Attention! has pledged to build one church a year in Uganda. Help us double that pledge and support pastors in the heart of Africa.
Click here to join the effort!

Bible Commentaries

Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary

Luke 3

Verse 1


The Introduction of John the Baptist, with the Time of his Entrance on his Ministry. His Testimony of Christ. Our Lord's Baptism and Genealogy.

Verses 1-2

(1) Now in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Cesar, Pontius Pilate being governor of Judea, and Herod being tetrarch of Galilee, and his brother Philip tetrarch of Iturea, and of the region of Trachonitis, and Lysanias the tetrarch of Abilene, (2) Annas and Caiaphas being the high priests, the word of God came unto John the son of Zacharias in the wilderness.

The Evangelist having in the two preceding Chapters, faithfully recorded the wonderful events of Christ's incarnation and birth, now enters upon the wonderful history also of Christ's ministry, in order to prosecute it to the end. But in doing this he makes a long stride. The fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Cesar, became nearly parallel to the thirtieth year of Christ, when the Lord Jesus entered on his ministry, (Luke 3:23 ,) so that from the twelfth year, in which the last Chapter represents Christ, as found in the midst of the doctors, in his Father's business, to the period of his entrance on his public ministry, Luke passeth by in silence. Reader! think of this, and conceive, if it be possible, how the holy soul of the Lord must have been exercised, during the many years in the society of the ungodly, before the time arrived for making himself known to Israel. If Lot was vexed, as it is said he was, with the filthy conversation of the wicked, 2 Peter 2:7-61.2.8 . what must Christ have experienced? Pause over the contemplation. For my own part, I cannot but conclude, that here, in this part of the Redeemer's life, in the private circumstances of it, as well as when coming forward to his public ministry, he was fulfilling all righteousness, and acting in all departments, and in all offices, for his people. For consider, Christ being the very same in nature as we are, (yet without sin,) in being exercised with the same feelings as ours, his holy soul must have felt, (only in a ten thousand times higher degree,) what we feel, when once our souls are renewed by grace, at what we behold, and hear, and see, in the sins of others. And as the Lord Jesus came to bear the sins of all his people, how must he have felt at what he saw and heard of his redeemed in their infirmities and sins? And is it not in this sense, as well as in every other, he is said to have took our infirmities, and bore our sicknesses? Matthew 8:17 . For let it be remembered, that as his holy nature was not liable to be affected with any disease in himself, personally considered, by sickness, as well as by sin, his knowledge of both must have been one and the same. And the scripture account is, that he was made in the likeness of sinful flesh. Romans 8:3 . and was made sin when he knew no sin, 2 Corinthians 5:21 . Such views of Christ are exceedingly precious! And I cannot but hope that the Reader will have his mind suitably exercised, in contemplating the Lord Jesus under characters so truly endearing, whenever he is led to reflect on the long interval from the birth of Christ, to the more open display of his Person, Work, and Labors, at his entrance on his public ministry!

I only detain the Reader one moment longer at these verses, just to remark, that the characters here spoken of, I mean of Cesar, Pontius Pilate, Herod, Philip, Lysanias, Annas, and Caiaphas, would never have found place for record in the word of God, but for the more perfectly ascertaining the period of John's ministry, and the appearance of Christ. This Tiberius Cesar was the third of the Cesars which were Emperors of Rome. Christ was born under the reign of the second of the name, Augustus Cesar: and the Reader may at once conclude how contemptible the whole were in the view of the Church, since nothing more is said of either, than just by way of recording the period in their reign, which opened in the ministry of John the Baptist to the advent of Christ. And the grand point, as it related to the Gospel of Christ, and which the mention of their names was designed to prove, was, that now Judea was brought into subjection to the Roman power, the prediction of the dying Patriarch Jacob was fulfilled; the sceptre was departed, from Judah, and the lawgiver from between his feet, and consequently the Shiloh was come! Genesis 49:10 .

Verses 3-22

(3) And he came into all the country about Jordan, preaching the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins; (4) As it is written in the book of the words of Esaias the prophet, saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. (5) Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be brought low: and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough ways shall be made smooth: (6) And all flesh shall see the salvation of God. (7) Then said he to the multitude that came forth to be baptized of him, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come? (8) Bring forth therefore fruits worthy of repentance, and begin not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham. (9) And now also the ax is laid unto the root of the trees: every tree therefore which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. (10) And the people asked him, saying, What shall we do then? (11) He answereth and saith unto them, He that hath two coats, let him impart to him that hath none; and he that hath meat, let him do likewise. (12) Then came also publicans to be baptized, and said unto him, Master, what shall we do? (13) And he said unto them, Exact no more than that which is appointed you. (14) And the soldiers likewise demanded of him, saying, And what shall we do? and he said unto them, Do violence to no man, neither accuse any falsely; and be content with your wages. (15) And as the people were in expectation, and all men mused in their hearts of John, whether he were the Christ, or not; (16) John answered, saying unto them all, I indeed baptize you with water: but one mightier than I cometh, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to unloose: he shall baptise you with the Holy Ghost and with fire: (17) Whose fan is in his hand, and he will thoroughly purge his floor, and will gather the wheat into his garner; but the chaff he will burn with fire unquenchable. (18) And many other things in his exhortation preached he unto the people. (19) But Herod the tetrarch, being reproved by him for Herodias his brother Philip's wife, and for all the evils which Herod had done, (20) Added yet this above all, that he shut up John in prison. (21) Now when all the people were baptized, it came to pass, that Jesus also being baptised, and praying, the heaven was opened, (22) And the Holy Ghost descended in a bodily shape like a dove upon him, and a voice came from heaven, which said, Thou art my beloved Son; in thee I am well pleased.

Having very largely dwelt upon the most prominent features of the person and office of John the Baptist, on the parallel account given of him in Matthew's statement, Matthew 3:1 to the end; I think it unnecessary to enlarge on the subject here, but rather refer the Reader to my Poor Man's Commentary, in that place. In addition to what was there offered, I would only beg further to observe, on what is here said of the consternation into which John's ministry threw his auditory, whether he was the Christ, or not; certain it was, that a general expectation had been raised about this very time, by all orders of the people, for the coming of the Messiah. The prophecies concerning Christ, when he should appear, according to Daniel's seventy weeks, was now arrived: Daniel 9:24 . where he should be born, according to Micah, had been fulfilled in Christ's instance. Micah 5:2 ; Matthew 2:4-40.2.6 ; John 7:42 . And his forerunner, which Malachi described, now arrested their attention. Malachi 3:1 . So that it is not to be wondered at, that the multitude of the people which read their prophets, pondered over John's preaching. See John 1:19-43.1.34 . I beg the Reader's particular attention to what was offered on the subject of Christ's baptism, and the testimony of the three heavenly witnesses on that occasion, as stated Matthew 3:16-40.3.17 .

Verses 23-38

(23) And Jesus himself began to be about thirty years of age, being, as was supposed, the son of Joseph, which was the son of Heli, (24) Which was the son of Matthat, which was the son of Levi, which was the son of Melchi, which was the son of Janna, which was the son of Joseph, (25) Which was the son of Mattathias, which was the son of Amos, which was the son of Naum, which was the son of Esli, which was the son of Nagge, (26) Which was the son of Maath, which was the son of Mattathias, which was the son of Semei, which was the son of Joseph, which was the son of Juda, (27) Which was the son of Joanna, which was the son of Rhesa, which was the son of Zorobabel, which was the son of Salathiel, which was the son of Neri, (28) Which was the son of Melchi, which was the son of Addi, which was the son of Cosam, which was the son of Elmodam, which was the son of Er, (29) Which was the son of Jose, which was the son of Eliezer, which was the son of Jorim, which was the son of Matthat, which was the son of Levi, (30) Which was the son of Simeon, which was the son of Juda, which was the son of Joseph, which was the son of Jonan, which was the son of Eliakim, (31) Which was the son of Melea, which was the son of Menan, which was the son of Mattatha, which was the son of Nathan, which was the son of David, (32) Which was the son of Jesse, which was the son of Obed, which was the son of Booz, which was the son of Salmon, which was the son of Naasson, (33) Which was the son of Aminadab, which was the son of Aram, which was the son of Esrom, which was the son of Pharez, which was the son of Juda, (34) Which was the son of Jacob, which was the son of Isaac, which was the son of Abraham, which was the son of Thara, which was the son of Nachor, (35) Which was the son of Saruch, which was the son of Ragau, which was the son of Phalec, which was the son of Heber, which was the son of Sala, (36) Which was the son of Cainan, which was the son of Arphaxad, which was the son of Sem, which was the son of Noe, which was the son of Lamech, (37) Which was the son of Mathusala, which was the son of Enoch, which was the son of Jared, which was the son of Maleleel, which was the son of Cainan, (38) Which was the son of Enos, which was the son of Seth, which was the son of Adam, which was the son of God.

I detain the Reader, at the very entrance on this genealogy concerning Christ, to call his particular attention to the manner in which Luke introduceth Joseph, as the supposed father of Christ. Than which form of words, nothing can be stronger in proof, that it was a mere supposition only, and not in reality. And the insertion in Luke's Gospel of the direct descent of Christ after the flesh, in a regular order from Adam to Joseph, as Matthew had before done from Abraham to Mary, was evidently intended for no other purpose than as a testimony to the great point, that Christ was the seed of the Woman. With Joseph, Christ had no connection. But it was a common mode of expression with the Jews, to call the man father which brought up a child. Hence Joseph became the supposed father. And if the Reader will compare Matthew 1:16 . with what is said here, Luke 3:23 , he will discover somewhat of this very custom. In Matthew, Joseph is said to have been begotten of Jacob, so that Jacob was his real father. But according to Luke, Heli was his father, and so he was, that is his reputed father, by virtue of Joseph being betrothed to Mary his daughter. So that these things explain the several expressions, according to Jewish customs.

In respect to the life of Christ, at his entrance upon his ministry, being then about thirty years of age; I have already, in the former part of this chapter, offered a short observation upon it. In addition, I would only just remark, that the precise period, for Christ being made manifest unto Israel, had been so strikingly marked from the beginning, that to this point several weighty circumstances evidently had reference. The law enjoined, that from thirty years, and upward, until fifty years, the sons of Levi should enter into the host. Numbers 4:2-4.4.3 . Jesus, though not of Levi, but of Judah, yet being Him, in whom the Priesthood centered, and was completed, shall therefore so enter. And although his ministry extended but to the half week of Daniel's prophecy, that is, just three years and a half; yet so much worn was He, by hard service, cruel treatment, and hard fare, that the Jews supposed him to have been fifty. Daniel 9:27 ; John 8:57 . And in type also, Joseph is said, when prefiguring Christ, to have gone at that age in before Pharaoh. Genesis 41:46 . Some have gone further in discovering, or in supposing they have discovered, many shadows in scripture, of this substance of Christ's ministry, in relation to the period of three years and a half. See Daniel 12:7 . with Revelation 12:14 ; James 5:17 . with Luke 4:25 . But I presume not to decide upon the subject

In respect to this genealogy, I do not think it necessary to enlarge. The correctness of it is unquestionable; and the intention of it is plain. It is essential, yea most essential to the Church's peace and welfare, to be well informed, and as the Apostle saith, to remember also that Jesus Christ is of the seed of David. 2 Timothy 2:8 . So that in going over this, it is not, as may be said of many, giving heed to fables, and endless genealogies which minister questions, rather than godly edifying: but here is a subject, which leads to the fountain head of mercy, in tracing Him, who is made not after the law of a carnal commandment, but after the power of an endless life.

Verse 38


Reader! where are all those proud monarchs, in the Cesars, and Pilates, and Herods, of the day; whose looks frowned men for the moment into fear; and whose words, and actions, made men tremble throughout the earth? The flood of time hath gone over them, and they are no more! But He, who as a little stone cut out without hands, hath broken them all in pieces, and, as foretold, is become a mountain, and hath filled and is filling the earth. Behold the humbleness and austerity of his herald the Baptist. Then see the low estate of the Son of God. And in the midst of all that debasement, poverty, and meekness of character, hear the voice from heaven attesting to the glories of his person, while the Holy Ghost bore testimony to the same; Thou art my beloved Son! In thee I am well pleased. Oh! for grace to be well pleased also with his person, work, offices, character, and relations! Precious Lord Jesus! truly thou art the seed of the woman; and in thee shall all the seed of Israel be justified, and shall glory!

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on Luke 3". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". 1828.