What does Matthew 14:23 mean?
ESV: And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone,
NIV: After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. Later that night, he was there alone,
NASB: After He had sent the crowds away, He went up on the mountain by Himself to pray; and when it was evening, He was there alone.
CSB: After dismissing the crowds, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray. Well into the night, he was there alone.
NLT: After sending them home, he went up into the hills by himself to pray. Night fell while he was there alone.
KJV: And when he had sent the multitudes away, he went up into a mountain apart to pray: and when the evening was come, he was there alone.
Verse Commentary:
After performing an astonishing miracle, Jesus immediately sent the crowds of people away on foot. He ordered the disciples away by boat (Matthew 14:13–22). He is eager for some time alone on the high hills near Bethsaida (John 6:15). More specifically, Jesus wanted time alone with His Father in prayer. Matthew doesn't tell us what Jesus prayed about, but the fact that Jesus was aware of His need for prayer, even as the Son of God, should motivate those who follow Him to seek out time to pray, as well.

Jesus was still alone "when evening came." The period known as "evening" in this era began in late afternoon and lasted through sunset. Evening had already started when the disciples first brought up the issue of food for the people (Matthew 14:15), so Matthew probably means this was nearing dusk. It was late in the evening as Jesus prayed alone on the mountain. By this time, the disciples were stuck rowing on a rough sea against a strong wind as they worked their way across the Sea of Galilee.
Verse Context:
Matthew 14:22–33 contains the miracle of Jesus walking on the water. Immediately after feeding thousands of people from a single small portion, Jesus goes up to a mountain to pray. The disciples spend a long night rowing against a strong wind. Jesus walks across the lake to meet them. Peter walks on the water with Jesus briefly before becoming afraid of the wind and waves and beginning to sink. Jesus saves Peter and asks why he doubted. The wind stops when Jesus gets in the boat, and the disciples worship Him as the Son of God.
Chapter Summary:
Matthew 14 begins with a backstory about the arrest and execution of John the Baptist by Herod the tetrarch, the Jewish ruler of the region. Jesus and the disciples take a boat to a desolate place only to find crowds waiting. Jesus heals many and then feeds as many as twenty thousand people with five loaves and two fish. Later, the disciples row against a strong wind until Jesus walks on the water to meet them and calm the wind. Peter walks on water briefly and then doubts and begins to sink. The disciples worship Jesus. On the other side of the lake, Jesus continues to heal the sick.
Chapter Context:
Matthew 13 included more of Jesus' parables and an unfortunate incident where His own hometown rejected His ministry. Chapter 14 begins with news that Herod the tetrarch—the man who killed John the Baptist—is aware of Jesus' fame and power. Jesus and the disciples intend to withdraw to somewhere desolate, but a crowd is waiting for them. Jesus heals people, miraculously feeds thousands, and walks on water. When they reach the other side, Jesus heals more people. Chapter 15 sees Jesus once again debating with His critics and performing more healings.
Book Summary:
The Gospel of Matthew clearly shows the influence of its writer's background, and his effort to reach a specific audience. Matthew was one of Jesus' twelve disciples, a Jewish man, and a former tax collector. This profession would have required literacy, and Matthew may have transcribed some of Jesus' words as they were spoken. This book is filled with references to the Old Testament, demonstrating to Israel that Jesus is the Promised One. Matthew also includes many references to coins, likely due to his former profession. Matthew records extensive accounts of Jesus' teaching, more than the other three Gospels.
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