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Matthew 4:23

Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

Teaching in their synagogues - Synagogue, συναγωγη, from συν, together, and αγω, I bring, a public assembly of persons, or the place where such persons publicly assembled. Synagogues, among the Jews, were not probably older than the return from the Babylonish captivity. They were erected not only in cities and towns, but in the country, and especially by rivers, that they might have water for the convenience of their frequent washings.

Not less than ten persons of respectability composed a synagogue; as the rabbins supposed that this number of persons, of independent property, and well skilled in the law, were necessary to conduct the affairs of the place, and keep up the Divine worship. See Lightfoot. Therefore, where this number could not be found, no synagogue was built; but there might be many synagogues in one city or town, provided it were populous. Jerusalem is said to have contained 480. This need not be wondered at, when it is considered that every Jew was obliged to worship God in public, either in a synagogue or in the temple.

The chief things belonging to a synagogue were:

    1st. The ark or chest, made after the mode of the ark of the covenant, containing the Pentateuch.

2dly. The pulpit and desk, in the middle of the synagogue, on which he stood who read or expounded the law.

3dly. The seats or pews for the men below, and the galleries for the women above.

4thly. The lamps to give light in the evening service, and at the feast of the dedication.

    5thly. Apartments for the utensils and alms-chests.

The synagogue was governed by a council or assembly, over whom was a president, called in the Gospels, the ruler of the synagogue. These are sometimes called chiefs of the Jews, the rulers, the priests or elders, the governors, the overseers, the fathers of the synagogue. Service was performed in them three times a day - morning, afternoon, and night. Synagogue, among the Jews, had often the same meaning as congregation among us, or place of judicature, see James 2:2.

Preaching the Gospel of the kingdom - Or, proclaiming the glad tidings of the kingdom. See the preceding notes. Behold here the perfect pattern of an evangelical preacher:

  1. He goes about seeking sinners on every side, that he may show them the way to heaven.
  • He proclaims the glad tidings of the kingdom, with a freedom worthy of the King whom he serves.
  • He makes his reputation and the confidence of the people subservient not to his own interest, but to the salvation of souls.
  • To his preaching he joins, as far as he has ability, all works of mercy, and temporal assistance to the bodies of men.
  • He takes care to inform men that diseases, and all kinds of temporal evils, are the effects of sin, and that their hatred to iniquity should increase in proportion to the evils they endure through it.
  • And that nothing but the power of God can save them from sin and its consequences.
  • For glad tidings, or Gospel, see chap. 1. title (note). Proclaiming, see Matthew 3:1; (note), and end (note); and for the meaning of kingdom, see Matthew 3:2; (note).

    All manner of sickness, and all manner of disease - There is a difference between νοσος, translated here sickness, and μαλακια, translated disease. The first is thus defined: νοσος, την χρονιαν κακοπαθειαν, a disease of some standing, a chronic disorder.

    Infirmity, μαλακια, την προσκαιρον ανωμαλιαν· τοι σωματος, a temporary disorder of the body. Theophylact. This is a proper distinction, and is necessary to be observed.

    Albert Barnes
    Notes on the Whole Bible

    All Galilee - See the notes at Matthew 2:22.

    Synagogues - Places of worship, or places where the people assembled together to worship God. The origin of synagogues is involved in much obscurity. The sacrifices of the Jews were appointed to be held in one place, at Jerusalem. But there was nothing to forbid the other services of religion to be performed at any other place. Accordingly, the praises of God were sung in the schools of the prophets; and those who chose were assembled by the prophets and seers on the Sabbath, and the new moons, for religious worship, 2 Kings 4:23; 1 Samuel 10:5-11. The people would soon see the necessity of providing convenient places for their services, to shelter them from storms and from the heat, and this was probably the origin of synagogues. At what time they were commenced is unknown. They are mentioned by Josephus a considerable time before the coming of Christ; and in his time they were multiplied, not only in Judea, but wherever there were Jews. There were no less than 480 in Jerusalem alone before it was taken by the Romans.

    Synagogues were built in any place where ten men were found who were willing to associate for the purpose, and were the regular customary places of worship. In them the law, i. e. the Old Testament, divided into suitable portions, was read, prayers were offered, and the Scriptures were expounded. The law was so divided that the five books of Moses, and portions of the prophets, could be read through each year. The Scriptures. after being read, were expounded. This was done, either by the officers of the synagogue, or by any person who might be invited by the officiating minister. Our Saviour and the apostles were in the habit of attending at those places continually, and of speaking to the people, Luke 4:15-27; Acts 13:14-15.

    The synagogues were built in imitation of the temple, with a center building, supported by pillars, and a court surrounding it. See the notes at Matthew 21:12. In the center building, or chapel, was a place prepared for the reading of the law. The law was kept in a chest, or ark, near to the pulpit. The uppermost seats Matthew 23:6 were those nearest to the pulpit. The people sat around, facing the pulpit. When the law was read, the officiating person rose; when it was expounded, he was seated. Our Saviour imitated their example, and was commonly seated in addressing the people, Matthew 5:1; Matthew 13:1.

    Teaching - Instructing the people, or explaining the gospel.

    The gospel of the kingdom - The good news respecting the kingdom he was about to set up; or the good news respecting the coming of the Messiah and the nature of his kingdom.

    Preaching - See the notes at Matthew 3:1.

    All manner of sickness - All kinds of sickness.

    Matthew Henry
    Concise Bible Commentary
    Wherever Christ went, he confirmed his Divine mission by miracles, which were emblems of the healing power of his doctrine, and the influences of the Spirit which accompanied it. We do not now find the Saviour's miraculous healing power in our bodies; but if we are cured by medicine, the praise is equally his. Three general words are here used. He healed every sickness or disease; none was too bad; none too hard, for Christ to heal with a word. Three diseases are named; the palsy, which is the greatest weakness of the body; lunacy, which is the greatest malady of the mind; and possession of the devil, which is the greatest misery and calamity of both; yet Christ healed all, and by thus curing bodily diseases, showed that his great errand into the world was to cure spiritual maladies. Sin is the sickness, disease, and torment of the soul: Christ came to take away sin, and so to heal the soul.
    Ellen G. White
    Testimonies for the Church, vol. 9, 170-1

    Those connected with our schools and sanitariums are to labor with earnest alacrity. The work that is done under the ministration of the Holy Spirit, out of love for God and for humanity, will bear the divine signature and will make its impression on human minds. 9T 170.1

    The Lord calls upon our young people to enter our schools and quickly fit themselves for service. In various places outside of cities, schools are to be established where our youth can receive an education that will prepare them to go forth to do evangelical work and medical missionary work. 9T 170.2

    The Lord must be given an opportunity to show men their duty and to work upon their minds. No one is to bind himself to serve for a term of years under the direction of one group of men or in one specified branch of the Master's work; for the Lord Himself will call men, as of old He called the humble fishermen, and will Himself give them instruction regarding their field of labor and the methods they should follow. He will call men from the plow and from other occupations to give the last note of warning to perishing souls. There are many ways in which to work for the Master, and the Great Teacher will open the understanding of these workers, enabling them to see wondrous things in His word. 9T 170.3

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    Ellen G. White
    Evangelism, 54

    In the Synagogues—By the Seaside—Christ “went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom and healing all manner of sickness.” He preached in the synagogues because thus He could reach the many who gathered there. Then He went out and taught by the seaside and in the great thoroughfares of travel. The precious truths that He had to proclaim were not to be confined to synagogues.... Ev 54.1

    Christ might have occupied the highest place among the highest teachers of the Jewish nation. But He chose rather to take the gospel to the poor. He went from place to place, that those in the highways and byways might catch the words of the gospel of truth. He labored in the way in which He desires His workers to labor today. By the sea, on the mountainside, in the streets of the city, His voice was heard explaining the Old Testament Scriptures. So unlike the explanations of the scribes and Pharisees was His explanation that the attention of the people was arrested. He taught as one having authority, and not as the scribes. With clearness and power He proclaimed the gospel message.—Letter 129, 1903. Ev 54.2

    Methods Peculiarly His Own—He attended the great yearly festivals of the nation, and to the multitude absorbed in outward ceremony He spoke of heavenly things, bringing eternity within their view. To all He brought treasures from the storehouse of wisdom. He spoke to them in language so simple that they could not fail of understanding. By methods peculiarly His own, He helped all who were in sorrow and affliction. With tender, courteous grace, He ministered to the sin-sick soul, bringing healing and strength. Ev 54.3

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    Ellen G. White
    Medical Ministry, 62-3

    We are to take heed to the warning: “Enter ye in at the strait gate.” Matthew 7:13, 14. Those who walk in the narrow way are following in the footprints of Jesus. The light from heaven illuminates their path. MM 62.1

    Shall we represent before the world that our physicians must follow the pattern of the world before they can be qualified to act as successful physicians? This is the question that is now testing the faith of some of our brethren. Let not any of our brethren displease the Lord by advocating in their assemblies the idea that we need to obtain from unbelievers a higher education than that specified by the Lord. MM 62.2

    The representation of the Great Teacher is to be considered an all-sufficient revelation. Those in our ranks who qualify as physicians are to receive only such education as is in harmony with these divine truths. Some have advised that students should, after taking some work at Loma Linda, complete their medical education in worldly colleges. But this is not in harmony with the Lord's plan. God is our wisdom, our sanctification, and our righteousness. Facilities should be provided at Loma Linda that the necessary instruction in medical lines may be given by instructors who fear the Lord and who are in harmony with His plans for the treatment of the sick. MM 62.3

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    Ellen G. White
    The Upward Look, 142.5

    Let us allow no worldly business to absorb our energies. Let us allow nothing to occupy the place that God should fill. We must have periods of rest, times set apart for meditation and prayer and for spiritual refreshing. Christ went about doing good, healing all manner of sickness and forgiving all sins, comforting the mourners, banishing sorrow by His presence. Let us behold Him—the very compassion and lovingkindness of God Himself. UL 142.5

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