Luke Chapter Three
v. 1 “NOW IN THE FIFTEENTH YEAR OF THE REIGN OF TIBERIUS CAESAR, PONTIUS PILATE BEING GOVENOR OF JUDAEA, AND HEROD BEING TETRARCH OF GALLIEE, AND HIS BROTHER PHILIP TETRARCH OF ITURAEA AND OF THE REGION OF TRACHONITIS, AND LYSANIAS THE TETRARCH OF ABILENE.”
understand from the book of Acts; Luke is not only a physician but a master
historian as well. The precise record
provided by the Holy Spirit through his pen pinpoints the time of the beginning
of the preaching that the
Daniel “AND IN THE DAYS OF THESE KINGS SHALL THE GOD OF HEAVEN SET UP A KINGDOM, WHICH SHALL NEVER BE DESTROYED: AND THE KINGDOM SHALL NOT BE LEFT TO OTHER PEOPLE, but IT SHALL BREAK IN PIECES AND CONSUME ALL THESE KINGDOMS AND IT SHALL STAND FOREVER.”
Caesar came to power in A.D. 14 and this would place the year as A.D. 29, Herod
became tetrarch of
v2. “ANNAS AND CAIAPHAS BEING THE HIGH PRIESTS, THE WORD OF GOD CAME UNTO JOHN THE SON OF ZACHARIAS IN THE WILDERNESS.”
there two high priests in
v.3-4 “AND HE CAME INTO ALL THE COUNTRY ABOUT
had come for John to prepare the way for Jesus Christ. He moves from the Wilderness of Judea up the
Luke 1:77 “TO GIVE KNOWLEDGE OF SALVATION UNTO HIS PEOPLE BY THE REMISSION OF THEIR SINS.”
Baptism is something new, something never practiced under the Law given through Moses; though ceremonial washing was required under certain circumstances:
Leviticus 15:6 AND THE THAT SITTETH ON any THING WHEREON HE SAT THAT HATH THE ISSUE (any kind of a running sore) SHALL WASH HIS CLOTHES, AND BATHE himself IN WATER, AND BE UNCLEAN UNTIL THE EVEN.”
The emergence of John and his preaching was prophesied just as Luke quotes:
“THE VOICE OF HIM THAT CRIETH IN THE WILDERNESS, PREPARE YE THE WAY OF
THE LORD, MAKE STRAIGHT IN THE
And was recorded in all four gospel accounts.
v.5-6 “EVERY VALLEY SHALL BE FILLED, AND EVERY MOUNTAIN AND HILL SHALL BE BROUGHT LOW; AND THE CROOKED SHALL BE MADE STRAIGHT, AND THE ROUGH WAYS shall BE MADE SMOOTH; AND ALL FLESH SHALL SEE THE SALVATION OF GOD.”
Luke completes the reference to the prophesy of Isaiah in Isaiah 40 that includes the symbolic words denoting a time of preparation of the way of Christ. All obstacles will be removed, the way of God’s Son will not be blocked or impeded by any natural barriers and he closes these verses with the promise that “ALL FLESH”, Jew and Gentile will see the “SALVATION OF GOD” even the heathen:
Psalms 98:2 “THE LORD HATH MADE KNOWN THAT HIS SALVATION: HIS RIGHTEOUSNESS HATH HE OPENLY SHEWED IN THE SIGHT OF THE HEATHEN.”
Isaiah 52:10 “THE LORD HATH MADE BARE HIS HOLY ARM IN THE EYES OF ALL THE NATIONS; AND ALL THE ENDS OF THE EARTH SHALL SEE THE SALVATION OF OUR GOD.”
v.7 “THEN HE SAID TO THE MULTITUDE THAT CAME FORTH TO BE BAPTIZED OF HIM, O GENERATION OF VIPERS, WHO HATH WARNED YOU TO FLEE FROM THE WRATH TO COME?”
John would not fit in with our politically correct world today at all. He would be ostracized, even by many of our brethren for his blunt, straightforward manner of speaking and would sent many of our pew-warmers scuttling off to another congregation if invited to speak or allowed to preach in one of our pulpits today. He calls them a generation or offspring of snakes and asks them who warned them of the punishment that would be brought to them by the wrath of God because of their conduct.
v.8 “BRING FORTH FRUIT WORTHY OF REPENTANCE, AND BEGIN NOT TO SAY WITHIN YOURSELVES, WE HAVE ABRAHAM TO our FATHER: FOR I SAY UNTO YOU, THAT GOD IS ABLE OF THESE STONES TO RAISE UP CHILDREN UNTO ABRAHAM.”
speaking to Jews, descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob or
v.9 “AND NOW ALSO THE AXE IS LAID UNTO THE ROOT OF THE TREES: EVERY TREE THEREFORE WHICH BRINGETH NOT FORTH GOOD FRUIT IS HEWN DOWN AND CAST INTO THE FIRE.”
This is an illustration very commonly used and very familiar and plain to John’s Jewish listeners. Many were husbandmen of gardens, groves and orchards and they understood because when their trees failed to produce good fruit they cut them down and replaced them. This same practice is also used extensively today in fruit production. The trees removed are good for nothing except to be burned.
v.10-11 “AND THE PEOPLE ASKED HIM, SAYING , WHAT SHALL WE DO THEN? HE ANSWERETH AND SAITH UNTO THEM, HE THAT HATH TWO COATS, LET HIM IMPART TO HIM THAT HATH NONE; AND HE THAT HATH MEAT, LET HIM TO LIKEWISE.”
John’s words stirs a reaction from his hearers just as the true preaching of God’s word should from people today. They’re convicted that they need to do something to improve their lives and when they ask John tells them; share your blessings. Instruction that we find in the teaching of Jesus and the writing of his apostles:
Matthew “21Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me.”
I John 3:17 “17But whoso hath this world’s good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him?”
v.12-13 “12Then came also publicans to be baptized, and said unto him, Master, what shall we do? 13And he said unto them, Exact no more than that which is appointed you.”
The publicans were the collectors of taxes and customs for the Roman government, money to be paid into the public treasury. These men were despised by the Jews for a number of reasons, partially because they were in the employ of the ruling government and partly because many of them were corrupt, chosen from those considered to be low class, wicked people. Many earned that hate because of their practices; they worked on a commission basis. John tells them to repent and exact or collect no more that that which is appointed.
v.14 “14And the soldiers likewise demanded of him, saying, And what shall we do? And he said unto them, Do violence to no man, neither accuse any falsely; and be content with your wages.”
Soldiers came to John, asking him the same question. How should we conduct ourselves in order to be in harmony with God. These apparently were soldiers that were of Jewish ancestry also working for the Roman government. John tells them not to do violence or deal harshly with any man, reminds them of the Mosaic Law concerning dealing falsely:
Exodus 23:1 “1Thou shalt not raise a false report: put not thine hand with the wicked to be an unrighteous witness.”
And to be content with their wages. Much of their wages were provided in the form of rations, quarters and other things, just as we provide for our soldiers today.
v.15 “15And as the people were in expectation, and all men mused in their hearts of John, whether he were the Christ, or not;”
“THE PEOPLE WERE IN EXPECTATION”, they were in expectation of what or whom? Jesus the Christ, the Messiah promised by God. They were actively looking for a Messiah to come as was prophesied. John’s preaching and teaching was as directed by the Holy Spirit thus was radically different from that of the scribes and teachers of their synagogues. So they looked to him and “MUSED” or debated within themselves as to whether he was the One or not.
v.16 “John answered, saying unto them all, I indeed baptize you with water; but one mightier than I cometh, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to unloose: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire:”
John understands and answers their musing. He baptized with water only but there would be one coming after him. One who would be much more mighty than John, one whom John says he would not be worthy of even unloosing his shoe latches as a servant.
This one would baptize in the Holy Spirit and with fire. What does John mean here? Jesus did baptize with the Holy Spirit, first his apostles (Acts 2:3) and then Cornelius and his family (Acts , Acts -18) and he will “baptize” those who are disobedient to God with fire:
Matthew 25:41 “41Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels:”
v.17-18 “17Whose fan is in his hand, and he will thoroughly purge his floor, and will gather the wheat into his garner; but the chaff he will burn with fire unquenchable. 18And many other things in his exhortation preached he unto the people.”
John’s preaching is indeed different from that most of us hear today. The one who is coming will gather his follows like wheat saved from the threshing floor but those who are disobedient will be burned like the chaff and straw cleaned from the grain. This same analogy was used in prophesy by the prophet Micah.
Micah “12But they know not the thoughts of the LORD, neither understand they his counsel: for he shall gather them as the sheaves into the floor.”
v.19-20 “19But Herod the tetrarch, being reproved by him for Herodias his brother Philip’s wife, and for all the evils which Herod had done, 20Added yet this above all, that he shut up John in prison.”
John not only preached full strength exhortation to the people but he also reproved Herod the ruler of that area at that time, why?
Matthew 14:3-4 “3For Herod had laid hold on John, and bound him, and put him in prison for Herodias’ sake, his brother Philip’s wife. 4For John said unto him, It is not lawful for thee to have her.”
Herod had taken his brother’s wife and was living with her in adultery. Herodias hated John for pointing out their sin, making them an example, influenced Herod to put him in prison and eventually to kill him (Matthew ).
v.21 “21Now when all the people were baptized, it came to pass, that Jesus also being baptized, and praying, the heaven was opened,”
Jesus, as well, came to be baptized by John. Why? Jesus was the Son of God and had no sin. The reason Jesus himself gave is recorded as follows:
Matthew 3:14-15 “14But John forbad him, saying, I have need to be baptized of thee, and comest thou to me? 15And Jesus answering said unto him, Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness. Then he suffered him.”
Jesus was baptized to fulfill a requirement, to provide an example, not to remove sin. Directly after Jesus was baptized, the heavens open and we have a most unusual occurrence.
v.22 “22And the Holy Ghost descended in a bodily shape like a dove upon him, and a voice came from heaven, which said, Thou art my beloved Son; in thee I am well pleased.”
The heavens parted or opened and the Holy Spirit descended upon Jesus in the form or bodily shape of a dove. The dove, of course, is a symbol of purity, gentleness and peace. Here its form is used to fulfill prophecy:
Isaiah 11:2 “2And the spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD;”
And God voices his approval of Jesus. We’re not told whether the people surrounding them heard the words of God or not; but obviously in reviewing this record along with Matthew and Mark God was heard by both Jesus and John.
v.23 “23And Jesus himself began to be about thirty years of age, being (as was supposed) the son of Joseph, which was the son of Heli,”
When Jesus was about thirty years of age, just over thirty the way Luke’s words are formed, he began his earthly ministry. Thirty was about the time that the Levitical priests entered their service:
Numbers 4:3 “3From thirty years old and upward even until fifty years old, all that enter into the host, to do the work in the tabernacle of the congregation.”
Luke goes further and
establishes Jesus linage from David but it’s different from that found in
Matthew, why? Most scholars agreed that
it is because Matthew, writing to Jews, traced his linage back through Joseph
while Luke traces his linage back through Mary.
Both Mary and Joseph were descendants of David and of the tribe of
v.24-27 “24Which was the son of Matthat, which was the son of Levi, which was the son of Melchi, which was the son of Janna, which was the son of Joseph, 25Which was the son of Mattathias, which was the son of Amos, which was the son of Naum, which was the son of Esli, which was the son of Nagge, 26Which was the son of Maath, which was the son of Mattathias, which was the son of Semei, which was the son of Joseph, which was the son of Juda, 27Which was the son of Joanna, which was the son of Rhesa, which was the son of Zorobabel, which was the son of Salathiel, which was the son of Neri,”
These four verses take
us back about 500 years. It reaches from
the time of Jesus until the time of Zorobabel or Zerubbabel, who rebuilt the
v.28-31 “28Which was the son of Melchi, which was the son of Addi, which was the son of Cosam, which was the son of Elmodam, which was the son of Er, 29Which was the son of Jose, which was the son of Eliezer, which was the son of Jorim, which was the son of Matthat, which was the son of Levi, 30Which was the son of Simeon, which was the son of Juda, which was the son of Joseph, which was the son of Jonan, which was the son of Eliakim, 31Which was the son of Melea, which was the son of Menan, which was the son of Mattatha, which was the son of Nathan, which was the son of David,”
These four verses take us back another 500 years before the birth of Christ to the time of David, King of Israel. Again we find the linage of Joseph and Mary having reached a common ancestor, David. Joseph was descended from Solomon, Mary from Nathan, apparently an older brother or half brother of Solomon:
II Samuel 5:14 “And these be the names of those that were born unto him in Jerusalem; Shammuah, and Shobab, and Nathan, and Solomon,”
v.32 “32Which was the son of Jesse, which was the son of Obed, which was the son of Booz, which was the son of Salmon, which was the son of Naasson,”
In verse 32 we find some more ancestors that are better known to many Bible students and a Gentile ancestor of both Mary and Joseph.
Ruth 4:15-17 “15And he shall be unto thee a restorer of thy life, and a nourisher of thine old age: for thy daughter in law, which loveth thee, which is better to thee than seven sons, hath born him. 16And Naomi took the child, and laid it in her bosom, and became nurse unto it. 17And the women her neighbours gave it a name, saying, There is a son born to Naomi; and they called his name Obed: he is the father of Jesse, the father of David.”
Ruth, the great grandmother of David, was a Moabtess, a Gentile (Ruth 1:4). From David back to Adam Joseph and Mary share more ancestors that are common to both than those that are not common.
v.33-34 “33Which was the son of Aminadab, which was the son of Aram, which was the son of Esrom, which was the son of Phares, which was the son of Juda, 34Which was the son of Jacob, which was the son of Isaac, which was the son of Abraham, which was the son of Thara, which was the son of Nachor,”
Judah, Jacob, Isaac and Abraham, of course, are common to both. We find the same genealogy in reverse recorded for us by Moses in his writing of the book of Genesis:
Genesis 11:24-26 “24And Nahor lived nine and twenty years, and
begat Terah: 25And Nahor lived after he begat Terah an hundred and
nineteen years, and begat sons and daughters. 26And Terah lived
seventy years, and begat Abram, Nahor, and
v.35-36 “35Which was the son of Saruch, which was the son of Ragau, which was the son of Phalec, which was the son of Heber, which was the son of Sala, 36Which was the son of Cainan, which was the son of Arphaxad, which was the son of Sem, which was the son of Noe, which was the son of Lamech,”
In verse 36 we find Noah and Shem as we would expect since we all are descended from Noah through one of his three sons.
Genesis “10These are the generations of Shem: Shem was an hundred years old, and begat Arphaxad two years after the flood:”
v.37-38 “37Which was the son of Mathusala, which was the son of Enoch, which was the son of Jared, which was the son of Maleleel, which was the son of Cainan, 38Which was the son of Enos, which was the son of Seth, which was the son of Adam, which was the son of God.”
In these two verses we find more names that we read about in other parts of scripture: Mathusala, spelled Methuselah in other places, Enoch who walked with God and did not see death but was “NOT, FOR GOD TOOK HIM” (Genesis ) and, of course, Seth and Adam.
Genesis 5:6 “6And Seth lived an hundred and five years, and begat Enos.”
Don’t be confused by the generations of Cain given in Genesis 4:17-18. He also had descendants named Enoch, Methusael and Lamech