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Bible Commentaries

Cambridge Greek Testament for Schools and Colleges

Luke 13



Other Authors
Verse 1

1. παρῆσανἐν αὐτῷ τῷ καιρῷ. ‘There arrived at that very season.’ The curious phrase (comp. Luke 12:12) seems to imply that they had come on purpose to announce this catastrophe. Hence some have supposed that they wished to kindle in the mind of Jesus as a Galilaean (Luke 23:5) a spirit of Messianic retribution (Jos. Antt. XVII. 9, § 3). But Christ’s answer rather proves that they were connecting the sad death of these Galilaeans with their imaginary crimes. They were not calling His attention to them as martyrs, but as supposed victims of divine anger. Their report indicates a sort of pleasure in recounting the misfortunes of others (ἐπιχαιρεκακία). But Jesus teaches ‘the Pharisaic heart’ that the agonies and misfortunes which fall on others should be the source not of proud self-satisfaction but of contrite humility, and that they are a σημεῖον τῶν καιρῶν which they failed to read.

τῶν Γαλιλαίων. Galilaeans regularly attended the Jewish feasts at Jerusalem, John 4:45.

ὧν τὸ αἷμα Πιλάτος ἔμιξεν μετὰ τῶν θυσιῶν αὐτῶν. This may be a brachylogy for μετὰ τοῦ αἴματος τῶν θυσιῶν. The catastrophe may have occurred at some Passover riot, during which the Roman soldiers had hurried down from Fort Antonia. This incident, which was peculiarly horrible to Jewish imaginations, often happened during the turbulent administration of Pilate and the Romans; see on Luke 23:1; Acts 21:34. At one Passover, “during the sacrifices” 3000 Jews had been massacred “like victims,” and “the Temple courts filled with dead bodies” (Jos. Antt. XVII. 9, § 3); and at another Passover, no less than 20,000 had perished (id. XX. 5, § 3; see also B. J. II. 5, Luke 13:1). Early in his administration Pilate had sent disguised soldiers with daggers among the crowd (id. XVIII. 3, § 1; B. J. II. 9, § 4). The special massacre here alluded to was too insignificant to be specially recorded by Josephus; but in the fact that the victims in this instance were Galilaeans, we may perhaps see a reason for the “enmity” between Pilate and Herod Antipas (Luke 23:12).

Verses 1-9


Verses 1-35

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. ἁμαρτωλοὶ παρὰ πάντας τοὺς Γαλιλαίους ἐγένοντο. For παρὰ in comparisons see Luke 3:13; Hebrews 1:9; Hebrews 3:3. The “were” of the A. V[275] is literally, ‘became,’ i.e. ‘stamped themselves as,’ ‘proved themselves to be.’ We trace a similar mistaken ‘supposition’ in the question of the disciples about the blind man (John 9:2). It was indeed deeply engrained in the Jewish mind, although the Book of Job had been expressly levelled at the uncharitable error of assuming that individual misfortune could only be the consequence of individual crime. Such is sometimes the case (Genesis 42:21; Judges 1:7), but although all human sorrow has its ultimate cause in human sin it is wrong to assume in individual cases the connexion of calamity with crime.

ταῦτα πεπόνθασιν. ‘Have suffered these things.’

Verse 3

3. ἐὰν μὴ μετανοῆτε. The pres. subj. points to the necessity for a state of repentance. The aor. μετανοήσητε, which is the best reading in Luke 13:5, points to its immediate urgency. The first meaning of the words was doubtless prophetic. As a matter of historic fact, the Jewish nation did not repent, and myriads of them in the siege of Jerusalem perished by a doom closely analogous to that of these unhappy Galilaeans (see Jos. B. J. Luke 13:1; Luke 13:3; Luke 13:7; Luke 13:11-12, and especially 13, VI. passim, VII. 3). And since all life and all history are governed by the same divine laws, the warning is applicable to men and to nations at all periods.

Verse 4

4. ἐκεῖνοι οἱ δεκαοκτώ, ἐφ' οὓς ἔπεσεν ὁ πύργος ἐν τῷ Σιλωάμ. It is an ingenious, but of course uncertain conjecture of Ewald, that the death of these workmen was connected with the notion of retribution because they were engaged in building part of the aqueduct to the Pool of Siloam, for the construction of which Pilate had seized some of the sacred Corban-money (Mark 7:11; Jos. B. J. II. 9, § 4).

Σιλωάμ. The pool (John 9:7; Isaiah 8:6), near the village of Silwân, at the entrance of the Tyropoeon valley, which runs into the Valley of Jehoshaphat between Sion and Moriah.

ὅτι αὐτοὶ ὀφειλέται ἐγένοντο. ‘That they themselves proved themselves to be debtors.’ (Wyclif, Rhem. and Vulg[276] debitores.)

Verse 5

5. πάντες ὡσαύτως ἀπολεῖσθε. The readings of the word ‘likewise’ vary between ὁμοίως and ὡσαύτως; but no distinct difference of meaning between the two words can be established, unless the latter be rather stronger, ‘in the very same way.’ Here again the actual incidents of the siege of Jerusalem—the deaths of many under the falling ruins of the city (Jos. B. J. VI. 9, VII. 1)—are the directest comment on our Lord’s words which yet bear the wider significance of the warning in Romans 2:1-11. “Le carnage,” says Godet, “dû au glaive de Pilate, n’est que le prélude de celui que l’armée romaine consommera bientôt dans toute la Terre-Sainte.” He adds, that 40 years later, all that remained of the Galilean people, reunited in the Temple, was expiating under the blows of Titus the national impenitence. If we may judge from the MSS. the language of the two parallel questions (Luke 13:3-4) seems to have been purposely varied.

Verse 6

6. συκῆνπεφυτευμένην ἐν τῷ ἀμπελῶνι αὐτοῦ. The corners of vineyards were often utilised in this way, as they still are (Tristram, Nat. Hist. Bib. p. 352). Here the Jewish nation is compared to the fig-tree (Hosea 9:10; Jeremiah 24:3), as in the acted parable of the Barren Fig-tree (Matthew 21:19); more often Israel is compared to the Vine or the Vineyard (Psalms 80:8-11; Isaiah 5:2).

Verse 7

7. πρὸς τὸν ἀμπελουργόν. It seems clear that in the truth which the parable shadows forth, Christ corresponds to the vine-dresser, and Jehovah to the owner (Isaiah 5:7). Some however prefer to see in the vine-dresser the Holy Spirit as Intercessor.

τρία ἔτη. Many suppose an allusion to the length up to this time of our Lord’s ministry (Bengel, &c.). Others (Euthym., &c.) explain it of the periods of the Judges, Kings, and High Priests. It is very doubtful how far these lesser details—which are essential to the colouring of the parable—are intended to be pressed.

ἔκκοψον αὐτήν. At once—as the tense implies (Matthew 3:10; John 15:2). It was fulfilled in the rejection of Israel (Romans 11:22).

ἱνατί; Why? originally two words with γένηται understood; ἵνα τί γένηται; in order that what may happen?

ἱνατί καὶ τὴν γῆν καταργεῖ; ‘Why doth it also sterilise the ground?’ i.e. it is not only useless, but positively mischievous by preventing other growth. For the verb comp. Romans 3:3.

Verse 8

8. κύριε. ‘Sir,’ as far as the parable is concerned.

καὶ τοῦτο τὸ ἔτος. “The Lord … is longsuffering to usward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance,” 2 Peter 3:9. In “this year also” it is better to see generally the respite of forty years between the crucifixion and the destruction of Jerusalem, rather than the yet remaining period of our Lord’s ministry. God never strikes without warning, because He desires to save.

Verse 9

9. κἂν μὲν ποιήσῃ καρπὸν εἰς τὸ μέλλον. The “well” (καλῶς ἔχει) is not in the original, the idiom being a common but striking aposiopesis: i.e. the conclusion of the sentence is left to the speaker’s imagination. The phrase implies, If, as is at least possible, it bears fruit;—but if not, as thou supposest, then, &c. (See Winer p. 751.)

εἰ δὲ μήγε. In these antitheses a conditional clause with ἐὰν (if, as may be the case) is often followed by another with εἰ (assuming that) (si fructum tulerit … sin minus, si non fert); comp. Acts 5:38-39 ἐὰν ᾖ ἐξ ἀνθρώπωνεἰ δὲ ἐκ Θεοῦ ἐστιν.

ἐκκόψεις. “Non dicit vinitor ‘exscindam’ (Luke 13:7). Sed rem refert ad dominum; desinit tamen pro ficu deprecari.” Bengel.

Verse 10

10. ἐν μιᾷ τῶν συναγωγῶν. The mention of synagogue-teaching becomes much rarer at this later stage of Christ’s ministry. It is most probable that from some at least of the synagogues of Galilee He was excluded by the ‘lesser excommunication.’ See John 16:2.

Verses 10-17


Verse 11

11. πνεῦμαἀσθενείας. Her curvature is thus directly attributed to Satanic agency. Job 2:6-7; Acts 10:38.

ἦν. Aderat; she had doubtless come there on purpose.

μὴ δυναμένη. The μὴ can hardly be here explained, except as due to the tendency to use μὴ with participles.

εἰς τὸ παντελές. Hebrews 7:25.

Verse 12

12. ἀπολέλυσαι. Here, as elsewhere, the delicacy and force of the Greek tense implying the immediateness and the permanence of the cure can only be expressed in English by a periphrasis.

Verse 14

14. ὁ ἀρχισυνάγωγος. See Luke 8:41.

ἀγανακτῶν. The same strong word—implying a personal resentment—is used in Matthew 20:24; Matthew 26:8.

-τῷ σαββάτῳ. See on Luke 6:2.

ἐν αἷς δεῖ ἐργάζεσθαι. Exodus 20:9.

ἐν αὐταῖς οὖν ἐρχόμενοι θεραπεύεσθε. As though the reception of divine grace were Sabbath-breaking toil! Few remarks of the opponents of our Lord were so transparently illogical and hypocritical as this. It was meanly indirect because it was aimed at Jesus, though the man is too much in awe to address it to Him, and the implied notion that it was a crime to allow oneself to be healed on the Sabbath day springs from an abyss of Pharisaic falsity which could hardly have been conceived. It was the underhand ignorance and insolence, as well as the gross insincerity of the remark, which called forth a reproof exceptionally severe.

Verse 15

15. ὑποκριταί. ‘Hypocrites!’ (א AB), classing the man with the whole sect to which he belonged, and whose shibboleths he used. They were hypocrites (i.e. they were acting a part) because they were disguising secret enmity under a pretence of sabbatical zeal.

τῷ σαββάτῳλύει τὸν βοῦν. Our Lord varied from time to time the arguments with which He abolished the fanatical formalism of the Pharisees respecting the Sabbath. Sometimes He appealed to His own inherent authority (John 5:17-47); sometimes to Scripture precedents (Luke 6:3-5); or to common sense and eternal principles (Luke 6:9). Here, as in Luke 14:5, He uses an argumentum ad hominem, refuting their traditional rules by the selfish insincerity with which they applied them. They allowed men to unloose and lead to water their cattle on the sabbath, and thus to break their own Sabbatic rules, in order to save themselves the trouble of providing water overnight, or, at the best, to abridge a few hours’ thirst; was then this suffering woman not to be touched, not to be spoken to, even in order to end 18 years of suffering?

ἀπὸ τῆς φάτνης. ‘From the manger,’ Luke 2:7.

ἀπαγαγών. The pictorial participle—“ad opus demonstrandum.” Bengel.

Verse 16

16. θυγατέρα Ἀβραὰμ οὖσαν. See Luke 19:9.

ἣν ἔδησεν ὁ σατανᾶς. Compare 2 Corinthians 12:7.

δέκα καὶ ὀκτὼ ἔτη. The accus. of duration.

οὐκ ἔδει. Our Saviour gives him back his own word “ought;”—but the man’s ought had been one of ceremonial obligation, and the ought of Jesus was founded on the divine necessity of love.

Verse 17

17. ταῦτα λέγοντος αὐτοῦ. ‘While He was saying these things.’

κατῃσχύνοντο. Not “were ashamed” but ‘were shamed,’ i.e. were put to shame. See Isaiah 45:16 (LXX[277]).

γινομένοις. ‘Which were constantly being done.’

Verse 18

18. ἔλεγεν οὖν. The οὖν is a reference to the joy of the multitude which proved the growth of the Kingdom of God.

τίνι ὁμοία ἐστὶν ἡ βασιλεία τοῦ θεοῦ; For this solemn introduction see Isaiah 40:18.

Verses 18-21


Verse 19

19. εἰς κῆπον ἑαυτοῦ. Into his own garden, where he could bestow special care upon it. “The vineyard of the Lord of Hosts is the House of Israel.” Isaiah 5:7.

ἐγένετο εἰς δένδρον. Omit great with א BDL, &c. The points of comparison are the sudden, secret growth, and the immense development of the kingdom of God. The mustard seed was colloquially spoken of by the Jews as “the smallest of all seeds,” and it grew into a herbaceous plant, as tall as a horse and his rider (Thomson, Land and Book).

τὰ πετεινὰ τοῦ οὐρανοῦ κατεσκήνωσεν ἐν τοῖς κλάδοις αὐτοῦ. The substantive corresponding to the verb “lodged” is found in Luke 9:58 (A. V[278] “nests;” rather ‘shelters’). Finches, and other small birds, throng the mustard beds to live on the seed (Tristram, Nat. Hist. Bib. 473).

Verse 21

21. ὁμοία ἐστὶν ζύμῃ. Except in this parable, leaven in Scripture (being connected with corruption and fermentation) is used as the type of sin. See Luke 12:1; Exodus 12:1; Exodus 12:15-20; 1 Corinthians 5:6-8; Galatians 5:9. Here, however, the only point considered is its rapid, and unseen, and effectual working. The former parable illustrates the growth of the Gospel, the latter its transforming power.

εἰς ἀλεύρου σάτα τρία. Σάτον (the Hebr. seah, about a peck) occurs only here and at Matthew 13:33. (Genesis 18:6, LXX[279] μέτρον.) The verisimilitude, simplicity, and vividness of the parables arise from the natural and specific details introduced into them. To press these into separate lessons only leads to arbitrary exegesis and false theology. Probably the “three measures” are only mentioned because they are the ordinary amount which a woman would leaven at one time. If any one likes to improve the detail by applying it to [1] body, soul, and spirit (1 Thessalonians 5:23); or [2] to Jews, Samaritans, and Galilaeans; or [3] to the three sons of Noah (!), as representing Semites, Aryans, and Allophylians,—it should be understood that these are pious applications, and interesting plays of fancy, not comments on our Lord’s words.

ἕως οὗ ἐζυμώθη ὅλον. The whole heart of each man (2 Corinthians 10:5), and the whole world (Luke 24:47).

Verse 22

22. διεπορεύετο κατὰ πόλεις καὶ κώμας. ‘He was continuing His journey through the several cities and villages.’ The κατὰ is distributive. Some see in this the starting-point of a separate journey. The expression is too vague on which to build. It may imply a fresh progress after some brief period of rest.

Verses 22-30


Verse 23

23. εἰ ὀλίγοι οἱ σωζόμενοι; For εἰ introducing a dubious question see Matthew 12:10. The question may naturally have arisen from the last teachings respecting the small beginnings of the Kingdom of God. There is nothing to shew whether it was suggested by speculative curiosity, or by despondent pity. But without directly rebuking such questions, our Lord, as in other instances, strove to place the questioners in a wiser frame of mind (Deuteronomy 29:29). The answer is a direct discouragement to all pitiless, and especially to all self-righteous, eschatologies. It is a solemn assertion of the necessity for earnest, personal endeavour. Thus to all idle attempts to define the certainties of the future, our Lord says, Consider the question with reference to yourself, not with reference to others. Look at it in the spirit of the publican, not in the spirit of the Pharisee. The wisdom and necessity of the answer may be seen from 2 Esdras 8, where the question is discussed, and where it is assumed that few only will be saved, “The most High hath made this world for many, but the world to come for few” (Luke 8:1). “There are many more of them which perish than of them which shall be saved; like as a wave is greater than a drop” (Luke 9:15-16). “Let the multitude perish then” (id. 22). Part, at least, of the Book of Esdras is probably post-Christian.

οἱ σωζόμενοι. Literally, ‘who are being saved,’ i.e. who are in the way of salvation. The same word occurs in Acts 2:47, and is the opposite to ἀπολλύμενοι, ‘those that are perishing,’ 1 Corinthians 1:18; 2 Corinthians 2:15.

Verse 24

24. πρὸς αὐτούς. He does not directly answer the individual questioner, but lays down a general principle for the benefit of all.

ἀγωνίζεσθε. The word implies the strong efforts of a contest. 1 Timothy 6:12.

διὰ τῆς στενῆς θύρας. ‘Through the narrow door’; reading θύρας (א BDL) for πύλης. Matthew 7:13. The “strait” of the A.V[280] meant ‘narrow’ (from strictus). We find the same conception—derived from Scripture—in the Mahometan notion of the arch of Al Seirat, narrow as a razor’s edge, over which the good pass into Paradise; and in 2 Esdras 7:7, “The entrance [of the city] is narrow, and is set in a dangerous place to fall, like as if there were a fire on the right hand, and on the left a deep water.”

ζητήσουσιν εἰσελθεῖν καὶ οὐκ ἰσχύσουσιν. They shall fail because they only seek and do not strive, nor do they look for the narrow door. They wish for heaven, but will not abandon earth. Sometimes also because they seek too late (Proverbs 1:28-29; Isaiah 1:15; John 7:34; Hebrews 12:17), but mainly because they seek to enter through other ways by which there is no entrance, since Christ is the only door (John 10:7; John 14:6).

Verse 25

25. ἔξω ἑστάναι καὶ κρούειν τὴν θύραν. Matthew 25:10. That the first application of the warning was to Jews who relied on their privileges appears from the fact that the excluded class are not poor sinners, but self-righteous Pharisees who claim entrance as their right.

Κύριε ἄνοιξον ἡμῖν. Matthew 7:22-23.

Verse 26

26. τότε ἄρξεσθε λέγειν. The fut. following the aor. subj. (ἄρξησθε) indicates the persistence of the attempts; but all excuse shall be cut short at once, Luke 3:8.

ἐν ταῖς πλατείαις ἡμῶν ἐδίδαξας. Here again (see Luke 13:28) we see how our Lord discouraged all notions of any advantage derived from fleshly privileges, or even from proximity to Himself. Romans 2:17-20.

Verse 27

27. οὐκ οἶδα ὑμᾶςἀπόστητε ἀπ' ἐμοῦ πάντες ἐργάται ἀδικίας. ‘You think yourselves safe as children of Abraham, but I know not whence you are.’ 2 Timothy 2:19, “The foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are His. And, Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity.”

Verse 28

28. ἐκεῖ. This is explained by Euthymius to mean then (ἐν ἐκείνῳ τῷ καιρῷ), just as in Acts 13:21 κἀκεῖθεν means “and from that time.” It is better however to understand it to mean ‘depart to the place where’ (by brachylogy).

ὁ κλαυθμὸς καὶ ὁ βρυγμὸς τῶν ὀδόντων. The signs respectively of anguish and of rage (Acts 7:54).

Ἀβραὰμ καὶ Ἰσαὰκ καὶ Ἰακώβ. Marcion, always anxious to disown the Old Testament, altered this into πάντας τοὺς δικαίους.

Verse 29

29. ἥξουσιν ἀπὸ ἀνατολῶν καὶ δυσμῶν καὶ βορρᾶ καὶ νότου. There is an obvious reference to Isaiah 49:12; Isaiah 45:6. Nothing more furiously excited the envy of the Jews than the free admission of the Gentiles to those privileges of the Kingdom of Heaven (Ephesians 3:6) which they themselves rejected. Romans 11:1-36; Acts 13:44-52.

ἀνακλιθήσονται. ‘Shall recline at banquet,’ Luke 11:37, Luke 14:8, &c.; Mark 6:39. Godet rightly says that the Epistles to the Romans and Galatians are commentaries on these words.

Verse 30

30. καὶ ἰδού. The phrase sometimes implies ‘strange as you may think it.’ It occurs 23 times in St Matthew , 16 in St Luke; but not in St Mark.

εἰσὶν ἔσχατοι οἳ ἔσονται πρῶτοι. Our Lord used this proverbial expression more than once. Matthew 19:30. It had, besides its universal truthfulness, a special bearing on His own time. “The publicans and the harlots go into the Kingdom of God before you,” Matthew 21:31. “The Gentiles, which followed not after righteousness, have attained to righteousness,” Romans 9:30.

“There above (on earth)

How many hold themselves for mighty kings,

Who here like swine shall wallow in the mire,

Leaving behind them horrible dispraise.”

DANTE, Inferno.

Verse 31

31. ἐν αὐτῇ τῇ ὥρᾳ. In that very hour (א ADL, &c.).

ἔξελθε καὶ πορεύου ἐντεῦθεν. These Pharisees were as eager as the Gadarenes to get rid of Jesus; but whether this was their sole motive or whether they further wished to separate Him from the multitudes who as yet protected His life, and to put Him in the power of the Sadducean hierarchy, is not clear. That their solicitude for His safety was purely hypocritical appears in the tone of our Lord’s answer, which is yet far more merciful than that in which the prophet Amos had answered a similar message from an analogous quarter. Amos 7:12-17.

θέλει σε ἀποκτεῖναι. ‘Wills to kill thee.’ The assertion was probably quite untrue. Herod had not even wished to kill John, but had done so with great reluctance, and had been deeply troubled in conscience ever since. He did indeed wish to see Christ, but it was with the very different desire of “seeing some miracle done by Him” (Luke 23:8).

Verses 31-35


Verse 32

32. τῇ ἀλώπεκι ταύτῃ. ‘This she-fox,’ as though Christ saw him actually present, or identified his fox-like nature with that which the Pharisees were now displaying. The fact that the word is feminine may be only due to its being generic. The fox was among the ancients, as well as among the moderns, the type of knavish craftiness and covert attack (comp. ἀλωπεκίζω, Ar. Vesp. 1241, and Ajax calls Odysseus a fox, κίναδος). This is the only word of unmitigated contempt (as distinguished from rebuke and scorn) recorded among the utterances of Christ, and it was more than justified by the mingled tyranny and timidity, insolence and baseness of Herod Antipas—a half-Samaritan, half-Idumaean tetrarch, who, professing Judaism, lived in heathen practices, and governed by the grace of Caesar and the help of alien mercenaries; who had murdered the greatest of the Prophets to gratify a dancing wanton; and who was living at that moment in an adultery doubly-incestuous with a woman of whom he had treacherously robbed his brother while he was his guest.

σήμερον καὶ αὔριον. It is probable that these expressions are general (as in Hosea 6:2). They mean ‘I shall stay in Herod’s dominions with perfect security for a brief while longer till my work is done.’ It must be remembered that Peraea was in the tetrarchate of Herod, so that this incident may have occurred during the slow and solemn progress towards Jerusalem.

τῇ τρίτῃ τελειοῦμαι. Vulg[281] It[282] consummor. The verb has been variously rendered and explained. Bleek makes it mean ‘I shall end’ (my work in Galilee); Godet, ‘I am being perfected,’ in the sense of ‘I shall arrive at the destined end of my work’; Resch, ‘I complete my work’ by one crowning miracle (John 11:40-44). This solemn meaning best accords with other usages of the word, e.g. in the cry from the Cross τετέλεσται, ‘It is finished’ (John 19:30). See too Hebrews 5:9; Hebrews 11:40. τελείωσις became an ecclesiastical term for ‘martyrdom.’

Verse 33

33. δεῖ μεπορεύεσθαι. ‘I must journey’; the same word as in Luke 13:31, “depart.” It seems to imply, ‘I will not leave Herod’s dominions, but I shall journey on at my own leisure through them.’

οὐκ ἐνδέχεται, i.e. there is a moral unfitness in the murder of a Prophet anywhere but in Jerusalem. The words are those of terrible irony; and yet, even amid the irony, the voice of the Speaker seemed to break with tears as He uttered the tender appeal of the next verse.

Verse 34

34. Ἱερουσαλὴμ Ἱερουσαλήμ. The words were perhaps spoken again in the Great Denunciation of the Tuesday in Passion Week, Matthew 23:37. It is noticeable that the form Ἱερουσαλήμ is always used by St Luke (26 times) except in 3 places. The other Synoptists always use Ἱεροσόλυμα except in Matthew 23:37. No certain conclusion can be built on this, for St Paul uses both forms in the same Epistle (Galatians 1:17; Galatians 4:25).

ἡ ἀποκτείνουσα τοὺς προφήτας. “It was full of judgment; righteousness lodged in it; but now murderers” (Isaiah 1:21). See Luke 11:47, Luke 20:14; Matthew 23:34; 2 Esdras 1:32, “I sent unto you my servants the prophets whom ye have taken and slain, and torn their bodies in pieces, whose blood I will require of your hands, saith the Lord.”

ποσάκις. This, like other passages in the Synoptists, implies more frequent visits to Jerusalem than they actually record.

δν τρόπον ὄρνις τὴν ἑαυτῆς νοσσιὰν ὑπὸ τὰς πτέρυγας (ἐπισυνάγει). A metaphor still more tender and appealing than that of the eagle which “stirreth up her nest, fluttereth over her young, spreadeth abroad her wings, taketh them, beareth them on her wings” of Deuteronomy 32:11-12.

οὐκ ἠθελήσατε. ‘Ye willed it not’ though ‘I willed it.’ The words indicate “the sad privilege which man possesses of resisting the most serious influences of grace.”

Verse 35

35. ἰδοὺ ἀφίεται ὑμῖν ὁ οἶκος ὑμῶν. The authenticity of the word ἔρημος (‘desolate’) is very doubtful, as it is omitted in א ABKL, &c. The words therefore mean ‘The Shechinah has vanished from you now (Ezekiel 10:19; Ezekiel 11:23). The house is now yours, not God’s; and because yours therefore a cave of brigands.’ If the word ἔρημος be genuine, it may allude to Daniel 9:27 and “the desolating wing of abomination,” as well as to other prophecies, Leviticus 26:31; Micah 3:12; Isaiah 5:5-6. There is a remarkable parallel in 2 Esdras 1:30-33, “I gathered you together as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings: but now, what shall I do unto you? I will cast you out from my face.… Thus saith the Almighty Lord, your house is desolate, I will cast you out as the wind doth stubble.”

οὐ μὴ ἴδητέ με. “Their senses are still blinded. The veil of the Talmud that hangs over their eyes is twice as heavy as the veil of Moses.” Van Oosterzee.

ἕως ἥξει ὅτε εἴπητε. Quando dixeritis. ὅτε with the subj. without ἂν is a frequent Homeric idiom, though hardly found in Attic prose. It implies the event apart from all supposition. (See Winer, p. 372.). If the reading be ἕως ἂν ἥξῃ it implies that the time would come, though none could say (ἂν) when it should come. It is a most frivolous interpretation of these words to make them merely refer to the Hosannas of Palm Sunday (Luke 19:38) as though they meant, ‘I shall not visit Jerusalem till the day of my humble triumph.’ They clearly refer to the future and final penitence of Israel. The ‘perfecting’ of Jesus would be His death, and then once again He would return as “the Coming One.” Hosea 3:4-5; Psalms 118:26. Here, as in so many other stern passages of Scripture, in the Valley of Achor is opened a door of Hope, for the phrase implies ‘till the time comes as come it will’ (Zechariah 12; Romans 11).


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Bibliography Information
"Commentary on Luke 13:4". "Cambridge Greek Testament for Schools and Colleges". 1896.

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