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Bible Commentaries

Lange's Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical

Luke 20

 

 

Verses 1-19

B. Controversial Discourses against His Enemies.

Luke 20

1. The Closing Controversy with the Pharisees and the Chief of the People concerning the Authority of Jesus ( Luke 20:1-19)

(In part parallel with Matthew 21:23-27; Matthew 21:33-46; Mark 11:27-33; Mark 12:1-12.)

1And it came to pass, that on one of those[FN1] days, as he taught the people in the temple, and preached the gospel, the chief priests [the priests[FN2]] and the scribes came upon him with the elders, 2And spake unto him, saying, Tell us, by what authority doest thou these things? or who is he that gave thee this authority? 3And he answered and said unto them, I will also ask you one[FN3] thing, and answer me: 4The baptism of John, was it from heaven, or of men? 5And they reasoned with themselves, saying, If we 6 shall say, From heaven, he will say, Why then believed ye him not? But and [om, and] if we say, Of men; all the people will stone us: for they be persuaded [are convinced]that John was a prophet 7 And they answered, that they could not tell whence it was. 8And Jesus said unto them, Neither tell I you by what authority I do these things 9 Then began he to speak to the people this parable; A certain [om, certain[FN4]] man planted a vineyard, and let it forth to husbandmen, and went into a far country10[went abroad] for a long time. And at the season he sent a servant to the husbandmen, that they should give him of the fruit of the vineyard: but the husbandmen beat him, and sent him away empty 11 And again he sent [lit, he added to send[FN5]] another servant: and they beat him also, and entreated [treated] him shamefully, and sent him away empty 12 And again he sent a third: and they wounded him also, and cast him out 13 Then said the lord of the vineyard, What shall I do? I will send my beloved son: it may be they will reverence him when they see him 14 But when the husbandmen saw him, they reasoned among themselves, saying, This is the heir: come [om, come[FN6]], let us kill him, that the inheritance may be ours 15 So they cast him out of the vineyard, and killed him. What therefore shall the lord of the vineyard do unto them? 16He shall come and destroy these husbandmen, and shall give the vineyard to others.And when they heard it, they said, God forbid [Let it not be, μὴ γένοιτο]. 17And he beheld [looked upon] them, and said, What is this then that is written, The stone which the builders rejected, the same [this] is become the head of the corner? ( Psalm 118:22.) 18Whosoever shall fall upon that stone shall be broken [dashed to pieces]; but [and] on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder 19 And the chief priests and the scribes[FN7] the same hour sought to lay hands on him; and they feared the people: for they perceived that he had spoken this parable against them.

EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL

Luke 20:1. On one of those days.—General designation of the point of time, as about the same at which the entry of Jesus into Jerusalem and the temple-cleansing had taken place. From the comparison with Matthew and Mark, it appears that we have particularly to understand the last Tuesday. The cursing of the fig-tree is passed over by Luke, but the image of the fig-tree of Israel itself, with beautiful leaves but without any fruit, and already in process of decay, is represented by him in a striking manner in the delineation of the last controversy of our Lord with the Israelitish fathers. Although Luke in this connection entirely passes over two chief elements: the parable of the Two Sons, Matthew 21:28-32, and that of the Royal Wedding, Matthew 22:1-14 (the last-named parable he apparently does not give, because he had already, Luke 14:16-24, noted down a similar one), yet we can with his help very easily sketch a vivid image of the history of this most remarkable day. Like Matthew and Mark, he also makes us acquainted with the external intercourse of our Lord with His enemies during the last days of His life, while John, who passes over the controversial discourses, relates the history of the inner life of the Master in the circle of His apostles in these last days. All which is related Luke 20. took place within the walls of the temple, while the Saviour was teaching the people there, and (a peculiar, genuinely Pauline addition of Luke) was preaching the Gospel.

Came upon Him, ἐπέστησαν, comp. Luke 2:38; Acts 4:1.—Not the suddenness and unexpectedness, but the deliberateness and greater or less solemnity, in the appearance of these men is hereby indicated. It is a well-organized deputation, and one chosen, undoubtedly not without reflection, from the Sanhedrim, whose different elements are therein carefully represented.—Although they do not say that they speak in the name of the whole council, yet in view of the well-known hostile disposition of the great majority of this towards our Lord, we may confidently presuppose this, and so far compare this embassy with a similar one which at the beginning of the public life of Jesus had been sent to John; John 1:19-28. Perhaps the observation of this agreement in form had even some influence on the answer of our Lord. The chief authority in Israel was undoubtedly fully entitled to institute a careful investigation respecting the authority of all teachers publicly appearing, and our Lord, inasmuch as He submits to be questioned, shows that He recognizes the theocratic dignity of the speakers, and is not disinclined to answer, at least under certain reasonable conditions, to the fulfilment of which, however, they, as soon appears, have not made up their minds. The very fact that now for the first time do they come with such a question to Jesus, after He had performed so many indubitable miracles, and after a truth-loving Nicodemus had already, two years earlier, in faith on our Lord’s divine mission, come to Him,—even this testifies against them, and makes an almost comical impression.

Luke 20:2. Tell us.—Therewith do they open the series of ensnaring questions which are laid before the Lord on this day. “These controversial discourses are very especially genuine portions, because they are held so entirely in the spirit and tone of the contemporaneous Rabbinical dialectics.” (Strauss.) Already, previously to this, more than one attempt had been made to take our Lord in His own words; but now it takes place in an intensified degree, with yet more deliberation, in a more refined way, and with united force. The work of enmity was at the same time a trial, since it was expected of the Messiah that He should know all things ( John 4:25; John 16:30). It was natural, therefore, that they should surround Him who appeared in this exalted character with a net of fine-spun questions. In the firm hope that they should leave the field victorious, the Pharisees do not lose an instant publicly to interpellate the Lord.

By what authority.—The two questions do not express the same thing in different words (De Wette), but are rather to be thus distinguished: that the first member of the interrogation is designed to elicit an explanation as to the heavenly mission; the other, τίς, κ.τ.λ., the statement what messenger of God has mediately consecrated Him to this activity. Ταῦτα refers here not only to a single transaction of the Lord, the temple-cleansing (Meyer), but to the whole unfolding of His superiority and authority in the temple during the days last preceding this, something which, according to their opinion, could in no wise be legitimate.

Luke 20:4. The baptism of John.—Here specially set forth as the centre and summary of His whole activity. Our Lord by no means declines the strife, and this very fact, that He answers with a counter-question, testifies of His heavenly wisdom. It must now be made manifest whether they, with their competency for questioning, were also capable of hearing the right answer, and this He could only assume of them if they showed themselves in a truth-loving character. It is not arbitrary that He answers them precisely with this counter-question; Hebrews, who had never separated His activity from that of His forerunner, could not tell them who had bestowed on Him His authority so long as they, as representatives of the people, had not definitely declared their opinion respecting John. If they recognize the divine mission of the Baptist, who had not even done miracles, they will be obliged to esteem His own even much more. If they reject the first mission, they deserve the reproach of not being competent to judge respecting the authority of Jesus. If they keep silence, then the incontestable right will belong to Him to send them also away unsatisfied. At all events, He can now wait with the utmost composure to observe what position they will take.

Luke 20:5. And they reasoned.—They retire an instant, and make the matter an object not of an individual but of a common deliberation (συνελογίσαντο). It is plainly to be seen in them that they have never made the question proposed an object of earnest consideration, and now, too, are only concerned about withdrawing themselves with honor from the strife. All the Synoptics direct our attention to their deliberation, which took place in the midst of the temple, amid visible suspense, and must inevitably have soon come to the ears of many. Noticeable with this is the testimony wrung from them, that among the people the belief in the prophetic character of the Baptist was spread abroad on all sides. According to Luke and Mark, they still speak of λαός, yet undoubtedly in the sense of ὄχλος, as Mark writes it. Comp. John 7:49.—Stone, κατα λιθάσει, peculiar to Luke. Perhaps a later form of the tradition (Meyer), but yet quite as probably the original pregnant form in which they express the fear of which Matthew and Mark speak. “Non erat populi, sacerdotes et scribas, prophetam quamlibet verum rejicientes, lapidare: sed sœpe etiam pervertum multitudinis studium per accidens subservit bonœ causœ.” Bengel.

Luke 20:7. That they could not tell whence.—Doubly painful to them is this declaration, if we compare it with the endless οί̓δαμεν, which they elsewhere, e. g., John 9:24-34, caused to be heard. Luke has only the indirect form of the answer, which they, without doubt, gave as briefly and indefinitely as was at all possible. But the most terrible for them is that the Lord has by this answer gained the right to the decided counter-declaration: Neither tell I you, &c.—Now, both are silent: but Hebrews, because He on good grounds will not speak; they, because they through their own fault cannot speak; and among the people present as witnesses, there is no one who could seriously doubt which of the two parties leaves the field victorious.

Luke 20:9. To the people.—According to Matthew and Mark, this parable is addressed to the Pharisees and elders themselves, to whom, at all events, it maintains a very definite reference, while Luke makes the Saviour speak πρὸς τὸν λαόν. The two statements, however, do not contradict each other; for according to Luke, also, Luke 20:19, the scribes and Pharisees are chief persons among the hearers of our Saviour, and according to Matthew and Mark, also, He speaks in a place and in a circle which makes it a priori probable that He is heard not only by them, but also by the people. The μὴ γένοιτο, also, which Luke alone has, fits only in the mouth of the chief priests, who certainly perceived more quickly than many others the intention of the parable. The course of the facts appears to have been this: our Lord, after the answer, Luke 20:8, leaves the Pharisees to themselves, and turns Himself to the more receptive people, yet so that the first interrogators, who bad not immediately departed, hear His instruction also, and are forced to make the application to themselves. It is not enough for our Lord to have repelled the attack. He pursues the retreating enemy, and will have them mark how it stands with all their pretended ignorance ( Matthew 21:28-32). When He has in this way unmasked-their hypocrisy, He now brings also their guilt to light; and after He has put them below the most despised of the Jews ( Matthew 21:31), He now gives them to see how their rejection of the Messiah will lead to the bringing in of the Gentiles.

A vineyard.—A favorite figure for the Israelitish people. See Isaiah 5:1-6; Psalm 80, and elsewhere. Comp. Lange on the parallels in Matthew and Mark, and the dissertation of Ruprecht and Stephensen in the Stud. u. Krit. 1847–1848.

Luke 20:10. At the season.—Intimation of the period in which the proper prophetic activity began in Israel, which, as is known, was a considerable time after the founding of the Theocratic state, so that, using still the image of the parable, we may say that the fruits had had abundant time to come to maturity. The wine-press and the tower, Luke omits. That it is untenable by these two objects to understand the Mosaic law and the temple (Euthym, Theophylact, Calvin, Melanchthon, and others), appears from this: that afterwards the vineyard, undoubtedly including the wine-press and the tower, is given to the Gentiles.

A servant.—Here, also, the different Evangelists do not belie their peculiarity. Matthew speaks, according to his custom, of servants and other servants, Mark and Luke individualize; the former mentions, besides the three whom Luke also has, many others, Luke 12:5; the second has none of the three servants, however severely otherwise they are maltreated, suffer death, apparently to preserve so much better the climax in the delineation of the wickedness which at last destroys the lawful heir. According to all three, the husbandmen began at once with evil, but end with acts of deeper wickedness, without out having, at the mention of any particular maltreatment, to think exclusively also of some one definite person.

Luke 20:13. What shall I do?—Matthew and Mark relate the act of the supreme love; Luke brings before us the lord of the vineyard in soliloquy, in order to place the act of love in yet clearer light. His Song of Solomon, the beloved, will he send to the unthankful ones, not in the silent hope that they would perhaps yet reverence him, but in the well-warranted expectation that their wickedness at least would not go so far as to assail him also. “Perchance, with which, even in our language, one does not of necessity express a doubt, but may express his expectation.” Meyer.

Luke 20:14. When the husbandmen saw him.—An evident allusion to the τοῦτον ἰδόντες of the lord of the vineyard, Luke 20:13. The sight which according to his expectation was to fill them with reverence, is precisely that which awakens in their heart the most hideous plans of murder. The last touch, that the inheritance may be ours, is by no means added merely for ornament, but intimates that in the murder of the Messiah, the most shameless self-seeking revealed itself. Almost in the same way did it express itself through the mouth of Caiaphas, in the familiar votum, John 11:50; moreover, the coincidence with Genesis 37:19-20, is striking.

Luke 20:15. Out of the vineyard.—A striking prophecy of the crucifixion outside of the city. Comp. Hebrews 13:12-13.

Luke 20:16. He shall come.—According to Matthew, they are themselves forced to pronounce the judgment, which, according to Mark and Luke, is uttered by Jesus. Perhaps the matter may be thus reconciled: that some are in this way their own Judges, while others, terrified at this utterance, which was viewed as a malum omen, let the μὴ γένοιτο escape their lips. Even if one should assume here a little variation in the tradition, the fact would not suffer in the least thereby. The common result of all the accounts is this: that the Pharisees were confounded, and comprehended very well the meaning of our Lord.

Luke 20:17. ̓Εμβλέψας.—Here also, as often, e. g., Luke 22:61, an intimation of the piercing and eloquent look of our Lord.—What is this, then?—He will thereby give them to understand that if they were right in their deprecation, the prophecy of the Scripture would not be fulfilled, which yet is an absolute impossibility. Comp. Matthew 26:54.

The stone.—Comp. Psalm 118:22-23. This Psalm, which Luther esteemed so highly above many others, was probably composed in the later period of the Old Testament, when, after hinderances for long years, the temple-service in the purified sanctuary was again erected. To attribute to this jubilant hymn a direct Messianic signification is forbidden, as well by the connection as by the context; but the humiliation or exaltation, whether of Israel or of the sanctuary, which is celebrated in this passage, serves the Saviour for a type and symbol of His own. What was there originally said in another sense is fulfilled in its highest power[FN8] at the rejection of the Messiah.

Luke 20:18. Whosoever.—Instead of the continuation of the citation, “This is the Lord’s doing,” Luke has this threatening warning of our Lord, which is omitted by Tischendorf, Matthew 21:44. Comp. Lange ad loc. “Cadere super Christum dicuntur, qui ad eum opprimendum ruunt, non quod ipso altius conscendunt, sed quia eo usque abripit eos sua insania, ut Christum quasi e sublimi impetere conentur.” Calvin.

Luke 20:19. The chief priests and the scribes … sought.—Comp. Matthew 21:45-46. A statement which is here the more remarkable since it serves as a proof that the increasing bitterness of His enemies did not proceed from misunderstanding in reference to the discourses of our Lord, but on the contrary from the fact that they understood them only too well, and felt themselves thereby mortally wounded and outraged. The more light there was before their eyes, so much the more hatred in their hearts. We see they are in the way which at last leads to the commission of the sin against the Holy Ghost. Fear associates itself with hatred (καί not oppositive, but purely copulative), but at the same time is the reason why they cannot yet immediately do all that they wish.—Πρὸς αὐτ. Comp. Luke 20:9. They see now themselves that the people were indeed the auditors, but not the chief characters of the parable. Their conscience admonishes them that “mutato nomine, de te fabula narratur.”

DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL

1. Compare the parallel in Matthew and Mark.

2. The hard-heartedness of the enemies of Jesus is quite as conspicuously visible from their own behavior as from the parable of our Lord. Even the holiness of the temple does not withhold them from laying for Him their fatal snares. And yet more hideous does their behavior become by assuming the disguise of a deep earnestness, while they have beforehand resolved not to allow themselves to be persuaded at any price. Yet there is something tragical in the terrible blindness with which they, in the same moment at which they prove that they understand only too well the parable of the Wicked Husbandmen, prepare themselves to fulfil this prophecy also, and reject the stone that shall soon crush them.

3. This whole hour in the last week of the public life of Jesus may be called a continuous temple-cleansing, in fact. What He had first done with the scourge of small cords, He now continues to do with the sword of His mouth; He sweeps the enemy away from before His face, thus also cleansing the sanctuary. The method in which He here constrains His enemies first to pass judgment on themselves and then to be dumb, is at the same time a prophecy of that which at the day of His coming shall be repeated in yet greater measure.

4. While in the parable Matthew 13the idea of the kingdom of God stands in the foreground, on the other hand, in this, with which our Lord closes His work as Prophet and Teacher, the image of the King Himself begins to come forward ever more clearly and plainly. The manner in which He here at the same time testifies of Himself as of the Only and Beloved Son of the Father, who is distinguished from all former messengers of God by descent and rank, draws our attention to one of the points of contact between the Synoptical and the Johannean Christology.

5. Only by an entire misunderstanding in reference to the design of our Lord, would it be possible from the words: “Perhaps they will reverence my Song of Solomon,” to draw such a conclusion as that God sent His Son not with the distinct purpose that He should suffer and die, but that He on the contrary seriously expected that His Son would find a better reception than His former servants. Our Lord simply intimates what God might have been able and entitled to expect, if the Omniscient One had really been in everything like the human lord of the vineyard. Κατ ̓ ά̓νθρωπον therefore the terrible and almost inconceivable character of the rejection of the Messiah is yet more strongly thrown into the foreground. Calvin has already hit the mark in writing on this passage: “Hœc quidem cogitatio proprie in Deum non convenit, sciebat enim, quid futurum esset, nec spe melioris eventus deceptus fuit, sed usitatum Esther, prœsertim in parabolis, ad eum transferri humanos affectus. Neque tamen hoc abs re additum Esther, quia volwit Christus tanquam in speculo reprœsentare, quam deplorata esset illorum impietas, cujus hoc nimis certum fuit examen, contra Dei filium, qui ipsos ad sanam mentem revocaturus venerat, diabolico furore insurgere. Hic scelerum omnium cumulus fuit, filium interficere, ut regnarent quasi in orbata domo, etc. conf. Acts 4, 27, 28.”

6. The work of grace performed on Israel, the enmity shown by it, and the punishment threatened against it, that the kingdom of God should be given to other nations,—all this is repeated in continually greater measure again in the days of the New Covenant, since the Theocracy has become a Christocracy We may call to mind, for instance, some of the churches of Asia Minor, whose light of old stood so high upon the candlestick.

7. “Whoever shall fall upon this stone,” &c. The two members of this threatening sentence contain by no means, as might indeed appear at first glance, a weak tautology, but a portrayal of the different fates which the enemies of the Lord have to expect; first from the rejected and after that from the elevated corner-stone. Whoever falls upon this stone, that is the one who takes offence at the yet humiliated Saviour, to whom the rejected building-stone is a λίθος προσκόμματος. Thereupon falls the judgment of retribution: συνθλασθήσεται; for instance, as with Judas, the impenitent thief on the cross, and others. In spite of the offence taken, the Lord is elevated aloft—lifted to be the corner-stone; but he now upon whom the elevated stone falls is crushed to pieces like chaff (Gr. λικμήσει αὐτόν). In other words, when the glorified Christ comes again to judgment, the most terrible judgment comes upon His enemies. In order to understand the pregnant saying in its whole force, we must compare not only Psalm 118:22-23, but also Isaiah 8:14-15; Isaiah 28:16; Daniel 2:44-45. From the visible predilection with which the same image is often brought up and carried out by the Apostle Peter, in his discourses and epistles, we may perhaps draw an inference as to the deep personal impression which this declaration of our Lord, in particular, made upon the faithful disciple.

8. The hatred, the intensifying of which we have become aware of among the Pharisees, after their having understood and known the truth, discovers to us one of the depths of Satan in sinful hearts, and is surely fitted to open the eyes even of such as in well-meaning Pelagian superficiality view sin only as a weakness, exaggerated sensuality, and the like. If it has ever become plain that no faith of the heart is conceivable without the will being bowed, and that at the same time for the bowing of this will a power from above is indispensable, if even the Lord’s own word is to make its way to the soul; this was true with these first enemies of the truth, who are at once the type and forerunners of so many later ones.

HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL

After the accomplishment of the temple-cleansing the Lord remained behind as Victor upon the field.—After He has administered the law, He continues with the preaching of the Gospel.—The apparently very necessary and yet, in truth, entirely superfluous question of the Pharisees.—The use and misuse of the tongue.—How in the enemies of David delineated Psalm 11and elsewhere, the portrait of the enemies of our Lord is vividly drawn.—The ever-continuing disquiet of the wicked.—If the Lord’s enemies cannot even answer one question, how will it be when He lays a thousand questions before them? Job 9:3.—The Divine mission of John is acknowledged and vindicated by our Lord, even to the end.—Even yet he who does not believe and understand John, is unauthorized and incompetent to judge fittingly concerning our Lord.—The untenableness of the position of those who will remain disciples of John brought to light by our Lord.—Where calculations come into play, no grounds of reason can help.—The insecurity of the position a tutiori.—The people not seldom nearer the truth than their spiritual guides.—The silence of the Lord already a beginning of the judgment.—Right must after all remain right, and that will all pious hearts follow; Psalm 94.—The enemies wish to have the people see Jesus defeated, our Lord makes them the witnesses of His victory and of His retribution.—The parable of the Unthankful Husbandmen an echo of the song of the vineyard, Isaiah 5:1-7.—The history of centuries told in a few minutes.—God’s way and counsel with Israel misunderstood and contemned by Israel: 1. The gracious election, Luke 20:9; Luke 2. the long work of grace, Luke 20:10-11; Luke 3. the fulness of the time, Luke 20:13; Luke 4. the most hideous crime, Luke 20:14-15; Luke 5. the righteous punishment, Luke 20:16-18; Luke 6. the curse turned into blessing (the other husbandmen), Luke 20:15.—The manifoldness of form, in which hatred against Divine things has of old revealed itself, and even yet continually reveals itself.—The fearful climax of sin.—The riches of the compassion and long suffering of God despised; Romans 2:4.—The sending of the Son of God: 1. The highest; 2. the last revelation of His grace.—Only when grace has reached the highest degree, can sin reveal itself in its full strength.—God remits nothing of His requirements, even though His messengers are treated with augmenting unthankfulness.—The Son is to be revered! Psalm 2.—“God forbid!”—What is least expected often happens first.—False rest over against threatening judgments.—When the light is not heeded, then may the candlestick be pushed from its place; Revelation 2:5.—The greater the privilege, so much the heavier the responsibility; the more defiant the madness, the deeper the fall.—From our Lord the church may learn with what eye she must view the prophetic Scriptures of the Old Testament.—The history of the Corner-stone: 1. A most ancient; 2. an ever-young history.—The fully-conscious hatred against the truth.—How little unbelief understood the Lord, even where it understood the meaning of His words with perfect correctness.—Behold the goodness and severity of God; Romans 11:22.

Starke:—Nova Bibl. Tub.:—The devil cannot endure the preaching of the Gospel.—How dangerous to be in offices, if one misuses them.—Brentius:—The ungodly are snared at last, by the righteous appointment of God, in the works of their own hands.—Whoever opposes himself to the truth out of wickedness, falls from one lie into another.—Hypocrites suppress the truth by unrighteousness; Romans 1:18.—Osiander:—They who do not give place to the truth, but are only skilled to blaspheme, are not worth disputing with.—Hedinger:—God uses many people and many means to correct men.—Quesnel:—The world may be ever very ill-disposed to hear of the punishment of the ungodly; but it comes for all that, and will be so much the more terrible.—It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.—Brentius:—Truth breeds hatred, it is true; but it has God for its protector.—Heubner:—The world is against abstract truth not so hostile and full of hatred as against the concrete witnesses of the same.—God’s judgments grow ever heavier.—The Jewish people a monument of Divine goodness and of human unthankfulness.—Christ and His enemies: 1. Typified in the Old Testament; 2. fulfilled in the New.—Eylert:—God’s goodness, long-suffering and severity, in the treatment of unthankful and disobedient men.—Zimmermann:—God and Israel.—Lisco:—The relation in which sin and error stand to one another.—Arndt:—The history of Israel the history of mankind in miniature.—Al. Schweizer: —The rebellious husbandmen more particularly considered: 1. In their outrageous conduct; 2. in the judgment which they suffer.—W. Hofacker:—The institution of God’s kingdom in the Old Testament a type worthy to be taken to heart by the children of the New Covenant.—We enter: 1. Upon the theatre of rich Divine blessings; 2. upon a theatre of vile perverseness and blindness; 3. upon the judgment-place of unsparingly punishing righteousness and holiness.

Footnotes:

FN#1 - Luke 20:1.—Ἐκείνων, which is wanting in B, D, [Cod. Sin,] L, Q, and some Cursives, and has been rejected by Lachmann, Tischendorf, [Meyer, Tregelles, Alford,] is perhaps only a spurious addition for the sake of precision.

FN#2 - Luke 20:1.—Ἱερεῖς. The Recepta, ἀρχιερεῖς, appears to be from the parallel [in Mark].

FN#3 - Luke 20:3.—The ἕνα before λόγον of the Recepta is wanting in B, [Cod. Sin,] L, [R,] some Cursives, and is rejected by Griesbach, Lachmann, Tischendorf, [Meyer, Tregelles, Alford. The fact that in some MSS. it is found before and in some after λόγον, adds to the suspicion of its spuriousness.—C. C. S.]

FN#4 - Luke 20:9.—The τις of the Recepta after ἄνθρωπος is decidedly spurious.

FN#5 - Luke 20:11—The Hebrew: הוֹסִיף לְ.—C. C. S.]

FN#6 - Luke 20:14.—Rec.: δεῦτε, ἀποκτ. from Matthew and Mark.

FN#7 - Luke 20:19.—More correctly: “the scribes and the chief priests.” The Recepta has the ordinary arrangement, according to rank, which, however, has not sufficient manuscript support. See Lachmann and Tischendorf.

FN#8 - An arithmetical reference to the powers of roots.—C. C. S.]


Verses 20-26

2. Controversy with the Pharisees and Herodians respecting the Tribute ( Luke 20:20-26)

(Parallels: Matthew 22:15-22; Mark 12:13-17)

20And they watched him, and sent forth spies, which should feign themselves just men,[FN9] that they might take hold of his words [of some word of his[FN10]], that so they might deliver him unto the power and authority[FN11] of the governor 21 And they asked him, saying, Master [Teacher], we know that thou sayest and teachest rightly, neither acceptest thou the person of any [or, showest no partiality], but teachest the way of God22,truly: Is it lawful for us to give tribute unto Cesar, or no [not]? 23But he perceived their craftiness, and said unto them, Why tempt ye me? [FN12] 24Shew me a penny [a denarius]. Whose image and superscription hath it? They answered and said, Cesar’s 25 And he said unto them, Render therefore [Then render] unto Cesar the things which be [are] Cesar’s, and unto God the things which be [are] God’s 26 And they could not take hold of his words [saying] before the people: and they marvelled at his answer, and held their peace.

EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL

Luke 20:20. And they watched Him.—After the defeat just suffered, nothing is more natural than that the Pharisees should look around partly for other confederates and partly for other weapons. While they before sought in vain to make their authority weigh, they now take refuge in craft, and after old combatants for the law have been put to shame and obliged to leave the field vanquished, now new and, in great part, vigorous picked troops are despatched. While, after what has just taken place, the Pharisees remain standing on the watch (παρατηρήσαντες), they send the Herodians to Jesus (see Lange on Matthew 22:15), together with some of their disciples ( Matthew 22:16). Even earlier we have met with a similar temporary coalition of heterogeneous forces ( Mark 2:18; Luke 23:5-17); later on, we shall find the same in yet greater measure. Moreover, it is easily comprehensible that two enemies should give up their mutual hatred for a while, when the concern is to strive against a dangerous third. Equally explicable is the change in the choice of the weapons. After the open defeat they pass over to a more concealed manner of waging war. A new disappointment will then be less ignominious, the ardently desired triumph not less advantageous. They choose, therefore, ambassadors who, as people strict in the law, must put on the guise of being concerned with a personal question of conscience, as if they were by no means set on by others to come to Him, and who must seek to accomplish their object through flattering speeches.

To the power and authority of the governor.—A statement of the purpose peculiar to Luke, which, however, is probable on internal grounds also. They wish to bring matters to this pass, that the civil power shall lend them its hand to remove this man out of the way, against whom the spiritual authority has in vain armed itself. Upon this support they reckon definitely in case He gives to the question proposed, as is expected, a negative answer, in order to please the people, with whom He now appears to be making common cause against their own rulers, Luke 20:9. If Hebrews, on the other hand, espouses the party of the foreign oppressors, He would thereby lose all His credit with this same people. After such a mature deliberation they came forward, like Satan, as angels of light, 2 Corinthians 11:14.

Luke 20:21. Teacher, we know.—There is something naïve and at the same time a proof of the incorrigible self-conceit of the Pharisaical party in this, that they even now, after the elders of the people had just before, Luke 20:7, seen themselves constrained to a public confession of their ignorance, begin with a presumptuous “We know.” The purpose of this eulogy Isaiah, as to the rest, intelligible enough. “In thee,” do they mean, “we believe we meet with exactly that independent Prayer of Manasseh, from whose position our question can be answered with entire impartiality.” That they could scarcely have uttered sharper satire on themselves than by this eulogy on the Saviour does not even remotely occur to them. As to the rest, the question how far they themselves really believed anything of the favorable testimony which they here publicly depose in reference to our Lord, can only be answered conjecturally.—Showest no partiality.—Literally, “Acceptest not the person (the countenance),” οὐ λαμβάνεις πρόσωπον, comp. Galatians 2:6, yet stronger than the οὐ βλέπεις εἰς πρόσωπον in the parallel, and a definite designation of judicial impartiality.

Luke 20:22. Is it lawful for us.—For the emphatical and most categorical form of the question, see Mark. Luke uses the Greek word θόρον δοῦναι, while the others make use of the Latin κῆνσον: “Poll and ground taxes, to be distinguished from τέλος, the indirect taxes (on goods).” Meyer. The question has its peculiar difficulty. It appeared to be forbidden, Deuteronomy 17:15, for a stranger to rule over Israel, as was now the case. The malcontents, with Judas Galilæus at their head, who would have no other taxes paid than the temple-taxes, stood, therefore, apparently upon the ground of the Scripture. But if Jesus declared their principle valid, He would oppose Himself to the order of things that had now been induced under higher guidance, and would come into personal conflict with the civil power, with that of the Procurator.

Luke 20:23. Perceived their craftiness, κατανοήσας.—Still more strongly does Matthew say γνούς, and Mark εἰδώς, by which the immediateness of His knowledge is made prominent, which was by no means the result of a long deliberate reflection. Not to gain time, does He desire that a denarius should be shown Him. With the inquiry, Whose image and superscription hath it? the question is in effect already decided. A number of Rabbinical declarations, for more particular explanation of the immutable principle, “He whose coin is current is lord of the land,” we find in Lightfoot and Wetstein, ad loc.

Luke 20:25. Then render.—The wisdom in the answer becomes first fairly visible if we give heed to the tacit presupposition from which the question had proceeded. “The silly question,” as the Wandsbecker Bote names it not unjustly, could not have arisen in their heart if they had not proceeded from the principle that such a civil transaction was in conflict with a higher religious duty. Our Lord resolves this antagonism in a higher unity, and already distinguishes the political from the religious sphere, while they confound the two jurisdictions. By the receiving of the coin of the Emperor—not the name of Tiberius, but the official title Cœsar, is given, because it is here not a person but a principle that is in question—they had shown that they regarded themselves as his subjects, and they now, therefore, would be inconsistent with themselves if they refused to fulfil the first civil duty towards him. Without expressing the least preference for the Roman dominion, our Lord was yet too well acquainted with the condition and the views of the Jewish nation not to have at once regarded every external essay for the restoration of civil freedom, which as such could not at that time have proceeded from a purely Theocratical, but only from an earthly temper, as mischievous and superfluous. He combated at the same time the opinion that such an obedience was in conflict with religious duties. The denarii were not even received as temple-taxes; the shekel of the sanctuary could therefore, as ever, be paid in addition. Here, therefore, the suum cuique holds good in the higher sense of the word, and they had only to see to it that they fulfilled each part of their double obligation with equal conscientiousness. The admirableness of the answer of our Lord consists, therefore, in this, that He: 1. Shows how the whole alternative in the present condition of things was entirely untenable; that Hebrews, 2. puts to shame before the judgment-seat of their conscience those who had come forward with the pretence of knowledge, since this must have given them plainly enough to know that they had fulfilled befittingly neither the one nor the other half of His double requirement; while Hebrews, 3. utters a principle for all following centuries, by which, on the one hand, the independence, on the other hand, the practically social direction, of the religious life is sufficiently secured. See below.

Luke 20:26. And they could not take hold.—All the Synoptics are careful to speak of the astonishment of the questioners, which, therefore, must have revealed itself in a very visible manner. Luke denotes particularly the completeness of their defeat by this, that they themselves οὐκ ῥῆμα ἐναντίον τον͂ λαοῦ ἐπιλαβέσθαι ί̓σχυσαν. The critical character that this moment would have had for the reputation of our Lord with the people, if He had not succeeded in rending the snare laid, is brought by this intimation to light.—̓Εσίγησαν.—Not only these speakers, but also in and with them the Pharisees, who now venture no further attack. Before their departure they stand there for a moment holding their peace.—A well-known painting of the whole event by Dietrici.

DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL

1.See on the parallel passages in Matthew and Mark, as also above.

2. The principle uttered by our Lord on this occasion, is not in conflict with the way in which He previously expresses Himself to Peter respecting the payment of the temple-tax, Matthew 17:24-27. Here it is a civil, there it is a religious tax that is spoken of; here the rule is established according to which subjects have to conduct themselves with reference to earthly authority; there, on the other hand, the freedom vindicated which the Son may assert for Himself in reference to the house of His Royal Father.

3. The answer of the text has been on one hand judged with considerable disfavor (Gfrörer); on the other hand greeted with warm praise, e. g., by the Wandsbecker Bote: “What a sense there is in all that comes out of His mouth! It seems to me therewith as it does with those boxes where there is one inside of another and another inside of that, &c.” That this praise is not pitched too high, appears plain if we consider how our Lord has here said no word too much, nor yet a word too little, and how His utterance is peculiarly adapted not only to remove for Himself every perplexity and difficulty, but also to hurl back the arrow which they had directed upon Him into their own conscience. Had they at all times given to God the things that were God’s, they would now have had no tribute to pay to a foreign ruler. Therefore, even assuming that there prevailed here a conflict of duties, this had arisen from their own folly. If they give truly to the emperor his own—τὰ τοῦ καίσ. denotes first the coin, but then also, latiori sensu, the civil faithfulness and submission which, as it were, concentrated themselves in the tribute—they would then not so eagerly long to withdraw themselves from the imperial yoke, nor yet to make common cause with its enemies. Thus does our Lord coördinate and subordinate the different duties which in their opinion stood in irreconcilable opposition.

4. To Cœsar the things which are Cœsar’s. By the answer of our Lord the fulfilment of the civil duty actually imposed is partly allowed, partly commanded, partly restrained within sacred limits. It shows plainly that it was not His business to encroach arbitrarily upon social life, comp. Luke 12:14; that even from reverence to God we are to honor the authority appointed by Him; that the duty to the earthly lawgiver may be refused only in the one case when it comes into irreconcilable conflict with the requirements of the heavenly one. The principle here expressed is developed fully in the spirit of our Lord, Acts 4:20; Acts 5:29; Romans 13:1-7; 1 Peter 2:13, and elsewhere; comp. also the writings of the elder apologists, and Calvin’s Preface to his Institutes, &c. The Divine right to govern Isaiah, therefore, taken by our Lord and His first witnesses under their protection as definitely as the freedom of conscience, and political absolutism is as far from finding a support in His word as radicalism or the diseased craving for revolution. The independence of the church and of the state within the sphere appointed to each, is assured by the principle here uttered, and every essay towards the untimely absorption of the one in the other condemned, as in conflict with the spirit of the gospel.

5. To God the things which are God’s.—The general rule, of which the preceding is only the application to a particular sphere. To Cæsar what is his, so far as it is required, but to God thyself, since thou art created after His image. Only if we assume that this thought hovered before the soul of our Lord, do we learn to understand the depth and beauty of His answer. The soul of man is to Him the coin which originally bore God’s image and superscription (the new birth cannot come here into view), and for this reason belongs wholly to the Heavenly Owner. Not only repentance, therefore (Ebrard), but faith, obedience unconditionally rendered, and faithfulness to God, is here demanded by our Lord. Comp. Proverbs 23:26. Whoever understands this, will even for God and conscience’ sake render to Cæsar also his own, and be thoroughly free, to what earthly lord soever he may owe service and obedience. The τὰτοῦΘεοῦ τψ͂ Θεψ͂ may be called a short summary of all the commandments of the first table, and affords at the same time a new proof how the Son even to the end at every opportunity sought not His own but the Father’s glory.

6. Quesnel:—The image of princes that is stamped upon coins, signifies that temporal things belong to their province. The image of God that is stamped in our soul, teaches that our heart belongs to Him.

HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL

The controversy of the lie against the truth; the triumph of the truth over the lie.—The unnatural coalitions of ecclesiastical and political parties which are in principle opposed.—Craft over against our Lord is as powerless as force.—The end sanctifies the means, a rule that was not first discovered by Ignatius de Loyola.—Even His enemies are constrained to proclaim the praise of our Lord.—The ideal of a perfect teacher, as the Pharisees portrayed it, is to be taken to heart by every servant of the Lord: 1. He teaches the way of God truly; 2. he takes account of no man’s authority; 3. he is in himself true, without depending on any one.—The masters in Israel not the only ones who have remained far below their own ideal.—What in each sphere is permitted and what not, must be made out by Jesus.—The crafty heart lies naked and open in its depths before the Omniscient, Jeremiah 17:10-11.—“Render to Cæsar,” &c, the fundamental law of the kingdom of God, whereby: 1. On the one hand the relation of the Christian to the earth; 2. on the other hand his vocation for heaven, is defined.—Our obligation towards God the natural consequence of our relation to God.—Render to God what is God’s: 1. A simple but very comprehensive requirement; 2. a natural but necessary requirement; 3. a difficult but blessed requirement.—How many are put to shame and condemned by this word of our Lord: 1. There are those who give neither to Cæsar nor to God; 2. to Cæsar indeed, but not to God; 3. to God indeed, but not to Cæsar; 4. as well to God as to Cæsar what is His own, but still too weakly, too slothfully, and too little.—How the impotency of sin is every time revealed anew.—The best tribute have His foes stubbornly refused the Messiah, and therefore with the fullest right paid forced tribute to Cæsar.

Starke:—When an ungodly man makes himself devout, he is worse than bad.—Bibl. Wirt.:—The ungodly continually torment themselves.—Brentius:—To be able to settle their position and unsettle it is a troublesome evil, but the righteous marks it and abominates it.—Nova Bibl. Tub.:—Even the ungodly can tell the truth, and God may use them as instruments for His glory.—The children of the devil have great likeness to their father.—Take time in everything, and answer considerately.—It is a singular wisdom to convict the enemies of the truth by their own words.—Luther:—Fear of God and honor due the king are two fundamental particulars of the Christian religion, which are inseparably united.—Hedinger:—To every one his own, to God obedience, to our neighbor love, to the government its dues, to the devil sin (? rejection).—The spiritual and the secular realm must neither abrogate nor hinder one another.—Brentius:—The Divine truth imposes at the last on all witlings an eternal silence.—Heubner:—The true Christian is to be lifted above political parties.—The true saint inspires a reverence even in his enemies.—The saints are not fools.—The best Christian the best subject.—Of the three systems, the hierarchical, the territorial, and the collegial system, the latter appears to admit best of agreement with this passage.—Fuchs:—Render to God what is God’s: 1. A penitent; 2. believing; 3. patient; 4. obedient heart.—Couard:—The confession of His enemies that Christ teaches the way of God aright obliges us: 1. To receive His doctrine believingly; 2. to follow His doctrine willingly; 3. to work for His doctrine with joyful courage.—Westermeyer:—The right hand of the Lord getteth the victory.

On the Pericope.—Ahlfeld:—The world’s craft shattered against the simplicity of the humble Christian.—Gabler:—What assures us best against the falsehood of the world?—Stier:—Why and how are we as Christians subject to every earthly authority? —Seubert:—The true Christian is also the freest citizen.—Steinmeyer:—In all uncertainties say only: Show me the coin! Look upon it carefully, whose its image and superscription Isaiah, and then render to every one his own. If you are wavering on the Lord’s day, whether you should use it for earthly activity or for participation in the sweet services of the Lord’s house, only look upon the coin; the image and superscription of this day is God’s: He hath hallowed it; therefore must we give Him what is His own, &c.—Arndt:—The repulse of the Pharisees: 1. The rich intelligence; 2. the widely comprehensive application of the pregnant answer of our Lord.—By this requirement to give every one not what we please, but what belongs to him, the might of selfishness is broken, from which the whole attack and coalition of the Pharisees and Herodians had proceeded.—The Lord addresses Himself with this His principle to the natural feeling of right, which even in fallen man is yet extant.

Footnotes:

FN#9 - Luke 20:20.—Van Oosterzee translates δικαίους, gesetzesstrenge Leute, “strict observers of the law,” which is doubtless its meaning in this place. They professed an anxious desire to know just how they could reconcile their duty to the law with their actual subjection to the Romans.—C. C. S.]

FN#10 - Luke 20:20.—According to the most approved reading: ἐπιλάβωνται αὐτοῦ λόγου. It appears better, with Bleek, to make the first genitive depend on the second, than to regard both as depending directly on the verb, although, it is true, De Wette, Meyer, Van Oosterzee, and Alford adopt the latter construction.—C. C. S.]

FN#11 - Luke 20:20.—Τῇ ἀρχῇ καὶ τῇ ἐξουσίᾳ τ. . Van Oosterzee translates: “to the authorities, and especially to the power of the procurator,” taking the two nouns as indicating respectively the Jewish and the Roman power. In this Meyer agrees with him, but it seems to be straining a point. It is enough to regard it as a formula for Pilate’s jurisdiction, rendered pleonastically full by the solemnity of the events which it introduces.—C. C. S.]

FN#12 - Luke 20:23.—In B, L, [Cod. Sin,] and some Cursives, these words [Why tempt ye Me?] do not appear. Perhaps they have crept in here from the parallel passage in Matthew 22:18.


Verses 27-40

3. Controversy with the Sadducees concerning the Resurrection ( Luke 20:27-40)

(Parallels: Matthew 22:23-33; Mark 12:18-27.)

27Then came to him certain of the Sadducees, which deny that there is any resurrection; 28and they asked him, Saying, Master [Teacher], Moses wrote unto us, If any man’s brother die, having a wife, and he die without children, that his brother shouldtake his wife, and raise up seed [posterity] unto his brother 29 There were thereforeseven brethren: and the first took a wife, and died without children 30 And the second[FN13] took her to wife, and he died childless 31 And the third took her; and in like manner 32 the seven [omit 3 words following] also: and they left no children, and died. Last33[Finally] of all [om, of all] the woman died also. Therefore in the resurrection whose wife of them is she? [FN14]for [the] seven had her to wife 34 And Jesus answering[FN15] said unto them, The children [υἱοί] of this world [αἰῶνος] marry, and are given in marriage: 35But they which shall be [have been, καταξιωθ*εντες] accounted worthy to obtain that world, and the resurrection from the dead, neither marry, nor are given in marriage: 36Neither [For neither] can they die any more: for they are equal unto the angels [ἰσ άγγελοι]; and are the childrenυἱοί] of God, being the children [υἱοί] of the resurrection 37 Now that the dead are raised, even Moses shewed [has disclosed] at the bush ( Exodus 3:6[FN16]), when [or, since, ὡς] he calleth the Lord the God of Abraham, and the 38 God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. For [Now, δέ] he is not a God of the dead [of dead men[FN17]], but of the living [of living ones]: for all live unto him [or, for him all are 39 living]. Then [And] certain of the scribes answering said, Master [Teacher], thou 40 hast well said. And [For[FN18]] after that they durst not ask him, any question at all.

EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL

Luke 20:27. Then came to Him.—The attempt to entice our Saviour within the sphere of the controversy between politics and religion, had entirely miscarried; now they seek to allure Him upon another not less dangerous territory, to entangle Him in the strife between the purely sensual and the strictly religious view of the world. In none of the Synoptics do we learn that the Sadducees came forward with their well-known interrogation πειράζοντες, on which account it is perhaps not absolutely necessary to assume that they really undertook to bring the Saviour, however He might answer, into some sort of personal inconvenience. But undoubtedly they mean, in the persuasion that He agreed with the Pharisees in believing the resurrection of the dead, to expose the unreasonableness of this faith, and secondly also of His doctrine, and in case they succeeded in snatching a word from Him which contradicted this hope, they would have viewed it and used it as an advantage obtained over their Pharisaic opponents, and one not to be despised. Perhaps also the position which our Saviour had taken in respect to the Pharisees, gave them occasion to ascertain for once whether He who had expressed Himself so anti-Pharisaically, would prove of an equally anti-Sadducean temper.

Sadducees.—In order to judge aright their conduct, as also to judge aright Jesus’ way of acting with reference to it, we must first remark that they, when they speak of the resurrection, mean thereby not merely the continuance of the soul after death, but also the bodily revivification of the dead, which the popular faith expected at the παρουία of the Messiah. They conceived the seven brothers, not as successively reanimated one after another subsequently to death, but as awakened contemporaneously with the last deceased woman ἐν ἐσχάτῃ ἡμέρᾳ, and cannot now imagine with whom she must then anew connect herself. Secondly, that they knew this doctrine only in the travestied, grossly sensuous form, in which the pride and the earthly-mindedness of their days had clothed it, and with this form reject therefore the idea that lies at its basis. The case feigned by them had been perhaps often used by themselves, or by those of their sentiments, in order vividly to set forth the unreasonableness of this popular faith. Finally, that they had hitherto appeared less publicly and less hostilely than the Pharisees against our Lord, on which account also He does not deal with them so severely as with the others. As frivolous friends of the world, they had hitherto moreover felt themselves less than the proud Pharisees offended and injured by our Lord. But before the end of His public life it was to appear, as it actually does in this interview, that unbelief and earthly-mindedness hate and assail the King of truth, not less than the hypocrisy of the Pharisees.

Luke 20:28. Moses wrote unto us.See Deuteronomy 25:5-10. “Thus do they commence, purposing to prove irrefutably (although they, scarcely suppressing derisive laughter, only propose a question as to this), that this Moses in this, as in all his laws, cannot possibly have presupposed a resurrection.” Stier. By the representation of the palpable unreasonableness of the belief in it, they wish to furnish an indirect apology for their own unbelief. Since the whole emphasis, in the case here presupposed, must be laid upon the fact that children are not left behind, we cannot be surprised that this, Luke 20:31, is mentioned even before the ἀπέθανον.

Luke 20:34. And Jesus answering.—The very fact that our Lord accounts so unreasonable a question, and one proposed with so dubious an intent, yet worth the honor of an answer, may be regarded as a sign of His condescending grace; but in particular the contents and tone of His words are a striking revelation of His wisdom and love. He answers this time not as in the former case with a cutting stroke, but with a more extended development of thought. Matthew communicates it simply and definitely; Mark gives a livelier dramatic representation thereof (comp, e. g., Mark 12:24 with Matthew 22:29); Luke goes a freer way, and has here also some singularia of the utmost importance, Luke 20:34-36. Comp. with Matthew 22:30; Mark 12:25. On the other hand he passes over the beautiful commencement of the discourse of our Lord: Matthew 22:29; Mark 12:24, in which Jesus discloses the twofold source of their censurable error.

The children of this world.—Not an intimation of the moral character of the men who are here described (De Wette), as in Luke 16:8, but in general all who live in the pre-Messianic period of the world.—They marry and are given in marriage.—This is not here, as in Luke 17:27, stated as a proof of carelessness and worldly-mindedness, but on the other hand as a consequence of their present condition, which however shall cease with the beginning of the new period of the world.—Καταξιωθέντες.—Those who are accounted worthy to inherit the future world (comp. 2 Thessalonians 1:5) are those in whom the moral conditions for the attainment of future blessedness are found.

Luke 20:35. To obtain that world.—The Messianic αἰών is conceived as coinciding with the resurrection of the righteous, Luke 14:14, which is here exclusively spoken of. It is a privilege which is not communicated to all, but only to the ἐκλεκτοῖς, while those who at the moment of the παρουσία have not died but are found yet living, are here not farther spoken of. But of those who have become participants of the highest privilege and have been awakened to the new life, our Lord now declares that they then never marry nor are given in marriage. In other words, the whole question of the Sadducees rests upon an incorrect conception of the future life. Marriage is here represented simply by occasion of the case feigned as the summary of all merely sensual, sexual relations; essentially the same thing is taught which Paul announces, 1 Corinthians 15:50.

Luke 20:36. For neither can they die any more.—The cause, why there is then no longer any need of any marriage or any need of sexual propagation, since death has now ceased to reign, nay, has become a physical impossibility, while previously it might have been called a law of nature.—For they are equal unto the angels, ἰσἀγγελοι. In Matthew and Mark: ὡς ά̓γγελοι οἱ ἐν τοῖς οὐραν. With masterly tact our Lord here, by the way, vindicates against the Sadducees the belief in the existence of angels as personal beings, Acts 23:8. At the same time it appears from this that the holy angels are raised not only above the danger, but also above the possibility, of dying. Finally: They are the children of God, being the children of the resurrection (sharers in the resurrection). This last statement brings us here to the idea of a Divine sonship, not in the ethical, as in Matthew 5:9, but in the physical, sense, as in Luke 3:38. God is the ground of a new life imparted to them, and they may therefore be called His children; other children and therefore other marriages have no longer a place. By a so purely spiritual representation of the life of the resurrection, Pharisaism is at the same time opposed, which continually loved most to dream of a feast in the bosom of the patriarchs: “Jesus shows that both parties, the Pharisaical and the Sadducean, were involved in like error, and that neither had grasped the higher sense of the Scripture nor a just idea of God.” Von Ammon, Leben Jesu, iii. p216.

Luke 20:37. ̓Εγείρονται.—So firm stands this hope before the eye of our Lord, that He speaks not in the future but in the present, without this, however, entitling us to assume that He taught a resurrection ensuing immediately after death.

Even Moses has disclosed.—“Note the carefully chosen ἐμήνυσεν, which denotes the proclaiming of something hidden. Καὶ Μωϋσῆς. Even Moses, to whom ye appeal for the proof of the direct opposite.” Meyer. As to the question how far this appeal of our Saviour to the Pentateuch affords a proof that the Sadducees acknowledged only this part of the Old Testament canon, see Lange on Matthew 22:31; and as to the force of the argument which our Lord here uses for the doctrine of personal immortality, see Stier, ad loc. If here nothing but a dialectical dexterity and Rabbinical hermeneutics had been displayed, our Saviour’s answer would then hardly have made so deep and mighty an impression. It is true, in the words: “The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob,” the primary sense is: “The God who during their life was the protecting God of these men,” and it would of itself, from the fact that God had once protected them, not necessarily follow that this protection still endured centuries later. But the protecting God had been at the same time the covenant God; at the establishment of the Covenant, there had a personal communion between Creator and creature come into existence, and since He therein named Himself their God, He had therewith assured to them the full enjoyment of His favor and fellowship. And should this enjoyment restrict itself only to the limits of this life? Of a being that had lived in fellowship with God, should there soon be nothing more extant than a handful of dust and ashes? Would not God be ashamed to name Himself centuries after their decease a God of wasting corpses? Impossible! Then He would at all events have had to say: “I have been the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.” God as the Personal One contracts a covenant with men, and calls Himself after them. They must therefore be eternal, because they are the children of the Covenant of the everlasting God.

Luke 20:38. For Him all are living.—This sentence Luke adds to the declaration which he has in common with Matthew and Mark, “God is not a God of the dead, but of the living.” A sublime declaration, especially if we do not limit the πάντες to the νεκροί alone, but refer it to all creatures, which we commonly distinguish into living and dead. This distinction is in the Divine view entirely removed: for Him, αὐτψ͂, there are only living ones, whether they may have breathed out their breath or not. This is a proof, therefore, that even the death of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob could be for God no hindrance to be called enduringly their God. The visible world of men and the invisible world of spirits both stand before God’s eye as one communion of living ones. Into the question of the connection between the uninterrupted life of souls after death, and the future resurrection of the body, our Lord does not here particularly enter.

Luke 20:39. And certain of the Scribes.—Perhaps some of the Sadducees belonged to these, and therefore gave utterance to a better feeling than the wonted one, but more probably we have here to understand them as being Pharisees, who it is likely had not all left the field, and who certainly could never have been more inclined to forget their recent defeat, and frankly and openly to praise our Lord, than just now, after He had thus publicly humbled their deadly enemies. Luke expressly points us ( Luke 20:40) to the fact that this extorted praise came in the place of farther questions, which no one ventured longer to address to the Saviour. In order not to be entirely superfluous, they render homage to the Victor, while they do not venture any longer to challenge the enemy again. From Matthew 22:34-40 and Mark 12:28-34, it appears however that after the Sadducees, there still came forward a scribe with the question respecting the chief commandment. See Lange, ad loc.

DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL

1. See on the parallels in Matthew and Mark.

2. In order to do full justice to the argument here used by our Lord for the resurrection, we must recognize that this rests not upon the abstract grammatical signification of the words in themselves, but upon the rich sense of the whole declaration, and that our Saviour does not assert that in this utterance the resurrection is taught, but only that it is thereby silently presupposed. By a just deduction, He derives the hope of eternal life from a declaration in which certainly no one without this index would have discovered it. What He finds therein Isaiah, however, primarily nothing more than the germ of a faith against which they scoffingly come forward, but a germ which, for His celestially clear view, was perfectly and necessarily contained therein. He shows therefore here in a striking manner how, even in the oldest documents, declarations appear which, if they are maturely weighed, must have necessarily led to faith in immortality, although thereby it is not meant that He could not have cited any stronger and more unequivocal declarations concerning these from the Prophets and Psalm. No wonder that even in later Rabbins, the proof here brought by Jesus is often repeated in a different way, and therefore at the same time an indirect confirmation of its usefulness has been afforded. See Schöttgen, Horœ hebr. ad h. l.

3. A very special attention is deserved by the exceedingly peculiar manner in which our Lord here establishes the doctrine of the resurrection. Far removed from the position of philosophers, who seek to deduce their ideas of immortality from the nature of the human soul, and therefore will demonstrate the doubted by the unknown, He finds on the other hand the firmest ground of eternal life in the personal fellowship of man with God. But herewith He gives us also indirectly to know that Prayer of Manasseh, for the full persuasion of His own immortality, must first have become assured of personal fellowship with God, and have become conscious of it. He thereby points the Sadducees to the inmost ground of their doubts, which lies nowhere else than in the sundering of their inner life from Him, and designates at the same time the true ground of hope for the future, and the sole way to perfect certainty thereof. The religious philosophy and apologetics of earlier and later times, would certainly have lost nothing if they had followed this example more faithfully, and had not adventured the attempt to demonstrate the immortality of the soul to those who do not as yet believe in the living God, and have not even a faint conception of personal fellowship with Him. The deepest experience of our own heart teaches us that without these premises the faith in immortality is partly uncertain, partly unrefreshing, and that Prayer of Manasseh, so long as he has not found God, loses also himself. This way moreover all the believers of the Old, nay, even those of the New Testament have walked; only after they knew themselves assured of God and His favor, did they gain certainty also of eternal life. See Psalm 16:10-11; Psalm 73:25-26; Psalm 84:12; Romans 8:38-39. But this inmost ground of divine hope is absolutely impregnable, so long at least as all the nerves of the inward religious life are not destroyed.

4. The question whether and how far the immortality of the soul is taught in the Old Testament is by this utterance of our Saviour sufficiently answered. Certainly, as a dogma that could be dogmatically proved by a number of loci classici, this doctrine in the Old Testament is not present in a developed form. The reference to reward and punishment in the future life, would have been in the whole Mosaic economy no profitable, but rather a heterogeneous, disturbing element. Only through the gospel, and not through the law, could life and immortality be brought to light, 2 Timothy 1:10. Immortality was therefore no such dogma of the Old Testament as, for instance, the unity and holiness of Jehovah. Comp. Hävernick, Vorlesungen über die Theologie des A. T. pp105–111. This however does not exclude the fact, that for the individual expectation of believers, there existed a firm ground and wide field. If any one was conscious that God was his God, then he knew also that He would everlastingly remain Song of Solomon, and that whoever had experienced His fellowship might fall asleep in the hope of hereafter beholding His face in righteousness, Psalm 17:15. Taking all together, we may say that the hope of a Jacob, a David, an Asaph, and others, was quite as firm but not quite as clear as that of the sons of the New Covenant is. “Moreover we have here to consider what doctrine of immortality is understood.—The rationalistic doctrine is nothing better than the doctrine of Sheol. Everything depends upon gaining the conception of life after death, not that of bare existence. The latter has no religious interest whatever.”

5. The conception of God, from which our Saviour here proceeds: God, no dead unit but the living God, is not only that of the Old but also that of the New Covenant, and the metaphysical foundation of the Christian doctrine of the Trinity. A similar relation to that between God and the creature exists also between our Lord and His people, since His life in them is the inmost ground of their immortal life, see John 14:19.

6. From this didactic discourse of our Lord, it results that the Christian conception of angels has not only an æsthetical and ontological, but also a very decided practical significance. As the angels stand in personal relation to man (see Luke 2:14; Luke 15:10), so are we also called hereafter to take part in their joy; and whoever now affirms that there are no angels whatever, converts thereby the prospect opened to us by our Lord, of becoming hereafter ἰσάγγελοι, into a vain illusion.

7. The declaration that those who have risen again do not marry, but are like the angels, has often been used as an indirect argument against the angelic hypothesis of Kurtz a. o. on Genesis 6:2. On the other hand, we must not fail to note that our Saviour speaks undoubtedly of that Which the angels do not do, but not of that which they never could do, and that the present purely spiritual life of the angels may very well have been preceded by a previous catastrophe or fall of some of them.

8. With utter injustice some have seen in that which our Lord says about marrying and giving in marriage, an indirect disparagement of marriage. The history of celibacy proves, in opposition to these, what consequences the anticipation of the angelic state here portrayed has for public and private morality. “Grace and the Holy Ghost do not remove the propensities of nature, nor destroy them, as the monks dreamed, but where nature is distorted the Holy Ghost heals it and puts it exultingly on its feet, brings it again to its true condition.” Luther. It even appears indirectly from the Levirate law, that a second marriage cannot possibly have in itself anything immoral. But this doctrine does indeed imply an earnest warning against such matrimonial connections as establish no higher than a merely sensual fellowship. Not as man and wife, but ἰσάγελοι, shall the redeemed see one another again, and only that in married love is eternal which in its ground is spiritual. From this position we learn to understand the counsel of the Apostle, 1 Corinthians 7:29-31.

9. In the example of our Lord an important intimation is given to Apologists, how they also may best vindicate against the Sadducees of our day the revealed truth; in such wise, that Isaiah, that they place themselves on the impregnable ground of the Scriptures; that they show how the imperfect form in which the truth is represented, does not of itself entitle us to reject its substance also as unreasonable; that they lay bare the innermost grounds of the ignorance which conceals itself behind the escutcheon of all Song of Solomon -called, highly vaunted science. In this way even the simplest Christian gains the right of exclaiming to the apostles of unbelief: πολὺπλανᾶσθε !

HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL

The leaven of the Sadducees not less destructive than the leaven of the Pharisees, Matthew 16:6.—The difference and agreement between the Jewish Sadducees and the heathen Epicureans.—The denial of the resurrection in its different forms: 1. Thorough materialism, 1 Corinthians 15:32; 1 Corinthians 2. one-sided spiritualism, 2 Timothy 2:18.—The authority of the law even for those who occupy an unbelieving position.—The eternal substance in the temporal form of the Levirate law.—Childless marriage.—The long and repeated condition of widowhood.—The dangerousness of an excessively sensuous conception of the future life.—The future life: 1. A continuance of the present, but also; 2. an antithesis to the same.—Marriage should be counted honorable in all, Hebrews 13:4.—The supreme inheritance: 1. Wherein it consists; 2. who becomes worthy of it.—In heaven there is no other marriage than the marriage of the Lamb, Revelation 19:7.—Propagation and mortality in their inseparable connection.—In what respect the blessedness of the redeemed may even exceed that of the angels.—The angels: 1. Purely spiritual; 2. perfectly pure; 3. eternally immortal; 4. supremely blessed beings.—God’s Son became a little less than the angels, that He might make His redeemed equal to the angels.—The children of the resurrection the brothers of the inhabitants of heaven.—The resurrection of the dead a mystery, beginning to be unfolded even by Moses.—The burning bush itself a proof that by God’s omnipotence that may be preserved and renewed which by nature is destroyed.—The blessedness of a soul to which the Lord has said: I God am thy God.—God’s covenant faithfulness the highest pledge for the everlasting life of His people.—God the God of the living: 1. The majesty which He as such reveals; 2. the blessedness which He as such bestows; 3. the glory which He as such should receive.—The absolute opposition of life and death, the natural fruit of our limited view of the world.—In God’s eyes, death has no reality.—The great chasm between the position of the Sadducees and that of our Lord;—they see nothing but death; He sees nothing but life.—The involuntary homage which even hostility offered to the Saviour’s Divine superiority.—He that is reduced to silence, is not yet thereby by any means won for the truth.

Starke:—Cramer:—God’s word becomes to many the savor of death unto death, 2 Corinthians 2:16.—Brentius:—The posterity of the Pharisees and Sadducees have ever wrought great harm to Christendom, and there is in the last days even something worse to be feared, 2 Timothy 3:1.—The devil is a singular enemy of marriage.—Bibl. Wirt:—Human reason searches out in matters of religion unreasonable, things wherewith to subvert the truth of the Divine word.—Let men content themselves with what Christ has revealed to us of the future world.—Quesnel:—The remembrance and recompense of the righteous cannot be lost.—When a man’s ways please the Lord, He maketh even his enemies to be at peace with him.—The silence of enemies not always a sign of conversion.

Heubner:—Insipid as this objection of the Sadducees Isaiah, quite as insipid are all others against the facts in the life of Christ.—The darkening or suppression of the Scriptures has either despotism in the faith, or anarchy in the faith, as its result.—Belief in the angels pervades the most intimate and highest relations of man.—It is very comprehensible why the Scripture even here reveals to us many things concerning the angels.—Christ’s argument no empty, delusive argument κατ̓ ά̓νθρωπον, as the heroes of accommodation say.—Arndt:—The repulse of the Sadducees: 1. The assault; 2. the defence; 3. the consequences resulting therefrom.—W. Hofacker:—Christ over against the Sadducees of His and our day. We direct our eyes: 1. To the Sadducees; and2. to the position which Christ has taken in reference to them.—C. Palmer:—God, a God not of the dead but of the living.—On this rests a. the hope of eternal life to those whose God He Isaiah, b. but whoever will have such hope must become spiritually living.—Tholuck:—On the feast of the dead: Before God the dead live (Pred. ii. p264 seq.).—Another in the six sermons upon Religious Questions of the Time, 1845, 1846, p60 seq., and at the feast of the dead: Whereby may a man become firm in his faith in an eternal life?—Dr. B. ter Haar, Theological Professor in Utrecht:—For Him all are living: 1. They live; 2. they live to God; 3. they all live to Him. Therefore an imperishable, a holy, a blessed, a social life.—Van Oosterzee:—They are equal to the angels of God in heaven: 1. What there will fall away? What is incompatible with angelic perfection. Our Lord says the angels marry not, sin not, die not; we shall therefore cease to be a. sensuous, b. sinful, c. mortal, beings; 2. What will there remain? what is kindred to angelic perfection: a. the angelic purity that was here striven after, b. the angelic love that was here cherished, c. the angelic joy that was here tasted; 3. What will there begin? what arises from angelic perfection: a. higher development, b. more perfect communion, c. more unlimited complacency of God, than the soul here upon earth enjoys.—In conclusion, the momentousness of this teaching of our Saviour: 1. For the frivolous Sadducees; 2. the high-minded Pharisees; 3. the sincere but weak disciples even of the present day.

Footnotes:

FN#13 - Luke 20:30.—[Omit all after the figure,] according to the reading of B, [Cod. Sin,] L, 157. The greater fulness of the Recepta appears to have arisen from old glosses and from a certain impulse of completion. See details in Tischendorf.

FN#14 - Luke 20:33.—The most exact arrangement of words appears to be that of B, L.: γυνὴ οῦ̓ν ἐν τῇ ἀναστάσει, κ.τ.λ., “The woman, therefore, in the resurrection, whose wife does she become of the seven?” [Cod. Sin. has simply: ε. τ. α. τινος εσται γυνη.—C. C. S.]

FN#15 - Luke 20:34.—The ἀποκριθείς of the Recepta is apparently only an interpolation from the parallel.

FN#16 - Luke 20:37.—Ἐπὶ τῆς βάτου, i. e., in the division of Exodus which takes its name from the account of the burning bush. As is known, the division of verses not being used anciently, the only way of referring to a particular passage was to designate it by the name of some remarkable person, or object, or circumstance mentioned in it. Comp. Romans 11:2.—C. C. S.]

FN#17 - Luke 20:38.—Θεὸς δὲ οὐκ ἔστιν νεκρῶν ἀλλὰ ζώντων. It is hard to translate this so as to make it both perspicuous and concise. “A God of the dead … of the living,” implies that the dead and the living are regarded as two actually existing classes, in which sense it would be, of course, impious to affirm that God was not the God of both. The absence of the article before νεκρῶν and ζώντων of course indicates that they are conceived indefinitely, as two possible classes, of which it is denied that the former can have any covenant relations with God. As God affirms, nevertheless, that the departed patriarchs still stand in covenant relation to Him, the inference is necessary, that they cannot be νεκροί in any true sense. They (and all their spiritual posterity) are destined to immortal life.—C. C. S.]

FN#18 - Luke 20:40.—Van Oosterzee rightly reads γάρ, with Tischendorf, Meyer, Tregelles, Alford, on the authority of B, L, (Cod. Sin,) 5 cursives, and the Coptic version. As Meyer remarks, γάρ was not understood. It was not perceived that the subsequent silence of the scribes was foretokened in the unwonted modesty into which they had been awed, and which appears in their concluding remark.—C. C. S.]


Verses 41-47

4. Direct Controversy with the Pharisees on the part of Jesus ( Luke 20:41-47)

(Parallel to Matthew 22:41-46; Matthew 23:14; Mark 12:35-40.)

41, 42And he said unto them, How say they that [the] Christ is David’s son? And [yet] David himself saith in the book of Psalm, The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, 43Till I make thine enemies thy footstool [lit, Till I place thine enemies as a footstool in thy feet]. 44David therefore calleth him Lord, how is he then [and how is he] his son? 45Then in the audience of all the people [while all the people were listening] he said unto his disciples,[FN19] 46Beware of the scribes, which desire [or, like] to walk in long robes, and love greetings in the markets, and the highest seats in the synagogues, and the chief rooms [places] at feasts; 47Which devour widows’ houses, and for a shew make long prayers: the same shall receive greater damnation [condemnation].

EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL

Luke 20:41. And He said unto them.—The conflict between our Lord and His antagonists has here visibly reached a turning-point. Long enough has He answered their question; now He on His part takes the initiative, in order that the continued silence which He also maintained might not wear the guise of perplexity. From Matthew we perceive that the question was addressed to the collective body of the Pharisees here present ( Matthew 22:46): from Mark ( Mark 12:35), that He therewith answers de facto, all their former invectives against Him; from Luke (comp. Luke 20:45), that our Lord handles the point in question with the greatest possible publicity. First did He put the enemy to flight: now He also on His part passes on the pursuit.

How say they.—Not in the sense of “How is it possible that they so speak?” but, “In what sense is this name given to the Messiah?” There is a distinction between the question which, Matthew 16:13, is addressed to the disciples and that which is here addressed to the Pharisees. There our Lord inquires after their view as to His own person; here He speaks in general, entirely objectively, respecting the Christ, the object of their expectation. Luke, who gives the account with the utmost possible condensation, passes over the answer, “David’s Song of Solomon,” in order to let the second question: καὶ αὐτός, &c, follow immediately upon the first.

Luke 20:42. And yet David himself saith.—That the Messiah was to be David’s Son was, it is true, not the universal (comp. John 7:27), but yet the most current, conception. It would be an entire perversion, however, of our Saviour’s intention in making the citation from David, to suppose (Weisse, Evang. Gesch. i. p168) that He wished thereby to controvert the conception in itself as an ungrounded or indifferent one, and to point to the truth that the Christ was rather to be called David’s Lord. No: He proceeds the rather with His enemies e concessis: the Messiah is David’s Song of Solomon, an homage which we know that He often received without gainsaying. But now He proposes to them for solution the enigma, how David could yet speak of his Son at the same time as his Lord. To a generally acknowledged truth He attaches the conception of a higher, almost forgotten one.

In the Book of Psalm.—We seek in vain also in Luke for the very pregnant hint found in Matthew and Mark, that David spoke ἐν πνεύματι. Yet even according to his statement the Lord designates the 110 th Psalm as a Messianic and Davidic one. In reference to the last point, critical investigation need not, it is true, be bound by this form of the citation, since our Saviour was evidently here not concerned with rendering critical judgment; but, on the other hand, a considerate criticism will certainly only venture upon sure grounds to deny the Davidic originality of this Psalm. But as respects the first point, we willingly acknowledge that it requires more courage than we possess in order, after so decided a declaration, to dispute the Messianic import of this Psalm, which, moreover, is sufficiently established by Stier, Hoffman, Hengstenberg, and others. The question of the conception which the poet himself connected with the Scheblimini, does not lie within the sphere of our investigation; but that the poet in the element of the Spirit has greeted the Messiah as his Lord, can only be disputed by such expositors as, like those of the Jews, would place their authority above that of our Lord.

Luke 20:44. How is He his Son?—The question, how David in his Son—that Isaiah, one standing below himself—could at the same time honor his Lord, and therewith one who stood above him, is for us Christians scarcely a question any longer, since we have been initiated into the secret of the Divine nature of the Messiah. To the Jews, on the other hand, who expected a Messiah endowed with heavenly gifts and energies, and that as an earthly king, who was to be in a Theocratic and not in a metaphysical sense God’s Song of Solomon, the matter was not so evident. It appears that the dead monotheism to which they surrendered themselves, especially after the exile, closed the eyes of most to the pregnant intimations which even in the Old Testament were here and there given respecting the supernatural descent and Divine dignity of the Messiah. The Lord will therefore show them that their whole Christology is imperfect and contradicts itself, so long as this integral element is wanting to it. He brings them to silence by pointing them to a sanctuary whose key they had lost. He wishes to stir them up to profounder reflection upon the truth which they had either never yet understood or had looked upon as blasphemy against God, and greeted with stones. In this way He will cure them once for all of their carnal expectations, and show them that He is in no wise minded to direct Himself according to their egoistic wishes. Even to-day the Jews are not in condition to answer satisfactorily the enigma proposed to them by the Great Master. Comp. the Ebionitic conception of the Messiah as θιλὸς ά̓νθρωπος, and the Christological confession which the Jew Trypho, in Justin Martyr, has given.

Luke 20:45. While all the people were listening.—Matthew ( Luke 22:46) and Mark ( Luke 12:37) communicate especially the impression which this last question of our Lord made; Luke visibly hurries on and communicates only a little of the extended warning which our Lord before leaving the temple uttered in reference to the Pharisees and scribes. Comp. Matthew 23:1-36. In the little that he mentions of it he faithfully follows Mark, while he himself has already ( Luke 11:37-54), preserved many a terrific “Woe to you” of the Lord in another connection. Respecting the historical accuracy of this arrangement see above (on Luke 17:20-37). Yet even from his compendious account ( Luke 20:41-47), there appears so much as this: that our Lord, after He had proposed that question to the Pharisees upon which they are not even to this day clear, turns forever away from them, in order to address Himself to the more receptive people, and to warn them yet once again before His departure, against the blind leaders of the blind. Luke mentions particularly in addition ( Luke 20:45) that our Lord addressed these warnings to His disciples (not exclusively the apostles, but a wider circle of His followers), yet coram populo.

Luke 20:46. Beware of the scribes.—The scribes, as the worst corrupters of the people among all the Pharisees, are here particularly brought forward and drawn from life; yet not according to their inward character, but according to their external guise. The Lord depicts their behavior: 1. In social life—the self-complacency with which they go about, ἐν στολαῖς, by which we have especially to understand the wide Tallith reaching down even to the feet; the value which they lay upon being universally greeted in the market, as well as upon extended titles; 2. in the Synagogues, where they lay claim to the πρωτοκαθεδρίας, which are allotted according to office and law; 3. in the house, where they transfer the controversy of rank for the place of honor from the Synagogue to the feast, and seek to dispute with others the first place; 4. in the sphere of philanthropy, where they devour widows’ houses while they pretend to advance their interests. Thus are hypocrisy, pride, and covetousness the three chief traits of which their portrait is composed. The last reproach “has reference primarily to the parasitism of the saints, who in long exercises of devotion sought to acquire influence with wealthy women and widows. The susceptibility of the weaker sex has been ever an object of the attention of devout friends of the world, and has never yet lost anything of its attractive power.”

Luke 20:47. Greater damnation.—This expression also appears to be an indirect proof that our Saviour on this occasion brought up more than only this little against the corrupters of the nation. It lay, however, in the character of the Hellenistic, Pauline Gospel of Luke, that He speaks with less particularity and detail than Matthew of the terrific judgment with which our Lord, on leaving the temple, shakes the dust from His feet. Here also holds good what has been observed of Mark: “For young Gentile Christians the great sermon of denunciation would have been in part unintelligible and in part too strong a food.”

DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL

1. The last question which our Lord proposes to His enemies, is on His part the first step to an irrevocable farewell. He closes therewith for these His work as Teacher, by proposing to them yet once again to be pondered the great problem of His Theanthropic personality; what He will now hereafter address to them will no more be uttered to instruct them as Prophet, but in order to answer them as High-Priest and King.

2. The last question with which Jesus parts from His enemies affords the convincing proof that for true Christianity everything depends on a correct judgment of His glorious person. If conceptions of faith (Glaubensbegriffe) were really a matter of quite subordinate importance, and the assertion of rationalism were well founded—namely, that not the person but the doctrine and example of our Lord are the chief concern, He would scarcely have given Himself the trouble of encouraging the Pharisees to an investigation which in this case would have concerned a dry, exegetical, and abstract dogmatical question.

3. On this occasion it plainly appears that our Lord finds direct Messianic prophecies even in the book of Psalm; that He conceives David as with his vision into the future taken up into a region of the Spirit; that to Him the prophetic Scripture, as an inspired, was also a perfectly infallible, Scripture. So long as one regards the Old Testament with His eyes, neither the Nomistic over-valuation nor the Gnostic contempt for the first and largest half of the Scripture has a satisfactory prospect of finding great acceptance in His church.

4. There is no book in which our Lord in His last week has so lived as in the book of Psalm; an intimation which should not be neglected, particularly by suffering and striving Christians.

5. There exists a palpable similarity between the image which our Lord has here sketched of the Pharisees and scribes, and Clericalism, especially that of the middle ages. Altogether spontaneously, one in reading the expression, Luke 20:47, thinks of the presents which the church and the monkish orders knew how to get for themselves, of the traffic in masses for the dead, of the unhappy influence of the confessional. The value also which they laid upon sumptuous garments and places, of honor, the predilection for circumstantial titles, and the system of reciprocal deification and homage has all revived in many a form, and even to-day has not yet died out. But it would betray a very short-sighted view, if one knew how to find the traces of these perversions nowhere else than merely within the jurisdiction of Rome.

6. Severe, yet not too severe, is the tone where with our Lord prepares Himself to leave the sanctuary. Perhaps we may even rather wonder that He has not said more, than that He has not said less. Nor may it be overlooked that He does not attack the persons of His enemies in themselves, but their principles, whose working was so utterly ruinous; that He by no means denies the existence of individuals of a better mind among the scribes, but directs His eye principally to the spirit ruling among them; that the salt of His speech must here often more than elsewhere bite, if it was as yet even in any measure to stay the corruption. And may we not add that our Lord felt even for Himself the necessity of holding up to Himself the whole wickedness of His enemies once more in an overwhelming picture ( Matthew 23); that He might be able to rise up with so much the more power and dignity, and take of the temple a leave which was to Him so indescribably melancholy?

7. Immeasurable is the contrast between the first and the last visit of our Lord to the temple. The less may we leave unnoticed that the boy Jesus, who once by His questions threw the teachers in Israel into astonishment, and by His answers often made them suddenly dumb, and the Messiah, who often on the final day, both with questions and with answers, nobly maintains the field, exhibit really one and the same character. The Divine Sonship then presaged is now distinctly known.

HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL

Even on the last day of His sojourn in the temple our Lord, as once at the wedding in Cana, has kept the best wine until the last.—The mystery of the Divinely human dignity of our Lord: 1. Revealed to David; 2. concealed from the Pharisees; 3. confirmed by Jesus; 4. brought for us to light.—The apparent discrepancies in the Scripture can be resolved for us only by Jesus Himself.—Sit Thou at My right hand: 1. The power of this word; 2. the right of this word; 3. the fruit of this word.—The devil in the garment of a scribe.—The holy duty of calling evil by its true name. Comp. Isaiah 5:20.—Esse quam videri.—How hypocrisy poisons: 1. Social; 2. married; 3. church, life.—The danger of a spiritless formalism in the ministers of religion.—Hypocrisy the sin which is always punished the hardest.

Starke:—Let him whom the people like to hear take note of the opportunity to do good.—Quesnel:—Proud, ambitious, avaricious teachers are more dangerous than the greatest sinners among the people.—Hedinger:—Pride a sign of hypocrisy, believe it certainly; if an angel came and were proud, believe he were a devil, Psalm 131:1.—Widows can very easily be talked over and misled: they should therefore take good heed to themselves; but woe to him that misleads them. 2 Timothy 3:6.—Brentius:—It is an abomination above all abominations to deceive people and deprive them of their property under the guise of godliness.

Heubner:—Jesus here proposes no school-question, but the highest, weightiest question in life.—It is a serious duty to become clear as to the person of Jesus.—Christ is Lord absolutely of the whole human race, even David’s Lord; His Lordship is the highest and most blessed one; Christocracy would be the best constitution for us.—Arndt, Prediglen über das Leben Jesu, iv. p. Luke 251:—The weightiest article of faith in the Gospel. The Pharisees, with their ‘David’s Son’, yet only expressed in substance that Jesus was a man like all other men, only of royal race. It was only the half, not the whole truth. Even as our contemporaries, who also will let Christ pass for a remarkably gifted and virtuous character, and yet for a man such as they and all are. If Jesus had been really only that and nothing higher, He would have had to praise the answer of the Pharisees, and to say something like this: Ye are right; and I see that ye are very much at home in Moses and in the prophets. But our Lord is in nowise content with the answer; He demands, when the discourse is about the Messiah, a deeper penetration into the declarations of the Scripture, and into the character of His person. Must Hebrews, therefore, if God already calls Him Lord, even before He was born, not be infinitely more than David’s Son—than a mere man?—Palmer:—There Isaiah, according to this inquiry, only one truth for our faith; for a living faith in God, in a providence, immortality, &c, is impossible without a knowledge of Christ.—Fuchs:—What think ye of Christ? In that name there is implied that He is: 1. The greatest Prophet; 2. the true High-Priest; 3. the eternal King.—Otto:—Christ, David’s Lord and Son.—Moll:—What think ye of Christ, whose Son is He? 1. A question of life, which stands in the centre of all moral problems; 2. a question of conscience, which lays hold of the personal life in its deepest root; 3. a question of faith, which finds its solution only upon the soil of revelation.

Footnotes:

FN#19 - Luke 20:45.—Πρὸς αὐτούς, to which Tischendorf gives the preference, [also Alford,] has not other authorities for it than Q. [As an ecclesiastical lection begins here, Alford explains the Recepta as having arisen very early from the wish to specify αὐτούς. But it is strange that only a single authority should have retained the true reading.—C. C. S.]

 


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Bibliography Information
Lange, Johann Peter. "Commentary on Luke 20:4". "Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/lcc/luke-20.html. 1857-84.

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