Bible Verse Explanations and Resources


Luke 3:1

Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

Fifteenth year - This was the fifteenth of his principality and thirteenth of his monarchy: for he was two years joint emperor, previously to the death of Augustus.

Tiberius Caesar - This emperor succeeded Augustus, in whose reign Christ was born. He began his reign August 19, a.d. 14, reigned twenty-three years, and died March 16, a.d. 37, aged seventy eight years. He was a most infamous character. During the latter part of his reign especially, he did all the mischief he possibly could; and that his tyranny might not end with his life, he chose Caius Caligula for his successor, merely on account of his bad qualities; and of whom he was accustomed to say, This young prince will be a Serpent to the Roman people, and a Phaethon to the rest of mankind.

Herod - This was Herod Antipas, the son of Herod the Great who murdered the innocents. It was the same Herod who beheaded John Baptist, and to whom our Lord was sent by Pilate. See the account of the Herod family in the notes on Matthew 2:1; (note).

Iturea and Trachonitis - Two provinces of Syria, on the confines of Judea.

Abilene - Another province of Syria, which had its name from Abila, its chief city.

These estates were left to Herod Antipas and his brother Philip by the will of their father, Herod the Great; and were confirmed to them by the decree of Augustus.

That Philip was tetrarch of Trachonitis, in the fifteenth year of Tiberius, we are assured by Josephus, who says that Philip the brother of Herod died in the twentieth year of Tiberius, after he had governed Trachonitis, Batanea, and Gaulonitis thirty-seven years. Antiq. b. xviii. c. 5, s. 6. And Herod continued tetrarch of Galilee till he was removed by Caligula, the successor of Tiberius. Antiq. b. xviii. c. 8, s. 2.

That Lysanius was tetrarch of Abilene is also evident from Josephus. He continued in this government till the Emperor Claudius took it from him, a.d. 42, and made a present of it to Agrippa. See Antiq. b. xix. c. 5, s. 1.

Tetrarch signifies the ruler of the fourth part of a country. See the note on Matthew 14:1.

Albert Barnes
Notes on the Whole Bible

Now in the fifteenth year - This was the “thirteenth” year of his being sole emperor. He was “two” years joint emperor with Augustus, and Luke reckons from the time when he was admitted to share the empire with Augustus Caesar. See Lardner‘s “Credibility,” vol. i.

Tiberius Caesar - Tiberius succeeded Augustus in the empire, and began his “sole” reign Aug. 19th, 14 a.d. He was a most infamous character - a scourge to the Roman people. He reigned 23 years, and was succeeded by “Caius Caligula,” whom he appointed his successor on account of his notorious wickedness, and that he might be, as he expressed it, a “serpent” to the Romans.

Pontius Pilate - Herod the Great left his kingdom to three sons. See the notes at Matthew 2:22. To “Archelaus” he left “Judea.” Archelaus reigned “nine” years, when, on account of his crimes, he was banished into Vienne, and Judea was made a Roman province, and placed entirely under Roman governors or “procurators,” and became completely tributary to Rome. “Pontius Pilate” was the “fifth” governor that had been sent, and of course had been in Judea but a short time. (See the chronological table.)

Herod being tetrarch of Galilee - This was “Herod Antipas” son of Herod the Great, to whom Galilee had been left as his part of his father‘s kingdom. The word “tetrarch” properly denotes one who presides over a “fourth part” of a country or province; but it also came to be a general title, denoting one who reigned over any part - a third, a half, etc. In this case Herod had a “third” of the dominions of his father, but he was called tetrarch. It, was this Herod who imprisoned John the Baptist, and to whom our Saviour, when arraigned, was sent by Pilate.

And his brother Philip tetrarch of Iturea - “Iturea” was so called from “Jetur,” one of the sons of Ishmael, Genesis 25:15; 1 Chronicles 1:31. It was situated on the east side of the Jordan, and was taken from the descendants of Jetur by the tribes of Reuben and Gad and the half tribe of Manasseh, 1 Chronicles 5:19.

Region of Trachonitis - This region was also on the east of the Jordan, and extended northward to the district of Damascus and eastward to the deserts of Arabia. It was bounded on the west by Gaulonitis and south by the city of Bostra. Philip had obtained this region from the Romans on condition that he would extirpate the robbers.

Lysanias the tetrarch of Abilene - Abilene was so called from “Abila,” its chief city. It was situated in Syria, northwest of Damascus and southeast of Mount Lebanon, and was adjacent to Galilee.

Matthew Henry
Concise Bible Commentary
The scope and design of John's ministry were, to bring the people from their sins, and to their Saviour. He came preaching, not a sect, or party, but a profession; the sign or ceremony was washing with water. By the words here used John preached the necessity of repentance, in order to the remission of sins, and that the baptism of water was an outward sign of that inward cleansing and renewal of heart, which attend, or are the effects of true repentance, as well as a profession of it. Here is the fulfilling of the Scriptures, Isa 40:3, in the ministry of John. When way is made for the gospel into the heart, by taking down high thoughts, and bringing them into obedience to Christ, by levelling the soul, and removing all that hinders us in the way of Christ and his grace, then preparation is made to welcome the salvation of God. Here are general warnings and exhortations which John gave. The guilty, corrupted race of mankind is become a generation of vipers; hateful to God, and hating one another. There is no way of fleeing from the wrath to come, but by repentance; and by the change of our way the change of our mind must be shown. If we are not really holy, both in heart and life, our profession of religion and relation to God and his church, will stand us in no stead at all; the sorer will our destruction be, if we do not bring forth fruits meet for repentance. John the Baptist gave instructions to several sorts of persons. Those that profess and promise repentance, must show it by reformation, according to their places and conditions. The gospel requires mercy, not sacrifice; and its design is, to engage us to do all the good we can, and to be just to all men. And the same principle which leads men to forego unjust gain, leads to restore that which is gained by wrong. John tells the soldiers their duty. Men should be cautioned against the temptations of their employments. These answers declared the present duty of the inquirers, and at once formed a test of their sincerity. As none can or will accept Christ's salvation without true repentance, so the evidence and effects of this repentance are here marked out.
Ellen G. White
The Desire of Ages, 103-8

With awed yet exultant spirit he searched in the prophetic scrolls the revelations of the Messiah's coming,—the promised seed that should bruise the serpent's head; Shiloh, “the peace giver,” who was to appear before a king should cease to reign on David's throne. Now the time had come. A Roman ruler sat in the palace upon Mount Zion. By the sure word of the Lord, already the Christ was born. DA 103.1

Isaiah's rapt portrayals of the Messiah's glory were his study by day and by night,—the Branch from the root of Jesse; a King to reign in righteousness, judging “with equity for the meek of the earth;” “a covert from the tempest; ... the shadow of a great rock in a weary land;” Israel no longer to be termed “Forsaken,” nor her land “Desolate,” but to be called of the Lord, “My Delight,” and her land “Beulah.” Isaiah 11:4; 32:2; 62:4, margin. The heart of the lonely exile was filled with the glorious vision. DA 103.2

He looked upon the King in His beauty, and self was forgotten. He beheld the majesty of holiness, and felt himself to be inefficient and unworthy. He was ready to go forth as Heaven's messenger, unawed by the human, because he had looked upon the Divine. He could stand erect and fearless in the presence of earthly monarchs, because he had bowed low before the King of kings. DA 103.3

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Ellen G. White
The Desire of Ages, 132-3

This chapter is based on John 1:19-51.

John the Baptist was now preaching and baptizing at Bethabara, beyond Jordan. It was not far from this spot that God had stayed the river in its flow until Israel had passed over. A little distance from here the stronghold of Jericho had been overthrown by the armies of heaven. The memory of these events was at this time revived, and gave a thrilling interest to the Baptist's message. Would not He who had wrought so wonderfully in ages past again manifest His power for Israel's deliverance? Such was the thought stirring the hearts of the people who daily thronged the banks of the Jordan. DA 132.1

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Ellen G. White
Early Writings, 154

John informed his disciples that Jesus was the promised Messiah, the Saviour of the world. As his work was closing, he taught his disciples to look to Jesus, and follow Him as the Great Teacher. John's life was sorrowful and self-denying. He heralded the first advent of Christ, but was not permitted to witness His miracles, and enjoy the power manifested by Him. When Jesus should establish Himself as a teacher, John knew that he himself must die. His voice was seldom heard, except in the wilderness. His life was lonely. He did not cling to his father's family, to enjoy their society, but left them in order to fulfill his mission. Multitudes left the busy cities and villages and flocked to the wilderness to hear the words of the wonderful prophet. John laid the ax to the root of the tree. He reproved sin, fearless of consequences, and prepared the way for the Lamb of God. EW 154.1

Herod was affected as he listened to the powerful, pointed testimonies of John, and with deep interest he inquired what he must do to become his disciple. John was acquainted with the fact that he was about to marry his brother's wife, while her husband was yet living, and faithfully told Herod that this was not lawful. Herod was unwilling to make any sacrifice. He married his brother's wife, and through her influence, seized John and put him in prison, intending however to release him. While there confined, John heard through his disciples of the mighty works of Jesus. He could not listen to His gracious words; but the disciples informed him and comforted him with what they had heard. Soon John was beheaded, through the influence of Herod's wife. I saw that the humblest disciples who followed Jesus, witnessed His miracles, and heard the comforting words which fell from His lips, were greater than John the Baptist; that is, they were more exalted and honored, and had more pleasure in their lives. EW 154.2

John came in the spirit and power of Elijah to proclaim the first advent of Jesus. I was pointed down to the last days and saw that John represented those who should go forth in the spirit and power of Elijah to herald the day of wrath and the second advent of Jesus. EW 155.1

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Ellen G. White
Gospel Workers 1915, 54-7

“By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; ...for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God.” [Hebrews 11:5.] GW 54.1

To such communion God is calling us. As was Enoch's, so must be their holiness of character who shall be redeemed from among men at the Lord's second coming. GW 54.2

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