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Bible Commentaries

Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible

Luke 10

Verses 1-42

The Seventy. The Good Samaritan. Martha and Mary

1-16. Choice and mission of the Seventy (peculiar to Lk). Another step in the organisation of the Church. The Seventy receive a subordinate commission, similar to that of the apostles, to preach and to cast out devils (Luke 10:9, Luke 10:17). Two motives may be discerned in the sending forth of so numerous a body of missionaries. (1) The time before His Passion was now short, and Jesus wished the message of salvation to reach as many Israelites as possible. (2) He wished to train His followers to act alone after His departure. Probably the Twelve did not accompany the Seventy. Jesus kept them with Him for special personal training.

The number 70 is significant. It was the number of the Sanhedrin. As Jesus had already set up twelve new Patriarchs of the New Israel, so now He establishes a new Sanhedrin. The Jews deduced this number from the seventy elders of Numbers 11:16, Numbers 11:24. Or the number may symbolise the nations of the earth. The Jews held, agreeably to Genesis 10, that the human race was made up of 70 peoples, 14 descended from Japhet, 30 from Ham, and 26 from Shem. If, as is not unlikely, the appointment of the Seventy took place about the Feast of Tabernacles, the ritual of the feast may have had something to do with the number, for then 70 bullocks were offered on behalf of the Gentile nations. The rabbis said, ’They offer seventy bullocks for the seventy nations, to make atonement for them, that the rain may fall upon the fields of all the world.’ The charge to the Seventy reads like an abridged report of St. Matthew’s charge to the Twelve. It contains only one v., and that an unimportant one (Luke 10:8), which is not in St. Matthew. St. Luke, however, is not dependent upon St. Matthew, for he arranges the sayings in quite a different order. The close similarity of the two charges is best accounted for by supposing that Christ gave nearly the same directions to the Seventy as to the Twelve. It should be observed, however, that He does not confine their mission to the Israelites. In Peræa the Gentiles were numerous.

1. Seventy] Many ancient authorities read ’seventy-two’ here and in Luke 10:17.

6. The son of peace] RV ’a son of peace,’ i.e. one inclined to peace. A Hebrew idiom. 8. Peculiar to Luke. The ministers of the gospel are not to be dainty or luxurious.

13-15. See on Matthew 11:21-24, where the words occur in quite a different connexion.

17-20. Return of the Seventy (peculiar to Lk).

18. I beheld Satan] Our Lord poetically compares Satan’s discomfiture at the successful mission of the Seventy to his original fall from heaven. The only other allusion to the fall of Satan in the Gospels, and perhaps in the Bible, is John 8:44.

19. Serpents and scorpions] Victory over spiritual foes is meant, rather than immunity from bodily injury, yet cp. Mark 16:18; Acts 28:3-5. The enemy is Satan (Matthew 13:25).

20. Jesus bids the disciples rejoice not, as they are doing, because they have miraculous powers, but because their names are enrolled as citizens of heaven in the book of life (Isaiah 4:3; Daniel 12:1; Exodus 32:32; Revelation 3:5, etc.).

21-24. The revelation to babes (Matthew 11:25-27). See on Mt.

21. In spirit] RV ’in the Holy Spirit.’ One of St. Luke’s characteristic references to the Holy Spirit. Christ’s acts and emotions, as well as His words were inspired.

23, 24. See on Matthew 13:16, Matthew 13:17.

25-37. Parable of the Good Samaritan (peculiar to Lk). This lawyer is not to be identified with that of Matthew 22:3; Mark 12:28

25-28. See on Matthew 22:35-40.

29. Who is my neighbour?] The ’lawyer’ intended to justify himself by showing that, even upon a liberal interpretation of the word ’neighbour,’ he had done his duty. He expected Christ to say that a neighbour was a friend or at least an Israelite. The idea that a ’neighbour’ might be a foreigner had never occurred to him. The rabbis said, ’He excepts all Gentiles when he saith His neighbour.’ ’An Israelite killing a stranger-inhabitant doth not die for it by the Sanhedrin, because it is said, If any one lifts up himself against his neighbour.’ ’We are not to contrive the death of the Gentiles, but if they are in any danger of death we are not bound to deliver them, e.g. if any of them fall into the sea you need not take him out, for such a one is not thy neighbour.’ In answer Christ appealed to the man’s conscience, not to his reason. If Christ had said ’a heathen is thy neighbour,’ the man would have argued the point with learned subtlety. Instead of this Jesus told him a story in which a man treated a foreigner as a neighbour, and the lawyer was bound to confess that this was in accordance with the mind of God.

30-37. A sufficient motive for this parable is provided, if it be understood as simply inculcating the duty of benevolence to persons of all kinds with whom we are brought in contact, enemies as well as friends, foreigners as well as fellow-countrymen, because ’God has made of one (blood) all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth’ (Acts 17:26; Acts 10:28). The traditional allegorical interpretation, however, is too interesting to be entirely passed over. We give it in the words of Euthymius: ’The man is Adam and his offspring, the descent from Jerusalem to Jericho is the Fall. The thieves are the demons who beset our path, and strip us of the garments of virtue and the fear of God, and wound us spiritually by causing us to sin. Man was made half dead, in that he remained immortal in the soul, but mortal in the body. The Priest is the Law given by Moses, the Levite is the teaching of the prophets, and the good Samaritan is Christ Himself. The inn is the Church which receives every kind of man. The innkeeper is every ruler of the Church, i.e. every bishop and successor of the apostles. And the two pence are the Old and the New Testaments, which minister healing to the sick.’

30. Jericho] see on Matthew 20:29. A city of the priests. The road to Jerusalem is still extremely dangerous, being infested by brigands.

33. Samaritan] see on John 4:5.

34. Oil and wine] used as remedies for wounds in the East.

35. Pence] see on Matthew 18:28.

38-42. Jesus at the house of Martha and Mary (peculiar to Lk). It is a striking confirmation of the historic truth of the Fourth Gospel, that the characters of the two sisters—the busy, active, hospitable Martha, the quiet, contemplative, teachable Mary—are the same there as here.

38. Village] i. e. Bethany (John 11:1). St. Luke was probably ignorant of the name. Martha (lit. ’mistress’)] Sometimes supposed to be wife of Simon the Leper. She is a scriptural example of the virtue of hospitality.

39. Mary] Not identical with Mary Magdalene, or the ’sinner’ (Luke 7:37).

At Jesus’ (RV ’the Lord’s) feet] Jesus was reclining on a couch for the meal, with His head towards the table and His feet stretched out behind him. Martha and Mary were both waiting at table, but whereas Martha occupied herself with offering dish after dish, and so was ’cumbered about much serving,’ Mary spent most of her time sitting behind Jesus, and listening to what He was saying. When Martha complained that Mary allowed her to do all the work, Jesus said that He was quite contented with a single dish, and that both sisters would honour Him more by attending to what He said, than by giving Him an elaborate dinner.

42. But one thing is needful] ’There is no need of an elaborate meal. A few dishes or even one would suffice. Indeed, only one portion is really necessary, that which Mary has chosen, to listen to Me.’ Our Lord gently hints to Martha that He would rather have a quiet talk with her on heavenly things, than receive all these hospitable attentions at her hands.

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Bibliographical Information
Dummelow, John. "Commentary on Luke 10". "Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible". 1909.