Interpretation of a scriptural passage
For this assignment, you will write a 3-4 page essay offering your studied interpretation of a scriptural passage. You must select from one of the following passages:
- Luke 4:14-30 The Rejection at Nazareth
- Luke 6:27-36 On Love of One’s Enemies
- Luke 11:1-13 The Our Father (Lord’s Prayer)
- Luke 23:33-49 The Death on the Cross
- Luke 24:1-12 The Empty Tomb
After selecting your passage, follow these steps:
- Read the passage thoroughly and carefully.
- Read the passage in 3 different Bible translations (e.g. KJV, NIV, NAB). Most Bible translations are available online.
- Check Matthew and Mark to see if the same story appears in either of those. Make note of any differences.
- Find an online Bible dictionary, encyclopedia, or concordance to check for any words you do not understand.
- Read 2 Bible commentaries on your passage.
- Make note of the interpretation you read in each commentary. Be aware of any differences between the commentaries’ interpretations.
- Reflect on what you have read and decide if you agree/disagree with any of the commentaries’ major points.
- Write 3-4 page essay on your own studied interpretation of the passage.
- Indicate which passage you have chosen and summarize it in no more than 3 sentences.
- Introduce the reader to your argument.
- Summarize the ways your 2 chosen Bible commentaries have interpreted the passage. One paragraph each.
- Explain your own interpretation of the passage:
- What hermeneutical approaches would be best to use for this passage? Why?
- Did you agree/disagree with the commentaries’ arguments? Why?
- What are your own thoughts on this passage?
- Write a compelling conclusion.
Upon His return to Nazareth, Jesus began to preach in the synagogue as was His custom. Some of His teachings did not auger well with the congregation and they took Him to out of town with the intention of throwing Him off a cliff. However, they did not succeed as Jesus walked away in the midst of the crowd without them identifying Him.
The passage serves three main purposes: to show the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy about the Messiah (Isaiah 61:1-2); to affirm Jesus Christ as the Messiah; and to illustrate Jesus as the limitless savior and His Gospel would transcend the traditional Israel boundaries. Jesus’ choice of scripture was definitely not accidental, it was meant to introduce Jesus to His home town and thus mark the start beginning of His ministry. The statement “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me” confirms Jesus as the savior that Israel had been waiting for and also described Him as a part of the Holy Trinity. When the crowd heard of Jesus’ teaching, they started asking among themselves whether He was not Joseph’s son. This shows their limited perception of Christ, who was too big a “prophet” for the small town.
John Darby’s Synopsis of the New Testament
According to John Darby’s Synopsis of the New Testament, Jesus’ announcement of the grace being upon Him shows that it was time for the deliverance of Israel as was prophesied by Prophet Isaiah. Jesus’ use of the of Isaiah 61:1-2 for reference also shows God’s emphasis on the deliverance of Israel rather than the vengeance of her enemies that is describe in the previous preceding chapters. After reading the scripture and interpreting it with wisdom and presenting himself as the one filled with the Holy Spirit, the crowd still referred Jesus as “the son of Joseph”. According to Darby, this validated Jesus’ statement they a prophet would not be acknowledged in his own town, regardless of the proof presented to them. Darby also interprets the rejection that Jesus faced as the act that opened the way to Christ’s boundless grace.
Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible
In this commentary, Jamieson, Fausset and Brown (1871) feel that it would not have been appropriate for Jesus to use scriptures that described His suffering to initiate mission. Isaiah 61:1-2 was therefore the appropriate scripture because it introduced Jesus as the sent Messiah. The commentators also believe the scripture was suitable because of the allusion to the “jubilee year”. The year was important to Israelites because it was the year that everyone would be freed and they all went to their respective homes (Leviticus 25:10). This exemplified Christ’s purpose in the world; to free the Israelites of the burden of sin and replace it with His grace. Jesus also used the verse to introduce Himself as the Messiah. The use of Elisha and Elijah as His reference prophets because they had performed miracles for individuals that lived beyond their areas of residence was to prepare the Nazarenes that He was sent for all the people and not just Nazareth. The people that Elijah and Elisha served were used as illustrations of the Gentiles that Jesus would save. The commentary suggests that the crowd’s desire to give Jesus capital punishment was the first of many insults that the son of man experienced form His own people.
Allegorical hermeneutics would be the appropriate approach in interpreting the passage on the rejection of Jesus in Nazareth as described in Luke 4:14-30. The people that Jesus was addressing in the synagogue already knew Him as the son of Joseph but now He needed to re-introduce Himself as their savior in just one sermon. He also had to communicate other messages such as the fact that He was the son of God and put Himself in the context of the prophecies of the old-testament. To achieve all these, Jesus had to speak some messages directly and still use some actions to allude to something else. As such, an Allegorical hermeneutic approach is required to decipher the various actions that took place during that sermon, and connect them with the past prophecies as well as the subsequent ministry of Jesus.
I agree with the interpretations that John Darby, and Jamieson, Fausset and Brown made about the passage. Although they did not lay emphasis on same points, it is clear that they all considered the passage describes an important occasion that signified the start of Jesus’ mission. Darby lays emphasis on, among other things, Jesus’ choice of scripture to illustrate establishment of His gospel which would be based on grace and the end of the era of vengeance. I agree with this argument because grace was the main factor that separated the new and old covenants. Jamieson, Fausset and Brown focused on the Jesus’ allusion that He was the savior of the whole world, not just Jews. This is also agreeable to because the subsequent gospels describe the conversion of people like Saul who were heathens.
Luke 4:14-20 describes a very important event in the ministry of Jesus since it was the period He introduced Himself to people that already had a perception of Him as the son of Joseph. The choice of the verse in Isaiah “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because He has anointed me” was significant for this session in order to announce to the crowd that He was now more than Joseph’s and Mary’s son – He was now an anointed of God. He also had to validate Himself by having to connect the previous prophecies about the savior of the Jews. This explains the choice of the chapter from Isaiah, who also states that the savior would be just an ordinary man to the human eye. The reference to Elijah and Elisha served to inform the crowd that he was Jesus was already aware that they would reject Him because they already had an opinion of Him. To the reader of the scripture, it communicates that Jesus already knew that the mission that He was embarking on involved going beyond the Old Testament’s God’s people (Jews).
The book of Luke gives the most detailed account of the rejection of Jesus in Nazareth compared to the other Gospels. The conduct of Jesus during this event indicates that He was well prepared. He knew not only the words to say to the crowd but also the impact that the words would have on them. He choose the right scripture to introduce Himself for anyone that believed in Him yet did minimal interpretation such that those that doubted His identity as the son of God would consider it blasphemy.
Jamieson, Robert, A. R. Fausset, and David Brown. “Bible Commentary Critical And Explanatory; Jamieson, Fausset, Brown”. Bible Study Tools. Web. 17 July 2016.
Darby, John. “Luke 4 Commentary – John Darby’s Synopsis Of The New Testament”. Bible Study Tools. Web. 17 July 2016.