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the Week of Proper 21 / Ordinary 26
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Luke 9

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

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Luke 9:1-6 Christ sendeth his apostles to work miracles and preach the gospel.

Luke 9:7-9 Herod desireth to see him.

Luke 9:10,Luke 9:11 The apostles return.

Luke 9:12-17 Christ feedeth five thousand men with five loaves and two fishes.

Luke 9:18-22 The different opinions concerning Christ; Peter’s confession of him: Christ foretells his own death and resurrection.

Luke 9:23-27 He showeth his followers the necessity of self denial, and that they must not be ashamed of owning his gospel.

Luke 9:28-36 He is transfigured,

Luke 9:37-42 healeth a demoniac,

Luke 9:43-45 again foreshoweth his sufferings,

Luke 9:46-48 checks the ambitious disputes of his disciples,

Luke 9:49,Luke 9:50 will not have them forbid any one to work miracles in his name,

Luke 9:51-56 reproveth the fiery zeal of James and John against the Samaritans who would not receive him,

Luke 9:57-62 and proposes terms to three persons who offer to follow him.

Verses 1-6

We have heard of the choosing of these twelve disciples, and their names, Luke 6:13-16; Mark 3:14-19. Our Saviour chose them to be with him, to learn of him, and to be instructed by him, and to be witnesses of what he said and did; after some time thus spent, he sends them forth to preach the gospel, and giveth them a power to confirm the doctrine which they preached, by several miraculous operations. Matthew takes no notice of their election, only of their mission. Both Mark and Luke take notice of both. Luke 9:3-6 give us an account of the instructions he gave them; we met with them all before, and a more full account of them,

See Poole on "Matthew 10:1" and following verses to Matthew 10:42. See Poole on "Mark 6:7" and following verses to Mark 6:11.

Verses 7-9

This Herod was Herod Antipas, the tetrarch of Galilee, who had beheaded John the Baptist; he heareth of these great things done by Christ, and διηπορει, saith the evangelist; it is a word that signifieth a great disturbance, and perplexity of mind, when a man is in doubt and fear, and knoweth not what counsels to take or follow: it is used Luke 24:4; Acts 2:12; Acts 5:24; Acts 10:17. The other evangelists say Herod himself guessed it was John the Baptist, whom he had beheaded. Oh the power of a guilty conscience! He had murdered John, now he is afraid his ghost haunted him, or that his soul was entered into another body, that it might be revenged on him. Others guessed variously. Herod knoweth not what to think, but desireth to see Christ, possibly that he might make up some judgment about him, possibly out of mere curiosity. But we read not that he did see him until Pilate sent him to him after his examination of him, Luke 23:8.

Verses 10-11

The evangelists give us but a summary account of things. We read of the mission, or sending out, of the apostles, Luke 9:1. Here we read of their return, and giving their Lord an account of their discharge of the trust he had reposed in them. Being returned, our Saviour goeth with them into a place near Bethsaida, not much inhabited, and therefore called desert. He never wanted followers, nor a heart to receive them, and to take all opportunities to do them good. Many followed him; he receiveth them, and preacheth to them for the good of their souls, and healeth those amongst them that were sick, to teach us to join spiritual with bodily, and bodily with spiritual, alms. Spiritual alms, such as instruction, reproof, counsel, are as much better than those that relieve only bodily wants, as the soul is better than the body. Spiritual alms, without bodily relief, from such as are able to give them, are fittest for spiritual persons; carnal, ignorant people, that have no sense of spiritual things, must, like children, be allured into a good opinion of the things and ways of God by some bodily charity, and so taken by guile, and enticed to the knowledge of God.

Verses 12-17

The history of this miracle is recorded by all the four evangelists. See Poole on "Matthew 14:15", and following verses to Matthew 14:22, and See Poole on "Mark 6:35", and following verses to Mark 6:44. We shall again meet with it, John 6:5-14, with some further circumstances. Luke hath nothing but what we have before met with.

Verses 18-22

Matthew and Mark tell us this discourse passed at Caesarea Philippi (or at least one of the same import). Matthew also gives us an account of it with more circumstances. See Poole on "Matthew 16:13", and following verses to Matthew 16:23.

As he was alone praying; that is, free from the multitude, for the next words tell us, the

disciples were with him. (Luke 9:22) is not to be found in the other evangelists; and if Luke hath reported these words in the right order of time, they afford us a probable reason of what is said Luke 9:21, why Christ would not yet be published as the Christ, or the Son of God. Because he was to suffer, and it might much have shaken people’s faith, as to that point, if they had seen the person whom they believed such suffering, and to be so despitefully used as he was; he therefore desired to be concealed as to that, until he should be declared the Son of God with power, by his resurrection from the dead.

Verses 23-24

We have met with these words before, See Poole on "Matthew 16:24-25". See Poole on "Matthew 10:38-39". See Poole on "Mark 8:34-35".

Verse 25

See Poole on "Matthew 16:26", See Poole on "Mark 8:36".

Verses 26-27

See Poole on "Matthew 16:28" and See Poole on "Mark 9:1". Luke seems here to have recorded several sayings of our Saviour, spoken not all at the same time.

Verses 28-36

See Poole on "Matthew 17:1", and following verses to Matthew 17:9. See Poole on "Mark 9:2", and following verses to Mark 9:10.

Verses 37-45

See Poole on "Matthew 17:14", and following verses to Matthew 17:21. See Poole on "Mark 9:14", and following verses to Mark 9:29. Of the people’s astonishment and amazement at the sight of Christ’s miracles, we often hear much; of their embracing him as their Saviour, and owning him as the Christ, we read little. Thus far many of them were come, indeed the most, (the Scribes, and Pharisees, and Sadducees only excepted), that they believed Christ was a great Prophet, a man sent of God; authorized by God to reveal his will, and empowered from God to do many things, which none but God had originally a power to do. Others were gone a step further, viz. to believe not only that he was a Prophet, but that Prophet foretold by Moses, Deuteronomy 18:15; John 1:21,John 1:45; the Christ of God, as Peter expressed it, he that should redeem Israel, Luke 24:21. That they had not a true notion of the Messias, either as to his person, that the Divine and human nature were united in his person, or as to his work, that it was not to redeem Israel from their bodily servitude, but from their sins only, will appear to any from the whole history of the gospel. Nor indeed doth our Saviour hasten their faith in this revelation, I mean the perfecting and confirming of it, knowing that it would be a great shaking to their faith in him, in this notion, and indeed as the Messias, to see him so shamefully abused by the vilest abjects of the people, (as he was at his passion), and then hanging upon the cross, and dying, until they should also see him by his own power risen from the dead, and be confirmed concerning the truth of his resurrection. Where therefore he saw this seed of precious faith springing up, as it did in Peter and divers others, who it is plain apprehended him more than man, as he did not discourage nor blame it, but highly commended it; so neither did he please to strengthen it, so as to put them out of all doubt about it, and often charged them not to publish it abroad, and bends himself to prepare them against this great obstacle, which he saw would be in their way, to wit, his sufferings. This is the second time now that in this chapter we find him inculcating it. And there was need of it, for the evangelist telleth us that

they understood it not, it was hidden from them. They could easily understand how an ordinary prophet might be delivered into the hands of men, but how the Messias, the Christ, that Prophet, he of whom some of them believed that he was more than a mere man, how he should be thus delivered, thus suffer, they could not understand; and they saw Christ as to this point so reserved and private, and forbidding the publication of it, that they feared to be too particular with him about it.

Verses 46-48

See Poole on "Matthew 18:1", and following verses to Matthew 18:6. See Poole on "Mark 9:33", and following verses to Mark 9:37. This paragraph showeth what need there was of the preceding discourse, that our Saviour should prepare them with a preinforming them about his suffering, that when they saw it their faith in him as the Messiah might not fail; for they were possessed with the common notion of their country, that the Messiah should deliver them from the temporal pressures which they were under, and exercise a civil or military secular power; this made them think of places of priority and greatness, about which we often find them disputing. Our Lord, to bring them off that false notion of him and his kingdom, taketh a child, and setteth him before them, and saith, Whosoever shall receive this child, &c. What Luke saith must be interpreted by what we had before in Matthew and Mark. This child, that is, one that is as humble as this child, &c.: see the notes before mentioned.

Verses 49-50

Mark saith further, that Christ added, for there is no man, which shall do a miracle in my name, that can lightly speak evil of me: See Poole on "Mark 9:38", See Poole on "Mark 9:39".

Verse 51

From this to Luke 9:56 we have a piece of history recorded by no other evangelist but Luke; but is of great use to us, both to let us know, that our Saviour laid down his life, no man took it from him, and to let us see to what height differences about religion ordinarily arise, and what intemperateness is often found, as to them, in the spirits of the best of people, as also what is the will of our great Master as to the government of our spirits in such cases. The going up of our Saviour to Jerusalem at this time was his last journey thither.

When the time was come that he should be received up; ’ Eν τω συμπληρουσθαι τας ημερας της αναληψεως αυτου; that is, when the time was drawing nigh when Christ should ascend up into heaven; so the word is used, Mark 16:19; Acts 1:11; 1 Timothy 3:16. But why doth the evangelist express it thus? Why doth he not say, when he was to suffer; but skips over his death, and only mentions his ascension?

1. That is included; Christ was first to suffer, and then to enter into his glory.

2. Christ’s death is called a lifting up from the earth, John 12:32.

3. What if we should say that Christ’s death is thus expressed, to let us know that the death of Christ was to him a thing that his eye was not so much upon, as the glory which he immediately was to enter into after;

so as he calls his very death a taking up, as that which immediately preceded it, thereby teaching us to overlook sufferings and death, as not worthy to be named or mentioned, and to look only to that taking up into our Father’s glory, which is the portion of all believers; when they die, they are but taken up from the earth: and though our bodies still stay behind a while, death having a power over us, yet of them also there shall be a taking up. Upon both which takings up our eyes should be so fixed, as to overlook all the sufferings of this life, as not worthy to be named.

He stedfastly set his face to go to Jerusalem. Some think this was not our Saviour’s last motion thither before his passion, but then it would not have been said προσωπον εστηριξε, he set his face, or, he confirmed his face. He was now in Galilee, Jerusalem (that killed the prophets) was the place designed for his suffering; betwixt Galilee and Jerusalem lay Samaria, through which he was to pass.

Verses 52-53

The land of Canaan was by Joshua divided among all the twelve tribes of Israel, as we read in the book of Joshua, Joshua 14:1-15; Joshua 15:1-63; Joshua 16:1-10; Joshua 17:1-18 Saul, David, and Solomon (after the death of Joshua, the judges, and Samuel) ruled over them all; but Rehoboam the son of Solomon, following the counsel of the young men in his counsels, ten tribes revolted from the house of David, 1 Kings 12:16-19. Jeroboam brought them to idolatry, Luke 9:28,Luke 9:29, setting up calves at Dan and Bethel. So as that there was a perpetual difference between the Israelites and those that adhered to the house of David, both upon a civil and religious account. This held for about two hundred and sixty years. In the time of Hoshea, their last king, the king of Assyria, after a siege of three years, takes Samaria their head city. Of this we have an account, 2 Kings 17:6, as also of those sins which had provoked God to give them up into his hands. 2 Kings 17:24 we read that the king of Assyria brought men from Babylon, Cuthah, Ava, Hamath, and Sepharvaim, and placed them in the cities of Samaria instead of the children of Israel. He removed the most of the Jews, 2 Kings 17:6, and placed them in Halah and in Habor by the Driver of Gozan, and in the cities of the Medes. After this there were several mutations in the government of those countries. We must not imagine that all the Jews were carried away, but the chief and principal men; and we read in 2 Kings 17:1-41, that a priest was sent back to instruct the new colonies how to worship the God of the country; because the lions infesting them, they conceived their non acquaintance with the methods of worship used toward the God of that country was the cause of it, 2 Kings 17:26,2 Kings 17:27. But yet the people of the several nations brought thither worshipped their several idols, as may be read there, 2 Kings 17:29. After this, about a hundred and sixty years, these places came under the dominion of Cyrus, who gave the Jews a liberty to return, but it chiefly concerned those that belonged to the kingdom of Judah, for we read, Ezra 1:5, that they were the fathers of Judah and Benjamin that rose up to return. The Samaritans were their enemies as to the building of the temple, Ezra 4:4,Ezra 4:5. After this, they fell under the power, first of the Grecians, then of the Romans, under which they at this time were. This old feud, both upon the account of their former civil difference, and their difference in religion, still held, so as there was a great enmity (especially occasioned by their difference in religion) betwixt those who belonged to the tribes of Judah and Benjamin, and the Samaritans, who were indeed idolaters. The Jews (for so now were they only called who adhered to the house of David) had no dealings with them, John 4:9; though it be the opinion of some that there were common civilities between them, and that the rigidness lay on the Jewish part, rather than the Samaritans’. Galilee lay beyond Samaria, and it should seem was more generally inhabited by native Jews. The king of Assyria planted his colonies (it is probable) more in that which was now more strictly called Samaria, which lay in the heart of the land; which might be the reason that the inhabitants of that part now called Samaria were more absurd and gross in their worship than the inhabitants of Galilee, amongst whom Christ so long preached. From whence (as was before said) Christ going to Jerusalem to the feast was to pass. The Samaritans refused to receive him, which ordinarily, it is said, they did not to passengers, but possibly their knowing that he was going to the feast was the cause, or his attendants might be more than they liked. When we come to John 4:1-54 we shall hear more of the religious differences between the Jews and the Samaritans. This is enough to have at present noted.

Verse 54

The history of Elijah to which the disciples refer, is doubtless that, 2 Kings 1:10, where Elijah, not without direction from God, called fire from heaven to destroy those captains and their fifties which the king sent to take him.

Verses 55-56

The term spirit sometimes signifies, the inward motions, propensities, and inclinations of the soul, influenced either from the Holy Spirit of God, or from the evil spirit. So the term is used 2 Timothy 1:7. You do not (saith our Saviour) consider what kind of motions these are, which you indulge yourselves in. The case of Elijah and this case had three remarkable differences.

1. The people of Israel at that time had been in an apostasy but of few years comparatively to these Samaritans; they were fallen into it in the sight of the true worship of God, at that time upheld in Judah. They were not only stiff in it, but the king sends these captains to apprehend Elijah for declaring what God had commanded him to declare. These Samaritans were under the prejudices of antiquity, and prescription for many hundreds of years. Histories tell us, that the Samaritan temple, on Mount Gerizim, built in opposition to the temple at Jerusalem, was built by one Sanballat, Darius’s governor in those parts, to be revenged on the Jews for turning his son-in-law Manasseh from the priesthood at Jerusalem, which if it be true, the Samaritans had been fixed now in their false worship more than five hundred years. Nor were these that we read of any of the heads and rulers, but probably ordinary country people, rooted so long in this corrupt way, and doing this in zeal to their own temple on Mount Gerizim, and so inclined to show no favour to those who in any devotion were going to the opposite temple. Christ pitieth them under these prejudices, and though he doth not approve of their worship, yet he did not think that the way to change their minds was to call for fire from heaven against them, nor would he be so severe against them. It is not the will of God that we should approve of any corrupt worship, and join with those that use it; but neither is it his will that we should by fire and sword go about to suppress it, and bring men off from it. Antiquity, or the practice of our forefathers, is no sufficient plea to justify any worship. (It was the Samaritans’ plea, John 4:20) But yet where any such prejudice against the truth is, it calleth to us for mild and gentle behaviour towards such as are under those disadvantages for the receiving of the truth.

2. But, secondly, there was a difference in the call of Elijah. He was an extraordinary prophet, who did nothing of this nature but by an immediate impulse and direction; so as what he did was in zeal for God, guided by a knowledge of the will of God. The disciples had no such call.

3. The times differed; Elijah acted under the legal dispensation, which was more severe; they were under the more mild and gentle dispensation of the gospel. And in this question they did but indulge their passions, and sinful desire of revenge; therefore, saith our Saviour,

Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of. Our Saviour lets them know that they were under a more mild and gentle dispensation, by propounding his own example: The Son of man (saith he) came not to destroy men’s lives, but to save. The term translated lives signifieth also souls; but if we consider the apostles’ question, which was not whether they should call for fire from heaven to destroy their souls, but to destroy them as to their lives here, it will well enough justify our translators rendering it in this place lives. You see, saith our Saviour, by my healing the sick, raising the dead, &c., that my business is not to make my ministry ungrateful to men, by any ways prejudicing them in their outward concerns. If it were translated souls, it is yet a great truth: Christ came not to destroy men’s souls, but to bring the means of salvation and eternal happiness; if they reject these, and perish, their destruction is of themselves.

Verses 57-58

Matthew saith, Matthew 8:19, this man was a scribe. See Poole on "Matthew 8:19". Let those who have stately houses, and think them worth glorying in, or that they are things fit for men to value themselves upon, despising their poor brethren that want such accommodations of this life, digest this text.

Verses 59-60

See Poole on "Matthew 8:21". See Poole on "Matthew 8:22". How free is Divine grace! The scribe offers to follow Christ: Christ encourages him not. To another that made no such offer, he first speaketh, saying, Follow me, and will admit of no excuse.

Verses 61-62

Matthew (who mentioned the other two) mentions not this third person. Some doubt whether we well translate these words, αποταξασθαι τοις εις τον οικον μου, bid them at my house farewell; or whether it were not better translated, to order the things or persons relating to my house. Let it be translated either way, it signifies a too much worldliness of mind in this disciple, which our Saviour checks in the next words, saying,

No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, εις τα οπισω, to the things behind,

is fit for the kingdom of God. Some think it is an allusion to the story of Elisha’s call. 1 Kings 19:19,1 Kings 19:20. Elijah passing by him ploughing with twelve yoke of oxen before him, and he with the twelfth, cast his mantle upon him. And he left the oxen, and ran after Elijah, and said, Let me, I pray thee, kiss my father and my mother, and then I will follow thee. Be that as it will, here is a plain allusion to the work of a ploughman, and a comparing of a minister of the gospel in his duty with the ploughman in his work. The ploughman is obliged to look forward to his work, or he will never draw his furrows either straight enough, or of a just depth; so must a minister of the gospel: if he be once called out of secular employments to the service of God in the ministry, he is bound to mind and attend that; that is enough to take up the whole man, and his whole strength and time, he had need of no other things to mind or look after, the things of the world are things behind him. Not that God debars his ministers (in case of exigence) to work for their bread with their hands, as Paul did; but they ought not, without apparent necessity, to entangle themselves with the things of this life, so as to make them their business.

Bibliographical Information
Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Luke 9". Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/mpc/luke-9.html. 1685.
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