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LUKE CHAPTER 4
Luke 4:1-13 Christ fasts forty days, and is tempted of the devil.
Luke 4:14,Luke 4:15 He begins to preach.
Luke 4:16-32 The people of Nazareth wonder at his gracious words, but being offended go about to kill him: he escapeth by miracle.
Luke 4:33-37 He casteth out a devil,
Luke 4:38-39 healeth Simeon’s mother-in-law,
Luke 4:40 and many other diseased persons.
Luke 4:41 The devils acknowledging him are silenced.
Luke 4:42-44 He preacheth through the cities of Galilee.
By the Holy Ghost here is to be understood the gifts of the Holy Ghost, according to the prophecy of him, Isaiah 11:1,Isaiah 11:2. The gifts of the Holy Spirit are often in holy writ called the Spirit, Acts 2:4; Acts 8:18; Acts 10:44; and not only those that are influenced with the saving gifts and graces of the Spirit, are said to have the Spirit, and be filled; but those who received the more extraordinary powers of it, such as the gifts of prophecy, healing, &c. Others besides Christ are in Scripture said to be filled with the Spirit, Acts 6:5; and it was so prophesied concerning John, Luke 1:15. But they had but their measure; to Christ the Spirit was given not by measure, John 3:34.
He returned from Jordan: there John baptized, there Christ was baptized by him.
And was led by the Spirit into the wilderness. Ηγετο saith Luke. ’Aνηχθη saith Matthew. Mark expresses it by the word εκβαλλει. The words do not signify a violent motion, (for without doubt Christ went willingly), but a potent and efficacious motion.
See Poole on "Matthew 4:2", and following verses to Matthew 4:4.
See Poole on "Matthew 4:3-4". It is very observable, that Christ here asserts the authority of the Scriptures; and though he was full of the Holy Ghost, yet maketh the Holy Scripture his rule of action.
See Poole on "Matthew 4:8-10". Those words, Luke 4:6,
for that is delivered unto me; and to whomsoever I will I give it, are only mentioned by Luke; where we may observe, that the devil was a liar from the beginning. The dominion over the things of the world was not given to the angels, but to man. Neither hath he any such power as he pretends to, being not able to do any thing against Job till he had obtained leave from God, nor to enter into the swine without licence first obtained from Christ.
See Poole on "Matthew 4:5-7". What Matthew calls the holy city, Luke expoundeth Jerusalem.
Matthew saith, the devil left him, and, behold, angels came and ministered unto Him. Luke saith, he departed from him for a season, when he had ended all the temptation. Those words, for a season, seem to intimate that our Saviour had further conflicts with the devil than are here mentioned; and possibly those words, all the temptation, may hint us, that the devil offered more temptations than the evangelist have recorded, though some affirm that all temptations fall under those which are the heads of these temptations, and think those words,
for a season, signify until the time of his passion, when he entered into the heart of Judas, and armed all his instruments against this Captain of our salvation.
Both Matthew and Mark make the occasion of our Saviour’s going into Galilee to be his hearing that John was cast into prison. But certainly Matthew and Mark speak of a second going into Galilee, and mean by it Galilee of the Gentiles, which was in the jurisdiction of Philip, the brother of Herod Antipas. Else one might admire, why Christ should go into Galilee upon hearing that John was cast into prison; that had been for him to have thrown himself into Herod’s mouth, before that his time of suffering was come; but it should seem that after his temptations, he first went to Capernaum, where he did not stay many days, John 2:12, and then to Nazareth, which was his own country. But others think that all the evangelists speak of a second going into Galilee, which I cannot agree if Nazareth were within that Galilee which was called the Lower Galilee, and was within the jurisdiction of Herod Antipas, who was the tetrarch of Galilee, and the man that had imprisoned John, and afterwards caused him to be beheaded.
And he taught in their synagogues: he had the reputation of a prophet, which procured him that liberty of speaking in all those places, where the Jews celebrated their public worship;
being glorified, that is, admired and honoured, of all.
We heard before, Luke 2:39,Luke 2:51, that Christ was brought up at Nazareth; we read of him at Nazareth, Matthew 13:54. But I must confess I doubt whether Matthew there, and Luke here, speak of the same time. Of the nature of the Jewish synagogues, and their order of worship there, and the reading of the Scriptures in them, we have spoken before in our notes on Matthew 4:23. See Poole on "Matthew 4:23".
The words differ in some things from the words of the prophet out of which they are quoted, Isaiah 61:1, where is nothing of recovering of sight to the blind; but they exactly agree with the Septuagint version, only, Luke 4:19, they have καλεσαι, to call, and Luke hath κηρυξαι, to preach, according to which probably the copies of the Septuagint in use with them were. It was their manner in the synagogues for the minister (an officer appointed to that purpose, see Luke 4:20) to bring the book of the law or of the prophets which was to be read, and to deliver it to him that officiated for that time, who, when he had read, redelivered it to the same officer to be laid up. Their writers tell us, that the books of Moses were divided into several portions, which they were tied to read in order; but for the books of the prophets, he that officiated was more at liberty to read in what place and proportion he pleased. Our Lord readeth Isaiah 61:1, which, according to the Septuagint copy, was as Luke here translated; and by the way, this custom of the writers of the New Testament, (writing in Greek), to quote texts out of the Old Testament, very often according to that Septuagint translation, may, first, give us some account of the difficulty we met with Luke 3:1-38, where Sala was made the son of Cainan, and the grandchild of Arphaxad, whereas Moses mentions no Cainan, Genesis 11:1-32 Luke, taking the quotation of the Septuagint, might put it in according to them, for they have it in Genesis 11:12. Secondly, it may learn us not to be too curious as to minute things in Scripture, for had it been a thing of moment, the Holy Spirit of God had certainly never suffered Luke to write after their copy, either there or here. God never had a church in any place, but he soon stirred up some to make an interpretation of the Scriptures for their use, and so far assisted them, that though they might differ from the Hebrew text, or the Greek, in some minute things, yet they differed not in any thing of moment necessary for us to know and believe in order to salvation. And the frequent quotations we have in the New Testament out of the Septuagint, incline us to think that it is the will of God, that particular persons in churches should make use of such versions, and take them for the Holy Scriptures, not lightly and ordinarily varying from them; the translating of Scriptures, being not an ordinary ministerial gift, but the work of some stirred up by God unto it, and whom he more than ordinarily so assists, as that they have not erred in any momentous thing. If this may be admitted, we need not lay the fault upon those who transcribed Luke’s copy. But let us come to the text itself.
The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me. Anointing may signify two things:
1. The endowment of the person with gifts and abilities fit for his work. Thus, 1 John 2:27, the anointing is said to teach us all things; and Christ is said, Psalms 45:7; Hebrews 1:9, to be anointed with the oil of gladness above his fellows, which the Baptist seemeth to interpret, John 3:34, God giveth not the Spirit by measure unto him.
2. Anointing also was a symbol of God’s calling out and sending a person to the execution of an office, 2 Kings 9:6.
3. I find also anointing used as a symbol of God’s purpose and designation of a person to an employment, to the performance of which he did not presently call him; thus David was anointed, 1 Samuel 16:13.
the Spirit of the Lord is upon me, I conceive is meant, exciting and quickening Christ to the present execution of that office to which God had anointed him; that is:
1. Of old designed him;
2. Fitted him, giving him the Spirit not by measure;
3. Now called him to the exercise of it: and because the Lord had so designed him, so prepared, and now so called him, the Spirit now excited and quickened him.
God stirreth up none to take upon them the office of the ministry, whom he hath not fitted with gifts for the discharge of it. But what was this employment to which Christ was anointed? ευαγγελιζεσθαι, to preach the gospel to the poor. This was the great work of our Lord and Saviour, to preach. And what? The gospel, the glad tidings of salvation. To whom? ητωχοις: it is used to signify those that are mean in the world, and, by a figure, those that are miserable and afflicted; and this I should take to be the sense here, in conformity to that other phrase which our Saviour useth to John’s disciples, Matthew 6:5, and to that of the apostle, 1 Corinthians 1:27. Christ was first sent to the lost sheep of the house of Israel, who were all at this time in a poor afflicted state and condition, and amongst them chiefly to the meaner sort. The rulers believed not on him, John 7:48; to teach ministers what Erasmus saith, Nulla nobis anima vilis videri debet, pro qua Dominus gloriae mori non est dedignatus, That they are too proud that despise the poor, and that we ought not to count any soul vile for which he who was the Lord of glory disdained not to die: we may add, to which the great Minister of the circumcision took himself to be anointed to preach.
I had rather thus understand it, than of such as are poor in spirit; which seem to be understood in the next words, he hath sent me to heal the broken hearted, whether wounded in the sense of sin, or melted in the sense of mercy: the whole hearted are such as see no need of repentance, no need of a Saviour; Christ came not to heal these; The whole need not a physician.
It followeth, to preach deliverance to the captives; to let them know, that are yet slaves to sin and to their lusts, that there is a way for their deliverance.
And recovering of sight to the blind; to let all blind sinners know, that there is an eye salve discovered, which if applied will recover their spiritual sight.
To set at liberty them that are bruised: it is of the same significance with binding up the broken in heart.
To preach the acceptable year of the Lord; the true jubilee, when every soul may be set free from the bonds of its sins, 2 Corinthians 6:17; the year of God’s good will; that the time was now come, when in every nation he that feared God, and wrought righteousness, should be accepted with him, Acts 10:35.
Christ observeth the order used in their synagogues, when he that officiates had read such a portion out of the law as was appointed, or out of the prophets, as he pleased, he closed the book, or the roll, and gave it again to the officer, whose work it was to bring it, and then to carry it back, and lay it up; and then sat down, while he made his exhortation upon it. This Christ did, the people being in the mean time very attentive to hear what he would say. He begins to speak, and telleth them this was a prophecy concerning him,
This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears; that is, it is fulfilled in me, either primarily, or as I am the antitype to Cyrus. We must not think that this was all which Christ said, but thus he began his discourse.
All that heard our Saviour in the synagogue bare him witness. Of what? Not that he was the Messias, much less the Son of God; but they praised his discourse in opening the prophecy: they did not believe in him, but they admired the wisdom and piety of his discourses, they admired the effects of the grace of God in him, his
gracious words. But see the wretchedness of carnal hearts, in their proneness to take no prejudices, to choke the beginnings of any convictions in themselves. They do not admire the power of Divine grace, that it could so far influence one of so mean an education as they took Christ to have had; but dreaming that the kingdom of God must come with observation, and the coming of the Messiah must be in great outward splendour and glory, they stumble at his parents, because (though of the house of David) they were of so mean a visible quality.
Christ here tells those of Nazareth what was in their hearts, viz. that they in their hearts contemned him, because of the meanness of his parentage, and challenged him to confirm his doctrine by miracles, urging that Nazareth was his own country, and physicians in the first place ought to cure themselves, and their friends, and those of their own families; they therefore challenge him to work some such miracles as he had before wrought in Capernaum, as they had heard. He gives them the reason why he did no miracles amongst them, viz. because he discerned that they contemned them, as is very usual for persons, according to that common saying:
No prophet is accepted in his own country. The reference here to some things done before this time in Capernaum, would incline us to think that after Christ’s temptations he first went to Cana of Galilee, where he wrought his first miracle, John 2:1, turning the water into wine, then to Capernaum, where he staid not many days, John 2:12, then to Nazareth; but hearing that John was cast into prison, he removed from Nazareth to Capernaum, out of the jurisdiction of Herod, under the milder government of Philip his brother.
The two stories to which our Saviour refers are those 1 Kings 17:9; 2 Kings 5:14. But the question is what our Saviour intended to teach them by these stories, which made them so exceeding angry, as we shall find by and by. I answer, several things, none of which pleased them.
1. The freeness of God’s distinguishing grace. That God was not bound to give to all the same aid, and means of grace, that he gave some. This is a doctrine the world was never patient to hear. That God will have mercy on whom he will have mercy. We would fain make God a debtor to us. Those of Nazareth think they had as good, if not a better, right to Christ’s miracles than those of Capernaum. I tell you, saith Christ, God is a Sovereign in his acts of grace, and acts freely, and I can do no miracles but where he will have them done.
2. That it is through the fault of men, it they receive not the benefits of Divine grace. If the Israelites would have entertained Elijah, he might have been sent to them, as well as to Sarepta. If the lepers in Israel would have sought out and come to Elisha they might have been healed. If you would have received me, and believed in me, you might have seen what those of Capernaum did; it is because of your contempt and unbelief that I can show you no miracles. If any say, If God had put it into the hearts of the widows in Israel, or the lepers there, they would also have entertained Elijah, and have sought out and came to Elisha: why did not God put it into their hearts? To this the answer is ready: Who art thou that disputest with God? Why doth the clay reply upon the potter? Even so, O Father, for so it pleaseth thee. However, the failures of the lepers in Israel, and the widows there, and of those in Nazareth, was in a great measure in their duty, as to things within their power to do by virtue of that common grace which God denieth to none: he might justly deny his special influences, while they neglected to make use of his more common influences.
3. That in every nation he that feared God, and wrought righteousness, was ever accepted of him. God had no respect to this country, or that country; he sent Elijah to do good to a Sidonian, and Elisha to do good to a Syrian, while he neglected the ungrateful and disobedient Israelites. Thus he also not obscurely hints, that for their unbelief, and rejection of, and disobedience to him, God would send his gospel to the Gentiles, and reject them, which came to pass within a few years after. None of all these were grateful sounds in the ears of the men of Nazareth. You ask me (saith our Saviour) why I do not such things here at Nazareth as I did at Capernaum. I was not sent to you. No; but were not they some of the lost sheep of Israel? Ah! but Christ was no more sent to all Israel, than Elias was sent to all the widows in Israel. He was sent to preach to them all, but for any special, signal favours, he was sent but to some, and those some were such as did not proudly reject and contemn him, but receive him.
Unhappy Nazareth, where Christ had now lived more than thirty years! They had seen him growing up, increasing in wisdom and stature, and in favour both with God and man, Luke 2:52; they had had the first fruits of his ministry, and, Luke 4:22, they bare him witness, and wondered at the gracious words which proceeded out of his mouth; they knew his education, so as they could not think he had this wisdom and knowledge from any advantages of that, but must have it from Heaven; yet when they hear him preaching, and but touching them for their contempt and rejection of him, and tacitly comparing them with their forefathers in the time of Ahab, and preaching the doctrine of God’s sovereign and free grace, and hinting to them that the grace of God should pass to the Gentiles, while they should be rejected, they are not able to bear him. Thus, Acts 22:21, the Jews heard Paul patiently, till he repeated God’s commission to him to go unto the Gentiles; then they cried, Away with such a fellow from the earth, for it is not fit he should live. This was according to the old prophecy, Deuteronomy 32:21, (applied to the Jews by the apostle, Romans 10:19), that because they had moved God to jealousy with that which is not God, he would move them to jealousy with them that are not a people, and provoke them to anger with a foolish nation. This is further matter of observation, that wretched sinners, who cannot obtain of their lusts to be as good and holy as others, yet are ordinarily so proud, as they have no patience to hear that others are better than they, or have or shall have any more special share in God’s favour. Those of Nazareth which were in the synagogue hearing these things, are filled with wrath, thrust Christ out of the city, as not fit to live among them, and go about to kill him, by throwing him down headlong from the brow of the hill upon which their city was built.
But he passing through the midst of them went his way. How he got out of their hands, when they had laid hold of him, the Scripture doth not tell us, nor is it our concern to be curious to inquire. We read much the like passage, John 8:59, when the Jews had taken up stones to stone him. We know it was an easy thing for him, who was God as well as man, to quit himself of any mortal enemies; but how he did it, whether by blinding their eyes, or altering the nature of his body, and making it imperceptible by them, or by a greater strength than they, (which the Divine nature could easily supply his human nature with), who is able to determine?
Capernaum was a city in the other Galilee, under the jurisdiction of Philip, whither Matthew and Mark mention our Saviour’s motion upon the report of the imprisonment of John. Philip is not only by historians reported of a less bloody temper than his brother Herod, but Herod having taken away his wife, it is very probable that there was no good understanding between him and Philip. So that two things promised our Saviour more quiet in Philip’s jurisdiction:
1. The tameness of his temper.
2. The hatred between him and Herod.
It appears, from Luke 4:23, he had been at Capernaum before, but stayed very little, hastening to his own country of Nazareth in the other Galilee: from thence he now again removeth, hearing of John’s imprisonment, and seeing the baseness of his countrymen. When he came there, he keeps on his course preaching upon the Jewish sabbath, not abolished till his resurrection. It appeareth by Luke 4:33, that he preached in the synagogue here also.
It is said that the people
were astonished at his doctrine. Astonishment is one thing, believing is another. Men may be some ways and to some degrees affected at the word of God, that yet are far enough from believing, as the most of these Capernaites were; else Christ had never upbraided them as he did, Matthew 11:23.
For his word was with power. That this phrase is to be understood only of those powerful and miraculous operations, by which Christ confirmed the word which he preached to be from God, I cannot yield. It is better interpreted by Mark 1:22, He taught them as one that had authority, not as the scribes; and to be understood of the gravity and spirituality of his doctrine, his majesty and life in the delivering of it, and the power of God going along with it for the conviction of sinners; to all which were added his miraculous operations, of which the evangelist goeth on giving us a more particular account.
We met with the same history related as done in Capernaum, and with the same circumstances, See Poole on "Mark 1:21-22", &c.
We met with this history both in Matthew and Mark. See Poole on "Matthew 8:14", and following verses to Matthew 8:15. See Poole on "Mark 1:29", and following verses to Mark 1:31.
See Poole on "Mark 1:32", and following verses to Mark 1:34, where we met with the same things.
See Poole on "Mark 1:35", and following to Mark 1:39, where that evangelist reports the same things that this evangelist mentions, only with more circumstances. Mark saith, he went out a great while before day into a solitary place to pray. He saith also that Simon and others followed him, and found him, and told him that all men sought him. Luke addeth that the others desired him not to depart from thence. They desired his stay, in order to his miracles, the healing of their sick, dispossessing demoniacs, &c. Christ replied, (as Mark saith), Let us go into the next towns, that I may preach there also; for therefore came I forth. Luke saith he told them, he must preach the gospel of the kingdom to other cities also; for therefore he was sent. Accordingly, (saith Luke), he did preach in the synagogues of Galilee. Mark adds also that he cast out devils. How can any think that preaching the gospel is not the great work of the minister of Christ, but prayers are to be preferred before it, or administering the sacraments greater, when it is expressly said, that Christ baptized none, but his disciples, John 4:2; and Paul saith, Christ sent him not to baptize, but to preach the gospel; and Christ omitted opportunities of working miracles that he might preach to other cities, and only wrought miracles to confirm the doctrine he preached; and we so often read of his going about preaching and teaching, never of his praying, but alone with his disciples, or in a mountain or solitary place; (though doubtless he, or some others, did pray at their worship in the synagogues); unless any will be so mad as to think, that the sole end of preaching was to convert men from Judaism, or paganism, to an outward owning and professing of Christ, though under that profession, by reason of their sottish ignorance and debauched lives, they remain twice more the children of the devil than many Jews and pagans are? What was Christ’s great work is certainly his ministers’, viz. to preach the gospel of the kingdom.
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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Luke 4". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 24 / Ordinary 29