Bible Commentaries

Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament

Luke 13

Verse 1

At that very season (εν αυτωι τωι καιρωιen autōi tōi kairōi). Luke‘s frequent idiom, “at the season itself.” Apparently in close connexion with the preceding discourses. Probably “were present” (παρησανparēsan imperfect of παρειμιpareimi) 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 εμιχεν μετα των τυσιων αυτωνhōn to haima Peilatos emixen meta tōn thusiōn autōn). The verb εμιχενemixen is first aorist active (not past perfect) of μιγνυμιmignumi 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 (αμαρτωλοι παρα πανταςhamartōloi para pantas). ΠαραPara means “beside,” placed beside all the Galileans, and so beyond or above (with the accusative).

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

Verse 3

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

Ye shall perish (απολειστεapoleisthe). Future middle indicative of απολλυμιapollumi and intransitive. Common verb.

Verse 4

The tower in Siloam (ο πυργος εν Σιλωαμho purgos en Silōam). 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 (οπειλεταιopheiletai). Literally, debtors, not sinners as in Luke 13:2 and as the Authorized Version renders here. See note on Luke 7:41; Luke 11:4; Matthew 6:12; Matthew 18:24-34.

Verse 5

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

Verse 6

Planted (πεπυτευμενηνpephuteumenēn). Perfect passive participle of πυτευωphuteuō to plant, an old verb, from πυτονphuton a plant, and that from πυωphuō to grow. But this participle with ειχενeichen (imperfect active of εχωechō) 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 αμπελουργονton ampelourgon). Old word, but here only in the N.T., from αμπελοςampelos vine, and εργονergon work.

These three years I come (τρια ετη απ ου ερχομαιtria etē aph' hou erchomai). 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 (εκκοπσονekkopson). “Cut it out,” the Greek has it, out of the vineyard, perfective use of εκek with the effective aorist active imperative of κοπτωkoptō where we prefer “down.”

Why? (ινα τιhina ti). Ellipsis here of γενηταιgenētai of which τιti is subject (Robertson, Grammar, pp. 739, 916).

Also (καιkai). Besides bearing no fruit.

Doth cumber the ground (την γην καταργειtēn gēn katargei). Makes the ground completely idle, of no use (κατα αργεωkata αργοςargeō from αargos εργονa privative and ergon work). Late verb, here only in the N.T. except in Paul‘s Epistles.

Verse 8

Till I shall dig (εως οτου σκαπσωheōs hotou skapsō). First aorist active subjunctive like βαλωbalō (second aorist active subjunctive of βαλλωballō), both common verbs.

Dung it (βαλω κοπριαbalō kopria). Cast dung around it, manure it. ΚοπριαKopria late word, here alone in the N.T.

Verse 9

And if it bear fruit thenceforth (καν μεν ποιησηι καρπον εις το μελλονk'an men poiēsēi karpon eis to mellon). 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 διδασκωνēn didaskōn). Periphrastic imperfect active.

Verse 11

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

She was bowed together (ην συνκυπτουσαēn sunkuptousa). Periphrastic imperfect active of συνκυπτωsunkuptō 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 (και μη δυναμενη ανακυπσαι εις το παντελεςkai mē dunamenē anakupsai eis to panteles). Negative form of the previous statement. ΑνακυπσαιAnakupsai first aorist active infinitive of ανακυπτωanakuptō (ανα κυπτωana συνkuptō same verb above compounded with εις το παντελεςsun). Unable to bend herself up or back at all (eis to panteles 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 (προσεπωνησενprosephōnēsen). To come to him (προςpros).

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

Verse 13

He laid his hands upon her (επετηκεν αυτηι τας χειραςepethēken autēi tas cheiras). First aorist active indicative of επιτιτημιepitithēmi As the Great Physician with gentle kindness.

She was made straight (ανωρτωτηanōrthōthē). First aorist (effective) passive indicative of ανορτοωanorthoō 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 (εδοχαζεν τον τεονedoxazen ton theon). Imperfect active. Began it (inchoative) and kept it up.

Verse 14

Answered (αποκριτειςapokritheis). First aorist passive participle of αποκρινομαιapokrinomai No one had spoken to him, but he felt his importance as the ruler of the synagogue and was indignant (αγανακτωνaganaktōn from αγανagan and αχομαιachomai 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 (τωι οχλωιtōi ochlōi).

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

And not (και μηkai mē). Instead of και ουkai ou because in the imperative clause.

Verse 15

The Lord answered him (απεκριτη δε αυτωι ο Κυριοςapekrithē de autōi ho Kurios). 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 (υποκριταιhupokritai). This pretentious faultfinder and all who agree with him.

Each of you (εκαστος υμωνhekastos humōn). 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 (πατνηςphatnēs). 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 (ποτιζειpotizei). Old verb, causative, to give to drink.

Verse 16

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

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

Whom Satan bound (ην εδησεν ο Σαταναςhēn edēsen ho Satanas). Definite statement that her disease was due to Satan.

Verse 17

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

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

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

Verse 18

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

Verse 19

A grain of mustard seed (κοκκωι σιναπεωςkokkōi sinapeōs). 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 εαυτουebalen eis kēpon heautou). Different from “earth” (Mark) or “field” (Matthew.)” ΚηποςKēpos 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 δενδρονegeneto eis dendron). Common Hebraism, very frequent in lxx, only in Luke in the N.T., but does appear in Koiné though rare in papyri; this use of ειςeis after words like κατεσκηνωσενginomai It is a translation Hebraism in Luke.

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

Verse 20

Whereunto shall I liken? (Τινι ομοιωσωTini homoiōsō̱). This question alone in Luke here as in Luke 13:8. But the parable is precisely like that in Matthew 13:33, which see note for details.

Verse 22

Journeying on unto Jerusalem (πορειαν ποιουμενος εις Ιεροσολυμαporeian poioumenos eis Ierosoluma). Making his way to Jerusalem. Note tenses here of continued action, and distributive use of καταkata with cities and villages. This is the second of the journeys to Jerusalem in this later ministry corresponding to that in John 11.

Verse 23

Are they few that be saved? (ει ολιγοι οι σωζομενοιei oligoi hoi sōzomenoi̱). Note use of ειei as an interrogative which can be explained as ellipsis or as ειηei = (Robertson, Grammar, p. 1024). This was an academic theological problem with the rabbis, the number of the elect.

Verse 24

Strive (αγωνιζεστεagōnizesthe). Jesus makes short shrift of the question. He includes others (present middle plural of αγωνιζομαιagōnizomai common verb, our agonize). Originally it was to contend for a prize in the games. The kindred word αγωνιαagōnia 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 (πυληςpulēs) while here it is the entrance to the house, “the narrow door” (τυραςthuras).

Verse 25

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

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

And ye begin (αρχομαιkai arxēsthe). First aorist middle subjunctive of απ ου ανarchomai with εγερτηιaph' hou an like αποκλεισηιegerthēi and εσταναιapokleisēi stand (ιστημιhestanai). Second perfect active infinitive of και κρουεινhistēmi intransitive tense and to knock (ανοιχον ημινkai krouein). Present active infinitive, to keep on knocking.

Open to us (ερειanoixon hēmin). First aorist active imperative, at once and urgent.

He shall say (ειπονerei). Future active of απ ουeipon (defective verb). This is probably the apodosis of the aph' hou clause.

Verse 26

Shall ye begin (αρχεστεarxesthe). Future middle, though Westcott and Hort put αρχηστεarxēsthe (aorist middle subjunctive of αρχομαιarchomai) and in that case a continuation of the απ ουaph' hou construction. It is a difficult passage and the copyists had trouble with it.

In thy presence (ενωπιον σουenōpion sou). 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 ποτεν εστεouk oida pothen este). 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 Psalm 8:9 as in Matthew 7:23, there as in the lxx, here with παντες εργαται αδικιαςpantes ergatai adikias there with οι εργαζομενοι την ανομιανhoi ergazomenoi tēn anomian But αποστητεapostēte (second aorist active imperative) here, and there αποχωρειτεapochōreite (present active imperative).

Verse 28

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

When ye shall see (οταν οπσηστεhotan opsēsthe). First aorist middle subjunctive (of a late aorist ωπσαμηνōpsamēn) of οραωhoraō though οπσεστεopsesthe (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 εχωhumās de ekballomenous exō). Present passive participle, continuous action, “you being cast out” with the door shut. See notes on Matthew 8:11. for this same picture.

Verse 29

Shall sit down (ανακλιτησονταιanaklithēsontai). 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 (εσχατοιeschatoi). This saying was repeated many times (Matthew 19:30; Mark 10:31; Matthew 20:16).

Verse 31

In that very hour (εν αυτηι τηι ωραιen autēi tēi hōrāi). Luke‘s favourite notation of time.

Pharisees (ΠαρισαιοιPharisaioi). 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 (τηι αλωπεκι ταυτηιtēi alōpeki tautēi). 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 (ιασειςiaseis). Old word, but in the N.T. only here and Acts 4:22, Acts 4:30.

I am perfected (τελειουμαιteleioumai). Present passive indicative of τελειοωteleioō old verb from τελειοςteleios 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 (τηι εχομενηιtēi echomenēi). See note on Acts 20:15. The same as the third day in Luke 13:32. A proverb.

It cannot be (ουκ ενδεχεταιouk endechetai). 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 ΙερουσαλημIerousalēm επισυναχαιIerousalēm). 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 επισυναγαγεινepisunaxai (late first aorist active infinitive) and in Matthew επισυναγωepisunagagein (second aorist active infinitive), both from ποσακις ητελησαepisunagō a double compound of late Greek (Polybius). Both have “How often would I” (ον τροπονposakis ēthelēsa). 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 (νοσσιανhon tropon). Accusative of general reference and in Matthew 23:37 also. Incorporation of antecedent into the relative clause.

Brood (νοσσιαnossian) is in Luke while Matthew has chickens (νεοσσιαnossia), both late forms for the older ερημοςneossia The adjective desolate (erēmos) is wanting in Luke 13:35 and is doubtful in Matthew 23:39.

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 13". "Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament". Broadman Press 1932,33. Renewal 1960.