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Bible Commentaries
Luke 20

Gill's Exposition of the Whole BibleGill's Exposition

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Verse 1

And it came to pass, that on one of those days,.... According to the account of the Evangelist Mark, it must be the second day, or two days after his public entrance into Jerusalem; for on the evening of the day he made his entry, he went out to Bethany with his disciples; the next morning, as he returned from thence, he cursed the barren fig tree; and when he came to the temple cast out the buyers and sellers; at evening he went out again, either to Bethany, or the Mount of Olives; and the next morning, as he and his disciples returned, the fig tree was observed to be dried up; and when they were come to Jerusalem, as he was walking in the temple, he was attacked by the sanhedrim, and had the following discourse with them:

as he taught the people in the temple, and preached the Gospel; for he taught them by preaching that, and which he did most clearly, faithfully, and publicly, being abundantly anointed and qualified for it, and sent to do it.

The chief priests, and the Scribes, came upon him, with the elders. The whole sanhedrim being purposely convened together, came upon him in a body; and it may be suddenly, and at an unawares, and came open mouthed against him, and attacked him with great warmth and vehemency.

Verse 2

And spoke unto him, saying, tell us by what authority doest thou these things?.... The Arabic and Ethiopic versions read, "this thing"; as if the sanhedrim only referred to his preaching the Gospel, which is mentioned in the preceding verse, and was what he was about when they came to him: but the Persic version reads, "all these things"; not only preaching, but working miracles; and particularly driving the buyers and sellers out of the temple, which especially affected them, they losing their rents thereby:

or who is he that gave thee this authority? God or man?


Verse 3

And he answered and said unto them,.... That is, Jesus replied to them, as the Vulgate Latin, Syriac, and Persic versions express it:

I will also ask you one thing, and answer me; when he also promised, that if they would give him an answer to his question, he would satisfy them in the point they interrogated him about: and as this was a prudent decline to avoid the snare they laid for him, so it was not an impertinent reply to them; since it led on to a proper answer to their question, as appears by the case proposed;


Verse 4

The baptism of John, was it from heaven, or of men?] This was a new ordinance, and John must have his authority for administering it either from God, or from men; and Christ is desirous to know from which he derived it in their opinion; suggesting, that by the same authority John, his forerunner, came baptizing, he himself came preaching and working miracles;


Verse 5

And they reasoned with themselves,.... Or "they thought with themselves", as the Syriac version; or "within themselves", as the Vulgate Latin, though they did not express it; or "one with another", as the Arabic version; they took counsel together, and debated the matter among themselves, and reasoned after this manner:

saying, if we shall say from heaven; which was what, in their own consciences, they believed to be true,

he will say, why then believed ye him not? in what he said concerning the Messiah; which if they had, as they should, there would have been no reason for such a question they had put;


Verse 6

But and if we say of men,..... Which they had a good will to, against the dictates of their own consciences:

all the people will stone us; meaning the common people, that were then in the temple about Christ, hearing him preach; who would be so enraged at such an answer, that without any regard to their character and office, they would rise and stone them. The Ethiopic version adds, "whom we fear"; see Matthew 21:26 for it seems that they had not so behaved as to have the good will and esteem of the people, at least they did not pin their faith on their sleeve:

for they be persuaded that John was a prophet; they were fully assured of it; and the sentiments and authority of the chief priests could have no weight and influence upon them to weaken their faith in this point; the evidence was so strong, and their faith so firm and sure.

Verse 7

Ver. 7 And they answered, that they could not tell whence it was. Whether from heaven, or of men; in this, no doubt, they told an untruth: but they chose rather to sacrifice their consciences than their interest, and pretend ignorance rather than profess the truth, when they saw they should be put to confusion, or be exposed to the resentments of the people.

Verse 8

And Jesus said unto them,.... Since they would not give him a direct answer to his question:

neither tell I you by what authority I do these things; nor was there any need of it; they might easily perceive by what he had said, from whence he professed to have received his authority, from God, and not men; :-.

Verse 9

Then began he to speak to the people this parable,.... According to the other evangelists it seems to be spoken to the chief priests, Scribes, and elders; and certain it is, that they looked upon themselves as struck at in it; it might be spoken to both. Christ having silenced the sanhedrim, turned himself to the people, and delivered the parable of the vineyard to them, though his principal view was to the priests:

a certain man planted a vineyard; the people of the Jews are designed by the vineyard, and the "certain man", or "householder", as Matthew calls him, Matthew 21:28 is the Lord of hosts; and the planting of it is to be understood of his bringing and settling the people Israel in the land of Canaan. Luke omits certain things which the other evangelists relate, as setting an hedge about it, digging a winepress, and building a tower in it; and the Persic version here adds, "and planted trees, and set a wall about it"; all which express the care that was taken to cultivate and protect it; and signify the various blessings and privileges the Jew's enjoyed under the former dispensation; Gill on "Mt 21:33" and

Matthew 21:28- :.

and let it forth to husbandmen; put the people of the Jews under the care not only of civil magistrates, but of ecclesiastical governors, who were to dress this vine, or instruct these people in matters of religion, that they might be fruitful in good works:

and went into a far country for a long time; for a long time it was, from the times of Moses and Joshua, when the first settlement, both of the civil and ecclesiastical state of the Jews, was made, to the time of Christ; it was fourteen or fifteen hundred years; see the notes, as above.

Verse 10

And at the season,.... Or "when it the time of fruit", as the Ethiopic version renders it, agreeably to


he sent a servant to the husbandmen; or servants, as in

Matthew 21:34; the prophets of the Lord, his messengers, whom he sent to them, to exhort them to bring forth the fruits of righteousness, as follows:

that they should give him of the fruit of the vineyard; that is, that they, bringing forth good fruit in their lives and conversations, whereby it might appear that they were trees of righteousness, and the planting of the Lord; he, or they observing them, might give an account of them to the Lord, to the glory of his name:

but the husbandmen beat him, and sent him away empty; the Jews not only mocked these messengers of the Lord, and despised their words, but misused them, 2 Chronicles 36:15 they beat them with their fists, smote them on the cheek, and scourged them with scourges; so that they had no account to give of their fruitfulness in good works, but the contrary; 2 Chronicles 36:15- : and

2 Chronicles 36:15- :.

Verse 11

And again he sent another servant,.... Or set of prophets in after times, and yet before the Babylonish captivity:

and they beat him also; as they had done the other; they continued in their malpractices, yea increased in them:

and entreated him shamefully; putting him to open shame, using him in a very ignominious and shameful manner, which it was a shame to relate, and which was shameful for them to do:

and sent him away empty; as they had done the other.

Verse 12

And again he sent the third,.... Perhaps after the return of the Jews from captivity, and between that time and the coming of Christ, in which interval many good men were used in a very inhuman manner, Hebrews 11:37

and they wounded him also; by casting stones at him; see

Mark 12:4

and cast him out; of the vineyard.

Verse 13

Then said the Lord of the vineyard,.... Who planted it, and let it out to husbandmen, and expected fruit from it, and sent his servants from time to time for it:

what shall I do? or what can be done more than has been done? Isaiah 5:4 who else can be sent that is likely to do any good with such an ungrateful and unfruitful people?

I will send my beloved Son; the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who lay in his bosom, was the darling of his soul, and the delight of his heart; him he determined to send, and him he did send to the lost sheep of the house of Israel:

it may be they will reverence him, when they see him: it might be thought after the manner of men, that considering the greatness of his person, as the Son of God, the nature of his office, as the Redeemer and Saviour of men, the doctrines which he preached, the miracles which he wrought, and the holiness and harmlessness of his conversation, and the great good he did both to the bodies and souls of men, that he would have been had in great esteem and veneration with the men, to whom he was sent, and among whom he conversed: but, alas! when they saw him, they saw no beauty, comeliness, and excellency in him, and nothing on account of which he should be desired by them.

Verse 14

But when the husbandmen saw him,.... In human nature, heard him preach, and observed the miracles done by him:

they reasoned among themselves; as the Scribes and Pharisees, and elders of the people often did:

saying, this is the heir; the heir of God, being his Son; and so the Ethiopic version; "this Son is his heir", or the heir of the vineyard; being, by appointment, heir of all things, and by his descent from David heir to the kingdom of Israel;

come, let us kill him, that the inheritance may be ours. The Arabic and Persic versions render it, "and his inheritance shall be ours": the nation, city, temple, and all the emoluments and benefits thereof. The word "come" is left out in the Alexandrian copy, and in the Gothic and Vulgate Latin versions.

Verse 15

So they cast him out of the vineyard,.... Rejected him as the Messiah, even denied that he was of the Jewish nation; said he was a Samaritan, and delivered him to the Gentiles that were without, and were aliens from the commonwealth of Israel; and at last had him without their city, and put him to death, as follows:

and killed him; the Prince of life, the Lord of glory, and heir of all things; see Acts 2:23

what therefore shall the Lord of the vineyard do unto them? the husbandmen, the chief priests, elders, Scribes, and Pharisees; at whose solicitations the life of his Son, and heir, was taken away; by which he must be greatly provoked and incensed.

Verse 16

He shall come and destroy these husbandmen,.... Which had its accomplishment at the destruction of Jerusalem: according to the other evangelists, these words are the answer of the chief priests, Scribes, and elders, to the above questions put to them by Christ, after he had delivered the parable; but here they seem to be the words of Christ, who also said the same, and confirmed what they had observed, and could not but own, that it was just and right, and what might be expected, with what follows:

and shall give the vineyard to others; the land of Judea to the Romans in particular, and the church state, with the Gospel and ordinances of it, to the Gentiles in general, sometimes called "others"; :- and


and when they heard it, they said, God forbid; though they were their own words, yet repeated and confirmed by Christ, and perceiving that they were the persons intended, deprecate the fulfilment of them; at least so far as they understood they related to the killing of the Messiah, and to the destruction of their nation, city, and temple.

Verse 17

And he beheld them,.... Looked very earnestly and wistly at them, speaking as it were by his looks, signifying, that verily so it would be, as he had said; that they would reject the Messiah, and put him to death, and bring utter ruin upon themselves, and deprive their posterity of many advantages and privileges:

and said, what is this then that is written; that is, what else is the meaning of such a Scripture? is not the sense of that perfectly agreeable to what has been said, that the Messiah shall be rejected by the principal men among the Jews in church and state, and yet he shall be exalted, who will then take vengeance on them?

the stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner? The passage is in Psalms 118:22.

Psalms 118:22- :.

Verse 18

Whosoever shall fall on that stone, shall be broken,.... Not who shall fall upon Christ by faith, and build upon him as the foundation stone, for such shall be saved; but that stumble at him, and are offended with him, and fall by unbelief and hardness of heart; such do themselves much hurt and mischief and expose themselves to danger and ruin; they bid very fair for destruction:

but on whomsoever it shall fall; as it did with its full weight upon the Jews at their destruction, and as it will upon all Christless sinners at the last day:

it will grind him to powder; the ruin of such will be unavoidable, and there will be no recovery;


Verse 19

And the chief priests, and the Scribes, that same hour,.... As soon as he had delivered the above parable, together with that of the two sons:

sought to lay hands on him; they had a good will to it, being exceedingly gravelled with the question he put to them concerning John's baptism, which confounded them, and put them to silence; and with the parables he delivered, in which they were so manifestly pointed at:

and they feared the people; lest they should rise and stone them, as in Luke 20:6 or rescue him out of their hands;

for they perceived that he had spoken this parable against them: and that they were the husbandmen that had used the servants of God so ill, and would put to death the son of God, the Messiah; and who would at length be destroyed themselves, and the kingdom of God be taken from them, though they seem to detest and deprecate it, saying in Luke 20:16 God forbid; that we should kill the heir, or that we should be destroyed, and the vineyard given to others: these things grievously nettled them, and exasperated them against him; but they knew not how to help themselves at present.

Verse 20

And they watched him,.... What he said, and what he did, and where he went, that they might take an advantage against him, or know where he was, to send to him, as they should think fit, and take the best opportunity of so doing. The Syriac and Persic versions leave out this clause:

and sent forth spies which should feign themselves just men: of virtue and religion, conscientious men, that would do nothing but what was just and right, and were desirous of being exactly informed of the truth of things, that they might act right in every punctilio:

that might take hold of his words; improve them, and form a charge upon them, of sedition and treason:

that so they might deliver him unto the power and authority of the governor; the Roman governor, and by him be put to death. These men were some of them the disciples of the Pharisees, and others were Herodians; see Matthew 22:16.

Verse 21

And they asked him, saying, master,.... Rabbi, or doctor; hoping, by this flattering title, and the flattering words used by them, to work him up to an openness and freedom of conversation with them:

we know that thou sayest and teachest rightly; rightly dividest the word of God, and deliverest out sound doctrine according to it: and this he certainly did, though they spoke these words hypocritically, not believing what they themselves said; at least, they did not care that others should believe this of him:

neither acceptest thou the person of any. The Persic version very wrongly renders it, "and lookest not upon the countenance, and heart of any one whomsoever"; for though Christ did not look upon the countenances of men, and judge according to the outward appearance, nor regard men on account of outward circumstances, as riches, honours, learning, c. yet he looked upon the heart, and knew what was in it, and respected sincerity and uprightness wherever he found it, and which were wanting in these men:

but teachest the way of God truly the way of worshipping God, and of enjoying him, both in this world, and in that to come;


Verse 22

Is it lawful for us to give tribute unto Caesar, or no?] The Syriac and Persic versions here, as in the other evangelists, render it, "head money". The phrase, "for us", is here added, and on it lies the emphasis, and stress of the question; for the doubt pretended, was not whether it was lawful for the Romans to pay tribute to Caesar, but whether it was lawful for them who were Jews, were Abraham's seed, and, as they boasted, were never in bondage, but were the Lord's free people, to pay tribute to an Heathen emperor, or no.

Verse 23

But he perceived their craftiness,.... Knowing what was in them, and being a discerner of the thoughts and intents of their hearts, he clearly saw that their view was either, that they might have a charge against him to the Roman governor, should he declare against payment of tribute; or that they might expose him to the people of the Jews, should he assert the lawfulness of it:

and said unto them, why tempt ye me? with this ensnaring question.

Verse 24

Show me a penny,.... A Roman denarius, value seven pence halfpenny of our money. The Persic version adds, "they showed it, he asked of them"; and the Ethiopic version, "and they brought it, and he said unto them", as follows;

whose image and superscription hath it? for the penny had an head upon it, with something written, as the name of the emperor, whose image it was, his titles, the date of the coin, or some motto on it:

they answered and said, Caesar's; very likely Tiberius Caesar's, who was at that time emperor of Rome; :- and


Verse 25

And he said unto them, render therefore unto Caesar the things which be Caesar's,.... The Arabic version renders it, "give to the king what is the king's"; the tribute that was due to him; since they were under his government, and were protected by him, and traded with his money; the currency of which among them was an acknowledgment of him as their sovereign:

and unto God the things which be God's; which relate to his worship, honour, interest, and kingdom; :-.

Verse 26

And they could not take hold of his words before the people,.... Which was what they wanted; that if he had dropped any seditious and treasonable expressions against the government, they might be witnesses against him; or if he had not vindicated the liberties of the people, and the rights of the Jewish nation, these might be exasperated against him, and leave him:

and they marvelled at his answer; which was so formed, as to give them no handle against him either way:

and held their peace; they were silenced, and had nothing to say to him, nor against him, but left him, and went their way.

Verse 27

Ver. 27 Then came to him certain of the Sadducees,.... That is, "to Jesus", as the Persic version expresses it; and it was the same day, as Matthew says, on which the disciples of the Pharisees, and the Herodians, had been with him, putting the question about tribute to him: Matthew 22:16

which deny that there is any resurrection; that is, of the dead; that there ever was any instance of it, or ever will be: this was the distinguishing tenet of that sect; see Acts 23:8

and they asked him, the following question, after they had put a case to him.

Verse 28

Saying, master, Moses wrote unto us,.... In

Deuteronomy 25:5 where the substance of what follows is contained, though not in express words:

if any man's brother die, having a wife, and he die without children, that his brother should take his wife, and raise up seed unto his brother; the meaning of which is, that if a man died without issue, and left a wife behind him, his next brother, if unmarried, was to marry his wife, and the first child born of her, was to be reckoned the deceased's, and to inherit his estate;

Deuteronomy 25:5- :.

Verse 29

There were therefore seven brethren,.... In the place where these Sadducees dwelt; or, however, that were known by them; at least they supposed such a case, and it might be fact:

and the first took a wife, and died without children; son or daughter, and so had none to keep up his name, and to possess his inheritance.

Verse 30

And the second took her to wife,.... As he was obliged by the above law, or pluck off the shoe:

and he died childless: as his eldest brother before him.

Verse 31

And the third took her,.... To wife, by virtue of the same law:

and in like manner the seven also; the other four, one after another, when all seven married her:

and they left no children, and died; or they died, leaving no children behind them.

Verse 32

Last of all the woman died also. Having had no children by either of her seven husbands.

Verse 33

Therefore in the resurrection,.... At the time of the resurrection of the dead, in that state, supposing there will be such an one, which they denied;

whose wife of them is she? the first, or the last, or any of the intermediate ones?

for seven had her to wife; and she had no child by either of them; so that their claim seems to be alike; this they thought unanswerable, and sufficient to set aside the notion of a resurrection.

Verse 34

And Jesus answering, said unto them,.... After he had observed that their error arose from ignorance of the Scriptures, and the power of God:

the children of this world marry, and are given in marriage that is, such who live in this world, in the present mortal and imperfect state, being mortal men, and die, and leave their estates and possessions: these marry, and have wives given them in marriage; and it is very right, and fit, that so it should be, in order to keep up a succession of men, and that they may have heirs to enjoy their substance when they are gone.

Verse 35

But they which shall be accounted worthy to obtain that world,.... The world to come, eternal life and happiness; not by their own works and merits, but through the blood, sacrifice, and righteousness of the Messiah;

and the resurrection from the dead; that is, the first resurrection, the resurrection unto life, which only the dead in Christ will enjoy; otherwise all will be raised: but some to the resurrection of damnation:

these neither marry, nor are given in marriage; there will be no need of any such practice, for the reasons that follow.

Verse 36

Neither can they die any more,.... Therefore there will be no need of marrying to procreate children, to keep up a succession of men, any more than there is among the angels:

for they are equal unto the angels; in spirituality, purity and immortality; :-

and are the children of God: as they are now by adopting grace; but, as yet, it does not appear as it will then, what they are and will be:

being the children of the resurrection; as Christ was declared to be the son of God by his resurrection, so will they appear to be the children of God by their resurrection to eternal life; for though others will rise, yet not to everlasting life, and thus appearing to be children of God, they will also be heirs of God, and enjoy the inheritance, which they will always live to possess in their persons; and therefore the case being different with them from the children of the world, they will not marry, nor be given in marriage, as they are.

Verse 37

Now that the dead are raised,.... Or that there will be a resurrection of the dead, this is a proof of it:

even Moses showed at the bush: when the Lord appeared to him out of it, and he saw it burning with fire, and not consumed; when the Lord called to him out of it by the following name, as he has recorded it in Exodus 3:6. Hence it is said,

when he calleth the Lord the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob; for though the Lord called himself so, yet Moses likewise calls him by these names, when he gives an account of this affair, and when he went from him to the children Israel; Exodus 3:6- :.

Verse 38

For he is not a God of the dead, but of the living,....


for all live unto him. The Persic version, reads, "all these live unto him"; namely, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; for though they are dead to men, they are not to God; their souls live with him, and their bodies will be raised by him: he reckons of them, as if they were now alive, for he quickens the dead, and calls things that are not, as though they were; and this is the case of all the saints that are dead, as well as of those patriarchs. The Ethiopic reads, "all live with him"; as the souls of all departed saints do; the Arabic version reads, all live in him; so all do now, Acts 17:28.

Verse 39

Then certain of the Scribes, answering said,.... Who believed the doctrine of the resurrection, which the Sadducees denied, and so were pleased with our Lord's reasoning on this subject:

master, thou hast well said; thou hast spoken in a beautiful manner, reasoned finely upon this head, and set this matter in a fair and clear light; :-

Verse 40

And after that, they durst not ask him any question at all. Neither the Pharisees, Sadducees, Scribes, nor Herodians.

Verse 41

And he said unto them,.... The Ethiopic version reads, "to the Pharisees"; and so it appears, that it was to them he spoke, from Matthew 22:41

how say they? The Syriac version reads, "how say the Scribes?" as in Mark 12:35 and the Persic version, how say the wise men, the doctors in Israel,

that Christ is David's son? that which nothing was more common among the Jews.

Verse 42

And David himself saith in the book Psalms,.... In

Psalms 110:1

the Lord said to my Lord, sit thou on my right hand; which words were delivered by David, as inspired by the Spirit of God; and contain a speech of God the Father to his son Jesus Christ, upon his ascension to heaven, after his sufferings, death, and resurrection from the dead; when he was bid to sit down in human nature, at the right hand of God, in token of having done his work on earth to full satisfaction; and in the relation of which David calls Christ his Lord; and is the reason of their being mentioned.

Verse 43

Until I make thine enemies thy footstool. Which words are a continuation of the citation out of the above Psalm

Psalms 110:1; and for the application of these words, with the preceding, to the Messiah, Psalms 110:1- :.

Verse 44

David therefore called him Lord,.... Or, "my Lord", as the Syriac and Ethiopic versions read; or, "his Lord", as the Arabic version. This is the inference from the words before cited

Psalms 110:1, upon which the following question is asked,

how is he then his son? how can these things be reconciled? in what sense can he be both his Lord and son?

Psalms 110:1- :.

Verse 45

Then in the audience of all the people,.... Whilst they were about him, and hearing him, and for their sakes too;

he said unto his disciples; yea, he spake to the multitude, as well as to the disciples, as appears from Matthew 23:1.

Verse 46

Beware of the Scribes,.... And also of the Pharisees; for they are joined together in Matthew:

which desire to walk in long robes: the rule for the length of a scholar's garment was this a;

"his flesh must not appear under his garments, as the light linen garments, and the like, they make in Egypt; nor must his garments be drawn upon the ground, as the garments of proud men, but must reach to his heel, and his glove must reach the top of his fingers.''

According to this rule, the garments of the doctors were to be so long as to cover the whole body, even down to their heels, but were not to be any longer; and by this it appears their garments were very long; but they did not always go by this rule; some had their garments so long as to have a train after them;


and love greetings in the markets; or in courts of judicature; they loved to be saluted with the titles of Rabbi, Master, and the like:

and the highest seats in the synagogues; which were next to the place where the book of the law was read and expounded, and where they might be seen by the people:

and the chief rooms at feasts; the uppermost;

:- and


a Maimon Hilch. Dayot, c. 5. sect. 9. Vid. T. Bab. Bava Bathra, fol. 57. 2. & Gloss. in ib.

Verse 47

Which devour widows' houses,.... As the characters of them, in the preceding verse, expose their pride, this shows their avarice; they were very voracious and cruel; they did not spare widows, but devoured their substance:

and for a show make long prayers; to cover their wickedness, pretending great devotion and religion;

the same shall receive greater damnation: than openly profane sinners; doing such wickedness under a cloak of religion, will aggravate their condemnation; :-.

Bibliographical Information
Gill, John. "Commentary on Luke 20". "Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/geb/luke-20.html. 1999.
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