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Bible Commentaries

Vincent's Word Studies

Luke 3

Verse 1

Pontius Pilate. Wyc., Pilat of Pounce. Tetrarch. See on Matthew 14:1.

Verse 2

Came [εγενετο] . Lit., arose, or came to pass. John. The Synoptists intrduce him under different titles. Here, the son of Zacharias; Matthew, the Baptist; Mark, the Baptizer.

Verse 3

The country about Jordan. Which both Matthew and Mark call the wilderness. See on Matthew 3:1.

Baptism of repentance. Wyc., penaunce.

For [εις] . Better as Rev., unto, denoting the destination of the rite. Remission [αφεσιν] . See on James 5:15. The word occurs in Luke more frequently than in all other New Testament writers combined. Used in medical language of the relaxation of disease. Both Luke and John use the kindred verb ajfihmi, in the same sense. Luke 4:39; John 4:52.

Verse 4

Isaiah. In this prophetic citation Mark adds to Isaiah Malachi 3:1, which does not appear in either Matthew or Luke. Luke adds vv. 4, 5 of Isaiah 40:0, which do not appear in the others.

Paths [τριβους] . From tribw, to rub or wear. Hence beaten tracks.

Verse 5

Valley [φαραγξ] . Strictly, of a chasm or ravine in a mountain side. Shall be filled - brought low. In allusion to the practice of Eastern monarchs. On occasions of their progress, heralds were sent out to call on the people to clear and improve the old roads or to make new ones. "When Ibrahim Pacha proposed to visit certain places in Lebanon, the emirs and sheiks sent forth a general proclamation, somewhat in the style of Isaiah's exhortation, to all the inhabitants to assemble along the proposed route and prepare the way before him. The same was done in 1845, on a grand scale, when the Sultan visited Brusa. The stones were gathered out, the crooked places straightened, and rough ones made level and smooth. I had the benefit of these labors a few days after his majesty 's visit. The exhortation 'to gather out the stones ' (Isaiah 61:10) is peculiarly appropriate. These farmers do the exact reverse - gather up the stones from their fields and cast them into the highway; and it is this barbarous custom which, in many places, renders the paths uncomfortable and even dangerous" (Thomson, " Land and Book ").

Verse 7

He said [ελεγεν] to the multitudes that came forth [εκπορευομενοις] . The use of the tenses is graphic. He said, the imperfect, and came forth, the present participle; both denoting action in progress, or customary action; so that the sense is, he kept saying, or he used to say to those who were coming out, to the crowds of people which kept pouring out successively. Compare ejxeporeueto, went out, also imperfect, Matthew 3:5. Luke gives the substance of the Baptist's preaching summarily.

Generation [γεννηματα] . Lit., births. Rev., better, offspring. It has been observed that John's figurative language is altogether the language of the desert. Notice the succession of images : Brood of vipers; fruits (of repentance) the axe at the root of the tree; the slave boy loosing or bearing the sandals; the baptism of fire; the winnowing fan, the threshing floor, the garner, and the burning of the chaff.

Warned [υπεδειξεν] . From upo, under, and deiknumi, to shew. Hence, literally, to shew secretly. The word implies a private or confidential hint or reminder. Compare chapter Luke 12:5; Acts 9:16; Luke 20:35.

Verse 8

Fruits [καρπους] . Matthew has the singular number, karpon, friut. Repentance [της μετανοιας] . Note the article : the repentance which you profess in coming to my baptism. Rev., in margin, "your repentance." See on Matthew 3:2.

Begin. With the first accusing of your conscience. "He anticipates even attempt at excuse" (Bengel). Matthew has think not, indicating a delusive fancy.

Father. The word stands first in the sentence, "We have Abraham to our father," and is therefore emphatic, and with reason; for it was on their descent that the answer of these Jews to John's rebuke turned : " Our father is Abraham.

These stones. See on Matthew 3:9.

Verse 9

See on Matthew 3:10.

Verse 10

Asked [επηρωτων] . Imperfect tense, indicating the frequent repetition of these questions.

Coats [χιτωνας] . See on Matthew 5:40.

Verse 12

Publicans [τελωναι] . From telov, a tax, and wjneomai, to buy. The collectors of Roman imposts. The Romans farmed out the direct taxes and customs duties to capitalists, on their payment of a certain sum in publicum, into the public treasury, whence they were called publicani, publicans. Sometimes this sum, being greater than any one person could pay, was paid by a company. Under these were the submagistri, living in the provinces; and under these again the portitores, or actual custom house officers, who are referred to by the term telwnai in the New Testament. They were often chosen from the dregs of the people, and wee so notorious for their extortions that they were habitually included in the same category with harlots and sinners. "If a Jew could scarcely persuade himself that it was right to pay taxes, how much more heinous a crime must it have been in his eyes to become the questionably honest instrument for collecting them. If a publican was hated, how still more intense must have been the disgust entertained against a publican who was also a Jew" (Farrar, "Life of Christ "). The word" publican, "as a popular term of reproach, was used even by our Lord (Matthew 18:17). Even the Gentiles despised them. Farrar cites a Greek saying," All publicans are robbers. "

Verse 13

Exact [πρασσετε] . The change of the Rev., to exhort is unfortunate. The word is used of the exaction of legal tribute, and excessive exaction is expressed by the following words : John would hardly have commanded them to extort in any case.

Verse 14

Soldiers [στρατευομενοι] . Strictly, soldiers on service : hence the participle, seving as soldiers, instead of the more comprehensive term stratiwtai, soldiers by profession. Some explain it of soldiers engaged in police inspection in connection with the customs, and hence naturally associated with the publicans.

What shall we do? The we in the Greek is emphatic, closing the question.

Hence Rev., very aptly, and we, what must we do?

Do violence [διασεισητε] . Only here in New Testament. Lit., to shake violently; hence to agitate or terrify; and so to extort money from one by terrifying him. The corresponding Latin word concutere is used by later writers in the same sense. Xenophon says of Socrates : "I know of his once having heard from Crito that life at Athens was a hard thing for a man who desired to mind his own business. 'For, ' said he, 'they bring actions against me, not because they are wronged by me, but because they think I would rather pay money than have any trouble '" (" Memorabilia, "2 9, 1). For this process of blackmail, seiw, to shake, was used. Thus Aristophanes (" Knights," 840) :

"Thou shalt make much money by falsely accusing and frightening" [σειων τε και ταραττων] .

And again (" Peace, " 639) :

"And of their allies they falsely accused [εσειον] the substantial and rich" The word in this passage of Luke has the later, secondary meaning, to extort; and therefore the American Revisers rightly insist on, extort from no man by violence. It is used by medical writers, as, for instance, by Hippocrates, of shaking the palsied or benumbed limbs of a patient; or of a shaking by which the liver was relieved of an obstruction. Luke also uses two other compounds of the verb seiw : kataseiw, to beckon, Acts 12:17 (peculiar to Luke); and ajnaseiw, to stir up, which occurs also in Mark 14:11. Both these are also used by medical writers.

Accuse any falsely [συκοφαντησητε] . The common explanation of this word is based on the derivation from sukon, a fig, and fainw, to make known; hence of informing against persons who exported figs from Attica, contrary to the law, or who plundered sacred fig trees. As informers were tempted to accuse innocent persons by the reward paid for pointing out violators of the law, the verb acquired the meaning to accuse falsely. Such is the old explanation, which is now rejected by scholars, though the real explanation is merely conjectural. The fig tree was the pride of Attica, ranking with honey and olives as one of the principal products, and there is no authority for the statement that there was a time when figs were scarce, and required legal protection against export. Neither is it proven that there was a sacred kind of fig.. Rettig, in an interesting paper in the "Studien und Kritiken" (1838), explains that, as tribute in Attica was paid in kind as well as in money, and as figs represented a great deal of property, there was a temptation to make false returns of the amount of figs to the assessors; and that thus a class of informers arose who detected and reported these false returns, and received a percentage of the fine which was imposed. These were known as fig - shewers. Another writer has suggested that the reference is to one who brings figs to light by shaking the tree; and so, metaphorically, to one who makes rich men yield up the fruits of their labor or rascality by false accusation. Whatever explanation we may accept, it is evident that the word had some original connection with figs, and that it came to mean to slander or accuse falsely. From it comes our word sycophant. The sycophants as a class were encouraged at Athens, and their services were rewarded. Socrates is said by Xenophon to have advised Crito to take a sycophant into his pay, in order to thwart another who was annoying him; and this person, says Xenophon, "quickly dicovered on the part of Crito's accusers many illegal acts, and many persons who were enemies to those accusers; one of whom he summoned to a public trial, in which it would be settled what he should suffer or pay, and he would not let him off until he ceased to molest Crito and paid a sum of money besides." Demosthenes thus describes one : " He glides about the market like a scorpion, with his venomous sting all ready, spying out whom he may suprise with misfortune and ruin, and from whom he can most easily extort money, by threatening him with an action dangerous in its consequences....

It is the bane of our city that it protects and cherishes this poisonous brood, and uses them as informers, so that even the honest man must flatter and court them, in order to be safe from their machinations. " The word occurs only here and chapters 19; 8, of Zacchaeus, the publican. The American Revisers hold to the A. V., and render neither accuse any one wrongfully, extortion being described by the previous word. Wyc., neither make ye false challenge. In the Sept. it is used in the sense of to oppress or deceive.

Wages [οψωνιοις] . From oyon, cooked meat, and later, generally, provisions. At Athens, especially, fish. Compare ojyarion, fish, John 21:9, John 21:10, John 21:13. Hence ojywnion is primarily provision money, and so used of supplies and pay for an army. With this understanding the use of the word at Romans 6:23, "the wages of sin," becomes highly suggestive.

Verse 15

Mused [διαλογιζομενων] . Better as Rev., reasoned. Compare chapter Luke 1:29; and see on James 2:4.

Verse 16

One mightier [ο ισχυροτερος] . The definite article points to an expected personage. Hence better as Rev., he that is mightier.

Unloose [λυσαι] . So also Mark; but Matthew bastasai, to bear. See on Matthew 3:11.

Verse 17

Fan - floor - purge. See on Matthew 3:12.

Verse 18

Other [ετερα] . Rather, various, different.

Preached [ευηγγελιζετο] . Rev., preserves the fuller meaning of the word according to its etymology : preached good tidings. See on Gospel, Superscription of Matthew.

19, 20. Compare Matthew 14:3-5; Mark 6:17-20.

Verse 19

Being reproved [ελεγχομενος] . See on James 2:9.

Evils [πονηρων] . Of several words in the New Testament denoting evil, this emphasizes evil in its activity. Hence Satan is oJ ponhrov, the evil one. An evil eye (Mark 7:22) is a mischief working eye. See on Mark 7:22. Added [προσεθηκεν] . Used by Luke twice as often as in all the rest of the New Testament. A very common medical word, used of the application of remedies to the body, as our apply, administer. So Hippocrates, "apply wet sponges to the head;" and Galen, "apply a decoction of acorns," etc.

In prison. See on Matthew 14:3.

21 - 23. Compare Matthew 3:13-17; Mark 1:9-11.

Verse 21

Was opened [ανεωχθηναι] . So Matthew, but Mark scizomenouv, rent.

Verse 22

The Holy Ghost. Better, Spirit. Matthew has the Spirit of God : Mark, the Spirit.

In a bodily shape. Peculiar to Luke.

Thou art my beloved son. Lit., Thou art my son, the beloved. So Mark. But Matthew, This is my son, the beloved.

Verse 23

Began to be about thirty years of age [ην αρχομενος ωσει ετων τριακοντα] . Peculiar to Luke. A. V. is wrong. It should be as Rev., when he began (to teach) was about thirty years of age. ===Luke 4:0

CHAPTER IV

1 - 13. Compare Matthew 4:1-11; Mark 1:12-13.

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The text of this work is public domain.
Bibliographical Information
Vincent, Marvin R. DD. "Commentary on Luke 3". "Vincent's Word Studies in the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/vnt/luke-3.html. Charles Schribner's Sons. New York, USA. 1887.