Matthew 4:12
Now when Jesus had heard that John was cast into prison, he departed into Galilee;
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(12) Between the 11th and 12th verses there is a great break, and it is well to remember what passed in the interval: (1) the return to the Baptist, and the call of the six disciples (John 1:29-51); (2) the marriage at Cana, and the visit to Capernaum (John 2:1-12); (3) the cleansing of the Temple; the interview with Nicodemus, and the last testimony of the Baptist (John 2:13 to John 3:36). At this stage comes in the imprisonment of John (mentioned here, but not narrated till 14:3-5) and the consequent journey through Samaria to Galilee (John 4:1-42). The verse now before us may be noted as implying a ministry in Judæa, which for some reason the writer does not narrate.

Matthew 4:12. Now when Jesus had heard that John was cast into prison — Namely, for reproving Herod Antipas, tetrarch of Galilee, for taking his brother Philip’s wife, and for other evils, Matthew 14:3-4 : he departed into Galilee — Viz., from Judea. This it seems he did, partly to avoid the envy of the Pharisees, John 4:3, and partly to encourage John’s disciples, and to continue the preaching interrupted by his confinement, being desirous to improve those good impressions which the ministry of John had made on the minds of the people, and which would not be erased but deepened by the injurious things they saw him suffer. Thus it becomes one messenger of God to carry on the work begun by another. But it is to be observed, that this was not the first, but the second time of Jesus’s going into Galilee. Nor did he take this journey immediately upon his temptation; but at some distance of time: viz., after the events had taken place which are recorded in the latter part of the first, and in the second and third chapters of John’s gospel. His first journey from Judea into Galilee is mentioned John 1:43; John 2:1. Then he went into Judea again, and celebrated the passover at Jerusalem, John 2:13. He baptized in Judea, while John was baptizing at Enon, John 3:22-23. All this time John was at liberty. But the Pharisees being offended, chap. Matthew 4:1, and John put in prison, he then took this journey into Galilee.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.John was cast into prison - For an account of the imprisonment of John see Matthew 14:1-13.

He departed into Galilee - See Matthew 2:22. The reasons why Jesus then went into Galilee were probably:

1. Because the attention of the people had been much excited by John's preaching, and things seemed to be favorable for success in his own ministry.

2. It appeared desirable to have some one to second John in the work of reformation.

3. It was less dangerous for him to commence his labors there than near Jerusalem. Judea was under the dominion of the scribes, and Pharisees, and priests. They would naturally look with envy on any one who set himself up for a public teacher, and who should attract much attention there. It was important, therefore, that the work of Jesus should begin in Galilee, and become somewhat established and known before he went to Jerusalem.

Mt 4:12-25. Christ Begins His Galilean Ministry—Calling of Peter and Andrew, James and John—His First Galilean Circuit. ( = Mr 1:14-20, 35-39; Lu 4:14, 15).

There is here a notable gap in the history, which but for the fourth Gospel we should never have discovered. From the former Gospels we should have been apt to draw three inferences, which from the fourth one we know to be erroneous: First, that our Lord awaited the close of John's ministry, by his arrest and imprisonment, before beginning His own; next, that there was but a brief interval between the baptism of our Lord and the imprisonment of John; and further, that our Lord not only opened His work in Galilee, but never ministered out of it, and never visited Jerusalem at all nor kept a passover till He went thither to become "our Passover, sacrificed for us." The fourth Gospel alone gives the true succession of events; not only recording those important openings of our Lord's public work which preceded the Baptist's imprisonment—extending to the end of the third chapter—but so specifying the passover which occurred during our Lord's ministry as to enable us to line off, with a large measure of certainty, the events of the first three Gospels according to the successive passovers which they embraced. Eusebius, the ecclesiastical historian, who, early in the fourth century, gave much attention to this subject, in noticing these features of the Evangelical Records, says [Ecclesiastical History, 3.24] that John wrote his Gospel at the entreaty of those who knew the important materials he possessed, and filled up what is wanting in the first three Gospels. Why it was reserved for the fourth Gospel, published at so late a period, to supply such important particulars in the life of Christ, it is not easy to conjecture with any probability. It may be, that though not unacquainted with the general facts, they were not furnished with reliable details. But one thing may be affirmed with tolerable certainty, that as our Lord's teaching at Jerusalem was of a depth and grandeur scarcely so well adapted to the prevailing character of the first three Gospels, but altogether congenial to the fourth; and as the bare mention of the successive passovers, without any account of the transactions and discourses they gave rise to, would have served little purpose in the first three Gospels, there may have been no way of preserving the unity and consistency of each Gospel, so as to furnish by means of them all the precious information we get from them, save by the plan on which they are actually constructed.

Entry into Galilee (Mt 4:12-17).

12. Now when Jesus had heard that John was cast into prison—more simply, "was delivered up," as recorded in Mt 14:3-5; Mr 6:17-20; Lu 3:19, 20.

he departed—rather, "withdrew."

into Galilee—as recorded, in its proper place, in Joh 4:1-3.

John was some time after this cast into prison, for his free reproving Herod Antipas, the tetrarch of Galilee, for taking Herodias his brother Philip’s wife, and other evils, Matthew 14:3,4 Mr 6:17 Luke 3:19,20. Jesus heard of this accident, and

departed into Galilee. There were many things happened between Christ’s temptations and this his motion into Galilee, which are omitted by all the evangelists except John, and by him recorded in his four first chapters. Neither by Galilee must we understand the Nether Galilee, which was within the jurisdiction of Herod, but the Upper Galilee, called Galilee of the Gentiles, Matthew 4:15, in the borders of Zebulun and Naphtali, which was in the jurisdiction of Philip, a man of a less bloody disposition. Others make it under Herod’s jurisdiction, but where the Pharisees had less to do than in Judea. Our Saviour doth not out of cowardice avoid danger, but he knew his time was not yet come. But some judicious interpreters think that our Saviour first went into the Lower Galilee, and from thence soon after into the Upper Galilee: that which makes this more probable is the next words, And leaving Nazareth, he came and dwelt in Capernaum; so as it should seem he first went to Nazareth, which was in the Lower Galilee. Now, when Jesus had heard that John was cast into prison,.... John was cast into prison by Herod; the reason of it may be seen in Matthew 14:3. The prison into which he was cast, according to Josephus (s), was the castle of Machaeras: here he continued some time before he was put to death; for from hence he sent two disciples to Jesus, to know if he was the Messiah, Matthew 11:2. Now when Jesus heard of this his imprisonment,

he departed into Galilee; not so much on account of safety, or for fear of Herod, but to call his disciples, who lived in that country.

(s) Antiq. l. 18. c. 7.

{2} Now when Jesus had heard that John was cast into prison, he departed into Galilee;

(2) When the Herald's mouth is stopped, the Lord reveals himself and brings full light into the darkness of this world, preaching free forgiveness of sins for those that repent.

Matthew 4:12. Fritzsche gives the sense and connection of Matthew 4:12-16 thus: “Post conditi in carcerem Johannis famam discessit Jesus in Galilaeam, et relicta Nazaretha Capharnaumi quidem consedit, ut, quemadmodum apud prophetam est, magnis, amisso Johanne, tenebris oppressi Galilaei splendida Messiae luce fruerentur.” But it appears, from the words in Matthew 4:12, that Jesus, upon learning that the Baptist had been delivered over to Herod, deemed it dangerous to appear in the same district where the latter had baptized and excited so much attention, and that therefore He withdrew into the more remote Galilee (comp. Matthew 12:15, Matthew 14:13). This belonged, indeed, to the dominion of Herod Antipas, who had caused the Baptist to be apprehended (Matthew 14:3); but it removed Jesus more from his attention and that of the hierarchical party, and gave Him the natural retirement of home. According to John 3:24, John had not yet been apprehended, and the journey to Galilee was occasioned by the marriage at Cana (Matthew 2:1). In Luke 4:14 no external reason is stated for the journey, which is a later avoidance of the inaccurajcy of the earlier tradition (retained in Mark and Matthew) (in answer to Schneckenburger). The contradiction, however, between Matthew and John is to be recognised, and to the latter is to be assigned the preference in point of accuracy.[392] Comp. on John 3:24. A longer intervening period between the temptation and the return to Galilee is not hinted at by Matthew (nor even by Mark), and is excluded by Luke.

[392] We cannot say that it is the journey to Galilee, John 6:1, which is intended in our passage (Wieseler, chronol. Synopse, p. 161 f., and Beitr. z. Würdig. d. Eu. p. 174 ff.), for that Matthew conceived the journey recorded by him as the first after the sojourn in the wilderness, is shown not only by the whole context, but also by ver. 13 ff., where the settling down at Capernaum is related, and the reason assigned for it; and by ver. 17, where Jesus first actually begins His office as teacher. This holds good against the frequent assumption that the journey to Galilee, Matthew 4:12, coincides with John 4:3; John 4:43-45 (Kuhn, Ebrard, Lange, Märcker, Uebereinst. d. Matth. u. Joh., 1868, p. 9). Exegetically, the discrepancy must remain a blank, which is also recognised by Bleek and Keim; by the latter, however, in such a way that he denies to John’s account a strictly historical character.Matthew 4:12-25. Beginnings of the Galilean ministry (Mark 1:14-15; Luke 4:14-15). In a few rapid strokes the evangelist describes the opening of the Messianic work of Jesus in Galilee. He has in view the great Sermon on the Mount, and the group of wonderful deeds he means thereafter to report, and he gives first a summary description of Christ’s varied activities by way of introduction.12. when Jesus had heard] probably also because he had heard. It was a needful precaution against the cruel treachery of Herod Antipas. At Capernaum He would be close to the dominions of Herod Philip.

John was cast into prison] at Machærus. The cause of John’s imprisonment is stated at length ch. Matthew 14:3-4 (where see note) and Luke 3:19-20.

On hearing of the death of John the Baptist Jesus retired into the wilderness. See ch. Matthew 14:13.

departed into Galilee] by the shortest route through Samaria. John 4:4. During this journey must be placed the conversation with the woman of Samaria. This was after a ministry in Judæa, which had lasted eight months (Ellicott, Lectures on the life of our Lord, p. 130), some incidents of which are related by St John , 2, 3.

Galilee] = a circle or circuit originally confined to a “circle” of 20 cities given by Solomon to Hiram 1 Kings 9:11. Cp. Joshua 20:7. From this small beginning the name spread to a larger district, just as the name of Asia spread from a district near the Mæander, first to the Roman Province, then to a quarter of the Globe. The Jews were in a minority in those parts. The population mainly consisted of Phœnicians, Arabs, and Greeks.

12–16. Jesus returns into Galilee

Mark 1:14; Luke 4:14, who assigns no reason; John 4:1-3. St John gives a further reason “when the Lord knew how the Pharisees had heard that Jesus made and baptized more disciples than John, he left Judæa, &c.”Matthew 4:12. Ἀκούσας δὲ ὅτι, κ.τ.λ., but having heard that, etc.) The name of Jesus is expressed in Matthew 4:17. It is not expressed in Matthew 4:12,[144] because this passage, verses 12–16, when taken in connection with what precedes it, intimates in what manner John made room for the Lord. But in Matthew 4:17, etc., is described the actual commencement of the Lord’s preaching, in which is included the vocation of the two pairs of brothers. Wherefore, in Matthew 4:18, ὁ Ἰησοῦς, Jesus, is again understood, but not expressed.—παρεδόθη, was delivered up) sc. to confinement in prison (in custodiam).—See ch. Matthew 11:2. As John decreased, Jesus increased.[145]—ἀνεχώρησεν, he departed) The same verb occurs, ch. Matthew 14:13, from a similar cause.[146]—εἰς τὴν Γαλιλαίαν, into Galilee) and, indeed, into that part of Galilee which was farthest from Herod and the prison of John. St Matthew speaks of the whole of Galilee in opposition to Judea, where the temptation had taken place. Jesus then came forth from private into public life.[147]

[144] So BC*DZ Memph. Vulg. (MS. Amiat.) Orig. 3, 502c, 4, 161c. Rec. Text with fewer very ancient authorities, viz., Pabc. Hil. 620, reads ὁ Ἰησοῦς.—ED. E. V. renders it, “Now when Jesus had heard.”—(I. B.)

[145] Most fittingly the imprisonment of John is mentioned as it were in passing, and the death of the same, in John 14:3, not as (when) the fact occurred, but as (when) it reached the ears of Jesus. And yet a long interval cannot have elapsed between the beginning of John’s imprisonment and the report of it reaching Christ. In John 3:24, the Baptist was not yet imprisoned, but yet he was on the point of ‘decreasing,’ John 4:29-30. And not even at John 4:1 is mention made of his imprisonment; and at John 5:35 he is no doubt said “to HAVE BEEN (‘was’) a burning and shining lamp,” but it does not follow from this, that he, at that time, when Christ asserted this of him, was already confined in prison (for not even in that state did he altogether cease to be a burning and shining lamp). In fact, John is mentioned in the past tense (John 5:35), in respect to the fact that the Jews had already become sated and weary of the joy which they had derived from John, and The True Light, Jesus Christ, by His infinite splendour, had all but eclipsed John, who was, at it were, but a wax-light lamp. Besides, we must take into account, that the Saviour foreknew the imprisonment and subsequent death impending over John. Therefore the latter must have been cast into prison almost six months after the commencement of his public ministry, about Pentecost, and about a full year elapsed from that time till his death. They who maintain that more than three Passovers intervened between our Saviour’s baptism and His death, must of necessity assign two years to John’s imprisonment, which is less suitable to the general requirements of the case. For John ought rather to have passed over the scene quickly, even including his imprisonment. The One Great Prophet, Jesus, passed the principal part of His appointed time alone in His Office.—Harm., p. 183, 184.

[146] Our Lord now departed on account of the imprisonment, He afterwards did so on account of the death, of the Baptist.—(I. B.)

[147] Viz., that of Galilee.—(I. B.)Verses 12-16. - JESUS' WITHDRAWAL INTO GALILEE. (Parallel passages: Mark 1:14; Luke 4:14, 15.) According to some commentators, a new section begins here; but probably these verses are still preliminary. Our Lord's activity does not begin till ver. 17. But now he withdraws to Galilee, settling in Capernaum, thus fulfilling prophecy. Verse 12. - Now when Jesus had heard. If we had the synoptic Gospels alone, we should have supposed that the Baptist was imprisoned immediately after the end of our Lord's temptation (cf. this verse with Luke 4:14); but St. John (John 3:24) expressly states that he had not been cast into prison when the events recorded in John 1:43-3:23 took place. "For a time Christ and the Baptist worked side by side, preaching ' repentance' (Mark 1:15 [also Matthew 4:17]) and baptizing [John 3:22]. The Messiah took up the position of a prophet in Judaea, as afterwards in Galilee" (Bishop Westcott, on John 3:22-24). The events in Galilee related in John 2:1-12 were "preparatory to the manifestation at Jerusalem which was the real commencement of Christ's Messianic work. St. John records the course and issue of this manifestation: the other Evangelists start with the record of the Galilaean ministry, which dates from the imprisonment of the Baptist" (Bishop Westcott, on John 3:24). He adds, on John 4:43, "It seems probable that the earlier part of the synoptic narratives (Mark 1:14 - 2:14, and parallels) must be placed in the interval which extended from John 4:43-5:1." Matthew alone states directly that the news of the Baptist having been taken by Herod was the motive of our Lord's withdrawal into Galilee. He says nothing to show whether our Lord withdrew because he would avoid a like treatment himself, or, as is on the whole more likely, because he did not wish to be mixed up in the tumults to which John's capture appears to have given rise (cf. Matthew 14:5). Was cast into prison; "was delivered up" (Revised Version and Authorized Version margin); παρεδόθη, absolutely (cf. Mark 1:14; Romans 4:25; also infra, Matthew 10:19; 1 Corinthians 13:3). If the more proper meaning of the word may be insisted on, the thought is of the person to whom John was committed rather than of the place; John being delivered up, that is to say, by Herod to his officials. But in usage it appears rather to mean only compulsory removal, loss of liberty. Mark (Mark 6:19, 20) points out the temporary protection that the imprisonment gave to John against the resentment of Herodias. He departed; Revised Version, he withdrew; ἀνεχώρησεν,. A favourite word of St. Matthew's (ten times; Mark and John once each; Acts twice). It always implies some motive for the change of place, and is frequently used of departure directly consequent upon knowledge acquired. Hence it often implies a feeling of danger. Into Galilee; whence he had come (Matthew 3:13). Hence "returned" (Luke). In Galilee he would still be in Herod's dominions; but, as being in his own home, he would not attract so much attention. N.B. - Between vers. 12 and 13 some place the incident of his preaching at Nazareth (Luke 4:16-30); but ver. 23 of that passage assumes much previous work at Capernaum, and can therefore hardly be as early as this. Was cast into prison (παρεδόθη)

The verb means, first, to give, or hand over to another. So, to surrender a city or a person, often with the accompanying notion of treachery. The Rev., therefore, rightly renders, was delivered up.

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