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Bible Commentaries

Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments

Luke 3

Verses 1-38

Luke 3:1 . In the fifteenth year of Tiberius Cæsar. St. Luke begins this chapter in a scientific manner; he speaks as a man of letters, and gives posterity a chronological record. Pontius Pilate had been governor, or as some call him only procurator of Judea, but one or two years, when the word of the Lord came to John.

Herod the great, tetrarch of Galilee. From this title it would seem that he held four provinces under his government.

Philip, tetrarch of Iturea and Trachonitis; that is, from the sea of Galilee, to the foot of mount Lebanon, comprising Galilee of the gentiles, and the region beyond JorDaniel Lysanias the tetrarch of Abilene, a considerable country of Cœlo-Syria, between Lebanon and little Lebanon. Abila, now Bellinas, was its capital. The river Chrysorrhoas flowed through the centre of the country. Coins have been found with the name Abila. The Greeks, from the adjacent white rocks, called it Leucadia. Those four governments comprised the Roman dominions in all Syria.

Luke 3:2 . Caiaphas being the sagon, or acting highpriest, for Annas was then alive. The word of God came to John, a manifestation of mercy worthy of the exactest record. The next seven verses are much the same as in Matthew 3:0.

Luke 3:11 . He that hath two coats, let him impart to him that hath none. Sinners should begin to ask mercy by first showing mercy. From many traits of ancient history we gather, that the poor in primitive society were half naked. Hence the law of not keeping a pledge over night, it being the only covering of a poor labourer. Deuteronomy 24:12-13.

Luke 3:12-13 . Then came the publicans, and said unto him, Master, what shall we do? And he said, exact no more than that which is appointed. The officers of the revenue in those times, added as much to the tax as the tax itself, for the expense and trouble of collecting. A French traveller in Egypt mentions the case of a woman whose gleanings and winter food in a sack of wheat being carried off for taxes, who in sore anguish dashed her infant out of her arms on the stones, and killed it dead on the spot.

Luke 3:14 . The soldiers likewise and John said, do violence to no man. The Romans governed chiefly by military force; intimidation was the principal argument. Military men should be protectors, not oppressors of their country. Thus John exalted the vallies, and levelled the moral mountains that stood in the way.

Luke 3:21 . When all the people were baptized Jesus being also baptized, prayed. Matthew 3:15. He came to fulfil all righteousness; he came with a final blessing above all the expectations of John, and of his people, and manifested forth his glory.

Luke 3:36 . The son of Cainan. The name of this progenitor is in the LXX, but not in the Hebrew text. Eusebius however retains it in his chronological canon, and St. Luke must have found it in the early gospels to which he had access. The LXX read, “Arphaxad lived one hundred and thirty five years, and begat Cainan: and Cainan lived one hundred and thirty and five years, and begat Salah.” Genesis 11:12-13. From the exact number of a hundred and thirty five years in both those patriarchs, before the reigning prince was born, it is contended that Cainan is but a surname of the same person. Be that as it may, learned men very much adhere to the chronology of the LXX, notwithstanding the derangement it makes in the Hebrew chronology. Unless the years which the LXX give to Cainan be admitted, the time allowed from the deluge of Noah to the inundation of Ogyges can never be explained.

Luke 3:38 . Adam, which was the son of God. He was justly so called, because though a creature, he had neither father nor mother, but was the immediate production of the great Creator. Being thus the son of God, he was heir and lord of all the earth. All living beings were put under his power, and were caused to revere a presence superior to all their affinities.


How indulgent is divine providence, to give us by sacred history a glance into ages past. We see the origin of man, while the poor Indian knows little beyond his grandfather. All other events he confounds in one dense cloud of obscurity. They happened, he supposes, ten thousand moons ago. Our Saxon chiefs, in attempting to go back like the Trojans to the Dardanian race, can name only four generations, and then declare that their great grandfather was the son of Odin. No doubt, we are nobly descended, our first father being the son of God. But the Hebrew chronology does more. It shows us the reign of grace, the covenant care of heaven over the church; that Messiah was the son of David, according to the flesh, but declared the Son of God with power when he raised him from the dead. It shows us the opening of the divine good-pleasure, in sending a herald to presede the Saviour in the spirit and power of Elijah. All those disclosures of the divine counsel were the developement of the mystery hid in ages past.

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Bibliographical Information
Sutcliffe, Joseph. "Commentary on Luke 3". Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments. 1835.