Confraternity Bible: New Testament and Supplemental Commentary

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LUKE - Chapter 11

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Luke 11

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)

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

11, 1-13:  Lessons on Prayer.    1-4.  The Our Father.  Matt. 6, 9-13 has this prayer in the Sermon on the Mount.  It can readily be granted that Jesus spoke to His disciples more than once on the important subject of prayer, although 1 f seem to imply that this was the first occasion on which Jesus taught them a definite formula of prayer.  But even though the First Gospel may not have the Our Father in its proper chronological place, Matthew has preserved this beautiful prayer in a more perfect form.

5-8.  Under the form of the little parable of the Persistent Friend, Jesus teaches us to persevere in our prayers of petition; cf. 18, 1-8.    9-13.  Parallel in Matt. 7, 7-11 (the Sermon on the Mount).    11. Peculiar to Luke is the mention of the egg and the scorpion.  The scorpion can roll itself up into a sort of ball and thus have a slight resemblance to an egg.    13.  Note Luke's Good Spirit in place of Matthew's good things.  We are not forbidden to pray for the things of this world, but it is far better to pray for spiritual gifts.

11, 14-26:  Blasphemy of the Pharisees.  Matt. 12, 22-37 and Mark 3, 22-30 place this dispute as happening earlier in Galilee, and in a somewhat different order.    14 f.  The accusation that Jesus casts out devils by Beelzebub: parallels in Matt. 12, 22-24 and Mark 3, 22.    16.  The demand for a sign from heaven: parallel in Matt. 12, 38.    17-23.  Parables of the Divided House and the Strong Man: parallels in Matt. 12, 25-30 and Mark 3, 23-27.  Luke has the longest and most detailed form of the latter parable.    24-26.  The return of the unclean spirit: parallel in Matt. 12, 43-45.

11, 27 f:  The Praise of Mary.    27.  Instead of saying simply, "Fortunate is thy mother," this woman singles out two characteristics of motherhood in the typical parallelism of Hebrew poetry.    28.  Jesus does not forbid this woman to praise His mother, but He stresses the point that spiritual is above physical relationship and, at least implicitly, states that Mary is to be felicitated more for keeping the word of God than for being chosen to be His mother.

11, 29-32:  The Sign of Jonas.  This is the answer to the demand made in 16.  Parallel in Matt. 12, 39-42; cf. also Matt. 16, 4b; Mark 8, 12.

11, 33-36:  A Lesson from a Lamp.    33.  The lamp upon the lamp-stand: a proverbial saying, spoken by Christ in other contexts also; cf. 8, 16; Mark 4, 21 (in regard to the purpose of the parables); Matt. 5, 15 (in regard to good example, in the Sermon on the Mount).  Here, if this saying has a connection with its context, the meaning seems to be, "You should use the spiritual light that you have received, and you will recognize who I am."    34-36.  Similar words of Christ in Matt. 6, 22 f (on singleness of purpose, in the Sermon on the Mount).  For the meaning in this passage, see note to the text.

11, 37-44:  Denunciation of the Pharisees.  Matthew has these and the following sayings of Jesus (45-52) in his "Woes to the Scribes and Pharisees" as spoken by Christ during Holy Week (Matt. 23, 13-36).  In the First Gospel all these Woes are directed against both the Pharisees and the Scribes or lawyers together, whereas in the Third Gospel there are there Woes directly against the Pharisees (42-44) and three directly against the Lawyers (46-52).  If spoken only once by Christ, both the form and the context favor the position in Luke as the original place.

37 f.  For other banquets given to Christ by the Pharisees, cf. 7, 36; 14, 1.    38.  For a similar accusation made by the Scribes and Pharisees against the disciples, cf. Matt. 15, 1; Mark 7, 1-5.    39 f.  Cf. Matt. 23, 25 f.    41.  See note to the text.    42.  Cf. Matt. 23, 23.    43.  Cf. 20, 46b; Matt. 23, 6-7a; Mark 12, 38b-39.    44.  Cf. Matt. 23, 27, where the thought is somewhat different.

11, 45-54:  Denunciation of the Lawyers.    45.  The Scribes or lawyers naturally felt offended at Christ's denunciation of the Pharisees, for the latter merely put into practice what was taught by the former.    46.  Cf. Matt. 23, 4.    47-51.  Cf. Matt. 23, 29-35.    52.  Cf. Matt. 23, 13.  The key of knowledge: i.e., the key that opens the door to knowledge.  The only knowledge that Christ was concerned with is the knowledge of God and of His holy will.  Worldly knowledge, like worldly wealth often tends to the greater harm of fallen man.    53 f.  Peculiar to Luke.    But this was the typical attitude of the Scribes and Pharisees towards Christ throughout His ministry and especially during its last period.

Confraternity Bible:

Lessons on Prayer  1* And it came to pass as he was praying in a certain place, that when he ceased, one of his disciples said to him, "Lord, teach us to pray, even as John also taught his disciples."  2* And he said to them, "When you pray, say:
'Father, hallowed by thy name. 

Thy kingdom come! 

3* Give us this day our daily bread,

4* And forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who is indebted to us. 

And lead us not into temptation.'"
5 And he said to them, "Which of you shall have a friend and shall go to him in the middle of the night and say to him, 'Friend, lend me three loaves, 6 for a friend of mine has just come to me from a journey, and I have nothing to set before him'; 7 and he from within should answer and say, 'Do not disturb me; the door is now shut, and my children and I are in bed; I cannot get up and give to thee'?

8 "I say to you, although he will not get up and give to him because his is his friend, yet because of his persistence he will get up and give him all he needs.  9 And I say to you, ask, and it shall be given to you; seek, and you shall find; knock, and it shall be opened to you.  10 For everyone who asks receives; and he who seeks finds; and to  him who knocks it shall be opened.  11 But if one of you asks his father for a loaf, will he hand him a stone? or for a fish, will he for a fish hand him a serpent? 12 or if he asks for an egg, will he hand him a scorpion?  13 Therefore, if you, evil as you are, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Good Spirit to those who ask him!"

Blasphemy of the Pharisees  14 And he was casting out a devil, and the same was dumb; and when he had cast out the devil, the dumb man spoke.  And the crowds marvelled.  15 But some of them said, "By Beelzebub, the prince of devils, he casts out devils."  16 And others, to test him, demanded from him a sign from heaven.

17 But he, seeing their thoughts, said to them: "Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation, and house will fall upon house.  18 If, then, Satan also is divided against himself, how shall his kingdom stand?  Because you say that I cast out devils by Beelzebub.  19* Now, if I cast devils by Beelzebub, by whom do your children cast them out?  Therefore they shall be your judges.  20 But if I cast out devils by the finger of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.  21 When the strong man, fully armed, guards his courtyard, his property is undisturbed.  22 But if a stronger than he attacks and overcomes him, he will take away all his weapons that he relied upon, and will divide his spoils.  23 He who is not with me is against me; and he who does not gather with me scatters.

24 "When the unclean spirit has gone out of a man, he roams through waterless places in search of rest; and finding none, he says, 'I will return to my house which I left.'  25 And when he as come to it, he finds the place swept.  26 Then he goes and takes seven other spirits more evil than himself, and they enter in and dwell there; and the last state of that man becomes worse than the first."

The Praise of Mary  27 Now it came to pass as he was saying these things, that a certain woman from the crowd lifted up her voice and said to him, "Blessed is the womb that bore thee, and the breasts that nursed thee."  28 But he said, "Rather, blessed are they who hear the word of God and keep it."

The Sign of Jonas  29 And as the crowds were gathering together, he began to say, "This generation is an evil generation: it demands a sign, and no sign shall be given it but the sign of Jonas.  30 For even as Jonas was a sign to the Ninevites, so will also the Son of Man be to this generation.  31 The queen of the South will rise up in the judgment with the men of this generation and will condemn them; for she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon, and behold, a greater than Solomon is here.  32 The men of Nineve will rise up in the judgment with this generation and will condemn it; for they repented at the preaching of Jonas, and behold, a greater than Jonas is here.

A Lesson from a Lamp  33 "No one lights a lamp and puts it in a cellar or even under the measure, but upon the lamp-stand, that they who enter in may see the light.  34 The lamp of thy body is thy eye.  If thy eye be sound, thy whole body will be full of light.  But if it be evil, thy body also will be full of darkness.  35 Take care, therefore, that the light that is in thee is not darkness.  36 If, then, thy whole body is full of light, having no part in darkness, it will all be illuminated, as when a bright lamp illumines thee."

Denunciation of the Pharisees  37 Now after he had spoken, a Pharisee asked him to dine with him.  And he went in and reclined at table.  38 But the Pharisee began to ponder and ask himself why he had not washed before dinner.

39 But the Lord said to him, "Now you Pharisees clean the outside of the cup and the dish, but within you are full of robbery and wickedness.  40 Foolish ones! did not he who made the outside make the inside too?  41 Nevertheless, give that which remains as alms; and behold, all things are clean to you.

42 "But woe to you Pharisees! because you pay tithes on mint and rue and every herb, and disregard justice and the love of God.  But these things you ought to have done, while not leaving the others undone.  43 Woe to you Pharisees! because you love the front seats in the synagogues and greetings in the market place.  44 Woe to you! because you are like hidden tombs, over which men walk unaware."

Denunciation of the Lawyers  45 But one of the lawyers, answering, said to him, "Master, in saying these things, thou insultest us also."  46 But he said, "Woe to you lawyers also! because you load men with oppressive burdens and you yourselves with one of your fingers do not touch the burdens.  47 Woe to you! for you build the tombs of the prophets, whereas your fathers killed them.  48 So then you are witnesses and approve the deeds of your fathers; for they indeed killed them, and you build their tombs.  49 For this reason also the wisdom of God has said, 'I will send them prophets and apostles; and some of them they will put to death and persecute, 50 that the blood of all the prophets that has been shed from the foundation of the world may be required of this generation, 51 from the blood of Abel unto the blood of Zacharias, who was slain between the altar and the temple.'  Yes, I say to you, it shall be required of this generation.  52 Woe to you lawyers! because you have taken away the key of knowledge; you have not entered yourselves and those who were entering you have hindered."

53 After he had said these things to them, the Pharisees and the lawyers began to press him hard and to provoke him to speak on many things, 54 setting traps for him and plotting to seize upon something out of his mouth, that they might accuse him.


1-4: Luke gives only five petitions of the Our Father, whereas there are seven in the first Gospel.

19: The "children" of the Pharisees are their disciples.  They taught them formulas and practices to cast out devils.