And the Holy Ghost descended in a bodily shape like a dove on him, and a voice came from heaven, which said, You are my beloved Son; in you I am well pleased.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)In a bodily shape.—The words are peculiar to St. Luke, and tend to confirm the traditional symbolism which finds in the dove the emblem of the Holy Spirit. They, at least, fall in naturally with this view; but the other construction, that the Holy Spirit descended, after the manner of a dove, first hovering and then resting, in a bodily form (undefined) of some sort, is, at least, not excluded.Acts 2:3.
(See on Mt 3:13-17.)
21. when all the people were baptized—that He might not seem to be merely one of the crowd. Thus, as He rode into Jerusalem upon an ass, "whereon yet never man sat" (Lu 19:30), and lay in a sepulchre "wherein was never man yet laid" (Joh 19:41), so in His baptism He would be "separate from sinners."See Poole on "Luke 3:21"
like a dove upon him; either in the form of a dove, or this corporeal form, whatever it was, descended and hovered on him as a dove does:
and a voice came from heaven; at the same time the Holy Ghost came down upon him; which said,And the Holy Ghost descended in a bodily shape like a dove upon him, and a voice came from heaven, which said, Thou art my beloved Son; in thee I am well pleased.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)22. in a bodily shape] This addition is peculiar to St Luke, and is probably added to shew the distinctness and reality of what Theodoret calls the ‘spiritual vision’ (πνευματικὴ θεωρία).
like a dove] The expression ὡς or ὡσεὶ used by each of the Evangelists, and St John’s “and it abode upon Him” (John 1:32), sufficiently prove that no actual dove is intended. The Holy Spirit is symbolised by a dove from early times. The Talmudic comment on Genesis 1:2 is that “the Spirit of God moved on the face of the waters like a dove”—
“And with mighty wings outspread
Dovelike sat’st brooding on the vast abyss.”
Milton (Par. Lost, i. 20).
Comp. 2Es 5:26, “of all the fowls that are created thou hast named thee one dove.” Matthew 10:16. A mystical reason was assigned for this in some fathers, because the numerical value of the letters of the Greek word peristera, ‘a dove,’ amounts to 801, which is also the value of Alpha Omega. We are probably intended to understand a dovelike, hovering, lambent flame descending on the head of Jesus; and this may account for the unanimous early legend that a fire or light was kindled in Jordan (Just. Mart. c. Tryph. 88, and the Apocryphal Gospels).
a voice came from heaven, which said] Rather, out of heaven. The last words should be omitted with the best MSS. This Bath Kôl or Voice from heaven also occurred at the Transfiguration (Matthew 17:5) and in the closing week of Christ’s life (John 12:28-30). This is one of the passages which so distinctly imply the doctrine of the Blessed Trinity.
I am well pleased] Rather, I was well pleased.Luke 3:22. Σωματικῷ εἴδει, in a bodily appearance) On the other hand there also are seen at times from the kingdom of darkness bodily appearances.—σὺ, thou) This is a reply to His prayers, mentioned in Luke 3:21.
Better, Spirit. Matthew has the Spirit of God: Mark, the Spirit.
In a bodily shape
Peculiar to Luke.
Thou art my beloved son
Lit., Thou art my son, the beloved. So Mark. But Matthew, This is my son, the beloved.
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