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Bible Commentaries

Calvin's Commentary on the Bible

Luke 22

Verse 17

As Luke mentions that the cup was twice presented by Christ, we must inquire, in the first place, if it be a repetition, (as the Evangelists are wont frequently to say the same thing twice,) or if Christ, after having tasted the cup, repeated the same thing a second time. This latter conjecture appears to me to be probable; for we know that the holy fathers, during sacrifices, observed the solemn rite of tasting the cup; (188) and hence those words of the Psalmist,

I will take the cup of salvation, and will call on the name of the Lord, (Psalms 116:13.)

I have no doubt, therefore, that Christ, according to the ancient custom, tasted the cup in the holy feast, which otherwise could not have been correctly observed; and Luke expressly mentions this, before coming to give an account of the new mystery, which was a totally different institution from the paschal lamb. It was in compliance also with received and ordinary custom, that he is expressly said to have given thanks, after having taken the cup. For at the commencement of the supper, I have no doubt, he prayed, as he was accustomed never to sit down at table without calling on God; but now he wished to discharge once more the same duty, that he might not leave out a ceremony which, I have just now shown, was connected with the sacred act of taking the cup and tasting it. (189)

(188) “ Que les saincts peres ont observé ceste ceremonie solennelle de prendre la coupe, et gouster un peu de ce qui estoit dedans;” — “that the holy fathers observed this ceremony of taking the cup, and tasting a little of what was within it.”

(189) “ De prende la coupe, et en gouster.”

Verse 19

Luke 22:19

. Which is given for you. The other two Evangelists leave out this clause, which, however, is far from being superfluous; for the reason why the flesh of Christ becomes bread to us is, that by it salvation was once procured for us. And as the crucified flesh itself is of no advantage but to those who eat it by faith, so, on the other hand, the eating of it would be unmeaning, and of hardly any value, were it not in reference to the sacrifice which was once offered. Whoever then desires that the flesh of Christ should afford nourishment to him, let him look at it as having been offered on the cross, that it might be the price of our reconciliation with God. But what Matthew and Mark leave out in reference to the symbol of bread, they express in reference to the cup, saying, that the blood was to be shed for the remission of sins; and this observation must be extended to both clauses. So then, in order that we may feed aright on the flesh of Christ, we must contemplate the sacrifice of it, because it was necessary that it should have been once given for our salvation, that it might every day be given to us.

Verse 28

Luke 22:28

. You are they who have continued with me. Although Luke appears to relate a different discourse of Christ, and one which was delivered at a different time, yet I have no doubt that it refers to the same time. For it is not a continued discourse of Christ that is here related, but detached sentences, without any regard to the order of time, as we shall shortly afterwards have occasion to state. But he employs more words than Matthew; for he declares that, as the apostles had accompanied him, and had remained steadfastly in his temptations, they would also be partakers of his glory. It is asked, in what sense does he call them his temptations? I think that he means the contests by which God tried him and the apostles in common. And properly did he use the word temptations; for, according to the feeling of human nature, his faith and patience were actually tried.

Verse 29

29. And I appoint to you the kingdom. Here he makes them not only judges, but kings; for he shares with them the kingdom which he received from the Father There is an emphasis in the word appoint, that they may not, by warmth and vehemence of desire, hasten too eagerly to possess the kingdom of which he alone has the lawful right to dispose. By his own example, also, he exhorts them to patience; for, though he was ordained by the Father to be a King, yet he was not immediately raised to his glory, but even emptied Himself, (Philippians 2:7,) and by the ignominy of the cross obtained kingly honor. To eat and drink at his table is put metaphorically for being made partakers of the same glory.

Verse 31

Luke 22:31

. Lo, Satan hath desired. The other two Evangelists relate more briefly and simply, that our Lord foretold to his disciples their fall. But the words of Luke contain more abundant instruction; for Christ does not speak of the future trouble in the way of narrative, but expressly declares, that they will have a contest with Satan, and, at the same time, promises to them victory. It is a highly useful admonition, whenever we meet with any thing that gives us offense, to have always before our eyes the snares of Satan; as Paul also teaches, that

we wrestle not with flesh and blood, but with spiritual armies, (Ephesians 6:12.)

The meaning of the words therefore is: “When, a short time hence, you shall see me oppressed, know that Satan employs these arms to fight against you, and that this is a convenient opportunity for destroying your faith.” I have said that this is a useful doctrine, because it frequently happens that, from want of consideration, we are overcome by disregarding temptations, which we would regard as formidable, if we reflected that they are the fiery darts (Ephesians 6:16) of a vigorous and powerful enemy. And though he now speaks of that singularly fierce attack, by which the disciples, at one time, received dreadful shocks, so that their faith was well nigh extinguished, yet he manifestly conveys a more extensive doctrine, that Satan continually goes about, roaring for his prey. As he is impelled by such furious madness to destroy us, nothing is more unreasonable than that we should give ourselves up to drowsiness. Before there is apparent necessity for fighting, let us already prepare ourselves; for we know that Satan desires our destruction, and with great skill and assiduity seizes on every method of injuring us. And when we come to the conflict, let us know that all temptations, from whatever quarter they come, were forged in the workshop of that enemy.

That he may sift you as wheat. The metaphor of sifting is not in every respect applicable; for we have elsewhere seen that the Gospel is compared to a winnowing-fan or sieve, by which the wheat is purified from the chaff (Matthew 3:12;) but here it simply means to toss up and down, or to shake with violence, because the apostles were driven about with unusual severity by the death of Christ. This ought to be understood, because there is nothing in which Satan takes less delight than the purification of believers. Yet though it be for a different purpose that he shakes them, it is nevertheless true, that they are driven and tossed about in every direction, just as the wheat is shaken by the winnowing-fan. But we shall shortly afterwards see that a still more disastrous fulfillment of these words was experienced by the disciples. And this is what is meant by the words of our Lord, as related by Matthew and Mark: you will all be offended at me. They mean that the disciples will not only be attacked, but will nearly give way; because the ignominious treatment of Christ will quite overpower their minds. For whereas it was their duty to advance steadily with their Master to the cross, fear kept them back. Their infirmity is thus exhibited to them, that by prayers and groans they may betake themselves to God’s holy protection.

Verse 35

Luke 22:35

. And he said to them. The whole object of this discourse of Christ is to show, that hitherto he spared his disciples, so as to lay on them no heavier burden than they were able to bear. He reminds them of the indulgence exercised during the past time, that they may now prepare themselves with greater alacrity for severer warfare. For why did he, while they were altogether destitute of skill and training, keep them in the shade and in repose, at a distance from the darts of the enemy, except that, by gradually gathering courage and strength during the interval of leisure, they might be better prepared for fighting? The meaning is: “Hitherto you have had an easy and prosperous condition, because I wished to treat you gently, like children; the full time is now come, when I must employ you in labor, like men.” But the comparison which he makes between the two periods is still more extensive; for if they wanted nothing, when they proceeded to discharge their office without taking with them a stock of provisions, when a state of peace allowed them leisure to provide for their necessities, much more now, in the midst of tumult and excitement, ought they to lay aside anxiety about the present life, and run wherever necessity calls them. And although Christ makes special mention of what he had done in reference to the twelve apostles, he shows likewise, that while we are still beginners and weak in faith, he continues to indulge us till we grow up to be men; and, therefore, that they act improperly who devote their leisure to the pursuit of luxuries, which abate the rigor of their faith. And let us not doubt that Christ has regard to us in the present day, since he does not hurry us into the battle while we are still untrained and inexperienced, but, before sending us to the field, supplies us with arms and courage.

Verse 36

36. But now let him who hath a purse take it. In metaphorical language he threatens that they will soon meet with great troubles and fierce attacks; just as when a general, intending to lead the soldiers into the field of battle, calls them to arms, and orders them to lay aside every other care, and think of nothing else than fighting, not even to take any thought about procuring food. For he shows them—as is usually done in cases of extreme danger—that every thing must be sold, even to the scrip and the purse, in order to supply them with arms. And yet he does not call them to an outward conflict, but only, under the comparison of fighting, he warns them of the severe struggles of temptations which they must undergo, and of the fierce attacks which they must sustain in spiritual contests. That they might more willingly throw themselves on the providence of God, he first reminded them, as I have said, that God took care to supply them with what was necessary, even when they carried with them no supplies of food and raiment. Having experienced so large and seasonable supplies from God, they ought not, for the future, to entertain any doubt that he would provide for every one of their necessities.

Verse 37

37. That this also which is written must be accomplished in me. This adverb also is emphatic; for Christ means, that he had not yet discharged every part of his office, till he had been ranked with ungodly and wicked men, as if he had been one of their class. But that their minds might not be too much disturbed by the baseness of such a transaction, he quotes a prediction of Isaiah, (Isaiah 53:12) which, it is certain, cannot be explained but as referring to the Messiah. Now since it is there said that he was to be reckoned among transgressors, such a spectacle, however atrocious, ought not to alarm believers, or to alienate them from Christ, who could not have been their Redeemer in any other way than by taking upon himself the shame and disgrace of a wicked man. For nothing is better adapted to remove grounds of offense, when we are alarmed by any strange occurrence, than to acknowledge that it so pleases God, and that whatever takes place by his appointment is not done rashly, or without a good reason; more especially when that which is made evident by the event itself was anciently predicted. Since, then, the disciples ought to expect a Redeemer such as God had formerly promised, and since Isaiah had expressly declared, that in order that he might deliver us from the guilt of offenses the punishment must be laid on him, (Isaiah 53:5,) this ought to be sufficient for abating the horror of the disciples, and for preventing them from entertaining less esteem for Christ.

For those things which relate to me have an end. By these words, immediately added, he means that the prophets spoke nothing in vain. For this Greek phrase, τέλος ἔχει, have an end; means that they are accomplished, or put in effect. Now when every thing that the prophets spoke is verified by the event, it ought rather to contribute to strengthen our faith, than to strike us with alarm or anxiety. But while Christ encourages and comforts the disciples by this single argument, that all the predictions must be accomplished, the very procedure of the divine purpose contains within itself no ordinary ground of confidence, which is, that Christ was subjected to the condemnation which we deserved, and was reconciled among transgressors, that we, who are transgressors, and loaded with crimes, might be presented by him to the Father as righteous. For we are reckoned pure and free from sins before God, because the Lamb, who was pure and free from every blemish, was placed in our room, as we shah have occasion to state again under the next chapter.

Verse 38

38. Lord, lo, here are two swords. It was truly shameful and stupid ignorance, that the disciples, after having been so often informed about bearing the cross, imagine that they must fight with swords of iron. When they say that they have two swords, it is uncertain whether they mean that they are well prepared against their enemies, or complain that they are ill provided with arms. It is evident, at least, that they were so stupid as not to think of a spiritual enemy. As to the inference which the Doctors of Canon Law draw from these words — that their mitered bishops have a double jurisdiction — it is not only an offensive allegory, but a detestable mockery, by which they ridicule the word of God. And it was necessary that the slaves of Antichrist should fall into such madness, of openly trampling under feet, by sacrilegious contempt, the sacred oracles of God.

Verse 51

Luke 22:51

. And having touched his ear, he healed him. By his foolish zeal Peter had brought grievous reproach on his Master and his doctrine; and there can be no doubt, that this was a contrivance by which Satan attempted to involve the Gospel in eternal disgrace, as if Christ had kept company with assassins and seditious persons for revolutionary purposes. This, I think, was the reason why Christ healed the wound which Peter had inflicted. But a fearful and amazing stupidity must have seized his adversaries, who were not at all affected by having seen such a miracle. And yet there is the less reason to wonder that they did not see the power of Christ displayed in the person of another, when, after having themselves been laid prostrate by his voice, they still continued to rage, (John 18:6.) Such is the spirit of giddiness by which Satan maddens the reprobate, when the Lord has given them over to blindness. Above all, in the person himself who was healed, there is a striking instance of ingratitude; for neither did the divine power of Christ subdue him to repentance for his hardness, nor was he overcome by kindness so as to be changed from an enemy into a disciple. For it is a foolish imagination of the monks that he was also healed in his soul, that the work of Christ might not be left incomplete; as if the goodness of God were not every day poured out on those who are unworthy.

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Bibliographical Information
Calvin, John. "Commentary on Luke 22". "Calvin's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/cal/luke-22.html. 1840-57.