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Ver. 1. And Jesus being full of the Holy Ghost , etc.] The Spirit of God having descended on him at his baptism, and afresh anointed, and filled his human nature with his gifts, whereby, as man, he was abundantly furnished for the great work of the public ministry, he was just about to enter upon; yet must first go through a series of temptations, and which, through the fulness of the Holy Spirit in him, he was sufficiently fortified against. Returned from Jordan ; where he came, and had been with John, and was baptized by him; which, when over, he went back from the same side of Jordan, to which he came: and was led by the Spirit ; the same Spirit, or Holy Ghost he was full of; (see Gill on “ Matthew 4:1”) into the wilderness ; of Judea, which lay near Jordan, and where John had been preaching and baptizing, namely, in the habitable: part of it: but this was that part, which was uninhabited by men, and was infested with wild beasts, and where Christ could neither have the comfort and benefit of human society, nor any thing for the sustenance of life, and where he was exposed to the utmost danger; and so in circumstances very opportune and favourable for Satan to ply him with his temptations, for which purpose he was led thither.
Ver. 2. Being forty days tempted of the devil , etc.] The Vulgate Latin, Syriac, Persic, and Ethiopic versions read the phrase, “forty days”, in connection with the latter part of the preceding verse; according to which the sense is, that Jesus was led by the Spirit forty days in the wilderness, before he was tempted by Satan, and in order to it: but our reading is confirmed by ( Mark 1:13) who affirms, as here, that he was so long tempted by Satan; as he might be invisibly, and, by internal suggestions, before he appeared visibly, and attacked him openly, with the following temptations. The Ethiopic version adds, “and forty nights”: and such were these days in which Christ was in the wilderness, and fasted, and was tempted there: they, were such as included nights, as well as days; (see Matthew 4:2) and in those days he did eat nothing not any sort of food whatever; he tasted of no kind of eatables or drinkables, during the whole space of forty days; nor in the nights neither, in which the Jews allowed persons to eat in times of fasting; (See Gill on “ Matthew 4:2”). And this entire abstinence, as it shows the power of Christ in the supporting of his human nature, without food, for such a time, and the disadvantages under which, as man, combated with Satan; so, that this fast was never designed as an example to his followers, and to be imitated by them: and when they were ended ; the forty days, and forty nights: he afterward hungered ; which he did not before; and which shows the truth of his human nature; and is mentioned to observe the occasion of the following temptation, and the advantage on the tempter's side.
Ver. 3. And the devil said unto him , etc.] Who now visibly appeared, and spoke unto him with an articulate voice: if thou be the Son of God ; as has been just now declared by a voice from heaven; or seeing thou art in such a relation to God, and so equal to him, and possessed of all divine perfections, and among the rest, of almighty power; wherefore, since thou art hungry, and in a wilderness, where no food is to be had, command this stone that it be made bread ; say but the word, and this stone, which he held out to him, or pointed at, as lying before them, or any one of the stones, which were in sight, for Matthew speaks of them in the plural number, will immediately be converted into bread, if he was what he was said to be: this he suggests might easily be effected by him, and he had no need to continue hungry.
Ver. 4. And Jesus answered him, saying, it is written , etc.] In ( Deuteronomy 8:3) that man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God; suggesting hereby, that when it is the will of God, human nature may be maintained by the influence of divine power, without the use of ordinary means; and that bread itself, without a divine blessing, would not support life; and so not this stone, or stones, if turned into it: wherefore, it became him, as man, to depend upon God, submit to his will, and wait the issue of providence, who had brought him thither, and not take any such steps to remove his hunger; and especially at his solicitations, who had no other end, but to have him, if he could, at his beck and will. By “every word of God”, is not meant all Scripture, and every part of it, which is given by inspiration of God, and may be said to proceed out of his mouth; neither the law, and the precepts of it, as the Jews interpret it, by obedience to which the Israelites lived in the land Canaan; nor the Gospel, and the truths of it, which are the wholesome words of Christ, and the words of faith and good doctrine, with which believers are nourished, and are that to the soul, as bread, or any other wholesome food, is to the body; for of spiritual living, and the means of that, the text is not to be understood; but either of the word of God's power, by which he upholds and sustains all things in being, which he has created; and with which he could, if he would, support the bodies of men without the use of any sort of food; as the bodies of Moses and Elijah, and now the body of Christ, were for many days; and as the bodies of the saints will be after the resurrection, to all eternity: or else the blessing of God, which he commands on bread, and other food, and the virtue and strength which he puts into them, and conveys by them, are meant, without which not, any sort of food is nourishing; or rather every thing which God declares and orders to be eaten, even every creature of his which is good, and not to be refused, but received, with thanksgiving, being sanctified by the word of God, and prayer, as well as bread; so manna, which is mentioned in the text in Deuteronomy; and likewise any other food, as pulse: and water, he is pleased to direct to. Some little difference there is between Matthew and Luke, in citing this passage; in the latter it is, “by every word of God”; and in the former it is nearer the Hebrew text in ( Deuteronomy 8:3) “by, every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God”; and so some copies read here, as do also the Arabic and Ethiopic versions: but neither of them have the words exactly as in the original text, where it is added, “doth man live”; which, doubtless, were not produced by our Lord, as being unnecessary, and therefore not mentioned by any of the evangelists.
Ver. 5. And the devil taking him up into an high mountain , etc.] Somewhere near Jerusalem, but what mountain is not certain. The Evangelist Luke makes this to be the second temptation, which, with Matthew, is the third and last; and whose order seems to be more proper and natural than this, and to be the true and genuine one, which Luke neglects, though he does not contradict it: he relates matters of fact, without attending to the strict order of them; whereas Matthew strictly regards it, observing, that after the first temptation, “then the devil taketh him, etc.” and that being finished, says, “again the devil taketh him, etc.” and upon those words, “get thee hence”, with what follows, remarks, that then the devil leaveth him: all which show, that his order is the most accurate, and to be followed. But to go on with the account; the devil having taken him from the pinnacle of the temple, and carried him to some high mountain, as Lebanon, or Pisgah, or some other near Jerusalem, showed unto him all the kingdoms of the world; not of the Roman empire only, though that consisted of many kingdoms, and is called the whole world, ( Luke 2:1) where the same word is used, as here; but of the whole universe, every kingdom that was under the heavens; which he represented to Christ, not in a map, since the glory of them could not be described in that way: for he showed him all the glory of them , as Matthew adds; and for this a mountain was no more a proper place, than any other; nor was, it any real object he presented to his bodily sight, or any real prospect he gave him of the kingdoms of the world, which are not to be seen from any one place, no not one of them, not even from the highest mountain in the world, and still less to be seen together at once in a moment: but this was a mere phantasm, a deception of the sight, with which he endeavoured to impose on Christ, but could not; nor did Christ; who is the maker of the world, and the governor among the nations, need any representation of the kingdoms of the world from him, (see Gill on “ Matthew 4:8”) and this he did in a moment of time; in the twinkling of an eye, not by succession, and in process of time, as one kingdom after another, but all at once, and in an instant: what a moment of time is, (see Gill on “ Matthew 4:8”).
Ver. 6. And the devil said unto him, all this power will I give thee , etc.].
That is, all the kingdoms of the world, and all the government and jurisdiction over them: and the glory of them; the riches, honours, and grandeur belonging to them: for that is delivered unto me: so far he spoke modestly, in that he owned an original, superior governor of them, by whom he pretended they were transferred to him; but lied, in that he suggested they were put into his hands by him, who had the supreme power over them; and that he acted by his constitution and appointment, as a deputy under him; when what power he had, as the God of the world, was by usurpation, and not by designation of God; and at most only by permission: and least of all was it true what follows; and to whomsoever I will I give it; or “these”, as the Vulgate Latin reads; that is, these kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them; when so to do is the peculiar and sole prerogative of God: nor can Satan dispose of the goods of a single man, nor of a herd of swine, nor enter into them without leave from God.
Ver. 7. If thou therefore wilt worship me , etc.] Or “before me”; that is, fall down before him, and give him divine worship and homage. A wide difference there is between a good angel and a fallen angel; a good angel will not suffer himself to be worshipped by men, but directs to the worship of God only, ( Revelation 19:10, 22:9) but a fallen angel not only seeks to be worshipped by men, but by the Son of God himself, even by him whom all the holy angels worship, ( Hebrews 1:6) This was what Satan at first aspired after, and by which he fell: he affected deity, and sought to have divine worship given him; and in this sin he still persisted, and grew worse and worse, more daring and insolent, desiring worship of him who is God over all, blessed for ever. All shall be thine : he promises to give him a title to all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them, on condition of homage done him, by which he should hold the tenure of them under him; these being delivered up solely to him, by the author of them; and he having them in his power, to dispose of them at pleasure. O horrid impudence, arrogance, and insolence!
Ver. 8. Jesus answered and said unto him , etc.] The following words, with indignation at him, and detestation of his proposals: get thee behind me, Satan ; which are omitted in the Vulgate Latin, Syriac, Persic, and Ethiopic versions, and in three ancient copies of Beza's, and in his most ancient one; but stand in other copies, and in the Arabic version. For it is written, thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve . This passage stands in ( Deuteronomy 6:13) where the words are, “thou shalt fear the Lord thy God, and serve him, and thou shalt swear by his name”: the last clause is not cited by Christ at all, swearing being only a species, or part of religious worship; and the other two clauses are somewhat different from the original text, as here cited, and may be accounted for: instead of “fear the Lord”, it is “worship the Lord”; and the one well explains the other; the fear of God being often, in Scripture, put for the whole worship of God, both internal and external: and in the next clause, the word “only” is added by Christ, as expressing the true sense of it, and agreeably to other places of Scripture, particularly ( 1 Samuel 7:3), (see Gill on “ Matthew 4:10”).
Ver. 9. And he brought him to Jerusalem , etc.] The holy city, as Matthew calls it, from the wilderness thither; where he found him, and first attacked him, and perhaps he brought him through the air: and set him on a pinnacle of the temple; which was in Jerusalem; (See Gill on “ Matthew 4:6”). And said unto him, if thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down from hence ; from the pinnacle of the temple, on which he was set; (See Gill on “ Matthew 4:6”).
Ver. 10. For it is written , etc.] In ( Psalm 91:11,12) “He shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee; and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone.” It is an observation made long ago by Jerom, on ( Psalm 91:11,12) that Satan, in citing this text, has left out the middle clause, to keep thee in all thy ways , which he knew was against him, and has only taken that which made for him; and on ( Matthew 4:6) he observes, that this prophecy is not concerning Christ, but any holy man; therefore the devil wrongly interpreted Scripture; and that had he certainly known, that this is written concerning the Saviour, he ought to have cited what follows, “thou shalt tread upon the lion and adder, the young lion and the dragon shalt thou trample under feet”: and in these observations, he has been followed by many interpreters; but Surenhusius is not satisfied with them, especially with what respects the manner of citation, leaving out some words, and not mentioning others that follow; since such a way of citing perfectly agrees with the method of the Jewish doctors; who reckon one word of a passage being cited all that follows, if it makes to the purpose, all one as if it was cited, and to be so accounted; and since, if such a method is blame worthy, Christ, the evangelists, and apostles, must be blamed also, seeing they frequently use the same, which can never be allowed of: besides, supposing the clause omitted was added, he asks of what advantage it would be? since the two verses being connected together as they are, the sense with respect to God's providence and preservation, is clear enough and complete: and I must confess, though I have pursued the above observation, in the note on (see Gill on “ Matthew 4:6”) yet by comparing the evangelists together, it is not a clear case to me, what Satan did leave out, or whether any thing at all; but it seems rather, that the words are put, as the evangelists themselves thought fit to transcribe them, in which they are not exactly alike; more is left out by one, than by another; Matthew leaves out the whole clause, “to keep thee in all thy ways”; but Luke only omits these words, “in all thy ways”: but I am still of opinion, that the passage is applicable to Christ, as to any holy good man, yet it appears that Satan failed not, neither in the manner of citing it, nor in the application of it to Christ; but by wresting it to a wicked purpose, to countenance an action unwarrantable and criminal, being a tempting God; when the text only regards the preservation of good men in the way of duty, trusting in the Lord; and which is confirmed by the answer of Christ, who takes no notice of any faulty citation of the passage, or misapplication of it, as to his person; only suggests, by opposing another Scripture to him, that what he had produced, was to a wrong and wicked purpose; and to take it in his sense, would be to tempt God, (See Gill on “ Matthew 4:6”).
Ver. 11. (See Gill on “ Luke 4:10”) Ver. 12. And Jesus answering said unto him, it is said , etc.] In ( Deuteronomy 6:16) Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God : in the text in Deuteronomy the words are, “ye shall not tempt the Lord your God.” The second person plural, is here changed into the second person singular, to accommodate the words to Satan; whom Christ singly addresses, and makes answer to, and who was under this same general law as other rational creatures: and Jehovah may be called the Lord his God, as he is his creator and governor; by whom he is upheld in his being, and to whom he is subject, whether he will or not; though not his covenant God: and even if our Lord Jesus Christ is intended by the Lord God, as some think; he is God over all; over all principalities and powers, good and bad, by whom all are created, and in whom all consist; and whose power and authority over Satan and his angels, have abundantly appeared, in dispossessing devils out of men, sending them where he pleased, and in spoiling the powers of darkness, and in destroying him that had the power of death, the devil; and great insolence and wickedness it must be in a creature, to tempt the Lord his God, in any way, or form whatever; (See Gill on “ Matthew 4:7”) Ver. 13. And when the devil had ended all the temptation , etc.] Or “all his temptations”, as the Syriac version reads; not only the last mentioned, but all the rest, whether inward or outward, in a visible or in an invisible manner; whether during his forty days fast, or after he was an hungered, when he had tried every way, and all sorts of temptations with him; and when he had done this, “in”, or “with all his power”, as the Ethiopic version reads; “when he had done his utmost”, and his best; and as the Persic version adds, “and profited nothing”; could not succeed, or get any advantage over him: he departed from him for a season ; till another opportunity should offer, or till that time should come, when would be the hour and power of darkness; and by means of one of his disciples, he should bruise his heel, and bring him to an accursed death; ( John 14:30 Luke 22:53).
Ver. 14. And Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit , etc.] Of which he was full, and by which he was led into the wilderness, and had combated with Satan, and had got the victory over him; and by virtue of which, he entered on his public ministry, wrought miracles, and taught with authority.
A like way of speaking is used by the Targumist, on ( Micah 3:8). I am filled, hawbn jwr Pwqtb , “with the power of the spirit of prophecy”, from before the Lord. Moreover, this phrase is used, to show that his return into Galilee , where he had been brought up, and from whence he came to John at Jordan, did not arise from a natural love to his country, and a fond desire of being there again; but was owing to the powerful impulse of the Holy Spirit, which was in him, and moved him to return thither; where he was to begin his ministry, and work his miracles, and so fulfil a prophecy of him, in (Is 9:1,2) (see Matthew 4:12-16). And there went out a fame of him through all the region round about: throughout all Galilee and Syria, Decapolis and Judea; (see Matthew 4:23-25), the report of his doctrines and miracles, was spread far and near; and on account of them, he became the subject of the common talk of people every where, who highly applauded and commended him for them.
Ver. 15. And he taught in their synagogues , etc.] In the public places of worship used by the Galilaeans, where they met on sabbath days and weekdays, to read and pray, and hear the Scriptures expounded; and Christ engaging here as a public teacher, was the reason of his fame being spread around the country: being glorified of all; that heard him: they were astonished at his doctrine; they wondered at his gracious words; they praised him as a preacher; and glorified him, and God for him, because of the mighty works which were done by him.
Ver. 16. And he came to Nazareth , etc.] After some length of time, when he had gone through all Galilee, and had acquired great credit and reputation by his ministry and miracles; he came to the place, where he had been brought up : where he was conceived, though not born; and where he had his education, and wrought at a trade, and was well known to the inhabitants; and therefore it was proper that he should first exercise his ministry, and obtain a character in other places, which would prepare him a reception among his townsmen, who otherwise, in all likelihood, would have treated him at once with neglect and contempt: and as his custom was, he went into the synagogue on the sabbath day .
This was either his custom from his youth, when he dwelt at Nazareth, while a private person, and before he was engaged in public service, whither he had used to repair as an inhabitant of the city, and a member of the congregation, to attend synagogue worship, as he now did; or it refers to his custom, since he became a public preacher, who at Capernaum, or any other city of Galilee, where there was a synagogue, used to frequent it, whether on sabbath days, or any other, and so he did here: and stood up for to read : by rising and standing up, and perhaps by some other gesture he signified his inclination to read a portion of Scripture, if liberty was given, and a book delivered him, for, as yet, he had no book to read in; nor might any read in public, unless he had an order from the congregation, or the chief of it; for so runs the Jewish canon f202 : “a reader may not read until the chief of the congregation bids him read; yea, even a minister of the congregation, or a ruler of the synagogue, may not read of himself, until the congregation, or the chief among them, bids him read.”
This custom of reading the Scriptures publicly, was an appointment of Moses, according to the account of the Jews; who say f203 “Moses our master, ordered the Israelites to read in the law publicly, on the sabbath, and on the second and fifth days of the week, in the morning; so that they might not be three days without hearing the law and Ezra ordered, that they should read so at the evening sacrifice, every sabbath, on account of those that sit in the corners of streets; and also he ordered, that three men should read on the second and fifth days of the week, and that they should not read less than twenty verses.”
That is, as their commentators explain it, if he will he may stand, and if he will he may sit, he may do as he pleases; but so he might not in reading the law: hence it is asked f206 , “why is it not so in the law? R. Abhu replies, because the Scripture says, ( Deuteronomy 5:3) “Stand thou here by me.”” Wherefore they say f207 , the law must be read standing, and it is even forbidden to lean on any thing. Christ conformed to these rules; he went into the synagogue to read on the sabbath day, and stood up when he read, and waited for order, and a book to be given him to read: it may be asked, how he came to be admitted to read publicly in the synagogue, when he was not of the tribe of Levi, nor was he brought up in the schools and academies of the Jews, and was known to be a mechanic? It may be observed, that common Israelites, as well as priests and Levites, were allowed to read the Scriptures publicly; every sabbath day, seven persons read, a priest, a Levite, and five Israelites: the order was this; the priest read first, and after him the Levite, and after him an Israelite: and it is said to be a known custom to this day, that even an unlearned priest read before the greatest wise man in Israel; and he that was greater than his companion in wisdom, read first f208 . Now Christ, on account of the great fame he was in for his wisdom and mighty works, was admitted to this public service, though he was no Levite, and known by the inhabitants of this place, to have been brought up to a trade.
Ver. 17. And there was delivered unto him , etc.] By the “Chazan”, or minister, to whom he gave it again, ( Luke 4:20), for the “Chazan” of the synagogue, was, çmç , “the minister” f209 ; one part of whose business was, to deliver the book of the law to, and take it from him that read: when an high priest read, the method taken was this f210 ; “the “Chazan”, or minister of the synagogue, took the book of the law, and gave it to the ruler of the synagogue, and the ruler of the synagogue gave it to the “Sagan”, and the “Sagan” gave it to the high priest, and the high priest stood and received, and read standing.”
The same method was observed, when a king read in the book of the law f211 ; but when a common priest, or an inferior person read, so much ceremony was not used, as to hand the book from one to another: the manner in their synagogues and schools, was this f212 ; “the “Chazan” brought out the book of the law, and the priest read, and after him a Levite; then the “Chazan” of the synagogue brought the book of the law down, to the head of the captivity, and all the people stood; and he took the book of the law into his hands, and “stood and read” in it; and the heads of the schools stood with him, and the head of the university of Sofa interpreted it; and returned the book of the law to the “Chazan”, and he returned it to the chest.”
That part of the sacred volume which was delivered unto Jesus at this time, was the book of the prophet Esaias ; it is very likely, that the lesson out of the prophets for that day, was to be read out of the prophecy of Isaiah; and it seems probable, that it was the single book of Isaiah, or that prophecy rolled up by itself, in one volume, that was delivered to Christ; as the law was divided, into five parts, each fifth part was sometimes in a book, or volume by itself: hence a fifth part of the law, is by the Jews interpreted f213 , rps , “a book” of the law, in which there is but one fifth part; so might the prophets be in separate and distinct books, and it as if they sometimes were, by the following account a man may “join together the law, the prophets, and the holy writings, as one, the words of R. Meir. R. Juda says, the law by itself, the prophets by themselves, and the holy writings by themselves; and the wise men say, each by themselves (i.e. each book by itself;) and says R.
Judah, it happened to Baithus ben Zunin, that he had eight prophets joined together as one; and there are that say, that he had not, but, wmx[ ynpb dja dja , “every one by itself.”” And when he had opened the book ; or unrolled it, for books formerly were written in rolls of paper and parchment; and in this form, is the book of the law with the Jews, in their synagogues, to this day: “all books, they say f215 , are rolled from the beginning to the end of them, but the book of the law is rolled to the middle of it, and a pillar, or column, is made for it here and there; says R. Eliezer with R. Zadok, so the writers of books in Jerusalem made their books: the Rabbins teach, that they do not make the book of the law its length, more than its circumference, nor its circumference more than its length.”
Such a roll, or volume, of the prophet Isaiah, Christ unrolled, till he came to the place he intended to read: it is a rule with the Jews that “they do not unroll the book of the law in the congregation, because of the glory of the congregation.”
It may therefore be asked, whether Christ did not break this rule, since he unrolled the book that was given him, publicly in the synagogue? To which it may be replied, that it was lawful to unroll the book of the prophets, which was what Christ did, but not the law; for so runs another of their rules, f217 “they skip in the prophets, but not in the law, because, µybrb aybn ˆyllwgç , “that they unroll a prophet publicly”, but they do not unroll the law publicly.”
Christ having thus unrolled the volume of the prophet Isaiah, which was put into his hands by the “Chazan”, or minister, he found the place where it was written ; as is expressed in the following verse, and which is to be seen in ( Isaiah 61:1), and which was either the lesson of the day, or what Christ particularly sought for, and looked out; or was providentially directed to, as what was pertinent to himself, and proper to read and insist on at this time; for it was not by chance that he hit on this place, and read it, but it was according to purpose, and with design. Before the reading of the prophets, a blessing used to be said, which was in this form f218 ; “blessed art thou, O Lord our God, the king of the world, Who hath chosen the good prophets, and art well pleased with their words, which are said in truth; blessed art thou, O Lord, who hast chosen the law, Moses his servant, and Israel his people, and the prophets of truth and righteousness.”
Whether this was delivered by Christ, is not certain; however, he read the following passage.
Ver. 18. The Spirit of the Lord is upon me , etc.] By whom is meant, the third person in the Trinity; so called, to distinguish him from all other spirits; and who was given to Christ as man, without measure, whereby he was qualified for his great work: and intends the Spirit of Jehovah, with all his gifts and graces, who was, and abode on Christ, as a Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, of counsel and of might, of knowledge, and of the fear of the Lord; he was upon him, and in him, the first moment of his conception, which was by his power; and he visibly descended on him at his baptism; and the phrase denotes the permanency and continuance of him with him: because he hath anointed me ; or “that he might anoint me”: the Ethiopic version renders it, “by whom he hath anointed me”; for it was with the Holy Ghost he was anointed, as to be king and priest, so likewise to be a prophet: hence he has the name Messiah, which signifies anointed: and this unction he had, in order to preach the Gospel to the poor : in Isaiah it is, “to the meek”; which design the same persons, and mean such as are poor in spirit, and are sensible of their spiritual poverty; have low and humble thoughts of themselves, and of their own righteousness; and seek to Christ for durable riches and true righteousness, and frankly acknowledge that all they have and are, is owing to the grace of God: and generally speaking, these are the poor of this world, and poor in their intellectuals, who have but a small degree of natural wisdom and knowledge: to these the Gospel, or glad tidings of the love, grace, and mercy of God in Christ, of peace, pardon, righteousness, life and salvation by Christ, were preached by him; and that in so clear a manner, and with such power and authority, as never was before, or since; and for this purpose was he anointed with the oil of gladness above his fellows: he hath sent me to heal the broken hearted ; whose hearts are broken, and made contrite by the word of God, under the influence of the Spirit of God, and with a sense of sin; and are wounded with it, and are humbled for it; and are in great pain and distress, and even inconsolable, and ready to faint and die; for a wounded spirit who can bear? now Christ was sent to heal such persons by his own stripes, by binding up their wounds, by the application of his blood to them, which is a sovereign balm for every wound; by the discoveries of pardoning grace to their souls, and by opening and applying the comfortable promises of the Gospel, by his Spirit, to them: to preach deliverance to the captives ; who are captives to sin, Satan, and the law; from which, there is only deliverance by him; who saves his people from their sins, redeems them from the law, and leads captivity captive; and which liberty and deliverance are preached and published in the Gospel, and by Christ the author of them: and recovering of sight to the blind ; which in the prophet is, “and the opening of the prison to them that are bound”; and which the Septuagint render, as here in Luke, and the Chaldee paraphrase in part agrees with it, interpreting it thus, “to the prisoners”, rwhnl wlgta , “be ye revealed to the light” now because persons in prison are in darkness, and see no light, therefore they are represented as blind; and both are the case of sinners, they are in the prison of sin and of the law, and are blind, ignorant, and insensible of their state; until Christ both opens the prison, and sets them free, and opens their eyes, and gives them spiritual sight; when he says to the prisoners go forth, to them that are in darkness show yourselves, ( Isaiah 49:9) To set at liberty them that are bruised : these words are not in ( Isaiah 61:1) but in the Septuagint version of ( Isaiah 58:6) from whence they seem to be taken, or else from ( Isaiah 42:7) it being allowable for a reader in the prophets, to skip from place to place, which our Lord here did, in order to explain this passage more fully.
Ver. 19. To preach the acceptable year of the Lord .] The time which he willed and fixed for the redemption of his people, and in which he showed his goodwill and pleasure unto sinful men, in the gift of his Son to them, and for them; and which, as the Arabic and Syriac versions render it, was a time “acceptable to the Lord”: the sufferings of Christ were according to his will; his sacrifice was of a sweet smelling savour to him; his righteousness he was well pleased with; and the satisfaction and atonement for sin he made was a plenary and complete one: all Christ did, and suffered, were grateful to God, because hereby his perfections were glorified, his purposes, counsel, and covenant were accomplished, and his people saved. The Persic version renders it, “to preach the law acceptable to God”, neither agreeable to the original text, nor its sense; for Christ was sent to preach the Gospel, and not the law. In the Vulgate Latin, and Arabic versions is added, “and the day of vengeance”, out of the prophecy in ( Isaiah 61:2) but is not in any of the copies, or other versions. Our Lord did not read through all the three verses in the prophet, as it might be thought he would, and which was agreeable to the Jewish canon f219 : “he that reads in the law may not read less than three verses, and he may not read to an interpreter more than one verse, and in a prophet three; and if those three are three sections, they read everyone; they skip in a prophet, but they do not skip in the law.”
This last our Lord did, though he did not strictly attend to the former.
Indeed, their rule, as elsewhere given, obliged to read one and twenty verses; but this was not always observed; for “if on a sabbath day there was an interpreter, or a preacher, they read in a prophet three verses, or five, or seven, and were not solicitous about twenty and one f221 ” Ver. 20. And he closed the book , etc.] “Or rolled it up”; and so the high priest did, after he read in the book of the law, on the day of atonement, all that was necessary to be read, hrwt rps llwg , “he rolled the book of the law”, and put it in his bosom f222 : and he gave it again to the minister ; the Chazan f223 , who was the minister, or servant of the congregation, who had the affairs of it upon him, to let in, and bring out, and to order all things; and particularly to take care of the book of the law, and the chest, or ark in which it was. If the same rule was observed giving and taking the book of any prophet, as the book of the law; then Christ gave it to the minister, and he received it with his right hand: for so it is said f224 , “he that gives the book of the law to his friend, may not give it but with the right hand; and he that receives it may not receive it but with the right hand; for so was the giving of it on Mount Sinai, according to ( Deuteronomy 33:2).” And sat down ; as was the manner of the Jews, when they taught, or preached; (see Gill on “ Matthew 5:1”). and the eyes of all them that were in the synagogue were fastened on him : they looked very wistly at him, and were very attentive to what he should say, upon such a passage of Scripture, which they knew referred to the Messiah; and the rather, as they had known him formerly, and had heard that he was said to be the Messiah.
Ver. 21. And he began to say unto them , etc.] To preach from those words; the explanation of which he gave, though not here recorded, and applied them to himself, to whom they belonged, saying: this day is this Scripture fulfilled in your ears ; which is as if he should say, I am the person here spoken of; and at this present time the Spirit of God is upon me; I am anointed with the Holy Ghost, and now preach glad tidings to you, and all the good things here mentioned, and for the several ends proposed; and this Scripture has its full accomplishment which has been read unto you, and you have heard this day. So the Syriac version renders it, ˆwkyndabd , “which is in your ears”; that is, which you have now heard.
The Jews themselves acknowledge, that these words are spoken of the Messiah. One of their writers says, “these are the words of the prophet with respect to the Messiah; for the Messiah shall say so, “because the Lord hath anointed me”, etc.”
And so said the true Messiah Jesus. Another of them expresses himself thus f226 : “these are the words of the prophet with respect to the Messiah; for the Messiah shall say thus, “because the Lord hath anointed me”, etc. or they are the words of the prophet concerning himself.”
And elsewhere it is said by them f227 , “the holy, blessed God, will send his Messiah to us, and he shall be worthy of this, (i.e. the character of a meek person) as it is said, ( Isaiah 61:1) “he hath sent me to preach glad tidings to the meek.”” Ver. 22. And all bare him witness , etc.] That he was right in applying the words to the Messiah; but not that he himself was the Messiah, and that he was right in applying them to himself; for they did not believe in him, as appears from what follows and wondered at the gracious words which proceeded out of his mouth ; not so much at the matter, the sum, and substance of them, as expressive of the love, grace, and favour of God shown in the mission and unction of the Messiah, and in that liberty, deliverance, and salvation he was sent to effect and proclaim; as at the graceful manner in which he delivered himself, and the aptness of his words, the propriety of his diction, and the majesty, power, and authority, with which his expressions were clothed; and they were more amazed at all this, since they knew his parentage and education, and in what manner he had been brought up among them; and therefore it was astonishing to them, where he had his learning, knowledge, and wisdom: and they said, is not this Joseph's son? the carpenter, and who was brought up, by him, to his trade, and never learned letters; from whom had he this doctrine? of whom has he learned this way of address, and to speak with so much eloquence and propriety, since his education was mean, and he has never been at the feet of any of the doctors, or has been brought up in any of the academies and schools of learning?
Ver. 23. And he said unto them, ye will surely say unto me this proverb , etc.] Or “parable”; for any pithy sentence, or proverbial expression, was, by the Jews, called a parable: physician heal thyself ; and which was a proverb in use with the Jews; and which is sometimes expressed thus, Æçpn ysa lyz , “go heal thyself” f228 ; and sometimes in this form, Ætrgj ysa aysa , “physician, heal thy lameness” f229 : the meaning of which is, that a man ought to look at home, and take care of himself, and of those that belonged to him; and Christ was aware that his townsmen would object this to him, that if he was the person he was said to be, and could do the miracles and cures which were ascribed to him, he ought to do something of this kind at home, among them, who were his townsmen, neighbours, relations, and acquaintance; that is, heal their sick, lame, blind, leprous, deaf, and dumb: and that this is the sense of it, is manifest from what follows, whatsoever we have heard done in Capernaum : a place where Christ often was, and where he cured the centurion's servant of the palsy, and Peter's wife's mother of a fever, and another man sick of a palsy, and the woman of her bloody issue, and a man that had a withered hand, and where he raised Jairus's daughter from the dead: do also here in thy country ; or city, as the Syriac, Arabic, Persic, and Ethiopic versions render it: hence it appears, that this was not the first of our Lord's ministry; he had preached elsewhere, and wrought miracles before he came to Nazareth, and of which his townsmen had heard; and therefore were desirous that he would do the like among them, if he was able, for they seem to be very incredulous, and to question the reports of him, and his ability to perform such things; however, if he could, they thought they had as good a right to his favours and benefits, as any, this being his native place.
Ver. 24. And he said, verily I say unto you , etc.] Another proverb in use among them, the meaning of which was well known to them, and was very appropriate to the present case: no prophet is accepted in his own country; (See Gill on “ Matthew 13:57”) Ver. 25. But I tell you of a truth , etc.] Or in truth: it answers to tmab , a phrase often used by the Jewish writers f230 ; and, which, they say f231 , wherever, and of whatsoever it is spoken, it signifies a tradition of Moses from Mount Sinai, and so that which is most true, sure, and firm, and to be depended on; and such is what our Lord hereafter delivers; yea, the word, atwnmyh , “truth”, or “of a truth”, and which is the same as “in truth”, is used by the Jews f232 , as h[wbç ˆwçl , “the form of an oath”: so that these words of Christ are a strong asseveration, and amount to a solemn oath with respect to what follows: many widows were in Israel in the days of Elias ; or Elijah, the prophet; that is, there were many that were not only widows, but poor widows, and in very famishing circumstances in the land of Israel, when Elijah was the prophet of the Lord to that people: and when the heaven was shut up three years and six months ; so that no rain descended all that time: the same is observed by ( James 5:17) and though the space of time, in which there was no rain, is not so clear from the history of it in the book of Kings; yet, as this is fixed by Christ, and his apostle, and there is nothing in the history that contradicts it, it is to be received without scruple: when great famine was throughout all the land of Israel ; and which so long a drought must needs bring.
Ver. 26. But unto none of them was Elias sent , etc.] That is, to none of the poor widows in the land of Israel was the prophet sent, to supply them with food, and relieve them in their famishing circumstances, as might most reasonably have been expected: save unto Sarepta, a city of Sidon ; which in ( 1 Kings 17:10) is called “Zarephath”; and by the Septuagint there, “Sarepta of Sidon”, as here.
Pliny speaks of it by the same name, and reckons it to Sidon: unto a woman that was a widow : she is said by the Jews f234 , to be the mother of Jonah the prophet. Our Lord meant to observe, by this instance, as by the following, that God bestows his favours on persons in a sovereign way, and sometimes upon the most unlikely; as in a time of famine, he overlooked the poor widows in Israel, his peculiar people, and sent his prophet to a Gentile woman in one of the cities of Sidon; and therefore they should cease to wonder if he wrought his miracles in other places, and not in his own country; since this was agreeable to the divine procedure in other cases, especially since they were a cavilling and unbelieving people.
The Jews say f235 , that in all that generation there was not found any one that was worthy, as this woman.
Ver. 27. And many lepers were in Israel , etc.] The leprosy was a disease very common among the Jews; hence those laws concerning it in ( Leviticus 13:1-14:57) and it seems by this account, that it was very prevalent, in the time of Eliseus the prophet ; that is, the prophet Elisha; who, by the Septuagint, in 1 Kings 19:16 and, in other places, is called “Elisaie”: and none of them was cleansed; from their leprosy, by any direction of the prophet, saving Naaman, the Syrian: or but Naaman, who was not an Israelite, but a Syrian: he was cleansed and cured of his leprosy, being ordered by Elisha to dip himself seven times in Jordan, which he did, and was healed, ( Kings 5:14).
Ver. 28. And all they in the synagogue , etc.] The ruler and minister, and the whole multitude of the common people that were met together there for worship; and who before were amazed at his eloquence, and the gracefulness of his delivery; and could not but approve of his ministry, though they could not account for it, how he should come by his qualifications for it: when they heard these things ; these two instances of Elijah and Elisha, the one supplying the wants of a Sidonian woman, and the other healing a Syrian leper, when no notice were taken by them of poor widows and lepers in Israel: were filled with wrath ; for by these instances they perceived, that they were compared to the Israelites in the times of wicked Ahab and Jezebel; and that no miracles were to be wrought among them, or benefits conferred on them, though they were his townsmen; yea, that the Gentiles were preferred unto them: and indeed the calling of the Gentiles was here plainly intimated, which was always ungrateful and provoking to the Jews; and it was suggested, that the favours of God, and grace of the Messiah, are dispensed in a sovereign and discriminating way, than which nothing is more offensive to carnal minds.
Ver. 29. And rose up , etc.] In great wrath, and, in a noisy and tumultuous manner, before the service was well over, and without being regularly dismissed: and thrust him out of the city ; first out of the synagogue, and then out of their city, as unworthy to be in it, though an inhabitant of it; and as if he had done something deserving of death; and therefore to be punished as a malefactor without the city: and led him unto the brow of the hill ; the edge of it, where it run out, and hung over the precipice: whereon their city was built ; so that it was a city upon an hill, and very visible, to which Christ may allude in ( Matthew 5:14). That they might cast him down headlong; and break him to pieces: in this manner ten thousand Edomites were destroyed by the Jews, in the times of Amaziah, ( 2 Chronicles 25:12) though this was not an usual way with the Jews of putting persons to death, as with some other nations f236 ; their four capital punishments were stoning, strangling, burning, and killing with the sword f237 : nor did the inhabitants of Nazareth proceed in any judicial manner with Christ, but hurried him away, in order to destroy him, without any formal process, in the manner the zealots did; though to put any man to death, or to inflict any punishment on a person on the sabbath day, as this was, was contrary to their own canon, which runs thus f238 ; “they do not inflict punishment on the sabbath day, even though it is the punishment of an affirmative precept; they do not beat one that is guilty, nor put to death, as it is said, ( Exodus 35:3) “ye shall kindle no fire throughout your habitations upon the sabbath day”: this is a caution to the sanhedrim, that they do not burn on the sabbath day he that is condemned to burning; and this is the law with respect to any one that is liable to the other punishments.”
But these men, without any regard to the place where they were, and the worship they were concerned in, and the day of the sabbath which then was, rise up in great wrath and fury, and without any show of justice, and in the most brutish and barbarous manner attempt to take away the life of Christ.
Ver. 30. But he passing through the midst of them , etc.] Either in so strong and powerful a manner, and with so much swiftness, that being once out of their hands, they could not lay hold on him again; or else he put on another form, or made himself invisible to them; or he held their eyes that they could not see him, or know him, as in ( Luke 24:16) however it was, he made use of, and showed his divine power; and which he did, because his time to die was not yet come, nor was he to die such a death: and this also shows, that when he did die, he laid down his life freely and voluntarily, since he could then have exerted his power, and delivered himself out of the hands of his enemies, as now: and went his way ; from Nazareth elsewhere; nor do we read of his returning there any more.
Ver. 31. And came down to Capernaum , etc.] Which was, as Dr. Lightfoot thinks, sixteen miles or more from Nazareth; and Christ may be said to “come down” to it, because of the situation of Nazareth, which was upon an hill: a city of Galilee : of lower Galilee, near the sea of Galilee: and taught them on the sabbath days : that is, he went into the synagogue at Capernaum, on the sabbath days, whenever he was there, and taught the inhabitants, explained some passage or other in the Old Testament, as he had done at Nazareth and instructed them in the doctrines of the Gospel.
Ver. 32. And they were astonished at his doctrine , etc.] At the matter of it, as well as the manner in which it was delivered, it being so different from the Scribes and Pharisees, they had been used to: for his word was with power : he spake with great fervency, majesty, and authority, and not with coldness and indifference, and dependence on the sense and authority of others, as their teachers did; and besides, such power went along with the word, that it reached their hearts; and as the Persic version renders it, “he penetrated them with it”; and he also confirmed it by powerful operations, by miraculous works, such as casting out devils, and healing diseases, of which an account follows.
Ver. 33. And in the synagogue there was a man , etc.] That is, in the synagogue at Capernaum, as Christ was there teaching, on one of the sabbath days before mentioned; there was a certain man, which had a spirit of an unclean devil : who was possessed with the devil, who is by nature and practice unclean; and was filled with the spirit of the devil, with a spirit of divination, and was acted by him, to impose upon the people; he influenced his mind as an enthusiast, as well as possessed his body: and this was on the sabbath day; whereas the Jews say f239 , that “Satan and the evil demon flee on the sabbath day to the mountains of darkness, and do not appear all the sabbath day, because that day is holy, and they are “unclean”; but in the evening of the sabbath they prepare themselves, and meet the children of men, and hurt them.” And cried out with a loud voice ; (See Gill on “ Mark 1:23”).
Ver. 35. And Jesus rebuked him , etc.] Not the man, but the unclean spirit: or “that demon”, as the Persic version reads it: saying, hold thy peace , or “be thou muzzled”, as the word signifies, and come out of him ; (See Gill on “ Matthew 1:25”). and when the devil had thrown him in the midst ; in the “midst of them”, as the Arabic version adds; that is, in the midst of the people that were in the synagogue; or, as the Ethiopic version reads, “in the midst of the synagogue”, where he threw him into convulsive fits, and left him: he came out of him, and hurt him not ; though he sadly convulsed him, and put him to great pain, yet he did not wound him in any part of his body, or take away the use of any of his limbs; and much less hurt his soul so as to destroy it; all which was desired and intended by him, but was hindered by Christ; (See Gill on “ Mark 1:26”).
Ver. 36. And they were all amazed , etc.] The people in the synagogue; they were astonished at his doctrine before, and now at his miracles: and spake among themselves ; as they were in the synagogue, what a word is this? meaning, either what sort of doctrine is this which is attended with such power and miracles; or what a word of command is this, “hold thy peace, and come out of him?” and so the Ethiopic version renders it, “what is this mandatory”, or “commanding word?” to which agrees the Syriac version, rendering it with the following clause thus; “what is this word”, that “with authority and power it commands the unclean spirits, and they come out?” (See Gill on “ Mark 1:27”).
Ver. 37. And the fame of him went out , etc.] From hence on account of his dispossessing this unclean spirit, which seems to be the first instance of this kind: into every place in the country round about ; into every city, town, and village in Galilee, and even into all places round about Galilee; ( Mark 1:28).
Ver. 38. And he arose out of the synagogue , etc.] That is, when he had dispossessed the unclean spirit, he rose up, and went out of the synagogue: and entered into Simon's house ; the house of Simon Peter, and which was also Andrew's; and in Beza's ancient copy, and in one of Stephens's, it is added, “and of Andrew”; who, though they were both natives of Bethsaida, yet, it seems, had an house at Capernaum, whither Christ went of his own accord, or by an invitation given him: and Simons wife's mother was taken with a great fever . The Vulgate Latin version reads, “with great fevers”. The fever is “a disease, or rather a class of diseases, whose characteristic is a preternatural heat felt through the whole body, or, at least, the principal parts thereof, attended with other symptoms — — “One” defines a fever, a strenuous endeavour, or effort of nature to throw off some morbific matter, that greatly incommodes the body. — — “Another”, an augmented velocity of the blood; others, a fermentation of the blood; accompanied with a quick pulse and excessive heat. — — The causes of fevers are innumerable, and the disease even often arises in the soundest bodies, where there was no previous morbific apparatus, as cachochymia, plethora, etc. but merely from a change of air, food, or other alteration in the nonnaturals.
A fever, “one” observes, is an inseparable companion of an inflammation. The symptoms are many: every fever, arising from any internal cause, is attended with a quick pulse, and unusual heat at different times, and in different degrees. Where these are intense, the fever is acute, where remiss, slow. The disease begins almost always with a sense of; chillness, and in its progress is chiefly distinguished by the velocity of the pulse: so that a too quick contraction of the heart, with an increased resistance, or impulse against the capillaries, furnishes the proper idea of a fever f240 .”
The fever Peter's wife's mother lay ill of, is said to be a “great one”; which circumstance is the rather mentioned, to illustrate the miraculous cure of it by Christ; (See Gill on “ Matthew 8:14”). And they besought him for her ; either his disciples Peter, Andrew, James, and John, who were all present, or the other relations and friends of the sick person, which were in the house; who having heard of his casting out the unclean spirit in the synagogue, believed that he had power to heal this disease; and therefore intreat him, for her sake, and upon her account, that he would restore her health.
Ver. 39. And he stood over her , etc.] “At her head”, as the Persic version reads: he inclined himself towards her, to see how she did, and to take her by the hand, and lift her up; and rebuked the fever . The Syriac and Persic versions read, “her fever”, that which was upon her; and it left her , as Mark says, “immediately”; as soon as ever he had touched her hand, and rebuked the fever, and bid it be gone: and immediately she arose, and ministered unto them ; (See Gill on “ Matthew 8:15”).
Ver. 40. Now when the sun was setting , etc.] And so the sabbath was over; (See Gill on “ Matthew 8:16”). all they that had any sick, with divers diseases, brought them unto him ; that is, as many of the inhabitants of Capernaum as had sick persons in their houses, let their diseases be what they would, brought them to Christ in Simon's house; which, sabbath being over, they might do consistent with their laws, and the traditions of the elders, and without any just offence to the Scribes and Pharisees, who were tenacious of them; and they were encouraged to do so, partly through the dispossessing the unclean spirit in their synagogue that day, which many of them had been witnesses of; and partly through the cure of Peter's wife's mother, which they had heard of: and he laid his hands on every one of them, and healed them ; without the use of medicine, by the mere imposition of his hands; which was accompanied with such power and virtue from him, as to remove, at once, every disease; nor did he refuse any person, how unworthy soever they might be in themselves, and how obstinate their disease might be.
Ver. 41. And devils also came out of many , etc.] Not willingly, nor of themselves, but at the word and command of Christ, who ordered them to depart, crying out and saying ; as they left the bodies, of men, and not with any goodwill to Christ: thou art Christ ; the true Messiah, that was of old promised and prophesied of, and has been long expected to come: the Son of God; the only begotten Son of God, possessed of the same perfections with God his Father; and particularly of almighty power, of which they were convinced by his dispossessing them; and he rebuking them, suffered them not to speak ; for he needed not their testimony, nor did he choose to be made known by them: for they knew that he was Christ , or “that they knew that he was Christ”; so the Syriac version: they certainly did know that he was the Messiah, partly by the voice from heaven at his baptism, and partly by his power over them: but Christ would not suffer them to say that he was the Messiah, or that they knew him to be so; either because the time was not come for such a declaration to be made, or they were not the proper persons to make it; and lest such a publication, by them, should be made a handle of by the Scribes and Pharisees, to say that he had society with devils, and by them cast them out.
Ver. 42. And when it was day , etc.] The “day after”, as the Persic version renders it; at the dawning , or “break of day”, as the Syriac. He rose a great while before it was day, as Mark says, ( Mark 1:35) but did not go out till it was day, or till day was coming on, when he departed from Peter's house, and from Capernaum: and went into a desert place ; for the sake of solitude, that he might be retired from company, and have an opportunity of privately praying to God: and the people sought, and came unto him: they first went to Simon's house, and not finding him there, sought for him elsewhere: and when they understood where he was, they came to him, and stayed him that he should not depart from them ; they laid hold on him, and held him, and did all they could to persuade him, to abide with them constantly, and not think of removing from them: though perhaps this was not so much from love to Christ's person and presence, or any regard to his ministry, and the good and welfare of their immortal souls, as on account of the miracles he wrought, and the corporal benefits he bestowed on them.
Ver. 43. And he said unto them , etc.] In answer to their importunate requests: I must preach the kingdom of God to other cities also ; as well as to Capernaum; and though they did not express their desire of his continuance with them, in order to preach the Gospel to them; yet Christ signifies, that a principal part of his work lay in preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God, the Gospel dispensation on earth, the doctrines and ordinances of it, as well as the things which relate to the kingdom of glory; as what is the saints meetness for it, their regeneration, and their right unto it, which lies in his righteousness: and that as he had preached these things at Capernaum, there was a necessity upon him to preach them in other cities of Galilee and Judea: for therefore am I sent; as he was by his heavenly Father, and had himself also undertook and engaged to do it.
Ver. 44. And he preached in the synagogues of Galilee .] In the several synagogues that were in different cities and towns throughout all Galilee.