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Bible Commentaries

Cambridge Greek Testament for Schools and Colleges
Luke 18

 

 

Verse 1

1. δεῖν πάντοτε προσεύχεσθαι αὐτούς. ‘That they ought always to pray,’ since the true reading adds αὑτούς. It is only here and in Luke 18:9 that the explanation or point of a parable is given before the parable itself. Both parables are peculiar to St Luke. The duty inculcated is rather urgent prayer (as in Luke 11:5-13) than that spirit of unflagging prayer which is elsewhere enforced, Luke 21:36; 1 Thessalonians 5:17; Ephesians 6:18.

“Prayer is the soul’s sincere desire

Uttered, or unexpressed.”

The connexion with the last chapter may be the ἐκδίκησις which will accompany Christ’s return.

καὶ μὴ ἐνκακεῖν. The word used is a late word meaning to give in through cowardice, or give up from faint-heartedness. It is a Pauline word, 2 Corinthians 4:1; 2 Corinthians 4:16; Galatians 6:9.


Verses 1-8

Luke 18:1-8. THE DUTY OF URGENT PRAYER. THE UNJUST JUDGE


Verses 1-31

CHAPS. Luke 9:51 to Luke 18:31

This section forms a great episode in St Luke, which may be called the departure for the final conflict, and is identical with the journey (probably to the Feast of the Dedication, John 10:22) which is partially touched upon in Matthew 18:1 to Matthew 20:16 and Mark 10:1-31. It contains many incidents recorded by this Evangelist alone, and though the recorded identifications of time and place are vague, yet they all point (Luke 9:51, Luke 13:22, Luke 17:11, Luke 10:38) to a slow, solemn, and public progress from Galilee to Jerusalem, of which the events themselves are often grouped by subjective considerations. So little certain is the order of the separate incidents, that one writer (Rev. W. Stewart) has made an ingenious attempt to shew that it is determined by the alphabetic arrangement of the leading Greek verbs (ἀγαπᾶν, Luke 10:25-42; αἰτεῖν, Luke 11:1-5; Luke 11:8-13, &c.). Canon Westcott arranges the order thus: The Rejection of the Jews foreshewn; Preparation, Luke 9:43 to Luke 11:13; Lessons of Warning, Luke 11:14 to Luke 13:9; Lessons of Progress, Luke 13:10 to Luke 14:24; Lessons of Discipleship, Luke 14:25 to Luke 17:10; the Coming End, Luke 17:10 to Luke 18:30.

The order of events after ‘the Galilaean spring’ of our Lord’s ministry on the plain of Gennesareth seems to have been this: After the period of flight among the heathen or in countries which were only semi-Jewish, of which almost the sole recorded incident is the healing of the daughter of the Syrophoenician woman (Matthew 15:21-28) He returned to Peraea and fed the four thousand. He then sailed back to Gennesareth, but left it in deep sorrow on being met by the Pharisees with insolent demands for a sign from heaven. Turning His back once more on Galilee, He again travelled northwards; healed a blind man at Bethsaida Julias; received St Peter’s great confession on the way to Caesarea Philippi; was transfigured; healed the demoniac boy; rebuked the ambition of the disciples by the example of the little child; returned for a brief rest in Capernaum, during which occurred the incident of the Temple Tax; then journeyed to the Feast of Tabernacles, in the course of which journey occurred the incidents so fully narrated by St John (John 7:1 to John 10:21). The events and teachings in this great section of St Luke seem to belong mainly, if not entirely, to the two months between the hasty return of Jesus to Galilee and His arrival in Jerusalem, two months afterwards, at the Feast of Dedication;—a period respecting which St Luke must have had access to special sources of information.

For fuller discussion of the question I must refer to my Life of Christ, II. 89–150.


Verse 2

2. κριτής τις. ‘A certain judge.’ The little story is not improbably taken from life, and doubtless the inferior judges under such a sovereignty as that of the Herods might afford many instances of carelessness and venality.

τὸν θεὸν μὴ φοβούμενος κ.τ.λ. On the μὴ see Luke 13:11. The description of a character perfectly abandoned. He is living in violation of both of the two great commandments; in contradiction to the spirit of both Tables of the Decalogue. His conduct is the reverse of the noble advice of Jehoshaphat to his judges, 2 Chronicles 19:6-7; (2 Corinthians 8:21). ἐντρέπομαι more usually in classical Greek governs a genitive. It is found in Luke 20:13; Matthew 21:37; 2 Thessalonians 3:15.


Verse 3

3. χήρα. See Exodus 22:22; Deuteronomy 10:18; Isaiah 1:17; Isaiah 1:23; Malachi 3:5; 2 Samuel 14:2; 2 Samuel 14:5. The necessity for special justice and kindness to widows rose from the fact that in the East they were of all classes the most defenceless and oppressed. Hence the prominent place which they occupy in the arrangements of the early Church (Acts 6:1; Acts 9:41; 1 Timothy 5:3, &c.).

ἤρχετο πρὸς αὐτόν. ‘She kept coming to him.’ Grotius, ventitabat. The widow woman is a representative alike of the Christian Church and of the Christian soul.

ἐκδίκησόν με. ‘Do me justice.’ The word “avenge” is a little too strong. The technical term ἐκδίκησον implies ‘settle my case (so as to free me) from my adversary.’ The same word is found in Romans 12:19; Revelation 6:10. There is again a curious parallel in Sirach 35:14-17, “He will not despise … the widow when she poureth out her complaint. Do not the tears run down the widow’s cheeks? and is not her cry against him that causeth them to fall?… The prayer of the humble pierceth the clouds, and … he will not depart till the Most High shall behold to judge righteously and execute judgment.”

ἀπό. A constructio praegnans. ‘Avenge (and so deliver) me from. (Comp. Judges 11:36.)


Verse 4

4. εἶπεν ἐν ἑαυτῷ. The shamelessness with which he acknowledges his own sin renders it still more aggravated.

εἰ καὶ τὸν θεὸν κ.τ.λ. The οὐ coalesces with the φοβοῦμαι and is unaffected by εἰ as in Luke 11:8, Luke 16:11-12, &c. “The creed of a powerful atheist.” Bengel.


Verse 5

5. παρέχειν μοι κόπον. ‘Gives me trouble.’

εἰς τέλος ἐρχομένη. Literally, ‘coming to the end,’ ‘coming for ever’—another colloquialism.

ὑπωπιάζῃ με. Vulg[323] ne sugillet me. Beza, ne obtundat me. Literally, ‘should blacken me under the eyes.’ Some have supposed that he is afraid lest the widow should be driven by desperation to make an assault on him; but undoubtedly the word is a colloquialism (πόλεις ὑπωπιασμέναι Ar. Pax, 519) retained in Hellenistic Greek, and found also in St Paul in 1 Corinthians 9:27, where it is rendered, “I keep under my body.” It is like the English colloquialism ‘to brow-beat a person.’ Comp. the Latin obtundo, and the expression “Expenses which pinch parents blue.” Comp. Matthew 15:23.


Verse 6

6. ὁ κριτὴς τῆς ἀδικίας. Literally, ‘the judge of injustice.’ Cp. Luke 16:8.


Verse 7

7. ὁ δὲ θεός. The argument is simply a fortiori. Even an unjust and abandoned judge grants a just petition at last out of base motives when it is often urged, to a defenceless person for whom he cares nothing; how much more shall a just and merciful God hear the cry and avenge the cause of those whom He loves?

τὴν ἐκδίκησιν τῶν ἐκλεκτῶν αὐτοῦ. The best comment is furnished by Revelation 6:9-11. But the ‘avenging’ is rather the ‘vindication,’ i.e. the deliverance from the oppressor.

βοώντων αὐτῷ. ‘Shout.’ It is “strong crying,” comp. James 5:4, ‘the shouts of the reapers of your fields.’

καὶ μακροθυμεῖ ἐπ' αὐτοῖς. ‘And He is longsuffering in their case.’ In the A. V[324] the longsuffering of God is shewn not to His elect (though they too need and receive it, 2 Peter 3:9), but to their enemies. See Sirach 35:17-18—another close parallel, probably an interpolated plagiarism from this Gospel. The elect are far more eager not only for deliverance, but even for vengeance, than God is. They shew too much of the spirit which God reproves in Jonah. But God knows man’s weakness and “therefore is He patient with them and poureth His mercy upon them.” Sirach 18:11. But the best supported reading is καὶ μακροθυμεῖ ἐπ' αὐτοῖς. This would denote that the longsuffering is shewn toward the elect. He is pitiful to them, in the midst of their impatience. Others take the word μακροθυμεῖ to mean ‘delay,’ and understand the previous μή; in the sense of num? ‘Does He delay in their case?’ Meyer takes it to mean ‘And is He slow (to strike) for them?’


Verse 8

8. ποιήσει τὴν ἐκδίκησιν αὐτῶν. Isaiah 63:4; Psalms 9:12, “When He maketh inquisition for blood, He remembereth them, He forgetteth not the cry of the humble.” “Yet a little while,” Hebrews 10:37; 2 Peter 3:8-9. The best comment on the Parable and our Lord’s explanation of it may be found in His own Discourses, John 14, 15.

ἐν τάχει. ‘Speedily,’ in reality (2 Peter 3:8) though not in semblance.

ἆρα εὑρήσει τὴν πίστιν; ‘Shall He find this faith on the earth?’ So St Peter tells of scoffers in the last days who shall say “Where is the promise of His coming?” 2 Peter 3:3-4; and before that day “the love of many shall wax cold,” Matthew 24:12; 2 Thessalonians 2:3. Even the faith of God’s elect will in the last days be sorely tried (Matthew 24:22). Ἆρα is like the Latin num. Comp. Galatians 2:17 ἆρα Χριστὸς ἁμαρτίας διάκονος;


Verse 9

9. τοὺς πεποιθότας ἐφ' ἑαυτοῖς. See Luke 16:15; Philippians 3:4; 2 Corinthians 1:9. The Jewish words ‘Jashar,’ ‘the upright man,’ and ‘Tsaddik,’ ‘just,’ expressed their highest moral ideal; but they made their uprightness and justice consist so much in attention to the ceremonial minutiae of the Levitic Law, and rigid externalism so engrossed their thoughts, that they had lost sight of those loftier and truer ideals of charity which the Prophets had continually set before them. This fetish-worship of the letter, this scrupulosity about trifles, tended only to self-confidence and pride. It had long been denounced in Scripture. “There is a generation that are pure in their own eyes, and yet is not washed from their filthiness,” Proverbs 30:12; “which say, Stand by thyself, come not near to me; for I am holier than thou. These are a smoke in my nose, a fire that burneth all the day,” Isaiah 65:5. This is the sort of ‘faith’ which the Son of Man shall find on the earth,—men’s faith in themselves!

ἐξουθενοῦντας τοὺς λοιπούς. ‘The rest.’ The word ἐξουθενεῖν (a late Aeolic form, one of a group of words common to St Luke and St Paul) means ‘treat as nothing,’ ‘regard as mere cyphers,’ Romans 14:3; Romans 14:10. The Rabbis invented the most highflown designations for each other, such as ‘Light of Israel,’ ‘Uprooter of Mountains,’ ‘The Glory of the Law,’ ‘The Holy,’ &c.; but they described the vast mass of their fellow-countrymen as “accursed” for not knowing the law (John 7:49), and spoke of them as ‘empty cisterns,’ ‘people of the earth,’ &c. See on Luke 5:32, Luke 7:34, &c. This Pharisee regards with perfect self-complacency the assumed ruin and degradation of all the rest of mankind. In one sense the Parable represents the mutual relations of Jew and Gentile.


Verses 9-14

9–14. THE DUTY OF HUMBLE PRAYER. THE PHARISEE AND THE TAX-GATHERER


Verse 10

10. ἀνέβησαν. The Temple stood on Mount Moriah, which was always called the ‘Hill of the House’ (Har ha-Beth).

προσεύξασθαι. The Temple had long become naturally, and most fitly, a “House of Prayer” (Luke 19:46), though this was not its main original function.


Verse 11

11. σταθείς. The word might almost be rendered ‘posing himself.’ Standing was the ordinary Jewish attitude of prayer (1 Kings 8:22; Mark 11:25), but the word (which is not used of the Tax-gatherer) seems to imply that he stood by himself to avoid the contaminating contact of the ‘people of the earth,’ and posed himself in a conspicuous attitude (Luke 19:8; Matthew 6:5; Acts 2:14), as well as “prayed with himself” as the words are perhaps rightly rendered. He was “a separatist in spirit as in name,” Trench. (Pharisee from pharash ‘to separate.’)

πρὸς ἑαυτόν. He prayed, so to speak, to himself. He was the object of his own idolatry.

ὁ θεός. The nom. for the voc., see Luke 8:54, Luke 12:32. ‘O God.’ His prayer is no prayer at all; not even a thanksgiving, only a boast. See the strong denunciation of such insolent self-sufficiency in Revelation 3:17-18.

ὥσπερ οἱ λοιποὶ τῶν ἀνθρώπων. ‘As the rest of mankind.’

ἅρπαγες, ἄδικοι, μοιχοί. Could he, in any real sense, have made out even this claim to be free from glaring crimes? His class at any rate are charged by Christ with being “full of extortion” (Matthew 23:25); and they were unjust, seeing that they “omitted judgment” (id. 23). They are not indeed charged by Jesus with adultery either in the metaphorical or literal sense, but they are spoken of as being prominent members of an adulterous generation, and on several occasions our Lord sternly rebuked their shameful laxity in the matter of divorce (Matthew 19:3-9). And not only does Josephus charge them with this crime also, but their Talmud, with perfect self-complacency, shews how the flagrant immorality of even their most eminent Rabbis found a way to shelter itself, with barefaced and cynical casuistry, under legal forms. See John 8:1-11, and Lightfoot, Hor. Hebr. ad loc.; Life of Christ, II. 152. It appears from the tract Sotah in the Mishnah, that the ordeal of the ‘water of jealousy’ had been abolished by Jochanan Ben Zakkai, the greatest Rabbi of this age, because the crime had grown so common.

ὡς οὗτος ὁ τελώνης. Spoken δεικτικῶς with a gesture as well as an accent of contempt. He thus makes the Publican a foil to his own virtues. “This,” says St Augustine, “is no longer to exult, but to insult.” It implies, as Luther says, “this publican who skins and scrapes everyone, and clutches wherever he can.”


Verse 12

12. νηστεύω δὶς τοῦ σαββάτου. Mark 2:18. This practice had no divine sanction. The Law appointed only a single fast-day in the year, the Day of Atonement (Leviticus 16:29). By the time of Zechariah there seem to have been four yearly fasts (Zechariah 8:19). The bi-weekly fast of the Pharisees was a mere burden imposed by the oral Law. The days chosen were Thursday and Monday, because on those days Moses was believed to have ascended and descended from Sinai, Babha Kama, f. 82, 1. The man boasts of his empty ceremonialism. τοῦ σαββάτου is a partitive genitive.

πάντα ὅσα κτῶμαι. ‘Of al that I acquire.’ The incorrect “possess” of the A.V[325] comes from the Vulg[326] possideo, which would require κέκτημαι. Comp. Luke 21:19, ‘acquire,’ or ‘ye shall acquire’ your souls. The Pharisee speaks as though he were another Jacob! (Genesis 28:22; comp. Tobit 1:7-8). Here too he exceeds the Written Law, which only commanded tithes of corn, wine, oil, and cattle (Deuteronomy 14:22-23), and not of mint, anise, and cummin (Matthew 23:23). The fact that he does not say a word about his sins shews how low was his standard. “He that covereth his sins shall not prosper,” Proverbs 28:13. He was clothed with phylacteries and fringes, not with humility, 1 Peter 5:5. A Talmudic treatise, the Berachôth (Schwab, p. 336), furnishes us with a close analogy to the prayer of the Pharisee in that of Rabbi Nechounia Ben Hakana, who on leaving his school used to say, ‘I thank thee, O Eternal, my God, for having given me part with those who attend this school instead of running through the shops. I rise early like them, but it is to study the Law, not for futile ends. I take trouble as they do, but I shall be rewarded, and they will not; we run alike, but I for the future life, while they will only arrive at the pit of destruction.’


Verse 13

13. μακρόθεν ἑστώς. The word for standing is not σταθεὶς as in the case of the Pharisee, but merely ἑστώς. It is not certain whether the “afar off” means ‘afar off from the Pharisee,’ or (as is more probable) afar off from the Holy Place to which the Pharisee would thrust himself, as of right, into closest proximity.

οὐδὲ τοὺς ὀφθαλμούς. Not even venturing to lift his eyes, much less his hands (1 Timothy 2:8, ἐπαίροντας ὁσίους χεῖρας). Meyer appositely quotes Tacitus (Hist. IV. 72), “Stabant conscientia flagitii moestae fixis in terram oculis.” The Jew usually stood with arms outspread, the palms turned upwards, as though to receive the gifts of heaven, and the eyes raised. “Unto Thee lift I up mine eyes,” Psalms 123:1-2; but on the other hand, “Mine iniquities have taken such hold upon me that I am not able to look up,” Psalms 40:12; “O my God, I am ashamed and blush to lift up my face to Thee, my God: for our iniquities are increased over our head, and our trespass is grown up into the heavens,” Ezra 9:6.

ἔτυπτεν τὸ στῆθος. For this custom of expressing grief, see Luke 23:48; Nahum 2:7; Jeremiah 31:19. “Pectus, conscientiae sedem.” Bengel.

ὁ θεός, ἱλάσθητί μοι τῷ ἁμαρτωλῷ. ‘O God, be merciful to me the sinner.’ Ἱλάσθητι ‘be propitiated’ as in Hebrews 2:17. He speaks of himself as the chief of sinners, 1 Timothy 1:15; or perhaps means humbly to contrast his own unworthiness with the righteousness of the Pharisee.


Verse 14

14. δεδικαιωμένος. Of the Pharisee it might be said, “His soul which is lifted up is not upright in him;” but of the Tax-gatherer, “the just shall live by his faith,” Habakkuk 2:4. But the day had not yet come in which the words “be merciful” (ἱλάσκου), and “justified” (δεδικαιωμένος), possessed the deep full meaning which they were soon to acquire (Hebrews 2:17; Romans 3:20). The phrase was not unknown to the Talmud, which says that while the Temple stood, when every Israelite had offered sacrifice, ‘his sin was pardoned and he departed justified.’ The reading of the Received text ἢ ἐκεῖνος is untenable, though it correctly gives the meaning. (See Winer, p. 302.) The best supported reading is ἢ γὰρ ἐκεῖνος, but it seems to have originated by mistake from παρ' ἐκεῖνον. Abp Trench quotes Crashaw’s striking epigram:

“Two went to pray: or rather say

One went to brag, the other to pray;

One stands up close, and treads on high,

Where th’ other dares not send his eye.

One nearer to the altar trod,

The other to the altar’s God.”

παρ' ἐκεῖνον. Prae illo. The παρὰ follows the implied comparative. Comp. Luke 13:2. See the critical note.

πᾶς ὁ ὑψῶν ἑαυτόν. See Luke 14:11. In this Parable, as in that of the Prodigal son, we have the contrast between unrighteousness and self-righteousness.


Verse 15

15. τὰ βρέφη. ‘Their babes.’ At this point St Luke ends the special information which he derived from the documents about the journey, and rejoins the main stream of the synoptic narrative. It seems to have been a custom of Jewish mothers to carry their babes to eminent Rabbis for their blessing; naturally therefore these mothers would bring their children and babes to Jesus. See Matthew 19:13-15; Mark 10:13.

ἵναἅπτηται. See on Luke 6:7. In Hellenistic Greek the subj. came to be normally used where the Attic would use the opt.


Verses 15-17

15–17. JESUS AND THE CHILDREN. A LESSON OF HUMILITY


Verse 16

16. προσεκαλέσατο. St Mark adds that Jesus was much displeased with the officious interference of the disciples who so little understood His tenderness.

τῶν γὰρ τοιούτων. Because children are meek, humble, trustful, guileless, unsophisticated, pure. It was a lesson which Jesus often taught, Matthew 5:3; Matthew 11:25; Matthew 17:10; Matthew 17:14; 1 Corinthians 14:20; 1 Peter 2:1-2.

ὡς παιδίον. See Matthew 11:25. Hence the Psalmist says, “My soul is even as a weaned child,” Psalms 131:2. Tradition (erroneously) supposed that St Ignatius was one of these children.


Verse 18

18. ἄρχων. St Matthew (Matthew 19:20) only calls him “a young man.” He was probably the young and wealthy ruler of a synagogue. The touch added by St Mark (Mark 10:17), that he suddenly ran up and fell on his knees before Him, seems to imply that he was eager to catch the opportunity of speaking to Jesus before He started on a journey, probably the journey from the Peraean Bethany, beyond Jordan (John 10:41-42), to the Bethany near Jerusalem, to raise Lazarus.

διδάσκαλε ἀγαθέ. This title was an impropriety, almost an impertinence; for the title “good” was never addressed to Rabbis by their pupils. Therefore to address Jesus thus was to assume a tone almost of patronage. Moreover, as the young ruler did not look on Jesus as divine, it was to assume a false standpoint altogether.

τί ποιήσας …; In St Matthew the question runs, “what good thing shall I do?” Here, again, the young ruler betrays a false standpoint, as though “eternal life” were to be won by quantitative works, or by some single act of goodness,—by doing and not by being. It was indeed the fundamental error of his whole class. Romans 9:32.


Verses 18-30

18–30. THE GREAT REFUSAL. THE YOUNG RULER WHO LOVED RICHES MORE THAN CHRIST


Verse 19

19. τί με λέγεις ἀγαθόν; According to St Matthew the question also ran, ‘Why askest thou me about the good?’ The emphasis is not on the me (for the form used is the enclitic με not ἐμὲ) but on good. Why do you give me this strange title which from your point of view is unwarrantable? Comp. Plato Phaed. 27, “to be a good man is impossible … God alone could have this honour.”

εἰ μὴ εἷς ὁ θεός. 1 John 3:5.


Verse 20

20. St Matthew says that our Lord first answered, “Keep the commandments,” and when the young man asked, ‘What kind of commandments?’ expecting probably some recondite points of casuistry—minute rules (Halachôth) out of the oral Law—our Lord to his surprise mentions the broadest and most obvious commandments of the Decalogue.

μὴ μοιχεύσῃς. Our Lord seems purposely to have mentioned only the plainest commandments of the Second Table, to shew the young man that he had fallen short even of these in their true interpretation; much more of that love to God which is the epitome of the first Table. Thus does Christ ‘send the proud to the Law, and invite the humble to the Gospel.’


Verse 21

21. ταῦτα πάντα ἐφύλαξα. This is a better reading than ἐφυλαξάμην. φυλάσσεσθαι in the sense of sibi custodire legem is common in the LXX[327], but not in classical Greek. There seems to have been an accent of extreme surprise in his reply. ‘You bid me not be a thief, adulterer, murderer! For whom do you take me? I am no criminal. These I kept since I was a child.’ And then he added, “What lack I yet?” (Matthew 19:20).—Here, again, the Gospel is true to the letter in its picture of a Pharisaic Rabbi. Thus the Talmud describes one of the classes of Pharisees as the tell-me-something-more-to-do-and-I-will-do-it Pharisee; and when R. Chaninah was dying he said to the Angel of Death, “Go and fetch me the Book of the Law, and see whether there is anything in it which I have not kept.”


Verse 22

22. ἀκούσας. St Mark says that ‘looking on him, He loved him,’ or rather ‘was pleased with him.’ Some have rendered the words ‘He kissed him,’ since Rabbis in token of approval sometimes kissed a good scholar on the head; this, however, would require not ἠγάπησεν, but ἐφίλησεν. There was something gracious and sincere in the youth’s eagerness, and therefore Jesus gave him that test of something more high and heroical in religion which he seemed to desire, but to which he failed to rise.

ἔτι ἕν σοι λείπει. In Attic poetry λείπω is used in the sense of ‘is lacking’ (ἐλλείπει) as here. This command to sell all and give to the poor was special, not general. The youth had asked for some great thing to do, and Jesus, by thus revealing to him his own self-deception, shews him that in spite of his spiritual pride and profession of magnanimity he is but trying to serve two masters. The disciples had already accepted the test, Luke 12:33, Luke 16:9. To the world in general the command is not to sell all, but “not to trust in uncertain riches, but to be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate,” 1 Timothy 6:17-19.


Verse 23

23. περίλυπος ἐγενήθη. St Matthew says, ‘he went away grieving;’ St Mark adds that ‘his brow grew gloomy and cloudy at the command’ (στυγνάσας ἐπὶ τῷ λόγῳ). And thus at the time he made, through cowardice or meanness of mind, what Dante (Inf. X. 27) calls ‘il gran rifiuto,’ ‘the great refusal,’ and the poet sees his shade among the whirling throng of the useless and the facing-both-ways on the confines of the Inferno. Nothing, however, forbids us to hope that the words of Jesus who “loved him” sank into his soul, and brought him to a humbler and holier frame of mind. But meanwhile he lost for his earthly dross that eternal blessedness of self-sacrifice which Christ had offered him. The day came when Saul of Tarsus was like this youth “touching the righteousness which is in the law blameless;” but he had grace to count all things but loss for Christ. Philippians 3:6-9.

The original narrative or tradition had ἀπῆλθε λυπούμενος· ἦν γὰρ ἔχων κτήματα πολλά (Mark 10:22; Matthew 19:22). St Luke gives the sentence a more classical turn.


Verse 24

24. ἰδὼν δὲ αὐτόν. Several good uncials read merely ‘when Jesus saw him.’ The Gospel to the Hebrews as quoted by Origen on Matthew 19:19 has here a weak and prosaic addition, which shews its complete inferiority.

οἱ τὰ χρήματα ἔχοντες. The striking reading of some MSS. (אB, &c.) in Mark 10:24, is that Christ, seeing the pained astonishment of the disciples, said, “Children! how hard it is to enter into the kingdom of God”—hard for all; above all, hard for the rich. Other MSS. have “for those that trust in riches” (comp. Proverbs 11:28)—but that would be a truism; and indeed, while they trust in riches, it would be not only hard, but impossible. The point that Jesus wished to teach was that riches are always a temptation and a snare. 1 Timothy 6:9-10. Let us not forget that Judas heard these words only a few days or weeks before he sold his Lord. It was almost a proverb among the ancients that “the very rich are not good.” Stobaeus, XCIII. 27.


Verse 25

25. κάμηλον. To soften the apparent harshness of this expression, some have conjectured κάμιλον, ‘a rope;’ and some have explained ‘the needle’s eye’ of the small side gate for passengers (at the side of the large city gates), through which a camel might press its way, if it were first unladen. But (i) the conjecture κάμιλον is wholly without authority. (ii) The name of ‘the needle’s eye’ applied to small gates is probably a modern one which has actually originated from an attempt to soften this verse:—at any rate there is no ancient trace of it. (iii) The Rabbinic parallels are decisive to prove that a camel is meant because the Babylonian Jews using the same proverb substitute ‘an elephant’ for ‘a camel.’ (iv) It is the object of the proverb to express human impossibility. In the human sphere—apart from the special grace of God—it would be certain that those who have riches would be led to trust in them, and so would fail to enter into the kingdom of God, which requires absolute humility, ungrudging liberality, and constant self-denial.


Verse 26

26. καὶ τίς δύναται σωθῆναι; The καὶ at the beginning of the question expresses agitation and surprise. Comp. 2 Corinthians 2:2. Winer, p. 545. Here once more we catch the echo of the sighing despair caused in the minds of the still immature Apostles by some of our Lord’s harder sayings.


Verse 27

27. δυνατὰ παρὰ τῷ θεῷ. See on Luke 1:37. “There is nothing too hard for thee,” Jeremiah 32:17; comp. Job 42:2; Zechariah 8:6.


Verse 28

28. εἶπεν δὲ ὁ Πέτρος. The feeling which dictated his remark is uncertain; perhaps it was a passing touch of self-congratulation; perhaps a plea for pity in the hard task of salvation.

ἀφέντες τὰ ἴδια. ‘Abandoning our own homes,’ alluding to a particular crisis, Luke 5:11.


Verse 29

29. οὐδεὶςὃς ἀφῆκεν. Compare the sacrifice and reward of the sons of Levi, Deuteronomy 33:8-11.

εἵνεκεν τῆς βασιλείας τοῦ θεοῦ. Unless the motive be pure, the sacrifice is unavailing.


Verse 30

30. ἀπολάβῃ. ‘Receive as his due.’ Comp. Luke 6:34, Luke 16:25, Luke 23:41.

πολλαπλασίονα. St Matthew and St Mark say ‘a hundredfold,’ and St Matthew adds that in the Palingenesia—the New Birthday of the World, the Restoration of all things—they shall sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. St Luke naturally omits the more purely Hebraic conceptions. St Mark adds the two striking words, “with persecutions.” Of course, the promise of “the hundred-fold” is neither literal nor quantitative, but qualitative and spiritual.

ἐν τῷ καιρῷ τούτῳ. Not only in this present aeon; but at this very season.

ἐν τῷ αἰῶνι τῷ ἐρχομένῳ. In the Messianic age which is now dawning.

ζωὴν αἰώνιον. John 17:3.


Verse 31

31. παραλαβών. ‘Taking them apart,’ and on the road, as we learn from Matthew 20:17. St Mark, with one of his graphic touches of detail, describes Jesus walking before them, and (as we infer from the expression of the Evangelist) in such awful majesty of sorrow that those nearest Him were filled with deep amazement, and those who were following at a greater distance felt a hush of fear (Mark 10:32). Then it was that He beckoned them to Him, and revealed the crowning circumstances of horror respecting His death.

τελεσθήσεται πάντα τὰ γεγραμμένα διὰ τῶν προφητῶν τῷ υἱῷ τοῦ ἀνθρώπου. ‘All the things that have been written through the prophets for the Son of Man shall be accomplished;’ or, perhaps, shall be accomplished to the Son of Man. D reads περὶ τοῦ υἱοῦ τοῦ ἀνθρώπου, which is a gloss.


Verses 31-34

31–34. JESUS PROPHESIES THAT HE SHOULD BE CRUCIFIED

Between these verses and the last should probably be inserted the journey from the Peraean Bethany to the Judaean Bethany, and the Raising of Lazarus (John 11:1-46). This signal miracle was omitted by the Synoptists for the same reasons as those which led them to a marked reticence about the family of Lazarus (see on Luke 10:38 and my Life of Christ, II. 173). This miracle led to a meeting of the Sanhedrin, at which it was decided—mainly on the authority of Caiaphas—that Jesus must be put to death though not during the ensuing Passover,—with such precautions as were possible. The terrible decision became known. Indeed, it led to attempts to murder Lazarus and seize Jesus, which compelled Him to retire secretly to the obscure village of Ephraim (John 11:54)—probably Et-Taiyibeh, not far from Bethel (Beitin), and about 20 miles from Jerusalem. Here our Lord spent, in undisturbed and unrecorded calm, the last few weeks of His life, occupied in training the Apostles who were to convert the world. Towards the close of the time He would see, from the hill of Ephraim, the crowds of Galilaean pilgrims streaming down the Jordan valley to keep the Passover at Jerusalem; and, secure under their protection till His brief days of destined work were done, He left His place of retreat to join their caravans for His last solemn progress to Jerusalem.


Verse 32

32. τοῖς ἔθνεσιν. This was the third, and by far the clearest and most circumstantial prophecy respecting His death. Hitherto, except for scattered hints which they could not understand (Luke 9:22; Luke 9:45), the Apostles might have supposed that Jesus would be put to death by the Jewish authorities. Now He tells them that He shall be delivered to the Gentiles, which involved the fact that He should be crucified, as indeed now for the first time He plainly told them (Matthew 20:19). It was necessary thus to check all blind material Messianic hopes, the ineradicable prevalence of which was proved immediately afterwards by the ambitious request of Salome and her sons (Mark 10:35-45; Matthew 20:20-28). But while the magnificent promises which they had just heard, and the magnificent miracle which they would immediately witness, together with the shouting multitudes who would soon be attending our Lord, made it necessary thus to extinguish all worldly hopes in their minds, yet to prevent them from being crushed with sorrow, He now adds, without any ambiguity, the prophecy of His resurrection on the third day.


Verse 34

34. οὐδὲν τούτων συνῆκαν, as had been the case before, Luke 9:43-45; and St Mark tells us (Luke 9:32) that “they were afraid to ask Him.” It was only at a later period that the full significance of all these words dawned on them (John 12:16). We must learn, as Pascal says, to love divine truths before we can understand them. The Apostles refused to admit the plain meaning of these clear statements (Matthew 16:22).


Verse 35

35. ἐν τῷ ἐγγίζειν αὐτὸν εἰς Ἱερειχώ. This would be a week before our Lord’s death—on the evening of Thursday, Nisan 7, or the morning of Friday, Nisan 8. St Mark (Mark 10:46) and St Matthew (Matthew 20:29) say that this miracle took place as He was leaving Jericho. With simple and truthful writers like the Evangelists, we may feel sure that some good reason underlies the obvious apparent discrepancy which would however in any case be unimportant. Possibly it may arise from the two Jerichos—the old town on the ancient site, and the new semi-Herodian town which had sprung up at a little distance from it. And, as Chrysostom says, such discrepancies have their own value as a marked proof of the mutual independence of the Evangelists.

τυφλός τις. St Matthew (Matthew 20:30), as in the case of the Gadarene demoniac, mentions two blind men; and in any case a blind man would hardly have been sitting quite alone. The name of Bartimaeus is only preserved by St Mark.


Verses 35-43

35–43. BARTIMAEUS HEALED AT JERICHO


Verse 36

36. τί εἴη τοῦτο. ‘What this might be.’ See Luke 15:26. Ἄν might also have been used in this dependent question; or the indicative as in Acts 21:33, ἐπυνθάνετο τίς ἂν εἴη καὶ τί ἐστι πεποιηκώς.


Verse 38

38. υἱὲ Δαυείδ. The use of this Messianic title implies a strong faith in Bartimaeus.

ἐλέησόν με. “The Kyrie Eleison of the soul which precedes its Hosanna.” Van Oosterzee.


Verse 39

39. ἐπετίμων αὐτῷ. Compare Luke 18:15; Matthew 19:13.


Verse 40

40. ἐγγίσαντος δὲ αὐτοῦ. The narrative of St Mark, which is evidently derived from an immediate eye-witness, describes Bartimaeus as ‘springing to his feet and flinging away his outer robe,’ when he was told that Jesus had called him.


Verse 41

41. θέλεις ποιήσω. See note on Luke 9:54.

κύριε. In St Mark the title given is Rabboni, the highest form of the title Rabbi.


Verse 42

42. ἡ πίστις σου σέσωκέν σε. The brief sentences of the narrative have been beautifully woven by Mr Longfellow into his little poem of Blind Bartimaeus:

“Recall those mighty voices three,

Ἰησοῦ ἐλέησόν με!

Θάρσει, ἔγειραι! Ὕπαγε·

Ἡ πίστις σου σέσωκέ σε!”


Verse 43

43. δοξάζων τὸν θεόν. The time for any reticence respecting miracles was long past. St Luke is specially fond of recording doxologies. See Luke 5:26, Luke 7:16, Luke 13:17, Luke 17:15, Luke 23:47.

αἶνον. A poetical word, which in the N.T. is only found here and in Matthew 21:16, but is more common in the LXX[328]

 


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Bibliography Information
"Commentary on Luke 18:4". "Cambridge Greek Testament for Schools and Colleges". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/cgt/luke-18.html. 1896.

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Friday, December 13th, 2019
the Second Week of Advent
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