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Bible Commentaries

Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament

Luke 11

Verse 1

As he was praying in a certain place (εν τω εινα αυτον εν τοπω τιν προσευχομενον). Characteristically Lukan idiom: εν with articular periphrastic infinitive (εινα προσευχομενον) with accusative of general reference (αυτον).

That . Not in the Greek, asyndeton (κα εγενετο ειπεν).

When he ceased (ως επαυσατο). Supply προσευχομενος (praying), complementary or supplementary participle.

Teach us (διδαξον ημας). Jesus had taught them by precept (Matthew 6:7-15) and example (Luke 9:29). Somehow the example of Jesus on this occasion stirred them to fresh interest in the subject and to revival of interest in John's teachings (Luke 5:33). So Jesus gave them the substance of the Model Prayer in Matthew, but in shorter form. Some of the MSS. have one or all of the phrases in Matthew, but the oldest documents have it in the simplest form. See on Matthew 6:7-15 for discussion of these details (Father, hallowed, kingdom, daily bread, forgiveness, bringing us into temptation). In Matthew 6:11 "give" is δος (second aorist active imperative second singular, a single act) while here Luke 11:3 "give" is διδου (present active imperative, both from διδωμ) and means, "keep on giving." So in Luke 11:4 we have "For we ourselves also forgive" (κα γαρ αυτο αφιομεν), present active indicative of the late ω verb αφιω while Matthew 6:12 has "as we also forgave" (ως κα ημεις αφηκαμεν), first aorist (κ aorist) active of αφιημ. So also where Matthew 6:12 has "debts" (τα οφειληματα) Luke 11:4 has "sins" (τας αμαρτιας). But the spirit of each prayer is the same. There is no evidence that Jesus meant either form to be a ritual. In both Matthew 6:13; Luke 11:4 μη εισενεγκηις occurs (second aorist subjunctive with μη in prohibition, ingressive aorist). "Bring us not" is a better translation than "lead us not." There is no such thing as God enticing one to sin (James 1:13). Jesus urges us to pray not to be tempted as in Luke 22:40 in Gethsemane.

Verse 5

At midnight (μεσονυκτιου). Genitive of time.

And say to him (κα ειπη αυτω). This is the deliberative subjunctive, but it is preceded by two future indicatives that are deliberative also (εξει, πορευσετα).

Lend me (χρησον μο). First aorist active imperative second singular. Lend me

now . From κιχρημ, an old verb, to lend as a matter of friendly interest as opposed to δανειζω, to lend on interest as a business. Only here in the N.T.

Verse 6

To set before him (ο παραθησω αυτω).

Which I shall place beside him . Future active of παρατιθημ. See Luke 9:16 for this same verb.

Verse 7

And he (κακεινος). Emphatic.

Shall say (ειπη). Still the aorist active deliberative subjunctive as in verse Luke 11:5 (the same long and somewhat involved sentence).

Trouble me not (μη μο κοπους παρεχε). Μη and the present imperative active. Literally, "Stop furnishing troubles to me." On this use of κοπους παρεχω see also Matthew 26:10; Mark 14:6; Galatians 6:17 and the singular κοπον, Luke 18:5.

The door is now shut (ηδη η θυρα κεκλειστα). Perfect passive indicative, shut to stay shut. Oriental locks are not easy to unlock. From κλειω, common verb.

In bed (εις τεν κοιτην). Note use of εις in sense of εν. Often a whole family would sleep in the same room.

I cannot (ου δυναμα). That is, I am not willing.

Verse 8

Though (ε κα). Κα ε would be "Even if," a different idea.

Because he is his friend (δια το εινα φιλον αυτου). Δια and the accusative articular infinitive with accusative of general reference, a causal clause="because of the being a friend of his."

Yet because of his importunity (δια γε την αναιδιαν αυτου). From αναιδης, shameless, and that from α privative and αιδως, shame, shamelessness, impudence. An old word, but here alone in the N.T. Examples in the papyri. The use of γε here, one of the intensive particles, is to be noted. It sharpens the contrast to "though" by "yet." As examples of importunate prayer Vincent notes Abraham in behalf of Sodom (Genesis 18:23-33) and the Syro-Phoenician woman in behalf of her daughter (Matthew 15:22-28).

Verse 9

Shall be opened (ανοιγησετα). Second future passive third singular of ανοιγνυμ and the later ανοιγω.

Verse 11

Of which of you that is a father (τινα δε εξ υμων τον πατερα). There is a decided anacoluthon here. The MSS. differ a great deal. The text of Westcott and Hort makes τον πατερα (the father) in apposition with τινα (of whom) and in the accusative the object of αιτησε (shall ask) which has also another accusative (both person and thing) "a loaf." So far so good. But the rest of the sentence is,

will ye give him a stone? (μη λιθον επιδωσε αυτωι;). Μη shows that the answer No is expected, but the trouble is that the interrogative τινα in the first clause is in the accusative the object of αιτησε while here the same man (he) is the subject of επιδωσε. It is a very awkward piece of Greek and yet it is intelligible. Some of the old MSS. do not have the part about "loaf" and "stone," but only the two remaining parts about "fish" and "serpent," "egg" and "scorpion." The same difficult construction is carried over into these questions also.

Verse 13

Know how to give (οιδατε διδονα). See on Matthew 7:11 for this same saying. Only here Jesus adds the Holy Spirit (πνευμα αγιον) as the great gift (the summum bonum) that the Father is ready to bestow. Jesus is fond of "how much more" (ποσω μαλλον, by how much more, instrumental case).

Verse 14

When (του δαιμονιου εξελθοντος). Genitive absolute ana asyndeton between κα εγενετο and ελαλησεν as often in Luke (no οτ or κα).

Verse 15

Dumb (κωφον). See on Matthew 9:32.

By Beelzebub (εν Βεεζεβουλ). Blasphemous accusation here in Judea as in Galilee (Mark 3:22; Matthew 12:24; Matthew 12:27). See on Matthew for discussion of the form of this name and the various items in the sin against the Holy Spirit involved in the charge. It was useless to deny the fact of the miracles. So they were explained as wrought by Satan himself, a most absurd explanation.

Verse 16

Tempting him (πειραζοντες). These "others" (ετερο) apparently realized the futility of the charge of being in league with Beelzebub. Hence they put up to Jesus the demand for "a sign from heaven" just as had been done in Galilee (Matthew 12:38). By "sign" (σημειον) they meant a great spectacular display of heavenly power such as they expected the Messiah to give and such as the devil suggested to Jesus on the pinnacle of the temple.

Sought (εζητουν). Imperfect active, kept on seeking.

Verse 17

But he (αυτος δε). In contrast with them.

Knowing their thoughts (ειδως αυτων τα διανοηματα). From διανοεω, to think through or distinguish. This substantive is common in Plato, but occurs nowhere else in the N.T. It means intent, purpose. Jesus knew that they were trying to tempt him.

And a house divided against a house falleth (κα οικος επ οικον πιπτε). It is not certain that διαμερισθεισα (divided) is to be repeated here as in Matthew 12:25; Mark 3:25. It may mean,

and house falls upon house , "one tumbling house knocking down its neighbour, a graphic picture of what happens when a kingdom is divided against itself" (Bruce).

Verse 18

Because ye say (οτ λεγετε). Jesus here repeats in indirect discourse (accusative and infinitive) the charge made against him in verse Luke 11:15. The condition is of the first class, determined as fulfilled.

Verse 19

And if I by Beelzebub (ε δε εγω εν Βεεζεβουλ). Also a condition of the first class, determined as fulfilled. A Greek condition deals only with the statement, not with the actual facts. For sake of argument, Jesus here assumes that he casts out demons by Beelzebub. The conclusion is a reductio ad absurdum. The Jewish exorcists practiced incantations against demons (Acts 19:13).

Verse 20

By the finger of God (εν δακτυλω θεου). In distinction from the Jewish exorcists. Matthew 12:28 has "by the Spirit of God."

Then is come (αρα εφθασεν). Φθανω in late Greek comes to mean simply to come, not to come before. The aorist indicative tense here is timeless. Note αρα (accordingly) in the conclusion (αποδοσις).

Verse 21

Fully armed (καθωπλισμενος). Perfect passive participle of καθοπλιζω, an old verb, but here only in the N.T. Note perfective use of κατα in composition with οπλιζω, to arm (from οπλα, arms). Note indefinite temporal clause (οταν and present subjunctive φυλασση).

His own court (την εαυτου αυλην). His own homestead. Mark 3:27; Matthew 12:29 has "house" (οικιαν). Αυλη is used in the N.T. in various senses (the court in front of the house, the court around which the house is built, then the house as a whole).

His goods (τα υπαρχοντα αυτου). "His belongings." Neuter plural present active participle of υπαρχω used as substantive with genitive.

Verse 22

But when (επαν δε). Note οταν in verse Luke 11:21.

Stronger than he (ισχυροτερος αυτου). Comparative of ισχυρος followed by the ablative.

Come upon him and overcome him (επελθων νικηση αυτον). Second aorist active participle of επερχομα and first aorist active subjunctive of νικαω. Aorist tense here because a single onset while in verse Luke 11:22 the guarding (φυλασση, present active subjunctive) is continuous.

His whole armour (την πανοπλιαν αυτου). An old and common word for all the soldier's outfit (shield, sword, lance, helmet, greaves, breastplate). Tyndale renders it "his harness." In the N.T. only here and Ephesians 6:11; Ephesians 6:13 where the items are given.

Wherein he trusted (εφ' η επεποιθε). Second past perfect active of πειθω, to persuade. The second perfect πεποιθα is intransitive, to trust. Old and common verb. He trusted his weapons which had been so efficacious.

His spoils (τα σκυλα αυτου). It is not clear to what this figure refers. Strong as Satan is Jesus is stronger and wins victories over him as he was doing then. In Colossians 2:15 Christ is pictured as triumphing openly over the powers of evil by the Cross.

Verse 23

He that is not with me (ο μη ων μετ' εμου). This verse is just like Matthew 12:30.

Verse 24

And finding none (κα μη ευρισκον). Here Matthew 12:43 has κα ουχ ευρισκε (present active indicative instead of present active participle). Luke 11:24-26 is almost verbatim like Matthew 12:43-45, which see. Instead of just "taketh" (παραλαμβανε) in verse Luke 11:26, Matthew has "taketh with himself" (παραλαμβανε μεθ' εαυτου). And Luke omits: "Even so shall it be also unto this evil generation" of Matthew 12:45.

Than the first (των πρωτων). Ablative case after the comparative χειρονα. The seven demons brought back remind one of the seven that afflicted Mary Magdalene (Luke 8:2).

Verse 27

As he said these things (εν τω λεγειν αυτον). Luke's common idiom, εν with articular infinitive. Verses Luke 11:27; Luke 11:28 are peculiar to Luke. His Gospel in a special sense is the Gospel of Woman. This woman "speaks well, but womanly" (Bengel). Her beatitude (μακαρια) reminds us of Elisabeth's words (Luke 1:42, ευλογημενη). She is fulfilling Mary's own prophecy in Luke 1:48 (μακαριουσιν με, shall call me happy).

Verse 28

But he said (αυτος δε ειπεν). Jesus in contrast turns attention to others and gives them a beatitude (μακαριο). "The originality of Christ's reply guarantees its historical character. Such a comment is beyond the reach of an inventor" (Plummer).

Verse 29

Were gathering together unto him (επαθροιζομενων). Genitive absolute present middle participle of επαθροιζω, a rare verb, Plutarch and here only in the N.T., from επ and αθροιζω (a common enough verb). It means to throng together (αθροος, in throngs). Vivid picture of the crowds around Jesus.

But the sign of Jonah (ε μη το σημειον Ιωνα). Luke does not give here the burial and resurrection of Jesus of which Jonah's experience in the big fish was a type (Matthew 12:39), but that is really implied (Plummer argues) by the use here of "shall be given" (δοθησετα) and "shall be" (εστα), for the resurrection of Jesus is still future. The preaching of Jesus ought to have been sign enough as in the case of Jonah, but the resurrection will be given. Luke's report is much briefer and omits what is in Matthew 12:41.

Verse 31

With the men of this generation (μετα των ανδρων της γενεας ταυτης). Here Matthew 12:42 has simply "with this generation," which see.

Verse 32

At the preaching of Jonah (εις το κηρυγμα Ιωνα). Note this use of εις as in Matthew 10:41; Matthew 12:41. Luke inserts the words about the Queen of the South (Luke 11:31) in between the discussion of Jonah (verses Luke 11:29; Luke 11:32). Both Σολομωνος (Luke 11:31) and Ιωνα (verse Luke 11:32) are in the ablative case after the comparative πλειον (more,

something more ).

Verse 33

In a cellar (εις κρυπτην). A crypt (same word) or hidden place from κρυπτω, to hide. Late and rare word and here only in the N.T. These other words (lamp, λυχνον, bushel, μοδιον, stand, λυχνιαν) have all been discussed previously (Matthew 5:15). Luke 11:33 is like Matthew 6:22, which see for details.

Verse 35

Whether not (μη). This use of μη in an indirect question is good Greek (Robertson, Grammar, p. 1045). It is a pitiful situation if the very light is darkness. This happens when the eye of the soul is too diseased to see the light of Christ.

Verse 36

With its bright shining (τη αστραπη). Instrumental case, as if by a flash of lightning the light is revealed in him. See on Luke 10:18.

Verse 37

Now as he spake (εν δε τω λαλησα). Luke's common idiom, εν with the articular infinitive (aorist active infinitive) but it does not mean "after he had spoken" as Plummer argues, but simply "in the speaking," no time in the aorist infinitive. See Luke 3:21 for similar use of aorist infinitive with εν.

Asketh (ερωτα). Present active indicative, dramatic present. Request, not question.

To dine (οπως αριστηση). Note οπως rather than the common ινα. Aorist active subjunctive rather than present, for a single meal. The verb is from αριστον (breakfast). See distinction between αριστον and δειπνον (dinner or supper) in Luke 14:12. It is the morning meal (breakfast or lunch) after the return from morning prayers in the synagogue (Matthew 22:4), not the very early meal called ακρατισμα. The verb is, however, used for the early meal on the seashore in John 21:12; John 21:15.

With him (παρ' αυτω). By his side.

Sat down to meat (ανεπεσεν). Second aorist active indicative of αναπιπτω, old verb, to recline, to fall back on the sofa or lounge. No word here for "to meat."

Verse 38

That he had not first washed before dinner (οτ ου πρωτον εβαπτισθη προ του αριστου). The verb is first aorist passive indicative of βαπτιζω, to dip or to immerse. Here it is applied to the hands. It was the Jewish custom to dip the hands in water before eating and often between courses for ceremonial purification. In Galilee the Pharisees and scribes had sharply criticized the disciples for eating with unwashed hands (Mark 7:1-23; Matthew 15:1-20) when Jesus had defended their liberty and had opposed making a necessity of such a custom (tradition) in opposition to the command of God. Apparently Jesus on this occasion had himself reclined at the breakfast (not dinner) without this ceremonial dipping of the hands in water. The Greek has "first before" (πρωτον προ), a tautology not preserved in the translation.

Verse 39

The Lord (ο κυριος). The Lord Jesus plainly and in the narrative portion of Luke.

Now (νυν). Probably refers to him. You Pharisees do now what was formerly done.

The platter (του πινακος). The dish. Old word, rendered "the charger" in Matthew 14:8. Another word for "platter" (παροψις) in Matthew 23:25 means "side-dish."

But your inward part (το δε εσωθεν υμων). The part within you (Pharisees). They keep the external regulations, but their hearts are full of plunder (αρπαγης, from αρπαζω, to seize) and wickedness (πονηριας, from πονηρος, evil man). See Matthew 23:25 for a like indictment of the Pharisees for care for the outside of the cup but neglect of what is on the inside. Both inside and outside should be clean, but the inside first.

Verse 40

Howbeit (πλην). See Luke 6:24. Instead of devoting so much attention to the outside.

Those things which are within (τα ενοντα). Articular neuter plural participle from ενειμ, to be in, common verb. This precise phrase only here in the N.T. though in the papyri, and it is not clear what it means. Probably, give as alms the things within the dishes, that is have inward righteousness with a brotherly spirit and the outward becomes "clean" (καθαρα). Properly understood, this is not irony and is not Ebionism, but good Christianity (Plummer).

Verse 42

Tithe (αποδεκατουτε). Late verb for the more common δεκατευω. So in Matthew 23:23. Take a tenth off (απο-). Rue (πηγανον). Botanical term in late writers from πηγνυμ, to make fast because of its thick leaves. Here Matthew 23:23 has "anise."

Every herb (παν λαχανον). General term as in Mark 4:32. Matthew has "cummin."

Pass by (παρερχεσθε). Present middle indicative of παρερχομα, common verb, to go by or beside. Matthew 23:23 has "ye have left undone" (αφηκατε). Luke here has "love" (αγαπην), not in Matthew.

Ought (εδε). As in Matthew. Imperfect of a present obligation, not lived up to just like our "ought" (οwεδ, not paid). Παρεινα, as in Matthew, the second aorist active infinitive of αφιημ. to leave off. Common verb. Luke does not have the remark about straining out the gnat and swallowing the camel (Matthew 23:34). It is plain that the terrible exposure of the scribes and Pharisees in Luke 11:23 in the temple was simply the culmination of previous conflicts such as this one.

Verse 43

The chief seats in the synagogues (την πρωτοκαθεδριαν εν ταις συναγωγαις). Singular here, plural in Matthew 23:6. This semi-circular bench faced the congregation. Matthew 23:6 has also the chief place at feasts given by Luke also in that discourse (Luke 20:46) as well as in Luke 14:7, a marked characteristic of the Pharisees.

Verse 44

The tombs which appear not (τα μνηνεια τα αδηλα). These hidden graves would give ceremonial defilement for seven days (Numbers 19:16). Hence they were usually whitewashed as a warning. So in Matthew 23:27 the Pharisees are called "whited sepulchres." Men do not know how rotten they are. The word αδηλος (α privative and δηλος, apparent or plain) occurs in the N.T. only here and 1 Corinthians 14:8, though an old and common word.

Here men walking around (περιπατουντες) walk over the tombs without knowing it. These three woes cut to the quick and evidently made the Pharisees wince.

Verse 45

Thou reproachest us also (κα ημας υβριζεις). Because the lawyers (scribes) were usually Pharisees. The verb υβριζω is an old one and common for outrageous treatment, a positive insult (so Luke 18:32; Matthew 22:6; Matthew 22:14; Matthew 22:5; 1 Thessalonians 2:2). So Jesus proceeds to give the lawyers three woes as he had done to the Pharisees.

Verse 46

Grievous to be borne (δυσβαστακτα). A late word in LXX and Plutarch (δυς and βασταζω). Here alone in text of Westcott and Hort who reject it in Matthew 23:4 where we have "heavy burdens" (φορτια βαρεα). In Galatians 6:2 we have βαρη with a distinction drawn. Here we have φορτιζετε (here only in the N.T. and Matthew 11:28) for "lade," φορτια as cognate accusative and then φορτιοις (dative after ου προσψαυετε, touch not). It is a fierce indictment of scribes (lawyers) for their pettifogging interpretations of the written law in their oral teaching (later written down as Mishna and then as Gemarah), a terrible load which these lawyers did not pretend to carry themselves, not even "with one of their fingers" to "touch" (προσψαυω, old verb but only here in the N.T.), touch with the view to remove. Matthew 23:4 has κινησα, to move. A physician would understand the meaning of προσπαυω for feeling gently a sore spot or the pulse.

Verse 48

Consent (συνευδοκειτε). Double compound (συν, ευ, δοκεω), to think well along with others, to give full approval. A late verb, several times in the N.T., in Acts 8:1 of Saul's consenting to and agreeing to Stephen's death. It is a somewhat subtle, but just, argument made here. Outwardly the lawyers build tombs for the prophets whom their fathers (forefathers) killed as if they disapproved what their fathers did. But in reality they neglect and oppose what the prophets teach just as their fathers did. So they are "witnesses" (μαρτυρες) against themselves (Matthew 23:31).

Verse 49

The wisdom of God (η σοφια του θεου). In Matthew 23:34 Jesus uses "I send" (εγω αποστελλω) without this phrase "the wisdom of God." There is no book to which it can refer. Jesus is the wisdom of God as Paul shows (1 Corinthians 1:30), but it is hardly likely that he so describes himself here. Probably he means that God in his wisdom said, but even so "Jesus here speaks with confident knowledge of the Divine counsels" (Plummer). See Luke 10:22; Luke 15:7; Luke 15:10. Here the future tense occurs, "I will send" (αποστελω).

Some of them (εξ αυτων). No "some" (τινας) in the Greek, but understood. They will act as their fathers did. They will kill and persecute.

Verse 50

That ... may be required (ινα ... εκζητηθη). Divinely ordered sequence, first aorist passive subjunctive of εκζητεω, a late and rare verb outside of LXX and N.T., requiring as a debt the blood of the prophets.

Which was shed (το εκκεχυμενον). Perfect passive participle of εκχεω and εκχυννω (an Aeolic form appearing in the margin of Westcott and Hort here, εκχυννομενον, present passive participle). If the present passive is accepted, it means the blood which is perpetually shed from time to time.

From the foundation of the world (απο καταβολης κοσμου). See also Matthew 25:34; John 17:24; Ephesians 1:4, etc. It is a bold metaphor for the purpose of God.

Verse 51

From the blood of Abel to the blood of Zachariah (απο αιματος Αβελ εως αιματος Ζαχαριου). The blood of Abel is the first shed in the Old Testament (Genesis 4:10), that of Zacharias the last in the O.T. canon which ended with Chronicles (2 Chronicles 24:22). Chronologically the murder of Uriah by Jehoiakim was later (Jeremiah 26:23), but this climax is from Genesis to II Chronicles (the last book in the canon). See on Matthew 23:35 for discussion of Zachariah as "the son of Barachiah" rather than "the son of Jehoiada."

Between the altar and the sanctuary (μεταξυ του θυσιαστηριου κα του οικου). Literally, between the altar and the house (Matthew 23:35 has temple, ναου).

Verse 52

Ye took away the key of knowledge (ηρατε την κλειδα της γνωσεως). First aorist active indicative of αιρω, common verb. But this is a flat charge of obscurantism on the part of these scribes (lawyers), the teachers (rabbis) of the people. They themselves (αυτο) refused to go into the house of knowledge (beautiful figure) and learn. They then locked the door and hid the key to the house of knowledge and hindered (εκωλυσατε, effective aorist active) those who were trying to enter (τους εισερχομενους, present participle, conative action). It is the most pitiful picture imaginable of blind ecclesiastics trying to keep others as blind as they were, blind leaders of the blind, both falling into the pit.

Verse 53

From thence (κ'ακειθεν). Out of the Pharisee's house. What became of the breakfast we are not told, but the rage of both Pharisees and lawyers knew no bounds.

To press upon him (ενεχειν). An old Greek verb to hold in, to be enraged at, to have it in for one. It is the same verb used of the relentless hatred of Herodias for John the Baptist (Mark 6:19).

To provoke him to speak (αποστοματιζειν). From απο and στομα (mouth). Plato uses it of repeating to a pupil for him to recite from memory, then to recite by heart (Plutarch). Here (alone in the N.T.) the verb means to ply with questions, to entice to answers, to catechize.

Of many things (περ πλειονων). "Concerning more (comparative) things." They were stung to the quick by these woes which laid bare their hollow hypocrisy.

Verse 54

Laying wait for him (ενεδρευοντες αυτον). An old verb from εν and εδρα, a seat, so to lie in ambush for one. Here only and Acts 23:21 in the N.T. Vivid picture of the anger of these rabbis who were treating Jesus as if he were a beast of prey.

To catch something out of his mouth (θηρευσα το εκ του στοματος αυτου). An old Greek verb, though here only in the N.T., from θηρα (cf. Romans 11:9), to ensnare, to catch in hunting, to hunt. These graphic words from the chase show the rage of the rabbis toward Jesus. Luke gives more details here than in Luke 20:45-47; Matthew 23:1-7, but there is no reason at all why Jesus should not have had this conflict at the Pharisee's breakfast before that in the temple in the great Tuesday debate.

Copyright Statement
The Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament. Copyright © Broadman Press 1932,33, Renewal 1960. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Broadman Press (Southern Baptist Sunday School Board)
Bibliographical Information
Robertson, A.T. "Commentary on Luke 11". "Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/rwp/luke-11.html. Broadman Press 1932,33. Renewal 1960.