Luke 4


Christ's temptation, 1-13.

Teaches in the synagogues of Galilee, 14, 15.

He preaches tn a synagogue at Nazareth, 16-28.

They attempt to kill him, 29, 30.

He preaches in Capernaum, 31, 32,

and casts out a demon, 33-37.

Heals Peter's mother-in-law, and various others, 38-41.

He goes to the desert, and preaches afterwards in the synagogues

of Galilee, 42-44.


Verse 1. Was led by the Spirit] Or, And was carried about,

ηγετο. Matthew says, αςηχθη, he was brought up. Mark says,

the Spirit driveth him εκβαλλει-putteth him forth. But each of

the evangelists attributes this to the Holy Ghost, not to Satan.

It may be useful to remark here, that, during the forty days and

forty nights in which he is said to have been tempted by the

devil, he is carried about, continually sustained and supported,

by the Holy Ghost. Let those who are tempted by Satan look for,

and, in virtue of the power and intercession of Christ, claim, the

same support; and it matters little how many days they may be

assaulted by the devil, while they are carried about by the

Spirit of God.

Verse 7. If thou-wilt worship me] This temptation is the last in

order, as related by Matthew; and it is not reasonable to suppose

that any other succeeded to it. Luke has here told the

particulars, but not in the order in which they took place. See

every circumstance of this temptation considered and explained in

the notes on Mt 4:1-11.

Verse 14. Returned in the power of the Spirit] εντηδυναμειτου

πνευματος, In the mighty power of the Spirit. Having now conquered

the grand adversary, he comes in the miracle-working energy of the

Spirit to show forth his power, godhead, and love to the people,

that they might believe and be saved. He who, through the grace of

God, resists and overcomes temptation, is always bettered by it.

This is one of the wonders of God's grace, that those very things

which are designed for our utter ruin he makes the instruments of

our greatest good. Thus Satan is ever duped by his own

proceedings, and caught in his own craft.

Verse 15. And he taught in their synagogues] We do not find that

even the persecuting Jews ever hindered Christ or his disciples

from preaching in their synagogues. Is it the same in every place

where even the Christian religion is established by law? Would

Jesus, or his apostles, or their most Scriptural representatives,

be permitted to preach in one out of a thousand churches, in

certain countries, unless they were strictly conformed to their

external ecclesiastical customs? Nor even then, unless their

doctrine were according to the taste of the managers and of the


Glorified of all.] All felt the power of his preaching, and

acknowledged the divinity of his mission. The scandal of the cross

had not yet taken place.

Verse 16. To Nazareth, where he had been brought up] It is

likely that our Lord lived principally in this city till the 30th

year of his age; but, after he entered on his public ministry, his

usual place of residence was at the house of Peter, in Capernaum.

As his custom was] Our Lord regularly attended the public

worship of God in the synagogues; for there the Scriptures were

read: other parts of the worship were very corrupt; but it was the

best at that time to be found in the land. To worship God publicly

is the duty of every man, and no man can be guiltless who neglects

it. If a person cannot get such public worship as he likes, let

him frequent such as he can get. Better to attend the most

indifferent than to stay at home, especially on the Lord's day.

The place and the time are set apart for the worship of the true

God: if others do not conduct themselves well in it, that is not

your fault, and need not be any hinderance to you. You come to

worship GOD-do not forget your errand-and God will supply the lack

in the service by the teachings of his Spirit. Hear the saying of

old Mr. Herbert:-

"The worst speak something good: should all want sense,

God takes the text, and preacheth p-a-t-i-e-n-c-e."

A man may always profit where the word of God is read.

Stood up for to read.] The Jews, in general, sat while they

taught or commented on the Sacred Writings, or the traditions of

the elders; but when they read either the law or the prophets they

invariably stood up: it was not lawful for them even to lean

against any thing while employed in reading.

Verse 17. And when he had opened the book] αναπτυζας, When he

had unrolled it. The Sacred Writings used to this day, in all the

Jewish synagogues, are written on skins of basil, parchment, or

vellum, sewed end to end, and rolled on two rollers, beginning

at each end; so that, in reading from right to left, they roll off

with the left, while they roll on with the right. Probably the

place in the Prophet Isaiah, here referred to, was the lesson for

that day; and Jesus unrolled the manuscript till he came to the

place: then, after having read, he rolled it up again, and

returned it to the officer, Lu 4:20, the ruler of the synagogue,

or his servant, whose business it was to take care of it. The

place that he opened was probably the section for the day. See the

table at the end of Deuteronomy, and the note at the end of that


Verse 18. The Spirit of the Lord] This is found in Isa 61:1;

but our Lord immediately adds to it Isa 42:7. The proclaiming of

liberty to the captives, and the acceptable year (or year of

acceptance) of the Lord, is a manifest allusion to the proclaiming

of the year of jubilee by sound of trumpet: see Le 25:9, &c., and

the notes there. This was a year of general release of debts and

obligations; of bond-men and women; of lands and

possessions, which had been sold from the families and tribes

to which they belonged. Our Saviour, by applying this text to

himself, a text so manifestly relating to the institution above

mentioned, plainly declares the typical design of that


He hath anointed me] I have been designed and set apart for this

very purpose; my sole business among men is to proclaim glad

tidings to the poor, &c. All the functions of this new prophet are

exercised on the hearts of men; and the grace by which he works in

the heart is a grace of healing, deliverance, and illumination;

which, by an admirable virtue, causes them to pass from sickness

to health, from slavery to liberty, from darkness to light,

and from the lowest degrees of misery to supreme eternal

happiness. See Quesnel. To those who feel their spiritual

poverty, whose hearts are broken through a sense of their sins,

who see themselves tied and bound with the chains of many evil

habits, who sit in the darkness of guilt and misery, without a

friendly hand to lead them in the way in which they should go-to

these, the Gospel of the grace of Christ is a pleasing sound,

because a present and full salvation is proclaimed by it; and the

present is shown to be the acceptable year of the Lord; the

year, the time, in which he saves to the uttermost all who

come unto him in the name of his Son Jesus. Reader! what dost thou

feel? Sin-wretchedness-misery of every description? Then come to

Jesus-He will save THEE-he came into the world for this very

purpose. Cast thy soul upon him, and thou shalt not perish, but

have everlasting life.

Verse 20. Were fastened on him.] Were attentively fixed on him.

The proper import of ατενιζοντεςαυτω.

Verse 22. At the gracious words] To the words of grace, επιτοις

λογοιςτηςχαριτος, or the doctrines of grace, which he then

preached. It is very strange that none of the evangelists give us

any account of this sermon! There was certainly more of it than is

related in Lu 4:21.

To-day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears; which seems to

have been no more than the first sentence he spoke on the

occasion. Had it been necessary for our salvation, it would have

been recorded. It was a demonstration to those Jews, that Jesus,

who preached to them, was the person of whom the prophet there

spoke: it was not designed for general edification. Let us make a

good use of what we have got, and we shalt not regret that this

sermon is lost. The ear is never satisfied with hearing: we wish

for another and another revelation, while sadly unacquainted with

the nature and design of that which God's mercy has already given


Verse 23. Physician, heal thyself] That is, heal the

broken-hearted in thy own country, as the latter clause of the

verse explains it; but they were far from being in a proper spirit

to receive the salvation which he was ready to communicate; and

therefore they were not healed.

Verse 24. No prophet is accepted] See on Mt 13:55-57.

Verse 25. In the days of Elias] See this history, 1Ki 17:1-9,

compared with 1Ki 18:1-45. This was evidently a miraculous

interference, as no rain fell for three years and six months, even

in the rainy seasons. There were two of these in Judea, called the

first and the latter rains; the first fell in October, the

latter in April: the first prepared the ground for the seed, the

latter ripened the harvest. As both these rains were withheld,

consequently there was a great famine throughout all the land.

Verse 26. Unto none of them was Elias sent, save unto Sarepta]

The sentence is elliptical, and means this: To none of them was

Elias sent; he was not sent except to Sarepta; for the widow at

Sarepta was a Sidonian, not a widow of Israel. PEARCE.-Sarepta

was a pagan city in the country of Sidon, in the vicinity of


Verse 27. None of them was cleansed] This verse is to be

understood as the 26th; for Naaman, being a Syrian, was no leper

in Israel.

The meaning of these verses is, God dispenses his benefits when,

where, and to whom he pleases. No person can complain of his

conduct in these respects, because no person deserves any good

from his hand. God never punishes any but those who deserve it;

but he blesses incessantly those who deserve it not. The reason is

evident: justice depends on certain rules; but beneficence is

free. Beneficence can bless both the good and the evil;

justice can punish the latter only. Those who do not make this

distinction must have a very confused notion of the conduct of

Divine Providence among men.

Verse 28. Were filled with wrath] They seem to have drawn the

following conclusion from what our Lord spoke: "The Gentiles are

more precious in the sight of God than the Jews; and to them his

miracles of mercy and kindness shall be principally confined."

This was pretty near the truth, as the event proved. Those who

profit not by the light of God, while it is among them, shall have

their candle extinguished. The kingdom of God was taken from the

Jews, and given to the Gentiles; not because the Gentiles were

better than they were, but because, 1st. The Jews had forfeited

their privileges; and 2dly. Because Christ saw that the Gentiles

would bring forth the fruits of the kingdom.

Verse 29. The brow of the hill] Mr. Maundrel tells us that this

is still called "the Mountain of the Precipitation, and is half a

league southward of Nazareth. In going to it, you cross first over

the vale in which Nazareth stands; and then going down two or

three furlongs, in a narrow cleft between the rocks, you there

clamber up a short but difficult way on the right hand; at the top

of which you find a great stone standing on the brink of a

precipice, which is said to be the very place where our Lord was

destined to be thrown down by his enraged neighbours." Maundrel's

Journey, p. 116. Edit. 5th. 1732.

Verse 30. Passing through the midst of them] Either he shut

their eyes so that they could not see him; or he so overawed them

by his power as to leave them no strength to perform their

murderous purpose. The man Christ Jesus was immortal till his time

came; and all his messengers are immortal till their work is done.

The following relation of a fact presents a scene something

similar to what I suppose passed on this occasion: A missionary,

who had been sent to a strange land to proclaim the Gospel of the

kingdom of God, and who had passed through many hardships, and was

often in danger of losing his life, through the persecutions

excited against him, came to a place where he had often before, at

no small risk, preached Christ crucified. About fifty people, who

had received good impressions from the word of God, assembled: he

began his discourse; and, after he had preached about thirty

minutes, an outrageous mob surrounded the house, armed with

different instruments of death, and breathing the most sanguinary

purposes. Some that were within shut the door; and the missionary

and his flock betook themselves to prayer. The mob assailed the

house, and began to hurl stones against the walls, windows, and

roof; and in a short time almost every tile was destroyed, and the

roof nearly uncovered, and before they quitted the premises

scarcely left one square inch of glass in the five windows by

which the house was enlightened. While this was going forward, a

person came with a pistol to the window opposite to the place

where the preacher stood, (who was then exhorting his flock to be

steady, to resign themselves to God, and trust in him,) presented

it at him, and snapped it; but it only flashed in the pan! As the

house was a wooden building, they began with crows and spades to

undermine it, and take away its principal supports. The preacher

then addressed his little flock to this effect: "These outrageous

people seek not you, but me; if I continue in the house, they will

soon pull it down, and we shall be all buried in its ruins; I will

therefore, in the name of God, go out to them, and you will be

safe." He then went towards the door; the poor people got round

him, and entreated him not to venture out, as he might expect to

be instantly massacred; he went calmly forward, opened the door,

at which a whole volley of stones and dirt was that instant

discharged; but he received no damage. The people were in crowds

in all the space before the door, and filled the road for a

considerable way, so that there was no room to pass or repass. As

soon as the preacher made his appearance, the savages became

instantly as silent and as still as night: he walked forward; and

they divided to the right and to the left, leaving a passage of

about four feet wide for himself and a young man who followed him,

to walk in. He passed on through the whole crowd, not a soul of

whom either lifted a hand, or spoke one word, till he and his

companion had gained the uttermost skirts of the mob! The

narrator, who was present on the occasion, goes on to say: "This

was one of the most affecting spectacles I ever witnessed; an

infuriated mob, without any visible cause, (for the preacher spoke

not one word,) became in a moment as calm as lambs! They seemed

struck with amazement bordering on stupefaction; they stared and

stood speechless; and, after they had fallen back to right and

left to leave him a free passage, they were as motionless as

statues! They assembled with the full purpose to destroy the man

who came to show them the way of salvation; but he, passing

through the midst of them, went his way. Was not the God of

missionaries in this work? The next Lord's day, the missionary

went to the same place, and again proclaimed the Lamb of God, who

taketh away the sin of the world!"

Verse 31. Came down to Capernaum] Which it is likely he made his

ordinary place of residence from this time. See Clarke on Mt 4:13.

Verse 32. His word was with power.] ενεξουσια, With authority.

He assumed the tone and manner of a new Lawgiver; and uttered all

his doctrines, not in the way of exhortation or advice, but in the

form of precepts and commands, the unction of the Holy Spirit

accompanying all he said. See Clarke on Mr 1:22.

Verse 33. A spirit of an unclean devil] As demon was used both

in a good and bad sense before and after the time of the

evangelists the word unclean may have been added here by St. Luke,

merely to express the quality of this spirit. But it is worthy of

remark, that the inspired writers never use the word δαιμων,

demon, in a good sense. See the whole of this case explained,

Mr 1:23, &c.

Verse 35. And hurt him not.] Though he convulsed him, Mr 2:26,

and threw him down in the midst of them, probably with the design

to take away his life, yet our Lord permitted it not; and this

appears to be the meaning of the place. The spirit was not

permitted essentially to injure him at that time.

Verse 37. The fame] ηχος, the sound. This is a very elegant

metaphor. The people are represented as struck with astonishment,

and the sound goes out through all the coasts; in allusion to the

propagation of sound, by a smart stroke upon any substance, by

which the air is suddenly agitated, and conveys the report made by

the stroke to distant places. So this miracle was told to others

by those who saw it, and they to others still, till it was heard

through all the coasts of Galilee, Mr 1:28.

Verse 38. Simon's wife's mother] See Clarke on Mt 8:14-17. As

soon as Peter began to follow Christ, his family began to benefit by it.

It is always profitable to contract an acquaintance with good men.

One person full of faith and prayer may be the means of drawing

down innumerable blessings on his family and acquaintance. Every

person who knows the virtue and authority of Christ should

earnestly seek his grace in behalf of all the spiritually diseased

in his household; nor can he seek the aid of Christ in vain.

Verse 40. When the sun was setting] And consequently the Sabbath

ended, for before this it would have been unlawful to have brought

their sick to be healed.

Verse 42. And the people sought him] Rather, Sought him

earnestly. Instead of εζητουν, sought, I read, επεζητουν,

earnestly sought. This reading is supported by ABCDFLMS-V, and

more than seventy others. Wetstein and Griesbach have both

received it into the text. The people had tasted the good word of

God, and now they cleave to Christ with their whole heart. Hearing

the words of Christ, and feeling the influence of his Spirit upon

the soul, will attract and influence the heart; and indeed nothing

else can do it.

And stayed him] Strove to detain him; κατειχοναυτον they

caught hold of him. Thus showing their great earnestness to be

farther instructed.

Verse 43. I must preach the kingdom of God to other cities] To

proclaim the kingdom of God was the Messiah's great work; healing

the diseases of the people was only an emblematical and secondary

work, a work that was to be the proof of his goodness, and the

demonstration of his authority to preach the Gospel, and open the

kingdom of heaven to all believers.

SOME have found both a difficulty and a mystery in the shutting

up of heaven in the time of the Prophet Elijah. It was, no doubt,

emblematical of the hardened and impenitent state of the

Israelites, and of the judgments of God in withholding those

Divine influences which they had so often abused. As to the

difficulty of the six months, which both our Lord here, and St.

James, Jas 5:17, mention, and which are not mentioned in the book

of Kings whence the account is taken, it may be easily understood

thus. The rains, we have already seen, fell in Judea twice in the

year, about April, and about October. At this latter period, when

the rain was expected, the prophet prayed that it might not rain;

the rain therefore of Marchesvan, or October, &c., was then

restrained: this restraint continued for three full years; but six

months had elapsed from Nisan, April, &c., when they had their

last rain, add these six months to the three full years that the

rain was restrained at the prayer of Elijah, and then we have the

period of three years and six months, according to our Lord and

Saint James. By this the justice of God was shown: but behold his

mercy in that rain of grace which fell so abundantly by the

preaching of Christ during the three years and six months of his

public ministry! Thus the difficulty is solved, and the mystery

explained. Reader, the most awful famine is a famine of the word

of God: thou art not yet tried in this way: behold the goodness

and severity of God! While thou hast the light, walk as a child of

the light; and let it not be thy curse and condemnation, that

while others, by reading and hearing the word of God, are

plenteously watered, thy fleece alone should be found dry. How

unutterable must the wo of those be, who live and die infidels

under the preaching of the Gospel of Christ! Let him that readeth,


Copyright information for Clarke