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Bible Commentaries

Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament

Luke 17

Verse 1

It is impossible (ανενδεκτον εστιν). See ουκ ενδεχετα in Luke 13:33. Alpha privative (αν-) and ενδεκτος, verbal adjective, from ενδεχομα. The word occurs only in late Greek and only here in the N.T. The meaning is inadmissible, unallowable.

But that occasions of stumbling should come (του τα σκανδαλα μη ελθειν). This genitive articular infinitive is not easy to explain. In Acts 10:25 there is another example where the genitive articular infinitive seems to be used as a nominative (Robertson, Grammar, p. 1040). The loose Hebrew infinitive construction may have a bearing here, but one may recall that the original infinitives were either locatives (-εν) or datives (). Τα σκανδαλα is simply the accusative of general reference. Literally, the not coming as to occasions of stumbling. For σκανδαλον (a trap) see on Matthew 5:29; Matthew 16:23. It is here only in Luke. The positive form of this saying appears in Matthew 18:7, which see.

Verse 2

It were well for him (λυσιτελε αυτω). An old word, but only here in the N.T., from λυσιτελης and this from λυω, to pay, and τα τελη, the taxes. So it pays the taxes, it returns expenses, it is profitable. Literally here, "It is profitable for him" (dative case, αυτω). Matthew has συμφερε (it is advantageous, bears together for).

If a millstone were hanged (ε λιθος μυλικος περικειτα). Literally, "if a millstone is hanged." Present passive indicative from περικειμα (to lie or be placed around). It is used as a perfect passive of περιτιθημ. So it is a first-class condition, determined as fulfilled, not second-class as the English translations imply. Μυλικος is simply a stone (λιθος), belonging to a mill. Here only in the text of Westcott and Hort, not in Mark 9:42 which is like Matthew 18:6 μυλος ονικος where the upper millstone is turned by an ass, which see.

Were thrown (ερριπτα). Perfect passive indicative from ριπτω, old verb. Literally, is thrown or has been thrown or cast or hurled. Mark has βεβλητα and Matthew καταποντισθη, which see, all three verbs vivid and expressive. Rather than (η). The comparative is not here expressed before η as one would expect. It is implied in λυσιτελε. See the same idiom in Luke 15:7.

Verse 3

If thy brother sin (εαν αμαρτη). Second aorist (ingressive) subjunctive in condition of third class.

Verse 4

Seven times in a day (επτακις της ημερας). Seven times within the day. On another occasion Peter's question (Matthew 18:21) brought Christ's answer "seventy times seven" (verse Luke 17:22), which see. Seven times during the day would be hard enough for the same offender.

Verse 5

Increase (προσθες). Second aorist active imperative of προστιθημ, to add to. Bruce thinks that this sounds much like the stereotyped petition in church prayers. A little reflection will show that they should answer the prayer themselves.

Verse 6

If ye have (ε εχετε). Condition of the first class, assumed to be true.

Ye would say (ελεγετε αν). Imperfect active with αν and so a conclusion (apodosis) of the second class, determined as unfulfilled, a mixed condition therefore.

Sycamine tree (συκαμινω). At the present time both the black mulberry (sycamine) and the white mulberry (sycamore) exist in Palestine. Luke alone in the N.T. uses either word, the sycamine here, the sycamore in Luke 19:4. The distinction is not observed in the LXX, but it is observed in the late Greek medical writers for both trees have medicinal properties. Hence it may be assumed that Luke, as a physician, makes the distinction. Both trees differ from the English sycamore. In Matthew 17:20 we have "mountain" in place of "sycamine tree."

Be thou rooted up (εκριζωθητ). First aorist passive imperative as is φυτευθητ.

Would have obeyed (υπηκουσεν αν). First aorist active indicative with αν, apodosis of a second-class condition (note aorist tense here, imperfect ελεγετε).

Verse 7

Sit down to meat (αναπεσε). Recline (for the meal). Literally, fall up (or back).

Verse 8

And will not rather say (αλλ' ουκ ερε).

But will not say? Ουκ in a question expects the affirmative answer.

Gird thyself (περιζωσαμενος). Direct middle first aorist participle of περιζωννυμ, to gird around.

Till I have eaten and drunken (εως φαγω κα πιω). More exactly, till I eat and drink. The second aorist subjunctives are not future perfects in any sense, simply punctiliar action, effective aorist.

Thou shalt eat and drink (φαγεσα κα πιεσα). Future middle indicative second person singular, the uncontracted forms -εσα as often in the Koine. These futures are from the aorist stems εφαγον and επιον without sigma.

Verse 9

Does he thank? (μη εχε χαριν;). Μη expects the negative answer. Εχω χαριν, to have gratitude toward one, is an old Greek idiom (1 Timothy 1:12; 2 Timothy 1:3; Hebrews 12:28).

Verse 10

Unprofitable (αχρειο). The Syriac Sinaitic omits "unprofitable." The word is common in Greek literature, but in the N.T. only here and Matthew 25:30 where it means "useless" (α privative and χρειος from χραομα, to use). The slave who only does what he is commanded by his master to do has gained no merit or credit. "In point of fact it is not commands, but demands we have to deal with, arising out of special emergencies" (Bruce). The slavish spirit gains no promotion in business life or in the kingdom of God.

Verse 11

Through the midst of Samaria and Galilee (δια μεσον Σαμαριας κα Γαλιλαιας). This is the only instance in the N.T. of δια with the accusative in the local sense of "through." Xenophon and Plato use δια μεσου (genitive). Jesus was going from Ephraim (John 11:54) north through the midst of Samaria and Galilee so as to cross over the Jordan near Bethshean and join the Galilean caravan down through Perea to Jerusalem. The Samaritans did not object to people going north away from Jerusalem, but did not like to see them going south towards the city (Luke 9:51-56).

Verse 12

Which stood afar off (ο ανεστησαν πορρωθεν). The margin of Westcott and Hort reads simply εστησαν. The compound read by B means "rose up," but they stood at a distance (Leviticus 13:45). The first healing of a leper (Luke 5:12-16) like this is given by Luke only.

Verse 13

Lifted up (ηραν). First aorist active of the liquid verb αιρω.

Verse 14

As they went (εν τω υπαγειν αυτους). Favourite Lukan idiom of εν with articular infinitive as in Luke 17:11 and often.

Verse 16

And he was a Samaritan (κα αυτος ην Σαμαρειτης). This touch colours the whole incident. The one man who felt grateful enough to come back and thank Jesus for the blessing was a despised Samaritan. The αυτος has point here.

Verse 18

Save this stranger (ε μη ο αλλογενης). The old word was αλλοφυλος (Acts 10:28), but αλλογενης occurs in the LXX, Josephus, and inscriptions. Deissmann (Light from the Ancient East, p. 80) gives the inscription from the limestone block from the Temple of Israel in Jerusalem which uses this very word which may have been read by Jesus:

Let no foreigner enter within the screen and enclosure surrounding the sanctuary (Μηθενα αλλογενη εισπορευεσθα εντος του περ το ιερον τρυφακτου κα περιβολου).

Verse 20

With observation (μετα παρατησεως). Late Greek word from παρατηρεω, to watch closely. Only here in the N.T. Medical writers use it of watching the symptoms of disease. It is used also of close astronomical observations. But close watching of external phenomena will not reveal the signs of the kingdom of God.

Verse 21

Within you (εντος υμων). This is the obvious, and, as I think, the necessary meaning of εντος. The examples cited of the use of εντος in Xenophon and Plato where εντος means "among" do not bear that out when investigated. Field (Ot. Norv.) "contends that there is no clear instance of εντος in the sense of among" (Bruce), and rightly so. What Jesus says to the Pharisees is that they, as others, are to look for the kingdom of God within themselves, not in outward displays and supernatural manifestations. It is not a localized display "Here" or "There." It is in this sense that in Luke 11:20 Jesus spoke of the kingdom of God as "come upon you" (εφθασεν εφ' υμας), speaking to Pharisees. The only other instance of εντος in the N.T. (Matthew 23:26) necessarily means "within" ("the inside of the cup"). There is, beside, the use of εντος meaning "within" in the Oxyrhynchus Papyrus saying of Jesus of the Third Century (Deissmann, Light from the Ancient East, p. 426) which is interesting: "The kingdom of heaven is within you" (εντος υμων as here in Luke 17:21).

Verse 23

Go not away nor follow after them (μη απελθητε μηδε διωξητε). Westcott and Hort bracket απελθητε μηδε. Note aorist subjunctive with μη in prohibition, ingressive aorist. Do not rush after those who set times and places for the second advent. The Messiah was already present in the first advent (verse Luke 17:21) though the Pharisees did not know it.

Verse 24

Lighteneth (αστραπτουσα). An old and common verb, though only here and Luke 24:4 in the N.T. The second coming will be sudden and universally visible. There are still some poor souls who are waiting in Jerusalem under the delusion that Jesus will come there and nowhere else.

Verse 25

But first (πρωτον δε). The second coming will be only after the Cross.

Verse 27

They ate, they drank, they married, they were given in marriage (ησθιον, επινον, εγαμουν, εγαμιζοντο). Imperfects all of them vividly picturing the life of the time of Noah. But the other tenses are aorists (Noah entered εισηλθεν, the flood came ηλθεν, destroyed απωλεσεν).

Verse 28

Note the same sharp contrast between the imperfects here ( ate ησθιον,

drank επινον,

bought ηγοραζον,

sold επωλουν,

planted εφυτευον,

builded ωικοδομουν) and the aorists in verse Luke 17:29 ( went out εξηλθεν,

rained εβρεξεν,

destroyed απωλεσεν).

Verse 30

Is revealed (αποκαλυπτετα). Prophetic and futuristic present passive indicative.

Verse 31

Let him not go down (μη καταβατω). Second aorist active imperative of καταβαινω with μη in a prohibition in the third person singular. The usual idiom here would be μη and the aorist subjunctive. See Mark 13:15; Matthew 24:17 when these words occur in the great eschatological discussion concerning flight before the destruction of Jerusalem. Here the application is "absolute indifference to all worldly interests as the attitude of readiness for the Son of Man" (Plummer).

Verse 32

Remember Lot's wife (μνημονευετε της γυναικος Λωτ). Here only in the N.T. A pertinent illustration to warn against looking back with yearning after what has been left behind (Genesis 19:26).

Verse 33

Shall preserve it (ζωογονησε αυτην). Or save it alive. Here only in the N.T. except 1 Timothy 6:13; Acts 7:19. It is a late word and common in medical writers, to bring forth alive (ζωοσ, γενω) and here to keep alive.

Verse 34

In that night (ταυτη τη νυκτ). More vivid still, "on this night," when Christ comes.

Verse 35

Shall be grinding (εσοντα αληθουσα). Periphrastic future active indicative of αληθω, an old verb only in the N.T. here and Matthew 24:41.

Together (επ το αυτο). In the same place, near together as in Acts 2:1.

Verse 37

The eagles (ο αετο). Or the vultures attracted by the carcass. This proverb is quoted also in Matthew 24:28. See Job 39:27-30; Hebrews 1:8; Hosea 8:1. Double compound (επι συν-) in επι συν αχθησοντα completes the picture.

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 17". "Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/rwp/luke-17.html. Broadman Press 1932,33. Renewal 1960.