Jesus tells the Parable of the Persistent Widow; the Parable of the Pharisee and Tax Collector. Jesus says to allow the children to come to him. He dialogues with a rich young ruler. He foretells his death a third time. He heals a blind beggar.
As I write in every chapter:
This commentary and entire website is for everyone, but it is mainly for those in oppressed or developing countries, where Christians cannot afford or have access to wonderful Study Bibles or commentaries. I hope it helps them.
The translation is mine. I wrote it to learn what the Greek text really says. The translation tends to be literal, but complete literalism and readability are impossible, so adjustments had to be made. If readers don’t read Greek, they can ignore the left side of the tables. I include the language to check my work and for Greek readers, who can also check my translation.
If you would like to see other translations, please go to biblegateway.com. The Greek terms with brief definitions can be looked up at biblehub.com. However, I hope to bring different nuances to the few words I focus on. And I keep things nontechnical.
The commentary has a practical application (GrowApp) at the end of each section of Scripture, for discipleship.
Links are provided for further study.
Parable of the Widow and Unjust Judge (Luke 18:1-8)
|1 Ἔλεγεν δὲ παραβολὴν αὐτοῖς πρὸς τὸ δεῖν πάντοτε προσεύχεσθαι αὐτοὺς καὶ μὴ ἐγκακεῖν, 2 λέγων· κριτής τις ἦν ἔν τινι πόλει τὸν θεὸν μὴ φοβούμενος καὶ ἄνθρωπον μὴ ἐντρεπόμενος. 3 χήρα δὲ ἦν ἐν τῇ πόλει ἐκείνῃ καὶ ἤρχετο πρὸς αὐτὸν λέγουσα· ἐκδίκησόν με ἀπὸ τοῦ ἀντιδίκου μου. 4 καὶ οὐκ ἤθελεν ἐπὶ χρόνον. μετὰ δὲ ταῦτα εἶπεν ἐν ἑαυτῷ· εἰ καὶ τὸν θεὸν οὐ φοβοῦμαι οὐδὲ ἄνθρωπον ἐντρέπομαι, 5 διά γε τὸ παρέχειν μοι κόπον τὴν χήραν ταύτην ἐκδικήσω αὐτήν, ἵνα μὴ εἰς τέλος ἐρχομένη ὑπωπιάζῃ με. 6 Εἶπεν δὲ ὁ κύριος· ἀκούσατε τί ὁ κριτὴς τῆς ἀδικίας λέγει· 7 ὁ δὲ θεὸς οὐ μὴ ποιήσῃ τὴν ἐκδίκησιν τῶν ἐκλεκτῶν αὐτοῦ τῶν βοώντων αὐτῷ ἡμέρας καὶ νυκτός, καὶ μακροθυμεῖ ἐπ’ αὐτοῖς; 8 λέγω ὑμῖν ὅτι ποιήσει τὴν ἐκδίκησιν αὐτῶν ἐν τάχει. πλὴν ὁ υἱὸς τοῦ ἀνθρώπου ἐλθὼν ἆρα εὑρήσει τὴν πίστιν ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς;||1 He began to tell them a parable, in order to show that they must always pray and not be discouraged. 2 He said: “There was a judge in a particular town who did not fear God or respect any person. 3 There was a widow in that town who kept coming to him and saying, ‘Give me justice against my adversary!’ 4 And for a time he was unwilling, but afterwards he said to himself, ‘Even though I don’t fear God nor respect any person, 5 yet because this widow is bothering me, I’ll give her justice, so that in the end she won’t shame me by her coming.’” 6 The Lord said, “Listen to what the unjust judge said! 7 Won’t God give justice to his elect who cry out to him day and night? Indeed, he is waiting patiently for them to do this! 8 I tell you that he will give justice to them quickly! However, when the Son of Man comes, he won’t find faith on the earth, will he?|
This parable is a study in contrast. God is unlike the unjust judge. The judge delayed and was unwilling at first, until the widow bugged him to act. He was impatient and churlish. He acted only to save face, so he would not get a social “blackeye” from a widow. God, in contrast, will quickly give his elect (his followers) justice, when they ask. He is waiting patiently for them to pray and not be discouraged about their prayer life. If he delays an answer, it may be because the circumstances or the prayer warrior’s soul isn’t ready yet. His delay comes from a kind Father, not a mean judge.
“them” in the previous chapter he was talking to his disciples. There is no change of audience. He is still talking to them.
“parable”: literally, the noun parable (parabolē in Greek) combines para– (pronounced pah-rah and means “alongside”) and bolē (pronounced boh-lay and means “put” or even “throw”). Therefore, a parable puts two or more images or ideas alongside each other to produce a clear truth. It is a story or narrative or short comparison that reveals the kingdom of God and the right way to live in it and the Father’s ways of dealing with humanity and his divine plan expressed in his kingdom and life generally. The Shorter Lexicon says that the Greek word parabolē can sometimes be translated as “symbol,” “type,” “figure,” and “illustration,” the latter term being virtually synonymous with parable.
“must”: It comes from the word dei (pronounced day), and in some contexts it denotes a destiny orchestrated by God, as it does here. (Compare the French il faut, “one must” or “it is necessary,” if you know this language.) The Greek verb means: “it is necessary, one must … one ought or should … what one should do” (Shorter Lexicon). In Luke it often means divine necessity; that is, God is leading things: Luke 2:49; 4:43; 9:22; 12:12; 13:16, 33; 15:32; 17:25; 18:1; 19:5; 21:9; 22:37; 24:7; 24:26, 44; Acts 1:16; 1:21; 3:21; 4:12; 5:29; 9:6, 16; 14:22; 16:30; 17:3; 19:21; 20:35; 23:11; 25:10; 27:21; 27:24, 26. We must pray. It is a necessity.
“pray”: as noted throughout this commentary series, it is the very common verb proseuchomai (pronounced pros-yew-khoh-my) and appears 85 times. The noun proseuchē (pronounced pros-yew-khay) is used 36 times, so they are the most common words for prayer or pray in the NT. They are combined with the preposition pros, which means, among other things, “towards,” and euchē, which means a prayer, vow and even a mere wish. But Christians took over the word and directed it towards the living God; they leaned in toward him and prayed their requests fully expecting an answer. It is not a mere wish to a pagan deity.
Prayer flows out of confidence before God that he will answer because we no longer have an uncondemned heart (1 John 3:19-24); and we know him so intimately that we find out from him what is his will is and then we pray according to it (1 John 5:14-15); we pray with our Spirit-inspired languages (1 Cor. 14:15-16). Pray!
What Is Biblical Intercession?
“discouraged”: it comes from the verb engkakeō (pronounced eng-kah-keh-oh), and it is used only six times. The Shorter Lexicon says it means: “become weary, tired, lose heart, despair.” BDAG is considered the authoritative lexicon of the Greek NT, and it defines the verb, depending on the context, in this way: (1) “to lose one’s motivation in continuing a desirable pattern of conduct or activity, lose enthusiasm, be discouraged” (2 Thess. 3:13; Gal. 6:9 2 Cor. 4:1, 16; Eph. 3:13; Luke 18:1). This means our prayer life is a desirable pattern of conduct, and we can lose our enthusiasm or be discouraged, and so we stop praying. Further, BDAG defines it in another way: (2) “to be afraid in the face of a great difficulty, be afraid” (2 Cor 4:1; Eph. 3:13). We really can become afraid as we face difficulty.
Sometimes praying without seeing instant results can be discouraging, and we can lose heart or become weary as we wait for God to answer. Jesus told this parable to encourage us not to be discouraged or lose our enthusiasm. We have to keep praying even when we see a delay in our answer. Don’t despair, because he will answer you in his timing. And if he says no, he has something (or someone) better than what (or who) you prayed for. I have been zigzagging my way through life, having to make small or big adjustments, as I prayed. You do not always need what you pray for. It could damage your life. God knows what’s best for you. Trust him.
This verse and pericope (pronounced puh-RIH-koh-pea) or unit or section of Scripture may come from Ps. 25:2-3:
1 In you, Lord my God,
I put my trust.
2 I trust in you;
do not let me be put to shame,
nor let my enemies triumph over me.
3 No one who hopes in you
will ever be put to shame,
but shame will come on those
who are treacherous without cause. (Ps. 25:2-3, NIV)
On the last day, delay is ended and the mystery completed. But for right now, we still have the problem of evil. In these circumstances “we must pray and not give up” (Liefeld and Pao, comments on v. 1).
So Jesus introduces the first main character in this parable: the unjust judge. He does not fear God is defers to or cares about anyone. God will act in the opposite manner. No, he does not fear puny humankind, but he has regard for and cares about them.
“respect”: the Shorter Lexicon says it means, depending on the verb form and context: “make ashamed … be put to shame … have respect or regard for.”
“person”: it is the Greek noun anthrōpos (pronounced ahn-throw-poss), and even in the plural some interpreters say that it means only men. However, throughout the Greek written before and during the NT, in the plural it means people in general, including womankind (except rare cases). In the singular it can mean person, depending on the context. In Luke 2:25; 4:33; 6:6; 7:8, for example, the context says one man or male. So “person” or “people” or “men and women” (and so on) is almost always the most accurate translation, despite what more conservative translations say.
Background verses to what a judge is called to do:
5 He [King Jehoshaphat] appointed judges in the land, in each of the fortified cities of Judah. 6 He told them, “Consider carefully what you do, because you are not judging for mere mortals but for the Lord, who is with you whenever you give a verdict. 7 Now let the fear of the Lord be on you. Judge carefully, for with the Lord our God there is no injustice or partiality or bribery.” (2 Chron. 19:6-7, NIV)
Now Jesus introduces the second character in the story: the never-give-up widow. She teaches us to keep going in our requests before the heavenly Lawgiver and Judge (Jas. 4:12).
“justice”: it is not quite the right translation, because the widow may be actually asking for punishing revenge extracted from her adversary. It is the verb ekdikeō (pronounced ehk-dee-keh-oh) The Shorter Lexicon says it means, depending on these contexts: (1) “take vengeance for, punish” (2 Cor. 10:6; Rev. 4:10; 19:2); (2) “avenge someone, procure justice for someone” (Luke 18:5) … “see that justice is done” (Luke 18:3) … “to take one’s revenge” (Luke 18:7; Acts 7:24). So it is used only seven times, in those verses. Rom. 12:19-20 says that vengeance belongs to the Lord, not to us. And no, he will not use you as his instrument of vengeance against your neighbor.
In these two verses, Jesus reveals the mental state of the judge. He didn’t waste his time with her, at first. But then he thought better of it, after a while. He repeated, somewhat proudly, that he doesn’t fear God or respect any person. The widow was going to bother or trouble him incessantly. He would lose face or be put to shame, because the longer he laughed her out of court, he would appear inconsistent if he finally gave in to her incessant demand. It was better to give in sooner rather than later. So he did.
“shame”: it comes from the verb hupōpiazō (pronounced hoo-poh-pea-ah-zoh and used only twice in the entire NT). It means to “strike under the eye,” and “in a weakened sense it means annoy greatly, wear out” (Luke 18:5); figuratively it means “treat roughly, torment” (1 Cor. 9:27). Bock: Using the verb figuratively, “it means to wear down emotionally or to beat down someone’s reputation.” (p. 1449). The judge is not worried about his reputation, so the woman was wearing him down emotionally.
In the larger Greek world outside of the NT, it also means “to have a black eye … to bruise, mortify.” The verb comes from the adjective that means “the part of the face under the eye, but generally “the face, countenance” (Liddell and Scott). So the verb has to do with physical violence, but it means in some contexts an action that wears down someone’s resolve. Note that Jesus said the judge was at first unwilling, but he weakened. The judge was afraid he would get a “black eye” from this widow, socially speaking. How would the judge look with a black eye given by a widow? He had to “save face,” literally and figuratively!
Remember the friend’s request for some bread in the middle of the night (11:5-13). The man in bed got up and answered his neighbor’s request. “In each parable, the reputation of the one being petitioned is at stake. Therefore, though God is not compared to a crooked judge, these is a partial basis of comparison in that God will also guard his reputation and vindicate himself” (Liefeld and Pao, comment on v. 5). So God will answer your prayer (if it is his will).
Now Jesus draws the lesson from his short illustration. I like how Luke inserts his respect for Jesus by calling him “the Lord.” Yes, one could object, “What else would he say?” He could have omitted the phrasing and said “he.” But it is as if Luke steps away from the writer’s desk and draws our attention to the big conclusion. Note what the Lord said.
“The point of application plays off this portrait in a lesser-to-greater argument … if such an insensitive character [the judge] responds to repeated pleas from someone he does not know or care about, how much more will a righteous God respond to his children” (Bock, p. 1450).
Prophetess Anna: “She did not leave the temple, worshipping with fasting and praying night and day. 38 At the very hour, she suddenly appeared praising God and speaking about him to everyone waiting for the redemption of Israel” (Luke 2:37-38).
If you cry out night and day—old-fashioned all-night prayer meetings—then God will give you justice as you plead your case. When you wake up in the middle of the night, don’t pace the floor and worry. Pray for your request. Is the devil—your adversary—robbing you of justice? Is he deceiving your wayward son or daughter? Give him a black eye and pray often for your child. No, don’t whine or beg, but come boldly to the throne of grace (Heb. 4:16). Pray with confidence, not with anxiety, as if God is reluctant.
I love—really love—how Jesus said God is waiting patiently for us to pray to him night and day. Are you willing to answer the call to pray? He is waiting for you.
“waiting patiently”: The verb is makrothumeō (pronounced mah-kroh-thoo-meh-oh and used 10 times). It means: “have patience, wait” (Heb. 6:15; Jas. 5:7); “be patient, forbearing” (Matt. 18:26, 29; 1 Cor. 13:4; 1 Thess. 5:14; 2 Pet. 3:9; Luke 18:7) (Shorter Lexicon).
“elect”: It could be translated as “chosen ones.” “To call the disciples of Jesus the ‘chosen ones’ is also significant when the election language of the OT is now applied to those who are included in God’s kingdom” (Liefeld and Pao, comments on v. 7). Yes, God knows who his elect are because he is omniscient, but we shouldn’t then overreach and draw the conclusion that God has a pack of people whom he has not elected. God wants everyone to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth (1 Tim. 2:4). People are able, out of their freewill, which is a gift from God, to resist his wooing. His grace is resistible. But once they decide to follow God, they become his elect or chosen ones.
Jesus emphasizes the lesson with “I tell you ….” It repeats the force of “listen!” (v. 6). Here we have the contrast. First, Jesus assures us that God will answer our cry for justice quickly, which stands in contrast to the judge’s reluctance. Second, he asks a question that indicates, by the Greek syntax and a key word, that the answer is no. That’s why I translated it as I did. He does not know whether the Son of Man will find faith on the earth, when he returns. It is an open rhetorical question. We must do our part to answer the call to have faith—even faith as small as a mustard seed (Luke 17:6). You don’t need to ask God for faith as big as a pumpkin seed, but a tinier mustard seed will move mountains. If you have no faith, ask God for it and read the Word, for Scripture builds it up (Rom. 10:17).
“Son of Man”: it both means the powerful, divine Son of Man (Dan. 7:13-14) and the human son of man—Ezekiel himself—in the book of Ezekiel (numerous references). Jesus was and still is in heaven both divine and human.
4. Titles of Jesus: The Son of Man
The point of the verse [v. 7] is that God patiently listens to his elect as they pray in their continuing distress and waits for the proper time to act on their behalf … True believers who still wait with patient trust will seem few when the Son of Man comes (cf. vv. 24-25)” (Liefeld and Pao, comments on vv. 7-8).
GrowApp for Luke 18:1-8
A.. Have you ever had to wait a long time to get your answer to prayer? How did you endure in your prayer life to the end?
B.. When the Son of Man comes back, will he find faith in you? Read Rom. 10:17. How do you build your faith?
The Parable of the Pharisee and Tax Collector (Luke 18:9-14)
|9 Εἶπεν δὲ καὶ πρός τινας τοὺς πεποιθότας ἐφ’ ἑαυτοῖς ὅτι εἰσὶν δίκαιοι καὶ ἐξουθενοῦντας τοὺς λοιποὺς τὴν παραβολὴν ταύτην· 10 Ἄνθρωποι δύο ἀνέβησαν εἰς τὸ ἱερὸν προσεύξασθαι, ὁ εἷς Φαρισαῖος καὶ ὁ ἕτερος τελώνης. 11 ὁ Φαρισαῖος σταθεὶς πρὸς ἑαυτὸν ταῦτα προσηύχετο· ὁ θεός, εὐχαριστῶ σοι ὅτι οὐκ εἰμὶ ὥσπερ οἱ λοιποὶ τῶν ἀνθρώπων, ἅρπαγες, ἄδικοι, μοιχοί, ἢ καὶ ὡς οὗτος ὁ τελώνης· 12 νηστεύω δὶς τοῦ σαββάτου, ἀποδεκατῶ πάντα ὅσα κτῶμαι. 13 ὁ δὲ τελώνης μακρόθεν ἑστὼς οὐκ ἤθελεν οὐδὲ τοὺς ὀφθαλμοὺς ἐπᾶραι εἰς τὸν οὐρανόν, ἀλλ’ ἔτυπτεν τὸ στῆθος αὐτοῦ λέγων· ὁ θεός, ἱλάσθητί μοι τῷ ἁμαρτωλῷ. 14 λέγω ὑμῖν, κατέβη οὗτος δεδικαιωμένος εἰς τὸν οἶκον αὐτοῦ παρ’ ἐκεῖνον· ὅτι πᾶς ὁ ὑψῶν ἑαυτὸν ταπεινωθήσεται, ὁ δὲ ταπεινῶν ἑαυτὸν ὑψωθήσεται.||9 He began to tell this parable to the ones who convinced themselves that they were righteous and despised the rest of humanity. 10 “Two men went up to the temple to pray. One was a Pharisee, and the other was a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee stood and prayed this: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like the rest of humanity—rapacious, unrighteous, adulterous, or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice weekly and pay the tithe of everything I acquire. 13 In contrast, the tax collector stood afar off and did not want even to raise his eyes to heaven and was beating his chest, saying, ‘God, make atonement for me, a sinner.’ 14 I tell you this one (the tax collector), not that one (the Pharisee), went back down to his house justified, because everyone who exalts himself shall be humbled, and everyone who humbles himself shall be exalted.”|
“parable”: see v. 1 for more comments.
“convinced themselves”: it could be translated as “were confident.” But the basic meaning of the verb is “persuade” or “convince,” so I couldn’t resist translating it that way. Misplaced confidence can be deceptive. Always place your confidence in God and his grace flowing through you. He gave you the ability to do what you do and gave you your gifts.
“righteous”: in the original Jewish context, he was a scrupulous law keeper. Here’s the story from Paul (Saul), the former Pharisee’s, own words: “As to righteousness under the law, blameless. But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord … to be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith” (Phil. 3:6-10, ESV). It is possible to be blameless from man’s limited perspective. You can keep the Sabbath, fast twice weekly and not commit adultery. Paul said so. You can keep major portions of the law, like not being greedy or rapacious or adulterous. Outwardly you can appear blameless before a watching humanity. But what about inwardly?
8 Righteousness of the Kingdom
Do I Really Know God? He Is Righteous and Just
“despised”: it is the verb exoutheneō (pronounced ex-oo-then-eh-oh used 11 times). It is defined as “despise, disdain” (Luke 18:9; Rom. 14:3, 10; 1 Cor. 16:11; Gal. 4:14) “… amount to nothing” (2 Cor. 10:10); “reject with contempt” (Acts 4:11; 1 Thess. 5:20); “treat with contempt (Luke 23:11). Mounce says: “to make light of, set at naught [nothing], despise, treat with contempt and scorn” (p. 1147). In the larger Greek world, it is related to the Greek terms (oudeis, ouden) for “nothing” or “neither … nor.” The ou– prefix means “not” (Liddell and Scott). I presume that the ex– (ek-) prefix means “thrust away” or “out.” Bottom line: it is a term that means to reject or throw people out with contempt. This Pharisee was not in a good place, before God.
“went up”: this means that when a person went to the temple, he ascended because it sat on Mt. Zion.
You can learn more about them at his post:
Quick Reference to Jewish Groups in Gospels and Acts
“prayed”: see v. 1 for more comments.
Luke has noted the hostility of the Pharisees up to now: 5:17; 6:2, 7; 7:39; 11:37-54; 15:2; 16:14). Now we begin a new criticism of their behavior—generally speaking. Jesus is critiquing them as a class of religious leaders, not each and every one individually.
“rapacious”: it could also be translated as “ravenous” and as a noun “robber, swindler.” Here it is the adjective. But the first-century audience would have seen the tax collector as those things. Jesus’s original audience must have chuckled at the word (rapacious) of the Pharisee because they knew that they loved money (Luke 16:14). This Pharisee did not have very deep self-knowledge.
“unrighteous”: that means a non-law keeper or a law breaker.
“adulterous”: it is not hard to avoid adultery for most people. So he was not boasting all that much.
“this tax collector”: No doubt the Pharisee was pointing at the tax collector, when the religious guy said “this.” The word this drips with contempt. This phrase will be used by Jesus’ taunters while he is on the cross (23:35) (Bock, p. 1463).
He fasts twice weekly, which went above the law, which prescribes once a year, on the Day of Atonement (Lev. 16). Voluntary fasting happened on Monday and Thursday—the days that people believed went up and then returned from Mt. Sinai (Bock, 2, p. 1463).
He gives a tenth of everything he acquired or gained or earned. This law was valid for the Jewish community while the temple was going on. Jesus of course would put these words in the mouth of the Pharisee, but this does not mean he taught tithing for the church after the cross and Pentecost. Acts and the epistles don’t teach it (and neither does Heb. 7, which is twisted out of context). Don’t believe it? Read this post ***********
Now we come to the second character in the story. He stood afar off and did not lift his eyes (as the Greek literally reads) because he felt unworthy. He was a Jew, but he probably stood in the court of the Gentiles, the non-Jews or Gentile converts who were not born Jews. Humility is lacking in the church, but on the other hand, those who have been redeemed can approach the throne of grace boldly and confidently (Heb. 4:16), because Jesus ascended into heaven and became the great high priest (as the rest of the epistle to the Hebrews teaches).
“beat his chest”: this was the sign of contrition and repentance, and the verb tense (imperfect) indicates he was doing this while he was praying. There is no self-confidence in him. He knew who he was, a despised tax collector. He could not depend on his scrupulous law keeping. He was not blameless, as Saul (Paul) or this Pharisee was. Very few people liked this tax collector. He was a reject. Do you feel rejected by society? Pray humbly, because God loves you. He does not reject you.
“make atonement”: Garland speculates (after reading another scholar named Bailey) that both the Pharisee and tax collector were praying at either the morning or evening sacrifice, when the atoning sacrifice was done. And at the precise moment of his prayer, the sacrifice was being done. Jesus is, after all, telling the story while the temple rites were still in effect. After his ascension, he will lead his church away from blood sacrifices and towards his own. In fact he initiates the shift during the Last Supper (22:14-22).
Many translations have “be merciful” or “forgive,” but that’s not what this verb says. It is hilaskomai (pronounced hee-las-koh-my, and is used only twice, Luke 18:13 and Heb. 2:17). It first means “propitiate, conciliate” and secondly (in the passive voice) “be propitiated … expiate.” Propitiate means that God’s judicial wrath is turned away or rechanneled to the acceptable sacrifice (animals in the OT and Jesus in the NT). And expiate means “to wipe away” or “expunge.” Propitiation, conciliation and expiation are big theological terms, so I like what BDAG says in its first definition: “to cause to be favorably inclined or disposed, propitiate, conciliate.” The lexicon’s second definition says: “to eliminate impediments that alienate the deity, expiate, wipe out.” The way to eliminate any impediments in the OT was, as noted, animal and other sacrifices, and now in the NT, it is Jesus’s everlasting sacrifice that was accomplished once and for all on the cross. He did not need to be sacrificed over and over, like the high priest had to do every year on the Day of Atonement (Lev. 16) and every day when a devout Jew came to offer his sacrifice (Lev. 1-7).
The Day of Atonement in Leviticus 16 from a NT Perspective
“sinner”: BDAG defines the adjective hamartōlos (pronounced hah-mar-toh-loss and used 47 times and 18 times in Luke) as follows: “pertaining to behavior or activity that does not measure up to standard moral or [religious] expectations (being considered an outsider because of failure to conform to certain standards is a frequent semantic component. Persons engaged in certain occupations, e.g. herding and tanning [and tax collecting] that jeopardized [religious] purity, would be considered by some as ‘sinners,’ a term tantamount to ‘outsider.’” Non-Israelites were especially considered out of bounds [see Acts 10:28].)” “Sinner, with a general focus on wrongdoing as such.” “Irreligious, unobservant people.” “Unobservant” means that he did not care about law keeping or observing the law.
Bible Basics about Sin: Word Studies
Human Sin: Original and Our Committed Sin
Do you fail to conform to certain standards? Maybe you did break the demands of moral and religious law. Pray and repent, and God will accept you.
“went back down”: he left Mt. Zion and went to his house—which would have been huge, if he were a real character and not a fictitious one in a parable.
“justified”: it is related to the words “righteous” in the previous verses. We could translate it as “vindicated,” but this loses the religious sense of the verb. He went away righteous by God’s favor extended to him, and all he had to do was pray, not do public acts of righteousness. This righteousness parallels what Paul said in Phil. 3:6-10, which was quoted in v. 9. It is righteousness built on Christ and faith in him, after the cross and Pentecost.
“exalts … humbled … humbles … exalted”: These two sets of words are the same ones, so it makes a nice echo or repetition of the biblical Greek. But they go in the opposite directions. The one word could be translated as “lifted up high” and the other could be translated as “brought low.” Don’t exalt yourself; let God do that, if such is his will (1 Pet. 5:6).
These verbs are also in the passive voice (be exalted … be humbled”), so in this context they can be considered as divine passives, which is an understated way of saying that God is the one humbling and exalting you. Promotion comes from him.
GrowApp for Luke 18:9-14
A.. Have you ever felt like a rejected outsider because you failed to live up to moral standards? If so, how did you discover that God accepted you?
B.. Read 1 Pet. 5:6. After you humbly repented, how did the Lord lift you up out of your past? What is your story repenting and humbling yourself?
Jesus Blesses the Young Children (Luke 18:15-17)
|15 Προσέφερον δὲ αὐτῷ καὶ τὰ βρέφη ἵνα αὐτῶν ἅπτηται· ἰδόντες δὲ οἱ μαθηταὶ ἐπετίμων αὐτοῖς. 16 ὁ δὲ Ἰησοῦς προσεκαλέσατο αὐτὰ λέγων· ἄφετε τὰ παιδία ἔρχεσθαι πρός με καὶ μὴ κωλύετε αὐτά, τῶν γὰρ τοιούτων ἐστὶν ἡ βασιλεία τοῦ θεοῦ. 17 ἀμὴν λέγω ὑμῖν, ὃς ἂν μὴ δέξηται τὴν βασιλείαν τοῦ θεοῦ ὡς παιδίον, οὐ μὴ εἰσέλθῃ εἰς αὐτήν.||15 And then they brought to him babies, so that he would touch them. When the disciples saw this, they began to rebuke them. 16 But Jesus called for them, saying, “Allow them to come to me also; don’t prevent them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such ones. 17 I tell you the truth: Whoever does not welcome the kingdom of God like a child in no way enters it.”|
“babies”: it is the noun brephos (pronounced breh-foss) and means “babies,” “infants.”
“touch”: apparently the parent held the baby, while he just touched them. Matt. 19:13 adds that the people brought them so that he would touch them and pray.
“disciples”: the noun is mathētēs (singular and pronounced mah-they-tayss), and it is used 261 times in the NT, though many of them are duplicates in the three synoptic Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke. BDAG says of the noun that it means (1) “one who engages in learning through instruction from another, pupil, apprentice”; (2) “one who is rather constantly associated with someone who has a pedagogical reputation or a particular set of views, disciple, adherent.”
The disciples miss the boat again, not catching on. Why were they so protective? Were they tense because they were on their way to Jerusalem, and the crowds didn’t know anything about his mission. Jesus did repeatedly predict that he was about to be tried and executed (Luke 5:35; 9:22, 43-45; 12:50 13:32-33; Matt. 16:21; Mark 2:20). So the disciples were afraid, maybe. Or maybe they were simply obtuse. It’s tough to read the inner thoughts of a person, when the text does not disclose them.
“rebuked”: the verb is epitimaō (pronounced eh-pea-tee-mah-oh), and it could be translated as “scolded,” “warned,” “censure.”
I like the picture of Jesus calling for or summoning the parents holding their babies. He probably looked disapprovingly at the overprotective disciples. Just as they were scolding the parents with words, he called for them with words that canceled out theirs.
“allow”: it is the verb aphiēmi (pronounced ah-fee-ay-mee), and it could be translated “release” or “let (them) go” to come to me. But “permit” or “allow” is best.
“them”: it refers to the children.
“kingdom of God”: What is it? As noted in other verses that mention the kingdom in this commentary, the kingdom is God’s power, authority, rule, reign and sovereignty. He exerts all those things over all the universe but more specifically over the lives of people. It is his invisible realm, and throughout the Gospels Jesus is explaining and demonstrating what it looks like before their very eyes and ears. It is gradually being manifested from the realm of faith to the visible realm, but it is not political in the human sense. It is a secret kingdom because it does not enter humanity with trumpets blaring and full power and glory. This grand display will happen when Jesus comes back. In his first coming, it woos people to surrender to it. We can enter God’s kingdom by being born again (John 3:3, 5), by repenting (Matt. 4:17; Mark 1:5), by having the faith of children (Matt. 18:4; Mark 10:14-15), by being transferred from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of the Son whom God loves (Col. 1:13), and by seeing their own poverty and need for the kingdom (Matt. 5:3; Luke 6:20; Jas. 2:5).
It also includes the Great Reversal in Luke 1:51-53, where Mary says that Jesus and his kingdom will bring it to the world. The powerful and people of high status are brought low, while the humble and those of low status are raised up. It also fulfills the reversal in 2:34, where Simeon prophesied that Jesus was appointed for the rising and falling of many. It is the right-side-up kingdom, but upside-down from a worldly perspective. Jesus would cause the fall of the mighty and the rise of the needy, and the rich would be lowered, and the poor raised up. It is the down elevator and up elevator. Those at the top will take the down elevator, and those at the bottom will take the up elevator.
Bible Basics about the Kingdom of God
Questions and Answers about Kingdom of God
Basic Definition of Kingdom of God
1 Introducing the Kingdom of God (begin a ten-part series)
“belongs”: it could be more literally translated: “For the kingdom of God is for such ones.”
“I tell you the truth”: “Truth” comes from the word amēn (pronounced ah-main and comes into English as amen). It expresses the authority of the one who utters it. The Hebrew root ’mn means faithfulness, reliability and certainty. It could be translated as “truly I tell you” or I tell you with certainty.” Jesus’s faith in his own words is remarkable and points to his unique calling. In the OT and later Jewish writings is indicates a solemn pronouncement. It means we must pay attention to it, for it is authoritative. He is about to declare an important and solemn message or statement. The clause appears only on the lips of Jesus.
That is, in Paul’s epistles, for example, he never says, “I truly say to you.” That phrasing had too much authority, which only Jesus had. The word appears in a Jewish culture and means “let it be so.” So Jesus speaks it out with special, divine emphasis. “Let this happen!” “Let what I’m about to say happen!” We better take it seriously and not just walk by it or read over it with a casual air.
“welcome”: It could be translated as “receive.” So it is possible to receive the kingdom of God. Welcome or receive Jesus, and thereby you welcome or receive the kingdom of God. He represents the kingdom, and we could even say he is the kingdom of God (Luke 9:48; 17:21).
“like a child”: The word baby, brephos (v. 15), changes to paidion (pronounced pye-dee-on). The second word means (1) “very young child, infant”; (2) “child.” So the first definition looks like it corresponds closely to brephos. These children were really young. It is possible to be blessed by Jesus, but how much can they relate to him.
Note that Jesus says we are to welcome the kingdom like little children. He did not say we remain as little children after we receive it. We need to grow up (1 Cor. 13:11). We need not to overthink things when we initially receive the kingdom. Then we can use our heads. Recall that Jesus said we love God with all our heart, soul, and mind (Matt. 22:37; Mark 12:30). Don’t disengage your minds after you enter the kingdom.
“in no way”” one translation says “certainly does not enter.” The negation (not) is emphatic, so I chose “in no way.”
“enter”: speaking of entering, we can enter the kingdom. To enter it, a boundary line has to be crossed from the kingdom of the unredeemed, dark, worldly kingdoms to the kingdom of God, the Redeemer and the light (Col. 1:13).
Here is a remedy for not forbidding children: “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord (Eph. 6:4, ESV). “Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged” (Col. 3:20, ESV). In other words, don’t exasperate or frustrate your children with heavy-handed rules. This old saying is wise: “Rules without relationship breeds rebellion.” Have a relationship with them. Let them hang out with you. In doing so, they will absorb your Christ-like and kind behavior and loving attitude. They will imitate and follow your relationship with the Lord.
As noted in Luke 15, Prov. 22:6 says, “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it” (Prov. 22:6, ESV). Some academics and severe and austere teachers tell us that this verse in Proverbs is a general statement tucked inside the genre of wisdom literature. It is not a hard-and-fast, guaranteed rule. That may be true, but when parents hold on to this verse and pray it out loud, I believe God is pleased with their faith. He will arrange circumstances to bring the wayward child to his senses. God will work overtime to bring the child to his senses. I for one would never go on national TV or radio and tell parents not to “claim” this verse as a foundation to pray. Pray, parents, pray! Use this verse, and never give up on praying for them until the day you die. My mother prayed from her oldest son until the day she passed, and finally, a few years before he died, he too got his heart right with God. No doubt the two had a relieved and happy reunion Up There.
GrowApp for Luke 18:15-17
A.. How do you pray for your children to have a relationship with Jesus? If some have already grown up and do not have this relationship, how do handle this? Self-condemnation? Anxiety? Sense of failure? Or do you pray and trust that God is working behind the scenes?
B.. We initially enter the kingdom as children, but does God expect us to remain as children after we enter it? Read 1 Cor. 13:11 and explain it.
The Rich Ruler (Luke 18:18-30)
|18 Καὶ ἐπηρώτησέν τις αὐτὸν ἄρχων λέγων· διδάσκαλε ἀγαθέ, τί ποιήσας ζωὴν αἰώνιον κληρονομήσω; 19 εἶπεν δὲ αὐτῷ ὁ Ἰησοῦς· τί με λέγεις ἀγαθόν; οὐδεὶς ἀγαθὸς εἰ μὴ εἷς ὁ θεός. 20 τὰς ἐντολὰς οἶδας· μὴ μοιχεύσῃς, μὴ φονεύσῃς, μὴ κλέψῃς, μὴ ψευδομαρτυρήσῃς , τίμα τὸν πατέρα σου καὶ τὴν μητέρα. 21 ὁ δὲ εἶπεν· ταῦτα πάντα ἐφύλαξα ἐκ νεότητος. 22 ἀκούσας δὲ ὁ Ἰησοῦς εἶπεν αὐτῷ· ἔτι ἕν σοι λείπει· πάντα ὅσα ἔχεις πώλησον καὶ διάδος πτωχοῖς, καὶ ἕξεις θησαυρὸν ἐν [τοῖς] οὐρανοῖς, καὶ δεῦρο ἀκολούθει μοι. 23 ὁ δὲ ἀκούσας ταῦτα περίλυπος ἐγενήθη· ἦν γὰρ πλούσιος σφόδρα.
24 Ἰδὼν δὲ αὐτὸν ὁ Ἰησοῦς [περίλυπον γενόμενον] εἶπεν· πῶς δυσκόλως οἱ τὰ χρήματα ἔχοντες εἰς τὴν βασιλείαν τοῦ θεοῦ εἰσπορεύονται· 25 εὐκοπώτερον γάρ ἐστιν κάμηλον διὰ τρήματος βελόνης εἰσελθεῖν ἢ πλούσιον εἰς τὴν βασιλείαν τοῦ θεοῦ εἰσελθεῖν. 26 εἶπαν δὲ οἱ ἀκούσαντες· καὶ τίς δύναται σωθῆναι; 27 ὁ δὲ εἶπεν· τὰ ἀδύνατα παρὰ ἀνθρώποις δυνατὰ παρὰ τῷ θεῷ ἐστιν. 28 Εἶπεν δὲ ὁ Πέτρος· ἰδοὺ ἡμεῖς ἀφέντες τὰ ἴδια ἠκολουθήσαμέν σοι. 29 ὁ δὲ εἶπεν αὐτοῖς· ἀμὴν λέγω ὑμῖν ὅτι οὐδείς ἐστιν ὃς ἀφῆκεν οἰκίαν ἢ γυναῖκα ἢ ἀδελφοὺς ἢ γονεῖς ἢ τέκνα ἕνεκεν τῆς βασιλείας τοῦ θεοῦ, 30 ὃς οὐχὶ μὴ [ἀπο]λάβῃ πολλαπλασίονα ἐν τῷ καιρῷ τούτῳ καὶ ἐν τῷ αἰῶνι τῷ ἐρχομένῳ ζωὴν αἰώνιον.
|18 Then a certain ruler questioned him, saying: “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 19 But Jesus said, “Why do you call me good?” No one is good except one—God. 20 You know the commandments: ‘Do not commit adultery, do not murder, do not steal, do not bear false witness, honor your father and mother’” [Exod. 20:12; Deut. 5:16]. 21 He said: “I have kept all these things since my youth.” 22 On hearing this, Jesus said to him, “One thing still lacks in you. Sell everything you have and distribute them to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” 23 When he heard this, he became sad, for he was very rich.
24 When he saw him becoming sad, he said, “How difficult it is that those having possessions enter the kingdom of God! 25 For it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a sewing needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God!” 26 Those listening said, “Who then can be saved?” 27 And he said, “The impossible with people is possible with God.” 28 Then Peter said, “Look at us! We have left what we had and we have followed you!” 29 He said to them, “I tell you the truth: There is no one who has left household or wives or brothers or parents or children because of the kingdom 30 who shall not receive in return many times as much in this age and eternal life in the age to come.”
Have you ever met a missionary or seen his story online or in church who has given up everything to follow Jesus and spread the good news (v. 29)? This pericope (pronounced puh-RIH-koh-pea) or unit of section of Scripture is about him. If you choose to stay at home and maintain your wealth, in order to be salt and light in affluent society, to be missionaries of a different kind, then please be generous in your support of the work of the gospel abroad—in the work of someone who has given up all his human comforts for Jesus.
The rich ruler was probably a lay-leader in society, a rich landowner. He was probably not a chief priest or a son of a chief priest (Bock. p. 1476).
In the parallel accounts (Matt. 19:16-30; Mark 10:17-31), he is identified as a young man (Matt. 19:20, 22), and he ran up to Jesus (Mark 10:17). Mark, who followed Peter’s preaching, describes him more vividly. Mark’s Gospel is known for being fast-paced.
Mark and Luke say, “Good teacher.” And Jesus tells the man that only God is good. This cannot be the logic: Only God is good. Jesus is not God. Therefore, Jesus is not good. In Matt. 19:16-22, Matthew clarifies what is meant: “Teacher, what good thing shall I do to inherit eternal life.” The man is asking what is good, and how does he use it to enter the kingdom of heaven. So in Matthew’s version the good thing that the man is asking for is human activity, and this can only be applied, in an absolute sense, to God. Jesus is rebuking the man for careless theological language; he is reminding him that the best efforts of human activity are inadequate for God’s salvation (= entering or inheriting eternal life). I prefer Matthew’s version, but if this does not satisfy the reader, then go to v. 19, below, for a Lucan-oriented explanation.
see Matthew 19:16-30.
“inherit”: our lives down here in this age is a partial payment for our future inheritance in the age to come (v. 30).
“good teacher”: see v. 19 for more comments.
“eternal life”: it is the adjective aiōnios (pronounced eye-oh-nee-oss and used 71 times). BDAG, considered by many to be the authoritative lexicon of the NT, says that it means (1) “pertaining to a long period of time, long ago”; (2) pertaining to a period of time without beginning or end, eternal of God”; (3) pertaining to a period of unending duration, without end.”
And therefore, based on the first definition, an equally valid translation is “next-age life.” In other words, the ruler was concerned about entering into the next age that God would soon usher in. He may have even believed that Jesus was in the process of ushering it in. Surely he had heard about John the Baptist; everyone else did. This (young) ruler may have even been eager to be baptized by John, as seen by his eagerly running up to Jesus (Mark 10:17), though that Is speculation. He was aware of new religious movements, or else he would never have approached Jesus. The point is that he wanted to be ready for the next age.
The noun is aiōn (pronounced aye-own, and we get our word aeon from it and is used 122 or 123 times in the NT). See this link for a fuller definition:
What Do Words ‘Eternity,’ ‘Eternal’ Fully Mean in the Bible?
Now let’s look at the noun life more closely. It is very versatile.
It is the noun zoē (pronounced zoh-ay, and girls are named after it, e.g. Zoey). BDAG says that it has two senses, depending on the context: a physical life (e.g. life and breath) and a transcendent life. By physical life the editors mean the period from birth to death, human activity, a way or manner of living, a period of usefulness, earning a living. By transcendent life the lexicographers mean these four elements: first, God himself is life and offers us everlasting life. Second, Christ is life, who received life from God, and now we can receive life from Christ. Third, it is new life of holiness and righteousness and grace. God’s life filling us through Christ changes our behavior. Fourth, zoē means life in the age to come, or eschatological life. So our new life now will continue into the next age, which God fully and finally ushers in when Christ returns. We will never experience mere existence or death, but we will be fully and eternally alive in God.
I believe the young man really means in his context “life in the age to come” (v. 28), which in God will last forever—only in God, not by virtue of our having a soul.
On the ruler calling Jesus good and Jesus questioning the man’s use of the adjective good, there are three possible explanations: (1) Jesus was merely deflecting flattery. Perhaps Jesus perceived in him too much eagerness and wanted to bring him back down to earth. The man did not know what he was talking about, so why receive a compliment from him? (2) Alternatively, Jesus may have been pointing him towards God and the ruler’s need to totally rely on God. (3) He may have been calling on the ruler to recognize that God alone is good—the one standing before him!
Whatever the case, we shouldn’t draw the conclusion that Jesus is not good, nor did he intend to say this! Note that Jesus called an obedient servant “good servant” (Luke 19:17). So he is not opposed to acknowledging goodness in people. In this special case, however, he had to make sure this ruler knew what he was talking about. He was rebuking any flattery and theological fuzziness. Good human activity is not enough for God’s salvation.
Liefeld and Pao, after reviewing the options: “What is clear is that Jesus’ purpose in this question is to establish a standard of goodness infinitely higher than the ruler supposes it to be. In other words, he brings us close to the principle in Matthew 5:20, 48)” (comment on v. 19). Those two verses in Matthew say to be perfect.
Jesus deflects the idle flattery with the statement, “No one is good except one.” The ruler may have expected Jesus to reciprocate by also calling him “good” … but Jesus makes it clear that one may not use the word ‘good’ casually. His first remark alludes to the first commandment to have no others gods before the one God, which directs the rich ruler to the source of what he seeks. By pointing beyond any form or moral goodness to God himself. Jesus reprises the point of the parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector: entrance into the reign of God only via the miracle of God’s grace. It cannot be earned; it can only be accepted with humility and faith (Garland, comment on 18:19).
Jesus’ statement that God alone is good is designed to describe God’s unique holiness and righteousness. Such declarations are common in the OT, and Jesus is here asserting God’s absolute goodness in the face of requests to earn eternal life. Taken together, the remarks serve to say, if you really want to follow the ‘good one,’ follow God and show your respect for his teacher by obeying his instruction because before God no one is inherently good. (p. 1478)
There is no reason to regard Jesus’ statement as a confession of sinfulness, since this would be at variance with the rest of the Synoptic tradition (Taylor, 426). The Christian reader may go to the other extreme and see here a tacit identification of Jesus with God, but this lies beyond what the passage actually says. It is a criticism of the view which sees Jesus as a teacher, even a ‘good’ teacher, and nothing more. The man’s ultimate refusal to obey the ‘good teacher’ shows that he did not really take his goodness seriously, and therefore he could be criticised for using the word in an empty fashion. (comment on v. 19)
Morris accepts the implied deity in Jesus’s reply: “Rather, he was inviting the ruler to reflect on the meaning of his own words. What he has just said had implications for the Person of Jesus. If he was good and if only God was good, as all rabbinic teaching agreed …, then the ruler was saying something important about him. So far from repudiating the deity of Jesus as some hold, the question seems to invite the young man to reflect on it” (comment on v. 19).
See v. 18, above, for a link to how Matthew handles this issue.
You can choose whichever option you want.
Jesus quotes the second table of the Ten Commandments, which deal with a person’s relations with another person. The five Jesus quotes are more objective and can be used as a checklist (so to speak) for the man’s behavior. In fact, the young man uses them in v. 21. Those commandments accurately summarize the conventional Jewish definition of good behavior. And sure enough, it is not so hard to keep them, if you think about it. How many of us have stolen articles (let’s not mention time at work!)? It’s possible not to steal objects, particularly if you’re rich. Very few have murdered. Very few have borne false witness in a law court. Some people—though not everyone—get along really well with their parents, so it is easy to honor them. Paul said that in his old religion of Judaism he was blameless under the law (Phil. 3:4-6). The rich man said the same. It is likely a truthful self-assessment.
Later on, Jesus, after he ascended, will direct his church to draw a sharp distinction between righteousness that comes by law keeping—practical principles—and righteousness that come by faith in him—a living person. How did Paul in his old life know he was keeping faith in God? By his law keeping. How does he know this after his conversion to Jesus? By his faith in the Messiah, Jesus himself. The difference is huge. One is guided by the law, while the other is guided by a living person.
One Decisive Difference Between Sinai Covenant and New Covenant
“I have kept all these things since my youth.” Paul before King Agrippa: “And so all the Jews know my way of life from youth which I had from the beginning among my people and in Jerusalem” (Acts 26:4).
However, let’s not overlook the fact that Paul wrote that a man who behaves impurely cannot inherit the kingdom of God (1 Cor. 6:9-10). So the bottom line is that there is no contradiction between Jesus and Paul. Luke knew this because he had followed Paul around and heard him preach. And Jesus constantly talks about entering the kingdom and then living righteously inside it. Paul constantly talks about entering the kingdom by confessing Jesus as Lord for salvation and then living righteously inside it. Paul would definitely agree that the young man should follow Jesus, because to follow Jesus is to proclaim to be Lord by demonstrating allegiance to him. That’s what Paul did. Never overlook the fact that right behavior is important to God and demonstrates surrender to him and his kingdom.
What Does the New Covenant Retain from the Old?
Do Christians Have to ‘Keep’ the Ten Commandments?
Ten Commandments: God’s Great Compromise with Humanity’s Big Failure
“one thing still lacks in you”: Most translations have “You still lack something” (or a variation of it). But I translated the idiom literally. Alternatives: “Something is still missing in you” or “something is still lacking in you.” Clearly the ruler had a hole in his (spiritual) heart, and it needed to be filled. But what was he missing, and why couldn’t he fill it?
He was possessed by possessions. They crowded out God in his heart. The whole context of this command to him is the life in this age contrasted with life in the age to come. To enter the life in the age to come, he had to sell his possession and distribute them to the poor. This was a radical call to discipleship.
I like Stein here:
Luke heightened Jesus’ teaching here by adding “everything” (cf. Matt 19:21; Mark 10:21). In so doing Luke both picked up the “everything” claim of the young ruler in Luke 18:21 (this is clearer in the RSV than the NIV) and introduced a strong Lukan theme on the stewardship of possessions. … By his clarification of the Commandments in 18:20, Jesus sought to help the ruler understand that he really did not love God with all his heart and his neighbor as himself: “Jesus always requires from one just that earthly security upon which one would lean.” (comment on v. 21).
Matthew and Mark’s versions do not have the word “everything.”
After the resurrection and ascension, Paul acknowledges that rich Christians lived in the churches (1 Tim. 6:17-19). He told Timothy to remind the Christian rich that they should not be haughty nor set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches—it is here today and gone tomorrow. But they must do good, to be rich in good works and be generous and ready to share. In doing that, they will store up a treasure for the future. In that very same chapter he also said the love of money is the root of all evil (v. 10). We should be content with food and clothing.
Further, during Jesus ministry on earth, the women mentioned in Luke 8:3 supported Jesus and his ministry by their resources. He never told them to sell everything they had and give to the poor. They had to remain wealthy or have a steady flow of money, if they were to support him. So Jesus saw that possessions did not possess the women, while possessions did possess the ruler.
So what about the ruler? Something was missing in his heart that he had filled up with money. It needed to go. If he had followed the command personalized for him and his deep need, he would have treasure in heaven. He was unwilling. He left sad. This is the Great Reversal. Recall that in Luke 1:51-53, Mary said that Jesus and his kingdom were about to bring low the powerful and people of high status are brought low, while the humble and those of low status are to be raised up. It also fulfills the reversal in 2:34, where Simeon prophesied that Jesus was appointed for the rising and falling of many. It is the right-side-up kingdom, but upside-down from a worldly perspective. This reversal is confirmed in v. 26, when those listening asked him who could be saved. They were astonished (Matt. 19:25; Mark 10:26). They had not expected that the rich had difficulty entering the kingdom. See v. 16 for more comments about the Reversal. It is the up elevator and down elevator.
Wealth and political power often went hand in glove, in the ancient world. To give up wealth meant to give up power and influence. He would have become a laughingstock to his fellow rulers, if they had come across him traveling with the itinerant preacher named Jesus of Nazareth. Too undignified. The ruler felt this connection and walked away sad. He was hoping for an easier way. “Yes, you kept those commandments, so now go in peace, and keep on allowing possessions to maintain their grip on you, to possess you. You’ll inherit life in the age to come and right now!” That makes no sense, from the kingdom’s perspective.
The man exercised his freedom to reject the call of Jesus himself. It is possible to reject salvation throughout one’s entire life. Grace is indeed resistible. This makes the man a Pelagian and Arminian! But let’s not impose those anachronistic labels on this biblical text.
“kingdom of God”: see v. 16 for more comments.
In these verses, Jesus was speaking at the beginning of the fuller revelation of God’s kingdom. He was ushering it in. He equated entering the kingdom with following him. This clearly teaches that Jesus oversaw the kingdom in his earthly ministry. He was the king, but very few, if any, could see it while he was ministering. Their eyes and minds were veiled. Or if some caught a glimpse of it, they assumed he would become the militant Messiah who would destroy the yoke of the occupying Romans and smash all other rival kingdoms.
This is a general statement, which as we already saw in v. 22, allows for exceptions. We should not interpret the statement as an iron law without even one exception. The statement warns us that we have to be vigilant about wealth cause us to lose our own soul (Matt. 16:26; Mark 8:36-37).
“eye of a sewing needle”: no one has ever confirmed the idea that the eye of a needle was the opening to a tent or a small opening into a city (Jerusalem). The eye of the needle is a sewing needle, not a gate into Jerusalem, a legend that emerged in the Middle Ages. This gate did not exist at the time when Jesus spoke those words. A loaded down camel could not fit into the eye of a sewing needle. It is a hyperbole (a deliberate, rhetorical exaggeration to impact the listener). It is a silly image to hit the listeners right between the eyes. It is another startling image that Jesus often used (e.g. gouging out an eye, chopping off a hand or taking a beam out of one’s own eye).
In v. 25, entering the kingdom is the same as salvation in Paul’s writing. Jesus used the phrase several times (13:24 [narrow door]; 18:17, 24-25); Both Paul and Jesus preached repentance, surrender, and the Lordship of Jesus—yes, Jesus told people to follow himself as Lord. Jesus and Paul used different words, but the reality is the same. The resurrected and ascended Jesus was guiding his church to shift the focus, as the apostles, particularly Paul, went out to the Greco-Roman provinces, beyond Israel, not that Paul neglected this important doctrine of the kingdom (Acts 14:22; 19:8; 20:25; 28:23-31; Rom. 14:17; 1 Cor. 4:20; 6:9-10; 15:24, 50; Gal. 5:21; Eph. 5:5; Col. 1:12-13; 4:11; 1 Thess. 2:12; 2 Thess. 1:5; 2 Tim. 4:1; 4:18). In all of those passages, he proclaimed it.
In Luke 19:1-10, Zacchaeus is one rich man who gets through the eye of the needle (Bock, p. 1514).
This question expresses the Reversal laid out as the main theme in this Gospel in Luke 1:51-53 and 2:34. They were surprised, so they asked the question.
“saved”: The verb sōzō (pronounced soh-zoh) means “save, rescue, heal” in a variety of contexts, but mostly it is used of saving the soul. BDAG says that the verb means, depending on the context: (1) “to preserve or rescue from natural dangers and afflictions, save, keep from harm, preserve,” and the sub-definitions under no. 1 are as follows: save from death; bring out safely; save from disease; keep, preserve in good condition; thrive, prosper, get on well; (2) “to save or preserve from transcendent danger or destruction, save or preserve from ‘eternal’ death … “bring Messianic salvation, bring to salvation,” and in the passive it means “be saved, attain salvation”; (3) some passages in the NT say we fit under the first and second definition at the same time (Mark 8:5; Luke 9:24; Rom. 9:27; 1 Cor. 3:15).
Here in this context being saved means to inherit the next-age life (v. 30). When we surrender to Jesus and his call to enter his kingdom—to receive or welcome him—we are rescued from the dark, unredeemed worldly kingdoms and transferred over to the kingdom of the Son whom God loves (Col. 1:13).
What Is the Work of Salvation?
How Do We Respond to God’s Salvation?
“The impossible with people are possible with God”: This a great line, which I translated more or less literally. The subjects are plural, so it could read: “The things impossible for people are possible for God.” It is impossible, from a human perspective and ability, for the rich to enter the kingdom, but God is able to make the entry possible by wooing and calling by his Spirit.
Peter points out that he and the others left everything to follow Jesus. Peter and his brother Andrew were fishermen and had a business in Capernaum (Luke 5:1-11). James and John, two brothers, were their partners. They left behind their humble business, by which they earned their way in society. Matthew was a tax collector. Peter had a wife to support, and so did the other apostles and the Lord’s brothers, and they brought their wives with them on the missionary endeavors (1 Cor. 9:5). So the missionaries did not abandon their wives, but they did abandon their old way of living. They had truly crossed the boundary line between the old kingdom and the new kingdom, the old life and the new life. Their wives went with them, and I assume that if they had children, they went with their parents.
So, what is Jesus saying here?
Jesus promised them a whole new family of people in the Christian community (cf. Matt. 19:30; Mark 10:30). Of course a certain teaching, called the Word of Faith, latches on to these verses and Matt. 19:30 and Mark 10:30, which includes receiving “lands” or “fields” in return. “See! This proves that God will give me lots of property if I follow him!” However, none of the apostles and the Lord’s brothers received a hundredfold more physical land than they had before they followed Jesus wholeheartedly. Church history teaches us that they became landless missionaries. Jesus is speaking about the land in the new kingdom—the territories that the missionaries would take from the devil and bring into the kingdom of God. How do we know he was spiritualizing things? He said we would receive many fathers and mothers (Mark 10:30). We normally have one biological mother and one biological father. So receiving many of them speaks of the fathers (plural) and mothers (plural) in the kingdom. If we had to leave behind our biological parents, then God promises us many new parents in the kingdom community. We have a new family, a much bigger family.
Study Luke 12:49-53 in light of these verses.
49 “I have come to start a fire on the earth, and how I wish it had already been ignited! 50 I have a baptism to be baptized with, and how I am hard pressed until it is fulfilled! 51 You think that I have appeared to give peace on the earth. No, I tell you, but division instead! 52 For from now on there shall be a dividing of a household, three against two and two against three!
53 Father will be divided against son,
And son against father,
Mother against daughter
And daughter against mother,
Mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law
And daughter-in-law against mother-in-law! [Mic. 7:6]
When families kick out new converts, Jesus will reward them with new (kingdom) families.
“this age”: the noun here is kairos (pronounced kye-ross and is used 85 times), which speaks more of a quality time than quantity. BDAG is considered by many to be the authoritative lexicon of the Greek NT, and it defines the noun as follows: (1) a point of time or period of time, time, period, frequently with the implication of being especially fit for something and without emphasis on precise chronology. (a) Generally a welcome time or difficult time … fruitful times; (b) a moment or period as especially appropriate the right, proper, favorable time … at the right time; (2) a defined period for an event, definite, fixed time (e.g. period of fasting or mourning in accord with the changes in season), in due time (Gal. 6:9); (3) a period characterized by some aspect of special crisis, time; (a) generally the present time (Rom. 13:11; 12:11); (b) One of the chief terms relating to the endtime … the time of crisis, the last times.
All of this stand in a mild contrast—not a sharp contrast—from chronos. Greek has another word for time: chronos (pronounced khro-noss), which measures one day, one week or one month after another.
Here kairos is contrasted with the next age to come. Kairos means this age.
In this verse, the second word for age is the Greek noun aiōn (also see v. 18). Click on this link for a fuller definition:
What Do Words ‘Eternity,’ ‘Eternal’ Fully Mean in the Bible?
From that link, we learn that the noun has a versatile meaning, but it is clear that “eternal” is attached to God; apart from that modification it mostly means “a long time” or “an age.”
Here, in v. 30, this age is contrasted with the age to come. So key phrase in v. 30 could be translated as follows: “in this age and next-age life in the age to come.” No, it’s not talking about the weird idea of the New Age, taught by cults. But the phrase “next-age life” is referring to the fully manifested kingdom of God overseen completely and with absolute, benevolent power and authority by King Jesus. But the translation “eternal life” instead of “next-age life,” is smoother.
Either way, we can inherit eternal or next-age life beginning right now. Jesus is ushering in the kingdom, and we can enter his kingdom right now. It will be fully manifested at his Second Coming, and so will our eternal or next-age life.
It works out like this in simplified form:
⸻> This Age ⸻> Second Coming ⸻That Age ⸻>
5 The Kingdom of God: Already Here, But Not Yet Fully
Once again: What Do Words ‘Eternity,’ ‘Eternal’ Fully Mean in the Bible?
Jesus promises rewards both in this age and in that age, the next one.
Mark 10:30 says “with persecutions.” Church history says all the twelve disciples suffered persecution.
Here is just one fulfillment of the persecutions against the twelve apostles.
40 Summoning the apostles, they flogged them, ordered them not to speak about the name of Jesus, and dismissed them. 41 And so they left the presence of the High Council, rejoicing that they were considered worthy to be dishonored because of the name. 42 And every day they did not stop teaching and spreading the good news in the temple and households that the Messiah is Jesus. (Acts 5:40-42)
Note how they had a new community family (v. 42). They were also taking new land for the kingdom. Soon they will leave and preach in many places and take more territory.
Paul, not one of the twelve, suffered it too, particularly. He even lists his hardships, in this passage:
I have worked much harder, been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again. 24 Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. 25 Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was pelted with stones, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, 26 I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my fellow Jews, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false believers. 27 I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked. 28 Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches. 29 Who is weak, and I do not feel weak? Who is led into sin, and I do not inwardly burn? (1 Cor. 11:23-29, NIV)
As he traveled around and planted churches, Paul got a new family, filled with all sorts of brothers and sisters and mothers and new territories for the gospel.
Church historian Eusebius (AD 260/265 – 339/340) says that Peter was crucified upside down, in Rome (Ecclesiastical History III.1). He also reports that Paul was beheaded in Rome under Nero (II.25).
Beware of super-rich preachers who claim these verses, particularly about landed property or book sales pumped up by their TV platforms and large church purchases of those books, for themselves.
GrowApp for Luke 18:18-30
A.. Read John 3:3. How does one enter the kingdom of God?
B.. As you entered the kingdom, did you have to leave behind your old life—even your family and friends, if necessary—to follow him? Have you received a new kingdom family and new friends in return?
Jesus Predicts His Suffering, Death, and Resurrection (Luke 18:31-34)
|31 Παραλαβὼν δὲ τοὺς δώδεκα εἶπεν πρὸς αὐτούς· ἰδοὺ ἀναβαίνομεν εἰς Ἰερουσαλήμ, καὶ τελεσθήσεται πάντα τὰ γεγραμμένα διὰ τῶν προφητῶν τῷ υἱῷ τοῦ ἀνθρώπου· 32 παραδοθήσεται γὰρ τοῖς ἔθνεσιν καὶ ἐμπαιχθήσεται καὶ ὑβρισθήσεται καὶ ἐμπτυσθήσεται 33 καὶ μαστιγώσαντες ἀποκτενοῦσιν αὐ τόν, καὶ τῇ ἡμέρᾳ τῇ τρίτῃ ἀναστήσεται. 34 καὶ αὐτοὶ οὐδὲν τούτων συνῆκαν καὶ ἦν τὸ ῥῆμα τοῦτο κεκρυμμένον ἀπ’ αὐτῶν καὶ οὐκ ἐγίνωσκον τὰ λεγόμενα.||31 Jesus took the twelve aside and said to them, “Consider! We are going up to Jerusalem, and everything written in the prophets about the Son of Man will be fulfilled. 32 He will be handed over to the Gentiles and be mocked and arrogantly mistreated and spit on. 33 And after they flog him, they will kill him, and on the third day he will rise again.” 34 But they understood none of this, and this spoken message was hidden from them, and they did not comprehend what was spoken.|
Jesus had already predicted his death in Luke 9:22 and 9:44 and here; and also see Luke 12:50; 13:32-33. Here are the predictions and fulfillment. Luke’s first four verbs are passive, indicating God fulfills the predictions. Jesus won’t fight to fulfill the prophecies, but let God do this. Incidentally, in Matthew 20:17-19 and Mark 10:32-34, the verbs are active, indicating the responsibility rests on the people involved, like Pilate and Herod.
Prediction: The Son of Man will be handed over to Gentiles.
Fulfillment: Luke 23:22, 25
Prediction: He will be mocked.
Fulfillment: Luke 22:63; 23:11, 36
Prediction: He will endure shameful treatment.
Fulfillment: the whole trial is shameful treatment, like false accusations and flogging and crowning him with thorns.
Prediction: He will be spit on.
Fulfillment: Mark 14:65 // Matt. 26:67 and Mark 15:19 // Matt. 27:30.
Now we switch from the passive verbs to other forms.
Prediction: They will flog him.
Fulfillment: John 19:1
Prediction: They will kill him.
Fulfillment: Luke 23:26-46
Prediction: He will rise again. (He will raise himself from the dead).
Fulfillment: Luke 24:1-6
Bock, pp. 1496-98, though I modified his version.
“Consider”: it is a command or imperative that is often untranslated, but I like it. It could be translated as “Look!” In this context, it is much stronger than “Look!” Maybe “Look out!” But Luke had at his disposal other verbs that have this meaning, so let’s translate it as “Consider!” It is the storyteller’s art to draw attention to the people and action that follows. “As you, my audience, sit and listen to me read this Gospel, listen up! Look! The atmosphere is charged with a fatal moment.” Professional grammarians say that when “look!” introduces a character, then he or she will play a major role in the pericope or section. Alternatively, when a verb follows “look!” then a significant act is about to take place and the person or people are less significant, which is the case here—the death of Jesus is more significant than the disciples. (Culy, Parsons, Stigall, p. 21).
Jesus was predicted in the entire Bible. He fulfilled many of them about his first coming—right now—and he will fulfill the rest at his Second Coming. Please see my post with a long table of the OT verses next to NT verses:
“Son of Man”: see v. 8 for more comments and a link.
Jesus will be placed in the hands of Pontius Pilate and his guard. They are the Gentiles (non-Jews).
“be mocked”: it can also be translated as “ridiculed, make fun of.”
“arrogantly mistreated”: this is one verb in Greek. It can also be translated as “treat in an arrogant or spiteful manner, mistreat, scoff at, insult.” It refers to the mockers who mistreat the righteous (Zeph. 3:11-12). It is equivalent to mocking.
“spit”: it simply means what it says here.
“flog”: it means to lash with a whip. It may allude to Is. 50:6, which says that the Suffering Servant gave his back to those who strike. After the flogging, they shall kill him. They did this on the cross.
But on the third day, he will rise or be resurrected again. This is the key to early apostolic preaching. All throughout the first five chapters of Acts, Peter and the others refer to it time and again. Paul referenced the resurrection when he spoke to the Athenians in Mars Hill (Acts 17:30-32). As to the third day, some people take this to mean literally seventy-two hours, because Jonah spent three days and three nights in the big fish (Jnh. 1:17; Matt. 12:40), so Jesus must also spend seventy-two hours in the grave. But we over-read the intent here. The sign of Jonah was his coming out of the depths of the belly and the sea, which was a type of the resurrection. Let’s not over-analyze it. Jesus was crucified and died on Friday; he spent Saturday in the grave—or his body did—and his spirit and soul and body were raised from the dead early on Sunday morning: Friday, Saturday, and Sunday—three days. They don’t have to be seventy-two hours. It was the Jewish custom to count a partial day as one day. Go to biblegateway.com and type in third day, and it is amazing how many context the phrase appears and has deep significance.
But on the third day, he will rise or be resurrected again. This is the key to early apostolic preaching. All throughout the first five chapters of Acts, Peter and the others refer to it time and again. Paul referenced the resurrection when he spoke to the Athenians in Mars Hill (Acts 17:30-32).
1 Cor. 15:3-8 is all about the resurrection:
3 For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, 5 and that he appeared to Cephas [Peter], and then to the Twelve. 6 After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. 7 Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, 8 and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born. (1 Cor. 15:3-8, NIV)
Paul omitted the fact that he appeared to women first. He appeared then to Cephas (Peter) and then the twelve. Next, he appeared to more than 500 at a time. Where did that happen? In Galilee? In or around Jerusalem? Probably the holy city. In any case, Paul recounted what he knew. And the resurrection is the key reality and doctrine. Never give it up as nonessential, people of God. It is the core of our faith.
11. Do I Really Know Jesus? He Was Resurrected from the Dead
12. Do I Really Know Jesus? What Was His Resurrected Body Like?
13. Do I Really Know Jesus? His Resurrection Changes Everything
Now the twelve are still obtuse.
“this spoken message”: “this” is a demonstrative pronoun, and “spoken message” comes from the noun rhēma (pronounced ray-mah). The rhē stem means speaking, and the –ma suffix means “result of.” So the noun adds up to mean “the result of speaking.” BDAG says it means, depending on the context: (1) “that which is said, word, saying, expression, or statement of any kind”; (2) after the Hebrew it can mean “an event that can be spoken about, thing, object, matter, event.”
“comprehend”: the verb is ginōskō (pronounced gee-noh-skoh, and the “g” is hard, as in “get”). The verb is so common that it is used 222 times in the NT. (Its cognate epiginōskō, pronounced eh-pea-gee-noh-skoh is used 44 times). BDAG has numerous definitions of the verb, depending on the context: (1) “to arrive at a knowledge of someone or something, know, know about, make acquaintance of”; (2) “to acquire information through some means, learn (of), ascertain, find out”; (3) “grasp the significance or meaning of something, understand, comprehend”; (4) “to be aware of something, perceive, notice, realize”; (5) to have sexual intercourse with, sex / marital relations with”; (6) “to have come to the knowledge of, have come to know, know.” (7) “to indicate that one does know, acknowledge, recognize.” So we can know a person, a thing, a fact, an abstract thing like pure math. We can even know God personally or know about him from a distance, like a theological truth. It is best to know him personally. We can know all these things deeply or shallowly. Probably the third definition is best here.
“what was spoken” is comes from the verb legō (pronounced leh-goh), and it is the standard verb for speaking or saying. So it is synonymous with rhēma.
The twelve were baffled. Apparently, they still expected a triumphal, Messianic, military coup on Jerusalem and the Gentiles. Instead, he will be handed over to the Gentiles, not conquer them. They will mistreat him and kill him. And then the Messiah will rise again, but even then he would not conquer the Romans, but win them to his kingdom, as the large Christian community in Rome proves.
GrowApp for Luke 18:31-34
A.. Are you willing to follow God’s plan for your life, even if it involves some unpleasant obstacles?
B.. Do you believe that God will help you overcome those obstacles? Do you have a story to tell?
Jesus Heals a Blind Beggar near Jericho (Luke 18:35-43)
|35 Ἐγένετο δὲ ἐν τῷ ἐγγίζειν αὐτὸν εἰς Ἰεριχὼ τυφλός τις ἐκάθητο παρὰ τὴν ὁδὸν ἐπαιτῶν. 36 ἀκούσας δὲ ὄχλου διαπορευομένου ἐπυνθάνετο τί εἴη τοῦτο. 37 ἀπήγγειλαν δὲ αὐτῷ ὅτι Ἰησοῦς ὁ Ναζωραῖος παρέρχεται. 38 καὶ ἐβόησεν λέγων· Ἰησοῦ υἱὲ Δαυίδ, ἐλέησόν με. 39 καὶ οἱ προάγοντες ἐπετίμων αὐτῷ ἵνα σιγήσῃ, αὐτὸς δὲ πολλῷ μᾶλλον ἔκραζεν· υἱὲ Δαυίδ, ἐλέησόν με. 40 σταθεὶς δὲ ὁ Ἰησοῦς ἐκέλευσεν αὐτὸν ἀχθῆναι πρὸς αὐτόν. ἐγγίσαντος δὲ αὐτοῦ ἐπηρώτησεν αὐτόν· 41 τί σοι θέλεις ποιήσω; ὁ δὲ εἶπεν· κύριε, ἵνα ἀναβλέψω. 42 καὶ ὁ Ἰησοῦς εἶπεν αὐτῷ· ἀνάβλεψον· ἡ πίστις σου σέσωκέν σε. 43 καὶ παραχρῆμα ἀνέβλεψεν καὶ ἠκολούθει αὐτῷ δοξάζων τὸν θεόν. καὶ πᾶς ὁ λαὸς ἰδὼν ἔδωκεν αἶνον τῷ θεῷ.||35 And so it happened that while he was nearing Jericho, a certain blind man was sitting by the road, begging. 36 When he heard the crowd passing through, he asked what this might be. 37 They announced to him that Jesus the Nazarene was passing by. 38 So he cried out, “Jesus, son of David! Have mercy on me!” 39 But those leading the way scolded him so that he would be quiet. He shouted much louder: “Son of David! Have mercy on me!” 40 Jesus stopped and ordered him to be brought to him. When he came near, Jesus asked him, 41 “What do you want me to do for you?” He said, “Lord, that I may see again!” 42 And Jesus said to him, “See again! Your faith has healed you.” 43 And instantly he saw again and began to follow him, glorifying God. And all the people, seeing this, gave praise to God.|
In the next chapter, Luke names a man from Jericho, Zacchaeus, but here he does not name the blind man, though Mark does. Why? See v. 35 for possible answers.
In any case, this is a very moving scene in its immediate reality and earthiness.
Mark identifies the blind beggar as Bartimaeus (literally son of Timaeus). Why did Mark know his name, while Luke does not mention it? It is likely that (healed) Bartimaeus was known in the early Christian community with whom Mark or Peter (or both) was associated. Luke may not have known him or knew anyone who did when was researching his Gospel. And if he got this story from Mark’s Gospel which was based on Peter’s preaching, Luke may have omitted his name for reasons we don’t know or he considered it was a needless detail. Alternatively, Luke may have heard this story by another route than Mark’s Gospel, and Bartimaeus’s name was lost because he was unknown to Luke and the community he found to do his research.
See Mark 10 for fuller commentary:
Let’s call him Bartimaeus here.
By analogy, yes, Luke found out who Zacchaeus was and named him (Luke 19:1-10), another inhabitant of Jericho, but apparently Luke researched this prominent official and included his name. In other words, it’s easy to spot why a Gospel writer includes details (he researched them himself), but not why he omits details (he may not have discovered them or he has another purpose we can’t figure out).
Jericho was a busy town on a busy road, so Bartimaeus chose a good spot.
These is some dispute about whether Jesus was entering or leaving Jericho. Luke 19:1 says he was coming in and passing through the city. For a possible answer to the dispute, please click on this post and see the comments on Matt. 20:29-34.
However, in the bigger picture, we must stop the foolishness of a brittle position on Scripture. “If there are disagreements or differences, then the brittle Bible breaks into pieces, and so does my brittle faith! I quit!” No. Don’t allow sneering skeptics to get under your skin (I no longer do). The main point of the passage is clear and has been accomplished in all three versions. Jesus healed a blind man, which proves he is the son of David–greater than the son of David.
My view of Scripture: It’s very high, but I don’t believe in “total inerrancy” or “hyper-inerrancy” or “hard-inerrancy”; I allow for the inspired authors to rearrange the material.
‘Total’ Inerrancy and Infallibility or Just Infallibility?
Begin a series on the reliability of the Gospels. Start with the Conclusion which has quick summaries and links back to the other parts.
15. The Historical Reliability of the Gospels: Conclusion
The Gospels have a massive number of agreements in their storylines:
14. Similarities among John’s Gospel and the Synoptic Gospels
See this part in the series that puts differences in perspective (a difference ≠ a contradiction):
13. Are There Contradictions in the Gospels?
Bartimaeus heard the commotion that was beyond the ordinary. It was a bigger crowd, for the pilgrimage to Jerusalem before Passover. Excitement filled the air. He naturally asked what all of the noise meant. Those leading the way reported or announced or informed (the verb can be translated by those terms) that Jesus was passing by. Bartimaeus had heard about him. Healers / teachers who get results get attention.
“Somehow the blind man connects the dots from ‘Jesus the Nazarene’ to the ‘Son of David’” (Garland, comment on 18:36-38).
And on the instance that he heard Jesus was passing by, Bartimaeus cried out, the Greek implying a loud voice. “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me. The phrase “have mercy” is one verb in Greek. In English we can’t properly say, “Compassion me!” or “Mercy me!” Instead we have to say, “Show me mercy!” or Have mercy on me!” But in Greek you could. Mercy is a verb. It takes action. However, we can say, “Pity me!” And some translations go for it.
But the leaders of the crowd, no doubt saying, “Make way for the Master!” maybe took the front to help out or to show off a little. “Someone important is in the crowd, and we’re leading the way for him. His importance rubs off on us!” But there’s too little information for us to know whether they had this motive. Whatever the case, they told Bartimaeus to keep quiet. “Quiet, you! The Lord is in a big hurry! He doesn’t have time for the likes of you!” They were the self-appointed watchdogs of Jesus’s ministry, telling people to schedule an appointment.
“scolded”: scroll back up to v. 15 and look for “rebuked.”
But Bartimaeus was having none of it. He cried out even much louder. His need was greater than their censure. What about you? Is your need greater than social decorum? Are you willing to break down society’s walls to get to Jesus?
Thankfully, Jesus ignored the self-appointed watchdogs of Jesus’s ministry schedule and stopped. He ordered people to bring Bartimaeus to him. Then Jesus asked a question that was so obvious that it seems absurd to us today and probably to the crowd back then. “What do you me to do for you? So what does this mean? The question is open-ended.
Sometimes hotshot preachers try to out-insight the inspired writers of Scripture. “This a dumb and useless question! Everyone knows what the blind man wanted!” Morris, however, has the right idea: “Asked to put his desire into words, the man crystallized his longing, Lord, let me receive my sight” (comment on vv. 40-41, emphasis original).
“see again”: it comes from the verb anablepō (pronounced ah-nah-bleh-poh), and blepō is the very frequent verb “I see.” Attach the prefix ana– in front, and it means “up” (as in “look up”) or “re-“ (as in literally “re-see”). Therefore, the verb could be translated, depending on the context, as follows: “Look up” (the main meaning), “regain one’s sight,” “receive sight,” or “become able to see.” I like “see again,” and I was happy to see that one grammar-translation book has the same translation (Culy, Parsons, Stigall, p. 582).
Jesus simply commanded with the same verb that Bartimaeus used: “See again!” It is the simple aorist (past as in a firm command) imperative, a command. I like the symmetry. If Jesus ever asks you by his Spirit what you want him to do for you, be sure to ask properly and accurately. Make your answer short, like Bartimaeus did.
“saved”: scroll back up to v. 26 for more comments. The verb is versatile, but here it means “healed” or “delivered” or “cured.”
What was the channel through Bartimaeus was healed? His faith. How did he show his faith? He cried out and shouted. He felt his faith or conviction so deeply that he ignored or shouted over the naysayers and watchdogs who shushed him.
This is a great and understandable response from him and the crowd.
Word Study on Praise and Worship
Bible Basics about Praise and Worship
GrowApp for Luke 18:35-43
A.. How desperate are you to receive a healing touch from God? Would you break down society’s rules and the naysayers to approach Jesus?
B.. Why did Jesus ask what Bartimaeus wanted Jesus to do for him? How would you respond if he asked you? Do you really know what you need, say, in your heart?
Summary and Conclusion
This magnificent chapter in Luke’s Gospel begins with an encouraging parable. We must pray and not be discouraged. Persist in prayer. Remember—God is unlike the unjust judge.
Then another illustration / parable of the self-righteous, priggish Pharisee in contrast to the Pharisee teaches the Great Reversal. Recall that Luke 1:51-53 and 2:34 says that Jesus would cause the fall of the mighty and the rise of the needy. The tax-collector, probably rich, was humble, so he was exalted, and he left his time of prayer righteous before God. The Pharisee exalted himself in his own eyes and—so he thought—in the eyes of God. But he was humbled. He walked away from his prayer unrighteous. This theme of the extra-pious v. the despised tax collector will be repeated in Zacchaeus’s eagerness to see Jesus (Luke 19:1-10) contrasted with the religious establishment in Jerusalem plotting to kill Jesus.
In a moving passage, children were blessed by Jesus. Apparently they were really young, but Luke used two words, making their age range upward to little children who could understand at least a little. In any case, we should care for children in our churches and families. Do you pray for yours, for them to receive salvation and grow in their relationship with God?
The rich ruler, whom the Gospel of Mark identifies as young, was very eager. Mark says he ran up to Jesus. So his initial compliment (“good teacher”) appears to be insincere or just the thing to say at the moment. It was not flippant, but casual. He didn’t know who was standing in front of him. The rich ruler He was unwilling to let go of his wealth and his accompanying power / influence. He was possessed by his possessions. Their grip had to be released.
Jesus foretold his death for a third time, here and Luke 9:22 and 9:43-49. But he had already predicted his death other times, sometimes indirectly: Luke 5:35; 12:50; 13:32-33.
Finally, in a moving and earthy scene—one can almost sense the dust—the blind beggar, whom the Gospel of Mark identifies as Bartimaeus, son of Timaeus, he asked what all the commotion was about, as he sat by the side of the road, begging. Some in the crowd announced to him that it was Jesus of Nazareth passing through the area. The poor man shouted at him, calling him by his name and one of his titles: Son of David. Jesus did not rebuke him for telling the truth about him, as he did to the rich ruler. Those leading the crowd told him to be quiet, but he shouted even louder. His faith drove him. Then Jesus asked an interesting question. What does the man want Jesus to do for him? Sometimes people with needs simply don’t know what they want. And if they do, they need to speak it out and articulate it. Shouting and speaking for an answer to your deepest need—don’t underestimate it. Let your faith shine, even when society tells you to shut up.
Bock, Darrel L. Luke 1:1-9:50. Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament. Vol. 1 (Baker, 1994).
—. Luke 9:51-24:53. Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament. Vol. 2. (Baker 1996).
Culy, Martin M., Mikael C. Parsons. Joshua J. Stigall. Luke: A Handbook on the Greek Text. (Baylor UP, 2010).
Fitzmyer, Joseph A., SJ. The Gospel according to Luke, I-IX. Vol. 28. The Anchor Bible. (Doubleday, 1981).
—. The Gospel according to St. Luke, X-XIV. The Anchor Bible. Vol. 28A. (Doubleday, 1985).
Garland, David E. Luke. Zondervan Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament. (Zondervan, 2011).
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Green, Joel B. The Gospel of Luke. The New International Commentary on the New Testament. (Eerdmans, 1997).
Liefeld, Walter L. and David W. Pao. Luke. The Expositor’s Bible Commentary. Rev. ed. (Zondervan, 2007).
Marshall, I. Howard. The Gospel of Luke: A Commentary on the Greek Text. The New International Greek Testament Commentary. (Eerdmans, 1978).
Morris, Leon. Luke. Tyndale New Testament Commentaries. 2nd ed. Vol. 3. (IVP Academic, 1988).
Stein, Robert H. Luke: An Exegetical and Theological Exposition of Holy Scripture. The New American Commentary. Vol. 24. (Broadman and Holman, 1992).