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3. Lord, Teach us to Pray (Luke 11:1-13)
(In part parallel to Matthew 6:9-13; Matthew 7:7-11.)
1And it came to pass, that, as he was praying in a certain place, when he ceased, one of his disciples said unto him, Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples.2And he said unto them, When ye pray, say, Our [om., Our1] Father which art in heaven [om., which art in heaven], Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, as in heaven, so in earth [omit this sentence2]. 3Give us day by day our daily bread. 4And forgive us our sins; for we [ourselves, αὐτοὶ] also forgive every one that is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil 5[omit this clause3].—And he said unto them, Which of you shall have a friend, and shall go unto him at midnight, and say unto him, Friend, lend me three loaves; 6For a friend of mine in his journey [from a journey, transf. after is come] is come to me, and I have nothing to set before him? 7And he from within shall answer and say, Trouble me not: the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot rise and give thee.4 8I say unto you, Though he will not rise and give him, because he is his friend, yet because of his importunity [lit., shamelessness, ἀναίδειαν] he will rise and give him as many [loaves] as he needeth. 9And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall begiven you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. 10For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened. 11If a son shall ask bread of any of you that is a father, will he give him a stone? or if he ask a fish, will he for a fish give him a serpent? 12Or if he shall ask an egg, will he offer him a scorpion? 13If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children; how much more shall your heavenly Father give5 the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?
EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL
Luke 11:1. In a certain place.—The place is not more particularly designated by Luke, but if we may allow play to conjecture, the school of prayer was opened in the neighborhood of the same place in which the school of faith had lately been opened, namely, Bethany; for Luke attaches this account immediately to the domestic scene in the house of Mary and Martha, and since from other passages it is known that the Saviour was especially accustomed to pray on the summits of mountains, we are almost spontaneously brought to think here of the Mount of Olives, the subsequent theatre of His conflict and of His coronation (comp. Luke 21:37). That the historical trait, Luke 11:1, has been invented by the Evangelists merely in order to find a suitable occasion for the communication of the Lord’s Prayer (Strauss), is an unsupported conjecture. Do we not know from other passages that our Saviour was often accustomed to seclude Himself for solitary prayer, that John had actually taught his disciples to pray (Luke 5:33), and that some of these disciples had passed over to Jesus, and might yet very well remember this fact ?
Luke 11:2. Father.—First of all the question is whether the Saviour gave the precept of the most perfect prayer twice or only once. From internal grounds, the latter appears to us more probable, and we therefore believe that not Matthew but Luke has communicated the same in its original historical connection. If the Saviour had already communicated the Lord’s Prayer in the Sermon on the Mount to His auditors as a model of prayer, He would then have hardly omitted, at the question, “Teach us to pray,” to have referred them to His former instruction. At the same time it appears to us less congruous that the Saviour should for the first time have uttered this precept as a portion of a longer discourse before thousands of hearers; far more probable is it that it was first imparted to a smaller circle of disciples on a different occasion, and from this centre was more generally diffused. The view (Stier, Tholuck) that what was uttered in the Sermon on the Mount was not till afterwards given as a fixed precept, is a way, of relieving the difficulty that testifies of perplexity. The words in Matthew, οὕτως οὖν προσεύχ. ὑμεῖς, certainly do not properly convey any other sense than the commencement here in Luke, ὅταν προσεύχ. λέγετε, κ.τ.λ. Matthew does not give the Lord’s Prayer in the Sermon on the Mount because it was there for the first time uttered, but because the preceding instruction of our Lord respecting prayer in secret offered him a fitting occasion for it.
Thy name … Thy kingdom.—See Lange on Matthew 6:9.
Luke 11:3. Our daily bread.—Ἐπιούσιος is that which we need for our οὐσία, our existence, and therefore not daily bread, for this is already implied in the σήμερον of Matthew, as also in the καθ̓ ἠμέραν of Luke; and tautologies in such a prayer ought certainly not to be presupposed; but it signifies, sufficient bread for the sustenance of our life, panis sufficiens. The most one-sided spiritualism alone can take offence that here at least one prayer ascends for temporal necessities. Jesus designed His precept not for angels but for men, and were the view of Stier and others true, that here we are to understand spiritual bread also, it might then be doubted whether in this case a limiting σή μερον would stand with it. The Jews, at least, had scarcely heard of heavenly bread when they immediately pray: “Lord, evermore give us this bread”, John 6:34.—The precept, Matthew 6:34, is alone applicable to temporal but not to eternal affairs, and this whole petition contains, even when it is exclusively used of earthly necessities, a striking reminder of the saying, Matthew 6:33. Other views see given in Lange, ad loc.
The words which according to Gregory of Nyssa (Luke 11:2) must have been read instead of the ἐλθέτω ἡβασ. σου, namely, ἐκθέτω τὸ ἅγιον πνεῦμά σου ἐφ̓ἡμᾶς καὶ καθαρισάτω ἡμᾶς, appear to be nothing more than an old gloss arising from Luke 11:13. The external authority of this reading is at least too insignificant to allow it to be regarded with Volkman, Hilgenfeld, Zeller, as the original.
Luke 11:4. For we ourselves also forgive.—In Matthew ὡς. By no means is the willingness of the suppliant a ground upon which God can bestow on him forgiveness, but rather a subjective condition without which he has no boldness to entreat the forgiveness of his own sins. Comp. 1 John 4:18-19.
Lead us not into temptation.—As the prayer for daily bread raises us above care for to-day, and the prayer for the forgiveness of sins is meant to quiet us concerning the past, so is the prayer against temptation a weapon for the uncertain future. The sense of the difficult expression can only be determined ex opposite in Matthew: ἀλλὰ ῥῦσαι, κ.τ.λ. We pray, therefore, that God would not lead us into such temptation as would certainly occasion us to fall under the might of evil, as it is that from which we wish to be redeemed. God leads us into such temptation when He gives us over to the evil desires of our heart. (See e.g. 2 Samuel 24:1.) “The temptation is here the more critical probation occasioned by the previously-named guilt, and the ‘Lead us not into it’ the consequence of the ‘Forgive us. Let us not experience the consequences of our guilt in intenser probationary trials.” Lange.
As respects, moreover, this precept in general, nothing hinders us from complementing the imperfect account of Luke from that of Matthew; and if we do this we obtain six—or according to the more apparently correct enumeration, seven—petitions, in which all is expressed which the disciple of the Saviour has to pray for, as well for the glory of God as also for the advancement of his own temporal and spiritual well-being. “All the tones of the human breast which go from earth to heaven sound here in their key-notes.” Stier. Although it cannot be that the Saviour meant to establish here a formula that was to be repeated every time ad literam, He however answers here the question of His disciples, Luke 11:1, in so far as He plainly shows them what and how they must pray. With the exception of one petition—the fifth—the Lord’s Prayer expresses all that the Saviour in the days of His flesh could beg from the Father, and also all which according to His will His own should entreat for themselves in His name. As respects, 1. the contents of the prayer, He teaches them a. to pray as well for temporal as also for spiritual necessities, but, b. still more for spiritual than for temporal: one petition is only for daily bread; five, on the other hand, are devoted to higher concerns; c. that the glorifying of the name of God must stand yet more in the foreground than the fulfilment of our necessities: we first hear a threefold Thy before we hear a threefold us. And as respects 2. our frame of mind in this prayer, the Saviour here teaches us to pray, a. in deep reverence, b. in child-like confidence, c. in a spirit of love for others.
As respects the value of this precept, the singular fancy of Herder in his explications of the New Testament, that the Pater Noster could be derived from an oriental source, from the Zend Avesta, has been weighed by later science and found wanting, and even so does the assurance of Wetstein: “tota hœc oratio ex formulis Hebraicis concinnata est,” at all events affirm too much. For the fourth and fifth petitions there are no parallels whatever extant; for the third and sixth only imperfect ones. For the first two there are the most, yet by no means literal ones; and here also, with reference to the Saviour, we are not to overlook the truth: “Even when the popular culture offered Him what was noble and true, it worked ever only as a stimulus for His own inner development, and even that which He has received He reproduces renovated from His creative power of life.” Olshausen. In no case can this partial agreement with others take from this model anything of its high worth. Not so much in particular expressions, as rather in the tenor and spirit, in the arrangement and climax of the whole, lies its peculiar worth, and those who can assert of the Pater Noster that it is only a joining together of Rabbinic expressions, might assure us with the same right that from a suitable number of single arms, legs, and members, one could compose an animated human body. We honor much more the wisdom of the Saviour in this, that He would teach His disciples no chords which would have been entirely strange to their unpractised lips, and in vain do we seek here for the traces of a limited Judaistic spirit. So brief is it, that it does not even weary the simplest spirit, and yet so perfect that nothing is therein wholly forgotten: so simple in words that even a child comprehends it, and yet so rich in matter that the principal truths and promises and duties are here presupposed, confirmed, or impressed, and that Tertullian with right named it a breviarium totius evangelii. How often soever it may have been misused, especially where it has been turned into a spiritless formula of prayer, while men have forgotten that it only expresses the lofty fundamental ideas which must prevail in the exercise of prayer, it remains yet continually a goldmine for Christian faith, a standard for Christian prayer, a prop for Christian hope. Respecting the history and use of this prayer, comp. Tholuck, Berg predigt. Respecting its value, Stier, Reden Jesu, vol. i. pp. 194–224; Lange, L. J. ii. pp. 609–618, Lange on Matthew, ad loc.
Luke 11:5. Which of you.—A parabolic representation which is only found in Luke, and is attached so loosely to the preceding instruction, that possibly the Master delivered it at another time, and it is given here only on account of the connection of thought. The purpose is, as also in the parable of the Unrighteous Judge (Luke 18:1-8), to encourage, to perseverance in prayer. The example is taken entirely from daily life, and shows anew with what sharp penetration our Lord observed the common occurrences and experiences of the same.—Three loaves.—“Unum pro hospite, unum pro me, unum supernumerarium, honoris causa. Mire popularis h. l. est sermo.” Bengel. It is striking how much more friendly the request is than the first answer, which does not begin with φίλε, and very plainly betrays ill-humor.
Luke 11:8. Because of his importunity, ἁναίδεια here in direct reference to prayer as unweariedness, perseverance in its highest energy. God wishes a faith which is not ashamed of endurance, and which therewith entertains the highest expectations.
Luke 11:9. Ask, and it shall he given you.—A definite assurance of a special hearing of prayer, from which it results that prayer has not only a subjective influence for our tranquillizing, our comfort, etc., but also an objective, procuring us from God what He without the prayer would certainly not have bestowed upon us. Here also, as so often throughout the Old Testament, we have a God who permits Himself to be entreated, and in the conflict with praying faith to be voluntarily overcome. “The inexorableness of a stone and the exorableness of a free being are things which can be proved or refuted by experience alone, which can make an end of all philosophical contradiction even in spite of or rather for the bettering of our Sophia, yet certainly always to the contentment of our Philosophia.” Pfenninger. Respecting the climax in this saying of our Saviour, see Lange on the parallel passage.
Luke 11:10. For every one that asketh.—As the Saviour has just urged perseverance in prayer, He now speaks of the certainty of being heard, and gives His disciples to understand that prayer is in no case in vain, and that an uttered wish is surely fulfilled, that is, if it belongs to those good gifts which are now represented under the image of bread, fish, and egg. But if any one should in his foolishness beg a scorpion or a snake, the father would be no father if he could fulfil such a wish.
Luke 11:12. Or if he shall ask an egg.—This third example is found only in Luke, the two others also in Matthew, Luke 7:9-10. From that which the friend will do, the discourse of the Saviour rises even to that which one could expect of a father; from that which an imperfect earthly father does, even to that which the perfect Father in heaven bestows.
Luke 11:13. If ye then, being evil.—Not a comparison of the morally corrupt man with God (Meyer), but rather a contrast. How should it be possible that a holy God should not do that which even sinful man does!
The Holy Spirit=ἀγαθά in Matthew. A remarkable interpretamentum, which teaches us with the best right to consider the Holy Spirit as the essence of all good gifts which the Father in Heaven can bestow on His praying child. Ὁ ἐξ οὐρανοῦ δώσει, abbreviated form for ὁ πατὴρ ἐν οὐρανῷ δώσει ἐξ οὐρανοῦ.
DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL
1. When we meet the Saviour in this period of His life praying in a solitary place, we behold at the same time in what a holy frame of soul He has traversed the last steps on the way to the Feast of Tabernacles, the theatre of His thickening conflict. Before His praying eye, the earth with its wickedness has for a short time sunk away. Heaven listens to His words, the disciples hold their peace while they regard Him at a reverent distance. What is more natural than that the view of their praying Master should awaken the desire of the disciples also to pray, and that they go to Him with this wish, who was as much more than John as the Son stands above the servant?
2. The instruction as to prayer which the Saviour gives on this occasion, answers all main questions which are to be solved with reference to secret converse with God. As to the question what and how we have to pray, the Lord’s Prayer gives a satisfactory answer. As to the not less natural question, as to the ground on which we can expect to be heard, the Saviour restricts Himself to an appeal to the parental feeling of even sinful men. In reality, the difficult question as to the possibility and conceivableness of special hearing of prayer is best decided before this forum. With a fatalistic and strictly deterministic conception of God, the hearing of prayer becomes an impossibility, and nothing more than merely the psychological effect of prayer conceivable. But whoever believes in a living, freely-working God, who projects and executes His counsel not without but with reference to the praying man, will cleave fast to prayer, even if, in relation to the connection of the prayer with the receiving, questions were to be asked which He could not fully answer.
3. The Lord’s Prayer is a short compendium of the principal truths of the Christian faith, of the highest demands of the Christian life. Theology finds here the idea of a personal, living, freely-working God, distinct from the creature and yet standing to the same in direct relation (Immanence). For Anthropology we gain here the conception of man as a dependent, sinful, easily misleadable being; of sin as being debt towards God; of the destiny of man, that it consists in this, to be united in a Kingdom of God. Pneumatology may appeal for a doctrine of angels as well as of the personal evil spirit to the Lord’s Prayer; and the highest benefits which Soteriology gives us to hope for, Forgiveness and Sanctification, they stand here by right in the foreground. That the special Christological element is not here so sharply emphasized as might be expected, must be conceded; but, on the other hand, it is self-evident that this prayer is intended exclusively for disciples of the Saviour, who know that it is through the Son that they go to the Father, and can expect to be heard only when they thus pray in His name, John 16:24. The chief requirements of the Christian life, as well in and of itself as in relation to the Father, and even to the brethren on earth, can with equal ease be derived from this model.
4. The perseverance in prayer which the Saviour commands on this occasion must be well distinguished from the praying without ceasing of which Paul speaks, 1 Thessalonians 5:17. The latter is a continual prayerfulness and living of the soul in connection with God, even when it has nothing definite to entreat. The former, on the other hand, is persevering prayer for something which one does not immediately receive, but as to which, nevertheless, we may expect that God will give it to us in His own time and way, Luke 18:1-8.
5. Although the Saviour in the well-known saying, Ye who are evil, opposes His hearers not to Himself but to the pure and holy Father, it is, however, none the less true that He here, inasmuch as He speaks of ὑμεῖς, not of ἡμεῖς πονηροί, renders an indirect but unequivocal testimony to His own ἀναμαρτησία. No teacher would, excluding himself, be able to speak of his hearers as evil, without bringing on himself the appearance of presumption, unless he were himself without sin.
6. Inasmuch as the Saviour at the end of this instruction comprehends all which God gives to prayer in the single πνεῦμα ἅγιον, He gives us at the same time to know to what prayers we may expect unconditional, to what, on the other hand, only conditional, answers. Prayer for spiritual gifts is always heard; the desire after special temporal blessings only when one has really prayed for bread, not for stone, a fish, or a snake. [The author has here omitted to mention, what without doubt he would readily admit, that a selfish prayer for particular spiritual gifts is no more secure of being heard than a selfish prayer for temporal gifts. By spiritual gifts he here means, probably, those graces which serve for the more perfectly doing God’s will, and which are desired for that end. The prayer for such, of course, cannot remain unheard.—C. C. S.]
7. “Where a Christian is, there is really the Holy Spirit, who does nothing there than continually pray; for although He does not continually move the mouth or make words, yet the heart goes and beats, even as the pulses of the veins and the heart in the body, without cessation or ceasing; so that one can find no Christian without prayer, as little as a living man without the pulse, which stands never still, but stirs and beats ever on, although the man sleeps or does other things, so that he does not become aware of it.” Luther.
HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL
The solitary prayer of the Saviour, “Lord, teach us to pray:” 1. The disciple of the Saviour must pray; 2. must learn to pray; 3. must learn to pray of Jesus; 4. must go to Jesus with the entreaty, “Lord, teach us to pray.”—How the Saviour teaches His disciples to pray: 1. By His word; 2. by His example; 3. by His Spirit; 4. by His ways and dealings with them.—The wish to learn to pray most pleasing to the Lord. It is: 1. The joyful token of life; 2. a means to farther development of life.—God, our Father who is in heaven: 1. Father; 2. heavenly Father; 3. our heavenly Father. These three words a doctrine for faith, love, and hope.—Hallowed be Thy name: 1. The first prayer; 2. the dearest prayer; 3. the last prayer of the disciple of the Saviour. It is yet continued in heaven and even when the kingdom is already come, sin forgiven, &c.—Thy kingdom come: 1. Whither? into heart, house, church, world; 2. why? then only is the Father’s name glorified, the purpose of the Son attained, the fellowship of the Spirit complete; 3. how are we to pray for this? With thankfulness, with zeal, with steadfast hope.—Give us to-day our daily bread. Every word a doctrine: 1. Give, the doctrine of dependence; 2. bread, the doctrine of contentment; 3. our bread, the doctrine of industriousness; 4. to-day, the doctrine of freedom from care; 5. daily bread, panis sufficient, the doctrine of trust; 6. give it to us, the doctrine of love.—The noticeable relation in which this part of the Lord’s Prayer stands to the great whole: 1. The Saviour teaches us, it is true, to pray also for daily bread, but, 2. over against one prayer for earthly things stand six for heavenly, Matthew 6:33; Matthew 3:0. this one prayer is preceded by three for the glory of God, and, 4. is followed immediately by three others which respect something infinitely higher than its own object. All is most pregnant with instruction and significance.—Forgive us our debts: 1. Even the disciple of the Saviour sins continually; 2. these sins also are debts before God; 3. for these debts also is daily forgiveness ready; 4. this forgiveness becomes our portion only when we for our part are disposed to forgiveness towards others.—For also we forgive: 1. No ground of our hope; 2. no means of compelling an answer to prayer; 3. no intimation of the measure according to which we expect forgiveness, but a sign: 1. Of humility, which is conscious of its own debt; 2. of love, to which the “Forgive us” is more than an idle sound; 3. of uprightness before God, which cannot possibly have a controversy with our brother, since the Father has remitted so infinitely more, Matthew 18:23-35.—Lead us not into temptation: 1. Thy way is often so dark; 2. the temptation is so great; 3. our heart is so weak; 4. the consequences of an eternally repeated fall are so lamentable.—The Lord’s Prayer: 1. A prayer for the closet; 2. a prayer for the church.—The circle of the Saviour’s disciples an association of prayer.—Prayer the pulse-beat of the Christian life.—The Heavenly Father bestows more upon prayer than does the best friend here on earth.—The importunity of faith: 1. How hard it Isaiah 2:0. how richly it rewards.—True perseverance in prayer.—The certainty of the hearing of prayer: 1. Its limits: the prayer must be befitting, the prayer must be believing, the will must be united with God’s will; 2. its grounds: God’s attributes, God’s promises, God’s deeds manifest from history and experience.—The question, Is there an actual hearing of prayer? answered successively with: 1. The No of doubt; 2. the Yea of faith; 3. the Hallelujah of thankfulness.—How often we in our shortsightedness beg stones instead of bread, snakes instead of fishes and the like.—The “I say to you” of the Saviour maintains its prerogative against all rebuffs and doubts of the darkened understanding.—The commendation of prayer for the Holy Spirit: 1. The Holy Spirit the Christian’s first necessity; 2. the Holy Spirit the Father’s holy gift; 3. the Holy Spirit in the heart the fruit of believing prayer.
Starke:—Teaching in the ministry has its time, but praying also. One coal kindles the other.—Brentius: To pray a believing Pater Noster is a weighty and grave matter; there is a child-like spirit required thereto, Romans 8:16.—Nova Bibl. Tub.:—God is much kinder towards His friends than men towards theirs.—If God instantaneously heard our sighing, it would be a harm to us, for faith, love, and hope would have no room for exercise.—Osiander:—If God holds still at thy prayer, continue thou on valiantly, vigorously, and joyfully: He will indeed soon answer: Thy faith hath saved thee.—Canstein:—Parents are under obligation to provide for their children in bodily respects also, and to give them, according to ability, what they need.
To the Sermons on the Lord’s Prayer mentioned by Lange on Matthew, p. 130, add: 1. Claus Harms’ eleven Sermons, Kiel, 1838; John Zimmerman and others, Tholuck, four Sermons in the second volume of his Sermons.—The same:—How one in such times as the present should use the Lord’s Prayer, in his Sermons for the Times, 1848.—2. On the Parable, Lisco:—Concerning the persevering entreaty of oppressed citizens of the kingdom: 1. Ground; 2. occasion; 3. power of the same.—The Christian boldness in prayer.—Arndt:—Of the converse of the Christian with his God: 1. That we should pray; 2. what we have to entreat; 3. how our prayer must be fashioned.—The Lord’s Prayer the model prayer of all Christians.—W. Hofacker:—Concerning prayer as the inner pulse of the spiritual life.
Luke 11:2; Luke 11:2.—Rec.: [Πἀτερ ἡμῶν ὀ ἐν τοῖς οὐρανοῖς.] Ἠμῶν ὁ ἐν τοῖς οὐρανοῖς omitted by Tischendorf, Meyer, Bleek, Tregelles, Alford, as formerly by Mill, Bengel, Wetstein, &c.; supported by B., Cod. Sin. (and L. after ἡμῶν), several sursives, the Vulgate, some MSS. of the Itala, and Origen once.—C. C. S.]
[Luke 11:2.—The same critics approve this omission, supported by B., L. (Cod. Sin. inserts the sentence), 2 cursives, all the manuscripts of Luke compared by Origen, the Vulgate, the Armenian version, the Corbeian Itala, and Tertullian, Jerome, and Augustine. Lachmann, who otherwise has the Received Text, brackets the words ἐς ἐν οὐρανῷ καὶ ἐπὶ γὴς.—C. C. S.]
Luke 11:4; Luke 11:4.—Rec.: ἀλλὰ ῥῦσαι ἡμᾶς . All three additions are, as it appears, taken from the perfect redaction of the Lord’s Prayer in Matthew, while there are no arguments of sufficient weight to establish their genuineness in Luke. Respecting the state of the question, see Tischendorf ad locum. [The same critics support this omission who approve the two former ones. It has also the authority of B., L., 10 cursives, Vulgate, Coptic, and Armenian versions, Tertullian or Marcion, Jerome, Augustine. It is easy to sec how, if these clauses were originally wanting in Luke, they might have been supplied afterwards from Matthew, to reduce to uniformity the two forms of the Lord’s Prayer, but if they had been original with Luke, no motive could be assigned for their omission. According to the overwhelming weight of critical opinion, therefore, the Lord’s Prayer, as given in Luke, should read thus: Father, Hallowed be Thy name: The kingdom come: Give us day by day our daily bread: And forgive us our sins, for we also forgive every one that is indebted to us: And lead us not into temptation.—C. C. S.]
Luke 11:7; Luke 11:7.—Van Oosterzee renders this verse as a question: “Would he then !” &c., in which, however, he is not supported by critical authority. The sentence, as Meyer remarks, begins as if to end thus: Would he not be answered: Trouble me not! &c. Nevertheless, I say, &c., but the length of the intervening sentence interrupts the construction.—C. C. S.]
[Luke 11:13. [Ὁ Πατὴρ ὁ ἐξ οὑρανοῦ σώσει. The language of this passage is very closely moulded on that of Matthew, and, as Bleek remarks, ὁ ἐξ οὐρανοῦ δώσει is to be regarded as a contraction of ὁ ἐν οὐρανῷ δώσει ἐξ ούρανοῦ.—C. C. S.]
D. The Son of Man in His relation to hypocritical Enemies and Friends weak in Faith
Luke 11:14 to Luke 12:59
1. The Kingdom of Satan and the Kingdom of Christ (Luke 11:14-28)
(Parallel to Matthew 12:22-30; Matthew 12:43-45; Mark 3:22-30.)
14And he was casting out a devil [demon], and it was dumb. And it came to pass, when the devil [demon] was gone out, the dumb spake; and the people wondered 15But some of them said, He casteth out devils [the demons] through Beelzebub thechief of the devils [demons]. 16And others, tempting him, sought of him a sign from heaven. 17But he, knowing their thoughts, said unto them, Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and a house divided against a house falleth [and house is precipitated against house6]. 18If Satan also be divided against himself, how shall his kingdom stand? because [for] ye say that I cast out devils [the demons] through Beelzebub. 19And if I by Beelzebub cast out devils [the demons], by whom do your sons cast them out? therefore shall they be your Judges 20:0 But if I with the finger of God cast out devils [the demons], no doubt the kingdom of God is come upon [unto] 21you. When a [the] strong man [one] armed keepeth his palace, his goods are in peace: 22But when a stronger than he shall come upon him, and overcome him, he taketh from him all his armour wherein he trusted, and divideth [distributeth] his spoils. 23He that is not with me is against me; and he that gathereth not with me scattereth. 24When the unclean spirit is gone out of a [the] man, he walketh through dry places, seeking rest; and finding none, he saith, I will return unto my house whence I came 25,out. And when he cometh, he findeth it swept and garnished. 26Then goeth he, and taketh to him seven other spirits more wicked than himself; and they enter in, and dwell there: and the last state of that man is [becomes] worse than the first.
27And it came to pass, as he spake these things, a certain woman of the company [multitude] lifted up her voice, and said unto him, Blessed is the womb that bare thee, and the paps which thou hast sucked. 28But he said, Yea, rather, blessed are they that hear the word of God, and keep it.
EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL
Luke 11:14. And He was casting out.—This miracle is not to be parallelized with Matthew 9:32-34 (Neander, Tischendorf), but with Matthew 12:22 seq. The demon here driven out was, according to the more precise account of Matthew, also blind. As to the rest, we must carefully distinguish this sufferer from the ordinary infirm man who suffers under organic defects: of sight and hearing. He is by no means called demoniac because he was blind and deaf, but he was blind and deaf because he was in a high degree demoniac. “He was dumb through psychical influence. Undoubtedly this manifested itself as a kind of insanity, only this insanity is not to be considered as merely one of imagination, but as the consequence of the real work of hostile potencies. Its overcoming through the light and might of the Redeemer restores again the normal psychical and physical relation, in the sufferer.” Olshausen.
And the people wondered.—According to the parallel passage in Matthew, they are even on the point of publicly proclaiming Jesus as the Messiah. It is this very culmination of enthusiasm which awakened the strongest reaction of the Pharisees, who now declare our Lord not the Elect of God, but the instrument of Satan. “Ubi ad extremum cœcitatis venit impietas, nullum est tam manifestum Dei opus, quod non pervertat.” Calvin.
Luke 11:15. Through Beelzebub or Beelzebul.—The name Beelzebub signifies properly: Fly-god, 2 Kings 1:2-3; 2 Kings 1:16; Beelzebul signifies: god of dung. Sec Lightfoot, ad loc. That by this name another spirit is signified than the one that in other places is called Satan, or the head of the fallen angels, is without proof. Except in the gospels, Beelzebul appears nowhere as a name of the devil. As to the rest, not Beelzebub but Beelzebul appears to be the more correct reading.
Luke 11:17. And house is precipitated against house.—Graphic representation of the desolation of a city divided within itself, in which the one falling house necessarily draws down the other with it in its fatal fall. It is quite as arbitrary to take οἶκος here in the sense of family (Bornemann) as to understand here merely a falling of the separated house ἐφ̓ ἐαυτόν (Paulus, Quesnel, De Wette).
Luke 11:18. If Satan also.—The Saviour places Himself entirely on the position of His opponents. If He actually cast out the demons through their Chief, then it would follow that Satan was now busy in destroying his own work. Every kingdom, every town, every family stands in itself a complete whole; so soon as it breaks this unity, it breaks up with its own hand the foundation of its independent existence. So was also the kingdom of darkness a whole, which had risen against the kingdom of truth and of light. Satan could not, therefore, possibly drive out evil spirits without doing injury to his own realm. Perhaps the Pharisees might here have made the objection that Satan, for the accomplishment of a higher purpose, might admit a lesser hurt, and might drive out one of his satellites in like manner as Caiaphas (John 11:50) wished to have one man die that the whole people might perish not. As they, however, in this passage, betray no acquaintance with these higher tactics of the kingdom of darkness, it was not necessary for our Lord to remove this objection or anticipate it. Respecting this whole polemics against the blasphemy of the Pharisees, comp. Neander, ad loc.
Luke 11:19. By whom do your sons cast them out?—To the argumentum ex absurdo, the Saviour adds here an argument e concessis. By the sons of the Pharisees we have doubtless to understand none other than their spiritual sons, their disciples, the exorcists. Comp. Acts 19:13. From the lack of adequate information respecting these, it is difficult to form a perfectly correct judgment respecting the driving out of devils by the disciples of the Pharisees. Without doubt charlatanism was connected therewith, and many a healing would be found to be only temporary and apparent, although they must, nevertheless, more than once have succeeded, by adjuration in the name of the Lord, in expelling a condition of possession that would not yield to other means. See the very remarkable passages of Irenæus and Tertullian, which Grotius, ad loc., cites. And why might not individual better-minded Pharisees accomplish such an act in faith and the Spirit of God, and see their weak endeavors crowned with heavenly blessing?
Luke 11:20. By the finger of God.—According to Matthew, ἐν πνεύμ. Θεοῦ, comp. Exodus 8:19.
Luke 11:21. When the strong one.—Our Lord now passes over to a third counter-argument—this time of an entirely empirical nature. He first gives us to see in what light He views the prince of this world, whom the Pharisees had here so unbeseemingly mentioned, and the opposing of whom they regarded as a comparatively unimportant matter. He was a strong man who, well accoutred, relied upon his equipment and his secure rocky castle. Whoever can fall upon, bind, and despoil such an one, must not stand below but above him, and be stronger than he. How could the victor stand in a covenant of peace and friendship with the vanquished, and how would it be possible to overmaster the Strong One, except only ἐν δακτύλῳ Θεοῦ? Comp. Isaiah 49:24-25. With right Bengel: “Gloriosior victoria Christi, postquam vicit Satanam tot sœculis grassatum et confisum.” If any one thinks that he is obliged to explain all the particular features of the figurative language, he can, with Stier, by the house of the strong man = Satan, understand the world; by σκευή understand men, whom he uses as his instruments, after he has previously robbed them themselves, and in the preceding blind man see a concealed allusion to the death of Christ, and His descent into hell. But it is more natural to have regard here simply to the tertium comparationis, and to stop with the chief thought: Only the stronger can overcome the strong.
Luke 11:23. He that is not with Me.—Respecting the connection of this saying with an apparently opposite declaration, see before on Luke 9:50. The discourse advances regularly: after the triple refutation of the blasphemers, follows now a word of warning. It is this time addressed especially to such as on the one hand seized with astonishment at the miracle, on the other hand struck by the blasphemous allegation of the Pharisees, did not know what they should think of Jesus, and were secretly inclined, at least for the moment, to remain neutral in respect to the two parties. These He gives to understand that in the case of so intense a conflict of principles such a neutrality was impossible, and at bottom was no better than open enmity. It was not sufficient that they did not join in with the blasphemy of the Pharisees; they must decidedly take a stand. The so-called juste milieu between friendship and enmity could not possibly be longer maintained; indifference would of itself be injury. But how much more worthy still of punishment were those who openly opposed themselves to Him! For them is meant the saying that now follows.
Luke 11:24. When the unclean spirit.—Luke gives this parabolic discourse before, Matthew, on the contrary, after the discourse of Jesus concerning the sign of the prophet Jonas. Comp. Matthew 12:43-45. Apparently this latter arrangement is to be taken as the original. Luke moreover again places what is similar together, and gives this declaration as early as this because it belongs to the sphere of demonology, with which the preceding accusation and vindication also stood in relation, and perhaps for this cause also omits the words with which, according to Matthew, Luke 11:45, the Saviour concluded the whole address: “Even so shall it be also unto this wicked generation.” The sense and the intention of the imagery here is moreover, in and of itself not hard to understand. Not He was possessed or in covenant with Beelzebub, as His enemies blasphemously alleged, but Israel itself, which stood under the influence of its blind leaders, was now the possessed party. A demon had been driven out after the Babylonian captivity, the demon, of idolatry: but that the unhappy nation was now in so much better case, was by no means true; as a sevenfold worse scourge had blasting Pharisaism taken the place of the first demon. No wonder! his former house he, the demon, finds empty, σχολά ζοντα (Matthew). Forsaken indeed by him, it is yet by no means inhabited by a better,—by the Holy Spirit. He finds therefore abundant room for return; finds the house as if in festal adornment already prepared for him, as it were demoniacally tricked out by the ruling spirit of lies. He now takes seven other spirits with him worse than he, that is, in not a moral respect, for the Scripture does not teach us to know any degrees of demoniacal wickedness, but worse, inasmuch as they can accomplish yet more than he. With these he takes possession of his former dwelling-place, so that the temporary redemption of the poor possessed is followed by a sevenfold greater misery. “Reperil domum vacantem: eos procul dubio designat Christus, qui vacui Dei spiritu ad recipiendum diabolum parati sunt, nam fideles, in quibus solide habitat Spiritus Dei, undique muniti sunt, ne qua rima Satanœ pateat.” Calvin.
How shaming this representation was for the Pharisees, strikes the eye quite as quickly as in what a striking manner it was fulfilled, in the continually deeper fall of this whole generation. At the same time, however, it must not be overlooked that this whole instruction contained a weighty intimation for the man who had just been healed by the Saviour (Luke 11:14). It was to remind him of this truth, that it did not suffice for this instant to be redeemed from the evil spirit, if his heart was not at once united in sincerity with Jesus, and if he did not by that alone remain in security against renewed demoniacal influence; nay, for the whole multitude the portraiture of a man was instructive, who, after he had been, in the first instance, purified from sin, gives himself again into its service, and now sinks deeper than ever before. Nor does it indeed admit of any doubt that this word found an echo in the consciences of many. A trace we find in the enthusiasm which it awakened, according to Luke’s account alone, in one of the female hearers.
Luke 11:27. A certain woman of the multitude.—That it was a mother (according to tradition, Marcella, a maid-servant of Martha) appears from the nature of her felicitation. Her enthusiasm is by no means incomprehensible after such a severe discourse (Strauss), for without doubt she admired more the how than the what of the words of the Saviour. “The whole anecdote betrays a fresh and living remembrance, which appears to have inserted it on the very spot where it occurred.” Schleiermacher. The unnamed woman listened to the words as only a mother can listen who, perhaps herself childless, or it may be unhappy in her children, in silence envies Mary. Her words form a striking contrast with those which the Saviour Himself, on the way to the cross, utters over the daughters of Jerusalem, Luke 23:28-29. He does not gainsay her utterance, but He rectifies it (μενοῦνγε, immo vero, as in Romans 9:20; Romans 10:18).
“Very true, blessed,” &c. An intimation for the woman not to let herself be borne along too much by transient impressions, but rather to hear still farther; an eulogy of Mary, whom He already perhaps discovered among the throng (comp. Luke 2:19-51); a transition to further instruction of the people, which however was now interrupted by the intelligence that His mother and His brethren were calling Him. Comp. Matthew 12:45-46; Luke 8:19-21. “It may not be impossible that even during Jesus’ discourse in vindication of Himself, the rumor of the arrival of His relatives had made its way, and had given this woman occasion for the exclamation which she made, but it is more probable that Jesus addressed two separate answers, one to the woman, the other to those who gave Him notice of the arrival of His mother, because Luke distinguishes altogether too definitely the two utterances from each other for us to suppose them to have been one. Therefore, we shall be able to conclude that the actual information of His mother’s arrival did not itself reach Jesus until after this exclamation of the woman, and that it then gave Him occasion to that saying respecting His disciples.” Lichtenstein.
DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL
1. Not unjustly has there often been found in this whole discourse of our Lord one of the strongest proofs of the objective truth of the New Testament Satanology. How much of its force does the whole argument of this discourse lose if we should assume that our Lord here accommodated Himself to a popular belief, above which He Himself was infinitely elevated! If it is not true that He cast out actual demons and that by the Spirit of God, then the conclusion derived from it that the kingdom of God therefore had come to them, is in this passage an assertion without proof. That the Saviour, in the form of His representation, attaches Himself to the prevailing ideas, especially in Luke 11:25-26, must be conceded; but He would never have permitted Himself such an accommodation had He not, in the substance of these conceptions, recognized the elements of higher truth. There exists a remarkable contrast between His portrayal of the Strong man who keeps his palace and can only be overcome by a stronger one, and the slight importance which many rationalistic theologians attribute to the locus de Diabolo.
2. The energetic manner in which the Saviour on this occasion insists upon a decided position, for or against Him, proves sufficiently how intensely the opposition of parties had then increased; but at the same time this declaration gives indirectly a powerful testimony to the entirely unique value of His person and His work, towards which it is impossible permanently to maintain a strict neutrality, and which lay claim to so undivided an interest, that indifference is itself a kind of covert enmity.
3. The parable of an evil spirit who returns with seven others, was strikingly fulfilled, first upon the Jewish people, not only in the days of our Lord, but also in the apostolic age. The first impression which was made upon some, after the death of the Saviour, passes away again, and shortly before the destruction of Jerusalem, it may be especially said that the nation was possessed not only by seven, but by seventy times seven devils. Moreover, this phenomenon recurs perpetually in the Christian church, when, after a time of commencing growth, a period of mournful retrogression, and when, after short awakening, a time of spiritual stiffening into dead forms, begins. So was it when, after the Reformation, the letter-worship of ecclesiastical orthodoxy established itself; so does it now perhaps threaten to be in some regions after that religious awakening of the first half of this century has cooled off; and, finally, there is here portrayed the image of every one who has made the first step on the way to conversion, but afterwards has fallen from this height into the most unhappy depth (2 Timothy 4:10; Hebrews 6:4-6; 2 Peter 2:20-22). How far this remains possible even after genuine conversion, is a question which cannot here be answered. In no case can one, in the dwelling out of which only one demon had been driven, and which is only empty, swept, and garnished, recognize the image of one truly regenerate.
4. The woman that lifts up her voice to bless Jesus, is the prototype of all those who have honored the mother of the Saviour more than they have her Son, and have incurred the guilt of Mariolatry. If the Saviour does not favor this honoring of His mother, even here, where it moves within modest bounds, what judgment will He then pass upon the new dogma of Pio Nono, upon which an entirely new Mariology is built?
HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL
The threefold temper towards the miracle-working Saviour: 1. Enthusiasm and its right; 2. hatred and its blindness; 3. neutrality and its impossibility.—The Son of God was manifested that He might destroy the works of the devil, 1 John 3:8.—He hath done all things well: the dumb speaking, Mark 7:37.—No sign great enough to overcome the repugnance of unbelief.—The might of Satan a fearful, well-ordered, but yet vincible might.—The enemies of the Lord condemned, 1. By their conscience; 2. by those holding their own views; 3. by the Saviour.—Satan’s defeat a sign that the kingdom of God has come near.—The strife of the Strong with the Stronger: 1. The Strong One, a. his palace, b. his booty, c. his false rest; 2. The Stronger, a. His courageous assault, b. His complete triumph, c. His brilliant crown.—Neutrality in the Christian sphere no virtue, but a chimera.—The Saviour would rather have to do with open foes than with half-friends.—Whoever begins to stand apparently neutral towards truth becomes, for the most part, at last an opposer of the same.—The dangerousness of half-conversion.—Not easily does the Evil One give up his rights over the heart which he has for a while had dominion over.—The Spirit of Evil finds nowhere abiding rest.—What matters it that one is in a measure free from the Evil Spirit, if he is not filled with the Holy Spirit?—The wretched reëntrance upon the hardly forsaken way of sin: 1. Undoubtedly possible, 2. in the last degree ruinous.—Hypocrisy the worst kind of possession.—All the seven deadly sins come up at once in the heart that is sold under sin.—“It had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness,” &c., 2 Peter 2:22.—The female mind more receptive than many a masculine one of the greatness of the Saviour.—The first Mary-worship.—The woman that blesses Jesus’ mother the type of superficial religious feeling: 1. Nature of this feeling, a. it is easily aroused, b. promptly revealed, c. soon evaporated; 2. value of the same, a. the Saviour does not disapprove it wholly, b. still less does He approve it unconditionally, c. He will have it pass over to something better—the hearing and keeping of His word.—Blessed are they that hear the word of God and keep it. Their blessedness has, 1. A higher character; 2. a firmer ground; 3. a longer duration than any other.
Starke:—Hedinger:—The mockers blaspheme God’s work; they that are better doubt.—Brentius:—It is the way of perverse people to count devils’ works for God’s works, and God’s works for devils’ works.—Christ is also Judge of the word and the thoughts. Comp. Psalms 139:1-2.—It is undoubtedly permitted to defend ourselves against all those who blaspheme our function, which we discharge to God’s honor.—Here on earth even children are often the judges of their parents, 1 Samuel 19:5.—Nothing but the finger of God—no human power—is capable of driving Satan out of the heart.—Christ and Belial agree not together.—Quesnel:—The converted sinner is a palace which the devil has lost, but of which he knows all the weak quarters and entrances, and where he often even yet has secret confederates. [Diabolonians in Mansoul.]—With children of Satan it fares as with their wicked father, Isaiah 57:20-21.—All presumptuous sins are garnishings of the heart for the habitation of many devils.—Zeisius:—Spiritual relationship with Christ is more excellent than all natural connection of blood.—Brentius:—True Christianity consists not in word but in deed and in truth, 1 Corinthians 4:20.
Starke:—One must be free if he will make others free.—Moral relapses risk the soul’s salvation.—Massillon:—Sur l’inconstance dans les voics du salut, sermon sur Luke 11:26, pour le troisième dimanche de la carême.—Marheineke:—How ingenious the human heart is when the question is of closing itself against the impressions of manifest truth!—Ulber:—The many enemies of Jesus, who yet is all men’s Friend.—Fuchs:—Enmity against Christ: 1. It testifies of unthankfulness; 2. betrays folly; 3. prepares wretchedness.—Ahlfeld:—How standest thou with reference to Christ? 1. Art thou His enemy? 2. Art thou indifferent? 3. Makest thou half work? 4. Believest thou on Him?—Palmer:—The kingdom of the world and the kingdom of Christ: 1. Nature; 2. relation of these two kingdoms.—Von Gerlach:—How Christ overcomes the kingdom of the devil, 1. Without us; 2. in us.—Rautenberg:—The reproach of Christ our honor. A reproach: 1. For us; 2. from us; 3. upon us.—Wankel:—The fearful power of the Evil One: 1. Fearful by its unnoticed commencement; 2. rapid progress; 3. wretched issue.—Alt:—“Who is not with Me,” &c.: 1. Who does not believe with Me, he speaks against Me; 2. who does not walk with Me, he strives against Me; 3. who does not work with Me, he labors against Me; 4. who does not combat and sacrifice with Me, he betrays Me.
[Luke 11:17.—Οῖ̓κος ἐπὶ οἶκον πίπτει. This appears to be a continuation of the figure. When a kingdom comes to ruin everything in it shares that ruin, and house is dashed against house. Οῖ̓κος ἐπὶ οἶκον may, indeed, be taken as a pregnant expression for οἶκος ὤν ἐπὶ οῖ̓κον. But, as Bleek remarks, in this case, instead of ἐπὶ οἶκον we should at least expect ἐφ̓ ἑαυτόν. It is better, therefore, with the Vulgate and various distinguished critics, to take it as a variation of the idea in Matthew and Mark, rather than as an exact equivalent of it.—C. C. S.]
2. A Sign for the Eye and an Eye for the Sign (Luke 11:29-36)
(Comp. Matthew 12:38-42; Matthew 6:22-23.)
29And when the people were gathered [gathering] thick together, he began to say, This [generation7] is an evil generation: they seek [it seeks] a sign; and there shall no sign be given it, but the sign of Jonas [Jonah] the prophet [om., the prophet8]. 30For as Jonas [Jonah] was [became] a sign unto the Ninevites, so shall also the Son of man be to this generation. 31The queen of the south shall rise up in the judgment with the men of this generation, and condemn them: for she came from the utmost parts of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and, behold, a greater [πλεῖον, neuter; lit., something more] than Solomon is here. 32The men of Nineveh shall rise up in the judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: for they repented at the preaching of Jonas 33[Jonah]; and, behold, a greater than Jonas [πλεῖον ’Ιωνᾶ] is here. [And] No man, when he hath lighted a candle, putteth it in a secret place, neither under a [the] bushel,but on a [the] candlestick, that they which come in may see the light. 34The light of the body is the [thine9] eye: therefore when thine eye is single [sound], thy whole body also is full of light; but when thine eye is evil [diseased], thy body also is full of darkness. 35Take heed therefore, that the light which is in thee be not darkness 36If thy whole body therefore be full of light, having no part dark, the whole shall be full of light, as when the bright shining of a [the] candle [with its brilliancy, τῇ ; om., the bright-shining] doth give thee light.
EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL
Luke 11:29. He began to say.—The occasion for this discourse of rebuke on the part of the Saviour Luke has already, Luke 11:16, communicated at the same time with the judgment of the Pharisees. Matthew keeps the two elements, Luke 12:24; Luke 12:38, more exactly apart, arranging them chronologically. According to his account it is principally Pharisees and Scribes who desire to see the sign from heaven, in whom, however, the Saviour, with the most perfect right, views the legitimate representatives of the whole evil and adulterous generation of His contemporaries. According to Luke they are indeed ἄλλοι than those who had before spoken, yet by no means animated with a better spirit. They will tempt Jesus (πειράζοντες) in that they laid for Him a snare, indirectly support their humiliated and castigated friends, and desire something of Him which He could not refuse them without exciting much remark. If we are not disposed by the sign from heaven to understand an actual revelation of the Shekinah, they have at all events some kind of cosmic phenomenon in mind, either an eclipse of the sun or moon, or a meteor, or something of the sort, which, however, must be so far different from the other miracles of our Lord as this, that it was to be performed, not on men who surrounded Him, but on objects which were apparently elevated above Him, and was therefore to strike the eye so much the more strongly. Perhaps they find occasion for this inquiry in the definite assurance of the Saviour that He cast out demons ἐν δακτῦλω̣ Θεοῦ, at which they in a hypocritical tone declared themselves ready to acknowledge Him as soon as He should have given them an incontestable proof of His heavenly mission. It is in this case much easier to understand that the Saviour, agreeably to His principle, performed no sign before them, since He found in them not the slightest receptivity for the moral impression of His miracles: comp. Matthew 13:58.
There shall no sign be given it.—This whole answer of the Saviour breathes, besides righteous displeasure, a heavenly composure and wisdom: for it gave all to whom the truth was dear, plainly to understand that His refusal to give a sign was perfectly just, and besides that only conditional, and finally, that it was only temporary.
The sign of Jonah.—The briefer expression of Luke must be explained by the more developed statement of the language of our Lord in Matt. Luke 12:40, of whose genuineness and exactness there is no occasion whatever to doubt. “The reference of the sign of Jonah merely to the preaching and manifestation of the Saviour in Paulus, Schleiermacher, Neander, a. o., needs no refutation.” Lange. Had the Saviour wished to refer to that alone, He would then have had to express Himself more exactly, and to say: As Jonas was a sign to the Ninevites, so is also the Son of man for this generation. The ἔσται itself points to the future. As Jonah from the belly of the fish had come forth, to appear to the Ninevites, so should the risen Jesus be for His contemporaries a sign, but not from heaven; from the depth of the earth shall this sign be given, but yet it should serve for their condemnation. The parallel consists in this, that Jonah goes down into the fish’s belly, and after three days’ abode therein, comes again out of the same, while Christ descends into the heart of the earth, Sheol (Meyer), and also after the same time again gloriously appears. And if we must also, according to Jonah 2:0, conceive the prophet as living in the belly of the fish, this takes nothing from the general correctness of the comparison. As respects, however, the difficulty as to the designation of time, a νυχθήμερον does not need always to endure just twenty-four full hours. See 1 Samuel 30:12-13, and in the Talmud Hieros. it is expressly stated: “Day and night make together a period (עוֹנָח), and the part of such an one is as the whole.” Comp. Stier, R. J. II., p. 53.
Luke 11:31. The Queen of the South.—Comp. Lange on Matthew 12:42. Less precisely has Luke placed the comparison with Solomon before that with Jonah and the Ninevites, because then the beautiful climax of the discourse is lost. The Queen of Sheba had given yet greater proofs of faith and exhibited yet more interest than the Ninevites, who believed on the word spoken in their immediate vicinity; for out of distant lands had she come to hear the wisdom of Solomon, while the Jews contemned what they could find in their immediate neighborhood, and yet there was more here than Solomon!
More than Solomon.—In order to feel the power of this comparison, in which the wisdom of Solomon is to be kept carefully in mind as the tertium comparationis, we must not only realize to ourselves what is written in the Old Testament regarding Solomon, but also especially what tradition had added to this, in reference to his magic words, his ring, his knowledge of the secrets of the spiritual world, &c, in consequence of which Solomon stood in almost unearthly glory before the eyes of the contemporaries of Jesus. [The simple reference to the scriptural account of Solomon appears quite sufficient, without supposing our Saviour to have taken any account of the superstitious fables respecting Him.—C. C. S.]
Luke 11:32. The men of Nineveh.—It cannot be stated with certainty whether Jonah made to the Ninevites any intimation of the miracle that had happened to him or not. But even supposing he did not, the contrast is then so much the stronger. The Ninevites believed Jonah upon his word, without knowing anything of the miracle. The Jews, on the other hand, had not only heard the preaching of Jesus, but also afterwards an account of His resurrection, and yet they believed not. In no case, therefore, is the judgment here uttered by Jesus too hard.
Luke 11:33. And no man.—Course of thought: I am more than Jonah (Luke 11:32); but in order to know this one does not (as you do) put the light under a bushel. Unquestionably Jesus, according to Luke, appears to wish to denounce the insincerity of His adversaries (De Wette). Comp. Matthew 5:15; Luke 8:16.—εἰς κρυπτήν, that is, in a vault, a cellar, the familiar crypta of ancient buildings and churches. See Meyer, ad loc.
Luke 11:34. When thine eye is sound.—Comp. Matthew 6:22-23. If the light is to be permitted to shine brightly before the eyes of others upon the candlestick, then it is above all things necessary to preserve to one’s self the light of his own power of perception undarkened and bright. Respecting the inner eye, see Lange on the parallel passage in Matthew. There appears to be indicated by this an immediate original consciousness of God, to which also Paul, Acts 17:27, alludes. It appears, therefore, that according to the doctrine of the Saviour, the organ exists even in fallen man by which revealed truth can be viewed, and it may be said that here, as also in Matthew 13:12, the general law is stated according to which an increase of the inner light and of the spiritual life takes place in man. If we assume that Luke communicates this saying of the Saviour in its exact historical connection, then especially must we not leave out of view that Jesus here speaks of the people (Luke 11:29), but not exclusively of His disciples, so that by the eye and the light of which here He speaks, we must understand, not anything specifically Christian, but something generically human.
Luke 11:35. Take heed, therefore.—Only in Luke does the admonition appear in this definite form. The same thought is uttered in the τὸ σκότος πόσον in Matthew. The Saviour fears that the here-indicated darkening is already found in part in His hearers, and warns them therefore to look to it that it do not become a total darkening.
Luke 11:36. If thy whole body therefore. This saying also only Luke has preserved. The appearance of a weak tautology, of which expositors complain, is best avoided if in the protasis we let the emphasis fall upon ὅλον, in the apodosis upon φωτεινὀν, ὡς ὅταν, κ.τ.λ. The sense is then this: Only when thy body is wholly illumined, without having even an obscure corner left therein, will it become so bright and clear as if the full brilliancy of a bright lamp illumined thee; in other words, thou wilt be placed in a normal condition of light.
DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL
1. It is from a Christologico-psychological point of view noticeable how it is the repelling of the charge of diabolical agency, which disposes and occasions the Lord to give forth one of the most elevated expressions of His self-consciousness, in that He places Himself far above Jonah and Solomon. As this comparison gives proof of His true humanity, it at the same time places the superhuman in His activity in the brightest light.
2. The sign of the prophet Jonah is essentially the great sign which the Saviour, even in the beginning of His ministry, had intimated to the hostile ’Ιουδαίοις, John 2:19-21. Thus, therefore, does the Saviour in Jerusalem and Galilee, over against similar opposers, and now, after the lapse of a year, remain fully consistent with Himself.
3. The craving for wonders is a diseased condition of soul, which can never be satisfied, and which, therefore, is combated by the Saviour with all His might. Comp. John 4:48. And so much the stronger opposition did He present to this temptation since it was in its deepest ground a Satanic one, and really a repetition of the request that He should perform a miracle of display. Comp. Luke 4:9-10. The Saviour could so much the less satisfy the demand of His contemporaries, as these were wholly wanting in the holy sense of light [Lichtsinn] which had animated the Ninevites in reference to Jonah and the Queen of the South in reference to Solomon.
4. It is manifestly here expressed that the truth revealed to man in the Gospel stands, not as something entirely foreign, over against and outside of him, but as related to the inmost constitution and the highest receptivity of his nature, as the eye and the light are, as it were, made for one another. Here holds good the beautiful expression of Goethe: Wär nicht das Auge sonnenhaft, wie könnten wir das Licht erblicken, &c. [Were not the eye akin to the sun, how could we behold the light?] And the Christian hymn, Heil’ge Einfalt, Gnadenwunder. [Holy simplicity, miracle of grace.]
5. “So can and should the receptivity of light in the spiritual sense (reason, feeling, and conscience) be cherished and kindled to the light of life and of the body. The essence of the care of the same is the simplicity, that is, the completeness, concentration, and consistency of the inner life. For this light-sense the word of God now necessarily becomes the inner light of life, which gradually drives out even from the corporal and sensual sphere of life all elements of obscuration, all fragments of the old night, till the whole being of the man, even his exterior, is not only illumined, but also diffuses light, a clear, beautiful, and consecrated beam of God.” Lange.
[“And in clear dream and solemn vision
Tell her of things that no gross ear may hear,
Till oft converse with Heavenly habitant
Begins to cast a beam on th’ outward shape,
The unpolluted temple of the mind,
And turns it by degrees to the soul’s essence,
Till all be made immortal.” Comus.]
HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL
Outward hearing of the word joined with inward enmity and perverted designs.—The unappeasable greediness for ever greater and greater wonders.—The request for a sign from Heaven an indirect proof of the reality of the other signs on earth.—The resurrection of the Lord the highest sign of His Messianic dignity.—Jonah and the Son of man: 1. What advantage the former appears to have over the latter; 2. wherein both stand on a level; 3. wherein the latter infinitely excels the former.—More than Solomon is here. We consider in reference to this saying: 1. How strange it sounds; 2. how true it Isaiah 3:0. of what moment it continues to be.—The wisdom of the Saviour and the wisdom of Solomon: the first had: 1. A higher originality (John 6:46); 2. a wider extent (John 6:68); 3. a more salutary purpose (Matthew 5:48) than the latter.—The different grades of the damnableness of sin: 1. Penitent heathen rise up against unbelieving Jews; 2. Jews longing for salvation against hypocritical nominal Christians.—The greater the privilege the heavier the responsibility.—The brightest light is lost when it is either: 1. Set under a bushel, or 2. viewed with diseased eyes.—As the light for the eye and the eye for the light, so are Christ and man made for one another.—The hopeless condition of the man in whom the inner light is wholly darkened; it is darkness: 1. In him; 2. around him; 3. above him.—The single eye and the illumined body, the diseased eye and the darkened body.—What must there be in man if he will rightly understand and esteem revealed truth? Comp. John 7:17.—Between truth and man there exists the same inner relation as between the light and the eye.
Starke:—Brentius:—In the work of salvation God does nothing new for any man: the matter proceeds in the way once shown in the Holy Scriptures.—Cramer:—The Old and the New Testament explain one another clearly.—Hedinger:—Terrible is it that the poor yet right-minded heathen, the blind people who yet have striven after virtue, shall herein condemn many Christians.—The doctrine of the last judgment is a fundamental article of the Christian religion, and must therefore be often urged with great earnestness.—Bibl. Wirt:—Christian preachers should be in an exceptional manner a light in the Lord.—Man needs that his soul should be filled with the divine light if he will do the works of light.—Enter diligently into thine heart and be for its enlightenment and amendment unweariedly concerned. Psalms 139:23-24. The condition of a man before, in, and after, conversion may be well compared with the night, with the break of day, and with day itself.
Heubner:—Christ must hare accounted the history of Jonah a true history, for, a. He would not have compared Himself with a fabulous hero; b. nor could the Ninevites, if their repentance after Jonah’s preaching is a mere fable, judge the Jews of that time.—Every converted man is for the unconverted that know him a judging, condemning example.—How often do people run and study for the sake of earthly wisdom, while Christ’s wisdom, so near at hand, is despised; men have a disgust at it, and deify the wisdom of the dust.
Luke 11:29; Luke 11:29.—According to the reading approved by Tischendorf on preponderating grounds: ἡ γενεὰ αὔτη γενεὰ πονηρά εστιν. [Supported also by Cod. Sin.]
Luke 11:29; Luke 11:29.—Rec.: τοῦ προφήτου, taken from the parallel passage in Matthew. [Omitted also by Cod. Sin.]
Luke 11:34; Luke 11:34.—Rec.: ὁ ὀφθαλμός—Matthew 6:22—σου is, however, decidedly supported and already approved by Griesbach. [Supported also by Cod. Sin.]
3. Two Manner of Enemies (Luke 11:37-54)
37And as he spake, a certain Pharisee besought him to dine [breakfast, ἀριστήσῃ] with him: and he went in, and sat down to meat [reclined]. 38And when the Pharisee saw it, he marvelled that he had not first washed before dinner. 39And the Lord said unto him, Now do ye Pharisees make clean the outside of the cup and the platter; but 40your inward part is full of ravening [rapacity] and wickedness. Ye fools, did not he, 41that made that which is without, make that which is within also? But rather [om., rather] give alms of such things as ye have [the contents, τὰ ἐνόντα]; and, behold, all things are clean unto you. 42But woe unto you, Pharisees! for ye tithe mint and rue and all manner of herbs, and pass over judgment and the love of God: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone. 43Woe unto you, Pharisees! for ye love the uppermost seats in the synagogues, and10 greetings in the markets. 44Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites [om., scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! V. O.11]! for ye are as graves which appear not, and the men that walk over [men in walking over] them are not aware of them. 45Then answered one of the lawyers [or, men learned in the law], and said unto him, Master [Teacher], thus saying thou reproachest [art reviling] us also. 46And he said, Woe unto you also, ye lawyers! for ye lade men with burdens grievous to be borne, and ye yourselves touch not the burdens with one of your fingers. 47Woe unto you! for ye build the sepulchres of the prophets, and your 48fathers killed them. Truly [So then] ye bear witness that ye allow [are witnesses and consent to] the deeds of your fathers: for they indeed killed them, and [but] ye build12 their sepulchres. 49Therefore also said the wisdom of God, I will send them prophets and apostles, and some of them they shall slay and persecute: 50That the blood of all the prophets, which was shed from the foundation of the world, may be required of this generation; 51From the blood of Abel unto the blood of Zacharias, which perished between the altar and the temple [lit., the house]: verily [yea] I say unto you, It shall be required of this generation. 52Woe unto you, lawyers! for ye have taken away the key of knowledge: ye entered not in yourselves, and them that were entering in ye hindered. 53And as he said these things unto them [And when he had gone out from thence13], the scribes and the Pharisees began to urge him vehemently [to be intensely embittered against him], and to provoke him to speak of many [various, πλειόνων things: 54Laying wait for him, and seeking [om., and seeking14] to catch something out of his mouth, that they might accuse him.
EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL
Luke 11:37. ’Εν δὲ τῷ λαλ.—That the Pharisee’s invitation came to Jesus while He was uttering what immediately precedes, Luke does not tell us, but only that it was given while the Saviour was engaged in speaking. It is therefore not impossible that this event belongs to a later period of the Saviour’s sojourn and activity in Galilee, when the hostility against Him had risen to a still higher pitch. On the other hand, the invitation of the Pharisee just at the moment becomes doubly intelligible if we compare Mark 3:20. Perhaps this breakfast was offered the Saviour by a Pharisee dwelling in the neighborhood, who might fear that Jesus through the press of the people could not reach the dwelling of his host.
Breakfast, ἀριστήσῃ.—We are here not to understand the chief meal, but a lighter prandium, which was taken earlier and required less time. That the disposition of the entertainer towards the Saviour was not on that account by any means a friendly one, sufficiently appears from the connection.
Luke 11:38.—Had not first washed.—Respecting the washings and purifications of the Pharisees before a meal, see the detailed statements of Lightfoot on Matthew 15:2; Sepp, L. J. ii. p. 343.—We have no ground for supposing that the Saviour did not commonly wash Himself before a meal. Now, perhaps, He omitted it because He had just accepted the invitation, or because He was wearied by the day’s work which He had hitherto accomplished.
Luke 11:39. And the Lord said unto Him.—Against the charge that the Saviour in the here-following conversation at table in some measure lost out of mind the requirement of courtesy towards His host, we have simply to bring to mind that “such a divine rudeness is everywhere in place” (Ebrard). If we consider that the host by his surprise had at the very beginning violated the duty of hospitality and benevolence; that they had scarcely even sat down when this injurious remark was made to the Saviour; that the Saviour had respect not merely to the matter but especially to the principle and the intention of the charge, we cannot then be in the least surprised that He emphatically vindicates Himself, and combats the hypocrisy of those who had censured Him. Every-day decorum gives place here to an infinitely higher duty. We must, however, doubtless assume that the Pharisee had expressed his astonishment in some way or other, since the Saviour would otherwise have taken a different occasion for uttering such a Philippic.
Now do ye Pharisees.—It is known how remarkable an agreement there is between this rebuke of the Saviour’s and that which Matthew, Luke 23:0, has given much more in detail. The question which of the two Evangelists has communicated this rebuke in the most exact connection has been alternately answered in favor of Matthew and Luke. See, e.g. the view in Meyer on Matthew 23:1. It is, however, to be remarked, 1, that the first reproach which, according to Luke, the Saviour addresses to the Pharisees, Luke 11:39-40, bears internal traces of having been uttered at a meal, and that also the coming forward of the scribe, Luke 11:45-46, by which a new rebuke is called forth, has internal probability. On the ground of this it appears not to admit of doubt that the Saviour really directed against a Pharisee in Galilee, on occasion of a breakfast, several similar rebukes to those which we find in Matthew, Luke 23:0, directed in yet greater number against the scribes and Pharisees at Jerusalem. 2. On the other side, however, the denunciatory discourse in Matthew affords so many proofs of an internal connection and a living totality, that the originality and exactness of its redaction cannot possibly be denied. It Isaiah , 3, undoubtedly possible that the Saviour, as occasion offered, repeated several rebukes against the Pharisees in Galilee and those of like mind in Judæa, but less probable that a whole series of rebukes, with citation of the same passage of Scripture and the same denunciation at the end, was twice delivered. It is more simple, therefore, 4, to assume that Luke is indeed right in representing the Saviour during a meal as uttering a discourse of rebuke against the Pharisees and scribes, but that in this he has taken the liberty of inserting at the same time per anticipationem several similar expressions, which, as appears from Matthew, the Saviour actually uttered only in the last days of His life, which Luke, however, on account of their similar character, communicates here, while in consequence of this he does not recur to the last denunciatory discourse. As to the whole matter, the opinion that “the Evangelists have taken up elements of earlier discourses of Jesus in later ones and the reverse” (Lange) can only be rejected in principle by those whose harmonistics are controlled by a somewhat mechanical theory of inspiration.
Νῦν, κ.τ.λ.—Not an antithesis merely of now in opposition to an understood πάλαι (Meyer); for we have not a single proof that the Saviour considers the former generation of Pharisees as better than the present, but rather in the sense of eo jam perventum est, which, perhaps, in view of the character of holy irony borne by the whole discourse, is best translated by “full well,” equivalent to “this is the way, they are on the right way to,” &c.
Luke 11:39. But your inward part.—Not a contraction for “the inside of your cup,” to which Matthew 23:25 appears to point, but the interior of the persons in contrast with the exterior of the cup. In Matthew the opposition between outer and inner side of the enjoyment of life appears more prominent. In the form given by Luke the outwardly purified cup is opposed to the inwardly corrupted heart of the drinker.
Luke 11:40. Ye fools.—Since God has created the inside as well as the outside, one as much as the other must be held holy; and it is not only evil but foolish to wish to separate, even in thought—to say nothing of act—that which in the nature of things is absolutely inseparable.
Luke 11:41. But rather give alms.—It appears to us entirely against the spirit and intent of this discourse of the Lord, to wish to find here an actual precept how alone they could bring about genuine purity. In this case certainly there would have had to follow in the future as the motive πάντα καθαρὰὑμῖν ἔσεται; and what now stands: καθ. ὑμ. ἐστιν appears to be meant to indicate to us how soon anything in their eyes was purified,—so soon, that is, as only they had lavished τὰ ἐνόντα for an ostentatious almsgiving. The Saviour said date not datis, since they already actually did it, but He will urge them in the Imperative only to continue this. We thus come spontaneously to the ironical interpretation (Erasmus, Kuinoel, a. o.) in this way: “What more would be yet necessary than to designate, set apart, the contents for alms; for thereby the whole inward impurity has at once disappeared.” That there is also a holy irony appears from Proverbs 1:26, and elsewhere. All attempts to find here a definite moral commandment which is meant in earnest, appear to us forced in the extreme, nor may we forget that the Saviour ends with: πάντα καθαρὰ ὑμῖν ἐστιν, that is, e vestro (perverso) judicio. Had He here wished to speak of actual objective purity, this addition would have been entirely superfluous. [This is a very doubtful interpretation. There seems no sufficient reason for doubting that our Lord means to commend practical benevolence as better than any scrupulosity about ceremonial purity. “Instead of any excessive anxiety,” He says, “about having the outside of your vessels duly purified, it would be better to give their contents to the poor. Such a spirit of beneficence will render any merely ceremonial defects of small account.”—C. C. S.]
Luke 11:42. Ye tithe.—Moses had aforetime required that they should bring the tenth of all their possessions, as an offering to the sanctuary. Numbers 18:21; Deuteronomy 14:23. The perverseness of the Pharisees consisted in this, that they applied the command to the most insignificant trifles, e.g. mint and rue, and on the other hand neglected inviolable requirements of the Divine law. They forgot judgment respecting themselves first of all, in the sense, that is, in which the Saviour had required it, John 7:24; and at the same time the love of God, considered as the genitive of object, and according to Matthew, moreover, faithfulness, τὴν πίστιν (Luke 11:23). Thus did they violate the noblest duties towards God, their neighbor, and themselves.
These ought ye to have done.—It is an admirable proof of the heavenly composure and impartiality of our Lord, that instead of abrogating the fulfilment of the minor duties, or declaring it unimportant, He on the other hand permits and commands it, but then also insists with the best right that the higher duties should at least be fulfilled not less conscientiously than the rest. Comp. Matthew 23:23.
Luke 11:43. The uppermost seats … greetings.—Comp. Matthew 23:6-7, and see Lange, ad loc.
Luke 11:44. Graves which appear not.—In a somewhat different form the same rebuke is expressed in Matthew 23:27. There the Saviour condemns especially the ornamenting and decking out of a thing that was inwardly abominable; here the consequence of it is brought forward; the whitewashed grave as such is scarcely to be recognized any longer, and one can therefore go over it without knowing it; so may one come in contact with the Pharisees, without at once receiving an impression of their inward moral corruption. [I should here suppose that in the two passages two different classes of graves are referred to. Here the humbler grave of the common people, which in time might sink into the earth and be walked over without notice, thereby defiling the passers-by; and in the passage in Matthew, on the other hand, the more pompous sepulchres of the rich, whose magnificent decorations were so poorly in agreement with the corruption which they concealed within. The application of the two images is not essentially different.—C. C. S.].
Luke 11:45. One of the lawyers.—There is no ground for thinking that this νομικός belonged himself to the sect of the Sadducees (Paulus). On the other hand, it seems that we must assume that the learned caste of the νομικοί maintained a somewhat aristocratic position with reference to the great mass of the Pharisees, and that this man wished to remind our Lord: “If thou speakest thus, thou wilt not only raise against thee the plebs, but also the men of science; not only, so to speak, the laici, but also the clerici.” He wishes to conjure down the tempest of denunciation, and to overawe the Saviour; with what poor success will immediately appear.
Luke 11:46. Woe unto you also, ye lawyers.—Comp. Matthew 23:4. “Gradus: digito uno attingere, digitis tangere, digito movere, manu tollere, humero imponere. Hoc cogebant populum, illud ipsi refugiebant.” Bengel.
Luke 11:47. Ye build the sepulchres.—Comp. Matthew 23:29-31.—Not the building of the sepulchres in and of itself, but the connection which they thereby proved themselves to have with the prophet-murdering race of old, is condemned by our Lord. Fathers and children together did only one work,—the former killed the messengers of God, the latter buried them; the former incurred, the latter perpetuated, the damnable guilt of blood; and while they apparently honored the prophets, they had towards God, who had sent them, the same enmity at heart as the murderers of the prophets. For other views, see Lange, ad loc.
Luke 11:48. But ye build.—It is of course understood that it is still the graves of the prophets which are meant. If they had been of a better sort than their fathers, they would have erected no monuments of a damnable deed, which ought rather to be buried in the dust of oblivion. Now, however, when they spoke with so much ado of their fathers, they with their μνημεῖα apparently honored the prophets, but in effect their murderers, and—themselves.
Luke 11:49. Therefore also said the wisdom of God.—“Therefore, that is, because you have part of the guilt and are ripe for the punishment of your fathers; the wisdom of God has also said,” &c. The Lord appears hereby to mean that through Him the wisdom of God speaks personally to the children of men. The view that the Saviour here cites an ancient declaration of God, lost to us (Paulus, Von Hengel), is inadmissible, as “contrary to the analogy of all other citations of Jesus, as well as to the evangelical tradition itself, which attributed these words, with Matthew 23:34, to Jesus.” Meyer. Perhaps we have here to understand a former declaration of the Saviour Himself, and to compare Matthew 11:19. As the Son of the Father, who spoke what He had formerly seen and heard with the Father, the Saviour could with the best right name Himself ἡ σοφία τοῦ Θεοῦ, and perhaps it is the recollection of similar declarations which has given John occasion to designate Him decidedly as the λόγος τοῦ Θεοῦ. That here only a ὕστερον πρότερον of form occurs (Neander, Twesten, Meyer), has no proof. It was certainly not unworthy of the Saviour to cite His own formerly-uttered word as that of the Incarnate Wisdom of God, and if He did this we cannot then assume that He understood by the prophets and apostles any one else than those of the New Covenant now soon to appear in His place, and by whose rejection the measure of wickedness should be fulfilled, and the murder of the prophets reach its culmination. The colors in which here the fate of His witnesses is depicted are probably all taken from their subsequent life. Even crucifixion is in Matthew not mentioned without ground, if the familiar tradition contains truth that Peter suffered the martyr’s death in this form, not, it is true, at the hands of the Jews, but yet after he had been condemned by the Jews and delivered to the heathen world. Persecute, ἐκδιώξ, so that it was no longer granted to them to remain quiet in the land. Comp., e.g., Acts 13:50.
Luke 11:50. The blood of all the prophets—See Lange on the parallel in Matthew. The view of Hug, Sepp, and others, that the Saviour here predicted the murder of Zacharias, the son of Baruch, shortly before the destruction of the temple (comp. Josephus, De Bell. Jud. iv 5, 4,) belongs already to the history of exegesis. We too cannot see anything else in it than that the Saviour has in mind 2 Chronicles 24:21, and in this way brings together the murder of the prophets from the first to the last book of the Old Testament canon. He mentions therefore the ancient, as yet unatoned-for blood-guiltiness, which soon, augmented by new, will reach its fearful culmination. As respects finally the well-known difficulty that Zacharias was not the son of Barachias, but of Jehoiada, we prefer on the whole the view (Ebrard, pp. 5, 6,) that Zacharias according to the Old Testament also was a grandson of Jehoiada, and that the Saviour here correctly states Barachias, who is not mentioned in the Old Testament, as his father. Respecting this whole passage the Essay of Müller deserves to be compared, Stud. u. Krit., 1841, 3.
Luke 11:51. Yea, I say unto you.—It belongs to the fearful earnestness of the Divine retributive righteousness, that when a generation concurs in heart with the wickedness of an earlier generation, it receives, in the final retribution of the accumulated guilt, as well the punishment for its own, as also for the former sins which it had inwardly made its own.
Luke 11:52. Woe unto you, lawyers!—Comp. Matthew 23:14. Here is said definitely to the νομικοί what had there been said to the scribes and Pharisees in general. The position of this saying in Luke, after the fearful denunciation of the previous verse, breaks more or less the climax of the discourse, and may perhaps with other things serve as a proof that he on this occasion has inserted single sayings which were actually not uttered till afterwards. By the key of knowledge we can, as to the rest, understand nothing else than the way of the knowledge of Divine truth which had been revealed and manifested in Christ. By their hierarchical influence upon the people they barred them from access thereto, and by their disposition towards the Saviour, they closed the access to it against themselves.
Luke 11:53. And when He had gone out from thence.—See the note on the text. It may be plainly noticed that either anger or conscience made immediate answer impossible to the host and the scribes. In silence therefore did they permit the Saviour to depart from the prandium, but remained together in order to consult what attempts were now further to be made. They soon seek Him again, in order to interrogate Him about all manner of things (ἀποστοματίζειν), apparently trifling sophistical questions which Luke does not even account worthy the honor of mention. In case of necessity they are even ready to suffer even new castigations, by the answer which the Saviour certainly is not to be supposed to have forborne giving them, if only they could at last succeed in drawing something from Him which should in some way give them the right of denouncing Him either before the secular or before the spiritual authorities.
DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL
1. The holy anger of the Saviour at the breakfast of the Pharisee (Mark 3:5, comp. Ephesians 4:26), far from being below His dignity, or standing at all in conflict with His character, is on the other hand a striking revelation of His heavenly greatness. It is well known that He towards all that had deeply fallen was affectionate and forbearing, and only towards hypocrites was inexorably severe. The cause of this lies in His character as King of truth, with which no sin stands in so direct opposition as hypocrisy, because it vaunts itself of the guise of a virtue, of the essence of which it is entirely destitute. [So far have we, in our mawkish theories of universal good-nature, sunk below the understanding of this divine severity of our Lord against unworthy teachers of religion, that I have actually seen the declaration attributed to a leading religious journal, that “no man who respects religion will speak ill of a clergyman.” Such an impudent identifying of religion with its teachers is hardly credible. How does it consist with the tremendous rebukes of our passage, directed against clergymen?—C. C. S.]
2. Pharisaism, far from being a merely accidental form of the Judaism of that time, is on the other hand the natural revelation of the sinful condition of the heart when men will not give up the hope of becoming righteous before God by their virtue and merits. They are proud of that which they imagine themselves to possess, and continually inclined to assume the guise of that which they well know they do not possess. The enmity of the flesh towards the immutable declarations and contents of the law (Romans 8:7), they seek to conceal behind respect for outward forms, and in each case they make a compromise with themselves, in order to conceal the transgression of the great commandment by exact fulfilment of the less. But this whole web of self-deceit is penetrated by the sun-like glance of the King of truth, and whoever, like the scribe, Luke 11:45, takes part with the cause of unrighteousness, receives his righteous proportion of the sharp chastisement.
3. When the Saviour combats the temptations of the Pharisaical hierarchy, it is by no means His intention entirely to forbid all distinctions of offices of honor in His kingdom. The same one who wills not that one of His people should be called Rabbi, has placed some as apostles, &c. Ephesians 4:11. But this He censures, that the office is desired for the title’s sake, instead of the title for the office’s sake; that men take honor one of another instead of seeking the honor which is of God alone, John 5:44. How sadly is the Catholic Church, following the Pharisees, gone astray both as to the letter and the spirit of this word of the Lord!
4. Men judge the heart according to the deed; the Saviour judges the deed according to the heart. Therefore He adduces the building of the sepulchres of the prophets, that in and of itself might be permitted and laudable, as a new ground of accusation, inasmuch as He discovers the same temper of mind in the buriers of the dead, as had once dwelt in the murderers. What they undertake against earlier and later messengers of God, is to Him so far from being surprising and unexpected that He, as the personal Wisdom of God, has already seen it beforehand and predicted it, and yet He has not permitted Himself to be held back by this mournful prospect an instant from His uninterrupted labor of love.
5. That the judgment of the Lord, severe as it was, was not at all too hard, appears at once from this fact alone, that the Pharisees have not the most distant thought of humbling themselves under the rod of this word, but only forge new attacks, and therefore fall out of one sin into another and yet worse sin.
6. There is one wisdom which shuts up the kingdom of God from one’s self and others, and another which shows and helps to find the entrance. The former is revealed in the Pharisees and scribes, the latter in the Saviour. The appellation σοφία τοῦ Θεοῦ is one of those points of contact which occur in so manifold ways between the Synoptical and the Johannean Christology. Comp. also Proverbs 8:23. An Ebionitic or Socinianistic Christ could not possibly have spoken in such a way.
7. Inasmuch as the Saviour takes the two examples of unrighteously-shed blood from the first and last book of the Old Testament canon, He gives testimony for the Scriptures of the Old Testament as being a whole.
HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL
The Saviour’s pleasure at table embittered by the malice of man. Proverbs 17:1. The free Humanity of the Saviour in contrast with the restrictions of a dry Legalism.—The severity of love.—Outward purifying without inward purity.—The mournful opposition between seeming and being, in the religious sphere: 1. The seeming an anxious copy of the being; 2. the being, the mournful contrast of the seeming.—The compromise between conscientiousness and the lust of sin.—Beneficence not seldom a cloak for the exercise of gross sins.—Faithfulness in much and little. There are men who are, 1. Neither the one nor the other; 2. who are conscientious in little and not in much; 3. conscientious in much and on the contrary neglectful in little; 4. who unite both qualities.—The Saviour Himself a noble type of faithfulness as well in the highest as in the lowest duty in His calling.—The striving after vain honor a genuinely Pharisaic vice.—How little do men often conjecture how it is with our hearts!—The principle of solidarity.—Whoever perpetuates the mention of damnable deeds which might better fall into forget-fulness, renders thereby a testimony against himself.—No rejection of the word of God which had not been already predicted.—The blood-stream in Israel’s history, the length, the breadth, the depth, the height.—The wisdom of God over against the folly of man. Luke 11:49. Comp. Luke 11:40.—The blood-guiltiness of Israel: 1. An ancient guilt; 2. an accumulated guilt; 3. a righteously visited guilt.—This whole discourse a proof of the truth of the prophetical word: The Lord is patient, yet of great might, Nahum 1:3.—Hostility against the truth even where it is clearly recognized.
Veritas odium parit, Acts 9:5 b.
Starke:—Osiander:—It is not a sin to eat and converse with people of another religion, if only we do nothing that is contrary to our profession.—Majus:—We should give offence to no one, but if he will without it take offence, he does it on his own responsibility.—Often do men make side-work the main work and the reverse.—Bibl. Wirt.:—To please men, one must not conceal the truth, but, when time and place require, confess it, without regard to private gain or loss.—Quesnel:—Sometimes to address the sinner severely is very necessary in order that he be roused and brought to the knowledge of sin.—Brentius:—Without faith it is impossible to please God, let one give as many alms as he will.—Hypocrisy and avarice, where they coexist, are almost incurable.—Everything in its due order and measure.—Quesnel: To be first or chief is not pride, but to strive after it is a sign of haughtiness.—The discovery of hypocrisy a hard work.—Canstein:—The evil conscience accuses itself when sin and vices are only rebuked in general terms.—It is the greatest hypocrisy to wish to honor departed teachers with monuments, but persecute living ones, Acts 7:52.—Anton:—Evangelical preachers are appointed for this that they suffer tribulation—why do we wonder at that?—The Lord regards and inquires after His servants’ blood, Psalms 9:12.—Canstein:—From one sin into another, from hypocrisy to murder of prophets.—Hedinger:—It is one thing to think we understand the Scriptures, another thing to be certain of it.—Though children of the world are otherwise at variance, yet they join together when Christ’s truth is to be opposed.—The longer, the worse, they mislead and are misled. Isaiah 26:10.
Heubner:—If there is a heavenly nobility, this has another character than the earthly.—How dangerous the position of the teacher of religion is!—The easy conscience is none.—The human heart may be a temple and a grave, the best and the worst may conceal itself therein.—There is for every man a measure of sin, he cannot stand half-way, comp. Revelation 22:11.—There is a degree of corruption when man cannot escape destruction, but we can never determine that in the concrete.—Rieger:—A sermon upon the imputation of others’ sins in his Herzens-Postille, p. 91. Comp. Plutarchus, De sera numinis vindicta, ed. Reichii, viii. p. 213–217.—Saurin:—Les grands et les petits devoirs dans la Religion, Sermon sur Math. Luke 23:23 (parallel to Luke 11:42), tom. 10.—A Sermon by Arndt upon Jesus’ denunciation of woe in the temple, Matthew 23:0, in his sermons on the Life of Jesus, iv., deserves also to be compared here.
[Luke 11:43.—Τοὺς . Those to which they were accustomed, from the reverence of the people.—C. C. S.]
Luke 11:44; Luke 11:44.—The Rec. has here γραμματεῖς καὶ φαρισαῖοι, ὑποκριταί; in all probability taken from the similar passage in Matthew. [Om., Tischendorf, Tregelles, Meyer, Bleek, Alford with B., C., L., Cod. Sin.—C. C. S.]
Luke 11:48; Luke 11:48.—The following words of the Rec.: αὐτῶν τὰ μνημεῖα, are wanting in B., L., [Cod. Sin.,] Copt., Cantabrig., and other authorities, and are therefore bracketed by Lachmann, and rejected by Griesbach, Tischendorf, [Meyer, Tregelles, Alford. But Bleek vindicates their genuineness and necessity.—C. C. S.] It is supposed with reason that they contain an interpolated supplement, as οἰκοδομεῖτε can stand very well alone.
Luke 11:53; Luke 11:53.—The reading κἀκεῖθεν ἐξελθόντος αὐτοῦ, approved by Tischendorf, [Meyer, Tregelles,] on the authority of B., C., L., [Cod. Sin.,] has internal probability. The Recepta varies, and it is much easier to assume that this complot took place after the Saviour’s departure than in His presence.
Luke 11:54; Luke 11:54.—The additional words of the Recepta, ζητοῦντες ἵνα κατηγορήσωσιν αὐτοῦ, are in all probability spurious. See Meyer, ad locum. [The text, as Van Oosterzee accepts it, is Tischendorf’s. Supported by B., L., Cod. Sin.—C. C. S.]
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Lange, Johann Peter. "Commentary on Luke 11". "Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical". https://www.studylight.org/
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