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Bible Commentaries
Luke 20

Carroll's Interpretation of the English BibleCarroll's Biblical Interpretation

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Verses 1-40



Harmony, pages 147-154 and Matthew 21:23-22:33; Mark 11:27-12:27; Luke 20:1-40

This section commences on page 147 of the Harmony, near the bottom. Before its special exposition let us consider several introductory thoughts:

First, It is a part of a great day in the life of our Lord. We have already noted one great day’s work in Galilee, and a little later we considered another great day, and this one makes the third. The transactions of this one twenty-four hour day covers everything from page 146 to page 172 of the Harmony. If we reckoned according to the Jewish method of days, from sunset to sunset, we would have to stop at page 168.

To obtain some general idea of the tremendous work of this day we must group its events:

Jesus walked from Bethany to the Temple – two miles.

On the way he gave the lesson concerning the withering of the fig tree.

On arriving at the Temple he began walking about and teaching. Here the Sanhedrin pressed on him this question of authority: "What sort of authority have you for doing these things and from whom did you get it?" Their inquiry looks to the nature of his authority and its author. To that question he makes an elaborate reply. Then commences the series of questions resulting from a conspiracy on the part of his several enemies with a view to ensnare him or tangle him in his talk in one way or another that would make him odious either to the authorities or to some part of the people. The object of the second question is to put him either in opposition to Herod and Rome, and thus make him amenable to the civil authority, or to the people, and thus destroy his popularity. This was a question concerning the tribute money. Then comes a question concerning the resurrection, the answer to which they hoped would array him against either the Sadducees or the Pharisees. This was followed by a question as to the kind of commandment that should be considered greatest. The form of this question resulted from a conference among themselves, and they selected a lawyer to propound it. To all of these questions he gave the most marvelous replies, demonstrating his supreme wisdom and rendering them dumb. Then follows his last public discourse, in which he makes a terrible indictment against the scribes and Pharisees, denounces an awful penalty upon the Jewish nation, but holds out a glorious future hope.

Then follows his lesson on giving suggested by the widow’s contribution to the treasury of the Temple. Then, after he left the Temple and got as far as Mount Olivet going to Bethany, came his great discourse concerning the destruction of Jerusalem and his final advent in response to the questions of his disciples. This great discourse is recorded in Matthew 24-25; Mark 13; Luke 21.

Following this comes a lesson concerning his death nearly at hand. In the meantime a meeting of the Sanhedrin is held concerning the way to put him to death. We have a thrilling account of a feast given in his honor when he arrives at Bethany, at which he is anointed by Mary, and where he delivered a great lesson concerning that anointing. Following this anointing Judas returns to Jerusalem and offers for a price to betray him to the Pharisees. All of these events thus grouped happened in one day. The strain upon both his physical and mental resources must have been very great.

Second, The next introductory thought lies in the obvious fact that here it is Bethany versus Jerusalem, an obscure village against the Holy City. His headquarters are at Bethany and every morning he goes into the city and teaches in the Temple, and every afternoon late he goes back to Bethany. The whole narrative here is very lively.

Third, We cannot fail to see the steps of a triple development. The malice of his enemies ripens rapidly. We see also the development in the clearness of Christ’s exposure of their murderous attempt. We see the rapid development in the spiritual downfall of Judas Iscariot and how it culminated.

Commencing then on page 147 of the Harmony, in the text of Matthew 21:23-22:14, Mark 11:27-12:12, and Luke 20:1-19, let us consider in detail such of the events of this great day, as come within this discussion. We see him walking and teaching in the Temple. One who is familiar with Greek history may recall how Aristotle was accustomed to teach in the same manner, walking about with his disciples under the colonnades of certain buildings; hence the name, "peripatetic philosophy." He may also recall from Greek history the method of Socrates, who taught by asking and answering questions, and the scene of Paul at the marketplace in Athens.

The scribes and Pharisees commenced the catechism with this twofold question: "By what sort of authority do you teach and do these things and who gave it to you?" They were accustomed to give authority to the rabbis before they taught. No man could expect to be heard in teaching who could not show the authority by which he taught. Their questions, however, had already been answered by our Lord, as appears from John 12:44-50. I will quote:

And Jesus cried and said, He that believeth on me, believeth not on me, but on him that sent me. And he that beholdeth me beholdeth him that sent me. I come a light into the world that whosoever believeth on me may not abide in the darkness. And if any man hear my sayings, and keep them not, I judge him not; for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world. He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my sayings, bath one that judgeth him: the word that I spake, the same shall judge him in the last day. For I spake not from myself, but the Father that sent me, he hath given me a commandment, what I should say, and what I should speak. And I know that his commandment is life eternal; the things therefore which I speak, even as the Father hath said unto me, so I speak.

Here very plainly and explicitly he has given a reply to that question as to the sort of authority under which he acted and the author of that authority. He had divine authority for all he said and did. They knew well enough what he had taught concerning his being sent of the Father, and there was no need to propound that question this time, but let us see how he replies now.

He replies by a counter question. This was an acceptable method of rejoinder by both Pharisee and Greek philosophers: "I also will ask you a question; and tell me – the baptism of John, was it from heaven, or from men?" After consideration they replied that they did not know. Their answer was insincere, for in their communing they had said, "If we say that John’s baptism is from heaven, then he will say, Why did not ye believe him when he testified of me and baptized me as the Messiah and pointed to me, saying, Behold the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world!" Hence to answer that the baptism of John was from heaven would be to answer the question that they had just propounded to him. On the other hand, if they had answered that it was from men, then the people would rise up against them, for the people believed that John was a prophet, and here they would be defeated in the object that they had in view, viz., to destroy his popularity with the people. As the object of their questioning was to break his power with the people so that they could arrest him safely, we can readily see the dilemma in which he placed them by his counter question. So they had to stand there dumb before the people. To complete their discomfiture he then goes on to show that John was sent from heaven and that the people who believed in John were wiser than these religious teachers propounding questions to him: "The publicans and the harlots go into the kingdom of God ahead of you. They justified God, being baptized with the baptism of John, and you, when you saw it, repented not yourselves that you might believe." In this way he made it plain that it was not a desire upon their part to know his authority) but their question was one of guile and malice. Nor is he yet through with them upon this question of authority. He continues to press home upon them their own wickedness by a parable. A man had two sons. To the first he said, "Son, go along and work to-day in the vineyard," and he answered and said, "I will not," but afterward he repented and went. He said also to the other son, "Son, go and work in the vineyard," and he replied, "I will, sir," but went not. Having stated this parable he forces them to say which was the obedient son, the one who first said, "I will not" and afterwards obeyed, or the one who said, "I will," and did not obey. Having extorted from them the reply that the first was the obedient son, he then applied his lesson. Here are two classes of people: First, these publicans and harlots refused to obey God at first, going into open wickedness and wrong, then later repented and obeyed God and he accepted them. The other class, consisting of the scribes and Pharisees, are all the time saying, "I will, I will," but their professions are empty; they never obey.

He now drives them like a wolf into a final corner by another parable – the parable of the wicked husbandman. His object is to utterly expose the malice underlying all their opposition to him. They could not misunderstand the application of this parable. It is a perfect arraignment of the Jewish nation and of its leaders. Following the old time Jewish imagery he tells of a vineyard as one of the prophets hath said, "I brought a vine out of Egypt, and planted it and watered it and cultivated it, and what more could I do to my vineyard than I have done?" Now these husbandmen who had charge of that vineyard were refusing to its owner its land dues. The prophets who had been sent unto them were maltreated, their message rejected, some of them were killed, some sawn asunder, some stoned. Then at last the heir comes and they take counsel to kill him in order to make permanent their authority over the vineyard. His purpose is to show that the most inveterate unbelief, hardness of heart, and murderous malice are evinced by these scribes rind Pharisees. From that day until the present the unbelieving Jews have sought to evade the point of our Lord’s great indictment, that they have murdered the Prince of Glory, their own Messiah.

Many years ago, when I was a young pastor, a Jewish rabbi came to Waco and offered to prove from the Gospels themselves that the Jews were not guilty of the death of Christ; that he was punished according to the forms of the Jewish law. And he offered to prove this if any church in the city would offer him their pulpit. I accepted on condition that I be allowed to reply to him, and he would get his people to hear my reply, as I would get my people to hear his discussion. The arrangements were made and when he delivered his address he followed very closely an account of the trial of Jesus Christ given by Mr. Joseph Salvador, a physician and learned Jew, who had published at Paris a work entitled A History of the Institution of Moses and the Jewish People. In this history there is a chapter on the administration of justice. Then follows an application of the principles set forth in that chapter to the most memorable trial in history – that of Jesus Christ. Doubtless this rabbi supposed that nobody in Waco had ever heard of that book. When I began my reply the following night I recited the facts concerning Mr. Salvador’s book and that this rabbi’s speech was merely a series of quotations from that book, and then I gave the reply to Mr. Salvador’s book by a distinguished French lawyer, Mr. Dupin. Mr. Dupin, with the utmost courtesy and respect, grinds to fine powder Mr. Salvador’s argument. I then told the audience that they would find both Mr. Salvador’s argument, which was the same as that to which the audience had listened, and Mr. Dupin’s reply in an appendix to Greenleaf’s Testimony of the Evangelists.

I may refer also to a discussion by Mayor Gaynor of New York, and I mention the most exhaustive discussion by a great lawyer: The Trial of Jesus from a Lawyer’s Standpoint – two volumes, by v. M. Chandler of the New York Bar. While fully agreeing with Mr. Chandler in his broad sympathies with all persecuted Jews, by any country" or religion, I utterly dissent from him on one capital point which is also both a legal and a historical one, my own conviction being that nations as well as individuals are responsible for their actions and the actions of their leaders, and more so in this case than in any other in history. There can be no serious question here. Jesus of Nazareth was pursued to death – murderous death – contrary to the forms of the Jewish law. This is exactly our Lord’s indictment, and in this argument of the wicked husbandman he puts the final point upon this indictment, forces these scribes and Pharisees to answer this question: "When, therefore, the Lord of the vineyard shall come, what will he do unto these husbandmen?" And they are compelled to answer: "He will miserably destroy these miserable men, and will let out the vineyard unto other husbandmen, who shall render him the fruits in their season."

Our Lord seeks to prepare all of his audience for this immense transition, the taking away of the kingdom of God from the Jews and the giving of that kingdom to the Gentiles. He puts the capstone upon his application by a citation from the prophets, "The stone which the builders rejected, the same was made the head of the corner." Isaiah had said, "Behold, I lay for a foundation, a stone, a tried stone, a precious cornerstone." Now our Lord’s charge is that this stone, which God himself had prepared for the foundation, they rejected, and then he announces their doom: "Whoever stumbles on that stone, whoever through unbelief in this life, rejects Christ, shall be broken. But upon whom that stone shall fall, he shall be ground to powder."

He follows up this victory by another parable, the parable of the marriage feast. We have already seen Luke’s account of a similar parable, and yet in some things dissimilar: The parable of the gospel feast. The distinction between the two is very important. A student should put them side by side. The gospel feast is at the beginning, illustrating the preaching of the gospel to the Jews. The marriage feast presents not the beginning, but the culmination. While the Jews counted a betrothal as binding as marriage, yet there was a distinction between the betrothal and the consummation of the marriage. The object of the gospel feast is to betroth Christ. The object of the marriage feast is to show the consummation of that betrothal. Paul says, "I have espoused you as a chaste virgin unto Christ." Everybody is invited under the terms of this gospel feast to be betrothed to Christ, but in this marriage feast the rejection is final, and as a penalty the king himself sends his armies and destroys the murderers and burns their city. Such is the fate of Jerusalem. Already the shadow of the coming armies of Titus on the nation appears. In less than forty years from the time that Jesus speaks this parable, Titus takes Jerusalem, since which time they have had no home, no Temple, and no national government.

This argument clearly shows that on the rejection of the Jews the heralds of the cross are to go to the highways and the hedges. There is one special incident in the parable – a man who outwardly accepts the invitation to the wedding feast, but attends without a wedding garment is cast into the outer darkness. He represents the formal professor of religion; the one who accepts God’s invitation so far as externals are concerned, but who makes no inward preparation. Thus by parable after parable Christ makes an end to his answer to their first question, "By what sort of authority do you teach and who gives it?"

The conspiracy underlying the second question and the motive prompting it is thus expressed by Luke 20:20: "And they watched him, and sent forth spies, who feigned themselves to be righteous, that they might take hold of his speech, so as to deliver him up to the rule and to the authority of the governor." There were two political parties. One was called the Herodians, that is, those who accepted the Roman government and its administration through Herod. The Sadducees belonged to this party. The Pharisees constituted the bulk of the other party. Their object was to free their nation from any semblance of dependence upon Rome. The issue between these parties was very sharp. Everywhere there was alignment for one or the other. One who committed himself to the Herodians deprived himself of favor with what is called the patriotic party led by the Pharisees, and one who openly aligned himself with them secured the enmity of the ruling party. Led by malice they feigned great love for Jesus and respect for his teaching and brought him a question concerning the poll tax or tribute money. With flattering words they thus introduce it: "Master, we know that thou art true, and teachest the way of God in truth, and carest not for any one: for thou regardest not the person of men. Tell us, therefore, What thinkest thou? Is it lawful to give tribute unto Caesar or not?" If he had answered, "Yes," this would have turned the people against him. If he had said, "No," this would have made him obnoxious to the authorities and would have furnished them the ground for preferring a charge of treason. It is a well laid plot. The question was a puzzling one to most of the Jewish people. They were a holy nation enslaved to a heathen nation. Could they as God’s own people pay this poll tax? History tells us that not long after Christ was crucified a rebellion took place on this very subject. A man named Judas in Galilee raised an insurrection, and Barabbas, about whom we will learn later, was not so much a common robber and murderer as he was a representative of this patriotic idea of freeing the nation from the iniquitous government of Rome. Our Lord does not hesitate to make a reply to their question. He passes no judgment on the righteousness of the Roman rule, but he recognizes the fact that they are the rulers of Judea. His mission is not a political one, but a spiritual one. He asks for the tribute money. Holding it in his hand he says, "Whose is this image and superscription?" They answer, "Caesar’s." He replies, "Render, therefore, unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s; and unto God the things that are God’s."

This reply shows that he would not head a political faction; that his kingdom was not of this world; that while he did not justify the Roman government, he recognized the fact that they were the rulers of the nation and he made it the occasion of laying down a principle of worldwide application by his people. Paul repeats it later, "Render tribute to whom tribute is due." Peter repeats it, "Honor the king," not that he expresses a preference for a monarchial form of government over a democratic, but that it is not the object of the Christian religion primarily to teach forms of human government, but to save men; to deal with the spiritual condition of the people. The answer of our Lord to this second question, has, throughout all history, been the guiding principle of his people.

The Sadducees came to the front with a question that has hitherto puzzled their adversaries. They do not believe in the immortality of the soul. They are materialists. They think when a man dies that is the last of him, and, of course, they do not believe in the resurrection of the body. The Pharisees believe in the immortality of the soul and in the resurrection of the body. The Sadducees present what they consider an unanswerable question, citing a supposititious case of a man dying without an heir and under the Mosaic law his brother taking his place as a husband of the widow, and that brother dying without an heir, and so on, until she had been the wife of seven brothers. Then she dies. Now, in the resurrection which one of the seven will be her husband? Of course, they did not believe that there would be any resurrection, but as the Pharisees were accustomed to teach that in the next world there would be marriages, and that earthly relations would be continued, to them the question was a puzzle. The Mohammedans also teach the continuance of sexual relations in the world to come: They hold out as an incentive the luxuries of sexual pleasures of paradise. Of course, it was agreed between the Pharisees and the Sadducees that this question should be propounded to our Lord. If he should answer in favor of the Sadducees that would turn against him all the people who followed the teachings of the Pharisees. If he should answer in favor of the Pharisees then the Sadducees, who were Herodians, fewer in number, but occupying the most of the offices, would have had ground of accusation against Christ. The Sadducees were the party in power. The object of the question was to put him between the upper and the nether millstones. He completely vanquishes both of them by his teaching that in the next world there is no marriage nor giving in marriage. Those who attain the resurrection state are sexless, as are the angels, not that they will be angels. But the present physical conditions of this life will not be continued in the other world. He does not mean that man and wife living long together on earth may not rejoice with each other in heaven, remembering the lessons of time, but that the physical conditions of married life do not continue in the world to come. This answer both breaks the points of the question of the Sadducees and corrects the erroneous doctrine of the Pharisees concerning the conditions of the future life. No Pharisee with the views that he held could have met the difficulties of the question of the Sadducees. Our Lord now turns upon the Sadducees with a most crushing rejoinder. "You deny the resurrection of the body. You err upon two points: You neither know the scriptures nor the power of God." He then proves from the Pentateuch the resurrection of the dead by the words of God to Moses: "I am the God of Abraham, and Isaac, and the God of Jacob." He is not the God of dead people, but of living people. Abraham is dead only as to his body. He lives and is with God. This argument is from the greater to the lesser; if God be the Saviour of the soul of Abraham he will be the Saviour of his body, rescuing it from the grave. Some commentators have been puzzled to see the application of Christ’s answer to the resurrection of the body. But our Lord was wiser than commentators. His one citation destroys both errors of the Sadducees. They held that there is no immortality of the soul. He disproves that. They held that there is no resurrection of the body. He disproves that.


1. What are the three introductory thoughts to this chapter?

2. What is the greatest day’s work in the life of our Lord, and what two other very great days in his life?

3. Give a detailed outline of this great day’s work.

4. What are the parallels between the methods of Christ and Paul in their teaching and the methods of the Grecian philosophers?

5. With what double question did the scribes and Pharisees open the discussion with Christ in the Temple?

6. How had Jesus already answered these questions?

7. How did Christ answer them here and how did this answer place them in a dilemma?

8. Do you know any other people who have been puzzled to account for John’s baptism?

9. How does Christ complete their discomfiture?

10. How does he further press on them their own wickedness in a parable?

11. How does he drive them into a final corner by another parable?

12. Give an account of the controversy which occurred in Waco between a Jewish rabbi and the author.

13. Where may be found the substance of the rabbi’s speech and the reply?

14. What other discussion cited and commended and what one point from the prophets and what application?

15. What great purpose of Christ toward his audience, what citation of dissension?

16. How does he further show their doom in a parable?

17. What other parable similar and what points of contrast and distinction between the two?

18. What historical event clearly foreshadowed by this parable?

19. Who represented by the man that "had not on the wedding garment"?

20. What were the two political parties in the time of Christ, what did each stand for, how did one of these parties try to entangle Christ, and how did Christ in his reply, outwit them?

21. What does this reply show, what principle here enunciated by Christ and how recognized afterward by Paul and Peter?

22. What distinctive tenets of the Sadducees, how did they conspire with the Pharisees to entrap Christ, what dilemma in which they attempted to place him and how did he escape?

23. How does Christ prove the resurrection in this connection and what is the argument?

24. How does this citation disprove the two main tenets of the Sadducees and thus silence them?



Harmony, pages 155-159 and Matthew 22:34-23:39; Mark 12:38-44; Luke 20:41-21:4.

This section commences on page 155 of the Harmony and consists of the last question of Christ’s enemies, differing bitterly among themselves, yet led by a common interest, conspired to test, tempt, and ensnare him by hard questions. He had answered the question concerning his authority, the question concerning paying tribute to Caesar, and the resurrection question. The Pharisees, seeing that he had muzzled the Sadducees, rapidly held a council, selected with great care the form of a final question and a representative to propound it. It will be understood that this representative is a better man than those he represents, but he speaks representatively. And the word "tempt" is used in its usual bad sense. They consulted first as to what question should be propounded. Second, who should propound it. The querist was a lawyer. The word "lawyer" in the Bible does not mean altogether what our word "lawyer" means. A lawyer in the time of Moses and after, and especially in mediaeval ages, was one who was an expert in both civil and canon law, or ecclesiastical law. The first business of a scribe was to copy the text, then expound it. And after a while they became authorities both on text and exposition, and from them originated the meaning of the degree LL. D., the word "laws" being plural, that is, one being skilled in both civil and canon law. In all countries where there is a union of church and state there are two forms of law, one applying to ecclesiastical matters and the other to civil matters. Oftentimes the two blend. A matter can be both civil and ecclesiastical.

It is quite important here to note the precise form of the question they propound. Following the Greek literally this is the question: "What sort of commandment is great?" We usually understand that the question seeks to find a distinction between the various commandments of the moral law, as to relative importance. This seems not to have been their idea. There would not have been a snare in such a question. Let us see if we can find just what was the snare. They themselves continually distinguished between a commandment that was written and a commandment that was oral or traditional. And they were accustomed to put the traditional law above the written law. One of themselves had said, "The commandments of the written law are sometimes weighty, and sometimes little, but the commandments of the scribes are always weighty." So when they put the question in this form, "What sort of commandment is great?" they want to commit him either for or against the oral law. If he decides against the oral or traditional law they hope to make capital out of it before the people, who were very much devoted to the traditional law. Now, from the very beginning there had been a marked difference between them and him on the meaning of law. When he says law he means only the written law. When they say law they mean both the written and the oral law. All through the Sermon on the Mount we see how he magnifies the written law, and throws contempt upon their traditional law. He shows that in their construction of traditional law they oftentimes set aside the written law entirely. We have considered a case already where they set aside the commandment, "Honor thy father and thy mother," by following the traditional law, to the effect that if a man said to himself that the money with which he ought to help the aged, feeble parents was in his mind consecrated to something else, that would exclude him from piety toward his father and mother, that is, relieve him from the burden of taking care of them. All along he has been setting aside their conception of law. Now their hope is that if he takes his old ground, that only written law is great, it would turn away from him the people who believed in the oral law. We have a passage in Mark often quoted in baptismal controversies showing how punctilious they were in their observance of their traditional law, the diligent washing of their hands and, when they returned from the market, the dipping of themselves lest they had contracted ceremonial defilement by touch with unclean people. And even the dipping of their tables and beds, and anything that might by a possibility have become ceremonially defiled. Hence the form of this question: "What sort of commandment is great?" In other words, "Do you say that only the written law is great, or do you agree with us that the traditional law is even greater?" He replies by a quotation from the Pentateuch. The first part of his answer is from Deuteronomy 6:4, the second part from Leviticus 19:18. He says, "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength. This is the great and first commandment. The second like unto it is this, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself." Here he accepts the condensation of all the first table of the law by Moses into one commandment and his condemnation of the second table of the law into another commandment.

Spurgeon, while seeming to misapprehend the precise point of this question propounded to Christ, has a great sermon on the text, "The first and the great commandment." To love God supremely is first in order of position in the Ten Commandments. It is first in order of importance. It is first and greatest because it includes the second. That is to say, unless we love God supremely we can never obey the second commandment to love our neighbor as ourself. Some magnify the first table of the law and disregard the second. They think that if they pray and pay tithes to God, and do not worship images) and keep the sabbath day, it makes little difference how they do toward their neighbors. They may refuse to honor their parents, steal, lie, commit adultery, if only they comply with what they think is the .First Commandment. On the other hand it is the custom of the world to utterly disregard the First Commandment and magnify the Second. Businessmen on the streets conceive of law simply as it relates to our fellow man. They think if we kill nobody, do not wrong our neighbor in any respect, we are all right. Their stress is on morality, but our Lord shows an indissoluble connection between the two commandments: Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart and thy neighbor as thyself. He conceives of no sound morality apart from supreme love of God.

This representative LLD who propounded this question was much interested in our Lord’s answer. It becomes evident that he is a better man than those who loaded him with the question. He expresses hearty approval of Christ’s answer, and our Lord said that he was not far from the kingdom.

As usual, our Lord follows up his victory. He puts a question before the Pharisees are scattered. They still stand grouped where they had consulted to determine what question should be propounded to him. So he propounds a counter question. "What think ye of Christ? Whose son is he?" They readily answered as any Jew would have answered, "The Son of David." Then he puts a question with a barb on it: "If he is only the Son of David, how is it that David, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, calls him Lord, in Psalm 110, to wit: The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand?" The object of his question is to correct their limited conception of the Messiah. They were disposed to look at him as a mere human Jewish king establishing an earthly government and raising the throne of David so as to bear reign over the whole Gentile world. His object is to convince them that the Messiah foretold in their Old Testament was not merely a man, and to prove it by David: "The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand." He wants to bring out the thought which he himself later expressed to John in Revelation: "I am the root as well as the offspring of David." In the divine sense he is the source of David; in the flesh he is the offspring of David. This statement of our Lord is of incalculable value in its bearing on the radical criticism. They do not hesitate to say that David never wrote Psalm 110. Jesus says that he did. He explicitly ascribed that psalm to David. They say the psalms are not inspired. Jesus says that David wrote that psalm in the Spirit. They deny any reference to a coming One in that psalm. Jesus shows that there is a reference to himself, the coming Messiah. It is a little remarkable that this particular psalm is quoted oftener in the New Testament as messianic than any other passage in the Old Testament. Our Lord himself quotes it more than once. Peter quotes it in his great address recorded in Acts 2, and yet again in his first letter. Paul quotes it expressly in his first letter to the Corinthians, and again in the letter to the Ephesians and four times in the letter to the Hebrews, and all of them say that David wrote it; that David wrote it by inspiration; and that David wrote it with reference to the coming Messiah. And so we come to the end of the great catechism. It has been a duel to the death.


We do not mean to intimate that Christ will not hereafter speak to his disciples. We mean that this discourse that we are now to consider ends his public ministry to the Jews. He considers the battle ended. They have rejected him, and now he makes the most serious indictment against the nation and its rulers known in the annals of time. It is the sharpest arraignment and the deepest denunciation to be found in the whole Bible.

This discourse consists, first, of a great indictment; second, the denunciation of a great penalty; third, the suggestion of a great hope. Let us see then what is the indictment.

We have already learned from the preceding discussion that the chief item of the indictment is their rejection of the Messiah and their purpose to murder him. Then follows the other items of the indictment relating particularly to the leaders: First, sitting in the seat of authority, they bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne upon the people, which they themselves will not move with their finger. Second, all their works are done to be seen of men, hence they make broad their phylacteries, enlarge the borders of their garments, love the chief places at feasts and the chief seats in the synagogues, and salutations in the marketplaces – to be called rabbi. Third, they shut up the kingdom of heaven against men, themselves not entering nor suffering those to enter who would enter. Fourth, they compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is become so, he is made twofold more a son of hell than themselves. Fifth, they swear by the lesser things, disregarding the greater, swearing by the gift on the altar as more than the altar which sanctifies the gift, swearing by the gold of the Temple as more than the Temple itself. Sixth, they tithe mint and anise and cummin and ignore the weightier matters of the law – judgment, mercy, and faith – strain out a gnat and swallow a camel. Seventh, they cleanse the outside of the cup and of the platter, but within are full of extortion and excess, as whited sepulchres, outwardly appearing beautiful, while inwardly they are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness, so they outwardly appear righteous unto men, but inwardly are full of hypocrisy and iniquity. Eighth, they are as monument-builders garnishing the tombs of the righteous, as if they thus said, "We would never have been partakers in the blood of the prophets." All the time they are sons in spirit, as well as in flesh, of them that slew the prophets. In this way they fill up the measure of their fathers. And now comes…


"Upon you shall come all the righteous blood shed on the earth, from the blood of Abel, the righteous, unto the blood of Zachariah, son of Barachiah. . . . Your house is left unto you desolate." It has long been a puzzle to the thinker how the blood of Abel should came on the Jewish people, who, in their father Abraham, originated so many years subsequent to Abel. The answer to the puzzle is this: Abel and all subsequent martyrs believed in salvation by a coming Messiah. This doctrine was the hope of the whole world. And when the Jewish nation was established they were made the custodians of this doctrine. To them were committed the oracles of God. If, therefore, when the Messiah comes, to whom Abel and every martyr had looked forward, and the Jews rejected and killed that Messiah, they sin, not only against the Messiah, and not only against themselves, but they sin against the whole world. They sin against the hope of the world. If their attitude toward the Messiah is true, then Abel died in vain. If they alone of all the nations were entrusted with the doctrine of Abel’s saving faith, and they repudiate that doctrine, on them comes the blood of Abel. The penalty denounced is not merely the destruction of the Holy City and the sacred Temple, and the dispersion of the Jewish nation, but it is a desolation – a tribulation that shall last through all the ages until the coming of the Gentiles be fulfilled. Therefore, as we learn later, it is called a trouble such as the world had never known before and would never know again. It is surprising that commentators, in discussing "the great tribulation" set forth in our Lord’s great prophecy, make it a general tribulation bearing upon Gentile nations. It is exclusively a Jewish tribulation, which has already lasted about 1900 years. Nor is the end yet in sight. They were on probation twenty centuries as the bearers of the oracles of God. Their tribulation has already lasted nearly twenty centuries.

The great hope is suggested in this final word of his discourse, "Ye shall not see me henceforth till ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord." (Matthew 23:39). So, that the last word to the Jews, the last public message, touches the second advent of our Lord.

Following this discourse we have an account of Jesus seated over against the treasury and beholding how men put money into the treasury. What a lesson is here! Christ watching the contributions, noting the amount, noting the motive, measuring the relative importance of the contributions, not by the amount, but by the unselfish sacrifice in the donation.

In my young days I preached a sermon to the Waco Association on this text, on the theme, "The Treasury of God’s People, and Christ’s Observation of the Contributions to This Fund." The association called for its publication. The discussion was an epoch in the history of the association. From that time on enlargements in both spirituality and gifts, and broader fields came to Waco Association. Always before God’s people should be this picture of Christ sitting over against the treasury watching how men put money into the treasury. (The author’s sermon to which references are here made will be found in his first book of sermons.)


1. What was the Pharisees’ last effort to entangle Christ by questioning him, how did they proceed and what two points upon which they consulted?

2. What is the meaning and usage of the words "lawyer" and "doctor"?

3. What was the form of the question they propounded to Christ and why important to note its form?

4. What difference between the Pharisees’ use of the word "law," and Christ’s use of it and in what did the trap here set for our Lord consist?

5. What was Christ’s attitude toward their oral law, what example of their setting aside the written commandment cited, and what example of their punctiliousness in the observance of their oral law given?

6. State clearly the question as they propounded it to him and give his answer verbatim.

7. What sermon cited on this passage, what is the substance of it, and what application of this interpretation to our own generation?

8. What evidence here that this lawyer was better than those whom he represented?

9. How does Christ follow up his victory in this instance?

10. What was their answer to his question, what his second question and what the purpose of our Lord in these last questions?

11. What is the value of this statement of Christ in its bearing on radical criticism and what is the fallacy of the position of the radical critics in this case?

12. Of what does our Lord’s last public discourse consist?

13. What items of the indictment?

14. What penalty denounced and its meaning and application?

15. What great hope suggested and its far-reaching meaning?

16. What great lesson of Christ and the treasury?

Bibliographical Information
"Commentary on Luke 20". "Carroll's Interpretation of the English Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/bhc/luke-20.html.
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