Attention!
Partner with StudyLight.org as God uses us to make a difference for those displaced by Russia's war on Ukraine.
Click to donate today!

Bible Commentaries

Godet's Commentary on Selected Books

Luke 8

Verses 1-3

6. The Women who ministered to Jesus: Luke 8:1-3.

By the side of the high religious problems raised by the life of Jesus, there is a question, seldom considered, which nevertheless possesses some interest: How did Jesus find the means of subsistence during the two or three years that His ministry lasted? He had given up His earthly occupation. He deliberately refrained from using His miraculous power to supply His necessities. Further, He was not alone; He was constantly accompanied by twelve men, who had also abandoned their trade, and whose maintenance He had taken on Himself in calling them to follow Him. The wants of this itinerant society were met out of a common purse ( Joh 13:29 ); the same source furnished their alms to the poor ( Joh 12:6 ). But how was this purse itself filled? The problem is partly, but not completely, explained by hospitality. Had He not various needs, of clothing, etc.? The true answer to this question is furnished by this passage, which possesses, therefore, considerable interest. Jesus said: “ Seek first the kingdom of God, and other things shall be added unto you. ” He also said: “ There is none that leaves father, mother..., house, lands for the kingdom of God, who does not find a hundred times more. ” He derived these precepts from His daily experience. The grateful love of those whom He filled with His spiritual riches provided for His temporal necessities, as well as for those of His disciples. Some pious women spontaneously rendered Him the services of mother and sisters.

This passage would suffice to prove the excellence of Luke's sources; their originality, for the other evangelists furnish no similar information; their exactness, for who would have invented such simple and positive details with the names and rank of these women? and their purity, for what can be further removed from false marvels and legendary fictions than this perfectly natural and prosaic account of the Lord's means of subsistence during the course of His ministry?

Vers. 1-3. Luke indicates this time as a distinctly marked epoch in the ministry of the Lord. He ceases to make Capernaum, His ἰδία πόλις , His own city ( Mat 9:1 ), the centre of His activity; He adopts an altogether itinerant mode of life, and literally has no place where to lay His head. It is this change in His mode of living, carried out at this time, which induces Luke to place here this glimpse into the means of His material support. The aor. ἐγένετο , it came to pass ( Luk 8:1 ), indicates a definite time. The καί before αὐτός , as the sign of the apodosis, betrays an Aramaean source. The imperf. διώδευε , He went throughout, denotes a slow and continuous mode of travelling. The preposition κατά expresses the particular care which He bestowed on every place, whether large ( city) or small ( village). Everywhere He gave Himself time to stay. To the general idea of a proclamation, expressed by the verb κηρύσσειν , to preach, the second verb, to evangelize, to announce the glad tidings of the kingdom, adds the idea of a proclamation of grace as the prevailing character of His teaching.

The Twelve accompanied Him. What a strange sight this little band presented, passing through the cities and country as a number of members of the heavenly kingdom, entirely given up to the work of spreading and celebrating salvation! Had the world ever seen anything like it?

Among the women who accompanied this band, filling the humble office of servants, Luke makes special mention first of Mary, surnamed Magdalene. This surname is probably derived from her being originally from Magdala, a town situated on the western shore of the sea of Galilee ( Mat 15:39 ), the situation of which to the north of Tiberias is still indicated at the present day by a village named El-Megdil ( the tower). The seven demons ( Mar 16:9 ) denote, without doubt, the culminating point of her possession, resulting from a series of attacks, each of which had aggravated the evil ( Luk 11:24-26 ). It is without the least foundation that tradition identifies Mary Magdalene with the penitent sinner of chap. 7. Possession, which is a disease (see Luk 4:33 ), has been wrongly confounded with a state of moral corruption. The surname, of Magdala, is intended to distinguish this Mary from all the others of this name, more particularly from her of Bethany.

Chuza was probably entrusted with some office in the household of Herod Antipas. Might he not be that βασιλικός , court lord, whose son Jesus had healed (John 4:0), and who had believed with all his house?

We know nothing of Susanna and the other women. Αἵτινες reminds us that it was in the capacity of servants that they accompanied Him. Διακονεῖν , to serve, here denotes pecuniary assistance, as Romans 15:25, and also the personal attentions which might be rendered by a mother or sisters ( Luk 8:21 ). The reading of the T. R., αὐτῷ , who served Him, may be a correction in accordance with Matthew 27:55, Mark 15:41; but the reading αὐτοῖς , who served them, is the more probable one according to Luke 8:1 (the Twelve) and Luke 4:39.

What a Messiah for the eye of flesh, this being living on the charity of men! But what a Messiah for the spiritual eye, this Son of God living on the love of those to whom His own love is giving life! What an interchange of good offices between heaven and earth goes on around His person!

Verses 1-56

Third Cycle: From the Election of the Twelve to their First Mission, Luk 6:12 to Luke 8:56 .

In the following section we shall see the Galilean ministry reach its zenith; it begins with the institution of the apostolate and the most important of Jesus' discourses during His sojourn in Galilee, the Sermon on the Mount; and it ends with a cycle of miracles that display the extraordinary power of Jesus in all its grandeur ( Luk 8:22-56 ). The hostility against Him seems to moderate; but it is sharpening its weapons in secret; in a very little while it will break out afresh.

This section comprises eleven portions: 1 st, the choosing of the Twelve, and the Sermon on the Mount ( Luk 6:12-49 ); 2 d, the healing of the centurion's servant ( Luk 7:1-10 ); 3 d, the raising of the widow's son at Nain ( Luk 7:11-17 ); 4 th, the question of John the Baptist, and the discourse of Jesus upon it ( Luk 7:18-35 ); 5 th, the woman that was a sinner at the feet of Jesus ( Luk 7:36-50 ); 6 th, the women who ministered to Jesus' support ( Luk 8:1-3 ); 7 th, the parable of the sower ( Luk 8:4-18 ); 8 th, the visit of the mother and brethren of Jesus ( Luk 8:19-21 ); 9 th, the stilling of the storm ( Luk 8:22-25 ); 10 th, the healing of the demoniac of Gadara ( Luk 8:26-39 ); 11 th, the raising of Jaïrus' daughter ( Luk 8:40-56 ).

1. The Choosing of the Twelve, and the Sermon on the Mount: Luke 6:12-49.

Our affixing this title to this portion implies two things: 1 st, that there is a close connection between the two facts contained in this title; 2 d, that the discourse, Luke 6:20-49, is the same as that we read in Matthew 5-7. The truth of the first supposition, from Luke's point of view, appears from Luke 6:20, where he puts the discourse which follows in close connection with the choosing of the Twelve which he has just narrated. The truth of the second is disputed by those who think that in consequence of this choice Jesus spoke two discourses, one on the summit of the mountain, addressed specially to His disciples, the second lower down on level ground, addressed to the multitude; the former, which was of a more private character, being that of Matthew; the latter, of a more popular aim, that of Luke. They rely on the differences in substance and form between the two discourses in our two Gospels. In regard to the substance, the essential matter in the discourse of Matthew, the opposition between the righteousness of the Pharisees and the true righteousness of the kingdom of heaven, is not found at all in Luke. As to the form, in Matthew Jesus ascends the mountain to preach it, while in Luke He comes down, after having spent the night on the summit. Further, there He is seated καθίσαντος αὐτοῦ , Mat 5:1 ); here He appears to be standing ( ἔστη , Luk 6:17 ). Notwithstanding these reasons, we cannot admit that there were two distinct discourses. They both begin in the same way, with the beatitudes; they both treat of the same subject, the righteousness of the kingdom of God, with this shade of difference, that the essence of this right-eousness, in Matthew, is spirituality; in Luke, charity. They both have the same conclusion, the parable of the two buildings. This resemblance in the plan of the discourse is so great, that it appears to us decidedly to take precedence of the secondary differences. As to the differences of form, it should be observed that Luke's expression, ἐπὶ τόπου πεδινοῦ , literally, on a level place, denotes a flat place on the mountain. To denote the plain, Luke would have said, ἐπὶ πεδίου . Luke's expression is not, therefore, contradictory to Matthew's. The latter, as usual, giving a summary narrative, tells us that Jesus preached this time on the mountain, in opposition to the plain, the sea-side that is, where He usually preached; while Luke, who describes in detail all the circumstances of this memorable day, begins by mentioning the night which Jesus spent alone on the summit of the mountain; next he tells how He descended to a level place situated on the mountain side, where He stayed to speak to the people. This plateau was still the mountain in Matthew's sense. On the relation of ἔστη (Luke) to He sat down (Matthew), see on Luke 6:17.

In order to understand the Sermon on the Mount, it is necessary to form a correct view of the historical circumstances which were the occasion of it; for this sermon is something more than an important piece of instruction delivered by Jesus; it is one of the decisive acts of His ministry. We have pointed out in the preceding section the symptoms of a growing rupture between Jesus and the hierarchical party (Luke 6:14; Luke 6:17; Luke 6:21-23, Luk 6:1 seq.). The bold attitude which Jesus assumes towards this party, challenging its hostility by calling a publican, by emphasizing in His teaching the antithesis between the old and new order of things, and by openly braving their Sabbatarian prejudices, all this enables us to see that a crisis in the development of His work has arrived. It is an exactly corresponding state of things for Galilee to that which was brought about in Judaea after the healing of the impotent man on the Sabbath (John 5:0). The choice of the Twelve and the Sermon on the Mount are the result and the solution of this critical situation. Up to this time Jesus had been satisfied with gathering converts about Him, calling some of them to accompany Him habitually as disciples. Now He saw that the moment was come to give His work a more definite form, and to organize His adherents. The hostile army is preparing for the attack; it is time to concentrate His own forces; and consequently He begins, if I may venture to say so, by drawing up His list of officers. The choosing of the Twelve is the first constitutive act accomplished by Jesus Christ. It is the first measure, and substantially (with the sacraments) the only measure, of organization which He ever took. It sufficed Him, since the college of the Twelve, once constituted, was in its turn to take what further measures might be required when the time came for them.

The number 12 was significant. Jesus set up in their persons the twelve patriarchs of a new people of God, a spiritual Israel, that was to be substituted for the old. Twelve new tribes were to arise at their word and form the holy humanity which Jesus came to install in the earth. An act more expressly Messianic it is impossible to conceive; and the criticism which maintains that it was only at Caesarea-Philippi, and at the instigation of Peter, that Jesus decisively accepted the part of Messiah, must begin by effacing from history the choosing of the Twelve, with its manifest signification. Further, this act is the beginning of the divorce between Jesus and the ancient people of God. The Lord does not begin to frame a new Israel until He sees the necessity of breaking with the old. He has laboured in vain to transform; nothing now remains but to substitute. This attentive crowd which surrounds Him on the mountain is the nucleus of the new people; this discourse which He addresses to them is the promulgation of the new law by which they are to be governed; this moment is the solemn inauguration of the people of Jesus Christ upon the earth, of that people which, by means of individual conversions, is eventually to absorb into itself all that belongs to God among all other peoples. Hence this discourse has a decidedly inaugural character, a character which, whatever Weizsäcker may say about it, belongs no less to its form in Luke than to its form in Matthew. In the latter, Jesus addresses Himself, if you will, to the apostles, but as representing the entire new Israel. In Luke, He rather speaks, if you will, to the new Israel, but as personified in the person of the apostles. In reality this makes no difference. The distinction between apostles and believers is nowhere clearly asserted. Every believer is to be the salt of the earth, the light of the world (Matthew); every apostle is to be one of those poor, hungry, weeping, persecuted ones of which the new people is to be composed (Luke). Just as, at Sinai, Jehovah makes no distinction between priests and people, so it is His people, with all the constitutive elements of their life, whose appearance Jesus hails, whose new character He portrays, and whose future action on the world He proclaims. Further, He felt most deeply the importance of this moment, and prepared Himself for it by a whole night of meditation and prayer. The expressions of Luke upon this point ( Luk 6:12 ) have, as we shall see, quite a special character.

The Sermon on the Mount occupies quite a different place in Matthew to that which it holds in Luke. That evangelist has made it the opening of the Galilean ministry, and he places it, therefore, immediately after the call of the four first disciples. Historically speaking, this position is a manifest anachronism. How, at the very commencement of His work, could Jesus speak of persecutions for His name, as He does, Matthew 5:10-11, or feel it necessary to justify Himself against the charge of destroying the law ( Luk 6:17 ), and to give a solemn warning to false disciples ( Luk 7:21-23 )? The position of the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew is only to be understood from the systematic point of view from which this evangelist wrote. There was no better way in which the author could show the Messianic dignity of Jesus than by opening the history of His ministry with this discourse, in which was laid down the basis of that spiritual kingdom which the Messiah came to found. If the collection of the discourses composed by Matthew, of which Papias speaks, really existed, and served as a foundation for our Gospel, the position which this discourse occupies in the latter is fully accounted for.

As to Mark, we can easily perceive the precise point in his sketch where the Sermon on the Mount should come in ( Luk 3:13 et seq.). But the discourse itself is wanting, doubtless because it was no part of his design to give it to his readers. Mark's narrative is nevertheless important, in that it substantiates that of Luke, and confirms the significance attributed by this evangelist to the act of the choosing of the Twelve. This comparison with the two other Syn. shows how well Luke understood the development of the work of Jesus, and the superior chronological skill with which he compiled his narrative ( καθεξῆς γράψαι , Luk 1:3 ).

Gess has replied to our objections against the chronological accuracy of Matthew's narrative ( Litter. Anzeiger of Andreae, September 1871) in the following manner: The mention of the persecutions might refer to the fact mentioned John 4:1, and to the fate of John the Baptist; the charge of undermining the law had already been made in Judaea (comp. John 5:0); the false disciples might have been imitators of the man who wrought cures in the name of Jesus (Luke 9:49; Mar 9:38 ), although of a less pure character. And, in any case, the time of the discourse indicated by Luke does not differ sensibly from that at which Matthew places it.

But neither the hostility which Jesus had met with in Judaea, nor the accusations which had been laid against Him there, could have induced Him to speak as He did in the Sermon on the Mount, unless some similar events, such as those which St. Luke has already related, had taken place in this province, and within the knowledge of the people. It is quite possible that the facts related by Luke do not prove any very great interval between the time to which he assigns this discourse and the beginning of the Galilean ministry, at which Matthew places it. But they serve at least as a preparation for it, and give it just that historical foundation which it needs, whilst in Matthew it occurs ex abrupto, and without any historical framework.

The fact that the call of Matthew is placed in the first Gospel ( Luk 9:9 ) after the Sermon on the Mount, which supposes this call already accomplished ( Luk 6:12 et seq.), would be sufficient, if necessary, to show that this discourse is detached, in this Gospel, from its true historical context.

Verses 4-8

The following passage contains: 1 st. The parable ( Luk 8:4-8 ); 2 d. The explanations given by Jesus respecting this mode of teaching ( Luk 8:9-10 ); 3 d. The exposition of the parable ( Luk 8:11-15 ); 4 th. A warning to the apostles as to the course they must pursue in regard to truths which Jesus teaches them in this way ( Luk 8:16-18 ).

1 st. Luke 8:4-8. The Parable.

Matthew and Mark place this parable after the visit of the mother and brethren of Jesus (Matthew 13:1; Mar 4:1 ). In Luke it immediately precedes the same narrative ( Luk 8:19 et seq.). This connection may be the result of a real chronological relation, or of a moral relation as well; comp. Luke 8:15, “those who keep the word and bring forth fruit,” with Luke 8:21, “those who hear the word of God and practise it.”

We might make τῶν ἐπιπορευομένων , coming together unto Him, the complement of ὄχλου , a multitude, by giving καί the sense of even. But this construction is forced; the two genitives are parallel. Luke's meaning is: “As a great multitude was gathered about Him, and as it was continually increasing, owing to fresh additions, which were arriving more or less from every city.” This prefatory remark contains a great deal. Jesus goes through the country, stopping at every place; the Twelve are His immediate attendants; the cities are emptied, so to speak; their entire populations accompany Him. We have evidently reached a crisis. But the more the number of His hearers increases, the more clearly Jesus sees that the time has come to set some sifting process to work amongst them; if, on the one hand, it is necessary to draw the spiritual into closer attachment, on the other, it is of importance to keep the carnal at a distance. The parables, in general, have this tendency; that of the sower, by its very meaning, has a direct application to this state of things.

It appears from Matthew and Mark that Jesus was seated in a vessel on the sea-shore, and that from this kind of pulpit He taught the people who stood upon the banks. He could therefore easily discern the various expressions of the persons composing the multitude.

The art. ὁ before σπείρων designates that one of the servants who has been entrusted with this work. Gess points out the contrast between this sower, who commences the work of establishing the kingdom of God by means of the Word alone, and the Messiah, as pictured by John the Baptist, having His fan in His hand.

Jesus divides His hearers into four classes, and compares them to four kinds of soil, of which the surrounding country furnished Him with illustrations at the very time He was speaking. From the edge of the lake the soil rises very rapidly; now, on such slopes, it easily happens that the higher portion of a field has only a thin layer of mould, whilst, going down towards the plain, the bed of earth becomes deeper. Hence the differences indicated. The first soil ( by the wayside) is the part nearest the path which is freely used by passers-by. The second ( on the rock, according to Luke; in stony places, in Matthew and Mark) does not denote, as is often thought, a soil full of stones; but, as is well expressed by Luke, and confirmed by the explanation, because there was no depth of earth (Matthew and Mark), that portion of the field where the rock is only covered with a thin layer of earth. The third is a fertile soil, but already choke-full of the seeds of thorns and briars. There remains the good soil (Mark and Matthew, καλή ). This last land is neither hard as the first, nor thin as the second, nor unclean as the third; it is soft, deep, and free from other seeds. The four prep. employed by Luke well describe these different relations of the seed with the soil: παρά , by the side; ἐπί , upon; ἐν μέσῳ , in the midst; εἰς , into ( ἐπί in the T. R., Luke 8:8, has only very insufficient authorities).

The fate of the seed is determined by the nature of the soil. On the first soil it does not even spring up. The φυέν , having sprung up ( Luk 8:6-8 ), is passed over in silence in the 5th verse. Not having germinated, the seed is destroyed by external causes, the passers-by and the birds. Matthew and Mark mention only the latter. On the second soil the seed springs up; but the root, immediately meeting with the rock, cannot develope itself in proportion to the stem, and, as soon as the sun has dried up the thin layer of earth, the plant perishes. The seed on the third soil grows into ear; but briars choke it before the grain is formed. Thus in the first case there are two external causes of destruction; in the second, an external and an internal cause; in the third, a single cause, and this altogether internal. On the fourth soil the plant successfully accomplishes the entire cycle of vegetation. Luke only mentions the highest degree of fertility, a hundred-fold. Matthew and Mark speak of lesser degrees; Mark in an ascending, and Matthew in a descending order. How puerile and unworthy of earnest men these trifling variations would be, if the evangelists worked upon a common document!

The Lord invites the serious attention of the multitude to this result; ἐφώνει , He raises His voice [ He cried, A.V.], these are the words which He emphasizes. He endeavours to awaken that inward sense for divine things, without which religious teaching is only an empty sound.

The design of Jesus is, first of all, to show that He is not deceived by the sight of this crowd, which is apparently so attentive; then to put His disciples on their guard against the expectations which such a large concourse might create in their minds; lastly, and more than all, to warn His hearers of the perils which threatened the holy impressions they were then experiencing.

Verses 4-18

7. The Parable of the Sower: Luke 8:4-18.

The preceding passage indicated a change in the mode of the Lord's outward life. The following passage indicates a change in His mode of teaching; a crisis, therefore, has been reached. The sequel will make us acquainted with its nature. Before this, Jesus had spoken a few parables (Luke 8:36-39, Luke 6:39; Luk 6:47 et seq.). From now, and for a very long time, He habitually makes use of this method. The parable possesses the double property of making an indelible impression of the truth on the mind of him who is able to perceive it through the figure in which it is clothed, and of veiling it from the observation of the inattentive or indolent hearer whose mind makes no effort to penetrate this covering. It is thus admirably fitted for making a selection from the hearers.

The term parable (from παραβάλλειν , to place side by side) denotes a form of instruction in which, by the side of the truth, is placed the image which represents it. This is also the meaning of παροιμία , a path by the side of the high road. The parable bears a close resemblance to the fable; but it differs from it in two respects, one of substance, the other of form. Whilst the fable refers to the relations of men with one another, and to the moral laws which regulate these relations, the parable deals with man's relations with God, and with the lofty principles by which they are governed. The loftier sphere in which the parable moves determines the difference of form which distinguishes it from the fable. The fable partakes of a humorous character; it is quite allowable, therefore, in it to make plants and animals speak. The aim of the parable is too serious to comport with such fictions. There must be nothing in the picture to violate probability. Animals and material objects may be employed in the parable (sheep, leaven); but they must not assume a character contrary to their actual nature. The parable was the most natural mode of teaching for Jesus to adopt. Living in the incessant contemplation of the divine world, which lay open to His inward sense, finding Himself at the same time also in constant intercourse with the external world, which He observed with intelligent and calm attention, He was necessarily led to make constant comparisons of these two spheres, and to perceive the innumerable analogies which exist between them.

The first parable He uttered that was fully worked out, appears to have been this of the sower. Matthew makes it the opening parable of the large collection in chap. 13. Mark assigns it a similar place at the head of a more limited collection, chap. 4. It is the only one, besides that of the vine-dressers, a parable belonging to our Lord's last days, which has been preserved in all the three Syn. In all three, the general explanation, which Jesus gives His disciples once for all, as to why He employs this form of teaching, is connected with the account of this parable. It appears, therefore, that it was the first complete similitude that He offered them. Moreover, it was the one which seems to have struck the disciples the most, and which was most frequently told in the oral tradition; this explains its reproduction by our three evangelists.

Verses 9-10

2 d. Luke 8:9-10. The Parables in general. And His disciples asked Him, saying, What might this parable be? 10. And He said, Unto you it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God: but to others in parables; that seeing they might not see, and hearing they might not understand.

The question of the disciples referred solely to the meaning of the preceding parable; but Jesus takes advantage of it to give them a general explanation of this mode of teaching. It is the same in Mark, who only adds this detail: when they were alone with Him. In Matthew the question of the disciples is altogether general: “ Wherefore speakest Thou unto them in parables? ” This form of the question appears to us less natural.

The reply of Jesus is more extended in Matthew. He quotes in extenso the prophecy of Isaiah (chap. 6) to which Luke's text alludes, and which Mark incorporates into the discourse of Jesus. Bleek professes to find in the because of Matthew ( Mat 13:13 ) a less harsh thought than the in order that of Mark and Luke. He is wrong; the thought is absolutely the same. In both cases, Jesus distinctly declares that the object of His parables is not to make divine truths intelligible to all, but to veil them from those who are indifferent to them. And it is for this very reason that He avails Himself of this mode of teaching just from this time. By such preaching as the Sermon on the Mount He had accomplished the first work of His spiritual fishing; He had cast the net. Now begins the second, the work of selection; and this He accomplishes by means of teaching in parables. As we have seen, the parable possesses the double property of attracting some, while it repels others. The veil which it throws over the truth becomes transparent to the attentive mind, while it remains impenetrable to the careless. The opposition between these two results is expressed in Luke by these words, designedly placed at the beginning of the phrase, to you and to others. It is the same in Matthew, to you and to those; in Mark, more forcibly still, to you and to those who are without. The perf. δέδοται does not refer to any antecedent decree (the aor. would have been required), but to the actual condition of the disciples, which renders them fit to receive the revelation of divine things. It is the inward drawing due to divine teaching, of which Jesus speaks in John 6:0

The term mystery, in Scripture, denotes the plan of salvation, in so far as it can only be known by man through a higher revelation ( μυέω , to initiate). Used in the plural ( the mysteries), it denotes the different parts of this great whole. These are the heavenly things of which Jesus spoke to Nicodemus ( Joh 3:12 ), and which He contrasted with the earthly things which He had preached at the commencement. The verb understood before ἐν παραβολαῖς is λαλεῖται .

But how, when God makes a revelation, can it be His will not to be understood, as Isaiah says (chap. 6), and as is repeated here by Jesus? That is not, as Riggenbach says, either His first will or His last. It is an intermediate decree; it is a chastisement. When the heart has failed to open to the first beams of truth, the brighter beams which follow, instead of enlightening, dazzle and blind it; and this result is willed by God; it is a judgment. Since Pharaoh refuses to humble himself under the first lessons he receives, subsequent lessons shall harden him; for, if he is unwilling to be converted himself, he must at least subserve the conversion of others by the conspicuousness of his punishment. The Jewish people themselves, in the time of Isaiah, were just in this position. God makes them feel this by calling them, not my people, but this people. God already sees that the nation is incapable of fulfilling the part of an apostle to the world which had departed from Him. This part it shall accomplish. nevertheless; only it shall not be by its missionary action, but by its ruin. This ruin, therefore, becomes necessary; and because this ruin is necessary (Matthew), or in order that it may take place (Mark and Luke), Israel must be hardened. A similar state of things recurred at the period in Jesus' ministry which we have now reached. Israel rejected as a nation the light which shone in Jesus; and this light covered itself under the veil of the parable. But through this veil it sent out still more brilliant rays into the hearts of those who, like His disciples, had welcomed with eagerness its first beams.

The terms, see, hear, refer to the description in the parable; not seeing, and not understanding, to its real meaning.

Verses 11-15

3 d. Luke 8:11-15. The Explanation of the Parable.

The expression, Now the parable is this ( Luk 8:11 ), signifies that the essence of the picture is not in its outward form, but in its idea. The point of resemblance between the word and the seed, is the living power contained in a vehicle which conceals it.

By the word Jesus doubtless means primarily His own teaching, but He also comprehends in it any preaching that faithfully represents His own.

Amongst the multitude Jesus discerned four kinds of expression: countenances expressing thoughtlessness and indifference; faces full of enthusiasm and delight; others with a careworn, preoccupied expression; and lastly, expressions of serene joy, indicating a full acceptance of the truth that was being taught.

In the explanation which follows, the word is sometimes identified with the new life which is to spring from it, and the latter with the individuals themselves, in whom it is found. This accounts for the strange expressions: those which are sown by the wayside (Luke 8:12; comp. Luk 8:13-15 ); these have no root ( Luk 8:13 ); they are choked ( Luk 8:14 ). The first class contains those who are wholly insensible to religion, who are conscious of no need, have no fear of condemnation, no desire of salvation, and consequently no affinity with the gospel of Christ. In their case, therefore, the word becomes a prey to external agents of destruction. Only one is mentioned in the application, the devil (Luke), Satan (Mark), the evil one (Matthew), who employs various means of diverting their minds, in order to make them forget what they have heard. Had not Jesus believed in the existence of Satan, He would never have spoken of him as a reality answering to the figure of the parable. Οἱ ἀκούοντες , who hear, must be thus explained: “who hear, and nothing more. ” This implies Matthew's do not understand.

The second are the superficial but excitable natures, in whom imagination and sensibility for the moment make up for the absence of moral feeling. They are charmed with the novelty of the gospel, and the opposition which it offers to received ideas. In every awakening, such men form a considerable portion of the new converts. But in their case the word soon comes into conflict with an internal hindrance: a heart of stone which the humiliation of repentance and the love of holiness have never broken. Thus it finds itself given over to external agents of destruction, such as temptation (Luke), tribulation and persecution (Matthew and Mark); the enmity of the rulers, the rage of the Pharisees, the danger of excommunication, in a word, the necessity of suffering in order to remain faithful. Those who have merely sought for spiritual enjoyment in the gospel are therefore overcome.

In Luk 8:13 the verb εἰσίν must be understood, and οἳ ὅταν must be made the predicate: are those who, when...The οἵ at the end of the verse is a development of οὗτοι , and signifies who, as such.

The third are persons with a measure of earnestness, but their heart is divided; they seek salvation and acknowledge the value of the gospel, but they are bent also upon their earthly welfare, and are not determined to sacrifice everything for the truth. These persons are often found at the present day among those who are regarded as real Christians. Their worldly-mindedness maintains its ground notwithstanding their serious interest in the gospel, and to the end hinders their complete conversion.

The miscarriage of the seed here results from an inward cause, which is both one and threefold: cares (in the case of those who are in poverty), riches (in those who are making their fortune), and the pleasures of life (in those who are already rich). These persons, like Ananias and Sapphira, have overcome the fear of persecution, but, like them, they succumb to the inward obstacle of a divided heart. Πορευόμενοι , go forth, describes the bustle of an active life, coming and going in the transaction of business ( 2Sa 3:1 ). It is in this verse especially that the seed is identified with the new life in the believer. The form differs completely in the three Syn.

In the fourth their spiritual wants rule their life. Their conscience is not asleep, as in the first; it is that, and not, as in the case of the second, imagination or sensibility, which rules the will; it prevails over the earthly interests which have sway in the third. These are the souls described by Paul in Romans 7:0 ᾿Εν καρδίᾳ and τὸν λόγον depend on the two verbs ἀκούσαντες κατέχουσιν combined, which together denote one and the same act: to hear and to keep, for such persons, are the same thing. The term perseverance refers to the numerous obstacles which the seed has had to overcome in order to its full development; comp. the καθ᾿ ὑπομονήν ἔργου ἀγαθοῦ ( Rom 2:7 ). Jesus was certainly thinking here of the disciples, and of the devoted women who accompanied Him. Luke makes no mention either in the parable or the explanation of the different degrees of fertility indicated by Matthew and Mark, and the latter mention them here also in a contrary order.

We do not think that a single verse of this explanation of the parable is compatible with the hypothesis of the employment of a common text by the evangelists, or of their having copied from each other; at least it must be admitted that they allowed themselves to trifle, in a puerile and profane way, with the words of the Lord. The constant diversity of the three texts is, on the other hand, very naturally explained if their original source was the traditional teaching.

Verses 16-18

4 th. Luke 8:16-18. Practical Conclusion. No man, when he hath lighted a candle, covereth it with a vessel, or putteth it under a bed; but setteth it on a candlestick, that they which enter in may see the light. 17. For nothing is secret that shall not be made manifest; neither anything hid that shall not be known and come abroad. 18. Take heed therefore how ye hear; for whosoever hath, to him shall be given; and whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken even that which he seemeth to have.

Bleek can perceive no connection between these reflections and the preceding parable. But they are closely connected with the similar reflections in Luke 8:9-10. There is even a designed antithesis between the growth of the light ( Luk 8:16-17 ) and the increase of the darkness ( Luk 8:10 ). Jesus is speaking to the disciples. The word which is translated candle denotes simply a lamp, just a saucer filled with oil in which a wick is placed the mode of lighting most used in the East. It may therefore be placed without any danger under such a vessel as a bushel, which serves at once for measure, table, and dish amongst the poor, or under the divan ( κλίνη ), a bench furnished with cushions and raised from the floor from one to three feet, on which it is customary to rest while engaged in conversation or at meals. Beds properly so called are not used in the East; they generally lie on the ground, on wraps and carpets. The lighted lamp might denote the apostles, whom Jesus enlightens with a view to make them the teachers of the world. Covering their light would be not putting them into a position of sufficient influence in regard to other men; and setting it on a candlestick would signify, conferring on them the apostolic office, in virtue of which they will become the light of the world. Those who see the light on entering the house would be their converts from the Jews and heathen. Luk 8:17 would be an allusion, as in Luke 12:3, to that law according to which truth is to be fully revealed to the world by the apostolic preaching. Lastly, the 18th verse would refer to that growth of inward light which is the recompense of the preacher for the faithfulness of his labours. But it is just this last verse which upsets the whole of this interpretation. For, 1. With this meaning, Jesus ought to have said, not: Take heed how ye hear, but, how ye preach. 2. To have, in the sense of the 18th verse, is not certainly to produce fruits in others, but to possess the truth oneself. We must therefore regard the term λύχνος , the lamp, as denoting the truth concerning the kingdom of God which Jesus unveils to the apostles in His parables. If He clothes the truth in sensible images, it is not to render it unintelligible ( to put it under a bushel); on the contrary, in explaining it to them, as He has just done, He places it on the candlestick; and they are the persons who are illuminated on entering into the house. All will gradually become clear to them. Whilst the night thickens over Israel on account of its unbelief, the disciples will advance into even fuller light, until there is nothing left in the plan of God ( His mysteries, Luk 8:11 ) which is obscure or hidden ( Luk 8:17 ). The heart of Jesus is lifted up at this prospect. This accounts for the poetical rhythm which always appears at such moments. Here we see why it behoves the disciples to hear with the greatest care; it is in order that they may really hold what He gives them, like the good soil which receives and fertilizes the seed ( Luk 8:18 ). He alone who assimilates His teaching by an act of living comprehension, who really hath (the opposite of seeing without seeing, Luk 8:10 ), can receive continually more. Acquisitions are made only by means of, and in proportion to, what is already possessed. The Spirit Himself only makes clear what has been kept ( Joh 14:26 ). If, therefore, any one amongst them contents Himself with hearing truth without appropriating it, by and by he will obtain nothing, and at last even lose everything. Mark ( Mar 4:21-25 ) says: that which he hath; Luke: that which he thinketh he hath. It comes to the same thing; for, as to what is heard without comprehending it, it is equally true to say that he hath (in a purely external sense), or that he thinks he hath (in the real sense of the word have). Comp. Luke 19:26. This very apophthegm is found several times in Matthew. It expresses one of the profoundest laws of the moral world.

Baur and Hilgenfeld thought they found in the word δοκεῖ , thinks he hath, a censure of Luke on the haughty pretensions of the Twelve! Our evangelists could never have anticipated that they would ever have such perverse interpreters.

Nothing could more effectually allay any undue elation which the sight of these multitudes might excite in the minds of the disciples, than their being reminded in this way of their responsibility. The similar reflections in Mark ( Mar 4:25 ) are too different in form to have been drawn from the same source.

Mark goes on to narrate the parable of the ear of corn, which he alone records. In Matthew there are six parables respecting the kingdom of God given along with that of the sower. They form an admirable whole. After the foundation of the kingdom described in the parable of the sower, there follows the mode of its development in that of the tares; then its power, presented under two aspects (extension and transformation) in those of the grain of mustard seed and the leaven; next, its incomparable value in the parables of the treasure and the pearl; lastly, its consummation in that of the net. Is this systematic plan to be attributed to Jesus? I think not. He was too good a teacher to relate in this way seven parables all in a breath. On the other hand, did He only utter on this occasion the parable of the sower? Certainly not, for Matthew says respecting this very time ( Luk 13:3 ): “ And He spake many things unto them in parables, ” and Mark ( Mar 4:2 ): “ He taught them many things in parables. ” Probably, therefore, Jesus spoke on this day, besides the parable of the sower, that of the tares (Matthew), and that of the ear of corn (Mark), the images of which are all taken from the same sphere, and which immediately follow the first, the one in one Gospel, the other in the other. As to the other parables, Matthew has united them with the preceding, in accordance with his constant method of grouping the sayings of our Lord around a given subject. Such different arrangements do not appear compatible with the use of the same written document.

Verses 19-21

8. Visit of the Mother and Brethren of Jesus: Luke 8:19-21.

We should have been ignorant of the real object of this visit, unless, in this as in several other cases, Mark's narrative had come in to supplement that of the other two. According to Mark, a report had reached the brethren of Jesus that He was in a state of excitement bordering on madness; it was just the echo of this accusation of the Pharisees: “ He casteth out devils by Beelzebub. ” Comp. Mark 3:21-22. His brethren therefore came, intending to lay hold on Him ( κρατῆσαι αὐτόν , Luk 8:21 ), and take Him home. Matthew also connects this visit ( Luk 12:46 ) with the same accusation. In John, the brethren of Jesus are represented in a similar attitude in regard to Him ( Luk 7:5 ): “ His brethren also did not believe on Him. ” As to Mary, it is not said that she shared the sentiments of her sons. But when she saw them set out under the influence of such feelings, she would naturally desire to be present at the painful scene which she anticipated would take place. Perhaps also, like John the Baptist, she was unable to explain to herself the course which her Son's work was taking, and was distracted between contrary impressions.

Vers. 19-21. The word without ( Luk 8:20 ) might be understood to mean: “outside the circle which surrounded Jesus.” But Mark expressly mentions a house in which He was receiving hospitality ( Luk 8:20 ), and where a large crowd was seated around Him (Luke 8:32; Luk 8:34 ).

Are these brethren of Jesus younger sons of Joseph and Mary, or sons of Joseph by a previous marriage; or are they cousins of Jesus, sons of Cleopas (the brother of Joseph), who would be called his brethren, as having been brought up in the house of their uncle Joseph? We cannot discuss this question here. (See our Commentary on the Gospel of John, John 2:12.) One thing is certain, that the literal interpretation of the word brother, placed, as it is here, by the side of the word mother, is the most natural.

The answer of Jesus signifies, not that family ties are in His eyes of no value (comp. Joh 19:26 ), but that they are subordinate to a tie of a higher and more durable nature. In those women who accompanied Him, exercising over Him a mother's care ( Luk 8:2-3 ), and in those disciples who so faithfully associated themselves with Him in His work, He had found a family which supplied the place of that which had deliberately forsaken Him. And this new. spiritual relationship, eternal even as the God in whom it was based, was it not superior in dignity to a relationship of blood, which the least accident might break? In this saying He expresses a tender and grateful affection for those faithful souls whose love every day supplied the place of the dearest domestic affection. He makes no mention of father; this place belongs in His eyes to God alone. We see how the description of the actual circumstances, given by Mark, enables us to understand the appropriateness of this saying. This fact proves that Luke knew neither the narrative of this evangelist, nor that of the alleged proto-Mark. How could he in sheer wilfulness have neglected the light which such a narrative threw upon the whole scene?

Verses 22-25

9. The Stilling of the Storm: Luke 8:22-25.

We come now to a series of narratives which are found united together in the three Syn. ( Mat 8:18 et seq.; Mar 4:35 et seq.): the storm, the demoniac, the daughter of Jairus, together with the woman afflicted with an issue of blood. From the connection of these incidents in our three Gospels, it has frequently been inferred that their authors made use of a common written source. But, 1. How, in this case, has it come to pass that this cycle fills quite a different place in Matthew (immediately after the Sermon on the Mount) from that which it occupies in the other two? And 2. How came Matthew to intercalate, between the return of Jesus and the account of the daughter of Jairus, two incidents of the greatest importance the healing of the paralytic ( Luk 9:1 et seq.), and the call of Matthew with the feast and the discourse which follow it ( Luk 8:9 et seq.), incidents which in Mark and Luke occupy quite a different place? The use of a written source does not accord with such independent arrangement. It is a very simple explanation to maintain that, in the traditional teaching, it was customary to relate these three facts together, probably for the simple reason that they were chronologically connected, and that to this natural cycle there were sometimes added, as in Matthew, other incidents which did not belong historically to this precise time.

That which renders this portion particularly remarkable is, that in it we behold the miraculous power of Jesus at its full height: power over the forces of nature (the storm); over the powers of darkness (the demoniacs); lastly, over death (the daughter of Jairus).

Vers. 22-25. Miracles of this kind, while manifesting the original power of man over nature, are at the same time the prelude of the regeneration of the visible world which is to crown the moral renovation of humanity (Romans 8:0).

From Matthew's narrative it might be inferred that this voyage took place on the evening of the same day on which the Sermon on the Mount was spoken. But, on the other hand, too many things took place, according to Matthew himself, for the limits of a single day. Mark places this embarkation on the evening of the day on which Jesus spoke the parable of the sower; this note of the time is much more probable. Luke's indication of the time is more general: on one of these days, but it does not invalidate Mark's.

The object of this excursion was to preach the gospel in the country situated on the other side of the sea, in accordance with the plan drawn out in Luke 8:1.

According to Mark, the disciples' vessel was accompanied by other boats. When they started, the weather was calm, and Jesus, yielding to fatigue, fell asleep. The pencil of Mark has preserved this never-to-be-forgotten picture: the Lord reclining on the hinder part of the ship, with His head upon a pillow that had been placed there by some friendly hand. It often happens on lakes surrounded by mountains, that sudden and violent storms of wind descend from the neighbouring heights, especially towards evening, after a warm day. This well-known phenomenon is described by the word κατέβη , came down.

In the expression συνεπληροῦντο , they were filled, there is a confusion of the vessel with those whom it carries.

The term ἐπιστάτα is peculiar to Luke; Mark says διδάσκαλε , Matthew κύριε . How ridiculous these variations would be if all three made use of the same document!

The 24th verse describes one of the sublimest scenes the earth has ever beheld: man, calmly confident in God, by the perfect union of his will with that of the Almighty, controlling the wild fury of the blind forces of nature. The term ἐπετίμησε , rebuked, is an allusion to the hostile character of this power in its present manifestation. Jesus speaks not only to the wind, but to the water; for the agitation of the waves ( κλύδων ) continues after the hurricane is appeased.

In Mark and Luke, Jesus first of all delivers His disciples from danger, then He speaks to their heart. In Matthew, he first upbraids them, and then stills the storm. This latter course appears less in accordance with the wisdom of the Lord.

But why did the apostles deserve blame for their want of faith? Ought they to have allowed the tempest to follow its course, in the assurance that with Jesus with them they ran no danger, or that in any case He would awake in time? Or did Jesus expect that one of them, by an act of prayer and commanding faith, would still the tempest? It is more natural to suppose that what He blames in them is the state of trouble and agitation in which He finds them on awaking. When faith possesses the heart, its prayer may be passionate and urgent, but it will not be full of trouble. There is nothing surprising, whatever any one may say, in the exclamation attributed to those who witnessed this scene ( Luk 8:25 ): first, because there were other persons there besides the apostles ( Mar 4:36 ); next, because such incidents, even when similar occurrences have been seen before, always appear new; lastly, because this was the first time that the apostle saw their Master contend with the blind forces of nature.

Strauss maintains that this is a pure myth. Keim, in opposition to him, alleges the evident antiquity of the narrative (the sublime majesty of the picture of Jesus, the absence of all ostentation from His words and actions, and the simple expression of wonder on the part of the spectators). The narrative, therefore, must have some foundation in fact, in some natural incident of water-travel, which has been idealized in accordance with such words as Psa 107:23 et seq., and the appeal to Jonah ( Luk 1:4-6 ): “Awake, O sleeper.” There, says criticism, you see how this history was made. We should rather say, how the trick was done.

Verses 26-29

Vers. 26-29. The Encounter.

There are three readings of the name of the inhabitants, and unfortunately they are also found in both the other Syn. Epiphanius mentions the following forms: Γεργεσηνῶν in Mark and Luke (but it is probable that, in the case of the Luke, we should read Γερασηνῶν in this Father); Γαδαρηνῶν in Matthew ( Γεργεσαίων in some manuscripts). It would seem to follow from a passage in Origen ( Ad Joh. t. vi. c. 24) that the most widely-diffused reading in his time was Γερασηνῶν , that Γαδαρηνῶν was only read in a small number of manuscripts, and that Γεργεσηνῶν was only a conjecture of his own. He states that Gerasa is a city of Arabia, and that there is neither sea nor lake near it; that Gadara, a city of Judaea, well known for its warm baths, has neither a deep-lying piece of water with steep banks in its neighbourhood, nor is there any sea; whilst, near the lake of Tiberias, the remains are to be seen of a city called Gergesa, near which there is a precipice overlooking the sea, and at which the place is still shown where the herd of swine cast themselves down. The MSS. are divided between these readings after the most capricious fashion. The great majority of the Mnn. in Matthew read Γερασηνῶν , in Mark and Luke Γεργεσηνῶν . The Latin documents are almost all in favour of Γεργεσηνῶν . Tischendorf (8th edition) reads Γαδαρηνῶν in Matthew, Γερασηνῶν in Mark, Γεργεσηνῶν in Luke. Bleek thinks that the primitive Gospel on which, in his opinion, our three Syn. are based, read Γερασηνῶν , but that, owing to the improbability of this reading, it was changed by certain copyists into Γαδαρηνῶν , and by Origen into Γεργεσηνῶν . Looking simply at the fact, this last name appears to him to agree with it best. In fact, Gerasa was a large city situated at a considerable distance to the south-east, on the borders of Arabia; and the reading Γερασηνῶν can only be admitted by supposing that the district dependent on this city extended as far as to the sea of Galilee, which is inadmissible, although Stephen of Byzantium calls Gerasa a city of Decapolis. Gadara is nearer, being only a few leagues from the south-east end of the sea of Galilee. Josephus calls it the metropolis of the Peraea; Pliny reckons it among the cities of Decapolis. Its suburbs might extend as far as the sea. But it is highly natural to suppose, that these two cities being so well known, the copyists substituted their names for that of Gergesa, which was generally unknown. It is a confirmation of this view, that the existence of a town of this name is attested not only by Origen, Eusebius, and Jerome, but by the recent discovery of ruins bearing the name of Gersa or Khersa, towards the embouchure of the Wady Semakh. The course of the walls is still visible, according to Thompson (p. 375). This traveller also says, that “the sea is so near the foot of the mountain at this spot, that animals having once got fairly on to the incline, could not help rolling down into the water” (p. 377). Wilson ( Athenaeum, 1866, i. p. 438) states that this place answers all the conditions of the Bible narrative. The true reading, therefore, would be Γεργεσηνῶν or Γεργεσαίων . This name, so little known, must have been altered first into Γερασηνῶν , which has some resemblance to it, and then into Γαδαρηνῶν .

On the demoniacs, see Luke 4:33.

The 27th verse gives a description of the demoniac, which is afterwards finished in the 29th. This first description ( Luk 8:27 ) only contains that which presented itself immediately to the observation of an eye-witness of the scene. The second and fuller description ( Luk 8:29 ) is accounted for by the command of Jesus, which, to be intelligible, required a more detailed statement of the state of the possessed. This interruption, which is not found in Mark, reflects very naturally the impression of an eye-witness; it demonstrates the independence of the respective narratives of Matthew and Luke. The plural δαιμόνια ( demons), explained afterwards ( Luk 8:30 ) by the afflicted man himself, refers doubtless to the serious nature and multiplicity of the symptoms melancholy, mania, violence, occasioned by a number of relapses (see on Luk 8:2 and Luk 11:24-26 ). His refusing to wear clothes or remain in a house is connected with that alienation from society which characterizes such states. The Alex. reading: “who for a long while past had worn no clothes,” is evidently an error. The note of time cannot refer to a circumstance altogether so subordinate as that of clothing.

The Levitical uncleanness of the tombs ensured to this man the solitude he sought.

The sight of Jesus appears to have produced an extraordinary impression upon him. The holy, calm, gentle majesty, tender compassion, and conscious sovereignty which were expressed in the aspect of our Lord, awakened in him, by force of contrast, the humbling consciousness of his own state of moral disorder. He felt himself at once attracted and repelled by this man; this led to a violent crisis in him, which revealed itself first of all in a cry. Then, like some ferocious beast submitting to the power of his subduer, he runs and kneels, protesting all the while, in the name of the spirit of which he is still the organ, against the power which is exerted over him. Luke says: προσπίπτειν , not προσκυνεῖν (Mark). The former term does not imply any religious feeling.

On the expression: What have I to do with thee? see on Luke 4:24. The name Jesus is wanting in Matthew, and it looks strange. How did he know this name? Perhaps he had heard Jesus talked of, and instinctively recognised Him. Or perhaps there was a supernatural knowledge appertaining to this extraordinary state. The expression: Son of the most high God, is explained by the prevalence of polytheism in those countries where there was a large heathen population. Josephus calls Gadara a Greek city. We must not infer from this that this man was a heathen.

In his petition, Luke 8:28, the demoniac still identifies himself with the alien spirit which holds him in his power. The torment which he dreads is being sent away into the abyss ( Luk 8:31 ); Matthew adds, before the time. The power of acting on the world, for beings that are alienated from God and move only within the void of their own subjectivity, is a temporary solace to their unrest. To be deprived of this power is for them just what a return to prison is for the captive. If we read παρήγγειλε , we must give this aor. the meaning of a plus-perfect: For He had commanded. But MS. authority is rather in favour of the imperf. παρήγελλεν : “For He was commanding him. ” This tense indicates a continuous action, which does not immediately produce its effect. The demon's cry of distress, Torment me not, is called forth by the strong and continued pressure which the command of Jesus put upon him. This imperf. corresponds with Mark's ἔλεγε γάρ . We find in these two analogous forms the common type of the traditional narration.

The for, which follows, explains this imperfect. The evil did not yield instantly, because it had taken too deep root. Συνηρπάκει , it kept him in its possession. Πολλοῖς χρόνοις may signify for a long time past or oftentimes. With the second sense, there would be an allusion to a series of relapses, each of which had aggravated the evil.

Verses 26-39

10. The Healing of the Demoniac: Luke 8:26-39.

This portion brings before us a storm no less difficult to still, and a yet more striking victory. Luke and Mark mention only one demoniac; Matthew speaks of two. The hypothesis of a common written source here encounters a difficulty which is very hard for it to surmount. But criticism has expedients to meet all cases: according to Holtzmann, Matthew, who had omitted the healing of the demoniac at Capernaum, here repairs this omission, “by grouping the possessed who had been neglected along with this new case” (p. 255). This is a sample of what is called at the present day critical sagacity. As if the evangelists had no faith themselves in what they wrote with a view to win the faith of others! Why should it be deemed impossible for the two maniacs to have lived together, and for the healing of only one of the two to have presented the striking features mentioned in the following narrative? However it was, we have here a proof of the independence of Matthew's narratives on the one hand, and of those of Mark and Luke on the other.

Verses 30-33

Vers. 30-33. The Cure.

To this prayer, in which the victim became involuntarily the advocate of his tormentor, Jesus replies by putting a question: He asks the afflicted man his name. For what purpose? There is nothing so suitable as a calm and simple question to bring a madman to himself. Above all, there is no more natural way of awakening in a man who is beside himself the consciousness of his own personality, than to make him tell his own name. A man's name becomes the expression of his character, and a summary of the history of his life. Now, the first condition of any cure of this afflicted man was a return to the distinct feeling of his own personality.

There was at this time a word which, more than any other, called up the idea of the resistless might of the conqueror under whom Israel was then suffering oppression. This was the word Legion. The sound of this word called up the thought of those victorious armies before which the whole world bowed down. So it is by this term that this afflicted man describes the power which oppresses him, and with which he still confounds himself. The expression, many demons, is explained by the multiplicity and diversity of the symptoms ( Luk 8:29 ).

To this answer the demoniac adds, in the name of his tyrant, a fresh request. The demon understands that he must release his prey; but he does not want to enter forthwith into a condition in which contact with terrestrial realities would be no longer possible to him.

In Mark there is here found the strange expression: “not to send them out of the country,” which may mean, to the desert, where unclean but not captive spirits were thought to dwell, or into the abyss, whence they went forth to find a temporary abode upon the earth. The sequel shows that the second meaning must be preferred. Jesus makes no answer to this request. His silence is ordinarily regarded as signifying consent. But the silence of Jesus simply means that He insists on the command which He has just given. When He wishes to reply in the affirmative, as, for instance, at the end of Luke 8:32, he does so distinctly. This explanation is confirmed by Matthew, “ If thou cast us out...” Their request to enter into the swine only refers, therefore, to the way by which they were suffered to go into the abyss. What is the explanation of this request, and of the permission which Jesus accorded to it? As to these evil spirits, we can understand that it might be pleasant to them, before losing all power of action, to find one more opportunity of doing an injury. Jesus, on his part, has in view a twofold result. The Jewish exorcists, in order to assure their patients that they were cured, were accustomed to set a pitcher of water or some other object in the apartment where the expulsion took place, which the demon took care to upset in going out. What they were accustomed to do as charlatans, Jesus sees it good to do as a physician. The identification of the sick man with his demon had been a long-existing fact of consciousness (Luke 8:27; Luk 8:29 ). A decisive sign of the reality of the departure of the evil power was needed to give the possessed perfect assurance of his deliverance. Besides this reason, there was probably another. The theocratic feeling of Jesus had been wounded by the sight of these immense herds of animals which the law declared unclean. Such an occupation as this showed how completely the line of demarcation between Judaism and paganism was obliterated in this country. Jesus desired, by a sensible judgment, to reclaim the people, and prevent their being still more unjudaized.

The influence exerted by the demons on the herd was in no sense a possession. None but a moral being can be morally possessed. But we know that several species of animals are accessible to collective influences, that swine, in particular, readily yield to panics of terror. The idea that it was the demoniac himself who frightened them, by throwing himself into the herd, is incompatible with the text.

Mark, whose narrative is always distinguished by the exactness of its details, says that the number of the swine was about two thousand. An item of his own invention, says De Wette; an appendix of later tradition, according to Bleek: here we see the necessary consequence of the critical system, according to which Mark is supposed to have made use of the text of the other two, or of a document common to them all.

The number 2000 cannot serve to prove the individual possession of the swine by the demons ( legion, Luk 8:30 ), for a legion comprised 4000 men.

The question has been asked, Had Jesus the right to dispose in this way of other people's property? One might as well ask whether Peter had the right to dispose of the lives of Ananias and Sapphira! It is one of those cases in which the power, by its very nature, guarantees the right.

Verses 34-39

Vers. 34-39. The Effect produced.

First, on the people of the country; next, on the afflicted man. The owners of the herd dwelt in the city and neighbourhood. They came to convince themselves with their own eyes of the loss of which they had been informed by the herdsmen. On reaching the spot, they beheld a sight which impressed them deeply. The demoniac was known all through the country, and was an object of universal terror. They found him calm and restored. So great a miracle could not fail to reveal to them the power of God, and awaken their conscience. Their fears were confirmed by the account given them of the scene which had just occurred by persons who were with Jesus, and had witnessed it ( οἱ ἰδόντες , Luk 8:36 ). These persons were not the herdsmen; for the cure was wrought at a considerable distance from the place where the herd was feeding ( Mat 8:30 ). They were the apostles and the people who had passed over the sea with them ( Mar 4:36 ). The καί , also, is undoubtedly authentic; the latter account was supplementary to that of the herdsmen, which referred principally to the loss of the herd.

The fear of the inhabitants was doubtless of a superstitious nature. But Jesus did not wish to force Himself upon them, for it was still the season of grace, and grace limits itself to making its offers. He yielded to the request of the inhabitants, who, regarding Him as a judge, dreaded further and still more terrible chastisement at His hand. He consents, therefore, to depart from them, but not without leaving them a witness of His grace in the person of him who had become a living monument of it. The restored man, who feels his moral existence linked as it were to the person of Jesus, begs to be permitted to accompany Him. Jesus was already in the ship, Mark tells us. He does not consent to this entreaty. In Galilee, where it was necessary to guard against increasing the popular excitement, He forbade those He healed publishing abroad their cure. But in this remote country, so rarely visited by Him, and which He was obliged to leave so abruptly, He needed a missionary to testify to the greatness of the Messianic work which God was at this time accomplishing for His people. There is a fine contrast between the expression of Jesus: “What God hath done for thee,” and that of the man: “What Jesus had done for him” Jesus refers all to God; but the afflicted man could not forget the instrument. The whole of the latter part of the narrative is omitted in Matthew. Mark indicates the field of labour of this new apostle as comprising not his own city merely, but the whole of the Decapolis.

Volkmar applies here his system of allegorical interpretation. This incident is nothing, according to him, but the symbolical representation of the work of Paul amongst the Gentiles. The demoniac represents the heathen world; the chains with which they tried to bind him are legislative enactments, such as those of Lycurgus and Solon; the swine, the obscenities of idolatry; the refusal of Jesus to yield to the desire of the restored demoniac, when he wished to accompany Him, the obstacles which Jewish-Christians put in the way of the entrance of the converted heathen into the Church; the request that Jesus would withdraw, the irritation caused in heathen countries by the success of Paul (the riot at Ephesus, ex. gr.). Keim is opposed to this unlimited allegorizing, which borders, indeed, on absurdity. He very properly objects, that the demoniac is not even (as is the case with the Canaanitish woman) spoken of as a heathen; that the precise locality, so little known, to which the incident is referred, is a proof of its historical reality; that the request to Jesus to leave the country is a fact without any corresponding example, which does not look like imitation, but has the very features of truth. In short, he only objects to the episode of the swine, which appears to him to be a legendary amplification. But is it likely that the preachers of the gospel would have admitted into their teaching an incident so remarkable, if it could be contradicted by the population of a whole district, which is distinctly pointed out? If possession is only, as Keim thinks, an ordinary malady, this conclusion is certainly inevitable. But if there is any degree of reality attaching to the mysterious notion of possession, it would be difficult to determine à priori what might not result from such a state. The picture forms a whole, in which each incident implies all the rest. The request made to Jesus to leave the country, in which Keim acknowledges a proof of authenticity, is only explained by the loss of the swine. Keim admits too much or too little. Either Volkmar and his absurdities, or the frank acceptance of the narrative, this is the only alternative (comp. Heer's fine work, already referred to, Kirchenfreund, Nos. 10 and 11, 1870).

Verses 40-42

Vers. 40-42. The Request.

The term ἀποδέχεσθαι indicates a warm welcome.

Mark and Luke mention the age of the young girl, which Matthew omits.

The circumstance of her being an only daughter, added by Luke, more fully explains the father's distress. Criticism, of course, does not fail to draw its own conclusions from the same circumstance being found already in Luke 7:12. As if an only son and an only daughter could not both be found in Israel! According to Mark and Luke, the young girl was dying; in Matthew, she is already dead. This evangelist tells the story here, as elsewhere, in a summary manner; he combines in a single message the arrival of the father, and the subsequent arrival of the messenger announcing her death. The process is precisely similar to that already noticed in the account of the healing of the centurion's servant. Matthew is interested simply in the fact of the miracle and the word of Jesus.

Verses 40-56

11. The Raising of Jairus' Daughter: Luke 8:40-56.

In Mark and Luke, the following incident follows immediately on the return from the Decapolis. According to Luke, the multitude which He had left behind Him when He went away had not dispersed; they were expecting Him, and received Him on His landing. According to Mark, it collected together again as soon as His arrival was known. In Matthew, two facts are interposed between His arrival and the resurrection of Jairus' daughter the healing of the paralytic of Capernaum, and the calling of the Apostle Matthew. As the publican's house was probably situated near the port, the second of these facts might certainly have happened immediately on His landing; but, in any case, the feast given by the publican could not have taken place until the evening, and after what occurred in the house of Jairus. But the same supposition will not apply to the healing of the paralytic, which must be assigned to quite another time, as is the case with Mark and Luke.

Verses 43-48

Vers. 43-48. The Interruption.

The preposition πρός , in προσαναλώσασα , expresses the fact that, in addition to these long sufferings, she now found herself destitute of resources. Mark expresses with a little more force the injury which the physicians had done her. Hitzig and Holtzmann maintain that Luke, being a physician himself, intentionally tones down these details from the proto-Mark. We find nothing here but Mark's characteristic amplification.

The malady from which this woman suffered rendered her Levitically unclean; it was even, according to the law, a sufficient justification for a divorce (Leviticus 15:25; Deu 24:1 ). Hence, no doubt, her desire to get cured as it were by stealth, without being obliged to make a public avowal of her disorder. The faith which actuated her was not altogether free from superstition, for she conceived of the miraculous power of Jesus as acting in a purely physical manner. The word κράσπεδον , which we translate by the hem (of the garment), denotes one of the four tassels or tufts of scarlet woollen cord attached to the four corners of the outer robe, which were intended to remind the Israelites of their law. Their name was zitzit ( Num 15:38 ). As this robe, which was of a rectangular form, was worn like a woman's shawl, two of the corners being allowed to hang down close together on the back, we see the force of the expression came behind. Had it been, as is ordinarily understood, the lower hem of the garment which she attempted to touch, she could not have succeeded, on account of the crowd which surrounded Jesus. This word κράσπεδον , according to Passow, comes from κέρας and πέδον , the forward part of a plain; or better, according to Schleusner, from κεκραμένον εἰς πέδον , that which hangs down towards the ground.

Both Mark and Luke date the cure from the moment that she touched. Matthew speaks of it as taking place a little later, and as the effect of Jesus' word. But this difference belongs, as we shall see, to Matthew's omission of the following details, and not to any difference of view as to the efficient cause of the cure.

The difficulty about this miracle is, that it seems to have been wrought outside the consciousness and will of Jesus, and thus appears to be of a magical character.

In each of Jesus' miracles there are, as it were, two poles: the receptivity of the person who is the subject of it, and the activity of Him by whom it is wrought. The maximum of action in one of these factors may correspond with the minimum of action in the other. In the case of the impotent man at the pool of Bethesda, in whom it was necessary to excite even the desire to be cured, as well as in the raising of the dead, the human receptivity was reduced to its minimum. The activity of the Lord in these cases reached its highest degree of initiation and intensity. In the present instance it is the reverse. The receptivity of the woman reaches such a degree of energy, that it snatches, as it were, the cure from Jesus. The action of Jesus is here confined to that willingness to bless and save which always animated Him in His relations with men.

He did not, however, remain unconscious of the virtue which He had just put forth; but He perceives that there is a tincture of superstition in the faith which had acted in this way towards Him; and, as Riggenbach admirably shows ( Leben Jesu, p. 442), His design in what follows is to purify this incipient faith. But in order to do this, it is necessary to discover the author of the deed. There is no reason for not attributing to Jesus the ignorance implied in the question, “Who touched me?” Anything like feigning ignorance ill comports with the candour of His character.

Peter shows his usual forwardness, and ventures to remonstrate with Jesus. But, so far from this detail implying any ill-will towards this apostle, Luke attributes the same fault to the other apostles, and equally without any sinister design, since Mark does the same thing ( Luk 8:31 ). Jesus does not stop to rebuke His disciple; He pursues His inquiry; only He now substitutes the assertion, Somebody hath touched me, for the question, Who touched me? Further, He no longer lays stress upon the person, but upon the act, in reply to the observation of Peter, which tended to deny it. The verb ἅψασθαι , to feel about, denotes a voluntary, deliberate touch, and not merely an accidental contact. Mark adds that, while putting this question, He cast around Him a scrutinizing glance. The reading ἐξεληλυθυῖαν (Alex.) signifies properly: “I feel myself in the condition of a man from whom a force has been withdrawn.” This is somewhat artificial. The received reading, ἐξελθοῦσαν , merely denotes the outgoing of a miraculous power, which is more simple. Jesus had been inwardly apprised of the influence which He had just exerted.

The joy of success gives the woman courage to acknowledge both her act and her malady; but the words, before all the people, are designed to show how much this avowal cost her. Luke says trembling, to which Mark adds fearing; she feels afraid of having sinned against the Lord by acting without His knowledge. He reassures her ( Luk 8:48 ), and confirms her in the possession of the blessing which she had in some measure taken by stealth. This last incident is also brought out by Mark (ver. 34). The intention of Jesus, in the inquiry He had just instituted, appears more especially in the words, Thy faith hath saved thee; thy faith, and not, as thou wast thinking, the material touch. Jesus thus assigns to the moral sphere (in Luke and Mark as well as in Matthew) the virtue which she referred solely to the physical sphere. The word θάρσει , take courage, which is wanting in several Alex., is probably taken from Matthew. The term saved implies more than the healing of the body. Her recovered health is a link which henceforth will attach her to Jesus as the personification of salvation; and this link is to her the beginning of salvation in the full sense of the term.

The words in Matthew, “And the woman was healed from that same hour,” refer to the time occupied by the incident, taken altogether.

Eusebius says ( H. E. 7.18, ed. Loemmer) that this woman was a heathen and dwelt at Paneas, near the source of the Jordan, and that in his time her house was still shown, having at its entrance two brass statues on a stone pedestal. One represented a woman on her knees, with her hands held out before her, in the attitude of a suppliant; the other, a man standing with his cloak thrown over his shoulder, and his hand extended towards the woman. Eusebius had been into the house himself, and had seen this statue, which represented, it was said, the features of Jesus.

Verses 49-56

Vers. 49-56. The Prayer granted.

We may imagine how painful this delay had been for the father of the child. The message, which just at this moment is brought to him, reduces him to despair. Matthew, in his very summary account, omits all these features of the story; and interpreters, like De Wette, who maintain that this Gospel was the source of the other two, are obliged to regard the details in Mark and Luke as just so many embellishments of their own invention! The present πίστευε , in the received reading, signifies: “Only persevere, without fainting, in the faith which thou hast shown thus far.” Some Alex. read the aor. πιστεῦσον : “Only exercise faith! Make a new effort in view of the unexpected difficulty which has arisen.” This second meaning seems to agree better with the position of μόνον , only, before the verb. Perhaps the other reading is taken from Mark, where all the authorities read πίστευε .

The reading of the T. R., εἰσελθών , having entered, Luke 8:51, is not nearly so well supported as the reading ἐλθών , having come. But with either reading there is a distinction observed between the arrival ( ἐλθών ) or entrance ( εἰσελθών ) into the house and the entrance into the chamber of the sick girl, to which the εἰσελθεῖν which follows refers: “He suffered no man to go in. ” What obliges us to give this sense to this infinitive, is the mention of the mother amongst the persons excepted from the prohibition; for if here also entrance into the house was in question, this would suppose that the mother had left it, which is scarcely probable, when her daughter had only just expired. Jesus' object in only admitting just the indispensable witnesses into the room, was to diminish as far as possible the fame of the work He was about to perform. As to the three apostles, it was necessary that they should be present, in order that they might be able afterwards to testify to what was done.

Verses 52-56

The following scene, Luke 8:52-53, took place at the entrance of the sick chamber. The πάντες , all, are the servants, neighbours, relations, and professional mourners ( αὐληταί , Matthew) assembled in the vestibule, who also wanted to make their way into the chamber. Olshausen, Neander, and others infer from Jesus' words, that the child was simply in a lethargy; but this explanation is incompatible with the expression εἰδότες , knowing well, Luke 8:53. If this had been the idea of the writer, he would have employed the word δοκοῦντες , believing that...On the rest of the verse, see Luke 7:14. By the words, “ She is not dead, but sleepeth,” Jesus means that, in the order of things over which He presides, death is death no longer, but assumes the character of a temporary slumber (John 11:11, explained by Luk 8:14 ). Baur maintains that Luke means, Luke 8:53, that the apostles also joined in the laugh against Jesus, and that it is with this in view that the evangelist has chosen the general term all (Luke 8:52; Evang. p. 458). In this case it would be necessary to include amongst the πάντες the father and mother!!

The words, having put them all out, in the T. R., are a gloss derived from Mark and Matthew. It has arisen in this way: Mark expressly mentions two separate dismissals, one of the crowd and nine apostles at the entrance of the house, and another of the people belonging to the house not admitted into the chamber of the dead ( Luk 8:40 ). As in Luke the word enter ( Luk 8:51 ) had been wrongly referred to the first of these acts, it was thought necessary to mention here the second, at first in the margin, and afterwards in the text, in accordance with the parallel passages.

The command to give the child something to eat ( Luk 8:55 ) is related by Luke alone. It shows the perfect calmness of the Lord when performing the most wonderful work. He acts like a physician who has just felt the pulse of his patient, and gives instructions respecting his diet for the day.

Mark, who is fond of local colouring, has preserved the Aramaean form of the words of Jesus, also the graphic detail, immediately the child began to walk about. In these features of the narrative we recognise the account of an eye-witness, in whose ear the voice of Jesus still sounds, and who still sees the child that had been brought to life again moving about. Matthew omits all details. The fact itself simply is all that has any bearing on the Messianic demonstration, which is his object. Thus each follows his own path while presenting the common substratum of fact as tradition had preserved it. On the prohibition of Jesus, Luke 8:56, see on Luk 5:14 and Luke 8:39.

According to Volkmar, the woman with an issue would be only the personification of the believing Jews, in whom their rabbis (the physicians of Luk 8:43 ) had been unable to effect a moral cure, but whom Jesus will save after having healed the heathen (the return from Gadara); and the daughter of Jairus represents the dead Judaism of the synagogue, which the gospel alone can restore to life. Keim acknowledges the insufficiency of symbolism to explain such narratives. He admits the cure of the woman as a fact, but maintains that she herself, by her faith, was the sole contributor towards it. In the resurrection of the daughter of Jairus, he sees either a myth, modelled after the type of the resurrection of the Shunammite widow's son by Elisha (a return to Strauss), or a natural awaking from a lethargy (a return to Paulus). But is not the local colouring quite as decided in this narrative as in that of the possessed of Gadara, of which Keim on this ground maintains the historical truth? And as to an awakening from a lethargy, what has he to reply to Zeller? (See p. 342, note.)

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Godet, Frédéric Louis. "Commentary on Luke 8". "Godet's Commentary on Selected Books". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/gsc/luke-8.html.