What does Matthew 4:15 mean?
ESV: "The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, the way of the sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles —
NIV: "Land of Zebulun and land of Naphtali, the Way of the Sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles—
CSB: Land of Zebulun and land of Naphtali, along the road by the sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles.
NLT: 'In the land of Zebulun and of Naphtali, beside the sea, beyond the Jordan River, in Galilee where so many Gentiles live,
KJV: The land of Zebulun, and the land of Naphtali, by the way of the sea, beyond Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles;
NKJV: “The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, By the way of the sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles:
Verse Commentary:
Jesus is living in the region of Galilee in northern Israel. He has moved from his hometown of Nazareth in central Galilee to Capernaum, a fishing town on the northern coast of the Sea of Galilee (Matthew 4:12–13). Matthew identifies this move as the fulfilment of a prophecy by Isaiah in Isaiah 9:1–2, a Scripture that points to the coming of the Messiah.

Capernaum and the region around it fell within the ancient boundaries of the tribes of Zebulun and Naphtali. This land was given to them during the time of Joshua, after Israel had driven out the peoples of Palestine. Though the area may have had economic advantages, it was a long way from the religious and cultural centers of Jerusalem and Judea. In this way, it was thought to be "dark."

Matthew quotes Isaiah chapter 9, beginning in verse 1, to make that point. Scholars aren't exactly sure which translation of the original he is using, however. The ESV translates Isaiah 9:1 from the original language as follows:
"But there will be no gloom for her who was in anguish. In the former time he brought into contempt the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but in the latter time he has made glorious the way of the sea, the land beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the nations."
Jesus moving to Galilee marked a significant fulfilment of this ancient Scripture, one that comes into clear view in the following verse.
Verse Context:
Matthew 4:12–17 shows Jesus' travel and ministry in Capernaum, on the Sea of Galilee. This fulfills another ancient prophecy about the Messiah, found in Isaiah 9:1–2. Scriptures promised a great light would dawn in the region once occupied by the tribes of Zebulun and Naphtali, near the Sea of Galilee. Once thought of as ''dark'' because of its nearness to the Gentile nations and distance from Jerusalem, Galilee is the region in which the light of the Messiah will first shine brightly.
Chapter Summary:
Matthew 3 ended with the Holy Spirit coming to rest on Jesus following His baptism. Now the Spirit leads Him into the wilderness to endure tempting by the devil after 40 days of fasting. Jesus demonstrates His sinlessness by resisting all temptations. He begins His ministry in the region of Galilee, settling in Capernaum and calling some disciples to follow Him. Jesus' work in Galilee includes traveling from place to place, proclaiming the good news that the kingdom of heaven is near and healing every kind of affliction. He soon becomes famous, drawing huge crowds from great distances.
Chapter Context:
Matthew 3 ends with a great affirmation from the voice of God the Father: Jesus is His Son. Immediately after that, God's Spirit leads Jesus into the wilderness for a time of temptation by the devil. Jesus passes that test and then begins His ministry in the region of Galilee. Jesus begins to call His disciples and travel around the region. He teaches in the synagogues and heals people with every kind of affliction. Jesus' fame grows quickly. This provides Him a large audience for the Sermon on the Mount, which Matthew begins to record in chapter 5.
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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