Second Sunday After Pentecost

Matthew 4:18-23


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 18  As he walked by the Sea of Galilee, 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, "Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men."

20  Immediately they left their nets and followed him.

21  And going on from there he saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee and John his brother, in the boat with Zebedee their father, mending their nets, and he called them.

22  Immediately they left the boat and their father, and followed him.

23  And he went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and preaching the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every infirmity among the people.

18 Περιπατῶν δὲ παρὰ τὴν θάλασσαν τῆς Γαλιλαίας εἶδε δύο ἀδελφούς, Σίμωνα τὸν λεγόμενον Πέτρον καὶ Ἀνδρέαν τὸν ἀδελφόν αὐτοῦ, βάλλοντας ἀμφίβληστρον εἰς τὴν θάλασσαν· ἦσαν γὰρ ἁλιεῖς. 19 καὶ λέγει αὐτοῖς· δεῦτε ὀπίσω μου καὶ ποιήσω ὑμᾶς ἁλιεῖς ἀνθρώπων. 20 οἱ δὲ εὐθέως ἀφέντες τὰ δίκτυα ἠκολούθησαν αὐτῷ. 21 Καὶ προβὰς ἐκεῖθεν εἶδεν ἄλλους δύο ἀδελφούς, Ἰάκωβον τὸν τοῦ Ζεβεδαίου καὶ Ἰωάννην τὸν ἀδελφὸν αὐτοῦ, ἐν τῷ πλοίῳ μετὰ Ζεβεδαίου τοῦ πατρὸς αὐτῷ καταρτίζοντας τὰ δίκτυα αὐτῶν, καὶ ἐκάλεσεν αὐτούς. 22 οἱ δὲ εὐθέως ἀφέντες τὸ πλοῖον καὶ τὸν πατέρα αὐτῶν ἠκολούθησαν αὐτῷ.

 23 Καὶ περιῆγεν ὅλην τὴν Γαλιλαίαν ὁ Ἰησοῦς διδάσκων ἐν ταῖς συναγωγαῖς αὐτῶν καὶ κηρύσσων τὸ εὐαγγέλιον τῆς βασιλείας καὶ θεραπεύων πᾶσαν νόσον καὶ πᾶσαν μαλακίαν ἐν τῷ λαῷ.



Larger Thought Unit

Today’s short reading introduces Jesus’ beginning ministry to Israel, a major section in the gospel of Matthew (4:17-16:20).  The calling of disciples in the text is short and abrupt with the command to “follow me.”  Christ is pictured as taking the initiative in the form of a command with the focus on “catching people.”  Here the nature of Christ’s mission is revealed and finds its complement in last week’s reading from Matthew 10 and ultimately in the last “command” in Matthew’s gospel to go and make disciples of all nations” (28:19).  So what appears to start as a narrow focus to Israel will end with the “nations/gentiles” as the place of harvest.



The Sea of Galilee is a stand-in for the Roman/Mediterranean Sea and represents the Roman empire where Jews and Gentiles live together and to whom the gospel is to be preached: to the Jews by Peter and to the Gentiles by Paul (Gal 2:7-8). However, since it is one and the same gospel (Gal 2:7-8; also 1:6-7), the fellowship between Jews and Gentiles is supposed to be complete.  This Peter ends up betraying (Gal 2:11-14). The stress on the acceptance of the Gentiles as they are is reflected in today’s gospel reading in that not only is Simon [a Hebrew name] introduced also as Peter [a Greek name from the same root as “rock”], but also he is coupled with his brother Andrew [also a Greek name, meaning the “manly” one]. Thus Peter, Paul’s counterpart, is presented as having fully accepted the apostolic mission entrusted to him, as is clear from his reaction: “Immediately they left their nets and followed him.” So do James and John.  This reflects the three pillars’ endorsement of the Pauline gospel and apostleship (Gal 2:9). Jesus leads the way into (the) “Galilee” (of the nations), the Roman empire, where the gospel of the kingdom (see Rom 14:17; 1 Cor 4:20; 6:9-10; 15:24, 50; Gal 5:21; Eph 5:5; Col 1:13; 4:11; 1 Thess 2:12; 2 Thess 1:5) is preached also in the synagogues, bringing healing to the “people,” i.e., the Jews, just as it does to the nations (Rev 22:2).  Notice also the use of μαλακίαν (infirmity) in Mt 4:23, which is from the same root as μαλακοὶ... That is part of a series of attributes typical of the Gentile Corinthians and appears in conjunction with the “kingdom of God” (1 Cor 6:9-10).


Further resource

David E. Garland, Reading Matthew, Crossroad Publishing Company, NY, NY, 1995; pp. 46ff.

Paul Nadim Tarazi, New Testament Introduction, Vol.1: Paul and Mark, St Vladimir’s Seminary Press, Crestwood, NY, 1999; pp.141-43.

Paul Nadim Tarazi, New Testament Introduction, Vol.2: Luke and Acts, St Vladimir’s Seminary Press, Crestwood, NY, 2001; pp.49-50.

Paul Nadim Tarazi, New Testament Introduction, Vol.3: Johannine Writings, St Vladimir’s Seminary Press, Crestwood, NY, 2004; pp.258-63.


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