teach and preach: See study note on Mt 4:23.
their cities: Evidently referring to the Jewish cities of that region (Galilee).
the Christ: Here the title “Christ,” meaning “Anointed One,” is preceded by the definite article in Greek. This is a way of indicating that Jesus was the promised Messiah, the one who had been anointed in a special sense.
look!: The Greek word i·douʹ, here rendered “look!,” is often used to focus attention on what follows, encouraging the reader to visualize the scene or to take note of a detail in a narrative. It is also used to add emphasis or to introduce something new or surprising. In the Christian Greek Scriptures, the term occurs most frequently in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke and in the book of Revelation. A corresponding expression is often used in the Hebrew Scriptures.
Truly: Greek, a·menʹ, a transliteration of the Hebrew ʼa·menʹ, meaning “so be it,” or “surely.” Jesus frequently uses this expression to preface a statement, a promise, or a prophecy, thereby emphasizing its absolute truthfulness and reliability. Jesus’ use of “truly,” or amen, in this way is said to be unique in sacred literature. When repeated in succession (a·menʹ a·menʹ), as is the case throughout the Gospel of John, Jesus’ expression is translated “most truly.”
the Baptist: Or “the Immerser; the Dipper.”
the goal toward which men press . . . those pressing forward: Two related Greek words used here convey the basic idea of forceful action or endeavor. Some Bible translators have understood them in a negative sense (that of acting with or suffering violence), but the context and the only other Biblical occurrence of the Greek verb, at Lu 16:16, make it reasonable to understand the terms in the positive sense of “going after something with enthusiasm; seeking fervently.” These words evidently describe the forceful actions or endeavors of those who responded to the preaching of John the Baptist, which put them in line to become prospective members of the Kingdom.
the Prophets and the Law: The reversal of the usual order, “the Law and the Prophets” (Mt 5:17; 7:12; 22:40; Lu 16:16), occurs only here. The general meaning is evidently the same (see study note on Mt 5:17), although the prophetic aspect of the Scriptures seems to be given more emphasis here. Even the Law is said to have prophesied, emphasizing its prophetic character.
Elijah: From the Hebrew name meaning “My God Is Jehovah.”
neither eating nor drinking: This evidently refers to John’s life of self-denial, which included fasting as well as adhering to the Nazirite requirement of abstaining from alcoholic beverages.
Son of man: Or “Son of a human.” This expression occurs about 80 times in the Gospels. Jesus used it to refer to himself, evidently emphasizing that he was truly human, born from a woman, and that he was a fitting human counterpart to Adam, having the power to redeem humankind from sin and death. (Ro 5:12, 14-15) The same expression also identified Jesus as the Messiah, or the Christ.
tax collectors: See study note on Mt 5:46.
Capernaum: From a Hebrew name meaning “Village of Nahum” or “Village of Comforting.” (Na 1:1, ftn.) A city of major importance in Jesus’ earthly ministry, it was located at the NW shore of the Sea of Galilee and was called “his own city” at Mt 9:1.
heaven: Here used metaphorically to denote a highly favored position.
the Grave: Or “Hades,” that is, the common grave of mankind. (See Glossary, “Grave.”) Here used figuratively to represent the debasement that Capernaum would experience.
to you: Here the pronoun “you” is plural in Greek.
for you: Here the pronoun “you” is singular in Greek, evidently addressing the city.
to young children: Or “to childlike ones,” that is, humble, teachable individuals.
loaded down: Those whom Jesus beckons to come were “loaded down” by anxiety and toil. Their worship of Jehovah had become burdensome because of the human traditions that had been added to the Law of Moses. (Mt 23:4) Even the Sabbath, which was meant to be a source of refreshment, had become a burden.
I will refresh you: The Greek word for “refresh” can refer both to rest (Mt 26:45; Mr 6:31) and to relief from toil in order to recover and regain strength (2Co 7:13; Phm 7). The context shows that taking on Jesus’ “yoke” (Mt 11:29) would involve service, not rest. The active Greek verb with Jesus as the subject conveys the thought of his rejuvenating and energizing weary ones so that they would desire to take up his light and kindly yoke.
Take my yoke upon you: Jesus used “yoke” figuratively in the sense of submission to authority and direction. If he had in mind a double yoke, one that God placed upon Jesus, then he would be inviting his disciples to get under the yoke with him and he would assist them. In that case, the phrase could be rendered: “Get under my yoke with me.” If the yoke is one that Jesus himself puts on others, then the reference is to submitting oneself to Christ’s authority and direction as his disciple.
mild-tempered: See study note on Mt 5:5.
lowly in heart: The Greek word for “lowly” refers to the quality of being humble and unpretentious; it also occurs at Jas 4:6 and 1Pe 5:5, where it is rendered “humble ones.” The condition of a person’s figurative heart is reflected in his disposition or his attitude toward God and other people.
yourselves: Or “your souls.” See Glossary, “Soul.”
Some marketplaces, like the one depicted here, were located along a road. Vendors often placed so much merchandise in the street that it blocked traffic. Local residents could buy common household goods, pottery, and expensive glassware, as well as fresh produce. Because there was no refrigeration, people needed to visit the market each day to buy supplies. Here a shopper could hear news brought in by traders or other visitors, children could play, and the unemployed could wait to be hired. In the marketplace, Jesus healed the sick and Paul preached. (Ac 17:17) By contrast, the proud scribes and Pharisees loved to be noticed and greeted in these public areas.
The towns of Chorazin and Bethsaida were near Capernaum, the city that Jesus apparently used as a home base during his great ministry in Galilee of a two years’ duration. The Jewish inhabitants of those towns saw Jesus perform powerful works that would have moved the idolatrous inhabitants of Tyre and Sidon to repentance. For example, it was in the area of Bethsaida that Jesus miraculously fed more than 5,000 people and later cured a blind man.
One type of wooden yoke was a bar or frame fitted to a person’s shoulders, and loads were suspended from it on each side of the body. Another type of yoke was a wooden bar or frame that was placed over the necks of two draft animals when they pulled a load.