Confraternity Bible: New Testament and Supplemental Commentary

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LUKE - Chapter 13

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Luke 13

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)

13, 1-5:  The Necessity of Repentance.    1.  We have no other record of this massacre of the Galileans in the temple, but this incident is entirely in keeping with what we know of Pilate's way of acting.    4.  Likewise the tower of Siloe and its fall is mentioned only here.  Perhaps this tower was a part of the structure of the old wall of the city near the pool of Siloe.  This incident was evidently still fresh in the minds of Christ's hearers.  The people readily saw in such misfortunes the punishment of God.  On this occasion our Lord does not contradict this popular idea as He does in John 9, 2 f, but He uses the opportunity to teach the people that they will all ultimately be punished by God if they do not repent and change their lives (3.5).

13, 6-9:  A Barren Fig Tree.  This parable is recorded here only, but there is a similar "parable in action" in Matt. 21, 18 f; Mark 11, 12-14.20.  Here, as in the preceding passage, the moral is, "The time for repentance is limited."    7.  For three years: this is merely a detail of the story and should not be cited as a proof that Christ's ministry lasted that long; actually the tree is given another year of grace (8).

13, 10-17:  A Stooped Woman.  This miracle is recorded here only, but cf. the similar disputes after other cures on the Sabbath in 6, 9; 14, 5; Matt. 12, 11; Mark 3, 4.    14.  The ruler of the synagogue does not dare to rebuke Jesus directly but satisfies his indignation by scolding the crowd for seeking cures on the Sabbath.  Actually the woman had not asked for this cure, but Jesus called her to him (12).

13, 18 f:  The Mustard Seed.  Parallels in Matt. 13, 31 f and Mark 4, 30-32.

13, 20 f:  The Leaven.  Parallel in Matt. 13, 33.

13, 22-30:  The Narrow Gate.    22 f.  Only in Luke.    23.  The question about the proportion of the saved to the damned has intrigued men of all ages.    24-30.  Christ does not satisfy our curiosity on this point, but simply warns us in substance, "Let each one be concerned about his own salvation.  Salvation is not easy and many will lose it."  All these words of Christ are recorded in various other contexts in Matthew.    24.  Cf. Matt. 7, 13 f.    25.  Cf. Matt. 25, 10-12.    26 f.  Cf. Matt. 7, 22 f.    28 f.  Cf. Matt. 8, 11 f.    30.  Cf. Matt. 19, 30; 20, 16.

13, 31-35:  Jesus and Herod.  This event, which is recorded by Luke alone, took place most likely in Perea, which was under Herod's jurisdiction.    31.  These Pharisees hardly said this out of a desire to save our Lord's life.  Whether their report was true or not, they hoped by this means to induce Jesus to leave their own district.    32.  Fox, more exactly "jackal," for the true fox is not a native of that part of the world.  The jackal was a symbol not only of deceit and cunning but also of cowardice.  Christ knew, even from a merely human viewpoint, that He had nothing to fear from Herod who was himself very much afraid of the opinions of the people (cf. Matt. 14, 5).  Jesus is not to die before the hour appointed by the Father.  In the meantime he will continue to cast out devils and perform cures without fear of Herod's threats (cf. John 11, 8-10).    33.  It will not be in Herod's domain but at Jerusalem that Jesus, according to the divine plan, is to be put to death.    34 f.  Jerusalem acted as if it had a special prerogative of killing the prophets.  The same words of our Lord are recorded in Matt. 23, 37-39 as spoken during Holy Week at Jerusalem.

Confraternity Bible:

The Necessity of Repentance  1 Now there came at that very time some who brought him word about the Galileans, whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices.

2 And he answered and said to them, "Do you think these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans, because they have suffered such things?  3 I tell you, no; but unless you repent, you will all perish in the same manner.  4 Or those eighteen upon whom the tower of Siloe fell and killed them; do you think that they were more guilty than all the other dwellers in Jerusalem?  5 I tell you, no; but unless you repent, you will all perish in the same manner."

A Barren Fig Tree  6 And he spoke this parable: "A certain man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard; and he came seeking fruit thereon, and found none.  7 And he said to the vine-dresser, 'Behold, for three years now I have come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and I find none.  Cut it down, therefore; why does it still encumber the ground?'  8 But he answered him and said, 'Sir, let it alone this year too, till I dig around it and manure it.  9 Perhaps it may bear fruit; but if not, then afterwards thou shalt cut it down.'"

A Stooped Woman  10 Now he was teaching in one of their synagogues on the Sabbath.  11 And behold, there was a woman who for eighteen years had had a sickness caused by a spirit; and she was bent over and utterly unable to look upwards.  12 When Jesus saw her, he called her to him and said to her, "Woman, thou art delivered from thy infirmity."  13 And he laid his hands upon her, and instantly she was made straight, and glorified God.

14 But the ruler of the synagogue, indignant that Jesus had cured on the Sabbath, addressed the crowd, saying, "There are six days in which one ought to work; on these therefore come and be cured, and not on the Sabbath."  15 But the Lord answered him and said, "Hypocrites! does not each one of you on the Sabbath loose his ox or ass from the manger, and lead it forth to water?  16 And this woman, daughter of Abraham as she is, whom Satan has bound, lo, for eighteen years, ought not she be loosed from this bond on the Sabbath?"

17 And as he said these things, all his adversaries were put to shame; and the entire crowd rejoiced at all the glorious things that were done by him.

The Mustard Seed  18 He said therefore, "What is the kingdom of God like, and to what shall I liken it?  19 It is like a grain of mustard seed, which a man took and cast into his own garden; and it grew and became a large tree, and the birds of the air dwelt in its branches."

The Leaven  20 And again he said, "To what shall I liken the kingdom of God?  21 It is like leaven, which a woman took and buried in three measures of flour, until all of it was leavened."

The Narrow Gate  22 And he passed on through towns and villages, teaching and making his way towards Jerusalem.  23 But someone said to  him, "Lord, are only a few to be saved?"

But he said to them, 24 "Strive to enter by the narrow gate; for many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able.  25 But when the master of the house has entered and shut the door, you will begin to stand outside and knock at the door, saying, 'Lord, open for us!'  And he shall say to you in answer, 'I do not know where you are from.'  26 Then you shall begin to say, 'We ate and drank in thy presence, and thou didst teach in our streets.'  27 And he shall say to you, 'I do not know where you are from.  Depart from me, all you workers of iniquity.'  28 There will be the weeping, and the gnashing of teeth, when you shall see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, but you yourselves cast forth outside.  29 And they will come from the east and from the west, from the north and from the south, and will feast in the kingdom of God.  30* And behold, there are those last who will be first, and there are those first who will be last."

Jesus and Herod  31 On that same day certain Pharisees came up, saying to him, "Depart and be on thy way, for Herod wants to kill thee."  32 And he said to them, "Go and say to that fox, 'Behold, I cast out devils and perform cures today and tomorrow, and the third day I am to end my course.  33 Nevertheless, I must go my way today and tomorrow and the next day, for it cannot be that a prophet perish outside Jerusalem.'

34 "Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou who killest the prophets, and stonest those who are sent to thee!  How often would I have gathered thy children together, as a hen gathers her young under her wings, but thou wouldst not!  35 Behold, your house is left to you.  And I say to you, you shall not see me until the time comes when you shall say, 'Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!'"


30: Many Gentiles will be called to salvation and take the place destined for the chosen people of Israel.