Exegesis of Luke 4:16-30
Word Count: 2738 (excluding scripture 435)
Master of Arts
Luke – Acts: A Pentecostal Reading
Lecturer: Dr David Parker
Southern Cross College
Chester Hill Campus – Distance Education
Date Due: 8th May 2009
Handed in: XXXXXXXXX
Declaration of Authorship
I hereby declare that this submission is my own work and that, to be best of my knowledge and belief, it contains no material previously published or written by another person nor material which to a substantial extent has been accepted for the award of any other degree or diploma of a university or other institution of higher learning, except where due acknowledgement is made in the acknowledgements.
Signed: John Shadlow Date: XXXXXXXX
Table of Contents
Authorship and Date. 3
Occasion and Purpose. 4
Exegesis: Luke 4:16-30 – Rejection at Nazareth. 6
Setting of the Reading (4:16-17) 7
Cycle 1: Scripture Reading (4:18-19) 8
Cycle 1: Interpretation (4:20-21) 11
Cycle 1 Response: Initial Question from Crowd (4:22) 11
Cycle 2: Proverb and Historical Setting of Their Rejection (4:23-27) 12
Cycle 2 Response: Crowd’s Anger (4:28-29) 13
Jesus’ Departure (4:30) 13
To the Original Recipients. 14
To Us. 14
Luke 4:16-30 is a pivotal passage in the context of Luke’s Greek historiography. Jesus has been baptised and anointed by the Holy Spirit (3:22) and empowered by the Holy Spirit (4:14) and now Jesus comes to His programmatic inaugural address in Luke 4:16-30. Jesus declares that the new Messianic age has arrived bringing with it the ultimate “Jubilee” and with it the “release” from sin and bondage. However, Jesus also declared that this release was not just for Israel but all humanity and all classes of person including the widows, the unclean and the foreigners. This was too much for the people to tolerate; it did not fit with their concept of Messiah. The people reject both Jesus and His message declaring Him a false prophet and worthy of death. Jesus also rejects the Nazarenes and never returns.
This cycle of declaration and rejection would be played out again and again as Jesus enters Jerusalem and as the Apostles declare the Gospel in Acts. Ultimately the promise to “Abraham and his seed” would be accepted by the Gentiles to the point where by the end of Acts the church is a Gentile church and totally separate from the synagogues.
The choice is ever before us to accept or reject the message of Jesus; as the Nazarenes discovered there is no middle ground.
In the exegesis of Luke 4:16-30 the main theme is the first major speech by Jesus’ setting out His program of teaching and Messianic claims. The passage also portrays the role of Jesus in God’s plan.
Authorship and Date
There is no indication in the text of either Luke as to who was the author; however, this does not mean that the work was anonymous. The work is dedicated to Theophilus (Luke 1:3) and he would no doubt be aware of the author.
The oldest extant copy of the Gospel that is dated between 175 – 225C.E. contains the title “Gospel according to Luke” which is found at the end of the text. The second most ancient witness supporting the Lucan authorship is the Muratorian Canon that is dated 170 – 180C.E. We cannot say with absolute certainly that Luke is the author; equally there are no definitive arguments against the Lucan authorship. In this situation we should assume that the traditions and memories of the early church that go back to the first readers of the Gospel are correct in stating the Luke is the author.
Luke’s Gospel is unique in two ways. Firstly, it is the longest Gospel. In Novum Testamentum Graece, Luke occupies 96 pages while Matthew, Mark and John occupy 87, 60 and 73 pages respectively. Secondly, it is the only Gospel with a sequel (Acts). The two volumes not only allow Luke to introduce Jesus but also details how His ministry relates to the early church era. Luke is the only Gospel author to link the coming of salvation in Jesus to the preaching, teaching and mission of the early church to both Jew and Gentile. The message of Luke and Acts are inseparable despite the separation by the Gospel of John in the canon. Luke often lays the foundation of issues within Luke and then answers them in Acts.
The dating of Luke’s Gospel must be within the confines of 62C.E. when the last event in Acts occurs and 170C.E. when the work is cited by Irenaeus. The most likely date is in the mid 60sC.E., that is, before the fall of Jerusalem. Arguments for this date include: (1) the failure to mention either the death of James (62C.E.) or Paul (c late sixties); (2) The picture in Acts that Rome knows little about the Christian movement; (3) the silence about the destruction of Jerusalem; (4) the amount of uncertainty regarding the Jewish – Gentile relations is similar to that in the Pauline epistles which deal with similar issues.
Occasion and Purpose
Luke was primarily writing to Theophilus in order that he “may know the certainty of those things in which you were instructed” (Luke 1:4). Luke addresses four major issues as he outlines God’s plan for the Gentiles.
First, how could the Gentiles be included as full members of the kingdom of God even though the promise was to the Abraham and his descendants (Genesis 12:1 -3)?
Second, why were the Jews rejecting the long anticipated promise of God and persecuting those who became Christians? Luke’s Gospel details how Jesus took the message to Israel and then in Acts we find the Jews forcing the church out of their synagogues and into the ‘church’.
Third, how does the person and teaching of a crucified Christ fit into God’s plan for salvation? Acts supplies the answers but Luke lays the foundation by presenting the Christology that supports the exaltation.
Lastly, what does it mean to respond to Jesus? This is the major message as Luke explains the mission of Jesus and how He prepared the disciples for His death and departure.
Luke’s inauguration narrative of Jesus found in Luke 3:1 to 4:44 describes the beginnings of Jesus’ public ministry and is comprised of three events: Firstly, His baptism (3:21-22); secondly, His temptation (4:1-13) and thirdly, His inaugural sermon or ‘hero speech’ in Greek historiographical terms. As these events unfold Jesus who was to baptise in the Holy Spirit must first be anointed by the Holy Spirit (3:22) and become the “Anointed One” empowered by the Holy Spirit (4:14) prior to the programmatic inaugural address in Luke 4:16-30. Even though these events are separated by both time and space they form an integrated narrative of the launching of the public ministry of Jesus – the charismatic Christ. The fact that Luke well knows that Jesus did not really commence His ministry in Nazareth is evident in the passing comment in Luke 4:23 relating to the works performed in Capernaum. The Nazarene narrative is placed here, then, for its programmatic significance. Luke is the only account to provide us with the Scriptural text cited together with the account of Jesus’ answers to His critics in the crowd and the resultant reaction.
Exegesis: Luke 4:16-30 – Rejection at Nazareth
The outline of Luke 4:16-30 is as follows:
a) Setting the scene (4:16-17)
b) Cycle 1: Scripture reading and exposition (4:18-21)
c) Cycle 1 Response: Initial questioning (4:22)
d) Cycle 2: A proverb and historical picture of rejection (4:23-27)
e) Cycle 2 Response: The crowd’s anger and hostile desire (4:28-29)
f) Jesus’ departure (4:30)
The outline could also be presented within a chiastic structure as follows:
a. The synagogue (4:16b)
b. Standing (4:16c)
c. Receiving the Scripture (4:17a)
d. Opening the Scripture (4:17b)
e. Preaching the Good News (4:18c)
f. Proclaiming release (4:18d)
g. Giving sight to the blind (4:18e)
f’. Setting free the oppressed (4:18f)
e’. Proclaiming acceptable year (4:19a)
d’. Closing Scripture (4:20a)
c’. Returning Scripture (4:20b)
b’. Sitting (4:20c)
a’. The synagogue (4:20d)
Although the board outline of a chiasmus is possible there are breaks at points. It fails because of the dual references to the Spirit’s anointing would have to be on a single line and in addition the centre of the chiasmus is the reference to the blind which is not the main focus in the larger passage.
The outline using two cycles of presentation and rejection makes for a clearer presentation and will be used in this paper.
!! Setting of the Reading (4:16-17)
16 So He came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up. And as His custom was, He went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and stood up to read.
Luke is unique of the Synoptic Gospels in referring to the habitual practice of Jesus teaching in synagogues (Luke 4:15). However, Luke gives no indication as to why Jesus came to Nazareth.
In order to appreciate this scene we first need to understand the synagogue order of service. Our knowledge of is derived from ancient Jewish sources such as the Mishnah. In order for there to be a service, ten men must be present. The Shema  is recited. Prayers are then shared. This is followed by a reading of God’s Law, the Torah followed by a reading of the Prophets. The texts are read in Hebrew and paraphrased into Aramaic (targumic rendering) which was the language of the people. This is then followed by an exposition of the readings, and the service closes with a benediction. This passage predates the Mishnah and is therefore the oldest extant recording of a synagogue service.
Jesus often preached in the synagogues but this is the only recording of Him reading in a synagogue. How Jesus was chosen to read is unknown and the various theories are that: 1) When Jesus “stood up” this indicated that He wanted to read. 2) Readers for the day were usually appointed before the service began and Jesus possibly made a request at this time. 3) This was the first time Jesus had “stood” in His home synagogue and so there was an air of expectation or 4) Jesus was chosen as a visiting rabbi which was a common practice of the time (cf. Acts 13:15, 14:1, 16:3, 17:2, 10, 17 18:4, 19:8).
17And He was handed the book of the prophet Isaiah. And when He had opened the book, He found the place where it was written:
Jesus takes the scroll and “found” the place in Isaiah from which He would teach. If the text was a set reading then the scroll would have been opened for Him to the correct place. This suggests the reading was deliberately chosen by Jesus.
Cycle 1: Scripture Reading (4:18-19)
The quotation Jesus cites from Isaiah 61 is close to the original.
“18The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me
Jesus is speaking as Messiah and this is further clarified in Luke 4:21. These verses show that the fulfilment of Isaiah’s prophecy when the remnant returned to Jerusalem from Babylonian captivity was only preliminary to the final fulfilment in the incarnation, crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus.
Because He has anointed Me
In Isaiah 61 the anointing is that of a prophet. The main point of this passage is that Jesus has been anointed with the Spirit in order to totally fulfil the functions of this Old Testament figure.
To preach the gospel to the poor
Calvin and many commentators since have interpreted “poor” as those outside the Kingdom of God rather than poor in the economic sense. This is the same sense used in Psalm 40:17 and Psalm 109:22 which both quote David as saying “I am poor and needy”, clearly David as king was not economically poor. The term “poor” is also used antithetically in Proverbs 16:19 of those who are proud. The term was a traditional characterisation of ‘Israel’ understood in terms of its suffering and humiliation at the hands of many nations.
He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted,
This verse is omitted by Luke and the use of a targumic reading rather than a direct quote is out of character for Luke’s citations. Another possibility is that Luke’s intention was to only reproduce the words used by Jesus as the text for His sermon.
19To proclaim liberty to the captives
The audience would relate to “captives” as exiles taken from their homeland as in Isaiah’s time or the present day under Roman control and occupation. Captivity symbolises enslavement to sin but the Messiah was appointed to both proclaim and bring to a realisation of “release” from this captivity.
And recovery of sight to the blind,
It is difficult to understand how the Isaiah quote transitions from “opening of the prison to those who are bound” to the LXX rendering of “recovery of sight to the blind”. A possible explanation is that those bound in dark prisons are set free to see the light of day. Luke may have used the LXX translation as is more suited to the message of Jesus who came into the world so “that those who do not see may see” (John 9:39).
To set at liberty those who are oppressed;
This verse is either an imbedded quote from Isaiah 58:6 or a midrash on the preceding passage, that is, the “blind” will be free for the oppression that they had been enduring. The Gk. afesis is only translated once as “liberty”, the majority of cases it is translated as “forgiveness” or “remission”. Jesus’ missionary program is highlighted by the repeated reference to “release” that is, release or forgiveness from sin. Bearing in mind that forgiveness implies restoration or entry in to community the use of “release” would have important spiritual and social ramifications.
To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord”
The underlying theme here is the ‘year of Jubilee’ which occurred every forty nine years (Leviticus 25:8 f). During Jubilee slaves were to be freed, debts cancelled, the land left to fallow and the returning of the land to its original owners. Green notes that the jubilary themes of Isaiah describing the coming release from exile and captivity signify the eschatological deliverance of God. Here Jesus, the anointed herald, announces the epoch of salvation and the time of God’s visitation.
Luke’s omission of the reference in Isaiah to “the day of vengeance” is not so much a textual issue as a theological one and reflects the choice about how much of the passage Jesus cites and why. Jesus wants to proclaim “release” and not judgement.
!! Cycle 1: Interpretation (4:20-21)
20 Then He closed the book, and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all who were in the synagogue were fixed on Him. 21 And He began to say to them, “Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”
Jesus follows the traditions by handing back the scroll and sitting to assume the position of a teacher. The text states that “He began to say to them”; this statement taken together with the following verse stating that the crowd “marveled at the gracious words” suggests that Luke is only giving us a summary.
Jesus emphasises that fulfillment of the prophecy and the availability of salvation is at this very moment, that is, “today” (Gk. sēmeron). Luke uses sēmeron repeatedly in Luke and Acts (eight and nine times respectively) to indicate not so much a “now and only” as a “timeless now”, that is hope can be a reality “today”. The final words “in your hearing” signifies that those open to the revelation of the preaching are invited even demanded to respond to the message.
Cycle 1 Response: Initial Question from Crowd (4:22)
22 So all bore witness to Him, and marveled at the gracious words which proceeded out of His mouth. And they said, “Is this not Joseph’s son?”
The crowd’s initial response to the dawn of a new Messianic Age was positive, however, they resented that Jesus “the carpenter’s son” (Mathew 13:55), who grew up amongst them, would be the one to bring it about.
!! Cycle 2: Proverb and Historical Setting of Their Rejection (4:23-27)
23 He said to them, “You will surely say this proverb to Me, ‘Physician, heal yourself! Whatever we have heard done in Capernaum, do also here in Your country.’ ” 24 Then He said, “Assuredly, I say to you, no prophet is accepted in his own country. 25 But I tell you truly, many widows were in Israel in the days of Elijah, when the heaven was shut up three years and six months, and there was a great famine throughout all the land; 26 but to none of them was Elijah sent except to Zarephath, in the region of Sidon, to a woman who was a widow. 27 And many lepers were in Israel in the time of Elisha the prophet, and none of them was cleansed except Naaman the Syrian.”
Jesus knowing the thoughts of the audience challenges them with an aphorism, “Physician, heal yourself” which taken together with the reference to Capernaum basically amounts to ‘Do in your hometown what you have done elsewhere’. He is in fact countering the parochial vision of the people that as Joseph’s son Jesus will be a special source of blessing for them. This notion is expanded on by a second aphorism that grew from the historical perception that the fate of all prophets is rejection and death and here foreshadows His own fate. Therefore, Jesus cannot continue His mission in Nazareth because His own people are resisting Him.
Rather that further elaborating on a prophet being “not accepted” Jesus goes on to detail what a prophet may do as the result of rejection. The Old Testament text alluded to is 1 Kings 17-18 and 2 King 5:1-19 that refers to a time of covenant unfaithfulness which in turn brought Israel under judgment, so God’s provision and prophetic signs were absent from the land. In these texts Elijah is sent to a non-Jewish widow and Elisha is sent to a non-Jewish Syrian leper. These examples demonstrate that to “preach the Gospel (good news) to the poor” included the widows, the unclean, the Gentiles and those of low status.
Cycle 2 Response: Crowd’s Anger (4:28-29)
28 So all those in the synagogue, when they heard these things, were filled with wrath, 29 and rose up and thrust Him out of the city; and they led Him to the brow of the hill on which their city was built, that they might throw Him down over the cliff.
The thought that Jesus would rather reach out to outsiders than His own people produced anger. Jesus was saying, in effect, that the Nazarenes were worse than Syrian lepers and Phoenician widows. He was thus seen a false prophet and as such is liable to immediate execution (Deuteronomy 13:5).
Jesus’ Departure (4:30)
30 Then passing through the midst of them, He went His way.
Jesus uses His divine power (although we are not told how) to escape the plans of the Nazarenes to kill him. His time had not yet come to die. In this scene we have a commentary on Luke 4:9-11 with the Nazarenes in the position of Satan trying to tempt Jesus but He would not co-operate. Ironically, the people were shown a miracle but not one that they were expecting. Jesus was never to return to Nazareth; His rejection was final.
To the Original Recipients
Jesus came and proclaimed that salvation was not just for Nazareth or Galilee or Israel but for all humanity. This is the message they grasped and changed their attitude to one of rage. He was not the Messiah that the people were expecting and as John puts it (1:11) “He came to His own and His own did not receive Him”.
Jesus spent much of His time teaching and preaching and we can see from the subtleties of His exegesis that if we are to emulate this style of teaching then we need pastors who are well educated in the Scriptures.
This passage outlines the mission of Jesus to “preach the Gospel (good news) to the poor” emphasising that our mission is to do the same, that is, to reach all sectors of society with the Gospel. The Church is called to be evangelistic.
The nature of salvation is that of “release”; total release from sin and bondage, the slate is wiped clean by the grace of Jesus. Conversely, the sinful life can be seen as one of “blindness” and “oppression”.
Just as the claims of Jesus were totally unexpected by the people we need to be open to God turning our ministries in new unexpected directions The Church will never change its message but always needs to be willing to change direction in order to reach the lost.
It was Jesus’ “custom” to go to synagogue on Sabbath; surely we can do no less than follow His example and not neglect church attendance.
“Often God will send us what we need in a package we don’t want” In conclusion, the people were in need of the Messiah, they looked for Him, they longed for Him but they ultimately rejected Him because He did not fit in with their preconceived ideas of who would be the Messiah. Every reader of this account faces the choice to either identify with Jesus and His message or to side with those who reject Jesus.
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 Unless otherwise stated all scriptures are quoted from The New King James Version. (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1982).
 John Nolland, vol. 35A, Word Biblical Commentary: Luke 1:1-9:20, Word Biblical Commentary (Dallas: Word, Incorporated, 2002), xxxvii.
 Novum Testamentum Graece, edited by [E. Nestle], K. Aland, and B. Aland. 26th ed.; Stuttgart: Deutsche Bibelstiftung, 1979.
Darrell L. Bock, Luke Volume 1: 1:1-9:50, Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Books, 1994), 1.
Joel B. Green, Scot McKnight and I. Howard Marshall, Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels (Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press, 1992), 498.
 Darrell L. Bock, Luke Volume 1: 1:1-9:50, Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament. 2.
 Roger Stronstad, The Charismatic Theology of St Luke, (Peabody: Hendrickson Publishers, 1984), 39.
 John P. Kealy, Luke’s Gospel Today, (Denville: Dimension Books, 1979), 185.
 I. Howard Marshall, The Gospel of Luke, The new International Greek Testament Commentary, (Exeter: Paternoster Press, 1978), 178.
 William Hendriksen. The Gospel of Luke (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth trust. 1978), 250.
 Darrell L. Bock. Luke Volume 1: 1:1-9:50, Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament, 399.
 Ibid, 405.
 Charles Kimball, “Jesus’ Exposition of the Scripture in Luke 4:16-30: An Enquiry in Light of Jewish Hermeneutics”, Perspectives in Religious Studies, (21 No 3 Fall, 1994), 185.
 The Jewish codification of their oral law circa 170 C.E.
 Deuteronomy 6:4-9
 Bock, Darrell L. Luke, The NIV Application Commentary, (Grand Rapids:
Zondervan Publishing House, 1996), 135.
 Matthew Henry. Matthew Henry's Commentary on the Whole Bible : Complete and
Luke 4: 16-30.
 Darrell L. Bock, Luke Volume 1: 1:1-9:50, Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament, 403.
 I. Howard Marshall, The Gospel of Luke, The new International Greek Testament Commentary. 182.
 Ibid 182.
 Charles Kimball, “Jesus’ Exposition of the Scripture in Luke 4:16-30: An Enquiry in Light of Jewish Hermeneutics”, Perspectives in Religious Studies. 185.
 Bock, Darrell L. Luke, The NIV Application Commentary, 135.
 William Hendriksen. The Gospel of Luke, 252.
 Howard I. Marshall. The Gospel of Luke, The New International Greek Testament Commentary, (Exeter: Paternoster
Press, 1978), 183.
 John Calvin, A Harmony of the Gospels Matthew, Mark and Luke. Translated by Morrison, A. W.( Grand Rapids:
WM Eerdmans Publishing, 1972), 148.
 Robert H. Stein, vol. 24, Luke, electronic ed., Logos Library System; The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2001, c1992), 200.
 The New King James Version, This verse is omitted by Nestle-Aland Greek New Testament. The only English versions that have this phrase are the King James, New King James and Young’s Literal Translation.
 Darrell L. Bock, Luke Volume 1: 1:1-9:50, Baker exegetical commentary on the New Testament, 404.
 William Hendriksen. The Gospel of Luke, 253.
 Ibid 253.
 Ibid 253.
 James Strong, The Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible : Showing Every Word of the Text of the Common English Version of the Canonical Books, and Every Occurrence of Each Word in Regular Order., electronic ed. (Ontario: Woodside Bible Fellowship., 1996), G859.
 Joel B. Green. The Gospel of Luke, (Grand Rapids: W.B. Eerdmans Publishing,1997), 212.
 Ibid, 212.
 Darrell L. Bock, Luke Volume 1: 1:1-9:50, Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament, 404.
 Darrell L. Bock, Luke Volume 1: 1:1-9:50, Baker exegetical commentary on the New Testament, 412.
 Joel B. Green. The Gospel of Luke, (Grand Rapids: W.B. Eerdmans Publishing,1997), 214.
 William Hendriksen. The Gospel of Luke, 256.
 William Hendriksen. The Gospel of Luke, 257.
 Joel B. Green. The Gospel of Luke, (Grand Rapids: W.B. Eerdmans Publishing,1997), 215.
 Darrell L. Bock, Luke Volume 1: 1:1-9:50, Baker exegetical commentary on the New Testament, 417.
 Joel B. Green. The Gospel of Luke, (Grand Rapids: W.B. Eerdmans Publishing, 1997), 218.
Darrell L. Bock, Luke Volume 1: 1:1-9:50, Baker exegetical commentary on the New Testament, 419.
 Geldenhuys, Norval. Commentary on the Gospel of Luke, (Grand Rapids: W. B. Eerdmans Publishing, 1988), 169.
 Morris, Leon, Luke – An Introduction and Commentary, (London: Intervarsity Press, 2004), 119.
 Michael Wilcock, The Savior of the World: The Message of Luke's Gospel (Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press, 1979), 61.
 John Bevere, Honor’s Reward (New York: Faith Words. 2007)14.