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Bible Commentaries
Luke 4

Dummelow's Commentary on the BibleDummelow on the Bible

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Verses 1-44

The Temptation. Nazareth. Capernaum

1-13. The Temptation (Matthew 4:1; Mark 1:12). See on Mt.

5. Lk inverts 2nd and 3rd Temptations.

13. For a season] ’These words signify “until a favourable time.” The conflict foretold so precisely, can be none other than that of Gethsemane. “This is your hour and the power of darkness,” said Jesus at this very time (Luke 22:53), and a few moments before He had said, “The prince of this world cometh” (John 14:30)’ (Godet).

14, 15. Return to Galilee. Beginning of the Ministry proper (Matthew 4:12; Mark 1:14; John 4:1, John 4:43). See on Mt and Jn.

14. In the power of the Spirit] Christ’s miracles and preaching in Judæa (John 1:29 to John 4:42) had already made Him famous, so that when He was come unto Galilee, the Galileans received Him, having seen all the things that He did at Jerusalem at the feast (John 4:45).

16-30. Visit to Nazareth. See Matthew 13:53; Mark 6:1. It must remain doubtful whether this visit to Nazareth, which Lk places at the beginning of the Galilean ministry, is identical with that placed considerably later by Mt and Mk. In any case, Lk here makes use of an important independent source. On synagogues see on Matthew 4:23.

16. As his custom was] When living at Nazareth, Jesus had been accustomed to read the lessons as an ordinary member of the congregation. Even boys under age were allowed to do this. Stood up for to read] The Law and the Prophets, but not the Hagiographa, were read standing. The rabbis said: ’They do not read the law otherwise than standing up. Nay, it is unlawful for him that readeth to lean upon anything.’ ’A man may read out of the book of Esther either standing or sitting, but not so out of the Law.’ Jesus having stood to read, sat to expound. As He read in Hebrew, the Methurgeman, or Interpreter, translated into the vernacular Aramaic. See on Matthew 2:6

17. There was delivered.. the book (or ’a roll’)] The rolls were in the charge of the hazzan, or attendant (Luke 4:20), who handed them to the reader, and received them back when read. Sometimes the prophets formed a single roll, sometimes (as here) they were divided into books.

18. From Isaiah 61:1-2, with one clause ’to set at liberty them that are bruised’ inserted from Isaiah 58:6, LXX. This passage, in which the prophet declares to the exiles in Babylon their approaching deliverance, is now read in Jewish synagogues on the Day of Atonement, and may so have been read even at that time. The reading was very short (two verses only), because a sermon was to follow. When there was no sermon, the reading was made considerably longer.

The Spirit of the Lord, etc.] In Isaiah this is a soliloquy of the Righteous Servant of Jehovah, whom our Lord identifies with Himself. The Jews generally regarded it as a soliloquy of the prophet himself. He hath anointed me] viz. at My baptism. He hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted] RV omits.

To preach deliverance] RV ’to proclaim release to the captives.’ The original words have reference to the release of the Jewish captives from Babylon. Jesus applies them to the release of sinners from the guilt and bondage of sin, through His ministry. The blind] Spiritual blindness is here chiefly in view. To set at liberty them that are bruised] From Isaiah 58:6. Our Lord purposely inserted these words in the passage read according to a common custom. The rabbis said, ’The reader of the prophet may skip from one text to another, but he may not skip from prophet to prophet, but in the twelve (minor) prophets it is lawful.’

19. To preach the acceptable year of the Lord] In Isaiah this is the year of the return, but Jesus applies it to His earthly ministry. It is not to be inferred from this that Christ’s ministry lasted only a year.

21. This day is this scripture, etc.] “With the emphatic self-assertion of this sermon, cp. the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7).

22. Bare him witness] i.e. declared that the report of His power as a preacher was not exaggerated.

And they said] or, rather, ’but they said,’ according to the Heb. idiom, which has only one word for ’and’ and ’but.’ Is not this Joseph’s son?] and, therefore, not the Messiah, or a prophet, or any one great.

23. Physician, heal thyself] The defect or malady from which, in the opinion of the Nazarenes, Christ was suffering, was want of consideration among those who knew Him best, especially his fellow-townsmen. Let Him remove that defect by working such miracles as would convince them that He was a teacher sent from God, and He would then be more successful in ’healing,’ i.e. converting, others. The Nazarenes were jealous because Jesus had worked miracles at Capernaum and other places before He worked any at Nazareth. The proverb occurs frequently in rabbinical writings, ’Physician, heal thine own lameness.’ ’In a sad state is the city whose physician has the gout, and whose steward has one eye.’

24. No prophet is accepted] RV ’acceptable.’ The truth is a familiar one. We often think lightly of what is very familiar. The blessings at our doors are those we value least. Here and in Matthew 13:57, Christ’s ’own country’ is Nazareth, where He was brought up. In John 4:44 it is perhaps Judæa, where He was born. There is a curious parallel in the life of ’the heathen Christ,’ Apollonius of Tyana, who is represented as saying, ’What wonder is it, if, when I am esteemed by the rest of mankind as like a god, and by some even as a god, my own country alone until now refuses to recognise me?’ Plutarch says, ’You will find that few of the most prudent and wisest of mankind have been appreciated in their own country.’ Another ancient writer says, ’All the philosophers seem to have had a hard life in their own country.’

25-27. The vv. contain a refusal to work miracles in Nazareth. St. Matthew (Matthew 13:58) gives the reason: ’because of their unbelief.’

25. Elias] RV ’Elijah.’ Our Lord gives two instances of prophets, who, being dishonoured in their own country, went and conferred great blessings upon foreigners. Three years and six months] So also in James 5:17. This does not agree with the OT., which says that the rain returned in the third year (1 Kings 17:1; 1 Kings 18:1), but it agrees with Jewish traditional usage, which frequently introduced the number three and a half, as being half of the mystical number seven. ’Ever since the persecution under Antiochus Epiphanes, three years and a half (=42 months=1,260 days) had become the traditional duration of times of great calamity (Daniel 7:25; Daniel 12:7; Revelation 11:2-3; Revelation 12:6, Revelation 12:14; Revelation 13:5)’ (Plummer).

27. Eliseus] RV ’Elisha.’

28. They are angry with Jesus for venturing to compare Himself with the old prophets, and for rebuking them for their want of faith in Him.

29. That they might cast him down] perhaps as a preliminary to stoning Him as a blasphemer—’The place of execution was twice a man’s height. One of the witnesses throws him down,’ etc. As the local synagogues with their ’bench of three’ could not condemn to death, Plummer conjectures that this was what the Jews call the ’rebel’s beating.’ This was administered by the people without trial and on the spot, when any one was caught in what seemed to be a flagrant violation of some law or tradition (John 8:59; John 10:31; Acts 21:31-32).

30. Went his way] A mysterious restraint upon the power of His enemies is implied as in John 18:6.

31. Migration to Capernaum. See on Matthew 4:13.

31b-37. Demoniac healed in the synagogue. Mark 1:23. See on Mark 1:21.

38-41. Healing of Simon’s wife’s mother and others (Matthew 8:14; Mark 1:29). See on Mt.

42-44. Retirement to a desert place. Preaching tours (Mark 1:35). See on Matthew 4:23-25.

44. The synagogues of Galilee] The best critics read, ’the synagogues of Judæa.’ This is the only express mention by the synoptists of the Judæan ministry, but see on Matthew 23:37

Bibliographical Information
Dummelow, John. "Commentary on Luke 4". "Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/dcb/luke-4.html. 1909.
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