Confraternity Bible: New Testament and Supplemental Commentary

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LUKE - Chapter 9

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Luke 9

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)

3.  Second Period of the Ministry in Galilee and Across Its Lake  6, 17 -- 9, 17 (continued)

9, 1-11:  The Mission of the Apostles.    1-5.  Commission and instruction of the Apostles: parallels in Matt. 10, 1.9-11.14 and Mark 6, 7-11.    6.  Ministry of the Apostles: parallel in Mark 6, 12 f.    7-9.  Opinion of Herod and the people concerning Jesus: parallels in Matt. 14, 1 f and Mark 6, 14-16.  From Luke's account alone one might be led to think that Herod himself did not accept the popular notion that Jesus was the Baptist come back to life.  But from the other Synoptic Gospels it is certain that Herod himself believed in this idea of the people.  This is the only time that Luke speaks of the death of the Baptist.    10a.  Return of the Apostles: parallel in Mark 6, 30.    10b-11.  Across the lake: parallels in Matt. 14, 13 f; Mark 6, 31-34; John 6, 1-3.

9, 12-17:  Jesus Feeds Five Thousand.  Parallels in Matt. 14, 15-21; Mark 6, 35-44; John 6, 4-13.  Luke has the shortest account of this miracle and records nothing that is not known from the other Gospels.

It is rather surprising that Luke has nothing at all of the following events of our Lord's life as recorded in the other two Synoptic Gospels: the walking of Jesus and Peter upon the water, the miraculous cures at Genesareth, the dispute about the traditions of the ancients, the cure of the daughter of the Syrophoenician woman, the cure of the deaf-mute and the other miracles in Decapolis, the second multiplication of the loaves, the warning against the leaven of the Pharisees, and the cure of the blind man at Bethsaida (Matt. 14, 22 -- 16, 12; Mark 6, 45 -- 8, 26).  This is sometimes called "The Great Omission" of the Third Gospel.  Those who hold that Luke used the Gospel of St. Mark as one of the sources of his Gospel have various ways of explaining why this whole section of Mark's Gospel was omitted by St. Luke.

4.  Ministry Mostly in the Regions Bordering on Galilee  9, 18-50

9, 18-22:  Peter's Confession; Passion and Resurrection Foretold.    18-21.  Peter's avowal of his faith in Christ: parallels in Matt. 16, 13-20 and Mark 8, 27-30.    18.  Luke does not mention the locality, but he alone tells us that Jesus offered up special prayers before this important occasion, as also before the choice of the Apostles (6, 12).    20.  The Christ of God: i.e., the Anointed of God, a phrase peculiar to Luke (cf. 2, 26).  Peter's full confession and Christ's response to it are recorded in Matt. 16, 16-19.    22.  The first prediction of the Passion and Resurrection: parallels in Matt. 16, 21 and Mark 8, 31.  Luke omits Peter's remonstrance and Christ's rebuke to him (cf. Matt. 16, 22 f; Mark 8, 32 f).

9, 23-27:  The Doctrine of the Cross.  Parallels in Matt. 16, 24-28 and Mark 8, 34-39.    23.  The word daily is in Luke alone.  This shows clearly that our Lord is speaking of the cross in a figurative sense, for a man cannot be crucified in the literal sense every day.  We must take up the cross of self-denial anew every day, if we are to persevere in the following of Christ.

9, 28-36:  Jesus Transfigured.  Parallels in Matt. 17, 1-8 and Mark 9, 1-7.    28.  To pray: Luke again notes the prayer of Christ before an important event.    31.  His death: literally, "His departure," i.e., from this life.  This shows the intimate connection between the Transfiguration and Christ's death: our Lord revealed His glory to these Apostles to prepare them for the scandal of the Cross.  To fulfill: Christ's death was a fulfillment of the will of the Father as expressed in the prophecies of the Old Testament.

32.  Peculiar to Luke.  Note the similarity between this scene and that of the Agony in the Garden: in both places the same three Apostles are taken by Christ apart from the others to pray (28), and in both places they become drowsy while He prays alone.  When they were fully awake, they saw . . . : It seem that the Apostles witnessed neither the beginning nor the end of the Transfiguration (see Commentary on Mark 9, 7).    33.  As they were parting: apparently the sight of the departure of Moses and Elias induced Peter to make the offer of erecting tents for them, as if he could thus detain them.    36b.  These there Apostles kept the Transfiguration a secret because Christ had commanded them to do so (cf. Matt. 17, 9; Mark 9, 8 f).  Luke has nothing of the following discussion about the coming of Elias (cf. Matt. 17, 9-13; Mark 9, 8-12).

9, 37-44a:  A Possessed Boy.  Parallels in Matt. 17, 14-20 and Mark 9, 13-28.  Luke's account, which is the shortest of the three, is much more similar to Matthew's than to Mark's.    38.  He is my only child: literally "my only-begotten one"; Luke alone strikes this note of  pathos.    44a.  Majesty: the only other occurrence of this Greek word in the New Testament is in 2 Pet. 1, 16, the "grandeur" of Christ at the Transfiguration; literally it signifies "the manifestation of greatness or of great works."

9, 44b-45:  The Second Prediction of the Passion.  Parallels in Matt. 17, 21 f and Mark 9, 29-31.    44b.  As given in our text, the sense seems to be, "Remember what I am now telling you, namely, that the Son of Man is to be betrayed . . ."  But words may be used here in the sense of "things, events" as often in Greek; the sense would then be, "Remember these marvelous things which you have witnessed."  In the Greek and the Latin text the following phrase is, "For the Son of Man . . ."  Hence, not only the Transfiguration but also the miracles of Christ were to serve the Apostles as reminders of His divinity when they would see Him humiliated in the Passion.

9, 46-50:  Against Ambition and Envy.    46-48.  Against ambition: parallels in Matt. 18, 1-5 and Mark 9, 32-36.    49 f.  Against envy: parallel in Mark 9, 37-39.

5. Ministry on the Journey to Jerusalem  9, 51 -- 18, 34

This section, commonly called the Perean ministry and recorded to a large extent by St. Luke alone, gives the journey of Jesus towards Jerusalem after he had left Galilee.  John also mentions some important events belonging to this same period.  Very little of this part of the Third Gospel has parallel passages in Mark, but there is a considerable amount in this section of Luke which is found in various parts of the First Gospel.  Some authors do not take all these events, which are recorded in this section of Luke, as happening in chronological order on one long journey made continuously in the direction towards Jerusalem; for, even though indications of time and place are very rare in this section, we find our Lord successively in Samaria (9, 52), at Bethany (10, 38), in Herod's domain (13, 31), "passing between Samaria and Galilee" (17, 11), and finally at Jericho (18, 35), where Luke's narrative again joins that of Matthew and Mark.  Perhaps it is best to consider our Lord's wanderings during this period as a general missionary tour in various directions, but outside of Galilee, and with the intention of arriving ultimately in Jerusalem (cf. 9, 51; 9, 57; 10, 1; 13, 22; 14, 25; 18, 31).

9, 51-56:  The Unfriendly Samaritans.    51.  To be taken up seems to refer to the Ascension rather than directly to Christ's death.  He steadfastly set his face expresses Christ's determined will to do, suffer and die at Jerusalem as His Father had decreed; cf. Isa. 50, 7.    54.  See Commentary on Mark 3, 17.  Some Greek manuscripts add to the Apostle's question the gloss, "As Elias did" (cf. 4 Kgs. 1, 9-14).    55 f.  On the testimony of the best manuscripts the critical editions of the Greek text reject this saying of Christ as unauthentic.  The words for the Son of Man . . . to save them may indeed have been adapted here from Christ's words in 19, 10 (cf. also John 3, 17).  If genuine, these words may be understood in the sense, "You should not seek personal revenge but should be willing to forgive injuries" (cf. the response of David in 2 Kgs. 16, 10), or in the sense, "You are led rather by the spirit of Satan than by the Spirit of God" (cf. Matt. 16, 23).

9, 57-62:  Sacrifice to Follow Christ.  The first two incidents mentioned here (57-60) are given in Matt. 8, 19-22 as happening much earlier in the Ministry.  But they seem more likely to have occurred, as Luke states, during the journey to Jerusalem, for now rather than during the Galilean ministry could Jesus well say, that the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.    61 f.  Jesus demands an absolute detachment even from family ties in those whom He calls to be His most intimate followers (cf. 14, 25 f).  But this is not demanded of all Christians, as is clear from the Epistles of the New Testament.    62.  The figure is taken from the agricultural life of the Holy Land.  There the plowman must constantly keep his eyes on the furrow, lest his plow strike against the numerous rocks which often dot the Palestinian soil.  So also the disciple of Jesus must give his undivided attention to his vocation and devote himself unreservedly to the Kingdom of God.  These three incidents were probably a part of the sifting out of the candidates preparatory to the sending forth of the seventy-two disciples (cf. the words Now after this in the next v.).

Confraternity Bible:

The Mission of the Apostles  1 Then having summoned the twelve apostles, he gave them power and authority over all the devils, and to cure diseases.  2 And he sent them forth to preach the kingdom of God, and to heal the sick.  3 And he said to them, "Take nothing for your journey, neither staff, nor wallet, nor bread, nor money; neither have two tunics.  4 And whatever house you enter, stay there, and do not leave the place.  5 And whoever does not receive you---go forth from that town, and shake off even the dust from your feet for a witness against them."  6 And going forth, they went about from village to village, preaching the gospel and working cures everywhere.

7 Now Herod the tetrarch heard of all that was being done by him, and was much perplexed, because it was said 8 by some, "John has risen from the dead"; and by some, "Elias has appeared"; and by others, "One of the prophets of old has risen again."  9 But Herod said, "John I beheaded; but who is this about whom I hear such things?"  And he endeavored to see him.

10  And the apostles on their return reported to him all that they had done.  And taking them with him, he withdrew apart to a desert place, which belongs to Bethsaida.  11 But the crowds on learning it followed him.  And he welcomed them, and spoke to them of the kingdom of God, and those in need of cure he healed.

Jesus Feeds Five Thousand  12 Now the day began to decline; and the Twelve came up and said to him, "Send the crowds away, so that they may go into the villages and farms roundabout and find lodging and provisions, for we are in a desert place here."  13 But he said to them, "You yourselves give them some food."  And they said, "We have not more than five loaves and two fishes, unless we are to go and buy food for all this crowd."  14 For there were about five thousand men present.

Then he said to his disciples, "Make them recline in groups of fifties."  15 And they did so, and made them all recline.  16 And he took the five loaves and two fishes, and looking up to heaven, blessed them and broke the loaves, and gave them to his disciples to set before the crowds.  17 And all ate and were satisfied; and what was left over to them was gathered up, twelve baskets of fragments.

Peter's Confession  18 And it came to pass as he was praying in private, that his disciples also were with him, and he asked them, saying, "Who do the crowds say that I am?"  19 And they answered and said, "John the Baptist; and others, Elias; and others, that one of the ancient prophets has risen again."

20 And he said to them, "But who do you say that I am?"  Simon Peter answered and said, "The Christ of God."  21* But he strictly charged them, and commanded them not to tell this to anyone, 22 saying, "The Son of Man must suffer many things, and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and Scribes, and be put to death, and on the third day rise again."

The Doctrine of the Cross  23 And he said to all, "If anyone wishes to come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.  24 For he who would save his life will lose it; but he who loses his life for my sake will save it.  25 For what does it profit a man, if he gain the whole world, but ruin or lose himself?  26 For whoever is ashamed of me and my words, of him will the Son of Man be ashamed when he comes in his glory and that of the Father and of the holy angels.  27 But I say to you truly, there are some of those standing here who will not taste death, till they have seen the kingdom of God."

Jesus Transfigured  28 Now it came to pass about eight days after these words, that he took Peter, James and John and went up the mountain to pray.  29 And as he prayed, the appearance of his countenance was changed, and his raiment became a radiant white.  30 And behold, two men were talking with him.  And these were Moses and Elias, 31 who, appearing in glory, spoke of his death, which he was about to fulfill in Jerusalem.

32 Now Peter and his companions were heavy with sleep.  But when they were fully awake, they saw his glory and the two men who were standing with him.  33 And it came to pass as they were parting from him, that Peter said to Jesus, "Master, it is good for us to be here.  And let us set up three tents, one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias," not knowing what he said.  34 But as he was speaking thus, there came a cloud and overshadowed them; and they were afraid as they entered the cloud.  35 And there came a voice out of the cloud, saying, "This is my beloved Son; hear him."  36 And they kept silence and told no one at that time any of these things that they had seen.

A Boy Possessed by a Devil  37 Now it came to pass on the following day, when they came down from the mountain, that a large crowd met him.  38 And behold, a man from the crowd cried out, saying, "Master, I pray thee to look at my son, for he is my only child; 39 and behold, a spirit seizes him and he suddenly cries out; and it throws him down and convulses him so that he foams, and bruising him sorely, it scarcely leaves him.  40 And I prayed thy disciples to cast it out, but they could not."

41 But Jesus answered and said, "O unbelieving and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you and put up with you?  Bring thy son here to me."  42 And as he was yet coming near, the devil cast him down and threw him into convulsions.  43 But Jesus rebuked the unclean spirit and healed the boy, and restored him to his father.  44 And all were astounded at the majesty of God.

Another Prediction of the Passion  But while all marveled at all the things that he was doing, he said to his disciples, "Store up these words in your minds: the Son of Man is to be betrayed into the hands of men."  45 But they did not understand this saying, and it was hidden from them, that they might not perceive it; and they were afraid to ask him about this saying.

Against Ambition and Envy  46 Now a discussion arose among them, which of them was the greatest.  47 But Jesus, knowing the reasoning of their heart, took a little child and set him at his side, 48 and said to them, "Whoever receives this little child for my sake, receives me; and whoever receives me, receives him who sent me.  For he who is the least among you, he is the greatest."

49 But John answered and said, "Master, we saw a man casting out devils in thy name, and we forbade him, because he does not follow with us."  50 And Jesus said to him, "Do not forbid him; for he who is not against you is for you.

The Unfriendly Samaritans  51 Now it came to pass, when the days had come for him to be taken up, that he steadfastly set his face to go to Jerusalem, 52 and sent messengers before him.  And they went and entered a Samaritan town to make ready for him; 53* and they did not receive him, because his face was set for Jerusalem.  54 But when his disciples James and John saw this, they said, "Lord, wilt thou that we bid fire come down from heaven and consume them?"

55 But he turned and rebuked them, saying, "You do not know of what manner of spirit you are; 56 for the Son of Man did not come to destroy men's lives, but to save them."  And they went to another village.

Sacrifice to Follow Christ  57 And it came to pass as they went on their journey, that a man said to him, "I will follow thee wherever thou goest."  58 And Jesus said to him, "The foxes have dens, and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head."

59 And he said to another, "Follow me."  But he said, "Lord, let me first go and bury my father."  60 But Jesus said to him, "Let the dead bury their dead, but do thou go and proclaim the kingdom of God."  61 And another said, "I will follow thee, Lord; but let me first bid farewell to those at home."  62* Jesus said to him, "No one, having put his hand to the plow and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God."


21: Before His Passion, Death and Resurrection, Jesus wished no open manifestation of His dignity, to preclude all hopes of a temporal messianic kingdom.

53: The Samaritans contended that their temple on Mount Garizim was the only legitimate place for worship and were hostile to anyone going to the temple of Jerusalem to worship.

62: Undivided attention is required of the disciples of Jesus.