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Bible Commentaries

Godet's Commentary on Selected Books

Luke 19

Verses 1-10

8. Jesus at the House of Zaccheus: Luke 19:1-10.

Vers. 1-10. In Matthew and Mark, the account of Jesus' entry into Jerusalem immediately follows that of the healing of Bartimeus. There is a blank left by them, for Jesus stayed at Bethany, and there passed at least one night ( Joh 12:1 et seq.). This blank, according to Luke, is still more considerable. For before arriving at Bethany, Jesus stopped at Jericho, and there passed the night ( Luk 19:5 ). Luke's source is original, and independent of the other two Syn. It was Aramaic, as is proved by the heaping up of καί , the paratactic form, as well as the expression ὀνόματι καλούμενος , Luke 19:1-2. Comp. Luke 1:61.

The name Zaccheus, from א , to be pure, proves the Jewish origin of the man.

There must have been at Jericho one of the principal custom-houses, both on account of the exportation of the balm which grew in that oasis, and which was sold in all countries of the world, and on account of the considerable traffic which took place on this road, by which lay the route from Peraea to Judaea and Egypt. Zaccheus was at the head of the office. The person of Jesus attracted his peculiar interest, no doubt because he had heard tell of the benevolence shown by this Prophet to people of his class. Most certainly τίς ἐστί ( Luk 19:3 ) does not signify: which of the members of the company He was (Bleek), but: what was His appearance. After having accompanied the crowd for a little, without gaining his end, he outruns it.

The sycamore is a tree with low horizontal branches, and consequently of easy assent. ᾿Εκείνης , for: δἰ ἐκείνης ὁδοῦ ( Luk 19:19 ). Was the attention of Jesus called to his presence in the tree by the looks which the people directed toward him? Did He, at the same time, hear His name pronounced in the crowd? In this case, it is unnecessary to regard the address of Jesus as the effect of supernatural knowledge. There is something of pleasantness, and even of sprightliness, in the form: “ Make haste and come down; for to-day I must abide at thy house. ” The word must indicates that Jesus has recognised in him, on account of this eager desire which he has to see him, the host whom His Father has chosen for Him at Jericho. Here there is a lost sheep to be found. It is the same unwearied conviction of His mission as in meeting with the Samaritan woman. What absolute consecration to the divine work! And what sovereign independence of human opinion! In the multitude, which is yet swayed by pharisaic prejudices, there is general discontent. There is nothing to show that the disciples are also included under the words: “They all murmured.” The expression σταθεὶς δέ , “ but Zaccheus standing ” (before the Lord, Luk 19:8 ), immediately connects the following words of the publican with those popular murmurs. Σταθείς denotes a firm and dignified attitude, such as suits a man whose honour is attacked. “He whom Thou hast thought good to choose as Thy host, is not, as is alleged, a being unworthy of Thy choice.” Did Zaccheus pronounce the words of Luk 19:8 at the time when Jesus had just come under his roof? This is what we should be led to suppose at the first glance by the words: but he stood; nevertheless, this movement on the part of Zaccheus would appear a little hasty, and the answer of Jesus: Salvation is come ( Luk 19:9 ), proves that He had already sojourned for a time with His host. Was it, then, at the moment when Jesus was resuming His journey (Schleiermacher, Olshausen)? Luke 19:11; Luk 19:28 may support this supposition. But the word to-day ( Luk 19:9 ), which recalls the to-day of Luke 19:5, places this dialogue on the very day of His arrival. The most suitable time appears to be that of the evening meal, while Jesus converses peacefully with His host and the numerous guests. Unless the terms of Luke 19:11; Luk 19:28 are immoderately pressed, they are not opposed to this view.

Most modern interpreters take the words of Zaccheus as a vow inspired by his gratitude for the grace which he has just experienced. ᾿Ιδού , behold, is taken to indicate a sudden resolution: “Take note of this resolution: From this moment I give..., and I pledge myself to restore...” But if the pres. I give may certainly apply to a gift which Zaccheus makes at the instant once for all, the pres. I restore fourfold seems rather to designate a rule of conduct already admitted and long practised by him. It is unnatural to apply it to a measure which would relate only to some special cases of injustice to be repaired in the future. ᾿Ιδού , behold, is in keeping with the unexpected revelation, so far as the public are concerned, in this rule of Zaccheus, till then unknown by all, and which he now reveals, only to show the injustice of those murmurs with which the course of Jesus is met. “Thou hast not brought contempt on Thyself by accepting me as Thy host, publican though I am; and it is no ill-gotten gain with which I entertain Thee.” In this sense, the σταθεὶς δέ , but he stood, is fully intelligible. By the half of his goods, Zaccheus, of course, understands the half of his yearly income. In the case of a wrong done to a neighbour, the law exacted, when restitution was voluntary, a fifth over and above the sum taken away ( Num 5:6-7 ). Zaccheus went vastly further. Perhaps the restitution which he imposed on himself was that forcibly exacted from the detected thief. In a profession like his, it was easy to commit involuntary injustices. Besides, Zaccheus had under his authority many employés for whom he could not answer.

Jesus accepts this apology of Zaccheus, which indeed has its worth in reply to the murmurs of the crowd; and without allowing the least meritorious value to those restitutions and those extraordinary almsgivings, He declares that Zaccheus is the object of divine grace as much as those can be who accuse him. His entrance into his house has brought salvation thither. Notwithstanding the words, “ Jesus said unto him...,” the words following are addressed not to Zaccheus, but to the entire assembly. The πρὸς αὐτόν , unto him, therefore signifies: with His eyes turned upon him as the subject of His answer; comp. Luke 7:44. Jesus is the living salvation. Received as He was into the house, He brought into it by His very presence this heavenly blessing. Καθότι , agreeably to the fact that (for so much as), indicates the reason why Jesus can assert that Zaccheus is saved this day. But is this reason the fact that Zaccheus is a descendant of Abraham according to the flesh, and has preserved this characteristic as much as any other Jew, notwithstanding his Rabbinical excommunication? No; Jesus could not make the possibility of salvation dependent on the naked characteristic of being a member of the Israelitish nation. This idea would be in contradiction to His whole teaching, and to the very saying which concludes this verse. The term, son of Abraham, must therefore be taken in its spiritual sense: “Zaccheus is restored to this character which he had lost by his excommunication. He possesses it in a still higher sense than that in which he had lost it.”

Ver. 10. Lost, so far as a son of Abraham according to the flesh; but found (he, the same one, καὶ αὐτός ), as a son of Abraham according to the spirit. Thus the maxim of Luk 19:10 readily connects itself with Luke 19:9.

According to Hilgenfeld (p. 206), this piece is not in the least Pauline; it belongs to the ancient Ebionite source. According to Holtzmann, on the contrary (p. 234), it is entirely Luke's. It may be seen how critics agree with one another on questions of this sort! As concerns ourselves, we have established an Aramaic source. On the other hand, we are at one with Holtzmann in acknowledging the traces of Luke's style ( καθότι , Luke 19:9; ἡλικία , Luke 19:3; ἐκείνης , Luke 19:4; διαγογγύζειν , Luk 19:7 ). Hence we conclude that Luke himself translated into Greek this account, which is taken from an Aramaic document.

Verses 1-27

Third Cycle: The Last Scenes of the Journey, Luk 17:11 to Luke 19:27 .

This third section brings us to Bethany, to the gates of Jerusalem, and to the morning of Palm Day. It seems to me evident that Luke, in Luke 17:11, intends simply to indicate the continuation of the journey begun Luke 9:51, and not, as Wieseler will have it, the beginning of a different journey. In consequence of the multiplicity of events related, Luke reminds us from time to time of the general situation. It is in the course of this third section that his narrative rejoins that of the two other Syn. ( Luk 18:15 et seq.), at the time when children are brought to Jesus that He may bless them. This event being expressly placed in Peraea by Matthew and Mark, it is clear that the following events must have taken place at the time when Jesus was about to cross the Jordan, or had just passed it.

Verses 1-28


A great contrast marks the synoptical narrative: that between the ministry in Galilee, and the passion week at Jerusalem. According to Matthew ( Mat 19:1 to Mat 20:34 ) and Mark (chap. 10), the short journey from Capernaum to Judea through Perea forms the rapid transition between those two parts of the ministry of Jesus. Nothing, either in the distance between the places, or in the number of the facts related, would lead us to suppose that this journey lasted more than a few days. This will appear from the following table:

The fourth part of the Gospel of Luke, which begins at Luke 9:51, gives us a very different idea of what transpired at that period. Here we find the description of a slow and lengthened journey across the southern regions of Galilee, which border on Samaria. Jerusalem is, and remains, the fixed goal of the journey (Luke 9:51, Luke 13:22, Luke 17:11, etc.). But Jesus proceeds only by short stages, stopping at each locality to preach the gospel. Luke does not say what direction He followed. But we may gather it from the first fact related by him. At the first step which He ventures to take with His followers on the Samaritan territory, He is stopped short by the ill-will excited against Him by national prejudice; so that even if His intention had been to repair directly to Jerusalem through Samaria (which we do not believe to have been the case), He would have been obliged to give up that intention, and turn eastward, in order to take the other route, that of Perea. Jesus therefore slowly approached the Jordan, with the view of crossing that river to the south of the lake Gennesaret, and of continuing His journey thereafter through Perea. The inference thus drawn from the narrative of Luke is positively confirmed by Matthew ( Mat 19:1 ) and Mark ( Mar 10:1 ), both of whom indicate the Perean route as that which Jesus followed after His departure from Galilee. In this way the three synoptics coincide anew from Luk 18:15 onwards; and from the moment at which the narrative of Luke rejoins the two others, we have to regard the facts related by him as having passed in Perea. This slow journeying, first from west to east across southern Galilee, then from north to south through Perea, the description of which fills ten whole chapters, that is to say, more than a third of Luke's narrative, forms in this Gospel a real section intermediate between the two others (the description of the Galilean ministry and that of the passion week); it is a third group of narratives corresponding in importance to the two others so abruptly brought into juxtaposition in Mark and Matthew, and which softens the contrast between them.

But can we admit with certainty the historical reality of this evangelistic journey in southern Galilee, which forms one of the characteristic features of the third Gospel? Many modern critics refuse to regard it as historical. They allege:

1. The entire absence of any analogous account in Matthew and Mark. Matthew, indeed, relates only two solitary facts ( Mat 8:19 et seq. and Luk 12:21 et seq.) of all those which Luke describes in the ten chapters of which this section consists, up to the moment when the three narratives again become parallel ( Luk 18:14 ); Mark, not a single one.

2. The visit of Jesus to Martha and Mary, which Luke puts in this journey ( Luk 10:38-42 ), can have taken place only in Judea, at Bethany; likewise the saying, Luke 13:34-35, cannot well have been uttered by Jesus elsewhere than at Jerusalem in the temple ( Mat 23:37-39 ). Do not these errors of time and place cast a more than suspicious light on the narrative of the entire journey? M. Sabatier himself, who thoroughly appreciates the important bearing of this narrative in Luke on the harmony of the four Gospels, nevertheless goes the length of saying: “We see with how many contradictions and material impossibilities this narrative abounds.”

It has been attempted to defend Luke, by alleging that he did not mean to relate a journey, and that this section was only a collection of doctrinal utterances arranged in the order of their subjects, and intended to show the marvellous wisdom of Jesus. It is impossible for us to admit this explanation, with Luke's own words before us, which express and recall from time to time his intention of describing a consecutive journey: Luke 9:51, “He stedfastly set His face to go to Jerusalem;Luke 13:22, “He was going through the cities and villages... journeying toward Jerusalem;Luke 17:11 (lit. trans.), “And it came to pass, as He went to Jerusalem, that He traversed the country between Samaria and Galilee.”

Wieseler, taking up an entirely opposite point of view, finds in those three passages the indications of as many individual journeys, which he connects with three journeys to Jerusalem placed by John almost at the same epoch. It is hoped in this way to find the point of support for Luke's narrative in the fourth Gospel, which is wanting to it in the two first. The departure mentioned Luk 9:51 would correspond with the journey of Jesus, Joh 7:1 to John 10:39 (feast of Tabernacles and of Dedication), a journey which terminates in a sojourn in Perea ( Joh 10:40 et seq.). The mention of a journey Luk 13:22 would refer to the journey from Perea to Bethany for the raising of Lazarus, John 11:0, after which Jesus repairs to Ephraim. Finally, the passage Luk 17:11 would correspond with the journey from Ephraim to Jerusalem for the last Passover ( Joh 11:55 ). It would be necessary to admit that Jesus, after His Ephraim sojourn, made a last visit to Galilee, proceeding thither through Samaria (Wieseler translates Luk 17:11 as in E. V., “through the midst of Samaria and Galilee”), then that He returned to Judea through Perea (Matthew 19:0; Mark 10:0).

We cannot allow that this view has the least probability. 1. Those three passages in Luke plainly do not indicate, in his mind at least, three different departures and journeys. They are way-marks set up by the author on the route of Jesus, in the account of this unique journey, by which he recalls from time to time the general situation described Luke 9:51, on account of the slowness and length of the progress. 2. The departure ( Luk 9:51 ) took place, as the sending of the seventy disciples proves, with the greatest publicity; it is not therefore identical with the departure ( Joh 7:1 et seq.), which took place, as it were, in secret; Jesus undoubtedly did not then take with Him more than one or two of His most intimate disciples. 3. The interpretation which Wieseler gives of Luk 17:11 appears to us inadmissible (see the passage).

It must therefore be acknowledged, not only that Luke meant in those ten chapters to relate a journey, but that he meant to relate one, and only one.

Others think that he intended to produce in the minds of his readers the idea of a continuous journey, but that this is a framework of fiction which has no corresponding reality. De Wette and Bleek suppose that, after having finished his account of the Galilean ministry, Luke still possessed a host of important materials, without any determinate localities or dates, and that, rather than lose them, he thought good to insert them here, between the description of the Galilean ministry and that of the passion, while grouping them in the form of a recorded journey. Holtzmann takes for granted that those materials were nothing else than the contents of his second principal source, the Logia of Matthew, which Luke has placed here, after employing up till this point his first source, the original Mark. Weizsäcker, who thinks, on the contrary, that the Logia of Matthew are almost exactly reproduced in the great groups of discourses which the first contains, sees in this fourth part of Luke a collection of sayings derived by him from those great discourses of Matthew, and arranged systematically with regard to the principal questions which were agitated in the apostolic churches (the account of the feast, Luke 14:1-35, alluding to the Agapae; the discourses, Luk 15:1 to Luke 17:10, to questions relative to the admission of Gentiles, etc.).

Of course, according to those three points of view, the historical introductions with which Luke prefaces each of those teachings would be more or less his own invention. He deduces them himself from those teachings, as we might do at the present day. As to the rest, Bleek expressly remarks that this view leaves entirely intact the historical truth of the sayings of Jesus in themselves. We shall gather up in the course of our exegesis the data which can enlighten us on the value of those hypotheses; but at the outset we must offer the following observations: 1. In thus inventing an entire phase of the ministry of Jesus, Luke would put himself in contradiction to the programme marked out ( Luk 1:1-4 ), where he affirms that he has endeavoured to reproduce historical truth exactly. 2. What purpose would it serve knowingly to enrich the ministry of Jesus with a fictitious phase? Would it not have been much simpler to distribute those different pieces along the course of the Galilean ministry? 3. Does a conscientious historian play thus with the matter of which he treats, especially when that matter forms the object of his religious faith?

If Luke had really acted in this way, we should require, with Baur, to take a step further, and ascribe to this fiction a more serious intention that of establishing, by those prolonged relations of Jesus to the Samaritans, the Pauline universalism? Thus it is that criticism, logically carried out in questions relating to the Gospels, always lands us in this dilemma historical truth or deliberate imposture.

The historical truth of this journey, as Luke describes it, appears to us evident from the following facts: 1. Long or short, a journey from Galilee to Judea through Perea must have taken place; so much is established by the narratives of Matthew and Mark, and indirectly confirmed by that of John, when he mentions a sojourn in Perea precisely at the same epoch ( Luk 10:40-42 ). 2. The duration of this journey must have been much more considerable than appears from a hasty glance at the first two synoptics. How, in reality, are we to fill the six or seven months which separated the feast of Tabernacles (John 7:0, month of October) from that of the Passover, at which Jesus died? The few accounts, Matthew 19:20 (Mark 10:0), cannot cover such a gap. Scarcely is there wherewith to fill up the space of a week. Where, then, did Jesus pass all that time? And what did He do? It is usually answered, that from the feast of Tabernacles to that of the Dedication (December) He remained in Judea. That is not possible. He must have gone to Jerusalem in a sort of incognito and by way of surprise, in order to appear unexpectedly in that city, and to prevent the police measures which a more lengthened sojourn in Judea would have allowed His enemies to take against Him. And after the violent scenes related Joh 7:1 to John 10:21, He must have remained peacefully there for more than two whole months! Such an idea is irreconcilable with the situation described John 6:1; John 7:1-13.

Jesus therefore, immediately after rapidly executing that journey, returned to Galilee. This return, no doubt, is not mentioned; but no more is that which followed John 5:0. It is understood, as a matter of course, that so long as a new scene of action is not indicated in the narrative, the old one continues. After the stay at Jerusalem at the feast of Dedication ( Joh 10:22 et seq.), it is expressly said that Jesus sojourned in Perea ( Luk 9:40-42 ): there we have the first indication apprising us that the long sojourn in Galilee had come to an end. Immediately, therefore, after the feast of Tabernacles, Jesus returned to Galilee, and it was then that He definitely bade adieu to that province, and set out, as we read Luke 9:51, to approach Jerusalem slowly and while preaching the gospel. Not only is such a journey possible, but it is in a manner forced on us by the necessity of providing contents for that blank interval in the ministry of Jesus. 3. The indications which Luke supplies respecting the scene of this journey have nothing in them but what is exceedingly probable. After His first visit to Nazareth, Jesus settled at Capernaum; He made it His own city ( Mat 9:1 ), and the centre of His excursions ( Luk 4:31 et seq.). Very soon He considerably extended the radius of His journeys on the side of western Galilee (Nain, Luk 7:11 ). Then He quitted His Capernaum residence, and commenced a ministry purely itinerant ( Luk 8:1 et seq.). To this period belong His first visit to Decapolis, to the east of the lake of Gennesaret, and the multiplication of the loaves, to the north-east of that sea. Finally, we learn from Matthew and Mark that Jesus made two other great excursions into the northern regions, the one to the north-west toward Phoenicia (Luke's great lacuna), the other toward the north-east, to the sources of the Jordan (Caesarea Philippi, and the transfiguration). To accomplish His mission toward Galilee there thus remained to be visited only the southern parts of this province on the side of Samaria. What more natural, consequently, than the direction which He followed in this journey, slowly passing over that southern part of Galilee from west to east which He had not before visited, and from which He could make some excursions among that Samaritan people at whose hands He had found so eager a welcome at the beginning of His ministry?

Regarding the visit to Martha and Mary, and the saying Luke 13:34-35, we refer to the explanation of the passages. Perhaps the first is a trace (unconscious on the part of Luke) of Jesus' short sojourn at Jerusalem at the feast of Dedication. In any case, the narrative of Luke is thus found to form the natural transition between the synoptical accounts and that of John. And if we do not find in Luke that multiplicity of journeys to Jerusalem which forms the distinctive feature of John's Gospel, we shall at least meet with the intermediate type of a ministry, a great part of which (the Galilean work once finished) assumes the form of a prolonged pilgrimage in the direction of Jerusalem.

As to the contents of the ten chapters embraced in this part of Luke, they are perfectly in keeping with the situation. Jesus carries along with Him to Judea all the following of devoted believers which He has found in Galilee, the nucleus of His future Church. From this band will go forth the army of evangelists which, with the apostles at its head, will shortly enter upon the conquest of the world in His name. To prepare them as they travel along for this task, such is His constant aim. He prosecutes it directly in two ways: by sending them on a mission before Him, as formerly He had sent the twelve, and making them serve, as these had done, a first apprenticeship to their future work; then, by bringing to bear on them the chief part of His instructions respecting that emancipation from the world and its goods which was to be the distinctive character of the life of His servants, and thus gaining them wholly for the great task which He allots to them.

What are the sources of Luke in this part which is peculiar to him? According to Holtzmann, Luke here gives us the contents of Matthew's Logia, excepting the introductions, which he adds or amplifies. We shall examine this whole hypothesis hereafter. According to Schleiermacher, this narrative is the result of the combination of two accounts derived from the journals of two companions of Jesus, the one of whom took part in the journey at the feast of Dedication, the other in that of the last Passover. Thus he explains the exactness of the details, and at the same time the apparent inexactness with which a visit to Bethany is found recorded in the midst of a series of scenes in Galilee. According to this view, the short introductions placed as headings to the discourses are worthy of special confidence.

But how has this fusion of the two writings which has merged the two journeys into one been brought about? Luke cannot have produced it consciously; it must have existed in his sources. The difficulty is only removed a stage. How was it possible for the two accounts of different journeys to be fused into a unique whole? As far as we are concerned, all that we believe it possible to say regarding the source from which Luke drew is, that the document must have been either Aramaic, or translated from Aramaic. To be convinced of this, we need only read the verse, Luke 9:51, which forms the heading of the narrative.

If we were proceeding on the relation of Luke to the two other synoptics, we should divide this part into two cycles, that in which Luke moves alone ( Luk 9:51 to Luk 18:14 ), and that in which he moves parallel to them ( Luk 18:15 to Luk 19:27 ). But that division has nothing corresponding to it in the mind of the author, who probably knows neither of the two other canonical accounts. He himself divides his narrative into three cycles by the three observations with which he marks it off: 1 st. Luk 9:51 to Luke 13:21 (Luke 9:51, the resolution to depart); 2 d. Luk 13:22 to Luke 17:10 (Luke 13:22, the direction of the journey); 3 d. Luk 17:11 to Luke 19:27 (Luke 17:11, the scene of the journey). Such, then, will be our division.

Verse 11

9. The Parable of the Pounds: Luke 19:11-27. Luke 19:11. The Introduction.

We have already observed in the multitudes (Luke 14:25, Luke 18:38, Luk 19:1-3 ), and even in the disciples (Luke 18:31; comp. with Mat 20:20 et seq.), the traces of an excited state. Luk 19:11 shows that it went on increasing as they approached Jerusalem. The profound calmness and self-possession of Jesus contrasts with the agitation which is produced around Him.

The words ἀκουόντων αὐτῶν , “ as they heard these things,” and προσθεὶς εἶπε , “ He added, and spake,” establish a close relation between the parable of the pounds and the preceding conversation. But we need not conclude therefrom that this parable was uttered as a continuation of the conversation. It may, indeed, have been so merely in respect of time ( Luk 19:28 ). The relation indicated by the introduction is purely moral: the so striking contrast between the conduct of Jesus toward Zaccheus, and the generally received ideas, was such that every one felt that a decisive crisis was near. The new was on the eve of appearing; and this imminent revolution naturally presented itself to the imagination of all in the form in which it had always been described to them. The word παραχρῆμα , immediately, stands first in the proposition, because it expresses the thought against which the parable following is directed. The verb ἀναφαίνεσθαι , to appear, answers well to the great spectacle for which they were looking.

That Luke himself deduced this introduction from the contents of the parable, as Weizsäcker supposes, is not impossible. But up to this point we have too often recognised the historical value of those short introductions, not to admit that Luke's source, from which he took the parable, contained some indication of the circumstances which had called it forth.

Verses 12-14

Vers. 12-14. The Probation.

A man of noble birth goes to ask from the sovereign of the country which he inhabits the government of his province. Before undertaking this journey, which must be a long one, for the sovereign dwells in a distant country, this man, concerned about the future administration of the state after his return, puts to the proof the servants who have till now formed his own household, and whom he proposes afterwards to make his officers. For that purpose, he confides to each of them a sum of money, to be turned to account in his absence. Hereby he will be able to estimate their fidelity and capability, and to assign them in the new state of things a place proportioned to the qualities of which they shall have given proof. Meanwhile the future subjects protest before the sovereign against the elevation of their fellow-citizen. Some features in this picture seem borrowed from the political situation of the Holy Land Josephus relates that on the death of Herod the Great, Archelaus, his son, whom he had appointed his heir, repaired to Rome to request that Augustus would invest him in his father's dominions, but that the Jews, wearied of this dynasty of adventurers, begged the emperor rather to convert their country into a Roman province. This case might the more readily occur to the mind of Jesus, as at that very Jericho where He was speaking there stood the magnificent palace which this Archelaus had built.

The word εὐγενής , of noble birth, evidently refers to the superhuman nature of Jesus. Μακράν is an adverb, as at Luke 15:13. This far distance is the emblem of the long interval which, in the view of Jesus, was to separate His departure from His return.

The expression, to receive a kingdom, includes the installation of Jesus in His heavenly power, as well as the preparation of His Messianic kingdom here below by the sending of the Holy Spirit and His work in the Church.

A mina, among the Hebrews, was worth about £6 sterling. It is not, as in Matthew 25:14, all his goods which the master distributes; the sum, too, is much less considerable; the talents of which Matthew speaks are each worth about £400. The idea is therefore different. In Luke, the money entrusted is simply a means of testing. In Matthew, the matter in question is the administration of the owner's fortune. The sums entrusted, being in Luke the same for all the servants, represent not gifts ( χαρίσματα ), which are very various, but the grace of salvation common to all believers (pardon and the Holy Spirit). The position of every believer in the future kingdom depends on the use which he makes of that grace here below. It is surprising to hear Jesus call this salvation an ἐλάχιστον , a very little ( Luk 19:17 ). What an idea of future glory is given to us by this saying! The Alex. reading ἐν ᾧ , Luke 19:13, assumes that ἔρχομαι has the meaning of travelling; while with ἕως it would signify to arrive. The first reading implies that the time during which the absence of Jesus lasts is a constant returning, which is perfectly in keeping with the biblical view. “I say unto you, that from this time ye shall see the Son of man sitting on the throne..., and coming in the clouds of heaven,” Matthew 26:64. The ascension is the first step in His return here below. Luk 19:14 describes the resistance of the Jews to the Messianic sovereignty of Jesus, and that during all the time which separates His first from His second coming.

Verses 15-19

Vers. 15-19. The faithful Servants.

From Luk 19:15 onwards Jesus depicts what will happen at the Parousia. Every servant will share in the power of his master, now become king, in a degree proportioned to his activity during the time of his probation (the reign of grace). While the means of action had been the same, the results differ; the amount of power committed to each will therefore also differ in the same proportion. It is entirely otherwise in Matthew. The sums committed were different; the results are equal in so far as they are proportioned to the sums received; there is therefore here equality of faithfulness and equal testimony of satisfaction. Everything in Matthew's representation turns on the personal relation of the servants to their master, whose fortune (Luke 19:14, his goods) they are commissioned to administer and increase, and who rejoices equally in the active fidelity of all; while in Luke the one point in question is to settle the position of the servants in the economy of glory which is opening, and consequently to determine the proportion of faithfulness displayed during the time of labour and probation which has just closed.

The ten, the five cities (Luke 19:17; Luk 19:19 ), represent moral beings in a lower state of development, but whom the glorified faithful are commissioned to raise to their divine destination.

Verses 20-27

Vers. 20-27. Of the other seven servants there is no mention; they fall either into the category of the preceding, or into that of the following. The ground on which the latter explains his inactivity is not a mere pretext. His language is too plain-spoken not to be sincere. He is a believer who has not found the state of grace offered by Jesus so brilliant as he hoped, a legal Christian, who has not tasted grace, and knows nothing of the gospel but its severe morality. It seems to him that the Lord gives very little to exact so much. With such a feeling, the least possible only will be done. God should be satisfied with us if we abstain from doing ill, from squandering our talent. Such would have been the language of a Judas dissatisfied with the poverty of Christ's spiritual kingdom. In Matthew, the unfaithful servant is offended not at the insufficiency of the master's gifts in general, but at the inferiority of those given to himself, in comparison with those of his associates. This is a Judas embittered at the sight of the higher position assigned to Peter or John.

The master's answer ( Luk 19:22 ) is an argumentum ad hominem: The more thou knowest that I am austere, the more shouldest thou have endeavoured to satisfy me! The Christian who lacks the sweet experience of grace ought to be the most anxious of labourers. The fear of doing ill is no reason for doing nothing, especially when there are means of action, the use of which covers our entire responsibility. What does Jesus mean by the banker? Could it be those Christian associations to which every believer may entrust the resources which he cannot use himself? It seems to us that Jesus by this image would rather represent the divine omnipotence of which we may avail ourselves by prayer, without thereby exposing the cause of Christ to any risk. Of him who has not worked the Lord will ask, Hast thou at least prayed?

The dispensation of glory changes in the case of such a servant into an eternity of loss and shame. The holy works which he might have wrought here below, along with the powers by which he might have accomplished them, are committed to the servant who has shown himself the most active. This or that pagan population, for example, which might have been evangelized by the young Christian who remained on the earth the slave of selfish ease, shall be committed in the future dispensation to the devoted missionary who has used his powers here below in the service of Jesus.

At Luke 19:26, the same form of address as at Luke 12:41-42. The Lord continues as if no observation had been interposed, replying all the while, nevertheless, to the objection which has been started. There is a law, in virtue of which every grace actively appropriated increases our receptivity for higher graces, while all grace rejected diminishes our aptitude for receiving new graces. From this law of moral life it follows, that gradually all graces must be concentrated in faithful workers, and be withdrawn from negligent servants. Chap. Luke 8:18, Jesus said, That which he seemeth to have; here he says, That he hath. The two expressions are true. We have a grace which is bestowed on us; but if we do not assimilate it actively, we do not really possess it; we imagine we have it.

Ver. 27 (comp. Luk 19:14 ) represents the Messiah's reckoning with the Jewish people, as Luk 19:15-26 represent His reckoning with the Church. Πλήν , only: “After judging the servants, there remains only one thing.” This punishment of the Jews includes, along with the destruction of Jerusalem, the state of rejection in which they are plunged till the Lord's return.

The ruling idea of this parable in Luke is therefore that of a time of probation between the departure and the return of the Lord, necessary to prepare the sentence which shall fix the position of every one in the state of things following the Parousia. Hence follows the impossibility of that immediate appearing of the kingdom of God which filled the minds of the crowd now accompanying Jesus to Jerusalem. Luke's parable thus forms, as Holtzmann acknowledges, a complete whole; and whatever the same learned critic may say, it must be confessed that the introduction, Luke 19:11, indicates its true bearing, a fact confirming the idea that this introduction belonged to Luke's sources, and proceeded from accurate tradition.

The relation between this parable and that of the talents in Matthew is difficult to determine. Strauss has alleged that Luke's was a combination of that of the husbandmen (Luke 20:0) and that of the talents (Matthew 25:0). But the internal harmony of Luke's description, which Holtzmann acknowledges, does not admit of this supposition. Meyer regards it as a re-handling of the parable of the talents in Matthew. The action is undoubtedly similar, but, as we have seen, the thought is radically different. The aim of Matthew's parable seems to be to encourage those who have received less, by promising them the same approbation from the Master if they are equally faithful, and by putting them on their guard against the temptation of making their inferiority a motive to spiritual indifference, and a pretext for idleness. We have seen that the idea of the parable in Luke is quite different. It must therefore be admitted that there were two parables uttered, but that their images were borrowed from very similar fields of life. The analogy between the two descriptions may perhaps have caused the importation of some details from the one into the other (e.g., the dialogue between the master and the unfaithful servant).

Here we have reached the end of that journey, the account of which begins Luke 9:51. Jesus first traversed the countries lying south from the old scene of His activity, then the border regions of Samaria and Galilee, finally Peraea; He has thus come to the gates of Jerusalem. From the moral point of view, His work also has reached a new stage. On the one hand, the enthusiasm of the people is at its height, and all believing Galilee, the nucleus of His future Church in Israel, accompanies Him to form His retinue when He shall make His kingly entry into His capital; on the other, He has completely broken with the pharisaic party, and His separation from the nation as such, swayed by the pharisaic spirit, is consummated. He must die; for to let Him live would, on the part of the Sanhedrim, be to abdicate.

We have not followed step by step Keim's criticism on this last part of the journey. It is the masterpiece of arbitrariness. Whatever does not square with the proportions of Jesus as settled before-hand by the learned critic, is eliminated for one reason or another. Those reasons are found without difficulty when sought. After John, Luke is the most abused. For Matthew's two blind men he substitutes one, because he thinks right to reproduce the other in the form of the person of Zaccheus. Timeus ( the impure) becomes Zaccheus ( the pure), the impure pure! Mark replaces the second by Timeus, the father (also blind) of Bartimeus! Keim here reaches the height of Volkmar.

The blindness is overcome by the power of enthusiasm which was reigning at the moment, and which, by exalting the force of the vital nervous fluid, reopens the closed eyes temporarily or lastingly! Luke invents, in the despised person of Zaccheus, a counterpart to proud Jerusalem, which knows not the day of her visitation ( Luk 19:42 ). It is true that this last expression of Jesus, as well as His tears over Jerusalem, with which it is connected, is invented, as much as the history of Zaccheus. The two counterparts are imaginary!

Verses 28-36

1 st. Luke 19:28-36. The Preparations for the Entry.

The connection indicated by the words, while thus speaking, He went, is rather moral than of time: “while speaking thus [of the unbelief of Israel], He nevertheless continued His journey (imperf. ἐπορεύετο ) to Jerusalem.” ῎Εμπροσθεν signifies not in advance ( εἰς τὸ πρόσθεν ), but before [His disciples], at their head. Comp. Mark 10:32: “ They were in the way going up to Jerusalem; and Jesus went before them, and they were amazed, and as they followed they were afraid.

According to John, while the great body of the caravan pursued its way to Jerusalem, Jesus stopped at Bethany, where a feast was prepared for Him, and where He passed one or even two nights; and it was after this stay that He solemnly entered the capital, where the rumour of His approach had already spread. These circumstances fully explain the scene of Palm Day, which in the synoptical account comes upon us somewhat abruptly. Bleek finds a certain obscurity in Luke's expression: “When He came nigh to Bethphage and Bethany; ” for it is not known how those two localities are related. In Mark ( Mar 11:1 ) the same difficulty ( Mat 21:1 does not speak of Bethany). Add to this that the O. T. nowhere speaks of a village called Bethphage, and that tradition, which indicates the site of Bethany so certainly, says absolutely nothing about that of this hamlet. The Talmud alone mentions Bethphage, and in such a way as to show that this locality was very near Jerusalem, and was even joined to the city. Bethphage is without the walls, it is said; and the bread which is prepared in it is sacred, like that which is made in the city ( Bab. Pesachim, 63. 2; Menachoth, 7. 6, etc.). Lightfoot, Renan, Caspari have concluded from these passages that Bethphage was not a hamlet, but a district, the precinct of the city extending eastward as far as the Mount of Olives, and even to Bethany. According to the Rabbins, Jerusalem was to the people what the camp had formerly been to Israel in the wilderness. And as at the great feasts the city could not contain all the pilgrims who came from a distance, and who should strictly have found an abode in the camp (the city), and there celebrated the feast, there was added, they say, to Jerusalem, to make it sufficient, all this district situated on the side of the Mount of Olives, and which bore the name of Bethphage ( place of figs). Bethany was the beginning of this district where the pilgrims encamped in a mass; and perhaps its name came from Beth-Chani, place of booths (the merchants' tents set up in the sight of this multitude) (Caspari, p. 163). Nothing could in this case be more exact than the mode of expression used by Luke and Mark: when He came to Bethphage (the sacred district) and to Bethany (the hamlet where this district began). ᾿Ελαιῶν might be taken as the gen. plural of ἐλαία , olive trees ( ἐλαιῶν ). But in Josephus this word is the name of the mountain itself ( ἐλαιών , olive wood); comp. also Acts 1:12. This is the most probable sense in our passage. At Luk 19:37 and Luke 22:39, where Luke uses this word in the first sense, he indicates it by the art. τῶν .

The sending of the two disciples proves the deliberate intention of Jesus to give a certain solemnity to this scene. Till then He had withdrawn from popular expressions of homage; but once at least He wished to show Himself as King Messiah to His people ( Luk 19:40 ). It was a last call addressed by Him to the population of Jerusalem ( Luk 19:42 ). This course, besides, could no longer compromise His work. He knew that in any case death awaited Him in the capital.

John ( Joh 12:14 ) says simply, Jesus found the young ass, without indicating in what way. But the words which follow, “The disciples remembered that they had done these things unto Him,” Luke 19:16, allude to a doing on the part of the disciples which John himself has not mentioned. His account, therefore, far from contradicting that of the Syn., assumes it as true.

The remark, whereon yet never man sat ( Luk 19:30 ), is in keeping with the kingly and Messianic use which is about to be made of the animal. Comp. Deuteronomy 21:3. Matthew not only mentions the colt, but also the ass. Accompanied by its mother, the animal, though not broken in, would go the more quietly. What are we to think of the critics (Strauss, Volkmar) who allege that, according to Matthew's text, Jesus mounted the two animals at once!

The ease with which Jesus obtains the use of this beast, which does not belong to Him, is another trait of the royal greatness which He thinks good to display on this occasion. Οὕτως , Luke 19:31 (Mark and Matthew, εὐθέως ), “ thus; and that will suffice.” Luke and Mark do not cite the prophecy of Zechariah. It was not necessary that every one should understand the symbolical meaning of this scene, and contrast the peaceful beast with the warlike steeds of earthly conquerors.

A new proof of the supernatural knowledge of Jesus, which must not be confounded with omniscience; comp. Luke 22:10; Luke 22:31-34; John 1:49; John 4:17, etc. According to Mark, who loves to describe details, the colt was tied to a door at a crossway ( ἄμφοδος ). It was no doubt the place where the little path leading to the house of the owners of the ass went off from the highway; or might it be the crossing of two roads, that which Jesus followed (going from east to west), and that which to the present day passes along the crest of the mountain (from north to south)?

The term κύριος , Lord ( Luk 19:34 ), shows the feeling of sovereignty with which Jesus acted. It is probable that He knew the owners. In substituting their garments for the cover which it would have been so easy to procure, the disciples wished to pay homage to Jesus, a fact brought out by the pron. ἑαυτῶν ( Luk 19:35 ). Comp. 2 Kings 9:13.

Verses 28-44

First Cycle: The Entry of Jesus into Jerusalem, Luke 19:28-44 .

This narrative embraces: 1 st. The preparations for the entry ( Luk 19:28-36 ); 2 d. The joy of the disciples and of the multitude on coming in sight of Jerusalem ( Luk 19:37-40 ); 3 d. The tears of Jesus at the same instant ( Luk 19:41-44 ).

Verses 28-48

FIFTH PART: SOJOURN AT JERUSALEM, Luk 19:28 to Luke 21:38 .

This part includes three principal events: I. The entry of Jesus into Jerusalem ( Luk 19:28-44 ). II. The exercise of His Messianic sovereignty in the temple ( Luk 19:45 to Luk 21:4 ). III. The prophecy of the destruction of Jerusalem and of the Jewish people ( Luk 21:5-38 ).

The relation between these three events is easily understood. The first is the final appeal of Jesus to His people; with the second there is connected the decisive rejection of Israel; the third is, as it were, the pronouncing of the sentence which falls on this refusal.

Verses 37-40

2 d. Luke 19:37-40. The Entry.

From the moment that Jesus seats Himself on the colt, He becomes the visible centre of the assemblage, and the scene takes a character more and more extraordinary. It is as if a breathing from above had all at once taken possession of this multitude. The sight of the city and temple which opens up at the moment contributes to this burst of joy and hope ( Luk 19:37 ). The object of ἐγγίζοντος , coming nigh, is not πρὸς τῇ καταβάσει ( πρὸς τήν would be necessary); it is rather Jerusalem, the true goal of the journey. Πρὸς τῇ is a qualification of ἤρξαντο : “ at the descent, they began.” From this elevated point, 300 feet above the terrace of the temple, which is itself raised about 140 feet above the level of the valley of the Cedron, an extensive view was had of the city and the whole plain which it commands, especially of the temple, which rose opposite, immediately above the valley. All those hearts recall at this moment the miracles which have distinguished the career of this extraordinary man; they are aware that at the point to which things have come His entry into Jerusalem cannot fail to issue in a decisive revolution, although they form an utterly false idea of that catastrophe.

John informs us that among all those miracles there was one especially which excited the enthusiasm of the crowd; that was the resurrection of Lazarus. Already on the previous evening very many pilgrims had come from Jerusalem to Bethany to see not only Jesus, but also Lazarus, who had been raised from the dead. This day the procession meets at every step with new troops arriving from the city; and these successive meetings call forth ever and again new bursts of joy.

The acclamation, Luke 19:38, is taken in part from Psalms 118:25. This hymn belonged to the great Hallel, which was chanted at the end of the Paschal Supper as well as at the feast of Tabernacles. The people were accustomed to apply the expression, He who cometh in the name of the Lord (in the Psalm, every faithful one who came to the feast), to the Messiah. Probably the word βασιλεύς , king, is authentic in Luke; and its omission in some MSS. arises from the texts of the LXX. and of Matthew.

The expression, in the name of, is dependent not on blessed be, but on He who cometh: “the King who comes on the part of God as His representative.” The peace in heaven is that of the reconciliation which the Messiah comes to effect between God and the earth. Luke omits the word Hosanna, which his readers of Gentile origin would not have understood.

The fact related Luk 19:39-40 belongs to Luke alone. Pharisees had mingled with the groups, to spy out what was passing. Aware that their authority is slipping from them ( Joh 12:19 ), they had recourse to Jesus Himself, begging Him to keep order in His crowd of followers. They are disgusted at seeing that, not content with setting Himself up as a prophet, He dares publicly to accept Messianic homage. The saying, Rebuke thy disciples, was doubtless accompanied with an irritated and anxious look towards the citadel of Antonia, the residence of the Roman garrison. This look seemed to say: “Seest thou not...? Are not the Romans there? Wilt thou destroy us?” The answer of Jesus has a terrible majesty: “If I should silence all those mouths, you would hear the same acclamations proceeding from the ground! So impossible is it that an appearance like this should not be, once at least, saluted on the earth as it deserves to be!”

The terms used appear to have been proverbial ( Hab 2:11 ). Some have referred the term, the stones, to the walls of the temple, and of the houses of Jerusalem, which, as they fell in ruins forty years after, rendered homage to the kingly glory of Jesus; but this meaning is far-fetched. The form of the Paulo-post future ( κεκράξονται ) is frequently used by the LXX., but, as here, without having the special signification which is attached to it in classical Greek. The grammatical reduplication simply expresses the repetition of the cry of those inanimate objects: “It will be impossible to reduce those stones to silence, if once they shall begin to cry.” The simple future in the Alex. is a correction.

Verses 41-44

3 d. Luke 19:41-44. The Lamentations of Jesus.

Jesus has reached the edge of the plateau ( ὡς ἤγγισεν ); the holy city lies before His view ( ἰδὼν τὴν πόλιν ). What a day would it be for it, if the bandage fell from its eyes! But what has just passed between Him and the Pharisees present has awakened in His heart the conviction of the insurmountable resistance which He is about to meet. Then Jesus, seized, and, as it were, wrung by the contrast between what is and what might be, breaks out into sobs. ῎Εκλαυσεν , not ἐδάκρυσεν ; we have to do with lamentations, with sobbings, not with tears. The words even thou mark a contrast between the population of Jerusalem and that multitude of believers from Galilee and abroad which formed His retinue. Would the inhabitants of Jerusalem but associate themselves with this Messianic festival, their capital would be saved! From that very day would date the glory of Jerusalem, as well as that of its King.

The two words καίγε and σοῦ , omitted by the Alex., have great importance. “ Καίγε , at least in this day, thy last day.” This one day which remains to it would suffice to secure its pardon for all the unbelief of the city, and even for all the blood of the prophets formerly shed within its walls! Does not this word at least suppose previous residences of Jesus at Jerusalem? Σοῦ , added to ἡμέρα ( thy day), alludes to the days, now past, of Capernaum, Bethsaïda, and Chorazin. Jesus does not knock indefinitely at the door of a heart or of a people.

In the words, the things which belong to thy peace, Jesus thinks at once of the individual salvation of the inhabitants and of the preservation of the entire city. By submitting to the sovereignty of Jesus, Israel would have been preserved from the spirit of carnal exaltation which led to its ruin.

The apodosis of, Oh if..., is understood, as at Luke 13:9.

By the νῦν δέ , but now, Jesus reverts from this ideal salvation which He has been contemplating to the sad reality. We must beware of taking, with some commentators, as the subject of ἐκρύβη , are hid, the whole of the following clause: “it is concealed from thine eyes that...” The sentence thus read would drag intolerably.

Instead of the days of deliverance and glory, the image of which has just passed before His mind, Jesus sees others approaching, which fill His soul with sadness ( Luk 19:43-44 ). Modern criticism agrees in asserting that this description of the destruction of Jerusalem in Luke includes particulars so precise, that it could only have been given ab eventu. It therefore concludes confidently from this passage that our Gospel was composed after this catastrophe. But in this case we must refuse to allow Jesus any supernatural knowledge, and relegate to the domain of myth or imposture all the facts of evangelical history in which it is implied, e.g., the announcement of Peter's denial, so well attested by the four Gospels. Besides, if it cannot be denied that the destruction of Jerusalem was foreseen and announced by Jesus, as is implied in His foreseeing the siege, is it not evident that all the particulars of the following description must have presented themselves spontaneously to His mind? We know well how Jesus loves to individualize His idea by giving the most concrete details of its realization. Comp. chap. 17 Χάραξ , a palisade of stakes filled in with branches and earth, and generally strengthened by a ditch, behind which the besiegers sheltered themselves. Such a rampart was really constructed by Titus. The Jews burned it in a sally; it was replaced by a wall.

In the LXX. ἐδαφίζειν signifies, to dash on the ground. But in good Greek it signifies, to bring down to the level of the ground. The last sense suits better here, for it applies both to the houses levelled with the ground and to the slaughtered inhabitants. Jesus, like the Zechariah of the O. T. (Zechariah 11:0) and the Zacharias of the New ( Luk 1:68 ), represents His coming as the last visit of God to His people.

The word καιρός , the favourable time, shows that this visit of God is this day reaching its close.

This account is one of the gems of our Gospel. After those arresting details, Luke does not even mention the entry into the city. The whole interest for him lies in the events which precede. Mark ( Mar 11:11 ) and Matthew ( Mat 21:10 ) proceed otherwise. The latter sets himself to paint the emotion with which the whole city was seized. Mark ( Mar 11:11 ) describes in a remarkable way the impressions of Jesus on the evening of the day. Accounts so different cannot be derived from the same written source.

Verses 45-48

Second Cycle: The Reign of Jesus in the Temple, Luk 19:45 to Luke 21:4 .

From this moment, Jesus establishes Himself as a sovereign in His Father's house; He there discharges the functions not only of a prophet, but of a legislator and judge; for some days the theocratic authorities seem to abdicate their powers into His hands.

These are the days of the Messiah's sovereignty in His temple ( Mal 3:1-2 ).

This section contains the following facts: Jesus driving out the sellers ( Luk 19:45-48 ); His answer to an official question of the Sanhedrim regarding His competence ( Luk 20:1-8 ); His announcing their deprivation of authority ( Luk 20:9-19 ); His escape from the snares laid for Him by the Pharisees and Sadducees ( Luk 20:20-40 ); His putting to them a question respecting the person of the Messiah ( Luk 20:41-44 ); His guarding the people against those seducers ( Luk 20:45-47 ); His setting up, in opposition to their false system of moral appreciation, the true standard of divine judgment ( Luk 21:1-4 ).

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Bibliographical Information
Godet, Frédéric Louis. "Commentary on Luke 19". "Godet's Commentary on Selected Books".