Adam Clarke Commentary
Christ teaches his disciples to pray, Luke 11:1-4. Shows the necessity of importunity in prayer, Luke 11:5-13. Casts out a dumb demon, Luke 11:14. The Jews ascribe this to the power of Beelzebub; our Lord vindicates his conduct, Luke 11:15-23. Miserable state of the Jews, Luke 11:24-26. Who they are that are truly blessed, Luke 11:27, Luke 11:28. He preaches to the people, Luke 11:29-36. A Pharisee invites him to dine with him, who takes offense because he washed not his hands, Luke 11:37, Luke 11:38. Our Lord exposes their hypocrisy, Luke 11:39-44. He denounces woes against the lawyers, Luke 11:45-52. The scribes and Pharisees are greatly offended, and strive to entangle him in his words, Luke 11:53, Luke 11:54.
Teach us to pray - See the nature of prayer, with an ample explanation of the different parts of the Lord's Prayer, treated of in Matthew 6:5-16; (note). The prayer related here by Luke is not precisely the same as that mentioned by Matthew; and indeed it is not likely that it was given at the same time. That in Matthew seems to have been given after the second passover; and this in Luke was given probably after the third passover, between the feasts of tabernacles, and the dedication. It is thus that Bishop Newcome places them in his Greek Harmony of the Gospels.
There are many variations in the MSS. in this prayer; but they seem to have proceeded principally from the desire of rendering this similar to that in Matthew. Attempts of this nature have given birth to multitudes of the various readings in the MSS. of the New Testament. It should be remarked, also, that there is no vestige of the doxology found in Matthew, in any copy of St. Luke's Gospel.
Lead us not into temptation, etc. - Dr. Lightfoot believes that this petition is intended against the visible apparitions of the devil, and his actual obsessions; he thinks that the meaning is too much softened by our translation. Deliver us from evil, is certainly a very inadequate rendering of ῥυσαι ἡμας απο του πονηρου ; literally, Deliver us from the wicked one.
In his journey is come - Or, perhaps more literally, A friend of mine is come to me out of his way, εξ ὁδου, which renders the case more urgent - a friend of mine, benighted, belated, and who has lost his way, is come unto me. This was a strong reason why he should have prompt relief.
My children are with me in bed - Or, I and my children are in bed; this is Bishop Pearce's translation, and seems to some preferable to the common one. See a like form of speech in 1 Corinthians 16:11, and in Ephesians 3:18. However, we may conceive that he had his little children, τα παιδια, in bed with him; and this heightened the difficulty of yielding to his neighbor's request.
But if he persevere knocking. (At si ille perseveraverit pulsans). This sentence is added to the beginning of Luke 11:8, by the Armenian, Vulgate, four copies of the Itala, Ambrose, Augustin, and Bede. On these authorities (as I find it in no Greek MS). I cannot insert it as a part of the original text; but it is necessarily implied; for, as Bishop Pearce justly observes, unless the man in the parable be represented as continuing to solicit his friend, he could not possibly be said to use importunity: once only to ask is not to be importunate.
And (or, therefore) I say unto you, Ask - Be importunate with God, not so much to prevail on him to save you, as to get yourselves brought into a proper disposition to receive that mercy which he is ever disposed to give. He who is not importunate for the salvation of his soul does not feel the need of being saved; and were God to communicate his mercy to such they could not be expected to be grateful for it, as favors are only prized and esteemed in proportion to the sense men have of their necessity and importance. See this subject explained Matthew 7:7, Matthew 7:8; (note).
Offer him a scorpion? - Σκορπιον . The Greek etymologists derive the name from σκορπιζειν τον ιον, scattering the poison. But is there any similitude between a scorpion and an egg, that the one might be given and taken in place of the other? We know there is the utmost similitude between some fish, especially those of the eel kind, and serpents: and that there are stones exactly similar to bread in their appearance; from which we may conjecture that our Lord intended to convey the same idea of similitude between an egg and a scorpion. Perhaps the word scorpion here may be used for any kind of serpent that proceeds from an egg, or the word egg may be understood: the common snake is oviparous; it brings forth a number of eggs, out of which the young ones are hatched. If he asks an egg, will he, for one that might nourish him, give him that of a serpent. But Bochart states, that the body of a scorpion is like to an egg, especially if it be a white scorpion; which sort Nicander, Aelian, Avicenna, and others, maintain to be the first species. Nor do scorpions differ much in size from an egg in Judea, if we may credit what the monks of Messua say, that there are about Jerusalem, and through all Syria, great scorpions, etc. Hieroz. l. iv. cap. xxix. col. 641, edit. 1692. To this it may be said, there may be such a similitude, between a white scorpion and an egg, if the legs and tail of the former be taken away; but how there can be a resemblance any other way, I know not. It is, however, a fact, that the alligator and crocodile come from eggs; two of those lie now before me, scarcely so large as the egg of the goose, longer, but not so thick. Now, suppose reference be made to one such egg, in which the young crocodile is hatched, and is ready to burst from its enclosure, would any father give such an egg to a hungry child? No. If the child asked an egg, he would not, instead of a proper one, give him that of the crocodile or the alligator, in which the young serpent was hatched, and from which it was just ready to be separated.
The Holy Spirit - Or, as several MSS. have it, πνευμα αγαθον, the good spirit. See on Matthew 7:11; (note).
Casting out a devil - See on Matthew 12:22; (note).
Beelzebub - See on Matthew 10:25; (note).
Finger of God - See on Exodus 8:19; (note).
When the unclean spirit - See on Matthew 12:43; (note).
A certain woman - lifted up her voice, and said - It was very natural for a woman, who was probably a mother, to exclaim thus. She thought that the happiness of the woman who was mother to such a son was great indeed; but our blessed Lord shows her that even the holy virgin could not be benefited by her merely being the mother of his human nature, and that they only were happy who carried Christ in their hearts. True happiness is found in hearing the glad tidings of salvation by Christ Jesus, and keeping them in a holy heart, and practising them in an unblamable life.
This is an evil generation - Or, This is a wicked race of men. See on Matthew 12:38-42; (note).
The queen of the south, etc. - Perhaps it would be better to translate, A queen of the south, and the men of this race, shall rise up in judgment, etc. See the note on Luke 11:7. The 32d verse may be read in the same way.
No man, when he hath lighted, etc. - See on Matthew 5:15; (note). Our Lord intimates, that if he worked a miracle among such an obstinate people, who were determined to disbelieve every evidence of his Messiahship, he should act as a man who lighted a candle and then covered it with a bushel, which must prevent the accomplishment of the end for which it was lighted. See also on Mark 4:21; (note), etc.
The light of the body is the eye - Or, the eye is the lamp of the body. See on Matthew 6:22; (note), etc.
The 35th and 36th verses are wanting in some MSS., and are variously read in others.
The whole shall be full of light - Or, altogether enlightened; i.e. when the eye is perfect, it enlightens the whole body. Every object within the reach of the eye is as completely seen as if there was an eye in every part. So the eye is to every part of the body what the lamp is to every part of the house.
When the light of Christ dwells fully in the heart, it extends its influence to every thought, word, and action; and directs its possessor how he is to act in all places and circumstances. It is of the utmost importance to have the soul properly influenced by the wisdom that comes from above. The doctrine that is contrary to the Gospel may say, Ignorance is the mother of devotion; but Christ shows that there can be no devotion without heavenly light. Ignorance is the mother of superstition; but with this the heavenly light has nothing to do.
To dine - Ὁπως αριϚηση . The word αριστειν dignifies the first eating of the day. The Jews made but two meals in the day; their αριστον may be called their breakfast or their dinner, because it was both, and was but a slight meal. Their chief meal was their δειπνον or supper, after the heat of the day was over; and the same was the principal meal among the Greeks and Romans. Josephus, in his Life, says, sect. 54, that the legal hour of the αριστον, on the Sabbath, was the sixth hour, or at twelve o'clock at noon, as we call it. What the hour was on the other days of the week, he does not say; but probably it was much the same. Bishop Pearce.
First washed - See on Mark 7:2-4; (note).
Ye - make clean the outside - See on Matthew 23:25; (note).
Did not he that made that which is without - Did not the maker of the dish form it so, both outwardly and inwardly, as to answer the purpose for which it was made? And can it answer this purpose without being clean in the inside as well as on the outside? God has made you such, both as to your bodies and souls, as he intended should show forth his praise; but can you think that the purpose of God can be accomplished by you while you only attend to external legal purifications, your hearts being full of rapine and wickedness? How unthinking are you to imagine that God can be pleased with this outward purification, when all within is unholy!
Give alms of such things as ye have - Meaning either what was within the dishes spoken of before; or what was within their houses or power: or what they had at hand, for so τα ενοντα is used by the purest Greek writers. Cease from rapine: far from spoiling the poor by wicked exactions, rather give them alms of every thing you possess; and when a part of every thing you have is sincerely consecrated to God for the use of the poor, then all that remains will be clean unto you; you will have the blessing of God in your basket and store, and every thing will be sanctified to you. These verses are very difficult, and are variously translated and interpreted by critics and divines. I have given what I believe to be our Lord's meaning, in the preceding paraphrase. For a description of the rapine, etc., of the Pharisees, see on Matthew 23:25; (note).
Ye tithe mint and rue - See on Matthew 23:23; (note).
Ye love the uppermost seats - Every one of them affected to be a ruler in the synagogues. See on Matthew 23:5; (note).
Ye are as graves which appear not - In Matthew 23:27, our Lord tells them that they exactly resembled white-washed tombs: they had no fairness but on the outside: (see the note there) but here he says they are like hidden tombs, graves which were not distinguished by any outward decorations, and were not elevated above the ground, so that those who walked over them did not consider what corruption was within; so they, under the veil of hypocrisy, covered their iniquities, so that those who had any intercourse or connection with them did not perceive what accomplished knaves they had to do with.
Thou reproachest us - He alone who searches the heart could unmask these hypocrites; and he did it so effectually that their own consciences acknowledged the guilt, and re-echoed their own reproach.
Ye lade men with burdens - By insisting on the observance of the traditions of the elders, to which it appears, by the way, they paid no great attention themselves. See on Matthew 23:4; (note).
Ye build the sepulchres - That is, ye rebuild and beautify them. See on Matthew 23:29; (note).
Truly ye bear witness - Ye acknowledge that those of old who killed the prophets were your fathers, and ye are about to show, by your conduct towards me and my apostles, that ye are not degenerated, that ye are as capable of murdering a prophet now, as they were of old.
The wisdom of God - These seem to be Luke's words, and to mean that Jesus, the wisdom of God, (as he is called, 1 Corinthians 1:24;), added the words which follow here, on that occasion: and this interpretation of the words is agreeable to that of Matthew, who makes Jesus speak in his own person: Wherefore behold, I send you prophets, etc., Matthew 23:34. See the note there, and see Bishop Pearce.
That the blood - That the particle ινα may be translated so that, pointing out the event only, not the design or intention, Bishop Pearce has well shown in his note on this place, where he refers to a like use of the word in Luke 9:45; Luke 14:10; John 10:17; Romans 5:20; Romans 11:11; 1 Corinthians 1:15, 1 Corinthians 1:31, etc.
From the blood of Abel - See this subject explained at large on Matthew 23:34; (note).
Required - Εκζητηθησεται may be translated either by the word visited or revenged, and the latter word evidently conveys the meaning of our Lord. They are here represented as having this blood among them; and it is intimated that God will come by and by to require it, and to inquire how it was shed, and to punish those who shed it.
Ye have taken away the key of knowledge - By your traditions ye have taken away the true method of interpreting the prophecies: ye have given a wrong meaning to those scriptures which speak of the kingdom of the Messiah, and the people are thereby hindered from entering into it. See on Matthew 23:13; (note).
Began to urge him vehemently - Δεινως ενεχειν, They began to be furious. They found themselves completely unmasked in the presence of a vast concourse of people. See Luke 12:1, (for we can not suppose that all this conversation passed while Christ was at meat in the Pharisee's house, as Matthew, Matthew 23:25, shows that these words were spoken on another occasion). They therefore questioned him on a variety of points, and hoped, by the multitude and impertinence of their questions, to puzzle or irritate him, so as to induce him to speak rashly, (for this is the import of the word αποϚοματιζειν ), that they might find some subject of accusation against him. See Wetstein and Kypke.
A Minister of the Gospel of God should, above all men, be continent of his tongue; his enemies, in certain cases, will crowd question upon question, in order so to puzzle and confound him that he may speak unadvisedly with his lips, and thus prejudice the truth he was laboring to promote and defend. The following is a good prayer, which all who are called to defend or proclaim the truths of the Gospel may confidently offer to their God. "Let thy wisdom and light, O Lord, disperse their artifice and my darkness! Cast the bright beams of thy light upon those who have to defend themselves against subtle and deceitful men! Raise and animate their hearts, that they may not be wanting to the cause of truth. Guide their tongue, that they may not be deficient in prudence, nor expose thy truth by any indiscretions or unseasonable transports of zeal. Let meekness, gentleness, and longsuffering influence and direct their hearts; and may they ever feel the full weight of that truth: The wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God!" The following advice of one of the ancients is good: Στηθι ἑδαιος ὡς ακμων τυπτομενος, καλου γαρ αθλητου δερεσθαι και νικᾳν . "Stand thou firm as a beaten anvil: for it is the part of a good soldier to be flayed alive, and yet conquer."
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