Matthew 4:17 - Repentance According To Jesus.

Mat.4:17: Repentance According To Jesus.

CONTENT; What's in the verse; Translations; Paraphrase; Word 

Mat 4:17 (KJV)  From that time Jesus began to preach, and to 
say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. 

Mat 4:17 (NLT)  From then on, Jesus began to preach, "Turn from 
your sins and turn to God, because the Kingdom of Heaven is near." 

CONTEXT; What's around the verse; Overview; Topic:

John predicted Messiah's appearance, and preached baptism as a 
sign of repentance (3:1-12). Christ was baptized to identify Himself 
with John's righteous message (vv. 13-17). The Spirit then led Jesus 
into the wilderness, where He overcame temptation and demonstrated 
His commitment to God (4:1-11). Thus prepared, Jesus began to preach 
(vv. 12-17), called His first disciples (vv. 18-22), and demonstrated 
His God-given authority by miracles of healing (vv. 23-25). [The 
365-Day Devotional Commentary] 

4:17-25 The Community Is Called
Jesus' message was precisely the same as John the Baptist's 
(4:17; cf. 3:2). Jesus started where John left off, but he would soon 
go far beyond all that John had said and done (cf., for example, 
4:23-25; 5:1-7:29). The call of the first disciples in 4:18-22 
chronologically follows the events of John 1:35-51. This was not the first 
contact that these men had had with Jesus. They had heard John the 
Baptist identify him as the Lamb of God and had traveled with Jesus to 
Cana where they had seen his first miracle (John 2:1-11). But now at 
Jesus' invitation, they left their fishing to become fishers of men by 
proclaiming the gospel. The gospel was the "good news" of forgiveness for 
those who would repent and align themselves with the righteous remnant 
(cf. Isa. 1:19-20; 25:6-9; 51:1-8; Mal. 4:1-2). 
Jesus was teaching in the synagogues (Matt. 4:23; cf. Luke 
4:16-22), announcing the kingdom (cf. Matt. 4:17), and authenticating his 
message by miracles (12:28; cf. John 20:30-31). The stress on healing 
was leading up to the Matthew 8:17 quote of Isaiah 53:4. Healing was 
a picture or outward sign of a greater restoration based on the 
forgiveness of sins (Matt. 9:6). Many interesting things happened during 
this part of Jesus' ministry, but Matthew rushed through the events 
to give the reader a sense of the general impact and growing 
ministry of Jesus. 
"Decapolis" (4:25) was a Gentile district east of the Jordan 
River known for its splendid Greek cities. This section (4:17-25) gave 
a quick summary of Jesus' teaching, preaching, and healing 
ministries as a contextual background for Jesus' well-known Sermon on the 
Mount in the following chapters (Matt. 5-7). [New Bible Companion] 


Jesus Begins His Ministry in Galilee
Jesus Begins His Ministry  (4:12-17)
Teaching and Healing  (4:12-25)

CROSS REFERENCES; What's in verses elsewhere.

Matthew 3:2 (KJV)  And saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of 
heaven is at hand.  

Matthew 9:13 (KJV)  But go ye and learn what that meaneth, I 
will have mercy, and not sacrifice: for I am not come to call the 
righteous, but sinners to repentance.  

Mark 1:14-15 (KJV)  Now after that John was put in prison, Jesus 
came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, [15] 
And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at 
hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel.  

Acts 2:38 (KJV)  Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be 
baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission 
of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.  

Acts 3:19 (KJV)  Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that 
your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come 
from the presence of the Lord;  

Acts 20:21 (KJV)  Testifying both to the Jews, and also to the 
Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.  

Acts 26:20 (KJV)  But shewed first unto them of Damascus, and at 
Jerusalem, and throughout all the coasts of Judaea, and then to the 
Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, and do works meet for 

COMMENTARY / APPLICATION: Moving From The Head To The Heart
What is God teaching here? What does it teach about Jesus?


Began to preach, that is, in Galilee. The phrase does not 
necessarily imply that this was the first occasion upon which Jesus 
preached. About a year and a half of His public ministry was already in 
the past (see on v. 12). [SDA Commentary] 

With His victory won and His authority over inner, human 
frailties demonstrated, Jesus began His public ministry... It's significant 
that the personal, inner issues were settled before public ministry 
began. God wants to do an inner work in our lives too, to qualify us 
for ministry with others [The 365-Day Devotional Commentary] 


Jesus began his public ministry with the same message as that of 
John the Baptist (3:2). [NIV SB] 

John the Baptist and Jesus both called for persons to repent in 
preparation for the kingdom of heaven. Repentance is necessary for those 
entering the kingdom of God.... We must turn from our sin to His salvation. 
[Disciple SB] 

Jesus started his ministry with the very word people had heard 
John the Baptist say: "Repent." The message is the same today as when 
Jesus and John gave it. Becoming a follower of Christ means turning 
away from our self-centeredness and "self" control and turning our 
life over to Christ's direction and control. [Life Application SB] 

Turning from sin and exchanging confidence in human systems of 
rules to trust and reliance on God is the entrance requirement for 
God's kingdom. [Disciple SB] 

There is constant danger of falling into sin, for Christ has 
warned us to watch and pray lest we enter into temptation. If we are 
conscious of the weakness of self, we shall not be self-confident and 
reckless of danger; but we shall feel the necessity of seeking to the 
Source of our strength, Jesus our righteousness. We shall come in 
repentance and contrition, with a despairing sense of our own finite 
weakness, and learn that we must daily apply to the merits of the blood of 
Christ, that we may become vessels fit for the Master's use. ST05-19-90 

He who is truly penitent does not forget his past sins, and grow 
careless about them as soon as he has obtained forgiveness.... astonished  
that he should have continued in rebellion so long. He renews his 
repentance toward God, while he grasps more decidedly the hand of Jesus 
Christ, and finds that repentance is a daily, continued exercise, 
lasting until mortality is swallowed up of life. ST11-26-94 

All who take their position on the Lord's side will, as branches 
of the True Vine, receive nourishment, and will be stimulated by 
the vine to bear like fruit. They will be in co operation with God, 
according to their ability exercising themselves unto godliness by walking 
in newness of life, which is daily repentance toward God, and faith 
toward our Lord Jesus Christ. RH02-23-97 

Satan provides humans an alternative to serving God. This is 
part of human freedom. Jesus exercised His freedom to serve God and 
God's purposes. He showed that Satan can be defeated. He also showed 
that accomplishing God's purposes through Satan's methods is wrong. 
Providing food for the hungry, displaying God's power and will to care for 
His own, and establishing Christ's kingdom are all part of God's 
ultimate purpose. Each must be done under God's leadership, not Satan's. 
[Disciple SB] 

Everywhere Jesus went He proclaimed the twofold message of 
repentance and faith in God (Mar.1:15).  The faith He proclaimed was not 
mere mental assent, but the kind of faith that produces change in 
people's lives. There is no such thing as biblical faith that does not 
produce obedience... 
It is important to note that the Bible identifies both a true 
and a false repentance.  2Cor.7:10 says, "Godly grief produces a 
repentance that leads to salvation and brings no regret, but worldly grief 
produces death."  Godly grief is true repentance, and true repentance is 
more than contrition.  A person may be sorrowful over his sins yet 
unrepentant because he is sorrowing for the wrong reasons.  Instead of 
sorrowing because his sins have hurt and disappointed God, he may just 
feel bad because his sins have been personally painful, stressful, or 
costly, or because his sins have been found out.  If there is no change 
in character, there has been no true repentance.... 
The results of false repentance are seen everywhere in the 
church.  Hearts are unbroken.  Sin is covered up... And many professing 
Christians do not walk in the light with God and one another.  The fruit of 
true repentance is a change of mind, heart, and behavior.  [Floyd 
McClung; Time with God devotional SB] 


The "kingdom of heaven" has the same meaning as the "kingdom of 
God" in Mark and Luke. Matthew uses this phrase because the Jews, out 
of their intense reverence and respect, did not pronounce God's 
name. [Life Application SB] 

God's kingdom is the central focus of the teaching of Jesus. The 
kingdom of God means, primarily, the sovereign and righteous rule of God 
over the lives of those who have accepted His rule and are striving 
to live in accordance with His will. The kingdom of God is both a 
present reality and a future culminating hope. Life in the kingdom, 
whether present or future, is God-centered and God-controlled. [Disciple 

The kingdom of heaven is an expression used exclusively by 
Matthew (31 times) in the NT, in preference to the more common term 
"kingdom of God," which Matthew himself uses five times, and the other NT 
writers use exclusively. The substitution of "heaven" for "God" is in 
harmony with the custom of the Jews of Christ's day to avoid uttering 
the sacred name for God, in the same way as they used the 
expressions "name of heaven" for "name of God"; "fear of heaven" for "fear 
of God"; "honor of heaven" for "honor of God," etc.... The "kingdom 
of heaven," or "kingdom of God," constituted the theme of Jesus' 
teaching (Luke 4:43; 8:1). He introduced many of His parables with the 
words, "The kingdom of heaven is like [or likened]" (see Matt. 13:24, 
31, 33, 44, 45, 47). He taught His disciples to pray for the coming 
of the kingdom (ch. 6:10). His gospel was the good news of the 
kingdom (ch. 4:23; etc.). His disciples were the "children of the 
kingdom" (ch. 13:38). The Father was pleased to give them the kingdom 
(Luke 12:32), which they were to inherit (Matt. 25:34). In this life 
Christians must make the kingdom supreme in their affections and the great 
aim of life (ch. 6:33). When He sent forth the Twelve He instructed 
them to "preach the kingdom of God" (Luke 9:2, 60).... The "kingdom of 
heaven" was established at the first advent of Christ. Jesus Himself was 
King, and those who believed in Him became its subjects. The territory 
of the kingdom was the hearts and lives of the subjects. Obviously, 
the message Jesus bore referred to the kingdom of divine grace. But, 
as Jesus Himself made clear, this kingdom of grace was preparatory 
to the kingdom of glory [SDA Commentary] 

With Jesus' announcement that the kingdom was near (4:17), 
people were naturally asking, "How do I qualify to be in God's 
kingdom?" Jesus said that God's kingdom is organized differently from 
worldly kingdoms. In the kingdom of heaven, wealth and power and 
authority are unimportant. Kingdom people seek different blessings and 
benefits, and they have different attitudes. Are your attitudes a carbon 
copy of the world's selfishness, pride, and lust for power, or do 
they reflect the humility and self-sacrifice of Jesus, your King? 
[Life Application SB re Mat.5:11,12] 


The bible expression "at hand" is never a positive affirmation 
that the person or thing said to be near will immediately appear, but 
only that that person or thing has the quality of imminency. 
[Scofield SB]