No less a historian than E. P. Sanders declares it an "almost indisputable" historical fact that "Jesus was a Galilean who preached and healed" (1985:11) and that "the sheer volume of evidence makes it extremely likely that Jesus actually had a reputation as an exorcist" (1993:149; see also Meier 1994:646-77).
Technically this paragraph in Matthew serves as part of the narrative introduction to the Sermon on the Mount, although it is included in the "introduction" to Jesus' ministry here (1:1-4:23) because of the title I have chosen for the next section. Before each of the first two discourse sections, Matthew includes a summary of Jesus' kingdom works (4:23-25; 9:35). Jesus was teaching and preaching the good news of the kingdom. Teaching generally involved ethical or apologetic instruction, whereas preaching was proclamation aimed at bringing about conversion (Dodd 1980:7-8; compare Guelich 1982:43). Yet Jesus not only proclaimed and explained the kingdom; he demonstrated God's authority by healing the sick and expelling demons (Ladd 1978a:47). That he healed "all" diseases (4:23; NIV every disease) may mean every kind of sickness rather than every sick person, since the all of verse 24 is necessarily hyperbole; surely suppliants did not bring every sick person in Syria to him (Blomberg 1992:92 n. 5)!
IVP New Testament Commentaries are made available by the generosity of InterVarsity Press.
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