Bible Commentaries
Luke 3

Everett's Study Notes on the Holy ScripturesEverett's Study Notes

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Verses 1-20

The Prophetic Witness of John the Baptist (Matthew 3:1-17 , Mark 1:1-11 , John 1:19-28 ) In Luke 3:1-20 we have the prophetic testimony of John the Baptist as he receives a word from the Lord and bears witness to the prophetic fulfillment of the coming Saviour of the world saying, “all flesh shall see the salvation of God.” In his sermon, John the Baptist declares everyone a sinner and in need of baptism as an outward sign of inward repentance for his sins. John also declares that the Christ is coming, who is worthy to judge man’s sins, requiring that He Himself must be sinless.

Comparison of the Narrative Material of John the Baptist to the Other Gospels - When we understand the underlying themes of the four Gospels, it is easy to see each of these themes emphasized within their separate accounts of John the Baptist. Since Matthew’s Gospel emphasizes the testimony of the Old Testament Scriptures, he begins in Matthew 3:1-12 about how that John the Baptist is represented as the one who fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah. Mark’s Gospel emphasizes the fact that John was the first to begin preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Although Mark 1:1-8 is very similar to Matthew’s passage it gives more text about the proclamation of John the Baptist. Luke’s Gospel emphasizes the prophetic eyewitness testimonies surrounding Jesus Christ’s ministry, and reveals John as a man with a prophetic word from the Lord. Therefore, Luke 3:1-20 begins by referring to verifiable dates of the ministry of John the Baptist with his prophetic message of the coming Saviour. Finally, this parallel passage in John’s Gospel emphasizes John the Baptist’s testimony of the deity of the Lord Jesus Christ as he declares that he was send by God to reveal the Lamb of God to the world. John 1:19-28 provides the testimony of John the Baptist as one of the five witnesses declaring the deity of Jesus Christ that make up the structure of the Gospel of John.

Luke 3:1 Now in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, Pontius Pilate being governor of Judaea, and Herod being tetrarch of Galilee, and his brother Philip tetrarch of Ituraea and of the region of Trachonitis, and Lysanias the tetrarch of Abilene,

Luke 3:2 Annas and Caiaphas being the high priests, the word of God came unto John the son of Zacharias in the wilderness.

Luke 3:2 “the word of God came unto John the son of Zacharias in the wilderness” Comments Luke’s emphasis upon prophetic testimonies is easily seen in this opening statement about John the Baptist’s public ministry. While in Matthew John is introduced as preaching a message in fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy, and Mark reveals him as the one who began the preaching of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, Luke shows him as a man with a prophetic word from the Lord.

Luke 3:1-2 Comments Royal Protocol - Having lived in Africa a number of years, I have attended many functions. There is always an important protocol followed when introducing important guests at such meetings. The master of ceremonies will always introduce the most powerful political figure first, who is usually the guest of honor, and then work down. He then introduces the religious leaders and works down in the hierarchy of important. In these two verses, Luke does the same. He first introduces the Emperor of Rome, then the Roman governor over the providence of Judaea, then the elected officials over the districts of this providence who rule under the governor, then the religious leaders. Thus, Luke follows a similar protocol.

Historical Background - Note the reign of darkness during the time of Jesus. It was a time of mourning for the Jewish people, who were crying out for a Messiah to deliver them from Roman oppression. Note:

Proverbs 29:2, “When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice: but when the wicked beareth rule, the people mourn.”

At this time, the Word of God came to Zechariah as a ray of hope during this time of darkness.

Luke 3:3 And he came into all the country about Jordan, preaching the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins;

Luke 3:4-6 Old Testament Quotes in the New Testament - Luke 3:4-6 is a quote from:

Isaiah 40:3-5, “The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the LORD, make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low: and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain: And the glory of the LORD shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it.”

Luke 3:4 As it is written in the book of the words of Esaias the prophet, saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.

Luke 3:4 Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight ” - Comments Preparing the way of the Lord, making His paths straight, involves repentance. No church has ever had revival except there has been a preparation period. The Lord once spoke to me saying, “This is My house. There will be revival in My house when the sins of the flesh are destroyed.”

Illustration - The sons of Israel at Mt. Sinai prepared themselves with three days of sanctification before God’s glory came down.

Luke 3:5 Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be brought low; and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough ways shall be made smooth;

Luke 3:5 “Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be brought low” Comments This phrase is figurative of God humbling the proud in heart and of Him exalting the lowly. If we look at other passages in the Scriptures, we can easily understanding the meaning of this phrase in Luke 3:5.

James 1:9, “Let the brother of low degree rejoice in that he is exalted: But the rich, in that he is made low: because as the flower of the grass he shall pass away.”

Note a similar meaning in the prayer of Hannan in 1 Samuel 2:7.

1 Samuel 2:7, “The LORD maketh poor, and maketh rich: he bringeth low, and lifteth up.”

Luke 3:6 And all flesh shall see the salvation of God.

Luke 3:6 Scripture Reference - Note a similar verse in Isaiah 52:10, “The LORD hath made bare his holy arm in the eyes of all the nations; and all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God.”

Luke 3:7 Then said he to the multitude that came forth to be baptized of him, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come?

Luke 3:8 Bring forth therefore fruits worthy of repentance, and begin not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, That God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham.

Luke 3:9 And now also the axe is laid unto the root of the trees: every tree therefore which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.

Luke 3:9 Comments Some suggest that these trees are symbolic of the nation of Israel which God is about cut down and leave a remnant.

Luke 3:10 And the people asked him, saying, What shall we do then?

Luke 3:11 He answereth and saith unto them, He that hath two coats, let him impart to him that hath none; and he that hath meat, let him do likewise.

Luke 3:11 Comments John the Baptist’s description of sharing one’s possessions, such as the basic necessities of food and clothing, reflects the lifestyle of the early Church (Acts 4:32).

Acts 4:32, “And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul: neither said any of them that ought of the things which he possessed was his own; but they had all things common.”

Luke 3:12 Then came also publicans to be baptized, and said unto him, Master, what shall we do?

Luke 3:13 And he said unto them, Exact no more than that which is appointed you.

Luke 3:14 And the soldiers likewise demanded of him, saying, And what shall we do? And he said unto them, Do violence to no man, neither accuse any falsely; and be content with your wages.

Luke 3:12-14 Comments The Tax Collectors and Roman Soldiers Speak Up - The tax collectors and Romans soldiers were perhaps the two most despised groups among the Jews. Perhaps they questions were motivated by a conviction concerning their obvious misbehavior among society while standing among the people.

Luke 3:15 And as the people were in expectation, and all men mused in their hearts of John, whether he were the Christ, or not;

Luke 3:15 Comments Israel was looking for the Messiah to come.

Luke 3:16 John answered, saying unto them all, I indeed baptize you with water; but one mightier than I cometh, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to unloose: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire:

Luke 3:16 “he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire” Comments There are at least three views of what the phrase “baptize‚Ķwith fire” means in Matthew 3:11.

1. An Infilling of the Holy Spirit with Tongues as in Acts 2:0 - This verse probably refers to the two baptisms that believers are to receive. They first receive the Holy Spirit who comes and indwells them at the moment of salvation. There is an additional baptism that we receive, which is called “being filled with the Spirit with the evidence of speaking in tongues,” in which the Holy Spirit comes upon us. This passage in Matthew would call the first experience as being baptized with the “Holy Ghost,” and this second experience would be called the “baptism with fire.”

Or, it is possible that the entire phrase “baptized with the Holy Ghost, and with fire” may simply be referring to all of the experiences collectively of being indwelt and anointed with the Holy Spirit, with no distinction being made between each experience. This is what I think is meant here. Note:

“Take a piece of charcoal, and however much you may wash it its blackness will not disappear, but let the fire enter into it and its dark colour vanishes. So also when the sinner receives the Holy Spirit (who is from the Father and Myself, for the Father and I are one), which is the baptism of fire , all the blackness of sin is driven away, and he is made a light to the world (Matt. iii.11, v.14). As the fire in the charcoal, so I abide in My children and they in Me, and through them I make Myself manifest to the world.” [170]

[170] Sadhu Sundar Singh, At the Master’s Feet, translated by Arthur Parker (London: Fleming H. Revell Co., 1922) [on-line], accessed 26 October 2008, available from; Internet, “I The Manifestation of God’s Presence,” section 1, part 9.

2. A Baptism of a Greater Anointing A few people in Pentecostal circles preach that the baptism “with fire” is a greater anointing above and beyond the experience of being baptized in the Holy Spirit with the evidence of speaking in other tongues. However, there are no other passages in the Scriptures to support such an experience beyond the second baptism. Now, I do believe in some men of God receiving a “mantle,” just as John the Baptist received the same mantle, or anointing, that Elijah walked in. However, only a few people ever press into God and receive such great mantles, or anointings. However, I do not think that this passage is referring to these special anointings, or mantles.

3. A Baptism of Judgment - A third view by some regarding the phrase “baptism with fire” is to view it as a form of divine judgment for those who reject Jesus Christ, in contrast to the phrase “baptism with the Holy Ghost” being the blessing and promise for those who accept Jesus as their Saviour. The only place in the Holy Scriptures where a “baptism of fire” is mentioned is here in this passage in Matthew (as well as its parallel passage in Luke 3:16). This phrase is never mentioned anywhere else in the Scriptures. Almost everywhere in the Holy Bible where “fire” is mentioned, it is always in reference to judgment. However, there is one place in the book of Jeremiah where the word “fire” is referring to something other than judgment when he said that there was a “fire shut up in my bones.”

Jeremiah 20:9, “Then I said, I will not make mention of him, nor speak any more in his name. But his word was in mine heart as a burning fire shut up in my bones , and I was weary with forbearing, and I could not stay.”

In the Parable of the Ten Virgins (Matthew 25:1-13), the fire from the lamps with the oil may represent our testimonies. But, in the context of this passage in Matthew 3:7-12, John the Baptist was telling the people to receive both repentance and the Holy Spirit, or to face the judgment of God with fire (note verse 10, “and cast into the fire”). Mark's parallel passage (Mark 1:1-8) is more brief and does not emphasize judgment, so it just mentions the baptism of the Holy Spirit, but not the word “fire”:

Mark 1:8, “I indeed have baptized you with water: but he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost.”

In John's parallel passage (John 1:19-36), he is not speaking to rebuke the Pharisees when he mentions this baptism, so he only mentions the baptism of the Holy Ghost:

John 1:33, “And I knew him not: but he that sent me to baptize with water, the same said unto me, Upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending, and remaining on him, the same is he which baptizeth with the Holy Ghost.”

In the context of this passage, John the Baptist was preaching and contrasting between those who do repent and those who do not repent, between those who received the Holy Spirit and those who face the judgment and fire of Hell. John calls some trees bearing good fruit while those trees not bearing fruit will be cast into the fire. John also compares people to being either wheat or chaff that will be cast into the fire.

Therefore, some believe that the entire context of this passage reveals that everyone will either be baptized with the Holy Spirit or be immersed into the lake of fire. This immersion would be called a “baptism” in fire, which is the literal meaning of baptism. William MacDonald also believes that the baptism of fire is a baptism of judgment. He says, “When only believers were present, John said, ‘He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit’ (Mark 1:8; John 1:33). When there was a mixed multitude, especially including Pharisees, he said, ‘He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire’ (a baptism of judgment) (Matthew 3:11; Luke 3:16).” [171]

[171] William MacDonald, The Gospel According to Matthew, in Believer’s Bible Commentary, ed. Arthur Farstad (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Pub., 1995), in Libronix Digital Library System, v. 2.1c [CD-ROM] (Bellingham, WA: Libronix Corp., 2000-2004), “Introduction to the Gospels: VI: The Synoptic Question.”

Luke 3:20 Comments Josephus tells us that John the Baptist was imprisoned in the fortified castle located at Macherus, saying, “Accordingly he [John the Baptist] was sent a prisoner, out of Herod’s suspicious temper, to Macherus, the castle I before mentioned, and was there put to death.” ( Antiquities 18.5.2) A description of the fortification of Macherus is given by Josephus in Wars 7.6.1 and is believed to be located east of the Dead Sea approximately in line with Bethlehem.

Verses 1-38

Witnesses of Jesus’ Justification as the Saviour of the World (God the Father’s Calling of Jesus) In Luke 3:1 to Luke 4:30 the narrative story jumps ahead about eighteen years in the life of Jesus Christ to the time of His public appearance. This passage of Scripture testifies of how God the Father called His Son Jesus Christ as the Saviour of the World using four testimonies: the testimony of John the Baptist, of God the Father, of Jesus Christ, and of the Holy Spirit (Luke 3:1 to Luke 4:15). This passage is followed by a discourse in which Jesus Christ teaches on His calling as the Saviour of the World (Luke 4:16-30).

Outline - Here is an outline:

A. Narrative: Three Witnesses of Jesus’ Calling Luke 3:1 to Luke 4:15

B. Discourse: Jesus Declares His Calling as Saviour Luke 4:16-30

Luke 3:1 to Luke 4:15 Narrative: Four Witnesses of Jesus’ Justification Luke 3:1 to Luke 4:15 offers four witnesses of Jesus Christ’s justification: John the Baptist, God the Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit.

Outline Here is a proposed outline:

1. The Witness of John the Baptist Luke 3:1-20

2. The Witness of the Father in Baptism and Genealogy Luke 3:21-38

3. The Witness of Jesus Christ being without Sin Luke 4:1-13

Verses 21-38

The Prophetic Witness of God the Father in Baptism and Genealogy Justifying the Lord Jesus Christ (Matthew 1:1-17 ) In Luke 3:21-38 we are given the prophetic witness of God the Father speaking from Heaven, declaring Jesus as His beloved Son in whom He is pleased. This testimony is supported by Luke’s version of the genealogy of the Lord Jesus Christ, which goes back to Adam and God. In Luke 3:22 God the Father declared that Jesus Christ was His Son, in whom He is well pleased. No man had ever fully pleased God by his own merits. The Jews spent their lives under the Mosaic Law trying to please God by obeying its statues and later associated traditions. However, their own consciences told them that they had come short of pleasing God. Now God speaks from Heaven to declare Jesus Christ justified in His sight as sinless, perfectly pleasing God in every aspect of His life.

Comparison of Genealogies in Matthew and Luke - Three genealogies can be identified in the Gospel material of Matthew, Luke and John. While Matthew's genealogy reveals Jesus as the Son of David, Luke's genealogy (Luke 3:21-38) reveals Jesus as the Son of God, and John's genealogy (John 1:1-18) reveals Jesus as God. Luke’s genealogy begins with a prophetic witness of God the Father declaring Jesus as the Son of God (Luke 3:22), followed by His actual genealogy that supports this prophetic statement. While Luke’s genealogy shows Jesus as the Son of man, being born in the flesh, a title used frequently throughout the Gospels, it primarily shows Jesus as the Son of God, because it goes back to God. The genealogy of Jesus Christ given in Luke 3:23-38 leads to the fact that Jesus Christ is the Son of God to support God the Father’s statement in Luke 3:22, “and a voice came from heaven, which said, Thou art my beloved Son; in thee I am well pleased.” Jesus is the second Adam.

Jewish genealogies were public records confirming a person’s lineage. These genealogies became a prophetic witness to Jesus’ royal birth as the Saviour of the World. A quick reading of the two genealogies in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke reveal that Matthew's genealogy follows the lineage of Solomon while Luke's Gospel follows the lineage of Nathan, both sons of David. Why is this so?

The genealogy found in Luke 3:21-38 begins at Jesus and goes back to God. In Matthew, the genealogy goes forward from Abraham to Jesus. However, the two genealogies differ at the sons of David, Solomon and Nathan. There are a number of proposed reasons.

(1) A Natural Lineage and a Legal Lineage - If we look back to the writings of the early Church fathers, we find in the writings of Julius Africanus (A.D. 160 to 240) a different detailed explanation for this discrepancy. In his Epistle to Aristides, Africanus, basing his statements upon tradition, says that the two genealogies represent lineage according to nature and according to Law. He further explains by saying that Matthew gives the list of biological fathers of each offspring, while Luke gives the names of the legal fathers whenever one of them died and a second man raised up children in the name of a childless brother. He gives the example that Eli died childless, so that Jacob took his widow and raised up Eli’s offspring. This would mean that Eli was Joseph’s legal father, while Jacob, Eli’s brother, was Joseph’s biological father.

“For whereas in Israel the names of their generations were enumerated either according to nature or according to law,-- according to nature, indeed, by the succession of legitimate offspring, and according to law whenever another raised up children to the name of a brother dying childless; for because no clear hope of resurrection was yet given them, they had a representation of the future promise in a kind of mortal resurrection, with the view of perpetuating the name of one deceased;-- whereas, then, of those entered in this genealogy, some succeeded by legitimate descent as son to father, while others begotten in one family were introduced to another in name, mention is therefore made of both-- of those who were progenitors in fact, and of those who were so only in name. Thus neither of the evangelists is in error, as the one reckons by nature and the other by law. For the several generations, viz., those descending from Solomon and those from Nathan, were so intermingled by the raising up of children to the childless, and by second marriages, and the raising up of seed, that the same persons are quite justly reckoned to belong at one time to the one, and at another to the other, i.e., to their reputed or to their actual fathers. Hence it is that both these accounts are true, and come down to Joseph, with considerable intricacy indeed, but yet quite accurately.”

“But in order that what I have said may be made evident, I shall explain the interchange of the generations. If we reckon the generations from David through Solomon, Matthan is found to be the third from the end, who begat Jacob the father of Joseph. But if, with Luke, we reckon them from Nathan the son of David, in like manner the third from the end is Melchi, whose son was Heli the father of Joseph. For Joseph was the son of Heli, the son of Melchi. As Joseph, therefore, is the object proposed to us, we have to show how it is that each is represented as his father, both Jacob as descending from Solomon, and Heli as descending from Nathan: first, how these two, Jacob and Heli, were brothers; and then also how the fathers of these, Matthan and Melchi, being of different families, are shown to be the grandfathers of Joseph. Well, then, Matthan and Melchi, having taken the same woman to wife in succession, begat children who were uterine brothers, as the law did not prevent a widow, whether such by divorce or by the death of her husband, from marrying another. By Estha, then--for such is her name according to tradition--Matthan first, the descendant of Solomon, begets Jacob; and on Matthan's death, Melchi, who traces his descent back to Nathan, being of the same tribe but of another family, having married her, as has been already said, had a son Heli. Thus, then, we shall find Jacob and Heli uterine brothers, though of different families. And of these, the one Jacob having taken the wife of his brother Heli, who died childless, begat by her the third, Joseph--his son by nature and by account. Whence also it is written, ‘And Jacob begat Joseph.’ But according to law he was the son of Heli, for Jacob his brother raised up seed to him. Wherefore also the genealogy deduced through him will not be made void, which the Evangelist Matthew in his enumeration gives thus: ‘And Jacob begat Joseph.’ But Luke, on the other hand, says, ‘Who was the son, as was supposed (for this, too, he adds), of Joseph, the son of Heli, the son of Metchi.’ For it was not possible more distinctly to state the generation according to law; and thus in this mode of generation he has entirely omitted the word ‘begat’ to the very end, carrying back the genealogy by way of conclusion to Adam and to God.” ( Epistle to Aristides 2-3 [ ANF 6]; see also in Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History 1.7.5-10)

We also find a lengthy discussion by John of Damascus regarding the distinctions between these two genealogies along a similar explanation.

“But that Joseph is descended from the tribe of David is expressly demonstrated by Matthew and Luke, the most holy evangelists. But Matthew derives Joseph from David through Solomon, while Luke does so through Nathan; while over the holy Virgin's origin both pass in silence. One ought to remember that it was not the custom of the Hebrews nor of the divine Scripture to give genealogies of women; and the law was to prevent one tribe seeking wives from another. And so since Joseph was descended from the tribe of David and was a just man (for this the divine Gospel testifies), he would not have espoused the holy Virgin contrary to the law; he would not have taken her unless she had been of the same tribe. It was sufficient, therefore, to demonstrate the descent of Joseph. One ought also to observe this, that the law was that when a man died without seed, this man’s brother should take to wife the wife of the dead man and raise up seed to his brother. The offspring, therefore, belonged by nature to the second, that is, to him that begat it, but by law to the dead. Born then of the line of Nathan, the son of David, Levi begat Melchi and Panther: Panther begat Barpanther, so called. This Barpanther begat Joachim: Joachim begat the holy Mother of God. And of the line of Solomon, the son of David, Mathan had a wife of whom he begat Jacob. Now on the death of Mathan, Melchi, of the tribe of Nathan, the son of Levi and brother of Panther, married the wife of Mathan, Jacob's mother, of whom he begat Heli. Therefore Jacob and Hell became brothers on tile mother's side, Jacob being of the tribe of Solomon and Heli of the tribe of Nathan. Then Heli of the tribe of Nathan died childless, and Jacob his brother, of the tribe of Solomon, took his wife and raised up seed to his brother and begat Joseph. Joseph, therefore, is by nature the son of Jacob, of the line of Solomon, but by law he is the son of Hell of the line of Nathan. Joachim then took to wife that revered and praiseworthy woman, Anna. But just as the earlier Anna, who was barren, bore Samuel by prayer and by promise, so also this Anna by supplication and promise from God bare the Mother of God in order that she might not even in this be behind the matrons of fame. Accordingly it was grace (for this is the interpretation of Anna) that bore the lady: (for she became truly the Lady of all created things in becoming the Mother of the Creator)” ( An Exact Exposition of the Orthodox 4.14) ( NPF2 9)

(2) Joseph’s Lineage and Mary’s Lineage - Modern scholars speculate that the Gospel of Matthew gives Joseph's lineage, while the Gospel of Luke gives Mary's lineage. Therefore, both Joseph and Mary would be descendents of David, and thus, they both would qualify as someone from whom the Messiah could come forth. Note also that Matthew 1:16 seems to indicate that Matthew is showing Joseph's lineage and Luke 3:23 indicates that Luke shows Mary's lineage.

Matthew 1:16, “And Jacob begat Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ.”

Luke 3:23, “And Jesus himself began to be about thirty years of age, being (as was supposed) the son of Joseph, which was the son of Heli,”

Another reason to believe that Matthew's genealogy represents Joseph is the fact that Matthew tells the birth of Jesus from Joseph's eyes, while Luke tells the birth of Jesus from the eyes of Mary. An additional need for two genealogies for our Savior is to show that Jesus was a biological descendent of King David through Mary, which would appeal to the Gentiles, but Jesus was “legally” the son of Joseph by Jewish law, and His Messiahship would have been contested by some Jews had Jesus not been a “legal” descendent of the Davidic lineage. John Lightfoot comments that Luke’s Gospel reveals Jesus Christ as the “seed of woman,” while Matthew’s Gospel reveals Him as the “Son of David.” [172] Benny Hinn notes that it is an insult in the Hebrew culture to mention the name of the wife before the husband, thus Joseph is named in Luke’s Gospel rather than Mary. [173]

[172] John Lightfoot, Horae Hebraicae et Talmudicae: Hebrew and Talmudical Exercitations Upon the Gospels, the Acts, Some Chapters of St. Paul’s Epistle to the Romans and the First Epistle to the Corinthians, vol. 2, ed. Robert Gandell (Oxford: The University Press, 1859), 15.

[173] Benny Hinn, “Fire Conference,” Miracle Center Cathedral, Kampala, Uganda, 5-6 June 2009.

The Importance of Genealogies in Hebrew Culture - Genealogies were very important to the Israelites in order to trace their Jewish roots. This is verified in the following Old Testament passages:

Ezra 2:62, “These sought their register among those that were reckoned by genealogy, but they were not found: therefore were they, as polluted, put from the priesthood.”

Ezra 8:3, “Of the sons of Shechaniah, of the sons of Pharosh; Zechariah: and with him were reckoned by genealogy of the males an hundred and fifty.”

Nehemiah 7:5, “And my God put into mine heart to gather together the nobles, and the rulers, and the people, that they might be reckoned by genealogy. And I found a register of the genealogy of them which came up at the first, and found written therein,”

Nehemiah 7:64, “These sought their register among those that were reckoned by genealogy, but it was not found: therefore were they, as polluted, put from the priesthood.”

The fact that Matthew would be able to trace Jesus’ genealogy back to Abraham testifies to the fact that the Jews kept ancient records of their ancestry. This is confirmed when Paul declares himself to be of the tribe of Benjamin (Romans 11:1, Philippians 3:5).

Romans 11:1, “I say then, Hath God cast away his people? God forbid. For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin.”

Philippians 3:5, “Circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee;”

Josephus tells us that there were indeed public tablets of Jewish ancestry. In his opening paragraph of his autobiography, he goes to great length to defend his Jewish heritage. He closes by saying:

“Thus have I set down the genealogy of my family as I have found it described in the public records, and so bid adieu to those who calumniate me [as of a lower original].” ( The Life of Flavius Josephus 1)

Josephus also tells us of the painstaking care that the Jews have taken to keep records as old as two thousand years of their ancestry. All Jews of the Diaspora kept accurate records, which were sent to Jerusalem for safekeeping.

“For our forefathers did not only appoint the best of these priests, and those that attended upon the Divine worship, for that design from the beginning, but made provision that the stock of the priests should continue unmixed and pure; for he who is partaker of the priesthood must propagate of a wife of the same nation, without having any regard to money, or any other dignities; but he is to make a scrutiny, and take his wife's genealogy from the ancient tables, and procure many witnesses to it. And this is our practice not only in Judea, but wheresoever any body of men of our nation do live; and even there an exact catalogue of our priests' marriages is kept; I mean at Egypt and at Babylon, or in any other place of the rest of the habitable earth, whithersoever our priests are scattered; for they send to Jerusalem the ancient names of their parents in writing, as well as those of their remoter ancestors, and signify who are the witnesses also. But if any war falls out, such as have fallen out a great many of them already, when Antiochus Epiphanes made an invasion upon our country, as also when Pompey the Great and Quintilius Varus did so also, and principally in the wars that have happened in our own times, those priests that survive them compose new tables of genealogy out of the old records, and examine the circumstances of the women that remain; for still they do not admit of those that have been captives, as suspecting that they had conversation with some foreigners. But what is the strongest argument of our exact management in this matter is what I am now going to say, that we have the names of our high priests from father to son set down in our records for the interval of two thousand years; and if any of these have been transgressors of these rules, they are prohibited to present themselves at the altar, or to be partakers of any other of our purifications; and this is justly, or rather necessarily done, because every one is not permitted of his own accord to be a writer, nor is there any disagreement in what is written; they being only prophets that have written the original and earliest accounts of things as they learned them of God himself by inspiration; and others have written what hath happened in their own times, and that in a very distinct manner also.” ( Against Apion 1.7)

Eusebius (A.D. 260 to 340), the ancient church historian, testifies to the Jewish tradition of keeping accurate records of their ancestry.

“But as there had been kept in the archives up to that time the genealogies of the Hebrews as well as of those who traced their lineage back to proselytes, such as Achior the Ammonite and Ruth the Moabitess, and to those who were mingled with the Israelites and came out of Egypt with them, Herod, inasmuch as the lineage of the Israelites contributed nothing to his advantage, and since he was goaded with the consciousness of his own ignoble extraction, burned all the genealogical records, thinking that he might appear of noble origin if no one else were able, from the public registers, to trace back his lineage to the patriarchs or proselytes and to those mingled with them, who were called Georae. A few of the careful, however, having obtained private records of their own, either by remembering the names or by getting them in some other way from the registers, pride themselves on preserving the memory of their noble extraction. Among these are those already mentioned, called Desposyni, on account of their connection with the family of the Saviour. Coming from Nazara and Cochaba, villages of Judea, into other parts of the world, they drew the aforesaid genealogy from memory and from the book of daily records as faithfully as possible.” ( Ecclesiastical History 1.7.13-14)

Unfortunately, these ancient records no longer exist today, having been destroyed in the years past. Matthew and Luke clearly used these ancient tablets in writing their genealogies of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Regarding the genealogies of Matthew 1:1-17 and Luke 3:21-38, it becomes apparent that both of them were recorded in retrospect of Christ’s appearance on earth. That is, these particular genealogies were not prepared in anticipation of revealing the Messiah, although we know that general Jewish genealogies were kept. The fact that many of the names of individuals in each of these genealogies are unknown and obscure is evidence that no scholar had an accurate idea of who the Messiah would be nor when He would appear.

It is true that God did reveal to the Jews that the Messiah would be of the stock of Abraham and of the royal lineage of King David. But other than that, no one knew where or when He would appear. This fact is clearly reflected within both genealogies. Yet, in the midst of this obscure list of names is revealed the divine intervention of God in the affairs of mankind. God knew all along which lineage that His Son would come from as the seed of man. [174]

[174] Robert Rendall, History, Prophecy and God (London, 1954), 61; in F. F. Bruce, The Books and the Parchments (Old Tappan, New Jersey: Fleming H. Revell Company, 1963), 83.

Therefore, Jesus Christ is seen as a part of the Jewish nation in the book of Matthew, bone of their bone and flesh of their flesh. However, the book of Luke reveals that Jesus came not for the Jew only, but for all of mankind, having taken upon Himself the likeness of Adam.

Luke 3:21 Now when all the people were baptized, it came to pass, that Jesus also being baptized, and praying, the heaven was opened,

Luke 3:21 Comments - The Synoptic Gospels begin recording Jesus' ministry after the death of John the Baptist, while John’s Gospel begins with the first days of His earthly ministry.

Matthew 4:12, “Now when Jesus had heard that John was cast into prison, he departed into Galilee;”

Mark 1:14, “Now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God,”

Luke 3:19-21, “But Herod the tetrarch, being reproved by him for Herodias his brother Philip's wife, and for all the evils which Herod had done, Added yet this above all, that he shut up John in prison. Now when all the people were baptized, it came to pass, that Jesus also being baptized, and praying, the heaven was opened,”

Matthew 4:17 tells us that this particular event marks the beginning of Jesus' preaching ministry.

Matthew 4:17, “From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

Thus, the reason the Synoptic Gospels begin at John's death is because this is also when Jesus began to preach and to teach publicly.

We know from a study of the Gospel of John that the imprisonment of John the Baptist took place between the First (John 2:13) and Second Passover (John 6:4). Therefore, there was up to a year difference between the time when Jesus was baptized and when He began His public ministry. The Synoptic Gospels tell us that Jesus began His public ministry at John's death, although the Gospel of John gives us testimony of earlier miracles in Jesus’ ministry. Why would Jesus wait up to a year to go public? Perhaps an answer lies in the suggestion that Jesus respected the ministry of John the Baptist so that He did not make a public display until John’s ministry had come to an end. It is interesting to see how God never seems to be in a hurry.

Regarding Jesus’ respect for John the Baptist’s public ministry, I suggest this reason for Jesus waiting until John’s death to go public because of a careful study of the lives and ministries of some of the apostles both within and outside of the Scriptures. This study reveals such an attitude between the apostles themselves. There was a tremendous respect and reverence for one another’s ministry and hesitancy to overlay the other’s work, lest one gain undue credit above the other. The apostles may have learned this respect for one another as a result of observing Jesus’ behavior towards John the Baptist.

Luke 3:22 And the Holy Ghost descended in a bodily shape like a dove upon him, and a voice came from heaven, which said, Thou art my beloved Son; in thee I am well pleased.

Luke 3:22 “Thou art my beloved Son” Comments - The genealogy that immediately follows traces Jesus back as truly the Son of God in Luke 3:28.

Luke 3:22 Comments In Luke 3:22 God the Father declared that Jesus Christ was His Son, in whom He is well pleased. No man had ever fully pleased God by his own merits. The Jews spent their lives under the Mosaic Law trying to please God by obeying its statues and later associated traditions. However, their own consciences told them that they had come short of pleasing God. Now God speaks from Heaven to declare Jesus Christ justified in His sight as sinless, perfectly pleasing God in every aspect of His life.

Luke 3:21-22 Comments The Father’s Testimony of Jesus’ Calling In Luke 3:21-22 God the Father bears witness of Jesus’ calling by speaking from Heaven. Unlike the other Gospels, Luke’s version of Jesus’ water baptism places its entire emphasis upon the Father’s testimony from Heaven.

Comments God Speaks from Heaven to Men - The voice of God the Father spoke from Heaven to mankind on a number of occasions. God spoke to King Nebuchadnezzar when he took his mind from him for a season (Daniel 4:31). God spoke from Heaven at the water baptism of His Son Jesus Christ (Matthew 3:17, Mark 1:11, Luke 3:22). God spoke to the disciples on the Mount of Transfiguration (Matthew 17:5, Mark 9:7, Luke 9:35-36, 2 Peter 1:17-18). God spoke to Jesus when He rode into Jerusalem before His Passion (John 12:28-29). Jesus spoke to Paul from Heaven on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:3-7).

Luke 3:23 And Jesus himself began to be about thirty years of age, being (as was supposed) the son of Joseph, which was the son of Heli,

Luke 3:23 “And Jesus himself began to be about thirty years of age” Comments - Why would Luke use the phrase “about thirty years of age”? This is because in many ancient cultures, as well as lesser-developed societies today, the day of one’s birth is not recorded. Rather, a person knows his date of birth by the year in which a significant event took place within his culture. Luke tells us that the Savior’s birth took place during the reign of Herod, king of Judea.

Luke 1:5, “There was in the days of Herod, the king of Judaea, a certain priest named Zacharias, of the course of Abia: and his wife was of the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elisabeth.”

What was significant about the age of thirty for Jesus Christ to begin His earthly ministry? We do know that according to the Mosaic Law, a priest could not enter his office until the age of thirty (see Numbers 4:1-49). Although he was born of the lineage of Aaron or of the tribe of Levite, he could not take this office until he fulfilled a certain age.

Numbers 4:3, “From thirty years old and upward even until fifty years old, all that enter into the host, to do the work in the tabernacle of the congregation.”

We see that Ezekiel probably received his commission at the age of thirty (see Ezekiel 1:1). This was because he served as a priest to the children of Israel who were in exile.

Ezekiel 1:1, “Now it came to pass in the thirtieth year, in the fourth month, in the fifth day of the month, as I was among the captives by the river of Chebar, that the heavens were opened, and I saw visions of God.”

David was thirty years old when he began to reign as king over Judah. He was the only king over Israel who ever took the ephod and stood in the place of a priest.

2 Samuel 5:4, “David was thirty years old when he began to reign, and he reigned forty years.”

The age of thirty was significant in the fact that in Jewish culture, a man was qualified to enter the offices of a priest or leader of his community. Before this age, he was looked upon as a youth. Therefore, Jesus would not have been able to minister as an adult and community leader before the age of thirty, but rather, He would have been looked upon as a youth.

Luke 3:36 Comments - In the genealogy of Genesis 11:10-32, Cainan is not mentioned.

Genesis 11:10-12, “These are the generations of Shem: Shem was an hundred years old, and begat Arphaxad two years after the flood: And Shem lived after he begat Arphaxad five hundred years, and begat sons and daughters. And Arphaxad lived five and thirty years, and begat Salah:”

Note: Genesis 10:24, “Arphaxad began Saalah, who begat Heber.”

Note: Luke 4:35-36, “Arphaxad begat Cainan, who begat Sala, who begat Heber.”

Luke 3:35-36 Comments The Genealogy of Shem - The genealogy of Shem to Phalec (Old Testament - Peleg) is also given in Genesis 10:21-31.

Luke 3:38 Comments The genealogy of Jesus Christ given in Luke 3:23-38 leads to the fact that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and supports God the Father’s statement in Luke 3:22, “and a voice came from heaven, which said, Thou art my beloved Son; in thee I am well pleased.”

Luke 3:36-38 Comments The Genealogy of Noah - The genealogy of God to Noah is also given in Genesis 5:1-32.

Bibliographical Information
Everett, Gary H. "Commentary on Luke 3". Everett's Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures. 2013.