Bible Commentaries

John Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible

Luke 17

Verses 1-37

Occasions of Offence. The Ten Lepers. The Second Advent

1, 2. On causing others to sin. See on Matthew 18:6, Matthew 18:7.

2, One of these little ones] An affectionate designation of the disciples, especially such as were beginners and easily led astray. Perhaps the converted publicans and sinners of Luke 15:1-2 are specially meant.

3, 4. The duty of forgiveness. We are to forgive an unlimited number of times, yet we may rebuke in love: cp. Leviticus 19:17. See on Matthew 18:15, Matthew 18:21.

3. Trespass against thee] RV 'sin.'

5, 6. On faith and its effects. See on Matthew 17:20; Matthew 21:21.

5. Increase our faith] Others render, 'Give us faith in addition,' i.e. add it to the gifts already promised. Whether the 'faith' mentioned is faith in general, or the faith which enables to forgive a brother seven times, is not clear.

6. Sycamine] This word means sometimes the 'mulberry tree,' sometimes the 'sycomore,'

7-10. That works do not justify. 'Our Lord having exhorted His disciples to good works, now proceeds to rebuke the vainglory which so often accompanies them, showing that as a master is under no obligation to a slave who performs his appointed tasks, so neither is God to us. But since God is gracious, He treats those who are slaves, as if they were free hired labourers, and recompenses their labours with a reward, and receives their service which is strictly due, as if it were meritorious, and gives a requital out of all proportion to the toil. Thus the goodness of God is stronger than His justice' (Euthymius).

7. A servant]lit. 'aslave.'

11-19. Ten lepers cleansed (peculiar to Lk). For leprosy see on Matthew 8:1-4. The healing of a Samaritan, and the stress laid upon his greater gratitude, is in keeping with the character of this Gentile Gospel.

11. Through the midst of (or, rather, 'between') Samaria and Galilee] 'The caravans of Galilee took either the Samaritan route or the Peræan. Jesus follows neither, but travels along the boundary between Samaria and Galilee. He directed His steps from W. to E. towards the Jordan, which He must cross to enter Peræa' (Godet). 'He seems to have crossed the Jordan at Scythopolis, where there was a bridge, and to have descended along the bank of Jordan in Peræa, until He crossed again near Jericho' (Wetstein).

14. Unto the priests] The Jews probably went to Jerusalem, because of the necessary sacrifices; the Samaritan to Mt. Gerizim, unless we are to suppose that he became a Jewish proselyte. As they went] The healing was delayed to test their faith.

19. Thy faith hath made thee whole (or, 'saved thee')] i.e. not only has it healed thy body, but also thy soul. It was otherwise with the other nine lepers. Their ingratitude imperilled their continuance in that state of Salvation in which their faith had placed them.

20, 21. When and how the Kingdom of God appears (peculiar to Lk). The question of the Pharisees was probably a mocking one—'When is this Kingdom of God of which thou sayest so much, and of which thou claimest to be King, visibly to appear?'

20. Cometh not with observation] i.e. cannot be observed by the senses, is not manifested by outward signs or political changes.

21. Is within you] i.e. within your hearts. But since Jesus would hardly say that the Kingdom of God is within the hearts of the Pharisees, the better translation is, 'The Kingdom of God is among you,' but ye do not perceive it.

22-37. On the coming of the Son of man. The Pharisees having now withdrawn, Jesus proceeds to speak more unreservedly to the disciples of the final and glorious coming of His Kingdom, which will be heralded by visible signs, which yet will be hard to interpret, so that in the end the Son of man will appear unexpectedly. St. Matthew inserts many of these sayings in the great discourse on the end of the world, and the fall of Jerusalem (Matthew 24), where they are equally suitable to the context.

22. To see one of the days] i.e. 'In your future tribulations and persecutions you will desire to see one of the days of bliss and glory, which will follow the Second Coming of the Son of man. You will desire a glimpse of heaven to comfort you in your calamities.' Plummer ingeniously translates: 'You will desire to see the first of the days of the Son of man,' i.e. the day of the Second Advent. The ordinary interpretation, 'You will look back with regret on the peaceful and happy days of My earthly ministry, and long to see even one of them again,' does not suit the context.

And ye shall not see it] not because it will not come, but because it will not come in those days of your longing for it.

23. See on Matthew 24:23. See here] is the Son of man, etc.

24. See on Matthew 24:27. In his day] Westcott and Hort (but not RV) omit these words.

25. Cp. Mark 8:31.

26, 27. See on Matthew 24:37-39.

26. Also in the days] i.e. in the days when the Son of man will return. We should have expected 'in the day of the Son of man,' as in Luke 17:30.

28-30. Peculiar to Lk. See Genesis 19.

31. In Matthew 24:17, q.v., these words are advice to the Christians of Jerusalem with regard to their hasty flight from the city just before its fall. Here they refer to Christ's Second Coming, and warn Christians, when that day is imminent, to be completely detached from worldly affairs and worldly interests. The language is parabolic, and must be spiritually interpreted.

32. Remember Lot's wife] who was not detached from worldly things, but looked back with longing towards Sodom, and the wealth and luxury which she had left there.

33. In Matthew 10:39; Matthew 16:25, where the same words occur, the reference is to willingness to suffer martyrdom. Here the idea is more general: 'He who sets too much value on his earthly life, shall lose his eternal life.'

34, 35. See on Matthew 24:40, Matthew 24:41.

36. Omitted by RV and the best authorities.

37. See on Matthew 24:28; (first interpretation).

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Bibliographical Information
Dummelow, John. "Commentary on Luke 17". "John Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible". 1909.