Sunday, May 31, 2009

Luke 16 and 17


The parables of the good Samaritan and of the Pharisee and the publican commend a certain type of behavior. They are "example stories." But the parable of the dishonest steward belongs to a different category. There is nothing edifying about it. The steward's conduct was characterized in the beginning by incompetence and in the end by flagrant dishonesty. If it is a true parable, Jesus must have used it, as he did the parables of the importunate friend and the unrighteous judge, to make one truth vivid and memorable; but since we do not know its original context, we can only guess what that truth was. Whatever its original purpose, early Christian teachers used it with Jesus' authority to recommend the practice of prudence. The steward was a rascal, but a clever rascal, and Jesus' followers were invited to emulate that cleverness for better ends: The children of this world are in their generation wiser than the children of light (KJV). Vs. 9 limits the point to the prudent use of money, and may be Luke's own addition.
16:la. Editorial introduction. If Jesus used the parable that follows, and interpreted it as Luke does in vs. 9, he may have addressed it to some such group as the "tax collectors and sinners" of 15:1. Jesus' disciples can scarcely have needed advice about the use of "unrighteous mammon," but no doubt the issue had become a live one in the church of Luke's day.
1b-2. There is no allegory in the narrative. The rich man is not God or the devil or mammon, and the steward is not intended to represent a disciple. The estate manager in this instance is an employee, not an overslave as in 12:42-48. His employer, informed that he has been wasteful in his management of his affairs, demands a final statement of his accounts before dismissing him from his service.
3-4. The steward has not been accused of dishonesty but fears that his dismissal will imperil his ability to earn a living. In his extremity he concocts a scheme by which he hopes to place a number of people under obligation to himself and thereby to assure their help when he needs it.
5-7. He summons his master's debtors individually and invites them to falsify their accounts. The debtors are either tenants who have signed agreements to pay for the rent of their land in kind (cf. Mark 12:2) or purchasers of produce from the estate who have signed notes calling for payment at some later date. They are encouraged to alter the amounts of their bills, or perhaps to draft new ones and inscribe smaller amounts. A hundred measures of oil, about 875 gallons. Quickly: Probably to be construed with write rather than with sit down. A hundred measures of wheat, about a thousand bushels.
8. It is difficult to decide whether the lord of this verse refers to the "rich man" of the parable or to Jesus. If the former identification is accepted (with the KJV and the RSV), then we are to assume that the employer detected his steward's dishonesty but expressed admiration for his cleverness. If the latter is preferred, the first half of the verse is an indirect reference to Jesus' comment on the story and the second half is a direct quotation of his words. With vs. 8b, cf. Matthew 10:16b: "Be wise as serpents and innocent as doves." Those who belong only to this age (RSV mg.; cf. 20:34) are wiser in the attention they give their worldly interests than are the sons of light (cf. John 12:36; Eph. 5:8; I Thess. 5:5) in their concern for their eternal welfare.
9. Editorial interpretation. The real lesson of the parable is now said to be the wise use of money. Mammon represents the Aramaic anwmm, a word which means "money," but whose derivation is still a matter of dispute. Luke apparently believed that all money has some taint about it, and that the only redeeming feature of its possession is that it can be expended for righteous purposes. As the dishonest steward used money to make sure that people would receive him into their houses after he had been dismissed from his stewardship (vs. 4), so Christians are to use it to assure eternal habitations for themselves. It is the distribution of money as alms to the poor that is meant (12:33). Make friends for yourselves: The recipients of alms will intercede with God that the giver may be received into the heavenly dwelling places. When it fails (RSV): Money is useless after death, and so the clause is the equivalent of "when you die," and amounts to the same thing as the inferior reading translated by the KJV, when ye fail. That ... they may receive you: The rich can help the poor in this age, and the poor can help the rich in the age to come. Or perhaps the whole clause is a circumlocution to avoid the use of the divine name. "That ... God may receive you."
Luke assembles a number of sayings to guard against any misunderstanding of the parable. Jesus had not commended the steward's dishonesty, but only his prudence. The disciple must be scrupulously honest in all money matters. According to some interpreters, vs. 10 was a current proverb or maxim, and vss. 11-12 are religious interpretations of it in the light of the foregoing parable. Others believe all three sayings were suggested by the parable of the pounds, particularly the master's commendation of the servant in 19:17 (Matthew 25:21).
10. II Clement 8:5: "For the Lord says in the gospel: 'If you do not guard what is small, who will give you what is great? For I tell you that he who is faithful in a very little is faithful also in much.'" Other variants are quoted by Irenaeus and Hilarius.
11. The unrighteous mammon: see on vs. 9. The true riches, i.e., heavenly treasure--God's gifts in the new age.
12. That which is another's: Money is a foreign currency to those whose citizenship is in heaven. That which is your own: Heavenly treasure is the Christian's only true and eternal possession. "Our own" is the reading in Codex Vaticanus and some allies. Marcion reads "my own."
13. Identical with its Matthaean counterpart except for the use of servant instead of "man." Incorporated by Luke at this point because of the occurrence of the word mammon. Devotion to money and devotion to God are incompatible loyalties.
14-15a. Editorial introduction. The Pharisees, who have not been mentioned since 15:2, are reintroduced, and we are told that Jesus now addressed himself to them. Who were lovers of money is a generalization linking the saying that follows with vss. 1-13, but it does an injustice to the party within Judaism characterized by its devotion to the law. The anti-Pharisaic polemic in the Gospels is in large part a reflection of the later controversy between church and synagogue (see on 11:37-44).
15b. Perhaps originally a stricture on self-righteous pride. But Luke thought of it in some way as a criticism of mammon service. The Pharisees claim that their wealth is proof that they are righteous, but God's verdict is different from men's. Or the idea may be similar to that in Matthew 6:2. The ostentatious distribution of alms is highly esteemed among men, but is an abomination in the sight of God.
5. THE LAW AND THE GOSPEL (16:16-18; cf. Matthew 11:12-13; 5:18, 31-32)
Three scattered sayings that have little or no connection with one another or with the rest of the material in the chapter.
16. Matthew preserves a more extended, more obscure, and possibly more primitive version. John the Baptist marks a turning point, in history. Before his time, the law and the prophets; since his time, the kingdom of God. One of several sayings in the gospel tradition that speak of the new age of God's rule as a fact of present experience, not just an event of the last days. Already every one enters it violently. Already men may participate in it, press their way into it, if they will run every risk, exert every effort, and make every sacrifice. Cf. Jesus' exhortations in 9:59-62; 13:24, and 14:26. No reference to political messianists, such as the Zealots, need be conjectured.
17. Used by Luke at this point to avoid the implication that the gospel has abrogated the law. The latter retains its validity. Tittle: Probably an ornamental stroke decorating the letters of the Hebrew alphabet.
18. The marriage bond is indissoluble. In addition to Matthew 5:31-32, variants are also found in Mark 10:11 (Matthew 19:9) and in I Cor. 7:10-11. Matthew is alone in introducing the clause "except on the ground of unchastity."
Two distinct themes are discussed. Vss. 19-26 declare that there will be a reversal of values in the life to come. The poor will be rewarded and the rich will be punished. The point of view is similar to that in 6:20b, 24: "Blessed are you poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. ... But woe to you that are rich, for you have received your consolation." Vss. 27-31 assert that the impenitent rich have already had ample warning of their fate in the Law and the Prophets, and would not repent even if one were to return from the dead to reiterate that warning.
Many interpreters believe that the latter section is an allegorical appendix that presupposes the conflict between early Christianity and orthodox Judaism. The rich man and his brothers represent the unbelieving Jews. Jesus is made to assert that they have stubbornly refused to repent in spite of the obvious testimony to himself in Scripture and to predict that they will fail to be impressed by his resurrection. It is conceivable that Luke and his readers imposed some such interpretation on these verses, but it is by no means clear that it is inherent. They are more readily interpreted as an attack on Sadducean wealth and worldliness. Most Sadducees were priests or members of the Jewish aristocracy--privileged and frequently wealthy people. A refusal to believe in an afterlife, or to admit that Scripture afforded any warrant for such a belief, was among their characteristic tenets. Vss. 27-31 may have been added to the parable to make it a criticism of Sadducean materialism.
In 1918 Hugo Gressmann of the University of Berlin published an elaborate monograph on the parable which has influenced much of its subsequent interpretation. According to Gressmann, the story that Jesus told was a Jewish version of an ancient Egyptian tale, still extant in a demotic papyrus of the first century A.D. The body of a wealthy man, clad in his finest attire, was carried to his grave by a large company of mourners. At the same time the body of a poor man was removed for burial, unaccompanied by attendants and covered only by a mat. An observer, impressed by the disparity in the honors bestowed on the two, commented on the advantages enjoyed by the rich man, but changed his views when he was permitted to visit the underworld. There he saw the poor man clothed in the linen garments of the rich and given a place of honor, while the rich man suffered torment for his evil deeds. The story concludes with the moral: "He who is good on earth fares well in the realm of the dead, and he who is evil on earth fares ill."
Gressmann is less convincing when he elaborates his theory to explain the apparent break in the parable at vs. 27. He asserts that the latter section was Jesus' protest against basing the doctrine of rewards and punishments in an afterlife on stories of visits to the other world. Moses and the prophets bear witness to it, and no miracle is necessary to authenticate their testimony.
The parable is unique in the Gospels for its colorful description of the state of men after death. As in the LXX, Hades represents the Hebrew word Sheol. In early Hebrew thought Sheol was a gloomy subterranean pit to which the spirits of men went after death and in which they suffered some shadowy and miserable existence. When later Judaism adopted the idea of the resurrection, probably from Persian eschatology, Sheol became the temporary abode of disembodied spirits. Gradually the belief arose that there would be some separation of the righteous from the wicked even before the resurrection. In I Enoch 22 the author speaks of special places reserved in Sheol for the evil and the good "until the great day of judgment." The Lukan parable moves within a similar framework of thought. One part of Hades resembles Gehenna, the place of final punishment. In it the rich man suffers fiery torment. The other part resembles Paradise, the final dwelling place of the righteous. In it Lazarus rests on Abraham's bosom. The two men can see one another and speak to one another, but actual passage from one part to the other is impossible, for between the two a great gulf has been fixed.
19-21. The rich man is often called "Dives," the word with which the Vulg. translated the adjective "rich." The Sahidic version named him "Nineve," and the name "Phinees" also had some currency in the third century A.D. Purple for the outer and fine linen for the undergarment. Lazarus: The Greek form of Eleazar, which means "one whom God has helped." This is the only parable in which a proper name occurs; it is necessary for the course of the dialogue in vss. 23-25. The name is a common one, and there is no reason to suspect any connection between the parable and the story of Lazarus in John 11. What fell from the rich man's table: Refuse later thrown outside the gate. Dogs were regarded as unclean animals, and their unwelcome attentions were the climax of the poor man's miseries.
22. Carried by the angels: That "angels of service" and "angels of destruction" are sent to fetch the souls of the righteous and of the wicked after death is stated by a Jewish rabbi of the second century A.D., and no doubt the idea is much more ancient. Abraham's bosom: The poor man's relationship to the patriarch was that of a son to his father (cf. John 1:18). The rich man ... was buried: Failure to receive burial could have been interpreted as an act of divine punishment on earth, but no such misfortune occurred.
23-24. The rich man craves a drop of water, as Lazarus had once longed for crumbs of bread. The ideas of Paradise and of Gehenna have practically coalesced with the earlier idea of Sheol--a flame in one part of Hades, and a spring of water in the other.
25. We are not told that the rich man had been particularly evil, and the poor man particularly good, although the story may carry that implication. Abraham's only argument is that those who enjoy good things in this life suffer evil things in the life to come and vice versa.
26. Another reason for rejecting the request: It cannot be granted.
27-28. If Lazarus cannot cross over the chasm to help the rich man, perhaps he can return to earth with a warning for the rich man's brothers.
29-31. Such a mission would be superfluous. Moses and the prophets have already spoken of rewards and punishments in a life to come. Those who do not heed Scripture would not be impressed by any miracle of resurrection.

1. ON THOSE WHO CAUSE OTHERS TO SIN; FORGIVENESS; FAITH(17:l-6=Matthew 18:7, 6, 15, 21-22; 17:20b)
Three unrelated sayings abstracted from Q.
17:1-2. A general principle with a specific application. Matthew gives the verses in reverse order and there is a variant of vs. 2 in Mark 9:42. Temptations to sin: The plural of a noun whose basic meaning is "trap" or "snare." Millstone: More picturesquely described in Mark and Matthew as a heavy one that would have to be turned by an ass. One of these little ones: Probably Luke understood the phrase to mean the disciples or some special group among them. The meaning is made explicit in both Matthew and Mark by the addition of "who believe in me."
3-4. Take heed to yourselves: The Greek phrase is used on several occasions in Luke-Acts but not elsewhere in the N.T. Probably Luke intended the warning to be attached to the saying in vs. 2. If your brother sins: Codex Bezae and its allies add "against you," which is no doubt a correct interpretation of the text. It is the individual responsibility of an injured party that is under discussion. Matthew makes the rebuke only the first step in an elaborate procedure of ecclesiastical discipline (Matthew 18:15-17). The offender is to be forgiven, no matter how often the offense is repeated, if he shows a spirit of contrition. The imperative is unconditional in Matthew's version, whose "seventy-seven times" makes the saying the converse of Lamech's cry for revenge (Gen. 4:24).
5. Probably editorial, as the use of the words apostles and the Lord suggests. Increase our faith: "Give us more faith so that we can carry out your command." Or the request might mean: "Add faith to the other gifts you have given us."
6. Truth made vivid and memorable by paradox. The minutest quantity of faith-implicit trust in God--would enable men to accomplish things that seem impossible. "This word of Jesus does not invite Christians to become conjurers and magicians, but heroes like those whose exploits are celebrated in the eleventh chapter of Hebrews (Manson, Mission and Message of Jesus, p. 433). "Mountain" for sycamine tree (a black mulberry) in Matthew 17:20b, and in the variant in Mark 11:22-23 (Matthew 21:21). Note also I Cor. 13:2.
There is no apparent connection with the preceding. Jesus was not concerned in the parable with criticizing or commending the farmer's treatment of his slave. The story is not about life in the new age (as in 12:37) but about everyday rural life in the Palestine of the first century. A commonplace incident is made the vehicle of a spiritual truth.
7-9. Servant translates the Greek word for "slave." A series of questions whose answers would seem obvious to men who lived under a slave economy. The essence of the parable is in vs. 9. The slave who only carries out his master's orders has not earned any right to his thanks. I trow not (KJV) is added by codices Alexandrinus and Bezae, and other later MSS and versions.
10. The application: Men who only carry out God's commands have no claim on any reward. "The tilt against exaggerations and perversions of the doctrine of tit for tat is a prominent and characteristic feature of the teaching of Jesus. What we receive from God is grace and goodness, and not reward. ... The excessive emphasis and elaboration of the doctrine of retribution was one of the weak spots of Rabbinic Judaism" (Montefiore, Synoptic Gospels, II, 543).
Probably a variant of 5:12-14 (Mark 1:40-45). But in this special Lukan version the number of lepers has been increased from one to ten; the miracle is effected at a distance; a Samaritan has been included in the leper group; and the emphasis is on the fact that only a foreigner showed any gratitude for Jesus' act of healing. Possibly Luke made a place for the story in his narrative to show that an incident in Jesus' own ministry had foreshadowed the acceptance of the gospel by Gentiles and its rejection by Jews.
11. Another abrupt reminder that Jesus was still in the course of a leisurely journey to Jerusalem. Between (RSV)--near the border of--is preferable to through the midst of (KJV) as a translation of a difficult Greek phrase. Probably Luke mentions Jesus' proximity to Samaria only to account for the reference to a Samaritan in the story this verse introduces.
12-14. There is a reference to a similar leper colony outside the gate in II Kings 7:3. For leprosy as a disease in the ancient world, and for regulations governing the segregation of lepers and their readmission to society see on 5:12-14 (also Vol. VII, p. 338). Go and show yourselves to the priests: The command precedes the actual miracle of healing in contrast to 5:14. The Jewish lepers would be required to report to the temple in Jerusalem, but what of the Samaritan?
15-16. Only a foreigner returns to give thanks to Jesus, as did the Syrian Naaman to Elisha (II Kings 5:15).
17-18. The story in 5:12-14 was told as an illustration of Jesus' miraculous powers as a healer. In this version the miracle has been subordinated to a series of rhetorical--and prophetic--questions.
19. A command and a comment that were apt enough in 8:48 (cf. 7:50) but which introduce an element of confusion here. Were not the nine Jews also healed by virtue of their faith? Perhaps Luke added the verse to end the story with a familiar formula.
Peculiar to Luke's Gospel, but believed by some interpreters to have stood in Q as an introduction to the matter that Luke now associates with it in the verses that follow.
20a. An introduction typically Greek in its structure and possibly supplied by the evangelist.
20b-21a. A protest against speculation concerning the time when God's rule would begin. With signs to be observed is an interpretation of a Greek phrase, occurring here only in the N.T., which KJV translated with observation. From the time of the book of Daniel Jewish apocalyptic writers were more concerned with the signs that would mark the end of the age than with any other feature of the apocalyptic hope. They gave their imaginations free rein in their portrayal of the catastrophes--"the woes of the Messiah"--which would indicate that God was about to destroy the present world order. Wars, fratricidal strife, social collapse, natural disasters, a breakup of the cosmic order--such were the lurid events they delighted to detail and delineate. Behind this interest was the belief that the worst would have to come to the worst before God would intervene to destroy the present age and to inaugurate the new era of his rule.
21b. The positive half of the saying asserts the utter futility of all such popular interest in signs. Our interpretation of it will depend on the meaning we give to the preposition ejnto;v. The KJV and the RSV represent two possibilities. (1) Within (KJV; RSV rag.) corresponds to the normal Greek use of the word, and this translation makes Jesus declare that God's rule is a new spiritual principle already operative in the lives of men. In this sense the saying can be compared with the words of Paul in Rom. 14:17: "For the kingdom of God does not mean food and drink but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit." It has been objected that Jesus could not have spoken of the kingdom of God as within the Pharisees, but this difficulty loses its force if the introduction is secondary--i.e., in the original saying perhaps Jesus was talking to his disciples. Another objection is more serious. The thought of the kingdom of God as a new state of being, while similar to the concept of "eternal life" in the Gospel of John, has no parallels in the Synoptic Gospels. In the Synoptic tradition the idea appears always to have eschatological associations. It is a new age that will succeed the present world order, or that in some measure has already broken in upon it. (2) In the midst of (RSV) (or "among") is a translation that removes the saying from its exceptional category among the kingdom references in the Gospels. But we do not dispose of all exegetical problems by accepting this alternative. The verb "to be" would have been unexpressed in the Aramaic original. Is the saying predictive? Did Jesus mean to assert that the new age would arrive with such dramatic suddenness that men would have neither time nor occasion to observe its coming? Or does the saying state a fact? Does it belong with others by which Jesus declares that the new age is already in the midst of men, even though they may fail to be aware of it? (See on 7:28; 10:18; 11:20; 13:18-20; 16:16.)
2. SUDDEN COMING OF THE SON OF MAN (17:22-37=Matthew 24:23, 26-27, 37-41, 28)
Matthew combines eschatological matter from Q and from Mark 13:1 to form one composite discourse, much as he has already woven together the two accounts of the mission of the twelve. Luke keeps his sources separate, reproducing the Q matter at this point and the Marcan tradition in ch. 21.
22. Peculiar to Luke and possibly his own composition. Christ predicts the discouragement that would be experienced by the early Christian community at the delay in the introduction of the messianic age. The author of II Peter, writing about the middle of the second century, counseled his readers to hold fast to the hope but to postpone its realization to the distant future (II Pet. 3:3-10). The Son of man in this verse and throughout the paragraph is a supernatural being who will appear as God's vicegerent in the last days.
23-24. The disciples are to pay no attention to any rumors about the local advent of the Son of man. His coming will be as universal and unmistakable as a flash of lightning.
25. Note 9:22 (Mark 8:31). Missing from Matthew's version, and possibly an editorial insertion into older apocalyptic material. Jesus predicts that his passion will precede the eschatological events. Perhaps the purpose of the verse was to declare that Christ himself and none other was the Son of man of whose coming he had been speaking.
26-27. The messianic age will come upon careless men and women as suddenly and unexpectedly as the deluge in the days of Noah (Gen. 6:5-8; 7:6-24).
28-30. It will come upon them as abruptly as fire and brimstone fell upon the city of Sodom in the days of Lot (Gen. 18:20-33; 19:24-25). If this second O.T. illustration stood in the Q source, Matthew has omitted it. In both instances it is not the preparedness of the patriarch for the crisis that is emphasized, but the unpreparedness of his contemporaries. Noah and Lot were frequently associated in rabbinical tradition for hortatory purposes, as they are also in II Pet. 2:5-8.
31-33. Usually interpreted as the evangelist's elaboration of his source. Vs. 31 appears to have been introduced from Mark 13:15-16, which Luke does not use when he borrows other material from that chapter (following 21:21). In its Marcan context it is a warning to Judeans to flee at once when they see "the desolating sacrilege set up where it ought not to be" (Mark 13:14). Here it is advice to disciples to abandon all earthly possessions at the appearance of the Son of man. The warning let him ... not turn back prompts the evangelist to refer to the ill-fated indecision of Lot's wife (Gen. 19:26). Vs. 33 is a saying from Q that Luke has already used in a slightly different form in 9:24 (Matthew 10:39). Since there is no parallel to it in Matthew 24:1, it is probable that Luke himself is responsible for including it again at this point. In its present setting it declares that a man must forfeit his life as well as his earthly effects in the last day if he is to share in the glories of the coming age.
34-35. The closest associates will be separated by the appearance of the Son of man. In that night is a peculiar phrase after "on the day" of vs. 30. Luke must have been responsible for it if Matthew's "Then two men will be in the field" is the reading as it stood in Q. Two women would be required for the easy operation of a hand mill. Taken="saved." Left="abandoned to judgment."
36. Read by Codex Bezae, many late Greek MSS, and the Latin and Syriac versions. Probably a scribal gloss on the original text from Matthew 24:40. Its Lukan authorship has been defended on the precarious grounds that if vs. 34 refers to a man and his wife--not an improbable interpretation of the Greek text--some mention of male as well as female servants would be necessary to give a complete picture of a Palestinian household.
37. The saying is appended by Matthew--without Luke's introduction--to his counterpart to vss. 23-24, where it seems to emphasize the suddenness with which the Son of man will appear. No doubt a common proverb (cf. Job 39:30). Apparent meaning in Luke's context: "Judgment will take place wherever there is occasion for it." Possibly we should read vultures (RSV mg.) instead of eagles, for the latter are not carrion birds and are not gregarious.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Luke 14 and 15


See on 6:6-11; 13:10-17. Matthew 12:11 is a variant of the saying in vs. 5, inserted into the framework of a Marcan passage.
14:1. Jesus dines on the sabbath day with a Pharisee. Sabbath feasts involved no breach of sabbath legislation. The food was prepared the day before and kept warm. A ruler who belonged to the Pharisees: Another interpretation of the same Greek text that the KJV translates one of the chief Pharisees.
24. Answering (KJV): No question has preceded the statement (cf. 13:14) and the RSV omits this verbal form as a superfluous Semitism.
5. A son (RSV mg.; cf. Goodspeed): The reading in the Chester Beatty Gospel Papyrus (p45), Codex Vaticanus, Codex Alexandrinus, and a few other MSS. An ass: Read by Codex Sinaiticus, a few O.L. MSS, and the bulk of the late Greek MSS. Despite its less impressive attestation, the latter is preferred by the RSV editors, apparently because they believed the argument of the saying to be similar to that in 13:15 and Matthew 12:12a: of how much more value is a human being than an animal! But the sense could have been: If your child, or even one of your domestic animals, needs help on the sabbath you do not hesitate to give it!
6. Note 13:17a.
7. Editorial. It is difficult to understand the injunctions that follow as a parable. They appear to be practical rules of behavior that Luke has attempted to spiritualize by attaching the saying in vs. 11.
8-10. This passage is little more than an expansion of Prov. 25:6-7:
Claim not honor in the presence of the king,
Nor stand in the place of great men;
It is better for you to be told, "Come up hither!"
Than to be humbled before the noble (Amer. Trans.).
Codex Bezae and its allies have inserted a variant after Matthew 20:28 with the introduction: "Seek to increase from being little, and from being greater to be less." A marriage feast(RSV) rather than a wedding (KJV; cf. 12:36). Friend, go up higher, i.e., nearer the place where the host will preside.
11. In other contexts in 18:14 and in Matthew 23:12. Luke probably understood the saying eschatologically: There will be a reversal of values in the new age.
For another statement of the principle laid down in these verses see 6:32-35.
12a. Editorial.
12b. This saying should not be pressed to the point of declaring that Jesus forbade all social amenities. There is often an element of hyperbole in his utterances. Hospitality as a quid pro quo has no religious merit. It is paid for in this age.
13-14. The only generosity that God will recompense is that which is extended to those who cannot repay it. The same four classes of underprivileged guests are mentioned again in vs. 21. Jesus never qualified or apologized for the Jewish doctrine of reward. He did not anticipate Paul or Luther or Kant. At the resurrection of the just: Luke elsewhere speaks of the resurrection of the "unjust" as well as the "just" (Acts 24:15), and it would be unreasonable to assume that this phrase excludes the idea of a general resurrection.
There is a variant in Matthew 22:2-10, but the differences are such as to suggest that Matthew drew it from some source other than Luke's, and that Luke's version is closer to the original. Allegorical elements in Matthew's account pervade the whole: The "king" who gave a marriage feast for his son is God; the "servants" are prophets and apostles whom the Jews had mistreated and murdered; and the destruction of "the murderers" and the burning of "their city" reflect a Christian interpretation of the events of A.D. 70, the capture of Jerusalem by Titus and his Roman legions and its destruction by fire. Allegory has been imported into Luke's account also, but it is clearly evident only in vss. 21b-22, which Luke probably added in order that vs. 23 might be understood as a reference to the Gentile mission of the church, and in vs. 24, which appears to equate the banquet of the parable with Jesus' own messianic feast.
The original parable was probably addressed to the professedly religious among Jesus' Jewish contemporaries. It is not they, but those whom they despise as sinners and outcasts, who will be admitted to the kingdom of God.
15. An interjected beatitude (cf. 11:27) effects the transition in thought from a banquet in a Pharisee's house to a banquet in the kingdom of God.
16-17. The custom of summoning previously invited guests is said still to prevail in the East. Matthew's version reads "servants" in keeping with the status of "a king." It is unlikely that Luke changed a plural to a singular in order to see in his servant an allegorical reference to Christ.
18-21a. Luke's version is more detailed and graphic at this point than Matthew's. Three examples are given of those who had accepted the invitation but who now reject the summons. I must go out and see it: The idea may be that the purchase would not be complete until the property had been inspected. I pray you, have me excused translates a Latin idiom. I have married a wife: It is interesting to recall, in this connection, that ancient Jewish legislation excused a newly married man for one year from all military duties and other business (Deut. 24:5). I cannot come: The refusal sounds more impolite than the others, but probably the form has been varied only in the interests of style.
21b-22. Probably an allegorical addition. Go out quickly to the streets and lanes of the city: Since the Jews who prided themselves on their exemplary piety have rejected the summons, the invitation is extended first to those whom they considered to be sinners and outcasts. The four classes now to be invited are those that have already been enumerated in vs. 13. The words still there is room prepare the way for the third invitation that follows in the next verse. In Matthew's account only one supplementary invitation was issued and then "the wedding hall was filled with guests." No doubt the original parable ended with some such statement.
23. Go out to the highways and hedges, i.e., outside the city. In its present context an apparent reference to the Christian mission to non-Jews. And compel people to come in: Augustine appealed to these words in support of his argument that the Donatists should be compelled to return to the Catholic Church (On the Correction of the Donatists 24). Quite apart from the question whether such "proof text" use of scripture has any justification, the parable can hardly imply that one servant could make effective use of force to fulfill his commission.
24. Represented by the RSV as addressed by the householder to his servant. But you translates a Greek second person plural. Probably Luke thought of the verse as an interpretation of the parable given by Jesus to his fellow guests at the supper. Jesus himself will proceed as did the host in the illustration. He will cancel the original invitations to his messianic feast. The figure of speech is similar to that in 13:28-29, but in this instance Luke ascribes to Jesus a distinct messianic consciousness--my banquet.
25. Editorial introduction to a new discourse constructed by the evangelist from originally independent materials. The great multitudes that accompany Jesus on his journey are warned of the conditions of discipleship.
26. And does not hate: Matthew tones down the rigor of the saying, but does justice to its sense by reading: "He who loves father and mother more than me." Wife and brothers and sisters are not in Matthew's version, which preserves a parallelism characteristic of Semitic poetry. Perhaps Luke has been influenced in his wording of this saying by that in 18:29 (cf. Mark 10:29). The mention of wife recalls to mind the man who had been cited in vs. 20. And even his own life: Also missing from Matthew's version. Perhaps an amplification from some saying parallel to 9:24 (Mark 8:35). Matthew actually appends one to his account at this point (Matthew 10:39). He cannot be my disciple is probably more original than Matthew's unique "is not worthy of me."
27. A negative formulation of a saying already used in 9:23b (Mark 8:34b). A criminal carrying his cross on the way to execution must have been a familiar sight to many of Jesus' hearers, but there is no evidence that "to bear one's own cross" was a metaphor for voluntary martyrdom before Christians reflected on the death of Jesus. Certainly Luke and his readers were reminded by this saying of Christ's crucifixion and the actual experiences of Christian martyrs.
Twin parables whose original application, like that of many others in the tradition, is no longer recoverable. In Luke's context they issue a warning against any lighthearted assumption of the responsibilities of discipleship. See Epictetus Discourses III. 15. 1: "In every affair consider what precedes and follows, and then undertake it. Otherwise you will begin with spirit; but not having thought of the consequences, when some of them appear you will shamefully desist .... Consider first, man, what the matter is, and what your nature is able to bear."
28-30. A wise man considers whether his resources are sufficient to complete a building before he lays its foundation. Otherwise he becomes an object of ridicule. A tower: The Greek word can mean an expensive building as well as a simple watchtower
31-32. A wise king seeks the advice of counselors before engaging another king in battle. He will sue for peace rather than invite the disastrous consequences of defeat. And asks terms of peace: Codex Vaticanus has a Greek reading at this point that is a literal translation (used in the LXX) of a Hebrew idiom meaning "and submits."
33. Editorial. the parables have no apparent reference to the theme of renunciation (vss. 26-27) but Luke attempts to impose it. They are more than a warning to count the cost of discipleship; they are a summons to disciples to renounce all their possessions (cf. 12:33-34).
3. WORTHLESSNESS OF TASTELESS SALT (14:34-35=Matthew 5:13)
Disciples who do not sacrifice everything in Christ's service are as useless as salt that has lost its taste. In Matthew's context (in the Sermon on the Mount) the saying declares that the disciples are "the salt of the earth." They are to keep mankind from becoming insipid or corrupt and are to be on their guard lest they lose their distinctive characteristics. A brief variant is also preserved in Mark 9:50, where salt is said to be some undefined qualify that disciples are to possess to live at peace with one another.
34. Salt was a necessity that often was heavily taxed in ancient times. It may frequently have been sold in an adulterated form that lessened its seasoning value.
35. Tasteless salt has no immediate or future use as a fertilizer. Some interpreters accept a suggestion that for the land is a mistranslation of an Aramaic original that meant "for seasoning": "It is fit neither for seasoning nor for manure." He who has ears ... is a formula taken over in 8:8 from Mark 4:9.

There is a version in Matthew 18:12-14; but differences in detail, and the fact that the First Gospel does not reproduce the companion parable of the lost coin, suggest that the two accounts were not drawn from the same source. The brevity of Matthew's version may indicate that in respect to form it is more original, but his interpretation of the parable as teaching God's concern for those who are weak in faith--"Christ's little ones"--seems forced in comparison with Luke (vs. 7).
15:1-3. Editorial introduction to three parables on the theme of God's love for the sinner. Luke assumes that Jesus must have spoken them to Pharisees and scribes in defense of his ministry to tax collectors and sinners. If such a polemical interest is not original, they were probably words of comfort and assurance addressed by Jesus to those whom the religious elite among his Jewish contemporaries regarded as outside the pale of God's concern. "The virtues of repentance are gloriously praised in the Rabbinical literature, but this direct search for, and appeal to, the sinner, are new and moving notes of high import and significance. The good shepherd who searches for the lost sheep, and reclaims it and rejoices over it, is a new figure, which has never ceased to play its great part in the moral and religious development of the world" (Montefiore, Synoptic Gospels, II, 520-21).
4. A hundred sheep would constitute a large flock in the Palestine of Jesus' day. Nevertheless the loss of even one animal would be a serious matter. In the wilderness: Not sandy desert but uncultivated pasture land (cf. I Sam. 17:28). Matthew reads "on the hills."
5-6. Vss. 5b and 6 are vivid details that are missing from Matthew's version. Luke may have borrowed vs. 6 from vs. 9.
7. The shepherd's greater joy over the recovery of one sheep that had been lost than over the rest of the flock that had not been endangered formed part of the parable in Matthew's version (Matthew 18:13b). It is probable, therefore, that Luke has transformed the ending of the parable into this application of it. Did Jesus intend his story to stress God's concern for the sinner as much as God's joy at his repentance? In heaven: A circumlocution often used in late Jewish literature to avoid the use of God's name.
This makes the same point as the preceding parable and is given a similar application. The fact that this parable does not occur in Matthew has sometimes been used as an argument against its authenticity, but the gospel tradition makes it clear that Jesus often used parables in pairs. As in this instance, the first sometimes revolves about a man and the second about a woman (cf. 13:18-20; 17:34-35).
8-9. Ten silver coins: The Greek drachma, a coin roughly equivalent to the Roman denarius, had a silver content worth about sixteen cents, but was much more valuable than that in terms of purchasing power. A "double drachma" is mentioned in Matthew 17:24 as the annual head tax paid into the temple treasury by every adult male Jew. The money could represent the life savings of a poor woman. A lamp would be necessary for the search in a Palestinian house that was poorly provided with windows.
10. According to the thought of the time, a court of "angels of the presence" surrounded the throne of God.
The parable falls into two parts. The first (vss. 11-24) illustrates the joy with which God welcomes the repentant sinner. It is complete in itself, and teaches much the same truth as the parables of the lost sheep and the lost coin. The second (vss. 25-32) rebukes the criticism of this interpretation of the love and mercy of God that had been made by "righteous persons that need no repentance." Some interpreters have supposed this second part to be a later appendix. The elder son is said to represent either Pharisaism or Jewish Christianity. But no such direct allegory is apparent. The second part is just as parabolic in form as the first, and the whole is best regarded as a unity. The parable is left by Luke to speak for itself without any formal application.
11-12. The parable assumes that although the younger son requests and receives immediate possession of his share of property--according to Deut. 21:17 he would be entitled to one third--the father continues to enjoy a life interest in that portion assigned to the elder. Jesus ben Sira warns his readers against disposing of their property by gift:
To a son or a wife, to a brother or a friend,
Do not give power over yourself as long as you live,
And do not give your money to someone else,
So that you may not change your mind and have to ask for it
. . . . . . . . . . . . .
When the days of your life reach their end,
At the time of your death distribute your property.
(Ecclus. 33:19-23 Goodspeed.)
13. Gathered all he had, i.e., after he had converted his property into money. A far country: Jesus' hearers would think of such lands as Italy, North Africa, Egypt, or Babylonia. In loose living: The phrase translates a good Greek adverb but one that occurs nowhere else in the Greek Bible. It means either "recklessly" or "in dissolute pleasures." The elder brother understood it in the latter sense (vs. 30). A papyrus from Hermopolis in Egypt, written in the late first or early second century A.D., records the complaint of the parents of a young man that their son Castor had "squandered all his own property with others in extravagant living," and now wished to waste theirs also.
14-16. Having dissipated his resources, the young man was compelled in a time of famine to seek employment. Jesus' hearers would consider a swineherd's occupation the most degrading a Jew could accept. A Talmudic proverb declares: "Cursed is the man who tends swine, and the man who teaches his son Greek wisdom!" He soon came to envy the swine the food doled out to them. He himself was not allowed even such pitiful fare. Pods of the carob tree are frequently mentioned in rabbinical literature as fodder for domestic animals, but as food for men only in times of dire need. Filled his belly with (KJV; RSV mg.): The reading in Codex Alexandrinus, various O.L. versions, and the Sinaitic Syriac, as well as the bulk of the late Greek MSS.
17-20. When he came to himself:An idiom in Semitic languages as well as in Greek and Latin. In this instance it could be paraphrased: "When he realized how foolish he had been." A Talmudic proverb recalls the prodigal's predicament: "When a son [who has left home] has to walk barefooted [because of poverty], he remembers how well he had been treated in his father's house." I have sinned: There is a similar confession in a papyrus letter of a certain Antonius Longus to his mother, written in Fayûm in the second century A.D.: "I write to thee that I am naked. I beseech thee, mother, be reconciled to me. Furthermore, I know what I have brought upon myself. I have been chastened even as is meet. I know that I have sinned" (Adolf Deissmann, Light From the Ancient East, tr. L. R. M. Strachan [2nd ed.; New York: George H. Doran Co., 1927], p. 188). The prodigal hopes for mercy, but is unprepared for the generosity of a father's love.
21. The father interrupts the speech his son had carefully rehearsed. Treat me as one of your hired servants (RSV mg.) is regarded by most editors as an interpolation from vs. 19b, despite the fact that it is included in the text by codices Vaticanus, Sinaiticus, Bezae, and others.
22-23. The prodigal is clothed in finery, and his return is celebrated with feasting and merrymaking in the Oriental manner. The best robe was reserved for distinguished guests and special occasions.
24. Spiritually dead and lost, as in 9:60 and 19:10. The first part of the verse is repeated in vs. 32 as the conclusion to the whole parable.
25-28a. The elder son, coming in from his day's work in the field, inquires the reason for the festivities from one of the servants. He learns of his brother's return and refuses to enter the house. The Greek word translated by music may be the name of a specific wind instrument resembling the bagpipe, as it is in the LXX version of Dan. 3:5.
28b-30. His response to his father's urging that he join in the rejoicings is a bitter complaint that a life of virtue has been left without reward, while a life of dissipation and vice has been celebrated with a feast. This son of yours: A contemptuous repudiation of any fraternal relationship to the prodigal.
31. The father's reply to the first part of the complaint (vs. 29).
32. The reply to the second part of the complaint (vs. 30). It is the restoration of the prodigal to the family circle that is celebrated. A recapitulation (with the necessary changes) of vs. 24a. This your brother rebukes the unbrotherly phrase used by the elder son in vs. 30.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Luke Exeg.12:1 to 13:35

LukeExeg.12:1 to 13:35
Teaching from Q and L sources has been arranged in the form of a loose discourse, addressed by Jesus in the first instance to "his disciples," but also with occasional reference to "the multitude" in the background (cf. 6:17-7:1).
1. WARNING, ENCOURAGEMENT, AND ADVICE TO DISCIPLES (12:1-12; cf. Matthew 10:26b-33; 12:32; 10:19-20)
12:1. Editorial introduction. So many thousands: For a similar hyperbole see Acts 21:20. Beware, etc., is a saying that serves to connect the subsequent material with the denunciations of ch. 11. In Mark 8:15, part of a long section that Luke omits, there is a similar warning: "Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the leaven of Herod." Leaven in Jewish literature and in the N.T. is usually a metaphor for evil. In Matthew 16:6 it refers to the teaching of the Pharisees and the Sadducees.
2. A saying that declares in 8:17 and in Mark 4:22 that the meaning of parables is hid only temporarily; in Matthew 10:26b--part of the missionary instructions to the twelve--that the disciples are to proclaim in public the teaching of Jesus they had heard in private; and in this setting, that hypocrisy will be exposed.
3. A warning that it is useless for disciples to conceal their faith. Matthew's version is a direct exhortation to disciples to proclaim the message Jesus had given them. Therefore (KJV) is omitted without apparent justification by the editors of the RSV.
4-5. My friends: Used by Jesus of his disciples in John 15:14-15, but only here in the Synoptic tradition. Martyrdom holds no terrors; only God's judgment is to be feared. Hell: Gehenna (!nh yg) means "valley of Hinnom," a ravine to the west and south of Jerusalem. It is occasionally referred to in the O.T. as the site at which certain Israelites during the monarchy worshiped Molech by making their children "pass through the fire." Josiah polluted the valley ("with the bones of men") to put a stop to this pagan cult (II Kings 23:10-14), but it was revived under Jehoiachin; and Jeremiah prophesied that one day the valley would be known as the "valley of slaughter" (Jer. 7:30-32). A medieval Jewish commentator on the Psalms (Kimchi, ca. A.D. 1200) says that Gehenna was used as a garbage dump for Jerusalem and that a fire burned there constantly. Many modern scholars accept this statement without question, but there is no early evidence for fires in the valley except those connected with the Molech cult. In late Jewish literature (e.g., Enoch 27:2) Gehenna became the popular name for the place of future punishment. In the N.T. it is carefully distinguished from Hades (the O.T. Sheol). The souls of the wicked go to Hades after death, but both souls and bodies (cf. Matthew 10:28) are cast into Gehenna after the resurrection and final judgment. Gehenna occurs frequently in Matthew and Mark, but only here in Luke-Acts.
6-7. Among the great sayings in the gospel tradition on the infinite worth of the individual in the sight of God. The disciples can entrust themselves confidently to God's loving care, for it embraces even sparrows, among the cheapest articles sold for food on the market. Two pennies: The maximum price for ten sparrows was set at the equivalent of seven cents by an edict of the emperor Diocletian (late third century A.D.).
8-9. A promise and a threat. A variant of the latter is preserved separately in Mark 8:38 (Luke 9:26). Son of man: Matthew reads "I." Some scholars hold that the title throughout the Gospels is a christological designation read into the tradition by the early church. In this passage Son of man appears in the role of advocate for the faithful, not as judge. If the term is primitive, Jesus may mean by it someone other than himself. More probably he uses it to distinguish between himself as he is and as he will be. Matthew interprets before the angels of God as "before my Father who is in heaven."
10. In this context blasphemy against the Holy Spirit is probably to be understood in the light of vs. 12. The unbeliever who speaks against Christ will be forgiven, but not the believer who refuses to confess his faith when supernaturally prompted to do so. A variant of the saying in Mark 3:28-29, which is perhaps more primitive. Matthew 12:31-32 is a conflation of both. If Son of man in Luke's version originally meant "a man" (see on 5:24a; 6:5), the main difference between Mark and Q disappears. The contrast, then, is between blasphemy against man and blasphemy against the Holy Spirit.
11-12. A variant in Mark 13:11 (Luke 21:14-15). Matthew 10:19-20 is a conflation of Mark and Q. Christians on trial for their faith before Jewish courts and Gentile tribunals are to trust to divine inspiration for their defense. No such legal persecution was experienced by Jesus' followers during his lifetime. The saying clearly reflects the experience of the early church.
13-14. One of the multitude ...: A formula by which this special tradition is fitted into discourse material taken largely from Q. Rabbis were experts on the civil regulations of the law as well as on its religious, ethical, cultic, and criminal ordinances. Jesus' refusal to arbitrate in the dispute is phrased in words that are reminiscent of the Israelite's question to Moses: "Who made you a prince and a judge over us?" (Exod. 2:14.)
15. Prepares the way for the parable that follows and anticipates its moral. Goodspeed's paraphrase: "A man's life does not belong to him, no matter how rich he is."
An "example story." The folly of a life devoted to the accumulation of material riches. A passage in Ecclus. 11:18-19 (Goodspeed) teaches a similar lesson:
One man grows rich by carefulness and greed,
And this will be his reward:
When he says, "Now I can rest,
And enjoy my goods,"
He does not know when the time will come
When he will die and leave them to others.
16-19. The monologue of a wealthy farmer who thinks only in terms of larger granaries and a life of ease. Eat, drink, be merry, cf. Eccl. 8:15; Tob. 7:10.
20. Material riches offer a man no protection against the uncertainty of life, and pass into the possession of others when he dies.
21. This points the obvious moral of the story. Possibly an addition by Luke to prepare the way for the section that follows. Rich toward God: No doubt Luke understands this in the light of vs. 33.
4. THE PROVIDENCE OF GOD (12:22-31=Matthew 6:25-33)
Sayings that have no eschatological motivation and that in this respect are comparable to such Jewish wisdom teaching as is to be found in Proverbs, Ecclesiasticus, Pirke Aboth, and parts of the Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs. Matthew incorporated this material in the Sermon on the Mount.
Jesus does not qualify his admonitions to complete and utter trust in God's providence. The interpreter must seek elsewhere in the biblical record for supplementary counsel to industry and forethought, if he deems such is wise and necessary. He may find justification for so doing in the fact that it is the attitude of anxiety that Jesus deprecates, not the attempt to provide for future needs.
22a. Editorial introduction.
22b-23. Therefore: The example of the rich fool illustrates the absurdity of anxiety about food and clothing. In Matthew, because worry is evidence of servitude to mammon. Take no thought for your life (KJV) was more correctly rendered by Tyndale "be not careful," i.e., "full of care." The revised versions follow the lead of this earlier English translation: do not be anxious about your life.
24. Worry shows lack of trust in God. The ravens, "the birds of the heaven" in Matthew. "The birds are an example not of idleness but of freedom from anxiety" (A. H. McNeile, The Gospel According to Matthew [London: Macmillan & Co., 1915], p. 87).
25-26. Worry serves no useful purpose. The Greek noun translated stature (KJV) can also mean span of life (RSV); and the latter translation is preferred. To add a cubit--approximately twenty inches--to one's height would scarcely be described as a trifling thing (vs. 26). Goodspeed: "Which of you with all his worry can add a single hour to his life?"
27-28. God lavishes his care on even the lowest forms of life. His children need have no fear that he will overlook their needs. Lilies: Still used by Arabs as a general term for wild flowers. The reading in the RSV mg., they neither spin nor weave, has the support of Codex Bezae, the early Syriac translations, and some other allies, and is preferred by several modern editors on the ground that the more common reading is a scribal harmonization of Luke's text with Matthew's. But they toil not, they spin not (KJV)--i.e., they perform neither man's nor woman's labor--has much more impressive MS attestation, and is also the reading of the Chester Beatty Gospel Papyrus (p45). Dried grass--which would include 'the "lilies" referred to in vs. 27--could be used as fuel.
29-30. Worry about material things is characteristic of pagans. "The knowledge that these things come from the Father as His gifts to His children, that they come not capriciously but out of His perfect knowledge of man's needs and His perfect love for His children, this is the true antidote to anxiety and fear" (Major, Manson, and Wright, The Mission and Message of Jesus [New York: E. P. Dutton & Co., 1938], p. 405).
31. His kingdom (RSV) has the support of all early MSS except the Chester Beatty Gospel Papyrus (p45). Matthew's version adds "and his righteousness." Origen (On Prayer 2) quotes a similar saying: "Ask ye for the greater things, and the small shall be added unto you: and ask for the heavenly things, and the earthly shall be added unto you" (James, Apocryphal N.T., p. 35).
5. HEAVENLY TREASURE (12:32-34=Matthew 6:19-21)
Johannes Weiss, Albert Schweitzer, and their followers undertook to explain all Jesus' ethical teaching in the light of his belief in the imminence of the kingdom of God. Jesus meant his precepts to be taken literally and fulfilled literally, but they were a practicable ethic only on the assumption that the coming age would supersede the present in a matter of days or months. When the church abandoned the apocalyptic doctrine of the two ages, it was forced to qualify and to reinterpret Jesus' ethical teaching in terms of a philosophy of history that Jesus himself had not shared.
There are difficulties with this theory of "consistent eschatology." For one thing, much of Jesus' teaching shows no trace of eschatological presuppositions. Jesus often teaches in the Jewish "wisdom" tradition. For another, we have seen evidence that Jesus did not always think of the kingdom of God as wholly in the future. In some measure God's rule was already a fact. The kingdom was already breaking in upon history, although its full manifestation will be an event of the last days.
In the passage under consideration, Jesus' counsel to his followers to dispose of material possessions and to provide themselves with "a treasure in the heavens" is subordinated to the expectation of the kingdom but is not necessarily dependent on it. The imminence of death was the motive for unworldliness in vss. 16-21 and may also have been the underlying thought of these sayings in their original context. Jesus frequently drew attention to the corrupting influence of wealth but it must also be remembered that he had people of means among his followers and accepted their support (8:3).
32. An assurance peculiar to Luke. Whether or not it stood in Q must remain an open question. The sayings that follow are subordinated to it. Early Christians would interpret little flock as a reference to the church. The kingdom is here an eschaton--a future gift of God to the faithful.
33. The fact that the form of the saying in Matthew 6:19-20 preserves the parallelism of Semitic poetry supports the impression that it is more original. Sell your possessions, and give alms: A command for Matthew's prohibition--"Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth." Distributing to the poor was one recognized way of obtaining treasure in the heavens (cf. 18:22=Mark 10:21). No moth destroys: Rugs and tapestries would be among the valuable possessions of Orientals.
34. This verse differs from Matthew's version only by slight variations in word order and by reading your instead of "thy" (ASV; KJV does not follow the Greek text here).
A passage peculiar to Luke but having certain features in common with the parables of the doorkeeper (Mark 13:33-37) and of the wise and the foolish virgins (Matthew 25:11). The waiting servants appear to represent the early church; the absent master, the risen Christ; and the master's return, the Parousia or Second Coming. The allegory warns Christians to be on the watch for Christ's return, even though it may be long delayed (vs. 38). Certain genuine fragments of Jesus' teaching no doubt went into its construction (e.g., vs. 35). Allegory was a teaching device rarely employed by the rabbis and probably never used by Jesus, but one that soon became popular in Christian circles.
35. A metaphorical summons to preparedness. Let your loins be girded: The long Oriental robe would interfere with freedom of movement if it were not caught up about the waist (cf. Exod. 12:11).
36. Perhaps once a true similitude, but the allegorical interpretation now lies close at hand. No doubt Luke and his readers equated the marriage feast with Christ's sojourn in heaven after the Resurrection, and when he comes and knocks with his anticipated return as Son of man. For the picture of Christ knocking at the door cf. Rev. 3:20. In Matthew 25:11 it is the foolish virgins who knock.
37. A beatitude on watchfulness is followed by a saying that is indubitably allegorical. In ordinary life it is the servants who wait on their master (17:7-8). The master of this allegory is he who said: "I am among you as one who serves" (22:27). For other references to the new age under the imagery of a feast see 13:29; 22:30; Rev. 19:9.
38. A warning that the Parousia may be delayed. In Mark 13:35 the night is divided after the Roman custom into four watches. According to Jewish reckoning, the second watch was from 10 P.M. to 2 A.M., and the third from 2 A.M. to 6 A.M.
7. PARABLE OF THE HOUSEHOLDER AND THE THIEF (12:39-40=Matthew 24:43-44)
39-40. These verses continue to stress the importance of watchfulness, but without the employment of allegory. Unlike the unwary householder, whom the thief caught by surprise, the faithful must be prepared for the coming of the Son of man, even though they do not know the hour (cf. I Thess. 5:2; II Pet. 3:10; Rev. 3:3).
Originally a parable that warned of the sudden advent of the kingdom. Some interpreters believe it was directed against the priestly aristocracy. Luke understands it as an allegorical caution to those in his day who constituted the ministry of the church. The servants, the master, and the return are cryptic terms for ecclesiastical officials, the risen Christ, and the Second Advent.
41-42a.Editorial insertion by Luke into Q matter (Matthew 24:43-51) to suggest that the following parable bears particularly on the responsibility of church officials. Peter is often made the spokesman of the disciples in the gospel tradition. This parable: probably Luke has vss. 35-38 in mind as well as vss. 39-40.
42b. Luke has substituted steward for "servant" (cf. Matthew's version and also vss. 43, 45, 46) in order to emphasize the great responsibility held in trust. Parables frequently begin with a question.
43-44. The faithful and wise servant will be rewarded by promotion from the office of overslave to that of estate manager.
45-46. The tyrannical and drunken servant, who takes advantage of his temporary authority, will be surprised by his master's unexpected return and will be cut ... in sunder (KJV). Punish (RSV) attenuates the Greek verb but makes it possible to avoid understanding unfaithful (RSV) allegorically. The reference could be to "unfaithful servants." Unbelievers (KJV) would rather mean those who are punished by being committed to hell.
Appended by Luke to the parable to underline his interpretation of its message: a warning to leaders of the church that they in particular are to be ready for the advent of the Son of man.
47-48a. Note Amos 3:2. Make ready or adapts an independent saying to its present context. Probably Luke thought of the instructed and uninstructed servants as allegorical references respectively to the clergy and to the rank and file of the church. The responsibilities of Christian laymen were less onerous than those of their leaders, and their failure to be on the alert would be less severely penalized.
48b. Both statements express the same idea--synonymous parallelism. The force of the comparative is not to be pressed, for the more is probably only a variation in the interests of style for much. The saying now serves to generalize the principle of vs. 47, but no doubt once circulated independently.
49. Fire: Sometimes interpreted as the fire of the Day of Judgment(3:16-17), as the fire of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:3), or as the purifying fire of repentance that will prepare the way for the Kingdom of God. In the light of vss.51-53 it is evident that Luke thinks of it as the fire of conflict that will compel men to align themselves for or against the Messiah. Vs. 49b (like 50b) is without doubt an exclamation and is correctly punctuated in RSV.
50. This verse asserts that Jesus' mission cannot be accomplished except by his death--baptism is also used in this sense in Mark 10:38-39. Most of the passages that represent Jesus as anticipating his death are clearly "predictions after the event." This saying may also belong in that category, but there is nothing in it that compels the interpreter to deny its authenticity. If Jesus meditated on the fate of John the Baptist; if he foresaw the consequences of the growing opposition to his own ministry; if he discovered any clue to his own mission in the suffering servant passages in the book of Isaiah--if his thoughts moved along any or all of these lines, he may have been driven to anticipate his death and to reflect on its significance. But purely historical exegesis can give us no final answer to such questions.
11. MESSIANIC DIVISIONS (12:51-53=Matthew 10:34-36)
51-53. Probably an expansion of sayings that stood in Q. Matthew's version is modeled more closely on Mic. 7:6 and represents the conflict more explicitly as a revolt of the younger against the older generation. The passage ascribes a well-defined messianic consciousness to Jesus, and declares that he anticipated the divisions that would arise within families over the issue of adherence to Christ. On both counts its authenticity is open to dispute. Three against two and two against three: The father and the mother on one side, and the daughter, the son, and the son's wife on the other.
54-56. A variant of this passage has been interpolated in many MSS to constitute Matthew 16:2b-3 but is not in the text of that Gospel in codices Vaticanus and Sinaiticus or in the Old Syriac versions. In it the signs by which "Pharisees and Sadducees" are said to prognosticate the weather are a red sky in the evening and a red sky in the morning. A cloud rising in the west: Winds from the Mediterranean were laden with moisture (cf. I Kings 18:44). The south wind blew in over arid and scorching plains. You hypocrites! was perhaps introduced into the saying because it was a frequent word of abuse. Some believe it was used because those who were addressed only pretended that they had no ability to draw obvious conclusions, but this interpretation is remote. Luke and his readers would understand that Jesus and his message were the signs by which the multitudes ought to have interpreted the present time. Men ought to have known that the age of God's rule was at hand--or had already begun--and to have governed themselves accordingly. It is conceivable that that was also what Jesus had in mind. The kingdom of God was breaking in upon history, but men who were weatherwise remained spiritually insensitive.
13. WISDOM OF RECONCILIATION (12:57-59=Matthew 5:25-26)
Usually interpreted as a parable. As the defendant in a lawsuit for the recovery of a debt is well advised to reach an agreement with his "accuser" before the case is brought to court, so a man ought to make an effort to settle with anyone with whom he has differences before the Day of Judgment. No doubt Luke understood it after this fashion. It is an illustration of how men ought to act in "the present time." Originally it may have been a bit of wisdom teaching without eschatological reference: Settle your disputes out of court! Matthew employs it in the Sermon on the Mount to illustrate the application in a concrete instance of Jesus' teaching forbidding anger.
57. Transition to new material. "You should know what to do without any instruction from me."
58. The singular number (cf. KJV) is evidence that the matter in this verse had no original connection with what precedes it. Officer: translates a Greek word that is found in the papyri for a collector of revenue.
59. Copper (lepto6n for the Hebrew hfwrp): The smallest coin in circulation. Luke avoids the Latinism (kodra6nthv from the Latin quadrans) that Matthew uses ("penny" [RSV], worth about two "coppers").

Disasters that overwhelm individuals do not prove that such people are worse sinners than others. But they ought to serve as a warning both to Galileans and Judeans that only timely repentance can avert destruction at the Day of Judgment.
13:1. Goodspeed translates (in accordance with Lukan [Acts 10:21; 12:20; etc.] and classical usage): "some people came up." At that very time: An editorial note that makes the following paragraph part of the more inclusive discourse. The incident must have taken place in the environs of the temple in Jerusalem. Pilate had ordered some Galileans slain while they were in the act of slaughtering their sacrifices, perhaps because he suspected them of being insurrectionaries. Josephus makes no mention of this atrocity, although he does refer to comparable acts of violence against Jews in Jerusalem (Antiquities XVIII. 3. 2) and Samaritans on Mount Gerizim (ibid., XVIII. 4. 1). The latter incident was responsible for the procurator's recall in A.D. 36. Were Jesus' informants enemies who were hoping he might make some seditious utterance? Or Jewish patriots who wished to rouse him to lead a revolt against Rome? Or simply purveyors of news? The story itself provides no answer to such questions.
2-3. All the other Galileans: A translation according to the sense of the Greek. Jesus repudiated the popular theory that suffering was the consequence of sin, but did not concern himself in this instance with any other answer to the problem. He interpreted the fate that had befallen the Galileans only as a warning to his hearers to heed the call to repentance before it would be too late.
4-5. A fatal accident that had involved Judeans ought to serve a similar purpose. The tower in Siloam was a part of the fortifications of Jerusalem near an important spring and reservoir.
Employed by Luke as a conclusion to the discourse that had begun with 12:2. Reiterates the theme of impending judgment. Israel has only a short period left for repentance.
The parable may be the ultimate source of Mark's story about the cursing of the fig tree (Mark 11:12-14). There has possibly been a confusion in the Marcan stream of tradition between what Jesus said and what Jesus did. Luke may have suspected some such connection between the parable and the story, for he omits the latter at the point where he might otherwise have used it (19:44).
A parable in the Story of Ahikar (Syriac Version 8:35) exhibits some resemblances to the one under discussion: "My son, thou hast been to me like that palm-tree that stood by a river, and cast all its fruit into the river, and when its lord came to cut it down, it said to him, 'Let me alone this year, and I will bring thee forth carobs.' And its lord said unto it, 'Thou hast not been industrious in what is thine own, and how wilt thou be industrious in what is not thine own?'" (Tr. J. Rendell Harris, in R. H. Charles, The Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha of the Old Testament [Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1913], II, 775.)
6. A vineyard in Palestine contained fruit trees as well as vines. Goodspeed: "a garden."
7. The details of the parable are not to be allegorized. "Three" is a recurring number in folk tales, and three years has no reference to the length of Jesus' ministry. The owner of the orchard had given the fig tree ample opportunity to demonstrate its fruitfulness. It had failed to do so, and must now be felled (cf. 3:9). Use up the ground, or "exhaust the soil."
8-9. The gardener urges the owner to give the tree another year of grace. Well and good: An apodosis that is unexpressed in the Greek text (a regular feature of the Semitic idiom, but also not uncommon in Greek).
Closely related in structure and content to 6:6-11 (Mark 3:1-6) and 14:1-6. The nucleus in each instance is a saying that no doubt had proved useful to the church in its controversy with the synagogue over the matter of sabbath observance, and in each instance the miracle story appears to have been woven around the saying to provide it with a narrative setting. The argument in this variant is repeated in 14:2-6 (cf. Matthew 12:11-12a): If it is right to care for domestic animals on the sabbath, it is right to relieve human distress.
10. A synagogue scene as in 6:6.
11-13. A spirit of infirmity, a spirit that caused weakness. Possibly substituted by Luke for an original "infirmity," for the rest of the story assumes a healing rather than an exorcism (cf. 6:10; 14:4).
14. The ruler of the synagogue is represented as avoiding a direct criticism of Jesus. He addresses himself to the congregation by recalling the words of Deut. 5:13.
15. Hypocrites: The plural may be an indication that the saying was originally independent of its present context. Another explanation: Jesus assumes that the people agree with the ruler and includes them in his rebuke. Hypocrite is probably a scribal correction, but one that must have been made as early as the Chester Beatty Gospel Papyrus (p45).
16. The "loosing" of the woman from her infirmity--ascribed in accordance with the thought of the day to the activities of Satan--is compared to the "loosing" of an ox or an ass from its manger. Jews would not have admitted that the healing of a woman who had been ill for eighteen years was an emergency great enough to justify the infringement of sabbath legislation, but the early church saw a logic in the analogy, and the gospel evidence makes it clear that Jesus put human need above ritual requirements (see on 6:1-5).
17. Luke's concluding observation: Jesus had discomfited all his adversaries in sabbath controversy, and all the people rejoiced at his miracles of healing, the glorious things that were done by him.
2. PARABLE OF THE MUSTARD SEED (13:18-19=Matthew 13:31-32)
A variant occurs in Mark 4:30-32. It had apparently been incorporated into a collection that Mark had used as a source. Luke omits the Marcan version at the point where he might have used it (following 8:18) and now employs the Q form. Matthew conflated Mark and Q and preserved the Marcan order.
The mustard plant was characterized by its rapid growth, and the whole process of growth was a mystery to the ancients. Therefore there are those who insist that the point of the parable is that the new age of God's rule will come suddenly and mysteriously. But this is to do violence to the passage in the interests of a hypothesis. The parable turns on the contrast between small beginnings and great results. Although the full realization of God's rule on earth as it is in heaven awaits the future, in some measure it is already manifest within the historical order.
18. He said therefore is obviously editorial. Both Mark and Luke (Q) introduce the parable with a double question although they differ in the wording of it. Matthew substitutes a statement.
19. The smallness of a mustard seed was proverbial (cf. 17:6; Matthew 17:20) but it is the Marcan version (followed by Matthew in this detail) that draws specific attention to the fact. The mustard was not a garden plant in Galilee and therefore Matthew substitutes "field." It is said to grow to heights of ten or twelve feet. On several occasions in the O.T. (Ezek. 17:22-23; 31:1-6; Dan. 4:10-12, 20-22) a kingdom is depicted as a tree, and the extension of its power as the nesting of birds in its branches. It is possible that the last clause is actually a quotation from one or other of these passages, and that it was added to the parable to give it a touch of allegory: the church will gather in even Gentile peoples!
3. PARABLE OF THE LEAVEN (13:20-21=Matthew 13:33)
20-21. The introduction in Matthew is a statement, and in Luke a rhetorical question. The parable was not in the collection used by Mark, but stood in Q as a companion to that of the mustard seed. No doubt Luke and his readers would interpret it as a prophecy of the spread of the gospel and the growth of the church. In its original application it probably illustrated the same truth as its twin: God is already asserting his sovereignty, and the mighty consequences of that fact will shortly be evident. Leaven: Elsewhere in the N.T. (12:1; Matthew 16:6, 11; Mark 8:15; I Cor. 5:6-8; Gal. 5:9) a symbol for evil, as often also in Jewish literature. Women did all the grinding as well as all the baking in the East. Three measures: A little over a bushel, which would be an enormous quantity of flour for a single baking. Perhaps the large amount was mentioned to emphasize the mighty effects of God's rule. But cf. Gen. 18:6, where Sarah is said to have used "three measures of fine meal" in preparing cakes for three guests.
1. ON ADMISSION TO THE KINGDOM OF GOD (13:22-30; cf. Matthew 7:13-14, 22-23; 8:11-12; 20:16)
Points of similarity with material in Matthew indicate the use of a common source, but both evangelists have dealt freely with it.
22. An editorial reminder to the reader that Jesus was still journeying toward Jerusalem.
23. An introduction without any parallel in Matthew and apparently supplied by the evangelist. The question of the number of the elect was frequently debated in late Jewish literature. The author of II Esdras (late first century A.D.) gives a pessimistic answer: "The Most High made this world for the sake of many, but the world to come, for the sake of few ...; many have been created, but few will be saved" (II Esdras 8:1-3 Goodspeed).
24. Entrance to the kingdom of God is difficult. The metaphor of the narrow door is combined in Matthew with that of "the hard way," and both are contrasted with the wide gate and the easy way that lead to destruction.
25. Only a short time is left for those who wish to be admitted. Soon the householder will have shut the door and the latecomers will knock in vain. The words of the house holder appear to be a reminiscence of those of the bridegroom in the parable of the wise and the foolish maidens (Matthew 25:11b-12).
26. Many of Jesus' Jewish contemporaries will seek admission by claiming to have been his acquaintances. In the Matthaean parallel the applicants for admission will be false teachers who will claim to have been Jesus' ministers.
27. In both Matthew and Luke the words with which the unworthy are rejected are enforced by a quotation from Ps. 6:8a.
28-29. A vivid way of describing the dismay of the Jews who are excluded at the sight of the patriarchs and the prophets seated at the banquet table with non-Jews. The idea of a messianic feast that would inaugurate the new age was a familiar one in late Jewish apocalyptic. Vs. 29 precedes vs. 28 in the Matthaean version, which is inserted into the story of the healing of the centurion's slave.
30. A saying preserved both in Mark 10:31 (Matthew 19:30) and in Q (Matthew 20:16). Only Luke applies it to Gentiles and Jews.
31. At that very hour--the word day (KJV) has inferior MS attestation--an editorial prefix. It is not clear that Luke thinks of Jesus' itinerary at this time as wholly within Samaritan territory (see above, p. 181). This incident at any rate must have taken place either in Galilee or Perea, Herod's territories. Probably it was completely undated in Luke's source. It has often been associated with the narrative in Mark 6:14-16 (Luke 9:7-9), but there is no suggestion in this latter passage that Herod wished to have Jesus killed. Probably these Pharisees were friendly men who wished to warn Jesus of the danger in which he stood. It is unnecessary to think of them as commissioned by the Galilean tetrarch to deliver an expulsion order.
32-33. Jews as well as Greeks could use fox as a metaphor for a cunning man, but it occurs more often in rabbinical literature to mean an unimportant individual--as a term of contempt. The main meaning of Jesus' words is clear: He will not interrupt his ministry because of any fear of Herod. But it has become increasingly evident that his work may lead to his death, and he intends to leave Galilee after a brief interval and meet it as a prophet in Jerusalemú And the third day I shall be perfected is such a specific prediction of the Crucifixion and Resurrection that it was probably added to an earlier form of the saying after the event, and the repetition of to-day and to-morrow might then have been considered necessary. All serious exegetical difficulties would disappear if the saying originally was as follows: "Go and tell that fox, 'Behold, I cast out demons and perform cures today and tomorrowú Nevertheless I must go on my way the day following ...'"(Julius Wellhausen, Das Evangelium Lucae [Berlin: Georg Reimer, 1904], pp. 75-76).
3. LAMENT OVER JERUSALEM (13:34-35=Matthew 23:37-39)
Associated by Luke with the preceding saying only because of the recurrence of "Jerusalem." If Matthew has preserved the connection as it was in Q, these verses followed the material that is now in Luke 11:49-51, part of which appears to be a quotation from a lost book about "the Wisdom of God." It has been suggested that these sayings also were originally those of the divine "Wisdom," who had called men to herself in vain, and who abandons her fruitless task until the advent of the Messiah. If Jesus spoke such words of poignant melancholy, we must assume--with the Gospel of John--an extended ministry in Jerusalem, of which the Synoptic Gospels have preserved no record.
34-35a. To you: Found only in Codex Bezae and a few allies (most MSS read "to her"), but justified in English in view of the Semitic preference for the third person in attributive and relative clauses dependent on a vocative. The metaphor of a bird and her young to describe God's relationship to his people occurs occasionally in the O.T. (Deut. 32:11-12; Ps. 36:7; Isa. 31:5) and frequently in rabbinical literature. Your house is often interpreted as a reference to the temple, but in the O.T. and in other Jewish literature the temple is almost invariably "God's house." Here probably the city--or possibly the nation. God has withdrawn his protection.
35b. A prediction that the inhabitants of Jerusalem will not see the speaker again until they acknowledge the advent of the Messiah. By locating the whole section during Jesus' last days in Jerusalem, Matthew interprets these words as a prediction of Jesus' return as glorified Son of man. It is just conceivable that Luke understood them as a prediction of the triumphal entry as described in 19:37-38, but in the latter account it is Jesus' disciples who acclaim him. In either case, if the preceding sayings are to be understood as utterances of Jesus, this last is almost certainly a Christian addition.