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Bible Commentaries
Luke 3

Meyer's Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New TestamentMeyer's Commentary

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Luke 3:2 . Instead of ἐπὶ ἀρχιερέως , Elz. has ἐπʼ ἀρχιερέων , in opposition to decisive evidence.

Luke 3:4 . λέγοντος ] is wanting in B D L Δ א , min. Copt. Arm. Vulg. It. Or. Eus. Condemned by Griesb., deleted by Rinck, Lachm. Tisch.; taken from Matthew 3:3 .

Luke 3:5 . εὐθεῖαν ] B D Ξ , min. Vulg. It. Or. Ir. have εὐθείας . So Lachm. and Tisch. A mechanical repetition from Luke 3:4 . The verse bears no trace of its having been altered to agree with the LXX.

Luke 3:10 . ποιήσομεν ] ποιήσωμεν , which Griesb. has recommended, and Scholz, Lachm. Tisch. have adopted, is here and at Luke 3:12 ; Luke 3:14 decisively attested.

Luke 3:14 . The arrangement τί ποιήσωμεν καὶ ἡμεῖς is, with Lachm. and Tisch., to be adopted, following B C* L א , min. Syr. Ar. Vulg. Rd. 3 :Brix. Colb.; καὶ ἡμεῖς was omitted, because καί follows again, an omission which, moreover, the analogy of Luke 3:10 ; Luke 3:12 readily suggested, and was afterwards restored in the wrong place (before τί ποιήσ .).

πρὸς αὐτούς ] Lachm. has αὐτοῖς , following B C* D L Ξ , min. Vulg. It. The Recepta is a repetition from Luke 3:13 .

Luke 3:17 . καὶ διακαθαριεῖ ] Tisch. has διακαθᾶραι , as also afterwards κ . συναγαγεῖν , on too weak attestation.

Luke 3:19 . After γυναικός , Elz. has Φιλίππου , in opposition to decisive evidence.

Luke 3:22 . λέγουσαν ] is wanting in B D L א , Copt. Vulg. codd. of It. Ambr. Condemned by Griesb. and Rinck, deleted by Lachm. Tisch. Taken from Matthew 3:17 . Comp. on Luke 3:4 .

σὺ εἶ … ηὐδόκησα ] D, Song of Solomon 3:0 :Verc. Colb. Corb.* Rd. Clem. Method. Hilar. ap., also codd. in Augustine, have υἱός μου εἶ σὺ , ἐγὼ σήμερον γεγέννηκά σε . An old (Justin, c. Tryph. 88) Ebionitic (Epiphan. Haer. xxx. 13) addition, which, echoing the expression in Acts 13:33 , found its way into the narrative, especially in the case of Luke.

Luke 3:23 . Many various readings, which, however, are not so well attested as to warrant a departure from the Received text (Lachm. and Tisch. have adopted ὢν υἱός , ὡς ἐνομίζετο , and Tisch. has ἀρχόμ . after Ἰησοῦς ).

Luke 3:23 ff. Many variations in the writing of the proper names.

Luke 3:33 . τοῦ Ἀράμ ] Tisch. has τοῦ Ἀδμεὶν τοῦ Ἀρνεί , following B L X Γ א , Copt. Syr p . So also Ewald. Rightly; the Recepta is a correction in accordance with Matthew 1:4 ; 1 Chronicles 2:9 .

Verses 1-2

Luke 3:1-2 . As, on the one hand, Matthew 3:1 introduces the appearance of the Baptist without any definite note of time, only with ἐν δὲ ταῖς ἡμέραις ἐκείναις ; so, on the other, Luke (“the first writer who frames the Gospel history into the great history of the world by giving precise dates,” Ewald), in fulfilment of his intention, Luke 1:3 , gives for that highly important starting-point of the proclamation of the Gospel (“hic quasi scena N. T. panditur,” Bengel) a date specified by a sixfold reference to the history of the period, so as to indicate the emperor at Rome and the governors of Palestine, as well as the high priest of the time; namely (1) in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar . Augustus, who was succeeded by his step-son Tiberius, died on the 19th August 767, or the fourteenth year of the era of Dionysius. See Suetonius, Octav . 100. Accordingly, it might appear doubtful whether Luke reckons the year 767 or the year 768 as the first; similarly, as Tiberius became co-regent at the end of 764, or in January 765 (Tacit. Ann . i. 3; Sueton. Tib . 20 f.; Velleius Paterculus, ii. 121), whether Luke begins to reckon from the commencment of the co -regency (Ussher, Voss, Pagius, Clericus, Sepp, Lichtenstein, Tischendorf, and others), or of the sole -government. Since, however, no indication is added which would lead us away from the mode of reckoning the years of the emperors usual among the Romans, and followed even by Josephus, [65] we must abide by the view that the fifteenth year in the passage before us is the year from the 19 th August 781 to the same date 782. See also Anger, zur Chronologie d. Lehramtes Christi , I., Leipzig 1848; Ideler, Chronol . I. p. 418. Authentication from coins; Saulcy, Athen. français . 1855, p. 639 f. (2) When Pontius Pilate (see on Matthew 27:2 ) was procurator of Judaea . He held office from the end of 778, or beginning of 779, until 789, in which year he was recalled after an administration of ten years; Joseph. Antt . xviii. 4. 2. (3) When Herod was tetrarch of Galilee . Herod Antipas (see on Matthew 2:22 ; Matthew 14:1 ); this crafty, unprincipled man of the world became tetrarch after the death of his father Herod the Great in 750, and remained so until his deposition in 792. (4) When Philip his brother was tetrarch of Ituraea and Trachonitis . This paternal prince (see Ewald, Gesch. Chr . p. 45 f.) became prince in 750, and his reign lasted till his death in 786 or 787, Joseph. Antt . xviii. 4. 6. His government extended also over Batanaea and Auranitis, Joseph. Antt . xvii. 11. 4, as that of Herod Antipas also took in Peraea. For information as to Ituraea , the north-eastern province of Palestine (Münter, de rebus Ituraeor . 1824), and as to the neighbouring Trachonitis between the Antilibanus and the Arabian mountain ranges, see Winer, Realwört . (5) When Lysanias was tetrarch of Abilene . See especially, Hug, Gutacht . I. p. 119 ff.; Ebrard, p. 180 ff.; Wieseler, p. 174 ff.; Schweizer in the Theol. Jahrb . 1847, p. 1 ff. (who treats the chronology of Luke very unfairly); Wieseler in Herzog’s Encykl . I. p. 64ff.; Lichtenstein, p. 131 ff.; Bleek in loc . The Lysanias, son of Ptolemaeus, known from Josephus, Antt . xv. 4. 1; Dio Cass. 49. 32, as having been murdered by Antony at the instigation of Cleopatra in 718, cannot here be meant, unless Luke has perpetrated a gross chronological blunder; which latter case, indeed, Strauss, Gfrörer, B. Bauer, Hilgenfeld take for granted; while Valesius, on Eus. H. E. i. 10; Michaelis, Paulus, [66] Schneckenburger in the Stud. u. Krit . 1833, p. 1064, would mend matters uncritically enough by omitting τετραρχοῦντος (which is never omitted in Luke, see Tischendorf); and the remaining expression: ΚΑῚ Τῆς ΛΥΣΑΝΊΟΥ ἈΒΙΛΗΝῆς some have attempted to construe, others to guess at the meaning. After the murder of that older Lysanias who is mentioned as ruler of ( ΔΥΝΑΣΤΕΎΩΝ ) Chalcis , between Lebanon and Antilibanus (Joseph. Antt . xiv. 7. 4), Antony presented a great part of his possessions to Cleopatra (see Wieseler, p. 179), and she leased them to Herod. Soon afterwards Zenodorus received the lease of the οἶκος τοῦ Λυσανίου (Joseph. Antt . xv. 10. 1; Bell. Jud . i. 20. 4); but Augustus in 724 compelled him to give up a portion of his lands to Herod (Joseph. as above ), who after the death of Zenodorus in 734 obtained the rest also, Antt . xv. 10. 3. After Herod’s death a part of the οἴκου τοῦ Ζηνοδώρου passed over to Philip ( Antt . xvii. 11. 4; Bell. Jud . ii. 6. 3). It is consequently not to be proved that no portion of the territory of that older Lysanias remained in his family. This is rather to be assumed (Casaubon, Krebs, Süskind the elder, Kuinoel, Süskind the younger in the Stud. u. Krit . 1836, p. 431 ff.; Winer, and others), if it is supposed that Abilene also belonged to the principality of that elder Lysanias. But this supposition is itself deficient in proof, since Josephus designates the territory of the elder Lysanias as Chalcis (see above), and expressly distinguishes the kingdom of a later Lysanias, which Caligula ( Antt . xviii. 6. 10) and Claudius bestowed on Agrippa I. ( Antt . xix. 5. 1, xx. 7. 1; Bell . ii. 11. 5, ii. 12. 8) from the region of Chalcis ( Bell . ii. 12. 8). But since Abila is first mentioned as belonging to the tetrarchy of this later Lysanias ( Antt . xix. 5. 1), and since the kingdom of the elder Lysanias is nowhere designated a tetrarchy , although probably the territory of that younger one is so named, [67] it must be assumed that Josephus, when he mentions Ἄβιλαν τὴν Λυσανίου ( Antt . xix. 5. 1), and speaks of a tetrarchy of Lysanias ( Antt . xx. 7. 1; comp. Bell . ii. 11. 5, ii. 12. 8), still designates the region in question after that older Lysanias; but that before 790, when Caligula became emperor, a tetrarchy of a later Lysanias existed to which Abila [68] belonged, doubtless as his residence, whereas it is quite another question whether this latter Lysanias was a descendant or a relation of that elder one (see Krebs, Obss . p. 112). Thus the statement of Luke, by comparison with Josephus, instead of being shown to be erroneous , is confirmed . [69] (6) When Annas was high priest, and Caiaphas . Comp. Acts 4:6 . The reigning high priest at that time was Joseph , named Caiaphas (see on Matthew 26:3 ), who had been appointed by Valerius Gratus, the predecessor of Pontius Pilate, Joseph. Antt . xviii. 2, 2. His father-in-law Annas held the office of high priest some years before, until Valerius Gratus became procurator, when the office was taken away from him by the new governor, and conferred first on Ismael , then on Eleazar (a son of Annas), then on Simon , and after that on Caiaphas . See Josephus, l.c. This last continued in office from about 770 till 788 or 789. But Annas retained withal very weighty influence (John 18:12 ff.), so that not only did he, as did every one who had been ἀρχιερεύς , continue to be called by the name , but, moreover, he also partially discharged the functions of high priest. In this way we explain the certainly inaccurate expression of Luke (in which Lange, L. J. II. 1, p. 165, finds a touch of irony , an element surely quite foreign to the simply chronological context), informing the reader who may not be acquainted with the actual state of the case, that Annas was primarily and properly high priest, and next to him Caiaphas also. But according to Acts 4:6 , Luke himself must have had this view, so that it must be conceded as a result that this expression is erroneous , an error which, as it sprang from the predominating influence of Annas, was the more easily possible in proportion to the distance at which Luke stood from that time in which the high priests had changed so frequently; while Annas (whose son-in-law and five sons besides filled the office, Joseph. Antt . xx. 9. 1) was accustomed to keep his hand on the helm. To agree with the actual historical relation, Luke would have been obliged to write: ἐπὶ ἀρχιερέως Καϊάφα καὶ Ἄννα . Arbitrary shifts have been resorted to, such as: that at that period the two might have exchanged annually in the administration of the office (Beza, Chemnitz, Selden, Calovius, Hug, Friedlieb, Archäol. d. Leidensgesch . p. 73 ff.); that Annas was vicar ( סגן , Lightfoot, p. 744 f.) of the high priest (so Scaliger, Casaubon, Grotius, Lightfoot, Reland, Wolf, Kuinoel, and others, comp. de Wette), which, however, is shown to be erroneous by his name being placed first; that he is here represented as princeps Synedrii ( נשיא , Lightfoot, p. 746). So Selden, Saubert, Hammond, and recently Wieseler, Chronol. Synopse, p. 186 ff., and in Herzog’s Encykl . I. p. 354. But as ἀρχιερεύς nowhere of itself means president of the Sanhedrim , but in every case nothing else than chief priest , it can in this place especially be taken only in this signification, since ΚΑῚ ΚΑΪΆΦΑ stands alongside. If Luke had intended to say: “under the president Annas and the high priest Caiaphas,” he could not have comprehended these distinct offices, as they were at that time actually distinguished (which Selden has abundantly proved), under the one term ἈΡΧΙΕΡΈΩς . Even in Luke 22:54 , ἈΡΧΙΕΡ . is to be understood of Annas.

ἘΓΈΝΕΤΟ ῬῆΜΑ ΘΕΟῦ Κ . Τ . Λ . ] Comp. Jeremiah 1:2 ; Isaiah 38:4 f. From this, as from the following ΚΑῚ ἮΛΘΕΝ Κ . Τ . Λ . , Luke 3:3 , it is plainly manifest that Luke by his chronological statements at Luke 3:1-2 intends to fix the date of nothing else than the calling and first appearance of John , not the year of the death of Jesus (Sanclemente and many of the Fathers, who, following Luke 4:19 , comp. Isaiah 61:1 ff., erroneously ascribe to Jesus only one year of his official ministry), but also not of a second appearance of the Baptist and his imprisonment (Wieseler [70] ), or of his beheading (Schegg). The mention of the imprisonment, Luke 3:19-20 , is rather to be regarded only as a digression, as the continuance of the history proves (Luke 3:21 ). The first appearance of John, however, was important enough to have its chronology fixed, since it was regarded as the ἈΡΧῊ ΤΟῦ ΕὐΑΓΓΕΛΊΟΥ (Mark 1:1 ). It was the epoch of the commencement of the work of Jesus Himself (comp. Acts 1:22 ; Acts 10:37 ; Acts 13:24 ), and hence Luke, having arrived at this threshold of the Gospel history, Luke 3:22 , when Jesus is baptized by John, makes at this point a preliminary pause, and closes the first section of the first division of his book with the genealogical register, Luke 3:23 ff., in order to relate next the Messianic ministry of Jesus, ch. 4 ff.

[65] Also Antt . xviii. 6. 10, where σχὼν αὐτὸς τὴν ἀρχήν does not refer back to an earlier co-regency of Tiberius, so that αὐτός would be equivalent to μόνος ; but this αὐτός indicates simply a contrast betweeen him and Caius, who had been nominated his successor.

[66] In his Commentary. But in his Exeget. Handb . he acquiesces in the text as it stands, and forces upon it, contrary to the letter, the meaning: when Philip the tetrarch of Ituraea and Trachonitis was also tetrarch over Abilene of Lysanias . Thus, indeed, the former old Lysanias would also here be meant.

[67] Of whom, therefore, we have to think even in respect of the Greek inscription which Pococke ( Morgenl . II. § 177) found at Nebi Abel (the ancient Abila), and in which Lysanias is mentioned as tetrareh . Comp. Böckh, Inscr . 4521, 4523.

[68] It was situated in the region of the Lebanon, eighteen miles north from Damascus, and thirty-eight miles south from Heliopolis. Ptolem. v. 18; Anton. Itiner .; Ritter, Erdk . XV. p. 1060. To be distinguished from Abila in Decapolis, and other places of this name (Joseph, v. 1. 1; Bell . ii. 13. 2, iv. 7. 5).

[69] It is, however, altogether precarious with Lichtenstein, following Hofmann, to gather from the passage before us a proof that Luke did not write till after the destruction of Jerusalem, because, namely, after that crumbling to pieces of the Herodian territories, no further interest would be felt in discovering to whom Abilene belonged at the time of Tiberius. But why not? Not even a chronological interest?

[70] See in opposition to Wieseler, Ebrard, p. 187; Lichtenstein, p. 137 ff.

Verse 3

Luke 3:3 . See on Matthew 3:1 f.; Mark 1:4 .

περίχωρον τοῦ Ἰορδ .] Matthew and Mark have ἐν τῇ ἐρήμῳ . There is no discrepancy; for the apparent discrepancy vanishes with ἦλθε in Luke, compared with the narrative of the baptism in Matthew and Mark.

Verses 4-6

Luke 3:4-6 . See on Matthew 3:3 . Luke continues the quotation of Isaiah 40:3 down to the end of Luke 3:5 , following the LXX. freely. The appeal to this prophetic oracle was one of the commonplaces of the evangelic tradition in respect of the history of John, and betokens therefore, even in Luke, no special source; he only gives it unless a Pauline purpose is to be attributed to his words (Holtzmann) more fully than Matthew, Mark, and John (Luke 1:23 ).

In ὡς γέγραπται the same thing is implied that Matthew expresses by οὗτος γάρ ἐστιν ὁ ῥηθείς .

φάραγξ ] Ravine , Thuc. ii. 67. 4; Dem. 793. 6; Polyb. vii. 15. 8; Jdt 2:8 . This and the following particulars were types of the moral obstacles which were to be removed by the repentance demanded by John for the restoration of the people well prepared for the reception of the Messiah (Luke 1:17 ). There is much arbitrary trifling on the part of the Fathers and others in interpreting [71] the particulars of this passage.

The futures are not imperative in force, but declare what will happen in consequence of the command, ἑτοιμάσατε κ . τ . λ . Καὶ ὄψεται κ . τ . λ . ought to have guarded against the taking the expressions imperatively.

On the use of the Cyrenaic (Herod. iv. 199) word ΒΟΥΝΌς , hill , in Greek, see Schweighäuser, Lex. Herod . I. p. 125 f.; Sturz, Dial. Al . p. 154; Lobeck, ad Phryn . p. 356.

εἰς εὐθεῖαν ] scil . ὁδόν . See Lobeck, Paralip . p. 363; Winer, p. 521 [E. T. 738 f.].

αἱ τραχεῖαι ] scil . ὁδοί , from what follows, the rough, uneven ways .

λείας ] smooth . Comp. Xen. Mem . iii. 10. 1 : τὰ τραχέα καὶ τὰ λεῖα .

τὸ σωτήρ . τ . Θεοῦ ] See on Luke 2:30 . It is an addition of the LXX. The salvation of God is the Messianic salvation which will appear in and with the advent of the Messiah before all eyes ( ὄψεται πᾶσα σάρξ ). As to ΠᾶΣΑ ΣΆΡΞ , all flesh , designating men according to their need of deliverance, and pointing to the universal destination of God’s salvation, see on Acts 2:16 .

[71] Well says Grotius: “Nimirum est anxia eorum περιεργία , qui in dictis ἀλληγορουμένοις singulas partes minutatim excutiunt … cum satis sit in re tota comparationem intelligi.”

Verses 7-9

Luke 3:7-9 . See on Matthew 3:7-10 .

ὄχλοις ] Kuinoel erroneously says: “Pharisaei et Sadducaei.” See rather on Matthew 3:7 . [72]

ἐκπορ .] the present. The people are represented as still on their way.

ΟὖΝ ] since otherwise you cannot escape the wrath to come.

ΚΑῚ ΜῊ ἌΡΞΗΣΘΕ Κ . Τ . Λ . ] and begin not to think , do not allow yourselves to fancy! do not dispose yourselves to the thought! “Omnem excusationis etiam conatum praecidit,” Bengel. Bornemann explains as though the words were καὶ μὴ πάλιν (he likens it to the German expression, “das alte Lied anfangen”); and Fritzsche, ad Matth . p. 540, as if it meant καὶ μηδέ , ne quidem . Comp. also Bengel.

[72] The generalization proves nothing on behalf of Luke’s having been ignorant of our Matthew (Weiss). From such individual instances an easy argument is drawn, but with great uncertainty, especially as Luke knew and made use of a multitude of evangelistic sources of which we know nothing.

Verses 10-11

Luke 3:10-11 . Special instructions on duty as far as Luke 3:14 peculiar to Luke, and taken from an unknown source.

οὖν ] in pursuance of what was said Luke 3:7-9 .

ποιήσωμεν ] (see the critical remarks) is deliberative . On the question itself, comp. Acts 2:37 ; Acts 16:30 .

μεταδότω ] namely, a χιτών .

ὁ ἔχων βρώματα ] not: “qui cibis abundat,” Kuinoel, following older commentators. The demand of the stern preacher of repentance is greater; it is that of self-denying love , as it is perfected from the mouth of Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount.

Verses 12-13

Luke 3:12-13 . Τελῶναι ] See on Matthew 5:46 .

παρὰ τὸ διατεταγμ . ὑμῖν ] over and above what is prescribed to you (to demand in payment). See Winer, p. 215 [E. T. 300 f.]. The unrighteousness and the exactions of those who farmed the taxes are well known. See Paulus, Exeget. Handb . I. p. 353 f. On πράσσειν , to demand payment , to exact , see Blomfield, Gloss. ad Aesch. Pers . 482; Krüger, ad Xen. Anab . vii. 6. 17.

Verse 14

Luke 3:14 . Στρατευόμενοι ] those who were engaged in military service , an idea less extensive than στρατιῶται . See the passages in Wetstein. Historically, it is not to be more precisely defined. See references in regard to Jewish military service in Grotius. According to Michaelis, there were Thracians, Germans, and Galatians in the service of Herod in his war against Aretas; but this war was later, and certainly Jewish soldiers are meant. According to Ewald: soldiers who were chiefly engaged in police inspection, e.g. in connection with the customs.

καὶ ἡμεῖς ] we also . They expect an injunction similar ( καί ) to that which the publicans received.

διασείειν ] to do violence to , is used by later writers of exactions by threats and other kinds of annoyance (to lay under contribution), as concutere . Comp. 3Ma 7:21 ; see Wetstein, and Schneider, ad Xen. Mem . ii. 9. 1.

συκοφαντεῖν , in its primitive meaning, although no longer occurring in this sense, is to be a fig-shower . According to the usual view (yet see in general, Ast, ad Plat. Rep . p. 362; Westermann, ad Plut. Sol. 24), it was applied to one who denounced for punishment those who transgressed the prohibition of the export of figs from Attica. According to the actual usage, it means to denounce falsely, to traduce, and, as in this place, to be guilty of chicane . It is often thus used also in the Greek writers. See Rettig in the Stud. u. Krit . 1838, p. 775 ff.; Becker, Char . I. p. 289 ff. Πονηρὸν , πονηρὸν ὁ συκοφάντης ἀεὶ καὶ βάσκανον , Dem. 307. 23; Herbst, ad Xen. Symp . iv. 30, p. 79 f.

Verse 15

Luke 3:15 . Statement of the circumstances which elicited the following confession; although not found in Matthew and Mark, it has not been arbitrarily constructed by Luke (Weisse) in order to return again to the connection, Luke 3:9 (Hilgenfeld, Holtzmann), but was probably derived from the same source as Luke 3:10 ff., and at all events it is in keeping with the impression made by the appearance of John, and his preaching of baptism and repentance. Comp. John 1:25 , where the more immediate occasion is narrated.

προσδοκῶντος ] while the people were in expectation . The people were eagerly listening for what? This is shown in what follows, namely, for an explanation by John about himself. Comp. Acts 27:33 .

μήποτε ] whether not perchance . Comp. on Galatians 2:2 .

αὐτός ] ipse , not a third, whose forerunner then he would only be.

Verse 16

Luke 3:16 . See on Matthew 2:11 ; Mark 1:7 f.

ἀπεκρίν .] “interrogare cupientibus,” Bengel.

ἔρχεται ] placed first for emphasis.

οὗ … αὐτοῦ ] Comp. Mark 1:7 ; Mark 7:25 ; Winer, p. 134 [E. T. 183 f.].

αὐτός ] he and no other.

Verse 17

Luke 3:17 . See on Matthew 3:12 .

Verses 18-20

Luke 3:18-20 . See on Matthew 14:3 ff.; Mark 6:17 ff. On μὲν οὖν , quidem igitur , so that μέν , “rem praesentem confirmet,” and οὖν , “conclusionem ex rebus ita comparatis conficiat,” see Klotz, ad Devar . p. 662 f.

καὶ ἕτερα ] and other matters besides, different in kind from those already adduced. As to καί with πολλά , see Blomfield, ad Aesch. Pers . 249; Kühner, ad Xen. Mem . i. 2. 24; and as to ἕτερα , see on Galatians 1:7 .

εὐηγγελίζετο τ . λαόν ] he supplied the people with the glad announcement of the coming Messiah. On the construction, comp. Acts 8:25 ; Acts 8:40 ; Acts 14:21 ; Acts 16:10 ; Lobeck, ad Phryn . p. 268.

ὁ δὲ Ἡρώδης κ . τ . λ .] an historical digression in which several details are brought together in brief compass for the purpose of at once completing the delineation of John in its chief features. To that description also belonged the contrast between his work ( εὐηγγελίζ . τ . λαόν ) and his destiny . The brief intimation of Luke 3:19-20 was sufficient for this.

ἐλεγχόμενος κ . τ . λ .] See Matthew 14:3 f.

καὶ περὶ πάντων κ . τ . λ .] peculiar to Luke, but, as we gather from Mark 6:20 , essentially historical. The πονηρῶν , attracted with it, stands thus according to classical usage. See Matthiae, § 473, quoted by Dissen, ad Dem. de Cor . p. 177, 349.

ἐπὶ πᾶσι ] to all his wicked deeds.

καὶ κατέκλεισε ] simplicity in the style is maintained at the expense of the syntax (Kühner, § 720).

ἐν τῇ φυλακῇ ] in the prison , whither he had brought him. Comp. Acts 26:10 ; Herodian, v. 8. 12, and elsewhere; Xen. Cyrop . vi. 4. 10.

Verses 21-22

Luke 3:21-22 . See on Matthew 3:13-17 ; Mark 1:9-11 .

ἐγένετο δὲ κ . τ . λ .] resumes the thread dropped at Luke 3:18 in order to add another epitomized narrative, namely, that of the baptism of Jesus.

ἐν τῷ βαπτισθῆναι κ . τ . λ .] Whilst [73] the assembled people (an hyperbolical expression) were being baptized, it came to pass when Jesus also ( καί ) was baptized and was praying, the heaven was opened, etc. The entire people was therefore present (in opposition to Kuinoel, Krabbe, and others). The characteristic detail, ΚΑῚ ΠΡΟΣΕΥΧ . , is peculiar to Luke.

ΣΩΜΑΤΙΚῷ ΕἼΔΕΙ ὩΣΕῚ ΠΕΡΙΣΤ . ] so that He appeared as a bodily dove. See, moreover, on Matthew.

[73] Bleek is in error (following de Wette) when he translates: when He was baptized . See Luke 2:27 , Luke 8:40 , Luke 9:36 , Luke 11:37 , Luke 14:1 , Luke 19:15 , Luke 24:30 ; in general, Buttmann, Neut. Gr . p. 226 f. [E. T. 264].

Verse 23

Luke 3:23 . Αὐτός ] as Matthew 3:4 : He Himself , to whom this divine σημεῖον , Luke 3:22 , pointed.

ἦν ὡσεὶ ἐτῶν τριάκοντα ἀρχόμενος ] He was about thirty years of age (comp. Luke 2:42 ; Mark 5:42 ), when He made the beginning , [74] viz. of His Messianic office. This limitation of the meaning of ἈΡΧΌΜΕΝΟς results from Luke 3:22 , in which Jesus is publicly and solemnly announced by God as the Messiah. So Origen, Euthymius Zigabenus, Jansen, Er. Sehmid, Spanheim, Calovius, Clericus, Wolf, Bengel, Griesbach (in Velthusen, Comment . I. p. 358), Kuinoel, Anger ( Tempor. rat . p. 19), de Wette, Baumgarten-Crusius, Ewald, Hengstenberg, Bleek, and others. With the reception of his baptismal consecration, Jesus entered on the commencement of His destined ministry. Comp. Mark 1:1 ; Acts 1:21 f., Luke 10:37 . The interpretation given by others: “Incipiebat autem Jesus annorum esse fere triginta,” Castalio (so Luther, Erasmus, Beza, Vatablus, and many more), could only be justified either by the original running: ἤρξατο εἶναι ὡσεὶ ἐτῶν τριάκοντα , or ἮΝ ὩΣΕῚ ἜΤΟΥς ΤΡΙΑΚΟΣΤΟῦ ἈΡΧΌΜΕΝΟς . It is true that Grotius endeavours to fortify himself in this interpretation by including in the clause the following ὬΝ , so that ἌΡΧΟΜΑΙ ὪΝ ἘΤῶΝ ΤΡΙΆΚΟΝΤΑ might mean: incipio jam esse tricenarius . But even if ἦν … ὤν be conjoined in Greek usage (see Bornemann, ad Xen. Cyr . ii. 3. 13, p. 207, Leipzig), how clumsy would be the expression ἦν ἀρχόμενος ὤν , incipiebat esse! and, according to the arrangement of the words, quite intolerable. Even ἐρχόμενος has been conjectured (Casaubon).

ὤν ] belongs to ΥἹῸς ἸΩΣΉΦ , and Ὡς ἘΝΟΜΊΖΕΤΟ , as he was considered ( ὡς ἐδόκει τοῖς Ἰουδαίοις · ὡς γὰρ ἡ ἀλήθεια εἶχεν , οὐκ ἦν υἱὸς αὐτοῦ , Euthymius Zigabenus), is a parenthesis. Paulus, who connects ὬΝ with ἈΡΧΌΜ . , explains: according to custom (Jesus did not begin His ministry sooner). Comp. on Acts 16:13 . It is true the connecting of the two participles ἀρχόμενος ὤν would not in itself be ungrammatical (see Pflugk, ad Hec. 358); but this way of looking at the matter is altogether wrong, because, in respect of the appearance of the Messiah , there could be no question of a custom at all, and the fixing of the age of the Levites (Numbers 4:3 ; Numbers 4:47 ), which, moreover, was not a custom, but a law , has nothing to do with the appearance of a prophet, and especially of the Messiah. Comp. further, on ὡς ἐνομίζ ., Dem. 1022. 16 : ΟἹ ΝΟΜΙΖΌΜΕΝΟΙ ΜῈΝ ΥἹΕῖς , ΜῊ ὌΝΤΕς ΔῈ ΓΈΝΕΙ ἘΞ ΑὐΤῶΝ , and the passages in Wetstein. Others (quoted by Wolf, and Wolf himself, Rosenmüller, Osiander) refer ὬΝ to ΤΟῦ ἩΛΊ : existens ( cum putaretur filius Josephi ) filius , i.e. nepos Eli . So also Schleyer in the Theol. Quartalschr . 1836, p. 540 ff. Even Wieseler (in the Stud. u. Krit . 1845, p. 361 ff.) has condescended in like manner (comp. Lightfoot, p. 750) to the desperate expedient of exegetically making it out to be a genealogical tree of Mary thus: “ being a son, as it was thought, of Joseph ( but, in fact, of Mary ), of Eli ,” etc. Wieseler supports his view by the fact that he reads, with Lachmann and Tischendorf, ὡς ἐνομίζ . after υἱός (B L א ), and on weaker evidence reads before ἸΩΣΉΦ the ΤΟῦ which is now again deleted even by Tischendorf. But as, in respect of the received arrangement of Ὡς ἘΝΟΜ . , it is only the ὪΝ ΥἹῸς ἸΩΣΉΦ , and nothing more (in opposition to Bengel), that is marked out as coming under the Ὡς ἘΝΟΜΊΖΕΤΟ , so also is it in the arrangement of Lachmann (only that the latter actually brings into stronger prominence the supposed filial relationship to Joseph); and if τοῦ is read before Ἰωσήφ , no change even in that case arises in the meaning. [75] For it is not ΥἹΌς that would have to be supplied in every following clause, so that Jesus should be designated as the son of each of the persons named, even up to τοῦ Θεοῦ inclusively (so Lightfoot, Bengel), but ΥἹΟῦ (after ΤΟῦ ), as the nature of the genealogical table in itself presents it, [76] making τοῦ Θεοῦ also dogmatically indubitable; since, according to Luke’s idea of the divine sonship of Jesus, it could not occur to him to represent this divine sonship as having been effected through Adam . No; if Luke had thought what Wieseler reads between the lines in Luke 3:23 , that, namely, Eli was Mary’s father, he would have known how to express it, and would have written something like this: ὢν , ὡς μὲν ἐνομίζετο , υἱὸς Ἰωσὴφ , ὄντως (Luke 23:47 , Luke 24:34 ) δὲ Μαρίας τοῦ Ἡλί κ . τ . λ . But he desires to give the genealogy of Jesus on the side of His foster-father Joseph : therefore he writes simply as we read, and as the fact that he wished to express required. As to the originally Ebionitic point of view of the genealogies in Matthew and Luke, see on Matthew 1:17 , Remark 3.

[74] So also Paulus, only that, after the example of Calvisius, he further attaches ὤν to ἀρχόμενος , in which case, however, it would be useless, and the subsequent genealogy would be without any connecting link. Wieseler, Chronol. Synops . p. 125, placing ἀρχόμενος before ὡσεί (so Lachmann in the margin and Tischendorf), explains: “and he was namely, Jesus when He began about thirty years of age.” Therefore in the most essential point his view is in agreement with ours.

[75] This indifferent τοῦ came into the text with extreme facility, in accordance with the analogy of all the following clauses.

[76] Instances of a quite similar kind of stringing on the links of a genealogy one after the other by τοῦ are found in Herod. iv. 157, vii. 204, viii. 131, and others in Wetstein. The Vulgate is right in simply reading, “filius Joseph, qui fait Heli, qui fuit Matthat,” etc.


All attempts to fix the year in which Jesus was born by means of the passage before us are balked by the ὡσεί of Luke 3:23 . Yet the era of Dionysius bases its date, although incorrectly (754 after the foundation of Rome), on Luke 3:1 ; Luke 3:23 . Hase, L. J. § 26, follows it, setting aside, because of its mythical associations, the account of Matthew, that the first childhood of Jesus occurred as early as the time of the reign of Herod the Great. But these legendary ingredients do not justify our rejecting a date fixed by a simple reference to the history of the time, for it is rather to be regarded as the nucleus around which the legend gathered. As, however, Herod died in 750 (Anger, Rat. tempor . p. 5 f.; Wieseler, Chronol. Synopse , p. 50 ff.), the era of Dionysius is at any rate at least about four years in error. If, further, it be necessary, according to this, to place the birth of Jesus before the death of Herod, which occurred in the beginning of April, then, even on the assumption that He was born as early as 750 (according to Wieseler, in February of that year), it follows that at the time when the Baptist, who was His senior only by a few months, appeared according to Luke 3:1 , in the year from the 19th August 781 to 782

He would be about thirty-one years of age, which perfectly agrees with the ὡσεί of Luke 3:23 , and the round number τριάκοντα ; in which case it must be assumed as certain (comp. Mark 1:9 ) that He was baptized very soon after the appearance of John, at which precise point His Messianic ἀρχή commenced. If, however, as according to Matthew 2:7 ; Matthew 2:16 is extremely probable, the birth of Jesus must be placed as early as perhaps a year before the date given above, [77] even the age that thus results of about thirty-two years is sufficiently covered by the indefinite statement of the passage before us; and the year 749 as the year of Christ’s birth tallies well enough with the Baptist beginning to preach in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius. [78]

[77] Not “ at least two years , probably even four or more years,” Keim, D. geschichtl. Christus , p. 140.

[78] From the fact that, according to the evangelists, Jesus after His baptism began His public official ministry without the intervention of any private teaching, the opinion of the younger Bunsen ( The Hidden Wisdom of Christ , etc., London 1865, II. p. 461 ff.) that the Lord, at the beginning of His official career, was forty-six years of age loses all foundation: It rests upon the misunderstanding of John 2:20 f., John 8:57 , which had already occurred in the case of Irenaeus. See, on the other hand, Rösch in the Jahrb. f. Deutsche Theol . 1866, p. 4 ff. The assumption of the latter, that the year 2 before the era of Dionysius was the year of Christ’s birth, rests in accordance with ancient tradition, to be sure, yet on the very insecure foundation of the appearance of the star in the history of the Magi, and on distrust of the chronology of Herod and his sons as set forth by Josephus, for which Rösch has not adduced sufficient reasons.

Verse 27

Luke 3:27 . Τοῦ Ζοροβάβελ , τοῦ Σαλαθιήλ ] The objection that in this place Luke, although giving the line of David through Nathan, still introduces the same two celebrated names, and at about the same period as does Matthew 1:12 , is not arbitrarily to be got rid of. The identity of these persons has been denied (so, following older commentators, Paulus, Olshausen, Osiander, Wieseler, Bleek), or a levirate marriage has been suggested as getting quit of the difficulty (so, following older commentators, Ebrard, who says that Matthew mentions the legal, Luke the natural father of Salathiel), or it has been supposed (so Hofmann, Weissag. u. Erfüll . II. p. 37) that Salathiel adopted Zerubbabel. But the less reliance can be placed on such arbitrary devices in proportion as historical warranty as to details is wanting in both the divergent genealogies, although they both profess to give a genealogy of Joseph . The attempt to reconcile the two must be given up. It is otherwise in respect of the names Amos and Nahum , Luke 3:25 , which cannot be identified with the well-known prophets, and in respect of the names Levi, Simeon, Juda, Joseph , Luke 3:29-30 , which cannot be identified with the sons of Jacob, as (in opposition to B. Bauer) is shown by the great difference of time.

Verse 36

Luke 3:36 . Τοῦ Καϊνάν ] In Genesis 10:24 ; Genesis 11:12 ; 1 Chronicles 1:24 . Shalach ( שָׁלַה ) is named as the son of Arphaxad. But the genealogy follows the LXX. in Gen. (as above); and certainly the name of Kenan also originally stood in Genesis, although the author of 1 Chronicles may not have read it in his copy of Genesis. See Bertheau on 1 Chron. p. 6.


The genealogy in Luke , who, moreover, in accordance with his Pauline universalism carries on the genealogical line up to Adam, is appropriately inserted at this point , just where the Messianic consecration of Jesus and the commencement therewith made of His ministry are related. Hence, also, the genealogy is given in an ascending line, as Luke did not intend, like Matthew, to begin his Gospel just at the birth of Jesus, but went much further back and started with the conception and birth of the Baptist; so in Luke the proper and, in so far as the historical connection was concerned, the right place for the genealogy could not have been, as in Matthew, at the beginning of the Gospel. Comp. Köstlin, p. 306.

In its contents the genealogy is extremely different from that in Matthew, since from Joseph to David, Luke has far more and almost throughout different links in the genealogy; since Matthew gives the line of Solomon, while Luke gives that of Nathan (2 Samuel 5:14 ; 1 Chronicles 3:5 ), although he introduces into it from the former Σαλαθιήλ and Ζοροβάβελ . Seeking in several ways to get rid of this last-mentioned difficulty (see on Luke 3:27 ), many have assumed that Matthew gives the genealogy of Joseph, while Luke gives that of Mary . To reconcile this with the text, τοῦ Ἡλί has been taken to mean: the son-in-law of Eli , as, following many older commentators (Luther, also Chemnitz, Calovius, Bengel), Paulus, Olshausen, Krabbe, Ebrard, Riggenbach, Bisping, and others will have it; but this, according to the analogy of the rest of the links in the chain, is quite impossible. The attempt has been made to connect with this the hypothesis of Epiphanius, Grotius, Michaelis, and others, that Mary was an heiress , whose husband must therefore have belonged to the same family, and must have had his name inscribed in their family register (Michaelis, Olshausen); but this hypothesis itself, while it is equally objectionable in being arbitrary, and in going too far in its application, leaves the question altogether unsolved whether the law of the heiress was still in force at that time (see on Matthew 1:17 , Rem. 2), even apart from the fact that Mary’s Davidic descent is wholly without proof, and extremely doubtful. See on Luke 1:36 , Luke 2:4 . Another evasion, with a view to the appropriation of the genealogy to Mary , as well as that of Wieseler, is already refuted [79] at Luke 3:23 . See also Bleek, Beitr . p. 101 f.

Hence the conclusion must be maintained, that Luke also gives the genealogy of Joseph . But if this be so, how are we to reconcile the genealogy with that given in Matthew? It has been supposed that Joseph was adopted (Augustine, de consens. evangel . Luke 2:3 ; Wetstein, Schegg), or more usually, that he sprang from a levirate marriage (Julius Africanus in Eusebius, H. E. i. 7), so that Matthew adduces his natural father Jacob, while Luke adduces his legal father Eli (Julius Africanus, Theophylact, Euthymius Zigabenus, Augustine), or vice versâ (Ambrosius, Grotius, Wetstein, Schleiermacher). But what a complication this hypothesis, in itself quite arbitrary, involves! In this way Eli and Jacob must be taken to be mere half-brothers , because they have different fathers and forefathers! So in respect of Salathiel’s mother, we must once more call in the help of a levirate marriage, and represent Neri and Jechonia as in like manner half-brothers! In addition to this, the obligation to the levirate marriage for the half-brother is not authenticated, and the importing of the natural father into the legal genealogy was illegal; finally, we may make the general remark, that neither Matthew nor Luke adds any observation at all in citing the name of Joseph’s father, to call attention to any other than the ordinary physical paternal relationship. No; the reconciliation of the two genealogical registers, although they both refer to Joseph, is impossible; but it is very natural and intelligible that, as is usual in the case of great men, whose descent in its individual steps is obscure, no anxiety was felt to investigate his ancestry until long after the death of Jesus until the living presence of his great manifestation and ministry no longer threw into the shade this matter of subordinate interest. The genealogical industry of the Jewish Christians had collected from tradition and from written documents several registers, which, appearing independently of one another, must have given very different results, as far back as David, in consequence of the obscurity of Joseph’s genealogy. The first evangelist adopted a genealogy in accordance with the David-Solomon line; but Luke adopted a totally different one, following the David-Nathan line. [80] But that Luke, as a matter of fact, rejected the genealogy of Matthew, is according to Luke 1:3 to be regarded as a result of his later inquiries, as in general the great and irreconcilable divergence of his preliminary history from that of Matthew suggests the same conclusion. Only the motives of his decision are so completely unknown to us, that to concede to his genealogy the preference (v. Ammon, L. J . I. p. 179) remains unsafe, although the derivation of the Davidic descent of Jesus from the Nathan (therefore not the royal) line presupposes an investigation, in consequence of which the derivation of that descent through Solomon , which doubtless had first presented itself, was abandoned in the interest of rectification (according to Köstlin, indeed, in the Ebionitic interest, in opposition to the royal line stained with crime, and in opposition to worldly royalty in general).

As the genealogy in Matthew is arranged in accordance with a significant numerical relation (three times fourteen), a similar relation is also recognisable in the genealogy by Luke (eleven times seven), even although no express reference is made to it. See already Basil. M. III. p. 399 C.

[79] That Eli was the father of Mary is also inferred by Delitzsch on Hebr. p. 290, who suggests that after the premature death of his father Jacob, Joseph was adopted, namely, by this Eli as his foster son, and brought up along with Mary; that thus, therefore, Eli was Joseph’s foster father, but Mary’s actual father. What groundless devices! And yet the passage itself is “as simple as possible until we want to force it to say what it does not say,” Hofmann, Schriftbew . II. 1, p. 112.

[80] This variation in the Davidic descent of the Messiah occurs also in the later Jewish theology. See Delitzsch in the Zeitschr. f. Luth. Theol . 1860, 3, p. 460 f.

Bibliographical Information
Meyer, Heinrich. "Commentary on Luke 3". Meyer's Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/hmc/luke-3.html. 1832.
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