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Bible Commentaries

Cambridge Greek Testament for Schools and Colleges
Luke 9



Verse 1

1. συνκαλεσάμενος δὲ τοὺς δώδεκα. The word συνκαλ. ‘calling them together,’ not merely προσκαλ. ‘calling them up to Him,’ indicates the special solemnity of the occasion. This was at the close of the missionary journeys alluded to in Matthew 9:35; Mark 6:6. St Matthew gives a touching reason for the mission of the Twelve. They were sent because Jesus pitied the multitude, who were like harassed and panting sheep without a shepherd, and like a harvest left unreaped for want of labourers (Matthew 9:36-38). The Apostles thus became, as their name implied, ‘emissaries’ (sheloochîm), and this was an important step in their training.

δύναμιν καὶ ἐξουσίαν. Power (δύναμις) is the capacity, and authority (ἐξουσία), the right to act. See Luke 10:19; Revelation 13:7.

ἐπὶ πάντα τὰ δαιμόνια ‘Over all the demons.’

Verses 1-6


Verse 2

2. ἀπέστειλεν αὐτούς. Two and two for their mutual comfort. Mark 6:7.

ἰᾶσθαι τοὺς ἀσθενεῖς. ‘To heal the sick.’ There seems to be no essential difference intended between ἰᾶσθαι and θεραπεύεινto tend,’ which is the reading of some MSS., unless it points to the curious fact mentioned by St Mark that they anointed the sick with oil (Luke 6:13; comp. James 5:14).

Verse 3

3. εἶπεν πρὸς αὐτούς. For a much fuller account of the instructions given to the Twelve, see Matthew 10:5-15. Some of these are recorded by St Luke as given also to the Seventy, Luke 10:1-16.

μήτε ῥάβδον. So אAB &c. The plural may have been frivolously introduced by some copyist who wished to avoid an apparent discrepancy with Mark 6:8, “save a staff only.” St Matthew also says, ‘not even a staff.’ Minute and wholly unimportant as the variation would have been, it may turn on the fact that our Lord told them not specially to procure (μὴ κτήσησθε, Matt.) these things for the journey; or on the fact that speaking in Aramaic He used the phrase כי אם (kee im), which might be explained ‘even if you have a staff it is unnecessary.’ Meanwhile the variations furnish an interesting proof of the independence of the three Synoptists.

πήραν. A ‘wallet,’ a bag of kid’s skin carried over the shoulder to contain a few dates or other common necessaries. 1 Samuel 17:40. (Thomson, Land and Book, p. 355.)

μήτε ἄρτον. Which they usually took with them, Luke 9:13; Matthew 16:7.

μήτε ἀργύριον. Literally, ‘silver.’ St Luke uses the word because it was the common metal for coinage among the Greeks. St Mark uses ‘copper,’ the common Roman coinage.

μήτε ἀνὰ δύο χιτῶνας. ‘Do not carry with you a second tunic or under-garment (ketoneth)’—which indeed is a rare luxury among poor Orientals. (See on Luke 3:11.) If they carried a second tunic at all they could only do so conveniently by putting it on (Mark 6:9). St Mark adds that they were to wear sandals, and St Matthew that they were not to have travelling shoes (ὑποδήματα). The general spirit of the instructions merely is, ‘Go forth in the simplest, humblest manner, with no hindrances to your movements and in perfect faith’; and this, as history shews, has always been the method of the most successful missions. At the same time we must remember that the wants of the Twelve were very small (see on Luke 8:3) and were secured by the open hospitality of the East (Thomson, Land and Book, p. 346). For the distributive use of ἀνὰ see John 2:6, ἀνὰ μετρητὰς δύο; Mark 6:40, ἀνὰ πεντήκοντα. The ἔχειν is a mixture of the indirect with the direct construction, as though the clause had begun with μηδὲν αἴρειν. It would be less natural to explain the infinitive as being here used for an imperative, or as an epexegetic infinitive—‘two coats apiece, to wear.’ See Winer, p. 397.

Verse 4

4. εἰς ἣν ἂν οἰκίαν εἰσέλθητε. After inquiring who were the worthiest people to receive them, Matthew 10:11, comp. infra Luke 10:5-8. This injunction was meant to exclude fastidious and restless changes. St Luke omits the injunction (Matthew 10:5)—which was only temporary (Matthew 28:19)—not to enter into Samaritan villages.

Verse 5

5. καὶ τὸν κονιορτόν. See Acts 13:51; Acts 18:6. The use of κονιορτὸς for κόνις is Hellenistic (LXX[200], Exodus 9:9, &c.). It properly means ‘a dustcloud,’ and occurs only in this phrase, except in Acts 22:23.

ἐπ' αὐτούς. ‘Against them’; stronger than the αὐτοῖς of Mark, for it points to future judgment.

Verse 6

6. διήρχοντο κατά. ‘They went in all directions, from village to village.’ The κατὰ is (like ἀνά) distributive.

εὐαγγελιζόμενοι. In Luke 9:2 we have κηρύσσειν, ‘to herald.’

θεραπεύοντες. In the other Evangelists exorcisms are prominent. Mark 6:13. The special object of the mission of the Twelve is plain from St Matthew. Our Lord had now been preaching for nearly a year in Galilee, and multitudes still thronged to Him. He knew that He would soon be compelled to retire, and He sent the Twelve to give one last opportunity to those who had heard Him.

Verse 7

7. Ἡρώδης. Antipas. See Luke 3:1.

τὰ γινόμενα πάντα. ‘All that was occurring.’ The words “by Him” of the Rec[201] are omitted by אBCDL. There seems to be a special reference to the work of the Twelve which made our Lord’s name more widely known.

ὑπό τινων. To this opinion Herod’s guilty conscience made him sometimes incline, Mark 6:16. His alarm may have been intensified by the strong condemnation of his subjects, who, long afterwards, looked on his defeat by his injured father-in-law Aretas (Hareth) as a punishment for this crime (Jos. Antt. XVIII. 5, §§ 1, 2).

Verses 7-9


Verse 8

8. Ἡλίας. In accordance with the prophecy of Malachi 4:5. The verb ἐφάνη is used instead of ἠγέρθη, because of Elijah’s translation to heaven. The Talmud is full of the expected appearance of Elijah, and of instances in which he shewed himself to eminent Rabbis.

προφήτης τις τῶν ἀρχαίων. ‘Some prophet of those of old.’ Comp. Luke 7:16; Deuteronomy 18:15; Numbers 24:17. The Jews thought that Jeremiah or one of the other great prophets (see Luke 9:19) might rise to herald the Messiah, John 1:21. See 2 Esdras 2:10; 2 Esdras 2:18, “Tell my people … For thy help will I send my servants Isaiah and Jeremiah;” 1 Maccabees 14:41, “Simon should be high priest … until there arose a faithful prophet.” In 2 Maccabees 2:4-8; 2 Maccabees 15:13-16, Jeremiah appears in a vision. It was believed that he would reveal the hiding-place of the Ark, Urim, and Sacred Fire.

Verse 9

9. ἐγώ. The addition of the ἐγὼ shews that it is emphatic, ‘I beheaded John.’

ἐζήτει. Herod did not merely desire (A. V[202]) to see Him, but made attempts to do so. This agrees with Luke 23:8, “he was desirous to see him of a long season.” St Luke may have heard particulars about Herod from Chuzas (Luke 8:3) when he was with St Paul at Caesarea Stratonis, or from Manaen at Antioch (Acts 13:1). The curiosity of Herod about Jesus does not seem to have been aroused before this period. A half-alien tyrant such as Herod was, belonging to a detested house, is often little aware of what is going on among the people; but the mission of the Twelve in all directions, and therefore possibly to Tiberias, produced effects which reached his ears. His wish to see Jesus was not gratified till the day of the crucifixion;—partly because our Lord purposely kept out of his reach, feeling for him a pure contempt (“this fox,” Luke 13:32), and for this among other reasons never so much as entered the polluted and half-heathen streets of Herod’s new town of Tiberias (which partly covered the site of an old cemetery); and partly because, after the news of John’s murder, He seems at once to have withdrawn from all permanent work in Gennesareth. During the mission of the Twelve we infer that He made a journey alone to Jerusalem to the unnamed feast of John 5:1, probably the Feast of Purim. During this visit occurred the healing of the cripple at Bethesda.

Verse 10

10. διηγήσαντο αὐτῷ ὅσα ἐποίησαν. This brief and meagre record, to which nothing is added by the other Evangelists, contrasts so strongly with the joyous exultation of the Seventy over their success, that we are led to infer that the training of the Twelve was as yet imperfect, and their mission less successful than the subsequent one.

ὑπεχώρησεν κατ' ἰδίαν. The reasons—beside the natural need of the Twelve and of our Lord for rest—were [1] the incessant interruptions from the multitude, which left them no leisure even to eat (Mark 6:31), and [2] (as we see from the context) the news of the murder of John the Baptist and Herod’s inquiries about Jesus. Perhaps we may add [3] the desire to keep in retirement the Paschal Feast which He could not now keep at Jerusalem. This event constitutes another new departure in the ministry of Christ.

[εἰς τόπον ἔρημον πόλεως καλουμένης Βηθσαϊδά.] There are here great variations in the MSS. and the best reading is εἰς πόλιν καλουμένην Βηθσαϊδά. The omission may be due to the fact that there was no “desert place” corresponding to this description near the only Bethsaida which was well-known to the copyists, viz. the little fishing suburb of Capernaum on the west of the lake (Bethsaida of Galilee, John 12:21), Mark 6:45. This may also explain the variation of ‘village’ for ‘city.’ It is only in recent times that we have been made familiar with the existence of the other Bethsaida—Bethsaida Julias (Mark 8:22), at the north of the lake, another ‘House of Fish’ which had been recently beautified by Herod Philip (Luke 3:1) and named by him after the beautiful but profligate daughter of Augustus (Jos. Antt. XVIII. 2, § 1; B. J. II. § 1). The ruins of this town still exist at Telui (a corruption of Tel Julias), and close by it is the green, narrow, secluded plain of El Batîhah, which exactly answers to the description of the Evangelists. This important discovery, which explains several serious difficulties of this Gospel, is due to Reland (Palaest. p. 504), and shews us how easily difficulties would be removed if we knew all the facts.

Verses 10-17


Verse 11

11. οἱ δὲ ὄχλοι. The ensuing incident is one of the few narrated by all four Evangelists, Matthew 14:13-33; Mark 6:30-52; John 6:1-21, and is most important from the power displayed, the doctrines symbolized (Christ the bread of life), and the results to which it led (John 6). Combining the narratives, we see that the embarkation of Jesus to sail from Capernaum to the northern Bethsaida had been noticed by the people, and as it is only a sail of six miles they went on foot round the head of the lake to find Him. He had barely time to retire with His disciples to one of the hills when a crowd assembled on the little plain. This crowd was momentarily swelled by the throngs of pilgrims who paused to see the Great Prophet on their way to the approaching Passover at Jerusalem (John 6:5), which Jesus Himself could not attend without danger, owing to the outburst caused by the Sabbath healing of the cripple (John 5:1-16). Towards afternoon He came down the hill to the multitude, to teach them and heal their sick.

ἀποδεξάμενος αὐτούς. ‘Kindly receiving them’—weary as He was and much as He yearned for solitude. See note on Luke 8:40.

Verse 12

12. κλίνειν. ‘To decline.’

οἱ δώδεκα. They were afraid that when once the brief twilight was over, the famished multitude might lose their way or come to harm, and some calamity happen which would give a fresh handle against Jesus. John alone tells us that He had compassionately suggested the difficulty to Philip, watching with gentle irony the trial of his faith; and that Philip despairingly said that it would cost more than 200 denarii (as we might say £20, i.e. the day’s wages of 200 people; see on Luke 7:41) to procure them even a minimum of food. Philip was “of Bethsaida,” but this had nothing to do with our Lord’s speaking to him, for he belonged to the western Bethsaida.

ἐπισιτισμόν. ‘A store of provision,’ as in Xen. Anab. VII. 1, § 9. It is a classic word, but an ἅπαξ λεγόμενον in the N.T.

Verse 13

13. πλεῖον ἢ πέντε ἄρτοι καὶ ἰχθύες δύο. The contraction is an anakoluthon, for εἰσίν refers to ἄρτοι, not to πλεῖον ἢ, which must be regarded as a sort of parenthetic addition. Compare Numbers 11:22. It was Andrew who first mentioned this fact in a tentative sort of way. The little boy (παιδάριον) who carried them seems to have been in attendance on the Apostles; evidently this was the food which they had brought for their own supply, and it proves their simplicity of life, for barley loaves (John 6:9) are the food of the poor (2 Kings 4:42; Judges 7:13; Ezekiel 4:9; Ezekiel 13:19).

εἰ μήτι πορευθέντες ἡμεῖς ἀγοράσωμεν. ‘Unless perchance we should ourselves go and procure.’ Εἰ with the subjunctive is very rare and archaic in Attic prose. It simply means ‘if, apart from all conditions.’ See my Brief Greek Syntax, § 201 n. In the N.T. it only occurs in 1 Corinthians 9:11, εἰθερίσωμεν, Luke 14:5, εἰ μὴ διερμηνεύῃ. Here Winer regards it as a sort of deliberative subjunctive not really dependent on εἰ (‘unless—are we to go and buy?’).

Verse 14

14. πεντακισχίλιοι. “Besides women and children,” Matthew 14:21. These would probably not be numerous, and would not (in accordance with Eastern usage) sit down with the men, but would stand apart.

κλισίας ἀνὰ πεντήκοντα. ‘In companies about fifty each.’ The accusative is attributive, in apposition with the meaning of the verb, Winer, p. 286. The vivid details of Mark shew the eyewitness of St Peter. He compares them to parterres of flowers (πρασιαί πρασιαί, ‘by garden beds’) as they sat on the green grass in their bright Oriental robes of red and blue and yellow. St Luke’s word, κλισίας, means literally in dining-parties, from κλισία, ‘a couch.’ It therefore resembles the συμπόσια συμπόσια of St Mark. St Luke passes over the χόρτος πολύς (John), χλωρὸς χ. (Mk.), χόρτοι (Matt.). The details would be more striking to Jews. This systematic arrangement made it easy to tell the number of the multitude.

Verse 16

16. κατέκλασεν καὶ ἐδίδου. The ‘brake’ is in the aorist and the ‘gave’ in the imperfect, and although it is a useless presumption to inquire into the mode of this most remarkable miracle, these two words give us this detail only,—that it took place between the act of breaking and the continuous distribution. But “Falleret momento visum … Est quod non erat; videtur quod non intelligitur” (Hilary). The marvel lay in the Doer, not in the deed. Aug.

Verse 17

17. κλασμάτων. Compare 2 Kings 4:43-44. These were collected by the order of Jesus, who thus strikingly taught that wastefulness even of miraculous plenty is entirely alien to the divine administration.

κόφινοι δώδεκα. Probably wicker-baskets (salsilloth, Jeremiah 6:9). Every Jew carried such a basket about with him to avoid the chance of his food contracting any Levitical pollution in heathen places (Juv. Sat. III. 14, VI. 542). The baskets used at the miracle of the four thousand were large rope-baskets, ‘frails’ (σπυρίδες). The accuracy with which each word is reserved for its own proper miracle by all the narrators is remarkable.

At this point there is a considerable gap in the continuity of St Luke’s narrative. He omits the amazement of the multitude which made it likely that they would seize Jesus to make Him king; His compelling His reluctant disciples to sail back towards the other—the western—Bethsaida; the gradual dismissal of the multitude; His flight (φεύγει, John 6:15, א) to the hill top to escape those who still lingered, and to pray alone; the gathering of the storm; the walking on the sea; the failure of Peter’s faith; the very memorable discourse at Capernaum, intended to teach what was the true bread from heaven, and to dissipate the material expectations of the popular Messianism; the crisis of offence caused by these hard sayings; the dispute with the Pharisees on the question of the Oral Law or Tradition of the Elders; the deepening opposition and the one great day of conflict and rupture with the Pharisees (which St Luke appears to relate out of chronological order in 11); the flight among the heathen as far as Tyre and Sidon; the incident of the Syrophoenician woman; the feeding of the four thousand; the return to Galilee and demand for a sign; the sailing away; the warning against the leaven of the Pharisees; and the healing of a blind man at Bethsaida Julias during His second journey northwards. These must be sought for in Matthew 14:1 to Matthew 16:12; Mark 6:45 to Mark 8:30; John 6. For my view of them, and their sequence, I may perhaps be allowed to refer the reader to my Life of Christ, I. 403–II. 9.

Verse 18

18. κατὰ μόνας. ‘In private,’ as the context shews.

οἱ ὄχλοι. ‘The multitudes’; those whom Jesus had taught and healed and fed, or those who seem to have been always at no great distance. The two other Evangelists place this memorable scene in the neighbourhood of Caesarea Philippi. His life at this epoch had come to resemble a continuous flight. He did not enter Caesarea Philippi. He always avoided towns (with the single exception of Jerusalem), probably from His love for the sights and sounds of nature, and His dislike for the crowded squalor and worldly absorption of town-communities; and He specially avoided these Hellenic and hybrid cities (Jos. Vit. 13), with their idolatrous ornaments and corrupted population. This event may well be regarded as the culminating point in His ministry. He had now won the deliberate faith and conviction of those who had lived in close intercourse with Him, and who, in continuation of His ministry, were to evangelize the world. See Matthew 16:13-21; Mark 8:27-31. The depth and sincerity of the confession was more strongly tested by the fact that it was made, not in the joyous spring of the Galilean ministry, but in the year of persecution which drove our Lord into semi-heathen districts.

εἶναι. “That I, the Son of man, am?” Matthew 16:13.

Verses 18-22


Verse 19

19. Ἰωάννην τὸν βαπτιστήν. See on Luke 9:7-9. The answer of the Apostles shewed the sad truth that Jesus had come to His own possessions and His own people received Him not; that the Light had shined in the darkness, and the darkness had not comprehended it. He had not come to force belief, but to win conviction. He had never even openly proclaimed His Messiahship, but left His works to speak for Him. God’s method is not to ensure faith by violence; as the Fathers say, “Force is alien to God” (βία ἐχθρὸν Θεῷ).

ἄλλοι δέ. Some of the disciples told Jesus that the multitudes took Him for John the Baptist; others of them that they took Him for Elijah, &c.

Verse 20

20. τὸν Χριστὸν τοῦ θεοῦ. ‘The Anointed, the Messiah, of God.’ “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the Living God,” Matthew 16:16. St Mark merely says “the Christ.” “The Lord’s Christ,” Luke 2:26. After the estranging speech at Capernaum our Lord had asked, “Will ye also go away?” and then St Peter’s answer had been ‘we have believed and recognised that thou art the Holy One of God,’ John 6:69 (אBCDL, &c.). Nathanael had recognised Him as “the Son of God” and “the King of Israel.” Later, Martha confessed Him as “the Christ, the Son of God,” John 11:27. But now for the first time the revealed mystery was openly recognised and confessed. St Luke omits the blessing of St Peter, which whatever may be its exact meaning, at any rate can have conferred on him no sort of primacy or superior authority among the Apostles. See Luke 22:24-26; Matthew 18:1; John 21:19-23; Galatians 2:9; Galatians 2:11, &c.

Verse 21

21. μηδενὶ λέγειν. For these perhaps among other reasons:—1. Because His work was not yet finished. 2. Because as yet their faith was very weak and their knowledge very partial. 3. Because they had not yet received the Holy Spirit to give power to their testimony. 4. Because the public proclamation of the truth would have precipitated the workings of God’s foreordained plan (πρόθεσις, Ephesians 1:9; Ephesians 3:11). The Messianic errors and confusions of the day were so numerous that, as Riggenbach says, “Jesus was obliged at once to reveal and to veil Himself, to kindle and to cover the flame.”

Verse 22

22. πολλὰ παθεῖν. It was necessary at once to dissipate the crude Messianic conceptions of earthly splendour and victory in which they had been brought up, and to substitute the truth of a suffering for that of a triumphant Messiah.

ἀπό. ‘At the hand of,’ Luke 17:25; Winer, p. 464. The word ἀποδοκιμασθῆναι implies deliberate examination and rejection. Ἀπὸ in later Greek tends to displace ὑπό.

πρεσβυτέρωνἀρχιερέωνγραμματέων. i.e. by each of the three great sections which formed the Jewish Sanhedrin; by all who up to that time had been looked upon as religious authorities in the nation.

ἀποκτανθῆναι. The Epic aorist ἐκτάθην becomes ἐκτάνθην in late Greek. The mode of death, and the delivery to the Gentiles, were culminating horrors which He mercifully kept back till the last journey to Jerusalem, Matthew 20:19. Hitherto He had only spoken of His death in dim and distant intimations, John 2:19; John 3:14; John 6:51. His revelation of it was progressive, as they were able to bear it. Matthew 9:15; Matthew 10:38; John 3:14; Matthew 16:4; Matthew 16:21; Matthew 17:22; Matthew 20:18; Matthew 26:2.

ἐγερθῆναι. In Luke 9:45 St Luke shews us (as events proved) how entirely they failed to attach any distinct meaning to these words, Mark 9:10.

Verse 23

23. πρὸς πάντας. The word “all” implies the fact mentioned by St Mark (Mark 8:34), that before continuing His discourse He called up to Him the multitudes who were at a little distance. St Luke here omits the presumption and rebuke of St Peter, which is alone sufficient to dispose of the unworthy theory of some German theologians that he writes with an animus against St Peter, or with some desire to disparage his position.

τὸν σταυρόν. A dim intimation of the still unrevealed imminence of His crucifixion, and a continuance of the lesson that to follow Christ meant not earthly gain but entire self-sacrifice, Luke 14:26-27; Acts 14:22.

καθ' ἡμέραν. “For thy sake we are killed all the day long,” Romans 8:36. “I die daily,” 1 Corinthians 15:31. This addition is found only in St Luke.

Verses 23-27


Verse 24

24. ὃς γὰρ ἂν θέλῃ κ.τ.λ. The words imply whosoever shall make it his main will to save his life. See by way of comment the fine fragment (probably) of a very early Christian hymn in 2 Timothy 2:11-12, and observe that ψυχὴ means the natural, animal life of which the main interests are in the earth. This rule of voluntary self-abnegation as the basis of the Christian life is so important that our Lord repeated it several times, Luke 17:33; Matthew 10:39; John 12:25.

Verse 25

25. κερδήσας τὸν κόσμον ὅλον κ.τ.λ. It was by the constant repetition of this verse that Ignatius Loyola won the life-long devotion of St Francis Xavier.

ἑαυτὸν δὲ ἀπολέσας ἢ ζημιωθείς. ‘Destroy himself, and suffer loss.’

Verse 26

26. ἐπαισχυνθήσεται. Compare Luke 12:9; 2 Timothy 1:8; 2 Timothy 1:12; 2 Timothy 2:12. τοὺς ἐμούς (omitting λόγους), ‘my followers,’ is the reading of D, but the parallel passage, Mark 8:35, seems to shew that it is not correct.

Verse 27

27. ἀληθῶς. St Luke more generally has ἐπ' ἀληθείας, but see Luke 12:41, Luke 21:3.

αὐτοῦ. Here. See critical note. It is an adverb formed by a gen. of place like οὗ, ποῦ, &c. See note on Luke 5:19, Luke 19:4.

γεύσωνται θανάτου. In the Arabian poem, Antar, Death is represented as slaying men by handing them a cup of poison. This was a common Eastern metaphor.

τὴν βασιλείαν τοῦ θεοῦ. St Mark (Mark 9:1) adds “coming in power.” St Matthew (Matthew 16:28) says, “till they see the Son of man coming in His Kingdom.” It is clear that the primary reference of these words was to the three Apostles who, within a week of that time, were to witness the Transfiguration. So it seems to be understood in 2 Peter 1:16, and by our Translators, who separate this verse to preface the narrative of the Transfiguration in Mark 9:1. The significance of the “kingdom” was therefore mainly spiritual, and the verse has an important bearing on the prophecies of the Second Advent (see Matthew 24:14-15; Matthew 24:30). It was again fulfilled at the Resurrection and Ascension; and in the person of one disciple—St John—it was fulfilled when he lived to witness the close of the Old Dispensation in the destruction of Jerusalem.

Verse 28

28. ὡσεὶ ἡμέραι ὀκτώ. This is not a case of the schema Pindaricum where a singular verb (ἐγένετο) is attached to a plural substantive. The ὡσεὶ ἡμέραι ὀκτώ is a sort of parenthetic clause without regular connexion. See Matthew 17:1-13; Mark 9:2-13. This is merely the inclusive reckoning which St Luke saw in his written sources, and means exactly the same thing as “after six days” in Mark 9:2. (This explains Matthew 27:63.)

παραλαβών. The solemnity of this special choice is marked in the other Gospels by the additional word ἀναφέρει, “He leads them up” (cf. Luke 24:51). Matthew 26:37.

Πέτρον καὶ Ἰωάννην καὶ Ἰάκωβον. See Luke 6:14, Luke 8:51. The object of this occasion was to fill their souls with a vision which should support their faith amid the horrors which they afterwards witnessed.

εἰς τὸ ὄρος. ‘Into the mountain.’ The others say ‘into a lofty mountain.’ There can be little doubt that Mount Hermon (Jebel esh Sheikh) is intended, in spite of the persistent, but perfectly baseless tradition which points to Tabor. For (i) Mount Hermon is easily within six days’ reach of Caesarea Philippi, and (ii) could alone be called a “lofty mountain” (being 10,000 feet high) or “the mountain,” when the last scene had been at Caesarea. Further, (iii) Tabor at that time in all probability was (Jos. B. J. I. 8, § 7, Vit. 37), as from time immemorial it had been (Joshua 19:12), an inhabited and fortified place, wholly unsuited for a scene so solemn; and (iv) was moreover in Galilee, which is excluded by Mark 9:30. “The mountain” is indeed the meaning of the name “Hermon,” which being already consecrated by Hebrew poetry (Psalms 133:3, and under its old names of Sion and Sirion, or ‘breastplate,’ Deuteronomy 4:48; Deuteronomy 3:9; Song of Solomon 4:8), was well suited for the Transfiguration by its height, seclusion, and snowy splendour.

προσεύξασθαι. The characteristic addition of St Luke. That this awful scene took place at night, and therefore that He ascended the mountain in the evening, is clear from Luke 9:32-33 : comp. Luke 6:12. It is also implied by the allusions to the scene in 2 Peter 1:18-19.

Verses 28-36


Verse 29

29. ἐν τῷ προσεύχεσθαι. The inquiry whether this heavenly brightness came from within, or—as when the face of Moses shone—by reflection from communion with God, seems irreverent and idle; but we may say that the two things are practically one.

τὸ εἶδος τοῦ προσώπου. “His face did shine as the sun,” Matthew 17:2. It is interesting to see how St Luke avoids the word ‘He was metamorphosed’ which is used by the other Synoptists. He was writing for Greeks, in whose mythology that verb was vulgarised by foolish associations.

ἐξαστράπτων. Literally, ‘lightning forth,’ as though from some inward radiance. St Matthew compares the whiteness of His robes to the light (Luke 17:2), St Mark to the snow (Luke 9:3), and St Luke in this word to the lightning. See John 1:14; Psalms 104:2; Habakkuk 3:4.

Verse 30

30. ΄ωϋσῆς καὶ Ἡλίας. The great Lawgiver and the great Prophet, of whom we are told that God buried the one (Deuteronomy 34:6) and the other had passed to heaven in a chariot of fire (2 Kings 2:1; 2 Kings 2:11). The two were the chief representatives of the Old Dispensation. The former had prophesied of Christ (Acts 3:22; Deuteronomy 18:18); of the latter it had been prophesied that he should be His forerunner. “The end of the Law is Christ; Law and Prophecy are from the Word; and things which began from the Word, cease in the Word.” St Ambrose.

Verse 31

31. τὴν ἔξοδον. ‘Departure’—a very unusual word for death, which also occurs in this connexion in 2 Peter 1:15 (comp. exitus). The reading δόξαν, ‘glory,’ though known to St Chrysostom, is only supported by a few cursives. ἔξοδος is, as Bengel says, a very weighty word, involving His passion, cross, death, resurrection, and ascension. The same sense is found in Jos. Antt. IV. 8, § 2. See too Wisdom of Solomon 3:2, “their departure is taken for misery.” Id. Luke 7:6. Comp. εἴσοδος in Acts 13:24.

ἐν Ιερουσαλήμ. The murderers of the Prophets, Luke 13:33.

Verse 32

32. ἦσαν βεβαρημένοι ὕπνῳ· διαγρηγορήσαντες δέ. ‘Had been heavy with sleep; but on fully awaking.’ The word διαγρηγορήσαντες does not here mean ‘having kept awake,’ but (to give the full force of the compound and aorist) suddenly starting into full wakefulness. They started up, wide awake after heavy sleep, in the middle of the vision. For βεβαρημένοι comp. Matthew 26:43.

Verse 33

33. ἐν τῷ διαχωρίζεσθαι αὐτούς. As they ‘were parting.’

Ἐπιστάτα. Matt. Κύριε. Mk. Ῥαββί.

καλόν ἐστιν κ.τ.λ. It is an excellent thing, or ‘it is best’ (cf. Matthew 17:4; Matthew 26:24).

σκηνάς. Like the little wattled booths (succôth), which the Israelites made for themselves at the Feast of Tabernacles. The use of σκήνωμα in 2 Peter 1:13 (Matthew 17:4) is another sign that the mind of the writer was full of this scene.

μὴ εἰδώς. ‘Because he knew not.’ The subjective negative gives the reason for his words. Not knowing that the spectacle on Calvary was to be more transcendent and divine than that of Hermon; not knowing that the old was passing away and all things becoming new; not knowing that Jesus was not to die with Moses and Elijah on either side, but between two thieves.

Verse 34

34. νεφέλη. “A bright cloud,” Matthew 17:5. Possibly the Shekinah, or cloud of glory (see on Luke 1:35), which was the symbol of the Divine Presence (Exodus 33:9; 1 Kings 8:10). If a mere mountain cloud had been intended, there would have been no reason for their fear.

αὐτούς. This reading implies that the Apostles also were overshadowed by the cloud of glory. The less attested ἐκείνους of Rec[203] implies that it only overspread Jesus, and Moses, and Elias.

Verse 35

35. φωνή. 2 Peter 1:17-18. As in two other instances in our Lord’s ministry, Luke 3:22; John 12:28. The other Synoptists add that at this Voice they fell prostrate, and, on Jesus touching them, suddenly raised their eyes and looked all around them, to find no one there but Jesus.

ὁ ἐκλελεγμένος. ‘My chosen Son’ (אBL). Cf. Luke 23:35; Isaiah 42:1.

αὐτοῦ ἀκούετε. The special importance of the words, as a Messianic confirmation, may be seen in Deuteronomy 18:15.

Verse 36

36. ἐσίγησαν. Until after the resurrection, in accordance with the express command of Jesus given them as they were descending the hill. Matthew 17:9. During the descent there also occurred the conversation about Elijah and John the Baptist. (Matthew 17:9-13; Mark 9:9-13.) It is remarkable that the only other allusion to the Transfiguration is in 2 Peter 1:18.

Verse 37

37. τῇ ἑξῆς ἡμέρᾳ. Proving that the Transfiguration took place at night: see on Luke 9:28.

ὄχλος πολύς. St Mark records their “amazement” at seeing Him—perhaps due to some lingering radiance and majesty which clung to Him after the Transfiguration. (Comp. Exodus 34:30.) They had been surrounding a group of the scribes, who were taunting the disciples with their failure to cure the lunatic boy.

Verses 37-48


Verse 38

38. ἀπὸ τοῦ ὄχλου. ‘From the crowd.’

Διδάσκαλε. ‘Teacher’ or ‘Rabbi.’

ἐπιβλέψαι. See critical note. It is 1st aor. infin., not imperat. middle. The middle of the verb does not occur.

μονογενής μοι ἐστίν. See on Luke 8:42.

Verse 39

39. πνεῦμα λαμβάνει αὐτόν. This was the supernatural aspect of his deafness, epilepsy, and madness. St Matthew gives the natural aspect when he says, “he is a lunatic, and sore vexed, &c.” Luke 17:15.

Verse 40

40. οὐκ ἠδυνήθησαν. Jesus afterwards, at their request, told them the reason of this, which was their deficient faith. Matthew 17:19-21.

Verse 41

41. Ὦ γενεὰ ἄπιστος κ.τ.λ. Doubtless the Spirit of Jesus was wrung by the contrast—so immortally portrayed in the great picture of Raphael—between the peace and glory which He had left on the mountain, and this scene of weak faith, abject misery, and bitter opposition—faltering disciples, degraded sufferers, and wrangling scribes. For διεστραμμένη see Acts 20:30; Philippians 2:15.

ἕως πότε ἔσομαι πρὸς ὑμᾶς. “He was hastening to His Father, yet could not go till He had led His disciples to faith. Their slowness troubled Him.” Bengel.

Verse 42

42. ἐπετίμησεν κ.τ.λ. See the fuller details and the memorable cry of the poor father in Mark 9:21-24. The child had been rendered deaf and dumb by his possession; in the last paroxysm he wallowed on the ground foaming, and then lay as dead till Jesus raised him by the hand. Interesting parallels to these strange and horrible paroxysms in a condition which may well be ascribed to demoniac possession may be found in a paper on Demoniacs by Mr Caldwell, Contemp. Rev., Feb. 1876. The boy’s ‘possession’ seems on its natural side to have been the deadliest and intensest form of epileptic lunacy which our Lord had ever healed, and one far beyond the power of the real or pretended Jewish exorcisms. Hence the words of Jesus were peculiarly emphatic, Mark 9:25.

Verse 43

43. τῇ μεγαλειότητι. ‘Majesty.’ 2 Peter 1:16. Vulg[204]magnitudine.’

θαυμαζόντων. The power of the last miracle had rekindled some of their Messianic enthusiasm. Jesus had now reached the northern limits of Palestine, and—apparently through bypaths, and with the utmost secrecy—was retracing His steps, perhaps along the western bank of the Jordan, to Galilee, Matthew 17:22; Mark 9:30.

εἶπεν. The imperfects in Mark 9:31 shew that these warnings of His approaching betrayal, death, and resurrection now formed a constant topic of His teaching.

Verse 44

44. μέλλει παραδίδοσθαι. ‘Is about to be delivered’ (i.e. very soon).

Verse 45

45. ἠγνόουν. This permanent ignorance and incapacity, so humbly avowed, should be contrasted with the boldness and fulness of their subsequent knowledge. It furnishes one of the strongest proofs of the change wrought in them by the Resurrection and the Descent of the Holy Spirit.

παρακεκαλυμμένον. ‘Veiled over.’ It was not yet for them revealed, i.e. seen with the veil removed. The word is an ἅπαξ λεγόμενον in N. T.

ἵνα μὴ αἴσθωνται αὐτό. Not as in the A. V[205]that they perceived it not,’ but as in the R. V[206]that they should not perceive it.’ The ἵνα represents the divine purpose.

Verse 46

46. διαλογισμός. ‘A dispute.’

τό. The article is inapposition to the whole question. Comp. Mark 9:43.

τίς ἂν εἴη μείζων αὐτῶν. ‘Who of them should be the greatest’ (comp. Luke 9:48) not as Weiss takes it, ‘Who should be greater than they.’ Their jealous ambition had been kindled partly by false Messianic hopes, partly perhaps by the recent distinction bestowed on Peter, James, and John. Observe how little Christ’s words to Peter had been understood to confer on him any special preeminence! This unseemly dispute was again stirred up at the Last Supper, Luke 22:24-26. Godet sees in Matthew 18:15-22 an indication that very bitter feelings had arisen on this occasion.

Verse 47

47. εἰδώς. He asked the subject of their dispute, and when shame kept them silent, He sat down, and calling a little child, made the Twelve stand around while He taught this solemn lesson.

παιδίου. This could not have been the future martyr St Ignatius, as legend says (Niceph. II. 3), probably by an erroneous inference from his name of Christophoros or Theophoros, which was derived from his telling Trajan that he carried God in his heart (see Ep. ad Smyrn. III. which is of very doubtful genuineness, and Eus. H. E. III. 38).

Verse 48

48. ὁ γὰρ μικρότερος ἐν πᾶσιν ὑμῖν ὑπάρχων. ‘He whose position is least among you all.’ Comp. Matthew 23:11-12. He perhaps added the memorable words about offending His little ones. Matthew 18:6-10; Luke 17:2.

οὗτός ἐστιν μέγας. ‘He (emphatic) is great’ (אABCLX), not ‘shall be’ but is.

Verse 49

49. ἀποκριθεὶς δὲ ὁ Ἰωάννης εἶπεν. Mark 9:38-41. This sudden question seems to have been suggested by the words ‘in my name,’ which Jesus had just used.

ἐπὶ τῷ ὀνόματί σου ἐκβάλλοντα δαιμόνια. It was common among the Jews to attempt exorcism by many different methods; see on Luke 4:35; Luke 4:41; Luke 8:32. This unknown person—like the sons of Sceva in Acts 19:13-14, but evidently in a more faithful spirit—had found that the name of Jesus was more powerful. Specimens of Jewish exorcisms are given in the Jewish Book of Jubilees, and in Shabbath, 67; Pesachim, f. 112 a, b; see too Tobit 6:16-17; Jos. B. J. VII. 6, § 3.

ἐκωλύσαμεν αὐτόν. The other reading ἐκωλύομεν might mean ‘we tried to prevent him.’ Compare the jealous zeal of Joshua against Eldad and Medad, and the truly noble answer of Moses, Numbers 11:27-29.

ὅτι οὐκ ἀκολουθεῖ μεθ' ἡμῶν. This touch of intolerant zeal is quite in accordance with the natural disposition which shews itself in the incident of Luke 9:54; and with the legend that St John rushed out of a bath in which he saw the heretic Cerinthus. It was this burning temperament that made him a “Son of Thunder.” The μετὰ is redundant, but like σὺν is often used even in classic writers with verbs of following, just as in Latin we find comitari cum in inscriptions. Every synthetic language tends to become analytic, as the delicacy of its inflexions is obliterated by use. Ἀκολουθεῖν ὀπίσω is a Hebraism. Matthew 10:38.

Verse 49-50


Verse 50

50. μὴ κωλύετε. The present-imperfect tense, ‘Do not be for hindering him.’

ὃς γὰρ οὐκ ἔστιν καθ' ὑμῶν, ὑπὲρ ὑμῶν ἐστίν. Cf. Philippians 1:18. The complementary but not contradictory truth to this is, “He who is not with me is against me,” Matthew 12:30. Both are true in different circumstances. Neutrality is sometimes as deadly as opposition (Judges 5:23); it is sometimes as effectual as aid (Sueton. Jul. Caes. 75). See Vinet, La tolérance et l’intolérance de l’Evangile (Discours, p. 268). Renan calls these “two irreconcilable rules of proselytism, and a contradiction evoked by a passionate struggle.” Guizot expresses his astonishment at so frivolous a criticism, and calls them two contrasted facts which everyone must have noticed in the course of an active life. “Les deux assertions, loin de se contredire, peuvent être également vraies, et Jésus-Christ en les exprimant a parlé en observateur sagace, non en moraliste qui donne les préceptes.” Méditations, p. 229.

It is a great pity that the chapter does not end at this verse; since it closes another great section in our Lord’s ministry—the epoch of opposition and flight. A new phase of the ministry begins at Luke 9:51.

Verse 51

51. (ἐγένετο δὲ) ἐν τῷ συμπληροῦσθαι τὰς ἡμέρας τῆς ἀναλήμψεως αὐτοῦ. ‘When the days of His Assumption were drawing near’ (literally, were being fulfilled). It is not (as Meyer takes it) ‘were completed,’ which would be πλησθῆναι as in Luke 2:21. Comp. Acts 2:1. Wyclif, “Whilst the days were accomplishing.” St Luke thus clearly marks the arrival of a final stage of our Lord’s ministry. “His passion, cross, death, and grave were coming on, but through them all Jesus looked to the goal, and the style of the Evangelist imitates His feelings,” Bengel. The word ἀνάληψις means the Ascension (in Eccl. Latin, Assumptio). So ἀνελήφθη of Elijah and of our Lord, 2 Kings 2:11; Mark 16:19; Acts 1:2; Acts 1:11, &c.; 1 Timothy 3:16. The subst. is in the N. T. an ἅπαξ λεγόμενον in this sense, but is found in Testam. XII. Patr. The peculiarity of the expressions seems to point to the solemnity of the crisis, comp. Mark 10:32.

καὶ αὐτός. ‘He Himself also.’

τὸ πρόσωπον αὐτοῦ ἐστήρισεν. Jeremiah 21:10; 2 Kings 12:17 (LXX[207]), and especially Isaiah 1:7. The phrase shews that St Luke is using an Aramaic document (Exodus 33:14).

Verses 51-56


Verses 51-62

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 52

52. ἀπέστειλεν ἀγγέλους. Some think that they were two of the Seventy disciples; others that they were James and John.

εἰς κώμην Σαμαριτῶν. On the way to Judaea from Galilee He would doubtless avoid Nazareth, and therefore His road probably lay over Mount Tabor, past little Hermon (see Luke 7:11), past Nain, En-dor, and Shunem. The first Samaritan village at which He would arrive would be En Gannîm (Fountain of Gardens), now Jenîn (2 Kings 9:27), a pleasant village at the first pass into the Samaritan hills. The inhabitants are still described as “fanatical, rude, and rebellious” (Thomson, Land and Book, II. XXX.). The Samaritans are not mentioned in St Mark, and only once in St Matthew (Matthew 10:5).

ὥστε ἑτοιμάσαι αὐτῷ. The ὥστε is one of the many analytic expressions (being here intended to help out the force of the infinitive) which mark the decadence of language. ὥστε gradually acquires some of the final (telic) force which ἵνα loses. As He was now accompanied not only by the Twelve, but by a numerous multitude of followers, His unannounced arrival would have caused embarrassment. But, further than this, He now openly avowed Himself as the Christ.

Verse 53

53. οὐκ ἐδέξαντο αὐτόν. The aorist implies that they at once rejected Him. The Samaritans had shewn themselves heretofore not ill-disposed (John 4:39), and St Luke himself delights to record favourable notices of them (Luke 10:33, Luke 17:18). But (i) there was always a recrudescence of hatred between the Jews and the Samaritans at the recurrence of the annual feasts. (ii) Their national jealousy would not allow them to receive a Messiah whose goal was not Gerizim, but Jerusalem. (iii) They would not sanction the passage of a multitude of Jews through their territory, since the Jews frequently (though not always, Jos. Antt. xx. 6, § 1) chose the other route on the East of the Jordan.

τὸ πρόσωπον αὐτοῦ ἦν πορευόμενον. This again is a strange Hebraic form of expression, taken from the LXX[208], 2 Samuel 17:11.

εἰς Ἱερουσαλήμ. This national hatred between Jews and Samaritans (John 4:9) still continues, and at the present day it is mainly due to the fanaticism of the Jews. In our Lord’s day the Jews called the Samaritans ‘Cuthites’ (2 Kings 17:24), aliens (Luke 17:18), ‘that foolish people that dwell in Sichem’ (Sirach 50:25-26), and other opprobrious names. They accused them of continuous idolatry (2 Kings 17), and charged them with false fire-signals, and with having polluted the Temple by scattering it with dead men’s bones (Jos. Antt. XX. 6, § 1, XVIII. 2, § 2; B. J. II. 12, § 3). No doubt originally their Monotheism was very hybrid, being mixed up with five heathen religions (2 Kings 17:33; 2 Kings 19:37); but they had gradually laid aside idolatry, and it was as much a calumny of the ancient Jews to charge them with the worship of Rachel’s amulets (Genesis 35:4) as for modern Jews to call them ‘worshippers of the pigeon’ (Frankl. Jews in the East, II. 334). But the deadly exacerbation between the two nations, which began after the Exile (Ezra 4:1-10; Nehemiah 4:1-16; Nehemiah 4:6), had gone on increasing by perpetual collision since the building of the Temple on Gerizim by Sanballat and the renegade priest Manasseh (Nehemiah 13:28; Jos. Antt. XI. 7, XII. 5, § 5), which was destroyed by John Hyrcanus B.C. 129.

Verse 54

54. Ἰάκωβος καὶ Ἰωάννης. “What wonder that the Sons of Thunder wished to flash lightning?” St Ambrose. But one of these very disciples afterwards went to Samaria on a message of love (Acts 8:14-25).

θέλεις εἴπωμεν; This is really a deliberative subjunctive, and it is frequently used after words like θέλεις and βούλει. Comp. Luke 6:42, Luke 22:9. Winer, p. 356.

πῦρ καταβῆναι ἀπὸ τοῦ οὐρανοῦ. To avenge their helplessness under this gross and open insult of the Messiah. “Christ wrought miracles in every element except fire. Fire is reserved for the consummation of the age.” Bengel.

[ὡς καὶ Ἠλίας ἐποίησεν.] These words are omitted by אBL. But (i) they are singularly appropriate, since the incident referred to also occurred in Samaria (2 Kings 1:5-14); and (ii) while it would be difficult to account for their insertion, it is quite easy to account for their omission either by an accidental error of the copyists, or on dogmatic grounds, especially from the use made of this passage by the heretic Marcion (Tert. adv. Marc. IV. 23) to disparage the Old Testament. (iii) They are found in very ancient MSS., versions, and Fathers. (iv) The words seem to be absolutely required to defend the crude spirit of vengeance, and might have seemed all the more natural to the still half-trained Apostles because they had so recently seen Moses and Elias speaking with Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration. They needed, as it were, a Scriptural precedent, to conceal from themselves the personal impulse which really actuated them. It is curious to trace the way in which this passage has been tampered with by copyists.

Verse 55

55. [οὐκ οἴδατε οἵου πνεύματός ἐστε ὑμεῖς.] ‘Ye know not of what spirit ye are, Ye.’ This does not mean, ‘Ye know not how unlike your spirit is to that of Elias;’ but ‘your spirit is that of Elias, and is not now commendable.’ Βία ἐχθρὸν θεῷ. The whole of this passage down to “save them” is omitted in אABC, and other manuscripts; but it is impossible to doubt its genuineness, because it breathes a spirit far purer, loftier, and rarer than is ever discernible in ecclesiastical interpolations. It was omitted on the same grounds as the words in the last verse, because it was regarded as ‘dangerous’ to the authority of the O. T. It is quite impossible to believe that the narrative abruptly ended with the unexplained, “He rebuked them.” Ecclesiastical censurers have failed to see that “religionis non est religionem cogere” (Tert. ad Scap. 2), and that, as Bp. Andrewes says, “The times require sometimes one spirit, sometimes another, Elias’ time Elias’ spirit.” The Apostles learnt these truths better when they had received the Holy Ghost (Romans 12:19; James 1:19-20; James 3:16-17; John 3:17; John 12:47). They learnt that the spirit of Jesus was the spirit of the dove; and that there is a difference between Carmel and Hermon, between Sinai and Kurn Hattîn. It is possible that the words may be a question—Know ye not that yours (emphatically placed last) is the spirit of Elijah, not of Christ? Our Lord quoted Psalms 22, 31 on the Cross, and yet prayed for His enemies. Bengel.

Verse 56

56. [ὁ γὰρ υἱὸςσῶσαι.] This clause is omitted by the majority of uncials, and some editors therefore regard it as a repetition of Luke 19:10 or Matthew 18:11. However that may be, we have the same sentiment in John 3:17; John 12:47; 1 Timothy 1:15. The Sons of Thunder were shewing the spirit of the Talmud (which says, “Let not the Samaritans have part in the Resurrection”) rather than that of the Gospel (Luke 10:33, Luke 17:18; Acts 1:8).

ἐπορεύθησαν εἰς ἑτέραν κώμην. They abandoned their original plan and itinerary, and ‘went into a different village.’ The word ἑτέραν (not ἄλλην) perhaps implies that it was a Jewish, not a Samaritan village. Numbers 20:21; Matthew 2:12.

Verse 57

57. πορευομένων αὐτῶν ἐν τῇ ὁδῷ. St Matthew (Matthew 8:19-22) places these incidents before the embarkation for Gergesa. Lange’s conjecture that the three aspirants were Judas Iscariot, Thomas, and Matthew is singularly baseless.

τις. A Scribe (Matthew 8:19). The dignity of his rank was nothing to Him who had chosen among His Twelve a zealot and a publican.

ὅπου ἂν ἀπέρχῃ. There was too little of ‘the modesty of fearful duty’ in the Scribe’s professions.

Verses 57-62


Verse 58

58. εἶπεν αὐτῷ ὁ Ἰησοῦς. “In the man’s flaring enthusiasm He saw the smoke of egotistical self-deceit” (Lange), and therefore He coldly checked a proffered devotion which would not have stood the test.

φωλεούς. A late and not very common word.

κατασκηνώσεις. ‘Habitations, shelters.’ Birds do not live in nests. In this verse more than in any other we see the poverty and homelessness of the latter part of the Lord’s ministry (2 Corinthians 8:9). Perhaps St Luke placed the incident here as appropriate to the rejection of our Lord’s wish to rest for the night at En Gannim. Was this Scribe prepared to follow Jesus for His own sake alone?

Verse 59

59. ἐπίτρεψόν μοι πρῶτον ἀπελθόντι θάψαι τὸν πατέρα μου. An ancient, but groundless tradition (Clem. Alex. Strom. III. 4, § 25), says that this was Philip. This man was already a disciple (Matthew 8:21). The request could hardly mean ‘let me live at home till my father’s death,’ which would be too indefinite an offer; nor can it well mean that his father was lying unburied, for in that case the disciple would hardly have been among the crowd. Perhaps it meant ‘let me go and give a farewell funeral feast, and put everything in order.’ The man was bidden to be Christ’s Nazarite (Numbers 6:6-7).

Verse 60

60. ἄφες τοὺς νεκροὺς θάψαι τοὺς ἑαυτῶν νεκρούς. ‘Leave the dead to,’ &c. Vulg[209] dimitte mortuos sepelire mortuos suos, i.e. let the spiritually dead (Ephesians 2:1; John 5:24-25) bury their physically dead. “Amandus est generator, sed praeponendus est Creator,” Aug. The general lesson is that of Luke 14:26.

διάγγελλε. ‘Publish abroad.’ Vulg[210] annuntia. Here alone in this connexion.

Verse 61

61. πρῶτον δὲ ἐπίτρεψόν μοι ἀποτάξασθαι τοῖς, κ.τ.λ. The incident and the allusion closely resemble the call of Elisha (1 Kings 19:20). But the call of Jesus is more pressing and momentous than that of Elijah. “The East is calling thee, thou art looking to the West,” Aug. Neither Elijah nor Elisha is an adequate example for the duties of the Kingdom of Heaven, of which the least partaker is, in knowledge and in privileges, greater than they.

ἀποτάξασθαι. Vulg[211] renuntiari is used in this sense in Luke 14:33; Acts 18:18; Acts 18:21; 2 Corinthians 2:13; Mark 6:46.

εἰς τὸν οἶκον. ‘Let me go to my house, and there bid farewell.’ This mixture of two constructions is a common form of breviloquentia. See Luke 11:7. The type of this idiom is Φίλιππος εὑρέθη εἰς Ἄζωτον, Acts 8:40. See Winer, p. 516, and my Brief Greek Syntax, § 89.

Verse 62

62. οὐδεὶς ἐπιβαλὼν τὴν χεῖρα αὐτοῦ ἐπ' ἄροτρον. He who would make straight furrows must not look about him (Hesiod, Works and Days, II. 60). The light ploughs of the East, easily overturned, require constant attention.

εὔθετος. ‘Well-adapted.’ By way of comment see Luke 17:32; Psalms 78:9; Hebrews 10:38-39. The general lesson of the section is, Give yourself wholly to your duty, and count the cost, Luke 14:25-33. Christ cannot accept ‘a conditional service.’ Neither hardship, nor bereavement, nor home ties must delay us from following Him. Is it more than a curious accident that the last four incidents illustrate the peculiarities of the four marked human temperaments—the Choleric (51–56); the Sanguine (57, 58); the Melancholic (59, 60); the Phlegmatic (61, 62)?


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"Commentary on Luke 9:4". "Cambridge Greek Testament for Schools and Colleges". 1896.

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the Week of Proper 24 / Ordinary 29
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