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the Week of Proper 6 / Ordinary 11
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Bible Commentaries
Luke 9

Benson's Commentary of the Old and New TestamentsBenson's Commentary

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A.M. 4035. A.D. 31.

In this chapter we have,

(1,) The commission which Christ gave his twelve apostles to go out for some time to preach the gospel, and confirm it by miracles, Luke 9:1-6 .

(2,) The terror of Herod, the tetrarch of Galilee, at the growing greatness of Christ, Luke 9:7-9 .

(3,) The retirement of Christ into a place of solitude with his disciples, now returned; a great resort of people to him, and his feeding five thousand men with five loaves and two fishes, Luke 9:10-17 .

(4,) His discourse with his disciples concerning himself, and his sufferings for them and theirs for him, Luke 9:18-27 .

(5,) His transfiguration before Peter, James, and John, and converse with Moses and Elias, Luke 9:28-36 .

(6,) His casting a devil out of a lunatic child, when his disciples could not, Luke 9:37-42 .

(7,) The repeated notices he gave his disciples of his approaching sufferings, Luke 9:43-45 .

(8,) His check to the ambition of his disciples, and to their desire of monopolizing miraculous powers to themselves, Luke 9:46-50 .

(9,) His rebuke of their too great resentment of an affront given him by some Samaritans; assuring them that he came to save, not to destroy, Luke 9:51-56 .

(10,) The answer which he gave to several that were inclined to follow him, but without due consideration, or the zeal and resolution necessary, Luke 9:57-62 .

Verses 1-6

Luke 9:1-6. Then he called his twelve disciples See notes on Matthew 10:1; and Mark 6:7-12. There abide and thence depart That is, Stay in that house till ye leave the city. See note on Matthew 10:11.

Verses 7-9

Luke 9:7-9. Now Herod heard of all that was done by him The twelve apostles preaching in the towns of Galilee, and confirming their doctrine by many mighty miracles, raised the attention and expectation of all men more than ever. For they could not but think it a most extraordinary and marvellous thing, that Christ could not only work miracles himself, but impart the power of working them to others, even to whomsoever he pleased; a thing never heard of in the world before, and which evidently rendered him far superior to all the prophets, and certainly was an amazing and most convincing proof of his being the Messiah. This circumstance, it seems, aggrandized him more than any other thing, and spread his fame so far, that it reached the court of Herod, tetrarch of Galilee, and occasioned many speculations there. And he (Herod) was perplexed. Greek, διηπορει , much perplexed, as the same word is rendered Luke 24:4; and by the Vulgate consternatum esse, to be in a consternation; and elsewhere, stupere, to be amazed, or dismayed. The word, says Grotius, signifies wonder and astonishment; or, according to Doddridge, “such a mixture of doubt and fear, as necessarily throws the mind into a very uneasy situation.” The sense here seems to be, that the fame of our Lord’s miracles, and the diversity of opinions concerning him, so astonished Herod that he knew not what to think or believe concerning him. Because it was said of some And soon after by Herod himself; that John was risen from the dead He thought he had got clear of John, and should never be more troubled with him; but he now begins to fear he was mistaken, and that either John was come to life again, or that another had arisen in his power and spirit. And of some (it was said) that Elias had appeared They say appeared, because, as he did not die, he could not rise again: and of others, that one of the old prophets Who had been persecuted and slain long since; was risen again To be recompensed for his sufferings by this honour put upon him. It is probable that this conversation at the court of Galilee, concerning Jesus, and Herod’s perplexity thereupon, happened soon after the Baptist’s death. The murder of him, it seems, was recent. Hence the stings of conscience which that crime occasioned to Herod were bitter; and the rather, that he had committed it in an unguarded hour, contrary to the dictates of his own mind. Hence, in the confusion of his thoughts, he followed the multitude, though a Sadducee, in fancying that John was risen from the dead, and dreaded the punishment of his crime. It may seem strange that any person should have ascribed Christ’s miracles to John risen from the dead, who during his life-time performed no miracle, John 5:41. Perhaps they imagined the power of working miracles was conferred on the Baptist to prove both his resurrection and his innocence; to clothe him with greater authority than formerly; and to render his person inviolable for the future. Herod said, John have I beheaded: but who is this? Is he carrying on John’s work, or is he come to avenge John’s death? John baptized, but he does not; John wrought no miracle, but he works many; and therefore appears more formidable than John. Observe, reader, those who oppose God will find themselves more and more embarrassed. And he desired to see him Whether he resembled John or not; and if he found it was John, perhaps expecting to effect a reconciliation with him. “He might soon have got his doubts resolved, if he would have informed himself, as he easily might, of what thousands knew, that Jesus preached and wrought miracles a great while before John was beheaded, and therefore could not be John risen from the dead. He desired to see him And why did he not go and see him, or send for him? Probably because he thought it below him to do either the one or the other. He had had enough of John, and cared not for having to do with any more such reprovers of sin. He desired to see him; but we do not find that he ever did till he saw him at his bar, and then he and his men of war set him at naught, Luke 23:11. Had he prosecuted his convictions now, and gone to see him, who knows but a happy change might have been wrought in him; but delaying it now, his heart was hardened; and when he did see him, he was as much prejudiced against him as any other.” Henry.

Verses 10-17

Luke 9:10-17. And the apostles being returned, told him all that they had done See notes on Matthew 14:13-21; and Mark 6:30-44, where this whole paragraph is largely explained.

Verses 18-22

Luke 9:18-22. As he was alone praying Or rather apart from the multitude, for the word καταμονας , here rendered alone, excludes not his disciples, but the multitude, now sent away when they were filled, as appears from Mark 4:10, where the same word is used; and where we read, when he was alone, ( καταμονας , apart from the multitude,) they that were about him, with the twelve, asked him of the parable, Or the expression here, καταμονας προσευχομενος , may be rendered, as he was praying alone, or by himself; his prayer being ended, his disciples came to him. He asked them When he had done praying, during which they probably stayed at a distance, Who say the people that I am, &c. See this paragraph explained on Matthew 16:13-23; and Mark 8:27-33. He commanded them to tell no man, saying, The Son of man must suffer, &c. As if he had said, Ye must prepare for a scene far different from this.

Verses 23-27

Luke 9:23-27. And he said to them all, &c. Not only to his disciples, as mentioned by Matthew, but to the people also, whom, Mark observes, he called unto him, as well as his disciples, to hear the very important doctrine which he was about to deliver, contained in this paragraph, of which see the notes on Matthew 16:24-27; and Mark 8:34-38. Let him deny himself and take up his cross The necessity of this duty has been shown in many places; the extent of it is specified here, daily Therefore, that day is lost wherein no cross is taken up.

Verses 28-36

Luke 9:28-36. It came to pass about eight days after Including the day on which the discourse, recorded in the preceding chapter, was delivered, and that on which the fact, here mentioned, took place: otherwise, exclusively of these two days, it was six days after, as Matthew has it. See the following account of our Lord’s transfiguration, explained at large in the notes on Matthew 17:1-8, with some additional observations on Mark 9:2-10. Moses and Elias, who appeared in glory Like Christ, with whom they talked. They saw his glory The very same expression in which it is described by John 1:14; and by Peter, 2 Peter 1:16-17.

Verses 37-45

Luke 9:37-45. For a full elucidation of these verses, see notes on Matthew 17:14-23; and Mark 9:14-29. Let these sayings sink down into your ears That is, consider them deeply; in joy remember the cross. So wisely does our Lord balance praise with sufferings.

Verses 46-48

Luke 9:46-48. And there arose a reasoning among them According to our version here, this reasoning, or dispute, happened at the time when Jesus rebuked his disciples for it. But, Mark 9:33, we are expressly told, that it happened as they went into Capernaum. The evangelists, however, may be reconciled by translating Luke’s words, εισηλθε δε διαλογισμος εν αυτοις , Now there had arisen a reasoning among them Namely, as they travelled to Capernaum. This kind of reasoning, it may be observed, always arose at the most improper times that could be imagined; which of them should be greatest Thus they clearly manifested their ambitious views, and their carnal, worldly spirit; and how entirely they misunderstood the nature of Christ’s kingdom, which is not of this world; and Jesus, perceiving the thought of their heart For he perfectly knew all that passed within them; took a child and said unto them If you would be truly great, humble yourselves to the meanest offices: he that is least in his own eyes shall be great indeed. For a full explanation of this occurrence, and of our Lord’s improvement of it, and lessons taught his disciples on the occasion, see the notes on Matthew 18:1-6; and Mark 9:33-40, where the two next verses also are explained.

Verses 51-53

Luke 9:51-53 . When the time was come, &c. Εν τω συμπληρουσθαι , when the time was fulfilled That is, according to the Hebrew idiom, drew on, that he should be received up The Greek word αναληψις , in this passage, signifies Christ’s being taken up into heaven; for we find αναλαμβανομαι , from whence it is derived, applied expressly to his ascension, Mark 16:19; Acts 1:2; Acts 1:11; Acts 1:22; 1 Timothy 3:16. He had now continued on earth very near the whole period determined, and was soon to be taken up to heaven, from whence he had come down; he therefore resolved from this time forth to appear as openly as possible, and to embrace every opportunity of fulfilling the duties of his ministry. He steadfastly set his face Without fear of his enemies, or shame of the cross; to go to Jerusalem He did not travel thither privately, as he had often done before, but he declared his intention, and entered on the journey with great courage. And sent messengers before his face, &c. The road to Jerusalem from Galilee lay through Samaria; wherefore, as the inhabitants of this country bare the greatest ill-will to all who worshipped in Jerusalem, Jesus thought it necessary to send messengers before him, with orders to find out quarters for him in one of the villages; but they did not receive him The inhabitants of the village refused him entertainment, because his intention, in this journey, was publicly known. The Samaritans could not refuse lodging to all travellers that went to Jerusalem, for the high-road lay through their country; such travellers only as went thither professedly to worship, were the objects of their indignation; hence the expression, because his face was as though he would go to Jerusalem It plainly appeared that he was going to worship at the temple, and thereby, in effect, to condemn the Samaritan worship at mount Gerizim.

Verses 54-56

Luke 9:54-56. When his disciples, James and John Who attended him; saw this When the messengers returned with the account of what had passed in the village, whither they had been sent, these two disciples, being exceedingly incensed at this rude treatment; said, Lord, wilt thou that we command fire to come down from heaven To destroy these inhospitable wretches immediately; even as Elias did After the example of the Prophet Elijah, who at, or near, this very place, thus destroyed the men who had evil-entreated him. Perhaps the place might put it into the minds of these apostles to make this motion now, rather than at any other time, or place, where Christ had received the like affront. “That these disciples, so remarkably distinguished by their Lord’s favour, should have some distinguished zeal and faith, may seem less wonderful, than that a person of so sweet a disposition as John should make so severe a proposal.” But he turned and rebuked them Jesus, whose meekness on all occasions was admirable, sharply reprimanded his disciples for entertaining so unbecoming a resentment of this offence; and said, Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of Ye do not know the sinfulness of the disposition which ye have just now expressed, neither do ye sufficiently know your own hearts; which if you were more diligently to examine, you would soon find that there is a great deal of personal resentment and ostentation mingled with that zeal for me, which you so warmly express on this occasion. Add to this, you do not consider the genius of the gospel, so much more gentle than that of the law; nor the difference of times, persons, and circumstances. The severity which Elijah exercised on the men who came from Ahaziah to apprehend him, was a reproof of an idolatrous king, court, and nation, very proper for the times, and very agreeable to the characters both of the prophet who gave it, and of the offenders to whom it was given; at the same time it was not unsuitable to the nature of the dispensation they were under. But the gospel breathes a very different spirit from the law, (whose punishments were chiefly of a temporal kind,) and therefore it does not admit of this sort of rigour and severity. He told them, further, that to destroy men’s lives was utterly inconsistent with the design of his coming into the world, which was to save them Alluding to his miracles, by which he restored health to the diseased bodies of men, as well as to his doctrine and death, by which he gives life to their souls. Having said these things, he went with them to another village, the inhabitants of which were men of better dispositions. This was a noble instance of patience under a real and unprovoked injury; an instance of patience which expressed infinite sweetness of disposition, and which, for that reason, should be imitated by all who call themselves Christ’s disciples.

Verses 57-62

Luke 9:57-62. And it came to pass as they went in the way This and the following seem to be the same occurrences with those mentioned by Matthew, which took place as Christ was in the neighbourhood of Capernaum, going from that town to the shore, where he proposed to embark, in order to cross the lake, and not on his way to Jerusalem through the country of the Samaritans. See notes on Matthew 8:19-22. And Jesus said to him, The foxes have holes, &c. Jesus, knowing that the man proposed to himself riches and honours in the expected kingdom of the Messiah, thought fit to make him sensible of his mistake. As if he had said, Understand the terms: consider on what conditions thou art to follow me. He said to another, Follow me About the same time, our Lord meeting with one who had often attended him, and thereby showed an inclination to become his disciple, he ordered him to disengage himself altogether from worldly affairs and follow him; but he said, Lord suffer me first to go and bury my father The man excused himself on pretence that he was bound in duty to wait on an aged father, till he should pay him the last office in his burial. Jesus said, Let the dead bury their dead Let those who are dead in sin, or who are so immersed in worldly affairs that they are dead to God and divine things, employ themselves in committing to the dust their deceased friends and relatives. But go thou and preach the kingdom of God It is justly observed by Dr. Doddridge, that, “as our Lord called him now to follow him, we must conclude that this commission which he gives him to preach was not directly to be put in execution. The circumstance was plainly extraordinary, and might turn on reasons unknown to us. Christ might, for instance, foresee some particular obstruction that would have arisen from the interview with his friends at his father’s funeral, which would have prevented his devoting himself to the ministry; to which he might refer in saying, Let the dead bury their dead.” And another also said, Lord, I will follow thee Unto a third, who of his own accord offered to follow him, if he would allow him to go home and take leave of his family, Jesus gave such an answer as teaches us that no domestic affair should hinder the care of our salvation; that the calls of religion are so very pressing, that they admit of no delay or excuse whatsoever; and that all who set themselves to seek the welfare of their souls should pursue the work assiduously, without looking carelessly around them, as if they neglected what they were doing. He said unto him, No man having put his hand to the plough, &c., is fit for the kingdom of God Either to receive and become a subject of it, or to preach it. “Hesiod has given it as the character of a good ploughman, that, ‘he keeps his mind intent on his work,’ that he may make ‘a straight furrow,’ and does not allow himself ‘to gaze about on his companions.’ Our Lord, on the like obvious principles, may use the phrase of one that looks behind him while his hand is on the plough, as a kind of proverbial expression for a careless, irresolute person, who must be peculiarly unfit for the Christian ministry. How happy had it been for Christ’s church had this lively admonition been regarded, without which it is impossible, ορθοτομειν τον λογον της αληθειας , to divide, or rather direct the word of truth aright,” 2 Timothy 2:15.

Bibliographical Information
Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Luke 9". Benson's Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/rbc/luke-9.html. 1857.
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