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After (επειδη, επε ανδ δη). This conjunction was written επε δη in Homer and is simple επε with the intensive δη added and even επε δη περ once in N.T. (Luke 1:1). This is the only instance of the temporal use of επειδη in the N.T. The causal sense occurs only in Luke and Paul, for επε is the correct text in Matthew 21:46.
Had ended (επληρωσεν). First aorist active indicative. There is here a reference to the conclusion of the Sermon on the Mount, but with nothing concerning the impression produced by the discourse such as is seen in Matthew 7:28. This verse really belongs as the conclusion of Chapter 6, not as the beginning of Chapter 7.
In the ears of the people (εις τας ακοας του λαου). Ακοη from ακουω, to hear, is used of the sense of hearing (1 Corinthians 12:17), the ear with which one hears (Mark 7:35; Hebrews 5:11), the thing heard or the report (Romans 10:16) or oral instruction (Galatians 3:2; Galatians 3:5). Both Matthew 8:5-13; Luke 7:1-10 locate the healing of the centurion's servant in Capernaum where Jesus was after the Sermon on the Mount.
Centurion's servant (Hεκατονταρχου τινος δουλος). Slave of a certain centurion (Latin word χεντυριο, commander of a century or hundred). Mark 15:39; Mark 15:44 has the Latin word in Greek letters, κεντυριων. The centurion commanded a company which varied from fifty to a hundred. Each cohort had six centuries. Each legion had ten cohorts or bands (Acts 10:1). The centurions mentioned in the N.T. all seem to be fine men as Polybius states that the best men in the army had this position. See also Luke 23:47. The Greek has two forms of the word, both from εκατον, hundred, and αρχω, to rule, and they appear to be used interchangeably. So we have εκατονταρχος; here, the form is -αρχος, and εκατονταρχης, the form is -αρχης in verse Luke 7:6. The manuscripts differ about it in almost every instance. The -αρχος form is accepted by Westcott and Hort only in the nominative save the genitive singular here in Luke 7:2 and the accusative singular in Acts 22:25. See like variation between them in Matthew 8:5; Matthew 8:8 (-αρχος) and Matthew 8:13 (αρχη). So also -αρχον (Acts 22:25) and -αρχης (Acts 22:26).
Dear to him (αυτω εντιμος). Held in honour, prized, precious, dear (Luke 14:8; 1 Peter 2:4; Philippians 2:29), common Greek word. Even though a slave he was dear to him.
Was sick (κακως εχων). Having it bad. Common idiom. See already Matthew 4:24; Matthew 8:16; Mark 2:17; Luke 5:31, etc. Matthew 8:6 notes that the slave was a paralytic.
And at the point of death (ημελλεν τελευταιν). Imperfect active of μελλω (note double augment η) which is used either with the present infinitive as here, the aorist (Revelation 3:16), or even the future because of the future idea in μελλω (Acts 11:28; Acts 24:15). He was about to die.
Sent unto him elders of the Jews (απεστειλεν προς αυτον πρεσβουτερους των Ιουδαιων). Matthew 8:5 says "the centurion came unto him." For discussion of this famous case of apparent discrepancy see discussion on Matthew. One possible solution is that Luke tells the story as it happened with the details, whereas Matthew simply presents a summary statement without the details. What one does through another he does himself.
Asking him (ερωτων αυτον). Present active participle, masculine singular nominative, of the verb ερωταω common for asking a question as in the old Greek (Luke 22:68). But more frequently in the N.T. the verb has the idea of making a request as here. This is not a Hebraism or an Aramaism, but is a common meaning of the verb in the papyri (Deissmann, Light from the Ancient East, p. 168). It is to be noted here that Luke represents the centurion himself as "asking" through the elders of the Jews (leading citizens). In Matthew 8:6 the verb is παρακαλων (beseeching).
That he would come and save (οπως ελθων διασωση). Hινα is the more common final or sub-final (as here) conjunction, but οπως still occurs. Διασωση is effective aorist active subjunctive, to bring safe through as in a storm (Acts 28:1; Acts 28:4). Common word.
Besought (παρεκαλουν). Imperfect active, began and kept on beseeching. This is the same verb used by Matthew in Matthew 8:5 of the centurion himself.
Earnestly (σπουδαιως). From σπουδη haste. So eagerly, earnestly, zealously, for time was short.
That thou shouldst do this for him (ω παρεξη τουτο). Second future middle singular of παρεχω. Old and common verb, furnish on thy part. Hω is relative in dative case almost with notion of contemplated result (Robertson, Grammar, p. 961).
For (γαρ). This clause gives the reason why the elders of the Jews consider him "worthy" (αξιος, drawing down the scale, αξις, αγο). He was hardly a proselyte, but was a Roman who had shown his love for the Jews.
Himself (αυτος). All by himself and at his own expense.
Us (ημιν). Dative case, for us. It is held by some archaeologists that the black basalt ruins in Tell Hum are the remains of the very synagogue (την συναγωγην). Literally,
the synagogue , the one which we have, the one for us.
Went with them (επορευετο συν αυτοις). Imperfect indicative middle. He started to go along with them.
Now (ηδη). Already like Latin jam. In 1 Corinthians 4:8 νυν ηδη like jam nunc.
Sent friends (επεμψεν φιλους). This second embassy also, wanting in Matthew's narrative. He "puts the message of both into the mouth of the centurion himself" (Plummer). Note saying (λεγων), present active singular participle, followed by direct quotation from the centurion himself.
Trouble not thyself (Μη σκυλλου). Present middle (direct use) imperative of σκυλλω, old verb originally meaning to skin, to mangle, and then in later Greek to vex, trouble, annoy. Frequent in the papyri in this latter sense.
For I am not worthy that (ου γαρ ικανος ειμ ινα). The same word ικανος, not αξιος, as in Matthew 8:8, which see for discussion, from ικω, ικανω, to fit, to reach, be adequate for. Hινα in both places as common in late Greek. See Matthew 8:8 also for "roof" (στεγην, covering).
Wherefore neither thought I myself worthy to come unto thee (διο ουδε εμαυτον ηξιωσα προς σε ελθειν). Not in Matthew because he represents the centurion as coming to Jesus.
Speak the word (ειπε λογω). As in Matthew 8:8. Second aorist active imperative with instrumental case, speak with a word.
My servant shall be healed (ιαθητω ο παις μου). Imperative first aorist passive, let be healed. Παις literally means "boy," an affectionate term for the "slave," δουλος (verse Luke 7:2), who was "dear" to him.
"Set" (τασσομενος). Genuine here, though doubtful in Matthew 8:9 where see discussion of this vivid and characteristic speech of the centurion.
Turned (στραφεις). Second aorist passive participle of στρεφω, to turn. Common verb. A vivid touch not in Matthew's account. In both Matthew and Luke Jesus marvels at the great faith of this Roman centurion beyond that among the Jews. As a military man he had learned how to receive orders and to execute them and hence to expect obedience to his commands, He recognized Jesus as Master over disease with power to compel obedience.
Whole (υγιαινοντα). Sound, well. See Luke 5:31.
Soon afterwards (εν το εξης). According to this reading supply χρονω, time. Other MSS. read τη εξης (supply ημερα, day). Hεξης occurs in Luke and Acts in the N.T. though old adverb of time.
That (Hοτ). Not in the Greek, the two verbs εγενετο and επορευθη having no connective (asyndeton).
Went with him (συνεπορευοντο αυτω). Imperfect middle picturing the procession of disciples and the crowd with Jesus. Nain is not mentioned elsewhere in the N.T. There is today a hamlet about two miles west of Endor on the north slope of Little Hermon. There is a burying-place still in use. Robinson and Stanley think that the very road on which the crowd with Jesus met the funeral procession can be identified.
Behold (κα ιδου). The κα introduces the apodosis of the temporal sentence and has to be left out in translations. It is a common idiom in Luke, κα ιδου.
There was carried out (εξεκομιζετο). Imperfect passive indicative. Common verb in late Greek for carrying out a body for burial, though here only in the N.T. (εκκομιζω). Rock tombs outside of the village exist there today.
One that was dead (τεθνηκως). Perfect active participle of θνησκω, to die.
The only son of his mother (μονογενης υιος τη μητρ αυτου). Only begotten son to his mother (dative case). The compound adjective μονογενης (μονος and γενος) is common in the old Greek and occurs in the N.T. about Jesus (John 3:16; John 3:18). The "death of a widow's only son was the greatest misfortune conceivable" (Easton).
And she was a widow (κα αυτη ην χηρα). This word χηρα gives the finishing touch to the pathos of the situation. The word is from χηρος, bereft. The mourning of a widow for an only son is the extremity of grief (Plummer).
Much people (οχλος ικανος). Considerable crowd as often with this adjective ικανος. Some were hired mourners, but the size of the crowd showed the real sympathy of the town for her.
The Lord saw her (ιδων αυτην ο κυριος). The Lord of Life confronts death (Plummer) and Luke may use Κυριος here purposely.
Had compassion (εσπλαγχθη). First aorist (ingressive) passive indicative of σπλαγχνιζομα. Often love and pity are mentioned as the motives for Christ's miracles (Matthew 14:14; Matthew 15:32, etc.). It is confined to the Synoptics in the N.T. and about Christ save in the parables by Christ.
Weep not (μη κλαιε). Present imperative in a prohibition. Cease weeping.
Touched the bier (ηψατο του σορου). An urn for the bones or ashes of the dead in Homer, then the coffin (Genesis 5:26), then the funeral couch or bier as here. Only here in the N.T. Jesus touched the bier to make the bearers stop, which they did (stood still , εστησαν), second aorist active indicative of ιστημ.
Sat up (ανεκαθισεν). First aorist active indicative. The verb in the N.T. only here and Acts 9:40. Medical writers often used it of the sick sitting up in bed (Hobart, Med. Lang. of St. Luke, p. 11). It is objected that the symmetry of these cases (daughter of Jairus raised from the death-bed, this widow's son raised from the bier, Lazarus raised from the tomb) is suspicious, but no one Gospel gives all three (Plummer).
Gave him to his mother (εδωκεν αυτον τη μητρ αυτου). Tender way of putting it. "For he had already ceased to belong to his mother" (Bengel). So in Luke 9:42.
Fear seized all (ελαβεν δε φοβος παντας). Aorist active indicative. At once.
They glorified God (εδοξαζον τον θεον). Imperfect active, inchoative, began and increased.
This report (ο λογος ουτος). That God had raised up a great prophet who had shown his call by raising the dead.
And the disciples of John told him (κα απηγγειλαν Ιωανη ο μαθητα αυτου). Literally, and his disciples announced to John. Such news (verse Luke 7:17) was bound to come to the ears of the Baptist languishing in the dungeon of Machaerus (Luke 3:20). Luke 7:18-35 runs parallel with Matthew 11:2-19, a specimen of Q, the non-Marcan portion of Matthew and Luke.
Calling unto him (προσκαλεσαμενος). First aorist middle (indirect) participle.
Two (δυο τινας). Certain two. Not in Matthew 11:2.
Saying (λεγων). John saying by the two messengers. The message is given precisely alike in Matthew 11:3, which see. In both we have ετερον for "another," either a second or a different kind. In verse Luke 7:20 Westcott and Hort read αλλον in the text, ετερον in the margin. Προσδοκωμεν, may be present indicative or present subjunctive (deliberative), the same contract form (αο= ω, αω ω).
In that hour he cured (εν εκεινη τη ορα εθεραπευσεν). This item is not in Matthew. Jesus gave the two disciples of John an example of the direct method. They had heard. Then they saw for themselves.
evil spirits (πνευματων πονηρων), all kinds of bodily ills, and he singles out the
blind (τυφλοις) to whom in particular he bestowed sight (εχαριζατο βλεπειν), gave as a free gift (from χαρις, grace) seeing (βλεπειν).
What things ye have seen and heard (α ειδετε κα ηκουσατε). In Matthew 11:4, present tense "which ye do hear and see." Rest of verse Luke 7:22; Luke 7:23 as in Matthew 11:4-6, which see for details. Luke mentions no raisings from the dead in verse Luke 7:21, but the language is mainly general, while here it is specific. Σκανδαλιζομα used here has the double notion of to trip up and to entrap and in the N.T. always means causing to sin.
When the messengers of John were departed (απελθοντων των αγγελων Ιωανου). Genitive absolute of aorist active participle. Matthew 11:7 has the present middle participle πορευομενων, suggesting that Jesus began his eulogy of John as soon as the messengers (angels, Luke calls them) were on their way. The vivid questions about the people's interest in John are precisely alike in both Matthew and Luke.
Gorgeously apparelled (εν ιματισμω ενδοξω). In splendid clothing. Here alone in this sense in the N.T.
And live delicately (τρυφη). From θρυπτω to break down, to enervate, an old word for luxurious living. See the verb τρυφαω in James 5:5.
In kings' courts (εν τοις βασιλειοις). Only here in the N.T. Matthew 11:8 has it "in kings' houses." Verses Luke 7:26; Luke 7:27 are precisely alike in Matthew 11:9; Matthew 11:10, which see for discussion.
A prophet? (προφητην;). A real prophet will always get a hearing if he has a message from God. He is a for-speaker, forth-teller (προ φητης). He may or may not be a fore-teller. The main thing is for the prophet to have a message from God which he is willing to tell at whatever cost to himself. The word of God came to John in the wilderness of Judea (Luke 3:2). That made him a prophet. There is a prophetic element in every real preacher of the Gospel. Real prophets become leaders and moulders of men.
There is none (ουδεις εστιν). No one exists, this means. Matthew 11:11 has ουκ εγηγερτα (hath not arisen). See Matthew for discussion of "but little" and "greater."
Justified God (εδικαιωσαν τον θεον). They considered God just or righteous in making these demands of them. Even the publicans did. They submitted to the baptism of John (βαπτισθεντες το βαπτισμα του Ιωανου. First aorist passive participle with the cognate accusative retained in the passive. Some writers consider verses Luke 7:29; Luke 7:30 a comment of Luke in the midst of the eulogy of John by Jesus. This would be a remarkable thing for so long a comment to be interjected. It is perfectly proper as the saying of Jesus.
Rejected for themselves (ηθετησαν εις εαυτους). The first aorist active of αθετεω first seen in LXX and Polybius. Occurs in the papyri. These legalistic interpreters of the law refused to admit the need of confession of sin on their part and so set aside the baptism of John. They annulled God's purposes of grace so far as they applied to them.
Being not baptized by him (μη βαπτισθεντες υπ' αυτου). First aorist passive participle. Μη is the usual negative of the participle in the Koine.
And to what are they like? (κα τιν εισιν ομοιοι;). This second question is not in Matthew 11:16. It sharpens the point. The case of τιν is associative instrumental after ομοιο. See discussion of details in Matthew.
And ye did not weep (κα ουκ εκλαυσατε). Here Matthew 1:17 has "and ye did not mourn (or beat your breast, ουκ εκοψασθε). They all did it at funerals. These children would not play wedding or funeral.
John the Baptist is come (εληλυθεν). Second perfect active indicative where Matthew 11:18 has ηλθεν second aorist active indicative. So as to verse Luke 7:34. Luke alone has "bread" and "wine." Otherwise these verses like Matthew 11:18; Matthew 11:19, which see for discussion of details. There are actually critics today who say that Jesus was called the friend of sinners and even of harlots because he loved them and their ways and so deserved the slur cast upon him by his enemies. If men can say that today we need not wonder that the Pharisees and lawyers said it then to justify their own rejection of Jesus.
Of all her children (απο παντων των τεκνων αυτης). Here Matthew 11:19 has "by her works" (απο των εργων αυτης). Aleph has εργων here. The use of "children" personifies wisdom as in Luke 7:8; Luke 7:9.
That he would eat with him (ινα φαγη μετ' αυτου). Second aorist active subjunctive. The use of ινα after ερωταω (see also Luke 16:27) is on the border between the pure object clause and the indirect question (Robertson, Grammar, p. 1046) and the pure final clause. Luke has two other instances of Pharisees who invited Jesus to meals (Luke 11:37; Luke 14:1) and he alone gives them. This is the Gospel of Hospitality (Ragg). Jesus would dine with a Pharisee or with a publican (Luke 5:29; Mark 2:15; Matthew 9:10) and even invited himself to be the guest of Zaccheus (Luke 9:5). This Pharisee was not as hostile as the leaders in Jerusalem. It is not necessary to think this Pharisee had any sinister motive in his invitation though he was not overly friendly (Plummer).
A woman which was in the city, a sinner (γυνη ητις εν τη πολε αμαρτωλος). Probably in Capernaum. The use of ητις means "Who was of such a character as to be" (cf. Luke 8:3) and so more than merely the relative η, who, that is, "who was a sinner in the city," a woman of the town, in other words, and known to be such. Hαμαρτωλος, from αμαρτανω, to sin, means devoted to sin and uses the same form for feminine and masculine. It is false and unjust to Mary Magdalene, introduced as a new character in Luke 8:2, to identify this woman with her. Luke would have no motive in concealing her name here and the life of a courtesan would be incompatible with the sevenfold possession of demons. Still worse is it to identify this courtesan not only with Mary Magdalene, but also with Mary of Bethany simply because it is a Simon who gives there a feast to Jesus when Mary of Bethany does a beautiful deed somewhat like this one here (Mark 14:3-9; Matthew 26:6-13; John 12:2-8). Certainly Luke knew full well the real character of Mary of Bethany (Luke 10:38-42) so beautifully pictured by him. But a falsehood, once started, seems to have more lives than the cat's proverbial nine. The very name Magdalene has come to mean a repentant courtesan. But we can at least refuse to countenance such a slander on Mary Magdalene and on Mary of Bethany. This sinful woman had undoubtedly repented and changed her life and wished to show her gratitude to Jesus who had rescued her. Her bad reputation as a harlot clung to her and made her an unwelcome visitor in the Pharisee's house.
When she knew (επιγνουσα). Second aorist active participle from επιγινωσκω, to know fully, to recognize. She came in by a curious custom of the time that allowed strangers to enter a house uninvited at a feast, especially beggars seeking a gift. This woman was an intruder whereas Mary of Bethany was an invited guest. "Many came in and took their places on the side seats, uninvited and yet unchallenged. They spoke to those at table on business or the news of the day, and our host spoke freely to them" (Trench in his Parables, describing a dinner at a Consul's house at Damietta).
He was sitting at meat (κατακειτα). Literally, he is reclining (present tense retained in indirect discourse in Greek).
An alabaster cruse of ointment (αλαβαστρον μυρου). See on Matthew 26:7 for discussion of αλαβαστρον and μυρου.
Standing behind at his feet (στασα οπισω παρα τους ποδας αυτου). Second aorist active participle from ιστημ and intransitive, first aorist εστησα being transitive. The guest removed his sandals before the meal and he reclined on the left side with the feet outward. She was standing beside (παρα) his feet weeping (κλαιουσα). She was drawn irresistibly by gratitude to Jesus and is overcome with emotion before she can use the ointment; her tears (τοις δακρυσιν, instrumental case of δακρυ) take the place of the ointment.
Wiped them with the hair of her head (ταις θριξιν της κεφαλης αυτης εξεμασσεν). Inchoative imperfect of an old verb εκμασσω, to rub out or off, began to wipe off, an act of impulse evidently and of embarrassment. "Among the Jews it was a shameful thing for a woman to let down her hair in public; but she makes this sacrifice" (Plummer). So Mary of Bethany wiped the feet of Jesus with her hair (John 12:3) with a similar sacrifice out of her great love for Jesus. This fact is relied on by some to prove that Mary of Bethany had been a woman of bad character, surely an utter failure to recognize Mary's motive and act.
Kissed (κατεφιλε). Imperfect active of καταφιλεω, to kiss repeatedly (force of κατα), and accented by the tense of continued action here. The word in the N.T. occurs here, of the prodigal's father (Luke 15:20), of the kiss of Judas (Mark 14:45; Matthew 26:49), of the Ephesian elders (Acts 20:37). " Kissing the feet was a common mark of deep reverence, especially to leading rabbis" (Plummer).
Anointed them with the ointment (ηλειφεν τω μυρω). Imperfect active again of αλειφω, a very common verb. Χριω has a more religious sense. The anointing came after the burst of emotional excitement.
This man (ουτος). Contemptuous, this fellow.
If he were a (the) prophet (ε ην [ο] προφητης). Condition of the second class, determined as unfulfilled. The Pharisee assumes that Jesus is not a prophet (or the prophet, reading of B, that he claims to be). A Greek condition puts the thing from the standpoint of the speaker or writer. It does not deal with the actual facts, but only with the statement about the facts.
Would have perceived (εγινωσκεν αν). Wrong translation, would now perceive or know (which he assumes that Jesus does not do). The protasis is false and the conclusion also. He is wrong in both. The conclusion (apodosis), like the condition, deals here with the present situation and so both use the imperfect indicative (αν in the conclusion, a mere device for making it plain that it is not a condition of the first class).
Who and what manner of woman (τις κα ποταπη η γυνη). She was notorious in person and character.
Answering (αποκριθεις). First aorist passive participle, redundant use with ειπεν. Jesus answers the thoughts and doubts of Simon and so shows that he knows all about the woman also. Godet notes a tone of Socratic irony here.
A certain lender (δανιστη τιν). A lender of money with interest. Here alone in the N.T. though a common word.
Debtors (χρεοφιλετα). From χρεω (debt, obligation) and οφειλω, to owe. Only here and Luke 16:5 in the N.T., though common in late Greek writers.
Owed (ωφειλεν). Imperfect active and so unpaid. Five hundred δηναρια and fifty like two hundred and fifty dollars and twenty-five dollars.
Will love him most (πλειον αγαπησε αυτον). Strictly, comparative
more , πλειον, not superlative πλειστα, but most suits the English idiom best, even between two. Superlative forms are vanishing before the comparative in the Koine. This is the point of the parable, the attitude of the two debtors toward the lender who forgave both of them (Plummer).
I suppose (υπολαμβανω). Old verb, originally to take up from under, to bear away as on high, to take up in speech (Luke 10:30), to take up in mind or to assume as here and Acts 2:15. Here with an air of supercilious indifference (Plummer).
The most (το πλειον). The more.
Rightly (ορθως). Correctly. Socrates was fond of πανυ ορθως. The end of the argument.
Turning (στραφεις). Second aorist passive participle.
Seest thou (βλεπεις). For the first time Jesus looks at the woman and he asks the Pharisee to look at her. She was behind Jesus. Jesus was an invited guest. The Pharisee had neglected some points of customary hospitality. The contrasts here made have the rhythm of Hebrew poetry. In each contrast the first word is the point of defect in Simon:
water (Luke 7:44), kiss (Luke 7:45), oil (Luke 7:46).
Hath not ceased to kiss (ου διελιπεν καταφιλουσα). Supplementary participle.
With ointment (μυρω). Instrumental case. She used the costly ointment even for the feet of Jesus.
Are forgiven (αφεωντα). Doric perfect passive form. See Luke 5:21; Luke 5:23.
For she loved much (οτ ηγαπησεν πολυ). Illustration or proof, not reason for the forgiveness. Her sins had been already forgiven and remained forgiven.
But to whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little (Hω δε ολιγον αφιετα ολιγον αγαπα). This explanation proves that the meaning of οτ preceding is proof, not cause.
Are forgiven (αφεωντα). As in verse Luke 7:47. Remain forgiven, Jesus means, in spite of the slur of the Pharisee.
Who even forgiveth sins (ος κα αμαρτιας αφιησιν). Present indicative active of same verb, αφιημ. Once before the Pharisees considered Jesus guilty of blasphemy in claiming the power to forgive sins (Luke 5:21). Jesus read their inmost thoughts as he always does.
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)
Robertson, A.T. "Commentary on Luke 7". "Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 6 / Ordinary 11