Bible Commentaries
Luke 5

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

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Verse 1

Pressed upon him (επικεισθα). Luke in this paragraph (Luke 5:1-11; Mark 1:16-20; Matthew 4:18-22) does not follow the chronology of Mark as he usually does. It seems reasonably clear that the renewed call of the four fishermen came before the first tour of Galilee in Luke 4:42-44. It is here assumed that Luke is describing in his own way the incident given in Mark and Matthew above. Luke singles out Simon in a graphic way. This verb επικεισθα is an old one and means to λιε υπον, rest upon as of a stone on the tomb (John 11:38) or of fish on the burning coals (John 21:9). So it is used of a tempest (Acts 27:20) and of the urgent demands for Christ's crucifixion (Luke 23:23). Here it vividly pictures the eager crowds around Jesus. Εν τω επικεισθα is a favourite idiom with Luke as we have already seen, εν with the articular infinitive in the locative case.

That (κα). Κα does not technically mean the declarative conjunction "that," but it is a fair rendering of the somewhat awkward idiom of Luke to a certain extent imitating the Hebrew use of wav.

Was standing (ην εστως). Periphrastic second past perfect of ιστημ which here is equal to a practical imperfect.

By the lake (παρα την λιμνην). The use of the accusative with παρα, alongside, after a verb of rest used to be called the pregnant use, came and was standing. But that is no longer necessary, for the accusative as the case of extension is the oldest of the cases and in later Greek regains many of the earlier uses of the other cases employed for more precise distinctions. See the same idiom in verse Luke 5:2. We need not here stress the notion of extension. "With characteristic accuracy Luke never calls it a sea, while the others never call it a lake" (Plummer).

Verse 2

Two boats (πλοια δυο). Some MSS. have πλοιαρια, little boats, but πλοια was used of boats of various sizes, even of ships like νηες.

The fishermen (ο αλεεις). It is an old Homeric word that has come back to common use in the Koine. It means "sea-folk" from αλς, sea.

Were washing (επλυνον). Imperfect active, though some MSS. have aorist επλυναν. Vincent comments on Luke's use of five verbs for washing: this one for cleaning, απομασσω for wiping the dust from one's feet (Luke 10:11), εκμασσω of the sinful woman wiping Christ's feet with her hair (Luke 7:38; Luke 7:44), απολουω of washing away sins (symbolically, of course) as in Acts 22:16, and λουω of washing the body of Dorcas (Acts 9:37) and the stripes of the prisoners (Acts 16:33). On "nets" see on Matthew 4:20; Mark 1:18.

Verse 3

To put out a little (επαναγαγειν ολιγον). Second aorist infinitive of the double compound verb επ-αν-αγω, found in Xenophon and late Greek writers generally. Only twice in the N.T. In Matthew 21:18 in the sense of leading back or returning and here in the sense of leading a ship up upon the sea, to put out to sea, a nautical term.

Taught (εδικασκεν). Imperfect active, picturing Jesus teaching from the boat in which he was seated and so safe from the jam of the crowd. "Christ uses Peter's boat as a pulpit whence to throw the net of the Gospel over His hearers" (Plummer).

Verse 4

Had left speaking (επαυσατο λαλων). He ceased speaking (aorist middle indicative and present active participle, regular Greek idiom).

Put out into the deep (επαναγαγε εις το βαθος). The same double compound verb as in verse Luke 5:3, only here second aorist active imperative second person singular.

Let down (χαλασατε). Peter was master of the craft and so he was addressed first. First aorist active imperative second person plural. Here the whole crew are addressed. The verb is the regular nautical term for lowering cargo or boats (Acts 27:17; Acts 27:30). But it was used for lowering anything from a higher place (Mark 2:4; Acts 9:25; 2 Corinthians 11:33). For a catch (εις αγραν). This purpose was the startling thing that stirred up Simon.

Verse 5

Master (επιστατα). Used only by Luke in the N.T. and always in addresses to Christ (Luke 8:24; Luke 8:45; Luke 9:33; Luke 9:49; Luke 17:13). Common in the older writers for superintendent or overseer (one standing over another). This word recognizes Christ's authority.

We toiled (κοπιασαντες). This verb is from κοπος (wορκ, τοιλ) and occurs from Aristophanes on. It used to be said that the notion of weariness in toil appears only in the LXX and the N.T. But Deissmann (Light from the Ancient East, pp. 312f.) cites examples from inscriptions on tombstones quite in harmony with the use in the N.T. Peter's protest calls attention also to the whole night of fruitless toil.

But at thy word (επ δε τω ρηματ σου). On the base of επ. Acquiescence to show his obedience to Christ as "Master," but with no confidence whatsoever in the wisdom of this particular command. Besides, fishing in this lake was Peter's business and he really claimed superior knowledge on this occasion to that of Jesus.

Verse 6

They inclosed (συνεκλεισαν). Effective aorist active indicative with perfective compound συν.

They shut together. Were breaking (διερησσετο). Imperfect passive singular (δικτυα being neuter plural). This is the late form of the old verb διαρηγνυμ. The nets were actually tearing in two (δια-) and so they would lose all the fish.

Verse 7

They beckoned (κατενευσαν). Possibly they were too far away for a call to be understood. Simon alone had been ordered to put out into the deep. So they used signs.

Unto their partners (τοις μετεχοις). This word μετοχος, from μετεχω, to have with, means participation with one in common blessings (Hebrews 3:1; Hebrews 3:14; Hebrews 6:4; Hebrews 12:8). While κοινωνος (verse Luke 5:10 here of James and John also) has the notion of personal fellowship, partnership. Both terms are here employed of the two pairs of brothers who have a business company under Simon's lead.

Help them (συλλαβεσθα). Second aorist middle infinitive. Take hold together with and so to help. Paul uses it in Philippians 4:3. It is an old word that was sometimes employed for seizing a prisoner (Luke 22:54) and for conception (con-capio) by a woman (Luke 1:24).

So that they began to sink (ωστε βυθιζεσθα αυτα). Consecutive use of ωστε and the infinitive (present tense, inchoative use, beginning to sink). An old verb from βυθος. In the N.T. only here and 1 Timothy 6:9.

Verse 8

Fell down at Jesus' knees (προσεπεσεν τοις γονασιν Ιησου). Just like Peter, from extreme self-confidence and pride (verse Luke 5:5) to abject humilation. But his impulse here was right and sincere. His confession was true. He was a sinful man.

Verse 9

For he was amazed (θαμβος γαρ περιεσχεν). Literally,

For a wonder held him round . Aorist active indicative. It held Peter fast and all the rest.

Verse 10

Thou shalt catch men (εση ζωγρων). Periphrastic future indicative, emphasizing the linear idea. The old verb Ζωγρεω means to catch alive, not to kill. So then Peter is to be a catcher of men, not of fish, and to catch them alive and for life, not dead and for death. The great Pentecost will one day prove that Christ's prophecy will come true. Much must happen before that great day. But Jesus foresees the possibilities in Simon and he joyfully undertakes the task of making a fisher of men out of this poor fisher of fish.

Verse 11

They left all, and followed him (αφεντες παντα ηκολουθησαν). Then and there. They had already become his disciples. Now they leave their business for active service of Christ. The conduct of this group of business men should make other business men to pause and see if Jesus is calling them to do likewise.

Verse 12

Behold (κα ιδου). Quite a Hebraistic idiom, this use of κα after εγενετο (almost like οτ) with ιδου (interjection) and no verb.

Full of leprosy (πληρης λεπρας). Mark 1:40 and Matthew 8:2 have simply "a leper" which see. Evidently a bad case full of sores and far advanced as Luke the physician notes. The law (Leviticus 13:12) curiously treated advanced cases as less unclean than the earlier stages.

Fell on his face (πεσων επ προσωπον). Second aorist active participle of πιπτω, common verb. Mark 1:40 has "kneeling" (γονυπετων) and Matthew 8:40 "worshipped" (προσεκυνε). All three attitudes were possible one after the other. All three Synoptics quote the identical language of the leper and the identical answer of Jesus. His condition of the third class turned on the "will" (θεληις) of Jesus who at once asserts his will (θηλω) and cleanses him. All three likewise mention the touch (ηψατο, verse Luke 5:13) of Christ's hand on the unclean leper and the instantaneous cure.

Verse 14

To tell no man (μηδεν ειπειν). This is an indirect command after the verb "charged" (παρηγγειλεν). But Luke changes (constructio variata) to the direct quotation, a common idiom in Greek and often in Luke (Acts 1:4). Here in the direct form he follows Mark 1:43; Matthew 8:4. See discussion there about the direction to go to the priest to receive a certificate showing his cleansing, like our release from quarantine (Leviticus 13:39; Leviticus 14:2-32).

For a testimony unto them (εις μαρτυριον αυτοις). The use of αυτοις (them) here is "according to sense," as we say, for it has no antecedent in the context, just to people in general. But this identical phrase with absence of direct reference occurs in Mark and Matthew, pretty good proof of the use of one by the other. Both Matthew 8:4; Luke 5:14 follow Mark 1:44.

Verse 15

So much the more (μαλλον). Mark 1:45 has only "much" (πολλα, many), but Mark tells more about the effect of this disobedience.

Went abroad (διηρχετο). Imperfect tense. The fame of Jesus kept going.

Came together (συνηρχοντο). Imperfect tense again. The more the report spread, the more the crowds came.

Verse 16

But he withdrew himself in the deserts and prayed (αυτος δε ην υποχωρων εν ταις ερημοις κα προσευχομενος). Periphrastic imperfects. Literally, "But he himself was with drawing in the desert places and praying." The more the crowds came as a result of the leper's story, the more Jesus turned away from them to the desert regions and prayed with the Father. It is a picture of Jesus drawn with vivid power. The wild enthusiasm of the crowds was running ahead of their comprehension of Christ and his mission and message. Hυποχωρεω (perhaps with the notion of slipping away secretly, υπο-) is a very common Greek verb, but in the N.T. occurs in Luke alone. Elsewhere in the N.T. αναχωρεω (to go back) appears.

Verse 17

That (κα). Use of κα = οτ (that) like the Hebrew wav, though found in Greek also.

He (αυτος). Luke sometimes has αυτος in the nominative as unemphatic "he" as here, not "he himself."

Was teaching (ην διδασκων). Periphrastic imperfect again like our English idiom.

Were sitting by (ησαν καθημενο). Periphrastic imperfect again. There is no "by" in the Greek.

Doctors of the law (νομοδιδασκαλο). A compound word formed after analogy of ιεροδιδασκαλος, but not found outside of the N.T. and ecclesiastical writers, one of the very few words apparently N.T. in usage. It appears here and Acts 5:34; 1 Timothy 1:7. It is not likely that Luke and Paul made the word, but they simply used the term already in current use to describe teachers and interpreters of the law. Our word "doctor" is Latin for "teacher." These "teachers of the law" are called elsewhere in the Gospels "scribes" (γραμματεις) as in Matthew and Mark (see on Matthew 5:20; Matthew 23:34) and Luke 5:21; Luke 19:47; Luke 21:1; Luke 22:2. Luke also employs νομικος (one skilled in the law, νομος) as in Luke 10:25. One thinks of our LL.D. (Doctors of Civil and Canon Law), for both were combined in Jewish law. They were usually Pharisees (mentioned here for the first time in Luke) for which see on Matthew 3:7; Matthew 3:20. Luke will often speak of the Pharisees hereafter. Not all the "Pharisees" were "teachers of the law" so that both terms often occur together as in verse Luke 5:21 where Luke has separate articles (ο γραμματεις κα ο Φαρισαιο), distinguishing between them, though one article may occur as in Matthew 5:20 or no article as here in verse Luke 5:17. Luke alone mentions the presence here of these Pharisees and doctors of the law "which were come" (ο ησαν εληλυθοτες, periphrastic past perfect active,

had come ).

Out of every village of Galilee and Judea and Jerusalem (εκ πασης κωμης της Γαλιλαιας κα Ιουδαιας κα Ιερουσαλημ). Edersheim (Jewish Social Life) observes that the Jews distinguished Jerusalem as a separate district in Judea. Plummer considers it hyperbole in Luke to use "every village." But one must recall that Jesus had already made one tour of Galilee which stirred the Pharisees and rabbis to active opposition. Judea had already been aroused and Jerusalem was the headquarters of the definite campaign now organized against Jesus. One must bear in mind that John 4:1-4 shows that Jesus had already left Jerusalem and Judea because of the jealousy of the Pharisees. They are here on purpose to find fault and to make charges against Jesus. One must not forget that there were many kinds of Pharisees and that not all of them were as bad as these legalistic and punctilious hypocrites who deserved the indictment and exposure of Christ in Luke 5:23. Paul himself is a specimen of the finer type of Pharisee which, however, developed into the persecuting fanatic till Jesus changed his whole life.

The power of the Lord was with him to heal (δυναμις Κυριου ην εις το ιασθα αυτον). So the best texts. It is neat Greek, but awkward English: "Then was the power of the Lord for the healing as to him (Jesus)." Here Κυριου refers to Jehovah.

Dunamis (dynamite) is one of the common words for "miracles" (δυναμεις). What Luke means is that Jesus had the power of the Lord God to heal with. He does not mean that this power was intermittent. He simply calls attention to its presence with Jesus on this occasion.

Verse 18

That was palsied (ος ην παραλελυμενος). Periphrastic past perfect passive where Mark 2:3; Matthew 9:2 have παραλυτικον (our paralytic). Luke's phrase is the technical medical term (Hippocrates, Galen, etc.) rather than Mark's vernacular word (Ramsay, Luke the Physician, pp. 57f.).

They sought (εζητουν). Conative imperfect.

Verse 19

By what way they might bring him in (ποιας εις ενεγκωσιν αυτον). Deliberative subjunctive of the direct question retained in the indirect.

The housetop (το δωμα). Very old word. The flat roof of Jewish houses was usually reached by outside stairway. Cf. Acts 10:9 where Peter went for meditation.

Through the tiles (δια των κεραμων). Common and old word for the tile roof. Mark 2:4 speaks of digging a hole in this tile roof.

Let him down (καθηκαν αυτον). First aorist (k aorist) effective active of καθιημ, common verb. Mark 2:4 has historical present χαλωσ, the verb used by Jesus to Peter and in Peter's reply (Luke 5:4).

With his couch (συν τω κλινιδιω). Also in verse Luke 5:24. Diminutive of κλινη (verse Luke 5:18) occurring in Plutarch and Koine writers. Mark 2:4 has κραβαττον (pallet). It doubtless was a pallet on which the paralytic lay.

Into the midst before Jesus (εις το μεσον εμπροσθεν του Ιησου). The four friends had succeeded, probably each holding a rope to a corner of the pallet. It was a moment of triumph over difficulties and surprise to all in the house (Peter's apparently, Mark 2:1).

Verse 20

Their faith (την πιστιν αυτων). In all three Gospels.

Man (ανθρωπε). Mark and Matthew have "child" or "Son" (τεκνον). Are forgiven (αφεωντα). This Doric form of the perfect passive indicative is for the Attic αφειντα. It appears also in Luke 5:23; Luke 7:47; Luke 7:48; John 20:23; 1 John 2:12. Mark 2:6; Matthew 9:2 have the present passive αφιεντα. Possibly this man's malady was due to his sin as is sometimes true (John 5:14). The man had faith along with that of the four, but he was still a paralytic when Jesus forgave his sins.

Verse 21

But God alone (ε μη μονος ο θεος). Mark has εις (one) instead of μονος (alone).

Verse 22

Perceiving (επιγνους). Same form (second aorist active participle of επιγινωσκω, common verb for knowing fully) in Mark 2:8.

Reason ye (διαλογιζεσθε) as in Mark 2:8. Matthew 9:4 has ενθυμεισθε.

Verse 24

He saith unto him that was palsied (ειπεν τω παραλελυμενω). This same parenthesis right in the midst of the words of Jesus is in Mark 2:11; Matthew 9:6, conclusive proof of interrelation between these documents. The words of Jesus are quoted practically alike in all three Gospels, the same purpose also ινα ειδητε (second perfect active subjunctive).

Verse 25

Whereon he lay (εφ' ο κατεκειτο). Imperfect, upon which he had been lying down. Luke uses this phrase instead of repeating κλινιδιον (verse Luke 5:24).

Glorifying God (δοξαζων τον θεον). As one can well imagine.

Verse 26

Amazement (εκστασις). Something out of its place, as the mind. Here the people were almost beside themselves as we say with the same idiom. See on Mark 5:42. So they kept glorifying God (imperfect tense, εδοξαζον) and at the same time "were filled with fear" (επλησθησαν φοβου, aorist passive).

Strange things (παραδοξα). Our very word paradox, contrary to (παρα) received opinion (δοξα). Plato, Xenophon, and Polybius use it. Here alone in the N.T.

Verse 27

A publican named Levi (τελωνεν ονοματ Λευειν). Mark 2:13 has also "The son of Alphaeus" while Matthew 9:9 calls him "Matthew." He had, of course, both names. All three use the same words (επ το τελωνιον) for the place of toll. See discussion of publican (τελωνης) on Matthew 9:9. All three Gospels give the command of Jesus, Follow me (ακολουθε).

Verse 28

He forsook all (καταλιπων παντα). This detail in Luke alone. He left his profitable business for the service of Christ.

Followed him (ηκολουθε αυτω). Imperfect active, perhaps inchoative. He began at once to follow him and he kept it up. Both Mark 2:14; Matthew 9:9 have the aorist (ηκολουθησεν), perhaps ingressive.

Verse 29

A great feast (δοχην μεγαλην). Here and in Luke 14:13 only in the N.T. The word δοχη, from δεχομα, means reception. Occurs in Plutarch and LXX. Levi made Jesus a big reception.

Publicans and others (τελωνων κα αλλων). Luke declines here to use "sinners" like Mark 2:15 and Matthew 9:10 though he does so in verse Luke 5:30 and in Luke 15:1. None but social outcasts would eat with publicans at such a feast or barbecue, for it was a very large affair.

Were sitting at meat with them (ησαν μετ' αυτων κατακειμενο). Literally, were reclining with them (Jesus and the disciples). It was a motley crew that Levi had brought together, but he showed courage as well as loyalty to Jesus.

Verse 30

The Pharisees and their scribes (ο Φαρισαιο κα ο γραμματεις αυτων). Note article with each substantive and the order, not "scribes and Pharisees," but "the Pharisees and the scribes of them" (the Pharisees). Some manuscripts omit "their," but Mark 2:16 (the scribes of the Pharisees) shows that it is correct here. Some of the scribes were Sadducees. It is only the Pharisees who find fault here.

Murmured (εγογγυζον). Imperfect active. Picturesque onomatopoetic word that sounds like its meaning. A late word used of the cooing of doves. It is like the buzzing of bees, like τονθορρυζω of literary Greek. They were not invited to this feast and would not have come if they had been. But, not being invited, they hang on the outside and criticize the disciples of Jesus for being there. The crowd was so large that the feast may have been served out in the open court at Levi's house, a sort of reclining garden party.

The publicans and sinners (των τελωνων κα αμαρτωλων). Here Luke is quoting the criticism of the critics. Note one article making one group of all of them.

Verse 31

They that are whole (ο υγιαινοντες). Old Greek word for good health from υγιης, sound in body. So also in Luke 7:10; Luke 15:27; 3 John 1:2. This is the usual word for good health used by Greek medical writers. Mark 2:17; Matthew 9:12 have ο ισχυοντες (those who have strength).

Verse 32

To repentance (εις μετανοιαν). Alone in Luke not genuine in Mark 2:17; Matthew 9:12. Only sinners would need a call to repentance, a change of mind and life. For the moment Jesus accepts the Pharisaic division between "righteous" and "sinners" to score them and to answer their criticism. At the other times he will show that they only pretend to be "righteous" and are "hypocrites" in reality. But Jesus has here blazed the path for all soul-winners. The self-satisfied are the hard ones to win and they often resent efforts to win them to Christ.

Verse 33

Often (πυκνα). Only in Luke. Common word for thick, compact, often.

And make supplications (κα δεησεις ποιουντα). Only in Luke.

But thine (ο δε σο). Sharp contrast between the conduct of the disciples of Jesus and those of John and the Pharisees who here appear together as critics of Christ and his disciples (Mark 2:18; Matthew 9:14), though Luke does not bring that out sharply. It is probable that Levi had his reception for Jesus on one of the Jewish fast days and, if so, this would give special edge to their criticism.

Verse 34

Can ye (μη δυνασθε). So Luke, adding

make , ποιησα, where Mark and Matthew have μη δυναντα. All three have μη and expect the answer no.

Verse 35

Then in those days (τοτε εν εκειναις ταις ημεραις). Here Mark 2:20 has "then in that day," and Matthew 9:15 only "then."

Verse 36

Also a parable (κα παραβολην). There are three parables here in the answer of Jesus (the bridegroom, the patch on the garment, the wineskin). They are not called parables save here, but they are parables and Luke's language means that.

Rendeth (σχισας). This in Luke alone. Common verb. Used of splitting rocks (Matthew 27:51). Our word schism comes from it.

Putteth it (επιβαλλε). So Matthew 9:16 when Mark 2:21 has επιραπτε (sews on). The word for "piece" or "patch" (επιβλημα) in all the three Gospels is from the verb επιβαλλω, to clap on, and is in Plutarch, Arrian, LXX, though the verb is as old as Homer. See on Matthew and Mark for distinction between καινος (fresh), νεος (new), and παλαιος (old).

He will rend the new (κα το καινον σχισε). Future active indicative. So the best MSS.

Will not agree (ου συμφωνησε). Future active indicative. So the best manuscripts again.

With the old (τω παλαιω). Associative instrumental case. Instead of this phrase in Luke, Mark 2:21; Matthew 9:16 have "a worse rent" (χειρον σχισμα).

Verse 38

Must be put (βλητεον). This verbal adjective in -τεος rather than -τος appears here alone in the N.T. though it is common enough in Attic Greek. It is a survival of the literary style. This is the impersonal use and is transitive in sense here and governs the accusative "new wine" (οινον νεον), though the agent is not expressed (Robertson, Grammar, p. 1097).

Verse 39

The old is good (Hο παλαιος χρηστος εστιν). So the best MSS. rather that χρηστοτερος, comparative (better). Westcott and Hort wrongly bracket the whole verse, though occurring in Aleph, B C L and most of the old documents. It is absent in D and some of the old Latin MSS. It is the philosophy of the obscurantist, that is here pictured by Christ. "The prejudiced person will not even try the new, or admit that it has any merits. He knows that the old is pleasant, and suits him; and that is enough; he is not going to change" (Plummer). This is Christ's picture of the reactionary Pharisees.

Bibliographical Information
Robertson, A.T. "Commentary on Luke 5". "Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament". Broadman Press 1932,33. Renewal 1960.