Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary - Alford
And he spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint;Chap. 18:1-8.] The unjust judge. This parable, though not perhaps spoken in immediate unbroken sequence after the last discourse, evidently arose out of it:—perhaps was the fruit of a conversation with the disciples about the day of His coming and the mind with which they must expect it. For observe that in its direct application it is ecclesiastical; and not individual, but by a legitimate accommodation. The widow is the Church; the judge, her God and Father in heaven. The argument, as in the parable of the steward τῆς ἀδικίας, so in this of the κριτὴς τῆς ἀδικίας, is à fortiori: ‘If such be the power of earnest entreaty, that it can win right even from a man sunk in selfishness and fearing neither God nor men, how much more will the right be done by the just and holy God in answer to the continued prayers of his elect:’ even though, when this very right is asserted in the world by the coming of the Son of Man, He may hardly find among his people the power to believe it—though few of them will have shewn this unweariedness of entreaty which the poor widow shewed?
1.] πρός, with reference to. πάντοτε
πάντοτε] See 1Thessalonians 5:17.
The mind of prayer, rather than, though of course including, the outward act, is here intended. The earnest desire of the heart is prayer.
ἐγκακεῖν (= ἐκκακεῖν, .: see note 2Corinthians 4:1)—to languish,—to give up through the weight of overpowering evil.
τὸν θ. μὴ φ. κ. ἄνθ. μὴ ἐντ.] A common form of expression for an unprincipled and reckless person, see instances in Wetstein.
3. ἐκδίκ.] deliver me from—the justice of her cause being presupposed—this adversary being her oppressor on account of her defenceless situation, and she wanting a sentence from the judge to stop his practices.
4.] ἐπὶ χρ.… for some time, not, ‘for a long time.’ τλῆτε, φίλοι, καὶ μείνατʼ ἐπὶ χρόνον, Il. β. 299:—for a while, E. V.
The point of this part of the parable is, the extortion of right from such a man by importunity. His act was not an act of justice, but of injustice; his very ἐκδίκησις was ἀδικία, because he did it from self-regard, and not from a sense of duty. He, like the steward above, was τῆς ἀδικίας,—belonging to, being of, the iniquity which prevails in the world.
5.] εἰς τέλος belongs to ἐρχομένη, as in E. V., but has a stronger force than there—lest coming for ever, she … ὑπωπιάζῃ,
ὑπωπιάζῃ,from ὑπώπιον, the part of the cheek immediately beneath the eyes, signifies literally to smite in the face;—and proverbially (see reff.), to mortify or incessantly annoy. It answers exactly to the Latin obtundo, which Terence has in this sense, ‘Ne me obtundas hac de re sæpius,’ Adelph. i. 2. 33; and . fr.—Livy, ‘Neque ego obtundam, sæpius eadem nequicquam agendo,’ ii. 15. The Greek word does not appear to be any where used in this sense;—so that the use of it here may be a Latinism, as Grotius thought. Meyer interprets it literally—‘lest at last she should become desperate and come and strike me in the face.’ It has been observed that the Apostles acted from this very motive when they besought the Lord to send away the Syrophœnician woman,—‘for she cried after them.’ Matthew 15:23.
6.] On ὁ κρ. τ. ἀδ. see above, and on ch. 16:9.
7.] The poor widow in this case (the forsaken Church, contending with her adversary the devil, 1Peter 5:8) has this additional claim, in which the right of her cause consists,—that she is the Elect of God,—His Beloved.
ἡμέρας κ. νυκτός] This answers to the πάντοτε in ver. 1, but is an amplification of it.
κ. μακροθυμεῖ … and He delays his vengeance in their case:—and He, in their case, is long-suffering. ‘Est in hac voce dilationis significatio, quæ ut debitori prodest, ita gravis est ei qui vim patitur.’ Grotius. The rec. reading, μακροθυμῶν, conveys the same meaning, καί being understood as καίπερ. This is perhaps what the E. V. means by ‘though He bear long with them,’ which is ambiguous as it stands. The μακροθ. has no doubt a general reference also to God’s dealing with man: see 2Peter 3:9, 2Peter 3:15.
8.] ἐν τάχει will not bear the meaning ‘swiftly,’ i.e. ‘suddenly, when it comes,’ but (see reff.) is shortly—soon, speedily, as E. V. And this is no inconsistency with μακροθυμεῖ: see 2Peter 3:8, 2Peter 3:9.
πλὴν …] See the beginning of this note. This can hardly be, as Meyer interprets it, that the painful thought suddenly occurs to the Lord, how many there will be even at His coming who will not have received Him as the Messiah: for ἡ πίστις, though ‘faith’ generally, is yet here faith in reference to the object of the parable—faith which has endured in prayer without fainting. Or the meaning may be general and objective; as in reff.
9-14.] The Pharisee and the Publican. This parable is spoken not to the Pharisees, for our Lord would not in their presence have chosen a Pharisee as an example: nor concerning the Pharisees, for then it would have been no parable—but to the people, and with reference to some among them (then and always) τοὺς πεπ. ὅτι εἰσὶν δίκ., who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised other men.
The parable describes an every day occurrence: the parabolic character is given by the concurrence and grouping of the two, and by the fact that each of these represents psychologically a class of persons.
9.] πρός, to, not concerning: it was concerning them, it is true:—but this word expresses that it was spoken to them. The usage of πρός in ver. 1 is no example for the sense concerning, for it is not there so used of persons, but with a neuter article and infinitive: εἶπεν πρὸς αὐτοὺς παρ. is too general a phrase, to allow of any other interpretation than the ordinary one, where the context will bear it.
πεποιθ. ἐφʼ ἑαυτ., not, ‘were persuaded of themselves,’ as Greswell renders; but as E. V., trusted in themselves: see reff.
10, 11.] πρὸς ἑαυτόν belongs to προσηύχ. (cf. Mark 14:4), not to σταθείς: that would be καθʼ ἑαυτόν, see James 2:17. He stood (in the ordinary place), and prayed thus with himself, as E. V.,—‘apud animum suum:’—such a prayer he would not dare to put up aloud (Meyer). The Church has admirably fitted to this parable the declaration of thankfulness in 1Corinthians 15:9, 1Corinthians 15:10 (the two being the Epistle and Gospel for the Eleventh Sunday after Trinity), also made by a Pharisee, and also on the ground ‘that he was not as other men:’—but how different in its whole spirit and effect! There, in the deepest humility, he ascribes it to the grace of God that he laboured more abundantly than they all;—yet, not I, but the grace of God that was with me. 12. νηστ. δὶς τ. σ.
12. νηστ. δὶς τ. σ.] This was a voluntary fast, on the Mondays and Thursdays; the only prescribed fast in the year being the great day of atonement, see Leviticus 16:29: Numbers 29:7. So that he is boasting of his works of supererogation.
ἀποδ. πάντα] Here again, the law perhaps (but cf. Abraham’s practice, Genesis 14:20; and Jacob’s, Genesis 28:22) only required tithe of the fruit of the field, and the produce of the cattle: see on Matthew 23:23.
κτῶμαι] Not I possess, which would be κέκτημαι—but I acquire;—of all my increase: see Deuteronomy 14:22. His speech shews admirably what his πεποίθησις ἐφʼ ἑαυτῷ was.
13.] μακρόθεν—far from the Pharisee;—a contrast in spirit to the other’s thanks that he was not as other men, is furnished by the poor Publican in his humility acknowledging this by an act.
οὐδὲ τ. ὀφθ.] Another contrast,—for we must here suppose that the Pharisee prayed with all significance of gesture, with eyes and hands uplifted (see Matthew 6:5). There is a slight but true difference also in σταθείς of the Pharisee—‘being put in position’ (answering to ‘being seated’ of the other usual posture), and ἑστώς of the publican,—‘standing;’—coming in merely and remaining, in no studied place or posture. So Tacitus, Hist. iv. 72, ‘stabant conscientia flagitii mœstæ fixis in terram oculis:’—see also Ezra 9:6.
ἔτυπ. [εἰς] τ. στ.] See ch. 23:48, ‘præ dolore animi: ubi dolor, ibi manus.’ Bengel.
There may be a stress on τῷ . ἁμαρτ., ‘me the sinner.’ Gresw. But see reff., where, as probably here, the art. is generic. It seems to me that any emphatic comparison here would somewhat detract from the solemnity and simplicity of the prayer (agst. Stier, iii. 384, edn. 2). The τῷ rather implies, not comparison with others, but intense self-abasement: “sinner that I am.” Nor are we to find any doctrinal meanings in ἱλάσθ.: we know of one only way, in which the prayer could be accomplished: but the words here have no reference to that, nor could they have.
14.] The sense is, One returned home in the sight of God with his prayer answered, and that prayer had grasped the true object of prayer,—the forgiveness of sins (so that δεδ. is in the usual sense of the Epistles of Paul, justified before God—see reff.), the other prayed not for it, and obtained it not. Therefore he who would seek justification before God must seek it by humility and not by self-righteousness.
ὅτι πᾶς ὁ ὑψῶν ἑαυτ. has been illustrated in the demeanour of the Pharisee;—ταπεινωθ. in his failure to obtain justification from God:—ταπεινῶν ἑαυτόν in that of the Publican;—ὑψωθήσ. in his obtaining the answer to his prayer, which was this justification. Thus the particular instance is bound up with the general truth.
15-17.] Little children brought to Christ. Here the narrative of Luke again falls in with those of Matthew and Mark, after a divergence of nearly nine chapters: see note on ch. 9:51.Matthew 19:13-15.Mark 10:13-16. The narrative part of our text is distinct from the two; the words of our Lord are verbatim as Mark: see notes on Matt. The place and time indicated here are the same as before, from ch. 17:11.
15.] καὶ τὰ βρέφη—their infants also; not the people came only, but also brought their children. Or, the art. may be merely generic, as in E. V.
βρ. points out more distinctly the tender age of the children than παιδία.
18-30.] Question of a rich ruler: our Lord’s answer, and discourse thereupon. Matthew 19:16-30. Mark 10:17-31. The only addition in our narrative is that the young man was a ruler,—perhaps of the synagogue: see notes on Matt. and Mark.
31-34.] Fuller declaration of his sufferings and death. Matthew 20:17-19. Mark 10:32-34. The narrative of the journey now passes to the last section of it,—the going up to Jerusalem, properly so called; that which in Matt. and Mark forms the whole journey. We know from John 11:54 that this journey took place from Ephraim, a city near the desert.
31.] The dative (commodi) τῷ υἱῷ belongs to γεγραμμένα—as in E. V.: see Winer in reff.
32.] The betrayal is omitted here, which is unaccountable if Luke saw Matthew’s account, as also the omission of the crucifying, this being the first announcement of it: see a similar omission in ch. 9:45.
34.] Peculiar to Luke.
οὐδὲν τούτων—i.e. neither the sufferings nor the resurrection. All was as yet hidden from them, and it seems not to have been till very shortly before the event itself that they had any real expectation of its happening.
I have on Matt. spoken of the discrepancy of his narrative from the two others. The supposition that they were two miracles is perfectly monstrous; and would at once destroy the credit of Matthew as a truthful narrator. If further proof of their identity were wanting to any one, we might find it in the fact that the following expressions are common to Mark and Luke. In Matt. of course they are in the plural, as he has two blind men.—ἐκάθητο παρὰ τ. ὁδὸν ἐπαιτῶν (προσαίτης ἐκαθ. π. τ. ὁδ.)—Ιησοῦς ὁ Ναζωραῖος (-αρηνός)—ἐπετίμων αὐτῷ ἵνα σιγήσῃ (σιωπ-)—αὐτὸς (ὁ) δὲ πολλῷ μᾶλλον ἔκραζεν υἱὲ Δ. ἐλέησόν με—τί σοι θέλεις ποιήσω (θ. π. σ.)—κύριε (ῥαββουνί Mark as usual) ἵνα ἀναβλέψω—ἡ πίστις σου σέσωκέν σε.
39.] οἱ προάγ. = ὁ ὄχλος Matt. = πολλοί Mark.
43.] Peculiar (except ἠκολούθει αὐτῷ, which all three relate) to Luke;—his usual way of terminating such narrations, as it certainly was the result of such a miracle: see ch. 13:17; 9:43; 5:26. He, of the three Evangelists, takes most notice of the glory given to God on account of the miraculous acts of the Lord Jesus.