The bull of St Luke


Chapters 3, 4, 5

As a general principle we are reading our Gospel chapter by chapter. That's the best way to keep our reading organised and under control. However, the chapter divisions do not always fit our criteria.
This will be the case for these three chapters. We will see that the incidents related in these chapters are all concluded with the first episode of the following chapter.

For these three chapters therefore, we need to follow the cohesion of the story. Thus it is better for us to read the episodes concerned with the preceeding chapter.
These three episodes are: the Temptation (4,1-13), the call of the disciples (5,1-11) and the opening episode of chapter 6 (6,1-12). This last as we will see is part of a sequence of events which begins in chapter 5.

By the end of chapter 6, we will be back on course and again taking the chapters as our guide. We will see then how 7,1 is clearly a new beginning.

Chapter 3: Overview

Read through chapter 3 and note how it divides into two parts. Who is the central character in each part?

Continue reading up to 4,13. Why do many commentators regard the first section of the Gospel as continuing up to this point? How is the pattern of the first two chapters being continued? Consider how 3,21 recalls 1,56, and also see what is said in 7,18 and 9,9.
Note as well how verse 21 is introduced. It may help here to compare translations.

Make a general comparison 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 as a result of a new section beginning in verse 21.
Our first section therefore tells of John the Baptist (3,1-20). This we will read in two pages. There is plenty to consider in the historical anchor (3,1-6) so the first page will cover the introduction. The second page then covers the ministry of John (3,7-10).

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.
With this we will also read the final part of this introduction to Jesus which is told in the following chapter, his temptation in the desert (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 not read, we can only speculate why. There is an overlap of the Gospel for the 3rd Sunday with the Gospel reading for the feast of the Baptism of the Lord (3,15-22). The genealogy (3,23-38) at the end of the chapter is not read at all.

We can now go on to read Luke's account of the ministry of John the Baptist.