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Bible Commentaries

Cambridge Greek Testament for Schools and Colleges

Luke 11



Other Authors
Verse 1

1. καὶ ἐγένετο ἐν τῷ εἶναι αὐτὸν ἐν τόπῳ τινὶ προσευχόμενον. The better order is ‘as he was in a certain place, praying.’ The extreme vagueness of these expressions shews that St Luke did not possess a more definite note of place or of time; but if we carefully compare the parallel passages of Matthew 12:22-50; Matthew 15:1-20; Mark 3:22-35, it becomes probable that this and the next chapter are entirely occupied with the incidents and teachings of one great day of open and decisive rupture with the Pharisees shortly before our Lord ceased to work in Galilee, and that they do not belong to the period of the journey through Peraea. This great day of conflict was marked [1] by the prayer of Jesus and His teaching the disciples what and how to pray; [2] by the healing of the dumb demoniac; [3] by the invitation to the Pharisee’s house, the deadly dispute which the Pharisees there originated, and the terrible denunciation consequently evoked; [4] by the sudden gathering of a multitude, and the discourses and incidents of chapter 12. For further details and elucidations I must refer to the Life of Christ.

προσευχόμενον. Probably at early dawn, and in the standing attitude adopted by Orientals.

καθὼς καὶ Ἰωάννης ἐδίδαξεν τοὺς μαθητὰς αὐτοῦ. The form of prayer taught by St John has perished. Terrena caelestibus cedunt, Tert.: John 3:30. It was common for Jewish Rabbis to deliver such forms to their disciples, and a comparison of them (e.g. of “the 18 Benedictions”) with the Lord’s Prayer is deeply instructive.

Verses 1-13


Verses 1-54

CHAPS. Luke 9:51 to Luke 18:31

This section forms a great episode in St Luke, which may be called the departure for the final conflict, and is identical with the journey (probably to the Feast of the Dedication, John 10:22) which is partially touched upon in Matthew 18:1 to Matthew 20:16 and Mark 10:1-31. It contains many incidents recorded by this Evangelist alone, and though the recorded identifications of time and place are vague, yet they all point (Luke 9:51, Luke 13:22, Luke 17:11, Luke 10:38) to a slow, solemn, and public progress from Galilee to Jerusalem, of which the events themselves are often grouped by subjective considerations. So little certain is the order of the separate incidents, that one writer (Rev. W. Stewart) has made an ingenious attempt to shew that it is determined by the alphabetic arrangement of the leading Greek verbs (ἀγαπᾶν, Luke 10:25-42; αἰτεῖν, Luke 11:1-5; Luke 11:8-13, &c.). Canon Westcott arranges the order thus: The Rejection of the Jews foreshewn; Preparation, Luke 9:43 to Luke 11:13; Lessons of Warning, Luke 11:14 to Luke 13:9; Lessons of Progress, Luke 13:10 to Luke 14:24; Lessons of Discipleship, Luke 14:25 to Luke 17:10; the Coming End, Luke 17:10 to Luke 18:30.

The order of events after ‘the Galilaean spring’ of our Lord’s ministry on the plain of Gennesareth seems to have been this: After the period of flight among the heathen or in countries which were only semi-Jewish, of which almost the sole recorded incident is the healing of the daughter of the Syrophoenician woman (Matthew 15:21-28) He returned to Peraea and fed the four thousand. He then sailed back to Gennesareth, but left it in deep sorrow on being met by the Pharisees with insolent demands for a sign from heaven. Turning His back once more on Galilee, He again travelled northwards; healed a blind man at Bethsaida Julias; received St Peter’s great confession on the way to Caesarea Philippi; was transfigured; healed the demoniac boy; rebuked the ambition of the disciples by the example of the little child; returned for a brief rest in Capernaum, during which occurred the incident of the Temple Tax; then journeyed to the Feast of Tabernacles, in the course of which journey occurred the incidents so fully narrated by St John (John 7:1 to John 10:21). The events and teachings in this great section of St Luke seem to belong mainly, if not entirely, to the two months between the hasty return of Jesus to Galilee and His arrival in Jerusalem, two months afterwards, at the Feast of Dedication;—a period respecting which St Luke must have had access to special sources of information.

For fuller discussion of the question I must refer to my Life of Christ, II. 89–150.

Verse 2

2. ὅταν προσεύχησθε, λέγετε, Πάτερ. ‘The Lord’s Prayer’ had already been enshrined in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 6:9-13), but it was now more formally delivered as a model. Various parallels for the different petitions of the Lord’s Prayer have been adduced from the Talmud, nor would there be anything strange in our Lord thus stamping with His sanction whatever was holiest in the petitions which His countrymen had learnt from the Spirit of God. But note that [1] the parallels are only to some of the clauses (e.g. not to the fourth and fifth); [2] they are most distant and imperfect; [3] there can be no certainty as to their priority, since even the earliest portion of the Talmud (the Mishna) was not committed to writing till the second century after Christ; [4] they are nowhere blended into one incomparable petition. The transcendent beauty and value of the lessons in the Lord’s Prayer arise from (i) the tone of holy confidence:—it teaches us to approach God as our Father (Romans 8:15), in love as well as holy fear; (ii) its absolute unselfishness:—it is offered in the plural, not for ourselves only, but for all the brotherhood of man; (iii) its entire spirituality: of its seven petitions, one only is for any earthly boon, and that only for the simplest; (iv) its brevity and absence of all vain repetitions (Ecclesiastes 5:2); (v) its simplicity, which requires not learning, but only holiness and sincerity for its universal comprehension. For these reasons the Fathers called it, ‘the Epitome of the Gospel’ and ‘the pearl of prayers.’

πάτερ. There is no prayer so addressed in the O.T. and in Isaiah 63:16 the application of the title is general, not individual.

[ἡμῶν ὁ ἐν τοῖς οὐρανοῖς.], Psalms 11:4. This clause, as well as “Thy will be done, as in heaven, so also upon the earth,” and “but deliver us from the evil,” are wanting in some MSS., and may be additions from the text of St Matthew. If so, the prayer would stand thus: O Father! Hallowed be Thy name. Thy kingdom come. Give us day by day our daily bread. And forgive us our sins for we also forgive every one that is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation. The variations shew (as Meyer says) that the prayer was not slavishly used as a formula by the Apostolic Church; but rather as a model. Perhaps St Luke followed a shorter and earlier oral tradition.

ἁγιασθήτω τὸ ὄνομά σου. i.e. sanctified, treated as Holy. “Holy, Holy, Holy” is the worship of the Seraphim (Isaiah 6:3). The ‘name’ of God is used for all the attributes of His Being.

ἐλθάτω ἡ βασιλεία σου. In Hellenistic Greek by a false analogy with the first aorist, we find such forms as ἐλθάτω, ἔλθατε, Esther 5:4 (LXX[240]). Proverbs 9:5. There seems to have been an early gloss, or reading, “Thy Holy Spirit come upon us, and purify us” (mentioned by St Gregory of Nazianzus).

[γενηθήτω τὸ θέλημά σου.] This was the one rule of the life of Christ, John 5:30; John 6:38.

[ὡς ἐν οὐρανῷ.] “Bless the Lord, ye his angels, that excel in strength, that do his commandments, hearkening unto the voice of his word,” Psalms 103:20.

Verse 3

3. τὸν ἄρτον ἡμῶν τὸν ἐπιούσιον δίδου ἡμῖν τὸ καθ' ἡμέραν. The prayer (i) acknowledges that we are indebted to God for our simplest boons; (ii) asks them for all; (iii) asks them only day by day; and (iv) asks for no more, Proverbs 30:8; John 6:27. St Luke’s version (δίδου) brings out the continuity of the gift (Be giving day by day); St Matthew’s (δός) its immediate need (Give to-day). The meaning of ἐπιούσιον is much disputed. For a brief discussion of its meaning, see Excursus IV.; but that this prayer is primarily a prayer for needful earthly sustenance has been rightly understood by the heart of mankind. Some of the suggested renderings are ‘to-morrow’s bread’ Meyer, following St Jerome who compared it to the Hebrew לחם מחר ; ‘bread to come,’ or ‘needful bread,’ Maclellan; ‘bread in sufficiency’ De Wette; ‘bread for our sustenance’ Alford.

τὰς ἁμαρτίας ἡμῶν. ‘Trespasses’ is not in our Bible, but comes, as Dr Plumptre notices, from Tyndale’s version. St Matthew uses the word ‘debts,’ which is implied in the following words of St Luke: “For indeed we ourselves remit to every one who oweth to us.” Unforgiving, unforgiven, Matthew 18:34-35; Ephesians 4:32; Colossians 3:13. The absence of any mention here of the Atonement or of Justification is, as Godet observes, a striking proof of the authenticity of the prayer. The variations are, further, a striking proof that the Gospels are entirely independent of each other.

ἀφίομεν. This form is used as though the verb were ἀφίω. Comp. ἤφιε, Mark 1:34; Mark 11:16, σύνιον for συνίεσαν Hom. Il. I. 273. The tense requires less explanation than the aorist used by St Matthew.

μὴ εἰσενέγκῃς ἡμᾶς εἰς πειρασμόν. God permits us to be tempted (John 17:15; Revelation 3:10), but we only yield to our temptations when we are “drawn away of our own lust and enticed” (James 1:14). But the temptations which God permits us are only human (ἀνθρώπινοι), not abnormal or irresistible temptations, and with each temptation He makes also the way to escape (καὶ τὴν ἔκβασιν, 1 Corinthians 10:13). We pray, therefore, that we may not be tried above what we are able, and this is defined by the following words: Our prayer is, Let not the tempting opportunity meet the too susceptible disposition. If the temptation comes, quench the desire; if the desire, spare us the temptation. See on Luke 4:2.

[ῥῦσαι ἡμᾶς ἀπὸ τοῦ πονηροῦ.] See critical note; and comp. Ps. 17:49 (LXX[241]) ἀπὸ ἀνδρὸς ἀδίκου ῥύσῃ με. ‘From the Evil One.’ The article, it is true, would not necessitate this translation, but it seems to be rendered probable by the analogy of similar prayers among the Jews. The last three clauses for daily bread, forgiveness, and deliverance, cover the present, past, and future. “All the tones of the human breast which go from earth to heaven, sound here in their key-notes” (Stier). There is no doxology added. Even in St Matthew it is (almost certainly) a liturgical addition, and no real part of the Lord’s Prayer.

Verse 4

4. After πειρασμόν, ACD La[235] read ἀλλὰ ῥῦσαι ἡμᾶς ἀπὸ τοῦ πονηροῦ. These additions may be from Matthew 6:9-10.

Verse 5

5. πορεύσεται πρὸς αὐτὸν μεσονυκτίου. Orientals often travel at night to avoid the heat. Although idle repetitions in prayer are forbidden, persistency and importunity in prayer—wrestling with God, and not letting Him go until He has blessed us—are here distinctly taught (see Luke 18:1-8), as they also were in the acted parable of our Lord’s apparent repulse of the Syro-Phoenician woman, Matthew 15:27-28.

καὶ εἴπῃ. This is a sort of deliberative subjunctive following the future, which is also found sometimes in classical Greek, and is frequent in Homer.

τρεῖς ἄρτους. It would be a mistake to press the mere detail into allegorical inferences. It merely represents what the man requires (Luke 11:8).

Verse 6

6. οὐκ ἔχω ὃ παραθήσω αὐτῷ. Even the deepest poverty was not held to excuse any lack of the primary Eastern virtue of hospitality. Allegorically we may see here the unsatisfied hunger of the soul, which wakens in the midnight of a sinful life.

Verse 7

7. κἀκεῖνος. The construction is an anakoluthon, as though the sentence had begun with ἐάν, as is shewn by the εἴπῃ in Luke 11:5 for which Lachmann reads ἐρεῖ following AD. There is a similar anacoluthon (due to the words in oratio directa) in Matthew 7:9.

μή μοι κόπους πάρεχε. The answer is rough and discouraging. He does not say ‘friend.’ His phrase implies irritation. The details are of course not to be pressed. The parable is merely an illustration à fortiori.

κέκλεισται. Literally, ‘has been already shut’ with the implication ‘shut for the night, and I do not mean to open it.’

τὰ παιδία μου. My little children. The whole parable is exquisitely simple and graphic.

εἰς τὴν κοίτην. They have come into bed, and are now asleep in it. (Comp. εἰς οἶκόν ἐστι, Mark 2:1.)

οὐ δύναμαι. Only a modified form for ‘I will not.’

ἀναστάς. The trouble of getting up is more than I can bear.

Verse 8

8. εἰ καὶ οὐ δώσει. Even if he will refuse him. Greek idiom would require μὴ after εἰ (since supposed conditions are necessarily subjective) were it not that the οὐ here belongs to the verb, the meaning of which it reverses. Comp. Luke 16:31. εἰ οὐ δύναται, Matthew 26:42, εἰ οὐκ ἔχει, Romans 8:9, &c.

διά γε τὴν ἀναίδειαν αὐτοῦ. At least because of his shamelessness (if for no other reason). Comp. Luke 18:5 διά γε τὸ παρέχειν μοι κόπον. Ἀναίδεια means ‘shamelessness’ (Vulg[242] improbitas), ‘impudence,’ i.e. unblushing persistence, which is not however selfish, but that he may do his duty towards another. Isaiah 62:6, “Ye that make mention of the Lord, keep not silence, and give him no rest, till he establish, &c.” Abraham furnishes a grand example of this fearless persistence (Genesis 18:23-33). Archbishop Trench quotes the beautiful passage in Dante’s Paradiso:

“Regnum caelorum violenzia pate

Da caldo amore e da viva speranza, &c.”

ἐγερθείς. Not merely half raising himself, or getting out of bed, as in Luke 11:7 (ἀναστάς), but ‘thoroughly aroused and getting up.’

ὅσων χρῄζει. More than the three which he had asked for the bare supply of his wants.

Verse 9

9. κἀγὼ ὑμῖν λέγω. And I say to you. The argument is the a minori ad majus which is sufficiently obvious in itself, but had been specially formulated by Hillel in his seven ‘rules’ (middoth) for the interpretation of Scripture.

αἰτεῖτε, καὶ δοθήσεται ὑμῖν. Matthew 7:7-11; Matthew 21:22; Mark 11:24; John 16:23. Doubtless these teachings were repeated more than once to different listeners. God’s unwillingness to grant is never more than in semblance, and for our good (Matthew 15:28; Genesis 32:28).

Verse 11

11. τὸν πατέρα. ‘Whom of you as a father?’

μὴἐπιδώσει. The construction is an anakoluthon, as though the sentence had begun ‘If the son of any of you, &c.’ The word ἐπιδώσει means ‘Will he go out of his way to give him?’—i.e. will he venture to give him? The son asks for bread, fish, &c., and the father gives something which looks like the thing asked for but is useless and pernicious.

Verse 12

12. αἰτήσει. Some MSS. read ἣ καὶ ἐὰν αἰτήσει, and according to the MSS. there are in the N. T. some instances of ἐὰν with the indic. See Winer, p. 369.

Verse 13

13. πονηροὶ ὑπάρχοντες. Whose whole condition is evil. The verb is stronger than if ὄντες had been used, but Bengel presses the word too much when he calls it “illustre testimonium de peccato originali.”

οἴδατε. It is the tendency of Hellenistic Greek as of all later forms of language to substitute regular for irregular forms; but οἴδαμεν, οἴδατε, and even οἴδασι, are found in Aristophanes, Xenophon, &c. See Veitch, Greek Verbs, p. 189.

ὁ ἐξ οὐρανοῦ. Your Father in heaven will give you from heaven. Comp. ἀποτάξασθαι τοῖς εἰς τὸν οἶκόν μου, Luke 9:61. For other instances of this attraction by constructio praegnans see Colossians 4:16 τὴν ἐκ Λαοδικείας ἐπιστολήν, Winer p. 784.

δώσει πνεῦμα ἅγιον. St Matthew has the much more general expression δόματα ἀγαθά (Luke 7:11). The Good Father will give to His children neither what is deadly, nor what is unfit for food, but the best of all gifts, Himself. When, in the legend, the Vision said to St Thomas Aquinas “Bene scripsisti de me, Thoma; qualem mercedem tibi dabo?”—the noble answer was “non aliam nisi Te, Domine.”



After the very learned and elaborate examination to which the word has been subjected by Bishop Lightfoot, On Revision 195–234, and Dr McClellan, New Testament 632–647, it will be sufficient here to touch on their conclusions.

This word was so rare that even learned Greek Fathers like Origen considered that it had been invented by the Evangelists and were uncertain as to its meaning. It is even still a dispute whether it has a temporal or a qualitative meaning, i.e. whether it means

i. bread for the day, in one of the subordinate senses of α. continual or β. future:—or

ii. for our subsistence, whether α. physical, or β. spiritual:—or again (giving to ἐπὶ the sense of ‘upon,’ i.e. ‘in addition to’) whether it meant

iii. beyond other substances, implying either α. ‘supersubstantial,’ i.e. preeminent, or β. consubstantial.

The meanings suggested under iii. may be at once dismissed as the artificial ‘afterthoughts of theology.’

The decision depends partly on the etymology. It has been thought that the word may be derived from ἐπὶ and ἰέναι, or from ἐπὶ and οὐσία.

It seems however an insuperable objection to the latter etymology that the word is ἐπιούσιος not ἐπούσιος; and with the etymology fall the meanings suggested under ii., i.e. bread for our physical, or spiritual, subsistence.

If then the word be derived from ἐπὶ and ἰέναι it comes either from ὁ ἐπιὼν χρόνος or ἡ ἐπιοῦσα ἡμέρα. In either case it would mean ‘bread for the coming day,’ i.e. for to-morrow, or for to-day; and Bishop Lightfoot brings some evidence to shew that this was the sense accepted by the Church till the more mystical sense was supported by Origen. He sums up his essay by the words “Thus the familiar rendering ‘daily’ which has prevailed uninterruptedly in the Western Church from the beginning is a fairly adequate representation of the original; nor indeed does the English language furnish any one word which would answer the purpose so well” (p. 234). On the other hand Dr McClellan, as the result of another exhaustive criticism, decides on the meaning “proper to the future world,” and would render it “needful,” an interpretation which he argues that “etymology, original tradition, sense and context unite in establishing” (p. 646). He would therefore take it in the sense of “Give us day by day our bread of Life Eternal.”

May we not however suppose that our Lord mentally referred to Proverbs 30:8, “Feed me with food convenient for me,” LXX[431] σύνταξον δέ μοι τὰ δέοντα καὶ τὰ αὐτάρκη? If so the simpler and more obvious meaning is to be preferred.

But I may observe in conclusion that practically the difference is nothing: for—in uttering the prayer—whichever sense the Christian may attach to the adjective he will certainly include the spiritual sense in using the word “bread” (John 6:51).

Verse 14

14. ἦν ἐκβάλλων. The continuous analytic imperfect perhaps implies that this was like some of those later miracles of Christ in which the result was not instantly accomplished.

αὐτὸ ἦν κωφόν. i.e., of course, the possession by the spirit caused dumbness in the man, comp. Mark 9:17. If this incident be the same as in Matthew 12:22, the wretched sufferer seems to have been both dumb, and blind, and mad.

ἐγένετοἐλάλησεν. The construction shews an Aramaic document. See on Luke 1:5; Luke 1:8-9.

ἐθαύμασαν οἱ ὄχλοι. Exorcisms, and attempted exorcisms (Acts 19:14), were indeed common among the Jews (see on Luke 9:49. Gfrörer, Jahrh. d. Heils, I. 413), but apparently only in the simplest cases, and never when the possession was complicated with blindness and dumbness.

Verses 14-26


Verse 15

15. τινὲς δὲ ἐξ αὐτῶν εἶπον. We learn from St Matthew (Matthew 12:24) that this notable suggestion emanated from “the Pharisees” and, as St Mark (Mark 3:20) adds, from “the scribes which came from Jerusalem,” i.e. the spies who had been expressly sent down by the ruling hierarchs to dog the footsteps of Jesus, and counteract His influence. The explanation was too ingeniously wicked and cleverly plausible to come from the more unsophisticated Pharisees of Galilee.

βεελζεβούλ. The name and reading are involved in obscurity. In 2 Kings 1:3 we are told that Beelzebub was god of Ekron; and the LXX[243] and Josephus (Antt. IX. 2, § 1) understood the name to mean ‘lord of flies.’ He may have been a god worshipped to avert the plagues of flies on the low sea-coast like Zeus Ἀπόμυιος (Averter of flies) and Apollo Ἰπυκτόνος (Slayer of vermin). But others interpret the name to mean ‘lord of dung,’ and regard it as one of the insulting nicknames which the Jews from a literal rendering of Exodus 23:13 felt bound to apply to heathen deities. In this place perhaps Beelzebub is the true reading, and that means ‘lord of the (celestial) habitation,’ i.e. prince of the air, Ephesians 2:3. Possibly the οἰκοδεσπότης of Matthew 10:25 is an allusion to this meaning. In any case the charge was the same as that in the Talmud that Jesus wrought His miracles (which the Jews did not pretend to deny) by magic.

Verse 16

16. πειράζοντες, i.e. wanting to try Him, to put Him to the test. The temptation was precisely analogous to that in the wilderness—a temptation to put forth a self-willed or arbitrary exertion of power for personal ends, see Luke 4:3; Luke 4:12.

σημεῖον ἐξ οὐρανοῦ. They persuaded the people that His miracles were wrought by unhallowed arts, and that such arts would be impossible in a sign from heaven like the Pillar of Cloud, the Fire of Elijah, &c. But our Lord refused their demand. Miracles were not to be granted to insolent unbelief; nor were they of the nature of mere prodigies. Besides it was His will to win conviction, not to enforce acceptance. This seems therefore to have been the one weapon of attack which the Pharisees found most effective against Him,—the one which most deeply wounded His spirit and finally drove Him away from the plain of Gennesareth (Mark 8:11-12).

Verse 17

17. αὐτῶν τὰ διανοήματα. ‘Their machinations.’

πᾶσα βασιλεία ἐφ' ἑαντὴν διαμερισθεῖσα. More briefly and graphically in St Mark “How can Satan cast out Satan?”

καὶ οἶκος ἐπὶ οἶκον. The words may be rendered ‘and (in that case) house falleth against house.’ Comp. Thuc. II. 84, ναῦς τε νηΐ προσέπιπτε. The words might also be rendered “and house after house falls” (Bucer).

Verse 18

18. εἰ δὲ καὶδιεμερίσθη. ‘But if Satan too is divided against himself.’

ὅτι. (I ask this) because, &c. Comp. Mark 3:30.

Verse 19

19. οἱ υἱοὶ ὑμῶν ἐν τίνι ἐκβάλλουσιν; The “pupils of the wise” might be called the ‘sons of the Pharisees’ just as the youths in the Prophetic schools were called ‘sons of the Prophets.’ The reality of the Jewish exorcisms is not here necessarily admitted (Acts 19:13). It was enough that the admitted pretensions to such powers among the Pharisees justified this incontrovertible argumentum ad hominem. See the very remarkable account of an exorcism by Eleazar in the presence of Vespasian in Josephus (Antt. VIII. 2, § 5). The immense superiority in wisdom and truthfulness of the Evangelist at once appears when we read this story.

Verse 20

20. ἐν δακτύλῳ θεοῦ. St Matthew has ἐν πνεύματι Θεοῦ. “Then the magicians said unto Pharaoh, This is the finger of God,” Exodus 8:19.

ἔφθασεν ἐφ' ὑμᾶς. Is come unawares upon you; or ‘is already come.’ The word and tense imply suddenness and surprise, although in some passages the force of φθάνω is weakened.

Verse 21

21. ὅταν ὁ ἰσχυρὸς καθωπλισμένος φυλάσσῃ τὴν ἑαυτοῦ αὐλήν. ‘The strong’ is Satan, Matthew 12:29. Αὐλὴ means ‘premises’ or ‘homestead,’ Matthew 26:3. The same metaphor is used of the Christian opposing Satan, as here of Satan opposing Christ, Ephesians 6:13. The world is here Satan’s court-yard (John 12:31; John 16:11) and men his possessions (2 Timothy 2:26).

καθωπλισμένος. ‘Fully armed, in his panoply’ (Luke 11:22).

Verse 22

22. ἰσχυρότερος αὐτοῦ. Christ, “having spoiled principalities and powers, made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in His Cross,” Colossians 2:15.

τὰ σκῦλα. The spoils which Satan had won from the race of man.—Bengel.

Verse 23

23. ὁ μὴ ὢν μετ' ἐμοῦ κατ' ἐμοῦ ἐστίν. Neutrality is sometimes opposition; see on Luke 9:51 (where we have the complementary truth).

σκορπίζει. An Ionic and Hellenistic verb for which the Attics use σκεδάννυμι.

Verse 24

24. διέρχεται δι' ἀνύδρων τόπων. The unclean spirits were thought to frequent ruins (Berachôth, f. 3a) and the waterless desert, Tobit 8:3; Baruch 4:35; see on Luke 4:1. The goat “for Azazel” was driven into the wilderness.

ζητοῦν ἀνάπαυσιν. Not to be in possession of some human soul, is (for them) to be in torment.

Verse 25

25. σεσαρωμένον καὶ κεκοσμημένον. The mischief and danger of the emancipated soul is that it is not occupied by a New Indweller. It has not tested the expulsive power of holy affections. It is ‘lying idle’ (σχολάζοντα, Matthew 12:44), i.e. ‘to let.’

Verse 26

26. ἕτερα πνεύματαἑπτά. Compare Luke 8:2; Luke 8:30. The number is figurative of complete wickedness and (in this case) final possession.

τὰ ἔσχατα τοῦ ἀνθρώπου ἐκείνου χείρονα τῶν πρώτων. The most striking comment on the verse is furnished by Hebrews 6:4-6; Hebrews 10:26-29, and especially 2 Peter 2:20-21. “Sin no more,” said our Lord to the Impotent Man, “lest a worse thing come unto thee,” John 5:14. The Parable was an allegory, not only of the awful peril of relapse after partial conversion, but also of the History of the Jews. The demon of idolatry had been expelled by the Exile; “but had returned in the sevenfold virulence of letter-worship, formalism, exclusiveness, ambition, greed, hypocrisy and hate;” and on the testimony of Josephus himself the Jews of that age were so bad that their destruction seemed an inevitable retribution.

Verse 27

27. ἐπάρασά τις γυνὴ φωνὴν ἐκ τοῦ ὄχλου. A woman uplifting her voice out of the crowd. “Bene sentit,” says Bengel, “sed muliebriter loquitur.”

μακαρία ἡ κοιλία ἡ βαστάσασά σε. See Luke 1:28; Luke 1:48. “How many women have blessed the Holy Virgin, and desired to be such a mother as she was! What hinders them? Christ has made for us a wide way to this happiness, and not only women, but men may tread it—the way of obedience; this it is which makes such a mother, and not the throes of parturition.” St Chrysostom. It is a curious undesigned coincidence that (as we see from Matthew 12:46) the Virgin had just arrived upon the scene.

Verses 27-32


Verse 28

28. μενοῦν μακάριοι οἱ ἀκούοντες τὸν λόγον τοῦ θεοῦ καὶ φυλάσσοντες. ‘Yea truly, but &c.’ In classical Greek μὲν οὖν (or μενοῦνγε, immo vero) never begins a sentence, as it does here and in Romans 9:20; Romans 10:18. With the thought compare Luke 8:21. Our Lord invariably and systematically discouraged all attempt to exalt the merely human relationship or intercourse with Him, and taught that the Presence of His Spirit was to be a nearer and more blessed thing than knowledge of Him “after the flesh” (John 14:16; 2 Corinthians 5:16).

καὶ φυλάσσοντες. Hearing without obedience was more than valueless, Matthew 7:21; Matthew 12:50; Romans 2:13.

Verse 29

29. ἐπαθροιζομένων. ‘Were densely gathering.’ The word occurs here alone in the N.T.

Verse 30

30. τοῖς Νινευΐταις σημεῖον. Jonah 1:17.

Verse 31

31. βασίλισσα νότου. The queen of Sheba (1 Kings 10:1-13; 2 Chronicles 9:1-12). The visit of this queen of Yemen made a deep impression on Oriental imagination, and is found in the Koran (xxvii., &c.) “diluted with nonsense and encumbered with fables.”

μετὰ τῶν ἀνδρῶν. Woman though she was she will rise with the men (ἀνδρῶν not ἀνθρώπων).

ἀκοῦσαι τὴν σοφίαν Σολομῶνος. And also “to prove him with hard questions,” 1 Kings 10:1.

πλεῖον. ‘Something more.’

Verse 32

32. ἄνδρες Νινευῖται. Men of Nineveh or Ninevites; not ‘the men of Nineveh.’

μετενόησαν εἰς τὸ κήρυγμα Ἰωνᾶ. “The people of Nineveh believed God, and proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them even to the least of them,” Jonah 3:5. The εἰς is difficult to explain. Perhaps it is what is called ‘the predicate of destination,’ i.e. so as to adopt the teaching of Jonah, or it may be from analogy with such phrases as πιστεύειν εἰς. Comp. Acts 7:53.

Verse 33

33. λύχνον. A lamp.

εἰς κρυπτήν. Into ‘a crypt’ or ‘cellar.’ If the κρύπτη be thus regarded as a subst. (the Latin crypta) it should be paroxytone. Euthymius defines it to be τὴν ἀπόκρυφον οἰκίαν. Some have here most needlessly supposed it to be used by a Hebrew idiom for the neuter. See Winer, p. 298.

ὑπὸ τὸν μόδιον. ‘Under the bushel’; i.e. the one in use in the house; and similarly ‘the candlestick,’ or rather, ‘lamp-stand.’

ἵνα οἱ εἰσπορενόμενοι τὸ φέγγος βλέπωσιν. The comparison is the same as in Matthew 5:14; Mark 4:21; but the application in the next verse is different. The light is here used for inward enlightenment, not to be seen afar.

Verses 33-36


Verse 34

34. ὁ λύχνος τοῦ σώματός ἐστιν ὁ ὁφθαλμός σου. ‘Thine eye is the lamp of the body,’ since the word is the same as in the last verse.

ὅταν ὁ ὀφθαλμός σου ἁπλοῦς ᾖ. The eye in this clause is the ‘inward eye’ of conscience; the ‘illuminated eye of the heart,’ Ephesians 1:17-18. “Single,” i.e. unsophisticated; in its normal condition.

ἐπὰν δὲ πονηρὸς ᾖ. The ‘evil eye’ is especially one of hate, Romans 12:8; Sirach 14:8-10. The inward eye should be spiritual; when it becomes carnal the man can no longer see that which is only spiritually discerned, and he takes God’s wisdom for foolishness, 1 Corinthians 2:14; 1 Corinthians 3:18-20.

Verse 35

35. μὴ τὸ φῶς τὸ ἐν σοὶ σκότος ἐστίν. The indicative following σκόπει μὴ shews the apprehension that such is the case. Hermann on Soph. Aj. 272 says “μὴ ἐστί verentis quidem est ne quid nunc sit, sed judicantis simul putare se ita esse ut veretur.” Comp. Galatians 2:2 ἀνεθέμηνμήπως εἰς κενὸν ἔδραμον, Luke 4:11 φοβοῦμαιμήπως εἰκῆ κεκοπίακα. The light in us becomes darkness when we are “wise in our own conceit” (Proverbs 16:12) which makes us think a way right when it is the way of death (Proverbs 16:25), and makes us call evil good, and good evil, put darkness for light, and light for darkness, Isaiah 5:20-21.

Verse 36

36. φωτίζῃ σε. The verse may be rendered literally, ‘If then thy body be wholly illumined … it shall be illumined wholly as when the lamp with its bright shining illumines thee.’ The spirit of man is the candle of the Lord. “God will light my candle,” Psalms 18:28. “Thy word is a lantern unto my feet.” In these words we catch an echo of those thoughts on the diffusiveness and divineness of light which are so fully developed in St John’s Gospel (Luke 8:12).

“Wär nicht das Auge sonnenhaft,

Wie könnten wir das Licht erblicken?”


Verse 37

37. ἐρωτᾷ. ‘Asked’ (A. V[244]besought”).

ὅπως ἀριστήσῃ παρ' αὐτῷ. The meal was not dinner (δεῖπνον), but an earlier, lighter, and more informal meal (ἄριστον).

εἰσελθὼν δὲ ἀνέπεσεν. The words imply that immediately He entered He sat down to table. The meal was merely some slight refreshment in the middle of the day, and probably our Lord was both suffering from hunger after His long hours of teaching, and was also anxious to save time.

Verses 37-54


Verse 38

38. ἐθαύμασεν ὅτι οὐ πρῶτον ἐβαπτίσθη. Literally, ‘bathed.’ No washing was necessary to eat a few dates or figs. At the chief meal of the day, where all dipped their hands into a common dish, it was a matter of cleanliness. But the duty of cleanliness had been turned by the Oral Law into a rigorous set of cumbersome and needless ablutions, each performed with certain elaborate methods and gesticulations (Mark 7:2-3) which had nothing to do with religion or even with the Levitical Law, but only with Pharisaic tradition and the Oral Law. In the Shulchan Aruk, a book of Jewish Ritual, no less than twenty-six prayers are given with which their washings are accompanied. But all this was not only devoid of divine sanction, but had become superstitious, tyrannous, and futile. The Pharisee “marvelled” because he and his party tried to enforce the Oral Law on the people as even more sacred than the Written Law. The subject of ablutions was one which caused several of these disputes with Christ, Matthew 15:19-20. The Rabbi Akhibha would have preferred to die of thirst rather than neglect his ablutions, and the Talmud thought that a demon—called Schibta—sat on unwashen hands. Our Lord astonished the conventionalism of these religious teachers and their followers by shewing that what truly defiles a man is that which cometh from within—from the heart.

Verse 39

39. νῦν ὑμεῖς οἱ Φαρισαῖοι. Doubtless other circumstances besides the mere supercilious astonishment of the Pharisee led to the vehement rebuke. The eightfold woe in Matthew 23. is fuller than here. Jesus denounces their frivolous scrupulosity [39], combined with gross insincerity [42], their pride [43], and their corruption [44].

τὸ ἔξωθεν τοῦ ποτηρίου καὶ τοῦ πίνακος. Mark 7:4, “washing of cups, and pots, brazen vessels, and of tables.” On one occasion the Sadducees seeing Pharisees busied in washing the great Golden Candelabrum sneeringly observed that they would wash the Sun itself if they could get the opportunity.

τὸ δὲ ἔσωθεν ὑμῶν γέμει ἁρπαγῆς καὶ πονηρίας, i.e. of greed, and of the depravity which causes it. A slightly different turn of expression is given in Matthew 23:25-26. ἁρπαγὴ is πλεονεξία carried into action. Mark 7:22. See Excursus VI. on Sects of the Jews; and compare these denunciations with those delivered in the Temple on the last day (Tuesday in Passion Week) of the Lord’s public ministry, Matthew 23:25-28. The early Christian heretics reflected the character of these Pharisees in their mixture of elaborate profession with real godlessness, Titus 1:15-16.

Verse 40

40. καὶ τὸ ἔσωθεν. See Mark 7:18-19, which contains our Lord’s distinctest utterance in abrogation of the Levitic Law—“This He said … making all meats clean.” (Revised Version.)

Verse 41

41. τὰ ἐνόντα. St Matthew’s τὸ ἐντὸς καθάρισον is clearer. Theophylact explains this to mean τὰ ὑπάρχοντα ὑμῖν. Euthym. τὰ ἐναποκείμενα. Luther, ‘of that which is true.’ A. V[245]of that which ye have.’ Grotius, ‘of what is possible.’ This is followed by the marg. of the R. V[246]that which ye can.’ The R.V[247] renders literally, ‘those things which are within.’ Perhaps we may render ‘as for that which is within you, give alms.’ But the entire meaning of the clause is much disputed. Some explain it, Give as alms ‘the contents’ of cup and platter, and then they will be all clean without washing. ‘It is Love which purifies, not lustrations.’ ‘A loving deed makes the hands clean.’

δότε ἐλεημοσύνην. See Luke 12:33, Luke 16:14; Matthew 6:3. Almsgiving is only mentioned as one typical form of Charity, which was in that state of society preeminently necessary. Indeed ‘alms’ is the same word as ἐλεημοσύνη, which involves the idea of Mercy. The general lesson—that God does not care for ceremonies, in themselves, and only cares for them at all when they are accompanied by sincere goodness—is again and again taught in Scripture. 1 Samuel 15:22; Isaiah 58:6-8; Micah 6:8; Daniel 4:27; James 4:8.

Verse 42

42. ἀποδεκατοῦτε τὸ ἡδύοσμον καὶ τὸ πήγανον. Deuteronomy 14:22. In the Talmud there are elaborate discussions whether in tithing the seeds of potherbs one ought also to tithe the stalk, &c. ‘Tithes’ and ‘washings’ occupied the chief thoughts of Pharisees. Sacrificial details were all-important among priests.

παρέρχεσθε τὴν κρίσιν καὶ τὴν ἀγάπην τοῦ θεοῦ. ‘Ye leave on one side.’ Comp. Luke 15:29. The love of God is best shewn by love to men, and the Pharisees were filled with immoral contempt for those whom they regarded as less learned or less attentive to scrupulosities than themselves. The Pharisees still exist as a party among Eastern Jews, and are called Perushim. So bad is their character that the bitterest term of reproach in Jerusalem is, ‘You are a Porish!’ How little they have changed from their character, as Christ depicted it, may be seen from the testimony of a Jewish writer. “They proudly separate themselves from the rest of their co-religionists.… Fanatical, bigoted, intolerant, quarrelsome, and in truth irreligious, with them the outward observance of the ceremonial law is everything; the moral law little binding, morality itself of no importance” (See Frankl., Jews in the East, II. 27).

Verse 43

43. ἀγαπᾶτε. ‘Ye highly value.’ John 12:43.

τὴν πρωτοκαθεδρίαν. These were places in the synagogue in a conspicuous semicircle facing the congregation, and round the bema of the reader, Luke 14:7-11; Matthew 23:6.

τοὺς ἀσπασμοὺς ἐν ταῖς ἀγοραῖς. In which they addressed one another by extravagant titles, and required from their followers an exaggerated reverence.

Verse 44

44. [ὑποκριταί.] The first meaning of the word is ‘actors.’

ὡς τὰ μνημεῖα τὰ ἄδηλα. Any contact with sepulchres involved Levitical uncleanness. Hence graves and tombs were whitewashed that none might touch them unawares. Perhaps our Lord was alluding to Tiberias, which when it was being built was discovered to be partly on the site of an old unsuspected cemetery; so that every true Jew regarded it as pollution to live there, and Herod could only get it inhabited partly by bribes, partly by threats. In St Matthew—several of whose particulars are differently applied—they are called ‘whited scpulchres,’ fair outside, polluted within. Here they are unsuspected graves.

οὐκ οἴδασι. Sc. περιπατοῦντες, ‘Know not that they are walking on them.’

Verse 45

45. τις τῶν νομικῶν. See on Luke 7:30, Luke 10:25. This Scribe thought that Jesus could not possibly mean to reflect on the honoured class who copied and expounded the Law.

καὶ ἡμᾶς ὑβρίζεις. ‘Thou insultest even us,’ who are superior to ordinary Pharisees. The word is a strong and an unjust one. Anything like ὕβρις was utterly alien to the words and the spirit of Christ. Had the lawyer said ὀνειδίζεις he would have spoken accurately; but just reproach is not insult. There was a difference between Pharisees and lawyers; the position of the latter involved more culture and distinction. They were the ‘divines,’ the ‘theologians’ of that day. Hence the man’s reproach. ‘Lawyer’ and ‘scribe’ seem to be more or less convertible terms (Luke 11:52-53; Matthew 23:13). Jesus here charges them with tyrannical insincerity [46], persecuting rancour (47–51), and theological arrogance and exclusiveness [52].

Verse 46

46. φορτία δυσβάστακτα. These burdens of the Oral Law became yearly more and more grievous, till they were enshrined in the boundless pedantry of ceremonialism which fills the Talmud. But even at this period they were an intolerable yoke (Acts 15:10), and the lawyers had deserved the Woe pronounced by Isaiah on them “that decree unrighteous decrees, and write grievousness which they have prescribed,” Isaiah 10:1. “Gradus: digito uno attingere, digitis tangere, digito movere, manu tollere, humero imponere. Hoc cogebant populum; illud ipsi refugiebant.” Bengel.

Verse 47

47. οἱ δὲ πατέρες ὑμῶν ἀπέκτειναν αὐτούς. This is holy sarcasm. They boasted that they would not have done as their fathers had done to the Prophets (Matthew 23:30), yet they rejected John, the greatest of the Prophets, and crucified the Just One, Acts 7:51-52. Thus they proved their moral as well as their literal affiliation to the murderers of the prophets.

Verse 48

48. μάρτυρές ἐστεσυνευδοκεῖτε. We find the same two words used of St Paul in Acts 7:58; Acts 8:1. ‘Allow’ means ‘approve after trial,’ and is derived from allaudare. “The Lord alloweth the righteous,” Psalms 11:6 (Prayer-Book Version).

Verse 49

49. ἡ σοφία τοῦ θεοῦ. Comp. Luke 7:35. There is an allusion to 2 Chronicles 24:20-22 (comp. 2 Chronicles 36:14-21), or perhaps to Proverbs 1:20-31. But as the exact passage nowhere occurs in the O.T. some suppose that our Lord quotes [1] from a lost book called ‘The Wisdom of God’ (Ewald, Bleek, &c.); or [2] from previous words of His own; or [3] from the Gospel of St Matthew (see Matthew 23:34); or [4] from the Book of Proverbs (Luke 1:20-31). The clause is a general paraphrase of the tenor of several O.T. passages. In 1 Corinthians 1:24 Christ is called “the Wisdom of God.”

ἐξ αὐτῶν ἀποκτενοῦσιν καὶ ἐκδιώξουσιν. See on Luke 6:23. St Luke omits the σταυρώσετε which is found in Matthew 23:34.

Verses 49-51

49–51. These verses were arbitrarily omitted by Marcion.

Verse 50

50. ἐκζητηθῇ. A Hellenistic verb used in the sense of the Latin exquiro.

ἐκχυννόμενον. Literally, ‘which is being poured out,’ i.e. which is being constantly shed.

Verse 51

51. ἕως αἵματος Ζαχαρίου. His murder by Joash is described in 2 Chronicles 24:20-21, and also filled a large place in Jewish legends. The words “the son of Barachiah,” in Matthew 23:35, are probably an erroneous gloss which has crept from the margin into the text. The murdered Zacharias was the son of the High Priest Jehoiada; the Prophet Zechariah was a son of Barachiah, but died, so far as we know, a natural death; and the Zechariah son of Barachiah, who was murdered by the Zealots, did not die till forty years later than this time. The allusions are all the more striking from the direct references to retribution in these two instances, and from the fact that they are drawn from the first and last historical books of the O. T. (Genesis 4:10; 2 Chronicles 24:22). The religion of the Pharisees was a mere religion of intellect and of ritual, and “la religion de tête se lie presque toujours à la haine de la piété vivante, de la religion de l’esprit, et devient aisément persécutrice.” Godet.

Verse 52

52. ἤρατε τὴν κλεῖδα τῆς γνώσεως. D reads ἀπεκρύψατε, Ye concealed the key, but that is implied in their taking it away and rendering it inaccessible. Our Lord here denounces the common spirit of theological exclusiveness and pride. A key was the regular symbol of the function of a scribe (Matthew 13:52; Matthew 16:19), which was to open the meaning of the Holy Books. The crime charged against them here is their selfish exclusiveness. They declared that only rich and well-born people could be scribes; and while they refused to teach the mass of the people, they at the same time called them ‘accursed’ for not knowing the law, and spoke about them in terms of the bitterest scorn and detestation. “Ye have caused many to stumble at the law,” Malachi 2:8.

τοὺς εἰσερχομένους ἐκωλύσατε. The aorist and present imply ‘ye repelled at the threshold those who were trying to enter.’

Verse 53

53. κἀκεῖθεν ἐξελθόντος αὐτοῦ. ‘When He had gone forth from thence.’ The Pharisees in their anger followed Him out of the house. The breach between Jesus and the constituted religious teachers was more open and violent than it had ever been before.

δεινῶς ἐνέχειν. ‘To press vehemently upon Him,’ not physically but in a circle of bitter hostile inquirers. It is clear from this and the following verse that the Pharisee’s feast had been a base plot to entrap Jesus. None of His disciples seem to have been with Him, nor any of the people; and after these stern rebukes the Pharisees surrounded Him in a most threatening and irritating manner, in “a scene of violence perhaps unique in the Life of Jesus.”

ἀποστοματίζειν αὐτὸν περὶ πλειόνων. Perhaps ‘to cross-question Him,’ or ‘to catch words from His mouth about very many things.’ The classical sense of the verb ἀποστοματίζειν is ‘to dictate.’ Euthymius explains it to mean ‘to demand impromptu and ill-considered answers of treacherous questions.’ The Vulgate “os ejus opprimere” follows the reading ἐπιστομίζειν.

Verse 54

54. θηρεῦσαι. Literally, ‘to hunt.’ They were members of a sort of ‘commission of inquiry’ which had been sent from Jerusalem for this express purpose, Mark 12:13. They occupied the base position of inquisitors and heresy-hunters for the theologians and priests at Jerusalem.


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Bibliography Information
"Commentary on Luke 11:4". "Cambridge Greek Testament for Schools and Colleges". 1896.

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