Luke 4:16
And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up: and, as his custom was, he went into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and stood up for to read.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(16) And he came to Nazareth.—The narrative that follows, signally interesting in itself, has also the special interest of being peculiar to St. Luke. We may naturally think of it as having come to him from the same group of informants as those from whom he derived his narrative of the Infancy. (See Introduction.) He may have journeyed from Cæarea to Nazareth during St. Paul’s imprisonment in the former city, and obtained his information on the spot. It is clear that our Lord did not begin His ministry at Nazareth. He came there when His fame was, in some measure, at least, already established.

As his custom was.—This, then, had been His wont before He entered on His work. Children were admitted to the synagogue at the age of five. At thirteen attendance was obligatory. It was open to any man of reputed knowledge and piety, with the sanction of the ruler of the synagogue, to read the lessons (one from the Law and one from the Prophets), and our Lord’s previous life had doubtless gained the respect of that officer. Up to this time, it would seem, He had confined Himself to reading. Now He came to preach, after an absence possibly of some months, with the new power that had already made Him famous. The work of preaching also was open to any person of adequate culture, who had a “word of exhortation” to address to the worshippers. (Comp. Acts 13:15.) The constitution of the synagogue in thus admitting the teaching functions of qualified laymen, was distinctly opposed to the root-idea of sacerdotalism.

4:14-30 Christ taught in their synagogues, their places of public worship, where they met to read, expound, and apply the word, to pray and praise. All the gifts and graces of the Spirit were upon him and on him, without measure. By Christ, sinners may be loosed from the bonds of guilt, and by his Spirit and grace from the bondage of corruption. He came by the word of his gospel, to bring light to those that sat in the dark, and by the power of his grace, to give sight to those that were blind. And he preached the acceptable year of the Lord. Let sinners attend to the Saviour's invitation when liberty is thus proclaimed. Christ's name was Wonderful; in nothing was he more so than in the word of his grace, and the power that went along with it. We may well wonder that he should speak such words of grace to such graceless wretches as mankind. Some prejudice often furnishes an objection against the humbling doctrine of the cross; and while it is the word of God that stirs up men's enmity, they will blame the conduct or manner of the speaker. The doctrine of God's sovereignty, his right to do his will, provokes proud men. They will not seek his favour in his own way; and are angry when others have the favours they neglect. Still is Jesus rejected by multitudes who hear the same message from his words. While they crucify him afresh by their sins, may we honour him as the Son of God, the Saviour of men, and seek to show we do so by our obedience.And, as his custom was, he went ... - From this it appears that the Saviour regularly attended the service of the synagogue. In that service the Scriptures of the Old Testament were read, prayers were offered, and the Word of God was explained. See the notes at Matthew 4:23. There was great corruption in doctrine and practice at that time, but Christ did not on that account keep away from the place of public worship. From this we may learn:

1. That it is our duty "regularly" to attend public worship.

2. That it is better to attend a place of worship which is not entirely pure, or where just such doctrines are not delivered as we would wish, than not attend at all.

It is of vast importance that the public worship of God should be maintained; and it is "our" duty to assist in maintaining it, to show by our example that we love it, and to win others also to love it. See Hebrews 10:25. At the same time, this remark should not be construed as enjoining it as our duty to attend where the "true" God is not worshipped, or where he is worshipped by pagan rites and pagan prayers. If, therefore, the Unitarian does not worship the true God, and if the Roman Catholic worships God in a manner forbidden and offers homage to the creatures of God, thus being guilty of idolatry, it cannot be a duty to attend on such a place of worship.

The synagogue - See Matthew 4:23.

Stood up for to read - The books of Moses were so divided that they could be read through in the synagogues once in a year. To these were added portions out of the prophets, so that no small part of them was read also once a year. It is not known whether our Saviour read the lesson which was the regular one for that day, though it might seem "probable" that he would not depart from the usual custom. Yet, as the eyes of all were fixed on him; as he deliberately looked out a place; and as the people were evidently surprised at what he did, it seems to be intimated that he selected a lesson which was "not" the regular one for that day. The same ceremonies in regard to conducting public worship which are here described are observed at Jerusalem by the Jews at the present time. Professor Hackett ("Illustrations of Scripture," p. 232) says: "I attended the Jewish worship at Jerusalem, and was struck with the accordance of the ceremonies with those mentioned in the New Testament. The sacred roll was brought from the chest or closet where it was kept; it was handed by an attendant to the reader; a portion of it was rehearsed; the congregation rose and stood while it was read, whereas the speaker, as well as the others present, sat during the delivery of the address which formed a part of the service."

16. as his custom was—Compare Ac 17:2.

stood up for to read—Others besides rabbins were allowed to address the congregation. (See Ac 13:15.)

We heard before, Luke 2:39,51, that Christ was brought up at Nazareth; we read of him at Nazareth, Matthew 13:54. But I must confess I doubt whether Matthew there, and Luke here, speak of the same time. Of the nature of the Jewish synagogues, and their order of worship there, and the reading of the Scriptures in them, we have spoken before in our notes on Matthew 4:23. See Poole on "Matthew 4:23". And he came to Nazareth,.... After some length of time, when he had gone through all Galilee, and had acquired great credit and reputation by his ministry and miracles; he came to the place,

where he had been brought up: where he was conceived, though not born; and where he had his education, and wrought at a trade, and was well known to the inhabitants; and therefore it was proper that he should first exercise his ministry, and obtain a character in other places, which would prepare him a reception among his townsmen, who otherwise, in all likelihood, would have treated him at once with neglect and contempt:

and as his custom was, he went into the synagogue on the sabbath day. This was either his custom from his youth, when he dwelt at Nazareth, while a private person, and before he was engaged in public service, whither he had used to repair as an inhabitant of the city, and a member of the congregation, to attend synagogue worship, as he now did; or it refers to his custom, since he became a public preacher, who at Capernaum, or any other city of Galilee, where there was a synagogue, used to frequent it, whether on sabbath days, or any other, and so he did here:

and stood up for to read: by rising and standing up, and perhaps by some other gesture he signified his inclination to read a portion of Scripture, if liberty was given, and a book delivered him, for, as yet, he had no book to read in; nor might any read in public, unless he had an order from the congregation, or the chief of it; for so runs the Jewish canon (k):

"a reader may not read until the chief of the congregation bids him read; yea, even a minister of the congregation, or a ruler of the synagogue, may not read of himself, until the congregation, or the chief among them, bids him read.''

This custom of reading the Scriptures publicly, was an appointment of Moses, according to the account of the Jews; who say (l).

"Moses our master, ordered the Israelites to read in the law publicly, on the sabbath, and on the second and fifth days of the week, in the morning; so that they might not be three days without hearing the law and Ezra ordered, that they should read so at the evening sacrifice, every sabbath, on account of those that sit in the corners of streets; and also he ordered, that three men should read on the second and fifth days of the week, and that they should not read less than twenty verses.''

It was also the custom to stand at reading the law and the prophets: with regard to the book of Esther, the rule is (m) this;

"he that reads the "Megilia", or book of "Esther", stands or sits.''

That is, as their commentators (n) explain it, if he will he may stand, and if he will he may sit, he may do as he pleases; but so he might not in reading the law: hence it is asked (o),

"why is it not so in the law? R. Abhu replies, because the Scripture says, Deuteronomy 5:3 "Stand thou here by me."''

Wherefore they say (p), the law must be read standing, and it is even forbidden to lean on any thing. Christ conformed to these rules; he went into the synagogue to read on the sabbath day, and stood up when he read, and waited for order, and a book to be given him to read: it may be asked, how he came to be admitted to read publicly in the synagogue, when he was not of the tribe of Levi, nor was he brought up in the schools and academies of the Jews, and was known to be a mechanic? It may be observed, that common Israelites, as well as priests and Levites, were allowed to read the Scriptures publicly; every sabbath day, seven persons read, a priest, a Levite, and five Israelites: the order was this; the priest read first, and after him the Levite, and after him an Israelite: and it is said to be a known custom to this day, that even an unlearned priest read before the greatest wise man in Israel; and he that was greater than his companion in wisdom, read first (q). Now Christ, on account of the great fame he was in for his wisdom and mighty works, was admitted to this public service, though he was no Levite, and known by the inhabitants of this place, to have been brought up to a trade.

(k) Maimon. Hilchot Tephilla, c. 12. sect. 7. (l) Maimon. Hilchot Tephilla, c. 12. sect. 1.((m) Misn. Megilia, c. 4. 1.((n) Jarchi & Bartenora in ib. (o) T. Bab. Megilia, fol. 21. 1.((p) Robbenu Asher in T. Megill. c. 3. sect. 1. & Piske Harosh in ib. (q) Maimon. Hilch. Tephillah, c. 12. sect. 16, 18.

{3} And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up: and, as his custom was, he went into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and stood up for to read.

(3) Who Christ is and for what reason he came he shows from the prophet Isaiah.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Luke 4:16. As to the relation of the following incident to the similar one in Matthew 13:53 ff., Mark 6:1 ff., see on Matthew. No argument can be drawn from Luke 4:23 against the view that the incidents are different, for therein a ministry at Capernaum would already be presupposed (Schleiermacher, Kern, de Wette, Weiss, Bleek, Holtzmann, and others), as a previous ministry in that same place in the course of a journey (not while residing there) is fully established by Luke 4:14-15. According to Ewald (comp. also his Gesch. Chr. p. 345), who, moreover, rightly distinguishes the present from the subsequent appearance at Nazareth, there are incorporated together in Luke two distinct narratives about the discourses of Jesus in Nazareth. But with reference to the mention of Capernaum at Luke 4:23, see above; the connection, however, between Luke 4:22-23 is sufficiently effected by οὐχ οὗτός ἐστιν ὁ υἱὸς Ἰωσήφ. In Luke 4:31 ff. it is not the first appearance of Jesus at Capernaum in general that is related, but the first portion of His ministry after taking up His residence there (Luke 4:31), and a special fact which occurred during that ministry is brought into prominence (Luke 4:33 ff.). According to Köstlin, p. 205, Luke met with the narrative at a later place in the Gospel history, but placed it here earlier, and allowed the γενόμ. εἰς Καφαρν. inappropriately to remain because it might at a pinch be referred to Luke 4:15. Assuredly he did not proceed so frivolously and awkwardly, although Holtzmann also (comp. Weizsäcker, p. 398), following Schleiermacher, etc., accuses him of such an anticipation and self-contradiction, and, moreover, following Baur and Hilgenfeld, makes this anticipation find its motive withal in the supposed typical tendency of Luke 4:24.

οὗ ἦν τεθραμμ.] an observation inserted to account for the circumstances mentioned in Luke 4:22-23.

κατὰ τὸ εἰωθ. αὐτῷ] refers to His visiting the synagogue on the Sabbath, not also to the ἀνέστη. The Sabbath visit to the synagogue was certainly His custom from His youth up. Comp. Bengel and Lange, L. J. II. 2, p. 545.

ἀνέστη ἀναγνῶναι] for the Scripture was read standing (Vitringa, Synag. p. 135 f.; Lightfoot, p. 760 f.; Wetstein in loc.); so when Jesus stood up it was a sign that He wished to read. It is true, a superintendent of the synagogue was accustomed to summon to the reading the person whom he regarded as being fitted for it; but in the case of Jesus, His offering Himself is as much in keeping with His peculiar pre-eminence, as is the immediate acquiescence in His application.Luke 4:16-30. Jesus in Nazareth (Matthew 13:53-58, Mark 6:1-6 a). Though Lk. uses an editorial discretion in the placing of this beautiful story, there need be no suspicion as to the historicity of its main features. The visit of Jesus to His native town, which had a secure place in the common tradition, would be sure to interest Lk. and create desire for further information, which might readily be obtainable from surviving Nazareans, who had been present, even from the brethren of Jesus. We may therefore seek in this frontispiece (Programm-stück, J. Weiss) authentic reminiscences of a synagogue address of Jesus.16. And he came to Nazareth] This is probably the visit related in unchronological order in Matthew 13:53-58; Mark 6:1-6, since after so violent and decisive a rejection as St Luke narrates, it is unlikely that He should have preached at Nazareth again. If so, we learn from these (1) that His disciples were with Him; (2) that He healed a few of the sick, being prevented from further activity by their unbelief.

as his custom was] This seems to refer to what had been the habit of the life of Jesus while he had lived at Nazareth. Hitherto however He had been, in all probability, a silent worshipper.

into the synagogue] The article shews that the little village only possessed a single synagogue. Synagogues had sprung up throughout Judaea since the return from the exile. They were rooms of which the end pointed towards Jerusalem (the Kibleh, or consecrated direction, of Jewish worship (Daniel 6:10), as Mecca is of Mohammedan). The men sat on one side; the veiled women behind a lattice on the other. The chief furniture was the Ark (tebhah) of painted wood, generally shrouded by a curtain, and containing the Thorah (Pentateuch), and rolls (megilloth) of the Prophets. On one side was a bema for the reader and preacher, and there were “chief seats” (Mark 12:39) for the Ruler of the Synagogue, and the elders (zekanim). The servants of the synagogue were the clerk (chazzan), verger (sheliach) and deacons (parnasim, ‘shepherds’).

on the sabbath day] Observe the divine sanction thus given to the ordinance of weekly public worship.

stood up for to read] The custom was to read the Scripture standing. There was no recognised or ordained ministry for the synagogues. The functions of Priest and Levites were confined to the Temple, and the various officers of the synagogue were more like our churchwardens. Hence it was the custom of the Ruler or Elders to invite any one to read or preach who was known to them as a distinguished or competent person (Acts 13:15).Luke 4:16. Ἦλθεν, He came) for the purpose of repaying the debt of gratitude to the city where He had been reared to maturity.—κατὰ τὸ εἰωθὸς αὐτῷ) The same phrase occurs Numbers 24:1. We see hereby what was the practice of Jesus whilst still a youth at Nazareth before His baptism.—τῶν σαββάτων, the Sabbath) It was also the day of expiation: but the mention of the Sabbath corresponds to the expression, as His custom was.—ἀνέστη, He stood up) By this attitude He showed that it was His wish to read in public: and when He had done so, a book was given to Him. We read of His having once read (although it seems to have been His custom to act the part of the anagnostes or reader: for, on the Sabbath, all (Luke 4:20) were accustomed to come into the synagogue); we read also of His having once written, John 8:6. It is especially consonant with that earliest period of His ministry, that Jesus proved the Divine authority of His preaching from the Old Testament, even in condescension to the Nazarenes, who were more likely to despise Him in His own country.Verse 16. - And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up: and, as his custom was, he went into the synagogue on the sabbath day. This had been for years his practice in the little synagogue of the village where was his carpenter's shop. Children at the age of five years were admitted into the synagogue, and at thirteen attendance there was part of the legal life of the Jew. These synagogues were the regular places for religious gatherings every sabbath day, and also usually on Mondays and Tuesdays, besides on other special occasions. We hear of them after the return from the Captivity, and probably they existed long before. Some think that in Psalm 74:8 there is a reference to them. And stood up for to read. The holy books were always read standing. The ruler or elder presided over and directed the synagogue service. The priest and Levite had no recognized position in the synagogue. Their functions were confined to the temple and to the duties prescribed in the Law. It was not unusual for the synagogue officials, if any stranger was present who was known to be competent, to ask him to read and to expound a passage in the Law or Prophets. Our Lord was well known in Nazareth, and of late had evidently gained a great reputation as a preacher. It was, therefore, most natural that he should be asked to take a prominent part in the sabbath services. Nazareth

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

Stood up

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

To read (ἀναγνῶναι)

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

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