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Luke Chapter Three


I. Content of the Chapter


The Son of Man the Savior was Recommended and Introduced

I. The appearance and message of John the Baptist who recommended the Lord (v.1-14).

II. John the Baptist recommended the Son of Man the Savior to men (v.15-17).

III. John the Baptist was shut up in prison (v.18-20).

IV. The Son of Man the Savior was baptized and the voice of praise came from heaven (v.21-22).

V. The genealogy of the Son of Man the Savior (v.23-38).


II. Verse by Verse commentary


Luke. 3:1 “Now in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, Pontius Pilate being governor of Judea, Herod being tetrarch of Galilee, his brother Philip tetrarch of Iturea and the region of Trachonitis, and Lysanias tetrarch of Abilene,

   YLT: “And in the fifteenth year of the government of Tiberius Caesar Pontius Pilate being governor of Judea, and Herod tetrarch of Galilee, and Philip his brother, tetrarch of Ituraea and of the region of Trachonitis, and Lysanias tetrarch of Abilene

   Literal Meaning: “in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar,” Tiberius Caesar was an adopted son of Caesar Augustus (See 2:1) and he was officially appointed to be the Roman Emperor from A.D. 14 to A.D. 37. However, he had already replaced Caesar Augustus to rule the Roman Empire two years before the death of Caesar Augustus and therefore the fifteenth year of his reign is equivalent to A.D. 26. It was the year when John the Baptist began to preach (See v.2) and John was about thirty years old at that time.

  “Pontius Pilate being governor of Judea” The Land of Judea was originally one part of the dominion of Herod the Great (See 1:5). After the death of Herod the Great, his land was divided by his three sons. The Land of Judea, Samaria and the land of Edom were dominated by Archelaus, however, he was abolished by the Roman Emperor in A.D. 6 because of his cruelty and violence. And the provinces that were directly under the control of the Roman Emperor were set up in his dominion. The lands were ruled by the governor of Judea and the position was inferior to the governor of Syria (See 2:2) and the governor of Judea was supervised and controlled by the governor of Syria. Pontius Pilate in this verse took office in A.D.26 and he was the fifth governor of the land of Judea and his term of office was to A.D. 36. The Lord Jesus was judged and condemned to be crucified in his term of office.

  Herod being tetrarch of Galilee” “Herod” indicates Herod Antipas; He was the son of Herod the Great and after the death of his father, he, his brother Archelaus and Philip possessed the dominion of their father. He had controlled Galilee and Billiat forty three years (from B.C. 4 to A.D. 39). It was Herod Antipas that killed John the Baptist. “Tetrarch” indicates the dominator of the little vassal state in the Roman Empire.

  “His brother Philip tetrarch of Iturea and the region of Trachonitis” “Philip” (Philip Herod) was another son of Herod the Great. His land was in the northeast of Galilee and there were few Jews in his dominion.

  “And Lysanias tetrarch of Abilene” The dominion of “Lysanias” was in the north of the mount Hermon and in the east of the mountain chain of Lebanon and the Jews were almost unrelated to these places.


Luke. 3:2 “while Annas and Caiaphas were high priests, the word of God came to John the son of Zacharias in the wilderness.

   YLT: “Annas and Caiaphas being chief priests there came a word of God unto John the son of Zacharias, in the wilderness,”

   The Background: after the ancestors of the Jews were delivered out of Egypt, they had wandered in the wilderness for forty years and therefore the wilderness was the place of God’s guidance and grace in the hearts of the Jews.

   Literal Meaning: while Annas and Caiaphas were high priests” “Annas” was in office as the high priest from A.D. 6 to A.D. 14 and he was removed from post by the Roman governor, however, he was still regarded as the official high priest in the hearts of the Jews (See Acts. 4:6); “Caiaphas” was the son-in-law of Annas (John. 18:13) and he was in office as the high priest from A.D. 18 to A.D. 36. He was the high priest that was recognized by the Roman Government. When John the Baptist started to preach, it was Caiaphas that took office, however, Annas still played a decisive role and therefore Luke mentioned both of their names here.

  “The wilderness” indicates the waste place where nobody resides. It was the dry land in the north and west of the Dead Sea, including the vast land of the valley of Jordan.

  “The word of God came to John” This shows that “the word of God” was the origin of the power of the preaching of John the Baptist.

   Spiritual Meaning: “wilderness” symbolizes that it is separated from the world.

   Enlightenment in the Word:

1) Only when we are separated from the world (“in the wilderness”) and will the word of God come to us.

2) If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him (1John. 2:15). Therefore anyone that serves God should come out of the world first and live a life in reliance of God by faith.

3) John grew in the deserts (See 1:80) and preached in the wilderness. This shows that the message that he preached was in complete accord with his life.


Luke. 3:3 “And he went into all the region around the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the remission of sins,

   YLT: “and he came to all the region round the Jordan, proclaiming a baptism of reformation to remission of sins,”

   Meaning of Words: “preaching”: proclaim loudly; “repentance”: the change of minds, the change of thoughts; “baptism”: in the original it means being fully immersed into water.

   Literal Meaning: “preaching a baptism of repentance” “Repent” in the original means the change of views and thoughts instead of the change of behavior. It indicates that men’s thoughts are originally against God and far away from God and today they have to turn to God from their hearts.

  The baptism of John was different from the baptism of Christians by the name of the Lord Jesus. The baptism to Christians emphasized on the union with the Lord and it includes both the negative aspect------burial which means we are dead with Christ and the positive aspect------resurrection that we shall also live with Him (Rom. 6:3-5). The baptism of John is bringing others to believe into the one who is mightier than him and is coming (see v.16). It merely emphasized on the negative aspect------they ended their past sins that they departed from God through the baptism of water. So it is also called “the baptism of repentance” (Acts. 19:3-4). “The baptism of repentance” does not mean the one who was baptized was united into Christ, but he had changed his view towards himself. Men came to be baptized by John to confess their sins. The wage of sin is death (Rom. 6:23). Therefore through the baptism they declared that they were only worthy of death.

   Spiritual Meaning: “a baptism of repentance” is immersing the one who repents into water. Through this it shows that the one who is baptized has changed his views towards himself and he holds that he is only worthy of death and therefore he is buried.

   Enlightenment in the Word:

1) Repentance does not mean the change of behavior. So it is not forsaking evil to do goodness. Repentance, the change of thoughts, is to turn one’s thoughts to God from all the others besides God.

2) Men’s greatest sin before God is the disobedience to Him. That’s the “sin” we have to confess when we repent. All sins of men start from the disobedience to God.

3) We should repent when we only care about the religion, doctrines, letters and services and neglect the Lord Himself.


Luke. 3:4 “as it is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet, saying: The voice of one crying in the wilderness: Prepare the way of the LORD; Make His paths straight.

   YLT: “as it hath been written in the scroll of the words of Isaiah the prophet, saying, ‘A voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, straight make ye His paths;”

   Meaning of Words: “prepare”: make ready, provide; “way”: highway, road; “make”: do, hold, keep; “paths”: line, track.

   Literal Meaning: “as it is written in the book of words of Isaiah the prophet” This verse is quoted from the third to fifth verses of the fortieth chapter of the book of Isaiah and there is only a little discrepancy of words.

  “Prepare the way of the LORD; Make His paths straight.” It shows that the task of John the Baptist is to prepare the way for the Lord------make men’s thoughts turn to the Lord so that the Lord would have flat way to enter the hearts of men and reign there. Please note that here it indicates “the Lord’s” way and “His” paths and it does not indicate “the paths of righteousness” that we have to walk in after we have believed in the Lord (Ps. 23:3).

   Enlightenment in the Word:

1) Voice fleets and vanishes without a trace. John, the messenger of the Lord, was only “a voice” of the Lord and kept nothing for himself. We should bear witness of the Lord instead of ourselves.

2) Anyone who serves the Lord should do his utmost to bring others to the Lord regardless of his own gain and lose, status, and fame. He should never intend to bring others to follow himself.

3) “Crying” shows that John was full of burden in his heart so that he couldn’t help crying. It is the burden that makes us serve the Lord. We should endeavor to pour out the burden inside. 

4) Our hearts were originally rugged and crooked. The true “repentance” is to bring it low and make it straight------“prepare the way of the Lord, make His paths straight.”


Luke. 3:5 “Every valley shall be filled And every mountain and hill brought low; The crooked places shall be made straight And the rough ways smooth;

   YLT: “every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be made low, and the crooked shall become straightness, and the rough become smooth ways;”

   Literal Meaning: this verse indicates that the states of men’s hearts are like these:

  1) “Valley” specially indicates that men are boundlessly and insatiably avaricious.

  2) “Every mountain and hill” specially indicate that men are supercilious and arrogant.

  3) “The crooked places” specially indicate that men are crafty and treacherous and dishonest.

  4) “The rough ways” specially indicate that men are willful and with wavy motions.

   Enlightenment in the Word:

1) We should not only turn our hearts to the Lord, but also let the Lord have low and straight way in our hearts so that He could occupy every corner of our hearts.

2) Only when men receive the salvation of God (See v.6) will they: a) be satisfied because the lusts of their hearts have been “filled”; b) be humble because the arrogance of their hearts have been “brought low”; c) be honest and harmless because the crookedness of their hearts have been “made straight”; d) be peaceful and magnanimous because the stormy waves of their hearts have been “made smooth”.


Luke. 3:6 “And all flesh shall see the salvation of God.’”

   YLT: “and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.’”

   Literal Meaning: “all flesh” indicate all the people.

   Enlightenment in the Word:

1) Jesus Christ is the salvation of God: seeing Him is seeing the salvation.

2) The salvation is for all men and the problem is whether those who see the salvation are willing to accept the salvation. Those who accept (believe in) the salvation gain the salvation.


Luke. 3:7 “Then he said to the multitudes that came out to be baptized by him, Brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come?

   YLT: “Then said he to the multitudes coming forth to be baptised by him, ‘Brood of vipers! who did prompt you to flee from the coming wrath?”

     Literal Meaning: “Brood of vipers” were sinners with evil hearts (Matt. 12:34).

“The wrath to come” It indicates that God’s wrath towards sinners who are treasuring up wrath for themselves will be revealed in the day of the righteous judgment of God (Rom. 2:5).

The words used by John to blame all the people may be quoted from the warms of Jeremiah the prophet. It indicates that they are as snakes which stayed in the forests and fled away when men come to hew and burn the trees (Jer. 46:22). When the judgment of Jehovah was about to come, they intended to flee from the wrath of God through the baptism of John.

   Enlightenment in the Word:

1) The liberalists believe in nothing and the orthodox Christians only believe in creeds and know nothing about the mighty power of God. Therefore both of them were “brood of vipers”.

2) We are “brood of vipers” according to our nature. If we have not known this, probably we won’t be like Christians and will fail in the end.

3) Today in the world of Christianity, many so-called ministers are “brood of vipers”. They have committed sins and they even preach evil teachings which could poison and affect others.

4) Only when we have seen that we are not better than others under the great light of God will we fall down and rely on God’s grace. A cup has to be put under the kettle if being poured with water. The one who receives the grace should fall down into dust and then God’s grace should come upon him.

5) To hypocritical ones, John the Baptist resisted them openly and convicted them of sins bluntly. This is the attitude that a servant of the Lord should have.

6) John, with the spiritual sight of a prophet, could see the intentions of men. Today those who serve the Lord lack spiritual discernment and it is no wonder that there are so many mixed multitudes in the assembly.

7) Today, if a man wants to be baptized to the Lord, he will be accepted no matter he does it sincerely or not. Consequently, the quantity of people in the assembly increases but the spiritual quality decreases.


Luke. 3:8 “Therefore bear fruits worthy of repentance, and do not begin to say to yourselves, We have Abraham as our father.' For I say to you that God is able to raise up children to Abraham from these stones.

   YLT: “make, therefore, fruits worthy of the reformation, and begin not to say within yourselves, We have a father Abraham; for I say to you, that God is able out of these stones to raise children to Abraham;”

   Meaning of Words: “raise up”: rouse from death, rise, and give birth.

The Background: the Jews highly esteem Abraham their ancestor and hold that they are the only legal inheritors of blessings which God had promised to Abraham and the other races (including the descendants of Ishmael, Esau and so on.) have nothing to do with God’s blessing.

“And do not think to say to yourselves, We have Abraham as our father.'  “Abraham our ancestor sat on the gate of the hell and did not allow anyone of his descendants to go to hell”, as the old Jewish saying goes. They hold that God will treat the Jews kindly because of Abraham.

   Literal Meaning: “therefore bear fruits worthy of repentance” John meant that if a man wants to flee from the wrath of God, he should not only be outwardly baptized but also prove his inner repentance by the change of life and behavior.

  “For I say to you” This expresses the tone of the prophet who spoke with authority by the working of the Holy Spirit.

  “Stones” are lifeless things. Though Abraham’s body already became dead, he was blessed by God because of faith and many descendants were raised up (Rom. 4:17-20).

  The word of John the Baptist in this verse indicates that: the fleshly offspring have nothing to do with Abraham. The fleshly descendants of Abraham may be not the children of Abraham. Those who were not the fleshly descendants of Abraham may be the children of Abraham. Here it implies the effect of faith. Only through faith men can be acceptable to God.

   Enlightenment in the Word:

   1) God regards spiritual reality as important and does not pay attention to outside forms.

   2) The true Christian should prove his inner repentance by his real life and behavior. Therefore, a man after he was saved should conduct himself worthily of the glad tidings of Christ (Pill. 1:27), and be different from the nations (Eph. 4:17-22).

   3) What God values is our inner reality instead of our status. What God values are our present spiritual states instead of our spiritual genealogies.

   4) Repentance and turning to the Lord are quite personal and these are irrelevant to traditions. All spiritual things should be counted until we have personal experience and the experience of others could never be counted as ours.

 5) Christians should never live an aimless and self-indulgent life, holding that we have been saved and will never perish. What we have to know is that and the situation after one was saved will also be judged by God who is righteous.

6) Not only the Jews boast that they are the descendants of Abraham so that they do not need to worry about, but also many Christians boast that they belong to some groups or they are the students of some spiritual giants today so that they are all overcomers.


Luke. 3:9 “And even now the ax is laid to the root of the trees. Therefore every tree which does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.’”

   YLT: “and already also the axe unto the root of the trees is laid, every tree, therefore, not making good fruit is cut down, and to fire it is cast.’”

   Literal Meaning: “And now the ax is laid to the root of the trees.” It is a metaphor indicating that the tree may be cut down at any time, warning that one should seize chance to repent for there is a little time.

  “Every tree which does not bear good fruit” was the one who repent insincerely. They have not manifested the life of God outwardly because they have not been born from above.

  “Is cut down and thrown into the fire” indicates that they will be judged in future and abandoned by God.

   Enlightenment in the Word:

         1) A kind of tree (life) would bear that kind of fruits (behavior). A good tree cannot produce bad fruits, nor a worthless tree produce good fruits (Matt. 7:18).

         2) Any fruit borne from the tree of natural life would never be acceptable to God and the tree will be cut down. The nations are “estranged from the life of God”, so that they “work all uncleanness with greedy unsatisfied lust” (Eph. 4: 17-19).

3) Any one who could not manifest Christ (“good fruits”) will lose value in the eternity.


Luke. 3:10 “So the people asked him, saying, What shall we do then?’”

   YLT: “And the multitudes were questioning him, saying, ‘What, then, shall we do?’”

   Literal Meaning: “What shall we do then?” means that how to “bear fruits worthy of repentance” (See v.8)?


Luke. 3:11 “He answered and said to them, He who has two tunics, let him give to him who has none; and he who has food, let him do likewise.’”

   YLT: “and he answering saith to them, ‘He having two coats let him impart to him having none, and he having victuals in like manner let him do.’”

   Literal Meaning: “He who has two tunics, let him give to him who has none” “tunics” indicates the long clothes that you wear under other clothes. Under normal conditions, one kind of this tunic is enough for one and therefore here it is said that, “let him give to him who has none”.

   Enlightenment in the Word:

1) Giving tunic to him who has none and giving food to him who doesn’t have food are the manifestation of someone who loves his neighbor as himself.

2) If one is able to share clothes and food with others, it shows that his heart has been corrected and he is no longer greedy, proud, absurd or rude (See v.5).


Luke. 3:12 “Then tax collectors also came to be baptized, and said to him, Teacher, what shall we do?’”

   YLT: “And there came also tax-gatherers to be baptised, and they said unto him, `Teacher, what shall we do?’”

   The Background: “tax collectors” were the Jews who collected taxes for the Roman Government. They bullied and oppressed their fellow citizens and extorted more taxes to line their pockets and therefore they were hated and despised by the Jews.


Luke. 3:13 “And he said to them, Collect no more than what is appointed for you.’”

   YLT: “and he said unto them, `Exact no more than that directed you.’”

   Literal Meaning: John meant that uprightness and honesty are the manifestation of one’s true repentance.


Luke. 3:14 “Likewise the soldiers asked him, saying, And what shall we do? So he said to them, Do not intimidate anyone or accuse falsely, and be content with your wages.’”

   YLT: “And questioning him also were those warring, saying, `And we, what shall we do?’ and he said unto them, ‘Do violence to no one, nor accuse falsely, and be content with your wages.’”

   The Background: “soldiers” were the guards who were hired locally besides the Roman garrison. At that time limited security guards were allowed by the Roman Government to stay in the vassal states and in the Holy Temple. These soldiers always took advantage of their power to bully people, dealt with common people rudely and unreasonably, grabbed others’ possessions as their own.

   Literal Meaning: the good behavior is not the requirement of one’s being saved, however, the good behavior is the outward evidence of one’s being saved (See Eph. 2:8-10).


Luke. 3:15 “Now as the people were in expectation, and all reasoned in their hearts about John, whether he was the Christ or not,

   YLT: “And the people are looking forward, and all are reasoning in their hearts concerning John, whether or not he may be the Christ;”

   The Background: at that time, the Jews were under the control of the Roman emperor and the people expected the anointed one that God had promised to save them.

   Literal Meaning: “Christ” is the synonym of the Hebrew word “the Messiah” which means “the anointed one”.

   Enlightenment in the Word: the deeds of John the Baptist made others regard him as Christ. The Lord’s servant should live out Christ like this: he bore witness to Christ by his words and deeds and supply Christ to those who “expected” Christ.


Luke. 3:16John answered, saying to all, I indeed baptize you with water; but One mightier than I is coming, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to loose. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.

   YLT: “John answered, saying to all, `I indeed with water do baptise you, but he cometh who is mightier than I, of whom I am not worthy to loose the latchet of his sandals he shall baptise you with the Holy Spirit and with fire;”

   The Background: “whose sandal strap I am not worthy to loose” In ancient times, the Jews put on sandals without uppers when they went out, and took off the sandals when they entered their houses. One of the works for the lowest bondmen was to loose the sandal straps, take off and carry the shoes for their hosts and guests, and then took a basin with water to wash their feet.

   Literal Meaning: “I indeed baptize you with water” In the original “I” and “with water” are with the tone of emphasis. This shows these things are what John could do at most.

  “One mightier than I” One indicates Jesus Christ.

“Whose sandal strap I am not worthy to loose” shows that John considered himself not to be worthy of His servant.

     Spiritual Meaning: “I indeed baptize you with water” “baptism of water” is the mark of the ministry of John the Baptist and it means to immerse the one who repents into water and end his old life. 

“He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.” The conjunction “and” in the original shows that the words before and after the conjunction should be of the same class. Since “the Holy Spirit” was explained literally, “fire” should be explained literally. We should not explain “fire” spiritually according to “parted tongues, as of fire” (Acts. 2:3) and “fervent in spirit” (Rom. 12:11). Here it declares the two sides of the work of the Lord Jesus:

  1) To those who repent sincerely and believe in Him, He will baptize them into the Holy Spirit to make them have the life of God and become the body of Christ------the assembly (1Cor. 12:13, Acts. 2:2-4)

  2) To those who are unwilling to repent and believe in the Lord and the nominal Christians, He will baptize them with fire which is the fire of judgment (Rev. 20:15).

   Enlightenment in the Word:

1) John the Baptism, the forerunner of the Lord, was to bring others to repent and direct others to Christ. We should also bring others to the Lord.

         2) The repentance is only a way, instead of the aim, to bring men to Christ (“He who is coming after me”). Repentance enables men to lose themselves and faith enables men to obtain Christ. The former is negative and the latter positive. Repentance should be with faith. Repentance alone is of no effect because repentance only makes men continually pay attention to their failures and it is just like what they used to pay attention to their “goodness” before they have repented.

3) Jesus Christ is the Son of God and therefore He owns heavenly and exceeding might (“He is mightier than I”).

4) Those who serve the Lord should have the same humble and gentle attitude with John the Baptist (“whose sandals I am not worthy to carry”).

5) The baptism of water is the end of the old life and the baptism of the spirit is the beginning of the new life. Men should repent to receive the former and men should believe in the glad tidings to receive the latter.

6) If men do not repent and receive the baptism of water, they will be baptized with fire in future. Today everyone who is willing to repent and receives the baptism of water will be baptized with the Holy Spirit at the same time (1Cor. 12:13).


Luke. 3:17 “His winnowing fan is in His hand, and He will thoroughly clean out His threshing floor, and gather the wheat into His barn; but the chaff He will burn with unquenchable fire.’”

   YLT: “whose winnowing shovel [is] in his hand, and he will thoroughly cleanse his floor, and will gather the wheat to his storehouse, and the chaff he will burn with fire unquenchable.’”

   The Background: in ancient times, after the Jews had reaped wheat, they dried wheat in the sun and grinded wheat to make grain separate from chaff. Then they threw the wheat mixed with chaff into the air with dustpan and the heavier wheat would fall down around and the lighter chaff would be blown away by the wind. By this way the wheat and chaff were separated. They gathered the clean wheat into the barn and burned the chaff as burning materials.

Literal Meaning: When the Lord Jesus comes back, He will do the work of separation and judgment. He will judge who is the wheat with God’s life and who is the chaff with vain appearance. The former will be gathered into the barn in the heaven (i.e. into the eternity) and the latter will be thrown into the lake of fire (i.e. the eternal perdition).

     Enlightenment in the Word:

         1) Satan wants to sift men as wheat (Luke. 22:31). But our Lord will “thoroughly clean out” His threshing floor. If we were the heavier “wheat”, we would only suffer at this time. If we were the lighter “chaff”, we would suffer forever.

         2) The aim of the judgment of the Lord is “cleaning out”, purifying and separating. Anyone who is willing to receive the judgment of the Lord today will stand before the judgment in future.

3) The nominal Christians are the “chaff”. They have the similar appearance with the “wheat” but they do not have the life in them.

4) The Lord does not want His believers to stay in the original world for a lifetime. One day, the believers and unbelievers will be separated forever.

5) That which is born of the flesh is the flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is the spirit. The cross will do the work of separation in us all the time.

6) The cross would root out the life of the old creation. Anything that is of the nature will perish.


Luke. 3:18 “And with many other exhortations he preached to the people.

   YLT: “And, therefore, indeed with many other things, exhorting, he was proclaiming good news to the people,”


Luke. 3:19 “But Herod the tetrarch, being rebuked by him concerning Herodias, his brother Philip's wife, and for all the evils which Herod had done,

   YLT: “and Herod the tetrarch, being reproved by him concerning Herodias the wife of Philip his brother, and concerning all the evils that Herod did,”

   Literal Meaning: “concerning Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife” “his brother” indicates his consanguineous brother Philip, however, this Philip was not the tetrarch of Iturea (See v.1); this Philip was not the tetrarch and he lived in Roman. “Herodias” was the granddaughter of Herod the Great and she married her uncle Philip in Roman and when her husband was still alive, she remarried her another uncle Herod Antipas.

   Enlightenment in the Word: the Lord’s servant should not fear the authority of men and should bluntly blame others’ sins no matter how high their positions are and to bear strong witness to the Lord.


Luke. 3:20 “also added this, above all, that he shut John up in prison.

   YLT: “added also this to all, that he shut up John in the prison.”

   Literal Meaning: “also added this” It indicates that another evil thing added this (See v.19).

  “Above all, that he shut John up in prison.” The event that John the Baptist was shut up in prison took place after the Lord Jesus began to preach (See John. 3:22-24), however, Luke purposely finished the records of the working of John the Baptist and then began to record the working of the Lord Jesus.

   Enlightenment in the Word:

1) If one does not deal with sin well, his sin shall add.

2) The true witnesses of the Lord shall unavoidably be persecuted by the power of darkness and they even sacrifice their lives for the Lord. It is no wander that “witness” and “martyr” are the same in the original.


Luke. 3:21 “When all the people were baptized, it came to pass that Jesus also was baptized; and while He prayed, the heaven was opened.

   YLT: “And it came to pass, in all the people being baptised, Jesus also being baptised, and praying, the heaven was opened,”

   Literal Meaning: “while He prayed” Please note that only Luke recorded the prayer of the Lord Jesus when He was baptized (See Matt. 3:16; Mark. 1:10) because prayer is one of the themes of the Gospel of Luke.

  “The heaven was opened.” It indicates that men could see the scene in heaven with their eyes (Acts. 7:56).

   Enlightenment in the Word:

1) It has not been recorded in the Gospel of John that the Lord Jesus was baptized because the Gospel of John indicates that He is God; the other three Gospels all recorded that He was baptized because they all indicate that He is the man. Every man should be put to death.

2) The Lord Jesus “also was baptized” and this shows that all that is of men, no matter it is good or not, should be put to death and then men could be used by God.

3) The Lord Jesus was sinless and there was no need for Him to repent and be baptized, however, He was willing to stand in the position of sinners and submitted to God and confessed that men deserve death; shall we not much rather repent and submit to God?

4) The Lord started His work on earth through the baptism. This shows His principle of service------supplying life through death.

5) “The heaven was opened” is the answer to the Lord. When men are willing to seek God through prayers, they will always see the wonderful works of God.

6) The heaven is only open to men who rise from the dead. If believers stand in the position that we die and rise with the Lord, the heaven will be likewise open to us. 

7) He inherits every spiritual blessing and as long as we are united to Him will we be partakers of heaven and everything that is of heaven.


Luke. 3:22 “And the Holy Spirit descended in bodily form like a dove upon Him, and a voice came from heaven which said, "You are My beloved Son; in You I am well pleased.’

   YLT: “and the Holy Spirit came down in a bodily appearance, as if a dove, upon him, and a voice came out of heaven, saying, `Thou art My Son the Beloved, in thee I did delight.’”

   Literal Meaning: “a voice came from heaven” It is the voice of God our Father (2Pet. 1:17).

  “This is My beloved Son.” It is God’s proclamation and introduction to Jesus, showing the divinity of Jesus who came to the world to declare God the Father (John. 1:18).

  “In whom I am well pleased.” God admitted who He is and what He has done all well pleased God the Father. It implies that we should hear Him (Matt. 17:5).

   Spiritual Meaning: “in bodily form like a dove”, “dove” is the sign of the Holy Spirit, symbolizes the gentleness, the meekness and the simplicity of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit of God descended upon Him, showing that He is Christ (the anointed one) who is anointed by God with the Holy Spirit.

  The heaven was opened to him (See v.21). This shows that He was acceptable to God; and the Holy Spirit descended upon Him, showing that God gave Him the power of service. 

   Enlightenment in the Word:

1) The Lord had been baptized with water and the Holy Spirit before the assembly received the baptism of water and the Spirit. It shows that all spiritual reality and principles are firstly in the head. The full Christ is the fountain of all spiritual abundance.

2) The heavens, used to be shut up because of men’s betrayal, were opened to Him for His obedience to the authority of the heavens. Then all the heavenly abundance was brought down-------the Spirit of God, the words of God and the delight of God.

3) We should ask the Lord to pour the Holy Spirit out on us richly (Tit. 3:6) to make us receive the power and bear good witness of the Lord (Acts. 1:8, 2:18-21).

4) The one who is full of the Holy Spirit will be, like a dove, gentle to men and sincere and simple to God.

5) The anointing oil declares the ownership of God (Lev. 8:12, 30). If we want to be possessed by God, we must go through the procedure of rising up from the dead.

6) Jesus is God’s Beloved Son------son is the manifestation and declaration of father------only through the Lord Jesus could we see and know God.

         7) In Christ God is well pleased------if we want to please God, we should listen to the Lord only and abide in the Lord.

8) The praise from God the Father to the Lord shows that:

    a) The life of thirty years of the Lord Jesus before the baptism well pleased God.

    b) The obedience of the Lord Jesus that was shown by the baptism was well acceptable to God.


Luke. 3:23 “Now Jesus Himself began His ministry at about thirty years of age, being (as was supposed) the son of Joseph, the son of Heli,

   YLT: “And Jesus himself was beginning to be about thirty years of age, being, as was supposed, son of Joseph,”

   The Background: the sons of Levi were able to enter into the service from thirty years old (See Num. 4:3, 47).

   Literal Meaning: “being (as was supposed) the son of Joseph.” The Lord Jesus is the Holy one who was conceived in Mary by the Holy Spirit (See 1:35) and He was not the son of Joseph. However, Joseph became the husband of Mary later and therefore He was regarded as the son of Joseph in the eyes of men.

  “The son of Heli” Joseph was actually the son of Jacob (See Matt. 1:16) and Heli was the father of Mary and the father-in-law of Joseph. The relationship between the Jewish father-in-law and the son-in-law is like the relationship between father and son and the Jewish father-in-law call his son-in-law “son” directly (See 1Sam. 24:16).

  The Bible scholars generally believed that the line of Joseph was recorded in the genealogy in the Gospel of Matthew and the line of Mary was recorded in the Gospel of Luke and there were four reasons at least:

  a) The genealogy of Joseph has already been recorded obviously in the Gospel of Matthew (Matt. 1:2-16).

  b) In the beginning of the Gospel of Luke, the position of Mary was more prominent than that of Joseph (See 1:27-38), however, the beginning of the Gospel of Matthew was contrary to that in the Gospel of Luke (See Matt. 1:16-25).

  c) Luke, unlike Matthew who recorded the genealogy with “somebody begot somebody”, recorded the genealogy with “somebody, the son of somebody” to show that the former may not be the latter’s own, for example: the Lord Jesus was not Joseph’s own and Joseph was not Heli’s own.

  d) In the original, there is a definite article (the) with the possessive case before every name in the genealogy that was recorded in the Gospel of Luke. But the only exception is that there is not the definite article (the) before the name of Joseph. This shows that the reason why Joseph was in this genealogy is His marital relation with Mary.


Luke. 3:24 “the son of Matthat, the son of Levi, the son of Melchi, the son of Janna, the son of Joseph,

   YLT: “the [son] of Eli, the [son] of Matthat, the [son] of Levi, the [son] of Melchi, the [son] of Janna, the [son] of Joseph,”


Luke. 3:25 “the son of Mattathiah, the son of Amos, the son of Nahum, the son of Esli, the son of Naggai,

   YLT: “the [son] of Mattathias, the [son] of Amos, the [son] of Naum, the [son] of Esli,”


Luke. 3:26 “the son of Maath, the son of Mattathiah, the son of Semei, the son of Joseph, the son of Judah,

   YLT: “the [son] of Naggai, the [son] of Maath, the [son] of Mattathias, the [son] of Semei, the [son] of Joseph, the [son] of Juda,”


Luke. 3:27 “the son of Joannas, the son of Rhesa, the son of Zerubbabel, the son of Shealtiel, the son of Neri,

   YLT: “the [son] of Joanna, the [son] of Rhesa, the [son] of Zerubbabel, the [son] of Shealtiel,”


Luke. 3:28 “the son of Melchi, the son of Addi, the son of Cosam, the son of Elmodam, the son of Er,

   YLT: “the [son] of Neri, the [son] of Melchi, the [son] of Addi, the [son] of Cosam, the [son] of Elmodam, the [son] of Er,”


Luke. 3:29 “the son of Jose, the son of Eliezer, the son of Jorim, the son of Matthat, the son of Levi,

   YLT: “the [son] of Jose, the [son] of Eliezer, the [son] of Jorim, the [son] of Matthat,”


Luke. 3:30 “the son of Simeon, the son of Judah, the son of Joseph, the son of Jonan, the son of Eliakim,

   YLT: “the [son] of Levi, the [son] of Simeon, the [son] of Juda, the [son] of Joseph, the [son] of Jonan, the [son] of Eliakim,”


Luke. 3:31 “the son of Melea, the son of Menan, the son of Mattathah, the son of Nathan, the son of David,

   YLT: “the [son] of Melea, the [son] of Mainan, the [son] of Mattatha, the [son] of Nathan,”

   Literal Meaning: “Nathan, the son of David” “David” was also recorded in the genealogy in the Gospel of Matthew (See Matt. 1:6) and the difference between the two genealogies is that in the Gospel of Matthew the ancestor of Joseph was Solomon who was another son of David and the ancestor of Mary here was Nathan who was the son of David. Joseph was a descent of Solomon and Mary was a descent of Nathan.


Luke. 3:32 “the son of Jesse, the son of Obed, the son of Boaz, the son of Salmon, the son of Nahshon,

   YLT: “the [son] of David, the [son] of Jesse, the [son] of Obed, the [son] of Booz, the [son] of Salmon, the [son] of Nahshon,”

   Literal Meaning: the genealogy from David to Abraham (v.32-34) is on all fours with that in the Gospel of Matthew (See Matt. 1:2-6).


Luke. 3:33 “the son of Amminadab, the son of Ram, the son of Hezron, the son of Perez, the son of Judah,

   YLT: “the [son] of Amminadab, the [son] of Aram, the [son] of Esrom, the [son] of Pharez,”


Luke. 3:34 “the son of Jacob, the son of Isaac, the son of Abraham, the son of Terah, the son of Nahor,

   YLT: “the [son] of Judah, the [son] of Jacob, the [son] of Isaac, the [son] of Abraham, the [son] of Terah, the [son] of Nahor,”

   Literal Meaning: the genealogy of the Gospel of Matthew only dates back to Abraham and it indicates the Lord Jesus’ relation with the Israel, however, the genealogy of the Gospel of Luke continues to date back to Adam (v.34-38) and it indicates the Lord’s relation with all human beings.

  “Abraham, the son of Terah” Please see the genealogy from Terah to Shem in Gen. 11:10-26.  


Luke. 3:35 “the son of Serug, the son of Reu, the son of Peleg, the son of Eber, the son of Shelah,

   YLT: “the [son] of Serug, the [son] of Reu, the [son] of Peleg, the [son] of Eber,”


Luke. 3:36 “the son of Cainan, the son of Arphaxad, the son of Shem, the son of Noah, the son of Lamech,

   YLT: “the [son] of Salah, the [son] of Cainan, the [son] of Arphaxad, the [son] of Shem, the [son] of Noah, the [son] of Lamech,”

   Literal Meaning: “Shem, the son of Noah” Please see the genealogy from Noah to Adam (v.38) in Gen. 5:1-32.


Luke. 3:37 “the son of Methuselah, the son of Enoch, the son of Jared, the son of Mahalalel, the son of Cainan,

   YLT: “the [son] of Methuselah, the [son] of Enoch, the [son] of Jared, the [son] of Mahalaleel,”


Luke. 3:38 “the son of Enosh, the son of Seth, the son of Adam, the son of God.

   YLT: “the [son] of Cainan, the [son] of Enos, the [son] of Seth, the [son] of Adam, the [son] of God.”

   Literal Meaning: “Adam, the son of God” It does not mean that God begot Adam and it means that God created Adam (See Gen. 5:1-2); “sons” are of fathers and God is the origin of Adam. 


III. Outlines of the Spiritual Lessons


The Example of the Lord’s Servants

I. The beginning of the service------the word of God came to John (v.2)------God’s calling and instruction. 

II. The message of the service:

  A. He preached a baptism of repentance for the remission of sins (v.3).

  B. He spread Christ (v.15-17).

  C. He preached the glad tidings (v.18).

III. The attitude of the service:

  A. The voice of one crying (v.4a)------he did not seek his own glory and was only a “voice”; “crying” shows that he was fully burdened in himself.

  B. Brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? (v.7)------he convicted others of guilt bluntly and directly.

  C. He blamed Herod the king who committed sins (v.19-20)------he did not fear the authority of men and stood up for justice.

IV. The aim of the service:

  A. Prepare the way of the LORD; Make His paths straight (v.4b)------pave the way for the Lord.

  B. All flesh shall see the salvation of God (v.6)------make men receive the salvation of God.

V. The items of the service (v.5):

  A. Every valley shall be filled------deal with the lust of men’s hearts.

  B. Every mountain and hill brought low ------deal with the pride of men’s hearts.

  C. The crooked places shall be made straight------deal with the deceitfulness of men’s hearts.

  D. The rough ways smooth ------deal with the unpeace and resentment of men’s hearts. 

VI. The way of the service------individualized instruction:

  A. To common people------help the poor (v.10-11).

  B. To tax collectors------do not blackmail anyone (v.12-13).

  C. To soldiers------do not intimidate anyone (v.14).


The Knowledge of the Repentance

I. The expression of the repentance------receive the baptism of the repentance (v.3b).

II. The aim of the repentance------for the remission of sins (v.3c).

III. The result of the repentance------flee from the wrath to come (v.7).

IV. The proof of the repentance------bear fruits worthy of repentance (v.8).


Three Kinds of Baptisms (v.16)

I. John’s baptism of water------makes men repent and confess their sins.

II. The Lord’s baptism of the spirit------makes men have the life of the spirit.

III. The Lord’s baptism of fire------it is for judgment and it burns everything that is besides God.


The Meaning of the Baptism of Fire (v.16)

I. The fire cleanses men------remove the impurities of life.

II. The fire shines men------the Holy Spirit shines as fire and makes men know God and truth.

III. The fire lightens men------the Holy Spirit lightens the spirit of men with the heavenly fire.


Two Kinds of People (v.17)

I. “Wheat” -----with life------will be gathered “into the barn”;

II. “Chaff” ------with vain appearance------will be “burned up with unquenchable fire”.


The Results of the Lord’s Being Baptized (v.21-22)

I. The heaven was opened.

II. The Holy Spirit descended in bodily form like a dove upon Him.

III. A voice of praise came from heaven to bear witness of Him.


── Caleb HuangChristian Digest Bible Commentary Series

   Translated by Sharon Ren