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Bible Commentaries
Luke 9

Whedon's Commentary on the BibleWhedon's Commentary

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Verses 1-5

§ 57. THE TWELVE SENT FORTH, Luke 9:1-5 .

See notes on parallel sections, Matthew 10:1; Matthew 10:5-42; Mark 6:7-11.

Verse 6

§ 59. THE TWELVE PREACH AND WORK MIRACLES, Luke 9:6. Mark 6:12-13.

See closing paragraph of note on Matthew 10:42.

Verses 7-9


See notes on parallel sections, Matthew 14:1-2; Mark 6:14-16.

Verse 10

§ 62. THE TWELVE RETURN, Luke 9:10 .

Mark 6:30-31.

Verses 10-17

§ 63. FIVE THOUSAND FED, Luke 9:10-17 .

See notes on Matthew 14:13-21; Mark 6:32-44; John 6:1-14.

Verse 16

16. Blessed them It was customary with the Jews at every meal to offer a prayer commencing with the thankful words “Blessed be God.” Hence the Hebrew to bless, which originally had for its object God as the author of the meal, took as its objective case the food itself, and thence arose the phrase to bless the food, or to ask a blessing on the food.

Verses 18-21


See notes on Matthew 16:13-20; Mark 8:27-30.

Verses 22-27



From Luke 9:22 to Luke 10:42.

Historical Synopsis (vol. 1.) §74 §101.


(Matthew 16:21-28; Mark 8:31-38.)

Verses 28-36


Matthew 17:1-13; Mark 9:2-13.

29. Glistering The verbs to glister, to glisten and to glitter are but different forms of the same word, and have nearly the same meaning.

Verse 31

31. Spake of his decease The three evangelists tell us that the two talked with Jesus, but Luke alone informs us what was the topic of the conversation. They conversed about his approaching sufferings; and in what tone appears from the remarkable phrase which follows, namely, the decease which he should accomplish. His death was viewed as a great voluntary work to be achieved.

Verses 37-43


See notes on parallel sections, Matthew 17:14-21; Mark 9:14-29.

Verses 43-45


Matthew 17:22-23; Mark 9:30-32, also notes on parallel sections in Mark 9:10; Mark 16:10-11.

Verses 46-50


Matthew 18:1-35; Mark 9:33-50. See notes on parallel sections.

We have now (Luke 9:51) arrived at an extended passage, (including Luke 9:51 to Luke 18:15,) which may be called THE GREAT LUKEAN SECTION; comprising Luke’s largest independent contribution to Gospel history. Commentators have generally looked upon this entire section as simply a miscellaneous collection of narratives and discourses, put in this place because the evangelist knew no better time and locality to assign them. Our Historical Synopsis (vol. i, pp. 9-16) is constructed according to the Harmony of Newcome, and we prefer to allow it to remain. But we incline to prefer, so far as this part of the Gospels is concerned, the later plan of Wieseler, by which the whole is brought into a beautiful harmony, especially with John, and a more spirited narrative life is infused into the entire passage.

There are in this section three notices of Jesus’s travels, (namely, Luke 9:51; Luke 13:22; Luke 17:11,) which divide the passage into three parts. Supposing the first to correspond with the going to the FEAST OF TABERNACLES, (John 7:14,) the second to the going, after the Feast of Dedication, from Perea to Bethany, to raise Lazarus, and thence to his retirement to Ephraim; and the third to his departing from Ephraim westward to the Jordan, to join the caravans, on their way TO HIS LAST PASSOVER at Jerusalem, and we shall have a beautiful harmony which will be verified by the details. These three points divide this whole Lukean section into three parts: first, the period before arriving at the Feast of Tabernacles, (Luke 9:51 to Luke 10:16;) second, the interval between the Feast of Tabernacles and the Feast of Dedication, (Luke 10:17 to Luke 13:21;) third, the interval between the Feast of Dedication and the Lord’s Last Passover. Hence we have the following:


Before the Feast of Tabernacles

Jesus having been for some time driven from Judea into Galilee, John 7:1.

being advised by his brothers to go to the Feast of Tabernacles, John 7:2-9.

leaves Galilee for the last time Matthew 19:1.

and sets his face towards Jerusalem Luke 9:51.

Having secretly sent messengers to pioneer his way through Samaria Luke 9:52-56.

after rejecting some unsuitable candidates Luke 9:57-62.

he selects and sends forth the SEVENTY Luke 10:1-16.

and arrives at Jerusalem in the midst of THE FEAST OF TABERNACLES, John 7:14.

Between the Feast of Tabernacle and the Feast of Dedication

Debates and discourses ensue at the Feast of Tabernacles John 7:15 to John 10:21.

On leaving he receives the return of the Seventy Luke 10:17-24.

and prosecutes a ministry in Judea Luke 10:25 to Luke 13:21.

Again he is in Jerusalem at THE FEAST OF DEDICATION; John 10:22-38.

Between the Feast of Dedication and the Last of Passover

but, driven by persecution, takes refuge in Peraea; John 10:39-42.

whence, returning towards Jerusalem, Luke 13:22.

he lingers, preaches, and travels three days, Luke 13:23 to Luke 17:10.

and arriving at Bethany, raises Lazarus John 11:1-53.

and retires to Ephraim for refuge John 11:54.

Thence travelling on the border land of Samaria and Galilee towards the Jordan, in order to join the Passover caravans for Jerusalem, Luke 17:11.

teaching and working miracles he comes to Jericho, Luke 17:12 to Luke 18:35.

on his way to his last PASSOVER at Jerusalem.

We affirm not this Harmony to be (what no Harmony over yet constructed is) demonstrably a programme of the true order of facts; but it incurs, perhaps, no more difficulties, and produces far happier adjustments, than any we have as yet examined.

Verse 51


51. Time… that he should be received up The being received up signifies his being received or ASSUMPTION into heaven at his ascension. The phrase by implication takes in all his sufferings, death, and resurrection. The clause, time was come that he should be received up, is very erroneously translated. Owen well renders it, When the days were being fulfilled. That is, during the period or stage of our Lord’s earthly ministry, which was closed by his death. This was at the beginning of the last six months of his life. At this time he left Galilee for the last time. Matthew 19:1. His mission hereafter was in Peraea and Judea. And during this period Jerusalem was the centre towards which, how often soever he diverged, he must ever gravitate until his final hour there. His adjacent ministries should be temporary, for duty, like destiny, should be perpetually pointing toward the scene of his final suffering. Hence the different passages in Luke, with the corresponding ones in the other evangelists, which allude to Jerusalemite journeys, designate not one, but several. Set his face With a firmness unshaken by foreseen suffering.

To Jerusalem For some time, as we learn from John, (John 7:1-14,) Jesus had been driven by the rage of his enemies into Galilee, where he now had finished his mission, as the Feast of Tabernacles was at hand. To that feast his half-skeptical brothers advised him to go and display his miraculous powers before the world. He declines their advice, feeling bound to a different course. While they go to the feast by the caravan route, he prepares to pass to Judea secretly, and by a route and for special purposes of his own.

Verse 52

52. Sent messengers The messengers were procured in Galilee; sent, doubtless, from Capernaum, being probably prepared before the conversation with his brothers in John 7:0. So that he could start upon his journey as soon as they had departed upon theirs, and, as he had the cross route, he might arrive first, if he had the same destination, namely, Jerusalem.

Before his face Though unknown to the world and secret from his brothers, there was, as Alford says, “something of state” in this procedure. The purpose was to secure a safe and rapid transit through Samaria; as well as to summon a select body of his followers to form the organization of

the Seventy. To make ready for him He had doubtless not a few adherents in Samaria, and these messengers would provide for him safety where there was danger, entertainment where there were friends, and means of instruction if there were ready hearers.

Verse 53

53. Did not receive him As but a single village is mentioned as thus rejecting Jesus, it would seem that his journey was generally pleasant.

Face… would go to Jerusalem We have described the enmity between the Samaritans and Jews in our note upon Matthew 10:5. This religious hate was doubtless more intense at the Feast time, and upon those who were going to Jerusalem rather than to Gerizim. Hence the ordinary route of the Passover caravan was on the eastern side of the Jordan, avoiding Samaria.

Verse 54

54. His disciples It does not appear that the twelve, besides James and John, were in this company. Nor, if this was a journey to the Feast of Tabernacles, is there anything to indicate that any one of these was there with Jesus. James and John were evidently not of the messengers, for they knew nothing of the opposition of this village till they arrive with Jesus.

Wilt thou that we They did not ask Jesus to command the fire, as if conscious that such would be a strange work for him. Nor do they imagine that they can perform the miracle without his permission. Nor do they doubt their own power, if done by his order.

As Elias did It was in this same Samaria, perhaps in some near locality, that Elijah the Tishbite called fire from heaven and consumed the fifties of the wicked king sent to take him. The suggestion of this example was not, then, as Olshausen says, an after thought, to protect themselves from the reproof expected from Jesus, but a forethought, awakened by both the circumstances and the place. There is a great temptation to suppose that this was a disposition to call down a thunderbolt upon the wicked, and that the name of sons of thunder given to these two apostles was a memento of their zeal. But, first, it may be doubted whether it was lightning or thunder which the words fire come down designate. Second, their name seems not so much to refer to the fire as to the roar of thunder. And, third, as Mark (Mark 3:16-17) gives the surnames of the three principal apostles in connection as being bestowed by Jesus, we must hold the epithets not as bitter mementoes of sin, but as testimonies of honour.

Verse 55

55. What manner of spirit We do not understand by these words, that these apostles knew not the nature of their own temper or spirit; but that they knew not the spirit of the dispensation to which they belonged. When the fifties of the wicked king came to Elijah he said, “If I be a man of God, let fire come down;” thus demonstrating his prophetic character by a miracle of destruction. But the Son of man came not to destroy men’s lives, but to save them. Miracles of wrath belong not to his and their mission. They forget the spirit of their dispensation. This was assigning a reason why they knew not the spirit to which they belonged; and not, as many interpret it, the spirit which belonged to them. At the same time it points to a fact too wonderful and too glorious for these apostles or the evangelists to invent, that the miracles of Jesus are throughout miracles of love and mercy. None but the great divine Original himself could have conceived such a character and thus have demonstrated its divinity forever.

Verse 56

56. They went to another village Where the friends of Jesus may have been numerous.

Verses 57-62

§ 50. SELECTION OF CANDIDATES, Luke 9:57-62 .

Matthew 8:18-27; Mark 4:35-41.

A fuller study of this passage induces us to think that Luke preserves its true place. We can scarce doubt that between the sending forth the messengers above described, the selection and rejection of candidates in this paragraph, and the commissioning of the Seventy, which follows, there is an important connection. If we may suppose that one part of the business of the messengers was to enlist and gather the Seventy, and that these colloquies are part of the examination of Jesus into their qualifications we may easily infer the time and nearly the place at which the Seventy were sent forth. The time must have been just before the FEAST OF TABERNACLES, and the place must have been on the route to Jerusalem from Capernaum. The address to the cities of Galilee in Luke 10:13-15 could have scarce been further away than the boundary line of Judea on his last departure from those cities. The place would therefore be not far from Shiloh or Ephraim. See our notes on the parallel passage in Matthew.

Verse 62

62. Put his hand to the plough The eastern plough is made of two poles, one of which serves for the horizontal beam drawn by the oxen; and the other, crossing it, serves as a share, being sharpened at the lower end, to penetrate the ground, and as a handle at the upper end, upon which the ploughman grasps with one hand, while with the other he holds, the long goad with which he pricks and spurs his team forward. He must place his whole weight upon the share, in order to force it into the soil, otherwise no furrow will be produced. The Saviour uses the term hand in the singular, because the plough is held with but a single hand. And the inclination of the whole body utterly forbids the looking back so as to prevent the devotion of the entire man, with all his force, to the onward work. Such is the image by which the Christian’s zeal, not only as a minister, but as a private man, is pictured by Christ himself. The spiritual ploughman who applies not hand, body, and eye to the work, will make no furrow, will sow no seed, will gather no harvest. He is not fit for the kingdom of God. It is not merely that he may not turn back or withdraw his hand. There must be no back glances of his eye, no turning of his head, but the forward throw of the man with all his might. It was by such a winnowing that our Lord selected his Seventy. How hardly did even they fulfil the high office.

Bibliographical Information
Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Luke 9". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/whe/luke-9.html. 1874-1909.
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