Luke 17
ICC New Testament Commentary
Then said he unto the disciples, It is impossible but that offences will come: but woe unto him, through whom they come!
17:1-10. Four sayings of Christ. These are, The Sin of Causing Others to Sin (1, 2); The Duty of Forgiveness (3, 4); The Power of Faith (5, 6); and, The Insufficiency of Works (7-10). They have no connexion with the much longer utterances which precede them. Some of them are given by Mt. and Mk. in other positions. And the four sayings appear to be without connexion one with another. It is possible to make them into two pairs, as RV. does by its paragraphs. But the connexions between the first and second, and between the third and fourth, are too uncertain to be insisted upon.

1, 2. The Sin of Causing Others to Sin. These two verses are found in reverse order; and somewhat differently worded, Matthew 18:6, Matthew 18:7, and ver. 2 is found Mark 9:42.

1. Ἀνένδεκτον. Here only in bibl. Grk., and rare elsewhere, excepting in writers who knew this passage. In 13:33 we have ἐνδέχεται, from which this comes; and the intermediate ἔνδεκτόν ἐστι is found in Apollonius. The meaning is “it is unallowable, it cannot be,” οὐκ ἐνδέχεται.

The gen. in τοῦ … μὴ ἐλθεῖν may be variously explained, but best as an expression of design, implied in what is not allowed, a construction of which Lk. is very fond: see on 2:21. Win. xliv. 4. b, p. 408. Others refer it to the notion of hindering implied in ἀνένδεκτον (Burton., § 405); while Meyer makes ἀνέν. a substantive on which the gen. depends, “There is an impossibility of offences” not coming. Here only does σκάνδαλον occur in Lk. It is a late form of σκανδάληθρον (Aristoph. Ach. 687), the “bait-stick” in a trap, and combined the ideas of ensnaring and tripping up. It is bibl. and eccles. word, freq. in LXX.

πλὴν οὐαὶ διʼ οὗ ἔρχεται. See on 6:24, and comp. 22:22.

2. λυσιτελεῖ αὐτῷ. “It is well for him, is worth his while”: lit. “it pays the taxes (λύει τὰ τέλη), repays the outlay.” Here only in N. T., but found Tobit 3:6; Ecclus. 20:10, 14, 29:14, and quite classical.

In Tertullian (Adv. Marcion. iv. 35) we have an insertion from Matthew 26:24: expedisse ei, si natus non fuisset, aut si moline saxo ad collum deligato, etc. A similar mixture of texts is found in Clem. Hom. (Cor. 46.), who has ἕνα τω̈́͂ν ἐκλεκτῶν for τῶν μικρῶν τούτων ἕνα.

λίθος μυλικός “A stone fit for a mill” (μύλη). Matthew 18:6 and Mark 9:42 we have μύλος ὀνικός for λίθις μυλικός. Neither occurs in LXX.

καὶ ἔρριπται. Mk. has βέβληται . The change from pres. to perf. is graphic: “It is good for him if a millstone is hanged about his neck and he has been hurled.” As to the double ρρ see Greg. Proleg. p. 121.

ἤ. “Rather than”: see small print on 15:7, and comp. λυσιτελεῖ μοι ἀποθανεῖν ἢ ζῆν (Tobit 3:6). Such constructions are common in LXX (Genesis 49:12; Jonah 4:3, Jonah 4:8; Tobit 12:8; Ecclus. 20:25, 22:15, etc.), but are found also in class. Grk. καλὸν τὸ μὴ ζῆν ἢ ζῆν ἀθλίως (Menander). Nothing is to be understood with ἵνα, such as “rather than (to remain alive) in order to.” It is the late use of ἵνα with the telic force lost. Win. 46:8. c, p. 424; § 124. Comp. Matthew 5:29, Matthew 5:30; 1 Corinthians 4:3.

τῶν μικρῶν τούτων ἕνα . As the saying is addressed to the disciples (ver. 1), it is unlikely that the whole body of the disciples is included in “these little ones.” It is more natural to understand it of the more insignificant among them (comp. 7:28), or those who were young in the faith, or possibly children. The ἕνα comes last with emphasis. To lead even one astray is an awful responsibility.

προσέξετε ἑαυτοῖς. These words come better as a conclusion to the previous warning than as an introduction to the exhortation which follows. They are analogous to “He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.” For the constr. see on 12:1. For instances in which there is discrepancy as to the division of verses see Greg. Proleg. p. 175.

3, 4. § The Duty of Forgiveness. Those who connect this saying with the one which precedes it, make an unforgiving spirit to be set forth as a common way of causing others to stumble. Others regard it as an à fortiori argument. If we must avoid doing evil to others, much more must we forgive the evil which they do to us. A better link is found in the severity of vv. 1 and 2, “when thou sinnest against another,” and the tenderness of vv 3 and 4, “when others sin against thee.”

The δέ, which A etc. insert after ἐάν, is perhaps an attempt to mark a contrast between the two sayings and thus link them. Or it may come from Matthew 18:15.: om. א A B L; X, Latt.Boh. Aeth. Arm. Goth. Neither here nor Matthew 18:15 is the εἰς σέ, which D and some Latin authorities insert after ἁμάρτῃ, genuine: om. א A B L C D, Cod. Am. Cod. Brig. Syr. Goth. Nevertheless, what follows shows that offences εἰς σέ are specially meant.

ἐπιτίμησον . The tenderness is not to be weakness. The fault is not to be passed over without notice (Leviticus 19:17).

4. ἑπτάκις τῆς ἡμέρας. In Peter’s question (Matthew 18:21, Matthew 18:22) there is no τῆ ἡμέρας, which is genuine here after the first ἕπτακις only: and there is no μετανοῶ. See on 15:7. The “seven times” is of course not to be taken literally. Comp. “Seven times a day do I praise thee” (Psalm 119:164). Unlimited forgiveness is prescribed. But too much meaning is put into λέγων, when it is explained to mean that the mere expression of repentance is to suffice. Professed repentance may be ostentatiously unreal.

5, 6. The Power of Faith. There is no sign of connexion with what precedes. The fact that we have τοὺς μαθητάς in ver. 1 and οἱ ἀπόστολοι here points to different occasions. Mt. connects this saying of Christ with the Apostles’ question, “Why could not we cast it out?” (17:19, 20). Mk. has a similar saying after the withering of the barren fig tree (11:23). Marcion omitted vv. 5-10.

5. τῷ κυρίῳ . See on 17 and 7:13. The expression has point here. The Apostles ask the Lord who had given them their office to supply them with what was necessary for the discharge of that office.

Πρόσθες ἡμῖν πίστιν “Give us faith in addition: add it to the gifts already bestowed.” The “faith” here meant is faith in Christ’s promises. It is very forced to make it refer to what precedes; the faith that enables one to forgive a brother seven times in a day. Power to fulfil that duty would have been otherwise expressed. See Sanday on Romans 1:5 and additional note pp. 31-34.

6. Εἰἔχετε … ἐλέγετε ἄν . Irregular sequence, which has produced the reading εἰ εἴχετε (D E G H) as a correction. In the protasis the supposition is left open: in the apodosis it is implicitly denied. See Moulton’s note 5. Win. p. 383. We have a further change of tense in ὑπήκουσεν ἄν, implying that the obedience would at once have followed the command. Comp. Xen. Anab. v. 8, 13.

ὡς κόκκον σινάπεως It is not a question of additional faith. Is there genuine faith to any extent? See on 13:19.

τῇ συκαμίνῳ. At the present time both the white and the black mulberry are ommon in Palestine; and in Greece the latter is still called συκαμινέα. It is not certain that the συκάμινος here is a different tree from the συκομορέα (19:4).1 But in any case both are different from the English sycomore, which is a maple. The Συκάμινος is mentioned 1 Chronicles 27:28; 2 Chronicles 1:15, 2 Chronicles 1:9:27; Psalm 78:47; Isaiah 9:10. In Matthew 17:20 we have τῶς ὄρει τούτῳ for τῇ συκαμίνῳ ταύτῃ, the saying being uttered just after the descent from the Mount of Transfiguration. Comp. Matthew 21:21"". Here Christ’s reply seems to indicate that it is faith in His promise that they should work miracles that is desired by the Apostles.

To treat the saying as a parable, and make the tree mean the Kingdom of God and the sea the heathen world, is fanciful.

7-10. § The Insufficiency of Works, or, the Parable of the Unprofitable Servant. The attempts to find a connexion between this and the preceding saying are forced and unsatisfactory. Obviously these four verses are not concerned with miracles, which cannot be meant by τὰ διαταχθέντα ὑμῖν (ver. 10). It is the ordinary duties of the Christian life that are meant. See the illustration in Hermas (Sim. v. 2. 1-11), and comp. Seneca, De Benef. 3:18.

7. Τίς δὲ ἐξ ὑμῶν. There is no need to seek for explanations as to why Jesus speaks to “the poor Apostles” as if they had slaves who ploughed for them, or to point out that Zebedee had had hired servants (Mark 1:20). There is no evidence that these words were addressed to the Twelve; and the words almost necessarily imply that they were addressed to a mixed audience of well-to-do persons. For τίς ἐξ ὑμῶν see on 11:5, 6.

Εὐθέως: belongs to παρελθών rather than to ἐρεῖ, as is shown by the μετὰ ταῦτα afterwards, which balances εὐθέως: “Come straightway and sit down to eat” Wic. Tyn. Cov. Cran. Rhem. RV. with Vulg. and Luth. adopt this arrangement. AV. follows Gen. with “say unto him by and by,” where “by and by” has its original meaning of “immediately”: AV. of 21:9; Matthew 13:21; Mark 6:25 Comp. “presently,” Matthew 26:53; 1 Samuel 2:16 (T. L. O. Davies, Bible English, p. 109; Lft. On Revision, p. 196, 2nd ed.; Trench, On the A. V. of N. T. p. 48).

παρελθὼν ἀνάπεσε. “Come forward and sit down to meat.” This use of παρέρχομαι is classical, but in N.T. is peculiar to Lk. (12:37). Comp. the insertion Acts 24:7 and 2 Chronicles 25:7 A.

8. Ἑτοίμασον τί δειπνήσω … διακόνει . Change from aor. to pres. “Prepare once for all … continue to serve.” With τί δειπνήσω comp. Matthew 10:19: in class. Grk. we should have ὄ τι, as in Acts 9:6.

The forms φάγεσαι and πίεσαι are analogous to ὀδυνᾶσαι (16:25) and δύνασαι (Matthew 5:36). They belong to the popular Greek of the time, but are not quite constant; Mark 9:22 we have δύνῃ. See Veitch, s.v.; Win. 15 pp. 109, 110; WH. 2. p. 304. Both πάγεσαι and πίεσαι are found Ruth 2:9, Ruth 2:14; Ezekiel 12:18With ἔχει ξάριν comp. 1 Timothy 1:12; 2 Timothy 1:3; Hebrews 12:28: the expression is classical. The οὐ δοκῶ of A D, Vulg. etc. is an insertion.

10. οὕτως καὶ ὑμεις, ὅταν ποιήσητε πάντα. A purely hypothetical case. Nothing is gained by placing a full stop at ὑμεῖς. With τὰ διαταχθέντα ὑμῖν comp. τὸ διατεταγμένον ὑμῖν. (3:13; Acts 23:31).

ἀχρεῖοι. Not “vile” as in 2 Samuel 6:22, nor “good for nothing” as in Ep. Jer_15, the only places in which the word occurs in LXX; but “unprofitable,” because nothing has been gained by them for their master. He has got no more than his due. Comp. Matthew 25:30, the only other passage in N.T. in which the word is found. That God does not need man’s service is not the point. Nor are the rewards which He gives in return for man’s service here brought into question. The point is that man can make no just claim for having done more than was due. Miser est quem Dominus servum inutilem appellat (Matthew 25:30); beatus qui se ipse (Beng.). Syr-Sin. omits ἀχρεῖοι.

17:11-19:28. The Third Period of the Journey

11-19. Here begins the last portion of the long section (9:51-19:28), for the most part peculiar to Lk., which we have called “the Journeyings towards Jerusalem”: see on 9:51. For the third time (9:51, 52, 13:22) Lk. tells us that Jerusalem is the goal, but we have no means of knowing whether this represents the beginning of a third journey distinct from two previous journeys. Marked breaks may be made at the end of 13:35 and 17:10. But we have no data for determining what the chronology of the different divisions is; and the geography is almost as indistinct as the chronology. This last portion, however, brings us once more (10:38) to Bethany, and to the time which preceded the triumphal entry into Jerusalem.

11-19. § The Healing of the Ten Lepers. The gratitude of the Samaritan leper illustrates the special theme of this Gospel. The opening of the narrative indicates an Aramaic source: but that it is placed here “to contrast man’s thanklessness to God with the sort of claim to thanks from God, which is asserted by spiritual pride,” is not probable.

11. ἐν τῷ πορεύεσθαι . “As He was on His way.” See on 3:21 and comp. 9:51, the beginning of this main portion, where the construction is similar. The αὐτόν is probably a gloss (om. א B L), but a correct gloss. As no one else is mentioned it is arbitrary to translate “as they were on their way.” Latin texts all take it as singular: dum iret, cum iret, dum vadit, dum iter faceret. So also Syr-Sin., which omits ἐγένετο.

καὶ αὐτὸς διήρχετο. The apodosis of ἐγένετο: see on 5:12, 14, 6:20; also on 2:15. There is no emphasis on αὐτός.

διὰ μέσον. This is the reading of א B D L, accepted by Tisch. Treg. WH. and RV. It means “through what lies between,” i.e. along the frontier, or simply, “between.” This is the only passage in N.T. in which διά c. acc. has its original local signification. Even if διὰ μέσου were the right reading, we ought to translate it “between” and not “through the midst of.” This use is found in Xenophon: διὰ μέσου δὲ ῥεῖ τούτων ποταμός (Anab. 1:4, 4), of a river flowing between two walls; and in Plato: ἢ τὸ τούτων δὴ διὰ μέσου φῶμεν (Leg. 7. p. 805 D), of an intermediate course. “Through midst of Samaria and Galilee” wouldimply that Jesus was moving from Jerusalem, whereas we are expressly told that He was journeying towards it. Samaria, as being on the right would naturally be mentioned first if He was going eastward along the frontier between Samaria and Galilee possibly by the route which ends at Bethshean, near the Jordan. In order to avoid Samaritan territory (9:52-55), He seems to have been making for Peræa, as Jews often did in going from Galilee to Jerusalem. On the frontier He would be likely to meet with a mixed company of lepers, their dreadful malady having broken down the barrier between Jew and Samaritan. See Conder, Handbk. of B. p. 311; Tristram, Bible Places, p. 222; Eastern Customs, pp. 19, 21. In the leper-houses at Jerusalem Jews and Mahometans will live together at the present time.

There is no doubt that ver. 11 forms a complete sentence. To make from καὶ αὐτός to Γαλιλαίας a parenthesis, and take ἀπήντησαν as the apodosis of ἐγένετο, is quite gratuitous clumsiness.

12. δέκα λεπροὶ ἄνδρες . Elsewhere we read of four (2 Kings 7:3), but so large a company as ten was perhaps at that time unusual. Now it would be common, especially in this central region. These ten may have collected on hearing that Jesus was approaching. No meaning is to be sought in the number.

ἔστησαν πόρρωθεν . In accordance with the law, which the leper of 5:12 possibly did not break: see notes there. The precise distance to be kept was not fixed by law, but by tradition, and the statements about it vary. See Leviticus 13:45, Leviticus 13:46; Numbers 5:2, and the evidence collected in Wetst. The adv. occurs Hebrews 11:13 and often in LXX, esp. in Isaiah (10:3, 13:5, 33:13, 17, 39:3, etc.). On the authority of B F, WH. adopt ἀνέστησαν in the text, with ἔστησαν in the margin. Lk. is very fond of this compound.

13. καὶ αὐτοὶ ἦραν φωνήν . They took the initiative. Here ἦραν φωνήν agrees with πόρρωθεν, just as in 16:24 φωνήσας agrees with ἀπὸ μακρόθεν. Comp. ἐπαίρειν φωνήν (11:27) and ὑψοῦν φωνήν (Genesis 39:15, Genesis 39:18). This phrase occurs Acts 4:24; Jdg 21:2; 1 Samuel 11:4. For ἐπιστάτα see on 5:5.

14. καὶ ἰδών . “And directly He saw”: which seems to imply that, until they cried out, He had not perceived who they were. This previous supernatural knowledge was not necessary. But He knows, without seeing or hearing, that they all were cleansed (ver. 17). This knowledge was necessary.

ἐπιδείξατε ἑαυτοὺς τοῖς ἱερεῦσιν. “Show yourselves to the priests” appointed for this purpose. Each of the ten would go to the priest near his own home. In 5:14 we have τῷ ἱερεῖ, there being then only one leper. The Samaritan would go to a priest of the temple on Mount Gerizim.

ἐν τῷ ὑπάγειν. Their faith was shown in their obedience to Christ’s command, and on their way the cure took place. As they were no longer companions in misery, the Jews would rejoice that the Samaritan turned back and left them.

15. ὑπέστρεψεν . See on 4:14 and 7:10. Even Hahn follows Schleiermacher in referring this to the Samaritan’s return from the priest. In that case he would have inevitably returned without the others. It was because he saw (ἰδών) that he was healed (not after he had been declared to be clean) that he came back to give thanks. The μετὰ φωνῆς μεγάλης may mean that he still “stood afar off” (see on 1:42), as having not yet recovered the right to mix with others: for παρὰ τοὺς πόδας (see on 7:38) need not imply close proximity. But if the loud voice be only an expression of great joy, a man in the jubilation of such a cure would not be punctilious about keeping the exact distance, especially when he knew that he was no longer a leper. It is most improbable that he did not see that he was cleansed till the priest told him that he was.

16. καὶ αὐτὸς ἦν Σαμαρείτης . Here the αὐτός has point: “and he was a S.” The only one who exhibited gratitude was a despised schismatic. That all the others were Jews is not implied.

17. ἀποκριθεὶς δὲ ὁ Ἰησοῦς . See small print on 1:19, p. 16. Here first we learn that Jesus was not alone; for His “answer” is addressed to the bystanders, and is a comment on the whole incident rather than a reply to the Samaritan.

Οὐχ οἱ δέκα . “Were not the ten,” etc.—all the ten who had asked Him to have mercy on them. The ποῦ with emphasis at the end, like σύ in ver. 8. These questions imply surprise, and surprise implies limitation of knowledge (7:9; Matthew 8:10; Mark 6:6).

18. This sentence also may be interrogative: so WH. and RV. text. The εὑρέθησαν is not a mere substitute for ἦσαν: it marks or implies the discovery or notice of the quality in question (1 Peter 2:22; Revelation 14:5).

ἀλλογενής . The classical word would be ἀλλόφυλος (Alas 10:28) or ἀλλοεθνής, But ἀλλογενής is very freq. in LXX, especially of the heathen (Exodus 12:43, Exodus 12:29:33, Exodus 12:30:33; Leviticus 22:10, etc).

The Samaritans were a mixed people, both as regards race and religion. They were Israelites who had been almost overwhelmed by the heathen colonists planted among them by the Assyrians. Those from Cuthah (2 Kings 17:24, 2 Kings 17:30) were probably the most numerous, for the Jews called the Samaritans Cuthites or Cutheans (Jos. Ant. ix. 14. 3, 11:4, 4, 7, 2, 13:9, 1). These heathen immigrants brought their idolatry with them, but gradually mixed with it the worship of Jehovah. Both as regards race and religion it was the Jewish element which grew stronger, while the heathen element declined. Refugees from Judea settled among them from time to time; but we do not hear of fresh immigrants from Assyria. The religion at last became pure monotheism, with the Pentateuch as the law of worship and of life. But in race the foreign element no doubt predominated, although Christ’s use of ἀλλογενής does not prove this. He may be speaking with a touch of irony: “this man, who is commonly regarded as little better than a heathen.” See Schürer, Jewish People in T. of J. C. 2:1, pp. 6-8; Edersh. Hist. of Jewish Nation, pp. 249, 486, 499, ed. 1896; Derenbourg, Hist. de la Psa_1. p. 43; Jos. Ant. 11:8, 6, 12:5, 5.

19. ἡ πίστις σου σέσωκέν σε . He did well to be thankful and publicly express his thankfulness; but he had contributed something himself, without which he would not have been cured. Comp. 8:48, 18:42. Others refer the saying to some benefit which the Samaritan received and which the nine lost, and explain it of moral and spiritual salvation. Comp. 7:50, 8:48, 50.

20-37. The Coming of the Kingdom of God and of the Son of Man. The introductory verses (20-22) are peculiar to Lk. For the rest comp. Matthew 24:23 ff.; Mark 13:21 ff.

20. Ἐπερωτηθείς. There is no evidence that the question of the Pharisees was asked in contempt. Jesus had taught that the Kingdom was at hand, and they ask when it may be expected. Perhaps they wanted to test Him. If He fixed an early date, and at that time there were no signs of the Kingdom, they would know what to think. His reply corrects such an idea. There will be no such signs as would enable a watcher to date the arrival. A spiritual Kingdom is slow in producing conspicuous material effects; and it begins in ways that cannot be dated.

With this rather loose use of πότε for ὅποτε in an indirect question comp. 12:36; Mark 13:4, Mark 13:33, Mark 13:35; Matthew 24:3. Nowhere in N.T. is ὄποτε found.

παρατηρήσεως . Here only in bibl. Grk. and not classical, although παρατηρεῖν is not rare either in N.T. or LXX, and occurs in medical writers of watching the symptoms of a disease (Hobart, p. 153). It implies close rather than sinister watching, although the latter sense occurs. See on 14:1. The interpretation cum multa pompa, cum regio splendore, fits neither the word nor the context. The meaning is that no close observation will be able to note the moment of its arrival, which will not be marked by external sounds.

21. οὐδὲ ἐροῦσιν . “Neither will they say” (with any reason): non erit quod dicatur (Grot.). In ver. 23 they do say this; but it is a groundless statement. The ἰδοὐ before ἐκεῖ (A D, Vulg.) is an insertion from ver. 23.

ἰδοὺ γάρ . See on 1:44. This ἰδού introduces the true statement in contrast to the previous ἰδού, which introduced a false one. The γάρ marks the reason why “Lo here” or “There” cannot be accepted. Note the solemn repetition of ἡ βασιλεία τοῦ Θεοῦ.

ἐντὸς ὑμῶν ἐστίν. Usage sanctions either translation: “within you, in your hearts” (Psalm 38:4, 108:22, 103:1; Isaiah 16:11; Daniel 10:16 (Theod.); Ecclus. 19:23[26]: comp. Matthew 23:26); or, “among you, in your midst” (Xen. Anab. 1:10, 3; Hellen. 2:3, 19; Plat. Leg. 7:789 A). The latter seems to suit the context better; for the Kingdom of God was not in the hearts of the Pharisees, who are the persons addressed. The meaning will then be, “so far from coming with external signs which will attract attention, the Kingdom is already in the midst of you (in the person of Christ and of His disciples), and you do not perceive it.” Note the contrast between ἐροῦσιν, the supposition that the Kingdom is still in the future, and ἐστίν, the fact that it is really present. But this rendering of ἐντός lacks confirmation in Scripture, and the context is not decisive against the other. If “within you” be adopted, the meaning will be, “Instead of being something externally visible, the Kingdom is essentially spiritual: it is in your hearts, if you possess it at all.”

All Latin texts have intra vos est. But the interpretation of “within you” varies considerably. Gregory Nyssen explains it of the image of God bestowed upon all men at their birth (De Virg. 12.; comp. De Beat. 1.), Which cannot be right. Cyril of Alexandria makes it mean, “lies in your power to appropriate it,” ἐν ἐξουσίᾳ κεῖται τὸ λαβεῖν αὐτήν (Migne 72:841). Similarly Maldonatus, quia poterant, si vellent Christum recipere. But this is translating ἐντὸς ὑμῶν “within you,” and interpreting “within you” as much the same as “among you.” If they had not received Christ or the Kingdom, it was not yet within them. Against “in your hearts” Maldonatus points that not only does Lk. tell us that the words were addressed to the Pharisees, in whose hearts, the Kingdom was not; but that he emphasizes this by stating that the next saying was addressed to the disciples. Among moderns, Godet arguesably for “within you” (see also McClellan): Weiss and Hahn for “among you.” Syr-Sin. has “among.” Comp. 10:9, 11:20.

22. Εἶπεν δὲ πρὸς τοὺς μαθητάς . Apparently this is the same occasion (comp. 12:22); and perhaps the Pharisees have retired. But we cannot be certain of either point. Christ takes up the subject which the Pharisees had introduced, and shows that it is the Second Advent that will be accompanied by visible signs. But with regard to these, discrimination must be used. Comp. Matthew 24:23, Matthew 24:26 and Mark 13:21, to which this is partly parallel.

Ἐλεύσονται ἡμέραι. No article: “Days will come”: as in 5:35, 21:6; Matthew 9:15; Mark 2:20. Even RV. has “The days will come.” Comp. the Johannean phrase, ἔρχεται ὥρα, “There cometh an hour” (John 4:21, John 4:23, John 4:5:25, John 4:28, John 4:16:2, John 4:25, John 4:32). But it is erroneous to make this passage mean the same as 5:35; Matthew 9:15; Mark 2:20:—“Days will come, when the bridegroom shall be taken away from them; then will they fast in those days.” This means, not that hereafter there will be a time when the disciples will long in vain for one day of such intercourse with Christ as they are constantly enjoying now; but that there will be days in which they will yearn for a foretaste of the coming glory, a glory which must be waited for and cannot be anticipated. “Oh for one day of heaven in this time of trouble!” is a futile wish, but it will be framed by some. It is clear from ver. 26 what “the days of the Son of Man” must mean. But what does μίαν τῶν ἡμερῶν, κ.τ.λ., mean? The common rendering, “one of the days,” etc., makes good sense. But the possibility of taking the expression as a Hebraism, “one” being used for “first,” as in μιᾷ τῶν σαββάτων (Mark 16:2), is worth noting. Comp. 24:1; Matthew 28:1; Acts 20:7; 1 Corinthians 16:2; John 20:1. In this case he desire would be for “the first of the days of the Son of Man,” the day of His return.

καὶ οὐκ ὄψεσθε . Not because it will never come; but because it will not come in those days of longing.

23. There is no contradiction between this and ver. 21. That refers to true signs of the First Advent; this to false signs of the Second. It covers all premature announcements of the approach of the Last Day. All predictions of exact dates, and all statements as to local appearances, are to be mistrusted.

μὴ ἀπέλθητε μηδὲ διώξητε . “Do not leave your ordinary occupation, still less go after those who offer to lead you to the place of the Son of Man’s appearing.”

24. ὥσπερ γὰρ ἡ ἀστραπή . As sudden, and as universally visible. None will foresee it, and all will see it at once; so that no report respecting it can have any value. Non ejus ergo venturi tempus aut locus potest a mortalibus observari, qui fulguris instar omnibus coruscus videlicet et repentinus adveniet (Bede). See on 2:8, 11:46, 23:46 for Lk’s fondness for cognate words. The wording here is almost identical with Matthew 24:27.

The art. before ἀστράπτουσα is probably an insertion; om. א B L C G. Without it translate, “when it lightens.” For fulgur e has choruscatio and d has scoruscus. In what follows we again have an amphibolous expression (9:17, 18, 27, 57, 10:18, etc.); but ἐκ τῆς … ὑπʼ οὐρανόν should be taken with λάμπει rather than with ἀστράπτουσα. For the ellipse of χώρα after ἡ ὑπʼ οὐρανόν or ἡ ὑπὸ τὸν οὐρανόν comp. Deuteronomy 25:9; Job 1:7, Job 2:2, Job 18:4, Job 34:13, Job 38:18, Job 42:15. The words ἐν τῇ ἡμέρᾳ αὐτοῦ after ἀνθρώπου are of doubtful authority: om. B D, a b c d e i Aeth., while I has in adventu suo (comp. Matthew 24:27): om. filius hominis in die sua ff2. Syr-Sin. has ‘so shall be the day of the Son of Man.”

25. πρῶτον δὲ δεῖ αὐτὸν … ἀποδοκιμασθῆναι . “But there is no need to be expecting this now”: the events immediately impending are very different. For δεῖ see on 4:43, and for ἀποδοκιμασθῆναι see on 9:22, and comp. 18:31. Just as the hought of impending suffering needs to be cheered by that of future glory, so the thought of future glory needs to be chastened by that of impending suffering. Comp. 9:44.

26. Having told the disciples that the Son of Man will not come as soon as they wish (22), in what way He will not come (23), in what way He will come (24), and what will happen first (25), Christ now states in what condition the human race will be when He comes.

καὶ καθὼς ἐγέετο . Not ὥσπερ, as in ver. 24. There something analogous was introduced; here something exactly similar is cited. “Just as, even as.” Comp. 11:30; John 3:14; 2 Corinthians 1:5, 2 Corinthians 10:7, etc. In Attic Greek we should rather have καθό (Romans 8:26), καθά (Matthew 27:10), or καθάπερ (Romans 12:4).

27. ἤσθιον, ἔπινον, ἐγάμουν, ἐγαμίζοντο . The imperfects and the asyndeton are very vivid: “They were eating, they were drinking,” etc. The point is not merely that they were living their ordinary lives, but that they were wholly given up to external things.

It is of no moment whether καὶ ἧλθεν ὁ κατακλυσμός is made to depend upon ἄχρι ἤς ἡμέρας or not: probably it is independent. But certainly ὁμοίως belongs to καθὼς ἐγένετο (similiter sicut factum est, Vulg.), and not to ἀπώλεσεν πάντας (perdidit omnes pariter), which is pointless. The ὁμοίως anticipates κατὰ τὰ αὐτά in ver. 30.

28, 29. There is no parallel to this in Mat_24. It is a second instance of careless enjoyment suddenly overwhelmed. Comp. 2 Peter 2:5, 2 Peter 2:6.

29. ἔβρεξεν πῦρ καὶ θεῖον. The subject of ἔβρεξεν is Κύριος, Which is, expressed in Genesis 19:24 (comp. Matthew 5:45) and must be supplied here, because of ἀπώλεσεν. The verb is not impers., as in Jam 5:17. Grotius makes πῦρ καὶ θεῖον the nom. and compares ἵνα μὴ βρέχῃ ὑετός (Revelation 11:6). Genesis 19:24 and the sing. verb are against this. Comp. Hom. Od. 22:493.

30. ἀποκαλύπτεται . A technical expression in this connexion (1 Corinthians 1:7; 2 Thessalonians 1:7; 1 Peter 1:7, 1 Peter 1:13, 1 Peter 1:4:13). The present indicates the certainty of the veil being withdrawn. Up to that day He is hidden from man’s sight: then at once He is revealed.

31. In Matthew 24:17, Matthew 24:18 and 13:15, 16 these words are spoken of flight before the destruction of Jerusalem. Here flight is neither expressed nor understood. The point is absolute indifference to all worldly interests as the attitude of readiness for the Son of Man. We need not discuss whether the words were spoken in a literal sense, as in MK. and Mt., and Lk has applied them spiritually; or in a spiritual sense, and Mt. and MK. have taken them literally. Christ may have used them in both senses. The warning about flight from Judæa is recorded by Lk. elsewhere (21:21). On the oratio variata of the constr. see Win. lxiii. 2. 1, p. 722, 723.

32. μνημονεύετε τῆς γυναικὸς Λώτ. Lot’s wife looked back with a wish to recover worldly possessions and enjoyments. She proved herself to be unworthy of the salvation that was offered her. In like manner the Christian, whose first thought at the Advent of the Son of Man was about the safety of his goods, would be unfit for the Kingdom of God.

Note that Christ says, “Remember,” not “Behold.” Nothing that is in existence is appealed to, but only what has been told. Attempts have been made to identify the Pillar of Salt. Josephus believed that he had seen it (Ant. i. 11, 4). Comp. Wisd. 10:7; Clem. Hom. Cor. 11.; Iren. iv. 31, 3; CyrHier. Catech. xix. 8.

33. περιποιήσασθαι. “To preserve for himself”: elsewhere “to gain for oneself” (Acts 20:28; 1 Timothy 3:13). The reading σῶσαι (A R) comes from 9:24.

ζωογονήσει. “Shall preserve alive”: Acts 7:19; 1 Timothy 6:13; Exodus 1:17; Jdg 8:19; 1 Samuel 2:6, 1 Samuel 2:27:9, 1 Samuel 2:11; 1Sa_1 Kings 21:31. The rendering “shall bring to a new birth” has been rightly abandoned by Godet. In bibl. Grk. it is not used of “bringing forth alive,” “viviparous.” From 9:24; Matthew 10:39, Matthew 10:16:25; Mark 8:35; John 12:25 it appears that this solemn warning was often uttered: for most of these passages refer to different occasions. It is the one important saying which is in all four.

34, 35. The closest intimacy in this life is no guarantee of community of condition when the Son of Man comes. The strangest separations will take place between comrades, according as one is fit to enter the Kingdom and another not.

34. ταύτῃ τῇ νυκτί. This must not be pressed to mean anything, whether a time of great horror or actual night. Christ is not intimating that His return will take place in the night-time. “Night” is part of the picture, for it is then that people are in bed.

δύο ἐπὶ κλίνης μιᾶς. “Two on one bed.” Not necessarily two men, although that is probably the meaning. AV. was the first English Version to insert “men,” and RV. retains it. The “being taken” probably means “taken from destruction” (John 14:3), ὡς ἀλλότριος τῆς οἰργῆς (Eus.), as Lot from Sodom; while “left” means “left to his fate” (13:35). Or, “taken into the Kingdom” and “left outside” may be the meaning.

35. This image presupposes day rather than night, and refers to a fact which is still of everyday occurrence in the East. Whether people be sleeping or working when the Lord comes, those who still cling to things earthly will be left without share in the Messianic joy. And in this matter “no man may deliver his brother”: ἔσται πλείστη καὶ ἀκριβὴς τῶν τρόπων ἡ δοκιμασία (Cyr.).

36. An ancient (D, Latt. Syrr.) insertion from Matthew 24:40: om. א A B Q R, Aeth. Copt. Goth.

37. Ποῦ, κύριε; The question is one of curiosity which Christ does not gratify. Moreover, it assumes, what He has just been denying, that the Second Advent will be local—limited to one quarter of the earth.

Ὅπου τὸ σῶμα, ἐκεῖ καὶ οἱ ἀετοί. This was perhaps a current proverb. The application is here quite general. “Where the conditions are fulfilled, there and there only will the revelation of the Son of Man take place.” Or possibly, “Where the dead body of human nature, clinging to earthly things, is, there the judgments of God will come”: ubi peccatores, ibi Dei judicia. Jesus thus sets aside all questions as to the time (ver. 20) or the place (ver. 37) of His return. One thing is certain; that all who are not ready will suffer (VV. 27, 29). Upon all who are dead to the claims of the Kingdom ruin will fall (37). The πτῶμα of Matthew 24:28 expresses more definitely than σῶμα that the body is a dead one: comp. Matthew 14:12; Mark 6:29, Mark 6:15:45; Revelation 11:8, Revelation 11:9. But σῶμα for a dead body is quite classical, and is always so used in Homer, a living body being δέμας: comp. Acts 9:40.

οἱ ἀετοί. “The vultures.” Here, as in Micah 1:16, the griffon vulture (vultur fulvus) is probably meant: comp. Job 39:27-30; Habakkuk 1:8; Hosea 8:1, and see Tristram, Nat. Hist, of B. p. 172; D. B.2 art. “Eagle.” Eagles neither fly in flocks nor feed on carrion. During the Crimean War, griffon vultures, which had previously been scarce round Sebastopol, collected in great numbers, “from the ends of the earth,” as the Turks said. In the less general interpretation of this saying of Christ the ἀετοί are the ministers of judgment which overtake the ungodly. A reference to the eagles of the Roman standards is not in point here, although it is possible Matthew 24:28. The patristic interpretation of the saints gathering round the glorified body of Christ is equally unsuitable to the context.1 See Didon, JC ch. 9. p. 613, ed. 1891; also Hastings, DB. i. p. 632.

RV. Revised Version.

Sin. Sinaitic.

Win. Winer, Grammar of N.T. Greek (the page refers to Moulton’s edition).

Burton. Burton, N.T. Moods and Tenses.

Clem. Hom. Clementine Homilies.

Greg. Gregory, Prolegomena ad Tischendorfii ed. N. T.

§ Found in Luke alone.

om. omit.

אԠא Cod. Sinaiticus, sæc. iv. Brought by Tischendorf from the Convent of St. Catherine on Mt. Sinai; now at St. Petersburg. Contains the whole Gospel complete.

A A. Cod. Alexandrinus, sæc. v. Once in the Patriarchal Library at Alexandria; sent by Cyril Lucar as a present to Charles 1. in 1628, and now in the British Museum. Complete.

B B. Cod. Vaticanus, sæc. 4. In the Vatican Library certainly since 15331 (Batiffol, La Vaticane de Paul 3, etc., p. 86).

L L. Cod. Regius Parisiensis, sæc. viii. National Library at Paris. Contains the whole Gospel.

X X. Cod. Monacensis, sæc. ix. In the University Library at Munich. Contains 1:1-37, 2:19-3:38, 4:21-10:37, 11:1-18:43, 20:46-24:53.

Latt. Latin.

Boh. Bohairic.

Aeth. Ethiopic.

Arm. Armenian.

Goth. Gothic.

D D. Cod. Bezae, sæc. vi. Given by Beza to the University Library at Cambridge 1581. Greek and Latin. Contains the whole Gospel.


C. Cod. Ephraemi Rescriptus, sæc. 5. In the National Library at Paris. Contains the following portions of the Gospel: 1:2-2:5, 2:42-3:21, 4:25-6:4, 6:37-7:16, or 17, 8:28-12:3, 19:42-20:27, 21:21-22:19, 23:25-24:7, 24:46-53.

These four MSS. are parts of what were once complete Bibles, and are designated by the same letter throughout the LXX and N.T.

Cod. Am. Codex Amiatimus.

Syr Syriac.

1 “Two points may be urged in favour of those who identify the two trees: (1) In LXX every instance in which the Hebrew has Shikmin the Greek has συκάμινος, although the fig, and not the mulberry, is certainly intended. (2) As to the mulberry it has yet to be shown that it was then known in Palestine: and further the mulberry is more easily plucked by the roots than any other tree of the size in the country, and the things is oftener done” (Groser, Trees and Plants in the Bible, pp. 121, 123).

Wic. Wiclif.

Tyn. Tyndale.

Cov. Coverdale.

Rhem. Rheims (or Douay).

Vulg. Vulgate.

Luth. Luther.

AV. Authorized Version.

Gen. Geneva.

WH. Westcott and Hort.

Beng. Bengel.

Tisch. Tischendorf.

Treg. Tregelles.

Wetst. Wetstein.

F F. Cod. Boreeli, sæc. ix. In the Public Library at Utrecht. Contains considerable portions of the Gospel.

Jos. Josephus.

Grot. Grotius.

G G. Cod. Harleianus, sæc. ix. In the British Museum. Contains considerable portions.

Iren. Irenæus.

R R. Cod. Nitriensis Rescriptus, sæc. 8. Brought from a convent in the Nitrian desert about 1847, and now in the British Museum. Contains 1:1-13, 1:69-2:4, 16-27, 4:38-5:5, 5:25-6:8, 18-36, 39, 6:49-7:22, 44, 46, 47, 8:5-15, 8:25-9:1, 12-43, 10:3-16, 11:5-27, 12:4-15, 40-52, 13:26-14:1, 14:12-15:1, 15:13-16:16, 17:21-18:10, 18:22-20:20, 20:33-47, 21:12-22:15, 42-56, 22:71-23:11, 38-51. By a second hand 15:19-21.

Eus. Eusebius of Cæsarea

D. B. Smith’s Dictionary of the Bible, 2nd edition.

1 Ὄταν ὁ υἱὸς τοῦ ἀνθρώπον παραγένηται, τότε δὴ πάντες οἱ ἀετοί, τουτέστν οἱ τὰ ὑψηλὰ πετόμενοι, καὶ τῶν ἐπιγείων καὶ κοσμικῶν ἀνενηγμένοι πραγυάτων, ἐπʼ αἰτὸν συνδραμοῦνται (Cyr. Alex., Migne, 52:848). Justorum animæ aquilis comparantur, quod alta petant, humilia derelinquant, longævam ducere ferantur atatem (Ambr., Migne, 15:1781). Comp. Paschasius Radbertus on Matthew 24:28.

Didon, Père Didon, Jésus Christ

It were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he cast into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones.
Take heed to yourselves: If thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive him.
And if he trespass against thee seven times in a day, and seven times in a day turn again to thee, saying, I repent; thou shalt forgive him.
And the apostles said unto the Lord, Increase our faith.
And the Lord said, If ye had faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye might say unto this sycamine tree, Be thou plucked up by the root, and be thou planted in the sea; and it should obey you.
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?
And will not rather say unto him, Make ready wherewith I may sup, and gird thyself, and serve me, till I have eaten and drunken; and afterward thou shalt eat and drink?
Doth he thank that servant because he did the things that were commanded him? I trow not.
So likewise ye, when ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants: we have done that which was our duty to do.
And it came to pass, as he went to Jerusalem, that he passed through the midst of Samaria and Galilee.
And as he entered into a certain village, there met him ten men that were lepers, which stood afar off:
And they lifted up their voices, and said, Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.
And when he saw them, he said unto them, Go shew yourselves unto the priests. And it came to pass, that, as they went, they were cleansed.
And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, and with a loud voice glorified God,
And fell down on his face at his feet, giving him thanks: and he was a Samaritan.
And Jesus answering said, Were there not ten cleansed? but where are the nine?
There are not found that returned to give glory to God, save this stranger.
And he said unto him, Arise, go thy way: thy faith hath made thee whole.
And when he was demanded of the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God should come, he answered them and said, The kingdom of God cometh not with observation:
Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.
And he said unto the disciples, The days will come, when ye shall desire to see one of the days of the Son of man, and ye shall not see it.
And they shall say to you, See here; or, see there: go not after them, nor follow them.
For as the lightning, that lighteneth out of the one part under heaven, shineth unto the other part under heaven; so shall also the Son of man be in his day.
But first must he suffer many things, and be rejected of this generation.
And as it was in the days of Noe, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of man.
They did eat, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, and the flood came, and destroyed them all.
Likewise also as it was in the days of Lot; they did eat, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they builded;
But the same day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven, and destroyed them all.
Even thus shall it be in the day when the Son of man is revealed.
In that day, he which shall be upon the housetop, and his stuff in the house, let him not come down to take it away: and he that is in the field, let him likewise not return back.
Remember Lot's wife.
Whosoever shall seek to save his life shall lose it; and whosoever shall lose his life shall preserve it.
I tell you, in that night there shall be two men in one bed; the one shall be taken, and the other shall be left.
Two women shall be grinding together; the one shall be taken, and the other left.
Two men shall be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left.
And they answered and said unto him, Where, Lord? And he said unto them, Wheresoever the body is, thither will the eagles be gathered together.
ICC New Testament commentary on selected books

Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.

Bible Hub
Luke 16
Top of Page
Top of Page