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Luke 14

Schaff's Popular Commentary on the New TestamentSchaff's NT Commentary

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Verse 1

Luke 14:1. One of the rulers of the Pharisees. Possibly a member of the Sanhedrin, but certainly one of the influential, leading men of the party.

On the Sabbath. The Jews gave feasts on the Sabbath, the food being prepared the day previous. The custom gave rise to great abuses, though doubtless the letter of the fourth commandment was observed. A number of guests were present, mainly Pharisees (Luke 14:3; Luke 14:7).

Were watching him. The Pharisees, since that class was last spoken of, were watching if He would do or say anything which would furnish a pretext for opposing Him. The hospitality was hostile.

Verses 1-24

This section, peculiar to Luke, has been aptly styled ‘the Son of man eating and drinking.’ All the incidents occurred at a feast Luke 14:1; Luke 14:7). The parable of the Great Supper Luke 14:16-24) must be carefully distinguished from the similar one in Matthew 22:2-14 (that of the marriage feast of the king’s son). If chap. Luke 13:32-33, is taken literally, this feast occurred on one of the three days.

Verses 1-35

THIS division of the Gospel of Luke, embracing nearly one third of the whole, contains for the most part matter peculiar to this Evangelist. A number of the incidents probably belong to an earlier period of the history. A few of these are mentioned by Matthew and Mark, though the greater number even of these are peculiar to this account. But the larger portion of this division belongs to that part of our Lord’s life passed aver in silence by Matthew and Mark. John indeed tells us of much that occurred during this period, but he does not give a parallel account. Many theories have been suggested; our view is as follows: This division treats in the main of that part of the life of our Lord on earth, between the close of His ministry in Galilee and the last journey from Perea (beyond Jordan) to Jerusalem; covering a period of nearly six months. The reasons for this opinion are: that chap. Luke 9:51 can only refer to the final departure from Galilee (Matthew 19:1; Mark 10:1), and this departure seems to have been shortly before the sudden appearance of our Lord in Jerusalem at the feast of Tabernacles (John 7:14); it is indeed possible that our Lord returned to Galilee after this visit, but of this there is no positive evidence. On the other hand, the blessing of the little children (chap. Luke 18:15), where the parallel with Matthew and Mark is renewed, undoubtedly took place just before the last solemn journey from Perea to Jerusalem and to death. From John’s account we learn that during this period our Lord appeared again in Jerusalem. In fact, that Gospel alone tells us of His journeyings to avoid the hostility of the Jews. Neither Matthew nor Mark implies that the journey from Galilee to Jerusalem, alluded to in chap. Luke 9:51, was a direct one, while both state that such a journey was undertaken about this time.

All who love the lessons of our Lord should rejoice that we have in this Gospel so much that is not only peculiar but important. The parables of this division are especially interesting, because uttered at a time when both the hostility of the Jews and the training of the disciples called for Truth more distinctively Christian. As in one sense the journey to death begins with this division, so do we here approach more closely the central truths of the gospel which centres in that death. The special questions of chronology will be discussed under the separate sections; but certainty on these points is impossible.

THE journey to Jerusalem spoken of in Luke 9:51 was probably that to the feast of Tabernacles; but in a wider sense, it was the final departure from Galilee to death at Jerusalem, since from this time on our Lord was rejected and persecuted openly by the Jews. The direct route was through Samaria, and on the way the incident of Luke 9:52-56 occurred. Some indeed suppose that our Lord, after this rebuff, did not pass through Samaria but skirted the borders between it and Perea (see Matthew 19:1-12); of this, however, there is no positive evidence. The main question is regarding the exact chronological position of the incident of Luke 9:57-62; which Matthew (Matthew 8:18-22) places just before the departure to Gadara. In favor of the order of Luke is the greater fulness of his account; in favor of that of Matthew, his mention of one who was a ‘scribe.’ Such language from a ‘scribe’ was more probable at the earlier point. The theory that such an incident occurred twice is highly improbable. There was no reason why Matthew should insert it out of its place; but it is so appropriate here, where our Lord’s final departure from Galilee is spoken of, that Luke probably placed it here for that reason. The whole section brings before us the four leading human temperaments: the choleric, sanguine, melancholic, and phlegmatic. Our Lord Himself had no temperament, but was the perfect man. On the question whether the sending out of the Seventy preceded this departure from Galilee, see next section.

Verse 2

Luke 14:2. A certain man who had the dropsy Evidently this incident took place before the meal (Luke 14:7). The man was not a guest (Luke 14:4), and was possibly placed there by the Pharisees, with a view to entangle our Lord.

Verse 3

Luke 14:3. Answering, i.e., the thoughts of the Pharisees.

Is it lawful, etc.? This unexpected question evidently embarrassed them. If they answered yes, the occasion of finding fault was taken away; if no, they could be charged with want of compassion.

Verse 4

Luke 14:4. But they held their peace. They could attend feasts on the Sabbath, but could not say that it was right to heal the sick. Formalism is always thus inconsistent. Their silence was a confession of defeat, however. Then came the healing.

Sent him away. He was not a guest. The rebuke was not given until after the man had been sent away.

Verse 5

Luke 14:5. If a son or an ox. The weight of authority is for the reading ‘a son.’ The thought then is: If on the Sabbath you help what is your own, then help others (love thy neighbor as thyself). The common reading; ‘an ass or an ox,’ suggests the same argument as in chap. Luke 13:15-16; if you would do this for a dumb animal, much more for a human being.

Fallen into a well. As in chap. Luke 13:15-16, we find here an analogy between the case cited and the condition of the dropsical man; the danger in the well was that of drowning.

Verse 6

Luke 14:6. And they could not. The argument was conclusive. Thus thwarted and overcome, they doubtless hated Him the more.

Verse 7

Luke 14:7. A parable, in the widest sense, since the language is to be taken literally, though made the basis of a general moral lesson (Luke 14:11).

Them that were hidden. The invited guests, evidently numerous, were now arriving.

The chief places. We supply ‘at table’ to avoid ambiguity. The coveted places (comp. Matthew 23:6,) were at the middle table, joining the two side tables. At a large feast this table would be long, and the places numerous.

Verse 8

Luke 14:8. To a marriage feast. The greatest festivity, where questions of place were (and are still) considered of most importance. The figure suggests a reference to the feast of the kingdom of God, but this is not the primary thought. Our Lord immediately after represents the class whom He is now addressing as invited to that feast, but not attending it (Luke 14:18). The mention of an ordinary feast might have made the rebuke too pointed.

More honorable, etc. Such an one would be entitled to the higher place, and at a wedding would obtain it, as the next verse shows. But this result is not the main reason for not taking the highest place.

Verse 9

Luke 14:9. He that bade thee. The proper person to decide both in the primary and deeper applications of the parable.

And then thou shalt begin with shame. ‘Begin’ hints at the lingering in the coveted place, and the shame rises as the crestfallen one goes lower and lower.

The lowest place. Farthest away from the honorable places, since the intermediate ones would be al-already occupied.

Verse 10

Luke 14:10. The opposite course and its results are described.

That. Our Lord does not bid them take a low place, for the purpose of being put higher. That would be false humility. This result is the purpose of God, who commands this conduct.

Have honor, lit., ‘glory,’ in contrast with ‘shame’ (Luke 14:9). ‘Worship’ was intended to convey the same idea. There is nothing to warrant the idea that our Lord and His disciples were themselves in the lower places, and ought to have been invited to come up higher. Such hints about promotion at a Pharisee’s feast would not come from our Lord.

Verse 11

Luke 14:11. Humbled. The same word in both clauses. The principle here set forth was repeated by our Lord on a number of occasions (Matthew 23:12; Luke 18:14), and formed one of the main truths of His teaching. We are to apply it in the widest sense, but especially with reference to the kingdom of God (viewed as a feast), into which state of exaltation only the humble enter, while those who exalt themselves, not only do not enter, but are cast into a state of positive abasement.

Verse 12

Luke 14:12. To him also that had bidden him. These remarks imply that the host on this occasion had invited the chief persons of the place, and that he expected to receive some return from them. It was probably in a town in Perea, neither a large city nor a rural district, but just of that intermediate kind, where questions of position are deemed so important. The whole account is exceedingly apt and true to life.

Call not thy friends. ‘Call,’ here means more than ‘invite,’ it implies a loud calling, an ostentatious invitation, so that the whole town knows of the entertainment. The word will bear pondering wherever people sound a trumpet before their feasts. This is not a positive prohibition of entertaining one’s friends and neighbors. Such intercourse is taken for granted. What is forbidden is the thought that this is hospitality, or in itself praiseworthy.

A recompense be made thee. Feasts, etc., are largely mere matters of business, not of kindness. Taken in connection with Luke 14:14, this implies that everything of that kind, however allowable, has no high moral quality, results in no reward in the future world. All expenses for entertainments, for which we expect a return, are expenses for self and not for others. If such entertainments prevent real charity (Luke 14:13) they are forbidden.

Verse 13

Luke 14:13. Bid. Not the word used in Luke 14:12; the quiet invitation is meant. Sounding a trumpet before such a feast is forbidden in Matthew 6:1-2.

The poor, etc. This is to be taken as including all modes of providing for the wants of the classes referred to. There is little danger that it will be understood too literally. As the same classes are spoken of in the parable (Luke 14:21), it is a fair inference that in so doing we follow God’s own example.

Verse 14

Luke 14:14. And then shalt be blessed, because they have not wherewith to recompense thee. This implies that the benevolence has been done without hope of return, excluding the recompense from ‘the praise of men.’ The proof that the blessing will come is added: for thou shalt be recompensed, etc. Earthly recompense amounts to nothing; it gives no blessing. All outlay with the hope of return is a mere squandering upon self. But providing for the poor, etc., is lending to the Lord; He will repay it, and His promise is the security for the blessedness referred to. Our Lord, of course, does not here encourage charity for the purpose of obtaining a future reward. The reward comes, but it is still of grace.

In the resurrection of the just. This refers to the first resurrection, and implies a second one (comp. 1 Corinthians 15:22; 1 Thessalonians 4:16; Revelation 20:4-5). Our Lord says nothing of an intervening millennium, but the guest who spoke next evidently alludes to it.

Verse 15

Luke 14:15. One of them, etc. The company this ‘one’ was in and the parable which his remark called forth, oppose the view that he sympathized with our Lord. Some think it was merely an attempt at a diversion; since our Lord’s remarks were unpleasantly telling. It is more probable that the man, hearing of the resurrection of the just, at once thought of the great feast (the millennial feast) which the Jews expected would follow, and thus spoke with the common Jewish idea that his admission to that feast was a certainty.

Verse 16

Luke 14:16. A certain man. Here representing God, since the parable conveys a lesson about eating bread ‘in the kingdom of God’ (Luke 14:15).

A great supper. The figure suggested by the last remark is taken up. God prepares ‘a feast of fat things’ (Isaiah 25:6), which is to culminate in the marriage supper of the Lamb. The immediate reference is to gospel privileges. While the Lord’s Supper is not directly alluded to, it may well be regarded as the sign and seal of the privileges here represented, and as the pledge of the more glorious feast in the future.

And bade many. The ‘many’ represent the Jewish nation, but especially the Pharisees and the rulers (see Luke 14:21). The first invitation was given through the ancient prophets, the feast being still in the future.

Verses 16-24

Luke 14:16-24. THE PARABLE OF THE GREAT SUPPER. The force of the parable, as an answer to the guest is this: ‘What advantage can it be that you, with all your seeming enthusiasm, praise the happiness of those who eat bread in the kingdom of God, if you and those like you, although you are invited, refuse to come.’ The parable of the wedding of the King’s son (Matthew 22:2-14), delivered later, is much stronger than this one, bringing out more fully the thought of judgment.

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Verse 17

Luke 14:17. Sent his servant. This was usual in the East (comp. Matthew 22:3). As but one servant is spoken of, and but one such invitation, we must understand this as representing Christ Himself, who came to those invited, saying: come, for things are now ready, i.e., ‘the kingdom of heaven is at hand’ (Matthew 4:17). See further on Matthew 22:4. The immediate invitation is based on the fact, that preparation had been made. ‘All’ is to be omitted, but is a correct explanation of the full sense. The gospel, telling of the facts of salvation, repeats this announcement; it is always a message sent through Christ (‘His servant’).

Verse 18

Luke 14:18. And they all. The exceptions among the rulers and Pharisees were so few, that this feature of the parable might well be thus stated.

With one consent, or ‘accord.’ All in the same spirit, although the excuses are different as well as the manner in which they were made. All were prompted by worldliness , though in different forms.

To make excuse. They acknowledged the obligation to some extent.

I have bought a field, etc. This represents the man of business, occupied with his possessions, yet not uncourteous, but pleading necessity: I must needs go out and see it. Not that he had bought it without seeing it, but that it needed looking after, or it may refer to a chance for a bargain, which depended on his going out to see the land just then.

Verse 19

Luke 14:19. I have bought five yoke of oxen. This one too is hindered by his possessions, but he does not plead necessity; he was going to prove them, had started as it were, and preferred not to alter his plan. The first represents one so pressed with business, that he thinks he cannot find time to attend to a higher obligation which he still acknowledges ; the second, one so interested in his worldly plans that he will not relinquish them, though he feels that he must excuse his conduct

Verse 20

Luke 14:20. I have married a wife. According to the Mosaic law (Deuteronomy 24:5), a newly married man was free from military duty for a year. Hence the abrupt tone: and therefore I cannot come. Home engagements are often the most pressing, as they are also when sanctified the most pious, but the excuse was not valid: the invitation had been accepted before, the wife should have been induced to go with him, etc. Back of all this lies the thought, that worldly gratification hindered this one.

Verse 21

Luke 14:21. Being angry. God has ‘wrath’ in such circumstances.

Go out quickly. This substitution of guests took place at once, both in the parable and in fact

Into the broad ways and streets of the city. Still in the city, i.e., among the Jews.

The poor, etc. The very same classes as in Luke 14:13. From these no excuses were to be feared: ‘the blind had no field to view, the lame could not go behind his oxen, the maimed had no wife who could have hindered him from coming; only the feeling of poverty could have held them back; but this feeling also vanishes, since they must be in a friendly way led in by the servant’ (Van Oosterzee.) They represent the wretched and despised, ‘publicans and sinners,’ whom the ‘servant’ quickly brought in; since already they listened eagerly to the Saviour. But the absence of hindrance did not imply fitness for the feast.

Verse 22

Luke 14:22. What thou didst command is done. Indicating the rapid success among this class. Strictly speaking the servant implies that he had already done this after the first had excused themselves, and before he returned to the Lord. And so it was : Before our Saviour went back from earth, He had already invited this class and was leading them in.

And yet there is room. The servant would have the guest-room filled : Bengel: ‘Not only nature, but grace also, abhors a vacuum.

Verse 23

Luke 14:23. Go out into the highways and hedges. This refers to the spread of the gospel among the Gentiles. ‘Quickly’ is not added, for this was a work of time. This succeeds the return of the servant, as the calling of the Gentiles did the Ascension of Christ. This going out was done through others, and it may be intentional, that there is no mention of the same servant’s himself undertaking this duty.

Constrain them to come in. Moral constraint alone is meant. True missionary zeal so differs from all other impulse that it may well be spoken of as a ‘constraining’ of men to enter the kingdom of God.

That my house may be filled. Since the days of St. Augustine this passage has been abused to countenance the forcible compulsion of heretics. Guests will be ‘furnished:’ God’s purposes of mercy will not fail.

Verse 24

Luke 14:24. For I say to you. It is a question whether this is the language of the giver of the feast or of Christ in His own person. Our Lord is represented as ‘servant’ throughout the parable, and ‘my supper’ seems more appropriate in the mouth of the lord of the servant; but ‘you’ is plural, and we have no mention of any one else than the servant as present during the conversation. The whole discourse gains greater vividness and point, if we regard the parable as closed in Luke 14:23, and our Lord as directly applying it here. And this is the more likely, since the whole lesson of the parable is summed up in the words: None of those men.... shall taste of my supper. As if He would say: This is the eating Dread in the kingdom of God, to which you look forward; though it is God’s feast, to which God has invited, it is ‘my supper,’ given in my honor, though I have come ‘in the form of a servant’ to invite you; and none of you will enter, because in refusing me, you refuse to obey the second summons of God who has before invited you through His word. This discourse probably increased the already pronounced hostility.

Verse 25

Luke 14:25. There went, etc. A continued journeying with Him is meant. The multitudes were probably from different places: Those who originally followed Him from Galilee, others from Perea, and various companies on the way to the approaching Passover feast.

Verses 25-35

THE discourse was delivered, on the way to Jerusalem, probably very shortly after the meal in the Pharisee’s house (Luke 14:1-24). The place was therefore Perea, and the time one of the three days referred to in chap. Luke 13:32-33. He was followed by multitudes and yet was on the direct road to death. The nearer He approached His own passion, the more decidedly must He test those who were following Him, revealing more and more the high requirements of discipleship. The seemingly stern language was uttered out of love, to prepare those in earnest for the realities before them, and to separate the wheat from the chaff.

Verse 26

Luke 14:26. See on Matthew 10:37. Which was addressed to the Twelve.

Hate not. The demand is for supreme love to Christ: father, and mother, etc., are placed here as objects which may and often do interfere with this supreme love. In so far as they do this, they are to be hated, not actively and personally, but generally. The meaning will best appear, if we notice the crowning thought: yea, and his own life also. This cannot, of course, mean that a man should actively hate his life or soul, for then he must kill himself to become a Christian. All belonging solely to the sphere of the lower life, as opposed to the life of the Spirit, must be opposed in heart, i.e. , actually hated. The power to love implies the power to hate. Alford : ‘This hate is not only consistent with, but absolutely necessary to the very highest kind of love. It is that element in love which makes a man a wise and Christian friend, not for time only but for eternity.’

Verse 27

Luke 14:27. See on Matthew 10:38; Matthew 16:24; Mark 8:34; Luke 9:23. While our Lord had foretold His death, He had not announced that He would be crucified ; so that this saying must have sounded strangely to the multitude. Notice that both verses speak of being a disciple, not simply becoming one. The permanent requirement of discipleship is stated.

Verse 28

Luke 14:28. For which of you. By two illustrations our Lord enforces the requirements just stated.

To build a tower, a structure of some importance, and involving considerable expense. The prudent way is described: first the plan; second, the careful consideration of what is required to carry it out; third, the examination whether the resources will suffice.

Verses 29-30

Luke 14:29-30. Lest haply, etc. The probable consequence of any other way of proceeding is described: first, failure to finish; second, the mockery of others at the failure. The leading thought here enforced is : entire self-renunciation is necessary to be a disciple of Christ. The building the tower represents the purpose and wish to be such a disciple; the counting the cost, the careful consideration of the requirements of discipleship (self-renunciation); then comes the question of ability to meet them. Our Lord does not say that if the means are insufficient the design should be given up, since He invites all to become His disciples. In one sense the means will always be insufficient, since no one is able of himself to meet these requirements; in another, they will always be sufficient, since we can ever look to Christ for strength. Our Lord here presses the one point of the great necessity for earnest consideration of the requirements He had announced and proper self-examination, in view of the folly of any other course, both then and now. The world has not laughed without reason at the half-Christianity which has resulted from such spasms of piety.

Verse 31

Luke 14:31. Or what king. The former illustration gives prominence to the folly, this to the danger, of following Christ, without due consideration of the requirements of discipleship (self-renunciation). Going to battle against overwhelming odds is dangerous folly. The king with ten thousand represents the man who would become a disciple, and the original indicates that this is all the force he can muster. The other king, with twenty thousand, represents God. For the natural man is at variance with God, and when one would become a Christian the first feeling is that God with His holy law is coming against him. The original indicates that the forces of this king are simply those he chooses to employ, not all he has. Success is hopeless, if we strive with Him. Here the inadequacy of our resources comes out.

Verse 32

Luke 14:32. Asketh conditions of peace. This represents our throwing ourselves upon God’s mercy in view of our own insufficiency. ‘A Christian’s weakness is his strength.’ Thus the previous illustration is supplemented. This making of peace opposes the view that the conflict is with Satan or with sin. We are naturally at peace with these. When we feel that Satan is too powerful an adversary, we do not make peace, or ask for an armistice, but ask God to help us, and until we turn to Him, we never feel that Satan is an adversary. Another reason for preferring the other interpretation is that it alone brings in a gospel thought of mercy, which would scarcely be wanting even in so severe a discourse.

Verse 33

Luke 14:33. So then, etc. The illustrations are applied to the principle laid down in Luke 14:26-27. Unless one is prepared to do this, after due consideration and with a full view of his own insufficiency, he cannot be my disciple.

Verse 34

Luke 14:34. Salt therefore is good. ‘Therefore’ connects this favorite aphorism with what precedes. It is good then to be my disciple, in the way of self-renunciation, and thus to be the means of conserving spiritual life among men, just as salt does in the natural world ; but if even the salt, which is very unnatural and unlikely, have lost its savor, if my disciple through a return to selfishness loses this peculiarity, where-with shall it be seasoned? Our Lord is warning from a human point of view, and not giving prominence to His own Almighty sustaining power, as in passages like John 10:28-29. The same remark applies to Luke 14:29.

Verse 35

Luke 14:35. Neither for the land, nor for the dunghill. Fuller than Matthew 5:13: ‘good for nothing.’ It is not useful directly or indirectly.

Men east it out (emphatically), because it is thus useless.

He that hath ears to hear, etc. This common formula calls attention to the importance of what had been said, implying that it has an application to all the hearers, and admonishing them to make that application to their own hearts.

Bibliographical Information
Schaff, Philip. "Commentary on Luke 14". "Schaff's Popular Commentary on the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/scn/luke-14.html. 1879-90.
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