Gibbs, Jeffrey A. “Matthew 4:17-22: Jesus’ Proclamation Begins and He Calls Disciples.” St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 2006, pp. 213-220.
It is at Matthew 4:17 that Jesus’ actual public ministry is taken up. Prior to this, Gibbs considers that Jesus is being introduced (Gibbs 2006, 213). Gibbs considers this transition to be of great importance, along with that found at 16:21. Here, Matthew says that Jesus began his work (Gibbs 2006, 214). Of note is the fact that Jesus’ preaching is described the same way as that of John. He is calling the lost to repentance and belief.
Gibbs reminds his readers again of the significance of the message of God’s reign approaching. The reign is the activity of God more than it is a group of people or an organization (Gibbs 2006, 215).
The call of the first disciples seems important. Gibbs notes that Matthew 4:18-21 and 4:21-22 have very strong parallelism. The two pairs of disciples are to be considered together. Furthermore, the powerful call of Jesus shows he is in command of the situation (Gibbs 2006, 216). It is significant that other rabbis would be sought out by their disciples but Jesus finds his.
Gibbs thinks some commentators make too much of the fact that the disciples leave their things to follow Jesus. He doesn’t see it as an immediate radical separation but as a gradual beginning to find they will always follow Jesus (Gibbs 2006, 217).
Gibbs explores the fact that these disciples were called as special disciples who would become apostles. They are presented as unique individuals. They have a task reaching to others. They physically follow Jesus from place to place (Gibbs 2006, 218). As a group, these apostles seem to play a special role and have a special relationship with Jesus.