Matthew 4MATTHEW CHAPTER 4 Verse 1. The wilderness. Mt 3:1. The Spirit. Luke says, (Lk 4:1,) that Jesus was full of the Holy Spirit. It was by his influence, therefore, that Christ went into the desert. To be tempted. The word to tempt, in the original, means to try, to endeavour, to attempt to do a thing; then, to try the nature of a thing, as metals by fire; then, to test moral qualities by trying them, to see how they will endure; then, to endeavour to draw men away from virtue by suggesting motives to evil. This is the meaning here, and this is now the established meaning of the word in the English language. The devil. This word originally means an adversary, or an accuser; thence any one opposed; thence an enemy of any kind. It is given in the Scriptures, by way of eminence, to the leader of evil angels--a being characterized as full of subtlety, envy, art, and hatred of mankind. He is known, also, by the name of Satan, Job 1:6-12, Mt 12:26; Beelzebub, Mt 12:24; the old Serpent, Rev 12:9; and the prince of the power of the air, Eph 2:2. The name is sometimes given to men and women. 2Ti 3:3 Truce-breakers, slanderers--in the original, devils. 1Timm 3:2: So must their wives be grave, not slanderers--in the original, devils. (a) "led up of the Spirit" 1Kgs 18:12, Eze 11:1,24, Acts 8:39 (b) "to be tempted" Mk 1:12, Lk 4:1 Verse 2. Had fasted. Abstained from food. Forty days and forty nights. It has been questioned by some whether Christ abstained wholly from food, or only from bread and the food to which he was accustomed. Luke says, (Lk 4:2,) that he ate nothing. This settles the question. Mark says, Mk 1:13, that angels came and ministered unto him. At first view, this would seem to imply that he did eat during that time. But Mark does not mention the time when the angels performed the office of kindness; and we are at liberty to suppose that he meant to say that it was done at the close of the forty days; and the rather as Matthew, after giving an account of the temptation, says the same thing, Mk 4:2. There are other instances of persons fasting forty days, recorded in the Scriptures. Thus Moses fasted forty days, Ex 34:28. Elijah also fasted the same length of time, 1Kgs 19:8. In these cases, they were no doubt miraculously supported. Verse 3. The tempter. The devil, or Satan. See Mt 4:1. If thou be the Son of God. If thou art the Messiah--if God's own Son--then thou hast power to work a miracle; and here is a fit opportunity to try thy power, and show that thou art truly his Son. Command that these stones, etc. The stones that were lying around him in the wilderness, No temptation could have been more plausible, or more likely to succeed, than this. He had just been declared to be the Son of God, (Mt 3:17) and here was an opportunity to show that he was really so. The circumstances were such as to make it appear plausible and proper to work this miracle. "Here you are," was the language of Satan, "hungry, cast out, alone, needy, poor, and yet the Son of God! If you have this power, how easy could you satisfy your wants! How foolish is it, then, for the Son of God, having all power, to be starving in this manner, when by a word he could show his power, and relieve his wants, and when in the thing itself there could be nothing wrong!" Verse 4. But he answered and said, etc. In reply to this artful temptation, Christ answered by a quotation from the Old Testament. The place is found in De 8:3. In that place the discourse is respecting manna. Moses says that the Lord humbled the people, and fed them with manna, an unusual kind of food, that they might learn that man did not live by bread only, but that there were other things to support life, and that every thing which God had commanded was proper for this. The term "word," used in this place, means very often, in Hebrew, thing, and clearly in this place has that meaning. Neither Moses nor our Saviour had any reference to spiritual food, or to the doctrines necessary to support the faith of believers; but they simply meant that God could support life by other things than bread; that man was to live, not by that only, but by every other thing which proceeded out of his mouth; that is, which he chose to command men to eat. The substance of his answer, then, is:--"It is not so imperiously necessary that I should have bread, as to make a miracle proper to procure it. Life depends on the will of God. He can support it in other ways, as well as by bread. He has created other things to be eaten, and man may live by everything that his Maker has commanded." And from this temptation we may learn, (1.) that Satan often takes advantage of our circumstances and wants to tempt us. The poor, and hungry, and naked, he often tempts to repine and complain, and to be dishonest in order to supply their necessities. (2.) Satan's temptations are often the strongest immediately after we have been remarkably favoured. Jesus had just been called the Son of God, and Satan took this opportunity to try him. He often attempts to fill us with pride and vain self-conceit, when we have been favoured with any peace of or any new view of God, and endeavours to urge us to do something which may bring us low, and lead us to sin. (3.) His temptations are plausible. They often seem to be only urging us to do what is good and proper. They seem even to urge us to promote the glory of God, and to honour him. We are not to think, therefore, that because a thing may seem to be good in itself, that therefore it is to be done. Some of his most powerful temptations are when he seems to be urging us to do what shall be for the glory of God. (4.) We are to meet the temptations of Satan, as the Saviour did, with the plain and positive declarations of Scripture. We are to inquire whether the thing is commanded, and whether, therefore, it is right to do it, and not trust to our own feelings, or even our wishes, in tho matter. (c) "Man shall not live by bread" De 8:3. Verse 5. Taketh him up. This does not mean that he bore him through the air, or that he compelled him to go against his will, or that he wrought a miracle, in any way, to place him there. There is no evidence that Satan had power to do any of these things; and the word translated taketh him up does not imply any such thing. It means, to conduct one; to lead one; to attend or accompany one; or to induce one to go. It is used in the following places in the same sense. Numb. xxiii. 14: "And he (Balak) brought him (Balaam) into the field of Zophim," etc.; that is, he led him, or induced him to go there. Mt 17:1: "And after six days Jesus taketh Peter, James," etc.; i.e. led, or conducted them--not by any means implying that he bore them by force. Mt 20:17: "Jesus, going to Jerusalem, took the twelve disciples apart," etc. See also Mt 26:37, 27:27, Mk 5:40. From these passages, and many more, it appears that all that is meant here is, that Satan conducted Jesus, or accompanied him; but not that this was done against the will of Jesus. The holy city. Jerusalem--called holy because the temple was there, and it was the place of religious solemnities. Setteth him on a pinnacle of the temple. It is not perfectly certain to what part of the temple the sacred writer here refers. It has been supposed by some that he means the roof. But Josephus says that the roof was covered by spikes of gold, to prevent its being polluted by birds; and such a place would have been very inconvenient to stand upon. Others suppose that it was the top of the porch or entrance to the temple. But it is more than probable that the porch leading to the temple was not as high as the main building. It is more probable that he refers to a part of the sacred edifice sometimes called Solomon's porch. The temple was built on the top of Mount Moriah. The temple itself, together with the courts and porches, occupied a large space of ground. Mt 21:12. To secure a level spot sufficiently large, it was necessary to put up a high wall on the east. The temple was surrounded with porches or piazzas fifty-five feet broad, and seventy-five high. The porch on the south side was, however, sixty-seven feet broad, and one hundred and fifty high. From the top of this to the bottom of the valley below was more than seven hundred feet; and Josephus says that one could scarcely look down without dizziness. The word pinnacle does not quite express the force of the original. It is a word given usually to birds, and denotes wings, or anything in the form of wings, and was given to the roof of this porch because it resembled a bird dropping its wings. It was on this place, doubtless, that Christ was placed. Satan proposed that he should cast himself down thence; and, if he was the Son of God, he said it could do no harm. There was a promise that he should be protected. This promise was taken from Ps 91:11,12. To this passage of Scripture Christ replied With another, which forbade the act. This is taken from De 6:16, "Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God." That is, thou shalt not try him; or, thou shalt not, by throwing thyself into voluntary and uncommanded dangers, appeal to God for protection, or trifle with the promises made to those who are thrown into danger by his providence. It is true, indeed, that God aids those of his people who are placed by him in trial or danger; but it is not true that the promise was meant to extend to those who wantonly provoke him, and trifle with the promised help. Thus Satan, artfully using and perverting Scripture, was met and repelled by Scripture rightly applied. (d) "up into the holy city" Neh 11:1, Mt 27:53 Verse 6. (e) "for it is written" Ps 91:11,12 Verse 7. (f) "Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God" De 6:16 Verse 8. An exceeding high mountain. It is not known what mountain this was. It was probably some elevated place in the vicinity of Jerusalem, on the top of which could be seen no small part of the land of Palestine. The Abbe Mariti speaks of a mountain on which he was, which answers to the description here. "This part of the mountain," says he, "overlooks the mountains of Arabia, the country of Gilead, the country of the Arnorites, the plains of Moab, the plains of Jericho, the river Jordan, and the whole extent of the Dead Sea." So Moses, before he died, went up into Mount Nebo, and from it God showed him "all the land of Gilead, unto Dan, and all Naphtali, and the land of Ephraim, and Manasseh, and all the land of Judah, unto the utmost sea, and the south, and the plain of the valley of Jericho, the city of palm trees, unto Zoar," De 34:1-3. This shows that there were mountains from which no small part of the land of Canaan could be seen; and we must not suppose that there was any miracle when they were shown to the Saviour. All the kingdoms of the world. It is not probable that anything more here is intended than the kingdoms of Palestine, or the land of Canaan, and those in the immediate vicinity. Judea was divided into three parts, and those parts were called kingdoms; and the sons of Herod, who presided over them, were called kings. The term world is often used in this limited scale to denote a part, or a large part of the world, particularly the land of Canaan. See Rom 4:13, where it means the land of Judah; also Lk 2:1, Lk 2:1. The glory of them. The riches, splendour, towns, cities, mountains, etc., of this beautiful land. Verse 9. All these things, etc. All these kingdoms. All these dominions Satan claimed a right to bestow on whom he pleased, and with considerable justice. They were excessively wicked; and with no small degree of plausibility, therefore, he asserted his claim to give them away. This temptation had much plausibility. Satan regarded Jesus as the King of the Jews. As the Messiah, he supposed he had come to take possession of all that country. He was poor, and unarmed, and without followers or armies. Satan proposed to put him in possession of it at once, without any difficulty, if he would acknowledge him as the proper lord and disposer of that country; if he would trust to him, rather than to God. Worship me. Mt 2:2. The word here seems to mean, to acknowledge Satan as having a right to give these kingdoms to him; to acknowledge his dependence on him rather than God; that is, really to render religious homage. We may be surprised at his boldness. But he had been twice foiled. He supposed it was an object dear to the heart of the Messiah and he seemed not to be asking too much, if he gave them to Jesus, that Jesus should be willing to acknowledge the gift, and express gratitude for it. So plausible are Satan's temptations, even when blasphemous; and so artfully does he present his allurements to the mind. Verse 10. Get thee hence. These temptations, and this one especially, our Saviour met with a decided rebuke. This was a bolder attack than any which had been offered. Others had been but an address to his necessities, and an offer of the protection of God in great danger; in both cases plausible, and in neither a direct violation of the law of God. Here was a higher attempt, a more decided and deadly thrust at the piety of the Saviour. It was a proposition that the Son of God should worship the devil, instead of honouring and adoring Him who made heaven and earth; that he should bow down before the prince of wickedness, and give him homage. It is written. In De 6:13. Satan asked him to worship him. This was expressly forbidden. And Jesus therefore drove him from his presence. (g) "Thou shalt worship" De 6:13, 1Sam 7:3 Verse 11. The devil leaveth him. The devil left him for a time, Lk 4:13. He intended to return again to the temptation, and if possible to seduce him yet from God. And, behold, angels came and ministered. See Mt 1:20. They came and supplied his wants, and comforted him. From the whole of this we may learn, (1.) That no one is so holy as to be free from temptation; for the pure Son of God was sorely tempted by the devil. (2.) That when God permits a temptation or trial to come upon us, he will, if we look to him, give us grace to resist and overcome it, 1Cor 10:3. (3.) We see the art of the tempter. His temptations are adapted to times and circumstances. They are plausible. What could have been, more plausible than his suggestions to Christ? They were applicable to his circumstances. They had the appearance of much piety. They were backed by passages of Scripture--misapplied, but still most artfully presented. He never comes boldly and tempts men to sin, telling them that they are committing sin. Such a mode would defeat his design. It would put people on their guard. He commences, therefore, artfully, plausibly, and the real purpose does not appear till he has prepared the mind for it. This is the way with all temptation. No wicked man would at once tempt another to be profane, to be drunk, to be an infidel, or to commit adultery.. The principles are first corrupted; the confidence is secured; the affections are won; and then the allurement is by little and little presented, till the victim fails. How should every one be on his guard at the very first appearance of evil, at the first suggestion that may possibly lead to evil. (4.) One of the best ways of meeting temptation is by applying Scripture. So our Saviour did, and they will always best succeed who best wield the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, Eph 6:17. (h) "angels came and ministered" Heb 1:6,14 Verse 12. John was cast into prison. For an account of the imprisonment of John, see Mt 14:1-12. He departed into Galilee. See Mt 2:22. The reasons why Jesus went then into Galilee were, probably, not that he might avoid danger-- for he went directly into the dominions of Herod, and Jesus had nothing in particular to fear from Herod, as he had given him no cause of offence --but, (1,) because the attention of the people had been much excited by John's preaching, and it was more favourable for his own ministry. (2.) It seemed desirable to have some one to second John in the work of reformation. (3.) It was less dangerous for him to commence his labours there than near Jerusalem. Judea was under the dominion of the scribes, and Pharisees, and priests. They would naturally look with envy on any one who set up for a public teacher, and who should attract much attention there. It was important, therefore, that the work of Jesus should begin in Galilee, and become somewhat established and known before he went to Jerusalem. (1) "Cast into prison" or, "delivered up" Verse 13. Leaving Nazareth. Because his townsmen cast him out, and rejected him. See Lk 4:14-30. Came and dwelt in Capernaum. This was a city on the north-west corner of the sea of Tiberias. It is not mentioned in the Old Testament, but is repeatedly in the Gospels. Though it was once a city of renown, and the metropolis of all Galilee, the site it occupied is now uncertain. When Mr. Fisk, an American missionary, travelled in Syria in 1823, he found twenty or thirty uninhabited Arab huts, occupying what are supposed to be the ruins of the once exalted city of Capernaum. In this place, and its neighbourhood, Jesus spent no small part of the three years of his public ministry. It is hence called his own city, Mt 9:1. Here he healed the nobleman's son, (Jn 4:47) Peter's wife's mother, (Mt 8:14) the centurion's servant, (Mt 8:5) and the ruler's daughter, (Mt 9:28-25.) Upon the sea coast. The sea of Tiberius. In the borders of Zabulon and Nephthalim. These were two tribes of the children of Israel which were located in this part of the land of Canaan, and constituted, in the time of Christ, a part of Galilee. Comp. Gen 49:13, Josh 19:10,32. The word borders here means boundaries. Jesus came and dwelt in the boundaries or regions of Zebulun and Naphtali. Verses 14-16. That it might be fulfilled, etc. This place is recorded in Isa 9:1,2. Matthew has given the sense, but not the very words of the prophet. By the way of the sea. Which is near to the sea, or in the vicinity of the sea. Beyond Jordan. This does not mean to the east of Jordan, as the phrase sometimes denotes, but rather in the vicinity of the Jordan, or perhaps in the vicinity of the sources of the Jordan. See De 1:1, 4:49. Galilee of the Gentiles. Galilee was divided into upper and lower Galilee. Upper Galilee was called Galilee of the Gentiles, because it was occupied chiefly by Gentiles. It was in the neighbourhood of Tyre, Sidon, etc. The word Gentiles includes, in the Scriptures, all who are not Jews. It means the same as nations, or, as we should say, the heathen nations. (i) "Esaias the prophet, saying" Is 9:1,2 Verse 15. No specific Barnes text on this verse. Mt 4:14 Verse 16. The people which sat in darkness. This is an expression denoting great ignorance. As in darkness or night we can see nothing, and know not where to go, so those who are ignorant of God, and their duty, are said to be in darkness. The instruction which removes this ignorance is called light. See Jn 3:19, 1Pet 2:9, 1Jn 1:6; 1Jn 2:8. As ignorance is often connected with crime and vice, so darkness is sometimes used to denote sin, 1Thes 5:5, Eph 5:11, Lk 22:53. The region and shadow of death. This is a forcible and beautiful image, designed also to denote ignorance and sin. It is often used in the Bible, and is very expressive. A shadow is caused by an object coming between us and the sun. So the Hebrews imaged death as standing between us and the sun, and casting a long, dark, and baleful shadow abroad on the face of the nations, denoting their great ignorance, sin, and woe. It denotes a dismal, gloomy, and dreadful shade, where death and sin reign, like the chill damps, and horrors of the dwelling-place of the dead. See Job 10:21, 16:16; 34:22, Ps 23:4, Jer 2:6. These expressions denote that the country of Galilee was peculiarly ignorant and blind. We know that the people were proverbially so. They were distinguished for a coarse, outlandish manner of speech, (Mk 14:70) and are represented as having been distinguished by a general profligacy of morals and manners. It shows the great compassion of the Saviour, that he went to preach to such poor and despised sinners. Instead of seeking the rich and the learned, he chose to minister to the needy, the ignorant, and the contemned. His office is to enlighten the ignorant; his delight to guide the wandering, and to raise up those that are in the shadow of death. In doing this, Jesus set an example for all his followers. It is their duty to seek out those who are sitting in the shadow of death, and to send the gospel to them. No small part of the world is still lying in wickedness, as wicked and wretched as was the land of Zebulun and Naphtali in the time of Jesus. The Lord Jesus is able to enlighten them also. And every Christian should conceive it a privilege, as well as a duty, to imitate his Saviour in this, and to be permitted to send to them the light of life. See Mt 28:19. (k) "saw great light" Isa 42:6,7, Lk 2:32 Verse 17. See Mt 3:2 (m) "for the kingdom of heaven is at hand" Mt 3:2, 10:7 Verse 18. Sea of Galilee. This was also caned the sea of Tiberias, and the lake of Gennesareth, and also the sea of Chinnereth, Nu 34:11, De 3:17, Josh 12:3. It is about fifteen miles in length, and from six to nine in width. There is no part of Palestine, it is said, which can be compared in beauty with the environs of this lake. Many populous cities once stood on its shores, such as Tiberias, Bethsaida, Capernaum, Chorazin, Hippo, etc. The shores are described by Josephus as a perfect paradise, producing every luxury under heaven, at all seasons of the year. The river Jordan flows directly through the lake, it is said, without mingling with its waters, so that the course of the Jordan can be distinctly seen. The waters of the lake are sweet and pleasant to the taste, and clear. The lake still abounds with fish, and gives employment, as it did in the time of our Saviour, to those who live on its shores. It is, however, stormy, owing probably to the high hills by which it is surrounded. Simon called Peter. The name Peter means a rock; and is the same as Cephas. Mt 16:18; also Jn 1:42; 1Cor 15:5. (n) "called Peter" Jn 1:42 Verse 19. Fishers of men. Ministers or preachers of the gospel, whose business it shall be to win souls to Christ. (o) "fishers of men" Lk 5:10, 1Cor 9:20-22, 2Cor 12:16 Verse 20. Straightway. Immediately--as all should do when the Lord Jesus calls them. Left their nets. Their nets were the means of their living, perhaps all their property. By leaving them immediately, and following him, they gave every evidence of sincerity. They showed, what we should, that they were willing to forsake all fro the sake of Jesus, and to follow him wherever he should lead them. They went forth to persecution and death, for the sake of Jesus; but also to the honour of saving souls from death, and establishing a church that shall continue to the end of time. Little did they know what awaited them, when they left their unmended nets to rot on the beach, and followed the unknown and unhonoured Jesus of Nazareth. So we know not what awaits us, when we become his followers but we should cheerfully go, when our Saviour calls, willing to commit all into his hand--come honour or dishonour, sickness or health, riches or poverty, life or death. Be it ours to do our duty at once, and to commit the result to the great Redeemer who has call us. Comp. Mt 6:33, 8:21,22 Jn 21:21,22. Followed him. This is an expression denoting that they became his disciples, 2Kgs 6:19. (p) "their nets" Mk 10:28-31. Verse 22. Left their father. This showed how willing they were to follow Jesus. They left their father. They showed us what we ought to do. If necessary, we should leave father, and mother, and every friend, Lk 14:26. If they will go with us, and be Christians, it is well; if not, yet they should not hinder us. We should be the followers of Jesus. And while, in doing it, we should treat our friends tenderly and kindly, yet we ought at all hazards to obey God, and do our duty to him. We may add, that many, very many children, since Sabbath schools have commenced, have been the means of their parents' conversion. Many children have spoken to their parents, or read the Bible to them, or other books, and prayed for them, and God has blessed them and converted them. Every child in a Sunday school ought to be a Christian; and then should strive and pray that God would convert his parents, and make them Christians too. We see here, too, what humble instruments God makes use of to convert men. He chose fishermen to convert the world. He chooses the foolish to confound the wise. And it shows that religion is true, and is the power of God, when he makes use of such instruments to change the hearts of men, and save their souls. 1Cor 1:26 and following. Verse 23. All Galilee. See Mt 2:22. Synagogues. Places of worship, or places where the people assembled together to worship God. The origin of synagogues is involved in much obscurity. The sacrifices of the Jews were appointed to be held in one place, at Jerusalem. But there was nothing to forbid the other services of religion to be performed at any place. Accordingly, the praises of God were sung in the schools of the prophets; and those who chose were assembled by the seers on the Sabbath, and the new-moons, for religious worship, 2Kgs 4:23, 1Sam 10:5-11. The people would soon see the necessity of providing convenient places for their services, to shelter them from storms and heat; and this was probably the origin of synagogues. At what tinge they were commenced is unknown. They are mentioned by Josephus a considerable time before the coming of Christ; and in his time they were multiplied, not only in Judea, but wherever there were Jews. There were no less than 480 in Jerusalem alone, before it was taken by the Romans. The synagogues were built in elevated places--in any place where ten men were found who were willing to associate for the purpose; and were the regular customary places of worship. In them the law, i.e., the Old Testament, divided into suitable portions, was read, prayers were offered, and the Scriptures were expounded. The law was so divided, that the five books of Moses, and portions of the prophets, could be read through each year. The Scriptures, after being read, were expounded. This was done, either by the officers of the synagogues, or by any person who might be invited to it by the officiating minister. Our Saviour and the apostles were in the habit of attending at those places constantly, and of speaking to the people, Lk 4:15-27, Acts 13:14, 15. The synagogues were built in imitation of the temple, with a centre building, supported by pillars, and a court surrounding it. Mt 21:12. In the centre building, or chapel, was a place prepared for the reading of the law. The law was kept in a chest, or ark, near to the pulpit. The uppermost seats, (Mt 23:6) were those nearest to the pulpit. The people sat round, facing the pulpit. When the law was read, the officiating person rose; when it was expounded, he was seated. Our Saviour imitated their example, and was commonly seated in addressing the people, Mt 5:1, 13:1. Teaching. Instructing the people, or explaining the gospel. The Gospel of the kingdom. The good news respecting the kingdom which he was about to set up; or the good news respecting the coming of the Messiah and the nature of his kingdom. Preaching. See Mt 3:1. All manner of sickness. All kinds of sickness. (r) "teaching" Mt 9:35, Lk 4:15,44 (s) "Gospel of the Kingdom" Mt 24:14, Mk 1:14 (t) "manner of disease" Ps 103:3, Mt 8:16,17 Verse 24. And his fame went throughout all Syria. It is not easy to fix the exact bounds of Syria in the time of our Saviour. It was, perhaps, the general name for the country lying between the Euphrates on the east, and the Mediterranean on the west; and between Mount Taurus on the north, and Arabia on the south. Through all this region his celebrity was spread by his power of working miracles; and, as might be expected, the sick from every quarter were brought to him, in the hope that he would give relief. Those possessed with devils. Much difficulty exists, and much has been written, respecting those in the New Testament said to be possessed with the devil. It has been maintained by many, that the sacred writers meant only by this expression to denote those who were melancholy or epileptic, or afflicted with some other grievous disease. This opinion has been supported by arguments too long to be repeated here. On the other hand, it has been supposed that the persons so described were under the influence of evil spirits, who had complete possession of the faculties, and who produced many symptoms of disease not unlike melancholy, and madness, and epilepsy. That such was the fact, will appear from the following considerations: 1st. That Christ and the apostles spoke to them, and of them as such; that they addressed them, and managed them, precisely as if they were so possessed, leaving their hearers to infer beyond a doubt that such was their real opinion. 2nd. They spake, conversed, asked questions, gave answers, and expressed their knowledge of Christ, and their fear of him--things that certainly could not be said of diseases, Mt 8:29, Lk 8:28. 3rd. They are represented as going out of the persons possessed, and entering the bodies of others, Mt 8:32. 4th. Jesus spoke to them, and asked their name, and they answered him. He threatened them, commanded them to be silent, to depart, and not to return, Mk 1:25, 5:8, 9:26. 5th. Those possessed are said to know Christ; to be acquainted with the Son of God, Lk 4:34, Mk 1:24. This could not be said of diseases. 6th. The early fathers of the church interpreted these passages in the same way. They derived their opinions probably from the apostles themselves, and their opinions are a fair interpretation of the apostles' sentiments. 7th. If it may be denied that Christ believed in such possessions, it does not appear why any other clear sentiment of his may not in the same way be disputed. There is, perhaps, no subject on which he expressed himself more clearly, or acted more uniformly, or which he left more clearly impressed on the minds of his disciples. Nor is there any absurdity in the opinion that those persons were really under the influence of devils. For-- 1st. It is no more absurd to suppose that an angel, or many angels, should have fallen and become wicked, than that so many men should. 2nd. It is no more absurd that Satan should have possession of the human faculties, or inflict diseases, than that men should do it--a thing which is done every day. What more frequent than for a wicked man to corrupt the morals of others, or by inducing them to become intemperate, to produce a state of body and mind quite as bad as to be possessed with the devil? 3rd. We still see a multitude of cases that no man can prove not to be produced by the presence of an evil spirit. Who would attempt to say that some evil being may not have much to do in the case of madmen? 4th. It afforded an opportunity for Christ to show his power over the enemies of himself and of man, and thus to evince himself qualified to meet every enemy of the race, and triumphantly to redeem his people. lie came to destroy the power of Satan, Acts 26:18, Rom 16:20. Those which were lunatick. This name is given to the disease from the Latin name of the moon, (Luna.) It has the same origin in the Greek. It was given because it was formerly imagined that it was affected by the increase or the decrease of the moon. The name is still retained, although it is not certain that the moon has any effect on the disease. On this point physicians are not determined, but no harm arises from the use of the name. It is mentioned only in this place, and in Mt 17:15. It was probably the falling sickness, or the epilepsy, the same as the disease mentioned Mk 9:18-20; Lk 9:39,40. And those that had the palsy. Many infirmities were included under the general name of palsy, in the New Testament. 1st. The paralytic shock, affecting the whole body. 2nd. The hemiplegy, affecting only one side of the body--the most frequent form of the disease. 3rd. The paraplegy, affecting all the system below the neck. 4th. The catalepsy. This is caused by a contraction of the muscles in the whole or a part of the body, and is very dangerous. The effects are very violent and fatal. For instance, if, when a person is struck, he happens to have his hand extended, he is unable to draw it back; if not extended, he is unable to stretch it out. It appears diminished in size, and dried up in appearance. Hence it was called the withered hand, Mt 12:10-13. 5th. The cramp. This, in eastern countries, is a fearful malady, and by no means unfrequent. It originates from chills in the night. The limbs, when seized with it, remain unmovable, and the person afflicted with it resembles one undergoing a torture. This was probably the disease of the servant of the centurion, Mt 8:6, Lk 7:2. Death follows from this disease in a few days. And he healed them. This was done evidently by a miraculous power. A miracle is an effect produced by Divine power above, or opposed to, what are regular effects of the laws of nature. It is not a violation of the laws of nature, but is a suspension of their usual operation, for some important purpose, for instance, the regular effect of death is, that the body returns to corruption. This effect is produced by the appointed laws of nature; or, in other words, God usually produces this effect when he suspends that regular effect, and gives life to a dead body for some important purpose, it is a miracle. Such an effect is clearly the result of Divine power. No other being but God can do it. When, therefore, Christ and the apostles exerted this power, it was clear evidence that God approved of their doctrines; that he had commissioned them; and that they were authorized to declare his will. He would not give this attestation to a false doctrine. Most or all of these diseases were incurable. When Christ cured them by a word, it was the clearest of all proofs that he was sent from heaven. This is one of the strong arguments for Christianity. Verse 25. From Decapolis. Decapolis was the name of a region of country in the bounds of the half tribe of Manasseh, mainly on the east of Jordan. It was so called because it included ten cities--the meaning of the word Decapolis in Greek. Geographers generally agree that Scythopolis was the chief of these cities and was the only one of them west of the Jordan; that Hippo, (Hippos,) Gedara, Dion, (or Dios,) Pelea, (or Pella,) Gerasa, (or Gergesa,) Philadelphia and Raphana, (or Raphanae,) were seven of the remaining nine, and the other two were either Kanatha and Capitolias, or Damascus and Otopos. These cities were inhabited chiefly by foreigners (Greeks) in the days of our Saviour, and not by Jews. Hence the keeping of swine by the Gergesenes, (Mt 8:30-33,) which was forbidden by the Jewish law. (u) "great multitudes" Lk 6:17,19
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