Matthew 4:17
From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.
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(17) From that time Jesus began to preach.—We have in these words St. Matthew’s record of the commencement of our Lord’s Galilean ministry. It is important to remember that it had been preceded by a ministry of some months in Judæa; that that ministry had been outwardly like that of the Baptist (John 4:1); and that He had withdrawn from it upon John’s imprisonment because He knew that His own growing fame had attracted the notice of the Pharisees. Taking the data given by John 2:13; John 2:23; John 5:1; and John 6:4, we are able to fix the time of His first appearance as a prophet in His own country in the autumn or winter of the interval between the Passover of A.D. 26 and that of A.D. 27.

Of the usual method of our Lord’s synagogue-preaching, Luke 4:17-21 gives us a representative example. To read the prophetic lesson for the day, to make that His text, to proclaim the necessity of repentance and the good news of forgiveness following on repentance, to bear His witness that “the kingdom of heaven” was not in the far-off future, but nigh at hand, in the midst of them—this we must believe was, at this time, as ever, the substance of His teaching and preaching. (See Notes on Matthew 4:23.)

Matthew 4:17. From that time Jesus began to preach — He had preached before, both to Jews and Samaritans, John 4:41; John 4:45, but from this time he began to preach publicly and statedly, and to insist on the same doctrine that John had done: and with good reason, for the repentance which John taught, still was and ever will be, the necessary preparation for that inward kingdom of heaven, or, of God, which is righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost. The phrase, however, is not only used with regard to individuals, in whom that kingdom is to be established, but also with regard to the Christian Church, the whole body of believers. In the former sense, it is opposed to repentance, by which it is preceded; in the latter, to the Mosaic dispensation. Our Lord now properly and fully entered upon his prophetic office; which consisted of three things: preaching, or making known the will of God; gathering disciples; and working miracles. The first of these he does here, and more largely chap. 5., 6., 7., and in his many parables and other discourses. The second, Matthew 4:18-22. The third, as being necessary to confirm his doctrine, on all occasions, from time to time, till his departure hence.

4:12-17 It is just with God to take the gospel and the means of grace, from those that slight them and thrust them away. Christ will not stay long where he is not welcome. Those who are without Christ, are in the dark. They were sitting in this condition, a contented posture; they chose it rather than light; they were willingly ignorant. When the gospel comes, light comes; when it comes to any place, when it comes to any soul, it makes day there. Light discovers and directs; so does the gospel. The doctrine of repentance is right gospel doctrine. Not only the austere John Baptist, but the gracious Jesus, preached repentance. There is still the same reason to do so. The kingdom of heaven was not reckoned to be fully come, till the pouring out of the Holy Spirit after Christ's ascension.See the notes at Matthew 3:2. 17. From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent; for the kingdom of heaven is at hand—Thus did our Lord not only take up the strain, but give forth the identical summons of His honored forerunner. Our Lord sometimes speaks of the new kingdom as already come—in His own Person and ministry; but the economy of it was only "at hand" until the blood of the cross was shed, and the Spirit on the day of Pentecost opened the fountain for sin and for uncleanness to the world at large.

Calling of Peter and Andrew James and John (Mt 4:18-22).

From the time of Christ’s baptism, or from the time that he heard that John was committed to prison, he, who before had preached and taught privately, and more rarely, began to preach more ordinarily and publicly, and the sum of his doctrine was the same with that of John the Baptist, confirming his doctrine, Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. See the sense of those words, Matthew 3:2 Mark 1:15.

From that time Jesus began to preach and to say,.... Not from the time he dwelt in Capernaum; for he had preached in Nazareth before he came there, Luke 4:16 nor from the time of John's being cast into prison; for he had preached, and made disciples, who were baptized by his orders, before John's imprisonment, John 3:22 John 4:1 but from the time that Satan left tempting him; as soon as that combat was over, immediately he went into Galilee, began to preach, and called his disciples. The words with which he began his ministry are the same with which John begun his; which shows the entire agreement between them, in that they not only preached the same doctrine, but in the same words; See Gill on Matthew 3:2 From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at {g} hand.

(g) Is come to you.

Matthew 4:17. Ἀμὸ τότε] from that time onwards—that is, after this return to Nazareth and Capernaum. It determines the commencement of the preaching not merely from Capernaum onwards. In the N. T. ἀπὸ τότε stands only here, Matthew 16:21, Matthew 26:16; Luke 16:16. More frequently in the writers of the κοινή, LXX. Psalm 93:2; Wetstein in loc. Not in classical writers. Phrynichus, ed. Lobeck, p. 461.

βας. τῶν οὐρανῶν] See on Matthew 3:2. Jesus in the presence of the people does not yet designate Himself as the Messiah, but announces in quite a general way the nearness of the Messianic kingdom, the divinely-ordained bearer of which He knew Himself to be; this is quite in keeping with the humility and wisdom of His first appearance, when He resumed the preaching of John. The view, that at the beginning He did not regard Himself as the Messiah, but only as a forerunner like John, and only at a later time appropriated to Himself the Messianic idea (Strauss, Schenkel), is in contradiction to all the four Gospels. But in His self-attestation as the Messiah He proceeded to work, according to the Synoptics, in a more gradual manner than He did according to John. Comp. Gess, Christi Person u. Werk, I. p. 247 ff.

Matthew 4:17. ἀπὸ τότεκηρύσσειν. After settling in Capernaum Jesus began to preach. The phrase ἀπὸ τότε offends in two ways, first as redundant, being implied in ἤρξατο (De Wette); next as not classic, being one of the degeneracies of the κοινή. Phrynichus forbids ἐκ τότε, and instructs to say rather ἐξ ἐκείνου (Lobeck’s ed., p. 45).—κηρύσσειν, the same word as in describing the ministry of the Baptist (Matthew 3:1). And the message is the same—Μετανοεῖτε, etc. “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” The same in word but not in thought, as will appear soon. It may seem as if the evangelist meant to represent Jesus as simply taking up and continuing the arrested ministry of the Baptist. So He was in form and to outward appearance, but not in spirit. From the very first, as has been seen even in connection with the baptism, there was a deep-seated difference between the two preachers. Even Euthy. Zig. understood this, monk though he was. Repent, he says, with John meant “in so far as ye have erred” = amendment; with Jesus, “from the old to the new” (ἀπὸ τῆς παλαιᾶς ἐπὶ τὴν καινήν) =a change from within. For the evangelist this was the absolute beginning of Christ’s ministry. He knows nothing of an earlier activity.

17. For Metanoia (Repentance) and the Basileia (Kingdom), which are the key-notes of our Saviour’s preaching, see note, ch. Matthew 3:2.

17–22. The Call of Peter and Andrew and of the sons of Zebedee. See Mark 1:16-20In Luke Simon is mentioned without any introduction, ch. Luke 4:38. The narrative of Luke 5:3-11 must be referred to a different occasion, though Luke 5:11 corresponds with Matthew 4:22 of this chapter. St Luke adds that the sons of Zebedee were partners with Simon. John, Luke 1:35-42, refers to a previous summons. We learn there that Andrew was a disciple of John the Baptist, and that Bethsaida was the city of Andrew and Peter.

Matthew 4:17. Ἤρξατο, began)[157] A word of frequent occurrence. It indicates the commencement of an action to be often repeated, or of one deliberate and ample, or even of long continuance.—ἡ βασιλεία, the kingdom) It is an example of elegance in the Divine style, that first the kingdom should be said to have come in the abstract, then the King or Messiah in the concrete. The former mode of expression suits the hidden beginnings, the latter the triumphant consummation, [of the Gospel Dispensation].—Cf. Gnomon on Luke 1:35, and 2 Thessalonians 2:3.—ἡ βασιλεία τῶν οὐρανῶν, the kingdom of the Heavens) i.e., the kingdom of God (cf. ch. Matthew 5:3, with Luke 6:20); for it is called also thus by St Matthew, sometimes, as his book proceeds, and is always thus denominated in the other books of the New Testament,[158] e.g. Acts 1:3; Acts 28:31, and Romans 14:17. The Metonomy by which Heaven is substituted for God, is of frequent occurrence, and very suitable to the first times of the Gospel.—See ch. Matthew 3:2. By the expression, “The Kingdom of the Heavens,” which is almost peculiar to the books of the New Testament, the hope of an earthly kingdom was cut away,[159] and all were invited to Heavenly things. It is thus called with a regard to its final consummation.—See Luke 21:31, and Acts 1:3.

[157] “Jesus had indeed begun to teach in the schools at Nazareth before He had come thence to Capernaum (see Luke 4:16), but now raising His voice, He betook Himself to κήρυγμα also, or proclaiming the kingdom of GOD. The King Himself acted as His own herald.”—B. H. E., p. 190.

[158] The Kingdom of the heavens, Repentance, and the Gospel, are three terms which are found most frequently, not only in St Matthew, but also in SS. Mark and Luke; but never in the Gospel of John. But the latter propounds the same truths substantially by very graceful modes of expression. He no doubt uses the phrase, the Kingdom of God, in accordance with the custom of the rest of the Evangelists, but only in the conference with Nicodemus; indicating that same truth by implication, when Jesus is described as the Song of Solomon of God. as the Life, as the Light, as the Bridegroom, as He into whose hands the Father hath given all things, to whom He hath committed power over all flesh, as also all judgment; who, in fine, is to draw all men to Himself, and such like declarations. John intimates Repentance, when he urges on us the birth from above, the need of coming to Jesus, and having faith in Him, etc. That which he delights in terming the Testimony, is the same thing as the Gospel. These his variations of phraseology are calculated to edify the attentive reader, provided only that we do not fasten wholly on the mere words, but admit their power to pervade the inmost recesses of the heart.—Harm., p. 190, 191.

[159] “Præcidebatur.”—(I. B.)

Verse 17-16:20. - THE FIRST STAGE OF CHRIST'S WORK AND TEACHING. Verse 17 - The proclamation. From that time; ἀπὸ τότε (elsewhere in the New Testament only Matthew 16:21; Matthew 26:16; Luke 16:16); i.e. from the time of his residence in Capernaum (ver. 13). Apparently our Lord, after the baptism, went to John (vide supra, ver. 1), then retired to Galilee, going first to Nazareth, then finally leaving it as his home for Capernaum. At Caper-nauru his public activity begins. From that time; the phrase expresses not merely "at that time," but "from that time," as the starting-point. Henceforth this was to be his message, even though its form might be altered. The phrase marks, as in Matthew 16:21, the commencement of a new stage in his life. His earlier work with John the Baptist is not included in the oral Gospel, probably because the twelve were not yet joined to him in formal and continuous adhesion. Repent, etc. His words are exactly the same as the Baptist's (Matthew 3:2), with whom, indeed, he had been very lately associated. There is no evidence that he meant by them anything else than the Baptist meant (cf. Introduction, p. 24.). It is very intelligible that quite early (Old Syriac) an attempt should be made to harmonize this summary of his preaching rather with that of his disciples (Matthew 10:7). Matthew 4:17To preach (κηρύσσειν)

Originally, to discharge the duty of a herald (κήρυξ); hence to cry out, proclaim, (see on 2 Peter 2:5). The standing expression in the New Testament for the proclamation of the Gospel; but confined to the primary announcement of the message and facts of salvation, and not including continuous instruction in the contents and connections of the message, which is expressed by διδάσκειν (to teach). Both words are used in Matthew 4:23; Matthew 9:35; Matthew 11:1).

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