teach and preach: See study note on Mt 4:23.
their cities: Evidently referring to the Jewish cities of that region (Galilee).
the Christ: Here the title “Christ,” meaning “Anointed One,” is preceded by the definite article in Greek. This is a way of indicating that Jesus was the promised Messiah, the one who had been anointed in a special sense.—See study notes on Mt 1:1; 2:4.
Look!: See study note on Mt 1:20.
Truly: See study note on Mt 5:18.
the Baptist: Or “the Immerser; the Dipper.”—See study note on Mt 3:1.
the goal toward which men press . . . those pressing forward: Two related Greek words used here convey the basic idea of forceful action or endeavor. Some Bible translators have understood them in a negative sense (that of acting with or suffering violence), but the context and the only other Biblical occurrence of the Greek verb, at Lu 16:16, make it reasonable to understand the terms in the positive sense of “going after something with enthusiasm; seeking fervently.” These words evidently describe the forceful actions or endeavors of those who responded to the preaching of John the Baptist, which put them in line to become prospective members of the Kingdom.
the Prophets and the Law: The reversal of the usual order, “the Law and the Prophets” (Mt 5:17; 7:12; 22:40; Lu 16:16), occurs only here. The general meaning is evidently the same (see study note on Mt 5:17), although the prophetic aspect of the Scriptures seems to be given more emphasis here. Even the Law is said to have prophesied, emphasizing its prophetic character.
Elijah: From the Hebrew name meaning “My God Is Jehovah.”
neither eating nor drinking: This evidently refers to John’s life of self-denial, which included fasting as well as adhering to the Nazirite requirement of abstaining from alcoholic beverages.—Nu 6:2-4; Mt 9:14, 15; Lu 1:15; 7:33.
Son of man: See study note on Mt 8:20.
tax collectors: See study note on Mt 5:46.
wisdom is proved righteous by its works: Here wisdom is personified and depicted as having works. In the parallel account at Lu 7:35, wisdom is depicted as having “children.” Wisdom’s children, or works—that is, the evidence produced by John the Baptist and Jesus—prove that the accusations against these two men are false. Jesus is, in effect, saying: ‘Look at the righteous works and conduct, and you will know that the charge is false.’
Capernaum: See study note on Mt 4:13.
heaven: Here used metaphorically to denote a highly favored position.
the Grave: Or “Hades,” that is, the common grave of mankind. (See Glossary, “Grave.”) Here used figuratively to represent the debasement that Capernaum would experience.
to you: Here the pronoun “you” is plural in Greek.
it will be more endurable for: See study note on Lu 10:12.
for you: Here the pronoun “you” is singular in Greek, evidently addressing the city.
to young children: Or “to childlike ones,” that is, humble, teachable individuals.
loaded down: Those whom Jesus beckons to come were “loaded down” by anxiety and toil. Their worship of Jehovah had become burdensome because of the human traditions that had been added to the Law of Moses. (Mt 23:4) Even the Sabbath, which was meant to be a source of refreshment, had become a burden.—Ex 23:12; Mr 2:23-28; Lu 6:1-11.
I will refresh you: The Greek word for “refresh” can refer both to rest (Mt 26:45; Mr 6:31) and to relief from toil in order to recover and regain strength (2Co 7:13; Phm 7). The context shows that taking on Jesus’ “yoke” (Mt 11:29) would involve service, not rest. The active Greek verb with Jesus as the subject conveys the thought of his rejuvenating and energizing weary ones so that they would desire to take up his light and kindly yoke.
Take my yoke upon you: Jesus used “yoke” figuratively in the sense of submission to authority and direction. If he had in mind a double yoke, one that God placed upon Jesus, then he would be inviting his disciples to get under the yoke with him and he would assist them. In that case, the phrase could be rendered: “Get under my yoke with me.” If the yoke is one that Jesus himself puts on others, then the reference is to submitting oneself to Christ’s authority and direction as his disciple.—See Glossary, “Yoke.”
mild-tempered: See study note on Mt 5:5.
lowly in heart: The Greek word for “lowly” refers to the quality of being humble and unpretentious; it also occurs at Jas 4:6 and 1Pe 5:5, where it is rendered “humble ones.” The condition of a person’s figurative heart is reflected in his disposition or his attitude toward God and other people.
yourselves: Or “your souls.” See Glossary, “Soul.”