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Bible Commentaries
Luke 7

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

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Verse 1

1. ] τὰ ῥήματα εἰς τ . ἀκ . for τὰ ῥηθέντα εἰς .… This, though there is no art. after αὐτοῦ , is better than to connect εἰς with ἐπλήρωσεν .

Verses 1-10

1 10. ] HEALING OF THE CENTURION’S SERVANT. Matthew 8:5-13 . In Matt. also placed after the Sermon on the Mount, but with the healing of the leper in our ch. Luke 5:12 ff. interposed. Our narrative is fuller than that in Matt. in the beginning of the miracle, not so full at the end. See notes on Matt.

Verse 3

3. ] πρεσβ ., not elders of the synagogue (who in Luke are ἀρχισυναγωγοί , Act 13:15 ), but of the people .

Verse 4

4. ] If the re [64] . reading παρέξ ει be retained, it must be remembered that it is not the second person of παρέξομαι (for which ὄψει , βούλει , οἴει are no precedents, being peculiar conventional forms), but third pers. fut. act . The second person in - ει does not occur in later Greek, with the above exceptions.

[64] The Textus Receptus or received text of the Greek Testament. Used in this Edition when elz and Steph agree

Verse 5

5. ] αὐτός , at his own expense. τὴν σ ., our synagogue.

Verse 7

7. ] διό , on account of his unworthiness; which unworthiness itself may be connected with the fact, that entering his house would entail ceremonial uncleanness till the evening. Matt. does not express this clause, having the narrative in a form which precludes it. See notes there.

The οὐδέ brings into emphasis, not ἐμαυτόν , as distinguished from others, but the whole following clause; “neither did I adopt that course.”

Verse 9

9. ] After this there is an important addition in Matt. on the adoption of the Gentiles, and rejection of Israel who shewed no such faith.

Verse 10

10. ] Here Matt. simply states the fact of the healing, [apparently] not knowing of the οἱ πεμφθ .

Verse 11

11. ἐν τῇ ἑξῆς ] With regard to the variety of reading here, Schulz remarks that St. Luke, when χρόνῳ is understood, uses ἐν τῷ καθεξῆς , see ch. Luke 8:1 . On the other hand Meyer observes that when ἡμέρᾳ is understood, he never prefixes ἐν : see reff.: so that internal as well as external evidence is divided.

NAIN occurs no where else in the Bible. It was a town of Galilee not far from Capernaum, a few miles to the south of Mount Tabor, ‘on the northern slope of the rugged and barren ridge of Little Hermon,’ Stanley. A poor village has been found in this situation with ruins of old buildings. See Robinson, iii. 226. The κώμη καλουμένη Ναΐν (or Ναΐς ) of Josephus, B. J. iv. 9. 4, on the borders of Idumea, is a different place. See Winer, Realw.; and Stanley’s description, Sinai and Palestine, p. 357, edn. 3.

This is one of the three greatest recorded miracles of our Lord: of which it has been observed, that He raised one (Jaeirus’s daughter) when just dead , one on the way to burial , and one (Lazarus) who had been buried four days .

Verses 11-16

11 16. ] RAISING OF A DEAD MAN AT NAIN. Peculiar to Luke .

Verse 12

12. ἐξεκ . ] The Jews ordinarily buried outside the gates of their cities. The kings however of the house of David were buried in the city of David; and it was a denunciation on Jehoiakim that he should be buried with the burial of an ass, drawn and cast forth beyond the gates of Jerusalem. Jeremiah 22:19 . “One entrance alone Nain could have had; that which opens on the rough hill side in its downward slope to the plain. It must have been in this steep descent,” &c. Stanley, ut supra. The usage of μονογενής with a dative is classical: cf. Herod. vii. 221, τὸν δὲ παῖδα … ἐόντα οἱ μουνογενέα : Æsch. Agam. 872, μονογενὲς τέκνον πατρί .

αὕτ . χήρα ] Some few cursive mss. read this in the dative (omg. ἦν ), καὶ αὐτῇ χήρᾳ (see also the readg. of [65] ): but even in this case it is more agreeable to Luke’s usage to take it as a nominative. See ch. Luke 2:25 ; Luke 2:36 , and accentuate, as there, αὕτη .

[65] 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 .

Verse 14

14. ] The σορός (= λάρναξ , Jos. Antt. xv. 3. 2) was an open coffin . There was something in the manner of our Lord which caused the bearers to stand still. We need not suppose any miraculous influence over them.

All three raisings from the dead are wrought with words of power, ‘Damsel, arise,’ ‘Young man, arise,’ ‘Lazarus, come forth.’ Trench quotes an eloquent passage from Massillon’s sermons (Miracles, p. 241), ‘Elie ressuscite des morts, c’est vrai; mais il est obligé de se coucher plusieurs fois sur le corps de l’enfant qu’il ressuscite: il souffle, il se rétrécit, il s’agite: on voit bien qu’il invoque une puissance étrangère; qu’il rappelle de l’empire de la mort une âme qui n’est pas soumise à sa voix: et qu’il n’est pas lui-même le maître de la mort et de la vie. Jésus-Christ ressuscite les morts comme il fait les actions les plus communes: il parle en maître à ceux qui dorment d’un sommeil éternel: et l’on sent bien qu’il est le Dieu des morts comme des vivans, jamais plus tranquille que lorsqu’il opère les plus grandes choses.’

Verse 15

15. ἔδ . αὐ . τῇ μ . αὐ . ] Doubtless there was a deeper reason than the mere consoling of the widow (of whom there were many in Israel now as beforetime), that influenced our Lord to work this miracle: Olshausen (vol. i. p. 271) remarks, “A reference in this miracle to the raised man himself is by no means excluded. Man, as a conscious being, can never be a mere means to an end, which would here be the case, if we suppose the consolation of the mother to have been the only object for which the young man was raised.” He goes on to say that the hidden intent was probably the spiritual awakening of the youth; which would impart a deeper meaning to ἔδωκεν αὐτ . τῇ μ . αὐ . and make her joy to be a true and abiding one.

Verse 16

16. ] φόβος , the natural result of witnessing a direct exhibition of divine power: compare ch. Luke 5:8 .

προφ . μέγ . ] For they had only been the greatest of prophets who had before raised the dead, Elijah and Elisha; and the Prophet who was to come was doubtless in their minds. Bornemann supposes ὅτι in both cases to be not merely ὅτι loquentis, but ‘for that,’ and to be connected with ἐδόξαζον (but qu.?).

Verse 17

17. ] Meyer refers ὁ λόγος οὗτος to the saying just cited: but it seems more natural to interpret it this account, viz. of the miracle. And so in reff. On the construction ἐξῆλθεν ἐν , Meyer cites Thuc. iv. 42, ἐν Λευκαδίᾳ ἀπῄεσαν .

Verses 18-35

18 35. ] MESSAGE OF ENQUIRY FROM THE BAPTIST: OUR LORD’S ANSWER, AND DISCOURSE TO THE MULTITUDES THEREON. Matthew 11:2-19 . The incident there holds a different place, coming after the sending out of the Twelve in ch. 10; but neither there nor here is it marked by any definite note of time. πάντων τούτων here may extend very wide: so may τὰ ἔργα τοῦ χριστοῦ in Matt. On the common parts, see notes on Matt., where I have discussed at length the probable reason of the enquiry.

Verse 21

21. ] This fact follows by inference from Matthew 11:4 ; for they could not tell John ἃ ἔβλεπον , unless our Lord were employed in works of healing at the time. Observe that Luke, himself a physician, distinguishes between the diseased and the possessed .

Verse 22

22 f.] Nearly verbatim as Matt. The expression νεκροὶ ἐγ . does not necessarily imply that more than one such miracle had taken place: the plural is generic.

Verses 24-28

24 28. ] See Matt.

Verses 29-30

29, 30. ] It has been imagined that these words are a continuation of our Lord’s discourse, (Grot., De Wette, Meyer, Bp. Wordsworth,) but surely they would thus be most unnatural. They are evidently a parenthetical insertion of the Evangelist, expressive not of what had taken place during John’s baptism, but of the present effect of our Lord’s discourse on the then assembled multitude. Their whole diction and form is historical , not belonging to discourse. Besides, if ἀκούσας were meant to signify ‘ when they heard him ’ (John), then βαπτισθ . should be βαπτιζόμενοι .

Verses 31-35

31 35. ] See on Matthew 11:16-19 .

Verses 36-38

36 38. ] The exact time and place are indeterminate the occasion of Luke’s inserting the history here may have been the φίλος τελωνῶν κ . ἁμαρτωλῶν in Luke 7:34 . Wieseler places it at Nain , which certainly is the last πόλις that has been named: but it is more natural to suppose τῇ πόλει to refer only to τῇ οἰκίᾳ before the city where the house was. Meyer thinks that the definite article points out Capernaum. The position of the words ἐν τ . πόλει in the amended text requires a different rendering from ‘a woman in the city which was a sinner.’ We must either render, ‘which was a sinner in the city,’ i.e. known as such in the place by public repute, carrying on a sinful occupation in the place, or (2) regard ἥτ . ἦν ἐν τ . πόλ . as parenthetic, ‘a woman which was in the city, a sinner.’ The latter seems preferable.

ἁμαρτωλός , in the sense usually understood a prostitute: but, by the context, penitent .

ἦν is not however to be taken as a pluperfect. She was , even up to this time (see Luk 7:39 ), a prostitute (compare Augustine, Serm. xcix. (xxiii.) 2, vol. v. “Accessit ad Dominum immunda, ut rediret munda:” which cannot, as Wordsw., be explained away by what follows, “accessit confessa, ut rediret professa.” The latter was a matter of course, otherwise she would not have come at all) and this was the first manifestation of her penitence. “Quid mirum, tales ad Christum confugisse, cum et ad Johannis baptismum venerint?” Matthew 21:32 (Grotius). It is possible, that the woman may have just heard the closing words of the discourse concerning John, Matthew 11:28-30 ; but I would not press this, on account of the obvious want of sequence in this part of our Gospel. The behaviour of the woman certainly implies that she had heard our Lord, and been awakened by His teaching.

ἀλάβ . μ . ] For the word, &c., see on Matthew 26:7 . Our Lord would, after the ordinary custom of persons at table, be reclining on a couch, on the left side, turned towards the table, and His feet would be behind Him. She seems to have embraced His feet (see Mat 28:9 ), as it was also the Jews’ custom to do by way of honour and affection to their Rabbis (see Wetstein on this passage), and kissed them, and in doing so to have shed abundant tears, which, falling on them, she wiped off with her hair. It does not appear that this latter was an intentional part of her honouring our Lord: had it been, there would hardly have been an article before δάκρυσιν . As it stands, τοῖς δάκρυσιν is the tears, implied in κλαίουσα , the tears which she shed, not ‘ her tears ,’ which would be δάκρυσιν only. The ointment here has a peculiar interest, as being the offering by a penitent of that which had been an accessory in her unhallowed work of sin.

Verses 36-50

36 50. ] ANOINTING OF JESUS’ FEET BY A PENITENT WOMAN. Peculiar to Luke . It is hardly possible to imagine that this history can relate to the same incident as that detailed Matthew 26:6 ; Mark 14:3 ; John 12:3 ; although such an opinion has been entertained from the earliest times. Origen on Matthew 26:6 ff., vol. iii. p. 892, mentions and controverts it. It has been held in modern times by Grotius, Schleiermacher, Ewald, and Hug: and recently by Bleek. But the only particular common to the two (unless indeed we account the name of the host to be such, which is hardly worth recounting), is the anointing itself; and even that is not strictly the same . The character of the woman , the description of the host , the sayings uttered , the time , all are different. And if the probability of this occurring twice is to be questioned, we may fairly say, that an action of this kind, which had been once commended by our Lord, was very likely to have been repeated , and especially at such a time as ‘six days before the last Passover,’ and by one anointing Him for His burial.

I may add, that there is not the least reason for supposing the woman in this incident to have been Mary Magdalene. The introduction of her as a new person so soon after (ch. Luk 8:2 ), and what is there stated of her, make the notion exceedingly improbable.

Verse 39

39. εἶπ . ἐν ἑαυ λέγων ] This phraseology is perhaps a mark of translation from the Hebrew.

The Pharisee assumes that our Lord did not know who, or of what sort, this woman was, and thence doubts His being a prophet (see Luk 7:16 ); the possibility of His knowing this and permitting it , never so much as occurs to him. It was the touching by an unclean person which constituted the defilement. This is all that the Pharisee fixes on: his offence is merely technical and ceremonial.

Verse 40

40. ] ἀποκριθείς perhaps to the disgust manifested in the Pharisee’s countenance; for that must have been the ground on which the narrative relates Luke 7:39 . We must not however forget that in similar cases ἰδὼν ὁ Ἰησ . τὰς ἐνθυμήσεις αὐτῶν is inserted ( Mat 9:4 ), and doubtless might also have been here.

There is an inner personal appeal in the words addressing the Pharisee. The calling by name the especial ἔχω σοί τι εἰπεῖν , refer to the inner thoughts of the heart , and at once bring the answer διδάσ ., εἰπέ , so different from οὗτος εἰ ἦν προφήτης .

Verse 41

41. ] We must remember that our Lord is here setting forth the matter primarily with reference to Simon’s subjective view of himself, and therefore not strictly as regards the actual comparative sinfulness of these two before God. Though however not to be pressed, the case may have been so: and, I am inclined to think, was so . The clear light of truth in which every word of His was spoken, will hardly allow us to suppose that such an admission would have been made to the Pharisee, if it had not really been so in fact. But see more below.

δύο χρ . ] The debtors are the prominent persons in the parable the creditor is necessary indeed to it, but is in the background . And this remark is important for on bearing it carefully in mind the right understanding of the parable depends. The Lord speaks from the position of the debtors , and applies to their case the considerations of ordinary gratitude and justice. And in doing so it is to be noticed, that he makes an assumption for the purpose of the parable: that sin = the sense of sin , just as a debt is felt to the amount of the debt. The disorganization of our moral nature, the deadly sedative effect of sin in lulling the conscience, which renders the greatest sinner the least ready for pemtence, does not here come into consideration; the examples being two persons, both aware of their debt . This assumption itself is absolutely necessary for the parable: for if forgiveness is to awaken love in proportion to the magnitude of that which is forgiven, sin in such a connexion must be the subjective debt which is felt to exist, not the objective one, the magnitude of which we never can know, but God only: see on Luk 7:47 below.

πεντακόσια πεντήκοντα a very different ratio from the ten thousand talents and the hundred pence in Matthew 18:21-35 , because there it is intended to shew us how insignificant our sins towards one another are in comparison with the offence of us all before God.

Verse 42

42. μὴ ἐχόντων ἐχαρίσατο ] What depth of meaning there is in these words, if we reflect WHO said them, and by what means this forgiveness was to be wrought! Observe that the μὴ ἐχ . is pregnant with more than at first appears: how is this incapacity discovered to the creditor in the parable? how, but by themselves? Here then is the sense and confession of sin; not a bare objective fact, followed by a decree of forgiveness: but the incapacity is an avowed one, the forgiveness is a personal one, ἀμφοτέροις .

τίς ουν …; ] The difficulty usually found in this question and its answer is not wholly removed by the subjective nature of the parable. For the sense of sin, if wholesome and rational, must bear a proportion, as indeed in this case it did, to the actual sins committed: and then we seem to come to the false conclusion, ‘The more sin, the more love: let us then sin, that we may love the more.’ And I believe this difficulty is to be removed by more accurately considering what the love is , which is here spoken of. It is an unquestionable fact, that the deepest penitents are, in one kind of love for Him who has forgiven them, the most devoted; in that, namely, which consists in personal sacrifice, and proofs of earnest attachment to the blessed Saviour and His cause on earth. But it is no less an unquestionable fact, that this love is not the highest form of the spiritual life; that such persons are, by their very course of sin, incapacitated from entering into the length, breadth, and height, and being filled with all the fulness of Christ; that their views are generally narrow, their aims onesided: that though ἀγάπη be the greatest of the Christian graces, there are various kinds of it; and though the love of the reclaimed profligate may be and is intense of its kind, (and how touching and beautiful its manifestations are, as here!) yet that kind is not so high nor complete as the sacrifice of the whole life , the bud, blossom, and fruit, to His service to whom we were in baptism dedicated. For even on the ground of the parable itself, in that life there is a continually freshened sense of the need, and the assurance, of pardon, ever awaking devoted and earnest love.

Verse 43

43. ] In the ὑπολαμβάνω of Simon, we have, understood, “that is, if they feel as they ought.”

Verses 44-46

44 46. ] It would not appear that Simon had been deficient in the ordinary courtesies paid by a host to his guests for these, though marks of honour sometimes paid, were not (even the washing of the feet, except when coming from a journey) invariably paid to guests: but that he had taken no particular pains to shew affection or reverence for his Guest. Respecting water for the feet, see Genesis 18:4 ; Judges 19:21 . Observe the contrasts here: ὕδωρ , δάκρυσιν (‘fudit lacrymas, sanguinem cordis,’ Aug [66] Serm. xcix. (xxiii.) 1, vol. v.), φίλημα οὐκ ἔδωκ . (on the face ), καταφιλοῦσα τοὺς πόδας : ἐλαίῳ τὴν κεφ ., μύρῳ (which was more precious) τοὺς πόδας .

[66] Augustine, Bp. of Hippo , 395 430

ἀφ ʼ ἧς εἰσῆλθ . ] These words will explain one difficulty in the circumstances of the anointing: how such a woman came into the guest-chamber of such a Pharisee.

She appears by them to have entered simultaneously with our Lord and His disciples . Nor do Luk 7:36-37 at all preclude this idea: ἐπιγνοῦσα ὅτι κατάκειται may mean, ‘having knowledge that He was going to dine,’ &c. If she came in His train, the Pharisee would not exclude her, as He was accustomed to gather such to hear Him: it was the touching at which he wondered.

Verse 47

47. ] This verse has been found very difficult to fit into the lesson conveyed by the Parable. But I think there need be little difficulty, if we regard it thus.

Simon had been offended at the uncleanness of the woman who touched our Lord. He, having given the Pharisee the instruction contained in the parable, and having drawn the contrast between the woman’s conduct and his, now assures him, ‘Wherefore, seeing this is so, I say unto thee, she is no longer unclean her many sins are forgiven: for (thou seest that) she loved much: her conduct towards Me shews that love, which is a token that her sins are forgiven.’ Thus the ὅτι is not the causative particle, ‘ because she loved much;’ but, as rightly rendered in E. V., for she loved much: for she has shewn that love, of which thou mayest conclude, from what thou hast heard, that it is the effect of a sense of forgiveness .’ Thus Bengel, ‘Remissio peccatorum, Simoni non cogitata, probatur a fructu , Luke 7:42 , qui est evidens et in oculos incurrit, quum illa sit occulta;’ and Calov., ‘probabat Christus a posteriori .’

But there is a deeper consideration in this solution, which the words of the Lord in Luk 7:48 bring before us. The sense of forgiveness of sin is not altogether correspondent to the sense of forgiveness of a debt . The latter must be altogether past, and a fact to be looked back on, to awaken gratitude: the former, by no means so. The expectation , the desire , and hope of forgiveness, the πίστις of Luke 7:50 , awoke this love; just as in our Christian life, the love daily awakened by a sense of forgiveness, yet is gathered under and summed up in a general faith and expectation, that ‘in that day’ all will be found to have been forgiven. The ἄφεσις τῶν ἁμαρτιῶν , into which we have been baptized, and in which we live, yet waits for that great ἀφέωνταί σου αἱ ἁμαρτίαι , which He will then pronounce.

The aorist ἠγάπησεν is in apposition with the aorists throughout Luke 7:44-46 , as referring to the same facts.

Remark that the assertion regarding Simon is not αἱ ὀλίγαι ἀφέωνται , but ὀλίγον ἀφίεται ; stamping the subjective character of the part relating to him: he felt , or cared about, but little forgiveness , and his little love shewed this to be so: on the whole, see Bleek’s note.

Verse 49

49. ] This appears to have been said, not in an hostile, but a reverential spirit. Perhaps the καί alludes to the miracles wrought in the presence of John’s messengers.

Verse 50

50. ] See on Luke 7:47 . The woman’s faith embraced as her own, and awoke her deepest love on account of, that forgiveness, which the Lord now first formally pronounced.

εἰς εἰρήνην , לְשָׁלוֹם 1 Samuel 1:17 ; not only ‘in peace,’ but implying the state of mind to which she might now look forward.

Bibliographical Information
Alford, Henry. "Commentary on Luke 7". Alford's Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/hac/luke-7.html. 1863-1878.
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