Luke 4 William Kelly Major Works Commentary
Luke 4
William Kelly Major Works Commentary
And Jesus being full of the Holy Ghost returned from Jordan, and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness,
Luke Chapter 4

Luke 4:1-13.

Matthew 4:1-11; Mark 1:12-13.

In none of the Synoptic Gospels has the temptation a weightier place than here. Matthew confronts the Messiah with the great enemy of God's people; and, giving the three closing acts just as they took place, reports them as they illustrate dispensation, and the great impending change, which is emphatically his theme. Mark notes the fact in its due time, and the devotedness of the blessed Servant of God thus tempted of the devil in the wilderness, with none but the wild beasts near, till at its close, as we know also from Matthew, angels came and ministered to Him. John characteristically omits the circumstance altogether; for it clearly attached to His being found in fashion as a man (when He emptied Himself, and took upon Him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men), and not to His being God. To Luke it was of capital moment; and the Spirit, as we shall see, saw fit to arrange the order of its parts so as the better to carry out the design by our Evangelist.

Here is noted the transition from Jordan of Jesus, "full of the Holy Ghost" (verse 1). It might not at first sight appear to be a likely path; but the more one reflects, the more one may see its wisdom and suitability. He was just baptized, sealed of the Spirit, and, above all, owned by the Father as His beloved Son, forthwith led in the Spirit in the wilderness; and there He was forty days tempted of the devil.80 The principle is true of us too. - Sons of God by the faith of Jesus, and consciously so by the indwelling of the Holy Ghost, we too know what it is to be tempted by the devil. Temptation is hardly the way in which the devil deals with his children; but when we are delivered, such conflicts begin.

The first in order, and this in Matthew too, is the appeal to natural wants. "And in those days he did not eat anything; and when they were finished, he hungered.* And the devil said to him, If thou be Son of God, speak to this stone that it become bread."81 The Lord at once takes the lowliest ground, really the most elevated morally, that the sustenance of nature is not the first consideration, but living by the Word of God. He waits for a word from Him Whose will He was come to do. He refuses even in His hunger to take a single step in the way of satisfying His sinless wants without Divine direction. The true and only right place of man is dependence; and He having become a man, would not swerve. from the dependence which referred to God instead of following wishes of His own: indeed, His will was to do God's will. "And Jesus answered unto him, saying, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, (Deuteronomy 8:3) but by every word of God"†81a (verse 4). Such was the true estate of man, and his right relation to God; and Jesus therein abode, in circumstances of the greatest trial, the bright contrast of the first Adam, who left it where all circumstances were in his favour.

* Before "hungered," AE, etc., 1, 33, 69, Syrr., etc., put "afterwards, which Edd. omit, with BDL and Old Lat.

†"But by every word of God": so AD, etc., and all later uncials with cursives, Goth., most Syrr. Rejected by Edd. following BL, Syrsin, Amiat., Sahid., Memph. (from Matthew).

Historically Israel were so tried and failed totally, spite of that constant lesson in the daily manna of their dependence on God and of His unfailing care of them. They hardened their hearts, not hearing His voice; so that forty years long Jehovah was grieved with that generation, and said, "It is a people that do err in their heart, and they have not known my ways." (Psalm 95:10). But the heart of Jesus was toward His Father, and He, with the full power of the Spirit, refused to supply even the most legitimate wants of the body, save in obedience. "My meat," as He said later, "is to do the will of him that sent Me." (John 4:34.)

The next here (the third in Matthew, and, as I believe, in the order of occurrence) is the worldly appeal. "And [the devil]* leading him up into a high mountain,† showed him all the kingdoms of the habitable world in a moment of time. And the devil said to him, I will give thee all this power, and the glory, for it is given up to me,82 and to whomsoever will I give it. If, therefore, thou wilt do homage before me, all‡ shall be thine. And Jesus answering him said, It is written, Thou shalt do homage to the Lord thy God, and him alone shalt thou serve" (verses 5-8). (Deuteronomy 6:13). The best authenticated text leaves out of the Lord's answer to the devil "Get thee behind me, Satan; for."§ And a little reflection shows that, as the external authority demands this omission, so it seems necessarily to follow from the change of order in which Luke was, I doubt not, guided of God. For the vulgarly received text would give the strange appearance that the Lord told the adversary to get behind or go away, while Satan is represented as staying where he was and tempting the Lord after a new sort. Omit these words, and all flows on in exact connection with the context. Internal evidence is thus in harmony with the external.

*["The devil"]: so AE, etc., Amiat., Syrr. (sin.: "Satan"); but omitted by Edd., after BDL, 1.

†"Into a high mountain": as AD and later uncials, all cursives, Syrr. Goth.; but Edd. omit, following BL, Amiat., etc. (from Matthew).

‡"All": so Edd. after ABDLΔΞ, most cursives (1, 33, 69), Syrr. Memph. "All things" is found in only a few minuscules, and in Amiat.

§"Get thee behind me, Satan," in T. R. after "him" is supported only by A with later uncials, most cursives. Edd. follow BDLX, 1, 33, etc.; and the same authorities with Amiat. omit "for."

In Matthew where the words occur in the third place,83 as in fact it was so, the command to get hence is followed by the devil leaving Him. Thus all is as it should be. In Luke where the transposition occurs, the necessity for omitting the clause is evident; and so it was.

The Lord rebuts the worldly temptations by insisting, according to the written Word, on worshipping the Lord God and serving only Him. Homage to Satan is incompatible with the service of God.

Lastly comes the religious trial. "And he led him to, Jerusalem,84 and set him on the edge of the temple,85 and said to him, If thou be Son of God, cast thyself down hence, for it is written, He shall give charge to his angels concerning thee to keep thee; and on their hands they shall bear thee up, lest in any wise thou strike thy foot against a stone. (Psalm 91:11f). And Jesus answering said to him, It is said, Thou shalt not tempt [the] LORD thy God" (verses 9-12) (Deuteronomy 6:16). Here the devil would separate the way from the end, omitting this part of the psalm which he cites. The Lord replies with the saying in Scripture, "Thou shalt not tempt the LORD thy God." To trust Him and count on His gracious ways is not to tempt. The Israelites tempted Jehovah by questioning whether He was in their midst or not; they ought to have reckoned on His presence, and succour, and care. Jesus did not need to prove the faithfulness of God to His own Word; He was sure of it and counted on it. He knew that Jehovah would give His angels charge over Him, and this not outside ' but to keep Him in all His ways. Thus foiled in his misuse of Scripture, as everywhere else, the enemy could do no more then. "And the devil having completed every temptation, departed from him for a time."86 Jesus, the Son of God, was victorious, and this in obedience, by the right use of the written Word of God.

Luke 4:14-30.

It is important to notice that the temptation in the wilderness preceded the active public life of the Lord, as Gethsemane preceded His death in atonement for our sins. It is an utterly false notion that this defeat of Satan in the wilderness was the basis of our redemption. Such, I believe, is Milton's view in his "Paradise Regained." But this theory makes victory to be the means of our deliverance from God instead of suffering, and gives consequently the all-importance to living energy, rather than to God's infinite moral or judicial dealing with our sins on the cross; it puts life in the place of death, and shuts out or ignores expiation. The real object and connection of the temptation is manifest, when we consider that it is the prelude to the Lord's public life here below, in which He was continually acting on His victory over Satan. When the enemy came again at Gethsemane, it was to turn the Lord aside through the terror of death, and specially of such a death as His on the cross. In the wilderness, and on the mountain, and on the pinnacle of the temple (for there were three different sites and circumstances of this temptation) it was to draw Him away from the path of God by the desirable things of the world.

But however this may be, Jesus now returns in the power of the Spirit into Galilee: "and a rumour went out into the whole surrounding country about him. And he taught in their synagogues, being glorified of all."87 This is the general description, I apprehend; but the Spirit of God singles out a very special circumstance which illustrates our Lord in the great design of this Gospel. It is peculiar to Luke.88 "He came to Nazareth [Nazara], where he was brought up: and he entered, according to his custom, into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and stood up to read.89 And the book of the prophet Esaias was given to him. And having unrolled the book, he found the place where it was written." It was, in fact, the beginning of Isaiah 61.90 This is the more remarkable because the connection of the prophecy is the total ruin of Israel, and the introduction of the kingdom of God and His glory when judgment takes its course. Yet in the midst of this these verses describe our Lord in the fulness of grace. There is no prophet so evangelical, according to ordinary language, as Isaiah; and in Isaiah there is no portion perhaps of the whole prophecy that so breathes the spirit of the Gospel as these very verses. Now what can be more striking than that this should be read on that occasion by Christ, and that the Spirit of God gives Luke alone to record it? Our Lord takes the book and reads, stopping precisely at the point where mercy terminates. It is the description of His grace in ministry; it is not so much His Person as His devoted life, His work, His ways on earth. In fact, it is pretty much what we have in Acts 10: "How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him." Immediately after in the prophecy follows "the day of vengeance of our God." But our Lord does not read these words. Is not this, too, extremely remarkable, that our Lord should stop in the middle of a verse, and read what describes His grace and not what touches on His judgment? Why is this? Because He is come only in grace now. By and by He will come in judgment, and then the other verses of the prophecy will be accomplished. Then it will be both the year of His redeemed when He will bless them, and the day of vengeance when He will execute judgment upon their enemies.

Meanwhile, all that He was about to do in Israel for the present was only gracious activity in the power of the Spirit. To this accordingly God had anointed Him - "to preach glad tidings to [the] poor; he hath sent me [to heal the broken-hearted],* to preach to captives deliverance, and to [the] blind sight, to send forth [the] crushed delivered" - and this is what He was to preach - "[the] acceptable year of [the] LORD." 91 "And he rolled up the book." Now nothing, it is plain, can more aptly suit the object of the Spirit of God in Luke, who is the only writer inspired to record this. All through the Gospel, this is what He is doing. It is the activity of grace among men's misery and sins and need." By and by He will tread the winepress alone, He will expend the fury of the Lord upon His adversaries; but now it is unmingled mercy. Such was Jesus upon the earth, and so Luke describes Him throughout. No wonder therefore that He closed the book. This was all that was needful or true to say about Him now; the rest will be proved in its own time. The judgment of God in the second advent is as true as the grace of God that He has been showing in the first advent.

*Before "to preach deliverance," A, with all later uncials and most cursives, Goth. Syrrpesch hcl hier has the words bracketed, which Edd. reject, after BDLΞ, 33, 69, Syrsin Old Lat. and Amiat., Origen, etc.

Another thing, too, is remarkable and proved by this. It is that the whole state of things since Christ was upon the earth till the second advent is a parenthesis. It is not the accomplishment of prophecy, but the revelation of the mystery that was hid in God that is now brought to view. Prophecy shows us Christ's first and second advents together; but what is between the two advents is filled up by the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven, Who is forming the Church wherein there is neither Jew nor Gentile. Prophecy always supposes Jew and Gentile. The Church is founded upon the blotting out of this distinction for the time being. It is during the period when Israel does not own the Messiah, which stretches over all the interval between the two advents of Christ, that this new and heavenly work proceeds.

The Lord therefore stopped dead short, and closed the book. When He comes again, He will, as it were, open the book where He left off.92a Meanwhile, His action was exclusively in grace. The Lord draws their particular attention to this; for when He returns the book to the officer who has it in charge, He sits down. People were all gazing at Him in wonder. He tells them, "Today this scripture is fulfilled in your ears."

But unbelief at once betrays itself. "Is not this the son of Joseph?" They could not deny the grace,93 but they contemn His person: "He was despised and rejected of men." In point of fact, unbelief is always blind; He was not Joseph's son, 94 except legally - He was God's Son. "And he said to them, Ye will surely say to me this parable, Physician, heal thyself: 95 whatsoever we have heard has taken place in* Capernaum, do here also in thine own country." His answer to their thought was, that "No prophet is acceptable in his [own] country."96 Nevertheless grace shines out all the more because Christ was rejected. It is remarkable that He does not vindicate Himself by power; He does not work any miracles to make good the rights of His own person, but appeals to the Word of God, the Old Testament Scriptures, for what suited the present time. "Of a truth, I say to you, there were many widows in Israel in the days of Elias, when the heaven was shut up three years and six months,97 so that a great famine came upon all the land; and to none of them was Elias sent, but to Sarepta of Sidon,† to a woman [that was] a widow." Grace, therefore, when Israel rejects (and they were doing so now), goes out to the Gentiles. Sidon was under the special judgment of God, and there was a widow there, reft of all human resources, and she was the one to whom God sent His prophet in the days of deep distress. When Israel themselves were suffering from a terrible famine, God opened stores for the desolate woman in Sidon. Thus grace goes outside His guilty people. So, too, in the time of Elisha the prophet. Many lepers were in Israel, "and none of them was cleansed, but Naaman the Syrian." Grace is sovereign, and in the days of Jewish unbelief Gentiles are blessed. This Scripture showed; and how beautiful this was and in keeping with Luke! It paves the way for the going forth of the Gospel. When Israel rejected the Lord Jesus, the grace of God must work among the Gentiles, among those who least expect and deserve mercy. How did the men of Nazareth relish this? They were "filled with rage, and rising up, they cast him forth out of the city, and led him up to the brow of the mountain upon which their city was built, so that they might‡ throw him down the precipice." This is the expression of the hatred which follows rejection of grace. When self-righteous men are convicted of wrong without feeling their guilt against God, there are no bounds to their resentment; and the enmity of their hearts is most of all against Jesus.

*T. R. for "in" has ἐν, with AE, etc., and most cursives. Edd. adopt εἰς, which may be "to" or "for" (R.V. "at"), but is probably a colloquial substitute for ἐν, as in verse 44. The critical text is that of BDL, 69.

†"Of Sidonia"; so ABCDL, etc., 1, 69, Old Lat., Memph. "Sidon" appears in EΔ, etc., Syrr.

‡"So that they might," as Edd. after BDL, etc., 1, 33, 69. Memph., in place of "in order to," the reading of AC, etc.

The result of the Lord's first appearance at Nazareth in the synagogue was that, though He Himself characterized His ministry from the Word of God, or rather the Spirit of God had already anticipated it as He then openly proclaimed it, as being the ministry of grace, by reading this scripture and declaring that it was that day fulfilled in their ears, man soon turns from it in anger and dislike. Attracted at first, he revolted from it afterwards, because grace both tells out the ruin of man, and always insists on going out wherever there is need and misery. Nevertheless, the Lord did not make it plainly known that grace should go out to the Gentiles till their rejection of Himself began to manifest itself. And now the same men who were so smitten with the charm of grace at first were ready to turn upon Him and cast Him down headlong from "the brow of the mountain upon which their city was built. But he, passing through the midst of them, went his way."98 His time was not yet come.

Luke 4: 31-37.99, 100.

Mark 1:21-28.

He "came down to Capernaum, a city of Galilee,101 and taught them on the Sabbaths. And they were astonished at his doctrine; for his word was with authority."102 This was what Jesus showed. It was not first miracles and then glory, but the truth of God. The Word, not a miracle, forms a connecting link between the soul and God; no miracle can do this - nothing but the Word of God. For the Word addresses itself to faith, while a miracle is done as a sign to unbelief. But as God produces faith by the Word, so He also nourishes it by the Word. This proves the immense value of the Word of God; and Christ's word was with authority.

"And there was in the synagogue a man having a spirit of an unclean demon."103 This is the first great work that is recorded in Luke. Our Lord seems already to have done mighty deeds in Capernaum (that is, in this very place) before He went to Nazareth: but Luke begins with Nazareth, in order to characterise His ministry by that wonderful description in the Word of God which opens out grace to man. Now we find Him in Capernaum, and the first miracle recorded of Him here, whilst He was teaching in the synagogue, was the cure of a man possessed with a spirit of an unclean demon which had the consciousness of the power of Jesus. For the demoniac cried out, "Eh! what have we to do with thee, Jesus, Nazarene?104 Hast thou come to destroy us? I know thee who thou art; the Holy [One] of God." It is remarkable here and elsewhere, the "I" and the "we" - the man himself, and yet the identification with the evil spirit. Moreover, this possessed man says, "I know thee who thou art; the Holy [One] of God." This appears to be the same character in which Psalm 89 speaks of Christ, where it says, "Jehovah is our shield; and the Holy One of Israel our King" (verse 18). It is a psalm full of interest because the Holy One there is the sole groundwork of the hopes of the people, as well as the stay of the house of David, otherwise ruined. It is just the same thing in our Gospel, save that Luke goes out more widely. The point of Psalm 89 is that every hope depends on Him. Israel have come to nothing; the glory has waned, and at length departed; the throne is cast down to the ground. But then He is the King, and therefore it is perfectly secured.

The shame of God's servants shall be removed, and their enemies shall surely be put to perpetual reproach, after the downfall of their pride, and all the painful discipline that the people of Israel shall pass through.

Here the unclean spirit prompts the man to acknowledge Jesus as this Holy One. But He refused such testimony; He did not even receive the witness of men, how much less of demons! "Jesus rebuked him, saying, Hold thy peace, and come out from him. And the demon, having thrown him down105 into the midst, came out from him without doing him any injury. And astonishment106 came upon all, and they spoke to one another, saying, What word [is] this! for with authority and power he commands the unclean spirits, and they come out. And a rumour went out into every place of the country round concerning him." He has thus shown that the power of Christ must first put down Satan (but not without a certain allowed humiliation for man); that this is the chief evil which pollutes and oppresses the world; and that until the day Satan's power is expelled it is no good to expect full deliverance. We must go to the source of the mischief. This, therefore, is the earliest of the miracles of Christ brought before us by Luke.107

Luke 4:38-44.

Matthew 8:14-17; Mark 1:29-39.

But then there is also compassion - deep and effectual pity for men. So our Lord, when He leaves the synagogue, goes into the house of Simon.108 "And Simon's wife's mother was suffering108a under a great109 fever, and they besought him for her. And, standing over her, he rebuked the fever, and it left her; and immediately standing up, she served them." Not only was there power to dismiss the disease with a word, but there was, contrary to all nature, strength communicated to her. A "great" fever leaves a person, even when it is gone, exceedingly weak, and a considerable time must elapse before usual vigour returns. But in this case, as the healing was the fruit of Divine power, Peter's wife's mother not only arose, but served them immediately.

The same evening, "when the sun went down, all they that had persons sick with divers diseases brought them to him; and having laid his hands on every one 110 of them, he healed them." It made no difference. It was not only that He could cure the fever, but He could cure everything. "He laid his hands on every one of them, and healed them." Another thing to be noticed is the manner of it, the tenderness of feeling - He laid His hands on them. This was in no way necessary; a word would have been enough, and the Lord often employed nothing more than a word. But here He shows His human compassion - He laid His hands upon them and healed them. Demons also came out of many, but we find Him here keeping up the testimony to man of the power that Satan had in the world. There are few things more injurious to men than forgetfulness of the power of Satan. At the present time there is exceeding unbelief on the subject. It is regarded as one of the obsolete delusions of the past. But we find most clearly demons going out of many, not in any one peculiar case, "crying out, and saying, Thou art the Son* of God." These acknowledge the Lord, not as the Holy One of Psalm 89, but as the Anointed One, the Son of God, of Psalm 2. He was the King of Israel in both cases. But the Lord accepted not their testimony in any instance. He really was the Holy One and the Son of God, but it was from God that He took His title, and recognition by the demons He refuses. "They knew that He was the Christ."111 What a solemn thing to find that man is even more obdurate than Satan! for the demons were more willing to acknowledge Jesus than the men even who were delivered here from the demons, and who were healed of all their diseases. Man for whom Jesus came! What a proof of the incurable unbelief of man, and the certain ruin of those who refuse the Son of God! Devils believe and tremble. Man, even when he does believe with his natural heart, does not tremble. He may believe, but he is insensible in his belief. Can such faith save him? The only faith that is good for anything is that which brings the sinner in his need and ruin before God, and which sees God in infinite mercy giving His Son to die for him. Anything short of this ends in destruction; and so far from natural faith bettering a man, it only brings out his evil, and turns to corruption the more speedily. It is a kind of complimenting the Son of God, instead of a lowly and a true owning of man's own condition and God's grace.

*"The Son": so Edd., after BCDLΞ, 33, Old Lat., Amiat., Memph., Arm. A and later uncials, as most cursives, Syrr. Aeth. Goth. add "the Christ" before "the Son."

But there is another thing which this chapter brings before us - namely, that our Lord departed112 when it was day "into a desert place; and the crowds sought after* him, and came up to him, and [would have] kept him back113 that he should not go from them. But he said to them, I must needs announce the glad tidings of the kingdom of God to the other cities also; for for this I have been† sent forth. And he was preaching in the synagogues of Galilee."‡114 The great object of the coming of Christ was to preach God's kingdom;115 it was bringing God and God's power before men - God's power visiting man in mercy. No healing of diseases or expulsion of demons could satisfy the Lord. And when He had by His miracles attracted attention in any place, it was the more reason for His going to another. He did not seek His own fame; another should come in his own name who would. But for our Lord Jesus to attract a name was a reason for departure, not for staying.

*"Sought after": so Edd., following ABCD, etc., 1, 33, 69. EG and some later uncials have simply "sought."

†"I have been [I was]": so ABCDLΧ, 1, 33, 69. AE and some later uncials have "I am."

‡"Galilee" (Cf. Mark 1:39): so Blass, with ADΧΓΑΠ, etc., Old Lat., Goth., Syrrpesch hcl. Other Edd. adopt "Judea," after BCLQR, a few cursives, Syrsin, Memph. See further in Appendix, note 114.

NOTES ON THE FOURTH CHAPTER.

80Luke 4:1-13. - The TEMPTATION.

"By the Spirit." Luke has ἐν τῳ πνεύματι (American Revv., "in the S."); Matthew, ὑπὸ τοῦ πνεύματος. Comparison of the Evangelists suffices for exclusion of any such idea as the Unitarian, that the Lord's own spirit alone is here meant, according to which the conflict must have been purely mental. "In the Spirit" means "in the power of." Cf. its use in 11: 15, and Weymouth there.

If there were no personal devil (verse 2), then our Lord would have been tempted from within (Norris); and this is what the suggestion comes to - made, amongst others, by J. Weiss (p. 51) - that it was a mere vision like that in Ezekiel 8:3, or Isa. 6, or 2 Corinthians 12:1-4. Cf. note on 22: 31.

There are three sermons on this subject by Adolphe Monod, and an "Exposition" by Maclaren (vol. i., pp. 78-85).

81Luke 4:3. - Note the order: Body, Mind, Spirit (most subtle). Edersheim records the then popular notion that Messiah would feed His people, as Moses did, with manna. Cf. the miraculous feeding of thousands, with Psalm 103:5, Psalm 105:40, Psalm 132:15, each time of Jehovah.

81a Luke 4:4 ff. - Luke's, as compared with Matthew's, statement shows abbreviated quotation of Deuteronomy 8:3.

Dr. Arnold preached from verse 4, on Fasting.

With verse 5 f., cf. John 8:44, 2 Thessalonians 2:11.

82Luke 4:6. - Cf. John 12:31, John 14:30; Revelation 12:3.

83Luke 4:7 f. - The difference of order (see note 81) from that in Matthew, Zahn would explain by supposing that what JESUS told His disciples about it they repeated differently from memory ("Introduction," ii., 403 f., German); but such an exposition as W. Kelly's is more in accordance with the inspiration of the Evangelist. Zahn shares Alford's idea that Luke could not have had Matthew's account before him.

"It is written." Bettex sententiously remarks, "Satan is silent. For him there is no Biblical criticism" ("The Book of Truth," p. 125).

84Luke 4:9. - "Jerusalem" represents Matthew's "holy city," in keeping with the distinction (B. Weiss) between our Evangelist's use in the original Greek (e.g., at Luke 1:22), cf. Hierosolyma and Jerusalem. Ramsay's discrimination of "geographical" and "hieratical" (as here) would render a reference to "different sources" (Weiss) quite needless.

85 "Edge," πτερύγιον, a word common to both Evangelists recording this, and at the same time peculiar. Weiss deems conclusive for his theory of a common source ("Sources of Luke's Gospel," p. 100).

Norris: "Faith allied to self-will passes into presumptuous fanaticism."

86Luke 4:13. - "Season." Wesley (as the Expositor) takes this as referable to the scene in Gethsemane (Luke 22:53). The other view, according to which our Lord was more or less subject to Satan's subtle enmity in this way throughout has been based on Luke 22:28. But indeed the form of the Greek, "every temptation," shows that no form of testing set forth in 1 John 2:16 can be excluded. Cf. John 6:15, Mark 8:11, Matthew 16:23.

As to the Lord's incapacity for sin, see Trench, "Studies in the Gospels," p. 28.

For the Buddhist parallel adduced (as by Pfleiderer, "Early Conception, etc.," pp. 51-53), see "Sacred Books of the East," iv. p. 204.

A difficulty is sometimes raised about no one having witnessed this scene. There is none, however, in supposing that the Lord communicated it to His disciples, if not during the Ministry (Garvie suggests, at Caesarea Philippi), at least during the forty days before His Ascension.

Sermons on the Temptation have been preached by, amongst others, Luther (p. 299), Bishop Andrewes (series of seven), and G. Whitefield.

Between this and the next verse a place may be found for events recorded in John 1: 19 - 4: 42, in the interval, that is, between the Temptation and the Galilean ministry of Mark's framework. This would seem to have embraced a visit to Galilee before the imprisonment of the Baptist, and a return to Judea for ministry there, with (Briggs suggests, p. 4) the sons of Zebedee.

87Luke 4:14 f. - Reference may be made here to Farrar on "Jesus as He lived in Galilee," "Life of Christ," chapter xxii.; and for Synagogues, to Edersheim, "Jewish Social Life," chapter xvi. f.

As Stock says, it is not likely that any of the teaching (cf. verse 31) here referred to preceded that at Nazareth (verse 16 ff.). He helpfully compares Matthew 4:13 (p. 70).

88Luke 4:16-30. - Upon the question whether Christ was twice rejected at Nazareth, consult Rush Rhees, p. 292 f.

89Luke 4:17. - This affords illustration of the Lord's familiarity, by training, with the Hebrew Scriptures. Synagogue rolls were not in Aramaic. A Haftara, or section of the Prophets, was read on Sabbath after the reading of the Law.

90Luke 4:18. - The quotation is made up of Isa. 61 and 58: 6.

"Anointed," see Zechariah 4:6; Zec 4:14. "Thus early did He claim to be Messiah" (Stalker, p. 131). Prophecy prepared men for a Messiah working miracles, cf. Luke 11:20.

Henry Venn preached from verse 18 f., on "The Work of Christ."

91Luke 4:19. - "Acceptable year of [the] LORD," cf. 2 Corinthians 6:2. As to the break between the "acceptable year" and the "day of vengeance" in Isaiah 61:2, see note below on Luke 21:25.

A question that has been discussed since the Patristic period is, Of what duration was our Lord's ministry? The present, verse was of old supposed to indicate that the Synoptic ministry lasted only one year.

The Synoptists nowhere say that the ministry extended over only a single year. On the other hand, when Jülicher says that it is "childish" to use 13: 7 of this Gospel in support of a three years' ministry, it would be none the less so to understand the present passage as so limiting it. By comparison of the third and the last Gospels, we may venture to say that the

First Passover (John 2:13) synchronizes with Luke 4:13, A.D. 26-27

Second Passover (John 5:1) synchronizes with Luke 5. A.D. 27-28

Third Passover (John 6:4) synchronizes with Luke 9. A.D. 28-29

Origen, Jerome, and Augustine, allowing for a Fourth Passover in John's Gospel (cf. note 53 on John), concluded that the period was from three years to three years and a half. Turner (art. "Chronology of the New Testament" in Hastings' "Dict. of the Bible") makes it "between two and three years."

Blass has observed that Mark (Peter) would not so readily report in Jerusalem what had happened there, as that which the Jerusalemites could not know. Similarly Matthew, and also Luke if he composed any part of his Gospel in Judea. With reference to Luke 13:34, the Halle Professor has written: "It is John who first clears up the passage and justifies it" (Expository Times, July, 1907). Luther and Lightfoot had already made use of it.

92Luke 4:21. - Here is the Lord's first direct statement to Israelites of His Messianic claims: cf. John 4:26. See Whyte, "Walk, Conversation, and Character of Jesus Christ our Lord," chapter x.; "Our Lord's First Text"; also chapter xxix., "Our Lord and the Bible." Frennsen, a recent German revolutionary writer, has made use of this passage of Luke in his "Holy Land," chapter xxvi. (E. T., p. 315). C. Kingsley's sermon, "The Message of the Church to Labouring Men" is from this passage.

92a Cf. Rev. 5, 6.

93Luke 4:22. - "Words of grace," cf. Psalm 45:2. Westcott "To substitute gracious words [A.V.] would be to obscure the truth" ("Some Lessons, etc.," p. 33): cf. Acts 14:3; Acts 20:32.

94 "Joseph's son." Mark, although reliance is placed on Mark 6:3 for modern denial of the Virgin Birth (cf. note 57 on Mark, note 30 above, and see Wright, "Introduction to Synopsis, etc.," p. xli.), speaks of the "carpenter, the Son of Mary," whilst Luke, who is discredited when he records it as a miraculous event, in his parallel to Mark has the above description. It would be absurd to have to suppose that Joseph is regarded as dead at the point of the narrative of the one Evangelist, but still alive by the other. Again, it is in Luke that we meet with "His parents" and "Thy father." Accordingly, critics can but conceive editorial variations in each Gospel, all of which suggestions (e.g., Wright's "Trito-Mark") must be taken for what they are worth. Anything like proof in the sense of our English High Court of Justice (see note 56 on Mark, ad fin.) is rare indeed.

95Luke 4:23. - For this proverb ("parable "), see Talmud, "Bereshith Rabba," sect. 23. It is still current amongst Jews in the form "He is a physician for others, not for Himself."

"Capernaum." It would not require the training of a critic to see that, from the reference to great deeds there, this section is out of chronological order.

96Luke 4:24. - There is a clear instance of our Lord's repeated use of the same proverb: see John 4:44.

"Our country." Cf. Matthew 19:1, and see note on Luke 2:3 above.

97Luke 4:25. - "Three years and six months," as in Jam 5:17: cf. 1 Kings 18:1. The period of drought may have been so stated according to a symbol of misfortune (Daniel 12:7); so De Wette, followed by Weiss.

98Luke 4:30. - Here is another link with the Gospel of John (John 9: 59).

99Luke 4:31-37. - From here to 6: 16, Luke's account is in close touch with that of Mark: see Harnack's "Luke the Physician," p. 87 ff.

100 Marcion's recension of Luke begins here. He passed over the Baptist as one belonging to the Old Dispensation. Marcion may be regarded as the first Biblical critic (Harnack, "History of Dogma," pp. 237-240; cf. Bebb, art. in Hastings' "Dict. of Bible," and Burkitt, chapter ix.). What we know of him, (cf. notes 14, 17, above) comes chiefly from Tertullian, Adv. Marc. v., and Epiphanius, Haer. xlii. Irenaeus says that he "mutilated the Scriptures . . curtailing the Gospel according to Luke and the Epistles of Paul" (iii. 12, 12). Semler suggested that our Gospel and Marcion's were compiled from the same original source; and after his time arose the idea that the Gospel according to Luke was an expansion of that used by Marcion; but critics seem now all to have returned to the old view. The passages omitted by this Gnostic are enumerated in Gloag's work.

Marcion's system was strongly Anti-Jewish; he questioned our Lord's speaking as in Matthew 5:17 (Tertullian, Adv. Marc. iv. 7, v. 14; but cf. Luke 16:17). The third Gospel was the only one that he seems to have recognized; and the use which he made in connection with it of some of the Pauline Epistles, may have sustained the impression that there is a strong Pauline cast upon Luke's record. See Godet, "New Testament Studies," p. 44. This Pauline colouring has been specially investigated by Resch in vol. xii. (1904) of the New Series of Monographs edited by Gebhardt and Harnack (see in particular p. 571 ff. of his Dissertation). Cf. Swete, "St. Paul assimilated that side of our Lord's teaching which this Gospel has specially preserved" (" Studies in the Teaching of our Lord," p. 119). It is generally admitted that there are passages in LUKE alien to parts of the Epistles, e.g., Luke 12:35 compared with Ephesians 6:14; Luke 18:1 with 2 Thessalonians 1:11; Luke 21:34 with 1 Thessalonians 5:3; Luke 24:34 with 1 Corinthians 15:5; whilst Luke 21 may be read throughout alongside of 1 Thess. 5. As for Luke 10:7 (cf. 1 Timothy 5:18 and 1 Corinthians 9:14) see note there. The Expositor, it will be seen, compares Luke's Gospel with the Epistle to the Romans.

The attempt of H. H. Evans to establish Paul's authorship of this Gospel and of the Book of Acts (1884), although it has been commended by some German writers, seems to have attracted little attention in this country. Evans brought out the interesting fact that of 1750 words peculiar to LUKE amongst the Evangelists, one-half are found in Paul's Epistles; also that 250 words occurring in both this Gospel and the Acts are not to be found elsewhere in the New Testament outside the Apostle's writings (p. 20 f.; cf. note 29 above).

The interest of this subject now lies in its connection with the cry "Back to Christ!" expressed by Carpenter as "transfer of the centre of interest from Paul to Christ" ("The Bible in the Nineteenth Century," p. 341) as if the Reformers were not radical enough in contenting themselves with recovery of Pauline truth (and that, as the Expositor would have said, to a very limited extent). It is true that our Lord's teaching was "the word of the beginning of the Christ" (Hebrews 6:1), and that Luke "had in mind the Lord Jesus Christ as the risen Saviour" (Bruce, Introduction to "Expositor's Greek Testament," i.); but, as Fairbairn has said, "What gives to the Gospels their peculiar significance is that they are lives of Jesus by men who believed that Christ had created Christianity. The struggle of the modern spirit is to get behind the faith of the Evangelists and read the history they wrote with the vision they had before their eyes were opened" ("Philosophy of the Christian Religion," p. 306); cf. note 30, ad. fin. (Wellhausen).

101 "Capernaum," cf. note on verse 23. See Delitzsch, "A Day in Capernaum." Matthew 4:13 tells us that it became the Lord's place of residence, so far as He had one, in Galilee. Cf. note 22 on Mark ("His own city").

102Luke 4:32. - Cf. 1 Corinthians 1:18, and note on Mark 1:22, besides that on Luke 5:17 below.

103Luke 4:33. - "Spirit of unclean demon", cf. Luke 6:18; Luke 11:24, "unclean spirit." Lightfoot (Horae Hebr., on Luke 13:11, "spirit of infirmity") records a distinction made between spirits causing disease and "evil spirits," occupied with sorcery and accordingly called "unclean." Probably Luke's "unclean" was adapted to Gentile thought, for that recognized a distinction between good and bad "demons." Zechariah 13:2 and Revelation 16:13 f. show the connection of unclean spirits with false prophets.

Renan speaks of the wilderness as "haunted according to popular belief by demons." Cf., however, Maurice, "Not in deserts, but in places of concourse, in the synagogues we hear of them." "Let us fly from superstitions", says the critic. "We do not hear less of spirits . . . in this day than in former days. I do not perceive that even scientific men can point to deliverance from a superstition . . . not a few succumb," etc. (p. 62 ff.). A notable instance was Lord Herbert of Cherbury, a deistical apostle of "the philosophy of common sense" who looked for a sign if he was to publish his "Tractatus de Veritate." of course, he heard a sound from heaven such as he desired.

104Luke 4:34. - "Nazarene," see note on John 18:5. "Matthew," writes Weiss, "always has Nazarean, Luke nearly always has Nazarene" ("Sources of Luke's Gospel," p. 12).

105Luke 4:35. - "Having thrown him down." This does not conflict with Mark's tearing him; the convulsions left no evil effect (Darby-Smith).

106Luke 4:36. - The word θάυβος is peculiar to Luke (5: 9; Acts 3:10 "Wonder").

107Luke 4:37. - This miracle is one of the seven performed on Sabbaths, the rest of which are - in verse 38 here, Luke 6:6 ff., Luke 13:10 ff., Luke 14:1, and two in John (John 5:9 ff., and John 9:1 ff.).

The temper of our age is, of course, adverse to MIRACLE. No "intelligent man" is expected any longer to rest the truth of Christianity at all upon operation in times past of "the powers of the age to come," at the dawn of which Christ's words in 18: 8 of this Gospel will have their application. We may not be far off that time now. The American Professor Foster writes: "An intelligent man who now affirms his faith in miraculous narratives like the Biblical, can hardly know what intellectual honesty means" (p. 132). But do not sensible men in all countries correct their logic by their experience? Cf. Kaftan, "The Truth of the Christian Religion," vol. ii., p. 130 f.; also Orr, "The Bible under Trial," p. 152. Indeed, Ritschl, with all his dislike of metaphysics, has said: "Every one will meet the miraculous in his own experience" ("Instruction in the Christian Religion," p. 189, note. Cf. Wesley's note on Mark 16:18; it seems to have been derived from Bengel's Gnomon, "Even at this day in every believer faith has a latent miraculous power." Those who imagine that belief in miracle is not essential to Christianity, if consistent, must surrender prayer in the Christian sense. Huxley has amended Hume's argument upon miracles, which in his revised form - consonant with the views of J. S. Mill - makes it all a question of evidence, whilst it is by the aid of Hume's own philosophy that Fairbairn has criticized the eighteenth century writer's treatment of the subject ("Philosophy of the Christian Religion," p. 25 ff.).

Harnack, in an unwonted manner, goes almost into rhapsody over the sure ground afforded by agreement of "Q" with Mark ("Sayings," p. 249). It is certain that "Q," if ever it existed, harmonized with the same canonical Gospel as regards the large amount of Christ's "supernatural energy" - this is generally conceded.

A medical writer in the Hibbert Journal (April, 1907) has confessed that many of the disorders recorded could not have been cured by moral therapeutics (auto-suggestion).

The Biblical miracles seem to have closed with the incidents of the last chapter of the Acts, when Paul definitely gave up his testimony to the Jews, for whom they were intended (cf. 1 Corinthians 1:22), in fulfilment of Isaiah. Contrast the case of Epaphroditus (Php 2:25 ff.): "Why did not the Apostle heal him?" (Cf. Sir R. Anderson, "The Silence of God," p. 57 f.)

Besides Butler's "Analogy," part ii., chapters ii., vii., in this connection, the following recent literature well repays consultation: - Mozley's Bampton Lectures (6th ed., 1883), Westcott's "Gospel of Life" (chapter vii.), Sanday's "The Life of Christ in Recent Research" (section viii.), Boyd Kinnear's "The Foundation of Religion" (chapter x.), Dr. Jas. Drummond's "The Miraculous in Christianity" - candid like all that he writes - Bettex's "Modern Science and Christianity" (E. T., 1903), pp. 162-185; and not least Dr. L. von Gerdtell's pamphlet on "Miracles before the Forum of Modern Thought" (still only in German; see note 52 on John and the Christian of 12th Oct., 1911, p. 17). For the connection of the transcendent character of JESUS with His miracles, see Rush Rhees, pp. 249-269.

An extract from Illingworth may close this note: "Miracles flow naturally from a Person . . . at home in two worlds. . . . We cannot separate the wonderful life, or the wonderful teaching, from the wonderful works. They involve and interpenetrate and presuppose each other" ("Divine Immanence," p. 90).

There is a classification of the Lucan Miracles in Westcott "Introduction to the Study of the Gospels," p. 392 f. See further, notes 27 and 58 on Mark.

108Luke 4:38. - Another illustration (cf. note on verse 23) of Luke's non-chronological order; nothing hitherto has been said about Simon, who is introduced abruptly.

108a Luke 4:39. - For the compound imperfect in the Greek, cf. verse 44 and Luke 5:16 f. See also note 108 on Mark.

109 An instance of the Evangelist's special medical knowledge (cf. note 2). "Great fever" decribes typhus. See again Luke 8:41, etc.

110Luke 4:40. - Cf. Mark 1:32, where critics pounce upon "many" as if improved upon here by "all," "every one." Mark may mean "many they were that," etc., in the modern manner.

111Luke 4:41. - Here is the point of contact with the other Synoptists.

112Luke 4:42. - "Coming out" is understood by De Wette as from Capernaum,

113 Note the imperfect tense: "Would have kept - were for keeping - Him back."

114Luke 4:43 f. - The reading "Judea." Godet has remarked that this "neutral" reading should have been a lesson to Westcott and Hort. If it be accepted, it must mean the whole land, as in Luke 1:51 (see note there). For the ministry in Judea proper, cf. Luke 13:34, Luke 19:31, Luke 22:14, Acts 2:9, Acts 10:37.

115 As to the "Kingdom of God," regarded by Ritschlians as the centre of Christ's teaching, see note 21 on Mark, and cf. notes below on Luke 12:31, Luke 17:20 f., and Luke 19:12.

Some conceive that verse 43 marks the end of a section in one of Luke's sources (Zahn, p. 373).

Being forty days tempted of the devil. And in those days he did eat nothing: and when they were ended, he afterward hungered.
And the devil said unto him, If thou be the Son of God, command this stone that it be made bread.
And Jesus answered him, saying, It is written, That man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God.
And the devil, taking him up into an high mountain, shewed unto him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time.
And the devil said unto him, All this power will I give thee, and the glory of them: for that is delivered unto me; and to whomsoever I will I give it.
If thou therefore wilt worship me, all shall be thine.
And Jesus answered and said unto him, Get thee behind me, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.
And he brought him to Jerusalem, and set him on a pinnacle of the temple, and said unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down from hence:
For it is written, He shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee:
And in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone.
And Jesus answering said unto him, It is said, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.
And when the devil had ended all the temptation, he departed from him for a season.
And Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit into Galilee: and there went out a fame of him through all the region round about.
And he taught in their synagogues, being glorified of all.
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.
And there was delivered unto him the book of the prophet Esaias. And when he had opened the book, he found the place where it was written,
The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised,
To preach the acceptable year of the Lord.
And he closed the book, and he gave it again to the minister, and sat down. And the eyes of all them that were in the synagogue were fastened on him.
And he began to say unto them, This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears.
And all bare him witness, and wondered at the gracious words which proceeded out of his mouth. And they said, Is not this Joseph's son?
And he said unto them, Ye will surely say unto me this proverb, Physician, heal thyself: whatsoever we have heard done in Capernaum, do also here in thy country.
And he said, Verily I say unto you, No prophet is accepted in his own country.
But I tell you of a truth, many widows were in Israel in the days of Elias, when the heaven was shut up three years and six months, when great famine was throughout all the land;
But unto none of them was Elias sent, save unto Sarepta, a city of Sidon, unto a woman that was a widow.
And many lepers were in Israel in the time of Eliseus the prophet; and none of them was cleansed, saving Naaman the Syrian.
And all they in the synagogue, when they heard these things, were filled with wrath,
And rose up, and thrust him out of the city, and led him unto the brow of the hill whereon their city was built, that they might cast him down headlong.
But he passing through the midst of them went his way,
And came down to Capernaum, a city of Galilee, and taught them on the sabbath days.
And they were astonished at his doctrine: for his word was with power.
And in the synagogue there was a man, which had a spirit of an unclean devil, and cried out with a loud voice,
Saying, Let us alone; what have we to do with thee, thou Jesus of Nazareth? art thou come to destroy us? I know thee who thou art; the Holy One of God.
And Jesus rebuked him, saying, Hold thy peace, and come out of him. And when the devil had thrown him in the midst, he came out of him, and hurt him not.
And they were all amazed, and spake among themselves, saying, What a word is this! for with authority and power he commandeth the unclean spirits, and they come out.
And the fame of him went out into every place of the country round about.
And he arose out of the synagogue, and entered into Simon's house. And Simon's wife's mother was taken with a great fever; and they besought him for her.
And he stood over her, and rebuked the fever; and it left her: and immediately she arose and ministered unto them.
Now when the sun was setting, all they that had any sick with divers diseases brought them unto him; and he laid his hands on every one of them, and healed them.
And devils also came out of many, crying out, and saying, Thou art Christ the Son of God. And he rebuking them suffered them not to speak: for they knew that he was Christ.
And when it was day, he departed and went into a desert place: and the people sought him, and came unto him, and stayed him, that he should not depart from them.
And he said unto them, I must preach the kingdom of God to other cities also: for therefore am I sent.
And he preached in the synagogues of Galilee.
Kelly Commentary on Books of the Bible

Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.

Bible Hub
Luke 3
Top of Page
Top of Page