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Bible Commentaries
Luke 5

Alford's Greek Testament Critical Exegetical CommentaryAlford's Greek Testament Commentary

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Verses 1-11

1 11. ] THE MIRACULOUS DRAUGHT OF FISHES. CALL OF PETER AND THE SONS OF ZEBEDEE. The question at once meets us, whether this account, in its form here peculiar to Luke, is identical in its subject-matter with Matthew 4:18-22 , and Mark 1:16-20 . With regard to this, we may notice the following particulars. (1) Contrary to Schleiermacher’s inference (Trans. pp. 75, 76), it must be, I think, that of most readers, that a previous and close relation had subsisted between our Lord and Peter . The latter calls Him ἐπιστάτα (= ῥαββί ), and κύριε : evidently (Luke 5:5 , end) expects a miracle; and follows Him, with his partners, without any present express command so to do .

Still all this might be, and yet the account might be identical with the others. For our Lord had known Peter before this, John 1:41 ff.; and, in all probability, as one of His disciples. And although there is here no express command to follow, yet the words in Luk 5:10 may be, and are probably intended to be, equivalent to one. (2) The Evangelist evidently intends this as the first apostolic calling of Peter and his companions. The expressions in Luk 5:11 could not otherwise have been used. (3) There is yet the supposition, that the accounts in Matthew and Mark may be a shorter way of recounting this by persons who were not aware of these circumstances. But then such a supposition will not consist with that high degree of authority in those accounts, which I believe them to have: see note on Mark. (4) It seems to me that the truth of the matter is nearly this: that this event is distinct from , and happened at a later period than , the calling in Matt. and Mark; but that the four Apostles, when our Lord was at Capernaum, followed their occupation as fishermen. There is every thing to shew, in our account, that the calling had previously taken place; and the closing of it by the expression in Luk 5:11 merely indicates what there can be no difficulty in seeing even without it, that our present account is an imperfect one, written by one who found thus much recorded, and knowing it to be part of the history of the calling of the Apostles, appended to it the fact of their leaving all and following the Lord. As to the repetition of the assurance in Luke 5:10 , I see no more in it than this, which appears also from other passages in the Gospels, that the Apostles, as such, were not called or ordained at any special moment , or by any one word of power alone; but that in their case as well as ours, there was line upon line, precept upon precept: and that what was said generally to all four on the former occasion, by words only, was repeated to Peter on this, not only in words, but by a miracle. Does his fear, as expressed in Luke 5:8 , besides the reason assigned, indicate some previous slowness , or relaxation of his usually earnest attachment , of which he now becomes deeply ashamed? (5) It is also to be noticed that there is no chronological index to this narrative connecting it with what precedes or follows. It cannot well (see Luk 5:8 ) have taken place after the healing of Peter’s wife’s mother; and ( Luk 5:1 ) must have been after the crowd had now become accustomed to hear the Lord teach. (6) Also, that there is no mention of Andrew here, as in Luk 5:10 there surely would have been, if he had been present. (7) It will be seen how wholly irreconcilable either of the suppositions is with the idea that Luke used the Gospel of Matt., or that of Mark, in compiling his own.

Verse 2

2. ] ἔπλυνον , ‘ut peracto opere,’ Bengel: see Luke 5:5 .

Verse 4

4. ] ἐπανάγαγε , to Peter alone, who was the steersman of his ship; χαλάσατε , to the fishermen in the ship collectively (Me [46] .). So below also, χαλάσω , of the director, ποιήσαντες , of the doers of the act.

[46] Meyer.

5 ] νυκτός , the ordinary time of fishing: see John 21:3 .

Verse 6

6. ] διερήσσ ., was bursting had begun to burst. Similarly βυθίζεσθαι , Luke 5:7 .

Verse 7

7. ] They beckoned , on account of the distance; or perhaps for the reason given by Euthym [47] : μὴ δυνάμενοι λαλῆσαι ἀπὸ τῆς ἐκπλήξεως καὶ τοῦ φόβου .

[47] Euthymius Zigabenus, 1116

Verse 8

8. ] ἔξελθε ἀπ ʼ ἐμοῦ , depart from my ship. The speech is in exact keeping with the quick discernment, and expression of feeling, of Peter’s character. Similar sayings are found Exodus 20:18-19 ; Judges 13:22 ; 1 Kings 17:18 ; Isaiah 6:5 ; Daniel 10:17 .

This sense of unworthiness and self-loathing is ever the effect, in the depths of a heart not utterly hardened, of the Divine Power and presence. “Below this, is the utterly profane state, in which there is no contrast, no contradiction felt, between the holy and the unholy, between God and man. Above it, is the state of grace, in which the contradiction is felt, the deep gulf perceived, which divides between sinful man and an holy God, yet it is felt that this gulf is bridged over, that it is possible for the two to meet, that in One who is sharer with both, they have already been brought together.” Trench on the Miracles, in loc. The same writer remarks of the miracle itself, “Christ here appears as the ideal man , the second Adam of the eighth Psalm; ‘Thou madest him to have dominion over the works of Thy hands: Thou hast put all things under His feet … the fowl of the air, and the fish of the sea, and whatsoever walketh through the paths of the seas’ (Luke 5:6 ; Luk 5:8 ).”

Verse 10

10. ἔσῃ ζωγρῶν ] Compare, and indeed throughout this miracle, the striking parallel, and yet contrast, in John 21:0 with its injunction, ‘feed My lambs,’ ‘shepherd My sheep,’ given to the same Peter; its net which did not burst: and the minute and beautiful appropriateness of each will be seen: this, at, or near, the commencement of the Apostolic course; that, at how different, and how fitting a time!

It is perhaps too subtle, and hardly accordant with the rules of emphasis, to find (with Me [48] . and Stier) a fitness in ζωγρῶν as expressing the ethical catching of men. I prefer taking it as the word common to both acts merely as catch .

[48] Meyer.

Verse 12

12. ] πλήρης λ . (a touch of medical accuracy from the beloved physician) implies the soreness of the disease.

Verses 12-16

12 16. ] HEALING OF A LEPER. Matthew 8:2-4 .Mark 1:40-45; Mark 1:40-45 . In Matt. placed immediately after the Sermon on the Mount; in Mark and here, without any note of time: see notes on Matt.

Verse 14

14. ] A change of construction from the oblique to the direct: see reff.

Verse 15

15. ] The reason of this is stated in Mark 1:45 , to be the disobedience of the leper to the Lord’s command.

Verse 16

16. ] καὶ προσευχ . is peculiar to Luke, as often: see ch. Luke 3:21 ; Luke 6:12 ; Luke 9:18 ; Luke 11:1 .

This verse breaks off the sequence of the narrative.

Verse 17

17. ] ἐκ π . κώμ . not to be pressed: as we say, from all parts .

δύν . κυρ . ] Does this mean the power of God or the power of the Lord , i.e. Jesus? Me [49] . remarks that Luke uses κύριος frequently for Jesus, but always with the article: see ch. Luke 7:13 ; Luke 10:1 ; Luke 11:39 ; Luke 12:42 , alli [50] . fr.: but the same word, without the article, for the Most High; see ch. Luke 1:11 ; Luke 1:38 ; Luke 1:58 ; Luke 1:66 ; Luke 2:9 ; Luke 4:19 ; whence we conclude that the meaning is, the power of God (working in the Lord Jesus) was in the direction of His healing: i.e. wrought so that He exercised the powers of healing: and then a case follows. For construction, see reff.

[49] Meyer.

[50] alli= some cursive mss.

αὐτόν has apparently been altered to αὐτούς from its difficulty. It might indeed be said that - ους may have been altered to - ον from the apparent difficulty of all these mentioned needing healing. So uncertain are merely subjective considerations either way: and so necessary is it to adhere in such cases, where any uncertainty exists, simply and faithfully to antiquity, as our best existing guide.

Verses 17-26

17 26. ] HEALING OF A PARALYTIC. Matthew 9:2-8 . Mark 2:1-12 . This miracle is introduced by the indefinite words, καὶ ἐγ . ἐν μιᾷ τ . ἡμ .: see reff. In Mat 8:5 to Matthew 9:1 , a series of incidents are interposed. Our Lord there appears to have returned from the country of the Gadarenes and the miracle on the dæmoniac there, to ‘ His own city ,’ i.e. Capernaum. The order in Mark is the same as here, and his narrative contains the only decisive note of sequence (ch. Luk 4:35 ), which determines his order and that in the text to have been the actual one, and the events in Matthew 8:0 to be related out of their order.

Verse 18

18. ] Borne of four , Mark.

Verse 19

19. ] This description is that of an eye-witness. For the genitive of place, which is mostly poetical, see Kühner, Gramm. § 523.

Verse 20

20. ] On ἡ πίστις αὐτ . see note on Matthew 9:2 ; also on ἀφέωνται .

Verse 24

24. ] εἶπεν τῷ παρ ., probably not parenthetic: see in Matt.

Verse 26

26. ] παράδοξα = θαυμαστά , ἀπροσδόκητα , Hesych [51] Compare the close of the accounts in Matt. and Mark.

[51] Hesychius of Jerusalem, cent y . vi.

Verse 27

27. ] ἐθεάσ ., not merely ‘ He saw ,’ but He looked on, He observed.

Verses 27-39

27 39. ] CALLING OF LEVI. QUESTION RESPECTING FASTING. Matthew 9:9-17 . Mark 2:13-22 . For all common matter, the discussion of the identity of Matthew and Levi, &c. see notes on Matt. and Mark. I here only notice what is peculiar to Luke.

Verse 28

28. ] κατ . πάντα , not merely, ‘ having left his books and implements ,’ but generally used, and importing not so much a present objective relinquishment, as the mind with which he rose to follow.

Verse 29

29. ] This fact is only expressly mentioned here but may be directly inferred from Mark, and remotely from Matt. See on Matthew 9:10 .

Verse 33

33. ] On the difference in the persons who ask this question, see on Matt. and Mark.

καὶ δεήσεις ποι. ] See ch. Luke 11:1 . These prayers must be understood in connexion with an ascetic form of life, not as only the usual prayers of devout men.

Verse 34

34. ] I have remarked on the striking contrast between ποιῆσαι νηστεῦσαι and νηστεύσουσιν , on Matthew 9:15 .

Verse 35

35. καὶ ὅταν ] yea, days when …: so τινας καὶ συχνούς , Plato, Gorg. 455 c: ὀλίγου τινὸς ἀξία καὶ οὐδενός , ib. Apol. 23 A: see Hartung, Partikellehre, i. p. 145 f.

Verse 36

36. ] The latter part of this verse is peculiar, and is to be thus understood: ‘ if he does, he both will rend the new garment ’ (by taking out of it the ἐπίβλημα ), ‘ and the piece from the new garment will not agree with the old .’ The common interpretation (which makes τὸ καινόν the nom. to σχίσει , and understands τὸ παλαιόν as its accus.) is inconsistent with the construction, in which τὸ καινόν is to be coupled with ἱμάτιον , not with ἐπίβλημα . In Matt. and Mark the mischief done is differently expressed. Our text is very significant, and represents to us the spoiling of both systems by an attempt to engraft the new upon the old: the new loses its completeness; the old , its consistency.

Verse 39

39. ] This peculiar and important addition at once stamps our report with the very highest character for accuracy. Its apparent difficulty has perhaps caused its omission from Cod. [52] and mss. of the old Latin version. It contains the conclusion of the discourse , and the final answer to the question in Luke 5:33 , which is not given in Matt. and Mark. The πιόντες παλαιόν are the Jews , who had long been habituated to the old system; the νέος is the new wine (see on Matt.) of the grace and freedom of the Gospel: and our Lord asserts that this new wine was not palatable to the Jews, who said ὁ παλαιὸς χρηστός ἐστιν . Observe (against De Wette, &c.) that even with the common reading χρηστότερος there is no objective comparison whatever here between the old and new wine; the whole stress is on θέλει and λέγει γάρ , and the import of χρηστότερος is subjective: in the view of him who utters it . And even if we were to assume such an objective comparison, it makes no difficulty. In time, the new wine will become older: the man will become habituated to its taste, and the wine itself mellowed: and the comparison between the wines is not then which is the older , but which is intrinsically the better .

[52] The CODEX CANTABRIGIENSIS, or BEZÆ, so called because it was presented by Beza in 1581 to the University Library at Cambridge; where it is now exposed to view in a glass case. He procured it in 1562, from the monastery of St. Irenæus at Lyons. It is on parchment, and contains the Gospels and Acts, with a Latin version. Its lacunæ, which are many, will be perceived by the inner marginal letters in this edition. It once contained the Catholic Epistles: 3Jn 1:11-14 in Latin is all that now remains. It was edited with very accurate imitative types, at the expense of the University of Cambridge, by Dr. Kipling, in 1793. A new edition carefully revised and more generally accessible was published by Mr. Scrivener in 1864, and has been collated for this Edition. In the introduction some ten or twelve correctors are distinguished, whose readings are found in the notes at the end of the volume. The text of the Codex Bezæ is a very peculiar one, deviating more from the received readings and from the principal manuscript authorities than any other. It appears to have been written in France, and by a Latin transcriber ignorant of Greek, from many curious mistakes which occur in the text, and version attached. It is closely and singularly allied to the ancient Latin versions, so much so that some critics have supposed it to have been altered from the Latin: and certainly many of the phænomena of the MS. seem to bear out the idea. Where D differs in unimportant points from the other Greek MSS., the difference appears to be traceable to the influence of Latin forms and constructions. It has been observed, that in such cases it frequently agrees with the Latin codex e (see the list further on). Its peculiarities are so great, that in many passages, while the sense remains for the most part unaltered, hardly three words together are the same as in the commonly received text. And that these variations often arise from capricious alteration, is evident from the way in which the Gospels, in parallel passages, have been more than commonly interpolated from one another in this MS. The concurrence with the ancient Latin versions seems to point to a very early state of the text; and it is impossible to set aside the value of D as an index to its history; but in critical weight it ranks the lowest of the leading MSS. Its age has been very variously given: the general opinion now is that it was written in the latter end of the fifth or the sixth century .

Stier observes (i. 328), that the saying is a lesson for ardent and enthusiastic converts not to be disappointed, if they cannot at once instil their spirit into others about them.

As regards the readings , the sentence seems to have been tampered with by some who wished to make it more obvious, and to bring out the comparison more strongly: εὐθέως being inserted, better to correspond with the fact, and the matter in question, and the comparative substituted for the positive: but the sentence loses much of its point and vigour by the change: the old wine is not better than the new (which has not been tasted ), but merely good, i.e. good enough: therefore no new is desired.

Bibliographical Information
Alford, Henry. "Commentary on Luke 5". Alford's Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/hac/luke-5.html. 1863-1878.
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