Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Luke 3:15

Now while the people were in a state of expectation and all were wondering in their hearts about John, as to whether he was the Christ,
New American Standard

Bible Study Resources

Concordances:
Nave's Topical Bible - Israel, Prophecies Concerning;   John;   Scofield Reference Index - Repentance;   Thompson Chain Reference - Hope;   Messianic Hope;   The Topic Concordance - Baptism;   Harvest;   Hell;   Holy Spirit;   Jesus Christ;  
Dictionaries:
American Tract Society Bible Dictionary - Genealogy;   John;   Mary;   Bridgeway Bible Dictionary - John the baptist;   Baker Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology - Christ, Christology;   John the Baptist;   Fausset Bible Dictionary - Gospels;   John the Baptist;   Son of God;   Holman Bible Dictionary - Future Hope;   John;   Luke, Gospel of;   Muse;   Ordinances;   Repentance;   Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - John the Baptist;   Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament - Benedictus;   Heart;   Herod ;   Prophet;   Morrish Bible Dictionary - Herod, Family of;  
Encyclopedias:
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Expect;   Hap;   Luke, the Gospel of;   Messiah;   Muse;   Reason;   The Jewish Encyclopedia - Christianity in Its Relation to Judaism;  

Adam Clarke Commentary

Whether he were the Christ - So general was the reformation which was produced by the Baptist's preaching that the people were ready to consider him as the promised Messiah. Thus John came in the spirit and power of Elijah, and reformed all things; showed the people, the tax-gatherers, and the soldiers, their respective duties, and persuaded them to put away the evil of their doings. See the note on Matthew 17:11.

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Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Luke 3:15". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/luke-3.html. 1832.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

In expectation - Expecting the Messiah. Margin, “suspense.” That is, they were not certain whether John was not himself the Messiah. They confidently “expected” his appearing, and there minds were in “suspense,” or they were in a state of doubt whether he had not already come, and whether John was not the Messiah.

Mused in their hearts of John - Thought of his character, his preaching, and his success, and anxiously inquired whether he did not do the things which were expected of the Messiah.

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Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Luke 3:15". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/luke-3.html. 1870.

The Biblical Illustrator

Luke 3:15

Whether he were the Christ or not

The Baptist’s attitude towards Christ

Observe here--

1.
How the extraordinariness of the Baptist’s person, the earnestness of his preaching, the acceptableness of his doctrine, and the exemplariness of his conversation, drew all persons to an admiration of him; insomuch that they began to think within themselves, whether he were not the Messiah Himself. He plainly tells them he was not, but only His servant, His harbinger, and forerunner.

2. The high opinion which John had of Christ. “He is mightier than I”; i.e., a person of greater authority, dignity, and excellency, than myself.

3. The humble and low estimation that the Baptist had of himself. “The latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to unloose”: a proverbial speech, implying that he was unworthy to do the lowest offices, and meanest services for Christ. How well does humility of mind, a humble estimate and low opinion of themselves, become the messengers and ministers of Christ.

4. John does not only declare the dignity of Christ’s person, but the excellency of His office. “He shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire.” As if he had said, I only wash the body with water, but Christ cleanses the soul by the operation of His Holy Spirit, which is as fire in its effects, purifying the hearts of His people from sin, and consuming their lusts and corruptions; yet at the same time having fiery indignation, and flaming judgments, to destroy and burn up impenitent sinners like dry stubble. It is observable in Scripture, that Christ is represented by one and the same metaphor of fire, in a way of comfort to His children, and in a way of terror to His enemies; He is fire unto both. He sits in the hearts of His people as a refiner’s fire; He is amongst His enemies as a consuming fire: a fire for His Church to take comfort in, a fire for His enemies to perish by.

5. The Baptist compares Christ to a husbandman, and the Jewish Church to a barn-floor; the office of a husbandman is to thresh, fan, and winnow His corn, separating it from the chaff, preserving the one and consuming the other.

The Church is compared to a floor, because of the mixture of good and bad in it, saints and sinners, hypocrites and sincere Christians, just as in a threshing-floor there is straw as well as grain, chaff as well as corn, tares as well as wheat, cockle and darnel as well as good seed. But Christ will purge His Church; purge it of its corruptions, without destroying its essence or existence, by the fan of His Holy Word, accompanied by the wing of discipline. (W. Burkitt, M. A.)

No true teacher can suffer himself to live upon mistaken impressions

The people mused whether John were the Christ or not. An unreal and self-seeking man would have turned this doubtfulness to his own account. This was John’s temptation. Jesus was tempted in one direction and John in another; but in each case the temptation was direct and real. Every ministry must be tempted, as must every Christian. Have you ever been tempted to regard yourself as some great one? Have you not covered up your poor and withering name with the reputation of strong and brilliant men? Have you not received applause for originalities which you have but quoted from others? John’s declaration concerning Christ is most remarkable. He says nothing about preaching the gospel or dying for the sins of the world, nor about the great evangelical mission; the declaration relates solely to baptism, and to the discrimination of character. But what a baptism! and what a discrimination! There can be no mistake about any man who has received the baptism of fire; the fire will either illuminate or consume him, so that he will be either a light shining afar, or a scorched and barren soul that has quenched the Spirit. Baptism by water can only be initial or symbolical; baptism by fire is the great testimony of God to the soul’s purification and acceptance. John points to two distinct uses of fire: Jesus will baptize with fire, and with fire unquenchable will He burn the chaff.

This is precisely what the gospel does. It is a savour of life unto life, or of death unto death. (J. Parker, D. D.)

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Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on "Luke 3:15". The Biblical Illustrator. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tbi/luke-3.html. 1905-1909. New York.

Coffman Commentaries on the Bible

And as the people were in expectation, and all men reasoned in their hearts concerning John, whether haply he were the Christ.

JOHN THE BAPTIST ANNOUNCES THE CHRIST

This denotes the widespread, sensational success of John's preaching, and the wonderment on the part of many if, perhaps, this was indeed the Messiah. Such impressions reached Jerusalem, as we read in John; and the Pharisees sent a delegation to ascertain the facts. However, John denied that he was the Christ (John 1:18-28).

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Coffman Commentaries reproduced by permission of Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. All other rights reserved.
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Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on Luke 3:15". "Coffman Commentaries on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bcc/luke-3.html. Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

And as the people were in expectation, of the coming of the Messiah; Daniel's seventy weeks being now accomplished, the sceptre being departed from Judah, and the Romans having the government in their hands, from whom they hoped for a deliverance by Christ;

and all men mused in their hearts of John; whether he were the Christ, or no; about which they had many reasonings and debates: some doubting of it, others ready to believe it, from his extraordinary birth, the singular holiness of his life, the power and efficacy of his doctrine, the new ordinance he administered, the restoration of religion by him, the freedom he took in reproving the vices of men, and the apt answers he gave to the questions now put to him. And that the Messiah was born, though he was not, as yet, made manifest, they might conclude, not only from the fulfilment of several prophecies, but from the song of Zacharias, the declaration of Simeon and Anna in the temple, and of the wise men that came from the east; and John appearing in such an unusual manner, they were ready to hope that he was the person; though they did not consider that he was of the tribe of Levi, and not of Judah; from which latter the Messiah was to spring; but this might be unattended to by them, and Satan might have an hand in it to hide the true Messiah from them.

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The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rights Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
A printed copy of this work can be ordered from: The Baptist Standard Bearer, 1 Iron Oaks Dr, Paris, AR, 72855
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Gill, John. "Commentary on Luke 3:15". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/luke-3.html. 1999.

Geneva Study Bible

2 And as the people were in expectation, and all men mused in their hearts of John, whether he were the Christ, or not;

(2) If we would rightly and fruitfully receive the sacraments, we must neither rest in the signs, neither in him that ministers the signs, but lift up our eyes to Christ, who is the author of the sacraments, and the giver of that which is represented by the sacraments.
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Beza, Theodore. "Commentary on Luke 3:15". "The 1599 Geneva Study Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/gsb/luke-3.html. 1599-1645.

Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament

Were in expectation (προσδοκωντοςprosdokōntos). Genitive absolute of this striking verb already seen in Luke 1:21.

Reasoned (διαλογιζομενωνdialogizomenōn). Genitive absolute again. John‘s preaching about the Messiah and the kingdom of God stirred the people deeply and set them to wondering.

Whether haply he were the Christ (μηποτε αυτος ειη ο Χριστοςmēpote autos eiē ho Christos). Optative ειηeiē in indirect question changed from the indicative in the direct (Robertson, Grammar, p. 1031). John wrought no miracles and was not in David‘s line and yet he moved people so mightily that they began to suspect that he himself (αυτοςautos) was the Messiah. The Sanhedrin will one day send a formal committee to ask him this direct question (John 1:19).

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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)
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Robertson, A.T. "Commentary on Luke 3:15". "Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/rwp/luke-3.html. Broadman Press 1932,33. Renewal 1960.

Vincent's Word Studies

Mused ( διαλογιζομένων )

Better as Rev., reasoned. Compare Luke 1:29; and see on James 2:4.

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Vincent, Marvin R. DD. "Commentary on Luke 3:15". "Vincent's Word Studies in the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/vnt/luke-3.html. Charles Schribner's Sons. New York, USA. 1887.

The Fourfold Gospel

And as the people were in expectation1, and all men reasoned in their hearts concerning John2, whether haply he were the Christ3;

  1. And as the people were in expectation. Expecting the Christ. See John 1:19-28.

  2. And all men reasoned in their hearts concerning John. Prophecy induced a Messianic expectation. The scepter had departed from Judah, and Caesar's deputies ruled. Tetrarchs and procurators held the whole civil government. In their hands lay the power of life, and death from which only Roman citizens could appeal (Acts 25:11). The power of the Jewish courts was limited to excommunication or scourging. The seventy weeks of Daniel were now expiring, and other prophecies indicated the fullness of time. But distress, rather than prophecy, enhanced their expectation. Tiberius, the most infamous of men, governed the world. Pontius Pilate, insolent, cruel, was making life irksome and maddening the people. Herod Antipas, by a course of reckless apostasy and unbridled lust, grieved even the religious sense of the hypocrite. Annas and Caiaphas, impersonators of materialism, sat in the chief seat of spiritual power. Men might well look for a deliverer, and hasten with joy to hear of a coming King.

  3. Whether haply he were the Christ. But, nevertheless, we could have no more forceful statement of the deep impression made by John's ministry than that the people were disposed to take him for the Christ.

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These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website. These files were made available by Mr. Ernie Stefanik. First published online in 1996 at The Restoration Movement Pages.
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J. W. McGarvey and Philip Y. Pendleton. "Commentary on Luke 3:15". "The Fourfold Gospel". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tfg/luke-3.html. Standard Publishing Company, Cincinnati, Ohio. 1914.

Abbott's Illustrated New Testament

The evangelist John states that the Jews sent special messengers from Jerusalem to put this question to him. (John 1:19.)

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Abbott, John S. C. & Abbott, Jacob. "Commentary on Luke 3:15". "Abbott's Illustrated New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ain/luke-3.html. 1878.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

15 And as the people were in expectation, and all men mused in their hearts of John, whether he were the Christ, or not;

Ver. 15. Whether he were the Christ] Yet John did no miracle, but he was a burning and a shining light, he thundered in his doctrine and lightened in his life. Hence was he so much admired.

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Trapp, John. "Commentary on Luke 3:15". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/luke-3.html. 1865-1868.

Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible

Luke 3:15. And as the people were in expectation, John had now acquired an extraordinary reputation by the austerity of his life, the subject of his sermons, the fervencyofhisexhortations,and the freedom, impartiality, and courage with which he rebuked his hearers: yet his fame received no small addition from the various rumours current in the country at that time; for the vision which his father Zacharias had seen in the temple, the coming of the Eastern philosophers to Jerusalem, the prophesies of Simeon, the discourses of Anna, the perplexities of Jerusalem, and Herod's cruelty, though they had happened full thirty years before this, must still have been fresh in the memories of the people, who, no doubt, applied them all to John. Their expectations therefore being raised to a very high pitch, they began to think he might be the Christ, and were ready to acknowledge him as such: so that had he aspired after grandeur, he might, at least for a while, have possessed honours greater than any of the sons of men could justly claim. But the Baptist was too strictly virtuous and holy, to assume what he had no title to;and therefore he declared plainly, that he was not the Messiah, but the lowest of his servants; one sent to prepare the way before him. See the next verse.

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Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Luke 3:15". Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tcc/luke-3.html. 1801-1803.

Expository Notes with Practical Observations on the New Testament

Observe here, 1. How the extraordinariness of John the Baptist's person, the earnestness of his preaching, the acceptableness of his doctrine, and the exemplariness of his conversation, drew all persons to an admiration of him; insomuch that they began to think within themselves, whether here were not the Messiah himself. He plainly tells them he was not, but only his servant, his harbinger and forerunner.

Observe 2. The high opinion which John had of Christ, He is mightier than I that is, a person of greater authority, dignity, and excellency, than myself.

From whence may be gathered, that though Christ was man, he was more than man, even very God, equal with the Father: for John himself was the greatest of them that were born of women. Matthew 11:11 Yet, says John, Christ is mightier than I. How so? In regard of the dignity of his person, being both God and man? He that cometh after me is mightier than I.

Observe, 3. The humble and low estimation that the holy Baptist had of himself: His shoe-latchet I am not worthy to unloose: a proverbial speech, implying that he was unworthy to do the lowest offices, and meanest services for Christ.

Lord, how well does humility of mind, an humble apprehension, and a low opinion of themselves, become the messengers and ministers of Christ! John was a man of eminent abilities, yet of exemplary humility; he thought himself unworthy to unloose Christ's shoe.

Observe, 4. John does not only declare the dignity of Christ's person, but the excellency of his office; He shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire. As if he had said, "I only wash the body with water, but Christ cleanses the soul by the operation of his Holy Spirit, which is as fire in the effects of it, purifying the hearts of his people from sin, and consuming their lusts and corruptions; yet at the same time having fiery indignation, and flaming judgments, to destroy and burn up impenitent sinners like dry stubble."

Observable it is in scripture, that Christ is represented by one and the same metaphor of fire, in a way of comfort to his children, and in a way of terror to his enemies; he is fire unto both. He sits in the hearts of his people as a refiner's fire; he is amongst his enemies as a consuming fire: a fire for his church to take comfort in, a fire for his enemies to perish by.

Observe, lastly, how the holy Baptist compares our Saviour to an husbandman, and the Jewish church to a barn floor; the office of an husbandman is to thresh, fan, and winnow, his corn, separating it from the chaff, preserving the one, and consuming the other.

Observe, 1. That the church is Christ's floor.

2. That this floor Christ will purge, and that thoroughly.

3. That the word of Christ is the fan in his hand, by and with which he will thoroughly purge his floor.

The church is compared to a floor, upon the account of that mixture which is in the church. In a floor there is straw as well as grain, chaff as well as corn, tares as well as wheat, cockle and darnel as well as good seed. Thus in the church there has been, there is, and ever will be, a mixture of good and bad, saints and sinners, hypocrites and sincere Christians: but this floor Christ will purge; purge it, but not break it up; purge out its corruptions, but not destroy its essence and existence: and the fan in Christ's hand, with which he will purge his floor, is his holy word, accompanied with the wing of discipline. The fan detects and discovers the chaff, and the wing dissipates and scatters it; and by the help of both the floor is purged: His fan is in his hand, and he will thoroughly purge.

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Burkitt, William. "Commentary on Luke 3:15". Expository Notes with Practical Observations on the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/wbc/luke-3.html. 1700-1703.

Heinrich Meyer's Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament

Luke 3:15. Statement of the circumstances which elicited the following confession; although not found in Matthew and Mark, it has not been arbitrarily constructed by Luke (Weisse) in order to return again to the connection, Luke 3:9 (Hilgenfeld, Holtzmann), but was probably derived from the same source as Luke 3:10 ff., and at all events it is in keeping with the impression made by the appearance of John, and his preaching of baptism and repentance. Comp. John 1:25, where the more immediate occasion is narrated.

προσδοκῶντος] while the people were in expectation. The people were eagerly listening—for what? This is shown in what follows, namely, for an explanation by John about himself. Comp. Acts 27:33.

μήποτε] whether not perchance. Comp. on Galatians 2:2.

αὐτός] ipse, not a third, whose forerunner then he would only be.

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Meyer, Heinrich. "Commentary on Luke 3:15". Heinrich Meyer's Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hmc/luke-3.html. 1832.

Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament

Luke 3:15. προσδοκῶντος, being in expectation) They were waiting in expectation that proofs [of Messiahship] should come from John or from some other quarter. But John, being son of the priest Zacharias, was not of the tribe of Judah, of which it was certain that the Messiah was to spring.— χριστὸς, the Christ) As yet they had not so gross a conception concerning the Christ [as subsequently]: for John had no external splendour to recommend him, and yet they were musing such thoughts concerning him.

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Bengel, Johann Albrecht. "Commentary on Luke 3:15". Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jab/luke-3.html. 1897.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

It being known to many what the angel had told Zacharias concerning John thirty years since, and what had miraculously happened at his circumcision, as also what Zacharias his father had prophesied concerning him; and there having been many who had observed the holiness and severity of his life all along, until he came to man’s estate; and knowing that the time was fulfilled for the coming of the Messias, the sceptre being now departed from Judah, and Daniel’s weeks being accomplished; and hearing him preach with that life and power which attended his ministry, as also considering his doctrine (not new in itself, being consonant to the Divine law, and the doctrine of the prophets, but) new to them, who had used to hear of rites and ceremonies and the traditions of the elders, but little or nothing of repentance, or bringing forth fruits worthy of it; they began to reason and debate with, themselves, whether John the Baptist were not the Messiah promised, and in great suspense they were about it. But John quickly satisfied them as to that, not desirous to arrogate to himself his honour, whose, messenger only he was.

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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Luke 3:15". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mpc/luke-3.html. 1685.

Justin Edwards' Family Bible New Testament

In expectation; of the coming of the Messiah.

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Edwards, Justin. "Commentary on Luke 3:15". "Family Bible New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/fam/luke-3.html. American Tract Society. 1851.

Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible

One Is Coming Who Will Send the Holy Spirit So As To Produce Good Grain For the Harvest and To Cleanse His Threshing Floor (3:15-18).

‘And the people also were in expectation, and all men reasoned in their hearts concerning John, whether haply he were the Christ.’

The words of John stirred the people and aroused their expectations. A recognition that the last days were coming filled their hearts. So they even began to ask themselves whether he might possibly be the promised Messiah (compare John 1:20; John 1:25; Acts 13:25). A note of uncertainty and wishfulness is indicated in the Greek text (mepote with the optative).

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Pett, Peter. "Commentary on Luke 3:15". "Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible ". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/pet/luke-3.html. 2013.

Schaff's Popular Commentary on the New Testament

Luke 3:15. Were in expectation, i.e., waiting for a declaration of John respecting himself. Comp. the demand, John 1:19-22.

All reasoned. The question was considered by all.

Whether haply he were the Christ. This shows the deep impression made by John, as well as the general expectation that the Messiah would speedily come. John’s humble declaration shows moral greatness.

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Schaff, Philip. "Commentary on Luke 3:15". "Schaff's Popular Commentary on the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/scn/luke-3.html. 1879-90.

The Expositor's Greek Testament

Luke 3:15. : in Mt. and Mk. John introduces the subject of the Messiah of his own accord: in Lk. in answer to popular expectation and conjecture; an intrinsically probable account, vide on Mt.— , etc., whether perhaps he might not himself be the Christ; expresses very happily the popular state of mind.

 

 

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Nicol, W. Robertson, M.A., L.L.D. "Commentary on Luke 3:15". The Expositor's Greek Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/egt/luke-3.html. 1897-1910.

George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

reasons might have induced the people to think that John was the Christ: 1. The wonders that took place at his birth and conception, his mother being very old, and without any prospect of offspring: 2. the excellence of his preaching, his mortified life, and the novelty of his baptism; and thirdly, the report which them generally prevailed among the Jews, that the Messias was already come; on account of the coming of the magi, and the murder of the infants by Herod: both which circumstances were probably fresh in their memory; and several perhaps, who witnessed them, were still living. (Denis the Carthusian)

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Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on Luke 3:15". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hcc/luke-3.html. 1859.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

in expectation. See notes on Luke 2:25, Luke 2:38; Luke 24:21. Mark 15:43.

mused = reasoned.

of = concerning. Greek. peri. App-104.

the Christ = the Messiah. App-98.

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Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on Luke 3:15". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bul/luke-3.html. 1909-1922.

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

(15) All men mused in their hearts . . .—The surmise which St. Luke thus records is not given by St. Matthew or St. Mark, but it agrees with what we find in St. John (John 1:19), and explains the reference to the “mightier” one which in the other Gospels comes in somewhat abruptly. On the answer itself, see Notes on Matthew 3:11-12. St. Luke’s report includes the chief features of those of St. Matthew and St. Mark, but it omits the characteristically vivid “stooping down” to unloose which we find in the latter.

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Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on Luke 3:15". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ebc/luke-3.html. 1905.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

And as the people were in expectation, and all men mused in their hearts of John, whether he were the Christ, or not;
expectation
or, suspense.
John 10:24
mused
or, reasoned, or debated.
John 1:19-28; 3:28,29
Reciprocal: John 1:20 - GeneralActs 13:25 - whom

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Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on Luke 3:15". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/luke-3.html.