14 That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet, saying,

15 The land of Zabulon and the land of Nephthalim, by the way of the sea, beyond Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles; 16 The people which sat in

darkness saw great light and to them which sat in the region and shadow of death, light is

sprung up.

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

tiles. Galilee, or at least a part of it, received the epithet here employed, because it bordered on territories inhabited by people who were not Jews. The designation was still more appropriate in later times; for the more northern parts of Galilee became settled by a very mixed population. In the time of our Saviour, Galilee was divided into two parts; namely, upper, or northern, and lower, or southern.

16. Sat in darkness; were destitute of religious knowledge and true happiness. || Saw great light; received advantages for acquiring religious knowledge and bliss. The Saviour was "the light of the world." Any

14. That it might be fulfilled, &c. Jesus' going to Galilee, and making Capernaum, a noted town in Galilee, the principal place of his residence, was in accordance with the prophetic language of Isaiah. The prophet (Is. 9: 1, 2) had foretold, that the region occupied by the tribes of Zebulun and Naphtali should be reduced to a degraded state. This is the idea expressed by the term rendered lightly afflicted, in Isaiah. The prediction was fulfilled by the Assyrian kings, who conquered and depopulated that part of the country and the other parts occupied by the ten tribes. Thus that region was humbled, or made despicable. The prophet then proceeds to state, that in after times God would honor that re-region to which he should come, as the gion, or render it greatly distinguished. This, according to the ablest critical writers, is the thought expressed by the Hebrew word in Isaiah, which our translators have rendered did more grievously afflict. Now this latter part of the prediction had reference to the changes which would be effected in consequence of the Messiah's coming. By his appearing and establishing his righteous cause, that land would be greatly honored. Our Lord's going into that region, and making it the principal scene of his labors, naturally recalled to mind this prophecy, as then receiving a part of its fulfilment.

15. By the way of the sea; the region along the sea of Galilee. Beyond Jordan; another geographical term, meaning the country on the other side, that is, on the eastern side, of the Jordan. || Galilee of the Gentiles. In Is. 9: 1, we read, Galilee of the nations. The Jews distinguished other people from themselves by calling them the nations, or Gen

teacher and redeemer of men, might indeed be considered as highly favored, for it would enjoy light from heaven. || Region and shadow of death. These words express, though in a stronger manner, the same ideas as are expressed by the word darkness, in the former part of the verse. Shadow of death is equivalent to deathshade, or deathlike shade; darkness like that of death, utter destitution of moral and religious good.

ilege of living where the light of the NOTICE, 1. How great is the priv gospel shines! Compare our privileges

with the moral condition of heathen nations.

2. How cheering is the thought that the gospel, the lamp of life, is to shine over all the regions of moral night on earth!

[blocks in formation]

18 And Jesus, walking by the | Zebedee their father, mendsea of Galilee, saw two brethren, | ing their nets; and he called Simon called Peter, and Andrew them. his brother, casting a net into the sea for they were fishers.

19 And he saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.

20 And they straightway left their nets, and followed him.

21 And going on from thence, he saw other two brethren, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in a ship with

18. Sea of Galilce; called also the sea of Tiberias (John 6:1. 21: 1); the lake of Gennesaret (Luke 5: 1); and, in the Old Testament, the sea of Chinnereth (Num. 34: 11). This lake, or inland sea, is between twelve and sixteen miles long, and five broad. Its waters are pure and sweet, and it abounds in fish. It is situated in a very pleasant region, from the hills of which many rivulets descend.

19. Fishers of men; a sufficiently clear intimation, that he designed to employ them in promoting his cause.

22. The ship; a small fishing vessel. Followed him. At this time, probably, the disciples mentioned in the 18th and 21st verses, abandoned their occupation, as a stated pursuit, and became constant attendants on Jesus. At an earlier period (see John 1: 40, &c.), Andrew, Simon Peter, and Philip, seem to have been, in a peculiar manner, attached to Jesus. But, probably, the invitation, or command, given at that more early period, was designed only to secure their attendance for a short time; and they returned to their employment for a subsistence. At the time of which Matthew here speaks, the persons named were more specially called by the Saviour to be his constant attendants.

The account here given by Matthew corresponds to the account given by Mark (1: 16-20), and by Luke (5:1

22 And they immediately left the ship and their father, and followed him.

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.

24 And his fame went throughout all Syria; and they

1-11). Luke gives a more particular statement than the other writers. By comparing the several accounts, it would seem that Jesus went on board of Simon's boat, and from that taught the people. He then directed that the boat should be put off into the sea for fishing. After taking a remarkable draught of fishes, Simon and Andrew were called from their employment, to follow Jesus. Shortly after this, as Jesus was walking along the shore, he saw James and John in their father's boat, and in a similar manner called them.

23. Synagogues; Jewish houses of worship. The temple was in Jerusalem; but, for the convenience of the people, smaller houses were erected for worship in various places. || Gospel of the kingdom. The word translated gospel properly means glad tidings, joyful announcement. Preaching the gospel here means announcing the glad tidings. The kingdom here means the reign of God, or of heaven a term signifying the Messiah's administration. See on 3: 2. The whole phrase, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, means, announcing the joy ful news of the reign of God, that is, of the Messiah's having come. INTRODUCTORY EXPLANATIONS, I., On the meaning of the word Gospel, page xiii. of this volume.


24. Syria; the country north and

brought unto him all sick peo- | great multitudes of people from ple that were taken with divers Galilee, and from Decapolis, diseases and torments, and and from Jerusalem, and from those which were possessed Judea, and from beyond Jorwith devils, and those which dan. were lunatic, and those that had


the palsy ; and he healed them. AND seeing the multitudes,

25 And there followed him

north-east of Palestine. || Possessed with devils. The word demons, that is, evil spirits, would be more suitable than the word devi's. The New Testament, in the original, makes a distinction between the Devil, who is the chief of the fallen spirits (Matt. 12: 24. 25: 41), and demons, or evil spirits, who are subject to him. It is the demons who are represented as entering into persons and possessing them. Lunatic; persons afflicted with epilepsy, or with derangement, whose disorder was supposed to increase in strength with the increase of the moon. Palsy. Under the general name of palsy, many infirmities were comprehended. 1. The apoplexy, a paralytic shock which affected the whole body. 2. The hemiplegy, which paralyzed only one side of the body. 3. The paraplegy, which paralyzed all the parts below the neck. 4. The catalepsy, a contraction of the muscles in the whole, or in a part, of the body. If a person's hand, for instance, when struck with it, was extended, he was unable to draw it back; if not extended, when struck with it, he was unable to extend it. It became diminished and dried up. 5. The cramp. The limbs, when seized with the cramp, remained immovable, sometimes turned in, and sometimes out, in the same position as when they were first seized.

25. The names of places mentioned in this verse have already been noticed, and the places may be seen on the Map, with the exception of Decapolis. This word is commonly explained as signifying a district containing ten cities (the word deka in the Greek language meaning ten, and polis, a city). In the enumeration of these cities, writers

he went up into a moun

are not agreed ; and the accounts given of the name are not satisfactory. The cities commonly named did not lie in the same region of country, but were considerably distant from each other. Josephus, the Jewish historian, mentions Scythopolis as one of them, a city which was on the west side of the Jordan; the other cities were on the east. Decapolis may be regarded as a region beyond, that is, east of, the Jordan, embracing several cities; and these cities were inhabited principally by people who were not Jews.

OBSERVE, 1. A worthy example of prompt obedience to Jesus. vs. 20,

2. The devotion of Jesus to his official work. v. 23. Compare also John 4:34.

3. The benevolence of Jesus. v. 24. Compare Acts 10: 38.

It is also a painful reflection, and one which ought to excite us to selfexamination, that, while multitudes were attracted to Jesus (v. 25), very few, comparatively, became "disciples indeed." John 8: 31.


In this chapter and the two following ones, Matthew has recorded what is called the sermon on the mount. Luke has also presented (6 : 20—49) the same discourse substantially, though in a smaller compass. The company to which it was delivered, and the event related as occurring just after, lead to the conclusion, that both Matthew and Luke record the same discourse. Compare Matt. 4: 24, 25, and 5:1, with Luke 6: 17; and Matt. 8: 5-13, with Luke 7: 1-10. There is an apparent disagreement between the two evange.

[blocks in formation]

spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

4 Blessed are they that mourn for they shall be comforted.

warning on various points; and all needed better and more enlarged views of the nature of true religion, | and of the design of the Messiah.

1. The multitudes; the people spoken of in 4:25. || A mountain; the mountain on which he had spent the preceding night in prayer. See Luke 6: 12. It was probably some elevation in the neighborhood of Capernaum; for he entered Capernaum soon after finishing the discourse. See Matt. 8:5. Luke 7: 1. || When he was set; having taken a seat. Such was the custom in teaching among the Jews. Compare Luke 4: 20.

lists; namely, Matthew speaks of Jesus going up the mountain so as to address the people; but Luke says, that Jesus, having spent a night in prayer on a mountain (6: 12), came down and stood in the plain (6: 17), and, without mentioning any change of place, proceeds to speak of his addressing the company. This disagreement, however, is only apparent, and can be easily reconciled. Luke says, that Jesus retired to a mountain, and spent the night in prayer; that he came down in the morning, and exercised his healing power on the many sick that were among the multitude (6: 17-19); and Matthew mentions the additional circumstance, that Jesus again repaired 3. Blessed; truly happy. The obto a suitable spot on the mountain.ject of our Saviour in these introducLuke says nothing in opposition to this; he only omits to mention it.

tory verses was, to correct the prevailing erroneous notions respecting By further comparing Matthew with true happiness, and to show in what Luke, it would appear, that, a short time it really consists. The poor in before addressing the multitude, Jesus spirit; those whose temper of mind formally selected his apostles. Some corresponds to a condition destitute he appears to have selected previously of worldly advantages; those who are (Matt. 4: 18-22); he now completed lowly, conscious of ignorance and unthe number of twelve. Matthew gives worthiness; that is, the humble in no intimation of the time when the mind. Such are truly happy in conwhole number of the twelve was filled trast with the proud, the great, those up. He barely mentions the names of who are aspiring after the honors of the apostles on another occasion, when this world. || Kingdom of heaven; he was about to give an account of the the Messiah's reign, commenced on instructions which they received pre-earth, and consummated in the world viously to being sent forth as the Messiah's heralds. Matt. 10: 2-4.

By bearing in mind the circumstance, that Jesus had before him his twelve apostles, selected for his special service, and a multitude of other persons, some of whom, doubtless, were gladly receiving instruction, and others were drawn by curiosity and by desire that their sick friends might be cured, we shall see how appropriate was his discourse in all its parts. The apostles, in view of their work, needed cautions and encouragement; many of the multitude needed

of glory. To the lowly in mind, not to the proud and aspiring, belong the blessings of the Messiah's administration, both in this life and in the life to come. See on 3: 2.

4. They that mourn. The word here used in the original is applicable to persons in sorrowful circumstances, in affliction. The idea is, truly happy are persons in adversity, rather than the prosperous. Comforted. The tendency of afflictions is, to lead men to the proper source of abiding consolation. Many, when they are afflicted, do not obtain true consolation;

5 Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.

7 Blessed are the merciful for they shall obtain mercy. 8 Blessed are the pure in for they shall

6 Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after right-heart: eousness for they shall be filled. God.

still, a state of affliction is more favorable for obtaining everlasting bliss, than a state of prosperity. In the general idea of affliction, mourning for sin may be included; and the call to repentance had been so distinctly made on previous occasions, that the Saviour's hearers could be in no uncertainty respecting its necessity. His object, however, on the present occasion, seems to have been not so much to show the need of repentance, as to unfold some other great principles of his religion, and to show wherein man's true happiness consists. The Jews had associated great worldly honor and happiness with the coming of the Messiah; Jesus wished to draw away their minds from such expectations, to lead them to spiritual views, and to a suitable indifference as to the honors and prosperity of this world, and thus to correct their false notions of bliss and of the Messiah's reign.

5. The meek; the gentle, the kind, the forgiving. Truly happy will such be esteemed, when contrasted with the angry, the harsh, and the unrelenting. Compare Luke 9: 51–56. || They shall inherit the earth; more properly, the land. This expression appears to have been a proverbial one among the Jews, indicative of consummate bliss. Compare Ps. 37: 9, 11, 22, 29. Its origin was this: God had promised to Abraham that his posterity should eventually possess the land in which he was sojourning Gen. 13: 14—17. 15: 18. 17: 8. Acts 7: 5. This promise was repeated to Isaac (Gen. 26: 3, 4), and to Jacob (Gen. 28: 13, 14). Thus it came to be the object of desire and expectation to their descendants, and they regarded the possession of the promised land as combining every good thing, and as a pledge of the divine faithfulness and of prosperity. The expression was used, as we see in the 37th Psalm, after the people

[ocr errors]


had become settled in the land, and in v. 11th, appears to be of the same import as the expression, delighting themselves in the abundance of peace, or prosperity. The idea, then, expressed by our Saviour is, Truly happy are the meek; for they shall enjoy special tokens of divine regard. It is well to NOTICE here, that one of the most interesting and affecting representations which the Saviour makes of himself is, "I am meek and lowly in heart." Matt. 11: 29.

6. Hunger and thirst; earnestly desire, as a man hungry and thirsty desires food and drink. || Righteousness; holiness, uprightness in the most extensive sense, in heart and life, towards God and towards man. || Filled; satisfied. As a hungry man derives satisfaction from food, so they shall obtain satisfaction by receiving the object of their desires.

7. The merciful; the compassionate; those who are inclined to pity, and are considerate of others' wants and welfare; not overbearing, nor heedless of others' interests: such a man as is described in Ps. 112: 4,5, 9. Compare Luke 10: 30-37. || They shall obtain mercy. Compare Ps. 41: 1-3. Both God and man will show them favor. A uniformly merciful disposition, manifested in the ordinary concerns of life as well as on signal occasions, in private as well as in public, to inferiors and to the neglected as well as to others, cannot but be acceptable to reflecting men and to God. A man well known to be merciful seldom meets with insult and neglect.

8. The pure in heart; the sincerely upright and pious, whose hearts correspond to their outward profession of love to God; of whose hearts Omniscience can approve, as men approve of their lives: such men as was Nathanael. John 1: 47. || They shall see God; they shall enjoy the special fa

« VorigeDoorgaan »