Matthew 4 Bible Commentary

John Wesley’s Explanatory Notes

(Read all of Matthew 4)

Verse 2

[2] And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was afterward an hungred.

Having fasted — Whereby doubtless he received more abundant spiritual strength from God.

Forty days and forty nights — As did Moses, the giver of the law, and Elijah, the great restorer of it.

He was afterward hungry — And so prepared for the first temptation.

Verse 3

[3] And when the tempter came to him, he said, If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread.

Coming to him — In a visible form; probably in a human shape, as one that desired to inquire farther into the evidences of his being the Messiah.

Verse 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.

It is written — Thus Christ answered, and thus we may answer all the suggestions of the devil.

By every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God — That is, by whatever God commands to sustain him. Therefore it is not needful I should work a miracle to procure bread, without any intimation of my Father's will. Deuteronomy 8:3.

Verse 5

[5] Then the devil taketh him up into the holy city, and setteth him on a pinnacle of the temple,

The holy city — So Jerusalem was commonly called, being the place God had peculiarly chosen for himself.

On the battlement of the temple — Probably over the king's gallery, which was of such a prodigious height, that no one could look down from the top of it without making himself giddy.

Verse 6

[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.

In their hands — That is, with great care. Psalms 91:11,12.

Verse 7

[7] Jesus said unto him, It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.

Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God — By requiring farther evidence of what he hath already made sufficiently plain. Deuteronomy 6:16.

Verse 8

[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;

Showeth him all the kingdoms of the world — In a kind of visionary representation.

Verse 9

[9] And saith unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me.

If thou wilt fall down and worship me — Here Satan clearly shows who he was. Accordingly Christ answering this suggestion, calls him by his own name, which he had not done before.

Verse 10

[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.

Get thee hence, Satan — Not, get thee behind me, that is, into thy proper place; as he said on a quite different occasion to Peter, speaking what was not expedient. Deuteronomy 6:13.

Verse 11

[11] Then the devil leaveth him, and, behold, angels came and ministered unto him.

Angels came and waited upon him — Both to supply him with food, and to congratulate his victory.

Verse 12

[12] Now when Jesus had heard that John was cast into prison, he departed into Galilee;

He retired into Galilee — This journey was not immediately after his temptation. He first went from Judea into Galilee, John 1:43; 2:1. Then into Judea again, and celebrated the passover at Jerusalem, John 2:13. He baptized in Judea while John was baptizing at Enon, John 3:22,23. All this time John was at liberty, John 3:24. But the Pharisees being offended, John 4:1; and John put in prison, he then took this journey into Galilee. Mark 1:14.

Verse 13

[13] And leaving Nazareth, he came and dwelt in Capernaum, which is upon the sea coast, in the borders of Zabulon and Nephthalim:

Leaving Nazareth — Namely, when they had wholly rejected his word, and even attempted to kill him, Luke 4:29.

Verse 15

[15] The land of Zabulon, and the land of Nephthalim, by the way of the sea, beyond Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles;

Galilee of the Gentiles — That part of Galilee which lay beyond Jordan was so called, because it was in a great measure inhabited by Gentiles, that is, heathens. Isaiah 9:1,2.

Verse 16

[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.

Here is a beautiful gradation, first, they walked, then they sat in darkness, and lastly, in the region of the shadow of death.

Verse 17

[17] From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.

From that time Jesus began to preach — He had preached before, both to Jews and Samaritans, John 4:41,45. But from this time begin his solemn stated preaching.

Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand — Although it is the peculiar business of Christ to establish the kingdom of heaven in the hearts of men, yet it is observable, he begins his preaching in the same words with John the Baptist: because the repentance which John taught still was, and ever will be, the necessary preparation for that inward kingdom. But that phrase is not only used with regard to individuals in whom it is to be established, but also with regard to the Christian Church, the whole body of believers. In the former sense it is opposed to repentance; in the latter the Mosaic dispensation.

Verse 18

[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.

Mark 1:16; Luke 5:1.

Verse 23

[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.

The Gospel of the kingdom — The Gospel, that is, the joyous message, is the proper name of our religion: as will be amply verified in all who earnestly and perseveringly embrace it.

Verse 24

[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.

Through all Syria — The whole province, of which the Jewish country was only a small part.

And demoniacs — Men possessed with devils: and lunatics, and paralytics - Men ill of the palsy, whose cases were of all others most deplorable and most helpless.

Verse 25

[25] And there followed him great multitudes of people from Galilee, and from Decapolis, and from Jerusalem, and from Judaea, and from beyond Jordan.

Decapolis — A tract of land on the east side of the sea of Galilee, in which were ten cities near each other.