Luke 4:16-30 as Programmatic for the Gospel of Luke

The following is a paper submitted to Dr. Joshua W. Jipp in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the course NT 6211, Synoptic Gospels and Johannine Literature, at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, Deerfield, Illinois, September, 2014.

This paper seeks to prove that Luke 4:16-30 is programmatic for Luke’s presentation of Jesus. This will be accomplished by overviewing Luke 4:16-30, providing an initial case for Luke 4:16-30’s programmatic role, investigating textual matters in Luke’s citation of Isaiah 61:1-2, and tracing key themes from 4:16-30 throughout the entirety of Luke’s gospel.

Overview of Luke 4:16-30

Luke’s account of Jesus’ ministry begins with Jesus’ synagogue activity recorded in Luke 4:16-30. “As was His custom,” Jesus enters the synagogue. He then reads Isaiah 61:1-2 and interprets it by applying it to Himself in fulfillment categories (4:16-21).

Isaiah 61 occurs in the second major section of Isaiah, the ‘book of comfort’ (chs. 40-66). The ‘book of judgment’ (chs. 1-39) vividly presents God’s judgment of the nations, including Israel. In the ‘book of comfort’ the tides turn as Isaiah foretells of the restoration of God’s people. In Isaiah 61 the proclamation of this reversal of Israel’s fortunes is to be accomplished by a Spirit anointed messenger of God. Jesus interprets this agent as Himself.

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