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Bible Commentaries
Luke 17

Bell's Commentary on the BibleBell's Commentary

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Verses 1-10

  1. Intro:
    1. Mouse Trap – (invented by Sir Hiram Stephen Maxim) - A very simple device made up of a flat wooden platform; A wire acting as a hammer; a spring that gives the hammer the quickness it needs; a metal bar that holds the hammer back; & a sensitive little catch; that when you touch it with the slightest pressure it releases the metal bar, and the hammer comes slamming down on its victim.
      1. There are many things in this world that trap not mice but men!
      2. There are traps of unforgiveness…which “sever” relationships.
        1. And thus imprison countless Christians in its jaws!
    2. Well, this is the last teaching of a long Sabbath day that started in 14:1.
    3. So Luke names 4 qualities of a true disciple: Offences; Forgiveness; Faith; & Service.
      1. Note discipleship’s link between true faith, & necessary obedience.
  2. 4 SERMONETTES! (1-10)
    1. [1] OFFENSIVE OFFENCES! (1,2)
    2. The word offenses means “occasions to stumble.” (stumbling blocks)
      1. The Gk. word gives us our English word “scandalize(skandolon)” and it originally referred to the stick that tripped a snare or a trap. (mouse trap)
    3. The warning - Yes, offenses will come…but woe to him through whom they do come! (responsibility)
      1. 1st it is inevitable they will come.
      2. 2nd there is a responsibility from whom they do come though.
        1. Inevitability does not remove responsibility!
    4. Beware of leading others astray. [not limited to children, but new believers also]
    5. Beware of doing anything that would cause others to fall into sin.
      1. But I have this liberty!”…but they might not!
    6. The woe isn’t defined…it’s not the millstone, that’s the way to escape the woe!
      1. (i.e. the easier way out!)
      2. Jesus leaves the woe undescribed, he leaves it nameless.
    7. Millstone - Like being fit for a pair of concrete shoes!
    8. We are to be stepping stones not stumbling blocks to others.
    9. [2] FOREVER FORGIVING! (3,4)
    10. No break in Jesus speaking, he is stating the case from the other side.
      1. We talked about the offender, now the offended!
    11. Rebuke him - It’s much easier to keep still when someone sins against us, and to try to hide the pain.
      1. We sometimes even think we’re being spiritual by trying to ignore the wrong. But failure to be honest, when there is something wrong, isn’t God’s way.
    12. Forgive! - Our old self dwells on slights and hurts and takes a perverse pleasure in self-pity and in righteous indignation.
      1. No limits are to be placed on forgiveness!
      2. What if I’m taken advantage of?” – What if Jesus asked that same question right before the cross?
      3. God absorbed the hurt of our sin on the cross, & offers us forgiveness & reconciliation.
      4. He’s not going to “get away with murder”…maybe get away w/it from you, but NOT from God…the woe still hangs around his neck!
    13. Forgiveness is a command; one is to forgive from one’s heart, overruling one’s feelings if necessary - since this too goes against the grain.
    14. It is not likely that a believer would put a stumbling block 7 x’s in one day before you, but we must be ready to forgive that often.
      1. Forgiveness should be a habit, not a battle.
    15. When people sin repeatedly, giving up on them is easy; but we must forgive them & trust God to work in their lives.
      1. Remember if someone puts a stumbling block before you, your 1st duty is to rebuke them. If they repent, forgive.
      2. If I do that, I am seeing to it that I’m no stumbling block in the way of the one who put the stumbling block before me! (G.Campbell Morgan; pg.195.)
    16. Do note “if they repent”! Forgiveness is based on his repentance.
      1. We are not to forgive a man if there is no sign of repentance. (like God)
      2. But note, if he “says” he repents (vs.4 – “saying” i.e. not nec “showing”).
    17. (Morgan) “Better to secure the sanctity & the beauty of our own character by being ready to forgive 7 x’s, even though the man is not sincere, than by refusing forgiveness to a truly repentant soul.”
    18. We must be stepping stones & not stumbling blocks.
    19. [3] MOUNTAIN MOVING FAITH! (5,6)
    20. The demands of discipleship are great. The disciples recognized they needed divine help to fulfill such demands.
      1. No wonder the disciples cried out to Jesus, “if we have to live like that with people, then, Lord, increase our faith!”
      2. You would expect the disciples to say, “Increase our love!” But forgiveness comes from faith in God’s Word.
      3. A grenade doesn’t ask for “more power” it just says, “pull the pin”!
      4. To make an Atomic Bomb you don’t need bigger atoms, just to split them!
    21. (6) Jesus’ answer clarified the nature of true faith.
      1. The issue isn’t greater faith. {not quantity of faith, but quality!}
      2. What is there in a grain of mustard seed that is distinctive? Life!
    22. Faith is like a seed: it seems small & weak, but it has life in it.
      1. If it is cultivated, it will grow & release power.
      2. Story – A man who was buried in a tomb that requested a great mass of granite over the top of his grave when he died. He had said if there ever was a resurrection it might be certain he should never rise! The granite stone weighing tons is there…but split in two! - Before they could place that large granite stone on the grave a bird happened to drop an acorn right there. An oak tree sprang up & the living power of the acorn split the granite in two. [small & weak, but has life!]
      3. If you have living faith(no matter how small) you will be able to forgive your brother 7 x’s.
        1. You’ll see to it U place no stumbling block in the way of others.
    23. We need faith for many areas of our life.
      1. [1] Faith to be Stepping Stones & not stumbling blocks!
      2. [2] Faith to Forgive! [3] Faith Unleashed! [4] Faith to Serve!
    24. It’s not up to us to conjure up an increase of faith, but instead…
      1. Faith opens the way for God to act out of HIS limitless resources.
    25. If our faith is like the seed, alive and growing,…nothing will be impossible!
    26. Q: What do you need ripped out of your life trunk, limbs, & roots?
      1. Be pulled up by the roots.
    27. [4] THE DUTY OF SERVANTS! (7-10)
    28. “And” shows connection.
      1. If you have that kind of faith, don’t let it turn into pride!
      2. You can’t lift your chin in the air, strut with pride, & be braggadocios!
      3. To rebuke & forgive is our simply our duty!
    29. Jesus knew how to balance one truth with another, so that His disciples would not go to extremes.
      1. The miraculous faith of vs.6 must be balanced with faithful day-by-day “ordinary service” that may not be exciting.
      2. This servant plows, takes care of cattle, even cooks!
      3. “Unprofitable” means “without need,” i.e. nobody owes him anything.
      4. God does not “owe” us rewards; we have only done our duty.
    30. Jesus had given His disciples a command. When a person sins, he is to be rebuked and forgiven.
      1. This is no optional activity, just for persons with exceptional faith!
      2. When it comes to living by Jesus’ commands, the issue is not one of faith but of obedience!
      3. We can never draw back from doing God’s revealed will because we feel we have inadequate faith.
    31. Note the demand for personal application (3,10)
    32. God wants the absence of pride expected of those who know that obeying him is a matter of duty.
    33. It takes faith to do your duty, whether tending to a field or a flock, or preparing a meal.

Verses 11-19

  1. Intro:
    1. Outline: The Request of the Ten, & The Return of the One.
    2. Illustration: Andrew Carnegie, the multimillionaire, left $1 million for one of his relatives, who in return cursed Carnegie thoroughly because he had left $365 million to public charities and had cut him off with just one measly million.
      1. Q: How does that make you feel when you here a story of ungratefulness, ingratitude, unappreciativeness, thanklessness?
      2. Let’s hear how Jesus felt about it!
  2. HEALED BUT NOT WHOLE! (11-19)
    1. THE REQUEST OF THE TEN! (11-14)
    2. THE CIRCUMSTANCES(11,12).
    3. Leprosy - a disease of a slow lingering death. They died “inch by inch!”
      1. Ken Gire writes, “There he lives. W/o love. W/o hope. W/o the simple joys & dignities of life: being smiled at…being greeted on the street…buying fresh fruit in the market… talking politics by the public fountain…laughing…getting to go to work…operating a business…haggling over prices w/a shopkeeper…getting a wedding invitation…singing hymns in the synagogue, celebrating Passover w/family. All these barred to him. Forever!
      2. Jesus is met by ten lepers.
      3. Stood afar off – Though not stipulated in Leviticus “how far” to stay away, someone came up with 50 yards away.
      4. Q: How far were you away when you called on Jesus?
    4. THE CRY(13).
      1. All 10 call out to him for help.
    5. THE COMMAND(14a).
      1. He tells them to present themselves to the Temple priests.
      2. No note from the doctor would help. (Lev.13,14)
    6. THE CLEANSING(14b).
      1. Their leprosy disappears en route!
      2. “Faith believes in advance what will only make sense in reverse.” (Chuck Swindoll)
    7. THE RETURN OF THE ONE! (15-19)
    8. WHO HE IS! [The story turns on a dime!]
    9. We have 9 ungrateful men, & 1 unusual man…& he’s a Samaritan! (16).
    10. WHY HE COMES!
    11. [1st] That he might give testimony to God the Father(15).
    12. [2nd] That he might give thanks to God the Son(16a).
      1. Here we find him “building an altar” at the feet of Jesus. ☺
    13. Q: Do we take time to thank Jesus for our salvation, and our new life?
    14. Q: Do we praise God that we have been healed within?
    15. WHAT HE FINDS!
    16. THE SADNESS OF JESUS(17,18).
    17. The Savior expresses regret over the 9 who do not return.
    18. Q: Why did only one cleansed leper return to thank Jesus? - The following are 9 suggested reasons why the 9 did not return:
      1. #1 waited to see if the cure was real;
        #2 waited to see if it would last;
        #3 said he would see Jesus later;
        #4 decided that he had never had leprosy;
        #5 said he would have gotten well anyway;
        #6 gave the glory to the priests;
        #7 said, "Jesus didn't really do anything";
        #8 said, "Any rabbi could have done it";
        #9 said, he was already improving.
        Charles L. Brown, Main Street Monitor.
    19. Faith healed not only the one leper who returned, but also the nine who appealed to Jesus for pity…and then took off!
      1. Q: What will move us to stay close to Jesus?
      2. Q: What will move us to that obedience Jesus has just said is so critical?
      3. Q: What will move us to a spirit of praise and thankfulness, for all Jesus has done to heal us from the deadly disease of sin.
    20. When blessings come upon a careless soul he believes there is no one to thank. Yet, when disappointments come he grumbles “there must be someone to blame”.
    21. (18) Wait…a foreigner? - Then the other 9 must have been locals! (i.e. Jews)
      1. Interesting, such Segregation & Integration!
      2. Lepers were segregated from all others.
      3. Lepers were integrated by their common curse of this disease.
      4. Segregation – The Jews despised the Samaritans. “Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.”( Jn.4:9) (Woman @ well to Jesus)
      5. Integration – Yet here are 9 Jews Integrated with one Samaritan by the common curse of leprosy.
      6. Illus. - If flood surges over a piece of country and the wild animals congregate for safety on some little bit of higher ground, you will find standing peacefully together animals who are natural enemies and who at any other time would do their best to kill each other.
      7. Leprosy is also a picture of sin:
        1. Sin integrated all of Adams’s race. “for there is no difference, for all have sinned & come short of the glory of God.” Rom.3:22,23
        2. Sin segregated us from God. “Your iniquities have separated you from your God.” Is.59:2
      8. When we’re cured form the leprosy of sin when we’re saved, everything flip flops: - We become separated from the world, & Integrated into the body of Christ. - We experience Spiritual Segregation from sin & condemnation, and Spiritual Integration with all other believers.
      9. So, Sin segregates us from God & integrates us with evil; while Grace does just the opposite!
    22. How grateful the men should have been for the providence of God that brought Jesus into their area.
    23. How grateful the men should have been for the love that caused Him to pay attention to them and their need.
    24. How grateful the men should have been for the grace and power of God that brought about their healing.
      1. So often, once a man has got what he wants, he never comes back!
    25. But before we judge them too harshly, what is our own “GQ”(Gratitude Quotient)?
      1. How often do we take our blessings for granted and fail to thank the Lord? “Oh that men would praise the Lord for His goodness, and for His wonderful works to the children of men!” (Ps.107:8,15,21,31)
      2. Too often we are content to enjoy the gift, but we forget the Giver.
      3. We are quick to pray, but slow to praise.
      4. In time of bitter need we pray with desperate intensity; & then the time passes and we forget God.
      5. Many never even offer a grace before a meal.
      6. God gave us his only Son and often we never give to him even a word of thanks.
    26. They should have formed an impromptu men’s choir & sung Ps.103:1-5 together! [Read Ps.103:1-5]
    27. If you ever have trouble praising the Lord turn to this Psalm.
      1. “We often write our blessings in the sand, & we engrave our complaints in the marble!” (Spurgeon)
      2. David doesn’t make one request in this Psalm. It is just pure Praise!
      3. Q: Can you agree w/the new converted sailor who said, “To save such a sinner as I am!...He shall never hear the end of it!”
      4. Q: Do you ever pray to God for the sole purpose of praising Him?
      5. Q: Could you pray this long w/o asking for something?
    28. (1,2) Praise…w/your entire being!
      1. “O for a thousand tongues to sing my great Redeemer's praise!”
    29. “He is cataloguing the goodness of God; enumerating his blessings, lest in a moment of depression or backsliding, he should forget the source of his prosperity & take God’s grace for granted.”
    30. We can add to this list of His benefits: Life, health, home, food, Mercy, Grace, Victory over sin, etc.
    31. What God has done for us far exceeds anything we have done for or against Him!
    32. Note all the “alls” we have here!
    33. Eagle – Like an eagle that remains strong throughout its long life, the psalmist was spiritually vigorous under God’s hand.
    34. “The eagle molts, loses its old feathers, gets a new coat & soars again!”(www)
    35. God designed us to be renewed physically. – All cells in our body, including brain cells, make themselves new every 5 months (some cells like your skin make themselves new every month). Dr. Amen, “Making a Good Brain Great”.
      1. Jesus tells the Samaritan that his faith has resulted in healing of both body and soul!
      2. Made you well – he was already made physically well? - Oh, He must have meant spiritually well then.
      3. “Your faith has saved you” (literal translation)
      4. Same words He spoke to the woman who anointed His feet (Lk.7:50)
      5. The Samaritan’s 9 friends were declared clean by the priest, but he was declared saved by the Son of God!
        1. While it is wonderful to experience the miracle of physical healing, it is even more wonderful to experience the miracle of eternal salvation.
      6. Physical healing is a great blessing, but it ends at death; while the blessing of eternal life lasts forever. (www)
      7. Every child of God should cultivate the grace of gratitude.
        1. It glorifies and pleases the Father, & opens the heart to further blessings.
        2. An unthankful heart is fertile soil for all kinds of sins.
        3. Rom.1:21 “because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened.”
    37. This man became a trophy of God’s Grace!
    38. Gratitude changes your perspective about life.
      1. Bitterness requires that you live in the past; Hope requires that you live for tomorrow. But Gratitude not only allows you to enjoy the present, but keeps you looking to the future.” (Erwin McManus; Uprising)
      2. You see the future, experience the present, & remember the past in a dramatically different way.
    39. End: In an interview with the inventor of the telegraph (Samuel F. B. Morse) George Hervey inquired, "Professor Morse, when you were making your experiments at the university, did you ever come to a standstill, not knowing what to do next?" "I've never discussed this with anyone, so the public knows nothing about it. But now that you ask me, I'll tell you frankly -- I prayed for more light" "And did God give you the wisdom and knowledge you needed?" Yes He did," said Morse. "That's why I never felt I deserved the honors that came to me from America and Europe because of the invention associated with my name. I had made a valuable application of the use of electrical power, but it was all through God's help. It wasn't because I was superior to other scientists. When the Lord wanted to bestow this gift on mankind. He had to use someone. I'm just grateful He chose to reveal it to me." In view of these facts, it's not surprising that the inventor's first message over the telegraph was: "What hath God wrought!"

      ​​Infants do not always appreciate what parents do for them. They have short memories. Their concern is not what you did for me yesterday, but what are you doing for me today. The past is meaningless and so is the future. They live for the present.

Verses 20-37

  1. Intro:
    1. Dr. Horatius Bonar (the prince of Scottish hymn writers, served the Lord for 60 yrs in the 1800’s), when he’d draw the curtains at night, would say, “Perhaps Tonight Lord!” Also, in the morning he’d draw open the shades & see the new day & say, “Perhaps Today Lord!”
    2. Q: The Kingdom of God is it present or future?
      1. Lk.17:20,21 seems like its saying present; Lk.19:11,12 seems like its saying future!
      2. So which is it? – Both! (maybe why the confusion; maybe why its called the mystery of the kingdom; maybe why I entitled my message “Kingdom Conundrum”)
  2. KINGDOM CONUNDRUM! (20,21) [Conundrum = puzzling, confusing, or mysterious]
    1. PHARISEES ASK WHEN?1 (20)
    2. They of course were looking for a materialistic earthly kingdom now! – See 19:11.
      1. And they knew Jesus was on His way to Jerusalem(17:11).
    3. It doesn’t come with observation – (only time in NT)means “to lie in wait, to spy.”
      1. Jesus cautions us not to devote our time to spying on the future and trying to second-guess God.
    4. Often can we be looking for something way out there...when it’s right under our noses!
      1. They misunderstood the nature of the kingdom, & thus missed its present reality.
    6. Jesus said, “Don’t look at when but where.”
    7. Bad translation “is within you”(it wasn’t IN these rejecting Pharisees) – better, “is in your midst”, “within your reach”.
      1. Jesus was saying, “if you’re looking for a kingdom, then you must desire to be with the King. I’m the king, thus my kingdom is right here”
    8. The term kingdom used by Jesus means reign, not realm.
      1. Reign = where he rules.
        1. Thus he seeks to rule where?...within you, or “in your heart!”
      2. If He doesn’t reign in your heart now, you won’t live in His realm later!
    9. God has always been Sovereign, but many haven’t acknowledged Him as Lord.
      1. Illustration: In Cuba, where Fidel Castro rules as Sovereign in his country; not everyone who lives there believes in his regime, nor his communist party. [Saw in news yesterday there are occasional street signs that read “Cambio” = Change!]
      2. The Sovereignty of God was declared in a new & powerful way in the life & ministry of Jesus.
  3. 2ND COMING QUANDARY! (22-37)
    2. FICTION! (22,23)
      1. False reports will say he had returned to this place or another place.
      2. The days are coming when I won’t be here among you.
        1. When I’m away don’t be seduced.
    3. FACTS! (24)
      1. His return won’t be secretive, but will be as evident as flashing lightning across the skies!
    5. He will 1st be rejected and crucified.
    6. The cross is the heart of God’s purpose, & the key to His kingdom.
    8. When He returns he won’t find everybody ready & waiting for Him.
      1. Nope, things will be going on just as they were before two O.T. judgments were about to take place.
    9. Ps: I do not believe He is speaking about the Rapture here, but about judgment before entering the kingdom (2nd Coming). (Walvoord; The Bible Knowledge Comm.; pg.249)
      1. Both men lived just before great judgments.
      1. In Noah’s day they were not prepared for the flood & therefore they were completely destroyed (Gen.6).
      2. The same problem will exist when Jesus ushers in His Kingdom.
        1. People will ignore the warnings and will party up to the time of destruction.
      1. In the same way with the materialistic, indifferent people of Sodom (eating, drinking, buying, selling, planting, & building) were not prepared for God’s judgment (Gen.19).
      2. They were living in sin, oblivious to God.
      3. Q: What will the world be like just before the final judgment and the coming of the Lord? It will be “business as usual”.
    12. “They lost the Best by living for the Good!”
      1. It’s a dangerous thing to get so absorbed in the pursuits of life that we forget Jesus is Coming!
      2. “Woe unto those who’s eating & drinking does not include the Bread & the Water of Life; & who marry or are given in marriage, but not to the Heavenly Bridegroom!”
    13. Jesus consistently taught the certainty of the fact of His Coming, but the uncertainty of the time!!! (Shepherd’s Notes; pg.64)
    14. ​​​​​​​WARNING CONCERNING THE 2ND COMING! (31-33)
    15. RUN FOR YOUR LIFE…for Salvation!
      1. ​​​​​​​Don’t wait, don’t hesitate; make the decision now before it’s too late.
      2. Any delay could be fatal.
      3. Whoever tries to keep his life,by going back for his goods, will lose it! (Walvoord; The Bible Knowledge Comm.; pg.249)
    16. (32) Remember Lot’s wife! - 1 of the shortest verses in the Bible.
      1. Jesus is commanding us to remember someone whose name we never knew! - Nor anything she ever said or did is recorded in Scripture, and yet the Lord wants us to remember her.
      2. The only thing to remember about her is that she was the one who “looked back!
      3. “Looking back” – i.e. grieving over the imminent loss of her material comforts and high social position among her ungodly neighbors.
      4. 2 Cor.5:15 “& he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.”
    17. To look around at the increase in sin will discourage you; To look back (as did Lot’s wife) may destroy you; So look up & eagerly expect the Lord’s return today!
    18. (33) The hope of the future coming affects present actions & values.
    19. Illustration: Car inspection stickers used to have printed on the back “Drive carefully - the life you save may be your own.” [That’s the wisdom of man in a nutshell] What God says, on the other hand, is “The life you save is the life you lose!”
      1. ​​​​​​​In other words, the life you “clutch, hoard, guard, and play safe with” is in the end a life worth little to anybody, including yourself; and only a life given away for love's sake is a life worth living.
    20. If we genuinely embrace His sacrifice, you will joyfully embrace a sacrificial life. (Erwin McManus)
      1. God’s will for us is less about our comfort than it is about our contribution.
      2. God would never choose for us safety at the cost of significance.
      3. God created you so that your life would count, not so that you could count the days of your life. (Erwin McManus)
    22. THE SEPARATION! (34-36)
      1. 2 in a bed(no not 2 guys!) - 1 taken, the other left (34)
      2. 2 grinding grain - 1 taken, the other left (35)
      3. 2 working in a field - 1 taken, the other left (36)
    23. Some will be taken into judgment!
      1. In some parts of the world it will be nighttime (they’ll be in bed).
      2. In other parts of the world it will be daytime (they’ll be doing daily tasks).
      3. The taken away means taken away to Judgment, not taken up in the Rapture.
        1. The ones left are those who will enter into the kingdom. ☺
        2. The sheep were told “Come you blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.”
        3. The goats were told “depart from Me you cursed…”
    24. THE SLAUGHTER! (37)
      1. The disciples questioned where these people would be taken?
      2. Jesus’ cryptic answer seems to reaffirm they are taken to judgment.
        1. See Rev.19:17,18.
    25. Speak to those who need to make a life commitment to Christ, before it’s too late!
    26. Speak to those who need to make a lifestyle commitment to Christ!


There’s a man in yonder glory I have loved for many years,

He has cleared my guilty conscience and has banished all my fears. He is coming in a moment in the twinkling of an eye,

And no time will be allotted for you to utter one good-bye. No time to kiss the husband or embrace the loving wife, If they are but united in the bonds of holy life.

Are you ready, Christian, ready, for shout and trump and voice? Will His coming make you tremble or cause you to rejoice? Are you walking, talking with Him daily, taking Him your care,

Do you live so close to heaven that a breath would waft (float/sail) you there?

Quoted in Fairest of All, Herbert Lockyer, Eerdmans, 1936, p. 71

Bibliographical Information
Bell, Brian. "Commentary on Luke 17". "Bell's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/cbb/luke-17.html. 2017.
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