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Bible Commentaries
Luke 4

Benson's Commentary of the Old and New TestamentsBenson's Commentary

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A.M. 4031. A.D. 27.

Christ having been newly baptized, and owned as the Son of God by a voice from heaven, and by the descent of the Holy Ghost upon him, is,

(1,) Further prepared for his public ministry by forty days’ fasting, and repeated temptations of the devil, Luke 4:1-13 .

(2,) Having preached in other places of Galilee, he preaches at Nazareth to the hazarding of his life, Luke 4:14-30 .

(3,) Having astonished his hearers with his discourses at Capernaum, he casts out a devil, cures Peter’s mother-in-law of a fever, and many other sick and possessed persons, Luke 4:31-41 .

(4,) He preaches and heals diseases in other cities of Galilee, Luke 4:42-44 .

Verse 1

Luke 4:1. And Jesus, being full of the Holy Ghost, &c., was led up of the Spirit into the wilderness, &c. Supposed by some to have been in Judea; by others to have been the great desert of Horeb, or Sinai, where the children of Israel were tried for forty years, and Moses and Elijah fasted forty days. Here we see that our blessed Lord began his ministry immediately after his baptism, not by going directly to Jerusalem, the seat of power, preceded by the Baptist, and with the divine glory surrounding his head, but by retiring into a wilderness, that, without interruption, he might prepare himself for his work by fasting, meditation, and prayer, and by sustaining temptations. Hence his journey to the wilderness is said to have been undertaken by the direction, or strong impulse, of the Spirit, by which Mark says he was driven. See note on Mark 1:12-13, and especially on Matthew 4:1, where the nature and design of our Lord’s temptation are explained at large.

Verse 2

Luke 4:2. Being forty days tempted According to Luke here, and Mark 1:12, he was tempted of Satan during the whole of these forty days; but we are favoured with no account of the various subtle arts which that evil spirit used in the course of so long a temptation. Only the three assaults which he made at the expiration of the forty days are recorded; perhaps because they were more violent than the rest, or more for the instruction of mankind. In those days he did eat nothing And therefore was supported all the time by a miracle; for he found no inconvenience from so long and preternatural a fast. He did not, it seems, even feel the sensation of hunger till the forty days were expired. Moses, who was a type of Jesus, was remarkable for fasts of this kind; for at two different times he was forty days and forty nights with the Lord, Deuteronomy 9:9-25; Deuteronomy 10:10. In like manner Elijah, who was a type of Christ’s forerunner, went in the strength of the meat he had eaten, for forty days and forty nights, unto Horeb, the mount of God. Moreover, as Moses, during his forty days’ fast, received from God the laws which he afterward delivered to the Israelites, and, by continuing so long without food, proved the reality of his intercourse with God; so Jesus, during the whole of his fast, enjoyed continual converse with his heavenly Father, and received the new law, or evangelical doctrine, which he communicated to his first disciples, to be by them transmitted to future ages, John 8:26; and John 15:15; and by the miracle of a total abstinence from food for so long a time, demonstrated the truth of his mission. And it is probable, that this solemn fast of Christ, like those of Moses and Elias, was intended partly, at least, to prove the divinity of his mission, and to inculcate the necessity of subduing the animal passions and fleshly lusts, and vanquishing the pleasures of sense, before a man takes on himself the high character of an instructer of others in the knowledge of divine things.

Verses 3-12

Luke 4:3-12. The devil said, If thou be the Son of God, &c. For an explanation of this whole paragraph, see notes on Matthew 4:3-10. The devil taketh him up into a high mountain, &c. This temptation, which stands here as the second, is by Matthew placed the last of the three. To reconcile the evangelists, it may be observed, that Matthew recites the temptations in the order in which they occurred; for he plainly affirms this order by the particle then, Luke 4:5, and again Luke 4:10, and at the conclusion of this temptation says, that then the devil left him. In this order they appear to rise progressively in strength one above another; Matthew, therefore, having preserved the true order of the temptations, Luke must be supposed to have neglected it as a thing not very material. And the supposition may be admitted without weakening his authority in the least, for he connects the temptations only by the particle και , and, which imports that he was tempted in these several ways, without marking the time or order of the temptations, as Matthew appears to do.

Verse 13

Luke 4:13. When the devil had ended, &c., he departed from him for a season This implies that he assaulted him afterward, which, if not before, he certainly did in the garden of Gethsemane, Luke 22:53, where Jesus saith to the Jews, This is your hour, and the power of darkness. When the tempter was gone, a number of good angels came and ministered to Jesus, bringing him every thing he had need of; as appears from the force of the expression, διηκονουν αυτω . See note on Matthew 4:11.

Verses 14-16

Luke 4:14-16. Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit into Galilee Being more abundantly strengthened after his conflict; and prepared to exercise his ministry with success, and to confirm his doctrine by miracles. And there went out a fame of him through all the region Now that he was come, the fame of the miracles which he had performed in Jerusalem at the passover, and in Judea during the course of his ministry there, spread the more through Galilee: for at this time he had done only one miracle there, namely, the turning of water into wine. And he taught in their synagogues He spent a considerable time in Galilee preaching, for the most part in their synagogues, particularly on the sabbath days, when there was the greatest concourse of people. Being glorified of all The effect of this first exercise of his ministry in Galilee was, that the excellence of the doctrines which he taught, and the greatness of the miracles which he wrought, caused all the people to admire and applaud him exceedingly. But neither their approbation, nor the outward calm which he enjoyed, continued long. And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up That by his example, says Theophylact, he might teach us especially to instruct and do good to those of our own family and place of abode. And as his custom was, he went into the synagogue, &c. That the synagogue was then loaded with ceremonies of human invention, and that the manners of those who met there were much corrupted, no man, who is acquainted with the Scriptures and the Jewish history, can doubt; and yet Christ, with his disciples, went customarily to these synagogues, as members of the Jewish Church, every sabbath day. And stood up Showing, by so doing, that he had a desire to read the Scriptures to the congregation, on which the book was given to him. The reading of the Scriptures made an essential part of the Jewish public worship. But this office was not confined to those who were properly the ministers of religion. The rulers of the synagogue assigned it to such persons in the congregation as they knew were capable of it. Nay, they sometimes conferred the honour upon strangers, and incited them to give the people an exhortation on such subjects as were suggested by the passage read; see Acts 13:15; wherefore, their now assigning it to Jesus was not contrary to the regulations of their worship. Perhaps the rulers, knowing the reports which went abroad of his miracles, and having heard of the Baptist’s testimony concerning him, were curious to hear him read and expound the Scriptures; and the rather, because it was well known in Nazareth that he had not had the advantage of a learned education. And, as the Hebrew was now a dead language, and Jesus had not been taught to read, his actually reading, and with such facility, the original Hebrew Scriptures, as well as his expounding them, was a clear proof of his divine inspiration, and must have greatly astonished every intelligent and considerate person present.

Verses 17-19

Luke 4:17-19. There was delivered to him the book of Esaias A paragraph of the law having, according to custom, been read before. See on Acts 13:15. When he had opened the book Αναπτυξας , having unrolled the volume of the book. The books of the ancients, as is well known, consisted of one long sheet of paper or parchment, which they rolled up neatly on a round piece of wood. When a book of this kind was to be read, they unrolled it gradually as they read it, and put what was read round another piece of wood of the same sort with the former. He found the place The expression, ευρε τον τοπον , seems to imply, that upon unrolling the book, the passage here mentioned immediately met his eye, by the particular providence of God. Many commentators, however, think, that as the Scriptures were read in order, the passage mentioned was that which fell of course to be read in the synagogue that day. And according to the custom of all the synagogues, this passage was to be read with the fiftieth section of the law, appointed for the last sabbath of the sixth, or the first of the seventh month, answering to our August and September. So that if our Lord read this passage as the ordinary lesson for the day, the chronology of this part of the history is thereby determined. The Spirit of the Lord is upon me This was said of the prophets, when they were under an immediate afflatus of the Holy Spirit; but it was here, doubtless, primarily meant of the Messiah: because he hath anointed me That is, hath commissioned me with authority, qualified me with gifts, and set me apart for the important offices here mentioned. The expression is used in allusion to the Jewish prophets, priests, and kings, who were consecrated to their offices by anointing them with oil. The unction of the Messiah was the Holy Spirit, which he had without measure. To preach the gospel to the poor The reason why I, the Messiah, enjoy so great a degree of inspiration, and am endowed with the power of working such astonishing miracles is, because God hath commissioned me to preach the glad tidings of salvation to the poor, and by so doing, to heal the broken-hearted That is, to relieve and comfort all those, without distinction, whose hearts are broken by sharp convictions of sin, and fears of future punishment. The passage of Isaiah here quoted, in our translation stands thus: To preach good tidings to the meek But the word ענוים , signifies more properly persons in a low and afflicted condition. It is certainly an unspeakable recommendation of the gospel dispensation, that it offers the pardon of sin, and salvation, to all on the same terms. The rich, here, have no pre- eminence over the poor; as they seem to have had under the law, which prescribed such costly sacrifices for the atonement of sin as were very burdensome to the poor. The Prophet Isaiah, therefore, in describing the happiness of gospel times, very fitly introduces the Messiah mentioning this as one of the many blessings which would accrue to the world from his coming, that the glad tidings of salvation were to be preached by him and his ministers to the poor, and consequently were to be offered to them without money and without price. To preach deliverance to the captives To proclaim to the captives of sin and Satan liberty from the power of their tyrannical masters, on the terms of repentance toward God, and faith in the Messiah, now manifested: and to confer that liberty on such as complied with these terms. And recovering of sight to the blind Not merely to confer bodily sight on a few blind individuals, but to open the eyes of the understanding of millions, and cure their spiritual blindness, by imparting to them the spirit of wisdom and revelation. Thus, Isaiah 42:6-7, the Messiah is said to be given for a covenant of the people, for a light of the Gentiles, to open the blind eyes. And the commission given to Paul, as recorded, Acts 26:18, was, I send thee to open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light: in both which passages spiritual illumination is undoubtedly solely intended. To set at liberty them that are bruised With the heavy load of their fetters and chains; with the guilt and power of their iniquities, and the condemnation and wrath due to them on that account. Here is a beautiful gradation, in comparing the spiritual state of man to the miserable state of those captives who were not only cast into prison, but, like Zedekiah, had their eyes put out, and were laden and bruised with chains of iron. To preach the acceptable year of the Lord To proclaim that happy period of the divine dispensations toward mankind, in which a full and free remission of all their offences was to be offered to them, and which might be fitly represented in prophecy by the Jewish jubilee, wherein debts were forgiven, slaves released, and inheritances restored to their original owners. For a further explanation of this passage, see the notes on Isaiah 61:1-3; and Isaiah 42:6-7.

Verses 20-21

Luke 4:20-21 . And he closed the book, and gave it again to the minister Τω υπηρετη , to the servant, who had brought it to him. “From the manner in which we apply the word minister, in speaking of our churches, the English reader is apt to be led into a mistake by the common version, and to consider the word here as meaning the person who presided in the service; whereas it denotes only a subordinate officer, who attended the minister, and obeyed his orders in what concerned the more servile part of the work. Among other things he had the charge of the sacred books, and delivered them to those to whom he was commanded by his superiors to give them. After the reading was over, he deposited them in their proper place.” Campbell. And sat down The Jewish doctors, to show their reverence for the Scriptures, always stood when they read them, but when they taught the people they sat down. See Matthew 23:2. Thus we here find our Lord sitting down in the synagogue to preach, after he had read the passage in the prophet, which he made the subject of his discourse. The custom of preaching from a text of Scripture, which now prevails throughout all the Christian churches, seems to have derived its origin from the authority of this example. And the eyes of all were fastened on him They looked on him with great attention, expecting him to explain the passage. And in addressing the congregation on it, he told them, it was that day fulfilled in their ears Namely, by what they heard him speak; words which imply, that, whatever allusion there might be in the prophecy to the good news of the deliverance of the Jews from the Babylonish captivity, it was primarily and principally intended to be understood of the spiritual salvation of mankind from ignorance and error, sinfulness and guilt, depravity and misery, by the Messiah, who, and not Isaiah, nor any other prophet, is to be considered as speaking in the passage, as is explained more fully in the notes there.

Verse 22

Luke 4:22. And all the congregation bare him witness, and wondered at the gracious words, &c. By this it appears, that our Lord proved and illustrated his assertion, (that the passage he had read was that day fulfilled,) in a discourse of considerable length, the subject of which only is mentioned by Luke. And it seems also, that on this occasion he delivered his thoughts with such strength of reason, clearness of method, and, perhaps also, beauty of expression, that his townsmen, who all knew he had not had the advantage of a liberal education, were so astonished, that in their conversation one with another they could not forbear expressing their admiration. At the same time, however, their carnal and worldly spirit, not to say the malevolence also of their disposition, led them to mingle with their praises a reflection, which they thought sufficiently confuted his pretensions of being the Messiah, and showed the absurdity of the application which he had made of Isaiah’s prophecy to himself, in that character; And they said, Is not this Joseph’s son? &c.

Verses 23-24

Luke 4:23-24. And he said, Ye will surely say That is, your approbation now outweighs your prejudices. But it will not be so long. You will soon ask, why my love does not begin at home? why I do not work miracles here, rather than at Capernaum? It is because of your unbelief. Nor is it any new thing for a messenger of God to be despised in his own country. So were both Elijah and Elisha, and thereby driven to work miracles among heathen, rather than in Israel. And he said, Verily, no prophet is accepted in his own country That is, in his own neighbourhood. It generally holds, that a teacher sent from God is not so acceptable to his neighbours as he is to strangers. The meanness of his family, or lowness of his circumstances, brings his office into contempt: nor can they suffer that he, who was before equal with or below themselves, should now bear a superior character.

Verses 25-27

Luke 4:25-27. Many widows were in Israel in the days of Elias, &c. “By putting them thus in mind of Elijah’s miracle in behalf of the widow of Sarepta, a heathen inhabitant of a heathen city, in a time of famine, while many widows of Israel were suffered to starve; and of Elisha’s miracle on Naaman the Syrian leper, while many lepers in Israel remained uncleansed, he showed them both the sin and punishment of their ancestors, and left it to themselves to make the application.” When the heaven was shut up, &c. Such a proof had they that God had sent him. Three years and six months In 1 Kings 18:1, it is said, The word of the Lord came to Elijah in the third year: namely, reckoning, not from the beginning of the drought, but from the time when he began to sojourn with the widow of Sarepta. A year of drought had preceded this, while he dwelt at the brook Cherith. So that the whole time of the drought was (as St. James likewise observes) three years and six months.

Verses 28-30

Luke 4:28-30. And all they in the synagogue were filled with wrath The Nazarenes, perceiving the purport of his discourse, namely, that the blessings which they despised would be offered to, and accepted by, the Gentiles, were enraged to such a pitch, that, forgetting the sanctity of the sabbath, they gathered around him tumultuously, forced him out of the synagogue, and rushed with him through the streets to the brow of the hill whereon their city was built; that they might cast him down headlong. So changeable are the hearts of wicked men! So little are their starts of love to be depended on! So unable are they to bear the close application, even of a discourse which they most admire! But he, passing through the midst of them Probably by making himself invisible; or by overawing them: so that, though they saw, they had not power to touch him.

Verses 31-32

Luke 4:31-32. And came down to Capernaum And dwelt there, entirely quitting his abode at Nazareth, in consequence of the rude treatment which he met with from his townsmen. Here let it be observed, that by settling in Capernaum our Lord fulfilled Isaiah’s prophecy, Isaiah 9:1, which elegantly describes the effect of the Messiah’s residence in Galilee. See notes on Matthew 4:13-16. And he taught them on the sabbath days Namely, according to Matthew 4:17, and Mark 1:15, proclaimed that the kingdom of heaven was at hand, and exhorted them to repent and believe the gospel. This was his testimony during the time of his abode at Capernaum, and this he made the subject of his preaching in their synagogue on the sabbath days, not being discouraged by the ill usage that he had met with at Nazareth, upon his bearing the same testimony there. And they were astonished Powerfully struck, and very much affected; with his doctrine. For his word was with power With authority and majesty, which incomparably exceeded that low and servile manner of preaching which the scribes and Pharisees commonly used, in retailing their precarious traditions and insipid comments to the people. Our Lord, however, did not confine himself to Capernaum, for he frequently made excursions into the neighbouring country, and on such occasions, no doubt, preached several times every day.

Verses 33-37

Luke 4:33-37. See this paragraph explained at large in the notes on Mark 1:23-28. What have we to do with thee Thy present business is with men, not with devils. I know thee who thou art But did he, did even the prince of devils know Jesus, some time before, when he dared to say to him, Luke 4:6, All this power is delivered to me, and to whomsoever I will I give it? The Holy One of God Either this confession was extorted from him by terror, (for the devils believe and tremble,) or, he made it with a design to render the character of Christ suspected. And Jesus rebuked him The Holy One of God was a title of the Messiah, Psalms 16:10; but Jesus did not allow the devils to give it him, for the reason mentioned in the notes on Mark 1:25; Mark 1:34. Possibly, however, it was from hence the Pharisees took occasion to say, He casteth out devils by the prince of devils. And when the devil had thrown him in the midst That is, had cast him down on the ground, the effect of this possession being an epilepsy.

Verses 38-44

Luke 4:38-44. He entered into Simon’s house See notes on Matthew 8:14-17; and Mark 1:29-35. When the sun was setting And consequently the sabbath ended, which they considered as continuing from sunset to sunset; all that had any sick brought them Fully persuaded that he could and would heal them; which he accordingly did; he laid his hands on every one of them, and healed them Like the Pharisees, they seem to have questioned whether it was lawful for him to do cures on the sabbath day. Reader, he is the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever: he is still able to do cures, and is he not willing? Try him: bring thy sick soul, or even thy sick body, or that of thy relative or friend, to him in prayer, and have faith in him, that he can and will heal it. Remember, His eyes are over the righteous, and his ears are open to their prayers None ever trusted in him and were confounded. See note on Mark 11:22-24.

Bibliographical Information
Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Luke 4". Benson's Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/rbc/luke-4.html. 1857.
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