Gospel of Luke 02 (ch. 3, 4)


Bailey, Kenneth E..  The Cross & the Prodigal: Luke 15 Through the eyes of Middle Eastern Peasants, second edition.  (IVP Books, Downers Grove IL, 2005).

————————-  Finding the Lost Cultural Keys to Luke 15.  (Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis MO, 1992).

————————-  Jacob and the Prodigal: How Jesus Retold Israel’s Story.  (Intervarsity Press, Downers Grove IL, 2003).

Byrne, Brendan.  The Hospitality of God: a Reading of Luke’s Gospel.  (Liturgical Press, 2000 , Collegeville MN).

Craddock, Fred B.  Luke.  Part of Interpretation: A Bible Commentary for Teaching and Preaching edited by James L. Mays.   (John Knox Press, Louisville, 1990).


Culy, Martin M., Mikeal C. Parsons, and Joshua J. Stigall.  Luke: A Handbook on the Greek Text.  (Baylor University Press, 2010, Waco TX).


Fitzmyer, Joseph A.  The Gospel According to Luke I – IX.  A New translation with Introduction and commentary.  Part of the Anchor Bible Commentary Series edited by W. F. Albright and David Noel Freedman.  (Doubleday, New York, 1970).


————————–  The Gospel According to Luke X – XXIV.  A New translation with Introduction and commentary.  Part of the Anchor Bible Commentary Series edited by W. F. Albright and David Noel Freedman.  (Doubleday, New York, 1985).


Gillman, John.  Luke: Stories of Joy and Salvation.  Part of the Spiritual Commentaries on the Bible series edited by Mary Ann Getty-Sullivan.  (New City Press, Hyde Park NY, 2002).


Gonzalez, Justo L.  Luke.  Part of the Belief: A theological commentary on the Bible series, Amy Plantinga Pauw and William C. Placher General Editors.  (Westminster John Knox Press, Louisville, 2010).


Hendrickx, Herman.  The Third Gospel for the Third World.  (Liturgical Press, Collegeville MN, 1997).

  • Volume One – Luke 1:1-2:52
  • Volume Two – A  Luke 3:1-6:49
  • Volume Two – B  Luke 7:1-9:50
  • Volume Three – A  Luke 9:51-13:21
  • Volume Three – B  Luke 13:22-17:10
  • Volume Three-C   Luke 17:11-19:44
  • Volume Four  – A  Luke 19:45-21:38


Johnson, Luke Timothy.  The Gospel of Luke.  Part of the Sacra Pagina biblical commentary series edited by Daniel J. Harrington S.J..  (Liturgical Press, Collegeville MN, 1991).

Levine, Amy-Jill and Marc Zvi Brettler editors.  The Jewish Annotated New Testament / New Revised Standard Version Bible Translation.  (Oxford University Press, New York, 2011).

Marshall, I. Howard.  The Gospel of Luke.  Part of the New International Greek Testament Commentary (NIGTC) series edited by I. Howard Marshall and Donald A. Hagner.  (Eerdmans, 1978, Grand Rapids MI)

McKenna, Megan.  Luke: The Book of Blessings and Woes.  (New City Press, Hyde Park NY, 2009).

Patella, Michael F..  The Gospel According to Luke.  Part of the New Collegeville Bible Commentary edited by Daniel Durken O.S.B.  (Liturgical Press, Collegeville MN, 2005).

Walker, Thomas W..  Luke.  Part of the Interpretation Bible Studies series .  (Westminster John Knox Press, Louisville, 2001).



Chapter 3

Luke spends chapter 3 and the beginning of chapter 4 setting the scene – establishing the context for Jesus and the rest of the gospel.  Clearly what he does here is important for understanding.

The Preaching of John the Baptist

It is important for Luke that Jesus is in the midst of the real world – at this particular time and in this particular place and through these particular people and events – God was made known in and through the person of Jesus.

John the Baptist fulfills his role in the plan of God (set out in the opening chapters) by preaching repentance and a coming judgment.

Byrne points out on p. 40 that John’s message of baptism with the Holy Spirit and fire is not the fire of judgment (at least yet) but is fulfilled on Pentecost – by the Holy Spirit and tongues of fire.

“What should we do?”  Byrne p. 40: “Beneath the advice in each case is a central Lukan concern: nothing so hinders relationship to God, dehumanizes human  beings and ruins life in community as attachment to wealth and possessions.  To accept and live within the  hospitality of God always means detachment in this area.”

The Baptism of Jesus

Many Christian symbols and rituals come from Judaism.  Our sacrament of baptism is not one of them.  Jews DO have mikva’s  (ritual baths) for ritual purity – after contact with something unclean, women after their periods.  The Essenes, around the time of Jesus and John, seemed to have had almost a fetish for ritual baths (for ritual purity) – their key theme was that members of the community were preserving true Judaism in the face of the corruption of  the priests in the temple.  John may have taken the idea and applied it to spiritual purity.  It could be repeated (as other baths were).  Christian baptism however has always been a one-time event, has a ‘cleansing from sin’ component(perhaps John’s twist)  but also other elements, and is oriented to membership in the Body of Christ / church that is not part of the Jewish mikva.

Hendrickx 2A p. 9: “In fact, other sections of Luke confirm the infancy narrative in that they show that John had priestly concerns.  He engaged in the rituals of baptism, fasting, and prayer all from the point of view of ritual and moral purification.”  (John, as descended from a priestly father Zechariah) would have been a priest himself.)

Note that the Holy Spirit descends upon Jesus at some point AFTER the baptism.

Byrne p. 41: “Jesus is Israel’s Messiah.  But the messianic mission for which he is now empowered will principally consist in drawing human beings into the filial relationship with God that he enjoys as “Beloved Son”.  To experience the Spirit is to know one is at home within the family of God.”


The Genealogy of Jesus

The genealogy goes all the way back to Adam.  This emphasizes a connection to creation, to a divine plan.  It also emphasizes Jesus as a “pivot point” in the story of salvation – i.e. it all leads to him, all flows from him.  Byrne page 41 – but also, Jesus is a part of this creation, of this human chain – including  that which is good and that which is bad.

Hendrickx 2A: genealogies are all about honor and place in the society of the times.  “Luke, therefore, will go immediately from the honor claim made in the genealogy to the first of the honor tests.”  As the claim that this humble carpenter’s son is really the Son of God would have been challenged back then.

Hendrickx 2A p 72ff: a key point of the genealogy is that goes back to Adam and establishes Jesus as universally significant, not just to Abraham as in other gospels.  P. 74: “The genealogy rounds out the introductory material of the first three chapters.  Jesus’ identity has been established and his vocation determined by angelic announcement, prophetic precedent, a heavenly voice, and a catalog of ancestors.  A number of themes have been introduced that will be developed and elaborated as the narrative unfolds.   But before the account of Jesus’ public ministry can begin, Luke has one more story to tell.  It will make clear the specific space within the panorama of divine vocation, human longing, and socio-political reality that Jesus’ ministry will occupy.”  (Wilderness temptation, aided by Holy Spirit, like John, like OT prophets, like Israel itself)

Chapter 4

The Temptation of Jesus

Jesus connected back to Adam in the genealogy – is tested as Adam was.

Hendrickx points to Wisdom chapter 2 – the testing of a righteous man by the un-righteous and sees this as key to the whole gospel and in particular the temptation story.

Wisdom 2: 5-24

For our lifetime is the passing of a shadow; and our dying cannot be deferred

because it is fixed with a seal; and no one returns.


Come, therefore, let us enjoy the good things that are here, and make use of creation with youthful zest.

Let us have our fill of costly wine and perfumes, and let no springtime blossom pass us by;

let us crown ourselves with rosebuds before they wither.  Let no meadow be free from our wantonness; everywhere let us leave tokens of our merriment,  for this is our portion, and this our lot.


Let us oppress the righteous poor; let us neither spare the widow  nor revere the aged for hair grown white with time.  But let our strength be our norm of righteousness; for weakness proves itself useless.

Let us lie in wait for the righteous one, because he is annoying to us; he opposes our actions,

Reproaches us for transgressions of the law and charges us with violations of our training.


He professes to have knowledge of God and styles himself a child of the LORD.

To us he is the censure of our thoughts;  merely to see him is a hardship for us,

Because his life is not like that of others, and different are his ways.

He judges us debased ;  he holds aloof from our paths as from things impure.

He calls blest the destiny of the righteous and boasts that God is his Father.


Let us see whether his words be true; let us find out what will happen to him in the end.

For if the righteous one is the son of God, God will help him and deliver him from the hand of his foes.

With violence and torture let us put him to the test that we may have proof of his gentleness

and try his patience.  Let us condemn him to a shameful death; for according to his own words, God will take care of him.


These were their thoughts, but they erred; for their wickedness blinded them,

And they did not know the hidden counsels of God; neither did they count on a recompense for holiness

nor discern the innocent souls’ reward.  For God formed us to be imperishable; the image of his own nature he made us. But by the envy of the devil, death entered the world, and they who are allied with him experience it.



Byrne p. 41: “In being tested as Son of God in the wilderness, Jesus relives the history of his people, proving victorious where they had so often failed.”

The temptations are almost reasonable, almost an understandable compromise, and fit into the conventional view of who and what the messiah would be (a powerful political king / conqueror).   Jesus rejects them.

The final temptation is in Jerusalem – a central focus for the gospel of Luke (all flows towards  Jerusalem in Luke, all flows from Jerusalem in Acts).  Note that the temptation is to throw himself down from on high, when he gets there at the end of his ministry he is lifted UP on a cross and taunted – see if the angels come to help him now.


The Beginning of the Galilean Ministry

The desert is to the south and east of Jerusalem, Nazareth is in the north and in Galilee.  Jesus would have had to make a deliberate decision to journey there.

The Rejection at Nazareth

Isaiah 61: 1-2:

The spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me,

because the LORD has anointed me;


He has sent me to bring good news to the afflicted,

to bind up the brokenhearted,

To proclaim liberty to the captives,

release to the prisoners,


To announce a year of favor from the LORD

and a day of vindication by our God; …


Jesus adds a phrase from elsewhere in Isaiah and leaves out a phrase as well.  Special emphasis for Jesus is “release” – also played a role in Zechariah story (release from sins in Canticle).  Byrne p. 48: ‘The ministry of Jesus, then, will have much to do with freeing people from the captivity of sin.  Sin is not so much a situation of guilt that has to be forgiven as a plight from which one needs to be set free.”


It is not clear – was this the portion from the prophets  for the day OR did Jesus move to it on his own?


Byrne p. 49: “”Release” (aphesis) occurs again and again in connection with two related customs enshrined in Israel’s Torah.  According to Deut 15:1-18, in the Seventh or Sabbatical Year the land had to lie fallow and there had to be remission of all debts and release from the bonds of slavery.  Leviticus 25 prescribed that Israel celebrate the Fiftieth, or Jubilee, Year as a “year of release” in which, along with release from slavery, land alienated through hardship from a clan or family had to return to its original owners.  It seems clear that Isa 61:1-2 alludes to these customs.”


Jesus is also about “acceptance” – proclaiming that God accepts us.  But who accepts this acceptance from God? (the poor, the blind, the lame, etc.)   And who does not? (the rich, the powerful, the “first”, the authorities)


The Cure of a Demoniac; The Cure of Simon’s Mother-In-Law; Other Healings

Byrne p. 55: Jesus’ authority comes from the Holy Spirit.

Byrne p. 55: “All three episodes (demoniac, mother in law, demons)  involve a conflict with demonic forces that oppress, stunt and seek to control human lives.  Jesus is employing his messianic power to reclaim human beings, physically and spiritually, for humanity and for God.  This is the onset of the “kingdom” or “rule” of God.”

NAB footnote: By this point Jesus has been portrayed by Luke as prophet, teacher, exorcist, healer, and one who proclaims the Kingdom of God.

Jesus Leaves Capernaum

Judea may well mean “the land”.  Other gospels have “Galilee” which is the north and home area of Jesus while Judea per se is  in the southern area of Jerusalem and south.

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