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Bible Commentaries

Vincent's Word Studies
Luke 14



Verse 1

Watched ( ἧσαν παρατηρούμενοι )

The participle and finite verb, were engaged in watching. Closely ( παρά ). See on Mark 3:2.

Verse 2

Which had the dropsy ( ὑδρωπικὸς )

Lit., a dropsical man. The usual way of marking a dropsical patient in medical language.

Verse 4


Took hold of him. Luke 20:20; 1 Timothy 6:12.

Verse 5

Pit ( φρέαρ )

The primary meaning is a well as distinguished from a fountain.

Pull out

More correctly up ( ἀνά )i1.

Verse 7

They chose

Imperfect: were choosing. Something going on before his eyes.

The chief seats

Or couches. The Greek writers refer to the absurd contentions which sometimes arose for the chief seats at table. Theophrastus designates one who thrusts himself into the place next the host as μικροφιλότιμος one who seeks petty distinctions.

Verse 8


More properly, marriage-feast.

Verse 9


Emphasizing the shame of the reluctant movement toward the lower place.

The lowest

Since the other, intervening places are all assigned.

Verse 10

Sit down ( ἀνάπεσε )

Lit., lay yourself back.

Verse 11


See Matthew 11:29.

Verse 12

Dinner - supper

See on Matthew 22:4. Supper ( δειπνον ) is the principal meal at evening, and corresponding to the modern late dinner.

Call not thy friends, etc

A striking parallel occurs in Plato's “Phaedrus233. “And, in general, when you make a feast, invite not your friend, but the beggar and the empty soul, for they will love you, and attend you, and come about your doors, and will be the best pleased, and the most grateful, and will invoke blessings on your head.”

Verse 13

Feast ( δοχήν )

Or reception. Used by Luke only. See on Luke 5:29.

Verse 15


See on Matthew 5:3.

Verse 16

Made ( ἐποίει )

Imperfect, was making. His preparations were in progress. A definite act among these preparations is described by the aorist, he bade ( ἐκάλεσεν ), the technical word for inviting to a festival. See Matthew 22:3; John 2:2.

Sent his servant

“If a sheikh, bey, or emeer invites, he always sends a servant to call you at the proper time. This servant often repeats the very formula mentioned in Luke 14:17: Come, for the supper is ready. The fact that this custom is confined to the wealthy and to the nobility is in strict agreement with the parable, where the man who made the supper is supposed to be of this class. It is true now, as then, that to refuse is a high insult to the maker of the feast (Thomson, “Land and Book”)Palgrave mentions a similar formula of invitation among the Bedouins of Arabia. “The chief, or some un-breeched youngster of his family, comes up to us with the customary tefaddalooor do us the favor (“Central and Eastern Arabia”).

Verse 18

Make excuse ( παραιτεῖσθαι )

Also rendered in New Testament refuse, Hebrews 12:19, Hebrews 12:25, where both meanings occur. See also 2 Timothy 2:23, Rev. Our phrase, beg off, expresses the idea here.

I must needs ( ἔχω ἀνάγκην )

Lit., I have necessity: a strong expression.

Go ( ἐξελθεῖν )

Go out ( ἐξ ) from the city.

Verse 20

I cannot

A newly married man had special indulgence allowed him. See Deuteronomy 24:5. Herodotus relates how Croesus refused for his son an invitation to a hunt on this ground. “But Croesus answered, 'Say no more of my son going with you; that may not be in anywise. He is but just joined in wedlock, and is busy enough with that'” (i., 36). The man who had the most plausible excuse returned the surliest and most peremptory answer. Compare 1 Corinthians 7:33.

Verse 21

Streets ( πλατείας ) - lanes ( ῥύμας )

The former word from πλατύς , broad; the broad streets contrasted with the narrow lanes. Wyc., great streets and small streets.

Verse 22

As thou hast commanded

Following the reading ὡς , as. The best texts substitute ὃ , what. Render as Rev., “What thou didst command is done.”

Verse 23

Hedges ( φραγμοὺς )

See on Matthew 21:33. It may mean either a hedge, or a place enclosed with a hedge. Here the hedges beside which vagrants rest.


Compare constrained, Matthew 14:22; Acts 26:11; Galatians 6:12. Not to use force, but to constrain them against the reluctance which such poor creatures would feel at accepting the invitation of a great lord.

May be filled ( γεμισθῇ )

A very strong word; properly of loading a ship. “Nature and grace alike abhor a vacuum” (Bengel).

Verse 27

His cross

More correctly, his own. An important charge. All must bear the cross, but not all the same cross: each one his own.

Verse 28

A tower

The subject of the parable is the life of Christian discipleship, which is figured by a tower, a lofty structure, as something distinguished from the world and attracting attention.

Counteth ( ψηφίζει )

Only here and Revelation 13:18. From ψῆφος , apebble (see Revelation 2:17), used as a counter. Thus Herodotus says that the Egyptians, when they calculate ( λογιζονται ψήφοις , reckon with pebbles)move their hand from right to left (ii., 36). So Aristophanes, “Reckon roughly, not with pebbles ( ψήφοις )but on the hand” (“Wasps,” 656). Similarly calculate, from Latin calculus, a pebble. Used also of voting. Thus Herodotus: “The Greeks met at the altar of Neptune, and took the ballots ( τὰς ψήφοις ) wherewith they were to give their votes.” Plato: “And you, would you vote ( ἂν ψῆφον θεῖο , cast your pebble ) with me or against me?” (“Protagoras,” 330). See Acts 26:10.

Cost ( τὴν δαπάνην )

Allied to δάπτω , to devour. Hence expense, as something which eats up resources.

Sufficient ( εἰς ἀπαρτισμόν )

Lit., unto completion. The kindred verb ἀπαρτίζω , not used in New Testament, means to make even or square, and hence to complete.

Verse 29

To finish ( ἐκτελέσαι )

Lit., “to finish out ( ἐκ )Behold ( θεωροῦντες )

Attentively watching the progress of the building. See on Luke 10:18.

Begin to mock

As his resources come to an end.

Verse 30

This man ( οὗτος ὁ ἄνθρωπος )

With sarcastic emphasis.

Was not able ( οὐκ ἴσχυσεν )

From ἰσχύς , strength. See on power, 2 Peter 2:11. To be strong in body or in resources, and so to be worth, as Lat., valere. “This man was not worth enough, or was not good for the completion.” In this latter sense, Matthew 5:13, “good for nothing.”

Verse 31

To make war against another king ( ἑτέρῳ βασιλεῖ συμβαλεῖν εἰς πόλεμον )

Lit., to come together with another king Jer war. So Rev., to encounter another king in war.

“Out he flashed,

And into such a song, such fire for fame,

Such trumpet-blowings in it, coming down

To such a stern and iron-clashing close,

That when he stopped we longed to hurl together.”

Tennyson,Idyls of the King.

With ten thousand ( ἐν δέκα χιλιάσιν )

Lit., in ten thousands: i.e., in the midst of; surrounded by. Compare Judges 1:14.

Verse 32

Asketh ( ἐρωτᾷ )

On a footing of equality: king treating with king. See on Luke 11:9.

Conditions of peace ( τὰ πρὸς εἰρήνην )

Lit., this looking toward peace: preliminaries. Compare Romans 14:19, things which make for peace ( τὰ τῆς εἰρήνης , the things of peace)i1.

Verse 33

Forsaketh ( ἀποτάσσεται )

Bids good-by to. Rev., renounceth. See on Luke 9:61. “In that forsaketh lies the key to the whole passage” (Trench). Christian discipleship is founded in self-renunciation.

Verse 34

Have lost its savor

See on Matthew 5:13.

Shall it be seasoned

See on Mark 9:50.


Copyright Statement
The text of this work is public domain.

Bibliography Information
Vincent, Marvin R. DD. "Commentary on Luke 14:4". "Vincent's Word Studies in the New Testament". Charles Schribner's Sons. New York, USA. 1887.

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Tuesday, May 26th, 2020
the Seventh Week after Easter
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