VINCENT'S WORD STUDIES
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Robertson's Word Pictures in the NT - Greek NT
1-18. Compare Matt. iii. 1-12; Mark i. 1-8.
Baptism of repentance. Wyc., penaunce.
For (eiv). Better as Rev., unto, denoting the destination of the rite. Remission (afesin). See on Jas. v. 15. The word occurs in Luke more frequently than in all other New Testament writers combined. Used in medical language of the relaxation of disease. Both Luke and John use the kindred verb ajfihmi, in the same sense. Luke iv. 39; John iv. 52.
Paths (tribouv). From tribw, to rub or wear. Hence beaten tracks.
Generation (gennhmata). Lit., births. Rev., better, offspring. It has been observed that John's figurative language is altogether the language of the desert. Notice the succession of images: Brood of vipers; fruits (of repentance) the axe at the root of the tree; the slave boy loosing or bearing the sandals; the baptism of fire; the winnowing fan, the threshing floor, the garner, and the burning of the chaff.
Warned (upedeixen). From upo, under, and deiknumi, to shew. Hence, literally, to shew secretly. The word implies a private or confidential hint or reminder. Compare chapter xii. 5; Acts ix. 16; xx. 35.
Begin. With the first accusing of your conscience. "He anticipates even attempt at excuse" (Bengel). Matthew has think not, indicating a delusive fancy.
Father. The word stands first in the sentence, "We have Abraham to our father," and is therefore emphatic, and with reason; for it was on their descent that the answer of these Jews to John's rebuke turned: "Our father is Abraham.
These stones. See on Matt. iii. 9.
Coats (citwnav). See on Matt. v. 40.
What shall we do? The we in the Greek is emphatic, closing the question.
Hence Rev., very aptly, and we, what must we do?
Do violence (diaseishte). Only here in New Testament. Lit., to shake violently; hence to agitate or terrify; and so to extort money from one by terrifying him. The corresponding Latin word concutere is used by later writers in the same sense. Xenophon says of Socrates: "I know of his once having heard from Crito that life at Athens was a hard thing for a man who desired to mind his own business. 'For,' said he, 'they bring actions against me, not because they are wronged by me, but because they think I would rather pay money than have any trouble'" ("Memorabilia," ii. 9, 1). For this process of blackmail, seiw, to shake, was used. Thus Aristophanes ("Knights," 840):
"Thou shalt make much money by falsely accusing and frightening" (seiwn te kai tarattwn).
And again ("Peace," 639):
"And of their allies they falsely accused (eseion) the substantial and rich" The word in this passage of Luke has the later, secondary meaning,to extort; and therefore the American Revisers rightly insist on, extort from no man by violence. It is used by medical writers, as, for instance, by Hippocrates, of shaking the palsied or benumbed limbs of a patient; or of a shaking by which the liver was relieved of an obstruction. Luke also uses two other compounds of the verb seiw: kataseiw, to beckon, Acts xii. 17 (peculiar to Luke); and ajnaseiw, to stir up, which occurs also in Mark xv. 11. Both these are also used by medical writers.
Accuse any falsely (sukofanthshte). The common explanation of this word is based on the derivation from sukon, a fig, and fainw, to make known; hence of informing against persons who exported figs from Attica, contrary to the law, or who plundered sacred fig trees. As informers were tempted to accuse innocent persons by the reward paid for pointing out violators of the law, the verb acquired the meaning to accuse falsely. Such is the old explanation, which is now rejected by scholars, though the real explanation is merely conjectural. The fig tree was the pride of Attica, ranking with honey and olives as one of the principal products, and there is no authority for the statement that there was a time when figs were scarce, and required legal protection against export. Neither is it proven that there was a sacred kind of fig..Rettig, in an interesting paper in the "Studien und Kritiken" (1838), explains that, as tribute in Attica was paid in kind as well as in money, and as figs represented a great deal of property, there was a temptation to make false returns of the amount of figs to the assessors; and that thus a class of informers arose who detected and reported these false returns, and received a percentage of the fine which was imposed. These were known as fig-shewers. Another writer has suggested that the reference is to one who brings figs to light by shaking the tree; and so, metaphorically, to one who makes rich men yield up the fruits of their labor or rascality by false accusation. Whatever explanation we may accept, it is evident that the word had some original connection with figs, and that it came to mean to slander or accuse falsely. From it comes our word sycophant. The sycophants as a class were encouraged at Athens, and their services were rewarded. Socrates is said by Xenophon to have advised Crito to take a sycophant into his pay, in order to thwart another who was annoying him; and this person, says Xenophon, "quickly dicovered on the part of Crito's accusers many illegal acts, and many persons who were enemies to those accusers; one of whom he summoned to a public trial, in which it would be settled what he should suffer or pay, and he would not let him off until he ceased to molest Crito and paid a sum of money besides." Demosthenes thus describes one: "He glides about the market like a scorpion, with his venomous sting all ready, spying out whom he may suprise with misfortune and ruin, and from whom he can most easily extort money, by threatening him with an action dangerous in its consequences....
It is the bane of our city that it protects and cherishes this poisonous brood, and uses them as informers, so that even the honest man must flatter and court them, in order to be safe from their machinations." The word occurs only here and chapters 19;8, of Zacchaeus, the publican. The American Revisers hold to the A.V., and render neither accuse any one wrongfully, extortion being described by the previous word. Wyc., neither make ye false challenge. In the Sept. it is used in the sense of to oppress or deceive.
Wages (oywnioiv). From oyon, cooked meat, and later, generally, provisions. At Athens, especially, fish. Compare ojyarion, fish, John xxi. 9, 10, 13. Hence ojywnion is primarily provision money, and so used of supplies and pay for an army. With this understanding the use of the word at Rom. vi. 23, "the wages of sin," becomes highly suggestive.
Unloose (lusai). So also Mark; but Matthew bastasai, to bear. See on Matt. iii. 11.
Preached (euhggelizeto). Rev., preserves the fuller meaning of the word according to its etymology: preached good tidings. See on Gospel, Superscription of Matthew.
19, 20. Compare Matt. xiv. 3-5; Mark vi. 17-20.
Evils (ponhrwn). Of several words in the New Testament denoting evil, this emphasizes evil in its activity. Hence Satan is oJ ponhrov, the evil one. An evil eye (Mark vii. 22) is a mischief working eye. See on Mark vii. 22. Added (proseqhken). Used by Luke twice as often as in all the rest of the New Testament. A very common medical word, used of the application of remedies to the body, as our apply, administer. So Hippocrates, "apply wet sponges to the head;" and Galen, "apply a decoction of acorns," etc.
In prison. See on Matt. xiv. 3.
21-23. Compare Matt. iii. 13-17; Mark i. 9-11.
In a bodily shape. Peculiar to Luke.
Thou art my beloved son. Lit., Thou art my son, the beloved. So Mark. But Matthew, This is my son, the beloved.