Luke 3:4
As it is written in the book of the words of Esaias the prophet, saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.
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(4) The voice of one crying in the wilderness.—See Note on Matthew 3:3.

(4) From David to Abraham there is a general agreement, the only variation being that, in some MSS., the names of Arni and Admei in St. Luke (Luke 3:33) replace the Aram of St. Matthew.

(4) The comparative slight variation here is such as may easily have arisen in the process of transcription from an Aramaic document into Greek. The received reading, “Aram,” was probably a correction in order to bring the genealogy into agreement with St. Matthew’s.

3:1-14 The scope and design of John's ministry were, to bring the people from their sins, and to their Saviour. He came preaching, not a sect, or party, but a profession; the sign or ceremony was washing with water. By the words here used John preached the necessity of repentance, in order to the remission of sins, and that the baptism of water was an outward sign of that inward cleansing and renewal of heart, which attend, or are the effects of true repentance, as well as a profession of it. Here is the fulfilling of the Scriptures, Isa 40:3, in the ministry of John. When way is made for the gospel into the heart, by taking down high thoughts, and bringing them into obedience to Christ, by levelling the soul, and removing all that hinders us in the way of Christ and his grace, then preparation is made to welcome the salvation of God. Here are general warnings and exhortations which John gave. The guilty, corrupted race of mankind is become a generation of vipers; hateful to God, and hating one another. There is no way of fleeing from the wrath to come, but by repentance; and by the change of our way the change of our mind must be shown. If we are not really holy, both in heart and life, our profession of religion and relation to God and his church, will stand us in no stead at all; the sorer will our destruction be, if we do not bring forth fruits meet for repentance. John the Baptist gave instructions to several sorts of persons. Those that profess and promise repentance, must show it by reformation, according to their places and conditions. The gospel requires mercy, not sacrifice; and its design is, to engage us to do all the good we can, and to be just to all men. And the same principle which leads men to forego unjust gain, leads to restore that which is gained by wrong. John tells the soldiers their duty. Men should be cautioned against the temptations of their employments. These answers declared the present duty of the inquirers, and at once formed a test of their sincerity. As none can or will accept Christ's salvation without true repentance, so the evidence and effects of this repentance are here marked out.On the baptism of John - see the notes at Matthew 3. 2. Annas and Caiaphas … high priests—the former, though deposed, retained much of his influence, and, probably, as sagan or deputy, exercised much of the power of the high priesthood along with Caiaphas (Joh 18:13; Ac 4:6). Both Zadok and Abiathar acted as high priests in David's time (2Sa 15:35), and it seems to have become the fixed practice to have two (2Ki 25:18). (Also see on [1547]Mt 3:1.)

word of God came unto John—Such formulas, of course, are never used when speaking of Jesus, because the divine nature manifested itself in Him not at certain isolated moments of His life. He was the one everlasting manifestation of the Godhead—The Word [Olshausen].

Ver. 4-6. All four of the evangelists apply that prophecy, Isaiah 40:3-5, to John the Baptist. Luke only repeats what is Luke 3:5,6 and in Isaiah 40:4,5, and he doth but shortly repeat what is in the prophet, Luke 3:5; the prophet saith, And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together: for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it. But there is nothing more usual than for the writers in the New Testament, in their quotations out of the Old Testament, to repeat the sum of the sense, not the words strictly. For the understanding of that prophecy, we must know, that there the prophet Isaiah was sent to comfort those amongst the Jews who feared God, partly with the assurance of them that they should return from Babylon, their warfare should have an end, Cyrus should deliver them; partly with the assurance of them of a far greater deliverance, in and by the coming of the Messiah (of whom Cyrus was but a type): to this purpose the prophet sets out both Cyrus, and in that type Christ’s coming, as if both were present and at hand. Kings and great princes coming (especially with armies) have usually some coming before them, as pioneers, to prepare their way, by levelling rough places, and removing whatsoever is in the way of their motions, and filling up holes and ditches, &c.; nor are they far off when once their harbingers and pioneers are arrived, or are seen coming. John is here set out as a harbinger to Christ, to prepare his way, or a pioneer, to fill up ditches, throw down hills, to make rough ways smooth, and every way to prepare the way for him: that all flesh might see the salvation of God. And as princes that have wildernesses to pass through have more need of their pioneers to prepare and smooth their ways; so the state of the Jews being now confused, as a wilderness, and corrupt above measure, John the Baptist was sent before to cry in the wilderness, &c. This I take to be the true sense of the prophecy, and that it is mighty vain to strain these metaphorical phrases, and inquire what is meant by valleys, mountains, and crooked ways; they all most certainly signify the same thing, viz. whatsoever might be a hinderance to people’s receiving of Christ; and to philosophize further about them, is but to show the luxury of our wit, rather than any solidity of judgment. The whole scope of these three verses is but to show, that as kings, and princes, and governors of armies, have used to have harbingers and pioneers, or other officers, to go before them, to remove things out of the way of them and their retinue, and to prepare their way; so had Christ, and John the Baptist was the man whom the Lord pitched upon for that purpose, by his preaching to bring men to it sense of their sins, and off from their wicked courses, and to show them their need of a Saviour; that so when Christ came himself forth to preach, people might not be wholly ignorant, but in some measure prepared to receive the joyful tidings of the gospel, which he brought unto them.

As it is written in the book of the words of Esaias the prophet,.... Isaiah 40:3

saying, the voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord make his paths straight; See Gill on Matthew 3:3.

As it is written in the book of the words of Esaias the prophet, saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.
Luke 3:4-6. See on Matthew 3:3. Luke continues the quotation of Isaiah 40:3 down to the end of Luke 3:5, following the LXX. freely. The appeal to this prophetic oracle was one of the commonplaces of the evangelic tradition in respect of the history of John, and betokens therefore, even in Luke, no special source; he only gives it—unless a Pauline purpose is to be attributed to his words (Holtzmann)—more fully than Matthew, Mark, and John (Luke 1:23).

In ὡς γέγραπται the same thing is implied that Matthew expresses by οὗτος γάρ ἐστιν ὁ ῥηθείς.

φάραγξ] Ravine, Thuc. ii. 67. 4; Dem. 793. 6; Polyb. vii. 15. 8; Jdt 2:8. This and the following particulars were types of the moral obstacles which were to be removed by the repentance demanded by John for the restoration of the people well prepared for the reception of the Messiah (Luke 1:17). There is much arbitrary trifling on the part of the Fathers and others in interpreting[71] the particulars of this passage.

The futures are not imperative in force, but declare what will happen in consequence of the command, ἑτοιμάσατε κ.τ.λ. Καὶ ὄψεται κ.τ.λ. ought to have guarded against the taking the expressions imperatively.

On the use of the Cyrenaic (Herod. iv. 199) word ΒΟΥΝΌς, hill, in Greek, see Schweighäuser, Lex. Herod. I. p. 125 f.; Sturz, Dial. Al. p. 154; Lobeck, ad Phryn. p. 356.

εἰς εὐθεῖαν] scil. ὁδόν. See Lobeck, Paralip. p. 363; Winer, p. 521 [E. T. 738 f.].

αἱ τραχεῖαι] scil. ὁδοί, from what follows, the rough, uneven ways.

λείας] smooth. Comp. Xen. Mem. iii. 10. 1 : τὰ τραχέα καὶ τὰ λεῖα.

τὸ σωτήρ. τ. Θεοῦ] See on Luke 2:30. It is an addition of the LXX. The salvation of God is the Messianic salvation which will appear in and with the advent of the Messiah before all eyes (ὄψεται πᾶσα σάρξ). As to ΠᾶΣΑ ΣΆΡΞ, all flesh, designating men according to their need of deliverance, and pointing to the universal destination of God’s salvation, see on Acts 2:16.

[71] Well says Grotius: “Nimirum est anxia eorum περιεργία, qui in dictis ἀλληγορουμένοις singulas partes minutatim excutiunt … cum satis sit in re tota comparationem intelligi.”

Luke 3:4. βίβλῳ λόγων: Lk. has his own way of introducing the prophetic citation (“in the book of the words”), as he also follows his own course as to the words quoted. Whereas Mt. and Mk. are content to cite just so much as suffices to set forth the general idea of preparing the way of the Lord, Lk. quotes in continuation the words which describe pictorially the process of preparation (Luke 3:5), also those which describe the grand result: all mankind experiencing the saving grace of God (Luke 3:6). The universalistic bias appears here again.

4. Esaias the prophet] Isaiah 40:3.

saying] This word should be omitted with א, B, D, L, &c.

The voice] Rather, A voice. The Hebrew original may be rendered “Hark one crieth.”

of one crying in the wilderness] Hence comes the common expression for hopeless warnings, vox clamantis in deserto. Probably, however, the “in the wilderness” should be attached to the words uttered by the voice, as is required by the parallelism of Hebrew poetry:

“Prepare ye in the wilderness a way for Jehovah,

Lay even in the desert a highway for our God.”

The wilderness is metaphorically the barren waste of the Jewish life in that day (Isaiah 35:1).

the way of the Lord] Comp. Isaiah 35:8-10, “And a highway shall be there, and a way, and it shall be called the way of holiness: the unclean shall not pass over it … And the ransomed of the Lord shall return, and come to Zion.”

Luke 3:4. Ὡς, even as) Repentance is described in Luke 3:4-5, remission of sins is implied in Luke 3:6.—ἐν βιβλίῳ λόγων, in the book of the words) The book of Isaiah consists of certain portions and sentences [orationibus], and as these were joined together, none could slip out and be lost. So the book of the Psalms, ch. Luke 20:4-6.—φωνὴτρίβους αὐτοῦτὰ σκολιὰαἱ τραχεῖαικαὶ ὄψέται, κ.τ.λ.) Isaiah 40:3-5; The passage stands thus in the LXX. φωνὴτρίβους τοῦ Θεοῦ ἡμῶνπάντα τὰ σκολιὰἡ τραχεῖα εἰς πέδιακαὶ ὀφθήσεται ἡ δόξα Κυρίου, καἰ ὄψεται πᾶσα σὰρξ τὸ σωτήριον τοῦ Θεοῦ, ὅτι Κύριος ἐλάλησε, the voice—the paths of our God—all the crooked things—the rough way made into plains—and the glory of the Lord shall be seen, and all flesh shall see the salvation of God, because [or that] the Lord hath spoken it.

Verse 4. - As it is written in the book of the words of Esaias the prophet, saying, voice of one crying in the wilderness. The prophet quoted (Isaiah 40:3) had been writing in his solitude, or more probably in some great popular assembly preaching to the people. There was doubtless at that time much national trouble threatening Israel; the future of the chosen race looked very dark and gloomy, within and without. We can hear the man of God speaking with intense earnestness, and looking on to brighter times. "Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God. Speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem, and cry unto her, that her warfare is accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned," etc.; and then a sudden burst when the prophet, bending forward and straining his ears to hear some sound none other caught but he, goes on in his rapt utterance - I hear a voice, "The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord." Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. The image is a simple one, and in the East one well knows, where the roads are comparatively few, and where they do exist are often in a bad state, when a sovereign is about to visit any part of his dominions, or still more if the march of an army has to be arranged for, the roads require considerable preparation. Josephus ('Bell. Jud.,' 3:06) describes the advance of the Emperor Vespasian's army, and specially mentions how the pioneers and the vanguard had to make the road even and straight, and, if it were anywhere rough hard to be passed over, to plane it. There was a Jewish legend that this special pioneering work in the desert was done by the pillar of cloud and fire, which brought low the mountains and filled the valleys before the Israelitic march. John's special work was to prepare the way for the advent of a Messiah very different to the one the people looked for - to prepare his way by a spiritual reformation in the heart, the mind, and the character. Luke 3:4Isaiah

In this prophetic citation Mark adds to Isaiah Mal 3:1, which does not appear in either Matthew or Luke. Luke adds Isaiah 11:4, Isaiah 11:5 of Isaiah 11, which do not appear in the others.

Paths (τρίβους)

From τρίβω, to rub or wear. Hence beaten tracks.

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