Luke 1:17
And he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elias, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.
Jump to: AlfordBarnesBengelBensonBICalvinCambridgeClarkeDarbyEllicottExpositor'sExp DctExp GrkGaebeleinGSBGillGrayGuzikHaydockHastingsHomileticsICCJFBKellyKingLangeMacLarenMHCMHCWMeyerParkerPNTPoolePulpitSermonSCOTTBVWSWESTSK
(17) To the wisdom of the just.—The margin, by the wisdom, is undoubtedly the right rendering.

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

1:5-25 The father and mother of John the Baptist were sinners as all are, and were justified and saved in the same way as others; but they were eminent for piety and integrity. They had no children, and it could not be expected that Elisabeth should have any in her old age. While Zacharias was burning incense in the temple, the whole multitude of the people were praying without. All the prayers we offer up to God, are acceptable and successful only by Christ's intercession in the temple of God above. We cannot expect an interest therein if we do not pray, and pray with our spirits, and are not earnest in prayer. Nor can we expect that the best of our prayers should gain acceptance, and bring an answer of peace, but through the mediation of Christ, who ever lives, making intercession. The prayers Zacharias often made, received an answer of peace. Prayers of faith are filed in heaven, and are not forgotten. Prayers made when we were young and entering into the world, may be answered when we are old and going out of the world. Mercies are doubly sweet that are given in answer to prayer. Zacharias shall have a son in his old age, who shall be instrumental in the conversion of many souls to God, and preparing them to receive the gospel of Christ. He shall go before Him with courage, zeal, holiness, and a mind dead to earthly interests and pleasures. The disobedient and rebellious would be brought back to the wisdom of their righteous forefathers, or rather, brought to attend to the wisdom of that Just One who was coming among them. Zacharias heard all that the angel said; but his unbelief spake. In striking him dumb, God dealt justly with him, because he had objected against God's word. We may admire the patience of God towards us. God dealt kindly with him, for thus he prevented his speaking any more distrustful, unbelieving words. Thus also God confirmed his faith. If by the rebukes we are under for our sin, we are brought to give the more credit to the word of God, we have no reason to complain. Even real believers are apt to dishonour God by unbelief; and their mouths are stopped in silence and confusion, when otherwise they would have been praising God with joy and gratitude. In God's gracious dealings with us we ought to observe his gracious regards to us. He has looked on us with compassion and favour, and therefore has thus dealt with us.Shall go before him - Before the Messiah. The connection here leads us to suppose that the word "him" refers to the "Lord their God" in the previous verse. If so, then it will follow that the Messiah was the Lord God of Israel - a character abundantly given him in other parts of the New Testament.

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

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

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

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

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

in the spirit—after the model.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ready a people prepared for the Lord.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(u) Misn. Ediot, c. 8. sect. 7.

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

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

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

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

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

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

17. And he shall go before him] Shall go before the Messiah. The English version should have added, “in His (God’s) presence” (ἐνώπιον αὐτοῦ).

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

to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children] Rather, of fathers to children; i. e. as in the original meaning of Malachi, to remedy disunion and restore family life.

to the wisdom] Rather, in or by the wisdom.

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

Verse 17. - In the spirit and power of Elias. There was a confident hope among the Jews, dating frown the days of the prophecy of Malachi, some four hundred years before the vision of Zacharias, that the days of Messiah would be heralded by an appearance of the Prophet Elijah. The selfsame expectation is still cherished by every pious Jew. To turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just. The usual explanation of these words of the angel, who uses here the language of Malachi (Malachi 4:5, 6), is that the result of the preaching of this new prophet, who is about to be raised up, will be to restore harmony to the broken and disturbed family life of Israel, whereas now the home life of the chosen race was split up - the fathers, perhaps, siding with the foreign or Roman faction, as represented by Herod and his friends; the sons, on the other hand, being Zealots attached to the national party, bitterly hostile to the Herodians. So also in one house some would belong to the Pharisee, others to the Sadducee, sect. These fatal divisions would, in many cases, be healed by the influence of the coming one. There is, however, another interpretation far deeper and more satisfactory; for nothing in the preaching of the Baptist, as far as we are aware, bore specially on the domestic dissensions of the people; it had a much wider range. The true sense of the angel's words here should be gathered from prophetic passages such as Isaiah 29:22, 23, "Jacob shall no more be ashamed, neither shall his face wax pale, when he seeth (בִרְאֹתו כִּי) his children become the work of my hands;" Isaiah 63:16, "Doubtless thou art our Father, though Abraham be ignorant of us, and Israel acknowledge us not: thou, O Lord, art our Father, our Redeemer!" -The patriarchs, the fathers of Israel, beholding from their abodes of rest the works and days of their degenerate children, mourned over their fall, and, to use earthly language, "were ashamed" of the conduct of their unworthy descendants. These would be glad and rejoice over the result of the preaching of the coming prophet. Godct well sums up the angel's words: "It will be John's mission then to reconstitute the moral unity of the people by restoring the broken relation between the patriarchs and their degenerate descendants." Luke 1:17Wisdom (φρονήσει)

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

Prepared (κατασκευασμένον)

Adjusted, disposed, placed in the right moral state.

Luke 1:17 Interlinear
Luke 1:17 Parallel Texts

Luke 1:17 NIV
Luke 1:17 NLT
Luke 1:17 ESV
Luke 1:17 NASB
Luke 1:17 KJV

Luke 1:17 Bible Apps
Luke 1:17 Parallel
Luke 1:17 Biblia Paralela
Luke 1:17 Chinese Bible
Luke 1:17 French Bible
Luke 1:17 German Bible

Bible Hub

Luke 1:16
Top of Page
Top of Page