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Bible Commentaries

Gary H. Everett's Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures

Luke 18

Verses 1-8

The Parable of the Unjust Judge - Jesus followed His teaching on the coming of the Kingdom of God with the Parable of the Unjust Judge (or the Parable of the Persistent Widow) in order to explain to them how to persevere in faith while awaiting His Second Coming (Luke 18:1-8). This example of faith (verse 8) involves persistence in prayer. If a wicked man responds to persistence, then a good God will readily respond to the persistence of His children. The emphasis in this story is the importance of having a heart of persistence in the Kingdom of God while awaiting Christ’s Second Coming.

The purpose of the Parable of the Unjust Judge (Luke 18:2-5) is to show that we should always pray and not faint. The Parable of the Importunate Friend (Luke 11:5-13) is similar in its message. These parables illustrate Proverbs 25:15, “By long forbearing is a prince persuaded, and a soft tongue breaketh the bone.”

Illustration - My father once told me that you could take a small hammer and begin to tap on a large, steel railroad rail. Of course, the small hammer cannot shatter this big piece of steel. Or can it? If the hammer taps long enough, eventually the steel will give way and break.

Illustration - See how Samson responded to Delilah's persistence in Judges 16:16-17.

Judges 16:16, “And it came to pass, when she pressed him daily with her words, and urged him, so that his soul was vexed unto death; That he told her all his heart, and said unto her, There hath not come a razor upon mine head; for I have been a Nazarite unto God from my mother's womb: if I be shaven, then my strength will go from me, and I shall become weak, and be like any other man.”

Luke 18:1 And he spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint;

Luke 18:1 to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint” Word Study - ( πρὸς τὸ δεῖν πάντοτε προσεύχεσθαι αὐτοὺς καὶ μὴ ἐγκακεῖν ) [262] BDAG says the Greek preposition πρός is normally used with the accusative to indicate a connection, “with reference to” (see BDAG, πρός 5a). The Greek infinitive used in Luke 18:1 is δεϊν , which is the Present Active Infinitive of δεϊ , “to be necessary,” and it acts as an accusative noun. BDAG understands the verb δεϊ to refer to “compulsion of duty.” BDAG says the Greek verb εγκακέω means, “to become weary, tired,” and is the absolute use here. BDAG gives the translation, “he told them a parable about the need of praying…” (see BDAG, πρός 5a)

[262] K. Aland, M. Black, C. M. Martini, B. M. Metzger, M. Robinson, M., and A. Wikgren, eds., The Greek New Testament, Fourth Revised Edition (with Morphology) (Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, 1993, 2006), in Libronix Digital Library System, v. 2.1c [CD-ROM] (Bellingham, WA: Libronix Corp., 2000-2004), Luke 18:1.

Comments - “that men ought always to pray” - We must always “look to God” for help.

“and not to faint” Illustration - In my third and fourth years of college, I had not been doing much long distance running, so I was out of shape for the track team. Despite this fact, I entered into a 6-mile cross-country race. After two miles I was dead tired. I slipped through the woods, waited for race to end and told coach that I had quit running. I felt ashamed that I had grown weary and not finished the course. If we do not pray always, we will faint and grow weary, and not finish the course and be ashamed at Jesus’ coming.

Luke 18:1 Comments - Emanuel Scott gives the illustration of someone asking a little boy the question, “Do you pray,” to which he replied, “Sometimes I say my prayers, and sometimes I pray my prayers.” Scott says God is personal and powerful: “Our father,” “Abba, Father.” As a small boy, Emanuel Scott wanted to a bag of scrap bread to eat. He lived in Waco, Texas. His family was poor. He did not even have a penny. He was walking down the road and began to pray that he might find a penny. He walked and he prayed until He found a penny. He is the God of Abraham Isaac, and Jacob and the God of Emanuel Scott.

Scott tells another story. One day, he was rushing to hospital to visit a trustee. Finally, he slowed down, realizing that God was already there and thus, no need to be in a hurry. So he began to pray to God above for this person.

Again, Scott illustrates the element of a personal relationship in prayer. His grandson asked him for a pair of shoes that cost $50. Why was it easy to hand over this money to his grandson: because his grandson had been keeping fellowship with his granddad even when his grandson did not want anything? [263]

[263] Emanuel Scott, “ Sermon,” chapel service, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Fort Worth, Texas, 26 January 1982.

Luke 18:1 Comments - Creflo Dollar tells the story of how he got up one morning, and struggled about going to prayer. When the Lord spoke to him and said that every failure in life was a prayer failure, he jumped up and ran to his prayer closet. [264]

[264] Creflo Dollar, Changing Your World (College Park, Georgia: Creflo Dollar Ministries), on Trinity Broadcasting Network (Santa Ana, California), television program, 25 September 2009.

Luke 18:1 Scripture References - Note similar passages in Scripture:

Genesis 45:25-26, “And they went up out of Egypt, and came into the land of Canaan unto Jacob their father, And told him, saying, Joseph is yet alive, and he is governor over all the land of Egypt. And Jacob's heart fainted, for he believed them not.”

Isaiah 30:15, “For thus saith the Lord GOD, the Holy One of Israel; In returning and rest shall ye be saved; in quietness and in confidence shall be your strength: and ye would not.”

Isaiah 40:31, “But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.”

Hebrews 12:3, “For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds.”

Revelation 2:3, “And hast borne, and hast patience, and for my name's sake hast laboured, and hast not fainted.”

Luke 18:3 “And there was a widow in that city” Comments Why would Jesus use a widow to illustrate the principle of persistence in prayer? Part of the answer lies in the fact that a widow was the most underprivileged member of the society. She has no physical strength, no wealth, nothing to offer such a corrupt judge in order to gain justice. Often in corrupt societies a corrupt leader can be moved by bribes; or, such a person can be moved by political muscle. She had neither. Thus, her prayer serves as an example of the least likely plea to be heard by a corrupt judge who has no interest in justice. The only thing she could do was to be persistent. If persistence pays off in the case of an ungodly judge, how much more will it benefit us before a righteous God.

Verses 1-43

Glorification: Jesus Testifies on the Kingdom of God (Passing thru Samaria and Galilee) - In Luke 17:11 to Luke 21:38 Jesus testifies about the Kingdom of God as He passes through Samaria and Galilee towards Jerusalem. This part of the journey will take Jesus into the Temple to teach the people for the last time. At this time the emphasis of Jesus’ teachings focuses on eschatology, or His Second Coming and the Kingdom of God.

He first enters a village and heals ten lepers (Luke 17:11-19) and is able to teach His disciples about thankfulness. He then responds to a question by the Pharisees and teaches about the coming of the Kingdom of God and tells them the importance of watchfulness (Luke 17:20-37). Jesus followed this teaching with the Parable of the Persistent Widow in order to explain to them how to persevere in faith while awaiting His Second Coming (Luke 18:1-8). To the self-righteous Jesus taught on humility using the Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector (Luke 18:9-14). Jesus then blesses the children who are brought to Him in order to teach on childlikeness (Luke 18:15-17). When a rich young ruler asks Jesus about inheriting eternal life, Jesus teaches him and those with Him on the dangers of riches and covetousness (Luke 18:18-30). Thus, each one of these stories tell us virtues that we are to pursue as children of the Kingdom of God awaiting His Second Coming. Jesus concludes this teaching session with a prediction to His twelve disciples about His pending death (Luke 18:31-34). After healing a blind man (Luke 18:35-43), dining with Zacchaeus (Luke 19:1-10), and teaching of faithfulness in the Kingdom of God (Luke 19:11-27), Jesus gives three prophecies concerning His arrival in Jerusalem (Luke 19:28-47), His rejection (Luke 20:1-19), and His exaltation (Luke 20:20-47). This major division closes with an eschatological discourse (Luke 21:1-38).

Here is a proposed outline:

A. Narrative: Jesus Teachings (Thru Samaria & Galilee) Luke 17:11 to Luke 19:27

B. Discourse: Jesus Instructs (Into Jerusalem) Luke 19:28 to Luke 21:38

Luke 17:11 to Luke 19:27

Narrative: Jesus Teaches on the Kingdom of God in Samaria and Galilee As Jesus makes His way to Jerusalem through Samaria and Galilee, He turns His focus upon the Kingdom of God.

Outline Here is a proposed outline:

1. Healing of the Ten Lepers (Thankfulness) Luke 17:11-19

2. Jesus Instructs Disciples on Second Coming Luke 17:20-37

3. Jesus Instructs Disciples on Prayer Luke 18:1-8

4. Corrects Pharisees on Humility Luke 18:9-14

5. Jesus Instructs Disciples on Childlikeness Luke 18:15-17

6. Jesus Teaches Disciples on Covetousness Luke 18:18-30

7. Jesus Predicts His Death Luke 18:31-34

8. Jesus Heals a Blind Man Luke 18:35-43

9. Jesus Dines with Zacchaeus Luke 19:1-10

Verses 1-43

Glorification: Jesus Testifies on the Kingdom of God (Passing thru Samaria and Galilee) - In Luke 17:11 to Luke 21:38 Jesus testifies about the Kingdom of God as He passes through Samaria and Galilee towards Jerusalem. This part of the journey will take Jesus into the Temple to teach the people for the last time. At this time the emphasis of Jesus’ teachings focuses on eschatology, or His Second Coming and the Kingdom of God.

He first enters a village and heals ten lepers (Luke 17:11-19) and is able to teach His disciples about thankfulness. He then responds to a question by the Pharisees and teaches about the coming of the Kingdom of God and tells them the importance of watchfulness (Luke 17:20-37). Jesus followed this teaching with the Parable of the Persistent Widow in order to explain to them how to persevere in faith while awaiting His Second Coming (Luke 18:1-8). To the self-righteous Jesus taught on humility using the Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector (Luke 18:9-14). Jesus then blesses the children who are brought to Him in order to teach on childlikeness (Luke 18:15-17). When a rich young ruler asks Jesus about inheriting eternal life, Jesus teaches him and those with Him on the dangers of riches and covetousness (Luke 18:18-30). Thus, each one of these stories tell us virtues that we are to pursue as children of the Kingdom of God awaiting His Second Coming. Jesus concludes this teaching session with a prediction to His twelve disciples about His pending death (Luke 18:31-34). After healing a blind man (Luke 18:35-43), dining with Zacchaeus (Luke 19:1-10), and teaching of faithfulness in the Kingdom of God (Luke 19:11-27), Jesus gives three prophecies concerning His arrival in Jerusalem (Luke 19:28-47), His rejection (Luke 20:1-19), and His exaltation (Luke 20:20-47). This major division closes with an eschatological discourse (Luke 21:1-38).

Here is a proposed outline:

A. Narrative: Jesus Teachings (Thru Samaria & Galilee) Luke 17:11 to Luke 19:27

B. Discourse: Jesus Instructs (Into Jerusalem) Luke 19:28 to Luke 21:38

Luke 17:11 to Luke 19:27

Narrative: Jesus Teaches on the Kingdom of God in Samaria and Galilee As Jesus makes His way to Jerusalem through Samaria and Galilee, He turns His focus upon the Kingdom of God.

Outline Here is a proposed outline:

1. Healing of the Ten Lepers (Thankfulness) Luke 17:11-19

2. Jesus Instructs Disciples on Second Coming Luke 17:20-37

3. Jesus Instructs Disciples on Prayer Luke 18:1-8

4. Corrects Pharisees on Humility Luke 18:9-14

5. Jesus Instructs Disciples on Childlikeness Luke 18:15-17

6. Jesus Teaches Disciples on Covetousness Luke 18:18-30

7. Jesus Predicts His Death Luke 18:31-34

8. Jesus Heals a Blind Man Luke 18:35-43

9. Jesus Dines with Zacchaeus Luke 19:1-10

Verses 9-14

The Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector In Luke 18:9-14 Jesus rebukes the Pharisees who were scoffing at His teachings by telling them the Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector. The Pharisee had his eyes on man, judging himself by another man. But the publican had his eyes on God and His Holiness. Those in most need of confessing their sins are those who think they need it the least. Those who hide sin and deny it are the ones who should deal with it most. The self-righteous attitude has no place in God’s throne room of prayer. The emphasis in this story is the importance of having a heart of humility in the Kingdom of God while awaiting Christ’s Second Coming. Thus, the key word in this passage of Scripture is “humility.”

The Heart - You can see the heart of each man by looking at his words because “out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.” (Matthew 12:34).

Matthew 12:34, “O generation of vipers, how can ye, being evil, speak good things? for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh.”

It is noteworthy to listen to people pray and notice if their hearts are humble.

Scripture Reference - Note:

Matthew 9:13, “But go ye and learn what that meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice : for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”

Luke 18:13 “God be merciful to me a sinner” Comments - This is one of the shortest prayers in the Bible.

Luke 18:14 “this man went down to his house justified rather than the other” - Comments - God loves the sinner.

Matthew 18:11, “For the Son of man is come to save that which was lost.”

Matthew 21:31, “Whether of them twain did the will of his father? They say unto him, The first. Jesus saith unto them, Verily I say unto you, That the publicans and the harlots go into the kingdom of God before you. For John came unto you in the way of righteousness, and ye believed him not: but the publicans and the harlots believed him: and ye, when ye had seen it, repented not afterward, that ye might believe him.”

John 3:16-17, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.”

Romans 5:8, “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”

God is willing to forgive those who will humble themselves before Him:

Psalms 86:5, “For thou, Lord, art good, and ready to forgive; and plenteous in mercy unto all them that call upon thee.”

Psalms 86:15, “But thou, O Lord, art a God full of compassion, and gracious, longsuffering, and plenteous in mercy and truth.”

Joel 2:13, “And rend your heart, and not your garments, and turn unto the LORD your God: for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repenteth him of the evil.”

Nehemiah 9:17, “And refused to obey, neither were mindful of thy wonders that thou didst among them; but hardened their necks, and in their rebellion appointed a captain to return to their bondage: but thou art a God ready to pardon, gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and forsookest them not.”

But, a person must repent and put his faith in Jesus:

Acts 2:38, “Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.”

Luke 18:14 “for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased” Scripture Reference:

Proverbs 16:18, “Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.”

Proverbs 29:23, “A man's pride shall bring him low: but honour shall uphold the humble in spirit.”

Luke 18:14 “and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted” - Scripture Reference:

James 4:6, “But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble.”

1 Peter 5:5-7, “Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble. Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.”

Verses 15-17

Jesus Blesses the Little Children (Matthew 19:13-15 , Mark 10:13-16 ) In Luke 18:15-17 Jesus takes the time to bless the little children who are brought to Him. The emphasis in this story is the importance of having a childlike heart, in purity, in trust and in love, in the Kingdom of God while awaiting Christ’s Second Coming.

Verses 18-30

Teaching on Covetousness: The Story of the Rich Young Ruler (Matthew 19:16-30 , Mark 10:17-31 ) - In Luke 18:18-30 Jesus takes a question from a rich young ruler and teaches on the dangers of pursuing earthly riches. A person must be willing to forsake all and follow Jesus. The emphasis in this story is the importance of having a heart without covetousness the Kingdom of God while awaiting Christ’s Second Coming.

Although this man was saddened by the Lord’s request for him to forsake all and follow him, we have Matthew, who was also wealthy, responding positively to the same request. Matthew was sitting at his job collecting tax money when Jesus called him to leave his table and follow Him.

The Response of the Rich Young Ruler The call to salvation can be presented to each of us in a slightly different manner. The one vice that the rich young ruler needed to lay down in order to make things right with God was a covetousness heart. For my grandfather, the Lord spoke to him in the form of a bright light and told him to throw away his cigarettes. He did so and gave his heart to the Lord. One of my friends was asked by a couple to come pray for their son, whose wife had just left him. When Jack Emerson laid hands upon him to pray for him, the Lord gave him a word of knowledge about his vices. Jack stopped and had this young man renounce this vice. Before Jack prayed with him, the Lord revealed to him a number of other vices, all of which Jack led this young man into renouncing. Then he was led into a pray to give his life to Jesus. The Lord led Jack in this manner because it was the parents who initiated this ministry to their son, but God had to get the son to yield to this pray from his heart. Otherwise, Jack’s ministry to him would have been in vain. In other words, there is no established formula for coming to Jesus. It simply must be done from a sincere heart with faith in the redemptive work of Calvary.

Note the insight into this story from the book At the Master’s Feet by Sadhu Sundar Singh.

“There are many who have learnt from experience that man’s natural goodness cannot give true peace of heart, nor can it give him a certainty of salvation or eternal life. The young man who came to Me seeking eternal life is a case in point. His first thought with regard to Me was wrong, as is that of some worldly-wise men and their followers at the present day. He thought Me to be one of those teachers who are like whited sepulchres, and in whose lives there is not a particle of true goodness. Therefore I said to him, “Why do you ask Me about goodness? There is none good but One.” But he failed to see in Me the one giver of goodness and life; and when I sought to admit him to My companionship and make him a truly good man, and bestow life upon him, he became sad and left Me. His life, however, makes one thing perfectly clear, and that is that his keeping the commandments and his goodness did not satisfy him or give him the assurance of eternal life. If his good works had given him peace he would not have come to inquire of Me, or had he come he would not have left Me in sorrow, but, believing My words, would have gone away rejoicing.” [265]

[265] Sadhu Sundar Singh, At the Master’s Feet, translated by Arthur Parker (London: Fleming H. Revell Co., 1922) [on-line], accessed 26 October 2008, available from http://www.ccel.org/ccel/singh/feet.html; Internet, “II Sin and Salvation,” section 2, part 10.

Luke 18:18-19 Comments None is Good but God - Jesus was not saying that He Himself was not good. Instead, this rich young ruler did not see Jesus as God, but rather as a good rabbi. Therefore, Jesus asked him a question to steer the young man into recognizing that He was God. In other words, Jesus wanted the man to see that the goodness that he recognized in Jesus was a testimony of his divinity. Jesus was saying, “If only God was good, and this young man recognized that Jesus was good, then Jesus must be good.”

Luke 18:20 Comments Jesus give the rich young ruler a difference response regarding salvation than He gave to Nicodemus. To the ruler Jesus gave him that law in order to expose his sins. For it was by the Law that man could see his sinful condition and then look to God’s grace by faith. But to Nicodemus Jesus reveals the way of salvation by being born of the Spirit, because Nicodemus was seeking the truth

Luke 18:23 Comments Sorrow is a response to loss. This rich young ruler believed that giving his goods to the poor was a loss, rather than a gain.

Luke 18:29 Comments Jesus is not saying that God does not care about our families when we must leave them in order to serve the Lord. As a missionary in Africa for thirteen years, I was willing to leave my family and go overseas. I watched God take care of my family through divine providence and provision through the course of those years. He loves our parents, brothers, wives, and children and longs to take care of them, but He needs those who are willing to make great sacrifices for the sake of the Kingdom of God.

Verses 31-34

Jesus Foretells His Death and Resurrection for the Third Time (Matthew 20:17-19 , Mark 10:32-34 ) In Luke 18:31-34 Jesus tells His twelve apostles about His pending death and resurrection for the third time. Jesus first reveals His death and resurrection on the Mount of Transfiguration (Luke 9:21-22). The second time is found in Luke 9:43-45.

Luke 18:31 Comments While the Gospel of Matthew refers to the fulfillment of Old Testament Scriptures, the Gospel of Luke places emphasis upon prophecy and reflects Jesus in the office of a Prophet. Since the books of the Old Testament were written by those in the office of the prophet, Jesus speaks of the prophets when referring to the Old Testament Scriptures.

Verses 35-43

Jesus Heals a Blind Man In Luke 18:35-43 we have the story of Jesus healing a blind man.

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Bibliographical Information
Everett, Gary H. "Commentary on Luke 18". Gary H. Everett's Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ghe/luke-18.html. 2013.