Bible Commentaries

Cambridge Greek Testament for Schools and Colleges


Book Overview - Luke Note: The original text contained a number of Excursuses at the end of Luke. The verse comments occasionally reference the Excursuses. The Excursuses are presented at the end of the Book comments for Luke (scroll do the bottom of this window).



THE General Editor of The Cambridge Bible for Schools thinks it right to say that he does not hold himself responsible either for the interpretation of particular passages which the Editors of the several Books have adopted, or for any opinion on points of doctrine that they may have expressed. In the New Testament more especially questions arise of the deepest theological import, on which the ablest and most conscientious interpreters have differed and always will differ. His aim has been in all such cases to leave each Contributor to the unfettered exercise of his own judgment, only taking care that mere controversy should as far as possible be avoided. He has contented himself chiefly with a careful revision of the notes, with pointing out omissions, with suggesting occasionally a reconsideration of some question, or a fuller treatment of difficult passages, and the like.

Beyond this he has not attempted to interfere, feeling it better that each Commentary should have its own individual character, and being convinced that freshness and variety of treatment are more than a compensation for any lack of uniformity in the Series.


IN undertaking an edition of the Greek text of the New Testament with English notes for the use of Schools, the Syndics of the Cambridge University Press have not thought it desirable to reprint the text in common use[1]. To have done this would have been to set aside all the materials that have since been accumulated towards the formation of a correct text, and to disregard the results of textual criticism in its application to MSS., Versions and Fathers. It was felt that a text more in accordance with the present state of our knowledge was desirable. On the other hand the Syndics were unable to adopt one of the more recent critical texts, and they were not disposed to make themselves responsible for the preparation of an entirely new and independent text: at the same time it would have been obviously impossible to leave it to the judgment of each individual contributor to frame his own text, as this would have been fatal to anything like uniformity or consistency. They believed however that a good text might be constructed by simply taking the consent of the two most recent critical editions, those of Tischendorf and Tregelles, as a basis. The same principle of consent could be applied to places where the two critical editions were at variance, by allowing a determining voice to the text of Stephens where it agreed with either of their readings, and to a third critical text, that of Lachmann, where the text of Stephens differed from both. In this manner readings peculiar to one or other of the two editions would be passed over as not being supported by sufficient critical consent; while readings having the double authority would be treated as possessing an adequate title to confidence.

A few words will suffice to explain the manner in which this design has been carried out.

In the Acts, the Epistles, and the Revelation, wherever the texts of Tischendorf and Tregelles agree, their joint readings are followed without any deviation. Where they differ from each other, but neither of them agrees with the text of Stephens as printed in Dr Scrivener’s edition, the consensus of Lachmann with either is taken in preference to the text of Stephens. In all other cases the text of Stephens as represented in Dr Scrivener’s edition has been followed.

In the Gospels, a single modification of this plan has been rendered necessary by the importance of the Sinai MS. (א), which was discovered too late to be used by Tregelles except in the last chapter of St John’s Gospel and in the following books. Accordingly, if a reading which Tregelles has put in his margin agrees with א, it is considered as of the same authority as a reading which he has adopted in his text; and if any words which Tregelles has bracketed are omitted by א, these words are here dealt with as if rejected from his text.

In order to secure uniformity, the spelling and the accentuation of Tischendorf have been adopted where he differs from other Editors. His practice has likewise been followed as regards the insertion or omission of Iota subscript in infinitives (as ζῆν, ἐπιτιμᾶν), and adverbs (as κρυφῆ, λάθρα), and the mode of printing such composite forms as διαπαντός, διατί, τουτέστι, and the like.

The punctuation of Tischendorf in his eighth edition has usually been adopted: where it is departed from, the deviation, together with the reasons that have led to it, will be found mentioned in the Notes. Quotations are indicated by a capital letter at the beginning of the sentence. Where a whole verse is omitted, its omission is noted in the margin (e.g. Matthew 17:21; Matthew 23:12).

The text is printed in paragraphs corresponding to those of the English Edition.

Although it was necessary that the text of all the portions of the New Testament should be uniformly constructed in accordance with these general rules, each editor has been left at perfect liberty to express his preference for other readings in the Notes.

It is hoped that a text formed on these principles will fairly represent the results of modern criticism, and will at least be accepted as preferable to “the Received Text” for use in Schools.





THE word Gospel[2] is the Saxon translation of the Greek Εὐαγγέλιον. In early Greek (e.g. in Homer) this word meant the reward given to one who brought good tidings. In Attic Greek it also meant a sacrifice for good tidings, but was always used in the plural εὐαγγέλια. Hence it became, even among Romans, a kind of exclamation, like our “Good news!” (Cic. ad Att. ii. 3, εὐαγγέλια, Valerius absolutus est). In later Greek, as in Plutarch and Lucian, εὐαγγέλιον meant the good news actually delivered. Among all Greek-speaking Christians the word was naturally adopted to describe the best and gladdest tidings ever delivered to the human race, the good news of the Kingdom of God. In the address of the Angel to the Shepherds we find the words “I bring you good tidings of great joy,” where the verb used is εὐαγγελίζομαι. This verb is specially common in St Luke and St Paul. The substantive does not occur in St Luke. In St John the only instance of either verb or substantive is Revelation 14:6 (where it does not refer to the Gospel). In St Paul it occurs 61 times. From this Greek word are derived the French Évangile, the Italian Evangelio, the Portuguese Evangelho, &c. Naturally the word which signified “good news” soon came to be used as the title of the books which contained the history of that good news.

The existence of four separate, and mainly if not absolutely, independent Gospels, is a great blessing to the Church of Christ. It furnishes us with such a weight of contemporaneous testimony as is wanting to the vast majority of events in Ancient History. A fourfold cord is not easily broken.

Of these four Gospels the first three are often called the Synoptic Gospels. The Greek word Synopsis has the same meaning as the Latin Conspectus, and the first three Evangelists are called “Synoptists” because their Gospels can be arranged and harmonised, section by section, in a tabular form, since they are mainly based on a common outline. The term appears to be quite modern, but has been rapidly brought into general use, since its adoption by Griesbach. It is intended to indicate the difference of plan which marks these Gospels as compared with that of St John[3].

In the Synoptic Gospels we find much that is common to all, and something which is peculiar to each. It has been ascertained by Stroud that “if the total contents of the several Gospels be represented by 100, the following table is obtained[4]:”

St Mark







St Matthew







St Luke







St John







Reuss has further calculated that the total number of verses common to all the Synoptists is about 350; that St Matthew has 350 verses peculiar to himself, St Mark 68, and St Luke 541. The coincidences are usually in the record of sayings: the peculiarities in the narrative portion. In St Matthew, the narrative occupies about one fourth; in St Mark one half; and in St Luke one third.

Another important fact is that when St Matthew and St Luke verbally agree, St Mark always agrees with them; that the resemblances between St Luke and St Mark are much closer than those between St Luke and St Matthew[5]; that where St Mark has additional touches St Luke usually has them also, but not when these additions are found only in St Matthew; and that where St Mark is silent, St Luke often differs from St Matthew[6].

The dates at which the four Gospels were published cannot be ascertained with certainty; but there are some reasons to believe that St Matthew’s was written first, possibly in Aramaic, and about A.D. 64; that St Mark’s and St Luke’s were published within a few years of this date[7], and certainly before the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70; and that St John’s was written in old age at Ephesus before the year A.D. 85. It is probable that most, if not all, of St Paul’s Epistles had been written before the earliest Gospel was published in its present form. To what extent the Synoptists were influenced by written records of previous oral teaching is a difficult and complicated question about which there have been multitudes of theories, as also respecting the question whether any of the three used the Gospel of either of the others. That previous attempts to narrate the Life of Christ were in existence when St Luke wrote we know from his own testimony; but it may be regarded as certain that among these “attempts” he did not class the Gospels of St Matthew and St Mark. The inference that he was either unaware of the existence of those Gospels, or made no direct use of them, suggests itself with the utmost force when we place side by side any of the events which they narrate in common, and mark the minute and inexplicable differences which incessantly occur even amid general similarity.

The language employed by the Evangelists is that dialect of Greek which was in their day generally current—the Macedonian or Hellenistic Greek. It was a stage of the Greek language less perfect than that of the classical period, but admirably plastic and forcible (see infra Introd. Chap. VI. p. 38).

ST MATTHEW and ST JOHN were Apostles and eyewitnesses of the ministry of our Lord from the baptism of John until the Ascension. The other two Evangelists were, as St Jerome says, not Apostles, but “Apostolic men.” ST MARK may have been a partial eyewitness of some of the later scenes of the life of Christ, and it is the unanimous tradition of the early Church that his Gospel reflects for us the direct testimony of St Peter. ST LUKE expressly implies that he was not an eyewitness, but he made diligent use of all the records which he found in existence, and he derived his testimony from the most authentic sources. It may be regarded as certain that he sets before us that conception of the Life and Work of Christ which was the basis of the teaching of St Paul[8]. Thus we have the Gospel “according to” (κατὰ) the view and teaching of four great Apostles, St Matthew, St Peter, St Paul[9], and St John.

The differences between the SYNOPTISTS and ST JOHN have been noticed from the earliest ages of the Church. They are mainly these. The Synoptists dwell almost exclusively on Christ’s Ministry in Galilee; St John on His Ministry in Judaea. The Synoptists dwell chiefly on the Miracles, Parables, and external incidents of His work; in St John the prominent feature is the high discourse and inmost spiritual meaning of His life. The Synoptists portrayed Him to the world; St John more specially for the Church. To use a common term they present a more objective, and St John a more subjective view of the Work of Christ. The complete portraiture of the Saviour “comprised the fulness of an outward presence, as well as the depth of a secret life. In this respect the records correspond to the subjects. The first record [that of the Synoptists] is manifold; the second is one: the first is based on the experience of a society, the second on the intuition of a loved disciple.” “The Synoptic Gospels contain the Gospel of the infant Church; that of St John the Gospel of its maturity. The first combine to give the wide experience of the many, the last embraces the deep mysteries treasured up by the one.” “The threefold portrait of Charles I. which Vandyke prepared for the sculptor is an emblem of the work of the first three Evangelists: the complete outward shape is fashioned, and then at last another kindles the figure with a spiritual life[10].” But the object of each and all of the Gospels is that expressed by St John “that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ the Son of God, and that believing ye might have life through His name[11].”

Elaborate and repeated attempts have been made to settle the interrelation of the Synoptists with each other. All such attempts have hitherto failed. Each Gospel in turn has been assumed to be the earliest of the three; and the supposition that the other two worked on the existing narrative of a third has required for its support as many subordinate hypotheses of fresh recension, translation, &c., as the Ptolemaic system of Astronomy required orbs and epicycles to account for its theory of the motions of the heavenly bodies. The three main theories have been: 1. The theory of an original written document from which all borrowed. This original has been sometimes supposed to be the first form of St Matthew, more often of St Mark, and sometimes even of St Luke. This theory is now generally abandoned and is absolutely untenable. 2. The theory of a common unwritten tradition. 3. The theory of the Tübingen school of theologians, who held that each of the Synoptic Gospels was based on the “Gospel of the Hebrews,” which the Evangelists modified with reference to dogmatic conceptions. The general conclusion to which all recent enquiries seem to point is [1] That there existed in the Early Church a cycle of authoritative oral teaching, which being committed to memory[12] tended to assume a fixed peculiarity of diction; [2] That this authoritative tradition was gradually committed to writing by some of the disciples; [3] That these written memorials were utilized by those who “attempted” to set forth a continuous sketch of the ministry of Christ; and [4] That the most authentic and valuable of them were to a considerable extent incorporated into the narratives of the Evangelists themselves. If some such hypothesis as this be not adequate to account (α) for resemblances which extend even to the use of peculiar verbal forms (ἀφέωνται, Luke 5:20), diminutives (ὠτίον, Matthew 26:51), and the use of a double augment (Matthew 12:13); and (β) for differences which extend to the transposition of whole sections, and the omission of entire discourses,—at least no more reasonable suggestion has yet been made[13].

Early Christian writers compared the four Gospels to that river, which, flowing out of Eden to water the garden of God, was parted into four heads compassing lands like that of Havilah of which “the gold is good” and where is “bdellium and the onyx stone.”

“Paradisi hic fluenta

Nova fluunt sacramenta

Quae descendunt coelitus:

His quadrigis deportatur

Mundo Deus, sublimatur

Istis arca vectibus.”


A still more common symbol of the four Evangelists was derived from “the Chariot” as the chapter was called which describes the vision of Ezekiel by the river Chebar[14]. Hence as early as Irenaeus (died circ. 202) we find the expression εὐαγγέλιον τετράμορφον or “four-formed Gospel.” Each one of the living creatures combined in “the fourfold-visaged four” was taken as the emblem of one of the Evangelists. The applications differed, but the one which has been almost universally adopted, and of which there are traces in Christian Art as far back as the fifth century, assigns the Man or Angel to St Matthew, the Lion to St Mark, the Ox to St Luke, and the Eagle to St John[15]. The reasons offered for the adoption of these emblems also differed; but it was usually said that the Man is assigned to St Matthew because he brings out Christ’s human and Messianic character; the Lion to St Mark because he sets forth the awfulness (Luke 10:24; Luke 10:32), energy, power and royal dignity (Luke 1:22; Luke 1:27, Luke 2:10, Luke 5:30, Luke 6:2; Luke 6:5, &c.) of Christ; the Ox, the sacrificial victim, to St Luke, because he illustrates the Priestly office of Christ; and the Eagle to St John, because, as St Augustine says, “he soars to heaven as an eagle above the clouds of human infirmity, and reveals to us the mysteries of Christ’s Godhead, and of the Trinity in Unity, and the felicities of Life Eternal; and gazes on the light of Immutable Truth with a keen and steady ken[16].” Thus, to quote the eloquent language of Bishop Wordsworth, “The Christian Church, looking at the origin of the Four Gospels, and the attributes which God has in rich measure been pleased to bestow upon them by His Holy Spirit, found a Prophetic picture of them in the Four living Cherubim, named from heavenly knowledge, seen by the Prophet Ezekiel at the river of Chebar. Like them the Gospels are Four in number; like them they are the Chariot of God Who sitteth between the Cherubim; like them, they bear Him on a winged throne into all lands; like them they move wherever the Spirit guides them: like them they are marvellously joined together, intertwined with coincidences and differences; wing interwoven with wing, and wheel interwoven with wheel: like them they are full of eyes, and sparkle with heavenly light: like them they sweep from heaven to earth, and from earth to heaven, and fly with lightning speed and with the noise of many waters. Their sound is gone out into all lands, and their words to the end of the world[17].”

But whatever may be the archaeological and artistic interest of these universal symbols, it must be admitted that they are fanciful and arbitrary; and this is rendered more obvious from the varying manner in which they used to be employed and justified. It is much more important to get some clear and unimaginative conception of the distinctive peculiarities of each Evangelist. And at this it is not difficult to arrive.

Combining the data furnished by early and unanimous tradition with the data furnished by the Gospels themselves we see generally that,

i. ST MATTHEW wrote in Judaea, and wrote for Jews, possibly even in Aramaic, as was the general belief of the early Church. If so, however, the Aramaic original is hopelessly lost, and there is at least a possibility that there may have been a confusion between a supposed Hebrew Gospel of St Matthew and the “Gospel of the Hebrews,” which may have been chiefly based on it and which was in use among the Nazarenes and Ebionites. However that may be, the object which St Matthew had in view goes far to illustrate the specialities of his Gospel. It is the Gospel of the Hebrew nation; the Gospel of the Past; the Gospel of Jesus as the Messiah[18]. Thus it opens with the words “The book of the generation of Jesus Christ the son of David, the son of Abraham:”—the son of David and therefore the heir of the Jewish kingdom: the son of Abraham and therefore the heir of the Jewish promise. That it is the Gospel which connects Christianity with Judaism and with the Past appears in the constantly recurrent formula “that it might be fulfilled.” So completely is the work of Christ regarded as the accomplishment of Prophecy that in no less than five incidents narrated in the first two chapters, the Evangelist points to the verification of ancient predictions. Another marked peculiarity of the Gospel is its didactic character. It records with fulness five great discourses—The sermon on the Mount[19]; the address to the Apostles[20]; the parables on the Kingdom of Heaven[21]; the discourse on Offences and on Forgiveness[22]; and the discourses and parables of Judgment[23]. These discourses,—which all bear on the triple offices of our Lord as Lawgiver, King, and Judge of the New Kingdom,—make the Gospel of St Matthew “as it were the ultimatum of Jehovah to His ancient people;—Recognise Jesus as your Messiah, or accept Him as your Judge[24].”

ii. ST MARK wrote in Rome for the Roman world, during the imprisonment and before the death of his teacher and spiritual father, St Peter (1 Peter 5:13). His Gospel is emphatically the Gospel of the Present; the Gospel of Jesus apart from retrospect or prophecy; of Jesus as the Lord of the World. The speech of St Peter to Cornelius has been called “the Gospel of St Mark in brief.” St Mark’s Gospel consists of “Apostolic Memoirs” marked by the graphic vividness which is due to the reminiscences of an eyewitness; it is the Gospel of which it was the one aim to describe our Lord as He lived and moved among men. The notion that St Mark was a mere compiler of St Matthew (tamquam pedissequus et breviator ejus, Aug.) has long been exploded. He abounds in independent notices which have led many Germans to regard his Gospel, or some form of it, as the original Gospel (Proto-Marcus, Ur-Marcus); but this theory requires the intercalation of such a multitude of subordinate hypotheses, that it now finds but few supporters.

iii. ST LUKE wrote in Greece for the Hellenic world[25]. In style this Gospel is the purest; in order the most artistic and historical. It forms the first half of a great narrative which traced the advance of Christianity from Jerusalem to Antioch, to Macedonia, to Achaia, to Ephesus, to Rome. Hence it neither leans to the yearnings of the past[26], nor is absorbed in the glories of the present, but is written with special reference to the aspirations of the future. It sets forth Jesus to us neither as the Messiah of the Jews only, nor as the Universal Ruler, but as the Saviour of sinners. It is a Gospel not national, but cosmopolitan; not regal, but human. It is the Gospel for the world; it connects Christianity with man. Hence the genealogy of Jesus is traced not only to David and to Abraham, but to Adam and to God[27].

iv. One more great sphere of existence remained—Eternity. Beyond these records of dawning and expanding Christianity, there was needed some record of Christianity in its inmost life; something which should meet the wants of the spirit and of the reason: and St John dropped the great keystone into the soaring arch of Christian revelation, when, inspired by the Holy Ghost, he drew the picture of Christ, neither as Messiah only nor as King only, nor even only as the Saviour of mankind, but as the Incarnate Word;—not only as the Son of Man who ascended into heaven, but as the Son of God who came down from heaven; not only as the Divine Man but as the Incarnate God. The circle of Gospel revelation was, as it were, finally rounded into a perfect symbol of eternity when St John was inspired to write that “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.… And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the father, full of grace and truth.”

To sum up these large generalizations in a form which has been recognised by all thoughtful students as giving us a true though not an exclusive or exhaustive aspect of the differences of the Four Gospels, we may say that

ST MATTHEW’S is the Gospel for the Jews; the Gospel of the Past; the Gospel which sees in Christianity a fulfilment of Judaism; the Gospel of Discourses; the Didactic Gospel; the Gospel which represents Christ as the Messiah of the Jew.

ST MARK’S is the Gospel for the Romans; the Gospel of the Present; the Gospel of incident; the anecdotical Gospel; the Gospel which represents Christ as the Son of God and Lord of the world.

ST LUKE’S is the Gospel for the Greeks; the Gospel of the Future; the Gospel of Progressive Christianity, of the Universality and Gratuitousness of Redemption; the Historic Gospel; the Gospel of Jesus as the Good Physician and the Saviour of Mankind.

ST JOHN’S is pre-eminently the Gospel for the Church; the Gospel of Eternity; the Spiritual Gospel; the Gospel of Christ as the Eternal Son, and the Incarnate Word.

If we were to choose special mottoes as expressive of main characteristics of the Gospels, they might be as follows:—

St Matthew: “I am not come to destroy but to fulfil,” Luke 5:17.

St Mark: “Jesus came.… preaching the Gospel of the Kingdom of God,” Luke 1:14.

St Luke: “Who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil,” Acts 10:38 (comp. Luke 4:18)[28].

St John: “The Word was made flesh,” Luke 1:14.



“Utilis ille labor, per quem vixere tot aegri;

Utilior, per quem tot didicere mori.”

“He was a physician: and so, to all, his words are medicines of the drooping soul.” S. JER. Ep. ad Paulin.

If we sift what we know about St Luke from mere guesses and traditions, we shall find that our information respecting him is exceedingly scanty.

He does not once mention himself by name in the Gospel or in the Acts of the Apostles, though the absolutely unanimous voice of ancient tradition, coinciding as it does with many conspiring probabilities derived from other sources, can leave no shadow of doubt that he was the author of those books.

There are but three places in Scripture in which his name is mentioned. These are Colossians 4:14, “Luke, the beloved physician, and Demas, greet you;” 2 Timothy 4:11, “Only Luke is with me;” and Philemon 1:24, where he is mentioned as one of Paul’s “fellow labourers.” From these we see that St Luke was the faithful companion of St Paul, both in his first Roman imprisonment, when he still had friends about him, and in his second Roman imprisonment, when friend after friend deserted him, and was ‘ashamed of his chain.’ From the context of the first allusion we also learn that he was not “of the circumcision,” and indeed tradition has always declared that he was a Gentile, and a ‘proselyte of the gate[29].’

The attempt to identify him with “Lucius of Cyrene” in Acts 13:1 is a mere error, since his name Lucas is an abbreviation not of Lucius but of Lucanus, as Annas for Ananus, Zenas for Zenodorus, Apollos for Apollonius, &c. The guess that he was one of the Seventy disciples is refuted by his own words, nor is there any probability that he was one of the Greeks who desired to see Jesus (John 12:20) or one of the two disciples at Emmaus (Luke 24:13)[30]. Eusebius and Jerome say that he was a Syrian of Antioch, and this agrees with the intimate knowledge which he shews about the condition and the teachers of that Church. If in Acts 11:28 we could accept the isolated reading of the Codex Bezae (a reading known also to St Augustine), which there adds συνεστραμμένων δὲ ἡμῶν, ‘but while we were assembled together,’ it would prove that St Luke had been acquainted with the Apostle shortly after his arrival from Tarsus to assist the work of Barnabas. In that case he may well have been one of the earliest Gentile converts whom St Paul admitted into the full rights of Christian brotherhood, and with whom St Peter was afterwards, for one weak moment, ashamed to eat. We cannot however trace his connexion with St Paul with any certainty till the sudden appearance of the first personal pronoun in the plural in Acts 16:10, from which we infer that he joined the Apostle at Troas, and accompanied him to Macedonia, becoming thereby one of the earliest Evangelists in Europe. It is no unreasonable conjecture that his companionship was the more necessary because St Paul had been recently suffering from an acute visitation of the malady which he calls “the stake, or cross, in the flesh.” Since the “we” is replaced by “they” after the departure of Paul and Silas from Philippi (Acts 18:1), we infer that St Luke was left at that town in charge of the infant Macedonian Church. A physician could find means of livelihood anywhere, and he seems to have stayed at Philippi for some seven years, for we find him in that Roman colony when the Apostle spent an Easter there on his last visit to Jerusalem (Acts 20:5). There is however every reason to believe that during this period he was not idle, for if he were “the brother, whose praise is in the Gospel” (i.e. in preaching the good tidings) “throughout all the churches” (2 Corinthians 8:18), we find him acting with Titus as one of the delegates for the collection and custody of the contributions for the poor saints at Jerusalem. The identification of St Luke with this “brother” no doubt originated in a mistaken notion that “the Gospel” here means the written Gospel[31]; but it is probable on other grounds, and is supported by the tradition embodied in the superscription, which tells us that the Second Epistle to the Corinthians was conveyed from Philippi by Titus and Luke.

From Philippi St Luke accompanied his friend and teacher to Jerusalem (Acts 21:18), and there we again lose all record of his movements. Since, however, he was with St Paul at Caesarea when he was sent as a prisoner to Rome, it is probable that he was the constant companion of his imprisonment in that town. If the great design of writing the Gospel was already in his mind, the long and otherwise unoccupied stay of two years in Caesarea would not only give him ample leisure, but would also furnish him with easy access to those sources of information which he tells us he so diligently used. It would further enable him to glean some particulars of the ministry of Jesus from survivors amid the actual scenes where He had lived[32]. From Caesarea he accompanied St Paul in the disastrous voyage which ended in shipwreck at Malta, and proceeding with him to Rome he remained by his side until his liberation, and probably never left him until the great Apostle received his martyr’s crown. To him—to his allegiance, his ability, and his accurate preservation of facts—we are alone indebted for the greater part of what we know about the life of the Apostle of the Gentiles.

We finally lose sight of St Luke at the abrupt close of the Acts of the Apostles. Although we learn from the Pastoral Epistles[33] that he must have lived with St Paul for some two years beyond the point which his narrative has there reached, he may not have arranged his book until after Paul was dead, and the course of the narrative may have been suddenly cut short either by accident or even by his own death. Irenaeus (adv. Haer. III. 1) expressly tells us that even his Gospel was written after the death of Peter and Paul. The most trustworthy tradition says that he died in Greece; and it was believed that Constantine transferred his remains to the Church of the Apostles in Constantinople from Patrae in Achaia. Gregory of Nazianzus tells us in a vague way that he was martyred, but it is idle to repeat such worthless legends as that he was crucified on an olive-tree at Elaea in the Peloponnesus, &c., which rest on the sole authority of Nicephorus, a writer who died after the middle of the 15th century. The fancy that he was a painter, often as it has been embodied in art, owes its origin to the same source, and seems only to have arisen from the discovery of a rude painting of the Virgin in the Catacombs with an inscription stating that it was “one of seven painted by Luca.” It is not impossible that there may have been some confusion between the name of the Evangelist and that of a Greek painter in one of the monasteries of Mount Athos.

But leaving ‘the shifting quagmire of baseless traditions’ we see from St Luke’s own writings, and from authentic notices of him, that he was master of a good Greek style;—an accomplished writer, a close observer, an unassuming historian, a well-instructed physician, and a most faithful friend[34]. If the Theophilus to whom he dedicates both his works was the Theophilus mentioned in the Clementines as a wealthy Antiochene, who gave up his house to the preaching of St Peter, then St Luke may have been his freedman. Physicians frequently held no higher rank than that of slaves, and Lobeck, one of the most erudite of modern Greek scholars, has noticed that contractions in as like Lucas from Lucanus, were peculiarly common in the names of slaves. One more conjecture may be mentioned. St Luke’s allusions to nautical matters, especially in Acts 27, are at once remarkably accurate and yet unprofessional in tone. Now the ships of the ancients were huge constructions, holding sometimes upwards of 300 people, and in the uncertain length of the voyages of those days, we may assume that the presence of a physician amid such multitudes was a matter of necessity. Mr Smith of Jordanhill, in his admirable monograph on the voyage of St Paul, has hence been led to the inference that St Luke must have sometimes exercised his art in the crowded merchantmen which were incessantly coasting from point to point of the Mediterranean. However this may be, the naval experience of St Luke as well as his medical knowledge would have rendered him a most valuable companion to the suffering Apostle in his constant voyages.



Supposed allusions to St Luke’s Gospel may be adduced from Polycarp († A.D. 167), Papias, and Clement of Rome (A.D. 95); but passing over these as not absolutely decisive, it is certain that the Gospel was known to Justin Martyr († A.D. 168), who, though he does not name the authors of the Gospels, makes distinct reference to them, and has frequent allusions to, and citations from, the Gospel of St Luke. Thus he refers to the Annunciation; the Enrolment in the days of Quirinius; the sending of Jesus bound to Herod; the last words on the cross, &c.; and in some passages he uses language only found in this Gospel.

Hegesippus has at least two passages which appear to be verbal quotations from Luke 20:21; Luke 23:24.

The Gospel is mentioned as the work of St Luke in the Muratorian Fragment on the Canon, of which the date is not later than A.D. 170.

Among heretics it was known to, and used by, the Ophites; by the Gnostics, Basilides and Valentinus; by Heracleon (about A.D. 180), who wrote a comment on it; by the author of the Pistis Sophia; and by Marcion (about A.D. 140), who not only knew the Gospel, but adopted it as the basis of his own Gospel with such mutilations as suited his peculiar heresies[35]. This fact is not only asserted by Irenaeus, Tertullian, Epiphanius, &c., but may now be regarded as conclusively proved by Volkmar, and is accepted by modern criticism. Marcion omitted chapters 1, 2 and joined Luke 3:1 with Luke 4:31.

It is alluded to in the Clementine Homilies (about A.D. 175); in the Recognitions; and in the Epistle of the Churches of Vienne and Lyons, A.D. 177.

Celsus refers to the genealogy of Christ as traced upwards to Adam.

Theophilus of Antioch (A.D. 170) makes direct allusions to it.

Irenaeus (about A.D. 180) expressly attributes it to St Luke; Tertullian († A.D. 220) and Clemens of Alexandria († about A.D. 216) also quoted it as St Luke’s. Origen († A.D. 254) speaks of the ‘Four Gospels admitted by all the Churches under heaven;’ and Eusebius ranks it among the homologoumena, i.e. those works of whose genuineness and authenticity there was no doubt in the Church.

It is found in the Peshito Syriac (3rd or 4th century), and the Itala.

We may add, that it must now be regarded as all but certain that Tatian, a disciple of Justin Martyr, made a Diatessaron or Harmony of the Four Gospels before the end of the second century; for the Mechitarist fathers at Venice have published a translation, from the Armenian, of a work which is recognised as a commentary on Tatian’s Diatessaron by Ephraem Syrus in the fourth century; and from this work it is clear that Tatian’s ‘Harmony’ was a close weaving together of our four present Gospels.



“God sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh.”

Romans 8:3.

“The Son of Man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.”

Luke 19:10.

“Whose joy is, to the wandering sheep

To tell of the great shepherd’s love;

To learn of mourners while they weep

The music that makes mirth above;

Who makes the Gospel all his theme,

The Gospel all his pride and praise.”

KEBLE, St Luke’s Day.

This rich and precious Gospel, which has been strikingly designated “le plus beau livre qu’il y ait[36],” is marked, as are the others, by special characteristics.


(i) St Luke must be ranked as the first Christian hymnologist. It is to his inspired care that we owe the preservation of three sacred hymns, besides the Ave Maria (Luke 1:28-33) and the Gloria in Excelsis (Luke 2:14), which have been used for ages in the worship of the Church: the BENEDICTUS, or Song of Zacharias (Luke 1:68-79), used in our Morning Service; the MAGNIFICAT, or Song of the Blessed Virgin (Luke 1:46-55); and the NUNC DIMITTIS, or Song of Symeon (Luke 2:29-32), used in our Evening Service[37]. In these Canticles the New Aeon is represented not merely as the fulfilment of the Old, but also as a kingdom of the Spirit; as a spring of life and joy opened to the world; as a mystery, prophesied of indeed because it is eternal, but now in the appointed time revealed to men[38].

(ii) In this Gospel thanksgiving is also prominent. “The Gospel of the Saviour begins with hymns, and ends with praises; and as the thanksgivings of the meek are recorded in the first chapter, so in the last we listen to the gratitude of the faithful[39].” Mention is made no less than seven times of ‘glorifying God’ by the utterance of gratitude and praise (Luke 2:20, Luke 5:25, Luke 7:16, Luke 13:13, Luke 17:15, Luke 18:43, Luke 23:47).

(iii) It also gives special prominence to Prayer. It not only records (as Matthew 6) the Lord’s Prayer, but alone preserves to us the fact that our Lord prayed on six distinct and memorable occasions. [1] At His baptism. [2] After cleansing the leper. [3] Before calling the Twelve Apostles. [4] At His Transfiguration. [5] On the Cross for His murderers, and [6] with His last breath[40]. St Luke too, like St Paul, insists on the duty of unceasing Prayer as taught by Christ (Luke 18:1, Luke 11:8, Luke 21:36, Romans 12:12, &c.); and emphasizes this instruction by alone recording the two Parables which encourage us to a persistent energy, a holy importunity, a storming of the kingdom of Heaven by violence in our prayers—the parables of the Friend at Midnight (Luke 11:5-13) and of the Unjust Judge (Luke 18:1-8).

(iv) But the Gospel is marked mainly by its presentation of the Good Tidings in their universality and gratuitousness. It is pre-eminently the Gospel of pardon and of pity. “By grace ye are saved through faith[41],” and “the second man is the Lord from heaven” (1 Corinthians 15:47)[42], might stand as the motto of St Luke as of St Paul. Thus the word ‘grace’ (χάρις, eight times), ‘saviour’ and ‘salvation’ (only once each in St John), and ‘tell good tidings of’ (ten times), occur in it far more frequently than in the other Gospels; and these are applied neither to Jews mainly, nor to Gentiles mainly, but universally[43]. It is the Gospel of “a Saviour” and of “good will towards men;” the Gospel of Jesus, not only as the heir of David’s throne, and of Abraham’s promise, but as the Federal Head and Representative of Humanity—“the son of Adam, which was the Son of God.” And what a picture does this great ideal painter set forth to us of Christ! He comes with angel carols; He departs with priestly benediction. We catch our first glimpse of Him in the manger-cradle at Bethlehem, our last as from the slopes of Olivet He vanishes “into the cloud” with pierced hands upraised to bless! The Jewish religion of that day had degenerated into a religion of hatreds. The then ‘religious world,’ clothing its own egotism under the guise of zeal for God, had for the most part lost itself in a frenzy of detestations. The typical Pharisee hated the Gentiles; hated the Samaritans; hated the tax-gatherers. He despised poverty and despised womanhood. In St Luke, towards every age, towards either sex, towards all nations, towards all professions, towards men of every opinion and every shade of character, our Blessed Lord appears as CHRISTUS CONSOLATOR the good Physician of bodies and of souls; the Gospeller of the poor; the Brother who loves all His brethren in the great family of man; the unwearied healer and ennobler of sick and suffering humanity; the Desire of all nations; the Saviour of the world, who “went about doing good” (Acts 10:38). In accordance with this conception,

(v) St Luke reveals especially the sacredness of infancy. He alone tells us of the birth and infancy of the Baptist; the Annunciation; the meeting of Mary and Elizabeth; the songs of the herald Angels; the Circumcision; the Presentation in the Temple; the growth of Jesus in universal favour and sweet submission. And he alone preserves the one anecdote of the Confirmation of Jesus at twelve years old which is the solitary flower gathered from the silence of thirty years. Hence this Gospel is preeminently anti-docetic[44]. St Luke alludes to the human existence of our Lord before birth (Luke 1:40); as a babe (Luke 2:16); as a little child (Luke 2:27); as a boy (Luke 2:40); and as a man (Luke 3:22).

(vi) He dwells especially on Christ’s ministry to the world; that He was to be a Light to lighten the Gentiles, as well as the glory of His people Israel. He alone adds to the quotation from Isaiah respecting the mission of the Baptist the words “And ALL FLESH shall see the salvation of God.” He alone introduces the parallels of Elijah sent to the heathen Sarepta, and Elisha healing the heathen Naaman; as well as full details of that mission of the Seventy who by their number typified a mission to the supposed number of the nations of the world. St Luke’s Gospel might stand as a comment on the words of St Paul at Athens, that God “hath made of one blood all nations of men … that they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after Him, and find Him, though He be not far from every one of us” (Acts 17:27).

(vii) St Luke’s is specially the Gospel of Womanhood, and he prominently records the graciousness and tenderness of Christ towards many women[45]. He tells us how Jesus raised the dead boy at Nain, being touched with compassion because “he was the only son of his mother, and she was a widow.” He alone tells us of the remarkable fact that Jesus in his earlier mission-journeys was accompanied not by warriors like David, not by elders like Moses, not by nobles and kings like the Herods, but by a most humble band of ministering women (Luke 8:1-3). His narrative in the first two chapters must have been derived from the Virgin Mary, and has been thought to shew in every line the pure and tender colouring of a woman’s thoughts. He alone mentions the widow Anna (Luke 2:36), and tells us about eager Martha cumbered with serving, and Mary choosing the better part (Luke 10:38-42); he alone how our Lord once addressed to a poor, crushed, trembling, humiliated woman the tender name of “daughter” (Luke 8:48), and how He spoke of another as a daughter of Abraham (Luke 13:16); he alone how He at once consoled and warned the “daughters of Jerusalem” who followed Him weeping to Calvary (Luke 23:28). The Scribes and Pharisees gathered up their robes in the streets and synagogues lest they should touch a woman, and held it a crime to look on an unveiled woman in public; our Lord suffered a woman to minister to Him out of whom He had cast seven devils.

(viii) He seems to delight in all the records which told of the mercy of the Saviour towards the poor, the humble, the despised (Luke 2:24, Luke 6:20-25; Luke 6:30, Luke 8:2-3, Luke 12:16-21; Luke 12:33, Luke 16:13; Luke 16:19-25, Luke 14:12-15, &c.). Hence his Gospel has even been called (though very erroneously) the Gospel of the Ebionites[46]. He narrates the Angel Visit to the humble maiden of Nazareth; the Angel Vision to the humble shepherds; the recognition of Jesus in the Temple by the unknown worshipper, and the aged widow. He records the beatitudes to the poor and the hungry, the parables of Dives and Lazarus and of the Rich Fool; the invitation of “the poor, the maimed, the halt, the blind” to the Great Supper; the exaltation of the humble who choose the lowest seats; the counsel to the disciples to “sell what they have,” and to the Pharisees to “give alms.” He does not, however, denounce riches, but only the wealth that is not “rich towards God;” nor does he pronounce a beatitude upon poverty in the abstract, but only on the poverty which is patient and submissive. He had learnt from his Lord to ‘measure wisdom by simplicity, strength by suffering, dignity by lowliness.’

(ix) Further, this is specially the Gospel of the outcast,—of the Samaritan (Luke 9:52-56, Luke 17:11-19), the Publican, the harlot, the leper, and the Prodigal. Jesus came to seek and to save that which was lost (Luke 19:10). The emotion of penitent faith is more sincere and more precious than a life of prudent orthodoxy; undissembling wickedness is less hateful than disguised insincerity. Such is the point of the parable of the Praying Publican. See instances in Zacchaeus (Luke 19:1-10); the Prodigal Son; Mary of Magdala (Luke 7:36-50); the woman with the issue of blood (Luke 8:43-48); the dying robber (Luke 23:39-43). This peculiarity is doubtless due to that intense spirit of sympathy which led St Luke alone of the Evangelists to record that the boy of Nain was the only son of his mother (Luke 7:12); and the ‘little maid’ of Jairus his only daughter (Luke 8:42); and the lunatic boy his father’s only son (Luke 9:38).

(x) Lastly, it is the Gospel of tolerance. There was a deadly blood-feud between the Jews and the Samaritans, and St Luke is careful to record how Jesus praised the one grateful Samaritan leper, and chose the good Samaritan rather than the indifferent Priest and icy-hearted Levite as the type of love to our neighbour. He also records two special and pointed rebukes of the Saviour against the spirit of intolerance:—one when the Sons of Thunder wanted to call down fire from heaven on the churlish Samaritan village—Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of. For the Son of Man is not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them: the other when He rebuked the narrowness which said “We forbad him, because he followeth not us,” with the words Forbid him not; for he that is not against us is for us[47].

We may notice further that St Luke’s Gospel is characterised by

(xi) Its careful chronological order (1–3);

(xii) Its very important preface.

(xiii) Its command of the Greek language[48].

(xiv) The prominence given to the antithesis between light and darkness, forgiveness and non-forgiveness, God and Satan (Luke 4:13, Luke 8:12, Luke 10:17-20, Luke 13:10-17, Luke 22:3; Luke 22:31-34).

(xv) The familiarity with the LXX[49] (ἐπίβαλλον, ἐπισιτισμὸς, ὕψιστος, στιγμή, ἀντιβάλλειν, εὔθετοι, περισπᾶσθαι, δοχή, λυσιτελεῖ &c.) and the Apocrypha (see Luke 12:19, Luke 18:8, Luke 6:35, Luke 1:42).

Although there is an Hebraic tinge in the hymns and speeches which St Luke merely records, and in narratives where he is following an earlier or Aramaic document, his own proper style abounds in isolated phrases and words chiefly classical[50], and his style is more flowing than that of St Matthew and St Mark. His peculiar skill as a writer lies rather in ‘psychologic comments[51],’ and the reproduction of conversations with their incidents, than in such graphic and vivid touches as those of St Mark. He is also a great master of light and shade, i.e. he shews remarkable skill in the presentation of profoundly instructive contrasts—e.g. Zacharias and Mary; Simon and the Sinful Woman; Martha and Mary; the Pharisee and the Publican; the Good Samaritan, Priest, and Levite; Dives and Lazarus; beatitudes and woes; tears and Hosannas; and the penitent and impenitent robber.

It is the presence of these characteristics that has earned for this Gospel the praise (already mentioned) of being “the most beautiful book that has ever been written[52].”

The Miracles peculiar to St Luke are

1. The miraculous draught of fishes. Luke 5:4-11.

2. The raising of the widow’s son at Nain. Luke 7:11-18.

3. The woman with the spirit of infirmity. Luke 13:11-17.

4. The man with the dropsy. Luke 14:1-6.

5. The ten lepers. Luke 17:11-19.

6. The healing of Malchus. Luke 22:50-51.

The Parables peculiar to St Luke are

1. The two debtors. Luke 7:41-43.

2. The good Samaritan. Luke 10:25-37.

3. The importunate friend. Luke 11:5-8.

4. The rich fool. Luke 12:16-21.

5. The barren fig-tree. Luke 13:6-9.

6. The lost piece of silver. Luke 15:8-10.

7. The prodigal son. Luke 15:11-32.

8. The unjust steward. Luke 16:1-13.

9. Dives and Lazarus. Luke 16:19-31.

10. The unjust Judges 18:1-8.

11. The Pharisee and the publican. Luke 18:10-14.

The two first chapters and the great section, Luke 9:51 to Luke 18:14, are mainly peculiar to St Luke.

And in addition to those already noted above, other remarkable incidents or utterances peculiar to him are John the Baptist’s answers to the people (Luke 3:10-14); the weeping over Jerusalem (Luke 19:41-44); the conversation with Moses and Elias (Luke 9:28-36); the bloody sweat (Luke 22:44); the sending of Jesus to Herod (Luke 23:7-12); the address to the Daughters of Jerusalem (27–31); the prayer, “Father, forgive them” (Luke 23:34); the penitent robber (40–43); the disciples at Emmaus (Luke 24:13-31); particulars of the Ascension (Luke 24:50-53). Additional touches which are sometimes of great importance may be found in Luke 3:22 (“in a bodily shape”), Luke 4:13 (“for a season”), Luke 4:1-6, Luke 5:17; Luke 5:29; Luke 5:39, Luke 6:11, Luke 7:21, &c.



Many writers have endeavoured to arrange the contents of this and the other Gospels in schemes illustrative of the dogmatic connexions in accordance with which the various sections are supposed to be woven together and subordinated to each other. Without here giving any opinion about the other Gospels, I must state my conviction that, as far as St Luke is concerned, such hypothetic arrangements have not been successful. No two writers have agreed in their special schemes, and the fact that each writer who has attempted such an analysis has seized on very different points of connexion, shews that all such attempts have been more or less arbitrary, however ingenious. It seems to me that if the Gospels had been arranged on these purely subjective methods the clue to such arrangement would have been more obvious, and also that we should, in that case, lose something of that transparent and childlike simplicity of motive which adds such immense weight to the testimony of the Evangelists as the narrators of historic facts. Nor is it probable that the existence of this subjective symmetry of composition would have escaped the notice of so many centuries of Christian students and Fathers. When St Luke tells Theophilus that he had decided to set forth in order the accepted facts of the Christian faith, I believe that the order he had in view was mainly chronological, and that the actual sequence of events, so far as it was recoverable from the narratives (διηγήσεις) or the oral sources which he consulted, was his chief guide in the arrangement of his Gospel[53]. Various lessons may be observed or imagined in the order in which one event is placed after another, but these lessons lie deep in the chronological facts themselves, not in the method of the writer. The sort of analysis attempted by modern writers has hitherto only furnished each subsequent analyst with an opportunity for commenting on the supposed failures of his predecessors. For those however who disagree with these views, able and thoughtful endeavours to set forth the narrative in accordance with such a predetermined plan may be found in Van Oosterzee’s Introduction, § 5, in Westcott’s Introduction to the Gospels, pp. 364–366, and McClellan’s New Testament, 427–438.

A recent writer—the Rev. W. Stewart (The Plan of St Luke’s Gospel, Glasgow, 1873)—has endeavoured to shew that St Luke arranged many of his materials alphabetically, in accordance with the first letter of the word predominant in the section. He narrates the events in 1–3:20 and Luke 18:15 to Luke 24:53 in chronological order, as is shewn by the recurrent notes of time; but according to Mr Stewart the section Luke 3:21 to Luke 10:24 is arranged by its reference to subjects, and Luke 10:25 to Luke 18:14 by the alphabetical order of the word prominent in each section.

The Gospel falls quite simply and naturally into the following sections:—

I. INTRODUCTION. Luke 1:1-4.


i. Announcement of the Forerunner. Luke 1:5-25.

ii. Announcement of the Saviour. 26–38.

iii. Hymns of thanksgiving of Mary and Elizabeth. 39–56.

iv. Birth and Circumcision of the Forerunner. 57–66.

The Benedictus. 67–79.

v. Growth of the Forerunner. 80.


i. The Birth in the Manger. Luke 2:1-7.

Songs and thanksgivings of the Angels and the Shepherds. 8–20.


i. The Circumcision. Luke 2:21.

ii. The Presentation in the Temple. 22–24.

Songs and thanksgivings of Simeon and Anna. 25–38.


i. His growth. 39, 40.

ii. His first visit to Jerusalem. 41–48.

iii. His first recorded words. 49, 50.

iv. His development from boyhood to manhood. 51, 52.


i. In the preaching of John the Baptist. Luke 3:1-14, and His prophecy of the coming Messiah. 16–18.

(Parenthetic anticipation of John’s imprisonment. 19, 20.)

ii. By the descent of the Spirit and the Voice at the Baptism. 21, 22.

The Son of Adam and the Son of God. 23–38.

iii. By victory over the Tempter. Luke 4:1-13.


i. His teaching in Galilee. Luke 4:14-15.

ii. His first recorded Sermon, and rejection by the Nazarenes. 16–30.

iii. His Work in Capernaum and the Plain of Gennesareth. Luke 4:31 to Luke 7:50.

iv. A great Sabbath at Capernaum. Luke 4:31-44.

α. Healing of a demoniac. 33–37.

β. Healing of Peter’s wife’s mother. 38, 39.

γ. Healing of a multitude of the sick. 40–44.

v. The miraculous draught of fishes. Luke 5:1-11.

vi. Work amid the sick, suffering, and sinful. Luke 5:12-32.

α. Healing of a leper and other works of mercy. 12–17.

β. Healing the paralytic. 18–26.

γ. The Call and feast of Matthew. 27–32.

vii. The Saviour teaching and doing good. Luke 5:33 to Luke 7:50.

α. The new and the old. Luke 5:33-39.

β. The Sabbath. Luke 6:1-12.

γ. Choosing of the Apostles. 13–16.

δ. The Sermon on the Mount. 17–49.

ε. The centurion’s servant. Luke 7:1-10.

ζ. The widow’s son raised from the dead. 11–17.

η. His witness to John the Baptist. 18–30.

θ. His complaint against that generation. 31–35.

ι. The woman that was a sinner. 36–50.


i. The first Christian sisterhood. Luke 8:1-3.

ii. Incidents of two great days. 4–56.

α. The first Parable. 4–15.

β. The similitude of the Lamp. 16–18.

γ. Who are His mother and His brethren. 19–21.

δ. Stilling the storm. 22–25.

ε. The Gadarene demoniac. 26–40.

ζ. The daughter of Jairus and the woman with the issue of blood. 41–56.


i. Mission of the Twelve. Luke 9:1-6.

ii. Alarm of Herod. 7–9.

iii. Feeding the five thousand at Bethsaida Julias. 10–17.

iv. Culmination of the training of the Apostles. 18–50.

α. The Confession of St Peter. 18–22.

β. Warning of the coming end. 23–27.

γ. The Transfiguration on Mount Hermon. 28–36.

δ. The Lunatic Boy. 37–42.

ε. Nearer warnings of the coming end. 43–45.

ζ. Lesson of Humility. 46–48.

η. Lesson of Tolerance. 49, 50.

i. Tolerance to the Samaritans. The spirit of Elijah and the spirit of the Saviour. 51–56.

ii. The sacrifices of true discipleship. 57–62.

iii. The Mission of the Seventy. Luke 10:1-20.

iv. The Saviour’s joy at its success and blessedness. 21–24.

v. Love to our neighbour. The Good Samaritan. 25–37.

vi. The one thing needful. Martha and Mary. 38–42.

vii. Lessons of Prayer. Luke 11:1-13.

viii. Open rupture with the Pharisees, and connected incidents and warnings. Luke 11:14 to Luke 12:59.

ix. Teachings, Warnings, Parables, and Miracles, of the Journey in preparation for the coming end. Luke 13:1 to Luke 18:30.

α. Parables:

1. The Great Supper. Luke 14:15-24.

2. Shorter similitudes:

α. The Unfinished Tower. 25–30.

β. The Prudent King. 31–33.

γ. Savourless Salt. 34, 35.

3. The Lost Sheep. Luke 15:1-7.

4. The Lost Piece of Silver. 8–10.

5. The Prodigal Son. 11–32.

6. The Unjust Steward. Luke 16:1-12.

7. Warnings against avarice; Rich Man and Lazarus. 13–31.

β. Shorter sayings:

Offences, Luke 17:1-2. Forgiveness, Luke 17:3-4. Faith, Luke 17:5-6. Service, Luke 17:7-10. Gratitude (the Ten Lepers), Luke 17:11-19. Coming of the kingdom of God, Luke 17:20-37. Prayer (the Importunate Widow), Luke 18:1-8. The Pharisee and the Publican, Luke 18:9-14. Children, Luke 18:15-17. Sacrifice for Christ’s sake. The Great Refusal, Luke 18:18-30.


i. Prediction of the approaching end. Luke 18:31-34.

ii. The healing of Blind Bartimaeus. Luke 18:35-43.

iii. The Repentant Publican, Zacchaeus. Luke 19:1-10.

iv. The Parable of the Pounds. 10–27.

v. The Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem. 28–40.

vi. The Saviour weeping over Jerusalem. 41–44.

vii. The Cleansing of the Temple. 45, 46.

XII. THE LAST DAYS OF THE SAVIOUR’S LIFE. Luke 19:47 to Luke 21:38.

i. The Day of Questions. 20

α. Question of the Priests and Elders. 1–8.

Parable of the Vineyard. 9–18.

β. Question about the tribute-money. 19–26.

γ. Question of the Sadducees. 27–39.

δ. Question of Christ. 39–44.

Last denunciation of the Scribes. 45–47.

ii. Farewell to the Temple, and last warnings. 21

α. The widow’s mite. 1–4.

β. Prophecy against the Temple. 5, 6.

γ. Signs and warnings of the last times. 7–38.


i. The plots of enemies. Luke 22:1-6.

ii. The Last Supper. Warnings and farewells. 7–38.

iii. The Agony in the Garden. 39–46.

iv. The Betrayal. 47–49.

v. The Arrest. 50–53.

vi. Trial before the Priests, and Peter’s denials. 54–62.

First derision. 63–65.

vii. Trial before the Sanhedrim. 66–71.

viii. Trial before Pilate, and first acquittal. Luke 23:1-4.

ix. Trial before Herod. Second derision, and acquittal. 5–12.

x. Pilate’s endeavour to release Him. The Jews choose Barabbas. Condemnation to Death. 13–26.

xi. The Daughters of Jerusalem. 27–31.

xii. The Crucifixion. 32–38.

xiii. The Penitent Robber. 39–45.

xiv. The Saviour’s Death. 46–49.


i. The Entombment. Luke 23:50-56.

ii. The Resurrection. Luke 24:1-12.

iii. The Disciples at Emmaus. 13–32.

iv. Appearance to the Twelve, and last teachings of the Risen Saviour. 33–49.


In making this synopsis I have merely followed plain and obvious indications without being influenced by any temptation to produce numerical concinnity. It will however be at once observed that in the sections and subsections we find a recurrence of the sacred numbers three and seven[55]. Further attention will be called to this point in the subsequent notes. By regarding various sections as a conclusion or appendix, the prevalence of these numbers might easily be made still more obvious. The Greek training of the Evangelist would lead him to this symmetrical arrangement, and his familiarity with Aramaic documents explains his partiality for the Numbers 3, 7.



The common dialect (ἡ κοινή) was composed of various elements, and owed its origin and dissemination to the conquests of Alexander the Great. It is a somewhat corrupt and loose Attic, with peculiarities derived from the old Doric Macedonian, and from other sources. It was spoken at Alexandria, in which city there was a large conflux of men of different nationalities. It is the dialect in which the Septuagint translation of the Old Testament was written by Jews residing in Egypt. This accounts for the Hebraic and Oriental idioms which we find in their dialect, and these idioms took root the more readily because large colonies of Jews were to be found all along the coasts of the Mediterranean, and indeed in almost every region of the civilised world[56].

The word Ἑλληνίζω came to mean ‘I speak Greek as a foreigner,’ but the word Hellenist generally means a Greek-speaking Jew, and the only writings in this dialect are those of Jews.

The peculiarities of Hellenistic Greek are found [1] in its phraseology, [2] in its syntax.

I. In its phraseology (A) it admits

α. New forms of words, as ψεῦσμα, νῖκος, νουθεσία, ἐκχύνειν, στήκω, ὀμνύω for ψεῦδος, νίκη, νουθέτησις, ἐκχέειν, ἵστημι, ὄμνυμι.

β. Poetic words, as αὐθεντεῖν, ἀλέκτωρ, ἔσθω, βρέχω, ἄφαντος, αἶνος, ῥομφαία.

γ. Dialectic forms, e.g. (i.) Ionisms, such as γογγύζω, φορτίζω, σκορπίζω, γήρει, εἶπα; (ii) Aeolisms, such as the opt. in εια, ἐξουθενεῖν, ἀποκτέννω, σπέῤῥω; (iii) Dorisms, such as λιμὸς fem., ἤτω, ἀφέωνται; (iv) Latin words like κῆνσος, σπεκουλάτωρ, σουδάριον, κεντουρίων, λεγεών (especially common in St Mark).

δ. Colloquial and vernacular expressions such as σαρῶ, ῥυμὴ, κράββατος, σκύλλω, ὑπωπιάζω.

B. It uses old words in new senses, as συνίστημι, ‘I prove;’ ὀψώνια, ‘wages;’ ἐρεύγεσθαι, ‘to utter;’ γέννημα, ‘fruit;’ λαλία, ‘language;’ παίδευω, ‘I chastise;’ εὐχαριστῶ, ‘I thank;’ ἀνακεῖμαι, ‘I recline.’

C. It frames new words and compounds, such as γρηγορῶ, παιδιόθεν, καλοποιεῖν, αἱματεκχυσία, ταπεινοφροσύνη, ἀκροβυστία, σκηνοπηγία, εἰδωλόθυτον, γλωσσόκομον, ἐκμυκτηρίζω, ἐκκακῶ, and many more. It also adopts many strange phrases from the Hebrew, as δύο δύο, προσέθετο πέμψαι, πρόσωπον λαμβάνειν, πορεύεσθαι ὀπίσω, σπλαγχνίζομαι, ἐξομολογοῦμαί τινι, ποιεῖν ἔλεος μετά, &c.

D. It admits verbal forms and inflections, which are due to false analogy, such as εὕραμεν, οἴδατε, ἧξα, φάγομαι, ἔγνωκαν, καταλείποσαν, ἔφυγαν.

II. In syntax,

α. It aims at simplification by abandoning the dual; by making very sparing use of the ‘optative’ mood, especially in oratio obliqua; by considerably extending the use of the infinitive after verbs; by obliterating many of the finer particles.

β. It admits idioms which in Attic Greek are either very rare, or absolutely solœcistic, such as εἰ with the subjunctive, ὅταν and ἵνα with the present indicative, the omission of ἵνα after θέλω, &c.

γ. It frequently substitutes analytic for synthetic forms, as, for instance, by using εἰμι with a participle for the present tense, ἦν with a participle for the imperfect, ἔσομαι with the participle for the future. It helps out the force of compound verbs by repeating the preposition, as in ἀποκρύπτειν ἀπό, ἐσθίειν ἀπό, προσκυνεῖν ἐνώπιον. It substitutes ἑαυτὸν with the active, for the middle voice, e. g. ἐτάραξεν ἑαυτὸν for ἐταράξατο.

δ. The sentences are arranged more paratactically (i.e. joined by simple copulatives) than syntactically, i.e. they are not woven into compact sentences by subordinate clauses, conjunctions, &c.

Many of these peculiarities are due to the fact that (i.) Greek in the Christian era was in its decadence; (ii.) The New Testament writers learnt it for the most part orally and not from books.

It must not however be supposed that the Greek of the New Testament is, as it has been absurdly called, “a miserable patois.” On the contrary, it becomes in the hands of the Apostles and Evangelists an instrument of incomparable force, and gains in flexibility, energy, adaptability, and clearness what it loses in symmetry and grace.

The ‘critical notes’ at the head of each chapter are purposely few and simple. To have made them exhaustive or complete would have defeated their purpose. I have only noticed the various readings where they seemed to have any real interest or significance, and have paid no attention to minor variations often introduced from the parallel passages, and in no way affecting the sense. In some instances a variation is not recorded in the critical notes, but is for some special reason referred to in the general notes. As the Greek text here presented to the reader—for which the Rev. A. Carr has kindly made himself responsible—is founded on careful critical principles, and represents the consensus of the best editors, there was less necessity to notice minute and unimportant variations in the critical notes.


Gr. Griesbach.

La. Lachmann.

Ti. Tischendorf.

W.H. Westcott and Hort.

LXX. Septuagint.

Vulg. Vulgate.

It. Old Latin Version (Itala).

Sah. Sahidic Version.

R. V. Revised Version.

A. V. Authorised Version.

Rec. The Textus Receptus.



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 ἧν 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.—Οἰκήμασι or δώμασι might be understood, but in fact the article alone—τὰ, ‘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[425]); Job 18:20, ἐν τοῖς αὐτοῦ ζήσονται ἕτεροι, ‘others shall live in his house.’ See too Genesis 41:51, LXX[426] 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.”



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, Amaziah omitted]
















Jeconiah and his brethren


















































(in 1 Chronicles 3:19 we find Pedaiah, who was perhaps the actual father; Shealtiel may have adopted his nephew1#1 Some authorities maintain that Zerubbabel was the grandson of Shealtiel, and that we have six sons of Shealtiel in 1 Chronicles 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





















Johanan (Hananiah, 1 Chronicles 3:19).


Judah (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

A. The difference in the number of the generations;

B. The difficulties in the dissimilarity of the names.

A. 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 three tesseradecads[427]. 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. St Luke’s genealogy is tacitly arranged in eleven sevens.

B. 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.

1. 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[428] marriages (Deuteronomy 25:5-6; 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 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’).

2. 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 37th 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 Luke 1:31.)

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 9:4-5).

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 successionis; 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.

3. 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[429], 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 furnishes 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.



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 suncracked 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 ἀσκὸς implies[430]. 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.



After the very learned and elaborate examination to which the word has been subjected by Bishop Lightfoot, On Revision 195–234, and Dr McClellan, 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 ἐπὶ 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 artificial ‘afterthoughts of theology.’

The decision depends partly on the etymology. It has been thought that the word may be derived from ἐπὶ and ἰέναι, or from ἐπὶ and οὐσία.

It seems however an insuperable objection to the latter etymology that the word is ἐπιούσιος not ἐπούσιος; 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 ἐπὶ and ἰέναι it comes either from ὁ ἐπιὼν χρόνος or ἡ ἐπιοῦσα ἡμέρα. 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 McClellan, 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[431] 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).


ON Luke 22:7


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.

1. 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 26:17-19; Mark 14:14-16; Luke 22:7; Luke 22:11-13; Luke 22:15).

2. 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 (Luke 13:1, “before the Feast of the Passover;” 29, “those things that we have need of against the feast;” Luke 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 (Luke 19:14) that Friday was “the preparation of the Passover.” Here the word used is παρασκευή (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.’ (See the note on Luke 23:54.)

3. 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—it seems more simple to accept his 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 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 bitter herbs; 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.



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 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 Maccabees 4:9). They may be most briefly described as the antinational 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 Maccabees 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 Maccabees 2:42; 1 Maccabees 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; see notes on Luke 11:42-54). Those charges were mainly against their greed, ambition, tyranny, and sacrifice of essential things to unimportant minutiae,—in one word, their arbitrary and excessive ceremonialism, which had led them to subordinate 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.



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.

Luke 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 Maccabees 3:24) for instrusion 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.”

Luke 2:25. Waiting for the consolation of Israel

Luke 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.

Luke 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.

Luke 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.

Luke 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.

Luke 7:50. Go in peace

Lit. ‘into peace’ (εἰς εἰρήνην), comp. Luke 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.’ In all other cases 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.

Luke 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.

Luke 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.

Luke 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.

Luke 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.”

Luke 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.

Luke 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.

Luke 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.

Luke 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.

Luke 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.

Luke 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.

Luke 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.”

Luke 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.

Luke 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.

Luke 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.

Luke 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.

Luke 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.

Luke 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.

Luke 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.

Luke 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.