corner graphic   Hi,    
Finding the new version too difficult to understand? Go to

Bible Commentaries

Vincent's Word Studies
Luke 4



Verse 1

Was led

So Matthew. Mark says, “The Spirit driveth, ( ὲκβάλλει ) or thrusteth him forth.

By the Spirit ( ἐν τῷ πνεύματι )

The American Revisers render in the spirit, indicating the sphere rather than the impulse of his action.

Into the wilderness

The A. V. has followed the reading εἰς into. The proper reading is ἐν , in. He was not only impelled into the wilderness, but guided in the wilderness by the Spirit.

Verse 2

Forty days

This should be joined with the preceding words, indicating the duration of his stay in the wilderness, not of his temptation, as A. V., being forty days tempted. Read as Rev., in the wilderness during forty days.

The devil

See on Matthew 4:1.

He did eat nothing

Mark does not mention the fast. Matthew uses the word νηστεύσας ,having fasted, which, throughout the New Testament, is used of abstinence for religious purposes; a ritual act accompanying seasons of prayer.

Verse 3

This stone

Matthew, these stones.

Bread ( ἄρτος )

Lit., a loaf. See on Matthew 4:3. Matthew has the plural loaves.

Verse 4

It is written

See on Matthew 4:4.

By bread ( ἐπ ' ἄρτω ͅ )

Lit., “on bread,” implying dependence. Compare, by every word ( ἐπὶ παντὶ ῥήματι , Matthew 4:4).

Verse 5

The world

See on Luke 2:1.

In a moment of time ( ἐν στιγμῇ χρόνου )

Peculiar to Luke. Στιγμή is literally a mark made by a pointed instrument, a dot: hence a point of time. Only here in New Testament. Compare στίγματα ,brand-marks, Galatians 6:17. Tynd., in the twinkling of an eye.

Verse 6

Note the emphatic position of the pronouns: “To thee will I give - for to me it hath been delivered: thou, therefore, if thou wilt worship,” etc. Luke, in his narrative, enlarges upon Matthew. Compare Matthew 4:9.

Verse 8


See on Luke 1:74.

Verse 9

He brought ( ἤγαγεν )

Rev., led. See on παραλαμβάνει ,taketh, Matthew 4:5.

Pinnacle of the temple

See on Matthew 4:5.

Down from hence

Matthew has down only.

Verse 10

To keep ( διαφυλάξαι )

Only here in New Testament. Better as Rev., guard. See on 1 Peter 1:4:. The preposition implies close, careful guarding. The phrase, to guard thee, is wanting in Matthew.

Verse 11

In their hands ( ἐπὶ χειρῶν )

Rev., correctly, on. See on Matthew 4:6.

Verse 12

It is said

For Matthew's it is written, Matthew 4:7. Luke omits Matthew's again. See Matthew 4:7.

Verse 13

Had ended all the temptation

Peculiar to Luke. The verb συντελέσας , from σύν , together, and τελέω , to accomplish, means to bring to one end together; hence to bring to an end utterly. Better therefore as Rev., completed. The temptations formed a complete cycle, so that it could afterward be said of Jesus that “he was in all points tried like as we are” (Hebrews 4:15).

All the temptation ( πάντα πειρασμὸν )

Incorrect. Rev., rightly, every temptation. So Wyc., Every temptation ended.

For a season ( ἄχρι καιροῦ )

Peculiar to Luke. More strictly, until a convenient time; since Satan meant to assail him again, as he did in the person of Peter (Mark 8:33); by the Pharisees (John 8:40 sq.); and at Gethsemane. See Luke 22:53.

Verse 15

He taught ( αὐτὸς ἐδίδασκεν )

Lit., “he himself taught,” verifying the favorable reports about himself in person. The imperfect tense denotes a course of teaching.


Verse 16


With the article; that Nazareth where he had been brought up.

Stood up

Not as a sign that he wished to expound, but being summoned by the superintendent of the synagogue.

To read ( ἀναγνῶναι )

Usually in New Testament of public reading. After the liturgical services which introduced the worship of the synagogue, the “minister” took a roll of the law from the ark, removed its case and wrappings, and then called upon some one to read. On the Sabbaths, at least seven persons were called on successively to read portions of the law, none of them consisting of less than three verses. After the law followed a section from the prophets, which was succeeded immediately by a discourse. It was this section which Jesus read and expounded. See Acts 13:15; Nehemiah 8:5, Nehemiah 8:8. For a detailed account of the synagogue-worship, see Edersheim, “Life and Times of Jesus,” i., 4:30 sq.

Verse 17

The book ( βιβλίον )

A diminutive of βίβλος ,the inner bark of the papyrus, used for writing. Hence a roll. The word is also used to denote a division of a work, and is therefore appropriate here to mark the writings of a single prophet as related to the whole body of the prophetic writings.

Opened ( ἀναπτύξας )

Lit., unrolled. Both this and the simple verb πτύσσω , to close (Luke 4:20), occur only once in the New Testament. The former word was used in medical language of the opening out of various parts of the body, and the latter of the rolling up of bandages. The use of these terms by Luke the physician is the more significant from the fact that elsewhere in the New Testament ἀνοίγω is used for the opening of a book (Revelation 5:2-5; Revelation 10:2, Revelation 10:8; Revelation 20:12); and εἰλίσσω , for rolling it up (Revelation 6:14).


As if by chance: reading at the place where the roll opened of itself, and trusting to divine guidance.

Was written ( ἦν γεγραμμένον )

Lit., was having been written; i.e., stood written.

Verse 18


See on Christ, Matthew 1:1.

To preach good tidings

See on Gospel, Superscription of Matthew.

To the poor ( πτωχοῖς )

See on Matthew 5:3.

To heal the broken-hearted

The best texts omit. So Rev.

To preach ( κηρύξαι )

Better as Rev., proclaim, as a herald. See on 2 Peter 2:5.

To the captives ( αἰχμαλώτοις )

From αἰχμή , a spear-point, and ἁλίσκομαι ,to be taken or conquered. Hence, properly, of prisoners of war. Compare Isaiah 42:7: “To bring out captives from the prison, and those who sit in darkness from the house of restraint.” The allusion is to Israel, both as captive exiles and as prisoners of Satan in spiritual bondage. Wyc. has caytifs, which formerly signified captives.

To set at liberty ( ἀποστεῖλαι )

Lit., to send away in discharge. Inserted from the Sept. of Luke 3:3, and James 5:15.

Them that are bruised ( τεθραυσμένοις )

Lit., broken in pieces. Only here in New Testament. Wyc., to deliver broken men into remission. The same Hebrew word is used in Isaiah 42:3: “a crushed reed shall he not break,” which the Septuagint translates by τεθλασμένον , a word which does not occur in the New Testament. In the citation of this latter passage (Matthew 12:20, on which see) the word for bruised is συντρίβω , which the Septuagint uses for break.

Verse 19

To preach (Rev.,proclaim ) the acceptable year of the Lord

As on the first day of the year of Jubilee, when the priests went through the land proclaiming, with sound of trumpet, the blessings of the opening year (Leviticus 25:8-17). Note Leviticus 4:10, where liberty is to be proclaimed to all in that year. Wyc., the year of the Lord pleasant. A literal interpretation of the word year gave rise among some of the Christian fathers to the theory that our Lord's ministry lasted but a single year.

Verse 20

He closed ( πτύξας )

See on Luke 4:17.

Minister ( ὑπηρέτῃ )

See on Matthew 5:25. Lit., as Rev., attendant. Minister is likely to be misunderstood as referring to the president of the congregation, whoas the teaching elder, would have addressed the people if Jesus had not done so. It means the attendant who had charge of the sacred rolls. He was a salaried officer, a kind of chapel-clerk.

Sat down

As about to teach; that being the habitual position of a Jewish teacher.

Were fastened ( ἦσαν ἀτενίζοντες )

The participle and finite verb denoting continuous, steadfast attention. The verb, from τείνω ,to stretch, denotes fixed attention. Indeed, the word attention itself, etymologically considered, conveys the same idea.

Verse 21

He began

Not necessarily denoting his first words, but indicating a solemn and weighty opening.

Verse 22

Bare him witness

Compare Luke 4:14. They confirmed the reports which had been circulated about him. Note the imperfect tense. There was a continuous stream of admiring comment. Similarly, were wondering.

At the gracious words ( λόγοις τῆς χάριτος )

Literally and correctly, as Rev., words of grace. See on Luke 1:30.

Is not ( οὐχὶ )

Expecting an affirmative answer.

Verse 23

Surely ( πάντως )

Lit., by all means. Rev., doubtless,

Proverb ( παραβολὴν )

Rev., parable. See on Matthew 13:3. Wyc., likeness.

Physician, heal thyself

A saying which Luke alone recordsand which would forcibly appeal to him as a physician. Galen speaks of a physician who should have cured himself before he attempted to attend patients. The same appeal was addressed to Christ on the cross (Matthew 27:40, Matthew 27:42).

Verse 25

A great famine was throughout all the land ( ἐγένετο λιμὸς μέγας ἐπὶ πᾶσαν τὴν γῆν )

More literally and correctly, as Rev., there came (or arose )a great famine over all the land.

Verse 27


Wyc. renders meselis, the middle-English word for a leper, and derived from misellus, a diminutive of the Latin miser, wretched.

Verse 29

The brow ( ὀφρύος )

Only here in New Testament. Wyc., cope, which is originally cap or hood. The word is used in medical language both of the eyebrows and of other projections of the body. It would naturally occur to a physician, especially since the same epithets were applied to the appearance of the eyebrows in certain diseases as were applied to kills. Thus Hippocrates, describing a deadly fever, says, “The eyebrows seem to hang over, the same word which Homer uses of a rock. So Aretaeus, describing the appearance of the eyebrows in elephantiasis, depicts them as προβλῆτες ,projecting, and όχθώδεις ,like mounds. Stanley says: “Most readers probably from these words imagine a town built on the summit of a mountain, from which summit the intended precipitation was to take place. This is not the situation of Nazareth; yet its position is still in accordance with the narrative. It is built upon, that is, on the side of a mountain, but the brow is not beneath, but over the town, and such a cliff as is here implied is found in the abrupt face of a limestone rock about thirty or forty feet high, overhanging the Maronite convent at the southwest corner of the town” (“Sinai and Palestine”)Cast him down headlong ( κατακρημνίσαι )

Only here in New Testament, and in the Septuagint only in 2 Chronicles 25:12.


Verse 31

Taught ( ἠν διδάσκων )

Correctly, as Rev., was teaching. The finite verb and participle denoting continuance.

On the Sabbath-days ( τοῖς σάββασιν )

Rev., day. The word is often used in the plural form for the single day, as in Luke 4:16; probably after the analogy of plural names of festivals, as τὰ ἄζυμα ,the feast of unleavened bread; τὰ γενέσια ,the birth-day; or perhaps following the Aramaic plural.

Verse 32

They were astonished ( ἐξεπλήσσοντο )

See on Matthew 7:28.

Verse 33

A spirit of an unclean devil

Where the rendering should be demon. This is the only case in which Luke adds to that word the epithet unclean.

Verse 34

What have we to do with thee ( τί ἡμῖν καὶ σοί )?

Lit., what is there to us and to thee? i.e., what have we in common? So Wyc.

Verse 35

Hold thy peace ( φιμώθητι )

Lit., be muzzled or gagged. See on Matthew 22:12.

Had thrown ( ῥῖψαν )

Used in connection with disease by Luke only, and only here. In medical language, of convulsions, fits, etc.

Hurt him not ( μηδὲν βλάψαν αὐτόν )

Lit., in no possible way. Mark omits this detail, which a physician would be careful to note. Βλάπτειν , to injure, occurs but twice in New Testament - here and Mark 16:18. It is common in medical language, opposed to ὠφφελεῖν , to benefit, as of medicines or diet hurting or benefiting.

Verse 36

They were all amazed ( ἐγένετο θάμβος ἐπὶ πάντες )

Lit., as Rev., amazement came upon all. Θάμβος ,amazement, is used by Luke only. The kindred verb, θαμβέομαι ,to be amazed, occurs only once in Luke (Acts 9:6), and three times in Mark; while Mark alone has the strong compound ἐκθαμβέω ,to be greatly amazed (Mark 9:15).

Verse 37

The fame ( ἦχος )

Lit., noise. Rev., rumor. Only here, Luke 21:25, where the correct reading is ἤχους ,the roaring, and Acts 2:2. Hebrews 12:19 is a quotation from the Septuagint. It is the word used in Acts 2:2 of the mighty rushing wind at Pentecost. Mark uses ἀκοὴ , in its earlier sense of a report. The same word occurs in Luke, but always in the sense in which medical writers employed it - hearing or the ears. See Luke 7:1; Acts 17:20; Acts 28:26. Ἦχος , was the medical term for sound in the ears or head. Hippocrates uses both words together: “the ears ( ἀκοαὶ ) are full of sound ( ἤχου );” and Aretaeus of the noise of the sea, as Luke 21:25.


Verse 38

Taken ( συνεχομένη )

Rev., holden. So Wyc. See on Matthew 4:24. The word is used nine times by Luke, and only three times elsewhere. Paul uses it of the constraining of Christ's love (2 Corinthians 5:14), and of being in a strait (Philemon 1:23). In Acts 28:8, it is joined with fever, as here, and is a common medical term in the same sense.

A great fever ( πυρετῷ μεγάλῳ )

Another mark of the physician. The epithet great is peculiar to Luke. The ancient physicians distinguished fevers into great and small.

Verse 39

He stood over her

As a physician might do. Peculiar to Luke.


Peculiar to Luke.

Verse 40

When the sun was setting

The people brought their sick at that hour, not only because of the coolness, but because it was the end of the Sabbath, and carrying a sick person was regarded as work. See John 5:10.

Diseases ( νόσοις )

See on Matthew 4:23. Wyc., Sick men with divers languishings.

Laid his hands on

Peculiar to Luke.

Every one

“Implying the solicitude and indefatigableness of this miraculous ministry of love” (Meyer).

Verse 41

Crying out ( κραυγάζοντα )

The inarticulate demoniac scream.


The articulate utterance.

Mr. Hobart (“Medical Language of St. Luke”) remarks that the medical bias of Luke may be seen from the words he abstains from using as well as from those he does use in respect of disease. Thus he never uses μαλακία for sickness, as Matthew does (Matthew 4:23; Matthew 9:35; Matthew 10:1), since this word is never so used in medical language, but is confined to the meaning of delicacy, effeminacy. So, too, he never uses βασανίζειν ,to torment, of sickness, as Matthew does (Matthew 8:6), as it is never so used in medical language, the word there meaning to examine some part of the body or some medical question.


Verse 42

Sought after ( ἐπεζήτουν )

Imperfect tense: were seeking.

Came unto him ( ἦλθον ἕως αὐτοῦ )

Stronger than came to; for ἕως is even up to, showing that they did not discontinue their search until they found him. Mark's narrative here is fuller and more graphic.


Copyright Statement
The text of this work is public domain.

Bibliography Information
Vincent, Marvin R. DD. "Commentary on Luke 4:4". "Vincent's Word Studies in the New Testament". Charles Schribner's Sons. New York, USA. 1887.

Lectionary Calendar
Thursday, October 29th, 2020
the Week of Proper 25 / Ordinary 30
Commentary Navigator
Search This Commentary
Enter query in the box below
To report dead links, typos, or html errors or suggestions about making these resources more useful use our convenient contact form
Powered by Lightspeed Technology