What does Luke 3:4 mean?
ESV: As it is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet, “The voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.
NIV: As it is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet: 'A voice of one calling in the wilderness, 'Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him.
NASB: as it is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet: 'THE VOICE OF ONE CALLING OUT IN THE WILDERNESS, ‘PREPARE THE WAY OF THE Lord, MAKE HIS PATHS STRAIGHT!
CSB: as it is written in the book of the words of the prophet Isaiah:A voice of one crying out in the wilderness:Prepare the way for the Lord;make his paths straight!
NLT: Isaiah had spoken of John when he said, 'He is a voice shouting in the wilderness, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord’s coming! Clear the road for him!
KJV: As it is written in the book of the words of Esaias the prophet, saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.
Verse Commentary:
An angel prophesied the birth of John the Baptist, saying he would serve to turn many in Israel towards the Messiah (Luke 1:16–17). This corresponds to prophecies such as those found in Malachi 3:1 and Malachi 4:5–6. John's preaching ministry did just that: he told people about the coming of Christ and directed others to follow Jesus when He began His public ministry (John 1:26–34; 3:28–30).

Here, Luke quotes from Isaiah 40:3–5 to further prove that John the Baptist fulfills prophecy. Scripture not only predicted details such as the place of Messiah's birth (Micah 5:2) and the nature of His death (Isaiah 53:12). It also spoke of a messenger who would announce the Savior's arrival (Luke 3:3). John has spent most of his life living in the desert (Luke 1:80). When he began to preach, his message was precisely what both prophecy and his own parents anticipated (Luke 1:76–77).
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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