Confraternity Bible: New Testament and Supplemental Commentary

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LUKE - Chapter 4

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Luke 4

Supplemental Commentary:

Note.  Only those parts of the Third Gospel that are peculiar to it are commented on here.  For all other parts the reader should consult the Commentaries on the parallel passages in the other Gospels.

I.  THE PUBLIC MINISTRY OF JESUS  3-21 (continued)

1.  The Preparation  3, 1 -- 4, 14 (continued)

4, 1-13:  The Temptation.  Parallels in Matt. 4, 1-11 and Mark 1, 21 f.  The chief difference between the First and the Third Gospel is the order of the second and the third temptation.  Matthew seems to have the better order here, for the temptation to worship the devil forms a fitting climax to Christ's words, "Begone, Satan!"  It is also rather strange that Luke, who speaks so often of the angels, should have omitted all reference to the angelic administrations here (cf. Matt. 4, 11; Mark 1, 13b).    6.  For to me they have been delivered, etc.: peculiar to Luke.  Because of Adam's sin all mankind is, in a certain sense, under the power of Satan, "who leads astray the whole world" (Apoc. 12, 9); he is "the prince of the world" (John 12, 31; 14, 30).    13.  The phrase for a while implies that Jesus was tempted again by Satan later in His life.  Although the Evangelists do not record any subsequent temptations, some commentators understand this of the Agony in the Garden, which was the hour of "the power of darkness" (22, 53).  It is worthy of note that on that occasion Luke (22, 43) speaks of the angelic ministrations similar to those mentioned here by Matthew and Mark.  Other commentators think that Luke merely refers to the later attacks on Christ by His enemies which were instigated by Satan (cf. 22, 3; John 8, 44).

2.  The Inauguration of the Ministry in Galilee  4, 14 -- 6, 16

4, 14-32:  Jesus at Nazareth.    14a.  The return to Galilee; cf. Matt. 4, 12; Mark 1, 14a; John 4, 1-3.    14b-15.  A general summary of Christ's preaching in Galilee; cf. Matt. 4, 17; Mark 1, 14b-15.

16-30.  Christ's ministry at Nazareth; partial parallels in Matt. 13, 53-58 and Mark 6, 1-6a.  On the relation of Luke's account with that of the other two Evangelists, see Commentary on the passage in Matthew.    16-20.  Luke gives a graphic picture of this part of the synagogue service.  The ruler of the synagogue could invite any adult Jewish man to read the Scripture of the day and deliver a homily on it.  Visitors from other Jewish communities were often called upon to perform this function, and Christ and the Apostles made frequent use of this opportunity in order to preach the gospel (cf. especially Acts 13, 15 f).  Perhaps on this occasion Jesus was called upon because He had just returned from His visit to John the Baptist.

16.  Note that one stood up to read from the Law or from the Prophets but sat down (20) to deliver the sermon.    17.  The reading of a definite Book was determined by the season of the year, but the passages to be read from it and commented on were left to the choice of the preacher.    18 f.  This quotation from Isa. 61, 1 f is given by Luke according to the Septuagint version.  The words To set at liberty the oppressed are from Isa. 58, 6; the preacher was permitted to combine texts from the same Book in such a manner.  And the day of recompense: literally, "of vengeance"; but these words do not occur in the Greek text of Luke's Gospel.  Christ probably did not read these last words, because His sermon on this occasion was one of consolation.  Isa. 61 refers directly to the deliverance of the Jews from the Babylonian captivity, but this is a type of Christ's deliverance of mankind from the bonds of sin and spiritual ignorance.  To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord: the prophet refers to the custom of proclaiming the fiftieth year the "jubilee," when all debts were remitted and captives and slaves set free (cf. Lev. 25, 10); these words do not in the least imply that Christ's public ministry lasted only one year.    20.  Closing the volume: literally, "rolling up the volume," which was in the form of a scroll.    21.  These few words merely state the theme of Christ's sermon.    22.  So far this account fits in very well with the very beginning of Christ's ministry in Galilee.

23-30.  This rejection of Jesus at Nazareth according to some scholars took place at a later period in His ministry, for the people refer to the miracle that Jesus had already done at Capharnaum (23).  Cf. John 2, 12; 3, 2.    24.  Jesus answers the proverb of the Nazarenes with a proverb of His own.    25-27.  Christ proves His statement that no prophet is acceptable in his own country by showing that the prophets Elias and Eliseus were more favorably received and did more miracles in foreign countries than in Israel (cf. 3 Kgs. 17, 8 ff; 4 Kgs. 5).    25.  Heaven was shut up for three years and six months: so also in Jas. 5, 17; but according to 3 Kgs. 17, 1; 18, 1 the rain came in the third year.  Some say that this third year is found in the story of Elias in Sarepta; before this time, however, the prophet had been at the brook Carith until it dried up.  Others follow the Jewish tradition, i.e., since seven was the symbol of perfection, half of this, three-and-a-half, was considered an unlucky number.  Three-and-a-half years was a symbol for a period of calamity (cf. Apoc. 11, 2 f; 12, 6.14; 13, 5).    30.  It was not yet the hour determined by the Father for the death of Jesus (cf. John 8, 59; 10, 31.39).  His escape need not have been entirely miraculous.

31.  Jesus resides in Capharnaum: parallels in Matt. 4, 13 and Mark 1, 21.    32.  Jesus teaches with authority: parallels in Matt. 7, 28b-29 and Mark 1, 22.

4, 33-37:  The Cure of a Demoniac.  Parallel in Mark 1, 23-28.

4, 38-39:  Peter's Mother-in-law.  Parallels in Matt. 8, 14 f and Mark 1, 29-31.    38.  Great fever: Luke the physician uses a technical term to distinguish a great fever from a slight one in accordance with the practice of the ancient physicians.    39.  Rebuked the fever: i.e., to restrain its violence; cf. the use of the same verb in regard to the wind (8, 24) and the demons (4, 41; 9, 43).

4, 40-44:  Other Miracles.    40 f.  Many cures at Capharnaum: parallels in Matt. 8, 16 and Mark 1, 32-34.    42-44.  Jesus in the synagogues: parallels in Matt. 4, 23 and Mark 1, 35-39.    44.  In Luke the best Greek manuscripts read in the synagogues of Judea.  If this is the original reading here, Judea seems to be used in a broad sense, equivalent to "Palestine," including Galilee (cf. 7, 17).

Confraternity Bible:

The Temptation  1 Now Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan, and was led by the Spirit about the desert 2 for forty days, being tempted the while by the devil.  And he ate nothing those days; and when they were completed he was hungry.

3 And the devil said to him, "If thou art the Son of God, command that this stone become a loaf of bread."  4* And Jesus answered him, "It is written,
'Not by bread alone shall man live, but by every word of God.'"
5 And the devil led him up, and showed him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time.  6 And he said to him, "To thee will I give all this power and their glory; for to me they have been delivered, and to whomever I will I give them.  7 Therefore if thou wilt worship before me, the whole shall be thine."  8* And Jesus answered and said to him, "It is written,
'The Lord thy God shalt thou worship, and him only shalt thou serve.'"
9 Then he led him to Jerusalem and set him on the pinnacle of the temple and said to him, "If thou art the Son of God, throw thyself down from here; 10* for it is written,
'He will give his angels charge concerning thee, to preserve thee';
11* and,
'Upon their hands they shall bear thee up, lest thou dash thy foot against a stone.'"
12* And Jesus answered and said to him, "It is said,
'Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.'" 
13 And when the devil had tried every temptation, he departed from him for a while.

Jesus at Nazareth  14 And Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit into Galilee; and the fame of him went out through the whole country.  15 And he taught in their synagogues, and was honored by all.

16 And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up; and according to his custom, he entered the synagogue on the Sabbath and stood up to read.  17 And the volume of Isaias the prophet was handed to him.  And after he opened the volume, he found the place where it was written,
18* "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me; because he has anointed me;

To bring good news to the poor he has sent me, 19* to proclaim to the captives release, and sight to the blind;

To set at liberty the oppressed, to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, and the day of recompense."
20 And closing the volume, he gave it back to the attendant and sat down.  And the eyes of all in the synagogue were gazing on him.  21 But he began to say to them, "Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing."  22 And all bore him witness, and marvelled at the words of grace that came from his mouth.  And they said, "Is not this Joseph's son?"

23 And he said to them, "You will surely quote me this proverb, 'Physician, cure thyself!  Whatever things we have heard of as done in Capharnaum, do here also in thy own country!"  24 But he said, "Amen I say to you, no prophet is acceptable in his own country.  25 In truth I say to you, there were many widows in Israel in the days of Elias, when heaven was shut up for three years and six months, and a great famine came over all the land; 26 and to none of them was Elias sent, but rather to a widowed woman in Sarepta of Sidon.  27 And there were many lepers in Israel in the time of Eliseus the prophet; and not one of them was cleansed, but only Naaman the Syrian."

28 And all in the synagogue, as they heard these things, were filled with wrath.  29 And they rose up and put him forth out of the town, and led him to the brow of the hill, on which their town was built, that they might throw him down headlong.  30 But he, passing through their midst, went his way.

31 And he went down to Capharnaum, a town of Galilee.  And there he was teaching them on the Sabbath.  32 And they were astonished at his teaching, for his word was with authority.

The Cure of a Demoniac  33 Now in the synagogue there was a man possessed by an unclean devil, and he cried out with a loud voice, 34 saying, "Let us alone! What have we to do with thee, Jesus of Nazareth? Hast thou come to destroy us? I know thee, who thou art, the Holy One of God." 35 And Jesus rebuked him, saying, "Hold thy peace, and go out of him." And when the devil had thrown him down into the midst, he went out of him, without harming him at all. 36 And amazement came upon all, and they discussed it with one another, saying, "What is this word? For with authority and power he commands the unclean spirits, and they come out." 37 And rumor concerning him went forth into every place of the region roundabout.

Peter's Mother-in-law  38 But he rose from the synagogue and entered Simon's house.  Now Simon's mother-in-law was suffering from a great fever, and they besought him for her.  39 And standing over her he rebuked the fever, and it left her; and she rose at once and began to wait on them.

Other Miracles  40 Now when the sun was setting, all who had persons sick with various diseases brought them to him.  And he laid hands upon each of them and cured them.  41 And devils also came forth from many, crying out and saying, "Thou art the Son of God."  And he rebuked them, and did not permit them to speak, because they knew that he was the Christ.

42 Now when it was day, he went out and departed into a desert place.  And the crowds were seeking after him, and they came to him, and tried to detain him, that he might not depart from them.  43 But he said to them, "To the other towns also I must proclaim the kingdom of God, for this is why I have been sent."  44 And he was preaching in the synagogues of Galilee.



4: Deut. 8, 3.

8: Deut. 6, 13; 10, 20.

10-11: Ps. 90, 11-12.

12: Deut. 6, 16.

18-19: Isa. 61, 1 f.