SUMMARY.--John's Preaching and Baptism. John's Witness of Christ. Herod and Herodias. Jesus Baptized. The Anointing and the Voice from Heaven. The Genealogy of Christ.
1. In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Cæsar. Tiberius, the second Roman emperor, was the step-son and successor of Augustus Cæsar (see Luke 2:1, note). Tiberius was raised to the throne A.U.C. 764 (after the founding of Rome), and the fifteenth year would be A.U.C. 779. Counting back thirty years from this, brings us to A.U.C. 749, which is about four years earlier than the common date of the birth of Jesus and before the death of Herod the king. See notes on Matt. 2:1. Pilate being governor of Judea. Archelaus, the son of "Herod the king," was deposed after ten years of rule, and Judea made a province under the rule of a Roman governor. Pontius Pilate was the fifth of these. Herod being tetrarch of Galilee. See notes on the Herods under Matt. 2:1. It was this Herod, Herod Antipas, who murdered John the Baptist. His brother Philip. This was not the husband of Herodias, but another brother Philip. Abilene. North of Palestine.
2. In the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas. The Jews recognized but one high priest, who held his office for life, but Annas was removed from the office by the Roman governor, Pilate, and his son-in-law, Caiaphas, appointed in his place. Hence, both were called high priests at the same time. The word of God came unto John. He was called to begin his work.
7. Offspring of vipers. Spoken to the Pharisees (Matt. 3:7).
10, 11. What shall we do? Note, (1) Those that are baptized must be taught; and those who have baptized them are concerned, as they have opportunity, to teach them (Matt. 28:19, 20). (2) In John's answer we have his moral system. His morality differs from that of the Lord, inasmuch as the former lays more stress upon the regulation of the external conduct, while Jesus lays more upon that of the inner life.
12. Publicans. The gatherers of the Roman tax.
14. And the soldiers. Whether these were Jews or Romans cannot be ascertained. It is not improbable that, as Judea was a Roman province, they were Jews or Jewish proselytes in the service of Herod Antipas or Philip, and so were really in the Roman service.
23-38. The Genealogy. For a comparison of the genealogies given by Matthew and Luke, see notes on Matt. 1:1-17. In those notes I have followed Godet, Van Oosterzee, and others in the view that Luke gives the line of Mary, and therefore the line of Christ. Jesus was only supposed to be the son of Joseph, but was the son (that is, descendant, grandson) of Heli, the father of Mary.