Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Luke 13:23

And someone said to Him, "Lord, are there just a few who are being saved?" And He said to them,
New American Standard Version

Bible Study Resources

Concordances:
Nave's Topical Bible - Curiosity;   Jesus, the Christ;   Scofield Reference Index - Parables;   The Topic Concordance - Direction;   Life;   Striving;  
Dictionaries:
Baker Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology - Kingdom of God;   Fausset Bible Dictionary - Gospels;   Holman Bible Dictionary - Luke, Gospel of;   Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - Matthew, Gospel According to;   Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament - Discourse;   Education (2);   Eternal Punishment;   Impotence;   Questions and Answers;   Reserve;   Resurrection of the Dead;   Salvation;   Sermon on the Mount;   People's Dictionary of the Bible - Chief parables and miracles in the bible;   Smith Bible Dictionary - He'li;  
Encyclopedias:
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Punishment, Everlasting;  

Adam Clarke Commentary

Are there few that be saved? - A question either of impertinence or curiosity, the answer to which can profit no man. The grand question is, Can I be saved? Yes. How? Strive earnestly to enter in through the strait gate - αγωνιζεσθε, agonize - exert every power of body and soul - let your salvation be the grand business of your whole life.

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Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Luke 13:23". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/luke-13.html. 1832.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

Then said one - Who this was does not appear. It is probable that he was not one of the disciples, but one of the Jews, who came either to perplex him, or to involve him in a controversy with the Pharisees.

Are there few that be saved? - It was the prevalent opinion among the Jews that few would enter heaven. As but two of all the hosts that came out of Egypt entered into the land of Canaan, so some of them maintained that a proportionally small number would enter into heaven (Lightfoot). On this subject the man wished the opinion of Jesus. It was a question of idle curiosity. The answer to it would have done little good. It was far more important for the man to secure his own salvation, than to indulge in such idle inquiries and vain speculations. Our Lord therefore advised “him,” as he does “all, to strive” to enter into heaven.

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Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Luke 13:23". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/luke-13.html. 1870.

Coffman Commentaries on the Bible

And one said unto him, Lord, are there few that are saved? And he said unto them, Strive to enter in by the narrow door: for many, I say unto you, shall seek to enter in, and shall not be able. 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, open unto us; and he shall answer and say to you, I know you not whence ye are; then shall ye begin to say, We did eat and drink in thy presence, and thou didst teach in our streets; and he shall say, I tell you, I know not whence ye are; depart from me, all ye workers of iniquity. There shall be the weeping and the gnashing of teeth, when ye shall see Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, and all the prophets, in the kingdom of God, and yourselves cast forth without. And they shall come from the east and west, and from the north and south, and shall sit down in the kingdom of God. And behold, there are last who shall be first, and there are first who shall be last.

Are there few that are saved ...? Jesus did not answer that question, rather stressing the fact that every man should make it as sure as he can that he himself is saved. The questioner who proposed this was not further mentioned, for Jesus did not address him, but "them."

Strive to enter in by the narrow door; for many, I say unto you, shall seek to enter in, and shall not be able ...

CASUAL SEEKERS AT THE STRAIT (NARROW) GATE

<LINES><MONO>

I. Behold here is a door which it is most desirable that man should enter.

A. Because it is the gate of man's spiritual home,

1. Our citizenship is there (Philippians 3:20).

2. Our treasure is there (Matthew 6:20).

3. The hope of every man is there (Hebrews 6:19).

4. Our Lord is there (John 14:1-3).

5. Our names are written there (Luke 10:20).

B. Because it is the gate of the city of refuge (Hebrews 6:18).

C. Because it is the gate of eternal life.

D. Because it is the gate of escape from the fate of the wicked.

II. How is it that some shall seek to enter and not be able?

A. Some may not enter because of the pride of life (1 Peter 5:6).

B. Procrastination will prevent some from entering (2 Corinthians 6:2).

C. The casual seeker cannot enter. The word "strive" in the text means "agonize."

D. Some carry contraband. Many things must be abandoned by all who would enter this door.

E. Some wait until the "door is shut."

F. Some never try at all, thinking they are already in.

Illustration: The case of Abner (2 Samuel 3:33).

- adapted from Charles H. SpurgeonSIZE>MONO>LINES>

And hath shut to the door ... These words have the effect of placing the scene Jesus spoke of here at the final judgment. Only then, may it be said that the door is shut. "Jesus does not say that many strive in vain to enter, but that there will be many who seek in vain to enter, after the time of salvation is past."[27] Lamar also taught the same thing, "Jesus does not say nor mean that many will seek to enter in at the strait gate and not be able; - but that they will seek to enter heaven without going through the strait gate."[28] "STRAIT is an old English word meaning NARROW."[29]

The east and the west, and north and south ... The universality of the kingdom of God is seen in these words which are similar to Isaiah 49:12.

Abraham ... Isaac ... and all the prophets ... Here is a categorical statement by the Christ that these ancient worthies are to be reckoned among those eternally saved; and, in view of the sins of which these, and other Old Testament worthies, were guilty, there must be found a vast ground of encouragement for disciples of all ages. Not sinlessness, but the proper repentance and acknowledgment of their need of forgiveness were their dominant characteristics.

Sit down with Abraham ... etc. "This graphically portrays the messianic banquet, a symbol of the joys of the age in which the Messiah shall rule";[30] but the passage goes beyond that to include the eternal joys of the redeemed in heaven.

Weeping and the gnashing of teeth ... The expression regarding eternal punishment is found six times in Matthew, but only here in Luke.

They indicate, as far as merely earthly words and symbols can, the utter misery of those unhappy ones who find themselves shut out from the kingdom in the world to come.[31]

And ye yourselves thrust out ... Many of the fleshly seed of Abraham, through their rejection of Christ, shall fail to attain unto the promise of Abraham.

Last who shall be first ... and first who shall be last ... These words mean that the final judgment will bring many surprises, a fact Jesus often stressed.

[27] Alfred Plummer, Gospel according to St. Luke (New York: T. and T. Clark, 1922), en loco.

[28] J. S. Lamar, op. cit., p. 189.

[29] Everett H. Harrison, op. cit., p. 239.

[30] Ray Summers, op. cit., p. 171.

[31] H. D. M. Spence, op. cit., p. 5.

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Coffman Commentaries reproduced by permission of Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. All other rights reserved.
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Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on Luke 13:23". "Coffman Commentaries on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bcc/luke-13.html. Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

Then said one unto him,.... Not one of his disciples, but one of the company, in some one of the cities or villages he passed through, or as he was in the road to Jerusalem:

are there few that be saved? It is a received opinion among the JewsF26Misn. Sanhedrin, c. 11. sect. 1. , that all Israel shall have a part in the world to come; and this man might put the question to know whether Christ was of this sentiment or not. And by some things he had observed drop from him, and it may be the foregoing parables, which express the small beginnings of his kingdom, and seem to signify, that at first his Gospel should be received but by a few, though it should afterwards spread, he might collect, that his sense was, there would be but a few saved; or this might be a question of mere curiosity and speculation, as it seems to be, by Christ's treatment of it, who does not give a direct answer to it, but puts him and others upon showing a concern for their own salvation.

And he said unto them; not to the man only that put the question, but to the whole company; though the Persic and Ethiopic versions read, "he said unto him", as follows.

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The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rights Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
A printed copy of this work can be ordered from: The Baptist Standard Bearer, 1 Iron Oaks Dr, Paris, AR, 72855
Bibliographical Information
Gill, John. "Commentary on Luke 13:23". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/luke-13.html. 1999.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

Lord, etc. — one of those curious questions by talking of which some flatter themselves they are religious.

said unto them — the multitude; taking no notice of the man or his question, save as furnishing the occasion of a solemn warning not to trifle with so momentous a matter as “salvation.”

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These files are a derivative of an electronic edition prepared from text scanned by Woodside Bible Fellowship.
This expanded edition of the Jameison-Faussett-Brown Commentary is in the public domain and may be freely used and distributed.
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Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Luke 13:23". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfb/luke-13.html. 1871-8.

John Lightfoot's Commentary on the Gospels

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

[Are there few that be saved?] This question, Lord, are there few that be saved? when it was a received opinion amongst the Jews, 'that all Israel should have their part in the world to come,' makes it doubtful whether it was propounded captiously, or merely for satisfaction.

This very matter is disputed amongst the Masters. "Therefore hell hath enlarged herself, and opened her mouth beyond the statute [without measure, AV]. Resh Lachish saith, 'This is for him who forsaketh one statute.' (The Gloss is, 'He that leaves one statute unobserved shall be condemned in hell.') But R. Jochanan saith, 'Their Lord will not have it so as thou sayest concerning them.' (The Gloss is, 'He will not have thee judge so concerning Israel.') For the sense is, Although a man have learned but one statute only, he shall escape hell. It is said, 'It shall come to pass that in all the land, saith the Lord, two parts of it shall be cut off and die, and the third part shall be left.' Resh Lachish saith, 'The third part of Shem.' R. Jochanan saith unto him, 'Their Lord will not have it so as thou sayest concerning them, for it is the third part of Noah.' It is said, 'I will take you one of a city and two of a tribe.' Resh Lachish saith, 'These words are to be understood in the very letter.' R. Jochanan saith unto him, 'Their Lord will not have it so as thou sayest concerning them, but one of a city shall expiate for the whole city, and two of a family for the whole family. It is said, 'I will take them for my people'; and it is said, 'I will bring you into the land.' He compares their going out of the land of Egypt with their coming in to their own land: now how was their coming in into the land of Canaan? There were only two persons of threescore myriads that entered it. Rabba saith, So also shall it be in the days of the Messiah.'" A man would hardly have expected such ingenuity from a Jew as we here meet with in Resh Lachish and Rabba.

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Lightfoot, John. "Commentary on Luke 13:23". "John Lightfoot Commentary on the Gospels". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jlc/luke-13.html. 1675.

People's New Testament

Are there few that be saved? The same question is often asked now. Christ never answers it, but bids the questioner to look out for his own salvation.

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Original work done by Ernie Stefanik. First published online in 1996 at The Restoration Movement Pages.
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Johnson, Barton W. "Commentary on Luke 13:23". "People's New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/pnt/luke-13.html. 1891.

Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament

Are they few that be saved? (ει ολιγοι οι σωζομενοιei oligoi hoi sōzomenoi̱). Note use of ειei as an interrogative which can be explained as ellipsis or as ειηei = (Robertson, Grammar, p. 1024). This was an academic theological problem with the rabbis, the number of the elect.

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The Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament. Copyright Broadman Press 1932,33, Renewal 1960. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Broadman Press (Southern Baptist Sunday School Board)
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Robertson, A.T. "Commentary on Luke 13:23". "Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/rwp/luke-13.html. Broadman Press 1932,33. Renewal 1960.

The Fourfold Gospel

And one said unto him, Lord, are they few that are saved1? And he said unto them,

  1. And one said unto him, Lord, are they few that are saved? It is likely that this question was asked by a Jew, and that the two parables illustrating the smallness of the kingdom's beginning suggested it to him. The Jews extended their exclusive spirit even to their ideals of a world to come, so that they believed none but the chosen race would behold its glories. The circumstances attending to the conversion of Cornelius, recorded in Acts, show how this exclusiveness survived even among Jewish Christians. The questioner wished Jesus to commit himself to this narrow Jewish spirit, or else to take a position which would subject him to the charge of being unpatriotic.

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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.
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J. W. McGarvey and Philip Y. Pendleton. "Commentary on Luke 13:23". "The Fourfold Gospel". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tfg/luke-13.html. Standard Publishing Company, Cincinnati, Ohio. 1914.

Scofield's Reference Notes

saved

(See Scofield "Romans 1:16").

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These files are considered public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available in the Online Bible Software Library.
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Scofield, C. I. "Scofield Reference Notes on Luke 13:23". "Scofield Reference Notes (1917 Edition)". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/srn/luke-13.html. 1917.

James Nisbet's Church Pulpit Commentary

A PUZZLING QUESTION

‘Then said one unto Him, Lord, are there few that be saved?’

Luke 13:23

This question was put to Jesus by one who met with Him as He was journeying to Jerusalem. Yet it was not the question of that one inquirer alone. It has been asked by the heart, or the mind, or the lips, of men, from generation to generation.

I. A question of the lips.—Often it is a question but of the lips alone. ‘Are there few that be saved?’ asks the frivolous trifler who has chanced for a moment to be within the sound of spiritual things, and utters the first question which a vain curiosity may suggest, or which he has caught from another’s lips; and then he passes on regardless of the answer, careless whether the saved be many or whether they be few, or whether there be, indeed, any salvation at all.

II. A question of the mind.—‘Are there few that be saved?’ asks the religious controversialist, and he is already well prepared with an answer which is quite satisfactory to himself. Already he has formed his system of opinions according to which he measures and marks out the ways of God. He calls himself a High Churchman, or he calls himself Evangelical; he talks of points of doctrine, discusses disputed questions, baptism, or Church authority, or private judgment, and gets you into conversation that he may judge by your answer whether you belong to his party or not, and he is ready with clever argument and quoted text to prove himself right or to prove you wrong.

III. A question of the heart.—But often the question is put in a very different tone. It has become a question of the heart. ‘Lord, are there few that be saved?’ may be the trembling, earnest, desperate cry of one who is perplexed and bewildered by the dreadful power of evil; who sees that one dark shadow resting upon all; who thinks of the lives which seem to be wasted and aimless, of the purposes which come to nought, of the resolutions which are not fulfilled, of the slumber, the indifference, the sin, in which men throw away the life which God has given them; while here and there are a few whose lives are ‘saved’ and turned to glorious account, who seem to stand alone in the solitude of their holiness, and to have attained a stature which enables them to breathe a purer air. ‘Lord, are there few that be saved?’ Are we straitened in Thee, or are we straitened in ourselves? Is our Father’s love, indeed, restrained within such narrow limits? Are there indeed so few to whom it shall be given to have victory and to triumph over the world, the flesh, and the devil? Is it not written that the world has been redeemed?

In this way the meaning of our question deepens down according to the depth of character and the earnestness of purpose of him who asks it.

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Nisbet, James. "Commentary on Luke 13:23". Church Pulpit Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/cpc/luke-13.html. 1876.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

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

Ver. 23. Are there few, &c.] Few received Christ in the flesh, John 1:12 : he wondered at one good Nathanael. They are Methe mispar that look towards heaven. Apparent rari nantes in gurgite vasto. The most rest on that old popish rule, To follow the crowd.

Are there few?] A curious question, and therefore not vouchsafed an answer: whereas otherwhere, in things needful to be known, the Scripture often answers the questions and objections of men’s hearts only. "Jesus knowing their thoughts," &c.

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Trapp, John. "Commentary on Luke 13:23". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/luke-13.html. 1865-1868.

Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary

23.] On οἱ σωζόμενοι, see note, Acts 2:47. Here, the implication of final salvation is obvious.

αὐτούς, the multitude. Similar sayings have occurred in the Sermon on the Mount, but the connexion here is intimate and strict.

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Alford, Henry. "Commentary on Luke 13:23". Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hac/luke-13.html. 1863-1878.

Heinrich Meyer's Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament

Luke 13:23. This questioner was certainly a confessor of Jesus, Luke 13:24 ff. There is nothing besides this that we can define more precisely, except that the question itself might be called forth by the stringency of the claims of Jesus.

As to εἰ,(162) see on Matthew 12:10.

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Meyer, Heinrich. "Commentary on Luke 13:23". Heinrich Meyer's Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hmc/luke-13.html. 1832.

Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament

Luke 13:23. εἰ ὀλίγοι, whether few) The man seems to have thought that out of the pale of Judaism there would be no salvation.

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Bengel, Johann Albrecht. "Commentary on Luke 13:23". Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jab/luke-13.html. 1897.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

Ver. 23,24. Our Saviour hath told us, Matthew 7:14, that strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, that leadeth to eternal life, and few there be that find it. Upon this this exhortation is founded. ’ Agwnizesye, Contend, or strive, to enter in at this strait gate, a word which signifies a labouring against opposition, and the utmost endeavour of the mind and body: not that our own labouring will bring us thither, the eternal life is the gift of God, and without the influence of his grace we can do nothing effectually; but to let us know, that the Lord will give heaven to none but such as labour and strive for it, yea, and also strive lawfully: he tells us that many

will seek to enter, and shall not be able; either seeking in a wrong way, or in an undue time. By this speech of our Saviour’s he diverts them from that curious question, about the number of those that shall be saved. That was not so much their concern to know, as that they should be some of that number.

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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Luke 13:23". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mpc/luke-13.html. 1685.

Alexander MacLaren's Expositions of Holy Scripture

неужели мало спасающихся? Возможно, к этому вопросу побудили имеющиеся факты. Большие массы народа, некогда следовавшие за Христом, уменьшились до нескольких преданных человек (ср. Ин. 6:66). Великие толпы все еще приходили слушать (14:25), но все больше не хватало преданных последователей. Более того, часто обращения Христа, по-видимому, предназначались для того, чтобы воспрепятствовать нерешительным (см. пояснение к 14:33). И Сам Он заявил, что путь так узок, что немногие находят его (Мф. 7:14). Это противоречило иудейскому убеждению, что все иудеи, кроме мытарей и других, пользующихся дурной славой грешников, будут спасены. Ответ Христа снова подчеркивал, как трудно войти сквозь узкие врата. После Его Воскресения в Иерусалиме, в горнице, собралось только 120 учеников (Деян. 1:16) и всего лишь около 500 – в Галилее (1Кор. 15:6; см. пояснения к 24:34; Мф. 28:16).

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MacLaren, Alexander. "Commentary on Luke 13:23". Alexander MacLaren's Expositions of Holy Scripture. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mac/luke-13.html.

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

§ 89.ARE THERE FEW SAVED?HEROD’S MESSAGE TO JESUS, Luke 13:22-35.

23.Lord—The respectful address, and the confidence of the inquirer in our Lord’s ability to furnish an authoritative answer, show that he is a believer. The question was much debated by the Jewish doctors, some maintaining that all Israelites are saved by birthright, others asserting that the saved will be few; just as but two of the original Israelites arrived in Canaan. We may remark that there can be no reasonable doubt that the word saved in such discourses refers, contrary to most Universalist interpretations, to salvation from hell in a future world. Such was its meaning among the debaters of our Lord’s day.

 

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Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Luke 13:23". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/luke-13.html. 1874-1909.

Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible

‘And one said to him, “Lord, are the ones who are being saved few?”

This is the first outright use of the word ‘saved’ in the main body of Luke apart from in a context where it can have a double meaning (i.e. healed - Luke 7:50; Luke 8:36; Luke 8:48; Luke 8:50; Luke 17:19; Luke 18:42), although compare Luke 6:9; Luke 9:24; Luke 9:56 where ‘saving’ to eternal life is clearly in mind (see also Luke 8:12; Luke 17:33; Luke 18:26; Luke 19:10). It does, however, link back to Luke 1:77 where John was to bring ‘the knowledge of salvation’ to His people, to Luke 1:69 where the ‘horn of salvation’ was coming from the house of David, to Luke 2:11 in which was declared the coming of ‘a Saviour’ Who would be ‘the Lord Messiah’, and Luke 2:30 where Simeon declares, ‘My eyes have seen your Salvation’. Thus we have been expecting ‘salvation’ at some stage to come to the fore. Here it probably has the same meaning as inheriting eternal life with all that that involves of being transformed (compare Acts 2:47; 1 Corinthians 1:18; 2 Corinthians 2:15). Their eyes are firmly fixed on the coming of the heavenly Kingdom.

If we compare Isaiah 49:24-25 LXX with Luke 4:18 salvation is seen as the aim of the Servant for His own, and this ties in with the deliverance of the woman who was Satan’s captive (Luke 13:16). Compare also Isaiah 51:14; Isaiah 59:1; Isaiah 60:16 (LXX). Thus to be ‘being saved’ means to be in a position where they are being delivered spiritually from Satan’s power, and have been given eternal life, are experiencing His saving power in their lives, and are guaranteed the eternal hope of eternity in the presence of God.

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Pett, Peter. "Commentary on Luke 13:23". "Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible ". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/pet/luke-13.html. 2013.

Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable

Luke did not identify the questioner who could have been a disciple or a member of the ubiquitous crowd. The questioner evidently wanted to know if he or she was correct in concluding from Jesus" previous teaching (e.g, Mark 10:23-26) that only a few people would experience salvation. For the Jews, and probably for the questioner, salvation meant entering the kingdom as well as entering heaven. The identity of the people to whom Jesus responded is indefinite and unimportant.

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Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Luke 13:23". "Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/dcc/luke-13.html. 2012.

Schaff's Popular Commentary on the New Testament

Luke 13:23. And one said. This may have been a professed disciple, but scarcely an earnest follower, since the tone of our Lord’s reply forbids this. It is still more probable that he was a Jew in the multitude.

Lord are they few that be saved. Final salvation is implied. The form of the question implies doubt in the mind of the inquirer; but both question and answer indicate that he had little doubt of his own salvation. He seems to have known of the high requirements set forth by our Lord, and possibly put the question in view of the few who heeded them.

Unto them. The multitude; since the question was put in public, and the answer appropriate for all.

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Schaff, Philip. "Commentary on Luke 13:23". "Schaff's Popular Commentary on the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/scn/luke-13.html. 1879-90.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

Lord. App-98. A.

are there = if (App-118. a) there are.

be = are being.

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Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on Luke 13:23". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bul/luke-13.html. 1909-1922.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

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."

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Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Luke 13:23". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/luke-13.html. 1871-8.

The Bible Study New Testament

23. Sir, will just a few people be saved? This question is often asked. Jesus never answers it, but tells each one to make sure of his own salvation. [See the Redeemed in Eternity pictured in Revelation 7:9. ]

 

 

 

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Bibliographical Information
Ice, Rhoderick D. "Commentary on Luke 13:23". "The Bible Study New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ice/luke-13.html. College Press, Joplin, MO. 1974.

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

(23) Are there few that be saved?—More accurately, that are being saved, or, that are in the way of salvation. The Greek participle is present, not perfect, and this sense should be borne in mind both here and in 2 Corinthians 2:15—still more so, perhaps, in Acts 2:47, where the English version gives, with a singular infelicity, “such as should be saved.”

We are left to conjecture to what class the questioner belonged, and what feelings prompted the question. Was he thinking of salvation in the higher Christian sense of the term, or of safety from that destruction of which Christ had spoken as coming on the impenitent people? In the mind of the questioner the two things may have been blended together, but the answer clearly points to the former, and we have sufficient evidence that such questions were agitating men’s minds in the apocryphal Revelation known as the Second Book of Esdras. This book is probably (in part, at least, certainly, see 2 Esdras 8:28-29), post-Christian, and has been assigned to the time of Nero, or Domitian, or Trajan; but it reflects with a wonderful fulness the fevered, anxious thoughts that were working among both Jews and Gentiles, and among those none is so prominent as that “many are created, but few shall be saved” (2 Esdras 8:1; 2 Esdras 8:3; 2 Esdras 8:55). Among the strange cabbalistic fancies of the Rabbis, one was an attempt to fix the number of the saved by the numerical value of the letters of this or that text that prophesied of the Kingdom of Heaven. Assuming the question to be of this nature, its form indicates that it was a speculative inquiry. A man anxious and in earnest would have asked, “What must I do to be saved?” And, being a speculative question, our Lord put it aside, gave no direct answer, and sought to force the man back on the thought of what was needed that he himself might take his place in that company.

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These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on Luke 13:23". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ebc/luke-13.html. 1905.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

Then said one unto him, Lord, are there few that be saved? And he said unto them,
are
Matthew 7:14; 19:25; 20:16; 22:14
And
12:13-15; 21:7,8; Matthew 24:3-5; Mark 13:4,5; John 21:21,22; Acts 1:7,8
Reciprocal: 2 Kings 8:8 - inquire;  Proverbs 26:5 - a fool;  Ezekiel 5:3 - a few;  Mark 10:26 - Who;  Luke 18:26 - Who;  Philippians 2:12 - work

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These files are public domain.
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Bibliographical Information
Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on Luke 13:23". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/luke-13.html.

Calvin's Commentary on the Bible

Luke 13:23.And one saith to him Although Matthew relates this answer, as if it were immediately connected with other sentences taken out of our Lord’s sermons, yet I rather think that the occasion of its being spoken arose out of the present question. The reason why the question was put appears to have been, that Christ, who declared himself to be the author of life, could with difficulty collect a small number of disciples. It might appear, that a small band of men was to be saved, and that the whole church was going to ruin: for the whole of that nation, among whom the doctrine of Christ made no great progress, and by whom it was universally rejected, had been adopted by God as the heir of life. A similar doubt steals upon us, when we look at the melancholy condition of the world. “‘ The greater part of men pursue a life which is utterly at variance with the Gospel. What is the meaning of this?” For this reason Christ, directing his discourse to all, exhorted them to strive to enter by the narrow gate These words were intended to withdraw his people from a foolish curiosity, by which many are retarded and involved, when they look around to see if any companions are joining them, as if they were unwilling to be saved but in a crowd. When he bids them strive, or labor, he conveys the information, that it is impossible to obtain eternal life without great and appalling difficulties. Let believers, therefore, give their earnest attention to this object, instead of indulging in excessive curiosity about the vast number of those who are going astray.

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Calvin, John. "Commentary on Luke 13:23". "Calvin's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/cal/luke-13.html. 1840-57.