What does Luke 4:26 mean?
ESV: and Elijah was sent to none of them but only to Zarephath, in the land of Sidon, to a woman who was a widow.
NIV: Yet Elijah was not sent to any of them, but to a widow in Zarephath in the region of Sidon.
NASB: and yet Elijah was sent to none of them, but only to Zarephath, in the land of Sidon, to a woman who was a widow.
CSB: Yet Elijah was not sent to any of them except a widow at Zarephath in Sidon.
NLT: Yet Elijah was not sent to any of them. He was sent instead to a foreigner — a widow of Zarephath in the land of Sidon.
KJV: But unto none of them was Elijah sent, save unto Sarepta, a city of Sidon, unto a woman that was a widow.
NKJV: but to none of them was Elijah sent except to Zarephath, in the region of Sidon, to a woman who was a widow.
Verse Commentary:
This completes one of Jesus' examples, begun in the prior verse (Luke 4:25). His childhood neighbors struggle to accept that He could really be the Anointed One of Isaiah's prophecy (Luke 4:16–22). Jesus is pointing out that when God's people stubbornly refuse belief, God may send His messengers to those outside of Israel.

The first example is that of Elijah: during a severe drought, God sent Elijah outside of Israel to perform miracles (1 Kings 17:14–16; 22–24). These occurred in the home of a widow, who was quite possibly a Gentile: a non-Jewish person. Elijah's return to Israel and the end of the drought was miraculous, but the miracle was done to counter the prophets of Baal (1 Kings 18:20–40), who were then killed.

The second example Jesus mentions is that of Elisha and Naaman (2 Kings 5:1–14). Not only was Naaman a Gentile, but he was also commander of the army which had subjugated Israel. Yet God chose to heal Naaman, and not an Israelite, of leprosy (Luke 4:27). Both examples counter the assumption that a true prophet of God is obligated to perform miracles for his own, stubborn people (Luke 4:23).
Verse Context:
Luke 4:14–30 records the earliest days of Jesus' public ministry. He begins teaching in synagogues before returning to His hometown of Nazareth. There, He reads a prophecy from Isaiah and claims that He has fulfilled it. When those familiar with Him imply that Jesus has no place making such claims, Jesus implies that God will send signs to Gentiles if Israel refuses to believe. This results in an uproar, though Jesus makes what seems to be a miraculous escape.
Chapter Summary:
Jesus is taken into the wilderness by the Holy Spirit. While fasting there, He is tempted by Satan. These temptations share an element of ignoring God in favor of what seems easier or quicker. Jesus resists all of these, citing Scripture as He does. When Jesus returns, He preaches and heals to great publicity in Judea and Galilee. While His hometown responds with stubborn skepticism, others are eager to hear His teaching and experience His miraculous power.
Chapter Context:
Chapter 3 explained how John the Baptist preached to prepare others to receive Jesus Christ. Luke then provided Jesus' earthly ancestry. Chapter 4 begins with Jesus in the wilderness being tempted by Satan. He returns to preach and perform healing miracles in Judea and Galilee. Chapter 5 shows Him calling disciples and demonstrating further proofs of His authority.
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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