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Bible Commentaries

Godet's Commentary on Selected Books

Luke 4

Verses 1-2

1 st. Luke 4:1-2.

By these words, full of the Holy Ghost, this narrative is brought into close connection with that of the baptism. The genealogy is therefore intercalated.

While the other baptized persons, after the ceremony, went away to their own homes, Jesus betook Himself into solitude. This He did not at His own prompting, as Luke gives us to understand by the expression full of the Holy Ghost, which proves that the Spirit directed Him in this, as in every other step The two other evangelists explicitly say it. Matthew, He was led up of the Spirit; Mark, still more forcibly, Immediately the Spirit driveth Him into the wilderness. Perhaps the human inclination of Jesus would have been to return to Galilee and begin at once to teach. The Spirit detains Him; and Matthew, who, in accordance with his didactic aim, in narrating the fact explains its object, says expressly: “He was led up of the Spirit... to be tempted.

The complement of the verb returned would be: from the Jordan ( ἀπό ) into Galilee ( εἰς ). But this complex government is so distributed, that the first part is found in Luke 4:1 (the ἀπό without the εἰς ), and the second in Luke 4:14 (the εἰς without the ἀπό ). The explanation of this construction is, that the temptation was an interruption in the return of Jesus from the Jordan into Galilee. The Spirit detained Him in Judaea.

The T. R. reads εἰς , “led into the wilderness;” the Alex. ἐν , “led (carried hither and thither) in the wilderness.” We might suppose that this second reading was only the result of the very natural reflection that, John being already in the desert, Jesus had not to repair thither. But, on the other hand, the received reading may easily have been imported into Luke from the two other Syn. And the prep. of rest ( ἐν ) in the Alex. better accords with the imperf. ἤγετο , was led, which denotes a continuous action.

The expression, was led by, indicates that the severe exercises of soul which Jesus experienced under the action of the Spirit absorbed Him in such a way, that the use of His faculties in regard to the external world was thereby suspended. In going into the desert, He was not impelled by a desire to accomplish any definite object; it was only, as it were, a cover for the state of intense meditation in which He was absorbed. Lost in contemplation of His personal relation to God, the full consciousness of which He had just attained, and of the consequent task it imposed upon Him in reference to Israel and the world, His heart sought to make these recent revelations wholly its own.

If tradition is to be credited, the wilderness here spoken of was the mountainous and uninhabited country bordering on the road which ascends from Jericho to Jerusalem. On the right of this road, not far from Jericho, there rises a limestone peak, exceedingly sharp and abrupt, which bears the name of Quarantania. The rocks which surround it are pierced by a number of caves. This would be the scene of the temptation. We are ignorant whether this tradition rests upon any historical fact. This locality is a continuation of the desert of Judaea, where John abode.

The words forty days may refer either to was led or to being tempted; in sense both come to the same thing, the two actions being simultaneous. According to Luke and Mark, Jesus was incessantly besieged during this whole time. Suggestions of a very different nature from the holy thoughts which usually occupied Him harassed the working of His mind. Matthew does not mention this secret action of the enemy, who was preparing for the final crisis. How can it be maintained that one of these forms of the narrative has been borrowed from the other?

The term devil, employed by Luke and Matthew, comes from διαβάλλειν , to spread reports, to slander. Mark employs the word Satan (from שָׂטָן , H8477, to oppose; Zechariah 3:1-2; Job 1:6, etc.). The first of these names is taken from the relation of this being to men; the second from his relations with God.

The possibility of the existence of moral beings of a different nature from that of man cannot be denied à priori. Now if these beings are free creatures, subject to a law of probation, as little can it be denied that this probation might issue in a fall. Lastly, since in every society of moral beings there are eminent individuals who, by virtue of their ascendency, become centres around which a host of inferior individuals group themselves, this may also be the case in this unknown spiritual domain. Keim himself says: “We regard this question of the existence of an evil power as altogether an open question for science.” This question, which is an open one from a scientific point of view, is settled in the view of faith by the testimony of the Saviour, who, in a passage in which there is not the slightest trace of accommodation to popular prejudice, John 8:44, delineates in a few graphic touches the moral position of Satan. In another passage, Luke 22:31, “ Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat; but I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not,” Jesus lifts the veil which hides from us the scenes of the invisible world; the relation which He maintains between the accuser Satan, and Himself the intercessor, implies that in His eyes this personage is no less a personal being than Himself. The part sustained by this being in the temptation of Jesus is attested by the passage, Luke 11:21-22. It was necessary that the strong man, Satan, the prince of this world, should be vanquished by his adversary, the stronger than he, in a personal conflict, for the latter to be able to set about spoiling the world, which is Satan's stronghold. Weizsäcker and Keim acknowledge an allusion in this passage to the fact of the temptation. It is this victory in single combat which makes the deliverance of every captive of Satan possible to Jesus.

Luke mentions Jesus' abstinence from food for six weeks as a fact which was only the natural consequence of His being absorbed in profound meditation. To Him, indeed, this whole time passed like a single hour; He did not even feel the pangs of hunger. This follows from the words: “And when they were ended, He afterward hungered. ” By the term νηστεύσας , having fasted, Matthew appears to give this abstinence the character of a deliberate ritual act, to make it such a fast as, among the Jews, ordinarily accompanied certain seasons devoted specially to prayer. This shade of thought is not a contradiction, but accords with the general character of the two narrations, and becomes a significant indication of their originality.

The fasts of Moses and Elijah, in similar circumstances, lasted the same time. In certain morbid conditions, which involve a more or less entire abstinence from food, a period of six weeks generally brings about a crisis, after which the demand for nourishment is renewed with extreme urgency. The exhausted body becomes a prey to a deathly sinking. Such, doubtless, was the condition of Jesus; He felt Himselt dying. It was the moment the tempter had waited for to make his decisive assault.

Verses 1-13

SECOND PART: THE ADVENT OF THE MESSIAH, Luk 3:1 to Luke 4:13 .

For eighteen years Jesus lived unknown in the seclusion of Nazareth. His fellow townsmen, recalling this period of His life, designate Him the carpenter ( Mar 6:3 ). Justin Martyr deriving the fact, doubtless, from tradition represents Jesus as making ploughs and yokes, and teaching men righteousness by these products of His peaceful toil. Beneath the veil of this life of humble toil, an inward development was accomplished, which resulted in a state of perfect receptivity for the measureless communication of the Divine Spirit. This result was attained just when Jesus reached the climacteric of human life, the age of thirty, when both soul and body enjoy the highest degree of vitality, and are fitted to become the perfect organs of a higher inspiration. The forerunner then having given the signal, Jesus left His obscurity to accomplish the task which had presented itself to Him for the first time in the temple, when He was twelve years of age, as the ideal of His life the establishment of the kingdom of God on the earth. Here begins the second phase of His existence, during which He gave forth what He had received in the first.

This transition from private life to public activity is the subject of the following part, which comprises four sections: 1. The ministry of John the Baptist ( Luk 3:1-20 ); 2. The baptism of Jesus ( Luk 3:21-22 ); 3. The genealogy ( Luk 3:23-38 ); 4. The temptation ( Luk 4:1-13 ). The corresponding part in the two other synoptics embraces only Numbers 1:2, , Numbers 1:4. We shall have no difficulty in perceiving the connection between these three sections, and the reason which induced St. Luke to intercalate the fourth.

Verses 1-13

SECOND PART: THE ADVENT OF THE MESSIAH, Luk 3:1 to Luke 4:13 .

For eighteen years Jesus lived unknown in the seclusion of Nazareth. His fellow townsmen, recalling this period of His life, designate Him the carpenter ( Mar 6:3 ). Justin Martyr deriving the fact, doubtless, from tradition represents Jesus as making ploughs and yokes, and teaching men righteousness by these products of His peaceful toil. Beneath the veil of this life of humble toil, an inward development was accomplished, which resulted in a state of perfect receptivity for the measureless communication of the Divine Spirit. This result was attained just when Jesus reached the climacteric of human life, the age of thirty, when both soul and body enjoy the highest degree of vitality, and are fitted to become the perfect organs of a higher inspiration. The forerunner then having given the signal, Jesus left His obscurity to accomplish the task which had presented itself to Him for the first time in the temple, when He was twelve years of age, as the ideal of His life the establishment of the kingdom of God on the earth. Here begins the second phase of His existence, during which He gave forth what He had received in the first.

This transition from private life to public activity is the subject of the following part, which comprises four sections: 1. The ministry of John the Baptist ( Luk 3:1-20 ); 2. The baptism of Jesus ( Luk 3:21-22 ); 3. The genealogy ( Luk 3:23-38 ); 4. The temptation ( Luk 4:1-13 ). The corresponding part in the two other synoptics embraces only Numbers 1:2, , Numbers 1:4. We shall have no difficulty in perceiving the connection between these three sections, and the reason which induced St. Luke to intercalate the fourth.

Verses 3-4

2 d. Luke 4:3-4.

First Temptation.

The text of Luke is very sober: The devil said to Him. The encounter exhibited under this form may be explained as a contact of mind with mind; but in Matthew, the expression came to Him seems to imply a bodily appearance. This, however, is not necessarily its meaning. This term may be regarded as a symbolical expression of the moral sensation experienced by Jesus at the moment when He felt the attack of this spirit so alien from His own. In this sense, the coming took place only in the spiritual sphere. Since Scripture does not mention any visible appearance of Satan, and as the angelophanies are facts the perception of which always implies a co-operation of the inner sense, the latter interpretation is more natural.

The words, if thou art, express something very different from a doubt; this if has almost the force of since: “If thou art really, as it seems...” Satan alludes to God's salutation at the baptism. M. de Pressensé is wrong in paraphrasing the words: “If thou art the Messiah.” Here, and invariably, the name Son of God refers to a personal relation, not to an office (see on Luk 4:22 ).

But what criminality would there have been in the act suggested to Jesus? It has been said that He was not allowed to use His miraculous power for His own benefit. Why not, if He was allowed to use it for the benefit of others? The moral law does not command that one should love his neighbour better than himself. It has been said that He would have acted from His own will, God not having commanded this miracle. But did God direct every act of Jesus by means of a positive command? Had not divine direction in Jesus a more spiritual character? Satan's address and the answer of Jesus put us on the right track. In saying to Him, If thou art the Son of God, Satan seeks to arouse in His heart the feeling of His divine greatness; and with what object? He wishes by this means to make Him feel more painfully the contrast between His actual destitution, consequent on His human condition, and the abundance to which His divine nature seems to give Him a right. There was indeed, especially after His baptism, an anomaly in the position of Jesus. On the one hand, He had been exalted to a distinct consciousness of His dignity as the Son of God; while, on the other, His condition as Son of man remained the same. He continued this mode of existence wholly similar to ours, and wholly dependent, in which form it was His mission to realize here below the filial life. Thence there necessarily resulted a constant temptation to elevate, by acts of power, His miserable condition to the height of His conscious Sonship. And this is the first point of attack by which Satan seeks to master His will, taking advantage for this purpose of the utter exhaustion in which he sees Him sinking.

Had Jesus yielded to this suggestion, He would have violated the conditions of that earthly existence to which, out of love to us, He had submitted, denied His title as Son of man, in order to realize before the time His condition as Son of God, retracted in some sort the act of His incarnation, and entered upon that false path which was afterwards formulated by docetism in a total or partial denial of Christ come in the flesh. Such a course would have made His humanity a mere appearance.

This is precisely what is expressed in His answer. The word of holy writ, Deuteronomy 8:3, in which He clothes His thought, is admirably adapted, both in form and substance, to this purpose: Man shall not live by bread alone. This term, man, recalls to Satan the form of existence which Jesus has accepted, and from which He cannot depart on His own responsibility.

The omission of the article ὁ before ἄνθρωπος in nine Mjj. gives this word a generic sense which suits the context. But Jesus, while thus asserting His entire acceptance of human nature, reminds Satan that man, though he be but man, is not left without divine succour. The experience of Israel in the wilderness, to which Moses' words refer, proves that the action of divine power is not limited to the ordinary nourishment of bread. God can support human existence by other material means, such as manna and quails; He can even, if He pleases, make a man live by the mere power of His will. This principle is only the application of a living monotheism to the sphere of physical life. By proclaiming it in this particular instance, Jesus declares that, in His career, no physical necessity shall ever compel Him to deny, in the name of His exalted Sonship, the humble mode of existence He adopted in making Himself man, until it shall please God Himself to transform His condition by rendering it suitable to His essence as Son of God. Although Son, He will nevertheless remain subject, subject unto the weakness even of death ( Heb 5:8 ).

The words, but by every word of God, are omitted by the Alex.; they are probably taken from Matthew. What reason could there have been for omitting them from the text of Luke? By their suppression, the answer of Jesus assumes that brief and categorical character which agrees with the situation.

The sending of the angels to minister to Jesus, which Matthew and Mark mention at the close of their narrative, proves that the expectation of Jesus was not disappointed; God sustained Him, as He had sustained Elijah in the desert in similar circumstances (1 Kings 19:0).

The first temptation refers to the person of Jesus; the second, to His work.

Verses 5-8

3 d. Luke 4:5-8.

Second Temptation.

The occasion of this fresh trial is not a physical sensation; it is an aspiration of the soul. Man, created in the image of God, aspires to reign. This instinct, the direction of which is perverted by selfishness, is none the less legitimate in its origin. It received in Israel, through the divine promises, a definite aim the supremacy of the elect people over all others; and a very precise form the Messianic hope. The patriotism of Jesus was kindled at this fire (Luke 13:34, Luk 19:41 ); and He must have known, from what He had heard from the mouth of God at His baptism, that it was He who was destined to realize this magnificent expectation. It is this prospect, open before the gaze of Jesus, of which Satan avails himself in trying to fascinate and seduce Him into a false way.

The words the devil, and into an high mountain, Luke 4:5, are omitted by the Alex. It might be supposed that this omission arises from the confusion of the two syllables ον which terminate the words αὐτόν and ὑψηλόν . But is it not easier to believe there has been an interpolation from Matthew? In this case, the complement understood to taking Him up, in Luke, might doubtless be, as in Matthew, a mountain. Still, where no complement is expressed, it is more natural to explain it as “taking Him into the air. ” It is not impossible that this difference between the two evangelists is connected with the different order in which they arrange the two last temptations. In Luke, Satan, after having taken Jesus up into the air, set Him down on a pinnacle of the temple. This order is natural.

We are asked how Jesus could be given over in this way to the disposal of Satan. Our reply is: Since the Spirit led Him into the wilderness in order that He might be tempted, it is not surprising that He should be given up for a time, body and soul, to the power of the tempter.

It is not said that Jesus really saw all the kingdoms of the earth, which would be absurd; but that Satan showed them to Him. This term may very well signify that he made them appear before the view of Jesus, in instantancous succession, by a diabolical phantasmagoria. He had seen so many great men succumb to a similar mirage, that he might well hope to prevail again by this means.

The Jewish idea of Satan's rule over this visible world, expressed in the words which two of the evangelists put into his mouth, may not be so destitute of foundation as many think. Has not Jesus endorsed it, by calling this mysterious being the prince of this world? Might not Satan, as an archangel, have had assigned to him originally as his domain the earth and the system to which it belongs? In this case, he uttered no falsehood when he said, All this power has been delivered unto me ( Luk 4:6 ). The truth of this assertion appears further from this very expression, in which he does homage to the sovereignty of God, and acknowledges himself His vassal. Neither is it necessary to see imposture in the words: And to whomsoever I will, I give it. God certainly leaves to Satan a certain use of His sovereignty and powers; he reigns over the whole extradivine sphere of human life, and has power to raise to the pinnacle of glory the man whom he favours. The majesty of such language was doubtless sustained by splendour of appearance on the part of him who used it; and if ever Satan put on his form of an angel of light ( 2Co 11:14 ), it was at this moment which decided his empire.

The condition which he attaches to the surrender of his power into the hands of Jesus, Luke 4:7, has often been presented as a snare far too coarse for it ever to have been laid by such a crafty spirit. Would not, indeed, the lowest of the Israelites have rejected such a proposal with horror? But there is a little word in the text to be taken into consideration οὖν , therefore which puts this condition in logical connection with the preceding words. It is not as an individual, it is as the representative of divine authority on this earth, that Satan here claims the homage of Jesus. The act of prostration, in the East, is practised towards every lawful superior, not in virtue of his personal character, but out of regard to the portion of divine power of which he is the depositary. For behind every power is ever seen the power of God, from whom it emanates. As man, Jesus formed part of the domain entrusted to Satan. As called to succeed him, it seemed He could only do it, in so far as Satan himself should transfer to Him the investiture of his office. The words, if thou wilt worship me, are not therefore an appeal to the ambition of Jesus; they express the condition sine quâ non laid down by the ancient Master of the world to the installation of Jesus in the Messianic sovereignty. In speaking thus, Satan deceived himself only in one point; this was, that the kingdom which was about to commence was in any respect a continuation of his own, or depended on a transmission of power from him. It would have been very different, doubtless, had Jesus proposed to realize such a conception of the Messianic kingdom as found expression in the popular prejudice of His age. The Israelitish monarchy, thus understood, would really have been only a new and transient form of the kingdom of Satan on this earth, a kingdom of external force, a kingdom of this world. But what Jesus afterwards expressed in these words, “I am a King; to this end was I born, but my kingdom is not of this world” (John 18:37; Joh 18:36 ), was already in His heart. His kingdom was the beginning of a rule of an entirely new nature; or, if this kingdom had an antecedent, it was that established by God in Zion (Psalms 2:0). Jesus had just at this very time been invested with this at the hands of the divine delegate, John the Baptist. Therefore He had nothing to ask from Satan, and consequently no homage to pay him. This refusal was a serious matter. Jesus thereby renounced all power founded upon material means and social institutions. He broke with the Messianic Jewish ideal under the received form. He confined Himself, in accomplishing the conquest of the world, to spiritual action exerted upon souls; He condemned Himself to gain them one by one, by the labour of conversion and sanctification, a gentle, unostentations progress, contemptible in the eyes of the flesh, of which the end, the visible reign, was only to appear after the lapse of centuries. Further, such an answer was a declaration of war against Satan, and on the most unfavourable conditions. Jesus condemned Himself to struggle, unaided by human power, with an adversary having at his disposal all human powers; to march with ten thousand men against a king who was coming against Him with twenty thousand ( Luk 14:31 ). Death inevitably awaited Him in this path. But He unhesitatingly accepted all this that He might remain faithful to God, from whom alone He determined to receive everything. To render homage to a being who had broken with God, would be to honour him in his guilty usurpation, to associate Himself with his rebellion.

This time again Jesus conveys His refusal in a passage of holy writ, Deuteronomy 6:13; He thereby removes every appearance of answering him on mere human authority. The Hebrew text and the LXX. merely say: “Thou shalt fear the Lord, and thou shalt serve Him. ” But it is obvious that this word serve includes adoration, and therefore the act of προσκυνεῖν , falling down in worship, by which it is expressed. The words, Get thee behind me, Satan, in Luke, are taken from Matthew; so is the for in the next sentence.

But in thus determining to establish His kingdom without any aid from material force, was not Jesus relying so much the more on a free use of the supernatural powers with which He had just been endowed, in order to overcome, by great miraculous efforts, the obstacles and dangers to be encountered in the path He had chosen? This is the point on which Satan puts Jesus to a last proof. The third temptation then refers to the use which He intends to make of divine power in the course of His Messianic career.

Verses 9-12

4 th. Luke 4:9-12.

Third Temptation.

This trial belongs to a higher sphere than that of physical or political life. It is of a purely religious character, and touches the deepest and most sacred relations of Jesus with His Father. The dignity of a son of God, with a view to which man was created, carries with it the free disposal of divine power, and of the motive forces of the universe. Does not God Himself say to His child: “Son, thou art ever with me, and all that I have is thine”? ( Luk 15:31 ). But in proportion as man is raised to this filial position, and gradually reaches divine fellowship, there arises out of this state an ever-increasing danger, that of abusing his great privilege, by changing, as an indiscreet inferior is tempted to do, this fellowship into familiarity. From this giddy height to which the grace of God has raised him, man falls, therefore, in an instant into the deepest abyss into a presumptuous use of God's gifts and abuse of His confidence. This pride is more unpardonable than that called in Scripture the pride of life. The abuse of God's help is a more serious offence than not waiting for it in faith (first temptation), or than regarding it as insufficient (second temptation).

The higher sphere to which this trial belongs is indicated by the scene of it the most sacred place, Jerusalem ( the holy city, as Matthew says) and the temple. The term πτερύγιον τοῦ ἱεροῦ , translated pinnacle of the temple, might denote the anterior extremity of the line of meeting of two inclined planes, forming the roof of the sacred edifice. But in this case, ναοῦ would have been required rather than ἱεροῦ (see Luk 1:9 ). Probably, therefore, it is some part of the court that is meant, either Solomon's Porch, which was situated on the eastern side of the temple platform, and commanded the gorge of the Kedron, or the Royal Porch, built on the south side of this platform, and from which, as Josephus says, the eye looked down into an abyss. The word πτερύγιον would denote the coping of this peristyle. Such a position is a type of the sublime height to which Satan sees Jesus raised, and whence he would have Him cast Himself down into an abyss.

The idea of this incomparable spiritual elevation is expressed by these words: If thou art a Son of God. The Alex. rightly omit the art. before the word Son. For it is a question here of the filial character, and not of the personality of the Son. “If thou art a being to whom it appertains to call God thy Father in a unique sense, do not fear to do a daring deed, and give God an opportunity to show the particular care He takes of thee.” And as Satan had observed that Jesus had twice replied to him by the word of God, he tries in his turn to avail himself of this weapon. He applies here the promise ( Psa 91:11-12 ) by an à fortiori argument: “If God has promised thus to keep the righteous, how much more His well-beloved Son!” The quotation agrees with the text of the LXX., with the exception of its omitting the words in all thy ways, which Matthew also omits; the latter omits, besides, the preceding words, to keep thee. It has been thought that this omission was made by Satan himself, who would suppress these words with a view to make the application of the passage more plausible, unduly generalizing the promise of the Psalm, which, according to the context, applies to the righteous only in so far as he walks in the ways of obedience. This is very subtle.

What was the real bearing of this temptation? With God, power is always employed in the service of goodness, of love; this is the difference between God and Satan, between divine miracle and diabolical sorcery. Now the devil in this instance aims at nothing less than making Jesus pass from one of these spheres to the other, and this in the name of that most sacred and tender element in the relationship between two beings that love each other confidence. If Jesus succumbs to the temptation by calling on the Almighty to deliver Him from a peril into which He has not been thrown in the service of goodness, He puts God in the position of either refusing His aid, and so separating His cause from His own a divorce between the Father and the Son or of setting free the exercise of His omnipotence, at least for a moment, from the control of holiness, a violation of His own nature. Either way, it would be all over with Jesus, and even, if we dare so speak, with God.

Jesus characterizes the impious nature of this suggestion as a tempting God, Luke 4:12. This term signifies putting God to the alternative either of acting in a way opposed to His plans or His nature, or of compromising the existence or safety of a person closely allied to Him. It is confidence carried to such presumption, as to become treason against the divine majesty. It has sometimes been thought that Satan wanted to induce Jesus to establish His kingdom by some miraculous demonstration, by some prodigy of personal display, which, accomplished in the view of a multitude of worshippers assembled in the temple, would have drawn to Him the homage of all Israel. But the narrative makes no allusion to any effect to be produced by this miracle. It is a question here of a whim rather than of a calculation, of divine force placed at the service of caprice rather than of a deliberate evil purpose.

For the third time, Jesus borrows the form of His reply from Scripture, and, which is remarkable, again from Deuteronomy ( Luk 6:16 ). This book, which recorded the experience of Israel during the forty years' sojourn in the desert, had perhaps been the special subject of Jesus' meditations during His own sojourn in the wilderness. The plural, ye shall not tempt, in the O. T. is changed by Jesus into the singular thou shalt not tempt. Did this change proceed from a double meaning which Jesus designedly introduced into this passage? While applying it to Himself in His relation to God, He seems, in fact, to apply it at the same time to Satan in relation to Himself; as if He meant to say: Desist, therefore, now from tempting me, thy God.

Almost all interpreters at the present day disapprove the order followed by Luke, and prefer Matthew's, who makes this last temptation the second. It seems to me, that if the explanation we have just given is just, there can be no doubt that Luke's order is preferable. The man who is no longer man, the Christ who is no longer Christ, the Son who is no longer Son, such are the three degrees of the temptation. The second might appear the most exalted and dangerous to men who had grown up in the midst of the theocracy; and it is intelligible that the tradition found in the Jewish-Christian Churches, the type of which has been preserved in the first Gospel, should have made this peculiarly Messianic temptation (the second in Luke) the crowning effort of the conflict. But in reality it was not so; the true order historically, in a moral conflict, must be that which answers to the moral essence of things.

Verse 13

5 th. Luke 4:13. Historical Conclusion.

The expression πάντα πειρασμόν does not signify all the temptation (this would require ὅλον ), but every kind of temptation. We have seen that the temptations mentioned refer, one to the person of Jesus, another to the nature of His work, the third to His use of the divine aid accorded to Him for this work; they are therefore very varied. Further, connected as they are, they form a complete cycle; and this is expressed in the term συντελέσας , having finished, fulfilled. Nevertheless Luke announces, in the conclusion of his narrative, the future return of Satan to subject Jesus to a fresh trial. If the words ἄχρι καιροῦ signified, as they are often translated, for a season, we might think that this future temptation denotes in general the trials to which Jesus would be exposed during the course of His ministry. But these words signify, until a favourable time. Satan expects, therefore, some new opportunity, just such a special occasion as the previous one. This conflict, foretold so precisely, can be none other than that of Gethsemane. “This is the hour and power of darkness,” said Jesus at that very time ( Luk 22:53 ); and a few moments before, according to John ( Joh 14:30 ), He had said. “ The prince of this world cometh.” Satan then found a new means of acting on the soul of Jesus, through the fear of suffering. Just as in the desert he thought he could dazzle this heart, that had had no experience of life, with the éclat of success and the intoxication of delight; so in Gethsemane he tried to make it swerve by the nightmare of punishment and the anguish of grief. These, indeed, are the two levers by which he succeeds in throwing men out of the path of obedience.

Luke omits here the fact mentioned by Matthew and Mark, of the approach of angels to minister to Jesus. It is no dogmatic repugnance which makes him omit it, for he mentions an instance wholly similar, Luke 22:43. Therefore he was ignorant of it; and consequently he was not acquainted with the two other narratives.

Verses 14-15

1 st. Luke 4:14-15.

The 14th verse is, as we have shown, the complement of Luke 4:1 (see Luk 4:1 ).

The verb, he returned, comprehends, according to what precedes, the two returns mentioned John 1:44; John 4:1, and even a third, understood between John 5:6. The words, in the power of the Spirit, do not refer, as many have thought, to an impulse from above, which urged Jesus to return to Galilee, but to His possession of the divine powers which He had received at His baptism, and with which He was now about to teach and act; comp. filled with the Spirit, Luke 4:1. Luke evidently means that He returned different from what He was when He left. Was this supernatural power of Jesus displayed solely in His preaching, or in miracles also already wrought at this period, though not related by Luke? Since the miracle at Cana took place, according to John, just at this time, we incline to the latter meaning, which, considering the term employed, is also the more natural. In this way, what is said of His fame, which immediately spread through all the region round about, is readily explained. Preaching alone would scarcely have been sufficient to have brought about this result. Meyer brings in here the report of the miraculous incidents of the baptism; but these probably had not been witnessed by any one save Jesus and John, and no allusion is made to them subsequently.

The 15th verse relates how, after His reputation had prepared the way for Him, He came Himself ( αὐτός ); then how they all, after hearing Him, ratified the favourable judgment which His fame had brought respecting Him ( glorified of all).

The synagogues, in which Jesus fulfilled His itinerant ministry, were places of assembly existing from the return of the captivity, perhaps even earlier. (Bleek finds the proof of an earlier date in Psalms 74:8.) Wherever there was a somewhat numerous Jewish population, even in heathen countries, there were such places of worship. They assembled in them on the Sabbath-day, also on the Monday and Tuesday, and on court and market days. Any one wishing to speak signified his intention by rising (at least according to this passage; comp. also Act 13:16 ). But as all teaching was founded on the Scriptures, to speak was before anything else to read. The reading finished, he taught, sitting down (Acts 13:16, Paul speaks standing). Order was maintained by the ἀρχισυνάγωγος , or presidents of the synagogue. Luk 4:14-15 form the fourth definite statement in the account of the development of the person and work of Jesus; comp. Luke 2:40; Luke 2:52, and Luke 3:23.

Verses 14-30

1. Visit to Nazareth: Luke 4:14-30.

This portion opens with a general glance at the commencement of the active labours of Jesus in Galilee: Luke 14:14-15. Then, resting on this foundation, but separable from it, as a particular example, we have the narrative of His preaching at Nazareth: Luke 4:16-30.

Verses 14-44

THIRD PART: THE MINISTRY OF JESUS IN GALILEE, Luk 4:14 to Luke 9:50 .

The three Synoptics all connect the narrative of the Galilaean ministry with the account of the temptation. But the narrations of Matthew and Mark have this peculiarity, that, according to them, the motive for the return of Jesus to Galilee must have been the imprisonment of John the Baptist: “Now when Jesus had heard that John was cast into prison, He departed into Galilee” ( Mat 4:12 ); “Now, after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee” ( Mar 1:14 ). As the temptation does not appear to have been coincident with the apprehension of John, the question arises, Where did Jesus spend the more or less lengthened time that intervened between these two events, and what was He doing during the interval? This is the first difficulty. There is another: How could the apprehension of John the Baptist have induced Jesus to return to Galilee, to the dominions of this very Herod who was keeping John in prison? Luke throws no light whatever on these two questions which arise out of the narrative of the Syn., because he makes no mention in this place of the imprisonment of John, but simply connects the commencement of the ministry of Jesus with the victory He had just achieved in the desert. It is John who gives the solution of these difficulties. According to him, there were two returns of Jesus to Galilee, which his narrative distinguishes with the greatest care. The first took place immediately after the baptism and the temptation ( Luk 1:44 ). It was then that He called some young Galilaeans to follow Him who were attached to the forerunner, and shared his expectation of the Messiah. The second is related in chap. Luke 4:1; John connects it with the Pharisees jealousy of John the Baptist, which explains the account of the first two Syn. It appears, in fact, according to him, that some of the Pharisees were party to the blow which had struck John, and therefore we can well understand that Jesus would be more distrustful of them than even of Herod. That the Pharisees had a hand in John's imprisonment, is confirmed by the expression delivered, which Matthew and Mark employ. It was they who had caused him to be seized and delivered up to Herod.

The two returns mentioned by John were separated by quite a number of events: the transfer of Jesus' place of residence from Nazareth to Capernaum; His first journey to Jerusalem to attend the Passover; the interview with Nicodemus; and a period of prolonged activity in Judaea, simultaneous with that of John the Baptist, who was still enjoying his liberty ( Joh 2:12 to Joh 4:43 ). The second return to Galilee, which terminated this long ministry in Judaea, did not take place, according to Luke 4:35, until the month of December in this same year, so that at least twelve months elapsed between it and the former. The Syn., relating only a single return, must have blended the two into one. Only there is this difference between them, that in Matthew and Mark it is rather the idea of the second which seems to predominate, since they connect it with John's imprisonment; whilst Luke brings out more the idea of the first, for he associates it with the temptation exclusively. The mingling of these two analogous facts really, however, separated by almost a year must have taken place previously in the oral tradition, since it passed, though not without some variations, into our three Synoptics. The narrative of John was expressly designed to re-establish this lost distinction (comp. John 2:11; John 3:24; Joh 4:54 ). In this way in the Syn. the interval between these two returns to Galilee disappeared, and the two residences in Galilee, which were separated from each other by this ministry in Judaea, form in them one continuous whole. Further, it is difficult to determine in which of the two to place the several facts which the Syn. relate at the commencement of the Galilaean ministry.

We must not forget that the apostolic preaching, and the popular teaching given in the churches, were directed not by any historical interest, but with a view to the foundation and confirmation of faith. Facts of a similar nature were therefore grouped together in this teaching until they became completely inseparable. We shall see, in the same way, the different journeys to Jerusalem, fused by tradition into a single pilgrimage, placed at the end of Jesus' ministry. Thus the great contrast which prevails in the synoptical narrative between Galilee and Jerusalem is explained. It was only when John, not depending on tradition, but drawing from his own personal recollections, restored to this history its various phases and natural connections, that the complete picture of the ministry of Jesus appeared before the eyes of the Church.

But why did not Jesus commence His activity in Galilee, as, according to the Syn., He would seem to have done? The answer to this question is to be found in John 4:43-45. In that country, where He spent His youth, Jesus would necessarily expect to meet, more than anywhere else, with certain prejudices opposed to the recognition of His Messianic dignity. “A prophet hath no honour in his own country ” ( Joh 4:44 ). This is why He would not undertake His work among His Galilaean fellow-countrymen until after He had achieved some success elsewhere. The reputation which preceded His return would serve to prepare His way amongst them ( Joh 4:45 ). He had therefore Galilee in view even during this early activity in Judaea. He foresaw that this province would be the cradle of His Church; for the yoke of pharisaical and sacerdotal despotism did not press so heavily on it as on the capital and its neighbourhood. The chords of human feeling, paralyzed in Judaea by false devotion, still vibrated in the hearts of these mountaineers to frank and stirring appeals, and their ignorance appeared to Him a medium more easily penetrable by light from above than the perverted enlightenment of rabbinical science. Comp. the remarkable passage, Luke 10:21.

It is not easy to make out the plan of this part, for it describes a continuous progress without any marked breaks it is a picture of the inward and outward progress of the work of Jesus in Galilee. Ritschl is of opinion that the progress of the story is determined by the growing hostility of the adversaries of Jesus; and accordingly he adopts this division: Luk 4:16 to Luke 6:11, absence of conflict; Luk 6:12 to Luke 11:54, the hostile attitude assumed by the two adversaries towards each other. But, 1 st, the first symptoms of hostility break out before Luke 6:12; Luke 2:0 d, the passage Luke 9:51, which is passed over by the division of Ritschl, is evidently, in the view of the author, one of the principal connecting links in the narrative; 3 d, the growing hatred of the adversaries of Jesus is only an accident of His work, and in no way the governing motive of its development. It is not there, therefore, that we must seek the principle of the division. The author appears to us to have marked out a route for himself by a series of facts, in which there is a gradation easily perceived. At first Jesus preaches without any following of regular disciples; soon He calls about Him some of the most attentive of His hearers, to make them His permanent disciples; after a certain time, when these disciples had become very numerous, He raises twelve of them to the rank of apostles; lastly, He entrusts these twelve with their first mission, and makes them His evangelists. This gradation in the position of His helpers naturally corresponds, 1 st, with the internal progress of His teaching; 2 d, with the local extension of His work; 3 d, with the increasing hostility of the Jews, with whom Jesus breaks more and more, in proportion as He gives organic form to His own work. It therefore furnishes a measure of the entire movement.

We are guided by it to the following division:

First Cycle, Luke 4:14-44, extending to the call of the first disciples.

Second Cycle, Luk 5:1 to Luke 6:11, to the nomination of the twelve.

Third Cycle, Luk 6:12 to Luke 8:56, to their first mission.

Fourth Cycle, Luke 9:1-50, to the departure of Jesus for Jerusalem.

At this point the work of Jesus in Galilee comes to an end; He bids adieu to this field of labour, and, setting His face towards Jerusalem, He carries with Him into Judaea the result of His previous labours, His Galilaean Church.

Verses 16-19

Vers. 16-19. The Reading. Luke 4:16. Καί . “And in these itinerancies He came also. ” John ( Joh 2:12 ) and Matthew ( Mat 4:13 ) refer to this time the transfer of the residence of Jesus (and also, according to John, of that of His mother and brethren) from Nazareth to Capernaum, which naturally implies a visit to Nazareth. Besides, John places the miracle at the marriage at Cana at the same time. Now, Cana being such a very short distance from Nazareth, it would have been an affectation on the part of Jesus to be staying so near His native town, and not visit it.

The words, where He had been brought up, assign the motive of His proceeding. The expression, according to His custom, cannot apply to the short time which had elapsed since His return to Galilee, unless, with Bleek, we regard it as an indication that this event is of later date, which indeed is possible, but in no way necessary. It rather applies to the period of His childhood and youth. This remark is in close connection with the words, where He had been brought up. Attendance at the synagogue was, as Keim has well brought out (t. i. p. 434), a most important instrument in the religious and intellectual development of Jesus. Children had access to this worship from the age of five or six; they were compelled to attend it when they reached thirteen (Keim, t. i. p. 431). But it was not solely by means of these Scripture lessons, heard regularly in the synagogue several times a week, that Jesus learned to know the O. T. so well. There can be no doubt, as Keim says, that He possessed a copy of the sacred book Himself. Otherwise He would not have known how to read, as He is about to do here.

The received reading, having unrolled, Luke 4:17, is preferable to the Alex. var., having opened. The sacred volumes were in the form of rectangular sheets, rolled round a cylinder. By the expression, He found, Luke gives us to understand that Jesus, surrendering Himself to guidance from above, read at the place where the roll opened of itself.

We cannot then infer, as Bengel does, from the fact of this passage being read by the Jews on the day of atonement, that this feast was being observed on that very day. Besides, the present course of the Haphtaoth, or readings from the prophets, dates from a later period.

This passage belongs to the second part of Isaiah ( Isa 61:1 et seq.). This long consecutive prophecy is generally applied to the return from the captivity. The only term which would suggest this explanation in our passage is αἰχμαλώτοις , properly prisoners of war, Luke 4:19. But this word is used with a more general meaning. St. Paul applies it to his companions in work and activity ( Col 4:10 ). The term πτωχός , poor, rather implies that the people are settled in their own country. The remarkable expression, to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, makes the real thought of the prophet sufficiently clear. There was in the life of the people of Israel a year of grace, which might very naturally become a type of the Messianic era. This was the year of jubilee, which returned every fifty years (Leviticus 25:0). By means of this admirable institution, God had provided for a periodical social restoration in Israel. The Israelite who had sold himself into slavery regained his liberty; families which had alienated their patrimony recovered possession; a wide amnesty was granted to persons imprisoned for debt, so many types of the work of Him who was to restore spiritual liberty to mankind, to free them from their guilt, and restore to them their divine inheritance. Jesus, therefore, could not have received from His Father a text more appropriate to His present position the inauguration of His Messianic ministry amidst the scenes of His previous life.

The first words, The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, are a paraphrase of the term מָשִׁיחַ , H5431, Messiah ( Χριστός , Anointed). Jesus, in reading these words, could not but apply them to His recent baptism. The expression ἕνεκεν οὗ cannot signify here wherefore: “The Spirit is upon me; wherefore God hath anointed me;” this would be contrary to the meaning. The LXX. have used this conjunction to translate ‡ ַיעַן , H3610, which in the original signifies, just as יַעַןאֲשֶׁר , because, a meaning which the Greek expression will also bear ( on this account that, propterea quod).

On the first day of the year of jubilee, the priests went all through the land, announcing with sound of trumpets the blessings brought by the opening year ( jubilee, from יוֹבֵל , H3413, to sound a trumpet). It is to this proclamation of grace that the words, to announce good news to the poor, undoubtedly allude, Leviticus 25:6; Leviticus 25:14; Leviticus 25:25.

The words, to heal the broken in heart, which the Alex. reading omits, might have been introduced into the text from the O. T.; but, in our view, they form the almost indispensable basis of the word of Jesus, Luke 4:23. We must therefore retain them, and attribute their omission to an act of negligence occasioned by the long string of infinitives

The term κηρύξαι ἄφεσιν , to proclaim liberty, employed Luke 4:19, also alludes to the solemn proclamation of the jubilee. This word ἄφεσιν is found at almost every verse, in the LXX., in the statute enjoining this feast. Bleek himself observes that the formula קָרָאדַּרוֹר , which corresponds to those two Greek terms, is that which is employed in connection with the jubilee; but notwithstanding, this does not prevent his applying the passage, according to the common prejudice, to the return from the captivity! The prisoners who recover their freedom are amnestied malefactors as well as slaves set free at the beginning of this year of grace. The image of the blind restored to sight does not, at the first glance, accord with that of the jubilee; but it does not any better suit the figure of the return from the captivity. And if this translation of the Hebrew text were accurate, we should have in either case to allow that the prophet had departed from the general image with which he had started. But the term in Isaiah ( אֲסוּרִים , properly bound) denotes captives, not blind persons. The expression פְּקַחאּ ˜ קוֹחַ׃ signifies, it is true, the opening of the eyes, not the opening of a prison. But the captives coming forth from their dark dungeon are represented under the figure of blind men suddenly restored to sight.

The words, to set at liberty them that are bruised, are taken from another passage in Isaiah (58:). Probably in Luke's authority this passage was already combined with the former (as often happens with Paul). The figurative sense of τεθραυσμένοι , pierced through, is required by the verb to send away. The acceptable year of the Lord is that in which He is pleased to show mankind extraordinary favours. Several Fathers have inferred from this expression that the ministry of Jesus only lasted a single year. This is to confound the type and the antitype.

Verses 16-30

2 d. Luke 4:16-30.

Jesus did not begin by preaching at Nazareth. In His view, no doubt, the inhabitants of this city stood in much the same relation to the people of the rest of Galilee as the inhabitants of Galilee to the rest of the Jewish people; He knew that in a certain sense His greatest difficulties would be encountered there, and that it would be prudent to defer His visit until the time when His reputation, being already established in the rest of the country, would help to counteract the prejudice resulting from His former lengthened connection with the people of the place.

Verses 20-22

Vers. 20-22. The Preaching.

The description of the assembly, Luke 4:20, is so dramatic, that it appears to have come from an eye-witness.

The sense of ἤρξατο , He began ( Luk 4:21 ), is not that these were the first words of His discourse; this expression describes the solemnity of the moment when, in the midst of a silence resulting from universal attention, the voice of Jesus sounded through the synagogue.

The last words of the verse signify literally, “This word is accomplished in your ears;” in other words, “This preaching to which you are now listening is itself the realization of this prophecy.” Such was the text of Jesus' discourse. Luke, without going into His treatment of His theme (comp., for example, Mat 11:28-30 ), passes ( Luk 4:22 ) to the impression produced. It was generally favourable. The term bare witness alludes to the favourable reports which had reached them; they proved for themselves that His fame was not exaggerated. ᾿Εθαύμαζον signifies here, they were astonished (John 7:21; Mar 6:6 ), rather than they admired. Otherwise the transition to what follows would be too abrupt. So the term gracious words describes rather the matter of Jesus' preaching its description of the works of divine grace than the impression received by His hearers. They were astonished at this enumeration of marvels hitherto unheard of. The words, which proceeded forth out of His mouth, express the fulness with which this proclamation poured forth from His heart.

Two courses were here open to the inhabitants of Nazareth: either to surrender themselves to the divine instinct which, while they listened to this call, was drawing them to Jesus as the Anointed of whom Isaiah spake; or to give place to an intellectual suggestion, allow it to suppress the emotion of the heart, and cause faith to evaporate in criticism. They took the latter course: Is not this Joseph's son? Announcements of such importance appeared to them altogether out of place in the mouth of this young man, whom they had known from his childhood. What a contrast between the cold reserve of this question, and the enthusiasm which welcomed Jesus everywhere else (glorified of all, Luk 4:15 )! For them this was just such a critical moment as was to occur soon after for the inhabitants of Jerusalem ( Joh 2:13-22 ). Jesus sees at a glance the bearing of this remark which went round amongst His hearers: when the impression He has produced ends in a question of curiosity, all is lost; and He tells them so.

Verses 23-27

Vers. 23-27. The Colloquy. “And He said to them, Ye will surely say unto me this proverb, Physician, heal thyself; whatsoever we have heard done in Capernaum, do also here in thy country. 24 And He said, Verily I say unto you, No prophet is accepted in his own country. 25 But I tell you of a truth, many widows were in Israel in the days of Elias, when the heaven was shut up three years and six months, when great famine was throughout all the land; 26 But unto none of them was Elias sent, save unto Sarepta, a city of Sidon, unto a woman that was a widow. 27 And many lepers were in Israel in the time of Eliseus the prophet; and none of them was cleansed, saving Naaman the Syrian. ” The meaning surely, which πάντως often has, would be of no force here; it rather means wholly, nothing less than: “The question which you have just put to me is only the first symptom of unbelief. From surprise you will pass to derision. Thus you will quickly arrive at the end of the path in which you have just taken the first step.”

The term παραβολή , parable, denotes any kind of figurative discourse, whether a complete narrative or a short sentence, couched in an image, like proverbs. Jesus had just attributed to Himself, applying Isaiah's words, the office of a restorer of humanity. He had described the various ills from which His hearers were suffering, and directed their attention to Himself as the physician sent to heal them. This is what the proverb cited refers to. (Comp. ἰατρός , a physician, with ἰάσασθαι , to heal, Luke 4:18.) Thus: “You are going even to turn to ridicule what you have just heard, and to say to me, Thou who pretendest to save humanity from its misery, begin by delivering thyself from thine own.” But, as thus explained, the proverb does not appear to be in connection with the following proposition. Several interpreters have proposed another explanation: “Before attempting to save mankind, raise thy native town from its obscurity, and make it famous by miracles like those which thou must have wrought at Capernaum.” But it is very forced to explain the word thyself in the sense of thy native town. The connection of this proverb with the following words is explained, if we see in the latter a suggestion of the means by which Jesus may yet prevent the contempt with which He is threatened in His own country: “In order that we may acknowledge you to be what you claim, the Saviour of the people, do here some such miracle as it is said thou hast done at Capernaum.” This speech betrays an ironical doubt respecting those marvellous things which were attributed to Him.

It appears from this passage, as well as from Mat 13:58 and Mark 6:5, that Jesus performed no miracles at Nazareth. It is even said that “ He could do no miracle there.” It was a moral impossibility, as in other similar instances (Luke 11:16; Luke 11:29; Luk 23:35 ). It proceeded from the spirit in which the demand was made: it was a miracle of ostentation that was required of Him (the third temptation in the desert); and it was what He could not grant, without doing what the Father had not shown Him (John 5:19; Joh 5:30 ).

The allusion to the miracles at Capernaum creates surprise, because none of them have been recorded; and modern interpreters generally find in these words a proof of the chronological disorder which here prevails in Luke's narrative. He must have placed this visit much too soon. This conclusion, however, is not so certain as it appears. The expression, in the power of the Spirit ( Luk 4:14 ), contains by implication, as we have seen, an indication of miracles wrought in those early days, and amongst these we must certainly rank the miracle at the marriage feast at Cana (John 2:0). This miracle was followed by a residence at Capernaum ( Joh 2:12 ), during which Jesus may have performed some miraculous works; and it was not till after that that He preached publicly at Nazareth. These early miracles have been effaced by subsequent events, as that at Cana would have been, if John had not rescued it from oblivion. If this is so, the twenty-third verse, which seems at first sight not to harmonize with the previous narrative, would just prove with what fidelity Luke has preserved the purport of the sources whence he drew his information. John in the same way makes allusion ( Luk 2:12 ) to miracles which he has not recorded.

The preposition εἰς before the name Capernaum appears to be the true reading: “done at and in favour of Capernaum.”

The δέ ( Luk 4:24 ) indicates opposition. “So far from seeking to obtain your confidence by a display of miracles, I shall rather accept, as a prophet, the fate of all the prophets.” The proverbial saying here cited by Jesus is found in the scene Matthew 13:0 and Mark 6:0, and, with some slight modification, in John 4:44. None have more difficulty in discerning the exceptional character of an extraordinary man than those who have long lived with him on terms of familiarity.

The δέ ( Luk 4:25 ) is again of an adversative force: If by your unbelief you prevent my being your physician, there are others whom you will not prevent me from healing. The expression verily announces something important; and it is evident that the application of the saying, Luke 4:24, in the mind of Jesus, has a much wider reference than the instance before Him; Nazareth becomes, in His view, a type of unbelieving Israel. This is proved by the two following examples, which refer to the relations of Israel with the heathen.

He speaks of a famine of three years and a half. From the expressions of the O. T., during these years ( 1Ki 17:1 ), and the third year ( Luk 18:1 ), we can only in strictness infer a drought of two years and a half. But as this same figure, three years and a half, is found in James 5:17, it was probably a tradition of the Jewish schools. The reasoning would be this: The famine must have lasted for a certain time after the drought. There would be a desire also to make out the number which, ever since the persecution of Antiochus Epiphanes, had become the emblem of times of national calamity. The expression, all the land, denotes the land of Israel, with the known countries bordering upon it. The Alex. reading Σιδωνίας , the territory of Sidon, may be a correction derived from the LXX. The reading Σιδῶνος , the city of Sidon itself, makes the capital the centre on which the surrounding cities depend.

The somewhat incorrect use of εἰ μή , except, is explained by the application of this restriction not to the special notion of Israelitish widowhood, but to the idea of widowhood in general; the same remark applies to Luke 4:27, Matthew 12:4, Galatians 1:19, and other passages.

The second example ( Luk 4:27 ) is taken from 2 Kings 5:14. The passage 2Ki 7:3 and some others prove how very prevalent leprosy was in Israel at this time. The prophecy contained in these examples is being fulfilled to this hour: Israel is deprived of the works of grace and marvels of healing which the Messiah works among the Gentiles.

Verses 28-30

Vers. 28-30. Conclusion.

The threat contained in these examples exasperates them: “Thou rejectest us: we reject thee,” was their virtual reply. The term ἐκβάλλειν , to cast out, denotes that they set upon Him with violence.

About forty minutes distant from Nazareth, to the south-east, they show a wall of rock 80 feet high, and (if we add to it a second declivity which is found a little below) about 300 feet above the plain of Esdraelon. It is there that tradition places this scene. But Robinson regards this tradition as of no great antiquity. Besides, it does not agree with the expression: on which the city was built. Nazareth spreads itself out upon the eastern face of a mountain, where there is a perpendicular wall of rock from 40 to 50 feet high. This nearer locality agrees better with the text.

The ὥστε of the Alex. reading signifies: so as to be able to cast Him down. It was for that purpose that they took the trouble of going up so high. This reading is preferable to the T. R.: εἰς τό , for the purpose of.

The deliverance of Jesus was neither a miracle nor an escape; He passed through the group of these infuriated people with a majesty which overawed them. The history offers some similar incidents. We cannot say, as one critic does: “In the absence of any other miracle, He left them this.”

The greater part of modern critics regard this scene as identical with that of Matthew 13:0. and Mark 6:0., placed by these evangelists at a much later period. They rely, 1 st, On the expression of surprise: Is not this the son of Joseph? and on the proverbial saying, Luke 4:24, which could not have been repeated twice within a few months; 2 d, On the absence of miracles common to the two narratives; 3 d, On the words of Luke 4:23, which suppose that Jesus had been labouring at Capernaum prior to this visit to Nazareth. But how in this case are the following differences to be explained? 1. In Matthew and Mark there is not a word about the attempt to put Jesus to death. All goes off peaceably to the very end. 2. Where are certain cases of healing recorded by Matthew ( Mat 13:58 ) and Mark ( Mar 6:5 ) to be placed? Before the preaching? This is scarcely compatible with the words put into the mouth of the inhabitants of Nazareth (Luke 4:23, Luke). After the preaching? Luke's narrative absolutely excludes this supposition. 3. Matthew and Mark place the visit which they relate at the culminating point of the Galilaean ministry, and towards its close, whilst Luke commences his account of this ministry with the narrative which we have just been studying. An attempt has been made to explain this difference in two ways: Luke may have wished, in placing this narrative here, to make us see the reason which induced Jesus to settle at Capernaum instead of Nazareth (Bleek, Weizsäcker); or he may have made this scene the opening of Jesus' ministry, because it prefigures the rejection of the Jews and the salvation of the Gentiles, which is the leading idea of his book (Holtzmann). But how is such an arbitrary transposition to be harmonized with his intention of writing in order, so distinctly professed by Luke ( Luk 1:4 )? These difficulties have not yet been solved. Is it then impossible, that after a first attempt among His fellow-citizens at the beginning of His ministry, Jesus should have made a second later on? On the contrary, is it not quite natural that, before leaving Galilee for ever (and thus at the very time to which Matthew and Mark refer their account), He should have addressed Himself once more to the heart of His fellow-countrymen, and that, if He had again found it closed against Him, the shock would nevertheless have been less violent than at the first encounter? However this may be, if the two narratives refer to the same event, as present criticism decides, Luke's appears to me to deserve the preference, and for two reasons: 1. The very dramatic and detailed picture he has drawn leaves no room for doubting the accuracy and absolute originality of the source whence he derived his information; whilst the narratives of Matthew and Mark betray, by the absence of all distinctive features, their traditional origin. 2. John ( Joh 4:4 ) cites, at the beginning of his account of the Galilaean ministry, the saying recorded by the three evangelists as to the rejection which every prophet must undergo from his own people. He quotes it as a maxim already previously announced by Jesus, and which had influenced from the first the course of His ministry. Now, as the three Syn. are agreed in referring this saying to a visit at Nazareth, this quotation in John clearly proves that the visit in question took place at the commencement (Luke), and not in the middle or at the end of the Galilaean ministry (Matthew and Mark). We are thus brought to the conclusions: 1. That the visit related by Luke is historical; 2. That the recollection of it was lost to tradition, in common with many other facts relating to the beginning of the ministry (marriage at Cana, etc.); 3. That it was followed by another towards the end of the Galilaean ministry, in the traditional account of which several incidents were introduced belonging to the former. As to the sojourn at Capernaum, implied in Luke 4:23, we have already seen that it is included in the general description, Luke 4:15. Joh 2:12 proves that from the first the attention of Jesus was drawn to this city as a suitable place in which to reside. His first disciples lived near it. The synagogue of Capernaum must then have been one of the first in which He preached, and consequently one of those mentioned in Luke 4:15.

Verses 31-32

1 st. Luke 4:31-32.

The term, He went down, refers to the situation of Capernaum on the sea-shore, in opposition to that of Nazareth on the high land.

We have to do here with a permanent abode; comp. Joh 2:12 and Matthew 4:13 ( ἐλθὼν κατῴκησεν εἰς Κ .), as well as the term, His own city ( Mat 9:1 ). The name Capernaum or Capharnaum (see critical note, Luk 4:23 ) does not occur in the O. T. From this it would seem that it was not a very ancient place. The name may signify, town of Nahum (alluding to the prophet of this name), or (with more probability) town of consolation. The name, according to Josephus, belonged properly to a fountain; in the only passage in which he mentions this town, he calls it Κεφαρνώμη . Until lately, it was very generally admitted that the site of Capernaum was marked by the ruins of Tell-Hum towards the northern end of the lake of Gennesareth, to the west of the embouchure of the Jordan. Since Robinson's time, however, several, and among the rest M. Renan, have inclined to look for it farther south, in the rich plain where stands at the present day the town of Khan-Minyeh, of which Josephus has left us such a fine description. Keim pronounces very decidedly in favour of this latter opinion, and supports it by reasons of great weight.

Agriculture, fishing, and commerce, favoured by the road from Damascus to Ptolemais, which passed through or near Capernaum, had made it a flourishing city. It was therefore the most important town of the northern district of the lake country. It was the Jewish, as Tiberias was the heathen, capital of Galilee (a similar relation to that between Jerusalem and Caesarea).

The 31st and 32d verses form the fifth resting-place or general summary in the narrative (see Luk 4:14-15 ). The analytical form ἦν διδάσκων indicates habit. In the parallel place in Mark, the imperf. ἐδίδασκεν puts the act of teaching in direct and special connection with the following fact. By the authority ( ἐξουσία ) which characterized the words of Jesus, Luke means, not the power employed in the healing of the demonaic (to express this he would rather have used δύναμις , force), but the commanding character which distinguished His teaching. Jesus did not dissect texts, like the Rabbis; He laid down truths which carried with them their own evidence. He spoke as a legislator, not as a lawyer ( Mat 7:28-29 ).

The following incident proves the right He had to teach in this way.

It appears that it was with this 31st verse that Marcion commenced his Gospel, prefacing it with the fixing of the date, Luke 3:1: “In the 15th year of the government of Tiberius, Jesus went down into the town of Galilee called Capernaum.” The complement understood of went down was evidently: from heaven. As to the visit to Nazareth, Marcion places it after the scene which follows; this transposition was certainly dictated by Luke 4:23.

Verses 31-44

The Miracles of Jesus.

We shall here add a few thoughts on the miracles of Jesus in general. Four methods are used to get rid of the miraculous element in the Gospel history: 1 st. The explanation called natural, which upholds the credibility of the narrative, but explains the text in such a way that its contents offer nothing extraordinary. This attempt has failed; it is an expedient repudiated at the present day, rationalistic criticism only having recourse to it in cases where other methods are manifestly ineffectual. 2 d. The mythical explanation, according to which the accounts of the miracles would be owing to reminiscences of the miraculous stories of the O. T., the Messiah could not do less than the prophets, or would be either the product of spontaneous creations of the Christian consciousness, or the accidental result of certain words or parables of Jesus that were misunderstood (the resurrection of Lazarus, e.g.,, the result of the passage Luke 16:31; the cursing of the barren fig-tree, a translation into fact of the parable, Luk 13:6-9 ). But the simple, plain, historical character of our Gospel narratives, so free from all poetical adornment and bombast, defends them against this suspicion. Besides, several accounts of miracles are accompanied by words of Jesus, which in such a case would lose their meaning, but which are nevertheless beyond doubt authentic. For example, the discourse, Mat 12:26 et seq., where Jesus refutes the charge, laid against Him by His adversaries, of casting out devils by the prince of the devils, would have no sense but on the supposition, fully conceded by these adversaries, of the reality of His cures of the possessed. His address to the cities of Galilee, Luke 10:12-15, implies the notorious and undisputed reality of numerous miraculous facts in His ministry; for we know of no exegesis which consents to give the term δυνάμεις in this passage the purely moral meaning which M. Colani proposes. 3 d. The relative hypothesis, according to which these facts must be ascribed to natural laws as yet unknown. This was the explanation of Schleiermacher; in part also it was the explanation of M. Renan: “The miraculous is only the unexplained.” It is in conflict with two insurmountable difficulties: 1. If certain cures may be explained after a fashion, we may be perfectly sure that no one will ever discover a natural law capable of producing a multiplication of loaves and of cooked fish, a resurrection of the dead, and above all, such an event as the resurrection of Jesus Himself. 2. We must, according to this explanation, attribute to Jesus miracles of scientific knowledge quite as inexplicable as the miracles of power which are now in question. 4 th. The psychological explanation. After having got rid of the miracles wrought on external nature (the multiplication of the loaves and the stilling of the storm) by one of the three methods indicated, Keim admits a residuum of extraordinary and indisputable facts in the life of Jesus. These are the cures wrought upon the sick and the possessed. Before him, M. Renan had spoken of the influence exerted on suffering and nervous people by the contact of a person of finely organized nature (une personne exquise). Keim merely, in fact, amplifies this expression. The only real miracles in the history of Jesus the cures are to be ascribed, according to him, to moral influence ( ethico-psychological, t. ii. p. 162).

We reply 1. That the miracles wrought on nature, which are set aside as mythical, are attested in exactly the same manner as the cures which are admitted. 2. That Jesus wrought these cures with an absolute certainty of success (“Now, in order that ye may know, I say unto thee...” “I will; be thou clean.” “Be it unto thee as thou wilt”), and that the effect produced was immediate. These two features are incompatible with the psychological explanation. 3. That if Jesus had known that these cures did not proceed from an order of things above nature, it is inconceivable that He would have offered them as God's testimony in His favour, and as signs of His Messianic dignity. Charlatanism, however slight, is incompatible with the moral character of Jesus. On the possessed, see pp. 243-5.

Jewish legends themselves bear witness to the reality of Jesus' miracles. “The Son of Stada (a nickname applied to Jesus in the Talmud) brought charms from Egypt in an incision which he had made in his flesh.” This is the accusation of the Talmud against Him. Surely, if the Jews had been able to deny His miracles, it would have been a simpler thing to do than to explain them in this way. Lastly, when we compare the miracles of the Gospels with those attributed to Him in the apocryphal writings, we feel what a wide difference there is between tradition and legend.

Verses 33-37

2 d. Luke 4:33-37. Should the possessed mentioned by the evangelists be regarded simply as persons afflicted after the same manner as our lunatics, whose derangement was attributed by Jewish and heathen superstition to supernatural influence? Or did God really permit, at this extraordinary epoch in history, an exceptional display of diabolical power? Or, lastly, should certain morbid conditions now existing, which medical science attributes to purely natural causes, either physical or psychical, be put down, at the present day also, to the action of higher causes? These are the three hypotheses which present themselves to the mind. Several of the demoniacs healed by Jesus certainly exhibit symptoms very like those which are observed at the present day in those who are simply afflicted; for example, the epileptic child, Luk 9:37 et seq., and parall. These strange conditions in every case, therefore, were based on a real disorder, either physical or physico-psychical. The evangelists are so far from being ignorant of this, that they constantly class the demoniacs under the category of the sick ( Luk 4:40-41 ), never under that of the vicious. The possessed have nothing in common with the children of the devil (John 8:0). Nevertheless these afflicted persons are constantly made a class by themselves. On what does this distinction rest? On this leading fact, that those who are simply sick enjoy their own personal consciousness, and are in possession of their own will; while in the possessed these faculties are, as it were, confiscated to a foreign power, with which the sick person identifies himself (Luke 4:34, Luk 8:30 ). How is this peculiar symptom to be explained? Josephus, under Hellenic influence, thought that it should be attributed to the souls of wicked men who came after death seeking a domicile in the living. In the eyes of the people the strange guest was a demon, a fallen angel. This latter opinion Jesus must have shared. Strictly speaking, His colloquies with the demoniacs might be explained by an accommodation to popular prejudice, and the sentiments of those who were thus afflicted; but in His private conversations with His disciples, He must, whatever was true, have disclosed His real thoughts, and sought to enlighten them. But He does nothing of the kind; on the contrary, He gives the apostles and disciples power to cast out devils ( Luk 9:1 ), and to tread on all the power of the enemy ( Luk 10:19 ). In Mark 9:29, He distinguishes a certain class of demons that can only be driven out by prayer (and fasting?). In Luk 11:21 and parall., He explains the facility with which He casts out demons by the personal victory which He had achieved over Satan at the beginning. He therefore admitted the intervention of this being in these mysterious conditions. If this is so, is it not natural to admit that He who exercised over this, as over all other kinds of maladies, such absolute power best understood its nature, and that therefore His views upon the point should determine ours?

Are there not times when God permits a superior evil power to invade humanity? Just as God sent Jesus at a period in history when moral and social evil had reached its culminating point, did not He also permit an extraordinary manifestation of diabolical power to take place at the same time? By this means Jesus could be proclaimed externally and visibly as the conqueror of the enemy of men, as He who came to destroy the works of the devil in the moral sense of the word ( 1Jn 3:8 ). All the miracles of healing have a similar design. They are signs by which Jesus is revealed as the author of spiritual deliverances corresponding to these physical cures.

An objection is found in the silence of the fourth Gospel; but John in no way professed to relate all he knew. He says himself, Luke 20:30-31, that there are besides many miracles, and different miracles ( πολλὰ καὶ ἄλλα ), which he does not relate.

As to the present state of things, it must not be compared with the times of Jesus. Not only might the latter have been of an exceptional character; but the beneficent influence which the gospel has exercised in restoring man to himself, and bringing his conscience under the power of the holy and true God, may have brought about a complete change in the spiritual world. Lastly, apart from all this, is there nothing mysterious, from a scientific point of view, in certain cases of mental derangement, particularly in those conditions in which the will is, as it were, confiscated to, and paralyzed by, an unknown power? And after deduction has been made for all those forms of mental maladies which a discriminating analysis can explain by moral and physical relations, will not an impartial physician agree that there is a residuum of cases respecting which he must say: Non liquet?

Possession is a caricature of inspiration. The latter, attaching itself to the moral essence of a man, confirms him for ever in the possession of his true self; the former, while profoundly opposed to the nature of the subject, takes advantage of its state of morbid passivity, and leads to the forfeiture of personality. The one is the highest work of God; the other of the devil.

The question has been asked, How could a man in a state of mental derangement, and who would be regarded as unclean ( Luk 4:33 ), be found in the synagogue? Perhaps his malady had not broken out before as it did at this moment.

Luke says literally: a man who had a spirit ( an afflatus) of an unclean devil. In this expression, which is only found in Revelation 16:14, the term spirit or afflatus denotes the influence of the unclean devil, of the being who is the author of it.

The crisis which breaks out ( Luk 4:34 ) results from the opposing action of those two powers which enter into conflict with each other, the influence of the evil spirit, and that of the person and word of Jesus. A holy power no sooner begins to act in the sphere in which this wretched creature lives, than the unclean power which has dominion over him feels its empire threatened. This idea is suggested by the contrast between the epithet unclean applied to the diabolical spirit ( Luk 4:33 ), and the address: Thou art the Holy One of God ( Luk 4:34 ). The exclamation ἔα , ah! ( Luk 4:34 ) is properly the imperative of ἐάω , let be! It is a cry like that of a criminal who, when suddenly apprehended by the police, calls out: Loose me! This is also what is meant in this instance by the expression, in frequent use amongst the Jews with different applications: What is there between us and thee? of which the meaning here is: What have we to contend about? What evil have we done thee? The plural we does not apply to the devil and to the possessed, since the latter still identifies himself altogether with the former. The devil speaks in the name of all the other spirits of his kind which have succeeded in obtaining possession of a human being.

The perdition which he dreads is being sent into the abyss where such spirits await the judgment ( Luk 8:31 ). This abyss is the emptiness of a creature that possesses no point of support outside itself, neither in God, as the faithful angels have, nor in the world of sense, as sinful men endowed with a body have. In order to remedy this inward destitution, they endeavour to unite themselves to some human being, so as to enter through this medium into contact with sensible realities. Whenever a loss of this position befalls them, they fall back into the abyss of their empty self-dependence ( vide subjectivité).

The term Holy One of God expresses the character in which this being recognised his deadly enemy. We cannot be surprised that such homage should be altogether repugnant to the feelings of Jesus. He did not acknowledge it as the utterance of an individual whose will is free, which is the only homage that can please Him; and He sees what occasion may be taken from such facts to exhibit His work in a suspicious light ( Luk 11:15 ). He therefore puts an end to this scene immediately by these two peremptory words ( Luk 4:35 ). Silence! and Come out. By the words ἐξ αὐτοῦ , of him, Jesus forcibly distinguishes between the two beings thus far mingled together. This divorce is the condition of the cure.

A terrible convulsion marks the deliverance of the afflicted man. The tormentor does not let go his victim without subjecting him to a final torture. The words, without having done him any hurt, reproduce in a striking manner the impression of eyewitnesses: they ran towards the unhappy man, expecting to find him dead; and to their surprise, on lifting him up, they find him perfectly restored.

We may imagine the feelings of the congregation when they beheld such a scene as this, in which the two powers that dispute the empire of mankind had in a sensible manner just come into conflict. Luk 4:36-37 describe this feeling. Several have applied the expression this word (What a word is this! A. V.) to the command of Jesus which the devil had just obeyed. But a reference to Luk 4:32 obliges us to take the term word in its natural sense, the preaching of Jesus in general. The authority with which He taught ( Luk 4:32 ) found its guarantee in the authority backed by power ( δύναμις ), with which He forced the devils themselves to render obedience. The power which Jesus exercises by His simple word is opposed to the prescriptions and pretences of the exorcists; His cures differed from theirs, just as His teaching did from that of the scribes. In both cases He speaks as a master.

The account of this miracle is omitted by Matthew. It is found with some slight variations in Mark ( Mar 1:23 et seq.). It is placed by him, as by Luke, at the beginning of this sojourn of Jesus at Capernaum. Instead of ῥίψαν , having thrown him, Mark says, σπαράξαν , having torn, violently convulsed him.

Instead of What word is this? Mark makes the multitude say: What new doctrine is this? an expression which agrees with the sense which we have given to λόγος in Luke. The meaning of the epithet new in the mouth of the people might be rendered by the common exclamation: Here is something new! According to Bleek, Mark borrowed his narrative from Luke. But how very paltry and insignificant these changes would seem! According to Holtzmann, the original source was the primitive Mark (A.), the narrative of which has been reproduced exactly by our Mark; whilst Luke has modified it with a view to exalt the miracle, by changing, for example, having torn into having thrown, and by adding on his own authority the details, with a loud voice, and without having done him any hurt. Holtzmann congratulates himself, after this, on having made Luke's dependence on the Proto-Mark quite evident. But the simple term word, which in Luke ( Luk 4:36 ) supplies the place of Mark's emphatic expression, this new doctrine, contradicts this explanation. And if this miracle was in the primitive Mark, from which, according to Holtzmann, Matthew must also have drawn his narrative, how came the latter to omit an incident so striking? Holtzmann's answer is, that this evangelist thought another example of a similar cure, that of the demoniac at Gadara, the more striking; and to compensate for the omission of the healing at Capernaum, he has put down two demoniacs, instead of one, to Gadara...! How can such a childish procedure be imputed to a grave historian?

Verses 38-39

3 d. Luke 4:38-39.

Peter, according to our narrative, seems to have lived at Capernaum. According to John 1:45, he was originally of Bethsaida. The two places were very near, and might have had a common synagogue; or, while originally belonging to the one, Peter might have taken up his abode at the other.

The term πενθερά (not μητρυῖα ) proves that Peter was married, which agrees with 1 Corinthians 9:5. It is possible that from this time Jesus took up His abode in Peter's house, Mat 17:24 et seq.

According to Mark 1:29, His train of disciples consisted, not only of Simon and Andrew, but also of James and John. This already existing association supposes a prior connection between Jesus and these young fishermen, which is explained in John 1:0. Luke does not name the companions of Jesus. We only see by the words, she arose and ministered unto them ( Luk 4:39 ), that He was not alone.

The expression πυρετὸς μέγας does not appear to be used here in the technical sense which it has in ancient books of medicine, where it denotes a particular kind of fever.

In Luke, Jesus bends down over the sick woman. This was a means of entering into spiritual communication with her; comp. Peter's words to the impotent man ( Act 3:4 ): Look on me. In Matthew, He touches the sick woman with His hand. This action has the same design. In Mark, He takes her by the hand to lift her up. How are these variations to be explained, if all three drew from the same source, or if one derived his account from the other?

Luke says, literally, He rebuked the fever; as if He saw in the disease some principle hostile to man. This agrees with John 8:44, where the devil is called the murderer of man.

It was doubtless at the time of the evening meal ( Luk 4:40 ). The first use which the sick woman makes of her recovered strength was to serve up a repast for her guests. Holtzmann finds a proof in the plur. αὐτοῖς , “she served them,” that Luke's narrative depends on Mark; for thus far Luke has only spoken of Jesus: He came down ( Luk 4:31 ), He entered ( Luk 4:38 ). But this proof is weak. In the description of the public scene, Luke would only present the principal person, Jesus; while in the account of the domestic scene he would naturally mention also the other persons, since they had all the same need of being waited upon.

In Luke and Mark the position of this narrative is very nearly the same, with merely this difference, that in the latter it follows the calling of the four disciples, while in Luke it precedes it. In Matthew, on the contrary, it is placed very much later after the Sermon on the Mount. As to the details, Matthew is almost identical with Mark. Thus the two evangelists which agree as to the time (Luke and Mark) differ most as to the details, and the two which come nearest to each other in details (Matthew and Mark) differ considerably as to time. How can this singular relation be explained if they drew from common written sources, or if they copied from each other? Luke here omits Andrew, whom Mark mentions. Why so, if he copied from the primitive Mark? Had he any animosity against Andrew? Holtzmann replies: Because he does not speak of Andrew in what follows. As if, in Mark himself, he was any the more mentioned in the incidents that follow!

Verses 40-41

4 th. Luke 4:40-41.

Here we have one of those periods when the miraculous power of Jesus was most abundantly displayed. We shall meet again with some of these culminating points in the course of His ministry. A similar rhythm is found in the career of the apostles. Peter at Jerusalem ( Act 5:15-16 ), and Paul at Ephesus ( Luk 19:11-12 ), exercise their miraculous power to a degree in which they appear to have exhibited it at no other time in their life; it was at the same time the culminating point of their ministry of the word.

The memory of this remarkable evening must have fixed itself indelibly in the early tradition; for the account of this time has been preserved, in almost identical terms, in our three Syn. The sick came in crowds. The expression, when the sun was setting, shows that this time had been waited for. And that not “because it was the cool hour,” as many have thought, but because it was the end of the Sabbath, and carrying a sick person was regarded as work ( Joh 5:10 ). The whole city, as Mark, in his simple, natural, and somewhat emphatic style, says, was gathered together at the door.

According to our narrative, Jesus made use on this occasion of the laying on of hands. Luke cannot have invented this detail himself; and the others would not have omitted it if it had belonged to their alleged common source of information. Therefore Luke had some special source in which this detail was found, and not this alone. This rite is a symbol of any kind of transmission, whether of a gift or an office (Moses and Joshua, Deu 34:9 ), or of a blessing (the patriarchal blessings), or of a duty (the transfer to the Levites of the natural functions of the eldest sons in every family), or of guilt (the guilty Israelite laying his hands on the head of the victim), or of the sound vital strength enjoyed by the person who imparts it (cures). It is not certainly that Jesus could not have worked a cure by His mere word, or even by a simple act of volition. But, in the first place, there is something profoundly human in this act of laying the hand on the head of any one whom one desires to benefit. It is a gesture of tenderness, a sign of beneficial communication such as the heart craves. Then this symbol might be morally necessary. Whenever Jesus avails Himself of any material means to work a cure, whether it be the sound of His voice, or clay made of His spittle, His aim is to establish, in the form best adapted to the particular case, a personal tie between the sick person and Himself; for He desires not only to heal, but to effect a restoration to God, by creating in the consciousness of the sick a sense of union with Himself, the organ of divine grace in the midst of mankind. This moral aim explains the variety of the means employed. Had they been curative means, of the nature of magnetic passes, for example, they could not have varied so much. But as they were addressed to the sick person's soul, Jesus chose them in such a way that His action was adapted to its character or position. In the case of a deaf mute, He put His fingers into his ears; He anointed the eyes of a blind man with His spittle, etc. In this way their healing appeared as an emanation from His person, and attached them to Him by an indissoluble tie. Their restored life was felt to be dependent on His. The repetition of the act of laying on of hands in each case was with the same view. The sick person, being thus visibly put into a state of physical dependence, would necessarily infer his moral dependence. The Alex. readings ἐπιτίθεις , laying on, ἐθεράπευε , He healed, must be preferred. The aor. (in the T. R.) indicates the completed act, the imperf. its indefinite continuation: “ Laying His hands on each of them, He healed, and kept on healing, as many as came for it.”

The demoniacs are mentioned in Luk 4:41 among the sick, but as forming a class by themselves. This agrees with what we have stated respecting their condition. There must have been some physico-psychical disorganization to afford access to the malign influence. The words ὁ Χριστός are correctly omitted by the Alex.; they have been taken from the second part of the verse.

From the fact that the multitude translated the exclamation of the devils, Thou art the Son of God, into this, It is the Christ, we have no right to conclude that the two titles were identical. By the former, the devils acknowledged the divine character of this man, who made them feel so forcibly His sovereign power. The latter was the translation of this homage into ordinary speech by the Jewish multitude. Was it the design of the devil to compromise Jesus by stirring up a dangerous excitement in Israel in His favour, or by making it believed that there was a bond of common interest between His cause and theirs? It is more natural to regard this exclamation as an involuntary homage, an anticipation of that compulsory adoration which all creatures, even those which are under the earth, as St. Paul says ( Php 2:10 ), shall one day render to Jesus. They are before the representative of Him before whom they tremble ( Jam 2:19 ). Jesus, who had rejected in the desert all complicity with their head, could not think of deriving advantage from this impure homage.

Verses 42-44

5 th. Luke 4:42-44.

The more a servant of God exerts himself in outward activity, the more need there is that he should renew his inward strength by meditation. Jesus also was subject to this law. Every morning He had to obtain afresh whatever was needed for the day; for He lived by the Father ( Joh 6:57 ). He went out before day from Peter's house, where no doubt He was staying. Instead of, And when it was day, Mark says, While it was still very dark ( ἔννυχον λίαν ). Instead of, the multitude sought Him, Mark says, Simon and they that were with him followed after Him..., and said unto Him, All men seek Thee. Instead of, I must preach, Mark makes Jesus say, Let us go, that I may preach..., etc. These shades of difference are easily explained, if the substance of these narratives was furnished by oral tradition; but they become childish if they are drawn from the same written source. Holtzmann thinks that Luke generalizes and obscures the narrative of the primitive Mark. The third evangelist would have laboured very uselessly to do that! Bleek succeeds no better in explaining Mark by Luke, than Holtzmann Luke by Mark. If Mark listened to the narrations of Peter, it is intelligible that he should have added to the traditional narrative the few striking features which are peculiar to him, and particularly that which refers to the part taken by Simon on that day. As we read Mark 1:36-37, we fancy we hear Peter telling the story himself, and saying: “And we found Him, and said to Him, All men seek Thee.” These special features, omitted in the general tradition, are wanting in Luke.

The words of Jesus, Luke 4:43, might be explained by a tacit opposition between the ideas of preaching and healing. “If I stayed at Capernaum, I should soon have nothing else to do but work cures, whilst I am sent that I may preach also.” But in this case the verb εὐαγγελίσασθαι should commence the phrase. On the contrary, the emphasis is on the words, to other cities...Jesus opposes to the idea of a stationary ministry at Capernaum, that of itinerant preaching. The term εὐαγγελίσασθαι , to tell news, is very appropriate to express this idea. The message ceases to be news when the preacher remains in the same place. But in this expression of Jesus there is, besides, a contrast between Capernaum, the large city, to which Jesus in no way desires to confine His care, and the smaller towns of the vicinity, designated in Mark by the characteristic term κομποπόλεις , which are equally entrusted to His love.

It is difficult to decide between the two readings, ἀπεστάλην , I have been sent in order to..., and ἀπέσταλμαι , my mission is to...The second perhaps agrees better with the context. A very similar various reading is found in the parallel passage, Mark 1:38 ( ἐξῆλθον or ἐξελήλυθα ). Mark's term appears to allude to the incarnation; Luke's only refers to the mission of Jesus.

The readings εἰς τὰς συναγωγάς and ἐν ταῖς συναγωγαῖς , Luke 4:44, recur in Mark 1:39. The former appears less regular, which makes it more probable: Jesus carried the preaching into the synagogues.

The absurd reading τῆς ᾿Ιουδαίας , which is found in the six principal Alex., should be a caution to blind partisans of this text.

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Bibliographical Information
Godet, Frédéric Louis. "Commentary on Luke 4". "Godet's Commentary on Selected Books". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/gsc/luke-4.html.