Matthew 4




Matthew 4 depicts Jesus overcoming temptation in the wilderness, beginning his public ministry in Galilee, calling his first disciples, and gaining popularity through his powerful teachings and miraculous healings. This chapter marks the initiation of Jesus' earthly ministry.


  1. Temptation in the Wilderness (Matthew 4:1-11): After his baptism, Jesus is led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. Satan tempts Jesus three times: First, to turn stones into bread to satisfy his hunger. Second, to jump from the pinnacle of the temple, tempting God to save him. Third, to worship Satan in exchange for all the kingdoms of the world. Jesus responds to each temptation by quoting scripture, resisting the devil's temptations.

  2. Beginning of Jesus' Ministry (Matthew 4:12-25): Following the temptation, Jesus begins his public ministry in Galilee. He hears about John the Baptist's arrest and relocates to Capernaum. Jesus starts preaching, proclaiming the message of repentance and the arrival of the kingdom of heaven. He calls his first disciples, Simon Peter, Andrew, James, and John, who leave their fishing profession to follow him.

  3. Healing and Teaching (Matthew 4:23-25): Jesus travels throughout Galilee, healing the sick and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom. Large crowds follow him, including people from various regions, attracted by his teachings and miraculous healings.


4.1-2 The Temptation of Jesus


"Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil. And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was afterward an hungred."


Following His baptism, Jesus is led by the Holy Spirit into the wilderness. This wilderness is a desolate and challenging place, emphasizing the setting for a significant spiritual encounter. The purpose of Jesus being led into the wilderness is to face temptation by the devil (Satan). The Spirit's leading is intentional, and the subsequent events unfold as part of God's plan for Jesus' preparation for His ministry.


Jesus engages in an extraordinary period of fasting—forty days and nights. Fasting was a common practice in the Bible as a means of seeking God, self-discipline, and preparation for a significant event. In this case, it sets the stage for the subsequent temptations. The text highlights Jesus' physical condition after the extended period of fasting—he was hungry. This human experience of hunger becomes a key element in the subsequent temptations, as Satan exploits Jesus' physical vulnerability.


4.3-4 Temptation of Bread


"And when the tempter came to him, he said, If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread. But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God."


Satan, referred to as "the tempter," approaches Jesus during His weakened physical state after forty days of fasting. The devil begins the temptation with a subtle challenge to Jesus' identity, saying, "If you are the Son of God." This insinuation is an attempt to exploit any potential doubt or vulnerability in Jesus. Satan's specific temptation is for Jesus to use His divine power to turn stones into bread. This suggestion targets Jesus' physical hunger, appealing to His natural human desire for sustenance and comfort.


Jesus responds by quoting from the Old Testament, specifically from Deuteronomy 8:3. The quote from Deuteronomy 8:3 reminds us that the Israelites, during their wilderness journey, were tested similarly. Jesus, as the true Israel and obedient Son of God, responds faithfully where Israel failed. His reply emphasizes the priority of spiritual sustenance over physical needs. The quote affirms that true life is not sustained by bread alone but by every word that comes from the mouth of God. Jesus relies on the authority of Scripture to resist the temptation. Satan's challenge to Jesus' identity as the Son of God is a recurring theme in the temptations. In each case, Satan seeks to exploit Jesus' identity for his own purposes. The verses reflect how Satan can subvert our relationship with God through our humanity.


4.5-7 Temptation of God's Love For Christ


"Then the devil taketh him up into the holy city, and setteth him on a pinnacle of the temple, And saith unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down: for it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning thee: and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone. Jesus said unto him, It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God."


Satan was specifically targeting Christ's relationship with God. He referenced Scripture from Psalms 91:11-12 to tempt Jesus into testing God's love for His Son. It's the equivalent of saying, "If you love me, then you'll do X'. Additionally, it was no mistake to lead Christ to Jerusalem. Should Christ have fallen from such a high and publicly trafficked location, it would have garnered attention about Him in a way contrary to God's will thereby going against many prophesies about Him that still needed to be fulfilled. This was Satan's way of telling Christ He could "speed up" the prophecies about Him by testing God's love for Him.


Jesus responds by quoting another passage from Deuteronomy 6:16: "You shall not put the Lord your God to the test." In this reply, Jesus rejects the idea of deliberately putting God to the test by engaging in a reckless act to prove His identity and thereby fulfill prophecies about Him. The temptation involves testing God's protection by deliberately putting oneself in harm's way. Jesus rejects this notion, emphasizing that one should not manipulate divine intervention for personal validation.


Jesus' response reflects wisdom and obedience to God's will. He understands that obedience doesn't involve testing God or seeking signs for personal reassurance. Jesus, once again, responds with a quote from the book of Deuteronomy, indicating His deep knowledge of and reliance on Scripture to navigate and resist temptation. The setting of the holy city and the temple, combined with Satan's attempt to use religious language and Scripture, underscores the spiritual warfare at play. The adversary often distorts truth to lead individuals away from God.


4.8-11 Temptation of Kingship


"Again, the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, and sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them; And saith unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me. Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve. Then the devil leaveth him, and, behold, angels came and ministered unto him."


Satan takes Jesus to a very high mountain and shows Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. This temptation involves the allure of worldly power, authority, and dominion. Notably, Revelation 11:15 makes clear that


"...The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he shall reign forever and ever."


God promised Christ that the kingdoms of the world will eventually be given to Him forever. Satan offers Christ the world now, not later if Jesus would just worship him. This is a direct assault on Jesus' mission, as it suggests a shortcut to obtaining authority without going through the path of suffering and obedience to God. Jesus firmly rejects Satan's offer, commanding him to leave by saying, "Be gone, Satan!" Jesus then reinforces His response with a quote from Deuteronomy 6:13, stating that worship and service belong exclusively to the Lord God. His commitment to God's will and His recognition of the true source of authority are evident.


After the temptation, angels come to minister to Jesus, providing comfort, support, and care. This highlights the divine care and provision for Jesus after the intense period of testing, which still upheld Psalms 91:11-12 but through God's provision according to His Will.


4.12-16 Jesus' Ministry Begins


"Now when Jesus had heard that John was cast into prison, he departed into Galilee; And leaving Nazareth, he came and dwelt in Capernaum, which is upon the sea coast, in the borders of Zabulon and Nephthalim: That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet, saying, The land of Zabulon, and the land of Nephthalim, by the way of the sea, beyond Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles; The people which sat in darkness saw great light; and to them which sat in the region and shadow of death light is sprung up."


The passage begins by mentioning that Jesus heard about John the Baptist being put in prison. John the Baptist was a significant figure in preparing the way for the ministry of Jesus. His imprisonment marks a transition in the narrative. In response to John's imprisonment, Jesus withdrew to Galilee. This movement can be seen as a strategic decision, as Galilee was a region in the northern part of Israel. It was less politically charged than Judea in the south, where Jerusalem was located. Jesus specifically settled in Capernaum, a town located by the Sea of Galilee. This became a central location for many of his future teachings and miracles.


Matthew emphasizes that Jesus' relocation to Galilee fulfills a prophecy spoken by the prophet Isaiah in the Old Testament (Isaiah 9:1-2). The quote in verses 15-16 is a direct reference to Isaiah's words about a great light shining in the darkness. In Matthew's context, Jesus is identified as the fulfillment of this prophecy, bringing light and salvation to those in spiritual darkness. Matthew emphasizes that Galilee was known as "Galilee of the Gentiles," underscoring the idea that Jesus' ministry extends beyond the Jewish community, reaching out to the Gentiles (non-Jews).


4.17 Jesus Begins to Preach


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


  • "From that time on": This phrase indicates a significant moment in Jesus' ministry, marking a transition or turning point. It refers to the period after Jesus' withdrawal to Galilee, the imprisonment of John the Baptist, and the beginning of Jesus' public proclamation.

  • "Jesus began to preach": This emphasizes the core of Jesus' ministry—his role as a teacher and preacher. Jesus' message was central to his mission, and he often conveyed profound truths through his teachings.

  • "Repent": The term "repent" is a key theme in Jesus' preaching. It involves a change of mind, heart, and direction—a turning away from sin and a turning toward God. Repentance is a crucial step in responding to the message of the Gospel.

  • "For the kingdom of heaven has come near": The reason for repentance is tied to the proclamation of the nearness of the kingdom of heaven. In other words, Jesus announces that God's reign, or the rule of heaven, is at hand. This is a central theme in Jesus' teaching, emphasizing the arrival of God's redemptive and transformative power in the world.


4.18-22 First Disciples Are Called


"And Jesus, walking by the sea of Galilee, saw two brethren, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea: for they were fishers. And he saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men. And they straightway left their nets, and followed him. And going on from thence, he saw other two brethren, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in a ship with Zebedee their father, mending their nets; and he called them. And they immediately left the ship and their father, and followed him."


  1. Setting by the Sea of Galilee: The passage begins with Jesus walking along the Sea of Galilee. This was a common location for Jesus' ministry, as it was a populated area with fishermen and a significant backdrop for many of his teachings and miracles.

  2. Calling of Simon Peter and Andrew (verses 18-20):

    • Jesus sees two brothers, Simon (later called Peter) and Andrew, who were fishermen.

    • Jesus issues a direct invitation: "Come, follow me." This call to follow Jesus carries the idea of becoming his disciples and being intimately associated with his teachings and mission.

    • The metaphor of fishing is used: "I will send you out to fish for people." This signifies a shift in their purpose from catching fish to bringing people into the kingdom of God.

    • Immediately, Peter and Andrew respond by leaving their fishing nets and following Jesus. Their prompt response reflects the immediacy and significance of Jesus' call.

  3. Calling of James and John (verses 21-22):

    • Jesus continues along the shore and encounters two more brothers, James and John, who were with their father Zebedee in a boat, preparing their nets.

    • Jesus calls them, and similarly, they immediately leave their boat and father to follow him. This emphasizes the urgency and radical nature of the disciples' response to Jesus' call.


4.23-25 Jesus Begins Teaching and Healing


"And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all manner of sickness and all manner of disease among the people. And his fame went throughout all Syria: and they brought unto him all sick people that were taken with divers diseases and torments, and those which were possessed with devils, and those which were lunatick, and those that had the palsy; and he healed them. And there followed him great multitudes of people from Galilee, and from Decapolis, and from Jerusalem, and from Judaea, and from beyond Jordan."


  1. Jesus' Itinerant Ministry in Galilee (verse 23):
    • Jesus travels throughout the region of Galilee, which includes towns like Capernaum where he had settled earlier.
    • His ministry involves three main activities:
      • Teaching in Synagogues: Jesus imparts spiritual instruction and guidance in the synagogues, the local Jewish places of worship and community gathering.
      • Proclaiming the Good News of the Kingdom: He announces the arrival of the kingdom of heaven, preaching a message of repentance, salvation, and the transformative power of God's rule.
      • Healing the Sick: Jesus performs miraculous healings, addressing a wide range of physical ailments and diseases among the people. This demonstrates his compassion and divine authority.
  2. The Spread of Jesus' Fame (verse 24):
    • The impact of Jesus' ministry extends beyond Galilee, reaching the neighboring region of Syria. News about him spreads, drawing attention to his teachings and healing power.
    • People from various locations are drawn to Jesus, bringing those who are sick or afflicted with various conditions.
  3. The Diversity of Those Healed (verse 24):
    • The verse provides a list of ailments that Jesus healed, highlighting the breadth of his restorative ministry. This includes those with diseases, severe pain, demon possession, seizures, and paralysis.
    • The diversity of those healed illustrates the comprehensive nature of Jesus' healing ministry, addressing both physical and spiritual needs.
  4. Large Crowds Follow Jesus (verse 25):
    • Due to the widespread reports of Jesus' teachings and miraculous healings, large crowds from different regions start following him. These regions include Galilee, the Decapolis (a league of ten cities), Jerusalem, Judea, and the region across the Jordan River.