IV. JESUS' GALILEAN MINISTRY (4:14-9:50)
A. BEGINNING OF JESUS' PUBLIC MINISTRY (4:14-30)
1. RETURN TO GALILEE (4:14-15, based on Mark 1:14-15)
14-15. As in Mark and Matthew, Jesus' public ministry begins in Galilee after the temptation prelude. He returned in the power of the Spirit: cf. 3:22; 4:1. Luke makes no mention of John's imprisonment in the interim (Matthew 4:12; Mark 1:14). According to Luke, the only interruption of the Galilean ministry before Jesus' final departure for Jerusalem (9:51) was a brief interlude in "the country of the Gerasenes, which is opposite Galilee" (8:26)--unless Luke's alteration of Mark's "Galilee" (Mark 1:39) to "Judea" in 4:44 was intended to imply a preaching tour at this point that extended into other parts of Palestine. Glorified="honored" (Goodspeed).
2. REJECTION AT NAZARETH (4:16-30)
Luke omits the summary of Jesus' message in Mark 1:15 and puts a representative illustration of it in its place. The narrative is based on Mark 6:l-6--omitted at the corresponding point (following 8:56) in the Third Gospel--but it is uncertain whether Luke expanded Mark on his own initiative, or discovered the material in some special source and adapted it to Mark. At any rate he altered Mark's order to make the incident a dramatic frontispiece to Jesus' public ministry. Matthew also implies a preliminary visit to Nazareth (Matthew 4:13) before the commencement of the work at Capernaum (in contrast to Mark), and the notice may have stood in Q.
16. Worship in a Palestinian synagogue consisted of the recitation of the Shema, a prayer, a fixed lection from the Law (pArAshAh), a free lection from the Prophets (haphtArAh), an explanation and application of one or both of the scriptural passages, and a blessing by a priest or a prayer by a layman. The scripture was read in Hebrew, but a translator turned it, verse by verse, into Aramaic. There was no official "minister." An invitation to read and to preach could be extended by the ruling eiders to any competent member of the congregation or visitor (cf. Acts 13:15). It was the practice to stand up to read, and to sit down to preach (vss. 20-21).
17. Since it is improbable that the book or "codex" form of papyrus was yet in use, we might better translate with Goodspeed: "And the roll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him, and he unrolled it." The Law was read through over a period of three years--one year in Babylonia--but the reader chose his own selection from the Prophets.
18-19. The greater part of this short lection is from the LXX text of Isa. 61:1-2. To heal the broken-hearted is a clause in the source that is omitted by the best Lukan MSS. To set at liberty those who are oppressed is from the LXX text of Isa. 58:6. Both the LXX original and Luke's version should be punctuated as follows:
The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
Because he has anointed me;
He has sent me to preach good news to the poor;
To proclaim release to the captives...
The original expressed some postexilic prophet's consciousness of mission. The same passage underlies Jesus' words to the emissaries of John the Baptist in 7:22 (Matthew 11:5). Therefore Jesus as well as the evangelist may have interpreted it as illuminating his commission. In its Lukan context he has anointed me refers to Jesus' baptism. It is characteristic of Luke's conception of Jesus that he was sent to preach good news to the poor (cf. 6:20). The Hebrew original of the acceptable year of the Lord is best translated "the year of the LORD's favor" (Amer. Trans.). In our context the phrase has reference to the messianic age.
20. The synagogue attendant (hazzAn) was a general factotum, whose duties ranged from teaching children to scourging criminals, and included that of taking the scripture roll from the ark and returning it. As in Acts 6:15 and 10:4, the verb that here is translated were fixed suggests an atmosphere of suspense.
21. "Today this scripture that you have just heard has been fulfilled" is a more attractive rendering than either the KJV or the RSV. According to Luke, Jesus' first public announcement claims that he is the fulfillment of the O.T. prediction. The Messiah has come and with him the new era of "the Lord's favor"--the kingdom of God.
22. Read with the RSV: And all spoke well of him. Some Marcan matter is now worked into the account and the transition is not easy. The comment "Is not this Joseph's son?"--like its counterpart in Mark 6:3--suggests hostility rather than surprise.
23. Physician, heal yourself: "Charity begins at home"; a proverb with equivalents in every age and language. The Oxyrhynchus Papyrus fragment (early third century A.D.) has a variant that has obviously been adapted to fit the Lukan application: "Jesus said: No prophet is acceptable in his own country, and no physician performs cures on those who know him" (Oxyrhynchus Papyrus I. 11). The proverb's application suggests that the whole narrative originally was located later in Jesus' ministry, for Luke has not yet reported any activity at Capernaum.
24. Also Marcan matter (Mark 6:4). Were vss. 22c and 24 missing from the source Luke was employing at this point? The narrative would flow more freely without them.
25-27. The example of two O.T. prophets might serve to silence a complaint that Jesus' "mighty works" ought to have been performed in his native village (vs. 23), though the parallelism is not complete since Capernaum was presumably a Jewish town. However, it has little bearing on the observation that "no prophet is acceptable in his own country" (vs. 24). The Elijah incident is narrated in I Kings 17:8-24. The statement that the heaven was shut up three years and six months is also made in Jas. 5:17-18. According to I Kings 18:1, the duration of the drought was less than three years. In apocalyptic literature "three and a half years" (the half of seven--"a time, and times, and half a time" [Dan. 7:25; Rev. 12:14; etc.]) had become the stereotyped period of evil and distress, and this may explain the change in chronology. Zarephath, in the land of Sidon, is the modern Sarafand, a town on the coast road, midway between Sidon and Tyre. It would be clear to the readers of the Gospel that a woman living there would be Syrophoenician by race. The Elisha story is found in II Kings 5:1-14. Again the point is that a prophet of God ministered to a non-Jew.
28-30. In Mark 6:5-6 there is no reference to any overt act of hostility to Jesus. All in the synagogue were filled with wrath because the benefits of Jesus' mission were to accrue to others. Modern Nazareth is situated on a steep slope, but changes in topography since the first century A.D. have been such that it is impossible to locate the brow of the hill that Luke had in mind, if indeed it was not entirely a literary detail. Passing through the midst of them implies that Jesus was miraculously invulnerable to mob violence (cf. John 7:30).
Placed as it is, at the beginning of Jesus' public ministry, the Nazareth story serves as a prelude to the whole of Luke-Acts--to the entire account of the emergence of Christianity as a non-Jewish religion. Many of the main motifs are introduced: the praeparatio evangelica in the O.T.; the endowment with the Spirit; the good news to the poor; the proclamation of the messianic age; the hostility of the Jews; and the mission to the Gentiles. The rejection of Jesus by his fellow townsmen prepares the reader for the rejection of Christ by the Sanhedrin, and the rejection of the gospel by the Jewish nation. We are prepared at the beginning of the work for Paul's statement with which it ends: "Let it be known to you then that this salvation of God has been sent to the Gentiles; they will listen" (Acts 28:28; cf. Intro., p. 7).
B. JESUS' MINISTRY IN AND ABOUT CAPERNAUM (4:31-5:16)
There are unmistakable traces of the use of Mark in 3:1-4:30, but the first great block of Marcan matter is incorporated in 4:31-44. Only minor changes in the interests of clarity, brevity, and style have been imposed on the source.
1. HEALING OF A DEMONIAC (4:31-37=Mark 1:21-28)
31-32. Went down: from the Galilean highlands to a town situated 686 feet below sea level. Capernaum has been identified with Tell Hûm, the site of extensive ruins on the northwestern shore of the Sea of Galilee. In Jesus' day it was an important toll station on the trade route from Ptolemais to Damascus and a port for maritime trade with Philip's tetrarchy and the Decapolis. It was therefore strategically located as a center for Jesus' Galilean ministry. For the benefit of non-Jewish readers Luke describes it as a city of Galilee.
33-34. The synagogue at Capernaum is said in 7:5 (Q) to have been built by an officer in the Roman army. The ruins of the most ancient synagogue yet found in Galilee are at Tell Hûm. Although it dates from about A.D. 200, Jack Finegan believes that "the Capernaum synagogue stands on the site and follows the plan of an earlier synagogue or of earlier synagogues, and therefore may be safely regarded as a reconstruction of the one in which Jesus himself taught" (Light from the Ancient Past [Princeton: University Press, 1946], p. 228). The spirit of an unclean demon: the widespread Oriental belief in demonic possession as the cause of disease is scarcely to be found in the O.T. but it flourished in late Judaism under Babylonian and Persian influence. It pervades the gospel tradition. It is likely that many of the miracle stories in the Gospels have been borrowed from popular Jewish and Hellenistic cycles and attached to Jesus. There is also an observable tendency on the part of the evangelists to heighten and embellish the reputation that Jesus had in their sources as a healer and exorcist. Nevertheless even in his own lifetime it is clear that Jesus was widely known as a healer, particularly of what we should now describe as mental and nervous diseases. Ah! is an interjection of dismay. Have you come to destroy us? i.e., into the world. The demon speaks for the whole regiment of Satan. In late Judaism the freeing of men from enslavement to Belial and the destruction of all evil spirits were acknowledged functions of the Messiah (cf. Test. Simeon 6:6 and Test. Zebulun 9:8). The Holy One of God is a messianic title (cf. John 6:69).
Mark had imposed a theory of "the messianic secret" on his source material. By virtue of their supernatural knowledge the demons had recognized Jesus as Messiah, but he had ordered them not to betray the fact. Luke takes over Mark's phrase but not his doctrine (cf. also vs. 41b). Having done him no harm is a Lukan addition to heighten the miraculous.
36-37. Read What is this word? with the RSV. It is to be understood in the light of its Marcan source: "What is this? A new teaching!" (Mark 1:27.)
This story of miraculous healing exhibits the more or less stereotyped form of such narratives in the Gospels: (a) the demon recognizes the exorcist and attempts to evade his authority; (b) the exorcist reproves the demon and employs a formula of exorcism;(c) the demon takes a violent departure from the individual he had possessed; and (d) the bystanders are astonished at the event.
2. HEALING OF SIMON'S WIFE'S MOTHER (4:38-39=Mark 1:29-31)
38-39. The reader is unprepared for Simon and his intimacy with Jesus. Luke had omitted Mark's account of the disciple's call (Mark 1:16-20) and has not yet given his own (5:1-11). Paul confirms the fact that Simon (Cephas) was a married man (I Cor. 9:5). In Mark, Andrew and James and John are mentioned as well as Simon, and an editorial slip on Luke's part allows the plural to remain in they besought him (and in the them of vs. 39). And he stood over her, i.e., at the head of her bed. Luke gilds the lily. The fever was high, and after the exorcism the woman rose immediately. Vs. 39b emphasizes the success of the miracle. The detail may be unhistorical, for the Talmud expressly prohibits the table service of men by women (Kiddushin 70a). In the early days of the church "the twelve" were accustomed "to serve tables" as well as to preach (Acts 6:2).
3. HEALINGS ON THE EVENING AFTER THE SABBATH (4:40-41=Mark 1:32-34)
40-41. When the sun was setting: i.e., when sabbath regulations were no longer binding. By adding he laid his hands on... them, Luke specifies the technique of healing that Jesus used on this occasion. In Mark, Jesus healed "many" (Mark 1:34); in Luke, every one. "Natural" diseases are apparently distinguished from illnesses due to demon possession. The best MSS support the RSV reading: You are the Son of God! This messianic appellation, and the following phrase but he rebuked them, were inserted by Luke at this point from Mark 3:11-12, which has no parallel otherwise in the Third Gospel. Luke's narrative--as well as Mark's-is an enthusiastic generalization of Jesus' healing powers.
4. EPILOGUE TO A DAY AT CAPERNAUM (4:42-44=Mark 1:35-39)
42-44. The Marcan version of this narrative leaves the impression that Jesus' departure from Capernaum was a flight. He sought to escape the insistent demands of the residents. By omitting Mark's "and there he prayed" (Mark 1:35)--the Third Evangelist more often adds some such statement (3:21; 5:16; 6:12)--Luke implies that Jesus departed in order to extend his mission. It is the people who seek Jesus, rather than the disciples as in Mark 1:36, for the latter--according to Luke--had not yet been chosen. For the same reason Luke omits Mark's "Let us go" (Mark 1:38). I must preach the good news of the kingdom of God to the other cities also is a clarification of Mark's "that I may preach there also" (Mark 1:38) and the first occurrence in Luke of Jesus' characteristic message. I was sent for this purpose is a christological interpretation of Mark's "for this is why I came out" (Mark 1:38). For a similar phrasing of Jesus' sense of commission see John 8:42. The weight of MS evidence supports Judea (RSV) rather than Galilee (KJV), though the latter stands in Mark 1:39. Luke often uses Judea for Palestine (1:5; 6:17; 7:17; 23:5; Acts 10:37) and would seem to do so here. Did he wish to correct Mark's picture of a ministry strictly limited at the outset to Galilee?
5. CALL OF THE FIRST DISCIPLES (5:1-11)
Luke had omitted Mark's account of the call of Simon and his associates to discipleship (Mark 1:16-20) but now, at a later point in the sequence of events, he inserts this variant. The story makes no mention of Andrew.
5:1-3. In Luke the word of God is Jesus' own preaching (8:11, 21; 11:28); in Acts it is the apostolic message (Acts 4:31; 6:2; etc.). The lake of Gennesaret is a name derived from the plain that lies to the south of Capernaum (Matthew 14:34; Mark 6:53), a designation peculiar in the N.T. to Luke, and more accurate than Mark's "sea" (cf. Josephus Antiquities XVIII. 2. 1). According to Luke, Simon had been associated with Jesus for some time before his formal call.
4-9. The story of the miraculous draught of fish has a parallel in John 21:3-14, where it appears to foreshadow the success of the later Christian mission and is associated with the senior disciple's rehabilitation after disgrace. In Luke's source, or in the oral form in which the story reached the evangelist, it may also have been a postresurrection narrative with some similar symbolical purpose. But Luke has obscured this by making the miracle the occasion of Simon's call. The temptation to allegorize Luke's version must be resisted. Whatever the original symbolism in Luke's source--and in John's version--Luke's fish are fish, not Christian converts. Master appears six times in Luke as a title for Jesus. Nondisciples employ "teacher." The great shoal of fish numbers "a hundred and fiftythree" in John 21:11. Their partners in the other boat are the sons of Zebedee (vs. 10), but need not have been specified in the original story. Simon Peter occurs nowhere else in Luke as a double name. Codex Bezae omits the nickname and its reading may be original. In that case "Peter" is first used in 6:14. Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord may originally have presupposed the story of Peter's denial. In its present setting it is an expression of dismay evoked by the supernatural. Lord as a title for Jesus appears twenty-one times in Luke. Twelve of the instances are in material peculiar to the Third Gospel.
10-11. Although the sons of Zebedee are also mentioned in John 21:2, they appear to have been introduced into this narrative--rather inadroitly--in order to adapt it to Mark 1:19. Do not be afraid; henceforth you will be catching men is Luke's substitute for the invitation in Mark 1:17. Simon alone is addressed (cf. the singular thou of the KJV),but as in Mark 1:20, his partners also left everything and followed Jesus. Codex Bezae smooths out such roughnesses by rewriting both verses: "James and John, sons of Zebedee, were his partners. He said to them: 'Do not remain ordinary fishermen. Come and let me make you fishers of men!' And when they heard the invitation, they left everything on the land and followed him."
6. HEALING OF A LEPER (5:12-16=Mark 1:40-45)
Luke resumes his use of Mark at the point at which he had interrupted it to introduce the preceding narrative.
12-14. As it is described in Lev. 13:1, leprosy was a term that covered a variety of ulcerous diseases, some of them curable. The leper was expected to separate himself and to cry "Unclean, unclean" as a warning to others of his condition (Lev. 13:45-46). Not until a priest had pronounced him "clean" and he had made the prescribed offerings, could he be readmitted to society (Lev. 14:1-32). Jesus touched the leper as part of the healer's technique. Go and show yourself to the priest is a command that is repeated in 17:14, the only other story in the Gospels about the healing of lepers. An offering for... cleansing would have to be made by the officiating priest in the temple at Jerusalem. The story assumes that Jesus contemplated no break with Jewish sacerdotalism. Like most other miracle stories, it served originally to satisfy the widespread interest of early Christians in Jesus' activities as a wonderworker.
15-16. According to Luke, Jesus withdrew to the wilderness to escape the throng of suppliants. Mark appears to assume that he was already "in the country" where people flocked to him "from every quarter." Luke again emphasizes that Jesus prayed at a crisis in his ministry.
C. CONTROVERSIES WITH PHARISEES (5:17-6:11)
Luke 5:17-6:11 (Mark 2:1-3:6) is a collection of stories about Jesus in controversy with Pharisaic opponents, together with some auxiliary matter. By recalling the words and example of Jesus they support the church's right to preach forgiveness of sins, to associate with those whom the synagogue had excommunicated, to disregard Jewish fasts, and to break Jewish sabbath laws. No doubt Mark found them already assembled, and Luke took them over almost as they stood in Mark.
1. HEALING OF A PARALYTIC (5:17-26=Mark 2:1-12)
The first narrative in the series combines a vivid account of Jesus as a healer (vss. 17-20a, 24b-26) and a pronouncement story about Jesus' authority to forgive sins (vss. 20b-24a).
17. Pharisees were members of a Jewish sect distinguished by its strict adherence to the written law and the supplementary interpretation. The name (or nickname) was derived from a Hebrew word (!y`wrp) meaning "the separated," i.e., those who avoided ceremonial defilement. They themselves preferred to be called "companions" (!yrbj). Teachers of the law is a Lukan paraphrase (for Gentile readers) of Mark's "scribes"--professional experts in Jewish legalism. The Lord is a reference in this instance to God. Luke appears to think of the power... to heal as a sporadic gift (cf. 6:19).
18-20a. The bed would resemble a stretcher. The narrative has in mind a one-story (and probably one-room) house. The crowd, spilling out into the courtyard, prevented access to Jesus through the door. The roof would be a flat thatch of straw or branches, coated with clay, and reached by an outside staircase. Luke presupposes non-Palestinian architecture when he speaks of tiles that could be lifted.
20b-24a. If these verses were originally part of a separate narrative, they do not necessarily imply a correlation of sickness and sin, although that was common enough in Judaism. Jesus' exercise of the right of absolution--referred to elsewhere only in 7:47-would serve to support the church's proclamation of forgiveness, a divine prerogative according to the O.T. and rabbinical tradition. Vs. 23 (Mark 2:9) links this bit of early Christian apologetic with the miracle story in which it is embedded, and which demonstrated Jesus' right to say: Your sins are forgiven you. The Son of man occurs in the Gospels only on the lips of Jesus. In the Similitudes of Enoch (46:2-4; 69:26-27, 29) the title is applied to the supernatural being who is to be God's vicegerent at the end of the present age and in the Day of Judgment. In the Gospels, also, it is ordinarily an apocalyptic synonym for "Messiah." Whether Jesus himself employed the term, remains a debated question. The hypothesis that it is to be explained as an overliteral translation into Greek of an Aramaic phrase meaning nothing more than "man" does not commend itself in this instance. It is clear that both Mark and Luke have Jesus' messianic authority in mind.
24b-26. He said to the man who was paralyzed is stylistically as awkward in Greek as in English, and this observation supports the hypothesis that two originally disparate narratives have been fused. According to an almost stereotyped formula, the cure by fiat is verified by the subsequent behavior of the patient and the impression it made on the onlookers. Amazement and awe were emotions evoked by the successful healer rather than the successful controversialist.
2. LEVI'S CALL (5:27-28=Mark 2:13-1)
27. A publican (KJV; publicanus in the Vulg.) was a lessee of the right to collect a Roman tax, and tax collector (RSV) is a better translation into English of the Greek name for a mere henchman. Levi is identified in Mark as a "son of Alphaeus." A certain James "the son of Alphaeus" is included in all Synoptic Gospel lists of the twelve disciples (Mark 3:18; etc.), but there is no suggestion in either Mark or Luke that Levi became a member of that inner circle. The author of the Gospel of Matthew has apparently confused Levi with Matthew, substituting the latter name in Matthew 9:9 and describing him in Matthew 10:3 as a "tax collector." The tax office need not have been more than a roadside table.
3. JESUS AS A GUEST IN LEVI'S HOUSE (5:29-32=Mark 2:15-17)
29-32. It is an open question whether Mark thought of Jesus as the host or the guest at the great feast, but Luke leaves no room for difference of opinion (cf. 19:5). Sitting at table is a modernization of the Greek word for "reclining" (RSV mg.). The presence of the Pharisees and their scribes at such a meal appears to be an incongruous element in the narrative, and many interpreters believe that the statement that they murmured against his disciples probably reflects a situation in which Judaism was charging the church with admitting riffraff to its membership. Nevertheless Jesus' association with men and women outside the pale of Jewish legalism is well fixed in the gospel tradition, and it would be hazardous to assume that the whole story has been derived from the saying in vs. 32. Sharing a meal with those who did not observe the law was included by the rabbis among the "things that shame a pupil of the scribes" (Berakoth 43b). Luke's addition of to repentance narrows the reference in vs. 32, which may originally have implied "to the kingdom."
4. PARABLE OF THE WEDDING GUESTS (5:33-35=Mark 2:18-20)
33-35. The better MSS support the RSV punctuation of vs. 33 as a statement rather than a question (contrast Mark). The disciples of the Pharisees is a peculiar phrase, for a Pharisee as a rabbi could have disciples, but not as a Pharisee. It is a plausible conjecture that the Pharisees were introduced into the story--at some pre-Marcan stage--to make it another "conflict." In that case the earlier contrast was between the practice of the disciples of John and that of Jesus' followers. "Groomsmen" is the specific meaning of the Semitism translated wedding guests. The gospel tradition makes it clear that neither Jesus nor his disciples practiced fasting, but the Didache, an early second-century Christian catechism, indicates that the early church did so: "Let not your fasts be with the hypocrites [Jews], for they fast on Mondays and Thursdays, but do you fast on Wednesdays and Fridays" (Did. 8:1). Therefore vs. 35 may be an early allegorical addition to a parable that originally compared the kingdom of God to a wedding festival. It makes Jesus declare that his disciples were justified in fasting after his death, although it was known both that they had not done so during his lifetime and that this omission had been approved by Jesus. It is improbable that Jesus predicted his death and justified a later ecclesiastical practice after this fashion.
5. PARABLES OF THE PATCH AND OF THE WINESKINS (5:36-39=Mark 2:21-22)
36-38. According to Mark, the first of these two parables declared that a patch of unbleached cloth will shrink after it has been sewed on a coat, and leave a tear that is worse than ever. Its parallelism with its twin is not as direct in Luke's version, which deplores ruining a new garment in order to patch an old, since the piece from the new will not match the old. New wine is unfermented wine (therefore "must"). Old wineskins are hard and dry, and will burst when the fermentation occurs. The parables teach that one must not mix the new with the old, but pass no judgment on the relative merits of the one and the other. In their Marcan and Lukan application they point the moral that the new Christian message and the old ceremonial forms of Judaism are incompatible; more specifically, that the new gospel has nothing to do with the old rite of fasting. Since their original context cannot be recovered, it is idle to speculate on the truth Jesus meant them to illustrate.
39. Omitted by Codex Bezae and its allies, and probably to be regarded as an interpolated apology for the relative failure of Christian missions among Jews.
6. CONCERNING PLUCKING AND EATING GRAIN ON THE SABBATH (6:1-5=Mark 2:23-28)
6:1-2. On the second sabbath after the first (KJV) is a difficult reading with strong support in the MSS, and its very difficulty is an argument in its favor. A reckoning in terms of post-Passover sabbaths is given in Lev. 23:15-16, and perhaps Luke had in mind the second sabbath in such a series. Barley is harvested in Palestine shortly before the Passover, and wheat shortly after. Therefore the story, if it is primitive, affords the incidental information that Jesus' ministry extended over a period that included at least two Passovers. The O.T. prohibition of sabbath labor had been supplemented in rabbinical tradition by a list of thirty-nine "major occupations" that were proscribed, among them harvesting and threshing (Shabbath 7:2). To pluck heads of grain in a neighbor's field was not considered an act of theft (Deut. 23:25), but to do so on the sabbath was a form of "harvesting," and was declared to be a breach of the law.
3-4. Jesus defends the legality of his disciples' act by an appeal to David's action when he was hungry (I Sam. 21:1-6). Human need can override the letter of the law. Luke omits Mark's mistaken reference to Abiathar (instead of Ahimelech) as high priest. The bread of the Presence: Twelve cakes that were placed each sabbath on a "table of pure gold" in the sanctuary, and eaten only by priests (Lev. 24:5-9). For an interesting insertion by Codex Bezae at this point see Intro., p. 21.
5. Another line of defense: The authority of the Messiah to set aside sabbath legislation. No doubt the church found this a useful argument in its controversy with Jews over the celebration of the Christian Sunday, but it is difficult to think of it as primitive. If the hypothesis that Son of man is an overliteral translation of an Aramaic phrase (a`ga rb) meaning "man" is accepted in this instance, Mark (followed by Luke and Matthew) has misinterpreted a far-reaching principle. Mark 2:27b is its natural premise, although its omission--if it was original--by Luke and Matthew (and by Codex Bezae and its allies in their text of Mark) is difficult to explain.
7. CONCERNING A HEALING ON THE SABBATH (6:6-11=Mark 3:1-6)
The fifth and last in this conflict series. Luke later incorporates two similar stories (13:10-17; 14:1-6). In each instance the motif of miracle is subordinated to that of controversy.
6-7. The Gospel According to the Hebrews, a lost variant of our Matthew, represented the cripple as addressing Jesus: "I was a stonemason, seeking a living with my hands; I implore you, Jesus, to restore me to health that I may not need to beg in shame" (Jerome On Matthew XII. 2). To heal on the sabbath, except in cases of extremity, was contrary to rabbinical interpretation of the law (Shabbath 22:6).
8-10. It is possible to interpret the first half of Jesus' double question as an ironical comparison of his own motives with those of his opponents--their malice makes them the real sabbathbreakers. Others see in it an idea similar to the one expressed in Jas. 4:17: "Whoever knows what is right to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin." Not to do good in this instance is to do evil. It is difficult to force the second half of the parallelism into either explanation, for it would be violent exegesis to conclude from it that the sabbath healing of the man who had the withered hand was a matter of life or death. Many interpreters believe the double question was once independent of its present setting.
11. No doubt the Pharisees, as guardians of the law, were suspicious of Jesus from the beginning. Luke and Matthew omit Mark's mysterious reference to a conspiracy "with the Herodians." According to Exod. 31:14 and 35:2, death was the penalty for violating the sabbath law; but there is no evidence that it was enforced in Roman times, and no formal charge of sabbath defilement was ever laid against Jesus.
D. THE GREAT SERMON (6:12-49)
1. CHOOSING OF THE TWELVE (6:12-16=Mark 3:13-19a)
12. Into the hills (RSV) rather than into a mountain (KJV).
13. Jesus chose twelve from among a much larger group (cf. vs. 17). Apart from Peter, the sons of Zebedee, and Judas Iscariot, the members of this inner circle remain little more than names. Apocryphal "Acts" of Andrew, Matthew, Thomas, and others proliferated in the third and later centuries. Paul's use of "the twelve" (I Cor. 15:5) as a title for the disciples makes improbable any hypothesis that the number was arbitrarily fixed by the early church. It is possible that Jesus himself intended "the twelve" to symbolize the true Israel that would enter God's kingdom. In early church usage apostles included Paul and Barnabas and other missionaries (Rom. 16:7). The limitation of the title to the original group (Matthew 10:2; Mark 6:30; Rev. 21:14; and six times in Luke) would therefore appear to be late. It is an anachronism on Luke's part to assert that Jesus conferred it.
14-16. Peter ("rock") is almost certainly a translation of the Aramaic "Cephas" (John 1:42 and often in Galatians and I Corinthians). The nickname may represent an estimate of the disciple's character, despite his behavior at Gethsemane and after Jesus' arrest. More probably it recalls the fact that, as the first disciple to be called, or as the first of Jesus' followers to be convinced of his Lord's resurrection (24:33-34; I Cor. 15:5), he was "the rock" on which the church was built (Matthew 16:18). The gospel tradition differs as to when the name was conferred: according to the Fourth Gospel, at Jesus' first encounter with him (John 1:42); according to Mark and Luke, when the twelve were chosen (although most Lukan MSS read "Simon Peter" in 5:8); and according to Matthew, after he had confessed Jesus' messiahship at Caesarea Philippi (Matthew 16:18). Andrew is a pure Greek name. Since Luke had not reproduced Mark's earlier reference to him (Mark 1:16), he now identifies him for the readers of the Gospel as Peter's brother. James and John have already been introduced as "sons of Zebedee" (5:10), and that title is not used in this instance. Mark's enigmatical "sons of thunder" is also omitted. Philip--another pure Greek name--is described in John 1:44 and 12:21 as a native of Bethsaida. The disciple is not to be confused with the evangelist of Acts 6:5; 8:4-13, 26-40. Bartholomew is patronymic (perhaps "son of Ptolemy"). Matthew has sometimes been identified with the "Nathanael" of the Fourth Gospel, since both names mean "gift of God." Thomas is a Hellenized form of the Hebrew word for "twin" (cf. John 11:16; etc.). It is arbitrary exegesis to identify James the son of Alphaeus with either "Levi the son of Alphaeus" (Mark 2:14) or "James the younger" (Mark 15:40). The second Simon in the list is called "the Cananaean" in Mark, a title that is probably the transliteration into Greek of an Aramaic word (ananq) that Luke translates the Zealot. The title may have been nothing more than a nickname, for there is no evidence that members of the revolutionary party in Palestine were known as "Zealots" before A.D. 66. No doubt Judas the son of James is the "Judas (not Iscariot)" of John 14:22, although it is clear that there has been some primitive confusion about the name of this particular disciple. He is called "Thaddaeus" in most MSS of Mark and Matthew, and the Codex Bezae text of those Gospels has "Lebbaeus." The second Judas in the list is called "the son of Simon Iscariot" in John 6:71, etc. Iscariot is probably a Hebraism meaning "man of Kerioth"--a village on the southern fringes of Judea. Another list of the same names, in slightly different order, and omitting Judas Iscariot, appears in Acts 1:13.
2. INTRODUCTION TO JESUS' SERMON (6:17-19, based on Mark 3:7-10)
17-19. After a night of prayer in the hills, Jesus had summoned his disciples and chosen an inner circle. Then he came down with them and stood on a level place. "The sea" is the setting in Mark, and "the mountain" in Matthew 5:1. Surrounded by the twelve, the larger company of his followers, and a multitude of people representative of the entire nation, he healed the sick and then "lifted up his eyes on his disciples" and spoke to them.
It is clear that some common source underlies Luke's "Sermon on the Plain" (6:20b-49) and Matthew's "Sermon on the Mount" (Matthew 5:3-7:27). Both discourses begin with beatitudes. Both have sections, in the same relative order, on love for one's enemies and on passing judgment. Both have the parable of the healthy and the diseased trees. And both end with the parable of the two houses. Only three of the thirty verses in Luke's sermon (6:39, 40, 45a, 45b) appear in other contexts in Matthew, and only six and one half are missing altogether (6:24-26, 27b, 28a, 34, 35a, 37b, 38a). On the other hand, of the much longer sermon in Matthew (107 verses), one quarter (27 verses) is paralleled in Luke's version, slightly more than one third (37 verses) can be found in various other Lukan contexts, and the larger part (43 verses) is peculiar to the First Gospel. The most probable solution of the literary problem involved is that Luke took over the sermon much as it stood in Q, and that Matthew expanded it. Luke's sermon consists of (a) introductory blessings and woes (vss. 20-26); (b) ethical legislation (vss. 27-45); and (c) concluding parable (vss. 46-49). In the central section of the Sermon on the Mount Matthew stresses the superiority of the new righteousness to the teaching of the scribes (Matthew 5:17-48) and to the practice of the Pharisees (Matthew 6:1-18), but no Jewish foils are used for the legislation in Luke. Although Luke presupposes a crowd of auditors in the background (7:1), Jesus' words were directed in the first instance to his disciples--the larger company referred to in 6:13, 17. (See also Vol. VII, pp. 155-64, 278-79.)
3. THE BEATITUDES (6:20-23=Matthew 5:3-6, 11-12)
The beatitudes in Luke are four in number, are addressed in the second person to the disciples, and emphasize the reversal of values that will take place in the age to come, whereas Matthew's are nine, refer--except in the last instance--to the faithful in general, and stress the spiritual and moral qualities that characterize those who will enter the kingdom of heaven. Luke's version looks the more primitive.
20. There may be a reminiscence of this beatitude in Jas. 2:5. It has often been pointed out that the Hebrew word for "poor" (!yyn[) had come in late Judaism (Pss. 9:12; 35:10; etc.) to mean "saintly" or "pious," and that Jesus may have used an Aramaic original of our Greek in some such sense. This interpretation has the doubtful merit of harmonizing Luke's first beatitude with Matthew's but the antithesis in vs. 24 shows that Luke had in mind those who were poor in money and possessions. Jesus elsewhere asserts that riches constitute an almost insuperable barrier to the kingdom of God (18:24-25: Mark 10:23, 25).
21. Luke's second and third beatitudes have also been "spiritualized" in Matthew's version. For hunger now there is "hunger and thirst for righteousness," and for weep now and laugh, "mourn" and "be comforted."
22-23. Exclude you, i.e., from the synagogue. Cast out your name as evil is probably a Semitism meaning "issue an evil report about you" (cf. Jas. 2:7; I Pet. 4:14). This beatitude may not have been original with Jesus. Its references to hatred, excommunication, reproach, and slander appear to imply forms of persecution experienced by the early church, and their fathers is a phrase that reflects a sense of alienation from the Jewish community.
4. THE WOES (6:24-26)
24-26. The woes have no parallel in Matthew and are exact antitheses to the preceding beatitudes. Men who find complete satisfaction in this world's goods will be excluded from God's kingdom. People who are content to satisfy only their physical needs in the present age will experience a time when God will send "a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the LORD" (Amos 8:11). Concentration on the pleasures of this life will lead to deep distress when the new age dawns: "My servants shall sing for joy of heart, but ye shall cry for sorrow of heart, and shall howl for vexation of spirit" (Isa. 65:14). Flattery in ancient times was the reward of false prophets, and universal acclaim should therefore lull no man into a sense of complacency.
5. THE LAW OF Love (6:27-35=Matthew 5:39-47)
27-28. Does vs. 27a imply a return to the source after a rhetorical apostrophe? Love your enemies is not a sentiment. It is a strategy to combat attitude, utterance, and act. Abuse (RSV) in the sense of "mistreat" (cf. KJV).
29-30. A separate section in Matthew, where it illustrates the principle of non-resistance to evil. The second singular imperative--in contrast to the second plural of the preceding and following verses--also points to some editorial rearrangement on Luke's part. Cloak was the outer garment and coat the undergarment or "tunic." Vs. 29b appears to postulate an act of robbery, while Matthew's version--where the garments are mentioned in reverse order--implies a dispute before a magistrate. Matthew's parallel to vs. 30 enjoins a readiness to give and to lend. This may be primitive, for 30b appears to reproduce the thought of 29b.
31. In a different context and relative order in Matthew's sermon (Matthew 7:12). Luke omits the statement that "the Golden Rule" is the quintessence of Scripture. A non-Jew once offered to become a proselyte if Hillel (ca. 20 B.C.) could teach him the law while he stood on one leg. The rabbi said to him: "What you do not like, do not to your neighbor. That is the entire law, and all the rest is commentary" (Shabbath 31a). A negative version of the maxim is also credited to Confucius in the Analects (V. 11; XII. 2; XV. 23), the Great Learning (X. 2), the Li Ki (XXVIII. 1), and the Doctrine of the Steadfast Mean (XIII. 3).
32-34. Three examples show that mere reciprocity is not an adequate ethic for Jesus' followers. Credit, i.e., "in the sight of God." Sinners (vs. 32) is a generalization of Matthew's "tax collectors." Vs. 34 intrudes the motif of lending that had been omitted in the parallel to Matthew 5:42 (vs. 30)--another indication that Luke has reworked his material. From whom you hope to receive, i.e., "who will repay."
35. Expecting nothing in return (RSV) is a translation that is based on the rendering in the Vulg. This is the only occurrence in the N.T. of the verb that is involved. Elsewhere it always means "despairing." Hence Goodspeed: "never despairing." The RSV mg. translates a variant that is found in some MSS: "despairing of no man." The medieval church interpreted the phrase as prohibiting the collection of interest on loans. Vs. 35b looks like a prosaic abbreviation of the saying in Matthew 5:45 (the sun and the rain). Jesus' ethic is not based on any calculation that it will convert enemies into friends or overcome evil with good (contrast Paul's teaching in Rom. 12:20-21). It is an imitation of God's generosity.
6. THE LAW OF MERCY (6:36-45; cf. Matthew 5:48; 7:1-5; 15:14; 10:24-25; 7:16-20; 12:33-35)
36. A new theme, to which a variety of somewhat refractory didactic matter has been subordinated. Matthew reads "perfect" instead of merciful; there the verse concludes the preceding section on the law of love.
37. Connected with the foregoing in most Greek MSS by the conjunction "and." The passive construction in late Jewish literature is sometimes a device for avoiding the use of the divine name, and so most interpreters understand it in this sequence. Judge not "that God may not judge you," etc. More probably the sayings are bits of practical Jewish wisdom, comparable to much in the books of Proverbs and Ecclesiasticus (cf. Goodspeed: "Do not judge others, and they will not judge you").
38. The metaphor is borrowed from the grain trade. Read with Goodspeed "they will pour" (cf. KJV) rather than with the RSV. Lap is perhaps the best that can be done with a word that means a large pocket or fold that overlaps a girdle on a garment. Also used metaphorically in Isa. 65:6-7; Ps. 79:12; etc. The proverb in 38b has a different application in Mark 4:24b.
39. The disastrous consequences of judgment for both the judge and the object of his criticism. Matthew used the proverb to criticize the leadership of the Pharisees (Matthew 15:14; cf. also Matthew 23:16).
40. An obscure saying in its Lukan context. Are blind guides compared to teachers who cannot impart more to their pupils than they themselves know? Matthew adds his version to the account of the mission of the twelve (Matthew 10:24-25), where it means that no disciple can expect a better fate than his master's.
41-42. These verses follow immediately upon the prohibition of judgment in Matthew's Gospel. Any useful criticism must begin with self-examination and reform. The speck (RSV) and the beam (KJV), the gnat and the camel (Matthew 23:24), and the camel and the needle's eye (18:25; Mark 10:25) are hyperboles in Jesus' teaching that reveal a gentle touch of humor.
43-45. The conjunction for links the parable with vss. 41-42. A transposition of the clauses in vs. 43 would have made for a better connection. A bad man cannot utter a good precept. In Matthew's Sermon on the Mount, the sayings (Matthew 7:16-18) enforce the warning against false prophets. Vs. 45 has a parallel only in another Matthaean version (Matthew 12:33-35). Heart in Semitic anatomy was the seat of the intellect. In view of the final clause of the generalization, produces good must mean "utters good words," but Luke's context justifies a wider reference: Character makes the man!
7. PARABLE OF THE Two HOUSES (6:46-49=Matthew 7:21, 24-27)
46. A saying that is pregnant with pathos in Luke's version, but impersonal in Matthew's. Lord originally meant no more than "sir" or "master," but would be filled with much richer content by readers of the Gospel. All MSS support the double form of address.
47-49. The one house had a foundation upon rock, the other was built ... on the ground, and the disaster was due to a flooded river. More typically Palestinian topography and climate are reflected in Matthew's version, where one house was built on rock and the other on sand, and the disaster was caused by the impact of winter storms. Luke may have edited the original to stress the importance of good construction rather than the selection of a good site. Because it had been well built is the better attested reading. A similar parable has been preserved in rabbinical tradition: "To whom can we compare a man who has studied diligently in the Law and has many good works? To a man who has laid a foundation of stones and built upon them with unbaked bricks. Even if great floods come and wash against them, the stones will not be dislodged. And to whom can we compare a man who has studied the Law but has no good works? To a man who has built first with bricks and then with stones. Even a little water will cause the stones to tumble at once" (Aboth R. Nathan 24).
E. JESUS' HEALING MINISTRY (7:1-17)
1. HEALING OF THE CENTURION'S SLAVE (7:l-10=Matthew 8:5-10)
The dialogue is almost identical in Luke and in Matthew, but not the narrative framework. The latter in both instances may be secondary, for the saying of Jesus, not his miracle of healing, is still the real climax of the story. John 4:46-53 preserves another variant.
7:1. Editorial. Capernaum had already been associated in Q (Matthew 8:5) with the story of the centurion--the only specific geographical note that is known to have stood in that source.
2. Vs. 9 presupposes--and vs. 5 implies--that the centurion was a non-Jew. Presumably he was an officer in the Jewish army of Herod Antipas. Read slave (RSV) instead of servant (KJV) throughout, except in vs. 7.
3-5. The centurion does not appear in person, as he does in Matthew, but sends a delegation of Jewish elders--representatives of the local synagogue. They support his plea with a glowing testimonial that has no counterpart in Matthew's version. An Egyptian inscription from the second century B.C. tells of a pagan official who had assisted Jews in the erection of a synagogue at Athribis.
6-8. A second delegation--this time of friends--intercepts Jesus on his way to the centurion's house and quotes the words that come more naturally in Matthew's version from the lips of the speaker himself. The centurion's reluctance in Luke's account to intrude himself personally on Jesus' attention serves to emphasize his humility, but the idea of intermediaries may have been borrowed from the story of the healing of Jairus' daughter (8:49), as well as the words do not trouble yourself. Set under authority is a difficult phrase. C. C. Torrey's "exercising authority" (The Four Gospels [New York: Harper & Bros., 1933], ad loc.) would help the interpreter, but that translation has an uneasy basis in a mistranslation hypothesis. Perhaps "familiar with authority" can be justified as a paraphrase, with the implication that God has delegated his authority to Jesus, just as Herod Antipas has conferred his upon the centurion.
9. One of the few sayings in the tradition--and no doubt a primitive one--that postulates an interest on Jesus' part in non-Jews. It is reasonable to assume that the centurion symbolized Gentile Christianity for Luke and his readers, but to press the point that he never met Jesus in the flesh and received his benefits only through intermediaries (so J. M. Creed) is allegory rather than sober exegesis. Faith in this instance is belief in Jesus' wonder-working power.
10. No word of command is given in Luke's version, but to explain the miracle on any theory of "coincidence" is an unwarranted rationalization. The cure in this case is effected at a distance--a feature of the miracle that appears elsewhere in the Synoptic tradition only in the story of the healing of the Syrophoenician woman's daughter (Matthew 15:21-28; Mark 7:24-30). In the latter instance, also, the petitioner is a Gentile, whose apt remark induces Jesus to perform a miracle of healing.
2. RAISING FROM THE DEAD OF THE YOUNG MAN OF NAIN (7:11-17)
The story of the centurion from Capernaum was followed in the Q source--if we are to judge from the order of its matter in Luke--by a collection of material about Jesus and John the Baptist. Jesus' answer to John's messengers in the first section of this sequence included the words "the dead are raised up" (vs. 22; Mate. 11:5). To illustrate them Luke prefixed a miracle story from his special source--or one that was known to him in oral form. An account that exhibits many of the same features has been preserved of Apollonius, a Hellenistic philosopher, healer, and exorcist of the first century A.D., who later became an object of cult worship. A young woman died at the hour of her marriage. Her bridegroom and the populace of Rome mourned her as she was carried on her bier by pallbearers. The healer stopped the funeral procession, touched the maiden, whispered a secret spell over her, and woke her from apparent death. The maiden then cried out, and returned to her father's house (Philostratus, The Life of Apollonius of Tyana, tr. F. C. Conybeare [New York: The Macmillan Co., 1912] I, 456-59). The O.T. doublets of Elijah and the son of the widow of Zarephath (I Kings 17:17-24) and of Elisha and the son of the Shunammite woman (II Kings 4:17-22, 32-37) are evidence that similar miracle stories were also at home within Jewish circles. Many interpreters believe that the miracle under discussion, as in the case of John's story of the raising of Lazarus (John 11:1-44), has also become the vehicle of symbolism--Jesus' life-giving power.
11-12. Nain is not mentioned elsewhere in the Bible. It has been identified with the modern Nein, a village six miles southeast of Nazareth and three miles northeast of Sôlem, the Shunammite setting of Elisha's miracle of resurrection. The fact that an ancient cemetery still lies outside its east gate is often, but precariously, cited as an instance of local color. Only is twice added elsewhere by Luke to miracle stories taken from his Marcan source (8:42; 9:38).
13-14. The Lord was part of the confession of early Christians, and the church's favorite name for the exalted Christ. The title is never found in the narrative of Mark and Matthew, but occurs often in special Lukan matter, and is frequently employed by Luke himself in editorial introductions. It is characteristic of the late and apocryphal Gospel of Peter. Jesus' motive is one of compassion. No mention is made of faith on the woman's part. Jesus touched the bier to halt the cortege.
15-16. The story concludes, according to form, with proof of the success of the miracle. The bystanders are convinced that a great prophet has arisen with the miracle-working powers of Elijah and Elisha, and that his presence among them is evidence that "God has not forgotten his people!" (Goodspeed.)
17. Editorial conclusion. Judea, as in 1:5; 4:44; and 6:17, is the whole of Palestine.
F. JESUS AND JOHN THE BAPTIST (7:18-35)
1. JESUS AND THE EMISSARIES OF JOHN (7:18-23=Matthew 11:2-6)
The passage answers a question that must have been of interest to the early Christian community. What did John think of Jesus?
18. Editorial introduction. Various references in the Gospels to the disciples of John (5:33; 11:1; etc.), the account in Acts 19:1-5 of disciples in Ephesus who had known only "the baptism of John," the polemic of the Fourth Gospel against John the Baptist and, as some scholars have argued, the sacred literature of the small sect in Iran that still claims John the Baptist as its founder, are evidence that followers of the Baptist remained independent of the Christian church for a hundred years or more, and were often in competition with it. The last direct reference to John in Luke's Gospel had told of his imprisonment (3:19-20). All these things would include Jesus' activities as a teacher as well as a healer.
19. He who is to come is the Messiah, not Elijah (as in Matthew 11:14; John 6:14). In his birth narratives Luke had related Jesus by blood to John. In his version of the baptism story he had assumed that John had been made aware of Jesus' messianic mission. But now he incorporates material that is at cross-purposes with his own theory. It is possible that this passage gives the true picture. John may have heard of Jesus for the first time in prison, and only then have suspected that he might be the Messiah. In this case the question was the faint dawn of a new faith, not the dark night of a soul.
20-21. Vs. 20 is a repetition that is not necessary in Matthew's form of the narrative. Vs. 21 is also peculiar to Luke. A demonstration of mighty acts prepares John's disciples for Jesus' answer to their query.
22. This verse is a catena of phrases from Isa. 35:5-6 and 61:1 (cf. Luke 4:18), with the addition of lepers are cleansed and the dead are raised up. Jesus' answer is therefore indirect: The signs of the new age which the O.T. prophet had foretold are in evidence; draw your own conclusions from them! Doubtless Luke understood Jesus' words as a literal appeal to the evidence of the miraculous in his ministry. But they are metaphorical in the O.T. passage from which they were taken, and Jesus may also have used them figuratively.
23. "Who is repelled by nothing in me" is Moffatt's attempt to render a difficult idiom into modern English speech. The beatitude also presents difficulties of interpretation. Is it a veiled warning that Jesus and his work are not to be ignored? Or a guarded appeal for faith in his person? In either case Jesus avoids any direct assertion of messianic dignity, a feature that this passage shares with all the Synoptic tradition outside the passion narrative.
2. JESUS' ESTIMATE OF JOHN (7:24-30=Matthew 11:7-11)
The belief was current in late Judaism that Elijah was to reappear "in the last days" as a forerunner of the Messiah. According to one Christian tradition (Matthew 11:13-14), Jesus had identified John the Baptist as this Elijah redivivus. According to another (John 1:21), the Baptist himself had rejected the identification. In the form in which we have it our passage supports the affirmative in this debate.
24-25. No doubt many of Jesus' hearers had first been stirred by the preaching of John. Jesus' questions are ironical and metaphorical. "Did you expect to find some cringing timeserver in the desert, some self-indulgent man of ease?"
26-27. The obvious answer is "No!" They had gone out to see a prophet--a man who would preach austerity to others and practice it himself. But John was more than a prophet. The formula it is written introduces a quotation from scripture in early Christian literature, but what follows it in this instance has no exact counterpart in the O.T. It appears to be an adaptation to messianic doctrine of the LXX text of Mal. 3:1: "Behold, I send my messenger, and he shall prepare a way before my face." The change in personal pronouns makes the "quotation" refer to a herald of the Messiah rather than to a precursor of God--identified as Elijah in Mal. 4:5-6. The same "quotation" also appears m Mark 1:2, where it is erroneously credited to Isaiah. Such a free paraphrase may have been pre-Christian, and it would be arbitrary exegesis to deny that Jesus could have used it. But the connection between vss. 26 and 28 is improved by its omission, and it is probably a christological proof text that was given its present setting by an early controversialist in order that the passage as a whole might support one Christian definition of John the Baptist's relationship to Jesus. But the addition, if it is such, must have been made very early, for the verse already stood in the Q source (cf. Matthew 11:10).
28. John marked a watershed in history. He was the last among the great of the old dispensation. But a new order has begun, and he who is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he. This is one of several kingdom references in the gospel tradition that show that Jesus thought of the new age of God's rule as a fact of present experience as well as the climactic event of the historical process.
29-30. The RSV parentheses emphasize the probability that these verses are to be interpreted, not as part of Jesus' discourse, but as Luke's own comment on the reaction of Jesus' audience to it. Justified God, i.e., "acknowledged that God's plan was just." Luke often speaks of lawyers instead of "scribes" for the benefit of his Gentile readers.
3. PARABLE OF THE PEEVISH CHILDREN (7:31-35=Matthew 11:16-19)
Interpreters are prone to allegorize. A parable is a story intended to make only one point clear and memorable. It is not a code in which each detail in one system has a counterpart in another. We must not look for any correspondence between the details of this parable and those of its application. In fact the two may originally have been independent in the tradition of Jesus.
31-32. Jesus' parables, as well as those in the rabbinical tradition, were often introduced by a double question. The men of this generation are compared with children who cannot agree on a game. The quotation should be punctuated as two separate statements. One group wishes to play "weddings," the other "funerals," and neither proposal is mutually acceptable. The parable reflects the discouragement that Jesus often experienced in his ministry, but he lightens it with a touch of humor.
33-35. John the Baptist was criticized for practicing asceticism, and Jesus for his failure to do so. Luke found Son of man in the Q source (cf. Matthew 11:19), but this apocalyptic title may be a Christian substitution for an original "I." The children of wisdom must be the "people and the tax collectors" of vs. 29. By their attitude toward John and Jesus they have shown that God's wisdom, which spoke through these messengers, is right and true. Matthew reads "deeds" instead of children, and no satisfactory explanation of this divergence in the tradition has been advanced.
G. JESUS AND A PENITENT SINNER (7:36-50)
Luke made a place for this story because it illuminated the grounds for the charge in vs. 34 that Jesus was "a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners." Jesus' concern for social and religious outcasts is a leading interest in Luke's special tradition (see Intro., pp. 14-15). Where there are no parallel documents for comparison, source analysis is admittedly hypothetical. Nevertheless there is good reason for assuming that Luke has woven together two distinct traditions: a story in vss. 36-40, 44-47a, and a parable in vss. 41-43. Vss. 48-50 introduce a new motif, and are possibly Luke's own composition. The point of the story is that one who loves much is forgiven much; the point of the parable is that one who is forgiven much, loves much. It is possible the story is a doublet of the one in Mark 14:3-9. Luke omitted the latter when he came to it in the course of composition. But the differences are more striking than the similarities, and it may have been Luke himself who borrowed "Simon" from the Marcan narrative as a name for Jesus' host, and took from it the details of the "alabaster flask," the ointment, and the anointing in vss. 37, 38, 46. These details introduce an element of premeditation into an act that is more naturally interpreted as spontaneous and impulsive.
36. No doubt Jesus numbered friendly Pharisees among his acquaintances (cf. 13:31), and twice elsewhere Luke speaks of Jesus at dinner in a Pharisee's house (11:37; 14:1). But these instances of Pharisaic hospitality may be a literary device rather than a historical reminiscence, for on each occasion the host or his colleagues come in for criticism.
37-38. The city is nameless. Luke probably had Capernaum in mind. A sinner probably means "a prostitute." A private dinner in Palestine could take on the appearance of a public entertainment, and uninvited guests around the banquet table excited no comment (cf. 14:2; Mark 2:16). Jesus would have removed his sandals before entering the house, and when he reclined on a couch, his feet would be stretched out away from the table. Luke does not describe the woman as penitent but no doubt we are expected to deduce remorse from her weeping.
39. The Pharisee had invited Jesus in the belief that he was a prophet. He now interprets an apparent failure to discern the character of the woman who was a sinner as evidence to the contrary.
40. The host is addressed as Simon for the first time. Presumably Luke means us to assume that Jesus' knowledge of the Pharisee's thoughts was supernatural.
41-43. The original context of many of Jesus' parables has been lost, and this may be true of the parable of the two debtors. It teaches that a debtor's gratitude will be in proportion to the debt that the creditor has canceled. There is nothing in the story that precedes and follows it to suggest that the woman's emotions as she anointed Jesus were those of gratitude for an earlier assurance of forgiveness. God's forgiveness was the consequence of the woman's love, not its occasion. Five hundred denarii would approximate $100 in United States currency, but much more than that in terms of purchasing power.
44-47a. These verses continue the narrative of vss. 36-40. The host had failed to extend any special courtesies: water for a foot bath; a kiss of welcome; anointment of the head before a meal. He had treated Jesus as a casual guest--possibly as a social inferior. In contrast the woman had lavished evidences of her love upon him. The story reaches its climax in vs. 47a: Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are Forgiven, for she loved much (cf. I Pet. 4:8: "Love covers a multitude of sins"). Love is the qualification for divine forgiveness.
47b. But he who is forgiven little, loves little is in harmony with the point of the parable, but at variance with that of the story, and Luke may have added it when he integrated these two apparently incongruous traditions. It is just possible that the clause is a later scribal gloss for it is missing from the text of Codex Bezae, together with "for she loved much" of vs. 47a.
48-49. A new subject that is unrelated to anything that has gone before in the story or the parable but that has interesting similarities to the question under discussion in 5:20-21. Jesus pronounces absolution on the woman, and his table companions take offense at such an arrogation to himself of God's prerogative.
50. Your faith has saved you; go in peace is the same as the statement addressed in 8:48 (Mark 5:34) to the woman with a flow of blood, but the meaning of the first verb in the latter instance is necessarily "made you well." Forgiveness in this appendix to the story is the consequence of faith instead of "love."
H. JESUS AS AN ITINERANT TEACHER AND WONDER-WORKER (8:1-56)
1. JESUS BEGINS AN ITINERANT MINISTRY (8:1-3)
1b-3. In addition to the twelve Jesus was accompanied by certain women whom he had restored to health of mind and body. For Luke's interest in the women who had been associated with Jesus' ministry and the life of the early church, see Intro., pp. 8, 14. Mark 15:40-41 also refers to women--not mentioned by name in Luke 23:49, 55 --who had followed Jesus in Galilee and had "ministered" to him. Mary, called Magdalene is common to both lists. There is no good reason to identify her with the "sinner" of 7:37-50. Magdala, also known as Tarichaea, was a fishing village on the western bulge of the Galilean lake. From whom seven demons had gone out, i.e., the woman had been cured of a particularly serious mental disorder. Joanna is also mentioned with Mary Magdalene in 24:10. As the wife of one of Herod's officials she was presumably a woman of affluence and social standing; but there is no reference elsewhere in Jewish or Christian literature to Chuza or to his office as steward. Nothing is known of Susanna ("Lily"). For them (RSV) has much better attestation in the MSS than unto him (KJV). Jesus and his disciples did not depend on chance hospitality but were supported by women of means.
2. PARABLE OF THE SEED AND THE SOILS (8:4-8=Mark 4:1-9)
The Marcan source, which Luke abandoned at 6:17, is resumed, and is followed with minor transpositions and abbreviations until 9:51. One great omission of Marcan matter (Mark 6:45-8:26) between 9:17 and 18 and two lesser omissions (Mark 6:1-6; 6:17-29) are discussed in the Intro. (pp. 18-19).
The parable is clear. Seed sown carelessly, or in poor soil, or on land infested with thorns, is unfruitful; but fertile soil produces abundantly and assures a good harvest. The only problem, as so often in the study of Jesus' teaching, is to recover the parable's application. Mark's interpretation (Mark 4:13-20; cf. Luke 8:9-15) is a Christian allegory, but its equation of the "seed" and "the word" probably does justice to the point of the original. Jesus meant the parable to encourage his disciples in the faith that his proclamation of "the good news of the kingdom of God" would prove fruitful. "Sowing" in rabbinical literature is a frequent metaphor for "teaching." A similar parable in II Esdras 8:41 illustrates the doctrine that not all mankind will be saved.
4. In Mark's version Jesus had been teaching "beside the sea" and was forced by the size of the crowd to put out in a boat and teach offshore. Luke had already used this stereotyped setting in 5:3, and substitutes an even vaguer one at this point. A parable for Mark's "parables," which had referred to a whole collection (Mark 4:1-34).
5. Despite the definite article in the Greek (cf. the ASV), a sower is the correct translation. In accordance with Semitic usage the definite article marks him as a representative of a class. And was trodden under foot is an amplification of the Marcan source.
6-7. Rock for the word in Mark that means "a shallow crust of soil covering bedrock." According to Mark, the shoot was scorched because it had no root; according to this version, it withered ... because it had no moisture.
8. An abbreviation that reproduces only the highest estimate that is given in Mark of the yield. For the fertility of the soil in Palestine under good conditions cf. Gen. 26:12. The hortatory conclusion occurs in Mark 4:9, 23, and Luke also uses it again in 14:35.
3. PURPOSE OF PARABLES (8:9-10=Mark 4:10-12)
9-10. In Luke the disciples ask Jesus the meaning of this parable; in Mark, the purpose of "parables" in general. Despite this change Luke also presents the answer in two parts. These verses tell us that Jesus employed parables to veil the truth, to hide it from all but his most intimate followers, to confirm the mass of the people in ignorance and unbelief. This is an incredible theory, for the obvious purpose of parables was to make truth plain. In Mark's Gospel the verses break a good connection between Mark 4:10 and 13 and are presumably the composition of the evangelist. As he reflected on Jesus' ministry, Mark tried to account for the fact that most of his contemporaries had remained unresponsive. He felt that the failure of the Jews to understand must have been divinely ordained--cf. Paul's doctrine of God's "hardening" of Israel (Rom. 9:1-11). Jesus must have intended the very simplicity of the parables to hide their message from all but the inner circle. In reaching this conclusion Mark may have been influenced by the Hellenistic notion that the essence of religion is a "mystery" (mysteries in Luke), hidden from outsiders but revealed to the initiate. The word occurs nowhere else in the gospel tradition.
4. EXPLANATION OF THE PARABLE (8:11-15=Mark 4:13-20)
The "explanation" reflects missionary problems of the early church. Some who hear the gospel never have faith because of the machinations of the devil; others give up their faith under trial; and still others have their faith submerged by "the cares and pleasures" of this life. The emphasis in the parable is on the abundant harvest from fertile soil; in the "explanation," on the reasons why so much seed is wasted. Allegory, a Hellenistic device for imparting truth, was rarely employed by the rabbis and probably never used by Jesus.
11. The sower is not allegorized. The word of God in the N.T. is a technical name for "the gospel."
12. To make sense the four classes of hearers ought to be identified with the four kinds of soil in which the same seed is sown, but they appear to be identified with the seed. The narrator may be thinking in terms of the final crop, which is a product of both seed and soil, or the confusion may be a matter of careless diction. That they may not believe and be saved is a Lukan addition which relates the situation more explicitly to the difficulties of the early Christian mission.
13. Luke's use of root shows his dependence on Mark, for he had used "moisture" in his own version of the parable (vs. 6). Fall away is a proper synonym for Mark's "are offended."
14. Pleasures of life, for Mark's "desire for other things," and their fruit does not mature, for Mark's "and it proves unfruitful."
15. As in vs. 8 Luke does not distinguish between the various yields of the fertile soil. Those who hear the word do so with an honest and good heart and bear fruit with patience.
5. PARABLE OF THE LAMP AND OTHER SAYINGS (8:16-18=Mark 4:21-25)
16. A detached parable that stood in Q as well as in Mark, and whose original application cannot be recovered. Matthew's version is in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:15), where it exhorts the disciples not to hide their light. Luke uses the parable a second time in 11:33. There it seems to assert that Jesus himself is an answer to the demand for a "sign." In both instances Luke's form is based on Q, but in this verse or puts it under a bed has been added from Mark, and the lamp, as in Mark, appears to be a metaphor for the teaching of Jesus. Vessel is used instead of Mark's "bushel"--a grain and flour measure holding about a peck. Matthew's form of the parable presupposes a lamp that illuminated a one-room Palestinian house. Luke thinks of a lamp that had been placed on a stand in the vestibule of a Greco-Roman dwelling so that those who enter may see the light. Is this final clause in Luke an oblique reference to Gentile converts?
17. Another floating saying. Matthew used a slightly different Q version in Matthew 10:26b, where the proverb is appended to the counsel not to be afraid of persecutors, and gets its meaning from the verse that follows: "What I tell you in the dark, utter in the light." Be known and is from Q. The saying, as in Mark, seems to be related to the explanation of the purpose of parables in vs. 10. The meaning of Jesus' teaching is hid only temporarily; ultimately it will be made manifest. Luke uses the proverb again (in its Q form) in 12:2, where it refers to the hypocrisy of the Pharisees. Still another version is preserved in fragmentary form in the Oxyrhynchus Papyrus 654. iv.
18. How you hear instead of Mark's "what you hear." Even what he thinks that he has for Mark's paradoxical "even what he has." In both Mark and Luke the proverb means: God will impart more truth to him who appropriates what he has already heard. The saying is also appended to the parable of the pounds (Matthew 25:29 and Luke 19:26), where it follows the command that money that had been entrusted to the third servant should be taken from him and given to the first.
6. JESUS' SPIRITUAL KINDRED (8:19-21=Mark 3:31-35)
19-21. See 11:27-28 and Mark 10:29-30 for similar sayings elsewhere in the gospel tradition (cf. Heb. 2:11). Bonds of the spirit bind the family of God, not those of blood. According to Mark's account, Jesus' family had been disturbed by the rumor that he was a lunatic--possessed by Beelzebub--and had come to interrupt his ministry. All this has disappeared from Luke's version, which is abbreviated and transposed to a new setting. By reading those who hear the word of God and do it instead of "whoever does the will of God" the evangelist has related the saying to that in vs. 15 and has made it an effective conclusion to the discourse. There is no reason to suppose that the brothers here are not brothers in the usual sense of the word.
7. STILLING OF THE STORM (8:22-25=Mark 4:35-41)
Nature miracles form a small group in the gospel tradition. It is frequently debated in these cases whether some popular tale has become attached to the person of Jesus, or whether a natural event has been transformed on reflection into a miracle. According to the latter hypothesis, in this instance Jesus' confident trust in God at a time of crisis calmed his disciples' fears, and their escape from the perils of the tempest was later ascribed to his miraculous powers. But Mark and Luke understood the incident as an exhibition of the supernatural, and this fact must not be obscured by any process of rationalization.
22. A vaguer introduction than in Mark, where Jesus had been teaching from a boat that was anchored offshore and then, in the evening of the same day, had begun the voyage with his disciples to the other side of the lake.
23-25. A sudden squall on the Sea of Galilee is said to be a common occurrence. Natural phenomena such as the wind and the raging waves are the work of spirits or demons in all ancient folklore--a survival of animism. Faith in this instance means trust in the providence of God. The amazement of those who have witnessed a miracle is often stressed by the narrator of the story as confirmatory evidence.
8. THE GERASENE DEMONIAC (8:26-39=Mark 5:1-20)
Mental disease was often explained in ancient times as the consequence of demon possession, and Jesus' healing ministry is frequently described in the Gospels as an act of exorcism. In this instance Jesus restores a raving lunatic to health of mind by ridding him of a host of evil spirits. Because they could exist only in human or animal bodies, they begged permission to enter a herd of swine, which then plunged over a precipice and perished in the lake. The unusual detail of this particular story convinces many interpreters that it is primitive. Others regard its elaborate form as an indication that the storyteller's art has had free play in its composition. The incident has frequently been rationalized on the precarious hypothesis of coincidence: Jesus healed a demented man; a herd of swine stampeded down a steep slope into the lake; and the two events were associated by those who described them. Whatever its origin, the story of the Gerasene demoniac articulates the faith of the church that Jesus came to free men from the power of Satan and points the truth that evil is self-destructive.
26. There has been some early confusion in the place named. Gerasenes is the best attested reading in Mark and Luke, but Gerasa, the modern Jerash, was forty miles southeast of the lake and therefore geographically impossible. "Gadarenes" has the best attestation in Matthew, but Gadara was also not a site that was opposite Galilee. It was seven miles to the south of the lake. Gergesa, halfway down the eastern shore, would fit the narrative, and "Gergesenes" has strong manuscript support in Luke, but the name was apparently introduced into Alexandrian texts of the N.T. in the early third century as a deliberate geographical correction.
27. For a long time he had worn no clothes is an editorial inference from vs. 35 (Mark 5:15). In popular thought tombs were the dwelling place of demons, and one whom they had possessed would naturally live there. Furthermore, in Palestine they were often caves or caverns hewn out of rock and could provide a place of refuge for one who was ostracized by society.
28. The victim is the mouthpiece of the demons. As in 4:33-37 the unclean spirits recognize the supernatural powers of Jesus before they are evident to men and take steps to counteract them. I beseech you, instead of Mark's "I adjure you by God," which Luke probably thought an incongruous formula for a demon.
29. We are told belatedly that Jesus had already begun the exorcism. This popular case history of a violent maniac is based on the description at the beginning of Mark's narrative.
30. To control a demon an exorcist had to know his name. "Legion" was Latin for an army division of about six thousand, but the word had also been naturalized in Aramaic. According to popular diagnosis, the severity of an affliction was proportionate to the number of demons who had caused it (cf. vs. 2: "Mary, called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out").
31-33. The demons admit defeat but parley for terms. Into the abyss--hell, the place of punishment (cf. Rev. 20:1-3)--is a substitute for Mark's vague "out of the country." The predominantly non-Jewish population of the east Jordan country would have had no scruples about raising swine. The demons are duped. The consequences of their request are catastrophic. Luke omits Mark's estimate that the herd numbered "about two thousand."
34-36. What had happened, from the point of view of the herdsmen, would be the loss of the swine. They fled and aroused the curiosity and superstitious concern of the neighborhood. The Gerasenes investigated, and found the demoniac clothed and in his right mind--dressed like a sane man and restored to mental health. That he was sitting at the feet of Jesus is a Lukan detail. Eyewitnesses of the exorcism supplement the swineherds' story, and their evidence helps to substantiate the miracle. All this is true to the form of miracle stories, whether sacred or profane, but is given here in greater detail than is usual in the gospel tradition.
37. All the people of the district is characteristic Lukan hyperbole. For they were seized with great fear explains the request that had stood unsupported in Mark. The affair was uncanny and its author inspired a sense of dread.
38-39. The man from whom the demons had gone wished to become a disciple but Jesus rejected his petition. God for Mark's equivocal "the Lord," and throughout the whole city for "in the Decapolis"--an independent league of Hellenistic cities that is never mentioned by name in Luke. Jesus' instructions are an apparent exception to the custom of enjoining sick persons who had been healed, or their friends, to keep the matter a strict secret--taken over from Mark by Luke in 5:14; 8:56. It is difficult to follow those interpreters who detect a contrast in vs. 39 between the command and its performance--the patient's home instead of the whole city and God as the agent instead of Jesus. Perhaps the theory of the messianic secret was not imposed on this story because it was localized outside the strictly Jewish parts of Palestine.
9. JAIRUS' DAUGHTER; A WOMAN WITH A HEMORRHAGE (8:40-56=Mark 5:21-43)
Mark had a fondness for intercalating one story into the context of another, and Luke had used the same device on his own initiative in 7:36-50. It heightens the dramatic effect of the framework narrative, and in this instance the second episode occupies Jesus' attention during the necessary interval between his interview with Jairus and the arrival of the messenger from the ruler's house. The fact that the girl was twelve years of age and that the woman had been ailing for twelve years seemed significant to Luke, who rearranged his source to draw attention to it--vs. 42 is at the beginning of his story and at the end of Mark's. Luke has drastically abbreviated Mark's narrative.
40-42. Jesus returned to his point of departure as of vs. 22 (cf. vs. 37c)--presumably to the vicinity of Capernaum. Mark is less explicit, though characteristically prolix. Jairus as a name does not recur in Luke's narrative, is lacking in Matthew's version, and is absent from the Codex Bezae text of Mark. Originally anonymous individuals tend to get names with the passage of time, and this one may have been Luke's contribution to the tradition. A ruler of the synagogue was an official appointed by the elders to supervise the conduct of worship, and there could be several in larger synagogues (cf. Acts 13:15). Only is Luke's inference from Mark's "little daughter"--an affectionate diminutive in Greek.
43-44. The affliction was a continuous uterine discharge. The woman is named "Bernice" in ch. 7 of the Greek MSS of The Acts of Pilate, and "Veronica" in the Latin versions. "And who had suffered much under many physicians, ... and was no better but rather grew worse" are comments in the Marcan source (5:26) which Luke has suppressed. This has often been cited as evidence that the author of Luke-Acts was "the beloved physician" (Col. 4:14)--his professional pride had been touched--but it may be nothing more than a simple abbreviation. Which had spent all her living upon physicians (KJV) is relegated by the RSV to the margin. It does not occur in codices Vaticanus and Bezae or in the Sinaitic Syriac. According to Mark, the sick woman touched Jesus' "garment." Matthew and Luke are more explicit. It was the fringe that she touched. A çîçîth or "sacred tassel" was tied by a blue thread to each of the four corners of the outer garment (Num. 15:38-39; Deut. 22:12)--a cloak that served as clothing by day and as a blanket at night. Such tassels were intended to remind Israelites of their obligations to the law, and are still affixed to the prayer shawl (the tallith) worn by orthodox Jews. The loose end of the cloak would have hung over Jesus' left shoulder, and the çîçîth attached to it could have been touched by one who came up behind him--perhaps because she was ceremonially unclean. For other references by Luke to cure by contact see Acts 19:12.
45-46. According to Mark, the "disciples" answered Jesus' question with a brusque protest, but Luke makes Peter their respectful spokesman. And those who were with him is omitted by Codex Vaticanus and the Old Syriac versions, and the authenticity of the phrase is therefore open to question. I perceive that power has gone forth from me is a direct statement in Luke but only an inference of the evangelist's in Mark. Perhaps the original narrative explained the cure by "faith" rather than by magic (vs. 48).
47-48. When the woman saw that she was not hidden, for Mark's "knowing what had been done to her." The confession attests the miracle. Its public nature, and the fact that the woman had been healed immediately, are stressed in the Third Gospel. Go in peace is a Semitic benediction (e.g., I Sam. 1:17; 29:7).
49-50. The framework narrative is resumed. According to one translation of the verb that occurs in Mark, Jesus "ignored" the report that the girl had died (cf. RSV). Luke understood it to mean "overheard." Him is ambiguous but must refer to Jairus. And she shall be well adds nothing to the terse assurance in Mark.
51. In Mark, Jesus dismisses the crowd before the house is reached; in Luke, at the house door. Peter and John and James are mentioned in this order in the better MSS. The same group of intimates witnesses the Transfiguration (9:28); according to Mark, also the agony in Gethsemane (Mark 14:33).
52-55. Mark presupposes a public wake, with professional mourners in attendance. This is probably Luke's assumption also, although he has abbreviated his source to the point of obscurity. Interpreters often rationalize this miracle. The bystanders thought the child was dead but Jesus knew better. He diagnosed her apparent death as coma. What seemed to others to be a miracle was merely a natural recovery. But Mark and Luke entertained no such notion. They understood the story to describe an act of resurrection. When Jesus said she is not dead but sleeping, he was not disputing appearances. According to Mark, he had not yet entered the death chamber. He meant that the child's death was not irrevocable. But his hearers took him literally (cf. John 11:11-13) and laughed at him. Jesus confounded their incredulity by a miracle. The child's immediate response to his command was its demonstration, and his direction that something should be given her to eat was convincing evidence that the dead had come back to life (cf. 24:41-43).
56. The amazement of the parents is the miracle's final attestation. The injunction to tell no one what had happened is taken over from Mark, where it is related to the editorial view that Jesus wished to keep his messianic dignity a secret.
Luke may have had this gospel narrative in mind when he told the story about Peter's raising of Tabitha (Acts 9:36-42).
J. JESUS AND HIS DISCIPLES (9:1-50)
1. MISSION OF THE TWELVE (9:1-6=Mark 6:7-13)
Both Mark and Q had accounts of Jesus' missionary instructions to the twelve. Matthew was content to combine his two sources (Matthew 9:37-10:1, 5-15). Luke used a few details from the Q narrative to modify Mark's story at this point but reserved the bulk of it for another context (10:1-11).
Although we are not told that the twelve were ever employed on any other mission, there is little reason to doubt that Jesus had the extension of his ministry in mind when he chose them (Mark 3:14). He may well have intended to use his disciples as aides much more extensively than time and opportunity permitted. But this passage speaks of the disciples' work only in the vaguest terms (vs. 6); and no doubt Mark and Luke recorded it, not out of any objective interest in a historical event, but because it authorized the methods of early Christian evangelism.
9:1. In 10:17 the "seventy" report to Jesus that "even the demons are subject to us in your name." Nevertheless the idea that Jesus formally transferred personal power (Luke only) and divine authority to his followers looks like ecclesiastical theory. Luke 9:40 (Mark 9:18) reports the inability of the disciples on one occasion to practice exorcism.
2. Luke appears to have inserted this into Mark's account under the influence of the Q version (cf. Matthew 10:7-8).
3-6. Mark's version of the instructions had permitted a staff and "sandals," but these concessions to the necessities of the Hellenistic mission were not made in the Q account, which often reflects a strictly Palestinian milieu. The bag that was forbidden was one used by travelers to carry provisions. The Q version forbade the possession--Mark's the wearing--of two tunics, which were shirts or undergarments (cf. 3:11). The missioners were not to accept hospitality from more than one host in any one center and were not to waste precious time on any who would not receive their message. The rabbis held that even pagan dust was "unclean" and should be removed by a traveler returning to Palestine. To shake off the dust from your feet as a testimony against them may therefore have been a gesture by which a Christian declared that a city had no part in the true Israel (cf. Acts 13:51). The instructions reflect the apocalyptic atmosphere of early Christianity--the imminence of the kingdom and the need for haste in preaching the gospel--but are also true, so far as we can see, to the framework of Jesus' own thought.
2. HEROD HEARS RUMORS ABOUT JESUS (9:7-9=Mark 6:14-16)
A passage that bridges a literary gap between the departure and the return of the twelve. The various popular estimates of Jesus' person agree with those reported by the disciples in a later story (9:19; Mark 8:27-28), and Mark may have taken them from that narrative to expand a reference in his source material to Herod's uneasy reflections.
7-8. Herod the tetrarch is a correction of Mark's "king Herod"--also made by Matthew. All that was done has a wider reference than to the missionary activity of the twelve. John the Baptist had stirred the interest and excited the imagination of large numbers of people, and Jesus doubtless seemed to many to be continuing his work. The idea that Elijah was to reappear "in the last days" occurs in Mal. 4:5; Ecclus. 48:10, and frequently in rabbinical literature. That one of the old prophets had risen is Luke's interpretation of Mark's "a prophet, like one of the prophets of old." None of the surmises identifies Jesus with the Messiah.
9. Luke omits the long parenthesis in Mark that tells of Herod's execution of John (see Intro., p. 18) and leaves his readers to make the easy inference. Only Luke says that Herod was perplexed. According to Mark, the tetrarch thought that Jesus was the Baptist redivivus. And he sought to see him is a statement in accord with 23:8 but in apparent contradiction to 13:31.
3. RETURN OF THE APOSTLES AND JESUS' DEPARTURE FROM GALILEE (9:10-11=Mark 6:30-34)
10-11. Bethsaida was a city on the north end of the lake, to the east of the Jordan. It had been rebuilt by Philip as the capital of his tetrarchy. By telescoping Mark's account Luke takes Jesus and his disciples out of Galilee before, instead of after, the feeding of the multitude. Such editorial redaction facilitates the omission of Mark 6:45-8:26 between 9:17 and 18 (see Intro., pp. 18-19) but involves the crowds that followed Jesus in a journey of ten miles or more, and overlooks the fact that the succeeding narrative was originally localized "in a lonely place" (vs. 12).
4. FEEDING OF FIVE THOUSAND (9:12-17=Mark 6:35-44)
This is the only miracle story in the tradition that is recorded in all four Gospels. Mark (8:1-9) and Matthew (15:82-38) also relate another variant. John (ch. 6) understood the incident to symbolize the Eucharist, and therefore omitted any reference to the institution of the latter in his account of the Last Supper (John 13). Christ himself was "the bread of life" that was given "for the life of the world" (John 6:48-51).
Frequent and ingenious attempts have been made to discover a "historical core" to the narrative. Jesus and his disciples, it is said, distributed their own small store of provisions, and their example stimulated a contagious generosity among others. But such rationalizations do not carry conviction. In all likelihood the story of the multiplication of the loaves and the fish is a miracle story that carne in the course of narration to be regarded as a prototype of the Eucharist. Bread and fish on frescoes in the catacombs are symbols of the Lord's Supper. A similar story about a miraculous feeding of a hundred men had been told of Elisha (II Kings 4:42-44).
12-15. Barley loaves and smoked or pickled fish were the food of the poor in Palestine. Mark puts this numerical estimate of the crowd at the end of his narrative. By fifties instead of Mark's "by hundreds and by fifties."
16. The actions that are ascribed to Jesus were those employed by the celebrant of the Lord's Supper in the ritual of the early church. The presiding elder or bishop blessed the bread, broke it into fragments, and gave them to deacons to be distributed to the faithful. The priest in the western church still looks up to heaven when he consecrates the elements. But rabbinical notices show that a Jewish host observed much the same ritual at any common meal (cf. also 24:30; Acts 27:35).
17. The careful collection of larger fragments was accepted procedure after a Jewish meal, but the mention of baskets of broken pieces also served to emphasize the miraculous--the disciples had far more left over than they had when they started. Twelve in this version of the story ("seven" in Mark 8:8) corresponds to the number of the disciples.
5. PETER'S CONFESSION; JESUS' FIRST PREDICTION OF HIS PASSION (9:18-22=Mark 8:27-31)
The story of Peter's confession introduces a new section in Mark's Gospel (Mark 8:27-10:52) and forms a great divide. Jesus is the center of interest, no longer as a public figure, but as the suffering Messiah who seeks to prepare his disciples for the events of his passion. Luke's method of composition robs the incident of this place of pivotal importance. His "great insertion" (9:51-18:14), with its wealth of teaching matter, separates the first two Marcan prophecies of the Passion (9:22, 44) from the third (18:31), and the attention of the reader continues to be focused on Jesus' public ministry.
18-19. Jesus was praying on this occasion, as at other crises in his ministry in Luke's Gospel. The statement that Jesus was alone and that the disciples were with him is interpreted by B. H. Streeter (The Four Gospels, pp. 176-77) as evidence that Luke used a mutilated copy of Mark. The former assertion was dependent on Mark 6:45-47 and the latter on Mark 8:27b--the matter that in Luke's text was the immediate introduction to Peter's confession. But Luke may simply mean that Jesus was no longer accompanied by "the crowd." Cf. Mark 4:10 for similar phraseology. According to Mark, Jesus asked the question while he and his disciples were in the vicinity of Caesarea Philippi. Luke assumes that his readers have no interest in the place name. The popular surmises that are reported in this passage are the same as had already come to the ears of Herod (9:7-8). Luke again changes Mark's "one of the prophets" to read: one of the old prophets has risen.
20-21. Peter is the spokesman for the disciples. This is perhaps the crucial passage that bears on the question: Did Jesus think of his mission in terms of the messianic concept? If this incident rests on a historical reminiscence, it demonstrates that Jesus' disciples came to interpret his mission in the light of messianic expectations and that he himself at least tacitly accepted the designation "Messiah." Those who regard the messianic interpretation of Jesus' life and work as early Christology that has been read back into the records consider the story a later articulation of Christian faith. The question of Jesus' messianic consciousness is one of historical rather than of religious importance. It was only in the early days of the church that it was a matter of any consequence to demonstrate that Jesus had fulfilled Jewish messianic hopes. Later Christology employed more adequate categories to explain the central fact of Christian experience--that God has come into human life in Jesus Christ for man's salvation. Nevertheless the conclusion that Jesus was driven to accept the messianic category as the only one that could do justice to his sense of mission commends itself to most interpreters as a historical datum. According to this understanding, Jesus accepted Peter's confession but declined to have it made public until he had reinterpreted the popular messianic concept in terms of service, suffering, and sacrifice.
22. The Son of man is a synonym for Messiah in this passage, but its employment does not settle the vexed question whether Jesus ever used the phrase, since the details of this prediction appear to have been filled in after the events. Seventy-one representatives of the elders and chief priests and scribes constituted the Sanhedrin, the final court of appeal for Jews in Palestine in all matters that were not specifically reserved by the Roman procurator for his own jurisdiction. On the third day instead of Mark's "after three days."
6. MOTIF OF MARTYRDOM (9:23-27=Mark 8:34-9:1)
23. The same saying has another setting in 14:27 (Matthew 10:38). Both in Mark and in Q it was a Christian summons to martyrdom that presupposes reflection on the death of Christ and an experience of persecution. Let him deny himself, i.e., "let him disregard all thought of himself." By adding daily to take up his cross Luke has toned down the demand to mean little more than "face the dangers of his Christian calling" (cf. I Cor. 15:31).
24. Also in Q (17:33; Matthew 10:39). Saving one's life by evading martyrdom and losing it at the final judgment are contrasted with losing one's life as a Christian martyr and saving it in the world to come.
25. A restatement of vs. 24a. Wealth and power in this life count for nothing at the last assize.
26. The first reference in Luke's Gospel to the Second Coming. The saying articulates the "Son of man" Christology and the eschatological expectations of the early church. There is a tendency in the tradition to substitute Son of man for an original "I," and it has been noted that the title is missing in this instance from the Q version (Luke 12:9; Matthew 10:33).
27. At times in his teaching Jesus declared that the kingdom of God is already a fact of human experience. At other times, as in this saying, he speaks of it as an eschaton--an event of the last days. Both Jesus and the early church believed that God would inaugurate his rule within the lifetime of some of Jesus' auditors. Mark's "come with power" is omitted.
7. THE TRANSFIGURATION (9:28-36=Mark 9:2-10)
Both Mark and Luke understood the incident of the Transfiguration as a divine confirmation of Jesus' messiahship. Jesus had tacitly accepted Peter's messianic designation, but had warned his disciples that he must suffer. To his most intimate followers it was shown that despite the "fate that awaited him," he was nevertheless God's "Son" and "Chosen."
As we have it, then, the story belongs to the field of Christian doctrine. After the Resurrection all Christians knew their Lord as the glorified Messiah. The gospel narrative declares that even during Jesus' lifetime a few intimate followers were permitted a glimpse of what he was to become.
If Mark 9:9 (cf. Luke 9:36b) is not just another editorial articulation of "the messianic secret," it may be an admission that the story gained currency only after the Resurrection. Many interpreters hold that the narrative was originally an account of an appearance of the risen Christ (cf. I Cor. 15:5-8) to Peter, James, and John that has been moved forward and made an incident in the life of Jesus. Others believe it is based on a historical reminiscence. "The remark of S. Peter [Mark 9:5] is precisely the kind of remark--half-related to the supposed situation, semi-reasonable, and yet fundamentally foolish--which might be made by a man in a dream, or in the strange, half-hypnotic condition in which men see visions (and hear voices)" (A. E. J. Rawlinson, St. Mark [London: Methuen & Co., 1925], p. 118).
28-29. About eight days after these sayings for Mark's "after six days." The mountain ("the holy mount" in II Pet. 1:18) is unnamed. To pray is a characteristic Lukan addition. Luke paraphrases Mark's "and he was transfigured before them."
30-31. Moses was the prototype (Deut. 18:15) and Elijah the forerunner (Mal. 4:5) of the Messiah in some Jewish speculation, and both--according to an interpretation of Deut. 34:6 in the Assumption of Moses and to the story in II Kings 2:11--had been directly translated to the heavens. They appear to be the "two witnesses" of the Messiah in Rev. 11:3-12. Allegorists have equated them with the Law and the Prophets. Only Luke refers to the subject of their discussion with Jesus. His departure, which he was to accomplish is a painfully literal translation of a Greek clause that could be rendered "the fate that awaited him."
32. Peculiar to Luke, and probably editorial. Luke thinks of the incident as nocturnal. The RSV implies that Peter and his companions were fighting off drowsiness, but the KJV--on just as good authority--makes better sense: and when they were awake.
33. Peter's remark, as the KJV understands it, means that the three disciples wished to prolong a rewarding experience. The RSV offers another, and attractive, alternative: It is well that we are here to be of some service. Both Mark and Luke make the comment that Peter's proposal was inept, perhaps because they thought heavenly beings did not require earthly habitations.
34-35. The climax of the story. In Exod. 24:15-18; I Kings 8:10, and elsewhere in the O.T., a cloud (the Shekina) symbolized the presence of God. It was expected to reappear in the messianic period (II Macc. 2:8). The text is ambiguous; but presumably the cloud enveloped only Jesus and his heavenly associates. This is my Son, my Chosen (RSV) has better support in the MSS than the KJV reading, which agrees with the text of Mark. Listen to him! may have been added to an earlier form of the utterance from Deut. 18:15: the Messiah is the "Prophet" foretold by Moses.
36. They ... told no one in those days is substituted for Jesus' charge to the disciples in Mark to tell no one "until the Son of man should have risen from the dead."
8. EXORCISM OF A DEMON FROM A BOY (9:37-43a=Mark 9:14-27)
The compassionate healer in the valley of suffering succeeds the transfigured Christ on the holy mount. Raphael's masterpiece has immortalized the contrast.
37. On the next day, because Luke thought of the Transfiguration as a vision in the night.
38-39. For he is my only child is a sentimental addition to Mark's story. The symptoms suggest that epilepsy was the disease that is described. Shatters him is an overliteral translation. Read "exhausts him."
40. The failure of the disciples throws their Master's powers into greater relief.
41. The reproach recalls God's own complaints in Num. 14:27 and Isa. 65:2. It voices a mood of weariness that is not easy to understand in its present setting. A faithless and perverse generation surely includes more than the disciples. Martin Dibelius sees a mythical trait in the words. Jesus speaks as a divine being who has appeared only temporarily in human form (From Tradition to Gospel, tr. Bertram Lee Woolf [New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1935], p. 278).
42-43a. Luke has effected a drastic compression of his Marcan source. And gave him back to his father is an added detail (cf. 7:15).
9. JESUS' SECOND PREDICTION OF HIS PASSION (9:43b-45=Mark 9:31-32)
Luke omits Mark's note about Jesus' clandestine return with his disciples to Galilee, and supplies his own introduction to the second prediction.
43b-44. The crowds might marvel at "all he was doing" (Goodspeed) but the disciples were again to be forewarned of the impending tragedy. The contrast is stronger in the Greek text than in either the KJV or the RSV ("You must let ..."). These words apparently refer to the saying that follows, and for, which serves in the Greek only to introduce it, might better be omitted in the translation. Luke had reproduced all the details of the first prediction (vs. 22) from his Marcan source but abbreviates this one.
45. Mark's verse is expanded to suggest that God had never intended the disciples to understand the prophecy. This meaning disappears if the Greek subordinating conjunction implies only consequence--"so that they did not perceive it." But Luke's sentence then becomes painfully prolix.
10. DISPUTE ABOUT RANK (9:46-48=Mark 9:33-37)
46. The KJV is probably correct when it implies that the dispute among the disciples had to do with precedence in the future kingdom of God (cf. Mark 10:37).
47-48. Luke interprets Mark to mean that Jesus' perception was supernatural. Receives must mean "cares for," and in my name, "because it is his duty as one of my followers." Probably the saying was originally independent of its present context. Jesus speaks much as does the Christ of the Gospel of John (John 12:44-45). Christian ethics are grounded in Christian theology. Christian service to the lowliest is done to the Lord of the church, and thereby to God. Mark's formulation of the saying about true greatness precedes the acted parable of the child. The early church regarded the reversal of popular values in vs. 48b as a characteristic element in Jesus' teaching. See 22:26 (Mark 10:43-44) for another version. We are reminded of the Matthaean beatitude: "Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth" (Matthew 5:5).
11. AN EXORCIST WHO WAS NOT A FOLLOWER (9:49-50=Mark 9:38-40)
49-50. Counsel to Christians not to proscribe the practice by outsiders of exorcism in the name of Jesus (cf. Moses' advice concerning Eldad and Medad in Num. 11:27-29). Luke reports instances of the successful use of the formula by Peter (Acts 3:6-8) and Paul (Acts 16:16-18) in the early days of the church as well as one unsuccessful attempt by Jews (Acts 19:13-17). The Paris Magical Papyrus 574, written in Egypt about A.D. 300, quotes a later version used by an exorcist who was probably neither Jew nor Christian: "I exorcise you by Jesus, the god of the Hebrews" (lines 3018-20). The better MSS support against you (RSV) and for you (RSV). Possibly Luke substituted these readings for Mark's "against us" and "for us" in order to gloss over an apparent conflict with the saying in 11:23 (Matthew 12:30).
V. JESUS ON THE JOURNEY TO JERUSALEM (9:51-19:27)
Luke has substituted this extensive travel section for Mark's brief account (Mark 10:1-11:10) of Jesus' journey to Jerusalem. The greater part of it (9:51-18:14) is a "great insertion" into the framework of Mark's narrative. By this literary device the Third Evangelist found a place for a wealth of teaching tradition that was probably undated and without context in his sources. According to Mark 10:1, Jesus crossed the Jordan and traveled through Perea. The initial story in Luke's section (9:51-56) is located in Samaria, but the only other reference to that half-alien province (17:11) does not imply direct passage through it, and, despite the opinion of many commentators, there is no real reason to believe that Luke was trying to correct the Marcan tradition. The fact that Jesus and his disciples arrived in the end at Jericho in Luke's account (18:35) as well as in Mark's (10:46) suggests that Luke was dependent on Mark for ali his information about the journey. Most of the teaching in the travel section presumes the public that Jesus had in Galilee: the crowds (11:29; 12:1, 54; 14:25); a sabbath congregation in a synagogue (13:10); tax collectors and sinners (15:1); friendly Pharisees (11:37; 13:31; 14:1); hostile lawyers and Pharisees (10:25; 11:45, 53; 15:2; 16:14); and the ever-present company of the disciples. Luke's frequent references to travel (9:57; 10:38; 13:22; 14:25; 17:11; 18:35) are modeled on Mark's (10:17, 32, 46) and are probably editorial.
A. JESUS SETS HIS FACE TOWARD JERUSALEM (9:51-62)
1. HOSTILE SAMARITANS (9:51-56)
51a. Editorial. To be received up, i.e., "into heaven." A reference to the Ascension (24:50-53; Acts 1:9-11). Luke assumes that the events of the gospel story have been foreordained. Steadfastly (KJV) has no corresponding adverb in the Greek text but emphasizes the deliberate resolution that is implicit in the Semitism he set his face (cf. Jer. 21:10).
51b-53. A similar reference to Jesus' use of advance agents is found in 22:7-13. There is little reason to doubt that this incident was already located near a village of the Samaritans in Luke's source. John 4:1-42 also records a tradition that Jesus taught in Samaria. Josephus reports a collision about A.D. 50 between Galilean pilgrims and hostile Samaritans, which may explain why many preferred to take the circuitous route to Jerusalem through Perea. But that author also tells us in the same passage that the Samaritan route was the usual one (Antiquities XX. 6. 1).
54. James and John wished to invoke a punitive miracle upon the villagers in accordance with O.T. precedent (II Kings 1:9-16). Marcion, codices Bezae and Alexandrinus, and many later authorities make this explicit by adding "as Elijah did" (RSV mg. [cf. KJV]). Some interpreters have advanced the suggestion that the nickname "sons of thunder" (in Mark 3:17 only) derives from this occasion; but this is mere conjecture.
55-56. Such stories as this usually reach their climax in a saying of Jesus, and various MSS undertook to supply the deficiency in this instance. Marcion, Codex Bezae, and many later authorities added "and he said 'You do not know what manner of spirit you are of'" (RSV mg. [cf. KJV]). The disciples were not to be governed by Elijah's hot-tempered example but by Jesus' teaching about nonresistance to evil (6:29). Marcion and many later authorities also expanded the same saying with the words: "For the Son of man came not to destroy men's lives but to save them" (RSV mg. [cf. KJV]). Another village could mean a more hospitable Samaritan one. However, since Jesus and his disciples were repulsed in Samaria, Luke may wish us to understand that they returned to the Galilean side of the border. The verse 17:11 is not decisive.
2. CONDITIONS OF DISCIPLESHIP (9:57-62=Matthew 8:19-22)
57-58. Jesus warns an aspirant to discipleship to count its cost. If the saying is autobiographical, it must come from a period when Jesus as a teacher had been repudiated by most of his countrymen. Son of man in this instance has none of the eschatological content usually associated with the title. To understand it as a mistranslation of the Aramaic phrase meaning "man" is to reduce the utterance to a pessimistic and inaccurate generalization. Perhaps vs. 58c was originally cast in the first person singular.
59-60. There is a higher loyalty than even filial duty. The proclamation of the kingdom of God brooks no delay. The dead are the "spiritually dead" who have not heeded the call of the kingdom. The resemblance of this story to that of Elijah and Elisha in I Kings 19:19-21 is too remote to support any theory of literary dependence.
61-62. Matthew has no parallel to these verses. It is difficult to believe that he would have suppressed them. Probably Luke provided the striking saying in vs. 62 with its present introduction and gave it this appropriate setting. No one who has ever tried to plow a straight furrow can miss the point: the task requires a man's uninterrupted attention. Is fit for probably means "is fitted to work for."