III. 1. The fifteenth year of Tiberius - Reckoning from the time when Angustus made him his colleague in the empire. Herod being tetrarch of Galilee - The dominions of Herod the Great were, after his death, divided into four parts or tetrarchies. This Herod his son was tetrarch of Galilee, reigning over that fourth part of his dominions. His brother reigned over two other fourth parts, the region of Iturea, and that of Trachonitis (that tract of land on the other side Jordan, which had formerly belonged to the tribe of Manasseh.) And Lysanias (probably descended from a prince of that name, who was some years before governor of that country) was tetrarch of the remaining part of Abilene, which was a large city of Syria, whose territories reached to Lebanon and Damascus, and contained great numbers of Jews. Matthew 3:1; Mark 1:1.
Verse 2. Annas being high priest, and Caiaphas - There could be but one high priest, strictly speaking, at once. Annas was the high priest at that time, and Caiaphas his sagan or deputy.
Verse 4. Isaiah 40:3.
Verse 5. Every valley shall be filled, &c. - That is, every hinderance shall be removed.
Verse 6. The salvation of God - The Saviour, the Messiah.
Verse 8. Say not within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father - That is, trust not in your being members of the visible Church, or in any external privileges whatsoever: for God now requires a change of heart; and that without delay.
Verse 10. He answereth - It is not properly John, but the Holy Ghost, who teaches us in the following answers, how to come ourselves, and how to instruct other penitent sinners to come to Christ, that he may give them rest. The sum of all this is, Cease to do evil, learn to do well. These are the fruits worthy of repentance.
Verse 20. He shut up John - This circumstance, though it happened after, is here mentioned before our Lord's baptism, that his history (that of John being concluded) may then follow without any interruption.
Verse 21. Jesus praying, the heaven was opened - It is observable, that the three voices from heaven, see Luke 9:29,35; John 12:28; by which the Father bore witness to Christ, were pronounced either while he was praying, or quickly after it. Matthew 3:13; Mark 1:9.
Verse 23. And Jesus was - John's beginning was computed by the years of princes: our Saviour's by the years of his own life, as a more august era. About thirty years of age - He did not now enter upon his thirtieth year (as the common translation would induce one to think) but he now entered on his public ministry: being of such an age as the Mosaic law required. Our great Master attained not, as it seems, to the conclusion of his thirty-fourth year. Yet what glorious achievements did he accomplish within those narrow limits of time! Happy that servant, who, with any proportionable zeal, despatches the great business of life; and so much the more happy, if his sun go down at noon. For the space that is taken from the labours of time, shall be added to the rewards of eternity. The son of Heli - That is, the son-in-law: for Heli was the father of Mary. So St. Matthew writes the genealogy of Joseph, descended from David by Solomon; St. Luke that of Mary, descended from David by Nathan. In the genealogy of Joseph (recited by St. Matthew) that of Mary is implied, the Jews being accustomed to marry into their own families.
Verse 38. Adam the son of God - That is, whatever the sons of Adam receive from their human parents, Adam received immediately from God, except sin and misery.