Confraternity Bible: New Testament and Supplemental Commentary

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LUKE - Chapter 5

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Luke 5

Supplemental Commentary:

Note.  Only those parts of the Third Gospel that are peculiar to it are commented on here.  For all other parts the reader should consult the Commentaries on the parallel passages in the other Gospels.

I.  THE PUBLIC MINISTRY OF JESUS  3-21 (continued)

2.  The Inauguration of the Ministry in Galilee  4, 14 -- 6, 16 (continued)

5, 1-11:  The First Disciples Called.  Matt. 4, 18-22 and Mark 1, 16-20 give an account of the call of these four Apostles which is in some respects very similar to Luke's account and in other respects strikingly different.  In both accounts these disciples are fishing, but according to Matthew and Mark they are using the casting-net, according to Luke, apparently the drag-net.  Both accounts end by saying they left . . . and followed him, but according to the first two Gospels they left their father and his fishing business, according to Luke they left all.  Matthew and Mark place the call of these disciples at the very beginning of Christ's ministry at Capharnaum, while Luke places it at the end of the first sojourn at that town or even after Christ's first missionary journey through Galilee (4, 44).  Luke alone mentions the miraculous catch of fishes.  Many commentators think therefore, that the event mentioned by Luke happened on a different occasion from that mentioned by Matthew and Mark.  But many other commentators, harmonizing the differences in various ways, consider that these are merely two variant accounts of one and the same call of the four disciples while fishing.

1-3.  Cf. Mark 4, 1 where there is a similar account of Jesus teaching the crowd from a boat on another occasion.  (See on Matt. 8, 27.)    4.  The Greek word for nets is generic, including all varieties of fishing nets, but from the manner in which the net is used on this occasion it is hardly possible to identify the nets mentioned by Luke with the "casting-nets" mentioned by Matthew and Mark.    6.  When they had done so: evidently the they refers to Simon and his brother Andrew, although the latter is not mentioned by name in this episode as recorded by St. Luke.  A great number of fishes: cf. John 21, 6, where a similar, but certainly distinct, miracle is recorded.    7.  Their comrades in the other boat: evidently James and John are meant (cf. 10).    8.  Peter had witnessed many previous miracles of Christ but this was the first one that concerned him so intimately; in the presence of the supernatural he felt deeply the sense of his own unworthiness.    10.  Henceforth thou shalt catch men: a prophecy of the many souls that the Apostles under the primacy of St. Peter would win for Christ.    11.  Followed him: note that Luke does not record, as Matthew and Mark do, Christ's call, "Come, follow me."

5, 12-16:  A Leper.  Parallels in Matt. 8, 2-4 and Mark 1, 40-45.    16.  Luke alone records that our Lord was in prayer in the desert after this miracle, whereas Mark alone mentions that our Lord was praying in the desert shortly before this miracle (Mark 1, 35).

5, 17-26:  A Paralytic at Capharnaum.  Parallels in Matt. 9, 1-8 and Mark 2, 1-12.  V.17, which is peculiar to Luke, was clearly intended by the Evangelist as the introductory setting to the miracle that is narrated in the following verses.  Teachers of the law: merely a synonym for the Scribes mentioned in 21.  Out of Jerusalem: perhaps a delegation from the Sanhedrin as in Matt. 15, 1 (Mark 7, 1) and John 1, 19.  And the power of the Lord was present to heal them: the word them seems to refer to certain sick people who are not mentioned in the passage.  According to this reading the Lord is generally understood as meaning Christ.  But the best Greek manuscripts read, "And the power of the Lord was present for him to work cures."  According to this reading the Lord may be understood as meaning God the Father.

5, 27-32:  The Call of Levi.  Parallels in Matt. 9, 9-13 and Mark 2, 14-17.    30.  Why do you eat, etc.: the you includes Christ, for the question was intended as a slur upon Jesus in particular (cf. the wording of the question in the other Synoptics).

5, 33-39:  The Question of Fasting.  Parallels in Matt. 9, 14-17 and Mark 2, 18-22.    33.  And make supplications: John had taught his disciples certain definite formulas of prayer (cf. 11, 1).    36.  A patch from a new garment: the other Synoptics speak merely of "a patch of raw cloth."    39.  Peculiar to Luke.  Jesus explains that it is the extreme conservatism of the Pharisees and the disciples of John that prevents them from embracing the new teaching of Christ.  They are accustomed to the old and therefore prefer it to the new.

Confraternity Bible:

The First Disciples  1 Now it came to pass, while the crowds were pressing upon him to hear the word of God, that he was standing by Lake Genesareth.  2 And he saw two boats moored by the lake, but the fishermen had left them and were washing their nets.  3 And getting into one of the boats, the one that was Simon's, he asked him to put out a little from the land.  And sitting down, he began to teach the crowds from the boat.  4 But when he had ceased speaking, he said to Simon, "Put out into the deep, and lower your nets for a catch."

5 And Simon answered and said to him, "Master, the whole night through we have toiled and have taken nothing; but at thy word I will lower the net."  6 And when they had done so, they enclosed a great number of fishes, but their net was breaking.  7 And they beckoned to their comrades in the other boat to come and help them.  And they came and filled both the boats, so that they began to sink.

8 But when Simon Peter saw this, he fell down at Jesus' knees, saying, "Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord."  9 For he and all who were with him were amazed at the catch of fish they had made; 10 and so were also James and John, the sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon.  And Jesus said to Simon, "Do not be afraid; henceforth thou shalt catch men."  11 And when they had brought their boats to land, they left all and followed him.

A Leper is Cured  12 And it came to pass, while he was in one of the towns, that, behold, there was a man full of leprosy.  And when he saw Jesus he fell on his face and besought him, saying, "Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean."  13 And stretching forth his hand he touched him, saying, "I will; be thou made clean."  And immediately the leprosy left him.  14* And he charged him to tell no man, but, "Go, show thyself to the priest, and offer the gift for thy purification, as Moses commanded, for a witness to them."

15 But so much the more the tidings spread concerning him, and great crowds gathered together to hear him and to be cured of their sicknesses.  16 But he himself was in retirement in the desert, and in prayer.

17 And it came to pass on one of the days, that he sat teaching.  And there were Pharisees and teachers of the Law sitting by, who had come out of every village of Galilee and Judea and out of Jerusalem.  And the power of the Lord was present to heal them.

A Paralytic at Capharnaum  18 And behold, some men were carrying upon a pallet a man who was paralyzed, and they were trying to bring him in and to lay him before him.  19 And as they found no way of bringing him in, because of the crowd, they went up onto the roof and lowered him through the tiles, with his pallet, into the midst before Jesus.  20 And seeing their faith, he said, "Man, thy sins are forgiven thee."

21 And the Scribes and Pharisees began to argue, saying, "Who is this man who speaks blasphemies?  Who can forgive sins, but God only?"  22 But Jesus, knowing their thoughts, answered and said to them, "Why are you arguing in your hearts?  23 Which is easier, to say, 'Thy sins are forgiven thee,' or to say, 'Arise and walk'?  24 But that you may know that the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins"---he said to the paralytic---"I say to thee, arise, take up thy pallet and go to thy house."

25 And immediately he arose before them, took up what he had been lying on, and went away to his house, glorifying God.  26 And astonishment seized upon them all, and they glorified God and were filled with fear, saying, "We have seen wonderful things today."

The Call of Levi  27 And after this he went forth; and he saw a publican, named Levi, sitting in the tax-collector's place, and he said to him, "Follow me."  28 And leaving all things, he arose and followed him.  29 And Levi gave a great feast for him at his house; and there was a great gathering of publicans and of others, who were at the table with them.  30 And the Pharisees and their Scribes were grumbling, saying to his disciples, "Why do you eat and drink with publicans and sinners?"  31 And Jesus answered and said to them, "It is not the healthy who need a physician, but they who are sick.  32 I have not come to call the just, but sinners, to repentance."

The Question of Fasting  33 Now they said to him, "Why do the disciples of John fast often and make supplications, and likewise those of the Pharisees, whereas thy disciples eat and drink?"  34 He said to them, "Can you make the wedding guests fast as long as the bridegroom is with them?  35 But the days will come---and when the bridegroom shall be taken away from them, then they will fast in those days."

36* And he spoke a parable also to them, "No one puts a patch from a new garment on an old garment; else not only does he tear the new one, but the patch from the new garment does not match the old.  37* And no one pours new wine into old wine-skins; else the new wine will burst the skins, and will be spilt itself, and the skins ruined.  38* But new wine must be put into fresh skins, and both are saved.  39* And no man after drinking old wine immediately desires new; for he says, 'The old is better.'"


14: Through this offering the people knew that the leper had been declared cleansed by the priest and could communicate again with them.

36-39: In these two similes Jesus refers to the differences between the old dispensation, which was coming to an end, and the new order, which was foretold by the prophets and which He began to establish.  These two orders are incompatible and cannot be made to match.