1At that time Herod the tetrarch heard the report about Jesus 2and said to his servants, “This is John the Baptist; he is risen from the dead, and therefore these powers are at work in him.”
Matthew now turns to an incident about the tragic death of John the Baptist to indicate a more general rejection of Jesus as the Messiah.
In this chapter, Jesus withdrew from the crowd to instruct His disciples because of the rise in threat to His person. He moved to a series of private ministries beginning in this chapter.
At that time
“That time” refers to Jesus’ ministry in Nazareth.
Herod the tetrarch heard the report about Jesus
News about the phenomenon of Jesus’ ministry reached Herod Antipas, the son of Herod the Great, the Edomite (37 B.C. to 4 B.C.). Herod the Great had nine wives and killed some of his own sons and wives. He killed infants in Bethlehem (2:13-18). Herod Agrippa I imprisoned Peter and killed James (Ac 12). Herod Agrippa II, the son of Agrippa I, tried Paul (Ac 25:13ff). All Herods were Edomites and practiced the Jewish religion to suit their purposes.
Herod Antipas (4 B.C. to A.D. 39) was the “tetrarch,” meaning that he ruled over the fourth part of the kingdom. Antipas lived on the western shore of the Sea of Galilee in the city of Tiberius. Antipas is most prominent in the gospels since his authority was over the geographical area of Perea and Galilee, where Jesus and John conducted their ministries. He imprisoned John the Baptist. On three occasions Jesus and Antipas came into each other’s purview:
This occasion, when Antipas heard about Jesus’ ministry;
Herod Antipas’ fear that someone would kill Jesus as He passed through Perea (Lu 13:31-33);
The only occasion where Herod Antipas actually met Jesus was when Pilate sent Him for examination (Lu 23:6-12).
and said to his servants, “This is John the Baptist; he is risen from the dead, and therefore these powers are at work in him.”
Herod previously beheaded John the Baptist and leaped to the conclusion that he was resuscitated from the dead. A bad conscience creates paranoia and superstition.
The conscience is one means whereby God deals with people.
People with skeletons in the closet have a tendency toward a guilt complex. Conscience is not an absolute standard but a measurement for determining what is right. No rationalization can console those with a bad conscience. God uses the conscience to bring people to Himself.