Matthew Chapter 14  PDF  MSWord

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Go to Bible: Matthew 14
Mat 14:1(top)
Mat 14:2(top)
Mat 14:3

“put him in prison.” According to the records we have from Josephus, Herod Antipas put John in prison at Machaerus, his palace-fortress east of the Dead Sea. Machaerus was originally built about 90 BC by the Hasmonean king, Alexander Jannaeus (104 BC-78 BC). It is located about 15 miles (24 km) south and east of the point at which the Jordan River enters the Dead Sea. In 57 BC it was destroyed by Pompey’s general Gabinius, but rebuilt by Herod the Great in 30 BC. Machaerus was the easternmost palace-fortress of Herod, and he strongly fortified it, in part due to its proximity to Arabia.

When Herod the Great died, the palace-fortress Machaerus was passed to his son, Herod Antipas, who ruled from 4 BC until 39 AD, and who imprisoned and beheaded John the Baptist at Machaerus. Because Herod the Great built his palace in the center of the fortified area, we know the location Salome was when she danced before Herod Antipas and his guests and asked for the head of John the Baptist. Machaerus passed from Herod Antipas to Herod Agrippa I, and when he died in 44 AD, it came under Roman control. Jewish rebels took control after 66 AD during the First Jewish Revolt, but the Romans began a siege of the fortress in 72 AD. They built a wall of circumvallation around the fortress, and an embankment and ramp for the Roman siege engines, but the Jewish rebels surrendered before the Romans began their attack. The rebels were allowed to leave and the Romans tore the palace-fortress down, leaving only the foundations, which are still there today.

Some scholars think John was in prison for two years at Machaerus, but that is because they think Jesus had a three-year ministry. There is good evidence that Jesus’ ministry lasted only shortly over a year, from before Passover in 27 AD to Passover in 28 AD, and therefore the imprisonment of John would have been considerably less than a year. It seems that John was put in prison not too long after he baptized Jesus because Jesus had not yet gone into Galilee and started his teaching nor had called out his disciples to follow him, who were later to be the apostles (Mark 1:14-16). However, John was imprisoned after Passover of 27 AD (compare John 2:13ff with John 3:22-24). John the Baptist was beheaded by Herod Antipas at his birthday celebration, but unfortunately, we do not know when Herod’s birthday was. However, it was before the feeding of the 5,000 (Matt. 14:13ff; Mark 6:32ff; Luke 9:10ff; John 6:1ff), and thus before the feast of Tabernacles, which occurred in our September/October (John 7:1ff). Actually, it was likely some months before Tabernacles, likely sometime in the summer months. Thus, if John was imprisoned in our April or May of 27 AD, and beheaded by October that same year at the latest, the most he would have been in prison is 6 months, but it was likely a much shorter time.

Mat 14:4(top)
Mat 14:5

“people.” The Greek is “multitude” or “crowd,” but there was no gathering of people where John was imprisoned; this refers to all the people in Herod’s territory who supported John.

Mat 14:6

“the daughter of Herodias.” Her name was Salome (see commentary on Mark 6:22).

Mat 14:7(top)
Mat 14:8(top)
Mat 14:9(top)
Mat 14:10(top)
Mat 14:11(top)
Mat 14:12(top)
Mat 14:13

“he withdrew from there in a boat by himself to a solitary place.” Matthew 14:13 tells us that Jesus went away from the crowds to spend time alone with his disciples because he had just gotten the news about the death of his cousin, the great prophet John the Baptist. That is true, but it is only part of the reason Jesus wanted some time alone with his disciples. The Gospel of Mark omits the part about Jesus being told about John’s death, although that might be assumed in the record, but Mark adds another reason Jesus wanted to get away with his disciples. Jesus had sent out the Twelve to go to the cities of Israel and heal the sick, cast out demons, and proclaim the Good News about the Kingdom of God (Mark 6:7-12). When the disciples gathered back to Jesus, he wanted to make sure they had some rest time, because they were not even getting enough time to eat (Mark 6:30-32).

Once again we can learn an important lesson from Jesus Christ: self-care is important. Many people are not good at taking care of themselves, and that is to their hurt. We only have one body, and if we want to do well in life and be mentally, physically, and emotionally whole and healed, we have to take care of it. We have to rest, eat well, get exercise, and think godly thoughts. But the Devil and the world are very good at talking us out of those things. Christians need to learn that saying “Yes” to one thing is saying “No” to another, and we must have the discipline to say “No,” even to things we want to do, if we have not yet said “Yes” to the things we need to do for ourselves. Many good and fun things are not good if they keep us from godly self-care.

Mat 14:14

“a large crowd.” The multitudes in Matthew 14:13 had gathered into a crowd and met him on the shore of the Sea of Galilee.

Mat 14:15(top)
Mat 14:16(top)
Mat 14:17(top)
Mat 14:18(top)
Mat 14:19(top)
Mat 14:20

“twelve baskets full.” See commentary on Matthew 15:37.

Mat 14:21

“besides women and children.” That is, not including women and children. If we add the women and children, it is very possible the crowd that ate was 10,000 or more.

Mat 14:22

The record in Matthew 14:22-33 (Mark 6:45-51; John 6:15-21) is a good example of how different Gospels treat the records of Christ’s life, because all four Gospels record Jesus feeding the 5,000, so what happens after that could be similar. We must keep in mind that although there is a “total picture” of what Jesus did, each Gospel portrays that in a different way to reveal and emphasize different things. The Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and John record Jesus walking on the water, but Luke says nothing about it at all. Only Matthew records that Peter walked on the water. This no doubt helped people recognize the primacy of Peter in relation to the rest of the apostles, and also showed that Peter’s personal doubt was created by fear and taking his eyes off Jesus, a valuable lesson. By leaving the Peter event off, Mark is better able to emphasize the hardness of the disciples’ hearts and that they had not gained insight from the multiplying of the loaves, something that would have been overshadowed by the Peter incident. Thus Mark emphasizes that we are all supposed to learn from the examples of Jesus--what Jesus did and what is recorded about him is not just for us to know, but for us to learn from in our own walks. The Gospel of John does not focus on Jesus’ interaction with the apostles at all, but keeps its focus on what Jesus said and did, thus elevating him as the Son of God.

“immediately he made.” See commentary on Mark 6:45.

Mat 14:23(top)
Mat 14:24

“a long way from the land.” The Greek is literally, “many stadia away from the land,” and a “stadia” was about 607 feet or 185 meters. Since the text simply says “many stadia,” the translation “a long way” represents the distance well enough without introducing the stadia measurement into the text.

“being battered.” The ship was being battered by the waves, and the disciples were being battered by rowing against them (Mark 6:48).

Mat 14:25

“fourth watch of the night.” At the time of Christ, both the Jews and Romans divided the night into four watches, each being three hours long: 6-9 p.m., 9-12 p.m., 12-3 a.m., and 3-6 a.m. So the fourth watch of the night started at our 3 a.m. (see commentary on Mark 6:48 and 13:35). So this is sometime between 3 a.m. and 6 a.m. Since the Apostles had started sometime before sunset (Mark 6:47) and it was now at least 3 a.m., so the Apostles had been rowing for at least six hours to go about five or six miles.

Mat 14:26

“ghost” is from the Greek phantasma, which means “an appearance.” Something that would appear and be of the spiritual world. Ghost is not exactly a perfect translation, since “ghost” means the spirit of a dead person, while “phantasma” might be any sort of spiritual appearance. Nevertheless, the disciples yelling, “It is an appearance!” just does not seem to do the verse justice.

Mat 14:27(top)
Mat 14:28(top)
Mat 14:29(top)
Mat 14:30

“saw.” The Greek is blepō (#991 βλέπω), and it means to see, but its range of meaning includes, “to notice, to pay attention to.” Peter was so focused on the Lord that even though he and the others had been fighting the wind, he did not pay attention to it. However, once he was away from the boat and out on the water, his attention once again turned to the strength of the wind and he “saw” it clearly.

Mat 14:31(top)
Mat 14:32(top)
Mat 14:33

“paid him homage.” See commentary on Matthew 2:2.

Mat 14:34

“Gennesaret.” This is where Jesus and the disciples landed, and it is confirmed in Mark 6:53. The records of Matthew, Mark, and John must be understood in light of the storm, which was coming from the northwest, so that the apostles on the boat were rowing right into it. Jesus apparently told them to go “toward” (pros = toward) Bethsaida (Mark 6:45), and the Gospel of John says that the apostles were sailing “to” (eis = to, into) Capernaum (John 6:16). Thus, Capernaum is likely where Jesus told the apostles to go. Bethsaida was almost a suburb of Capernaum, which was a major city, and the site of a tax office and Roman troops, so for travel purposes, the names Bethsaida and Capernaum were basically synonymous. However, when Jesus got on the boat, that is not where they eventually went. Both Matthew and Mark make it clear that the boat landed at Gennesaret, which was a fertile plain just south and west of Capernaum. At the time of Christ, it was densely populated and had a small city by the same name on it. According to Josephus, date palms, figs, walnuts, olives, and grapes were all grown there. No doubt Jesus planned to go to Capernaum shortly, but landed at Gennesaret and healed people there, then made the short walk to Capernaum, where he was when the people found him (John 6:24).

Mat 14:35(top)
Mat 14:36(top)

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