For John was not yet cast into prison.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Was not yet cast into prison.—This Judæan ministry, then, preceded the Galilean ministry of the earlier Gospels. (See John 4:3, and Note on Matthew 4:12.)Luke 3:20. The mention of this shows that John was not imprisoned until some time after our Lord entered on his ministry. The design of John was to call men to repentance, and to prepare them for the Messiah, and this he continued to do after our Saviour commenced his work. It shows that a minister of religion should be industrious to the day of his death. John still toiled in his work not the "less" because the Messiah had come. So ministers should not labor less when Christ appears by his Spirit, and takes the work into his own hands, and turns many to himself. Matthew 14:3; and this circumstance shows, that these things were done before that journey of Christ into Galilee, mentioned in Matthew 4:12. For John was not yet cast into prison.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)John 4:2-3, and by taking the journey of Jesus to Galilee there related as the same with that mentioned in Matt
 It is supposed, indeed, that John simply wishes to intimate that what he records, vv. 22–36, must be placed before Matthew 4:12 (Hengstenberg). But in the connection of Matthew, there is no place for it before John 4:12.
John 3:24 corrects, in passing, the synoptic tradition, which John knew as being widely spread, and the discrepancy in which is not to be explained either by placing the imprisonment between John 4:2-3, and by taking the journey of Jesus to Galilee there related as the same with that mentioned in Matthew 4:12 (Lücke, Tholuck, Olshausen, B. Crusius, Ebrard, Hengstenberg, and many others), or by making the journey of Matthew 4:12 to coincide with that named in John 6:1 (Wieseler). See on Matthew 4:12. Apart from that purpose of correction, which is specially apparent if we compare Matthew 4:17 (subtleties to the contrary in Ebrard), the remark, which was quite intelligible of itself, would be, to say the least, superfluous,—unnecessary even to gain space for bringing Jesus and the Baptist again alongside each other (Keim), even if we were to venture to propose the suggestion, of which the text says nothing, that Jesus felt himself obliged, as the time of the Baptist was not yet expired, to bring the kingdom of God near, in keeping with the form which the Baptist had adopted (Luthardt, p. 79).
 It is supposed, indeed, that John simply wishes to intimate that what he records, vv. 22–36, must be placed before Matthew 4:12 (Hengstenberg). But in the connection of Matthew, there is no place for it before John 4:12.John 3:24. οὔπω γὰρ … ὁ Ἰωάννης, “for not yet had John been cast into prison”: a clause inserted for the sake of those who might have gathered from the synoptic narrative that John was cast into prison immediately after the temptation of Jesus, Mark 1:14, Matthew 4:12. John having been present with Jesus through all this period can give the sequence of the events with chronological precision.24. This corrects the impression, naturally derived from the Synoptists, that Christ’s public ministry did not commence till after the imprisonment of the Baptist. The whole of these first three chapters and part of the fourth must be placed before Matthew 4:12, where there are great gaps in the history.John 3:24. Οὔτω, not yet) Here the Evangelist takes for granted, what the others [Matthew, Mark, and Luke] bad written concerning the imprisonment of John the Baptist.—γάρ, for) Therefore John ceased to baptize, when he was cast into prison; not before.Verse 24. - For John had not yet been cast into the prison. This clause shows that the evangelist was alive to the apparent discrepancy which his account of a Judaean ministry might otherwise have suggested with the synoptic chronological initium of the Galilaean ministry. The remark shows that all that happened preceded that ministry, and equates the journey through Samaria with that mentioned in Matthew 4:12. Even Hilgenfeld says, "Involuntarily the fourth evangelist here testifies to his acquaintance with the synoptical narrative." In our opinion it was designed and spontaneous. The first journey to Galilee, mentioned in John 1:43, was not the commencement of a public prophetic ministry, and the synoptists are silent about it. The ἀνεχώρησεν, he "withdrew," shows that there was some reason for his abrupt departure, over and above what was stated. John gives the reason for the departure by John 4:1, 2, where the conduct of the Pharisees was becoming more watchful and jealous. The authority which John here assumes to correct and enlarge apostolic tradition, reveals the claim of one who professed unique knowledge of inexpugnable facts.
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