Luke 4:20
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.
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(20) And he closed the book.—Better, rolled up, as describing the actual manner of closing. The description is characteristic as indicating (1) that it probably came in the first instance from an eye-witness-and (2) the calmness and deliberation with which our Lord acted.

And sat down.—This conveys to us the idea of falling back to a place of comparative obscurity among the congregation. To the Jew it implied just the opposite. The chair near the place from which the lesson was read was the pulpit of the Rabbi, and to sit down in that chair (as in Matthew 5:1; Matthew 23:2) was an assumption by our Lord, apparently for the first time in that synagogue, of the preacher’s function. This led to the eager, fixed gaze of wonder which the next clause speaks of.

Fastened on him.—The Greek word so rendered is noticeable as being used twelve times by St. Luke, (chiefly in the Acts), and twice by St. Paul (2Corinthians 3:7; 2Corinthians 3:13), and by no other writer of the New Testament. It had been used by Aristotle in his scientific writings, and was probably a half-technical word which St. Luke’s studies as a physician had brought into his vocabulary, and which St. Paul learnt, as it were, from him.

Luke 4:20-21. And he closed the book, and gave it again to the ministerΤω υπηρετη, to the servant, who had brought it to him. “From the manner in which we apply the word minister, in speaking of our churches, the English reader is apt to be led into a mistake by the common version, and to consider the word here as meaning the person who presided in the service; whereas it denotes only a subordinate officer, who attended the minister, and obeyed his orders in what concerned the more servile part of the work. Among other things he had the charge of the sacred books, and delivered them to those to whom he was commanded by his superiors to give them. After the reading was over, he deposited them in their proper place.” — Campbell. And sat down — The Jewish doctors, to show their reverence for the Scriptures, always stood when they read them, but when they taught the people they sat down. See Matthew 23:2. Thus we here find our Lord sitting down in the synagogue to preach, after he had read the passage in the prophet, which he made the subject of his discourse. The custom of preaching from a text of Scripture, which now prevails throughout all the Christian churches, seems to have derived its origin from the authority of this example. And the eyes of all were fastened on him — They looked on him with great attention, expecting him to explain the passage. And in addressing the congregation on it, he told them, it was that day fulfilled in their ears — Namely, by what they heard him speak; words which imply, that, whatever allusion there might be in the prophecy to the good news of the deliverance of the Jews from the Babylonish captivity, it was primarily and principally intended to be understood of the spiritual salvation of mankind from ignorance and error, sinfulness and guilt, depravity and misery, by the Messiah, who, and not Isaiah, nor any other prophet, is to be considered as speaking in the passage, as is explained more fully in the notes there.

4:14-30 Christ taught in their synagogues, their places of public worship, where they met to read, expound, and apply the word, to pray and praise. All the gifts and graces of the Spirit were upon him and on him, without measure. By Christ, sinners may be loosed from the bonds of guilt, and by his Spirit and grace from the bondage of corruption. He came by the word of his gospel, to bring light to those that sat in the dark, and by the power of his grace, to give sight to those that were blind. And he preached the acceptable year of the Lord. Let sinners attend to the Saviour's invitation when liberty is thus proclaimed. Christ's name was Wonderful; in nothing was he more so than in the word of his grace, and the power that went along with it. We may well wonder that he should speak such words of grace to such graceless wretches as mankind. Some prejudice often furnishes an objection against the humbling doctrine of the cross; and while it is the word of God that stirs up men's enmity, they will blame the conduct or manner of the speaker. The doctrine of God's sovereignty, his right to do his will, provokes proud men. They will not seek his favour in his own way; and are angry when others have the favours they neglect. Still is Jesus rejected by multitudes who hear the same message from his words. While they crucify him afresh by their sins, may we honour him as the Son of God, the Saviour of men, and seek to show we do so by our obedience.And he closed the book - That is, he rolled it up again. See the notes at Luke 4:17.

And he gave it again to the minister - That is, to the one in the synagogue who had charge of the books. The word means "servant," and the office was not much unlike that of a sexton now. It was his duty, among other things, to take charge of the books, to hand them to the reader of the law, and then return them to their place.

And sat down - This was usual in speaking in their synagogues. See the notes at Matthew 5:1.

Were fastened on him - Were intently fixed on him, waiting to see what explanation he would give of the words.

20. the minister—the chazan, or synagogue-officer.

all eyes … fastened on Him—astounded at His putting in such claims.

Ver. 20,21. Christ observeth the order used in their synagogues, when he that officiates had read such a portion out of the law as was appointed, or out of the prophets, as he pleased, he closed the book, or the roll, and gave it again to the officer, whose work it was to bring it, and then to carry it back, and lay it up; and then sat down, while he made his exhortation upon it. This Christ did, the people being in the mean time very attentive to hear what he would say. He begins to speak, and telleth them this was a prophecy concerning him,

This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears; that is, it is fulfilled in me, either primarily, or as I am the antitype to Cyrus. We must not think that this was all which Christ said, but thus he began his discourse.

And he closed the book,.... "Or rolled it up"; and so the high priest did, after he read in the book of the law, on the day of atonement, all that was necessary to be read, , "he rolled the book of the law", and put it in his bosom (f):

and he gave it again to the minister; the Chazan (g), who was the minister, or servant of the congregation, who had the affairs of it upon him, to let in, and bring out, and to order all things; and particularly to take care of the book of the law, and the chest, or ark in which it was. If the same rule was observed giving and taking the book of any prophet, as the book of the law; then Christ gave it to the minister, and he received it with his right hand: for so it is said (h),

"he that gives the book of the law to his friend, may not give it but with the right hand; and he that receives it may not receive it but with the right hand; for so was the giving of it on Mount Sinai, according to Deuteronomy 33:2.''

And sat down; as was the manner of the Jews, when they taught, or preached; See Gill on Matthew 5:1.

and the eyes of all them that were in the synagogue were fastened on him: they looked very wistly at him, and were very attentive to what he should say, upon such a passage of Scripture, which they knew referred to the Messiah; and the rather, as they had known him formerly, and had heard that he was said to be the Messiah.

(f) Misn. Yoma, c. 7. sect. 1.((g) Bartenora in Misn. Sota, c. 7. sect. 7. (h) Massechet Sopherirn, c. 3. sect. 10.

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.
Luke 4:20-21. Τῷ ὑπηρέτῃ] הַחַזָן to the officer of the synagogue, who had to take the book-roll back to its place, after it had been folded up by Jesus (πτύξας corresponding to the ἀναπτύξας of Luke 4:17).

ἐκάθισε] in order now to teach upon the passage which had been read,—this was done sitting (Zunz, Gottesd. Vorträge d. Juden, p. 337).

ἤρξατο] He began. Bengel appropriately says: “Sollenne initium.”

ἐν τοῖς ὠσὶν ὑμῶν] in your ears is this Scripture (this which is written, see on Mark 12:10) fulfilled—to wit, by the fact that the voice of Him of whom the prophet prophesied has entered into your ears. A concrete individualizing mode of expression. Comp. Luke 1:44, Luke 9:44; Acts 11:22; Jam 5:4; Sir 25:9; 1Ma 10:7; Bar 1:3 f.; LXX. Isaiah 5:9. How decisively the passage before us testifies in favour of the fact that from the beginning of His ministry Jesus already had the clear and certain consciousness that He was the Messiah![88] Moreover, that nothing but the theme of the discourse delivered by Jesus is here given is manifest from the passage itself, as well as from Luke 4:22; but He has placed it remarkably close to the beginning of His discourse, and so led the hearer all at once in mediam rem (comp. Zunz, as above, p. 353). Grotius well says: “Hoc exordio usus Jesus explicavit prophetae locum et explicando implevit.”

[88] Comp. Beyschlag, Christ. d. N. T. p. 36 f.

Luke 4:20. πτύξας, folding, ἀναπτύξας in Luke 4:17 (T. R.) = unfolding.—ὑπηρέτῃ, the officer of the synagogue; cf. the use of the word in Acts 13:5.—ἀτενίζοντες, looking attentively (ἀτενής, intent, from α and τείνω), often in Acts, vide, e.g., Luke 13:9.

20. he closed the book] Rather, rolling up. Generally the Haphtarah consists of twenty-one verses, and is never less than three; but our Lord stopped short in the second verse, because this furnished sufficient text for His discourse, and because He wished these gracious words to rest last on their ears, rather than the following words, “the day of vengeance of our God.”

the minister] The Chazzan.

sat down] The ordinary Jewish attitude for the sermon (Matthew 23:2).

fastened on him] A favourite word of St Luke, who uses it eleven times; elsewhere it is only found in 2 Corinthians 3:7; 2 Corinthians 3:13. The attitude of Jesus shewed that now for the first time He intended not only to read but to preach.

Luke 4:20. Ἀποδοὺς, having given it again) with due decorum.—ἐκάθισε, He sat down) Whilst teaching and applying the text which He had read. He had stood up, Luke 4:16.

Verse 20. - And he closed the book, and he gave it again to the minister, and sat down. This was the usual position adopted by a Jewish preacher. The chair of the preacher was placed near the spot where the lesson was read. These synagogues were built with the end pointed towards Jerusalem, in which direction the Jew ever loved to turn as he prayed (Daniel 6:10). The men sat on one side of the building, the women on the other. There was always at the end of the chamber an ark of wood, a memory of the sacred ark of the covenant, which once, with its golden mercy-seat, hallowed now and again with the presence of the visible glory, was the chief treasure of the temple ca Mount Zion. In the "ark" were kept the Law (the five books of Moses) and the rolls of the prophets. Luke 4:20He closed (πτύξας)

See on Luke 4:17.

Minister (ὑπηρέτῃ)

See on Matthew 5:25. Lit., as Rev., attendant. Minister is likely to be misunderstood as referring to the president of the congregation, who, as the teaching elder, would have addressed the people if Jesus had not done so. It means the attendant who had charge of the sacred rolls. He was a salaried officer, a kind of chapel-clerk.

Sat down

As about to teach; that being the habitual position of a Jewish teacher.

Were fastened (ἦσαν ἀτενίζοντες)

The participle and finite verb denoting continuous, steadfast attention. The verb, from τείνω, to stretch, denotes fixed attention. Indeed, the word attention itself, etymologically considered, conveys the same idea.

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