Thirdmill Study Bible

Notes on Luke 3:1-3

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Luke 3:1

Luke mentioned several prominent figures to ground the narrative in world history. Tiberius Caesar. Reigned as emperor of Rome from A.D. 14 to 37. Prior to that, he served two years as coregent with his predecessor, Caesar Augustus (see note on 2:1). It is hard to tell whether Luke marked the first year of his reign with his time as cogent or his start as Caesar on his own. This makes the date of Tiberius' fifteenth year uncertain. It was sometime between A.D. 26-28. If Jesus was born just prior to Herod's death 4 B.C. (Matt. 2:1-19), this would make Jesus about thirty years old (v. 23). Pontius Pilate. The governor of Judea from A.D. 26-36. The term governor can mean prefect or procurator. He was a prefect. Herod. Herod Antipas was tetrarch over one of three regions in the area previously ruled by his father, Herod the Great. Herod Antipas ruled over Galilee and Perea (4 B.C.–A.D. 39). Philip. Half-brother to Antipas. He ruled the area northeast of the Sea of Galilee (4 B.C.–A.D. 33/34). Luke mentioned Ituraea and Trachonitis but this region also included Batanaea, Auranitis, and Gaulonitis. Lysanias. There were several men named Lysanias who ruled over several decades in Abilene. The exact location is unknown but Abilene could be the region north of Mount Herman which is called Abila.

Luke 3:2

Annas and Caiaphas. Caiaphas was the active high priest at the time. However, his father-in-law Annas had previous served (A.D. 6-15) and maintained a strong influence over religious matters in Israel. Annas even retained the title high priest after his term of service (see John 18:13, 19-24; Acts 4:6). Luke used the singular high priesthood to indicate that both of these men shared authority. This grasping for power was at odds with the Scriptures' teaching about the priesthood's concern for the spiritual state of God's people. John son of Zechariah. In the midst of political and religious power, John received God's prophetic word. He began his promised ministry of preparing the people of Israel for the Lord (1:13-17). Coming from the wilderness made clear his ministry was from God (see Exod. 15-20; 1 Kgs. 17:2-3; Jer. 2:2-3; Hos. 2:14-23). Given the parallels with Jer. 1:1-3, Luke probably intended to emphasize John's role as a true prophet of God.

Luke 3:3

preaching. Though known for calling sinners to be baptized, Luke put the emphasis on John's preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins from God's word (vv. 2, 4-6, 18). baptism. Baptism was a symbol of spiritual cleansing. In Israel, it was reserved for pagan Gentiles who converted to Judaism. Surprisingly, John called for those who were already God's people to undergo baptism. While other ritual washings were self-administered, John called people out to be baptized by him. Perhaps this pointed to the distinct message John preached (vv. 4-9). John preached by the Jordan River because it provided access to water for baptism. repentance. Means to turn from sin toward God. It involves conviction of one's sin (2 Cor. 7:10), which leads to confession before God (see Ps 32:1-5; Prov. 28:13; 1 John 1:8-10). The sincerity of one's repentance is then seen in a changed life (v. 10-14). forgiveness of sins. The result of repentance and faith (see Exod. 34:6-7; Isa. 31:6-7; Acts 2:37-41). This is the inward spiritual change is symbolized in the act of baptism (1 Pet. 3:21).

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