Luke 3:1
Now in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, Pontius Pilate being governor of Judaea, and Herod being tetrarch of Galilee, and his brother Philip tetrarch of Ituraea and of the region of Trachonitis, and Lysanias the tetrarch of Abilene,
Jump to: AlfordBarnesBengelBensonBICalvinCambridgeClarkeDarbyEllicottExpositor'sExp DctExp GrkGaebeleinGSBGillGrayHaydockHastingsHomileticsICCJFBKellyKJTLangeMacLarenMHCMHCWMeyerParkerPNTPoolePulpitSermonSCOTTBVWSWESTSK

(1) Now in the fifteenth year . . .—The opening of the main narrative is characteristic of St. Luke’s desire to follow in the footsteps of regular historians, and to name the rulers of any regions that were affected, directly or indirectly, by the events which he narrates.

Tiberius Cæsar.—He had succeeded Augustus A.D. 14, so that we get the date A.D. 29 for the commencement of the Baptist’s ministry. The history of his rule lies outside the scope of this Commentary; but the rise of the city Tiberias, and the new name—the sea of Tiberias—given to the lake of Galilee, may be noted as evidence of the desire of the Tetrarch Antipas to court his favour.

Pontius Pilate.—See Note on Matthew 27:2. He had entered on his office of Procurator in A.D. 26.

Herod being tetrarch of Galilee.—The Tetrarch was commonly known as Antipas (a shortened form of Antipater) to distinguish him from his brothers. He had succeeded his father on his death, B.C. 4 or 3. The date of his birth is uncertain, but he must have been over fifty at this time. He was deposed A.D. 39.

Philip tetrarch of Ituræa.—Not the Philip whose wife Antipas had married (see Note on Matthew 14:3), and who was the son of Mariamne, but his half-brother, the son of a Cleopatra of Jerusalem. On the division of Herod’s kingdom he received Batanæa, Trachonitis, Auranitis, and a district near Jamnia, and governed with equity and moderation. The city of Cæsarea Philippi, on the site of Paneas, was built by him (see Note on Matthew 16:13), and he raised the eastern Bethsaida to the rank of a city under the name of Julias. Our Lord’s ministry brought Him into the region under Philip’s rule just before the Transfiguration (Matthew 17:1).

Ituræa offers a link between the Old Testament and the New. It. was named after Jetur (pronounced Yetur) a son of Ishmael (Genesis 25:15). Aristobulus conquered it about B.C. 55, and offered its inhabitants the choice of exile or Judaism. Some submitted, others found a refuge in the slopes of Hermon. When conquered by Augustus, B.C. 20, it was given to Herod the Great, and was bequeathed by him to Philip. The region lay between Hermon, Trachonitis, Gaulanitis, and the plain of Damascus, and consisted generally of basaltic rock. The old name appears in the modern Jedur.

Trachonitis.—This, like Ituræa, is mentioned here, and here only, in the Bible. It corresponds with the Argob of Deuteronomy 3:14, and with the modern El Lejah. Both the Hebrew and the Greek names point to the rocky character of the region with its caves and cliffs. It was conquered, like Ituræa, by Augustus, and by him given to Herod. It lay somewhat to the south of that province and to the north of the Hauran.

Lysanias the tetrarch of Abilene.—The district so named (probably from Abel, the Hebrew for a “grassy meadow”) lay on the eastern slope of the range of the Anti-Libanus, and was watered by the Barada. The name of Lysanias appears as its ruler from the time of Antony and Cleopatra to that of Claudius, and passed probably, therefore, through two or three generations. An inscription, with his name as tetrarch, was found by Pococke in the seventeenth century. There is no reason for thinking that our Lord’s journeyings ever extended thus far, but St. Luke’s may very probably have done so, and this may account for his mentioning the district and its ruler.

(1) In St. Matthew, Joseph appears as the son of Matthan, the grandson of Jacob; here as the son of Heli, and grandson of Matthat.

(1) The difficulty presented here admits of at least three explanations, (a) Joseph may have been the son of Jacob by birth, and of Heli by adoption, or conversely. (b) Jacob and Heli may have been half brothers—sons of the same mother—by different fathers, Matthan and Matthat, or these two may be different forms of the name of the same person, and one of the two brothers may have died without issue, and the other married his widow to raise up seed unto his brother. On either of these assumptions, both the genealogies give Joseph’s descent. This would be sufficient, as St. Matthew’s record shows, to place the son of Mary in the position of the heir of the house of David. We have, however, on this theory, to account for the fact that two different genealogies were treasured up in the family of Joseph; and the explanation commonly offered is natural enough. St. Matthew, it is said, gives the line of kingly succession, the names of those who were, one after another, the heirs of the royal house; St. Luke that of Joseph’s natural parentage, descending from David as the parent stock, but through the line of Nathan, and taking by adoption its place in the royal line when that had failed. The fact that from David to Salathiel St. Matthew gives us the line of kings, and St. Luke that of those who were outside the line, is so far in favour of this hypothesis. (c) A third and, as it seems to the present writer, more probable view is, that we have here the genealogy, not of Joseph, but of Mary, the words “being (as was supposed) the son of Joseph” being a parenthesis, and the first link being Jesus (the heir, and in that sense, son, of Heli). On this hypothesis, the Virgin, as well as Joseph, was of the house and lineage of David; and our Lord was literally, as well as by adoption, “of the seed of David according to the flesh” (Romans 1:3), on the mother’s side through the line of Nathan, on the reputed father’s through that of Solomon. This view has at least the merit of giving a sufficient reason for the appearance of the two different genealogies. Everything too, as we have seen in the Introduction, points to the conclusion that the materials for the first three chapters of St. Luke’s Gospel came to him through the company of devout women who gathered round the mother of Jesus; and if so, what more natural than that they should have preserved and passed on to him the document on which she rested her claim to be of David’s lineage?



Luke 3:1 - Luke 3:14

Why does Luke enumerate so carefully the civil and ecclesiastical authorities in Luke 3:1 - Luke 3:2? Not only to fix the date, but, in accordance with the world-wide aspect of his Gospel, to set his narrative in relation with secular history; and, further, to focus into one vivid beam of light the various facts which witnessed to the sunken civil and darkened moral and religious condition of the Jews. What more needed to be said to prove how the ancient glory had faded, than that they were under the rule of such a delegate as Pilate, of such an emperor as Tiberius, and that the bad brood of Herod’s descendants divided the sacred land between them, and that the very high-priesthood was illegally administered, so that such a pair as Annas and Caiaphas held it in some irregular fashion between them? It was clearly high time for John to come, and for the word of God to come to him.

The wilderness had nourished the stern, solitary spirit of the Baptist, and there the consciousness of his mission and his message ‘came to him’-a phrase which at once declares his affinity with the old prophets. Out of the desert he burst on the nation, sudden as lightning, and cleaving like it. Luke says nothing as to his garb or food, but goes straight to the heart of his message, ‘The baptism of repentance unto remission of sins,’ in which expression the ‘remission’ depends neither on ‘baptism’ alone, nor on ‘repentance’ alone. The outward act was vain if unaccompanied by the state of mind and will; the state of mind was proved genuine by submitting to the act.

In Luke 3:7 - Luke 3:14 John’s teaching as the preacher of repentance is summarised. Why did he meet the crowds that streamed out to him with such vehement rebuke? One would have expected him to welcome them, instead of calling them ‘offspring of vipers,’ and seeming to be unwilling that they should flee from the wrath to come. But Luke tells why. They wished to be baptized, but there is no word of their repentance. Rather, they were trusting to their descent as exempting them from the approaching storm, so that their baptism would not have been the baptism which John required, being devoid of repentance. Just because they thought themselves safe as being ‘children of Abraham,’ they deserved John’s rough name, ‘ye offspring of vipers.’

Rabbinical theology has much to say about ‘the merits of the fathers.’ John, like every prophet who had ever spoken to the nation of judgments impending, felt that the sharp edge of his words was turned by the obstinate belief that judgments were for the Gentile, and never would touch the Jew. Do we not see the same unbelief that God can ever visit England with national destruction in full force among ourselves? Not the virtues of past generations, but the righteousness of the present one, is the guarantee of national exaltation.

John’s crowds were eager to be baptized as an additional security, but were slow to repent. If heaven could be secured by submitting to a rite, ‘multitudes’ would come for it, but the crowd thins quickly when the administrator of the rite becomes the vehement preacher of repentance. That is so to-day as truly as it was so by the fords of Jordan. John demanded not only repentance, but its ‘fruits,’ for there is no virtue in a repentance which does not change the life, were such possible.

Repentance is more than sorrow for sin. Many a man has that, and yet rushes again into the old mire. To change the mind and will is not enough, unless the change is certified to be real by deeds corresponding. So John preached the true nature of repentance when he called for its fruits. And he preached the greatest motive for it which he knew, when he pressed home on sluggish consciences the close approach of a judgment for which everything was ready, the axe ground to a fine edge, and lying at the root of the trees. If it lay there, there was no time to lose; if it still lay, there was time to repent before it was swinging round the woodman’s head. We have a higher motive for repentance in ‘the goodness of God’ leading to it. But there is danger that modern Christianity should think too little of ‘the terror of the Lord,’ and so should throw away one of the strongest means of persuading men. John’s advice to the various classes of hearers illustrates the truth that the commonest field of duty and the homeliest acts may become sacred. Not high-flying, singular modes of life, abandoning the vulgar tasks, but the plainest prose of jog-trot duty will follow and attest real repentance. Every calling has its temptations-that is to say, every one has its opportunities of serving God by resisting the Devil.Luke 3:1-2. Now in the fifteenth year of Tiberius — Reckoning from the time when Augustus made him his colleague in the empire: Pontius Pilate being governor of Judea — He was made governor in consequence of Archelaus being banished, and his kingdom reduced into a Roman province. See note on Matthew 2:22. And Herod — Namely, Herod Antipas; being tetrarch of Galilee — The dominions of Herod the Great were, after his death, divided into four parts or tetrarchies: this Herod, his son, reigned over that fourth part of his dominions. His brother Philip reigned over another fourth part, namely, the region of Iturea and that of Trachonitis; (that tract of land on the other side Jordan, which had formerly belonged to the tribe of Manasseh;) and Lysanias, (probably descended from a prince of that name, who was some years before governor of that country,) was tetrarch of Abilene, which was a large city of Syria, whose territories reached to Lebanon and Damascus, and contained great numbers of Jews. Annas and Caiaphas being the high- priests — “By the original constitution of the Israelitish state, one only could be high-priest at one time, and the office was for life. But after the nation had fallen under the power of foreigners, great liberties were taken with the sacred office; and high-priests, though still of the pontifical family of Aaron, were put in or out arbitrarily, as suited the humour, the interest, or the political views of their rulers. And though it does not appear that they ever appointed two to officiate jointly in that station, there is some probability that the Romans about this time made the office annual, and that Annas and Caiaphas enjoyed it by turns. See John 11:49; John 18:13; Acts 4:6. If this was the case, which is not unlikely; or if, as some think, the sagan, or deputy, is comprehended under the same title, we cannot justly be surprised that they should be named as colleagues by the evangelist. In any event it may have been usual, through courtesy, to continue to give the title to those who had ever enjoyed that dignity, which, when they had no king, was the greatest in the nation.” — Campbell. Thus the time of the public appearance of John the Baptist, the harbinger of the Messiah, is distinctly marked by Luke; for he tells us the year of the Roman emperor in which it happened, and mentions, not only the governor or procurator of Judea, and the high-priest who then officiated, but several contemporary princes who reigned in the neighbouring kingdoms. By his care, in this particular, he has fixed exactly the era of the commencement of the gospel. The word of God came unto John — John, the son of Zacharias and forerunner of Jesus, was a priest by descent, and a prophet by office, (Luke 1:76.) He was surnamed the Baptist, from his baptizing his disciples; (see note on Matthew 3:1;) and was foretold anciently under the name of Elijah, because he was to come in the spirit and power of that prophet. From his infancy he dwelt in the wilderness, or hill-country, with his father, till the word of God, by prophetic inspiration, or, as some think, by an audible voice from heaven, such as the prophets of old heard, and which he knew to be God’s by the majesty thereof, came to him — Called him forth to enter upon the work to which he was destined before he was conceived in the womb, namely, to prepare the Jews for the reception of the Messiah.3:1-14 The scope and design of John's ministry were, to bring the people from their sins, and to their Saviour. He came preaching, not a sect, or party, but a profession; the sign or ceremony was washing with water. By the words here used John preached the necessity of repentance, in order to the remission of sins, and that the baptism of water was an outward sign of that inward cleansing and renewal of heart, which attend, or are the effects of true repentance, as well as a profession of it. Here is the fulfilling of the Scriptures, Isa 40:3, in the ministry of John. When way is made for the gospel into the heart, by taking down high thoughts, and bringing them into obedience to Christ, by levelling the soul, and removing all that hinders us in the way of Christ and his grace, then preparation is made to welcome the salvation of God. Here are general warnings and exhortations which John gave. The guilty, corrupted race of mankind is become a generation of vipers; hateful to God, and hating one another. There is no way of fleeing from the wrath to come, but by repentance; and by the change of our way the change of our mind must be shown. If we are not really holy, both in heart and life, our profession of religion and relation to God and his church, will stand us in no stead at all; the sorer will our destruction be, if we do not bring forth fruits meet for repentance. John the Baptist gave instructions to several sorts of persons. Those that profess and promise repentance, must show it by reformation, according to their places and conditions. The gospel requires mercy, not sacrifice; and its design is, to engage us to do all the good we can, and to be just to all men. And the same principle which leads men to forego unjust gain, leads to restore that which is gained by wrong. John tells the soldiers their duty. Men should be cautioned against the temptations of their employments. These answers declared the present duty of the inquirers, and at once formed a test of their sincerity. As none can or will accept Christ's salvation without true repentance, so the evidence and effects of this repentance are here marked out.Now in the fifteenth year - This was the "thirteenth" year of his being sole emperor. He was "two" years joint emperor with Augustus, and Luke reckons from the time when he was admitted to share the empire with Augustus Caesar. See Lardner's "Credibility," vol. i.

Tiberius Caesar - Tiberius succeeded Augustus in the empire, and began his "sole" reign Aug. 19th, 14 a.d. He was a most infamous character - a scourge to the Roman people. He reigned 23 years, and was succeeded by "Caius Caligula," whom he appointed his successor on account of his notorious wickedness, and that he might be, as he expressed it, a "serpent" to the Romans.

Pontius Pilate - Herod the Great left his kingdom to three sons. See the notes at Matthew 2:22. To "Archelaus" he left "Judea." Archelaus reigned "nine" years, when, on account of his crimes, he was banished into Vienne, and Judea was made a Roman province, and placed entirely under Roman governors or "procurators," and became completely tributary to Rome. "Pontius Pilate" was the "fifth" governor that had been sent, and of course had been in Judea but a short time. (See the chronological table.)

Herod being tetrarch of Galilee - This was "Herod Antipas" son of Herod the Great, to whom Galilee had been left as his part of his father's kingdom. The word "tetrarch" properly denotes one who presides over a "fourth part" of a country or province; but it also came to be a general title, denoting one who reigned over any part - a third, a half, etc. In this case Herod had a "third" of the dominions of his father, but he was called tetrarch. It, was this Herod who imprisoned John the Baptist, and to whom our Saviour, when arraigned, was sent by Pilate.

And his brother Philip tetrarch of Iturea - "Iturea" was so called from "Jetur," one of the sons of Ishmael, Genesis 25:15; 1 Chronicles 1:31. It was situated on the east side of the Jordan, and was taken from the descendants of Jetur by the tribes of Reuben and Gad and the half tribe of Manasseh, 1 Chronicles 5:19.

Region of Trachonitis - This region was also on the east of the Jordan, and extended northward to the district of Damascus and eastward to the deserts of Arabia. It was bounded on the west by Gaulonitis and south by the city of Bostra. Philip had obtained this region from the Romans on condition that he would extirpate the robbers.

Lysanias the tetrarch of Abilene - Abilene was so called from "Abila," its chief city. It was situated in Syria, northwest of Damascus and southeast of Mount Lebanon, and was adjacent to Galilee.


Lu 3:1-20. Preaching, Baptism, and Imprisonment of John.

(See on [1543]Mt 3:1-12; [1544]Mr 6:17, &c.).

1, 2. Here the curtain of the New Testament is, as it were, drawn up, and the greatest of all epochs of the Church commences. Even our Lord's own age (Lu 3:23) is determined by it [Bengel]. No such elaborate chronological precision is to be found elsewhere in the New Testament, and it comes fitly from him who claims it as the peculiar recommendation of his Gospel, that he had "accurately traced down all things from the first" (Lu 1:3). Here, evidently, commences his proper narrative. Also see on [1545]Mt 3:1.

the fifteenth year of Tiberius—reckoning from the period when he was admitted, three years before Augustus' death, to a share of the empire [Webster and Wilkinson], about the end of the year of Rome 779, or about four years before the usual reckoning.

Pilate … governor of Judea—His proper title was Procurator, but with more than the usual powers of that office. After holding it about ten years he was ordered to Rome, to answer to charges brought against him, but ere he arrived Tiberius died (A.D. 35), and soon after Pilate committed suicide.

Herod—(See on [1546]Mr 6:14).

Philip—a different and very superior Philip to the one whose wife Herodias went to live with Herod Antipas. (See Mr 6:17).

Iturea—to the northeast of Palestine; so called from Ishmael's son Itur or Jetur (1Ch 1:31), and anciently belonging to the half tribe of Manasseh.

Trachonitis—farther to the northeast, between Iturea and Damascus; a rocky district, infested by robbers, and committed by Augustus to Herod the Great to keep in order.

Abilene—still more to the northeast, so called from Abila, eighteen miles from Damascus [Robinson].Luke 3:1-14 The preaching and baptism of John.

Luke 3:15-18 His testimony of Christ.

Luke 3:19,20 Herod imprisons John for his free reproof.

Luke 3:21,22 Christ is baptized, and receiveth testimony from heaven.

Luke 3:23-38 The age and genealogy of Christ from Joseph upwards.

Ver. 1,2. The evangelist having given us an account both of the birth of John the Baptist and of our Saviour, and of all the prophecies preceding and attending them both, leaving the history of our Saviour a little, cometh to give us an account of the history of John the Baptist, his entrance upon his public ministry, and fulfilling of it. John the Baptist had six months seniority of our Saviour, and probably did appear so long before him to the world as a public minister; the time of his beginning was in

the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar. Tiberius Caesar was he who next succeeded Augustus (for all the Roman emperors after Julius Caesar were called Caesars, as all the kings of Egypt were called Pharaohs): he was as wicked a prince as most who ruled the Roman empire. Herod the Great (in whose time Christ was born) was some time since dead. Archelaus began to rule in his stead as a king, but the Romans changing the government from a monarchy to a tetrarchy, (that is, a government of four), Archelaus had only the government of Judea; Herod Antipas, another son of Herod the Great, had the government of Galilee under the title of tetrarch; Philip, another son of his, had the government of Iturea and Trachonitis, under the same title of tetrarch; and one Lysanias had the government of Abilene: all four strangers. So as at this time the Jews were all under the government of foreigners, the sceptre or government was wholly departed from Judah. Archelaus was soon after sent into France, and Pontius Pilate made procurator or governor of Judea and Samaria. Annas and Caiaphas were the high priests. By the law of God, the eldest son of the family of Aaron was to be the high priest. How there came to be at this time two high priests is not agreed amongst interpreters. Those who are curious in this inquiry may see what Mr. Pool hath collected for their satisfaction in his Synopsis. We must know, that at this time the Jews were under the power of the Romans, and all things amongst them were out of order. Some say the Jews had liberty to choose their high priest, but then their conquerors would turn him out, and sell the place to another. Others say that the high priest had his deputy, who also obtained the same title. Others think, that as they had made the high priesthood an office, to which they chose one annually, (which was by God’s law an office for life), so the high priest of the former year still retained his title for another year. We are at no certainty in these things. It is certain that at this time there were two that bore the title of the high priest, upon what account we cannot tell. It appeareth from John 18:13, that the same men three or four years after bore this title of high priest, whether chosen again or not we do not know.

But this was the time when the word of God came unto John the son of Zacharias in the wilderness; the same John of which we heard before. The word of the Lord came to him, commanding him out to preach the gospel. It is a phrase which is often used in the Old Testament, to signify the influence of the Spirit of God upon the prophets, quickening them to their work; and signifieth to us, that no man ought to take this honour unto himself until he be called of God, nor to speak in the name of the Lord until first the word of God cometh to him.

Now in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar,.... Emperor of Rome, and the third of the Caesars; Julius was the first, and Augustus the second, in whose time Christ was born, and this Tiberius the third; he was the son of Livia, the wife of Augustus, but not by him; but was adopted by him, into the empire: his name was Claudius Tiberius Nero, and for his intemperance was called, Caldius Biberius Mero; the whole of his reign was upwards of twenty two years, for he died in the twenty third year of his reign (g); and in the fifteenth of it, John began to preach, Christ was baptized, and began to preach also; so that this year may be truly called, "the acceptable year of the Lord".

Pontius Pilate being governor of Judea; under the Emperor Tiberius, in whose reign the Jewish chronologer (h) places him, and the historian (i) also, and make mention of him as sent by him to Jerusalem: he was not the first governor of Judea for the Romans; there were before him Coponius, Marcus Ambivius, Annins Rufus, and Valerius Gratus:

and Herod being tetrarch of Galilee; this was Herod Antipas, the son of Herod the great, and brother of Archelaus; the above chronologer (k) calls him also a tetrarch, and places him under Tiberius Caesar: he is sometimes called a king, and so he is by the Ethiopic version here called "king of Galilee"; and in the Arabic version, "prince over the fourth part of Galilee"; besides Galilee, he had also Peraea, or the country beyond Jordan, as Josephus (l) says, and which seems here to be included in Galilee; See Gill on Matthew 14:1.

And his brother Philip tetrarch of Iturea, and of the region of Trachonitis: Pliny (m) makes mention of the nation of the Itureans, as belonging to Coele Syria; perhaps Iturea is the same with Batanea, or Auranitis, or both; since these with Trachon, the same with Trachonitis here, are allotted to Philip by Josephus (n): it seems to take its name from Jetur, one of the sons of Ishmael, Genesis 25:15 Trachonitis is mentioned by Pliny (o), as near to Decapolis, and as a region and tetrarchy, as here: Ptolemy (p) speaks of the Trachonite Arabians, on the east of Batanea, or Bashan: the region of Trachona, or Trachonitis, with the Targumists (q), answers to the country of Argob. This Philip, who as before by Josephus, so by Egesippus (r), is said, in agreement with Luke, to be tetrarch of Trachonitis, was brother to Herod Antipas, by the father's, but not by the mother's side. Philip was born of Cleopatra, of Jerusalem, and Herod of Malthace, a Samaritan (s): he died in the twentieth year of Tiberius (t), five years after this:

and Lysanias the tetrarch of Abilene: mention is made of Abila by Pliny (u), as in Coele Syria, from whence this tetrarchy might have its name; and by Ptolemy (w), it is called Abila of Lysanius, from this, or some other governor of it, of that name; and the phrase, "from Abilene to Jerusalem", is to be met with in the Talmud (x), which doubtless designs this same place: who this Lysanias was, is not certain; he was not the son of Herod the great, as Eusebius suggests (y), nor that Lysanias, the son of Ptolemy Minnaeus, whom Josephus (z) speaks of, though very probably he might be a descendant of his: however, when Tiberius Caesar reigned at Rome, and Pontius Pilate governed in Judea, and Herod Antipas in Galilee, and Philip his brother in Iturea and Trachonitis, and Lysanias in Abilene, John the Baptist began to preach and baptize; to fix the area of whose ministry and baptism, all this is said.

(g) Suetou. Octav. Aug. c. 62, 63. & Tiberius Nero, c. 21, 49, 73. (h) R. David Ganz par. 2. fol. 15. 1.((i) Joseph. de Bello, Jud. l. 2. c. 9. sect. 2, 3.((k) Par. 1. fol. 25. 2.((l) De Bello Jud. l. 2. c. 6. sect. 5. (m) Nat. Hist. l. 5. c. 23. (n) Ib. ut supra. (de Bello, Jud. l. 2. c. 9. sect. 2, 3.) (o) Nat. Hist. l. 5. c. 12. (p) Lib. 5. c. 15. (q) Targum Jon. in Deuteronomy 3.4. 14. 1 Kings 13. & T. Hiefos. in Deuteronomy 3.14. & Numbers 34.15. (r) De Excid. l. 1. c. 46. & 3. 26. (s) Joseph de Bello Jud. l. 1. c. 28. (t) Ib. Antiqu. l. 18. c. 6. (u) Lib. 5. c. 18. (w) Lib. 5. c. 15. (x) T. Bab. Bava Kama, fol. 59. 2.((y) Hist. Eccl l. 1. c. 9. 10. (z) De Belle Jud. l. 1. c. 13. sect. 1.

Now {1} in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, Pontius Pilate being governor of Judaea, and Herod being tetrarch of Galilee, and his brother Philip tetrarch of Ituraea and of the region of Trachonitis, and Lysanias the tetrarch of Abilene,

(1) John comes at the time foretold by the prophets and lays the foundation of the gospel which is exhibited unto us, setting forth the true observing of the law and free mercy in Christ, which comes after John, using also baptism which is the outward sign both of regeneration and also forgiveness of sins.

Luke 3:1-2. As, on the one hand, Matthew 3:1 introduces the appearance of the Baptist without any definite note of time, only with ἐν δὲ ταῖς ἡμέραις ἐκείναις; so, on the other, Luke (“the first writer who frames the Gospel history into the great history of the world by giving precise dates,” Ewald), in fulfilment of his intention, Luke 1:3, gives for that highly important starting-point of the proclamation of the Gospel (“hic quasi scena N. T. panditur,” Bengel) a date specified by a sixfold reference to the history of the period, so as to indicate the emperor at Rome and the governors of Palestine, as well as the high priest of the time; namely—(1) in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar. Augustus, who was succeeded by his step-son Tiberius, died on the 19th August 767, or the fourteenth year of the era of Dionysius. See Suetonius, Octav. 100. Accordingly, it might appear doubtful whether Luke reckons the year 767 or the year 768 as the first; similarly, as Tiberius became co-regent at the end of 764, or in January 765 (Tacit. Ann. i. 3; Sueton. Tib. 20 f.; Velleius Paterculus, ii. 121), whether Luke begins to reckon from the commencment of the co-regency (Ussher, Voss, Pagius, Clericus, Sepp, Lichtenstein, Tischendorf, and others), or of the sole-government. Since, however, no indication is added which would lead us away from the mode of reckoning the years of the emperors usual among the Romans, and followed even by Josephus,[65] we must abide by the view that the fifteenth year in the passage before us is the year from the 19th August 781 to the same date 782. See also Anger, zur Chronologie d. Lehramtes Christi, I., Leipzig 1848; Ideler, Chronol. I. p. 418. Authentication from coins; Saulcy, Athen. français. 1855, p. 639 f.—(2) When Pontius Pilate (see on Matthew 27:2) was procurator of Judaea. He held office from the end of 778, or beginning of 779, until 789, in which year he was recalled after an administration of ten years; Joseph. Antt. xviii. 4. 2.—(3) When Herod was tetrarch of Galilee. Herod Antipas (see on Matthew 2:22; Matthew 14:1); this crafty, unprincipled man of the world became tetrarch after the death of his father Herod the Great in 750, and remained so until his deposition in 792.—(4) When Philip his brother was tetrarch of Ituraea and Trachonitis. This paternal prince (see Ewald, Gesch. Chr. p. 45 f.) became prince in 750, and his reign lasted till his death in 786 or 787, Joseph. Antt. xviii. 4. 6. His government extended also over Batanaea and Auranitis, Joseph. Antt. xvii. 11. 4, as that of Herod Antipas also took in Peraea. For information as to Ituraea, the north-eastern province of Palestine (Münter, de rebus Ituraeor. 1824), and as to the neighbouring Trachonitis between the Antilibanus and the Arabian mountain ranges, see Winer, Realwört.—(5) When Lysanias was tetrarch of Abilene. See especially, Hug, Gutacht. I. p. 119 ff.; Ebrard, p. 180 ff.; Wieseler, p. 174 ff.; Schweizer in the Theol. Jahrb. 1847, p. 1 ff. (who treats the chronology of Luke very unfairly); Wieseler in Herzog’s Encykl. I. p. 64ff.; Lichtenstein, p. 131 ff.; Bleek in loc. The Lysanias, son of Ptolemaeus, known from Josephus, Antt. xv. 4. 1; Dio Cass. 49. 32, as having been murdered by Antony at the instigation of Cleopatra in 718, cannot here be meant, unless Luke has perpetrated a gross chronological blunder; which latter case, indeed, Strauss, Gfrörer, B. Bauer, Hilgenfeld take for granted; while Valesius, on Eus. H. E. i. 10; Michaelis, Paulus,[66] Schneckenburger in the Stud. u. Krit. 1833, p. 1064, would mend matters uncritically enough by omitting τετραρχοῦντος (which is never omitted in Luke, see Tischendorf); and the remaining expression: ΚΑῚ Τῆς ΛΥΣΑΝΊΟΥ ἈΒΙΛΗΝῆς some have attempted to construe, others to guess at the meaning. After the murder of that older Lysanias who is mentioned as ruler of (ΔΥΝΑΣΤΕΎΩΝ) Chalcis, between Lebanon and Antilibanus (Joseph. Antt. xiv. 7. 4), Antony presented a great part of his possessions to Cleopatra (see Wieseler, p. 179), and she leased them to Herod. Soon afterwards Zenodorus received the lease of the οἶκος τοῦ Λυσανίου (Joseph. Antt. xv. 10. 1; Bell. Jud. i. 20. 4); but Augustus in 724 compelled him to give up a portion of his lands to Herod (Joseph. as above), who after the death of Zenodorus in 734 obtained the rest also, Antt. xv. 10. 3. After Herod’s death a part of the οἴκου τοῦ Ζηνοδώρου passed over to Philip (Antt. xvii. 11. 4; Bell. Jud. ii. 6. 3). It is consequently not to be proved that no portion of the territory of that older Lysanias remained in his family. This is rather to be assumed (Casaubon, Krebs, Süskind the elder, Kuinoel, Süskind the younger in the Stud. u. Krit. 1836, p. 431 ff.; Winer, and others), if it is supposed that Abilene also belonged to the principality of that elder Lysanias. But this supposition is itself deficient in proof, since Josephus designates the territory of the elder Lysanias as Chalcis (see above), and expressly distinguishes the kingdom of a later Lysanias, which Caligula (Antt. xviii. 6. 10) and Claudius bestowed on Agrippa I. (Antt. xix. 5. 1, xx. 7. 1; Bell. ii. 11. 5, ii. 12. 8) from the region of Chalcis (Bell. ii. 12. 8). But since Abila is first mentioned as belonging to the tetrarchy of this later Lysanias (Antt. xix. 5. 1), and since the kingdom of the elder Lysanias is nowhere designated a tetrarchy, although probably the territory of that younger one is so named,[67] it must be assumed that Josephus, when he mentions Ἄβιλαν τὴν Λυσανίου (Antt. xix. 5. 1), and speaks of a tetrarchy of Lysanias (Antt. xx. 7. 1; comp. Bell. ii. 11. 5, ii. 12. 8), still designates the region in question after that older Lysanias; but that before 790, when Caligula became emperor, a tetrarchy of a later Lysanias existed to which Abila[68] belonged, doubtless as his residence, whereas it is quite another question whether this latter Lysanias was a descendant or a relation of that elder one (see Krebs, Obss. p. 112). Thus the statement of Luke, by comparison with Josephus, instead of being shown to be erroneous, is confirmed.[69]—(6) When Annas was high priest, and Caiaphas. Comp. Acts 4:6. The reigning high priest at that time was Joseph, named Caiaphas (see on Matthew 26:3), who had been appointed by Valerius Gratus, the predecessor of Pontius Pilate, Joseph. Antt. xviii. 2, 2. His father-in-law Annas held the office of high priest some years before, until Valerius Gratus became procurator, when the office was taken away from him by the new governor, and conferred first on Ismael, then on Eleazar (a son of Annas), then on Simon, and after that on Caiaphas. See Josephus, l.c. This last continued in office from about 770 till 788 or 789. But Annas retained withal very weighty influence (John 18:12 ff.), so that not only did he, as did every one who had been ἀρχιερεύς, continue to be called by the name, but, moreover, he also partially discharged the functions of high priest. In this way we explain the certainly inaccurate expression of Luke (in which Lange, L. J. II. 1, p. 165, finds a touch of irony, an element surely quite foreign to the simply chronological context), informing the reader who may not be acquainted with the actual state of the case, that Annas was primarily and properly high priest, and next to him Caiaphas also. But according to Acts 4:6, Luke himself must have had this view, so that it must be conceded as a result that this expression is erroneous,—an error which, as it sprang from the predominating influence of Annas, was the more easily possible in proportion to the distance at which Luke stood from that time in which the high priests had changed so frequently; while Annas (whose son-in-law and five sons besides filled the office, Joseph. Antt. xx. 9. 1) was accustomed to keep his hand on the helm. To agree with the actual historical relation, Luke would have been obliged to write: ἐπὶ ἀρχιερέως Καϊάφα καὶ Ἄννα. Arbitrary shifts have been resorted to, such as: that at that period the two might have exchanged annually in the administration of the office (Beza, Chemnitz, Selden, Calovius, Hug, Friedlieb, Archäol. d. Leidensgesch. p. 73 ff.); that Annas was vicar (סגן, Lightfoot, p. 744 f.) of the high priest (so Scaliger, Casaubon, Grotius, Lightfoot, Reland, Wolf, Kuinoel, and others, comp. de Wette), which, however, is shown to be erroneous by his name being placed first; that he is here represented as princeps Synedrii (נשיא, Lightfoot, p. 746). So Selden, Saubert, Hammond, and recently Wieseler, Chronol. Synopse, p. 186 ff., and in Herzog’s Encykl. I. p. 354. But as ἀρχιερεύς nowhere of itself means president of the Sanhedrim, but in every case nothing else than chief priest, it can in this place especially be taken only in this signification, since ΚΑῚ ΚΑΪΆΦΑ stands alongside. If Luke had intended to say: “under the president Annas and the high priest Caiaphas,” he could not have comprehended these distinct offices, as they were at that time actually distinguished (which Selden has abundantly proved), under the one term ἈΡΧΙΕΡΈΩς. Even in Luke 22:54, ἈΡΧΙΕΡ. is to be understood of Annas.

ἘΓΈΝΕΤΟ ῬῆΜΑ ΘΕΟῦ Κ.Τ.Λ.] Comp. Jeremiah 1:2; Isaiah 38:4 f. From this, as from the following ΚΑῚ ἮΛΘΕΝ Κ.Τ.Λ., Luke 3:3, it is plainly manifest that Luke by his chronological statements at Luke 3:1-2 intends to fix the date of nothing else than the calling and first appearance of John, not the year of the death of Jesus (Sanclemente and many of the Fathers, who, following Luke 4:19, comp. Isaiah 61:1 ff., erroneously ascribe to Jesus only one year of his official ministry), but also not of a second appearance of the Baptist and his imprisonment (Wieseler[70]), or of his beheading (Schegg). The mention of the imprisonment, Luke 3:19-20, is rather to be regarded only as a digression, as the continuance of the history proves (Luke 3:21). The first appearance of John, however, was important enough to have its chronology fixed, since it was regarded as the ἈΡΧῊ ΤΟῦ ΕὐΑΓΓΕΛΊΟΥ (Mark 1:1). It was the epoch of the commencement of the work of Jesus Himself (comp. Acts 1:22; Acts 10:37; Acts 13:24), and hence Luke, having arrived at this threshold of the Gospel history, Luke 3:22, when Jesus is baptized by John, makes at this point a preliminary pause, and closes the first section of the first division of his book with the genealogical register, Luke 3:23 ff., in order to relate next the Messianic ministry of Jesus, ch. 4 ff.

[65] Also Antt. xviii. 6. 10, where σχὼν αὐτὸς τὴν ἀρχήν does not refer back to an earlier co-regency of Tiberius, so that αὐτός would be equivalent to μόνος; but this αὐτός indicates simply a contrast betweeen him and Caius, who had been nominated his successor.

[66] In his Commentary. But in his Exeget. Handb. he acquiesces in the text as it stands, and forces upon it, contrary to the letter, the meaning: when Philip the tetrarch of Ituraea and Trachonitis was also tetrarch over Abilene of Lysanias. Thus, indeed, the former old Lysanias would also here be meant.

[67] Of whom, therefore, we have to think even in respect of the Greek inscription which Pococke (Morgenl. II. § 177) found at Nebi Abel (the ancient Abila), and in which Lysanias is mentioned as tetrareh. Comp. Böckh, Inscr. 4521, 4523.

[68] It was situated in the region of the Lebanon, eighteen miles north from Damascus, and thirty-eight miles south from Heliopolis. Ptolem. v. 18; Anton. Itiner.; Ritter, Erdk. XV. p. 1060. To be distinguished from Abila in Decapolis, and other places of this name (Joseph, v. 1. 1; Bell. ii. 13. 2, iv. 7. 5).

[69] It is, however, altogether precarious with Lichtenstein, following Hofmann, to gather from the passage before us a proof that Luke did not write till after the destruction of Jerusalem, because, namely, after that crumbling to pieces of the Herodian territories, no further interest would be felt in discovering to whom Abilene belonged at the time of Tiberius. But why not? Not even a chronological interest?

[70] See in opposition to Wieseler, Ebrard, p. 187; Lichtenstein, p. 137 ff.Luke 3:1-2. General historic setting of the beginnings. For Mt.’s vague “in those days” (Luke 3:1), which leaves us entirely in the dark at what date and age Jesus entered on His prophetic career, Lk. gives a group of dates connecting his theme with the general history of the world and of Palestine; the universalistic spirit here, as in Luke 2:1-2, apparent. This spirit constitutes the permanent ethical interest of what may seem otherwise dry details: for ordinary readers of the Gospel little more than a collection of names, personal and geographical. Worthy of note also, as against those who think Lk. was to a large extent a free inventor, is the indication here given of the historical spirit, the desire to know the real facts (Luke 1:3). The historic data, six in all, define the date of John’s ministry with reference to the reigning Roman emperor, and the civil and ecclesiastical rulers of Palestine.Ch. Luke 3:1-9. Baptism and Preaching of John the Baptist

1. in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Cesar] If the accession of Tiberius be dated from the death of Augustus, Aug. 19, a.u.c. 767, this would make our Lord thirty-two at His baptism. St Luke, however, follows a common practice in dating the reign of Tiberius from the period of his association with Augustus as joint Emperor a.u.c. 765. (Tac. Ann. i. 3; Suet. Aug. 97; Vell. Paterc. 103.) Our Lord’s baptism thus took place in a.u.c. 780.

Tiberius Cesar] The stepson and successor of Augustus. At this period of his reign he retired to the island of Capreae (Tac. Ann. iv. 74), where he plunged into horrible private excesses, while his public administration was most oppressive and sanguinary. The recent attempts to defend his character break down under the accumulated and unanimous weight of ancient testimony.

Pontius Pilate] He was Procurator for ten years, a. d. 25–36. His predecessors had been Coponius (a. d. 6–10), M. Ambivius, Annius Rufus, and Valerius Gratus (a. d. 14–25). He was succeeded by Marcellus, Fadus, Tiberius Alexander, Cumanus, Felix, Festus, Albinus and Florus. For an account of him see on Luke 23:1.

governor] His strict title was epitropos or Procurator (Jos. Antt. xx. 6, § 2), which does not however occur in the N. T. except in the sense of ‘steward’ (Luke 8:3). Hegemon was a more general term. (Matthew 10:18; 1 Peter 2:14.) His relation to the Herods was much the same as that of the Viceroy of India to the subject Maharajahs.

Herod] Herod Antipas, the son of Herod the Great and the Samaritan lady Malthace. He retained his kingdom for more than 40 years, at the end of which he was banished (a. d. 39) to Lugdunum (probably St Bertrand de Comminges), chiefly through the machinations of his nephew Herod Agrippa I. (the Herod of Acts 12:1). See the Stemma Herodum on p. 39, and for further particulars of his character see on Luke 13:32.

tetrarch] The word properly means a ruler of a fourth part of a country, but afterwards was used for any tributary prince or ethnarch. At this time Judaea, Samaria and Galilee were the provinces of Judaea. Antipas, Philip and Lysanias are the only three to whom the term ‘tetrarch’ is applied in the N. T. Antipas also had the courtesy-title of ‘king’ (Mark 6:14, &c.), and it was in the attempt to get this title officially confirmed to him that he paid the visit to Rome which ended in his banishment. He was tetrarch for more than 40 years, from b. c. 4 to a. d. 39.

of Galilee] This province is about 25 miles from North to South, and 27 from East to West,—about the size of Bedfordshire. Lower Galilee included the district from the plain of Akka to the shores of the Sea of Galilee, and was mainly composed of the rich plain of Esdraelon (or Jezreel). Upper Galilee included the mountain range between the Upper Jordan and Phoenicia. Galilee was thus the main scene of our Lord’s ministry. It was surpassingly rich and fertile (Jos. B. J. i. 15. 5, iii. 10, §§ 7, 8). See on Luke 1:26. Herod’s dominions included the larger though less populous district of Peraea; but the flourishing towns of Decapolis (Gerasa, Gadara, Damascus, Hippos, Pella, &c.) were independent.

his brother Philip] Herod Philip, son of Herod the Great and Cleopatra, who afterwards married his niece Salome, daughter of the other Herod Philip (who lived in a private capacity at Rome) and of his half-sister and sister-in-law Herodias. This tetrarch seems to have been the best of the Herods (Jos. Antt. xvii. 2. § 4), and the town of Caesarea Philippi which he beautified was named from him.

of Ituraea and of the region of Trachonitis] His tetrarchate also included Batanaea (Bashan), Auranitis (the Hauran), Gaulanitis (Golân), and some parts about Jamnia (Jos. B. J. ii. 6, § 3). Ituraea (now Jedûr) was at the foot of Mount Hermon, and was named from Jetur, son of Ishmael (Genesis 25:15-16). The Ituraeans were marauders, famous for the use of the bow, and protected by their mountain fastnesses. (Strabo, xvi. 2; Lucan, Phars. vii. 230.) Trachonitis, also a country of robbers (Jos. Antt. xvi. 9 §§ 1, 2), is the Greek rendering of the Aramaic Argob (a region about 22 miles from N. to S. by 14 from W. to E.), and means ‘a rough or stony tract.’ It is the modern province of el-Lejâh, and the ancient kingdom of Og—“an ocean of basaltic rocks and boulders, tossed about in the wildest confusion, and intermingled with fissures and crevices in every direction.” Herod Philip received this tetrarchate by bequest from his father (Jos. B. J. ii. 6, § 3).

Lysanias the tetrarch of Abilene] The mention of this minute particular is somewhat singular, but shews St Luke’s desire for at least one rigid chronological datum. It used to be asserted that St Luke had here fallen into another chronological error, but his probable accuracy has, in this point also, been completely vindicated. There was a Lysanias king of Chalcis under Mount Lebanon, and therefore in all probability tetrarch of Abilene, in the days of Antony and Cleopatra, 60 years before this period (Jos. B. J. i. 13, § i); and there was another Lysanias, probably a grandson of the former, in the reigns of Caligula and Claudius, 20 years after this period (Jos. Antt. xv. 4, § i). No intermediate Lysanias is recorded in history, but there is not a shadow of proof that the Lysanias here mentioned may not be the second of these two, or more probably some Lysanias who came between them, perhaps the son of the first and the father of the second. Even M. Renan admits that after reading at Baalbek the inscription of Zenodorus (Boeckh, Corp. Inscr. Graec. no. 4521) he infers the correctness of the Evangelist (Vie de Jésus, p. xiii.; Les Évangiles, p. 263). It is indeed, on the lowest grounds, inconceivable that so careful a writer as St Luke should have deliberately gone out of his way to introduce so apparently superfluous an allusion at the risk of falling into a needless error. Lysanias is perhaps mentioned because he had Jewish connexions (Jos. Antt. xiv. 7, § 4).

of Abilene] Abila was a town 18 miles from Damascus and 38 from Baalbek. The district of which it was the capital is probably here mentioned because it subsequently formed part of the Jewish territory, having been assigned by Caligula to his favourite Herod Agrippa I. in a. d. 36. The name is derived from Abel ‘a meadow.’

Annas and Caiaphas being the high priests] Rather, in the high-priesthood of Annas and of Caiaphas, for the true reading is undoubtedly ἀρχιερέως (א, A, B, C, D, E, &c.), and a similar expression occurs in Acts 4:6. But here St Luke is charged (on grounds as untenable as in the former instances) with yet another mistake. Annas or Hanan the son of Seth had been High Priest from a. d. 7–14, and had therefore, by this time, been deposed for at least 15 years; and his son-in-law Joseph Caiaphas, the fourth High Priest since his deposition, had been appointed in a. d. 24. The order had been as follows:—

Annas or Ananus (Hanan), a. d. 7.

Ishmael Ben Phabi, a. d. 15.

Eleazar son of Annas, a. d. 15.

Simon son of Kamhith, a. d. 16.

Joseph Caiaphas, a. d. 17.

How then can Annas be called High Priest in a. d. 27? The answer is (i.) that by the Mosaic Law the High priesthood was held for life (Numbers 35:25), and since Annas had only been deposed by the arbitrary caprice of the Roman Procurator Valerius Gratus he would still be legally and religiously regarded as High Priest by the Jews (Numbers 35:25); (ii.) that he held in all probability the high office of Sagan haccohanim ‘deputy’ or ‘chief’ of the Priests (2 Kings 25:18), or of Nasi ‘President of the Sanhedrin,’ and at least of the Ab Beth Dîn, who was second in the Sanhedrin; (iii.) that the nominal, official, High Priests of this time were mere puppets of the civil power, which appointed and deposed them at will in rapid succession, so that the title was used in a looser sense than in earlier days. The High Priest-hood was in fact at this time in the hands of a clique of some half-dozen Herodian, Sadducaean and alien families, whose ambition it was to bear the title for a time without facing the burden of the necessary duties. Hence any one who was unusually prominent among them would naturally bear the title of ‘High Priest’ in a popular way, especially in such a case as that of Hanan, who, besides having been High Priest, was a man of vast wealth and influence, so that five also of his sons, as well as his son-in-law, became High Priests after him. The language of St Luke and the Evangelists (John 11:49) is therefore in strict accordance with the facts of the case in attributing the High Priesthood at this epoch rather to a caste than to a person. Josephus (B. J. ii. 20, § 4) who talks of “one of the High Priests” and the Talmud which speaks of “the sons of the High Priests” use the same sort of language. There had been no less than 28 of these phantom High Priests in 107 years (Jos. Antt. xx. 10, § i), and there must have been at least five living High Priests and ex-High Priests at the Council that condemned our Lord. The Jews, even in the days of David, had been familiar with the sort of co-ordinate High Priesthood of Zadok and Abiathar. For the greed, rapacity and luxury of this degenerate hierarchy, see my Life of Christ, ii. 329, 330, 342.

in the wilderness] Mainly, as appears from the next verse, the Arabah, the sunken valley north of the Dead Sea—el Ghôr—“the deepest and hottest chasm in the world” (Humboldt, Cosmos, 1.150), where the sirocco blows almost without intermission. “A more frightful desert it had hardly been our lot to behold” (Robinson, Researches, ii. 121). See it described by Mr Grove in Smith’s Bibl. Dict. s. v. Arabah. The stern aspect and terrible associations of the spot had doubtless exercised their influence on the mind of John. See on Luke 1:80.Luke 3:1. Ἐν ἔτει, in the year) The most important of all epochs of the Church: Mark 1:1 (Comp. 1 Kings 6:1 as to the epoch of the temple); with which also the thirtieth year of Christ is associated, Luke 3:23. Here as it were the whole scene of the New Testament is thrown open. [The year 27 of the common era, verging towards autumn, was then in course of progress. Three years before the beginning of that era, Christ was born, and Herod died.—V. g.] Not even the nativity of Christ, or His death, resurrection, and ascension, have their dates so precisely and definitively marked as this: ch. Luke 2:1. Moreover the mode of marking the date is not taken from the Roman consuls, but from the emperors. Scripture is wont accurately to define the epochs of great events: this, in the case of the New Testament, is done in the present passage alone; and even for this reason alone, this book of Luke is a necessary part of the Scriptures of the New Testament. See Ord. Temp., p. 219, etc. [Ed. ii. p. 191, etc.]—Καίσαρος, Cæsar) The Church has its existence [manifests itself externally] in the state [the commonwealth]: on this account, the epoch receives its denomination from the empire. [The first year of Tiberius, as Luke counts it, begins with the month Tisri of that Jewish year, in which Augustus died. It was in the same year as John that Jesus BEGAN, i.e. made a beginning of His public proceedings.—Not. Crit.]—καὶ, and) Ituræa and the region of Trachonitis, beyond Jordan, form two tetrarchies.—Αβιληνῆς, Abilene) beyond the region of Trachonitis towards the north.Verses 1-22. - THE BAPTISM OF JOHN. Verse 1. - Now in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar. St. Luke's Gospel is framed after the model of approved histories. He commenced with an elaborate rhetorical preface, most carefully worded, stating, in a few well-chosen sentences, the reasons which had induced him to undertake the work. He then (Luke 1:5-2:52) skillfully wove into the text of his narrative one or more original documents; these he translated, preserving, with great art, as closely as possible, the spirit, and oftentimes the very words, of his original authority. Now, in this chapter he comes to a period more generally known. Here he has a vast number of sources for his story, written and oral; these he shapes into a regular history, beginning, as was the ordinary custom with works of this description, with the names of the chief rulers of the countries in which the events, which he proposed to relate, took place. He first speaks generally of the great Roman Empire under whose shadow the Holy Land at that time cowered. Then he proceeds to describe more fully the political divisions of Palestine; and, lastly, he writes of the great Jewish ecclesiastical governors of the day. Tiberius was the stepson of the Emperor Augustus, whom he succeeded. It was about this time that this monarch retired to the island of Capreae, where his life was disfigured with the grossest crimes. The government of his ministers, who ruled absolutely in his name, has become a byword for evil and tyrannical government. The influence of the Roman emperors at this time in Palestine appears from the attempts at adulation on the part of the local rulers, who, among many other localities, renamed the Lake of Galilee, where so many of the scenes narrated in our story took place, "the Sea of Tiberius." The city of Tiberius, on the shores of this inland sea, was named after the emperor. Pontius Pilate being governor of Judea. His proper title was ἐπίτροπος, procurator. In Judaea this civil functionary was also military commander. This double office gave the procurator of Judaea a higher rank and title; his official superior was the Roman Governor of Syria. Pilate became procurator in A.D. , and held the appointment for ten years. Herod being tetrarch of Galilee. This Herod is usually known as "Antipas" (properly, Antipater). He was a son of Herod the Great, and reigned for more than forty years; he was eventually deposed by the Roman authorities and' banished to Gaul. Galilee at this period was the most flourishing and densely populated portion of the land of promise. Roughly speaking, it occupied all the center of Palestine, the rich plain of Esdraelon (Jezreel) and the surrounding districts. His brother Philip tetrarch of Ituraea and of the region of Trachonitis. Herod Philip, another of the great Herod's sons, is well spoken of as a fair and judicious ruler. Caesarea Philippi was built by him. His tetrarchate included the ancient Bashan and the Hauran, and the country lying round the base of Hermon. Lysanias the tetrarch of Abilene. This district lay to the east of the mountain range of Anti-Libanus, the river Barada flowing through it. Pontius Pilate

Wyc., Pilat of Pounce.


See on Matthew 14:1.

Luke 3:1 Interlinear
Luke 3:1 Parallel Texts

Luke 3:1 NIV
Luke 3:1 NLT
Luke 3:1 ESV
Luke 3:1 NASB
Luke 3:1 KJV

Luke 3:1 Bible Apps
Luke 3:1 Parallel
Luke 3:1 Biblia Paralela
Luke 3:1 Chinese Bible
Luke 3:1 French Bible
Luke 3:1 German Bible

Bible Hub

Luke 2:52
Top of Page
Top of Page