Luke 3

Luke 3:1 Now in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar

"Secular evidence for the year of the beginning of Christ's ministry is perhaps the strongest for any date in the New Testament, because it is closely tied to the reign of a Roman emperor. Luke 3:1-3 states that John the Baptist began his ministry during the fifteenth year of Tiberius Caesar, which Roman historians equate to the Julian calendar year A.D. 29. Some months later, Jesus began his ministry at the Passover of A.D. 30." (John P. Pratt, "Passover-Was It Symbolic of His Coming?" Ensign, Jan. 1994, 44)

Luke 3:1 Herod being tetrarch of Galilee

"Tetrarch. The word originally meant the ruler of the fourth part of a country, but was also used when the part governed was some other fraction of the whole. The title is applied in Luke 3:1 to Herod Antipas, Herod Philip (two of the sons of Herod the Great), and Lysanias." (Bible Dictionary)

Luke 3:3 the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins

Orson Pratt

"Every believing penitent sinner should make himself well acquainted with the object of baptism. This ordinance was instituted 'for the remission of sins.' John went 'into all the country about Jordan, preaching the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins' (Luke 3:3)...Baptism is not, as many false teachers now affirm, 'an outward sign of an inward grace,' but it is an ordinance whereby a believing, penitent sinner obtains a forgiveness for all past sins." (Orson Pratt's Works [Salt Lake City: Deseret News Press, 1945], 54.)

Luke 3:5 Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be brought low

Understanding Isaiah was not meant to be easy except to those with the spirit of prophecy (2 Ne. 25:4). Luke's quotation of Isaiah 40:3-5 shows a common element of Old Testament prophesies concerning the Christ. Almost uniformly, these prophecies refer to events of his first coming and his second coming without any clear separation between the two. For example, 'unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder...Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David' (Isa. 9:6-7). Similarly, Isaiah prophesies of the mission of John the Baptist and then immediately follows with a prophecy of events to attend Christ's Second Coming. He doesn't say, "Christ must be crucified, resurrected, ascend into heaven and then return again on the earth when 'Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be brought low'." But Isaiah knew such would be the case.

The Jews were given prophecy which was difficult to interpret because they wanted it that way, 'the Jews were a stiffnecked people; and they despised the words of plainness, and killed the prophets, and sought for things that they could not understand. Wherefore...God hath taken away his plainness from them, and delivered unto them many things which they cannot understand, because they desired it' (Jacob 4:14). In order to provide the Jews with a greater witness, John the Baptist taught them in plainness as the Joseph Smith Translation makes clear.

'...Prepare ye the way of the Lord, and make his paths straight.
For behold, and lo, he shall come, as it is written in the book of the prophets, to take away the sins of the world, and to bring salvation unto the heathen nations, to gather together those who are lost, who are of the sheepfold of Israel;
Yea, even the dispersed and afflicted; and also to prepare the way, and make possible the preaching of the gospel unto the Gentiles;
And to be a light unto all who sit in darkness, unto the uttermost parts of the earth; to bring to pass the resurrection from the dead, and to ascend up on high, to dwell on the right hand of the Father,
Until the fullness of time, and the law and the testimony shall be sealed, and the keys of the kingdom shall be delivered up again unto the Father;
To administer justice unto all; to come down in judgment upon all, and to convince all the ungodly of their ungodly deeds, which they have committed; and all this in the day that he shall come;
For it is a day of power; yea, every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be brought low; the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough ways made smooth;
And all flesh shall see the salvation of God.' (JST Luke 3:4-11)

"Not only does the above passage attest to John's wide knowledge of the gospel but also it clearly shows that John understood the difference between certain events that would occur in the meridian of time and those of the fulness of time. The day of judgment, the day of power, bringing low the mountains and the valleys being filled, was to occur at the time of Jesus' second coming. The way these verses are presented in all other Bibles makes it appear that John thought those events were for his time. The Joseph Smith Translation clarifies this matter and at the same time gives a glimpse of John's extensive knowledge." (Robert J. Matthews, Behold the Messiah [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1994], 46.)

Bruce R. McConkie

"There are two great prophecies about the messengers who shall prepare the way before the face of the Lord. One is by Isaiah, the other comes from Malachi. Each of them refers both to the meridian and to the millennial advents, but more especially to the latter. By the mouth of Malachi the Lord said: 'Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me: and the Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple, even the messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in: behold, he shall come, saith the Lord of hosts.' (Mal. 3:1.) What follows speaks solely and exclusively of the Second Coming and the day of judgment and burning that will accompany it.

"...These two prophetic pronouncements are applied to John the Baptist by the New Testament writers, and truly he came to prepare the way for our Lord's mortal ministry. But each of the inspired accounts has an infinitely greater and grander fulfillment in the last days. John came to prepare the way for the atoning ministry, the ministry of reconciliation, as Paul calls it, the ministry that brought life and immortality to light through the gospel. Joseph Smith came to prepare the way for the triumphal coming, the coming in power and glory with all the hosts of heaven, the coming when the vineyard will be burned and the wicked destroyed, the coming when righteousness and peace shall be established among those who abide the day." (Bruce R. McConkie, The Millennial Messiah: The Second Coming of the Son of Man [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1982], 336-337.)

Luke 3:8 begin not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father

Ezra Taft Benson

"It seems to me that in spiritual matters mankind is inclined very much to ignore the present and to worship the past. We are inclined to revere prophets dead while rejecting the living oracles. We ignore to a very large extent current fulfillment of prophecies and refer back generations ago to prophecies that were then fulfilled. It was so in the meridian of time when the chosen people of our Lord kept referring to Abraham and Moses as their fathers and their prophets, and ignored the greatest prophet that ever walked the face of the earth, yea, the Redeemer of the world, the Savior of mankind. (See Luke 3:8.) In large measure that same spirit characterizes this generation." (The Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1988], 133.)

Luke 3:8 God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham

See commentary for Matthew 3:9.

Joseph Smith

"John having the power took the Kingdom by authority...[and] wrested the Kingdom from the Jews. Of these stony Gentiles-these dogs-to raise up children to Abraham." (Teachings, 319)

Luke 3:10-14 what shall we do then?

Matthew Cowley

"I mentioned briefly this morning about John the Baptist. He knew the welfare program. He came from the wilderness. He had been living in it for years. What did he live on in the wilderness, this great prophet of God, forerunner of the Messiah? He lived on locusts and wild honey. What was his garment? Camel's hair. Not these beautiful camel's hair coats you pay two hundred dollars for, but he came out from the wilderness in that attire having lived on locusts and wild honey and he cried repentance to the people.

"The people said, 'What on earth have we got to repent of?' The first thing they had to repent of was selfishness. 'He that hath two coats, let him impart to him that has none; and he that hath meat, let him do likewise.' (Luke 3:11.) He never said, 'Go to Caesar with your poor, with your needy.' He never said, 'Apply for social security funds from the Romans.' He said that if you had, you were to impart to those who had not. That is God's plan of economy. He went to the tax collectors. My, if anyone needs to repent, it is the tax collectors. And he cried repentance to them.

"And when they said, 'What have we got to repent of?' He said, 'Exact no more than that which is appointed unto you.' (Ibid., 13.) To the people generally he said, 'You that have give to those who have not.' To the government he said, 'Tax only what is appointed unto you.'

"Then he went to the soldiers, those wonderfully attired Roman soldiers. They were proud and haughty men and he cried repentance to them. They said, 'What have we got to repent of?' And he said...'Be satisfied with your wages.' They were working for the government. He said, 'Be satisfied with your wages.' People who work for the government don't produce wealth. They just use it. They eat it up and don't produce. Now, he was telling the Roman soldiers that they should be satisfied with their wages. I used to work for the government. I was never satisfied with my wages. My, how I could sympathize with those Roman soldiers." (Matthew Cowley Speaks [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1954], 168-169.)

Luke 3:11 He that hath two coats, let him impart to him that hath none

Dallin H. Oaks

"Elder Russell M. Nelson has observed that 'when the Lord sent prophets to call Israel back from apostasy, in almost every instance, one of the first charges made was that the poor had been neglected.' Thus, part of John the Baptist's message of repentance was, 'He that hath two coats, let him impart to him that hath none; and he that hath meat, let him do likewise.' (Luke 3:11.)

"The prophets of the Book of Mormon taught that the care of the poor was the only way we could obtain essential blessings. The prophet/king Benjamin declared that we must impart of our substance to the poor, 'such as feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, visiting the sick and administering to their relief' for the sake of 'retaining a remission of [our] sins from day to day, that [we] may walk guiltless before God.' (Mosiah 4:26.)" (The Lord's Way [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1991], 103.)

Luke 3:13 Exact no more than that which is appointed you

Joseph Smith

'For it is well known unto you, Theophilus, that after the manner of the Jews, and according to the custom of their law in receiving money into the treasury, that out of the abundance which was received, was appointed unto the poor, every man his portion;

And after this manner did the publicans also, wherefore John said unto them, Exact no more than that which is appointed you.' (JST Luke 3:19-20)

Bruce R. McConkie

"Roman tax collectors or tax farmers. Imperial Rome sold to the highest bidder the right to collect taxes in a given area. Publicans purchasing this power for large areas often resold it to numerous others who did the actual assessing and collecting in smaller areas. Exorbitant profits were often made by all through whose hands the taxes passed. Cases of exorbitant collections, bordering on extortion, were not uncommon."(Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 3 vols. [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1965-1973], 1: 120.)

Luke 3:15 all men mused in their hearts of John, whether he were the Christ, or not

James E. Talmage

"The people generally were greatly concerned over the identity of John; and as the real import of the voice dawned upon them, their concern deepened into fear. The ever recurring question was, Who is this new prophet? Then the Jews, by which expression we may understand the rulers of the people, sent a delegation of priests and Levites of the Pharisaic party to personally question him. He answered without evasion, 'I am not the Christ,' (John 1:20)" (Jesus the Christ, 130)

Luke 3:16 one mightier than I cometh, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to unloose

James E. Talmage

"...this was the way by which the Baptist declared his inferiority to the Mightier One, who was to succeed and supersede him; and a more effective illustration would be difficult to frame. To loosen the shoe latchet or sandal thong, or to carry the shoes of another, 'was a menial office betokening great inferiority on the part of the person performing it.' (Smith's Dict. of the Bible.) A passage in the Talmud (Tract. Kidduschin xxii: 2) requires a disciple to do for his teacher whatever a servant might be required to do for his master, except the loosing of his sandal thong. Some teachers urged that a disciple should carry his humility even to the extreme of carrying his master's shoes. The humility of the Baptist, in view of the widespread interest his call aroused, is impressive." (Jesus the Christ, 128)

Luke 3:17 he will throughly purge his floor, and will gather the wheat into his garner

"A sickle was generally a crescent-shaped, sharpened metal tool held in one hand while the other hand clutched some stalks of grain. With one sweep of the arm, the reaper cut the grain and, after gathering many stalks, bound them together into a bundle. Bundles (or sheaves) were spread out to dry on a flat threshing floor usually made of stone, and then stalks (straw), husks, and heads of grain were shredded by animals treading over them, sometimes pulling a threshing sledge (upturned on one end, with jagged pieces of metal or stone fixed with pitch into the bottom-see "Amos 1:3Amos 1:3).

"Following the threshing was the winnowing, which separated the grain from the husks. With a winnowing fork (sometimes called a 'fan'), the threshed mixture was tossed into the air, and the afternoon and evening breeze coming off the Mediterranean during the harvest time would carry the lighter husks (the chaff) to settle in their own pile while the heavier grain fell into a pile immediately below the winnower. Any stones or impurities could be further sifted out with a sieve (see Luke 22:31), and then the grain was ready to be used or transported to storage.

"The separation of the grain from the impurities is a scenario similar to that envisioned by John the Baptist, where he described the coming Messiah as one 'whose fan [winnowing fork] is in his hand, and he will throughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat into the garner; but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.' (Matt. 3:12; see Luke 3:17.)" (D. Kelly Ogden, Where Jesus Walked: The Land and Culture of New Testament Times [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1991], 79.)

Bruce R. McConkie

"The Coming One-Jesus, our Blessed Lord-has now come...he has taken the winnowing fan of judgment in his hand to blow the chaff from the wheat. He is sifting out the hearts of men before his judgment seat. The eternal harvest has begun and shall not cease until the threshing floor of the world is thoroughly purged, with every straw of chaff blown away, leaving only the wheat to be garnered into a heavenly granary. And the chaff he will burn with fire unquenchable!" (The Mortal Messiah: From Bethlehem to Calvary, 4 vols. [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1979-1981], 2: 381.)

Luke 3:19 Herod the tetrarch, being reproved by him for Herodias his brother Philip's wife

Herod the tetrarch is also known as Herod Antipas. He was originally married to the daughter of Aretas, king of Arabia. However, while on an excursion to Rome, he stayed with his half-brother Philip and Herodias. Impetuously, he fell in love with his brother's wife. Rather than suppress his inappropriate infatuation, he approached Herodias and convinced her to leave Philip. She agreed as long as he divorced his Arabian wife, which he did. (See Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, Book XVIII, Chap. V, v. 1-2)

John's accusation was that Herod Antipas was a wife-stealer. And worse than that, he had stolen the wife of his own brother! His act was immoral and unlawful, for 'if a man shall take his brother's wife, it is an unclean thing' (Lev. 20:21).

Luke 3:22 the Holy Ghost descended in a bodily shape like a dove

Bruce R. McConkie

"Although the account is meager and the record fragmentary, we can point to John the Baptist as one who saw the person of the Holy Ghost. After Jesus was baptized of John in Jordan, as Luke expresses it, 'the Holy Ghost descended in a bodily shape . . . upon him.' Because the Holy Ghost is a spirit man, the only 'bodily shape' John could have seen was that of a spirit personage. Inserted in Luke's account is the phrase 'like a dove,' clearly meaning that the Spirit came with the calmness, serenity, and peace of which the dove is a symbol. (Luke 3:22.) Mark's account says that John 'saw the heavens opened, and the Spirit like a dove descending upon him.' (Mark 1:10.) Matthew bears a similar witness. (Matthew 3:16.)

"By way of interpretation, the Prophet Joseph Smith said that 'the sign of the dove' was given as a witness that the baptism had divine approval. 'The sign of the dove was instituted before the creation of the world, a witness for the Holy Ghost, and the devil cannot come in the sign of a dove,' he said. 'The Holy Ghost is a personage, and is in the form of a personage. . . . The Holy Ghost cannot be transformed into a dove; but the sign of a dove was given to John to signify the truth of the deed, as the dove is an emblem or token of truth and innocence.' (History of the Church 5:261.)" (A New Witness for the Articles of Faith [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1985], 255.)

Luke 3:22 Thou art my beloved Son; in thee I am well pleased

J. Reuben Clark, Jr.

"We recall that when Jesus came up out of the water, after John had baptized him 'to fulfil all righteousness,' the Holy Ghost descended upon him, and God the Father's voice came from the heavens, declaring: 'This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.' (Matt. 3:17; Mark 1:11; Luke 3:22.) We acknowledge that the same voice and the same message came to Peter, James, and John as Jesus communed with Moses and Elias at the time of the Transfiguration. (Matt. 17:5, Mark 9:7; Luke 9:35.) We declare that the same voice and same message came, in our dispensation, to the boy Prophet Joseph praying in the woods." (Behold the Lamb of God [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1991], 228.)

Luke 3:23-38 The genealogies of Jesus

Bruce R. McConkie

"Matthew begins his gospel by saying, 'The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David.' Thereupon he names an apparent genealogical line from Abraham to 'Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ.' (Matt. 1:1-17.) Luke starts with Joseph and travels genealogically back to Adam without conforming to Matthew's account. (Luke 3:23-28.) Scholars are unable to unravel or bring into harmony the accounts here involved, and we have not been told by revelation the specifics of our Lord's ancestry. There is no way from a historical standpoint to search out the generation of Christ. One of the Biblical accounts may be the genealogy of Mary, the other of Joseph; one may assay to set forth kingly descent, the other give the lineal ancestry. We do not know. The only point upon which there is surety is the fact that Mary was his mother and God was his Father." (The Promised Messiah: The First Coming of Christ [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1978], 471.)

Neal A. Maxwell

"We can wait, as we must, to learn later whether ... Matthew's or Luke's account of Jesus' Davidic descent is correct. (See Matt. 1; Luke 3.) Meanwhile, the Father has, on several occasions, given us Jesus' crucial genealogy: 'This is My Beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Hear Him!'" (Ensign, November 1984, p. 11.)

Luke 3:38 Adam, which was the son of God

Who was Adam's father? Obviously, it was God. Otherwise we must consider Adam an orphan. However, there is an important distinction between Adam, the son of God, and Jesus, the Son of God, for Adam was not begotten of the flesh but of the dust of the earth. Hence, there is only one Only Begotten 'Son of God, after the manner of the flesh' (1 Ne. 11:18).

Mark E. Petersen

"The genealogy of the Savior as provided in Luke calls Adam a son of God. (Luke 3:38Luke 3:38.) So does the revelation given to Joseph Smith: 'And this is the genealogy of the sons of Adam, who was the son of God, with whom God, himself, conversed. And they were preachers of righteousness, and spake and prophesied, and called upon all men, everywhere, to repent; and faith was taught unto the children of men.' (Moses 6:22Moses 6:23Moses 6:22-23.)

"We need to understand the true concept of the first man, Adam. He was next to Christ in authority in the creation; he still is. He directs all dispensations of the gospel ever given to mankind, as the Prophet Joseph Smith taught." (Adam: Who Is He? [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1976], 60.)