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Bible Commentaries

Vincent's Word Studies

Luke 7



Verse 1

Sayings ( ῥήματα )

See on Luke 1:37.

In the ears ( εἰς τὰμ ἀκοὰς )

Lit., into the ears. See on ears, Luke 4:37.

Verse 2

Centurion ( ἑκατοντάρχου )

From ἕκατον , a hundred, and ἄρχω , to command. Commander of a hundred men. Mark uses κεντυρίων , a Graecized form of the Latin word centurio. Acenturia was originally a division consisting of a hundred things of a kind; and thence came to mean any division, whether consisting of a hundred or not. In military language it meant a division of troops, a company, not necessarily of a hundred, the captain of which was called centurio. The numbers of a century varied from about fifty to a hundred. The Roman legion consisted of ten cohorts or σπεῖραι , bands, as” the Italian band,” of which Cornelius was a centurion (Acts 10:1). The commanders of these cohorts were called chiliarchs, or chief captains (John 18:12, Rev.). Each cohort contained six centuries, or companies, of which the commanders were called centurions. The duty of the centurion was chiefly confined to the regulation of his own corps, and the care of the watch. The badge of his office was the vitis, or vine-stock. He wore a short tunic, and was also known by letters on the crest of his helmet. Dean Howson (“Companions of St. Paul”) remarks on the favorable impression left upon the mind by the officers of the Roman army mentioned in the New Testament, and cites, besides the centurion in this passage, the one at the cross, and Julius, who escorted Paul to Rome. See Acts 10:1.

Servant ( δοῦλος )

A bond-servant. Matthew has παῖς , a servant, which occurs also at Luke 7:7.

Dear ( ἔντιμος )

Lit. held in honor or value. It does not necessarily imply an affectionate relation between the master and the servant, though such may well have existed. It may mean only that he was a valuable servant. See on 1 Peter 2:4. In this case Luke omits the mention of the disease, which is given by Matthew.

Beseeching ( ἐρωτῶν )

Too strong. Better asking, as Rev. The word to beseech ( παρακαλέω ) occurs in the next verse. See on Matthew 15:23.

Heal ( διασώσῃ )

Better as Rev., save. See on Luke 6:19.

Verse 4

They besought him instantly ( παρεκάλουν σπουδαίως )

On besought, see on Luke 6:24. Instantly, which commonly means at once, is used in its older meaning, pressingly, from the Latin instare, to urge or press upon. So Romans 12:12, “instant in prayer.” Wyc., prayed busily.

That he was worthy ( ὅτι ἄξιός ἐστιν )

The A. V. renders ὅτι as a conjunction, that. The Rev., more correctly, takes it as a mark of quotation, besides properly rendering ἐστιν is, instead of was. Render as Rev., He is worthy that thou shouldst do this; for the best texts read παρέξῃ , the second person, thou shouldst do, instead of the third person, παρέξει , he shall do.

Verse 5

He hath built ( αὐτὸς ᾠκοδόμησεν )

He is emphatic; himself, at his own expense.

A synagogue ( τὴν συναγωγὴν )

The article, “the synagogue,” marks the particular synagogue which these elders represented. Hence Rev., rightly, “our synagogue.” “He did not merely avoid profaning the synagogue” (Bengel).

Verse 6

Went ( ἐπορεύετο )

The imperfect tense is explained by what follows. He was going, was on the way, when he was met by the second messenger from the centurion.


Possibly kinsmen, not elders now.

Trouble ( σκύλλου )

Lit., worry. See on Matthew 9:36; and Mark 5:35.

Worthy ( ἱκανός )

Lit., sufficient. Compare Matthew 3:11, “worthy to bear and 2 Corinthians 3:5, “not that we are sufficient ( ἱκανοί )but our sufficiency ( ἱκανότης ) is of God.” It is also used in the sense of much, many, long. See Luke 7:12; Luke 8:27, Luke 8:32; Luke 20:9; Acts 9:23.

Verse 7

Say in a word

Lit., “say with a word.”

My servant shall be healed ( ἰαθήτω ὁ παῖς μοῦ )

It is strange that the Rev. should have omitted to note the imperative mood here, at least in the margin. The literal rendering is the more graphic: Let my servant be healed. Note the professional word for heal. See on Luke 6:19.

Verse 8


See on Matthew 8:9.

Set under authority ( ὑπὶ ἐξουσίαν τασσόμενος )

It is not easy to render the exact force of these words. The sense of the present participle with the verb εἰμί , I am, is very subtle. The words set under are commonly understood to mean placed in a subordinate position; but this would be more accurately expressed by the perfect participle, τεταγμένος . The present participle indicates something operating daily, and the centurion is describing not his appointed position so much as his daily course of life. The word set originally means arranged, drawn up in order; so that the words might be paraphrased thus: “I am a man whose daily course of life and duty is appointed and arranged by superior authority.” The centurion speaks in a figure which is well explained by Alford: “I know how to obey, being myself under authority; and I know how others obey, having soldiers under me. If then I, in my subordinate station of command, am obeyed, how much more thou, who art over all, and whom diseases serve as their Master.” Just what estimate of Jesus these words imply we cannot say. It seems evident, at least, that the centurion regarded him as more than man. If that be so, it is a question whether the word man ( ἀνθρωπός ) may not imply more than is commonly assigned to it. Taking the Greek words in their order they may read, “For I also, a man (as compared with thee), am set under authority, having soldiers under myself. See on Matthew 8:9.

Verse 10

Whole ( ὑγιαίνοντα )

See on Luke 5:31. The best texts omit that had been sick.


Verse 11

The day after ( ἐν τῇ ἑξῆς )

Others read ἐν τῷ ἑξῆς , soon after. So Rev. Luke's usage favors the latter.


Mentioned nowhere else in the Bible. “On the northern slope of the rugged and barren ridge of Little Hermon, immediately west of Endor, which lies in a further recess of the same range, is the ruined village of Nain. No convent, no tradition marks the spot. But, under these circumstances, the name alone is sufficient to guarantee its authenticity. One entrance alone it could have had - that which opens on the rough hillside in its downward slope to the plain. It must have been in this steep descent, as, according to Eastern custom, they 'carried out the dead man,' that, 'nigh to the gate' of the village, the bier was stopped, and the long procession of mourners stayed, and ' the young man delivered back to his mother (Stanley, “Sinai and Palestine”). “It is in striking accord with the one biblical incident in the history of Nain that renders it dear to the Christian heart, that about the only remains of antiquity are tombs. These are cut in the rock, and are situated on the hillside to the east of the village” (Thomson, “Land and Book”).

Verse 12

Carried out

The tombs were outside of the city.

Verse 13

The Lord

See on Matthew 21:3.

Saw her

Edersheim says, “Had it been in Judaea, the hired mourners and musicians would have preceded the bier; in Galilee they followed. First came the women; for, as an ancient Jewish commentary explains, woman, who brought death into our world, ought to lead the way in the funeral procession” (“Jewish Social Life”).

Had compassion ( ἐσπλαγχνίσθη )

From σπλάγχνα , the nobler entrails, regarded as the seat of the affections. See on pitiful, 1 Peter 3:8.

Verse 14


Not fearing the ceremonial defilement of contact with the dead.

The bier ( σορός )

In classical Greek, originally, of a vessel for holding anything: sometimes of a cinerary urn. Here the open bier. Edersheim says “of wicker-work.

Verse 15

Sat up ( ἀνεκάθισεν )

Compare Acts 9:40. In this in-transitive sense the word is used mostly by medical writers.

Delivered ( ἔδωκεν )

Rev., gave. “For he had already ceased to belong to his mother” (Bengel). Compare Luke 9:42.

Verse 16

There came a fear on all ( ἔλαβεν δὲ φόβος ἅπαντας )

Lit., as Rev., fear took hold on all.

Verse 17

This rumor

Rev., report: viz., of a great prophet who had vindicated his claims by raising the dead.


Verse 19

Two ( δύο πινὰς )

Lit., two certain ones. Rev., in margin,certain two.

Art thou

The thou is emphatic. See on Matthew 11:3.

Verse 21

Diseases - plagues ( νόσων - μαστίγων )

See on Matthew 4:23; and Mark 3:10. Marking the two classes of disease recognized in medical writings, chronic and acute.

Evil spirits ( πνευμάτων πονηρῶν )

On πονηρός , evil, see Luke 3:19. It is applied to evil spirits by Luke only, with the single exception of Matthew 12:45. In accordance with its signification of evil on its active side, it is applied in medicine to that which spreads destruction or corruption; as the poison of serpents. Note, moreover, that Luke distinguishes here between disease and demoniac possession, as often. See Luke 6:17, Luke 6:18; Luke 8:2; Luke 13:32.

He gave ( ἐχαρίσατο )

More is expressed by this verb than simple giving. He gave as a free, gracious, joy-giving gift. See on χάρις , favor, Luke 1:30; and compare freely give, Romans 8:32. Also, 1 Corinthians 2:12.

Verse 22

The blind receive, etc

Better, are receiving, are walk ing, even while Jesus is speaking and John is in doubt.

Verse 23

Shall not be offended ( μὴ σκανδαλισθῇ )

Rev., shall find none occasion of stumbling. See on Matthew 5:29. Note also the conditional not ( μὴ ): “shall not find, whatever may occur.”

Verse 24

To see ( θεάσασθαι )

Rev. is correct but awkward, to behold. The verb implies steadfast, intent gazing. See on Matthew 11:7.

Verse 25

Gorgeously apparelled ( ἐν ἱματισμῷ ἐνδόξῳ )

Lit., in splendid clothing.

Live delicately ( τρυφῇ ὑπάρχοντες )

Lit., are in luxury. On ὑπάρχοντες , are, see on James 2:15. On τρυφῇ , luxury, see on 2 Peter 2:13, the only other place where it occurs. Compare the kindred verb τρυφάω , to live in luxury, James 5:5.

Kings' courts ( βασιλείοις )

Only here in New Testament. Often rendered palaces. Sometimes, in later Greek, applied to a capital or royal city, a royal treasury, and a royal diadem.

Verse 26

A prophet ( προφήτην )

The popular conception of a prophet is limited to his foretelling future events. This is indeed included in the term, but does not cover its meaning entirely. The word is from φημί , to speak, and πρό , before, in front of. This meaning of the preposition may have reference to time, viz.,before, beforehand; or to place, viz.,in front of, and so, publicly; and this latter meaning, in turn, easily runs into that of in behalf of; for. The prophet is, therefore, primarily, one who speaks standing before another, and thus forming a medium between him and the hearer. This sense runs naturally into that of instead of. Hence it is the technical term for the interpreter of a divine message. So Plato: “For this reason it is customary to appoint diviners or interpreters to be judges of the true inspiration. Some persons call them diviners, seers ( μάντεις ); they do not know that they are only repeaters of dark sayings and visions, and are not to be called diviners at all, but interpreters ( προφῆται ) of things divine” (“Timaeus,” 72). Similarly of an advocate to speak for, or instead of one. The central idea of the word is, one to whom God reveals himself and through whom he speaks. The revelation may or may not relate to the future. The prophet is a forth-teller, not necessarily a foreteller. The essence of the prophetic character is immediate intercourse with God. One of the Hebrew names for “prophet,” and, as some maintain, the earlier name, signified a shewer or seer. See 1 Samuel 9:10; and in 1 Corinthians 14:26-30, Paul shows that revelation stands in necessary connection with prophesying.

Verse 27

Prepare ( κατασκευάσει )

See on Luke 1:17.

Least ( μικρότερος )

Lit., less. Rev.,but little; or, as we might say, “comparatively little.”

Verse 29

Justified God

Declaring, by being baptized, that God's will concerning John's baptism was right.

Verse 30

Lawyers ( νομικοὶ )

Not legal practitioners, but interpreters and doctors of the Mosaic law.

Rejected ( ἠθέτησαν )

Set aside, or annulled; made it vain through their disobedience.

Against themselves ( εἰς ἑαυτούς )

More strictly, with reference to themselves.

Verse 32

Children ( παιδίοις )

Diminutive; little children. See on Matthew 11:16.


See on Matthew 11:16.

We piped

Playing at wedding.

Mourned ( ἐθρηνήσαμεν )

Rev., much better, wailed: playing at funeral.

Weep ( ἐκλαύσατε )

Ofaudible weeping. See on Matthew 5:4. Matthew has ἐκόψασθε , beaten your breastsSee on Matthew 11:17.

Verse 33

Bread and wine

Peculiar to Luke.

Verse 37

A woman who ( ἥτις )

Of that class which was, etc.

A sinner

Wyc., asinneress. Her presence there is explained by the Oriental custom of strangers passing in and cut of a house during a meal to see and converse with the guests. Trench cites a description of a dinner at a consul's house in Damietta. “Many came in and took their places on the side-seats, uninvited and yet unchallenged. They spoke to those at table on business or the news of the day, and our host spoke freely to them” (“Parables”). Bernard beautifully says: “Thanks to thee, most blessed sinner: thou hast shown the world a safe enough place for sinners - the feet of Jesus, which spurn none, reject none, repel none, and receive and admit all. Where alone the Pharisee vents not his haughtiness, there surely the Ethiopian changes his skin, and the leopard his spots” (cit. by Trench, “Parables”).

Sat ( κατάκειται )

Lit., is reclining at meat: a lively change to the present tense.


See on Matthew 26:7.

Verse 38

At his feet behind

The body of the guest rested on the couch; the feet were turned from the table toward the walls, and the left elbow rested on the table.

Wash ( βρέχειν )

More literally and better, as Rev., wet, as with rain.

Wiped ( ἐξέμασσεν )

See on Luke 5:2.

Verse 41

Creditor ( δανειστῇ ) δάνειον , a loan. Properly a lender of money at interest. Rev., lender. See on Luke 6:34:.

Pence ( δηνάρια )

See on Matthew 20:2.

Verse 42

Frankly forgave ( ἐχαρίσατο )

Rev. omits frankly, which is implied in the verb. See on Luke 7:21.

Verse 43

I suppose ( ὑπολαμβάνω )

The verb literally means to take up by getting under. It might be rendered, accordingly, I take it.

Verse 45

Ceased ( διέλιπεν )

Only here in New Testament. Common in medical language, meaning to be intermittent, and to discontinue giving remedies for a time.

To kiss ( καταφιλοῦσα )

The compound verb has the force of kissing tenderly, caressing.

Verse 46

Oil ( ἐλαίῳ )

In Luke 7:37, Luke 7:38, the word μύρον , liquid ointment, is used. This was the finer and costlier of the two. Christ means to say to Simon, “thou didst not anoint my head, the nobler part, with ordinary oil. She hath anointed my feet with costly ointment.

Verse 49

They began

Luke notes the first uprising of the thought.

Within themselves ( ἐν ἑαυτοῖς )

Better, among themselves, as Rev., in margin.

Also ( καὶ )

Much better as Rev., “who even forgiveth sins.”

Verse 50

In peace ( εἰς εἰρήνην )

Lit., into peace. See on Mark 5:34.


Copyright Statement
The text of this work is public domain.

Bibliography Information
Vincent, Marvin R. DD. "Commentary on Luke 7:4". "Vincent's Word Studies in the New Testament". Charles Schribner's Sons. New York, USA. 1887.

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