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Then he called his twelve disciples together, and gave them power and authority over all devils, and to cure diseases.
For the exposition, see the notes at Matthew 10:1; Matthew 10:5-40.10.15.
Now Herod the tetrarch heard of all that was done by him: and he was perplexed, because that it was said of some, that John was risen from the dead;
For the exposition, see the notes at Mark 6:14-41.6.16.
And the apostles, when they were returned, told him all that they had done. And he took them, and went aside privately into a desert place belonging to the city called Bethsaida.
For the exposition, see the notes at Mark 6:30-41.6.44.
And it came to pass, as he was alone praying, his disciples were with him: and he asked them, saying, Whom say the people that I am?
For the exposition, see the notes at Matthew 16:13-40.16.28.
The time and occasion of this section, which are of the utmost importance to the right comprehension of it, are most definitely fixed in the opening words of it.
And it came to pass about an eight days after these sayings, he took Peter and John and James, and went up into a mountain to pray.
And it came to pass, about an eight days after these sayings - meaning, after the first startling announcement of His approaching Sufferings and Death. Matthew and Mark say it was "after six days;" but they exclude the day on which "these sayings" were uttered and the Transfiguration day, while our Evangelist includes them. Now, since all the three Evangelists so definitely connect the Transfiguration with this announcement of His Death-so unexpected by the Twelve and so depressing-there can be no doubt that the primary intention of it was to manifest the glory of that Death in the view of Heaven, to irradiate the Redeemer's sufferings, to transfigure the Cross. It will appear, by and by, that the scene took place at night.
He took Peter and John and James - partners before in secular business, now selected, as a kind of sacred triumvirate, to be, sole witnesses, first, of the resurrection of Jairus' daughter (Mark 5:37), next, of the Transfiguration, and finally, of the Agony in the garden (Mark 14:33),
And went up into at mountain - probably not mount Tabor, according to long tradition, with which the facts scarcely comport, but rather some mountain in the vicinity of the sea of Galilee,
To pray - for the period He had now reached was a critical and anxious one. But who can adequately express those "strong cryings and tears"? Methinks, as I steal by, His side, I hear from Him these plaintive cries, 'Lord, Who hath believed our report? I am come unto mine own, and mine own receive Me not; I am become a stranger unto my brethren, an alien to my mother's children: Consider mine enemies, because they are many, and they hate me with cruel hatred. Arise, O Lord, let not man prevail. Thou that dwellest between the cherubim, shine forth: Show me a token for good: Father, glorify thy name.' These strong cryings and tears pierced the skies: they entered into the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth.
And as he prayed, the fashion of his countenance was altered, and his raiment was white and glistering.
And as he prayed, the fashion of his countenance was altered. Before He cried He was answered, and while he was yet speaking He was heard. Blessed interruption to prayer this!
And his raiment was white and glistering. [ exastraptoon (G1823)]. Matthew says "His face did shine as the sun, and his raiment was white as the light" (Matthew 17:2). Mark's description is, as usual, intense and vivid: "His raiment became shining" [ stilbonte (G4744)] or 'glittering,' "exceeding white as snow [ leuka (G3022) lian (G3029) hoos (G5613) chioon (G5510)], so as no fuller on earth can white them" (Mark 9:3) These particulars were doubtless communicated to Mark by Peter, on whom they made such deep impression, that in his second Epistle he refers to them in language of special strength and grandeur (2 Peter 1:16-61.1.18). Putting all the accounts together, it would appear that the light shone, not upon Him from without, but out of Him from within: He was all irradiated: It was one blaze of dazzling celestial glory; it was Himself glorified. What a contrast now to that "visage more marred than any man, and His form than the sons of men"! (Isaiah 52:14).
And, behold, there talked with him two men, which were Moses and Elias:
And, behold, there talked with him two men, which were Moses and Elias. Who, exclaims Bengel, would not have believed these were angels (compare Acts 1:10; Mark 16:5), had not their human names been subjoined? Moses represented "the law," Elijah "the prophets," and both together the whole testimony of the Old Testament Scriptures and the Old Testament saints, to Christ; now not borne in a book, but by living men, not to a coming, but a come Messiah, visibly, because they "appeared," and audibly, because they "spake."
Who appeared in glory, and spake of his decease which he should accomplish at Jerusalem.
Who appeared in glory and spake [ elegon (G3004 ), rather, 'and were speaking'] of his decease, [ teen (G3588) exodon (G1841) autou (G846)] - 'of His exodus;' 'His exit,' or 'His departure.' Beautiful euphemism (or softened expression) for death, which Peter, who witnessed the scene, uses in his second Epistle to express his own death, and the use of which single term seems to have recalled the whole scene by a sudden rush of recollection, which he accordingly describes in language of uncommon grandeur (2 Peter 1:15-61.1.18).
Which he should accomplish [ heen (G3739 ) eemellen (G3195 ) pleeroun (G4137 ), 'which He was going to fulfil'] at Jerusalem. Mark the historical and local character which Christ's death possessed in the eye of these glorified men, as vital as it is charming; and see the note at Luke 2:11. What now may be gathered from this statement? First, That a dying Messiah is the great article of the true Jewish theology. For a long time the Church had fallen clean away from the faith of this article, and even from a preparedness to receive it. But here we have that jewel brought forth from the heap of Jewish traditions, and by the true representatives of the Church of old made the one subject of talk with Christ Himself. Next, The adoring gratitude of glorified men for His undertaking to accomplish such a decease; their felt dependence upon it for the glory in which the appeared; their profound interest in the progress of it; their humble solaces and encouragements to go through with it; and their sense of its peerless and overwhelming glory.
'Go, matchless, adore One, a Lamb to the slaughter! rejected of men, but chosen of God and precious; dishonoured, abhorred and soon to be slain by men, but worshipped by cherubim, ready to be greeted by all heaven! In virtue of that decease we are here; our all is suspended on it and wrapt up in it. Thine every step is watched by us with ineffable interest; and though it were too high an honour to us to be permitted to drop a word of cheer into that precious but now clouded spirit, yet, as ourselves the first-fruits of harvest, the very joy set before Him, we cannot choose but tell Him that what, is the depth of shame to Him is covered with glory in the eyes of heaven, that the Cross to Him is the Crown to us, that that "decease" is all our salvation and all our desire.' And who can doubt that such a scene did minister deep cheer to that spirit? 'Tis said they "talked" not Him, but "with Him;" and if they told Him how glorious His decease was, might He not fitly reply, 'I know it all, but your voice, as messengers from heaven come down to tell it me, is music in mine ears.'
But Peter and they that were with him were heavy with sleep: and when they were awake, they saw his glory, and the two men that stood with him.
But Peter and they that were with him were heavy with sleep: and when they were awake, [ diagreegoreesantes (G1235) de (G1161)]. So certainly mint interpreters Understand the expression. But as the word signifies, not 'to awake,' but 'to keep awake,' which agrees much better with the manifest intention of the Evangelist, we should either, with Meyer and Alford, render the words, 'but having kept, awake,' or, better still perhaps, with Olshausen, 'having roused themselves up,' or shaken off their drowsiness. From Luke 8:37 it would appear that this Transfiguration scene took place during night, and that the Lord must have passed the whole night on the mountain; because it was "the next day" before He and the three "came down from the hill." This will account for the drowsiness of the disciples.
They saw his glory, and the two men that stood with him. The emphasis here lies on the word "saw;" so that they were "eye-witnesses of His majesty," as one of them long afterward testifies that they were (2 Peter 1:16). In like manner, Elijah made it the one condition of Elisha's getting a double portion of his spirit after he went away, that he should see him ascend: "If thou see me taken from thee, it shall be so unto thee; but if not, it shall not be so." Accordingly, immediately after the record of Elijah's translation, it is added, "And Elisha saw it" (2 Kings 2:10; 2 Kings 2:12).
And it came to pass, as they departed from him, Peter said unto Jesus, Master, it is good for us to be here: and let us make three tabernacles; one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias: not knowing what he said.
And it came to pass, as they departed from him, Peter said unto Jesus, Master, it is good for us to be here: and let us make three tabernacles; one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias: not knowing what he said. Peter's speech was so far not amiss. It was indeed good, very good to be there; but for the rest of it, the best that can be said is what our Evangelist says, that he knew not what he said. The poor man's words in such circumstances must not be scrutinized too closely. The next step put an end to the hallucination. The cloud and the voice effectually silenced him.
While he thus spake, there came a cloud, and overshadowed them: and they feared as they entered into the cloud.
While he thus spake, there came a cloud - not one of our watery clouds, but the Shechinah cloud, the pavilion of the manifested presence of God with His people on earth, what Peter calls "the excellent" or "magnificent glory" [ tees (G3588) megaloprepous (G3169) doxees (G1391)], 2 Peter 1:17.
And overshadowed them: and they feared as they entered into the cloud.
And there came a voice out of the cloud, saying, This is my beloved Son: hear him.
And there came a voice out of the cloud - "such a voice," says Peter emphatically [ foonees (G5456) toiasde (G5107)]. "And this voice" he adds "we heard when we were with him in the holy mount" (2 Peter 1:17-61.1.18). There must have been something very unearthly and awe-striking in the sound, especially as the articulate vehicle of such a testimony to Christ, to be thus recalled.
Saying, This is my beloved son - "in whom I am well pleased" (Matthew 17:5):
Hear him: Hear Him reverentially, hear Him implicitly hear Him alone.
And when the voice was past, Jesus was found alone. And they kept it close, and told no man in those days any of those things which they had seen.
And when the voice was past, Jesus was found alone. Moses and Elias are gone. Their work is done, and they have disappeared from the scene, feeling no doubt with their fellow-servant the Baptist, "He must increase, but I must decrease." The cloud too is gone, and the naked majestic Christ, braced in spirit, and enshrined in the reverent affection of His disciples, is left-to suffer! Matthew (Matthew 17:6-40.17.8) is more full here: "And when the disciples heard [the voice], they fell on their face, and were sore afraid (Luke 8:6). And Jesus came and touched them, and said, Arise, and be not afraid (Luke 8:7.) And when they had lifted up their eyes, they saw no man except Jesus alone (Luke 8:8).
And they kept it close, and told no man in those days any of those things which they had seen - feeling, for once, at least, that such things were unmeet as yet for general disclosure.
(1) We know how the first announcement which our Lord made to the Twelve of His approaching sufferings and death startled and shocked them. We how, too, with what sternness Peter's entreaty that his Lord would spare Himself was met and put down (Matthew 16:21, etc.) But it is only by studying the recorded connection between these disclosures and the Transfiguration that we gather how protracted had been the depression produced upon the Twelve, and how this probably reacted upon the mind even of our Lord Himself. After the lapse of a week, and during a night of prayer spent on a mountain, that death, the announcement of which had been so trying to His most select disciples, is suddenly presented in a new and astonishing light, as engaging the wonder and interest of heaven. No doubt, such a view of it was needed. As the Twelve were beyond all doubt reassured by it, so it is not to be doubted that the Redeemer's own spirit was cheered and invigorated by it.
(2) We have tried to conceive what might be the strain of those "prayers and supplications, with strong crying and tears" which Jesus poured out on that mountain, before the glory broke forth from Him. But much must be left unimagined, 'He filled the silent night with His crying,' says Traill beautifully, 'and watered the cold earth with His tears, more precious than the dew of Mount Hermon, or any moisture, next unto His own blood, that ever fell on God's earth since the creation.'
(3) "As He prayed the fashion of His countenance was altered." Thanks to God, transfiguring manifestations are not quite strangers here. Ofttimes in the deepest depths, out of groanings which cannot be uttered, God's dear children are suddenly transported to a kind of heaven upon earth, and their soul is made as the chariots of Amminadib. Their prayers fetch down such light, strength, holy gladness, as makes their face to shine, putting a kind of celestial radiance upon it. (Compare 2 Corinthians 3:18, with Exodus 34:29-2.34.35.)
(4) What a testimony have we here to the evangelical scope of the whole ancient economy. Not only is Christ the great End of it all, but a dying Christ. Nor are we to dissever the economy from the saints that were reared, under it. In heaven, at least, they regard that "Decease" as all their salvation and all their desire, as we see beautifully here. For here, fresh from heaven, and shining with the glory of it, when permitted to talk with Him, they speak not of His miracles, nor of His teaching, nor of the honour which he put upon their Scriptures, nor upon the unreasonable opposition to Him and His patient endurance of it: They speak not of the glory they were themselves enshrined in, and the glory which He was so soon to reach. Their one subject of talk is "His decease which he was going to accomplish at Jerusalem." One fancies he might hear them saying "Worthy is the Lamb that is to be slain!" Those, then, who see no suffering, dying Messiah in the Old Testament read it amiss, if this Transfiguration-scene mean anything at all.
(5) In the light of this interview between the two great representatives of the ancient economy and Christ, what are we to think of that theory which some modern advocates of the personal reign of Christ on earth during the millennium contend for-that the saints of the Old Testament are never to be glorified with the Church of the New Testament, but to occupy the lower sphere of a resurrection to some earthly or Adamic condition? The speculation in itself is repulsive enough, and void enough of anything like Scripture support. But in the light of such a scene as this, may we not call it intolerable?
(6) What think ye of Christ? Are ye in sympathy with heaven about Him? Doubtless the hymn of the New Testament Church which best accords with this celestial talk on the mount of Transfiguration is that of the rapt seer in Patmos: "Unto Him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in His own blood, and hath made us kings and priests unto God and His Father, to Him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen" (Revelation 1:5-66.1.6).
(7) How cheering is the view here given of the intermediate state between death and the resurrection! No doubt Elijah was translated that He should not see death. But Moses died and was buried. We speak not of those shining bodies, which we know that even angels put on when they came down to talk to the women at the sepulchre of their Lord. But the disembodied saints cannot be conceived to have come down from heaven and talked with Christ as living conscious beings, if the state of the soul between death and the resurrection be one of unconscious sleep; no, nor if it be in a state perfectly passive, as some good but too speculative divines endeavour to make out. For here is active thought and feeling, aye, and deepest interest in what is passing on earth, particularly what relates to the work, and so, the kingdom of Christ. We presume not to "intrude into these things which we have not seen, vainly puffed up by a fleshly mind." But to the extent we have just expressed, we seem to be on sure Scripture ground.
(8) "This is my beloved Son." Is He our Beloved?
(9) "Hear Him" Are we doing that? Is His word law to us? Do we like it when it speaks sharp as well as smooth things; when it tells of the worm that dieth not, and the fire that is not quenched, as well as of the many mansions in His Father's house! Does Christ's word carry it over everything that comes into collision with it? And would it not help us just to think, that whatever Christ speaks, the Father is standing over us, as it enters our ears, and saying, 'Hear that.'
Thus, "Except a man be born again, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God" - `Hear Him.' "Come unto Me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest" - `Hear that.' When dark and crushing events are ready to overwhelm us, "What I do thou, knowest not now, but thou shalt know hereafter" - `Hear Him.' When walking through the valley of the shadow of death, "I am the Resurrection and the Life: he that believeth in Me, though he were dead, yet shall he live; and he that liveth and believeth in Me shall never die" - `Hear Him!'
(10) "It came to pass, as they departed. from Him." Ah! Bright manifestations in this vale of tears are always "departing" manifestations. But the time is coming when our sun shall no more go down, and the glory shall never be withdrawn.
(11) "Jesus was left alone." And alone He abidingly is and ever will be in the eyes of all heaven, earth, and hell-unique, sole: the Alpha and Omega of all God's purposes, the Church's hopes, and hell's fears!
(12) When the three disciples heard the voice from heaven, "they fell on their face, and were sore afraid." But Jesus was not. He was not in the least discomposed. He "came and touched them, and said, Arise, and be not afraid" (Matthew 17:6-40.17.7) How was this? Why it was His proper element. A mere man would, as we say, have had his head turned by such a demonstration in His behalf. At least he would have taken time to recover himself, and get down to his proper level But Jesus-amidst all this blaze of glory, and celestial talk, and the voice from within the cloud, the voice of God Himself, proclaiming Him His beloved Son, whom all are to hear-is perfectly at home. But indeed it was only a faint anticipation of what He will be when He shall come in His own glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.
(13) Well might Peter, looking back, near the close of his life, to this scene, say, "We have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eye-witnesses of His majesty. For He received from God the Father honour and glory, when there came such a voice to Him from the excellent glory [ megaloprepous (G3169) doxees (G1391)], This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. And this voice which came from heaven, we heard, when we were with Him in the holy mount" (2 Peter 1:16-61.1.18). But, as that chastened disciple delightfully adds, there is something better than even this: "We have also what is firmer, the prophetic word [ Kai (G2532) echomen (G2192) bebaioteron (G949) ton (G3588) profeetikon (G4397) logon (G3056)]; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the, day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts" (see the note at 2 Peter 1:19). "Until the day break, and the shadows flee away, turn, my Beloved, and be thou like a roe, a young hart, upon the mountains of Bether" (Song of Solomon 2:17).
And it came to pass, that on the next day, when they were come down from the hill, much people met him.
For the exposition, see the notes at Mark 9:14-41.9.32.
Then there arose a reasoning among them, which of them should be greatest.
For the exposition, see the notes at Mark. 33-37 .
It is a remarkable characteristic of this Gospel that the contents of nearly nine chapters of it-beginning with this section (Luke 9:51), and going down to Luke 18:14 - are, with the exception of two or three short passages, unique to itself. Since there are scarcely any marks of time and place in all this special portion, it is difficult to fix these with any certainty. But there is reason to believe that the earlier portion of it belongs to the period to our Lord's final journey from Galilee-which was probably a circuitous journey, with the view, perhaps, of ministering localities not before visited; and that the latter portion of it belongs to the intervals between the Feast of Tabernacles and that of the Dedication, in our Lord's last year (see the note at John 10:22), and between the Feast of the Dedication and that of His Last Passover-during which intervals our Lord appears to have sojourned chiefly in Peraea, within the jurisdiction of Herod Antipas.
And it came to pass, when the time was come that he should be received up, he stedfastly set his face to go to Jerusalem,
And it came to pass, when the time was come that he should be received up, [ en (G1722) too (G3588) sumpleerousthai (G4845) tas (G3588) heemeras (G2250) tees (G3588) analeempseoos (G354) autou (G846)] - rather, 'when the days of His assumption were fulfilling,' or 'in course of fulfillment:' meaning not His death, as Calvin some others take it, but His exaltation to the Father, as Grotius, Bengel, de Wette, Meyer, Olshausen, Alford, van Osterzee understand it. It is a sublime expression, taking the sweep of His whole career, as if at one bound He was about to vault into glory. It divides the work of Christ in the flesh into two great stages; all that preceded this belonging to the one, and all that follows it to the other. During the one, He formally "came to His own," and "would have gathered them;" during the other, the awful consequences of "His own receiving Him not," rapidly revealed themselves.
He stedfastly set his face to go to Jerusalem, [ kai (G2532) autos (G846) to (G3588) prosoopon (G4383) autou (G846) esteerixe (G4741)]. The "He" is emphatic here; and the spirit in which He "set (or fixed) his face steadfastly" [= suwm (H7760) paaniym (H6440), Jeremiah 21:10; Ezekiel 6:2, which in the Septuagint is the same as here] "to go to Jerusalem," is best expressed in His own prophetic language, "I have set my face like a flint" (Isaiah 50:7). See the note at Mark 10:32, and Remark 1 at the close of that section. Jerusalem was His goal; but the reference here to His final visit must be understood as including two preparatory visits to it, at the feasts of Tabernacles and of Dedication (John 7:2; John 7:10; John 10:22-43.10.23), with all the intermediate movements and events.
And sent messengers before his face: and they went, and entered into a village of the Samaritans, to make ready for him.
And sent messengers before his face: and they went, and entered into a village of the Samaritans, to make ready for him. He had given no such orders before; but now, instead of avoiding, He seems to court publicity-all now hastening to maturity.
And they did not receive him, because his face was as though he would go to Jerusalem.
And they did not receive him, because his face was as though he would go to Jerusalem. The Galileans, in going to the festivals at Jerusalem, usually took the Samaritan route (Joseph. Antt. 20: 6. 1), and yet seem to have met with no such inhospitality. But if they were asked to prepare quarters for the Messiah, in the person of one whose face was as though He would go to Jerusalem, their national prejudices would be raised at so marked a slight upon their claims. (See the note at John 4:20).
And when his disciples James and John saw this, they said, Lord, wilt thou that we command fire to come down from heaven, and consume them, even as Elias did?
And when his disciples James and John saw this, they said, Lord, wilt thou that we command fire to come down from heaven, and consume them. It was not Peter who spoke this, as we should have expected, but those "sons of thunder" (Mark 3:17), who afterward would have all the highest honours of the Kingdom to themselves, and the younger of whom had been rebuked already for his exclusiveness (Luke 9:49-42.9.50). Yet this was "the disciple whom Jesus Loved," while the other willingly drank of His Lord's bitter cup. (See the notes at Mark 10:38-41.10.40, and at Acts 12:2.) And that same fiery zeal, in a mellowed and hallowed form, in the beloved disciple, we find kindling up-in view of deadly error and ecclesiastical presumption-in 2 John 1:10, and 3 John 1:10,
Even as Elias did? - a plausible precedent, and the more so, perhaps, as it also occurred in Samaria (2 Kings 1:10-12.1.12).
But he turned, and rebuked them, and said, Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of.
But he turned, and rebuked them, and said, Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of. 'The thing ye demand, though in keeping with the legal, is unsuited to the genius of the evangelical dispensation.' The sparks of unholy indignation would seize readily enough on this example of Elias; but our Lord's rebuke, as is plain from Luke 9:56, is directed to the principle involved rather than the animal heat which doubtless prompted the reference.
For the Son of man is not come to destroy men's lives, but to save them. And they went to another village.
For the Son of man is not come to destroy men's lives, but to save them - a saying truly divine, of which, all His miracles-for salvation, never destruction-were one continued illustration.
And they went to another village - illustrating His own precept (Matthew 10:23), "When they persecute you in one city, flee ye to another." Tischendorf and Tregelles greatly curtail the text in this passage, leaving out all that we here enclose in brackets: Luke 9:54. [Even as Elias.] Luke 9:55. But he turned and rebuked them, [and said, Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of. Luke 9:56. For the Son of man is not come to destroy men's lives, but to save them.] Lachmann admits, "Even as Elias," but excludes all the rest. The authority on which this is done, though ancient and weighty, is decidedly inferior, in our judgment, to that in favour of the received text-so far as Luke 9:54-42.9.55, are concerned. For the exclusion of Luke 9:56 the authorities are more formidable; and some critics, who abide by the received text up to that verse, think themselves bound to reject it, as probably inserted from Matthew 17:11, and Luke 19:10. But we agree with Alford in retaining the whole, on internal as well as external evidence. The saying in Matthew 18:11 cannot fairly be identified with this one.
Remarks: How easily may the heat of human anger mingle with zeal for the Lord, and be confounded with it, as in the case of James and John here; and how slow are we to learn that "the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God" (James 1:20). Confounding the Legal and the Evangelical dispensations, has been the fruitful source, as of woeful corruption of the worship of God, so of hateful persecution in the name of religion. While attempts to graft the spirit of the ancient ritual upon the worship of the Christian Church has led to a monstrous caricature of the temple-service and the Aaronic priesthood in the Church of Rome, the merciless vengeance which was required to be taken, and which sometimes miraculously descended, upon the despisers of Moses' law has been regarded as the model and law of the Christian Church; and Christian magistrates have been hounded on-not by the Church of Rome only, but, alas! by others also-to execute what was called the just judgment of God upon the unbelieving and the heretical But that great saying of Christ, "The Son of man is not come to destroy men's lives, but to save them," should forever banish and brand such a mode of treating errorists as contrary to the entire genius of the Gospel. It is a golden saying of Tillotson, as Webster and Wilkinson remark, that we should never do anything for religion which is against religion.
And it came to pass, that, as they went in the way, a certain man said unto him, Lord, I will follow thee whithersoever thou goest.
For the exposition, see the notes at Matthew 8:18-40.8.22.
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Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Luke 9". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week after Epiphany