Exhortation: Jesus encouraged his followers to trust in his word because of the positive and negative consequences to their decision Exhortations to Follow Jesus in Discipleship: Through an extension of his mission to the twelve, and confirmations of himself as Messiah, Jesus continually warned his disciples to receive him in his passion, and thus to follow him as servant-representatives Rejection Leads to Clarification About the Way: When Jesus was rejected on his way to Jerusalem in Samaria, he explained to those who were wishing to follow him the necessity of high commitment because of the danger involved, and then demonstrated to those who did follow the reason as to why he was worthy of such high commitment because they received delegated Messianic authority over Satan Rejection at Samaria Leading to Instruction: When Jesus was rejected in Samaria on his way toward Jerusalem, he explained to his disciples that now was not the time for judgment upon those who rejected him, and thus, that following him would be dangerous requiring a high level of commitment John 4 The Sending of the Seventy-Two: Jesus demonstrated to those who followed him that he was worthy of their high commitment because he was bringing about through them OT hopes of delegated spiritual authority over Satan Devotion to God--Prayer: Jesus taught his questioning disciples to pray to Him in a way which displays their dependence upon His goodness for physical and spiritual needs because His is extremely willing to answer them Controversy Over Healing: When Jesus healed a man of demonic oppression, and witnessed the doubting responses, He explained that their attributions of his work to Satan were illogical, and thus they should understand his work to be by the power of God Warnings About Response: Jesus warned those listening the leaders about the greater calamity which would occur if they did not receive him, affirming that obedience to his word was how to be in relationship with him, and thus exhorting them to not blind themselves, but to repent of their great evil Rebuke of Pharisees and Scribes: When Jesus dined with a Pharisee and a lawyer, he exposed through six woes their religiosity as personal gain which misses God and hurts others only to have them respond in even greater determination against Him Discipleship--Trusting in God: In view of the rejection by the religious leaders, Jesus exhorted his disciples to avoid the self-preserving sins of hypocrisy and greed, and to be faithful servants whom God can reward when he returns Avoid Hypocrisy: In view of the rejection of the leaders and the coming of the multitudes Jesus warned his disciples against hypocrisy because God: will reveal private inconsistencies, will provide for your life, will hold everyone accountable for their words, and will enable them to speak the right words under pressure Exhortations in View of Rejection: Jesus continually exhorted the people of Israel to choose to follow him in spite of the difficulties which their commitment would bring because the opportunity was not forever and the consequences for rejection were severe leading to personal judgment and a different character for the kingdom than they expected Choose in Spite of Division: Realizing the pressure which would come because of the divisions which he would cause, Jesus exhorted the multitudes to judge rightly concerning him because they will pay for their evil otherwise Choose During This Time: Jesus exhorted the people to not deny their need, and thus, to turn to him during this time of grace because this opportunity will not be available forever Sabbath Healing: While Jesus was at a meal under the scrutiny of the religious leaders, he healed a man on the sabbath, and then rebuked the leaders of partisan religion because they would say that God approved of their helping their own on the sabbath, but not of Jesus healing a stranger on the sabbath Discipleship in the Face of Rejection: Jesus exhorted the great crowds following him to commit themselves to him over all other commitments lest they later default and cause humiliation and loss for Jesus Setting: Large crowds were traveling with Jesus as he continued to make his way to Jerusalem to die, cf.
When Jesus turned to the large crowds, he challenged them to choose him at the expense of every other commitment to truly be his disciples b The reason Jesus required such consideration of commitment in order to be a follower of him was because by starting and then backing out they would bring about great criticism and personal loss Through the analogy of salt which loses its saltiness, and thus its usefulness, Jesus warned the crowd against losing their commitment to him and thus becoming useless for him Setting: When Jesus was surrounded by tax collectors and sinners, the religious leaders Pharisees and teachers of the Law accused Jesus of ignoring sin because he associated with sinners Lazarus and the Rich Man: Through the account about the rich man and Lazarus, Jesus demonstrated the external insensitivity of the rich who know the law and that God is aware of heart attitudes and will hold people accountable for them Forgiveness: Jesus warned his disciples to not become stumbling blocks for others by refusing to forgive them of their sin, but to forgive them as faithful servants before God their master As Jesus spoke to his disciples about stumbling blocks, He warned of the awfulness of becoming one and thus exhorted them to guard themselves by having a forgiving spirit Jesus warned the disciples, therefore, to guard themselves against an unforgiving spirit when a brother sinned against them Prayer and Vindication: Through a negative image of a judge who reluctantly did good for a persistent widow, Jesus urged his disciples to continue to have confidence in God as the good judge who will answer their prayers for vindication Humility and Trusting God: Jesus taught the self-righteous Pharisees, rich that God requires a humble, trusting, and sacrificing heart tax-gatherer, children, disciples from his followers in order for them to partake in the kingdom of God Pharisee and Tax Collector: Through the parable of the Pharisee and the tax-gatherer Jesus taught those who considered themselves to be righteous that externals do not justify a man, but a humble-repentant heart before God The Rich Man: When a rich ruler inquired of Jesus about how to obtain eternal life, Jesus exposed his unwillingness to fully give up his possessions for the love of his brothers and to follow him, thus teaching that while the rich find it difficult to enter into the kingdom, those who do give up all are, and will be, richly rewarded Passion Prediction: As Jesus turned his face to Jerusalem, He predicted his coming suffering and resurrection to a group of noncomprehending disciples Physical Demonstration as Messiah: Jesus demonstrated himself to be Messiah by restoring the sight of one who called to him in faith as the Son of David Spiritual Demonstration as Messiah: Jesus demonstrated himself to be Messiah by bringing true deliverance from personal evil to Zaccheus--a son of Abraham Parabolic Demonstration as Messiah: Jesus proclaimed himself to be the Messiah who will hold his servants responsible for obedience as well as his enemies for their rebellion against Him when he returns with his Kingdom Approaching Jerusalem as Messiah: When Jesus approached Jerusalem as Messianic-king under the praise of his disciples, the Pharisees ordered him to rebuke his disciples, but Jesus refused claiming that in their silence creation would cry out Weeping for Jerusalem: When Jesus came to Jerusalem, he wept for the nation as a prophet about to proclaim its destruction because they had not recognized their day of visitation as prophesied in Daniel, therefore, they were going to be destroyed by their enemies OT imagery for destruction of the nation, cf.
Controversy Over Authority: When Jesus did the work of God by cleansing the temple from the corrupt merchants who prohibited Gentiles from worshiping and by teaching in the temple, the religious leaders insincerely questioned the nature of his authority, whereupon, he cryptically revealed his authority as being Messiah, and then warned his disciples against using their authority like the scribes to abuse people, but to sacrificially serve God like the poor widow On Monday--the day that they chose the Passover lamb [cf.
Jesus proclaimed that the merchants in the temple had turned the meeting place of all men the Gentiles with God a house of prayer into a den of thieves cf. As Jesus was teaching in the temple each day the religious leaders chief priests and scribes were trying to destroy him chosen as the lamb to die? The Question of Authority: When Jesus was questioned about his authority, he refuses to directly reveal the answer because of the insincerity of the religious leaders for truth, but then cryptically revealed it as his being Messiah through a parable, correct teaching, and his own question to the leaders from Psalm , whereupon, he warned his disciples to not use their authority like the scribes do in order to abuse people, but to sacrificially serve God The Direct Question--Whose Authority: When Jesus was directly asked in the temple about the source of his authority to do that which he did, he exposed the unwillingness of the religious leaders to deal with the truth, and so refused to directly tell them of the source of his authority Jesus instructs His Disciples: After Jesus directly identified himself as Messiah, he warned his disciples to not use their authority like the scribes in order to abuse people, but to give sacrificially of themselves to God as the poor widow did in the treasury Prophesy of Judgment: When some of those who were with Jesus commented upon the majesty of the temple, Jesus announced that the temple would one day be destroyed and then described the events which would precede the final judgment of the world before the Son of Man returned to redeem his own and to set up the Kingdom Setting: While some were talking about the beauty of the temple, Jesus proclaimed that all of the temple would one day be destroyed Events Which Precede the End, But Are Not The End Not even being immediate : When the disciples questioned Jesus about when this judgment would come, he explained that there will be many false prophets, wars, and natural disasters before the judgment comes The disciples then questioned Jesus about when this judgment would occur, and about what the sign would be of this coming judgment Jesus explained that there will be many false Messiahs, wars, and natural disasters before this judgment occurs Events Which Will Occur Before the Events of Persecution : Jesus explained that before the cataclysmic catastrophes occur which he has just described that the disciples will experience sever persecution, but that this persecution will ultimately provide a way for them to testify of Jesus, and will lead to the fullness of live spiritual, or in the Kingdom Jesus explained to the disciples that the persecutions would provide an opportunity for them to give their testimony before the persecutors therefore, they should be prepared to defend themselves knowing that Jesus will give them the wise words to speak before their persecutors Jesus explained to the disciples 30 that even though they will be delivered up to severe persecution leading to death by those who are closest to them parents, brothers, relatives, friends , that their ultimate life spiritual will not be harmed, but will be gained The Destruction of Jerusalem told with an eye toward the end : Jesus more directly answered the disciples question about the coming judgment by affirming that when Jerusalem is surrounded by armies, then the prophesied judgment will occur bringing great distress upon the inhabitants of the city Jesus more directly answered the disciples question about when this judgment would occur by affirming that it was near when they saw Jerusalem surrounded by armies 31 Jesus warned that when Jerusalem was surrounded, everyone should flee because the judgment prophesied about will be fulfilled 32 causing great sorrow for those present 33 The End: Jesus taught that the end will culminate within the generation which witnesses the fall of Jerusalem, cataclysmic signs in the sky and on earth, and the return of the Son of Man in his glory to redeem his people; therefore he urged all to remain spiritually alert Jesus described the cataclysmic signs which would accompany the end times: astral calamities, earthly calamities which disrupt the nations, and men overcome with fear over the disruption of the cosmos Jesus then explained that in the midst of all of the physical chaos, Messiah the Son of Man will visibly appear in the sky with all of his glory as was predicted in Daniel Through the parable of the fig tree and others trees Jesus instructed his disciples that just as new leaves signal the nearness of summer so is it that when the signs which he has just described occur, the kingdom of God will certainly be within the time of that end-generation Jesus urges those of that coming generation to be physically and, especially, spiritually alert cf.
The Betrayal and Final Discourse: At the Passover Jesus demonstrated himself to be prepared for his upcoming passion as the Suffering Servant by having already made arrangements for their private celebration of the Passover so that Judas could not betray him there, by proclaiming himself as the fulfillment of the Passover, by foretelling that one would betray him, and by instructing his disciples concerning the future reward which they would receive for their loyalty to him, as well as about the persecution they would experience from Satan and the world because of their identification with him At the Passover meal Jesus demonstrated himself to be ready for his passion as Satan created an atmosphere of fear, hatred and deception The Betrayal of Judas: As the feast of Unleavened Bread approached in celebration of the Passover, Satan moved in an atmosphere of fear through Judas to have Jesus destroyed by the religious leaders Preparing for the Meal: When the day of the Passover arrived, Jesus demonstrated that he was prepared for everything by sending Peter and John to prepare the meal in a pre-arranged location The Last Supper and Discourse: At the Passover Meal Jesus identified Himself as the fulfillment of the Passover, then he expressed his commitment to the twelve by: warning them of future strife, warning them against pride, and encouraging them concerning their future reign with him in view of the persecution they would soon experience At the Passover meal Jesus expressed his desire to eat this final Passover meal with his disciples, and proclaimed that he was the fulfillment of the Passover by making a New Covenant The Trial and Death of Jesus: Jesus voluntarily entered into his substitutionary death for mankind in a manner which demonstrated faithfulness to his disciples, exposed the evil of those falsely accusing him, and provided grace for all who would receive him Preparation through Prayer: Jesus exhorted his disciples and demonstrated for them the need to wrestle with God in prayer about upcoming struggles in order that they might not fall into temptation As Jesus was customarily [Judas knew] going with his disciples to the Mount of Olives, he exhorted them to pray that they might not enter into temptation When Jesus returned to his disciples, they were asleep, therefore he exhorted them to wake up and to pray in order that they would not fall into temptation The Betrayal and the Arrest: As the religious leaders accompanied by the temple guard and led by Judas approached Jesus in order to arrest him, Jesus stopped the counter attack of his disciples, and exposed the evil in night arrest While Jesus was speaking to his disciples, he was betrayed by Judas who was leading a multitude and identified Jesus through a kiss irony Jesus exposed the religious leaders and their temple officers of doing evil out of fear as they came at night with force to arrest him When Jesus was led away from the Mount of Olives and brought to the house of the high priest, Peter was following at a distance While Peter was standing in the courtyard of the high priest by a freshly built fire, he denied any knowledge of Jesus three times a.
While Peter was still speaking his last denial, he was painfully exposed by the crowing of a cock and by the understanding gaze of Jesus that he had been used by Satan cf. Jesus was emotionally and physically abused by the guards who were holding him at the house of the high priest When Jesus was examined by the religious council at day-break, he openly identified himself as being Messiah who would one day judge these judges , but was explicitly rejected by them as he predicted he would be Although Jesus was taken and accused before Pilate for rebellion against Rome, Pilate declared Jesus innocent When Pilate heard that Jesus was from Galilee, he sent him to Herod Antipas who was in Jerusalem for the feast and was the tetrarch over the region which included Galilee Herod, who had heard about Jesus cf.
The political move by Pilate to send Jesus to Herod strengthened the two rulers relationships and also demonstrated how the Jews and the Gentiles unified against Jesus Even though Pilate pronounced Jesus innocent to charges of rebellion, he succumbed to the pressure of the crowd, released Barabbas 36 and pronounced the sentence of crucifixion upon Jesus 37 The Death of Jesus: The Crucifixion and burial of Jesus provided special opportunities for hearts to be revealed those who railed against him , grace to be received forgiveness, the other criminal and commitment to Jesus to be expressed Joseph and the women as Jesus became the voluntary substitute for man under the wrath of God The crucifixion of Jesus was a means whereby God exposed the hearts of people, and provided for their need as Jesus voluntarily died for them The Resurrection and Ascension of Jesus: After Jesus brought his disciples to a genuine comprehension of the truthfulness of his resurrection, He commissioned them to wait in Jerusalem for the promise of the Spirit, and then to proclaim the forgiveness of sins through repentance for all nations, whereupon, he ascended from them, and they returned to Jerusalem glorifying God Comprehension and Commission: Unlike the women who in their openness believed in the resurrection, the men were brought to a point of belief through repeated appearances of Jesus which culminated in his commissioning of them to tell others, once they received the Holy Spirit, of the forgiveness of sins which can come through repentance We could not, indeed, do Ourselves the pleasure of perusing your volumes, venerable brother, as they are written in the English language ; but We have, nevertheless, been gratified by the evidence of your homage to Us and to this Apostolic See, as conveyed to Us through your present.
Whilst, therefore, expressing Our thanks to you, We, at the same time commend your pious and laborious researches in the investigation of the Sacred Scriptures, wherein are hidden the salutary and inexhaustible treasures of truth and life, and which furnish the greatest helps to the fruitful discharge of the duties of the pastoral office.
Jesus and the Gospels
But, in graciously accepting the solemn assurances you have given Us, We heartily pray the Lord to abundantly bestow on you the spirit of wisdom and fortitude to fight the good fight, and as a token of Divine favour, and as a pledge of Our sincere affection, We lovingly impart to you the Apostolic Benediction. Peter s, on 30th April, , in the second year of our Pontificate. Jerome de Viris Illue. Luke, the Evangelist, was a native of Antioch, the capital of Syria.
It is almost universally admitted, on the same authority, that he was also the author of the Acts of the Apostles. From the statement made by him in this latter work, wherein he speaks of the language of Palestine the Syro- Chaldaic as different from his own, which from his style is acknowledged to be Greek, it is clear that he was not a native of Palestine. Chrysostom and St. Jerome Qusest. Paul Coloss. The knowledge he displays of Jewish customs and manners, would warrant the general opinion, that he was a proselyte.
This, however, might apply to a convert from Paganism. If he were such a convert, St. Luke might have acquired all this knowledge in his intercourse with the Apostle of the Gentiles. That he was not one of the seventy-two disciples, as is asserted by St. Epiphanius, nor one of the two disciples at Einmaus chap, xxiv. Gregory conjectures Lib. Tertullian contra Marcion, Lib. Paul, never having been one of our Lord s disciples, or attendant on Him.
Hence, St. Jerome in cap. Isaiso calls him, the spiritual son of St. Paul ; and St. Iromeus Lib. Jerome de Viris Illust. And if we look to the occasions on which St. Luke joins St. We may, therefore, conclude, that it was his attendance on the Apostle, and care of him in his illness, that merited for him the endearing epithet of "Moved. Luke employs technical medical terms, when speaking of bodily ailments and tLeir cure, while St. Matthew and St. Mark employ popular terms, when speaking of thfc. Luke vi. It is also observed that his intercourse with St. Luke the physician, affected the style of the Apostle himself, as to the use of like technical terms, as in 1 Tim.
Patrizzi de Evang. Nicephorus, who died in , speaks of him Hist. This statement of Nicephorus, however, is rejected by many learned critics Kitto, Cyclopoodia. Luke was St. Paul s fellow-labourer in the Gospel Ministry, and the companion of his travels. The first occasion of his association with the Apostle is described Acts xvi. Luke lived for some time with the Apostle, they remained inseparable up to the second year of the Apostle s imprisonment at Rome, with which the History of the Acts closes chap, xxviii.
Paul is the history of St. And to mark the humility of St. Luke, far from becoming his own panegyrist, he never mentioned his own name in connexion with the labours and trials of the Apostle, in which, doubtless, he must have largely shared, save so far as may be inferred from his having employed the first person, " ice" when speaking of the latter. The common opinion of the Fathers is, that whenever the Apostle speaks of Luke, in his Epistles, it is to the Evangelist he refers 2 Tim.
This is, however, denied by others, as the word " Gospel " might mean, not writing a Gospel, but preaching it, through every part of the Church. After the death of St. Paul, there is nothing known for certain of St. Luke s labours, of the places where he preached the Gospel, or of the manner of his death. He is reckoned among the martyrs by St.
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Gregory Nazianzen. Eusebius tells us nothing about his martyrdom. Neither is there any notice of it in the Martyrologies. It is stated by others, that he preached the Gospel in Bithynia and died there, and lhat his remains were transferred to Constantinople by Constantius Isidore of Seville, c. Of late years, the spirit of Infidelity that has come forth from the Eationalistic Schools of Germany, following in the train of Marcion, who never doubted the authenticity of the Gospel, has called in question the first two chapters, on the ground, that St.
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Luke had not sufficient testimony, from a human point of view, for the statements he there puts forward. But, abstracting altogether from inspiration, as we know the Blessed Virgin remained on earth after our Lord s Ascension, she was, surely, competent to give testimony respecting the events recorded in these chapters, and it is from eye-witnesses of the events narrated in the Gospel, St.
Luke tells us he derived his information. They are now no longer gainsayed. Indeed, St. Luke, himself a physician, could be quoted as a competent authority on the subject of our Lord s bloody sweat, which has never been proved to be impossible. There are two points, however, in connexion with it that may be regarded as certain.
First, it has been uniformly held by all ancient writers, that St. Luke wrote his Gospel after those of Matthew and Mark. No ancient writer has questioned the order in which our Gospels are arranged, save Clement of Alexandria apud Euseb. What his reasons for this strange opinion may have been, as Patrizzi remarks, are utterly unknown to us ; secondly, it has been the iiniform testimony of antiquity, that St.
Luke wrote his Gospel before the Acts of the Apostles. That St. Luke, the Evangelist, was the author of both, hardly admits of any doubt ; for, St. Luke himself expressly states this in his preface to the Acts chap. If we could ascertain the date of the Acts, it would help, to some extent, in fixing the date of the Gospel, at least in regard to the time after which the Gospel could not have been written.
The Acts must have been written after the second year of St. Paul s imprisonment at Rome A. It is likely the History of the Acts was written before the destruction of Jerusalem. This is inferred from St. Luke s silence regarding this great event, so remarkable in connexion with the literal fulfilment of our Lord s prophecies on the subject. Surety, St.
Luke would not have been silent regarding this remarkable event, if it occurred at the time he wrote his history. Hence, his Gospel, written before the Acts, must have been written before the year 70, the date of the destruction of Jerusalem. And as St. Luko must have been written after that ; but at what precise period bt-Uveen 57 and 70, cannot be accurately determined.
The probabilities, greater or lesser, as to the place where it was written, will depend very much on its date. Some hold, it was written in Bceotia and Achaia ; others, in Rome, of which Theophylus is supposed to have been a native. Its style is more polished than that of the other Gospels.
From its contents, it would seem to have been written chiefly for the use of the Gentile converts ; so that, as St. Paul was the Apostle of the Gentiles, his disciple, St. Luke, might be justly regarded as the special Evangelist of the same. Hence, we find certain peculiar words and phrases in his Gospel more intelligible to the Gentiles, than the corresponding words employed by the other Evangelists. Some among the Fathers hold, that whenever the Apostle in his Epistles uses the Words, "my Gospel," he refers to that written by St. Luke, whence, it is inferred, that it was dictated by the Apostle.
This, however, is hardly consistent with St. Luke s own account of his sources of information chap. Paul could not be numbered ; nor would St. Luke omit stating that he wrote his Gospel at the dictation of St. Paul, if such were the case. Con sidering, howevei , the wonderful identity of expression employed by both Luke xxii. Luke takes, at least, this part verbatim from St. Paul, as this latter states that he received his account of the institution of the Eurcharist from our Lord Himself.
Among the emblematic figures of the four Evangelists referred to in the prophetic vision of Ezechiel i. Luke, as his Gospel commences with the Priesthood of Zachary, the principal function of which was the offering of sacrifice, the ox being one of the chief victims of the altar. The Gospel is addressed to " Tlieopliilux" see chap. Luke, published only a few years ago, calls for this Second Edition, in every respect the same as the preceding, with the exception of a few unimportant verbal corrections.
May we hope that this Second Edition will meet with the same consideration and support that have been accorded to the preceding Edition. It must be left to others to pronounce how far it may have proved useful to tha pious reader of SS. Mark, a work which has been received with unexpected favour, as the Second Edition is now nearly exhausted. A second volume containing a Commentary on the Gospels of St. Luke aud St. John, together with the Acts of the Apostles, was promised at the time. Those who may have been expecting its appearance, will hardly be surprised that its issue has been so long deferred, if they take into account the arduous and numerous duties of my office, which I could neither neglect nor overlook, and the vast amount of time and labour required for Scriptural researches, particularly with a view to publication.
I am now partly redeeming niy promise by giving to the public, as a companion volume to the Commentary on the two other Synoptical Gospels of St. Mark, an Exposition of the Gospel of St. Luke, which may, if so desired, be conveniently bound with the former. Neither time nor pains has been spared in its composition, according to my humble ability.
How far I may have succeeded in my design to produce a useful work, I must leave to others to determine. I purpose publishing, at a future day, should Providence so will it, my notes on the Gospel of St. John and on the Acts. In the meantime, in the hope that the present work may be received with the eame favour that has been accorded to its predecessors, I confidently submit it to Vhe indulgence of the pious Student of Holy Scripture.
The first four verses of this chapter contain the Preface to the Gospel see Commentary. The Evangelist next describes the parentage and sacerdotal descent of the Baptist The wonderful apparition of the Archangel Gabriel to Zachary, the father of the Baptist, announcing to him that his wife Elizabeth would give birth to a son, who was to discharge the office of precursor to the Son of God The punishment of Zachary s incredulity The conception of the Baptist The Annunciation made by the Archangel Gabriel to the Blessed Virgin of the birth of our Lord, with all its circumstances The Visitation, or visit of the Blessed Virgin to her cousin, St.
Elizabeth, described in detail The inspired Canticle Magnificat see Commentary The birth and circumcision of the Baptist, and the wonders which took place on the occasion of it, especially in the miraculous recovery of the use of speech by his father Zachary 5 The inspired Canticle Benedlctus of Zachary see Commentary.
According as they have delivered them unto us, who from the beginning were eye witnesses and ministers of the word; 3. That thou mayest know the verity of those words in which thou hast been instructed. The four first verses of this chapter may be regarded as an Introduction to the Gospel. This form of introduction, common among classical writers, whom St. Luke imitates in this respect, as well as in his polished style of writing, is hardly ever to bo met with in the Books of SS.
Scripture, save here and in the opening verses of the Acts of the Apostles, from the same inspired penman. While the meaning of each particular word requiring explanation shall be given in each verse in particular, the general meaning of all may be given in the following paraphrase: " Whereas many have already undertaken to arrange and put together an account of the events regarding which we have the most undoubting faith the firmest conviction because they were transmitted to us in our day by those who were themselves eye-witnesses of them, and ministers of the Gospel truth ; it seemed fit to me also, who have investigated and ascertained all things that occurred from the commencement of the Gospel history, to write to you, most excellent Theophilus, an account of them, following the general order of events, so that you may fully and securely ascertain the undoubted truth of those things in which you were catechised or instructed "by word of mouth.
Matthew or St. Mark, who were not " many" Moreover, Matthew was himself an " eye-witness," and did not, therefore, derive his information from, " eye-witnesses. Luke would hardly class inspired with uninspired writers of the Gospel. To whom, then, does St. Luke refer? Probably, to some incompetent, but well- meaning compilers of incomplete and confused histories of the actions and sayings of our Divine Lord, according as they ascertained them from the traditions, which existed at the time, whose motive in undertaking a Gospel History St.
Luke neither praises nor censures.
These words of themselves imply neither success nor failure, though generally taken in the latter sense, and very probably they mean it here, as the failure of those referred to in giving a full narrative of the Gospel incidents, and the uncertainty which their confused histories might create in the minds of the faithful, would seem to be put forward by St.
Luke as his motive for undertaking a well-arranged, authentic narrative of the doings and sayings of our Blessed Lord. Luke referred to men who would fain give a more accurate and orderly account than that of Matthew and Mark. However, it more probably signifies here to give a well-arranged narrative of the events of Gospel History without implying reference to any already existing written records requiring to be put in order.
Sometimes, the word means, fully credited, producing a most unhesitating conviction. There is a diversity of opinion as to the connexion of these with the foregoing words. By some, they are connected with " accomplished," or firmly believed, as if in them was assigned a reason for that firm belief, because of the tradition which transmitted them with undoubted truthful ness from sources above all suspicion, viz.
The latter were also " ministers of the Word" having been divinely engaged in divulging to the world the sacred truths of which it is meant to transmit a well-digested record. Others connect them with the words of v. These place a full stop after v. Luke, pre serving him from error in his narrative. To such inspiration, however, St. Luke here lays no claim, when referring to the sources from which, humanly speaking, he derives the incidents of an authentic history, so as to satisfy all reasonable men, even on human grounds, in regard to his claims to be believed.
Hence, he puts the account of the conception and birth of the Baptist before that of Christ ; the conception and birth of Christ before His baptism ; His baptism before His preaching ; His preaching and miracles before His death ; His death before His Eesurrection and Ascension. As our Lord often delivered His instructions repeatedly, and on various occasions, the order in which they were repeated is not strictly adhered to in regard to them, nor in regard to certain minute circumstance?. Who he was cannot be fully ascertained.
Most likely he was one of St. Luke s converts, distinguished for great moral worth ; hence, styled " most excellent. He was very likely a Gentile convert of high station, and also an inhabitant of Rome. For, while St. Luke is very particular in topological details, both in his Gospel and in the Acts of the Apostles, when treating of Asia Minor, Palestine, and Greece, he is silent on such matters when he treats of Italy. From this it is inferred that Theophilus was a Eoman, in regard to whom it would be superfluous to treat of Italian topography, with which, on this assumption, he must have been thoroughly conversant.
But although addressed to Theophilus, we are not to suppose that the Gospel was written for him alone, but for the entire Christian world, to the end of time, of whom Theophilus may be regarded as the representative. Even in our own day, we frequently see writings meant for the public, addressed and dedicated to individuals. It was by means of oral, catechetical instruction Theophilus was first brought to embrace the faith. Luke deems it right to leave a written record, under the influence of inspiration, of the Gospel History, in order to confirm the faith of Christians during all succeeding ages.
There was in the days of Herod the king of Judea, a certain priest named Zachary, of the course of Alia, and his wife was of the daughters of Aaron, and her name Elizabeth. And they were loth just before God, walking in all the commandments and justifica tions of the Lord without blame. And they had no son, for Elizabeth was barren, and they both were well advanced in years. And it came to pass, when he executed the priestly function in the order of his course before God, 9.
According to the custom of the priestly office, it was his lot to offer incense, going into the temple of the Lord. And all the multitude of the people was praying without at the hour of incense. After his death, his kingdom was partitioned among his sons Matthew ii. Luke refers to him here to show, that the period marked out in the prophecy of Jacob, for the coming of the Messiah, in consequence of the sceptre having been transferred from Juda, had arrived, and that it was at that precise time our Saviour was born.
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Luke always calls the High Priest, Pontifex iii. Moreover, the High Priest did not belong to any of the " courses" in his ministrations. He might minister in the Temple at any function and at any time he thought proper. It is to be observed, that in order to obviate the confusion which might arise in the discharge of the priestly functions in the Temple, owing to the great number of the descendants of Aaron, in the time of King David, this pious king divided the descendants of the two sons of Aaron, viz. The order of precedence was determined by lot.
The eighth lot fell on Abia. Of these twentv-four orders or courses, although ST. Neither were women, unless they were heiresses.
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Hence, Elizabeth might have been cousin of the Blessed Virgin ; because, a man of the Tribe of Levi might marry a woman of the Tribe of Juda, and vice versa. Zachary, however, not only married into his own Tribe of Levi ; but, what was highly deserving of commendation, he took for wife one of the family of Aaron. In this is not implied their exemption from all even indeliberate sins, which faith tells us we cannot avoid during life " without a special privilege of God" Cone.
By " commandments" some commentators understand the moral precepts contained in the Decalogue; and by "justifications," the ceremonial precepts of the law, having reference to sacrifices and the worship of God. The words, " without blame," only imply exemption from grievous sins or crimes, which alone could entail reproach with men.
This the Evangelist notes, to convey to us more clearly, that the Precursor was miraculously begotten by a special grace or privilege divinely bestowed by God, as in the case of Isaac Genesis xviii. It happened, when the week came round for the priestly family of Abia, to which Zachary belonged, to discharge the priestly functions in their turn, "before God" that is, in the Temple, where God is said specially to reside, that among the lots which were cast to determine, in accordance with the usage observed in the exercise of priestly functions, the duties, that were to fall to each ministering priest, the duty of burning and offering up incense every morning and evening, on the altar of incense, fell to him.
It was divided by a veil from the sanctum sanctorum, in which the Ark was in the time of Solomon. It is manifest the offering of incense here referred to is different from that which the High Priest alone could make within the sanctum sanctorum, on the Feast of Expiation, as this latter function could be discharged by the High Priest alone ; whereas, here any of the sacerdotal family, to whose lot it fell, could perform it.
Hence, Zachary was not High Priest. Outside the sanctum, or the Temple properly so-called, was the Court of the Priests, which was not covered in ; outside this was the Court of Israel, or, of the Jewish people, men and women ; outside this, was the Court of the Gentiles. This may, probably, have occurred on the Sabbath or some minor festival, when the people came in large crowds to pray and worship in the Temple. This happened twice each day, morning and evening. For a description of the Temple and its Courts, see Dixon s Introduction, vol.
And there appeared to him an Angel of the Lord, standing on the right side of the altar of incense. And Zachary seeing him was troubled, and fear fell upon him; And thou shalt have joy and gladness, and many shall rejoice in his nativity. For he shall be great before the Lord : and shall drink no wine nor strong drink ; and he shall be filled with the Holy Ghost even from his mother s womb.
And he shall convert many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God. And he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elias ; that he may turn the hearts of the fathers unto the children, and the incredulous to the wisdom of the just, to prepare unto the Lord a perfect people. And Zachary said to the Angel : Whereby shall I know this? And the Angel answering, said to him : lam Gabriel who stand before God; and am sent to speak to thee, and to bring thee these good tidings.
And behold, thou shalt be dumb, and shalt not be able to speak until the day ivherein these things shall come to pass ; because thou hast not believed my words, which shall be fulfilled in their time. And the people were waiting for Zachary ; and they wondered that he tarried so long in the temple. And when he came out he could not speak to them, and they understood that he had seen a vision in the temple.
And he made signs to them, and remained dumb. And it came to pass, after the days of his office were accomplished, he departed fo his own house. And after those days Elizabeth his wife conceived ; and hid her self five months, saying: Thus hath the Lord dealt ivith me in the days wherein he hath had regard to take away my reproach among men. On beholding the Angel, Zachary was seized with exceeding great fear, such as fell on Daniel x. The Angel dispels his fears, telling him that " his prayer was heard" Some, with Maldouatus, think that Zachary had prayed for a son, and that it is to such prayer the Angel refers ; for, he subjoins, " and thy wife Elizabeth shall bear thee a son" The common opinion, however, of the Fathers and of Commentators is, that there is question of a prayer offered up for the redemption of Israel and the coming of the Messiah.
Hence, the Angel indicates or implies the order in which this was to occur, viz. Zachary himself in the inspired Canticle refers to this order of things v. The doubt expressed by Zachary after the Angel s assurance on the subject v. It might, however, be said with some degree of probability, in favour of Maldonatus 1 opinion, that the Angrl may have referred not to his present prayer, but to prayers offered up for this end on former occasions.
The word, "John," in Hebrew, Johanan, signifies, the grace or mercy of Jehovah. It is observed, with reference to the names of John and his parents, that the oath of God the meaning of Elizabeth and its memory Zachary begot the " mercy or gracious gift of the Lord " John. To which the words of Zachary in the Canticle, " Bcnedictus," are clearly allusive, " memorari Testamenti sui sancti. This is assigned as a reason for the universal joy, to which the birth of the Baptist shall give rise.
For, at present, his friends and neighbours shall see from the extraordinary circumstances of his birth, and future generations, shall see from the knowledge of all that he shall have done, that "he shall le great" endowed with superior virtues befitting a Prophet, a Priest, and the oxalted ministry of Precursor and that in a supereminent degree which, according to a Hebrew idiom, is the meaning of the words, " before the Lord " Genesis x.
Others understand the words, " before the Lord," to mean, really great, not only in the si-ght of men, as hypocrites oftentimes are, but also in the presence of the Lord, who judges according to truth and justice. Those who consecrated themselves to the Lord Numbers vi. Latin, cicera corresponding with the Hebrew, shecar, means any inebriating drink not made from the juice of the grape. Shecar, is rendered so by St. Jerome Leviticus x. One is utterly incompatible with the other. This indicates the early beginning of that sanctity proceeding from the gifts and grace of the Holy Ghost, which the Baptist displayed ever after.
Part 2: Why Luke traced Jesus through Nathan rather than Solomon
A question is here raised, viz. The common opinion of the Holy Fathers is, that he was ; and they infer it from this passage, and the words of Elizabeth y. Although St. Augustine in Epist. He maintains, that the sanctification referred to here, as in the case of Jeremias, " Antequam exir es de vulva, sanctificavi te " i. But although his opinion and the reasons adduced by him might be fairly maintained if we look to the context of the passage from Jeremias, they are commonly rejected in regard to the Baptist, whose sanctification in his mother s womb, embracing the remission of original sin, in which he was conceived, and the infusion of the super natural gifts and virtues through the Holy Ghost, is held by most of the Holy Fathers and theologians of note.
Thus filled with the Holy Ghost, he shall, in due time, by the example of a holy and austere life, and by his most efficacious preaching, " turn many of the children of Israel " to whom alone he preached, " to the Lord, their God," by causing them to believe in Him, and give up the ways of sin for a life of eanctity and penance, as we find recorded of him Luke vii. Hence, there is reference made to the noble deeds of Elias in the past, as well as in the future.
Others interpret, "spirit and power ;" as meaning by a figure of speech Hendiadis " the spirit of power. These words applied in Malachias iii. The meaning of the words is rather difficult. By his preaching of penance and of faith in Christ, John will transfer " the hearts" i. Others understand the words to mean : as the Patriarchs who believed in Christ, although they only saw Him at a distant futurity, and practised sanctity of life, reprobated the conduct of their delinquent and disobedient a7m0s children; and ignoring them, turned away from them in disgust for, Abraham knew them not Isaias Ixiii.
The same shall be done by Elias, at his second coming, when opposing the persecuting reign of Antichrist. The words spoken of Elias Eccles. The passage will, therefore, mean : the result of this reconciliation of the fathers to their children, whom John shall induce to walk in the footsteps of the former, both as to faith and obedience, will be, to prepare for the coming and proper reception of our Lord, a people whom he had been already instrumental in imbuing with the dispositions necessary for that purpose- His doubt, however, did not regard the omnipotence of God, His power to do all things possible.
It arose rather from the utter impossibility, humanly speaking, of the promise being fulfilled. Commentators, observe how different was the case of the Blessed Virgin. She, at once, believes the announcement made. She is only anxious to know how the mystery will take place, without any detriment to her virginity. Whereas, in the case of Zachary, the doubt proceeded from distrust in the Angel s word v.
Hence, whatever may be the similarity in the several cases, if we look to external expression, God, who sees the heart, saw that one believed and the other did not. Indeed, it was quite characteristic of the Jews to seek for signs in such cases 1 Cor. The Angel then gives his name, so well known in Jewish history in connexion with the period of the coming of the Messiah Daniel ix.
Jesus and the Gospels
Even when sent on an embassy, these still stand before the omnipotent God. The Greek is, stood; but it may be a Hebraism for, stand, as the latter form conveys perpetual attendance ; or it may mean, lately stood before him in heaven, and am now here on an errand to you. He gives a sign which also serves as a punishment a sign of the fulfilment of his promise, and a punishment of incre dulity, uniting chastisement and instruction at the same time.
Deafness is inflicted in punishment of his not hearing and obeying ; dumbness, for his having contradicted the Angel. It would seem Zachary was deaf also v. Such is the connexion of dumbness with deaf ness, that the dumb are generally deaf: Others, however, adhering to the strict signification of the word, say the following are only explanatory, and intensifying the sense, as in Acts xiii.
Thou shalt be dumb silent , nay, even not able to speak, implying more than the former expression. The event will show, that he was justly punished, and shall cause him to be released from the punishment inflicted. The people who had been praying in the outer Court of Israel, while Zachary was engaged offering incense in the sanctum at the appointed time, were awaiting his return to the Court of the Priests, to receive the usual benediction given on such occasions, as had been done by Aaron Leviticus ix.
The delay was caused partly by the interview, which, possibly, may have embraced more than is recorded here ; and partly, by the stupor which continued even after the assurances given to Zachary by the Angel. From the appearance he exhibited for the effect of converse with heavenly visitors is, to create a change in one s appearance Exod. Likely, also, the "signs" may have reference to his mode of officiating during tho remaining clays of his course, going through his duties in a silent manner, without being able to speak in giving the usual benediction ; for it is said next verse he waited to discharge the duties of his office during the appointed days.
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