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Luke 3

Utley's You Can Understand the BibleUtley Commentary

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Luke 3:0


The Preaching of John the BaptistJohn the Baptist Prepares the WayActivity of John the BaptistThe Preaching of John the BaptistThe Proclamation of John the Baptist
Luke 3:1-6Luke 3:1-6Luke 3:1-6Luke 3:1-6Luke 3:1-6
John Preaches to the People
Luke 3:7-14Luke 3:7-20Luke 3:7-9Luke 3:7-9Luke 3:7-9
Luke 3:10-14Luke 3:10Luke 3:10-14
Luke 3:11
Luke 3:12
Luke 3:13
Luke 3:14a
Luke 3:14b
Luke 3:15-20 Luke 3:15-20Luke 3:15-17Luke 3:15-18
Luke 3:18-20John the Baptist Imprisoned
Luke 3:19-20
The Baptism of JesusJohn Baptizes JesusJesus' BaptismThe Baptism of JesusJesus is Baptized
Luke 3:21-22Luke 3:21-22Luke 3:21-22Luke 3:21-22Luke 3:21-22
The Genealogy of JesusThe Genealogy of Jesus ChristThe Genealogy of JesusThe Ancestors of JesusThe Ancestry of Jesus
Luke 3:23-38Luke 3:23-38Luke 3:23-38Luke 3:23-38Luke 3:23-38

READING CYCLE THREE (from "A Guide to Good Bible Reading")


This is a study guide commentary, which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

Read the chapter in one sitting. Identify the subjects. Compare your subject divisions with the five translations above. Paragraphing is not inspired, but it is the key to following the original author's intent, which is the heart of interpretation. Every paragraph has one and only one subject.

1. First paragraph

2. Second paragraph

3. Third paragraph

4. Etc.


This is a study guide commentary, which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

These discussion questions are provided to help you think through the major issues of this section of the book. They are meant to be thought-provoking, not definitive.

1. Why does Luke make such an effort to date John the Baptist's ministry?

2. Why was John's message so radical in its day?

3. Why were Luke 3:7-9 so striking to the Jews of John's day?

4. Why did Herod have John killed?

5. Why was Jesus baptized?

6. Why is the genealogy in Luke different from Matthew's?

Verses 1-6

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Luke 3:1-6 1Now in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, and Herod was tetrarch of Galilee, and his brother Philip was tetrarch of the region of Ituraea and Trachonitis, and Lysanias was tetrarch of Abilene, 2in the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John, the son of Zacharias, in the wilderness. 3And he came into all the district around the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins; 4as it is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet, "The voice of one crying in the wilderness, 'Make ready the way of the Lord, Make His paths straight. 5Every ravine will be filled, And every mountain and hill will be brought low; The crooked will become straight, And the rough roads smooth; 6And all flesh will see the salvation of God.'"

Luke 3:1 "fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar" The exact date is unsure, but a date between A.D. 27 to A.D. 29 is possible.

Tiberius controlled the provinces two years before Augustus' death, however, he reigned from A.D. 14-37.

It is obvious that Luke 3:1-2 are Luke's way of precisely dating this event. Luke is far more concerned with corroborating the gospel events with secular history than any other NT author. Christianity is a historically based religion. It stands or falls on the "eventness" which the Bible records.

"Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea" See Special Topic below.


"Herod was tetrarch of Galilee" Herod Antipas, 4 B.C. - A.D. 39, was called governor or tetrarch. He was removed by Caligula for changing his title to "King." See Special Topic below.


"Philip was tetrarch of the region" Of Herod's children, Philip, 4 B.C. - A.D. 34, was the best ruler.

"Lysanias was tetrarch of Abilene" This person is mentioned only here in the NT. Josephus mentions an earlier son of Ptolemy, who ruled Chalcis, which included Abila (but not Abilene), beginning in 40 B.C. (cf. Josephus, Antiq. 15.4.1 and 14.13.3).

However, an inscription from Abilene specifically mentions a tetrarch named Lysanias. This inscription is from A.D. 11 or A.D. 14-29. Josephus also mentions a Lysanias connected to Abila (cf. Antiq. 19.5.1; 20.7.1; and Jewish Wars 2.11.5; 2.12.8). Again Luke's historicity is confirmed.

Abilene is north of Galilee and was originally part of Herod the Great's territory.

Luke 3:2 "high priesthood of Annas" His name in Greek is Hannas; Josephus calls him Hannanos. The name seems to come from the Hebrew "merciful" or "gracious" (hânân).

In the OT the high priest served for life and had to come from the lineage of Aaron. However, the Romans had turned this office into a political plum, purchased by a Levitical family. The high priest controlled and operated the merchandising in the Court of the Women. Jesus' cleansing of the Temple angered this family.

According to Flavius Josephus, Annas was the High Priest from A.D. 6-14. He was appointed by Quirinius, governor of Syria and removed by Valerius Gratus. His relatives (5 sons and 1 grandson) succeeded him. Caiaphas (A.D. 18-36), his son-in-law (cf. John 18:13), was his immediate successor. Annas was the real power behind the office. John depicts him as the first person to whom Jesus is taken (cf. John 18:13, John 18:19-22).

"Caiaphas" Caiaphas was the High Priest, appointed by Rome in exchange for a price, from A.D. 18-36. He was the son-in-law of Annas, High Priest from A.D. 6-15. This powerful family was motivated more by politics and wealth than by spirituality. It is unfair to judge all Sadducees or, for that matter, the Sanhedrin, by them.

"the word of God" This is an OT formula for God speaking to the prophets (e.g., Jeremiah 1:2). Here it is used for God's message through the last OT prophet, John the Baptist.

"in the wilderness" He was possibly a member of or a visitor to the Essene community (cf. Mark 1:4; Matthew 3:1). The wilderness was also the regular habitation of Elijah. John looked, acted, and lived like Elijah. Jesus will say he fulfills the prophecies recorded in Mal. 3-4 about the coming of Elijah before the Messiah (cf. Matthew 11:14; Matthew 17:10-13).

Luke 3:3 "baptism" The first century Palestinian background to water baptism was possibly

1. the Essene community (i.e., Dead Sea Scrolls)

2. proselyte baptism for Gentiles converts

3. a symbol of cleansing in Judaism (cf. Isaiah 1:16)

"repentance" See Special Topic below.


"forgiveness" This is a form of the common Greek term aphiçm, often used of forgiving sin (cf. Luke 5:20, Luke 5:21, Luke 5:23, Luke 5:24; Luke 7:47, Luke 7:48). This was also a medical term (aphesis) for the relaxing of disease (cf. Luke 4:39). Luke uses aphesis often in his writings but it appears only once in Matthew, twice in Mark, not in John at all, and only twice in Paul's writings.

John's task was to call Israel back from sin and faithless ritual to personal faith. His message was targeted to the covenant people who had repeatedly broken and misunderstood YHWH's covenant mercy and love. John accentuated the spiritual need that only Jesus could meet!


Luke 3:4-6 This is a quote from Isaiah 40:3-5. Only Luke gives the full quote of Luke 3:4 and 5; the other Gospels quote only Luke 3:3. This shows Luke's consistent universalism of the gospel for all people.

Notice the relevant aspects of the OT quote:

1. John was from the "wilderness."

2. John was to prepare the people for the message and ministry of Jesus the Messiah.

3. All obstacles to God, here symbolized by physical barriers, are to be removed.

4. "All flesh" will see and have available God's salvation.

Luke 3:4 "it is written" this perfect passive indicative of graphô was a Hebrew idiom used to introduce a quote from the OT. The Greek graphç was often used to describe Scripture in the NT (cf. Luke 4:21; Luke 24:27, Luke 24:32).

"in the book" This is the Greek word biblos (cf. Luke 20:42), from which we get the English word "book," and later "Bible," but here it refers to a parchment scroll (cf. Luke 4:20; Revelation 5:1-5).

"Make ready the way" This is an aorist active imperative, which denotes urgency. In the Masoretic Hebrew text, Lord (i.e., adon) is read, but YHWH is in the text. The phrase originally referred to physical preparation for a royal visit (cf. Isaiah 57:14; Isaiah 62:10). It came to refer metaphorically to the ministry of John the Baptist spiritually preparing the way for Jesus the Messiah, who is also called "Lord" (i.e., kurios).

"of the Lord" New Testament writers regularly attribute OT writings about YHWH to Jesus.

"Make His paths straight" The Masoretic Text and Septuagint have "make straight the paths of our God." Mark (or Peter) modified the text (or quotes an unknown textual form) to make it specifically relate to Jesus, not YHWH (Luke uses Mark's Gospel here).

Luke 3:5 The imagery of this verse can be understood in two ways:

1. Historically it is used of preparing a road for a royal visit.

2. Eschatologically it is used of all physical barriers being removed for God's people to be gathered to Himself.

Luke 3:6 "'all flesh will see the salvation of God'" "Salvation" is from the Septuagint; Matthew has "glory" (cf. Luke 3:30-32). Universal salvation (i.e., for all who repent and believe) is being emphasized by Luke, who is writing for a Gentile audience.

Verses 7-9

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Luke 3:7-9 7So he began saying to the crowds who were going out to be baptized by him, "You brood of vipers, who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? 8Therefore bear fruits in keeping with repentance, and do not begin to say to yourselves, 'We have Abraham for our father,' for I say to you that from these stones God is able to raise up children to Abraham. 9Indeed the axe is already laid at the root of the trees; so every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire."

Luke 3:7 "saying" This imperfect tense shows John the Baptist's repeated message.

"the crowds who were going out" This is a present middle (deponent) participle emphasizing that the crowds continued to come. There was a spiritual hunger in Israel.

"'You brood of vipers’" There was also the presence of the Jewish establishment (cf. Matthew 12:34; Matthew 23:23). This is used in Matthew 3:7 of self-righteous Sadducees. We must remember that the people looked up to and admired these religious leaders (i.e., Sadducees and Pharisees). John did not admire them at all, but called them to personal repentance and faith (cf. Mark 1:15).

"the coming wrath" Eschatological fulfillment calls for a new day of the Spirit, but also a day of judgment (cf. Matt. 24-25). To those who have much, much will be required (cf. Luke 12:48).

Luke 3:8 "bear fruits" This is an Aorist active imperative. John demanded a lifestyle change to give evidence of a true change of heart (repentance). This concept of spiritual fruit can be seen in Matthew 7:15-23; Matthew 12:33; Luke 6:39-45; Galatians 5:22-23. Eternal life has observable characteristics.

"We have Abraham for our father" These Jewish leaders were trusting in their racial lineage (cf. John 8:37-59; Galatians 3:29). The rabbis believed that God's promises to Abraham and his descendants (cf. Genesis 12:15, Genesis 12:17) were unconditional promises, but the OT prophets clearly declare they are conditioned on a faith response (cf. Luke 3:5 vs. 10:1-4). Neither the merit of the Patriarchs nor the covenants of the OT can replace repentance, personal faith, obedience, and perseverance. The gospel does not focus on genealogy, but on faith (cf. Romans 2:17-29).

"descendants. . .stones" These two words have very similar sounds in Aramaic (sons banayyâ and stone ’abnayyâ). Jesus regularly spoke Aramaic, not Koine Greek. This may be an intentional word play. It could possibly allude to the New Age prophecy of Isaiah 56:1-2.

Luke 3:9 This same metaphor of fruitlessness and the destruction of the tree is found in Matthew 7:19. This surely has an eschatological flavor. Although the Kingdom came in Jesus, it is not yet fully consummated. At the consummation a separation of judgment will occur (cf. Matthew 25:31-46 and Revelation 20:11-15). There is a spiritual principle, OT and NTwe reap what we sow (cf. Job 34:11; Psalms 28:4; Psalms 62:12; Proverbs 24:12; Ecclesiastes 12:14; Jeremiah 17:10; Jeremiah 32:19; Matthew 16:27; Matthew 25:31-46; Romans 2:6; Romans 14:12; 1 Corinthians 3:8; 2 Corinthians 5:10; Galatians 6:7-10; 2 Timothy 4:14; 1 Peter 1:17; Revelation 2:23; Revelation 20:12; Revelation 22:12).

Fire in the OT prophets is a metaphor of judgment (eighth century examples, Isaiah 5:24; Isaiah 9:18-19; Isaiah 10:16-17; Isaiah 26:11; Isaiah 33:11, Isaiah 33:12, Isaiah 33:14; Isaiah 47:14; Isaiah 64:2, Isaiah 64:11; Isaiah 66:15-16, Isaiah 66:24; and seventh century examples, Jeremiah 4:4; Jeremiah 5:14; Jeremiah 6:29; Jeremiah 11:16; Jeremiah 15:14; Jeremiah 17:4, Jeremiah 17:27; Jeremiah 21:12, Jeremiah 21:14; Jeremiah 22:7; Jeremiah 23:29; Jeremiah 43:12-13). See Special Topic at Luke 3:17.

Verses 10-14

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Luke 3:10-14 10And the crowds were questioning him, saying, "Then what shall we do?" 11And he would answer and say to them, "The man who has two tunics is to share with him who has none; and he who has food is to do likewise." 12And some tax collectors also came to be baptized, and they said to him, "Teacher, what shall we do?" 13And he said to them, "Collect no more than what you have been ordered to." 14Some soldiers were questioning him, saying, "And what about us, what shall we do?" And he said to them, "Do not take money from anyone by force, or accuse anyone falsely, and be content with your wages."

Luke 3:10 "Then what shall we do" Obviously the rules, rites, and liturgies of rabbinical Judaism were not enough. The personal application of truth is crucial in biblical faith (i.e., a heart circumcision, cf. Deuteronomy 10:16; Deuteronomy 30:6; Jeremiah 4:4; Jeremiah 9:25-26; Romans 2:28-29). We must live what we believe (cf. James 2:14-26). The gospel is a person to welcome (Jesus), truths about that person to be believed (the NT), and a life like that person to be lived (daily Christlikeness).

Luke 3:11 "tunics" This Greek word (chitôn) is thought to be a loan word from Hebrew. It is used in the Septuagint for:

1. a woman's undergarment, Genesis 3:21

2. a man's undergarment, Judges 14:19

3. a priest's undergarment, Leviticus 6:3

Moulton and Milligan, in their study of Koine Greek writings from the Egyptian papyri, The Vocabulary of the Greek Testament, p. 688, believe it is a term native to Asia Minor. It had two related meanings:

1. inner garment worn next to the skin by men and women (cf. LXX, Matthew 5:40; Matthew 10:10; Mark 6:9)

2. used generically for clothing (cf. Mark 14:63)

In this context the idea is that if people have more than they need, let them share it with others who have need (no clothes, no food).

Luke 3:12-14 "tax collectors. . .soldiers" Here are just two examples of John's ethical imperatives. Notice they (people in occupations considered unclean or evil) are not encouraged to change jobs, but to be fair and content. John is following in the OT ethical tradition of the prophets.

The verbs directed to the soldiers in Luke 3:14b are imperatives.

1. no one intimidates (aorist active imperative)

2. no one accuse falsely (aorist active imperative)

3. be satisfied with your pay (present passive imperative)

Were these Jewish soldiers? Jews often served as mercenaries (Elephantine Papyri), but most Jews under Roman occupation would not serve. The verbs used imply a heavy-handed treatment of the populace. Would Jews living in the same community treat fellow Jews this way? Rome gave Jews an exemption from serving in the military. It is possible that these were Jews who served in Herod's service and collected his taxes.

Could these be Roman soldiers or conscripts who worked with the tax collectors? The presence of kai in Luke 3:14 came to be interpreted as "even." If so, this shows Luke's interests in Gentiles hearing the good news very early, even in John's ministry. This may be another aspect of Luke's universal gospel.

Verses 15-17

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Luke 3:15-17 15Now while the people were in a state of expectation and all were wondering in their hearts about John, as to whether he was the Christ, 16John answered and said to them all, "As for me, I baptize you with water; but One is coming who is mightier than I, and I am not fit to untie the thong of His sandals; He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. 17His winnowing fork is in His hand to thoroughly clear His threshing floor, and to gather the wheat into His barn; but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire."

Luke 3:15 "in a state of expectation" The Greek term prosdokaô is used several times in Luke's writings (Gospel, six times; Acts, four times), mostly for "waiting" (as in the LXX), but also for eschatological expectations (cf. Luke 3:15; Luke 7:19-20; Luke 12:46).

"as to whether he was the Christ" This is a present active optative. Messianic expectations were kindled by John's ministry. These disclaimers serve two theological purposes:

1. to lift up and exalt Jesus

2. to help quell the early church's heresies connected to John the Baptist (cf. Acts 19:1-7 and similar emphatic disclaimers in John's Gospel, Luke 1:6-8, Luke 1:19-42).

Luke 3:16 "One is coming who is mightier than I" This message is repeated in all three Synoptic Gospels (cf. Matthew 3:11; Mark 1:7-8). John knew who he was and what his message was to be (cf. Isaiah 40:3; Malachi 3:1; Malachi 4:5-6). He was the forerunner (cf. Isaiah 40:4-5).


"I am not fit to untie the thong of His sandals" The rabbis said that their disciples should do for them what slaves do for their masters, except untie their shoes. John uses this cultural detail to show his humility and the greatness of the Messiah.

"with the Holy Spirit and fire" This phrase is used in the NT only in contexts which contrast John's water baptism with Jesus' spirit baptism (cf. Luke 3:16; Matthew 3:11; Mark 1:8; John 1:33; Acts 1:5; Acts 11:16). Therefore it is a way to show and magnify the spiritual effectiveness of Jesus' ministry. The Spirit and fire are synonymous. This phrase should not be proof texted to denote a separate work of the Spirit. It refers to initial salvation through the gospel. Fire is probably a metaphor of cleansing (cf. Leviticus 13:52, Leviticus 13:55, Leviticus 13:57), which is the forgiveness of sins (cf. Luke 3:3). John was sent to prepare, but Jesus to accomplish.


Luke 3:17 "winnowing fork" This is an OT metaphor of judgment, where one separates the grain from the husk (which is burned, cf. Job 21:17-18; Psalms 1:4; Psalms 35:5; Psalms 83:13; Isaiah 17:13; Isaiah 29:5; Isaiah 41:15-16; Jeremiah 15:7; Hosea 13:3; Zephaniah 2:2).

"gather the wheat into His barn" This is an eschatological metaphor of the righteous being gathered from an evil world to be at home with God. Notice only two possible outcomesGod's barn or the fire! Many of Jesus' parables play on these agricultural themes.

"unquenchable fire" This is the Greek word for extinguish or quench with the alpha privative, which negates it. This theme is repeated several times in the Gospels (cf. Matthew 3:12; Matthew 25:41; Mark 9:43-48). It may be an allusion to Isaiah 66:24.

The theological question which this raises is not the eternal consequences of rejecting Christ, but the presence of pain and torment without a redemptive hope (i.e., hell). An interesting book by Edward Fudge, The Fire That Consumes, deals with the option of permanent annihilation for the lost after a period of judgment. I do not want to compromise or diminish in any way the eternal consequences of unbelief. It is hard to know for sure how much of the Bible which deals with the afterlife (good and bad) is metaphorical and how much is literal. Jesus is the person who emphasizes the consequences of hell. Most of Jesus' metaphors of Gehenna come from the garbage dump in the valley and the sons of Hinnom, just south of Jerusalem where the fire god, Molech, was worshiped by the sacrifice of children. Hell is a serious reality, far worse than human languages' ability to communicate. Hell is the isolating and permanent purging of evil from God's creation!

SPECIAL TOPIC: Where Are the Dead?

Verses 18-20

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Luke 3:18-20 18So with many other exhortations he preached the gospel to the people. 19But when Herod the tetrarch was reprimanded by him because of Herodias, his brother's wife, and because of all the wicked things which Herod had done, 20Herod also added this to them all: he locked John up in prison.

Luke 3:18 "the gospel" It must be remembered that John the Baptist was the last OT prophet, not a NT gospel preacher. He did not know the full gospel. Here the sense of the term is the "good news" (i.e., gospel) of God's willingness to judge sin and God's coming full provision for sin through repentance and faith in the work of the Messiah (cf. Mark 1:15).

Luke 3:19 "Herodias" This text tells us that Herod had John killed at the instigation of Herodias. Josephus tells us he had him killed because he feared a riot (cf. Antiquities of the Jews, 18.5.2). She had been the wife of Philip, the brother of Herod Antipas (cf. Matthew 14:3). They had lived in Rome. She was also Antipas' niece through Aristobulus. Antipas had wooed her away from Philip and married her.

According to Josephus (i.e., Antiquities of the Jews 18.5.4), Herodias was married to Herod the Great's son, Herod (whose mother was Marianne, the high priest's daughter). He also says Herodias' daughter, Salome, later married Philip. It is possible that Herod was known as Herod Philip.

Luke 3:20 "locked John up in prison" Josephus tells us it was at the fortress Machaerus (cf. Antiq. 18.5.2,4). This was one of nine fortresses Herod the Great built throughout his kingdom which he used as dungeons for his enemies. Three of these nine were also palaces (Machaerus, Masada, and Herodium). Machaerus was located in the mountain on the eastern side of the Dead Sea (cf. Jewish Wars 7.6.2).

Verses 21-22

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Luke 3:21-22 21Now when all the people were baptized, Jesus was also baptized, and while He was praying, heaven was opened, 22and the Holy Spirit descended upon Him in bodily form like a dove, and a voice came out of heaven, "You are My beloved Son, in You I am well-pleased."

Luke 3:21 "Now when all the people were baptized" This implies either

1. how successfully John's preaching affected the lives of his hearers

2. that out of a larger crowd all those who responded stayed to be baptized.

"Jesus was also baptized" Why Jesus was baptized has always been a concern for believers because John's baptism was a baptism of repentance. Jesus did not need forgiveness for He was sinless (cf. 2 Corinthians 5:21; Hebrews 4:15; Hebrews 7:26; 1 Peter 2:22; 1 John 3:5). The theories have been:

1. it was an example for believers to follow

2. it was His identification with believers' need

3. it was His ordination and equipping for ministry

4. it was a symbol of His redemptive task

5. it was His approval of the ministry and message of John the Baptist

6. it was a prophetic foreshadowing of His death, burial, and resurrection (cf. Romans 6:4; Colossians 2:12)

Whatever the reason, this was a defining moment in Jesus' life. Although it does not imply that Jesus became the Messiah at this point, which is the early heresy of adoptionism (cf. The Orthodox Corruption of Scripture by Bart D. Ehrman, pp. 47-118), it held great significance for Him.

"while He was praying" Luke's Gospel, more than the others, emphasizes Jesus' prayer life (cf. Luke 3:21; Luke 5:16; Luke 6:12; Luke 9:18, Luke 9:28-29; Luke 11:1; Luke 22:41). If Jesus, the sinless Son of God, sensed the need to pray often, how much more should we!

Luke 3:22 "Holy Spirit. . .Him. . .a voice out of heaven" This is one of several passages in the NT where all three persons of the Trinity are mentioned.


"dove" This is an unusual symbol for the Spirit. God wanted all to see a physical manifestation of His Spirit on His Messiah. Some think it is related to

1. the Spirit brooding over the waters in Genesis 1:2

2. Noah's sending out a dove in Genesis 8:8-10

3. the rabbis' using it as a symbol for Israel (cf. Hosea 11:11)

John is surely mixing his metaphors to describe the Spirit's work from cleansing fire to the peace and innocence of a dove.

Luke is the only Gospel that has "in bodily form." Apparently Luke is trying to emphasize the physical manifestation of the unseen Spirit. This visible descent was not only an affirmation to Jesus, but a witness to the crowd of just-baptized hearers.

"a voice came out of heaven" This is called a bath kol. It was an interbiblical rabbinical method to communicate that a message was from God (cf. Psalms 2:7; Isaiah 42:1). God used a mechanism to which these Jewish hearers were accustomed to reveal His presence and power in Jesus.

"You are My beloved Son" This shows (1) the Father's affirmation to the Son and (2) a witness to the crowd. This is an allusion to Psalms 2:0, which is a royal Psalm of God's victory on behalf of the Davidic king (i.e., Son, cf. Luke 2:7). This title (Son) is repeated at Jesus' transfiguration (cf. Luke 9:35).

George E. Ladd, A Theology of the New Testament, p. 164, has an interesting comment about "Beloved" (agapçtos), where he asserts that it appears in the Septuagint as the translation of the Hebrew yachid, "only" (i.e., only Son, cf. Genesis 22:2; Jeremiah 6:26). Based on this he further asserts that it is synonymous with monogençs (cf. John 3:16), thus making this quote refer to Jesus as God's only, unique, one-of-a-kind Son (i.e., Messiah).

"in You I am well-pleased" This is an allusion to Isaiah 42:1 (LXX), which is one of the Servant Songs of Isaiah. In this verbal affirmation to Jesus and before the believing crowd God unites the OT concepts of royal king and suffering servant (cf. Isaiah 52:13-12). These are the very words of Mark 1:11.

An interesting discussion of the several variants related to this verse is found in Bart D. Ehrman, The Orthodox Corruption of Scripture, pp. 62-67. He asserts that the reading of MS D (which quotes Psalms 2:7) is original, but that since it gave theological support for the heresy of "adoptionism," scribes altered it.

Verses 23-38

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Luke 3:23-38 23When He began His ministry, Jesus Himself was about thirty years of age, being, as was supposed, the son of Joseph, the son of Eli, 24the son of Matthat, the son of Levi, the son of Melchi, the son of Jannai, the son of Joseph, 25the son of Mattathias, the son of Amos, the son of Nahum, the son of Hesli, the son of Naggai, 26the son of Maath, the son of Mattathias, the son of Semein, the son of Josech, the son of Joda, 27the son of Joanan, the son of Rhesa, the son of Zerubbabel, the son of Shealtiel, the son of Neri, 28the son of Melchi, the son of Addi, the son of Cosam, the son of Elmadam, the son of Er, 29the son of Joshua, the son of Eliezer, the son of Jorim, the son of Matthat, the son of Levi, 30the son of Simeon, the son of Judah, the son of Joseph, the son of Jonam, the son of Eliakim, 31the son of Melea, the son of Menna, the son of Mattatha, the son of Nathan, the son of David, 32the son of Jesse, the son of Obed, the son of Boaz, the son of Salmon, the son of Nahshon, 33the son of Amminadab, the son of Admin, the son of Ram, the son of Hezron, the son of Perez, the son of Judah, 34the son of Jacob, the son of Isaac, the son of Abraham, the son of Terah, the son of Nahor, 35the son of Serug, the son of Reu, the son of Peleg, the son of Heber, the son of Shelah, 36the son of Cainan, the son of Arphaxad, the son of Shem, the son of Noah, the son of Lamech, 37the son of Methuselah, the son of Enoch, the son of Jared, the son of Mahalaleel, the son of Cainan, 38the son of Enosh, the son of Seth, the son of Adam, the son of God.

Luke 3:23 "about thirty years of age" The exact dating of NT events is uncertain, but by comparing other NT texts, other secular histories, and modern archaeology, these dates are moving more and more in a narrow range. This text is not asserting thirty years old exactly, but in His thirties.

"being, as was supposed, the son of Joseph" Joseph is mentioned to fulfill Jewish legal requirements. The term "supposed" validates Luke's understanding and affirmation of the virgin birth (as does Luke 1:34-35).

NASB"the son of Eli" NKJV, NRSV, TEV, NJB"the son of Heli"

The only difference in spelling is the rough breathing mark. The real question is, who was Joseph's father? Luke's genealogy has Eli/Heli and Matthew's genealogy has Jacob.

There are several differences in the list of ancestors between Matthew and Luke. The best guess is that Luke records Mary's lineage. And Matthew records Joseph's lineage.

One of my favorite commentators, F. F. Bruce in Questions and Answers (p. 41) mentions another possibility for the differences between Matthew and Luke's genealogies, Matthew records the royal lineage (i.e., the line of succession to the throne of Judah), while Luke records Joseph's actual blood line (a part of the Davidic line, but not the family of royalty).

I guess my problem is that Luke's comments about Joseph being the "supposed" father of Jesus (Luke 3:23) seem to demand that Mary must be of Davidic descent also for the prophecy of 2 Samuel 7:12-16 to be fulfilled.

Luke 3:32


There are several variants related to the name.

1. Sala MSS P4, א*, (UBS4 gives it a B rating)

2. Salmôn MSS אcf8 i2, A, D, L (from Matthew 1:4, Matthew 1:5)

3. Salman some minuscules (from Ruth 4:20)

4. Salma not in Greek MSS, but in 1 Chronicles 2:11

Luke 3:33 This verse has many variants. For details see Bruce Metzger, Textual Commentary, pp. 207-208.

Luke 3:38 "the son of Adam" Matthew, written for Jews, takes the lineage back to Abraham. Luke, written for Gentiles, takes it back to Adam for the beginning of the human race. Luke even alludes to the special creation of humans (cf. Genesis 2:7) made in God's image (cf. Genesis 1:26-27).

Bibliographical Information
Utley. Dr. Robert. "Commentary on Luke 3". "Utley's You Can Understand the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ubc/luke-3.html. 2021.
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