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Wednesday, September 27th, 2023
the Week of Proper 20 / Ordinary 25
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Bible Commentaries
Luke 4

The Expositor's Greek TestamentExpositor's Greek Testament

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Verse 1

Luke 4:1 . δέ : introducing a new theme, closely connected, however, with the baptism, as appears from ἀπὸ τοῦ Ἰορδάνου , the genealogy being treated as a parenthesis. πλήρης Πνεύματος Ἁ ., full of the Spirit, who descended upon Him at the Jordan, and conceived of as abiding on Him and in Him. This phrase is adopted by Lk. to exclude the possibility of evil thoughts in Jesus: no room for them; first example of such editorial solicitude. ὑπέστρεψεν ἀ . τ . Ἰ . Hahn takes this as meaning that Jesus left the Jordan with the intention of returning immediately to Galilee, so that His retirement into the desert was the result of a change of purpose brought about by the influence of the Spirit. The words do not in themselves convey this sense, and the idea is intrinsically unlikely. Retirement for reflection after the baptism was likely to be the first impulse of Jesus. Vide on Mt. ἤγετο : imperfect, implying a continuous process. ἐν τῷ Πν ., in the spirit, suggesting voluntary movement, and excluding the idea of compulsory action of the Spirit on an unwilling subject that might be suggested by the phrases of Mt. and Mk. Vide notes there. ἐν τῇ ἐρ .: this reading is more suitable to the continued movement implied in ἤγετο than εἰς τὴν ἐ . of T.R.

Verses 1-13

Luke 4:1-13 . The Temptation (Matthew 4:1-11 , Mark 1:12-13 ). Lk.’s account of the temptation resembles Mt.’s so closely as to suggest a common source. Yet there are points of difference of which a not improbable explanation is editorial solicitude to prevent wrong impressions, and ensure edification in connection with perusal of a narrative relating to a delicate subject: the temptation of the Holy Jesus by the unholy adversary. This solicitude might of course have stamped itself on the source Lk. uses, but it seems preferable to ascribe it to himself.

Verse 2

Luke 4:2 . ἡμέρας τεσσ .: this is to be taken along with ἤγετο . Jesus wandered about in the desert all that time; the wandering the external index of the absorbing meditation within (Godet). πειραζόμενος : Lk. refers to the temptation participially, as a mere incident of that forty days’ experience, in marked contrast to Mt., who represents temptation as the aim of the retirement ( πειρασθῆναι ); again guarding against wrong impressions, yet at the same time true to the fact. The present tense of the participle implies that temptation, though incidental, was continuous, going on with increasing intensity all the time. οὐκ ἔφαγεν οὐδὲν implies absolute abstinence, suggestive of intense preoccupation. There was nothing there to eat, but also no inclination on the part of Jesus.

Verses 3-4

Luke 4:3-4 . First temptation . τῷ λίθῳ τ .: possibly the stone bore a certain resemblance to a loaf. Vide Farrar’s note (C. G. T.), in which reference is made to Stanley’s account ( Sinai and Palestine , p. 154) of “Elijah’s melons” found on Mount Carmel, as a sample of the crystallisations found in limestone formations.

Verse 4

Luke 4:4 . καὶ ἀπεκρίθη , etc.: the answer of Jesus as given by Lk., according to the reading of [42] [43] [44] , was limited to the first part of the oracle: man shall not live by bread only; naturally suggesting a contrast between physical bread and the higher food of the soul on which Jesus had been feeding (J. Weiss in Meyer).

[42] Codex Sinaiticus (sæc. iv.), now at St. Petersburg, published in facsimile type by its discoverer, Tischendorf, in 1862.

[43] Codex Vaticanus (sæc. iv.), published in photographic facsimile in 1889 under the care of the Abbate Cozza-Luzi.

[44] Codex Regius--eighth century, represents an ancient text, and is often in agreement with א and B.

Verses 5-8

Luke 4:5-8 . Second temptation . Mt.’s third. καὶ ἀναγαγὼν , without the added εἰς ὄρος ὑψ . of T.R., is an expression Lk. might very well use to obviate the objection: where is the mountain so high that from its summit you could see the whole earth? He might prefer to leave the matter vague = taking Him up who knows how high! τῆς οἰκουμένης : for Mt.’s τοῦ κόσμου , as in Luke 2:1 . ἐν στιγμῇ χ ., in a point or moment of time ( στιγμὴ from στίζω , to prick, whence στίγματα , Galatians 6:17 , here only in N. T.).

Verse 6

Luke 4:6 . ἐξουσίαν , authority. Vide Acts 1:7-8 , where this word and δύναμιν occur, the one signifying authority, the other spiritual power . ὅτι ἐμοὶ , etc.: this clause, not in Mt., is probably another instance of Lk.’s editorial solicitude; added to guard against the notion of a rival God with independent possessions and power From the Jewish point of view, it is true, Satan might quite well say this (J.Weiss-Meyer).

Verse 7

Luke 4:7 . σὺ , emphatic; Satan hopes that Jesus has been dazzled by the splendid prospect and promise: Thou all Thine ( ἔσται σοῦ πᾶσα ).

Verse 8

Luke 4:8 . ὕπαγε Σατανᾶ is no part of the true text, imported from Mt.; suitable there, not here, as another temptation follows.

Verses 9-13

Luke 4:9-13 . Third temptation . Mt.’s second. Ἱερουσαλήμ , instead of Mt.’s ἁγίαν πόλιν . ἐντεῦθεν , added by Lk., helping to bring out the situation, suggesting the plunge down from the giddy height.

Verse 10

Luke 4:10-11 give Satan’s quotation much as in Mt., with τοῦ διαφυλάξαι σε added from the Psalm.

Verse 12

Luke 4:12 gives Christ’s reply exactly as in Mt. The nature of this reply probably explains the inversion of the order of the second and third temptations in Lk. The evangelist judged it fitting that this should be the last word, construing it as an interdict against tempting Jesus the Lord . Lk.’s version of the temptation is characterised throughout by careful restriction of the devil’s power ( vide Luke 4:1 ; Luke 4:6 ). The inversion of the last two temptations is due to the same cause. The old idea of Schleiermacher that the way to Jerusalem lay over the mountains is paltry. It is to be noted that Mt.’s connecting particles ( τότε , πάλιν ) imply sequence more than Lk.’s ( καὶ , δὲ ). On the general import of the temptation vide on Mt.

Verse 13

Luke 4:13 . πάντα π ., every kind of temptation. ἄχρι καιροῦ : implying that the same sort of temptations recurred in the experience of Jesus.

Verse 14

Luke 4:14 . ὑπέστρεψεν , as in Luke 4:1 , frequently used by Lk. ἐν τῇ δυνάμει τ . Π ., in the power of the Spirit; still as full of the Spirit as at the baptism. Spiritual power not weakened by temptation, rather strengthened: post victoriam corroboratus , Bengel. φήμη (here and in Matthew 9:26 ), report, caused by the exercise of the δύναμις , implying a ministry of which no details are here given (so Schanz, Godet, J. Weiss, etc.). Meyer thinks of the fame of the Man who had been baptised with remarkable accompaniments; Hahn of the altered transfigured appearance of Jesus.

Verses 14-15

Luke 4:14-15 . Return to Galilee ( cf. Mark 1:14 ; Mark 1:28 ; Mark 1:39 ).

Verse 15

Luke 4:15 . ἐδίδασκεν : summary reference to Christ’s preaching ministry in the Galilean synagogues. αὐτῶν refers to Γαλιλαίαν , Luke 4:14 , and means the Galileans; construction ad sensum . δοξαζόμενος : equally summary statement of the result general admiration. Lk. is hurrying on to the following story, which, though not the first incident in the Galilean ministry (Luke 4:14-15 imply the contrary), is the first he wishes to narrate in detail. He wishes it to serve as the frontispiece of his Gospel, as if to say: ex primo disce omnia . The historic interest in exact sequence is here subordinated to the religious interest in impressive presentation; quite legitimate, due warning being given.

Verses 16-21

Luke 4:16-21 . κατὰ τὸ εἰωθὸς : the reference most probably is, not to the custom of Jesus as a boy during His private life, but to what He had been doing since He began His ministry. He used the synagogue as one of His chief opportunities. (So J. Weiss and Hahn against Bengel, Meyer, Godet, etc.) That Jesus attended the synagogue as a boy and youth goes without saying. ἀνέστη , stood up, the usual attitude in reading (“both sitting and standing were allowed at the reading of the Book of Esther,” Schürer, Div. II., vol. ii., p. 79); either as requested by the president or of His own accord, as a now well-known teacher.

Verses 16-30

Luke 4:16-30 . Jesus in Nazareth (Matthew 13:53-58 , Mark 6:1-6 a). Though Lk. uses an editorial discretion in the placing of this beautiful story, there need be no suspicion as to the historicity of its main features. The visit of Jesus to His native town, which had a secure place in the common tradition, would be sure to interest Lk. and create desire for further information, which might readily be obtainable from surviving Nazareans, who had been present, even from the brethren of Jesus. We may therefore seek in this frontispiece ( Programm-stück , J. Weiss) authentic reminiscences of a synagogue address of Jesus.

Verse 17

Luke 4:17 . Ἡσαίου : the second lesson, Haphtarah , was from the prophets; the first, Parashah , from the Law, which was foremost in Rabbinical esteem. Not so in the mind of Jesus. The prophets had the first place in His thoughts, though without prejudice to the Law. No more congenial book than Isaiah (second part especially) could have been placed in His hand. Within the Law He seems to have specially loved Deuteronomy, prophetic in spirit (vide the temptation ). εὗρε τόπον : by choice, or in due course, uncertain which; does not greatly matter. The choice would be characteristic, the order of the day providential as giving Jesus just the text He would delight to speak from. The Law was read continuously, the prophets by free selection (Holtz., H. C.).

Verses 18-19

Luke 4:18-19 contain the text, Isaiah 61:1-2 , free reproduction of the Sept [45] , which freely reproduces the Hebrew, which probably was first read, then turned into Aramaean, then preached on by Jesus, that day. It may have been read from an Aramaean version. Most notable in the quotation is the point at which it stops. In Isaiah after the “acceptable year” comes the “day of vengeance”. The clause referring to the latter is omitted. ἀποστεῖλαι τεθραυσμένους ἐν ἀφέσει (Luke 4:19 ) is imported (by Lk. probably) from Isaiah 58:6 , the aim being to make the text in all respects a programme for the ministry of Jesus. Along with that, in the mind of the evangelist, goes the translation of all the categories named poor, broken-hearted, captives, blind, bruised from the political to the spiritual sphere. Legitimately, for that was involved in the declaration that the prophecy was fulfilled in Jesus.

[45] Septuagint.

Verse 20

Luke 4:20 . πτύξας , folding, ἀναπτύξας in Luke 4:17 (T. R.) = unfolding. ὑπηρέτῃ , the officer of the synagogue; cf. the use of the word in Acts 13:5 . ἀτενίζοντες , looking attentively ( ἀτενής , intent, from α and τείνω ), often in Acts, vide , e.g. , Luke 13:9 .

Verse 21

Luke 4:21 . ἤρξατο : we may take what follows either as the gist of the discourse, the theme (De Wette, Godet, Hahn), or as the very words of the opening sentence (Grotius, Bengel, Meyer, Farrar). Such a direct arresting announcement would be true to the manner of Jesus.

Verse 22

Luke 4:22 . ἐμαρτύρουν α ., bore witness to Him, not = δοξαζόμενος in Luke 4:15 ; the confession was extorted from them by Christ’s undeniable power. ἐθαύμαζον , not, admired , but, were surprised at (Hahn). λόγοις τῆς χάριτος , words of grace . Most take χάρις here not in the Pauline sense, but as denoting attractiveness in speech (German, Anmuth ), suavitas sermonis (Kypke, with examples from Greek authors, while admitting that χάριτος may be an objective genitive, “sermo de rebus suavibus et laetis”). In view of the text on which Jesus preached, and the fact that the Nazareth incident occupies the place of a frontispiece in the Gospel, the religious Pauline sense of χάρις is probably the right one = words about the grace of God whereby the prophetic oracle read was fulfilled. J. Weiss (in Meyer), while taking χάρις = grace of manner, admits that Lk. may have meant it in the other sense, as in Acts 14:3 ; Acts 20:24 . Words of grace, about grace: such was Christ’s speech, then and always that is Lk.’s idea. οὐχὶ υἱός , etc.: this fact, familiarity, neutralised the effect of all, grace of manner and the gracious message. Cf. Matthew 13:55 , Mark 6:3 .

Verses 22-30

Luke 4:22-30 . The sequel .

Verse 23

Luke 4:23 . πάντως , doubtless, of course παραβολὴν = Hebrew mashal , including proverbs as well as what we call “parables”. A proverb in this case. Ἰατρέ , etc.: the verbal meaning is plain, the point of the parable not so plain, though what follows seems to indicate it distinctly enough = do here, among us , what you have, as we hear, done in Capernaum. This would not exactly amount to a physician healing himself. We must be content with the general idea: every sensible benefactor begins in his immediate surroundings. There is probably a touch of scepticism in the words = we will not believe the reports of your great deeds, unless you do such things here (Hahn). For similar proverbs in other tongues, vide Grotius and Wetstein. The reference to things done in Capernaum implies an antecedent ministry there.

Verse 24

Luke 4:24 . Ἀμὴν : solemnly introducing another proverb given in Mt. and Mk. (Matthew 13:57 , Mark 6:4 ) in slightly varied form. δεκτός ( vide Luke 4:19 , also Acts 10:35 ), acceptable, a Pauline word (2 Corinthians 6:2 , Philippians 4:18 ).

Verse 25

Luke 4:25 . This verse begins, like Luke 4:24 , with a solemn asseveration. It contains the proper answer to Luke 4:23 . It has been suggested (J. Weiss) that Luke 4:22 ; Luke 4:24 have been interpolated from Mark 6:1-6 in the source Lk. here used. ἔτη τρία κ . μ . ἕξ , three years and six months. The reference is to 1 Kings 17:1 ; 1 Kings 18:1 , where three years are mentioned. The recurrence of the same number, three and a half years, in James 5:17 seems to point to a traditional estimate of the period of drought, three and a half, the half of seven, the number symbolic of misfortune (Daniel 12:7 ).

Verse 26

Luke 4:26 . Σάρεπτα , a village lying between Tyre and Sidon = modern Surafend .

Verse 27

Luke 4:27 . ὁ Σύρος . Naaman and the widow of Sarepta both Gentiles: these references savouring of universalism were welcome to Lk., but there is no reason to suspect that he put them into Christ’s mouth. Jesus might have so spoken ( vide Matthew 8:11 ).

Verses 28-29

Luke 4:28-29 . Unsympathetic from the first, the Nazareans, stung by these O. T. references, become indignant. Pagans , not to speak of Capernaum people, better than we: away with Him! out of the synagogue, nay, out of the town ( ἔξω τῆς πόλεως ). ἕως ὀφρύος τ . ὄ ., etc., to the eyebrow ( supercilium , here only in N. T.) of the hill on which the city was built, implying an elevated point but not necessarily the highest ridge. Kypke remarks: “non summum montis cacumen, sed minor aliquis tumulus sive clivus intelligitur, qui cum monte cohaeret, metaphora a superciliis oculorum desumta, quae in fronte quidem eminent, ipso tamen vertice inferiora sunt”. Nazareth now lies in a cup, built close up to the hill surrounding. Perhaps then it went further up. ὥστε ( εἰς τὸ , T.R.) with infinitive indicating intention and tendency, happily not result.

Verse 30

Luke 4:30 . αὐτὸς δὲ , but He , emphatic, suggesting a contrast: they infuriated, He calm and self-possessed. διελθὼν : no miracle intended, but only the marvel of the power always exerted by a tranquil spirit and firm will over human passions.

Verses 31-37

Luke 4:31-37 . In Capernaum; the demoniac (Mark 1:21-28 ). κατῆλθεν εἰς Κ . He went down from Nazareth , not from heaven , as suggested in Marcion’s Gospel, which began here: “Anno quinto-decimo principatus Tiberiani Deum descendisse in civitatem Galilaeae Capharnaum,” Tertull. c. Marc. Luke 4:7 . πόλιν τ . Γ .: circumstantially described as it is the first mention in Lk.’s own narrative. Yet the description is vague, as if by one far off, for readers in the same position. No mention here of the lake ( vide Luke 5:1 ).

Verse 32

Luke 4:32 . I ἐν ἐξουσίᾳ : no reference to the scribes by way of contrast, as in Mk., whereby the characterisation loses much of its point.

Verse 33

Luke 4:33 . φωνῇ μεγάλῃ , added by Lk.: in Lk.’s narratives of cures two tendencies appear (1) to magnify the power displayed, and (2) to emphasise the benevolence . Neither of these is conspicuous in this narrative, though this phrase and ῥίψαν , and μηδὲν βλάψαν αὐτόν in Luke 4:35 , look in the direction of (1).

Verse 34

Luke 4:34 . ἔα : here only (not genuine in Mk., T.R.) in N. T. = ha! Vulg [46] , sine as if from ἐᾷν ; a cry of horror. Ναζαρηνέ : Lk. usually writes Ναζωραῖε . The use of this form here suggests that he has Mk.’s account lying before him.

[46] Vulgate (Jerome’s revision of old Latin version).

Verse 35

Luke 4:35 . μηδὲν before βλάψαν implies expectation of a contrary result.

Verse 36

Luke 4:36 . ὁ λόγος οὗτος refers either to the commanding word of Jesus, followed by such astounding results (“quid est hoc verbum?” Vulg [47] ), or = what is this thing? what a surprising affair! (“quid hoc rei est?” Beza, and after him Grotius, De Wette, etc.). In either case Lk.’s version at this point is altogether secondary and colourless as compared with Mk.’s, q.v.

[47] Vulgate (Jerome’s revision of old Latin version).

Verse 37

Luke 4:37 . ἦχος ( ἀκοὴ , Mk.), a sound, report; again in Luke 21:25 , Acts 2:2 = ἠχώ in classics.

Verses 38-39

Luke 4:38-39 . Peter’s mother-in-law (Matthew 8:14-15 , Mark 1:29-31 ). Σίμωνος : another anticipation. In Mk. the call of Peter and others to discipleship has been previously narrated. One wonders that Lk. does not follow his example in view of his preface, where the apostles are called eye-witnesses, ἀπʼ ἀρχῆς . ἦν συνεχομένη , etc.: Lk’.s desire to magnify the power comes clearly out here. “The analytic imperfect implies that the fever was chronic, and the verb that it was severe,” Farrar (C. G. T.). Then he calls it a great fever: whether using a technical term (fevers classed by physicians as great and small), as many think, or otherwise, as some incline to believe (Hahn, Godet, etc.), in either case taking pains to exclude the idea of a minor feverish attack.

Verse 39

Luke 4:39 . παραχρῆμα , immediately, another word having the same aim: cured at once , and perfectly; able to serve.

Verses 40-41

Luke 4:40-41 . Sabbath evening cures (Matthew 8:16-17 , Mark 1:32-34 ). δύνοντος τ . ἡ .: Lk. selects the more important part of Mk.’s dual definition of time. With sunset the Sabbath closed. δύνοντος is present participle of the late form δύνω = δύω . ἑνὶ ἑκάστῳ : laying His hands on each one , a touch peculiar to Lk., pointing, Godet thinks, to a separate source at Lk.’s command; much more certainly to Lk.’s desire to make prominent the benevolent sympathy of Jesus. Jesus did not heal en masse , but one by one, tender sympathy going out from Him in each case. Intrinsically probable, and worth noting. This trait in Lk. is in its own way as valuable as Mt.’s citation from Isaiah (Luke 8:17 ), and serves the same purpose.

Verse 41

Luke 4:41 . λέγοντα ὅτι , etc.: Lk. alone notes that the demons, in leaving their victims, bore witness in a despairing cry to the Divine Sonship of Jesus. God’s power in this Man, our power doomed. Again a tribute to the miraculous might of Jesus.

Verses 42-44

Luke 4:42-44 . Withdrawal from Capernaum (Mark 1:35-39 ). γενομένης ἡμέρας , when it was day, i.e. , when people were up and could see Jesus’ movements, and accordingly followed Him. In Mk. Jesus departed very early before dawn, when all would be in bed; a kind of flight . οἱ ὄχλοι : in Mk. Simon and those with him, other disciples. But of disciples Lk. as yet knows nothing. ἕως αὐτοῦ , to the place where He was. From the direction in which they had seen Him depart they had no difficulty in finding Him. κατεῖχον , they held Him back, from doing what He seemed inclined to do, i.e. , from leaving them, with some of their sick still unhealed.

Verse 43

Luke 4:43 . ὅτι καὶ : the purpose of Jesus is the same in Lk. as in Mk., but differently expressed, in fuller, more developed terms, to preach the good news of the Kingdom of God. Of course all must hear the news; they could not gainsay that. ἀπεστάλην , I was sent, referring to His Divine mission; in place of Mk.’s ἐξῆλθον , referring to the purpose of Jesus in leaving Capernaum. Lk.’s version, compared with Mk.’s, is secondary, and in a different tone. Mk.’s realism is replaced by decorum : what it is fitting to make Jesus do and say. Flight eliminated, and a reference to His Divine mission substituted for an apology for flight. Vide notes on Mk.

Bibliographical Information
Nicoll, William Robertson, M.A., L.L.D. "Commentary on Luke 4". The Expositor's Greek Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/egt/luke-4.html. 1897-1910.
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