Palms Baptist Church Bible Study
Matthew 4:12-22: Kingdom of Heaven
July 20, 2021

Matthew 4:12-22: Kingdom of Heaven

July 20, 2021

12 When Jesus heard that John had been put in prison, he withdrew to Galilee.

  • Two views on this:
    • Matthew states two facts but not dependent on each other
      • Fact 1: John was arrested
      • Fact 2: Jesus moved to Galilee
    • Jesus withdrew to Galilee BECAUSE John was arrested
  • Galilee was a growing economic region
    • Josephus states there were 204 villages in Galilee but none had less than 15,000 people
    • Totaled about 3.6 million people in region

 13 Leaving Nazareth, he went and lived in Capernaum, which was by the lake in the area of Zebulun and Naphtali— 

  • “Leaving Nazareth”
    • Two views:
      • Chronologically, this may be when Jesus announces his ministry in the synagogue in Nazareth and is chased out (Luke 4:16-30)
      • Could also be is He is on the run from Roman authorities
  • “lived in Capernaum”
    • Means “village of Nahum”
      • Nahum was a prophet to the Gentiles (Jonah Part II)
    • Matthew himself is from Capernaum
    • Acted as the base for Jesus’ ministry in Galilee
    • Sat on the primary trade route to Asia minor and Rome (all 204 villages in Galilee went through Capernaum)
  • “Zebulun and Naphtali”
    • Two northern tribes of Israel who were still in exile at this time (North Africa and Bablyon)
    • Only Jews would associate Capernaum in these terms

14 to fulfill what was said through the prophet Isaiah:15 “Land of Zebulun and land of Naphtali,  the Way of the Sea, beyond the Jordan,Galilee of the Gentiles—

  • Quoting Isaiah 8:1-9:6
  • “Galilee of the Gentiles”
    • Isaiah written over 700 years before Jesus
    • This term makes sense in the times of Jesus- NOT Isaiah

16 the people living in darkness
    have seen a great light;
on those living in the land of the shadow of death
    a light has dawned.”

  • Matthew demonstrates that the Messiah would always shine to the Gentiles

*We try to interpret predictive text with current context (just like we use current context for past events)

17 From that time on Jesus began to preach, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.”

  • “Jesus began to Preach”
    • Word “preach” is the Greek word kerussein that means a “proclamation from a king”
    • To Matthew, this was the true nature of Jesus’ ministry
      • He was not a healer who preached, but a preacher/teacher who healed
    • Luke emphasizes the healing power of Jesus (As a doctor), Matthew loves what Jesus taught (As a Jew)

*Preachers/teachers carry the burden that their message acts as one DIRECTLY FROM A KING. To misrepresent a king or a king’s message would lead to death

  • “Repent”
    • Continues the same message as John the Baptist (See study two weeks ago titled, “Fire is Coming”)
  • “Kingdom of Heaven has come near”
    • Kingdom is here, and to come

What is the Kingdom of Heaven?

The Kingdom of Heaven is not a , but God’s

The Kingdom of Heaven God’s Rule on Earth

The Kingdom of Heaven is !

The Kingdom of Heaven is our and

  • Isaiah 8:1-9:6 gives context for the message

  • We all carry a perceived truth tested against a ground/Real truth
    • Most commanders in AARs reach the same conclusion when shown the ground truth, but their decisions differ based off of their perceived truth
    • Likewise, we all carry a perceived truth, Christ gives us a ground truth to operate from
    • Maybe, when we disagree its because we are being presented different truths..?
      • Ex: BLM Riots
      • Ex: Capitol Riot
  • Isaiah 8:1-9:6 gives context for the “light”
    • Israel is worshiping idols, sacrificing to other gods, paying prophets to consult with the dead.
    • Context for verse Matthew quotes is they are in CONFUSION and a light enters that brings clarity

*Worldly people do not understand the world…they depend solely on a few abstract truths and maxims that lack founddation

*Christianity does not claim that we have or know the full truth, but that we know enough of the TRUTH that is Jesus

*Christianity is meant to be doubtful about ourselves, but undoubting of the supreme truth of Jesus

We live in a world in constant rebellion. The world rebels against the Kingdom of God and we believers rebel against the kingdom of earth. A real rebel, however, tells you not only the system it rebels against, but the system it would not rebel against. Many reduce Jesus’ execution simply in terms of his rebellion, but Jesus did not just rebel against a system but ushered in a system of truth by which we all would not rebel against. We are real rebels. The problem is, the worldly rebel has become a skeptic of everything with no loyalty to any foundation, that they rebel against everything. The world is in such a state of confusion that it not only denounces a system but also denounces the doctrine they use to denounce the systems.


  • They lead the #MeToo movement for violating the sanctity of sex and woman, then call Christianity oppressive because we treat sex as sacred.
  • They scream war is a waste of life, then turnaround and posit life doesn’t matter and is a waste of time.
  • When a police officer shoots a minority, then they argue from the highest political, moral and ethical standards to prove why it is wrong, then prove by their highest philosophical standards that a supreme moral or ethical authority does not exist.
  • They scream men objectify and reduce women’s value by how they dress, wear lipstick, and physical figure, then turnaround and reduce and objectify women themselves by stating a man wearing a dress, lipstick, and gets a boob job is now a woman.
  • My experience in university:
      • In sociology, we discussed how the current systems oppress certain classes and demographics of people that reduce them to being treated as animals, then, in Biology they teach that we practically are beasts and random deviations from animals
      • In Biology we learn that the law of self-preservation and survival of the fittest is the supreme law that governs us, then in economics posit that our capitalistic system is evil because its ruled by survival of the fittest (Same to the contrary)
      • In my philosophy of morality class, we discussed how humanity has trampled on morality, then with the same professor on ethics we discussed how morality has trampled on humanity

  • Four loves of Greek
    • Storge = Love
    • Eros = Love
    • Phileo = / Love
    • Agape = / Love

Jesus all these loves for us

  • Jesus wins our affection – Paul uses term in Philippians, Romans,
  • The cross is known as the PASSION of Christ
  • Jesus calls us friend and brother – John 15:15; Hebrews 2:11
  • For God so AGAPE the world that He gave His only Son (Jesus) – John 3:16

Jesus these loves in us

  • Marriage example:
    • If Eros leaves the marriage, you reduce your spouse to a common friend
    • If Companionship leaves the marriage, you reduce your spouse to a sexual object
    • If Affection leaves the marriage, you reduce your spouse to a business partner

*Jesus introduces the Agape love to us, so common believers can fall back on. A love received is a love given. In the marriage example, if all else fails, two believers fall back to the unconditional love to repair the marriage

  • “The Kingdom of Heaven is AT HAND” does not mean just someday, but here and now
    • Many Christians hope rest in a “someday in the future” hope and fail to possess it now
    • This leads to many believers living a miserable, hope-free life that manifests in many elements of practical application of the gospel (Why care about the environment if God will destroy it? My home is not here but in heaven (not true)
    • Christianity is meant to be the shining system that ALL long for!
  • The problem with the current gospel message in America is it often lacks a CURRENT HOPE!

*If we want a mission-centered church and to live a mission-centered life, we need a hope-centered mission!

18 As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. 19 “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.” 20 At once they left their nets and followed him.

21 Going on from there, he saw two other brothers, James son of Zebedee and his brother John. They were in a boat with their father Zebedee, preparing their nets. Jesus called them, 22 and immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him.

  • Two unique observations in context:
    • In 1st century Israel, many Rabbis and Teachers emerged and collected a following of disciples; so that’s not unique to Jesus. What is, however, is those disciples would choose the teacher they become a disciple of. Here, they don’t choose Jesus, but Jesus chooses them.
      • Some modern theological camps would use this as a “proof text in context” for deterministic theism; but its not. Jesus had many disciples (Later, Jesus sends out the 70 disciples). When we think disciple we think of the “Twelve,” but what makes the “Twelve” unique is that Jesus chose them, but ALL His other disciples chose him.
    • When a disciple chose to follow a teacher, many preparations were made, and many consisted of rituals, oaths and vows. Here, there is none of that, but simply an immediate obedience to follow
      • Why do they immediately follow Jesus?
        • My answer: Just as Matthew uses the royal proclamation term earlier in the chapter for “preach,” here Jesus, the rightful king of Israel tells these men to follow and they immediately obey. It was not out of uber-spiritual awareness, but of patriotism

Questions for Guided Discussion

  1. Read verse 12 – Why do you think Jesus retreated to Galilee? Was John’s arrest linked? Was Jesus in His human nature reactive or was he proactive?
  2. Read verse 13 – Why did Jesus leave Nazareth? How does the narrative in Luke 4:16-30 apply to Matthew’s statement?
  3. Why is Capernaum so significant? Economically? Politically? Biblically? Strategically?
  4. Read verse 14-15 – How does the context of Isaiah 8 and 9 help you understand the purpose of Jesus’ ministry in Galilee?
  5. Read verse 16 – How does the confusion of Israel during Isaiah’s day similar to the confusion of America now? How does the promise of Christ’s light practically apply today?
  6. Read verse 17 – What does it mean to be a rebel to the world? What systems do we rebel against?
  7. How does the Kingdom of Heaven and the gospel system fix the broken systems of the world? Where does current Christianity lack? Where is it effectively active?
  8. How have you typically viewed heaven? Does the approach to view heaven as “God’s space” versus “God’s place’ help you? Does it confuse you?
  9. What does it mean that WE ARE THE KINGDOM? As an ambassador, do you properly reflect the Kingdom of Heaven in your life? Where do you need correction? Where do you need encouragement?
  10. Read verses 18-22 – In Christ’s day, disciples chose their teachers, but here Jesus chooses them. In fact, there are only 12 disciples Jesus explicitly chooses while all other disciples chose him. Why is this significant? What does that tell us?
  11. Another unique feature of Jesus’ recruitment is that they immediately follow Him. What factors contribute to immediate obedience? Was it spiritual? Was it who Jesus was by lineage?


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