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Bible Commentaries

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged
Luke 13

 

 

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Verse 1

There were present at that season some that told him of the Galilaeans, whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices.

There were present at that season - showing that what is here recorded comes, in order of time, immediately after Luke 12:1-59. But what the precise season was, cannot certainly be determined. See opening remarks on Luke 9:51.

Some that told him of the Galileans, whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. Possibly these were the followers of Judas of Galilee, who, some 20 years before this, taught that Jews should not pay tribute to the Romans, and of whom we learn, from Acts 5:37, that he drew after him a multitude of followers, who, on his being slain, were all dispersed. About this time that party would be at its height, and if Pilate caused this detachment of them to be waylaid and put to death, as they were offering their sacrifices at one of the festivals, that would be "mingling their blood with their sacrifices." So Grotius, Webster and Wilkinson, but doubted by de Wette, Meyer, Alford, etc. News of this-whatever the precise matter referred to may be-having been brought to our Lord, to draw out His views of it, and particularly, whether it was not a judgment of Heaven, He simply points them to the practical view of the matter.


Verse 2

And Jesus answering said unto them, Suppose ye that these Galilaeans were sinners above all the Galilaeans, because they suffered such things? And Jesus answering said unto them, Suppose ye that these Galileans were sinners above all the Galileans, because they suffered such things?


Verse 3

I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.

I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish. 'These men are not signal examples of divine vengeance, as ye suppose; but every impenitent sinner-ye yourselves, except ye repent-shall be like monuments of the judgment of Heaven, and in a more awful sense.' The reference here to the impending destruction of Jerusalem is far from exhausting our Lord's weighty words; they manifestly point to a "perdition" of a more awful kind-future, personal, remediless.


Verse 4

Or those eighteen, upon whom the tower in Siloam fell, and slew them, think ye that they were sinners above all men that dwelt in Jerusalem?

Or those eighteen, upon whom the tower in Siloam fell - probably one of the towers of the city-wall, near the pool of Siloam. Of its fall nothing is known.

And slew them, think ye that they were sinners above all men that dwelt in Jerusalem?


Verse 5

I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.

I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.


Verse 6

He spake also this parable; A certain man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard; and he came and sought fruit thereon, and found none.

He spake also this parable; A certain man had a fig tree - meaning Israel as the visible witness for God in the world; but generally, all within the pale of the visible Church of God: a familiar figure-compare Isaiah 5:1-7; John 15:1-8, etc.

Planted in his vineyard - a spot selected for its fertility, separated from the surrounding fields, and cultivated with special care, with a view solely to fruit.

And he came and sought fruit thereon - a heart turned to God, the fruits of righteousness. Compare Matthew 21:33-34, and Isaiah 5:2. "He looked that it should bring forth fruit:" He has a right to it, and will require it.

And found none.


Verse 7

Then said he unto the dresser of his vineyard, Behold, these three years I come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and find none: cut it down; why cumbereth it the ground?

Then said he unto the dresser of his vineyard - to him whom he employed to take charge of his vineyard, which in this case we know to be Christ.

Behold, these three years - a long enough trial for a fig tree, and so denoting probably just a sufficient period of culture for spiritual fruit. The supposed allusion to the duration of our Lord's ministry is precarious.

I come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and find none: cut it down. There is a certain indignation in this language.

Why cumbereth it the ground? - not only doing no good, but wasting ground.


Verse 8

And he answering said unto him, Lord, let it alone this year also, till I shall dig about it, and dung it:

And he answering said unto him. This represents Christ as Intercessor, loath to see it cut down so long as there was any hope. (See Luke 13:34). Lord, let it alone this year also, until I shall dig about it, and dung it - loosen the earth about it and enrich it with manure: pointing to changes of method in the divine treatment of the impenitent, in order to fresh spiritual culture.


Verse 9

And if it bear fruit, well: and if not, then after that thou shalt cut it down.

And if it bear fruit, [well] - all then will yet be right;

And if not, then after that thou shalt cut it down - I will then no longer interpose: all is over.

Remarks:

(1) The small incidents recorded at the beginning of this chapter bear irresistible marks of historical truth in the Evangelical Records. Who that had been drawing up an unreal Story would ever have thought of inserting in it such incidents as these? Much less would they ever have occurred to such untutored writers as these Records show their authors to have been.

(2) How slow have even Christians been, notwithstanding the explicit teaching of Christ here, to be convinced that extraordinary outward calamities are not necessarily the vengeance of Heaven against unusual criminality! From the days of Job's friends until now the tendency to explain the one of these by the other has been too prevalent. Is it not to this that the prevalent view of Mary Magdalene's character is to be traced? (See the note at Luke 8:2.)

(3) To be within the pale of Revealed Religion and the Church of the living God is a high privilege, and involves a solemn responsibility. The owner of the vineyard, having planted a fig tree in it, "came and sought fruit thereon;" for in the natural course of things fruit, in such a case, was to be expected. But when does God come, seeking fruit from men thus privileged? Not at the day of judgment; for though He will come and demand it then, the parable represents the tree as still in the ground after the lord of the vineyard has come seeking fruit, and as allowed to remain with a view to further trial. It is now, therefore, or during our present state, that God is coming seeking fruit from us. Are we favoured with a Christian education and example? He comes, saying, 'Any fruit?' Have we been placed under a faithful, rousing ministry of the Gospel? He comes, asking, 'What fruit?' Have we been visited with crushing trials, fitted to bring down pride, and soften the heart, and give the lessons of religion an entrance they never had before? He comes, demanding the fruit. Alas, of multitudes the report must still be - "and found none"!

(4) The Lord, we see, notes the length of time that men continue fruitless under the means of spiritual culture. "Behold, these three years I come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and find none." Thoughtless men heed this not, but One does. "How long, ye simple ones, will ye love simplicity?" is His question. "O Jerusalem, wash thine heart from wickedness, that thou mayest be saved: how long shall thy vain thoughts lodge within thee?" "Wilt thou not be made clean? when shall it once be?" "It is time to Seek the Lord, until He come and rain righteousness upon you," (Proverbs 1:22; Jeremiah 4:14; Jeremiah 13:27; Hosea 10:12). (5) To be cut down is the rich desert of all the fruitless: "Cut it down; why cumbereth it the ground?" As if they were a burden to the earth that bears them, to the place they fill, deforming the beauty and hindering the fruitfulness of God's vineyard. They are borne with, but with a certain impatience and indignation. And even when the fruitless are borne with, it is because of the good offices of an Intercessor, and solely with a view to fresh culture. Were there no one in the kingdom of God answering to this dresser of the vineyard, who pleads, and as is here supposed successfully, for a respite to the tree, we might take this feature of the parable as but a part of its drapery, not to be pressed into the exposition of it. But, with the great facts of mediation before us, it is impossible not to see here something more than drapery. And what is that fresh culture for which He pleads? Why, anything by which truths and lessons hitherto neglected may come with a force upon the heart before unknown, may justly be so regarded. A change of the means of grace; a change of sphere-sometimes in the way of banishing one from all the privileges in which he basked, leading him in a far distant land, when sighing over removal from dear objects and scenes, to reflect upon religious privileges never before valued-the remarkable conversion of some companion; or a religious awakening within the immediate sphere of one's observation: these and a thousand other such things are fitted to give truths and lessons, never heeded before, a new power to impress the heart. And it is with a view to this that many are in mercy spared after their long-continued impenitence under high religious culture seemed to be but preparing them to be cut down.

(6) It is worthy of notice that the respite sought in the parable was not another three years, but just "one year." As in the natural culture, this would be sufficient to determine whether any fruit was to be gotten out of the tree at all, so in the spiritual husbandry, the thing intended is just one sufficient trial more. And surely it is a loud call to immediate repentance when one has any good reason to think that he is on his last trial!

(7) Genuine repentance, however late, avails to save: "If it bear fruit (well);" and only if not, was it to be cut down. The case of the thief on the cross decides this for all time and for every soul. There is not a sinner out of hell-though the most hardened, the furthest gone, the nearest to the flames-but if he only begin to bear fruit, if he do but turn to God with all his heart in the Gospel of His Son, it will deliver him from going down to the pit, it will stay the hand of justice, it will secure his eternal salvation. "Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thought, and let him return unto the Lord, and He will have mercy upon him, and to our God, and He will abundantly pardon." "As I live, saith the Lord, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that he should turn from his way and live. Turn ye, turn ye, why will ye die, O house of Israel?"

(8) The final perdition of such as, after the utmost limits of divine forbearance, are found fruitless, will be preeminently and confessedly just: "If not, after that thou shalt cut it down." It is the Intercessor Himself that says this. Mercy herself, who before pleaded for a respite, now acquiesces in, if not demands, the execution. "He that, being often reproved, hardeneth his neck, shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy" (Proverbs 29:1). Be wise now, therefore, O ye fruitless; be instructed, ye foolish and unwise: Kiss the Son, lest He be angry, and ye perish from the way, when His wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all they that put their trust in Him! Beware lest that come upon you which is spoken of by the prophet, "Because I have purged thee, and thou wast not purged, thou shalt not be purged from thy filthiness anymore, until I have caused my fury to rest upon thee" (Ezekiel 24:13).


Verse 10

And he was teaching in one of the synagogues on the sabbath. And he was teaching in one of the synagogues on the sabbath.

And he was teaching in one of the synagogues on the sabbath - time and place left indefinite. (See opening remarks on Luke 9:51.)


Verse 11

And, behold, there was a woman which had a spirit of infirmity eighteen years, and was bowed together, and could in no wise lift up herself.

And, behold, there was a woman which had a spirit of infirmity eighteen years. From the expression used in Luke 13:16, "whom Satan hath bound," it has been conjectured that her protracted infirmity was the effect of some milder form of possession; but this is a precarious inference. At all events she was "a daughter of Abraham," in the same gracious sense, no doubt, as Zaccheus after his conversion was "a son of Abraham" (Luke 19:9).

And was bowed together, and could in no wise lift up herself.


Verse 12

And when Jesus saw her, he called her to him, and said unto her, Woman, thou art loosed from thine infirmity.

And when Jesus saw her, he called her to him, and said unto her, Woman, thou art loosed from thine infirmity.


Verse 13

And he laid his hands on her: and immediately she was made straight, and glorified God.

And he laid his hands on her. The word and the act were simultaneous; and the effect was instant.

And immediately she was made straight, and gloried God.


Verse 14

And the ruler of the synagogue answered with indignation, because that Jesus had healed on the sabbath day, and said unto the people, There are six days in which men ought to work: in them therefore come and be healed, and not on the sabbath day.

And the ruler of the synagogue answered with indignation, because that Jesus had healed on the sabbath day, and said unto the people - or 'the multitude' [ ochloo (Greek #3793)]. 'Not daring,' as Trench remarks, 'directly to find fault with the Lord, he seeks circuitously to reach Him through the people, who were more under his influence, and whom he feared less.'

There are six days in which men ought to work: in them therefore come and be healed, and not on the sabbath day. From the "hypocrisy" with which the Lord charges him (Luke 13:15), we may conclude that zeal for the honour of the Sabbath was only the pretence, and that the glory which this miracle shed upon the Lord Jesus was the real cause of this ruler's "indignation," as the same writer observes. See Matthew 21:15.


Verse 15

The Lord then answered him, and said, Thou hypocrite, doth not each one of you on the sabbath loose his ox or his ass from the stall, and lead him away to watering?

The Lord (see the note at Luke 10:1) then answered him, and said, Hypocrite! How "the faithful and true Witness" tears off the masks which men wear!

Doth not each one of you on the sabbath loose his ox or his donkey from the stall, and lead him away to watering? See the notes at Matthew 12:10-13.


Verse 16

And ought not this woman, being a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan hath bound, lo, these eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the sabbath day?

And ought not this woman, being a daughter of Abraham - that is, not after the flesh, or a Jewess, which would be a poor view of His meaning; but in spirit (compare Luke 19:9, and 1 Peter 3:6).

Whom Satan hath bound. Probably there is nothing more intended by this expression than a strong contrast between the exalted character of the woman, and the suffering of which the dark author of all evil had so long made her the victim.

Lo, these eighteen years. The "behold" here calling attention to the long duration of her malady is not to be overlooked; attesting, as it does, the lively sensibility to human suffering of our great High Priest.

Be loosed from this bond on the sabbath day? How gloriously the Lord vindicates the superior claims of this woman, in consideration of the sadness and long duration of her suffering, and of her dignity notwithstanding, as an heir of the promise!


Verse 17

And when he had said these things, all his adversaries were ashamed: and all the people rejoiced for all the glorious things that were done by him.

And when he had said these things, all his adversaries were ashamed: and all the people [or 'multitude' ho (G3588) ochlos (G3793)], rejoiced for all the glorious things that were done by him. This remark of the Evangelist attests its own artless truth: the resistless force and pungency of the rebuke not only stung His adversaries, but made them feel themselves thoroughly exposed; while the instantaneous cure of this chronic malady, and more than all, the outburst of divine benevolence which vindicated the act, from its own intrinsic superiority to all acts of mercy toward the lower creation, carried the acclaim of the unsophisticated people.

For remarks on this section, see the notes at Matthew 12:9-21, Remarks 1, 2, 4, at the close of that section.


Verses 18-21

Then said he, Unto what is the kingdom of God like? and whereunto shall I resemble it?

For the exposition of this portion, see the notes at Matthew 13:31-33, with Remarks.


Verse 22

And he went through the cities and villages, teaching, and journeying toward Jerusalem.

And he went through the cities and villages, teaching and journeying toward Jerusalem - on His final but circuitous journey from Galilee. See introductory remarks on the portion commencing with Luke 9:51.


Verse 23

Then said one unto him, Lord, are there few that be saved? And he said unto them,

Then said one unto him, Lord, are there few that be saved? This is one of those curious questions which a time of religious inquiry and excitement usually suggests, by taking up their attention with which some flatter themselves that they are religious, but thus only lulling the inward craving after something more substantial.

And he said unto them - that is, the multitude; taking no notice of the man or his question, except as furnishing the occasion of a solemn warning not to trifle with so momentous a matter as "salvation."


Verse 24

Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able.

Strive to enter in , [ Agoonizesthe (Greek #75)]. The word signifies to 'contend' as for the mastery, to 'struggle' expressive of the difficulty of being saved, as if one would have to force his way in "at the strait gate" - another figure of the same. See the notes at Matthew 7:13-14.

For many will seek to enter in, and shall not be able.


Verse 25

When once the master of the house is risen up, and hath shut to the door, and ye begin to stand without, and to knock at the door, saying, Lord, Lord, open unto us; and he shall answer and say unto you, I know you not whence ye are:

When once the Master of the house is risen up, and hath shut to the door. Awfully sublime and vivid picture! At present He is represented as in a sitting posture, as if calmly looking on to see who will "strive," while entrance is practicable. But this is to have an end, by the great Master of the house Himself rising and shutting the door, after which there will be no admittance.

And ye begin to stand without, and to knock at the door, saying, Lord, Lord - emphatic reduplication, expressive of the earnestness holy felt, but too late. See the notes at Matthew 7:21-22. Open unto us; and he shall answer and say unto you, I know you not whence ye are:


Verse 26

Then shall ye begin to say, We have eaten and drunk in thy presence, and thou hast taught in our streets.

Then shall ye begin to say, We have eaten and drunk in thy presence, and thou hast taught in our streets.


Verse 27

But he shall say, I tell you, I know you not whence ye are; depart from me, all ye workers of iniquity.

But he shall say, I tell you, I know you not whence ye are: depart from me, all ye workers of iniquity.

'What! not know us, Lord? Astonishing! Why, we have eaten and drunk in Thy presence. Were we not at that great feast which Matthew the publican made to Thee in his own house? Did we not sit opposite to Thee at his table? Heard we not from Thy lips on that occasion the precious saying, "I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance," a saying which, in the midst of our sins, has proved so great a comfort to us?' - "Never knew you, workers of iniquity!" 'But, Lord, in addition to all this, Thou hast taught in our streets. At Capernaum, did we not live next door to Thee, and what glorious teachings of Thine have we not heard there? When the woman with the issue of blood was healed by touching the hem of Thy garment, we were in the crowd that followed Thee through the streets; and when Thou spakest from Peter's boat to the thronging multitudes that lined the shore of the beautiful lake, we stood right opposite to Thee, and could repeat every word of those seven charming parables which were then delivered. Nay, we followed Thee from place to place, from city to city, enchained by Thy matchless teaching: we could repeat most of the Sermon on the Mount, and we heard Thee utter that great word, "Come unto Me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest;" and what a comfort was that to us! And that glorious word uttered in the streets of Jerusalem on the last, that great day of the feast, we heard, "If any man thirst, let him come unto me and drink." O what scores of such beautiful sayings of Thine did our ears drink in. Never knew us, Lord? Impossible!' - "NEVER KNEW YOU, workers of iniquity!" 'But, Lord-' 'Enough: begone!'


Verse 28-29

There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when ye shall see Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, and all the prophets, in the kingdom of God, and you yourselves thrust out. There (in the place of separation from Me), shall be weeping (for anguish), and gnashing of teeth (for despair), when ye shall see Abraham ... And they shall come from the east, and from the west ... See the note at Luke 7:9.

For Remarks on this section, see the notes at Matthew 7:13-29, Remarks 3, 4, 5, at the close of that section. But we may call attention to the two following points here standing out with special vividness:

(1) No nearness of external communion with Christ will avail at the Great Day, in place of that "holiness without which no man shall see the Lord."

(2) The style which Christ announces that He will then assume-that of absolute Disposer of men's eternal destinies-and contrast this with His "despised and rejected" condition when He uttered these words!


Verse 30

And, behold, there are last which shall be first, and there are first which shall be last.

No JFB commentary on this verse.


Verse 31

The same day there came certain of the Pharisees, saying unto him, Get thee out, and depart hence: for Herod will kill thee.

The same day there came certain of the Pharisees, saying unto him, Get thee out, and depart hence - `Push on without delay, if thou regardest thine own safety.'

For Herod (Antipas) will kill thee , [ thelei (Greek #2309) se (Greek #4571) apokteinai (Greek #615)] - 'is minded to kill thee.' He was now on His way out of Perea, on the east side of the Jordan, and so out of Herod's dominions, "journeying toward Jerusalem" (Luke 13:22). Haunted, probably, by guilty fears, Herod wanted to get rid of Him (see the note at Mark 6:14), and seems, from our Lord's answer, to have sent these Pharisees, under pretence of a friendly hint, to persuade Him that the sooner He got beyond Herod's jurisdiction the better it would be for His own safety. Our Lord saw through both of them, and sends the cunning ruler a message couched in dignified and befitting irony.


Verse 32

And he said unto them, Go ye, and tell that fox, Behold, I cast out devils, and I do cures to day and to morrow, and the third day I shall be perfected.

And he said unto them, Go ye, and tell that fox (that crafty, cruel enemy of God's innocent servants), Behold, I cast out devils, and I do cures today and tomorrow, and the third day I shall be perfected - or, finish My course, attain completion. 'Plot on and ply thy wiles; I also have My plans; My works of mercy are nearing completion, but some yet remain; I have work for today and tomorrow too, and the third day; by that time I shall be where his jurisdiction reaches not; the guilt of My blood shall not lie at his door; that dark deed is reserved for others.' He does not say, as Bengel remarks, I preach the Gospel-that would have made little impression upon Herod. In the light of the merciful character of Christ's actions the malice of Herod's snares is laid bare.


Verse 33

Nevertheless I must walk to day, and to morrow, and the day following: for it cannot be that a prophet perish out of Jerusalem.

Nevertheless I must walk today, and tomorrow, and the day following. Remarkable language, expressive of successive steps of His work yet remaining, of the calm deliberateness with which He meant to go through with them, one after another, to the last, unmoved by Herod's threat, but of the rapid march with which they were now hastening to completion! (Compare Luke 22:37.)

For it cannot be that a prophet perish out of Jerusalem. Awful severity of satire this upon 'the bloody city'! 'He seeks to "kill me" does He? Ah! I must be out of Herod's jurisdiction for that: Go tell him I neither fly from him nor fear him, but Jerusalem has ever been, and is once more to become, the prophet's slaughter-house.'


Verse 34

O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, which killest the prophets, and stonest them that are sent unto thee; how often would I have gathered thy children together, as a hen doth gather her brood under her wings, and ye would not!

O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, which killest the prophets, and stonest them that are sent unto thee; how often would I have gathered thy children together, as a hen doth gather her brood under her wings, and ye would not!


Verse 35

Behold, your house is left unto you desolate: and verily I say unto you, Ye shall not see me, until the time come when ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord.

Behold, your house is left unto you desolate: and verily I say unto you, Ye shall not see me, until the time come when ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord. How naturally this melting Lamentation would be wrung from Christ's heart after the words just uttered, let the devout and intelligent reader judge. And yet there are critics of some weight who regard it as but a repetition by the Third Evangelist of the Lamentation uttered considerably later, on His final departure from the Temple, and recorded in its proper place by Matthew (Matthew 23:37-39). For the exposition, see the notes at Matthew 23:37-39, with Remarks at the close of that section.

 


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Bibliography Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Luke 13:4". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/luke-13.html. 1871-8.

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Monday, September 23rd, 2019
the Week of Proper 20 / Ordinary 25
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