The bull of St Luke


Chapters 3, 4, 5

As a general principle we are reading the Gospel chapter by chapter. That's the best way to keep our reading organised and under control. However, the chapter divisions are not always a good fit with the way the Gospel story unfolds. Our aim must be to follow what we discover from the text itself.

That's why these three chapters will be an exception to our chapter by chapter policy. When we look at them more closely we will discover that the episodes related in these chapters are all concluded by episodes in the following chapter. It is best therefore for us to read those episodes with the preceeding chapter.

The episodes in question are: the Temptation of Jesus (4,1-13) which concludes the events of chapter 3,
the call of the disciples (5,1-11) which concludes the opening of Jesus' ministry in chapter 4,
and the first two episodes of chapter 6 (6,1-12) which conclude a sequence which begins in 5,11.

From the end of chapter 6, we will again be following the chapters as our guide; there is a new beginning in 7,1 which is clearly indicated.

Chapter 3: Overview
(Lk 3,1-4,13)

We can now read through chapter 3 and we note how it divides into two parts. Who is the central character in each part?

Then we continue reading as we have just noted up to 4,13. Consider why do some commentators regard the first part of the Gospel as continuing up to this point instead of just the first two chapters. How is the pattern of the first two chapters being continued up to this point? Consider how 3,21 recalls 1,56, and see also what is said in 7,18 and 9,9.
Note as well how verse 21 is introduced (comparing translations may help here).

It will help to make a comparison incident by incident of Lk 3,1-4,13 with Mk 1,1-13. See Lk 4,14 as parallel to Mk 1,14-15. How broadly speaking has Luke developed Mark?

Then have a look at my response

Reading Plan

What we have now discovered shows how our presentation of this chapter can be made in two stages with the new section beginning in verse 21. We will read each section over two pages.
Our first section therefore tells of John the Baptist (3,1-20). This we can read in two pages because there is plenty to consider in the historical anchor (3,1-2a) so the first page will cover that and also the introduction to John (3,2b-6). The second page then reads the ministry of John and his fate (3,7-20).

The third page for this chapter will be our introduction to the adult Jesus (3,21-38), his baptism and the genealogy which follows it.

We will then read on a fourth page the final part of this introduction to Jesus, his temptation or testing in the desert. This as we have seen is told in the following chapter (4,1-13).

The Sunday Gospels

The third chapter of Luke's Gospel is read on the 2nd and 3rd Sunday of Advent in cycle C (3,1-6 and 3,10-18). Curiously, verses 7-9 are left out, we can only speculate why.
For the feast of the Baptism of the Lord, the Gospel(3,15-16.21-22) overlaps that for 3rd Sunday of Advent. On both Sundays, the imprisonment of John (3,19-20) is omitted.
The genealogy at the end of the chapter (3,23-38) is not read at all.

We can now continue by reading Luke's presentation of John the Baptist, 3,1-20.