- The Ancient Path, Matthew Chapter 4:18-22 Calling the First Disciples

The Gospel of Matthew
CHAPTER 4:18-22

Jesus Begins His Public Ministry -
Calling the First Disciples

Jim Deering,



4:18 Jesus Calls the First Disciples


Mk 1:21-28, Healing a Demoniac


Lk 4:38-41, Peter's Mother-in-law Healed


Mk 1:35-38, Jesus' First Tour of Galilee


 Mathew 4:18-22, The Calling of the First Disciples

Simon (Peter), and Andrew his brother


Matthew 4:18-20

And walking by the sea of Galilee, He saw two brothers, Simon who was called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen.  4:19  And He said to them, "Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men."  4:20  And they immediately left the nets, and followed Him.

When studying the Bible it would be good to understand that God reveals what He wants us to know through His writers. There is always "more to the story" than any, or all, of the writers. The events of the Scriptures happened to the characters involved - in real life. Too often we don't get the whole picture of an event unless we find more corresponding information somewhere in the rest of the book.


To see how this event comes about we need to take a look at Luke Chapter 5:1-11

"One day as Jesus was standing by the Lake of Gennesaret, [Sea of Galilee] the people were crowding around him and listening to the word of God. 2 He saw at the water’s edge two boats, left there by the fishermen, who were washing their nets. 3 He got into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon, and asked him to put out a little from shore. Then he sat down and taught the people from the boat. 4 When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch.” 5 Simon answered, “Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets.” 6 When they had done so, they caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break. 7 So they signaled their partners in the other boat to come and help them, and they came and filled both boats so full that they began to sink. 8 When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at Jesus’ knees and said, “Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!” 9 For he and all his companions were astonished at the catch of fish they had taken, 10 and so were James and John, the sons of Zebedee, Simon’s partners. Then Jesus said to Simon, “Don’t be afraid; from now on you will fish for people.” 11 So they pulled their boats up on shore, left everything and followed him.

James (son of Zebedee) and John his brother

Matthew 4:21

And going on from there He saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee[64], and John his brother, in the boat with Zebedee their father, mending their nets; and He called them. 4:22 And they immediately left the boat and their father, and followed Him.

Jesus, and his followers (groupies), were standing on the shore of the Sea of Galilee and He was teaching them as they walked. Just on the edge of the water there were two fishing boats which belonged to five men who were partners. At one boat there were three men (James, John, Zebedee their father) who were largely occupied with washing their fishing nets.


In the second boat was Andrew and Simon (Peter) who were largely occupied with mending their nets.

Jesus gets into the second boat with Andrew and Simon and He asked them to push off into the Sea. He requests that Simon put his net into the water and Simon assures Jesus that there are no fish to be had, but because it is Jesus who is asking (may already know Him) he lets his net down into the sea. Soon the net is full of fish and they signal James, John, and Zebedee to come help them with their full net - and they filled both boats with fish.


Jesus tells the four brothers, "don't be afraid," after Peter recognizes who Jesus is (the promised Son of God). And then Jesus tells them His purpose for this miracle - that He will make them "fishers of men."


Jesus then instructs them to follow after Him, which the do so immediately, and they leave the boats with James and John's father, Zebedee - who is apparently not called as an evangelist.


Zebedee is mentioned a number of times, but always in the context of His two sons. An interesting sidelight would concern Zebedee's wife, who we find often with Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of Jesus and Joseph. The last time we find them together is at the Cross for the Crucifixion of Jesus.


The story tells many things. It speaks of the growing crowd of witnesses and followers, the early relationships of the key characters who will become His disciples, the importance that Jesus placed upon those who were trained fishermen, and it also speaks to the necessity of a prophetic prophecy being fulfilled through a miracle that attests to the authenticity of who Jesus is.


We've mentioned before the importance of Jesus' miracles. Each is carefully designed to demonstrate His character as prophesied many years earlier. The miracles attest to His power, His person, and His authority.

Two of these men, Simon (Peter) and John (son of Zebedee) will be featured characters. It will be Peter who will define the nature of the Body of Christ as being in unity (neither Jew nor Gentile, but one new body). John, just a very young man, probably in his early teens at this time, who is defined as "The disciple that Jesus loved."


Teaching in the Synagogue of Capernaum authenticated by healing a demoniac

Mark 1:21-28

21 They *went into Capernaum[65]; and immediately on the Sabbath He entered the synagogue and began to teach. 22 They were amazed at His teaching; for He was teaching them as one having authority[66], and not as the scribes. 23 Just then there was a man in their synagogue with an unclean spirit; and he cried out, 24 saying, “What business do we have with each other, Jesus of Nazareth? Have You come to destroy us? I know who You are—the Holy One of God!” 25 And Jesus rebuked him, saying, “Be quiet, and come out of him!” 26 Throwing him into convulsions, the unclean spirit cried out with a loud voice and came out of him. 27 They were all amazed, so that they debated among themselves, saying, “What is this? A new teaching with authority! He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey Him.” 28 Immediately the news about Him spread everywhere into all the surrounding district of Galilee.

"From here to the end of Chapter 4 we see our Lord making the whole round of Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the glad tidings of the Kingdom and healing every disease and ever bodily weakness among the people. The work done was three-fold -- teaching, which was exclusively done in their synagogues, and that was expounding the scriptures, the law and the prophets. Preaching the glad tidings of the kingdom, which may have been done mostly to the large crowds of people who flocked around Him in public places, in the streets and at the side of the mountains."[67]


What exactly did Jesus preach? His mission was to educate the rabbis and the people as to the place and appearing of the Messiah. Such books as "The Messiah in Both Testaments,"[68] make clear the passages of the Old Testament concerning Messiah (and also include the fulfillment verses in the New Testament). According to Luke 4:16-31 Jesus has already publicly declared that He is this promised one.


"Closely connected with the preaching of the Gospel of the Kingdom was the healing of every disease not spiritual, but every bodily disease and weakness. The healing of disease is always connected with the preaching of the Gospel of the Kingdom. The healings were signs that the King is the Jehovah and that the Kingdom had drawn near. These signs of healing every disease are the powers of the world to come... Here we point out simply the fact, that it is not the Gospel of Grace which is preached, but that of the Kingdom. The Gospel of Grace needs no sign outwardly by healing of disease to demonstrate that it is God-given. Nowhere in the Epistles have we the promise that Gospel preaching is to be connected with healing of every bodily weakness and disease."[69]


His fame went forth into the whole of Syria. They flocked to Him. What a multitude it must have been! Satan had his mighty power resting upon that land. He knew that Christ had come to make an end of his power, hence he troubled his poor slaves with terrible diseases and by his demons took possession of his victims. When He comes again, the Sun of Righteousness will bring healing, and what we see at the end of the fourth of Matthew is but a faint outline of what will be when the Kingdom willhave come in the person of the returning King."[70]


Luke 4:38-41, Peter's Mother-in-law and Others Healed


Luke 4:38-39

38 Then He got up and left the synagogue, and entered Simon’s home. Now Simon’s mother-in-law was suffering from a high fever[71], and they asked Him to help her. 39 And standing over her, He rebuked the fever, and it left her; and she immediately got up and waited on them.

This is the verse that many protestants bring forth in order to take a poke at the Roman church's first high priest, the Pope. They name him as Simon Peter. Often this bit of humor clouds the real purpose of including this information in Luke's gospel.


The power of Jesus to speak just the word and have the body immediately recover from disease is another sign of who He is. The rest of the verses in this paragraph demonstrate the purpose of this event. Perhaps many hundreds of people had come to be healed - the power of Satan in full force working on the minds and bodies of those under his dominion to make them ill and desperate. Jesus comes, and with the touch of a hand they are made whole.


Luke 4:40-41

40 While the sun was setting, all those who had any who were sick with various diseases brought them to Him; and laying His hands on each one of them, He was healing them. 41 Demons also were coming out of many, shouting, “You are the Son of God!” But rebuking them, He would not allow them to speak, because they knew Him to be the Christ.

Why was Jesus careful in disallowing the demons from shouting out His identity? It is a matter of faith. Those who have come can see the clear evidence of who He is. Having demons shout out His identity could, too easily, make Him identified with the evil one. This is the very thing we are warned about in our future. One will come who is not the Christ but will proclaim that he is. He will come with hoards of demons who will publicly proclaim him, even through signs and miracles, that he is the Christ - "if the times were not cut short, even the elect would be lead astray (Matthew 24:24)."


Matthew 8:17

17 This was to fulfill what was spoken through Isaiah the prophet: “He Himself took our infirmities and carried away our diseases.”[72]

Matthew includes this note so that we will not miss the point of these signs and miracles. He quotes Isaiah who's chapter 53 is a great wealth of detail on the person and nature of God's Promised Messiah.


The Tour of Galilee with Simon and Others

Mark 1:35-38

35 In the early morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house, and went away to a secluded place, and was praying there. 36 Simon and his companions searched for Him; 37 they found Him, and *said to Him, “Everyone is looking for You.” 38 He *said to them, “Let us go somewhere else to the towns nearby, so that I may preach there also; for that is what I came for.”[73]

[64] The Apostle James, martyred under Herod Agrippa I (Acts 12:2), not the brother of Jesus. Other James': James the son of Alphaeus, James "the less" (Mk 15:40); also one of the Twelve (10:3); James, the half brother of Christ and writer of the epistle of James; James, the father or, less probably, brother of the apostle Judas (to be distinguished from Judas Iscariot; Luke 6:16; Acts 1:13)

[65] Capernaum was the home of Peter, Andrew, James and John.

[66] Jesus' teaching was based on His own personal authority in contrast to that of the scribes, whose manner of teaching was to quote the extra-biblical writings of scribes and Rabbis who had bone before (Rabbinical law).

[67] Gaebelein, A. C., The Gospel of Matthew, Vol. 1, Our Hope, NY, NY.

[68] Meldau, Fred John, "Messiah in Both Testaments," Christian Victory, Denver

[69] ibid, Gaebelein

[70] ibid, Gaebelein

[71] Only Luke the physician records this detail.

[72] Healing illnesses (which are a result of sin, in this case) was a preview of His complete dealing with sin on the cross (Isa 53:4).

[73] i.e., "that is why I left Capernaum."