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1 st. Luke 9:1-2. The Mission.
There is something greater than preaching this is to make preachers; there is something greater than performing miracles this is to impart the power to perform them. It is this new stage which the work of Jesus here reaches. He labours to raise His apostles up to His own level. The expression συγκαλεσάμενος , having called together, indicates a solemn meeting; it expresses more than the term προσκαλεῖσθαι , to call to Him, used in Mark and Matthew. What would Baur have said if the first expression had been found in Matthew and the second in Luke, when throughout Luke's narrative as it is he sees an intention to depreciate this scene in comparison with that which follows, Luk 10:1 et seq.?
In Jewish estimation, the most divine form of power is that of working miracles. It is with this, therefore, that Jesus begins: δύναμις , the power of execution; ἐξουσία , the authority which is the foundation of it; the demons will therefore owe them obedience, and will not fail, in fact, to render it. These two terms are opposed to the anxious and laboured practices of the exorcists. Πάντα : all the different maladies coming under this head melancholy, violence, mania, etc.... Θεραπεύειν , to heal, depends neither on δύναμις nor ἐξουσία , but on ἔδωκεν , He gave them; there is no ἐξουσία in regard to diseases.
Such will be their power, their weapon. But these cures are not the end; they are only the means designed to lend support to their message. The end is indicated in Luke 9:2. This is to proclaim throughout Galilee the coming of the kingdom of God, and at the same time to make the people feel the grave importance of the present time. It is a return to the ministry of John the Baptist, and of our Lord's at its commencement ( Mar 1:15 ). This undertaking was within the power of the Twelve. “ To preach and to heal ” means “ to preach while healing. ” Only imagine the messengers of the Lord at the present day traversing our country with the announcement of His second coming being at hand, and confirming their message by miracles. What a sensation such a mission would produce!
According to Mark, the Lord sent them two and two, which recalls their distribution into pairs, Luke 6:13-15; Matthew 10:2-4.
THIRD PART: THE MINISTRY OF JESUS IN GALILEE, Luk 4:14 to Luke 9:50 .
The three Synoptics all connect the narrative of the Galilaean ministry with the account of the temptation. But the narrations of Matthew and Mark have this peculiarity, that, according to them, the motive for the return of Jesus to Galilee must have been the imprisonment of John the Baptist: “Now when Jesus had heard that John was cast into prison, He departed into Galilee” ( Mat 4:12 ); “Now, after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee” ( Mar 1:14 ). As the temptation does not appear to have been coincident with the apprehension of John, the question arises, Where did Jesus spend the more or less lengthened time that intervened between these two events, and what was He doing during the interval? This is the first difficulty. There is another: How could the apprehension of John the Baptist have induced Jesus to return to Galilee, to the dominions of this very Herod who was keeping John in prison? Luke throws no light whatever on these two questions which arise out of the narrative of the Syn., because he makes no mention in this place of the imprisonment of John, but simply connects the commencement of the ministry of Jesus with the victory He had just achieved in the desert. It is John who gives the solution of these difficulties. According to him, there were two returns of Jesus to Galilee, which his narrative distinguishes with the greatest care. The first took place immediately after the baptism and the temptation ( Luk 1:44 ). It was then that He called some young Galilaeans to follow Him who were attached to the forerunner, and shared his expectation of the Messiah. The second is related in chap. Luke 4:1; John connects it with the Pharisees jealousy of John the Baptist, which explains the account of the first two Syn. It appears, in fact, according to him, that some of the Pharisees were party to the blow which had struck John, and therefore we can well understand that Jesus would be more distrustful of them than even of Herod. That the Pharisees had a hand in John's imprisonment, is confirmed by the expression delivered, which Matthew and Mark employ. It was they who had caused him to be seized and delivered up to Herod.
The two returns mentioned by John were separated by quite a number of events: the transfer of Jesus' place of residence from Nazareth to Capernaum; His first journey to Jerusalem to attend the Passover; the interview with Nicodemus; and a period of prolonged activity in Judaea, simultaneous with that of John the Baptist, who was still enjoying his liberty ( Joh 2:12 to Joh 4:43 ). The second return to Galilee, which terminated this long ministry in Judaea, did not take place, according to Luke 4:35, until the month of December in this same year, so that at least twelve months elapsed between it and the former. The Syn., relating only a single return, must have blended the two into one. Only there is this difference between them, that in Matthew and Mark it is rather the idea of the second which seems to predominate, since they connect it with John's imprisonment; whilst Luke brings out more the idea of the first, for he associates it with the temptation exclusively. The mingling of these two analogous facts really, however, separated by almost a year must have taken place previously in the oral tradition, since it passed, though not without some variations, into our three Synoptics. The narrative of John was expressly designed to re-establish this lost distinction (comp. John 2:11; John 3:24; Joh 4:54 ). In this way in the Syn. the interval between these two returns to Galilee disappeared, and the two residences in Galilee, which were separated from each other by this ministry in Judaea, form in them one continuous whole. Further, it is difficult to determine in which of the two to place the several facts which the Syn. relate at the commencement of the Galilaean ministry.
We must not forget that the apostolic preaching, and the popular teaching given in the churches, were directed not by any historical interest, but with a view to the foundation and confirmation of faith. Facts of a similar nature were therefore grouped together in this teaching until they became completely inseparable. We shall see, in the same way, the different journeys to Jerusalem, fused by tradition into a single pilgrimage, placed at the end of Jesus' ministry. Thus the great contrast which prevails in the synoptical narrative between Galilee and Jerusalem is explained. It was only when John, not depending on tradition, but drawing from his own personal recollections, restored to this history its various phases and natural connections, that the complete picture of the ministry of Jesus appeared before the eyes of the Church.
But why did not Jesus commence His activity in Galilee, as, according to the Syn., He would seem to have done? The answer to this question is to be found in John 4:43-45. In that country, where He spent His youth, Jesus would necessarily expect to meet, more than anywhere else, with certain prejudices opposed to the recognition of His Messianic dignity. “A prophet hath no honour in his own country ” ( Joh 4:44 ). This is why He would not undertake His work among His Galilaean fellow-countrymen until after He had achieved some success elsewhere. The reputation which preceded His return would serve to prepare His way amongst them ( Joh 4:45 ). He had therefore Galilee in view even during this early activity in Judaea. He foresaw that this province would be the cradle of His Church; for the yoke of pharisaical and sacerdotal despotism did not press so heavily on it as on the capital and its neighbourhood. The chords of human feeling, paralyzed in Judaea by false devotion, still vibrated in the hearts of these mountaineers to frank and stirring appeals, and their ignorance appeared to Him a medium more easily penetrable by light from above than the perverted enlightenment of rabbinical science. Comp. the remarkable passage, Luke 10:21.
It is not easy to make out the plan of this part, for it describes a continuous progress without any marked breaks it is a picture of the inward and outward progress of the work of Jesus in Galilee. Ritschl is of opinion that the progress of the story is determined by the growing hostility of the adversaries of Jesus; and accordingly he adopts this division: Luk 4:16 to Luke 6:11, absence of conflict; Luk 6:12 to Luke 11:54, the hostile attitude assumed by the two adversaries towards each other. But, 1 st, the first symptoms of hostility break out before Luke 6:12; Luke 2:0 d, the passage Luke 9:51, which is passed over by the division of Ritschl, is evidently, in the view of the author, one of the principal connecting links in the narrative; 3 d, the growing hatred of the adversaries of Jesus is only an accident of His work, and in no way the governing motive of its development. It is not there, therefore, that we must seek the principle of the division. The author appears to us to have marked out a route for himself by a series of facts, in which there is a gradation easily perceived. At first Jesus preaches without any following of regular disciples; soon He calls about Him some of the most attentive of His hearers, to make them His permanent disciples; after a certain time, when these disciples had become very numerous, He raises twelve of them to the rank of apostles; lastly, He entrusts these twelve with their first mission, and makes them His evangelists. This gradation in the position of His helpers naturally corresponds, 1 st, with the internal progress of His teaching; 2 d, with the local extension of His work; 3 d, with the increasing hostility of the Jews, with whom Jesus breaks more and more, in proportion as He gives organic form to His own work. It therefore furnishes a measure of the entire movement.
We are guided by it to the following division:
First Cycle, Luke 4:14-44, extending to the call of the first disciples.
Second Cycle, Luk 5:1 to Luke 6:11, to the nomination of the twelve.
Third Cycle, Luk 6:12 to Luke 8:56, to their first mission.
Fourth Cycle, Luke 9:1-50, to the departure of Jesus for Jerusalem.
At this point the work of Jesus in Galilee comes to an end; He bids adieu to this field of labour, and, setting His face towards Jerusalem, He carries with Him into Judaea the result of His previous labours, His Galilaean Church.
2 d. Luke 9:3-5. Their Instructions. “ And He said unto them, Take nothing for your journey, neither staves, nor scrip, neither bread, neither money; neither have two coats apiece. 4. And whatsoever house ye enter into, there abide and thence depart. 5. And whosoever will not receive you, when ye go out of that city, shake off the very dust from your feet for a testimony against them. ”
Ver. 3 contains instructions for their setting out; Luke 9:4, instructions respecting their arrival and stay; Luke 9:5, instructions for leaving each place.
Ver. 3. The feeling of confidence is the key to the injunctions of this verse: “Make no preparations, such as are ordinarily made on the eve of a journey; set out just as you are. God will provide for all your wants.” The reply of the apostles, Luke 22:35, proves that this promise was not unfulfilled. Μηδέν , nothing, is a general negative, to which the subsequent μήτε , neither...nor...are subordinate. Mark, who commences with a simple μή , naturally continues with the negative μηδέ , nor further. Each writer, though expressing the same idea as the other, has his own particular way of doing it. Luke says, neither staff, or, according to another reading, neither staves; Matthew is like Luke; Mark, on the contrary, save one staff only. The contradiction in terms could not be greater, yet the agreement in idea is perfect. For as far as the sentiment is concerned which Jesus wishes to express, it is all one to say, “nothing, not even a staff” (Matthew and Luke), or, “nothing, except it be simply (or at most) a staff” (Mark). Ebrard makes the acute observation, that in Aramaean Jesus probably said, כִּי אִםמַטֶּה , for if...a staff, an elliptical form also much used in Hebrew, and which may be filled up in two ways: For if you take a staff, this of itself is quite sufficient (Mark); or, this of itself is too much (Matthew and Luke). This saying of Jesus might therefore be reproduced in Greek either in one way or the other. But in no case could these two opposite forms be explained on the hypothesis of a common written Greek source. Bleek, who prefers the expression given in Matthew and Luke, does not even attempt to explain how that in Mark could have originated.
If we read staves, according to a various reading found in Luke and Matthew, the plural must naturally be applied to the two apostles travelling together.
Luke says, Do not have each ( ἀνά , distributive) two coats, that is to say, each a change of coat, beyond what you wear. As they were not to have a travelling cloak ( πήρα ), they must have worn the second coat on their person; and it is this idea, implied by Luke, that is exactly expressed by Mark, “ neither put on two coats. ” The infinitive μὴ ἔχειν depends on εἶπε : “He said to them...not to have...”
As an unanswerable proof of an opposite tendency in Matthew and Luke, it is usual to cite the omission in this passage of the prohibition with which in Matthew this discourse commences ( Luk 10:5 ): “ Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not: but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. ” But even in Matthew this prohibition is not absolute ( rather) nor permanent (Matthew 28:19, “Go and teach all nations ”). It was therefore a restriction temporarily imposed upon the disciples, in consideration of the privilege accorded to the Jewish nation of being the cradle of the work of the Messiah. With some exceptions, for which there were urgent reasons, Jesus Himself was generally governed by this rule. He says, indeed, in reference to His earthly ministry: “ I am not sent save to the lost sheep of the house of Israel ” ( Mat 15:24 ); nevertheless, He is not ignorant that it is His mission to seek and to save all that which is lost, and consequently the heathen. He affirms it in the Gospels of Matthew and Mark, no less than in that of Luke. Paul himself does homage to this divine fidelity, when he recalls the fact that Jesus, during His earthly life, consented to become a minister of the circumcision ( Rom 15:8 ). But, 1. What reason could Luke have, in the circle for which he was writing, to refer to this restriction temporarily imposed upon the Twelve for the purpose of this particular mission? 2. Mark, no less than Luke, omits these words in the account he gives of this discourse, but the harmony of his leaning with that of the first evangelist is not suspected. 3. This last circumstance makes it all but certain that this detail had already been omitted in the sources whence these two evangelists drew their narratives, and must completely exculpate Luke from all anti-Jewish prejudice in his reproduction of this discourse.
Ver. 4. On their arrival at a city, they were to settle down in the first house to which they obtained access ( εἰς ἣν ἄν , into whatever house), which, however, was not to exclude prudence and well-ascertained information (Matthew); and, once settled in a house, they were to keep to it, and try to make it the centre of a divine work in that place. To accept the hospitality of several families in succession would be the means of creating rivalry. It would therefore be from this house also, which was the first to welcome them, that they would have to set out on leaving the place: “till ye go thence. ” The reading of the Vulg.: “Go not out of this house,” is an erroneous correction. In the primitive churches, Christian work was concentrated in certain houses, which continued to be centres of operation (comp. the expression in Paul's epistles, “ The church which is in his house ”).
Ver. 5. The gospel does not force itself upon men; it is an elastic power, penetrating wherever it finds access, and retiring wherever it is repulsed. This was Jesus' own mode of acting all through His ministry (Luke 8:37; Joh 3:22 ).
The Jews were accustomed, on their return from heathen countries to the Holy Land, to shake off the dust from their feet at the frontier. This act symbolized a breaking away from all joint-participation in the life of the idolatrous world. The apostles were to act in the same way in reference to any Jewish cities which might reject in their person the kingdom of God. Καί , even the dust. By this symbolical act they relieved themselves of the burden of all further responsibility on account of the people of that city.
The expression, for a testimony, with the complement ἐπ᾿ αὐτούς , upon them, has evidently reference to the judgment to come; in Mark, the complement αὐτοῖς , for them, makes the testimony an immediate appeal to their guilty consciences.
3 d. Luke 9:6. The Result. Διά , in διήρχοντο ( they went through), has for its complement the country in general, and denotes the extent of their mission. Κατά , which is distributive, expresses the accomplishment of it in detail: “staying in every little town.”
Only Mark makes mention here of the use of oil in healing the sick, a remarkable circumstance, with which the precept, James 5:14, is probably connected. In Matthew, the discourse absorbs the attention of the historian to such a degree, that he does not say a word, at the end of chap. 10, about the execution of their mission.
This short address, giving the Twelve their instructions, is only the preamble in Matthew (chap. 10) to a much more extended discourse, in which Jesus addresses the apostles respecting their future ministry in general. Under the influence of his fixed idea, Baur maintains that Luke purposely abridged the discourse in Matthew, in order to diminish the importance of the mission of the Twelve, and bring out in bolder relief that of the seventy disciples (Luke 10:0) “We see,” he says, “that every word here, so to speak, is too much for the evangelist” ( Evangel. p. 435). But, 1. If Luke had been animated by the jealous feeling which this criticism imputes to him, and so had allowed himself to tamper with the history, would he have put the election of the Twelve (chap. 6), as distinct from their first mission, into such prominence, when Matthew appears to confound these two events ( Luk 10:1-4 )? Would he mention so expressly the success of their mission, as he does, Luke 9:6, while Matthew himself preserves complete silence upon this point? It is fortunate for Luke that their respective parts were not changed, as they might have been, and very innocently, so far as he is concerned. He would have had to pay smartly for his omission in the hands of such critics! 2. Mark ( Mar 6:8-10 ) gives this discourse in exactly the same form as Luke, and not at all after Matthew's manner; he, however, is not suspected of any antipathy to the Twelve. It follows from this, that Mark and Luke have simply given the discourse as they found it, either in a common document (the primitive Mark, according to Holtzmann), or in documents of a very similar character, to which they had access. There is sufficient proof, from a comparison of Luk 9:6 in Luke with Luk 9:13 in Mark, that of these two suppositions the latter must be preferred. 3. We may add, lastly, that in the discourse on the apostolate (Matthew 10:0) it is easy to recognise the same characteristics already observed in the Sermon on the Mount. It is a composition of a didactic nature on a definite subject, in which fragments of very different discourses, speaking chronologically, are collected into a single discourse. “The instructions it contains,” Holtzmann rightly observes (p. 183), “go far beyond the actual situation, and imply a much more advanced state of things....” Bleek, Ewald, and Hilgenfeld also recognise the more evident indications of anticipation. We find the true place for the greater part of the passages grouped together in Matthew, under the heading, general instructions on the apostolate, in Luke 12:21.
For all these reasons, we regard the accusation brought against Luke respecting this discourse as scientifically untenable.
4 th. Luke 9:7-9. The Fears of Herod.
This passage in Matthew (ch. 14) is separated by several chapters from the preceding narrative; but it is connected with it both chronologically and morally by Luke and Mark ( Mar 6:14 et seq.). It was, in fact, the stir created by this mission of the Twelve which brought the fame of Jesus to Herod's ears (“ for His name was spread abroad,” Mar 6:14 ).
The idea of this prince, which Luke mentions, that Jesus might be John risen from the dead, is the only indication which is to be found in this evangelist of the murder of the forerunner. But for the existence of this short passage in Luke, it would have been laid down as a critical axiom, that Luke was ignorant of the murder of John the Baptist! The saying, Elias or one of the old prophets, meant a great deal nothing less, in the language of that time, than the Messiah is at hand (Matthew 16:14; Joh 1:21 et seq.).
In Matthew and Mark, the supposition that Jesus is none other than the forerunner risen from the dead proceeds from Herod himself. In Luke this apprehension is suggested to him by popular rumour, which is certainly more natural. The repetition of ἐγώ , I, is, as Meyer says, the echo of an alarmed conscience.
The remarkable detail, which Luke alone has preserved, that Herod sought to have a private interview with Jesus, indicates an original source of information closely connected with this king. Perhaps it reached Luke, or the author of the document of which he availed himself, by means of some one of those persons whom Luke describes so exactly, vi Luk 2:3 and Acts 13:1, and who belonged to Herod's household.
1 st. Luke 9:10-11. The Occasion.
According to Luke, the motive which induced Jesus to withdraw into a desert place was His desire for more privacy with His disciples, that He might talk with them of their experiences during their mission. Mark relates, with a slight difference, that His object was to secure them some rest after their labours, there being such a multitude constantly going and coming as to leave them no leisure. According to Matthew, it was the news of the murder of the forerunner which led Jesus to seek solitude with His disciples; which, however, could in no way imply that He sought in this way to shield Himself from Herod's violence. For how could He, if this were so, have entered the very next day into the dominions of this sovereign (Matthew 14:34; comp. with Mark and John)? All these facts prove the mutual independence of the Syn.; they are easily harmonized, if we only suppose that the intelligence of the murder of John was communicated to Jesus by His apostles on their return from their mission, that it made Him feel deeply the approach of His own end (on the relation between these two deaths, see Mat 17:12 ), and that it was while He was under these impressions that He desired to secure a season of retirement for His disciples, and an opportunity for more private intercourse with them.
The reading of the T. R.: in a desert place of the city called Bethsaïda, is the most complete, but for this very reason the most doubtful, since it is probably made up out of the others. The reading of the principal Alex., in a city called Bethsaïda, omits the notion, so important in this passage, of a desert place, probably because it appeared inconsistent with the idea of a city, and specially of Bethsaïda, where Jesus was so well known. The reading of א and of the Cureton Syriac translation, in a desert place, is attractive for its brevity. But whence came the mention of Bethsaïda in all the other variations? Of the two contradictory notions, the desert and Bethsaïda, this reading sacrifices the proper name, as the preceding had sacrificed the desert. The true reading, therefore, appears to me to be that which is preserved in the Syriac version of Schaaf and in the Italic, in a desert place called Bethsaïda. This reading retains the two ideas, the apparent inconsistency of which has led to all these alterations of the text, but in a more concise and, at the same time, more correct form than that of the received reading. It makes mention not of a city, but of an inhabited country on the shore of the lake, bearing the name of Bethsaïda. If by this expression Luke had intended to denote the city of Bethsaïda, between Capernaum and Tiberias, on the western side of the lake, the country of Peter, Andrew, and Philip, he would be in open contradiction to Matthew, Mark, and John, who place the multiplication of the loaves on the eastern side, since in all three Jesus crosses the sea the next day to return to Galilee ( into the country of Gennesareth, Matthew 14:34; to Bethsaïda, on the western shore, Mark 6:45; to Capernaum, Joh 6:17 ). But in this case Luke would contradict himself as well as the others. For Bethsaïda, near Capernaum, being situated in the centre of the sphere of the activity of Jesus, how could the Lord repair thither with the intention of finding a place of retirement, a desert place? The meaning of the name Bethsaïda ( fishing place) naturally leads us to suppose that there were several fisheries along the lake of this name. The term Bethsaïda of Galilee, John 12:21, confirms this supposition; for this epithet must have served to distinguish this Bethsaïda from some other. Lastly, Josephus ( Antiq. 18.2. 1; Bell. Jude 1:3; Jude 1:3.10. 7) and Pliny ( Luk 9:15 ) expressly mention another Bethsaïda, situated in Gaulonitis, at the north-east extremity of the sea of Galilee, near the embouchure of the Jordan. The tetrarch Philip had built (probably in the vicinity of a district of this country called Bethsaïda) a city, which he had named, after a daughter of Augustus, Bethsaïda- Julias, the ruins of which Pococke believes he has discovered on a hill, the name of which ( Telui) seems to signify mountain of Julia ( Morgenl. ii. p. 106). There Jesus would more easily find the solitude which He sought.
The term ὑπεχώρησε , He withdrew, does not inform us whether Jesus made the journey on foot or by boat. Luke doubtless did not know; he confines himself to reproducing his information. The three other narratives apprise us that the journey was made by water, but that the crowds which, contrary to the intention of Jesus, knew of His departure, set out to follow Him πεζῇ , on foot (Matthew and Mark), by land, and that the more eager of them arrived almost as soon as Jesus, and even, according to the more probable reading in Mark, before Him. The bend of the lake at the northern end approximates so closely to a straight line, that the journey from Capernaum to Julias might be made as quickly by land as by sea.
The unexpected arrival of the people defeated the plan of Jesus. But He was too deeply moved by the love shown for Him by this multitude, like sheep without a shepherd (Mark), to give them anything but a tender welcome ( δεξάμενος , Luke); and while these crowds of people were flocking up one after another ( Joh 6:5 ), a loving thought ripened in His heart. John has disclosed it to us ( Luk 6:4 ). It was the time of the Passover. He could not visit Jerusalem with His disciples, owing to the virulent hatred of which He had become the object. In this unexpected gathering, resembling that of the nation at Jerusalem, He discerns a signal from on high, and determines to celebrate a feast in the desert, as a compensation for the Passover feast.
2. The Multiplication of the Loaves: Luke 9:10-17.
This narrative is the only one in the entire Galilean ministry which is common to the four evangelists ( Mat 14:13 et seq.; Mar 6:30 et seq.; John 6:0). It forms, therefore, an important mark of connection between the synoptical narrative and John's. This miracle is placed, in all four Gospels alike, at the apogee of the Galilean ministry. Immediately after it, in the Syn., Jesus begins to disclose to His apostles the mystery of His approaching sufferings (Luke 9:18-27; Matthew 16:13-28; Mar 8:27-38 ); in John this miracle leads to an important crisis in the work of Jesus in Galilee, and the discourse which follows alludes to the approaching violent death of the Lord ( Joh 6:53-56 ).
2 d. Luke 9:12-15. The Preparations.
It was absolutely impossible to find sufficient food in this place for such a multitude; and Jesus feels Himself to some extent responsible for the circumstances. This miracle was not, therefore, as Keim maintains, a purely ostentatious prodigy. But in order to understand it thoroughly, it must be looked at from the point of view presented by John. In the Syn. it is the disciples who, as evening draws near, call the attention of Jesus to the situation of the people; He answers them by inviting them to provide for the wants of the multitude themselves. In John it is Jesus who takes the initiative, addressing Himself specially to Philip; then He confers with Andrew, who has succeeded in discovering a young lad furnished with some provisions. It is not difficult to reconcile these two accounts; but in the first we recognise the blurred lines of tradition, in the second the recollections of an eyewitness full of freshness and accuracy.
The two hundred pennyworth of bread forms a remarkable mark of agreement between the narrative of John and that of Mark. John does not depend on Mark; his narrative is distinguished by too many marks of originality. Neither has Mark copied from John; he would not have effaced the strongly-marked features of the narrative of the latter. From this coincidence in such a very insignificant detail we obtain a remarkable confirmation of all those little characteristics by which Mark's narrative is so often distinguished, and which De Wette, Bleek, and others regard as amplifications.
Jesus has no sooner ascertained that there are five loaves and two fishes than He is satisfied. He commands them to make the multitude sit down. Just as though He had said: I have what I want; the meal is ready; let them be seated! But He takes care that this banquet shall be conducted with an order worthy of the God who gives it. Everything must be calm and solemn; it is a kind of passover meal. By the help of the apostles, He seats His guests in rows of fifty each (Matthew), or in double rows of fifty, by hundreds (Mark). This orderly arrangement allowed of the guests being easily counted. Mark describes in a dramatic manner the striking spectacle presented by these regularly-formed companies, each consisting of two equal ranks, and all arranged upon the slope of the hill ( συμπόσια συμπόσια , πρασιαὶ πρασιαί , Luk 9:39-40 ). The pastures at that time were in all their spring splendour, and John and Mark offer a fresh coincidence here, in that they both bring forward the beauty of this natural carpet ( χόρτος πολύς , John; χλωρὸς χόρτος , Mark; Matthew says, οἱ χόρτοι ). In conformity with oriental usage, according to which women and children must keep themselves apart, the men alone ( οἱ ἄνδρες , Joh 6:10 ) appear to be seated in the order indicated. This explains why, according to the Syn., they alone were counted, as Luke says ( Luk 9:14 ), also Mark ( Mar 6:44 ), and, more emphatically still, Matthew (Matthew 14:21, “without women and children”).
3 d. Luke 9:16-17. The Repast.
The pronouncing of a blessing by Jesus is an incident preserved in all four narratives. It must have produced a special impression on all the four witnesses. Each felt that this act contained the secret of the marvellous power displayed on this occasion. To bless God for a little is the way to obtain much. In Matthew and Mark, εὐλόγησε , He blessed, is absolute; the object understood is God. Luke adds αὐτούς , them (the food), a word which the Sinaïticus erases (wrongly, it is clear), in accordance with the two other Syn. It is a kind of sacramental consecration. John uses the word εὐχαριστεῖν , which is chosen, perhaps, not without reference to the name of the later paschal feast ( eucharist). The imperfect ἐδίδου in Luke and Mark is graphic: “He gave, and kept on giving.”
The mention of the fragments indicates the complete satisfaction of their hunger. In John it is Jesus who orders them to be gathered up. This act must therefore be regarded as an expression of filial respect for the gift of the Father.
The twelve baskets are mentioned in all the four narratives. The baskets belonged to the furniture of a caravan. Probably they were what the apostles had provided themselves with when they set out. The number of the persons fed is given by Matthew and Mark here. Luke had mentioned it already in the 14th verse, after the reply of the disciples; John a little later ( Luk 9:10 ), at the moment when the companies were being seated. What unaccountable caprice, if these narratives were taken from each other, or even from the same written source!
The criticism which sets out with the denial of the supernatural is compelled to erase this fact from the history of Jesus; and this miracle cannot, in fact, be explained by the “hidden forces of spontaneity,” by the “charm which a person of fine organization exercises over weak nerves.” It is not possible either to fall back, with some commentators, on the process of vegetation, by supposing here an unusual acceleration of it; we have to deal with bread, not with corn; with cooked fish, not with living creatures. The fact is miraculous, or it is nothing. M. Renan has returned to the ancient interpretation of Paulus: Every one took his little store of provisions from his wallet; they lived on very little. Keim combines with this explanation the mythical interpretation in two ways, imitation of the O. T. (the manna; Elisha, 2Ki 4:42 ), and the Christian idea of the multiplication of the Word, the food of the soul. With the explanation of Paulus, it is difficult to conceive what could have excited the enthusiasm of the people to the point of making them instantly resolve to proclaim Jesus as their King! The mythical interpretation has to contend with special difficulties. Four parallel and yet original narratives wonderfully supplementing each other, a number of minute precise details quite incompatible with the nebulous character of a myth (the five loaves and the two fishes, the 5000 persons, the ranks of fifty, and the companies of a hundred, the twelve baskets), all these details, preserved in four independent and yet harmonious accounts, indicate either a real event or a deliberate invention. But the hypothesis of invention, which Baur so freely applies to the miracles recorded in the fourth Gospel, finds an insurmountable obstacle here in the accounts of the three other evangelists. How is criticism to get out of this network of difficulties? When it has exhausted its ingenuity, it will end by laying down its arms before the holy simplicity of this narrative.
1 st. Luke 9:18-20. The Christ.
According to Mark, the following conversation took place during the journey ( ἐν τῇ ὁδῲ ); Mark thus gives precision to the vaguer indication of Matthew. The name of Caesarea Philippi is wanting in Luke's narrative. Will criticism succeed in finding a dogmatic motive for this omission? In a writer like Luke, who loves to be precise about places ( Luk 9:10 ) and times ( Luk 9:28 ), this omission can only be accounted for by ignorance; therefore he possessed neither Mark nor Matthew, nor the documents from which these last derived this name. The description of the moral situation belongs, however, to Luke: Jesus had just been alone praying. “Arbitrary and ill-chosen scenery,” says Holtzmann (p. 224). One would like to know the grounds of this judgment on the part of the German critic. Would not Jesus, at the moment of disclosing to His disciples for the first time the alarming prospect of His approaching death, foreseeing the impression which this communication would make upon them, having regard also to the manner in which He must speak to them under such circumstances, be likely to prepare Himself for this important step by prayer? Besides, it is probable that the disciples took part in His prayer. The imperfect συνῆσαν , they were gathered together with Him, appears to indicate as much. And the term καταμόνας ( ὁδούς understood), in solitude, in no way excludes the presence of the disciples, but simply that of the people. This appears from the antithesis, Luke 9:23: “And He said to them all,” and especially from Mark, Luke 9:34: “Having called the multitude. ”
The expression, they were gathered together, indicates something of importance. Jesus first of all elicits from His disciples the different opinions which they had gathered from the lips of the people during their mission. The object of this first question is evidently to prepare the way for the next ( Luk 9:20 ).
On the opinions here enumerated, see Luk 9:8 and John 1:21. They amount to this: Men generally regard thee as one of the forerunners of the Messiah. The question addressed to the disciples is designed, first of all, to make them distinctly conscious of the wide difference between the popular opinion and the conviction at which they have themselves arrived; next, to serve as a starting-point for the fresh communication which Jesus is about to make respecting the manner in which the work of the Christ is to be accomplished.
The confession of Peter is differently expressed in the three narratives: the Christ, the Son of the living God (Matthew); the Christ (Mark); the Christ of God (Luke). The form in Luke holds a middle place between the other two. The genit., of God, signifies, as in the expression Lamb of God: He who belongs to God, and whom God sends.
It has been inferred from this question, that up to this time Jesus had not assumed His position as the Messiah amongst His disciples, and that His determination to accept this character dates from this point; that this resolution was taken partly in concession to the popular idea, which required that His work of restoration should assume this form, and partly to meet the expectation of the disciples, which found emphatic expression through the lips of Peter, the most impatient of their number. But, 1. The question in Luk 9:20 has not the character of a concession; on the contrary, Jesus thereby takes the initiative in the confession which it calls forth. 2. If this view be maintained, all those previous sayings and incidents in which Jesus gives Himself out to be the Christ, must be set aside as unauthentic; and there are such not only in John (Luke 1:39-41; Luke 1:49-51, Luke 3:14, Luk 4:26 ), but in the Syn. (the election of the Twelve as heads of a new Israel; the parallel which Jesus institutes, Matthew 5:0, between Himself and the lawgiver of Sinai: “You have heard that it hath been said..., but I...;” the title of bridegroom which He gives Himself, Luke 5:35, and parallels). The resolution of Jesus to assume the character of the Messiah, and to accomplish under this national form His universal task as Saviour of the world, was certainly matured within His soul from the first day of His public activity. The scenes of the baptism and temptation forbid any other supposition; hence the entire absence of anything like feeling His way in the progress of His ministry. The import of His question is therefore something very different. The time had come for Him to pass, if we may so express it, to a new chapter in His teaching. He had hitherto, especially since He began to teach in parables, directed the attention of His disciples to the near approach of the kingdom of God. It was now necessary to turn it towards Himself as Head of this kingdom, and especially towards the future, wholly unlooked for by them, which awaited Him in this character. They knew that He was the Christ; they had yet to learn how He was to be it. But before commencing on this new ground, He is anxious that they should express, in a distinct declaration, the result of His instructions and of their own previous experiences. As an experienced teacher, before beginning the new lesson He makes them recapitulate the old. With the different forms and vacillations of opinion, as well as the open denials of the rulers before them, He wants to hear from their own lips the expression of their own warm and decided conviction. This established result of His previous labour will serve as a foundation for the new labour which the gravity of His situation urges Him to undertake. The murder of John the Baptist made Him sensible that His own end was not far off; the time, therefore, was come to substitute for the brilliant form of the Christ, which as yet filled the minds of His disciples, the mournful image of the Man of sorrows. Thus the facts which, as we have seen (p. 403), led Jesus to seek retirement in the desert of Bethsaïda-Julias, that He might be alone with His disciples, furnished the motives for the present conversation.
We read in John, after the multiplication of the loaves (chap. 6), of a similar confession to this, also made by Peter in the name of the Twelve. Is it to be supposed, that at the same epoch two such similar declarations should have taken place? Would Jesus have called for one so soon after having heard the other? Is it not striking that, owing to the omission in Luke, the account of this confession, in his narrative as in John's, follows immediately upon that of the multiplication of the loaves? Certainly the situation described in the fourth Gospel is very different. In consequence of a falling away which had just been going on amongst His Galilean disciples, Jesus puts the question to His apostles of their leaving Him. But the questions which Jesus addresses to them in the Syn. might easily have found a place in the conversation of which John gives us a mere outline. At the first glance, it is true, John's narrative does not lead us to suppose such a long interval between the multiplication of the loaves and this conversation as is required for the journey from Capernaum to Caesarea Philippi. But the desertion of the Galilean disciples, which had begun immediately, was not completed in a day. It might have extended over some time (John 6:66: ἐκ τούτου , from that time). Altogether, the resemblance between these two scenes appears to us to outweigh their dissimilarity.
Keim admirably says: “We do not know which we must think the greatest; whether the spirit of the disciples, who shatter the Messianic mould, set aside the judgment of the priests, rise above all the intervening degrees of popular appreciation, and proclaim as lofty and divine that which is abased and down-trodden, because to their minds' eye it is and remains great and divine, or this personality of Jesus, which draws from these feeble disciples, notwithstanding the pressure of the most overwhelming experiences, so pure and lofty an expression of the effect produced upon them by His whole life and ministry.” Gess: “The sages of Capernaum remained unmoved, the enthusiasm of the people was cooled, on every side Jesus was threatened with the fate of the Baptist..., it was then that the faith of His disciples shone out as genuine, and came forth from the furnace of trial as an energetic conviction of truth.”
3. First Announcement of the Passion: Luke 9:18-27.
Up to the first multiplication of the loaves, it is impossible to make out any continuous synchronism between the synoptics, as the following table of the series of preceding incidents shows:
Numbers might be thrown into a bag and taken out again hap-hazard thrice over, without obtaining an order apparently more capricious and varied. Yet of these three narratives one is supposed to be copied from the other, or to have emanated from the same written source!
Nevertheless, towards the end a certain parallelism begins to show itself, first of all between Mark and Luke (Gadara, Jaïrus, Mission of the Twelve), then between Matthew and Mark (Nazareth, murder of John, desert and first multiplication). This convergence of the three narratives into one and the same line proceeds from this point, after a considerable omission in Luke, and becomes more decidedly marked, until it reaches Luke 9:50, as appears from the following table:
How is the large omission to be explained which Luke's narrative exhibits from the storm following the first multiplication to the last announcement of the Passion, corresponding to two whole chapters of Matthew ( Mat 14:22 to Mat 16:12 ) and of Mark ( Mar 6:45 to Mar 8:26 )? How is the tolerably exact synchronism which shows itself from this time between all three to be accounted for? Meyer gives up all attempts to explain the omission; it was due to an unknown chance. Reuss (§ 189) thinks that the copy of Mark which Luke used presented an omission in this place. Bleek attributes the omission to the original Greek Gospel which Matthew and Luke made use of; Matthew, he supposes, filled it up by means of certain documents, and Mark copied Matthew. Holtzmann (p. 223) contents himself with saying that Luke here breaks the thread of A. (primitive Mark), in order to connect with his narrative the portion which follows; but he says nothing that might serve to explain this strange procedure.
But the hypothesis upon which almost all these attempted solutions rest is that of a common original document, which, however, is continually contradicted by the numerous differences both in form and matter which a single glance of the eye discovers between Matthew and Mark. Then, with all this, the difficulty is only removed a step further back. For it becomes necessary to explain the omission in the original document. And whenever this is done satisfactorily, it will be found necessary to have recourse to the following idea, which, for our own part, we apply directly to Luke. In the original preaching of the gospel, particular incidents were naturally grouped together in certain cycles more or less fixed, determined sometimes by chronological connection (the call of Matthew, the feast and the subsequent conversations, the tempest, Gadara, and Jaïrus), sometimes by the similarity of the subjects (the Sabbatic scenes, Luk 6:1-11 ). These cycles were first of all put in writing, with considerable freedom and variety, sometimes by the preachers for their own use, and in other cases by their hearers, who were anxious to fix their recollection of them. The oldest writings of which Luke speaks ( Luk 1:1 ) were probably collections more or less complete of these groups of narratives ( ἀνατάξασθαι διήγησιν ). And what in this case can be more readily imagined than the omission of one or the other of these cycles in any of these collections? An accident of this kind is sufficient to explain the great omission which we meet with in Luke. The cycle wanting in the document he used extended a little further than the second multiplication of the loaves, whilst the following portions belong to a part of the Galilean ministry, which, from the beginning, had taken a more definite form in the preaching. This was natural; for the facts of which this subsequent series is composed are closely connected by a double tie, both chronological and moral. The subject is the approaching sufferings of Jesus. The announcement of them to the disciples is the aim of the following discourse; and to strengthen their faith in view of this overwhelming thought is evidently the design of the transfiguration. The cure of the lunatic child, which took place at the foot of the mountain, was associated with the transfiguration in the tradition; the second announcement of the Passion naturally followed the first, and all the more since it took place during the return from Caesarea to Capernaum; which was the case also with certain manifestations of pride and intolerance of which the apostles were then guilty, and the account of which terminates this part. In the tradition, this natural cycle formed the close of the Galilean ministry. And this explains how the series of facts has been preserved in almost identical order in the three narratives.
The following conversation, reported also by Matthew ( Mat 16:13 et seq.) and Mark ( Mar 8:27 et seq.), refers to three points: 1 st. The Christ ( Luk 9:18-20 ); 2 d. The suffering Christ ( Luk 9:21-22 ); 3 d. The disciples of the suffering Christ ( Luk 9:23-27 ).
Jesus lost no time in returning to His project of seeking a season of retirement, a project which had been twice defeated, at Bethsaïda-Julias, by the eagerness of the multitude to follow Him, and again in Tyre and Sidon, where, notwithstanding His desire to remain hid ( Mar 7:24 ), His presence had been discovered by the Canaanitish woman, and afterwards noised abroad through the miracle which took place. After that He had returned to the south, had visited a second time that Decapolis which he had previously been obliged to quit almost as soon as He entered it. Then He set out again for the north, this time directing His steps more eastward, towards the secluded valleys where the Jordan rises at the foot of Hermon. The city of Caesarea Philippi was situated there, inhabited by a people of whom the greater part were heathen (Josephus, Vita, § 13). Jesus might expect to find in this secluded country the solitude which He had sought in vain in other parts of the Holy Land. He did not visit the city itself, but remained in the hamlets which surround it (Mark), or generally in those quarters (Matthew).
2 d. Luke 9:21-22. The suffering Christ.
The expression of Luke, He straitly charged and commanded them, is very energetic. The general reason for this prohibition is found in the following announcement of the rejection of the Messiah, as is proved by the participle εἰπών , saying. They were to keep from proclaiming Him openly as the Christ, on account of the contradiction between the hopes which this title had awakened in the minds of the people, and the way in which this office was to be realized in Him. But this threatening prohibition had a more special nature, which appears from John's narrative. It refers to the recent attempt of the people, after the multiplication of the loaves ( Joh 6:14-15 ), to proclaim Him king, and the efforts which Jesus was then obliged to make to preserve His disciples from this mistaken enthusiasm, which might have seriously compromised His work. It is the recollection of this critical moment which induces Jesus to use this severe language ( ἐπιτιμήσας ). It was only after the idol of the carnal Christ had been for ever nailed to the cross, that the apostolic preaching could safely connect this title Christ with the name of Jesus. “See how,” as Riggenbach says ( Vie de Jésus, p. 318), “Jesus was obliged in the very moment of self-revelation to veil Himself, when He had lighted the fire to cover it again.” Δέ ( Luk 9:21 ) is adversative: “Thou sayest truly, I am the Christ; but...”
Must, on account of the prophecies and of the divine purpose, of which they are the expression. The members composing the Sanhedrim consisted of three classes of members: the elders, or presidents of synagogues; the high priests, the heads of twenty-four classes of priests; and scribes, or men learned in the law. All three Syn. give here the enumeration of these official classes. This paraphrase of the technical name invests the announcement of the rejection with all its importance. What a complete reversal of the disciples' Messianic ideas was this rejection of Jesus by the very authorities from whom they expected the recognition and proclamation of the Messiah! ᾿Αποδοκιμασθῆναι indicates deliberate rejection, after previous calculation.
There was a crushing contradiction between this prospect and the hopes of the disciples; but, as Klostermann truly says, the last words, “ And He shall rise again the third day,” furnish the solution of it.
Strauss and Baur contented themselves with denying the details of the prediction in which Jesus foretold His death. Volkmar and Holsten at the present day refuse to allow that He had any knowledge of this event before the last moments. According to Holsten, He went to Jerusalem full of hope, designing to preach there as well as in Galilee, and confident, in case of need, of the interposition of God and of the swords of His adherents....The holy Supper itself was occasioned simply by a passing presentiment....His terrible mistake took Jesus by surprise at the last moment. Keim (ii. p. 556) acknowledges that it is impossible to deny the authenticity of the scene and conversation at Caesarea Philippi. According to him, Jesus could not have failed to have foreseen His violent death long before the catastrophe came. This is proved by the bold opposition of St. Peter, also by such sayings as those referring to the bridegroom who is to be taken away, to death as the way of life ( Luk 9:23-24 ), to Jerusalem which kills the prophets; lastly, by the reply to the two sons of Zebedee. We may add Luke 9:31, Luke 12:50; John 2:20; John 3:14; John 6:53; John 12:7; John 12:24, words at once characteristic and inimitable. And as to the details of this prediction, have we not a number of facts which leave no room for doubt as to the supernatural knowledge of Jesus (Luke 22:10-34; John 1:49; John 4:18; John 6:64, etc.)? What the modern critics more generally dispute, is the announcement of the resurrection. But if Jesus foresaw His death, He must have equally foreseen His resurrection, as certainly as a prophet believing in the mission of Israel could not announce the captivity without also predicting the return. And who would ever have dreamed of putting into the mouth of Jesus the expression three days and three nights after the event, when in actual fact the time spent in the tomb did not exceed one day and two nights?
It is asked how it came to pass, if Jesus had so expressly predicted His resurrection, that this event should have been such an extraordinary surprise to his apostles? There we have a psychological problem, which the disciples themselves found it difficult to explain. Comp. the remarks of the evangelists, Luke 9:45, Luke 18:34, and parallels, which can only have come from the apostles. The explanation of this problem is perhaps this: the apostles never thought, before the facts had opened their eyes, that the expressions death and resurrection used by Jesus should be taken literally. Their Master so commonly spoke in figurative language, that up to the last moment they only saw in the first term the expression of a sad separation, a sudden disappearance; and in the second, only a sudden return, a glorious reappearing. And even after the death of Jesus, they in no way thought they should see Him appear again in His old form, and by the restoration to life of the body laid in the tomb. If they expected anything, it was His return as a heavenly King (see on Luk 23:42 ).
Luke has omitted here the word of approval and the severe reprimand which Jesus, according to Matthew, addressed to Peter on this occasion. If any one is determined to see in this omission of Luke's a wilful suppression, the result of ill-will towards the Apostle Peter, or at least towards the Jewish Christians (Keim), what will he say of Mark, who, while omitting the words of praise, expressly refers to those of censure?
We can quite understand that the people could not yet bear the disclosure of a suffering Messiah; but Jesus might make them participate in it indirectly, by initiating them into the practical consequences of this fact for His true disciples. To describe the moral crucifixion of His servants, Luke 9:23-27, was to give a complete revelation of the spirituality of the Messianic kingdom.
3 d. Luke 9:23-27. “ And He said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me. 24. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it. 25. For what is a man advantaged, if he gain the whole world, and lose himself, or be cast away? 26. For whosoever shall be ashamed of me, and of my words, of him shall the Son of man be ashamed, when He shall come in His own glory, and in His Father's, and of the holy angels. 27. But I tell you of a truth, there be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the kingdom of God. ”
The preceding conversation had taken place within the privacy of the apostolic circle ( Luk 9:18 ). The following words are addiessed to all, that is to say, to the multitude, which, while Jesus was praying with His disciples, kept at a distance. According to Mark, Jesus calls them to Him to hear the instruction which follows. Holtzmann maintains that this to all of Luke must have been taken from Mark. But why could not the same remark, if it resulted from an actual fact, be reproduced in two different forms, in two independent documents?
Jesus here represents all those who attach themselves to Him under the figure of a train of crucified persons, Luke 9:23. The aor. ἐλθεῖν of the T. R. means: make in general part of my following; and the present ἔρχεσθαι in the Alex.: range themselves about me at this very moment. The figure employed is that of a journey, which agrees with their actual circumstances as described by Mark: ἐν τῇ ὁδῷ .
The man who has made up his mind to set out on a journey, has first of all to say farewell; here he has to bid adieu to his own life, to deny himself. Next there is luggage to carry; in this case it is the cross, the sufferings and reproach which never fail to fall on him who pays a serious regard to holiness of life. By the word αἴρειν , to take up, to burden oneself with, Jesus alludes to the custom of making criminals carry their cross to the place of punishment. Further, there is in this term the idea of a voluntary and cheerful acceptance. Jesus says his cross, that which is the result of a person's own character and providential position. There is nothing arbitrary about it; it is given from above. The authenticity of the word daily, which is wanting in some MSS., cannot be doubted. Had it been a gloss, it would have been inserted in Matthew and Mark as well. This voluntary crucifixion is carried on every day to a certain degree. Lastly, after having taken farewell and shouldered his burden, he must set out on his journey. By what road? By that which the steps of his Master have marked out. The chart of the true disciple directs him to renounce every path of his own choosing, that he may put his feet into the print of his leader's footsteps. Thus, and not by arbitrary mortifications actuated by self-will, is the death of self completely accomplished.
The term follow, therefore, does not express the same idea as come after me, at the beginning of the verse; the latter would denote outward adherence to the followers of Jesus. The other refers to practical fidelity in the fulfilment of the consequences of this engagement.
The 24th verse demonstrates ( for) the necessity for the crucifixion described, Luke 9:23. Without this death to self, man loses himself (24a); whilst by this sacrifice he saves himself (24b). We find here the paradoxical form in which the Hebrew Maschal loves to clothe itself. Either of the two ways brings the just man to the antipodes of the point to which it seemed likely to lead him. This profound saying, true even for man in his innocence, is doubly true when applied to man as a sinner. Ψυχή , the breath of life, denotes the soul, with its entire system of instincts and natural faculties. This psychical life is unquestionably good, but only as a point of departure, and as a means of acquiring a higher life. To be anxious to save it, to seek to preserve it as it is, by doing nothing but care for it, and seek the utmost amount of self-gratification, is a sure way of losing it for ever; for it is wanting to give stability to what in its essence is but transitory, and to change a means into an end. Even in the most favourable case, the natural life is only a transient flower, which must soon fade. That it may be preserved from dissolution, we must consent to lose it, by surrendering it to the mortifying and regenerating breath of the Divine Spirit, who transforms it into a higher life, and imparts to it an eternal value. To keep it, therefore, is to lose both it and the higher life into which, as the blossom into its fruit, it should have been transformed. To lose it is to gain it, first of all, under the higher form of spiritual life; then, some day, under the form even of natural life, with all its legitimate instincts fully satisfied. Jesus says, “for my sake; ” and in Mark, “for my sake and the gospel's. ” It is, in fact, only as we give ourselves to Christ that we satisfy this profound law of human existence; and it is only by the gospel, received in faith, that we can contract this personal relationship to Christ. Self perishes only when affixed to the cross of Jesus, and the divine breath, which imparts the new life to man, comes to him from Christ alone. No axiom was more frequently repeated by Jesus; it is, as it were, the substance of His moral philosophy. In Luk 17:33 it is applied to the time of the Parousia; it is then, in fact, that it will be fully realized. In Joh 12:25 Jesus makes it the law of His own existence; in Mat 10:39 He applies it to the apostolate.
Vers. 25-27 are the confirmation ( for) of this Maschal, and first of all, Luke 9:25-26, of the first proposition. Jesus supposes, Luke 9:25, the act of saving one's own life, accomplished with the most complete success...., amounting to a gain of the whole world. But in this very moment the master of this magnificent domain finds himself condemned to perish! What gain! To draw in a lottery a gallery of pictures..., and at the same time to become blind! The expression ἢ ζημιωθείς , or suffering loss, is difficult. In Matthew and Mark this word, completed by Ψυχήν , corresponds to ἀπολέσας in Luke; but in Luke it must express a different idea. We may understand with it either the world or ἑαυτόν , himself, “suffering the loss of this world already gained,” or (which is more natural) “losing himself altogether ( ἀπολέσας ), or even merely suffering some small loss in his own person.” It is not necessary that the chastisement should amount to total perdition; the smallest injury to the human personality will be found to be a greater evil than all the advantages accruing from the possession of the whole world.
The losing oneself [the loss of the personality] mentioned in Luk 9:25 consists, according to Luke 9:26 ( for), in being denied by Jesus in the day of His glory. The expression, to be ashamed of Jesus, might be applied to the Jews, because fear of their rulers hindered them from declaring themselves for Him; but in this context it is more natural to apply it to disciples whose fidelity gives way before ridicule or violence. The Cantabrigiensis omits the word λόγους , which leads to the sense: “ashamed of me and mine. ” This reading would recommend itself if better supported, and if the word λόγους ( my words) was not confirmed by the parallel expression of Mark ( Mar 8:35 ): “for my sake and the gospel's. ” The glory of the royal advent of Jesus will be, first, that of His own personal appearing; next, the glory of God; lastly, the glory of the angels, all these several glories will be mingled together in the incomparable splendour of that great day ( 2Th 1:7-10 ). “Thus,” says Gess, “to be worthy of this man is the new and paramount principle. This is no mere spiritualization of the Mosaic law; it is a revolution in the religious and moral intuitions of mankind.”
Ver. 27 is the justification of the promise in Luke 9:24 b (find his life by losing it), as Luk 9:25-26 explained the threatening of 24a. It forms in the three Syn. the conclusion of this discourse, and the transition to the narrative of the transfiguration; but could any of the evangelists have applied to such an exceptional and transitory incident this expression: the coming of the kingdom of Christ (Matthew), or of God (Mark and Luke)?
Meyer thinks that this saying can only apply to the Parousia, to which the preceding verse referred, and which was believed to be very near. But could Jesus have laboured under this misconception (see the refutation of this opinion at chap. 21)? Or has the meaning of His words been altered by tradition? The latter view only would be tenable. Many, urging the difference between Matthew's expression (until they have seen the Son of man coming in His kingdom) and that of Mark (“... the kingdom of God come with power ”) or of Luke (“... the kingdom of God ”), think that the notion of the Parousia has been designedly erased from the text of Matthew by the other two, because they wrote after the fall of Jerusalem. Comp. also the relation between Matthew 24:0, where the confusion of the two events appears evident, and Luke 21:0, where it is avoided. But, 1. It is to be observed that this confusion is found in Mark (xiii.) exactly the same as in Matthew (xxiv.). Now, if Mark had corrected Matthew for the reason alleged in the passage before us, how much more would he have corrected him in chap. 13, where it is not a single isolated passage that is in question, but where the subject of the Parousia is the chief matter of discourse! And if the form of expression in Mark is not the result of an intentional correction, but of a simple difference in the mode of transmission, why might it not be the same also with the very similar form that occurs in ? Luke 2:0. There is a very marked distinction both in Mark and Luke, a sort of gradation and antithesis between this saying and the preceding in Luke by means of the particle δέ , and further: “And I also say that this recompense promised to the faithful confessors shall be enjoyed by some of you before you die;” and in Mark, in a still more striking manner, by the interruption of the discourse and the commencement of a new phrase: “ And He said to them ” ( Luk 9:1 ). So that the idea of the Parousia must be set aside as far as the texts of Mark and Luke are concerned. It may even be doubted whether it is contained in Matthew's expression; comp. Matthew 26:64: “ Henceforth [from now] ye shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven.” The expression henceforth does not permit of our thinking of the Parousia. But this saying is very similar to the one before us. Others apply this promise to the fall of Jerusalem, or to the establishment of the kingdom of God among the heathen, or to the descent of the Holy Spirit. But inasmuch as these events were outward facts, and all who were contemporary with them were witnesses of them, we cannot by this reference explain τινές , some, which announces an exceptional privilege. After all, is the Lord's meaning so difficult to apprehend? Seeing the kingdom of God, in His teaching, is a spiritual fact, in accordance with the inward nature of the kingdom itself; comp. Luke 17:21: “The kingdom of God is within you ” (see the explanation of this passage). For this reason, in order to enjoy this sight, a new sense and a new birth are needed; John 3:3: “Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” This thought satisfactorily explains the present promise as expressed in Luke and Mark. To explain Matthew's expression, we must remember that the work of the Holy Spirit pre-eminently consists in giving us a lively conviction of the exaltation and heavenly glory of Jesus ( Joh 16:14 ). The τινές , some, are therefore all those then present who should receive the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, and behold with their inward eye those wonderful works of God, which Jesus calls His kingdom, or the kingdom of God. In this way is explained the gradation from Luk 9:26 to Luk 9:27 in Mark and Luke: “Whoever shall give his own life shall find it again, not only at the end of time, but even in this life (at Pentecost).” If this explanation be inadmissible, it must be conceded that this promise is based on a confusion of the fall of Jerusalem with the Parousia; and this would be a proof that our Gospel as well as Matthew's was written before that catastrophe. ᾿Αληθῶς must not be connected with λέγω : Verily I say to you. It should be placed before the verb, as the ἀμήν is in the two other Syn.; and Luke more generally makes use of ἐπ᾿ ἀληθείας (three times in the Gospel, twice in the Acts). It must, then, belong to εἰσίν : “ There are certainly among you. ”
The Alex. reading αὐτοῦ , here, must be preferred to the received reading, ὧδε , which is taken from the other Syn.
1 st. Luke 9:28-29. The Glory of Jesus.
The three narratives show that there was an interval of a week between the transfiguration and the first announcement of the sufferings of Jesus, with this slight difference, that Matthew and Mark say six days after, whilst Luke says about eight days after. It is a very simple explanation to suppose that Luke employs a round number, as indeed the limitation ὡσεί , about, indicates, whilst the others give, from some document, the exact figure. But this explanation is too simple for criticism. “Luke,” says Holtzmann, “affects to be a better chronologist than the others.” And for this reason, forsooth, he substitutes eight for six on his own authority, and immediately, from some qualm of conscience, corrects himself by using the word about! To such puerilities is criticism driven by the hypothesis of a common document. The Aramaean constructions, which characterize the style of Luke in this passage, and which are not found in the two other Syn. ( ἐγένετο καὶ ἀνέβη , Luke 9:28; ἐγένετο εἶπεν , Luk 9:33 ), would be sufficient to prove that he follows a different document from theirs.
The nominative ἡμέραι ὀκτώ , eight days, is the subject of an elliptical phrase, which forms a parenthesis: “ About eight days had passed away. ” It is not without design that Luke expressly adds, after these sayings. He thereby brings out the moral connection between this event and the preceding conversation.
We might think, from the account of Matthew and Mark, that in taking His disciples to the mountain, Jesus intended to be transfigured before them. Luke gives us to understand that He simply wished to pray with them. Lange thinks, and it is probable, that in consequence of the announcement of His approaching sufferings, deep depression had taken possession of the hearts of the Twelve. They had spent these six days, respecting which the sacred records preserve unbroken silence, in a gloomy stupor. Jesus was anxious to rouse them out of a feeling which, to say the least, was quite as dangerous as the enthusiastic excitement which had followed the multiplication of the loaves. And in order to do this He had recourse to prayer; He sought to strengthen by this means those apostles especially whose moral state would determine the disposition of their colleagues. Knowing well by experience the influence a sojourn upon some height has upon the soul, how much more easily, in such a place, it collects its thoughts and recovers from depression,
He leads them away to a mountain. The art. τό denotes the mountain nearest to the level country where Jesus then was. According to a tradition, of which we can gather no positive traces earlier than the fourth century (Cyril of Jerusalem, Jerome), the mountain in question was Tabor, a lofty cone, situated two leagues to the south-east of Nazareth. Perhaps the Gospel to the Hebrews presents an older trace of this opinion in the words which it attributes to Jesus: “Then my mother, the Holy Spirit, took me up by a hair of my head, and carried me to the high mountain of Tabor.” But two circumstances are against the truth of this tradition: 1. Tabor is a long way off Caesarea Philippi, where the previous conversation took place. Certainly, in the intervening six days Jesus could have returned even to the neighbourhood of Tabor. But would not Matthew and Mark, who have noticed the journey into the northern country, have mentioned this return? 2. The summit of Tabor was at that time, as Robinson has proved, occupied by a fortified town, which would scarcely agree with the tranquillity which Jesus sought. We think, therefore, that probably the choice lies between Hermon and Mount Panias, from whose snowy summits, visible to the admiring eye in all the northern parts of the Holy Land, the sources of the Jordan are constantly fed.
The strengthening of the faith of the three principal apostles was the object, therefore, of this mountain excursion; the glorification of Jesus was an answer to prayer, and the means employed by God to bring about the desired result. The connection between the prayer of Jesus and His transfiguration is expressed in Luke by the preposition ἐν , which denotes more than a mere simultaneousness (whilst He prayed), and makes His prayer the cause of this mysterious event. Elevated feeling imparts to the countenance and even to the figure of the entire man a distinguished appearance. The impulse of true devotion, the enthusiasm of adoration, illumine him. And when, corresponding with this state of soul, there is a positive revelation on the part of God, as in the case of Moses or of Stephen, then, indeed, it may come to pass that the inward illumination, penetrating, through the medium of the soul, even to its external covering, the body, may produce in it a prelude, as it were, of its future glorification. It was some phenomenon of this kind that was produced in the person of Jesus whilst He was praying. Luke describes its effects in the simplest manner: “ His countenance became other. ” How can Holtzmann maintain that in him the vision is “aesthetically amplified.” His expression is much more simple than Mark's: “ He was transfigured before them,” or than that of Matthew, who to these words of Mark adds, “ and His countenance shone as the sun. ”
This luminous appearance possessed the body of Jesus in such intensity as to become perceptible even through His garments. Even here the expression of Luke is very simple: “ His garments became white and shining,” and contrasts with the stronger expressions of Mark and Matthew.
The grandeur of the recent miracles shows us that Jesus at this time had reached the zenith of His powers. As everything in His life was in perfect harmony, this period must have been that also in which He reached the perfection of His inward development. Having reached it, what was His normal future? He could not advance; He must not go back. From this moment, therefore, earthly existence became too narrow a sphere for this perfected personality. There only remained death; but death is the offspring of the sinner, or, as St. Paul says, the wages of sin ( Rom 6:23 ). For the sinless man the issue of life is not the sombre passage of the tomb; rather is it the royal road of a glorious transformation. Had the hour of this glorification struck for Jesus; and was His transfiguration the beginning of the heavenly renewal? This is Lange's thought; it somehow brings this event within the range of the understanding. Gess gives expression to it in these words: “This event indicates the ripe preparation of Jesus for immediate entrance upon eternity.” Had not Jesus Himself voluntarily suspended the change which was on the point of being wrought in Him, this moment would have become the moment of His ascension.
4. The Transfiguration: Luke 9:28-36.
There is but one allusion to this event in the whole of the N. T. (2 Peter 1:0), which proves that it has no immediate connection with the work of salvation. On the other hand, its historical reality can only be satisfactorily established in so far as we succeed in showing in a reasonable way its place in the course of the life and development of Jesus.
According to the description of the transfiguration given in the Syn. ( Mat 17:1 et seq.; Mar 9:2 et seq.), we distinguish three phases in this scene: 1 st. The personal glorification of Jesus ( Luk 9:28-29 ); 2 d. The appearing of Moses and Elijah, and His conversation with them ( Luk 9:30-33 ); 3 d. The interposition of God Himself ( Luk 9:34-36 ).
2 d. Luke 9:30-33. The Appearing of Moses and Elijah.
Not only do we sometimes see the eye of the dying lighted up with celestial brightness, but we hear him conversing with the dear ones who have gone before him to the heavenly home. Through the gate which is opened for him, heaven and earth hold fellowship. In the same way, at the prayer of Jesus, heaven comes down or earth rises. The two spheres touch. Keim says: “A descent of heavenly spirits to the earth has no warrant either in the ordinary course of events or in the Old or New Testament.” Gess very properly replies: “Who can prove that the appearing of these heroes of the Old Covenant was in contradiction to the laws of the upper world? We had far better confess our ignorance of those laws.”
Moses and Elijah are there, talking with Him. Luke does not name them at first. He says two men. This expression reflects the impression which must have been experienced by the eye-witnesses of the scene. They perceived, first of all, the presence of two persons unknown; it was only afterwards that they knew them by name. ᾿Ιδού , behold, expresses the suddenness of the apparition. The imperf., they were talking, proves that the conversation had already lasted some time when the disciples perceived the presence of these strangers. Οἵτινες is emphatic: who were no other than...Moses and Elijah were the two most zealous and powerful servants of God under the Old Covenant. Moreover, both of them had a privileged end: Elijah, by his ascension, was preserved from the unclothing of death; there was something equally mysterious in the death and disappearance of Moses. Their appearing upon the mountain is perhaps connected with the exceptional character of the end of their earthly life. But how, it is asked, did the apostles know them? Perhaps Jesus addressed them by name in the course of the conversation, or indicated who they were in a way that admitted of no mistake. Or, indeed, is it not rather true that the glorified bear upon their form the impress of their individuality, their new name ( Rev 2:17 )? Could we behold St. John or St. Paul in their heavenly glory for any length of time without giving them their name?
The design of this appearing is only explained to us by Luke: “They talked,” he says literally, “ of the departure which Jesus was about to accomplish at Jerusalem. ” How could certain theologians imagine that Moses and Elijah came to instruct Jesus respecting His approaching sufferings, when only six days before He had Himself informed the Twelve about them? It is rather the two heavenly messengers who are learning of Jesus, as the apostles were six days before, unless one imagines that they talked with Him on a footing of equality. In view of that cross which is about to be erected, Elijah learns to know a glory superior to that of being taken up to heaven, the glory of renouncing, through love, such an ascension, and choosing rather a painful and ignominious death. Moses comprehends that there is a sublimer end than that of dying, according to the fine expression which the Jewish doctors apply to his death, “from the kiss of the Eternal;” and this is to deliver up one's soul to the fire of divine wrath. This interview, at the same time, gave a sanction, in the minds of the disciples, to an event from the prospect of which only six days before they shrank in terror. The term ἔξοδος , going out, employed by Luke, is chosen designedly; for it contains, at the same time, the ideas both of death and ascension. Ascension was as much the natural way for Jesus as death is for us. He might ascend with the two who talked with Him. But to ascend now would be to ascend without us. Down below, on the plain, He sees mankind crushed beneath the weight of sin and death. Shall He abandon them? He cannot bring Himself to this. He cannot ascend unless He carry them with Him; and in order to do this, He now braves the other issue, which He can only accomplish at Jerusalem. Πληροῦν , to accomplish, denotes not the finishing of life by dying (Bleek), but the completion of death itself. In such a death there is a task to accomplish. The expression, at Jerusalem, has deep tragedy in it; at Jerusalem, that city which has the monopoly of the murder of the prophets ( Luk 13:33 ).
This single word of Luke's on the subject of the conversation throws light upon the scene, and we can appraise at its true value the judgment of the critics (Meyer, Holtzmann), who regard it as nothing more than the supposition of later tradition?
Further, it is through Luke that we are able to form an idea of the true state of the disciples during this scene. The imperf., they talked, Luke 9:30, has shown us that the conversation had already lasted some time when the disciples perceived the presence of the two heavenly personages. We must infer from this that they were asleep during the prayer of Jesus. This idea is confirmed by the plus-perfect ἦσαν βεβαρημένοι , they had been weighed down, Luke 9:32. They were in this condition during the former part of the interview, and they only came to themselves just as the conversation was concluding. The term διαγρηγορεῖν is used nowhere else in the N. T. In profane Greek, where it is very little used, it signifies: to keep awake. Meyer would give it this meaning here: “persevering in keeping themselves awake, notwithstanding the drowsiness which oppressed them.” This sense is not inadmissible; nevertheless the δέ , but, which denotes an opposition to this state of slumber, rather inclines us to think that this verb denotes their return to self-consciousness through ( διά ) a momentary state of drowsiness. Perhaps we should regard the choice of this unusual term as indicating a strange state, which many persons have experienced, when the soul, after having sunk to sleep in prayer, in coming to itself, no longer finds itself in the midst of earthly things, but feels raised to a higher sphere, in which it receives impressions full of unspeakable joy.
Ver. 33 also enables us to see the true meaning of Peter's words mentioned in the three narratives. It was the moment, Luke tells us, when the two heavenly messengers were preparing to part from the Lord. Peter, wishing to detain them, ventures to speak. He offers to construct a shelter, hoping thereby to induce them to prolong their sojourn here below; as if it were the fear of spending the night in the open air that obliged them to withdraw! This enables us to understand Luke's remark (comp. also Mark): not knowing what he said. This characteristic speech was stereotyped in the tradition, with this trifling difference, that in Matthew Peter calls Jesus Lord ( κύριε ), in Mark Master ( ῥαββί ), in Luke Master ( ἐπιστάτα ). And it is imagined that our evangelists amused themselves by making these petty changes in a common text!
3 d. Luke 9:34-36. The Divine Voice.
Here we have the culminating point of this scene. As the last sigh of the dying Christian is received by the Lord, who comes for him (John 14:3; Act 7:55-56 ), so the presence of God is manifested at the moment of the glorification of Jesus.
The cloud is no ordinary cloud; it is the veil in which God invests Himself when He appears here below. We meet with it in the desert and at the inauguration of the temple; we shall meet with it again at the ascension. Matthew calls it a bright cloud; nevertheless he says, with the two others, that it overshadowed this scene. His meaning is, that the brightness of the central light pierced through the cloudy covering which cast its mysterious shadow on the scene. If with the T. R. we read ἐκείνους , only Jesus, Moses, and Elijah were enveloped in the cloud, and the fear felt by the disciples proceeded from uneasiness at being separated from their Master. But if with the Alex. we read αὐτούς , all six were enveloped in an instant by the cloud, and the fear which seized the apostles was caused by their vivid sense of the divine nearness. The former meaning is more natural; for the voice coming forth out of the cloud could scarcely be addressed to any but persons who were themselves outside the cloud.
The form of the divine declaration is very nearly the same in the three accounts. The Alex. reading in Luke: this is my Elect, is preferable to the received reading: this is my beloved Son, which is taken either from the two other narratives, or from the divine salutation at the baptism. It is a question here of the elect in an absolute sense, in opposition to servants, like Moses and Elijah, chosen for a special work. Comp. Luke 23:35. The exhortation: Hear Him, is the repetition of that by which Moses, Deuteronomy 18:15, charged Israel to welcome at some future day the teaching of the Messiah. This last word indicates the design of the whole scene: “Hear Him, whatever He may say to you; follow in His path, wherever He may lead you.” We have only to call to mind the words of Peter: “ Be it far from Thee, Lord! this shall not be unto Thee,” in the preceding conversation, to feel the true bearing of this divine admonition.
We find here again the realization of a law which occurs throughout the life of Jesus; it is this, that every act of voluntary humiliation on the part of the Son is met by a corresponding act of glorification, of which He is the object, on the part of the Father. He goes down into the waters of the Jordan, devoting Himself to death; God addresses Him as His well-beloved Son. In John 12:0, in the midst of the trouble of His soul, He renews His vow to be faithful unto death; a voice from heaven answers Him with the most magnificent promise for His filial heart.
Matthew mentions here the feeling of fear which the other two mention earlier.
The word: Jesus only, Luke 9:36, is common to the three narratives. It is a forcible expression of the feeling of those who witnessed the scene after the disappearing of the celestial visitants; see on Luke 2:15. Does it contain any allusion to the idea which has been made the very soul of the narrative: The law and the prophets pass away; Jesus and His word alone remain? To me it appears doubtful.
The silence kept at first by the apostles is accounted for in Matthew and Mark by a positive command of Jesus. The Lord's intention, doubtless, was to prevent the carnal excitement which the account of such a scene might produce in the hearts of the other apostles and in the minds of the people. After the resurrection and the ascension, there would no longer be anything dangerous in the account of the transfiguration. The risen One could not be a king of this world. Luke does not mention Jesus' prohibition; he had no reason for omitting it, had he known of it. The omission of the following conversation respecting the coming of Elijah may be accounted for, on the other hand, as intentional. This idea being current only amongst the Jews, Luke might not think it necessary to record for Gentile readers the conversation to which it had given rise. Besides, Luk 1:17 already contained a summary of what there was to be said on this subject. This entire scene, then, in each of its phases, conduced to the object which Jesus had in view the strengthening of the faith of His own. In the first, the contemplation of His glory; in the second, the sanction of that way of sorrow into which He was to enter and take them with Him; in the third, the divine approval stamped on all His teaching: these were powerful supports for the faith of the three principal apostles, which, once confirmed, became, apart from words, the support of the faith of their weaker fellow-disciples.
The objections to the reality of the transfiguration are: 1. Its magical character and uselessness: Why, asks Keim, should there be a sign from heaven on this grand scale, when Jesus always refused to grant any such prodigy!
But nowhere, perhaps, does the sound reasonableness of the gospel come out more clearly than in this narrative; glorification is as much the normal termination of a holy life, as death is of corrupt life. The design with which this manifestation, which might have been concealed from the disciples, was displayed to them, appears from its connection with the previous conversation respecting the sufferings of the Messiah. 2. The impossibility of the reappearing of beings who have long been dead (see on Luk 9:30 ). 3. A real appearing of Elijah would be an actual contradiction to the following conversation (in Matthew and Mark), in which Jesus denies the return of this prophet in person, as expected by the rabbis and the people. These are the arguments of Bleek and Keim.
But what Jesus denies in the following conversation is not a temporary appearance, like that of the transfiguration, but Elijah's return to life on earth in order to fulfil a new ministry. This is what John the Baptist had accomplished ( Luk 1:17 ). 4. The silence of John, who must have conceived of the glory of Jesus in a more spiritual manner.
Is it to be believed that this objection can be raised by the same critic who blames John for the magical character of the miracles which he relates, and denies their reality for this reason? The transfiguration, along with many other incidents (the choice of the Twelve, the institution of baptism and the Lord's Supper, etc.), is omitted by John for the simple reason that they were sufficiently known through the Syn., and did not necessarily enter into the plan of his book. 5. “The artificial character of the narrative appears from its resemblance to certain narratives of the O. T.” (Keim). And yet this very Keim disputes the reality of the appearing of Moses and Elijah, on the ground that apparitions of the dead are not warranted by the O. T.! But how is the existence of our three narratives to be explained? Paulus reduces the whole to a natural incident. He supposes an interview of Jesus with two unknown friends with whom He had made an appointment on the mountain. The reflection of the rising or setting sun on the snows of Hermon, followed by a sudden clap of thunder, occasioned all the rest. But who were those secret friends more closely connected with Jesus than His most intimate apostles? This explanation only results in making this scene a got-up affair, and Jesus a charlatan. It is abandoned at the present day. Weisse, Strauss, and Keim regard the transfiguration as nothing but an invention of mythical origin, designed to represent the moral glory of Jesus under images derived from the history of Moses and Elijah. But they can never explain how the Church created a picture so complete as this out of fragments of O. T. narrative. And how could a mythical narrative occur in the midst of such precise historical notes of time as those in which it is contained in the three narrations ( six or eight days after the conversation at Caesarea, on the one hand; the eve of the cure of the lunatic child, on the other)? And Jesus' strict injunction forbidding His apostles to publish an event which never took place! We must pass here, as everywhere else, from the mythical theory to the supposition of imposture. And Peter's absurd speech would the Church have been likely to make its founder speak after this fashion? Lastly, others have regarded the transfiguration simply as a dream of Peter's. But did the two other apostles have the same dream at the same time? And would Jesus have attached such importance to a disciple's dream as to have strictly prohibited him from relating it until after His resurrection from the dead? All these fruitless attempts prove that the denial of the fact has also its difficulties.
From innocence to holiness, and from holiness to glory; here we have the normal development of human existence, its royal path. The transfiguration, at the culminating point of the life of Jesus, shows that once at least this ideal has been realized in the history of humanity.
This narrative is one of those in which we can most clearly establish the originality and superior character of Luke's sources of information. Certainly, he has neither derived his matter from the two other evangelists, nor from a document common to all three. This is evident from these two expressions: eight days after, and the elect of God ( Luk 9:28 and Luk 9:35 ). The details by which Luke determines for us the precise object of this scene, and the subject of Jesus' conversation with Moses and Elijah, as well as the picture he gives of the state of the disciples, are such inimitable touches, and are so suggestive for purposes of interpretation, that criticism must renounce its mission as a search after historic truth, or else decide to accord to Luke the possession of independent sources of information closely connected with the fact.
The transfiguration is the end and seal of the Galilean ministry, and at the same time the opening of the history of the passion in our three Gospels.
Vers. 37-40. The Request.
The sleep with which the disciples were overcome, as well as Peter's offer to Jesus, Luke 9:33, appear to us to prove that the transfiguration had taken place either in the evening or during the night. Jesus and His three companions came down from the mountain the next morning. A great multitude awaited them. Nevertheless, according to Mark, the arrival of Jesus excited a feeling of surprise. This impression might be attributed to a lingering reflection of glory, which still illumined His person. But a more natural explanation of it is the violent scene which had just taken place before all this crowd, which gave a peculiar opportuneness to the arrival of the Master. Matthew omits all these details, and goes straight to the fact.
The symptoms of the malady, rigidity, foaming, and cries, show to what kind of physical disorder it belonged; it was a species of epilepsy. But the 42d verse and the conversation following, in Matthew and Mark, prove that in the belief of Jesus the disorder of the nervous system was either the cause or the effect of a mental condition, of the same kind as those of which we have already had several examples ( Luk 4:33 et seq., Luk 8:26 et seq.). According to Matthew, the attacks were of a periodical character, and were connected with the phases of the moon ( σεληνιάζεται ). Mark adds three items to the description of the malady: dumbness (in the expression dumb demon there is a confusion of the cause with the effect; comp. Luke 8:12-14; Luke 8:23, for examples of similar confusion), grinding of the teeth, and wasting away. These are common symptoms in epilepsy.
The disciples had found themselves powerless to deal with a malady so deep-seated (it dated from the young man's childhood, Mar 9:21 ); and the presence of certain scribes (see Mark), who no doubt had not spared their sarcasm either against them or their Master, had both humiliated and exasperated them. The expectation of the people was therefore highly excited.
What a contrast for Jesus between the hours of divine peace which He had just spent in communion with heaven, and the spectacle of the distress of this father, and of the various passions which were raging around him!
5. The Cure of the Lunatic Child: Luke 9:37-43 a.
The following narrative is closely connected with the preceding in the three Syn. ( Mat 17:14 et seq.; Mar 9:14 et seq.). There was a moral contrast which had helped tradition to keep the chronological thread.
Vers. 41-43 a. The Answer.
The severe exclamation of Jesus: Faithless and perverse generation, etc., has been applied to the disciples (Meyer); to the scribes (Calvin); to the father (Chrysostom, Grotius, Neander, De Wette); to the people (Olshausen). The father in Mark acknowledges his unbelief; the scribes were completely under the power of this disposition; the people had been shaken by their influence; lastly, the disciples so in Matthew Jesus expressly tells them when the scene was over had been defeated in this case by their want of faith. All these various explanations, therefore, may be maintained. And the expression, γενέα , generation, the contemporary race, is sufficiently wide to comprehend all the persons present. After enjoying fellowship with celestial beings, Jesus suddenly finds Himself in the midst of a world where unbelief prevails in all its various degrees. It is therefore the contrast, not between one man and another, but between this entire humanity alienated from God, in the midst of which He finds Himself, and the inhabitants of heaven whom He has just left, which wrings from Him this mournful exclamation. Διεστραμμένη , perverse, an expression borrowed from Deuteronomy 32:5.
The twice repeated question, how long...? is also explained by the contrast to the preceding scene. It is not an expression of impatience. The scene of the transfiguration has just proved, that if Jesus is still upon the earth, it is by His own free will. The term suffer you implies as much. But He feels Himself a stranger in the midst of this unbelief, and He cannot suppress a sigh for the time when His filial and fraternal heart will be no longer chilled at every moment by exhibitions of feeling opposed to His most cherished aspirations. The holy enjoyment of the night before has, as it were, made Him home-sick. Πρὸς ὑμᾶς , amongst you, in Luke and Mark, expresses a more active relation than μεθ᾿ ὑμῶν , with you, in Matthew.
The command: Bring thy son hither, has something abrupt in it. Jesus seems anxious to shake off the painful feeling which possesses Him; comp. a similar expression, John 11:34.
There is a kind of gradation in the three narratives. Matthew, without mentioning the preceding attack, merely relates the cure; the essential thing for him is the conversation of Jesus with His disciples which followed. In Luke, the narrative of the cure is preceded by a description of the attack. Lastly, Mark, in describing the attack, relates the remarkable conversation which Jesus had with the father of the child. This conversation, which bears the highest marks of authenticity, neither allows us to admit that Mark drew his account from either of the others, or that they had his narrative, or a narrative anything like his, in their possession; how could Luke especially have voluntarily omitted such details?
We shall not analyze here the dialogue in Mark in which Jesus suddenly changes the question, whether He has power to heal, into another, whether His questioner has power to believe; after which, the latter, terrified at the responsibility thrown upon him by this turn being given to the question, invokes with anguish the power of Jesus to help his faith, which appears to him no better than unbelief. Nothing more profound or exquisite has come from the pen of any evangelist. It is the very photography of the human and paternal heart. And we are to suppose that the other evangelists had this masterpiece of Mark's before their eyes, and mutilated it!
We find these two incidents in Luke mentioned also in the raising of the widow of Nain's son: an only son ( Luk 9:38 ): and He gave him to his father ( Luk 9:42 ). “They belong to Luke's manner,” says the critic. But ought not the original and characteristic details with which our Gospel is full to inspire a little more confidence in his narratives?
The conversation which followed this miracle, and which Luke omits, is one of the passages in which the unbelief of the apostles is most severely blamed. This omission does not prove, at any rate, that the sacred writer was animated with that feeling of ill-will towards the Twelve which criticism imputes to him.
1 st. The Second Announcement of the Passion: Luke 9:43-45; Luke 9:43-45.
We may infer from the two other Syn. (Matthew 17:22-23; Mar 9:30-32 ), more especially from Mark, that it was during the return from Caesarea Philippi to Capernaum that Jesus had this second conversation with His disciples respecting His sufferings. Luke places it in connection with the state of excitement into which the minds of those who were with Jesus had been thrown by the preceding miracles. The Lord desires to suppress this dangerous excitement in the hearts of His disciples. And we can understand, therefore, why this time Jesus makes no mention of the resurrection (comp. Luk 9:22 ). By the pronoun ὑμεῖς , you, He distinguishes the apostles from the multitude: “You who ought to know the real state of things.” The expression θέσθε εἰς τὰ ὦτα , literally, put this into your ears, is very forcible. “If even you do not understand it, nevertheless impress it on your memory; keep it as a saying.”
The sayings which they are thus to preserve, are those which are summarized in this very 44th verse, and not, as Meyer would have us think, the enthusiastic utterances of the people to which allusion is made in Luke 9:43. The for which follows is not opposed to this meaning, which is the only natural one: “Remember these sayings; for incredible as they appear to you, they will not fail to be realized.”
The term, be delivered into the hands of men, refers to the counsel of God, and not to the treachery of Judas.
They can know very little of the influence exercised by the will on the reason who find a difficulty in the want of understanding shown by the disciples ( Luk 9:45 ). The prospect which Jesus put before them was regarded with aversion ( Mat 5:23 ), and consequently they refused to pay any serious attention to it, or even to question Jesus about it ( Mar 5:32 ). Nothing more fully accords with psychological experience than this moral phenomenon indicated afresh by Luke. The following narrative will prove its reality. The ἵνα , in order that, Luke 9:45, does not signify simply, so that. The idea of purpose implied in this conjunction refers to the providential dispensation which permitted this blindness.
2 d. The question: Which is the greatest? Luke 9:46-48.
This incident also must belong, according to Matthew and Mark, to the same time ( Mat 18:1 et seq.; Mar 9:33 et seq.). According to Mark, the dispute on this question had taken place on the road, during their return from Caesarea to Capernaum. “ What were ye talking about by the way? ” Jesus asked them after their arrival ( Luk 9:33 ); and it was then that the following scene took place in a house which, according to Matthew, was probably Peter's. We have several other indications of a serious dispute between the disciples happening about this time; for example, that admonition preserved by Mark at the end of the discourse spoken by Jesus on this occasion ( Luk 9:50 ): “ Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace among yourselves; ” then there is the instruction of Jesus on the conduct to be pursued in the case of offences between brethren, Matthew 18:15: “ If thy brother sin against thee...; ” lastly, the question of Peter: “ How many times am I to forgive my brother? ” and the answer of Jesus, Luke 18:21-22. All these sayings belong to the period of the return to Capernaum, and are indications of a serious altercation between the disciples. According to the highly dramatic account of Mark, it is Jesus Himself who takes the initiative, and who questions them as to the subject of their dispute. Shame-stricken, like guilty children, at first they are silent; then they make up their minds to avow what the question was about which they had quarrelled. Each had put forward his claims to the first place, and depreciated those of the rest. Peter had been the most eager and, perhaps, the most severely handled. We see how superficial was the impression made on them by the announcement of their Master's sufferings. Jesus then seated Himself ( Mar 9:35 ), and gathering the Twelve about Him, gave them the following instruction. All these circumstances are omitted by Matthew. In his concise way of dealing with facts, contrary to all moral probability, he puts the question: Which of us is the greatest? into the mouth of the disciples who address it to Jesus. All he regards as important is the teaching given on the occasion. As to Luke, Bleek, pressing the words ἐν αὐτοῖς , in them, supposes that, according to him, we have simply to do with the thoughts which had arisen in the hearts of the disciples (comp. Luke 9:47, τῆς καρδίας ), and not with any outward quarrel. But the term εἰσῆλθε , occurred, indicates a positive fact, just such as that Mark so graphically describes; and the expression in them, or among them, applies to the circle of the disciples in the midst of which this discussion had taken place.
Jesus takes a child, and makes him the subject of His demonstration. It is a law of heaven, that the feeblest creature here below shall enjoy the largest measure of heavenly help and tenderness ( Mat 18:10 ). In conformity with this law of heaven, Jesus avows a peculiar interest in children, and commends them to the special care of His own people. Whoever entering into His views receives them as such, receives Him. He receives Jesus as the riches which have come to fill the void of his own existence, which in itself is so poor, and in Jesus, God, who, as a consequence of the same principle, is the constant complement of the existence of Jesus ( Joh 6:57 ). Consequently, for a man to devote himself from love to Jesus to the service of the little ones, and so make himself the least, is to be on the road towards possessing God most completely, and becoming the greatest.
The meaning of Jesus' words in Matthew is somewhat different, at least as far as concerns the first part of the answer. Here Jesus lays down as the measure of true greatness, not a tender sympathy for the little, but the feeling of one's own littleness. The child set in the midst is not presented to the disciples as one in whom they are to interest themselves, but as an example of the feeling with which they must themselves be possessed. It is an invitation to return to their infantine humility and simplicity, rather than to love the little ones. It is only in the 5th verse that Matthew passes from this idea, by a natural transition, to that which is contained in the answer of Jesus as given by Luke and Mark. It is probable that the first part of the answer in Matthew is borrowed from another scene, which we find occurring later in Mark ( Mar 10:13-16 ) and Luke ( Luk 18:15-17 ), as well as in Matthew himself ( Luk 19:13-15 ); this Gospel combines here, as usual, in a single discourse elements belonging to different occasions. Meyer thinks that in this expression, receive in my name, the in my name refers not to the disposition of him who receives, but of him who is received, in so far as he presents himself as a disciple of Jesus. But these two notions: presenting oneself in the name of Jesus (consciously or unconsciously), and being received in this name, cannot be opposed one to the other. As soon as the welcome takes place, one becomes united with the other.
The Alex. reading ἐστί , is, is more spiritual than the Byz. ἔσται , shall be, which has an eschatological meaning. It is difficult to decide between them.
6. The three last Incidents of Jesus' Galilean Ministry: 9.43b-50.
3 d. The Dissenting Disciple: Luke 9:49-50.
Only in some very rare cases does John play an active part in the Gospel history. But he appears to have been at this time in a state of great excitement; comp. the incident which immediately follows ( Luk 9:54 et seq.), and another a little later ( Mat 20:20 et seq.). He had no doubt been one of the principal actors in the incident related here by himself, and which might very easily have had some connection with the dispute which had just been going on. The link of connection is more simple than criticism imagines. The importance which Jesus had just attributed to His name in the preceding answer, makes John fear that he has violated by his rashness the majesty of this august name. When once in the way of confession, he feels that he must make a clean breast of it. This connection is indicated by the terms ἀποκριθείς (Luke) and ἀπεκρίθη (Mark). This incident, placed here in close connection with the preceding, helps us to understand some parts of the lengthened discourse, Matthew 18:0, which certainly belongs to this period. These little ones, whom care must be taken not to offend ( Luk 9:6 ), whom the good Shepherd seeks to save ( Luk 9:11-13 ), and of whom not one by God's will shall perish ( Luk 9:14 ), are doubtless beginners in the faith, such as he was towards whom the apostles had shown such intolerance. Thus it very often happens, that by bringing together separate stones scattered about in our three narratives, we succeed in reconstructing large portions of the edifice, and then, by joining it to the Gospel of John, the entire building.
The fact here mentioned is particularly interesting. “We see,” as Meyer says, “that even outside the circle of the permanent disciples of Jesus there were men in whom His word and His works had called forth a higher and miraculous power; these sparks, which fell beyond the circle of His disciples, had made flames burst forth here and there away from the central fire.” Was it desirable to extinguish these fires? It was a delicate question. Such men, though they had never lived in the society of Jesus, acquired a certain authority, and might use it to disseminate error. With this legitimate fear on the part of the Twelve there was no doubt mingled a reprehensible feeling of jealousy. They no longer had the monopoly of the work of Christ. Jesus instantly discerned this taint of evil in the conduct which they had just pursued.
In Luke, as in Mark, instead of the aor. ἐκωλύσαμεν , we forbade him, some MSS. read the imperf. ἐκωλύομεν : “We were forbidding him, and thought we were doing right; were we deceived?” Their opposition was only tentative, inasmuch as Jesus had not sanctioned it. This is the preferable reading.
The answer of Jesus is full of broad and exalted feeling. The divine powers which emanate from Him could not be completely contained in any visible society, not even in that of the Twelve. The fact of spiritual union with Him takes precedence of social communion with the other disciples. So far from treating a man who makes use of His name as an adversary, he must rather be regarded, even in his isolated position, as a useful auxiliary.
Of the three readings offered by the MSS. in Luke 9:50, and which are also found in Mark ( against you for you; against you for us; against us for us), it appears to me that we must prefer the first: “He who is not against you, is for you. ” The authority of the Alex. MSS., which read in this way, is confirmed by that of the ancient versions, the Italic and the Peschito, and still more by the context. The person of Jesus is not in fact involved in this conflict, is it not in His name that the man acts? As a matter of fact, it is the Twelve who are concerned: “he followeth not with us; ” this is the grievance ( Luk 9:49 ). It is quite different in the similar and apparently contradictory saying (Luke 11:23; Mat 12:30 ): “ He who is not with me, is against me. ” The difference between these two declarations consists in this; in the second case, it is the personal honour of Jesus which is at stake. He opposes the expulsions of demons, which He effects, to those of the Jewish exorcists. These latter appear to be labouring with Him against a common enemy, but really they are strengthening the enemy. In the application which we might make of these maxims at the present day, the former would apply to brethren who, while separated from us ecclesiastically, are fighting with us for the cause of Christ; whilst the latter would apply to men who, although belonging to the same religious society as ourselves, are sapping the foundations of the gospel. We should have the sense to regard the first as allies, although found in a different camp; the others as enemies, although found in our own camp.
Mark introduces between the two parts of this reply a remarkable saying, the import of which is, that no one need fear that a man who does such works in the name of Jesus will readily pass over to the ranks of those who speak evil of Him, that is to say, of those who accuse Him of casting out devils by Beelzebub. After having invoked the name of Jesus in working a cure, to bring such an accusation against Jesus would be to accuse himself.
Nowhere, perhaps, is the fitting of the Syn. one into the other, albeit quite undesigned, more remarkable. In Matthew the words, without the occasion of them (the dispute between the disciples); in Luke the incident, with a brief saying having reference to it; in Mark the incident, with some very graphic and much more circumstantial details than in Luke, and a discourse which resembles in part that in Matthew, but differs from both by omissions and additions which are equally important. Is not the mutual independence of the three traditional narratives palpably proved?
First Cycle: The Departure from Galilee.
First Period of the Journey, Luk 9:51 to Luke 13:21 .
1. Unfavourable Reception by the Samaritans: Luke 9:51-56.
Ver. 51. Introduction.
The style of this verse is peculiarly impressive and solemn. The expressions ἐγένετο ... καὶ ἐστήριξε πρόσωπον στηρίζειν betray an Aramaic original. The verb συμπληροῦσθαι , to be fulfilled, means here, as in Acts 2:1, the gradual filling up of a series of days which form a complete period, and extend to a goal determined beforehand; comp. πλησθῆναι , Luke 2:21-22. The period here is that of the days of the departing of Jesus from this world; it began with the first announcement of His sufferings, and it had now reached one of its marked epochs, the departure from Galilee. The goal is the ἀνάληψις , the perfecting of Jesus; this expression combines the two ideas of His death and ascension. Those two events, of which the one is the complement of the other, form together the consummation of His return to the Father; comp. the same combination of ideas in ὑψωθῆναι and ὑπάγειν , John 3:14; John 8:28; John 12:32; John 13:3. For the plural ἡμέραι , Luke 1:21-22.
Wieseler (in his Synopsis) formerly gave to ἀνάληψις the meaning of good reception: “When the time of the favourable reception which He had found in Galilee was coming to an end.” But as this meaning would evidently require some such definition as ἐν Γαλιλαίᾳ , he now understands by ἡμέρ . ἀναλ ., “the days during which Jesus should have been received by men” ( Beiträge, etc., p. 127 et seq.). But how can we give to a substantive the meaning of a verb in the conditional? and besides, comp. Acts 1:2, which fixes the meaning of ἀνάληψις . On the other hand, when Meyer concludes from the passage in Acts that the ascension only is here referred to, he forgets the difference of context. In Acts 1:0 this meaning is evident, the death being already a past event; but here it is difficult to believe that the two events yet to come, by which the departure of Jesus to heaven ( ἀνάληψις ) was to be consummated, are not comprehended in this word.
The pronoun αὐτός , by emphasizing the subject, brings into prominence the free and deliberate character of this departure. On the καί of the apodosis, see vol. i. pp. 133, 136. This καί ( and He also) recalls the correspondence between the divine decree implied in the term συμπληροῦσθαι , to be fulfilled, and the free will with which Jesus conforms thereto. The phrase πρόσωπον στηρίζειν corresponds in the LXX. to שׂוּם פָּנִים ( Jer 21:10 ) or נָתַן פָּנִים ( Eze 6:2 ), dresser sa face vers (Ostervald), to give one's view an invariable direction towards an end. The expression supposes a fear to be surmounted, an energy to be displayed.
On the prepositional phrase to Jerusalem, comp. Luk 9:31 and Mark 10:32: “And they were in the way going up to Jerusalem; and Jesus went before them: and as they followed they were afraid.” To start for Jerusalem is to march to His death; Jesus knows it; the disciples have a presentiment of danger. This confirms our interpretation of ἀνάληψις .
FOURTH PART: JOURNEY FROM GALILEE TO JERUSALEM, Luk 9:51 to Luke 19:28 .
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.
Vers. 52-56. The Refusal.
This tentative message of Jesus does not prove, as Meyer and Bleek think, that He had the intention of penetrating farther into Samaria, and of going directly to Jerusalem in that way. He desired to do a work in the north of that province, like that which had succeeded so admirably in the south (John 4:0).
The sending of messengers was indispensable, on account of the numerous retinue which accompanied Him. The reading πόλιν ( Luk 9:52 ), though less supported, appears to us preferable to the reading κώμην , which is probably taken from Luke 9:56.
In general, the Samaritans put no obstacle in the way of Jews travelling through their country. It was even by this route, according to Josephus, that the Galileans usually went to Jerusalem; but Samaritan toleration did not go so far as to offer hospitality. The aim of Jesus was to remove the wall which for long centuries had separated the two peoples.
The Hebraism, τὸ πρόσωπον πορευόμενον ( Luk 9:53 ), פָּנִים הֹלְכִים (Exodus 33:14; 2Sa 17:11 ), proves an Aramaic document.
The conduct of James and John betrays a state of exaltation, which was perhaps still due to the impression produced by the transfiguration scene. The proposal which they make to Jesus seems to be related to the recent appearance of Elias. This remark does not lose its truth, even if the words, as did Elias, which several Alex. omit, are not authentic.
Perhaps this addition was meant to extenuate the fault of the disciples; but it may also have been left out to prevent the rebuke of Jesus from falling on the prophet, or because the Gnostics employed this passage against the authority of the O. T. (Tertullian, Adv. Marc. 4.23). The most natural supposition after all is, that the passage is an explanatory gloss.
Is the surname of sons of thunder, given by Jesus to James and John, to be dated from this circumstance? We think not. Jesus would not have perpetuated the memory of a fault committed by His two beloved disciples.
The phrase, He turned ( Luk 9:55 ), is explained by the fact that Jesus was walking at the head of the company.
A great many Alex. and Byz. MSS. agree in rejecting the last words of this verse, And said, Ye know not; but the oldest versions, the Itala and Peschito, confirm its authenticity; and it is probable that the cause of the omission is nothing else than the confounding of the words KAI EME with the following KAI ΕΠορεύθη . They may be understood in three ways: either interrogatively, “Know ye not what is the new spiritual reign which I bring in, and of which you are to be the instruments, that of meekness?” or affirmatively, with the same sense, “Ye know not yet...” The third meaning is much more severe: “Ye know not of what spirit you are the instruments when speaking thus; you think that you are working a miracle of faith in my service, but you are obeying a spirit alien from mine.” This last meaning, which is that of St. Augustine and of Calvin, is more in keeping with the expression ἐπετίμησεν , He rebuked them.
The following words ( Luk 9:56 ), For the Son of man is not come to destroy men's lives, but to save them, are wanting in the same authorities as the preceding, and in the Cantabrigian besides. It is a gloss brought in from Luk 19:10 and Matthew 18:11. In these words there are, besides, numerous variations, as is usual in interpolated passages. Here, probably, we have the beginning of those many alterations in the text which are remarked in this piece. The copyists, rendered distrustful by the first gloss, seem to have taken the liberty of making arbitrary corrections in the rest of the passage. The suspicion of Gnostic interpolations may have equally contributed to the same result.
Jesus offered, but did not impose Himself ( Luk 8:37 ); He withdrew. Was the other village where He was received Jewish or Samaritan? Jewish, most probably; otherwise the difference of treatment experienced in two villages belonging to the same people would have been more expressly emphasized.
1 st. Luke 9:57-58.
Luke says, a certain man; in Matthew it is a scribe. Why this difference, if they follow the same document?
The homage of the man breathed a blind confidence in his own strength. The answer of Jesus is a call to self-examination. To follow such a Master whithersoever He goeth, more is needed than a good resolution; he must walk in the way of self-mortification ( Luk 9:23 ). The word κατασκήνωσις strictly denotes shelter under foliage, as opposed to holes in the earth. Night by night Jesus received from the hand of His Father a resting-place, which He knew not in the morning; the beasts were better off in respect of comfort. The name Son of man is employed with precision here to bring out the contrast between the Lord of creation and His poorest subjects.
This offer and answer are certainly put more naturally at the time of final departure from Galilee, than at the beginning of a few hours' or a few days' excursion, as in Matthew.
2. The Three Disciples: Luke 9:57-62.
Two of these short episodes are also connected in Matthew (Matthew 8:0); but by him they are placed at the time when Jesus is setting out on His excursion into Decapolis. Meyer and Weizsäcker prefer the situation indicated by Matthew. The sequel will show what we are to think of that opinion.
2 d. Luke 9:59-60.
Luke says, another (individual); Matthew, another of His disciples.
The scribe had offered himself; this latter is addressed by Jesus. Luke alone indicates the contrast which the succeeding conversation explains. Here we have no more a man of impulse, presumptuous and without self-distrust. On the contrary, we have a character reflecting and wary even to excess. Jesus has more confidence in him than in the former; He stimulates instead of correcting him.
Could the answer which He gives him ( Luk 9:60 ) be altogether justified in the situation which Matthew indicates, and if what was contemplated was only a short expedition, in which this man without inconvenience could have taken part? In the position indicated by Luke, the whole aspect of the matter changes. The Lord is setting out, not again to return; will he who remains behind at this decisive moment ever rejoin Him? There are critical periods in the moral life, when that which is not done at the moment will never be done. The Spirit blows; its action over, the ship will never succeed in getting out of port. But, it is said, to bury a father is a sacred duty; Jesus has no right to set aside such a duty. But there may be conflicting duties; the law itself provided for one, in cases analogous to that which is before us. The high priest and the Nazarites, or consecrated ones, were not to pollute themselves for the dead, were it even their father or mother (Leviticus 21:11; Num 6:6-7 ); that is to say, they could neither touch the body to pay it the last duties, nor enter the house where it lay ( Num 19:14 ), nor take part in the funeral meal ( Hos 9:4 ). All that Jesus does here is to apply the moral principle implicitly laid down by the law, to wit, that in case of conflict, spiritual duty takes precedence of the law of propriety. If his country be attacked, a citizen will leave his father's body to run to the frontier; if his own life be threatened, the most devoted son will take to flight, leaving to others the care of paying the last honours to his father's remains. Jesus calls upon this man to do for the life of his soul what every son would do for that of his body. It must be remembered that the pollution contracted by the presence of a dead body lasted seven days ( Num 19:11-22 ). What would have happened to this man during these seven days? His impressions would have been chilled. Already Jesus saw him plunged anew in the tide of his ordinary life, lost to the kingdom of God. There was needed in this case a decision like that which Jesus had just taken Himself ( Luk 9:51 ). ᾿Απελθών (strictly, from the spot) is opposed to every desire of delay; the higher mission, the spiritual Nazariteship, begins immediately. From the word dead, on the double meaning of which the answer of Jesus turns, there is suggested the judgment which He passed on human nature before its renewal by the gospel. This saying is parallel to that other, “ If ye who are evil...,” and to Paul's declaration, “ Ye were dead in your sins...” ( Eph 2:1 ). The command, “ Preach the kingdom of God,” justifies, by the sublimity of the object, the sacrifice demanded. The διά in διάγγελλε indicates diffusion. The mission of the seventy disciples, which immediately follows, sets this command in its true light. Jesus had a place for this man to fill in that army of evangelists which He purposed to send before Him, and which at a later date was to labour in changing the aspect of the world. Everything in this scene is explained by the situation in which Luke places it.
Clement of Alexandria relates ( Strom. 3.4) that the name of this man was Philip. In any case, it could not have been the apostle of that name who had long been following Jesus (John 6:0); but might it not be the deacon Philip, who afterwards played so important a part as deacon and evangelist in the primitive Church? If it is so, we can understand why Jesus did not allow such a prize to escape Him.
3 d. Luke 9:61-62.
This third instance belongs only to Luke. It is, as it were, the synthesis of the two others. This man offers himself, like the first; and yet he temporizes like the second. The word ἀποτάσσεσθαι , strictly, to leave one's place in the ranks, rather denotes here separation from the members of his house, than renunciation of his goods ( Luk 14:33 ). The preposition εἰς , which follows τοῖς , is better explained by taking the pronoun in the masculine sense.
There are, in the answer of Jesus, at once a call to examine himself, and a summons to a more thorough decision. The figure is that of a man who, while engaged in labour (aor. ἐπιβαλών ), instead of keeping his eye on the furrow which he is drawing (pres. βλέπων ), looks behind at some object which attracts his interest. He is only half at work, and half work only will be the result. What will come of the divine work in the hands of a man who devotes himself to it with a heart preoccupied with other cares? A heroic impulse, without after-thought, is the condition of Christian service.
In the words, fit for the kingdom of God, the two ideas of self-discipline and of work to influence others are not separated, as indeed they form but one. This summons to entire renunciation is much more naturally explained by the situation of Luke than by that of Matthew.
Those three events had evidently been joined together by tradition, on account of their homogeneous nature, like the two Sabbatic scenes, Luke 6:1-11. They were examples of the discriminating wisdom with which Jesus treated the most diverse cases. This group of episodes was incorporated by the evangelists of the primitive Church in either of the traditional cycles indifferently. Accordingly, in Matthew it takes its place in the cycle of the Gadarene journey. Luke, more exact in his researches, has undoubtedly restored it to its true historical situation. For although the three events did not occur at the same time, as might appear to be the case if we were to take his narrative literally, all the three nevertheless belong to the same epoch, that of the final departure from Galilee. Holtzmann, who will have it that Matthew and Luke both borrowed this piece from the Logia, is obliged to ask why Matthew has cut off the third case? His answer is: Matthew imagined that this third personage was no other than the rich young man whose history he reckoned on giving later, in the form in which he found it in the other common source, the original Mark. Luke had not the same perspicacity; and hence he has twice related the same fact in two different forms. But the rich young man had no thought of asking Jesus to be allowed to follow Him; what filled his mind was the idea of some work to be done which would secure his salvation. The state of soul and the conversation are wholly different. At all events, if the fact was the same, it would be more natural to allow that it had taken two different forms in the tradition, and that Luke, not having the same sources as Matthew, reproduced both without suspecting their identity.
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Godet, Frédéric Louis. "Commentary on Luke 9". "Godet's Commentary on Selected Books". https://www.studylight.org/
the Third Sunday after Epiphany