Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Luke 17:7

"Which of you, having a slave plowing or tending sheep, will say to him when he has come in from the field, ‘Come immediately and sit down to eat'?
New American Standard Version

Bible Study Resources

Concordances:
Nave's Topical Bible - Jesus, the Christ;   Servant;   Works;   Thompson Chain Reference - Agriculture;   Agriculture-Horticulture;   Parables;   Plowing;   Truth;   Torrey's Topical Textbook - Agriculture or Husbandry;   Ploughing;  
Dictionaries:
Baker Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology - Gospel;   Hell;   Reward;   Slave, Slavery;   CARM Theological Dictionary - Eschatology;   Tribulation, the;   Holman Bible Dictionary - Cattle;   Luke, Gospel of;   Parables;   Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - Matthew, Gospel According to;   Meals;   Slave, Slavery;   Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament - Animals;   Circumstantiality in the Parables;   Discourse;   Husbandman ;   Meals;   Plough ;   Retribution (2);   Righteous, Righteousness;   Sheep, Shepherd;   Social Life;   Supper ;   Morrish Bible Dictionary - By-And-By;   28 To Feed, Shepherd;   People's Dictionary of the Bible - Chief parables and miracles in the bible;  
Encyclopedias:
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - By and by;   Dinner;   Go;   Grace;   Meals;   Plow;   Servant;   Triclinium;  
Devotionals:
Chip Shots from the Ruff of Life - Devotion for October 5;  

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

Having a servant … - This parable appears to have been spoken with reference to the rewards which the disciples were expecting in the kingdom of the Messiah. The occasion on which it was spoken cannot be ascertained. It does not seem to have any particular connection with what goes before. It may be supposed that the disciples were somewhat impatient to have the kingdom restored to Israel Acts 1:6 - that is, that he would assume his kingly power, and that they were impatient of the “delay,” and anxious to enter on “the rewards” which they expected, and which they not improbably were expecting in consequence of their devotedness to him. In answer to these expectations, Jesus spoke this parable, showing them,

1.That they should be rewarded as a servant would be provided for; but,

2.That this was not the “first” thing; that there was a proper “order” of things, and that thus the reward might be delayed, as a servant would be provided for, but at the proper time, and at the pleasure of the master; and,

3.That this reward was not to be expected as a matter of “merit,” but would be given at the good pleasure of God, for they were but unprofitable servants.

By and by - This should have been translated “immediately.” He would not, “as the first thing,” or “as soon” as he returned from the field, direct him to eat and drink. Hungry and weary he might be, yet it would be proper for him first to attend upon his master. So the apostles were not to be “impatient” because they did not “at once” receive the reward for which they were looking.

To meat - To eat; or, rather, place thyself at the table.

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Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Luke 17:7". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/luke-17.html. 1870.

Coffman Commentaries on the Bible

But who is there of you, having a servant plowing or keeping sheep, that will say unto him, when he is come in from the field, Come straightway and sit down to meat; 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? Doth he thank the servant because he did the things that were commanded? Even so ye also, when ye shall have done all the things that are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants; we have done that which it was our duty to do.

This remarkable parable is clearly a lesson designed to teach humility, obedience, and a sense of lacking any merit in the sight of God. The apparent connection in context is this: the apostles contemplating the marvelous spiritual attainments indicated by Jesus' promise that they had the faith to move trees into the sea would naturally be tempted to pride and vainglory by such envisioned achievements. This parable was to show that no man can merit salvation.

This parable is hailed by Trench as one of "great difficulty";[11] especially because it presents the relationship of Jesus and his followers in a much sterner aspect than in most of his teachings. Did the Lord not say, "I have called you friends," and that "no longer do I call you servants"? (John 15:15). While this is true, Paul did not hesitate to call himself the "bondservant" of Jesus (Romans 1:1); and this sterner aspect of the Christian's relationship to the Lord needed stress then, and it needs it now. For example, the glaring misuse of this parable surfaces in a comment like this: "Men who only carry out God's commands have no claim on any reward!"[12] Jesus said, "If thou wouldest enter into life, keep the commandments" (Matthew 19:17); and there is absolutely nothing in this parable to indicate that the obedient servant was denied his true reward. As a matter of fact, there was never a servant on earth who did "all that was commanded," as did this one; and therefore he should be called the "hypothetical servant," for that is exactly what he is, as indicated by the supposition (for the sake of the hypothesis) that the twelve apostles would have been bondservants (Luke 17:7)! It is the failure to discern this key fact that has confused the exegetes.

Some have tried to get around the difficulty Trench mentioned by supposing that this is a parable of the religious establishment, so clearly discernible in practically all of the parables in this section. Both Grotius and Venema were cited by Trench as alleging the parable as a representation of the scribes, Pharisees, etc.;[13] but that is absolutely impossible. To view them as having "done all that was commanded, contradicts everything Jesus said about that class of leaders. But is it not true also that no Christian who ever lived did "all that was commanded"? Indeed it is. The message of this hypothetical servant is, therefore, that even if any person whosoever, Jew or Gentile, should actually do "all that was commanded" (repeated twice in the parable), he would not by such obedience place Almighty God in a position of being debtor to him. Salvation is by grace. No man ever did, or ever could, merit God's redeeming love; but, make no mistake about it, this is no promise that God will overlook the principle of obedience in them that hope to be saved. If one performing all that God commanded, if such a thing were possible, is saved by grace, as appears here, how utterly beyond redemption is that man who fancies that there is no requirement for him to obey? Ash summarized the teaching here thus:

Man can never repay God's natural blessings, much less those bestowed by grace. The claim of love can never be fully discharged. Man cannot earn heaven.[14]

Russell, in his summary, expressed it thus: "This rebukes the self-satisfied Christian who thinks that in obeying God he has done something especially meritorious."[15]

THE HEALING OF THE TEN LEPERS

Interpreter's Bible denies this miracle as having happened, stating that "It is probably a variant of Luke 5:12f ... (Luke) has increased the numbers of lepers from one to ten!"[16] There is no way to justify such a comment; and there is no way to justify churches in purchasing such comments and making them available as "authentic Christian literature" in their libraries.

[11] Richard C. Trench, Notes on the Parables of Our Lord (Old Tappan, New Jersey: Fleming H. Revell Company, 1953), p. 476.

[12] S. MacLean Gilmour, The Interpreter's Bible (New York: Abingdon Press, 1952), Vol. VII, Luke, p. 297.

[13] Richard C. Trench, op. cit., p. 478.

[14] Anthony Lee Ash, The Gospel according to Luke (Austin: Sweet Publishing Company, 1972), p. 78.

[15] William J. Russell, op. cit., p. 182.

[16] S. MacLean Gilmour, op. cit., p. 297.

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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 17:7". "Coffman Commentaries on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bcc/luke-17.html. Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

But which of you having a servant ploughing,.... In order to keep the disciples humble in the performance of such miraculous works; and that they might not imagine they could have any thing at the hands of God by merit; and to excite them to go on from one duty to another; and never think they have done, or done enough, or more than what is their duty, Christ delivers the following parable.

Which of you having a servant ploughing, or feeding cattle; or "sheep", as the Syriac and Persic versions render it; or a "ploughman", or a "shepherd", as the Ethiopic version; which are both servile works, and done in the field: not that the disciples had any such servants under them, though the words are directed to them, for they had left all, and followed Christ; nor were they brought up to husbandry, but most of them in the fishing trade; Christ only puts this for instance, and supposes such a case:

will say unto him by and by; or straightway, immediately, directly,

when he is come from the field; and has done ploughing, and feeding his cattle, sheep, or cows, or whatever they are; as soon as ever he comes home; or "first", as the Persic version; the first thing he shall say to him, upon his return from thence,

go; to the other side of the room, and to the table there ready spread, and furnished; or "go up", as the Arabic and Ethiopic versions render it; go up to the upper room where they used to dine or sup; see Luke 22:12 or "come in", as the Persic version renders it; and which some learned men observe, is the sense of the Greek word here used; come into the house,

and sit down to meat? or fall, and lie down on the couch, as was the custom in those countries at eating.

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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
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Gill, John. "Commentary on Luke 17:7". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/luke-17.html. 1999.

Geneva Study Bible

4 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?

(4) Seeing that God may rightfully claim for himself both us and all that is ours, he cannot be indebted to us for anything, although we labour mightily until we die.
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Beza, Theodore. "Commentary on Luke 17:7". "The 1599 Geneva Study Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/gsb/luke-17.html. 1599-1645.

John Lightfoot's Commentary on the Gospels

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?

[Will say unto him by and by, Go and sit down to meat?] Some there were of old that were wont to do thus. "The wise men of old were used to give their servant something of every thing that they ate themselves." This was indeed kindly done, and but what they ought; but then it follows, they made their beasts and their servants take their meals before themselves. This was supererogation.

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Lightfoot, John. "Commentary on Luke 17:7". "John Lightfoot Commentary on the Gospels". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jlc/luke-17.html. 1675.

Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament

Sit down to meat (αναπεσεanapese). Recline (for the meal). Literally, fall up (or back).

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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 17:7". "Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/rwp/luke-17.html. Broadman Press 1932,33. Renewal 1960.

Wesley's Explanatory Notes

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 — But is it not meet that you should first obey, and then triumph? Though still with a deep sense of your utter unprofitableness.

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Wesley, John. "Commentary on Luke 17:7". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/wen/luke-17.html. 1765.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

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?

Ver. 7. But which of you, &c.] Whereas the disciples, having begged increase of faith, might presume to obtain it as having deserved it; Christ shows here that God is debtor to none; and that they must do their utmost in duty, and expect God’s leisure and pleasure for the reward. It is a mercy in God (so David accounteth it) "to render to a man according to his works," Psalms 62:12.

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Trapp, John. "Commentary on Luke 17:7". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/luke-17.html. 1865-1868.

Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible

Luke 17:7. Go, and sit down Come in, and sit down. See Raphelius, and ch. Luke 12:37. Our Lord here returns to his subject, telling the apostles, that after they had done their utmost to discharge the whole duty incumbent on them, as God's servants sent forth to seek and save lost souls, they were not to imagine that they merited any thing thereby: and to make them sensible of the justness of his doctrine, he bade them consider in what manner they received the services of their own dependants. They reckoned themselves under no obligation to a servant, for doing the duty which his station bound him to perform. In like manner he, their Master, did not reckon himself indebted to them for their services; and therefore, instead of valuing themselves upon what they had done, it became them, after having performed all that was commanded them, to acknowledge that they had done nothing but their duty, Luke 17:10. Our Lord in this manner concluded his discourse concerning thetrue use of riches, and the right manner of discharging their duty as God's servants, sent forth to seek and save lost sinners, knowing the frame of mind which his disciples were in. He saw their faith begin to stagger, because the expected rewards were deferred, and little encouragement was given them to think that they would ever be bestowed. Perhaps, likewise, he knew that they were at that time in some degree infected with the leaven of the Pharisees, who, having a high opinion of their own righteousness, zealously maintained the doctrine of the merit of good works, together with a possibility of a man's performingmore than was commanded him; that is, the possibility of performing works of supererogation. Or, though the disciples were free from these errors, Jesus, on this occasion, might think it fit to condemn them, because he foresaw that in his own church they would creep in, spread widely, and be productive of the most baneful consequences. See on Luke 17:10.

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Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Luke 17:7". Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tcc/luke-17.html. 1801-1803.

Expository Notes with Practical Observations on the New Testament

The design and scope of this parable is to show, that Almighty God neither is nor can be a debtor to any of his creatures for the best service which they were able to perform unto him; and that they are so far from meriting a reward of justice, that they do not deserve a return of thanks.

Three arguments our Saviour makes use of to evidence and prove this:

1. In respect to God, who is our absolute Lord and Master; and the argument lies thus, "If earthly masters do not owe so much as thanks to their servants for doing that which is commanded them, how much less can God owe the reward of eternal life to his servants, when they are never able to do all that is commanded them, in a perfect and sinless manner?"

2. In respect to ourselves, who are his bond-servants, his ransomed slaves, and consequently we are not our own men, but his who hath redeemed us: and accordingly do owe him all that service, yea, more than all that we are able to perform unto him: and therefore whatever reward is either promised or given, it is wholly to be ascribed to the Master's bounty, and not to the servants' merit.

3. To merit any thing by our good works is impossible, in regard of the works themselves, because all that we can do, although we did do all that is commanded us, is but our duty. The argument runs thus: "To bounden duty belongs no reward of justice; but all the service we do perform, yea, more than we can perform to God, is bounden duty; therefore there is due unto us no reward of justice but of free mercy."

From the whole note,

1. That we are wholly the Lord's, both by a right of creation and redemption also.

2. That as his we are, so him we ought to serve, by doing all those things which he hath commanded us.

3. That when we have done all, we are to look for our reward, not of debt, but of grace.

4. That were our service and obedience absolutely perfect, yet it could not merit any thing at the hand of justice: When you have done all, say... etc.

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Burkitt, William. "Commentary on Luke 17:7". Expository Notes with Practical Observations on the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/wbc/luke-17.html. 1700-1703.

Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary

7.] εὐθέως in the E. V. is wrongly joined with ἐρεῖ: it corresponds to μετὰ ταῦτα in Luke 17:8. ‘Construendum; cito accumbe: cito cupiunt accumbere qui missis cæteris officiis fidem sibi summam conferri oportere putant.’ Bengel.

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Alford, Henry. "Commentary on Luke 17:7". Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hac/luke-17.html. 1863-1878.

Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament

Luke 17:7. τἱς, who) viz. is there?δὲ, but) There is apprehended by faith the Divine omnipotence, Luke 17:6, but what is still more blessed, the Divine compassion and grace, and that pure unmixed grace; Luke 17:7, et seqq.; comp. ch. Luke 10:20. [The fact of the disciples’ “names being written heaven,” is to their faith a greater cause for joy than “the spirits being subject” to them].— ἐξ ὑμῶν) of you, men, or disciples. Bartholomew is said to have been a nobleman.— δοῦλον, a servant) Christ, whilst He increases their faith, seems to lessen (disparage or impair) it [by putting them on the footing of a servant or slave]. The groundwork that lies underneath great faith and prayer is lowly poverty of spirit, and a profound sense of our ἀχρειότης, unprofitableness, and of the debt of duty we owe Him. Psalms 147:11; Psalms 123:2, [“Behold as the eyes of servants look unto the hands of their masters, etc., so our eyes wait upon the Lord our God, until He have mercy upon us.”]— ἀροτριῶντα, plowing) during the whole day: whence there follows, δειπνήσω, “wherewith I may have supper” [the meal at the close of the day].— εὐθέως, forthwith, quickly) In antithesis to μετὰ ταῦτα, afterwards, in Luke 17:8. Therefore we should construe εὐθέως with ἀνάπεσε, forthwith sit down to meat. Others [as the Engl. Ver., “will say unto him by and by,”] join εὐθέως with ἐρεῖ, will forthwith say, which gives a rather ax sense. For whether the master says this or that to the servant, he says it ‘forthwith,’ as soon as ever the servant hath come in from the field. But those persons wish forthwith or quickly to sit down to meat, who after they have laid aside all their other duties, fancy that the highest degree of faith should be ascribed to them, [“Qui missis cæteris officiis fidem sibi summam conferri oportere putant.”] Whereas they please God, who walk modestly, and demand nothing in a spirit of arrogance.— παρελθὼν, go forward and) See note, ch. Luke 12:37ἀνάπεσε) Others read ἀνάπεσαι. But both Aorists of this are of frequent occurrence in the Active, not in the middle.(181)

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Bengel, Johann Albrecht. "Commentary on Luke 17:7". Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jab/luke-17.html. 1897.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

Ver. 7-10 Lu 17:7-9 are plainly a parable, a part of a discourse wherein our Lord, under an earthly similitude, instructs us in a spiritual duty. This duty is easily learned from the epiparabole, Luke 17:10, and it lieth in two things:

1. That we ought to do all those things which our Lord hath commanded us.

2. That we, when we have done all, are to look for our reward, not of debt, but of grace.

He illustrates this by a similitude or parable. He supposes a man to have a servant ploughing or feeding cattle for him. By servants we must understand such servants as they had in those countries, who were not day servants, or covenant servants, who are only obliged to work their hours, or according to their contracts with us; but such servants as were most usual amongst them, who were bought with their money, or taken in war, who were wholly at their master’s command, and all their time was their master’s, and they were obliged by their labour only to serve him: such servants our Lord supposes to have been abroad in the field, ploughing, or sowing, or feeding cattle, and at night to be come in from their labour. He asks them which of them would think themselves obliged presently to set them to supper, (for meat, drink, and clothes were all such servants wages), or would not rather set them to work again, to make ready their master’s supper, and then to wait upon him, tying up their long garments, which they used in those countries to wear, promising them that afterwards also they should eat and drink. And suppose they do that without murmuring, he asketh them again, whether they would take themselves obliged to thank them for doing the things which their master commanded? He tells them he supposes they would not take themselves to be under any such obligation. Now what is the meaning of all this he tells them, Luke 17:10,

So likewise ye, when ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants; for the infinitely glorious and blessed God can receive no benefit by our services; we have done that which was our duty to do. By which we are instructed,

1. That we are wholly the Lord’s, all our time, strength, abilities; we are obliged to love the Lord with all our heart, and mind, and soul, and strength.

2. That our labour for the Lord must not cease till the Lord ceaseth commanding, till we have done all that the Lord by his revealed will lets us know we have to do.

3. That when we have done all we shall have merited nothing at God’s hands;

a) Because we are servants.

b) Because we have but done our duty.

4. That the Lord may delay our reward till we have done all that he hath commanded us.

5. That when we have it, it is not a reward of thanks, but of grace.

This parable is excellently added to the former discourses. Our Saviour had before pressed the doctrine of charity, he had also showed what must be the root of it, viz. true and lively faith; he here showeth us what we should propose to ourselves as our end in such acts, viz. not to merit at the hand of God, not merely in hope to receive a reward from him, but the glorifying of God by a faithful obedience to his will, owning him as our Lord, and ourselves as his servants, without any vain glory or ostentation, and in all humility confessing ourselves servants, unprofitable servants, and such as have but done our duty, no, though we had done all that he commanded us; waiting for our reward with patience, and taking it at last as of his free grace with thankfulness; which is indeed requisite to the true and regular performance of every good work which we do, and our duty, if the infirmity of our flesh would allow us to do all whatsoever God hath commanded us; but much more when our performances are so lame and imperfect, that the greatest part of what we do amounts not to the least part of what we leave undone.

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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Luke 17:7". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mpc/luke-17.html. 1685.

Alexander MacLaren's Expositions of Holy Scripture

(17:7-10) Суть этой притчи в том, что раб вообще не должен ожидать особой награды, когда он сделал то, что входит в его обязанности. Возможно, требуемые стандарты, установленные Христом (ст. 1-4), показались ученикам слишком высокими, но они представляли лишь минимальные обязанности слуги Христова. Повинующиеся не должны думать, что их повиновение заслуживает награды.

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MacLaren, Alexander. "Commentary on Luke 17:7". Alexander MacLaren's Expositions of Holy Scripture. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mac/luke-17.html.

Justin Edwards' Family Bible New Testament

By and by; rather, immediately. The meaning is, he will not at once direct him to take his meal, but will have him wait till he has first served his master.

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Edwards, Justin. "Commentary on Luke 17:7". "Family Bible New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/fam/luke-17.html. American Tract Society. 1851.

Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible

“But who is there of you, having a servant ploughing or keeping sheep, who will say to him, when he is come in from the field, ‘Come straightway and sit down to meat’,”

Jesus is well aware, however, that power as well as wealth can corrupt people and prevent them from keeping their minds on things above, and He therefore introduces a parabolic saying in order to counteract this, a saying which reminds them that what they will accomplish will be accomplished because they are men under orders, they are servants who are only doing their duty. What will be accomplished will all be of God.

Note the contrast between the servant here and the ones in Luke 12:37. There the master will serve them, but here the servant is kept firmly in his place. They teach two different lessons. What master, asks Jesus, who has a servant who is ploughing or keeping sheep (both of which have been said to be occupations of those who are establishing the Kingly Rule of God - Luke 9:62; Luke 15:3) will invite his servant on returning to the house to immediately sit down and eat with him? They must therefore beware of putting themselves on a par with God and with Jesus.

This was another danger of Pharisaic teaching, for they often gave the impression that they considered that they had put God under an obligation (modern Christians can do the same). Thus there own teachers had to warn them, ‘do not be like slaves who minister to the master for the sake of receiving a bounty’, and ‘if you have wrought much in the Law do not claim merit for yourself, for this is the end to which you were created’.

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Pett, Peter. "Commentary on Luke 17:7". "Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible ". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/pet/luke-17.html. 2013.

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

7.Having a servant—However high the prerogatives of apostolic faith, and however great the services the apostle may thereby render to the cause of Christ, let him beware of apostolic pride, as if he had laid Christ under obligations, or had won a title to a reward; far less can he have any merit to spare from which others can obtain favor and salvation from God.

Ploughing or feeding cattle—Whether or not any of the apostles were farmers is very doubtful. This does not necessarily imply it, as the words are simply addressed to them as men generally.

By and by—The phrase by and by in older English signifies immediately. It ought to have been so translated as to qualify the verb go:

Go immediately and sit down to meatimmediately instead of afterward, in Luke 17:8.

 

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Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Luke 17:7". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/luke-17.html. 1874-1909.

Schaff's Popular Commentary on the New Testament

Luke 17:7. But who is there of you. The connection is: beware of thinking that you have any merit in the great results accomplished by faith. The thought of their enduring in faith so long as the day of their labor lasted, is also included. By such views of their unprofitableness and of the need of patient endurance their faith would be increased.

A servant. A bond-servant, entirely dependent on his master’s will.

Ploughing or keeping sheep. There may be an allusion to the two kinds of apostolic duty: breaking up the fallow ground and feeding the Lord’s people; but the main thought is that the servant is doing what his master has ordered him to do.

Come straightway (the E. V. misplaces this word, rendering it ‘by and by’): this is contrasted with ‘afterward’ (Luke 17:8).

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Schaff, Philip. "Commentary on Luke 17:7". "Schaff's Popular Commentary on the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/scn/luke-17.html. 1879-90.

The Expositor's Greek Testament

Luke 17:7. : to be connected not with but with . = he does not say: Go at once and get your supper.

 

 

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Nicol, W. Robertson, M.A., L.L.D. "Commentary on Luke 17:7". The Expositor's Greek Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/egt/luke-17.html. 1897-1910.

George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

design and end of this parable is to shew that, rigorously speaking, we are useless servants with regard to God. This sovereign Master has a right to exact of us every kind of service, and to make us apply ourselves to any task he might think proper, without our having any reason to complain either of the difficulty, trouble, or length of our labours; we are entirely his, and he is master of our persons, time, and talents. We hold of him whatever we possess, and woe to us if we abuse his trust, by applying our talents to any use contrary to his designs. But though he be Lord and Master, he leaves our liberty entire. If he produces in us holy desires, if he works in us meritorious actions, gives us virtuous inclinations and supernatural gifts, he sets to our account the good use we make of them; and in crowning our merits, he crowns his own gifts. (St. Augustine, lib. ix. Confes. and Serm. 131.) (Calmet)

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Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on Luke 17:7". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hcc/luke-17.html. 1859.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

of = from among. Greek ek. App-104. As in Luke 17:15, but not the same as in verses: Luke 17:20-25.

servant = bondman.

feeding cattle = shepherding.

by and by . . . Go = Come at once.

from = out of. Greek. ek. App-104.

sit down to meat = recline at table.

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Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on Luke 17:7". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bul/luke-17.html. 1909-1922.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

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.'

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Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Luke 17:7". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/luke-17.html. 1871-8.

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

(7) But which of you, having a servant . .?—The words contain in reality, though not in form, an answer to their question. They had been asking for faith, not only in a measure sufficient for obedience, but as excluding all uncertainty and doubt. They were looking for the crown of labour before their work was done, for the wreath of the conqueror before they had fought the battle. He presses home upon them the analogies of common human experience. The slave who had been “ploughing” or “feeding sheep” (the word is that always used of the shepherd’s work, as in John 21:16, Acts 20:28, 1 Peter 5:2, and so both the participles are suggestive of latent parables of the spiritual work of the Apostles) is not all at once invited to sit down at the feast. He has first to minister to his master’s wants, to see that his soul is satisfied, and then, in due course, his own turn will come. So, in the life of the disciples, outward ministerial labour was to be followed by personal devotion. In other words, the “increase of faith” for which the Apostles prayed, was to come through obedience, outward and inward obedience, to their Master’s will. Faith was to show itself in virtue, and virtue would bring knowledge, and knowledge would strengthen faith. Comp. 2 Peter 1:5, as showing that the lesson had been learnt.

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Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on Luke 17:7". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ebc/luke-17.html. 1905.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

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?
13:15; 14:5; Matthew 12:11
Reciprocal: Deuteronomy 15:18 - a double;  Matthew 21:21 - If ye have;  Luke 22:27 - GeneralJohn 13:4 - laid aside;  1 Corinthians 9:10 - that ploweth

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Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on Luke 17:7". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/luke-17.html.

Calvin's Commentary on the Bible

The object of this parable is to show that God claims all that belongs to us as his property, and possesses an entire control over our persons and services; and, therefore, that all the zeal that may be manifested by us in discharging our duty does not lay him under obligation to us by any sort of merit; for, as we are his property, so he on his part can owe us nothing. (317) He adduces the comparison of a servant, who, after having spent the day in severe toil, returns home in the evening, and continues his labors till his master is pleased to relieve him. (318) Christ speaks not of such servants as we have in the present day, who work for hire, but of the slaves that lived in ancient times, whose condition in society was such, that they gained nothing for themselves, but all that belonged to them—their toil, and application, and industry, even to their very blood—was the property of their masters. Christ now shows that a bond of servitude not less rigorous binds and obliges us to serve God; from which he infers, that we have no means of laying Him under obligations to us.

It is an argument drawn from the less to the greater; for if a mortal man is permitted to hold such power over another man, as to enjoin upon him uninterrupted services by night and by day, and yet contract no sort of mutual obligation, as if he were that man’s debtor, how much more shall God have a right to demand the services of our whole life, to the utmost extent that our ability allows, and yet be in no degree indebted to us? We see then that all are held guilty of wicked arrogance who imagine that they deserve any thing from God, or that he is bound to them in any way. And yet no crime is more generally practiced than this kind of arrogance; for there is no man that would not willingly call God to account, and hence the notion of merits has prevailed in almost every age.

But we must attend more closely to the statement made by Christ, that we render nothing to God beyond what he has a right to claim, but are so strongly bound to his service, that we owe him every thing that lies in our power. It consists of two clauses. First, our life, even to the very end of our course, belongs entirely to God; so that, if a person were to spend a part of it in obedience to God, he would have no right to bargain that he should rest for the remainder of the time; as a considerable number of men, after serving as soldiers for ten years, would gladly apply for a discharge. Then follows the second clause, on which we have already touched, that God is not bound to pay us hire for any of our services. Let each of us remember, that he has been created by God for the purpose of laboring, and of being vigorously employed in his work; and that not only for a limited time, but till death itself, and, what is more, that he shall not only live, but die, to God, (Romans 14:8.)

With respect to merit, we must remove the difficulty by which many are perplexed; for Scripture so frequently promises a reward to our works, that they think it allows them some merit. The reply is easy. A reward is promised, not as a debt, but from the mere good pleasure of God. It is a great mistake to suppose that there is a mutual relation between Reward and Merit; for it is by his own undeserved favor, and not by the value of our works, that God is induced to reward them. By the engagements of the Law (319), I readily acknowledge, God is bound to men, if they were to discharge fully all that is required from them; but still, as this is a voluntary obligation, it remains a fixed principle, that man can demand nothing from God, as if he had merited any thing. And thus the arrogance of the flesh falls to the ground; for, granting that any man fulfilled the Law, he cannot plead that he has any claims on God, having done no more than he was bound to do. When he says that we are unprofitable servants, his meaning is, that God receives from us nothing beyond what is justly due but only collects the lawful revenues of his dominion.

There are two principles, therefore, that must be maintained: first, that God naturally owes us nothing, and that all the services which we render to him are not worth a single straw; secondly, that, according to the engagements of the Law, a reward is attached to works, not on account of their value, but because God is graciously pleased to become our debtor. (320) It would evince intolerable ingratitude, if on such a ground any person should indulge in proud vaunting. The kindness and liberality which God exercises towards us are so far from giving us a right to swell with foolish confidence, that we are only laid under deeper obligations to Him. Whenever we meet with the word reward, or whenever it occurs to our recollection, let us look upon this as the crowning act of the goodness of God to us, that, though we are completely in his debt, he condescends to enter into a bargain with us. So much the more detestable is the invention of the Sophists, who have had the effrontery to forge a kind of merit, which professes to be founded on a just claim. (321) The word merit, taken by itself, was sufficiently profane and inconsistent with the standard of piety; but to intoxicate men with diabolical pride, as if they could merit any thing by a just claim, is far worse.

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Calvin, John. "Commentary on Luke 17:7". "Calvin's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/cal/luke-17.html. 1840-57.