Chapter # 4 Paragraph # 3 Study # 1
October 22, 2006
31 And came down to Capernaum, a city of Galilee, and taught them on the sabbath days.
32 And they were astonished at his doctrine: for his word was with power.
33 And in the synagogue there was a man, which had a spirit of an unclean devil, and cried out with a loud voice,
34 Saying, Let us alone; what have we to do with thee, thou Jesus of Nazareth? art thou come to destroy us? I know thee who thou art; the Holy One of God.
35 And Jesus rebuked him, saying, Hold thy peace, and come out of him. And when the devil had thrown him in the midst, he came out of him, and hurt him not.
36 And they were all amazed, and spake among themselves, saying, What a word is this! for with authority and power he commandeth the unclean spirits, and they come out.
37 And the fame of him went out into every place of the country round about.
1901 ASV Translation:
31 And he came down to Capernaum, a city of Galilee. And he was teaching them on the sabbath day:
32 and they were astonished at his teaching; for his word was with authority.
33 And in the synagogue there was a man, that had a spirit of an unclean demon; and he cried out with a loud voice,
34 Ah! what have we to do with thee, Jesus thou Nazarene? art thou come to destroy us? I know thee who thou art, the Holy One of God.
35 And Jesus rebuked him, saying, Hold thy peace, and come out of him. And when the demon had thrown him down in the midst, he came out of him, having done him no hurt.
36 And amazement came upon all, and they spake together, one with another, saying, What is this word? for with authority and power he commandeth the unclean spirits, and they come out.
37 And there went forth a rumor concerning him into every place of the region round about.
- I. Luke's Mention of Capernaum.
- A. Luke says "He descended into Capernaum...".
- 1. This word is used by Luke (in Luke/Acts) in twelve of its thirteen New Testament appearances.
- 2. The sense of the word is often arrived and sometimes it signals a departure.
- 3. Capernaum became a kind of "home base." This is where people came looking for Him if they could not find Him elsewhere (John 6:24). It was Peter's home town where he and his family lived while he plied the trade of a fisherman.
- B. The name of the town means "Village of Comfort".
- 1. The name literally means "Village of Nahum" ... the prophet who prophesied Yahweh's avenging wrath upon Nineveh for the "comfort" of Judah.
- 2. But "Nahum" means "comfort".
- 3. It is unlikely that Capernaum was Nahum's home town but no one seems to know for sure where the "Elkoshite" actually lived.
- C. Its mention in this verse is followed by the identifying clause, "a city of Galilee", as though Luke's reader(s) might not know anything about it...yet Jesus had already referred to it in His comments to the Nazarenes about what He had already "done" in Capernaum.
- 1. Galilee was a recognizable region. OnLine says that it was a part of Naphtali that Solomon gave to Hiram, king of Tyre, because he sent lumber from his territory to Jerusalem for Solomon's building projects (IKings 9:11). But, Hiram was not happy about it (1 Kings 9:12) and gave the region a despised nickname as a result. It was to be a "despised" region from that point on. It was called "Galilee of the Gentiles" and was despised by the Jews of Jerusalem and Judea as a kind of "second-class" area.
- 2. It was first mentioned by Luke in his record of Gabriel's visit to Nazareth to tell Mary of her place in the program of God.
- D. The references by Luke to Capernaum are instructive in that the last one is in Luke 10:15 where Jesus condemns Capernaum to Hades. The occasion was of Jesus' commissioning of the Seventy to go forth and represent Him. The context is of Jesus' imparting of His authority to them so much so that "he that heareth you heareth Me and he that despises you despises Me and he that despiseth Me despises the One Who sent Me." Within this context Jesus pronounces a "Woe" upon cities which had seen His mighty works and still remained in their sins. This makes Luke's comment about their astonishment significant.
- 1. It is significant in the first place because Luke deliberately unites 4:31-37 with an inclusio of "authority" (see 4:32 and 4:36) and then ties that paragraph to 10:15 where the issue is again the issue of authority and whether people will submit to it.
- 2. It is also significant because in a "comfortable" setting, people can be "astonished" by authoritative words...and do absolutely nothing with them.
- 3. Jesus' condemnation of Capernaum was not unlike His rejection of Nazareth. It seems like Luke wants Theophilus to recognize a major "human problem": the pronounced reluctance to put "comfort" in its rightful place. It is not an "entitlement", nor is it to be considered particularly "desireable." It is an occasional "perk" and is to be gratefully received for what it is -- a "break" in the conflict; a kind of R&R between battles. But fallen, deceived, human beings often put "comfort" as close to the top of their priorities as they possibly can (witness the incredible amounts of money people will spend on health care as one simple illustration). This leads them not only in bondage, but also into Hades.
- 4. It is interesting to note that at Jesus' baptism (3:22), the Holy Spirit descended upon Him as a "Jonah", but He made His home base in "Nahum's" setting. Interestingly, both Jonah and Nahum were prophets to Nineveh; the former led it to repentance, and the latter announced its judgment because the repentance had "worn off." It was circa 760 B.C. when Jonah preached in Nineveh; it was just 38 years later that Assyria took Israel into an unresolved captivity (722 B.C.); so it was in 612 B.C. that Nineveh was destroyed as Nahum announced.