Luke

4:14-22

The mission of the Messiah, 1:5-9:50

2. Testimonies to the Messiah, 2:41-4:30

vi] Witness of Jesus' inaugural ministry. 4:14-30

a) Good news for the poor

Synopsis

Jesus, the son of a village carpenter in Nazareth, is now quite famous "through the whole countryside." Returning home, he attends the local synagogue on the Sabbath and is invited to read the scriptures. The eyes of all in the synagogue are fixed on Jesus as he reads from Isaiah 61:1-2. Isaiah is writing about the promised release of captive Israel from the Babylonian bondage, and does so in terms of the Year of Jubilee, that special time when all slaves are set free and debts retired, cf. Lev.25. Having read the words, Jesus announces to the congregation that what they have heard read to them is fulfilled this very day; now is the year of the Lord's favor.

 
Teaching

The passage reveals Messiah's role as a rejected servant, a servant rejected by his own people, and this in the Year of the Lord's Favor, the Year when God's people, enslaved by powers secular and satanic, are set free.

 
Issues

i] Context: See 2:41-53. The witness of Jesus' inaugural ministry, 4:14-30, serves as the sixth episode of the second section of Luke's gospel, Testimonies to the Messiah, 2:41-4:30, episodes which give witness to the coming messiah and tell us something of his messianic character. For preaching purposes, this episode is divided into two parts, Good news for the poor, v14-22, and God's love is universal, v22-30.

 

ii] Structure: This narrative, The witness of Jesus' inaugural ministry, presents as follows:

A summary of Jesus' Galilean ministry, v14-15;

Jesus' reading and exposition of Isaiah's prophecy concerning the Servant of the Lord, v16-21;

Setting, v16-17;

Jesus reads and expounds scripture, v18-21;

"today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing."

Rejection at Nazareth, v22-30:

The questioning of the congregation, v22;

"isn't this Joseph's son?"

A proverb on rejection, v23-27;

"no prophet is accepted in his hometown."

The hostile response of the congregation, v28-29;

Jesus withdraws, v30.

 

Some commentators argue for a Chiastic structure covering v16-20.

 

iii] Interpretation:

The witness to Jesus' person is particularly evident in the texts quoted by Jesus in v18-19. The quote seems to be a composite extract from Isaiah: 61:1, 58:6, 61:2, probably because they are the texts Jesus used in his address, rather than the actual passage he read. These texts establish that Jesus is an Elijah/Elisha type prophet announcing the coming of the kingdom, but the wider context implies that not only does he proclaim the coming kingdom, in terms of the long-awaited Jubilee year (freedom, release of slaves, wiping of debts ...), but as the messiah, he actually institutes the Jubilee himself - he is the one "anointed ... to release the oppressed". Although an exegetical stretch, it is possible to read in these texts the methodology that Jesus employs to inaugurate the Jubilee. Given the context of Isaiah 58, Jesus the messiah / faithful Israel, is the one setting at liberty those who are oppressed by breaking the bonds of wickedness in his own life on behalf of a faithless Israel that practises fasting rather than justice. So, we are set free in the righteousness of Christ. This proposition is sound, although not quite established by these verses.

 

Who are the poor? This debate is never ending. The possibilities include the following: a) Those in the covenant community who are without abundant wealth because they have not extorted their fellow Israelites; b) Those who have become materially poor because of their loyalty to the covenant community (the persecuted); c) Poor humanity in general, the materially poor; d) The poor in spirit, those broken before God and who desire the restoration of their relationship with him.

Option (d) seems best, such that the poor are those who yearn for the dawning of the kingdom of God and it is they for whom the message is proclaimed. So, it is likely that the message is for "seekers", "the lost", those who are seeking to find their way out of bondage, seeking for a better place. Of course, in its original context, the lost are the lost/poor of Israel, but the descriptor now applies to all humanity. The invitation for those who seek that better place is no longer just for "the poor" of Israel.

 

iv] Exposition: A simple exposition of this passage may be found in the linked pew-level Sermon Notes.

 
Text - 4:14

i] Luke first gives us a summary of Jesus' Galilean ministry, v14-15. Jesus has stood the test in the wilderness and followed this up with a time of ministry in Galilee. He made a powerful impact and received wide support. Luke's comment, "in the power of the Spirit", may refer to the impact of the gospel in signs (miracles) and word, although "under the guiding hand of the Spirit" is probably what Luke intends

en + dat. "in" - in, with, by, to. This preposition, forming the adverbial prepositional phrase "in the power of the Spirit", modal, expressing manner, modifying the verb uJpestreyen "returned", espresses space/sphere, as NIV, so "empowered, or full of the Spirit", or accompaniment, "equipped with the power of the Spirit", Barclay, NJB, or instrumental where the Spirit guides Jesus in the exercise of his ministry, so "by the power of the Spirit." "Under the power of the Spirit", Goodspeed.

tou pneumatoV (a atoV) gen. "[the power] of the Spirit" - The genitive is ablative, expressing source/origin.

fhmh (h) "news" - report. Probably in a neutral sense as NIV and not in the sense of the English transliteration, "fame". "The whole countryside was talking about him", Barclay.

peri + gen. "about [him]" - about. Reference; "concerning, with reference to." Either the news about Jesus, so NIV, or about his return to Galilee in the Spirit.

kaq (kata) + gen. "through" - Spacial; "throughout".

thV pericwrou (oV) "the [whole] countryside" - surrounding region. Probably meaning "throughout Galilee" rather than "everywhere", CEV.

 
v15

edidasken (didaskw) imperf. "he taught" - he was teaching. Imperfect expressing ongoing action, probably iterative, repeated action; "he went on teaching", Barclay.

doxazomenoV (doxazw) perf. pas. part. "everyone praised [him]" - being praised [by all]. Attendant circumstance participle, or adverbial, consecutive, expressing result; "[and as a result] everyone sang his praises", REB. A strong word, usually reserved for God. The cause of the praise is usually attributed to Jesus' miracles, although Luke links it to his teaching.

 
v16

ii] Jesus is invited to read the scriptures in his home-town synagogue and having read from Isaiah 61:1-2, he announces to the congregation, people who knew his parents and had watched him grow up, that the scripture has been fulfilled in their hearing this very day, v16-21.

a) Setting, v16-17: From a very small child Jesus was "brought up" (raised) in Nazareth, and as was typical of devout Jews, would have regularly attended the local synagogue. On visiting his home town, Jesus maintains "his custom", and attends the Sabbath service. Following the resurrection, Christian Jews continued to visit their local synagogue when able to do so, Ac.17:1f. Note that a rabbi would stand to read the scriptures and sit to expound them. Luke tells us in v17 that Jesus is given the privilege of reading and expounding the scriptures. The intention of this verse is to show that Jesus probably read the passage assigned to him, most likely using the Lectionary of the time, and then proceeded to draw out particular texts to comment on, ie., "he found" means he found what he wanted to comment on. Of course, it could just mean that "he found the place on the page / in the scroll."

kai "-" - and. Connective - can be left untranslated; "then he went to Nazareth."

ou| adv. "where" - Genitive relative pronoun serving as a locative adverb.

h\n teqrammenoV (trefw) perf. pas. part. "he had been brought up" - he had been fed, nourished, reared. The perfect participle with the imperfect verb to-be forms a periphrastic pluperfect construction, possibly serving to emphasize aspect = duration of living in Nazareth as a child and young man. In the sense of "raised"; "where he had grown up", NAB.

en + dat. "on" - in. Temporal use of the preposition.

twn sabbatwn (on) gen. "the Sabbath" - [in the day] of the Sabbath. The genitive is adjectival, attributive, limiting "day"; "the Sabbath day."

kata + acc. "as was" - according to. Expressing a standard; "in accordance with, corresponding to."

autw/ dat. pro. "his" - to him. The dative is instrumental, association / accompaniment, lit. "according to the thing that was customary with him"; "and as usual he went to the synagogue on the Sabbath."

to eiwqoV (eiwqa) perf. part. "custom" - the thing that was customary. The participle functions as a substantive. "As was his habit", Bock. Displaying Jesus as a pious Jew.

anagnwnai (anaginwskw) aor. inf. "to read" - The infinitive probably expresses purpose, "he stood up [in order] to read." An essential element in the synagogue service was the reading of scripture. The teacher stands to read and sits to teach. There was probably a cycle of readings, first a reading from the Torah followed by a reading from the Prophets. The reading was in Hebrew with a translation in Aramaic, Aramaic being the local language of Palestine at the time.

 
v17

tou profhtou (oV) gen. "[the scroll] of the prophet" - The genitive is adjectival, attributive, limiting "scroll / book", although with accrued idiomatic sense; "the scroll which contains the writings of Isaiah the prophet", "the roll containing the prophecies of Isaiah", Barclay.

autw/ dat. pro. "to him" - Dative of indirect object.

anaptuxaV (anaptussw) aor. part. "unrolling" - having unrolled. The participle is adverbial, probably temporal; "and when he unrolled the scroll."

euJren (euJriskw) aor. "he found" - he found. The fact that Jesus found the reading in the scroll possibly indicates that it wasn't a set reading, since if set, the scroll would have already been open ready for the reader. Of course, it could just mean that Jesus "found", as in "found on the page."

ou| adv. "where" - Local; see above.

hn gegrammenon "it is written" - it had been written. The imperfect of the verb to-be with the perfect participle forming a periphrastic pluperfect. Establishing a tense separation between the reading Jesus found, aorist, and what was written.

 
v18

b) Jesus reads and expounds the scripture, v18-21: The passage is from Isaiah and is made up of a number of different texts, probably the texts Jesus preached on rather than read. The speaker in Isaiah is the Servant of the Lord, and Jesus ends up identifying himself with the Servant. Jesus, as the Servant, was set apart by God to both proclaim the coming day of redemption and achieve that redemption for the oppressed remnant (the "lost" - "poor", "captive", "blind"). "The year of the Lord's favour", or the acceptable year, is the year of Jubilee, the fiftieth year when all slaves are released and debts are forgiven, Lev.15. The Jubilee images the coming kingdom of God when forgiveness is offered even to Gentiles, and it is to this end the Servant serves.

kuriou (oV) gen. "[the Spirit] of the Lord" - The genitive is likely to be ablative, source/origin, "the Spirit poured out from the Lord", although adjectival, possessive is possible, "the Lord's Spirit has come to me", CEV.

epi "is on [me]" - over, upon. Spacial. Expressing the fact that the Spirit has come upon Jesus to enable his ministry, which ministry he is "consecrated", set apart, to perform. This ministry is defined in the four following infinitival phrases: "to communicate ..", "to proclaim ..", "to release .." and "to preach .. (v19)."

ei{neken + gen. "because" - because of, for the sake of. Causal preposition introducing a causal clause, although led by the neut. rel. pro. ou|, "because of which", the sense may be inferential, "for this reason / therefore [he anointed me]." "Anointed" in the sense of commissioned to undertake a particular task, which task is carried in the verb apestalken, "he has sent me", modified by the four adverbial infinitives.

ou| "-" - [because of] which. Here the genitive relative pronoun is actually a genitive relative pronoun and not an adverb of place; see above.

euaggelisasqai (euaggelizw) aor. inf. "to preach good news" - to communicate. The infinitive is adverbial, expressing purpose, although most likely modifying the verb apestalken, "he has sent", and not ecrisen, "he anointed", so Culy. In the NT the word usually includes the content of the communication, namely the announcement of the coming kingdom of God and the invitation to enter ("repent and believe"). The word by itself simply means "important communication." "The spirit of the Lord is upon me, forasmuch as he has anointed me, has sent me with good tidings for the lowly", Torrey, so also Cassirer. "He has sent me to announce good news to the poor, to proclaim release to prisoners, and ...", REB.

ptwcoiV dat. adj. "the poor" - poor. Dative of indirect object, identifying for whom the preaching is performed. The adjective is used here as a substantive.

apestalken (apostellw) perf. "he has sent [me]" - The perfect tense indicating a past commissioning with ongoing application. "He has commissioned me."

khruxai (khrussw) aor. inf. "to proclaim" - to preach. The infinitive again forms a purpose clause.

afesin (iV ewV) "freedom" - forgiveness, remission, pardon, freedom from captivity. Clearly taping into slavery imagery, the exodus and the exile, but obviously now rightly in the sense of "freedom from the slavery/oppression of sin", so "forgiveness."

aicmalwtoiV (oV) dat. "the prisoners" - captives, prisoners. Dative of indirect object identifying for whom the announcement of freedom is performed.

anableyin (iV ewV) "recovery of sight" - restoration of sight. Obviously a spiritual sense is intended. Due to their sin, the people are blind to the Word of God and this because divine revelation is now withheld and spiritual sensitivity dulled. In Christ, the day has dawned when lost humanity will again know the living God.

tufloiV dat. adj. "for the blind" - The adjective serves as a substantive, dative of interest, advantage, as NIV, or simply dative of indirect object.

aposteilai (apostellw) aor. inf. "to release / to set [the oppressed] free" - to send forth / let go. Here the weaker sense "let go" is intended. Infinitive again expresses purpose. Here, not just proclaiming, but actually doing. The release of the captives is very much a messianic function, rather than prophetic, and this function Jesus takes to himself. This Exodus/exile image finds some literal application in that under the jurisdiction of Rome Israel was still in bondage, although as far as the post exilic prophets are concerned, the failure of the restoration of Israel pushed fulfilment into the spiritual realm. Israel's problem is that she remains in the bondage of sin, held by the powers of darkness. It is this enemy that Christ will defeat and whose captives he will free.

en afesei (iV ewV) "-" - [to release] in freedom, liberty. The preposition here forms a modal adverbial phrase expressing manner, modifying the infinitive "to release"; "to send away in freedom those who have been broken by life", Barclay.

teqrausmenouV (qrauw) perf. pas. part. "the oppressed" - ones having been oppressed. The participle serves as a substantive; "the down-trodden", Cassirer.

 
v19

khruxai (khrussw) aor. inf. "to proclaim" - Introducing the fourth and final infinitival construction where the infinitive is adverbial, expressing purpose; "in order to proclaim."

eniauton (oV) "the year" - year, period. Accusative object of the infinitive "to proclaim."

kuriou (oV) gen. "[the year] of the Lord's" - of Lord. The genitive is ablative, of source, identifying the agent of the acceptable / favorable year; "this is God's year to act!", Peterson.

dekton adj. "favor" - acceptable, welcome, agreeable / favorable. Attributive adjective limiting eniauton, "year". Either "acceptable", "to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord", Phillips, ie. the year in which God's will and purpose in Christ is operative for salvation, or "favorable", "to proclaim the favorable year of the Lord", ie. the year in which the Lord bestows his favour. Both ideas can relate to the fulfilment of the Jubilee, Leviticus 25, the fiftieth year when slaves are released, debts cancelled, etc. Thus, in Christ, the Jubilee is spiritually realized, which, of course, is the point Jesus draws from the texts - "this very day this scripture has been fulfilled."

 
v20

ptuxaV (ptussw) aor. part. "he rolled up [the scroll]" - [and] having rolled up [the book]. The participle is adverbial, probably temporal, as NIV.

apodouV (apodidwmi) aor. part. "gave it back" - having given back. Attendant circumstance participle expressing action accompanying the participle "having rolled up" and thus the temporal sense continues.

uJphreth/ (hV ou) dat. "the attendant" - assistant. Dative of indirect object.

ekaqisen (kaqizw) aor. "sat down" - he sat down. A teacher would normally sit down to teach; "he took the preacher's seat", Barclay.

pantwn gen. adj. "[the eyes] of everyone" - The genitive is adjectival, possessive.

hsan atenizonteV "were fastened [on him]" - were focused. With the dative autw/ = focused "on/at" (dative of direct object). The imperfect of the verb to-be with the present participle forming a periphrastic imperfect constructioo. The word expresses an intense focused gaze and is used by Luke at important moments when people's attention is concentrated, eg. the ascension; "everyone in the meeting place looked straight at Jesus", CEV.

 
v21

hrxato (arcw) aor. "he began" - [and] he began. The use of this word differs depending on the context. Often it simply serves to emphasize the importance of what is said. "Then he proceeded to say to them", Weymouth; "then he started in", Peterson.

legein (legw) pres. inf. "to say" - Complementary infinitive completing the sense of the verb "began".

oJti "-" - Here introducing a dependent statement, direct speech, expressing what Jesus said.

shmeron adv. "today" - The position is emphatic serving to underline the fact that the fulfilment of Isaiah's prophecy is "now", salvation is "now".

peplhrwtai (plhrow) perf. pas. "is fulfilled" - has been fulfilled, completed. The perfect tense expressing a past act with ongoing consequences - "has come true and is happening now", TH. "This passage of scripture (from Isaiah) has come true", Barclay.

en toiV wsin uJmwn "in your hearing" - in the ears of you. The preposition ev is probably adverbial, temporal, serving to introduce a temporal clause; "The text is being fulfilled today even while you are listening", NJB. It is unclear what is "in the ears." Is it the scripture, or that which is fulfilled. Probably the latter - the promise is being realized at the moment of their hearing. The sense of the words "in the ears" may imply significance, namely that the one to whom the words refer is speaking to them and/or, the inward hearing requires a response. On the other hand, the words may just express the act of hearing.

 
v22

c) Clearly, Luke has only summarized Jesus' sermon, but he does take the time to describe the congregations response, v22. As far as Luke is concerned, the response of the congregation bears testimony to the fulfilment of Isaiah's words in Jesus. The congregation is "amazed" at Jesus' message of grace, although their amazement does not move them to faith. Jesus' audience is faced with a dilemma, they can remember Jesus as a child and so find it difficult to accept him as anything more than a Rabbi (teacher), and even this is difficult given his trade as a carpenter / builder.

emarturoun (marturew) imperf. "spoke well of" - [all] was witnessing, bearing testimony to, speaking of. "Witnessing" in the sense of giving testimony concerning something, and so possibly the people bear testimony in the sense of "approved of / were impressed with", "he won the approval of all", NJB. Yet, the question that follows evidences skepticism on the part of the congregation, so possibly a more general "everyone noticed what he said", Phillips. It is even possible that the following dative of direct object autw/ is to be read as a dative of interest, disadvantage; "everyone spoke up against him, amazed at ....."

autw/ dat. pro. "him" - Dative of direct object after the verb emarturoun.

eqaumazon (qoumazw) imperf. "were amazed" - The imperfect indicating ongoing action. Amazement is an important initial response to the gospel; it is the kind of response a person makes when confronted with a theophany. Note how Mark plays with this response: his gospel begins and ends with people being amazed. "Amazement" is a pre faith response, but sadly, for most, it is their only response to Christ. From Luke's perspective, the people's response of amazement serves as a testimony that Isaiah's words were being fulfilled in Jesus.

epi + dat. "at" - A spacial sense, "at", is likely, although this preposition at times introduces a causal clause; "on the basis of = because of [the gracious words that were coming from his mouth."

thV caritoV (iV itoV) gen. "the gracious [words]" - [the words] of grace. Possibly an objective genitive, so "words about the grace of God", but it is more likely an adjectival genitive, attributive, limiting "words", as NIV, "gracious words." The word "grace" is handled in many and varied ways here: "winning words", Goodspeed; "how well he spoke", Thompson; "the wonderful things he said", CEV; "the beautiful words", Phillips; "astonished at his eloquence", Rieu; "the words of charm", Montgomery. Yet, it is more likely that the descriptive "grace" = the gracious power of God most notably evident in salvation, but particularly here in Jesus' words, cf. Nolland, ie. they were amazed at his message, not his presentation; "Jesus speaks gracious words", Bock. "They were astonished that words of such grace should fall from his lips", REB.

toiV ekporeuomenoiV (ekporeuomai) pres. part. "that came" - coming out. The participle is adjecival, attributive, "which were coming out."

ek + gen. "from" - Expressing source/origin.

ouci "[Isn't this Joseph's son?]" - This negation is used where a question presumes a positive answer. The question evidences the skepticism of the congregation. They knew Jesus well, they saw him grow up as a runny nosed child, so how could he be the messiah? Well the adage applies: familiarity breeds contempt.

 

Luke Introduction

Exposition

 

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