1 Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil.
1 CHAPTER IV.
NOTES ON CHAP. IV.
Verse 1. Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit] This
transaction appears to have taken place immediately after Christ's
baptism; and this bringing up of Christ was through the influence
of the Spirit of God; that Spirit which had rested upon him in his
To be tempted] The first act of the ministry of Jesus Christ
was a combat with Satan. Does not this receive light from
I will put enmity between the woman's seed and thy seed: it shall
bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.
2And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was afterward an hungred.
2 Verse 2. And when he had fasted forty days] It is remarkable
that Moses, the great lawgiver of the Jews, previously to his
receiving the law from God, fasted forty days in the mount; that
Elijah, the chief of the prophets, fasted also forty days; and
that Christ, the giver of the New Covenant, should act in the same
way. Was not all this intended to show, that God's kingdom on
earth was to be spiritual and Divine?-that it should not consist
in meat and drink, but in righteousness, peace, and joy in the
Holy Ghost? Ro 14:17. Relative to the forty days' fast of
Moses, there is a beautiful saying in the Talmudists. "Is it
possible that any man can fast forty days and forty nights? To
which Rabbi Meir answered, When thou takest up thy abode in any
particular city, thou must live according to its customs. Moses
ascended to heaven, where they neither eat nor drink therefore he
became assimilated to them. We are accustomed to eat and drink;
and, when angels descend to us, they eat and drink also." Moses,
Elijah, and our blessed Lord could fast forty days and forty
nights, because they were in communion with God, and living a
3 And when the tempter came to him, he said, If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread.
3 Verse 3. And when the tempter] This onset of Satan was made
(speaking after the manner of men) judiciously: he came when
Jesus, after having fasted forty days and forty nights, was
hungry: now, as hunger naturally diminishes the strength of the
body, the mind gets enfeebled, and becomes easily irritated; and
if much watching and prayer be not employed, the uneasiness which
is occasioned by a lack of food may soon produce impatience, and
in this state of mind the tempter has great advantages. The
following advice of an Arabian philosopher to his son is worthy of
attention. "My son, never go out of the house in the morning,
till thou hast eaten something: by so doing, thy mind will be more
firm; and, shouldest thou be insulted by any person, thou wilt
find thyself more disposed to suffer patiently: for hunger dries
up and disorders the brain." Bibliot. Orient. Suppl. p. 449. The
state of our bodily health and worldly circumstances may afford
our adversary many opportunities of doing us immense mischief. In
such cases, the sin to which we are tempted may be justly termed,
as in Heb 12:1,
τηνευπεριστατοναμαρτιαν, the well circumstanced sin, because all
the circumstances of time, place, and state of body and mind,
are favourable to it.
If thou be the Son of God] Or, a son of God, υιοςτουθεου.
υιος is here, and in Lu 4:3, written without the article; and
therefore should not be translated THE Son, as if it were ουιος,
which is a phrase that is applicable to Christ as the Messiah: but
it is certain, whatever Satan might suspect, he did not fully know
that the person he tempted was the true Messiah. Perhaps one
grand object of his temptation was to find this out.
Command that these stones] The meaning of this temptation is:
"Distrust the Divine providence and support, and make use of
illicit means to supply thy necessities."
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.
4 Verse 4. But by (or, upon, επι) every word] ρημα, in
Greek, answers to dabar in Hebrew, which means not only a word
spoken, but also thing, purpose, appointment, &c. Our Lord's
meaning seems to be this: God purposes the welfare of his
creatures-all his appointments are calculated to promote this end.
Some of them may appear to man to have a contrary tendency; but
even fasting itself, when used in consequence of a Divine
injunction, becomes a mean of supporting that life which it seems
naturally calculated to impair or destroy.
5 Then the devil taketh him up into the holy city, and setteth him on a pinnacle of the temple,
5 Verse 5. Pinnacle of the temple] It is very likely that this
was what was called the στοαβασιλικη, the king's gallery; which,
as Josephus says, "deserves to be mentioned among the most
magnificent things under the sun: for upon a stupendous depth of a
valley, scarcely to be fathomed by the eye of him that stands
above, Herod erected a gallery of a vast height, from the top of
which if any looked down, he would grow dizzy, his eyes not being
able to reach so vast a depth."-Ant. l. xv. c. 14. See Dr.
Lightfoot on this place.
6对他说：“你若是 神的儿子，就跳下去吧！因为经上记着：‘ 神为了你，会吩咐自己的使者用手托住你，免得你的脚碰到石头。’”
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 time thou dash thy foot against a stone.
6 Verse 6. Cast thyself down] Our Lord had repelled the first
temptation by an act of confidence in the power and goodness of
God; and now Satan solicits him to make trial of it. Through the
unparalleled subtlety of Satan, the very means we make use of to
repel one temptation may he used by him as the groundwork of
another. This method he often uses, in order to confound us in
He shall give his angels charge, &c.] This is a mutilated
quotation of Ps 91:11.
The clause, to keep thee in all thy ways, Satan chose to leave
out, as quite unsuitable to his design. That God has promised to
protect and support his servants, admits of no dispute; but, as
the path of duty is the way of safety, they are entitled to no
good when they walk out of it.
In their hands they shall bear thee up] This quotation from
Ps 91:11, is a metaphor taken from a nurse's management of her
child: in teaching it to walk, she guides it along plain ground;
but, when stones or other obstacles occur, she lifts up the child,
and carries it over them, and then sets it down to walk again.
Thus she keeps it in all its ways, watching over, and guarding
every step it takes. To this St. Paul seems also to allude,
We were gentle among you, even as a nurse cherisheth her children.
Thus the most merciful God deals with the children of men, ever
guarding them by his eye, and defending them by his power.
7Jesus said unto him, It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.
7 Verse 7. Thou shalt not tempt] To expose myself to any danger
naturally destructive, with the vain presumption that God will
protect and defend me from the ruinous consequences of my
imprudent conduct, is to tempt God.
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;
8 Verse 8. An exceeding high mountain, and showeth him] If the
words, all the kingdoms of the world, be taken in a literal sense,
then this must have been a visionary representation, as the
highest mountain on the face of the globe could not suffice to
make evident even one hemisphere of the earth, and the other must
of necessity be in darkness.
But if we take the world to mean only the land of Judea, and
some of the surrounding nations, as it appears sometimes to
signify, (see on Lu 2:1,) then the mountain described by the Abbe
Mariti (Travels through Cyprus, &c.) could have afforded the
prospect in question. Speaking of it, he says, "Here we enjoyed
the most beautiful prospect imaginable. This part of the mountain
overlooks the mountains of Arabia, the country of Gilead, the
country of the Amorites, the plains of Moab, the plains of
Jericho, the river Jordan, and the whole extent of the Dead Sea.
It was here that the devil said to the Son of God, All these
kingdoms will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me."
Probably St. Matthew, in the Hebrew original, wrote haarets,
which signifies the world, the earth, and often the land of Judea
only. What renders this more probable is, that at this time Judea
was divided into several kingdoms, or governments under the three
sons of Herod the Great, viz. Archelaus, Antipas, and Philip;
which are not only called ethnarchs and tetrarchs in the Gospels,
but also βασιλεις, kings, and are said βασιλευειν, to reign,
as Rosenmuller has properly remarked. See Mt 2:22; 14:9.
9And saith unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me.
9 Verse 9. If thou wilt fall dozen and worship me] As if he had
said, "The whole of this land is now under my government; do me
homage for it, and I will deliver it into thy hand."
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.
10 Verse 10. Get thee hence] Or, behind me, οπισωμου. This is
added by a multitude of the best MSS., VERSIONS, and FATHERS. This
temptation savouring of nothing but diabolical impudence, Jesus
did not treat it as the others; but, with Divine authority,
commanded the tempter to return to his own place.
In the course of this trial, it appears that our blessed Lord
was tempted, 1st. To DISTRUST. Command these stones to become
bread. 2dly. To PRESUMPTION. Cast thyself down. 3dly. To
worldly AMBITION. All these will I give. 4thly. To IDOLATRY.
Fall down and worship me, or do me homage. There is probably not
a temptation of Satan, but is reducible to one or other of these
From the whole we may learn:
First. No man, howsoever holy, is exempted from temptation: for
God manifested to the flesh was tempted by the devil.
Secondly. That the best way to foil the adversary, is by the
sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, Eph 6:17.
Thirdly. That to be tempted even to the greatest abominations
(while a person resists) is not sin: for Christ was tempted to
worship the DEVIL.
Fourthly. That there is no temptation which is from its own
nature, or favouring circumstances, irresistible. God has
promised to bruise even Satan under our feet.
As I wish to speak what I think most necessary on every subject,
when I first meet it, and once for all, I would observe, first,
That the fear of being tempted may become a most dangerous snare.
Secondly, That when God permits a temptation or trial to come he
will give grace to bear or overcome it.
Thirdly, That our spiritual interests shall be always advanced,
in proportion to our trials and faithful resistance.
Fourthly, That a more than ordinary measure of Divine
consolation shall be the consequence of every victory.
11 Then the devil leaveth him, and, behold, angels came and ministered unto him.
11 Verse 11. Behold, angels came and ministered unto him.] That
is, brought that food which was necessary to support nature.
The name given to Satan in the third verse is very emphatic, ο
πειραζων, the tempter, or trier, from πειρω, to pierce
through. To this import of the name there seems to be an allusion,
The fiery DARTS of the wicked one. This is the precise idea of
the word in De 8:2.
To humble thee, and to prove thee, TO KNOW WHAT WAS IN THY HEART:
linesteca, πειρασησε, LXX. that he might bore thee
through. The quality and goodness of many things are proved by
piercing or boring through; for this shows what is in the heart.
Perhaps nothing tends so much to discover what we are, as trials
either from men or devils.
Shalt thou serve, or pay religious veneration, λαρρευσεις.
This is Mr. Wakefield's translation, and I think cannot be mended.
λατρεια comes from λα, very much, and τρεω, I tremble.
When a sinner approaches the presence of God, conscious of HIS
infinite holiness and justice, and of his own vileness, he will
then fully comprehend what this word means. See this religious
reverence exemplified in the case of Moses, when in the presence
of God; I exceedingly fear, said he, and tremble, Heb 12:21.
And yet this fear of God is the beginning of wisdom. See the
observations at the end of the chapter.
12 ¶ Now when Jesus had heard that John was cast into prison, he departed into Galilee;
13 And leaving Nazareth, he came and dwelt in Capernaum, which is upon the sea coast, in the borders of Zabulon and Nephthalim:
13 Verse 13. And leaving Nazareth] Or, entirely leaving Nazareth,
καικαταλιπωντηνναζαρετ, from κατα, intensive, and δειπω,
I leave. It seems that, from this time, our blessed Lord made
Capernaum his ordinary place of residence; and utterly forsook
Nazareth, because they had wholly rejected his word, and even
attempted to take away his life. See Lu 4:29.
Galilee was bounded by mount Lebanon on the north, by the river
Jordan and the sea of Galilee on the east, by Chison on the south,
and by the Mediterranean on the west.
Nazareth, a little city in the tribe of Zebulon, in lower
Galilee, with Tabor on the east, and Ptolemais on the west. It is
supposed that this city was the usual residence of our Lord for
the first thirty years of his life. It was here he became
incarnate, lived in subjection to Joseph and Mary, and from which
he took the name of a Nazorean.
Capernaum, a city famous in the New Testament, but never
mentioned in the Old. Probably it was one of those cities which
the Jews built after their return from Babylon. It stood on the
sea-coast of Galilee, on the borders of Zabulon and Nephthalim, as
mentioned in the text. This was called his own city, Mt 9:1,
&c., and here, as a citizen, he paid the half shekel, Mt 17:24.
Among the Jews, if a man became a resident in any city for twelve
months, he thereby became a citizen, and paid his proportion of
dues and taxes. See Lightfoot. Capernaum is well known to have
been the principal scene of our Lord's miracles during the three
years of his public ministry.
Zabulon, the country of this tribe, in which Nazareth and
Capernaum were situated, bordered on the lake of Gennesareth,
stretching to the frontiers of Sidon, Ge 49:13. Nephthalim was
contiguous to it, and both were on the east side of Jordan,
14That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet, saying,
15The land of Zabulon, and the land of Nephthalim, by the way of the sea, beyond Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles;
15 Verse 15. Galilee of the Gentiles] Or of the nations. So
called, because it was inhabited by Egyptians, Arabians, and
Phoenicians, according to the testimony of Strabo and others. The
Hebrew goyim, and the Greek εθνων, signify nations; and,
in the Old and New Testaments, mean those people who were not
descendants of any of the twelve tribes. The word Gentiles, from
gens, a nation, signifies the same. It is worthy of remark, that
it was a regular tradition among the ancient Jews, that the
Messiah should begin his ministry in Galilee. See the proofs in
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.
16 Verse 16. The people which sat in darkness] This is quoted
from Isa 9:2,
where, instead of sitting, the prophet used the word walked. The
evangelist might on purpose change the term, to point out the
increased misery of the state of these persons. Sitting in
darkness expresses a greater degree of intellectual blindness,
than walking in darkness does. In the time of Christ's appearing,
the people were in a much worse state than in the time of the
prophet, which was nearly 700 years before; as, during all this
period, they were growing more ignorant and sinful.
The region and shadow of death] These words are amazingly
descriptive. A region of death-DEATH'S country, where, in a
peculiar manner, Death lived, reigned, and triumphed, subjecting
all the people to his sway.
Shadow of death] σκιαθανατου, used only here and in Lu 1:79,
but often in the Old Covenant, where the Hebrew is tsal
maveth, It is not easy to enter fully into the ideal meaning of
this term. As in the former clause, death is personified, so
here. A shadow is that darkness cast upon a place by a body
raised between it and the light or sun. Death is here represented
as standing between the land above mentioned, and the light of
life, or Sun of righteousness; in consequence of which, all the
inhabitants were, involved in a continual cloud of intellectual
darkness, misery, and sin. The heavenly sun was continually
eclipsed to them, till this glorious time, when Jesus Christ, the
true light, shone forth in the beauty of holiness and truth.
Christ began his ministry in Galilee, and frequented this
uncultivated place more than he did Jerusalem and other parts of
Judea: here his preaching was peculiarly needful; and by this was
the prophecy fulfilled.
17 ¶ From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.
17 Verse 17. Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent] See on
Mt 3:1, 2. Every preacher commissioned by God to proclaim
salvation to a lost world, begins his work with preaching the
doctrine of repentance. This was the case with all the prophets,
John the Baptist, Jesus Christ, all the apostles, and all their
genuine successors in the Christian ministry. The reasons are
evident in the notes already referred to; and for the explanation
of the word κηρυσσειν, preaching or proclaiming as a herald, see
at the end of chap. 3.
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.
18 Verse 18. Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother] Why did
not Jesus Christ call some of the eminent Scribes or Pharisees to
publish his Gospel, and not poor unlearned fishermen, without
credit or authority? Because it was the kingdom of heaven they
were to preach, and their teaching must come from above: besides,
the conversion of sinners, though it be effected instrumentally by
the preaching of the Gospel, yet the grand agent in it is the
Spirit of God. As the instruments were comparatively mean, and,
the work which was accomplished by them was grand and glorious,
the excellency of the power at once appeared to be of GOD, and not
of man; and thus the glory, due alone to his name, was secured,
and the great Operator of all good had the deserved praise.
Seminaries of learning, in the order of God's providence and
grace, have great and important uses; and, in reference to such
uses, they should be treated with great respect: but to make
preachers of the Gospel is a matter to which they are utterly
inadequate; it is a, prerogative that God never did, and never
will, delegate to man.
Where the seed of the kingdom of God is sowed, and a
dispensation of the Gospel is committed to a man, a good education
may be of great and general use: but it no more follows, because a
man has had a good education, that therefore he is qualified to
preach the Gospel, than it does, that because he has not had that,
therefore he is unqualified; for there may be much ignorance of
Divine things where there is much human learning; and a man may be
well taught in the things of God, and be able to teach others, who
has not had the advantages of a liberal education.
Men-made ministers have almost ruined the heritage of God. To
prevent this, our Church requires that a man be inwardly moved to
take upon himself this ministry, before he can be ordained to it.
And he who cannot say, that he trusts (has rational and Scriptural
conviction) that he is moved by the Holy Ghost to take upon
himself this office, is an intruder into the heritage of God, and
his ordination, ipso facto, vitiated and of none effect. See the
truly apostolic Ordination Service of the Church of England.
Fishers.] Persons employed in a lawful and profitable
avocation, and faithfully discharging their duty in it. It was a
tradition of the elders, that one of Joshua's ten precepts was,
that all men should have an equal right to spread their nets and
fish in the sea of Tiberias, or Galilee. The persons mentioned
here were doubtless men of pure morals; for the minister of God
should have a good report from them that are without.
19And he saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.
19 Verse 19. Follow me] Come after me, δευτεοπισωμου. Receive
my doctrines, imitate me in my conduct-in every respect be my
disciples. We may observe that most of the calls of God to man
are expressed in a few solemn words, which alarm, the conscience,
and deeply impress the heart.
I will make you fishers of men.] Ezekiel Eze 47:8-10, casts
much light on this place; and to this prophet our Lord probably
alludes. To follow Christ, and be admitted into a partnership of
his ministry, is a great honour; but those only who are by himself
fitted for it, God calls. Miserable are those who do not wait fur
this call-who presume to take the name of fishers of men, and know
not how to cast the net of the Divine word, because not brought to
an acquaintance with the saving power of the God who bought them.
Such persons, having only their secular interest in view, study
not to catch men, but to catch money: and though, for charity's
sake, it may be said of a pastor of this spirit, he does not enter
the sheepfold as a thief, yet he certainly lives as a hireling.
Following a person, in the Jewish phrase, signifies being his
disciple or scholar. See a similar mode of speech, 2Ki 6:19.
20 And they straightway left their nets, and followed him.
20 Verse 20. They straightway left their nets] A change, as far
as it respected secular things, every way to their disadvantage.
The proud and the profane may exult and say, "Such preachers as
these cannot be much injured by their sacrifices of secular
property-they have nothing but nets, &c., to leave." Let such
carpers at the institution of Christ know, that he who has nothing
but a net, and leaves that for the sake of doing good to the souls
of men, leaves his ALL: besides, he lived comfortably by his net
before; but, in becoming the servant of all for Christ's sake, he
often exposes himself to the want of even a morsel of bread. See
on Mt 19:27.
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.
22 And they immediately left the ship and their father, and followed him.
22 Verse 22. Left the ship and their father] By the ship, το
πλοιον, we are to understand the mere fishing-boat, used for
extending their nets in the water and bringing the hawser or rope
of the farther end to shore, by which the net was pulled to land.
But why should these be called to leave their employment and their
father, probably now aged? To this I answer, that to be obedient
to, provide for, and comfort our parents, is the highest duty we
owe or can discharge, except that to God. But, when God calls to
the work of the ministry, father and mother and all must be left.
Were we necessary to their comfort and support before? Then God,
if he call us into another work or state, will take care to supply
to them our lack of service some other way; and, if this be not
done, it is a proof we have mistaken our call. Again, were our
parents necessary to us, and in leaving them for the sake of the
Gospel, or in obedience to a Divine command, do we deprive
ourselves of the comforts of life? No matter: we should prefer
the honour of serving the Most High, even in poverty and humility,
to all the comforts of a father's house. But what an honour was
the vocation of James and John, to old Zebedee their father! His
sons are called to be heralds of the God of heaven! Allowing him
to have been a pious man, this must have given him unutterable
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.
23 Verse 23. Teaching in their synagogues] Synagogue, συναγωγη,
from συν, together, and αγω, I bring, a public assembly of
persons, or the place where such persons publicly assembled.
Synagogues, among the Jews, were not probably older than the
return from the Babylonish captivity. They were erected not only
in cities and towns, but in the country, and especially by rivers,
that they might have water for the convenience of their frequent
Not less than ten persons of respectability composed a
synagogue; as the rabbins supposed that this number of persons, of
independent property, and well skilled in the law, were necessary
to conduct the affairs of the place, and keep up the Divine
worship. See Lightfoot. Therefore, where this number could not
be found, no synagogue was built; but there might be many
synagogues in one city or town, provided it were populous.
Jerusalem is said to have contained 480. This need not be
wondered at, when it is considered that every Jew was obliged to
worship God in public, either in a synagogue or in the temple.
The chief things belonging to a synagogue were:
1st. The ark or chest, made after the mode of the ark of the
covenant, containing the Pentateuch.
2dly. The pulpit and desk, in the middle of the synagogue, on
which he stood who read or expounded the law.
3dly. The seats or pews for the men below, and the galleries
for the women above.
4thly. The lamps to give light in the evening service, and at
the feast of the dedication. And,
5thly. Apartments for the utensils and alms-chests.
The synagogue was governed by a council or assembly, over whom
was a president, called in the Gospels, the ruler of the
synagogue. These are sometimes called chiefs of the Jews, the
rulers, the priests or elders, the governors, the
overseers, the fathers of the synagogue. Service was performed in
them three times a day-morning, afternoon, and night. Synagogue,
among the Jews, had often the same meaning as congregation among
us, or place of judicature, see Jas 2:2.
Preaching the Gospel of the kingdom] Or, proclaiming the glad
tidings of the kingdom. See the preceding notes. Behold here the
perfect pattern of an evangelical preacher: 1. He goes about
seeking sinners on every side, that he may show them the way to
heaven. 2. He proclaims the glad tidings of the kingdom, with a
freedom worthy of the King whom he serves. 3. He makes his
reputation and the confidence of the people subservient not to his
own interest, but to the salvation of souls. 4. To his preaching
he joins, as far as he has ability, all works of mercy, and
temporal assistance to the bodies of men. 5. He takes care to
inform men that diseases, and all kinds of temporal evils, are the
effects of sin, and that their hatred to iniquity should increase
in proportion to the evils they endure through it. 6. And that
nothing but the power of God can save them from sin and its
For glad tidings, or Gospel, see chap. 1. title. Proclaiming,
see Mt 3:1, and end;
and for the meaning of kingdom, see Mt 3:2.
All manner of sickness, and all manner of disease] There is a
difference between νοσος, translated here sickness, and μαλακια,
translated disease. The first is thus defined: νοσοςτηνχρονιαν
κακοπαθειαν, a disease of some standing, a chronic disorder.
Infirmity, μαλακιατηνπροσκαιρονανωμαλιαντοισωματος, a
temporary disorder of the body. Theophylact. This is a proper
distinction, and is necessary to be observed.
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.
24 Verse 24. Sick people] τουςκακωςεχοντας, those who felt
ill-were afflicted with any species of malady.
And torments] βασανοις, from βασανιζω, to examine by
torture, such as cholics, gouts, and rheumatisms, which racked
Possessed with devils] Daemoniacs. Persons possessed by evil
spirits. This is certainly the plain obvious meaning of daemoniac
in the Gospels.
Many eminent men think that the sacred writers accommodated
themselves to the unfounded prejudices of the common people, in
attributing certain diseases to the influence of evil spirits,
which were merely the effects of natural causes: but that this
explanation can never comport with the accounts given of these
persons shall be proved as the places occur.
Our common version, which renders the word, those possessed by
devils, is not strictly correct; as the word devil, διαβολος, is
not found in the plural in any part of the Sacred Writings, when
speaking of evil spirits: for though there are multitudes of
daemons, Mr 5:9,
yet it appears there is but one DEVIL, who seems to be supreme, or
head, over all the rest. διαβολος signifies an accuser or
slanderer, 1Ti 3:11; 2Ti 3:3; Tit 2:3. Perhaps Satan was
called so, 1st. because he accused or slandered God in paradise,
as averse from the increase of man's knowledge and happiness,
Ge 3:5; Joh 8:44;
and 2dly. because he is the accuser of men, Re 12:9, 10.
See also Clarke on "Job 1:2".
The word comes from δια, through, and βαλλειν, to cast, or
shoot, because of the influence of his evil suggestions; compared,
to fiery darts; and thus it is nearly of the same meaning with
οπειραζων, he who pierces through. See on Mt 4:3.
Lunatic] Persons afflicted with epileptic or other disorders,
which are always known to have a singular increase at the change
and full of the moon. This undoubtedly proceeds from the
superadded attractive influence of the sun and moon upon the
earth's atmosphere, as, in the periods mentioned above, these two
luminaries are both in conjunction; and their united attractive
power being exerted on the earth at the same time, not only causes
the flux and reflux of the ocean, but occasions a variety of
important changes in the bodies of infirm persons, of animals in
general, but more particularly in those who are more sensible of
these variations. And is this any wonder, when it is well known,
that a very slight alteration in the atmosphere causes the most
uncomfortable sensations to a number of invalids! But sometimes
even these diseases were caused by demons. See on Mt 8:16, 34,
and Mt 17:15.
Palsy] Palsy is defined, a sudden loss of tone and vital power
in a certain part of the human body. This may affect a limb, the
whole side, the tongue, or the whole body. This disorder is in
general incurable, except by the miraculous power of God, unless
in its slighter stages.
He healed them.] Either with a word or a touch; and thus proved
that all nature was under his control.
25And there followed him great multitudes of people from Galilee, and from Decapolis, and from Jerusalem, and from Judaea, and from beyond Jordan.
25 Verse 25. This verse is immediately connected with the fifth
chapter, and should not be separated from it.
Great multitudes] This, even according to the Jews, was one
proof of the days of the Messiah: for they acknowledged that in
his time there should be a great famine of the word of God; and
thus they understood Amos, Am 8:11.
Behold, the days come-that I will send a famine in the land, not a
famine of bread-but of hearing the words of the Lord. And as the
Messiah was to dispense this word, the bread of life, hence they
believed that vast multitudes from all parts should be gathered
together to him. See Schoettgenius on this place.
Decapolis] A small country, situated between Syria and Galilee
of the nations. It was called Decapolis, δεκαπολις, from δεκα,
ten, and πολις, a city, because it contained only ten cities;
the metropolis, and most ancient of which, was Damascus.
From beyond Jordan.] Or, from the side of Jordan. Probably
this was the country which was occupied anciently by the two
tribes of Reuben and Gad, and the half tribe of Manasseh; for the
country of Decapolis lay on both sides of the river Jordan. See
Nu 32:5, 33.
THE account of our Lord's temptation, as given by the
evangelist, is acknowledged on all hands to be extremely
difficult. Two modes of interpretation have been generally
resorted to, in order to make the whole plain and intelligible:
viz. the literal and allegorical. In all cases, where it can
possibly apply, I prefer the first: the latter should never be
used, unless obviously indicated in the text itself; or so
imperiously necessary that no other mode of interpretation can
possibly apply. In the preceding observations, I have taken up
the subject in a literal point of view; and it is hoped that most
of the difficulties in the relation have been removed, or
obviated, by this plan. An ingenious correspondent has favoured
me with some observations on the subject, which have much more
than the merit of novelty to recommend them. I shall give an
abstract of some of the most striking; and leave the whole to the
reader's farther consideration.
The thoughts in this communication proceed on this ground:
"These temptations were addressed to Christ as a public person,
and respected his conduct in the execution of his ministry; and
are reported to his Church as a forcible and practical
instruction, concerning the proper method of promoting the kingdom
of God upon earth. They are warnings against those Satanic
illusions, by which the servants of Christ are liable to be
hindered in their great work, and even stopped in the
prosecution of it.
"As our Lord had, at his baptism, been declared to be the SON of
God, i.e. the promised Messiah, this was probably well known to
Satan, who did not mean to insinuate any thing to the contrary,
when he endeavoured to engage him to put forth an act of that
power which he possessed as the Messiah. The mysterious union of
the Divine with the human nature, in our Lord's state of
humiliation, Satan might think possible to be broken; and
therefore endeavoured, in the first temptation, Command these
stones to be made bread, to induce our Lord to put forth a
separate, independent act of power; which our Lord repelled, by
showing his intimate union with the Divine will, which he was come
to fulfil-Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word
that proceedeth out of the mouth of God. Thus showing, as he did
on another occasion, that it was his meat and drink to do the will
of his Father.
"2. The ground of the temptation was then changed; and the
fulfilment of the Divine will, in the completion of a prophetic
promise, was made the ostensible object of the next attack. Cast
thyself down-for it is WRITTEN, He will give his angels charge
concerning thee, and in their hands shall they bear thee up, &c.
This our Lord repelled with-Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy
God-as Satan had designed to induce him to seek this public
miraculous confirmation of God's peculiar care over him, as the
promised Messiah, of his being which, according to the hypothesis
above, Satan had no doubt. Moses, being appointed to a great and
important work, needed miraculous signs to strengthen his faith;
but the sacred humanity of our blessed Lord needed them not; nor
did his wisdom judge that such a sign from heaven was essential to
the instruction of the people.
"3. The last temptation was the most subtle and the most
powerful-All these will I give unto thee, if thou wilt fall down
and worship me. To inherit all nations, had been repeatedly
declared to be the birthright of the Messiah. His right to
universal empire could not be controverted; nor could Satan
presume to make the investiture. What, then, was his purpose?
Satan had hitherto opposed, and that with considerable success,
the kingdom of God upon earth; and what he appears to propose
here, were terms of peace, and an honourable retreat. The worship
which he exacted was an act of homage, in return for his cession
of that ascendancy which, through the sin of man, he had obtained
in the world. Having long established his rule among men, it was
not at first to be expected that he would resign it without a
combat: but the purpose of this last temptation appears to be an
offer to decline any farther contest; and, yet more, if his terms
were accepted, apparently to engage his influence to promote the
kingdom of the Messiah. And as the condition of this proposed
alliance, he required, not Divine worship, but such an act of
homage as implied amity and obligation; and if this construction
be allowed, he may be supposed to have enforced the necessity of
the measure, by every suggestion of the consequences of a refusal.
The sufferings which would inevitably result from a provoked
opposition, which would render the victory, though certain to
Christ himself, dearly bought; added to which, the conflict he
was prepared to carry on through succeeding ages, in which all his
subtlety and powers should be employed to hinder the progress of
Christ's cause in the earth, and that with a considerable degree
of anticipated success. Here the devil seems to propose to make
over to Christ the power and influence he possessed in this world,
on condition that he would enter into terms of peace with him; and
the inducement offered was, that thereby our Lord should escape
those sufferings, both in his own person, and in that of his
adherents, which a provoked contest would ensure. And we may
suppose that a similar temptation lies hid in the desires excited
even in some of the servants of Christ, who may feel themselves
often induced to employ worldly influence and power for the
promotion of his kingdom, even though, in so doing, an apparent
communion of Christ and Belial is the result: for it will be found
that neither worldly riches, nor power, can be employed in the
service of Christ, till, like the spoils taken in war,
De 31:21-23, they have passed through the fire and water, as,
without a Divine purification, they are not fit to be employed in
the service of God and his Church.
"Hence we may conclude, that the first temptation had for its
professed object, 1st, our Lord's personal relief and comfort,
through the inducement of performing a separate and independent
act of power.-The second temptation professed to have in view his
public acknowledgment by the people, as the MESSIAH: for, should
they see him work such a miracle as throwing himself down from the
pinnacle of the temple without receiving any hurt, they would be
led instantly to acknowledge his Divine mission; and the evil of
this temptation may be explained, as seeking to secure the success
of his mission by other means than those which, as the Messiah, he
had received from the Father. Compare Joh 14:31.
The third temptation was a subtle attempt to induce Christ to
acknowledge Satan as an ally, in the establishment of his
kingdom." E. M. B.
The above is the substance of the ingenious theory of my
correspondent, which may be considered as a third mode of
interpretation, partaking equally of the allegoric and literal. I
still, however, think, that the nearer we keep to the letter in
all such difficult cases, the more tenable is our ground,
especially where the subject itself does not obviously require the
allegorical mode of interpretation. Among many things worthy of
remark in the preceding theory the following deserves most
attention: That Satan is ever ready to tempt the governors and
ministers of the Christian Church to suppose that worldly means,
human policy, secular interest and influence, are all essentially
necessary for the support and extension of that kingdom which is
not of this world! Such persons can never long preserve hallowed
hands: they bring the world into the Church; endeavour to sanctify
the bad means they use, by the good end they aim at; and often, in
the prosecution of their object, by means which are not of God's
devising, are driven into straits and difficulties, and to
extricate themselves, tell lies for God's sake. This human policy
is from beneath-God will neither sanction nor bless it. It has
been the bane of true religion in all ages of the world; and, in
every country where the cause of Christianity has been
established, such schemers and plotters in the Church of God are
as dangerous to its interests as a plague is to the health of
society. The governors and ministers of the Christian Church
should keep themselves pure, and ever do God's work in his own
way. If the slothful servant should be cast out of the vineyard,
he that corrupts the good seed of the Divine field, or sows tares
among the wheat, should be considered as an enemy to
righteousness, and be expelled from the sacred pale as one who
closes in with the temptation-"All these things (the kingdoms of
the world, and the glory of them) will I give unto THEE, if thou
wilt fall down and worship ME." However necessary the Church may
be to the state, and the state to the Church, as some people
argue, yet the latter is never in so much danger as when the
former smiles upon it.