The Galileans killed by Pilate. The Unfruitful Fig Tree. Lament Over Jerusalem
1-9. Three exhortations to repentance, of which the former two are based on recent events, and the third is a parable. All are peculiar to Lk.
1. Whose blood Pilate] These men had evidently been killed in the courts of the Temple for some real or suspected sedition while they were slaying their victims, an act which was performed not by the priests, but by the offerers, or their servants. Nothing is known of this particular act of atrocity, but Philo, a contemporary writer, speaks of Pilate's repeated massacres of persons uncondemned, and insatiable and most grievous ferocity. It was perhaps either the cause or the consequence of the enmity between Herod and Pilate mentioned Luke 23:12.
2. Were sinners] see on John 9:3.
3. Shall all likewise perish] This was literally fulfilled at the destruction of Jerusalem, but probably Jesus means, 'as these have suffered literal death, so you shall all suffer spiritual death.'
4. Tower in Siloam fell] Another unknown incident. It is plausibly conjectured that this tower was part of the waterworks and aqueduct which Pilate built with the sacred money of the Temple treasury (Korbanas), to the great scandal of pious Jews. The persons killed were probably workmen, whose death was regarded as a judgment for their impiety. For 'Siloam' see on John 9:7.
The idea was very common among the Jews that great calamities are a proof of great sin. This was the view of Job's friends, who were convinced that his great misfortunes argued him a great sinner (Job 4:7; Job 8:2-14, Job 8:20; Job 22:5). Our Lord on several occasions strongly opposed this view (see John 9:2). Sometimes, no doubt, suffering is a direct punishment for sin, but not always, perhaps not generally. In the case of the righteous it often arises from the sin of others, or is permitted as a trial of faith, or as a means of refining and purifying the character. A righteous man's sufferings may even be directly due to his righteousness, as in the case of our Lord, the apostles, Socrates, and numerous missionaries and reformers in all ages and countries.
6-9. The Barren Fig Tree. This parable illustrates the warning (Luke 13:3, Luke 13:5), 'Except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.' A certain man (God) had a fig tree (the Jewish nation) in his vineyard (the world), and he came (at various crises of their history) seeking fruit (good works and pure religion) and found none. And he said to the vine-dresser (the Son of God), Behold these three years (under the Law, under the Prophets, and under the Scribes) I come seeking fruit. Cut it down. Why, besides being unfruitful, doth it also cumber the ground (prevent the conversion of the world)? And the vine-dresser (Christ) answered, Lord, let it alone this year also (for a further time of grace), till I dig about it and dung it (i.e. preach the gospel, show signs and wonders, send down the Spirit, do all things for its conversion), and if it bear fruit thenceforth, well; but if not, thou shalt cut it down (i.e. shalt destroy the nation with its city and Temple): cp. Matthew 21:19. The parable is also capable of a more general application to the individual soul.
10-17. The woman with a spirit of infirmity (peculiar to Lk). The story is told not so much for the sake of the miracle, as for the light it throws upon the question of sabbath observance. It is the only case of Christ's preaching in a synagogue recorded in the latter part of the ministry.
12. He called her] An unasked-for cure.
14. Said unto the people] The ruler durst not openly rebuke Jesus, but indirectly censured Him by censuring the people.
15. Loose his ox] The rabbis, while permitting attention to beasts on the sabbath, did so grudgingly: 'It is not only permitted to lead a beast to the water on the sabbath, but also to draw water for it, yet so that the beast draw near and drink, without the water being carried to it and set down by it.'
16. Satan hath bound] The Jews attributed such ills to Satan. It is not implied that the woman was of evil life.
18-21. The Mustard Seed and the Leaven (Matthew 13:31-33; Mark 4:30). See on Mt.
22-30. Are they few that be saved? Jesus does not directly reply to the question, but warns His hearers of the difficulty of obtaining salvation, of the danger of delaying repentance, and of the probable rejection of many unbelieving descendants of Abraham, and of the salvation of many believing Gentiles. There are close parallels in St. Matthew.
23, 24. See on Matthew 7:13, Matthew 7:14. Gate] i.e. 'door.'
25. The master] i.e. our Lord. The 'shutting the door' takes place at Christ's second coming, or perhaps at the death of each individual. Lord, open] see on Matthew 25:10-12, also Matthew 7:23.
26. This v. specially applies to the Jews.
27. Depart] see on Matthew 25:41.
28, 29. See on Matthew 8:11, Matthew 8:12.
30. See on Matthew 20:1-16.
31-35. Message to Herod Antipas, and lament over Jerusalem. This threat of Herod is peculiar to Lk.
31. Certain of the Pharisees] Probably they wished to frighten Jesus out of the dominions of Herod, where He was tolerably safe, into Judæa, where He would be in the power of the Sanhedrin: cp. Amaziah's attempt to frighten Amos (Amos 7:10-17). Herod] For his biography see on Matthew 14:1-11. Will] RV 'would fain kill thee.' Herod may have used threatening words, or there may have been a rumour to that effect, but it is certain that he did not seriously seek our Lord's death: cp. Luke 23:11.
32. That fox] The fox is an emblem of cunning, not of cruelty. Behold] i.e. 'I perform My ministry today and tomorrow (i.e. for the time appointed), and on the third day (i.e. when My hour is come) I shall be perfected by death. No threats of Herod can shorten My ministry, or hasten the hour of My death.' Perfected] He calls His death His 'perfecting,' because by it He perfected His work by atoning for the sins of the world, also because it was followed by His glorious resurrection and ascension, whereby His human nature was 'perfected' or glorified.
33. Nevertheless, etc.] i.e. 'Yet although My death is so near, I must labour for the time appointed. Herod cannot prevent Me. He cannot destroy Me here in remote Galilee, for it is only in Jerusalem that a prophet can die.' Walk] RV 'go on my way.' Out of Jerusalem] 'The saying is severely ironical, and that in two ways: (1) According to overwhelming precedent, Jerusalem is the place in which a prophet ought to be put to death; for it had obtained by usage the right to slay the prophets (Grotius). (2) It is not Herod that will be the murderer. It is at your hands, in your capital that I shall die' (Plummer).
34, 35. Matthew 23:37-39. See on Mt.
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Dummelow, John. "Commentary on Luke 13". "John Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/
the Third Week after Epiphany