Luke 4:16-30

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Home > The New Testament > Luke > Chapters 4b-9a > Verses 4:16-30
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  • Luke 4:17: Esaias. "Esaias" is the Greek form of the Hebrew "Isaiah." Remember that the name "Isaiah" means almost the same thing as the name "Jesus," "the Lord is salvation."
  • Luke 4:17. We don’t know how synagogue worship in Christ’s day was conducted, but a century or so later it was like this: two formal prayers, a reading from the Torah and a reading from the Prophets, a sermon that consisted of an explanation of a scriptural passage, and a priestly blessing on the congregation. We assume it was similar in Christ’s time. It seems, then, that Jesus was asked to give the sermon. Presumably following custom, he stands to read from the Old Testament prophets, then he seats himself to comment on the passage.
  • Luke 4:18. "Christ" and "Messiah" are the Greek and Hebrew words, respectively, for "anointed one."
  • Luke 4:17: Poor. The Greek work translated "poor" in this quotation, does not refer to individual poor people. Instead, it refers to the state of being poor.
  • Luke 4:18. Notice that Jesus has inserted a line that is not in Isaiah 61:1-2: “to preach deliverance to the captives.” That line comes from Isaiah 58:6.
  • Luke 4:21: Hath sent. As with the verb translated "hath sent" (verse 18), the verb translated "is fulfilled" indicates that the fulfillment has been completed.
  • Luke 4:21. Luke gives us only the beginning of his sermon. Many ancient writers did this as a way of naming an entire work, though usually they did so when the material they referred to was well know, just as we often refer to hymns by their first line rather than by their title. Jesus’ sermon may have been well known in Luke’s time, so he didn’t feel he needed to repeat it. Or it may have been interrupted and not finished.
  • Luke 4:22: Gracious. The word translated "gracious" also means "favorable, pleasurable, beneficial, pleasing," but this isn’t so much a comment about Jesus’ preaching style as it is about the content of his preaching: "words of grace" rather than "graceful words."
  • Luke 4:23. According to the NET footnotes, the idea in verse 23 is that Jesus should “heal himself” (i.e. in their eyes) by showing unto them the signs he did in Capernaum.
  • Luke 4:25-26. Jesus compares himself to Elijah ("Elias" in Greek). Notice that 1 Kgs 17:1 says that the drought lasted three years, but Luke has Jesus say that it lasted for three years and six months (cf. James 5:17). Three years and six months is a standard number used in apocalyptic literature for times of persecution, stress, and struggle (cf Dan 7:25 and 12:7; and Rev 11:2, and 12:6 and 14). Either Luke or Jesus seems to be using the standard number to make a point rather than to be historically accurate.
Interestingly the miracles Jesus refers to reference the themes of food, power over death and harm, and a recognition by Gentiles of who is the true God, the true water: the very three temptations (to perform miracles) with which Satan tempts Jesus.
  • Luke 4:28. Though the people respond with anger, what Jesus has here said might almost be read as a comforting message to the Jews: though Jesus will work with the gentiles and the Jews will reject Him, this does not indicate that He has forgotten them or ultimately rejected them. The Lord is still committed to Israel just like He was when His prophets (Elijah and Elisha) worked outside of Israel (that is, with gentiles) in times past. In short: He will not forget Israel anymore than Elijah and Elisha did. In the end, this teaching might express some of the same grace, favor, and hope one sees in Isaiah 61:1-2.
In the end, the imagery might be even more fitting, given the post-exilic backdrop expressed in verse 4 (of the Isaiah quotation).

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  • Luke 4:17. Why would the custom be to stand when they read the scriptures but sit when they commented on them?
  • Luke 4:17. Why do you think Jesus chooses Isaiah 61 for the scriptural passage that he will use for his sermon?
  • Luke 4:17. What is there in these verses that reinforces Luke’s themes in his gospel? Why might Luke want to draw these themes to the attention of his readers near the beginning of his gospel?
  • Luke 4:18. The phrase "he hath sent me" uses a verb that indicates that the action is completed: he has sent me and I have arrived. What does that tell us about Jesus’ preaching?
  • Luke 4:18. This is one of the few places, perhaps the only one, where Luke uses the Greek word translated "heal" for anything other than physical ailments. What does "heal the brokenhearted mean" in a Gospel context?
  • Luke 4:18. What does it mean to free the captives? To whom or what are they captive?
  • Luke 4:18. Who are the blind whom Jesus says he has come to heal? What can they not see?
  • Luke 4:19. Here is another way to translate this verse: "To proclaim the Lord’s year of grace (i.e., the Jubilee year)" (cf. Lev 25:8-55. How are the practice of the Jubilee year and the preaching of the Gospel related? How is the message that Christ has come the message of a Jubilee year?
  • Luke 4:21. Jesus begins his commentary with "This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears." What would his listeners have understood him to say?
  • Luke 4:22. The verb translated "bear witness" means "to testify," "to acknowledge the truth of something," or "to speak well of." How do those who hear him bear witness of him?
  • Luke 4:22. The verb translated "wonder" is in a tense that means that its action continued indefinitely. We might translate this "continued to wonder." What point is Luke making?
  • Luke 4:22. What do his hearers find truthful and pleasing? Why are they surprised? If they are surprised that Joseph’s son can do what he has done in their synagogue, how do you think they are most likely to explain what has happened?
  • Luke 4:23. Why does Jesus show signs to others, but not to those in his hometown of Nazareth?
  • Luke 4:23. Given the villagers’ response to his sermon, what is surprising about his response to them? How do you explain his response?
  • Luke 4:23. What does "Physician, heal thyself" mean and how is it related to the sentence that follows: "Do here in your region whatever we have heard that you did in Capernaum"? Isn’t that a reasonable request? Of what is Jesus accusing them?
  • Luke 4:24. Why does Jesus keep quoting scriptures and proverbs in response to claims made against him (cf. his quoting of Deuteronomy when tempted by Satan in Matt 4)?
  • Luke 4:24. Why does Jesus begin this pronouncement with "amen," translated "verily"? Haven’t we, in verse 22, seen them accept him? What point is he making?
  • Luke 4:25-27. Why didn’t Elijah and Elisha help Israelites, but only non-Israelites? What good were these prophets to Israel if the prophets didn’t actually help Israel?
  • Luke 4:26-27. Jesus here cites the two miracle prophets as going only to those outside of Israel, yet the Old Testament recounts miracles these prophets did in Israel. Is Jesus wresting the scriptures here? Or is there more to the story than at first appears? How can this be read? Might this reflect Luke's undeniable theme of how the gospel eventually goes to the Gentiles (cf. Romans 9 and Jacob 5)?
  • Luke 4:28. Why does Jesus' scripture-quoting response infuriate the people, enough even to want to kill him (cf. Isa 6:9ff)? Are there scriptures that infuriate us?
  • Luke 4:30. Might this miraculous escape be read as being an ironic sign in answer to the demanding request in verse 23?
  • Luke 4:30. Notice the restraint of Luke’s description of Jesus’ escape: he simply passed through their midst and went on his way. What do you make of that restraint? What is its effect in the story as a whole?


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