Commentary Critical and Explanatory
on the Whole Bible
Note.--A large gap here occurs, embracing the important transactions
in Galilee and Jerusalem which are recorded in
and which occurred before John's imprisonment
whereas the transactions here recorded occurred (as appears from
Mt 4:12, 13)
after that event. The visit to Nazareth recorded in
we take to be not a later visit, but the same with this first one;
because we cannot think that the Nazarenes, after being so enraged at
His first display of wisdom as to attempt His destruction,
should, on a second display of the same, wonder at it and ask
how He came by it, as if they had never witnessed it before.
16. as his custom was--Compare
stood up for to read--Others besides rabbins were allowed to address
the congregation. (See
18, 19. To have fixed on any passage announcing His sufferings
would have been unsuitable at that early stage of His ministry. But He
selects a passage announcing the sublime object of His whole mission,
its divine character, and His special endowments for it; expressed in
the first person, and so singularly adapted to the first opening of
the mouth in His prophetic capacity, that it seems as if made
expressly for this occasion. It is from the well-known section of
Isaiah's prophecies whose burden is that mysterious "SERVANT OF THE LORD," despised of
man, abhorred of the nation, but before whom kings on seeing Him are to
arise, and princes to worship; in visage more marred than any man and
His form than the sons of men, yet sprinkling many nations; laboring
seemingly in vain, and spending His strength for naught and in vain,
yet Jehovah's Servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob and be His
Salvation to the ends of the earth
&c.). The quotation is chiefly from the Septuagint version, used
in the synagogues.
19. acceptable year--an allusion to the jubilee year
a year of universal release for person and property. (See also
As the maladies under which humanity groans are here set forth under
the names of poverty, broken-heartedness, bondage, blindness,
bruisedness (or crushedness), so, as the glorious HEALER of all these maladies, Christ announces Himself in
the act of reading it, stopping the quotation just before it comes to
"the day of vengeance," which was only to come on the rejecters of His
The first words, "THE SPIRIT
of the LORD is upon ME," have
been noted since the days of the Church Fathers, as an illustrious
example of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost being exhibited as in
distinct yet harmonious action in the scheme of salvation.
20. the minister--the chazan, or synagogue-officer.
all eyes . . . fastened on Him--astounded at His putting in such
21. began to say, &c.--His whole address was just a detailed
application to Himself of this and perhaps other like prophecies.
22. gracious words--"the words of grace," referring both to the
richness of His matter and the sweetness of His manner
Is not this, &c.--(See on
They knew He had received no rabbinical education, and anything
supernatural they seemed incapable of conceiving.
23. this proverb--like our "Charity begins at home."
whatsoever, &c.--"Strange rumors have reached our ears of Thy
doings at Capernaum; but if such power resides in Thee to cure the ills
of humanity, why has none of it yet come nearer home, and why is all
this alleged power reserved for strangers?" His choice of Capernaum as a
place of residence since entering on public life was, it seems, already
well known at Nazareth; and when He did come thither, to give no
displays of His power when distant places were ringing with His fame,
wounded their pride. He had indeed "laid his hands on a few sick folk
and healed them"
but this seems to have been done quite privately the general unbelief
precluding anything more open.
24. And he said, &c.--He replies to the one proverb by another,
equally familiar, which we express in a rougher form--"Too much
familiarity breeds contempt." Our Lord's long residence in Nazareth
merely as a townsman had made Him too common, incapacitating them
for appreciating Him as others did who were
less familiar with His everyday demeanor in private life. A most
important principle, to which the wise will pay due regard. (See also
on which our Lord Himself ever acted.)
25-27. But I tell you, &c.--falling back for support on the well-known
examples of Elijah and Elisha (Eliseus), whose miraculous power, passing
by those who were near, expended itself on those at a distance,
yea on heathens, "the two great prophets who stand at the commencement
of prophetic antiquity, and whose miracles strikingly prefigured those
of our Lord. As He intended like them to feed the poor and cleanse the
lepers, He points to these miracles of mercy, and not to the
fire from heaven and the bears that tore the mockers"
three years and six months--So
including perhaps the six months after the last fall of rain,
when there would be little or none at any rate; whereas in
which says the rain returned "in the third year," that period is
probably not reckoned.
26, 27. save . . . saving--"but only." (Compare
a heathen village between Tyre and Sidon. (See
28, 29. when they heard these things--these allusions to the
heathen, just as afterwards with Paul
(Ac 22:21, 22).
29. rose up--broke up the service irreverently and rushed forth.
thrust him--with violence, as a prisoner in their hands.
brow, &c.--Nazareth, though not built on the ridge of a hill, is in
part surrounded by one to the west, having several such precipices.
It was a mode of capital punishment not unusual among the Romans and
others. This was the first insult which the Son of God received, and it
came from "them of His own household!"
30. passing through the midst, &c.--evidently in a miraculous way,
though perhaps quite noiselessly, leading them to wonder afterwards what
spell could have come over them, that they allowed Him to escape.
(Similar escapes, however, in times of persecution, are not unexampled.)
31. down to Capernaum--It lay on the Sea of Galilee
whereas Nazareth lay high.
33. unclean--The frequency with which this character of impurity is applied to evil spirits is worthy of notice.
cried out, &c.--(See
35. rebuked them, &c.--(See on
thrown him, &c.--See on
36. What a word--a word from the Lord of spirits.
41. suffered them not to speak--The marginal reading ("to say
that they knew him to be Christ") here is wrong. Our Lord ever refused
testimony from devils, for the very reason why they were eager to
give it, because He and they would thus seem to be one interest, as
His enemies actually alleged. (See on
&c.; see also
DECLINES FROM THE
where we learn how early He retired, and how He was engaged in solitude
when they came seeking Him.
42. stayed him--"were staying Him," or sought to do it. What a contrast
to the Gadarenes! The nature of His mission required Him to keep
moving, that all might hear the glad tidings
43. I must, &c.--but duty only could move Him to deny entreaties so
grateful to His spirit.