Gibbs, Jeffrey A. “Matthew 4:12-16: Jesus, Immanuel, Prepares to Bring Light in Galilee.” St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 2006, pp. 200-209.
As Matthew shows Jesus to be the promised light arising for the Gentiles, Gibbs notes that the quotation from the Old Testament is problematic. The passage in Isaiah in the Masoretic Text does not precisely line up with the wording in the Septuagint. There are some variant readings. Matthew’s use suggests that he was translating from Hebrew, and possibly from a manuscript tradition which we don’t currently have (Gibbs 2006, 201). Gibbs walks through the grammatical differences extensively. The overall thrust of the passage is retained in Matthew. “The light of Christ is not just shining upon Galilee of the Gentiles; it has risen and is shining for them” (Gibbs 2006, 203).
The brief mention of John the Baptist in Matthew 4:12 suggests to Gibbs that Matthew wants us to see the “vulnerability and weakness” of the humans who participate in Christ’s kingdom (Gibbs 2006, 203). Jesus’ withdrawal from Nazareth thus both suggests his desire to avoid being imprisoned before his time and his desire to shine God’s light on the Gentiles in Capernaum (Gibbs 2006, 204). We are reminded here that Jesus is Immanuel, God with us, and that he serves that role for all nations. Gibbs is clear that this, the end of the first major portion of Matthew’s Gospel, is not only concluding the material of the section, but also foreshadowing the end of the entire work in Matthew 28:20 (Gibbs 2006, 206).
Gibbs concludes the chapter with a review of the structure of this part of Matthew’s Gospel. A strong indicator that 1:1-4:16 is one unit is the shift of theme in 4:17, when Jesus “began” “from then.” This shows a new pattern of activity (Gibbs 2006, 207). Gibbs further notes that half of Matthew’s statements about fulfilling prophecy are in 1;1-4:16, as are two additional significant Old Testament quotations. The first and last quotations in this section are from the Immanuel material in Isaiah. This brackets the content of the section (Gibbs 2006, 208). The theme of the unexpected is also very prominent in 1:1-4:16. Gibs sees this as one of the ways Matthew sets this segment of the Gospel apart, introducing the idea of salvation planned by God in a way we would never anticipate (Gibbs 2006, 209).