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Bible Commentaries

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged
Luke 17

 

 

Verse 1

Then said he unto the disciples, It is impossible but that offences will come: but woe unto him, through whom they come!

Whether this was delivered in continuation of what is recorded in the preceding chapter, it is impossible to say; but probably it came close upon it.


Verse 2

It were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he cast into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones.

Then said he unto the disciples, It is impossible but that offences ... It were better for him that a millstone ... See the note at Mark 9:42.


Verse 3

Take heed to yourselves: If thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive him.

Take heed to yourselves-Guard your spirit: If thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive him.


Verse 4

And if he trespass against thee seven times in a day, and seven times in a day turn again to thee, saying, I repent; thou shalt forgive him.

And if he trespass against thee seven times in a day, and seven times in a day turn again to thee, saying, I repent; thou shalt forgive him - that is, 'however often;' seven being the number of completeness. So that this is not a lower measure of forgiving love than the "seventy-times seven times" was, enjoined upon Peter; because that was merely because Peter had asked if he was to stop at seven times-to which the reply was, 'No, not though it should come to seventy times that number.' See the notes at Matthew 18:21-22.


Verse 5

And the apostles said unto the Lord, Increase our faith.

And the apostles said unto the Lord (see the note at Luke 11:1), Increase our faith. What prompted so special a petition? No doubt the felt difficulty of carrying into effect such holy directions-the difficulty first of avoiding offences, and next of forgiving them so divinely. This is the only instance in which a spiritual operation upon their souls was solicited of Christ by the Twelve; but a kindred and even higher prayer had been offered to Him before, by one with far fewer opportunities, which in all likelihood first suggested to them this prayer. See the note at Mark 9:24, and Remark 3 at the close of that section.


Verse 6

And the Lord said, If ye had faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye might say unto this sycamine tree, Be thou plucked up by the root, and be thou planted in the sea; and it should obey you.

And the Lord said, If ye had faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye might say unto this sycamine (or mulberry tree), be thou plucked up by the root, and be thou planted in the sea; and it should obey you. See the notes at Mark 11:22-24, and Remark 3 at the close of that section.


Verse 7

But which of you, having a servant plowing or feeding cattle, will say unto him by and by, when he is come from the field, Go and sit down to meat?

But which of you, having a servant plowing or feeding cattle, will say unto him by and by [or 'directly' eutheoos (G2112)], when he is come from the field, Go and sit down to meat? By this way of arranging and pointing the words, the sense is obscured. It would be clearer thus: 'Which of you, having a servant plowing or feeding cattle, will say unto him, when he is come, from the field, Go directly, and sit down to meat.'


Verse 8

And will not rather say unto him, Make ready wherewith I may sup, and gird thyself, and serve me, till I have eaten and drunken; and afterward thou shalt eat and drink?

And will not rather say unto him, Make ready wherewith I may sup, and gird thyself, and serve me, until I have eaten and drunken; and afterward thou shalt eat and drink?


Verse 9

Doth he thank that servant because he did the things that were commanded him? I trow not.

Doth he thank that servant because he did the things that were commanded him? I trow not , [ ou (Greek #3756) dokoo (Greek #1380)] - or as we say, when much more is meant, 'I presume not,' or 'I should think not.'


Verse 10

So likewise ye, when ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants: we have done that which was our duty to do.

So likewise ye, when ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants. The word 'unprofitable' [ achreioi (Greek #888)], though in modern English denoting the opposite of profit, is here used in its proper negative sense, 'We have not profited' or 'benefited God at all by our services.' The connection of this with the subject discoursed of may be thus expressed-`But when your faith has been so increased as both to avoid and forgive offences, and do things impossible to all but faith-even then, be not puffed up as though you had laid the Lord under any obligations to you.' (Compare Job 22:2-3; Romans 11:35)


Verse 11

And it came to pass, as he went to Jerusalem, that he passed through the midst of Samaria and Galilee.

And it came to pass, as he went to Jerusalem, that he [The 'He' is emphatic kai (G2532) autos (G846)], passed through the midst of Samaria and Galilee , [ dia (Greek #1223) mesou (Greek #3319) Samareias (Greek #4540)]. This may mean, 'between Samaria and Galilee,' that is, on the frontiers of both, but without passing through them-as Meyer, Alford, Webster and Wilkinson, etc., take it: or, it may mean, "through the midst of Samaria and Galilee," in the sense of passing through those regions-as de Wette and Olshausen understand it. But in this sense the phrase is scarcely a natural one; nor does it seem to us likely that our Evangelist means his readers to understand that this was a fresh journey through those great divisions of the country. We prefer, therefore, the former sense. But the whole chronology of this large portion of our Gospel is difficult. See remarks prefixed to Luke 9:51.


Verse 12

And as he entered into a certain village, there met him ten men that were lepers, which stood afar off:

And as he entered into a certain village, there met him ten men that were lepers, which stood afar off.

See the affecting directions laid down for such in Leviticus 13:45-46. That there should be so many as ten in one locality shows how numerous they, as well as possessed persons, must have been in Palestine in our Lord's time-no doubt with a view to the manifestation of His glory in healing them.


Verse 13

And they lifted up their voices, and said, Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.

And they lifted up their voices - their common misery, as Trench remarks, drawing these poor outcasts together (see 2 Kings 7:3), nay, causing them to forget the fierce national antipathy which reigned between Jew and Samaritan.

And said, Jesus, Master [ epistata (G1988)] have mercy on us. How quick a teacher is felt misery, even though in some cases (as in all but one here) the teaching may be soon forgotten!


Verse 14

And when he saw them, he said unto them, Go shew yourselves unto the priests. And it came to pass, that, as they went, they were cleansed.

And when he saw them, he said unto them, Go show yourselves unto the priests - that is, as cleansed persons. See the note at Matthew 8:4. One of these was a Samaritan; but he too was required to go with the rest, thus teaching him that "Salvation was of the Jews" (John 4:22). And yet, when ordered to do this, they had not been cleansed. A great trial of faith this was. But they obeyed.

And it came to pass, that, as they went, they were cleansed. In how many different ways were our Lord's cures performed, and this different from all the rest! Yet it closely resembled the cure of the nobleman's son (John 4:50-53).


Verse 15

And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, and with a loud voice glorified God, And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, and with a loud voice glorified God,

And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, and with a loud voice glorified God.

Forgetting all about the priests, or unable to proceed further, on discovering the change upon him, he returns to His wondrous Benefactor, his emotions finding vent in a loud burst of praise.


Verse 16

And fell down on his face at his feet, giving him thanks: and he was a Samaritan.

And fell down on his face at his feet, giving him thanks: and he was a Samaritan. While he rendered his tribute to Him from whom cometh down every good and perfect gift, he gave thanks at the same time to the mysterious, beneficent Hand by which the cure was performed. And as these men must have had their faith kindled by the reported wonders of His hand on others like themselves, no doubt they saw in Jesus what the Samaritans of Sychar did - "the Christ, the Saviour of the world" (John 4:42), however imperfect their conceptions.


Verse 17

And Jesus answering said, Were there not ten cleansed? but where are the nine?

And Jesus answering said, Were there not ten, cleansed? [ ouchi (Greek #3780) hoi (Greek #3588) deka (Greek #1176) ekatharistheesan (Greek #2511)] - rather, 'Were not the ten cleansed?'-that is, the whole ten. A striking example this of Christ's omniscience, as Bengel notices.

But where are the nine? [ hoi (Greek #3588) de (Greek #1161) ennea (Greek #1767) pou (Greek #4226)] - 'but the nine, where [are they]?'


Verse 18

There are not found that returned to give glory to God, save this stranger.

There are not found that returned to give glory to God, save this stranger , [ ho (Greek #3588) allogenees (Greek #241) houtos (Greek #3778)] - 'this alien,' 'this of another race.' The language is that of wonder and admiration, as is expressly said of another exhibition of Gentile faith (Matthew 8:10).


Verse 19

And he said unto him, Arise, go thy way: thy faith hath made thee whole.

And he said unto him, Arise - for he was on his face at Jesus' feet, and there, it seems, lay prostrate.

Go thy way: thy faith hath made thee whole - not as the others, merely in body, but in that higher spiritual sense with which His constant language has so familiarized us.

For Remarks on this section, see those on the sections referred to in the exposition.

As usual in this portion of our Gospel, we have no notice of time or place. (See opening remarks at Luke 9:51.) To meet the erroneous views not only of the Pharisees, but of the disciples themselves, our Lord addresses both, announcing the coming of the Kingdom under different aspects.


Verse 20

And when he was demanded of the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God should come, he answered them and said, The kingdom of God cometh not with observation:

And when he was demanded of the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God should come, he answered them and said, The kingdom of God cometh not with observation , [ meta (Greek #3326) parateereeseoos (Greek #3907)]. The word signifies 'watching' or 'lying in wait for a person or thing. In this sense, they "watched" our Lord once and again (Luke 14:1; Luke 20:20; Mark 3:2); and so they "watched" the gates to kill Paul (Acts 9:24). Here, the precise meaning would seem to be, The kingdom of God cometh not with 'watching' or 'lying in wait for it,' 'straining after it,' as for something outwardly imposing, and at once revealing itself. What follows confirms this.


Verse 21

Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.

Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! - shut up within this or that sharply defined or visible limit, geographical or ecclesiastical.

For the kingdom of God is within you - [ entos (Greek #1787) humoon (Greek #5216)]. This may either mean, 'inside of you;' meaning, that it is of an internal and spiritual character, as opposed to their outside views of it: so the best expositors among the Fathers understood it; and so, of the moderns, Luther, Erasmus, Calvin, Campbell, Olshausen. Or, it may mean 'in the midst of you,' or 'among you'-as already set up in its beginnings, if they had but eyes to discern it: so Beza, Grotius, Bengel, Meyer, de Wette, Alford, Webster and Wilkinson. It seems a weak argument against the former sense, though urged by nearly all who adopt the latter, that the kingdom of God could not be said to be within or in the hearts of the Pharisees, to whom our Lord was addressing himself. For, all that the phrase, in that sense, implies is, that it is 'within men,' as its general character. The question must be decided by the whole scope of the statement; and though others judge this to be in favour of the second sense, we incline, on this ground, to the first. Compare Deuteronomy 30:11-14; Romans 14:17.


Verse 22

And he said unto the disciples, The days will come, when ye shall desire to see one of the days of the Son of man, and ye shall not see it.

And he said unto the disciples - for they needed light on this subject, as well as the Pharisees,

The days will come , [ Eleusontai (Greek #2064) heemerai (Greek #2250)] - rather, 'There shall come days,'

When ye shall desire to see one of the days of the Son of man, and ye shall not see it - that is, one day of His own presence among them, such as they now had. See Matthew 9:15. 'So far will the kingdom I speak of be from bringing with it My personal presence, that amidst the approaching calamities and confusion, and the anxiety ye will be in for the infant cause-which will then be felt to lie all upon your own feeble shoulders-ye will be fain to say, O that we had the Master among us again but for one day! But ye shall not have Him?' He was to make other and more suitable provision, in the mission of the Comforter, for their fluttering hearts; but of that it was not now the time and place to speak.


Verse 23

And they shall say to you, See here; or, see there: go not after them, nor follow them.

And they shall say to you, See here! or, see there! go not after them, nor follow them. A warning, says Alford, to all so-called expositors of prophecy and their followers, who cry, Lo there and see here, every time that war breaks out, or revolutions occur.


Verse 24

For as the lightning, that lighteneth out of the one part under heaven, shineth unto the other part under heaven; so shall also the Son of man be in his day.

For as the lightning, that lighteneth out of the one part under heaven, shineth unto the other part under heaven; so shall also the Son of man be in his day. That is, it will be as manifest as the lightning. So that the kingdom here spoken of has its external and visible side too. 'The Lord,' says Stier correctly, 'speaks here of His coming and manifestation in a prophetically indefinite manner, and in these preparatory words blends into one the distinctive epochs.' When the whole polity of the Jews, civil and ecclesiastical alike, was broken up at once, and its continuance rendered impossible, by the destruction of Jerusalem, it became as manifest to all as the lightning of heaven that the Kingdom of God had ceased to exist in its old, and had entered on a new and perfectly different, form. So it may be again, before its final and greatest change at the personal coming of Christ, of which the words in their highest sense are alone true.


Verse 25

But first must he suffer many things, and be rejected of this generation.

But first must he suffer many things, and be rejected of this generation. This shows that the more immediate reference of the previous verse is to an event soon to follow the death of Christ. It was designed to withdraw the attention of "His disciples" from the glare in which His foregoing words had invested the approaching establishment of His kingdom.


Verse 26

And as it was in the days of Noe, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of man.

And as it was in the days of Noe, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of man.


Verse 27

They did eat, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, and the flood came, and destroyed them all.

They did eat ... drank ... married ... were given in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, and the flood came, and destroyed them all.


Verse 28

Likewise also as it was in the days of Lot; they did eat, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they builded;

Likewise also as it was in the days of Lot; they did eat ... drank ... bought ... sold ... planted ... builded;


Verse 29

But the same day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven, and destroyed them all.

But the same day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven, and destroyed them all.


Verse 30

Even thus shall it be in the day when the Son of man is revealed.

Even thus shall it be in the day when the Son of man is revealed. It will be observed here that what the flood and the flames found the antediluvians and the Sodomites engaged in were just all the ordinary and innocent occupations and enjoyments of life-eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, in the one case; eating and drinking, buying and selling, planting and building, in the other. Though the antediluvian world and the cities of the plain were awfully wicked, it is not their wickedness, but their worldliness, their unbelief and indifference to the future, their unpreparedness, that is here held up as a warning. Let the reader mark how these great events of Old Testament History-denied, or explained away, now-a-days by not a few who profess to reverence our Lord's authority-are here referred to by Him as facts. The wretched theory of accommodation to the popular belief-as if our Lord could lend Himself to this in such cases-is now nearly exploded.


Verse 31

In that day, he which shall be upon the housetop, and his stuff in the house, let him not come down to take it away: and he that is in the field, let him likewise not return back.

In that day, he which shall be upon the house-top, and his stuff in the house, let him not come down to take it away: and he that is in the field, let him likewise not return back. A warning against that lingering reluctance to part with present treasures which induces some to remain in a burning house, in hopes of saving this and that precious article, until consumed and buried in its ruins. The cases here supposed, though different, of course, are similar.


Verse 32

Remember Lot's wife.

Remember Lot's wife - her "look back" and her doom. Her heart was in Sodom still, and that "look" just said, 'Ah, Sodom! and shall I never enter, never see thee again? must I bid thee a final adieu?'


Verse 33

Whosoever shall seek to save his life shall lose it; and whosoever shall lose his life shall preserve it.

Whosoever shall seek to save his life shall lose it; and whosoever shall lose his life shall preserve it. See the note at Matthew 10:39.


Verse 34

I tell you, in that night there shall be two men in one bed; the one shall be taken, and the other shall be left.

I tell you, in that night there shall be two men in one bed; the one shall be taken, and the other shall be left.


Verse 35

Two women shall be grinding together; the one shall be taken, and the other left.

Two women shall be grinding together (see the note at Mark 9:42); the One shall be taken, and the other left.


Verse 36

Two men shall be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left.

[Two men shall be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left.] The evidence against the genuineness of this verse is too strong to admit of its being printed without brackets, as at least doubtful, and probably taken from Matthew 24:40. All the critical editors exclude it from their text, and nearly all critical expositors concur with them. DeWette, however, inclines to receive it. The prepared and the unprepared will, says our Lord, be found mingled in closest contact together in the ordinary walks and fellowships of life when the moment of severance arrives. Awful truth! Realized before the destruction of Jerusalem, when the Christians found themselves forced by their Lord's directions (Luke 21:21) at once and forever away from their old associates; but most of all, when the second coming of Christ shall burst upon a heedless world.


Verse 37

And they answered and said unto him, Where, Lord? And he said unto them, Wheresoever the body is, thither will the eagles be gathered together.

And they answered and said unto him, Where, Lord? Where shall this occur? And he said unto them, Wheresoever the body is, there will the eagles be gathered together. Though what is here said of the eagles is true rather of the vultures, yet as both are birds of prey, the former are named here (and in Matthew 24:28), with an evident allusion to the Roman eagles-the standard of the Roman army-to signify the vengeance more immediately referred to. 'As birds of prey scent out the carrion, so wherever is found a mass of incurable moral and spiritual corruption, there will be seen alighting the ministers of divine judgment;' a proverbial saying terrifically verified at the destruction of Jerusalem, and many times since, though its most tremendous illustration will be at the world's final day. For Remarks on this section, see those at the close of Mark 13:1-37.

 


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Bibliography Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Luke 17:4". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/luke-17.html. 1871-8.

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