*Scripture verses covered in this section's commentary are noted in italics

Matthew 11:1 meaning

Matthew has finished relaying Jesus’s instructions to His twelve disciples on their mission to preach to the towns and villages of Israel that the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand. Jesus also goes out to preach and teach among the lost sheep of Israel in the same way His disciples are doing.

The parallel gospel account of this event is found in Mark 6:6.

Matthew resumes his narrative. First, he indicates that Jesus had finished giving instructions to His twelve disciples to go throughout the cities of Israel and spread the gospel and news of the approaching Kingdom of Heaven. Next Matthew tells us that when Jesus had finished this, He departed from there to teach and preach in their cities. Matthew is not entirely clear where exactly the there from which he departed is located. The most likely place was somewhere near the northern shore of Galilee. The towns of Capernaum, Bethsaida, and Chorazin functioned as a sort of headquarters for Jesus’s ministry. This was where Jesus found and called most of His first disciples and where He performed most of the miracles Matthew had recorded up to this point of his gospel. This was also the last region that Matthew described in his narration of Christ before he focused on Jesus’s instructions to the twelve

“Jesus was going through all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every disease and every sickness.”
(Matthew 9:35)

This was apparently in the Galilee region. The word depart seems to indicate that this is a new teaching circuit for Jesus. It likely is a part of the same circuit that He just commissioned and instructed the twelve disciples to conduct among the lost sheep of the house of Israel (Matthew 10:4-42). Matthew does not specify how long this preaching tour lasted. It could have lasted a few days, a few weeks, or even a few months.

The phrase their cities would refer to the cities of the “lost sheep of the house of Israel,” as Jesus described in Matthew 10:6. This would be the cities occupied by Jewish people within Israel. Just at the disciples left to travel to these cities to share the gospel of the kingdom, so also Jesus departed to share the gospel of the kingdom.

Biblical Text

11:1  When Jesus had finished giving instructions to His twelve disciples, He departed from there to teach and preach in their cities.

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