What does Luke 3:2 mean?
ESV: during the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John the son of Zechariah in the wilderness.
NIV: during the high-priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John son of Zechariah in the wilderness.
NASB: in the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John, the son of Zechariah, in the wilderness.
CSB: during the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, God's word came to John the son of Zechariah in the wilderness.
NLT: Annas and Caiaphas were the high priests. At this time a message from God came to John son of Zechariah, who was living in the wilderness.
KJV: Annas and Caiaphas being the high priests, the word of God came unto John the son of Zacharias in the wilderness.
Verse Commentary:
Luke makes several references to major political figures, to establish a timeline for his account (Luke 1:5; 2:1–2). In the prior verse, that included the various heads of government who ruled at the time (Luke 3:1). Here, he points to the top religious leaders of Israel.

Originally, Israel's high priests served until death, passing the role to a son. Rome did not prefer to leave anyone in power for too long, however, so they occasionally forced new men into the position (John 11:49). Despite official status, former high priests, such as Annas, were still called by that title. During the public ministry of Christ, Annas' son-in-law Caiaphas was the official, Roman-recognized high priest (Matthew 26:3).

After this list of impressive, famous, well-connected people, Luke makes a pointed remark. God's message did not come to these worldly figureheads; it came to the son of a simple priest who lived alone in the desert (Luke 1:13, 80). This reinforces the idea that the world's definition of importance is irrelevant to God (1 Corinthians 1:18, 26–27).
Verse Context:
Luke 3:1–6 continues a pattern establishing Luke's account as genuine history. Once again, he ties these events to other historical markers. This also creates contrast: while powerful men are in powerful positions, the "the word of God" comes to a strange hermit living in the desert. Luke's account also provides a connection between John's ministry and the prophecies which predicted it.
Chapter Summary:
The early part of Luke's gospel shifts back and forth between the histories of Jesus and John the Baptist. Chapter 3 starts with historical and prophetic context about John. It then depicts some of John's interactions with local religious leaders. Luke gives only a brief description of Jesus' baptism. He also touches on John's criticism of Herod the Tetrarch, which would eventually result in John's execution (Matthew 14:10–12). The chapter ends with a genealogy of Christ.
Chapter Context:
Chapters 1 and 2 provided early history for both John the Baptist and Jesus. Chapter 3 establishes John's preaching ministry and its connection to Jesus Christ. The chapter ends with a genealogy which some believe runs through Mary's side of the family. Chapter 4 transitions from Jesus' baptism into His public ministry, by describing His fasting in the wilderness and temptation by Satan.
Book Summary:
Luke was a traveling companion of Paul (Acts 16:10) and a physician (Colossians 4:14). Unlike Matthew, Mark, and John, Luke writes his gospel as an historian, rather than as a first-hand eyewitness. His extensive writings also include the book of Acts (Acts 1:1–3). These are deliberately organized, carefully researched accounts of those events. The gospel of Luke focuses on the earthly ministry of Jesus Christ. Luke's Gentile perspective presents Christ as a Savior for all people, offering both forgiveness and direction to those who follow Him.
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