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Bible Commentaries
Luke 22

Orchard's Catholic Commentary on Holy ScriptureOrchard's Catholic Commentary

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Verses 1-71

XXII-XXIII The Passion —Like his fellow evangelists Lk attaches primary importance to the story of the Passion; these two chapters account for one ninth part of his Gospel. Here he does not bear such a similarity to Mk as in the preceding part, but shows a clear dependence on some source which is neither Mt nor Mk. His story is composed in order: the plot, the betrayal, the institution of the Eucharist followed by the final discourse, the capture at Gethsemani, the appearance of Jesus before the Sanhedrin, the delivery to Pilate for execution, the crucifixion. There are some changes of order, omissions and additions which distinguish Lk from Mt and Mk. Very notable is the omission of the anointing at Bethany; but that is sufficiently explained by the inclusion of a similar story early in his Gospel and his dislike of repetitions.

XXII 1-23 The Last Supper —(Matthew 26:1-29; Mark 14:1-25; cf.John 13:21-38). 1-6. Much as in Mk, but abbreviated, save for the addition that Judas acts at the instigation of Satan, cf. 4:13 and John 13:2, John 13:27. The ’magistrates’ referred to in 4 are merely st?at???? officers of the temple police and therefore Jews; Lk alone mentions them. 7-14. Lk alone mentions the identity of the two disciples sent to prepare the Pasch. He is in conformity here with Mt and Mk about the day of the paschal supper, apparently against Jn who makes the Jews eat the Pasch after the crucifixion, John 18:28. Orthodox scholars are divided as to whether the Synoptists intend us to understand that Jesus and his disciples ate the Jewish Pasch; according to some Jesus anticipated the Judaean date by one day, following the calendar of the Galilean Jews. See Lagr., S. Marc ( 1911) 330 ff. Beyond doubt according to Lk Jesus celebrates the Jewish Pasch as is evident from 15-18. ’This Pasch’ is clearly the paschal lamb which lies before him as he speaks (cf. 7); the thought of the immolation of the lamb reminds him of his own sacrifice: ’before I suffer’. It is his final celebration of the Pasch with his disciples, the beginning of the new Pasch of the Kingdom of God in the celebration of which he will be always present with them. Thus he does not destroy but fulfils the ancient rite, as he had promised; cf. 16:17 and Matthew 5:17-18.17-18. In the Jewish rite of the paschal supper there were four separate ceremonial draughts of wine, and this was apparently one of them; but Mt and Mk place words similar to 18 after the consecration of the chalice; Matthew 26:29; Mark 14:25. Why the change of order? All three Synoptists here envisage the heavenly feast of the world to come rather than the celebration of Mass.

19-20. The remarkable fact that each synoptist gives a different version of the actual words of consecration furnishes a useful example of the manner in which the evangelists deal with common incidents, which each records after his own manner. It might have been thought that they all would have been scrupulous to observe identical phrasing in such a matter. Lk’s version comes nearest, as might be expected, to that of St Paul; 1 Corinthians 11:24 ff. Note the following changes and additions: in 19 ’giving thanks’, e??a??st?sa? which provides the name Eucharist, instead of Mk’s and Mt’s ’blessing’ e?????sa? (cf.Matthew 15:36; Mark 8:6 with Matthew 14:19; Mark 6:41; Luke 9:16); ’which is given for you’ is added after the consecration of the bread, indicating that our Lord has already offered his body to be immolated like the lamb, and that the sacrifice of himself is now an accomplished fact; ’do this for a commemoration of me’ is added as in 1 Corinthians 11:24. 20. ’This chalice is the new covenant in my blood, shed for you’. DV following Vg says ’shall be shed’ without authority in the Greek, but ’shed’ seems to be parallel with ’given’ in 19, indicating a sacrifice already offered. For ’the new covenant’ see Exodus 24:7-8; Jer: 31:31 ff. 21-23. It is only now that Lk makes that reference to the treason of Judas which precedes the institution of the Eucharist in Mk and Mt, as if they wish to remove the traitor from the scene before the solemn moment; cf.John 13:21-30. But in Lk it looks as if the giving of his body and blood by our Lord is deliberately contrasted with the contrary action of the traitorous disciple; note the force of but yet behold’ in 21. In 22 Lk expresses with more pronounced emphasis than Mt and Mk the divine preordination of events, though 22b insists that the crime of Judas is contrary to the will of God. 768b

24-38 Last Discourse to the Apostles —It begins with a dispute among the followers of Jesus (strangely shocking in such circumstances) which Mk and Mt have given much earlier, Mark 10:41-45; Matthew 20:24-28, after the request of the Sons of Zebedee, where it seems in place. But it is not impossible that such a dispute occurred now, stirred up perhaps by our Lord’s recent reference to the Kingdom of God.

25. ’They that have authority over them [the Gentiles) are called ’beneficent’, e?e???ta?. The final word gives a strong touch of reality to the scene; e?e???t?? was a title assumed by more than one of the ancient rulers, including the Roman Emperors; particularly Ptolemy Euergetes ( 145-117 b.c.) was infamous for his cruel despotism in Egypt.

28-32. Proper to Lk save for 30b which is found in Matthew 19:28. Here Jesus renews his accustomed teaching which re-echoes the note of the Magnificat and the Beatitudes. His disciples, by their faithful adherence to him right up to the end, have shared his lowly condition and the trials of his life, such as the enmity of the Jewish leaders, rejection by the heads of the nation, poverty, etc (cf. 9:57-62). Therefore they shall share his reign, ßas??e?a kingship. To Peter a special promise of sharing the prerogatives of his Master is now given, a promise that appears with all the more significance in that it is joined to a prediction about his fall; the weak one is to serve as the buttress of his brethren, not through his own native power but through that which is bestowed on him by Christ. It is of importance to note the different number (sing. and pl.) in the use of the second personal pronouns of 31-32.

31. ’Satan hath demanded’, recalling Job 1:11-12. The action of ’sifting’ is not here meant as a means of distinguishing the good from the bad, but rather as a violent shaking and disturbance such as is used when wheat is sifted from the chaff. It is the overthrow and ruin of the Apostles that Satan seeks. If our Lord prays specially for Peter, we need not conclude that he is weaker than the others (despite his later fall); it is because more is to depend upon him, as the head, than upon the rest, viz. the solid faith of his brethren. He is to serve as the rock of strength for others in his office as head. Clearly the passage, proper to Lk, supposes what Mt has recorded in 16:17-19, omitted by Lk. The faith of Peter is such as Lk has already described in 5:20; 7:9; 8:25, etc. namely, that Jesus is the Messias, the Son of God; nor was this denied by Peter later in 57-60. 32b. ’And thou, having then [in the future] returned, make firm thy brethren’; for the notion of returning in the biblical sense, i.e. to God, cf. 1:16, 17 (Malachi 4:4); Acts 9:35; Acts 11:21; Acts 14:15, etc. 33-34. All four evangelists record this; Lk agrees with Jn as to its place, but Mk and Mt put it on the way to Gethsemani. 35-38. Proper to Lk. The apparent contradiction of our Lord’s former and later teaching (10:4 ff.; 22:49-51, cf. Matthew 26:52) must be explained in this way: he now wishes to impress upon them that although the principles of his teaching have not altered, nevertheless the times have changed. They are about to enter on a situation of the utmost gravity and danger. Compare the advice concerning the way they are to act in 17:22 ff.; 21:8 ff. When he first sent them out it was with the counsel to depend on the goodwill of their hearers for their needs; now there will be no longer goodwill but hatred for his sake. In fact they will be Ishmaels, like men who have no friends and can obtain even the bare necessities of life only by violence; that is the meaning of’ he that hath not (a sword) let him sell his coat and buy one’, a proverbial expression, not that he recommends such a measure to his disciples (cf. 12:22). This furnishes the meaning of his answer to their simplicity in 38: ’It is enough’. He does not mean that two swords are enough for their protection, but, seeing that they have not understood him, he says with a smile, ’That would be enough for what I meant’. Some think, less probably, that he answers abruptly to change the subject which they have misunderstood: ’Enough of that’. 37. In confirmation of the advice in 36; the quotation is from Is 53 which deals with the Sufffering Servant of Yahweh. Jesus envisages his speedy death: ’the things that have to do with me are coming to their completion’. He has frequently warned his disciples that the servant must not expect to fare better than the master.

39-46 The Agony at Gethsemani —(Matthew 26:30, Matthew 26:36-46; Mark 14:26, Mark 14:32-42). After commencing like Mt and Mk, Lk omits their account of the scandal and flight of the Apostles; he omits also our Lord’s promise of a future meeting in Galilee. In the latter omission he is consistent with his plan of dealing only with the apparitions at Jerusalem. The protestations of fidelity made by Peter and the prediction of his fall have already been mentioned, 33-34; Lk does not return to the subject. He abbreviates as usual, omitting to mention the choice of Peter, James and John, the name of the garden, the threefold repetition of Christ’s prayers and the failure of the Apostles to keep awake. If he passes over Mk’s vivid description of the signs of human weakness in our Lord, Mark 14:33b-35, he emphasizes the agony and its material effects. Characteristically he draws attention to the earnestness of the prayer: ??te??ste??? signifies rather strained effort than prolongation as in DV.

43. The angelic apparition is proper to Lk; he omitted the angelic apparitions found in Mk and Mt at the end of the former temptation in the desert; 4:13; Mark 1:13; Matthew 4:11. Lk alone mentions the agony and sweat of blood, 44. The agony, i.e. contest, striving, mental anguish, was evidently the struggle (or its effect) between the sensitive appetite in our Lord which naturally shrank from suffering and death, and the superior will which voluntarily accepted the divine decree: a struggle which is expressed in the prayer of 42. ’His sweat became like clots of blood fallinge upon the ground’. Lk says ’like clots of blood’, but an actual sweat of blood seems indicated. A similar phenomenon, betraying extremes of pain and mental anguish, is not unknown in the annals of medicine ( Hobart, Medical Language of St Luke, 83). The authenticity of 43-44 is much attacked because of its omission in many MSS. But there is good MS evidence for authenticity (? and D, all uncial and cursive MSS and anc. Lat.), the style is Lucan, and none or the Fathers expressed doubts. The omission, particularly in MSS of the Egyptian family, points to suppression on account of theological scruples. The text was commonly used in the 2nd cent. against the Docetists and in the 4th by those who denied the divinity of Christ.

46. The reproach is addressed to all, not to Peter alone as in Mk and Mt.

47-53 The Arrest of Jesus —Abbreviated account of Mark 14:43-.52; Matthew 26:47-56; cf.John 18:2-11. One or two additions: the protest against the traitorous kiss, 48, which is very characteristic; the disciples’ question about the use of the swords already mentioned, 49; the healing of the man’s ear, 53; the description of the enemy, ’high-priests, temple-police (st?at????) and seniors’, indicating a delegation from the Sanhedrin, 52; the characteristic conclusion in 53b;cf. 22:3, 31, 37; Colossians 1:13. The flight of the Apostles is passed over in silence. 51a. Several opinions: either meaning ’Go no further’ or ’Let them take me’, the latter being the more probable. There is a further suggestion that our Lord is asking the bystanders to give way so that he may heal the injured man: ’Let me get at him’; and still another that the remark is addressed to the enemy asking them to excuse the hasty action of the offending disciple.

54-71 The Trial of Jesus by the Jews —Again as in Mark 14:53-72; Matthew 26:57-75 (cf.John 18:13-27) with changes of order, omissions and additions. The Jewish leaders wish to procure a condemnation by the Sanhedrin on the ground of revolutionary Messianic claims which will provide a reason for handing Jesus over to the Roman governor for execution. Mk and Mt give two meetings of the Sanhedrin, one in the night, the other on the morning of Friday; Lk mentions only the second, as usual simplifying and omitting details not necessary to his main purpose. He is concerned to show how Jesus still dominates the whole situation in spite of all appearances to the contrary; cf. 48, 51, 53b, 61, 69. God’s design is being worked out with the complete agreement of our Lord, a thing that puts the prayer and agony at Gethsemani into proper perspective.

54. Agreeing with Mk in describing the arrest and Peter’s following Jesus, Lk here prefers to complete the story of the Apostle and thus anticipates the order of Mk (cf. 3:19 ff.). It will be observed that he spares Peter as far as is reconcilable with the truth. The differences of the four evangelists in recording the denials are not of sufficient weight to alter the tradition of a triple denial; it may easily be supposed that Peter uttered several denials to each of his three questioners. Lagr., S. Marc ( 1911) 380 ff. 61a. This touching and significant detail is recorded by Lk alone. 70. The Sanhedrin, in accordance with their plan, demand if Jesus be the Christ (66; but note the additions to the question in Mark 14:61b and Matthew 26:63b); he refuses to discuss the point with them (67-68, proper to Lk) but tells them more than they ask for by his quotation from the Scriptures; cf.Psalms 109:1, and Daniel 7:13. This they seize on immediately in the question of 70, to which our Lord replies openly. They now have evidence to condemn him for blasphemy, but they have not secured the condemnation which would be more useful for handing Jesus over to the governor as a Messianic revolutionary. Lk has thus brought things to the conclusion he desires, with a clear affirmation from our Lord of his Divine Sonship resulting in his condemnation by the Jewish authorities. The condemnation he leaves the reader to infer, unless it be said that he wishes to be historically accurate and so abstains from crediting the Sanhedrin with something they had no real power to do: only the Roman governor had the power of life and death.

Bibliographical Information
Orchard, Bernard, "Commentary on Luke 22". Orchard's Catholic Commentary on Holy Scripture. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/boc/luke-22.html. 1951.
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