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Bible Commentaries
Luke 4

Schaff's Popular Commentary on the New TestamentSchaff's NT Commentary

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Verse 1

Luke 4:1. Full of the Holy Spirit, which came upon Him at His baptism. ‘Full of the Holy Spirit,’ He throughout this conflict wields victoriously ‘the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God.’

In The Spirit. Not quite the same as ‘by the Spirit;’ the idea of His abiding in the Spirit as the element of His life is included.

In the wilderness. More correct than ‘into,’ implying that the leading of the Spirit continued there, ‘during forty days.’

Verses 1-13

THE TEMPTATION. See on Matthew 14:1-11. The second temptation in Matthew’s account is placed last by Luke. The order of Matthew is correct, because Matthew uses phrases (Luke 4:5; Luke 4:8) which indicate direct succession, and Luke does not. The same is true of the closing verses of the two accounts. The correct text shows most clearly the independence of the Evangelists.

Verse 2

Luke 4:2. During forty days, being tempted by the devil. ‘During forty days’ may be joined either to what precedes or what follows. The former seems preferable, though ‘being tempted’ indicates a continued trial, which culminated in the assaults detailed by Matthew and Luke. The temptation continued during forty days (so Mark 1:13).

He did eat nothing. Entire abstinence day and night (Matthew) is meant.

Verse 3

Luke 4:3. This stone. Some particular one. More graphic than Matthew’s account.

Verse 4

Luke 4:4. The quotation from Deuteronomy 7:3, is given more fully by Matthew. The clause we omit is not found in the oldest manuscripts.

Verse 5

Luke 4:5. And he led him up. No definite mark of time, hence we think this temptation was the third (as in Matthew). The words: ‘into’ a high mountain, are to be omitted.

In a moment of time, at once. A supernatural extension of vision is possibly implied.

Verse 6

Luke 4:6. It hath been delivered unto me. Satan is represented in the Scriptures as the god of this world, so that an element of truth is here contained (see on Matthew 4:8).

Verse 8

Luke 4:8. The words: ‘Get thee behind me, Satan,’ should be omitted.

Verse 13

Luke 4:13. Had completed every temptation. Not so definite as Matthew, who shows how the third temptation (second here) ended in the withdrawal of Satan.

Until a season, an opportunity, a convenient season. Probably referring more particularly to the closing scenes of our Lord’s life, when the agency of Satan (in Judas) is asserted; see chap. Luke 22:3; Luke 22:53; John 14:30; comp. John 8:44, where the opposition of the Jews is ascribed to the devil.

Verse 14

Luke 4:14. Returned, from Judea. See Matthew 4:12; Mark 1:14. The return was after John had been put in prison, and (according to Andrews) after he had been opposed in Judea (see John 5:0).

In the power of the Spirit. With the victory over Satan new spiritual power is contrasted.

A fame, etc. In consequence of His teaching (Luke 4:15), or His miracles. What had previously occurred at Jerusalem (according to John’s account) would occasion such a fame; indeed the brief narrative implies many things not mentioned here.

Verses 14-32

CHRONOLOGY. A number of events occurred in Judea before the ministry in Galilee spoken of in Luke 4:14-15, according to Andrews the whole of the first year. (See notes on Matthew 4:12; comp. John 1:35 to John 3:36.) We hold that this rejection at Nazareth (Luke 4:16-30), is in its proper chronological position, and that a similar occurrence mentioned by Matthew (Matthew 13:54-58) and Mark (Mark 6:1-6) toot place later: 1 . This early rejection accounts for our Lord’s removal from Nazareth to Capernaum, as the centre of His activity (Matthew 4:13). 2 . The close of the section (Luke 4:31) indicates that Capernaum now became for the first time such a centre, though He had already been there (Luke 4:23). 3 . Two such rejections, closely resembling each other in some features, are not impossible, while it is difficult to believe that the event recorded by Matthew and Mark took place so early in the history. 4 . All notice of followers is omitted. Mark (Mark 6:1) expressly states that His disciples followed Him on that occasion; and the attempt to cast Him down headlong could not have occurred so late in His ministry, without calling forth a demonstration from these followers. If there was but one rejection, Luke, who gives the most detailed account, has probably put it in the proper place.

Verse 15

Luke 4:15. And he taught. Such teaching is alluded to in Luke 4:16. According to Robinson, the second miracle at Cana (the healing of the nobleman’s son; John 4:46-54) occurred during the period here referred to and immediately before the first rejection at Nazareth. Andrews places it and the second Passover between Luke 4:13-14.

In their synagogues. Comp. Luke 4:16; Luke 4:23.

Verse 16

Luke 4:16. Nazareth, where he had been brought up. Comp. chap. Luke 2:40; Luke 2:51-52.

As his custom was. This refers only to His going into the synagogue; probably in this case the place of worship He had attended as a youth. Even though it were His custom to stand up and read, Luke’s words do not necessarily imply this, and hence do not prove that the visit occurred later in His ministry. He had never before taught in that synagogue, and hence the allusion to His early habits of piety is more suggestive.

And stood up to read. The ruler of the synagogue usually called upon persons of learning or note to read and explain, and respectable strangers were sometimes invited to give a word of exhortation (Acts 13:15). The exercises were under proper control. Our Lord thus asked the privilege, which was the more readily granted, as those present evidently knew of His previous activity elsewhere. This first appearance of Jesus, as a public instructor, in the synagogue He had attended in youth, before those among whom He had been brought up, assures His sympathy to those placed in similar circumstances.

Verse 17

Luke 4:17. And there was delivered to him, by the attendant of the synagogue.

A roll of the prophet Isaiah , probably containing that book alone. The reading of the Law had already taken place, and that from the Prophets was to begin (comp. Acts 13:15). The passage for the day was from Isaiah. But it cannot be proven that the order of Scripture lessons, appointed by the Rabbins, was in use at that time.

Found the place where it was written. When He unrolled the book, His eye fell, accidentally some would say, providentially we say, upon this passage. There is no reference to looking for an appointed or appropriate passage. All calculations as to the time of year, based on the reading of this part of Isaiah, are therefore excluded.

Verse 18

Luke 4:18. The Spirit of the Lord, etc. Quoted freely from the Greek version of Isaiah 61:1-2. The words” to heal the broken hearted,” were inserted by the early transcribers, to conform to the original passage.

To set at liberty them that are bruised. Found in Isaiah 58:6, not in Isaiah 61:1. Our Lord read what was in the roll, but Luke gives the general drift of the passage. The meaning of this prophetic citation may be better seen, when we remember that it stands in the middle of the third great division of the book of Isaiah (chaps. 49 - 66 ), that namely, which comprises the prophecies of the person, office, sufferings, triumph, and church of the Messiah; and thus by implication announces the fulfilment of all that went before, in Him who then addressed them.’ Alford.

Verse 19

Luke 4:19. The acceptable year of the Lord. The year, or definite appointed period, when the Lord is gracious, not without a reference to the year of jubilee, which also pointed to the Messiah’s coming and kingdom. It proves nothing as to the length of our Lord’s ministry.

Verse 20

Luke 4:20. And he closed the roll, or, ‘rolling up the roll.’ How much he read is not known; the usual lesson from the prophets is said to have comprised twenty-one verses.

To the attendant, whose duty it would be to put the roll back in its place.

And sat down, to explain what He had read, that being the usual position of those making such expositions. It was our Lord’s usual posture when teaching. Comp. Matthew 5:1; Mark 4:1; Mark 13:3.

And the eyes of all in the synagogue, etc. The man brought up among them was about to address them for the first time; the report from other places had preceded this visit; the passage read was remarkable, and doubtless there was something in the appearance of our Lord, especially under these circumstances, which would command unusual attention.

Verse 21

Luke 4:21. And he began to say. This was both the actual beginning of His discourse, and its theme and substance. That He explained the passage at some length seems probable from the next verse.

Today hath this Scripture been fulfilled in your ears. By the presence of Jesus the Messiah speaking to them. Equally apt as an opening sentence, and as the sum of His discourse. There was probably, however, no very definite declaration of His Messiahship.

Verse 22

Luke 4:22. And all bore witness, i.e., favorable witness.

Words of grace. He had evidently spoken at some length. ‘Grace’ here refers to the beauty of His discourse, and not to its moral quality. They liked His ‘manner,’ and as this was all, so soon as the ‘matter,’ began to affect them unpleasantly, they rose in anger against Him. Marvel at words of gracefulness is a small result for the preacher.

Is not this Joseph’s son? The wonder was that such graceful words could be spoken by ‘Joseph’s son,’ implying a contempt of His supposed origin, and envy of Him as such a preacher. The feeling was natural, but not the less sinful. No mention is made of His brothers and sisters, as in the accounts of Matthew and Mark.

Verse 23

Luke 4:23. Doubtless ye will say. This reply is based upon something deeper than the question of Luke 4:22. The tone throughout is that of reproof.

This parable. A proverb, according to our use of terms, but a proverb is usually a condensed parable, see p. 117 .

Physician. Luke, the physician, presents Christ as the Physician; our Lord implies that this is His office.

Heal thyself. Help thine own countrymen, who are naturally nearest to thee. Others paraphrase it: If thou wilt be a helper of others (physician), help thyself from the want of respect and esteem among us, by working miracles here as thou hast done in Capernaum. The former seems the more natural explanation. Comp, the similar reproach at the crucifixion (‘Himself He cannot save’ ) the one is the natural development of the other, envy ripening into malice.

Done at Capernaum. On Capernaum, see Matthew 4:13. The correct reading may mean ‘done for Capernaum.’ He had certainly been already active there. The inhabitants of Nazareth would naturally be jealous of the larger place, and might hope that He would make His early home the centre of miraculous displays. Local pride was involved, and the material advantage was the only motive of any wish they had for His presence among them. Evil men may boast of a distinguished Christian townsman.

Verse 24

Luke 4:24. No prophet is acceptable, etc. Hence the proverb, ‘Physician, heal thyself,’ could not be fulfilled, i.e., He could not work here as in Capernaum. The similarity of thought with the saying in Matthew and Mark is an argument for the identity of the visits, the great difference of form is a stronger argument against it.

Verse 25

Luke 4:25. But of a truth I say unto you. God had enabled the two greatest prophets in Israel to grant the greatest blessings to foreigners. Our Lord places Himself beside these prophets. His hearers would regard this as presumptuous. He implies that His course was also ordered by God, and thus gives a hint of God’s rejection of those rejecting Him. Even if the Nazarenes did not perceive this, as Jews they would dislike the reference to Divine favor shown to the Gentiles. This will account for their rage, and the whole occurrence, including the historical examples, is prophetic of the treatment He received at the hands of the Jewish nation. The boldness with which He adduces these unwelcome illustrations shows that He had already given up the hope of winning His hearers. Knowing His patience we may infer that their jealousy and hardness of heart was greater than the narrative itself has stated. He knew His audience because He had lived among them, as well as from His superhuman knowledge. On no theory of His Person, can He be accused of harshness.

Three years and six months. On this drought and famine in the days of Elijah, see 1 Kings 17-18 , 1 Kings 18:1, implies that the drought ended in the third year. James 5:17, agrees with the verse before us. This period of time (the half of seven years) was considered by the Jews a solemn and ominous one (comp. Daniel 12:7), but that in this case the exact period is probably given. The ‘third year’ (1 Kings 18:1) is to be counted from the arrival of Elijah in Zarephath, where the drought had already prevailed for some time (1 Kings 17:1-10).

Verse 26

Luke 4:26. Zarephath. The Hebrew form (1 Kings 17:9). Now called ‘Surafend’ a large inland village half-way between Tyre and Sidon. The ancient city was probably on the coast (which has greatly changed), and belonged to the territory of Sidon, hence, in the land of Sidon (or, ‘Sidonia’), according to the correct reading.

Verse 27

Luke 4:27. Many lepers. In 2 Kings 7:3, four are spoken of, in the time of Elisha the prophet.

Naaman the Syrian, see 2 Kings 5:1-19. The miracles wrought by Elijah and Elisha in the cases referred to ‘have a close parallelism with those of the Syro-Phoenician woman (Mark 7:26) and the ruler’s son at Capernaum (John 4:46).’ This early reference to blessing on the Gentiles would rejoice the heart of Theophilus.

Verse 28

Luke 4:28. Filled with wrath. The wrath was sinful, but natural. They were angry at the rebuke, but their conduct only proved its justice. We restore the more graphic order of the original.

Verse 29

Luke 4:29. And they rose up, tumultuously from their seats in the synagogue.

Cast him forth. Forced Him out, expelled Him.

Led him. That He was in their custody is evident

Unto the brow of the hill whereon their city was built. Nazareth still answers to this description. The precipice was probably that behind the Maronite church at the present head of the town, and not the so-called Mount of Precipitation, which lies two miles from Nazareth.

Throw him down head-long. Compare the Tarpeian rock at Rome, from which the Roman mob cast unpopular persons.

Verse 30

Luke 4:30. But he passing through the midst of them. As the Nazarenes had Him in custody there was something miraculous in this escape. That they were struck blind, or that He became invisible, is not in accordance with the expression, ‘passing through the midst of them.’ By allowing ‘His personal majesty’ to appear, He might effect this escape, but it cannot be explained as the result of merely human decision, however potent that has been in disorderly mobs. The view that He, visible to them all, passed through them, making them feel His superhuman power restraining them, showing them their own powerlessness against Him, presents no difficulty to those who believe in miracles, and such a miracle was called for. His time was not yet come, and He would thus protect Himself. Besides, they had demanded a miracle, and now they obtained one, a miracle of judgment on them all, not only in the restraint then put upon them, but in the consequence, namely, that He went his way. We suppose directly to Capernaum, without returning to Nazareth at all.

Verse 31

Luke 4:31. Came down to Capernaum, which was situated on the lake, Nazareth being higher on the hills.

A city of Galilee. This explanation made by Luke, and the close connection with the occurrence at Nazareth, lead us to maintain the usual view, that this was the transfer from Nazareth to Capernaum, mentioned in Matthew 4:13.

And he was teaching them. This was His habit. But the reference here is to a particular occasion, hence the clause should be separated from the preceding. On the substance of His teaching at this time, comp. Mark 1:15.

On the Sabbath-day. A particular day when the miracles were wrought (Luke 4:33-40). For convenience of comparison, however, we join the verses to this section.

Verse 32

Luke 4:32. At his teaching. Not simply at the manner, as in Nazareth.

For his word was with authority. The same idea is expressed in Matthew 7:28-29. The comparison with the astonishment in Nazareth suggests, that they felt more than the tone of authority; they must have felt the authority itself. He not only claimed power in His words, but exercised it with His words.

Verses 33-37

Luke 4:33-37. THE HEALING OF A DEMONIAC in the synagogue at Capernaum. See on Mark 1:23-28.

A spirit of an unclean demon (Luke 4:33). Mark: ‘in unclean spirit’ ‘Spirit’ is defined by ‘unclean demon;’ the word ‘unclean’ being inserted, either because in Greek ‘demon’ might be either good or bad, and Luke, when speaking of a ‘demon’ for the first time, would naturally define which kind he meant; or perhaps, because the effect upon the possessed person made the word peculiarly appropriate.

Ah! The word occurs only here. In the parallel passage (Mark 1:24) it is to be omitted. It means either ‘let be,’ ‘let us alone,’ or more probably, ‘Ah!’ a cry of wonder mixed with fear.

Having done him no hurt. This detail is added by Luke, the physician.

What is this word? Of what kind is it?

For, or ‘that,’ with authority and power (Luke 4:36). The former refers to the power which He had, the latter to its exercise.

Verses 33-44

CHRONOLOGY. This section corresponds exactly in its details with Mark 1:21-39 (Matthew 8:14-17 is the parallel to Luke 4:38-42). Mark is more exact in placing these occurrences after the calling of the first four Apostles. Luke 4:38 implies a previous intimacy with Simon Peter. Mark 1:21-22, corresponds exactly with Luke 4:31-32 of this chapter, and in the former passage it is distinctly asserted that the four disciples went with Him into Capernaum on this occasion. The miraculous draught of fishes (chap. Luke 5:1-11) therefore took place after the rejection at Nazareth, and before the miracles here recorded.

Verses 38-41

Luke 4:38-41. HEALING OF SIMON’S WIFE’S MOTHER, ETC. See on Matthew 8:14-17; Mark 1:29-34. The definite language of Mark 1:29, as well as that of Luke 4:38, show that this miracle occurred immediately after the one last recorded. (The deviation from the chronological order in Matthew’s account can be readily explained.)

With a great fever (Luke 4:33). A technical medical expression, used by Luke only.

And he stood over her (Luke 4:39). Peculiar to Luke, but implied in the other accounts.

Laid his hands on every one of them (Luke 4:40). Peculiar to Luke. The toilsome nature of our Lord’s activity is thus brought out The crying out of the demons is more distinctly asserted here (Luke 4:41), but the prohibition mentioned by Mark includes this. ‘Christ’ (Luke 4:41) is to be omitted.

Verses 42-44

Luke 4:42-44. RETIREMENT AND SUBSEQUENT PREACHING. Mark (Mark 1:35-39) is much fuller. The difference in the words of the two accounts is remarkable.

Bring the good tidings. Lit., ‘evangelize.’ The word does not occur in Matthew and Mark.

For therefore was I sent (Luke 4:43). ‘For to this end came I forth’ (Mark). The two independent accounts suggest the harmony of will between the Father and the Son in the coming work of Redemption.

He preached (was preaching, continued to preach) a different word from that in Luke 4:43, meaning to proclaim as a herald does.

In the synagogues of Judea (Luke 4:44). This is the more probable reading. If the common reading be accepted, we can identify this journey with that spoken of in Mark 1:39. Luke probably gives here a general sketch of our Lord’s first circuit in Galilee, and includes also the journey to Jerusalem, mentioned in John 5:0, which took place not very long afterwards (or before, according to some). It is characteristic of Luke to sum up or anticipate this. But as none of the first three evangelists ever allude to these earlier journeys to Jerusalem, and such an allusion here seemed strange, the transcribers soon changed ‘Judea’ into ‘Galilee,’ which is found in many ancient authorities. The latter reading is, however, retained by many editors.

Bibliographical Information
Schaff, Philip. "Commentary on Luke 4". "Schaff's Popular Commentary on the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/scn/luke-4.html. 1879-90.
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