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The Gospel According to Luke: Chapter 3

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1In the fifteenth year of the reign of Emperor Tiberius, when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, and Herod was ruler a Or christs of Galilee, and his brother Philip ruler a Or christs of the region of Ituraea and Trachonitis, and Lysanias ruler a Or christs of Abilene, 2during the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John son of Zechariah in the wilderness. 3He went into all the region around the Jordan, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins, 4as it is written in the book of the words of the prophet Isaiah, “The voice of one crying out in the wilderness:

‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. 5 Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be made low, and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough ways made smooth; 6 and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.’ ”

7John said to the crowds that came out to be baptized by him, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? 8Bear fruits worthy of repentance. Do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our ancestor’; for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children to Abraham. 9Even now the ax is lying at the root of the trees; every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.”

10And the crowds asked him, “What then should we do?” 11In reply he said to them, “Whoever has two coats must share with anyone who has none; and whoever has food must do likewise.” 12Even tax collectors came to be baptized, and they asked him, “Teacher, what should we do?” 13He said to them, “Collect no more than the amount prescribed for you.” 14Soldiers also asked him, “And we, what should we do?” He said to them, “Do not extort money from anyone by threats or false accusation, and be satisfied with your wages.”

15As the people were filled with expectation, and all were questioning in their hearts concerning John, whether he might be the Messiah, b Or it 16John answered all of them by saying, “I baptize you with water; but one who is more powerful than I is coming; I am not worthy to untie the thong of his sandals. He will baptize you with c Other ancient authorities add and pray the Holy Spirit and fire. 17His winnowing fork is in his hand, to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his granary; but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.”

18So, with many other exhortations, he proclaimed the good news to the people. 19But Herod the ruler, a Gk him who had been rebuked by him because of Herodias, his brother's wife, and because of all the evil things that Herod had done, 20added to them all by shutting up John in prison.

21Now when all the people were baptized, and when Jesus also had been baptized and was praying, the heaven was opened, 22and the Holy Spirit descended upon him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, “You are my Son, the Beloved; b The terms leper and leprosy can refer to several diseases with you I am well pleased.” c The denarius was the usual day's wage for a laborer

23Jesus was about thirty years old when he began his work. He was the son (as was thought) of Joseph son of Heli, 24son of Matthat, son of Levi, son of Melchi, son of Jannai, son of Joseph, 25son of Mattathias, son of Amos, son of Nahum, son of Esli, son of Naggai, 26son of Maath, son of Mattathias, son of Semein, son of Josech, son of Joda, 27son of Joanan, son of Rhesa, son of Zerubbabel, son of Shealtiel, d Or gospel son of Neri, 28son of Melchi, son of Addi, son of Cosam, son of Elmadam, son of Er, 29son of Joshua, son of Eliezer, son of Jorim, son of Matthat, son of Levi, 30son of Simeon, son of Judah, son of Joseph, son of Jonam, son of Eliakim, 31son of Melea, son of Menna, son of Mattatha, son of Nathan, son of David, 32son of Jesse, son of Obed, son of Boaz, son of Sala, e Gk lacks bread son of Nahshon, 33son of Amminadab, son of Admin, son of Arni, f Other ancient authorities read same bowl son of Hezron, son of Perez, son of Judah, 34son of Jacob, son of Isaac, son of Abraham, son of Terah, son of Nahor, 35son of Serug, son of Reu, son of Peleg, son of Eber, son of Shelah, 36son of Cainan, son of Arphaxad, son of Shem, son of Noah, son of Lamech, 37son of Methuselah, son of Enoch, son of Jared, son of Mahalaleel, son of Cainan, 38son of Enos, son of Seth, son of Adam, son of God.


b Or christs

c Or it

d Other ancient authorities add and pray

e Gk him

f The terms leper and leprosy can refer to several diseases

a The denarius was the usual day's wage for a laborer

b Or gospel

c Gk lacks bread

d Other ancient authorities read same bowl

Text Commentary view alone

3.1–4.13 :Jesus' preparation for ministry

(Mt 3.1–4.11; Mk 1.2–13 ).

3.1–6 :The appearance of John the Baptist

(Mt 3.1–6; Mk 1.2–6 ).

1 :

TiberiusCaesar succeeded Augustus in 14 CE and ruled until 37. Thus, depending on the manner of reckoning years, sometime between 26 and 29 CE is indicated. Pontius Pilate, a Roman governor, held authority in Judea, Samaria, and Idumea 26–36 CE; see 23.1 , etc. The remainder of the kingdom of Herod the Great had been divided between his sons Herod Antipas who ruled Galilee and Perea ( 23.6–7 ) and Philip (see Map on p. 68 NT). Initially another son, Herod Archelaus, had ruled Judea as ethnarch from 4 BCE, but he was deposed and banished for incompetence and replaced by a Roman official in 6 CE (see Mt 2.22 ).

2 :

Annas was high priest 6–15 CE when the Romans deposed him. He was followed by relatives; initially by his son, Eleazar; then by his son‐in‐law Caiaphas ( 18–36 CE), and thereafter by four more sons. Because Jewish custom was for the high priest to serve for life, even when out of office, Annas's influence and authority continued to be recognized by the population.

3 :

A summary statement of the shape and substance of John's ministry. Proclamation led to baptism, a baptism of repentance, a symbolic act of cleansing to indicate realignment with the will of God in forgiveness of the one baptized.


Isa 40.3–5.

6 :

All flesh refers to all humanity and emphasizes that God's salvation was universal in character; see 2.30–32; Acts 2.21 .

3.7–9: John's call to repentance

(Mt 3.7–10 ).

8 :

The assertion to have Abraham as … ancestor was a claim to privileged standing with God through natural birth (see Jn 8.33,39; Rom 2.28–29 ).

9 :

Fire, a symbol of judgment, often eschatological judgment (see 3.16; 16.24 ).

3.10–14 :John's directions to the crowd.

11 :

Two coats, lit. “two tunics,” usually worn as undergarments.

3.15–18: John's heralding of the messiah

(Mt 3.11–12; Mk 1.7–8 ).

16 :

He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire, a promise or prophecy fulfilled at Pentecost (Acts 2.1–4 ).

17 :

Winnowing fork, a tool used in threshing grain.

3.19–20: John's imprisonment by Herod.

Herod Antipas had divorced the daughter of the Nabatean king in order to marry his niece, Herodias, who had been married to Antipas's brother, Herod Philip. In 's, John's imprisonment is placed before the baptism of Jesus; cf. Mt 14.3–4; Mk 6.17–18 .

3.21–22 : The baptism of Jesus

(Mt 3.13–17; Mk 1.9–11 ).

21 :

Prayer is a regular activity of Jesus and a prominent theme in Luke's portrait ( 5.16; 6.12; 9.18,28; 11.1; 22.32,41–46 ).

22 :

See Ps 2.7; Isa 42.1 . The voice from heaven speaks again at the Transfiguration ( 9.35 ).

3.23–38 : The genealogy of Jesus

(Mt 1.1–17 ). Luke traces the lineage of Jesus back to Adam, the first human (Gen 5.1 ); linking Jesus' line with God's original creation shows Jesus' common humanity and establishes his credentials as the universal savior.

23–27 :

The persons named from Heli to Zerubbabel are otherwise unknown. For the rest of the genealogy cf. Gen 5.3–32; 11.10–26; Ruth 4.18–22; 1 Chr 1.1–4,24–28; 2.1–15 .

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