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The Access Bible New Revised Standard Bible, written and edited with first-time Bible readers in mind.

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Commentary on Luke

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Commentary spanning earlier chapters

4.12–17 (Mk 1.14–15; Lk 4.14–15):

The mission opens in Galilee, where the Great Commission ( 28.16–20 ) will occur.

12 :

Arrested (lit.“handed over”) is used for Judas's betrayal and the divine delivering of Jesus (see Isa 53.6 ). Withdrew, typical of Jesus' response to danger (see 12.15; 14.13 ).

13 :

Capernaum, home to Peter and Andrew, will be Jesus' own city ( 9.1 ).

15–16 :

Isa 9.1–2 . Matthew emphasizes Galilee's gentile * connection; here the Great Commission ( 28.19 ) begins.

17 :

Summarizes Jesus' message; repent reflects the Hebrew “Tshuva,” “return” or “change direction.”

4.18–25 .

18–22 (Mk 1.16–20; Lk 5.1–11; Jn 1.35–42):

The abrupt calling of the disciples is common in Hellenistic * and Hebrew stories (see 1 Kings 19.19–21 ).

23–25 :

Only Jesus teaches and proclaims.

23–24 :

Good news is “gospel.” Their synagogues * need not indicate alienation; Jesus restricts his mission to Israel ( 10.5b–6; 15.24 ).

8.1–13 :

2–4 (Mk 1.40–44; Lk 5.12–14):

Leprosy (see Lev 13–14 ) refers to various skin diseases. Lepers required priestly sanction to reenter society.

5–13 (Lk 7.1–10; Jn 4.46–53):

The gentile * centurion. Verse 7 may be read as a question—Shall I heal him?—anticipating a negative answer. Elsewhere Jesus restricts his mission to Jews ( 10.5b–6 ), and prior to the resurrection he displays reluctance at extending it to gentiles ( 15.24 ).

8 :

Matthew's Jesus never enters a gentile's home (contrast Mk 7 ).

9 :

Centurions command between 50 and 100 soldiers; here the centurion admits his helplessness and faith in Jesus' power.

11 :

May refer to Diaspora * Jews or to gentiles.

12 :

Heirs (lit. sons) of the kingdom refers in v. 13 to Jesus' followers: Even those inside the church may forfeit salvation through improper action and belief.

8.14–22 .

14–15 (Mk 1.30–31; Lk 4.38–39):

Peter's mother-in-law “serves”; the term derives from the Greek term for “deacon.” Peter's wife is not mentioned.

15–17 (Mk 1.32–34; Lk 4.40–41):

Another fulfillment citation; prior to the Gospels, this passage, like many other fulfillment citations, was not viewed as referring to the messiah. *

17 :

See Isa 53.4 . Matthew lacks Mark's commands for the demons' silence.

18–22 (Mk 4.35; Lk 8.22; 9.57–60):

Itinerancy marks Jesus' mission and that of his followers (see ch. 10 ).

19 :

Teacher is used by those who are not disciples; in Matthew, Jesus calls disciples; followers do not apply for the position.

20 :

Son of Man means “human being” (Ezek 37 ), but it also carries divine connotations (Dan 7.13–14 ).

21–22 :

Jesus' saying shocks; nothing, not even one's own family, takes precedence over service to him.

21.1–11 (Mk 1.1–11; Lk 19.28–38; Jn 12.12–18):

Preparations for Jerusalem. In Matthew (and Mark), this is Jesus' first entry into Jerusalem: Luke and John depict earlier visits. Although this event is traditionally called “Palm Sunday,” palms are mentioned only in John; in Matthean chronology, the entry occurs on Monday.

2–3 :

See comment on Mk 11.2 .

4–5 :

The ninth fulfillment citation, from Isa 62.11; Zech 9.9 .

7 :

Matthew takes literally Zechariah's poetic reference to two donkeys.

9 :

Hosanna, * originally a plea for salvation, became a festive shout. The citation comes from Ps 118.25–26 , the last Hallel Psalm sung at Passover. * One who comes has messianic connotations.

1.1–4 :

Prologue. These four verses are one complex sentence, providing a formal introduction like those in Greek and Roman histories. The first two verses state the condition (Since many have undertaken …), and the last two the result (I too decided …). Orderly account (vv. 1, 3 ) means both writing a coherent narrative * and following the sequence of what happened.

1 :

To say these events have been fulfilled among us is to affirm them as God's way of keeping the promises made in Israel's scriptures.

2 :

The servants of the word probably interpreted the scriptures and proclaimed the word ( 4.20–21; Acts 1.21–22; 13.5; 26.16 ).

3 :

Theophilus may have been a patron of the Christian community or of the writing of Luke and Acts, perhaps providing financial support (Acts 1.1 ).

4 :

The truth here means the “firm basis” or “assurance,” since Theophilus has already been instructed, perhaps as a Christian catechumen.

1.5–2.52 :

This story is told by means of two angelic announcements (annunciations) of special conceptions ( 1.5–25 , John, and 1.26–38 , Jesus), the mutual blessing of the mothers ( 1.39–56 ), two announced births ( 1.57–80; 2.1–40 ), and the return to the Temple * of the child Jesus ( 2.41–52 ). These stories echo the birth of Samuel, who anointed * David as king of Israel (1 Sam 1–2; 16.13; see also Lk 3.21–22; Acts 10.37–38 ).

1.5–25 :

The announcement of John's birth.

5 :

Herod, “the Great,” was an Idumean appointed king of the Jews by the Romans (see Mt 2; Lk 23.3, 12, 38 ). Zechariah and Elizabeth both have priestly lineage (1 Chr 24.1–19; Neh 12.4 ).

6 :

Righteous before God means they observed the law (see Simeon and Anna in 2.25 ; Joseph of Arimathea in 23.50–51 ; Paul in Acts 24.16–18 ).

7 :

In biblical history, God brought special blessing through children of once barren women (see Sarah and Isaac in Gen 16–21 , and particularly Hannah and Samuel in 1 Sam 1–2 ).

9 :

To be chosen by lot meant to be designated by God (see Acts 1.24–26 ).

10 :

The incense offering was to be made in the morning and the evening (Ex 30.7–8 ).

11 :

The angel of the Lord is God's messenger Gabriel ( 1.19; see also Dan 9.20–27 ).

12–13 :

Fear in the presence of a divine manifestation is a sign of wisdom (Prov 1.7, see also Isa 6.5–6; Lk 1.65; 2.9; 5.26; 8.37; Acts 2.43; 5.5, 11; 19.17 ).

15 :

Like Samuel (1 Sam 1.11 ), John's prophecy and spirit would not come from wine or strong drink (see also Hannah in 1 Sam 1.12–16 ), but from being filled with the Holy Spirit (see Acts 2.12–17 ).

17 :

The spirit and power of Elijah means to call Israel to prepare for God's coming by repentance (see 3.3–17 ).

18 :

Zechariah's question, “How will I know that this is so?,” is regarded as disbelief by Gabriel (see v. 20 and Gen 15.8; 17.17; 18.12–15 , and contrast with Mary's question in v. 34 ).

20 :

His mute condition is a temporary sign of judgment, awaiting inspired speech ( 1.64–79; see also Acts 13.11 ).

25 :

Her pregnancy is what the Lord has done for me (see Sarah and Hannah in Gen 16.2; 1 Sam 1.1–18 ).

1.26–38 :

The announcement of Jesus' birth.

26 :

This is the sixth month of Elizabeth's miraculous pregnancy (see 1.24 ).

27 :

Isa 7.14 prophesied that a virgin (Heb., “young woman”) will bear a son (see Mt 1.22–23 ).

28 :

To be a favored one is to be blessed by God and chosen for a special role ( 1.25, 30 ).

31 :

Jesus is a form of the common Hebrew name Joshua (“he saves,” see Mt 1.21 ).

32–33 :

The angel declares Jesus' “greatness” as fulfillment of God's promises to David and his kingdom (Ps 2; Isa 9.6–7; 2 Sam 7.12–14 ).

34 :

Mary's question, “How can this be?” is echoed as trust and wonder in her acceptance in v. 38 , “Let it be” (compare 1.18 ).

35 :

God's Holy Spirit and power overshadow Israel like a cloud to protect them from harm and shield them from God's holiness (Ex 19.16; 40.35; Lk 9.34 ). So also Mary is protected in a divine conception (see 2.48–49 ).

36 :

Elizabeth's pregnancy in her old age is a confirming sign.

37 :

Nothing will be impossible with God echoes God's word to Sarah's laughter about her pregnancy (Gen 18.11–15 ).

1.39–56 :

Elizabeth and Mary meet and prophesy.

41–42 :

The unborn child leaped in her womb in anticipation of his role (see Gen 25.22 ), and his mother spoke as a prophet * (filled with the Holy Spirit and with a loud cry). Mary is blessed both in her faithfulness ( 1.45 ) and in her bearing Jesus (see Judg 5.24; Lk 11.27–28 ).

43 :

Elizabeth's question to the mother of my Lord echoes recognition of King David (2 Sam 24.21 ) and recalls earlier messages about the Lord God ( 1.32, 45–47 ).

44–46 :

Joy and rejoicing are signs of God's blessing ( 1.14; Acts 2.46 ).

46–55 :

These verses are called Mary's “magnificat” because of the Latin translation of my soul magnifies. They closely parallel Hannah's song to God who rescues the poor (1 Sam 2 ).

47 :

God my Savior anticipates Jesus' role as Savior ( 2.11 ).

48 :

God's favor for Mary's lowliness is a sign of hope for all the lowly and hungry ( 1.52–53 ).

51–52 :

The strength with his arm is a biblical image of God's action in history (Ex 6.6 ). The proud and the powerful will no longer hide deceitful hearts (see 2.35; 11.17 ).

54–55 :

God's remembrance of mercy is a source of hope in trouble (Gen 8.1; 9.15 ) and trust in God's promise to bless Abraham (Gen 12.2–3; Acts 3.25 ).

1.57–80 :

The birth and presentation of John.

59 :

Elizabeth and Zechariah are again fully observant of the law to circumcise * John on the eighth day (Gen 17.12; Lev 12.3 ).

62 :

Motioning suggests they are coaxing a message from him in his limited means of communicating ( 1.22 ).

63–64 :

Obedience to the angel's naming the child John ( 1.13 ) restores his speech and praise of God.

66–67 :

What then will this child become?” is a question of faith (see 1.18, 34 ), prompting Zechariah's answer in inspired prophecy.

68–79 :

Zechariah's prophecy is sung in Christian worship as the “benedictus” (“Blessed be…”). Jewish prayers often pronounced a blessing on God for wonderful deeds (Ps 41.13; 72.18; 106.48 ).

69 :

The savior promised here is literally the horn of salvation (see note a, see also 2.11 ) from which a Davidic king was anointed * (1 Sam 2.10; Ps 18.2; 132.17 ).

76 :

John was the prophet * of the Most High to do the anointing * (see Acts 10.37–38 ), and Jesus was the Son of the Most High ( 1.32 ).

78 :

The dawn from on high is a promise of liberation from the darkness of captivity (Mal 4.2; Ps 107.10; Is 42.7 ).

80 :

Luke's “growth refrain” (the child grew…) echoes 1 Sam 2.21, 26 and is repeated twice for Jesus (Lk 2.40, 52 ).

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