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Bible Commentaries
Luke 20

Ellicott's Commentary for English ReadersEllicott's Commentary

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Verses 1-8


(1-8) And it came to pass.—See Notes on Matthew 21:23-27; Mark 11:27-33.

And preached the gospel.—The Greek verb (to evangelise) is one specially characteristic of St. Luke. Neither St. Mark nor St. John use it at all; St. Matthew once only (Matthew 11:5), in a passive sense; St. Luke ten times in the Gospel, fifteen times in the Acts. So in the Epistles, neither St. John nor St. James use it; St. Peter once; St. Paul twenty times. It, too, was clearly one of the words which the two friends and fellow-workers had in common.

Came upon him.—The Greek word, like the English, expresses something of a sudden, and, it might be, concerted movement.

Verse 2

(2) Tell us, by what authority . . .?—The form of the question is nearly identical in the three Gospels.

Verse 6

(6) All the people will stone us.—St. Luke gives the more vivid utterance in place of the more general “we fear the people” in the other Gospels. As indicating the readiness of the people of Jerusalem to proceed to extremities of this kind, we may refer to their treatment of our Lord (John 8:59; John 10:31) and Stephen (Acts 7:58-59).

Verses 9-19

(9-19) Then began he to speak to the people.—See Notes on Matthew 21:33-46; Mark 12:1-12. The presence of this, as well as of the last section, in the first three Gospels, with so little variation, indicates the impression which these facts and teaching made at the time, and probably also that they occupied a prominent place in the early records that served as the basis of our present Gospels.

A certain man planted a vineyard.—The absence of the fuller detail in St. Matthew and St. Mark shows that St. Luke’s report was not derived from them, but probably from a version, orally repeated, of that which they reported more fully. On the other hand, the addition of “for a long time” is peculiar to St. Luke, and reminds us of the like phrase in Matthew 25:19.

Verse 10

(10) Beat him, and sent him away empty.—The description agrees almost verbally with St. Mark.

Verse 11

(11) And sent him away empty.—The emphatic repetition of the words that had been used in the previous verse is peculiar to St. Luke.

Verse 12

(12) They wounded him also.—The verb is peculiar to St. Luke, and has a characteristic half-surgical ring in it. It is used by him again in Acts 19:16.

Verse 13

(13) It may be.—The doubt implied in the qualification is a feature peculiar to St. Luke’s report. The better MSS. omit the clause “when they see him.”

Verse 16

(16) He shall come and destroy these husbandmen.—St. Luke agrees with St. Mark in putting these words into our Lord’s lips, and not, as St. Matthew does, into those of the by-standers.

They said, God forbid.—No other English phrase could well be substituted for this, but it is worth remembering that the name of God does not appear in the original, and that the ejaculation is simply, as it were, a negative Amen, “So be it not.” Its insertion hero is peculiar to St. Luke, nor does it occur elsewhere in the Gospels. St. Paul uses it frequently, as in Romans 3:4; Romans 3:6; Romans 3:31; Romans 6:2; Romans 6:15, et al.

Verse 17

(17) And he beheld them.—Better, He looked on them. The Greek verb implies the gaze turned and fixed on its object, in addition to the mere act of beholding.

Verse 18

(18) Whosoever shall fall upon that stone.—See Note on Matthew 21:44. The verse, which is omitted by many of the best MSS. in St. Matthew, is found in all MSS. of St. Luke. If we were to receive it, on this evidence, as belonging strictly to the latter Gospel only, the Greek word for “bruised” might take its place among those classical, or perhaps quasi-medical, terms characteristic of St. Luke. (See Note on Luke 20:12, and Introduction.)

Verses 20-26

(20-26) And they watched him.—See Notes on Matthew 22:15-22 and Mark 12:13-17.

And sent forth spies.—The noun is, again, one of St. Luke’s characteristic words not used by any other New Testament writer. It expresses rather the act of those who lie in ambush, than that of “spies” in the strict sense of the words. St. Luke is, on the one hand, less definite as to the parties to the conspiracy than the other Gospels, and on the other hand more explicit as to its aim. They wanted materials for an accusation before Pilate, as well as for one before the Sanhedrin. On the omission of the name of the Herodians, see Note on Luke 6:11.

Power and authority.—We have again the characteristic combination of the two substantives. (See Note on Luke 12:11.)

Verse 21

(21) Neither acceptest thou the person of any.—To “accept the person” takes the place of “regarding” or “looking at” the person of Matthew 22:16, where see Note. The precise combination which St. Luke uses meets us again in Galatians 2:6.

Verse 23

(23) Their craftiness.—The Greek noun does not appear in the other Gospels, but is used four times by St. Paul, as in 2 Corinthians 4:2; Ephesians 4:14.

Verse 26

(26) And they could not take hold of his words.—As St. Luke is fuller in his account of the plot of the questioners (Luke 20:20), so is he in that of its defeat.

They marvelled at his answer.—There is an interesting, though obviously undesigned, parallelism with the narrative of the incident in which the Lord Jesus was first brought face to face with the Rabbis of Jerusalem. Then also “they were astonished at His answers” (Luke 2:47). The childhood was, in this respect, a prophecy of the manhood.

Verses 27-39

(27-39) Then came to him certain of the Sadducees.—See Notes on Matthew 22:23-33; Mark 12:18-27.

Verse 34

(34) The children of this world marry.—The three reports of the question are all but absolutely identical. In the form of the answer there are slight variations. The contrast between “the children of this world “or “age,” those, i.e., who belong to it (see Note on Luke 16:8), and those of “that world” or “age,” is peculiar to St. Luke. In both cases the word rests primarily on the idea of time rather than place. It may be noted that no other writer in the New Testament uses the form of words, “that world,” the age or period that is there, not here, for the life of the eternal kingdom. The more common phrase is “the world to come” (Matthew 12:32; Matthew 19:30).

Verse 35

(35) They which shall be accounted worthy.—Another word common to St. Luke and St. Paul (2 Thessalonians 1:5), and to them only in the New Testament.

Verse 36

(36) Neither can they die any more.—The record of this teaching is peculiar to St. Luke. The implied thought is that death and marriage are correlative facts in God’s government of the world, the one filling up the gaps which are caused by the other. In the life eternal there is no need for an addition in this way to the number of the elect, and therefore there is no provision for it.

Equal unto the angels.—The one Greek word which answers to the English four is again peculiar to St. Luke.

The children of God, being the children of the resurrection.—It is obvious that here the resurrection is assumed to be unto life and to a share in the divine kingdom. The fact that men were counted worthy to obtain that resurrection was a proof that they were “children of God,” and as such on the same footing as those other “sons of God,” whom the language of Scripture (Job 1:6; Job 38:7, and possibly Genesis 6:12) identified with the angels.

Verse 37

(37) Even Moses shewed at the bush.—The precise meaning of the verb is that of “indicating,” “pointing to,” rather than actually “shewing.” In his mode of reference to the words of Exodus 3:6, St. Luke agrees with St. Mark (Mark 12:26).

Verse 38

(38) For all live unto him.—St. Luke alone adds the words. They are of value as developing the meaning of those that precede them. All life, in the truest, highest sense of that term, depends upon our relation to God. We live to Him, and in Him. And so when He reveals Himself as the God of those who have passed from earth, He witnesses that that relation continues still. They are not dead, but are still living unto Him. We may, perhaps, connect the thought thus expressed with St. Paul’s words, “in Him we live, and move, and have our being,” in his speech at Athens. (See Note on Acts 17:28.)

Verse 39

(39) Master, thou hast well said.—The words came, it is obvious, from the better section of the Pharisees, who welcomed this new defence of the doctrine on which their faith rested.

Verse 40

(40) They durst not ask him any question at all.—The singular omission by St. Luke of the question which is recorded by St. Matthew (Matthew 22:34-40) and St. Mark (Mark 12:28-34), and which would have fallen m so well with the general scope and tenor of his Gospel, may take its place, though we cannot account for it except on the supposition that he did not know the facts, as one of the many proofs of his entire independence as a narrator.

Verses 41-42

(41, 42) How say they that Christ is David’s son?—Better, that the Christ. See Notes on Matthew 22:41-46; Mark 12:35-37. The implied subject of the verb is clearly, as in St. Mark, “the scribes.” St. Luke agrees with St. Mark in not giving the preliminary question, “What think ye of Christ? . . ,” which we find in St. Matthew.

Verses 45-47

(45-47) Then in the audience of all the people.—Better, in the hearing. See Notes on Matthew 23:0, especially Luke 20:6-7, and Mark 12:38-40. St. Luke’s report agrees almost verbally with the latter.

Chief rooms.—Better, chief places.

Bibliographical Information
Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on Luke 20". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ebc/luke-20.html. 1905.
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