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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

9.1–13 .

1–8 (Mk 2.1–12; Lk 5.17–26):

The paralytic's healing increases religious opposition to Jesus; the charge is blasphemy. Forgiveness of sins, a divine prerogative, traditionally followed repentance, but here the man does not explicitly repent. The saying in 9.6 appears in a different setting in Jn 5.8 ; it may have been originally preserved apart from a story.

9–13 (Mk 2.13–17; Lk 5.27–32):

Matthew, the tax collector, is called Levi in Mk 2.14 . Tax collectors and sinners are those who deliberately transgress divine commands.

12 :

A Hellenistic * proverb.

13 :

Cites Hos 6.6 (see Mt 2.7 ). The point for both Hosea and Matthew is emphasis rather than contrast; sacrifice has value, but it is meaningless without mercy.

9.14–26 .

14–17 (Mk 2.18–22; Lk 5.33–39):

On Fasting, see comment on 6.16–18 . Despite acknowledging Jesus at the baptism, * John retains his own disciples.

17 :

Matthew affirms both old and new commandments (see 5.16 ).

18–26 (Mk 5.21–43; Lk 8.40–56):

The woman and the child share gender and an implicit foreshadowing of the cross: Like the woman, Jesus will bleed; like the child, he will die; and like both, he will be restored to life.

18 :

Unlike Mark, Matthew makes clear the child is dead. Matthew shows no concern for ritual impurity for either the hemorrhaging woman or the corpse.

20 :

Hemorrhages were probably uterine. For fringe, see Num 15.38–40; Deut. 22.12 .

22 :

Made well could also be translated “saved.” Jesus praises the woman's faith.

21.12–22 .

12–17 (Mk 11.11, 15–19; Lk 19.45–48; Jn 2.13–25):

The Temple * protest.

12–13 :

The activity occurs in the Court of the Gentiles. * Selling animals and exchanging coins (many with pagan symbols) for Tyrian shekels * were necessary in order for pilgrims to participate in Temple worship. Matthew does not condemn Temple worship per se ( 5.23; 12.5–6; 17.24; 23.16–20 ), but Jesus becomes the new site of divine presence.

13 :

Den of robbers indicates not dishonesty in the Temple system (see Jer 7.1–11 ) but a haven for those who sin elsewhere.

14 :

Jesus casts out insiders and welcomes the sick.

15 :

The leaders are more concerned with the children's acclamation than with Jesus' actions.

16 :

Ps 8.2 .

18–22 (Mk 11.12–14; 20.25):

The fig tree. Matthew condenses Mark's two-stage account into an instantaneous miracle. The tree may symbolize Jerusalem and the Temple.

19 :

Fruit connotes proper action.

21–22 :

See 17.20 .

21.23–32 (Mk 11.27–33; Lk 20.1–8; Jn 2.18–22):

Temple * teaching. While Jesus teaches in the Temple, the chief priests and elders will later plot his death ( 26.3 ).

23–24 :

Jesus' opponents seek to trap him with a question, and Jesus responds in kind. Authority is a Matthean theme ( 7.29; 8.9; 9.8; 10.1; 28.17 ).

28–32 :

The parable * of the two sons is unique to Matthew. Consistent with the Gospel's themes, the parable emphasizes the importance of deeds (see 7.21–23 ) and denigrates empty promises. The Sadducees * and Pharisees * heard John the Baptist ( 3.5–7 ) but rejected his teaching.

32 :

Tax collectors and prostitutes place themselves deliberately outside the communal standards of righteousness.

1.40–2.12 .

40–44 (Mt 8.2–4; Lk 5.12–14):

The leper. Leprosy referred to a variety of skin diseases; clean indicates both healing and ritual purity required for re-entry into society. Only priests could pronounce lepers clean; the leper does not obey Jesus' commands either for silence or for priestly pronouncement.

45 :

Jesus' popularity as a healer interferes with his preaching.

2.1–12 (Mt 9.1–8; Lk 5.17–26):

The paralytic.

5 :

Granting forgiveness of sins was a divine prerogative.

9 :

The saying appears in a different context in Jn 5.8 .

10 :

The title Son of Man has both human (“mortal”) (Ezek 37.3 ) and superhuman (Dan 7.13–14, 1 Enoch * 37–71 ) connotations. Enigmatic like the parables, * the title requires hearers to determine the meaning for themselves.

11.12–25 .

12–14 (Mt 21.18–20; Lk 13.6–9):

Cursing the fig tree. Mark may intend the tree to symbolize Jerusalem; its cursing and withering ( 11.20 ) frame Jesus' entry into the city. Like the tree, the city fails to bear fruit; much of Jerusalem was destroyed during the war against Rome in 66–70 CE.

15–19 (Mt 21.12–17; Lk 19.45–48; Jn 2.13–25):

The Temple * protest. See comment on Mt 21.12–13 .

17 :

See Isa. 56.7; Jer 7.11 . The Temple was a house of prayer for all the nations; the scene is set in the Court of the Gentiles. *

18 :

The crowds support Jesus; the chief priests and scribes * replace the Pharisees * as Jesus' opponents.

20–25 :

The dead fig tree. The two-stage miracle (see 8.22–26 ) frames the entry into Jerusalem.

21 :

Rabbi means “my teacher.”

24–25 :

Mark frequently highlights prayer ( 1.35; 9.29; 11.17 ); the verses echo the Lord's Prayer (see Mt. 6.9–13; Lk 11.2–4 ).

11.27–33 (Mt 21.23–27; Lk 20.1–8; Jn 2.18–22):

Temple * teachings.

29 :

Jesus answers a question with a question and so avoids his interlocutors' trap (see 12.13–17 ). Jesus speaks not on the authority of his teachers (see 1.22 ) but on his own.

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 ).

2.1–20 :

The birth of Jesus.

1 :

Luke projects Jesus' birth against the background of the whole Roman order, all the world, while Matthew draws attention to King Herod's reign in Judea (Mt 2 ). Augustus was an honorary name of Gaius Octavius, who ruled as emperor from 31 BCE to 14 CE.

2 :

This specific registration has proved hard to establish historically (see Acts 5.37 ), but the Romans regularly used this means to establish control of taxes, lands, and military conscription.

4 :

Bethlehem was also King David's birthplace (1 Sam 16.1 ), and his origins tending sheep were legendary * (Ps 78.70–71 ).

8 :

The Roman poet Virgil also proposed that the ideal ruler would be a shepherd of the people, born among simple shepherds (Aeneid 6.791 and the fourth Eclogue).

9 :

The glory of the Lord is the blazing light of divine presence (Ex 16.10; 24.17 ).

11 :

Caesar Augustus was also acclaimed as Savior and Lord, and Christians would later face consequences for confessing, “Jesus is Lord.” But in this context these titles are as thoroughly Jewish and scriptural as the title messiah * or “anointed * one” is for Israel's king.

12–20 :

Without asking for confirmation (see Zechariah in 1.18 ), the shepherds are given the sign of the child in the manger, and they are exemplary in telling what they had heard and seen (see Acts 1.1–5 ).

2.21–40 :

The circumcision * and presentation of Jesus.

21–24 :

In circumcising and naming Jesus on the eighth day and again at the purification, Joseph and Mary obey the law and the command of the angel (Lev 12.4–8; Lk 1.59; 2.39 ).

25 :

The consolation of Israel and the redemption of Jerusalem (v. 38 ) are formal terms expressing the hope of the righteous and devout in God's promises to Israel (see also 23.50–51; 24.21 ). Simeon is emphatically credited with the presence of the Holy Spirit (vv. 25, 26, 27 ), and the major struggle or plot of Luke's story is disclosed in his two oracles. *

28–32 :

Simeon's first oracle is a blessing of God, declaring the significance of the child in God's thoroughly positive purpose to fulfill Israel's calling (see Isa 49.6; 52.10 ) to be a light to the Gentiles * (all non-Jewish peoples). Acts 1.6–8 also recalls Isa 49.6 .

34 :

Simeon's second oracle is a severe blessing of Jesus' human parents, declaring Jesus as destined or “set” by God for both judgment and hope in Israel because of the opposition this child will evoke as the sign (see also 2.12; Isa 8.18 ) of God's purpose.

35 :

God's initiative will uncover people's inner thoughts or secret purposes, provoking suffering.

36–37 :

Anna's credentials as a prophet * and a widow (see Acts 2.18; 6.1 ) complement Simeon's.

2.41–52 :

The child Jesus in the Temple. This is the only story in the New Testament about Jesus' childhood beyond his birth. The apocryphal * “infancy Gospels” tell other stories which are thorough fictions.

41 :

Passover * (Ex 12.1–27 ) was a major occasion for pilgrimages to Jerusalem, and in Luke, Jesus does not return to Jerusalem until his last Passover ( 19.28–48; 22.1 ).

46 :

Jesus' engagement with the teachers in the temple * foreshadows later encounters where their opposition will be evident ( 20.20–21, 27–28, 39–40; 21.5–7; 22.53 ).

48–49 :

Luke regards Joseph as Jesus' earthly father (your father and I, see also 2.27, 33, 41 ), but the evangelist is emphatic about God's agency in Jesus' conception so that Jesus is God's son and the Temple is his Father's house (see also 3.22–23 ).

52 :

This concluding “growth refrain” again echoes 1 Samuel 2 and the story of John (1.80 ).

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