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Bible Commentaries
Luke 4

Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New TestamentsSutcliffe's Commentary

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Verses 1-44

Luke 4:2 . Being tempted forty days he afterward hungered. During this space he lived like Moses on the mount, conversing with the Father in all the glories of his kingdom. His humanity was renovated, the glory of the only begotten shone through all his person. He was here prepared in body and in mind for the godlike sphere in which he was called to move, and in which he developed his character to be what the demons called him, the Holy One of God. Young men entering on the ministry should meditate on the Saviour’s example, but not by a sham fast of forty days.

Luke 4:5 . The devil taking him to a high mountain. Obadiah adverted to a case in which Elijah had been carried away by the Spirit of the Lord. 1 Kings 18:12. Another like case occurred to Philip. Acts 8:40.

Luke 4:13 . The devil departed for a season, waiting a fit opportunity to return to the charge. That occurred especially when he found Judas, a willing instrument to betray his Lord.

Luke 4:16 . He came to Nazareth where he had been brought up; and a prophet is not without honour save in his own country, as stated on Mark 6:4.

Luke 4:17 . There was delivered unto him the book of the prophet Esaias. After the reading of the law and the prophets, the rulers of the synagogue at Antioch desired Paul and his colleagues to speak to the people. Acts 13:15. The law, comprising the five books of Moses, was divided into fifty four parashoth or sections, one for every sabbath in the year; and by reading two parashoth on convenient times they read the law once a year, besides short portions in others parts of the service.

After Ezra’s time, and when new editions of the scriptures had been made, and when the profane Antiochus had forbidden the reading of the law, the rabbins contrived to read the prophets, which continued ever after in the public service. It is likely therefore, when they handed our Saviour the book of the prophets, that the law and the usual service had been read, and that he was called upon to expound impromptu, as above, in the synagogue of Antioch. After opportunely reading Isaiah 61:1-3, “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me,” he, full of wisdom, full of grace, expounded this most appropriate prophecy to the admiration of all who were well- disposed. But this applause was insupportable to the rulers; and as there had existed already a jealousy and murmuring in the town, that Jesus should perform distinguished miracles in other cities, and slight his own friends, they most invidiously availed themselves of it to ask, as in the next words:

Luke 4:22 . Is not this Joseph’s son? The pride of the rulers could not brook the Saviour’s popularity; they saw the people pay him a reverence never shown to them. They asked for miracles with contempt and unbelief. Nay, their indignation boiled to thoughts of murder; the vociferations were, throw him over the precipice. Envy is a worm of the genus of serpents. How many aged ministers have I seen, in my extensive knowledge of the religious world, so envious at the popularity of young men called to help them, that they have ruined themselves by seeking to degrade and slander them, instead of rejoicing over them as sons in the gospel, and as the hopes of the church.

Luke 4:23-27 . Ye will surely say to me Physician, heal thyself. But I tell you the truth, the truth out of your own scriptures; it was the Spirit that led me in course to other towns; and what can prophets do against the Spirit of the Lord? In the time of drought, there were many widows in Israel; yet Elijah was sent to feed a poor gentile widow of Zarepta, a city of Sidonia. Likewise, there were many lepers in Israel in the days of Elisha, yet none of them were cleansed, save Naaman the Syrian. Your absolute claims of grace and exclusive privileges are unauthorized, even by your greatest prophets.

Luke 4:28-30 . And all they in the synagogue were filled with wrath. Nathaniel’s question, Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth, is no encomium on the moral state of that town. And now the demon appeared the moment their presumption met with a fair and just rebuke. The Saviour, regardless of their anger, boldly declared the truth. In their fury against him, they made no calculation on the consequences of imbruing their hands in the blood of a prophet. They sought to take and destroy him, but he walked securely through the crowd; the majesty of his presence paralyzed their arm. He called for no visitations on the town, the loss of grace and mercy was no small punishment.

Luke 4:31 . He came down to Capernaum, called in Hebrew Caphar Carnaim, or village Carnaim; a town of Galilee, near the sea of Galilee, now populous, and mostly inhabited by gentiles.

Luke 4:32 . His word was with power. The officers of the temple said, never man spake like this man. When he talked of divine things, he talked of his own things: all was nature, all was ease, the sweetness of heaven accompanied his words. In simplicity, he surpassed the flowery prophets. His comments on the law were luminous and conclusive. His figures were the eloquence of nature, and most instructive in character. His climaxes, (as in the beatitudes, and in the questions, what went ye out into the wilderness to see; a reed, a courtier, a prophet, more than a prophet) are the perfection of beauty. In parable, his narration was simple, and all his portraits left their image behind. In disputations, he was conclusive, and covered sophistry with silence. When he struck at vice, his words were clothed with majesty; but when he reproved the sins of the sanctuary, his sword was doubly sharp. To no class of men did he ever concede the truths of God, nor did he ever temporize with the wicked. His heart spoke with his voice, varying his tones with his subject, while his aspect confirmed all his words. In fine, he so spake, and so lived, as to say to all, Learn of me. He surpassed all prophets and all apostles in eloquence, because he surpassed them in simplicity.

Luke 4:33-35 . In the synagogue there was a man which bad a spirit of an unclean devil. Greek, a demon. And Jesus rebuked him, saying, hold thy peace. The paroxysm into which the man was thrown, and the horror of his language were the proofs of demoniacy. The Lord rebuked and ejected this unclean demon, and would not receive a confession of faith from an unclean spirit. See on Matthew 4:13. Mark 1:21.


The opening of our Saviour’s ministry was full of grace, full of glory, full of power. Let us follow him like the crowds, and in courses of daily reading see the days of the Son of man. The cloud of his presence watered every city whither he went. The hand of faith gathered harvests of gleanings from his gracious words and wonderous works. The little town of Nazareth formed the only exception. There, like our socinians, they knew Christ after the flesh. But now, says Paul, we know him no more after the flesh, the touch of our infirmity being swallowed up of glory.

While Christ and the gospel were rejected at Nazareth, we see the truth embraced by many in Capernaum. Here, and in the vicinity, he taught for several sabbaths. Yea, and gave the people proof of what the gospel would do for their souls, by what his power did for the poor demoniac. He walked with dignity from the tumult at Nazareth, but his departure from Capernaum was an escape from the bonds of love; he forced himself away to preach to other cities. Let us, like the two disciples at Emmaus; press him to stay with us, and to leave a blessing behind. The Saviour’s presence is alike the rest and the joy of the church.

Bibliographical Information
Sutcliffe, Joseph. "Commentary on Luke 4". Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jsc/luke-4.html. 1835.
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