Luke 4:14

 Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, and news about him spread through the whole countryside.”

– Luke 4:14, NIV

Luke tells us (Luke 3:21-22) that Jesus was baptized in water and that the Spirit descended upon Him. Whereupon, Jesus was full of the Holy Spirit (Luke 4:1) and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil. He remained in the wilderness for forty days. During that time, Jesus encountered the devil and overcame the temptations that the devil presented. When Jesus answered the devil, each time he cited the Word of God.

Empowered by the Spirit

When the temptation event was over (Luke 4:14), “Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit.” We know from verse 1 that Jesus was led by the Spirit, but the meaning here is that when Jesus returned to Galilee, He was empowered by the Spirit to minister. As Lenski (pp. 243-244) states:

‘In the power of the Spirit’ does not mean that the Holy Spirit led Jesus into Galilee as he led him into the wilderness to be tempted but that, being endowed with the Spirit’s power in his human nature, he proceeded to Galilee and wrought there in this power by word and by deed. ‘In the Spirit’ thus goes back not only to v. 2 [Luke 4:2] but even to 3:22.

Continuous Empowerment

The Spirit came upon Jesus at Jordan and remained (John 1:33) on Him. At Jordan Jesus entered fully into the dimension of the Spirit that empowered Him for service. Jesus was empowered throughout His ministry. According to Swete (p. 56), “St Luke, to whom we owe this fresh reference to the Spirit, evidently means his readers to understand that it covers the whole of the Lord’s ministerial life.”

Although this empowerment is abiding, it is also true that it has its high points. According to Lampe (p. 35): “It is true that the state of being permanently ‘anointed’ with the Spirit has its moments of particularly high spiritual exaltation; it is not . . . uniformly present in the same degree.” The experience of Jesus, and ours, with the Spirit is much like any other personal relationship. It is constant but yet has its moments of special intensity.

The Spirit and Power

The terms Spirit and power are not synonymous. The Holy Spirit is the Third Person of the Holy Trinity. The Spirit of God has power and manifests power in the world and in the lives of believers. Our text speaks of the “power of the Spirit.” As Menzies says (p. 117), power “may be mediated through the Spirit.”

The power “mediated by the Spirit” enabled Jesus to utter inspired speech and to work miracles. As Hawthorne (p. 148) states, “Luke precisely identifies Jesus’ power as the power of the Holy Spirit, and thus attributes those things Jesus did, which caused people to spread his fame far and wide (4:14b), to the dynamis, ‘the power,’ of the Spirit.” Jesus taught (Luke 4:15) in the synagogues and also did mighty miracles (Luke 4:36). The Spirit enabled Him in both word and deed.

For Further Study

Bickersteth, The Holy Spirit. Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications, 1959.
Carter, Charles W. The Person and Ministry of the Holy Spirit. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1974.
Dunn, James. D. G. Jesus and the Spirit. London: SCM Press Ltd., 1975.
Green, Joel B. The Gospel of Luke. Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1997. Hawthorne, Gerald F. The Presence and the Power. Dallas: Word Publishing, 1991.
Horton, Stanley M. What the Bible Says About the Holy Spirit. Springfield: Gospel Publishing House, 1976.
Lampe, G. W. H. The Seal of the Spirit. London: SPCK, 1967.
Lenski, R. C. H. St. Luke’s Gospel. Columbus: The Wartburg Press, 1946.
Robertson, A. T. Word Pictures in the New Testament, Vols. 1-6. Nashville: Broadman Press, 1930.
Marshall, I. Howard. The Gospel of Luke. Exeter, The Paternoster Press, 1978.
Menzies, Robert P. Empowered for Witness. Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1991.
Swete, Henry Barclay. The Holy Spirit in the New Testament. London: Macmillan and Company, 1910.

Copyright 2003 © George M. Flattery

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