The grandfather of Jesus (Lk 3:23-3:23)

“Jesus was the son,

As was thought,

Of Joseph,

The son of Heli.”

 

ὢν υἱός, ὡς ἐνομίζετο, Ἰωσὴφ, τοῦ Ἡλεὶ

 

Luke said that Jesus was the son (ὢν υἱός), as was thought or supposed (ὡς ἐνομίζετο), of Joseph (Ἰωσὴφ,), the son of Heli (τοῦ Ἡλεὶ).  Right off the bat, there is a problem with the differences between the genealogies of Matthew and Luke.  The end of the genealogy of Matthew, chapter 1:16, is Joseph (Ἰωσὴφ) with his father Jacob (Ἰακὼβ).  Perhaps the names of Jacob and Joseph were an attempt to connect Jesus with the great Joseph, the son of Jacob, who brought the sons of Jacob to Egypt.  However, compared to the text here in Luke, there is a difference with the father of Joseph, the grandfather of Jesus.  Luke called him “the son of Heli,” not “the son of Jacob.”  Luke said that Joseph was the so-called father of Jesus.  Thus, it might seem simple enough to compare this genealogy of Jesus with the one in Matthew, chapter 1:1-1:17.  Both the gospels of Matthew and Luke listed the family tree of Jesus.  These genealogies were theological statements with different parent genealogies and different audiences.  Matthew, went from Abraham to Jesus, so that Jesus was the fulfillment of the Jewish messianic expectations.  The theme of David was important, since Joseph was called the son of David.  Matthew explained that there were 3 sections of 14 generations.  One section went from the call of Abraham to the accession of David as king.  The second grouping went from David to the Babylonian exile.  The final section went from the Exile to the coming of the Messiah.  The Gospel of Luke genealogy, on the hand, goes from Jesus to Adam to God.  Luke’s view was more universal.  Jesus could trace his roots back to God.  Luke, who had the best Greek, was apparently writing for the gentiles of the Pauline Churches.  The Son of God was a more meaningful term.  Luke spoke of the Son of Adam, the second Adam, a theme that Paul also used.  Jesus had both divine and human origins.  This was not difficult for Greeks, since their gods were always having relations with humans in their mythical stories.  Thus, there are two different genealogies for Joseph, with only one common person, David.  This left Jesus with 2 paternal grandfathers, Jacob and Heli.  Matthew listed 52 people, but Luke has 77 ancestors because he went further back in time.  It is what it is.

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Jesus was thirty years old (Lk 3:23-3:23)

“Jesus was

About thirty years old

When he began

His work.

 

Καὶ αὐτὸς ἦν Ἰησοῦς ἀρχόμενος ὡσεὶ ἐτῶν τριάκοντα,

 

This saying is unique to Luke.  He was the only one of the gospel writers who put an age on Jesus.  He said that Jesus was about 30 years old when he began his work (Καὶ αὐτὸς ἦν Ἰησοῦς ἀρχόμενος ὡσεὶ ἐτῶν τριάκοντα).  Perhaps this is an allusion to King David who was 30 when he became king in 2 Samuel, chapter 5:4.  For some the age of 30 was considered mature.  Anyway, this concept of Jesus being about 30 with a 3-year public ministry put his death at age 33, a common Christian tradition.

The voice from heaven (Lk 3:22-3:22)

“A voice

Came from heaven.

‘You are my Son!

The Beloved!

I am well pleased

With you!’”

 

καὶ φωνὴν ἐξ οὐρανοῦ γενέσθαι Σὺ εἶ ὁ Υἱός μου ὁ ἀγαπητός, ἐν σοὶ εὐδόκησα.

 

As in Mark, chapter 1:11, Luke, had a voice from heaven address Jesus directly.  In Matthew, chapter 3:17, this voice from the heavens did not address Jesus personally, while John, chapter 1, did not have any mention of a voice from heaven at all after the baptism of Jesus.  The idea of a heavenly voice had a very strong tradition in the Hebrew Bible, especially among the prophets.  Luke said that this voice came from heaven (καὶ φωνὴν ἐξ οὐρανοῦ γενέσθαι).  It said that Jesus was his beloved son (Σὺ εἶ ὁ Υἱός μου ὁ ἀγαπητός).  He, the heavenly Father was well pleased with him (ἐν σοὶ εὐδόκησα).  All this was in the second person singular.  God the Father said that Jesus was his most beloved son in whom he was well pleased.  The gospel writers did not clarify whether others saw and heard these things.  In fact, this saying and incident after the baptism of Jesus might have been the basis for a Subordinationschristologie that Jesus the Son was somehow subordinate to the Father.  According to this adoption theory, God the Father had to send his Spirit to anoint and empower Jesus in this concrete event, before he could begin his public ministry.  This adoptionism theory, and the Christological disputes of the later 4th century CE, led to the diminution of this baptismal event within later patristic and medieval theological circles.  Nevertheless, the baptism of Jesus has become the starting point for any theological reflection about early Christian initiation practices.  It is not clear whether all the primitive Christian communities linked the baptism of Jesus with the baptism of the new followers of Christ, despite the fact that many post-apostolic Christians did so.

The Holy Spirit and Jesus (Lk 3:22-3:22)

“The Holy Spirit

Descended upon Jesus

In a bodily form,

Like a dove.”

 

καὶ καταβῆναι τὸ Πνεῦμα τὸ Ἅγιον σωματικῷ εἴδει ὡς περιστερὰν ἐπ’ αὐτόν,

 

The role of the Holy Spirit after the baptism of Jesus was very important. Matthew, chapter 3:16, Mark, chapter 1:10, and John, chapter 1:32, are almost the same as here.  Luke said that the Holy Spirit (τὸ Πνεῦμα τὸ Ἅγιον) descended (καὶ καταβῆναι) upon Jesus (ἐπ’ αὐτόν) in a bodily form (σωματικῷ εἴδει), like a dove (ὡς περιστερὰν).  John did not mention a dove, but he said that John the Baptist saw the Holy Spirit descend and remain on Jesus.  In Matthew and Mark, Jesus saw the Holy Spirit as a dove descend on him.  This all took place after the baptism itself.   Just as the dove after the great flood in Genesis, chapter 8:8-12, heralded a new age, so too Jesus would preach the good news in this new age.  With his prophetic vocation, Jesus had the power to begin his public ministry of healing and exorcising.  The later concept of the anointing of Jesus with the Spirit referred to this action of the dove, after his baptism in the Jordan River.  There was a clear distinction between the baptism of Jesus himself, and the specific dove bestowal of the Spirit that followed.  Despite the fact that there was no indication of any real anointing in any of these baptismal accounts of Jesus, the coming of the Spirit, in the form of a dove, was considered a symbolic anointing of Jesus within the Judaic prophetic line.  This incident functioned as the basis for an understanding of Jesus’ metaphorical anointing to become “the anointed one,” “Christ.”  This symbolic metaphorical anointing action gathered many of the Hebrew bible strands of a messianic king, a sacerdotal high priest, a servant, and a prophet into this one event.  Within this process, the messianic time began with a pre-figuration of what was going to take place at the later Pentecost event, when the fullness of the Spirit came to all the followers of Jesus.

Jesus praying (Lk 3:21-3:21)

“When Jesus also

Had been baptized,

He was praying.

Heaven was opened.”

 

καὶ Ἰησοῦ βαπτισθέντος καὶ προσευχομένου ἀνεῳχθῆναι τὸν οὐρανὸν,

 

The four gospel stories show what happened to Jesus after he had been baptized.  Matthew, chapter 3:16, and Mark, chapter 1:10, are almost the same as here.  John, chapter 1:32, had John the Baptist explaining what was happening, but there was no mention of heaven opening or Jesus at prayer.  Luke said that when Jesus had been baptized (καὶ Ἰησοῦ βαπτισθέντος), just as he was coming up out of the water, he was praying (καὶ προσευχομένου).  Heaven was opened (ἀνεῳχθῆναι τὸν οὐρανὸν).  There is no mention of Jesus seeing the heavens open as Mark indicated.  The idea of heaven opening up or breaking open was also found among the major Israelite prophets Isaiah, chapter 63:19, and Ezekiel, chapter 1:1.  All this happened as Jesus came up from the water, not during the baptism itself.  The idea of Jesus praying was unique to Luke and one of his favorite themes.  However, Luke did not have a description of John the Baptist, nor any discussion of whether John should baptize Jesus, as in Mark and Matthew.

Many people were baptized by John (Lk 3:21-3:21)

“All the people

Were baptized.”

 

Ἐγένετο δὲ ἐν τῷ βαπτισθῆναι ἅπαντα τὸν λαὸν

 

Mark, chapter 1:5, and Matthew, chapter 3:5-6, spoke about all the people coming out to be baptized by John the Baptist.  Matthew, like Mark, mentioned that all the people from Jerusalem and the Judean area were going out to see John the Baptist.  However, Matthew also added that the people from along the Jordan River, a little further north, were also coming out to see him.  Mark said that all the people from the whole Judea countryside or region as well as all the people of Jerusalem were going out to see John   Perhaps not all the people of Judea and Jerusalem went out to be baptized by John.  Luke here, on the other hand, gave no geographical indications.  He simply generically stated that all the people were baptized (Ἐγένετο δὲ ἐν τῷ βαπτισθῆναι ἅπαντα τὸν λαὸν).  Once again, “all” might be an exaggeration.  John baptized these people in the Jordan River, while they were confessing their sins.  The Jordan River is north of the Dead Sea and Jerusalem.  Jewish baptisms were not that uncommon.  Washing was a physical and spiritual cleansing for sins, as people were unclean or dirty.  Thus, in the process of this spiritual cleansing, they would confess their sins.  John’s baptism had a few unique qualities, since it was a moral statement with an expectation of a coming Messiah or savior.  Clearly, John held a central role in the gospels of Mark and Luke, since they started their stories about Jesus with John.

John and Herod (Lk 3:19-3:20)

“John had rebuked

Herod,

The tetrarch ruler,

Because of Herodias,

His brother’s wife.

John also rebuked

Herod

For all the other evil things

That he had done.

Herod added

To all these evil things,

When he locked up

John in prison.”

 

ὁ δὲ Ἡρῴδης ὁ τετραάρχης, ἐλεγχόμενος ὑπ’ αὐτοῦ περὶ Ἡρῳδιάδος τῆς γυναικὸς τοῦ ἀδελφοῦ αὐτοῦ καὶ περὶ πάντων ὧν ἐποίησεν πονηρῶν ὁ Ἡρῴδης,

προσέθηκεν καὶ τοῦτο ἐπὶ πᾶσιν, κατέκλεισεν τὸν Ἰωάνην ἐν φυλακῇ

 

Both Mark, chapter 6:14-17, and Matthew, chapter 14:1-5, have the imprisonment of John much later in their works, while Luke has it right here at the beginning of his gospel story.  Luke said that John had rebuked Herod Antipas, the tetrarch (ὁ δὲ Ἡρῴδης ὁ τετραάρχης, ἐλεγχόμενος ὑπ’ αὐτοῦ) of Galilee because of Herodias (περὶ Ἡρῳδιάδος), his brother’s wife (τῆς γυναικὸς τοῦ ἀδελφοῦ αὐτοῦ) and all the other evil things that Herod had done (καὶ περὶ πάντων ὧν ἐποίησεν πονηρῶν ὁ Ἡρῴδης,).  Herod added to all these evil things (προσέθηκεν καὶ τοῦτο ἐπὶ πᾶσιν), when he locked up John in prison (κατέκλεισεν τὸν Ἰωάνην ἐν φυλακῇ).  The Roman educated Herod, was the ruler or tetrarch of Galilee and Perea from 4 BCE-39 CE, as a client region, in the Roman Empire.  This Herod Antipas was the son of Herod the Great.  He had built the capital city of Galilee Tiberias, since he was a favorite of the Roman Emperor Tiberius (14-37 CE).  Herod, the Roman ruler in Galilee seized John the Baptist and put him in jail.  John had been complaining that Herod Antipas had married the wife of his half-brother Philip, after he had divorced his first wife.  His first wife went back to her father and started a war with Herod Antipas.  Herod’s new wife was called Herodias.  John had called him out for this marriage with Herodias, his brother’s recently divorced wife.  John had told Herod that it was not lawful for him to have her as his wife.  Thus, Herod had John arrested and sent to prison.