tischendorf, than the latter was by the Italian Cardinal, Angelo Mai. In the absence of a simpler mark agreed upon by critics (the proposed designation by the Hebrew א has not yet been adopted, and is justly objected to by Tregelles and others on the ground of typographical inconvenience), I introduce it always as Cod. Sin., and I find that Dr. Meyer in the fifth edition does the same. As I could not procure a copy of the printed edition of this Codex till I had finished the first seven chapters, I now complete the critical part of the work by adding its more important readings in the first seven chapters where they differ from the textus receptus, on which the authorized English, as well as all the older Protestant Versions of the Greek Testament are substantially based.

*Novum Testamentum Sinaiticum, sive Novum Testamentum cum Epistola Barnabœ et Fragmentis Pastoris (Hermæ). Ex Codice Sinaitico auspiciis Alexandri II., omnium Russiarum imperatoris, ex tenebris protracto orbique litterarum tradito accurate descripsit Ænotheus Friderious Constantinus Tischendorf, theol. et phil. Dr., etc. etc. Lipsiæ, 1863. The text is arranged in four columns and covers 148 folios; the learned Prolegomena of the editor 81 folios. There is besides a magnificent photo-lithographed fac-simile edition of the whole Sinaitic Bible, published at the expense of the Emperor of Russia, in 4 volumes (3 for the Old and 1 for the New Testament, the latter in 148 folios), under the title: Bibliorum Codex Sinaiticus Petropolitanus. Auspiciis augustissimis imperatoris Alexandri II. ed. Const. Tischendorf. Petropoli, 1862. A copy of this rare edition I have also consulted occasionally, in the Astor Library of New York. For fuller information on this important Codex (in the words of Tischendorf: “omnium codicum uncialium solus integer omniumque antiquissimus”), we must refer the reader to the ample Prolegomena of Tischendorf, also to an article of Hilgenfeld in his Zeitschrift für wissenschaftliche Theologie, vol. vii. (1864), p. 74 ff. (who is disposed to assign it to a somewhat later age), and to Scrivener’s treatise, which I have not seen.

**Hengstenberg, in his Commentary on John, concluded in 1863, pays no attention whatever to this Codex, and is very defective in a critical point of view

Matthew 4:5.—Cod. Sin.: εστησεν, text. rec.: ἰστησιν (E. V.: setteth). Lachmann and Alford adopt ἔστησεν with B., C., D., Z., while Tischendorf (7 ed., 1859) and Meyer retain ί̓στησιν. The aorist interrupts the flow of the prœsens historicum in this verse (παραλαμβάνε…λέγει), comp. Matthew 1:8; Matthew 1:10, and may have been a correction from Luke 4:9.

Matthew 4:10.—ὀπίσωμου, behind me, is wanting in Cod. Sin., as in other important witnesses, and in Elzevir’s ed. (see the apparatus in the crit. editions), and is probably an old insertion from Matthew 16:23, where Peter is addressed. Comp. Lange’s Exeg. Note on Matthew 4:10, p. 85.


[1] Matthew 4:1.—[By is more expressive of ὑπό as distinct from ἐκ.]

[2] Matthew 4:2.—[Brit. ed.: an hungered. Better in modern and usual English: He afterward hungered, or was hungry.]

[3] Matthew 4:5.—[Gr. τὸ πτερύγιον. See Com.]

[4] Matthew 4:6.—[Lest haply, μήποτε.]

[5] Matthew 4:7.—[Again it is w., πάλιν γέγραπται.]

[6][But Bengel means that Satan himself appeared to Christ under the disguise of a scribe, not wishing to be known as Satan.—P. S.]

[7][H. A. W. Meyer ad Matthew 4:0. p. 125 (5th ed.) pronounces the Temptation an ideal history, i. e. a myth, which, however, implies a historical truth, inasmuch as it reflects and symbolizes the real fact of Christ’s victory over the empire of Satan, which runs through his whole life. But this concession removes the ground for all valid objection to the real historical character of the narrative. For what is internally true and consistent may become a real fact. Of Hegel’s maxim: Alles Vernünflige ist wirklich, und alles Wirkliche ist vernünflig, the first clause (everything reasonable is real) is more truthful than the second.—P. S.]

[8]Connected with this view are other similar notions formerly entertained, such as, that the wilderness was that of Arabia,—the mountain, Mount Sinai, or. Mount Tabor, or Mount Nebo: that Jesus was in a state of lowest humiliation, and passive in the hands of Satan, who carried him away through the air, etc. Comp. Starke.

[9][Jos. Addison Alexander on Matthew 4:8 (p. 85), places the scene of this temptation on the Mount of Olives, and thus explains the vision of all the kingdoms: “Sheweth, causes Him to see, not upon a map or picture … nor by an optical illusion . . but either by a voluntary and miraculous extension of His vision on His own part or by a combination of sensible perception with rhetorical description . . an actual exhibition of what lay within the boundary of vision, and an enumeration of the kingdoms which in different directions lay beyond it, with a glowing representation of their wealth and cower (and the glory of them).”—P. S.]

[10][Here the Edinb. trsl., misled by a strange error of the first edition of the original, substitutes twice the number seven for ten, the work of God for life, law and freedom world and time (Weltzeit) for orb or circle of the world (Weltkreis), etc., and thus obscures or perverts the sense of the passage completely. Dr. Lange anticipated the correction of the later editions of Matt. in the preface to the first edition of his Com. on Mark.—P. S.]

[11][“Wunderbrod und Zauberbrod,”—literally: wonder-bread and magic bread. The sense is plain enough. But the term admits of a wide application. Not only magicians, sorcerers and soothsayers, but all those who live of dishonest gain and humbug, may be said to eat Zauberbrod.—P. S.]

[12][Schuld; Schulden,—literally: guilt; debts. The Edb. trsl. has difficulties, which is too general.—P. S.]

[13] [Comp. Shakspeare, Merchant of Venice, Act I., Scene 3, where Antonio says to Bassanio:

“The devil can cite Scripture for his purpose.
An evil soul, producing holy witness,
Is like a villain with a smiling cheek;
A goodly apple rotten at the heart;
O, what a goodly outside falsehood hath!” —P. S.]

Verses 12-17

B. Matthew 4:12-17

Contents:—First appearance of Jesus as the light of the world amidst the darkness of the land of Galilee

12      Now, when Jesus had heard that John was cast into prison, [delivered up,14] he de parted into Galilee15; 13And leaving Nazareth, he came and dwelt in Capernaum, which is upon the sea coast, in the borders of Zabulon and Nephthalim16: 14That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias [Isaiah] the prophet, saying, 15The land of Zabulon, and the land of Nephthalim, by the way of the sea, beyond [the] Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles; 16The people which sat in darkness saw great light; and to them which sat in the region and shadow of death light is sprung up. 17From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.


Matthew 4:12. Now, when Jesus had heard.—The Evangelist passes over a number of intervening events, viz.: 1. the return of Jesus to Galilee (John 1:41, etc.); 2. the marriage in Cana, the journey to Capernaum in company with His relatives and disciples, and that to Jerusalem to the passover (John 2:0); 3. the stay of Jesus at Jerusalem and in the land of Judæa previous to the imprisonment of John (John 3:0); 4. the return of Jesus by way of Samaria, and His stay there (John 4:1-42).—The event recorded in the text took place at the time referred to in John 4:43-46. In the passage before us, Matthew briefly alludes to the stay of Jesus at Nazareth,—the same which is mentioned Luke 4:14 sqq.,—but dilates on it more fully in Matthew 13:53. We account for this transposition from the peculiar structure of the Gospel,—the object of the Evangelist being to group events so as to present a continuous narrative. The actual succession of events is more accurately indicated in the Gospel by Luke, although it also contains no mention of the first passover which Jesus attended at Jerusalem, nor of His stay in Judæa and Samaria. From the narrative of Luke we learn that Jesus was even at that time rejected by the people of Nazareth, and that he then uttered the saying, that “a prophet had no honor in his own country.” But, according to John, Jesus spoke these words when returning from Jerusalem to Galilee through Samaria. Commentators have felt a difficulty in explaining the circumstance, that (according to John) Jesus should have been saying that “a prophet had no honor in his own country,” at the very time when He was on His journey to Galilee. It might seem that such a statement would rather imply His departure from Galilee. But the difficulty is removed by recalling to mind the precise geographical arrangements of the country. In John 4:43, the Evangelist uses the word Galilee not in the general sense, but as a man familiar with the district would apply the term—a circumstance which may be regarded as an indirect evidence of the truthfulness of his narrative. What he calls Galilee is not the province in question as contradistinguished from Judæa, but the district of Upper Galilee in opposition to Lower Galilee, in which Nazareth was situate. The boundary-line between Upper and Lower Galilee ran due east and west between Nazareth and Cana. In John 4:43-44, the Evangelist makes only a passing allusion to the rejection of Jesus at Nazareth, and dwells in preference on the fact, that the Saviour was gladly received by the inhabitants of Galilee proper. From what we have said, it will be clear that the accounts of Matthew and John are not inconsistent, as Meyer imagines; although that commentator is right in maintaining, against Wieseler, that the passage in the text does not refer to the journey to Galilee recorded in John 6:1. Finally, we gather from the account in Matthew that the imprisonment of John by Antipas took place some time after the celebration of the first passover which Jesus attended, and after His stay in Judæa.

That John was delivered up, (i.e. into prison).—The ground on which the Baptist was imprisoned is afterwards recorded, on the occasion of his execution (Matthew 14:4). Fritzsche supposes that the imprisonment of John induced Jesus to appear in Galilee, lest the people of that country should be deprived of spiritual support; while Meyer regards this event as a motive for His retirement to that province, since “the more remote district of Galilee, although under the rule of Herod Antipas, would naturally attract less attention, and thus afford shelter.” But although Capernaum lay in Upper Galilee, yet, from its proximity to Tiberias—the residence of Herod—and the intercourse between these two places, both situate on the Lake of Galilee, anything which occurred in Capernaum would much more readily attract attention than what took place in Nazareth, which lay out of the way among the mountains. Besides, it was at this very time that Jesus commenced His public ministry, and called disciples around Him. The connection between the imprisonment of John and the appearance of Jesus in “Galilee of the Gentiles,” as well as the cessation of the preparatory baptism which the disciples of Jesus had for a time administered (John 4:1-2,) may readily be otherwise explained. The imprisonment of John, and the tame acquiescence of the country in this act, had put an end to the hope of preparing the people for the kingdom of Messiah by Levitical purifications, or legal purity. Now that the attempt at outward purity had been thus rudely stopped, Jesus might, in the consciousness of His own inward and eternal purity, all the more readily commence His work in Galilee of the Gentiles, amidst publicans and sinners, by gathering around Him a circle of disciples.

Matthew 4:13. He came and dwelt in Capernaum.—Καφαρναούμ, כְּפַר נָחוּם, meaning, according to Hesychius, Origen, and Jerome, vicus consolationis, but according to others (Winer, Meyer), the village of Nahum. The town lay on the borders of the tribes of Zebulun and Naphtali, on the western shore of the Lake of Gennesareth, probably near where the Jordan entered that lake. It was a thriving commercial place, on the road from Damascus to the Mediterranean. Capernaum was inhabited both by Jews and Gentiles; in Jewish writings it is characterized as the residence of heretics and free-thinkers (von Ammon, “Leben Jesu,” p. 359). The contrast between Capernaum, where Jesus dwelt, and Tiberias, the residence of Antipas—a city which the Lord uniformly avoided, but which, after the destruction of Jerusalem, became one of the holy places of the Jews,17—is striking. But the prediction of Christ in regard to Capernaum, once so highly favored, has been most signally and literally fulfilled (Matthew 11:23). At this moment every trace of the site of Capernaum has disappeared. Wilson and others regard the ruins of Tell Hum (i. e. Nahum) as the ancient site of Capernaum. As the town is not mentioned in the Old Testament, it seems probable that it was built after the return from the Babylonish exile. Josephus (Vita, 72) calls the town Καφαρνώμη. In another place (De Bello Jud. iii. 10, 8) he assigns the name of Καφαρνασύμ to a fountain in Galilee. According to Robinson, this fountain is the modern ’Ain et Tin, by the Lake of Gennesareth, near the Khan Minyeh, which he regards as the site of ancient Capernaum. But this opinion is not generally entertained. Comp. the art. Capernaum in the Bibl. Encycls.

Matthew 4:14-15. That it might be fulfilled.—In this instance we have the fulfilment of a verbal prophecy, the passages in Isaiah 8:22; Isaiah 9:1-2, being strictly Messianic in their primary meaning, although the prophet seems also to have had in view the oppression of the Assyrians, under which at that time Northern Palestine groaned. But, as in every other similar instance, the event recorded in Matthew 4:13 did not take place simply on account of this prediction, but on independent grounds. The passage is cited freely from the original Hebrew: “At the first (in ancient times) He brought to shame the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali; but afterward (in later times) He brought to honor the (despised) way of the sea, beyond Jordan, the circuit (Galilee) of the Gentiles. The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light; and they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined.” In the quotation as given by Matthew, the despised district is even more pointedly indicated as the land of Zabulon and the land of Nephthalim, the way of the sea (the road by the sea, or the great road of the traffic of the world), the beyond Jordan, (even) Galilee of the Gentiles. In our opinion, the Sea of Galilee was not so important a highway for the traffic of the ancient world as to give to the district around the designation of “the way of the sea,” more especially as the three expressions in the text are not intended to designate three different objects, but one and the same thing viewed under different aspects. In the first clause, Galilee is designated as profane, being the way of the sea for all the world; in the second clause, as extending northward beyond the sources of Jordan, the holy river; finally, in the third clause, as being really a heathen district, largely inhabited by Gentiles. But the expression γῆ, without the article, may be regarded as the nominative. Before ὁδὸν θαλάσσης we must again supply the γῆ of the former clause,—toward the sea, or the way of the sea. The absolute accusative ὁδόν is a Hebraistic form like דֶּרֶךְ, and equivalent to the Latin versus (comp. Meyer, p. 111). The expression πέραντοῦ ’Ιορδάνου cannot in this instance mean Peræa, or the country east of Jordan. A reference to that district would be here quite out of place, as the name “Galilee of the Gentiles” is intended again to designate the tribes of Naphtali and Zebulun. The territory of Naphtali extended northward beyond the source of the Jordan; and from a theocratic point of view, this, and not Peræa, would constitute the πέραντ. I., although that expression was commonly applied to Peræa. Besides, Peræa was not the first scene of Christ’s ministry. Meyer, indeed, maintains that the Evangelist overlooked the historical meaning of the passage in Isaiah, which was only Messianic in a theocratic and political sense, referring to the deliverance of Northern Galilee from the oppression of the Assyrians. But this commentator forgets that Isaiah 9:1 sqq. is a strictly Messianic prediction, although it rests, of course, on the historical basis of the age of the prophet.

Matthew 4:16. The people which sat in darkness.—Apposition to the preceding designation of the locality which was to be illuminated by the light of the Messiah. The darkness of the country is explained by the sad spiritual state of the people. In view of the spiritual condition of the people at the time, the Evangelist modifies the distinction made by Isaiah between those that walk in darkness, who see a great light, and those that dwell or sit in the land of the shadow of death. In the passage as quoted by Matthew, the state of matters has apparently become worse than in the days of Isaiah, and even those who formerly “walked” are now represented as “sitting” in darkness. But the gradation of the original is retained; and we have still the contrast between those who sit in darkness and see a great light, and those who sit in the region and shadow of death, and only become aware of the light because it has sprung up for them. In the Hebrew their passiveness is even more strongly expressed—נָגַהּ צֲלֵיהֶם, upon them light hath shined. “Καθήμενος sedendi verbum aptum notandæ solitudini inerti,”—(the verb to sit aptly denotes a sluggish solitude).—Bengel. Σκιὰ θανάτου, צַלְמָוֶת, tenebræ mortis. On the darkness of Sheol, comp. Job 10:21, etc.

Matthew 4:17. From that time Jesus began.—Matthew calls attention to the circumstance, that with the settlement of Jesus at Capernaum, in Upper Galilee, a new period in His public ministry began. The κηρύσσειν of the kingdom of heaven in the strictest sense now commenced, and for this purpose He set apart some of His disciples to be His Apostles. The call, Repent, μετανοεῖτε, has now a higher meaning than when first uttered by John the Baptist (Matthew 3:2), and a more full manifestation of His miraculous power proves that the kingdom of heaven is really at hand. Although He does not designate Himself to the people as the Messiah, yet the kingdom of Messiah was appearing. From the manifestation of that kingdom now vouchsafed, the people are to recognise the Prince of Peace in His true and New Testament character. (The assertion of Strauss, that Jesus had not regarded Himself at first as the Messiah, requires no special answer; the suggestion, that Christ gradually changed His original plan, has been discarded even by the writer who proposed it.)


1. As John carried on his public ministry at the extreme boundary of the Holy Land, in the wilderness, so Jesus also appeared first at another extreme limit of the country, in Upper Galilee. Capernaum became His earthly residence. This choice had a twofold advantage. For while He thereby gave a practical denial to the carnal Messianic hopes and expectations of the people of Judæa, He also occupied a field most suitable for His own peculiar activity. There He found the greatest susceptibility for the kingdom, and readiness to receive Him, especially among those retired worshippers of Jehovah who lived by the Lake of Galilee, and particularly among the disciples of John, whom He had already attracted around Him. This residence of the Saviour in Galilee had been predicted, and was a signal fulfilment of the great Messianic prophecy of Isaiah. Lastly, His abode among the fishermen of Galilee was in complete harmony with what His baptism and the victory over the tempter implied; being, in truth, a perfect renunciation of the world in reference to its carnal views concerning the theocracy and the Messiah.
2. But we may also regard this as a manifestation of His Spirit and of His Gospel. Just as He commenced His destruction of the kingdom of darkness, by conquering the power of Satan in his chief temptations, so He commenced the building up of the kingdom of heaven among the most despised portion of His people, the most needy and the most destitute of the means which the synagogue provided for cultivating spiritual life. It was among these that the Saviour first publicly and unreservedly proclaimed the kingdom of heaven.


Complete renunciation of the world on the part of the Lord is followed by His full proclamation of the kingdom of heaven.—When the kingdom of heaven arrives, the symbolical administration of priests is at an end.—When the work of John ceases, that of Christ begins.—The kingdom of God will never want messengers of God who stand in the gap.—If one prophet is imprisoned, a greater one will be sent in his place. If they burn the goose, a swan will arise from its ashes.18—Jesus a stranger both at Nazareth, where His youthful years were spent, and at Capernaum, where He appeared after attaining to manhood.—Obscurity of that which is holy in its own home, showing: 1. The corruption of the world; 2. the spiritual glory of the heavenly life.—The light of salvation rising upon dark places: 1. Upon the earth, in opposition to the external heavens; 2. upon Galilee, in opposition to the land of Judæa; 3. upon the Gentile world, in opposition to the Jews; 4. upon the despised Germanic races, in opposition to the ancient Romanic Church.—The land of the shadow of death: 1. The home of sinners; 2. the heart of the sinner.—The difference between those who see a great light, and those upon whom a great light rises. 1. The former look upwards, the latter look downwards. 2. The former descry the star of salvation, the latter only the light which it sheds.—From that time Jesus began. The ancient theocratic institutions of Israel may be said to have been abrogated when John was cast into prison.—The call to repentance, from the commencement to the end of the world, 1. always the same in substance; 2. always different in form.—The kingdom of heaven is as closely at hand as Christ is.—The call: Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. 1. It contains two things: (a) the kingdom of heaven is at hand; (b) therefore repent. 2. It may be summed up in the expression, “kingdom of heaven;” for, (a) repentance is only the gate to the kingdom of heaven; (b) the kingdom of heaven is the grand object and goal of repentance.—In His humiliation, Christ has manifested His exaltation. 1. Rejected on earth, He opened up His kingdom of heaven. 2. Obscure and unknown by man, He revealed the spiritual world in all its blessedness. 3. Renouncing all, He bestows every blessing.

Starke:—Let us show holy obedience in being ready to change our habitation when the Lord calls.—Many live under the full blaze of the Gospel as if they still sat in the shadow of death.—When the world silences one honored servant of the Lord, God raises up others; the Church shall never be left destitute of them.—Repentance without faith is no repentance (and faith without repentance is no faith).—Agreement subsisting between all pure teachers of the Church (John and Jesus).

Heubner:—It is God’s method to cause light to arise from humble and despised places.—Jesus would not be far distant even from the Gentiles.


[14] Matthew 4:12—[παρεδόθη, Lange: überliefert. Wicl., Tynd., Cranm., Geneva: was taken; the Bishop’s Bible (and the Rom. Cath. Verse of Rheims) correctly: delivered up, with the marginal explanation: “that is, cast into prison,” which the Auth. Vers. received into the text, while it put the translation into the margin, influenced perhaps (as Dr. Conant suggests) by Beza’s version: traditum esse in custodiam, and his note: id est, in carcerem conjectum ease.—P. S.]

[15] Matthew 4:12—Galilee proper in the narrower sense of the term.

[16] Matthew 4:13.—[Or: Zebulun and Naphtali, after the Hebrew spelling, which is followed by the Auth. Vers. in the Old Test. See the Hebrew concordances.—P. S.]

[17][The rise of Tiberias, as a Jewish city, is, however, of much later date. For an account of the circumstances connected with its final “Levitical purification,” see Edersheim’s Hist. of the Jewish Nation, p. 488.—The Edinb. Tr.]

[18][This sentence: “Verbrennen sie die Gans, so kommt der Schwan,” which Dr. Edersheim omitted, is an allus on to an apocryphal prophecy ascribed to the reformer Hus, who was burnt at the stake for heresy, July 6, 1415, by order of the Council of Constance, and is said to have uttered, in his last hour, the words: “ To-day you roast a goose,”—alluding to his name which is the Bohemian word for goose—“but from mine ashes will arise a swan”—the armorial device of Luther—“whom you will not be able to destroy.” This prediction occurs first in the Latin works of Luther (Altenburg ed., vol. v., p. 599, etc.), and seems to have arisen in the age of the Reformation from certain vague and general sayings of Hus concerning the ultimate triumph of his doctrines (comp. Gieseler, Kirchengeschichte, vol. ii., Part IV., p. 417 sq). The sentence has assumed a somewhat proverbial significance, although very rarely used.—P. S.]

Verses 18-22

C. Matthew 4:18-22

(The Gospel for St. Andrew ‘s Day)

Contents:—In His obscurity and retirement from the world, which He had renounced, the Saviour commences the conquest of the world by calling four fishermen by the Sea of Galilee.

18And Jesus, walking by the Sea of Galilee, saw two brethren, Simon called Peter,19 and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea: for they were fishers. And he 20 said unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men. And they straight way left their nets, and followed him. 21And going on from thence, he saw other two brethren, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in a [the]19 ship with Zebedee their father, mending their nets; and he called them. 22And they immediately left the ship and their father, and followed him.


Matthew 4:18. By the Sea of Galilee.—Lake Gennesaret, λίμνη Γεννησαρέτ, Luke 5:1 (also Γεννησάρ, Γεννησαρῖτις, Genesara, יָס כִּנֶּרֶת); ἡ θάλασσα τῆς Τιβεριάδος, John 21:1; ἡ θαλ. τῆς Γαλιλαίας, Matthew 15:29, etc. The lake, which is formed by the river Jordan, is about six hours, or 150 stadia long, and about half as broad [twelve or fourteen miles long, six or seven miles in breadth, and 165 feet deep.—P. S.]. The water is salubrious, fresh, and clear; it contains abundance of fish; the banks are picturesque, although at present bare; toward the west they are intersected by calcareous mountains,—toward the east the lake is bounded by high mountains (800 to 1,000 feet high), partly of chalk and partly of basalt formation. It is of an oval form, being a deep depression in an upland country (according to Schubert, its level is 535 feet below the Mediterranean).20 Besides these remarkable natural features, the contrast between the present desolation of its shores and their flourishing state at the time of Jesus, when covered with cities and inhabited by a busy throng,—above all, the solemn remembrance of the Lord’s labors, render it a most striking object. On the difference between the accounts of Schubert and of Robinson in regard to the beauty of the lake, comp. Winer, art. Genezareth. Recent travellers have furnished ample details of the district (comp. Josephus, De Bello Jud. iii. 10, 7).

Simon called Peter.—The designation Peter is given by way of historical anticipation. Simon, contracted from Simeon, שִׁמִעוֹן (hearing, favorable hearing). On the name Peter, comp. Matthew 16:18.

Andrew.—A purely Greek name (see Winer sub verbo); which, however, also occurred among the Jews at a later period. Andrew and John were the earliest disciples of Jesus,—the first who joined the Saviour, following the direction of John the Baptist, whose disciples they had been (John 1:39). It is uncertain whether Andrew was the elder brother of Peter. His home was at Bethsaida (John 1:44). For further particulars about this disciple, see Matthew 10:0

Casting a net into the sea.—The circumstance that they were just about to commence their daily labor, is mentioned for the purpose of bringing out the significancy of their instantly following Christ. The same remark applies to the narrative of the calling of the sons of Zebedee when preparing their nets.

Matthew 4:19. Follow me.—Meyer has again repeated the old objection, so frequently refuted, that this passage is incompatible with John 1:37, and with Luke 5:4. But John only refers to the first summoning of disciples, while here we have an account of their express call to follow the Lord, in the sense of becoming His servants and messengers. In Luke 5:4 we have the details of a scene connected with this calling. Wieseler rightly distinguishes, 1. between their preliminary call, implying discipleship in general and adoption of His cause, but without any special obligation, John 1:35 sqq.; 2. their selection as continuous and regular followers of the Lord, Matthew 4:18 sqq. (also Luke 5:4); and 3. the choice of twelve to be Apostles, Matthew 10:2-4. These stages may also be arranged as follows: 1. Reception as disciples in the most general sense (catechumens) 2. selection for service, by continuous following of the Lord (Evangelists); 3. selection to be the representatives of the Lord, with bestowal of the power to work miracles (Apostles). The latter distinction was, however, bestowed upon the Apostles with certain conditions and limitations, until after the outpouring of the Holy Ghost on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:4).

I will make you fishers of men.—The meaning evidently is, that by devotion, prudence, and perseverance, they were to gain souls for the kingdom of Christ from the sea of the world. Thus the imagery employed by the Saviour connects their former with their new vocation,—their secular employment serving as emblem of their spiritual calling. On the other hand, the words indicate the infinite superiority of the work to which they were now called.

Matthew 4:21. James the son of Zebedee.—From this passage it has rightly been inferred, that James was the elder brother of John. The sons of Zebedee, too, immediately relinquished their former occupation at the moment when they were about to resume it with fresh ardor. Another feature in their spiritual history is, that along with their nets, they are called to leave their father also. The narrative seems to imply that Zebedee gave his consent.


1. “The sea is the emblem of the world. The number four is the symbolic number of the world.” The first step in the conquest of the world was taken when Jesus summoned these four Apostles to become fishers of men to all the world.

Christ’s spiritual renunciation of the world forms the commencement of its spiritual conquest. This conquest is accomplished by the power of the kingdom of heaven, and for the kingdom of heaven of which Jesus has become the king by His renunciation of the world. Among these four disciples, Peter may be regarded as representing the foundation of the new church; James the elder (as James the younger at a later date) the government and preservation of the same. Upon Andrew it devolved to prepare the way of the Gospel, and its extension throughout the world; while John sounded the inmost depths of spiritual realities. In striking contrast with the practice sanctioned by corrupt traditionalism, the Lord chose as His instruments pious though unlearned fishermen, and not Rabbins. These humble men had, indeed, also their prejudices, which required to be overcome, but in vastly different measure from the learned of that age. It is therefore an entire mistake on the part of some older divines, to speak of the want of proper qualification and preparation in the disciples.
2. Luther:—“If the Gospel required the potentates of this world for its planting and preservation, God would not have committed it to fishermen.”


Christ’s retirement by the Sea of Galilee the inauguration of the kingdom of heaven.—The commencement of the new era.—The Lord’s walking His most glorious work.—The irresistible power of the call of Jesus in the hearts of the elect. 1. As inherent in the call itself. It is the irresistible power, (a) of the Redeemer, the God-Man; (b) of the Holy Spirit setting us free; (c) of blessed love; (d) of supreme power guiding and directing us. 2. As springing from spiritual influence on the heart of the disciples: (a) The Father drawing them, (b) by the word of prophecy; (c) by their first converse with the Lord.—Only the call of the Lord can confer the miniaterial office.—Faithfulness in a lower sphere is the condition and preparation for a higher.—The call of the Lord, Follow me, 1. an invitation to full communion with Him; 2. a demand of perfect self-renunciation for His sake; 3. an announcement of a new sphere of activity under Him; 4. a promise of rich reward from Him.—The call of Jesus to follow Him, 1. a call to faith; 2. a call to labor; 3. a call to suffering and cross-bearing; 4. a call to our blessed home.—How the Lord transforms our earthly calling into an emblem of our heavenly.—The work of apostleship under the simile of the art of fishing. 1. We must know the lake; 2. we must know how to allure; 3. we must be able patiently to wait; 4. we must be ready to hazard our lives; 5. we must cast out the net in confidence; 6. we must expect a draught.—The Divine character of the Church of Christ, as manifest in this, that it was founded by unlearned fishermen and publicans.—Christ manifesting Himself as the heavenly Master, in the selection of His first Apostles.—He who would follow the Lord, must be ready to leave all things.—The four Apostles, brethren after the flesh, and brethren in the kingdom of God. 1. A tokes how true brotherly feeling leads to the Lord; 2. how the highest brotherhood is that in the Lord; 3. how heavenly brotherhood sheds a halo around earthly relationship.—The four friends by the Like of Galilee, or the blessing of true friendship. 1. It leads to seeking the Lord; 2. it springs from finding the Lord.—How the sovereignty of Christ over the world appears by His making four fishermen from the Sea of Galilee princes in the kingdom of God.—If we are to win others for the Lord, we ourselves must have been first won by Him.—The ideal perfectness of every art and vocation in Christ.—That which Christ teaches He also works in us.—The calling of the Apostles the commencement of a new creation.

Starke:—Jesus still chooses teachers for His work, nay, He has chosen them from all eternity.—Let none fancy that he can succeed by himself; even Christ chose assistants.—A minister must be called of God.—We must first follow Jesus ourselves before bringing others to Him.—Let us not only call each other brethren, but prove ourselves such.—He who would enter upon the ministry in the spirit of the Apostles, must be ready to renounce every human tie.

Heubner:—If Christ asks much, He also promises much.—The Apostles are our ensample how to follow Christ.


[19] Matthew 4:21.—[ἐν τῷ πλοἰῳ. Tynd., Cranm., and the Bishop’s Bible correctly: in the ship; Wicl., Ger., Auth. V., and Bheims: in a ship;—P. S.]

[20][According to Lieut. Symonds it is 328, according to Lieut. Lynch 653 feet below the level of the Mediterranean. See the various Biblic. Dictionaries.—P. S.]

Verses 23-25

D. Matthew 4:23-25

Contents:—Jesus passing through Galilee like an ordinary Rabbi, but manifesting Himself as the Saviour of all nations

23And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel21 of the kingdom, and healing all manner of sickness, and all manner of disease,among the people. 24And his fame went throughout all Syria: and they brought unto him all sick people that were taken with divers diseases and torments, and those which were possessed with devils, and those which were lunatic, and those that had the palsy; and he healed them. 25And there followed him great multitudes of people from Galilee, and from Decapolis, and from Jerusalem, and from Judea, and from beyond Jordan.


Matthew 4:23. And Jesus went about all Galilee.—The term probably implies only Upper Galilee. The passage may, however, be regarded as giving a summary or general view of Christ’s activity throughout Galilee. This activity formed part of His work in the various districts of Palestine, since Matthew also specially notes His labors in Peræa and Judæa. Galilee, in the more general sense of the term, formed the northernmost part of Palestine, being fifty English miles long and twenty to twenty-five English miles broad, and bounded on the west by the sea and Phœnicia, on the north by Cœlesyria, on the east by the Jordan and the Lake of Tiberias, and on the south by Samaria, where in the west the brook Kishon, and farther east a line drawn from Mount Tabor to Scythopolis, and the promontory of Carmel, formed its boundary. Originally the name הַגִּלִיל (Joshua 20:7; Joshua 21:32) was confined to the circuit of Upper Galilee; afterward the province was divided into Upper and Lower Galilee. The former was a mountainous country, the latter partly level. Upper Galilee extended from Beersheba to the village of Baca, and from the village of Thella, near Jordan, to Meroth. According to Strabo, it was partly inhabited by Gentiles (by Phœnicians, Syrians, Arabs; according to Joseph., Vita, xii, also by Greeks); hence the name, Galilee of the Gentiles. The district is alpine, and of the chalk formation. Its mountains do not rise to any considerable height; the valleys are very romantic. Galilee was a most fertile country, equally adapted for agriculture and pasturage, besides having the lake within Its district. Hence the large number of its inhabitants (Joseph., De Bello Jud iii. 3, 1). It contained 404 towns and villages. The people of Galilee were brave, industrious, and intelligent; although the inhabitants of Judæa proper looked down upon them on account of their contact with the heathen and their uncouth dialect. For further particulars, comp. Winer [Kitto, W. Smith], and the works on the Holy Land.

Teaching in their synagogues.—The general sketch of Christ’s sphere of activity is followed by a description of its peculiar mode. Conforming to Jewish custom, He appeared as a travelling Rabbi in the various synagogues of Galilee. The συναγωγή (from συνάγω, the congregation), in the Sept. for עִדָח and קָהָל. The name embodied the idea that each synagogue represented the congregation of Israel as a whole, just as we designate each particular Christian community a church, in the sense of its embodying and representing the whole Church. After the Babylonish exile, the solemn gathering in the temple, which could only be enjoyed on special occasions, and not without difficulty, led to the establishment of synagogues, accessible in every place and to all, which may be regarded as the revival—without the admixture of former errors—of the ancient monotheistic or orthodox worship of the “high places,” and which unconsciously served as the prototype for the arrangement and form of the Church under the New Testament. According to Jewish tradition, the institution of synagogues dates from a very early period (comp. the art. in Winer’s [W. Smith, vol. iii., 1396 sqq., and other] Bibl. Encycls., ad especially Vitringa, De Synagoga vetere, 1696). The statement is correct, in so far as it implies that a provision for religious communion and edification must have existed even previous to the temple. “During the Babylonish exile, when the Jews were shut out from the Holy Land and from the appointed sanctuary, the want of places for religious meetings, in which the worship of God, without sacrifices, could be celebrated, must have been painfully felt. Thus synagogues may have originated at that ominous period. When the Jews returned from Babylon, synagogues were planted throughout the country for the purpose of affording opportunities for publicly reading the law, independently of the regular sacrificial services of the temple (Nehemiah 8:1, etc.). At the time of Jesus there was at least one synagogue in every moderately sized town of Palestine (such as Nazareth, Capernaum, etc.), and in the cities of Syria, Asia Minor, and Greece, in which Jews resided (Acts 9:2 sqq.). Larger towns possessed several synagogues; and it is said that there were no fewer than 460, or even 480, of them in Jerusalem itself.”—Winer. A kindred institution were the προσευχαί, or places where prayer was wont to be made—oratories, commonly situate in the immediate vicinity of some river, for the sake of lustrations (Acts 16:13); while synagogues were generally built in some elevated situation (in allusion to the position of the temple). The synagogue may be regarded as forming in every respect the germ of our local Christian churches. 1. Their foundation: by communities, or by private individuals. 2. Character: sanctuaries. 3. Time of meeting: on the Sabbath, on feast days; afterward also on the second and fifth days of the week. 4. Arrangement: seats, separation of sexes. 5. Mode of worship: prayer, reading of portions of Scripture (the Law, the Prophets, and other Old Testament books—Parashoth, Haphtharoth, Megilloth) by a priest or elder; exposition of the section read, and address; liberty of putting questions, of expressing opinions, and of delivering addresses (the prophetic element); at the close, the priestly blessing and prayer of the congregation. 6. Officials of the synagogue: the president, or chief ruler (ἄρχων τῆς συναγωγῆς, ἀρχισυναγωγός); the elders (πρεσβύτεροι, ποιμένες), who administered the affairs of the synagogue; then the servant or messenger of the congregation (legatus ecclesiœ), who acted as precentor, clerk, and messenger; and the officer, or ὑπηρέτης [the attendant or minister who handed the volume to the reader and returned it to its place, Luke 4:20]; with the addition, probably, of officials to collect the alms. 7. Furniture: seats, pulpit or desk, and bookcase. 8. Discipline: greater and lesser excommunication, and bodily punishments. Every Jewish town possessed its Sanhedrim, which was subordinate to the great Sanhedrim in Jerusalem. These Sanhedrims were no doubt attached to the various synagogues (comp. Winer, sub Synedrium) Thus, in the providence of God, the synagogue was destined to form a transition from the symbolical worship of the Old, to the worship in spirit and in truth of the New, Testament. Hence the circumstance, that the Lord and His Apostles made use of the arrangements of the synagogue, must be regarded not only as an act of legal obedience, but also of missionary foresight.

From various passages we infer that at first Jesus was regarded by His disciples as a Rabbi (Mark 9:5; John 1:38, etc.). But in their minds this title implied acknowledgment of His claims as prophet and Messiah, and it gradually gave place to full recognition of Jesus as the Son of God (Matthew 16:16). The people also regarded the Lord at first as a Rabbi (Mark 10:51; John 20:16), although the leading men in Jerusalem were not willing to accede to Him that designation (John 7:15). The title Rabbi (רַבִּי, vir amplissimus) was the honorary designation given to Jewish teachers of the law and scribes (Magister, Doctor). At the time of Christ, there was no formal graduation, as at a later period; although several characteristics served to distinguish the regular order of scribes. These were, 1. adherence to a certain school, and to scholastic traditions; 2. a peculiar method of explaining the law and interpreting the Scriptures; 3. connection with the hierarchy and the orthodoxy of the time (Pharisaism), although a number of the scribes belonged to the sect of the Sadducees; 4. the commencement of a regular organization of the order. Some of the Rabbins were members or assessors of the Sanhedrim; others presided over schools; while yet others were employed as legal advisers, etc. The Rabbins were regarded by the people as successors of the ancient prophets, with certain modulcations adapting their office to the wants of the time. Accordingly, Ezra already bears the title of סֹפֵד. When the Lord Jesus therefore appeared as a Rabbi, without having previously passed through a regular scholastic training, He only asserted the ancient right and title of a prophet.

And preaching the gospel of the Kingdom.—Here it is more definitely called the Gospel of the kingdom of heaven; i.e., the Gospel which constituted the kingdom of heaven, and which increasingly manifested itself as the Gospel concerning Christ, the Lord of the kingdom of heaven, and concerning reconciliation through Him for the kingdom of heaven.—Εὐαγγέλιον. The meaning of the term in classical Greek is, primarily, reward for good tidings; and, secondarily, the good tidings themselves; in the New Testament, it is used simply for good tidings. The announcement, that the kingdom of Messiah was at hand, made throughout the synagogues of Galilee, was of such deep and decisive importance as to require some confirmation of the prophetic character of Him who declared it. Hence Jesus proved by His miracles that He was able to heal all manner of sickness, and all manner of disease; thereby confirming His word. But the ultimate aim of these miracles was the manifestation of Jesus Himself, and of the kingdom of heaven, whereby the kingdom of darkness was vanquished.

Matthew 4:24. His fame went throughout all Syria.—On the one hand, throughout Palestine; and, on the other, beyond its limits to Phœnicia and Syria proper. Probably His fame spread along the road frequented by caravans, which led from Damascus to the Mediterranean by the Sea of Galilee.

And they brought unto Him all sick people.—The passage must, of course, be taken in a restricted sense: as far as faith in His miraculous power extended, they brought such sufferers to Him.

That were taken with divers diseases and torments.—The latter term, though referring to a distinct class of suffering, is still a general expression. Three peculiar kinds of disease are specially mentioned: viz., those which were possessed with devils (demoniacs, δαιμονιζόμενοι), lunatics (epileptics, σεληνιαζόμενοι), and those that had the palsy (nervous disorders, παραλυτικοί). Formerly, commentators were wont to regard the demoniacs as persons whose bodies were possessed by the devil, or by devils, but who labored under no physical ailment. Rationalistic interpreters, on the other hand, applied these expressions to bodily or mental diseases exclusively, as to mania, epilepsy, melancholy, etc., which—according to their statement—popular ignorance and prejudice regarded as a possession by devils. Of late, however, sounder views have obtained; and we have learned to recognize both elements in these unfortunate persons, viz., demoniac influences, and excitements produced by unclean spirits, along with bodily or mental derangements (see the author’s Leben Jesu, ii. 1, p. 285). Meyer (note to p. 115) disposes rather summarily of this view, and repeats the old rationalistic theory.22 The difference between the three classes consists in this, that the demoniacs were subject to disease through the influence of unclean spirits, the lunatics through that of the sidereal bodies (change of the moon, etc.), the palsied through that of atmospheric changes. The common characteristic of all these afflictions was, that their victims were under the absolute control of some outward influence, whether spiritual, psychical, or physical. They were, so to speak, the representatives of those more obscure and refined psychical and physical sufferings and dissonances which have been introduced in the psychical and external world by the moral power of darkness. (For a list of books on Pastoral Medicine or Cure of Souls, see Heubner, p. 43.)

Matthew 4:25. And there followed Him great multitudes.—Even at this stage of His ministry, multitudes had gathered, who externally followed the Lord. These were drawn in the first instance from Galilee itself, and swelled by others coming from Decapolis, and even from Jerusalem, from the land of Judæa, and from beyond Jordan, i.e., Peræa. Decapolis, or the Ten Cities, chiefly inhabited by Gentile settlers: see Plinius, Hist. Nat. 16, and the Encyclops. According to Ritter, the Decapolis was founded principally by veterans from the army of Alexander (hence one of the towns was called Pella, from the city of that name in Macedonia). The expression, Peræa, refers probably to the northern part of that province. On the division of Peræa into three distinct districts, comp. von Raumer, Palestine, p. 205.


1. Note the contrast between Jesus going from place to place, and the Baptist remaining stationary. It seems to represent the moving and kindly character of the Gospel, as embodied in a personal form.
2. From the conduct of Jesus, we infer that He recognized the use and place of the synagogue in the arrangement of Divine Providence. The Apostles also observed the same line of conduct.

3. The Lord now proclaimed everywhere the Gospel of the kingdom of heaven. The announcement, that a new spiritual order of things was at hand, was everywhere received as a message of coming salvation. But the Lord also proclaimed at the same time the fundamental laws and promises of the kingdom of heaven, as appears from the Sermon on the Mount. By the numerous miracles which Jesus now wrought, He proved that the kingdom of heaven was really at hand; that its character was spiritual; that it was a kingdom of regeneration; and that this new spiritual life consisted in a heavenly influence and a Divine power, which restored not only the diseased and departed life, but also the dead and diseased heart. Thus it also clearly appeared that the kingdom of heaven was indissolubly connected with the person of Jesus. By His miracles, He revealed Himself in His glory as the centre of the kingdom of heaven. On miracles, comp. below, Matthew 8:0.

4. Like John, Jesus produced by His preaching a general impression upon the people, but in a higher measure. John remained stationary, Jesus went about; John announced the wrath to come, Jesus brought to light the life-giving power of the Gospel; John displayed only one miracle, that of self-renunciation and the moral greatness of a true prophet as exhibited in his own history; he did no wonders; while it appeared as the inmost and distinguishing characteristic of Christ’s life to work miracles of healing, of deliverance, of comfort, and of salvation.—To John the people flocked in numbers, again to return to their homes; while of those who betook themselves to Jesus, many remained to follow Him whithersoever He went.
5. In measure as the kingdom of heaven shall appear in the Church, the same Divine power—the same power of faith, of love and of life, and the same heavenly courage which ascends to heaven and descends from it, to diffuse that which is heavenly, will also manifest itself.


Christ went about doing good to all.—1. He went about in the omnipotence of His love. 2. He did good to all in the omnipotence of His love.—The labors of ministers should extend to all within the sphere of their activity.—Galilee, or the circuit of the Gentiles, becomes the circuit of the new life.—In preaching the Gospel, we should follow up God’s preparatory agencies and dispensations.—Evangelists should endeavor to find proper starting-points for their work.—The teaching of Jesus in its fulness. It Isaiah , 1. a preaching (an appeal to the heart, announcing something new); 2. it is Gospel; 3. it is the Gospel of the kingdom; 4. it conveys salvation.—Defects to be avoided in the Church: 1. It is sad when teaching ceases to be preaching; 2. more sad when preaching ceases to be teaching; 3. most sad when preaching ceases to be the Gospel of the kingdom; 4. not less sad when destitute of the power of life.—In our days also, demonstration of the truth of the Gospel which we preach is indispensable.—The practical demonstration of the truth of the Gospel should be as follows: 1. Our preaching should always bear the impress of the love of Christ, of the Holy Spirit, and of power. 2. It should always be adapted to the wants of the age.—The secret of Christ’s power of helping His people lay in their spiritual boldness: 1. Based on spiritual humility; 2. springing from spiritual faith; 3. manifesting itself in spiritual love; 4. evidenced by spiritual life.—Spiritual cowardice opens the door to the enemy.—Jesus still removes every manner of sickness and disease.—The fame of Jesus prepares the way for the word of Jesus.—The Saviour from sin is also the Saviour from evil.—He healed all that came unto Him.—In trouble and necessity we learn to know our Deliverer.—The kingdom of Christ commencing amidst poverty and misery. The relation between those who follow the wonder-worker, and those who follow the Crucified One.—Conversion the evidence of true awakening.—Jesus gathers His people. 1. How? 2. For what purpose?

Starke:—Christ extends His kingdom by the Gospel, not with carnal weapons.—It is a small thing for Him who gives us eternal life to restore our bodily life.—All Christ’s miracles are blessings.

Heubner:—These cures of Jesus are important; as being so many blessings and deliverances of wretched and needy persons; as revelations of His goodness and love; as evidence of His divine mission; as pointing to the spiritual deliverance which He wrought.


[21] Matthew 4:23.—[Lange likewise translates: Das Evangelium. I cannot agree with Dr. Conant and others who think that where εὐαγγέλιον occurs in its original literal sense, it should always be translated good news, or glad tidings, and that gospel should be retained only where the Greek has taken a later tropical sense. This change is unnecessary; for gospel (God’s spell, or good spell = good news) is the old Saxon equivalent for the Gr. εὐαγγέλιον, and so universally understood. The E. V. always translates the noun εὐαγγέλιον gospel (in 77 passages), but renders the verb εὐαγγελίζειν sometimes to preach the gospel, sometimes to bring or to declare glad tidings. Comp. Luke 1:19; Luke 2:10; Acts 13:32; Rom 10:15; 1 Thessalonians 3:6.—P. S.]

[22][Meyer’s view is thus stated by him: “Besessene waren characteristiche natürliche Kranke—Manie, Fallsucht, Melancholie, Zustände der Contractheit, temporäre Stummheit u. dergl.—deren Leiden man bei schcinbar physischer Gesundheit nicht im abnormen Organismus oder in naturlichen Störungen des physigchen Habitus, sondern in teufelischer Besessenheit begründet glaubte.” He urges, among four reasons against the old orthodox view, mainly the entire silence of St. John, which he regards the more significant, as John lays special stress on the destruction of the works of the devil by Christ. But this silence concerning the healing of demoniacs must be accounted for on the same ground as the omission of other and more important facts in the Gospel of John, such as the parabolic discourses of Christ, the institution of baptism, and the Lord’s Supper, etc. This silence is rather the silence of approval of what was already generally known and read in the churches when he wrote his Gospel. Aside from doctrinal considerations connected with the personal existence of Satan and his supernatural agents, Meyer’s and de Wette’s view is even exegetically untenable, unless we choose to involve Christ in a popular error, on to reflect on His veracity, which is not to be thought of for a single moment. For the δαιμονιζόμενοι are clearly and repeatedly distinguished in the Gospels from ordinary physical diseases, and represented as persons who are spiritually afflicted and possessed or interpenetrated as it were by a double consciousness and a double will, the one being foreign to them and taking forcible possession of their physical frame for a time. Christ moreover addresses the evil spirits as distinct from the persons possessed by them; and these spirits pass out from one person into another, or even into a herd of swine. Comp. also, on the general subject, the remarks of Dr. Trench, on the Miracles, p. 160, and Dr. Alford on Matthew 8:32 (4th ed. vol. i. p. 79 sq.).—P. S.]

Bibliographical Information
Lange, Johann Peter. "Commentary on Matthew 4". "Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical". 1857-84.