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Bible Commentaries

The Fourfold Gospel

Luke 11

Verses 1-13


LXXXVI.
PRAYER TAUGHT AND ENCOURAGED.
(Probably Judæa.)
cLUKE XI. 1-13.

c1 And it came to pass, as he was praying in a certain place, that when he ceased, one of his disciples said unto him, Lord, teach us to pray, even as John also taught his disciples. [Jesus had already taught his disciples how to pray in the Sermon on the Mount. This disciple probably thought that the prayer already taught was too brief to be sufficient, especially as Jesus often prayed so long. It was customary for the rabbis to give their disciples forms of prayer, and the Baptist seems to have followed this practice, though the prayer taught by him appears soon to have been forgotten.] 2 And he said unto them, When ye pray, say, Father, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. 3 Give us day by day our daily bread 4 And forgive us our sins; for we also forgive every one that is indebted to us. And bring us not into temptation. [The form given by Matthew is fuller [479] than this. See Isaiah 42:6, Genesis 18:23-33, Matthew 15:27, Matthew 15:28.] 9 And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. 10 For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened. 11 And of which of you that is a father shall his son ask a loaf, and he give him a stone? or a fish, and he for a fish give him a serpent? 12 Or if he shall ask an egg, will he give him a scorpion? 13 If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him? [The substance of this passage is recorded by Matthew as a portion of the Sermon on the Mount. See Luke 11:12 is peculiar to Luke, and in Luke 11:13, Matthew 7:11 Matthew has "good things" where Luke has "Holy Spirit." The Holy Spirit is the best of all gifts, being as necessary to the soul as food to the body. The scorpion is an insect somewhat similar to a small lobster. It is two or three inches long, and has a sting at the end of its tail which is about as severe as that of a wasp. The old commentators tell us that the white scorpion, when rolled up, closely resembled an egg.] [481]

[FFG 479-481]

Verses 14-23


XLVIII.
BLASPHEMOUS ACCUSATIONS OF THE JEWS.
(Galilee.)
aMATT. XII. 22-37; bMARK III. 19-30; cLUKE XI. 14-23.

b19 And he cometh into a house. [Whose house is not stated.] 20 And the multitude cometh together again [as on a previous occasion-- Mark 2:1], so that they could not so much as eat bread. [They could not sit down to a regular meal. A wonderful picture of the intense importunity of people and the corresponding eagerness of Jesus, who was as willing to do as they were to have done.] 21 And when his friends heard it, they went out to lay hold on him: for they said, He is beside himself. [These friends were his brothers and his mother, as appears from Mark 3:31, Mark 3:32. They probably came from Nazareth. To understand their feelings, we must bear in mind their want of [298] faith. See John 7:3-9. They regarded Jesus as carried away by his religious enthusiasm ( Acts 26:24, 2 Corinthians 5:13), and thought that he acted with reckless regard for his personal safety. They foresaw the conflict with the military authorities and the religious leaders into which the present course of Jesus was leading, and were satisfied that the case called for their interference. Despite her knowledge as to Jesus, Mary sympathized with her sons in this movement, and feared for the safety of Jesus.] a22 Then was brought unto him one possessed with a demon, blind and dumb: {c14 And he was casting out a demon that was dumb.} aand he healed him, insomuch that cit came to pass, when the demon was gone out, athe dumb man spake and saw. [The man was brought because he could not come alone. While Luke does not mention the blindness, the similarity of the narratives makes it most likely that he is describing the same circumstances as Matthew and Mark, so we have combined the three accounts.] 23 And all the multitudes cmarvelled. awere amazed, and said, Can this be the son of David? [It was a time for amazement, for Jesus had performed a triple if not a quadruple miracle, restoring liberty, hearing and sight, and granting the power of speech. It wakened the hope that Jesus might be the Messiah, the son of David, but their hope is expressed in the most cautious manner, not only being stated as a question, but as a question which expects a negative answer. The question, however, was well calculated to arouse the envious opposition of the Pharisees.] c15 But some of them said [that is, some of the multitude. Who these "some" were is revealed by Matthew and Mark, thus:], a24 But when the Pharisees heard it, they b22 and the scribes that came down from Jerusalem said, aThis man doth not cast out demons, but by Beelzebub the prince of the demons. bHe hath Beelzebub, and, By the prince of the demons casteth he out the demons. [Beelzebub is a corruption of Baalzebub, the god of the fly. There was a tendency among the heathen to name [299] their gods after the pests which they were supposed to avert. Thus Zeus was called Apomuios (Averter of flies), and Apollo Ipuktonos (Slayer of vermin). How Beelzebub became identified with Satan in the Jewish mind is not known. In opposing the influence of Jesus and corrupting the public mind, these Pharisees showed a cunning worthy of the cultivated atmosphere, the seat of learning whence they came. Being unable to deny that a miracle was wrought (for Celsus in the second century is the first recorded person who had the temerity to do such a thing), they sought to so explain it as to reverse its potency, making it an evidence of diabolical rather than divine power. Their explanation was cleverly plausible, for there were at least two powers by which demons might be cast out, as both were invisible, it might appear impossible to decide whether it was done in this instance by the power of God or of Satan. It was an explanation very difficult to disprove, and Jesus himself considered it worthy of the very thorough reply which follows.] c16 And others, trying him, sought of him a sign from heaven. [These probably felt that the criticisms of the Pharisees were unjust, and wished that Jesus might put them to silence by showing some great sign, such as the pillar of cloud which sanctioned the guidance of Moses, or the descending fire which vindicated Elijah.] b23 And he called them unto him [thus singling out his accusers], a25 And {c17 But} aknowing their thoughts he said unto them, bin parables [We shall find that Jesus later replied to those who sought a sign. He here answers his accusers in a fourfold argument. First argument:], How can Satan cast out Satan? aEvery kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and every city or house [family] divided against itself shall not stand: b24 And if a kingdom be divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. cA house divided against a house falleth. {b25 And if a house be divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand.} a26 And if Satan cast out Satan, he is divided against himself; c18 And if Satan also is [300] divided against himself, ahow then shall his kingdom stand? b26 And if Satan hath risen up against himself, and is divided, he cannot stand, but hath an end. cbecause ye say that I cast out demons by Beelzebub. [The explanation given by the Pharisees represented Satan as divided against himself; robbing himself of his greatest achievement; namely, his triumph over the souls and bodies of men. Jesus argues, not that Satan could not do this, but that he would not, and that therefore the explanation which supposes him to do it is absurd. We should note that Jesus here definitely recognizes two important truths: 1. That the powers of evil are organized into a kingdom with a head ( Matthew 13:29, Matthew 25:41, Mark 4:15, Luke 22:31). 2. That division tends to destruction. His argument therefore, "constitutes an incidental but strong argument against sectarianism. See 1 Corinthians 1:13" (Abbott). Second argument:] 19 And if I by Beelzebub cast out demons, by whom do your sons cast them out? Therefore shall they be your judges. [The sons of the Pharisees were not their children, but their disciples ( 2 Kings 2:3, Acts 19:13, Acts 19:14). Josephus mentions these exorcists (Ant. viii. 2, 5, and Wars vii. 6, 3), and there is abundant mention of them in later rabbinical books. Our Lord’s reference to them was merely for the purpose of presenting an argumentum ad hominem, and in no way implies that they exercised any real power over the demons; nor could they have done so in any marked degree, else the similar work of Christ would not have created such an astonishment. The argument therefore is this, I have already shown you that it is against reason that Satan cast out Satan; I now show you that it is against experience. The only instances of dispossession which you can cite are those of your own disciples. Do they act by the power of Satan? They therefore shall be your judges as to whether you have spoken rightly in saying that Satan casts out Satan. Third argument:] 20 But if I with the finger {aby the Spirit} of God cast out demons, then is the kingdom of God come upon you. [The finger of God signifies the power of God [301] ( Exodus 8:19, Exodus 31:18, Psalms 8:3). [Jesus exercised this power in unison with the Spirit of God. Jesus here draws a conclusion from the two arguments presented. Since he does not cast out by Satan, he must cast out by the power of God, and therefore his actions demonstrated the potential arrival of the kingdom of God. The occasional accidental deliverance of exorcists might be evidence of the flow and ebb of a spiritual battle, but the steady, daily conquests of Christ over the powers of evil presented to the people the triumphant progress of an invading kingdom. It is an argument against the idea that there was a collusion between Christ and Satan. Fourth argument:] c21 When the strong man fully armed guardeth his own court, his goods are in peace: 22 but when a stronger than he shall come upon him, and overcome him, he taketh from him his whole armor wherein he trusted, and divided his spoils. b27 But no one can {a29 Or how can one} enter into the house of the strong man, and spoil his goods, except he first bind the strong man? and then will he spoil his house. [Satan is the strong man, his house the body of the demoniac, and his goods the evil spirit within the man. Jesus had entered his house, and robbed him of his goods; and this proved that, instead of being in league with Satan, he had overpowered Satan. Thus Jesus put to shame the Pharisees, and caused the divinity of his miracle to stand out in clearer light than ever. The power of Jesus to dispossess the demon was one of his most convincing credentials, and its meaning now stood forth in its true light.] 30 He that is not with me is against me; and he that gathereth not with me scattereth abroad. [Jesus here addresses the bystanders. In the spiritual conflict between Jesus and Satan, neutrality is impossible. There are only two kingdoms, and every soul is either in one or the other, for there is no third. Hence one who fought Satan in the name of Christ was for Christ ( Luke 9:50). In the figure of gathering and scattering, the people are compared to a flock of sheep which Jesus would gather into the fold, but which Satan and all who aid him (such as the Pharisees) would [302] scatter and destroy.] b28 Verily a31 Therefore I say unto you, Every sins and blasphemy {ball their sins} shall be forgiven unto the sons of men, and their blasphemies wherewith soever they shall blaspheme [Jesus here explains to the Pharisees the awful meaning of their enmity. Blasphemy is any kind of injurious speech. It is the worst form of sin, as we see by this passage. This does not declare that every man shall be forgiven all his sins, but that all kinds of sin committed by various men shall be forgiven. The forgiveness is universal as to the sin, not as to the men]: abut the blasphemy against the Spirit shall not be forgiven. 32 And whosoever shall speak a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him; but whosoever shall speak {bblaspheme} against the Holy Spirit hath never forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin: ait shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, nor in that which is to come. b30 because they said, He hath an unclean spirit. [Blasphemy against the Son may be a temporary sin, for the one who commits it may be subsequently convinced of his error by the testimony of the Holy Spirit and become a believer ( 1 Timothy 1:13). But blasphemy against the Holy Spirit is in its nature an eternal sin, for if one rejects the evidence given by the Holy Spirit and ascribes it to Satan, he rejects the only evidence upon which faith can be based; and without faith there is no forgiveness. The difference in the two sins is therefore in no way due to any difference in the Son and Spirit as to their degrees of sanctity or holiness. The punishment is naturally eternal because the sin is perpetual. The mention of the two worlds is, "just an extended way of saying ’never’" (Morison). Some assert that the Jews would not know what Jesus meant by the Holy Spirit, but the point is not so well taken. See Exodus 31:3, Numbers 11:26, 1 Samuel 10:10, 1 Samuel 19:20; Psalms 139:7, Psalms 143:10, Isaiah 48:16, Ezekiel 11:24. We see by Mark’s statement that blasphemy against the Spirit consisted in saying that Jesus had an unclean spirit, that his works were due to Satanic influence, and hence wrought to [303] accomplish Satanic ends. We can not call God Satan, nor the Holy Spirit a demon, until our state of sin has passed beyond all hope of reform. One can not confound the two kingdoms of good and evil unless he does so maliciously and willfully.] a33 Either make the tree good, and its fruit good, or make the tree corrupt, and its fruit corrupt: for the tree is known by its fruit. [The meaning and connection are: "Be honest for once; represent the tree as good, and its fruit as good, or the tree as evil, and its fruit as evil; either say that I am evil, and that my works are evil, or, if you admit that my works are good, admit that I am good also and not in league with Beelzebub"--Carr.] 34 Ye offspring of vipers, how can ye, being evil, speak good things? for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh. [Realizing the hopelessness of this attempt to get an honest judgment out of dishonest hearts, Jesus plainly informs them as to the condition of their hearts. Their very souls were full of poison like vipers. Their sin lay not in their words, but in a condition of heart which made such words possible. The heart being as it was, the words could not be otherwise. "What is in the well will be in the bucket"--Trapp.] 35 The good man out of his good treasure bringeth forth good things: and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things. [We have here a summary of the contrast given in the Matthew 12:33, Matthew 12:34. The good heart of Jesus brought forth its goodness, as the evil hearts of the Pharisees brought forth their evil.] 36 And I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. 37 For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned. [It may have seemed to some that Jesus denounced too severely a saying which the Pharisees had hastily and lightly uttered. But it is the word inconsiderately spoken which betrays the true state of the heart. The hypocrite can talk like an angel if he be put on notice that his words are heard. Jesus here makes words the basis of the judgment of God. Elsewhere [304] we find it is works ( Romans 2:6, 2 Corinthians 5:10), and again we find it is faith ( Romans 3:28). There is no confusion here. The judgment in its finality must be based upon our character. Our faith forms our character, and our words and works are indices by which we may determine what manner of character it is.]

[FFG 298-305]

Verses 24-36


XLIX.
SIGN SEEKERS, AND THE ENTHUSIAST REPROVED.
(Galilee on the same day as the last section.)
aMATT. XII. 38-45; cLUKE XI. 24-36.

c29 And when the multitudes were gathering together unto him, a38 Then certain of the scribes and Pharisees answered him, saying, Teacher, we would see a sign from thee. [Having been severely rebuked by Jesus, it is likely that the scribes and Pharisees asked for a sign that they might appear to the multitude more fair-minded and open to conviction than Jesus had represented them to be. Jesus had just wrought a miracle, so that their request shows that they wanted something different. We learn from Mark ( Mark 8:11) that they wanted a sign, not coming from him, but from heaven, such a sign as other prophets and leaders had given ( Exodus 9:22-24, Exodus 16:4, Joshua 10:12, 1 Samuel 7:9, 1 Samuel 7:10, 1 Samuel 12:16-18; 1 Kings 18:36-38, 2 Kings 1:10, Isaiah 38:8). "In Jewish superstition it was held that demons and false gods could give signs on earth, but only the true God signs from heaven" (Alford). The request was the renewal of the one which had assailed him at the beginning of his ministry ( John 2:18), and re-echoed the wilderness temptation to advance himself by vulgar display rather than by the power of a life of divine holiness.] 39 But he answered and said unto them, {che began to say,} This generation is an evil generation: it seeketh after a sign; aAn evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign [305] [While the Jews of that generation could well be accused literally of adultery, Jesus here evidently uses it in its symbolic sense as used by the prophets. They represented Israel as being married to God and as being untrue to him-- Exodus 34:15, Jeremiah 3:14, Jeremiah 3:20]; and there shall no sign be given to it, cbut the sign of Jonah. athe prophet [They did not accept miracles of healing as a sign, and only one other kind of sign was given; viz.: that of Jonah. Jonah was shown to be a true prophet of God, and Nineveh received him as such because he was rescued from the fish’s belly, and Jesus was declared to be the Son of God by the resurrection from the dead-- Romans 1:4]: 40 For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the whale; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights. [Jesus was one full day, two full nights, and parts of two other days in the grave. But, as the Jews reckoned a part of a day as a whole day when it occurred at the beginning or end of a series, he was correctly spoken of as being three days in the grave. The Jews had three phrases, viz.: "on the third day," "after three days," and "three days and three nights," which all meant the same thing; that is, three days, two of which might be fractional days. With them three full days and nights would be counted as four days unless the count began at sundown, the exact beginning of a day ( Acts 10:1-30). For instances of Jewish computation of days, see Genesis 42:17, Genesis 42:18, 1 Kings 12:5, 1 Kings 12:12, Esther 4:16, Esther 5:1, Matthew 27:63, Matthew 27:64. The Greek word here translated "whale" is "sea monster." It is called in Jonah "a great fish" ( Jonah 1:17). Because of the supposed smallness of the whale’s throat, many think that it was the white shark, which is still plentiful in the Mediterranean, and which sometimes measures sixty feet in length, and is large enough to swallow a man whole. But it is now a well-established fact that whales can swallow a man, and there are many instances of such swallowings on record. The expression "heart of the earth" does not mean its center. The Jews used the word "heart" to denote the interior of anything ( Ezekiel 28:2). The phrase is here [306] used as one which would emphatically indicate the actual burial of Christ.] c30 For even as Jonah became a sign unto the Ninevites, so shall also the Son of man be to this generation. [Nineveh was the capital of the Assyrian Empire, situated on the Tigris River, and in its day the greatest city of the world. Jonah’s preservation was a sign from heaven, because wrought without human instrumentality. The resurrection of Christ was such a sign to the Jews, but rejecting it, they continued to seek other signs-- 1 Corinthians 1:22.] a41 The men of Nineveh shall stand up in judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: for they repented at the preaching of Jonah; and behold, a greater than Jonah is here. [Literally, repented into the teaching of Jonah. The meaning is that they repented so that they followed the course of life which the preaching prescribed. The phrase, "stand up," refers to the Jewish and Roman custom which required the witness to stand up while testifying in a criminal case. The idea here is that the Ninevites, having improved the lesser advantage or privilege, would condemn the Jews for having neglected the greater. Nineveh’s privilege may be counted thus: a sign-accredited prophet preaching without accompanying miracles, and a forty-day period of repentance. In contrast to this the Jewish privileges ran thus: the sign-accredited Son of God preaching, accompanied by miracles, in which many apostles and evangelists participated, a forty-year period in which to repent.] 42 The queen of the south shall rise up in the judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: {cwith the men of this generation, and shall condemn them:} for she came from the ends of the earth [a Hebraism, indicating a great distance] to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and behold, a greater than Solomon is here. [The queen of Sheba is supposed to have been queen of Sabæa, or Arabia Felix, which lies in the southern part of the peninsula between the Red Sea and the Persian Gulf. But Josephus says she was from Ethiopia in Africa. Her testimony will also be based on the compared privileges, which [307] stand thus: notwithstanding the dangers and inconveniences, she came a great distance to be taught of Solomon, but the Jews rejected the teaching of the Son of God, though he brought it to them. The teaching of Solomon related largely to this world, but Christ taught as to the world to come.] a43 But the unclean spirit, when he is gone out of the man, passeth through waterless places [places which are as cheerless to him as deserts are to man], seeking rest, and findeth it not. [Rest is the desire of every creature. Jesus here gives us a graphic description of utter wretchedness.] cand finding none, a44 Then he saith, I will return into {cturn back unto} my house [he still claimed it as his property] whence I came out. 25 And when he is come, he findeth it aempty, swept, and garnished. [It was empty, having no indwelling Spirit, swept of all righteous impressions and good influences, and garnished with things inviting to an evil spirit.] 45 Then [seeing this inviting condition] goeth he, and taketh with himself seven other spirits [to reinforce and entrench himself] more evil than himself [while all demons are wicked they are not equally so], and they enter in and dwell there [take up their permanent abode there]: and the last state of that man becometh worse than the first. Even so shall it be also unto this evil generation. [In the application of this parable, we should bear in mind that it tells of two states or conditions experienced by one man, and the comparison is between these two states or conditions and not between the condition of the man and other men. Such being the parable, the application of it is plain, for Jesus says, "Even so shall it be unto this evil generation." We are not, therefore, to compare that generation with any previous one, as many do; for such would be contrary to the terms of the parable. It is simply an assertion that the last state of that generation would be worse than the first. The reference is to the continually increasing wickedness of the Jews, which culminated in the dreadful scenes which preceded the destruction of Jerusalem. They were now like a man with one [308] evil spirit; they would then be like a man with seven more demons added, each of which was worse than the original occupant.] c27 And it came to pass, as he said these things, a certain woman out of the multitude lifted up her voice, and said unto him, Blessed is the womb that bare thee, and the breasts which thou didst suck. [This woman is the first on record to fulfill Mary’s prediction ( Luke 1:48). It is the only passage in the New Testament which even suggests the idolatry of Mariolatry, but it was far enough from it, being merely a womanly way of expressing admiration for the son by pronouncing blessings upon the mother who was so fortunate as to bear him.] 28 But he said, Yea rather, blessed are they that hear the word of God, and keep it. [Jesus does not deny the fact that Mary was blessed, but corrects any false idea with regard to her by pointing to the higher honor of being a disciple which was attainable by every one. Mary’s blessing as a disciple was greater than her blessing as a mother; her moral and spiritual relation to Jesus was more precious than her maternal. Mary’s blessings came through believing God’s word ( Luke 1:45). To know Christ after the Spirit is more blessed than to know him after the flesh-- 2 Corinthians 5:15, 2 Corinthians 5:16, John 16:7.] 33 No man, when he hath lighted a lamp, putteth it in a cellar, neither under a bushel, but on the stand, that they which come in may see the light. 34 The lamp of thy body is thine eye: when thine eye is single, thy whole body also is full of light; but when it is evil, thy body also is full of darkness. 35 Look therefore whether the light that is in thee be not darkness. 36 If therefore thy whole body be full of light, as when the lamp with its bright shining doth give thee light. [This passage given in a slightly varying form is found in the Sermon on the Mount. See page 256. It is here addressed to the Pharisees and reproves them for not using the light (his miracles) which was given to them. If they [309] had had an eye single to goodness, Christ’s light would have enlightened their souls. But their eye was double; they desired wonders and spectacular signs.]

[FFG 305-310]

Verses 37-54


LI.
DINING WITH A PHARISEE, JESUS DENOUNCES THAT SECT.
cLUKE XI. 37-54.

c37 Now as he spake, a Pharisee asketh him to dine with him: and he went in, and sat down to meat. [The repast to which Jesus was invited was a morning meal, usually eaten between ten and eleven o’clock. The principal meal of the day was eaten in the evening. Jesus dined with all classes, with publicans and Pharisees, with friends and enemies.] 38 And when the Pharisee saw it, he marvelled that he had not first bathed himself before dinner. [The Pharisee marveled at this because the tradition of the elders required them to wash their hands before eating, and, if they had been in a crowd where their bodies might have been touched by some unclean person, they washed their whole bodies. It was a custom which ministered to pride and self-righteousness.] 39 The Lord said to him [Our Lord’s speech is unsparingly denunciatory. To some it seems strange that Jesus spoke thus in a house where he was an invited guest. But our Lord never suspended the solemn work of reproof out of mere compliment. He was governed by higher laws than those of conventional politeness], Now ye the Pharisees cleanse the outside of the cup and the platter; but your inward part is full of extortion and wickedness. 40 Ye foolish ones, did not he that made the outside make the inside also? [Since God made both the inner and the outer, a true reverence for him requires that both parts be alike kept clean.] 41 But give for alms those things which are within; and behold, all things are clean unto you. [That is, give your inner life, your love, mercy, compassion, etc., to the blessing of mankind, and then your inner purity will make you proof [312] against outward defilement-- Matthew 15:11, Titus 1:15, Romans 14:4.] 42 But woe unto you, Pharisees! for ye tithe mint and rue and every herb, and pass over justice and the love of God: but these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone. [The Pharisees in paying the tenth part, or tithe, to God, were so exact that they offered the tenth part of the seed even of the spearmint, rue and other small garden herbs, and many contended that the very stalks of these plants should also be tithed. Jesus commends this care about little things, but nevertheless rebukes the Pharisees because they were as careless about big things, such as justice, and the love of God, as they were careful about herb seed. Rue was a small shrub about two feet high, and is said to have been used to flavor wine, and for medicinal purposes.] 43 Woe unto you, Pharisees! for ye love the chief seats in the synagogues, and the salutations in the marketplaces. [They were vainglorious, loving the honors and attentions given by men ( John 5:44). They loved on week days to be saluted in the marketplace, and on the Sabbath to sit in the semi-circular row of seats which were back of the lectern, or desk of the reader, and which faced the congregation.] 44 Woe unto you! for ye are as the tombs which appear not, and the men that walk over them know it not. [According to the Mosaic law, any one who touched a grave was rendered unclean ( Numbers 19:16). That they might not touch graves and be made unclean without knowing it, the Jews white-washed their graves and tombs once a year. But Jesus likens a Pharisee to graves which defiled men unawares. Their hypocrisy concealed their true nature, so that men were injured and corrupted by their influence without being aware of it. Jesus pronounces three woes upon the Pharisees for three sins, viz.: 1. Hypocrisy, shown in pretending to be be very careful when they were really extremely careless; 2. Vainglory; 3. Corruption of the public morals.] 45 And one of the lawyers answering saith unto him, Teacher, in saying this thou reproachest us also. [Lightfoot supposes that a [313] scribe was one who copied the law of Moses, while a lawyer expounded the oral law or traditions of the elders. But it is more likely that the terms were used interchangeably. They leaned to the Pharisee party, and hence this one felt the rebuke which Jesus addressed to that party. The scribe intimated that Jesus had spoken hastily, and his speech is a suggestion to Jesus to correct or modify his unguarded words. But Jesus made no mistakes and spoke no hasty words.] 46 And he said, Woe unto you lawyers also! for ye load men with burdens grievous to be borne, and ye yourselves touch not the burdens with one of your fingers. [We have seen in the traditions with regard to the Sabbath how these Jewish lawyers multiplied the burdens which Moses had placed upon the people. They were careful to lay these burdens upon others, but equally careful not to bear them themselves--no, not even to keep the law of Moses itself-- Matthew 23:2, Matthew 23:3.] 47 Woe unto you! for ye build the tombs of the prophets, and your fathers killed them. 48 So ye are witnesses and consent unto the works of your fathers: for they killed them, and ye build their tombs. [Tombs were usually dug in the rock in the sides of hills or cliffs. To build them therefore was to decorate or ornament the entrance. Though their act in building the sepulchres was a seeming honor to the prophets, God did not accept it as such. A prophet is only truly honored when his message is received and obeyed. The lawyers were not in fellowship with the prophets, but with those who murdered the prophets: hence the Saviour pictures the whole transaction from the killing of the prophets to the building of their sepulchres as one act in which all concurred, and all of which were guilty. Abbott gives the words a figurative meaning, thus: your fathers slew the prophets by violence, and you bury them by false teaching.] 49 Therefore also said the wisdom of God, I will send unto them prophets and apostles; and some of them they shall kill and persecute; 50 that the blood of all the prophets, which was shed from the foundation of the world, may be required of this [314] generation [The phrase "wisdom of God" has been very puzzling, for the words spoken by Jesus are not found in any Old Testament book. Among the explanations the best is that which represents Jesus as quoting the trend or tenor of several prophecies such as 2 Chronicles 24:19-22, 2 Chronicles 36:14-16, Proverbs 1:20-33. It may, however, be possible that Jesus is here publishing a new decree or conclusion of God, for the words specifically concerned the present generation. If so, Jesus assents to the decree of the Father by calling it "the wisdom of God," and the language is kindred to that at Matthew 11:25, Matthew 11:26]; 51 From the blood of Abel unto the blood of Zachariah, who perished between the altar and the sanctuary: yea, I say unto you, it shall be required of this generation. [Abel is accounted a prophet because his form of sacrifice prefigured that of Christ. His murder is described at Genesis 4:1-8, the first historical book of the Bible, while that of Zachariah is described at 2 Chronicles 24:20-22, in the last historical book of the Old Testament. From the record of one, therefore, to the record of the other embraces the entire catalogue of the Old Testament martyrs. Tradition assigns one of the four great sepulchral monuments at the foot of Olivet to Zachariah. That generation sanctioned all the sins of the past and went beyond them to the crucifixion of the Son of God. The best comment on this passage is the parable at Luke 20:9-16. God made that generation the focus of the world’s light and privilege, but the men of that time made it the focus of the world’s wickedness and punishment. The punishment began about thirty-seven years later in the war with Rome, which lasted five years and culminated in the destruction of Jerusalem.] 52 Woe unto you lawyers! for ye took away the key of knowledge: ye entered not in yourselves, and them that were entering in ye hindered. [A true knowledge of the Scriptures was a key which opened the door to the glories of Christ and his kingdom. This the lawyer had given away by teaching not the contents of the book, but the rubbish and trifles of tradition. They did not open the door for themselves, and by their [315] pretentious interference they confused others in their efforts to open it.] 53 And when he was come out from thence, the scribes and the Pharisees began to press upon him vehemently, and to provoke him to speak of many things; 54; laying wait for him, to catch something out of his mouth. [They plied him with many questions, hoping that they could irritate him into making a hot or hasty answer. For methods used to entrap Jesus see Matthew 22:15-17, Matthew 22:23-28, Matthew 22:34-36, Matthew 22:46]

[FFG 312-316]

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website. These files were made available by Mr. Ernie Stefanik. First published online in 1996 at The Restoration Movement Pages.
Bibliographical Information
J. W. McGarvey and Philip Y. Pendleton. "Commentary on Luke 11". "The Fourfold Gospel". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/tfg/luke-11.html. Standard Publishing Company, Cincinnati, Ohio. 1914.