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Bible Commentaries

Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament

Luke 18

Verse 1

Luke 18:1 . Δὲ καὶ , moreover also ) as regards the preparation for those things about to come to pass. Comp. Luke 18:8 . πρὸς τὸ ) that is to say, as concerns that all-important subject, prayer. πάντοτε , always ) night and day; Luke 18:7 . προσεύχεσθαι , to pray ) Two parables treat of prayer: the one here, in Luke 18:1 , et seqq. ; and the second in Luke 18:9 , et seqq. The first teaches us to unlearn (overcome, lay aside) indolent faintness; the second, to unlearn confidence in ourselves: two extremes deserving to be noted. For the words, ἐγκακεῖν , to be faint or indolent , and πεποιθότας ἐφʼ ἑαυτοῖς , i.e. self-confidence , in a bad sense, are mutually opposed, Luke 18:1 ; Luke 18:9 ; even as confidence or trust , in a good sense, 2 Corinthians 3:4 ( πεποίθησιν ἔχομεν διὰ τοῦ Χριστοῦ πρὸς τὸν Θεόν ), and to faint , 2 Corinthians 4:1 ( οὐκ ἐγκακοῦμεν ), Ephesians 3:12 , Ephesians 3:13 , are mutually opposed. μὴ ἐγκακεῖν , [195] not to faint ) The cry of the elect ( τῶν βοώντων ), Luke 18:7 , is in consonance with this not-fainting . An example in point occurs, Luke 18:39 [the blind man near Jericho].

[195] ABDL Δ so write the word; and not ἐκκακεῖν , as Rec. Text. E. and T.

Verse 2

Luke 18:2 . Θεὸν ἄνθρωπον , God man ) ‘Regard’ to one or other of these two, God or else man, is certainly wont to influence most men, and to restrain judges from injustice (Luke 18:6 , “the unjust judge,” lit. “the judge of injustice ,” ὁ κριτὴς τῆς ἀδικίας ). μὴ φοβούμενος ) We are wont φοβεῖσθαι , to fear , the power of others; and ἐντρέπεσθαι , to have regard to , or reverence for , the estimation of others. [196]

[196] In the earlier age of pure Greek, ἐντρέπομαι was construed with the Genitive of the person; but from the age of Plutarch downwards, with the Accusative of the person. E. and T.

Verse 3

Luke 18:3 . Χήρα , a widow ) one who is easily exposed to injury, and cannot readily find protection among men. Such doth the Church appear to the world. ἐκδίκησον ) Hence the expression used in Luk 18:7 is ἐκδίκησις . Ἀντίδικος and ἀδικία are conjugates. ἀντιδίκου , adversary ) 1 Peter 5:8 .

Verse 4

Luke 18:4 . Ἐν ἑαυτῷ , within himself ) of his own accord. τὸν , κ . τ . λ .) The creed of an Atheist in power.

Verse 5

Luke 18:5 . Ἐκδικήσω αὐτὴν , I will avenge her ) for My own sake. ὑπωπιάζῃ , lest she beat me black and blue [197] ) An hyperbole suitable to the character of the unjust and impatient judge. Refer to this verb the words εἰς τέλος . For ἐρχομένη , is as it were παρέλκον (redundant), which might be omitted, and yet the idea of the sentence remain intact and entire; the employment of it, however, imparts to the language sweetness and characteristic feeling, etc. [See Append. on “Moratus Sermo.”] The importunity of the widow in seeking help waxed greater and greater.

[197] “Lest she weary me.” Ὑπωπιάζειν , Th. ὑπώπια , the part beneath the eye : hence to give a black eye ; as Latin, sugillo from sub cilia. Metaphorically, to tease or weary . E. and T.

Verse 6

Luke 18:6 . Εἶπε , said ) after having interposed a proper (requisite) pause, for the purpose of sharpening the attention of His hearers.

Verse 7

Luke 18:7 . Θεὸς , God ) Who is a most righteous Judge. ποιήστὴν ἐκδίκησιν , effect the avenging of ) These words are presently after repeated with the greatest force. τῶν ἐκλεκτῶν αὐτοῦ , of His own elect ) He is speaking of those elect in particular [besides the general truth taught by the parable] who were living at that time, and who were about to escape safe through the destruction of the city. βοώντων , who cry ) as being in great straits, to ask for their being avenged. [As being destitute of every other aid. This was the sacred anchor of David, Psalms 55:17-18 . V. g.] [ ἡμέρας καὶ νυκτὸς , day and night ) They severally cry night and day; but the cry of all, taken collectively, is undoubtedly altogether continuous, and never ceaseth. V. g.] μακροθυμεῖ ) A striking reading [which, though the margin of the larger Edition judged it to be the inferior reading, is notwithstanding preferred to the other reading by the Germ. Version, which follows the margin of the Second Ed. E. B. [198] ] Any one may readily perceive the force of the construction (involved) in it: The elect cry to God, but God μακροθυμεῖ , bears long (delays the answer long), in their case (respecting them). The verb of the former member of the sentence in the text passes into the participle βοώντων , who cry ; whilst the verb of the other member, μακροθυμεῖ , bears long (delays His purpose long), remains unmoved. I have brought together several examples of this construction, which has been assailed by many in all quarters, in my note on Mark 3:27 . Moreover in this passage there is commended that long-suffering [long tarrying in executing His purpose] on the part of God, whereby He regards both the wrongs done by the wicked and the sufferings of the saints in such a way (comp. Isa 64:11-12 ) [ Psa 83:1-2 ] as that He does not immediately make an end of both, although men think that His wrath against the wicked and His compassion towards the saints require a most speedy end to be made. At length there is accomplished that which is said of the just, Sir. 35:22 (Al. 32:18), οὐδὲ μὴ μακροθυμήσει ἐπʼ αὐτοῖς Κραταιός .

[198] ABDQLX read μακροθυμεῖ ; Vulg. “patientiam habebit;” Rec. Text, μακροθυμῶν , with abc. E. and T.

Verse 8

Luke 18:8 . Ἐν τάχει ) He will both “effect the avenging of His elect,” and effect it speedily . πλὴνΥἱὸς τοῦ ἀνθρώπου ἐλθὼν ἆρα εὑρήσει τὴν πίστιν ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς ; nevertheless when the Son of man shall come, whether shall He find faith on the earth? ) πλὴν , nevertheless , it is not so much the prayers of the pious (inasmuch as their faith, which evinces itself in their ‘crying,’ shall be reduced to a marvellous paucity and smallness) as the goodness and justice of God, which will accelerate the consummation. The πλὴν nevertheless , and the ἆρα , num [an interrogative which expects an answer in the negative], have great ἦθος (characteristic feeling and graphic power); the negative assertion being modified and tempered by the interrogative form of the sentence. For He shall come, before that the faith of the godly utterly fails. He does not declare that faith shall be universal; nor does He say that faith shall have been utterly at an end on the earth , replete as it shall be with iniquities and calamities, inasmuch as faith had not utterly ceased upon it even at the time of the flood, Hebrews 11:7 . It was deemed [by God] right that there should be persons who should receive the Messiah, at His first coming, with faith: Luke 1:17 [It was John the Baptist’s office accordingly “to make ready a people prepared for the Lord”]; much more therefore will it be deemed right that there should be believers, to whom He is hereafter to come, having been long expected by them [Psalms 72:5-7 ; Psa 72:17 ]; Matthew 24:31 ; Matthew 23:39 ; Matthew 25:1 , et seqq. [“Five wise ” were found when He came]; 2Th 1:10 ; 1 Thessalonians 4:17 ; 1 Corinthians 15:51 ; Hebrews 9:28 ; Revelation 22:20 . ὁ Υἱὸς τοῦ ἀνθρώπου , the Son of man ) to Whom the judgment has been assigned, John 5:22 ; John 5:27 . ἐλθὼν , when the Son of man shall come ) from heaven. For the antithesis, on the earth , follows. From the verb εὑρήσει , shall He find , the participle ἐλθὼν has the force of a future: and He is speaking of His coming to avenge His saints: 2 Thessalonians 1:8 : that is to say, He is speaking of His coming visibly for the last judgment; as the appellation, “Son of man,” leads us to infer. Comp. ch. Luke 17:24 ; Luke 17:20 . εὑρήσει , shall He find ) Comp. ch. Luke 7:9 [Jesus as to the centurion, “I have not found so great faith,” viz. though looking for it]. τὴν πίστιν ) the faith , whereby the godly trust in the Lord, and cry to Him. The hope of better times is neither confirmed nor discouraged (weakened) by this declaration. The worst of all times, and that most full of careless security, shall succeed to the better times, a time most widely removed from (most alien to) faith, a time running on to the very coming of the Son of man .

Verse 9

Luke 18:9 . Καὶ πρός τινας , also to certain persons ) Previously He had spoken to the disciples, exhorting them to perseverance in prayer: now He deters certain persons from rashness and perverse self-confidence. πεποιθότας ἐφʼ ἑαυτοῖς , who trusted in themselves ) in themselves, not in the grace of God, when praying; Luke 18:10 . The antithesis is πίστιν , faith , which has respect to God, Luke 18:8 . So πέποιθεν ἐπὶ τῇ δίκαιοσύναὐτοῦ , Ezekiel 33:13 , LXX. ὅτι , that ) For the very question at issue turns upon that, who in prayer is to be counted righteous [the self-justiciary, or he who stands righteous by faith ]. δικαιοι ) righteous , needing no justification, Luke 18:14 . The antithesis is τῷ ἁμαρτωλῷ , “me, the sinner ,” Luke 18:13 . ἐξουθενοῦντας , who made nothing of, despised ) accounting them unrighteous [as compared with themselves]. τοὺς λοιποὺς , the rest of men) all and each: Luke 18:11 .

Verse 10

Luke 18:10 . Ἀνέβησαν , went up ) from their own houses, Luke 18:14 . The temple was upon an elevation. Comp. the κατέβη , went down , Luke 18:14 . [Truly one single going (to the house of God) is very frequently of the greatest moment. V. g.] προσεύξασθαι , to pray ) In prayer, which has been the subject heretofore discussed from Luke 18:1 , the whole state of the soul is brought out in exercise. Φαρισαῖος , τελώνης , a Pharisee, a Publican ) A striking sample of both classes.

Verse 11

Luke 18:11 . Σταθεὶς , standing [199] ) confidently, in his wonted place. This reciprocal form [having taken his stand, having stationed himself ] denotes more than the neuter ἑστὼς , used of the publican presently after, in Luke 18:13 . πρὸς ἑαυτόν ) praying as one dependent on himself (“penes se ipsum,” at his own disposal), giving ear to himself, as though he could bear no man to be next him. Comp. in Luke 18:9 , πεποιθότας ἐφʼ ἑαυτοῖς , “who trusted in themselves .” εὐχαριστῶ , I give thee thanks ) By using this formula the Pharisee seems indeed to praise God [For it is with good reason, and deservedly, that thanks are rendered to GOD for deliverance from natural (temporal) destruction, if indeed that be done with truth and humility. V. g.], but in reality he congratulates (prides) himself alone on his felicity: it is of himself alone that he speaks. οἱ λοιποὶ , the rest of men ) The Pharisee divides mankind into two classes: in the one class he groups together the whole human race; the second, that is the better class, he seems to himself alone to constitute. ἅρπαγες , rapacious [extortioners]) He takes it as an established certainty, that the first and foremost class of sinners is that one under which he thinks the publican is included; in order that he may stigmatize him both in general with the rest of the class and also individually. The saving of the old poet accords with this: πάντες τελῶναι , πάντες εἰσὶν ἅρπαγες , all publicans (tax-gatherers) are all extortioners . See Gataker, Misc. posth. c. x. οὗτος , this ) Such language is indeed “the putting forth of the finger” [to point at in supercilious contempt and self-righteousness]: Isaiah 58:9 .

[199] Comp. Isaiah 65:5 , “Who say, Stand by thyself, come not near to me; for I am holier than thou.” E. and T.

Verse 12

Luke 18:12 . Νηστεύω , I fast ) The Pharisee boastingly shows that he is righteous towards God by his present prayers; and in relation to himself, by fasting: and towards other men, by paying tithes, etc. δὶς , twice ) on the second and fifth days of the week (Monday and Thursday). τοῦ Σαββάτου , the Sabbath , literally) i.e. the week. Synecdoche [a part of the week put for the whole]. πάντα ὅσα , all things whatsoever ) He boasts of his possessions.

Verse 13

Luke 18:13 . Μάκροθεν , from a distance, afar off ) not presuming to draw near. ἑστὼς ) Neither σταθεὶς ( Luk 18:11 ), taking his stand (confidently), nor falling on his knees, lest he should be looked at in praying. οὐρανὸν , heaven ) In the case of repentance, either fear is the predominant feeling, or else shame. Shame is a more ingenuous feeling than fear: ch. Luke 15:18 ; Luke 15:21 (the prodigal son); Ezekiel 16:52 . [200] Better it is when the heart is melted and softened, than when it is merely bruised and broken with terror and the fear of punishment. The particles, after the rock has been bruised into sand, retain their previous hardness; whereas the heart of flesh, which has been made out of a heart of stone, pleases God, as being His own work, and in a greater degree gives glory to Him. ἔτυπτεν , was smiting ) [continued smiting] through grief of mind. Where there is grief, there is a hand [to smite one’s self in self-reproach, as Ephraim when repentant, “After that I was instructed, I smote upon my thigh”], Jeremiah 31:19 . στῆθος , breast ) The scat of the conscience. ἱλάσθητί μοι , be propitious to me [propitiated towards me]) He does not dare to make mention of God and of himself in immediate connection. His trust was in the Divine mercy. [This same form of expression is used both by true penitents and by hypocrites. In fact, these latter steal from Scripture the services of words; and when they fell upon formulas much noted in Scripture, they seek “refuges of lies” in them, however utterly alien they may be to the very power and spirit of them. It is thus that they make their plea the dying thief (robber) seeking grace at the last hour; as also Paul “glorying in his infirmity.” V. g.] τῷ ἁμαρτωλῷ ) to me, who am the sinner . [201] He thinks of no other man save himself.

[200] And 63, “That thou mayest remember and be confounded, and never open the mouth any more because of thy shame, when I am pacified toward thee for all that thou hast done, saith the Lord God.” E. and T.

[201] So Beng. translates it unequivocally in the Vers. Germ.: “Gott, sey versuhnet mir dem sunder.” Alford is rather too rashly dogmatic in denying this force of τῷ . So as to ἱλάσθητι , as if “no doctrinal meaning could be ” in it. Had the Jews no idea of propitiation in their sacrifices? E. and T.

Verse 14

Luke 18:14 . Εἰς τὸν οἶκον , to his house [home]) whether in the parable his house be supposed to have been at Jerusalem, or in that locality where the parable was uttered. Comp. as to returning to one’s own house [Mary], ch. Luke 1:56 . ἤπερ ἐκεῖνος ) Otherwise it is read ἢ ἐκεῖνος . [202] In either case μᾶλλον is to be understood, as in ch. Luke 15:7 ; 1 Corinthians 14:19 . The Pharisee was not justified at all; for he ἐταπεινώθη , was abased .

[202] Tisch. reads ἢ γὰρ ἐκεῖνος , with APQX Δ and later Syr. Cyprian and bc have “magis (omitted by b ) quam ille Pharisæus.” Lachm. has παρʼ ἐκεὶνον , with BL Memph. Origen. D has μᾶλλον παρʼ αἰκεῖνον τὀν Φαριοαῖον : and so the Syr. Version; a , “præ illum Pharisæum:” Vulg. “ab illo.” E. and T.

Verse 15

Luke 18:15 . Καὶ τὰ βρέφη ) also infants . Therefore they hereby recognised (acknowledged) the humanity of Jesus. [These things occurred beyond Jordan, on His journey towards Jerusalem: Matthew 19:1 ; Matthew 19:13 . V. g.]

Verse 16

Luke 18:16 . Προσκαλεσάμενος , having called to Him ) the more on that account [because the disciples had ‘rebuked’ them], and with a gracious tone of voice and expression of countenance. αὐτὰ , them ) Great condescension: comp. Luke 18:19 . With good reason [as best exemplifying it Himself] He recommends ‘humility’ to us in Luke 18:14 .

Verse 17

Luke 18:17 . Παιδίον , a little child ) A παιδίον , or little child , has already somewhat of the use of his reason, so as to be able to receive , δέξασθαι (“the kingdom of God”); but the βρέφος , an infant , expresses even a lower degree, which is suited to the touch of the Saviour, Luke 18:15-16 . [The fellowship of the kingdom of heaven consists for the most part of little children. V. g.]

Verse 18

Luke 18:18 . Ἄρχων , a ruler ) and that ruler a youth, Matthew 19:20 . [It was not so much the dignity of his rank, as his personal wealth, that influenced him, a young man though he was (whose besetting sin is not usually love of money), to draw back from the Saviour. V. g.]

Verse 20

Luke 18:20 . Τίμα , honour ) even though thou art a ruler : Luke 18:18 .

Verse 22

Luke 18:22 . Διάδος ) distribute, thyself . To do so is wont to impart great joy to the godly.

Verse 23

[23. Περίλυπος ἐγένετο , he was much saddened [very sorrowful]) The rich Zaccheus obtained what was much better in his joy ( i.e. by his joyfully receiving Christ, than the rich ruler did by going away from Him in sorrow), ch. Luke 19:6 . V. g.]

Verse 27

Luke 18:27 . Δύνατα , possible ) An example of the possibility is afforded in the case of Zaccheus, ch. Luke 19:2 ; Luke 19:9 .

Verse 30

Luke 18:30 . Ἀπολάβη , who shall not receive ). καιρῶ , time, season ) This expresses something more near at hand, than if He had said αἰῶνι , world, age , as in the succeeding member of the sentence.

Verse 31

Luke 18:31 . Παραλαβὼν , having taken to Him ) in private: Matthew 20:17 . πάντα τὰ γεγραμμένα , all things that are written ) Jesus made of the utmost consequence those things which had been written. The Word of God, which is in Scripture, is the rule of all the things which shall come to pass, even of the things which shall come to pass in the life eternal. τῷ ) The Dative expresses the force of ל prefixed, i.e. “as concerns the Son of man:” and there is included the notion of the Dativus commodi. See the end of Luke 18:33 . [203]

[203] “He shall rise again.” This was written for the Son of man for His glory. E. and T.

Verse 32

Luke 18:32 . Ἐμπαιχθήσεται , He shall be mocked ) in jeering sport (being made game of). ὑβρισθήσεται , He shall he loaded with insults ) in deliberate earnest.

Verse 34

Luke 18:34 . Καὶ , καὶ , καὶ , and, and, and ) An ascending climax. τὸ ῥῆμα τοῦτο , this saying ) put forth by the Lord. οὐκ ἐγίνωσκον ) they did not perceive the meaning of (recognise and acknowledge); they shrunk back in horror from it, as something strange and unheard of: so in Romans 7:15 , “For that which I do, οὐ γινώσκω , I do not recognise ,” as good (“I allow not,” Engl. Vers.) They felt conscious that something disagreeable was being spoken, Matthew 16:22 ; but they did not in that consciousness go forward to the point, to which they ought to have gone.

Verse 35

[35. Τοφλός τις , a certain blind man ) concerning whose companion see the note on Matthew 20:30 . V. g.]

Verse 36

Luke 18:36 . Τοῦτο , this ) viz. this great crowd.

Verse 38

Luke 18:38 . Υἱὲ Δαυὶδ , Son of David ) The faith of the blind man is not offended, because the Saviour was called “Jesus of Nazareth .”

Verse 39

[39. Πολλῷ μᾶλλον , so much the more ) It is good to repel, in this way, interruptions of every kind (in our coming to Jesus). V. g.]

Verse 43

Luke 18:43 . Ἰδὼν , having seen ) the miracle wrought by Jesus; as also having seen the holy joy of the man, on whom sight had been bestowed.

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Bibliographical Information
Bengel, Johann Albrecht. "Commentary on Luke 18". Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament. 1897.