Matthew 4Led of of the Spirit; by the guidance of the Holy Spirit.—To be tempted of the devil. There is a certain mystery enveloping the subject Of the Savior's temptation, which all the efforts of commentators and theologians have not been able to remove. Attempts have been made to give the whole passage a metaphorical interpretation; but such a construction can hardly be given, without violence, to a passage like this, occurring in regular course, as a part of a plain, historical narrative. The sacred writer undoubtedly meant to be understood, and must have been understood at the time, as asserting literally that Jesus was assailed by an evil spirit, not human, but yet having a distinct personal existence.
Fasted. It is not certain that this implies entire abstinence from food, but only an abstinence from all except such casual and uncertain sustenance as the wilderness afforded.
The tempter came to him; whether in bodily form or by inward suggestions is uncertain; perhaps the latter, as we read (Heb. 4:15) that he was tempted in all points like as we are.—If thou be the Son of God; that is, the Messiah, as had been proclaimed by the voice from heaven, (Matt. 3:17.)—Command that these stones, &c.; to satisfy his hunger.
It is written; Deut. 8:3.
The holy city. Jerusalem was called the holy city, because the temple was there, and it was the scene of all the great religious solemnities of the nation.
Perhaps to make a public display of his miraculous powers.
Deut. 6:16, and Ex. 17:7. By a comparison of these passages, the sin of tempting God would seem to be that of presumptuously, or with an improper spirit, calling for or expecting miraculous interpositions from him.
Angels came; either in visible form, or by presenting, invisibly, consolation and support.
It seems, from John 3:22-26, that Jesus had commenced his public ministry before this time in Judea. He now retired to Galilee, a place of greater seclusion and safety. Galilee was the northern province of Palestine, a retired, mountainous region, far less exposed to tumults and popular commotions than the region of Jerusalem; and it was very probably on this account that Jesus, who was constantly taking precautions to avoid occasioning public excitements, chose it as the scene of ministrations for some time after the imprisonment of John. The narrative of Matthew from this place to 20:17, gives an account of the Savior's journeys, discourses, and miracles among these quiet villages; and then it follows him to the more exciting scenes witnesses towards the close of his life, in Judea and Jerusalem.
Capernaum. The largest city of Galilee, on the western shore of the sea. It was in this maritime city, that Peter and Andrew, James and John, dwelt in the occupation of fishermen.—In the borders of Zebulon and Nephthalim; within the borders, that is, somewhere in the country occupied by those two tribes.
Galilee of the Gentiles. This region was the outskirt of the Jewish territory. The population was much mixed with emigrants from the Gentile countries around, and, as usual in such cases, it was probably degraded and depraved. The designation was at any rate one of reproach, to the mind of a Jew.
Kingdom of heaven; that spiritual kingdom of which Christ is the head, the establishment of which is commended in this world, and is to be perfected in the world to come.
These disciples had previously seen Jesus, on the banks of the Jordan, when attending upon the preaching of John. (John 1:35-42.)
Synagogues; edifices erected in the principal cities and towns, and used for religious worship, and for other ecclesiastical purposes.
Possessed with devils. Many have supposed that those possessed with devils were persons afflicted with insanity, epilepsy, and other natural diseases, which were attributed in those days to the agency of evil spirits. It is to be observed, however, that demoniacs are here spoken of as a distinct class from lunatics.
Decapolis, a remote and wild region on the north-eastern border of Lower Galilee, inhabited by Gentiles.
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