Luke 7:20

ESV And when the men had come to him, they said, “John the Baptist has sent us to you, saying, ‘Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?’”
NIV When the men came to Jesus, they said, 'John the Baptist sent us to you to ask, 'Are you the one who is to come, or should we expect someone else?''
NASB When the men came to Him, they said, 'John the Baptist has sent us to You, to ask, ‘Are You the Coming One, or are we to look for another?’?'
CSB When the men reached him, they said, "John the Baptist sent us to ask you, 'Are you the one who is to come, or should we expect someone else? ' "
NLT John’s two disciples found Jesus and said to him, 'John the Baptist sent us to ask, ‘Are you the Messiah we’ve been expecting, or should we keep looking for someone else?’'
KJV When the men were come unto him, they said, John Baptist hath sent us unto thee, saying, Art thou he that should come? or look we for another?

What does Luke 7:20 mean?

Herod Antipas has imprisoned John the Baptist, likely in Perea in Machaerus, a fortress east of the Dead Sea. Jesus began His public ministry when John was arrested by Herod Antipas, and John's disciples have kept him informed about Jesus' teaching (Mark 1:14–15; Luke 7:18). While Jesus has clearly established His divine power and fulfilled prophecy, He has not yet completed every prophecy associated with the Messiah. This leads John to hesitation, and a desire to be sure Jesus is the Christ.

In fact, John asks a question that is common in our time: Is Jesus more than just a good man? He heals, raises the dead, and encourages the downtrodden (Isaiah 26:19; 29:18–19; 35:5–6; 61:1). But to this point in Jesus' life, John sees no sign that Jesus releases the prisoners—particularly him—or judges the wicked such as Antipas (Mark 6:17; Isaiah 26:20; 29:20; 61:1–2). Jesus' response is more evidence of what He's already done. John's disciples witness healing miracles and good news for the poor (Luke 7:22). But Jesus does not promise that John, himself, will be released. He does not promise that the evil Herod Antipas, himself, will receive earthly justice. Nor does He promise to drive the Romans out of Jerusalem…yet.

Jesus-followers of every age must understand that Jesus brought the kingdom of God "now and not yet." As Paul will later say, "For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away.…For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known" (1 Corinthians 13:9–10, 12). Jesus fulfilled more than enough Messianic prophecy to prove who He is; some of the prophetic work of Messiah won't be accomplished until the end times.

Matthew records a condensed version of events (Matthew 11:2–6). Luke records John the Baptist's disciples repeating his question to Jesus verbatim. Luke wrote his Gospel to Theophilus, to bolster his friend's own faith (Luke 1:1–4). It's possible Luke wants Theophilus to know he can come to Christ with his own doubts.

To John and Jesus' direct audience, the question is if Jesus is "the one to come"—a Messianic title and one John had used earlier (Daniel 7:13; Isaiah 40:10; Luke 3:15–16). To Luke and Theophilus, Jesus is established as "Lord" (Luke 7:19).

John's disciples had been with him, likely in Perea. Apparently, Jesus is still in Galilee. Herod Antipas rules both, but Machaerus is several days' journey from Galilee. It's not clear how John's disciples heard of Jesus' miracles or how quickly they spoke to John and came to Galilee.
What is the Gospel?
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