Bible Commentaries

Cambridge Greek Testament for Schools and Colleges

Luke 20

Verse 1

1. ἐν μιᾷ τῶν ἡμερῶν. ‘On one of the days.’ Ἐκείνων is omitted in אBDLQ. By careful comparison of the Evangelists we find that after the Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, our Lord was received in the Temple by the children—probably those engaged in the Choral Service of the Temple—with shouts of Hosanna, which again called forth the embittered rebuke of the priests. These rebukes He silenced by a reference to Psalms 8:2. Then came the message brought to Him by Andrew and Philip from the Greek enquirers (supposed by some to have been sent by Abgarus V., King of Edessa), and the Voice from Heaven. After this He retired privately from the Temple, and bivouacked (ηὐλίσθη) for the night on the Mount of Olives (John 12:20-25; Matthew 21:17). Next morning—Monday in Passion Week—occurred the incident of the Fruitless Figtree (Matthew 21:18-19), and it was after this that our Lord entered the Temple. This Monday in Passion Week may be called a Day of Parables, since on it were uttered the Parables of the Two Sons (Matthew 21:28-32); the Rebellious Husbandmen (Matthew 21:9-16); the Rejected Cornerstone (Matthew 21:17-18); and the Marriage of the King’s Son (Matthew 22:1-14).

εὐαγγελιζομένου, Luke 3:18, Luke 4:43, &c. This beautiful word is almost confined to St Luke, who uses it twenty-five times, and St Paul, who uses it twenty times.

ἐπέστησαν. The word implies a sudden and hostile demonstration (Acts 4:1; Acts 6:12; Acts 23:27). Thus they surrounded Him while He was walking in the Temple (Mark 11:27). The idea of suddenness is sometimes separately expressed (αἰφνίδιος, Luke 21:34).

οἱ ἀρχιερεῖς καὶ οἱ γραμματεῖς. The chief priests were the heads of the twenty-four courses. It was probably the humble triumph of Palm Sunday, and the intense excitement produced in the city (ἐσείσθη) by the arrival of Jesus (Matthew 21:10), which first awoke the active jealousy of the chief priests of Jerusalem, who were wealthy Sadducees in alliance with the Herodians, and who had hitherto despised Jesus as only a ‘Prophet of Nazareth.’ From this period of the narrative, the hostility of the Pharisees, as such, is much less marked. Indeed they would have sympathised with the cleansing of the Temple, which involved a terrible reflexion on the greed and neglect of the hierarchic party.

σὺν τοῖς πρεσβυτέροις. There were probably three great sections of the Sanhedrin: 1, Priests; 2, Scribes and Rabbis (Sopherîm, Tanaîm, &c.); and 3, Levites. Derenbourg, Pal. ch. 6. Comp. John 1:19.

Verses 1-8


Verse 2

2. ποίᾳ ἐξουσίᾳ. ‘By what kind of authority.’ The implication is ‘you are only called a Rabbi by courtesy;’ you are not a ‘pupil of the wise;’ you are not a priest, or a scribe, or a political functionary. Yet you usurp functions which rather belong to Caiaphas, or the President of the Sanhedrin, or the Romans, or Herod. If you act as a Prophet shew us a sign. Practically it was the old taunt by which He had been grieved in Galilee (Matthew 12:39; Matthew 16:4).

ὁ δούς. Every recognised Rabbi had received his diploma; every Priest his ordination.

Verse 3

3. λόγον. ‘A question.’ The divine readiness and (if we may be allowed the expression) presence of mind of Jesus was most conspicuously shewn on this perilous day and the next day.

καὶ εἴπατέ μοι. We see from St Mark (Mark 11:30) that this emphatic expression came after His question—as though to hasten their delay, and break up a whispered colloquy of perplexity.

Verse 4

4. ἐξ ἀνθρώπων. Not “of men” as in A. V[348] but ‘from men.’ This was equivalent to the question—with which surely the teachers of Israel should at once have been provided with an answer—was the Baptist a prophet or a seducer? If they could not answer this question they were obviously incompetent to decide as to the authority by which He worked.

Verse 5

5. συνελογίσαντο πρὸς ἑαυτούς. The aorist implies that they at once went aside to discuss together what answer they should give. This deliberation rendered their confession of ignorance more glaring and more fatal to their claims. ἑαυτούς, themselves, should in logical strictness be ἀλλήλους, one another; but, in most languages, reciprocity is often thus colloquially extended into identity.

οὐκ ἐπιστεύσατε. See Luke 7:30. It never occurred to them to speak with the courage of their convictions.

Verse 6

6. καταλιθάσει. The word is a strong compound—used here only—‘will stone us to death.’ Herod had been daunted by the same dread, Matthew 14:5; Jos. Antt. XVIII. 5, § 2. It illustrates the furious bursts of fanaticism to which the Jews were liable (John 8:59; John 10:31, &c.).

πεπεισμένος. ‘Firmly convinced.’ The tense implies an unalterable conclusion.

Verse 7

7. μὴ εἰδέναι. ‘That they did not know.’ The “could not tell” of the A. V[349] is inaccurately introduced by way of antithesis to the next verse. A wise answer in cases of real uncertainty, as the Hebrew proverb taught—“Learn to say I do not know;” but a base answer when they had an opinion but did not dare to avow it; and doubly base in the matter of a question on which it was their plain duty to have arrived at a judgment. To be reduced to this ignominious necessity of confessing ignorance (though “we know” was one of their favourite phrases, John 9:24, &c.) was a public humiliation which they had brought upon themselves.

Verse 8

8. οὐδὲ ἐγὼ λέγω ὑμῖν. If they were incompetent to decide as to the authority of the Prophet who had saluted Jesus as the Messiah, they were obviously incompetent to decide as to His authority.

Verse 9

9. πρὸς τὸν λαόν. But still in the hearing of the priests and scribes who had only withdrawn a little into the background (Luke 20:19; Matthew 21:32; Matthew 21:45). St Luke here omits the Parable of the Two Sons (Matthew 21:28-32), in which, as in this Parable, the hidden meaning—applicable in the first instance to Pharisees and the people, and in the second to Jews and Gentiles—was hardly veiled. This passage (9–18) was arbitrarily omitted by Marcion, because it recognises the divine economy of the O. T. dispensation.

ἀμπελῶνα. As in Isaiah 5:1-7; Psalms 80; Ezekiel 15:1-6; Jeremiah 2:21. St Luke omits the special isolation, &c. of the vineyard. Vines, grapes, and vine-leaves were symbols of Palestine, on the coins of the Maccabees.

γεωργοῖς. Namely, [1] the Jewish nation; [2] their rulers and teachers.

χρόνους ἱκανούς. The nearly two thousand years of Jewish History. Comp. Matthew 25:19. In this long time they learnt to say “the Lord hath forsaken the earth,” Ezekiel 8:12; Psalms 10:5.

Verses 9-19


Verse 10

10. δοῦλον. The various ‘servants’ are the Judges, the better Priests, and the Prophets.

ἵναδώσουσιν. This construction—ἵνα with the future indicative in a final clause—would of course be a strange solecism in classical Greek. For this very reason the reading has been corrected by the copyists into δῶσιν. See note on Luke 19:40.

ἀπὸ τοῦ καρποῦ. The payment is in kind, on the métayer system.

Verse 11

11. προσέθετοπέμψαι. Jeremiah 44:4. Literally “And he added to send another”—a Hebraism, Luke 19:11; Acts 12:3; Genesis 4:2.

ἀτιμάσαντες. There is a gradation in their impious audacity. In St Matthew (Matthew 21:35) it is [1] beat, [2] killed, [3] stoned. In St Mark (Mark 12:3-5) it is [1] beat, and sent away empty; [2] wounded in the head, and insulted; [3] killed. And when more servants are sent they beat some and kill some. There is perhaps a specific allusion to Zachariah (Luke 11:51) and John the Baptist.

Verse 12

12. ἐξέβαλον. On this treatment of God’s messengers see on Luke 13:33-34 and Nehemiah 9:26; 1 Kings 22:24-27; 2 Chronicles 24:19-22; Acts 7:52; 1 Thessalonians 2:15; Hebrews 11:36-37, where the same charge is reiterated.

Verse 13

13. τί ποιήσω; Genesis 1:26; Genesis 6:7.

πέμψω τὸν υἱόν μου τὸν ἀγαπητόν. Who “took on Him the form of a servant.” Our Lord’s teaching respecting His own divine dignity advanced in distinctness as the end was approaching.

ἴσως. ‘Perhaps.’ It occurs here alone in the N. T. and once only in the LXX[350], 1 Samuel 25:21 (Heb. אך, E. V. ‘surely’). This ‘perhaps’ belongs of course only to the parable, but it (i) indicates their free will, and (ii) enhances their awful crime to represent it as having seemed all but inconceivable.

[ἰδόντες.] Omitted in אBCDLQ.

ἐντραπήσονται. See on Luke 18:2.

Verse 14

14. διελογίζοντο. ‘They held a consultation.’ Godet sees in the word a reflection upon the συνελογίσαντο of the Sanhedrin in Luke 20:5.

ἵνα ἡμῶν γένηται ἡ κληρονομία. “His Son, whom He hath appointed heir of all things,” Hebrews 1:2. Comp. John 11:47-53. “They killed that they might possess, and because they killed they lost.” Aug.

Verse 15

15. ἐκβαλόντες αὐτὸν ἔξω τοῦ ἀμπελῶνος. This may involve an allusion to Christ “without the gate,” Hebrews 13:12-13; John 19:17. The prophecy was meant if possible at the last hour to prevent the guilt of its own fulfilment (2 Kings 8:12-13).

Verse 16

16. ἐλεύσεται καὶ ἀπολέσει. In Matthew 21:41 this is the answer of the people themselves to our Lord’s question.

δώσει τὸν ἀμπελῶνα ἄλλοις. “Lo, we turn to the Gentiles,” Acts 13:46.

μὴ γένοιτο. ‘Might it not be!’ Heb. Chalîlah. In this utterance we hear the groan of the Jewish people when the truth that they were indeed to be rejected burst upon them. It woke an echo even in the heart of the Apostle of the Gentiles. For the Hebrew expression Chalîlah see Genesis 44:7; Genesis 44:17; Joshua 22:29. It occurs ten times in the Epistle to the Romans alone. See Life of St Paul, II. 206. It is the opposite of Amen, but occurs here alone in the Gospels.

Verse 17

17. ἐμβλέψας αὐτοῖς. ‘Looking fixedly on them,’ to add solemnity to His reference to their own Scriptures.

τὸ γεγραμμένον. He here refers them to the very Psalm from which the Hosanna of the multitude had been taken.

λίθον ὃν ἀπεδοκίμασαν οἱ οἰκοδομοῦντες. This is a quotation from Psalms 118:22; comp. Isaiah 28:16. The stone is regarded both as a foundation-stone, and a stone at the angle of the building, binding the two walls together. These words made a deep impression on St Peter (1 Peter 2:7-8).

ἐγενήθη. ‘Was made.’ The choice of the corner-stone is past and irrevocable.

Verse 18

18. πεσὼν ἐπ' ἐκεῖνον τὸν λίθον. As the Jews did from the first, 1 Corinthians 1:23. See Isaiah 8:14-15.

συνθλασθήσεται. ‘Shall be sorely bruised.’ The verb is poetic.

ἂν πέση. As it did on the finally impenitent Jews after Christ’s Ascension.

λικμήσει αὐτόν. ‘It shall winnow him’ (Jeremiah 31:10), with obvious reference to the great Image which ‘the stone cut without hands’ smote and broke to pieces, so that its fragments became “like the chaff of the summer threshingfloors, and the wind carried them away,” Daniel 2:35. See Matthew 21:44.

Verse 19

19. πρὸς αὐτούς. This decidedly shews the primary sense of the Parable. As yet they hardly realized its wider significance. So when the priests and rulers saw that Jeremiah spoke against them, “Come,” said they, “and let us devise devices against Jeremiah … come, and let us smite him with the tongue” (Jeremiah 18:18).

After this parable our Lord added the Parable of the Marriage of the King’s Son. Thus in three continuous Parables He convicted the Priests and Scribes [1] of false professions; [2] of cruel faithlessness; [3] of blind presumption. This with their public humiliation about John’s baptism made them thirst for speedy vengeance.

Verse 20

20. καὶ παρατηρήσαντες. For the word used see Luke 6:7, Luke 14:1, Luke 17:20. The incident now related took place on the Tuesday in Passion-week—the Day of Temptations, or insidious questions—the last and greatest day of the public ministry of Jesus. On the previous evening He had again retired to the Mount of Olives, and in the morning the disciples remarked that the Fig-tree had withered. He had scarcely arrived in the Temple when the plot of the Jewish rulers on the previous evening began to be carried out.

ἐνκαθέτους. ‘Liers in wait’ (ἐνκαθέτους, Joshua 8:14; Job 31:9).

δικαίους. ‘Righteous;’ ingenuous and scrupulous ‘disciples of the wise,’ honestly seeking for instruction. They pretend to be strict legalists who revive the scruples of Judas the Gaulonite. Meyer appositely quotes Cicero (Off. I. 13), “qui tum, quum maxime fallunt, id agunt ut viri boni videantur.”

ἐπιλάβωνται αὐτοῦ λόγου. The ‘they’ means the priests; that they may take hold of Him by His speech. Comp. Xen. Anab. IV. 7, § 12, ἐπιλαμβάνεται αὐτοῦ τῆς ἴτυος, ‘he takes hold of him by the rim of his shield.’ Both genitives are partitive. Comp. Sirach 8:11, “Rise not up in anger at the presence of an injurious person, lest he lie in wait to entrap thee in thy words.” The words might be rendered ‘take hold of Him by His speech.’

ὥστε. See Luke 4:29. Here also some MSS. read εἰς τὸ. See critical notes.

τῇ ἀρχῇ καὶ τῇ ἐξουσίᾳ τοῦ ἡγεμόνος. The ἀρχὴ refers to the military, and ἐξουσία to the civil rule. Ἡγεμὼν is a general word for the more precise ἐπίτροπος. ‘To the (Roman) magistracy and to the jurisdiction of the procurator.’ Comp. Luke 12:11; 1 Corinthians 15:24. They had not the power or the courage to put Christ to death themselves. We see from Matthew 22:15; Mark 12:16 that this plot sprang from an unholy alliance of Pharisees with Herodians—i.e. of scrupulosity with indifferentism—of devotees with sycophants; uniting in common hatred “to crush a reformer whose zeal might be inimical to both.” (Neander.)

Verses 20-26


Verse 21

21. Διδάσκαλε, οἴδαμεν. There is something in this fawning malice, and treacherous flattery, almost as repulsive as the kiss of Judas. It shews that these men knew well ὑποκρίνεσθαι.

καὶ οὐ λαμβάνεις πρόσωπον. Galatians 2:6. Πρόσωπον, ‘a mask’; it is as though they would imply that Jesus was not only an Impartial Judge, too true for sycophancy, but also too keen-sighted to be deceived by hypocrisy. And the one blighting word ‘Ye hypocrites!’ shewed them that their words were truer than they had intended. From the phrase λαμβάνεις πρόσωπον (which a Greek would have regarded as a strange solecism in this sense) are formed the words προσωπολήπτης and προσωπολημψία; see Ephesians 6:9; Colossians 3:25; Acts 10:34, &c. It is a Hebrew phrase, Leviticus 19:15; Malachi 1:8.

Verse 22

22. ἔξεστιν ἡμᾶς Καίσαρι φόρον δοῦναι ἢ οὔ; The question was devised with so superlative a craft that it seemed impossible for our Lord to escape. If He said ‘It is lawful,’ the Pharisees hoped at once to undermine His popularity with the multitude. If He said ‘It is not lawful’ (Deuteronomy 17:15), the Herodians could at once hand Him over, as a traitor, to the secular power. For ‘tribute’ each Evangelist uses a different word—ἐπικεφάλαιον, ‘poll-tax’ (Mark in D); the Latin κῆνσον ‘census’ (Matt.); and the classical φόρον here and Luke 23:2. It was a capitation-tax, the legality of which was indignantly disputed by scrupulous legalists.

πανουργίαν. A classical word only found in St Paul and St Luke, 2 Corinthians 4:2; 2 Corinthians 11:3, &c.

[τί με πειράζετε; κ.τ.λ.] Our Lord saw at once that it was a cunning test-question meant only to entrap Him. Not for a moment did these fawning spies deceive Him though

“Neither man nor angel can discern

Hypocrisy, the only evil that walks

Invisible, except to God alone.”

These Pharisees were illustrating the truth that “no form of self-deceit is more hateful than that which veils spite and falsehood under the guise of frankness, and behind the profession of religion.”

Verse 24

24. δείξατέ μοι δηνάριον. A denarius. See on Luke 7:41. We see from Mark 12:15-16 that they were obliged to borrow the heathen coin from one of the tables of the money-changers. They would only carry Jewish money in their own girdles.

τίνος ἔχει εἰκόνα καὶ ἐπιγραφήν; On one side would be the once beautiful but now depraved features of Tiberius; the title Pontifex Maximus was probably inscribed on the obverse.

Verse 25

25. ἀπόδοτε. ‘Pay as their due.’

τὰ Καίσαρος Καίσαρι. St Paul very clearly enforces the same duty in Romans 13:6-7. The ‘tribute’ in Matthew 17:24 was quite different; it was the Temple didrachma.

τὰ τοῦ θεοῦ τῷ θεῷ. To Caesar you owe what he demands in his own coinage; to the Temple the tribute which you can only pay in the shekel of the sanctuary; to God you owe yourselves. Pay to Caesar the coins which bear his stamp, to God the duties of your own souls which bear His image. Thus both the conspiring parties—Pharisees and Herodians—obtained a lesson which they needed.

Verse 26

26. θαυμάσαντες. Comp. Luke 2:47. They thought that escape was impossible for Him; and yet He instantly shatters their deeply-laid plot to pieces by shewing that they—Pharisees and Herodians alike—had decided the question already (according to their own rule “He whose coin is current is king of the land”), so that there is no need for Him to give any opinion about it. The point was this,—their national acceptance of Caesar’s coinage was an admission of Caesar’s right. Tribute to them was no longer an offering, but a due; not a voluntary gift, but a political necessity. The very word He used was decisive. They had asked “Is it lawful to give (δοῦναι)?” He answers, ‘Give back’ (ἀπόδοτε). By using these coins they all alike admitted that ‘they had no king but Caesar.’ The Christians understood the principle perfectly (1 Peter 2:13-14) as the ancient Jews had done (Jeremiah 27:4-8). Yet these hypocrites dared to shout three days afterwards that Jesus ‘had forbidden to give tribute to Caesar’!

Verse 27

27. τινες τῶν Σαδδουκαίων. Matthew 3:7. On the Sadducees see the Excursus on Jewish Sects. They were undeterred by the discomfiture of the Pharisees and Herodians, and perhaps their plot had been so arranged as coincidently to humiliate our Lord, if they could, by a difficult question, and so to shake His credit with the people. Some have supposed that the memorable incident of the Woman taken in Adultery (John 8:1-11) also took place on this day; in which case there would have been three temptations of Christ, one political, one doctrinal, and one speculative. But that incident rose spontaneously, whereas these had been pre-arranged.

οἱ ἀντιλέγοντες ἀνάστασιν μὴ εἶναι. The more accurate construction would have been τῶν ἀντιλεγόντων, but the descriptive nominative is here detached from the construction. Winer, p. 668. For the Sadducees, see Jos. Antt. XVIII. 1, § 4; B. J. II. 8, § 14. They refused to see any proof of it in the Books of Moses; and to the Prophets and the other books (the Ketubhim or Hagiographa) they only attached a subordinate importance. Their question was inspired less by hatred than by scorn. Wealthy and powerful, they only professed to despise Jesus, up to this time, as a ‘Prophet of Nazareth,’ though now they became His main murderers. They are not so much as mentioned by St John, and very slightly by St Mark and St Luke, nor did Christ utter against them the same denunciations as against the Pharisees, who were His daily opponents. All the leading families of high priests at this period were Sadducees. Epicurean worldliness is more tolerant than interested fanaticism.

Verses 27-40


Verse 28

28. ΄ωϋσῆς ἔγραψεν ἡμῖν. The law of levirate marriage. Deuteronomy 23:4. See on Luke 3:23.

Verse 29

29. ἑπτὰ οὖν κ.τ.λ. In Matthew 22:25 it runs “there were with us,” as though they were alluding to an actual case.

Verse 30

30. καὶ ὁ δεύτερος. This question about the husband of the “Sevenfold widow” was one of the materialistic objections to the Resurrection, which as an insipid ‘difficulty’ had often been discussed in Jewish Schools. It was excessively commonplace, and even if Jesus had given the answer which contented the most eminent Rabbis of the Pharisaic schools—that the woman would be the wife of the first husband—it is hard to see what triumph these shallow Epicureans (as the Talmud calls them) would have gained by their question.

Verse 33

33. ἐν τῇ οὖν ἀναστάσει. The forcible order of BL is “the woman, therefore, in the resurrection, whose wife does she become of the seven?”

Verse 34

34. οἱ υἱοὶ τοῦ αἰῶνος τούτου, i.e. all who live in the present dispensation. In Luke 16:8 the sense is more special. Here, as often elsewhere, the word rendered ‘world’ is αἰών, which properly means ‘age.’ It is not the κόσμος or material Universe, but the Universe regarded subjectively, i.e. the Time-world.

Verse 35

35. καταξιωθέντες. Comp. Luke 21:36; Revelation 3:4; 2 Thessalonians 1:5. Sane magna dignatio. Bengel.

αἰῶνος ἐκείνου τυχεῖν. Literally, “to attain to that world-age,” i.e. the genuine inheritors of the future aeon beyond the grave, Luke 14:14; Philippians 3:11. The answer of Jesus is not only full of tolerant condescension, but also of a divine wisdom which at once dwarfs into insignificance the insight of the Rabbinic Hillels and Shammais. It is further most important, as being one of the few passages which give us a clear glimpse into the conditions of future blessedness. These Sadducees erred because, in their ignorance of the Scriptures and the power of God (Mark 12:24), they were imagining a kingdom which could be inherited by “flesh and blood.”

Verse 36

36. οὔτε γάρ. This is the better reading; neque enim, ‘for neither,’ &c. “There shall be no more death,” Revelation 21:4. “The dead shall be raised incorruptible,” 1 Corinthians 15:52.

ἰσάγγελοι. Like the angels in being immortal, but superior to them in privileges (Hebrews 1:4; Hebrews 2:5-8; 1 John 3:2). In this one word our Lord refutes the Sadducean denial of the existence of angels, Acts 23:8; and incidentally those material notions of future bliss (Luke 14:15) which all the Jews held.

υἱοὶθεοῦ. “I am the resurrection, and the life,” John 11:25.

υἱοὶ τῆς ἀναστάσεως. Comp. Luke 16:8.

Verse 37

37. ἐγείρονται. Literally, “are being raised”—the present of eternal certainty.

καὶ ΄ωϋσῆς. The argument is à fortiori, as though our Lord would say “the Prophets prove it abundantly, but I will not quote them. You quote Moses to throw doubt on the Resurrection; but even Moses, &c.”

ἐμήνυσεν. ‘Disclosed,’ or revealed.

ἐπὶ τῆς βάτου. ‘In the Bush,’ Vulg[351] in libro super rubum, i.e. in that section of Exodus (Exodus 3) which they called by that name, just as they called 2 Samuel 1 ‘the Bow’ and Ezekiel 1 ‘the Chariot.’ Comp. “in Elias,” Romans 11:2 (marg.).

Verse 38

38. νεκρῶν ἀλλὰ ζώντων. ‘Of dead beings, but of living beings.’ Here, as always, in interpreting the Old Test, our Lord pierces to the heart of the spiritual meaning. The Pharisees had endeavoured to draw proofs of immortality from the Law, i.e. from Numbers 15:31. In later times they borrowed this proof from Christ,—lighting their torches at the sun though they hated its beams. But they had, up to this time, offered no proof so deep as this. The argument is that God would never have called Himself “the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob,” if these Patriarchs, after brief and sad lives, had become mere heaps of dust. Would He have given confidence by calling Himself the God of dust and ashes? So 4 Maccabees 16:24, “they who die for God’s sake, live unto God as Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and all the Patriarchs.” Acts 17:28.

πάντες γὰρ αὐτῷ ζῶσιν. To Him, the date of reference: “opposé à pour nous, pour qui les morts sont comme n’étant plus.” Godet. Romans 14:8-9. Our Lord added, “Ye therefore do greatly err.” But how incomparably less severe is the condemnation of religious and intellectual error, than the burning rebuke against Pharisaic lovelessness!

Verse 39

39. τινες τῶν γραμματέων. Even the Pharisees could not fail to see the luminous wisdom and spiritual depth of our Lord’s reply, and while all of them would rejoice at this confutation of their opponents, some of them would have the candour to express their approval. Truth will always offend some, but others will value it. After this grateful acknowledgment, however, one of them could not refrain from gratifying the insatiable spirit of casuistry by asking Christ ‘which is the great commandment of the Law?’ (Matthew 22:34-40; Mark 12:28-34). This incident is omitted by St Luke, because he has given similar ones before.

Verse 40

40. οὐκέτιἐτόλμων. The total collapse of their stratagems enhanced our Lord’s peril, by shewing how impossible it was for these rich and learned “pupils of the wise” to pose themselves as superiors to Christ in wisdom and knowledge. Assumed contempt was deepened into real hatred.

Verse 41

41. τὸν Χριστόν. ‘The Christ.’ See John 7:42; Psalms 132:11; Jeremiah 23:5; Micah 5:2.

Verses 41-47


Verse 42

42. ἐν βίβλῳ ψαλμῶν. Psalms 110:1. The Jews regarded it as a Messianic Psalm, and in Luke 20:3 the LXX[352] renders, “From the womb, before the morning star, did I beget thee.”

ὁ κύριος τῷ κυρίῳ μου. In the Hebrew it is “Jehovah said to my Lord” (Adonai).

ἐκ δεξιῶν μου. Comp. Matthew 26:64.

Verse 43

43. ὑποπόδιον τῶν ποδῶν σου. “He must reign till He hath put all enemies under His feet,” 1 Corinthians 15:25.

Verse 44

44. πῶς αὐτοῦ υἱός ἐστιν; To a Jew it was inconceivable that a father, or ancestor, should call his son “Lord.” The only possible solution—that the Messiah was only “made of the seed of David after the flesh” (Romans 1:3) was one which they had never chosen to accept. They, like the Ebionites, expected for their Messiah a mere ‘beloved man.’ And thus, for the second time on this day, they had drawn on their own heads the humiliating necessity of publicly confessing their ignorance. They ‘did not know’ whether the Baptist was an Impostor or a Prophet; they ‘could not answer a word’ to a most obvious question as to the Messianic hope which they put forward as the very centre of their religion! Comp. Luke 14:6.

Verse 45

45. ἀκούοντοςπαντὸς τοῦ λαοῦ. ‘While all the people were listening.’ Here followed the final rupture of Jesus with the authorities—political, social, and religious—of His nation. They had now made their own condemnation inevitable, and had justly provoked that great Denunciation (Matthew 23) on which (as less intelligible to Gentiles) St Luke here only touches. But he has given it in part before (Luke 11:39-52).

Verse 46

46. θελόντων. In classical Greek this would rather have been expressed by φιλούντων, but in Hellenistic Greek θέλειν τι = delectarire, Winer, p. 587.

περιπατεῖν ἐν στολαῖς. With special conspicuousness of fringes, Numbers 15:38-40. “The supreme tribunal,” said R. Nachman, “will duly punish hypocrites who wrap their talliths round them to appear, what they are not, true Pharisees.”

ἀσπασμούς. See on Luke 11:43; Videri quam esse was their secret rule.

πρωτοκαθεδρίας. See Luke 14:17.

Verse 47

47. κατεσθίουσιν κ.τ.λ. Josephus tells us that the Pharisees had absolute sway in the women’s apartments, Jos. Antt. XVIII. 2, § 4. We know from mediæval history how common is the crime of these religious haeredipetae.

προφάσει. ‘In pretence.’ Their hypocrisy was so notorious that even the Talmud records the warning given by Alexander Jannaeus to his wife on his deathbed against painted Pharisees. And in their seven classes of Pharisees the Talmudic writers place “Shechemites”—Pharisees from self-interest; Stumblers—so mock-humble that they will not raise their feet from the ground; Bleeders—so mock-modest, that because they will not raise their eyes, they run against walls, &c. Thus the Jewish writers themselves depict the Pharisees as the Tartuffes of antiquity.

μακρὰ προσεύχονται. Such as the twenty-six forms of prayer at ablution; the Eighteen Benedictions (Shemoneh Esreh), &c.

κρίμα. ‘Judgment.’ The word is not even κατάκριμα, or ‘condemnation.’ Their ‘judgment’ shall be more severe than that of those who practised none of these religious ordinances.

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Bibliographical Information
"Commentary on Luke 20". "Cambridge Greek Testament for Schools and Colleges". 1896.