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Jehovah’s Witnesses

New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures (Study Edition)

According to Matthew 4:1-25

4  Then Jesus was led by the spirit up into the wilderness to be tempted+ by the Devil.+  After he had fasted for 40 days and 40 nights, he felt hungry.  And the Tempter+ approached and said to him: “If you are a son of God, tell these stones to become loaves of bread.”  But he answered: “It is written: ‘Man must live, not on bread alone, but on every word that comes from Jehovah’s mouth.’”+  Then the Devil took him along into the holy city,+ and he stationed him on the battlement of the temple+  and said to him: “If you are a son of God, throw yourself down, for it is written: ‘He will give his angels a command concerning you,’ and, ‘They will carry you on their hands, so that you may not strike your foot against a stone.’”+  Jesus said to him: “Again it is written: ‘You must not put Jehovah your God to the test.’”+  Again the Devil took him along to an unusually high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory.+  And he said to him: “All these things I will give you if you fall down and do an act of worship to me.” 10  Then Jesus said to him: “Go away, Satan! For it is written: ‘It is Jehovah your God you must worship,+ and it is to him alone you must render sacred service.’”+ 11  Then the Devil left him,+ and look! angels came and began to minister to him.+ 12  Now when he heard that John had been arrested,+ he withdrew into Galʹi·lee.+ 13  Further, after leaving Nazʹa·reth, he came and took up residence in Ca·perʹna·um+ beside the sea in the districts of Zebʹu·lun and Naphʹta·li, 14  so as to fulfill what was spoken through Isaiah the prophet, who said: 15  “O land of Zebʹu·lun and land of Naphʹta·li, along the road of the sea, on the other side of the Jordan, Galʹi·lee of the nations! 16  The people sitting in darkness saw a great light, and as for those sitting in a region of deathly shadow, light+ rose on them.”+ 17  From that time on, Jesus began preaching and saying: “Repent, for the Kingdom of the heavens has drawn near.”+ 18  Walking alongside the Sea of Galʹi·lee, he saw two brothers, Simon,+ who is called Peter,+ and Andrew+ his brother, casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen.+ 19  And he said to them: “Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men.”*+ 20  At once they abandoned their nets and followed him.+ 21  Going on from there, he saw two others who were brothers, James the son of Zebʹe·dee and his brother John.+ They were in the boat with Zebʹe·dee their father, mending their nets, and he called them.+ 22  At once they left the boat and their father and followed him. 23  Then he went throughout the whole of Galʹi·lee,+ teaching in their synagogues+ and preaching the good news of the Kingdom and curing every sort of disease and every sort of infirmity among the people.+ 24  And the report about him spread throughout all Syria, and they brought him all those who were suffering with various diseases and torments,+ those who were demon-possessed+ and epileptic+ and paralyzed, and he cured them. 25  Consequently, large crowds followed him from Galʹi·lee and De·capʹo·lis and Jerusalem and Ju·deʹa and from the other side of the Jordan.


Or “people.”

Study Notes

Devil: From the Greek word di·aʹbo·los, meaning “slanderer.” (Joh 6:70; 2Ti 3:3) The related verb di·a·balʹlo means “to accuse; bring charges against” and is rendered “was accused” at Lu 16:1.

It is written: Jesus uses this expression three times when quoting from the Hebrew Scriptures in response to the Devil’s temptations.Mt 4:7, 10.

Jehovah’s: In this quote from De 8:3, the divine name, represented by four Hebrew consonants (transliterated YHWH), occurs in the original Hebrew text.—See App. C.

holy city: Refers to Jerusalem, which is often called holy because it was the location of Jehovah’s temple.Ne 11:1; Isa 52:1.

battlement of the temple: Or “highest point of the temple.” Lit., “wing of the temple.” The Greek word for “temple” can refer to the temple sanctuary or to the entire temple complex. Therefore, the expression could refer to the top of the wall surrounding the temple complex.

Jehovah: In this quote from De 6:16, the divine name, represented by four Hebrew consonants (transliterated YHWH), occurs in the original Hebrew text.—See App. C.

showed him: The ruler of the demons apparently caused Jesus to see a vision that appeared to be real.

kingdoms: Refers in a general sense to any or all human governments.

world: Renders the Greek word koʹsmos, here referring to unrighteous human society.

do an act of worship: The Greek verb that can be rendered “to worship” is here in the aorist tense, which indicates a momentary action. Rendering it “do an act of worship” shows that the Devil did not ask Jesus to do constant or continuous worship to him; it was a single “act of worship.”

Satan: From the Hebrew word sa·tanʹ, meaning “resister.”

Jehovah: In this quote from De 6:13; 10:20, the divine name, represented by four Hebrew consonants (transliterated YHWH), occurs in the original Hebrew text.—See App. C.

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.

Now when he heard: Between verse 11 and this verse, about a year has elapsed, and the events of Joh 1:29 through 4:3 take place during that interval. John’s account also adds the detail that when Jesus traveled from Judea into Galilee, he went via Samaria, where he met a Samaritan woman at a well near Sychar.Joh 4:4-43; see App. A7, chart “The Beginning of Jesus’ Ministry,” and Map 2.

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.

the districts of Zebulun and Naphtali: Refers to regions W and N of the Sea of Galilee in the northern extremity of Palestine and includes the district of Galilee. (Jos 19:10-16, 32-39) Naphtali’s territory bordered the entire western shore of the Sea of Galilee.

to fulfill what was spoken by Jehovah through his prophet: This and similar expressions occur many times in Matthew’s Gospel, apparently to emphasize to the Jewish audience Jesus’ role as the promised Messiah.Mt 2:15, 23; 4:14; 8:17; 12:17; 13:35; 21:4; 26:56; 27:9.

to fulfill what was spoken through Isaiah the prophet: See study note on Mt 1:22.

the road of the sea: Possibly referring to an ancient road that ran along the Sea of Galilee and led to the Mediterranean Sea.

on the other side of the Jordan: In this context, evidently referring to the W side of the Jordan River.

Galilee of the nations: Isaiah may have used this description because Galilee formed the frontier between Israel and surrounding nations. The location of Galilee and the roads that ran through it resulted in greater interaction with those nations, making it susceptible to invasion and settlement by non-Israelites. By the first century, many non-Jews lived here, making the description even more fitting.

a great light: In fulfillment of Isaiah’s Messianic prophecy, Jesus performed much of his public ministry in Galilee, in the districts of Zebulun and Naphtali. (Mt 4:13, 15) Thus, Jesus brought spiritual enlightenment to those who were thought to be in spiritual darkness and who were held in contempt even by their fellow Jews in Judea.Joh 7:52.

deathly shadow: Or “shadow of death.” Evidently, the term conveys the idea that death figuratively casts its shadow over people as it approaches them. Jesus, however, brought enlightenment that could remove the shadow and rescue people from death.

preaching: The Greek word basically means “to make proclamation as a public messenger.” It stresses the manner of the proclamation: usually an open, public declaration rather than a sermon to a group.

preaching: That is, publicly proclaiming.—See study note on Mt 3:1.

the Kingdom of the heavens has drawn near: This message of a new world government was the theme of Jesus’ preaching. (Mt 10:7; Mr 1:15) John the Baptist started to proclaim a similar message about six months prior to Jesus’ baptism (Mt 3:1, 2); yet Jesus could say with added meaning that the Kingdom had “drawn near,” since he was now present as the anointed King-Designate. There is no report that after Jesus’ death his disciples continued to proclaim that the Kingdom had “drawn near” or was at hand.

Simon, the one called Peter: Peter is named in five different ways in the Scriptures: (1) the Greek form “Symeon,” which closely reflects the Hebrew form of the name (Simeon); (2) the Greek “Simon” (both Symeon and Simon come from a Hebrew verb meaning “hear; listen”); (3) “Peter” (a Greek name that means “A Piece of Rock” and that he alone bears in the Scriptures); (4) “Cephas,” which is the Semitic equivalent of Peter (perhaps related to the Hebrew ke·phimʹ [rocks] used at Job 30:6; Jer 4:29); and (5) the combination “Simon Peter.”Ac 15:14; Joh 1:42; Mt 16:16.

the Sea of Galilee: A freshwater inland lake in northern Israel. (The Greek word translated “sea” may also mean “lake.”) It has been called the Sea of Chinnereth (Nu 34:11), the lake of Gennesaret (Lu 5:1), and the Sea of Tiberias (Joh 6:1). It lies an average of 210 m (700 ft) below sea level. It is 21 km (13 mi) long from N to S and 12 km (8 mi) wide, and its greatest depth is about 48 m (157 ft).—See App. A7, Map 3B, “Activity at the Sea of Galilee.”

Simon, who is called Peter: Simon was his personal name; Peter (Peʹtros) is the Greek form of the Semitic name Cephas (Ke·phasʹ), which Jesus gave him.Mr 3:16; Joh 1:42; see study note on Mt 10:2.

casting a net: An able fisherman, wading or in a small boat, could toss a circular net in such a way that it would land flat on the water’s surface. The net, perhaps 6-8 m (20-25 ft) in diameter, was weighted around its perimeter so that it would sink and trap the fish.

fishermen: Fishing was a common occupation in Galilee. Peter and his brother Andrew were not lone fishermen but were engaged in a fishing business, evidently associated with James and John, the sons of Zebedee.Mr 1:16-21; Lu 5:7, 10.

fishers of men: A play on words based on the occupation of Simon and Andrew. It indicates that they would be “catching people alive” for the Kingdom. (Lu 5:10, ftn.) The implication may also be that, like fishing, disciple-making would be strenuous, labor-intensive work that required perseverance but sometimes produced few results.

At once they left: The Greek word eu·theʹos, rendered “at once,” occurs both here and in verse 20. Like Peter and Andrew, James and John quickly respond to Jesus’ invitation to follow him full-time.

followed him: Peter and Andrew had already been Jesus’ disciples for some six months to a year. (Joh 1:35-42) Now Jesus invites them to leave their fishing business and follow him full-time.Lu 5:1-11; see study note on Mt 4:22.

James . . . and his brother John: James is always mentioned along with his brother John, and in the majority of instances, he is mentioned first. This may indicate that he was the older of the two.Mt 4:21; 10:2; 17:1; Mr 1:29; 3:17; 5:37; 9:2; 10:35, 41; 13:3; 14:33; Lu 5:10; 6:14; 8:51; 9:28, 54; Ac 1:13.

Zebedee: Possibly Jesus’ uncle by marriage to Salome, the sister of Jesus’ mother, Mary. If so, John and James were Jesus’ cousins.

At once they left: The Greek word eu·theʹos, rendered “at once,” occurs both here and in verse 20. Like Peter and Andrew, James and John quickly respond to Jesus’ invitation to follow him full-time.

preaching: The Greek word basically means “to make proclamation as a public messenger.” It stresses the manner of the proclamation: usually an open, public declaration rather than a sermon to a group.

teaching them: The Greek word rendered “to teach” involves instruction, explanation, showing things by argument, and offering proofs. (See study notes on Mt 3:1; 4:23.) Teaching them to observe all the things that Jesus had commanded would be an ongoing process, which would include teaching what he taught, applying his teaching, and following his example.Joh 13:17; Eph 4:21; 1Pe 2:21.

went throughout the whole of Galilee: This marks the beginning of Jesus’ first preaching tour of Galilee with his four recently selected disciples—Peter, Andrew, James, and John.Mt 4:18-22; see App. A7.

teaching . . . preaching: Teaching differs from preaching in that the teacher does more than proclaim; he instructs, explains, uses persuasive arguments, and offers proof.—See study notes on Mt 3:1; 28:20.

synagogues: See Glossary, “Synagogue.”

the good news: First occurrence of the Greek word eu·ag·geʹli·on, rendered “gospel” in some English Bibles. A related Greek expression eu·ag·ge·li·stesʹ, rendered “evangelizer,” means “a proclaimer of good news.”Ac 21:8; Eph 4:11, ftn.; 2Ti 4:5, ftn.

Syria: That is, the Roman province of Syria, a Gentile region N of Galilee, between Damascus and the Mediterranean Sea.

epileptic: The Greek term literally means “be moonstruck.” (Some older translations use “lunatic.”) However, Matthew employs the term in a medical sense, not superstitiously associating the disease with certain phases of the moon. The symptoms that Matthew, Mark, and Luke describe are certainly those associated with epilepsy.

Decapolis: See Glossary and App. B10.

the other side of the Jordan: In this context, evidently referring to the region E of the Jordan River, also known as Perea (from the Greek word peʹran, meaning “the other side; beyond”).


The Wilderness of Judea, West of the Jordan River
The Wilderness of Judea, West of the Jordan River

In this barren region, John the Baptist began his ministry and Jesus was tempted by the Devil.

The Wilderness
The Wilderness

The original-language words rendered “wilderness” in the Bible (Hebrew, midh·barʹ and Greek, eʹre·mos) generally refer to a sparsely settled, uncultivated land, often steppelands with brush and grass, even pastures. Those words may also apply to waterless regions that could be called true deserts. In the Gospels, the wilderness generally referred to is the wilderness of Judea. This wilderness is where John lived and preached and where Jesus was tempted by the Devil.Mr 1:12.

Battlement of the Temple
Battlement of the Temple

Satan may literally have stationed Jesus “on the battlement [or “highest point”] of the temple” and told him to throw himself down, but the specific location where Jesus might have stood is not known. Since the term for “temple” used here may refer to the entire temple complex, Jesus may have been standing on the southeastern corner (1) of the temple area. Or he may have stood on another corner of the temple complex. A fall from any of these locations would have resulted in certain death unless Jehovah had intervened.

North Shore of the Sea of Galilee, Looking Northwest
North Shore of the Sea of Galilee, Looking Northwest

1. Plain of Gennesaret. This was a fertile triangle of land, measuring about 5 by 2.5 km (3 by 1.5 mi). It was along the shoreline in this area that Jesus invited the fishermen Peter, Andrew, James, and John to join him in his ministry.Mt 4:18-22.

2. Tradition locates Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount here.Mt 5:1.

3. Capernaum. Jesus took up residence in this city, and it was in or near Capernaum that he found Matthew.Mt 4:13; 9:1, 9.

Casting a Net
Casting a Net

Fishermen on the Sea of Galilee used two types of casting nets; one was made of finely woven mesh to catch small fish and the other was made of larger mesh to catch bigger ones. Unlike a dragnet, which usually required the use of at least one boat and took a team of men to maneuver, a casting net could be handled by one person in a boat or standing on or near the shore. A casting net might have been 5 m (15 ft) or more in diameter and had stones or lead weights fastened to its perimeter. If thrown correctly, it hit the water as a flat disc. The weighted rim sank first, and fish were trapped as the net drifted to the sea floor. A fisherman might dive in and retrieve fish from the submerged net, or he might carefully draw the net to the shore. It took great skill and strenuous effort to use the net effectively.

Fish of the Sea of Galilee
Fish of the Sea of Galilee

The Bible contains many references to fish, fishing, and fishermen in connection with the Sea of Galilee. About 18 species of fish live in the Sea of Galilee. Of that number, only about ten have been sought by fishermen. These ten can be divided into three commercially important groups. One group is the binny, also known as the barbel (Barbus longiceps is shown) (1). Its three species display barbs at the corners of the mouth; hence, its Semitic name biny, meaning “hair.” It feeds on mollusks, snails, and small fish. The longheaded barbel reaches a length of 75 cm (30 in.) and can weigh over 7 kg (15 lb). The second group is called musht (Tilapia galilea is shown) (2), which means “comb” in Arabic, because its five species display a comblike dorsal fin. One variety of musht reaches a length of about 45 cm (18 in.) and can weigh some 2 kg (4.5 lb). The third group is the Kinneret sardine (Acanthobrama terrae sanctae is shown) (3), which resembles a small herring. From ancient times, this fish has been preserved by pickling.

Mending a Fishing Net
Mending a Fishing Net

Fishing nets were expensive, and maintaining them required hard work. Much of a fisherman’s time was spent mending, washing, and drying nets—chores he did at the end of every fishing trip. (Lu 5:2) Matthew used three Greek terms to describe fishing nets. The general term, diʹkty·on, can evidently embrace various types of nets. (Mt 4:21) The term sa·geʹne refers to a large dragnet that was let down from a boat. (Mt 13:47, 48) A smaller net, am·phiʹble·stron, which means “something thrown,” was evidently cast into shallow water by fishermen who were on or near the shore.Mt 4:18.

First-Century Fishing Boat
First-Century Fishing Boat

This rendering is based on the remains of a first-century fishing boat found buried in mud near the shores of the Sea of Galilee and on a mosaic discovered in a first-century home in the seaside town of Migdal. This kind of boat may have been rigged with a mast and sail(s) and may have had a crew of five—four oarsmen and one helmsman, who stood on a small deck at the stern. The boat was approximately 8 m (26.5 ft) long and at midpoint was about 2.5 m (8 ft) wide and 1.25 m (4 ft) deep. It seems that it could carry 13 or more men.

Remains of a Galilean Fishing Boat
Remains of a Galilean Fishing Boat

A 1985/1986 drought caused the water level in the Sea of Galilee to fall, exposing part of the hull of an ancient boat that was buried in the mud. The remains of the boat are 8.2 m (27 ft) long and 2.3 m (7.5 ft) wide and have a maximum height of 1.3 m (4.3 ft). Archaeologists say that the boat was built sometime between the first century B.C.E. and the first century C.E. This video animation reconstructs the boat, which is now displayed in a museum in Israel, showing what it may have looked like as it traversed the waters some 2,000 years ago.

First-Century Synagogue
First-Century Synagogue

This reconstruction, which incorporates some features of the first-century synagogue found at Gamla, located about 10 km (6 mi) northeast of the Sea of Galilee, gives an idea of what an ancient synagogue may have looked like.