Matthew Chapter 4
Mat 4:1 Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil.
Was Jesus — Not God, “For God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man.” (Jam_1:13)
Led up — Mark expresses it, “driven into the wilderness.” (Mar_1:12)
Therefore we think that the Scripture, “Lead us not into temptation” (Mat_6:13) should be translated as in the Diaglott, “Abandon us not in temptation.”
To be tempted — Along the very lines of his work–the consecration which he had already made.
Temptation does not imply sin. Our Lord was tempted “without sin”; so may his brethren be if they follow his example. Sin only comes through yielding to temptation.
“In all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin” (Heb_4:15); not referring to ordinary temptation, but trials and temptations as a new creature. (Russell)
The Holy Spirit cannot tempt us (Jas_1:13). But we may be led by the Holy Spirit to a place where we will be tempted. This is not to prove anything to God (who knows all things), but to prove something to us and to spiritual beings who watch us.
Tempted by the devil: Temptation is a certainty for everyone. Yet Jesus’ temptation was more severe. It was more severe because He was tempted directly by the devil himself, while we contend mainly with lesser demons (and ourselves). It was also more severe because there is a sense in which temptation is “relieved” by giving in, and Jesus never did. Therefore He bore levels of temptation we will never know by experience. (Guzik)
Mat 4:2 And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was afterward an hungred.
Matthew points out both the barren desert (the Judean wilderness was, and is, just that), and Jesus’ severe physical condition after such a long fast. It is said that when hunger pains return after such a fast (He was hungry), it indicates the subject is beginning to starve to death.
The period of forty days and forty nights is a familiar period of testing in the Bible, both in the days of Noah and for Israel in the wilderness. Jesus will succeed where Israel as a nation failed. (Guzik)
Fasted forty days — Doubtless the entire period was spent in meditation and prayer, being led to this course by his spirit of devotion to the Father–his anxiety to do the Father’s will in the Father’s way. Mark and Luke imply that he was tempted for the entire period. Both thoughts are evidently true–he was tempted all during the 40 days, while the three temptations narrated here occurred at the close of the 40 days.
These 40 days were spent in meditation and prayer. He had no Bibles nor concordances, but a perfect memory and 18 years of hearing and reading the Law. We may safely say that he knew the entire Word of God by heart. If it was proper for the Master to make a study of the divine plan before beginning his work, how much more is it necessary for his followers to do so. “Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” (2Ti_2:15) (Russell)
Mat 4:3 And when the tempter came to him, he said, If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread.
Notice that Matthew writes when the tempter came. In our lives, it is not a question of if the tempter will come, but when he will come. We will face temptation until we go to glory.
a. If You are the Son of God: The question asked by Satan is more literally “since You are the Son of God,” instead of “if You are the Son of God.” Satan is not questioning Jesus’ position, he is challenging Him to prove it through miraculous works.
Command that these stones become bread: This is a temptation to use God’s gifts for selfish purposes. Satan wants Jesus to use His miraculous powers to provide food for Himself.
Who could fault Jesus for providing food? This wasn’t a temptation to miraculously create great riches or luxuries, only bread. The Bible has many accounts of miraculous provision, some at the hands of Jesus. Yet Jesus will not command that these stones become bread, especially at the instigation of Satan. (Guzik)
In approaching our Lord, Satan did not attempt to lie outright, nor to distort the facts, but rather to put a false color on them. Representing himself as a friend, an angel of light.
So far from using his miraculous powers selfishly, we find that many of his miracles, especially healings, were done at his own personal expense. “Virtue [vitality] went out of him and healed them all.” (Luk_6:19)
When he hungered, he sent his disciples to buy bread. When weary, he rested on the well or elsewhere. He never prayed for deliverance from natural troubles, but cheerfully endured them as part of his sacrifice. So should we. (Russell)
Mat 4:4 But 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.
Jesus didn’t silently disagree with Satan, He answered him – and He answered him from the Word of God. When Jesus quotes Deu_8:3, Jesus shows that every word that proceeds from the mouth of God should be more precious to us that food itself.
What Satan suggested made sense – “Why starve yourself to death?” But what is written makes even more sense.
a. By relying on the power and truth of God’s Word, Jesus was willing to fight this battle as a man; He could have easily rebuked Satan into another galaxy, but resisted Him in a way that we can imitate and identify with.
i. Jesus used Scripture to battle Satan’s temptation, not some elaborate spiritual power inaccessible to us. Jesus fought this battle as a man in this battle, and He drew on no “special resources” unavailable to us.
ii. We effectively resist temptation in the same way Jesus did: by countering Satan’s seductive lies by shining the light of God’s truth upon them. If we are ignorant of God’s truth, we are poorly armed in the fight against temptation. (Guzik)
Mat 4:5 Then the devil taketh him up into the holy city, and setteth him on a pinnacle of the temple,
Mat 4:6 And 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 time thou dash thy foot against a stone.
If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down: Satan is tempting Jesus to “force” the Father into a supernatural event. Satan appeals to the desire within every man to sense approval from God and to have that approval publicly demonstrated.
i. Set Him on the pinnacle of the temple: The pinnacle of the temple arose some 200 feet from the floor of the Kidron Valley. A leap from there, and the appearance of the promised angelic protection, would be quite a show!
ii. Jesus just had this kind of spectacular demonstration at His baptism (Mat_3:17). But that must have seemed far away after forty days and nights of fasting in the wilderness. (Guzik)
Cast thyself down — Not a temptation to gross wickedness, but a temptation to do the Lord’s work in another way than that which the Lord had planned. Recklessly expose yourself in proof of your mission. Thus drawing the immediate attention of all Israel to the fact that you are the Messiah. It would be a sin to use spiritual power for the gratifying of our human nature when it was given us wherewith to crucify it.
“A wicked and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign” (Mat_16:4), such as the laying on of hands, the gift of tongues, physical healing, peculiar dress, robes, mitres, relics of saints, etc. “This generation seeketh a sign” (Mar_8:12); and thus it is with every generation. The world wants miracles or outward shows of sanctity and great professions.
The Lord’s people should be on guard against any unreasonable procedures in the proclamation of the Gospel. The service of ambassadors for God is a reasonable service.
Another temptation of the same character: To expect divine interposition to put truth into our mouths and hearts while failing to obey the divine instruction to “Search the Scriptures.”
It requires greater courage to ignore the shame and ignominy of the world in the disesteemed service of God than to perform some great and wonderful feat that would cause the natural man to wonder and admire.
Bear thee up — If he had been thrust off the Temple pinnacle by the hands of an angry mob before his time had come, or if he accidentally fell, surely the Father would have intervened that he not be injured; but to do so deliberately would have been to tempt God. (Russell)
Mat 4:7 Jesus said unto him, It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.
For it is written: The devil can use this phrase also. He quotes Scripture, and we can trust that the devil has memorized the Bible himself, and is an expert at quoting it out of its context to confuse and defeat those he tempts. This time, the devil quoted Psa_91:11-12, and took it out of its context to say, “Go ahead, Jesus; if You do this the Bible promises angels will rescue You, and it will be spectacular self-promotion.”
i. Sadly, many are willing to believe anyone who quotes from the Bible today. A preacher can pretty much say whatever he wants if he quotes a few “proof-texts,” and people will assume that he really speaks from the Bible.
ii. Jesus understood from His knowledge of the whole counsel of God (Act_20:27) that Satan was “twisting” this passage from Psalms 91. Jesus knew how to rightly divide the word of truth (2Ti_2:15).
c. It is written again, “You shall not tempt the Lord your God.” Jesus replied with Scripture, but applied correctly. He knew that “forcing” or manipulating God the Father into such a demonstration would tempt God, which the Scriptures strictly forbid.
i. This warns us against demanding something “spectacular” from God to “prove” His love or concern for us. He has already given the ultimate demonstration of His love for us at the cross (Rom_5:8), and He can do nothing more “spectacular” than that. (Guzik)
Mat 4:8 Again, the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, and sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them;
Mat 4:9 And saith unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me.
All these things I will give You: Essentially, this vision invited Jesus to take a shortcut around the cross. Jesus came to win all the kingdoms of the world and their glory back from Satan’s domain, and Satan offers them to Jesus, if He will only fall down and worship him.
i. It again may seem a small thing; Jesus could lay claim to all the kingdoms of the world and their glory, and do so without enduring the cross. All He would have to do is give Satan what he has been longing for ever since he fell from glorious to profane: worship and recognition from God Himself.
ii. This is a revealing insight into Satan’s heart; worship and recognition are far more precious to him than the possession of the kingdoms of the world and their glory. He is still the one who said I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; I will also sit on the mount of the congregation on the farthest sides of the north; I will ascend above the heights of the clouds, I will be like the Most High. (Isa_14:13-14)
b. Evidently, Satan has authority over this world and its governments. The temptation could not have been real unless there is some real sense that Satan does “possess” all the kingdoms of the world and their glory.
i. Adam and his descendants gave the devil this authority. God gave Adam the earth as a stewardship (Gen_1:28-30), and Adam willingly turned it over to Satan. After that, all Adam’s descendants cast their vote of approval by their personal sin.
ii. Of course, ultimately, all things belong to God; but God allows Satan to function as the god of this age (2Co_4:4) for a purpose. This is why the fallen world is in the mess it is. (Guzik)
This offer was no farce; it was the climax of the temptations, the last resort of a baffled enemy. To give the impression that he himself was tired of rebellion against God in the world and that he was ready to join our Lord in a great social uplift.
If thou wilt fall down — Bend a little; make compromise with the worldly spirit. Similarly today, he proposes to the Lord’s followers identification with nominal Churchianity or politics.
Implying that Satan would not require such suffering and sacrifice as God required; that, if Jesus would cooperate with him, all would work smoothly and prosperously.— When the Papacy did this, Satan was true to his promise.— It was not long after the apostles fell asleep in death that the Adversary succeeded in deluding the church to go into partnership with him for the control of the world and its blessings through a combination of religion and politics. (Russell)
Mat 4:10 Then 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.
Away with you, Satan! For it is written: Jesus replied with Scripture again, and commanded the devil to leave. In the same way we can resist the devil and he will flee from you (Jas_4:7). It worked for Jesus (Then the devil left Him) and it will work for us. (Guzik)
Let each of us, as followers of the Master, be prompt in giving our response to the Adversary’s proposition of compromise. He who dallies with temptation increases its power every moment. We are to resist the Adversary courageously that he may leave us permanently. When we take a positive stand on any question we have special help from the Lord along those lines.
Worship the Lord — The Greek word translated “worship” in the New Testament is proskuneo which signifies “to kiss the hand,” as a dog licks the hand of its master. The significance is reverence. (Russell)
Mat 4:11 Then the devil leaveth him, and, behold, angels came and ministered unto him.
God never forsakes those who endure through temptation. Even as angels came and ministered to Jesus, God will find a way to minister to us and meet our needs as we endure temptation.
e. Then the devil left Him means that Jesus won. He won because He recognized Satan’s mode of attack: lies and deception. Primarily, Satan is a deceiver, and for those who live in light of the cross, deception is his only tool, because demonic powers were disarmed at the cross of their “real” weapons and power (Col_2:15). But deception is extremely effective at leading us into sin, and at causing us to live lives of fear and unbelief.
i. Jesus showed the only effective counter to deception: God’s truth, not man’s wisdom. First, we must see temptation for what it is – a lie. Then, we must combat temptation with the word of God. Then, we must always build ourselves up in the truth, and have it in our heart.
ii. Each passage Jesus quoted back to Satan in this section comes from Deuteronomy chapters 6 and 8. Jesus was probably meditating on those very passages, and He fought Satan with the “fresh bread” He fed on. We should make sure we always have some “fresh bread” to answer Satan with. (Guzik)
Mat 4:12 Now when Jesus had heard that John was cast into prison, he departed into Galilee;
a. He departed to Galilee: The region of Galilee was a fertile, progressive, highly populated region. According to figures from the Jewish historian Josephus, there were some 3 million people populating Galilee, an area smaller than the state of Connecticut.
i. In an area of about 60 by 30 miles, Josephus says that there were some 204 villages with none having less than 15,000 people. That gives a population of more than 3 million for the region.
ii. Galilee was predominately Gentile in its population, but with a large number of Jewish cities and citizens. Also, Galilee was known as an incredibly fertile region. Many successful farms took advantage of the good soil. (Guzik)
Now when Jesus — Probably six months or a year after his baptism. (Russell)
Mat 4:13 And leaving Nazareth, he came and dwelt in Capernaum, which is upon the sea coast, in the borders of Zabulon and Nephthalim:
Mat 4:14 That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet, saying,
That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Isaiah the prophet: As is his custom, Matthew sees Jesus’ ministry in Galilee as a fulfillment of prophecy. Light has come to this region, largely populated by Gentiles, and Isa_9:1-2 predicted this of the ministry of the Messiah. (Guzik)
Mat 4:15 The land of Zabulon, and the land of Nephthalim, by the way of the sea, beyond Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles;
Mat 4:16 The people which sat in darkness saw great light; and to them which sat in the region and shadow of death light is sprung up.
That it might be fulfilled which was spoken,…. Christ’s dwelling in Capernaum accomplished a prophecy of the prophet Isa_9:1 (Gill)
Mat 4:17 From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.
Repent: The gospel Jesus preached began the same place that the gospel John preached began – with a call to repentance (Mat_3:2). In fact, since Jesus waited until John had been put in prison (Mat_4:12), He probably saw Himself as picking up where John left off. But Jesus would go further than John ever did, because John announced the coming of the Messiah, and Jesus is the Messiah.
For the kingdom of heaven is at hand: Some people make elaborate distinctions between the kingdom of heaven and the kingdom of God. There actually seems to be no difference at all, especially in light of the Jewish custom of often not even naming God directly, but referring to Him by the place where He lives heaven – a custom that Matthew, a Jew writing to Jews, often employs. (Guzik)
Mat 4:18 And Jesus, walking by the sea of Galilee, saw two brethren, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea: for they were fishers.
Saw two brothers: This was not the first time Jesus met these men, and other gospels describe previous encounters. But this is when Jesus called them to leave their professions and follow Him “full-time.” (Guzik)
And Andrew — This calling was not their first introduction to Jesus, but merely the Lord’s invitation to them to become special associates in the work.
They were fishers — Christ did not call idlers, but workers, into his ministry. (Russell)
Mat 4:19 And he saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.
Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men: In that day, it was customary for a rabbi to have disciples; there was nothing “cult-like” about Jesus asking these men to be with Him constantly. In effect, He offers them scholarships in the best “seminary” imaginable.
This is a good way to teach someone ministry: in an “apprentice” fashion rather than through formal education and it was the customary method in Jesus’ day. (Guzik)
Fishers of men — Spiritual fishing requires knowledge, tact, bait, and that self be kept out of sight. Fish are easily alarmed when they think anyone wishes to take them. “Be ye wise as serpents and harmless as doves.” (Russell)
Mat 4:20 And they straightway left their nets, and followed him.
Mat 4:21 And going on from thence, he saw other two brethren, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in a ship with Zebedee their father, mending their nets; and he called them.
Mat 4:22 And they immediately left the ship and their father, and followed him.
The immediately left their nets . . . And immediately they left the boat and their father, and followed him: The immediate response of these disciples is a great example to us. Then the first disciples did what all disciples of Jesus should do: they followed Him. (Guzik)
Mat 4:23 And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all manner of sickness and all manner of disease among the people.
Mat 4:24 And 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 lunatick, and those that had the palsy; and he healed them.
Preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all kinds of sickness: Jesus was a teacher who did miraculous works. The emphasis was always on His teaching ministry, both to the inner circle of His disciples and to the multitudes that would listen to Him.
All kinds of sickness and all kinds of disease: Jesus’ ability to heal those with all different kinds of diseases demonstrates that He has authentic power over the damage done by the fall of man. His authority over demons (and those who were demon-possessed) shows He has authentic power over all creation. (Guzik)
He healed them — To foreshadow the still greater work to be accomplished during his Millennial reign, and also to draw attention to the message proclaimed. (Russell)
Mat 4:25 And there followed him great multitudes of people from Galilee, and from Decapolis, and from Jerusalem, and from Judaea, and from beyond Jordan.
Great multitudes followed Him: Jesus had a purpose for allowing such dramatic miracles to attract great multitudes. He wanted to teach the multitudes, not simply to impress them with miracles. (Guzik)