Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible, by John Wesley, [1754-65], at sacred-texts.com
isa 61:1Upon me - Though the prophet may speak of himself, yet it is principally to be understood of Christ. Anointed - Set me apart, both capacitating him with gifts, and commissioning him with authority; and yet more, as it is applied to Christ, a power to make all effectual, from whence he hath also the name of Messiah among the Hebrews, and of Christ among the Greeks; nay, Christ alone among the prophets hath obtained this name, Psa 45:7. The prophet describes first, who Christ is, and then what are his offices. Liberty - This appertains to Christ's kingly office, whereby he proclaims liberty from the dominion of sin, and from the fear of hell.
isa 61:2Vengeance - It being necessary, that where God will deliver his people, he should take vengeance on their enemies; principally on the enemies of his church, and the spiritual ones chiefly, Satan, sin, and death.
isa 61:3Ashes - By ashes understand whatever is proper for days of mourning, as by beauty whatever may become times of rejoicing. Oil of joy - He calls it oil of joy in allusion to those anointings they were wont to use in times of joy, gladness for heaviness; and it is called a garment in allusion to their festival ornaments, for they had garments appropriated to their conditions, some suitable to times of rejoicing, and some to times of mourning. Called - That they may be so. Trees - That they shall be firm, solid, and well rooted, being by faith engrafted into Christ, and bringing forth fruit suitable to the soil wherein they are planted.
isa 61:5Strangers - Gentiles, such as are not of the natural race of the Jews, but Gentile converts. Or, such as shall have no more than an outward profession. Stand - Ready to be at thy service. Flocks - The churches with the word of God. Plow - men - Shall manage the whole work of God's spiritual husbandry.
isa 61:6The priests - The whole body of them shall now be as near to God as the priests were formerly, and shall be a royal priesthood. This is most certainly true of all the faithful under the gospel.
isa 61:7Double - Honour. Portion - Of honour, that God will give them.
isa 61:8Love judgment - I will do them right, for I love justice in myself, and in them that practise it. Robbery - All things gotten by injustice, though it be for sacrifice. Direct - I will lead them so, that they shall do all things in sincerity. Everlasting covenant - Though you have broken covenant with me, yet I will renew my ancient covenant made with your fathers, confirmed with the blood of Christ, and it shall be everlasting, never to be abrogated.
isa 61:9Shall be - That is, eminently a promise of the increase of the church; such shall be their prosperity, and multiplying, that they shall be known abroad by their great increase; or else, the meaning is, the church shall have a seed of the Gentiles, whereas the church has been confined to one corner of the world, now it shall remain in one nation alone no more, but shall fill all the nations of the earth. Hath blessed - There shall be such visible characters of God's love to them, and of God's grace in them.
isa 61:10I will - This is spoken in the person of the church. Garments, &c. - With salvation as with a garment, and with righteousness as with a robe.
isa 61:11Righteousness - His great work of salvation shall break out and appear. Praise - As the natural product, and fruit of it.