Matthew 4:17

It would appear that while first John the Baptist uttered the summons, "Repent ye," when announcing the advent of "the kingdom of heaven" (Matthew 3:1), and while now Jesus himself does the same, the charge to utter it was not committed to "the twelve" (Matthew 10:7), nor to "the seventy" (Luke 10:9). The reason, perhaps, is this, that the work of these disciples was intentionally didactic rather than dogmatic for the present, while all the weight of the solemn responsibility of appealing to men's souls and awakening them would strictly attach to the prophet John the Baptist, and to that "greater Prophet" "like unto him," Jesus. The text informs us, now at all events, that Jesus does not only teach but preach, does not only work mighty works, but demand a hearing for mighty appeals of a direct and personal nature, and practical results from them. Remark -

I. THE UNIQUE NOVELTY ONCE OF THIS SHORT, SHARP SUMMONS FROM THE SPEAKER'S STANDPOINT. The world knew many a "cry " before this - perhaps never before one like this, except in the case of the older prophet-appeals, and those almost exclusively addressed to their own people. Nevertheless, Noah's preaching to the old world, and Jonah's preaching to Nineveh, are fair samples of the real summons to men, on the rights of things, on eternal rights, to "repent." However, the present appeals of John the Baptist and of Jesus began the sound that was to travel the world round, to penetrate the densest Gentile masses, and never cease its reverberatings in human ear. We may remark distinctly

(1) upon the peculiar attitude of the man who thus addresses a fellow-man;

(2) upon the ground and warrant that he must claim for holding this attitude, if he does so rightly;

(3) upon the very serious responsibility that he ought to feel, and the "constraint laid upon him" lest he but usurp what does not belong to him;

(4) upon the unfeigned and deep dependence on unseen force he should feel and acknowledge. For in regard of all of these points it may be said that there is no assumption so great as that which is manifested when one man, facing his fellow-men, speaking into their ear, presumes to penetrate to all that is highest, deepest, most solemn, most enduring, in them and their soul, and commands them to "repent."

II. THE STRANGE SURPRISE OF IT ON THE EAR OF THE HEARER. The command itself is to altered thought, altered love, altered life and works. For:

1. It is the typical, the grandest interference with the individual's love, nature's instinct, habit's easy and determined leaning, and the universal world's pronounced preference, manifested all unequivocally in favour of the doctrine of laissez-faire.

2. It is all this, where it must needs be felt

(1) most penetratingly, - for each individual man is called on to set his own house in order;

(2) most sensitively, - for the house is that wherein his innermost self has its haunt;

(3) most comprehensively, - for outside and inside, what is most seen and most withdrawn from sight, have to be set in order; nay, diligent search and inquisition of self have to be made with pain, smart, sacrifice, self's denying, if the contemplated alteration, reformation, repentance, are really wrought.

3. It is all this, from a personal presence unambitious in its outer appearance, unimposing, untempting, and certainly unwinning.

III. A CERTAIN OSTENSIBLE GROUND UPON WHICH THE SUMMONS IS URGED. The ground may be called ostensible, but only for one reason - that by the vast majority it would be counted more ostensible than real. The eye that should see furthest, the thought that should pierce deepest and comprehend most, would well understand the genuineness, force, tellingness, of the plea, "For the kingdom of heaven is at hand." This announcement purported to describe in brief the more light, the purer light of knowledge now coming to earth; the clearer and the much more catholic revealing of the Father and his love to men, now to dawn on earth; and the more spiritual and inner methods by which justice, holiness, goodness, were to become the familiar study and search and possessions of humanity. The plea, therefore, is of the nature of inducement, The inducement is that which comes

(1) of new opportunity;

(2) of great encouragement in the fresh suggestions of the almighty Father's persevering watchfulness over his children on earth;

(3) of splendid prospect, when the methods that now should be were compared with past methods;

(4) of the suggestion of solemn added responsibilities, if vast increase of privilege were not responded to by increase of effort. - B.

Jesus began to preach.
I. I would insist upon the prominence given to preaching in the Church of God: the text marks the introduction of A NEW SCIENCE.

1. Our Lord might have instituted this agency without preaching Himself. He might have sent an angel; but He set us the copy of this new science Himself. Three Greek words are used in the New Testament, and translated "preach" in connection with our Lord's ministry. One is "evangelize," which means to declare good tidings; the next word means "to declare as a herald;" a third word implies argumentation. Here, then, we have the science of preaching defined.

2. From these historical facts, in the description of which we gain these words, it will not be difficult to deduce the underlying principles of this Divine science of preaching, that it is the announcement of glad tidings, the presence of an ambassador as the one announcing and pressing upon men by arguments which address the conscience, will, affections, and understanding.

II. The text gives us the inauguration of A NEW ART. Preaching was original with Jesus Christ.

1. Show that this is a new science. Preaching did not exist in patriarchal times: it was not a Jewish institution: it was not practised among the Gentiles.

2. It was original, because until Jesus lived and died there was no good news to be told.


1. That preaching is the sole agency for man's salvation.

2. It is the unlimited privilege of all believers.

(S. H. Tyng.)


1. It is of gospel parentage.

2. It is of gracious origin.


1. Illumination.

2. Humiliation.

3. Detestation.

4. Transformations.


1. Faith.

2. Confession.

3. Holiness.

4. Peace.


1. Pleasantness.

2. It is sweet to God as well as to men.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)


1. There is conviction of sin.

2. Sorrow for sin.

3. Confession of sin.

4. Amendment of life.

II. REPENT, FOR THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN IS AT HAND. The phrase, "kingdom of heaven," is used only by St. Matthew. Jews did not want a spiritual kingdom. National quiet brings ruin. Our Lord gave Jews an opportunity to repent.

(A. Jones.)


1. The commencement of repentance is a deep sorrow for sin.

2. The utter forsaking of sin.

3. A continuation of the good work begun.

4. The adding on to the whole train of Christian virtues.

II. WHAT IS MEANT BY THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN. The glorious gospel was to be preached.


(E. Thompsom, M. A.)

I. Repentance is a necessary QUALIFICATION TO FIT US FOR GLORY.

1. Be it never so troublesome and painful a work, it is richly worth our while.

2. Reward is the life of action.

3. The encouragement of industry.

II. Repentance does not only give us a future evidence for heaven, but PUTS US INTO ACTUAL POSSESSION.

1. It instates us into our happiness.

2. Is an earnest of future glory. Thus grace is the incohation of glory, and glory is the consummation of grace.

III. What CONTENT must this needs be, to enjoy the morning of our eternity, even in this life; and through the crannies of our mortality to have a glimpse of that broad day of glory, which, unlike our longest days, will never have an end.

IV. If every penitential tear were a diamond, and thou didst nothing all thy lifetime but shed tears of liquid pearl, the kingdom of heaven would still be a CHEAP PRACTISE. Thou shouldst never have cause to complain of thy bargain.

(Adam Littleton, D. D.)

This definition may be divided into three parts.

I. A SORROWING for our sins.

1. This only is the penance whereto all the Scripture calleth us.

2. This penance do I now call you all unto.

3. This must be continually in us, and not merely for a Lent-season.

4. This must increase daily more and more in us.

5. Without this we cannot be saved.

II. EXAMINING our sins.

1. Outward evil springs out of inward corruption. This must be perfectly and spiritually understood if we will come to the true knowledge of our sins.

2. Therefore let us get God's law as a glass to look in, and that not only literally, outwardly, or partly, but also spiritually, inwardly, and thoroughly. For, as St. Austin saith, it is a, glass which feareth nobody; but even look what a one thou art, so it painteth thee out.

III. A trust of pardon.

IV. A purpose to amend, or a CONVERSION TO A NEW LIFE. Let your sorrowing for your evils demonstrate itself by departing from the evils you have used. Let your certainty of pardon of your sins through Christ, and your joy in Him, be demonstrated by pursuing the good things which God's Word teacheth you.

1. Repent your sins.

2. Believe in God's mercy for pardon.

3. Earnestly pursue a new life, bringing forth worthy and true fruits of repentance.

(John Bradford.)All who sincerely obey, and do what He hath commanded, may be properly said to serve Him

(1)By acknowledging the justice and goodness of His laws, and

(2)His power and authority over them;

(3)By loving, fearing, trusting, and believing on Him;

(4)By being sober, temperate, for the honour of His image enstamped on you;

(5)By being meek, patient, and thankful in all conditions, in whatsoever happens to you;

(6)By being humble and lowly in your own eyes;

(7)By being bountiful, kind, and merciful to others;

(8)By being just and righteous in all your dealings.

(William Beveridge, D. D.)

Kingdom of heaven is at hand.
1. Daily. Somebody dies every day; folks are travelling in and out of this great Inn, the world, continually.

2. Death may suddenly come to your door. Though he hath passed by often without calling, he will knock at last, and when he summons, thou must away. As the angels did with Lot, while thou lingerest he will lay hold upon thy hand, and hasten thee away even against thy will. Therefore — L Think often of thy own end, which is to thee the end of all things. When thou art gone, all is gone.

II. Then it will be found that the best pillow to lay a dying head on will be a good conscience.

III. Thou must then bid adieu to earth's spangled glories. Honours and estates will prove but weak cordials.

IV. A thousand worlds will then be bid for one hour's respite; and it cannot be bought so, if thou hadst them to give.

(Adam Littleton, D. D.)

Andrew, Isaiah, James, Jesus, John, Naphtali, Nephthalim, Peter, Simon, Zabdi, Zabulon, Zebedee, Zebulun
Capernaum, Decapolis, Galilee, High Mountain, Jerusalem, Jordan River, Judea, Nazareth, Sea of Galilee, Syria, Wilderness of Judea
Close, Drawn, Hearts, Heaven, Heavens, Kingdom, Nigh, Preach, Preaching, Proclaim, Reform, Reign, Repent, Saying, Sin
1. Jesus, fasting forty days,
3. is tempted by the devil and ministered unto by angels.
12. He dwells in Capernaum;
17. begins to preach;
18. calls Peter and Andrew,
21. James and John;
23. teaches and heals all the diseased.

Dictionary of Bible Themes
Matthew 4:17

     1445   revelation, responses
     2345   Christ, kingdom of
     2354   Christ, mission
     2363   Christ, preaching and teaching
     2376   kingdom of God, coming
     4909   beginning
     5052   responsibility, to God
     5335   herald
     5369   kingship, divine
     6040   sinners
     6734   repentance, importance
     7756   preaching, content
     7950   mission, of Christ
     8425   evangelism, nature of
     8438   giving, of time
     8489   urgency

Eversley, 1872. Chester Cathedral, 1872. St Matt. iv. 3. "And when the tempter came to Him, he said, If Thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread." Let me say a few words to-day about a solemn subject, namely, Temptation. I do not mean the temptations of the flesh--the temptations which all men have to yield to the low animal nature in them, and behave like brutes. I mean those deeper and more terrible temptations, which our Lord conquered in that great struggle with
Charles Kingsley—All Saints' Day and Other Sermons

The victory of the King
'Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil. 2. And when He had fasted forty days and forty nights, He was afterward an hungred. 3. And when the tempter came to Him, he said, If Thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread. 4. 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. 5. Then the devil taketh Him up into the holy city, and setteth Him on a pinnacle
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture

The Springing of the Great Light
'Now when Jesus had heard that John was cast into prison, He departed into Galilee; 13. And leaving Nazareth, He came and dwelt in Capernaum, which is upon the sea coast, in the borders of Zabulon and Nephthalim: 14. That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet, saying, 15. The land of Zabulon, and the land of Nephthalim, by the way of the sea, beyond Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles; 16. The people which sat in darkness saw great light; and to them which sat in the region and
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture

The Early Welcome and the First Ministers of the King
'From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. 18. 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. 19. And He saith unto them, Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men. 20. And they straightway left their nets, and followed Him. 21. And going on from thence, He saw other two brethren, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in a
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture

Interpretation of Holy Scripture. --Inspired Interpretation. --The Bible is not to be Interpreted Like any Other Book. --God, (Not Man,) the Real Author of the Bible.
It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God. IT is impossible to preserve exact method in Sermons like these, uncertain in number, and delivered at irregular intervals. It shall only be stated that, having already spoken at considerable length, of the Inspiration of Holy Scripture;--not, one part more, one part less, but every part equally inspired throughout; not general, (whatever the exact notion may be of a book generally inspired,)
John William Burgon—Inspiration and Interpretation

July the Thirteenth Plain Glass
"They were fishers." --MATTHEW iv. 12-22. And so our Lord went first to the fishing-boats and not to the schools. Learning is apt to be proud and aggressive, and hostile to the simplicities of the Spirit. There is nothing like plain glass for letting in the light! And our Lord wanted transparent media, and so He went to the simple fishermen on the beach. "God hath chosen the foolish things of the world." And by choosing labouring men our Master glorified labour. He Himself had worn the workman's
John Henry Jowett—My Daily Meditation for the Circling Year

Light for those who Sit in Darkness
From the text it appears that some are in greater darkness than others; and that, secondly, for such there is a hope of light; but that, thirdly, the light which will come to them lies all in Christ; and, fourthly (joyful news!) that light is already sprung up all around them: they have but to open their eyes to delight in it. I. SOME SOULS ARE IN GREATER DARKNESS THAN OTHERS. It appears from the text that it was so in Christ's days, and certainly it is so now. Divine sovereignty runs through all
Charles Haddon Spurgeon—Spurgeon's Sermons Volume 17: 1871

How to Become Fishers of Men
Note, next, that we are not made all that we shall be, nor all that we ought to desire to be, when we are ourselves fished for and caught. This is what the grace of God does for us at first; but it is not all. We are like the fishes, making sin to be our element; and the good Lord comes, and with the gospel net he takes us, and he delivers us from the life and love of sin. But he has not wrought for us all that he can do, nor all that we should wish him to do, when he has done this; for it is another
Charles Haddon Spurgeon—Spurgeon's Sermons Volume 32: 1886

Christ's First and Last Subject
IT SEEMS from these two texts that repentance was the first subject upon which the Redeemer dwelt, and that it was the last, which, with his departing breath, he commended to the earnestness of his disciples. He begins his mission crying, "Repent," he ends it by saying to his successors the apostles, "Preach repentance and remission of sins among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem." This seems to me to be a very interesting fact, and not simply interesting, but instructive. Jesus Christ opens his
Charles Haddon Spurgeon—Spurgeon's Sermons Volume 6: 1860

Twenty-Fourth Day. Firmness in Temptation.
"Jesus saith unto him, Get thee hence, Satan."--Matt. iv. 10. There is an awful intensity of meaning in the words, as applied to Jesus, "He suffered, being tempted!" Though incapable of sin, there was, in the refined sensibilities of His holy nature, that which made temptation unspeakably fearful. What must it have been to confront the Arch-traitor?--to stand face to face with the foe of His throne, and His universe? But the "prince of this world" came, and found "nothing in Him." Billow after
John R. Macduff—The Mind of Jesus

Eighth Day. Submission to God's Word.
"Jesus said unto him, It is written."--Matt. iv. 7. We can not fail to be struck, in the course of the Saviour's public teaching, with His constant appeal to the word of God. While, at times, He utters, in His own name, the authoritative behest, "Verily, verily, I say unto you," He as often thus introduces some mighty work, or gives intimation of some impending event in His own momentous life, "These things must come to pass, that the Scriptures be fulfilled, which saith." He commands His people
John R. Macduff—The Mind of Jesus

Knox -- the First Temptation of Christ
John Knox, the great Scottish reformer, was born at Giffordgate, four miles from Haddington, Scotland, in 1505. He first made his appearance as a preacher in Edinburgh, where he thundered against popery, but was imprisoned and sent to the galleys in 1546. In 1547 Edward VI secured his release and made him a royal chaplain, when he acquired the friendship of Cranmer and other reformers. On the accession of Mary (1553) he took refuge on the Continent. In 1556 he accepted the charge of a church in Geneva,
Various—The World's Great Sermons, Volume I

The Temptation in the Wilderness.
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 hungered. 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. Then the devil taketh him up into the holy city, and setteth him on a pinnacle of the temple,
George MacDonald—Unspoken Sermons

Thoughts Upon the Appearance of Christ the Sun of Righteousness, or the Beatifick vision.
SO long as we are in the Body, we are apt to be governed wholly by its senses, seldom or never minding any thing but what comes to us through one or other of them. Though we are all able to abstract our Thoughts when we please from matter, and fix them upon things that are purely spiritual; there are but few that ever do it. But few, even among those also that have such things revealed to them by God himself, and so have infinitely more and firmer ground to believe them, than any one, or all their
William Beveridge—Private Thoughts Upon a Christian Life

Christ, the Great Teacher
Scripture references: Matthew 4:23; 5:1,2; 7:29; 13:54; 26:55; 28:19,20; Mark 1:21,22; 4:1,2; 6:6; Luke 5:3; 11:1; 19:47; John 6:59; 7:14; 8:28. THE FOUNDER OF CHRISTIANITY The heart of the Christian religion is found in Jesus Christ. If we desire to know what Christianity is and of what elements it is composed we must look to Him and His teachings. He is the great source of our knowledge of what God, man, sin, righteousness, duty and salvation are. Our interest in the books of the Old Testament
Henry T. Sell—Studies in the Life of the Christian

Jesus Sets Out from Judæa for Galilee.
Subdivision A. Reasons for Retiring to Galilee. ^A Matt. IV. 12; ^B Mark I. 14; ^C Luke III. 19, 20; ^D John IV. 1-4. ^c 19 but Herod the tetrarch [son of Herod the Great, and tetrarch, or governor, of Galilee], being reproved by him [that is, by John the Baptist] for Herodias his brother's wife, and for all the evil things which Herod had done [A full account of the sin of Herod and persecution of John will be found at Matt. xiv. 1-12 and Mark vi. 14-29. John had spoken the truth to Herod as fearlessly
J. W. McGarvey—The Four-Fold Gospel

General Account of Jesus' Teaching.
^A Matt. IV. 17; ^B Mark I. 14, 15; ^C Luke IV. 14, 15. ^a 17 From that time Jesus began to preach [The time here indicated is that of John the Baptist's imprisonment and Jesus' return to Galilee. This time marked a new period in the public ministry of Jesus. Hitherto he had taught, but he now began to preach. When the voice of his messenger, John, was silenced, the King became his own herald. Paul quoted the Greeks as saying that preaching was "foolishness," but following the example here set by
J. W. McGarvey—The Four-Fold Gospel

Jesus Tempted in the Wilderness.
^A Matt. IV. 1-11; ^B Mark I. 12, 13; ^C Luke IV. 1-13. ^c 1 And Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan, ^b 12 And straightway the Spirit driveth him forth ^c and ^a 1 Then [Just after his baptism, with the glow of the descended Spirit still upon him, and the commending voice of the Father still ringing in his ears, Jesus is rushed into the suffering of temptation. Thus abrupt and violent are the changes of life. The spiritually exalted may expect these sharp contrasts. After being
J. W. McGarvey—The Four-Fold Gospel

Jesus' Temporary Residence at Capernaum.
^A Matt. IV. 13-16. ^a 13 And leaving Nazareth [This expression means that Jesus now ceased to make Nazareth his home. For description of Nazareth, see page 60], he came and dwelt in Capernaum [See page 119. Capernaum means city of Nahum, or village of consolation. Its modern name, "Tel-Hum," means hill of Nahum. The word "dwelt" means that Jesus made this town his headquarters. He owned no house there (Matt. viii. 20). He may have dwelt with some of his disciples--for instance, Simon Peter--Matt.
J. W. McGarvey—The Four-Fold Gospel

Jesus Calls Four Fishermen to Follow Him.
(Sea of Galilee, Near Capernaum.) ^A Matt. IV. 18-22; ^B Mark I. 16-20; ^C Luke V. 1-11. ^a 18 And walking ^b 16 And passing along by the sea of Galilee [This lake is a pear-shaped body of water, about twelve and a half miles long and about seven miles across at its widest place. It is 682 feet below sea level; its waters are fresh, clear and abounding in fish, and it is surrounded by hills and mountains, which rise from 600 to 1,000 feet above it. Its greatest depth is about 165 feet], he [Jesus]
J. W. McGarvey—The Four-Fold Gospel

Jesus Makes a Preaching Tour through Galilee.
^A Matt. IV. 23-25; ^B Mark I. 35-39; ^C Luke IV. 42-44. ^b 35 And in the morning, a great while before day, he rose up went out [i. e., from the house of Simon Peter], and departed into a desert place, and there prayed. [Though Palestine was densely populated, its people were all gathered into towns, so that it was usually easy to find solitude outside the city limits. A ravine near Capernaum, called the Vale of Doves, would afford such solitude. Jesus taught (Matt. vi. 6) and practiced solitary
J. W. McGarvey—The Four-Fold Gospel

The Second visit to Cana - Cure of the Nobleman's' Son at Capernaum.
THE brief harvest in Samaria was, as Jesus had indicated to His disciples, in another sense also the beginning of sowing-time, or at least that when the green blade first appeared above ground. It formed the introduction to that Galilean ministry, when the Galileans received Him, having seen all the things that He did at Jerusalem at the Feast.' [2013] Nay, in some respects, it was the real beginning of His Work also, which, viewed as separate and distinct, commenced when the Baptist was cast into
Alfred Edersheim—The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah

Second Journey through Galilee - the Healing of the Leper.
A DAY and an evening such as of that Sabbath of healing in Capernaum must, with reverence be it written, have been followed by what opens the next section. [2299] To the thoughtful observer there is such unbroken harmony in the Life of Jesus, such accord of the inward and outward, as to carry instinctive conviction of the truth of its record. It was, so to speak, an inward necessity that the God-Man, when brought into contact with disease and misery, whether from physical or supernatural causes,
Alfred Edersheim—The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah

The Temptation of Jesus
The proclamation and inauguration of the Kingdom of Heaven' at such a time, and under such circumstances, was one of the great antitheses of history. With reverence be it said, it is only God Who would thus begin His Kingdom. A similar, even greater antithesis, was the commencement of the Ministry of Christ. From the Jordan to the wilderness with its wild Beasts; from the devout acknowledgment of the Baptist, the consecration and filial prayer of Jesus, the descent of the Holy Spirit, and the heard
Alfred Edersheim—The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah

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