It was in the Gentile area of Galilee—not in Jewish Jerusalem to the south—where Christ began His ministry of light. In Romans 11:11, Paul asserts that "salvation has come to the Gentiles." Peter, in citing Joel in his first sermon, understands the Gentiles to be spiritually "in the region and shadow of death," in deep darkness, with clouds obscuring their vision of God's salvation. He relates Joel to Pentecost because, on that day, God spread apart those clouds to allow the light of His salvation to reach the Gentiles, dispelling their gloom. What happened in Acts 2 gave the Gentiles the hope that they could build a relationship with the God of salvation. The hope of the Gentiles becomes the theme of the book of Acts, as seen, for example,
» in the preaching by Philip to the Ethiopian eunuch (Acts 8);
» in the work by Peter with Cornelius and his family (Acts 10); and
» in Paul's ministry to the Gentiles in every city he visited. God called Paul "to bear My name before Gentiles" (Acts 9:15). Chapters 11 through 28 of Acts relates how Paul did that.
Peter's Trumpets Message—on Pentecost
At first glance, one might think Jesus moved out of the area because He wanted to fulfill the prophecy that His preaching would begin in the area of Zebulun and Naphtali. That works until one understands that the word "departed" means "to withdraw," which gives it a different connotation. The beginning of verse 12 tells why He withdrew: because He heard that John had been put in prison. John had been imprisoned due to persecution, and in Jesus' estimation, it could have enveloped His ministry too. Jesus thus accomplished two things at one time by withdrawing: He left the area to avoid persecution and fulfilled the prophecy of His ministry commencing in the lands of Zebulun and Naphtali.
John W. Ritenbaugh
A Place of Safety? (Part 2)
Other Forerunner Commentary entries containing Matthew 4:12: