Greek Study Luke 3:1-6 – Advent 2C
v1 Luke, as always the historian, identifies seven historical personalities so as to date the ministry of when "the word of God" came to John in the wilderness, v1-2. Luke's dating of John's ministry dates the commencement of Jesus' ministry to @ 27-29 AD.
δε "of" – marks a seam in the text; note the argument as to whether John is the last prophet of the age of promise or the first prophet of the age of fulfilment.
της ηεμονιας (α) gen. "of the reign" - genitive is adverbial, reference; "with respect to the reign ..." of Τιβεριου Καισαρος gen. " Tiberius Caesar". This word is usually reserved for empowers or high kings.
ηγεμονευοντος (ηγενομευω) gen. pres. part. "when [Ποντιου Πιλατου] governed" - genitive absolute participle forms a temporal clause.
τετρααρχουντος (τετρααρχεω) gen. pres. part. " [Ηρωδου] being tetrarch participle is adjectival. The title "Tetrarch" was given to local rulers appointed by the Roman government to serve alongside a local Roman official- he governed one fourth (a tetrarchy) of King Herod’s former domain. His proper title was Prefect (Herod Antipas 4BC-AD39. Luke completes the dating my mentioning another tetrarch, Phillip (Herod’s brother) and Lysinius the Roman prefect of Abilene (not Texas).
επι + gen. "during" αρχιερεως (ευς εως) sing. "the high priesthood" - Annas and Caiaphas are both mentioned but the priesthood is singular as Caiaphas is functioning as the formal high priest with Annas as the “power behind the throne”. The Romans had removed Annas from serving in 14.
v2 ρεμα του θεου (ος) gen. "the word of God" – not using “λογοσ” as does John, this is an ablative of source - ρεμα means “matter or thing regarding" so this is a prophetic and verbal message not an incarnation/theophany or written one.
επι + acc. "came upon” reminiscent of the OT judges used in the LXX of divine inspiration.
εν + dat. "in [the desert]" - a place of reflection, retreat and revelation; likely the area north west of the Dead sea leading into the Jordan valley.
v3 του Ιορδανου (ος) gen. "[all the country] around the Jordan" - genitive is partitive; referring to a specific region, here Luke literally “grounds” his narrative in the present.
κηρυσσων (κηρυσσω) pres. part. "preaching" - modal, expressing manner, John came preaching (NOT baptizing which follows as a result of his preaching!) Funny, how he has not come to be known as John the Preacher! All of the following clause define what John preached.
βαπτισμα (α ατος) "a baptism" in the koine meaning, “to be overwhelmed or overcome by”. So the word is used both figuratively and literally. It is often used to describe water immersion (but only in post Scriptural use) and to be overwhelmed by/with the Spirit, in tribulation ("fire") and in teaching ("into the Name"). So John preached a message concerning repentance for the forgiveness of sins which resulted in baptism as an outwardly expressed sign of that repentance, not so much of cleansing. Jesus' (and the church’s) later baptism by the Spirit is prefigured by John's water baptism in the Jordan.
Here an interesting discussion on baptism might follow, but…naah.
μετανοιας (α) gen. "repentance" - genitive is adjectival, limiting "baptism", so this is strictly a “repentance type” of baptism. I have spoken in the past of the Greek origin of this word (from agriculture, to turn a team of oxen by persistent persuasion). The Hebrew origins of this word also influence its meaning, shuv which involves a turning back (literally a returning - return to the Lord your God – Joel 2:13) rather than a mere expression of sorrow but the more interesting word is the one that follows; αμαρτιων (α) gen. "sins" – αμαρτιων (hamartia) comes from military jargon and means “to shoot an arrow and miss the mark”, hence to disqualify you from being an elite archer and condemning you to be an infantry grunt and therefore one of the first causalities in battle! “Sin” has consequences.
v4 ως "as [it is written]" - - quotation from Isaiah 40:3-5. εν + dat. "in [the book]" for Luke this is an unusual formula.
λογων (ος) gen. "of the words" so for Luke this use of “word” as opposed to the former, (the word of the Lord in v2) indicates written versus verbal communications.
φωνη (η) "a voice" – literally a sound esp. when use without the definite article, so it may be understood as a description of a "calling."
βοωντος (βοαω) gen. pres. part. "of one calling"
την οδον (ος) "the way/road" - Luke sees John fulfilling Isaiah 40:3-5 as the one who prepares a way through the desert for the return from exile.
κυριου (ος) gen. "for the Lord" - genitive, so "the Lord's way", or the King’s Highway
v5 Note the imagery of road building here. Both the Assyrians and the Persians, (and later the Romans) were road builders, enabling the deployment of troops and merchants.
πληρωθησεται (πληροω) fut. pas. "shall be filled in" - (potholes?)
τα σκολια adj. "the crooked roads" - twisted. I am reminded of the county and township roads that form squares on a map. Here is an image of Fairfield, a village which, along with Osborn, merged in 1950 to form Fairborn. Note the ‘layout” of streets, it is positively Biblical (see page 3)!
The adjective here serves as a noun, so not an existing road, but a place too rough and steep to normally take a road. This intimates power over the terrain that requires a hegemony far greater than that of Herod, Phillip, etc. we’re talking interstates highways here not dirt paths.
εσται (ειμι) fut. "shall become [straight]" - Note the position of the verb to-be before the subject serving to emphasize the reality of what will be.
v6 σαρξ (ξ κος) "mankind" – literally flesh- used here for kin plcae of the Hebrew phrase "living being" i.e. “humaintty” cf. Genesis 2
το σωτηριον adj. "salvation" - Note how Luke replaces "glory" with "salvation" from the original quote.
του θεου gen. "of God - genitive here is treated as subjective; so "all humanity will witness God's global work of salvation."