Vv 1,2: In two verses only, Luke presents the great parade --
of all the powerful and wealthy and prominent men of the world in his day. There
they stand on the world's "stage" for all to respect and admire! But God --
being no respecter of persons, and desiring that no flesh should glory in His
presence -- now absolutely sets all the mighty to one side, passing them by
entirely, and condescends to speak to a man of the wilderness -- a man of simple
food and simple clothes and simple habits. The Creator of heaven and earth has
no need for lavish palaces or fine temples; instead, He chooses to dwell with
shepherds in the fields (Luke 2:8-14), and a "wild man" on the river
Herod the Great's old kingdom is now divided into 4 parts,
only 2 of which his sons rule. (People governed by such men were surely ready to
hear the gospel.)
HEROD: Herod Antipas -- "the fox" -- brother of
Archelaus, and son of Herod the Great.
ITUREA: 1Ch 1:31: Edomite origin of name.
ANNAS AND CAIAPHAS: Annas was officially High Priest
from 6 to 15 AD. Annas had 5 sons and a son-in-law (Caiaphas) who become High
Priests. When arrested, Christ was taken first to Annas, the head of the family
THE WORD OF GOD CAME: A formal expression (cp Jer 1:2),
placing John in the true prophetic tradition.
THE JORDAN: Elijah was last seen here (2Ki 2:8). John
Bapt was first seen here.
PREACHING: First principles in John's preaching: See
Lesson, John the Baptist, gospel of. Elijah was last seen at the river Jordan (2Ki 2:11);
John the Baptist first appeared to Israel at the same place (v 6).
DESERT: A "wilderness", both natural and
PREPARE THE WAY FOR THE LORD: How? By preaching (v 3),
and by being taken out of the way (Mat 4:12).
LORD: "Yahweh" of Isa 40:3 becomes "Kyrios" here.
ALL: Limited sense of "all": "all flesh" (Gen 6:12; Isa
66:24; Jer 45:5; Eze 20:48; 21:4); "all people" (Est 3:14; Lam 1:8; 1Ki 8:43;
Dan 5:19; Mic 4:5). Christ has power over "all flesh" (Joh 17:2).
YOU BROOD OF VIPERS: Three and a half years later they
have not been touched by the teaching of Jesus -- for he calls them "serpents"
and "vipers" again (Mat 23:33). Hopefully the words of Jesus have a bigger
impact on us!
WHO WARNED YOU TO FLEE FROM THE COMING WRATH?: A
wildfire driving all snakes and crawling creatures before it (Hist Geog
FRUITS IN KEEPING WITH REPENTANCE: That is, works to
demonstrate faith (Gal 5:22,23), esp the work of confession and forsaking sin
(1Jo 1:9; Joh 8:11).
STONES... CHILDREN: In Heb, abanim/banim.
THESE STONES: The stones of Jos 4 were 12 great stones
placed in river, and 12 more stones taken from river. Sym baptism to new life.
(In Heb and Aramaic, the words for "stones" and "children" are almost
identical.) Joshua's great memorial of God's deliverance -- as are all
"stones/children" of God!
THE AX... AT THE ROOT OF THE TREES: Marking them out
for future destruction. Ax = the word of God, brought in the preaching of John
-- by which the status of every "tree" was made evident.
One wonders how much we have the desire to adhere to this type
of teaching in our present materialistic age. Most of us are so used to having
more than we need, and yet half the world goes hungry and unclothed. It seems
that there is something wrong here (Isa 58:7-11; Luke 18:22).
SOLDIERS: Prob military irregulars, like followers of
Barabbas. Thus "wages" = pay for regular, non-military jobs.
EXTORT: Suggesting political revolutionists (WGos
"Wondering" is not the same as being prepared!
First water, then spirit. First natural, then spiritual. First
cleansing, then forgiveness. First purifying, then raising to new life. (Note
"fire" of judgment is omitted.)
WINNOWING FORK: The winnowing fork (RSV): a fan or
shovel, used by Syrians (ISBE): cp Isa 30:24; Jer 15:7.
HIS THRESHING FLOOR: The Temple of Solomon was built on
a threshing floor: 2Ki 24:16,24.
Winnowing = judgment in Mat 3:12n; Dan 2:35; Isa 5:24;
41:15,16; Mal 3:2,3; Jer 23:28,29.
Vv 19,20: John had said that he would decrease (Joh 3:30), but
he probably did not think it would be a consequence of his being imprisoned. It
is good that we do not know the details of the future.
HE LOCKED JOHN UP IN PRISON: "From a certain point of
view, it is saddening to think of such a man as John the Baptist in the hands of
such creatures as Herod and his paramour; and sadder to think that his life
should be sacrificed to the feminine malice created by John's upright attitude
as a preacher of righteousness. But the sadness is only for a moment. It is the
lot of divine things and divine men to be under the heel of wickedness in the
day of sin's ascendancy. We can comfort ourselves with the thought that they do
not come under the heel by chance, or before the appointed time. It is part of
the process by which they are prepared for, and ultimately introduced to 'an
eternal weight of glory'. And there is the further consolation that to the
victims of the oppression, the triumph of the enemy is 'but for a moment'. Death
is the best thing that can happen to them. Their trials and distresses are
annihilated at a stroke: and in a moment, they are face to face with the glory
for which their distresses prepare them, for the simple reason that in death
there is no knowledge of time, and therefore no conscious interval to the
resurrection" (NR 25,26).
Why was Jesus baptized (Mat 3:13-17; Mar 1:8-11; Luk 3:21-23)?
The most obvious answer is the Scriptural one: in the words of Jesus himself,
"to fulfill all righteousness". This calls to mind Mat 5:17: "I am not come to
destroy [the law], but to fulfill." The work of Jesus, in all its aspects, was
to fulfill, or complete, the righteousness of the law of Moses. The law of Moses
was a "shadow" (Heb 10:1), pointing forward to the substance, the reality, which
was Jesus. As Moses washed Aaron (Exo 30:20,21; 40:12), to sanctify and cleanse
him for his mediatorial work, so John washed Jesus. If Aaron had entered the
Most Holy without washing, he would have failed; if Jesus had offered himself as
a sacrifice with no public baptism (signifying the denial of the flesh), he
would likewise have failed. Jesus was absolutely without personal sin. The
necessity of his baptism shows how far even sinful flesh alone separates man
Vv 21,22: The anointing of the King. Apparently, the only
meeting between John and Jesus. "He had no life of sin to leave behind in the
waters of Jordan, but there he did bring to an end the home life of Nazareth,
the quiet, peaceful years of preparation, and did accept as the 'righteous will
of God' the storm and strain and sacrifice of the work which he had come to do"
(Erdman, Mat 36).
See Mat 3:13-17n. Reason for Christ's baptism: found in
genealogy, tracing his ancestry back to Adam (v 38). His baptism: a public
identification with those he came to save. Cp Christ's baptism with anointings
of David (1Sa 16:13) and Aaron (Lev 8:12).
This Holy Spirit led him into the wilderness: cp Luk 4:1 with
THE HOLY SPIRIT DESCENDED: The Spirit "brooding" on the
surface of the waters (Gen 1:2). "The beginning of the new creation!"
DOVE: Only sacrificial animal to be feathered (Luk
2:24; Lev 1:14,15; 5:7). The dove, with keen eyesight, returned to the safety of
Noah's ark, in peace, bringing an olive branch of new creation. The dove is
gentle (Mat 10:16), clean (Song 6:9), particular in its choice of food (Gen 8),
swift (Psa 55:6), beautiful (Psa 68:13), constant in love (Song 5:12).
A VOICE CAME FROM HEAVEN: Sounding, perhaps, like
thunder to the bystanders (Joh 12:29). Understood only by Jesus and John. The
voice from heaven identifies Jesus as the "prophet like unto Moses" (Deu
WITH YOU I AM WELL PLEASED: "On whom my pleasure
rests." Cp Isa 42:1: "From this day on Jesus walked in the shadow of the cross"
The phrase "so it was thought" again indicates that direct
parenthood is out of the question. Luke, as well as Matthew, clearly explains
why elsewhere (Luk 1:35); so there is no need to suppose that Jesus was lit the
son of Joseph. The next phrase however, "the son of Heli", presents the problem.
To take this phrase in the most easily understood sense would mean that Joseph's
natural father had two names: Jacob (Mat 1:16) and Heli (Luk 3:23). This is not
necessarily impossible in itself, but further reading compounds the problem
since Jacob's immediate ancestors were Matthan, Eleazar, and Eliud, while Heli's
were Matthat, Levi, and Melchi. Clearly we are dealing, then, with two separate
men and two separate lines.
Two possibilities exist to reconcile the difficulty: (1) Luk
3:23 could be read: "And Jesus (being, so it was thought, the son of Joseph) was
actually the 'son' (ie grandson) of Heli." Under this alternative, "the son of
Heli" would refer further back, to Jesus, and not to Joseph. Heli then would be
the father of Mary. (2) "Joseph, the son-in-law of Heli." Again, Heli would be
the father of Mary, and the genealogy of Luke would be Mary's genealogy, through
her father. Joseph's inclusion at that point is easily explained in that the
woman's identity is often submerged in that of her husband.
Since both Joseph and Mary were David's descendants their two
lines coincide from Abraham to David. Thereafter they diverge, Joseph's
continuing with the kingly line of Solomon and Rehoboam, and Mary's proceeding
from David's son Nathan. The two lines appear to join briefly with Shealtiel and
Zerubbabel (Mat 1:12; Luk 3:27). If, however, these two are the same in both
records, then one of Shealtiel's "fathers" -- either Jechoniah (Mat 1:12) or
Neri (Luk 3:27) -- must have been his adoptive and not his literal
BEGAN: Cp Gen 1:1; Joh 1:1; etc: "in the
SO IT WAS THOUGHT: May mean "as was reckoned by
MATTHAT: Same as Matthan (Mat 1:15)
SHEALTIEL, THE SON OF NERI: The two lines (Joseph's in
Mat and Mary's in Luk) converge in 2 successive generations (Shealtiel and
Zerubbabel). Was Jeconiah the father of Shealtiel (Mat 1:12), or was Neri the
father (here)? One of the two lines (in Mat and Luk) was prob perpetuated
through an adoption. Either way, legally and by blood, Jesus was descended from
SON OF DAVID: Jesus so called in Mat 1:1; 9:27; 12:23;
15:22; 20:30; 21:9-11.
CAINAN: This name does not occur in Heb OT genealogy,
but is picked up from LXX.
SON OF ADAM: Jesus as son of Adam in Rom 5:12-21; 1Co
15:22,45. This leads into Luk 4, where the wilderness temptation compares to
Adam's Edenic temptation.
SON OF GOD: Every phrase in this genealogy refers back
to Christ: Jesus was the "son of Adam", and Jesus (not Adam) was the "son of