Thirdmill Study Bible

Notes on Matthew 4:11-25

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The devil left him - Matthew 4:11

The devil left him. Throughout this story Jesus' adversary is called by several names: the devil (Matt. 4:1,5,8,11), the tempter (Matt. 4:3), and Satan (Matt. 4:10). Matthew does not tell us anything more specific, but the devil is traditionally associated with the one who tempted Adam and Eve (Gen. 3:1-7), was always God's enemy (Job 1:6-12), and who continues to oppose God's people in the world (1 Pet. 5:8-9). He is a created being, not equal to God, on the same level as angels, as the contrast between the devil and the angels shows in Matthew 4:11.

Jesus' ministry begins - Matthew 4:12-22

After submitting to John's baptism (3:13-17) and the Spirit leading him into the devil's temptations (Matt. 4:1-11) Jesus then began the ministry that God the Father sent him to do. This ministry can be generally described as the call to repentance because God's kingdom is near (Matt. 4:17). When God's kingdom comes he will honor and welcome those who are aligned with him, therefore people are invited now to repent and reorient their lives toward Jesus. Jesus changed locations from Nazareth to Capernaum by the Sea of Galilee as the home base of his ministry (Matt. 4:12-13). There he called fishermen as his first disciples to join in his ministry (Matt. 4:18-22). These verses serve as a bridge between the introduction and preparation of Jesus (Matt. 1:1–4:11) to his kingdom ministry of teaching and healing (Matt. 4:23–25:46).

This happened to fulfill - Matthew 4:14-16

This happened to fulfill. Once again Matthew connects Jesus' story to the Old Testament with the idea of fulfillment (see note on Matt. 1:22). The connection here is that Jesus' ministry in Galilee highlights the fact that his message is not just for the Jewish people but is also shining light and giving life to those outside, the Gentiles.

Repent - Matthew 4:17

Repent. Jesus' message starts with a call to re-orient one's life based on the reality of God's coming kingdom from heaven (see note on Matt. 3:2). The rest of Jesus' teachings in Matthew should be understood as explaining what this kingdom-conscious repentance looks like.

I will make you fishers of men – Matthew 4:19

I will make you fishers of men. Jesus used a clever play on words to call these fishermen to give up their livelihood of catching fish to rescuing people. This shows that Jesus' ministry is not just about knowledge or only about the disciples' own lives. Rather, Jesus' calling always includes an outward focus of bringing life and flourishing to others.

They immediately left - Matthew 4:22

They immediately left … and followed him. While it is not possible to physically follow Jesus now, to be a disciple is still a commitment of one's life to listen to, learn from, and be guided by Jesus' life and teaching. To be a Christian is not just to believe certain doctrines or adopt a particular lifestyle, but to be a follower of Jesus.

Summary of Jesus' Gospel Ministry – Matthew 4:23-25

Matthew presents Jesus' ministry in the form of alternating blocks of teachings and actions that make up most of his Gospel (Matt. 4:23–25:46). (See discussion of the Structure in the Introduction.) Matthew describes Jesus' ministry as "the gospel of the kingdom," meaning the promised good news that God is returning to reign over the earth fully (Isa. 40:1-11). This gospel of the kingdom ministry contains three aspects: teaching and preaching, healing and restoration through Jesus' power, and the call for people to follow and align themselves with Jesus. Matt 4:23-25 (and the same words again in Matt. 9:35-38) provides a summary statement of this three-fold ministry. Matthew chapters 5–9 give examples of Jesus' teaching (Matt 5–7) and his healing and disciple-calling (Matt 8–9).

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