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Bible Commentaries
Luke 13

Robertson's Word Pictures in the New TestamentRobertson's Word Pictures

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Verse 1

At that very season (εν αυτω τω καιρω). Luke's frequent idiom, "at the season itself." Apparently in close connexion with the preceding discourses. Probably "were present" (παρησαν, imperfect of παρειμ) means "came," "stepped to his side," as often (Matthew 26:50; Acts 12:20; John 11:28). These people had a piece of news for Jesus.

Whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices (ων το αιμα Πειλατος εμιξεν μετα των θυσιων αυτων). The verb εμιξεν is first aorist active (not past perfect) of μιγνυμ, a common verb. The incident is recorded nowhere else, but is in entire harmony with Pilate's record for outrages. These Galileans at a feast in Jerusalem may have been involved in some insurrection against the Roman government, the leaders of whom Pilate had slain right in the temple courts where the sacrifices were going on. Jesus comments on the incident, but not as the reporters had expected. Instead of denunciation of Pilate he turned it into a parable for their own conduct in the uncertainty of life.

Verse 2

Sinners above all (αμαρτωλο παρα παντας). Παρα means "beside," placed beside all the Galileans, and so beyond or above (with the accusative).

Have suffered (πεπονθασιν). Second perfect active indicative third plural from πασχω, common verb, to experience, suffer. The tense notes that it is "an irrevocable fact" (Bruce).

Verse 3

Except ye repent (εαν μη μετανοητε). Present active subjunctive of μετανοεω, to change mind and conduct, linear action, keep on changing. Condition of third class, undetermined, but with prospect of determination.

Ye shall perish (απολεισθε). Future middle indicative of απολλυμ and intransitive. Common verb.

Verse 4

The tower in Siloam (ο πυργος εν Σιλωαμ). Few sites have been more clearly located than this. Jesus mentions this accident (only in Luke) of his own accord to illustrate still further the responsibility of his hearers. Jesus makes use of public events in both these incidents to teach spiritual lessons. He gives the "moral" to the massacre of the Galilean pilgrims and the "moral" of the catastrophe at Siloam.

Offenders (οφειλετα). Literally,

debtors , not sinners as in verse Luke 13:2 and as the Authorized Version renders here. See Luke 7:41; Luke 11:4; Matthew 6:12; Matthew 18:24-34.

Verse 5

Except ye repent (εαν μη μετανοησητε). First aorist active subjunctive, immediate repentance in contrast to continued repentance, μετανοητε in verse Luke 13:3, though Westcott and Hort put μετανοητε in the margin here. The interpretation of accidents is a difficult matter, but the moral pointed out by Jesus is obvious.

Verse 6

Planted (πεφυτευμενην). Perfect passive participle of φυτευω, to plant, an old verb, from φυτον, a plant, and that from φυω, to grow. But this participle with ειχεν (imperfect active of εχω) does not make a periphrastic past perfect like our English "had planted." It means rather, he had a fig tree, one already planted in his vineyard.

Verse 7

The vinedresser (τον αμπελουργον). Old word, but here only in the N.T., from αμπελος, vine, and εργον, work.

These three years I come (τρια ετη αφ' ου ερχομα). Literally, "three years since (from which time) I come." These three years, of course, have nothing to do with the three years of Christ's public ministry. The three years are counted from the time when the fig tree would normally be expected to bear, not from the time of planting. The Jewish nation is meant by this parable of the barren fig tree. In the withering of the barren fig tree later at Jerusalem we see parable changed to object lesson or fact (Mark 11:12-14; Matthew 21:18).

Cut it down (εκκοψον). "Cut it out," the Greek has it, out of the vineyard, perfective use of εκ with the effective aorist active imperative of κοπτω, where we prefer "down."

Why? (ινα τ). Ellipsis here of γενητα of which τ is subject (Robertson, Grammar, pp. 739,916).

Also (κα). Besides bearing no fruit.

Doth cumber the ground (την γην καταργε). Makes the ground completely idle, of no use (κατα, αργεω, from αργος, α privative and εργον, work). Late verb, here only in the N.T. except in Paul's Epistles.

Verse 8

Till I shall dig (εως οτου σκαψω). First aorist active subjunctive like βαλω (second aorist active subjunctive of βαλλω), both common verbs.

Dung it (βαλω κοπρια). Cast dung around it, manure it. Κοπρια, late word, here alone in the N.T.

Verse 9

And if it bear fruit thenceforth (κ'αν μεν ποιηση καρπον εις το μελλον). Aposiopesis, sudden breaking off for effect (Robertson, Grammar, p. 1203). See it also in Mark 11:32; Acts 23:9. Trench (Parables) tells a story like this of intercession for the fig tree for one year more which is widely current among the Arabs today who say that it will certainly bear fruit this time.

Verse 10

He was teaching (ην διδασκων). Periphrastic imperfect active.

Verse 11

A spirit of infirmity (πνευμα ασθενειας). A spirit that caused the weakness (ασθενειας, lack of strength) like a spirit of bondage (Romans 8:15), genitive case.

She was bowed together (ην συνκυπτουσα). Periphrastic imperfect active of συνκυπτω, old verb, here only in the N.T., to bend together, medical word for curvature of the spine.

And could in no wise lift herself up (κα μη δυναμενη ανακυψα εις το παντελες). Negative form of the previous statement. Ανακυψα, first aorist active infinitive of ανακυπτω (ανα, κυπτω, same verb above compounded with συν). Unable to bend herself up or back at all (εις το παντελες, wholly as in Hebrews 7:25 only other passage in the N.T. where it occurs). The poor old woman had to come in all bent over.

Verse 12

He called her (προσεφωνησεν). To come to him (προς).

Thou art loosed (απολελυσα). Perfect passive indicative of απολυω, common verb, loosed to stay free. Only N.T. example of use about disease.

Verse 13

He laid his hands upon her (επεθηκεν αυτη τας χειρας). First aorist active indicative of επιτιθημ. As the Great Physician with gentle kindness.

She was made straight (ανωρθωθη). First aorist (effective) passive indicative of ανορθοω, old verb, but only three times in the N.T. (Luke 13:13; Hebrews 12:12; Acts 15:16), to make straight again. Here it has the literal sense of making straight the old woman's crooked back.

She glorified God (εδοξαζεν τον θεον). Imperfect active. Began it (inchoative) and kept it up.

Verse 14

Answered (αποκριθεις). First aorist passive participle of αποκρινομα. No one had spoken to him, but he felt his importance as the ruler of the synagogue and was indignant (αγανακτων, from αγαν and αχομα, to feel much pain). His words have a ludicrous sound as if all the people had to do to get their crooked backs straightened out was to come round to his synagogue during the week. He forgot that this poor old woman had been coming for eighteen years with no result. He was angry with Jesus, but he spoke to the multitude (τω οχλω).

Ought (δε). Really, must, necessary, a direct hit at Jesus who had "worked" on the sabbath in healing this old woman.

And not (κα μη). Instead of κα ου, because in the imperative clause.

Verse 15

The Lord answered him (απεκριθη δε αυτω ο Κυριος). Note use of "the Lord" of Jesus again in Luke's narrative. Jesus answered the ruler of the synagogue who had spoken to the crowd, but about Jesus. It was a crushing and overwhelming reply.

Hypocrites (υποκριτα). This pretentious faultfinder and all who agree with him.

Each of you (εκαστος υμων). An argumentum ad hominen. These very critics of Jesus cared too much for an ox or an ass to leave it all the sabbath without water.

Stall (φατνης). Old word, in the N.T. only here and Luke 2:7; Luke 2:12; Luke 2:16 the manger where the infant Jesus was placed.

To watering (ποτιζε). Old verb, causative, to give to drink.

Verse 16

Daughter of Abraham (θυγατερα Αβρααμ). Triple argument, human being and not an ox or ass, woman, daughter of Abraham (Jewess), besides being old and ill.

Ought not (ουκ εδε). Imperfect active. Of necessity. Jesus simply had to heal her even if on the sabbath.

Whom Sƒtan bound (ην εδησεν ο Σατανας). Definite statement that her disease was due to Satan.

Verse 17

Were put to shame (κατηισχυνοντο). Imperfect passive of καταισχυνω, old verb, to make ashamed, make one feel ashamed. Passive here, to blush with shame at their predicament.

Rejoiced (εχαιρεν). Imperfect active. Sharp contrast in the emotions of the two groups.

Were done (γινομενοις). Present middle participle, were continually being done.

Verse 18

He said therefore (ελεγεν ουν). It is not clear to what to refer "therefore," whether to the case of the woman in verse Luke 13:11, the enthusiasm of the crowd in verse Luke 13:17, or to something not recorded by Luke.

Verse 19

A grain of mustard seed (κοκκω σιναπεως). Either the sinapis nigra or the salvadora persica, both of which have small seeds and grow to twelve feet at times. The Jews had a proverb: "Small as a mustard seed." Given by Mark 4:30-32; Matthew 13:31 in the first great group of parables, but just the sort to be repeated.

Cast into his own garden (εβαλεν εις κηπον εαυτου). Different from "earth" (Mark) or "field" (Matthew.)" Κηπος, old word for garden, only here in the N.T. and John 19:1; John 19:26; John 19:41.

Became a tree (εγενετο εις δενδρον). Common Hebraism, very frequent in LXX, only in Luke in the N.T., but does appear in Koine though rare in papyri; this use of εις after words like ginomai. It is a translation Hebraism in Luke.

Lodged (κατεσκηνωσεν). Mark and Matthew have κατασκηνοιν infinitive of the same verb, to make tent (or nest).

Verse 20

Whereunto shall I liken? (Τιν ομοιωσω;). This question alone in Luke here as in verse Luke 13:18. But the parable is precisely like that in Matthew 13:33, which see for details.

Verse 22

Journeying on unto Jerusalem (πορειαν ποιουμενος εις Ιεροσολυμα). Making his way to Jerusalem. Note tenses here of continued action, and distributive use of κατα with cities and villages. This is the second of the journeys to Jerusalem in this later ministry corresponding to that in Luke 13:11.

Verse 23

Are they few that be saved? (ε ολιγο ο σωζομενοι;). Note use of ε as an interrogative which can be explained as ellipsis or as ει=η (Robertson, Grammar, p. 1024). This was an academic theological problem with the rabbis, the number of the elect.

Verse 24

Strive (αγωνιζεσθε). Jesus makes short shrift of the question. He includes others (present middle plural of αγωνιζομα, common verb, our agonize). Originally it was to contend for a prize in the games. The kindred word αγωνια occurs of Christ's struggle in Gethsemane (Luke 22:44). The narrow gate appears also in Matthew 7:13, only there it is an outside gate (πυλης) while here it is the entrance to the house, "the narrow door" (θυρας).

Verse 25

When once (αφ' ου αν). Possibly to be connected without break with the preceding verse (so Westcott and Hort), though Bruce argues for two parables here, the former (verse Luke 13:24) about being in earnest, while this one (verses Luke 13:25-30) about not being too late. The two points are here undoubtedly. It is an awkward construction, αφ' ου = απο τουτου οτε with αν and the aorist subjunctive (εγερθη and αποκλειση). See Robertson, Grammar, p. 978.

Hath shut to (αποκλειση), first aorist active subjunctive of αποκλειω, old verb, but only here in the N.T. Note effective aorist tense and perfective use of απο, slammed the door fast.

And ye begin (κα αρξησθε). First aorist middle subjunctive of αρχομα with αφ' ου αν like εγερθη and αποκλειση.

To stand (εστανα). Second perfect active infinitive of ιστημ, intransitive tense

and to knock (κα κρουειν). Present active infinitive, to keep on knocking.

Open to us (ανοιξον ημιν). First aorist active imperative, at once and urgent.

He shall say (ερε). Future active of ειπον (defective verb). This is probably the apodosis of the αφ' ου clause.

Verse 26

Shall ye begin (αρξεσθε). Future middle, though Westcott and Hort put αρξησθε (aorist middle subjunctive of αρχομα) and in that case a continuation of the αφ' ου construction. It is a difficult passage and the copyists had trouble with it.

In thy presence (ενωπιον σου). As guests or hosts or neighbours some claim, or the master of the house. It is grotesque to claim credit because Christ taught in their streets, but they are hard run for excuses and claims.

Verse 27

I know not whence ye are (ουκ οιδα ποθεν εστε). This blunt statement cuts the matter short and sweeps away the flimsy cobwebs. Acquaintance with Christ in the flesh does not open the door. Jesus quotes Psalms 8:9 as in Matthew 7:23, there as in the LXX, here with παντες εργατα αδικιας, there with ο εργαζομενο την ανομιαν. But αποστητε (second aorist active imperative) here, and there αποχωρειτε (present active imperative).

Verse 28

There (εκε). Out there, outside the house whence they are driven.

When ye shall see (οταν οψησθε). First aorist middle subjunctive (of a late aorist ωψαμην) of οραω, though οψεσθε (future middle) in margin of Westcott and Hort, unless we admit here a "future" subjunctive like Byzantine Greek (after Latin).

And yourselves cast forth without (υμας δε εκβαλλομενους εξω). Present passive participle, continuous action, "you being cast out" with the door shut. See on Matthew 8:11 for this same picture.

Verse 29

Shall sit down (ανακλιθησοντα). Future passive indicative third plural. Recline, of course, is the figure of this heavenly banquet. Jesus does not mean that these will be saved in different ways, but only that many will come from all the four quarters of the earth.

Verse 30

Last (εσχατο). This saying was repeated many times (Matthew 19:30; Mark 10:31; Matthew 20:16).

Verse 31

In that very hour (εν αυτη τη ωρα). Luke's favourite notation of time.

Pharisees (Φαρισαιο). Here we see the Pharisees in a new role, warning Jesus against the machinations of Herod, when they are plotting themselves.

Verse 32

That fox (τη αλωπεκ ταυτη). This epithet for the cunning and cowardice of Herod shows clearly that Jesus understood the real attitude and character of the man who had put John the Baptist to death and evidently wanted to get Jesus into his power in spite of his superstitious fears that he might be John the Baptist redivivus. The message of Jesus means that he is independent of the plots and schemes of both Herod and the Pharisees. The preacher is often put in a tight place by politicians who are quite willing to see him shorn of all real power.

Cures (ιασεις). Old word, but in the N.T. only here and Acts 4:22; Acts 4:30.

I am perfected (τελειουμα). Present passive indicative of τελειοω, old verb from τελειος, to bring to perfection, frequent in the N.T. Used in Hebrews 2:10 of the Father's purpose in the humanity of Christ. Perfect humanity is a process and Jesus was passing through that, without sin, but not without temptation and suffering. It is the prophetic present with the sense of the future.

Verse 33

The day following (τη εχομενη). See Acts 20:15. The same as the third day in verse Luke 13:32. A proverb.

It cannot be (ουκ ενδεχετα). It is not accepted, it is inadmissible. A severely ironical indictment of Jerusalem. The shadow of the Cross reaches Perea where Jesus now is as he starts toward Jerusalem.

Verse 34

O Jerusalem, Jerusalem (Ιερουσαλημ, Ιερουσαλημ). In Matthew 23:37 Jesus utters a similar lament over Jerusalem. The connection suits both there and here, but Plummer considers it "rather a violent hypothesis" to suppose that Jesus spoke these words twice. It is possible, of course, though not like Luke's usual method, that he put the words here because of the mention of Jerusalem. In itself it is not easy to see why Jesus could not have made the lament both here and in Jerusalem. The language of the apostrophe is almost identical in both places (Luke 13:34; Matthew 23:37-39). For details see on Matthew. In Luke we have επισυναξα (late first aorist active infinitive) and in Matthew επισυναγαγειν (second aorist active infinitive), both from επισυναγω, a double compound of late Greek (Polybius). Both have "How often would I" (ποσακις ηθελησα). How often did I wish. Clearly showing that Jesus made repeated visits to Jerusalem as we know otherwise only from John's Gospel.

Even as (ον τροπον). Accusative of general reference and in Matthew 23:37 also. Incorporation of antecedent into the relative clause.

Brood (νοσσιαν) is in Luke while Matthew has

chickens (νοσσια), both late forms for the older νεοσσια. The adjective

desolate (ερημος) is wanting in Luke 13:35 and is doubtful in Matthew 23:39.

Bibliographical Information
Robertson, A.T. "Commentary on Luke 13". "Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/rwp/luke-13.html. Broadman Press 1932,33. Renewal 1960.
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