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Wednesday, June 12th, 2024
the Week of Proper 5 / Ordinary 10
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Bible Commentaries
Luke 24

Cambridge Greek Testament Commentary for Schools and CollegesCambridge Greek Testament Commentary

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Verses 1-99

Ch. 24:1 . Now ] Rather, But .

very early in the morning ] Literally, at deep dawn , i. e. at the earliest morning twilight, ‘while it was yet dark’ (John 20:1 ), though the sun began to rise before they reached the tomb (Mark 16:2 ). St John mentions only Mary of Magdala (20:1); St Matthew adds Mary, mother of James (28:1); St Mark adds Salome (16:1); and St Luke Joanna, vs. 10. They may have gone singly or in small groups, the Marys being separate from the others. There is no discrepancy in the different narratives, although, as we might have expected, they are fragmentary and seem to reflect the varied and tumultuous emotions of those who were the first to see the Lord. The Easter music, as Lange says, is not ‘a monotonous chorale’ but an impassioned fugue.

and certain others with them ] These words are probably spurious, not being in א , B, C, L.

2 12. Vision of Angels to the Women. Peter visits the Tomb

2 . they found the stone rolled away ] On their way they had considered how they should get over this difficulty, since the stone was “very great” (Mark 16:3 ). From St Mark’s expression, “looking up,” we infer that the tomb was slightly elevated; and from St John’s “lifted” ( ἠρμένον ) that the first aperture of the tomb was horizontal. St Matthew also tells us of the Angel and the Earthquake (28:2 4).

3 . found not the body ] Even advanced sceptics admit this circumstance as indisputable , nor has one of them been able to invent the most remotely plausible explanation of the fact by natural causes. For the white-robed angel or angels in the tomb, see Mark 16:5 ; John 20:11 , John 20:12 . On the mention, omission, and numbers of these angels Van Oosterzee quotes a very striking remark from Lessing. “Cold discrepancy-mongers, do ye not then see that the Evangelists do not count the angels?… There were not only two angels, there were millions of them. They appeared not always one and the same, not always the same two; sometimes this one appeared, sometimes that; sometimes on this place, sometimes on that; sometimes alone, sometimes in company; sometimes they said this, sometimes they said that.”

of the Lord Jesus ] These words are omitted in D. The combination ‘Lord Jesus’ would however naturally begin at this point, as it is common in the Acts and Epistles, where ‘Lord Jesus Christ’ occurs about 40 times, though not found in the Gospels.

4 . much perplexed ] The word means ‘utterly at a loss.’

in shining garments ] Literally, “ flashing as with lightning ,” which recalls the expression of Matthew 28:3 ; comp. 9:29.

5 . Why seek ye the living among the dead? ] Comp. Acts 1:11 . The expression “ the living ” is probably used on the lips of the angels with something of its true mystic depth. John 1:4 , John 5:26 , John 11:25 , John 20:31 .

6 . when he was yet in Galilee ] Matthew 17:22 , Matthew 17:23 .

9 . returned from the sepulchre ] Comp. Matthew 28:8 . From John 20:2 we infer that Mary of Magdala had, in the first instance, run from the sepulchre to tell Peter and John of the removal of the stone, and had therefore not seen the first vision of angels. The apparent contradiction in Mark 16:8 obviously means that they ‘said not one word on the subject to any one’ except the Apostles to whom they were expressly told to announce it (Matthew 28:7 ).

10 . and other women ] See 8:2, 3.

11 . as idle tales ] The strong word used ( lēros ) implies mere nonsensical talk.

believed them not ] The imperfect shews persistent incredulity; ‘they disbelieved them.’

12 . Then arose Peter ] For the fuller details see John 20:2-9 . It should be simply ‘ but Peter arose .’ The ‘but’ implies his readiness to believe. The presence of John, though omitted here, is implied in vs. 24. The verse is probably genuine, though omitted in D.

the linen clothes ] Othonia , a very general term, and perhaps including the linen bands in which the Body had been swathed in spices. Comp. John 20:6 , John 20:7 .

laid by themselves ] Important as incidentally refuting the story disseminated by the Jews (Matthew 28:11-15 ). Such a stealing of the body was on every ground impossible under the conditions, and had it been even possible could only have been a hurried and perilous work. Yet this absurd Jewish fiction was repeated and amplified twelve centuries later in the blasphemous Toldoth Jeshu .

departed, wondering in himself ] Rather, departed to his own house, wondering (comp. John 20:10 ). The surprise, the alarm, the perplexed incredulity of the Disciples, admitted by all the Evangelists alike, add force to those evidences which so absolutely convinced them of the miracle which they had never contemplated. The stunning blow of the Crucifixion had made them forget the prophecies of Jesus, which even at the time they had been unable to receive with any comprehension or conviction. (See 9:43 45; John 2:18-22 , 6:61 64, John 2:10 :17, John 2:18 , John 2:13 :31; Matthew 12:38-42 , 16:Matthew 12:13-27 , 17:Matthew 12:1-9 ; Mark 10:32-34 , &c.)

13 35. The Disciples at Emmaus

13 . two of them ] It is expressly implied in vs. 33 that they were not Apostles. One was Cleopas (an abbreviation of Cleopatros), of whom we know nothing, for the name is not the same as Clopas (=Alphaeus or Chalpai, John 19:25 ), though they may have been the same person (see on 6:15). The other is unknown, and unconjecturable. There is no shadow of probability that it was St Luke himself (Theophylact). This exquisite narrative is given by St Luke alone, though mentioned in Mark 16:12 , Mark 16:13 .

went ] Rather, were going .

a village called Emmaus, which was from Jerusalem about threescore furlongs ] Omit “ about ,” which has nothing to sanction it in the text. The distance (6½ miles) shews that Emmaus could not have been the Emmaus of 1 Macc. 3:40, 9:50, &c. (Amwâs or Nicopolis), which is 176 furlongs (22 miles) from Jerusalem, Jos. B. J. ii. 20, § 4, or the Galilaean Emmaus or “Hot Springs” (Jos. B. J. iv. 1, § 3, vii. 6, § 6). It may be the Emmaus of Jos. B. J. vii. 6, § 6 ( Kulonieh Succah, iv. 5), which according to one reading was 60 furlongs from Jerusalem. Had the Emmaus been 160 furlongs distant (as in the reading of א , I, K, N, &c.) they could not have returned the same evening to Jerusalem.

15 . Jesus himself drew near ] A beautiful illustration of the promise in Matthew 18:20 .

16 . that they should not know him ] Rather, recognise Him . There are two other instances of the same remarkable fact. Mary of Magdala did not recognise Him (John 20:14 ), nor the disciples on the Lake (John 21:4 ). The same thing is evidently implied in vs. 37 and in Matthew 28:17 ; and it exactly accords with the clear indications that the Resurrection Body of our Lord was a Glorified Body of which the conditions transcended those of ordinary mortality. It is emphasized in Mark 16:12 , where we are told that He was manifested in a different form from that which He had worn before.

17 . that ye have one to another ] Literally, “ cast to and fro .”

and are sad ] The true reading seems to be and they stood still ( estathesan , א , A, B, and some ancient versions; estesan , L), looking sad . They stopped short, displeased at the unwelcome, and possibly perilous, intrusion of a stranger into their conversation.

18 . whose name was Cleopas ] See on vs. 13. The mention of so entirely obscure a name alone proves that the story is not an invention. Pii non sua sed aliorum causa memorantur . Bengel.

Art thou only a stranger in Jerusalem ] Rather, Dost thou live alone as a stranger in Jerusalem ; art thou some lonely sojourner in Jerusalem, come from a distance?

19 . a prophet, mighty in deed and word ] See a remarkable parallel to this description in Acts 2:22 .

21 . we trusted ] This would imply that now their hope was dimmed, if not quenched. This perhaps led to the reading ‘ we trust ’ ( elpizomen for ēlpizomen ) in א and some inferior MSS., which Alford calls a “ correction for decorum .”

which should have redeemed Israel ] The form of the expected redemption is explained in Acts 1:6 .

to day is the third day ] The words might be literally rendered ‘He is leading this third day.’ The expression seems to imply, ‘if there had been any hope it would have been confirmed before now.’

23 . which said ] Rather, which say . This mention of a sort of double hearsay (‘women saying of angels who say ’) shews the extreme hesitation which appears throughout the narrative.

24 . but him they saw not ] This phrase most naturally and tenderly expresses their incredulity and sorrow. It also shews how impossible is the sceptical theory that the Disciples were misled by hallucinations. “ Les hallucinés ,” says Bersier, “parlent en hallucinés ;” but against any blind enthusiasms we see that the Apostles and Disciples were most suspiciously on their guard. They accepted nothing short of most rigid proof.

25 . O fools ] The expression is much too strong. It is not the word aphrones (see 11:40), but anoetoi , ‘foolish,’ ‘unintelligent.’ (Galatians 3:1 .)

26 . ought not Christ to have suffered ] Rather, the Christ . It was a divine necessity ( ouchi edei ?), Matthew 26:54 ; John 12:24 , John 12:32 , 11:49 52; Acts 17:3 ; 1 Peter 1:10 , 1 Peter 1:11 . Thus St Luke mainly dwells on the Resurrection as a spiritual necessity; St Mark as a great fact; St Matthew as a glorious and majestic manifestation; and St John in its effects on the minds of the members of the Church. (Westcott.)

27 . beginning at Moses ] The promise to Eve (Genesis 3:15 ); the promise to Abraham (Genesis 22:18 ); the Paschal Lamb (Exodus 12:0 ); the Scapegoat (Leviticus 16:1-34 ); the brazen serpent (Numbers 21:9 ); the greater Prophet (Deuteronomy 18:15 ); and the star and sceptre (Numbers 24:17 ); the smitten rock (Numbers 20:11 ; 1 Corinthians 10:4 ), &c.

and all the prophets ] Immanuel, Isaiah 7:14 . “Unto us a Child is born, &c.” Isaiah 9:6 , Isaiah 9:7 . The Good Shepherd, Isaiah 40:10 , Isaiah 40:11 . The Meek Sufferer, Isaiah 50:6 . He who bore our griefs, Isaiah 53:4 , Isaiah 53:5 . The Branch, Jeremiah 23:5 , Jeremiah 23:33 :14, Jeremiah 23:15 . The heir of David, Ezekiel 34:23 . The Ruler from Bethlehem, Micah 5:2 . The Branch, Zechariah 6:12 . The lowly King, Zechariah 9:9 . The pierced Victim, Zechariah 12:10 . The smitten Shepherd, Zechariah 13:7 . The Messenger of the Covenant, Malachi 3:1 . The Sun of Righteousness, Malachi 4:2 ; and many other passages. Dr Davison, in his admirable and standard book on Prophecy, pp. 266 287, shews that there is not one of the Prophets without some distinct reference to Christ except Nahum, Jonah (who was himself a type and Prophetic Sign), and Habakkuk, who however uses the memorable words quoted in Romans 1:17 . The expression is important, as shewing the prevalently Messianic character of the Old Testament; for of course we cannot suppose that our Lord went through each prophet separately, but only that He pointed out “the tenor of the Old Testament in its ethical and symbolical character.”

in all the scriptures ] fragmentarily ( polumerōs ) and multifariously ( polutropōs ), Hebrews 1:1 , e. g. in the Psalms passim, and in the types of Joshua, &c.

28 . he made as though he would have gone further ] Rather, would go . It is of course implied that He would have gone further, but for the strong pressure of their entreaty. Comp. Mark 6:48 . We learn from these passages how needful it is to win Christ’s Presence by praying for it.

29 . Abide with us ] It is this beautiful verse which has furnished the idea of Lyte’s dying hymn, ‘Abide with me, fast falls the eventide.’

he went in to tarry with them ] Comp. Hebrews 13:2 , “thereby some have entertained angels unawares.”

30 . he took bread, and blessed it, and brake, and gave to them ] Rather, the bread . Comp. 22:19. Our Lord seems, by a kind of natural authority, to have assumed the position of host; which shews that they were at an inn.

31 . he vanished ] See on vs. 16.

32 . Did not our heart burn ] Rather, Was not our heart burning ?

while he talked with us ] Rather, to us . “Never man spake like this man,” John 7:46 .

33 . and returned to Jerusalem ] “They fear no longer the night journey from which they had dissuaded their unknown companion.” Bengel.

34 . hath appeared to Simon ] The same appearance, to Simon alone, is mentioned in 1 Corinthians 15:5 , but there is not even a tradition as to the details. (The passage in 1 Corinthians 15:4-8 is the earliest written allusion to the facts of the Resurrection.)

35 . in breaking of bread ] Rather, in the breaking of the bread . The alteration is important as giving to the act a sacramental character. It has been objected that Cleopas and his companion, not being Apostles, had not been present at the institution of the Lord’s Supper; but this was by no means the only occasion on which Christ had solemnly broken bread and blessed it (see 9:16). St Mark adds that some of the disciples received even this narrative with distrust (16:13), which once more proves that, so far from being heated enthusiasts ready to accept any hallucination, they shewed on the contrary a most cautious reluctance in accepting even the most circumstantial evidence.

The young reader will be glad to see a part of the beautiful passage of Cowper on this scene:

“It happen’d on a solemn eventide

Soon after He who was our surety died,

Two bosom friends, each pensively inclined,

The scene of all those sorrows left behind,

Sought their own village, busied as they went

In musings worthy of this great event.

They spake of Him they loved, of Him whose life,

Though blameless, had incurred perpetual strife.

Ere yet they brought their journey to an end

A stranger joined them, courteous as a friend,

And asked them with a kind engaging air

What their affliction was, and begged a share.

He blessed the bread, but vanished at the word,

And left them both exclaiming, ’Twas the Lord!

Did not our hearts feel all He deigned to say,

Did not they burn within us by the way?”

Conversation .

36 49. Appearance of Jesus to the Apostles

36 . stood in the midst of them ] The words imply a sudden appearance. The Eleven, with the exception of Thomas the Twin, were sitting at supper with the doors closed through their fear of the Jews (John 20:19 ). This is one of the most remarkable appearances of the Risen Christ. His intercourse with them on this occasion consisted of a greeting (36); a reproach and consolation (38; Mark 16:14 ); a demonstration of the reality of His person (39 43; John 20:20 ); an opening of their understandings (44 46); an appointment of the Apostles to the ministries of remission and witness (47, 48; John 19:21 , John 19:23 ); a promise of the Spirit, for the fulfilment of which they were to wait in Jerusalem (49). At the close of this great scene He once more pronounced the benediction of Peace, and breathed on them with the words ‘Receive the Holy Spirit’ (John 20:22 ). It is doubtless the extreme fulness with which St Luke has narrated this appearance which led him in accordance with his economy of method to omit some of the other appearances.

37 . terrified ] Literally, “ scared .”

that they had seen a spirit ] Rather, that they were gazing on a spirit . See on vs. 16.

38 . thoughts ] Rather, reasonings .

39 . handle me, and see ] Psēlaphēsate ; “which we have looked upon and our hands have handled ( epsēlaphēsan ) of the Word of Life,” 1 John 1:1 ; comp. John 20:20 , John 20:27 . For other uses of the word see Acts 17:27 ; Hebrews 12:18 .

hath not flesh and bones ] “I am not a bodiless spirit” are words attributed to Him in Ignatius ( ad Smyrn . 3). Clemens of Alexandria has preserved a curious, but utterly baseless, legend, that St John, touching the body, found that his hands passed through it. From the omission of “blood” with “flesh and bones” very precarious inferences have been drawn.

40 . and his feet ] which must therefore have been pierced , and not merely tied to the Cross.

41 . believed not for joy ] One of the psychological touches of which St Luke is fond, and profoundly true to nature (comp. Liv. xxxix. 49).

any meat ] Rather, anything to eat ; see on 3:11, 8:55.

42 . a piece of a broiled fish ] A meal of fish at Jerusalem might surprise us, if we did not learn from the Talmud that it was regularly supplied from the inexhaustible stores of the Lake of Gennesareth ( Life of Christ , i. 142).

and of a honeycomb ] Omitted in א , A, B, D, L, &c.

43 . and did eat before them ] This was one of the ‘infallible proofs’ appealed to in Acts 1:3 ; comp. John 21:12 , John 21:13 ; “who did eat and drink with Him after He rose from the dead,” Acts 10:41 . Jerome ( adv. Pelag . ii.) mentions a strange addition in some MSS., viz. that the disciples said that ‘the wickedness and incredulity of the age is a substance which does not permit the true virtue of God to be apprehended through impure spirits; therefore even now reveal Thy justice.’ A few MSS. and versions here add, ‘and gave them the remains.’

44 . These are the words ] i. e. this is the meaning of the words.

which I spake unto you ] 18:31; Matthew 16:21 .

while I was yet with you ] Important as shewing that the forty days between the Resurrection and the Ascension were not intended to be a continuous sojourn with the Disciples, or an integral portion of the Lord’s human life.

which were written ] See on vss. 26, 27.

the law … the prophets … the psalms ] This corresponds with the (possibly later) Jewish division of the Old Testament into the Pentateuch, Prophets, and Ketubhim (Hagiographa).

45 . opened he their understanding ] Spiritual things can only be spiritually discerned, 1 Corinthians 2:10-13 . On this most important truth see Matthew 11:27 , Matthew 11:13 :11, Matthew 11:16 :17; John 16:13 ; Acts 16:14 . “Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law,” Psalms 119:18 .

that they might understand the scriptures ] Hence the power with which they till this time so dull and slow of heart henceforth explained them, Acts 1:16 , Acts 1:20 , Acts 1:2 :16, Acts 1:25 , &c.

46 . and thus it behoved Christ to suffer ] Read, thus it is written that the Christ should suffer , א , B, C, D, L.

47 . remission of sins ] See on 1:77. “Your sins are forgiven you for His name’s sake,” and 1 John 2:12 .

among all nations ] See Genesis 12:3 , “all families of the earth.” Psalms 22:27 , “all kindreds of the nations.” Isaiah 49:6 , “a light to the Gentiles,” &c. See on 2:32.

beginning at Jerusalem ] “For out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem,” Isaiah 2:3 ; Micah 4:2 .

48 . ye are witnesses ] John 15:27 . How prominent in the minds of the Apostles was this ministry of witness may be seen from Acts 1:8 , Acts 1:2 :32, Acts 1:3 :15, Acts 1:4 :33, 5:30 32, &c.

49 . the promise of my Father ] both in the Prophecies of the Old Testament (Isaiah 44:3 ; Ezekiel 36:26 ; Joel 2:28 ) and by His own mouth (John 14:16 , John 14:17 , John 14:20 , John 14:15 :26, John 14:16 :7). Comp. Acts 1:4 , Acts 1:5 , Acts 1:8 . It is difficult not to see in this expression a distinct allusion to the discourses which are recorded by St John alone.

until ye be endued ] Rather, until ye put on the garment of . For the metaphor see Romans 13:14 ; Ephesians 4:24 , &c. We are unclothed till we receive heavenly gifts. “They had been washed (John 15:3 ), now the clothing is promised.” Bengel.

There are ten recorded appearances of the Risen Christ (including that at the Ascension), of which St Luke only narrates three (the 4th, 5th, and 10th), though he alludes to others (e. g. the 3rd). They are

1. To Mary of Magdala. John 20:11-17 (‘ Noli me tangere ’); Mark 16:9 .

2. To other women, who adore Him. Matthew 28:9 , Matthew 28:10 .

3. To Peter. Luke 24:34 ; 1 Corinthians 15:5 .

4. To the Disciples on the way to Emmaus. Luke 24:13-35 ; Mark 16:12 , Mark 16:13 .

5. To ten Apostles and others. Luke 24:36-49 ; John 20:19-23 ; Mark 16:14 .

6. To the Eleven Apostles. The incredulity of Thomas removed. John 20:26-29 .

7. To seven Apostles at the Lake of Galilee. John 21:1-24 .

8. To five hundred on a hill of Galilee. Matthew 28:16-20 ; Mark 16:15-18 ; 1 Corinthians 15:6 .

9. To James, the Lord’s brother. 1 Corinthians 15:7 .

10. Before the Ascension. Luke 24:50 , Luke 24:51 ; Acts 1:6-9 .

Since more Appearances of the Risen Christ than those here narrated were well known to St Paul (1 Corinthians 15:5-7 ), it may be regarded as certain that they were known also to St Luke. If he here omits them it must be borne in mind (i) that neither he nor any of the Evangelists profess to furnish a complete narrative; (2) that St Luke especially shews a certain ‘economy’ (as has been already pointed out) in only narrating typical incidents; (iii) that he is here hastening to the close of his Gospel; and (iv) that he has other particulars to add in the Acts of the Apostles.

50 53. The Ascension

50 . he led them out ] Not of course at the conclusion of the last scene, but at the end of the forty days, Acts 1:3 .

as far as to Bethany ] Rather, as for as towards Bethany ( pros , א B, C, D, &c.). The traditional scene of the Ascension is the central summit of the Mount of Olives ( Jebel et-Tur ); but it is far more probable that it took place in one of the secluded uplands which lie about the village. See a beautiful passage in Dean Stanley’s Sinai and Palestine ) ch. iii.

51 . he was parted from them ] “A cloud received Him out of their sight,” Acts 1:9 . The original however conveys a clearer impression. He stood apart from them (aorist) and was gradually borne into heaven . The latter words are not found in א , D.

carried up into heaven ] See Ephesians 4:8 . The withdrawal of His Bodily Presence preceded His Spiritual Omnipresence. The omission of the Ascension by St Matthew and St John would be more remarkable if it was not assumed by them both (John 3:13 , John 3:6 :62, John 3:20 :17; Matthew 24:30 ).

52 . returned to Jerusalem ] For fuller details see Acts 1:3-12 .

with great joy ] as Jesus had promised (John 16:20 , John 16:22 ). It is remarkable that they shewed great joy now that they were losing for ever the earthly presence of their Lord. It shews their faith in the promise that His spiritual presence should be even nearer and more precious (John 14:28 , John 16:7 ).

53 . continually in the temple ] This expression is one of the links between the Gospel and the Acts (see Acts 2:46 , Acts 2:3 :1, &c.).

praising and blessing God ] Acts 2:46 , Acts 5:42 . ‘Praise is the fruit of joy.’ A characteristic close in accordance with the usual spirit of St Luke. See Introd. p. 24, and 2:20, 5:25, 7:16, 13:13, 17:15, 18:43, 23:47.

Amen ] Probably a liturgical addition, as it is omitted in א , C, D, L, &c. “The Ascension,” says Godet, “realises in the person of the Risen Son of Man the design of God towards Humanity.” That divinely-foreordained purpose ( prothesis ) was to make of sanctified believers a Family of God’s children like His only Son. Romans 8:28 , Romans 8:29 ; Ephesians 2:6 ; Hebrews 2:10 . The work of Christ is continued by the Church, enlightened by the Spirit of God at Pentecost, and awaiting its perfection at the Second Advent. “Since then salvation involves these three things Grace, Holiness, Glory, each Gospel, especially that of St Luke, requires, as its second volume, the Acts; as its third, the Revelation of St John.”

Excursus I

On the Meaning of ἐν τοῖς τοῦ πατρός μου in Luke 2:49; Luke 2:49 (the first recorded Words of Jesus)

In my Life of Christ (i. 78) I deliberately adopted the rendering of the English Version, but my view of the meaning has since been changed by a monograph kindly sent me by the Rev. Dr Field of Norwich, from which I here borrow some illustrations.

It might seem that the words lose something of their force and beauty by the adoption of the rendering “ in my Father’s house ;” but we must remember (1) that they are the words of a young and guileless Boy who was “subject unto his parents;” (2) that they must be interpreted with reference to their context . Joseph and his mother might have known that He would be “about His Father’s business ” without knowing where He was . The answer had reference to His mother’s gentle reproach about their agonising search for Him. His answer is “Why this search? might you not have conjectured that I was in my Father’s House ?” The other meaning would therefore be less appropriate. It is also less supported. We have no exact instance of ἐν τοῖς τινος εἶναι meaning “to be about a person’s business,” though we have something like it, e. g. 1 Timothy 4:15 ἐν τούτοις ἴσθι , and the Latin “ totus in illis .” This idiom seems however to imply an absolute absorption which is not here intended. If the word ὅλος had been added the sense and the idiom would indeed have been clear, and there would have been a distant analogy to the phrase employed in the story that when the young Alexander talked with the Persian Ambassadors he did not ask about the Golden Vine, the king’s dress, &c. but “was entirely occupied with the most important matters of the government” ( ὅλος ἐν τοῖς κυριωτάτοις ἦν τῆς ἡγεμονίας ), so that the strangers were amazed ( ἐκπεπλῆχθαι ), Plut. ii. 342. But had our Lord meant to say ‘Know ye not that I must be absorbed in my Father’s work ?’ He would have expressed His meaning less ambiguously, and if He spoke in Aramaic those who recorded the sentence in Greek would hardly have left the meaning doubtful. On the other hand “in my Father’s House” is the ordinary and natural meaning of the words. Oikēmasi or dōmasi might be understood, but in fact the article alone ta , ‘the things or belongings of was colloquially used in this sense; e. g. ᾆ τὰ Λύκωνος (Theocr. ii. 76), ‘where Lycon’s house is;’ εἰς τὰ τοῦ ἀδελφοῦ , ‘into my brother’s’ (Lysias c. Eratosth. p. 195), ἐν τοῖς τοῦ δεσπότου ἑαυτοῦ εἶναι αὐτὸν ἀνάγκη ) (Chrysost. Hom. lii. in Gen. ), ‘wherever he may chance to go he must be in his Master’s house.’ Esther 7:9 , ἐν τοῖς Ἀμὰν , ‘in Haman’s house;’ (LXX.) Job 18:20 , ἐν τοῖς αὐτοῦ ζήσονται ἕτεροι , ‘others shall live in his house . See too Genesis 41:51 , LXX. In this interpretation the Vulgate, Arabic, Ethiopic, and Peshito Syriac concur, as do Origen, Theophylact, Euthymius, Epiphanius, and Theodoret.

But it may be asked ‘may we not admit both meanings, one as primary and one as secondary?’ This is the view adopted by Alford and others; but I agree with Dr Field in the remark that “it is certain that only one of the meanings was in the mind of the artless Child from whose lips they fell, and that that meaning” (so far as the mere significance of the words was concerned) “was rightly apprehended by those who heard them.”

excursus ii

The Double Genealogies of Christ as the Son of David

The general facts are these:

(i) The genealogy of our Lord in St Matthew descends from Abraham to Jesus, in accordance with his object in writing mainly for the Jews.

The genealogy in St Luke ascends from Jesus to Adam , and to God, in accordance with his object in writing for the world in general. He spans the generations of mankind from the first Adam to the Second Adam, who was the Lord from heaven (1 Corinthians 15:20 , 1 Corinthians 15:45 , 1 Corinthians 15:47 ).

(ii) The generations are introduced in St Matthew by the word “ begat ;” in St Luke by the genitive with the ellipse of “son.” Thus in St Matthew we have

Abraham begat Isaac,

And Isaac begat Jacob, &c.;

but in St Luke

Being the son (as was reputed) of Joseph, (The son) of Eli of Matthat, &c.

(iii) St Matthew says that St Luke (merely reversing the order) traces the line through David begat Solomon










Jehoram [Ahaziah. Joash, Amziah omitted]
















Jeconiah and his brethren





[Ahaziah. Joash, Amziah omitted] David













































(in 1 Chronicles 3:19 we find Pedaiah, who was perhaps the actual father; Shealtiel may have adopted his nephew 1 1 Some authorities maintain that Zerubbabel was the grandson of Shealtiel, and that we have six sons of Shealtiel in 1 Chron. 3:18. ). Thus St Luke gives 21 names between David and Zerubbabel where St Matthew only gives 15, and all the names except that of Shealtiel (Salathiel) are different.

(iv) St Matthew says that St Luke traces the line through Zerubbabel begat Abihud


















Joseph Zerubbabel




































Joseph [Rhesa]

(Hananiah, 1 Chronicles 3:19 ).

(Abihud of Matthew, Hodaiah of 1 Chronicles 3:24 ). Thus it will be seen that St Luke gives 17 generations between Zerubbabel and Joseph, where St Matthew only gives 9, and all the names are different.

The two main difficulties then which we have to meet are

( α ) The difference in the number of the generations;

( β ) The difficulties in the dissimilarity of the names.

( α ) The difficulty as to the number of the generations is not serious, because (1) it is a matter of daily experience that the number of generations in one line often increases far more rapidly than that in another; but also because (2) St Matthew has arranged his genealogies in an arbitrary numerical division of tesseradecads (for the manner in which these tesseradecads are arranged the student must refer to commentaries on St Matthew), and because nothing was more common among the Jews than the adoption of this symmetrical method, at which they arrived by the free omission of generations, provided that the fact of the succession remained undoubted. Thus in 2 Chronicles 22:9 “son” stands for “grandson,” and Ezra (in Ezra 7:1-5 ) omits no less than seven steps in his own pedigree, and among them his own father, which steps are preserved in 1 Chronicles 6:3-15 .

( β ) The difficulty as to the dissimilarity of names will of course only affect the two steps of the genealogies at which they begin to diverge, before they again coalesce in the names of Shealtiel and of Joseph.

One of the commonest ways of meeting the difficulty has been to suppose that St Luke is giving the genealogy not of Joseph but of Mary the genealogy of Christ by actual birth , not by legal claim.

This solution (first suggested by Annius of Viterbo at the close of the 15th century), though still adopted by some learned men, must be rejected, (1) because there is no trace that the Jews recognised the genealogies of women as constituting a legal right for their sons; and (2) because it would do the strongest violence to the language of St Luke to make it mean ‘Being, as was reputed, the son of Joseph [ but really the son of Mary, who was the daughter ] of Eli, &c.’

We must therefore regard it as certain that both genealogies are genealogies of Joseph adduced to prove that in the eye of the Jewish law Jesus was of the House of David. The question is not what we should have expected about the matter, but what is actually the case.

A. First then, how can Joseph be called in St Matthew the son of Jacob, in St Luke the son of Eli?

( α ) An ancient explanation was that Matthan, a descendant of David in the line of Solomon (as given by St Matthew) was the husband of a woman named Estha, and became the father of Jacob; on his death his widow Estha married Melchi, a descendant of David in the line of Nathan (as given by St Luke), and had a son named Eli. Eli, it is said, died childless, and Jacob, his half-brother, in accordance with the law of levirate 1 1 So called from the Latin word levir , ‘a brother-in-law.’ marriages (Deuteronomy 25:5 , Deuteronomy 25:6 ; Matthew 22:23-27 ), took his widow to wife, and became the father of Joseph. Thus

St Luke might naturally give the latter genealogy because it would be the one recognised by Romans, with whom the notion of legal as distinguished from natural sonship was peculiarly strong. This solution derives very great authority from the fact that it is preserved for us by Eusebius ( H. E. i. 7) from a letter of Julius Africanus, a Christian writer who lived in Palestine in the third century, and who professed to derive it from private memoranda preserved by ‘the Desposyni’ or kindred of the Lord .

( β ) But the difficulty about this view not to mention the strange omission of Levi and Matthat, which may be possibly due to some transposition is that St Matthew’s genealogy will then be partly legal (as in calling Shealtiel the son of Jeconiah) and partly natural (in calling Joseph the son of Jacob). But perhaps (since Jul. Africanus does not vouch for the exact details ) there was so far a confusion that it was Jacob who was childless, and Eli who became by a levirate marriage the father of Joseph. If this be so, then St Matthew’s is throughout the legal, and St Luke’s throughout the natural genealogy. Even without the supposition of a levirate marriage, if Jacob were childless then Joseph, the son of his younger brother Eli, would become heir to his claims. The tradition mentioned may point in the direction of the true solution even if the details are inexact.

( γ ) We may here add that though the Virgin’s genealogy is not given ( οὐκ ἐγενεαλογήθη ἡ παρθένος , S. Chrys.), yet her Davidic descent is assumed by the sacred writers (Luke 1:32 ; Acts 2:30 , Acts 2:13 :23; Romans 1:3 , &c.), and was in all probability involved in that of her husband. How this was we cannot say with certainty, but if we accept the tradition which has just been mentioned it is not impossible that Mary may have been a daughter of Eli (as is stated in an obscure Jewish legend, Lightfoot, Hor. Hebr. ad loc.) or of Jacob, and may have married her cousin Joseph jure agnationis . At any rate we have decisive and independent proof that the Davidic descent of our Lord was recognised by the Jews . They never attempted to avert the jealousy of the Romans about the royal descent of the Desposyni (Euseb. H. E. i. 7), and Rabbi Ulla (circ. 210) says that “Jesus was exceptionally treated because of royal descent ” (T. B. Sanhedr . 43 a , Amsterdam ed., see Derenbourg, Palest . p. 349. But it is possible that the words mean ‘influential with the (Roman) government’).

B. We have now to explain why St Matthew says that Shealtiel (Salathiel) was the son of Jeconiah , while St Luke says that he was the son of Neriah .

The old suggestion that the Zerubbabel and Shealtiel of St Luke are different persons from those of St Matthew may be set aside at once. But the true answer seems to be that Jehoiachin (Jeconiah) was either actually childless , as was so emphatically prophesied by Jeremiah 22:24-30 , or that, at any rate, his children (if he ever had any, as seems possible from vs. 28; 1 Chronicles 3:17-19 ; and Jos. Antt. x. 11, § 2) died childless in Babylon. It is true that the word rendered ‘childless’ ( עֲרִירִי ) may mean ‘forlorn’ or ‘naked;’ but the other is the more natural meaning of the word, and so it was understood by the Jews, who however supposed that, after a long captivity, he repented and the curse was removed. Setting aside this mere conjecture, it seems probable that Jeconiah was, or became, absolutely childless, and that therefore in the 37 th year of his captivity he adopted a son to preserve his race from extinction. His choice however was limited. Daniel and others of the seed royal were eunuchs in the palace of the King of Babylon (Daniel 1:3 ; 2 Kings 20:16 ), and Ishmael and others were excluded by their murder of Gedaliah; to say nothing of the fact that the royal line had been remorselessly mown down by Jehu and by Athaliah. He therefore adopted the seven sons of Neri, the twentieth from David in the line of Nathan. We seem to have an actual intimation of this in Zechariah 12:12 , where “ the family of Nathan apart ” is commemorated as well as “the family of David apart” because of the splendid Messianic prerogative which they thus obtained. And this is remarkably confirmed by Rabbi Shimeon Ben Jochai in the Zohar , where he speaks of Nathan, the son of David, as the father of Messiah the Comforter (because Menachem, ‘comforter,’ stands numerically for 138, which is the numerical value of the letters of Tsemach , ‘the Branch’). Hence too Hephzibah, the wife of Nathan, is called the mother of the Messiah. (See Schöttgen, Hor. Hebr. on i. 31.)

The failure of the Messianic promise in the direct natural line of Solomon is no difficulty in the way of this hypothesis, since while the promise to David was absolute (2 Samuel 7:12 ) that to Solomon was conditional (1 Kings 9:4 , 1 Kings 9:5 ).

If these very simple and probable hypotheses be accepted no difficulty remains; and this at least is certain that no error can be demonstrated. A single adoption, and a single levirate marriage , account for the apparent discrepancies. St Matthew gives the legal descent through a line of Kings descended from Solomon the jus successions ; St Luke the natural descent the jus sanguinis . St Matthew’s is a royal, St Luke’s a natural pedigree. It is a confirmation of this view that in Joseph’s private and real genealogy we find the names Joseph and Nathan recurring (with slight modifications like Matthat, &c.) no less than seven times. That there must be some solution of this kind is indeed self-evident, for if the desire had been to invent a genealogy no one would have neglected a genealogy deduced through a line of kings.

C. i. We need only further notice that in vs. 27 the true translation probably is “ the son of the Rhesa Zerubbabel.” Rhesa is not a proper name, but a Chaldee title meaning ‘Prince.’ Thus the head of the Captivity is always known by Jewish writers as the Resh Galootha .

ii. In vs. 32 we have only three generations Boaz, Obed, Jesse between Salmon and David; a decisive proof that the common chronology is wrong in supposing that more than four hundred years elapsed between the conquest of Canaan and David.

iii. In vs. 24 the Matthat is perhaps identical with the Matthan of Matthew 1:15 ; if so the line recorded by St Matthew may have failed at Eliezer, and Matthan, the lineal descendant of a younger branch, would then be his heir.

iv. In vs. 36 the Cainan (who must be distinguished from the Cainan of vs. 37) is possibly introduced by mistake. The name, though found in this place of the genealogy in the LXX., is not found in any Hebrew MS. of the O. T., nor in the Samaritan, Chaldee, and Syriac versions (Genesis 11:12 ; 1 Chronicles 1:24 ). It is omitted in the Codex Bezae (D), and there is some evidence that it was unknown to Irenaeus.

v. The difference between the two genealogies thus given without a word of explanation constitutes a strong probability that neither Evangelist had seen the work of the other.

The conclusions arrived at as probable may be thus summarized.

David’s line through Solomon failed in Jeconiah, who therefore adopted Shealtiel, the descendant of David’s line through Nathan .

(Shealtiel being also childless adopted Zerubbabel, son of his brother Pedaiah, 1 Chronicles 3:17-19 .)

Zerubbabel’s grandson, Abihud (Matt.), Judah (Lk.), or Hodaiah (1 Chr.) for the three names are only modifications of one another had two sons, Eliakim (Matt.) and Joseph (Lk.).

Eliakim’s line failed in Eliezer; and thus Matthan or Matthat became his legal heir.

This Matthan had two sons, Jacob the father of Mary, and Eli the father of Joseph; and Jacob having no son adopted Joseph his heir and nephew.

It is true that these suggestions are not capable of rigid demonstration, but ( α ) they are entirely in accordance with Jewish customs; ( β ) there are independent reasons which shew that they are probable; ( γ ) no other hypotheses are adequate to account for the early existence of a double genealogy in Christian circles.

Excursus III

On putting New ( νέον ) Wine into Fresh ( καινοὺς ) Bottles

It is usually considered a sufficient explanation of this passage to say that the ‘bottles’ of the ancients were skins, and not bottles of glass; and that whereas fermenting wine would burst old, worn, and sun-cracked skins, it would only distend new skins.

It is exceedingly doubtful whether such an explanation is tenable.

α . It is quite true that the ‘bottles’ of the East were skins, as the Greek word askos implies. 1 1 The root is sk , found also in skin . They are still made in the East exactly as they used to be made thousands of years ago, by skinning an animal from the neck, cutting off the head and legs, and drawing off the skin without making a slit in the belly. The legs and neck are then tightly tied and sewn up, and the skin with the hair on it is steeped in tannin and pitched at the sutures (Tristram, Nat. Hist. Bib. , p. 92).

β . It is also quite true that ‘wine’ must here mean the juice of the grape which has not yet fermented, ‘ must ,’ as this explanation implies. For ‘ still wine ’ wine after fermentation may be put in any bottles whether old or new. It has no tendency to burst the bottles that contain it.

γ . But unfermented wine which was intended to ferment certainly could not be kept in any kind of leather bottle whether old or new. The fermentation would split open the sutures of the leather, however new the bottle was.

δ . It seems, therefore, to be a very probable conclusion that our Lord is not thinking at all of fermented, intoxicating wine, but of ‘ must ’ the liquid which the Greeks called ἀεὶ γλεῦκος tuns of which are kept for years in France, and in the East; which (as is here stated) improves by age; which is a rich and refreshing, but non-intoxicating beverage; and which might be kept with perfect safety in new leather bottles .

ε . Why, then, would it be unsafe to put the must in old bottles?

Because if the old bottles had contained ‘wine’ in the ordinary sense i. e. the fermented juice of the grape or other materials, “minute portions of albuminoid matter would be left adhering to the skin, and receive yeast germs from the air, and keep them in readiness to set up fermentation in the new unfermented contents of the skin.… As soon as the unfermented grape-juice was introduced, the yeast germs would begin to grow in the sugar and to develop carbonic dioxide. If the must contained one-fifth sugar it would develop 47 times its volume of gas, and produce an enormous pressure which no bottle, new or old, could withstand.”

Unless, therefore, some other explanation can be produced, it is at least possible if not most probable that our Lord, in speaking of ‘wine,’ here means must .

Thus much is at any rate certain: the conditions of our Lord’s comparison are not fulfilled either by fermented wine, or by grape-juice intended for fermentation. Fermented wine could be kept as well in old bottles as in new; and grape-juice intended to ferment would burst far stronger receptacles than the newest leathern bottle. See Job 32:19 . “The rending force of the pent-up gas would burst even the strongest iron-bound cask.” When fermentation is intended, it goes on in the wine-vat.

Columella, an almost contemporary Latin writer, describing the then common process of preserving grape-juice in the form of unfermented must , lays the same stress on its being put into a new amphora .

Excursus IV

On the Meaning of EPIOUSION in Luke 11:3

After the very learned and elaborate examination to which the word has been subjected by Bishop Lightfoot, On Revision 195 234, and Dr M c Clellan, New Testament 632 647, it will be sufficient here to touch on their conclusions.

This word was so rare that even learned Greek Fathers like Origen considered that it had been invented by the Evangelists and were uncertain as to its meaning. It is even still a dispute whether it has a temporal or a qualitative meaning, i. e. whether it means

i. bread for the day , in one of the subordinate senses of α . continual or β . future : or

ii. for our subsistence , whether α . physical, or β . spiritual : or again (giving to epi the sense of ‘upon,’ i. e. ‘in addition to’) whether it meant

iii. beyond other substances , implying either α . ‘ supersubstantial ,’ i. e. preeminent, or β . consubstantial .

The meanings suggested under iii. may be at once dismissed as the mere artificial ‘afterthoughts of theology.’

The decision depends partly on the etymology. It has been thought that the word may be derived from epi and ienai , or from epi and ousia .

It seems however an insuperable objection to the latter etymology that it has the form epiousios not epousios , and with the etymology fall the meanings suggested under ii., i. e. bread for our physical , or spiritual , subsistence.

If then the word be derived from epi and ienai it comes either from ( ho ) epiōn ( chronos ) or ( he ) epiousa ( hemera ). In either case it would mean ‘bread for the coming day,’ i. e. for to-morrow, or for to-day; and Bishop Lightfoot brings some evidence to shew that this was the sense accepted by the Church till the more mystical sense was supported by Origen. He sums up his essay by the words “Thus the familiar rendering ‘daily’ which has prevailed uninterruptedly in the Western Church from the beginning is a fairly adequate representation of the original; nor indeed does the English language furnish any one word which would answer the purpose so well” (p. 234). On the other hand Dr M c Clellan, as the result of another exhaustive criticism, decides on the meaning “ proper to the future world ,” and would render it “ needful ,” an interpretation which he argues that “etymology, original tradition, sense and context unite in establishing” (p. 646). He would therefore take it in the sense of “Give us day by day our bread of Life Eternal .”

May we not however suppose that our Lord mentally referred to Proverbs 30:8 , “Feed me with food convenient for me,” LXX. σύνταξον δέ μοι τὰ δέοντα καὶ τὰ αὐτάρκη ? If so the simpler and more obvious meaning is to be preferred.

But I may observe in conclusion that practically the difference is nothing: for in uttering the prayer whichever sense the Christian may attach to the adjective he will certainly include the spiritual sense in using the word “bread” (John 6:51 ).

Excursus V. On 22:7

Was the Last Supper an actual Passover?

The question whether, before the institution of the Lord’s Supper, our Lord and His Disciples ate the usual Jewish Passover in other words, whether in the year of the Crucifixion the ordinary Jewish Passover (Nisan 15) began on the evening of Thursday or on the evening of Friday is a question which has been ably and voluminously debated, and respecting which eminent authorities have come to opposite conclusions.

From the Synoptists alone we should no doubt infer that the ordinary Paschal Feast was eaten by our Lord and His Disciples, as by all the Jews, on the evening of Thursday (Matthew 26:2 , Matthew 26:17 , Matthew 26:18 , Matthew 26:19 ; Mark 14:14-16 ; Luke 22:7 , Luke 22:11-13 , Luke 22:15 ).

On the other hand, St John uses language which seems quite as distinctly to imply that the Passover was not eaten till the next day (13:1, “ before the Feast of the Passover;” 29, “those things that we have need of against the feast;” 18:28, “they themselves went not into the judgment-hall lest they should be defiled; but that they might eat the passover ”). He also calls the Sabbath (Saturday) a high day (a name given by the Jews to the first and last days of the octave of a feast) apparently because it was both a Sabbath and the first day of the Passover; and says (19:14) that Friday was “the preparation of the Passover.” Here the word used is Paraskeuè (as in Luke 23:54 ). Now this word may no doubt merely mean ‘Friday,’ since every Friday was a preparation for the Sabbath; but it seems very difficult to believe that the expression means ‘Passover Friday.’

Now since the language of St John seems to be perfectly explicit, and since it is impossible to explain away his expressions by any natural process though no doubt they can be explained away by a certain amount of learned ingenuity express statement, and to interpret thereby the less definite language of the Synoptists.

We may set aside many current explanations of the difficulty, such as that

α . Two different days may have been observed in consequence of different astronomical calculations about the day.

or β . Some laxity as to the day may have been introduced by different explanations of “between the two evenings.”

or γ . The Jews in their hatred put off their Passover till the next evening.

or δ . St John, by “eating the Passover,” may have meant no more than eating the Chagigah or festive meal.

or ε . The supper described by St John is not the same as that described by the Synoptists.

or ζ . The Last Supper was an ordinary Passover, only it was eaten by anticipation .

Setting aside these and many other untenable views, it seems probable that the Last Supper was not the ordinary Jewish Paschal meal, but was eaten the evening before the ordinary Jewish Passover; and that the language of the Synoptists is perfectly consistent and explicable on the view that our Lord gave to His last Supper a Paschal character (“to eat this Passover,” or “ this as a Passover,” Luke 22:15 ), and spoke of it to His disciples as their Passover. Hence had arisen in the Church the view that it actually was the Paschal meal which St John silently corrects. The spread of this impression in the Church would be hastened by the fact that in any case Thursday was, in one sense, ‘the first day of unleavened bread,’ since on that day all leaven was carefully searched for that it might be removed.

When we adopt this conclusion that the Last-Supper was not the Paschal Feast itself, but intended to supersede and abrogate it it is supported by a multitude of facts and allusions in the Synoptists themselves; e. g. i. The occupations of the Friday on which Jesus was crucified shew no sign whatever of its having been a very solemn festival. The Jews kept their chief festival days with a scrupulosity almost as great as that with which they kept their Sabbaths. Yet on this Friday working, buying, selling, holding trials, executing criminals, bearing burdens, &c. is going on as usual. Everything tends to shew that the day was a common Friday, and that the Passover only began at sunset.

ii. The Sanhedrin had distinctly said that it would be both dangerous and impolitic to put Christ to death on the Feast day (Mark 14:2 , and comp. Acts 12:4 ).

iii. Not a word is said in any of the Evangelists about the Lamb the most important and essential element of the Paschal meal; nor of the unleavened bread at the Supper; nor of the bitter herbs; nor of the sauce Charoseth ; nor of the account given by the Chief Person present of the Institution of the Passover, &c.

Further than this, many arguments tend to shew that this Last Supper was not a Paschal meal; e. g.:

α . Early Christian tradition apparently down to the time of Chrysostom distinguished between the Last Supper and the Passover. Hence the Eastern Church always uses leavened bread at the Eucharist, as did the Western Church down to the 9th century.

β . Jewish tradition with no object in view fixes the Death of Christ on the afternoon before the Passover ( Erebh Pesach ).

γ . The language of St Paul (1 Corinthians 5:7 , 1 Corinthians 11:23 ) seems to imply that the Lord’s Supper was not the Passover, but a Feast destined to supersede it.

δ . If our Lord had eaten an actual Paschal meal the very evening before His death, the Jews might fairly have argued that He was not Himself the Paschal Lamb; whereas

ε . There was a peculiar symbolic fitness in the fact that He the True Lamb was offered at the very time when the Lamb which was but a type was being sacrificed.

For these and other reasons more fully developed in the Life of Christ, pp. 471 483 I still hold that the Last Supper was not the actual Jewish Passover, but a quasi -Passover, a new and Christian Passover .

Excursus VI

On Sects of the Jews

In the time of our Lord the main Jewish sects were the Essenes, the Sadducees, and the Pharisees.

The Herodians, mentioned in Mark 3:6 , Mark 3:12 :13; Matthew 22:16 , were not so much a religious sect as a political party which accepted the rule of the Herods. Politically they were descended from the old Grecising apostates, for whom Jason proposed the title of Antiochians (2 Macc. 4:9). They may be most briefly described as the anti-national party, who wished the Jews to forget as much as possible their customs and aspirations, adopt cordial relations with Rome, and accept ‘Greek fashions and heathenish manners,’ 2 Macc. 4:13, 14. They seem to have been Sadducees in religion, and were closely connected with the powerful families which Herod the Great had introduced from Babylon and Egypt, and who at this time monopolised the High Priesthood among themselves. The Talmud connects them with the Boethusim , so called from Simon son of Boethus, whose daughter (named Mariamne) Herod the Great married. They had gone so far at one time as to attempt to represent Herod the Great to the Jews as the promised Messiah! (Tert. Praesc . 45).

The Essenes are not mentioned in the Gospels, nor is there any indication that Jesus ever came into contact with them. They were a small, exclusive, ascetic, isolated community, with whose discouragement of marriage, and withdrawal from all the active duties of life, our Lord could have had no sympathy. Their importance as a sect belongs to a somewhat later period of the Gospel History.

The Sadducees were the priestly-aristocratic party, who were in close alliance with the ruling powers. The name is probably derived from Tsedakah ‘righteousness,’ and was originally meant to distinguish them from the Separatist or Pharisaic party, which in their opinion was too narrow and exclusive. The names, like all party names, soon acquired an insulting force, and may be roughly illustrated by saying that the Sadducees were regarded as Rationalists and the Pharisees as Ritualists. In the time of our Lord the Sadducees had much political power, derived from their wealth, their offices, and their political connexions, but they had no popular following. Their grasping and avaricious spirit made them hateful to the people, and this hatred was specially felt towards their chief representatives the family of Annas.

They rightly refused to recognise the extravagant importance attached by the Pharisees to the Oral Law; and they seem to have unduly depreciated the authority of the Hagiographa and the Prophets in comparison with that of Moses. It was this which led to their scepticism about the immortality of the soul and the existence of angels and spirits. Their worldliness and want of moral earnestness made them less useful than they might otherwise have been in counteracting the hypocritic externalism and frivolous scrupulosity of the Pharisees.

The name Pharisees seems to have been derived from Perishoot , ‘separation.’ They were the national party, and were politically descended from the Chasidim , mentioned in 1 Macc. 2:42, 7:13. No doubt many good and faithful men, like Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathaea, existed in their body, but Jewish writers themselves admit, and the Talmud amply and in many passages confirms, the terrible charges brought against them by our Lord in His Great Denunciation (Matthew 23:0 ; see notes on Luke 11:42-54 ). Those charges were mainly against their greed, ambition, tyranny, and sacrifice of things essential to unimportant minutiae, in one word, their arbitrary and excessive ceremonialism, which had led them to sacrifice the spirit and even the letter of the Mosaic Law to their own Oral Law or Tradition of the Fathers. “Long prayers, and devouring of widows’ houses; flaming proselytism and subsequent moral neglect; rigorous stickling for the letter, boundless levity as to the spirit; high-sounding words as to the sanctity of oaths, and cunning reservations of casuistry; fidelity in trifles, gross neglect of essential principles; the mask of godliness without the reality; petty orthodoxy and artificial morals such was Pharisaism.” “It was,” says Canon Mozley, “an active religion founded upon egotism” religion allied with the pride of life in its most childish and empty forms. It was a “false goodness” and therefore “an unrepentant type of evil.” “The Pharisaic conscience was a tame conscience with a potent sway over mint, anise, and cumin, but no power over the heart.” And therefore the Pharisees were “the only class which Jesus cared publicly to expose.” See ‘Sermon on the Pharisees’ in Mozley’s Univ. Sermons , pp. 28 51.

Josephus ( Antt. xviii. 1, §§ 3, 4, xiii. 5, § 9, B. J. ii. 8, § 14) gives some notices of these sects, but his account of them can by no means be exclusively trusted.

Excursus VII

Illustrations of St Luke derived from the Talmud

A few only of the following illustrations which will I think be found both curious and important may be found in Schöttgen’s Horae Hebraicae . The majority of them are entirely new, and I have chiefly derived them from the yet unpublished Talmudic collections of Mr P.J. Hershon.

1:21. Marvelled that he tarried so long in the Temple .

The Jews believed that catastrophes sometimes occurred, not only (as in the case of Heliodorus, 2 Macc. 3:24) for intrusion into the Temple, but for any irregularity in it. See the story of the death of a (Sadducean) High Priest in Yoma , f. 19 b . Comp. Leviticus 16:13 , “that he die not.”

2:25. Waiting for the consolation of Israel .

2:38. That looked for redemption .

“Ravah said, When a man is brought up for judgment (after death) he is asked … Hast thou been waiting for salvation ?” (i. e. looking for the advent of the Messiah). Shabbath , f. 31 a.

2:41. His parents went to Jerusalem every year at the feast of the Passover .

In Mechilta f. 17 b the wife of Jonah is commended for going to the yearly feasts.

2:46. Both hearing them and asking them questions .

I have shewn that this was entirely in accordance with Jewish custom: besides the self-attested instance of the young Josephus we find that “when Rabbi Shimon Ben Gamaliel and Rabbi Jehoshua Ben Korcha were seated in the debating room upon divans Rabbi Elazer Ben Rabbi Shimon and Rabbi [i. e. Judah the Holy] sat before them on the ground asking questions and starting objections . The other Rabbis exclaimed ‘We drink of their water’ (i. e. of their wisdom) ‘and they sit upon the ground!’ Seats were therefore brought in, and the two children were seated upon them.” Babha Metsia , f. 84 b .

6:35. Lend, hoping for nothing again .

From Psalms 15:5 the Rabbis said that he who lent his money without usury was regarded as having kept the whole law. Shemoth Rabba , f. 130, 3.

7:50. Go in peace .

Lit. ‘ into peace’ ( εἰς εἰρήνην ), comp. 2:29, “Now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace” ( ἐν εἰρήνῃ ).

“Rabh Laive Bar Chaitha said, In taking leave of a dying man one should say ‘Go in peace’ ( beshalôm ), and not ‘into peace’ ( leshalôm ), for God said to Abraham ‘Thou shalt go to thy fathers in peace .’ Otherwise one should not say ‘Go in peace’ but ‘ unto peace;’ for David said to Absalom ‘Go in peace ’ (2 Samuel 15:9 ), and he went and was hanged; but Jethro said to Moses (Exodus 4:18 ) ‘Go unto peace ,’ and he went and prophesied.” Moed Katon , f. 29, 1. The same rule is given with the same reasons in Berachoth , f. 64 a .

10:31. He passed by on the other side .

In Midrash Koheleth , f. 91 b , a beautiful story is told of the blessing earned by Abba Techama for carrying a sick man into a town, and going back (in spite of the Sabbath) to fetch his bundle. See Schöttgen, Hor. Hebr. ad loc.

10:34. Pouring in oil and wine .

Speaking of circumcision, and the method adopted to heal the wound, we find the rule “ If there is no mixed oil and wine ready each may be added separately” ( Shabbath , f. 133 a ).

As an additional instance of the extreme Sabbath scrupulosity among the Jews we may add the rest of the passage: “ No dressing is to be prepared for it on the Sabbath , but a rag may be put on” (see John 7:22 ). “If the latter is not ready on the spot it may be fetched from other premises wrapped on the finger.” The latter rule is given to avoid the appearance of breaking the Sabbath by carrying the rag .

10:42. The good part .

No doubt the use of the word μερὶς is a reference to the feast which Martha was preparing. The phrase and the metaphor are found in Hebrew literature. See Schöttgen ad loc.

12:19. Soul … take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry .

So in Taanith , f. 11 a , “When the people is in trouble let no man say, I will go home, and eat, and drink, and peace be to thee, O my soul.”

12:53. The daughter in law against her mother in law .

“In the generation when the Son of David will come daughters will stand up against their mothers, daughters in law against their mothers in law.” Sanhedrin , f. 97, 1.

13:14. In them therefore come and be healed, and not on the Sabbath day .

Thus we are told that thorough bathing was permitted on the Sabbath except in the Mediterranean, and the Dead Sea , because the waters of these seas were supposed to possess medicinal properties, and healing is not allowed on the Sabbath day. Shabbath , f. 109 a .

13:23. Are there few that be saved ?

Some of the Rabbis answered this question in the affirmative, and Rabbi Shimeon Ben Jochai was so satisfied about his own righteousness as to say that if only two were saved, he and his son would be those two. Succa , f. 45 b .

14:8 11. On taking the lowest place .

“Ben Azai said, Descend from thy place, and sit down two or three degrees lower. Let them rather bid thee go up higher than come down lower; as it is said, ‘For better it is that it should be said unto thee, Come up hither, than that thou shouldest be put lower in the presence of the prince whom thine eyes have seen,’ Proverbs 25:7 .” Abhoth of Rabbi Nathan , 2.

14:11. Whosoever exalteth himself shall be abased .

“Greatness flees from him who strives for it, but it follows him who flees from it,” Erubhin , f. 13 b . “Whoever abases himself, the Holy One, blessed be He, exalts him, and whoever exalts himself, the Holy One, blessed be He, abases him.” Id. ib.

The latter coincidence compels the belief either that our Lord was here (as elsewhere) using a current Jewish proverb, or that the Talmudic writer, consciously or unconsciously, borrows from Him.

15:7. Who need no repentance .

The Jews distinguished between two classes of good men; those who, like David, had repented after sin; and the ‘perfect just.’ Succa , f. 45 b .

16:8. The children of this world ( or ‘age ’).

‘The children of this age’ are opposed to ‘the children of the age to come,’ who in Berachoth , f. 4 b , are defined to be “those who to their evening prayers add prayers about (Israel’s) redemption.”

16:9. Into everlasting habitations (‘ into the eternal tents ’).

“When the wicked are burnt up, God makes a tent in which He hides the just, Psalms 27:5 .” Siphra , f. 187.

16:22. Was carried by the angels into Abraham’s bosom .

“ ‘This day,’ said Rabbi [Judah the Holy], ‘he sits in the bosom of Abraham,’ i. e. he died.” Kiddushin , f. 72 b .

17:6. Be thou plucked up by the root .

In the famous story of Babha Metsia, f. 59 b , Rabbi Eliezer is said to have given this among other miraculous proofs that his rule ( halacha ) was right.

21:5. How it was adorned with goodly stones and gifts .

“It is said, Whoever has not seen Herod’s temple, has never seen a beautiful structure in his life. How did he build it? Ravah replied, With white and green marble, so that it appeared in the distance like the waves of the sea.” Babha Bathra , f. 3 b .

21:7. When shall these things be ?

“Rabbis Jochanan and Elazer both said, The present generation (i. e. after the destruction of Jerusalem), whose iniquities are hidden, have not been informed of the time of their restoration.’ Yoma , f. 19, 2.

22:38. It is enough .

Schöttgen compares this with the very frequent Rabbinic phrase דייר , used generally with a shade of indignation to stop useless remarks.

22:70. Art thou the Son of God ? And he said unto them, Ye say that I am .

In the description of the death of Rabbi (Judah Hakkodesh, or the Holy, the compiler of the Mishna), we are told that Bar Cappara was commissioned by the other Rabbis to see whether he was dead or alive. He returned with his robe rent behind, and said, “The angels are victorious, and the holy ark is taken away.” “ Is Rabbi dead ?” asked they. “ You have said it ,” he answered. Kethubhoth , f. 103 b .

23:31. For if they do these things in a green tree, what shall be done in the dry ?

Although this exact proverb does not occur (apparently) in Jewish literature, there are others exceedingly like it, e. g. “Rabbi Ashi asked Bar Kippok what mourning he made on the death of Ravina. He replied, ‘If the flame has fallen among the cedars, what chance is there for the hyssop on the wall? If Leviathan is drawn up with a hook, what hope is there for little fish? If the net is thrown in flooding streams, what chance is there for stagnant pools?’ ” Moed Katon , f. 25 b . Comp. Jeremiah 12:5 .

The proverb adduced by Schöttgen on 1 Corinthians 15:33 , ‘Two dry logs and one green one; the dry burn up the green,’ seems to have no connexion with it.

Bibliographical Information
"Commentary on Luke 24". "Cambridge Greek Testament for Schools and Colleges". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/cgt/luke-24.html. 1896.
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