Luke 3

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Luke 3
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Papyrus 4 (Luk 6.4-16).jpg
Luke 6:4-16 on Papyrus 4, written about AD 150-175.
Book Gospel of Luke
Bible part New Testament
Order in the Bible part 3
Category Gospel

Luke 3 is the third chapter of the Gospel of Luke in the New Testament of the Christian Bible. It contains an account of the preaching of John the Baptist as well as a Genealogy of Jesus. The Expositor's Greek Testament states that in this chapter "the ministry of the new era opens".[1]


The original text is written in Koine Greek and is divided into 38 verses. Some most ancient manuscripts containing this chapter are:


A part of Luke's genealogy of Jesus (Luke 3:23-26), from the Book of Kells, transcribed by Celtic monks c. 800

The New King James Version organises this chapter as follows:

  • Luke 3:1-6 = John the Baptist Prepares the Way
  • Luke 3:7-20 = John Preaches to the People
  • Luke 3:21-22 = John Baptizes Jesus
  • Luke 3:23-38 = The Genealogy of Jesus Christ

Cross reference

  • Luke 3:4-6: Isaiah 40:3–5

John the Baptist

Luke, as in the first two chapters, provides several points of historical data, in this case six, to specify the date of the events he describes:[1]

In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar - when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, Herod tetrarch of Galilee, his brother Philip tetrarch of Iturea and Traconitis, and Lysanias tetrarch of Abilene — during the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John son of Zechariah in the desert. (1-2)

Tiberius' fifteenth year of rule was AD 29 or 30, so one can date the start of John's preaching to then.

Luke, like Mark 1:2-3 Matthew 3:3 and John 1:23 quotes Isaiah 40 but quotes it to the greatest length in reference to John. It is possible that he does this to include the message that "...all flesh (or all mankind) will see God's salvation" (6) to his Gentile audience.[2] He preaches baptism and repentance, and tells people that their descent from Abraham will not save them from God, that "...out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham. The axe is already at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire." (8-9)

The people ask what they should do and John says share and that tax collectors and soldiers should not abuse their positions. They ask him if he is the Christ, and he replies "I baptize you with water. But one more powerful than I will come, the thongs of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire." (16) also found in Matthew 3:11 Mark 1:7-8 and John 1:26-27. John is then locked up by Herod for rebuking him about his wife Herodias, Herod adding this crowning iniquity to all his other misdeeds.[1]

Jesus's baptism

Luke then tells us then Jesus was one of the many who John baptized. The Holy Spirit appears to him as a dove and tells him "You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased" (cf. Matthew 3:13-17, Mark 1:9-11, John 1:32-34). Luke says that "...Jesus himself was about thirty years old when he began his ministry". (23). Luke does not state how many years John baptised for, but this is when most date the start of Jesus's ministry, 29 or 30. He had to be more than thirty years old, as he was born about six months before Jesus was born, as noted in Luke 1. Most probably John was born in 4 BC.

The ancestry of Jesus

Luke then sets out, like Matthew 1, a genealogy of Jesus, starting with his legal father Joseph and lists 73 people between Joseph and Adam, who Luke says is "...the Son of God",[3] thus having 75 people between God and Jesus. This genealogy is longer than Matthew's, works retrospectively from Jesus back to Adam, (whereas Matthew's runs chronologically forward from Abraham to Jesus), and has a number of other differences. Luke names Joseph's father and thus Jesus's grandfather as Heli, which could be Mary's father, as noted in the Talmud.[4] On the other hand, Matthew records the name of Joseph's father was Jacob. They then say that Jesus's great grandfather was named Matthat or Matthan, who could be the same person or, as first suggested by Julius Africanus, brothers. The lists then diverge from there, coming together again at David.

Verse 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.[5]

Parallel verses: Matthew 1:3-4

See also


  1. ^ a b c Expositor's Greek Testament on Luke 3, accessed 20 May 2018
  2. ^ Brown, p. 235
  3. ^ Luke 3:38
  4. ^ Talmud Yerushalmi, Hag. chap.2, 11a; Hebrew text at, records as follows: למרים ברת עלי l'miryam bart eli, "Of Mary the daughter of (H)Eli"
  5. ^ Luke 3:33


  • Brown, Raymond E., An Introduction to the New Testament Doubleday 1997 ISBN 0-385-24767-2
  • Luke 3 NIV

Preceded by
Luke 2
Chapters of the Bible
Gospel of Luke
Succeeded by
Luke 4
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