Matthew 4

Matthew 4:1

Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.

(a) Tempted. The original word (peirazo) means tested (e.g., Rev. 2:10). It is not a sin to be tempted and Jesus our High Priest was tempted in all things yet remained without sin (Heb. 4:15). For this reason, Jesus is able to aid us when we are tempted (Heb. 2:15). “The Lord knows how to rescue the godly from temptation” (2 Pet. 2:9).

The devil tempted first Adam in the garden and in the wilderness he tempted Last Adam. On both occasions he baited his line with three temptations: the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and pride of life (1 John 2:16).

(b) The devil is also known as the tempter (Matt. 4:2, 1 Th. 3:5), the evil one (Matt. 13:38, 1 John 2:13), the accuser (Rev. 12:10), Satan (Matt. 4:10), and the great dragon and the serpent of old (Rev. 12:9, 20:2).

He is a fallen angel who disguises himself as an angel of light (Luke 10:18, 2 Cor. 11:14). His modus operandi is deception (Rev. 12:19, 20:10). The devil is a defeated and disarmed enemy (Heb. 2:14). Like a toothless lion his growl is worse than his bite (1 Pet. 5:8).

Matthew 4:3

And the tempter came and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.”

(a) The tempter. God will never tempt you to evil (Jas. 1:13), so those who tempt you are doing the work of the tempter (i.e., the devil; 1 Th. 3:5).

The Tempter can only tempt you. He cannot force you to sin for sin no longer has dominion over you (Rom 6:22). But if we succumb to the Tempter, we can stumble into sin. From time to time, we all stumble (Jas 3:2). But when we do we are acting out of character. This is why we’re miserable when we sin – we’re doing the things we do not want to do (Gal. 5:17). Feeling wretched is actually proof of our new life coming into conflict with our old habits of walking after the flesh. It is evidence that we are no longer sinners by nature. We resist temptation through prayer and by keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus (Luke 22:40).

(b) The Son of God. The apostles recognized that Christ’s identity was defined by his relationship to God the Father (see entry for John 20:31). In contrast, the unbelieving Jews doubted Christ’s sonship (Matt. 27:40, John 19:7), and the devil questioned it. “If you are the Son of God” (Matt. 4: 6, Luke 4:3, 9).

(c) These stones. The stones represent the law. The tempter will tempt you to find your sustenance through the law. If he can get you to rely on your law-keeping performance, you will have fallen from grace and cut yourself off from Christ (see entry for Gal. 5:4).

(d) Become bread. Jesus was hungry and the devil tempted him with bread. This temptation represents the lust of the flesh. See entry for The Flesh.

Matthew 4:6

and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down; for it is written,

(a) If you are the Son of God. The devil will always try to get you to question your identity. You are a dearly loved child of God (1 John 3:1). See also the entry for Matt. 4:3

(b) The Son of God; see entry for Matt. 4:3.

Matthew 4:7

Jesus said to him, “On the other hand, it is written, ‘YOU SHALL NOT PUT THE LORD YOUR GOD TO THE TEST.’”

The Lord your God. Although the Old Testament is riddled with a variety of names for God, the New Testament has relatively few. Most of the time when Jesus spoke about God, he called him Father (see entry for Luke 2:49). But when speaking to the devil he called him Lord God.

Matthew 4:10

Then Jesus said to him, “Go, Satan! For it is written, ‘YOU SHALL WORSHIP THE LORD YOUR GOD, AND SERVE HIM ONLY.’”

(a) The Lord your God; see entry for Matt 4:7.

(b) It is written. Jesus is about to quote the old covenant law that says “Fear the Lord your God, and serve him only” (Deu. 6:13).

(c) Worship the Lord. Jesus deliberately misquotes the law, replacing the word fear for worship. Or rather, he translates the heart of God better than Moses did.

There is no fear in love. Your heavenly Father does not want you to live in fear because the one who fears has not been made perfect in love (1 John 4:18). You have nothing to fear from the One who loves you with a love that surpasses knowledge (Eph. 3:19).

To fear God is to worship him. It’s giving him the reverence and honor due his name. This sort of fear has nothing to do with pain and punishment but is a proper response to a God who is holy, righteous, awesome, and good.

Further reading: What is the fear of the Lord?

Matthew 4:17

From that time Jesus began to preach and say, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

(a) Preach. The original verb (kerusso) means to herald as a public crier. This is one of three words that are commonly translated as “preach” or “preaching” in the New Testament. See entry for Acts 5:42.

(b) Repent. To repent means to change your mind. In context, it means changing your mind about Christ and the goodness of God (Rom. 2:4). “Change your unbelieving mind and believe the glad tidings of the kingdom that has come.” See entry for Repentance.

(c) The kingdom of heaven refers to the reign of God through his Son Jesus Christ (see entry for Matt. 3:2).

(d) At hand. The Old Testament prophets spoke of a coming kingdom from heaven (Dan. 2:44). The last of these prophets, John the Baptist, said the kingdom had arrived or was at hand. He was speaking of the imminent arrival of Jesus Christ, the promised King (Dan. 7:13–14). Jesus began his ministry with the same words.

The gospel is not a there and then message, but a here and now message. Today is the day of salvation (2 Cor. 6:2).

Matthew 4:18

Now as Jesus was walking by the Sea of Galilee, He saw two brothers, Simon who was called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen.

Simon was a common Biblical name. Since there were two disciples named Simon, they were distinguished as Simon Peter and Simon the zealot (Matt. 10:4). In addition, the New Testament names seven other Simons including Simon the step-brother of Jesus (Matt. 13:55), Simon the leper (Matt. 26:6), Simon of Cyrene (Matt. 27:32), Simon the Pharisee (Luke 7:36–40), Simon, the father of Judas Iscariot (John 13:2), Simon the sorcerer (Acts 8:9), and Simon the tanner (Acts 10:6).

Matthew 4:19

And He said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.”

I will make you. You may think you lack the personality or skills to win souls, but Jesus will make you into fisher of men. Jesus is the wise winner of souls, and he wins souls through you. Our part is follow or trust him.

Matthew 4:21

Going on from there He saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in the boat with Zebedee their father, mending their nets; and He called them.

James… and John. The mother of the sons of Zebedee was present at the crucifixion. If this woman was also the sister of Jesus’ mother Mary, James and John were Jesus’ cousins (see entry for Matt. 27:56).

Matthew 4:23

Jesus was going throughout all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every kind of disease and every kind of sickness among the people.

(a) The gospel revealed in the Bible goes by several names. There is the gospel of Jesus Christ (Mark 1:1) or the gospel of Christ (Rom. 15:19, 1 Cor. 9:12, 2 Cor. 2:12, 9:13, 10:14, Gal. 1:7, Php. 1:27, 1 Th. 3:2). There is the gospel of God (Mark 1:14, Rom 1:1, 15:16, 2 Cor. 11:7, 1 Th. 2:2, 8, 9, 1 Pet. 4:17), gospel of the blessed God (1 Tim. 1:11), and the gospel of his Son (Rom 1:9). There is the gospel of the kingdom (Matt. 9:35, 24:14, Luke 16:16), and the gospel of the glory of Christ (2 Cor. 4:4). These are different labels for the one and only gospel of the grace of God (Acts 20:24). See entry for The Gospel.

(b) The gospel of the kingdom is the good news of the King Jesus’ dominion and reign on earth as it is in heaven. This kingdom is not far away but right here (Mark 1:14-15).

(c) Proclaiming… and healing. The gospel of the kingdom is a show and tell gospel. When we preach the good news, the Holy Spirit confirms the word with supernatural signs (Mark 16:20).

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