Confraternity Bible: New Testament and Supplemental Commentary

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LUKE - Chapter 17

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Luke 17

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)

17, 1 f:  Avoiding Scandal.  The same saying of Christ is recorded in a different context in Matt. 18, 6 f; Mark 9, 41.

17, 3 f:  Forgiveness of Injuries.  There is a very similar saying of our Lord in Matt. 18, 15a.21 f.

17, 5 f:  Efficacy of Faith.    5.  Cf. Mark 9, 23.    6.  Similar words of Christ are recorded in Matt. 17, 19; 21, 21; Mark 11, 23.

17, 7-10:  The Unprofitable Servant.  Peculiar to Luke.  By this little parable, taken from daily experience in life, Christ wished primarily to teach His disciples the necessity of being humble in their service of God.  Unlike the Pharisees who boast of their good deeds, the lowly disciples of Jesus should recognize that they are only doing their duty towards God and should not pride themselves on their diligence and obedience.    7.10.  Servant: more exactly "slave," who has not the right of wages that a hired servant would have.  So also God's creatures have no right to complain if at times during life He may seem to them to be a hard master.  We should be glad for the privilege of serving the good God even without hope of a reward.  But elsewhere Christ teaches expressly that a great reward awaits the just in heaven, (6, 23.35), and it is right and proper to use the hope of this reward as one of the motives for serving God.

17, 11-19:  Ten Lepers.  Only in Luke, who mentions this incident not merely for the sake of recording another of Christ's miracles but also to teach a lesson on gratitude.    11.  Perhaps near Engannim where the road from Galilee running south towards Jerusalem enters the hill country of Samaria, or near Bethsan, if on this particular journey to Jerusalem Jesus passed through Perea rather than through Samaria.    14.  Show yourselves to the priests: see Commentary on Matt. 8, 4.  As they were on their way: hence Jesus delayed their cure in order to test their faith through obedience.    16.  And he was a Samaritan: in this typical Lucan style (cf. "And she was a widow" in 7, 12) the Evangelist implies that from a Jewish viewpoint this despised foreigner would have seemed the least likely to thank God and Jesus who cured him.  The text does not state explicitly that all the others who were cured were Jews, but this seems implied and is the common opinion.    19.  Cf. 7, 50; 8, 48; 18, 42.

17, 20-37:  Coming of the Kingdom of God.  Vv.20 f, concerning the first coming of Christ, are peculiar to Luke.  The following verses, on His Second Coming, are largely paralleled in the eschatological discourse of the First Gospel.

20.  The sense of the question, as proposed by the Pharisees, is, "When is the Messias coming to establish the Messianic kingdom?"  Unawares, not in the sense of "unexpectedly" but in the sense of "without being easily noticed"; the original is literally, "The kingdom of God does not come with observation."  The Pharisees expected certain clear and definitive "signs from heaven" (cf. 11, 16.29) which would unequivocally point out the Messias.    21.  Within you: see note to text.  Some interpreters understand these words to mean, "Within your hearts."  This indeed is a true concept, for the kingdom of God is essentially something spiritual.  But this is hardly the sense in the present context, for Christ would not have said to the Pharisees, "The kingdom of God is in your hearts."

22.  The sense is uncertain.  Many understand one day of the Son of Man to mean "one day of my mortal life on earth"; our Lord would then say in substance, "The time is coming when you, my disciples, will long for the comfort of my visible presence, such as you are now enjoying, but you will not have it."  However, in all the following context the expression the day of the Son of Man refers to the Second Coming of Christ and, to be consistent, it should also have the same meaning here.  Therefore it seems more probable that our Lord means, "Times of persecution await you when you will long to see me; but you shall seek me in vain."    23 f.  Cf. the same words in Matt. 24, 26 f.    25.  These words are only in Luke.  Christ speaks of the necessity of His sufferings and death before He can appear in glory (cf. 24, 26).

26 f.  Cf. the very similar words in Matt. 24, 37-39.    28-30.  Only in Luke, but the thought is the same as in the preceding verses.  The account of the destruction of Sodom is given in Gen. 19.    30.  There are two points of similarity between these two early catastrophes and the coming of Christ at the end of the world: (a) all three events are sudden and unexpected; (b) men are engrossed in worldly affairs and found unprepared.    31.  In Matt. 24, 17 these words are to be understood literally, warning the Christians at the destruction of Jerusalem to flee at once from the doomed city.  But here the sense is rather, "Do not be too attached to your earthly possessions."    32.  Cf. Gen. 19, 26.  Lot's wife looked back towards Sodom because she was attached to her home there.  "Beware, lest the same fate befall you for being too attached to the things of this world."    33.  This saying was used frequently by our Lord, generally in regard to persecution (cf. 9, 24; Matt. 10, 39; John 12, 25).  Here the sense is more general, "He who loves the life of this world too much will lose the true life of heaven."    34 f.  Cf. Matt. 24, 40 f, where the thought is the same.  V.34 is peculiar to Luke.  In v.35 the words Two men will be in the field, etc., were incorporated here from Matthew, for they are not in the Greek text of Luke.

36.  The sense of the question is, "Where, Lord, wilt thou appear on earth at thy Second Coming?    37.  Cf. Matt. 24, 28.

Confraternity Bible:

Avoiding Scandal  1 And he said to his disciples, "It is impossible that scandals should not come; but woe to him through whom they come!  2 It were better for him if a millstone were hung about his neck and he were thrown into the sea, than that he should cause one of these little ones to sin.

Forgiveness of Injuries  3 "Take heed to yourselves.  If thy brother sin, rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive him.  4 And if seven times in the day he sin against thee, and seven times in the day turn back to thee, saying, 'I repent,' forgive him."

Efficacy of Faith  5 And the apostles said to the Lord, "Increase our faith."  6 And the Lord answered, "If you have faith even like a mustard seed, you will say to this mulberry tree, 'Be uprooted and be planted in the sea,' and it will obey you.

The Unprofitable Servant  7 "But which of you is there, having a servant plowing or tending sheep, who will say to him on his return from the field, 'Come at once and recline at table!'  8 But will he not say to him, 'Prepare my supper, and gird thyself and serve me till I have eaten and drunk; and afterwards thou thyself shalt eat and drink'?  9 Does he thank that servant for doing what he commanded him?  10 I do not think so.  Even so you also, when you have done everything that was commanded you, say, 'We are unprofitable servants; we have done what it was our duty to do.'"

Ten Lepers  11 And it came to pass as he was going to Jerusalem, that he was passing between Samaria and Galilee.  12 And as he was entering a certain village, there met him ten lepers, who stood afar off 13 and lifted up their voice, crying, "Jesus, master, have pity on us."  14 And when he saw them he said, "Go, show yourselves to the priests."  And it came to pass as they were on their way, that they were made clean.  15 But one of them, seeing that he was made clean, returned, with a loud voice glorifying God, 16 and he fell on his face at his feet, giving thanks; and he was a Samaritan.

17 But Jesus answered and said, "Were not the ten made clean?  But where are the nine?  18 Has no one been found to return and give glory to God except this foreigner?"  19 And he said to him, "Arise, go thy way, for thy faith has saved thee."

Coming of the Kingdom of God  20 And on being asked by the Pharisees, "When is the kingdom of God coming?" he answered and said to them, "The kingdom of God comes unawares.  21* Neither will they say, 'Behold, here it is,' or 'Behold, there it is.'  For behold, the kingdom of God is within you."

22 But he said to the disciples, "The days will come when you will long to see one day of the Son of Man, and will not see it.  23 And they will say to you, 'Behold, here he is; behold, there he is.'  Do not go, nor follow after them.  24 For as the lightning when it lightens flashes from one end of the sky to the other, so will the Son of Man be in his day.  25 But first he must suffer many things and be rejected by this generation.

26 "And as it came to pass in the days of Noe, even so will it be in the days of the Son of Man.  27 They were eating and drinking, they were marrying and giving in marriage, until the day when Noe entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all.  28 Or as it came to pass in the days of Lot.  They were eating and drinking, they were buying and selling, they were planting and building; 29 but on the day that Lot went out from Sodom, it rained fire and brimstone from heaven and destroyed them all.  30 In the same wise will it be on the day that the Son of Man is revealed.  31 In that hour let him who is on the housetop and his goods in the house, not go down to take them away; and likewise let him who is in the field not turn back.  32 Remember Lot's wife.  33 Whoever tries to save his life will lose it; and whoever loses it will preserve it.  34 I say to you, on that night there will be two on one bed; one will be taken, and the other will be left.  35 Two women will be grinding together; one will be taken, and the other will be left.  Two men will be in the field; one will be taken, and the other will be left."

36 And they answered and said to him, "Where, Lord?"  37 He said to them, "Wherever the body is, there will the eagles be gathered together."


21: Within you: i.e., in the midst of you and within your power to reach through faith, justice and love.  It has already begun and the Pharisees might recognize it if they had eyes to see and ears to hear.  The Messias is already reigning.