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Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary
Luke 4



Verses 1-13

1–13.] TEMPTATION OF JESUS. Matthew 4:1-11. Mark 1:12-13.

Luke 4:1 is peculiar to Luke, and very important. Our Lord was now full of the Holy Ghost, and in that fulness He is led up to combat with the enemy. He has arrived at the fulness of the stature of perfect man, outwardly and spiritually. And as when His Church was inaugurated by the descent of the Spirit in His fulness, so now, the first and fittest weapon for the combat is “the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” The discourse of Peter in Acts 2, like our Lord’s replies here, is grounded in the testimony of the Scripture.

The accounts of Matt. and Luke (Mark’s is principally a compendium) are distinct: see notes on Matt. and Mark.

Verse 2

2.] The literal rendering of the present text will be: Jesus … was led by (in, in the power of, the ἐν of instrumentality by the conditioning element) the Spirit in the wilderness, being tempted (the pres. part. carries a slight ratiocinative force, as usual) during forty days by the devil. So that St. Luke, as also St. Mark, implies that the temptation continued the whole forty days.

οὐκ ἔφ. οὐδ. testifies to the strictness in which the term ‘fasted’ must be taken.

Verse 3

3.] τῷ λ. τ., pointing to some particular stone—command that it become a loaf.

Verse 4

4.] The citation is given in full by Matt.

Verse 5

5.] There can be little doubt that the order in Matt., in which this temptation is placed last, is to be adhered to in our expositions of the Temptation. No definite notes of succession are given in our text, but they are by Matt.: see notes there. Schleiermacher and Bleek suppose that the inversion has been made as suiting better the requirements of probability: it seeming more natural that our Lord should be first taken to the mountain and then to Jerusalem, than the converse.

Verse 6

6.] Satan is set forth to us in Scripture as the prince, or god of this world,—by our Lord Himself, John 12:31; John 14:30; John 16:11 :—by Paul, 2 Corinthians 4:4 (Ephesians 6:12). On the signification of this temptation, see notes on Matt.

Verse 8

8.] With the words ὕπ. ὀπ. μ. σ. (rec(37).) here, Luke could hardly have left the record as it stands: being the first direct recognition by our Lord of His foe, after which, and in obedience to which command, he departs from Him.

Verse 10

10.] τοῦ διαφ. σε is wanting in Matt. The LXX following the Hebrew adds ἐν πάσαις ταῖς ὁδοῖς σου.

Verse 13

13. ἄχρι καιρ.] See on Matthew 4:1, and note on ch. Luke 22:53.

Verse 14

14.] ἐν τῇ δ. τ. πν., in the power of that full anointing of the Spirit for His holy office, which He had received at His baptism: and also implying that this power was used by Him in doing mighty works.

Here the chronological order of Luke’s history begins to be confused, and the first evident marks occur of indefiniteness in arrangement, which I believe characterizes this Gospel. And in observing this, I would once for all premise, (1) that I have no bias for finding such chronological inaccuracy, and have only done so where no fair and honest means will solve the difficulty; (2) that where internal evidence appears to me to decide this to be the case, I have taken the only way open to a Commentator who would act uprightly by the Scriptures, and fairly acknowledged and met the difficulty; (3) that so far from considering the testimony of the Evangelists to be weakened by such inaccuracies, I am convinced that it becomes only so much the stronger (see Prolegomena to the Gospels).

These remarks have been occasioned by the relation of this account, Luke 4:14-30, to the Gospels of Matthew and John. Our Luke 4:14-15 embrace the narrative of Matthew in ch. Luke 4:12-25. But after that comes an event which belongs to a later period of our Lord’s ministry. A fair comparison of our Luke 4:16-24 with Matthew 13:53-58 and Mark 6:1-6, entered on without bias, and conducted solely from the narratives themselves, surely can hardly fail to convince us of their identity. (1) That two such visits should have happened, is of itself not impossible; though (with the sole exception of Jerusalem for obvious reasons) our Lord did not ordinarily revisit the places where He had been rejected as in our Luke 4:28-29. (2) That He should have been thus treated at His first visit, and then marvelled at their unbelief on His second, is utterly impossible. (Stier, in the 2nd ed. of his Reden Jesu, says, with reference to the above position of mine, “To this we give a very simple answer: It was at their persistence in unbelief, after their first emotion and confusion, after His continued teaching and working of miracles, that He wondered.” But it may fairly be rejoined, is there any sign of this in the narratives of Matt. and Mark? Is it not a forcing of their spirit to suit a preconceived notion?) (3) That the same question should have been asked on both occasions, and answered by our Lord with the same proverbial expression, is in the highest degree improbable. (4) Besides, this narrative itself bears internal marks of belonging to a later period. The ὅσα ἠκούσ. γεν. εἰς τὴν καφαρν. must refer to more than one miracle done there: indeed the whole form of the sentence points to the plain fact, that our Lord had been residing long in Capernaum. Compare too its introduction here without any notification, with its description as πόλιν τῆς γαλ. in Luke 4:31, and the separateness of the two pieces will be apparent: see further remarks in the notes below.

Here however is omitted an important cycle of our Lord’s sayings and doings, both in Galilee and Jerusalem; viz. that contained in John 1:29 to John 4:54 included. This will be shewn by comparing Matthew 4:12, where it is stated that our Lord’s return to Galilee was after the casting of John into prison, with John 3:24, where, on occasion of the Lord and the disciples baptizing in Judæa, it is said, John was not yet cast into prison: see note on Matthew 4:12.

φήμη] The report, namely, of His miracles in Capernaum, wrought ἐν τῇ δυν. τ. πν., and possibly of what He had done and taught at Jerusalem at the feast.

Verses 14-32

14–32.] CIRCUIT OF GALILEE. TEACHING, AND REJECTION, AT NAZARETH. Peculiar to Luke in this form: but see Matthew 4:12-25; Matthew 13:53-58 (38) Mark, and note below.

Verse 15

15.] Olshausen well remarks (Bibl. Comm. i. 190), that this verse, containing a general undefined notice of our Lord’s synagogue-teaching, quite takes from what follows any chronological character. Indeed we find throughout the early part of this Gospel the same fragmentary stamp. Compare ἐν τοῖς σάββασιν, Luke 4:31ἐν τῷ ἐπικεῖσθαι, ch. Luke 5:1ἐν τῷ εἶναι αὐτ. ἐν μιᾷ τ. πόλ., ch. Luke 5:12ἐν μιᾷ τ. ἡμερῶν, ch. Luke 5:17; Luke 8:22ἐν ἑτέρῳ σαβ., ch. Luke 6:6ἐν ταῖς ἡμ. ταύτ., ch. Luke 6:12, &c. &c.

Verse 16

16.] οὗ ἦν τεθραμμένος = ἐν τῇ πατρίδι σου, Luke 4:23 : see John 4:44 and note.

κατὰ τὸ εἰωθός refers to the whole of what He did—it is not merely that He had been in the habit of attending the synagogues, but of teaching in them: see Luke 4:15. It was apparently the first time He had ever so taught in the synagogue at Nazareth.

ἀνέστη ἀναγν.] The rising up was probably to shew His wish to explain the Scripture; for so ἀναγν. imports. Ezra is called an ἀναγνώστης τοῦ θείου νόμου, Jos. Antt. xi. 5. 1. The ordinary way was, for the ruler of the synagogue to call upon persons of any learning or note to read and explain. That the demand of the Lord was so readily complied with, is sufficiently accounted for by Luke 4:14-15. See reff.

Verse 17

17.] It is doubtful whether the Rabbinical cycle of Sabbath readings, or lessons from the law and prophets, were as yet in use: but some regular plan was adopted; and according to that plan, after the reading of the law, which always preceded, the portion from the prophets came to be read (see Acts 13:15), which, for that sabbath, fell in the prophet Isaiah. The roll containing that book (probably, that alone) was given to the Lord. But it does not appear that He read any part of the lesson for the day; but when He had unrolled the scroll, found (the fortuitous, i.e. providential, finding is the most likely interpretation, not the searching for and finding) the passage which follows.

No inference can be drawn as to the time of the year from this narrative; partly on account of the uncertainty above mentioned, and partly because it is not quite clear whether the roll contained only Isaiah, or other books also.

Verse 18

18. πνεῦμα κ.] See Isaiah 11:2; Isaiah 42:1.

οὗ εἵν.] because, = יִעַן.

αἰχμ. ἄφ.] See ch. Luke 13:12; Luke 13:16.

τυφλ. ἀν.] See John 9:39. The Hebrew words thus rendered by the LXX, לַאֲסוּרִים פְּקַח־קוֹהַ, signify, ‘to those who are bound, the opening of prison:’ so that we have here the LXX and literal rendering both included, and the latter expressed in the LXX words of Isaiah 58:6.

Verses 18-20

18–20.] The quotation agrees mainly with the LXX:—the words ἀποστεῖλαι τεθρ. ἐν ἀφέσει are inserted from the LXX of Isaiah 58:6. 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 (ch. 49–66), that, viz. 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.

Verse 19

19. ἐνιαυτ. κυρ. δεκ.] See Leviticus 25:8-17, where in Luke 4:10 we find that liberty was proclaimed to all in the land in the year of jubilee (in the prophecy, κηρύξαι = καλέσαι LXX). No countenance is given by this expression to the extraordinary inference from it of some of the Fathers (Clement of Alex., Origen), that the Lord’s public ministry lasted only a year, and something over. Compare John 2:13; John 6:4; John 13:1.

Verse 20

20. ἐκάθισεν] It was the custom in the synagogues to stand while reading the law, and sit down to explain it. Our Lord on other occasions taught sitting, e.g. Matthew 5:1; Mark 4:1; Mark 13:3.

The ὑπηρέτης was the חָזָן whose duty it was to keep the sacred books.

Verse 21

21.] ἤρξ. δὲ λέγειν—implying that the following words are merely the substance of a more expanded discourse, which our Lord uttered to that effect: see another occasion in Matthew 11:4-5, where the same truth was declared by a series of gracious acts of mercy.

ἡ γρ. κ. τ. λ.] Not ‘this Scripture which is in your ears’—as the Syriac (Etheridge’s translation, p. 407); which would be ἡ γρ. αὕτη ἡ ἐν τ. ., and even then an unusual form of construction: but, is fulfilled in your hearing, by My proclaiming it, and My course of ministry.

Verse 22

22.] ἐμαρτ. αὐ., bore witness to him (that it was so). The λόγοι τ. χ. must be the discourse of which Luke 4:21 is a compendium.

ἔλεγ.] i.e. πάντες, not τινές. While acknowledging the truth of what He said, and the power with which He said it, they wondered, and were jealous of Him, as being the son of Joseph—asking πόθεν τούτῳ ταῦτα: see Mark 6:2-4. Between this verse and the next, the ἐσκανδαλίζοντο ἐν αὐτῷ is implied, for that is in a tone of reproof.

Verse 23

23. θερ. σ.] Not, ‘raise thyself from thy obscure station,’ but, exert thy powers of healing in thine own country, as presently interpreted; the Physician being represented as an inhabitant of Nazareth, and σεαυτόν including His own citizens in it. Stier remarks, that the reproach was repeated under the Cross. Then, with a strictly individual application. On the miracles previously wrought in Capernaum, see note on Luke 4:14. That in John 4:47-53 was one such.

εἰς τὴν κ.] Whether we read ἐν or εἰς, the preposition is equally local in its signification, in Capernaum, not ‘in the case of Capernaum,’ or ‘to Capernaum.’

Verse 24

24.] See John 4:44 and note.

εἶπεν δέ] A formula usual with Luke—see reff.; and indicating, if I mistake not, the passing to a different source of information, or at least a break in the record, if from the same source.

Verse 25

25.] Our Lord brings forward instances where the two greatest prophets in Israel were not directed to act in accordance with the proverb, ‘Physician heal thyself:’ but their miraculous powers exerted on those who were strangers to God’s inheritance.

ἔτη τρ. κ. μ. ἕξ] So also in James 5:17;—but in 1 Kings 18:1 we find that it was in the third year that the Lord commanded Elijah to shew himself to Ahab, for He would send rain on the earth. But it does not appear from what time this third year is reckoned,—or at what time of the year, with reference to the usual former and latter rains, the drought caused by Elias’s prayer began (it apparently had begun some time before the prophet was sent to be miraculously sustained, as this very fact implies failure of the ordinary means of sustenance); and thus, without forming any further hypothesis, we have latitude enough given for the three and a half years, which seems to have been the exact time. This period is one often recurring in Jewish record and in prophecy: see Daniel 7:25; Daniel 12:7; Revelation 11:2-3; Revelation 12:6; Revelation 12:14; Revelation 13:5. Lightfoot (ii. 123) produces more instances from the Rabbinical writers. “The period of three years and a half, = 42 months or 1260 days, had an ominous sound in the ears of an Israelite, being the time of this famine, and of the duration of the desolation of the temple under Antiochus.” Wordsw.

Verse 26

26.] Sarepta, now Sŭrafend, see Robinson. iii. 413,—a large village, inland, halfway between Tyre and Sidon:—the ancient city seems to have been on the coast.

Verse 27

27.] Stier remarks that these two examples have a close parallelism with those of the Syro-Phœnician woman (Mark 7:26) and the ruler’s son at Capernaum (John 4:46).

Verses 28-30

28–30.] The same sort of rage possessed the Jews, Acts 22:22, on a similar truth being announced to them. This whole occurrence, whenever it happened in our Lord’s ministry, was but a foreshadowing of His treatment afterwards from the whole nation of the Jews—a foretaste of εἰς τὰ ἴδια ἦλθεν, καὶ οἱ ἴδιοι αὐτὸν οὐ παρέλαβον (John 1:11). The expression of St. Paul, Romans 11:25, πώρωσις ἀπὸ μέρους τῷ ἰσραὴλ γέγονεν, has been regarded as corresponding with the judicial infliction on these Nazarenes, by means of which our Lord passed out from among them. But see my note, and Ellicott’s, on Ephesians 4:18, from which it appears that πώρωσις cannot mean blindness at all.

The modern Nazareth is at a distance of about two English miles from what is called the Mount of Precipitation; nor is it built literally on the brow of that mount or hill. But (1) neither does the narrative preclude a considerable distance having been traversed, during which they had our Lord in their custody, and were hurrying with Him to the edge of the ravine; nor (2) is it at all necessary to suppose the city built on the ὀφρύς, but only on the mountain, or range of hills, of which the ὀφρύς forms a part—which it is: see Robinson, iii. 187.

Our Lord’s passing through the midst of them is evidently miraculous: the circumstances were different from those in John 8:59, where the expression is ἐκρύβη καὶ ἐξῆλθεν ἐκ τ. ἱεροῦ: see note there. Here, the Nazarenes had Him actually in their custody.

Verse 31

31 f.] Mark 1:21-22. The view maintained with regard to the foregoing occurrence in the preceding notes, of course precludes the notion that it was the reason of our Lord’s change of habitation to Capernaum. In fact that change, as remarked on Luke 4:14, had been made some time before: and it is hardly possible that such an expression as ἦλθ. εἰς τὴν ν. οὗ ἦν τεθραμμένος should be used, if He still resided there. The words πόλιν τῆς γ. come in unnaturally after the mention of καφαρν. in Luke 4:23, and evidently shew that this was originally intended to be the first mention of the place.

What may have been the reason of the change of abode is quite uncertain. It seems to have included the whole family, except the sisters, who may have been married at Nazareth,—see note on John 2:12, and Matthew 4:13.

κατῆλθ., κατέβη, John 2:12, because Nazareth lay high, and Capernaum on the sea of Galilee. The expression καὶ οὐχ ὡς οἱ γραμματεῖς (Mark) is not added by Luke: see Matthew 7:29.

Verse 33

33.] πν. is the influence, δαιμ. the personality, of the possessing dæmon. “Both St. Mark and St. Luke, writing for Gentiles, add the epithet ἀκάθαρτον to δαιμόνιον, which St. Matthew, writing to Jews (for whom it was not necessary), never does.” Wordsw. The real fact is, that St. Mark uses the word δαιμόνιον thirteen times, and never adds the epithet ἀκάθαρτον to it (his word here is πνεῦμα only); St. Luke, eighteen times, and only adds it this once. So much for the accuracy of the data, on which inferences of this kind are founded. The true account of the use of ἀκάθαρτον here seems to be, that this evil spirit was of a kind, in its effects on its victim, especially answering to the epithet.

Verses 33-37

33–37.] HEALING OF A DÆMONIAC IN THE SYNAGOGUE AT CAPERNAUM. Mark 1:23-28, where see notes. The two accounts are very closely cognate—being the same narrative, only slightly deflected; not more, certainly, than might have arisen from oral repetition by two persons, at some interval of time, of what they had received in the same words.

Verse 35

35.] μηδ. βλάψ. αὐτ. is here only. Mark’s σπαράξαν may mean ‘having convulsed him’—and our text, ‘without doing him bodily injury.’

Verse 38

38.] πενθερά, anarthrous, being in fact predicative; as in all such cases of appellatives: see ch. Luke 10:6.

πυρ. μεγάλῳ] An epithet used by Luke, as a physician;σύνηθες ἤδη τοῖς ἰατροῖς ὀνομάζειντὸν μέγαν τε καὶ μικρὸν πυρετόν. Galen de different. Febr. i. (Wetstein.) Bleek doubts this, and understands it only of the intensity of the fever.

Verses 38-41

38–41.] HEALING OF SIMON’S WIFE’S MOTHER, AND MANY OTHERS. Matthew 8:14-17. Mark 1:29-34. Our account has only a slight additional detail, which is interesting however as giving another side of an eye-witness’s evidence—it is ἐπιστὰς ἐπάνω αὐτῆς. Now this is implied in laying hold of her hand, as she was in bed; which particulars are both mentioned by Matt. and Mark:—this being one of those many cases where alteration (of κρατήσας τ. χειρ.… into ἐπιστ. ἐπ. αὐτ.) is utterly inconceivable.

Verse 40

40.] ἑνὶ ἑκάσ. αὐτ. τ. χ. ἐπ. is a detail peculiar to Luke, and I believe indicating the same as above: as also the κράζ. κ. λέγοντα implied in the other Evangelists, but not expressed.

Verse 41

41.] λαλεῖν, ὅτι … to speak, because they knew, &c.; not, ‘to say that they knew:’— λαλεῖν is never ‘to say,’ but ‘to speak,’ ‘to discourse.’

Verse 42

42.] οἱ ὄχλοι = σίμων κ. οἱ μετʼ αὐτοῦ, Mark.

The great number of sick which were brought to the Lord on the evening before, and this morning, is accounted for by Schleierm. from His departure having been fixed on and known beforehand: but it is perhaps more simple to view it, with Me(39)., as the natural result of the effect of the healing of the dæmomac in the synagogue, on the popular mind.

Verses 42-44

42–44.] JESUS, BEING SOUGHT OUT IN HIS RETIREMENT, PREACHES THROUGHOUT JUDÆA. Mark 1:35-39. The dissimilitude in wording of these two accounts is one of the most striking instances in the Gospels, of variety found in the same narration. While the matter related (with one remarkable exception, see below) is nearly identical, the only words common to the two are εἰς ἔρημον τόπον.

Verse 44

44.] See Matthew 4:23-25 and notes.

καὶ ἦν κηρ.… is a formal close to this section of the narrative, and chronologically separates it from what follows.

The reading τῆς ἰουδαίας must, on any intelligible critical principles, be adopted; and Tregelles can hardly be acquitted of inconsistency with his own usual practice, in rejecting it. It is utterly inconceivable that it should have been a correction, seeing that γαλιλαίας stands firm, with no various reading, in (40) Mark, from which the re(41). reading here has come. (See however Mark 1:28, where (42) has ἰουδαίας for γαλιλαίας: and Isaiah 9:1, where εἰς τὰ μέρη τῆς ἰουδαίας is added to the Hebrew, by (43) (44) and one other uncial MS.) This view is confirmed by the fact that two evangelistaria here read τοῖς ἰουδαίοις; one, τῶν ἰουδαίων, both being attempts to escape from the difficulty of τῆς ἰουδαίας; while one adopts αὐτῶν, part of the sentence in (45) Mark. So far, however, being plain, I confess that all attempts to explain the fact seem to me futile. The three Evangelists relate no ministry in Judæa, with this single exception. And our narrative is thus brought into the most startling discrepancy with that of St. Mark, in which unquestionably the same portion of the sacred history is related. Still, these are considerations which must not weigh in the least degree with the critic. It is his province simply to track out what is the sacred text, not what, in his own feeble and partial judgment, it ought to have been.


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Bibliography Information
Alford, Henry. "Commentary on Luke 4:4". Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary. 1863-1878.

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Thursday, October 22nd, 2020
the Week of Proper 24 / Ordinary 29
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