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Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Luke 1:17

"It is he who will go as a forerunner before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah, TO TURN THE HEARTS OF THE FATHERS BACK TO THE CHILDREN, and the disobedient to the attitude of the righteous, so as to make ready a people prepared for the Lord."

Adam Clarke Commentary

He shall go before him - Jesus Christ, in the spirit and power of Elijah; he shall resemble Elijah in his retired and austere manner of life, and in his zeal for the truth, reproving even princes for their crimes; compare 1 Kings 21:17-24, with Matthew 14:4. It was on these accounts that the Prophet Malachi, Malachi 4:6, had likened John to this prophet. See also Isaiah 40:3; and Malachi 4:5, Malachi 4:6.

To turn the hearts of the fathers - Gross ignorance had taken place in the hearts of the Jewish people; they needed a Divine instructer: John is announced as such; by this preaching and manner of life, all classes among the people should be taught the nature of their several places, and the duties respectively incumbent upon them, See Luke 3:10, etc. In these things the greatness of John, mentioned Luke 1:15, is pointed out, Nothing is truly great but what is so in the sight of God. John's greatness arose:

  1. From the plenitude of God's Spirit which dwelt in him.
  • From his continual self-denial, and taking up his cross.
  • From his ardent zeal to make Christ known.
  • From his fidelity and courage in rebuking vice.
  • From the reformation which he was the instrument of effecting among the people; reviving among them the spirit of the patriarchs, and preparing their hearts to receive the Lord Jesus.
  • To turn the hearts of the fathers to their children. By a very expressive figure of speech, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and the rest of the patriarchs, are represented here as having their hearts alienated from the Jews, their children, because of their unbelief and disobedience; but that the Baptist should so far succeed in converting them to the Lord their God, that these holy men should again look upon them with delight, and acknowledge them for their children. Some think that by the children, the Gentiles are meant, and by the fathers, the Jews.

    The disobedient - Or unbelieving, απειθεις, the persons who would no longer credit the predictions of the prophets, relative to the manifestation of the Messiah. Unbelief and disobedience are so intimately connected, that the same word in the sacred writings often serves for both.


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    Bibliography
    Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Luke 1:17". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/luke-1.html. 1832.

    Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

    Shall go before him - Before the Messiah. The connection here leads us to suppose that the word “him” refers to the “Lord their God” in the previous verse. If so, then it will follow that the Messiah was the Lord God of Israel - a character abundantly given him in other parts of the New Testament.

    In the spirit and power of Elias - See the notes at Matthew 11:14.

    To turn the hearts of the fathers to the children - In the time of John the Jews were divided into a number of different sects. See the notes at Matthew 3:7. They were opposed violently to each other, and pursued their opposition with great animosity. It was impossible but that this opposition should find its way into families, and divide parents and children from each other. John came that he might allay these animosities and produce better feeling. By directing them all to “one Master,” the Messiah, he would divert their attention from the causes of their difference and bring them to union. He would restore peace to their families, and reconcile those parents and children who had chosen different sects, and who had suffered their attachment “to sect” to interrupt the harmony of their households. The effect of true religion on a family will always be to produce harmony. It attaches all the family to “one” great Master, and by attachment to him all minor causes of difference are forgotten.

    And the disobedient to the wisdom of the just - The “disobedient” here are the unbelieving, and hence the impious, the wicked. These he would turn to the wisdom of the just, or to such wisdom as the “just” or pious manifest - that is, to true wisdom.

    To make ready a people … - To prepare them for his coming by announcing that the Messiah was about to appear, and by calling them to repentance. God has always required people to be pure in a special manner when he was about to appear among them. Thus, the Israelites were required to purify themselves for three days when he was about to come down on Mount Sinai, Exodus 19:14-15. And so, when God the Son was about to appear as the Redeemer, he required that people should “prepare” themselves for his coming. So in view of the future judgment - the second coming of the Son of man - he requires that people should repent, believe, and be pure, 1 Peter 4:7; 2 Peter 3:11-12.


    Copyright Statement
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    Bibliography
    Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Luke 1:17". "Barnes' Notes on the New Testament". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/luke-1.html. 1870.

    The Biblical Illustrator

    Luke 1:17

    The hearts of the fathers to the children

    Drawing lightning

    Science tells us that the best defence against lightning in a thunderstorm is found, not in defiance of it, but in a silent discharge of it.
    Go right towards it fearlessly with a pointed plantina wire, and it will follow a fixed law of harmless dispersion. Is there any way by which the power of one of God’s curses can be drawn, so as to avert the terrible stroke of Divine wrath? Let us see. This text refers us directly back to the final utterance of the Old Testament. There are four books in the Bible which end with a curse: Malachi, Lamentations, Isaiah, and Ecclesiastes. The Hebrew scribes were always accustomed to repeat the verse just before the last in these cases, so as to close the reading with something besides a malediction. It is not easy to see how that helps the matter in the present instance, for the preceding prediction seems to have been uttered merely to introduce the warning. And perhaps it is just as profitable to believe that the best way to avoid the judgments of God is to guard carefully against deserving them. After the last seer under the ancient dispensation had spoken the words which the evangelist quotes, the heavens were closed for four hundred years. Jehovah had not another message to send. His people had offended him. Justice comes almost fiercely forth, and bars the gate of revelation, because children are despised. And not until four centuries of silence had given time for repentance, would those bolts be withdrawn. Even then it is a little child who advances to turn the massive key. History wanders sadly in confusion among the captivities and Maccabean usurpations. Only an infant can join the Testaments. Luke is the next man to Malachi. The sternest of all Israel’s prophets reappears in the sternest of all heralds to the Church … A wild threat, four hundred years old, is suddenly removed in a flash of benediction. The curse of Malachi is omitted in Luke--the lightning is drawn. The gospel fulfils the law when it accepts children. God receives the fathers into favour and communion again, when their hearts are turned to their offspring … How much are you doing in this day of gospel privilege to bring the hearts of fathers back to their children? Do we need another prophet, with his hairy raiment and his leathern girdle, to come forth from the wilderness? (
    C. S. Robinson, D. D.)

    The pioneer of the gospel

    Whereas Matthew and Mark introduced John Baptist to the notice of their readers at the advanced period of his preaching in the wilderness of Judea, and his baptising his followers in Jordan, Luke commences with the Baptist’s genealogy and birth, and states many particulars relating to his early history, which, though they had been far less remarkable in themselves, would have been interesting in reference to one who afterwards became so conspicuous, but which are peculiarly important as additional evidences of the Divine mission, and additional illustrations of the office both of the Baptist himself, and of that illustrious Deliverer and King before whom he was to proceed as a pioneer to clear the way. (James Foote, M. A.)

    The prepared people

    All life is a preparation to meet God. This is the clue of life’s labyrinth. Preparations are often confused things. They are times of unsettling, full of noise and disorder, and apparent contradiction; till the end comes, and explains it all. So this world--it is made up of strange things, which move above us and within us, and seem to have little purpose and no concert. They range wildly. There are beginnings without endings; and there are endings without beginnings. A great many things do not fit. It is hard to tell what it all means. It is a pleasant thought to remember that your preparation, as it goes on, day by day, is only a reflection of what is going on in the other world. There, too, it is all preparation. The saints and the angels are all busy preparing. The preparations of earth are to meet the preparations of heaven. He has prepared His mercy, and He has prepared His truth. It is a prepared heaven; it is a prepared kingdom; a prepared city; a prepared throne; a prepared seat. And when both preparations are complete--a prepared soul, and a prepared heaven--what perfectness! what love! what rest! what quietness! What and if the Pure should come, and find impurity? What and if the Holy should come and find irreverence? What and if the Spirit come, and find nothing but flesh? What and if Wisdom come, and find ignorance? What and if Love come, and find selfishness and unkindness? First, you must be prepared to know your Lord when He comes. This John taught very expressly. He placed the people in a position that they should know and recognize Christ when He should arrive. You must have read Him in the prophecies--you must have walked with Him in the gospel--you must have sat with Him in all the manifestations of His grace--you must have traced Him in His reflections about the universe--you must have felt His inward dwelling in you by the Holy Ghost. Then He will be no new, strange Christ to you when He comes. And if you would be “prepared for the Lord,” you must have a deep sense of sin. “Repent ye, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” No one must stand there who has not learnt to stoop very low. Thirdly, you must be exact, faithful, diligent in your daily proper duties--doing whatever you do heartily--a man of large charities--a man of unselfish habits--a man of strict integrity in business--a man of self-government--a man of moderation--a man of content--a man of humility. “Hethat hath two coats, let him impart to him that hath none; and he that hath meat, let him do likewise.” “Exact no more than that which is appointed you.” Fourthly, you must be baptized--not with the baptism of water only, but with the baptism of the Spirit; and not with the baptism of water and of the Spirit only, but with the baptism of shame, of scorn, of suffering, of death--“baptized with the Holy Ghost, and with fire.” And fifthly, you must be much in the use of the ordinances--loving the shadows till the substance comes. (J. Vaughan, M. A.)

    The spirit and power of the Baptist

    The spirit and power of Elijah rested upon the Baptist, and the same gift is needed by us now. For, what is the end and purpose of all the religious activity we see abroad and at home, but to turn people’s hearts to wisdom, to make ready a people prepared for the Lord? Let us see, then, what was this spirit and power which made the Baptist so successful? And notice, to begin with, it was nothing wonderful, nothing out of the way. We are expressly told that “John did no miracle.” The spirit and power of the Baptist is, therefore, a gift within the reach of every one of us.

    I. OBSERVE, FIRST, HIS DECISION FOR GOD. No halting between two opinions. The Baptist was not “ a reed shaken with the wind,” but one who had considered matters well, and comes to a firm decision respecting the salvation of God.

    II. NOTICE, NEXT, HIS SEPARATION FROM THE WORLD. He lived as much as possible in retirement, communing with his own soul and with God, While in the world, he was never of the world.

    III. CONSIDER, ONCE MORE, HIS BOLD, CONSISTENT TESTIMONY TO THE TRUTH.

    1. Before all classes of his countrymen, from the lowest to the highest.

    2. In spite of opposition and persecution. Conclusion: Such qualities as these made the Baptist a power for good, and thus was he in the spirit and power of Elias.

    Are we following in his steps? There must be found in us these same qualities, if our life is to be as grand a moral success as was his.

    1. The same decision. Half-heartedness is of no use at all in what concerns the soul.

    2. The same unworldliness. Not necessarily separation from the world--that is for the few; but (what is found by many to be a far harder thing) living in the world, doing its duties faithfully and well, and at the same time living the higher life that is hidden with Christ in God, and looking for the new heaven and the new earth wherein dwelleth righteousness.

    3. The same stedfast witnessing to the truth.

    An upright and honest life is the best testimony to the spirit and power in which we move, and it will carry us triumphantly over every obstacle and difficulty that we encounter, until we reach the peaceful haven where we would be, and bask in the perpetual sunshine of the presence of God. (George Low, M. A.)

    The wisdom of the just

    Let us try the wisdom of the religious choice by the happiness which follows.

    I. There is a content and satisfaction in the mind, from the very consciousness and remembrance of our having listened to the voice from heaven.

    II. I next observe, that the gospel brings happiness to every sincere believer, by giving him the blessing of peace in the assurance of pardon.

    III. The wisdom of the just, however it may be called in question, however reviled, by unconverted or ungodly men, who cannot possibly appreciate or understand it, is manifested through the whole course of the believer’s life. “He that walketh uprightly, walketh surely.” “The way of the wicked is as darkness: they know not at what they stumble: “ they are continually encompassed with evil, without ascertaining the cause or the cure. “But the path of the just is as the shining light, which shineth more and more unto the perfect day.”

    IV. But the wisdom of the just is not to be fully known on this side the grave There will come a day, when it will appear even to the slowest of belief, without a shadow and without a doubt. “When the Lord comes to make up His jewels,” the preciousness of those jewels, and the joy of being gathered amongst them, will be perfectly manifest, both to friends and foes; to the one, by their admission into His heavenly kingdom; to the other, by their being cast away. (J. Slade, M. A.)

    The spirit and power of Elias

    whom John closely resembled in--

    1. The endowments of his mind.

    2. The habits of his life.

    3. The exercise of his ministry. (C. Simeon.)

    How, and in what sense, was Malachi’s prediction of the Messenger fulfilled in John the Baptist? To this question the New Testament furnishes a singularly full and abundant reply. It really seems as though, not only the mind of the Baptist, but also the minds of all who speak of him, were steeped in the prophecy of Malachi, and saturated with it. There is hardly a word said of or by him which does not take new meaning and force so soon as we read it in the light of Malachi’s lamp. In St. Matthew’s Gospel (chap. 3.), we have our fullest account of the Baptist’s appearance and ministry. We are there told that his first word, his master-word, was “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand”; that is, “Take a new view; get a new mind; think; think back on your habits and ways, and mend them; for the King, long promised to your fathers, is about to appear.” This was the very mission which Malachi ascribed to the messenger of the Lord. John’s peculiar mode of life, as described in the same chapter, tends to the same conclusion (Matthew 3:4). Doubtless John assumed these outward marks of resemblance to the great Tishbite, in order to call attention to the inward resemblance between them as a sign that he had come “in the spirit and power of Elijah.” The same reason for a sad and austere life existed in both eases. The “preacher of repentance” should himself be a penitent. Elijah and John, each in his turn, came forth as a personification of repentance, showing the people, in his own conduct, what their conduct should be. Both these austere voices from the wilderness called men to repent, both sought to “turn the hearts of men back again” to God. (Samuel Cox, D. D.)

    A father reconciled to his son

    A mother in New York whose son had got into dissipated and abandoned habits, after repeated remonstrances and threats, was turned out of doors by his father, and he left vowing he would never return unless his father asked him, which the father said would never be. Grief over her son soon laid the mother on her dying bed, and when her husband asked if there was nothing he could do for her ere she departed this life, she said, “Yes, you can send for my boy.” The father was at first unwilling, but at length, seeing her so near her end, he sent for his son. The young man came, and as he entered the sick-room his father turned his back upon him. As the mother was sinking rapidly, the two stood on opposite sides of her bed, all love and sorrow for her, but not exchanging a word with each other. She asked the father to forgive the boy; no, he wouldn’t until the son asked it. Turning to him, she begged of him to ask his father’s forgiveness; no, his proud heart would not let him take the first step. After repeated attempts she failed, but as she was just expiring, with one last effort she got hold of the father’s hand in one hand, and her son’s in the other, and exerting all her feeble strength, she joined their hands, and, with one last appealing look, she was gone. Over her dead body they were reconciled, but it took the mother’s death to bring it about. So, has not God made a great sacrifice that we might be reconciled--even the death of His own dear Son? (D. L. Moody.)


    Copyright Statement
    These files are public domain.
    Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.

    Bibliography
    Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on "Luke 1:17". The Biblical Illustrator. https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tbi/luke-1.html. 1905-1909. New York.

    Coffman's Commentaries on the Bible

    And he shall go before his face in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to walk in the wisdom of the just; to make ready for the Lord a people prepared for him.

    And he shall go before his face ... This is obviously an error in the English Revised Version (1885), this being a clause in which the KJV, the NEB, and the RSV concur in the reading, "And he shall go before him ... etc." A good deal of importance attaches to this, because, as Summers noted, "The immediate antecedent of the pronoun `him' appears to be `God' in Luke 1:16."[17] and this accounts for the rendition in Phillips translation which reads, "He will go out before God ... etc." Thus, an archangel delivered the word that John the Baptist would go before God as a herald; and thus, in the fullness of time, when John went before Jesus, which was the very thing the angel had in view here, it was the same as going before God, thus attesting the fact of Jesus' absolute identification with the Father. Therefore, one finds here on the first page of Luke's Gospel the same thought expressed more fully by John who said that "the Word was God" (John 1:1).

    In the spirit and power of Elijah ... In these words, an angel of God explained what was meant by the promised coming of Elijah (Malachi 4:5,6). The express terminology of Malachi's prophecy was used here by the angel; and, therefore, there was no excuse for the refusal of the Pharisees and other leaders of Israel to recognize John the Baptist as the fulfillment of Malachi's prophecy. Not only was there this specific heavenly identification of the promised son as that "Elijah," but there was the additional fact of John's conformity to the pattern of clothing worn by the first Elijah. Jesus, of course, confirmed the word of the angel, citing John the Baptist as the Elijah who was to come (Matthew 17:9-13).

    Turn the hearts of the fathers to the children ... etc. These are plainly the words of Malachi 4:5,6; but what do they mean? There seems to be a metaphor here in which the fathers, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, etc. have turned away their hearts from the rebellious Israelites. Therefore, the preaching of the great herald will cause many to repent, leading to turning the fathers' hearts to the children.

    And the disobedient to walk in the wisdom of the just ... This is the same as "turning the hearts of the children to the fathers," as it is stated in Malachi, meaning that they will repent and again honor the faith of their father Abraham. There is, of course, the obvious fact that much more than metaphor is intended here. Moses and Elijah who were also among "the fathers," appeared in conversation with Jesus in the transfiguration; and from this the deduction could be made that "the fathers" referred to by the angel in this passage were fully aware of Israel's apostasy, and that the reunification of children and fathers would be a reality, although spiritual, and not merely a figure of speech. Of course, the envisioned unity would be accomplished only in the persons who would repent and turn to God under John's preaching.

    To make ready for the Lord a people prepared for him ... This was indeed achieved, even though on a smaller scale than would have been desirable. Some of the apostles were first disciples of John. (John 1:35ff).

    ENDNOTE:

    [17] Ray Summers, op. cit., p. 26.


    Copyright Statement
    James Burton Coffman Commentaries reproduced by permission of Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. All other rights reserved.

    Bibliography
    Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on Luke 1:17". "Coffman Commentaries on the Old and New Testament". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bcc/luke-1.html. Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.

    John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

    And he shall go before him,.... The Lord his God, the Lord Jesus Christ, whose forerunner he was; the messenger of him, that according to the prophecies in Isaiah 40:3 was to go before him, and prepare his ways; as he did by his wonderful conception and birth, which made way for the more easy belief of the conception and birth of the Messiah, by a virgin; and by his preaching the doctrine of repentance, and administering the ordinance of baptism; which, were done to awaken the people's expectation of the Messiah, and that he might be made manifest in Israel, and by pointing him out to them in his preaching:

    in the spirit and power of Elias: or Elijah, the Syriac and Persic versions add, "the prophet"; John the Baptist, and Elijah, were men much of the same spirit and disposition, and of like power, life, and zeal in religion; and therefore the one goes by the name of the other: they both much conversed in the wilderness; agreed in the austerity of their lives; their habit and dress were much alike; they were both restorers of religion, when very low, and much decayed; were famous for their faithfulness in reproving the vices of kings, and for their warm zeal for true religion, and for the persecution they endured for the sake of it:

    to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children in Malachi 4:6 which is the prophecy referred to, it is added,

    and the heart of the children to their fathers; which some understand, of his turning the degenerate offspring of the Jews, to the sentiments of their forefathers, and causing them to agree with them in their notions of the Messiah: others, of the turning of the Jews to Christ, and his apostles; and others, of his being a means, through his ministry and baptism, of reconciling Jews and Gentiles together, which is the great business of the Gospel dispensation, ushered in by John; and who preached that all men should believe in Christ, and baptized publicans and Roman soldiers, as well as Jews; and which sense pretty much agrees with the interpretation the Jews put upon the prophecy, as referring to Elijah the Tishbite, whom they expect in person, before the coming of the Messiah: sayF21Misn. Ediot, c. 8. sect. 7. they,

    "Elijah comes to defile and to cleanse (i.e. to pronounce what things are clean or unclean), and to remove afar off, and to bring near (i.e. to determine what families are legitimate or illegitimate). R. Simeon says, "to compose differences"; and the wise men say, neither to remove, nor to bring near, but לעשות שלום, "to make peace" in the world; as it is said, "behold, I send unto you Elijah the prophet", &c. "and he shall turn the heart of the fathers", &c.

    But the true meaning is, that John the Baptist, who is meant by Elias, should be an instrument of turning fathers with their children, and children with their fathers, to the Lord; that he should be a means of converting both fathers and children, one as well as another; and to gather persons of every age and station; for the particle על which we render "to", is the same as עם, "with", as Kimchi on the text observes: "and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just". By the "disobedient" are meant, either Jews or Gentiles; some understand it of the Gentiles, who were children of disobedience, before the light of the Gospel came among them: but rather the former are meant, who were a disobedient, rebellious, and gainsaying people; who were gone off from the wisdom, knowledge, and religion, of the just, or righteous ones, their forefathers; who prophesied of Christ, rejoiced to see his day, longed for him, and believed in him: now John was to be an instrument of turning some of the unbelieving Jews, to the true knowledge of salvation by Christ; which their righteous progenitors waited for, had a right knowledge of, and an interest in: and of leading them either into the Gospel of Christ, that wisdom of God is a mystery; the manifold wisdom of God, in which he has abounded in all wisdom and prudence: and which the righteous men among the Jews, searched diligently into, attained some knowledge of, and which even the holy angels desire to look into; so the patriarchs were called just, or righteous; as righteous Abel, just Noah, &c. and so the Jewish fathers: hence in the Targum on Jeremiah 12:5 mention is made of thy fathers, צדיקיא "the just", who were of old: or to Christ himself, who is the wisdom of God, and in whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge, to know him, and believe in him; who in the same Targum on Jeremiah 23:5 is called משיח דצדיקיא, "the Messiah of the just",

    To make ready a people prepared for the Lord. The Vulgate Latin and Syriac versions read, "a perfect people"; and the Persic version, "all the people": not all the people of the Jews, but God's elect among them who from all eternity were "prepared", as a people in a covenant relation, as the portion of Christ, and as his spouse and bride, and as such, given to him; they were in electing grace, vessels of mercy, afore prepared for glory; and heaven, as a kingdom, was prepared for them from the foundation of the world: they were provided with all spiritual blessings, which were prepared for them, and bestowed on them in heavenly places, in Christ, before the foundation of the world; even all their grace, and all their glory; yea, even their good works are such, which God has foreordained, or foreprepared that they should walk in. Now, the work of John the Baptist, was "to make ready" this people, by pointing out to them, in a ministerial way, wherein their readiness lay, to meet the Lord, and be for ever with him in heaven; not in a civil, moral, or legal righteousness; or in outward humiliation for, and abstinence from sin; nor in a submission to Gospel ordinances, and in a mere profession of religion, and in an observance of a round of duties; but in justification by the righteousness of Christ, and in regeneration and sanctification, by his Spirit and grace; the one giving a right to, the other a meetness for the heavenly inheritance: and John; and so any other Gospel minister, may be said to make ready a people, in this sense; when they are the instruments of the regeneration and conversion of sinners, and of leading them to the righteousness of Christ, for their justification before God, and acceptance with him,


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    Bibliography
    Gill, John. "Commentary on Luke 1:17". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/luke-1.html. 1999.

    Geneva Study Bible

    And he shall go r before him s in the spirit and power of Elias, to turn the t hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the u wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.

    (r) As they used to go before kings, and when you see them, you know the king is not far off.

    (s) This is spoken by the figure of speech metonymy, taking the spirit for the gift of the spirit; as you would say, the cause of that which comes from the cause.

    (t) By the figure of speech synecdoche he shows that he will take away all types of enmities which used to breed great troubles and turmoils among men.

    (u) Wisdom and goodness are two of the main causes which make men revere and honour their fathers.


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    These files are public domain.
    Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.

    Bibliography
    Beza, Theodore. "Commentary on Luke 1:17". "The 1599 Geneva Study Bible". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/gsb/luke-1.html. 1599-1645.

    Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

    before him — before “the Lord their God” (Luke 1:16). By comparing this with Malachi 3:1 and Isaiah 40:3, it is plainly “Jehovah” in the flesh of Messiah [Calvin and Olshausen] before whom John was to go as a herald to announce His approach, and a pioneer o prepare His way.

    in the spirit — after the model.

    and power of Elias — not his miraculous power, for John did no miracle” (John 10:41), but his power “turning the heart,” or with like success in his ministry. Both fell on degenerate times; both witnessed fearlessly for God; neither appeared much save in the direct exercise of their ministry; both were at the head of schools of disciples; the success of both was similar.

    fathers to the children — taken literally, this denotes the restoration of parental fidelity [Meyer and others], the decay of which is the beginning of religious and social corruption - one prominent feature of the coming revival being put for the whole. But what follows, explanatory of this, rather suggests a figurative sense. If “the disobedient” be “the children,” and to “the fathers” belongs “the wisdom of the just” [Bengel], the meaning will be, “he shall bring back the ancient spirit of the nation into their degenerate children” [Calvin, etc.]. So Elijah invoked “the God Abraham, Isaac, and Israel,” when seeking to “turn their heart back again” (1 Kings 18:36, 1 Kings 18:37).

    to make ready, etc. — more clearly, “to make ready for the Lord a prepared people,” to have in readiness a people prepared to welcome Him. Such preparation requires, in every age and every soul, an operation corresponding to the Baptist‘s ministry.


    Copyright Statement
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    Bibliography
    Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Luke 1:17". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfb/luke-1.html. 1871-8.

    John Lightfoot's Commentary on the Gospels

    17. And he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elias, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.

    [In the Spirit and power of Elias.] I. The Baptist is Elias, as our Saviour was David; that is, the antitype, Jeremiah 30:9; Malachi 4:5; Hosea 3:5, &c. It is less wonder that the Jews, from the words of Malachi, should expect the personal coming of Elijah, since there are not a few Christians that would be looking for the same thing, although they have an angel in this place interpreting it otherwise, and our blessed Saviour elsewhere himself [Matt 11:14]; "This is Elias which was for to come." But they misunderstood the phrase of the "great and dreadful day of the Lord"; as also were deceived into the mistake by the Greek version, "that Elias must come before the last judgment."

    II. It is not said by the prophet Malachi, "Behold I will send you Elijah the Tishbite," but "Elijah the prophet"; which perhaps might be better rendered, "Behold I send you a prophet Elijah." And I may confidently say it would not be so wide from the sense and meaning of Malachi as the Greek interpreters, who by a prodigious daringness in favour of the Jewish traditions, have rendered it, I send you Elijah the Tishbite.

    III. If I mistake not, "Elias the prophet" is but twice mentioned (I mean in those very terms) throughout the whole book of God: once in this place in Malachi, the other in 2 Chronicles 21:12. And in both those places I believe it is not meant Elijah the Tishbite in his own person, but some one in the spirit and power of him. That the words in Malachi should be so understood, both the angel and our Saviour teach us, and it seems very proper to be so taken in that place in the Chronicles.

    IV. That great prophet that lived in Ahab's days is called the Tishbite, throughout the whole story of him, and not the prophet. Nor is he called the prophet, Luke 4:25 (where yet it is said, 'Eliseus the prophet'); nor by St. James 5:17. For the very word Tishbi, which is his epithet, sufficiently asserts his prophetic dignity when it denotes no other than a converter. For whence can we better derive the etymology? to which indeed the prophet Malachi seems to have alluded, "Behold, I send you Elijah the prophet, and he shall turn," &c.

    V. But be it so that he might be called Tishbite from the city Toshab, as the Targum and other Rabbins would have it (which yet is very farfetched), that very thing might evince that it is not he himself that is meant by Malachi, but some other, because he doth not mention the Tishbite, but a prophet Elias, that is, a prophet in the spirit of Elias.

    So among the Talmudists, any one skilled in signs and languages is called Mordecai, viz. because he is like him who lived in the days of Ahasuerus.

    [To turn the hearts of the fathers to the children.] John came in the power of Elias; not that power by which he wrought miracles [for John wrought none, John 10:41]; but "in the power of Elias turning the hearts of men," &c. Elias turned many of the children of Israel towards the Lord their God, 1 Kings 18: so did John, who over and above "turned the hearts of the fathers towards their children." Which what it should mean is something dark and unintelligible. You will hardly allow the Jews' gloss upon this place, who do so greatly mistake about the person, and who will allow nothing of good to be done by the Elias they expect, but within the compass of Israel. But are not the Gentiles to be converted? They in the prophets' dialect are 'the children of Zion, of Jerusalem, of the Jewish church': nothing more frequent. And in this sense are the words of Malachi we are now handling to be understood: 'Elias the Baptist will turn the hearts of the Jews towards the Gentiles, and of the Gentiles towards the Jews.' This was indeed the great work of the gospel, to bring over the Jew and Gentile into mutual embraces through the acknowledgment of Christ: which John most happily began, who came that "all men through him might believe," John 1:7: yea, and the Roman soldiers did believe as well as the Jews, Luke 3:14.

    [The disobedient to the wisdom of the just.] The Greek in Malachi hath it, the heart of a man towards his neighbour. The words of the prophet having been varied, the angel varies too, but to a more proper sense. For the Gentiles were not to be turned to the Jews as such, or to the religion of the Jews, but to God "in the wisdom of the just." "The children to the fathers": the phrase fathers, according to the Jewish state at that time, was of doubtful sound, and had something of danger in it; for by that word generally at that time, was meant nothing else but the Fathers of Traditions, to whom God forbid any should be turned to those fathers in the folly of traditions, but to God in the wisdom of the just.


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    Bibliography
    Lightfoot, John. "Commentary on Luke 1:17". "John Lightfoot Commentary on the Gospels". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jlc/luke-1.html. 1675.

    People's New Testament

    In the spirit and power of Elijah. The likeness of John the Baptist to Elijah strikes us not only in his outward appearance, his clothing and way of living, but in his spirit and character as a preacher of repentance.

    Turn the hearts of the fathers. These are the last words of the Old Testament, there uttered by a prophet, here expounded by an angel; there concluding the law, and here beginning the gospel (Malachi 4:6).

    To make ready a people prepared for the Lord. This was his mission, but it was only partially successful. The common people, who heard him gladly, received with gladness the Messiah; the scribes and Pharisees, who rejected the forerunner, rejected also the King.


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    Original work done by Ernie Stefanik. First published online in 1996 at The Restoration Movement Pages.

    Bibliography
    Johnson, Barton W. "Commentary on Luke 1:17". "People's New Testament". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/pnt/luke-1.html. 1891.

    Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament

    Before his face (ενωπιον αυτουenōpion autou). Not in the ancient Greek, but common in the papyri as in lxx and N.T. It is a vernacular Koiné word, adverb used as preposition from adjective ενωπιοςenōpios and that from ο εν ωπι ωνho en ōpi ōn (the one who is in sight). Autou here seems to be “the Lord their God” in Luke 1:16 since the Messiah has not yet been mentioned, though he was to be actually the Forerunner of the Messiah.

    In the spirit and power of Elijah (εν πνευματι και δυναμει Ελειαen pneumati kai dunamei Eleiā). See Isaiah 40:1-11; Malachi 3:1-5. John will deny that he is actually Elijah in person, as they expected (John 1:21), but Jesus will call him Elijah in spirit (Mark 9:12; Matthew 17:12).

    Hearts of fathers (καρδιας πατερωνkardias paterōn). Paternal love had died out. This is one of the first results of conversion, the revival of love in the home.

    Wisdom (προνησειphronēsei). Not σοπιαsophia but a word for practical intelligence.

    Prepared (κατεσκευασμενονkateskeuasmenon). Perfect passive participle, state of readiness for Christ. This John did. This is a marvellous forecast of the character and career of John the Baptist, one that should have caught the faith of Zacharias.


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    The Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament. Copyright Broadman Press 1932,33, Renewal 1960. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Broadman Press (Southern Baptist Sunday School Board)

    Bibliography
    Robertson, A.T. "Commentary on Luke 1:17". "Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/rwp/luke-1.html. Broadman Press 1932,33. Renewal 1960.

    Vincent's Word Studies

    Wisdom ( φρονήσει )

    Wyc.,prudence. This is a lower word than σοφία ,wisdom (see on James 3:13). It is an attribute or result of wisdom, and not necessarily in a good sense, though mostly so in the New Testament. Compare, however, the use of the kindred word φρόνιμος in Romans 11:25; Romans 12:16: wise in your own conceits; and the adverb φρονίμως ,wisely, of the unjust steward, Luke 16:8. It ispractical intelligence, which may or may not be applied to good ends. Appropriate here as a practical term corresponding to disobedient.

    Prepared ( κατασκευασμένον )

    Adjusted, disposed, placed in the right moral state.


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    Bibliography
    Vincent, Marvin R. DD. "Commentary on Luke 1:17". "Vincent's Word Studies in the New Testament". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/vnt/luke-1.html. Charles Schribner's Sons. New York, USA. 1887.

    Wesley's Explanatory Notes

    And he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elias, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.

    He shall go before him, Christ, in the power and spirit of Elijah — With the same integrity, courage, austerity, and fervour, and the same power attending his word: to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children - To reconcile those that are at variance, to put an end to the most bitter quarrels, such as are very frequently those between the nearest relations: and the hearts of the disobedient to the wisdom of the just - And the most obstinate sinners to true wisdom, which is only found among them that are righteous before God.


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    Bibliography
    Wesley, John. "Commentary on Luke 1:17". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/wen/luke-1.html. 1765.

    The Fourfold Gospel

    And he shall go before his face1 in the spirit and power of Elijah2, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children3, and the disobedient [to walk] in the wisdom of the just; to make ready for the Lord a people prepared [for him]4.

    1. And he shall go before his face. Messiah, who is also the Lord God (Malachi 3:1).

    2. In the spirit and power of Elijah. And thus in fulfillment of the prophecy that Elijah should come again (Malachi 4:6; Matthew 17:9-13). The Jews still expect Elijah as the forerunner of Messiah. John showed the spirit of Elijah in his ascetic dress and life (2 Kings 1:8; Matthew 3:4) and in his message of repentance (1 Kings 18:21-40).

    3. To turn the hearts of the fathers to the children.

      "These are the last words of the Old Testament, there used by a prophet; here expounded by an angel; there concluding the law; here beginning the gospel."

      The phrase may mean (1) John will restore unity to the families of Israel, now divided into political factions, as Herodians or friends of Rome, and zealots or patriots; and into religious factions, as Pharisees, Sadducees, Essenes, etc.; or more likely it may mean (2) That John would restore the broken relationship between the patriarchs Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and their degenerate descendants (Isaiah 29:22,23; Isaiah 63:6; John 8:37-40).

    4. To make ready for the Lord a people prepared [for him]. As in the East, the "friend", or go-between, prepares the bride to understand and appreciate her bridegroom (John 3:28,29).


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    Bibliography
    J. W. McGarvey and Philip Y. Pendleton. "Commentary on Luke 1:17". "The Fourfold Gospel". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tfg/luke-1.html. Standard Publishing Company, Cincinnati, Ohio. 1914.

    Abbott's Illustrated New Testament

    Elias; Elijah. The meaning is, With the boldness and energy which characterized the prophet Elijah.--To turn the hearts, &c.; to bring back again the religious spirit of the fathers to the present generation.


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    Abbott, John S. C. & Abbott, Jacob. "Commentary on Luke 1:17". "Abbott's Illustrated New Testament". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ain/luke-1.html. 1878.

    Calvin's Commentary on the Bible

    17.And he shall go before him By these words he points out what would be John’s office, and distinguishes him by this mark from the other prophets, who received a certain and peculiar commission, while John was sent for the sole object of going before Christ, as a herald before a king. Thus also the Lord speaks by Malachi,

    “Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me,”
    (
    Malachi 3:1.)

    In short, the calling of John had no other design than to secure for Christ a willing ear, and to prepare for him disciples. As to the angel making no express mention of Christ in this passage, but declaring John to be the usher or standard-bearer of the eternal God, we learn from it the eternal divinity of Christ. With the spirit and power of Elijah By the words spirit and power, I understand the power or excellency of the Spirit, with which Elijah was endued; for we must not here indulge in a dream like that of Pythagoras, that the soul of the prophet passed into the body of John, but the same Spirit of God, who had acted efficaciously in Elijah, afterwards exerted a similar power and efficacy in the Baptist. The latter term, power, is added, by way of exposition, to denote the kind of grace which was the loftiest distinction of Elijah, that, furnished with heavenly power, he restored in a wonderful manner the decayed worship of God; for such a restoration was beyond human ability. What John undertook was not less astonishing; and, therefore, we ought not to wonder if it was necessary for him to enjoy the same gift.

    That he may bring back the hearts of the fathers Here the angel points out the chief resemblance between John and Elijah. He declares that he was sent to collect the scattered people into the unity of faith: for to bring back the hearts of the fathers is to restore them from discord to reconciliation; from which it follows, that there had been some division which rent and tore asunder the people. We know how dreadful was the revolt of the people in the time of Elijah, how basely they had degenerated from the fathers, so as hardly to deserve to be reckoned the children of Abraham. Those who were thus disunited Elijah brought into holy harmony. Such was the reunion of parents with children, which was begun by John, and at length finished by Christ. Accordingly, when Malachi speaks of “turning the hearts of the fathers to the children,” (Malachi 4:5,) he intimates that the Church would be in a state of confusion when another Elijah should appear; and what was that state is plain enough from history, and will more fully appear in the proper place. The doctrine of Scripture had degenerated through countless inventions, the worship of God was corrupted by very gross superstition, religion was divided into various sects, priests were openly wicked and Epicureans, the people indulged in every kind of wickedness; in short, nothing remained sound. The expression, bring back the hearts of the fathers to the children, is not literally true; for it was rather the children who had broken the covenant and departed from the right faith of their fathers, that needed to be brought back But though the Evangelist does not so literally express that order of bringing back, the meaning is abundantly obvious, that, by the instrumentality of John, God would again unite in holy harmony those who had previously been disunited. Both clauses occur in the prophet Malachi, who meant nothing more than to express a mutual agreement.

    But as men frequently enter into mutual conspiracies which drive them farther from God, the angel explains, at the same time, the nature of that bringing back which he predicts, the disobedient to the wisdom of the just. This deserves attention, that we may not foolishly allow ourselves to be classed with ungodly men under a false pretense of harmony. Peace is a sounding and imposing term, and, whenever the Papists meet with it in scripture, they eagerly seize upon it for the purpose of raising dislike against us, as if we, who are endeavoring to withdraw the world from its base revolt, and bring it back to Christ, were the authors of divisions. But this passage affords a fine exposure of their folly, when the angel explains the manner of a genuine and proper conversion; and declares its support and link to be the wisdom of the just Accursed then be the peace and unity by which men agree among themselves apart from God.

    By the wisdom of the just is unquestionably meant Faith, as, on the contrary, by the disobedient are meant Unbelievers. And certainly this is a remarkable encomium on faith, by which we are instructed, that then only are we truly wise unto righteousness when we obey the word of the Lord. The world too has its wisdom, but a perverse and therefore destructive wisdom, which is ever pronounced to be vanity; though the angel indirectly asserts that the shadowy wisdom, in which the children of the world delight, is depraved and accursed before God. This is therefore a settled point, that, with the view of becoming reconciled to each other, men ought first to return to peace with God.

    What immediately follows about making ready a people prepared for the Lord, agrees with that clause, that John, as the herald of Christ, would go before his face, (Malachi 3:1;) for the design of his preaching was to make the people attentive to hear the instruction of Christ. The Greek participle κατεσκευασμένον, it is true, does not so properly mean perfection as the form and adaptation by which things are fitted for their use. This meaning will not agree ill with the present passage. John was commissioned to fit or mould to Christ a people which, formerly ignorant and uneducated, had never shown a desire to learn.


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    Calvin, John. "Commentary on Luke 1:17". "Calvin's Commentary on the Bible". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/cal/luke-1.html. 1840-57.

    Scofield's Reference Notes

    shall go

    See, Malachi 4:5 (See Scofield "Matthew 17:10")


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    Bibliography
    Scofield, C. I. "Scofield Reference Notes on Luke 1:17". "Scofield Reference Notes (1917 Edition)". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/srn/luke-1.html. 1917.

    James Nisbet's Church Pulpit Commentary

    A PREPARED PEOPLE

    ‘A people prepared for the Lord.’

    Luke 1:17

    Prepared for the Lord! How shall it be? I cannot do as Elias did; but I can follow his teaching. You remember the teaching of John the Baptist. You must be prepared to recognise Christ when He comes, and to know Him. This the Baptist taught. He placed the people in a position that they should know Christ when they saw Him. How are you to be prepared?

    I. Christ must be no new Christ to you.—You must have heard His voice; seen His face; felt His love.

    II. You must have a deep sense of sin.—‘Repent ye, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ No one must stand there who has not learnt to stoop very low.

    III. You must be exact, faithful, diligent in your daily duties.—Doing whatever you do heartily; a man of large charities, a man of unselfish habits, a man of strict integrity in business, a man of self-government, a man of moderation, a man of content, a man of humility.

    IV. You must be baptized—not with the baptism of water only, but with the baptism of the Spirit.

    V. You must be much in the use of the ordinances—loving the shadows till the substance comes, learning the original by the pictures He has left to you; frequent in your Holy Communion.

    —Rev. James Vaughan.


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    Nisbet, James. "Commentary on Luke 1:17". Church Pulpit Commentary. https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/cpc/luke-1.html. 1876.

    John Trapp Complete Commentary

    17 And he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elias, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.

    Ver. 17. In the spirit and power of Elias] There is a great agreement between the times of Elijah and John Baptist. Herod answereth to Ahab, Herodias to Jezebel, &c.

    The disobedient to the wisdom of the just] i.e. By his preaching he shall turn the hearts of the Gentiles to the Jews, and by his baptism tie them up, as it were, together. He made them (according to the phrase that Josephus useth of him) to convent or knit together in baptism, εν βαπτισμω συνιεναι. (Joseph. Antiq., xviii. 7.)


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    Trapp, John. "Commentary on Luke 1:17". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/luke-1.html. 1865-1868.

    Sermon Bible Commentary

    Luke 1:17

    Drawing Lightning.

    The wonderful suggestiveness of this passage is found in its theme. A wild threat, four hundred years old, is suddenly removed in a flash of benediction. The curse in Malachi is omitted in Luke—the lightning is drawn. The Gospel fulfils the law when it accepts children. God receives the fathers into favour and communion again when their hearts are turned to their offspring. This is the doctrine of the text. Hence, I present now as a legitimate subject of consideration the work of the Sunday school organisation; it discharges harmlessly the Old Testament maledictions, and it becomes the instrument of fulfilling the benedictions of the New. It is the world's helper and the Church's servant.

    I. The subjects of Sunday school effort are, of course, understood to be the young of our race. Oftentimes these are the least noticed and the last noticed of all classes of beings with souls. And yet there is no truth more settled than that civilisation, chivalry, and Christianity reach their highest culmination in the caring for children.

    II. Consider next the nature of the work we desire and propose to do on behalf of children. This is no less than to seek out, to educate, and to redeem children. (1) To seek them out. They must be sought out and brought under the power of the Gospel. They never will be until Christians become more Christlike. Brazilian rivers are full of diamonds; what then? The costliest jewels will only drift down the current and be lost in the sands, unless somebody goes to crown-making and gathers them carefully up. (2) To educate them becomes another part of this work. There is no agency which is doing more in this direction than the Sunday school. This will appear if you consider the class of instructors, the lesson they inculcate, the text-book they use, and the spirit by which they are actuated. (3) To redeem children, however, is the main end. God converts souls; our office is to lead them up under the force of the means of grace. And is there not in the Sunday school arch a fitting symbol of the Divine promise,—the very bow of the ancient covenant, bending over these young immortals, with its benediction of peace?

    C. S. Robinson, Sermons on Neglected Texts, p. 182.


    References: Luke 1:17.—Clergyman's Magazine, vol. v., p. 273. Luke 1:18.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xxiv., p. 1,405.


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    Nicoll, William R. "Commentary on Luke 1:17". "Sermon Bible Commentary". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/sbc/luke-1.html.

    Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible

    Luke 1:17. And he shall go before him, &c.— That is, before Jesus Christ, here stiled the Lord their God. The son of Zacharias had the spirit of Elijah, equalling if not exceeding him in severity of manners, in courage, and in sustaining persecutions; for he was clad in a garment of camel's hair, fed on locusts and wild honey, rebuked sinners of the highest distinction with great boldness, and was put to death on that account. He had the power also of Elijah; for though he did no miracle, he was honoured with the like success in restoring the lost spirit of true religion among his countrymen. Nay, he even excelled Elijah in that, which is properly the power of a prophet, and to which all his other gifts were subservient,—the power of converting men; being in this more successful without miracles, than Elijah had been with them. By his preaching he made such a general change in the manners of the nation, that he turned the hearts of the fathers Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to their children the Jews, from whom they had been alienated, on account of their wickedness; and the hearts of the children to their fathers, by be-getting in them a love of religion and religious characters, and by so doing prepared a people for the coming of the Lord. See the note on Malachi 4:5-6 and on Mark 9:10. Some, however, render the passage, To turn the hearts of the fathers with the children, and the disobedient to a sense of righteousness, &c. Dr. Doddridge translates and paraphrases it thus: "He shall meet with such glorious success in his ministry, as to convert the hearts of the fathers with those of the children; that is, he shall bring many, both of the rising and the declining age, to that real piety towards God, which will be the surest band of their mutual duty towards each other: and many of those who have hitherto been disobedient to the wisdom of the just (that is, insensible of the obligations to real religion, which is the greatest: wisdom,) shall be made ready, as a people prepared for the Lord; their minds being raised to an expectation of the Messiah, and a disposition to welcome him when he shall appear."


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    Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Luke 1:17". Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible. https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tcc/luke-1.html. 1801-1803.

    Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary

    17.] ἐνώπ. αὐτοῦ—i.e. κυρίου τοῦ θ. αὐτῶν, manifest in the flesh. De Wette denies this interpretation, as contrary to all analogy: and yet himself explains the expression by saying that what the Messiah does, is in Scripture ascribed to God as its doer (similarly Meyer). But why? because Messiah is GOD WITH US. This expression is besides used (see Zechariah 14:5) in places where the undoubted and sole reference is to the Messiah. See Bleek’s note, in which he decides for this view, as against that which refers αὐτοῦ directly to the Messiah as the Son of God.

    ἐν πν. κ. δυν.] As a type, a partial fulfilment, of the personal coming of Elias in the latter days (see note on Matthew 11:13-14). Bleek remarks that it was not in the wonder-working agency of Elias that John was like him, for “John did no miracle,”—but in the power of his uttered persuasion.

    ἐπιστρ.…] The first member only of the sentence corresponds with Malachi, and that not verbatim. The angel gives the exposition of the second member,— καὶ καρδίαν ἀνθρώπου πρὸς τὸν πλησίον αὐτοῦ,—for of course that must be understood in the better sense, of the good prevailing, and the bad becoming like them.

    ἀπειθής, as in reff., not unbelieving, but disobedient. On the verb ἀπειθεῖν, see note, Hebrews 3:18, and on ἀπείθεια, note, Ephesians 2:2.

    ἐν is elliptic for εἰς τὸ εἶναι ἐν … see reff.

    Augustine, De Civ. Dei, xx. 29, vol. vii.—‘est sensus, ut etiam filii sic intelligant legem, id est, Judæi, quemadmodum patres eam intellexerunt, id est Prophetæ, in quibus erat et ipse Moyses:’ so also Kuinoel, but erroneously, for both articles would be expressed,— τῶν πατέρων ἐπὶ τὰ τέκνα.


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    Alford, Henry. "Commentary on Luke 1:17". Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary. https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hac/luke-1.html. 1863-1878.

    Charles Simeon's Horae Homileticae

    DISCOURSE: 1466

    JOHN THE FORERUNNER OF JESUS

    Luke 1:17. And he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elias, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.

    THE Mosaic dispensation may be called the age of prophecy; for under it was foretold every thing which should be accomplished to the end of time. The nearer the prophets arrived to the commencement of the Christian era, the more minute and circumstantial were their predictions respecting it. Other prophets had spoken largely of the Messiah; but Malachi, the last of them, points out his harbinger; and closes the prophetic canon with announcing the mission of one, who should prepare the world for his reception [Note: Malachi 4:5-6.]. Accordingly, about the time that Christ was to come, it was expected that Elijah, or at least some prophet like unto him, should first appear [Note: Hence those questions put to the Baptist, John 1:21 and to our Lord, Matthew 17:10-13.]. Hence, when the angel was sent to Zacharias to inform him, that he in his old age should have a son, who was destined by God to the office of introducing the Messiah; he cited that very prophecy of Malachi, and cast the true light upon it: he told him, that this son of his should go before the Messiah in the spirit and power of Elias, and have the honour of announcing to the world the Messiah’s advent.

    Respecting this person, thus solemnly foretold, and thus miraculously born, we shall be led to notice two things;

    I. His character—

    It is in a comparative view that the text requires us to consider this:

    He came “in the spirit and power of Elijah,” whom he closely resembled—

    [The resemblance may be seen in the endowments of their mind [Note: They were both men of eminent piety. Compare 1 Kings 17:24 and James 5:17 and 2 Kings 2:9; 2 Kings 2:11. with Luke 1:15. John 5:35. Matthew 11:9; Matthew 11:11.] — — — the habits of their life [Note: They were self-denied and dead to the world. Compare 1 Kings 17:3-6; 1 Kings 17:10 and 2 Kings 1:8. with Matthew 3:4 and Luke 1:80.] — — — the exercise of their ministry [Note: They were bold reprovers and successful reformers. Compare 1 Kings 18:17-40; 1 Kings 21:19-24 and 2 Kings 1:3-4. with Luke 3:7-14; Luke 3:16-19 and Matthew 21:32.] — — —]

    In this view, John is said to be “great in the sight of the Lord”—

    [Such a character will not be admired amongst men: but with God it is in the highest estimation. We grant that, in some respects, it is not so much suited to us, as it was to John, and the particular office he sustained: but, for the most part, it is proper for every person in every age, and most of all for ministers. It is proper that we be “filled with the Holy Ghost;” and if we be so “even from our mother’s womb,” happy are we. We ought also to shew a holy superiority to the world, to sit loose to its cares and pleasures, and to be regardless of its frowns or favours. We should dare to serve our God, even though the whole nation have departed from him: and bear our testimony against sin, by whomsoever it be committed. We should shew ourselves determinately on the Lord’s side, and “shine as lights in a dark world.”]

    Suited to his august character Was,

    II. His office—

    This was peculiar to himself; he alone of all the sons of men was appointed to be the forerunner of his Lord—

    [It was customary for great personages to send messengers before them to prepare their way: and such a messenger was John the Baptist [Note: Malachi 3:1. with Matthew 11:10; Matthew 11:14.]. It was highly proper that so glorious a person as the Messiah should not even appear to come in a surreptitious or clandestine manner; but that the minds of men should be directed to him, and his arrival be made the subject of general expectation. Hence we find, that the great argument by which John excited men to repentance, was this, “The kingdom of heaven is at hand.” He continually disclaimed all pretensions to the Messiahship himself, and directed them to One, who was speedily to arise among them, “whose shoe-latchet he was not worthy to unloose.” As the Messiah’s harbinger, he strove to prepare the hearts of men for his reception. Men of all ages and descriptions were warned by him; and “fathers with their children were turned by him unto the Lord their God.” The most “disobedient” among them “were converted by him to the wisdom of the just,” even to that adorable Jesus, whom all the righteous love, and in the love of whom true wisdom consists. This was the end and aim of his whole ministry, even to point men to that “Lamb of God that taketh away the sins of the world:” and, having succeeded in this according to his father’s prediction [Note: ver. 76, 77.], he was glad himself to “decrease,” that “the Messiah might increase” and be glorified [Note: John 3:30.].]

    But similar to his, is the office of every minister—

    [The minds of the generality are as regardless of Christ as if he had never come into the world; they take his name indeed into their lips, but have no desire after his salvation in their hearts. Hence arises the necessity of crying to them continually, “Behold the Lamb of God,” “behold him, behold him [Note: Isaiah 65:1.]!” Him we must exalt as the only Saviour of the world; and account our lives well spent, if we be the favoured instruments of converting but a few to him — — —]

    We cannot but observe from this subject,

    1. How great a person Christ must be—

    [From the preparations which were made for his reception, we are led to expect that he was possessed of more than human dignity: and accordingly we find him identified with Jehovah [Note: Compare Malachi 3:1. with Matthew 11:10.], and designated as the “Lord our God [Note: ver. 16.].” Yes: he was “Emmanuel, God with us,” or, as he is elsewhere called, “the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ [Note: Titus 2:13.].” While therefore we contemplate his advent, let us think of it with the profoundest admiration, and the most lively gratitude.]

    2. How important must be the knowledge of him—

    [The very end for which John was miraculously given to the world, was to bear witness to Christ, and to commend him to the Jewish nation. Was then the knowledge of Christ of such importance to the Jews? Surely it is no less so to us: our salvation depends upon it, as well as theirs: and therefore we should all ask ourselves, ‘What think I of Christ? What am I the better for him? What hope have I in him?’ In him alone can we find acceptance, and “by him alone can we, be justified.” To him then let us direct our most assiduous attention, and “count all things but as dross and dung” for the excellency of the knowledge of him.”]


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    Simeon, Charles. "Commentary on Luke 1:17". Charles Simeon's Horae Homileticae. https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/shh/luke-1.html. 1832.

    Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament

    Luke 1:17. αὐτὸς, himself) In antithesis to the others ( πολλοὺς, many), Luke 1:16.— ἐνώπιον, before His face) in His immediate presence.— ἐπιστρέψαι, κ. τ. λ., to turn [convert], etc.) The language in this passage, as often in prophecies, is figurative, abbreviated, and as it were poetically with this sense: John shall effect that the parents as well as the children alike, the disobedient as well as the just alike, men of every age and character, may be prepared for the Lord. But it was not convenient to say: He will convert [turn] the disobedient and the unjust along with the obedient and just alike; for the just need no conversion. Therefore, instead of the concrete, the abstract is used: He will convert the disobedient to the state of mind of the just; i.e. those who disregard God’s law he will convert, or bring to such a state, that they will join themselves to the number of the just, putting on the docility and wisdom of these latter; and, just as the just are ready, so will the disobedient become ready for the Lord.— καρδίας, hearts) The heart is therefore the seat of conversion, of obedience, and of prudence.— πατέρων ἐπὶ τέκνα, of the fathers along with the children alike) Mal. 3:24, לב אבות על־בנים ולב בנים על־אבותם, LXX. καρδίαν πατρὸς πρὸς υἱὸν, καὶ καρδίαν ἀνθρώπου πρὸς τὸν πλήσιον αὐτοῦ. The expression is equivalent to a proverb, so as to signify the multitude—the ‘many’ converted (Luke 1:16). So Genesis 32:11, μητέρα ἐπὶ τέκνοις. So decidedly πατέρων ἐπὶ τέκνα, Exodus 20:5; Exodus 34:7 : also κνήμην ἐπὶ μηρὸν, Judges 15:8. See also על, Amos 3:15 ; Judges 12:1; and πρὸς, in the Son of Sir. (see the quotation below). At the same time there may be designed to be marked the care of the fathers for the salvation of their children, as opposed to what takes place in a flight such as Jeremiah 47:3 describes, οὐκ ἐπέστρεψαν πατέρες, ἐφ ̓ υἱοὺς αὐτῶν.— καὶ ἀπειθεῖς ἐν φρονήσει δικαίων, and the disobedient in [to] the wisdom [prudence] of the just) This is set down instead of what is found in Malachi: and the heart of the children upon [super: but Engl. Vers. to] their fathers. Disobedience is especially the fault of youths: prudence [wisdom] and justice are especially becoming in fathers. The angel says, in the prudence, not into [to] the prudence. The feeling [sentiments] of those who are just, is immediately put on in conversion.— ἑτοιμάσαι κυρίῳ λαὸν κατεσκευασμένον, to make ready a people prepared for the Lord) Asyndeton [absence of copulative between ἐπιστρέψαι and ἑτοιμάσαι]: to convert [turn], to make ready. The people is to be made ready, lest the Lord, finding the people not ready for Him, should crush them with His majesty [“Lest I come and smite the earth with a curse”], Malachi 4:6. A people prepared, i.e. complying with the instructions of John, who makes them ready, and obedient to the Lord; no longer having such hearts as are described in Proverbs 15:7, ולב כסילים לא כן, LXX. καρδίαι ἀφρόνων οὐκ ἀσφαλεῖς, The hearts of fools are not safe [Engl. Vers. from Hebr., But the heart of the foolish doeth not so, i.e. do not disperse knowledge]. Let the antithetic terms be noted, ἀφρόνων and φρονήσει; and the kindred terms כן and ἑτοιμάσαι. Concerning Elias, see Sirach 48:11, καὶ ἐπιστρέψαι καρδίαν πατρὸς προς υἱὸν, καὶ καταστῆσαι φυλὰς ἰακώβ. That the work of the Son of Sirach is far from a low and common one, its accordance with the angel’s words proves. See also Matthew 23:34, note.


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    Bengel, Johann Albrecht. "Commentary on Luke 1:17". Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament. https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jab/luke-1.html. 1897.

    Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

    God was last spoken of, he must therefore be the him mentioned here, before whom John the Baptist was to go, according to the prophecy, Malachi 4:5,6; from whence is an evident proof that Christ was the Lord our God, before whom John the Baptist came,

    in the spirit and power of Elias, and therefore he is called Elias, Malachi 4:5, as expounded by Christ, Matthew 11:14 Mark 9:13. The Jews’ not understanding this keeps them in a vain expectation of a Messiah to this day, and of a personal coming of Elias before him. It is the observation of some learned men, that where the word power is added to the Spirit, or Holy Ghost, it signifies a more than ordinary measure and influence of the Spirit, as in Luke 1:35 Acts 10:38 1 Corinthians 2:4 1 Thessalonians 1:5. But I rather think that by that phrase, in the spirit and power, here is meant, with the same zeal and frame of spirit that Elijah had. We have before, in our notes upon Matthew, showed in how many things John the Baptist was like Elijah, to say nothing of his habit and the severity of his life, in respect of the most corrupt time wherein they both lived, their faithfulness in their ministry, their warmth and zeal in their work, their boldness, not fearing to reprove princes for their errors, &c.

    To turn the hearts of the fathers to the children. Malachi addeth, and the heart of the children to their fathers; instead of which Luke hath, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; that is, to bring both young and old to repentance: the hearts of the fathers amongst the Jews to the doctrine of Christ and his apostles, their children; and the hearts of the Jews, which, with respect to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and David, are children, to the doctrine which they embraced, and the ways of God wherein those just men walked, which is the doctrine of wisdom: to reconcile many amongst the Jews to that which some of them own and profess, though others of them are yet apostatized, and yet led away with the superstitions of those degenerate and corrupt times.

    To make ready a people prepared for the Lord; to acquaint this part of the world with the Messias, and to prepare them for receiving him and his doctrine, which is presently to be revealed by himself, taking off people’s prejudices, and discovering and commending Christ to them. Or, by bringing men to a true repentance for their sins, and a sense of them, till which they cannot believe, to prepare them for a more internal reception of the Lord Jesus Christ. For John is said to have preached the doctrine of repentance for the remission of sins; and to have preached, saying, Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. Also defaming the Pharisees, who were the great enemies of Christ, by detecting to the people their hypocrisy. Thus he made

    ready a people prepared for the Lord.


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    Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Luke 1:17". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mpc/luke-1.html. 1685.

    Justin Edwards' Family Bible New Testament

    Go before him; before "the Lord their God." In the spirit and power of Elias; with the zeal and intrepidity of Elijah, as predicted by Malachi. Malachi 4:5.

    Turn the hearts of the fathers to the children; see note on Malachi 4:6.

    Prepared for the Lord; prepared to receive Christ at his coming.


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    Edwards, Justin. "Commentary on Luke 1:17". "Family Bible New Testament". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/fam/luke-1.html. American Tract Society. 1851.

    Cambridge Greek Testament for Schools and Colleges

    17. αὐτὸς προελεύσεται ἐνώπιον αὐτοῦ. He shall himself go before the Messiah. The αὐτοῦ is used in its most emphatic sense for Christ as in 1 John 2:12; 2 Peter 3:4. The English version should have added, “in His presence” (ἐνώπιον αὐτοῦ).

    ἐν πνεύματι καὶ δυνάμει Ἡλία. From the last words of Malachi (Luke 4:4-6, Luke 3:1), the Jews universally believed (as they do to this day) that Elijah would visibly return to earth as a herald of the Messiah. It required the explanation of our Lord to open the eyes of the Apostles on this subject. “This is Elias which was for to come,” Matthew 11:14. “Elias truly shall first come and restore all things … Then the disciples understood that He spake unto them of John the Baptist,” Matthew 17:10-14. The resemblance was partly in external aspect (2 Kings 1:8; Matthew 3:4); and partly in his mission of stern rebuke and invitation to repentance (1 Kings 18:21; 1 Kings 21:20).

    ἐπιστρέψαι. The infinitive, expressive of a fact or consequence, almost resembling a purpose as in ἤλθομεν προσκυνῆσαι, Matthew 2:2, where the supine would be used in Latin. Comp. ἤμισυ τοῦ στρατεύματος κατέλιπε φυλάττειν τὸ στρατόπεδον.

    καρδίας πατέρων ἐπὶ τέκνα. ‘Of fathers to children;’ i.e. (as in the original meaning of Malachi,) to remedy disunion and restore family life. Kuinoel and others strangely follow St Augustine (De Civ. Dei, xx. 29) in explaining this to mean that John should make the Jews as pious as the Patriarchs were.

    ἐν φρονήσει. (To walk) in or by wisdom. Φρόνησις (Ephesians 1:8) is the practical wisdom shewn by obedience. He shall turn them to wisdom so that they shall live in it. This is a constructio praegnans where a preposition of rest is placed after a verb of motion to imply the state produced. This ‘pregnant construction’ is one of the many signs of the agility of the Greek intellect. Compare

    “Clarence, whom I indeed have cast in darkness.”

    K. Rich. III. I. 3.

    “And let the sounds of music | Creep in our ears.”

    Merch. of Ven. Luke 1:1.

    And in Latin In amicitia receptus, Sall. In aquam macerare, Cat. Brief Greek Syntax, § 89.

    δικαίων. See Luke 1:6. The disobedient shall by his ministry begin to accept the δικαιώματα.

    ἑτοιμάσαικατεσκευασμένον. The participle is proleptic—‘To prepare so that it may be ready.’ See Brief Greek Syntax, p. 82. (Comp. submersas obrues puppes, &c.) The reason why the R. V[29] renders this “to make ready for the Lord a people prepared for Him” is because St Luke is fond of placing a word like ‘for the Lord’ between two others, with either or both of which it may be connected. See Acts 1:2 (Humphry, Rev. Version, p. 92).


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    "Commentary on Luke 1:17". "Cambridge Greek Testament for Schools and Colleges". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/cgt/luke-1.html. 1896.

    Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible

    “And he will go before his face in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to walk in the wisdom of the just, to make ready for the Lord a people prepared for him.”

    For Zacharias’ promised son John is to be the Elijah who was promised by Malachi 4:5, walking in the spirit and power of Elijah, walking before the face of God, to bring unity and love in Israel, to reconcile fathers and sons, and to make those who are disobeying God and His word, walk in the wise way proclaimed by just men, whether of the present or of the past. Elijah was a prophet very much connected with the Spirit, and his ‘spirit’ was passed on to Elisha (2 Kings 2:9; 2 Kings 2:15). Now again it would be passed on to another, to the son of Zacharias. ‘The wisdom of the just’ might very much have in mind such words as those of the wisdom books like Proverbs and Ecclesiastes and also include the words of the prophets. And the final purpose in all this will be to produce a people whose hearts are prepared to be ready to receive the Lord. He will ‘make ready a people prepared for Him’, as Malachi had declared.

    The idea of ‘turning the hearts of the fathers to the children’ in Malachi seems to mean reconciliation between fathers and sons, in other words the restoration of harmony in Israel (compare the references in Acts to the harmony of God’s new people), but it might also include the idea that the ancient fathers, who would be despairing of what their children had now become, would now be reconciled to them because of the change that would take place in their lives. Compare Isaiah 63:16, where the people cried ‘Israel (Jacob) does not know us’. But now as a result of the work of John ‘Israel’ (Jacob) would once more know them. This would then see ‘the disobedient to walk in the wisdom of the just’ as a reverse parallel, the disobedient being the children and the just the ancient fathers, including the prophets. The children would once more walk as their fathers had walked, as receptive and open to God and all His ways.

    It will be noted that at this point there is no definite reference to the Messiah, but that is probably because the description is based on Malachi 4:5 where also there is no reference to the Messiah. The stress therefore is on the fact that John will be the expected Elijah. But as he was to come before ‘the great and terrible Day of the Lord’ the connection with the Messiah can hardly be doubted. In his later prophecy (Luke 1:67-79) the connection of John with the Messiah is made very clear.


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    Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

    17. He—John.

    Go before him—That is, before the Lord their God. This seems to be a clear ascription of the divine title to the Messiah, before whom John was to go.

    In the spirit and power of Elias—And hence he was predicted by Malachi under the name of Elijah. Malachi 4:5.

    Turn the heart of the fathers to the children—Not the heart of the children to the fathers, mark; but the heart of the fathers to the children. The fathers here are the holy ancestry of degenerate Israel, and they have, as it were, been offended with the apostacy of their descendants. But John shall so infuse a better spirit into this generation that a reconciliation shall take place between the holy olden time and the fallen

    present. A people—A clear allusion to the admission of the Gentiles into the Church of God.


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    Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Luke 1:17". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/luke-1.html. 1874-1909.

    Schaff's Popular Commentary on the New Testament

    Luke 1:17. Before him in his presence. ‘Go before’ implies the coming of the Messiah, but ‘in his presence’ refers to ‘the Lord their God.’

    In the spirit and power of Elijah. An evident allusion to Malachi 3:1; Malachi 4:5-6. See on Matthew 11:14; Matthew 17:11.

    To turn the hearts of the fathers to the children. Parental affection had grown cold amidst the moral corruption; the reformer would strengthen these ties. This is better than the explanation: ‘to restore to the children the devout disposition of their fathers.’ True reformation strengthens family ties. This is the principle, prophesied by the last Old Testament prophet, announced by an angel in the first ray of light ushering in the New Dispensation, fulfilled in John’s ministry, in the whole history of Christianity. Whatever weakens family ties cannot be ‘reform.’

    And the disobedient; immoral, in contrast with ‘just.’

    To the wisdom of the just. Lit, ‘in the wisdom.’ This is the sphere in which the results will occur: some take ‘in’ as meaning ‘by,’ but this is less usual.

    To make ready for the Lord, i.e., for God. A preparation for the coming of the Messiah is undoubtedly meant, but the thought of God’s appearing when the Messiah appeared underlies the prediction.

    A prepared people. Not the people of Israel, but a people prepared out of Israel.


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    Schaff, Philip. "Commentary on Luke 1:17". "Schaff's Popular Commentary on the New Testament". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/scn/luke-1.html. 1879-90.

    The Expositor's Greek Testament

    Luke 1:17. προελεύσεται ἐν. α.: not a reference to John’s function as forerunner of Messiah, but simply a description of his prophetic character. He shall go before God (and men) = be, in his career, an Elijah in spirit and power, and function; described in terms recalling Malachi 4:6.


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    Nicol, W. Robertson, M.A., L.L.D. "Commentary on Luke 1:17". The Expositor's Greek Testament. https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/egt/luke-1.html. 1897-1910.

    Joseph Benson's Commentary of the Old and New Testaments

    Luke 1:17. He shall go before him — Namely, before Christ; in the spirit and power of Elias — With the same integrity, courage, austerity, and fervour, and the same power of God attending his word. The son of Zacharias equalled, if not exceeded, Elijah in zeal for God, in severity of manners, in fortitude, and in sustaining persecutions. “For he was clad in a garment of camel’s hair, fed on locusts and wild honey, rebuked sinners of the highest distinction with great boldness, and was put to death on that account. He had the power also of Elijah; for though he did no miracle, he was honoured with the like success in restoring the lost spirit of true religion among his countrymen. Nay, he even excelled Elijah in that which is properly the power of a prophet, and to which all other gifts are subservient, the power of converting men; being in this more successful without miracles than Elijah had been with them.” To turn the hearts of the fathers to the children — To reconcile those that are at variance, to put an end to the most bitter quarrels, such as are very frequently those between the nearest relations; and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just — Or, the righteous. And the most obstinate sinners to true wisdom, which is only found among them that are righteous before God. Dr. Waterland reads, To turn the hearts of the fathers with the children, (thus also Dr. Hammond,) and the disobedient to a sense of righteousness; Greek, και απειθεις εν φρονησει δικαιων. Nearly to the same purpose is Dr. Doddridge’s paraphrase. “According to that prediction of Malachi with which the sacred canon concludes, he shall meet with such glorious success in his ministry, as to convert the hearts of the fathers with those of the children; that is, he shall bring many, both of the rising and the declining age, to that real piety toward God, which will be the surest band of their mutual duty toward each other: and many of those who have hitherto been disobedient to the wisdom of the just, that is, insensible of the obligations to real religion, which is the greatest wisdom, shall he make ready, as a people prepared for the Lord, raising in their minds an expectation of the Messiah, and a disposition to welcome him when he shall appear.” See the former clause more fully explained in the note on Malachi 4:6.


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    Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Luke 1:17". Joseph Benson's Commentary. https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/rbc/luke-1.html. 1857.

    George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

    Turn the hearts of the fathers, &c. The angel applies these words (Malachias iv. 6.) to St. John the Baptist; telling his father, that he shall convert many of the children of Israel, &c. by bringing them to the knowledge of Christ. Secondly, that he shall go before him, or be his precursor and forerunner. --- In the spirit and power of Elias; i.e. St. John shall be the forerunner of Christ's first coming to redeem mankind, as Elias shall be the forerunner of Christ's second coming to judge the world. Thirdly, that St. John, by converting the Jews, shall also turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, &c. The meaning of which obscure words seems to be, that whereas Moses, Abraham, and the prophets, (whose souls were in a place of rest) knew by a revelation from God, that their children, the Jews, lived in sin and disobedience to the laws of God; and on this account were offended and displeased at them: now when they shall know that they have been converted by the preaching of St. John, they shall rejoice, and be reconciled to their children, the Jews: for as our Saviour tells us, (Luke xv. 7.) there is joy in heaven upon any one sinner that doth penance. The angel, to explain the foregoing words, adds, and the incredulous to the wisdom and prudence of the just; i.e. St. John's preaching shall make them truly wise and just. (Witham) --- With reason is he said to precede Christ, who was his forerunner both in his birth and in his death. In the spirit of prophecy, and in the power of abstinence, and patience, and zeal, they resembled each other; Elias was in the desert, St. John was in the desert also. The one sought not the favour of king Achab, the other despised the favour of Herod. The one divided the Jordan, the other changed it into a laver of salvation. The one is to be the forerunner of Jesus Christ's second coming, as the other was of his first. (St. Ambrose)


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    Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on Luke 1:17". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hcc/luke-1.html. 1859.

    E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

    go = goforth.

    the spirit and power. Figure of speech Hendiadys (App-6) = the

    spirit = yea, the powerful spirit (Malachi 4:5).

    Elias = Elijah.

    to turn, &c. Reference to Malachi 3:1 with Malachi 4:5, Malachi 4:6.

    See App-107.

    disobedient = unbelieving. to = in. Greek. en. App-104.

    wisdom. Greek. phronesis (not sophia) = understanding. Occurs only here, and Ephesians 1:8 = the product of Sophia. See notes on Job 28:28; Job 40:4.


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    Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on Luke 1:17". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bul/luke-1.html. 1909-1922.

    Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

    And he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elias, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.

    And he shall go before him - i:e., before "the Lord their God" just spoken of; showing that Messiah, before whom John was to go, as a herald to announce his approach and as a pioneer to prepare his way, was to be "the Lord God of Israel" manifested in the flesh (Isaiah 40:3; Malachi 3:1). So Calvin, Olshausen, etc.

    In the spirit and power of Elias - i:e., after the model of that distinguished reformer, and with like success, in "turning hearts." Strikingly indeed did John resemble Elias: both fell on evil times; both witnessed fearlessly for God; neither was much seen except in the direct exercise of their ministry; both were at the head of schools of disciples; the result of the ministry of both might be expressed in the same terms - "many (not all, nor even the majority, but still many) of the children of Israel did they to the Lord their God."

    To turn the hearts of the fathers to the children This, if taken literally, with Meyer and others, denotes the restoration of parental fidelity, the decay of which is certainly the beginning of religious and social corruption. In this case it is just one prominent feature of the coming revival put for the whole.

    And the disobedient to the wisdom of the just But this next clause, "And the disobedient to the wisdom of the just" - which seems designed to give the sense of the preceding one, rather suggests a figurative meaning: 'He shall bring back the ancient spirit of the nation to their degenerate children.' So Calvin, Bengel, etc. Thus prayed Elijah, "Lord God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, hear me, that this people may know that thou art the Lord God, and that thou hast turned their heart back again" (1 Kings 18:36-37).

    To make ready a people prepared for the Lord , [ hetoimasai (Greek #2090) Kurioo (Greek #2962) laon (Greek #2992) kateskeuasmenon (Greek #2680)] - rather, 'to make ready for the Lord a prepared people;' prepared, that is, to welcome Him. Such preparation for welcoming the Lord is required, not only in every age, but in every soul.

    Remarks:

    (1) Works such as Jesus performed and Teaching such as poured from His lips, as He walked up and down Judea and Galilee, in the days of His flesh, could not but be carried on the wings of the wind, especially after He rose from the dead, ascended up into heaven, and at the Pentecostal festival made His handful of adherents proclaim, in the tongues of all the nationalities then assembled at Jerusalem, the wonderful works of God. These Jewish strangers and proselytes would carry them to their homes, and the first preachers-and every Christian would be more or less a preacher-would tell the tale to all who had ears to hear them. Of such astonishing tidings eager listeners would take notes; and digests, more or less full, would be put into circulation. For lack of better, such summaries would be read aloud at prayer-meetings and other small assemblies of Christians; and of these a few would be pretty full, and, on the whole, pretty correct narratives of the Life, Acts, and Sayings of Christ.

    To such it is that our Evangelist here refers, and in terms of studied respect, as narratives of what was 'on sure grounds believed among Christians, and drawn up from the testimony of eye-witnesses and ministers of the word.' But when he adds that it seemed good to him also, having traced down all things with exactness from its first rise, to write a consecutive History, he virtually claims, by this Gospel of his own, to supersede all these narratives. Accordingly while not one of them has survived the wreck of time, this and the other canonical Gospels live, and shall live, the only worthy vehicles of those life-bringing facts which have made all things new. Apocryphal or spurious gospels-such as sprang up in swarms at a later period to feed a prurient curiosity and minister to the taste of those who could not rise to the tone of the canonical Gospels-have not altogether perished: but those well-meant and substantially correct narratives here referred to, used only while better were not to be had, were by tacit consent allowed to merge in the four peerless documents which, as one Gospel, have from age to age, even from the very time of their publication, and with astonishing unanimity, been accepted as the written charter of all Christianity.

    (2) The diversity which obtains among these Four Gospels is as beautiful a feature of them as their inner harmony. Each has an invaluable character of its own which the others want. And although a comparison of the four different streams of narration with each other, with the view of tracing out the unity of incident and discourse, and so shaping out as perfectly as possible. The Life of Jesus, has been the laudable, and delightful, and fruitful occupation of Biblical students in every age; one cannot but feel, the longer he studies these matchless productions, that every detail of them is so much fresher just where it lies than in any combination of them into one, that every such attempt as Tatian's DIATESSARON (about A.D. 170 AD), and that of Professor White of Oxford (1803) - that is, one continuous History woven out of the text of the Four Gospels-is a mistake. Let that river, the streams whereof make glad the city of God, flow, like the river that watered the garden of Eden, in its four crystal streams and in their own native beds, until that which is perfect is come, when that which is in part shall be done away.

    (3) How beautiful is the spectacle of husband and wife, in advancing years, when "joint-heirs [ sungkleeronomoi (Greek #4789)] of the grace of life," and "their prayers [together] are not hindered" (1 Peter 3:7) by misunderstandings or inconsistencies! (Luke 1:7; Luke 1:13).

    (4) When God has any special blessing in store for His people, He usually creates in them a longing for it, and yet withholds it from them until all hope of it is dying within them. By this He makes the blessing, when at length it comes, the more surprising and the more welcome, an object of deeper interest and dearer delight (Luke 1:7).

    (5) The most cheering visitations of Heaven are accustomed to come to us in the discharge of duty. It was when Elijah "still went on and talked" with Elisha, who was to succeed him in office, that the chariots and horses of fire appeared to take him up to heaven (2 Kings 2:11): more gloriously still-when Jesus had led His disciples out "as far as to Bethany, and lifted up His hands and blessed them-it came to pass, while He blessed them, He was parted from them, and carried up into heaven" (Luke 24:50-51). So here; it was "while Zacharias was executing the priest's office in the order of his course, burning incense in the temple of the Lord, and the whole multitude of the people were praying without," that the angel of the Lord appeared to him with the glad announcement of a son who should usher in and prepare the way of Christ Himself (Luke 1:8-11).

    (6) If the heart is ready to sink when the thin partitions between heaven and earth are, even in a small degree, (6) If the heart is ready to sink when the thin partitions between heaven and earth are, even in a small degree, rent asunder, how re-assuring is it to find such exceptional visitations only confirming the teaching of Moses and the prophets, and strengthening the expectations built upon them! (Luke 1:13-17).


    Copyright Statement
    These files are public domain.
    Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.

    Bibliography
    Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Luke 1:17". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/luke-1.html. 1871-8.

    Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

    (17) To the wisdom of the just.—The margin, by the wisdom, is undoubtedly the right rendering.


    Copyright Statement
    These files are public domain.
    Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.

    Bibliography
    Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on Luke 1:17". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ebc/luke-1.html. 1905.

    Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

    And he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elias, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.
    before
    16; John 1:13,23-30,34; 3:28
    in
    Malachi 4:5,6; Matthew 11:14; 17:11,12; Mark 9:11-13; John 1:21-24; Revelation 20:4
    power
    1 Kings 17:1; 18:18; 21:20; 2 Kings 1:4-6,16
    Elijah
    Matthew 3:4,7-12; 14:4
    turn
    3:7-14; Malachi 4:6
    and the
    Isaiah 29:24; Matthew 21:29-32; 1 Corinthians 6:9-11
    to
    or, by. to make.
    1 Samuel 7:5; 1 Chronicles 29:18; 2 Chronicles 29:36; Psalms 10:17; 78:8; 111:10; Amos 4:12; Acts 10:33; Romans 9:23; Colossians 1:12; 2 Timothy 2:21; 1 Peter 2:9; 2 Peter 3:11-14; 1 John 2:28

    Copyright Statement
    These files are public domain.
    Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.

    Bibliography
    Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on Luke 1:17". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/luke-1.html.

    The Bible Study New Testament

    Strong and mighty like the prophet Elijah. The way he looked, the way he dressed, and the way he lived, all reminds us of Elijah. See note on Matthew 16:14. He will bring fathers and children together again. The language of Malachi 4:5-6. The Law of Moses is about to be superseded by the Good News of Jesus Christ. He will get the Lord's people ready for him. He was the "advance Prayer of Manasseh," getting things ready for Jesus to begin his teaching tour of Palestine, which could climax in the Cross. John began a "renewal movement" in Palestine. The common people loved both John and Jesus. The Jewish leaders rejected them both.


    Copyright Statement
    These files are public domain.

    Bibliography
    Ice, Rhoderick D. "Commentary on Luke 1:17". "The Bible Study New Testament". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ice/luke-1.html. College Press, Joplin, MO. 1974.

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