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Bible Commentaries
Luke 7

The Expositor's Greek TestamentExpositor's Greek Testament

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Verse 1

Luke 7:1 . εἰς τὰς ἀκοὰς , into the ears = εἰς τὰ ὦτα in Sept [73] (Genesis 20:8 ; Genesis 50:4 , Exodus 10:2 ). To show that it is not a Hebraism, Kypke cites from Dion. Hal.: εἰς τὴν ἀπάντων τῶν παρόντων ἀκοὴν . εἰσῆλθεν , entered, not returned to, Capernaum.

[73] Septuagint.

Verses 1-10

Luke 7:1-10 . The Centurion of Capernaum (Matthew 8:5-13 ).

Verse 2

Luke 7:2 . ὂς ἧν αὐτῷ ἔντιμος , who was dear to him; though a slave, indicating that he was a humane master. Lk. has also in view, according to his wont, to enhance the value of the benefit conferred: the life of a valued servant saved.

Verse 3

Luke 7:3 . ἀκούσας : reports of previous acts of healing had reached him. ἀπέστειλε : there is no mention of this fact or of the second deputation (in Luke 7:6 ) in Mt.’s version. Lk. is evidently drawing from another source, oral or written. πρεσβυτέρους τῶν Ἰουδαίων , elders of the Jews; the reference is probably to elders of the city rather than to rulers of the synagogue. From the designation “of the Jews” it may be inferred that the centurion was a Pagan, probably in the service of Antipas. διασώσῃ , bring safely through the disease which threatened life.

Verse 4

Luke 7:4 . σπουδαίως , earnestly; though he was a Pagan, they Jews, for reason given. ἄξιος ᾧ παρέξῃ , for ἄξιος ἵνα αὐτῷ π . παρέξῃ is the 2nd person singular, future, middle, in a relative clause expressing purpose instead of the more usual subjunctive ( vide Burton, § 318).

Verse 5

Luke 7:5 . ἀγαπᾷ γὰρ , etc., he loveth our race; a philo-Jewish Pagan, whose affection for the people among whom he lived took the form of building a synagogue. Quite a credible fact, which could easily be ascertained. Herod built the temple. Vide Lightfoot on this.

Verse 6

Luke 7:6 . ἐπορεύετο : no hint of scruples on the part of Jesus, as in the case of the Syrophenician woman. οὐ μακρὰν , not far, i.e. , quite near. Lk. often uses the negative with adjectives and adverbs to express strongly the positive. Hahn accumulates instances chiefly from Acts. φίλους : these also would naturally be Jews. ἱκανός εἰμι ἴνα : here we have ἰκανὸς , followed by ἵνα with subjunctive. In Luke 3:16 it is followed by the infinitive.

Verse 7

Luke 7:7 . εἰπὲ λόγῳ , speak, i.e. , command, with a word.

Verse 8

Luke 7:8 . καὶ γὰρ ἐγὼ : here follows the great word’ of the centurion reported by Lk. much as in Mt. But it seems a word more suitable to be spoken in propria persona than by deputy. It certainly loses much of its force by being given second hand. Lk. seems here to forget for the moment that the centurion is not supposed to be present. Schanz conjectures that he did come after all, and speak this word himself. On its import vide at Matthew 8:9 τασσόμενος : present, implying a constant state of subordination.

Comparing the two accounts of this incident, it may be noted that Lk.’s makes the action of the centurion consistent throughout, as inspired by diffident humility. In Mt. he has the courage to ask Jesus directly, yet he is too humble to let Jesus come to his house. In Lk. he uses intercessors, who show a geniality welcome to the irenic evangelist. Without suggesting intention, it may further be remarked that this story embodies the main features of the kindred incident of the Syrophenician woman, not reported by Lk. The excessive humility of the centurion = “we Gentile dogs ”. The intercession of the elders = that of the disciples. The friendliness of the elders is an admonition to Judaists = this is the attitude you ought to take up towards Gentiles. All the lessons of the “Syrophenician woman” are thus taught, while the one unwelcome feature of Christ’s refusal or unwillingness to help, which might seem to justify the Judaist, is eliminated. How far such considerations had an influence in moulding the tradition followed by Lk. it is impossible to say. Suffice it to point out that the narrative, as it stands, does double duty, and shows us:

1. Gentile humility and faith.

2. Jewish friendliness.

3. Christ’s prompt succour, and admiration of great faith.

Verses 11-17

Luke 7:11-17 . The son of the widow of Nain . In Lk. only. ἐν τῷ ἑξῆς ( καιρῷ ), in the following time, thereafter; vague. ἐν τῇ ἑ . would mean: on the following day ( ἡμέρᾳ , understood), i.e. , the day after the healing of the centurion’s servant in Capernaum. Hofmann defends this reading on the negative ground that no usage of style on the part of Lk. is against it, and that it better suits the circumstances. “We see Jesus on the way towards the city of Nain on the north-western slope of the little Hermon, a day’s journey from Capernaum. It is expressly noted that His disciples, and, as ἱκανοί is well attested, in consider bable numers, not merely the Twelve, were with Him, and many people besides; a surrounding the same as on the hill where He had addressed His disciples. Those of the audience who had come from Judaea are on their way home.” The point must be left doubtful. W. and H [74] have ἐν τῷ ἑ ., and omit ἱκανοί . Ναίν : there is still a little hamlet of the same name ( vide Robinson, Palestine , ii. 355, 361). Eusebius and Jerome speak of the town as not far from Endor. Some have thought the reference is to a Nain in Southern Palestine, mentioned by Josephus. But Lk. would hardly take his readers so far from the usual scene of Christ’s ministry without warning.

[74] Westcott and Hort.

Verse 12

Luke 7:12 . καὶ ἰδού , and lo! The καὶ introduces the apodosis, but is really superfluous; very Hebrew (Godet). ἐξεκομίζετο , was being carried out (here only in N. T.); ἐκφέρειν used in the classics (Acts 5:6 ). Loesner cites examples of the use of this verb in the same sense, from Philo. μονογενὴς , χήρα : these words supply the pathos of the situation, depict the woe of the widowed mother, and by implication emphasise the benevolence of the miracle, always a matter of interest for Lk.

Verse 13

Luke 7:13 . ὁ Κύριος , the Lord, first time this title has been used for Jesus in the narrative. Lk. frequently introduces it where the other synoptists have “Jesus”. The heavenly Christ, Lord of the Church, is in his mind, and perhaps he employs the title here because it is a case of raising from the dead. The “Lord” is Himself the risen One. ἐσπλαγχνίσθη : express mention of sympathy, pity, as the motive of the miracle. Cf. Mark 1:41 . μὴ κλαῖε , cease weeping, a hint of what was coming, but of course not understood by the widow.

Verse 14

Luke 7:14 . σοροῦ , the bier (here only in N. T.), probably an open coffin, originally an urn for keeping the bones of the dead. ἔστησαν : those who carried the coffin stood, taking the touch of Jesus as a sign that He wished this.

Verse 15

Luke 7:15 . ἀνεκάθισεν , sat up: the ἀνὰ is implied even if the reading ἐκάθισεν be adopted; to sit was to sit up for one who had been previously lying; sitting up showed life returned, speaking, full possession of his senses; the reality and greatness of the miracle thus asserted.

Verse 16

Luke 7:16 . φόβος : the awe natural to all, and especially simple people, in presence of the preternatural. προφήτης μέγας , a great prophet, like Elisha, who had wrought a similar miracle at Shunem, near by (2 Kings 4:0 ). ἐπεσκέψατο , visited graciously, as in Luke 1:68 ; Luke 1:78 .

Verse 17

Luke 7:17 . ὁ λόγος οὗτος , this story. Lk. says it went out; it would spread like wildfire far and wide. ἐν ὅλῃ τῇ Ἰουδαίᾳ , in all Judaea. Some (Meyer, Bleek, J. Weiss, Holtzmann) think Judaea means here not the province but the whole of Palestine. But Lk. is looking forward to the next incident (message from John); therefore, while the story would of course spread in all directions, north and south, he lays stress on the southward stream of rumour (carried by the Judaean part of Christ’s audience, Luke 6:17 ) through which it would reach the Baptist at Machaerus. πάσῃ τῇ περιχώρῳ , the district surrounding Judaea, Peraea, i.e. , where John was in prison.

Verse 18

Luke 7:18 . ἀπήγγειλαν : John’s disciples report to him. Lk. assumes that his readers will remember what he has stated in Luke 3:20 , and does not repeat it. But the reporting of the disciples tacitly implies that the master is dependent on them for information, i.e. , is in prison. περὶ πάντων τούτων : the works of Jesus as in Mt., but τούτων refers specially to the two last reported (centurion’s servant, widow’s son).

Verses 18-35

Luke 7:18-35 . The Baptist’s message (Matthew 11:2-19 ).

Verse 19

Luke 7:19 . δύο , two; more explicit than Mt., who has διὰ τ . μαθητῶν . The δύο may be an editorial change made on the document, from which both drew. πρὸς τὸν κύριον ( Ἰησοῦν T. R.): a second instance of the use of the title “Lord” in Lk.’s narrative. σὺ εἶ , etc.: question as in Mk., with the doubtful variation, ἄλλον for ἕτερον .

Verse 20

Luke 7:20 . On their arrival the men are made to repeat the question.

Verse 21

Luke 7:21 . Lk. makes Jesus reply not merely by word, as in Mt. (Matthew 11:5 ), but first of all by deeds displaying His miraculous power. That Jesus wrought demonstrative cures there and then may be Lk.’s inference from the expression ἀκούετε καὶ βλέπετε , which seems to point to something going on before their eyes. ἐχαρίσατο : a word welcome to Lk. as containing the idea of grace = He granted the boon (of sight).

Verse 22

Luke 7:22 contains the verbal answer, pointing the moral = go and tell your master what ye saw and heard (aorist, past at the time of reporting), and leave him to draw his own conclusion. νεκροὶ ἐγείρονται : this refers to the son of the widow of Nain; raisings from the dead are not included in the list of marvels given in the previous verse. Lk. omits throughout the connecting καὶ with which Mt. binds the marvels into couplets. On the motive of John’s message, vide notes of Mt., ad loc.

Verse 24

Luke 7:24 . τί : if we take τί = what, the question will be: what went ye out to see? and the answer: “a reed, etc.”; if = why, it will be: why went ye out? and the answer: “to see a reed, etc.” ἐξεληλύθατε (T. R.): this reading, as different from Mt. ( ἐξήλθατε ), has a measure of probability and is adopted by Tischendorf, here and in Luke 7:25-26 . But against this J. Weiss emphasises the fact that the “emendators” were fond of perfects. The aorists seem more appropriate to the connection as containing a reference to a past event, the visit of the persons addressed to the scene of John’s ministry.

Verses 24-30

Luke 7:24-30 . Encomium on the Baptist .

Verse 25

Luke 7:25 . ἰδοὺ οἱ : Lk. changes the expression here, substituting for οἱ τὰ μαλακὰ φοροῦντες (Mt.), οἱ ἐν ἱματισμῷ ἐνδόξῳ καὶ τρυφῇ ὑπάρχοντες = those living in (clothed with) splendid apparel and luxury.

Verse 26

Luke 7:26-27 are = Luke 7:9-10 in Mt., with the exception that Lk. inverts the words προφήτην , ἰδεῖν , making it possible to render: why went ye out? to see a prophet? or, what went ye out to see? a prophet? In Mt., only the former rendering is possible.

Verse 28

Luke 7:28 . λέγω ὑμῖν : here as elsewhere Lk. omits the Hebrew ἀμὴν , and he otherwise alters and tones down the remarkable statement about John, omitting the solemn ἐγήγερται , and inserting, according to an intrinsically probable reading; though omitted in the best MSS. (and in W.H [75] ), προφήτης , so limiting the wide sweep of the statement. Lk.’s version is secondary. Mt.’s is more like what Jesus speaking strongly would say. Even if He meant : a greater prophet than John there is not among the sons of women, He would say it thus: among those born of women there hath not arisen a greater than John, as if he were the greatest man that ever lived. ὁ δὲ μικ . On this vide at Mt.

[75] Westcott and Hort.

Verses 29-30

Luke 7:29-30 are best taken as a historical reflection by the evangelist. Its prosaic character, as compared with what goes before and comes after, compels this conclusion, as even Hahn admits. Then its absence from Mt.’s account points in the same direction. It has for its aim to indicate to what extent the popular judgment had endorsed the estimate just offered by Jesus. The whole people, even the publicans, had, by submitting to be baptised by John, acknowledged his legitimacy and power as a prophet of God, and so “justified” ( ἐδικαίωσαν ) God in sending him as the herald of the coming Messianic Kingdom and King, i.e. , recognised him as the fit man for so high a vocation. To be strictly correct he is obliged, contrary to his wont, to refer to the Pharisees and lawyers as exceptions, describing them as making void, frustrating ( ἠθέτησαν , cf. Galatians 2:21 ) the counsel of God with reference to themselves. The two words ἐδικ . and ἠθέτ . are antithetic, and help to define each other. The latter meaning to treat with contempt and so set aside, the former must mean to approve God’s counsel or ordinance in the mission of the Baptist. Kypke renders: laudarunt Deum , citing numerous instances of this sense from the Psalt. Solom. εἰς ἑαυτοὺς after ἠθέτησαν has been variously rendered = “against themselves” (A. V [76] ) and = “for themselves,” i.e. , in so far as they were concerned (R. V [77] ; “quantum ab eis pendebat,” Bornemann). But the latter would require τὸ εἰς ἑαυτούς . The meaning is plain enough. God’s counsel very specially concerned the Pharisees and lawyers, for none in Israel more needed to repent than they. Therefore the phrase = they frustrated God’s counsel (in John’s mission), which was for (concerned) the whole Jewish people, and its religious leaders very particularly.

[76] Authorised Version.

[77] Revised Version.

Verses 31-35

Luke 7:31-35 . The children in the market place . τοὺς ἀν . τ . γενεᾶς ταύτης . The pointed reference in the previous verse to the Pharisees and lawyers marks them out as, in the view of the evangelist, the “generation” Jesus has in His eye. This is not so clear in Mt.’s version, where we gather that they are the subject of animadversion from the characterisation corresponding to their character as otherwise known. Jesus spoke severely only of the religious leaders; of the people always pitifully.

Verse 32

Luke 7:32 . ὅμοιοί εἰσιν : referring to ἀνθρώπους , ὁμοία in Mt. referring to γενεὰν . The variations in Lk.’s version from Mt.’s are slight: both seem to be keeping close to a common source ἀλλήλοις for ἑτέροις , ἐκλαύσατε for ἐκόψασθε ; in Luke 7:33 ἄρτον is inserted after ἐσθίων and οἶνον after πίνων ; following a late tradition, think Meyer and Schanz. More probably they are explanatory editorial touches by Lk., as if to say: John did eat and drink, but not bread and wine . For ἦλθεν Lk. substitutes in Luke 7:33-34 ἐλήλυθεν = is come. Thus the two prophets have taken their place once for all in the page of history: the one as an ascetic, the other as avoiding peculiarity influencing men not by the method of isolation but by the method of sympathy . The malignant caricature of this genial character in Luke 7:34 glutton, drunkard, comrade of publicans and sinners originated doubtless in the Capernaum mission.

Verse 35

Luke 7:35 . καὶ , etc., and wisdom is wont to be justified by all her children; by all who are themselves wise, not foolish and unreasonable like the “generation” described. On this adage vide notes on Matthew 11:19 . Bornemann thinks that this verse is part of what the adverse critics said, of course spoken in irony = their conduct shown to be folly by results; what converts they made: the refuse of the population!

Verses 36-39

Luke 7:36-39 . The situation . τις τῶν Φ .: when or who not indicated, probably not known, but of no consequence to the story; the point to be noted that one of the Pharisaic class was the inviter. τοῦ Φαρισαίου : the class indicated a second time to make prominent the fact that Jesus did not hesitate to accept the invitation. Euthy. Zig. remarks: He did not refuse that He might not give excuse for saying that He ate with publicans and sinners and avoided the Pharisees ( βδελυσσόμενος ).

Verses 36-50

Luke 7:36-50 . The sinful woman . This section, peculiar to Lk., one of the golden evangelic incidents we owe to him, is introduced here with much tact, as it serves to illustrate how Jesus came to be called the friend of publicans and sinners, and to be calumniated as such, and at the same time to show the true nature of the relations He sustained to these classes. It serves further to exhibit Jesus as One whose genial, gracious spirit could bridge gulfs of social cleavage, and make Him the friend, not of one class only, but of all classes, the friend of man , not merely of the degraded. Lk. would not have his readers imagine that Jesus dined only with such people as He met in Levi’s house. In Lk.’s pages Jesus dines with Pharisees also, here and on two other occasions. This is a distinctive feature in his portraiture of Jesus, characteristic of his irenical cosmopolitan disposition. It has often been maintained that this narrative is simply the story of Mary of Bethany remodelled so as to teach new lessons. But, as will appear, there are original features in it which, even in the judgment of Holtzmann (H. C.), make it probable that two incidents of the kind occurred.

Verse 37

Luke 7:37 . γυνὴ , etc., a woman who was in the city, a sinner. This arrangement of the words ( ἥτις ἦν ἐν τῇ πόλει , W.H [78] ) represents her as a notorious character; how sinning indicated by expressive silence: a harlot. In what city? Various conjectures. Why not Capernaum? She a guest and hearer on occasion of the feast in Levi’s house, and this what came of it! Place the two dinners side by side for an effective contrast. ἐπιγνοῦσα , having learned, either by accident, or by inquiry, or by both combined. ἐν τῇ οἰκίᾳ τ . φ .: the Pharisee again, nota bene! A formidable place for one like her to go to, but what will love not dare?

[78] Westcott and Hort.

Verse 38

Luke 7:38 . στᾶσα ὀπίσω , standing behind, at His feet. The guests reclined on couches with their feet turned outwards, a posture learned by the Jews from their various masters: Persians, Greeks, Romans. In delicacy Jesus would not look round or take any notice, but let her do what she would. κλαίουσα : excitement, tumultuous emotions, would make a burst of weeping inevitable. ἤρξατο applies formally to βρέχειν , but really to all the descriptive verbs following. She did not wet Christ’s feet with tears of set purpose; the act was involuntary. βρέχειν , to moisten, as rain moistens the ground: her tears fell like a thunder shower on Christ’s feet. Cf. Matthew 5:45 . ἐξέμασσε , she continued wiping. Might have been infinitive depending on ἤρξατο , but more forcible as an imperfect. Of late use in this sense. To have her hair flowing would be deemed immodest. Extremes met in that act. κατεφίλει , kissed fervently, again and again. Judas also kissed fervently. Vide Matthew 26:49 and remarks there. ἤλειφε : this was the one act she had come of set purpose to do; all the rest was done impulsively under the rush of feeling.

Verse 39

Luke 7:39 . ὁ φαρισαῖος , for the fourth time; this time he is most appropriately so designated because he is to act in character. εἰ ἦν προφήτης : not the worst thing he could have thought. This woman’s presence implies previous relations, of what sort need not be asked: not a prophet, but no thought of impurity; simply ignorant like a common man. ἐγίνωσκεν ἂν , indicative with ἂν , as usual in a supposition contrary to fact. τίς καὶ ποταπὴ , who and what sort of a woman; known to everybody and known for evil. ἄπτεται : touch of a man however slight by such a woman impossible without evil desire arising in her. So judged the Pharisee; any other theory of her action inconceivable to him.

Verses 40-50

Luke 7:40-50 . Host and guest . ἀποκριθεὶς , answering, to his thought written on his face. Σίμων : the Pharisee now is called by his own name as in friendly intercourse. The whole dialogue on Christ’s part presents an exquisite combination of outspoken criticism with courtesy. ἔχω σοί τι εἰπεῖν : comis praefatio , Bengel. Διδάσκαλε : Simon’s reply equally frank and pleasant.

Verse 41

Luke 7:41 . The parable of the two debtors, an original feature in the story. χρεωφειλέται : here and in Luke 16:5 , only, in N.T. δανειστῇ (here only in N.T.): might mean a usurer, but his behaviour in the story makes it more suitable to think of him simply as a creditor . ὁ εἶς ὤφειλε : even the larger sum was a petty debt, whereby Simon would be thrown off his guard: no suspicion of a personal reference.

Verse 42

Luke 7:42 . ἐχαρίσατο : a warmer word than ἀφιέναι , welcome to Lk. as containing the idea of grace. ὀρθῶς ἔκρινας , like the πάνυ ὀρθῶς of Socrates, but without his irony.

Verses 44-46

Luke 7:44-46 . στραφεὶς : Jesus looks at the woman now for the first time, and asks His host to look at her, the despised one, that he may learn a lesson from her, by a contrast to be drawn between her behaviour and his own in application of the parable. A sharply marked antithesis runs through the description. ὕδωρ δάκρυσιν ; φίλημα καταφιλοῦσα ; ἐλαίῳ (common oil), μύρῳ (precious ointment); κεφαλήν πόδας . There is a kind of poetic rhythm in the words, as is apt to be the case when men speak under deep emotion.

Verse 47

Luke 7:47 . οὗ χάριν , wherefore, introducing Christ’s theory of the woman’s extraordinary behaviour as opposed to Simon’s ungenerous suspicions. λέγω σοι , I tell you, with emphasis; what Jesus firmly believes and what Simon very much needs to be told. ἀφέωνται (Doric perf. pas.) αἱ ἁμαρτίαι αὐτῆς , forgiven are her sins; i.e. , it is a case, not of a courtesan acting in character, as you have been thinking, but of a penitent who has come through me to the knowledge that even such as she can be forgiven. That is the meaning of this extraordinary demonstration of passionate affection. αἱ πολλαί , the many, a sort of afterthought: many sins, a great sinner, you think, and so I also can see from her behaviour in this chamber, which manifests intense love, whence I infer that she is conscious of much forgiveness and of much need to be forgiven. ὅτι ἠγάπησεν πολύ : ὅτι introduces the ground of the assertion implied in πολλαί ; many sins inferred from much love; the underlying principle: much forgiven, much love, which is here applied backwards, because Simon, while believing in the woman’s great sin, did not believe in her penitence. The foregoing interpretation is now adopted by most commentators. The old dispute between Protestants and Catholics, based on this text, as to the ground of pardon is now pretty much out of date. ᾧ δὲ ὀλίγον , etc.: this is the other side of the truth, as it applied to Simon: little (conscious) sin, little love. The doctrine here enunciated is another very original element in this story. It and the words in Luke 5:31 and Luke 15:7 form together a complete apology for Christ’s relations with the sinful.

Verse 48

Luke 7:48 . ἀφέωνται : direct assurance of forgiveness, for confirmation of her faith tried by an unsympathetic surrounding of frowning Pharisees.

Verse 49

Luke 7:49 . τίς οὗτος : again the stupid cavil about usurpation of the power to pardon (Luke 5:21 ).

Verse 50

Luke 7:50 . Concerned only about the welfare of the heroine of the story, Jesus takes no notice of this, but bids her farewell with “thy faith hath saved thee, go into peace”. J. Weiss (Meyer) thinks Luke 7:49 may be an addition by Lk. to the story as given in his source.

Bibliographical Information
Nicoll, William Robertson, M.A., L.L.D. "Commentary on Luke 7". The Expositor's Greek Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/egt/luke-7.html. 1897-1910.
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