Bible Commentaries
Luke 9

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

Search for…
Enter query below:
Additional Authors

Verses 1-17

CHRONOLOGY. From Matthew we learn that the miracle narrated in the last section was followed immediately by others (Matthew 9:27-34). From Mark (Mark 6:1-6) we infer that our Lord then visited Nazareth and was again rejected (Matthew places this out of its order; Matthew 13:54-58). Then began the third circuit through Galilee (Matthew 9:35; Mark 6:6), during which the Twelve were sent forth. The events in this section are in their chronological order. Luke is very brief, presenting no new details.

Luke 9:1-6. THE SENDING OUT OF THE TWELVE. See on Matthew 10:5-15; Mark 6:7-13. The latter passage agrees almost exactly with Luke’s account; Matthew (Matthew 10:16-42) adds a part of the discourse not given by the other two.

The twelve (Luke 9:1). This brief form agrees with Luke’s usage.

To heal the sick (Luke 9:2). Some good authorities omit ‘the sick,’ which Luke, as a physician, might deem unnecessary.

Against them (Luke 9:5). More definite than ‘to them,’ which is found in Matthew and Mark.

Verses 7-9

Luke 9:7-9. THE ALARM OF HEROD. See on Matthew 14:1-12; Mark 6:14-29. The other two Evangelists give in this connection the particulars of the death of John the Baptist; Luke, who has given so full an account of his birth, only alludes to it.

Heard of all that was done. ‘By Him’ is a proper explanation, but not in the original. Herod heard of the miracles wrought by the Twelve, but thus ‘ His name was spread abroad’ (Mark).

Because that it was said by some. The difference of opinion only served to increase the perplexity of his bad conscience.

Elijah had appeared (Luke 9:8). Not ‘had risen,’ for Elijah had not died.

John I beheaded, etc. (Luke 9:9). ‘I’ is emphatic (according to the usual reading in the second clause also), indicating both terror of conscience at the past act, and uncertainty about this person of whom he hears so much. His desire to see Him was due to this feeling.

Verses 10-17

Luke 9:10-17. THE FEEDING OF THE FIVE THOUSAND. See on Matthew 14:13-21; Mark 6:30-44; John 6:1-13. Luke’s account presents no new details, except the mention of the locality: to a city called Bethsaida. The words translated: ‘a desert place belonging to,’ are not genuine; and were probably inserted to make the various accounts correspond. There need be no difficulty here. The Bethsaida spoken of was Bethsaida Julias, on the eastern side of the lake. The other Evangelists expressly state that our Lord and His disciples went ‘in a boat’ thither; Luke omits all reference to this. As the Twelve had been preaching in Galilee, Eastern Bethsaida would be across the lake, and so situated, that the easiest way thither would be by sea, and yet that the multitudes could go on foot (Matthew, Mark) round the head of the lake. (It is doubtful whether there was another Bethsaida.) Comp, on Matthew 14:22; Mark 6:45.

Welcomed them. This hints at what is more fully stated by Mark (Mark 6:34.) The account of the miracle itself presents no new details; but it is significant that Luke, who says nothing of the second feeding of the four thousand, uses the word for baskets (Luke 9:17), which all three Evangelists employ in telling of this miracle, and not the one which Matthew and Mark each uses twice in speaking of the other miracle. This is the more remarkable, as we have four accounts of the one miracle, two of the other, and two allusions to both. In all this distinction is preserved. This miracle, so profound in its meaning, the only one mentioned by all the Evangelists, is the rock on which all destructive criticism makes shipwreck. Where God would give bread, such critics find a stone, a stone of stumbling.

Verses 18-27

Luke 9:18-27. THE CONFESSION OF PETER , etc. See on Matthew 16:13-28; Mark 8:27-38. This account agrees closely with the others, although briefer.

As he was praying alone (Luke 9:18). Peculiar to Luke. The prayer was a preparation for the revelation. The disciples joined Him, and ‘in the way’ (Mark) the conversation took place.

Unto all (Luke 9:23). See Mark 9:34.

When he cometh, etc. (Luke 9:26). Luke’s account is fullest in this clause. Meyer: ‘The glory is threefold: ( 1 .) His own, which He has of and for Himself as the exalted Messiah; ( 2 .) the glory of God, which accompanies Him as coming down from God’s throne; ( 3 .) the glory of the angels, who surround Him with their brightness.’

Verses 18-36

CONTENTS. This section presents ‘the glory of the Son of man confessed on earth and ratified from heaven.’ Luke is much briefer than Matthew and Mark. He omits the promise to Peter (with Mark), and also the rebuke of Peter, which Mark retains. In the account of the transfiguration we find a few additional particulars. The conversation about Elijah is not mentioned.

CHRONOLOGY. The events intervening between the feeding of the five thousand and the confession of Peter were numerous and important. The other three Evangelists all tell of Christ’s walking on the sea during the night after the first miracle of the loaves. Arriving at Capernaum, He delivered a discourse there (John 6:22-71). The Passover (one year before His death) was at hand (John 6:4). This year was virtually one of persecution. The effect was to lead our Lord into retirement, and to bring out plainer declarations to the disciples. Matthew (chaps, 15 , 16 ) and Mark (chaps, 7 , 8 ) tell how he passed into the coasts of Tyre and Sidon, returning to Decapolis, feeding four thousand there, sailing to Magadan, where new opposition encountered Him, then recrossing the lake, when an opportunity was afforded Him of warning His disciples against the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees, journeying from Bethsaida Julius near which they had landed to the region of Cesarea Philippi, where the confession of Peter was made. All these important events are passed over by Luke. But unless we know of the previous and growing hostility narrated by the other Evangelists, the prediction of Luke 9:22 seems abrupt, and Luke 9:51 inexplicable. We can as little determine why Luke omits so much at this point, as why the others pass over the events of the next six months, which are so fully narrated in chaps, 10 - 18. Thus the Gospels supplement each other, but with no evidence of such a purpose on the part of the Evangelists.

Verses 28-36

Luke 9:28-36. THE TRANSFIGURATION. See on Matthew 17:1-9; Mark 9:2-8.

About eight days (Luke 9:28). About a week = ‘after six days’ (Matthew, Mark).

Was altered (Luke 9:29). Luke does not use the word translated, ‘transfigured,’ possibly because it would suggest to his readers the fables about the metamorphoses of heathen deities.

Spake of his decease (Luke 9:31). Peculiar to Luke. It means His death, although it probably includes the Resurrection and Ascension. See on Matthew 17:2.

Verse 32

Luke 9:32. Heavy with sleep. It was probably at night, and their drowsiness was natural: but they did not go to sleep, for the next phrase means, yet having remained awake , ‘sleeplessly watching.’ It was not a vision of half sleeping men.

Verse 33

Luke 9:33. As they were parting. This particular, peculiar to Luke, explains the language of Peter. He wished to detain the two representatives of the Old Covenant. The statement: not knowing what he was saying ( lit., saith). Even with the explanation, Peter’s suggestion was not well considered.

Verse 34

Luke 9:34. As they ( i.e., Moses, Elijah, and our Lord) entered the cloud. The fear was a growing one, beginning as they saw the company (Mark), increasing as that company entered the cloud (Luke), culminating as the voice was heard (Matthew).

Verse 35

Luke 9:35. My Son, my chosen one. The words were not spoken in Greek, and the actual word used might be translated into Greek by either of the terms, ‘beloved’ or ‘chosen.’

Verse 36

Luke 9:36. And they held their peace. The result of the command mentioned by Matthew and Mark.

Verses 37-42

Luke 9:37-42. THE HEALING OFTHE DEMONIAC BOY. See on Matthew 17:14-21; Mark 9:14-29. Luke is briefest, Mark fullest.

For he is mine only child (Luke 9:38). Peculiar to Luke.

And he suddenly crieth out (Luke 9:39) i.e. , the child . The rapid change of subject, first the spirit, then the child, then the spirit again, shows the intimate connection of possessed and possessing.

Bruising him grievously. Comp. Mark 9:26: ‘rent him sore.’

Verses 37-50

LUKE is here very brief, presenting few new details. All three Gospels place the events recorded in this section just before our Lord’s final departure from Galilee (Luke 9:51).

Verse 43

Luke 9:43. The division of the verses is unfortunate; the first clause of this verse should be joined with Luke 9:42; see the paragraph in our text

And they were all astonished. The multitude in contrast with the disciples.

At the majesty of God, as displayed in this miracle.

But while all were marvelling. Quite indefinite. The conversation took place on the private journey to Capernaum, as we learn from the other accounts.

Verses 43-45

Luke 9:43-45. OUR LORD’S SECOND PREDICTION OF HIS DEATH. See Matthew 17:22-23; Mark 9:30-32. From the other accounts we learn that this prediction was made as they were passing privately through Galilee to Capernaum.

Verse 44

Luke 9:44. Let these sayings, etc. The original gives an emphasis brought out by rendering as follows: ‘As for you, let,’ etc. The disciples are meant. From Mark 9:31 we infer that, during the journey, our Lord gave repeated and extended intimations of His death, to prepare His disciples for the journey towards Jerusalem. ‘These sayings’ refers to these intimations.

For the Son of man shall be, ‘is about to be,’ etc. They should take heed, because the time of fulfilment was approaching. Others refer ‘these sayings’ to the eulogies of the people (Luke 9:43). ‘The disciples are to bear in memory these admiring speeches on account of the contrast in which His own fate would now appear with the same. These are therefore to build no hopes upon them.’ Meyer. But the very next paragraph shows that they already overestimated worldly applause, and the contrast is far from being obvious.

Verse 45

Luke 9:45. It was hid from them, that they should not perceive it. Peculiar to Luke. The meaning is plain. They were not permitted to understand the full meaning. Only those who fail to notice the necessity for careful training in the case of the disciples, will doubt the gracious character of this method of concealing in order to reveal.

Verses 46-50

Luke 9:46-50. THE DISCIPLES REBUKED for their emulation and exclusiveness. See on Matthew 18:1-5; Mark 9:33-40; especially the latter. In the briefer narrative of Luke there is nothing at variance with the other accounts.

Luke 9:46 declares the fact of a dispute, and Luke 9:47 assumes that it was not spoken out before our Lord, but perceived by Him and brought to judgment. Luke notes the perception of their thought; Mark, the way in which the matter was brought up by our Lord; Matthew, their submission of the question to His decision.

He that is not against you is for you (Luke 9:50). This reading is to be accepted, and it presents substantially the same thought as that of the E. V. (and of Mark 9:40). The disciples (‘you’) represent Christ and His people (‘us’). On the connection of thought in Luke 9:49-50, see notes on Mark 9:38.

Verse 51

Luke 9:51. When the days were being fulfilled . When the time was near, when the days of the final period were come, not when the time itself had come.

That he should be received up, i.e., into heaven. The clause cannot mean that the days of His favorable reception in Galilee were at an end. The apparent difficulty, that His Ascension did not take place until months afterwards, is met at once by considering that the Evangelist does not imply an immediate ascension, but rather regards the history from this point as a journey to death and subsequent glorification.

He steadfastly set his face. He not only had but showed the fixed purpose, to go to Jerusalem . He saw what was before Him there, and went to meet it.

Verses 51-62

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 52

Luke 9:52. Messengers. Supposed, but without reason, to have been the two sons of Zebedee.

Samaritans. The direct route towards Jerusalem from Galilee lay through Samaria. See on Matthew 10:5; and John 4:9.

To make ready for him. To provide food and shelter for Him and the large party accompanying Him. Yet they probably also announced His coming as the Messiah; since in Samaria this was not concealed (John 4:26) as in Judea and Galilee.

Verse 53

Luke 9:53. And they did not receive him. Refused to grant the needed accommodations. This was doubtless done through the messengers. Of course they thus rejected Him as the Messiah.

As though he were going. ‘As though he were’ is supplied in translating. The ground of rejection was that His going to Jerusalem (not to Gerizim) as the Messiah opposed their Samaritan expectations. What humiliation for the King of heaven that He was refused lodging in an unnamed village! But it was met with love, not with anger.

Verse 54

Luke 9:54. Saw this. On the return of the messengers. Probably the company was now very near the village, and may have noticed some signs of opposition from the inhabitants. Comp. Acts 8:14-17, where John’s apostolic visit to Samaria is mentioned. ‘Even as Elijah did’ (2 Kings 1:10; 2 Kings 1:12). This clause is wanting in some of the oldest and best manuscripts, though found in ancient versions. It was readily supplied.

Verse 55

Luke 9:55. ‘Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of.’ All the words of our Lord’s rebuke (Luke 9:55-56) are omitted in the best manuscripts, but found in many early versions. Some take the clause as a question: Know ye not what manner of spirit, etc. The thought is: ‘Ye know not of what spirit you are the instruments when speaking thus; you think that you are working a miracle of faith in my service, but you are obeying a spirit alien from mine. (Godet, following Augustine and Calvin.)

Verse 56

Luke 9:56. The first part of this verse is even less supported than the doubtful passages of Luke 9:54-55.

And they went to another village. This may not have been a Samaritan village, as they probably had just entered Samaria. It is possible, but improbable, that after this rejection our Lord did not go further into Samaria.

Verse 57

Luke 9:57. As they went in the way. Quite indefinite.

A certain man. According to Matthew the man was a ‘scribe.’ The indefinite form permits us to suppose that the conversation is placed by Luke out of its proper chronological order. But this position shows that Luke did not regard any of these questioners as called to be Apostles. Lange conjectures this. See further on Matthew 8:19-22.

Verse 60

Luke 9:60. But go thou and publish abroad the kingdom of God. Peculiar to Luke. ‘Publish abroad,’ pointing to a wide announcement, suggests the possibility that this incident was connected with the sending out of the Seventy.

Verse 61

Luke 9:61. But first suffer me to bid farewell to them that are at my house. The case of this man is mentioned by Luke only. His request was natural. Some, without good reason, explain: set in order the things in my house, with a view to renouncing them.

Verse 62

Luke 9:62. No man, having put his hand to the plough, etc. The figure is easily understood, especially when we remember that the plough used in the East was easily overturned. Such labor, with divided service and longing looks backward will be profitless and doubly toilsome. Such a laborer is no fitting one. While the primary application is to the ministry, the verse has an important lesson for all. All have ground to break, and it is here rather than in the harvesting that the labor is most discouraging and whatever makes their service a divided one is forbidden. These conversations have one common lesson: conditional following of Christ is impossible. The three chief impediments here illustrated are: earthly desire, earthly sorrow, earthly affection.

Bibliographical Information
Schaff, Philip. "Commentary on Luke 9". "Schaff's Popular Commentary on the New Testament". 1879-90.