Luke

4:22-30

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

b) God's love is universal

Synopsis

Luke continues the story of Jesus' preaching mission in his home-town synagogue at Nazareth, 4:14-30. The congregation was impressed with Jesus' confident reading of the scriptures, but were less than impressed with his application of the prophet's words. "Whereas people were willing enough to hear a general exposition on the blessings of the Messianic Age, it was a different matter when they were taunted with unpatriotic notions from the prophets; when the coming Messianic Age was somehow identified with the humble teacher who now sat before them and whose parents were their own neighbors. From admiration the congregation turned to anger, and the mob intended to lynch Jesus", W. Browning.

 
Teaching

This is the first time, in Luke's gospel, where Jesus is rejected by the people of Israel. The congregation's demand for a sign not only evidences a rejection of the gospel and of the notion of a suffering servant messiah, but of Jesus' person. Consequently they are a people who are themselves rejected. Luke uses the episode as a sign of troubles to come and of the movement of the gospel from Israel to the Gentiles.

 
Issues

i] Context: See 4:14-21.

 

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.

 

iii] Interpretation:

Clearly, Luke has only summarized Jesus' sermon, but he does take the time to describe the congregation's response. We are unsure what has actually got the crowd agitated. They are obviously impressed with Jesus' reading of the scriptures, possibly some of his exposition, but the application of the passage to himself prompts a strong reaction. It seems likely that they think Jesus has claimed the status of prophet, but they may have picked up on his messianic application of the Isaiah passage as well. Given their knowledge of Jesus' origins, they are not impressed.

 

What point is Jesus making in v23-27? Jesus' words may imply that miracles fall within the divine will of God and are not something that Jesus, as with the prophet Elijah, can stage when he wants to. Yet, given the context, it does seem likely that Jesus' is making the point that Israel's faithlessness in the past, during the time of Elijah and Elisha, resulted in the replacement of grace with chastisement (the famine), and a shift of divine mercy from Israel to Gentiles. By rejecting Jesus, the people of Nazareth are aligning themselves with that rebellious generation of long ago, and thus are denying themselves divine grace.

 

Jesus' Judean ministry. Although the story appears early in Luke's gospel, it actually presupposes an extended previous ministry; Jesus already has considerable fame. The visit is most likely the same as that recorded in Matthew 13 and Mark 6. For Luke, it serves to end Jesus' Judean ministry (little of which is recorded in the gospels) and inaugurate his Galilean ministry.

 

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

 
Text - 4:22

Jesus' ministry in Nazareth: i] Luke has just given us a summary of Jesus' sermon and now he takes the time to describe the congregations response, v22. In typical fashion, Jesus, having just read and translated some verses from the Hebrew text of Isaiah, now, as a visiting Rabbi, expounds their meaning. The congregation is impressed by Jesus' sermon; they are amazed at his message of divine grace. For Luke, this initial response witnesses to Jesus' true character. Yet, the congregation is skeptical; they know of Jesus' origins. As a boy, Jesus had played in their streets and some even knew of the hurried marriage of Mary and Joseph and the rather early arrival of their first child. So, his authority is not easily accepted. The reference to Joseph may simply be a restating of Jesus' name; "Jesus Barjoseph" = "Jesus, Son-of-Joseph", or it could serve to link Jesus with Joseph, a well-remembered citizen (now likely dead).

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.

 
v23

ii] Jesus condemns the congregation for their little faith, v23-27. Amazement and skepticism is not a worthy response for the arrival of Israel's messiah. If the people of Nazareth refuse to believe they place themselves with rebellious Israel of old who witnessed God's grace pass them by; Naaman and the widow of Zarephath were blessed while Israel was left wanting. God's grace is unlocked with hearing and believing, not with genetics.

eipen (eipon) aor. "[Jesus] said [to them]" - Possibly "Jesus answered them", indicating that Jesus' reply is an indirect response to the question put by the people in v22. Jesus doesn't address the insult directed toward him (always a good policy - never complain and never explain), but rather, addresses the substance of their doubt, namely, that if Jesus is really something more than just Joseph's bastard son, where's the evidence?

pantwV adv. "Surely" - by all means, doubtless, no doubt. Expressing strong affirmation indicating that Jesus is sure he understand's what the people are thinking. "You are bound to quote the proverb to me", Barclay.

epeite (eipon) fut. "you will quote" - you will speak. Probably not a prophetic future tense, but rather indicating what is now on their mind; "you are on the point of saying", Nolland.

thn parabolhn (h) "proverb" - parable, illustration. A common saying, so "proverb" as NIV. The proverb is critical of those who claim the ability to act for others when they seem unable to act for themselves.

moi dat. pro. "to me" - Dative of indirect object.

seauton pro. "[heal] yourself" - Reflective pronoun. Obviously referring to Jesus, but somewhat incongruous, given the explanation of the proverb in the following clause. Usually understood to mean "you profess, so now produce", Godet, Ellis, Plummer, Bock. "Show your stuff!"

oJsa rel. pro. "what [we have heard]" - everything which, as much as. Introducing a relative clause which functions as the direct object of poihson, "do"; "do ...... everything which we heard ..." "Everything / all such things" = the miracles they had heard about.

genomena (ginomai) aor. part. "that you did" - having happened. The participle forms an object clause / dependent statement of perception expressing what the people had heard, namely, that Jesus had performed miracles in Capernaum. Did the congregation actually believed that Jesus did do anything worthy of note in Capernaum? They are certainly sceptical of Jesus' credentials and Jesus knows it, but are probably keen to see some magic tricks - signs and wonders. "All that we have heard about you doing", Barclay.

 
v24

The term, "I tell you the truth", "truly I say unto you", possibly equates with the Old Testament phrase, "thus saith the Lord." Luke uses it six times, and on each occasion the phrase introduces a prophetic word concerning the coming kingdom of God. So here, Jesus reminds his audience of Israel's tendency to reject their prophets, and aligns this with his own rejection, not just by the citizens of Nazareth, but by Israel as a whole. Of course, in rejecting Jesus the "prophet" they actually reject the messiah.

amhn "the truth" - truly [I say to you]. A phrase that serves to give weight to what follows, even possibly a "thus saith the Lord."

eipen de "he continued" - but he said. "He added", Phillips.

oJti "-" - that. Here introducing a dependent statement of direct speech.

oudeiV "no [prophet is accepted in his hometown]" - For Jesus, a statement of truth, but it has become a common proverb. Possibly explaining why Jesus' former neighbors have found it so difficult to believe in him, but more likely a prophetic observation about Israel's ongoing rejection of those who bring a word from the Lord to them. Certainly this seems to be Luke's point, although note Mark 6:4.

dektoV adj. "accepted" - welcomed, acceptable. The adjective serves as a predicate nominative. As in the sense of "receive", "because people of a town do not wish to accept one of their fellow townsmen as a prophet"*. Bock suggests a wordplay in that Jesus has proclaimed the "acceptable" year of the Lord, but he, even as a prophet, is not "acceptable" to the people of Israel.

en + dat. "in [his hometown]" - Expressing space/sphere.

 
v25

Only Luke records the Elijah and Elisha sayings, alluding to 1 Kings 17-18 and 2 Kings 5:1-14, v25-27. During this time in history, Israel faced God's chastisement for their rebellion. What few blessings that did flow from God at this time, flowed to Gentiles rather than Jews. Jesus is making the point that God in the past has turned from rebellious Israel and has ended up blessing outsiders. The congregation's rejection of Jesus serves only to align them with the foolishness of that previous generation.

de "-" - but, and. Possibly adversative; "but in truth, I tell you", ESV.

epi alhqeiaV "I assure [you]" - upon truth [I say to you]. Here the preposition epi functions adverbially, forming an adverbial phrase virtually synaonymous with alhqwV, "truly", so Culy. Serving to underline the veracity of what follows. "I can assure you", NJB.

en taiV hJmeraiV Hliou "in the days of Elijah" - Here the preposition en functions adverbially forming a temporal phrase; "in Elijah's day", NJB.

en + dat. "in [Israel]" - Expressing space/sphere; "in the land of Israel."

oJte + ind."when" - Serving to form a definite temporal clause.

ekleisqh (kleiw) aor. pas. "was shut" - was shut up, closed. "When no rain fell for three and a half years", Rieu.

epi + acc. "for [three and a half years]" - Temporal use of the preposition expressing an extent of time, as NIV.

wJV "-" - as, like / while. Here with a temporal sense and so serving to introduce the second temporal clause, possibly with consecutive force, ie. the famine was a consequence of the drought.

epi + acc. "throughout" - over, on, upon. Spacial use of the preposition.

thn ghn (h) "the land" - "people everywhere in the land of Palestine were starving."

 
v26

kai "yet" - and. Here the not so common sense of "and yet" expressing surprise, ie. adversative. It is a surprising situation when God's blessings flow to a Gentile rather than a Jew. Such a situation should serve as a warning to a people who, like an earlier generation of Israelites, are similarly devoid of faith.

oudemian adj. "not [sent to] any" - not one, no one. Stressing that Elijah was sent to no Israelite during that faithless time.

autwn gen. pro. "of them" - The genitive is adjectival, partitive.

epemfqh (pempw) aor. pas. "sent" - [and yet to none of them Elijah] was sent. An example of a divine passive, so "God did not send Elijah to any of them."

ei mh "but [to a widow]" - except [...... to a widow]. Introducing an exceptive clause which establishes a contrast; "however, but only, except that, instead."

Zarepta "Zerephath" - A town North of Israel between Tyre and Sidon.

 
v27

This second illustration repeats the point made in the first, namely that the people's defiant rejection of God's word in Jesus aligns them with a previous generation (Israel of Elisha's time) who similarly ignored God's word and so failed to experience His blessings.

kai "and" - Here coordinative, as an additive, so "and".

leproi adj. "with leprosy" - leprosy. Here as a substantive, "there were many lepers in Israel."

en + dat. "in [Israel]" - Expressing space/sphere.

epi + gen. "in the time of [Elisha]" - Temporal use of the preposition; "during the period when Elisha the prophet was serving Israel."

kai "yet" - and yet. Again the adversative use of this conjunction.

oudeiV "not one" - no one. A strong negation emphasizing that no Israelite was touched by God's kindness.

autwn gen. pro. "of them" - Partitive, as above.

ei mh "only" - except. Exceptive, as above.

ekaqarisqh (kaqarizw) aor. pas. "was cleansed" - A divine (theological) passive identifying God as the agent of the action. Aorist for a punctiliar action.

 
v28

iii] Faced with Jesus' words of condemnation, the congregation explodes in anger and acts to run him out of town, v28-29. The congregation intends to hustle him out of the village and thus, symbolically mark him out as a Gentile.

kai "-" - and. Here connective, introducing a new sentence so untranslated as NIV.

eplhsqhsan (pimplhmi) aor. pas. "were furious" - [all] were filled [of anger]. The genitive qumou, "of anger", is adjectival, of content, "full of anger" = "furious". The strong reaction of the crowd indicates that Jesus' words are highly provocative. The people display similar fury at the stoning of Stephen. "Everyone in the synagogue was furiously angry", Phillips.

akounteV (akouw) pres. part. "when they heard [this]" - hearing. The participle is adverbial, temporal, as NIV.

 
v29

anastanteV (anisthmi) aor. part. "they got up" - getting up, rising up. Attendant circumstance participle expressing action accompanying the verb "they drove out"; "they got up and drove him out of town." Possibly adverbial, consecutive, " so they got up ...." "They rose from their seats", Barclay.

exebalon (ekballw) aor. "drove" - they drove out, cast out / sent out. The first sense, expressing the use of force, is probably what is intended here. "Hustled him out of town", NJB.

exw + gen. "out" - outside of. Spacial.

e{wV "to" - up to, as far as / until, when. Here spacial; "they took him up to the brow of the hill."

ofruoV "the brow" - the edge. Nazareth was not built on the top of a hill, but on its side, so it is unclear where the crowd actually takes Jesus. Probably just to the lower gate.

tou orouV (oV) gen. "of the hill" - of the hill, mountain. The genitive is adjectival, partitive.

ef (epi) + gen. "on [which]" - upon, on. Spacial.

w/kodomhto (oikodomew) pluperf. pas. "was built" - had been built. Pluperfect expressing a past state which is the result of a previous action. Probably intensive, expressing the abiding results of the action.

wJste + inf. "in order" - so that, in order that. This construction usually forms a consecutive clause expressing result, but sometimes final expressing purpose, as here - so, expressing their unfulfilled desire.

katakrhmnisai (katakrhmnizw) aor. inf. "to throw [him] down the cliff" - to throw down a slope. Not necessarily off a cliff. This looks more like an excommunication than an attempted murder. If the crowd regarded him as a false prophet they would have set about stoning him, but it is likely that they are just bundling him out of town by the lower gate. "Purposing to throw him down headlong", Torrey.

 
v30

iv] Jesus withdraws, v30. Jesus' "passing through them on his way" is a rather enigmatic expression, but probably simply describes Jesus regaining his composure at the edge of town, eyeing the people off and walking through them on his way. As John in his gospel often puts it, "his hour had not yet come." Jesus must go the "way" of Calvary and not even the powers of darkness can interfere with this divine "way". Also, Jesus' "passing through them" may be a resurrection image following on from the crucifixion image in v29.

autoV de "but he" - Emphatic position, with de being adversative.

dielqwn (diercomai) aor. part. "walked" - having gone, passed through, gone through, went through. Attendant circumstance participle expressing action accompanying the verb "was walking away", as NIV. Often a miracle is proposed here, although there would be nothing unusual in Jesus picking himself up, dusting himself off, staring the crowd down and walking straight through them and on his way.

dia + gen. "[right] through" - through (in time or place) [midst]. Here instrumental, spacial.

autwn gen. pro. "the crowd" - them. The genitive is adjectival, partitive. "He walked straight through the middle of them", Barclay.

eporeueto (poreuomai) imperf. "went on his way" - he was walking away, going away. The imperfect expressing a past ongoing action (descriptive). It is hard to read this word as if implying that God's hand is directing Jesus, although obviously the Spirit is doing just that.

 

Luke Introduction

Exposition

 

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