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Bible Commentaries

Benson's Commentary of the Old and New Testaments

Luke 10

A.M. 4036. A.D. 32.

In this chapter we have,

(1,) The ample commission which Christ gave to seventy of his disciples to preach the gospel and confirm it by miracles; and the full instructions he gave them how to conduct themselves in the execution of their commissions, and great encouragement therein, Luke 10:1-16 .

(2,) The account which the seventy disciples gave to their Master of the success of their ministry, and his discourse thereupon, Luke 10:17-24 .

(3,) His discourse with a lawyer concerning the way to heaven, and the instructions Christ gave him by a parable to look upon every one as his neighbour, whom he had occasion to show kindness to, or receive kindness from, Luke 10:25-37 .

(4,) Christ’s entertainment at the house of Lazarus; the reproof he gave Martha for her anxious care about worldly things, and his commendation of Mary for her care about the salvation of her soul, Luke 10:38-42 .

Verse 1

Luke 10:1. The Lord appointed other seventy also Or rather, seventy others, as ετερους εβδομηκοντα , should certainly be translated; for the expression, other seventy, implies that seventy had been sent before, which certainly was not the fact, (those sent before being no more than twelve,) nor is it implied in the Greek. So inconsiderable a difference in the words makes a great alteration in the sense. “The scene of Christ’s ministry being, from this time forth, to lie in Judea, and the country beyond Jordan, it was expedient that his way should be prepared in every city and village of those countries whither he was to come. He therefore sent out seventy of his disciples on this work, mentioning the particular places which he intended to visit, and in which they were to preach; whereas, the twelve had been allowed to go where they pleased, provided they confined their ministry to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” Luke is the only evangelist who has given us this account of Christ’s sending out the seventy; and it is the less to be wondered at, that he should do it so particularly, if the ancient tradition be true, which Origen and Epiphanius have mentioned, that he was himself one of the number. It is remarkable that our Lord assigns the same reason for the mission of the seventy which he had assigned for the mission of the twelve disciples. The harvest was plenteous in Judea and Perea, as well as in Galilee, and the labourers there also were few. Hence his exhortation, Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest that he would send forth (Greek, εκβαλλη , thrust out) labourers. For God alone can do this: he alone can qualify and commission men for this work, and incline them to undertake it.

Verses 3-4

Luke 10:3-4. I send you forth as lambs, &c. As so many defenceless lambs, in the midst of ravenous and cruel wolves. Carry neither purse nor scrip, &c. See notes on Matthew 10:9-10; Matthew 10:16. Salute no man by the way Let not matters of mere compliment detain you, but make all the haste you possibly can. The salutations usual among the Jews took up much time. But these had so much work to do in so short a space, that they had not a moment to spare.

Verses 5-6

Luke 10:5-6. Into whatsoever house ye enter, &c. They are supposed to enter into private houses; for, not being admitted into the synagogues, they were forced to preach where they could have liberty. First say, Peace be to this house To all under this roof, to this family, and all that belong to it. As if he had said, In all the stages of your journey, carry along with you those benevolent affections which are so well suited to the design of your mission. Peace be to you, was the common form of salutation among the Jews. They must not use it in formality, and according to custom, to those they meet on the way; but they must use it with solemnity and seriousness to those into whose houses they entered. And if the son of peace Or any truly pious man who is worthy of such a blessing; be there In the house; your peace shall rest upon it Your prayer for the peace and prosperity of the family shall be heard and answered. Or, the blessing which you gave at your entrance, shall, by my power, be made effectual to that house, and shall remain with it. If not, it shall turn, &c. You will meet with some that are not disposed to hear or regard your message; even whole houses that have not one son of peace in them. Now it is certain your peace shall not come upon them; they shall have no part nor lot in the matter: the blessing that shall rest upon the sons of peace shall never come upon the sons of Belial; nor can any expect the privileges of the covenant of grace that will not come under the bonds of it; but it shall turn to you again You shall have the comfort of having discharged your trust, and done your duty to God.

Verses 7-9

Luke 10:7-9. And in the same house remain As long as you stay in the town or village: eating and drinking Cheerfully and contentedly; such things as they give Neither suspect your being welcome, nor be afraid of being troublesome; for the labourer In the work of the ministry, if he be indeed a labourer; is worthy of his hire It is not an act of charity, but of justice, in them who are taught in the Word, to communicate to them that teach: and whatever kindness they show you, it is but a small return for the kindness you do them in bringing them the glad tidings of peace. Go not from house to house Be content with whatever fare you meet with; and never create any unnecessary trouble in the family where you are, nor quit your lodgings to seek others, in hope of better accommodations during the short stay you make in a place. And heal the sick that are therein Which, as I direct, so I shall empower you to do; And say unto them, The kingdom of God, &c. Publish the approach of the kingdom of God; its approach to them; and that they stand fair for an admission into it, if they will but obey the call of God, and turn to him without delay. Say, Now is the day of your visitation; see that you understand and improve it. Observe, reader! It is well to be made sensible of our advantages and opportunities, that we may lay hold on and embrace them. When the kingdom of God comes nigh to us, it concerns us to go forth to meet it.

Verses 10-12

Luke 10:10-12. Into whatsoever city ye enter, and they receive you not Show no willingness to hear your doctrine, and no inclination to give you entertainment, or the necessaries of life; go your way out into the streets, &c. Declare in the most public manner, how greatly they have sinned in rejecting you and your message; and that your declaration may make the greater impression upon them, let it be accompanied with the symbolical action of publicly wiping the dust of their city from off your feet, as a testimony that you will have no communication with such a faithless and disobedient people. Say, Since you reject so gracious and important a message, we cannot but consider you as rejected by God, and devoted to certain and inevitable destruction, and therefore we separate ourselves from all that belongs to you, even from the dust of your city. This was agreeable to the manner of the eastern people, who taught their disciples by symbolical actions, as well as by discourse; see on Matthew 10:14. Jesus added, When you have so done, say, Notwithstanding, be ye sure of this And remember it in the midst of all the calamities which are to befall you; that the kingdom of God is come nigh unto you That mercy and salvation, present and eternal, the kingdom of grace and the kingdom of glory, have been offered you, though you will not receive them. But I say unto you, it shall be more tolerable, &c. To make the seventy the more earnest in preaching the gospel, that so, if possible, the people might be prevailed upon to believe and obey it, he proceeds to declare the terrible punishment about to come upon those who should reject it. See on Matthew 10:15.

Verse 13

Luke 10:13. Wo unto thee, Chorazin, &c. “Having mentioned the punishment of those cities which should reject his ministers, it naturally brought to his mind the sad state and punishment of the cities where he himself had preached most frequently, namely, Chorazin, Bethsaida, and Capernaum. For, notwithstanding he had often resided in those cities, and performed many miracles before the inhabitants of them, they had continued impenitent. Wherefore, because he was never to preach to them any more, and because he knew how great their punishment would be, in the overflowing tenderness of his soul he affectionately lamented their obstinacy, which he foresaw would draw down on them the heaviest judgments. The same declaration Christ had made some time before. By repeating it now he warns the seventy not to lose time by going to those cities. At the same time, this part of his discourse was well calculated to comfort these disciples, now sent out, under the ill usage they might meet with; the preaching of Christ himself had often been unacceptable and unsuccessful, with respect to many of his hearers, and therefore it was not much to be wondered at if theirs should prove so likewise.” Considering the affectionate temper of our Lord, it is no wonder that he should renew his lamentation over those unhappy places where he had so intimately conversed; and that he should do it in such words as these, so well calculated to alarm and impress all that should hear or read them. O! that they might now have their due weight with those who might pass them over too slightly, when they occurred before in Matthew 11:20-24. O! that every impenitent creature who reads them might know that the sentence of his own condemnation is now before his eyes! See Macknight and Doddridge, and the notes on Matthew 11:20-24.

Verse 16

Luke 10:16. He that heareth you Here our Lord declares the general rule which he would observe, with regard to those to whom he sent, or should send his ministers; that he would reckon himself treated as they treated his servants. Indeed, what is done to the ambassador is generally considered as done to the prince that sends him. 1st, He that heareth you, and regards what you say, heareth me, and therein doth me honour: but, 2d, He that despiseth you, doth, in effect, despise me, and shall be reckoned with as having put an affront upon me: nay, he despiseth him that sent me. Observe, reader, those that contemn the Christian religion, do, in effect, put a slight upon natural religion, of which it is perfective. And they who despise the faithful ministers of Christ, they who, though they do not hate and persecute them, yet think meanly of them, look on them with scorn, and neglect to attend their ministry, will be reckoned with as despisers of God and of Christ.

Verses 17-20

Luke 10:17-20. And the seventy returned The seventy disciples, having gone through the several parts of the country appointed them, returned and told their Master with great joy what they had done, saying, Lord, even the devils are subject unto us through thy name We have not only cured diseases, according to the power thou wast pleased to give us, but, though thy commission did not directly express so much, yet even the devils themselves have been compelled to obey us, when in thy name we commanded them to go out of the persons whom they had possessed. From the manner in which they speak of this latter exertion of their power, it would appear to have been what they did not expect when they set out. For though Jesus had given them power to heal diseases, he had said nothing of their casting out devils. And he said, I beheld Satan as lightning “I myself saw Satan, the great prince of the demons, falling like lightning from heaven, on his first transgression, and well remember how immediate and dreadful his ruin was: and I foresee, in spirit, that renewed, swift, and irresistible victory, of which this present success of yours is an earnest, and which the preaching of the gospel shall shortly gain over all these rebel powers, that, even in their highest strength and glory, were so incapable of opposing the arm of God.” Thus Doddridge, who adds, “I think this answer to the seventy loses much of its beauty and propriety, unless we suppose Satan to have been the prince of the demons they spoke of, and also allow a reference to the first fall of that rebellious spirit.” To be exalted unto heaven, signifies to be raised unto great power and privileges, and particularly to sovereign dominion. To fall from heaven, therefore, may signify to lose one’s dominion and pre-eminency. The devils, by the idolatry of the Gentiles and wickedness of the Jews, had been exalted into heaven, and had ruled mankind in opposition to the dominion of God; by the preaching of the gospel their power was to be destroyed in every country. As Christ foreknew this, so he here foretels it. Behold, I give unto you power, &c. To prove that he had thrown down Satan from his exaltation, and that his power should, in the end, be totally destroyed; and to increase their joy, and render them more fit for their work, he here enlarges their powers. To tread on serpents, is a proverbial expression, which signifies victory over enemies; accordingly, it is added, and over all the power of the enemy; and nothing shall by any means hurt you See note on Mark 16:18; and Acts 28:5; and Psalms 91:13. Notwithstanding, in this rejoice not Rejoice not so much in this, that the spirits, namely, evil spirits, are subject unto you, and that you are enabled miraculously to control and cast them out of those possessed by them, and that you can perform other miracles, because this is but a temporary endowment and pre-eminence, sometimes granted to wicked men, whom it in no wise qualifies for heaven; but rather rejoice that your names are written in heaven That you stand enrolled among the heirs of future glory and felicity, as the peculiar objects of the divine favour and love. This and similar passages seem to be allusions to the enrolment of citizens’ names in registers, by which their right to the privileges of citizenship was acknowledged by the community. See notes on Exodus 32:32; Daniel 12:1; and compare Philippians 4:3; Revelation 3:5.

Verses 21-24

Luke 10:21-24. In that hour Jesus rejoiced On this occasion Jesus, meditating on the unspeakable wisdom and goodness of the divine dispensations to mankind, felt extraordinary emotions of joy. And said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth In both of which thy kingdom stands, and that of Satan is to be destroyed; that thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent Hast suffered them to be hid from those that are wise and prudent in their own eyes, or who really are so with respect to the things of this world; and hast revealed them unto babes To persons illiterate, and of comparatively weak understanding, but are wise as to the things of God. He rejoiced not in the state of ignorance and darkness, in which the wise and prudent were left, as a punishment of their self-confidence and pride, and in their consequent destruction, but in the display of the riches of God’s grace to others, in such a manner as reserves to him the entire glory of our salvation, and hides pride from man. All things are delivered to me of my Father He repeats the declaration of his own extensive authority, which he had testified before. See notes on Matthew 11:25-27. And no man knoweth who the Son is Essentially one with the Father; but the Father Who sent him, and who only knows his dignity and the mystery of his person. And who the Father is How great, how wise, how good; but the Son His essential wisdom and word. And he to whom the Son will reveal him In pursuance of one very important design of his coming, which was to declare the Father, and communicate the saving knowledge of him to all truly willing and desirous to receive it. And he turned to his disciples, and said privately, &c. It appears, that when the seventy disciples returned, Jesus was surrounded with a great multitude of people; therefore after he had spoken publicly as above related, to the seventy, he turned himself to all his disciples, and uttered what follows privately, so as not to be heard by the people in general. Blessed are the eyes which see the things which ye see, &c. The happiness here praised was enjoyed by the seventy, as well as by the twelve, and consequently it was as fit that they should be made sensible of its greatness, as that the twelve should understand it. Besides, this declaration, as well as what was spoken more publicly, was designed to moderate the joy which the seventy had conceived, on finding the devils subject to them. The subjection of the devils to their command was not so great a happiness as their being allowed to hear Christ’s sermons, and to see his miracles. These things show, that what our Lord said privately to his disciples, was said to the seventy as well as to the twelve.

Verses 25-28

Luke 10:25-28. And behold, a certain lawyer A doctor of the law; stood up and tempted him Greek, εκπειραζων αυτον , trying him. It seems this lawyer was one of the multitude which attended Jesus when the seventy returned, and having listened to what he said to his disciples in private, concerning their enjoying a happiness which many prophets and kings had desired in vain to obtain, namely, the happiness of seeing his miracles, and of hearing his sermons, thought he would make trial of that great wisdom which some said he possessed, by proposing to him one of the most important questions which it is possible for the human mind to examine, namely, What a man must do to inherit eternal life. For, that this learned doctor asked the question, not from a sincere desire to know his own duty, but merely to try our Lord’s knowledge, is evident from the text, which informs us, that he did it tempting, or trying him, expecting, perhaps, that, on this head he would teach differently from Moses. He said unto him, What is written in the law? Jesus, alluding to his profession, made answer by inquiring of him what the law taught on that point. And he, answering out of Deuteronomy 6:5, said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, &c. That is, Thou shalt unite all the faculties of thy soul to render him the most intelligent and sincere, the most affectionate and resolute service. We may safely rest in this general sense of these important words, if we are not able to fix the particular meaning of every single word. If we desire to do this, perhaps the heart, which is a general expression, may be explained by the three following; With all thy soul With the warmest affection; with all thy strength The most vigorous efforts of thy will; and with all thy mind Or understanding, in the most wise and reasonable manner thou canst, thy understanding guiding thy will and affections. And thy neighbour as thyself See on Mark 12:30-31. And he said, Thou hast answered right Jesus approved of his answer, and allowed, that to love God as the law enjoined is the means of obtaining eternal life, because it never fails to produce obedience to all the divine revelations and commands, consequently even to the gospel, which he was then preaching. Observe well, therefore, reader, our Lord’s words are not spoken ironically, but seriously; and contain a deep and weighty truth. He, and he alone, shall live for ever, who thus loves God and his neighbour in the present life.

Verses 29-32

Luke 10:29-32. But he, willing to justify himself That is, to show he had done this, and was blameless, even with respect to the duties which are least liable to be counterfeited, namely, the social and relative duties, asked him what was the meaning and extent of the word neighbour in the law? It seems, being strongly tinctured with the prejudices of his nation, he reckoned none brethren but Israelites; or neighbours, but proselytes; and expected that Jesus would confirm his opinion, by approving of it. For, according to this interpretation, he thought himself innocent, although enemies and heathen had no share of his love, since the precept enjoined the love of neighbours only. And Jesus answering said, A certain man, &c. Our Lord, who well knew how to convince and persuade, answered him in such a manner as to make the feelings of his heart overcome the prejudices of his understanding. He convinced him of his mistake by a parable, an ancient, agreeable, and inoffensive method of conveying instruction, very fit to be used in teaching persons who are greatly prejudiced against the truth. For, “as to the scope of the passage, every body perceives, that it is the intention of it to confound those malignant Jewish prejudices, which made them confine their charity to those of their own nation and religion. Nor could any thing be better adapted for the purpose than this story, which, as it is universally understood, exhibits a Samaritan overlooking all national and religious differences, and doing offices of kindness and humanity to a Jew in distress. By this means the narrow-minded Pharisee, who put the question, is surprised into a conviction that there is something amiable, and even divine, in surmounting all partial considerations, and listening to the voice of nature, which is the voice of God, in giving relief to the unhappy.” Campbell. Went down from Jerusalem to Jericho Jericho was situated in a valley, hence the phrase of going down to it: and as the road to it from Jerusalem (about eighteen miles) lay through desert and rocky places, so many robberies and murders were committed therein, that it was called, according to Jerome, the bloody way. This circumstance of the parable, therefore, is finely chosen. And fell among thieves This Jew, in travelling this road, was assaulted by robbers, who, not satisfied with taking all the money he had, stripped him of his raiment, beat him unmercifully, and left him for dead. While he was lying in this miserable condition, utterly incapable of helping himself, a certain priest, happening to come that way, saw him in great distress, but took no pity on him. In like manner a Levite, espying him, would not come near him, having no mind to be at any trouble or expense with him. The priest and Levite are here introduced coming that way very naturally, there being, according to a considerable Jewish writer, quoted by Dr. Lightfoot, no fewer than twelve thousand priests and Levites, who dwelt at Jericho, and all occasionally attending the service of the temple at Jerusalem, frequently travelled this road. The expression, κατα συγκυριαν , here, is very improperly rendered, by chance, in our translation. Strictly speaking, there is no such thing in the universe as either chance or fortune. The phrase merely means, as it happened, or, it came to pass. Both the priest and the Levite are represented as passing by without so much as speaking to the poor distressed and dying man, notwithstanding that their sacred characters, and eminent knowledge in the law, obliged them to be remarkable for compassion, and all the tender offices of charity; especially when it was the distress of a brother, which called for their help. In other cases, indeed, these hypocrites might have invented reasons to palliate their inhumanity: but here it was not in their power to do it. For they could not excuse themselves by saying, This was a Samaritan, or a heathen, who deserved no pity; they could not even excuse themselves by saying, they did not know who he was; for though they took care to keep at a distance, they had looked on their brother lying, stripped, wounded, and half dead, without being in the least moved with his distress. No doubt, however, they would try to excuse themselves to their own consciences for thus neglecting him, and, perhaps, might gravely thank God for their own deliverances, while they left their brother bleeding to death. Is not this an emblem of many living characters, perhaps of some who bear the sacred office? O house of Levi, and of Aaron, is not the day coming when the virtues of heathen and Samaritans will rise up in judgment against you?

Verses 33-37

Luke 10:33-37. But a certain Samaritan, &c. Soon after this, a Samaritan happened to come that way, and seeing a fellow-creature lying on the road naked and wounded, went up to him; and though he found it was one of a different nation, who professed a religion opposed to his own, the violent hatred of all such persons, that had been instilled into his mind from his earliest years, and all other objections, were immediately silenced by the feelings of pity awakened at the sight of the man’s distress; his bowels yearned toward the Jew, and he hastened, with great tenderness, to give him assistance. It was admirably well judged, to represent the distress on the side of the Jew, and the mercy on that of the Samaritan. For the case being thus proposed, self-interest would make the very scribe sensible how amiable such a conduct was, and would lay him open to our Lord’s inference. Had it been put the other way, prejudice might more easily have interposed, before the heart could have been affected. And went to him and bound up his wounds, &c. It seems this humane traveller, according to the custom of those times, carried his provisions along with him; for he was able, though in the fields, to give the wounded man some wine to recruit his spirits. Moreover, he carefully bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, which, when well beaten together, are said to be one of the best balsams that can be applied to a fresh wound; then, setting him on his own beast, he walked by him on foot and supported him. In this manner did the good Samaritan carry the Jew, his enemy, to the first inn he could find, where he carefully attended him all that night; and on the morrow, when he was going away, he delivered him over to the care of the host, with a particular recommendation to be very kind to him. And, that nothing necessary for his recovery might be wanting, he gave the host what money he could spare, a sum about equal to fifteen pence with us, desiring him, at the same time, to lay out more, if more were needful, and promising to pay the whole at his return. It seems he was afraid the mercenary temper of the host might have hindered him from furnishing what was necessary, if he had no prospect of being repaid. Thus we see, “All the circumstances of this beautiful parable are formed with the finest skill imaginable, to work the conviction designed; so that had the lawyer been ever so much disposed to reckon none his neighbours but men of his own religion, it was not in his power to do it on this occasion. And, although favours from a Samaritan had always been represented to him as an abomination, more detestable than the eating of swine’s flesh, he was obliged to acknowledge, that not the priest or the Levite, but this Samaritan, by discharging a great office of humanity toward the Jew in distress, was truly his neighbour, and deserved his love more than some of his own nation, who sustained the most venerable characters; that the like humanity was due from any Israelite to a Samaritan who stood in need of it; and that all men are neighbours to all men, how much soever they may be distinguished from one another in respect of country, or kindred, or language, or religion. Mankind are intimately knit together by their common wants and weaknesses, being so formed that they cannot live without the assistance of each other, and therefore the relation that subsists between them is as extensive as their natures; and the obligations under which they lie, to aid one another by mutual good offices, are as strong and urgent as every man’s own manifold necessities. By this admirable parable, therefore, our Lord has powerfully recommended that universal benevolence, which is so familiar in the mouths, but foreign to the hearts of many ignorant pretenders to religion and morality. It would appear that the presumption of the Jews in matters of religion exceeded all bounds; for though the Supreme Being pays little regard to mere outward worship, and is much more delighted with the inward homage of a holy and benevolent mind, yet because they prayed daily in his temple, and offered sacrifices there, and carried about his precepts written on their phylacteries, and had God and the law always in their mouths, they made no doubt but they worshipped God acceptably, notwithstanding they were so enormously wicked, that they would not put themselves to the smallest expense or trouble, though they could have saved life by it; and therefore had no real love to God or their neighbour. This monstrous presumption being entirely subversive of true religion, our Lord thought fit to condemn it in the severest manner, and to brand it with the blackest and most lasting note of infamy in the above charming parable.” Macknight. Jesus, having finished the parable, said to the lawyer, Which now of these three was neighbour, &c. Which acted the part of a neighbour? And he said, He that showed mercy on him This reply the lawyer made without hesitation, being greatly struck with the truth and evidence of the case. Indeed he could not for shame say otherwise. In speaking thus, however, he condemned himself, and overthrew his own false notion of the neighbour to whom his love was due. Go, and do thou likewise Show mercy and kindness to every one that stands in need of thy assistance, whether he be an Israelite, a heathen, or a Samaritan; and when works of charity are to be performed, reckon every man thy neighbour, not inquiring what he believes, but what he suffers. Reader, let us attend to, and diligently put in practice, our Lord’s advice to this lawyer: let us go and do likewise, regarding every man as our neighbour who needs our assistance. Let us renounce that bigotry and party zeal which would contract our hearts into an insensibility for all the human race, but a small number, whose sentiments and practices are so much our own, that our love to them is but self-love reflected. With an honest openness of mind let us always remember the kindred between man and man, and cultivate that happy instinct whereby, in the original constitution of our nature, God has strongly bound us to each other.

Verses 38-42

Luke 10:38-42. It came to pass as they went As they journeyed to Jerusalem, whither it seems he was going to celebrate the feast of dedication: he entered into a certain village Namely, Bethany, nigh to Jerusalem; and a certain woman named Martha received him Martha was probably the elder sister, and, Grotius thinks, a widow, with whom her brother and sister lived. At least, she was now the housekeeper, and acted as the mistress of the family. And she had a sister called Mary Who, with her brother Lazarus, doubtless made Jesus as welcome as Martha did. Who also sat at Jesus’s feet On this occasion, Martha expressed her regard for her divine guest, by the care she look to provide the best entertainment in her power for him and his disciples; but Mary sat quietly at his feet, attending to his doctrine, for he embraced every opportunity of imparting the knowledge of divine things to such as were willing to receive it. But Martha was cumbered with much serving The word περιεσπατο , here rendered cumbered, properly signifies to be drawn different ways at the same time, and admirably expresses the situation of a mind surrounded (as Martha’s then was) with so many objects of care, that it hardly knows which to attend to first. And said, Lord, dost thou not care, &c. The burden of the service lying upon Martha, and she being encumbered with it, blamed Jesus for allowing her sister to sit idly by him, while she was so much hurried. And Jesus said unto her, Martha, Martha There is a peculiar spirit and tenderness in this repetition of the word; Thou art careful, μεριμνας , anxiously careful, and troubled, τυρβαζη , disturbed, or hurried, about many things. The word is nowhere else used in the New Testament. It seems to express the restless situation of a person in a tumultuous crowd, where so many are pressing upon him that he can hardly stand his ground; or of water in great agitation. But one thing is needful Not one dish to eat of, as Theophylact, Basil, and many of the fathers explain the expression; but the care of the soul, or that spiritual wisdom and grace which Mary made it her chief care to seek and labour after. And Mary Who now employs herself in hearing my doctrine, rather than in providing an entertainment for me, hath chosen a part which I approve of, and which I will not take from her. As if he had said, “There is one thing absolutely necessary, and of infinitely greater importance than any of these domestic and secular affairs: even to be instructed in the saving knowledge of the way that leads to eternal life, and to secure a title to, and meetness for it. And Mary is wisely attending to this; therefore, instead of reproving her, I must rather declare, that she has chosen what may eminently be called the good part, which as it shall not Finally; be taken away from her I would not now hinder her from pursuing it; but rather invite thee to join with her in her attention to it, though the circumstances of our intended meal should not be so exactly adjusted as thy fond friendship could desire.”

Observe, reader, Martha’s care, if it had been moderate, and her work, were good, in their proper place and season: but now something more important chiefly demanded her attention, and should have been done first, and most regarded. She expected Christ to have censured Mary for not doing as she did; but he, on the contrary, blamed her for not doing as Mary did; and we are sure that the judgment of Christ is according to truth, and that the day will come when Martha will wish she had sat with Mary at his feet! Mary said nothing in her own defence; but since Martha appealed to the Master, to him she was willing to refer the matter, and to abide by his award. And he justified her against her sister’s clamours. However we may be censured and condemned by men for our piety and zeal, our Lord Jesus will take our part; and, sooner or later, Mary’s choice will be justified, and all who make that choice and abide by it. Happy, therefore, “the man or woman, who, in a pressing variety of secular business, is not so encumbered and careful as to forget that one thing, which is absolutely needful, but resolutely chooses this better part, and retains it as the only secure and everlasting treasure! O that this comprehensive, important sentence, were ever before our eyes! O that it were inscribed deep upon our hearts! One thing is needful: And what is this one thing but present and eternal salvation? What but an humble attention to the voice of the gospel of Christ? Yet, as if this were of all things the most unnecessary, for what poor trifling cares is it not commonly forgot? Yea, to what worthless vanity is it not daily sacrificed? Let the ministers of Christ, let the friends of souls, in every station, exert themselves, that all about them may be awakened duly to regard this great interest, accounting it their meat and drink to promote it. Let them be always solicitous, that neither they, nor others, may neglect it, for the hurries of too busy a life, or even for the services of an over-officious friendship.” Doddridge.

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Bibliographical Information
Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Luke 10". Benson's Commentary. 1857.