Great crowds (Mt 4:25-4:25)

“Great crowds

Followed Jesus

From Galilee,

From the Decapolis,

From Jerusalem,

From Judea,

And from beyond the Jordan.”


καὶ ἠκολούθησαν αὐτῷ ὄχλοι πολλοὶ ἀπὸ τῆς Γαλιλαίας καὶ Δεκαπόλεως καὶ Ἱεροσολύμων καὶ Ἰουδαίας καὶ πέραν τοῦ Ἰορδάνου.


Matthew finished off this unique section by talking about the huge crowds that followed Jesus in Galilee (καὶ ἠκολούθησαν αὐτῷ ὄχλοι πολλοὶ ἀπὸ τῆς Γαλιλαίας).  However, he added something that had not been talked about.  Matthew said that the people from Decapolis (Δεκαπόλεως), Jerusalem (καὶ Ἱεροσολύμων), Judea (καὶ Ἰουδαίας), and from beyond on the east bank of the Jordan River (καὶ πέραν τοῦ Ἰορδάνου) were following Jesus.  So far, Jesus has not done anything there.  Decapolis was an area of 10 cities or towns east of Galilee, with 9 of these cities on the east side of the Jordan River that included Damascus.  So that the news about Jesus may have spread there, as well on the east side of the Jordan.  However, the mention of Jerusalem and Judea, which were way south, at least 100 miles away, seems like a stretch.


The two brother fishermen, Simon and Andrew (Mt 4:18-4:18)

“As Jesus walked

By the Sea of Galilee,

He saw two brothers,


Who is called Peter,

With Andrew,

His brother.

They were casting a net

Into the sea.

They were fishermen.”


Περιπατῶν δὲ παρὰ τὴν θάλασσαν τῆς Γαλιλαίας εἶδεν δύο ἀδελφούς, Σίμωνα τὸν λεγόμενον Πέτρον καὶ Ἀνδρέαν τὸν ἀδελφὸν αὐτοῦ, βάλλοντας ἀμφίβληστρον εἰς τὴν θάλασσαν· ἦσαν γὰρ ἁλεεῖς.


Matthew, as well as the other 4 canonical gospels, has Jesus meeting Simon Peter for the first time at the beginning of his ministry.  However, here Matthew is following the simple comment of Mark, chapter 1:16, rather than the elaborate story of Luke, chapter 5:1:9, where there is no mention of Peter’s brother Andrew.  As Jesus was walking or strolling along the Sea of Galilee (Περιπατῶν δὲ παρὰ τὴν θάλασσαν τῆς Γαλιλαίας), he saw two brothers (εἶδεν δύο ἀδελφούς).  One of these men was called Simon or Peter (Σίμωνα τὸν λεγόμενον Πέτρον), since it was common for people to have both a Hebrew name like Simon and a Greek name like Peter.  His brother, on the other hand seemed to have only a Greek name, Andrew.  This may account for the different names of the apostles in the various gospel stories.  Both these brothers were casting their large fishing nets into the sea (βάλλοντας ἀμφίβληστρον εἰς τὴν θάλασσαν).  Thus, they were called fisherman (ἦσαν γὰρ ἁλεεῖς).  John, chapter 1:40-42, had these two brothers from the town of Bethsaida, about 5 miles north of Capernaum, where the Jordan River runs into the Sea of Galilee.

John the Baptist and the Baptism of Jesus

Although Matthew did not show the same relationship of Jesus and John the Baptist as cousins, as it was in Luke, chapter 1:36, he still has them as familiar to each other.  They were at a minimum, friends.  In this portrayal, Jesus came to John, not the other way around.  John was already an established preacher, baptizing in the Jordan River.  Did they have the same message or was it different?  In one sense, both John and Jesus wanted people to repent, since the kingdom of heaven was near.  However, there are no indications in the biblical texts that Jesus was baptizing people the way that John was doing it.  Thus, they might have been semi-co-workers without any formal relationship established, although John the Baptist would appear again in this gospel story of Matthew.  Clearly, John the Baptist baptizing Jesus at the Jordan River stands as the beginning of the public life of Jesus, both here and in the other three canonical gospel accounts of Mark, Luke, and John.  Jesus became someone special as “the anointed one,” “Χριστος,” “the Christ,” from this moment on.  Was there any particular self-realization on the part of Jesus here?  How did the disciples of these two men work with each other?  What was the reaction of Jesus to the post-baptismal event, when God, the Father, sent his Spirit, the dove, to empower Jesus, before he could begin his public ministry?  God clearly announced that Jesus was his beloved son.  With his prophetic divine vocation revealed, Jesus was ready to begin his public ministry of healing and exorcising.  Jesus had come to proclaim his ethical judgment of righteousness during this messianic time when the fullness of the Holy Spirit would come to all the followers of Jesus.

Jesus came to John (Mt 3:13-3:13)

“Then Jesus

Came from Galilee

To John,

At the Jordan River,

To be baptized by him.”


Τότε παραγίνεται ὁ Ἰησοῦς ἀπὸ τῆς Γαλιλαίας ἐπὶ τὸν Ἰορδάνην πρὸς τὸν Ἰωάνην τοῦ βαπτισθῆναι ὑπ’ αὐτοῦ.


One concrete event, John the Baptist baptizing Jesus at the Jordan River, stands at the beginning of the public life of Jesus in all four of the canonical gospel accounts of Mark, chapter 1:9, Matthew, chapter 3:13, Luke, chapter 3:21, and John, chapter 1:34.  Even many of the historical Jesus skeptics consider the fact that John the Baptist baptized Jesus to be a real historical episode.  Jesus now appeared (Τότε παραγίνεται ὁ Ἰησοῦς) on the scene for the first time.  He came from Galilee (ἀπὸ τῆς Γαλιλαίας), where Matthew left him as a young child with his father Joseph.  Jesus came with a purpose, to see John the Baptist (πρὸς τὸν Ἰωάνην) at the Jordan River (ἐπὶ τὸν Ἰορδάνην).  He wanted John the Baptist to baptize him (τοῦ βαπτισθῆναι ὑπ’ αὐτοῦ).  John did not seek out Jesus, Jesus came to him.

The warning (Am 4:1-4:3)

“Hear this word!

You cows of Bashan!

You are on Mount Samaria!

You oppress the poor!

You crush the needy!

You say

To your husbands.

‘Bring something to drink!’

Yahweh God

Has sworn

By his holiness.

The time is surely coming

Upon you,

When they shall take you away

With hooks,

Even the last of you,

With fishhooks.

Through breaches

In the wall,

Shall your leave.

Each one will go

Straight ahead.

You shall be flung out

Into Harmon.’

Says Yahweh.”

Amos has another oracle of Yahweh against the rich women of the mountains of Samaria. Yahweh compared them to the rich lazy cows grazing on the wonderful pastures in Bashan, on the other side of the Jordan River, where the best cows were raised. These rich women had oppressed the poor and crushed the needy. They wanted their husbands to bring them something to drink. Yahweh said that the time was coming when they would be taken away with fish hooks. They would leave their city through the holes in the walls. They would all march out to be thrown into Harmon, some unknown place where they would have to live as exiles.

Against Moab (Am 2:1-2:3)

“Thus says Yahweh.

‘For three transgressions

Of Moab,

And for four,

I will not revoke

The punishment.

Because he burned to lime

The bones

Of the king of Edom.


I will send a fire

On Moab.

It shall devour

The strongholds

Of Kerioth.

Moab shall die

Amid uproar,

Amid shouting,

Amid the sound

Of the trumpet.

I will cut off

The ruler

From its midst.

I will kill

All its officials with him.’

Says Yahweh.”

Moab was the ancient enemy of Israel on the southeast side of the Jordan River. According to Genesis, chapter 19, the Moabites were the descendants of Lot through the incest he had with his daughter. Yahweh, via Amos, invoked the same language as he had used against Damascus, the Philistines, Tyre, Edom, and Ammon. He also used the same non-forgiving numeric formula of 3 and 4, as in Proverbs, chapter 30. The Moabites apparently burned the bones of the king of Edom in lime. Edom was their southern neighbors, so that this was a terrible insulting crime. Thus, Yahweh was going to punish the people of Moab by devouring their fortresses at Kerioth. Moab was going to die in a great tumult, with uproars, shouts, and trumpets. Yahweh would kill their ruler and all their officials. This clearly was an oracle of Yahweh, via Amos.