Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Luke 14:31

Or what king, when he sets out to meet another king in battle, will not first sit down and consider whether he is strong enough with ten thousand men to encounter the one coming against him with twenty thousand?
New American Standard Version

Bible Study Resources

Concordances:
Nave's Topical Bible - Jesus, the Christ;   Prudence;   Salvation;   Seekers;   Self-Denial;   War;   Thompson Chain Reference - War-Peace;   The Topic Concordance - Disciples/apostles;   Hate;   Torrey's Topical Textbook - Parables;   Prudence;   Self-Denial;   War;  
Dictionaries:
American Tract Society Bible Dictionary - Parable;   Bridgeway Bible Dictionary - Cross;   Disciple;   Teacher;   Baker Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology - Christ, Christology;   Disciple, Discipleship;   Jesus Christ;   War, Holy War;   Charles Buck Theological Dictionary - Hospitality;   Holman Bible Dictionary - Family;   Luke, Gospel of;   Parables;   Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - Matthew, Gospel According to;   Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament - Adversary (2);   Ambassage;   Ambition;   Armour;   Consciousness;   Discipleship;   Discourse;   Fellowship (2);   Forsaking All;   Humour;   Ideas (Leading);   Numbers (2);   Organization (2);   Palestine;   Paradox;   Power;   Prudence;   Reality;   Wandering Stars;   War ;   Morrish Bible Dictionary - Disciple,;   People's Dictionary of the Bible - Chief parables and miracles in the bible;  
Encyclopedias:
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Consult;   Jesus Christ (Part 2 of 2);   Make;   War;  

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

With ten thousand to meet … - Whether he will be able, with the forces which he “has,” to meet his enemy. Christ here perhaps intends to denote that the enemies which we have to encounter in following him are many and strong, and that “our” strength is comparatively feeble. “To meet him.” To contend with him. To gain a victory over him.

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Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Luke 14:31". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/luke-14.html. 1870.

Coffman Commentaries on the Bible

Or what king, as he goeth to encounter another king in war, will not sit down first and take counsel whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him that cometh against him with twenty thousand? Or else, while the other is yet a great way off, he sendeth an ambassage, and asketh conditions of peace.

The meaning of these two parables is similar; but the unusual nature of the illustration here suggests the possibility that there might have been a historical basis of it. Spence pointed out that Herod had divorced his first wife, the daughter of a powerful Arabian prince, in order to marry Herodias, which precipitated a war between them. "The results were disastrous to Herod."[40]

A significant difference appears in the fact that the first of these two parables regards building, and this regards fighting, the same being two phases of the Christian life. The great London preacher, Spurgeon, made these the sum and all of true faith. He named his newspaper, "Sword and Trowel." And, while it is true that there is much fighting in the Christian life (1 Timothy 6:12), such is not in view in this parable. Hence, the situation demands that an ambassage be sent and peace negotiated, and with whom? Certainly not with Satan? The Mighty One with whom the soul must be careful to make peace while there is time, is God. Therefore, the second of the twin parables strongly suggests that while counting the cost of following Jesus Christ, the soul would do well also to count the cost of becoming Christ's enemy! And what an overwhelming cost that is!

Let the man who will not follow Jesus consider that his refusal is a denial of the only hope of redemption. Let it be considered that all of the sobbing tides of human mortality converge in the abyss of the grave, that all of the strength, beauty, and glory of life are only for a moment, that only Christ has provided the remedy for sin, stabbed the gloom of death with eternal' light, planted the lilies of the resurrection upon the tomb, and arched every cemetery on earth with a rainbow of promise.

The parable had an application to Israel. Just as Herod was shamefully beaten by Aretus, Israel stood to be destroyed by Rome, unless they accepted the Saviour; they would have done well, therefore, to have made peace with Christ; but there is also application to every man: with his mortal resources as his only strength, does man really wish to be the enemy of God?

ENDNOTE:

[40] H. D. M. Spence, op. cit., p. 28.

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Coffman Commentaries reproduced by permission of Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. All other rights reserved.
Bibliographical Information
Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on Luke 14:31". "Coffman Commentaries on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bcc/luke-14.html. Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

Or what king going to make war against another king,.... Our Lord illustrates the same thing, the business of a profession, by another similitude, or parable; taking up a profession of religion, is like to two kings engaging in a war. The king on the one side, is the Christian professor; true believers are kings, they have the apparel of kings, the royal robe of Christ's righteousness; they live like kings, at the table of the King of kings; have the attendance of kings, angels ministering unto them; have crowns and thrones as kings have, and greater than theirs; and have a kingdom of grace now, and are heirs of the kingdom of glory. The king on the other side, is the devil; who is the king and prince of the rest of the devils, and over the men of the world; a kingdom is ascribed to him, which is a kingdom of darkness; and he is said to be a great king, and is represented as proud, cruel, and tyrannical: now the Christian professor's life is a warfare; he is engaged with many enemies; the corruptions of his own heart within, and the world without; and especially Satan, who is to be resisted, and by no means to be yielded to, though there is a great inequality between them: and therefore what man that engages in such a warfare,

sitteth not down first, and consulteth whether he be able with ten thousand, to meet him that cometh against him with twenty thousand? and such a difference there is between the Christian professor and the devil; the one is flesh and blood, the other a spirit; the one is raw and undisciplined, the other a veteran soldier; the one a stripling, and the other the strong man armed: their numbers are unequal; the people of Christ are few, and their force and strength in themselves small; and they have a large number of devils, and of the men of the world, and of the lusts of their own hearts, to grapple with; wherefore it is necessary to sit down and consult, not with flesh and blood, but with other Christians; and chiefly, and above all, with God himself; what will be the charges of this warfare; the hardships to be endured; in whose name and strength they are to engage; what weapons to take, and how to use them; and how to get knowledge of the designs, methods, and strength of the enemy, and take every advantage of him.

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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 14:31". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/luke-14.html. 1999.

Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament

To encounter (συνβαλεινsunbalein). Second aorist active infinitive of συνβαλλωsunballō old and common verb, to throw or bring together, to dispute, to clash in war as here.

Another king (ετερωι βασιλειheterōi basilei), to grapple with another king in war or for war (εις πολεμονeis polemon). Associative instrumental case.

Take counsel (βουλευσεταιbouleusetai). Future middle indicative of old and common verb βουλευωbouleuō from βουληboulē will, counsel. The middle means to take counsel with oneself, to deliberate, to ponder.

With ten thousand (εν δεκα χιλιασινen deka chiliasin). Literally, in ten thousand. See this so-called instrumental use of ενen in Judges 1:14. Equipped in or with ten thousand. See note on Luke 1:17. Note μετα εικοσι χιλιαδωνmeta eikosi chiliadōn just below (midst of twenty thousand).

To meet (υπαντησαιhupantēsai). Common verb (like απανταωapantaō) from ανταωantaō (ανταanta end, face to face, from which αντιanti) with preposition υποhupo (or αποapo), to go to meet. Here it has a military meaning.

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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)
Bibliographical Information
Robertson, A.T. "Commentary on Luke 14:31". "Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/rwp/luke-14.html. Broadman Press 1932,33. Renewal 1960.

Vincent's Word Studies

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.

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Vincent, Marvin R. DD. "Commentary on Luke 14:31". "Vincent's Word Studies in the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/vnt/luke-14.html. Charles Schribner's Sons. New York, USA. 1887.

Wesley's Explanatory Notes

Or what king, going to make war against another king, sitteth not down first, and consulteth whether he be able with ten thousand to meet him that cometh against him with twenty thousand?

Another king — Does this mean, the prince of this world? Certainly he has greater numbers on his side. How numerous are his children and servants!

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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.
Bibliographical Information
Wesley, John. "Commentary on Luke 14:31". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/wen/luke-14.html. 1765.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

30 Saying, This man began to build, and was not able to finish.

31 Or what king, going to make war against another king, sitteth not down first, and consulteth whether he be able with ten thousand to meet him that cometh against him with twenty thousand?

Ver. 31. Sitteth not down first] To consult, and so with good advice to make war. Romani sedendo vincunt, The Romans conquer by sitting, saith Varro. Thou shalt help us out of the city, 2 Samuel 18:3.

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Trapp, John. "Commentary on Luke 14:31". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/luke-14.html. 1865-1868.

Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary

31.] εἰς πόλ. belongs to συμβ., not to πορευόμ. συμβαλεῖν πρὸς μάχην occurs Polyb. x. 37. 4 (the instance from Xen. Cyrop. vii. 1. 20, cited by Meyer, does not apply, being συμβ. πρὸς τὸ μαχόμενον).

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Alford, Henry. "Commentary on Luke 14:31". Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hac/luke-14.html. 1863-1878.

Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament

Luke 14:31. , or) Christianity is a great and difficult thing. It is therefore compared with great and difficult things: such as is the undertaking of a costly building in one’s private concerns, of a war, in the case of public concerns. The former parable expresses the ‘hatred’ of “father, mother,” etc.: the second parable expresses hatred of one’s “own life.”— βασιλεὺς, king) The Christian warfare has something royal and kingly in it.— εἰς πόλεμον, to engage in war). Comp. Genesis 32:24.

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Bengel, Johann Albrecht. "Commentary on Luke 14:31". Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jab/luke-14.html. 1897.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

See Poole on "Luke 14:28"

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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Luke 14:31". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mpc/luke-14.html. 1685.

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

31.What king—In this little parable the soul of the would-be disciple is the king; the adversary to his salvation, whether the devil or all opposing evil, is the

another king. Whether he be able—Just as the sinner must examine himself and be sure that he is ready to give up all for Christ.

With ten thousand to meet him—Let the sinner examine and see whether with the moral force within him he has ability (obtainable from above) to fight the battle of salvation. Let him be sure that he has the right and sufficient strength; otherwise he may find it necessary to capitulate to the devil.

 

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Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Luke 14:31". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/luke-14.html. 1874-1909.

Schaff's Popular Commentary on the New Testament

Luke 14:31. Or what king. The former illustration gives prominence to the folly, this to the danger, of following Christ, without due consideration of the requirements of discipleship (self-renunciation). Going to battle against overwhelming odds is dangerous folly. The king with ten thousand represents the man who would become a disciple, and the original indicates that this is all the force he can muster.—The other king, with twenty thousand, represents God. For the natural man is at variance with God, and when one would become a Christian the first feeling is that God with His holy law is coming against him. The original indicates that the forces of this king are simply those he chooses to employ, not all he has. Success is hopeless, if we strive with Him. Here the inadequacy of our resources comes out.

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Schaff, Philip. "Commentary on Luke 14:31". "Schaff's Popular Commentary on the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/scn/luke-14.html. 1879-90.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

to make war = to encounter for (Greek. eis. App-104.) war.

with = in [the midst of]. Greek en. App-104.

to meet. Greek. apantao, as in Matthew 28:9.

against. Greek. epi. App-104.

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Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on Luke 14:31". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bul/luke-14.html. 1909-1922.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

Or what king, going to make war against another king, sitteth not down first, and consulteth whether he be able with ten thousand to meet him that cometh against him with twenty thousand?

Or what king, going to make war against another king, sitteth not down first, and consulteth whether he be able with ten thousand to meet him that cometh against him with twenty thousand? No wise potentate will enter on a war with any hostile power without first seeing to it that, despite formidable odds-of "twenty" to "ten thousand," or two to one-he be able to stand his ground.

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Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Luke 14:31". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/luke-14.html. 1871-8.

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

(31) What king, going to make war against another king . .?—Here also there may have been a side-glance at contemporary history. The Tetrarch’s divorce of his first wife had involved him in a war with her father Aretas, an Arabian king or ethnarch (see Note on Luke 3:14), in which his army was destroyed, and the Jewish historian sees in this the commencement of all his subsequent misfortunes (Jos. Ant. v., 18:5, § 1).

In the spiritual interpretation of the two parables, the tower reminds us of the house in Matthew 7:24-27, and so stands for the structure of a holy life reared on the one Foundation; the warfare brings to our remembrance the conflict described in Matthew 12:29. Here it stands partly for the conflict which every Christian carries on against sin, the world, and the devil, and of which we should take a clear estimate before we enter on it, partly for the greater war on which Christ Himself had entered, and of which He too had counted the cost— that being, in His case, nothing less than the sacrifice of His own life.

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Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on Luke 14:31". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ebc/luke-14.html. 1905.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

Or what king, going to make war against another king, sitteth not down first, and consulteth whether he be able with ten thousand to meet him that cometh against him with twenty thousand?
1 Kings 20:11; 2 Kings 18:20-22; Proverbs 20:18; 25:8
Reciprocal: Genesis 32:3 - sent;  Judges 18:2 - to spy;  Judges 20:3 - the children of Benjamin;  2 Samuel 2:27 - unless;  2 Kings 10:4 - how then shall;  2 Kings 14:10 - why shouldest;  1 Chronicles 5:22 - the war was of God;  2 Chronicles 25:19 - why shouldest;  Job 41:8 - GeneralProverbs 24:6 - by;  Amos 4:12 - prepare;  Matthew 5:25 - with;  Luke 12:58 - give;  Acts 12:20 - but

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Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on Luke 14:31". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/luke-14.html.