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Tuesday, July 23rd, 2024
the Week of Proper 11 / Ordinary 16
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Bible Commentaries
Luke 13

McGarvey's Commentaries on Selected BooksMcGarvey'S Commentaries

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Verses 1-9

cLUKE XIII. 1-9.

c1 Now there were some present at that very season [At the time when he preached about the signs of the times, etc. This phrase, however, is rather indefinite-- Matthew 12:1, Matthew 14:1] who told him of the Galilaeans, whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. 2 And he answered and said unto them, Think ye that these Galilaeans were sinners above all the Galilaeans, because they have suffered these things? 3 I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all in like manner perish. [While Jesus spoke, certain ones came to him bearing the news of a barbaric act of sacrilegious cruelty committed by Pilate. It may have been told to Jesus by enemies who hoped to ensnare him by drawing from him a criticism of Pilate. But it seems more likely that it was told to him as a sample of the corruption and iniquity of the times. The Jews ascribed extraordinary misfortunes to extraordinary criminality. Sacrifice was intended to cleanse guilt. How hopeless, therefore, must their guilt be who were punished at the very times when they should have been cleansed! But the Jews erred in this interpreting the event. Quantity of individual sin can not safely be inferred from the measure of individual misfortune. It was true that the Galilæans suffered because of sin, for all suffering is the result of sin. But it was not true that the suffering was punishment for unusual sinfulness. Our suffering is often due to the general sin of humanity--the sin of the whole associate body of which we are a part. History, of course, says nothing of Pilate’s act here mentioned. Pilate’s rule was marked by cruelty towards Jews, and contempt for their religious views and rites.] 4 Or those eighteen, upon whom the tower in Siloam fell, and killed [326] them, think ye that they were offenders above all the men that dwell in Jerusalem? 5 I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish. [Of this instance, also, there is no other historic mention. It, too was a small incident among the accidents of the day. The pool of Siloam lies near the southeast corner of Jerusalem, at the entrance of the Tyropæan village which runs up between Mt. Zion and Moriah. The modern village of Siloam probably did not exist at that time. What tower this was is not known. As the city wall ran through the district of that fountain, it may possibly have been one of the turrets of that wall. This instance presents a striking contrast to the slaughter of which they had told him, for it was, 1. Inflicted upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem; and 2. It came upon them as an act of God. And Jesus therefore concludes that all shall likewise perish, he pronounces upon the entire people--Jews and Galilæan alike--a punishment made certain by the decree of God. It is significant that the Jewish people did, as a nation, perish and lie buried under the falling walls of their cities, and the debris of their temple, palaces, and houses. But the word "likewise" is not to be pressed to cover this fact.] 6 And he spake this parable [this parable is closely connected with Luke 13:3, Luke 13:5, and Luke 12:58, Luke 12:59]; A certain man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard; and he came seeking fruit thereon, and found none. 7 And he said unto the vinedresser, Behold, these three years I come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and find none: cut it down; why doth it also cumber the ground? [It cumbered the ground by occupying ground which the vines should have had, and by interfering with their light by its shade, which is very dense.] 8 And he answering saith unto him, Lord, let it alone this year also, till I shall dig about it, and dung it [a common method of treating the fig-tree to induce fruitfulness]: 9 and if it bear fruit henceforth, well: and if not, thou shalt cut it down. [In this parable Jesus likened his hearers to a fig-tree planted in a choice place--a vineyard, [327] the odd corners of which are still used as advantageous spots for fig-trees. There is no emphasis on the number three, and no allusion to the national history of the Jews, as some suppose. It simply means that a fig-tree’s failure to bear fruit for three years would justify its being cut down. Those to whom Jesus spoke had been called to repentance by the preaching both of John and of Jesus, and had had ample time and opportunity to bring forth the fruits of repentance, and deserved to be destroyed; but they would still be allowed further opportunity.]

[FFG 326-328]

Verses 10-21

(Probably Peræa.)
cLUKE XIII. 10-21.

c10 And he was teaching in one of the synagogues on the sabbath day. [Our Lord’s habit of teaching in the synagogue, which had been for some time interrupted by his retirement, had probably been revived during the mission of the seventy.] 11 And behold, a woman that had a spirit of infirmity eighteen years; and she was bowed together, and could in no wise lift herself up. [The use of the word "spirit" in this verse indicates that the curvature of the spine which afflicted this woman was attributed to demoniacal agency.] 12 And when Jesus saw her, he called her, and said to her, Woman, thou art loosed from thine infirmity. 13 And he laid his hands upon her: and immediately she was made straight, and glorified God. 14 And the ruler of the synagogue, being moved with indignation because Jesus had healed on the sabbath, answered and said to the multitude, There are six days [quite enough] in which men ought to work: in them therefore come and be healed, and not on the day of the sabbath. [There is not evidence that the woman came with any intention of being healed, nor was the ruler angry at her, but at Jesus. Too cowardly to openly rebuke Jesus, the ruler fell to reprimanding the people, and thus indirectly censuring the Lord.] 15 But the Lord answered him, and said, Ye hypocrites, doth not each one of you on the sabbath loose his ox or his ass from the stall, and lead him away to watering? [The word "hypocrite" was among the strongest ever used by our Lord. He here applies it to the whole class [482] to whom the ruler belonged and for whom he was the spokesman--the class who are mentioned as "adversaries" in Luke 13:17. Their hypocrisy appears in two ways: 1. They were disguising their hatred toward Christ under a pretended zeal for the Sabbath. 2. Their zeal for the Sabbath was at no time sincere, for they favored indulgence where their own interests were involved, but applied their Sabbath rules sharply where others were concerned. It was their tradition and not the Sabbath which Jesus had broken, and he here attempts no other justification of himself than to show that he is guiltless under a fair application of their own precedents.] 16 And ought not this woman, being a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan had bound, lo, these eighteen years, to have been loosed from this bond on the day of the sabbath? [Taking their own conduct on the Sabbath day as the basis for his justification, Jesus presents three contrasts, each of which made his action better than theirs: 1. He had blessed the woman instead of an ox. 2. He had loosed from a disease instead of from a comfortable stall. 3. He had relieved a waiting of eighteen years’ standing instead of one of some few hours’ duration--the brief time since the watering of the morning. He mentions the woman’s descent from Abraham because, according to their ideas, it made her worthy of every consideration. In attributing the infirmity to Satan he acknowledges the action of the demon as Satan’s agent. Disease were not infrequently ascribed to Satan and the demons-- Acts 10:38, 2 Corinthians 12:7.] 17 And as he said these things, all his adversaries were put to shame: and all the multitude rejoiced for all the glorious things that were done by him. [The people rejoiced not only in the miracle, but in that wisdom which silenced the narrow-minded rulers. The triumph which they rejoiced in was but a slight foretaste of the victories to come, and to point out the nature of those victories the Lord spoke the two parables which follow.] 18 He said therefore, Unto what is the kingdom of God like? and whereunto shall I liken it? 19 It is like unto a grain of [483] mustard seed, which a man took, and cast into his own garden; and it grew, and became a tree; and the birds of the heaven lodged in the branches thereof. 20 And again he said, Whereunto shall I liken the kingdom of God? 21 It is like unto leaven, which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal, till it was all leavened. [For comment, see pp. 337, 338.]

[FFG 482-484]

Verses 22-35

cLUKE XIII. 22-35.

c22 And he went on his way through cities and villages, teaching, and journeying on unto Jerusalem. [This verse probably refers back to Luke 13:10, and indicates that Jesus resumed his journey after the brief rest on the Sabbath day when he healed the woman with the curvature of the spine.] 23 And one said unto him, Lord, are they few that are saved? [It is likely that this question was asked by a Jew, and that the two parables illustrating the smallness of the kingdom’s beginning suggested it to him. The Jews extended their exclusive spirit even to their ideals of a world to come, so that they believed none but the chosen race would behold its glories. The circumstances attending to the conversion of Cornelius, recorded in Acts, show how this exclusiveness survived even among Jewish Christians. The questioner wished Jesus to commit himself to this narrow Jewish spirit, or else to take a position which would subject him to the charge of being unpatriotic.] And he said unto them, 24 Strive [literally, agonize] to enter in by the narrow door: for many, I say unto [488] you, shall seek to enter in, and shall not be able. [Jesus answers that many shall be excluded from the kingdom, and that the questioner, and all others who hear, need to exercise themselves and give the matter their own personal attention lest they be among that many. The passage should be compared with that in Matthew, Matthew 19:30, Matthew 20:10), to be interpreted by such passages as Matthew 21:31, Romans 9:30, Romans 9:31. The Jew who thought the Gentile had no hope at all, and that he himself was sure of salvation, would be surprised to find that his opinion was the very reverse of the real fact as time developed it.] 31 In that very hour there came certain Pharisees, saying to him, Get thee out, and go hence: for Herod would fain kill thee. [This shows that Jesus was in the territory of Herod Antipas, and hence probably in Peræa. The Pharisees, no doubt, wished to scare Jesus that they might exult over his fright. We might suppose, too, that their words were untrue, were it not that Jesus sends a reply to Herod. Herod long desired to see Jesus ( Luke 9:9, Luke 23:8), but it was not likely that he desired to put him to death. He was, doubtless, glad enough to get Jesus out of his territory, lest he might foment an uprising, and to this end he employed this strategy of sending messengers to warn Jesus under the guise of friendship.] 32 And he said unto them, Go and say to that fox [i.e., say to that crafty, sly fellow. The fox is a type of craftiness and treachery. We have no other instance where Jesus used such a contemptuous expression; but Herod richly merited it. An Idumæan by his father, a Samaritan by his mother, a Jew by profession, and a heathen by practice, he had need to be foxy by nature. And he was even now playing the fox by sending these messengers], Behold, I cast out demons and perform cures to-day and to-morrow, and the third day I am perfected. 33 Nevertheless [although I know what lies before me] I must go on my way to-day and to-morrow and the day following: for [490] it cannot be that a prophet perish out of Jerusalem. [Wieseler, Meyer, Alford, and other able commentators think that the days mentioned in this difficult passage are literal days. If the language is to be thus construed, the saying amounts to a promise to leave Herod’s territory in three days. Such construction, however, is not consistent with the elevation of the sentiment and the solemnity of its repetition. Three days are thus sometimes used proverbially to designate a short time ( Hosea 6:2), and they are unquestionably so used here. The meaning then is this: "For a little while I liberate and heal and abide in your territory to disturb your peace. But in a few days I shall be perfected in my office as a liberator and healer, after which I shall be seen no more in your territory. And though I understand these plots against me, I must fill up my time and go on my course till I suffer martyrdom at Jerusalem, which has the gruesome honor of being the prophet-slaying city." This word "perfected" in this passage finds its complement in the "It is finished" of John 19:30. Both the verbs are derived from the Greek word telos, which means end or completion. Compare also 2 Corinthians 12:9, Philippians 3:12, Hebrews 2:10, Hebrews 5:8, Hebrews 5:9, Hebrews 11:40. John the Baptist having perished at Machærus in Peræa is regarded as an exception to this rule and the prophets die at Jerusalem. The exception does not disprove the rule, if it be a true exception; which may be questioned, since John died at the hands of Herod and Herodias, neither of whom were, properly speaking Jews. John, therefore, died as a prophet to foreigners rather than as a prophet to the Jewish people.] 34 O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, that killeth the prophets, and stoneth them that are sent unto her! how often would I have gathered thy children [inhabitants] together, even as a hen gathereth her own brood under her wings, and ye would not! [Jesus repeated these words again as recorded in Matthew 23:37-39. With such beautiful imagery does Jesus set forth his tender love for the people of that city which he knew would soon compass his death.] 35 Behold, your house [temple] is left unto [491] you desolate [he was about to withdraw from the temple, which for centuries to come was to be visited by no heavenly messenger whatever]: and I say unto you, Ye shall not see me, until ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord. [It is hardly possible that these words can refer to the triumphal entry for their fulfillment ( Matthew 21:9). The use of them on that occasion may have had no reference to his prediction. They undoubtedly refer to the Parousia, or second coming of the Lord in his glory, before which time the Jews must turn and believe ( Romans 11:25-27). Not until they were thus prepared would they again see him without whom they were now rejecting.]

[FFG 488-492]

Bibliographical Information
McGarvey, J. W. "Commentary on Luke 13". "J. W. McGarvey's Original Commentary on Acts". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/oca/luke-13.html. Transylvania Printing and Publishing Co. Lexington, KY. 1872.
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