Mark 1
Calvin's Commentaries
The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God;

Matthew 3:1-6

Mark 1:1-6

Luke 3:1-6

1. Now in those days John the Baptist comes, preaching in the wilderness of Judea, 2. And saying, Repent: [243] for the kingdom of heaven is at hand, 3. For this is he, of whom it has been spoken by Isaiah the prophet, who says, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. 4. And the same John had his raiment of camel's hair, and a leathern girdle about his loins; and his meat was locusts and wild honey. 5. Then went out to him Jerusalem, and all Judea, and all the region round about Jordan. 6. And were baptized in Jordan by him, confessing their sins.

1. The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God; 2. As it is written in the prophets, Lo, I send my messenger before thy face, who shall prepare thy way before thee. 3. The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. 4. John was baptizing in the wilderness, preaching the baptism of repentance, for the forgiveness of sins. 5. And all the country of Judea, and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, went out to him, and were all baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. 6. And John was clothed with camel's hair, and with a leathern girdle about his loins, and he ate locusts and wild honey.

1. And in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Cesar, when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, and Herod was tetrarch of Galilee, and his brother Philip was tetrarch of the country of Iturea and Trachonitis, and Lysanias was tetrarch of Abilene, 2. While Annas and Caiaphas were high priests, the word of the Lord came to John, the son of Zacharias, in the wilderness. 3. And he came into all the country surrounding Jordan, preaching the baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. 4. As it is written in the book of the words of the prophet Isaiah, saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. 5. Every valley shall be filled up, and every mountain and hill shall be laid low, and those things which are crooked shall become straight, and those which are rough shall become plain ways. 6. And all flesh shall see the salvation of God.

Mark 1:1. The beginning of the Gospel. Though what we have hitherto taken out of Matthew and Luke is a part of the Gospel, yet it is not without reason that Mark makes the beginning of the Gospel to be the preaching of John the Baptist. For the Law and the Prophets then came to an end, (John 1:17.) "The Law and the Prophets were until John: since that time the kingdom of God is preached," (Luke 16:16.) And with this agrees most fully the quotation which he makes from the Prophet Malachi, (3:1.) In order to inflame the minds of his people with a stronger desire of the promised salvation, the Lord had determined to leave them, for a time, without new prophecies. We know that the last of the true and lawful prophets was Malachi.

That the Jews, in the meantime, may not faint with hunger, he exhorts them to continue under the Law of Moses, until the promised redemption appear. He mentions the law only, (John 1:17,) because the doctrine of the Prophets was not separate from the law, but was merely an appendage and fuller exposition of it, that the form of government in the Church might depend entirely on the Law. It is no new or uncommon thing in Scripture, to include the Prophets under the name of the Law: for they were all related to it as their fountain or design. The Gospel was not an inferior appendage to the Law, but a new form of instruction, by which the former was set aside.

Malachi, distinguishing the two conditions of the Church, places the one under the Law, and commences the other with the preaching of John. He unquestionably describes the Baptist, when he says, "Behold, I send my messenger," (Malachi 3:1:) for, as we have already said, that passage lays down an express distinction between the Law and the new order and condition of the Church. With the same view he had said a little before, (which is quoted by Mark, [9:13;] for the passages are quite similar,) "Behold, I send you Elijah the Prophet, before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord," (Malachi 4:5.) Again,

"Behold, I send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me: and the Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple," (Malachi 3:1.)

In both passages, the Lord promises a better condition of his Church than had existed under the Law, and this unquestionably points out the beginning of the Gospel But before the Lord came to restore the Church, a forerunner or herald was to come, and announce that he was at hand. Hence we infer, that the abrogation of the Law, and the beginning of the Gospel, strictly speaking, took place when John began to preach.

The Evangelist John presents to us Christ clothed in flesh, "the Word made flesh," (John 1:14;) so that his birth and the whole history of his appearance are included in the Gospel. But here Mark inquires, when the Gospel began to be published, and, therefore, properly begins with John, who was its first minister. And with this view the Heavenly Father chose that the life of his Son should be buried, as it were, in silence, until the time of the full revelation arrived. For it did not happen without the undoubted Providence of God, that the Evangelists leave out the whole period which Christ spent in private, and pass at once from his earliest infancy to his thirtieth year, when he was openly exhibited to the world, invested with his public character as a Redeemer; Luke excepted, who slightly touches one indication of his future calling, which occurred about his twelfth year, (Luke 2:42.)

It had a very close connection with this object, that we should be informed, first, that Christ is a true man, (John 1:14,) and next, that he is "the Son of Abraham and of David," (Matthew 1:1;) as to both of which, the Lord has been pleased to give us an attestation. The other matters which we have examined, relating to "the shepherds," (Luke 2:8,) the "Magi," (Matthew 2:1,) and "Simeon," (Luke 2:25,) were intended to prove his Divinity. What Luke relates about John and his father Zacharias, (Luke 1:5,) was a sort of preparation for the Gospel.

There is no impropriety in the change of the person which is here made, in quoting the words of Malachi. According to the prophet, God says, I send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way Before Me. Mark introduces God as addressing the Son, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, who shall prepare thy way Before Thee. But we see that Mark had no other intention, than to express more clearly the prophet's meaning. Mark designates Christ the Son of God The other Evangelists testify that he was born of the seed of Abraham and David, and therefore was the Son of man, (Matthew 8:20.) But Mark shows us, that no redemption is to be expected but from the Son of God

Matthew 3:1 Now in those days Luke 3:1. And in the fifteenth year It could not be gathered from Matthew and Mark in what year of his age John began to preach: but Luke shows sufficiently, that he was about thirty years of age. The ancient writers of the Church are almost unanimously agreed, that he was born fifteen years before the death of Augustus. His successor Tiberius had held the government of the Roman Empire for fifteen years, when the same John began to preach. In this way are made up the thirty years which I have mentioned. Hence it follows, that he did not long discharge the office of teacher, but, in a short time, gave way to Christ; for we shall soon find, that Christ also was baptized in the thirtieth year of his age, when he was immediately installed into the discharge of his public office. Now as John, the morning-star, or dawn, was immediately followed by Christ, "the Sun of Righteousness," (Malachi 4:2,) there is no reason to wonder, that John disappeared, in order that Christ might shine alone in greater brightness.

Luke 3:1. When Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea It is probable that this was the second year of Pilate's government: for since Tiberius had held the reins of government, he had, as Josephus informs us, (xviii. 2:2,) appointed Valerius Gratus to be governor of Judea, in room of Annius Rufus. This change might take place in his second year. The same Josephus writes, that Valerius was governor of Judea for "eleven years, when Pontius Pilate came as his successor," (Ant. 18:2:2.) Pilate, therefore, had governed the province for two years, when John began to preach the Gospel. This Herod, whom Luke makes tetrarch of Judea, was the second heir of Herod the Great, and succeeded to his father by will. Archelaus had received the ethnarchy of Judea, but, when he was banished to Vienna (Jos. Wars, 2, vii. 3) by Augustus, that portion fell into the hands of the Romans. Luke mentions here two sons of Herod, -- Herod Antipas, who had been made tetrarch of Galilee, and governed Samaria and Peraea, -- and Philip, who was tetrarch of Trachonitis and Iturea, and reigned from the sea of Tiberias, or Gennesareth, to the foot of Lebanon, which is the source of the river Jordan.

Lysanias has been falsely supposed to be the son of Ptolemy Mennaeus, King of Chalcis, who had been long before put to death by Cleopatra, about thirty years before the birth of Christ, as Josephus relates, (Ant. 15:4:1.) He could hardly even be the grandson of Ptolemy, who, as the same Josephus records, kindled the Parthian war, (Wars, 1, xiii. 1;) for then he must have been more than sixty years of age at the time of which Luke speaks. Besides, as it was under Antigonus that the Parthian war commenced, he must even then have been a full-grown man. Now Ptolemy Mennaeus died not long after the murder of Julius Caesar, during the triumvirate of Lepidus, Antony, and Octavius, (Jos. Wars, 1, xiii. 1.) But as this grandson of Ptolemy bore the name of Lysanias as well as his father, he might have left a son who had the same surname. Meanwhile, there can be no hesitation in rejecting the error of those who make Lysanias to live sixty years after he had been slain by Cleopatra.

The word Tetrarch is here used in a sense not quite accurate, as if the whole country had been divided into four parts. But as at first there was a fourfold division into districts, so afterwards, when other changes took place, the names Tetrarch and Tetrarchies were retained by way of honor. In this sense Pliny enumerates seventeen tetrarchies of one country.

Luke 3:2. Annas and Caiaphas being the high priests It is certain, that there never were two persons who held the office of high priest at the same time. Josephus states, that Valerius Gratus made Caiaphas high priest, a short time before he left the government. During the time that Pilate was governor of Judea, Josephus does not speak of him as having made any change in this respect; [244] but, on the contrary, states that, when Pilate had been recalled from the government, and sent to plead his cause at Rome, Vitellius, who was at that time governor of Syria, reduced Caiaphas to a private rank, and transferred the high priesthood to Jonathan, the son of Ananus, (Ant. 18:4:3.) When Luke says that there were two high priests, we must not understand him to mean, that both held the same title, but that the honor of the priesthood was partly shared with him by Annas his father-in-law. Luke's narrative indicates such a state of trouble and confusion, that, though there was not more than one person who was actually high priest, the sacred office was torn in pieces by ambition and tyranny.

The word of the Lord came upon John Before relating, as the other Evangelists do, that John began to exercise his office of teaching, Luke asserts that he was divinely called to that office: and he does so, in order to assure us, that the ministry of John carried undoubted authority. Why the interpreters have chosen to translate the word, epi 'Ioannen, UPON John, instead of TO John, I do not see: but because there is no ambiguity as to the meaning, that this commission was entrusted to him, and that he received a command to preach, I have followed the received version. Hence infer, that there are no regular teachers, but those on whom God has conferred the office; and that it is not enough to have the word of God, if there be not likewise a special calling.

Matthew and Mark do not speak of the preaching of John as extending beyond the wilderness, while Luke says, that he came into all the country around Jordan These statements may be reconciled by observing, that John discharged the office of teaching among the neighbors, with whom he dwelt; but that his Gospel spread more widely, and became known in many places, so that the report of it, in a short time, reached Jerusalem. Indeed, the whole of that tract of the Jordan might be called a wilderness: for the word does not mean "a solitude," but "a rough, and mountainous, and thinly inhabited district."

Matthew 3:2. Repent ye Matthew differs from the other two Evangelists in this respect, that he relates the substance of John's doctrine, as uttered by John himself, while they relate it in their own words; though Mark has one word more than Luke: for he says, he came Baptizing, and preaching the baptism of repentance But in substance there is the most perfect agreement: for they all connect repentance with the forgiveness of sins. The kingdom of God among men is nothing else than a restoration to a happy life; or, in other words, it is true and everlasting happiness. When John says, that the kingdom of God is at hand, his meaning is, that men, who were alienated from the righteousness of God, and banished from the kingdom of heaven, must be again gathered to God, and live under his guidance. This is accomplished by a free adoption and the forgiveness of sins, by which he reconciles to himself those who were unworthy. In a word, the kingdom of heaven is nothing else than "newness of life," (Romans 6:4,) by which God restores us to the hope of a blessed immortality. Having rescued us from the bondage of sin and death, he claims us as his own; that, even while our pilgrimage on earth continues, we may enjoy the heavenly life by faith: for he

"hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ,"
(Ephesians 1:3.)

Though we are like dead men, yet we know that our life is secure; for it "is hid with Christ in God," (Colossians 3:3.)

From this doctrine, as its source, is drawn the exhortation to repentance. For John does not say, "Repent ye, and in this way the kingdom of heaven will afterwards be at hand;" but first brings forward the grace of God, and then exhorts men to repent Hence it is evident, that the foundation of repentance is the mercy of God, by which he restores the lost. In no other sense is it stated by Mark and Luke, that he preached repentance for the forgiveness of sins Repentance is not placed first, as some ignorantly suppose, as if it were the ground of the forgiveness of sins, or as if it induced God to begin to be gracious to us; but men are commanded to repent, that they may receive the reconciliation which is offered to them. Now, as the undeserved love of God -- by which he receives into his favor wretched men, "not imputing their trespasses unto them," (2 Corinthians 5:19) -- is first in order; so it must be observed, that pardon of sins is bestowed upon us in Christ, not that God may treat them with indulgence, but that he may heal us from our sins. And, indeed, without hatred of sin and remorse for transgressions, no man will taste the grace of God. But a definition of repentance and faith may explain more fully the manner in which both are connected; which leads me to handle this doctrine more sparingly.

With regard to the meaning of the present passage, it is proper to observe, that the whole Gospel consists of two parts, -- forgiveness of sins, and repentance Now, as Matthew denominates the first of these the kingdom of heaven, we may conclude, that men are in a state of deadly enmity with God, and altogether shut out from the heavenly kingdom, till God receives them into favor. Though John, when he introduces the mention of the grace of God, exhorts men to repentance, yet it must not be forgotten that repentance, not less than the inheritance of the heavenly kingdom, is the gift of God. As he freely pardons our sins, and delivers us, by his mercy, from the condemnation of eternal death, so also does he form us anew to his image, that we may live unto righteousness. As he freely adopts us for his sons, so he regenerates us by his Spirit, that our life may testify, that we do not falsely, [245] address him as our Father. In like manner, Christ washes away our sins by his blood, and reconciles our Heavenly Father to us by the sacrifice of his death; but, at the same time, in consequence of

"our old man being crucified with him, and the body of sin destroyed," (Romans 6:6)

he makes us "alive" unto righteousness. The sum of the Gospel is, that God, through his Son, takes away our sins, and admits us to fellowship with him, that we, "denying ourselves" and our own nature, may "live soberly, righteously, and godly," and thus may exercise ourselves on earth in meditating on the heavenly life.

Luke 3:3. Preaching the baptism of repentance This form of expression shows first, generally, what is the right use of the Sacraments; and next, why baptism was instituted, and in what it consists. A sacrament, then, is not a dumb ceremony, exhibiting some unmeaning pomp without doctrine; but the Word of God is joined to it, and gives life to the outward ceremony. By the Word I mean, not mutterings of a magical character, made by some exorcist between his teeth, but what is pronounced with a clear and distinct voice, and leads to the edification of faith. For we are not simply told, that John baptized unto repentance, as if the grace of God were contained in a visible sign; but that he explained, in his preaching, the advantage of baptism, that the sign, through the word preached, might produce its effect. This is the peculiarity of baptism, that it is said to be an outward representation of repentance for the forgiveness of sins Now, as the meaning, power, and nature of that baptism are the same as ours, if we judge of the figure from its true import, it is incorrect to say, that the baptism of John is different from the baptism of Christ. [246]

Matthew 3:3. The yoke of one crying in the wilderness Though this passage of the prophet Isaiah (40:3) ought not to be limited exclusively to John, yet he is one of the number of those to whom it certainly refers. After having spoken of the destruction of the city, and of the awful calamities that would befall the people, he promises a restoration that would follow. His words are,

"Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God," (Isaiah 40:1.)

When the temple had been thrown down, and sacrifices abolished, and the people led away into captivity, their affairs seemed to be desperate. And as their ears had been deaf to the uninterrupted voice of the prophets, the Lord kept silence for a time. [247] That pious minds may not be cast down during this melancholy silence, the prophet announces, that other preachers of grace will yet arise, to awaken in the people a hope of salvation. Such were Zechariah, Haggai, Malachi, and the like. [248] But as the restoration promised is perpetual, and not for a time only, and as Isaiah refers chiefly to the redemption, which was to be expressed at the coming of Christ, John the Baptist is justly considered the chief minister of consolation.

Next follows in the words of the prophet, The voice of one crying That voice is contrasted with the temporary silence, [249] which I have just mentioned: for the Jews were to be deprived, for a time, of the instruction, which they had wickedly despised. The word wilderness is here used metaphorically for desolation, or the frightful ruin of the nation, such as existed in the time of the captivity. It was so dismally shattered, that it might well be compared to a wilderness The prophet magnifies the grace of God. "Though the people," says he, "have been driven far from their country, and even excluded from the society of men, yet the voice of God will yet be heard in the wilderness, to revive the dead with joyful consolation." When John began to preach, Jerusalem was in this sense a wilderness: for all had been reduced to wild and frightful confusion. But the very sight of a visible wilderness must have had a powerful effect on stupid and hardened men, leading them to perceive that they were in a state of death, and to accept the promise of salvation, which had been held out to them. We now see, that this prediction actually relates to John, and is most properly applied to him.

Prepare the way of the Lord The prophet undoubtedly addresses Cyrus and the Persians, whose agency the Lord employed in this matter. The meaning is: by his wonderful power, God will open a way to his people through impassable forests, through broken rocks, through a sandy desert; for he will have at hand the ministers of his grace, to remove all hindrances out of the way. But that was a shadowy anticipation of redemption. When the spiritual truth is about to appear, John is sent to remove obstacles. And even now the same voice sounds in our ears, that we may prepare the way of the Lord: that is, that we may take out of the way those sins which obstruct the kingdom of Christ, and thus may give access to his grace. To the same purpose are the following words of the prophet: the crooked shall be made straight, (Isaiah 40:4.) All that they mean is: there are intricate and crooked windings in the world, but through such appalling difficulties the Lord makes a way for himself, and breaks through, by incredible means, to accomplish our salvation.

Luke 3:6 And all flesh shall see the salvation of God That salvation will not be at all obscure, or experienced by a small number of persons, but will strike every eye, and will be common to all. Hence it follows that this prediction was far from being accomplished, when the people returned from Babylon: [250] for though the Lord gave, at that time, a memorable display of his grace, yet he did not reveal his salvation to the whole world. On the contrary, the prophet's design was, to present the uncommon excellence of the salvation which was to be manifested, in contrast with God's former benefits, and thus to inform believers, that the dispensations of God towards his Church had never been so remarkable, nor his power so illustriously displayed in their deliverance. Flesh is here put for men, without being intended to denote their depravity. [251]

Matthew 3:4. And the same John had his raiment of camel's hair The Evangelist does not desire us to reckon it as one of John's chief excellencies, that he followed a rough and austere way of living, or even that he avoided a moderate and ordinary degree of elegance: but, having already stated that he was an inhabitant of the mountains, he now adds, that his food and clothing were adapted to his residence. And he mentions this, not only to inform us, that John was satisfied with the food and dress of the peasants, and partook of no delicacies; but that, under a mean and contemptible garb, he was held in high estimation by men of rank and splendor. Superstitious persons look upon righteousness as consisting almost entirely of outward appearances, and have commonly thought, that abstinence of this kind was the perfection of holiness. Nearly akin to this is the error, of supposing him to be a man who lived in solitude, and who disdained the ordinary way of living; as the only superiority of hermits and monks is, that they differ from other people. Nay, gross ignorance has gone so far that, out of camel's hair they have made an entire skin.

Now, there can be no doubt, that the Evangelist here describes a man of the mountains, [252] widely distant from all the refinement and delicacies of towns,--not only satisfied with such food as could be procured, but eating only what was fit to be used in its natural state, such as wild honey, which is supplied by that region in great abundance, and locusts, with which it also abounds. Or he may have intended to point out that, when a man of mean aspect, and without any polite accomplishments, appeared in public life, it was attended by this advantage, that the majesty of God shone alone in him, and yet struck all with admiration. For we must observe what is added, that there was a great concourse of people from all directions; from which we infer, that his fame was very widely spread. [253] Or the Evangelist may have signified the design of God, to present, in the person of John, a singular instance of frugality, and, in this manner, to fill the Jews with reverence for his doctrine, or at least to convince them of ingratitude, according to that saying of our Lord, John the Baptist came neither eating bread nor drinking wine, (Luke 7:33.)

Matthew Luke 3:6; Mark 1:5. And were baptized, confessing their sins This confession was a testimony of repentance: for, as the Lord, in the sacraments, brings himself under obligation to us, as if he had given his own hand-writing, so it is our duty, on the other hand, to reply to him. In Baptism, he declares that our sins are forgiven, and calls us to repentance. That men may come forward, in a right manner, to be baptized, confession of sins is demanded from them: otherwise the whole performance would be nothing but an idle mockery [254] Let it be observed, that we are here speaking of adults, who ought not, we. are aware, to be admitted indiscriminately into the Church, or introduced by Baptism into the body of Christ, [255] till an examination has been previously made. [256]

Hence it is obvious, how absurdly this passage has been tortured by the Papists, to support auricular confession. There were no priests at hand, in whose ears each individual might privately mutter [257] his sins; nor is it said that they enumerated all their sins; nor are we told that John left in charge to his disciples an ordinary rule for confession. Even granting to Papists all that they ask, confession will belong to Catechumens alone, [258] and will have no place after Baptism. At all events, the law which they lay down for confession after Baptism, derives no countenance from John's example. [259]


[243] "Ammendez-vous, ou, convertissez, ou, repentez."-- "Reform yourselves, or be converted, or, repent."

[244] The whole passage is remarkable, and proves that the appointment to the sacred office of high priest was entirely at the disposal of the Roman Governor. "This man (Valerius Gratus) deprived Ananus of the high priesthood, and appointed Ishmael, the son of Phabi, to be high priest. He also deprived him in a little time, and ordained Eleazar, the son of Ananus, who had been high priest before, to be high priest: which office, when he had held for a year, Gratus deprived him of it, and gave the high priesthood to Simon, the son of Camithus; and, when he had possessed that dignity no longer than a year, Joseph Caiaphas was made his successor. When Gratus had done those things, he went back to Rome, after he had tarried in Judea eleven years, when Pontius Pilate came as his successor." -- (Ant. 18:2:2.)

[245] "Ce n'est pas a fausses enseignes ni par feintise." -- "It is not with false colors, nor by hypocrisy."

[246] "Maintenant puis que le Baptesme de Jean a eu mesme signification, vertu et propriete que le nostre, si nous voulons juger de la figure et du signe selon la chose signifee, c'est 'a dire la verite, nous trouverons que le Baptesme administre par Christ, n'a point este autre que celuy que Jean a administre."--"Now, since the baptism of John had the same meaning, power, and nature as ours, if we wish to judge of the figure and of the sign according to the thing signified, that is to say the reality, we shall find that the Baptism administered by Christ was no other than that which John administered."

[247] "Et pource qu'ils avoyent auparavant ferme leurs aureilles a la voix des prophetes, qui journellement et sans cesse, parloyent a eux, le Seigneur se teut, et laissa de parler a eux pour un temps." -- "And because they had formerly shut their ears to the voice of the prophets, who daily and unceasingly spoke to them, the Lord was silent, and ceased to speak to them for a time."

[248] "Malachie, Esdras, et autres semblables personnages." -- "Malachi, Ezra, and other similar characters."

[249] "Anquel il n'y avoit personne qui parlast au nom de Dieu;" -- "in which there was nobody who spoke in the name of God."

[250] "In populi reditu;" -- "quand le peuple est retourne de Babylone."

[251] "Le mot de Chair n'est pas ice mis pour denoter la corruption de nature, mais il signifie simplement les hommes." -- "The word Flesh is not put here to denote the corruption of nature, but means simply men."

[252] "Montanum hominem;" -- "un homme suivant les montagnes."

[253] "Qu il a ete merveilleusement grand bruit de luy par tout le pays." -- "That there was an astonishingly great noise about him through all the country."

[254] "Autrement, tout ce sainct mystere seroit tournee en mines et bas-tellerie." -- "Otherwise, all this holy mystery would be turned into grimaces and buffoonery."

[255] "En la communion de Christ;" -- "into communion or fellowship with Christ."

[256] "Devant qu'ils n'ayent este examinez et interroguez de leur foy;" --"before they have been examined and interrogated as to their faith."

[257] "Il n'y avoit point 1a de prestres, devant lequel un chacun eust peu s'a genouiller l'un apres l'autre, pourbarboter ses pechez en leurs aureilles." -- "There were no priests there, before whom each individual might kneel down, one after another, to mutter his sins in their ears."

[258] "Ceste confession n'appartient droit qu'a ceux qui de nouveau se convertissent a la foy." -- "That confession would only belong to those who are recently converted to the faith."

[259] "Pour le moins, quand ils commandent par leur loy de se confesser depuis le Baptesme, ils ne peuvent pas dire qu'ils ensuivent Jean, ny l'alleguer pour autheur." -- "At least, when they enjoin, by their law, to make confession after Baptism, they cannot say that they follow John, nor produce him as their author."

As it is written in the prophets, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee.
The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.
John did baptize in the wilderness, and preach the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins.
And there went out unto him all the land of Judaea, and they of Jerusalem, and were all baptized of him in the river of Jordan, confessing their sins.
And John was clothed with camel's hair, and with a girdle of a skin about his loins; and he did eat locusts and wild honey;
And preached, saying, There cometh one mightier than I after me, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to stoop down and unloose.

Matthew 3:11-12

Mark 1:7-8

Luke 3:15-18

11. I indeed baptize you with water to repentance: but he who cometh after me is stronger than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to carry: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire. 12. Whose winnowing-fan is in his hand, and he will thoroughly cleanse his thrashing-floor, and will collect the wheat into his barn: but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.

7. And he preached, saying, One cometh after me, that latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to stoop down and loose. 8. I indeed have baptized you with water: but he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost.

15. And while the people were waiting, and while all were thinking in their hearts about John, whether he was the Christ: 16. John answered to all, saying, I indeed baptize you with water, but there cometh one stronger than I, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to loose: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire. 17. Whose winnowing-fan is in his hand, and he will cleanse his thrashing-floor, and will collect the wheat into his barn: but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire. 18. And exhorting also as to many other things, he preached the Gospel [281] to the people.

The three Evangelists relate the Baptist's discourse in the same words. In one respect, Luke's account is more full: for he opens it by explaining the occasion on which this discourse was delivered. It arose from the people being in danger of being led, by a false opinion, to convey to him the honor which was due to Christ. To remove, as soon as possible, every occasion of such a mistake, he expressly declares, that he is not the Christ, and draws such a distinction between Christ and himself as to maintain Christ's prerogative. He would have done this of his own accord, by handing them over, to use a common expression, as disciples to Christ: but he takes up the matter at an earlier stage, lest, by remaining silent any longer, he should confirm the people in an error.

He who cometh after me is stronger than I Christ is thus declared to be so far superior in power and rank, that, with respect to him, John must occupy a private station. [282] He uses ordinary forms of speech to magnify the glory of Christ, in comparison of whom he declares that he himself is nothing. The chief part of his statement is, that he represents Christ as the author of spiritual baptism, and himself as only the minister of outward baptism. He appears to anticipate an objection, which might be brought forward. What was the design of the Baptism which he had taken upon himself? For it was no light matter to introduce any innovation whatever into the Church of God, and particularly to bring forward a new way of introducing persons into the Church, which was more perfect than the law of God. He replies, that he did not proceed to do this without authority; but that his office, as minister of an outward symbol, takes nothing away from the power and glory of Christ.

Hence we infer, that his intention was not at all to distinguish between his own baptism, and that which Christ taught his disciples, and which he intended should remain in perpetual obligation in his Church. He does not contrast one visible sign with another visible sign, but compares the characters of master and servant with each other, and shows what is due to the master, and what is due to the servant. It ought not to have any weight with us, that an opinion has long and extensively prevailed, that John's baptism differs from ours. We must learn to form our judgment from the matter as it stands, and not from the mistaken opinions of men. And certainly the comparison, which they imagine to have been made, would involve great absurdities. It would follow from it, that the Holy Spirit is given, in the present day, by ministers. Again, it would follow that John's baptism was a dead sign, and had no efficacy whatever. Thirdly, it would follow, that we have not the same baptism with Christ: for it is sufficiently evident, that the fellowship, which he condescends to maintain with us, was ratified by this pledge, [283] when he consecrated baptism in his own body.

We must therefore hold by what I have already said, that John merely distinguishes, in this passage, between himself and the other ministers of baptism, on the one hand, and the power of Christ, on the other, and maintains the superiority of the master over the servants. And hence we deduce the general doctrine, as to what is done in baptism by men, and what is accomplished in it by the Son of God. To men has been committed nothing more than the administration of an outward and visible sign: the reality dwells with Christ alone. [284]

Scripture does sometimes, though not in a literal sense, [285] ascribe to men what John here declares not to belong to men, but claims exclusively for Christ. In such cases, however, the design is not to inquire, what man has separately and by himself, but merely to show, what is the effect and advantage of signs, and in what manner God makes use of them, as instruments, by his Spirit. Here also is laid down a distinction between Christ and his ministers, that the world may not fall into the mistake, of giving to them what is justly due to him alone: for there is nothing to which they are more prone, than to adorn creatures with what has been taken from God by robbery. A careful attention to this observation will rid us of many difficulties. We know what disputes have arisen, in our own age, about the advantage and efficacy of signs, all of which may be disposed of in a single word. The ordinance of our Lord, viewed as a whole, includes himself as its Author, and the power of the Spirit, together with the figure and the minister: but where a comparison is made between our Lord and the minister, the former must have all the honor, and the latter must be reduced to nothing.

Matthew 3:11. He shall baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire It is asked, why did not John equally say, that it is Christ alone who washes souls with his blood? The reason is, that this very washing is performed by the power of the Spirit, and John reckoned it enough to express the whole effect of baptism by the single word Spirit The meaning is clear, that Christ alone bestows all the grace which is figuratively represented by outward baptism, because it is he who "sprinkles the conscience" with his blood. It is he also who mortifies the old man, and bestows the Spirit of regeneration. The word fire is added as an epithet, and is applied to the Spirit, because he takes away our pollutions, as fire purifies gold. In the same manner, he is metaphorically called water in another passage, (John 3:5.)

12. Whose winnowing-fan is in his hand In the former verse, John preached concerning the grace of Christ, that the Jews might yield themselves to him to be renewed: now he discourses of judgment, that he may strike despisers with terror. As there are always many hypocrites who proudly reject the grace of Christ offered to them, it is also necessary to denounce the judgment that awaits them. For this reason John here describes Christ as a severe judge against unbelievers. And this is an order which must be observed by us in teaching, that hypocrites may know, that their rejection of Christ will not go unpunished. They will thus be roused from their lethargy, and begin to dread him as an avenger, whom they despised as the author of salvation.

I have no doubt, that John intended also to show, what Christ accomplishes by means of his Gospel. The preaching of the Gospel, then, is the winnowing-fan Before the Lord sifts us, the whole world is involved in confusion, every one flatters himself, and the good are mixed with the bad in short, it is only necessary that the chaff be blown. But when Christ comes forward with his Gospels, -- when he reproves the consciences and summons them to the tribunal of God, the chaff is sifted out, [286] which formerly occupied a great part of the thrashing-floor It is true that, in the case of individuals, the Gospel effects a separation from the chaff: but in this passage, John compares the reprobate to chaff, and believers to wheat The thrashing floor accordingly denotes -- not the world, (as some people imagine,) but the Church: for we must attend to the class of persons whom John addresses. The mere title filled the Jews with pride, [287] but John tells them that it is foolish in them to be proud of it, because they hold but a temporary place in the Church of God, from which they are soon to be thrown out, like chaff from the thrashing-floor. In this way, he gives a rapid glance at the corrupt state in which the Church then was: for it was covered with husks, and straws, and other rubbish, but would soon be cleansed by the strong breeze of the Gospel. But how is Christ said to separate the chaff from the wheat, when he can find nothing in men but mere chaff? The answer is easy. The elect are formed into wheat, [288] and are then separated from the chaff, and collected into the granary

He will thoroughly cleanse his thrashing-floor This work was begun by Christ, and is daily going forward: but the full accomplishment of it will not be seen till the last day. This is the reason why John draws our attention to the subject. But let us remember, that believers even now enter, by hope, into the granary of God, in which they will actually have their everlasting abode; while the reprobate experience, in their convictions of guilt, the heat of that fire, the actual burning of which they will feel at the last day.

Many persons, I am aware, have entered into ingenious debates about the eternal fire, by which the wicked will be tormented after the judgment. But we may conclude from many passages of Scripture, that it is a metaphorical expression. For, if we must believe that it is real, or what they call material fire, we must also believe that the brimstone and the fan are material, both of them being mentioned by Isaiah.

"For Tophet is ordained of old; the pile thereof is fire and much wood; the breath of the Lord, like a stream of brimstone, doth kindle it," (Isaiah 30:33.)

We must explain the fire in the same manner as the worm, (Mark 9:44, 46, 48.) and if it is universally agreed that the worm is a metaphorical term, we must form the same opinion as to the fire. Let us lay aside the speculations, by which foolish men weary themselves to no purpose, and satisfy ourselves with believing, that these forms of speech denote, in a manner suited to our feeble capacity, a dreadful torment, which no man can now comprehend, and no language can express.


[281] "Evangelizabat."

[282] "In ordinem cogendus sit." -- "Il faut qu'il baissc la teste." -- "He must bow the head."

[283] "A este confirme et ratifie par ce signe;" -- "was confirmed and ratified by this sign."

[284] "La verite du Baptesme vient et procede du Christ seul." -- "The truth of Baptism comes and proceeds from Christ alone."

[285] "Improprie."

[286] "Les pailles s'en vont avec le vent;" -- "the chaff goes away with the wind."

[287] "Les Juifs s'arrestoyent a ce beau titre de Peuple de Dieu, et d'En-fans d'Abraham, et s'en enfioyent." -- "The Jews dwelt upon this fine title of People of God, and Children of Abraham, and were proud of it."

[288] "Les esleus, qui de leur nature ne sont que paille, deviennent froment par la grace de Dieu." -- "The elect, who by their nature are only chaff; become wheat by the grace of God."

I indeed have baptized you with water: but he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost.
And it came to pass in those days, that Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee, and was baptized of John in Jordan.

Matthew 3:13-17

Mark 1:9-11

Luke 3:21-23

13. Then cometh Jesus from Galilee to Jordan to John, that he might be baptized by him. 14. But John forbade [289] him, saying, I have need to be baptized by thee, and dost thou come to me? 15. And Jesus answering said to him, Suffer it now: for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness. Then he suffers him. 16. And Jesus, having been baptized, went up immediately from the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened to him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending as a dove, and coming upon him. 17. And, lo, a voice from heaven, saying, This is my be loved Son, in whom I am well pleased.

9. And it happened in those days, Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee, and was baptized by John in Jordan. 10. And immediately, when he was going up out of the water, he saw the heavens cleft assunder, and the Spirit descending as a dove, upon him. 11. And a voice came from heaven, Thou art my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.

21. And it happened, that, while all the people were being baptized, [290] when Jesus had been baptized and was praying, the heaven was opened, 22. And that the Holy Spirit descended in a bodily appearance, [291] as a dove, upon him, and a voice came from heaven, saying, Thou art my beloved Son: in thee I am well pleased. 23. And Jesus himself began to be about thirty years of age.

Matthew 3:13. That he might be baptized by him. For what purpose did the Son of God wish to be baptized? This may be learned, in some measure, from his answer. We have already assigned a special reason. He received the same baptism with us, in order to assure believers, that they are ingrafted into his body, and that they are "buried with him in baptism," that they may rise to "newness of life," (Romans 6:4.) But the end, which he here proposes, is more extensive: for thus it became him to fulfill all righteousness, (verse 15.) The word righteousness frequently signifies, in Scripture, the observation of the law: and in that sense we may explain this passage to mean that, since Christ had voluntarily subjected himself to the law, it was necessary that he should keep it in every part. But I prefer a more simple interpretation. "Say nothing for the present," said our Lord, "about my rank: [292] for the question before us is not, which of us deserves to be placed above the other. [293] Let us rather consider what our calling demands, and what has been enjoined on us by God the Father." The general reason why Christ received baptism was, that he might render full obedience to the Father; and the special reason was, that he might consecrate baptism in his own body, that we might have it in common with him.

14. I have need to be baptized by thee. It is certain, that John acknowledged Christ to be not only a distinguished prophet, as many foolishly dream, but the Son of God, as he really was: for otherwise he would have dishonored God by lowering his holy calling to a mortal man. How he came to know this, the reader will learn by consulting John's Gospel, (1:15,33.) There was, no doubt, plausibility in this ground of refusal, that Christ had no need of his baptism: but John was mistaken in not considering, that it was for the sake of others that baptism was asked. [294] And so Christ bids him consider, what was suitable to the character of a servant, (Philippians 2:7,) which he had undertaken; for a voluntary subjection takes nothing from his glory. Though the good man [295] remained ignorant, for a time, of some part of his public duty, this particular error did not prevent him from discharging, in a proper and lawful manner, his office of Baptist. This example shows, that we do not act rashly, in undertaking the commission which the Lord has given us, according to the light we enjoy, though we do not immediately comprehend all that belongs to our calling, or that depends upon it. We must also observe his modesty, in giving up his opinion, and immediately obeying Christ.

16. And, lo, the heavens were opened to him. The opening of the heavens sometimes means a manifestation of heavenly glory; but here it means also a cleft, or opening, of the visible heaven, so that John could see something beyond the planets and stars. The words of Mark can have no other meaning, he saw the heavens cleft asunder [296] An exact inquiry into the way in which this opening was made, would be of no importance, nor is it necessary. It is sufficient for us to believe, that it was a symbol of the Divine presence. As the Evangelists say that John saw the Holy Spirit, it is probable that the opening of the heavens was chiefly on his account. Yet I do not hesitate to admit that Christ also, so far as he was man, received from it additional certainty as to his heavenly calling. This appears to be the tendency of the words of Luke: while Jesus was praying, the heaven was opened, (Luke 3:21:) for, though his prayers were always directed towards the benefit of others, yet as man, when he commenced a warfare of so arduous a description, he needed to be armed with a remarkable power of the Spirit.

But here two questions arise. The first is, why did the Spirit, who had formerly dwelt in Christ, descend upon him at that time? This question is answered by a passage of the prophet Isaiah, which will be handled in another place.

"The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me; because the Lord God hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the broken-hearted," (Isaiah 61:1.)

Though the grace of the Spirit was bestowed on Christ in a remarkable and extraordinary manner, (John 3:34,) yet he remained at home as a private person, till he should be called to public life by the Father. Now that the full time is come, for preparing to discharge the office of Redeemer, he is clothed with a new power of the Spirit, and that not so much for his own sake, as for the sake of others. It was done on purpose, that believers might learn to receive, and to contemplate with reverence, his divine power, and that the weakness of the flesh might not make him despised.

This was also the reason why he delayed his baptism till the thirtieth year of his age, (Luke 3:23.) Baptism was an appendage to the Gospel: and therefore it began at the same time with the preaching of the Gospel. When Christ was preparing to preach the Gospel, he was introduced by Baptism into his office; and at the same time was endued with the Holy Spirit. When John beholds the Holy Spirit descending upon Christ, it is to remind him, that nothing carnal or earthly must be expected in Christ, but that he comes as a godlike man, [297] descended from heaven, in whom the power of the Holy Spirit reigns. We know, indeed, that he is God manifested in the flesh, (1 Timothy 3:16:) but even in his character as a servant, and in his human nature, there is a heavenly power to be considered.

The second question is, why did the Holy Spirit appear in the shape of a dove, rather than in that of fire? The answer depends on the analogy, or resemblance between the figure and the thing represented. We know what the prophet Isaiah ascribes to Christ.

"He shall not cry, nor lift up, nor cause his voice to be heard in the street. A bruised reed shall he not break, and the smoking flax shall he not quench," (Isaiah 42:2, 3.)

On account of this mildness of Christ, by which he kindly and gently called, and every day invites, sinners to the hope of salvation, the Holy Spirit descended upon him in the appearance of a dove And in this symbol has been held out to us an eminent token of the sweetest consolation, that we may not fear to approach to Christ, who meets us, not in the formidable power of the Spirit, but clothed with gentle and lovely grace.

He saw the Spirit of God That is, John saw: for it immediately follows, that the Spirit descended on Christ There now arises a third question, how could John see the Holy Spirit? I:reply: As the Spirit of God is everywhere present, and fills heaven and earth, he is not said, in a literal sense, to descend, and the same observation may be made as to his appearance. Though he is in himself invisible, yet he is spoken of as beheld, when he exhibits any visible sign of his presence. John did not see the essence of the Spirit, which cannot be discerned by the senses of men; [298] nor did he see his power, which is not beheld by human senses, but only by the understanding of faith: but he saw the appearance of a dove, under which God showed the presence of his Spirit. It is a figure of speech, [299] by which the sign is put for the thing signified, the name of a spiritual object being applied to the visible sign.

While it is foolish and improper to press, as some do, the literal meaning, so as to include both the sign and the thing signified, we must observe, that the connection subsisting between the sign and the thing signified is denoted by these modes of expression. In this sense, the bread of the Lord's Supper is called the body of Christ, (1 Corinthians 10:16:) not because it is so, but because it assures us, that the body of Christ is truly given to us for food. Meanwhile, let us bear in mind what I have just mentioned, that we must not imagine a descent of the thing signified, so as to seek it in the sign, as if it had a bodily place there, but ought to be abundantly satisfied with the assurance, that God grants, by his secret power, all that he holds out to us by figures.

Another question more curious than useful has been put. Was this dove a solid body, or the appearance of one? Though the words of Luke seem to intimate that it was not the substance of a body, but only a bodily appearance; yet, lest I should afford to any man an occasion of wrangling, I leave the matter unsettled.

17. And, lo, a voice from heaven From that opening of the heavens, which has been already mentioned, a loud voice was heard, that its majesty might be more impressive. The public appearance of Christ, to undertake the office of Mediator, was accompanied by this announcement, [300] in which he was offered to us by the Father, that we may rely on this pledge of our adoption, and boldly call God himself our Father. The designation of Son belongs truly and naturally to Christ alone: but yet he was declared to be the Son of God in our flesh, that the favor of Him, whom he alone has a right to call Father, may be also obtained for us. And thus when God presents Christ to us as Mediator, accompanied by the title of Son, he declares that he is the Father of us all, (Ephesians 4:6.)

Such, too, is the import of the epithet beloved: for in ourselves we are hateful to God, and his fatherly love must flow to us by Christ. The best expounder of this passage is the Apostle Paul, when he says

"who hath predestinated us into adoption by Jesus Christ in himself, according to the good pleasure of his will; to the praise of the glory of his grace, in which he hath accepted us in the Beloved," (Ephesians 1:5,6)

that is, in his beloved Son. It is still more fully expressed by these words, in whom I am well pleased They imply, that the love of God rests on Christ in such a manner, as to diffuse itself from him to us all; and not to us only, but even to the angels themselves. Not that they need reconciliation, for they never were at enmity with God: but even they become perfectly united to God, only by means of their Head, (Ephesians 1:22.) For the same reason, he is also called "the first-born of every creature," (Colossians 1:5;) and Paul likewise states that Christ came

"to reconcile all things to himself, both those which are on earth, and those which are in heavens," (Colossians 1:20.)


[289] "Empeschoit fort;" -- "strongly opposed him."

[290] "Quum baptizaretur omnis populus;" -- "en baptizant tout le peuple;" -- "in baptizing all the people."

[291] "En apparence corporelle, ou, forme;" -- "in bodily appearance, or, shape."

[292] "Je laisse maintenant ma dignite a part." -- "I now lay my rank aside."

[293] "Lequel de nous deux est plus grand ou excellent;" -- "which of usboth is greater or more excellent."

[294] "Que c'est pour le profit des autres, et non pas pour le sien, que Christ demande d'estre baptize." -- "That it is for the benefit of others, and not for his own, that Christ asks to be baptized."

[295] "Quelque excellent personnage qu'il fust." -- "However excellent a person he was."

[296] "Il vid les cieux mi-partir, ou se fendre." -- "He saw the heavens divided in the middle, or deft."

[297] "Un homme rempli de Dieu;" -- "a man filled with God."

[298] "A parler proprement, il ne descend point, et semblablement ne peut estre veu." -- "Strictly speaking, he does not descend, and in like manner he cannot be seen."

[299] "C'est une maniere de parler par Metonymie, (ainsi que parlent les gens de lettres.")--"It is a way of speaking by Metonymy, (as learned people talk.")

[300] "Avec ce tesmoignage et recommandation;" -- "with this testimony and recommendation."

And straightway coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens opened, and the Spirit like a dove descending upon him:
And there came a voice from heaven, saying, Thou art my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.
And immediately the Spirit driveth him into the wilderness.

Matthew 4:1-4

Mark 1:12-13

Luke 4:1-4

1. Then Jesus was led into the wilderness by the Spirit, that he might be tempted by the devil; 2. And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he at length was hungry. 3. And when he who tempteth had approached to him, he said, If thou art the Son of God, command that these stones may become loaves. [301] 4. But he answering said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word which proceedeth from the mouth of God.

12. And immediately the Spirit drove him into the wilderness, 13. And he was in the wilderness forty days and forty nights; and was tempted by Satan, and was with the wild beasts. [302]

1. And Jesus, full of the Holy Ghost, returnined from Jordan, and was driven by the Spirit into the wilderness. 2. Forty days he was tempted by the devil; and he ate nothing in those days, afterwards he was hungry. [303] 3. And the devil said to him, If thou art the Son of God, command this stone that it may become bread. 4. And Jesus replied to him, saying, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God.

Matthew 4:1. Then Jesus was led. There were two reasons why Christ withdrew into the wilderness. The first was, that, after a fast of forty days, he might come forth as a new man, or rather a heavenly man, to the discharge of his office. The next was, that he might be tried by temptation and undergo an apprenticeship, before he undertook an office so arduous, and so elevated. Let us therefore learn that, by the guidance of the Spirit, Christ withdrew from the crowd of men, in order that he might come forth as the highest teacher of the church, as the ambassador of God, -- rather as sent from heaven, than as taken from some town, and from among the common people.

In the same way Moses, when God was about to employ him as his agent in publishing his law, was carried into Mount Sinai, withdrawn from the view of the people, and admitted, as it were, into a heavenly sanctuary, (Exodus 24:12.) It was proper that Christ should be surrounded by marks of divine grace and power -- at least equally illustrious with those which were bestowed on Moses, that the majesty of the Gospel might not be inferior to that of the Law. If God bestowed singular honor on a doctrine which was "the ministration of death," (2 Corinthians 3:7,) how much more honor is due to the doctrine of life? And if a shadowy portrait of God had so much brightness, ought not his face, which appears in the Gospel, to shine with full splendor?

Such also was the design of the fasting: for Christ abstained from eating and drinking, not to give an example of temperance, but to acquire greater authority, by being separated from the ordinary condition of men, and coming forth, as an angel from heaven, not as a man from the earth. For what, pray, would have been that virtue of abstinence, in not tasting food, for which he had no more appetite than if he had not been clothed with flesh? [304] It is mere folly, therefore, to appoint a forty days' fast, (as it is called,) in imitation of Christ. There is no more reason why we should follow the example of Christ in this matter, than there formerly was for the holy Prophets, and other Fathers under the law, to imitate the fast of Moses. But we are aware, that none of them thought of doing so; with the single exception of Elijah, who was employed by God in restoring the law, and who, for nearly the same reason with Moses, was kept in the mount fasting.

Those who fast daily, during all the forty days, pretend that they are imitators of Christ. But how? They stuff their belly so completely at dinner, that, when the hour of supper arrives, they have no difficulty in abstaining from food. What resemblance do they bear to the Son of God? The ancients practiced greater moderation: but even they had nothing that approached to Christ's fasting, any more, in fact, than the abstinence of men approaches to the condition of angels, who do not eat at all. Besides, neither Christ nor Moses observed a solemn fast every year; but both of them observed it only once during their whole life. I wish we could say that they had only amused themselves, like apes, by such fooleries. It was a wicked and abominable mockery of Christ, to attempt, by this contrivance of fasting, to conform themselves to him as their model. [305] To believe that such fasting is a meritorious work, and that it is a part of godliness and of the worship of God, is a very base superstition.

But above all, it is an intolerable outrage on God, whose extraordinary miracle they throw into the shade; secondly, on Christ, whose distinctive badge they steal from him, that they may clothe themselves with his spoils; thirdly, on the Gospel, which loses not a little of its authority, if this fasting of Christ is not acknowledged to be his seal. God exhibited a singular miracle, when he relieved his Son from the necessity of eating and when they attempt the same thing by their own power, what is it but a mad and daring ambition to be equal with God? Christ's fasting was a distinctive badge of the divine glory: and is it not to defraud him of his glory, and to reduce him to the ordinary rank of men, when mortals freely mix themselves with him as his companions? God appointed Christ's fasting to seal the Gospel: and do those who apply it to a different purpose abate nothing from the dignity of the Gospel? Away, then, with that ridiculous imitation, [306] which overturns the purpose of God, and the whole order of his works. Let it be observed, that I do not speak of fastings in general, the practice of which I could wish were more general among us, provided it were pure.

But I must explain what was the object of Christ's fasting. Satan availed himself of our Lord's hunger as an occasion for tempting him, as will shortly be more fully stated. For the present, we must inquire generally, why was it the will of God that his Son should be tempted? That he was brought into this contest by a fixed purpose of God, is evident from the words of Matthew and Mark, who say, that for this reason he was led by the Spirit into the wilderness. God intended, I have no doubt, to exhibit in the person of his Son, as in a very bright mirror, how obstinately and perseveringly Satan opposes the salvation of men. For how comes it, that he attacks Christ more furiously, and directs all his power and forces against him, at the particular time mentioned by the Evangelists, but because he sees him preparing, at the command of the Father, to undertake the redemption of men? Our salvation, therefore, was attacked in the person of Christ, just as the ministers, whom Christ has authorized to proclaim his redemption, are the objects of Satan's daily warfare.

It ought to be observed, at the same time, that the Son of God voluntarily endured the temptations, which we are now considering, and fought, as it were, in single combat with the devil, that, by his victory, he might obtain a triumph for us. Whenever we are called to encounter Satan, let us remember, that his attacks can, in no other way, be sustained and repelled, than by holding out this shield: for the Son of God undoubtedly allowed himself to be tempted, that he may be constantly before our minds, when Satan excites within us any contest of temptations. When he was leading a private life at home, we do not read that he was tempted; but when he was about to discharge the office of Redeemer, he then entered the field in the name of his whole church. But if Christ was tempted as the public representative of all believers, let us learn, that the temptations which befall us are not accidental, or regulated by the will of Satan, without God's permission; but that the Spirit of God presides over our contests as an exercise of our faith. This will aid us in cherishing the assured hope, that God, who is the supreme judge and disposer of the combat, [307] will not be unmindful of us, but will fortify us against those distresses, which he sees that we are unable to meet.

There is a slight apparent difference in the words of Luke, that Jesus, full of the Holy Ghost, withdrew from Jordan They imply, that he was then more abundantly endued with the grace and power of the Spirit, in order that he might be more fortified for the battles which he had to fight: for it was not without a good reason that the Holy Spirit descended upon him in a visible shape. It has been already stated, that the grace of God shone in him the more brightly, as the necessity arising out of our salvation became greater. [308] But, at first sight, it appears strange, that Christ was liable to the temptations of the devil: for, when temptation falls on men, it must always be owing to sin and weakness. I:reply: First, Christ took upon him our infirmity, but without sin, (Hebrews 4:15.) Secondly, it detracts no more from his glory, that he was exposed to temptations, than that he was clothed with our flesh: for he was made man on the condition that, along with our flesh, he should take upon him our feelings. But the whole difficulty lies in the first point. How was Christ surrounded by our weakness, so as to be capable of being tempted by Satan, and yet to be pure and free from all sin? The solution will not be difficult, if we recollect, that the nature of Adam, while it was still innocent, and reflected the brightness of the divine image, -- was liable to temptations. All the bodily affections, that exist in man, are so many opportunities which Satan seizes to tempt him.

It is justly reckoned a weakness of human nature, that our senses are affected by external objects. But this weakness would not be sinful, were it not for the presence of corruption; in consequence of which Satan never attacks us, without doing some injury, or, at least, without inflicting a slight wound. Christ was separated from us, in this respect, by the perfection of his nature; though we must not imagine him to have existed in that intermediate condition, which belonged to Adam, to whom it was only granted, that it was possible for him not to sin. We know, that Christ was fortified by the Spirit with such power, that the darts of Satan could not pierce him. [309]

Matthew 4:3. And when he, who tempteth, had approached to him. This name, ho peirazon, the tempter, is given to Satan by the Spirit for the express purpose, that believers may be more carefully on their guard against him. Hence, too, we conclude, that temptations, which solicit us to what is evil, come from him alone: for, when God is sometimes said to tempt or prove, (Genesis 22:1; Deuteronomy 13:3,) it is for a different purpose, namely, to try their faith, or to inflict punishment on unbelievers, or to discover the hypocrisy of those who do not sincerely obey the truth.

That these stones may become loaves. Here the ancients amused themselves with ingenious trifles. The first temptation, they said, was to gluttony; the second, to ambition; and the third, to covetousness. But it is absurd to suppose that it arises from the intemperance of gluttony, [310] when a hungry person desires food to satisfy nature. What luxury will they fancy themselves to have discovered in the use of bread, that one who satisfies himself, as we say, with dry bread, must be reckoned an epicure? But not to waste more words on that point, Christ's answer alone is sufficient to show, that the design of Satan was altogether different. The Son of God was not such an unskillful or inexperienced antagonist, as not to know how he might ward off the strokes of his adversary, or idly to present his shield on the left hand when he was attacked on the right. If Satan had endeavored to allure him by the enticements of gluttony, [311] he had at hand passages of Scripture fitted to repel him. But he proposes nothing of this sort.

4. Man shall not live by bread alone. He quotes the statement, that men do not live by bread alone, but by the secret blessing of God. Hence we conclude, that Satan made a direct attack on the faith of Christ, in the hope that, after destroying his faith, he would drive Christ to unlawful and wicked methods of procuring food. And certainly he presses us very hard, when he attempts to make us distrust God, and consult our own advantage in a way not authorized by his word. The meaning of the words, therefore, is: "When you see that you are forsaken by God, you are driven by necessity to attend to yourself. Provide then for yourself the food, with which God does not supply you." Now, though [312] he holds out the divine power of Christ to turn the stones into loaves, yet the single object which he has in view, is to persuade Christ to depart from the word of God, and to follow the dictates of infidelity.

Christ's reply, therefore, is appropriate: "Man shall not live by bread alone. You advise me to contrive some remedy, for obtaining relief in a different manner from what God permits. This would be to distrust God; and I have no reason to expect that he will support me in a different manner from what he has promised in his word. You, Satan, represent his favor as confined to bread: but Himself declares, that, though every kind of food were wanting, his blessing alone is sufficient for our nourishment." Such was the kind of temptation which Satan employed, the same kind with which he assails us daily. The Son of God did not choose to undertake any contest of an unusual description, but to sustain assaults in common with us, that we might be furnished with the same armor, and might entertain no doubt as to achieving the victory.

It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone. The first thing to be observed here is, that Christ uses Scripture as his shield: for this is the true way of fighting, if we wish to make ourselves sure of the victory. With good reason does Paul say, that, the sword of the Spirit is the word of God," and enjoin us to "take the shield of faiths" (Ephesians 6:16,17.) Hence also we conclude, that Papists, as if they had made a bargain with Satan, cruelly give up souls to be destroyed by him at his pleasure, when they wickedly withhold the Scripture from the people of God, and thus deprive them of their arms, by which alone their safety could be preserved. Those who voluntarily throw away that armor, and do not laboriously exercise themselves in the school of God, deserve to be strangled, at every instant, by Satan, into whose hands they give themselves up unarmed. No other reason can be assigned, why the fury of Satan meets with so little resistance, and why so many are everywhere carried away by him, but that God punishes their carelessness, and their contempt of his word.

We must now examine more closely the passage, which is quoted by Christ from Moses: that he might make thee know that man doth not live by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the Lord doth man live, (Deuteronomy 8:3.) There are some who torture it to a false meaning, as referring to spiritual life; as if our Lord had said, that souls are not nourished by visible bread, but by the word of God. The statement itself is, no doubt, true: but Moses had quite a different meaning. He reminds them that, when no bread could be obtained, God provided them with an extraordinary kind of nourishment in "manna, which they knew not, neither did their fathers know," (Deuteronomy 8:3;) and that this was intended as an evident proof, in all time coming, that the life of man is not confined to bread, but depends on the will and good-pleasure of God. The word does not mean doctrine, but the purpose which God has made known, with regard to preserving the order of nature and the lives of his creatures. Having created men, he does not cease to care for them: but, as "he breathed into their nostrils the breath of life," (Genesis 2:7,) so he constantly preserves the life which he has bestowed. In like manner, the Apostle says, that he "upholdeth all things by his powerful word," (Hebrews 1:3;) that is, the whole world is preserved, and every part of it keeps its place, by the will and decree of Him, whose power, above and below, is everywhere diffused. Though we live on bread, we must not ascribe the support of life to the power of bread, but to the secret kindness, by which God imparts to bread the quality of nourishing our bodies.

Hence, also, follows another statement: by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God shall men live. God, who now employs bread for our support, will enable us, whenever he pleases, to live by other means. This declaration of Moses condemns the stupidity of those, who reckon life to consist in luxury and abundance; while it reproves the distrust and inordinate anxiety which drives us to seek unlawful means. The precise object of Christ's reply is this: We ought to trust in God for food, and for the other necessaries of the present life, in such a manner, that none of us may overleap the boundaries which he has prescribed. But if Christ did not consider himself to be at liberty to change stones into bread, without the command of God, much less is it lawful for us to procure food by fraud, or robbery, or violence, or murder.


[301] "Ut lapides hi panes fiant;" -- "Que ces pierres devienent pains."

[302] "Et estoit avec les bestes sauvages."

[303] "Mais apres qu'ils furent passez, il ent faim;" -- "but after that they were past, he was hungry."

[304] "Car, je vous prie, quelle virtu d' abstinence y-eust-il eue a, ne taster point de viande, veu qu'il n'avoit nulle faim qui le pressast? Car il est certain, et les Evangelistes le donnent a entendre assez clairement, qu'il s'est passe de manger tout ainsi que s'il n'eust point este revestu de notre chair." -- "For what virtue of abstinence, pray, was there in not tasting food, since he had no hunger that pressed him? For it is certain, and the Evangelists give us plainly enough to understand, that he had left off eating as completely as if he had not been clothed with our flesh."

[305] "En ce qu'ils se sont essayez par leur jeusne, forge a leur fantasie, de se mettre du rang de Christ, et se mesurer a luy." -- "In having attempted, by their fast, forged according to their fancy, to place themselves in the same rank with Christ, and to vie with him."

[306] "chachozelia." -- "Ceste singerie et imitation contrefaite;" -- "that apishness and counterfeit imitation."

[307] "Agonotheta." This word, slightly altered from the Greek word agonothetes, signifiesthe judge who presided at the public games." The Epistles of Paul contain many allusions to the Olympic games, -- sometimes so rapid and indirect, that they are apt to be lost in a translation, and at other times swelling into an extended picture, which arrests and captivates every reader. Those who are familiar with his writings, and who have occasion to treat of the same class of subjects, will naturally employ the same kind of illustrations, in conveying to the minds of others those conceptions, for which they have been indebted to this great master. While they describe the contests of the people of God with outward foes, or their more violent struggles with the old man within, they will frequently, and sometimes unconsciously, fall into similar allusions. -- Ed.

[308] Here the French copy gives an additional illustration, of which no trace is found in the Latin original. "Le mesme S. Luc avec S. Marc enseigne que le commencement des tentations estoit de plus loin. Car Satan avoit assailli Christ quarante jours au paravant qu'il eust faim: mais les principaux et plus excellens combats sont icy recitez, afin que nous sachions que Satan veincu en plusieurs assaux, s'est finalement rue furieusement, et de toute sa force, pour voir s'il pourroit d'aventure veincre finalement celuy duquel il n'avoit peu venir a bout. Car d'autant plus qu'on est exere aux combats spirituels, Dieu permet aussi qu'on soit plus rudement assailli. Parquoy apprenons a ne nous lasser jamais, jusqu'a ce qu' ayans paracheve tout le cours de notre guerre, nous soyons parvenus au but." -- "The same St Luke, as well as St Mark, informs us, that the commencement of the temptations was more distant. For Satan had attacked Christ forty days before he was hungry: but the most important and valuable combats are here related, in order that we may know that Satan, vanquished in many assaults, had fallen upon him furiously, and with all his might, to see if perhaps he might finally vanquish him, with whom he had not been able to succeed. For the more that we are exercised in spiritual combats, God allows us to be the more violently attacked. Wherefore let us learn, never to become weary, till, having finished the whole course of our war, we have reached the end."

[309] "Car nous savons que Christ a este muni d'une telle vertu de l'Esprit, que les dards de Satan ne le pouvoyent navrer ne blesser: c'est a dire, qcu'il estoit impossible que peche tombast en luy." -- "For we know that Christ was fortified by such a power of the Spirit, that the darts of Satan could not pierce or wound him: that is, that it was impossible for sin to fall upon him."

[310] "Friandise ou gourmandise;" -- "epicurism or gormandizing."

[311] "A friandise, ou a quelque excez de la bouche." -- "To epicurism, or any excess of the palate."

[312] "Combien que pour couvrir sa malice;" -- "though, to cover his malice."

And he was there in the wilderness forty days, tempted of Satan; and was with the wild beasts; and the angels ministered unto him.

Matthew 4:5-11

Mark 1:13

Luke 4:5-13

5. Then the devil taketh [313] him into the holy city, and placeth him on the pinnacle [314] of the temple, 6. And saith to him, If thou art the Son of God, throw thyself down: for it is written, He will command his angels concerning thee, and they will carry thee in their hands, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone. 7. Jesus said to him, Again it is written, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God. 8. Again, the devil taketh him to a very high mountain, and pointeth out to him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them; 9. And saith to him, All these things I will give thee, if, falling down, thou shalt adore me. 10. Then Jesus saith to him, Depart, Satan, for it is written, Thou shalt adore the Lord thy God, and him alone thou shalt worship. 11. Then the devil leaveth him, and lo, angels approached, and waited on him.

13. And angels waited on him.

5. And the devil conducted him to a high mountain, and showed him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment. 6. And the devil saith to him, I will give thee this universal power, and the glory of them: for they have been delivered to me, and to whomsoever I will, I give it. 7. If, therefore, bowing down before me, thou shalt worship, all things shall be thine. 8. And Jesus answering said to him, Go behind me, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt adore the Lord thy God, and him alone thou shalt worship. 9. And he led him to Jerusalem, and placed him on a parapet of the temple, and said to him, If thou art the Son of God, throw thyself down hence: 10. For it is written, that he will command his angels concerning thee, that they may preserve thee: 11. And that they will support thee with their hands, lest thou dash thy foot against a stone. 12. And he answering said to him, It is said, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God. 13. And all the temptation having been finished, the devil departed from him for a time.

Matthew 4:5. Then the devil taketh him. It is not of great importance, that Luke's narrative makes that temptation to be the second, which Matthew places as the third: for it was not the intention of the Evangelists to arrange the history in such a manner, as to preserve on all occasions, the exact order of time, but to draw up an abridged narrative of the events, so as to present, as in a mirror or picture, those things which are most necessary to be known concerning Christ. Let it suffice for us to know that Christ was tempted in three ways. The question, which of these contests was the second, and which was the third, need not give us much trouble or uneasiness. In the exposition, I shall follow the text of Matthew.

Christ is said to have been placed on the pinnacle of the temple. It is asked, was he actually carried to this elevated spot, or was it done in vision? There are many, who obstinately assert, that the body was really and actually conveyed: for they consider it to be unworthy of Christ, that he should be supposed to be liable to the delusions of Satan. But it is easy to dispose of that objection. There is no absurdity in supposing, that this took place by the permission of God and the voluntary subjection of Christ; provided we hold that within, -- that is, in his mind and souls, -- he suffered no delusion. What is next added, that all the kingdoms of the world were placed in the view of Christ, -- as well as what Luke relates, that he was carried to a great distance in one moment, -- agrees better with the idea of a vision, than with any other supposition. In a matter that is doubtful, and where ignorance brings no risk, I choose rather to suspend my judgment, than to furnish contentious people with an occasion of debate. It is also possible, that the second temptation did not follow the first, nor the third the second, in immediate succession, but that some interval of time elapsed. This is even more probable, though the words of Luke might lead to the conclusion, that there was no long interval: for he says, that Christ obtained repose for a time.

But the main question for our consideration is, what was Satan's object in this kind of temptation? That will be best determined, as I have lately hinted, by our Lord's reply to Satan. To meet the stratagem of the enemy, and to repel his attack, Christ interposes, as a shield, these words: Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God. Hence it is evident, that the stratagems of the enemy were intended to induce Christ to exalt himself unduly, and to rise, in a daring manner, against God. Satan had formerly attempted to drive Christ to despair, because he was destitute of food, and of the ordinary means of life. Now, he exhorts him to indulge a foolish and vain confidences, -- to neglect the means which are in his powers, -- to throw himself, without necessity, into manifest danger, -- and, as we might say, to overleap all bounds. As it is not proper for us to be discouraged, when we are pressed by "the want of all things," (Deuteronomy 28:57,) but to rely with confidence on God, neither are we at liberty to raise our crests, or ascend higher than God permits us. The design of Satan, we have now ascertained, was to induce Christ to make trial of his divinity, and to rise up, in foolish and wicked rashness, against God.

6. He will charge his angels concerning thee. We must observe this malice of Satan, in misapplying a quotation of Scripture, for the purpose of rendering life deadly to Christ, and of converting bread into poison. The same kind of stratagem he continues daily to employ; and the Son of God, who is the universal model of all the godly, chose to undergo this contest in his own person, that all may be industriously on their guard against being led, by a false application of Scripture, into the snares of Satan. And undoubtedly the Lord grants such a permission to our adversary, that we may not remain in indolent ease, but may be more careful to keep watch. Nor ought we to imitate the madness of those who throw away Scripture, as if it admitted of every kind of interpretation, because the devil misapplies it. For the same reason, we ought to abstain from food, to avoid the risk of being poisoned. Satan profanes the Word of God, and endeavors to torture it for our destruction. But it has been ordained by God for our salvation; and shall the purpose of God be frustrated, unless our indolence deprive his word of its saving effect?

We need not dispute long on these matters. Let us only inquire, what Christ enjoins on us by his example, which we ought to follow as a rule. When Satan wickedly tortures Scripture, does Christ give way to him? Does he allow him to seize and carry off the Scripture, with which he formerly armed himself? On the contrary, he quotes Scripture in his turn, and boldly refutes Satan's wicked slander. Whenever Satan shall cover his deception by Scripture, and ungodly men shall labor to subvert our faith by the same means, let us borrow our armor exclusively from Scripture for the protection of our faith.

Though the promise, he will charge his angels concerning thee, (Psalm 91:11,) relates to all believers, yet it belongs peculiarly to Christ, who is the Head of the whole Church, possesses authority over angels, and commits to them the charge of us. Satan is not wrong in proving from this passage, that angels have been given to Christ, to wait on him, to guard him, and to bear him on their hands. But the fallacy lies in this, that he assigns a wandering and uncertain course to that guardianship of angels, which is only promised to the children of God, when they keep themselves within their bounds, and walk in their ways. If there is any force in that expression, in all thy ways, (Psalm 91:11,) the prophet's meaning is wickedly corrupted and mutilated by Satan, when he applies it, in a violent and wild and confused manner, to extravagant and mistaken courses. God commands us to walk in our ways, and then declares that angels will be our guardians: Satan brings forward the guardianship of angels, for the purpose of advising Christ to put himself unnecessarily in danger, as if he would say: "If you expose yourself to death, contrary to the will of God, angels will protect your life."

7. It is written, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God. The reply of Christ is most appropriate. There is no other way, in which we have a right to expect the assistance promised in that passage, than when believers humbly submit themselves to his guidance: for we cannot rely on his promises, without obeying his commandments. God is tempted in many ways: but in this passage, the word tempt denotes the neglect of those means which he puts into our hands. Those who leave the means which God recommends, and resolve to make trial of his power and might, act as absurdly as if one were to cut off a man's arms and hands, and then order him to work. In short, whoever desires to make an experiment of the divine power, when there is no necessity for it, tempts God by subjecting his promises to an unfair trial.

8. The devil taketh him to a very high mountain. We must keep in mind, what I have already stated, that it was not owing to any weakness of Christ's nature, but to a voluntary dispensation and permission, that Satan produced this effect upon his eyes. Again, while his senses were moved and powerfully affected by the glory of the kingdoms which was presented to them, no inward desire arose in his mind; whereas the lusts of the flesh, like wild beasts, are drawn, and hurry us along, to the objects which please us: for Christ had the same feelings with ourselves, but he had no irregular appetites. The kind of temptation here described was, that Christ should seek, in another manner than from God, the inheritance which he has promised to his children. And here the daring insolence of the devil is manifested, in robbing God of the government of the world, and claiming it for himself. All these things, says he, are mine, and it is only through me that they are obtained.

We have to contend every day with the same imposture: for every believer feels it in himself and it is still more clearly seen in the whole life of the ungodly. Though we are convinced, that all our support, and aid, and comfort, depend on the blessing of God, yet our senses allure and draw us away, to seek assistance from Satan, as if God alone were not enough. A considerable portion of mankind disbelieve the power and authority of God over the world, and imagine that every thing good is bestowed by Satan. For how comes it, that almost all resort to wicked contrivances, to robbery and to fraud, but because they ascribe to Satan what belongs to God, the power of enriching whom he pleases by his blessing? True, indeed, with the mouth they ask that God will give them daily bread, (Matthew 6:11) but it is only with the mouth; for they make Satan the distributor of all the riches in the world.

10. Depart, Satan. Instead of this, Luke has, Depart behind me, Satan. There is no use for speculating about the phrase, behind me, which Christ addressed to Peter, Go behind me, (Matthew 16:23,) as if the same words had not been addressed to Satan. Christ simply bids him go away; [315] and now proceeds with the same kind of defense as before, employing Scripture as a shield, not of reeds, but of brass. He quotes a passage from the law, that God alone is to be adored and worshipped, (Deuteronomy 6:13; Deuteronomy 10:20.) From the application of that passage, and from the circumstances in which it is introduced, it is easy to conclude what is the design of adoration of God, and in what it consists.

Papists deny that God only ought to be adored; and evade this and similar passages by sophistical arguments. Latria, (latreia,) they admit, is adoration, which ought to be given to God alone: but Dulia, (douleia,) is an inferior kind of adoration, which they bestow on dead men, and on their bones and statues. But Christ rejects this frivolous distinction, and claims for God alone proskunesis, worship; by which he warns us to attend more to the matter than to expressions, when we have to do with the worship of God.

Scripture enjoins us to worship God alone: we must inquire, for what end? If a man takes any thing from his glory, and ascribes it to creatures, this is a heinous profanation of divine worship. But it is very evident that this is done, when we go to creatures, to receive from them those good things, of which God desired to be acknowledged as the only Author. Now, as religion is strictly spiritual, and the outward acknowledgment of it relates to the body, so not only the inward worship, but also the outward manifestation of it, is due to God alone. [316]

11. Then the devil leaveth him. Luke expresses more: when all the temptation had been finished. This means, that no truce or relaxation was granted to Christ, till he had been fully tried by every species of contest. He adds, that Christ was left for a season only. This is intended to inform us, that the rest of his life was not entirely free from temptations, but that God restrained the power of Satan, so that Christ was not unseasonably disturbed by him. In like manner, God usually acts towards all his people: for, after permitting them to be sharply tried, he abates, in some measure, the violence of the strife, that they may take breath for a little, and gather courage. What immediately follows, the angels waited on him, I understand as referring to comfort, that Christ might feel, that God the Father took care of him, and fortified him, by his powerful assistance, against Satan. For the very solitude might aggravate the dreariness of his condition, when he was deprived of the kind offices of men, and was with the wild beasts, -- a circumstance which is expressly mentioned by Mark. And yet we must not suppose, that Christ was ever forsaken by the angels: but, in order to allow an opportunity for temptation, the grace of God, though it was present, was sometimes hidden from him, so far as respects the feeling of the flesh.


[313] "Le transporte;" -- "conveys him."

[314] "Le pinnacle."

[315] "Il vent seulement le rejetter avec son conseil;" -- "he wishes only to reject him with his advice."

[316] "Christ attribue aussi a Dieu seul l'adoration externe, que les Grecs appellent proschunesis: car il use de ce terme qui signifient proprement s'agenouiller ET prosterner par forme de service divin." -- "Christ ascribes also to God alone the external adoration, which the Greeks call proschunesis: for he employs this term, which signifies literally to kneel and bow down, in a form of divine service."

Now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God,

Luke 3:19-20; Luke 4:Matthew 4:12, 17

Mark 1:14-15

Luke 3:19-20

12. And when Jesus heard that Jesus had been delivered up, [317] he withdrew into Galilee. 17. From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.

14. Now after that John had been imprisoned, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the Gospel of the kingdom of God: 15. And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the Gospel.

19. Now Herod the tetrarch, when he was reproved by him for Herodias, his brother's wife, and for all the wicked actions which Herod did, 20. Added also this above all, and shut up John in prison.

Luke 4:14-15

14. And Jesus returned by the power of the Spirit into Galilee, and a report went out through the whole country concerning him. 15. And he taught in their synagogues, and was glorified by all.

Luke 3:19. Now Herod the tetrarch. Luke alone explains the reason why Herod threw John into prison: though we shall afterwards find it mentioned by Matthew 14:3, and Mark 6:17. Josephus says, (Ant. 18, v. 2,) that Herod, dreading a popular insurrection and a change of the government, shut up John in the castle of Macherus, (because he dreaded the man's influence;) [318] and that Herodias was married, not to Philip, who was Salome's husband, but to another Herod. But as his recollection appears to have failed him in this matter, and as he mentions also Philip's death out of its proper place, the truth of the history will be obtained, with greater certainty, from the Evangelists, and we must abide by their testimony. [319] It is well known, that Herod, though he had been married to a daughter of Aretas, King of Arabia, fell in love with Herodias, his niece, and carried her off by fraud. This injury might possibly enough remain unrevenged by his brother Philip, to whom the same Josephus bears testimony, that he was a person of a mild and gentle disposition, (18:4:6.)

This history shows clearly, what sort of reward awaits the faithful and honest ministers of the truth, particularly when they reprove vices: for scarcely one in a hundred bears reproof, and if it is at all severe, they break out into fury. If pride of this sort displays itself in some of the common people, we have no reason to wonder, that cruelty to reprovers assumes a more hideous form in tyrants, [320] who brook nothing worse than to be classed with other men. We behold in John an illustrious example of that moral courage, which all pious teachers ought to possess, not to hesitate to incur the wrath of the great and powerful, as often as it may be found necessary: for he, with whom there is acceptance of persons, does not honestly serve God. When Luke says, he added this to all the evil actions which he did, he means, that Herod's malice is become desperate, and has reached its utmost height, when the sinner is enraged by remedies, and not only refuses correction, but takes vengeance on his adviser, as if he had been his enemy.

Matthew 4:12. When Jesus had heard. These words appear to be at variance with the narrative of the Evangelist John, who declares, that John and Christ discharged the office of public teachers at the same time. But we have to observe, that our three Evangelists pass over in silence that short space of time, because John's course was not yet completed, and because that course was intended to be a preparation for receiving the Gospel of Christ. And, in point of fact, though Christ discharged the office of teacher within that period, he did not, strictly speaking, begin to preach the Gospel, till he succeeded to John. Most properly, therefore, do the three Evangelists admit and declare, that the period, during which John prepared disciples for Christ, belonged to his ministry: for it amounts to this, that, when the dawn was passed, the sun arose. It is proper to observe the mode of expression employed by Luke, that Jesus came in the power, or, by the power, of the Spirit into Galilee: for it is of great consequence, that we do not imagine Christ to have any thing about him that is earthly or human, but that our minds be always occupied, and our feelings affected by his heavenly and divine power.

Mark 1:14. Preaching the Gospel of the kingdom of God. Matthew appears to differ a little from the other two: for, after mentioning that Jesus left his own city Nazareth, and departed to Capernaum, he says: from that time Jesus began to preach. Luke and Mark, again, relate, that he taught publicly in his own country. But the solution is easy; for the words which Matthew employs, apo tote, from that time, ought to be viewed as referring, not to what immediately precedes, but to the whole course of the narrative. Christ, therefore, entered into the exercise of his office, when he arrived at Galilee. The summary of doctrine which is given by Matthew is not at all different from what, we have lately seen, was taught by John: for it consists of two parts, -- repentance, and the announcement of grace and salvation. He exhorts the Jews to conversion, because the kingdom of God is at hand: that is, because God undertakes to govern his people, which is true and perfect happiness. The language of Mark is a little different, The kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the Gospel But the meaning is the same: for, having first spoken of the restoration of the kingdom of God among the Jews, he exhorts them to repentance and faith.

But it may be asked, since repentance depends on the Gospel, why does Mark separate it from the doctrine of the Gospel? Two reasons may be assigned. God sometimes invites us to repentance, when nothing more is meant, than that we ought to change our life for the better. He afterwards shows, that conversion and "newness of life" (Romans 6:4) are the gift of God. This is intended to inform us, that not only is our duty enjoined on us, but the grace and power of obedience are, at the same time, offered. If we understand in this way the preaching of John about repentance, the meaning will be:" The Lord commands you to turn to himself; but as you cannot accomplish this by your own endeavors, he promises the Spirit of regeneration, and therefore you must receive this grace by faith." At the same time, the faith, which he enjoins men to give to the Gospel, ought not, by any means, to be confined to the gift of renewal, but relates chiefly to the forgiveness of sins. For John connects repentance with faith, because God reconciles us to himself in such a manner, that we serve him as a Father in holiness and righteousness.

Besides, there is no absurdity in saying, that to believe the Gospel is the same thing as to embrace a free righteousness: for that special relation, between faith and the forgiveness of sins, is often mentioned in Scripture; as, for example, when it teaches, that we are justified by faith, (Romans 5:1.) In which soever of these two ways you choose to explain this passage, it still remains a settled principle, that God offers to us a free salvation, in order that we may turn to him, and live to righteousness. Accordingly, when he promises to us mercy, he calls us to deny the flesh. We must observe the designation which Paul gives to the Gospel, the kingdom of God: for hence we learn, that by the preaching of the Gospel the kingdom of God is set up and established among men, and that in no other way does God reign among men. Hence it is also evident, how wretched the condition of men is without the Gospel.

Luke 4:15. He was glorified by all. This is stated by Luke for the express purpose of informing us, that, from the very commencement, a divine power shone in Christ, and compelled even those, who cherished a malignant spirit of contradiction, to join in admiring him.


[317] "Que Jean estoit prisonnier;" -- "that John was prisoner."

[318] "Pource qu'il savoit que c'estoit un homme de grande authorite envers le peuple, et pourtant se dutoit de luy." -- "Because he knew that he was a man of great authority among the people, and therefore had doubts about him."

[319] The solution usually given, we believe, for this apparent discrepancy, is, that the name of the person in question was Herod-Philip. -- Ed.

[320] "Les rois, princes, et grans tyrans." -- "Kings, princes, and great tyrants."

And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel.
Now as he walked by the sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and Andrew his brother casting a net into the sea: for they were fishers.

Matthew 4:18-25

Mark 1:16-20

Luke 5:1-11

18. And Jesus, walking near the sea of Galilee, saw two brothers, Simon surnamed Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were fishers. 19. And he saith to them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men. 20. And they, having left their nets, immediately followed him. 21. And advancing thence, he saw other two brothers, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in the ship with Zebedee their father, mending their nets: and he called them. 22. And they immediately, having left the ship and their father, followed him. 23. And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the Gospel of the kingdom, and healing every disease, and every illness among the people. 24. And the report of him spread into the whole of Syria: and they brought to him all who were ill and afflicted with various diseases and torments, and demoniancs, and lunatics, and those that had palsy, and he healed them. 25. And great multitudes followed him from Galilee, and from Decapolis, and from Jerusalem, and from Judea, and from the country beyond Jordan.

16. Now, as he was walking near the sea of Galilee, he seeth Simon and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea: for they were fishers. 17. And Jesus said to them, Follow me, and I will make you to become fishers of men. 18. And immediately having left their nets, they followed him. 19. And advancing thence a little, he saw James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, who themselves also were mending their nets in the ship. 20. And immediately he called them: and they, having left their father Zebedee in the ship with the workmen, [333] followed him.

1. And it happened, while the crowd was pressing upon him, that they might hear the word of God, and he stood near the lake of Gennesaret, 2. And he saw two ships standing [334] at the lake: and the fishers had gone down out of them, and were washing their nets. 3. And entering into one of the ships, which was Simon's, he asked him to draw it a little from the land: and sitting down, he taught the multitudes out of the ship. 4. And when he ceased to speak, he said to Simon, Pull out to the deep, and loose your nets for catching. 5. And Simon answering said to him, Master, laboring through the whole night, we have taken nothing: yet at thy word I will loose the net. 6. And when they had done this, they inclosed a great multitude of fishes: and their net was broken. 7. And they made signs to their companions, who were in the other ship, that they might come and help them. And they came, and filled both the ships, so that they were sinking. 8. Which when Simon Peter had seen, he fell down at Jesus' knees, saying, Depart from me, O Lord, for I am a sinful man. [335] 9. For astonishment had overpowered him, and all were with him, on account of the draught of fishes which they had taken: 10. And in like manner James and John, sons of Zebedee, who were companions of Simon. And Jesus saith to Simon, Fear not: for henceforth thou shalt catch men. 11. And having brought the ships to land, and having left all, they followed him.

Matthew 4:18. And Jesus walking. As this history is placed by Luke after the two miracles, which we shall afterwards see, an opinion has commonly prevailed, that the miracle, which is here related by him, was performed some time after that they had been called by Christ. [336] But the reason, which they allege, carries little weight: for no fixed and distinct order of dates was observed by the Evangelists in composing their narratives. The consequence is, that they disregard the order of time, and satisfy themselves with presenting, in a summary manner, the leading transactions in the life of Christ. They attended, no doubt, to the years, so as to make it plain to their readers, in what manner Christ was employed, during the course of three years, from the commencement of his preaching till his death. But miracles, which took place nearly about the same time, are freely intermixed: which will afterwards appear more clearly from many examples. [337]

That it is the same history, which is given by the three Evangelists, is proved by many arguments: but we may mention one, which will be sufficient to satisfy any reader, who is not contentious. All the three agree in stating, that Peter and Andrew, James and John, were made apostles. If they had been previously called, it would follow that they were apostates, who had forsaken their Master, despised their calling, and returned to their former occupation. There is only this difference between Luke and the other two, that he alone relates the miracle, which the others omit. But it is not uncommon with the Evangelists, to touch slightly one part of a transaction, and to leave out many of the circumstances. There is, therefore, no absurdity in saying, that a miracle, which is related by one, has been passed over by the other two. And we must bear in mind what John says, that, out of the innumerable miracles "which Jesus did," (John 21:25,) a part only has been selected, which was sufficient to prove his divine power, and to confirm our faith in him. There is therefore no reason to wonder, if the calling of the four apostles is slightly touched by Matthew and Mark, while the occasion of it is more fully explained by Luke.

Luke 5:1. He stood near the lake. Matthew and Mark, according to the usual custom of their language, call it the sea of Galilee. The proper name of this lake among the ancient Hebrews was knrt, (Chinnereth;) [338] but, when the language became corrupted, the word was changed to Gennesaret. Profane authors call it Gennesar; and that part, which lay towards Galilee, was called by them the sea of Galilee. The bank, which adjoined to Tiberias, received its name from that city. Its breadth and situation will be more appropriately discussed in another place. Let us now come to the fact here related.

Luke says, that Christ entered into a ship which belonged to Peter, and withdrew to a moderate distance from the land, that he might more conveniently address from it the multitudes, who flocked from various places to hear him; and that, after discharging the office of teaching, he exhibited a proof of his divine power by a miracle. It was no unusual thing, indeed, that fishers cast their nets, on many occasions, with little advantage: and that all their fruitless toil was afterwards recompensed by one successful throw. But it was proved to be a miracle by this circumstance, that they had taken nothing during the whole night, (which, however, is more suitable for catching fish,) and that suddenly a great multitude of fishes was collected into their nets, sufficient to fill the ships. Peter and his companions, therefore, readily conclude that a take, so far beyond the ordinary quantity, was not accidental, but was bestowed on them by a divine interposition.

Luke 5:5. Master, toiling all the night, we have taken nothing. The reason why Peter calls him Master unquestionably is, that he knows Christ to be accustomed to discharge the office of a Teacher, and is moved with reverence toward him. But he has not yet made such progress as to deserve to be ranked among his disciples: for our sentiments concerning Christ do not render him sufficient honor, unless we embrace his doctrine by the obedience of faith, and know what he requires from us. He has but a slender perception -- if he has any at all -- of the value of the Gospel; but the deference which he pays to Christ is manifested by this, that, when worn out by fruitless toil, he commences anew what he had already attempted in vain. Yet it cannot be denied, that he highly esteemed Christ, and had the highest respect for his authority. But a particular instance of faith, rendered to a single command of Christ, would not have made Peter a Christian, or given him a place among the sons of God, if he had not been led on, from this first act of submission, to a full obedience. But, as Peter yielded so readily to the command of Christ, whom he did not yet know to be a Prophet or the Son of God, no apology can be offered for our disgraceful conduct, if, while we call him our Lord, and King, and Judge, (Isaiah 33:22,) we do not move a finger to perform our duty, to which we have ten times received his commands.

Luke 5:6. They inclosed a great multitude of fishes. The design of the miracle undoubtedly was, to make known Christ's divinity, and thus to induce Peter and others to become his disciples. But we may draw from this instance a general instruction, that we have no reason to be afraid lest our labor should not be attended by the blessing of God and desirable success, when it is undertaken by the authority and guidance of Christ. Such was the multitude of fishes, that the ships were sinking, and the minds of the spectators were thus excited to admiration: for it must have been in consequence of the divine glory of Christ manifested by this miracle, that his authority was fully acknowledged.

Luke 5:8. Depart from me, O Lord. Although men are earnest in seeking the presence of God, yet, as soon as God appears, they must be struck with terror, and almost rendered lifeless by dread and alarm, until he administers consolation. They have the best reason for calling earnestly on God, because they cannot avoid feeling that they are miserable, while he is absent from them: and, on the other hand, his presence is appalling, because they begin to feel that they are nothing, and that they are overpowered by an immense mass of evils. In this manner, Peter views Christ with reverence in the miracle, and yet is so overawed by his majesty, that he does all he can to avoid his presence. Nor was this the case with Peter alone: for we learn, from the context, that astonishment had overpowered all who were with him. Hence we see, that it is natural to all men to tremble at the presence of God. And this is of advantage to us, in order to humble any foolish confidence or pride that may be in us, provided it is immediately followed by soothing consolation. And so Christ relieves the mind of Peter by a mild and friendly reply, saying to him, Fear not. Thus Christ sinks his own people in the grave, that he may afterwards raise them to life. [339]

Luke 5:10. For afterwards thou shalt catch men. The words of Matthew are, I will make you fishers of men; and those of Mark are, I will cause that you may become fishers of men. They teach us, that Peter, and the other three, were not only gathered by Christ to be his disciples, but were made apostles, or, at least, chosen with a view to the apostleship. It is, therefore, not merely a general call to faith, but a special call to a particular office, that is here described. The duties of instruction, I do admit, are not yet enjoined upon them; but still it is to prepare them for being instructors, [340] that Christ receives and admits them into his family. This ought to be carefully weighed; for all are not commanded to leave their parents and their former occupation, and literally [341] to follow Christ. There are some whom the Lord is satisfied with having in his flock and his Church, while he assigns to others their own station. Those who have received from him a public office ought to know, that something more is required from them than from private individuals. In the case of others, our Lord makes no change as to the ordinary way of life; but he withdraws those four disciples from the employment from which they had hitherto derived their subsistence, that he may employ their labors in a nobler office.

Christ selected rough mechanics, -- persons not only destitute of learning, but inferior in capacity, that he might train, or rather renew them by the power of his Spirit, so as to excel all the wise men of the world. He intended to humble, in this manner, the pride of the flesh, and to present, in their persons, a remarkable instance of spiritual grace, that we may learn to implore from heaven the light of faith, when we know that it cannot be acquired by our own exertions. Again, though he chose unlearned and ignorant persons, he did not leave them in that condition; and, therefore, what he did ought not to be held by us to be an example, as if we were now to ordain pastors, who were afterwards to be trained to the discharge of their office. We know the rule which he prescribes for us, by the mouth of Paul that none ought to be called to it, unless they are "apt to teach," (1 Timothy 3:2.) When our Lord chose persons of this description it was not because he preferred ignorance to learning as some fanatics do, who are delighted with their own ignorance, and fancy that, in proportion as they hate literature, they approach the nearer to the apostles. He resolved at first, no doubt, to choose contemptible persons, in order to humble the pride of those who think that heaven is not open to the unlearned; but he afterwards gave to those fishers, as an associate in their office, Paul, who had been carefully educated from his childhood.

As to the meaning of the metaphor, fishers of men, there is no necessity for a minute investigation. Yet, as it was drawn from the present occurrence, the allusion which Christ made to fishing, when he spoke of the preaching of the Gospel, was appropriate: for men stray and wander in the world, as in a great and troubled sea, till they are gathered by the Gospel. The history related by the Evangelist John (1:37-42.) differs from this: for Andrew, who had been one of John's disciples, was handed over by him to Christ, and afterwards brought his brother along with him. At that time, they embraced him as their master, but were afterwards elevated to a higher rank.

Matthew 4:22. And they immediately left the ship. The first thing that strikes us here is the power of Christ's voice. Not that his voice alone makes so powerful an impression on the hearts of men: but those whom the Lord is pleased to lead and draw to himself, are inwardly addressed by his Spirit, that they may obey his voice. The second is, the commendation bestowed on the docility and ready obedience of his disciples, who prefer the call of Christ to all worldly affairs. The ministers of the Word ought, in a particular manner, to be directed by this example, to lay aside all other occupations, and to devote themselves unreservedly to the Church, to which they are appointed.

Matthew 4:23. And Jesus went about all Galilee. The same statement is again made by Matthew in another place, (9:35.) But though Christ was constantly employed in performing almost innumerable miracles, we ought not to think it strange, that they are again mentioned, twice or thrice, in a general manner. In the words of Matthew we ought, first, to observe, that Christ never remained in one place, but scattered every where the seed of the Gospel. Again, Matthew calls it the Gospel of the kingdom, by which the kingdom of God is established among men for their salvation. True and eternal happiness is thus distinguished from the prosperity and joys of the present life.

When Matthew says, that Christ healed every disease, the meaning is, that he healed every kind of disease. We know, that all who were diseased were not cured; but there was no class of diseases, that was ever presented to him, which he did not heal. An enumeration is given of particular kinds of diseases, in which Christ displayed his power. Demoniacs (diamonizomenoi) is a name given in Scripture, not to all indiscriminately who are tormented by the devil, but to those who, by a secret vengeance of God, are given up to Satan, so that he holds possession of their minds and of their bodily senses. Lunatics (seleniazomenoi) [342] is the name given to those, in whom the strength of the disease increases or diminishes, according to the waxing or waning of the moon, such as those who are afflicted with epilepsy, [343] or similar diseases. As we know, that diseases of this sort cannot be healed by natural means, it follows that, when Christ miraculously healed them, he proved his divinity.


[333] "Avec les ouvriers."

[334] "Stantes;" -- "et voyant deux nasselles qui estoyent pres du lac;" -- "and seeing two ships which were near the lake."

[335] "Homo peccator;" -- "homme pecheur;" -- "a man a sinner."

[336] "Quelque temps apresque Jesus Christ ent appelle a soy Pierre, Andre, Jean, et Jaques." -- "Some time after that Jesus Christ had called to himself Peter, Andrew, John, and James."

[337] "Ils ne s'amusent pas, esplucher de pres lequel est le premier, ou le second." -- "They do not give themselves the trouble of investigating closely which is first or second."

[338] Chinnereth occurs in Joshua, (19:35,) as the name of an adjoining city, from which the lake probably derived its name. In the French copy, our author gives it Cinerot, or, as we have it, (Joshua 11:2,) Chinneroth. But that word contains a Vau, which is here wanting: though it must be owned that, when it is connected with a Cholem point, that letter is often inserted, or left out, according to the pleasure of the writer. -- Ed.

[339] "Et c'est la coustume du Seigneur d'abbattre les siens, et comme les plonger dedans le sepulcher, afin de les vivifier puis apres." -- "And it is customary with the Lord to strike down his own people, and, as it were, to sink them in the grave, that he may raise them to life afterwards."

[340] "Il les prend en sa compagnie et conversation domestique, afin de les faconner a enseigner puis apres les autres." -- "He takes them into his society and private conversation, in order to prepare them afterwards to instruct others."

[341] "Pour suivre Christ des pieds, c'est a dire exterieurement;" -- "to follow Christ with the feet, that is to say, externally."

[342] Seleniazomai, like the adjective seleniachos, is derived from selene, the moon. Among, the Greeks and Romans, as well as among the Jews, certain violent diseases, the variations of which could not be easily explained, were supposed to be affected by the phases of the moon. Till lately, mental derangement was universally believed among ourselves to be influenced by similar causes; if indeed there be not some who still defend that opinion by plausible arguments. Scripture was not. intended to determine questions of physical science, in which inductive reasoning is a sufficient guide, but to declare those truths, which could never have been known without an express revelation. The term seleniazomenoi, in this and similar passages, does not imply, that the sacred writers supported the common opinion, any more than the English word lunatic, used with equal freedom by philosophers and by the unlearned, countenances an exploded theory, -- any more, in short, than the popular use of the phrases, the rising and setting of the sun, expresses a belief that it is the motion of the sun, and not of the earth, that produces the succession of day and night. -- Ed.

[343] "Comitiali morbo." The Romans gave the name of comitialis morbus to this disease, in consequence of the singular fact, that their comitia, or public assemblies, were instantly broken up, when any one present was seized with a fit of epilepsy. -- Ed.

And Jesus said unto them, Come ye after me, and I will make you to become fishers of men.
And straightway they forsook their nets, and followed him.
And when he had gone a little further thence, he saw James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, who also were in the ship mending their nets.
And straightway he called them: and they left their father Zebedee in the ship with the hired servants, and went after him.
And they went into Capernaum; and straightway on the sabbath day he entered into the synagogue, and taught.

Mark 1:21-28

Luke 4:31-36

21. And they entered into Capernaum, and immediately on the Sabbaths, entering into the synagogue, he taught. 22. And they were astonished at his doctrine; for he was teaching them, as one invested with authority, and not as the Scribes. 23. And there was in their synagogue a man liable to an unclean spirit, who cried out, 24. Saying, Ah! what have I to do with thee, Jesus of Nazareth? Art thou come to destroy us? I know thee who thou art, the Holy One of God. 25. And Jesus rebuked him, saying, Hold they peace, and go out of him. 26. And when the unclean spirit had torn him, and had cried with a loud voice, he went out from him. 27. And all were astonished, so that they inquired among themselves, saying, What is this? What new doctrine is this? for with authority he commandeth even the unclean spirits, and they obey him. 28. And immediately his fame went out into every part of Galilee.

31. And he went down to Capernaum, a city of Galilee, and there he taught them on the Sabbath-day: 32. And they were astonished at his doctrine: for his word was accompanied with power. 33. And there was in the synagogue a man having a spirit of an unclean devil: and he cried out with a loud voice, 34. Saying, Ah! what have we to do with thee, Jesus of Nazareth? Art thou come to destroy us? I know thee who thou art, the Holy One of God. 35. And Jesus rebuked him, saying, Holy thy peace, and go out of him. And when the devil had thrown him down in the midst, he went out of him, and hurt him nothing. 36. And trembling came upon all, and they talked among themselves, saying, What speech is this? for with authority and power he commandeth the uclean spirits, and they go out.

This demoniac was probably one of that multitude, which was mentioned, a little before, by Matthew 4:24. Yet the narrative of Mark and Luke is not superfluous: for they relate some circumstances, which not only present the miracle in a more striking light, but also contain useful instruction. The devil dexterously acknowledges, that Christ is the Holy One of God, in order to insinuate into the minds of men a suspicion, that there was some secret understanding between him and Christ. By such a trick he has since endeavored to make the Gospel suspected, and, in the present day, he is continually making similar attempts. That is the reason why Christ rebukes him. It is, no doubt, possible, that this confession was violently extorted from him: but there is no inconsistency between the two suppositions, that he is forced to yield to the power of Christ, and therefore cries out that he is the Holy One of God, -- and yet that he cunningly attempts to shroud in his own darkness the glory of Christ. At the same time, we must observe that, while he flatters Christ in this manner, he indirectly withdraws himself from his power, and in this way contradicts himself. For why was Christ sanctified by the Father, but that he might deliver men from the tyranny of the devil, and overturn his kingdom? But as Satan cannot endure that power, which he feels to be destructive to himself, he would desire that Christ should satisfy himself with an empty title, without exercising it on the present occasion. [344]

Mark 1:22; Luke 4:32. And they were astonished at his doctrine The meaning of the Evangelists is, that the power of the Spirit shone in the preaching [345] of Christ with such brightness, as to extort admiration even from irreligious and cold hearers. Luke says, that his discourse was accompanied with power, that is, full of majesty. Mark expresses it more fully, by adding a contrast, that it was unlike the manner of teaching of the Scribes As they were false expounders of Scripture, their doctrine was literal and dead, breathed nothing of the power of the Spirit, and was utterly destitute of majesty. The same kind of coldness may be now observed in the speculative theology of Popery. Those masters do indeed thunder out whatever they think proper in a sufficiently magisterial style; but as their manner of discoursing about divine things is so profane, that their controversies exhibit no traces of religion, what they bring forward is all affectation and mere drivelling: for the declaration of the Apostle Paul holds true, that the kingdom of God is not in word, but in power, (1 Corinthians 4:20.) In short, the Evangelists mean that, while the manner of teaching, which then prevailed, was so greatly degenerated and so extremely corrupted, that it did not impress the minds of men with any reverence for God, the preaching of Christ was eminently distinguished by the divine power of the Spirit, which procured for him the respect of his hearers. This is the power, or rather the majesty and authority, at which the people were astonished.

Luke 4:33. A man having a spirit of an unclean devil. This mode of expression, which Luke employs, conveys the idea, that the man was driven by the impulse of the devil. By the permission of God, Satan had seized the faculties of his soul in such a manner, as to drive him not only to speak, but to perform other movements, at his pleasure. And thus, when the demoniacs speak, the devils, who have received permission to tyrannise, speak in them and by them. The title, Holy One of God, was probably taken from a manner of speaking, which was, at that time, in ordinary and general use. The Messiah was so called, because he was to be distinguished and separated from all others, as endued with eminent grace, and as the Head of the whole Church.

Mark 1:26 When the unclean spirit had torn him Luke uses a milder phrase, when the devil had thrown him down: but they agree perfectly as to the meaning; for the design of both was to show, that the devil went out of the man in a violent manner. He threw down the unhappy man, as if he had intended to tear him: but Luke says that the attempt was unsuccessful; for he hurt him nothing Not that the attack was, in no degree whatever, attended by injury, or at least by some feeling of pain; but that the man was afterwards delivered from the devil, and restored to perfect health.

Luke 4:36. And trembling came upon all This is the result of the miracle. They are compelled to acknowledge that there is in Christ something more than man, and justly trace the glory and power of the miracle to his doctrine. What speech is this, they say, which even the devils themselves are forced to obey?

Mark 1:27 What new doctrine is this? They call it new doctrine, not by way of reproach, but as an acknowledgment, that there was something in it unusual and extraordinary. It is not for the sake of blame, or to lessen its credit, that they speak of it as new. This is rather a part of their admiration, that they pronounce it to be not common or ordinary. Their only fault lies in this, that they remain in their state of hesitation, [346] whereas the children of God ought to make increasing progress.


[344] "Mais pource que Satan ne pent endurer ceste vertue et puissance, aquelle il sait estre le destruire et ruiner, il voudroit bien que Christ se contenant d'un beau titre en l'air, se reposast, et se deportast de luy rien faire." -- "But because Satan cannot endure that power and might, which he knows to be to destroy and ruin him, he would rather wish that Christ, satisfying himself with a fine title in the air, should take repose, and refrain from doing any thing to him.

[345] "En la facon d'enseigner de Jesus Christ;" -- "in Jesus Christ's manner of teaching."

[346] "En leur doute et estonnement." -- "In their doubt and astonishment."

And they were astonished at his doctrine: for he taught them as one that had authority, and not as the scribes.
And there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit; and he cried out,
Saying, Let us alone; what have we to do with thee, thou Jesus of Nazareth? art thou come to destroy us? I know thee who thou art, the Holy One of God.
And Jesus rebuked him, saying, Hold thy peace, and come out of him.
And when the unclean spirit had torn him, and cried with a loud voice, he came out of him.
And they were all amazed, insomuch that they questioned among themselves, saying, What thing is this? what new doctrine is this? for with authority commandeth he even the unclean spirits, and they do obey him.
And immediately his fame spread abroad throughout all the region round about Galilee.
And forthwith, when they were come out of the synagogue, they entered into the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John.

Matthew 8:14-18

Mark 1:29-39

Luke 4:38-44

14. And when Jesus had come into Peter's house, he saw his mother-in-law lying in bed, and afflicted with fever. 15. And he touched her hand, and the fever left her, and she arose and waited on them. 16. And when the evening had approached, they brought to him many demoniacs, and he cast out the spirits by his word, and healed all that were diseased: 17. That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Isaiah the prophet, when he saith, He hath taken our diseases. 18. And when Jesus had seen great multitudes around him, he commanded that they should depart to the other side.

29. And immediately going out of the synagogue, they came, with James and John, into the house of Simon and Andrew. 30. And Simon's mother-in-law lay afflicted with fever and immediately they speak to him about her. 31. And approaching, he raised her, by taking her hand, and the fever immediately left her, and she waited on them. 32. And in the evening, when the sun had set, they brought to him all who were diseased, and who were possessed by devils. 33. And the whole city was assembled at the door. 34. And hehealed many that were ill of various diseases, and cast out many devils: and he did not permit the devils to say that they knew him. 35. And in the morning, while it was still very dark, Jesus, when he had risen, went out, and departed into a desert place, and there prayed. 36. And Simon followed him, as also those who were with him. 37. And when they had found him, they said to him, All seek thee. 38. And he saith to them, Let us go into the adjoining villages, that I preach there also: for on this account I came out. 39. And he preached in their synagogues in all Galilee, and cast out devils.

38. And when Jesus had risen out of the synagogue, he entered into Simon's house. And Simon's mother-in-law was held by a great fever, and they besought him for her. 39. And standing over her, he rebuked the fever, and the fever left her: and immediately rising, she waited on them. 40. And when the sun was setting, all, who had persons laboring under various diseases, brought them to him: and he, laying hands upon each, healed them. 41. And the devils went out of many, crying and saying, Thou art Christ, the Son of God. And, rebuking, he did not permit them to speak those things, that they knew that he was Christ. 42. And when it was day, going out, he went into a desert place, and multitudes sought him: and came even to him, and held him, that he might not depart from them. 43. To whom he saith, I must also preach the kingdom of God in other cities: for on this account am I sent. 44. And he preached in the synagogues of Galilee.

Mark 1:29. They came, with James and John, into the house of Simon and Andrew. There is reason to conjecture, that Matthew does not relate this history in its proper order: for Mark expressly states, that there were only four disciples who attended Christ. Besides, when he left the synagogue, he went straight to Peter's house; which also shows clearly, that Matthew did not observe, with exactness, the order of time. The Evangelists appear to have taken particular notice of this miracle; not that, in itself, it was more remarkable, or more worthy of being recorded, than other miracles, -- but because, by means of it, Christ gave to his disciples a private and familiar illustration of his grace. Another reason was, that the healing of one woman gave occasion to many miracles, so that they came to him in great numbers, from every direction, to implore his assistance. A single word, in Luke's narrative, presents to us more strikingly the power which Christ displayed; for he says, that Simon's mother-in-law was held by a GREAT fever. It was a clearer and more affecting proof of divine power, that, in a moment, and by a single touch, he removed a strong and violent disease. He might have done it by the slightest expression of his will; but he touched her hand, (Matthew 8:15,) either to mark his affection, or because he was aware that this sign was, at that time, advantageous: for we know, that he freely used outward signs, when the time required them.

Luke 4:39. He rebuked the fever. To a person not well acquainted with Scripture this mode of expression may appear harsh; but there were good reasons for employing it. Fevers and other diseases, famine, pestilence, and calamities of every description, are God's heralds, [347] by whom he executes his judgments. Now, as he is said to send such messengers by his command and pleasure, so he also restrains and recalls them whenever he pleases. The manner in which he healed them is not mentioned by Matthew and Mark: but Luke says, that it was by laying hands on each of them. Under the Law, this was a sign of reconciliation; and, therefore, it was not improperly, or unseasonably, that Christ laid hands on those whom he freed from the curse of God. It was also a solemn rite of consecration, as will afterwards be more fully explained. But I interpret Christ's laying hands on the sick, as meaning simply, that he recommended them to the Father, and thus obtained for them grace and deliverance from their diseases.

Matthew 8:17. That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Isaiah the prophet. This prediction has the appearance of being inappropriate, and even of being tortured into a meaning which it does not bear: for Isaiah does not there speak of miracles, but of the death of Christ, -- and not of temporal benefits, but of spiritual and eternal grace. Now, what is undoubtedly spoken about the impurities of the soul, Matthew applies to bodily diseases. The solution is not difficult, if the reader will only observe, that the Evangelist states not merely the benefit conferred by Christ on those sick persons, but the purpose for which he healed their diseases. They experienced in their bodies the grace of Christ, but we must look at the design: for it would be idle to confine our view to a transitory advantage, as if the Son of God were a physician of bodies. What then? He gave sight to the blind, in order to show that he is "the light of the world," (John 8:12.) He restored life to the dead, to prove that he is "the resurrection and the life," (John 11:25.) Similar observations might be made as to those who were lame, or had palsy. Following out this analogy, let us connect those benefits, which Christ bestowed on men in the flesh, with the design which is stated to us by Matthew, that he was sent by the Father, to relieve us from all evils and miseries.

Mark 1:34. He did not permit the devils to speak. There might be two reasons why he did not permit them: a general reason, because the time of the full revelation was not yet come; and a special reason, which we hinted at a little ago, that he refused to have, as heralds and witnesses of his divinity, those whose praise could have no other effect than to soil and injure his character. This latter reason is undoubtedly true: for he must have known, that the prince of death, and his agents, are in a state of irreconcileable enmity with the Author of eternal salvation and life.

Matthew 8:18 And when Jesus had seen great multitudes about him. Matthew, I have no doubt, touches briefly what the others explain in a more ample and copious narrative. The other two state a circumstance, which is not noticed by Matthew that Christ withdrew privately, for the sake of retirement, into a desert place, before it was daylight. Mark afterwards says, that Peter informed him, all seek, thee; and Luke says, that multitudes came to that place. Again, Matthew says, that he passed over to the other side, while the other two say, that he passed through all Galilee, to preach in every place. But the other side, or, the farther bank, (to peran,) does not, I think, denote what was strictly the opposite side, but refers to that curvature of the lake, which was below Capernaum. In this way, he crossed over to another part of the lake, and yet did not go out of Galilee.

Mark1:38. For on this account I came out. Luke 4:43. For on this account am I sent. These words deserve our attention: for they contain a declaration of his earnest desire to fulfill his office. But it will perhaps be asked, is it better that the ministers of the Gospel should run here and there, to give only a slight and partial taste of it in each place, or that they should remain, and instruct perfectly the hearers whom they have once obtained? I reply. The design of Christ, which is here mentioned, was agreeable to the injunction and call of the Father, and was founded on the best reasons. For it was necessary that Christ should travel, within a short period, throughout Judea, to awaken the minds of men, on all sides, as if by the sound of a trumpet, to hear the Gospel. But on this subject we must treat more fully under another passage.


[347] "Les sergens de Dieu;" -- "God's bailiffs."

But Simon's wife's mother lay sick of a fever, and anon they tell him of her.
And he came and took her by the hand, and lifted her up; and immediately the fever left her, and she ministered unto them.
And at even, when the sun did set, they brought unto him all that were diseased, and them that were possessed with devils.
And all the city was gathered together at the door.
And he healed many that were sick of divers diseases, and cast out many devils; and suffered not the devils to speak, because they knew him.
And in the morning, rising up a great while before day, he went out, and departed into a solitary place, and there prayed.
And Simon and they that were with him followed after him.
And when they had found him, they said unto him, All men seek for thee.
And he said unto them, Let us go into the next towns, that I may preach there also: for therefore came I forth.
And he preached in their synagogues throughout all Galilee, and cast out devils.
And there came a leper to him, beseeching him, and kneeling down to him, and saying unto him, If thou wilt, thou canst make me clean.

Matthew 8:1-4

Mark 1:40-45

Luke 5:12-16

1. And when he had come down from the mountain, great multitudes followed him. 2. And, lo, a leper, approaching, worshipped him, saying, Lord, if thou art willing, thou art able to cleanse me. 3. And Jesus, having stretched out his hand, touched him, saying, I am willing; be thou clean: and immediately his leprosy was cleansed. 4. And Jesus saith to him, See that thou do not tell it to any man: but go, show thyself to the priest, and present the offering which Moses commanded, for a testimony to them.

40. And a leper came to him, beseeaching him, and kneeling down to him, and saying to him, If thou art willing, thou art able to cleanse me. 41. And Jesus, having compassion, stretched out his hand, and touched him, and said to him, I am willing; be thou clean. 42. And when he had spoken, immediately the leprosy departed from him, and he was cleansed. 43. And threatening him, [487] he immediately sent him away; 44. And he said to him, See that thou say nothing to any man: but go, show thyself to the priest, and present for thy cleansing those things which Moses commanded, for a testimony to them. 45. But he, having gone out, began to publish many things, and to blaze abroad the matter, so that Jesus could no longer enter openly into cities, but was without in desert places: and they came to him from every quarter.

12. And it happened, while he was in a certain city, lo, a man full of leprosy: and when he had seen Jesus, he fell down on his face, and besought Jesus, saying, Lord, if thou art willing, thou art able to cleanse me. 13. And having stretched out his hand, he touched him, saying, I am willing; be thou clean: and immediately the leprosy departed from him. 14. And he commanded him that he should not tell it to any man, but saith, Go, show thyself to the priest, and present for thy cleansing as Moses commanded, for a testimony to them. 15. But still more did the report spread about him, and great multitudes assembled, to hear him, and to be healed by him of their infirmities. 16. And he sought retirement in the deserts, and prayed.

Matthew 8:1. And when he had come down from the mountain Matthew now returns to the course of the history. He had formerly said, that Christ went up into a mountain, (verse 1) then he threw, as it were, into one heap, many leading points of the doctrine of Christ; and now he adds that, about the time when he preached on the mountain, he healed a certain leper The same event is related by Mark and Luke, though they do not mention the time. It was a striking display of the divine power of Christ, that, by his word alone and a touch of his hand, he suddenly cleansed the man's leprosy. Now, though leprosy was a different kind of disease from elephantiasis, [488] (elephantiasis,) it is plain enough that it was difficult to cure. When it had continued long and become deeply seated, it rarely happened that any person recovered. Granting that physicians might, by their professional skill, have given some relief, it is manifest that there was nothing human about this miracle.

2. Approaching, worshipped What is the meaning of the verb proskunein, which is rendered in the Latin version, adorare, to adore or worship, may be easily learned from this passage. For the exposition of it we may rely on the other two Evangelists, of whom Mark says, that he fell on his knees, and Luke, that he fell down on his face The outward gesture of kneeling was exhibited by the leper as a token of reverence. Now we know, that such marks of respect were in general use among the Jews, as the people of the East are more addicted to that kind of ceremonies. Many people accordingly think, that the leper did not intend to render to Christ divine worship, [489] but gave him a respectful salutation as a distinguished prophet of God.

I enter into no dispute as to the feelings which moved the leper to pay reverence to Christ. But I look at what he attributed to him, that he was able to cleanse him, if he were willing By these words he declared, that he acknowledged a divine power in Christ: and when Christ replies, I am willing, he shows that he claimed more for himself than belongs to man. He who, by the mere expression of his will, restores health to men, must possess supreme authority. Whether the leper believed that Christ was the Son of God, or that he had received this power in the same manner as Moses and the other prophets, he entertains no doubt that he held in his hand, and in his power, the gift of healing. True, he speaks conditionally, if thou art willing, thou art able But this is not inconsistent with that certainty of faith, which God demands in our prayers: for men ought not to expect more than God promises. The leper had not learned by any inspired communication, or any promise of God, what Christ would do. It would have been improper in him, therefore, to go beyond these limits for though we sometimes read that certain persons prayed without any condition, we ought to believe that they were guided by special movements of the Spirit, [490] which must not be taken for a general rule. I am not even certain if we are at liberty to say, strictly speaking, that the leper offered a prayer. He only declares, that he is so fully convinced of the power of Christ, as to entertain no doubt that it is in his power to cure leprosy; and then presents himself to be healed, but uncertain as to the result, because he did not yet know the will of Christ. [491]

3. Having stretched out his hand, he touched Under the Law, the touch of a leper was infectious; but as Christ possesses such purity as to repel all filth and defilement, he does not, by touching, either pollute himself with leprosy, or become a transgressor of the law. When he took upon him our flesh, he did not only deign to touch as with his hand, but was united to one and the same body with ourselves, that we might be flesh of his flesh, (Genesis 2:23.) Nor did he only stretch out his arm to us, but descended from heaven even to hell, and yet contracted no stain from it, but, retaining his innocence, took away all our impurities, and sprinkled us with his holiness. By his word alone he might have healed the leper; but he applied, at the same time, the touch of his hand, to express the feeling of compassion. Nor ought this to excite our wonder, since he chose to take upon him our flesh, that he might cleanse us from our sins. The stretching out of his hand was therefore an expression and token of infinite grace and goodness. What we indolently read, and coldly pass by, cannot be duly weighed without great astonishment. The Son of God was so far from disdaining to talk to a leper, that he even stretched out his hand to touch that uncleanness.

4. And Jesus saith to him, See that thou tell it not to any one Some persons, by way of excusing the leper, think that Christ did not seriously forbid him to publish the miracle, but rather gave him an additional excitement to do so. Others more justly consider the reason of the prohibition to have been, that the full "time was not yet come," (John 7:6.) I do acknowledge, that to have suppressed this miracle would have been improper: but our Lord had a particular reason for wishing that the report of it should not be immediately spread, or, at least, not by the leper The leper was so far from deserving praise for the disorderly exhibition of his regard, that he ought, in my opinion, to be condemned for not obeying Christ's injunction. If he wished to express his gratitude to him to whom he was indebted for his cure, no better method could have been found than obedience, which God prefers to all sacrifices, (1 Samuel 15:22,) and which is the origin and foundation of lawful worship. This example shows us, that those who allow themselves to be guided by inconsiderate zeal act improperly, because the more eager they are to please God, the greater progress do they make in rebellion to his commands.

Show thyself to the priest As the ceremonies of the law had not yet been repealed, Christ did not wish that they should be despised or neglected. Now, God had commanded in the law that, if any man had been cleansed from leprosy, he should present himself to the priest with a sacrifice of thanksgiving, (Leviticus 14:2.) The design [492] was, that the priest, by his decision, might attest the benefit received from God; and that the person who had been healed might give an expression of his gratitude. Christ, therefore, by sending the leper to the priest, proves that he had no other object in view than to display the glory of God. The showing to the priest was for the purpose of examination, and the offering was the expression of thanksgiving. He wishes that the priests should examine the man, to make the divine favor manifest and undoubted; and that the leper, on the other hand, should acknowledge that God had healed him. Meanwhile, as I have just mentioned, he commands them to observe the ceremonies prescribed by the law, till the time when it should be repealed.

The attempt of the Papists to produce this passage, as an authority for their own confession, [493] is highly foolish. Leprosy, they allege, is put allegorically for sin; and the priests, who are consecrated by the Pope, are the judges of spiritual leprosy. [494] Even granting that this authority was conferred on the priests under the law, for the purpose of informing the people, that all their cleanness, and the decision respecting it, depended on the priesthood, still this is impiously claimed for themselves by the Popish priests. All the honor that belonged to the ancient priests is now claimed by Christ alone as his own. He alone is appointed to be the judge of spiritual leprosy, and entitled to receive, from those who have been cured, the offering for their cleansing. Under the law, a sacrifice was employed as the seal of cleanness, because satisfaction made by the shedding of blood is the only way in which men are cleansed. To transfer to another that right, which God has declared to be the prerogative of his own Son, is a detestable sacrilege. When the ministers of the Gospel, by the command of Christ, declare to sinners that they are cleansed from their sins, this must not be tortured into the pretended jurisdiction, which the priests imagine, of pronouncing a decision about leprosy. [495]

Matthew 8:4; Mark 1:44. For a testimony to them Some consider testimony to mean here a law or statute, as it is said in the Book of Psalms, God laid down this "for a testimony to Israel," (Psalm 122:4.) But this appears to me to be a poor exposition: for I have no doubt that the pronoun to them refers to the priests. [496] Christ said this, in my opinion, with a view to the present occurrence: for this miracle was afterwards to be a sufficiently clear proof for convicting them of ingratitude. There is nothing inconsistent with this in the command which Christ gave to the leper to maintain silence: for he did not intend that the remembrance of the miracle which he had wrought should remain always buried. When the leper, at the command of Christ, came into the presence of the priest, this was a testimony to them, which would render them inexcusable, if they refused to receive Christ as the minister of God; and would, at the same time, take away occasion for slander, since Christ did not neglect a single point of the law. In a word, if they were not past cure, they might be led to Christ; while, on the other hand, so solemn a testimony of God was sufficiently powerful to condemn them, if they were unbelievers.

Mark 1:45. So that Jesus could no longer enter openly into cities Hence we learn the reason why Christ did not wish the miracle to be so soon made known. It was that he might have more abundant opportunity and freedom for teaching. Not that his enemies rose against him, and attempted to shut his mouth, but because the common people were so eager to demand miracles, that no room was left for doctrine. He wished that they would all be more attentive to the word than to signs. Luke accordingly says, that he sought retirement in the deserts He avoided a crowd of men, because he saw, that he would not satisfy the wishes of the people, without overwhelming his doctrine by a superfluity of miracles. [497]


[487] "Et l'ayant menace;" -- "and having threatened him."

[488] "The burning ulceration, with which the great adversary of man afflicted the venerable patriarch Job, (2:7,) is generally understood to be the elephantiasis, or leprosy of the Arabians; and derives its name from its rendering the skin of the patient, like that of an elephant, scabrous and dark-colored, and furrowed all over with tubercles, loathsome alike to the individual and to spectators."--(Horne's Introduction, vol. iii. p. 328.) This quotation is made, because it seemed proper that a word of comparatively rare occurrence, which Calvin uses, should be defined, and its origin explained; and because that useful work, from which we have quoted, was at hand. Many of the most important topics embraced by the "Introduction to the Critical Study and Knowledge of the Holy Scriptures" have since been handled by writers of greater learning and research. Yet it would be ungrateful not to acknowledge that, at the time of its appearance, it supplied an important desideratum, that it probably led the way to other treatises, and that, as a popular and miscellaneous book of reference on Biblical literature, it is not yet superseded. -- Ed.

[489] "De faire a Christ un honneur appartenant a Ia majeste divine;" -- "to do to Christ an honor belonging to the divine majesty."

[490] "Qu'il y a eu en tels personnages des mouvemens singuliers, et inspirations particulieres du S. Esprit;" -- "that there were in such persons singular movements, and peculiar inspirations of the Holy Spirit."

[491] "Le vouloir de Christ sur sa requeste;" -- "the will of Christ as to his request."

[492] "Le but de ce commandement;" -- "the end of that commandment."

[493] Those who wish to make themselves acquainted with Calvin's views on the whole subject of what the Papists call auricular confession, will find them stated in the Institutions of the Christian Religion (B. III. c. iv. sec. 19.) -- Ed

[494] "Doivent avoir le jugement et la cognoissance de la ladrerie spirituelle;" -- "ought to have the judgment and discernment of spiritual leprosy."

[495] "De discerner entre ladrerie et ladrerie;" -- "of distinguishing between leprosy and leprosy."

[496] According to the view which Calvin rejects, the words, which Moses commanded for a testimony to them, mean, "which Moses delivered to them, that is, to the people of Israel, as a divine ordinance." The view which he adopts may be more clearly brought out by a different arrangement of the words. Present, for a testimony to them, that is, "to the priests," the offering which Moses commanded. -- Ed

[497] "Que quant et quant il ne fist tant de miracles, que cela les empescheroit de bien penser a la doctrine;" -- "without doing so many miracles as to prevent them from thinking properly about his doctrine."

And Jesus, moved with compassion, put forth his hand, and touched him, and saith unto him, I will; be thou clean.
And as soon as he had spoken, immediately the leprosy departed from him, and he was cleansed.
And he straitly charged him, and forthwith sent him away;
And saith unto him, See thou say nothing to any man: but go thy way, shew thyself to the priest, and offer for thy cleansing those things which Moses commanded, for a testimony unto them.
But he went out, and began to publish it much, and to blaze abroad the matter, insomuch that Jesus could no more openly enter into the city, but was without in desert places: and they came to him from every quarter.
John Calvin's Commentaries
Text Courtesy of Christian Classics Etherial Library.

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