Bible Commentaries
Luke 5

The Expositor's Greek TestamentExpositor's Greek Testament

Search for…
Enter query below:
Additional Authors




Verses 1-7

Luke 5:1-7 . ἐπικεῖσθαι . In Mt. and Mk. (Matthew 4:18 , Mark 1:16 ) the call of the four disciples took place when Jesus was walking alone. Here Jesus is surrounded by a crowd who pressed upon Him. καὶ ἀκούειν , etc., and were hearing the word of God. The crowd, and their eagerness to hear the word of God (phraseology here secondary), serve in the narrative to explain the need of disciples (so Schanz and Hahn). παρὰ τὴν λίμνην Γ . The position of Jesus in speaking to the crowd was on the margin of the lake; called by Lk. alone λίμνη .

Verses 1-11

Luke 5:1-11 . The call of Peter . This narrative, brought in later than the corresponding one in Mk., assumes larger dimensions and an altered character. Peter comes to the front, and the other three named in Mk., James, John and Andrew, retire into the shade; the last-named, indeed, does not appear in the picture at all. This, doubtless, reflects the relative positions of the four disciples in the public eye in the writer’s time, and in the circle for which he wrote. The interest gathered mainly about Peter: Christian people wanted to be told about him, specially about how he became a disciple. That interest had been felt before Lk. wrote, hence the tradition about his call grew ever richer in contents, till it became a lengthy, edifying story. Lk. gives it as he found it. Some think he mixes up the call with the later story told in John 21:1-8 , and not a few critics find in his account a symbolic representation of Peter’s apostolic experience as narrated in the book of Acts. Such mixture and symbolism, if present, had probably found their way into the history before it came into Lk.’s hands. He gives it bonâ fide as the narrative of a real occurrence, which it may quite well be.

Verse 2

Luke 5:2 . ἑστῶτα : two boats standing by the lake, not necessarily drawn up on shore, but close to land, so that one on shore could enter them. They had just come in from the fishing, and were without occupants, their owners having come on shore to clean their nets.

Verse 3

Luke 5:3 . ἐμβὰς : this action of Jesus would be noticed of course, and would bring the owner to His side. It was Simon’s boat, the man whose mother-in-law, in Lk.’s narrative, had been healed of fever. ἐπαναγαγεῖν , to put out to sea, here and in Luke 5:4 and Matthew 21:18 only. ὀλίγον : just far enough to give command of the audience. ἐδίδασκεν : this teaching from a boat took place again on the day of the parables (Matthew 13:2 , Mark 4:1 ). But that feature does not appear in the corresponding narrative of Lk. (Luke 8:4 ). Did Peter’s call attract that feature from the later occasion in the tradition which Lk. followed?

Verse 4

Luke 5:4 . εἰς τὸ βάθος , into the deep sea, naturally to be found in the centre, inside the shelving bottom stretching inwards from the shore. χαλάσατε . plural, after ἐπανάγαγε , singular; the latter addressed to Peter as the master, the former denoting an act in which all in the boat would assist. Bornemann ( Scholia ) gives instances of similar usage in classics. ἄγραν , here and in Luke 5:9 only, in N. T.; in the first place may be used actively = for taking, in the second, passively = for a take. But the latter sense might suit both places. If so used here the word implies a promise (Hahn).

Verse 5

Luke 5:5 . ἐπιστάτα : Lk.’s name for Jesus as Master, six times; a Greek term for Gentile readers instead of Rabbi = (1) Master , then (2) Teacher, “qui enim magistri doctrinae erant, ii magistri simul vitae esse solebant,” Kypke. ἐπὶ τῷ ῥήματί σου , at Thy word or bidding. Success was doubly improbable: it was day , and in deep water ; fish were got at night, and near shore. The order, contrary to probability, tempts to symbolic interpretation: the deep sea the Gentile world; Peter’s indirect objection symbol of his reluctance to enter on the Gentile mission, overcome by a special revelation (Acts 10:0 ). So Holtz., H. C.

Verse 6

Luke 5:6 . διερήσσετο began to break, or were on the point of breaking; on the symbolic theory = the threatened rupture of unity though the success of the Gentile mission (Acts 15:0 ).

Verse 7

Luke 5:7 . κατένευσαν , they made signs, beckoned, here only in N. T. ( ἐνένευον , Luke 1:62 ); too far to speak perhaps, but fishers would be accustomed to communicate by signs to preserve needful stillness (Schanz). συλλαβέσθαι αὐτοῖς : this verb with dative occurs in Philippians 4:3 = to help one. ὥστε , with infinitive = tendency here, not result. βυθίζεσθαι , to sink in the deep ( βυθός ), here only in O. or N. T. in reference to a ship; in 1 Timothy 6:9 in reference to rich men.

Verse 8

Luke 5:8 . Πέτρος : here for first time introduced without explanation, presumably in connection with the great crisis in his history. ἀνὴρ ἁμαρτωλός : a natural exclamation especially for an impulsive nature in the circumstances. But the utterance, though real, might have been passed over in the tradition. Why so carefully recorded by Lk.? Perhaps because it was a fitting thing for any man to say on becoming a disciple of the Holy Jesus the sin of the disciple a foil to the holiness of the Master. Also to supply a justification for the statement in Luke 5:32 , “I came not to call,” etc. In this connection sin is ascribed to all the apostles when called, in very exaggerated terms in Ep. Barnab., Luke 5:9 ( ὄντας ὑπὲρ πᾶσαν ἁμαρτίαν ἀνομωτέρους ).

Verses 8-11

Luke 5:8-11 . Sequel of the miracle .

Verse 10

Luke 5:10 . Ἰάκωβον καὶ Ἰωάννην , dependent on περιέσχεν : fear encompassed them also, not less than Peter and the rest. This special mention of them is not explained, unless inferentially in what follows. μὴ φοβοῦ , fear not, addressed to Peter alone. He alone, so far as appears , is to become a fisher of men, but the other two are named, presumably, because meant to be included, and in matter of fact they as well as Simon abandon all and follow Jesus (Luke 5:11 ). ζωγρῶν : the verb means to take alive, then generally to take; here and in 2 Timothy 2:26 . The analytic form ( ἔσῃ ζωγρῶν ) implies permanent occupation = thou shall be a taker.

Verse 11

Luke 5:11 . καταγαγόντες τ . πλ ., drawing up their ships on land; that work done for ever. Chiefly in Lk. and Acts.

Verse 12

Luke 5:12 . ἐν μιᾷ τ . π . for ἔν τινι , one of the cities or towns of Galilee in which Jesus had been preaching (Mark 1:39 Luke 4:44 ). καὶ ἰδοὺ , after καὶ ἐγένετο , very Hebraistic. πλήρης λέπρας , full of leprosy ( λεπρὸς in parallels). Note here again the desire to magnify the miracle. ἐὰν θέλῃς , etc., the man’s words the same in all three narratives. His doubt was as to the will not the power to heal.

Verses 12-16

Luke 5:12-16 . The leper (Matthew 8:1-4 , Mark 1:40-45 ).

Verse 13

Luke 5:13 . ἥψατο : this also in all three a cardinal point; the touch the practical proof of the will and the sympathy. No shrinking from the loathsome disease. ἡ λέπρα ἀπῆλθεν : Lk. takes one of Mk.’s two phrases, Mt. the other. Lk. takes the one which most clearly implies a cure; ἐκαθερίσθη (Mt.) might conceivably mean: became technically clean.

Verse 14

Luke 5:14 . ἀλλὰ , etc.: here the oratio indirecta passes into or. directa as in Acts 1:4 ; Acts 14:22 , etc. τῷ ἱερεῖ , to the priest; not necessarily in Jerusalem, but to the priest in the province whose business it was to attend to such duties (Hahn).

Verse 15

Luke 5:15 . ἀκούειν , to hear, but not the word as in Luke 5:1 , rather to hear about the wonderful Healer and to get healing for themselves ( θεραπεύεσθαι ).

Verse 16

Luke 5:16 . To retirement mentioned in Mk. Lk. adds prayer ( προσευχόμενος ); frequent reference to this in Lk.

Verse 17

Luke 5:17 . ἐν μιᾷ τῶν ἡμερῶν , a phrase as vague as a note of time as that in Luke 5:12 as a note of place. καὶ αὐτὸς , etc., and He was teaching; the Hebraistic paratactic construction so common in Lk. Note καὶ ἦσαν and καὶ δύναμις Κ . ἦν following. νομοδιδάσκαλοι , teachers of the law, Lk.’s equivalent for γραμματεῖς . The Pharisees and lawyers appear here for the first time in Lk., and they appear in force a large gathering from every village of Galilee, from Judaea, and from Jerusalem. Jesus had preached in the synagogues of Galilee where the scribes might have an opportunity of hearing Him. But this extensive gathering of these classes at this time is not accounted for fully in Lk. Not till later does such a gathering occur in Mk. (Mark 3:22 ). αὐτόν , the reading in [48] [49] [50] gives quite a good sense; it is accusative before ἰᾶσθαι = the power of the Lord (God) was present to the effect or intent that He (Jesus) should heal.

[48] Codex Sinaiticus (sæc. iv.), now at St. Petersburg, published in facsimile type by its discoverer, Tischendorf, in 1862.

[49] Codex Vaticanus (sæc. iv.), published in photographic facsimile in 1889 under the care of the Abbate Cozza-Luzi.

[50] Codex Regius--eighth century, represents an ancient text, and is often in agreement with א and B.

Verses 17-26

Luke 5:17-26 . The paralytic (Matthew 9:1-8 , Mark 2:1-12 ).

Verse 18

Luke 5:18 , παραλελυμένος , instead of παραλυτικος in the parallels, the former more in use among physicians, and the more classical. ἐζήτουν . imperfect, implying difficulty in finding access, due, one might think, to the great numbers of Pharisees and lawyers present, no mention having as yet been made of any others. But the ὄχλος comes in in next verse.

Verse 19

Luke 5:19 . ποίας ( διὰ ποίας ὁδοῦ ), by what way. σ . τ . κλινιδίῳ : dim. of κλίνη (Luke 5:18 , here only in N. T.). Lk. avoids Mk.’s κράββατος , though apparently following him as to the substance of the story.

Verse 20

Luke 5:20 . ἄνθρωπε , man , instead of Mk.’s more kindly τέκνον and Mt.’s still more sympathetic θάρσει τέκνον ; because (suggests J. Weiss) it was not deemed fitting that such a sinner should be addressed as son or child! This from Lk., the evangelist of grace! The substitution, from whatever reason proceeding, is certainly not an improvement. Possibly Lk. had a version of the story before him which used that word. Doubtless Jesus employed the kindlier expression.

Verse 21

Luke 5:21 . διαλογίζεσθαι : Lk. omits the qualifying phrases ἐν ἑαυτοῖς , ἐν ταῖς καρδίαις of Mt. and Mk., leaving it doubtful whether they spoke out or merely thought . λέγοντες does not settle the point, as it merely indicates to what effect they reasoned.

Verse 22

Luke 5:22 . The expression “in your hearts” coming in here suggests that Lk. may have omitted it in Luke 5:21 merely to avoid repetition.

Verse 24

Luke 5:24 . ἔγειρε καὶ ἄρας … πορεύου : by introducing the participle ἄρας Lk. improves the style as compared with Mk., but weakens the force of the utterance, “arise, take up thy bed and go”. The same remark applies to the words of the scribes, Luke 5:21 , “who is this that speaketh blasphemies?” compared with, “why doth this person speak thus? He blasphemes.” Lk.’s is secondary, the style of an editor working over a rugged, graphic, realistic text.

Verse 25

Luke 5:25 . παραχρῆμα ( παρὰ τὸ χρῆμα ), on the spot, instantly; in Lk. only, magnifying the miracle.

Verse 26

Luke 5:26 . ἔκστασις might be taken out of Mk.’s ἐξίστασθαι . παράδοξα . Each evangelist expresses the comments of the people in different terms. All three may be right, and not one of them may give the ipsissima verba . Lk.’s version is: We have seen unexpected things to-day. Here only in N. T.

Verse 27

Luke 5:27 . ἐθεάσατο , instead of εἶδεν . Hahn, appealing to John 1:14 ; John 4:35 ; John 11:45 , assigns to it the meaning, to look with interest, to let the eye rest on with complacency. But it is doubtful whether in later usage it meant more than to look in order to observe. If the view stated in Mt. on the so-called Matthew’s feast ( q.v. ) be correct, Jesus was on the outlook for a man to assist Him in the Capernaum mission to the publicans. ἐπὶ τὸ τελώνιον , at “the tolbothe,” Wyclif. The tolls collected by Levi may have been either on highway traffic, or on the traffic across the lake. Mk.’s παράγων (Luke 5:14 ) coming after the reference to the sea (Luke 5:13 ) points to the latter.

Verses 27-32

Luke 5:27-32 . Call of Levi (Matthew 9:9-13 , Mark 2:13-17 ).

Verse 28

Luke 5:28 . καταλιπὼν ἅπαντα , leaving all behind, in Lk. only; a specialty of the ebionitically inclined evangelist, thinks J. Weiss (in Meyer). But it merely predicates of Levi what all three evangelists predicate of Peter and his comrades.

Verse 29

Luke 5:29 . δοχὴν (from δέχομαι here and in Luke 14:13 ), a reception, a feast, in Sept [51] for מִשְׁתֶּה (Genesis 26:30 , Esther 1:3 ). That Mt. made a feast is directly stated only by Lk., perhaps as an inference from the phrases in Mk. which imply it: κατακεῖσθαι , συνανέκειντο (Luke 5:15 ), ἐσθίει καὶ πίνει (Luke 5:16 ). That it was a great feast is inferred from πολλοὶ in reference to the number present. The expressions of the evangelists force us to conceive of the gathering as exceeding the dimensions of a private entertainment a congregation rather, in the court, to eat and to hear the gospel of the kingdom. Possibly none of the evangelists realised the full significance of the meeting, though Lk. by the expression ὄχλος πολὺς shows that he conceived of it as very large. ἄλλων stands for ἁμαρτωλῶν , which Lk. does not care to use when speaking for himself of the class, preferring the vague word “others”. They were probably a very nondescript class, the “submerged tenth” of Capernaum.

[51] Septuagint.

Verse 30

Luke 5:30 . οἱ φαρισαῖοι καὶ οἱ γραμ . αὐτῶν , the Pharisees, and the scribes connected with them, the professional men of the party. They were not of course guests, but they might if they chose look in: no privacy on such occasions in the East; or they might watch the strange company as they dispersed. ἐσθίετε καὶ πίνετε : addressed to the disciples. In the parallels the question refers to the conduct of Jesus though put to the disciples.

Verse 31

Luke 5:31 . Jesus replies, understanding that it is He who is put on His defence. His reply is given in identical terms in all three Synoptics; a remarkable logion carefully preserved in the tradition.

Verse 32

Luke 5:32 . εἰς μετάνοιαν : doubtless a gloss of Lk.’s or of a tradition he used, defining and guarding the saying, but also limiting its scope. καλέσαι is to be understood in a festive sense = I came to call sinners to the feast of the Kingdom , as I have called to this feast the “sinners” of Capernaum.

Verse 33

Luke 5:33 . οἱ δὲ connects what follows with what goes before as a continuation of the same story. Not so in Mk.: connection there simply topical. The supposed speakers are the Pharisees and scribes (Luke 5:30 ). In Mk. Phar. and John’s disciples. In Mt. the latter only. If the Pharisees and scribes were the spokesmen, their putting John’s disciples first in stating the common practice would be a matter of policy = John held in respect by Jesus, why then differ even from him? πυκνὰ (neuter plural, from πυκνός , dense), frequently. δεήσεις ποιοῦνται , make prayers, on system; added to complete the picture of an ascetic life; cf. Luke 2:37 ; referred to again in Luke 11:1 ; probably the question really concerned only fasting , hence omitted in the description of the life of the Jesus-circle even in Lk. ἐσθίουσιν καὶ πίνουσι , eat and drink; on the days when we fast, making no distinction of days.

Verses 33-39

Luke 5:33-39 . Fasting (Matthew 9:14-17 , Mark 2:18-22 ).

Verse 34

Luke 5:34 . μὴ δύνασθε … ποιῆσαι νησ ., can ye make them fast? In Mt. and Mk., can they fast? Lk.’s form of the question points to the futility of prescriptions in the circumstances. The Master could not make His disciples fast even if He wished.

Verse 35

Luke 5:35 . καὶ ὅταν : Mt. and Mk. place the καὶ before τότε in the next clause. Lk.’s arrangement throws more emphasis on ἡμέραι : there will come days , and when, etc. The καὶ may be explicative (= et quidem , Bornemann), or it may introduce the apodosis. ὅταν ἀπαρθῇ , the subjunctive with ἂν in a relative clause referring to a probable future event.

Verses 36-39

Luke 5:36-39 . Relative parabolic Logia . ἔλεγε … ὅτι : an editorial introduction to the parabolic sayings. The first of these, as given by Lk., varies in form from the version in the parallels, suggests somewhat different ideas, and is in itself by no means clear. Much depends on whether we omit or retain σχίσας in the first clause. If, with [52] [53] [54] [55] , we retain it, the case put is: a piece cut out of a new garment to patch an old one, the evil results being: the new spoiled, and the old patched with the new piece presenting an incongruous appearance ( οὐ συμφωνήσει ). If, with [56] [57] , etc., we omit σχίσας , the case put may be: a new piece not cut out of a new garment, but a remnant (Hahn) used to patch an old, this new piece making a rent in the old garment; τὸ καινὸν in second clause not object of, but nominative to, σχίσει , and the contrast between the new patch and old garment presenting a grotesque appearance. The objection to this latter view is that there is no reason in the case supposed why the new patch should make a rent. In Mt. and Mk. the patch is made with unfulled cloth, which will contract. But the remnant of cloth with which a new garment is made would not be unfulled, and it would not contract. The sole evil in that case would be a piebald appearance. On the whole it seems best to retain σχίσας , and to render τὸ καινὸν σχίσει , he (the man who does so foolish a thing) will rend the new. Kypke suggests as an alternative rendering: the new is rent, taking σχίζει intransitively, of which use he cites an instance from the Testament of the twelve patriarchs. The sense on this rendering remains the same.

[52] Codex Sinaiticus (sæc. iv.), now at St. Petersburg, published in facsimile type by its discoverer, Tischendorf, in 1862.

[53] Codex Vaticanus (sæc. iv.), published in photographic facsimile in 1889 under the care of the Abbate Cozza-Luzi.

[54] Codex Bezae

[55] Codex Regius--eighth century, represents an ancient text, and is often in agreement with א and B.

[56] Codex Alexandrinus of the fifth century, a chief representative of the “Syrian” text, that is, the revised text formed by judicious eclectic use of all existing texts, and meant to be the authoritative New Testament.

[57] Codex Ephraemi

Verse 37

Luke 5:37 . The tradition of the second logion seems to have come down to Lk.’s time without variation; at all events he gives it substantially as in parallels. The difficulty connected with this parabolic word is not critical or exegetical, but scientific. The question has been raised: could even new, tough skins stand the process of fermentation? and the suggestion made that Jesus was not thinking at all of fermented, intoxicating wine, but of “must,” a non-intoxicating beverage, which could be kept safely in new leather bottles, but not in old skins, which had previously contained ordinary wine, because particles of albuminoid matter adhering to the skin would set up fermentation and develop gas with an enormous pressure. On this vide Farrar (C. G. T., Excursus , III.).

Verse 38

Luke 5:38 gives the positive side of the truth answering to Matthew 9:17 b, only substituting the verbal adjective βλητέον for βάλλουσιν .

Verse 39

Luke 5:39 . The thought in this verse is peculiar to Lk. It seems to be a genial apology for conservatism in religion, with tacit reference to John and his disciples, whom Jesus would always treat with consideration. They loved the old wine of Jewish piety, and did not care for new ways. They found it good ( χρηστός ), so good that they did not wish even to taste any other, and could therefore make no comparisons. (Hence χρηστὸς preferable to χρηστότερος in T. R.) This saying is every way worthy of Christ, and it was probably one of Lk.’s finds in his pious quest for traditions of the Personal Ministry.

With reference to the foregoing parabolic words, drawn from vesture and wine, Hahn truly remarks that they would be naturally suggested through association of ideas by the figure of a wedding feast going before. Bengel hints at the same thought: “parabolam a veste, a vino; inprimis opportunam convivio”.

Bibliographical Information
Nicoll, William Robertson, M.A., L.L.D. "Commentary on Luke 5". The Expositor's Greek Testament. 1897-1910.