17:1 And he said unto his disciples, It is impossible2 but that occasions of stumbling should come3; but woe unto him, through whom they come! SECOND GREAT GROUP OF PARABLES. (Probably in Perea.) G. CONCERNING OFFENSES, FAITH, AND SERVICE. Luke 17:1-10
And he said unto the disciples. Jesus here ceases to speak to the
Pharisees, and begins a new series of sayings addressed to the disciples,
which sayings are, however, pertinent to the occasion, and not wholly
disconnected with what he has just been saying.
It is impossible. In a world where Pharisees abound (1 Corinthians
But that occasions of stumbling should come. See Matthew
17:2 It were well
for him if a millstone were hanged about his neck1, and he
were thrown into the sea, rather than that he should
cause one of these little ones2 to
It were well for him if a millstone were hanged about his neck,
etc. See Mark
9:42. Not the large millstone mentioned by Mark and Matthew, but the
small one which was turned by hand. See Mark
Rather than that he should cause one of these little ones.
Beginners in the faith, or weaklings (Romans
To stumble. See Mark
17:3 Take heed to
yourselves1: if thy brother sin,
rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive him2.
Take heed to yourselves. Our dangers are not overpassed when we
avoid giving offenses, fir it is also required of us that we should forgive
the evils which we receive.
If thy brother sin, rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive him.
Righteousness has its obligation to rebuke as well as love has to forgive.
17:4 And if he sin
against thee seven times in the day1, and
seven times turn again to thee2, saying,
I repent; thou shalt forgive him3.
And if he sin against thee seven times in the day. A general
expression indicating a great number of times. See Matthew
And seven times turn again to thee. See Matthew
Saying, I repent; thou shalt forgive him. The passage differs from
that in Matthew in that the repentance of the sinner is required as a
condition precedent to forgiveness.
17:5 And the
apostles said unto the Lord, Increase our faith1.
And the apostles said unto the Lord, Increase our faith. The
apostles asked for faith that they might be able to fulfill the great moral
requirements which Jesus had just revealed. Our Lord sanctions the wisdom of
their prayer by showing the greatness of faith.
17:6 And the Lord said, If
ye had faith as a grain of mustard seed1, ye
would say unto this sycamine tree2, Be thou rooted up, and
be thou planted in the sea; and it would obey you.
If ye had faith as a grain of mustard seed. See Matthew
17:20. Says Godet,
"The only real power of the universe is the divine will. The human
will, which has discovered the secret of blending with this force of forces,
is raised, in virtue of this union, to omnipotence."
But our distance from omnipotence measures how far we are from attaining
that desired union of will.
Ye would say unto this sycamine tree. The sycamine tree is the
well-known black mulberry tree, which belongs to the same natural order as
the fig-tree, and is a tree distinguished for being deeply rooted.
17:7 But who is
there of you1, having a servant plowing or keeping sheep,
that will say unto him, when he is come in from the field, Come straightway and
sit down to meat;
But who is there of you, etc. In this passage, which is in the
nature of a parable, Jesus teaches that duty is coextensive with ability,
and explodes the doctrine that it is impossible for a man to do "works
of supererogation". Since in God's sight no man can even do his full
143:2), it is impossible that he can do MORE than his duty. We may be
rewarded for the discharge of our duty, but the reward is of grace and not
of merit. Compare Luke
12:3-48. The theme is no doubt suggested by Luke
17:6. When one's faith endows him with great gifts he need not consider
himself as an unusually profitable servant for he can do no more than it is
his duty to do. Godet denies this connection with Luke
17:6, contending that miracles are not among "the things that are
commanded", and for those who could bestow it, a gift of healing was as
much an obligation as a gift of alms (Matthew
3:1-6). The paragraph is a fitting close to a discourse so much of which
relates to Pharisaism.
17:11 And it came
to pass, as they were on their way to Jerusalem, that he was passing along the
borders of Samaria and Galilee1.
JOURNEY TO JERUSALEM. TEN LEPERS. CONCERNING THE KINGDOM. (Borders of Samaria
and Galilee.) Luke
And it came to pass, as they were on their way to Jerusalem, that he
was passing along the borders of Samaria and Galilee. If our chronology
is correct, Jesus passed northward from Ephraim about forty miles, crossing
Samaria (here mentioned first), and coming to the border of Galilee. He then
turned eastward along that border down the wady Bethshean which separates
the two provinces, and crossed the Jordan into Perea, where we soon find him
moving on toward Jericho in the midst of the caravan of pilgrims on the way
to the Passover.
17:12 And as he entered into a certain
village, there met him ten men that were lepers, who
stood afar off1:
There met him ten men that were lepers, who stood afar off. One may
still meet such groups of lepers outside the villages. They do not stand
directly in the road so as to make an actual meeting, but are off to one
side and near enough to beg. The law required lepers to keep away from the
rest of the people (Leviticus
13:45,46). The rabbis are said to have prescribed a fixed distance at
which lepers must keep, but authority varies as to this distance, some
giving it as a rod (sixteen and a half feet, or five meters), and others as
high as a hundred paces (five hundred feet).
17:13 and they
lifted up their voices1, saying,
Jesus, Master, have mercy on us2.
And they lifted up their voices. Such as they had, for the leper's
bronchial tubes are dry, and the voice is harsh and squeaky.
Saying, Jesus, Master, have mercy on us. Considering their
condition, their prayer was definite enough.
17:14 And when he
saw them1, he said unto them, Go
and show yourselves unto the priests2. And
it came to pass, as they went, they were cleansed3.
And when he saw them. The disciples about him probably at first
obstructed the Lord's view.
Go and show yourselves unto the priests. See Matthew
And it came to pass, as they went, they were cleansed. They
received the blessing when they showed their faith by their obedience.
17:15 And one of
them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back1, with
a loud voice glorifying God2;
And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back. Like
Naaman (2 Kings
With a loud voice glorifying God. A voice made strong by health and
17:16 and he fell upon his face at his
feet, giving him thanks: and he was a Samaritan1.
He was a Samaritan. On his way to the priests at Mt. Gerizim the
Samaritan turned back to express his thanks. Apparently nine of the lepers
were Jews. A Samaritan was among them because they were along the border of
the country, and because the fellowship of affliction and disease
obliterated the distinctions of race, as it does to this day. In the
leper-houses at Jerusalem, Mohammedans and Jews now live together despite
the rancor existing between the healthy representatives of these two
17:17 And Jesus answering said, Were not
the ten cleansed? but where are the nine?
Were there not the ten cleansed? but where are the nine? The Lord
publicly noted the indifference and ingratitude of the nine and the
thanksgiving of the tenth. As we look around today and see how many are
ungrateful for the blessings which they receive, the words ring like an echo
in our ears.
17:18 Were there
none found that returned to give glory to God1, save
Were there none found that returned to give glory to God. It
sometimes happens that we receive most where we expect least.
Save this stranger? Though the Samaritan's religion was partly
Jewish, yet by blood he was a foreigner, as the word "stranger"
17:19 And he said unto him, Arise,
and go thy way: thy faith hath made thee whole1.
Arise, and go thy way: thy faith hath made thee whole. Thus Jesus
emphasized the fact that the blessing came through faith, encouraging the
man to seek higher blessings by the same means.
17:20 And being
asked by the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God cometh1, he
answered them and said, The kingdom of God cometh not with observation2:
And being asked by the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God cometh.
The question of the Pharisees was doubtless a covert criticism. More than
three years before this Jesus had begun to say that the kingdom of heaven
was at hand (Matthew
4:17); and they thought that after all this preparation it was high time
that the kingdom should commence.
He answered them and said, The kingdom of God cometh not with
observation. The Pharisees were looking for some manifestation of the
sovereignty of God in the realm of the civil and the external, which would
raise the Jewish nation to conspicuous supremacy, but they are told that the
work of the kingdom is internal and spiritual (John
1:27), and that its effects are not such as can be located in space.
They were seeking honors and joys, and would find contempt and sorrow (Amos
17:21 neither shall they say, Lo, here!
or, There! for lo, the kingdom of God is within you1.
The kingdom of God is within you. Some have thought it strange than
Jesus should say "within you" when addressing the Pharisees, but
the word "you" is used generally and indefinitely.
17:22 And he said unto the disciples, The
days will come, when ye shall desire to see one of the days of the Son of man,
and ye shall not see it2.
And he said unto his disciples. Giving them instructions suggested
by the question of the Pharisees.
The days will come, when ye shall desire to see one of the days of the
Son of man, and ye shall not see it. If the Pharisees looked eagerly for
a sensuous external Messianic kingdom, so also would the disciples be
tempted in the days to come to cherish a somewhat similar yearning. Knowing
that Jesus was to come again to rule in power and in great glory, they
would, under the stress of persecution, hunger to see one of the days of his
rule. The longing for the coming of the Christ is frequently expressed (Philippians
17:23 And they
shall say to you, Lo, there! Lo, here! go not away, nor follow after [them]1:
And they shall say to you, Lo, there! Lo, here! go not away, nor follow
after [them]. In their restless eagerness the unwary disciples would be
tempted to follow the false Messiahs who excited widespread admiration and
17:24 for as the
lightning, when it lighteneth out of the one part under the heaven, shineth unto
the other part under heaven1; so
shall the Son of man be in his day2.
For as the lightning, when it lighteneth out of the one part under the
heaven, shineth unto the other part under heaven. Against all this Jesus
warns them, telling them that when the kingdom of heaven does at last assume
a visible shape in the manifestation of its King, that manifestation will be
so glorious, universal and pronounced as to be absolutely unmistakable.
So shall the Son of man be in his day. See Acts
26:13; 2 Thessalonians
17:25 But first
must he suffer many things and be rejected of this generation1.
But first must he suffer many things and be rejected of this generation.
Thus when he speaks of his glory Jesus is careful to mention the humiliation
and suffering which precedes it, that the faith of his disciples may not be
weakened by false expectations and misunderstandings. The day of glory was
not for that generation, since it would reject him.
17:26 And as it
came to pass in the days of Noah1, even so shall it be
also in the days of the Son of man.
As it came to pass in the days of Noah. See Genesis
7:11-23. Our Lord here gives us two historical incidents of the false
security of the ungodly, and in doing so he endorses them as real history.
17:27 They ate,
they drank, they married, they were given in marriage1, until
the day that Noah entered into the ark, and the flood came2,
and destroyed them all.
They ate, they drank, they married, they were given in marriage.
The antediluvians and the citizens of Sodom discharged the business of the
day and laid their plans for tomorrow and had no thought of evil or
anticipation of trouble down to the very moment that the bowls of wrath were
poured upon them.
Until the day that Noah entered into the ark, and the flood came,
and destroyed them all. Despite all warnings, they were taken by
surprise when completely off their guard.
even as it came to pass in the days of Lot1; they ate,
they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they builded;
Likewise even as it came to pass in the days of Lot. See Genesis
17:29 but in the
day that Lot went out from Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven, and
destroyed them all1:
But in the day that Lot went out from Sodom it rained fire and
brimstone from heaven, and destroyed them all. See Luke
17:30 after the
same manner shall it be in the day that the Son of man is revealed1.
After the same manner shall it be in the day that the Son of man is
revealed. The coming of Christ shall be a like surprise to the people of
the last day (Matthew
12:39; 1 Thessalonians
5:2; 2 Peter
16:15), and it shall be a day of like punishment (2 Thessalonians
17:31 In that
day, he that shall be on the housetop1, and
his goods in the house, let him not go down to take them away2:
and let him that is in the field likewise not return back.
In that day, he that shall be on the housetop. The flat roofs of
Oriental houses are used much the same as we use porches.
And his goods in the house, let him not go down to take them away.
It seems strange that the terrors of the last day should be accompanied by
any thought or concern for property, but such is the plain intimation of the
Remember Lot's wife. See Genesis
9:62. If our hope has been centered upon earthly things, we will be
found seeking them even in that hour, just as the face of Lot's wife was
turned toward Sodom despite the glare of the penal fires. Our earthly
characters become fixed, and great catastrophes do not change them (Revelation
shall seek to gain his life shall lose it: but whosoever shall lose [his life]
shall preserve it1.
Whosoever shall seek to gain his life shall lose it: but whosoever
shall lose [his life] shall preserve it. If in that hour we be found
seeking to save out carnal treasures, it will be a sign that we have lost
the spiritual from our lives and have no heavenly treasures.
17:34 I say unto you, In
that night there shall be two men on one bed; the one shall be taken, and the
other shall be left1.
In that night there shall be two men on one bed; the one shall be
taken, and the other shall be left. Day and night exist simultaneously
upon the earth, and the Lord's coming will be at noon to some and at
midnight to others. His saints will be found mingled with the rest of the
people and engaged in duties befitting the hour. But the Lord will receive
them to himself as his own (John
14:3; 1 Thessalonians
4:17), and they will be ready to be detached from their worldly ties
that they may go to meet and welcome the bridegroom at his coming (Matthew
17:35 There shall
be two women grinding together1; the
one shall be taken, and the other shall be left2.
There shall be two women grinding together. Making meal or flour
with the little stone hand-mills, as they still do in the East.
The one shall be taken, and the other shall be left. See Luke
17:37 And they
answering say unto him, Where, Lord1? And
he said unto them, Where the body [is], thither will the eagles also be gathered
And they answering say unto him, Where, Lord? The disciples desired
to know where this manifestation and division would take place, looking upon
it as a local prediction.
And he said unto them, Where the body [is], thither will the eagles
also be gathered together. Jesus gave a proverbial answer, the meaning
of which is that sin courts and draws to itself punishment and destruction
just as a carcass draws winged scavengers. Applying his words, we may say
that as the corruption of the antediluvians drew upon them, the devastation
of the flood, and as the crimes of the Sodomites called down upon them, the
fires from heaven, and as the unbelief of the Jews of Christ's day caused
the destruction of Jerusalem and the death of the nation, so the wickedness
of the men of the last times will result in the ending of the world. The
word translated "eagles" is generic, and included the vultures
also (Pliny, Nat. Hist. 9:3). It is likely that the Revision Committee
retained the word "eagles" instead of vultures because of the
mistaken notion of Lightfoot and others that our Lord here makes a covert
allusion to the eagles which were borne upon the Roman standards. A passage
similar to the latter part of this section is found at Matthew