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Bible Commentaries

Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament

Luke 19

Verse 1

Was passing through (διηρχετο). Imperfect middle. Now Jesus was inside the Roman Jericho with the procession.

Verse 2

Chief publican (αρχιτελωνης). The word occurs nowhere else apparently but the meaning is clear from the other words with αρχι- like αρχιερευς (chief priest) αρχιποιμην (chief shepherd). Jericho was an important trading point for balsam and other things and so Zacchaeus was the head of the tax collections in this region, a sort of commissioner of taxes who probably had other publicans serving under him.

Verse 3

He sought (εζητε). Imperfect active. He was seeking, conative idea.

Jesus who he was (Ιησουν τις εστιν). Prolepsis, to see who Jesus was. He had heard so much about him. He wanted to see which one of the crowd was Jesus.

For the crowd (απο του οχλου). He was short and the crowd was thick and close.

Stature (τη ηλικια). No doubt of that meaning here and possibly so in Luke 2:52. Elsewhere "age" except Luke 12:25; Matthew 6:27 where it is probably "stature" also.

Verse 4

Ran on before (προδραμων εις το εμπροσθεν). Second aorist active participle of προτρεχω (defective verb). "Before" occurs twice (προ- and εις το εμπροσθεν).

Into a sycamore tree (επ συκομορεαν). From συκον, fig, and μορον, mulberry. The fig-mulberry and quite a different tree from the sycamine tree in Luke 17:6, which see. It bore a poor fruit which poor people ate (Amos 7:14). It was a wide open tree with low branches so that Zacchaeus could easily climb into it.

That way (εκεινης). Feminine for οδος (way) is understood. Genitive case with δ in composition (διερχεσθα) or as an adverbial use.

Verse 5

Make haste and come down (σπευσας καταβηθ). Simultaneous aorist active participle (σπευσας) with the second aorist active imperative. "Come down in a hurry."

Verse 6

He made haste and came down (σπευσας κατεβη). Luke repeats the very words of Jesus with the same idiom.

Received him joyfully (υπεδεξατο αυτον χαιρων). The very verb used of Martha's welcome to Jesus (Luke 10:38). "Joyfully" is the present active participle, "rejoicing" (χαιρων).

Verse 7

Murmured (διεγογγυζοντο). Imperfect middle of this compound onomatopoetic word δια γογγυζω. In Luke 5:30 we have the simple γογγυζω, a late word like the cooing doves or the hum of bees. This compound with δια- is still rarer, but more expressive.

To lodge (καταλυσα). Jesus was the hero of this crowd from Galilee on their way to the passover. But here he had shocked their sensibilities and those of the people of Jericho by inviting himself to be the guest of this chief publican and notorious sinner who had robbed nearly everybody in the city by exorbitant taxes.

Verse 8

Stood (σταθεις). Apparently Jesus and Zacchaeus had come to the house of Zacchaeus and were about to enter when the murmur became such a roar that Zacchaeus turned round and faced the crowd.

If I have wrongfully exacted aught of any man (ε τινος τ εσυκοφαντησα). A most significant admission and confession. It is a condition of the first class (ε and the aorist active indicative) that assumes it to be true. His own conscience was at work. He may have heard audible murmurs from the crowd. For the verb συκοφαντειν, see discussion on Luke 3:14, the only two instances in the N.T. He had extorted money wrongfully as they all knew.

I return fourfold (αποδιδωμ τετραπλουν). I offer to do it here and now on this spot. This was the Mosaic law (Exodus 22:1; Numbers 5:6). Restitution is good proof of a change of heart. D. L. Moody used to preach it with great power. Without this the offer of Zacchaeus to give half his goods to the poor would be less effective. "It is an odd coincidence, nothing more, that the fig-mulberry (sycamore) should occur in connexion with the fig-shewer (sycophant)."

Verse 10

The lost (το απολωλος). The neuter as a collective whole, second perfect active participle of απολλυμ, to destroy. See Luke 19:15 for the idea of the lost.

Verse 11

He added and spake (προσθεις ειπεν). Second aorist active participle of προστιθημ with ειπεν. It is a Hebrew idiom seen also in Luke 20:1 he added to send (προσεθετο πεμψα) and in Acts 12:3 "he added to seize" (προσεθετο συλλαβειν). This undoubted Hebraism occurs in the N.T. in Luke only, probably due to the influence of the LXX on Luke the Greek Christian.

To appear (αναφαινεσθα). Present passive infinitive of an old verb to be made manifest, to be shown up. In the N.T. only here and Acts 21:3.

Verse 12

To take to himself a kingdom (λαβειν εαυτω βασιλειαν). Second aorist active infinitive of λαμβανω with the dative reflexive εαυτω where the middle voice could have been used. Apparently this parable has the historical basis of Archelaus who actually went from Jerusalem to Rome on this very errand to get a kingdom in Palestine and to come back to it. This happened while Jesus was a boy in Nazareth and it was a matter of common knowledge.

Verse 13

Trade ye herewith till I come (πραγματευσασθε εν ω ερχομα). First aorist middle imperative of πραγματευομα, an old verb from πραγμα, business. Here only in the N.T. Westcott and Hort in their text read πραγματευσασθα, first aorist middle infinitive ( and were pronounced alike). The infinitive makes it indirect discourse, the imperative direct.

While I am coming is what εν ω ερχομα really means.

Verse 14

His citizens (ο πολιτα αυτου). That actually happened with Archelaus.

Verse 15

When he was come back again (εν τω επανελθειν αυτον). "On the coming back again as to him." Luke's favourite idiom of the articular infinitive after εν and with the accusative of general reference.

Had given (δεδωκε). Past perfect active indicative without augment of διδωμ.

That he might know (ινα γνο). Second aorist active subjunctive of γινοσκω. The optative would be γνοιη.

Verse 16

Hath made (προσηργασατο). Only here in the N.T. Note προσ- in addition, besides, more.

Verse 17

Have thou authority (ισθ εξουσιαν εχων). Periphrastic present active imperative. Keep on having authority.

Verse 19

Be thou also over (κα συ επανο γινου). Present middle imperative. Keep on becoming over. There is no real reason for identifying this parable of the pounds with the parable of the talents in Luke 19:25. The versatility of Jesus needs to be remembered by those who seek to flatten out everything.

Verse 20

I kept (ειχον). Imperfect active of εχω. I kept on keeping.

Laid up (αποκειμενην). Present passive participle agreeing with ην (which), used often as perfect passive of τιθημ as here, laid away or off (απο). It is not the periphrastic construction, but two separate verbs, each with its own force.

In a napkin (εν σουδαριω). A Latin word sudarium from sudor (sweat) transliterated into Greek, a sweatcloth handkerchief or napkin. Found in papyrus marriage contracts as part of the dowry (second and third centuries A.D., Deissmann, Bible Studies, p. 223). Used also for swathing the head of the dead (John 11:44; John 20:7).

Verse 21

I feared (εφοβουμην). Imperfect middle, I continued to fear.

Austere (αυστηρος). Old Greek word from αυω, to dry up. Reproduced in Latin austeros and English austere. It means rough to the taste, stringent. Here only in the N.T. Compare σκληρος (hard) in Matthew 25:24. "Harsh in flavour, then in disposition" (Bruce).

Thou layedst not down (ουκ εθηκας). Probably a proverb for a grasping profiteer.

Verse 22

Thou knewest (ηιδεις). Second past perfect of οραω, to see, used as imperfect of οιδα, to know. Either it must be taken as a question as Westcott and Hort do or be understood as sarcasm as the Revised Version has it. The words of the wicked (πονηρος) slave are turned to his own condemnation.

Verse 23

Then wherefore (κα δια τ). Note this inferential use of και- in that case.

Into the bank (επ τραπεζαν). Literally,

upon a table . This old word τραπεζα, from τετραπεζα (τετρα, four, πους, foot). It means then any table (Mark 7:28), food on the table (Acts 16:34), feast or banquet (Romans 11:9), table of the money-changers (John 2:15; Mark 11:15; Matthew 21:12), or bank as here. Our word bank is from Old English bench.

With interest (συν τοκω). Not usury, but proper and legal interest. Old word from τικτω, to bring forth. In the N.T. only here and Matthew 25:27.

Should have required it (αν αυτο επραξα). Conclusion of second-class condition the condition or apodosis being implied in the participle "coming" (ελθων), and the previous question. On this technical use of πρασσω (επραξα) see Luke 3:13.

Verse 25

And they said unto him (κα ειπαν αυτω). Probably the eager audience who had been listening to this wonderful parable interrupted Jesus at this point because of this sudden turn when the one pound is given to the man who has ten pounds. If so, it shows plainly how keenly they followed the story which Jesus was giving because of their excitement about the kingdom (Luke 19:11).

Verse 26

That hath not (του μη εχοντος). The present tense of εχω here, that keeps on not having, probably approaches the idea of acquiring or getting, the one who keeps on not acquiring. This is the law of nature and of grace.

Verse 27

Reign (βασιλευσα). First aorist active infinitive, ingressive aorist, come to rule.

Slay (κατασφαξατε). First aorist active imperative of κατασφαζω, to slaughter, an old verb, but only here in the N.T.

Verse 28

Went on before (επορευετο εμπροσθεν). Imperfect middle. Jesus left the parable to do its work and slowly went on his way up the hill to Jerusalem.

Verse 29

Unto Bethphage and Bethany (εις Βηθφαγη κα Βηθανια). Both indeclinable forms of the Hebrew or Aramaic names. In Mark 11:1 "Bethany" is inflected regularly, which see.

Of Olives (Ελαιων). As in Mark 11:1; Matthew 21:1, though some editors take it to be, not the genitive plural of ελαια (olive tree), but the name of the place Olivet. In the Greek it is just a matter of accent (circumflex or acute) Olivet is correct in Acts 1:12. See on Matthew 21:1; Mark 11:1 for details.

Verse 30

Whereon no man ever yet sat (εφ' ον ουδεις πωποτε ανθρωπων εκαθισεν). Plummer holds that this fact indicated to the disciples a royal progress into the city of a piece with the Virgin Birth of Jesus and the burial in a new tomb.

Verse 32

As he had said unto them (καθως ειπεν αυτοις). Luke alone notes this item.

Verse 33

As they were loosing (λυοντων αυτων). Genitive absolute.

The owners thereof (ο κυριο αυτου). The same word κυριος used of the Lord Jesus in verse Luke 19:31 (and Luke 19:34) and which these "owners" would understand. See on Matthew 21:3; Mark 11:3 for κυριος used by Jesus about himself with the expectation that these disciples would recognize him by that title as they did. The word in common use for the Roman emperor and in the LXX to translate the Hebrew Elohim (God).

Verse 35

Set Jesus thereon (επεβιβασαν τον Ιησουν). First aorist active. Old verb, to cause to mount, causative verb from βαινω, to go. In the N.T. only here and Luke 10:34; Acts 23:24.

Verse 36

They spread (υπεστρωννυον). Imperfect active describing the continued spreading as they went on. Hυποστρωννυω is a late form of the old verb υποστορεννυμ. Here only in the N.T.

Verse 37

At the descent (προς τη καταβασε). Epexegetic of "drawing nigh." They were going by the southern slope of the Mount of Olives. As they turned down to the city, the grand view stirred the crowd to rapturous enthusiasm. This was the first sight of the city on this route which is soon obscured in the descent. The second view bursts out again (verse Luke 19:41). It was a shout of triumph from the multitude with their long pent-up enthusiasm (verse Luke 19:11), restrained no longer by the parable of the pounds.

For all the mighty works which they had seen (περ πασων ειδον δυναμεων). Neat Greek idiom, incorporation of the antecedent (δυναμεων) into the relative clause and attraction of the case of the relative from the accusative ας to the genitive ων. And note "all." The climax had come, Lazarus, Bartimaeus, and the rest.

Verse 38

The king cometh (ο ερχομενοσ, ο βασιλευς). The Messianic hopes of the people were now all ablaze with expectation of immediate realization. A year ago in Galilee he had frustrated their plans for a revolutionary movement "to take him by force to make him king" (John 6:15). The phrase "the coming king" like "the coming prophet" (John 6:14; Deuteronomy 18:15) expressed the hope of the long-looked-for Messiah. They are singing from the Hallel in their joy that Jesus at last is making public proclamation of his Messiahship.

Peace in heaven, and glory in the highest (εν ουρανω ειρηνη κα δοξα εν υψιστοις). This language reminds one strongly of the song of the angels at the birth of Jesus (Luke 2:14). Mark 11:10; Matthew 21:9 have "Hosannah in the highest."

Verse 39

Some of the Pharisees (τινες των Φαρισαιων). Luke seems to imply by "from the multitude" (απο του οχλου) that these Pharisees were in the procession, perhaps half-hearted followers of the mob. But John 12:19 speaks of Pharisees who stood off from the procession and blamed each other for their failure and the triumph of Jesus. These may represent the bolder spirits of their same group who dared to demand of Jesus that he rebuke his disciples.

Verse 40

If these shall hold their peace (εαν ουτο σιωπησουσιν). A condition of the first class, determined as fulfilled. The use of εαν rather than ε cuts no figure in the case (see Acts 8:31; 1 Thessalonians 3:8; 1 John 5:15). The kind of condition is determined by the mode which is here indicative. The future tense by its very nature does approximate the aorist subjunctive, but after all it is the indicative.

The stones will cry out (ο λιθο κραξουσιν). A proverb for the impossible happening.

Verse 41

Wept (εκλαυσεν). Ingressive aorist active indicative, burst into tears. Probably audible weeping.

Verse 42

If thou hadst known (ε εγνως). Second aorist active indicative of γινωσκω. Second-class condition, determined as unfulfilled.

Even thou (κα συ). Emphatic position of the subject.

But now (νυν δε). Aposiopesis. The conclusion is not expressed and the sudden breaking off and change of structure is most impressive.

They are hid (εκρυβη). Second aorist passive indicative of κρυπτω, common verb, to hide.

Verse 43

Shall cast up a bank (παρεμβαλουσιν χαρακα). Future active indicative of παρεμβαλλω, a double compound (παρα, εν, βαλλω) of long usage, finally in a military sense of line of battle or in camp. Here alone in the N.T. So also the word χαρακα (χαραξ) for bank, stake, palisade, rampart, is here alone in the N.T., though common enough in the old Greek.

Compass thee round (περικυκλωσουσιν σε). Future active indicative. Another common compound to make a circle (κυκλος) around (περ), though here only in the N.T.

Keep thee in (συνεξουσιν σε). Shall hold thee together on every side (παντοθεν). See about συνεχω on Luke 4:38.

Verse 44

Shall dash to the ground (εδαφιουσιν). Attic future of εδαφιζω, to beat level, to raze to the ground, a rare verb from εδαφος, bottom, base, ground (Acts 22:7), here alone in the N.T.

Because (ανθ' ων). "In return for which things."

Thou knewest not (ουκ εγνως). Applying the very words of the lament in the condition in verse Luke 19:42. This vivid prophecy of the destruction of Jerusalem is used by those who deny predictive prophecy even for Jesus as proof that Luke wrote the Gospel after the destruction of Jerusalem. But it is no proof at all to those who concede to Jesus adequate knowledge of his mission and claims.

Verse 45

Began to cast out (ηρξατο εκβαλλειν). So Mark 11:15 whereas Matthew 21:12 has simply "he cast out." See Mark and Matthew for discussion of this second cleansing of the temple at the close of the public ministry in relation to the one at the beginning in John 2:14-22. There is nothing gained by accusing John or the Synoptics of a gross chronological blunder. There was abundant time in these three years for all the abuses to be revived.

Verse 47

He was teaching (ην διδασκων). Periphrastic imperfect.

Daily (το καθ' ημεραν). Note the accusative neuter article, "as to the according to the day," very awkward English surely, but perfectly good Greek. The same idiom occurs in Luke 11:3.

Sought (εζητουν). Imperfect active, conative imperfect, were seeking, trying to seek.

The principal men of the people (ο πρωτο του λαου). The first men of the people. The position after the verb and apart from the chief priests and the scribes calls special attention to them. Some of these "first men" were chief priests or scribes, but not all of them. The lights and leaders of Jerusalem were bent on the destruction (απολεσα) of Jesus. The raising of Lazarus from the dead brought them together for this action (John 11:47-53; John 12:9-11).

Verse 48

They could not find (ουχ ηυρισκον). Imperfect active. They kept on not finding.

What they might do (το τ ποιησωσιν). First aorist active deliberative subjunctive in a direct question retained in the indirect. Note the article το (neuter accusative) with the question.

Hung upon him (εξεκρεμετο αυτου). Imperfect middle of εκκρεμαμα, an old verb (μ form) to hang from, here only in the N.T. The form is an ομεγα form from εκκρεμομα, a constant tendency to the ομεγα form in the Koine. It pictures the whole nation (save the leaders in verse Luke 19:47) hanging upon the words of Jesus as if in suspense in mid-air, rapt attention that angered these same leaders. Tyndale renders it "stuck by him."

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