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Bible Commentaries
Luke 5

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Verses 1-99

5:1-6:11. From the Call of the First Disciples to the Nomination of the Twelve

This section presents a symmetrical arrangement, which possibly is intentional. The call of a leading disciple (1-11) is followed by two healings which provoke controversy (12-16, 17-26); and then the call of another leading disciple (27-39) is followed by two incidents on the Sabbath, which again provoke controversy (6:1-5, 6-11).

5:1-11. The call of Simon. In Matthew 4:18-22 and Mark 1:16-20 the narrative is the call of Simon and Andrew, and of James and John. Here Andrew is not mentioned. And although all obey the call (ver. 11), yet Simon alone is addressed (vv. 4, 10). But the identity of this incident with that narrated by Mt. and Mk. can neither be affirmed nor denied with certainty. In Mt. and Mk. the disciples are fishing; here they are washing their nets before putting them away. The important point is that in all narratives those called are at work. Similarly, Levi is called from his busi ness. It would seem as if none of the Twelve were called when idle.

1. Ἐγένετο δέ. See detached note at the end of ch. 1. For τὸν ὄχλον see on 11:29; for ἐν τῷ τὸν ὄχλον ἐπικεῖσθαι see on 3:21; for τὸν λόγον τοῦ Θεοῦ see on 8:11; for καί introducing the apodosis see on 2:21; and for καὶ αὐτός see on ver. 14. All these points, with the analytical ἦν ἑστώς (1:7, 10, 20, 21, etc.), are characteristic of Lk. Not often do we find so many marks of his style in so small a compass. Comp. 8:22, 37, 40, 41. For the popular desire to behold Christ see on 4:42. With ἐπικεῖσθαι comp. 23:23; Acts 27:20; 1 Corinthians 9:16; Hebrews 9:10; Jos. Ant. xx. 5, 3. It is used in a literal sense John 11:38, John 21:9. Here it is mainly figurative, but it includes the notion of physical pressure. The αὐτός distinguishes Jesus from the ὄχλος comp. 4:15, 30.

παρὰ τὴν λίμνην Γεννησαρέτ. With characteristic accuracy Lk. never calls it a sea, while the others never call it a lake. Except in Rev. of the “lake of fire,” λίμνη in N.T. is peculiar to Lk, When he uses θάλασσα he means sea in the ordinary sense (17:2, 6, 21:25; Acts 4:24, etc).

In AV. of 1611 both here and Mark 6:53 the name appears as “Genesareth,” following the spelling of the Vulgate; but in Matthew 14:34. as “Genesaret.” The printers have corrected this to “Gennesaret.” in all three places. Γεννησαρέτ is the orthography of the best MSS. in all three places. Josephus writes both λίμνη Γεννησαρῖτις (Ant. xviii. 2, 1) and λίμνη Γεννησάρ (B. J. iii. 10, 7). 1 Mac. 11:67 we have τὸ ὔδωρ τοῦ Γεννησάρ. But in O.T the lake is called Θάλασσα Χενέρεθ (Numbers 34:11?; Joshua 12:3) from a town of that name near to it (Joshua 19:35). Josephus contrasts its fertility with the barrenness of the lower take in the Jordan valley (B. J. iv. 8, 2); the one is the “Sea of Life,” the other the “Sea of Death.” See Stanley’s fine description of “the most sacred sheet of water that this earth contains” (Sin. & Pal. pp. 368-378) Farrar, Life of Christ, 1. pp. 175-182; Conder, D. B.2 “Gennesaret.”

For παρά c. acc. after a verb of rest comp. 18:35; Acts 10:6, Acts 10:32; Hebrews 11:12: Xen. Anab. iii. 5, 1, vii. 2, 11.

With ἦν ἐστώς (which is the apodosis of ἐγένετο), καὶ εἶδεν is to be joined: “It came to pass that He was standing, and He saw.” It is very clumsy to make καὶ αὐτὸς ἦν ἐστώς parenthetical, and take καὶ εἶδεν as the apodosis of ἐγένετε.

2. οἱ δὲ ἁλεεῖς “But the sea-folk” (ἅλς) or “fishermen.” It is one of many Homeric words which seem to have gone out of use and then to have reappeared in late Greek. Fishing in the take has now almost ceased. The Arabs dislike the water. The washing of the nets was preparatory to hanging them up to dry. As distinct from νίπτω, which is used of washing part of the human body, and λούω, which is used of washing the whole of it, πλύνω is used of washing inanimate objects (Revelation 7:14, 22:14; Genesis 49:11; Exodus 19:10). In Leviticus 15:11 all three words are used with exactly this difference of meaning. Trench, Syn. xlv.

τὰ δίκτυα. The most general term for nets of all kinds, of which�Matthew 4:18) and σαγήνη (Matthew 13:47) are special varieties. Trench, Syn. lxiv.; D.B. art. “Net.”

3. ἐπαναγαγεῖν. The correct word for “putting off to sea” (2 Mac. 12:4?; Xen. Hellen. vi. 2, 28): elsewhere in N.T. only Matthew 21:18 in the sense of “return.” For the double preposition comp. ἐπανέρχομαι (10:35, 19:15) and ἐπαναπαύω (10:6). Christ uses Peter’s boat as a pulpit, whence to throw the net of the Gospel over His hearers. We have a similar scene Mark 4:1, and in both cases He sits to teach, as in the synagogue at Nazareth. Peter was probably steering, and therefore both before and after the sermon he is addressed as to the placing of the boat. But the letting down of the nets required more than one person, and hence the change to the plural (χαλάσατε). Non statim promittit Dominus capturam: explorat prius obsequia Simonis (Beng.).

5. Ἐπιστάτα Lk. alone uses ἐπιστάτης (8:24, 45, 9:33, 49, 17:13), and always in addresses to Christ. He never uses Παββεί, which is common in the other Gospels, esp. in Jn., but would no be so intelligible to Gentiles. The two words are not synonymous, ἐπιστάτης implying authority of any kind, and not merely that of a teacher. Here it is used of one who has a right to give orders.

διʼ ὅλης νυκτὸς κοπιάσαντες. Through the whole of the best time for fishing they had toiled fruitlessly. Only in bibl. Grk. has κοπιάω the meaning of “work with much effort, toil wearisomely” (12:27; Acts 20:35; Matthew 6:28; Joshua 24:13, etc.). The original meaning is “become exhausted, grow weary” (John 4:6). Clem. Alex. quotes a letter of Epicures, Μήτε νέος τις ὤν μελλέτω φιλοσοφεῖν, μήτε γέρων ὑπάρχων κοπιάτω φιλοσοφῶν (Strom. iv. 8, p. 594, ed. Potter).

ἐπὶ δὲ τῷ π̔ήματί σου χαλάσω τὰ δίκτυα. “But relying upon Thy word I will have the nets let down.” The “nevertheless” of AV. Cran. and Gen. is too strong: for that we should have πλήν (6:24, 35, etc.). For this use of ἐπί “on the strength of,” comp. 2:20; Acts 4:21. Win. xlviii. d, p. 491 The χαλάσατε and ποιήσαντες show that the χαλάσω includes the employment of others. Excepting Mark 2:4 and 2 Corinthians 11:33, χαλάω is peculiar to Lk. (vv. 4, 5; Acts 9:25, Acts 9:27:17, Acts 9:30). With the faith involved in χαλάσω τὰ δίκτνα we may compare κέλευσόν με ἐλθεῖν πρὸς σὲ ἐπὶ τὰ ὕδατα (Matthew 14:28).

6. συνεκλεισαν πλῆθος ἱχθύων πολύ. Not a miracle of creation, but at least of knowledge, even if Christ’s will did not bring the fish to the spot. In no miracle before the Resurrection does Jesus create; and we have no sufficient reason for believing that the food provided at the second miraculous draught of fishes was created (John 21:9-13). There is no exaggeration, as De Wette thinks, in, διερήσετο or in βυθίζεσθαι (ver. 7). The nets “were breaking,” i.e. beginning to break, when the help from the other boat prevented further mischief, and then both boats were overloaded. On the masses of fish to be seen in the lake see Tristram, Nat. Hist. of the Bible, P. 285, and D.B.2 p. 1074: “The density of the shoals of fish in the Lake of Galilee can scarcely be conceived by those who have not witnessed them. They sometimes cover an acre or more on the surface in one dense mass.”

The form π̔ήσσω occurs in poetry (Hom. Il. xviii.571, xxiv.454) and late rose (Strab. xi. 14. 8). It is a collat. form of π̔ήγνυμι (Veitch, s.v., and curtius, Etym. 511, 661): but see on 9:42.

7. κατένευσαν τοῖς μετόχοις. Possibly because they were too far off for a call to be heard. The other boat was still close to the shore (ver. 2), for Simon alone had been told to put out into deep water. The verb is freq. in Hom., and occurs in Hdt. and Plato, generally in the sense of “nod assent, grant.” Here only in N.T. Euthymius. suggests that they were too agitated to call.

Here and Hebrews 1:9 (from Psalms 44:8) we have μέτοχος as a subst. Comp. Hebrews 3:1, Hebrews 3:14, Hebrews 3:6:4, Hebrews 3:12:8: and see T. S. Evens on 1 Corinthians 10:16-18 in Speaker’s com. “As distinguished from κοινωνός (ver. 10; Hebrews 10:33), which suggests the 4 idea of personal fellowship, μέτοχος describes participation in some common blessing or privilege, or the like. The bond of union lies in that which is shared and not in the persons themselves” (Wsctt. on Hebrews 3:1). For συλλαβέσθαι in the sense of “assist” comp. Philippians 4:3. In Class. Grk. the act. is more common in this sense. For ἦλθαν see on 1:59.

ἔπλησαν�Acts 8:38, Acts 19:16, Acts 23:8); not in Mk. or Jn.“They filled both the boats, so that they began to sink”: comp. διερήσετο. The act is used 2 Mac. 12:4 of the sinking of persons; by Polybius (2:10, 5) of the sinking of ships; and 1 Timothy 6:9 of sending down to perdition. Nowhere else in N.T.

8. Σίμων Πέτρος προσέπεσεν τοῖς γόνασιν Ἰησοῦ. This is the only place in his Gospel in which Lk. gives Peter both names, and it is the first mention of the surname: see on 6:14. Syr-Sin. omits Πέτρος.

The constr. προσπίπτειν τοῖς γον. is quite classical (Eur. Or. 1332; comp. Mark 7:25; Soph. O. C. 1606); often with dat. of pers. (8:28, 47; Acts 16:29; Mark 3:11, Mark 5:33).


Peter does not regard himself as a criminal, but as a sinful man; and this miracle has brought home to him a new sense, both of his own sinfulness and of Christ’s holiness. It is not that he fears that Christ’s holiness is dangerous to a sinner (B. Weiss), but that the contrast between the two is felt to be so intense as to be intolerable. The presence of the sinless One is a reproach and a condemnation, rather than a peril; and therefore such cases as those of Gideon and Manoah (Judges 6:22, Judges 13:22), cited by Grotius and De Wette, are not quite parallel. Job (42:5, 6) is a better illustration; and Beng. compares the centurion (Matthew 8:8). The objection that Peter had witnessed the healing of his wife’s mother and other miracles, and therefore could not be so awestruck by this miracle, is baseless. It frequently happens that one experience touches the heart, after many that were similar to it have failed to do so. Perhaps, without being felt, they prepare the way. Moreover, this was a miracle in Peter’s own craft, and therefore was likely to make a special impression on him; just as the healing of a disease, known to the profession as incurable, would specially impress a physician.

κύριε. The change from ἐπιστάτα (see on ver 5) is remarkable, and quite in harmony with the change of circumstances. It is the “Master” whose orders must be obeyed, the “Lord” whose holiness causes moral agony to the sinner (Daniel 10:16). Grotius, followed by Trench, points out that the dominion over all nature, including “the fish of the sea, and whatsoever passeth through the paths of the seas” (Psalms 8:8), lost by Adam, is restored in Christ, the ideal man and the second Adam. But that Peter recognized this is more than we know. In what follows notice the characteristic πάντας and σύν.

9. ἐπὶ τῇ ἄγρᾳ τῶν ἰχθύων. This was the basis of their amazement: see small print on 2:33, and comp. Acts 14:3 and Romans 5:14 There is no need to make ἄγρα act. in ver. 4, “a catching,” and pass. here, “the thing caught.” “For a catch” in ver. 4; “at the catch of fish” here. If ὦν συνέλαβον (B D X, Goth.) is the true reading, both may be act. But if ᾖ συνέλαβον is right, then in both places ἄγρα is pass. In either case we have the idiomatic attraction of the relative which is so freq. in Lk. See small print on 3:19. The word is common in poetry both act and pass. Not in LXX, nor elsewhere in N.T. Note the change of meaning from συλλαβέσθαι in ver. 7 to συνέλαβον. The verb is freq. in Lk., but elsewhere rare in N.T.

10. Ἰάκωβον καὶ Ἰωάνην. The first mention of them by Lk. In Mt. and Mk. they were in their boat, mending their nets, when Jesus called them; and Mt adds that Zebedee was with them, which Mk. implies (1:20). For κοινωνοί see on ver. 7. Are they the same as the μέτοχοι? It is possible that Peter had his κοινωνοί in his boat, while the μέτοχοι were in the other boat. In any case the difference of word should be preserved in translation. This Tyn. Cran. and Gen. effect, with “fellows” for μέτοχοι and “partners” for κοινωνοί But Vulg. and Beza have socii for both; and RV. follows AV. with “partners” for both.

εἶπεν πρὸς τὸν Σίμωνα Ἰησοῦς. It is still Peter who is singled out for notice. Yet some critics affirm that it is the tendency of this Evangelist to depreciate Peter. For μὴ φοβοῦ see on 1:13: excepting Mark 5:36 and Revelation 1:17, Lk. alone uses the expression without an accusative. Peter’s sense of unworthiness was in itself a reason for courage. Quo magis sibi displirebat hoc magis Domino placet (Grotius).

ἀπὸ τοῦ νῦν. The present moment is a crisis in his life, of which he was reminded at the second miraculous draught of fishes, when the commission given to him now was restored to him after his fall. Excepting 2 Corinthians 5:16 and [John 8:11],�Acts 18:6) Comp. ἕως τοῦ νῦν (Matthew 24:21; Mark 13:19) and ἄχρι τοῦ νῦν (Romans 8:22; Philippians 1:5). Deissmann, Bible Studies, p. 253.

ἀνθρώπους ἔσῃ ζωγρῶν. Both substantive and verb have special point (men instead of fish; for life instead of for death); while the analytical tense marks the permanence of the new pursuit: comp. 1:20. This last is preserved in Rhem. “shaft be taking,” following Vulg. eris capiens. Beza seems to be alone in giving the full force of ζωγρῶν (ζωός and�2 Timothy 2:26, of the evil one. Comp. the exhortation of Socrates to Critobulus: Ἀλλὰ θαρρῶν πειρῶ�

11. καταγαγόντες τὰ πλοῖα. Like ἐπαναγαγεῖν in ver. 3, this is a nautical expression; freq. in Acts (9:30, 22:30, 23:15, 20, etc.). Comp.�

The fact that other disciples besides Peter obeyed the call and followed Jesus, is the main reason for identifying this narrative with Mark 1:16-20 and Matthew 4:18-22. All three have the important word�John 21:3), as if it was still atleast an occasional pursuit. But we must be content to remain in doubt as to the relation of this narrative to that of Mk. and Mt. See Weiss, Leben Jesu, I .iii. 4 Eng. tr. 2. PP. 54-59.

This uncertainty, however, need not be extended to the relation of this miracle to that recorded in John 21:1-14. It cannot be accepted as probable that, in the source from which Lk. drew, “the narrative of the call of Peter has been confused with that of his reinstatement in the office which had been entrusted to him, and so the history of the miraculous draught of fishes which is connected with the one has been united with the other.” The contrast between all the main features of the two miracles is too great to be explained by confused recollection. 1. There Jesus is not recognized at first; here He is known directly He approaches. 2. There He is on the shore; here He is in Peter’s boat. 3. There Peter and John are together; here they seem to be in different boats. 4. There Peter leaves the capture of the fish to others; here he is chief actor in it. 5. There the net is not broken; here it Isa_6. There the fish are caught close to the shore and brought to the shore; here they are caught in deep water and are taken into the boats. 7. There Peter rushes through the water to the Lord whom he had lately denied; here, though he had committed no such sin, he says, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord.” There is nothing improbable in two miracles of a similar kind, one granted to emphasize and illustrate the call, the other the re-call, of the chief Apostle.

The way in which the Fathers allegorize the two miracles is well known, the first of the Church Militant, the second of the Church Triumphant. R. A. Lipsius would have it that the first is an allegory of quite another kind, the main point of which is the μέτοχοι in the other boat. He assumes that James an John are in Peter’s boat, and explains thus. That Christ first teaches and then suddenly speaks of fishing, tells us that the fishing is symbolical. The fishing in deep water is the mission to the heathen, which Peter at first is unwilling (?) to undertake (comp. Acts 10:14). The marvellous draught after the night of fruitless toil is the conversion of many heathen after the failure of the mission to the Jews. This work is so great that Peter with the two other Apostles of the Jews axe unequal to it, and have to call Paul, Barnabas, and help them. Peter then recognizes his former unwillingness (?) as a sia, and both he and the sons of Zebedee are amazed at the success of the mission to the heathen (Galatians 2:9). Thus the rejection of Jesus by the people of Nazareth (4:29, 30), and His preaching “to the other cities also” (4:43) teach the same lesson as the miraculous draught; viz. the failure of the mission to the Jews and the success of the mission to the heathen (Jahrb. für prot.Theol. 1875, 1. p. 189). The whole is exceedingly forced, and an examination of the details shows that the do not fit. If the common view is correct, that James and John were the μέτοχοι in the other boat, the whole structure falls to the ground. Had Lk. intended to convey the meaning read into the narrative by Lipsius, he would not have left the point on which the whole is based so open to misconction. Keim on the whole agrees with Lipsius, and dogmatically asserts that “the artificial narrative of Lk. must unhesitatingly abandoned … It is full of subtle and ingenious invention … Its historical character collapses under the weight of so much that is artificial” (Jes. of Naz. 3. pp. 264, 265). Holtzmann also pronounces it to be “legendary and consciously allegorical” (in loco). Does Peter’s apprantly inconsistent conduct, beseeching Jesus to depart and yet abiding at His feet, look like invention?

12-16. The Healing of a Leper. Here we certainly have an incident which is recorded by all three Evangelists. The amount: of verbal agreement is very great, and we may confidently affirm that all three make use of common material. Mt. (8:1-4) is the most brief, Mk. (1:40-45) the most full; but Mt. is the only one who gives any note of time. He places the miracle just after Jesus had come down from delivering the Sermon on the Mount.

On the subject of Leprosy see H. V. Carter, Leprosy and Elephantiasis, 1874; Tilbury Fox, Skin Diseases, 1877; Kaposi, Hautkrankheiten, Wien, 1880; and the literature given at the end of art. Aussatz in Herzog; also in Hirsch, Handb. d. Pathologie, 1860.

12. καὶ ἰδού. Hebraistic; in Matthew 8:2, but not in Mark 1:40: the καί is the apodosis to ἐγένετο as in ver. 1. No verb follows the ἰδού as if the presence of the leper were a surprise. Had the man disregarded the law in approaching the crowd? Or had the people come upon him suddenly, before he could avoid them? What follows shows a third possibility. Syr-Sin. Omits καὶ ἰδού.

πλήρης λέρας. This particular is given only by the beloved physician. His face and hands would be covered with ulcers and sores, so that everyone could see that the hideous disease was at a very advanced stage. This perhaps accounts for the man’s venturing into the multitude, and for their not fleeing at his approach; for by a strange provision of the law, “if the leprosy break out abroad in the skin, and the leprosy cover all the skin of him that path the plague, from his head even to his feet … then the priest … shall pronounce him clean that hath the plague” (Leviticus 13:12, Leviticus 13:13).

ἐδεήθη αὐτοῦ. Excepting Matthew 9:38, the verb is peculiar in N.T. to Lk. and Paul. It is especially freq. in Lk. (8:28, 38, 9:38, 40, 10:2, etc). In LXX it represents a variety of Hebrew words, and is very common. Here Mk. has παρακαλῶν.

ἐὰν θέλῃς, δυνασαί με καθαρίσαι. All three accounts have these words, and the reply to them, Θέλω, καθαρίσθητι, without variation. The δύνασαι is evidence of strong faith in the Divine power of Jesus; for leprosy was believed to be incurable by human means. It was “the stroke” of God, and could not be removed by the hand of man. But it is characteristic of the man’s imperfect apprehension of Christ’s character, that he has more trust in His power than in His goodness. He doubts the will to heal. He says καθαρίσαι rather than θεραπεῦσαι or ἰάσασθαι because of the pollution which leprosy involved (Leviticus 13:45, Leviticus 13:46). In O.T. “unclean” and “clean,” not “sick” and “healed,” are the terms used about the leper. The old rationalistic explanation, that καθαρίσαι means “to pronounce clean,” and that the man was already cured, but wanted the great Rabbi of Nazareth to absolve him from the expensive and troublesome journey to Jerusalem, contradicts the plain statements of the Gospels. He was “full of leprosy” (Lk.); “immediately the leprosy departed from him” (Mk. Lk.). If καθαρίσαι means “to pronounce clean,” then καθαρίσθητι means “be thou pronounced clean.” Yet Jesus sends him to the priest (Lk. Mk. Mt.). Contrast the commands of Christ with the Prayers of Moses, Elijah, and Elisha, when they healed. See Deissmann, Bible Studies, p. 216.

13. ἐκτείνας τὴν χεῖρα. All three have this Hebraistic amplification. In LXX the phrase commonly occurs in connexion with an act of punishment: Exodus 7:5, Exodus 7:19, Exodus 7:8:1, Exodus 7:2, Exodus 7:9:22, Exodus 7:23, Exodus 7:10:12, Exodus 7:21, Exodus 7:22, Exodus 7:14:16, Exodus 7:21, 26, 27; Ezekiel 6:14, Ezekiel 6:14:9, Ezekiel 16:27, Ezekiel 25:7, Ezekiel 6:13, 16, 35:3; Zephaniah 1:4, Zephaniah 1:2:13; Jeremiah 6:12, Jeremiah 15:6. In N.T. it rarely has this meaning. Jesus touched the leper on the same principle as that on which He healed on the sabbath: the ceremonial law gives place to the law of charity when the two come into collision. His touch aided the leper’s faith.

ἡ λέπρα�

παρήγγειλεν. The word is specially used of commanders, whose orders are passed along the line (παρά), and is freq. in Lk. (8:29, 56, 9:21; Acts 1:4, Acts 1:4:18, Acts 1:5:28, 40, Acts 1:10:42, etc.); rare in Mt. (10:5, 15:35) and Mk. (6:8, 8:6); not in Jn. All the others use ἐντέλλεσθαι and Mt. κελεύειν, both of which are rare in Lk. Here Mt. and Mk. have λέγει.

μηδενὶ εἰπεῖν. The charge was given with emphasis (ὅρα μηδενὶ μηδὲν εἴπῃς) and sternness (ἐμβριμησάμενος), as Mk. tells us. The meaning of it is variously explained. To prevent (1) the man from having intercourse with others before being pronounced clean by proper authority; (2) the man from becoming proud through frequent telling of the amazing benefit bestowed upon him; (3) the priests from hearing of the miracle before the man arrived, and then deciding, out of hostility to Jesus, to deny the cure; (4) the people from becoming unhealthily excited about so great a miracle. Chrysostom and Euthymius suggest (5) that Christ was setting an example of humility, διδάσκων τὸ�Matthew 5:17); which implies that this had been said of Him. The command μηδενὶ μηδὲν εἴπῃς is further evidence that Jesus did not regard miracles as His chief credentials. And there are many such commands (8:56; Matthew 9:30, Matthew 9:12:16; Mark 1:34, Mark 3:12, Mark 5:43, Mark 7:36, Mark 8:26).

ἀλλὰ�Acts 1:4, Acts 1:23:22; Mark 6:8, Mark 6:9?; comp. Acts 17:3; Tobit 8:21; Xen. Anab. i. 3, 16, 20). Win. lxiii. 2, p. 725.

τῷ ἱερεῖ. As in the original (Leviticus 13:49), the sing. refers to the priest who was on duty at the time. Note the καθώς “exactly as”: the reference is to Leviticus 14:4-10, which enjoins rather expensive offerings. Comp. Matthew 1:24. For the form Μωυσῆς see on 2:22. This charge is in all three narratives almost in the same words. On its import see Hort, Judaistic Christianity, p. 30

καθαρισμοῦ. Emundatio (Vulg.), mundatio (f q) purgatio (a), purificatio (d).

εἰς μαρτύριον αὐτοῖς. This addition is in all three, and various explanations have been suggested. That (1) the priests may be onvinced of My Divine over; (2) the priests may see that I do of disregard the Law; (3) the people may be convinced that the cure is complete, and that the leper may be readmitted to society; (4) the people may see that I do not disregard the Law. It is the sacrifice which is the μαρτύριον, and top, and therefore the second or fourth explanation is to be preferred. Both may be right.1

15. διήρχετο δὲ μᾶλλον ὁ λόγος περὶ αὐτοῦ. Lk. does not state, as Mk. does, that this was owing to the man’s disobedience. Mt. omits both points. This use of διέρχομαι of the spreading of a report is quite classical (Thuc. vi. 46, 5; Xen. Anab. i. 4, 7). The word is a favourite one with Lk.; see on 2:15. The μᾶλλον means “more than before, more than ever” (John 5:18, John 19:8), or “all the more,” because of the command not to tell (18:39; Acts 5:14, Acts 9:22, Acts 22:2).

συνήρχοντο ὄχλοι πολλοὶ�Acts 28:9; Hebrews 11:34, where we have a similar constr., ἐδυναώθησαν�

16. αὐτὸς δὲ ἦν ὑποχωρῶν ἐν ταῖς ἐρήμοις καὶ προσευχόμενος. The verse forms one of those resting-places with which Lk. frequently ends a narrative (1:80, 2:20, 40, 52, 3:18-20, 4:13, 15, 30, 44). “But He” on His part, in contrast to the multitudes who came to see Him, “was in retirement in the deserts, and in prayer.” See on 3:21. The analytical tense expresses what Jesus was engaged in while the multitudes were seeking Him. That they were unable to find Him is not implied here, and Mk. states the opposite. For the αυτός comp, 4:30, 6:8, :37, 54, 11:17, 28, 23:9; and for ὑποχωρεῖν, 9:10. The verb occurs nowhere else in N.T., but is freq. in class. Grk. Lk. alone uses the plur, of ἔρημος (1:80, 8:29). See Bede, ad loc.

For ἐν after a verb of motion, to express the rest which is the result of the motion, comp. Matthew 14:3; John 3:35; 2 Corinthians 8:16. Such condensed constructions are not common, if found at all, in earlier writers. The converse use of εἰς after verbs of rest is more common (11:7, 21:37; Acts 2:39, Acts 2:7:4, Acts 2:8:20, Acts 2:23, Acts 2:40, etc.). Win. l. 4. a, p. 514.

17-26. The Healing of a Paralytic. Matthew 9:1-8; Mark 2:1-12. We again have a narrative which is narrated by all three Synoptists in a way which shows that they are using common material. Mt. is again the most brief. Mk. and Lk. agree in the details, but differ considerably in the wording. Different translations of the same Aramaic original, or of two very similar Aramaic originals, would account for these similarities and differences. The cast of the opening verse is very Hebraistic, as is shown by ἐγένετο by ἐν μιᾷ τῶν ἡμερῶν, by καὶ αὐτός and by δύναμις Κύριου ἦν εἰς. See on 4:36 and on 8:22. The ἐν μιᾷ τῶν ἡμερῶν is an absolutely indefinite expression, which we have no right to limit. Mt. and Mk. give no date. The phrase ἐν μιᾶ τῶν is peculiar to Lk.

17. φαρισαῖοι. The first mention of them by Lk., who assumes that his readers know who the Pharisees were. This introduction of them stamps them as hostile to Christ; and we have here the first collision in Galilee between Jesus and the authorities at Jerusalem. On the Pharisees see Jos. Ant. xiii. 5, 9, 10.6, xvii. 2. 4, xviii. 1, 2, 3; B. J. ii. 8. 14; Schürer, Jewish People, II. 2. § 26, p. 10; Hausrath, N.T. Times, 1. p. 135; Keim, Jes. of Naz. 1. p. 321; Edersh. L.& T. 1. pp. 96, 97, 310-324.

νομοδιδάσκαλοι. The word is formed on the analogy of ἱεποδιδάσκαλος and χοροδιδάσκαλος, but is not classical. Elsewhere only Acts 5:34 and 1 Timothy 1:7. In all three cases teachers of the Jewish Law are meant, and the term is almost a synonym for οἱγραμματεῖς in the N.T. sense. That they had come ἐκ πάσης κώμης τῆς Λαλιλαίας καὶ Ἰουδαίας is, of course, a popular hyperbolical expression, and illustrates Lk.’s fondness far πᾶς comp, 6:17.

δύναμις κυρίου ἦν εἰς τὸ ἰᾶσθαι αὐτὸν. “The power of Jehovah was present for Him to heal with”; i.e. for Jesus to employ in working miracles, of healing. See on 4:36 and comp. 1:35, 24:49; Acts 6:8. Hence miracles are often called δυνάμεις or out comes of the power of God. Trench, Syn. xci. The failure to see that αὐτόν is the subject, not the object, of ἰᾶσθαι produced the corrupt reading αὐτούς (A C D and versions). This corrupt reading produced the erroneous interpretation of Κυρίου as meaning Christ. Lk. often calls Christ “the Lord”; but in such cases Κύριος always has the article (7:13, 10:1, 11:39, 12:42, 13:15, 17:5, 6, 18:6, 9:8, 22:61). Κύριος without the article means Jehovah (1:11, 2:9, 4:18; Acts 5:19, Acts 5:8:26, Acts 5:39, Acts 5:12:7). This verse shows us Jesus armed with Divine power and con fronted by a large body of hostile spies and critics. What follows (VV. 19, 26) proves that there was also a multitude of curious spectators, who had not declared for either side, like the multitude round Elijah and the prophets of Baal on Carmel (1 Kings 18:21).

Except in quotations from LXX (Matthew 13:15; John 12:40) and one other passage (John 4:47), ἰᾶσθαι with act. signif. is peculiar to Lk. (6:19, 9:2, 11, 42, 14:4, 22:51; Acts 9:34, Acts 10:38, etc.).

18. ὅς ἦν παραλελυμένος. “Here and wherever St. Luke mentions this disease, he employs the verb παραλύεσθαι, and never παραλυτικός. The other N.T. writers use the popular form παραλυτικός, and never use the verb, the apparent exception to this, Hebrews 12:12, being a quotation from the LXX, Isaiah 35:3. St. Luke’s use is in strict agreement with that of the medical writers” (Hobart, Med. Lang. of St. Lk. p. 6).

ἐζήτουν αὐτὸν εἰσενεγκεῖν. Into the house, although it has not yet been stated that Jesus was in a house. Mk. tells us that there were four bearers, and that the place was thronged even about the door. For ἐνώπιον see small print on 1:15.

19.For μή with a participle expressing a reason see small print on 3:9. With ποίας understand ὀδοῦ and comp. ἐκεὶνης (19:4). Here we should have expected διά, which some inferior MSS. insert in both places. “By what kind of a way” emphasizes their perplexity. For the omission of ὀδός comp. 3:5. Win. xxx. 11, lxiv. 5, pp. 258, 738. The classical τὴν ἄλλως illustrates this common ellipse. Blass, Gr. pp. 106, 137.

διὰ τὸν ὄχλον. “Because of the multitude”; not “through the multitude,” a meaning of διά c.acc. which is found only in poet and freq. in Hom. It was probably by means of outside step that they “went up on to the top of, the house.” Oriental houses sometimes have such steps; and in any case, ladders could be used. That the δῶμα was a dwelling-house is not stated. In bibl. Grk. it means a roof rather than a house (Deuteronomy 22:8; Joshua 2:6, Joshua 2:8), and in N.T. seems to imply a flat roof (12:3, 17:31; Acts 10:9; Mark 13:15; Matthew 10:27, Matthew 24:17). It may have been over a large hall on the ground floor. Even if Jesus was teaching in the upper room of a dwelling-house (and the Rabbis often taught there), the difficulty of getting on to the roof and removing a small portion of it would not be very great. Edersh. Hist. of J. N. P. 253.

διὰ τῶν κεράμων καθῆκαν. The verb is peculiar to Lk. in N.T. (Acts 9:25, Acts 10:11, Acts 11:5); freq. in class. Grk. Mk. has�

σὺν τῷ κλινιδίῳ. Lk. alone has his favourite κλίνη The substantive occurs here only. It is the dim. of κλίνη (8:16, 17:34), and perhaps means here a portion of the κλίνη mentioned in ver. 18. Not all of what had been used to bring him through the streets would be let down through the roof. Comp. κλινάριον (Acts 5:15). Double forms of diminutives are not uncommon e.g. γυναίκιον and γυναικάριον (2 Timothy 3:6); παιδίον (1:59, 66 and παιδάριον (John 6:9); πινάκιον and πινακίδιον (1:63). Mk. has the inelegant κράβαττος, grabatus (Acts 5:15, Acts 9:33), for which e Greeks preferred σκίμπους or σκιμπόδιον.

20. ἰδὼν τὴν πίστιν αὐτῶν. The faith of the man and of those who brought him. All three accounts have the words; but Mt. omits the persevering energy which proved how strong their faith was. We reed not assume the the paralytic himself did not share his friends! confidence.

For a fall discussion of the Meaning of “Faith” in the New Testament and in some Jewish Writings see detached note on Romans 1:17. Here it will suffice to point out its four main uses for (1) belief in God; (2) belief in His promises; (3) belief in Christ; (4) belief in some particular utterance or claim of God or of Christ. Of these four the last is the commonest use in the Synoptic Gospels, where it generally means belief in the power of Christ, or of God in Christ, to work miracles. The efficacy of Christ’s power is commonly dependent upon the faith of those who are to be benefited by its exercise, as here. Comp. 7:50, 8:48, 17:19, 18:42. By an easy transition this faith in the power of God or of Christ to work miracles becomes used of the conviction that the believer himself has received power to work miracles. Comp. 17:6. In 18:8 the faith to be found on earth means faith in the Son of Man.

Ἄνθρωπε,�John 5:14, John 5:9:2; 1 Corinthians 11:30). But it does not follow from this that faith on his part was thus far absent.

Suidas seems to be right in regarding�1 John 2:12, and propably John 20:23. Some have regarded it as a subjunctive: remissa sunto. Fritzsche (on Matthew 9:2) pertinently asks, Quo usu aut more subjunctivum in talibus locis absolute positum defendas?

21. ἤρξαντο διαλογίζεσθαι. Not a mere periphrasis for διαλογε σαντο: see on 4:21. Hitherto they had found nothing in His words to excite criticism. Here they seemed to see the opportunity for which they had been watching, and their discussions forthwith began.1 The γραμματεῖς are evidently the same as the νομοδιδάσκαλοι in ver. 17. Neither Mt. nor Mk. mention the Pharisees here; and both of them imply that the criticisms were not uttered aloud: ἐν ἑαυτοῖς (Mt.), ἐν ταῖς καρδίαις (Mk.). Even here utterance is not stated, for λέγοντες may be used of thoughts (12:17; Matthew 21:25).

Τίς ἐστιν οὖτος ὅς λαλεῖ βλασφημίας; An accidental iambic line. We have another ver. 39, if εὐθέως be admitted as genuine. The οὖτος is contemptuous, as often (4:22, 7:39, 49, 9:9, 14:30, 15:2, etc.). In N.T., as in class. Grk., βλασφημία has the two meanings of “evil speaking” (Colossians 3:8; Ephesians 4:31; 1 Timothy 4:4; Jude 1:9 : comp. Romans 3:8, Romans 14:16) and “blasphemy” (Matthew 12:31, Matthew 12:26:65; Revelation 13:6). These cavillers assume that Jesus claimed to have pardoned the man on His own authority, not merely to have said that He knew that his sins have been forgiven by Got And Jesus does not say that they are mistaken in this. He acts on His own authority in accordance with the will of the Father, doing on earth what the Father does in heaven (John 5:19, John 5:21). For�Matthew 12:31; Mark 3:28; Romans 4:7, etc.

22. ἐπιγνοὺς δὲ ὁ Ἰησοῦς τοὺς διαλογισμοὺς αὐτῶν. The compound verb implies thorough and accurate knowledge (1 Corinthians 13:12; Romans 1:32; Justin, Try. 3. p. 221 A). The subst. ἐπίγυωσις is used of “the knowledge of God and of Christ as being the perfection of knowledge: e.g. Proverbs 2:5; Hosea 4:1, Hosea 4:6:6; Ephesians 1:17, Ephesians 1:4:13; 2 Peter 1:2, 2 Peter 1:3, 2 Peter 1:8, 2 Peter 1:2:20; Clem. Alex Pæd. ii. i. p. 173” (Lft. on Colossians 1:9). Comp. the climax in Apost. Const. 7:39, 1, γνῶσις, ἐπίγνωσις πληροφορία. On both ἐπίγνωσις and διαλογισμούς see Hatch, Bibl. Grk. p. 8. The latter seems here to mean “thoughts” (ἐνθυμήσεις, Matthew 9:4) rather than “discussions” (9:46). In LXX it is used of the counsels of God (Psalms 39:6, Psalms 91:6). It is, however, more often used in a bad sense (Psalms 55:5, 93:11, Psalms 145:4, etc.), and is specially freq. in Lk. (2:35, 6:8, 9:47, 24:38). Not in Jn., and only once each in Mt. and Mk.

ἐν ταῖς καρδίαις ὑμῶν. This seems to imply that there had been o utterance. Christ read their thoughts. See on Romans 1:21.

23. τί ἐστιν εὐκοπώτερον, εἰπεῖν … ἤ εἰπεῖν. It is in this verse and the next that the three accounts are most similar—almost verbatim the same. The challenge is a very practical one, and the point of it is in the εἰπεῖν. It is easier to say, “Thy sins are forgiven,” because no one can prove that they are not forgiven. But the claim to heal with a word can be easily and quickly tested.

εὐκοπώτερον. Lit. “more capable of being done with easy labour” (εὐκόπος). In N.T. always in the comparative (16:17, 18:25; Mark 10:25; Matthew 19:24); but εὐκοπον occurs 1 Malachi 3:18; Ecclus, 22:15. It is found in Polyb., but not in class. Grk.—For τίς in the sense of “whether of two” like πότερος as quis = uter, comp. 22:27; Matthew 21:31, Matthew 21:24:17, Matthew 21:27:17, Matthew 21:21; Xen. Cyr. iii. 1, 17.

24. ὁ υἱὸς τοῦ�

25. παραχρῆμα�Luke 8:44, Luke 8:55, Luke 8:18:43, Luke 8:22:60. Lk. has παραχρῆμα ten times in the Gospel and six times in the Acts: elsewhere only Matthew 21:19, Matthew 21:20. For�

ἄρας ἐ φʼ ὃ κατέκειτο. Il doit porter maintenant ce grabat qui l’a si longtemps porté (Godet). The wording is peculiar to Lk., and is perhaps intended to suggest this inversion of relations. Lk. alone records that he glorified God. The phrase δοξάζειν τὸν Θεόν is specially. common with him (ver. 26, 7:16, 13:13, 17:15, 18:43, 23:47; Acts 4:21, Acts 11:18, Acts 21:20): once in Mk., twice in Mt., once in Jn.

The reading ἐφʼ ᾦ (R U Λ is an obvious correction to a more usual construction. For the acc. after a verb of rest comp. 21:35; Matthew 13:2; Mark 4:38; John 21:4; also Plato, sym. 212 D, ἐπιστῆναι ἐπὶ τὰς θύρας.

26. ἔκστασις ἔλαβεν ἅπαντας Mk. has πάντας Mt. nothing. Lk. is fond of the stronger form. He alone records all three emotions—amazement, fear, and gratitude to God. The last is in all three. For ἔκστασις comp. Mark 5:42, Mark 5:16:8; Acts 3:10; Genesis 27:33; 1 Samuel 14:15; 2 Chronicles 14:14. Mt., whose narrative is much the most brief, adds after ἐδόξασαν τὸν Θεόν, τὸν δόντα ἐξουσίαν τοιαύτην τοῖς�

Εἴδαμεν παράδοξα σήμερον. The adj. occurs here only in N.T. In LXX it is not rare (Judith 13:13; Wisd. 5:2; Ecclus. 43:25; 2 Mac. 9:24; 4 Malachi 2:13).It is used of the miracles of Jesus in the famous passage, of very doubtful origin, in Josephus: σοφὸς�1 Samuel 10:14 and 2 Samuel 10:14.

27-39. The Calling of Levi and the Discussion about Fasting. Matthew 9:9-17; Mark 2:13-22. In all three narratives this section is connected closely with the healing of the paralytic; but Mt. places both incidents much later, viz. after the return from the country of the Gadarenes.

The common identification of Levi with Matthew is probably correct; but his father must not be identified with the father of James the Less. Matthew is probably a contraction of Mattathias = “Gift of God,” and this name may have been given to Levi after His conversion, like that of Peter to Simon. Comp. Joseph Barsabbas, surnamed Justus (Acts 1:23). In Galilee it was common to have two names; and therefore both names may have been original. But if Levi was the earlier name, and was less well known among Christians, that would account for Mk. and Lk. using it, while Mt. equally naturally would let it be evident that a τελώνης had become, by Christ’s mercy, the well-known Apostle. There can be no reasonable doubt that the three narratives refer to same incident. And, as Levi is mentioned in no list of the Twelve, and Matthew is mentioned in all such lists, the identity of Levi the τελώνης with Mt. the τελώνης and Apostle need not be doubted. Such doubts, however, are ancient. They existed in the Gnostic commentator Heracleon (Clem. Alex. Strom. iv. 9, p. 595, ed Potter) and were shared by origen. They have been reproduced by Grotius (on Matthew 9:9) and Michaelis; and more recently by Sieffert, Neander, Ewald, Keim, and Reuss. But a satisfactory solution, which is not contradicted by any evidence, is not to be rejected because it does not amount to demonstration.

27. ἐξῆλθεν. So also Mk., while Mt. has παράγων ἐκεῖθεν Departure from the town, rather than from the house, is probably meant; and we therefore obtain no evidence as to the site of Capernaum. We may place Capernaurn away from the lake, and yet suppose the τελώνιον to have been close to the shore. The customs collected there went to Herod Antipas, not to the imperia, fiscus (Jos. Ant. xvii. 11, 4, 5; B. J. ii. 6, 3): see on 20:25.

ἐθεάσατο τελώνην. “Looked attentively at, contemplated, a collector,” as if reading his character. The verb often implies enjoyment in beholding (7:24; John 1:14, John 1:32, John 1:38; Joh_1 John 1:1; 1 John 1:11 John 1:1). For the τελῶναι see on 3:12. The Talmud distinguishes two classes of τελῶναι: the Gabbai or tax-gatherer (e.g. of income-tax or polltax), and the Mokhes or custom-house officer. The latter was specially hated, as having greater opportunities for vexatious exactions, especially from the poor. Levi was one of the latter. The great commercial route from Acre to Damascus, which continued until the crusades as the via maris, passed the lake at or near Capernaum, and gave employment to excisemen (Isaiah 9:1).

ὀνόματι Λευείν. Mk. as Λευεὶν τὸν τοῦ Ἀλφαίου, and Mt. has Μαθθαῖον. The fondness of Lk. for ὀνόματι in introducing a name is here conspicuous. Mt. has λεγόμενον, and Mk. has neither. Comp. 1:5, 10:38, 16:20, 23:50, and over twenty times in the Acts. Mt. and Mk. have ὀνόματι once each. Jn. says ὄνομα αὐτῶς (1:6, 3:1, 18:10).

καθήμενον ἐπὶ τὸ τελώνιον. Excepting in the parallel passages, τελώνιον does not occur in N.T. Nor is it common elsewhere. In Strabo, xvi. I. 27, it seems to mean “customs, taxes,” and some would render ἐπὶ τὸ τελώνιον, “to receive the customs.” But it is more probable that it means the place where dues were collected, “the tol bothe” (Wic.) or “the custom-house” (Rhem.). Comp. similarly formed δεκατώνιον “the office of a collector of tenths.” Very likely Levi was sitting outside the portitorium. He must have been visible from the outside: the ἐπί is “at,” not “in.”

28. καταλιπὼν πάντα. Lk alone mentions this.1 Note the characteristic πάντα, and comp. ver. 11. The fact illustrates the doctrine, to which Lk. often bears witness, that riches are a peril and an impediment, and that the kingdom of God is specially preached to the poor. The statement is against the supposition (D. B.1 ii. p. 969) that Mt. returned to his business afterwards; and it is quite gratuitous to suppose that the statement is a mere reminiscence of ver. 11. In them case why has�

There is a slight awkwardness in καταλιπών preceding�John 1:44, and with the result comp. ver. 11 and Matthew 4:19, Matthew 4:22. The two combined lead one to the view that this is a call to become an Apostle.

29. ἐποίησεν δοχὴν μεγάλην. “Made a great reception” (δέχομαι) or banquet. The word is peculiar to Lk., who has δοχὴν ποιεῖν again 14:13. The phrase occurs in LXX ( Genesis 21:8, Genesis 21:26:30; Esther 1:3, Esther 1:5:4, Esther 1:8). Of course ἐν τῆς οἰκίας αὐτοῦ means in Levi’s house, which is not included in καταλιπὼν πάντα. He was not at his house when he left all. The πάντα refers to his whole mode of life, his business as a τελώνης.

It is strange that any one should understand the words either here or Mark 2:15 as meaning “in the house of Jesus.” Had Jesus a house? If so, how improbable that Levi should hold a reception in it! If the narrator had meant this, must he not have given the name instead of αὐτοῦ, which would inevitably be misunderstood? Mt. has simply ἐν τῆς οἰκίας, which possibly means “indoors” as apposed to the outdoor scene ἐπὶ τὸ τελώνιον. There is no evidence that Christ had a house at Capernaum. After the call of Simon and Andrew He is entertained in the house of Simon and Andrew (Mark 1:16, Mark 1:29); and after the call of Levi He is entertained in the house of Levi. The new disciple wishes his old friends to make the acquaintance of his new Master. C’est son premier acte missionaire (Godet).

ἦν ὄχλος πολὺς τελωνῶν καὶ ἄλλων οἵ ἦσαν μετʼ αὐτῶν κατακείμενοι. This proves that the house was a large one, which the house of Jesus would not have been: and it also shows the character of the company, for only social outcasts would sit down at the same table with τελῶναι.

30. ἐγόγγυζον οἱ φαρισαῖοι καὶ οἱ γραμματεῖς αὐτῶν. The αὐτῶν means “the scribes of the Pharisees,” i.e. who belonged to that party. Some scribes were Sadducees. That this is the meaning is clear from Mark 2:16. It is pointless, and scarcely grammatical, to make αὐτῶν refer to the inhabitants of the place, who have not been mentioned. These scribes were probably not invited guests, but had entered during the meal, like the woman that was a sinner in the house of Simon. The Sinaiticus and other authorities omit αὐτῶν, doubtless because it was not clear what it meant.

For γογγύζω, which is not in Mk. or Mt., see Lft, on Philippians 2:14, and Kennedy, Sources of N.T. Grk. p. 39. The Atticists preferred τονθορύζω. Both are probably onomatop.—Note that here, as in vv. 31, 33 and 4:43, Lk. has πρός c. acc. after a verb of speaking, where Mk. (2:16-19) has the dat. See on 1:13.

Διὰ τί μετὰ τῶν τελωνῶν καὶ ἁμαρτωλῶν ἐθίετε; The single article (so in all three) brackets them as one class. In Mt. and Mk. the disciples are not included in the charge (ἐσθίει, not ἐσθίετε); but they both mention that the disciples were sitting at table with Jesus and the τελῶναι, and therefore were open to the charge, Lk., on the other hand, does not mention that the disciples were sitting at table, but his ἐσθίετε implies it. With διὰ τί comp. Exodus 5:14.

31. In all three accounts Jesus ignores the insinuation against His disciples, and answers for Himself. He is responsible for the intercourse with taxcollectors and sinners. For οἱ ὑγιαίνοντες Mt. and Mk. have οἱ ἰσχύοντες. This looks like a deliberate change made by Lk. for the sake of a word which would more definitely express health as opposed to sickness. Like παραλελι μένος for παραλυτικός (vv. 18, 24) and ἰᾶσθαι for διασώζειν (6:19), these changes may be the result of Lk.’s medical training (Hobart, p. 67; Salmon, Int. to N.T. p. 129, 5th ed.). But would Lk. have made changes in a report of Christ’s words? There would be no need to have scruples, for οἱ ἰσχύοντες is only a translation of the Aramaic, and Lk. might think that οἱ ὑγιαίνοντες was a better translation. Christ’s reply is an argumentum ad hominem, partly ironical. On their own showing the Pharisees had no need of a teacher, while these outcasts were in the greatest need of one.

32. εἰς μετάνοιαν. These words are peculiar to Lk., but in some texts have been transferred to Mk. and Mt. Both μετάνοια and μετανοεῖν are freq. in Lk. See on 15:7. Obviously those who are really δίκαιοι do not need to be called to repentance; but who are δίκαιοι? That is the question which Christ’s reply suggests. If we had only Mk.’s account, we might suppose that what follows took place on some other occasion; but both Lk. and Mt. (τότε) connect it with the banquet in Matthew’s house.

33. οἱ δὲ εἶπαν. The same who asked the previous question, viz. the Pharisees and their scribes (ver. 30). Mt. says that it was the disciples of John who came up and put this question. Mk. states that both the disciples of John and the Pharisees were keeping a fast at that very time, and joined in asking why Christ’s disciples did not do so also. We know from John 3:26 how jealous the Baptist’s disciples were of Christ, and therefore ready to criticize. Perhaps they were also jealous of the freedom from legal restraints which His disciples seemed to enjoy. They leave an opening for the reply, “You have no need to fast.” The four words which follow νηστεύουσιν, viz. the words πυκνὰ καὶ δεήσεις ποιοῦνται, are peculiar to Lk. They imply that Christ’s disciples habitually neglected the frequent fasts which the disciples of John and of the Pharisees kept The fasts on Mondays and Thursdays are probably meant, which were not obligatory, but which some Pharisees observed (18:12). Moses was believed to have gone up Mount Sinai on a Thursday and to have come down on a Monday. The Day of Atonement was the only fast of universal obligation. For ποιεῖσθαι δεήσεις comp. 1 Timothy 2:1; it refers to prayers at fixed times according to rule. The disciples of Jesus seemed to have no rule respecting such things. A late tradition fixes the number of the Baptist’s disciples as thirty, answering to the days of the month, as the Twelve are supposed to answer to the months of the year (Clem. Hom. ii. 23).—καὶ πίνουσιν. These words also are peculiar to Lk. in harmony with καὶ πίνετε in ver. 30.

34. Individuals were at liberty to choose their own days for fasting, but they must not select a sabbath or any of the great feasts. Christ suggests another exception, which very possibly was made by the Pharisees themselves. Is it possible to make the guests fast at a wedding? Mt. and Mk. omit the ποιεῖν: Can the wedding-guests fast? Would it not be morally impossible to have such a combination? To John’s disciples this parable would come home with special force, for their master had called Jesus “the Bridegroom” and himself “the friend of the Bridegroom.”

τοὺς υἱοὺς τοῦ νυμφῶνος. The Gammon Hebraism to express those who are closely connected with the νυμφών: comp. 10:6, 16:8, 20:36; Acts 4:36; Matthew 28:15; John 12:36, etc. In 1 Malachi 4:2 οἱ υἱοὶ τῆς ἄκρας means the garrison of the citadel. But in LXX such expressions are not very common (1 Kings 1:52; 2 Samuel 12:5; Genesis 11:10). The word νυμφών seems scarcely to occur in class. GrK., but it is rightly formed (Tobit 6:14, 17). Comp. παρθενών, γυναικών,�

35. ἐλεύσονται δὲ ἡμέραι. “But days will come,” i.e. days very different from the joyous days of the wedding. It is best to take this clause separately. After it there is an aposiopesis, which is mournfully impressive; and then the sentence begins again.

καὶ ὅταν�

τότε νηστεύσουσιν. “Then they will fast”—of their own accord. He does not say, “Then ye will be able to make them fast,” which would be the exact antithesis of what goes before; and the change is significant. Compulsion will be as superfluous then as it would be outrageous now: comp. 17:22. This is the first intimation of His death and departure, after which fasting will be appropriate and voluntary. Its value consists in its being spontaneously adopted, not forcibly imposed. This point is further developed in the short parables which follow. Note the characteristic ἐν ἐκείναις ταῖς ἡμέραις (not in Matthew 9:15), and see on 9:36.

36. Ἔλεγεν δὲ καὶ παραβολὴν πρὸς αὐτούς. These introductory words are peculiar to Lk., and the phrase λέγειν παραβολήν is used by no one else (12:41, 13:6, 14:7, 18:1, 20:9). For the characteristic δὲ καί see small print on 3:9, and for λέγειν πρός see on 1:13. For pairs of parables see on ver. 37 and 13:18.

ἀπὸ ἱματίου καινοῦ σχίσας. This also is peculiar to Lk.’s narrative, and it heightens the effect of the parable. Both Mt. and Mk represent the patch as coming from an unused piece of cloth. To tear it from a new garment is an aggravation of the folly. A good garment is ruined in order to mend, and that very ineffectually, an old one. In all three we have ἐπίβλημα for patch; in Mt. and Mk. πλήρωμα also; and Mk. for ἐπιβάλλει has ἐπιράπτει. In Plutarch and Arrian ἐπίβλημα means “tapestry” for hangings. In the sense of “patch” it seems to occur only in Joshua 9:11 (5) The Latin translations of ἐπἵβλημα vary: commissura (Vulg.), insumentum (a), immissura (d).

εἰ δὲ μήγε (εἰ δὲ μὴ γε, Lach. Treg.). “But if he acts otherwise,” i.e. if he commits this folly. Ni caveat errorem (Grotius). The formula is freq. in Lk. (ver. 37, 10:6, 13:9, 14:32), who never uses εἰ δὲ μή. Εἰ δὲ μή γε is stronger than εἰ δὲ μή, and follows both negative (14:32; Matthew 9:17; 2 Corinthians 11:16) and affirmative sentences (10:6, 13:9, Matthew 6:1). It is found in Plato (Rep. iv. 425 E): comp. Hdt. iv. 120. 4. See Fritzsche on Matthew 6:1 and Meyer on 2 Corinthians 11:16.

καὶ τὸ καινὸν σχίσει. “Both he will rend the new garment”.—in tearing the patch from it. AV. here goes wrong, although (except as regards the tense) all previous English Versions were right. Reading σχίζει with A and Vulg. rumpit, Wic. Tyn. Cran. and Rhem. have “He breaketh the new,” while Cov. has “He renteth the new.” Beza has “the old breaketh the new.” Luther and AV. seem to be alone in taking τὸ καινόν as the nom., “Both the new maketh a rent.” With σχίσει, comp. John 19:24; Isaiah 37:1.

καὶ τὸ καινὸν … καὶ τῶς παλαιῶς. The double καί marks the double folly. RV. avoids the awkwardness of “Both he will rend … and the piece,” etc., by rendering, “He will rend … and also the piece,” etc. The combination with καὶ τῶς παλαιῶς shows that τὸ καινόν is object and not subject.

As to the precise meaning, interpreters are not agreed, beyond the general truth that a new spirit requires a new form. But the piece torn from the new garment is probably exemption from fasting. To deprive Christ’s disciples of this freedom, while He is with them, would be to spoil the system in which they are being trained. And to impose this exemption upon the disciples of John and the Pharisees, would also spoil the system in which they have been trained. In the one case fasting, in the other non-fasting, was the natural outcome of the environment. For a variety of interpretations see Godet, who in his third ed. has changed his own (1888).

37. This second parable carries on and develops the teaching of the first. We have similar pairs of parables in the Mustard-seed and the leaven, the Treasure hid in the Field and the Pearl of eat price, the Ten Virgins and the Talents, the Lost Sheep and the Lost Coin, the Unwise Builder and the Unwise King. In three respects this second parable differs from the first. (1) The piece of new cloth represents only a fragment of the new system; the new wine represents the whole of it. (2) The new garment and the old one are only marred; the new wine is lost and the old skins are destroyed. (3) Not only is the wrong method condemned, the right method is indicated �

οὐδεὶς βάλλει οἶνον νέον εἰς�John 13:5; Matthew 26:12; Judges 6:19; Epictet. iv. 19, 12. Skin-bottles, utres, are still in use in the East, made of a single goat-skin (Hom. Il. iii. 247), from which the flesh and bones are drawn without ripping up the body. The neck of the animal becomes the neck of the bottle. Genesis 21:4, Genesis 21:15, Genesis 21:19; Psalms 119:83. Comp. Hdt. ii. 121, 20, iii. 9, 2; Hom. Od. v. 265. In Job 32:19 it is said that even new skins are ready to burst when they are full of new wine: comp. 38:37. See Herzog, Pro_2 art. Schlauch; Tristram, Nat. Hist. of B. p. 92.

38. οἶν νέον εἰς�2 Peter 3:13; Revelation 21:1), and still more a “fresh Jerusalem” (Revelation 3:12, Revelation 21:2), would be intolerable. No English version prior to RV. distinguishes here between νέος and καινός; and Vulg. has novus for both. None translates�Matthew 9:17 (א B L and Aegyptt. omit).

39. This third parable is peculiar to Lk. While the first two show how fatal it would be to couple the new spirit of the Gospel with the worn out forms of Judaism, the third shows how natural it is that those who have been brought up under these forms should be unwilling to abandon them for something untried. The conversion of an outcast τελώνης, who has no such prejudices, may be easier than one whose life is bound up in the formalism of the past Grotius, starting from Ecclus. 9:15, οἶνος νέος φίλος νέος· ἐὰν παλαιωθῆς, μετʼ εὐφροσύνης πίεσαι αὐτόν, interprets: Significavit, hoc proverbio Christus homines non subito ad austeriorem vitam pertrahendos, sed per gradus quosdam assuefaciendos esse; which implies that Christ considered Jewish fasting the more excellent way, up to which His disciples must be gradually educated. Moreover, the subito on which this explanation turns is an interpolation: εὐθέως is not genuine (א B C1 L, Boh. Æth. Arm. omit). Wetstein quotes a multitude of passages to show that old wine was considered to be superior to new, and concludes; Pharisæorum austeritas comparatur vino novo, Christi lenitas vino veteri; which exactly inverts the parable. The comparative merits of the old and the new wine are not touched by the parable, but the taste for them. One who is accustomed to old will not wish for new: it does not attract him by look or fragrance. See Hort, Judaistic Christianity, p. 24.

λέγει γάρ· Ὁ παλαιὸς χρηστός ἐστιν. The reading of A C and Vulg. (χρηστότερος, melius) is a manifest corruption. The prejudiced person will not even try the new, or admit that it has any merits. He knows that the old is pleasant, and suits him; and that is enough: he is not going to change. Pharisæis doctrina sua antiqua magis erat ad palatum, quam generosa doctrina Jesu, quam illi putabant esse novam (Beng.), and which they would not even taste. Comp. Romans 7:6; 2 Corinthians 3:6. If we admit the undoubtedly spurious, εὐθέως we have another iambic line in this verse as in ver. 21: πιὼν παλαιὸν εὐθέως θέλει νέον. The whole verse is omitted in D and in most of the best MSS. of the old Latin; but WH. seem to be alone in placing it in brackets as of doubtful authority. On the three parables see Trench, Studies in the Gospels, pp. 168-183.

Jos. Josephus.

AV. Authorized Version.

D. B. Smith’s Dictionary of the Bible, 2nd edition.

Trench, Trench, New Testament Synonyms.

Beng. Bengel.

Clem. Alex. Clement of Alexandria.

Gen. Geneva.

Win. Winer, Grammar of N.T. Greek (the page refers to Moulton’s edition).

Wsctt. Westcott.

Syr Syriac.

Sin. Sinaitic.

B B. Cod. Vaticanus, sæc. 4. In the Vatican Library certainly since 15331 (Batiffol, La Vaticane de Paul 3, etc., p. 86).

D D. Cod. Bezae, sæc. vi. Given by Beza to the University Library at Cambridge 1581. Greek and Latin. Contains the whole Gospel.

X X. Cod. Monacensis, sæc. ix. In the University Library at Munich. Contains 1:1-37, 2:19-3:38, 4:21-10:37, 11:1-18:43, 20:46-24:53.

Goth. Gothic.

Tyn. Tyndale.

Vulg. Vulgate.

RV. Revised Version.

Rhem. Rheims (or Douay).

1 Cod. Brix. has hominum eritis captores, including James and John, although noli timere precedes. D has ποιήσω γὰρ ὐμᾶς�

1 It has been suggested that ἦσαν καθήμενοι (Mark 2:6) and ηρξαντο = ησανἀρχόμενοι) here are simply different translations of the Aramaic verb, which has the very different meanings of “sitting at rest” and “beginning”; or possibly of two verbs which are identical in spelling (Expositor, April 1891, p. 285). See on 3:23. But these possibilities seem to be too isolated and sporadic to be of great value in accounting for differences between the Gospels.

1 Le Livre d’ Hénoch, en Particulier, lequel était fort lu dans l’entourage de Jésus (Judæ Epist. 14) nous donne la clef de l’expression de “Fils de l’homme” et des idées qui s’y rattachaient (Renan, V. de J. p. 11.). It is, of course, quite possible that the writer of the Book of Enoch took the idea from Daniel. For a discussion of the title see Dorner, Person of Christ, Eng. tr. 1:1. p. 54.

1 That this parenthesis occurs in exactly the same place in all three proves that all three made use of a narrative, the form of which was already fixed, either in memory or in writing (Salmon, Int. to N. T. p. 121, 5th ed.). Comp. Luke 8:28, Luke 8:29 with Mark 5:7, Mark 5:8, where we have similar agreement in arrangement.

Wic. Wiclif.

1 Ce seal mot suffit. La parole qui venait de guérir le lépreux, de rendre an paralysé le mouvement et de remettre les péchés, transforma soudainement un publicain en disciple (Didon, JC ch. iii. p. 340).

D. Smith’s Dictionary of the Bible, 1st edition.

Clem. Hom. Clementine Homilies.

Treg. Tregelles.

Cov. Coverdale.

Tristram, Tristram, Natural History of the Bible.

אԠא Cod. Sinaiticus, sæc. iv. Brought by Tischendorf from the Convent of St. Catherine on Mt. Sinai; now at St. Petersburg. Contains the whole Gospel complete.

L L. Cod. Regius Parisiensis, sæc. viii. National Library at Paris. Contains the whole Gospel.

Aegyptt. Egyptian.

Boh. Bohairic.

Arm. Armenian.

WH. Westcott and Hort.

Bibliographical Information
Driver, S.A., Plummer, A.A., Briggs, C.A. "Commentary on Luke 5". International Critical Commentary NT. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/icc/luke-5.html. 1896-1924.
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