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Bible Commentaries

John Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible
Luke 14

 

 

Verses 1-35


The Dropsical Man. The Great Supper. Divers Sayings and Parables

1-6. The sabbath question again. The man with the dropsy healed (peculiar to Lk).

1. To eat bread] So far from being abstemious on the sabbath, the Jews carried the pleasures of the table to excess. 'The Hebrews honour the sabbath chiefly by inviting each other to drinking and intoxication' (Plutarch). 'Rabbah Abba bought flesh of thirteen butchers that he might be sure to taste the best, and paid them at the very gate, that he might hasten dinner, and all this in honour of the sabbath' (Talmud).

2. There was.. before him] Spectators often enter the house to witness an Eastern banquet.

3. Is it lawful to heal?] See on Matthew 12:10.

5. An ass] Nearly all modern editors read 'a son.' The rabbis allowed 'an ox or an ass, a son or a daughter, a man-servant or a maid-servant' to be drawn out of a well on the sabbath. Thus they allowed to themselves breaches of the sabbath day which they denied to Christ.

7-11. On places of honour at feasts (peculiar to Lk, but a similar discourse occurs in the 'Western' text of St. Matthew, Luke 20:28, q.v.). It is probable that the dropsical man was healed before the dinner began, and that there then ensued an unseemly struggle for places, which gave occasion for the 'parable' following.

7. A parable] An elastic word. Here it means a piece of advice, inculcating humility.

Chose.. the chief rooms] RV 'seats,' i.e. places on the couches: see on Mark 12:39. A good illustration of the pride of the rabbis is the conduct of Rabbi Simeon ben Shetah, who when invited to dinner by king Jannæus (104-79 b.c.), placed himself between the king and queen, saying, 'Exalt wisdom and she shall exalt thee, and make thee to sit among princes.' But such conduct was not universally approved, and with the advice which our Lord here gives may be compared the more spiritual teaching of other rabbis. Rabbi Akiba said, 'Yield up thy place, and go down two or three seats, and sit down, until they say to thee, Go up higher. Go not higher of thyself, lest they say to thee, Go down lower, for it is better that they should say to thee, Go higher, than Go lower. Thus the son of Hillel used to say, My humiliation is my exaltation, and my exaltation is my humiliation.'

11. Cp. Matthew 23:12 repeated Luke 18:14.

12-14. On entertaining the poor (peculiar to Lk, whose Gospel is full of sympathy with the poor).

12. Thy friends, etc.] A man is not in the true sense hospitable, who entertains only those who can entertain again. Such interested hospitality is not wrong, but there is no merit in it, and it does not lay up treasure in heaven.

14. At the resurrection of the just] i.e. at the glorious resurrection to life eternal which the righteous only will enjoy, with which is contrasted 'the resurrection of condemnation' which awaits the unrighteous (John 5:29). 'The resurrection of the just' here answers exactly to' the resurrection from the dead,' viz. of righteous persons only (Philippians 3:11 RV), as distinguished from 'the resurrection of the dead,' which includes all mankind (Acts 17:32). Our Lord's words give no real sanction to the Jewish belief in two distinct resurrections, the first of the righteous the second of the unrighteous, traces of which some expositors find in 1 Corinthians 15:23; 1 Thessalonians 4:16, and especially in Revelation 20:5, Revelation 20:6.

15-24. The great supper (peculiar to Lk, although Matthew 22:1-14 presents many points of similarity: see on that passage). Here the 'certain man' is God, the many bidden are the rulers of the Jews, the servant who invites them is Jesus Christ. When the rulers refuse the invitation to the feast (i.e. to enter into Christ's Kingdom), the poor, the maimed, the blind, and the lame (i.e. the despised classes of the Jewish nation) are invited. They joyfully obey, and yet there is room, because the kingdom of Christ is meant to embrace all mankind (Luke 14:22). Then Christ, through His Apostles, goes out into the highways and hedges (i.e. into heathen lands), and compels the Gentiles to come in.

15. Eat bread in the kingdom of God] The mention of the 'resurrection of the just,' with which, according to Jewish ideas, the reign of the Messiah would begin, reminds this Jew of the great feast, which the Messiah would then hold: see on Matthew 8:11.

18. The excuses show careless unconcern, not hardened wickedness. Business occupations, family ties, and various distractions, are pleaded as excuses for not taking God's summons seriously.

23. Compel them to come in] Our Lord does not here (as has often been supposed) sanction religious persecution. 'He said “Compel them,” not commanding force to be used, but indicating that in the case of Gentiles a more urgent and persistent kind of preaching must be used, seeing that they were under the power of demons, and sleeping in the deep darkness of error' (Euthymius).

24. For I say] Here Christ drops the parabolic form and speaks in His own person. 'For I (Christ) say unto you, that none of the Jewish rulers who have rejected My invitation shall taste of My supper, i.e. of the blessedness in store for the saints of God.'

25-35. That we must give up all to follow Christ, and count the cost before we do so. The two parables of the Rash Builder (Luke 14:28-30) and the Rash King (Luke 14:31-33) are peculiar to Lk. The multitude who follow Jesus (Luke 14:25) are inclined to believe that He is the Messiah, and expect great temporal benefits from their discipleship. Jesus warns them that, instead of this, they must expect persecution and even death (Luke 14:27), and that those who cannot make a complete sacrifice of earthly affections (Luke 14:26), and ambition (Luke 14:33), had better turn back while there is yet time.

26, 27. See on Matthew 10:37, Matthew 10:38.

26. Hate] 'This does not imply the feeling of hatred, but a readiness to act as if one hated. The nearest and dearest must be forsaken, and opposed, and offended, if need be, to follow Christ.'

28-33. None of the details of these two parables or similes are significant. The parables simply enforce the one idea that it is folly to undertake a serious business (here, becoming a disciple of Christ), without counting the cost.

33. Forsaketh not all] Only the Apostles (and the Seventy) were required to do this in act, but every disciple is required to do it in will, i.e. to subordinate all earthly interests and claims to Christ's, when the two are incompatible.

34, 35. Salt] i.e. 'discipleship.' In Matthew 5:13; (q.v.) it means the pure and unselfish lives of Christians. 'The salt which has lost its savour' is here the discipleship which refuses to make the sacrifices which Christ demands (Luke 14:26-27, Luke 14:33).

35. The land.. the dunghill] These have no special meaning. The sense is that the discipleship which makes no sacrifices is valueless for any purpose.

 


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Bibliography Information
Dummelow, John. "Commentary on Luke 14:4". "John Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/dcb/luke-14.html. 1909.

Lectionary Calendar
Tuesday, October 22nd, 2019
the Week of Proper 24 / Ordinary 29
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