Matthew 14 Commentary

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Charts from Jensen's Survey of the NT - used by permission
Another Chart from Swindoll

BY MATTHEW (shaded area)

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Source: Ryrie Study Bible

Matthew 14:1  At that time Herod the tetrarch heard the news about Jesus,

  • Herod the tetrarch. Mk 6:14-16 8:15 Lu 9:7-9 13:31,32 23:8-12,15 Ac 4:27 Lu 3:1 


  • Herod and Death of John the Baptist (Mt 14:1–12),
  • feeding of five thousand (Mt 14:13–21),
  • Walking on the water (Mt 14:22–27),
  • Attempt of Peter to walk on water (Mt 14:28–32),
  • Lord’s visit to region of Gennesaret, and miracles performed  (Mt 14:33–36). 

The Herodian Tetrarchy
(click to see Color Code Key)

Related Passages: 

Mark 6:14-16+  And King Herod heard of it, for His name had become well known; and people were saying, “John the Baptist has risen from the dead, and that is why these miraculous powers are at work in Him.” 15 But others were saying, “He is Elijah.” And others were saying, “He is a prophet, like one of the prophets of old.” 16 But when Herod heard of it, he kept saying, “John, whom I beheaded, has risen!” 

Luke 9:7-9+  Now Herod the tetrarch heard of all that was happening; and he was greatly perplexed, because it was said by some that John had risen from the dead, 8 and by some that Elijah had appeared, and by others that one of the prophets of old had risen again. 9 Herod said, “I myself had John beheaded; but who is this man about whom I hear such things?” And he kept trying to see Him. 

Warren Wiersbe has referred to Matthew 14-20 as "the Retirement of the King," for during this time Jesus largely withdrew from the crowds and spent time alone with His disciples (see Mt 14:13, 15:21, 29, 16:13, 17:1-8). Wiersbe says the reasons for the withdrawal include a growing hostility, a need for rest and the need to prepare the 12 disciples for ministry after His crucifixion. Of course Jesus still ministered to the crowds who continued to follow Him. 

C. I. Scofield referred to Matthew 14–23  as “ The Ministry of the Rejected King. ”

Brian Bell - Jesus now withdraws from the multitudes & spends time alone w/His disciples, preparing them for the coming crisis in Jerusalem (the cross). 2. Remember even the disciples thought in terms of an earthly kingdom. 3. It was necessary that He prepare them for this faith-testing experience. The 2 events in this 1/2 a chapter illustrate the characteristics of our present age, when the King is rejected: a) Christ’s servants will suffer and die for Him. Persecution b) Christ’s servants will minister the bread of life to man. Provision. (Sermon)

At that time - Time is kairos which means  a season "when Jesus was facing increasing hostility and rejection. He had been ministering for about a year, teaching, preaching, and pd performing many signs and wonders—healing every kind of disease, raising the dead, and casting out demons. The exact chronology is difficult to determine, but that time likely covered the year and a half to two years directly after Jesus’ baptism." (MacArthur-MNTC-Mt) Lenski agrees writing that "The “season” referred to is the one marked by the growing hostility indicated in the two preceding chapters." 


Wiersbe has a good summary of the Herodian family - The Herod family looms large in the four Gospels and the Book of Acts, and it is easy to confuse the various rulers.

  • Herod the Great founded the dynasty and ruled from 37 b.c. to 4 b.c. He was not a true Jew by birth, but was an Edomite, a descendant of Esau. “He was … a heathen in practice, and a monster in character” (Unger’s Bible Dictionary). He had nine wives (some say ten), and he thought nothing of slaying his own sons or wives if they got in the way of his plans. It was he who had the infants slain in Bethlehem (Matt. 2:13–18).
  • Herod Antipas, the Herod of this chapter, was a son of Herod the Great. His title was “tetrarch,” which means “ruler over the fourth part of the kingdom.” He ruled from 4 b.c. to a.d. 39, and his rule was deceptive and selfish. He loved luxury and was very ambitious to become a great ruler.
  • Herod Agrippa is the Herod who imprisoned Peter and killed James (Acts 12). He was a grandson of Herod the Great.
  • Herod Agrippa II was the Herod who tried Paul (Acts 25:13ff). He was a son of Agrippa I.
  • All of the Herods had Edomite blood in them, and, like their ancestor Esau, they were hostile to the Jews (Gen. 25:19ff). They practiced the Jewish religion when it helped fulfill their plans for gaining more power and wealth.

Herod the tetrarch heard the news about Jesus - Herod the tetrarch  (see Lk 3:1+) was over Galilee and Perea which were geographically separated by Decapolis (See map above). A tetrarch was a governor of one of four divisions of a province in the ancient Roman Empire. Notice Mark 6:14 refers to Herod as a king. Herod was not really a king but was Herod Antipas, son of Herod the Great, and he ruled over Galilee from 4 BC to AD 39, overlapping with Jesus’ entire ministry. When his father Herod died in 4 b.c., the kingdom was divided among three of the sons, Archelaus, Antipas, and Philip, and a man named Lysanias. (See more discussion below).

Tetrarch - Properly governor of the fourth part of a larger province and kingdom, i.e. a tetrarchy A political position in the early Roman Empire. It designated the size of the territory ruled (literally the “fourth part”) and the amount of dependence on Roman authority. Lk 3:1+ names one of the tetrarchs (Herod Antipas) who served in the year of Jesus' birth. As Archelaus was "ethnarch" over half of Herod the Great's whole kingdom, so Philip and Antipus had divided between them the remaining half, and were each "tetrarch" over the fourth; Herod over Galilee; Philip over Ituraea and Trachonitis; Lysanias over Abilene.

Guzik - A tetrarch was lower than a king. Herod Antipas wanted to be recognized as a king, and later asked the Emperor Caligula for this title, but Caligula refused. This humiliation was part of what later sent Herod to exile in Gaul

Herod Antipas was guilty of gross sin: He had eloped with Herodias, the wife of his half-brother Philip I, divorcing his own wife and sending her back to her father, the king of Petra (Lev. 18:16; 20:21). Herod listened to the voice of temptation and plunged himself into terrible sin.

Related Resources:

  • 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica Tetrarch
  • International Standard Bible Encyclopedia Tetrarch
  • Kitto Biblical Cyclopedia Tetrarch
  • McClintock and Strong's Bible Encyclopedia Tetrarch
  • The Jewish Encyclopedia Tetrarch

Question: Who was Herod Antipas?

Answer: The name Herod comes up again and again in the New Testament from Matthew 1 to Acts 26. Herod is simply the family name of a ruling dynasty in Israel. There are four different rulers referred to as Herod in the New Testament as well as Herod Philip II, who is referred to as Philip the tetrarch. There were a number of other Herods who are not mentioned in the New Testament.

Herod Antipater (nicknamed Antipas) became tetrarch of Galilee and Perea upon the death of his father Herod the Great (Herod I). A tetrarch is a “ruler of one quarter,” as he receives one fourth of his father’s kingdom. Herod Antipas ruled as a Roman client and was responsible for building projects including the capital city of Tiberius on the Sea of Galilee. Herod Antipas is the Herod mentioned most often in the New Testament, and, with the exception of Herod the Great mentioned in Luke 1 and 2, every mention of Herod in the gospels refers to Herod Antipas.

Herod Antipas divorced his first wife to marry Herodias, who had been the wife of his half-brother Philip the tetrarch. According to Josephus the two fell in love and made plans to get married while Antipas was visiting with his brother Philip. John the Baptist began his ministry during the reigns of Philip and Antipas (Luke 3:1). In the course of his fiery preaching and denunciation of sin, he “rebuked Herod the tetrarch because of his marriage to Herodias, his brother’s wife, and all the other evil things he had done, [and] Herod added this to them all: He locked John up in prison” (Luke 3:19–20).

Matthew 14:3–5 gives more detail of the wickedness of Herod Antipas: “Now Herod had arrested John and bound him and put him in prison because of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife, for John had been saying to him: ‘It is not lawful for you to have her.’ Herod wanted to kill John, but he was afraid of the people, because they considered John a prophet.” Herodias also hated John and wanted to have him killed, but Herod Antipas was afraid to follow through, because the general populace was on John’s side. “So Herodias nursed a grudge against John and wanted to kill him. But she was not able to, because Herod feared John and protected him, knowing him to be a righteous and holy man. When Herod heard John, he was greatly puzzled; yet he liked to listen to him” (Mark 6:19–20). Herodias hatched a scheme with her daughter whereby she forced her husband’s hand. “On Herod’s birthday the daughter of Herodias danced for the guests and pleased Herod so much that he promised with an oath to give her whatever she asked. Prompted by her mother, she said, ‘Give me here on a platter the head of John the Baptist.’ The king was distressed, but because of his oaths and his dinner guests, he ordered that her request be granted and had John beheaded in the prison. His head was brought in on a platter and given to the girl, who carried it to her mother” (Matthew 14:6–11).

As Jesus’ ministry became more well-known, Herod Antipas began to fear that John the Baptist had risen from the dead (Matthew 14:1–2). Apparently, he wanted to kill Jesus as well, and this was reported to Jesus by some Jewish leaders in Galilee who hoped to entice Him into moving on to a different area. Jesus, unafraid, replied, “Go tell that fox, ‘I will keep on driving out demons and healing people today and tomorrow, and on the third day I will reach my goal.’ In any case, I must press on today and tomorrow and the next day—for surely no prophet can die outside Jerusalem!” (Luke 13:32–33). Jesus’ reply is not only dismissive of Herod but also critical of the Jewish authorities who had a long history of killing prophets. Throughout Jesus’ ministry, some of the rulers of the Jews plotted with the Herodians (supporters of Herod) against Jesus (Mark 3:6; 8:25; 12:13).

Jesus was finally arrested and brought before Pilate, the governor or prefect of Judea. Pilate tried to escape responsibility for dealing with Jesus, and he thought he had found his way out when he heard that Jesus was from Galilee: he could shift the responsibility to Herod Antipas, he reasoned. So Pilate sent Jesus to Herod, who happened to be in Jerusalem for the Passover at the time (Luke 23:6–7).

Herod Antipas was excited to see Jesus in person and tried to get Jesus to perform some miracles for him and asked Him many questions. Jesus refused to answer, probably because He knew Herod Antipas was not sincerely seeking truth. Of course, Jesus also refused to perform any miracles. Herod allowed his soldiers to ridicule and beat Jesus and then sent Him back to Pilate (Luke 23:8–11). That day, Herod and Pilate became friends, whereas before they had been at odds (Luke 23:12). Although Herod Antipas is mentioned in Acts as being partially responsible for the crucifixion, we gain no new information about him.

Herod Antipas eventually fell out of favor with Rome and was exiled to Gaul. The King Herod mentioned later in Acts as a persecutor of the church in Jerusalem is his nephew, Herod Agrippa I, who replaced the Roman governor over Judea as King of the Jews, ruling in Jerusalem from AD 41 to 44.(Source:

Matthew 14:2  and said to his servants, "This is John the Baptist; he has risen from the dead, and that is why miraculous powers are at work in him."

  • This: Mt 11:11 16:14 Mk 8:28 Joh 10:41 


Related Passage:

Mark 6:15-16+ But others were saying, "He is Elijah." And others were saying, "He is a prophet, like one of the prophets of old. "But when Herod heard of it, he kept saying, "John, whom I beheaded, has risen!"

Luke 9:9+ Herod said, "I myself had John beheaded; but who is this man about whom I hear such things?" And he kept trying to see Him.

Notice that Mark tell us what the Jews were saying about Jesus was that He was Elijah or one of the prophets from the Old Testament. Herod quickly corrects them. Notice how none of them are saying "This must be the Messiah!" Their spiritual blindness was almost incomprehensible! 

And said to his servants, "This is John the Baptist; he has risen from the dead - Herod's conscience was pricked with a grave concern about John risen from the dead! Notice Mark adds he kept saying which is in the imperfect tense as if each time someone would suggest a person such as "Elijah" or one of the names of the OT prophets, Herod's response would be "He whom I did behead-John-this is he!!!" (See discussion of Was John the Baptist really Elijah reincarnated?)

Do you have any ghosts in your past?
Any skeletons in your closet?
-- Brian Bell 

Broadus on servants - The word is pais, literally boy and thence ‘servant,’ and often applied to the officers of an Oriental court (Gen. 40:20; 1 Sam. 16:17; 1 Macc. 1:6, 8), just as the term doulos is in 18:23, and elsewhere.

Lenski - Superstition and an evil conscience are combined in making this cowardly criminal jump to the conclusion that Jesus, who is now for the first time brought to his attention, is John the Baptist returned from the dead

MacArthur comments "Because of haunting guilt for having murdered John, Herod was afraid he had come back from the dead to seek revenge." 

John Trapp -  “He imagined still that he saw and heard that holy head shouting and crying out against him, staring him also in the face at every turn … God hath laid upon evil-doers the cross of their own consciences, that thereon they may suffer afore they suffer; and their greatest enemies need not wish them a greater mischief.” 

James Morison writes that “the guilty monarch’s conscience was haunted by ghastly reminiscences and weird forebodings.” (Commentary)

To tamper with conscience is like killing the watchdog while the burglar is breaking in.
-- F B Meyer 

And that is why miraculous powers are at work (energeo in the present tense - "energized") in him - These were "Works of power." Herod clearly associates the supernatural acts of this person (he thinks is John) with the fact that he has returned from the supernatural. He knows that John did not manifest miraculous powers during his life, so his distorted theology determines this has to be a result of his resurrection so that now he possesses powers he did not possess in his natural state. 

Miraculous powers (Miracles) (1411)(dunamis from dunamai = to be able, to have power) power especially achieving power. It refers to intrinsic power or inherent ability, the power or ability to carry out some function, the potential for functioning in some way (power, might, strength, ability, capability), the power residing in a thing by virtue of its nature.

Robertson points out that "John wrought no miracles, but one redivivus might be under the control of the unseen powers. So Herod argued. A guilty conscience quickened his fears. Possibly he could see again the head of John on a charger. “The King has the Baptist on the brain” (Bruce). Cf. Josephus (scroll down War, I. Chaper 30, number 7) for the story that the ghosts of Alexander and Aristobulus haunted the palace of Herod the Great. There were many conjectures about Jesus as a result of this tour of Galilee and Herod Antipas feared this one."

God sent many voices to warn Herod.
Especially the voice of Conscience and the voice of a Prophet.
-- Brian Bell

Brian Bell - The voice of Conscience can be a powerful voice. It can also be silenced. Herod decided instead to listen to the voice of cowardice & plunged himself into terrible sin. 

J D Jones gives us an animated description which is probably very close to what happened in Herod's house -- "The report about Jesus fell upon him like a clap of doom. It terrified him. It flung him into a perfect panic of fear. When he heard about Jesus and His wonderful works, his knees shook and his face blanched. He saw ghosts, and he gasped out, “John, whom I beheaded—he is risen from the dead!” Thereupon the Evangelist proceeds to tell us why it was that Jesus suggested John, and why it was that the thought of John filled this King Herod’s heart with mortal terror." 

J C Ryle writes about "the amazing power of truth over the conscience. Herod “fears” John the Baptist while he lives, and is troubled about him after he dies. A friendless, solitary preacher, with no other weapon than God’s truth, disturbs and terrifies a king. Everybody has a conscience. Here lies the secret of a faithful minister’s power. This is the reason why Felix “trembled,” and Agrippa was “almost persuaded,” when Paul the prisoner spoke before them. God has not left Himself without witness in the hearts of unconverted people. Fallen and corrupt as man is, there are thoughts within him accusing or excusing, according as he lives,—thoughts that will not he shut out,—thoughts that can make even kings, like Herod, restless and afraid. None ought to remember this so much as ministers and teachers. If they preach and teach Christ’s truth, they may rest assured that their work is not in vain. Children may seem inattentive in schools. Hearers may seem careless in congregations. But in both cases there is often far more going on in the conscience than our eyes see. Seeds often spring up and bear fruit, when the sower, like John the Baptist, is dead or gone.

Related Resources:

Matthew 14:3  For when Herod had John arrested, he bound him and put him in prison because of Herodias, the wife of his brother Philip.

NET  Matthew 14:3 For Herod had arrested John, bound him, and put him in prison on account of Herodias, his brother Philip's wife,

NLT  Matthew 14:3 For Herod had arrested and imprisoned John as a favor to his wife Herodias (the former wife of Herod's brother Philip).

ESV  Matthew 14:3 For Herod had seized John and bound him and put him in prison for the sake of Herodias, his brother Philip's wife,

NIV  Matthew 14:3 Now Herod had arrested John and bound him and put him in prison because of Herodias, his brother Philip's wife,

  • Herod: Mt 4:12 Mk 6:17 Lk 3:19,20 Jn 3:23,24 


Related Passage:

Mark 6:17+ For Herod himself had sent and had John arrested and bound in prison on account of Herodias, the wife of his brother Philip, because he had married her.

Matthew 4:12+ Now when Jesus heard that John had been taken into custody, He withdrew into Galilee;

For - Term of explanation. What is Matthew explaining? See context Mt 14:2. He is now going to give us a flashback at to what happened to John the Baptist. 

When Herod had John arrested - Matthew 14:4 explains why Herod had him arrested. Lenski adds "The aorists report only the facts, and we know no more. John was snatched out of his ministry by Herod’s order to some of his minions who carried John away bound as a criminal and lodged him in prison in the fortress Machærus (Josephus, Ant. 18, Chapter 5, 2), on the southern border of Perea, on the height near the Dead Sea."

Herod laid hold on John, because John’s word laid hold on Herod.
-- Brian Bell

he bound him and put him in prison because of Herodias, the wife of his brother Philip - Mark 6:17 says Herod did this as a favor to Herodias. John was imprisoned in the grim fortress of Machaerus, situated on the barren heights of Moab above the Dead Sea. John’s disciples had access to him while he was confined there, for Luke 7:18+ records "The disciples of John reported to him about all these things (e.g., Lk 7:11-17)." Notice although Herodias was now the wife of Herod, Matthew still identifies her as the lawful wife of his brother Philip. 

John Trapp on the phrase on account of (for the sake of) Herodias - “She ruled him at her pleasure, as Jezebel did Ahab … But it never goes well when the hen crows.”

MacArthur on Machaerus - The palace was located on a mountain higher even than the city of Jerusalem and offered a beautiful and dramatic view. But the dungeon was dug deep into the earth beneath, and archaeologists have discovered the many places where prisoners were chained to the walls. There was no natural light and only dank, foul air to breathe. Here John the Baptist was incarcerated for about a year until his execution.

QuestionWho was Herodias in the Bible?

Answer: Herodias in the Bible is notorious for being the woman who desired John the Baptist’s head on a platter. She was the unlawful wife of the tetrarch Herod Antipas and had formerly been the wife of Herod’s brother, Philip. As the granddaughter of Herod the Great, Herodias was herself a niece to both of her husbands, Philip and Antipas.

Herodias is the feminine form of Herod, which functions somewhat as a title for members of the Herodian dynasty. Historians indicate that Herod Antipas and Herodias had an affair of sorts while her husband Philip was visiting Rome. Herodias then agreed to leave her husband in order to become Herod Antipas’s wife. Whether it was motivated by lust or was simply a power play, the new marriage was not honorable, and John the Baptist publicly denounced their adultery (Matthew 14:4). Herodias held a grudge against John and wanted him to be executed (Mark 6:19). Herod put John in prison for Herodias’s sake (Matthew 14:3) but did not put him to death in part because he was afraid of the people, who believed John was a prophet (Matthew 14:5). Herod also seemed to believe that John was a righteous man and, though “greatly puzzled” by the things John said, “liked to listen to him” (Mark 6:20).

(ADDED NOTE FROM JOHN MACARTHUR - The tetrarch had taken Herodias as his own wife after seducing her away from his half brother Philip while on a visit to Rome. In order to marry her, he had to divorce his present wife, the daughter of king Aretas, with whom the marriage of his daughter had sealed a political and military alliance. Aretas ruled Nabatean Arabia, whose capital was the famed fortress city of Petra, located about fifty miles southeast of the Dead Sea. Aretas was so angered by the treatment of his daughter that he destroyed most of Herod’s army and would have slain the tetrarch as well, had not the Roman army intervened.) 

“Finally the opportune time came” (Mark 6:21) for Herodias to exact her revenge on John. During Herod’s birthday celebration, Herodias’s daughter danced for the king and his guests, pleasing Herod so much that he promised the girl whatever she asked (Matthew 14:6–7). After consulting with her mother, the girl asked for John the Baptist’s head on a platter (Matthew 14:8). Herod was sorry and distressed over being put in this quandary, but, because of his vow and the guests, Herod had John beheaded in prison (verse 10). The prophet’s head was brought to the daughter of Herodias, who gave it to her mother (verse 11).

The Bible does not tell us much about Herodias, but her actions recorded in the Gospels show her to be an immoral, bitter, and manipulative woman. John the Baptist was right to warn the tetrarch and his wife of their wicked ways, and Herodias had plenty of opportunity to repent. Rather than choose the path of life, Herodias hardened her heart and plotted John’s execution—as if silencing the truth-teller could remove her guilt. In this way, Herodias became like Jezebel, who stridently opposed Elijah, in whose power and spirit John had come (see Luke 1:17; 1 Kings 19:2).(Source:

Related Resources:

Matthew 14:4  For John had been saying to him, "It is not lawful for you to have her."

  • Lev 18:16 20:21 De 25:5,6 2Sa 12:7 1Ki 21:19 2Ch 26:18,19 Pr 28:1 Isa 8:20 Mk 6:18 Ac 24:24,25 

Related Passages:

Mark 6:18  For John had been saying to Herod, “It is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife.”

Leviticus 18:16  ‘You shall not uncover the nakedness of your brother’s wife; it is your brother’s nakedness.

Leviticus 20:21  ‘If there is a man who takes his brother’s wife, it is abhorrent; he has uncovered his brother’s nakedness. They will be childless. 

For John had been saying to him - Had been saying is in the imperfect tense, again and again. John's rebuke was not "one and done!" The imperfect tense indicates John rebuked the king and his wife on more than one occasion! France calls it John's "continuing campaign." He had no fear of death, for surely he knew this confrontation could easily be his death warrant! But John was filled with the Spirit and the result was a "holy boldness." 

John Broadus - John stood before him, apparently several times, "in the spirit and power of Elijah" before Ahab (compare on Matthew 3:4). Indeed, Herod and Herodias strikingly resemble Ahab and Jezebel (See  What is the story of Ahab and Jezebel? | In his early preaching John had been equally bold, rebuking the Pharisees and Sadducees, (Matthew 3:7) as fearlessly as the masses. And now he reproves Herod, not merely for the marriage, but for all his other acts of wrong-doing. (Luke 3:19) Every great reformer sometimes finds it necessary to be very bold and outspoken. So Luther at the Diet of Worms, and Knox before Mary Stuart; and he who was "meek and lowly" to the toiling and burdened, was stern and severe towards the hypocritical Scribes and Pharisees even when he knew they were plotting to kill him, and would eventually succeed. (Commentary)

It is not lawful for you to have her." - In short this was an entangled incestuous web! Literally "it is not permissible; thou art not at liberty."  The law required the marriage of a deceased and childless brother's wife, but here the brother was still living and had a daughter.

Robertson adds this was unlawful "While the brother was alive (Lev. 18:16; Lev 20:21). After a brother’s death it was often a duty to marry his widow." "Both Herod and Herodias were already married, their marriage to each other was doubly not lawful." (MacArthur)

Broadus - The ground of condemnation stated, (compare Mark 6:18) is not that she was his niece, though that too was forbidden by the law (as implied in Leviticus 18:12 f.), but his brother's wife. Nominally, she had divorced her former husband; but while the Jewish usages of that time allowed a man to divorce his wife for almost any cause (see on "Matthew 19:3"), for a woman to divorce her husband (mentioned only in Mark 10:12) was a Roman custom, which they held in great abhorrence. Josephus says ("Ant." 18. 5, 4) that "being minded to confound her country's institutions," she made this marriage.  (Commentary)

Hiebert - John’s denunciation was based on the fact that it was not lawful, was contrary to the Mosaic law to which Antipas, a professed convert to Judaism, was subject (Lev. 18:16; 20:21). His marriage to Herodias was a crime against his brother as well as against his own wife. This bold denunciation of sin wherever he found it was characteristic of John (cf. Matt. 3:7–10).

Matthew 14:5  Although Herod wanted to put him to death, he feared the crowd, because they regarded John as a prophet.

  • Although Herod wanted: Mk 6:19,20 14:1,2 Ac 4:21 5:26 
  • because: Mt 21:26,32 Mk 11:30-32 Lu 20:6 

Related Passage:

Mark 6:19; 20   Herodias had a grudge against him and wanted to put him to death and could not do so; (6:20) for Herod was afraid of John, knowing that he was a righteous and holy man, and he kept him safe. And when he heard him, he was very perplexed; but he used to enjoy listening to him. (Note: perplexed and listening are here in the imperfect tense, describing the fact that these actions continued or repeated from time to time.)

Broadus on "kept him safe" and "wanted to put him to death" -- "The apparent conflict between this statement and that of Matthew may be explained in various ways. We may suppose that Herod was angry at first, when John condemned his marriage, and censured all his wickedness and wanted to kill him, but fearing the masses, imprisoned him instead; afterwards, talking with John, and his wrath having cooled, he came to feel as Mark describes, and so continued during his imprisonment. Or it may be that while generally favourable to John, and disposed to "keep him safe" from the wrath of Herodias, he sometimes felt inclined to yield to her solicitations, but was then restrained by fear of the crowd. It seems plain that Herodias was watching for a chance to compass John's destruction, from the expression of Mark, (Mark 5:21) "and when a convenient day was come." (Commentary)

Although Herod wanted to put him to death - From Mark's passage above, it is clear both Herod and Herodias wanted John dead. But Herod was afraid of John and also afraid of the people. So Herod actually kept John safe (Mk 6:20). He was both fearful and fascinated by John. How bizarre that he also "used to enjoy listening to" the very man he also wanted to kill! One can be assured that John's words included repent and believe in the Messiah. Herod must have had many chances to become a believer (cf 2 Cor 6:2). 

Broadus notes regarded "is in the imperfect tense, giving their habitual way of regarding him. Observe that it was the 'crowd,' what we call "the masses," that held this opinion; the Jewish religious rulers were quite too jealous to tolerate such an idea. (Matthew 21:25-27, Matthew 21:32) (Commentary)

he feared the crowd, because they regarded John as a prophet (compare Matthew 21:26, Matthew 21:46)- Herod feared the people and this suppressed his desire to follow through and kill John.

The fear of man brings a snare,
But he who trusts in the LORD will be exalted.
-- Proverbs 29:25

Matthew 14:6  But when Herod's birthday came, the daughter of Herodias danced before them and pleased Herod,

  • birthday: Ge 40:20 Es 1:2-9 2:18 Da 5:1-4 Ho 1:5,6 Mk 6:21-23 
  • the daughter: Mt 22:24 
  • danced: Es 1:10-12 

Related Passage:

Mark 6:21+  A strategic day came when Herod on his birthday gave a banquet for his lords and  military commanders and the leading men of Galilee; 22 and when the daughter of Herodias herself came in and danced, she pleased Herod and his dinner guests; and the king said to the girl, "Ask me for whatever you want and I will give it to you."

But when Herod's birthday came - Mark 6:21 calls it a strategic day. This was the "day of opportunity" for Herodias, the favorable occasion to allow her to act against John the Baptist. She was not about to miss her "opportunity!" In Texas we have seasons for deer hunting and dove hunting and all other times are illegal. In this case it was "in season" for "John the Baptist hunting" (so to speak)! 

Birthday (1077)(genesia from genesis = origin, lineage) was originally a day observed on the birthday of a deceased person; in the NT birthday feast or celebration. Robertson adds that the "earlier Greeks used the word genesia for funeral commemorations (birthdays of the dead), genethlia being the word for birthday celebrations of living persons. But that distinction has disappeared in the papyri. The word genesia in the papyri is always a birthday feast." The only other use is Mt 14:6 in the same story of Herod and John. 

Lenski - The Jews abhorred the keeping of birthdays as being a pagan custom, but the Herods even outdid the Romans in these celebrations, so that “Herod’s birthday’ (Herodis dies) came to be a proverbial expression for excessive festival display. Mark 6:21 remarks regarding the grand feast.

the daughter of Herodias danced before them and pleased (areskoHerod - This is Herod's stepdaughter. Notice it does not say necessarily that Herod invited her. He may have, but alternatively Herodias may have realized this was her chance to set a trap for Herod by having her daughter perform what was in effect a "striptease!" Mark says before them refers to "lords and military commanders and the leading men of Galilee." Remember that this is a banquet and wine was undoubtedly flowing freely which always clouds one's judgment. In this case Herod yielded to his fleshly instincts by being pleased by his own stepdaughter's dance! This man was morally sick! MacArthur suggests that pleased is "a euphemism for “sexually aroused." That is possible and when combined with an inebriated state explains his rash, foolish statement that follows. 

Guzik - This daughter Herodias is described as a girl (Matthew 14:11). This means that she was not a cute little girl; “Girl is a term which can be used of those of marriageable age; she was at least a teenager.” (France)

F F Bruce - “The dancing of a mere girl would have been no entertainment to the sensual revelers. The treat lay in the indecency.” 

Robertson on danced - This was Salome, daughter of Herodias by her first marriage. The root of the verb means some kind of rapid motion. “Leaped in the middle,” Wycliff puts it. It was a shameful exhibition of lewd dancing prearranged by Herodias to compass her purpose for John’s death. Salome had stooped to the level of an almeh, or common dancer.

Spurgeon - “In these days mothers too often encourage their daughters in dress which is scarcely decent and introduce them to dances which are not commendable for purity. No good can come of this; it may please the Herods, but it displeases God.” 

Lenski says before them is literally “in the midst,” before the company of guests. The exhibition was thoroughly pagan and had been learned while the girl and her mother lived at Rome with Philip. Herod’s delight in the performance carried him completely away. Heated with wine and excited by the company, the man lost his reason. We must add his desire to make a grandiose display in the most magnificent royal style. Mark records the words of the oath.

Gould writes "“Such dancing was an almost unprecedented thing for women of rank, or even respectability. It was mimetic and licentious, and performed by professionals”

BDAG on pleased (aresko) says "Salome, daughter of Herodias, pleases Herod and his company, and in keeping w. Mediterranean reciprocity system receives her award, in this instance a grisly one." 

Hiebert has a fascinating comment on the daughter's dance - The climax of the entertainment was a solo dance by the daughter of Herodias herself. The expression indicates the unusual fact. Such solo dances were grossly suggestive pantomimic representations, comparable to a striptease act in a modern nightclub. They were regularly performed by professional entertainers of low moral character, and it was an almost unprecedented thing for Salome to perform such a dance before Herod’s guests. Some have indeed questioned the accuracy of the biblical account, but Rawlinson replies that the occurrence is “not wholly incredible, however outrageous, to those who know anything of the morals of Oriental courts, or of Herod’s family in particular.” (Mark Commentary)

Broadus - We cannot readily determine just how far this act was indecorous on her part. In all Eastern countries, women being kept in great seclusion, it has always been considered extremely improper for a female to dance in public. It is very common to hire dancing women to exhibit at entertainments (e. g., the Hindoo nautch-girls), but the business is highly disreputable, and it is commonly taken for granted that they are women of bad character. True, Jewish women lived in less seclusion than in other Eastern nations, and there are instances of their taking part by songs and dancing in public rejoicings (e. g., 1 Samuel 18:6); but this was considered a religious act, (compare Exodus 15:20, 2 Samuel 6:21) and quite a different thing from taking the place of dancing-girls at a feast. The Romans, too, had their dancing-girls at entertainments, but regarded it as a disreputable calling. A Latin inscription says, "It was disgraceful both to dance, and for a virgin to come into the banqueting-hali to men who had drank freely." Cornelius Nepos: "We know that according to our manners, dancing' is even put among vices." Cicero : "Hardly any man dances when sober (unless perchance he is crazy), whether it be in solitude or at a moderate and decorous feast". and he mentions a Greek father who was amazed at the proposition of a drunken guest that he should send for his daughter to come in. On the whole, one must reach the conclusion that if a respectable Jewish maiden came in to dance at a feast, it would be very surprising to the guests, and could hardly fail to be regarded as very unbecoming. It was therefore a bold step which Herodias took, in sending her daughter to dance before Herod and his grandees. Would they be shocked by the immodest exposure of a princess, er would they be fascinated by the novel spectacle of a high-born and charming girl going through the voluptuous movements of an Oriental dance? The experiment succeeded. She pleased Herod, and all the company. (Mark 6:22) No doubt rapturous expressions of admiration burst from the lips of the half drunken revellers. It is common for dancing girls to receive presents, proportioned to the admiration their performance has excited; and Salome might naturally expect to receive some present on the Tetrarch's birthday. Accordingly, Herod, anxious to express his gratification, and also to play the magnificent before this grand assembly, promised with an oath to give her whatsoever she would ask. He even affected, petty ruler as he was, and not properly a king at all, to imitate the grandiloquence of the great Persian monarchs, (Esther 5:3, Esther 5:6, Esther 7:2) and, with drunken dignity, swore to give her what she asked,"unto the half of my kingdom." (Mark 6:23)  (Commentary)

Related Resource:

Matthew 14:7  so much that he promised with an oath to give her whatever she asked.

  • Es 5:3,6 7:2 


Related Passages:

Mark 6:22 and when the daughter of Herodias herself came in and danced, she pleased Herod and his dinner guests; and the king said to the girl, "Ask me for whatever you want and I will give it to you." 23 And he swore to her, "Whatever you ask of me, I will give it to you; up to half of my kingdom."

Esther 5:3+ Then the king said to her, “What is troubling you, Queen Esther? And what is your request? Even to half of the kingdom it shall be given to you.”

Esther 7:2+ And the king said to Esther on the second day also as they drank their wine at the banquet, “What is your petition, Queen Esther? It shall be granted you. And what is your request? Even to half of the kingdom it shall be done.”

so much that he promised with an oath to give her whatever she asked - Literally, “confessed with an oath.” Mark says Herod's promise and oath was Whatever you ask of me, I will give it to you; up to half of my kingdom." This was sheer braggadocio (probably because of his august crowd) for (1) he was not truly a king and (2) had not kingdom to give! 

Lenski - First he made the promise and then acknowledged or sealed it with an oath, thus making it absolutely irrevocable. A blank promise as such, no matter how it is to be fulfilled, is sinful and silly at the same time. An oath added to such a promise is directly forbidden in Lev. 5:4, etc. No promise or oath of this kind is binding; when it is made, it must be confessed as sin (v. 5) and retracted, and pardon must be sought.

Matthew 14:8  Having been prompted by her mother, she said, "Give me here on a platter the head of John the Baptist."

NET  Matthew 14:8 Instructed by her mother, she said, "Give me the head of John the Baptist here on a platter."

NLT  Matthew 14:8 At her mother's urging, the girl said, "I want the head of John the Baptist on a tray!"

ESV  Matthew 14:8 Prompted by her mother, she said, "Give me the head of John the Baptist here on a platter."

NIV  Matthew 14:8 Prompted by her mother, she said, "Give me here on a platter the head of John the Baptist."

KJV  Matthew 14:8 And she, being before instructed of her mother, said, Give me here John Baptist's head in a charger. 

  • being: 2Ch 22:2,3 Mk 6:24 
  • Give: 1Ki 18:4,13 19:2 2Ki 11:1 Pr 1:16 29:10 
  • platter: Nu 7:13,19,84,85 Ezr 1:9 

Related Passage:

Mark 6:24 And she went out and said to her mother, "What shall I ask for?" And she said, "The head of John the Baptist." Mark 6:25 Immediately she came in a hurry to the king and asked, saying, "I want you to give me at once the head of John the Baptist on a platter."

Having been prompted by her mother - KJV = " And she, being before instructed of her mother." This suggests premeditation by Herodias. Lenski has she was "instigated by her mother." Prompted is the verb probibazo (only here in NT) meaning to put forward, push forward and figuratively as here to prompt, urge or incite. BDAG adds that in the only other 2 uses in Scripture in the Septuagint (Lxx) probibazo means to "instruct, teach, inculcate’: as in Ex 35:34+; Dt 6:7... ‘Coached’ may best express the meaning."  Bruce comments “It should require a good deal of ‘educating’ to bring a young girl to make such a grim request”

MacArthur comments that "It is obvious that the provocative dance was planned by Herodias for the purpose of evoking just such a promise from her drunken, leering, lecherous husband. And lest Herod change his mind after sobering up, Herodias told her daughter to ask for John’s head here on a platter “ right away ” ( Mark 6:25 ). In his gluttonous, lustful stupor the king had been easily taken in by his scheming wife and her seductive daughter. He had lost all dignity, all sensibility, and what little desire for the right that he may have had. Wanting to appear the magnanimous benefactor before his guests, he had boxed himself in and was now completely vulnerable to his conniving wife." (MNTC-Mt)

Lenski Matthew "describes tersely what Mark 6:24 spreads out in detail: the girl running to her mother, getting the instigation from her, and then coming quickly to make her request. She never hesitated because of the crime involved and because of the gruesomeness of such a gory gift." 

She said, "Give me here on a platter the head of John the Baptist" - Mark 6:25 adds "immediately (euthus) she came in a hurry." and issued a command to the pseudo-king = Give me, where this verb in the aorist imperative a command calling for an immediate response from Herod! This shocking request would have undoubtedly caught Herod by surprise.

Lenski on "here" (cf Mk 6:25 "at once") - The force of hode, “right here,” is significant; here where all the company may see in the delivery of the gift that Herod kept his promise and oath. The same viciousness is manifested in the request for “the head.” Herodias wants the head, the absolute evidence of John’s death, and no mere promise of John’s death at some future day.

Guzik - She was shrewd enough to demand that it be done immediately, while the guests were still at the party. “That was an essential part of the request. No time must be left for repentance. If not done at once under the influence of wine and the momentary gratification given by the voluptuous dance, it might never be done at all.” (Bruce)

Matthew 14:9  Although he was grieved, the king commanded it to be given because of his oaths, and because of his dinner guests.

NET  Matthew 14:9 Although it grieved the king, because of his oath and the dinner guests he commanded it to be given.

NLT  Matthew 14:9 Then the king regretted what he had said; but because of the vow he had made in front of his guests, he issued the necessary orders.

ESV  Matthew 14:9 And the king was sorry, but because of his oaths and his guests he commanded it to be given.

NIV  Matthew 14:9 The king was distressed, but because of his oaths and his dinner guests, he ordered that her request be granted

GNT  Matthew 14:9 καὶ λυπηθεὶς ὁ βασιλεὺς διὰ τοὺς ὅρκους καὶ τοὺς συνανακειμένους ἐκέλευσεν δοθῆναι,

KJV  Matthew 14:9 And the king was sorry: nevertheless for the oath's sake, and them which sat with him at meat, he commanded it to be given her.

ASV  Matthew 14:9 And the king was grieved; but for the sake of his oaths, and of them that sat at meat with him, he commanded it to be given;

CSB  Matthew 14:9 Although the king regretted it, he commanded that it be granted because of his oaths and his guests.

NKJ  Matthew 14:9 And the king was sorry; nevertheless, because of the oaths and because of those who sat with him, he commanded it to be given to her.

  • the king: Mt 14:1 Mk 6:14 
  • was grieved: Mt 14:5 27:17-26 Da 6:14-16 Mk 6:20,26 Lu 13:32  Joh 19:12-16 Ac 24:23-27 25:3-9 
  • the oaths: Nu 30:5-8 Jud 11:30,31,39 21:1,7-23 1Sa 14:24,28,39-45 25:22 1Sa 25:32-34 28:10 2Ki 6:31-33 Ec 5:2 


Related Passage:

Mark 6:26 And although the king was very sorry, yet because of his oaths and because of his dinner guests, he was unwilling to refuse (atheteo) her.

Brian Bell on "And the king was sorry; nevertheless  NEVERTHELESS" (NKJV) - How easily influenced -- Influenced by his: cunning concubine, his dancing daughter, his careless covenant, and his beer-drinking buddies. Afraid of the jeers, Herod are you too religious to put away a Prophet? The fear of being thought weak, proved that he was weak indeed. THOUGHT - Who influences you? Actually, every friend influences you for the good or the bad. How do each of your friends influence you? Wicked Oaths ought to be repented of, not acted out. In the sight of heaven it was Herod who perished not John.

Although he was grieved - Notice how Herod goes from "pleased" (v 6) to "grieved!" Mark says Herod was "very sorry." (perilupos). He was heavy hearted but not enough to change his mind. His remorse fell short of godly regret and thus was not sufficient to counter his pride and vanity at having given his oath before his esteemed guests. Even in this reaction notice that it is all about Herod, and there is no expression of pity, compassion or sorrow for John! Herod is like the little boy who was caught with his hand in the cookie jar! All Herod was sorry about was that he had been trapped by Herodias' cunning into carrying out this dastardly deed! He may have had a touch of remorse, but not an ounce of repentance! Paul's words were "prophetic" for Herod when he wrote "the sorrow that is according to the will of God produces a repentance without regret, leading to salvation, but the sorrow of the world produces death!" (2 Cor 7:10) Indeed, there would be 2 deaths. The temporal death of John, but the far worse eternal death of Herod! 

Grieved (distressed, sorrowed) (3076)(lupeo from lupe = sorrow) signifies pain, of body or mind and means to cause one to experience severe mental or emotional distress or physical pain which may be accompanied by sadness, sorrow or grief. The ides is heaviness like our colloquial sayings like -- "It weighs heavy on my soul" or "My soul is weighed down with affliction." or "My soul is so burdened." It was heavy on Herod's heart! 

Robertson on grieved - Not to hurt, for in verse 5 we read that he wanted (θελων [thelōn]) to put him to death (ἀποκτειναι [apokteinai]). Herod, however, shrank from so dastardly a deed as this public display of brutality and bloodthirstiness. Men who do wrong always have some flimsy excuses for their sins. A man here orders a judicial murder of the most revolting type “for the sake of his oath” (δια τους ὁρκους [dia tous horkous]). “More like profane swearing than deliberate utterance once for all of a solemn oath” (Bruce). He was probably maudlin with wine and befuddled by the presence of the guests.

Broadus on grieved -  The thing would be wrong, and also unpopular. (Matthew 14:5) But his wife ruled him, as on many other occasions.   (Commentary)

The king commanded it to be given - "With the regret a wolf has because he must eat the lamb, he gave orders for the murder of John." (Spurgeon) 

Because (A TRAGIC TERM OF EXPLANATION) of his oaths, and because of his dinner guests - This was Matthew's first mention of the dinner guest, but Mark's account gave us the details of who these guests were and why he would not back down his oath. And so the cruel command was issued because of crass oath and fear of losing face. What a weak man was Herod! 

Broadus on oaths - Mark also (Mk 6:26) has here the plural. We may conclude that Herod had several times repeated his tipsy promise to the girl, with various oaths. He was superstitious about his oaths, as many very wicked men are, and was ashamed not to keep the promise he had so frequently made, and so solemnly confirmed before the assembled dignitaries. But a grossly wicked promise is better broken than kept, especially when no one will really lose thereby. As to the general subject of oaths, see commentary on Matthew 5:33-37. (Commentary)

Lenski - Since he was called “king” only by courtesy, Matthew’s use of the title here has a touch of irony: a king made the tool of a woman....The plural “his oaths” indicates only that the king had emphasized his promise by repeating his oath. Instead of letting the outcome of his rashness open his eyes to the enormity of his folly, thus inducing him to declare that a gift involving a horrible crime was beyond his granting, this morally helpless fool imagined that his oaths really bound him. Coupled with this moral impotence was his pride. His sworn promise was intended to impress his guests, in fact, had been made for their sake not for that of the girl. To deny her request appeared like a disgrace in the eyes of those reclining with him at the feast. Thus Herod perpetrated his greatest crime, filling the cup of his iniquities.

MacArthur -  It was not that the word of the king was respected and that to break his oaths would tarnish his reputation, because he was noted for his dishonor and duplicity. But in the ancient Near East a promise made with an oath was considered sacred and inviolable ( cf.   Matt. 5:33 ), especially when made by a ruler. And although Herod had no concern for principle, he had great concern for appearance. By breaking his word so soon after giving it, he would have been embarrassed in front of his dinner guests. 

Guzik -  “Rash promises, and even oaths, are no excuse for doing wrong. The promise was in itself null and void, because no man has a right to promise to do wrong.” (Spurgeon) “Like most weak men, Herod feared to be thought weak.” (Plumptre, cited in Carson)

Hiebert - Moral cowardice made him afraid to break his word in the presence of those reclining with him. But Herod would certainly have stood taller, even in the eyes of his fellow revelers when they regained their full sobriety, had he refused to go through with his promise. “Timidity, which takes the form of false pride, is accountable for the moral failure of thousands.”

Matthew 14:10  He sent and had John beheaded in the prison.

  • beheaded: Mt 17:12 21:35,36 22:3-6 23:34-36 2Ch 36:16 Jer 2:30 Mk 6:27-29 Mk 9:13 Lu 9:9 Rev 11:7 

Related Passage:

Mark 6:27 Immediately the king sent an executioner and commanded him to bring back his head. And he went and had him beheaded in the prison,

He sent and had John beheaded in the prison - Herod had gone to far now. The dirty deed had to be carried out posthaste. Although Herod was not a true king he did have authority to carry out the death penalty. 

Notice the phrase He...had John beheaded - Mark says he sent an executioner (spekoulator) used only in Mk 6:27 and representing a Latin loan word that originally literally meant a spy or scout and when attached to a ruling official meant member of a bodyguard or executioner. The executioner was merely an instrument in the hands of Herod. Herod was the guilty party at his birthday party! David and Herod were both guilty even though they did not personally carry out the execution.

Constable - The Romans practiced decapitation. That form of execution was not Jewish. Likewise the Romans executed certain prisoners without a trial whereas Jewish law required one. The gore of this scene testifies to the hardhearted condition of the Roman royal family and their courtiers. As the last of the Old Testament prophets, John suffered a martyr"s death, as did many of his predecessors. (Commentary)

Donald A. Hagner - "Death, the temporary end of physical life, is not the worst enemy of humanity. Alienation from God is. And thus those who murdered John are far more pitiable than is John himself." [ Matthew 14-28 , p413.]

Broadus - Some argue that this term, with 'here' in Matthew 14:8, and 'straightway' in Mark 6:25, cannot be taken literally, because the spectacle would have spoiled all festive enjoyment; but they have forgotten how Herodias' ancestor, Alexander Jannaeus, while holding a feast with his concubines, commanded eight hundred rebels to be crucified in full view, and their wives and children to be slain before their eyes. (Josephus "Ant.," 13, 14, 2.) A great feast usually began about the close of the day, and so it was probably late at night when the executioner came and awoke John and hurriedly beheaded him. After his weary imprisonment of more than a year, the Baptizer was now suddenly cut off. But his work was ended; he had come as the herald of the Messianic reign, and that reign was now being established; the answer of Jesus to his message (Matthew 11:2ff.) had doubtless cleared his perplexities and removed lingering doubts; there was nothing more to live for, and to die was gain. Nor is it anything very dreadful to die suddenly, if one has lived the life of faith. This murder of the greatest among the prophets in his dungeon was in itself hardly so shocking a sight, as the scene yonder in the banqueting hall. There stood the maiden, her cheek still flushed with her recent exertion, while the guests sought to drown their painful emotions in wine, and the executioner hastened on his cruel errand. When the dish was brought, with the bleeding head upon it, no doubt she took it daintily in her hands, lest a drop of blood should stain her gala dress, and tripped away to her mother, as if bearing her some choice dish of food from the king's table. It was not uncommon to bring the head of one who had been slain to the person who ordered it, as a sure proof that the command had been obeyed. When the head of Cicero was brought to Fulvia, the wife of Antony, she spat upon it, and drawing out the tongue that had so eloquently opposed and condemned Antony, she pierced it with her hair-pin, with bitter gibes. Jerome refers to this incident, and says that Herodias did likewise with the head of John. We know not his authority for the assertion, but the darling desire of the Herod family seems to have been to ape the worst follies and cruelties of the Roman nobility.  (Commentary)

Josephus informs us that John the Baptist was imprisoned and beheaded by Herod in the strong castle of Machaerus, which he describes as situated about 60 stadia east of Jordan, not far from where the river discharges itself into the Dead Sea.

MacArthur comments that as "Gruesome and ghoulish as that act was, such things were not uncommon in those days. Potentates had life and death power over their subjects and prisoners, and that power was frequently exercised and seldom questioned. Herodias had an ancestor named Alexander Junius, who held a feast at which he had eight hundred rebels crucified before the assembled guests. While the men were hanging on their crosses, their wives and children were slain in front of their eyes." (ED: How could anyone refute the doctrine of total depravity!) 

Matthew 14:11  And his head was brought on a platter and given to the girl, and she brought it to her mother.

  • given: Ge 49:7 Pr 27:4 29:10 Jer 22:17 Eze 16:3,4 19:2,3 35:6 Rev 16:6 Rev 17:6 
Feast of Herod, Lucas Cranach the Elder, 1531


And his head was brought on a platter and given to the girl, and she brought it to her mother Morison quips this was "A fit presentation for cannibals, or other savages, whether living in a palace or" not.

Adam Clarke - The head was in the possession of Herodias, who, ‘tis probable, took a diabolic pleasure in viewing that speechless mouth which had often been the cause of planting thorns in her criminal bed; and in offering indignities to that tongue from which she could no longer dread a reproof.”

Robertson - A gruesome picture as Herodias with fiendish delight witnesses the triumph of her implacable hatred of John for daring to reprove her for her marriage with Herod Antipas. A woman scorned is a veritable demon, a literal she-devil when she wills to be.

Hiebert - According to the ancient Roman historian Cassius Dio, when the head of Cicero (d. 43 B.C.) was brought to Mark Antony’s wife, Fulvia, she pulled out his tongue and repeatedly stabbed it with her hairpin. Her violent assault on his tongue was intended as a poetic act of final vengeance against Cicero, because he had delivered powerful speeches that attacked Mark Antony. The fifth-century church father Jerome (d. 420) suggested that Herodias similarly mutilated the severed head of John the Baptist. Though such cannot be verified, it would certainly fit with the spiteful rage that characterized the vulgar queen.

Guzik - Herod had a terrible end. In order to take his brother’s wife Herodias, he put away his first wife, a princess from a neighboring kingdom to the east. Her father was offended and came against Herod with an army, defeating him in battle. Then his brother Agrippa accused him of treason against Rome, and he was banished into the distant Roman province of Gaul. In Gaul, Herod and Herodias committed suicide.

Brian Bell - At the end of most true story TV shows and movies, it tells what happened w/the key people: Herod: lost his prestige and power. His armies were defeated by the Arabs. His appeals to be made a real king (urged by his wife) were refused by Emperor Caligula. Herod was banished to Gaul (France) and then to Spain, where he died

MacArthur - After Herod had John beheaded, he inquired about Jesus and “ kept trying to see Him ” ( Luke 9:9+). But Jesus made no effort to see Herod and would not allow Herod to see Him until it was His Father’s time. Jesus once sent a message to the king when it was reported that Herod wanted to kill Him, saying, “ Go and tell that fox, ‘ Behold, I cast out demons and perform cures today and tomorrow, and the third day I reach My goal ’ ” ( Luke 13:32 ). Jesus went about His mission and left the king to his unresolved fear, to his unrelenting sin, and to his doom of damnation. After His appearance before the Sanhedrin and Pilate, Jesus was sent to Herod and they saw each other for the first time. (Read Lk 23:8,9,11+)

Herod rejected Christ, and Christ rejected Herod.
For fear of a woman, for fear of his reputation,
for fear of his peers, for fear of his throne—
and for lack of fear for God—
he damned his soul forever.
-- John MacArthur

Matthew 14:12  His disciples came and took away the body and buried it; and they went and reported to Jesus.

  • took: Mt 27:58-61 Ac 8:2 

Related Passage:

Mark 6:29+  When his disciples heard about this, they came and took away his body and laid it in a tomb.

His disciples (mathetes) came and took away the body and buried it - This refers to John's disciples, so they clearly were not with him when he was beheaded although we know they had access to him from Mt 11:2. Just imagine their agony and grief that this man who had taught them was lying headless on a prison floor. Took away is the verb airo which means to lift up or pick up and carry away. Picture John's headless body lying on the floor of his prison cell with blood everywhere -- a gruesome scene for sure! But don't miss the glorious word "it"! Why? Because they buried "IT" not HIM. 

Spurgeon adds "It is not said by the Evangelist that they buried John, but ‘they took up his body, and buried IT,’ not him. The real John no man could bury, and Herod soon found that, being dead, he yet spoke.”

Body (4430)(ptoma from pipto - to fall) what has fallen; of people and other animated creatures corpse,  a dead body: animal or human, (dead) body, corpse, esp. of one killed by violence. LS - metaph. a fall, calamity, Thayer -  1. in Greek writings from Aeschylus down, a fall, downfall; metaphorically, a failure, defeat, calamity; an error lapse, sin.  2. that which is fallen; hence, with the genitive of a person or with nekrou/ added, the (fallen) body of one dead or slain, a corpse, carcase;

And they went and reported to Jesus - Reported (apaggello) means they carried back word after John's beheading and burial happening and gave the account to Jesus. 

Robertson - The fate of John was a prophecy of what was before Jesus. According to Matt. 14:13 the news of the fate of John led to the withdrawal of Jesus to the desert privately, an additional motive besides the need for rest after the strain of the recent tour.

Scofield says...There are many events in our Lord's ministry which took place between Jn 5:47-6:1, i.e. the period between Mt 4:12-12.

John MacArthur analyzes Herod - In his interactions with both John the Baptist and Jesus, Herod Antipas stands like Judas as a monumentally tragic figure in history. He had the greatest man who had ever lived, the most honored prophet of God in his hands, and he locked him in a dungeon until he had him executed. More importantly, he had an audience with the King of kings, and he mocked Him and turned Him away. Such wasted opportunity was the result of his insidious love for sin, his arrogant unwillingness to believe, and his cowardly fear of the truth. Herod claimed to rule over others, but in reality he was a man controlled by the fear of man. His fear of the people initially kept him from killing John. His fear of his friends finally compelled him to authorize John’s execution. His fear of John made him anxious when he heard about Jesus. But his fear turned to scorn when he finally had an audience with the Son of God. Herod feared everyone except the Lord, and he lost his soul as a result. (MNTC-Mk) 

Knox Chamblin compares John with Jesus...JOHN AND JESUS.

Their Common Rejection.
Herod's rejection of John's preaching corresponds to the Nazarenes' rejection of Jesus' teaching (Mt 13:54-58); apud Gundry, 284.

Their Common Enemy.
As "King Herod" attacked and sought to destroy the infant Jesus (Mt 2:1-18), so "Herod the tetrarch" arrests, imprisons and eventually kills John. (The choice of the latter title in Mt 14:1 serves to distinguish this Herod from his father, Mt 2:1.) Moreover, that Herod Antipas poses a threat to Jesus is shown by Jesus' withdrawal into a solitary place once he learns about John's death (Mt 14:12-13). (Likewise Jesus had withdrawn into Galilee upon hearing of John's imprisonment, Mt 4:12.) Given Herod's identification of Jesus as John redivivus, would he not surely want Jesus dead as well?

Their Common Fate.
At Herodias' prompting, Herod has John beheaded. "Execution by beheading went against Jewish law, but agreed with Greek and Roman custom" (Gundry 289). While Jesus escapes the enemy for the moment (the hour appointed by the Father has not yet arrived), already we are being prepared for the climax of the Gospel, when Jesus himself will suffer death at the hands of the enemies of the kingdom (cf. comments on Mt 11:12b; Mt 16:21; Mt 17:12).

Matthew 14:13  Now when Jesus heard about John, He withdrew from there in a boat to a secluded place by Himself; and when the people heard of this, they followed Him on foot from the cities.

  • Mt 14:1,2 10:23 12:15 Mk 6:30-33 Lu 9:10-17 Joh 6:1-15 

Related Passages:

Mark 6:31-32+ And He *said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a secluded place and rest a while.” (For there were many people coming and going, and they did not even have time to eat.) They went away in the boat to a secluded place by themselves.

Luke 9:10+ When the apostles returned, they gave an account to Him of all that they had done. Taking them with Him, He withdrew by Himself to a city called Bethsaida.

John 6:1+  After these things Jesus went away to the other side of the Sea of Galilee (or Tiberias)....3 Then Jesus went up on the mountain, and there He sat down with His disciples. 4 Now the Passover, the feast of the Jews, was near



Now when Jesus heard about John, He withdrew from there in a boat to a secluded place by Himself - John 6:1 says the other side of the Sea and Luke 9:10+ says this is Bethsaida, which is on the East (really northeast) side of the Sea of Galilee. Their private time with Jesus in the boat on the sea would prove to be the only time of rest the weary band would experience.  Although Matthew says by Himself, comparison with Luke 9:10+ (Taking them with Him, He withdrew by Himself) and Mark 6:30-31+ indicates the disciples were also with Him, having returned from their tour of evangelization (Mt 10:5) and they reported to Him all that they had done and taught.

In Mark Jesus called His disciples to "Come away by yourselves to a secluded place and rest (anapauo) a while.” (For there were many people coming and going, and they did not even have time to eat." (Mk 6:31+)

Brian Bell - Every weary Christian worker needs to hear those words by Christ. It is important that we get alone from time to time to hear God’s voice and refresh ourselves physically and mentally. We need times when we smooth out the wrinkles of our soul, get alone w/ God, refresh our bodies, & then get ready to serve the Lord again.

If we don’t come apart and rest - we’ll come apart.
-- Vance Havner

and when the people heard of this, they followed Him on foot from the cities -  Jesus and the disciples went by sea while the crowd went by land. The verb followed is frequently associated with those who became His genuine disciples (Mt 4:20, 22+, Mk 1:18+, Mk 2:14+, Lk 5:11, 27, 28+) While akoloutheo  is frequently used to describe "disciples," as we see in John 6:66+, these Jews who followed Him on foot from the cities were for the most part not genuine believers, but false disciples or what I refer to as "fair weather disciples." "The crowds swelled as they passed from town to town along the populous west shore." (Lenski)

Followed (190)(akoloutheo from a = expresses union with, likeness + keleuthos = a road, way) means to walk the same road (Ponder that simple definition dear believer - Am I willing to walk the same road as Jesus?) Literally to follow (like the crowds followed Jesus) and in a figurative sense to follow Jesus as a disciple. Akoloutheo in Matthew's Gospel = Matt. 4:20; Matt. 4:22; Matt. 4:25; Matt. 8:1; Matt. 8:10; Matt. 8:19; Matt. 8:22; Matt. 8:23; Matt. 9:9; Matt. 9:19; Matt. 9:27; Matt. 10:38; Matt. 12:15; Matt. 14:13; Matt. 16:24; Matt. 19:2; Matt. 19:21; Matt. 19:27; Matt. 19:28; Matt. 20:29; Matt. 20:34; Matt. 21:9; Matt. 26:58; Matt. 27:55

Matthew 14:14  When He went ashore, He saw a large crowd, and felt compassion for them and healed their sick.

  • Mt 9:36 Mt 15:32-39 Mk 6:34 8:1,2 Mk 9:22 Lu 7:13 Lk 19:41  Joh 11:33-35 Heb 2:17 4:15 5:2 

Related Passage:

Matthew 9:36+ Seeing the people, He felt compassion for them, because they were distressed and dispirited like sheep without a shepherd.

Mk 6:34+ When Jesus went ashore, He saw a large crowd and He felt compassion for them because they were like sheep without a shepherd; and He began to teach them many things.

John 6:5+ Therefore Jesus, lifting up His eyes and seeing that a large crowd was coming to Him, *said to Philip, “Where are we to buy bread, so that these may eat?”


John's account suggest that Jesus and His disciples were able to go to the mountain where He was able to spend some time with the Twelve - "Then Jesus went up on the mountain, and there He sat down with His disciples." (Jn 6:3+) Lenski explains that "It was from this retired spot that he came forth and saw the multitude that had gradually assembled near the shore." 

When He went ashore, He saw a large crowd - Considering the fact that Jesus had sought a secluded place so the team could rest a while for they had not even had time to eat (Mk 6:31+), it would have been tempting to ignore the crowd or tell them to disperse. The disciples undoubtedly needed rest after their evangelistic campaign (Mk 6:7-13+ cf Mk 6:30+, Lk 9:1-6+ cf  Lk 9:10+). But Jesus knowing His time on earth was short, always sought to redeem the time (and so should we - see Redeem the Time) and demonstrates to all His disciples (then and now) that our disappointments (no rest in this case) are often God's appointments (the one miracle found in all 4 gospels other than the resurrection). Jesus saw the crowd with God's eyes and as shown below with God's heart of compassion. 

Saw (beheld, observed) (2334)(theoreo from theaomai = to look at closely or attentively or contemplatively - even with a sense of wonder; cp theoros = a spectator; English = theater) usually refers to physical sight but can also refer to perception and understanding. The idea is to gaze or look with interest and purpose,  carefully examining with emphasis on attention to details and thus to behold intensely or attentively. 

And felt compassion for them - Mark 6:34+ explains why Jesus felt compassion stating it was "because they were like sheep without a shepherd." "in spite of all the unbelief that Jesus encountered and in spite of his intention to withdraw from his great public activity, his heart should thus be moved at the sight of this crowd that had followed him." (Lenski)

MacArthur - He must have felt much as He did when He approached Lazarus’s grave and wept (John 11:35) and when He looked out over Jerusalem through tears and said, “If you had known in this day, even you, the things which make for peace! But now they have been hidden from your eyes” (Luke 19:42). He represented the compassionate heart of God even more fully than had Jeremiah, who declared to rebellious Judah, “But if you will not listen to [God’s warning], my soul will sob in secret for such pride; and my eyes will bitterly weep and flow down with tears” (Jer. 13:17). (MNTC-Mt)

Felt compassion (4697)(splanchnizomai from splagchnon = bowel, viscera) means to experience a deep visceral feeling for someone, to feel compassion for, to feel sympathy, to take pity on someone. Compassion is the sympathetic consciousness of others’ distress together with a desire to alleviate it. This verb expresses an outward flow of one's life in contrast to our natural tendency toward self centeredness. It is notable that 8/12 NT uses describe this deep seated emotion in Jesus. It follows that if we desire to imitate Jesus, we need to be men and women of deep compassion! Zodhiates note on splagchnon - In Class. Gr. writers, it is chiefly spoken of the upper viscera of animals, as the heart, lungs, and liver which were eaten during or after the sacrifice… Figuratively, the inward parts indicating the breast or heart as the seat of emotions and passions. In the NT, of the gentler emotions as compassion, tender affection indicating the mind, soul, the inner man (2Co 6:12, Philemon 1:7, 20; 1Jn 3:17; Sept.: Pr 12:10 (cf. Ge 43:30; 1Kgs. 3:26) The Complete Word Study Dictionary: New Testament. AMG)

And healed their sick -  Mark 6:34+ adds that "He began to teach them many things." Luke adds that "Welcoming them, He began speaking to them about the kingdom of God and curing those who had need of healing." (Lk 9:11+) Notice the order in Luke -- first teaching, then healing, because only the former would heal their spiritual illness. The healing would validate the truths He was teaching them about the Kingdom of God, undoubtedly explaining how they could gain entry to the Kingdom as summarized in Mark 1:15+ where Jesus declared they must "Repent and believe in the gospel.” (Both verbs are in present imperative). The adjective sick (arrostos) in this context speaks of physical sickness, but it is interesting that in classic uses this adjective sometimes had a moral sense. Also keep in mind that even in their desperate state of being without strength, these people somehow were able to follow Jesus by land along the northern border of the Sea of Galilee. It is sad that the sick were so determined for physical healing, but had little to no interest (for the most part) in spiritual healing. 

MacArthur points out that "Jesus postponed His rest, His privacy, His time alone with the disciples, and even His time with His Father in order to meet the needs of those helpless people who suffered." 

Craig Evans writes that Matthew "misses no opportunity to portray Jesus as healer. See Matt. 4:23–24; 9:35; 12:15; 15:30; 19:2; 21:14." (BKBC-Mt)

Sick (732)(arrostos from a = without + rhṓnnumi = to strengthen,make firm) means strictly without strength; hence sickly, infirm, disabled; invalid. BDAG says literally "powerless." Liddell-Scott adds "weak, sickly:-Adv.,to be ill, Aeschin. 2. in moral sense, weak, feeble (of soul - Xen)." This word in context would indicate that these “strengthless ones” could only with great difficulty have been transported to this distant, uninhabited place. 

Arrostos - 5x -sick(3), sick people(2). Matt. 14:14; Mk. 6:5; Mk. 6:13; Mk. 16:18; 1 Co. 11:30

THOUGHT - The closer Jesus came to the Cross, the more He sought to make DISCIPLE MAKERS out of them. Tommy Nelson says that the best disciple makers are those who ''smell their own mortality'' who are near the end of their life, like salmon who die in spawning so that they may produce offspring. Here Jesus has reached a turning point in His ministry and begins to show how God brings men from a LEARNER to a responsible REPRODUCER. Look at v15 --> His disciples were saying send the people away because they were HUNGRY. The most important thing in the world is my belly they were saying. Before you become a REPRODUCER you have to deal with. that inclination-- How I feel is important, God and people aren't important but my belly is important! ''Me, me, me, I love myself. I have my picture on my shelf.'' So (1) You've got to see the crowd like Jesus saw them. (2) You give them something to eat: Jesus is saying here is a huge crowd and you obviously don't have the ability to do what I'm asking...He is telling them to LIVE A SUPERNATURAL life! Our response is like their's in Mt 14:17...''We can't do it. It's impossible.'' This is where we need to come in our acknowledge that we cannot do what He asks with our own wares. In Mt 14:18 note: Do not take your 5 loaves and 2 fishes to the multitude because the first big guy will eat them all. What you do is what He take your life and bring it to Him. You go to Christ. Have you come to verse 18 in your life? That place where you say ''Bless me and break me and then give me away.''?

Matthew 14:15  When it was evening, the disciples came to Him and said, "This place is desolate and the hour is already late; so send the crowds away, that they may go into the villages and buy food for themselves."

  • his: Mk 6:35,36 Lu 9:12 
  • send: Mt 15:23 Mk 8:3 


When it was evening, the disciples came to Him and said - Mark has "When it was already quite late...already quite late." (Mk 6:35+) Luke has "Now the day was ending" (Lk 9:12+

This place is desolate and the hour is already late - Mark adds "His disciples came to Him and said, “This place is desolate." (Mk 6:35-36+) The disciples, who are not always fast mentally, tell Jesus there are no "fast food" places! And since the hour is late the crowds need to hurry to the villages before the stores close. The Lord of all Creation has the stage set for His great sign which clearly points to His deity.

THOUGHT - By way of application remember that large crowds of people today are in a desolate place in their sin and in desperate need of the spiritual food of Christ, the Bread of Life.

A T Robertson - Not a desolate region, simply lonely, comparatively uninhabited with no large towns near. There were “villages” (κωμας [kōmas]) where the people could buy food, but they would need time to go to them.

So send the crowds away, that they may go into the villages and buy food for themselves - Lk 9:12+ says "The twelve came and said to Him, “Send the crowd away, that they may go into the surrounding villages and countryside and find lodging and get something to eat; for here we are in a desolate place.” Mk 6:36+ has "send them away so that they may go into the surrounding countryside and villages and buy themselves something to eat.” 

THOUGHT - Applying this truth, how shortsighted of the disciples were to send away those who were hungry. We need to imitate Jesus and seek to meet their need. Jesus sometimes gives seemingly impossible challenges, but we need to give them something to eat. We alone have bread that satisfies the soul. 

Matthew 14:16  But Jesus said to them, "They do not need to go away; you give them something to eat!"

  • they: 2Ki 4:42-44 Job 31:16,17 Pr 11:24 Ec 11:2 Lu 3:11  Joh 13:29 2Co 8:2,3 9:7,8 

But Jesus said to them, "They do not need to go away; you give (aorist imperative) them something to eat!" - Put yourself in the sandals of the disciples with up to 20,000 stomachs "growling" in the background and Jesus says feed 'em!

THOUGHT - Jesus is teaching the disciples that He is the God of the impossible. What He commands, He enables. Oh, that we might face up to our own inadequacy, and learn that Jesus is able to cope with any crisis.

Jesus has not changed (Hebrews 13:8+), He is still the God of the impossible situation or circumstance you might be experiencing as you read this comment. While there is no absolute guarantee the circumstance or situation will dramatically change, we can rest assured that He is also faithful as Paul said "No temptation (test) has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted (tested) beyond what you are able, but with the temptation (test) will provide the (not "a" but "the") way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it (IN OTHER WORDS THE TESTING CIRCUMSTANCE MAY STILL BE PRESENT BUT GRACE TO MAKE IT IS ALSO PRESENT! - cf 2 Cor 12:9-10+)." (1 Cor 10:13+).

A T Robertson - The emphasis is on you [hūmeis] in contrast with their “go away” (apoluson). It is the urgent aorist of instant action (dote). It was an astounding command. The disciples were to learn that “no situation appears to Him desperate, no crisis unmanageable” (Bruce).

Matthew 14:17  They said to Him, "We have here only five loaves and two fish."

  • Mt 15:33,34 Nu 11:21-23 Ps 78:19,20 Mk 6:37,38 8:4,5 Lu 9:13 Joh 6:5-9 


They said to Him, "We have here only five loaves and two fish."

A T Robertson - The disciples, like us today, are quick with reasons for their inability to perform the task imposed by Jesus.

Brian Bell - Christ can take our little and make it much. [Moses’ stick. David’s rock. Elijah’s mantle/cloak. Widows jar/oil. Samson’s donkey jawbone. A lil lad’s lunch... Your monthly missionary support check. Your prayer. Your individual tithe. Your prep time for your SS class] Our means, His power.

Matthew 14:18  And He said, "Bring them here to Me."

And He said, "Bring them here to Me."

Matthew 14:19  Ordering the people to sit down on the grass, He took the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up toward heaven, He blessed the food, and breaking the loaves He gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds,

  • he commanded: Mt 15:35 Mk 6:39 8:6 Lu 9:14 Joh 6:10 
  • looking: Mk 6:41 7:34 Lu 9:16 Joh 11:41 
  • he blessed: Mt 15:36 26:26,27 1Sa 9:13 Mk 8:6 14:22,23 Lu 22:19 24:30 Joh 6:11,23 Ac 27:35 Ro 14:6 1Co 10:16,31 11:24 Col 3:17 1Ti 4:4,5 

Ordering the people to sit down on the grass, He took the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up toward heaven, He blessed the food,

And breaking the loaves He gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds - As Brian Bell says the disciples (and us today) are not manufacturers, but are only distributors. The miracle took place in Jesus hands, not the hands of the disciples.

Brian Bell - The sequence of verbs (blessed/give thanks, broke, gave) occurs again in Matt 26:26, which may hint that it represented a traditional blessing. 2. Jesus took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to the disciples and said, Take, eat; this is My body....Whatever He blesses, He breaks. Are we willing to be broken?

Matthew 14:20  and they all ate and were satisfied. They picked up what was left over of the broken pieces, twelve full baskets.

  • were: Mt 5:6 15:33 Ex 16:8,12 Lev 26:26 1Ki 17:12-16 2Ki 4:43,44 Pr 13:25 Eze 4:14-16 Hag 1:6 Lu 1:53 9:17 Joh 6:7,11 
  • and they took: Mt 15:37,38 16:8-10 2Ki 4:1-7 Mk 6:42-44 8:8,9,16-21  Joh 6:12-14 

and they all ate and were satisfied. They picked up what was left over of the broken pieces, twelve full baskets.

Brian Bell - Jesus didn’t only feed the 5000, but he taught the 12. He sent them home w/a doggie-bag reminder. [maybe Jesus has em carry the big basket all the way home so they don’t forget this lesson] 1. Twelve baskets full - 1 per disciple. In the OT, God fed His people with manna, but there were no edible leftovers. Christ can overcome every difficulty and feed the multitudes. The disciples had many excuses - not enough $, the wrong place, the wrong time - but Christ took what they had and met the need. He will do this today.

Matthew 14:21  There were about five thousand men who ate, besides women and children.

  • about: Joh 6:10 Ac 4:4,34 2Co 9:8-11 Php 4:19 


There were about five thousand men who ate, besides women and children - Matthew's account indicates that there were many more than 5000 who dined with Jesus hat night. He numbers the men at about 5000 but adds women and children which would suggest the crowd was closer to 15-20 thousand (or more). 

Brian Bell - John 6 makes it clear that the miracle of the feeding of the 5,000 was a sermon in action. Christ, through His Word, is the Bread of Life on whom we feed. It is the privilege - and responsibility - of His servants to give this bread to the hungry multitudes. The servants receive that bread personally from Christ, then pass it on to others.

Matthew 14:22  Immediately He made the disciples get into the boat and go ahead of Him to the other side, while He sent the crowds away.

  • Jesus: Mk 6:45 
  • while: Mt 13:36 15:39 

In the preceding section Jesus made them to lie down in green pastures, and now He will lead them beside still waters as He walks on the sea!

Immediately He made the disciples get into the boat and go ahead of Him to the other side, while He sent the crowds away.

SOME STORMS COME JUST BC WE ARE HUMAN. SOME BC WE ARE BEING DISCIPLINED. AND SOME BC GOD IS TESTING OUR FAITH AS SEEN IN THIS STORM: See 1 Pet 1:7  So  there are storms that come because we are obedient! Matt 14:22-33. Jesus had fed more than 5,000 people and they wanted to make him king. He sent the crowd away, and also sent the disciples across the Sea of Galilee in their boat. He went up to the mountaintop to pray. When the disciples got away from the land, a fierce storm arose and almost sank the ship. Please note: they were not in the storm because they disobeyed the Lord, but because they obeyed him. He was testing and perfecting their faith. Later he came to them and stilled the storm; but the entire experience revealed to the men how weak their faith really was. God is always in complete control. When God permits Satan to light the furnace, he always keeps his own hand on the thermostat! When you find yourself in difficult circumstances, seek to discern through the Word and prayer whether your suffering is from nature, from God, or from Satan.  Is God perfecting you?  Is he disciplining you?  Is Satan seeking to hinder your ministry or even destroy you?  You cannot control the origin of your suffering, but you can control the outcome. So that it is true of you as Jesus said it would be to those who were persecuted before the FALL of Jerusalem: See Luke 21:18.

Matthew 14:23  After He had sent the crowds away, He went up on the mountain by Himself to pray; and when it was evening, He was there alone.

  • he went: Mt 6:6 26:36 Mk 6:46 Lu 6:12 Ac 6:4 
  • he was: Joh 6:15-17 

After He had sent the crowds away, He went up on the mountain by Himself to pray; and when it was evening, He was there alone.

Matthew 14:24  But the boat was already a long distance from the land, battered by the waves; for the wind was contrary.

  • tossed: Mt 8:24 Isa 54:11 Mk 6:48 Joh 6:18 

But the boat was already a long distance from the land, battered by the waves; for the wind was contrary.

Matthew 14:25  And in the fourth watch of the night He came to them, walking on the sea.

  • the fourth watch: . Mt 24:43 Lu 12:38 

And in the fourth watch of the night  - This would be the hours just prior to dawn, from three to six in the morning. The Jews divided the night into four watches; the first was from 6 in the evening till 9 pm , the second from 9 to 12, the third from 12 to 3  and the fourth from 3 to 6; so that it may have just begun to be daylight before our Lord came toward the disciples

He came to them, walking on the sea.
walking: This suspension of the laws of gravitation was a proper manifestation of omnipotence. Job 9:8 Ps 93:3,4 104:3 Mk 6:48 Joh 6:19 Rev 10:2,5,8

Henry Morris - In a further evidence of His power as Creator, Jesus must have created a special anti-gravity form of energy in order to walk on the sea, thus suspending or superseding His created law of energy conservation (Second Law of Thermodynamics: no energy can be created or destroyed--only conserved).

Matthew 14:26  When the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were terrified, and said, "It is a ghost!" And they cried out in fear.

  • they were: 1Sa 28:12-14 Job 4:14-16 Da 10:6-12 Mk 6:49,50 Lu 1:11,12 Lu 24:5,45 Ac 12:15 Rev 1:17 

When the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were terrified, and said, "It is a ghost!" And they cried out in fear.

Saw (beheld, observed) (2334)(theoreo from theaomai = to look at closely or attentively or contemplatively - even with a sense of wonder; cp theoros = a spectator; English = theater) usually refers to physical sight but can also refer to perception and understanding. The idea is to gaze or look with interest and purpose,  carefully examining with emphasis on attention to details and thus to behold intensely or attentively. 

Matthew 14:27  But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, "Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid."

  • Be: Mt 9:2  Joh 16:33 Ac 23:11 
  • it: Isa 41:4,10,14 51:12 Lu 24:38,39 Joh 6:20 14:1-3 Rev 1:17,18 

But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, "Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid."

Matthew 14:28  Peter said to Him, "Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water."

  • bid: Mt 19:27 26:33-35 Mk 14:31 Lu 22:31-34,49,50 Joh 6:68 13:36-38 Ro 12:3 

 Peter said to Him, "Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water."

Matthew 14:29  And He said, "Come!" And Peter got out of the boat, and walked on the water and came toward Jesus.

  • he walked: Mt 17:20 21:21 Mk 9:23 11:22,23 Lu 17:6 Ac 3:16 Ro 4:19 Php 4:13 

And He said, "Come!" And Peter got out of the boat, and walked on the water and came toward Jesus.

Matthew 14:30  But seeing the wind, he became frightened, and beginning to sink, he cried out, "Lord, save me!"

  • when: Mt 26:69-75 2Ki 6:15 Mk 14:38,66-72 Lu 22:54-61  Joh 18:25-27 2Ti 4:16,17 
  • Lord: Mt 8:24,25 Ps 3:7 69:1,2 107:27-30 116:3,4 La 3:54-57 Jon 2:2-7 2Co 12:7-10 

But seeing the wind, he became frightened, and beginning to sink, he cried out, "Lord, save me!"

Believer's Study Bible - Peter's experience is not uncommon in the modern era. Too much aware of the elements around him and the dangers which they imposed, Peter forgot to continue trusting the Christ who bade him come.

Matthew 14:31  Immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and took hold of him, and said^ to him, "You of little faith, why did you doubt?

  • stretched: Ps 138:7 Isa 63:12 Mk 1:31,41 5:41 Ac 4:30 
  • took hold of him: Ge 22:14 De 32:36 Mk 16:7 Lu 22:31,32 24:34 1Pe 1:5 
  • You of little faith: Mt 8:26 16:8 17:20 Mk 11:23 Ro 4:18-20 1Ti 2:8 Jas 1:6-8 

Immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and took hold of him, and said^ to him, "You of little faith, why did you doubt?

Matthew 14:32  When they got into the boat, the wind stopped.

  • come: Ps 107:29,30 Mk 4:41 6:51  Joh 6:21 

When they got into the boat, the wind stopped.

Matthew 14:33  And those who were in the boat worshiped Him, saying, "You are certainly God's Son!"

  • worshipped: Mt 15:25 28:9,17 Lu 24:52 
  • Of: Mt 16:16 17:5 26:63 27:43,54 Ps 2:7 Da 3:25 Mk 1:1 14:61 15:39 Lu 4:41 8:28 Joh 1:49 6:69 9:35-38 11:27 17:1 19:7 Ac 8:37 Ro 1:4 

And those who were in the boat worshiped Him, saying, "You are certainly God's Son!

Matthew 14:34  When they had crossed over, they came to land at Gennesaret.

  • when: Mk 6:53-56 
  • the land at Gennesaret: Lu 5:1 

When they had crossed over, they came to land at Gennesaret - Note Gennesaret on the western side of the Sea of Galilee.

Gennesaret was a fertile district, in which were situated the cities of Tiberias and Capernaum, extending along the western shore of the lake to which it gave name, about 30 stadia, or nearly four miles, in length, and twenty stadia, or two miles and a half, in breadth, according to Josephus.

Matthew 14:35  And when the men of that place recognized Him, they sent word into all that surrounding district and brought to Him all who were sick;

  • Mt 4:24,25 Mk 1:28-34 2:1-12 3:8-10 6:55 

And when the men of that place recognized Him, they sent word into all that surrounding district and brought to Him all who were sick;

Matthew 14:36  and they implored Him that they might just touch the fringe of His cloak; and as many as touched it were cured.

  • only: Mt 9:20,21 Mk 3:10 Lu 6:19 Ac 19:11,12 
  • hem: Mt 23:5 Ex 28:33-43 Nu 15:38,39 
  • perfectly: Joh 6:37 7:23 Ac 3:16 4:9,10,14-16 

and they implored Him that they might just touch the fringe of His cloak; and as many as touched it were cured.