Luke

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20
21 22 23 24

Luke 3 – Skeptic's Annotated Bible answered

A response and reply to the notes on Luke 3 in the Skeptic's Annotated Bible (SAB).

King James Version

SAB comment

My comment


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,

2 Annas and Caiaphas being the high priests, the word of God came unto John the son of Zacharias in the wilderness.

3 And he came into all the country about Jordan, preaching the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins;

4 As it is written in the book of the words of Esaias the prophet, saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.

St. John in the wilderness
(Veneziano Domenico, c. 1445)

5 Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be brought low; and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough ways shall be made smooth;

6 And all flesh shall see the salvation of God.

7 Then said he to the multitude that came forth to be baptized of him, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come?

"O generation of vipers"
John the Baptist calls all of his contemporaries "a generation of vipers."

8 Bring forth therefore fruits worthy of repentance, and begin not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, That God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham.

9 And now also the axe is laid unto the root of the trees: every tree therefore which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.

"Every tree therefore which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire."
Those who fail to bear "good fruit" will be "hewn down, and cast into the fire."
God's judgment will be just and the consciences of the damned will testify that the sentence is just.

10 And the people asked him, saying, What shall we do then?

11 He answereth and saith unto them, He that hath two coats, let him impart to him that hath none; and he that hath meat, let him do likewise.

12 Then came also publicans to be baptized, and said unto him, Master, what shall we do?

13 And he said unto them, Exact no more than that which is appointed you.

14 And the soldiers likewise demanded of him, saying, And what shall we do? And he said unto them, Do violence to no man, neither accuse any falsely; and be content with your wages.

"Do violence to no man, neither accuse any falsely."
"Be content with your wages" -- no matter how unjust they may be.
Unjust wages are a grave sin as we can read in Jer. 22:13. But it is quite another thing to resort to violence and stealing to enhance your income. This they shouldn't do. And in the case of Roman soldiers, their income wasn't unjust. First of all they knew exactly what they would be getting when they signed up, and secondly they could leave the army when their contract had expired if they didn't like their wages. Thirdly, the pay wasn't that bad with 225 denarii a year. That allowed a soldier to buy a whole year of food with about two months pay. And the pay doesn't include bonuses which could exceed a year's salary.

15 And as the people were in expectation, and all men mused in their hearts of John, whether he were the Christ, or not;

16 John answered, saying unto them all, I indeed baptize you with water; but one mightier than I cometh, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to unloose: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire:

17 Whose fan is in his hand, and he will throughly purge his floor, and will gather the wheat into his garner; but the chaff he will burn with fire unquenchable.

"The chaff he will burn with fire unquenchable."
John the Baptist says that Christ will burn the damned "with fire unquenchable."
I believe there is no person who talked as much about hell as Christ did. Hell is the punishment for sin and Christ died to offer escape from that righteous punishment.

18 And many other things in his exhortation preached he unto the people.

19 But Herod the tetrarch, being reproved by him for Herodias his brother Philip’s wife, and for all the evils which Herod had done,

20 Added yet this above all, that he shut up John in prison.

The baptism of Christ
(Master of the life of John the Baptist, 1330-1340)

21 Now when all the people were baptized, it came to pass, that Jesus also being baptized, and praying, the heaven was opened,

22 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.

"Thou art my beloved Son"
In Luke's gospel, God addresses Jesus directly saying, "Thou art my beloved son." But Matthew (3:17) has God speak to those witnessing Jesus' baptism, by saying: "This is my beloved son." Whatever the exact wording, it is strange that after witnessing this event, John the Baptist is still unsure about Jesus (Mt.11:2-3, Lk.7:19).
How did God address Jesus at his baptism?

23 And Jesus himself began to be about thirty years of age, being (as was supposed) the son of Joseph, which was the son of Heli,

"Joseph, which was the son of Heli."
Luke says that Joseph's father (Jesus' grandfather) was Heli; Matthew (1:16) says his name was Jacob. Notice that the genealogy of Jesus given here is entirely different than that in Mt.1:6-16. Luke lists 43 generations from David to Jesus, Matthew has only 29, and except for David at one end and Jesus at the other, only three names in the two lists are the same (and they are completely out of order). Of course we are told to ignore boring genealogies like this in 1 Tim.1:4 and Tit.3:19. So why are they in the Bible then?
Who was Jesus' grandfather on his father's side?
Genealogy of Jesus (Matthew vs. Luke)
Joseph's father is indeed Jacob (Matthew 1:16), so what is Luke doing here? What about a revolutionary idea? If these genealogies are so different, maybe they are different because they are not for the same person? I suspect the genealogy of the SAB author's father and mother would look quite different, wouldn't they?
And that is exactly what is happening here. Matthew gives the genealogy of Joseph. Luke gives the genealogy of Mary. You should read these verses as “Jesus the son of Heli, Jesus the son of Matthat, Jesus the son of Levi, etc. up to Jesus the son of God.”
Besides this verse, we also know that Heli was the father of Mary from Jewish sources (see T. Hieros. Sanhedrin, fol. 25. 3.).
That Joseph is called the son of Heli is not without precedent. For example Ruth is called the daughter of Naomi (Ruth 1:11) because she had married a son of Naomi.
See also “On genealogies”.

24 Which was the son of Matthat, which was the son of Levi, which was the son of Melchi, which was the son of Janna, which was the son of Joseph,

25 Which was the son of Mattathias, which was the son of Amos, which was the son of Naum, which was the son of Esli, which was the son of Nagge,

26 Which was the son of Maath, which was the son of Mattathias, which was the son of Semei, which was the son of Joseph, which was the son of Juda,

27 Which was the son of Joanna, which was the son of Rhesa, which was the son of Zorobabel, which was the son of Salathiel, which was the son of Neri,

On Zerubbabel's father, see Ezra 3:2.

28 Which was the son of Melchi, which was the son of Addi, which was the son of Cosam, which was the son of Elmodam, which was the son of Er,

29 Which was the son of Jose, which was the son of Eliezer, which was the son of Jorim, which was the son of Matthat, which was the son of Levi,

30 Which was the son of Simeon, which was the son of Juda, which was the son of Joseph, which was the son of Jonan, which was the son of Eliakim,

31 Which was the son of Melea, which was the son of Menan, which was the son of Mattatha, which was the son of Nathan, which was the son of David,

"Nathan, which was the son of David"
From which of David's sons was Jesus descended?
By the flesh, only from Nathan. But both his mother and Joseph were descendants from David, see verse 23.

32 Which was the son of Jesse, which was the son of Obed, which was the son of Booz, which was the son of Salmon, which was the son of Naasson,

33 Which was the son of Aminadab, which was the son of Aram, which was the son of Esrom, which was the son of Phares, which was the son of Juda,

34 Which was the son of Jacob, which was the son of Isaac, which was the son of Abraham, which was the son of Thara, which was the son of Nachor,

35 Which was the son of Saruch, which was the son of Ragau, which was the son of Phalec, which was the son of Heber, which was the son of Sala,

36 Which was the son of Cainan, which was the son of Arphaxad, which was the son of Sem, which was the son of Noe, which was the son of Lamech,

(3:35-36) "Sala which was the son of Cainan."
Who was Salah's father?
The author of the SAB asks if the father of Sala (or Salah) was the son of Arphaxad (Gen. 10:24) as in Genesis or of Cainan as in Luke. This is indeed a discrepancy. Many have offered solutions:
  1. Genesis skips Cainan. The reason could be that Cainan died young and it was Arphaxad who really brought Salah up. There is some precedent in the Bible as for example 1 Chr. 4:1 calls Hezron and the three mentioned after him the sons of Judah while they were technically sons of Pharez, see Gen. 46:12.
    Bible Insight makes a complex case where Cainan was the biological father of Sala, but Arphaxad the parental father and because of Cainan's curse he wasn't mentioned.
  2. Dr. Gail Riplinger offers 8 different explanations (some quite fanciful) each one assuming Luke is correct.
  3. Others propose that an early transcriber of Luke made an error by inserting an additional descendant between Sala and Arphaxad, probably copied inadvertedly from verse 37. This is what John Gill suggests and John Safarti explains in great detail.
    LookingUntoJesus says that Luke got this extra descendant from the Septuagint, but that is unlikely else Josephus would have included Cainan as well.
Both a Cainan who died young or a copyist error seem to me to explain the available facts.

37 Which was the son of Mathusala, which was the son of Enoch, which was the son of Jared, which was the son of Maleleel, which was the son of Cainan,

38 Which was the son of Enos, which was the son of Seth, which was the son of Adam, which was the son of God.

Adam, which was the son of God."
How many sons does God have?
Frequently we, as God's creatures, are called sons of God. But only one person is called the begotten son of God, Jesus Christ, see for example John 3:18.
But as explained in verse 23 we should read this whole genealogy as Jesus the son of ..., Jesus the son of ..., so in here “... Jesus the son of Adam, Jesus the son of God.”. Which reading entirely removes the objection the author of the SAB makes in this verse.