Millions miss a meal or two each day.
Help us change that! Click to donate today!
LUKE CHAPTER 7
Luke 7:1-10 Christ admires the centurion’s singular faith, and healeth his absent servant.
Luke 7:11-17 He raiseth to life the widow’s son at Nain,
Luke 7:18-23 and sendeth back the messengers of John with an account of the miracles they had seen wrought by him.
Luke 7:24-30 His testimony of John.
Luke 7:31-35 He reproveth the perverseness of the people, who were not to be won either by the manners of John or himself.
Luke 7:36-50 He suffereth his feet to be washed and anointed by a woman who had been a sinner; and in a parable showeth that even the worst of sinners may be forgiven upon the terms of a hearty and sincere repentance.
See Poole on "Matthew 8:5", and following verses to Matthew 8:13, where we have considered all the differences between Matthew’s and Luke’s relation of this miracle. We have in it remarkable,
1. The humanity of the centurion to his servant, to teach us Christians to do the like.
2. The profitableness of good works: the centurion’s love to the Jews in building them a synagogue gains their applications to Christ for him.
3. The humility of the centurion: he did not think himself worthy to appear in Christ’s presence, nor to receive Christ into his house.
4. His faith in Christ’s Divine power and goodness. It doth not appear that he believed that Christ was the eternal Son of God, but he did at least believe that he was clothed with a Divine power, or had a Divine power communicated to him from God, by which he was able, at a distance, and by no more than a word, without application of human rational means, to command off the distemper of his servant.
5. The power of faith in God, and its acceptableness to him. Christ doth not only effect the cure, but predicate his faith to be greater than he had found amongst the generality of the Jewish nation, who went for the only people of God at that day, and had much more light, and means to discern that Christ was sent of God for the good of men, than this Roman captain had.
Luke alone gives us an account of this miracle of our Saviour’s. Matthew mentions only the raising from the dead of Jairus’s daughter. Luke adds this. John adds that of Lazarus, John 11:57, by which our Lord did mightily show his Divine power, and gave us some firstfruits of the more general resurrection, as well as declared himself to be, as he elsewhere saith, the resurrection and the life. The place where this miracle was done was called Nain. H. Stephen Heb., Chald., Gr. et Lat. nomina, & c., tells us, it was a city or town about two miles from Mount Tabor, at the foot of the lesser Mount Hermon, near to Hendor. It was the custom of the Jews to bury their dead without their cities. Christ met this dead body carrying out. He was it seems her only child, and she was a widow, so under a great affliction, God by this providence having quenched the only coal she had left in Israel.
And when the Lord saw her, (the text saith), he had compassion on her, and said unto her, Weep not. None moved him on the behalf of the widow, neither do we read that she herself spake to him; only our Saviour’s bowels were moved at the sight of her sorrow, and consideration of her loss. It is observable that our Saviour wrought his healing miracles:
1. Sometimes at the motion and desire of the parties to be healed.
2. Sometimes at the desires of others on their behalf.
3. Sometimes of his own free motion, neither themselves nor others soliciting him for any such act of mercy toward them;
and that in the three first miracles, (of which Matthew and Luke give us an account here and Matthew 8:1-34), which he wrought after his famous sermon on the mount, he gave us an instance of all these, in his healing of the leper personally beseeching him, of the centurion’s servant at the entreaty of the elders of the Jews, and of the widow’s son here, upon his sight of the woman’s affliction, none soliciting him. Thereby showing us that we ought not to stay our hand from doing good when we have proper objects and opportunities before us, until we be importuned and solicited there unto. Christ saying to her,
Weep not, forbade not the natural expression of her passion, but signified a sudden and not expected resurrection, so as she should not weep without hope. This said, he cometh and toucheth the bier, or the coffin, and saith not, Young man, in the name of God, I say unto thee, Arise; but,
Young man, I say unto thee, Arise; thereby declaring to them (would they have understood it) that he was the Son of God, and while he was on earth had a power in and from himself by the word of his mouth to command the dead to arise. His word was effective, and to evidence it, it is said, that
he that was dead sat up, so as all might take notice of the miracle,
and began to speak. And he delivered him to his mother; to let him know his duty to be subject to her, and the jurisdiction she had over him.
The people here saw the Divine power manifestly exerted; for the keys of the clouds, the womb, and the grave, are three keys, which their teachers had taught them were kept in God’s hand alone. All sense of the Divine presence naturally fills us with fear. Some, even the worst of men, are filled with a stupid fear of astonishment and amazement. Pious persons, or those that are inclined to piety, are filled with a fear of reverence; such a fear we read of, Luke 1:65. Such was this; for it issued in a predication of the name of God, and a giving to him praise and glory; for that a great Prophet was risen amongst them. Thus far God blessed this miracle, to make them look upon Christ as a Prophet, a great Prophet; and to look upon God’s act in his sending him as an act of great kindness to the Jews, for that is here plainly understood by them, saying,
God hath visited his people, as before, Luke 1:68; and this rumour was spread abroad throughout all that country.
See Poole on "Matthew 11:2", and following verses to Matthew 11:6.
See Poole on "Matthew 11:7", and following verses to Matthew 11:15, where we met with this testimony concerning John, given by our Saviour, with some considerable enlargements.
Matthew hath not this addition to our Saviour’s commendation of John, but it is of great use to introduce our Saviour’s following discourse. The evangelist here divideth the hearers into two sorts.
The first were the common people and the publicans; the former were despised by the Jewish doctors and rabbis, as a rude, illiterate sort of people; the latter, as a notoriously wicked sort.
The second sort were the Pharisees and the lawyers; of the former, he saith, that they,
being baptized with the baptism of John, justified God, that is, they owned, and publicly declared, and predicated the goodness and justice of God; they approved of what God had done, and blessed his name for sending amongst them such a prophet as John was, they owned and received him, and were baptized by him. Whoso believeth the message which God sendeth, and obeyeth it, he justifieth God; he that doth not, accuses and condemneth God: see John 3:33; 1 John 5:10.
But the Pharisees and lawyers, that is, the scribes; not the scribes of the people, (they were but actuaries, or public notaries), but the scribes of the law, whose office it was to interpret and give the sense of the law.
These rejected; — the word sometimes signifies to despise, Luke 10:16; 1 Thessalonians 4:8; Hebrews 10:28; sometimes to disannul, as Galatians 3:15; sometimes to reject, as Mark 6:26; Mark 7:9. It is here interpreted by those words, being not baptized of him. We must understand the sense of ηθετησαν by considering what is here meant by βουλην του Yεου, the counsel of God, which some will understand concerning the purpose of God within himself; others, concerning his revealed will, his counsel as revealed to us. The matter seemeth to me but a strife about a word, which is sometimes taken in one sense, sometimes in another. The will of God is but one, only as every one of us keep some part of our mind to ourselves, and reveal other parts of it to our servants and children; so God, who hath determined and willed all events, concealeth some part of it from his creatures, and revealeth another part of it to them. It is the will of God that this, and that, and the other person should believe and be saved. He revealeth as to this thus much of his will, that whose believers shall be saved; but for that other part of his will, that this, and that, or the other man shall believe, this he concealeth, till he gives them a power to believe, and to receive the gospel, and then his will in this particular is revealed. Supposing then we here understand by βουλην του θεου, God’s secret purpose to be understood, how is it proved that it must be understood of his secret purpose for their salvation? Why should it not be understood of the secret purpose and counsel of God to give them the means of life and salvation? God from all eternity purposed to give the Jews the ministry of John the Baptist and Christ, as means for their salvation, not which should be certainly effective of it, but that should have such a tendency towards it as without their own refusing, and opposing them, it should have been effective, and was in their own nature a proper means in order to it: they reject and refuse it; by this they rejected the counsel of God, the effect of his counsel, and so judged themselves unworthy of eternal life, by neglecting, despising, and rejecting the use of that means, which was the product of an eternal purpose to send them such means.
This counsel of God is said to be rejected towards or against themselves: take it as God’s act, it was towards themselves, that is, for their good; if we refer it to their act of rejection, or refusal, it was against themselves, a judging of themselves unworthy of eternal life. We cannot in this place translate it disannul, or frustrate, as Galatians 3:15, understanding it as to the Divine act; for who can frustrate or disannul the will or purpose of man, as to an act of his own, within his power to purpose? Though indeed as to the event it may be disannulled, as to any good effect as to another, if it be made to depend upon the action of another.
Besides, what need any further explication of this phrase, of rejecting the counsel of God against themselves, than what followeth, being not baptized of him, that is, not receiving John’s doctrine of repentance for the remission of sins, and bringing forth fruits worthy of amendment of life, nor submitting to baptism as a testimony of such repentance; for the baptism of John in Scripture signifieth his whole administration, the doctrine he preached, as well as the ordinance of baptism by him administered; and so must be interpreted where our Saviour asked the Pharisees whether John’s baptism was from earth or from heaven, and they durst not say from heaven, lest Christ should have asked them, why then they believed him not? They were not baptized of him, is the same thing with, They would be none of his disciples.
See Poole on "Matthew 11:16" and following verses to Matthew 11:19, where we have this smart reflection upon the scribes and Pharisees, and the generality of the Jews. They were neither pleased full nor fasting, but censorious of the different manner of living of John and Christ. John showed a more austere and severe humour, and lived like a recluse: you had nothing else to say; you said he had a devil. I have chosen not a less innocent, but a more free converse with men of all sorts, and eat and drink as other men; of me you say that I am a wine bibber, a glutton, a friend of publicans and sinners. Such was their perverseness, that proceeded from their enmity to the doctrine of John and Christ.
This was no small civility from a Pharisee, for the Pharisees were of all others, in the generality of them, the most desperate and implacable enemies of our Saviour. But God hath his number amongst all nations, and all sorts and orders of men. Our Saviour, as was said before, was of a free and open converse, and never refused any opportunity offered him to do good. We may soberly eat and drink with sinners pursuing such designs.
What hath made any interpreters imagine this was the some story which is mentioned Matthew 26:6-13; Mark 14:3-9; John 12:1-3, I cannot tell. The histories agree scarcely in any thing, unless in the bringing the alabaster box of ointment, and the anointing our Saviour’s feet, whereas there was nothing in those countries more ordinary. That anointing was done in Bethany, within two miles of Jerusalem, this in Galilee. That in the house of one Simon the leper this in the house of one Simon a Pharisee. That a little, this a great while, before our Saviour’s passion. At that Judas was offended, at this Simon the Pharisee was offended. There Christ vindicates the woman from one head of argument, here from another. Questionless this is another quite different piece of history.
And, behold, a woman in the city, which was a sinner; that is, a remarkable sinner; it is a word generally so used, and, applied to women, signifies a prostitute, or at least one of an ill report as to chastity.
Was, refers here to the time past, though lately past; she had lately been infamous and notorious, but it appeareth by what followeth that she was not so now, otherwise than in the opinion and vogue of the people; according to whose opinion, though uncharitable enough, Quae semel fuit mala, semper praesumitur esse mala in eodem genere mali, A person who hath once been bad is always presumed so to be, through their ignorance of the power of Divine grace in changing the heart, or their malice against and envy towards those whose hearts they see so changed. But whatever this woman had been, it seems God had affected her heart with the word which Christ had preached, and filled it with the pure love of God and Christ, instead of its former fullness of impure love, and made her sins as bitter as they had been formerly pleasant to her.
She hearing Christ was eating meat at the house of Simon the Pharisee, makes no noise, but cometh behind him, bringing an alabaster box of ointment, and stood at his feet behind him weeping, and began to wash his feet with her tears, and did wipe them with the hairs of her head, and kissed his feet, and anointed them with the ointment. Weeping in the sense of her sins, and so plentifully as she washed the feet of Christ with her tears, spoke a broken and a contrite heart. Wiping them with her hair; her hair, with which she had offended through wantonness, plaiting it, and adorning herself by the dress of it to allure her lovers, she now useth to testify her abhorrence of her former courses.
And kissed his feet, and anointed them with the ointment. The kiss is a symbol of love, and not of love only, but of subjection and worship; by this she both showed her love to Christ, and also her subjection to him, she kissed Christ in the psalmist’s sense, Psalms 2:12. It was not a kiss of love only, but of reverence and subjection, like Joseph’s kiss to Jacob, Genesis 50:1, Moses’s kiss to Jethro, Exodus 18:7; nay, of the highest reverence, for such was the kiss of the feet. And to testify her adoration of him: thus the idolaters kissed the calves, Hosea 13:2, and Baal. 1 Kings 19:18. Washing and anointing with oil, was a common compliment they used in those countries for cleansing and cooling the feet. She had been a great sinner, she now shows the profoundest sorrow, greatest love, humility, subjection, &c. But some may say, How could she come behind him, sitting at meat, and do this? While we sit at meat our feet are before us. This confirmeth the notion I mentioned before, in my notes on Matthew 26:20, concerning the Jewish manner of sitting at meat, which was kneeling and resting their bodies upon their legs leaning backwards: admitting that, all that we here read of this woman was very easy; for his legs being thrust out backward, the soles of his feet were turned up, and she might with convenience enough come at them behind him to wash, and to wipe, and to anoint them, which it is hard to conceive how she could do, admitting him to have sat as we do, putting our feet forward under the table.
How easily are persons (though seemingly well inclined and fair) offended, who have not the love of God rooted and grounded in their hearts! Did then all men who were prophets know persons at first sight?
1. It is certain they knew no more of people’s hearts and lives than God was pleased to reveal to them, or they knew by converse with them, and observation of them.
2. Suppose she had been a sinner, might she not be a convert now? And did not her behaviour toward Christ (before mentioned) witness a change in her?
3. Admit she had been yet such a sinner, yet might not she touch Christ?
This was indeed a Pharisaical error, that all not of their own religion, and all persons notorious for some sins, were in the same order as lepers, and other persons that were Levitically or legally unclean, so as none might touch them, but that contact made them also unclean. It is said also of the Samaritans, that when they met a Jew, or a Christian, they would first call out to him, Do not touch me. That there was of old such a party amongst the Jews that cried, Stand by thyself, come not near to me, for I am holier than thou, is plain from Isaiah 65:5.
Our Saviour treats his host civilly, but yet letteth him know, that he both knew his heart, and the heart of this poor woman, whom he had so uncharitably reflected upon.
Simon spake within himself, Luke 7:39. Christ lets him know that he knew the thoughts of his heart.
I have (saith he) somewhat to say unto thee. So he civilly obtaineth leave of him to speak.
Simon saith, Master, say on. Our Saviour tells him: There was a certain creditor, & c. It is obvious by our Saviour’s application of this parable, Luke 7:44-47, that he whom Christ here intends under the notion of a creditor is God; that one of the debtors that did owe five hundred pence (that is, a great sum) was this woman: whether Simon were intended by the other, or no, is not easily determined; but admit the other was ο δεινα, any one that was a sinner, but not so notorious a sinner, God forgives freely both the one and the other. Christ asks which would love most. Simon tells him, that debtor to whom most was forgiven. Christ tells him that he had judged rightly. Whence observe:
1. That as all sins, so all sinners, are not equal in the sight of God; all are guilty, but there are degrees in guilt.
2. That be men’s sins less or greater, fewer or more, those who have least will stand in need of pardoning mercy and forgiveness.
3. That God is free in the forgiveness of all sins, be they few or more; he frankly forgave them both.
4. That Christ first speaketh of these two debtors as being forgiven, then of their loving much, and of their being forgiven as the cause of their loving much.
5. That much love will follow a great forgiveness; a great sinner (one, I mean, who hath been so) will hardly ever be able to satisfy himself that his much is forgiven, if he doth not find his heart very warm with love to God.
6. A true love to God and Christ will be seen in all acts, which may be demonstrative or declarative of it. Christ turns to the woman, and saith to Simon, &c. Kissing, washing of feet, anointing with oil, were usual compliments of those countries, by which men showed their respects and kindness to strangers and friends.
For washing of feet, see Genesis 18:4; Genesis 19:2; Judges 19:21; 1 Samuel 25:41; 1 Timothy 5:10. For anointing with oil, see Psalms 23:5; Psalms 45:7. This woman had exceeded the usual kindness and civility of the country toward Christ: they were wont to bring their friends water to wash their feet, and possibly a piece of linen to wipe them; she washes his feet with her tears, and drieth them with her hair. They used to anoint the head of their friends with oil, she anoints his feet. They used to kiss one another’s cheeks or lips, she kisses his feet. They kissed their friends once, she ceased not to kiss his feet. Upon this Christ, who before had forgiven her, declareth her to be forgiven, first in the hearing of Simon, then he doubles his words unto her. He had told Simon before that the creditor had frankly forgiven them both; his adding here, Her sins, which are many, sufficiently evidences that it was she whom he intended by the debtor who owed much. Hence we may judge how little ground the papists have to urge this place to prove, that remission of sins is procured by our own merits and satisfactions. Love here is not mentioned as the cause, but as the effect of the remission of sins; and that which our Saviour here designed to instruct Simon in, was,
1. That whatsoever this woman had been, she was not now such a notorious sinner as he fancied; her sins were forgiven.
2. That God having thus favoured her with the grace of remission, had also kindled in her heart a love towards him.
3. That this love wrought in her heart in some proportion to that love which God had magnified upon her, therefore she loved much.
4. That men and women’s love to God and Christ, will and ought to be according to that love which they have received from Christ.
5. That much love to God will bring a great sense of God’s love to the soul, John 14:21.
The particle οτι, which we translate because, doth not always in Scripture signify the cause, but may be translated therefore, or, for what cause: see John 14:17, Ye know him; for he dwelleth in you: the Spirit’s abiding in believers is not the cause of their knowing of him, but the effect of it, so that for, in that place, is as much as therefore. So in Mark 9:28, οτι is as much as for what cause, or, for what reason? We translate it, Why could not we cast him out? So here, her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for which cause, or reason, she loveth much.
These were either the Pharisees, who thought that Christ blasphemed in arrogating to himself such a power as belonged to God alone; or the others, who speak this rather in admiration; but it is probable the former are here meant.
Thy believing in me as he who have power on earth to forgive sins, and accordingly making application to me, and this thy faith working by love, Galatians 5:6, producing in thee this hearty sorrow for thy sins, a subjection unto me, and such testifications of thy love as thou art able to make, hath been an instrumental cause of that salvation, which floweth from me as the principal cause, Romans 6:23. We have such another expression in Matthew 9:22; Mark 5:34; though the saving here mentioned be much more excellent than that there spoken of. Faith is profitable both for the good things of this life, and those of the life which is to come; and with reference to both, salvation is ascribed to faith, as the instrumental cause, not to obedience and love, though the faith that doth us good must work by love, and be evidenced by a holy conversation.
Go in peace, is a phrase which was the usual valediction among the Jews, as much as our Farewell, or God be with you, they under the term of peace comprehending all good; but when we consider who it is that speaketh, and what immediately preceded, we have reason to think this was a more than ordinary compliment or farewell, even as much as is comprehended under the term peace, which, as I before said, is all good, but more especially that peace mentioned by the apostle, Romans 5:1, as an effect of faith. Go thy way a blessed and happy woman, and in the view and sense of thy own blessedness, and be not troubled at the censures and reflections of supercilious persons, who may despise or overlook thee because thou hast been a great sinner. God hath pardoned thy sins, and this I assure thee of; only take heed to keep and maintain that peace.
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Luke 7". Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 8 / Ordinary 13