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Verse 18. The Spirit {m} of the Lord is upon me. Or, I speak by divine appointment. I am divinely inspired to speak. There can be no doubt that the passage in Isaiah had a principal reference to the Messiah. Our Saviour directly applies it to himself, and it is not easily applicable to any other prophet. Its first application might have been to the restoration of the Jews from Babylon; but the language of prophecy is often applicable to two similar events, and the secondary event is often the most important. In this case the prophet uses most striking poetic images to depict the return from Babylon, but the same images also describe the appropriate work of the Son of God.

Hath anointed me. Anciently kings and prophets and the high-priest were set apart to their work by anointing with oil, 1 Ki 19:15,16; Ex 29:7; 1 Sa 9:16, &c. This oil or ointment was made of various substances, and it was forbidden to imitate it, Ex 30:34-38. Hence those who were set apart to the work of God as king, prophet, or priest, were called the Lord's anointed, 1 Sa 16:6; Ps 84:9; Isa 45:1.

Hence the Son of God is called the Messiah, a Hebrew word signifying the Anointed, or the Christ, a Greek word signifying the same thing. And by his being anointed is not meant that he was literally anointed, for he was never set apart in that manner, but that God had set him apart for this work; that he had constituted or appointed him to be the prophet, priest, and king of his people. See Barnes on "Mt 1:1".


To preach the gospel to the poor. The English word gospel is derived from two words—God or good, and spell, an old Saxon word meaning history, relation, narration, word, or speech, and the word therefore means a good communication or message. This corresponds exactly with the meaning of the Greek word — a good or joyful message—glad tidings. By the poor are meant all those who are destitute of the comforts of this life, and who therefore may be more readily disposed to seek treasures in heaven; all those who are sensible of their sins, or are poor in spirit (Mt 5:3); and all the miserable and the afflicted, Isa 58:7. Our Saviour gave it as one proof that he was the Messiah, or was from God, that he preached to the poor, Mt 11:5. The Pharisees and Sadducees despised the poor; ancient philosophers neglected them; but the gospel seeks to bless them—to give comfort where it is felt to be needed, and where it will be received with gratitude. Riches fill the mind with pride, with self-complacency, and with a feeling that the gospel is not needed. The poor feel their need of some sources of comfort that the world cannot give, and accordingly our Saviour met with his greatest success among the poor; and there also, since, the gospel has shed its richest blessings and its purest joys. It is also one proof that the gospel is true. If it had been of men, it would have sought the rich and mighty; but it pours contempt on all human greatness, and seeks, like God, to do good to those whom the world overlooks or despises. See Barnes on "1 Co 1:26".


To heal the brokenhearted. To console those who are deeply afflicted, or whose hearts are broken by external calamities or by a sense of their sinfulness.

Deliverance to the captives. This is a figure originally applicable to those who were in captivity in Babylon. They were miserable. To grant deliverance to them and restore them to their country — to grant deliverance to those who are in prison and restore them to their families—to give liberty to the slave and restore him to freedom, was to confer the highest benefit and impart the richest favour. In this manner the gospel imparts favour. It does not, indeed, literally open the doors of prisons, but it releases the mind captive under sin; it gives comfort to the prisoner, and it will finally open all prison doors and break off all the chains of slavery, and, by preventing crime, prevent also the sufferings that are the consequence of crime.

Sight to the blind. This was often literally fulfilled, Mt 1:5; Joh 9:11; Mt 9:30, &c.

To set at liberty them that are bruised. The word bruised, here, evidently has the same general signification as broken- hearted or the contrite. It means those who are pressed down by great calamity, or whose hearts are pressed or bruised by the consciousness of sin. To set them at liberty is the same as to free them from this pressure, or to give them consolation.

{m} Isa 61:1 {n} "heal" 2 Ch 34:27; Ps 34:18; 51:17; 147:3; Isa 57:15

{o} "recovering" Ps 146:8; Is 29:18

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