2. The gospel of the kingdom, 3:1-4:25

iv] Jesus commences his ministry


Having heard of John the Baptist's arrest, Jesus leaves the wilderness of Judea and heads for Galilee, making the center of his operations Capernaum, a Gentile area, rather than Nazareth where he grew up. Matthew next records the call of two groups of disciples who are to serve as laborers for the harvest. Matthew then describes, in general terms, Jesus Galilean ministry - he teaches in the synagogues and preaches, both in word and sign (healings), the news of God's coming kingdom.


Jesus' authority to inaugurate the kingdom of God is evidenced in his preaching and healing.


i] Context: See Matthew 3:1-12.


ii] Background: Presumably, after Jesus was baptized, he stayed in Judea and ministered there. We know little of Jesus' first year of ministry and Matthew says nothing of it. Only after the arrest of John does Jesus come to Galilee. For Matthew, the importance of this move lies in its fulfillment of prophecy and it is at this point that he decides to begin his account of Jesus' ministry.


iii] Structure: The light has dawned:

Jesus commences his public ministry, v12-17:

A strategic move into Galilee, v12-14;

Text - Isaiah 9:1-2, v15-16;

Jesus' gospel message, v17.

Jesus calls some disciples, v18-22;

A summary of Jesus' preaching ministry, v23-25.


iv] Interpretation:

In the passage before us Matthew tidies up the introduction to his gospel. In the introduction Matthew establishes that Jesus is the long-promised messiah, the Son of God, whose coming realizes the kingdom of heaven for the fulfillment of the covenant, and so it is that "the people who sat in darkness have seen a great light."

So, in this passage Matthew records Jesus' withdrawal from Judea to Galilee, he then gives a summary account of his preaching, the call of four of his disciples, and rounds off with a summary of his public ministry. First, Matthew records Jesus' move into Galilee, 4:12-16. He does not record Jesus' early Judean ministry which, from his baptism till his move to Galilee, probably lasted about a year. John's arrest triggers what is most likely a tactical retreat. As is typical, Matthew treats this move as a fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy. We are then given a shorthand account of Jesus' preaching, 4:17. It's as if Jesus takes up the Baptist's preaching ministry, proclaiming the coming of the kingdom, cf. 3:2. Finally, Matthew records the call of the disciples, 4:18-22. The order of the narrative demands that Matthew record, in summary form at least, the call of Jesus' disciples - a pattern typical of a disciple's call. Matthew then gives us a summary of Jesus' public ministry, 4:23-25. In this summary Matthew details the geographical extent of Jesus' ministry.


v] Exposition: A simple exposition of this passage can be found in the linked pew-level Sermon Notes.


Jesus commences his public ministry, v12-25: i] The commencement of Jesus' ministry in Galilee, v12-17. John's arrest not only prompts Jesus to move his base of operations, but also to change his ministry style. Making Capernaum the base of his operations, Jesus now takes on the role of an itinerant preacher and healer.

de "-" - but/and. Transitional; indicating a step in the narrative.

akousaV (akouw) aor. part. "when [Jesus] heard" - having heard. The participle is adverbial, best treated as temporal, as NIV, but possibly causal. The time lag between Jesus' temptation and the commencement of his ministry in Galilee could well be around one year, but Matthew makes no attempt to fill it out.

oJti "that" - Introducing a dependent statement of perception expressing what Jesus heard.

paredoqh (paradidwmi) aor. pas. "had been put in prison" - [john] was handed over = arrested.

anecwrhsen (anacwrew) aor. "he returned" - he departed [into galilee]. Presumably the move is political, Jesus could be confused as one of John's disciples, although Galilee, as is Perea where John was arrested, is in the territory ruled by Herod Antipas.


katalipwn (kataleipw) aor. part. "leaving [Nazareth]" - [and] having left, departed [nazareth]. This participle, as with elqwn, "having come", is attendant circumstance expressing action accompanying the verb katwkhsen, "he settled." Jesus moved to establish his headquarters in Capernaum, a larger and more significant town, although with a large Gentile population..

elqwn (ercomai) aor. part. "he went" - having come [he settled into]. Attendant circumstance participle, "he then left Nazareth and came to Capernaum."

thn paraqalassian adj. "which was by the lake" - [capernaum] situated beside the sea. Capernaum is situated beside the sea, and that is obviously the sense here, although see below, "the way to the sea", v15, means "on the way to the Great Sea" = the Mediterranean sea.

en + dat. "in [the area of]" - in [districts of zebulun and naphtali]. Local, space / sphere; "located in." The genitives "of Zebulun and Naphtali" are adjectival, possessive - the region that belonged to the tribes of Zebulun and Naphtali.


iJna + subj. "to [fulfill]" - that [might be fulfilled. Usually introducing a purpose clause, "he did this so that ...", Barclay, but here possibly consecutive, expressing result, "he did this with the result that the words of the Prophet Isaiah were fulfilled."

to hJhqen (legw) aor. pas. part. "what was said" - the thing said. The participle serves as a substantive.

dia + gen. "through" - through, by means of [isaiah the prophet]. Instrumental, expressing agency.

legontoV (legw) pres. part. "-" - saying. Here technically adjectival, attributive, limiting "prophet"; "Isaiah the prophet who said." The participle "saying", as a matter of form, will often precede a spoken or quoted word in the gospels. It is most often attendant circumstance, or adverbial, expressing manner. Most often it is redundant, and it is treated this way here by the NIV.


Isaiah 9:1-2, v15-16: Matthew follows the LXX in structure, but reflects a particular Hebrew text obviously known to him, see Nolland. Matthew reveals the Messiah's special association with Galilee. It is from this devastated and unwanted place that the light of salvation will begin to shine for Israel and the whole world. For Isaiah, the invading Assyrians may overwhelm the land occupied by the northern tribes of Israel, but out of this darkness a light will one day shine. Isaiah's prophecy of a light to the Gentiles is fulfilled in Christ's move to Capernaum, which event, of itself, heralds the coming kingdom. Jesus comes preaching the coming kingdom, v17, ie., he announces the imminence of the long-promised kingdom of God, the rule of God, a time of divine blessing and cursing, and so he calls for repentance and a reliance on divine mercy.

Zaboulwn "[Land] of Zebulun" - [land] of zebulun and land of naphtali]. This proper genitive is adjectival, possibly idiomatic / locative, "the land which is located in Zebulun", but more likely possessive, "belonging to."

qalasshV (a hV) "[the way] of the sea" - [way] of sea. The genitive may be treated as adjectival, idiomatic / local, "a thoroughfare that leads to the great sea." Blomberg notes that "way to the sea" and "along (better "across") the Jordan" "reflect the perspective of foreigners from the north east heading through Israel to the Mediterranean (as with the Assyrians' invasion that Isaiah consistently predicted)." BDAG suggests it serves as a local preposition + gen. here, with the sense "toward".

peran + gen. "along" - beyond, across [jordan]. Local, expressing space. "Across the Jordan" means "east of the Jordan" = Galilee, "on the way to the Mediterranean sea." "Across the Jordan", Moffatt.

twn eqnwn (oV) gen. "[Galilee] of the Gentiles" - The genitive is adjectival, attributive, limiting "Galilee"; "Heathen Galilee", Barclay. Jews only made up some 50% of the population of Galilee, but this may not be why Matthew quotes Isaiah. Jesus may be working primarily in a mixed population area, but his ministry is to Israel. Matthew "wants a scriptural text linking the Messiah and the Gentiles ..... so that the end will be foreshadowed in the beginning", Davies & Allison.


oJ laoV "the people" - Nominative subject of the verb "to see." Best understood as Israel, an Israel in exile, scattered among the Gentiles, lost.

oJ kaqhmenoV (kaqhmai) pres. part. "living" - the ones sitting, residing, settling. The participle is adjectival, attributive, limiting "people"; "the people who live in darkness."

en + dat. "in" - Locative, expressing sphere, metaphorical.

skotei (oV) "darkness" - Possibly moral bankruptcy, a common image, but here probably the darkness / light dichotomy of outside God's grace / under God's grace.

eiden (oJraw) aor. "have seen" - saw [a great light]. Matthew's use here of a punctiliar aorist indicates that the people have already witnessed the realization of Isaiah's prophecy in Christ.

toiV kaqhmenoiV (kaqhmai) dat. pres. mid./pas. part. "on those living" - [and] to the ones sitting [in the land]. The participle serves as a substantive, dative of interest, advantage.

kai "-" - and [shadow of death]. This conjunction is used here to exegete what is meant by "sitting in the land." Israel in exile lives in the shadow of death awaiting liberation. The genitive "of death" is adjectival, limiting "shadow", probably something like "deadly shadow." "For those living in the land, that is, those living in a deadly shadow, a light has dawned on them."

aneteilen (anatellw) aor. "has dawned" - [a light] rose up, sprung up. "The light has dawned", rather than the LXX's "shine", is Matthew's way of pointing to Jesus as the sign of Israel's coming liberation.

autoiV dat. pro. "-" - in them. The dative is local, expressing space; "the light springs up among them."


Matthew now gives a summary of Jesus' gospel message - Jesus proclaimed the dawning of the long-promised kingdom, v17: Mark's slightly expanded form states: "the time is fulfilled, the kingdom of God (heaven) is at hand (near), repent and believe the gospel." The message proclaims that the long awaited establishment of God's eternal reign, in and through his messiah, is close at hand / bursting in upon us. Although the people of Israel often understood the kingdom in terms of the restoration of the Jewish state, the prophets described something more than a new Davidic empire. God's important news states that the day has dawned when his messiah (the anointed one, the son of David...) will call together a people who will gather in the presence of the living God and dwell securely under his reign for eternity. Note, Jesus' gospel message is the same as the one preached by the Baptist.

apo tote "from that time on" - from then. Temporal prepositional phrase. Obviously signifying an important division in the gospel. A similar clause is found at 16:21, another significant point of division. Carson disagrees.

khrussein (khrussw) pres. inf. "to preach" - [jesus began] to preach [and to say]. As with legein, "to say", complementary infinitive, completing the sense of the verb "began". Is Matthew suggesting that that up till this time Jesus didn't preach? The impression is that Jesus takes over John's preaching work, including the message. Here obviously, only a summary of that message. On the other hand, some argue that "began" is a pleonasm, ie., a redundant word, an Aramaism says Turner. McNeile suggests it is a sectional identifier; "it either describes the beginning of a continuous action or marks a fresh start or phase in the narrative." So, we are bound to choose, either" then Jesus continued preaching", or "Jesus set about his preaching mission in earnest."

metanoeite (metanoew) pres. imp. "repent" - turn around. Expressing "a radical change in heart and mind", Davies & Allison. Not "repent and believe" as in Mark. Obviously, for Matthew, repentance, of itself, includes belief.

gar "for" - Introducing a causal clause explaining why people need to repent; "because the kingdom of heaven is at hand."

twn ouranwn (oV) gen. "[the kingdom] of heaven" - [the kingdom] of the heavens. Given that Matthew's designation "kingdom of heaven" is used out of respect for the divine person, the genitive would be classified as adjectival, possessive, since the kingdom belongs to God. Of course, if we take "kingdom" to mean "reign", then the genitive is verbal, subjective, "the reign of God." The kingdom is God's long promised (although not "fulfilled", as in Mark) eschatological reign which brings with it blessing upon the righteous / the repentant, and cursing on the unrighteous, cf. Isa.24:23, 52:7.

hggiken (eggizw) perf. "is near" - had drawn near. The sense here of the perfect tense, expressing the continuance of completed action, is not overly clear. The function of the perfect tense is now a matter of some debate; See Olmstead p66-67. A sense of "nearness" is best, possibly even "inaugurated", but Matthew probably sees the kingdom as future at this point in time in the narrative. "God has now set in process an advance arrangement for the coming of the kingdom", Nolland.


ii] Matthew now records the call of some of Jesus' disciples, v18-22. Lake Galilee (21klm. by 11klm.) had a prosperous fishing industry. Simon and Andrew were from Bethsaida and probably came to the area for employment. These men had obviously heard Jesus speak on a number of occasions and were now summoned to be "fishers of men" ("follow me" = be disciples - go with him, learn from him, and do his bidding). Interestingly, the image of fishing in the Old Testament is a negative one - gathering for judgement, Jer.16:16, Am.4:2, ..... Are the disciples to proclaim the gospel as a sword of judgement? The response of the disciples to the call certainly disrupts their lives, but it does not necessarily involve a break with family ties, or the disposal of their homes, fishing boats, etc, eg. 8:14, Jn.21:3, Ac.21:8.... In v21-22 we have a similar call to James and John, partners with Simon and Andrew. Matthew emphasizes the immediacy of their response to Jesus' call. These disciples / laborers are called to prepare the world / the crowd for the coming kingdom. The story serves as an example of how Jesus gathered his disciples. Interestingly, a disciple would usually chose their teacher, not the other way around.

peripatwn (peripatew) pres. part. "as Jesus was walking" - walking. The participle is adverbial introducing a temporal clause, as NIV; "while walking beside the Sea of Galilee."

para + acc. "beside" - by. Local, expressing space.

thV GalilaiaV (a) gen. "[the sea] of Galilee" - The genitive is adjectival, idiomatic / of identification, "the sea which is called Galilee", although often called "Tiberias", so possibly locative, "located in Galilee."

ton legomenon (legw) pres. pas. part. "called" - [he saw two brothers, simon] the one being called [peter and andrew the brother of him]. The participle is adjectival, attributive, limiting "Simon", "Simon, who is called Peter."

ballontaV (ballw) pres. part. "they were casting" - [he saw ......] casting [a net into the sea]. The participle serves as the complement to the accusative direct objects, "Peter" and "Andrew", of the verb "he saw"; "he saw Peter + Andrew casting a net." "They were making a cast into the lake", NJB; "they were occupied with throwing their nets out into the lake", Cassirer.

gar "for [they were fishermen]" - More explanatory than causal; "They were fishermen, so Jesus said to them, 'follow me and I will teach you to catch men", Phillips.


deute adv. "come" - here. Used as an imperative by Matthew 6 times with the sense "come here."

opisw mou "follow me" - [and he says to them, come] after me. Local, expressing space. "[Come] after [me]" in the sense of "follow" + gen. "of me", so "follow after me" = "be disciples of me / my disciples."

legei (legw) pres. "[Jesus] said" - says. Mark has an aorist, Matthew underlines the present ongoing action of the disciples mending their nets and Jesus speaking to them.

autoiV dat. pro. "-" - to them. Dative of indirect object.

poihsw (poiew) fut. "I will make" - [and] i will make. "I will appoint", cf. McNeile, possibly "I will teach you to catch men", Phillips.

alieiV (uV ewV) "fishers / to fish" - [you] fishermen. Complement of the accusative direct object "you" standing in a double accusative construction.

anqrwpwn (oV) gen. "of men / for men" - of men. The genitive is usually treated as verbal, subjective, "I will teach you how to bring in people instead of fish", CEV, but possibly adjectival, attributive, "fishermen who catch men", Barclay. An illustrative saying / metaphor which carries its own meaning. The image has OT precedence, eg., Ezk.47:10, and is reflected in Jesus' parables etc. cf., 13:47ff., of a net thrown into the sea which catches fish of every kind, of the sorting to blessing or cursing. To this end the disciples are "fishers of men", called to proclaim the coming day of judgment in the words of the gospel. "It is no longer a question of taking fish from the lake, but of drawing men up out of the abyss of sin and death, catching them in the great net of God", Dietrich / Morris.


euqewV adv. "at once" - immediately. Temporal adverb, expressing immediate action - an urgent call requires urgent action. Commentators will often read more into this action than is stated in the text, claiming that discipleship involves leaving all and following Jesus. The action is immediate, but the text does not support abandonment. The evidence is that those who owned property, including fishing boats, retained their property, cf., Acts 5:4. We often forget the words of the Master, "my yoke is easy and my burden is light."

afenteV (afihmi) aor. part. "they left" - leaving [the nets]. Possibly "abandoned", but best just "left what they were doing." The participle may be classified as adverbial, temporal, "at that they left their nets immediately", Cassirer, or simply attendant circumstance, "they left .... and followed."

hkolouqhsan (akolouqew) "followed" - they followed, followed on behind. Possibly "accompanied", but obviously "joined him as a disciple" is intended.

autw/ dat. pro. "him" - Dative of direct object after the verb "to follow after."


probaV (probainw) aor. part. "going on" - [and] having gone on [from there he saw two other brothers]. The participle is adverbial, temporal, "then going on from there", Moffatt.

ton "son [of Zebedee]" - [james] the one [of zebedee and John the brother of him]. The article serves as a nominalizer turning the genitive "of Zebedee" into substantive standing in apposition to "James". The genitive "of Zebedee" is adjectival, relational, or ablative, source / origin, "the one out of / from Zebedee"; "James the son of Zebedee", ESV.

en + dat. "in [a boat]" - in [the boat]. Local, expressing space.

meta + acc. "with [their father Zebedee]" - with [zebedee the father of them]. Expressing accompaniment / association.

katartizontaV (katartizw) pres. part. "preparing [their nets]" - repairing, mending, making fit, equipping [the nets of them and he called them]. The participle serves as an object complement, as in v19, complement of the direct object "two other brothers", standing in a double accusative construction. The word primarily means "mending / repairing", but can mean "preparing", as NIV.


oiJ "-" - the ones. "The two brothers."

euqewV adv. "immediately" - Temporal adverb, emphatic by position.

afenteV "they left" - leaving [the boat and the father of them]. Attendant circumstance participle expressing action accompanying the main verb "followed", "they left and followed." Note how Mark softens the leaving in that the brothers leave their father with the hired help. None-the-less, the leaving of family illustrates the cost of discipleship.

autw/ dat. pro. "him" - [they followed after] him. Dative of direct object after the verb "to follow after."


iii] A summary of Jesus' preaching and healing ministry, v23-25. In this second stage of Jesus' public ministry, he works with the Jewish population of Galilee. There are three elements to this ministry: teaching, preaching the gospel, and healing. Teaching is probably just gospel preaching in a synagogue. As for Jesus' healing ministry, it is often said that the healing ministry served to authenticate the gospel message, but it is better to see the miracles as the gospel in signs. Jesus' miracles, in themselves, proclaim the immediacy of the kingdom; "if I by the finger of God cast out Satan, then you know that the kingdom is close to you." News of the evidential coming of the kingdom in miracles spreads beyond Galilee.

It is possible that the next three chapters detail the substance of Jesus' didaskw, "teaching" ministry ("teaching in the synagogues", v23), but Matthew implies that the Sermon on the Mount is for his disciples; the message for the "crowds", whether in the Synagogue or in the open, was most likely the news of the coming kingdom / the gospel, which news was presented in parables as opposition grew.

perihgen (periagw) imperf. "Jesus went throughout" - [and] he went about. The imperfect is durative, expressing ongoing action, action in progress. Jesus' ministry begins in Capernaum and moves outward to cover the whole of Galilee. "He made a tour through the whole of Galilee", Moffatt.

en + dat. "[Galilee]" - in [all galilee]. Local, expressing space.

didaskwn (didaskw) pres. part. "teaching" - teaching [in the synagogues of them and preaching]. As with "preaching / proclaiming" and "healing", this participle is possibly attendant circumstance expressing action accompanying the main verb "went about", "he went around and taught .....", although best treated as modal, expressing the manner in which the action of the verb "went about" is performed; "he went about teaching, preaching and healing", as NIV. There is probably little difference between "teaching" and "preaching". "Teaching" is what a person would do in a synagogue, while "preaching" is what someone might do outdoors. There is little evidence that Jesus "word" ministry was synagogue-focused, but given that the synagogue is the natural place where spiritual matters were addressed, Jesus initially exercised his ministry in the local synagogue - until he was barred from doing so. Note that it is "their" synagogues. Jesus is a Jew so it is his synagogue. Possibly a reference to the authorities who inevitably restricted Jesus' use of the synagogue as a preaching platform.

ton euaggelion "the good news" - the important message. Accusative direct object of the participle "proclaiming, preaching." "News" yes, but "good" is assumed, given that it is not "good" for those who reject the "news". Some do argue that "good" is expressed by the prefix eu meaning "well / good", but the word has a technical use, referring to the important news carried by a message bearer. It's good to hear the news, but the news may not be good. Although this word is commonly used by Paul, it is only used 4 times by Matthew. For Matthew, it is all about preaching the kingdom.

thV basileiaV (a) gen. "of the kingdom" - The genitive is adjectival, probably best treated as epexegetic, specifying the news in mind, "namely, the inauguration of the eschatological reign of God." The important news from God, conveyed both by John the Baptist and Jesus, concerns the coming kingdom of God; it is at hand.

pasan adj. "[healing] every [disease and sickness]" - [and healing] every [disease and] every [illness]. Is "every" gilding the lily? As Jesus put it "if I by the finger of God cast out demons then you know that the kingdom of God has come upon you." The overcoming of darkness goes hand-in-hand with the realization of God's reign on earth and as such, Christ's healing ministry does not serve to verify the message, but rather proclaim the message in the form of signs.

en tw/ law/ "among the people" - in the people. The preposition is local, expressing space, "among", as NIV. Obviously, "the people of Israel."


hJ akoh (h) "news" - [and went out] the report. Nominative subject of the verb "went out." "His reputation spread throughout Syria", Phillips.

autou gen. pro. "about him" - of him. The genitive is usually taken as verbal, objective; "about, concerning him."

thn Surian (a) "Syria" - [into all] syria. Does Matthew mean the Roman province of Syria = Palestine? Certainly Jesus' reputation spreads far and wide.

proshnegkan (prosferw) aor. "people brought" - [and] they drove, led, brought... The subject is undefined, but presumably "friends and relatives brought."

autw/ dat. pro. "to him" - Dative of indirect object.

touV .... econtaV pres. part. "who were [ill]" - [all] the ones having [badly illness]. The participle may be classified as a substantive, so also "demon-possessed, those having seizures, and the paralyzed", but if the adjective pantaV, "all, every", is taken as a substantive, "everyone", then the articular participle would be classified as adjectival, attributive, limiting "everyone"; "everyone who has a severe illness."

poikilaiV dat. adj. "with various" - in various kinds, many colored. The dative is adverbial, reference / respect. "They brought him all that were suffering from this or that disorder and affliction", Rieu.

sunecomenouV (sunecw) pres. pas. part. "suffering [severe pain]" - [in/by torture/torments] constraining, controlling, restraining. The participle as for "having". In the sense of "bound by terrible torments", so possibly as NIV. "In the grip of varied diseases and pains", Barclay.

daimonizomenouV [daimonizomai] pres. pas. part. "the demon-possessed" - [and] being demon-possessed. The participle as for "having". "All those who found themselves ....... possessed by demonic spirits", Cassirer.

selhmiazomenouV (selhniazomai) pres. part. "those having seizures" - [and] the moonstruck, lunatic, epileptic [and paralytics and he healed them]. The participle as for "having". Interestingly, Matthew distinguishes this group from demon-possessed. Although usually treated as "epileptics", Morris notes that there is no reason why "lunatic" is not intended.


polloi adj. "large [crowds]" - [and followed him] many [crowds]. Nominative subject of the verb "to follow." "Many crowds" is probably not intended, rather "large numbers of people."

apo + gen. "from" - Expressing source / origin.

peran tou Iordanou "the region across the Jordan" - [galilee and decapolis and Jerusalem and judea and] beyond the Jordan. Trans-Jordan, east of the Jordan river; "from the other side of the Jordan [river]", Williams.

hkolouqhsan (akoleuqew) aor. "followed" - Followed, not in the sense of became his disciples, but possibly in the sense of making a move in that direction, so Nolland, although "curiosity seekers", Morris, is more likely.

autw/ dat. pro. "him" - Dative of direct object after the verb "to follow after."


Matthew Introduction



[Pumpkin Cottage]