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Bible Commentaries
Luke 20

The Expositor's Greek TestamentExpositor's Greek Testament

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Verses 1-8

Luke 20:1-8 . By what authority ? (Matthew 21:23-27 , Mark 11:27-33 ). ἐν μιᾷ τ . ἡ ., on one of the days, referred to in Luke 19:47 ; vague note of time. εὐαγγελιζομένου : Lk. wishes his readers to understand that Jesus was not engaged in heated controversy all the time, that His main occupation during these last days was preaching the good news, speaking “words of grace” there as in Galilee and in Samaria. ἐπέστησαν , came upon, with perhaps a suggestion of suddenness (examples in Loesner from Philo), and even of hostility (adorti sunt, Erasmus, Annot. ). In Luke 21:34 Lk. uses a separate word along with the verb to express the idea of suddenness.

Verse 2

Luke 20:2 . εἰπὸν ἡμῖν : peculiar to Lk., makes the question pointed. ταῦτα ought to refer to the preaching, not to the cleansing of the temple, which in Lk. is very slightly noticed. τίς ἐστιν , etc.: a direct question introduced by ἢ , not dependent on εἰπὸν , not altogether distinct from the first question; an alternative form putting it more specifically and more pointedly than in parallels = who is it that gives, who can it be? Authority everything for the interrogants. Every Rabbi had his diploma, every priest his ordination (Farrar).

Verse 3

Luke 20:3 . λόγον : without the ἕνα of the parallels. Vide notes there.

Verse 5

Luke 20:5 . συνελογίσαντο : for the more usual διαλ .; here only in N.T. πρὸς ἑαυτοὺς may be connected either with this verb or with λέγοντες .

Verse 6

Luke 20:6 . καταλιθάσει : in the parallels it is indicated generally that they feared the people; here it is explained why or what they feared: viz. , that the people would stone them; to be taken cum grano . The verb is a ἅπαξ λεγ .; synonyms are καταλιθοῦν (Joseph.), καταλιθοβολεῖν (Exodus 17:4 ). πεπεισμένος points to a fixed permanent conviction, this the force of the perfect participle.

Verse 7

Luke 20:7 . μὴ εἰδέναι : the answer is given in dependent form = οὐκ οἴδαμεν in parallels.

Verse 9

Luke 20:9 . ἤρξατο : this word is less appropriate here than in Mk., where it means: made a beginning in teaching by parables by uttering this particular parable. Here it may signify turning to the people again after disposing of the question of the Pharisees concerning authority. ἐφύτευσεν ἀμπελῶνα : Lk. contents himself with this general statement, omitting the details given in parallels, which explain what planting a vineyard involves. χρόνους ἱκανούς : literally, “for long times,” peculiar to Lk. here; similar phrases are of frequent occurrence in his writings. The “long times” cover the whole period of Israel’s history. The absenteeism of God during these long ages represents the free scope given in providence to the will of man in the exercise of his moral responsibility.

Verses 9-19

Luke 20:9-19 . The parable of the wicked vinedressers (Matthew 21:33-46 , Mark 12:1-12 ). Between the last section and this comes, in Mt., the parable of the Two Sons .

Verse 10

Luke 20:10 . καιρῷ means the fruit season each year; many such seasons at which God sent demanding fruit. ἵνα δώσουσιν : ἵνα with the future in a pure final clause; similar constructions occur in classic Greek, but with ὅπως , not with ἵνα . δείραντες : the gradation in indignities is well marked in Lk. beating, beating with shameful handling ( ἀτιμάσαντες ), ejection with wounding ( τραυματίσαντες ἐξέβαλον ), culminating in murder in the case of the son. In the parallels killing comes in sooner, which is true to the historical fact.

Verse 12

Luke 20:12 . προσέθετο πέμψαι , he added to send, a Hebraism, as in Luke 19:11 .

Verse 13

Luke 20:13 . τί ποιήσω ; deliberative subjunctive, serving to make the step next taken appear something extraordinary. In Mt. it appears simply as the next (final) step in common course. In Mk. the son is the only person left to send. He had yet one, a beloved son, “beloved” added to bring out the significance of sending him. In Lk. the reference to the son has a theological colour: τὸν υἱόν μου τὸν ἀγαπητόν . ἴσως : more than “perhaps” or “it may be” (A.V [162] , R.V [163] ), and less than “without doubt” (“sine dubio,” Wolf). It expresses what may naturally and reasonably be expected = τάχα (Hesychius), or οἶμαι (Bornemann) = I should think (they will reverence him). Here only in N.T.

[162] Authorised Version.

[163] Revised Version.

Verse 15

Luke 20:15 . ἐκβαλόντες ἀπέκτειναν , casting out they killed him, inverting the order of the actions in Mk.; perhaps with prospective reference (on Lk.’s part) to the crucifixion, when Jesus was led outside the city and crucified “without the gate”.

Verse 16

Luke 20:16 . μὴ γένοιτο : here only in the Gospels, frequent in St. Paul’s Epistles (“a Pauline phrase,” Holtzmann, H. C.). Sturz ( De Dialecto Mac. et Alex. ) reckons it an Alexandrine usage, because found in the sense of deprecation only in Sept [164] , N.T., and late Greek writers. Raphel cites an example from Herodotus. This μὴ γένοιτο is put by Lk. into the mouth of the people, as unable to contemplate the doom pronounced on the husbandmen as described by Jesus. In Mt. (Matthew 21:41 ) the people themselves pronounce the doom. The sentiment thus strongly expressed prepares the way for the reference to the “rejected stone”.

[164] Septuagint.

Verses 17-19

Luke 20:17-19 . ἐμβλέψας , looking intently, to give impressiveness to what He is going to say in reply. τί οὖν , etc., what then is (means) this Scripture? the οὖν implying that the words point to the very doom they deprecate. Yet the oracle does not directly indicate the fate of the builders, but rather the unexpected turn in the fortunes of the rejected and despised Stone. In Mt. and Mk. the citation is introduced, without any binding connection with what immediately goes before, to state a fact concerning the future of the “Son” lying outside the parable. They give the citation in full. Lk. omits the last clause: παρὰ κυρίου , etc.

Verse 18

Luke 20:18 points out the bearing of the turn in the fortunes of the “Stone” on the fate of those who rejected Him. The thought is based on Daniel 2:35 . It is not in Mk., and it is a doubtful reading in Mt. It may have been a comment on the oracle from the Psalter suggested to believing minds by the tragic fate of the Jews. They first stumbled on the stone, then the stone fell on them with crushing judicial effect.

Verse 19

Luke 20:19 states the effect of the parabolic discourse of Jesus on the men whom it satirised. They desired to apprehend the obnoxious Speaker on the spot. ἐν αὐτῇ τῇ ὥρᾳ , καὶ ἐφοβήθησαν , etc.: the καὶ here, as in Mk., is in effect = but; vide notes on Mk. ἔγνωσαν , they, that is the Pharisees and scribes, knew. πρὸς αὐτούς = with reference to themselves.

Verse 20

Luke 20:20 . παρατηρήσαντες : used absolutely = watching, not Him, but their opportunity; so Grotius and Field ( Ot. Nor. ); watching with close cunning observation ( accurate et insidiose observare , Kypke). ἐγκαθέτους : some derive from ἐν and κάθημαι = sitters down, lying in wait ( subsessores , Grotius), others from κατατίθημι . The most probable derivation is from καθίημι , to place in ambush (so Kypke, Schanz, etc.). Pricaeus cites Sir 8:11 : ἵνα μὴ ἐγκαθίσῃ ὡς ἔνεδρον τῷ στόματί σου , as probably in the mind of Lk. Here only in N.T. = “spies” (A.V [165] , R.V [166] ), “Aufpasser” (Weizsäcker). ὑποκρινομένους ἑ ., passing themselves off as; that was the trick they had been put up to. δικαίους , honest men, sincerely anxious to know and do their duty. They might pose as such with the better chance of success if they were as Mt. states “disciples”; scholars of the scribes = ingenuous young men. αὐτοῦ λόγου : that they might lay hold either of a word of His , or of Him by a word ( eum in sermone , Vulgate), or of Him , i.e. , of a word spoken by Him ; all three alternatives find support. ὥστε ( εἰς τὸ T.R.), indicating aim and tendency. τ . ἀρχῇ καὶ τ . ἐξουσίᾳ : the repetition of the article raises a doubt whether both nouns refer to τοῦ ἡγεμόνος . So construed the clause will mean “to the rule and especially to the authority of the governor,” rule being general, and authority a more special definition of it. Some take ἀρχῇ as referring to the Sanhedrim. The probability is that both refer to Pilate. On the aim thus said to be in view Grotius remarks: “When disputes about religion do not suffice to oppress the innocent, matters relating to the state are wont to be taken up”.

[165] Authorised Version.

[166] Revised Version.

Verses 20-26

Luke 20:20-26 . The tribute question (Matthew 22:15-22 , Mark 12:13-17 ).

Verse 21

Luke 20:21 . ὀρθῶς , rightly, as in Luke 7:43 , pointing not to sincerity in speech ( λέγεις ) and teaching ( διδάσκεις ) but to sound judgment = you always say the right thing; the second clause points to impartiality = you say the same thing to all; the third to sincerity = you say what you think. They describe an ideal from which their own masters were as remote as possible.

Verse 22

Luke 20:22 f. The question . φόρον = κῆνσον , a Latinism, in the parallels.

Verse 23

Luke 20:23 . πανουργίαν , craft, cunning, as in 2 Corinthians 4:2 , which possibly the evangelist had in his eye. Each synoptist has his own word here ( πονηρίαν Mt., ὑπόκρισιν Mk.) as if trying to describe the indescribable.

Verse 24

Luke 20:24 . Lk. reports more briefly than Mt. and Mk., not thinking it necessary to state that the denarius asked for was handed to Jesus.

Verse 25

Luke 20:25 . τοίνυν , therefore, connecting the dictum following with the fact stated before that the denarius bore Caesar’s image, and implying that by the dictum Jesus pronounced in favour of paying tribute to the Roman ruler.

Verse 26

Luke 20:26 . The reply of Jesus, baffling in itself, was doubly so, because it had made a favourable impression on the people. Therefore the questioners deemed it best to make no attempt at criticism in presence of the people ( ἐναντίον τοῦ λαοῦ ).

Verses 27-39

Luke 20:27-39 . The resurrection question. Sadducees speak (Matthew 22:23-33 , Mark 12:18-27 ). οἱ ἀντιλέγοντες in strict grammar ought to refer to τινες , but doubtless it is meant to refer to the whole party. It is a case of a nominative in loose apposition with a genitive “outside the construction of the sentence interposed as a pendent word, so to speak,” Winer, G. N. T., p. 668. μὴ εἶναι : literally denying that there is not a resurrection, the meaning being really the reverse. After verbs of denying the Greeks repeat the negation. The reading λέγοντες , though well attested, looks like a grammatical correction.

Verse 28

Luke 20:28 . ἄτεκνος : here only in N.T. = μὴ ἔχων τ . in Mt. and μὴ ἀφῇ τ . in Mk.

Verse 29

Luke 20:29 . οὖν , therefore, carrying on the narrative (frequent in John) and implying that the law of Moses cited gave rise to the curious case stated and the difficulty connected with it.

Verse 31

Luke 20:31 . οὐ κατέλιπον τ . κ . ἀπέθανον , did not leave children and died, for died leaving no children. The emphasis is on the childlessness, therefore it is mentioned first. That the seven died in course of time was a matter of course, but that seven in succession should have no children was marvellous.

Verse 34

Luke 20:34 . In giving Christ’s answer Lk. omits the charge of ignorance against the questioners found in Mt. and Mk. γαμίσκονται = γαμίζονται in parallels, here only in N.T.

Verse 35

Luke 20:35 . οἱ δὲ καταξιωθέντες , etc., those deemed worthy to attain that world. The thought could have been expressed without τυχεῖν , for which accordingly there is no equivalent in the Vulgate: “qui digni habebuntur seculo illo,” on which account Pricaeus thinks it should be left out of the Greek text. But the use of this verb, even when it seems but an elegant superfluity, is common in Greek. Examples in Bornemann.

Verse 36

Luke 20:36 . ἀποθανεῖν : marriage, birth, death, go together, form one system of things, that of this world. In the next they have no place. Here Lk. expatiates as if the theme were congenial. ἰσάγγελοι , angel-like, here only in N.T. καὶ υἱοί εἰσιν , etc.: sons of God, being sons of the resurrection. This connection of ideas recalls St. Paul’s statement in Romans 1:4 that Christ was declared or constituted Son of God with power by the resurrection.

Verse 37

Luke 20:37 . καὶ Μ .: the same Moses who gave the Levirate law. It was important in speaking to Sadducees to show that even Moses was on the side of the resurrection. ἐμήνυσεν , made known, used in reference to something previously hidden (John 11:57 ). ἐπὶ τῆς βάτου , as in Mk., vide notes there.

Verse 38

Luke 20:38 . θεὸς is predicate = Jehovah is not God of dead men. δὲ has the force of the argumentative nonne . πάντες γὰρ αὐτῷ ζῶσιν . “for all live unto Him” (A.V [167] , R.V [168] ), is probably an editorial explanatory gloss to make the deep thought of Jesus clearer (not in parallels). The gloss itself needs explanation. Is “all” to be taken without qualification? αὐτῷ may be variously rendered “by Him,” i.e. , by His power: quoad Dei potentiam (Grotius), “in Him” (Ewald), “for Him,” i.e. , for His honour (Schanz), or for “His thought or judgment” = He accounts them as living (Hahn). The sentiment in some measure echoes Romans 14:7-8 .

[167] Authorised Version.

[168] Revised Version.

Verse 39

Luke 20:39 . καλῶς εἶπας , Thou hast spoken well; complimentary, but insincere, or only half sincere. They are glad to have the Sadducees put down, but not glad that Jesus triumphed.

Verse 40

Luke 20:40 . οὐκέτι γὰρ : the γὰρ , if the true reading, must mean: The scribes could do nothing but flatter (Luke 20:39 ), for they were so conscious of His power that they dared no longer ask captious questions.

Verse 41

Luke 20:41 . πρὸς αὐτούς , to them, i.e. , the representatives of the scribes mentioned in Luke 20:39 . In Mt. the Pharisees are addressed, in Mk. the audience is the people, and the question is about the scribes as interpreters. πῶς λέγουσι , how do they say? (not λέγετε ). The controversial character of the question is not made clear in Lk.

Verses 41-44

Luke 20:41-44 . The counter question (Matthew 22:41-46 , Mark 12:35-37 ). Lk., who had given something similar at an earlier stage (Luke 10:25-37 ), omits the question of the scribe concerning the great commandment, which comes in at this point in Mt. (Matthew 22:34-40 ) and Mk. (Mark 12:28-34 ), retaining only its conclusion (in Mk.), which he appends to the previous narrative (Luke 20:40 ).

Verse 42

Luke 20:42 . ἐν βίβλῳ ψ ., in the book of Psalms, in place of ἐν τῷ πνεύματι τ . ἁγ . (in the Holy Spirit, Mk.), which one might have expected Lk. to retain if he found it in his source. But he probably names the place in O.T. whence the quotation is taken for the information of his readers. That what was written in the Psalms, was spoken by the Holy Spirit, was axiomatic for him. ὑποπόδιον , as in the Psalms, for ὑποκάτω in Mt. and Mk. according to the approved readings. Lk. seems to have turned the passage up (Holtzmann, H. C.).

Verses 45-47

Luke 20:45-47 . Warning against the scribes (Mark 12:38-40 ). Either a mere fragment of the larger whole in Matthew 23:0 , or the original nucleus around which Mt. has gathered much kindred matter the former more likely.

Verse 46

Luke 20:46 . φιλούντων : while following Mk. in the main, Lk. improves the construction here by introducing this participle before ἀσπασμοὺς , which in Mk. depends on θελόντων .

Verse 47

Luke 20:47 . Another improvement is the change of οἱ κατεσθίοντες (Mark 12:40 ) into οἳ κατεσθίουσι vide notes on Mk. μακρὰ , at length, an adverb. Bengel (in Mt.) suggests μακρᾷ to agree with προφάσει (“ex orationibus suis fecere magnam πρόφασιν , praetextum comedendi domos viduarum”). Elsner adopts the same view.

Bibliographical Information
Nicoll, William Robertson, M.A., L.L.D. "Commentary on Luke 20". The Expositor's Greek Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/egt/luke-20.html. 1897-1910.
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