The Agora
Bible Commentary

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Luke 4

Luk 4:1

Vv 1-13: The temptation: "The most important, memorable, and mysterious battle in history."

AND WAS LED BY THE SPIRIT IN THE DESERT: Cp Luk 3:22 with Rom 8:14; Gal 5:18: and thus Jesus is led by Spirit into wilderness. It was not for Jesus to bask in the glory of the Father's blessings; he must be tested. The temptation was by divine intervention (cp Gen 22:1; 1Co 10:13).

Prophets were led by the Holy Spirit to receive visions: Rev 21:10; Eze 8:3; 37:1; 40:2; 2Co 12:2.

IN THE DESERT: With the wild beasts: Mar 1:13.

Jesus is baptized, and immediately taken by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted. Cp this with Moses' Psa 90:5-12: his commentary about the generation that was first "baptized" in the Red Sea, and then afterward perished in the wilderness. Secondly, cp this with Joshua's (this is a guess) Psa 91:1-7: a commentary about the generation that survived the wilderness to enter the Promised Land. Other points of comparison: (a) cp the 40 years there with the 40 days here. (b) Psa 91:11,12 refers to the temptation of Jesus in the wilderness. (c) Psa 91:13: Cp with Mark 1:13 (Psa 8:6,7; Gen 1:28: Jesus exercises dominion over the wild beasts).

Luk 4:2

FORTY DAYS: // 40 years. Temptation of Christ // temptation of God's "firstborn" nation. Note similarities in Deu 32:8-20.

THE DEVIL: Also called the "tempter" in Mat 4:3, and "Satan" in Mar 1:13. Poss a member of the delegation from the High Priest and other authorities (cp Mat 3:7), who see Christ baptized, anointed as the "Lamb of God" (Joh 1:29), and hope to find a way to neutralize his influence: 'Come, join with us, and you will "succeed" far beyond your expectations!'

So someone came to check Jesus' credentials, much as the "credentials" of John Baptist were checked. Cp John 1:19: "Now this was John's testimony when the Jews of Jerusalem sent priests and Levites to ask him who he was." This could have led, directly, to their need to "examine" the would-be "Messiah" -- to whom John pointed (John 1:23-29).

All other refs to tempters in the gospels are to external tempters: Mat 16:1; 19:3; 22:15-18; 26:59-63; John 8:6; Luk 11:15,16.

HE ATE NOTHING: Or an absolute minimum (cp Mat 11:18)?

Luk 4:3

If? See Luk 3:22; Mat 26:63.

Luk 4:4

See Jer 15:16; Job 23:10-12; Joh 4:32-34.

IT IS WRITTEN: Over the course of the 40 days temptation in the wilderness, Jesus resisted the allurements of sin by continual resort to quotations from the Scripture -- specifically, in the instances given, from the book of Deuteronomy: Deu 8:3; 6:13; 6:16. Here is a profound lesson for us: while the power of will demonstrated by Jesus is surely extraordinary -- even miraculous -- and while the Holy Spirit received from his Father must also have played a significant part... nevertheless, there is nothing mysterious about his resorting to the comfort and encouragement of the Bible. This account tells us that the PRIMARY means by which Jesus resisted sin was... the word of God!

And the same will be true of us. Knowing the Bible -- its commandments and its promises -- and knowing that it IS the word of God, which may effectively work in us... this is the best means to resist all the enticements to evil that come our way. We may pray to our heavenly Father to help us in times of stress and weakness, but surely He will not help us if we have ignored the greatest means of resistance against sin and of growth in righteousness -- which we have right here in our hands all the while! -- the holy Bible.

Luk 4:5

THE DEVIL LED HIM UP TO A HIGH PLACE: Other prophets received visions thusly: Rev 21:10; Eze 40:2.

AND SHOWED HIM IN AN INSTANT ALL THE KINGDOMS OF THE WORLD: At the least, all the "kingdoms" of the Promised Land! From traditional mount of temptation, in north of Jeshimon: looking to east, one might actually see the whole of Transjordan: riches of Petra in the south, the castle of Herod, Moab-Ammon in center, Decapolis (Greek influence) to north. All around also was the power of Rome (Baly 185). Cp Abraham surveying Land in Gen 13:14,15.

Luk 4:6

Could the "orthodox" "Devil" give Jesus all these things?

Luk 4:8

Quoting Deu 6:13, which warns against serving other gods. Thus, to serve the "flesh" is to serve another "god"!

AND SERVE HIM ONLY: "Power is a dangerous and coveted thing. Most men seek after it in some form or other: money, standing, influence and the various other aspects of preference in which men delight. Power is a test of character and few come through unharmed. One man only has found the perfect answer. Upon him came the Spirit of God without measure and for forty days and nights he wrestled, Jacob-like, to keep the face of God before him lest he should become tarnished by power. He discovered in his striving the peace which comes by resisting the temptation to serve self: service of others is the true use of power" (TMD 92,93).

Luk 4:9

THE HIGHEST POINT OF THE TEMPLE: See Eze 8:3. It was here also that James (the Lord's brother) stood to address the crowds -- before being thrown down and clubbed to death (WGos 74).

" 'Our Rabbis give this tradition: In the hour when King Messiah cometh, He standeth upon the roof of the Sanctuary, and proclaims to Israel, saying, Ye poor (suffering), the time of your redemption draweth nigh. And if ye believe, rejoice in My Light, which is risen upon you... Jesus stands on the lofty pinnacle of the Tower, or of the Temple-porch... whence the view into the Kedron Valley beneath was to the stupendous depth of 450 feet... Possibly it may have been the extreme corner of the 'wing-like' porch, or ulam, which led into the Sanctuary. Thence a Priest could easily have communicated with his brethren in the court beneath... [This place was] presumably that on which every day a priest was stationed to watch, as the pale morning light passed over the hills of Judaea far off to Hebron, to announce it as the signal for offering the morning sacrifice. If we might indulge our imagination, the moment chosen would be just as the Priest had quitted that station. The first desert-temptation had been in the grey of breaking light, when to the faint and weary looker the stones of the wilderness seemed to take fantastic shapes, like the bread for which the faint body hungered. In the next temptation Jesus stands on the watch-post which the white-robed priest had just quitted. Fast the rosy morning-light, deepening into crimson, and edged with gold, is spreading over the land. In the Priests' Court below him the morning-sacrifice has been offered. The massive Temple-gates are slowly opening, and the blasts of the priests' silver trumpets is summoning Israel to begin a new day by appearing before their Lord. Now then let him descend, Heaven-borne, into the midst of priests and people. What shouts of acclamation would greet his appearance! What homage of worship would be His! The goal can at once be reached, and that at the head of believing Israel. Jesus is surveying the scene. By his side is the tempter [a representative of the Sanhedrin?: GB], watching the features that mark the working of the spirit within. And now he has whispered it" (Eder). The beauty of this would be -- from the viewpoint of the tempter -- that, if Jesus were not the Messiah, he would plunge to his death, and the leaders of Israel would be rid of a potential threat and rival. And if he did succeed, the leaders of Israel would have an "in" with this new "king" -- he would be "one of them"!

Luk 4:10

Cp 2Co 11:14: "Satan" masquerading as an "angel of light".

Luk 4:15

HE TAUGHT IN THEIR SYNAGOGUES: Something John Bapt never did.

Luk 4:16

Jesus' custom to attend synagogue? Or his custom to read there? Or his custom to preach there (at least, early in ministry)?

HE STOOD UP TO READ: To read the scrolls which spoke of him (Psa 40:7)! Of these he read all the days of his life (Deu 17:19).

Luk 4:17

Ct Isa 29:11,12: others who were handed the scrolls handed them back!

Luk 4:18

In the first recorded announcement of his ministry, Jesus PROCLAIMS gospel of freedom... In his last recorded words (in Luke), Jesus PROCLAIMS freedom through repentance and remission of sins (Luk 24:47). The proclamation of "Jubilee": freedom! (Isa 61:2; Lev 25:10).

THE SPIRIT OF THE LORD IS ON ME: Likewise, in the first preaching by the apostles, in Acts 2, the Holy Spirit comes upon them all!

Luk 4:19

THE YEAR OF THE LORD'S FAVOR: Poss year of Jubilee (Lev 25:8-10). Freedom, release, return (cp Mat 11:28).

Luk 4:21

TODAY: Cp Deu 30:19.

Luk 4:22

He continued to expound the words...

Luk 4:23

That is, 'do something to prove that you are more that you seem to be.'

DO HERE IN YOUR HOMETOWN...: Cp Jeremiah's experiences: Jer 11:21; 12:6.

HOMETOWN: "Patris" = fatherland -- either hometown, native region, or whole country. Here, hometown. But ct v 24.

Luk 4:24

HOMETOWN: Here "patris" (cp v 23) = whole land of Israel, because contrasted with lands of Sidon (v 26) and Syria (v 27).

Luk 4:28

ALL THE PEOPLE IN THE SYNAGOGUE WERE FURIOUS WHEN THEY HEARD THIS: Because Jesus was plainly saying that miracles were not restricted to Jews, but came also to Gentiles -- as in the days of Elijah (vv 25-27).

Luk 4:29

TO THROW HIM DOWN THE CLIFF: So done to Edomites in 2Ch 25:12. Presumably, this is what the priest did to the scapegoat on Day of Atonement (WGos 298). [Between 515 BC and 70 AD, during the second temple period, the "scapegoat" was led to a cliff and forced over the brink to ensure it did not return.] So, was this an attempt to make Jesus the "scapegoat" on the Day of Atonement: 'Let him bear away all the sins of the nation!'?

This probably occurs in the 7th month, the month of the Day of Atonement: see v 18 and Isa 61 context. It was on the Day of Atonement that the year of Jubilee was proclaimed, when they were to "proclaim liberty" throughout the land, when bought Hebrew servants were to be freed and sold lands restored to the heirs (Lev 25).

Also, in a more general way, this is reminiscent of the words of Caiaphas: "You do not realize that it is better for you that one man die for the people than that the whole nation perish" (John 11:50).

Luk 4:31

// Mat 4:13-17n.

DOWN TO CAPERNAUM: Nazareth to Capernaum, a drop of c 2000 ft (WGos 122).

Luk 4:32

AUTHORITY: As in Mar 1:22.

Luk 4:33

THE SYNAGOGUE: The only one in town: Mar 1:21; Luk 7:5n.

Luk 4:34

US... US: The other people in synagogue, not a "legion" of demons! That is, 'you will be like the other pseudo-messiahs, bringing the wrath of Rome down upon us.'

Luk 4:35

BE QUIET: Cp Mar 1:25n.

BEFORE THEM ALL: In the open space before the rostrum.

WITHOUT INJURING HIM: The loud cry was not a cry of pain.

Luk 4:36

The first open contest with the power he was to destroy! This mastery of the unseen powers of darkness (Phi 2:10) was more than they had even expected of the Messiah.

GIVES ORDERS: "Seems always to describe a DIVINE command" (WGos 121).

Luk 4:38

LEFT: "Anistemi" = to arise. The usual posture for teachers in the synagogue was sitting.

HOME OF SIMON: Was Bethsaida (Joh 1:44) a "suburb" of Capernaum? (WGos 122).

SIMON'S MOTHER-IN-LAW: Peter was married (1Co 9:5).

HIGH FEVER: Typhus? (WGos 122) Or malaria?

THEY ASKED JESUS TO HELP HER: Intercession for weak and needy.

Luk 4:39

The first resurrection by Jesus, typical of others to follow.

1. Personal contact. 2. Uplifting power. 3. Immediate cure.

The effect on Peter's family: "It is no light thing to take a man from his home and wife and family and livelihood to become a... preacher... This healing of Peter's mother-in-law guaranteed enthusiastic support. From this day forward, Peter need never look over his shoulder wondering how his wandering life... was regarded by the folks at home" (WGos 123).

HE... REBUKED THE FEVER: As though it were a personal thing -- which, of course, it was not. Cp Christ's "rebuke" of "demons" as well.

AND BEGAN TO WAIT ON THEM: No "half-way" cures. The saved should serve!

Luk 4:40

WHEN THE SUN WAS SETTING: That is, as soon as Sabbath had officially ended (cp v 38), the entire town was "synagogued" at Peter's door!

ALL: The "all" of Isa 53:6.

LAYING HIS HANDS ON EACH ONE: Blessing and personal identification (Gen 48:14; Lev 9:22,23).

HE HEALED THEM: So Capernaum became "well" physically, but not so spiritually (Mat 11:20,23,24)!

Luk 4:41

See Lesson, Demons, what are? Here is cited Isa 53:4 (Mat 8:16,17): "Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows."

BUT HE REBUKED THEM AND WOULD NOT ALLOW THEM TO SPEAK: Silence was his settled policy for most of his ministry (Mat 9:30; 17:9; 12:16; Mar 1:34; 5:43; 7:36; 8:26; Luk 5:14), with one notable exception (Mar 5:19 -- Legion with his family). But in last days of ministry, a change of course (Mat 21:1-11; Joh 7:37; 9:3; 11:4).

BECAUSE THEY KNEW HE WAS THE CHRIST: That is, they knew by personal experience his healing power.

Luk 4:42

Jesus needs solitude for thought and prayer (cp Isa 50;4; Psa 119:147,148). A list of "solitude passages": Mar 1:35-37; 3:7,9,20,21; 4:35-38; 6:31; 7:17,18,24; 8:10,11,27; 9:30; 10:32; 14:32.

Other night prayers: Psa 119:62; Lam 2:19; Luk 11:5; Mat 26:39-46; Act 16:25.

AT DAYBREAK: Lit, "before it was day" (cp Mar 1:35).

THE PEOPLE WERE LOOKING FOR HIM...: The eagerness of the crowds: Luk 5:1; 6:19; 8:19,40; 12:1; 21:38.

Luk 4:43

Perhaps Christ realizes now that his mission could not be just one of healing -- but of proclaiming. He must go to other cities. Perhaps in prayer this was communicated to him by God.

Luk 4:44

PREACHING IN THE SYNAGOGUES: This was a religious, not merely a political, undertaking.

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