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Jesus described his mission in terms taken directly from Isaiah:

[Luk 4:19 NKJV] (19) To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD."

mGNT Luke 4:19 κηρύξαι ἐνιαυτὸν κυρίου δεκτόν

[Isa 61:2 NKJV] (2) To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD, And the day of vengeance of our God; To comfort all who mourn,

Paul seems to think that he was living in the acceptable year of the Lord:

[2Co 6:2 CSB] (2) For he says: At an acceptable time I listened to you, and in the day of salvation I helped you. See, now is the acceptable time; now is the day of salvation!

When and for how long would a "year of the Lord" be expected to last?

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    +1 to undo the -1. If the question about cherubs having two or four wings is sitting at +4, then this literalist question should not be at -1. No reason why this isn't a valid topic for exegesis.
    – Robert
    Commented Aug 6, 2022 at 22:26

2 Answers 2

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Luke 4:19 should be treated rather delicately because of these observations:

  • The two phrases that it alludes to in Isa 61:2 are in quintessential Hebrew Parallelism: "acceptable YEAR of the LORD" vs "DAY of vengeance of our God". This is typical of many other places in the OT that places in "Day" and "Year" in parallel forms and (in the absence of numerical adjectives) means a period of time without necessarily being too specific. See for example: Isa 34:8, 61:2, 63:4, Job 10:5, 15:20, 36:11, Ps 39:5, 61:6, 90:10, 15, Eze 22:4. (In other places the Hebrew has "day" or "days" when clearly "year" or "years" is intended: Gen 5, Ex 13:10, 1 Sam 2:19, 20:6, 27:7.)
  • Jesus also uses this classic Hebrew idiom when we observe that He says "Year of the Lord's favour" and then asserts (v21), "this day, this scripture has been fulfilled". Hence, Jesus believed that the "year of the Lord's favour" had arrived as He was preaching. That is, Jesus used the quote from Isaiah as the keynote message of His earthly ministry and Gospel.
  • Jesus, when he quoted Isaiah, He did NOT quote "the day of vengeance of our God". That is, Jesus specifically chose what He wanted from Isaiah's prophecy (which contains much else) and repurposed it for His own.

The idea of "the acceptable year" or, "year of the LORD's favour" is clearly an allusion by Isaiah to the Jubilee, as Ellicott has observed.

The acceptable year of the Lord.--The primary reference was to the year of Jubilee, when land that had been mortgaged returned to its owner, and debts were forgiven, and Israelite slaves released (Leviticus 25:9-10). It was to our Lord, as it had been to Isaiah, the type of the "year" of the divine kingdom. A somewhat slavish literalism, which the study of St. John's Gospel (Luke 2, 5, 6, 7, 12) would have dispelled in an hour, led some of the Fathers to infer from this that our Lord's ministry lasted but for a single year.

Thus, the "year of the Lord's favour" is not a literal year but the time when Jesus began His ministry and the proclamation of the Gospel when lasts until now.

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  • I marked this as the answer, but with one reservation. It should be noted that John's gospel has a three year (give or take six months) earthly ministry of Jesus, but Jesus' recorded activities in the synoptics reflect a single year. And only in Luke is there an explicit reference to the "acceptable year of the LORD." I used to consider this an unimportant contribution, but John is so adamant that this is the way it all happened because of eyewitness testimony, but then Luke also says that "you can be sure that this is how it happened." How does one misremember one year vs three?
    – Ruminator
    Commented Aug 6, 2022 at 23:29
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The acceptable year of the Lord, referred to the Jubilee Year proclaimed in Leviticus 25:8-17. The Jubilee Year was liked a reset button. Whatever inequality developed in the previous 49 years, would be made equal once again. Surely in Jesus time, the practice of Jubilee Year had long gone. But Isaiah and Jesus had disclosed the meaning of it.

Luke 4:18-19; Isaiah 61:1-2

18 “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free,

19 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

It means Jesus came to proclaim the Good News, that the Lord will free us from the oppression of Satan, and let us see the light of the Lord.

Paul wrote in 2 Cor 6:2 NIV

2 For he says, “In the time of my favor I heard you, and in the day of salvation I helped you.” I tell you, now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation.

Paul quoted the verse 2a from Isaiah 49:8, where "you" represented Jerusalem. I would say this verse do not related the Jubilee year, but it corelated to the Good News. Paul was urging the Corinthians hold on their salvation, for the time of God's favor would soon be ended.

When will the "acceptable time of the Lord" be expected to last?

I guess it's the time of tribulation. For I observed

Revelation 9:20 The rest of mankind who were not killed by these plagues still did not repent of the work of their hands; they did not stop worshiping demons, and idols of gold, silver, bronze, stone and wood—idols that cannot see or hear or walk.

Revelation 9:21 Nor did they repent of their murders, their magic arts, their sexual immorality or their thefts.

Revelation 16:9 They were seared by the intense heat and they cursed the name of God, who had control over these plagues, but they refused to repent and glorify him.

Revelation 16:11 and cursed the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores, but they refused to repent of what they had done.

Though the tribulation lasted for several years, but probably by that time, the Lord had hardened their heart and the wicked had no chance to be saved, fulfilling the Lord prophesy in

Isaiah 6:10 NIV

Make the heart of this people calloused; make their ears dull and close their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts, and turn and be healed.”

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