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Bible Commentaries
Luke 10

Poole's English Annotations on the Holy BiblePoole's Annotations

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Luke 10:1-12 Christ sendeth out the seventy disciples to work miracles and to preach.

Luke 10:13-16 He pronounces a woe against Chorazin, Bethsaida, and Capernaum.

Luke 10:17-20 The seventy return with joy; Christ showeth them wherein to rejoice.

Luke 10:21,Luke 10:22 He thanks his Father for having revealed his gospel to the simple only.

Luke 10:23,Luke 10:24 He showeth the blessedness of those that were called into his church.

Luke 10:25-37 He teacheth a lawyer how to attain eternal life; and by the parable of the good Samaritan showeth whom we are to consider as our neighbour.

Luke 10:38-42 He commendeth Mary’s attention to his doctrine in preference to Martha’s busy care to entertain him.

Verse 1

We heard before of Christ’s first electing, then sending out, twelve, Luke 6:13-16; Luke 9:1-6; and we heard of their return, and giving an account of their trust to their Lord, Luke 10:10. What their particular account was we no where read, but it was such as our Saviour judged the harvest too great for the hands of the labourers. He therefore now resolves to send out seventy more. The names of these we have not in the evangelist, only that Christ sent them out, and that he sent them

two and two, which might be for their better mutual assistance of each other, and also for their mutual testimony one for another. When God sent out the first conductors, and governors of his people, he sent two, Moses and Aaron. John Baptist sent two of his disciples to Christ. Christ sent two of his disciples to prepare the passover, Luke 22:8. There seemeth to be nothing mysterious in this. Man is a sociable creature, and it is not good for him to be alone. We cannot determine that our Saviour had any regard to the numbers of twelve and seventy; though it is certain that both those numbers amongst the Jews seem to have had a more than ordinary character, twelve being the number of the tribes of Israel, according to the promise, Genesis 17:20 49:28; at Elim they found twelve wells of water, Exodus 15:27; according to the number of the tribes were the twelve pillars, Exodus 24:4, and the twelve stones in the breastplate of judgment, Exodus 28:21; and the number of the cakes for the shew bread was to be twelve, Leviticus 24:5. The princes of Israel were twelve, Numbers 1:44; and twelve men were sent to spy out the land of Canaan, Deuteronomy 1:23. So we shall observe that in a multitude of things they kept to the number of twelve: John in his description of the new Jerusalem, which he saw in his vision, says, it had twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels, and on the gates were the names of the twelve tribes, Revelation 21:12. And the wall had twelve foundations, &c., Luke 10:14. And for the number of seventy: Jacob’s family, when they went down into Egypt, were seventy souls, Genesis 46:27; they mourned for Jacob seventy days, Genesis 50:3; at Elim they met with seventy palm trees, Numbers 33:9; the posterity of Jacob was in Babylon seventy years. The Jewish sanhedrim, or great court chosen upon the advice of Jethro, is said to have consisted first of seventy, then of seventy-two persons. So as the numbers of twelve and seventy seem to have been numbers to which the Jews had some respect. Whether our Saviour, in the choice of those whom he first sent to preach the gospel, had any respect or not to the Jewish value for those numbers, or designed by it to show them, that he was about to set up a new kingdom and government, which, though differing from what they had exercised formerly, yet in some little things should have some conformity to them, we cannot determine. We shall find the same powers and authority given to these seventy as to the twelve, and the same instructions: how some come to imagine a difference of order betwixt them I cannot tell; no such thing appeareth from the instructions given the one or the other upon their first sending out.

Verse 2

See Poole on "Matthew 9:37" and See Poole on "Matthew 9:38", where these words are put immediately before the sending out of the twelve. Both the twelve and the seventy, all that Christ ever sent out, were to be labourers in the Lord’s harvest.

Verses 3-4

We met with these instructions before, and opened them in our notes. See Poole on "Matthew 10:9", See Poole on "Matthew 10:10" and See Poole on "Matthew 10:16", only there we had not those words,

and salute no man by the way. The meaning of that is no more than, make all possible speed: see 2 Kings 4:29.

Verses 5-7

See Poole on "Matthew 10:11", and See Poole on "Mark 6:10". The instructions, as to the substance of them, are the same here as there, though a little differing in the terms.

Verses 8-12

We have met with the same instructions before in Matthew and Mark. See Poole on "Matthew 10:11", and following verses to Matthew 10:15. See Poole on "Mark 6:10-11". There is some difference in words. Matthew saith, —inquire who in the city is worthy, and, Luke 10:13,

if the house be worthy; Luke saith,

if the son of peace be there; they both mean the same thing: if there be any in it, that belong to God’s election of grace, any whom God intends by you to call, and make partakers of the peace of the gospel. For other things relating to the opening of the words, see the notes before mentioned. Only we may from hence observe for our instruction,

1. That it is the will of Christ, that his ministers should not be too solicitous for a livelihood. As the labourer is worthy of his hire, so he that sends them into his harvest will see they shall be fed. Let them look to their calling, and to the fulfilling of their ministry; God will see they shall be fed.

2. That the society of ministers of the gospel, in cities and houses, should not be with debauchees, but with those that are worthy, so far as man can judge; such as are their Master’s friends and servants should be their companions.

3. Those are most worthy in places amongst whom the Son of peace is, men and women that have the most knowledge of and love for Christ.

4. The ministers of Christ ought to carry themselves with all imaginable civility, wishing good to all, and doing good to all.

5. Christ’s ministers ought not to make their bellies their gods, —eat such things as are set before you.

6. They have a Divine licence to take and use for their necessities such things as men give them.

7. Christ expects that his people should maintain his ministers, not depriving the labourers of their hire, nor muzzling the mouths of the oxen which tread out the corn, 1 Corinthians 9:9,1 Corinthians 9:10, nor preferring their servants for their worldly occasions before such as labour for their souls, and in that work are God’s messengers to them, and his servants in the first place, though employed in watching for people’s souls.

8. The not giving a livelihood to ministers, is a not receiving them, that is, provided the people be able.

9. People by not receiving the gospel of peace brought them by faithful ministers shall do them no hurt, their peace shall return unto them. They shall be a sweet savour unto God, even as to them that perish. Their judgment is with the Lord, and their work with their God, though they labour in vain; though Israel be not gathered, they shall be glorified. Men proportion their rewards according to successes of servants. God more justly proportions his rewards to men’s sincerity and diligence in their labour.

10. If men refuse the gospel, yet they shall know the kingdom of God is come nigh unto them. If they will not be subject to his kingdom of grace, yet they shall be subdued by the kingdom of his power and justice.

11. There will come a day when men that have the offers of the gospel of peace, and refuse them, slighting and despising his ministers and their message, will find that they had better have lived in Sodom when it was burnt with fire and brimstone; their portion of wrath in the day of judgment will be larger and bitterer than the portion of the men of Sodom. Let all who live in our days hear and fear, and in time break off their sins by a true repentance, lest they go to hell at the highest disadvantage.

Verses 13-15

See Poole on "Matthew 11:21", and following verses to Matthew 11:24.

Verse 16

See Poole on "Matthew 10:40".

Verse 17

As we before read of the twelve coming back to give Christ an account of their success, so we here have the same of the seventy. Whether this joy of the seventy was more carnal than it ought, they rather rejoicing in that new power which they had received from Christ, than in the demonstration of Christ’s Divine power, and the confirmation of the doctrine of the gospel by these miraculous operations, is hard to determine; for though Christ’s reply seemeth to have a check in it, yet it is so qualified by the term rather, Luke 10:20, that we cannot from thence absolutely conclude any such thing from it. Here is a difference to be observed between Christ’s and his disciples’ casting out of devils. Christ did it in his own name, by his own word of command, power, and authority; the disciples did it in Christ’s name, and by a power and authority derived from him.

Verse 18

Lightning comes suddenly, and with thunder. The thunder of the gospel brought down the devil as lightning: and indeed this is observable, the devil is so busy in no places where the gospel prevails, as in places where that joyful sound is not come, whether we consider his power with reference to men’s bodies or souls. This is one general advantage of gospel preaching, the devil will not endure the sound of it, so as to impose upon mankind, at that rate which he doth upon ignorant persons, that are heathens, or only differing from them in that they are baptized, and call themselves Christians. Christ saw this, as God, for the devil is not visible to human senses, as neither are any spirits; which showed the impudence of that popish impostor in Germany, who selling indulgences, (by which he pretended souls were delivered from purgatory), called to the people to look up and see them fly away. But Christ could see it as God, for he certainly knew that it would be, and that it already was, the blessed effect of the gospel.

Verse 19

Christ doth here:

1. Confirm the power before given to these seventy for working miracles, that they might not think that it ceased upon the determination of their first mission.

2. He confirmeth his promise to them for his presence with them, and protection of them.

Interpreters think here is a manifest allusion to Psalms 91:13, Thou shalt tread upon the lion and adder: the young lion and the dragon shalt thou trample under thy feet: which must be understood figuratively, the sense being, that nothing should hurt them. This promise was more specially verified for some years in God’s protection of time first ministers of the gospel, until they had done their work; and shall be fulfilled in a sense to the end of the world, according to the promise in Psalms 91:13. Nothing shall hurt their souls, as to the favour of God and their eternal happiness, nor their bodies, so far forth as, or so long as, God in his wisdom shall judge fit. They have a further power also given them more common to all the ministers of the gospel sent by Christ, yea, and to all Christians. They have a power over all the power of the enemy; God will not be wanting to them in a power to resist the devil, and they have a promise that, being resisted, he shall flee from them.

Verse 20

It is a usual thing in holy writ, to have prohibitions delivered in general terms, which must be understood in a restrained sense. That it is so here, appeareth plainly by the word

rather, prefixed to rejoice, in the latter part of the sentence. For it was doubtless a just cause of joy and rejoicing to them that Christ had honoured them with such an extraordinary gift and power, but not of so much joy as to know that their names were written in the book of life; for as the good was infinitely greater, so a proportionable joy was requisite upon the assurance of it.

The expression written in heaven, is equivalent to the being written in the book of life, whereby is signified, either the certain designation of some to eternal life, or effectual calling. We read of this book of life, Revelation 3:5; Revelation 20:12,Revelation 20:15; Revelation 21:27; Revelation 22:19. It is called the Lamb’s book, Revelation 13:8, and it is said it was written from the foundation of the world; which will justify those divines who understand it of a particular election from eternity; whereas it is objected that when amongst the twelve there was a son of perdition, it is unreasonable to think that all the seventy were elect vessels. It is easily answered, that our Saviour’s words were true according to the usual phrase of speaking, if the generality of them only were such. Nor need our Saviour be understood as asserting all their names were so written, but only asserting the greatest cause of joy to be, if men can by their calling find that their election is sure. From our Saviour’s words we may infer,

1. That there is a book of life, an election of grace.

2. That there are names written in this book; it is an election of persons.

3. That men may know that their names are written in that book, otherwise they could not rejoice; no man rejoiceth but in a good with which he hath some degree of union.

4. That this is a greater cause of joy, than for a man to know that he hath a power to cast out devils.

Men may be made use of to cast out devils in Christ’s name, who yet may go to the devil at last, Matthew 7:22,Matthew 7:23; so cannot those whose names are written in the book of life. But I cannot understand that our Saviour in these words asserts that all the names of the seventy were written in that book. The tendency of his discourse is rather to quicken them to give all diligence to make sure of this cause of joy and rejoicing.

Verses 21-22

See Poole on "Matthew 11:25", and following verses to, Matthew 11:27, where we met with these words of our Saviour.

Verses 23-24

See Poole on "Matthew 13:16", and See Poole on "Matthew 13:17".

Verses 25-28

These four verses would incline one to think that Luke here records the same piece of history which we met with in Matthew 22:35-40, and Mark 12:28-34; See Poole on "Matthew 22:35" and following verses to Matthew 22:40, See Poole on "Mark 12:28" and following verses to Mark 12:34; but neither of those evangelists have the following part of this discourse, which makes me doubtful whether Luke speaks of the same person coming to Christ which the others mention. A lawyer he was, who came to our Saviour upon a design to tempt, that is, to make a trial of him, whether he would deliver any doctrine contrary to the law of Moses. It is plain that he fancied that the eternal life which Christ preached was to be obtained by wing what the law required. Our Saviour agreeth it, that if he did what the law required, according as he himself had given an account of it, he should live. I apprehend no absurdity, to affirm that our Saviour speaks here of living eternally. It is rather absurd to fancy that our Saviour did not answer ad idem, to the thing about which the question was propounded. Neither is salvation impossible because the law in itself could not give life, but because of the weakness of our flesh, so as we cannot fulfil it. So that considering our infirmity, the law serveth to us only as a schoolmaster, to bring us to Christ; and as a mark which we ought to shoot at, though we cannot shoot home; a rule to direct us in our duty, though we cannot perform or fulfil it.

Verse 29

This lawyer’s desire to justify himself spake him a hypocrite. The reason of that question,

Who is my neighbour? was the notion of the neighbour (mentioned in the law) which the scribes and Pharisees had, who counted none their neighbours but their friends and benefactors, at least none but those that were of their own nation or particular sect; and had taught their people, that they might hate their enemies. Our Saviour (this being but a captious question, considering the received interpretation amongst them of the law of God) doth not think fit to answer his question directly, but telling him a story, maketh him answer himself.

Verses 30-37

It is certain that the principal scope of our Saviour in this history, or parable, was to convince the lawyer, that every one is our neighbour to whom God offereth us an opportunity of doing good, whether he be of our nation or region or not. Every object of our mercy is our neighbour, whom God requireth us to love as ourselves. This was quite contrary to the common doctrine of the scribes’ and Pharisees’ interpreting the law, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself, and excellently served our Saviour’s design, to show this lawyer that he understood not, much less observed, the law of God in that manner, as that he could justify himself from the violation of it. He also by the by showeth him, that the Samaritans, whom the Jews so much abhorred, better understood the law of God, than the ecclesiastical guides of those times, who yet pretended to be teachers of it to others; for some of them by the light of nature discerned themselves obliged to do good to every one that stood in need of their help, or if not by the light of nature, yet by the light of revelation in the law of Moses; but the scribes and Pharisees, by their false interpretation of the Divine law, had taught people to omit a great part of their duty required by the Divine law, and so could not hope to be justified, or to obtain eternal life and salvation, from the observation of it.

Verses 38-39

Interpreters think this village was Bethany, and that this Martha and Mary were the same which are mentioned John 11:2. Inns probably were not so frequent then, and in those places, as they are now, so as strangers were often received in private houses. Christ loseth no opportunity of preaching the gospel; while they were preparing supper, he was entertaining the family with the glad tidings of the gospel, the feast of fat things made upon the mountain, Isaiah 25:6. The lips of the righteous feed many, Proverbs 10:21. It was their fashion to have disciples sit at their doctors’ feet, to hear their word; there Mary fixes herself.

Verse 40

Two things are blameable in Martha:

1. That she made too much ado about the entertainment of our Saviour. That she entertained our Saviour she did well; but herein she erred, that she made her entertainment of him so troublesome, as it would not give her leave to take that advantage, which she might, or ought to have done, from the entertainment of a prophet.

2. That she is displeased with her sister because she would not lend her hand, but chose rather to sit at Christ’s feet and hear his word, and desireth Christ to send her away to her assistance.

Verses 41-42

Our Saviour plainly blames Martha for her too great solicitude and trouble to provide a dinner, or supper, for him, who had meat to eat which she was not aware of, it being his meat and drink to do the will of his Father, and to preach the gospel. Interpreters much trouble themselves in determining what that

one thing is, which our Saviour here saith is needful. Some think our Saviour meaneth no more than, one dish is enough; but this certainly is too low a sense. Others would have this one thing to be a life of meditation and contemplation, and that this was that

good part Mary had chosen. If Mary had thus spent her whole life they might have said something for this. But certainly Mary’s choosing to take advantage of Christ’s company, rather to spend an hour or two in hearing of him, than in preparing a supper for him, will prove no such thing. I should interpret it generally, concerning the care of the soul with reference to eternity. That is certainly the one thing necessary, that was the better part, which Mary had chosen, as to which Christ would not discourage her, nor any way blunt the edge of those holy desires he had kindled in her, an effect of which study and care was her sitting at the feet of Christ to hear his word.

Bibliographical Information
Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Luke 10". Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/mpc/luke-10.html. 1685.
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