Lange Commentary on the Holy Scriptures
Then he called his twelve disciples together, and gave them power and authority over all devils, and to cure diseases.4. The Son of Man proclaimed by the Twelve, feared by Herod, honored by the Company which He had fed
(Parallels: Matt. 10:5–15; 14:1; 14:13–21; Mark 6:7–16; 6:31–46; John 6:1–14.)
a. THE SENDING FORTH OF THE TWELVE APOSTLES (Luke 9:1–6)
1Then he called his twelve disciples [the twelve; om., disciples] together, and gave 2them power and authority over all devils [the demons], and to cure diseases. And he 3sent them to preach [proclaim] the kingdom of God, and to heal the sick.1 And he said unto them, Take nothing for your journey, neither staves, nor scrip [wallet], neither bread, neither money; neither have two coats [tunics] apiece. 4And whatsoever house ye enter into, there abide, and thence depart. 5And whosoever will not receive you, when ye go out of that city, shake off the very dust from your feet for a testimony against them. 6And they departed, and went through the towns, preaching the gospel, and healing every where.
EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL
HARMONY.—The raising of Jairus’ daughter is immediately followed by two other miracles, which Matthew alone relates, Luke 9:27–34. Hereupon the Saviour appears to have undertaken a new journey through Galilee, and to have convinced Himself repeatedly of the exceeding spiritual necessity of the people. (Ibid. Luke 9:35, 36.) He therefore exhorts His disciples to entreat the Lord of the harvest for laborers (Luke 9:37, 38), and gives them finally opportunity with this praying to unite working, and themselves to lay their hand to the plough.
In the narrative of the sending out of the twelve apostles, also, the briefer account of Luke must be complemented by that of Matthew and Mark. It then appears that the Saviour sent them out two and two, and in their instructions, according to the statement of all the Synoptics, adduces the expulsion of the demons as a special and main part of their activity, clearly distinguished from the healing of ordinary illnesses. The discourse given on this occasion is communicated by Matthew far more in detail and more precisely than by the two others. Luke merely, Luke 9:3–6, communicates somewhat of the first part of it (Matt. 10:5–15), while we find again some elements of the continuation in the tenth and twelfth chapters.
Luke 9:1. The Twelve.—Although weighty testimonies declare for the reading τοὺς δώδεκα μαθητὰς αὐτοῦ, it must not be overlooked that Luke usually uses οἱ δώδεκα as a standing formula, and that other manuscripts use the word ἀποστόλους, which appears to be an interpolation by a later hand, as well as the former, which is borrowed from a parallel passage in Matt. 10:1. At the same time, Matthew here gives the names of the twelve apostles, which Luke had earlier communicated in another connection (Luke 6:12–16). Luke, on the other hand, is more particular in stating the substance of their instruction, and mentions also the κηρ. τὴν βασ. τοῦ θ., while the two others speak only of miraculous acts. As to the manner in which the δὐναμις καὶ ἐξουσία may have been imparted to them, comp. LANGE on Matthew, 10:1.
Luke 9:3. Take nothing,—There is some difference among the Synoptics in reference to the instruction given to the Twelve as to their preparations for the journey. According to all three, they were to take no money in their purses, no change of coats, and no provision of food. According to Mark and Luke, the taking of bread with them is also not permitted, as to which Matthew is silent. But while according to Matthew and Mark, Luke 9:8, they might take a staff alone, we find according to Matthew and Mark, this also forbidden them (for the reading ῥάβδους is apparently not genuine). We believe that Mark, who here alone gives the narration in an oratio obliqua, expresses himself more freely than the two others. The spirit of the command is, however, according to all, the same. The Saviour speaks of that which they must procure for the journey. If they already had a staff they were permitted to take it with them (Mark), but if they possessed none, they were not to buy one (Matthew and Luke). Nothing were they to take with them, nothing were they to take to them in requital of their benefits. Their history instructs us how the apostles understood these commands: the last literally, as the curse of Peter upon Simon Magus shows, Acts 8:20, the former in the spirit of wisdom, e.g. 2 Corinthians 11:12; 2 Timothy 4:13.
Luke 9:4. There abide.—Comp. Luke 10:7. Wander not from house to house.—Thence depart.—From thence continue your journey without having capriciously chosen another abode.
Luke 9:5. And whosoever will not receive you.—Comp. Matt. 10:14. With Lachmann and Tischendorf, it seems that we must unquestionably read δέξωνται, since δέχωνται is borrowed from parallel passages. The shaking off of the dust, a symbolical action, as a testimony against them, as Theophylact says: εἰς ἔλεγχον αὐτῶν καὶ κατάκρισιν. From Acts 13:51, we see how the apostles casu quo followed this command of the Saviour literally.
DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL
1. In investigating the purpose of this missionary journey of the Twelve, too little notice perhaps has been taken of the word of the Saviour, Matt. 9:38. With no warrant whatever has this journey been often considered as a kind of practising for the future work of the Twelve. The Saviour at least gives not a single hint that He will have it so understood. Nor was the practice of having probationary sermons by destined preachers of the gospel at His time as yet in use. As little did this mission serve to prepare for the personal arrival of Jesus in some towns and villages of Galilee. It is at least not to be proved that the apostles came into towns where He was wholly unknown; moreover, it would have little accorded with His wisdom to have let the gospel even during His life to be brought into places, and that by inexperienced men, where as yet they did not know Himself. No. The Twelve were not to go before, but here and there to return upon His track; not in order to sow but in order first to reap, does He bid them to go forth: not to begin what He will continue, but rather to continue what He Himself has already begun. Thus does all become clear. Thus does it appear why they had at each time to inquire who was worthy to receive them; in other words, who was favorably disposed in reference to the Saviour and the cause of His kingdom. Thus does their right to shake off the dust become manifest, which for the rejection of a first preaching was almost too stern, but for the spurning of a renewed essay, was fully justified. Thus first do we get a true light as to the prohibition of extensive preparations for journeying. For they were not going as strangers among enemies, but as friends unto a region where the Saviour Himself had already prepared a way for them. And thus does it at the same time become plain why He let them just now undertake this journey. Already had He denounced against the impenitent cities of Galilee the judgment threatened them, Matt. 11:20–24, but now He will through His apostles make a last attempt to win the apostates to Himself. The more He beholds in the spirit the unfolding of the great drama of His life, the more does He proceed with the thundering tread of decision. Ever more threateningly do the parties begin to stand over against one another; in order that now the thoughts of hearts may become more manifest does He now send forth His apostles. They are to water the seed already sown by Him for the kingdom of heaven: to tend with care what promises fruit: and what shows itself as tares to make known to Him as such: in a word, to be workers for the harvest.
2. As respects the duration of this journey, it can be as little determined as the names of the towns and villages visited. But surely it endured longer than a day (against Wieseler, l. c. p. 291), as certainly some time is always required to go from town to town, to seek out the worthy, and abide there, &c. But if we consider that they, divided into six pairs, traversed only one part of Galilee, and were as yet in no way adapted to get on independently, it is not then probable that the Saviour was many days or weeks separated from the Twelve. Apparently He waited for them meanwhile at Capernaum, and when, after their return, the miracle of the Loaves took place, the second passover was no longer far distant, John 6:4. As we hold the view that the sermon at Nazareth only took place once, and that at the time indicated by Luke, Luke 4:16–30, it is therefore not necessary for us to intercalate immediately after this mission of the Twelve the narrative Matt. 13:54–58; Mark 6:1–6.
3. Although the exercising of the apostles was not here the main matter, yet even on our view there is displayed in this mission, in a lovely light, as well the wisdom of the Saviour in the training of His witnesses, as also His love to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. The healing activity for which power is bestowed upon them, is at the same time a striking symbol of that which evangelization and missionary labor must even now everywhere accomplish wherever it directs its steps. And the spirit which the Saviour, even according to the brief redaction of Luke, has here commended to His witnesses, unconcern about earthly matters, freedom from pretension, but also holy zeal where their word is obstinately disdained, must even now not be missing in any one who will bear His name with honor among baptized or unbaptized heathen.
4. “Love to a convenient life is a great hinderance to the work of God in an evangelist, for it is with the poor who cannot afford it him that he has most to do, Luke 7:22, and the rich are far more apt to draw him into such a life than he to draw them from it. The world must know that one does not seek it for its goods, and that he has no communion with it but for its salvation. If it will not hear of that, then we must go forth from it.” O. Von Gerlach.
HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL
The apostolic authority: 1. Its extent, 2. its grounds, 3. its purpose, 4. its limits.—The missionary of the gospel at the same time the physician of souls.—The evangelizing journey of the witnesses of the Lord, their equipment, aim, fruit.—Who first seeks the kingdom of God and its righteousness may trust that all other things shall be added to him.—Freely ye have received, freely give.—The testimony for the believing and against the unbelieving world.—How the faithful servant cares for the honor of the Lord, the Lord for the necessity of His faithful servant.—The gospel of the kingdom must everywhere be preached.—The preaching of the gospel an act of the obedience of faith.—The spirit of domestic missions.
STARKE:—CRAMER:—The sacred ministry still delivers man from the power of Satan.—To the ministry pertains a regular call, both internal and external.—HEDINGER:—Whoever serves the gospel is to live therefrom, 1 Corinthians 9:14.—CANSTEIN:—If the disciples of Christ, for the sake of convenience, were not to go from one house to another, much less should preachers, for greater accommodation, seek after better parishes.—The ministry not an otium, but a gravissimum negotium.
Luke 9:2.—Tischendorf, supported by Meyer, has simply ἰᾶσθαι, without a following accusative. The variations: τους ασθενουντας, τους ασθενεις, τους νοσουντας, παντας τους ασθενουντας, and omnes infirmitates (Brix.), are so numerous, that it is almost certain that they were introduced by different transcribers as natural complements of ἰᾶσθαι. Tregelles brackets the accusative. B. is the only uncial, however, which omits it.—C. C. S.]
Now Herod the tetrarch heard of all that was done by him: and he was perplexed, because that it was said of some, that John was risen from the dead;b. THE ALARM OF HEROD (Luke 9:7–9)
7Now Herod the tetrarch heard of all that was done by him [om., by him, V. O.2]: and he was perplexed, because that it was said of [by] some, that John was risen from 8the dead; And of [by] some, that Elias [Elijah] had appeared; and of [by] others, that one of the old prophets was risen again. 9And Herod said, John have I beheaded; but who is this, of whom I hear such things? And he desired to see him.
EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL
Luke 9:7. Now Herod the tetrarch.—Comp. Matt. 14:1–12; Mark 6:16–29. Matthew and Mark have united the account of Herod’s trouble of conscience with that of the beheading of John. Luke, who had already, Luke 3:19, 20, related the imprisonment of the Baptist, intimates here, with only a word, its end; on the other hand, his Gospel is, in its turn, particularly rich in traits of importance for the psychology of Herod, which at the same time depict to us the ever-deepening degeneracy of the tyrant in a moral respect. Comp. Luke 13:31–33; 23:6–12.
All that was done.—As well by the Lord Himself as by His messengers, who in these very days were in His name casting out devils. The terror of Herod becomes more comprehensible if we consider that the beheading of the Baptist had taken place in the same period, and that therefore his conscience had had as yet no time to go to sleep. Although John, during his life, did no miracles, John 10:41, yet it might be very easily imagined that he, if after his death he had once again returned to life, was equipped with miraculous powers. Elijah might be thought of, as he had not died; one of the old prophets finally, since the return of some of them in the days of the Messiah was expected.
Luke 9:9. John have I beheaded.—Not so much the language of a terrified conscience (Meyer) as rather a painful uncertainty. Scarcely has he known how to relieve himself of John, than he already hears of another, to whom they now again ascribe in addition a so astonishing and miraculous energy. What must he now think of this one, or fear from him? Just because he does not know, he desires to see Him himself, as also afterwards to kill Him, Luke 13:31. In Luke it is the expression of uneasy uncertainty, in Matthew and Mark the fixed idea of an awakened conscience, that comes especially into view. One moment the one, another the other, feeling might be the predominant one.
DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL
1. The terror of Herod at the report of Jesus is an indirect argument for the reality and multiplicity of His miracles, and has so far an apologetical worth. A Herod is not a man to allow himself so quickly to be perplexed by an insignificant or ungrounded rumor.
2. In the person and activity of the Saviour there is this peculiarity, that those with whom the moral and religious perceptions are wholly blunted and choked, do not know what to make of Him. They are terrified by the very sound of His footsteps, but they themselves scarcely know why.
3. Conceptions whose reality the understanding cannot earnestly believe may yet be terrifying to the conscience. Herod undoubtedly scoffs at the Pharisees’ ideas of immortality, and yet he trembles at spectres.
HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL
The fame of the Saviour makes its way everywhere.—The gospel a savor of death unto death.—The might and the impotency of the conscience. The might: 1. It faithfully reminds of the evil committed, 2. judges it righteously, 3. chastises it rigorously. Its impotency; it is not in condition: 1. To undo the past, 2. to make the present endurable, 3. to make the future hopeful.—The influence of the awakened conscience on the conceptions of the understanding.—The unworthy desire to see Jesus. (For the opposite, see John 12:20–22.)
STARKE:—Truth makes its way more easily to ordinary hearers than to great lords.—There have been many mistaken opinions concerning Christ spread abroad, but faithful teachers must be skilled to refute the same.—The evil conscience is fearful, and takes fright at a shaken leaf, Job 15:20.—Comp. two admirable sermons of A. MONOD, upon the beheading of John the Baptist, in the second collection of his Sermons.
Luke 9:1.—Rec.: ὑπ ̓ αὐτοῦ. Om. B., C.1, D., L., [Cod. Sin.].
And the apostles, when they were returned, told him all that they had done. And he took them, and went aside privately into a desert place belonging to the city called Bethsaida.c. THE MIRACLE OF THE LOAVES (Luke 9:10–17)
10And the apostles when they were returned, told him all that they had done. And he took them, and went aside privately into a desert place belonging to the city called Bethsaida.3 11And the people, when they knew it, followed him: and he received them, and spake unto them of the kingdom of God, and healed them that had need of healing. 12And when the day began to wear away, then came the twelve, and said unto him4, Send the multitude away, that they may go into the towns [villages] and country round about, and lodge, and get victuals; for we are here in a desert place. 13But he said unto them, Give ye them to eat. And they said, We have no more but [than] five loaves and two fishes; except we [ourselves, ἡμεῖς expressed] should go and buymeat [food] for all this people. 14For they were about five thousand men. And hesaid to his disciples, Make them sit down by fifties in a company. 15And they did so,and made them all sit down. 16Then he took the five loaves and the two fishes, and looking up to heaven, he blessed them, and brake, and gave to the disciples to set before the multitude. 17And they did eat, and were all filled [satisfied]: and there was [were] taken up of fragments that remained to them twelve baskets.
EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL
Luke 9:10. And the Apostles, when they were returned.—In order to get a right conception of the whole connection of the occurrences, we must especially compare Mark 6:30, 31. The Saviour receives almost simultaneously the account of the return of the Twelve and of the death of the Baptist. To this is added the rumor that Herod desires to see Him, which occasions Him to pass over from the province of Antipas to that of Philip. He will afford His disciples and Himself a quiet hour, which, however, becomes impossible on account of the thronging of the people. We may here make the general remark, that, above all, a comparison of the different accounts is requisite in order to come to a correct understanding of the miracle of the Loaves. We shall then find confirmed the remark of LIC. S. RAU, in an admirable essay upon John 6 found in the Deutsche Zeitschrift für christliche Wissenschaft und christliches Leben, 1850, p. 263: “That as well by the point of time which the representations of the Synoptics and of John assign to this history, as by the significance which they ascribe to it, they equally place this miraculous act of the Saviour in the clearest light, and, as it were, upon that highest summit of the life of Christ up to which the fateful way to the sacrificial death leads to higher and higher self-unfolding, in order from now on to lead on to the fate necessarily following this self-unfolding, and lurking in the depth.” Especially for the examination of the Tübingen views respecting the Gospel of John, does the whole essay deserve to be compared.
Βηθσαϊδά.—Not the western (Winer, De Wette), but another town of this name on the northeastern shore of the lake, belonging to the province of Philip, who had given it the name Julias, and had considerably embellished it. Built near the shore at the place where the Jordan pours itself into the lake of Tiberias, it was surrounded by a desolate region which now, however, in the spring, was covered with a carpet of grass, large enough to receive a numerous throng. Thither does the Saviour proceed with the disciples, according to Matthew and Mark, in a ship, while Luke does not say that He goes by land (Meyer), but leaves the mode of the journey entirely undetermined. Apparently Capernaum was the place where the Saviour and the Twelve had, after the return of the latter, met one another again.
Luke 9:11. Followed Him.—As appears from Matthew and Mark, on foot by the land-way after they had seen Him depart, taking also sick persons with them, who were healed by Jesus. Von Ammon draws from the statement that these sick people also had come on foot, the conclusion that they could not, after all, have been so very sick; as though blind or deaf people, who could travel very well, might not have been among them; and as though the others who were not capable of walking, might not have been carried.
Luke 9:12. And when the day.—Here we must insert especially from Mark and John the preceding circumstances and deliberations which Luke, in his more summary account, passes over for the sake of brevity.
That they may go.—This demand of the disciples to send the multitude away, does not speak favorably for the view that the people had brought a tolerably large provision of their own with them, to the common distribution of which they were about to be prompted.
Luke 9:13. Give ye.—“With emphasis, for previously they had counselled to let the people get food for themselves.” Meyer.
Should go and buy.—It is self-evident that this whole language of the disciples is only the expression of the most pitiable perplexity, which had no other means at command. Whoever can assert in earnest that the disciples now actually did buy food with two hundred denarii, and then distributed it (Von Ammon), appears to expect that men are going to believe his rationalistic triflings at his word, without demanding any further proofs therefor.
Luke 9:14. By fifties.—We find no sufficient reason to insert ὡσεί (Lachmann). “Numerus commodus propter quinarium panum.” Bengel.
Luke 9:16. Blessed, εὐλόγησεν.—According to Jewish usage before the beginning of a meal. Here it becomes in the fullest sense of the word a miraculous blessing, whereby the deed of Almighty love is brought to pass. Between Matthew and Mark there exists no actual difference. It is noticeable that all four Evangelists take note of the act of prayer.
THE MIRACLE ITSELF.—The miracle of the Loaves is certainly one of those whose possibility is quite as hard to bring within the sphere of our comprehension as its form within the sphere of our conception. See statement and criticism of the different views in LANGE on Matt. 14:20. So much the less can we overlook the fact that the external proofs of the reality of the miracle are so unanimous and decisive that concerning them scarcely a doubt is possible. It cannot be denied that the relative diversities of the individual accounts are less essential (Strauss). In the main points all the Evangelists give the same account, and he difficulties of the mythical explanation are here in fact insuperable. Or is perchance the whole historical narration to be taken as a mere symbol of the evangelical idea that Christ is the bread of eternal life? (Von Baur). As if this idea could not have been expressed and stated as well in a fact! How, then, would the enthusiasm of the people be explicable, and the mutual discourse, John 6, which is connected with this miracle, and, moreover, the great schism which in consequence of it took place among the μαθηταί, John 6? No, this very point is the great proof for the reality of the miracle, that it is indispensably necessary in order satisfactorily to explain the decrease then beginning in the following of Jesus. So far something had here taken place similar to that at the Lord’s resurrection; and this, at least, becomes immediately obvious, that here something must have taken place by which the great revolution in so many minds is sufficiently explained. Up to this day we see the following of Jesus increasing: He stands before us, as it were, on the steps of the throne, John 6:15; a few hours later, the enthusiasm has cooled and the throng of His followers noticeably diminished. Only a miracle like this could have roused so intense an expectation, and, when this expectation on the following day was not fulfilled, so great a bitterness as we have account of, especially in the fourth Gospel.
With this, however, we do not mean that we are blind to the difficulties which offer themselves here, even from a believing point of view. We can as little represent to ourselves that the fragments of bread had multiplied themselves in the hands of the people as in those of the disciples; and even if we make the miracle to have taken place immediately by the Saviour’s own hands, we can as little conceive continually growing loaves as continually reappearing fish; and although one should speak of a quickened process of nature (Olshausen; a representation, moreover, of which there is found an indication even in Luther), yet there is little gained by this, since, indeed, it appears no process of nature, but a process of art, to multiply in a miraculous way baked bread and cooked fish. Here one feels, more than ever, how difficult it is to enter in any way into transaction with the inconceivable, since, after all, everything finally depends upon our conception of God, upon our Christology, and upon the credibility of the evangelical history. Yet, on the other hand, we must not pass over the fact that the Saviour here by no means makes something out of nothing, but out of that already existing makes something more, and does not, therefore, pass the limits which the Incarnate Word has fixed for Himself, and that it could not be for Him too miraculous to raise Himself, if need were, over the artificial processes of preparing bread and fish for human use. We may call to mind, at the same time, that the ethical receptivity for this miracle must have existed in the people in consequence of all which they had this day already seen and heard of the Lord, and by which their faith had been first awakened, or their already awakened faith had been strengthened. And inasmuch as we now believe ourselves obliged to follow the example of the Evangelists, who do not more particularly describe the form of the miracle, we at the same time rejoice that the sublimity and the purpose of this sign are beyond all doubt. But if Christian science believes itself obliged to go a step further, and to venture an attempt to seek a modal, or perhaps a mystic, medium of bringing into effect what here took place, then certainly the profoundly-conceived attempt of LANGE, L. J. ii., S. 309, deserves a careful examination. Comp. his remarks upon it in the Gospel of John.
DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL
1. The deep impression which the death of the Baptist produces upon the Saviour, is a striking proof, on the one hand, of His genuine human nature and feeling; on the other hand, of His clear insight into the connection of the martyr-death of the Baptist with His own approaching Passion. He shows at the same time His tender care for the training of His disciples, when He, after some days of unusual exercise of body and soul, considers some hours of rest and solitude as absolutely necessary. Comp. the beautiful essay by A. VINET: La solitude recommandée au pasteur.
2. The miracle of the Loaves is one of the most striking proofs of the truth of the word of the Lord to Philip, John 14:9. We admire here in the Saviour a veritably Divine might which speaks and it is done; in virtue of which He, in higher measure and from His own fulness of might, can repeat what in the Old Testament had already, in smaller measure, been brought to pass by prophets and at Divine command. (Comp. the manna-rain of Moses, and the multiplication of food by Elijah and Elisha.) Besides deep wisdom, which helps at the right time and by the simplest means, we see here, at the same time, in Jesus, the image of the God of peace (1 Cor. 14:33), inasmuch as He takes care for the orderly division of the multitude and for the preservation of the fragments remaining. More than all, however, does His compassion attract us, which has at heart the fate of the unfortunate, which, with tenderest attention, chooses even the softest place for couch and table, and with ungrudging wealth bestows not only what is absolutely necessary, but also more than what is necessary. This whole miracle must serve as proof how He, like the Father, can out of little make much, and bless what is of little account. Above all, however, it is an image of the great truth which He the following day so powerfully develops (John 6), that He is the bread of eternal life.
3. The miracle of the Loaves is the faithful miracle of the way in which the Saviour satisfies the spiritual necessities of His own; but at the same time with all that is extraordinary, the concurrence of this miracle with the continuous care of Providence for the bodily support of its human children, is unmistakable. The whole narrative of the miracle is a practical commentary on the declaration, Psalm 145:15, 16.
HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL
The first report in the Gospel of labor accomplished.—Mournful accounts shake as little as joyful ones the holy rest of the Lord.—The Lord grants His faithful laborers rest.—Even unto our places of rest not seldom does earth’s disquiet follow us.—The unwearied Saviour never indisposed to beneficence.—Jesus the Physician of body and soul.—Human perplexity over against Divine knowledge; human sympathy over against Divine compassion; human counsel over against Divine action; human poverty over against Divine wealth.—Jesus refers the hungry multitude to His apostles.—Let all things be done with order.—Daily bread hallowed by thanksgiving and prayer.—“That nothing be lost:” a fundamental law in the kingdom of God in the use of all that which the Lord has bestowed.—The miracle of the Loaves a proof of the truth of Matt. 6:33.—The Saviour keeps in the wilderness a feast with the poor, while He is awaited with longing at the court of Herod.—The Lord makes of little much.—The Lord never gives only so much that there is nothing left over.—They that seek the Lord shall not want any good thing.—The satisfying of earthly, the type of the satisfying of heavenly, necessities.—The conditions under which the Christian even now may expect the satisfying of his earthly necessities: 1. Believing trust; 2. befitting activity; 3. well-regulated order; 4. wise frugality, joined with, 5. thanksgiving and prayer.—“Open thy mouth wide, that I may fill it.” Psalm 81:10 b.—The Lord permits us to suffer hunger only, in His own time, the more richly to relieve it.—He hath filled the hungry with good things.—The miracle of the Loaves a revelation of the glory of the Son of God and the Son of Man.—He dismisses no one empty but him who came full.
STARKE:—Nova Bibl. Tub.:—Who loves Jesus follows Him even through rough ways.—QUESNEL:—God lets us first recognize our human impotence before He displays His omnipotence.—Spiritual shepherds should feed their sheep.—By gold one can obtain all perishable goods, but the rich God can throw to us all that we need, even when we have little or no money.—It is to the Almighty Saviour all one to help by little or by much. Upon that, faith can venture all. 1 Samuel 14:6.—Nova Bibl. Tub.:—No one should imagine himself too good or too high to serve the needy.—BRENTIUS:—In distress of hunger, the best refuge is to Christ.—God’s blessing one must not lavish away at once, but lay up for future need. Proverbs 11:27.—HEUBNER:—To be agents in the distribution of Divine gifts, like the disciples here, is a high honor and grace.—The requirement of that which man ought to do, according to God’s will, appears often very surprising, surpassing all capacity, for God has beforehand already taken care for all, and Himself concurs. His is properly the main act.—The feeling of compassion in Christ much mightier than the need of rest.—VAN OOSTERZEE:—Jesus the bread of life. Intimation how He even now: 1. Meets with the same necessity; 2. exhibits the same majesty; 3. prepares the same refreshment; 4. deserves the same homage; 5. provokes the same schism as at the miracle of the Loaves.
And it came to pass, as he was alone praying, his disciples were with him: and he asked them, saying, Whom say the people that I am?5. The Glory of the Son of Man confessed on Earth and ratified from Heaven. The Scene on the Summit and at the Foot of Tabor
a. THE JOURNEY TO THE TRANSFIGURATION (Luke 9:18–27)
(Luke 9:18–21, parallel to Gospel for Sts. Peter and Paul’s Day; Matt. 16:13–20.)
18And it came to pass, as he was alone praying, his disciples were with him; and he asked them, saying, Whom [Who] say the people that I am? 19They answering said, John the Baptist; but some say, Elias [Elijah]; and others say, that one of the old prophets 20is risen again. He said unto them, But whom [who] say ye that I am? Peter answering said, The Christ of God. 21And he straitly [strictly] charged them, and commanded them to tell no man that thing [this]; 22Saying, The Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be slain, andbe raised [rise again, V. O.5] the third day. 23And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me. 24For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it. 25For what is a man advantaged, if he gain the whole world, and lose himself, or be cast away? 26For whosoever shall be [have been] ashamed of me and of my words, of him shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he shall come in his own glory, and in his Father’s, and [that] of the holy angels. 27But I tell you of a truth, there be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see [have seen] the kingdom of God.
EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL
Luke 9:18. And it came to pass.—By comparison with Matthew and Mark, it appears at once that Luke, after the mention of the miracle of the Loaves, passes over all the words and deeds of the Lord which are related Matt. 14:22; 16:12; Mark 6:45; 8:26. Harmonistics must take note of this, and Isagogics give the grounds of this. The best explanation is given perhaps by the conjecture that the written sources (Diëgesen) of which Luke made use were in relation to this period of the public life of the Saviour less complete, less rich in comparison with, what follows. At least no cause can be discovered for an intentional omission.
As He was alone praying.—According to Matthew and Mark the Saviour was now in the region of Cæsarea Philippi. (See, respecting this place, LANGE on Matthew 16:13.) Here also, as we have several times remarked, Luke brings into view the praying of the Saviour. Justly does Bengel say: “Jesus Patrem rogarat, ut discipulis se revelaret. Nam argumentum precum Jesu colligi potest ex sermonibus actionibusque insecutis.” Comp. 6:12, 13. Apparently we must understand the matter thus—that the disciples had found the Saviour praying in solitude, as in Luke 11:1, while from Luke 9:23 it appears to be the case that besides the Twelve, other listeners had soon approached, so that He, in a few moments, found a wider circle, gathered around Him to which He could address His words.
And He asked them.—From the preceding prayer we must conclude that the Saviour Himself considered the conversation now following as in the highest degree momentous, and this will not surprise us if we only transport ourselves into His circumstances during this period of time. The more unequivocally He had lately experienced the irreconcilable enmity of His adversaries, the more clearly did the end of His course, now drawing nearer, rise before His soul. The time had now come when He must speak more openly than hitherto to His disciples of His approaching suffering and death. The prayer which the Saviour offered afterwards for Simon, Luke 22:32, can hardly have been excluded here. But before He now grants to the Twelve a deeper view into the nature of His work, He will convince Himself of their manner of thought respecting His Person and His character.
Who say the people that I am?—He wishes to know for what the [common] people, this interpreter of public opinion, took Him, Him who commonly designated Himself by the somewhat mysterious name of the Son of Man. Other views see in LANGE, ad loc. The inquiry after the views of men, in which one only heard the voice of flesh and blood, might justly surprise us if we forgot that it only constituted the transition to a far more momentous one.
Luke 9:19. John the Baptist.—The opinions are different, yet fully explicable. That John the Baptist had risen, was perhaps an echo of that which was talked of at Herod’s court, perhaps also an inference drawn by high esteem, to which it appeared impossible that such a man of God should have been actually and forever taken away from the world.—Elijah.—Comp. Malachi 4:5.—One of the old prophets.—Men believed, from Micah 5:6 and other passages, that they were warranted to conclude that at the time of the Messiah different prophets would again appear. (See LIGHTFOOT on John 1:21.) In brief, for something ordinary and insignificant no one took the Nazarene: a messenger of God they could not fail to recognize in Him; perhaps He was the Forerunner. For the Messiah public opinion did not now take Him to be. It was divided, and moreover had not in the main become more favorable to the Saviour. If there had formerly existed among the people a disposition to believe in His Messianic dignity, now there is no more talk of this. After the great schism, John 6:66 seq., the sun of popular favor is set. Carefully considered, therefore, the popular voice is now no longer a homage, but only a denying of the Lord.
Luke 9:20. But who say ye that I am?—Plainly the emphasis falls upon ὑμεῖς, in opposition to the ὄχλοι. First the Lord will hear the echo of the people’s views; He will hear now His powerful witnesses’ own voice, the expression of their living, personal, and independent faith. It appears how highly the Lord esteemed the confession of faith of His disciples, and how He is the farthest possible from reckoning their Christology among the Adiaphora.
The Christ of God.—The complete form of the answer, see Matt. 16:16. It is wholly impossible to prove that it was only the theocratical and not the supernatural dignity of the Saviour which here hovered before the mind of Peter. If before this even rough shipmen had recognized something superhuman in Jesus, Matt. 14:33, the Saviour would certainly not have pronounced His disciple blessed for his confession, had this side of His being yet remained wholly hidden to him, although, of course, it is evident that this faith of the heart in Peter had not for that as yet become in his mind a fully rounded dogma. As to the rest, we must very decidedly declare ourselves against the view that takes this confession of Peter for the same which is related John 6:69 (Wieseler, Rau). This last is much less decided and powerful, at least according to the true reading in Tischendorf. Besides, the two are in their historical connection heaven-wide apart, and the two confessions cannot be identified without most arbitrarily accusing John of inaccuracy.
Luke 9:21. To tell no man.—The more detailed answer of the Saviour, and His praise bestowed upon Peter, see Matt. 16:17–19. Comp. LANGE, ad loc. That the Saviour was almost, as it were, “terrified” at the confession of Peter (Fritzsche, Schneckenburger, Strauss), is as little implied in the letter as in the spirit of the narrative. As to the ground on which especially He commanded silence, this is at once evident. For the first time it has now become manifest that His self-consciousness agrees in substance with the confession of faith of the Twelve. He Himself has impressed upon the language of faith the seal of His attestation, and therefore, in fact, from this moment there already existed a little congregation in which the faith on Jesus as the Christ was the centre of union. If this community, with its manner of thinking, manifested itself externally, it would here have found premature adherents, and there have roused renewed opposition. Therefore the Saviour will have them keep silence respecting His person so long as His high priestly work was not yet accomplished, but at the same time now declares His apostles capable of receiving more particular instructions respecting the nature of this work.
Luke 9:22. The Son of Man must suffer many things.—In antithesis to the figurative and covert allusions to His approaching death, which they had already heard, comp. Matt. 9:15; John 2:19; 4:37, 38, the Saviour now begins to speak in a literal manner. He makes known, 1. who the accomplishers of this suffering shall be, 2. in what form it is to be prepared for Him, 3. the necessity of this suffering, 4. the issue of this suffering, namely, His resurrection. The view (De Wette, a. o.) that the last is here added only ex eventu, is with right denied and refuted by LANGE, Gospel of Matthew, p. 302. The offence taken by Peter at this word and the rebuke suffered by him are related only by Matthew and Mark.
Luke 9:23. If any man will come after Me.—Here, as in John 6:67, the Lord gives His apostles the choice whether they will follow Him even now, when the way goes for a time into the depth. If they do it, they shall know beforehand what it will cost them. Whoever follows Him, let him take up his cross daily, a symbol of self-denial which the Saviour would certainly not have adopted by preference if He had not Himself, even already in the distance, beheld this instrument of His own pain and ignominy. There exists no ground for declaring the remarkable καθ̓ ἡμέραν, which Luke alone has, an interpolation a seriore manu. From Jesus Himself does it proceed, and places the extent and the difficulty of this requirement of self-denial in the clearest light. Worthy of notice is it that it is no other than Peter who afterwards so deeply apprehended and so powerfully reëchoed this requirement. (See 1 Peter 4:1–3; and comp. Rom. 6; Col. 3:1–4, &c.)
Luke 9:24. Whosoever will save his life.—In order to make evident the indispensable necessity of self-denial, the Saviour uses a double motive. The first is taken from the present, Luke 9:24–26, the other from the future, Luke 9:27. Only by self-denial, He says, can a man become partaker even here of the higher life of the Spirit, so that he has therefore the choice between temporary gain and eternal loss. Here also is a proof of the higher unity between the Synoptical and the Johannean Christ. Comp. John 12:25. The life, which the man will commonly preserve at any price, is the natural, selfish life, whose centre is the ψυχή, considered out of its relation to the πνεῦμα. Whoever will preserve this life, and therefore walk in accordance with his natural inclinations, may reckon upon it that he loses his true, his proper life: but those who, for the sake of Christ and His cause, set at stake the possession of life and the enjoyment of life in the common sense of the word, will through this very temporary perishing become partakers in perpetually richer measure of the true and higher life of the Spirit. A word of infinitely deep significance for the first apostles of the Lord, who for His sake left all, yet not less significant for the history of the development of the Christian life of each one. (See the profound remarks of LANGE, Leben Jesu, ii. p. 899.) In the most striking manner has Luke, Luke 9:25, expressed the antithesis, the gaining of the whole world, and the ἀπολέσας δὲ ἑαυτόν, the loss of the personality, to whose preservation the man had brought such sacrifices. “As if thou in a general conflagration hadst saved and preserved around thee thy great and full palace, but hadst thyself to be consumed, what wouldst thou then have gained in comparison with him who out of the conflagration of his goods had rescued his life? Therefore, also, on the contrary: what does it harm a man to set at stake the whole world, which after all shall one day pass away, and burn up, if only the soul is delivered? A human soul’s true, everlasting salvation is more worth than the whole world. Thus must one reckon gain and loss over against one another, and whoever has not so reckoned will at the end experience, to his everlasting loss, how enormously he misreckons! Then will the bankrupt break out with his τί δώσει ἄνθρωπος, whereto the Psalm has already answered: It ceaseth forever!” Stier.
Luke 9:26. Whosoever shall have been ashamed.—A word of the Lord which reminds us of the sublimest declarations of the fourth Gospel. The Ἰουδαῖοι there appearing (Luke 12:42, 43), show us by their example what it is to be ashamed of the Saviour, as Paul, Romans 1:16, is an example of the opposite. It is noticeable that the Saviour does not say: Whoever has been ashamed of the Song of Solomon of Man, but: Whoever has been ashamed of Me and of My words—a manifest proof that here the discourse is of a being ashamed which is possible even with outward intellectual knowledge of Him and of His Messianic dignity.—Of him shall also the Son of Man be ashamed.—A milder form of the threatening, Matt. 7:21; 25:41, and therefore so much the more impressive, since the Saviour here represents Himself as surrounded with a threefold glory: 1. His own, 2. the Father’s, 3. that of the holy angels, who now become witnesses of the well-deserved shame that is prepared for the unfaithful disciple. It is scarcely to be doubted that the Saviour directs His eye towards His last παρονσία, at the συντέλεια τοῦ αίῶνος. But before the thought of its possibly great distance could weaken the impression of the warning, He concludes with a nearer revelation of His kingly glory.
Luke 9:27. But I tell you of a truth.—Even this solemn exordium, which the parallel passages in Matthew and Mark also give, causes us to expect that it will appear that the Lord Himself attributes especial importance to the assurance which He is now about to give. More plainly can He hardly intimate that His disciples shall outlive Him, that His cause shall triumph over all hostility, and that He, by the name of the Son of Man, means to designate Himself as the Messiah, for He speaks now of a kingdom in which the Son of Man gives law Nay, scarcely can we avoid the belief that this very saying, which the first three Evangelists have with so great unanimity preserved in the same connection, was one of the strongest supports for the hope of the apostolic age, that there would be a speedy and visible return of Christ. The longing for its fulfilment contributed also to preserve the letter of the promises, and the love of the heart sharpened understanding and memory. However, it cannot be difficult to decide which coming of the Saviour He wished to be immediately understood by this saying. He has here in mind, as in Matt. 26:64, the revelation of His Messianic dignity at the desolation of the Jewish state, which should take place within a human generation. (For a statement and criticism of other views, see LANGE, on Matthew, 16:28.) Thus, also, the beginning of this whole conversation is beautifully congruous with the end. For as the Saviour in the beginning had alluded to the humiliation which was about to be prepared for Him by the Jewish magnates, Luke 9:22, He now ends, Luke 9:27, by making mention of the triumph which He should win over the Jewish magnates, when the ruins of the city and of the temple should proclaim His exaltation. This His coming in His kingdom, which at least John (Luke 21:22) beheld, and apparently also others of his fellow-disciples, is at the same time a type and symbol of His last παρουσία, that mentioned Luke 9:26. The shorter form in Luke: ἰδεῖν τὴν βασ. τ. θεοῦ must be more particularly explained from the fuller one in Matthew and Mark, in the parallel passages. Comp. moreover Matt. 10:23, as a proof how not alone the Johannean but also the Synoptical Christ speaks of a continuous coming of the Messiah in different phases. In view of the intimate connection which, according to the Synoptics, exists between this saying of the Lord and the Transfiguration which is soon after related, it may be justly supposed that the disciples, even in this event, beheld the actual, even though only preliminary, fulfilment of this prophecy of the Lord.
DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL
1. Although the discourse here given opens no new period in the life of our Saviour, it may yet be said that in the region of Cæsarea Philippi, there began a new period of the intercourse of our Lord with the Twelve. After He had persuaded Himself of their independent and living faith, He now opens to them the sanctuary of His Passion, in order to guard them against apostasy when hereafter the critical period should dawn. Comp. John 13:19. With deep wisdom He nevertheless connects the first unequivocal declaration of His Passion with the setting forth of His future Glory, into which He was to enter in this very way. Comp. Luke 24:26.
2. Mark indicates very happily the distinction between the Saviour’s earlier and present intimations of His sufferings by the word παῤῥησίᾳ, 8:32. Instead of covert there come now express, instead of general more particular, intimations. Without doubt this higher truth was closely connected with the development of Jesus’ own consciousness in reference to His approaching fate, which consciousness became continually clearer the longer He looked upon the prophetic image of the Messiah and observed the course of circumstances. But quite as certain is it that there is no ground to deny the possibility of such a foreknowledge a priori (De Wette, Von Ammon, Strauss,) and that the criticism which will explain such prophecies merely ex eventu is no way purely historical, but is an entirely arbitrary dogmatism. Further on we hear from Jesus Himself, Luke 24:44–46, from the angels, ibid. (Luke 9:7, 8), nay, even from His foes, Matt. 27:62, 63, that He prophesied not only His dying, but also His resurrection. As respects the stiff-necked doubting and afterwards the unbelieving sadness of His disciples, which there has often been a disposition to use against the genuineness of the prophecy of the Resurrection, this was certainly not the first and only time that the Saviour was better understood by crafty enemies than by friends full of prejudice. Very often the disciples took a figurative expression as literal (e.g. Matt. 16:11, 12); why can they not, on the other hand, have viewed a literal expression as figurative? From their point of view they could not possibly conceive that the Messiah should die, and could not therefore accommodate themselves to the prophecy of the Resurrection, and still less could they imprint it deeply in their souls. And when our Lord, according to Matthew and Mark, said that He would return definitely τῇ τρίτῃ ἡμέρᾳ, into life, this is only the repetition of that which He had earlier intimated in another form, Matt. 12:40; John 2:19. Comp. HASERT, Ueber die Vorhersagungen Jesu von seinem Tode und von seiner Auferstehung. Berlin, 1839.
3. As to the question by what means the Saviour, in the way of His theanthropic development, came to the clear insight of the certainty and necessity of His death, we are warranted by His own declaration to give the answer that He viewed the image of His Passion in the mirror of the prophetic Scriptures. Assertions that He would then have understood the Old Testament incorrectly, as this, rightly explained, says nothing whatever of a suffering or dying Messiah (De Wette, Strauss), make only then some show when one places the hermeneutics of modern science higher than those of the Lord Jesus and of His apostles enlightened by the Holy Spirit. Comp. STEUDEL, Theol. des A. B. p. 402, and HOFFMANN, l. c. 2. p. 121. Drawn from these sources, the foresight of the Saviour was much less the fruit of a grammatical exegesis of particular Vaticinia than of a typico-symbolic apprehension of the whole Ancient Covenant. In the fate of the Servant of the Lord in Isaiah, He saw His own, and in all which former men of God had experienced and suffered, He beheld the image of His own future [or as some one has excellently said, He looked into the Old Testament and found it full of Himself.—C. C. S.]. Comp. Mark 9:13; Luke 13:33. Once familiarized with thoughts of death, the Saviour could, even by looking at the political condition of His people, come in a simple and natural way to the conception that heathens, and those heathens Romans, would be the accomplishes of the sentence of death, executioners, therefore, by whom the punishment of the cross had been introduced among conquered nations. And who would consider it as impossible that the God-man should come in still other ways than those of natural reflection to such a thought? In the most intimate communion with the Father, the Father’s will had without doubt become so clear to Him that He could with full certainty speak of a Divine δεῖ.
4. The first prediction of His Passion is of so high an importance because it gives us to view this Passion not only from the human but especially from the Divine side. In that which shall come upon Him the Saviour recognizes not only the abuse of the freedom of men, but also the fulfilment of the eternal counsel of God, who not only foresaw and permitted, but expressly willed that Christ should suffer all this. Through the voluntary obedience with which the Son submits Himself to the plainly recognized counsels of the Father, He, at the same time, converts the fate awaiting Him into the highest deed of His love.
5. The necessity of the way of suffering in order to arrive at glory is so great that this way has been ordained not only for the Master, but also for all His disciples without distinction. Here also does the word of J. Arnd hold true: “Christ has many servants, but few followers.” Only he will gradually attain to bear καθ’ ἡμέραν what the Lord had to take upon Himself, who can as thoroughly deny and abjure the old man in himself as Peter once denied the Lord.
HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL
No specially important turning-point of life but must be hallowed with solitary prayer.—To the Saviour it is not indifferent what men say of Him. Neither can it be indifferent to His disciples.—Public opinion we must be as far from slavishly following as from haughtily despising.—The affinities and the difference between the Saviour on the one hand, John Elijah, and the prophets on the other hand.—The spirit of the faithful prophets reappearing in Jesus far more gloriously.—The disciple of the Saviour called, 1. To hear the vox populi respecting Him, but, 2. to raise himself above it.—But who say ye that I am? 1. A question of conscience; 2. a question of controversy; 3. a question of life; 4. a question of the times.—Jesus will have His disciples, 1. Independently recognize Him as the Christ; 2. voluntarily confess Him as the Christ.—No sincere faith without confession, no genuine confession without faith.—The confession of Peter the first of the million voices of the Christian confession.—What then had to be kept silent is now loudly proclaimed.—Silence and speech have each their time.—The first prediction of the Passion: 1. Its remarkable contents; 2. its high significance.—Expectation of suffering and expectation of glory in the consciousness of our Lord most intimately joined together.—The way of suffering: 1. How far it must be trodden by Him alone; 2. how far it must be trodden by all His disciples after Him.—The disciple of the Saviour a cross-bearer day by day, willingly coming after Christ.—The Christian calculation of profit and loss.—To win the highest the highest must be staked.—The all-surpassing worth of a soul.—The spiritual bankruptcy of him that gains the whole world but loses himself.—Even the gain of the whole world is only vain show and harm so long as a man has not won Christ.—The Saviour’s saying concerning the gain and loss of life compared with Paul’s experience, Philipp. 3:6–9.—How a confessor of the Gospel may even to-day be ashamed of the Master: 1. In his heart; 2. in his words; 3. in his deeds.—The Christian, 1. Needs not to be ashamed of his Lord; 2. may not, and, 3; will not, it he is a Christian in truth.—The seeking of honor with men, the way to shame before God.—He who willingly humbled Himself, shall come again in glory.—No disciple of the Lord shall die till he has in greater or less measure seen the coming of the kingdom of God.—The coming of the Lord, 1. A bodily, afterwards, 2. a spiritual, and finally, 3. a spiritual and bodily (geist-leibliches) coming.—The history of the world, the judgment of the world, but not the final judgment.—The way of suffering, 1. Clearly foreseen by Jesus; 2. plainly pointed out to His disciples to be walked in; 3. for Him and His disciples issuing in glory.—The requirement of self-denial for Jesus’ sake: 1. A difficult, 2. a necessary, 3. a wholesome, 4. a reasonable requirement.—The Saviour in relation to His faithful disciples: 1. How much He requires; 2. how infinitely more He promises.
STARKE:—CANSTEIN:—The truth is only one, but errors and lies are many.—BRENTIUS:—That Christ’s kingdom is a kingdom of the cross must not be concealed, that no one may take offence thereat.—True self-denial distinguishes the genuine Christian from every one else.—It requires much to become a Christian, still more to remain one.—So blind is our fleshly heart that it seeks life in that which brings it death.—In religion nothing comes according to our plans, but all according to God’s.—The justalionis holds good with Christ in both directions.—Nova Bibl. Tub.:—It is an unhappy dying when one tastes death before he has seen the kingdom of God.—Salvation is certainly very often nearer to us than we think. Romans 13:11.
HEUBNER:—The Christian’s independence of popular opinions.—GERLACH:—The bearing of the Cross is not something that is reserved for certain extraordinary occasions; whoever feels his own and the world’s sin deeply, bears it daily.—J. SAURIN:—Discourse on the soul, drawn, 1. From the excellence of its nature; 2. from the infiniteness of its duration; 3. from the price of its redemption.—DIETRICH:—Sermon on the day of St. Peter and St. Paul upon the partially parallel Gospel, Matt. 16:13–20.—THOLUCK:—The daily crossbearing of the Christian: 1. In what it consists; 2. why to the very end of life it should be a daily one.
Luke 9:10.—In view of the great diversity of readings in this passage, it seems to us that the reading of Tischendorf, which Meyer also has adopted, εἰς πόλιν καλουμένην Βεθσαϊδά, has, especially on internal grounds, the greatest probability in its favor. Lectio difficilior præferenda. “Εἰς πόλιν must have occasioned difficulty, since what follows took place not in a city, but in a wilderness (comp. Luke 9:12, and also Mark. 6:31).” [Tischendorf, supported by B., L., X., Ξ., Cod. Sin., has simply τοπον ερημον. Alford says: “the text not appearing to meet the requirements of the narrative following, was amended from the parallels in Matthew and Mark.”—C. C. S.]
[Luke 9:12.—More exactly: “And the day began to wear away, and the twelve coming said to him,” &c.—C. C. S.]
Luke 9:22.—According to the reading of Lachmann and Tischendorf ἀναστῆναι instead of ἐγερθῆναι. [Ἀναστ., A., C, D., 2 other uncials; ἐγερθ., Cod. Sin., B., R., Ξ., al. longe. pl. Ἀναστ approved by Tischendorf, Lachmann, Meyer, Alford.—C. C. S.]
And it came to pass about an eight days after these sayings, he took Peter and John and James, and went up into a mountain to pray.b. THE TRANSFIGURATION (Luke 9:28–36)
28And it came to pass about an eight days after these sayings, he took Peter and John and James [James and John, V. O.6], and went up into a [the] mountain to pray. 29And as he prayed, the fashion of his countenance was altered, and his raiment was white and glistering [ἐξαστράπτων, lit., flashing forth light]. 30And, behold, there talked with him two men, which were Moses and Elias [Elijah]: 31Who appeared in glory, and spake of his decease [or, departure] which he should [was about to] accomplish at Jerusalem. 32But Peter and they that were with him were heavy [weighed down] with sleep: and when they were awake,7; they saw his glory, and the two men that stood with him. 33And it came to pass, as they departed from him, Peter said unto Jesus, Master, it is good for us to be here: and let us make three tabernacles; one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias [Elijah]: not knowing what he said. 34While he thus spake, there came a cloud, and overshadowed them: and they feared as they 35[i.e., Jesus, Moses, and Elijah] entered into the cloud. And there came a voice out of the cloud, saying, This is my beloved [elect, V. O.8] Son: hear him. 36And when the voice was past, Jesus was found alone. And they kept it close, and told no man in those days any of those things which they had seen.
EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL
Luke 9:28. Eight days.—According to Matthew and Mark, six days after the just-mentioned conversation. If we assure that Lake has reckoned in the day of the discourse and a second day for the Transfiguration, which had perhaps already taken place in the morning, the difference is then almost reconciled, and it does not even need the assumption of some, that the Saviour spent one or two whole days on the mountain, the Transfiguration taking place after their expiration.
Into the mountain, τὸ ὄρος.—More definite than Matthew and Mark, who only mention an ὄρος ὑψηλόν. The tradition which has pointed to Tabor has been often contradicted, yet the objections raised against this are, according to our opinion, not well tenable. That this tradition existed even in the time of Jerome, and that the empress Helena for this reason erected a church on Tabor, proves of itself not much, it is true. Yet it may still be called remarkable, that tradition designates a place so far distant from Cæsarea Philippi, where our Saviour had just before been found (Matt. 16:13). Without sufficient ground in the apostolic tradition, it appears probable that they would not have assumed the theatre of the one event to be so far removed from that of the other. For the other mountains which have been thought of instead of Tabor, namely, Hermon or Paneas, there is almost less yet to be said. Yet it must not be forgotten that about a week intervened between the Transfiguration and the first prediction of the Passion, in which time the Saviour may very well have traversed the distance from Cæsarea to Tabor, which, it is true, is somewhat considerable. Comp. Matt. 17:22. If the Saviour, moreover, shortly after He left the mountain, returned to Capernaum, Matt. 17:24–27, this town was scarcely a day’s journey distant from Tabor. The single important difficulty is that raised by De Wette, following Robinson, that at this time there was a fortification on the summit of Tabor. But although Antiochus the Great fortified the mountain 219 B.C., it is not by any means proved that in the time of Jesus this fortification was yet standing, and though, according to Josephus, this mountain, in the Jewish war, was fortified against the Romans, this, at all events, took place forty years later. Traces of these fortifications are found apparently in the ruins which have since been discovered especially on the south western declivity; but in no case is it proved that the whole mountain was built over at the time of Jesus. Moreover, it must not be overlooked how exceedingly well adapted the far-famed beauty of this place was for its becoming a theatre of the earthly glorification of the Lord.—According to a Dutch theologian (Meyboom), we are to understand the southern summit of the Anti-Lebanon, a snowy peak, which now bears the name Dschebel Escheik.
Peter, James and John.—Already previously witnesses of the raising of Jairus’ daughter, and later than this of the agony in Gethsemane, the most intimate of His friends, those who were initiated into the most mysterious and sublime scenes. The influence of the autopsy of Peter is, in Mark 9:3, 6, 8, 10, unmistakable.
Luke 9:29. The fashion of His countenance was altered.—We have here the first feature in the narrative which requires special attention; the alteration of the outward appearance of the Saviour. We cannot possibly assume (Olshausen) that the body of the Saviour, even during His earthly life, underwent a gradual process of glorification, which here entered into a new stadium. This view leads us to a Docetic conception, and moreover explains, it is true, the shining of His countenance, but not the gleaming of His garments, on which account even Olshausen sees himself necessitated to conceive the Saviour not only as glittering, but also as shined upon. Justly does Lange call attention to the fulness of the Spirit which, from within, overstreamed His whole being. Even with this, however, the brilliancy of His garments is not yet sufficiently explained, so that there is occasion to connect with the inward outstreaming of glory an external illumination. But why might not this latter have arisen from the brilliancy with which undoubtedly we must conceive the appearance of the two heavenly messengers as attended? For we nowhere read that the Saviour shone so miraculously before they had appeared to Him. Even in the case of Moses, Ex. 34:29, the brilliancy of his countenance is occasioned by an external heavenly light. [With all deference to the author, this anxious analysis of the Transfiguration appears to us artificial and puerile.—C. C. S.]
Luke 9:30. Two men.—How the apostles learned that it was Moses and Elijah no one of the narrators tells us. They may have become aware of it either by intuition, or by some outward token have understood it from the nature of the discourse, or have heard it afterwards from Jesus. In no case does the uncertainty as to the manner how they learned it give us authority for the assertion that they could not have known it at all, and still less for the rationalizing conjecture that it was two human strangers, secret disciples, confederates with Jesus, and the like.
Which were Moses and Elijah.—That these words were meant to be only the subjective judgment of the relator, but in no way the objective expression of the fact, has, it is true, been often said, but never yet been proved.
Luke 9:31. Spake of His decease.—Luke alone has this intimation as to the subject and the purpose of the interview, by which the true light is first thrown upon this whole manifestation. That Luke’s account has arisen “from the later tradition, which very naturally came to this reflexion,” we cannot possibly believe with Meyer ad loc. The witnesses who saw the rest may also have heard this and remembered it afterwards.—It is noticeable that Peter, 2 Peter 1:15, calls his own death also, to which he is looking forward, an ἔξοδος.—When they were awake, διαγρηγορήσαντες.—Lange: “Sleeplessly watching.” De Wette: “When they had waked up.”—At all events it is an antithesis to the preceding ὕπνῳ βεβαρημένοι, by which we are forbidden to draw from this last expression the inference that they had been hindered by sleep from being competent witnesses. However drunken with sleep they may have been, they had not, however, at all gone to sleep, but remained so far awake that they could become aware of all that here took place with the bodily eye and with the ecstatic sense of the inward man alike. Even had we no other proof, yet this very feature in the narrative would show us that we have here before us no dream of the three sleeping disciples, or phantasm of their own heated imagination. That Luke, more than the other two Synoptics, would warrant us to assume something here merely subjective (Neander), is at least wholly unproved.
Luke 9:33. And it came to pass.—The first feeling which animated the disciples in the view of the heavenly spectacle was naturally fear, Mark 9:6. But scarcely have they recovered from that when an indescribable feeling of felicity fills them, to which Peter, almost with child-like transport, lends words. The heavenly temper of the spiritual world communicates itself to the dwellers of earth, and as it were with their hands will they hold fast to the heavenly presence before it vanishes from their eyes.—Three tabernacles.—From the fact that Peter does not propose to build six, but three booths, it may be assuredly concluded that by ἡμᾶς he means only himself and his fellow-disciples,—not all who were there present (De Wette). SEPP, ii. p. 408, takes the liberty of finding in the tabernacles a symbol “of the threefold ministry in the Church.”
Not knowing what he said.—Not because he was yet entirely overcome with sleep, but because he was wholly taken captive by the extraordinariness of the whole scene. Else he would not have expressed himself with so little suitableness, a subjective reflection which manifestly proceeds from Peter himself.
Luke 9:34. A cloud.—The Shekinah, the symbol of the glory of God. “Hœc, ut ex sequentibus patet, ad ima se demisit.” Bengel. The cloud of light which formerly filled the sanctuary of the Lord now receives the three as into a tabernacle of glory, and ravishes the end of the manifestation from the eyes of the disciples, as its beginning also had remained hidden from them.
Luke 9:35. A voice.—The same which was heard before on the Jordan and afterwards in the Temple. As the Saviour, by the Divine voice on the Jordan, had already been consecrated as the King of the kingdom of heaven, and afterwards, John 12:28, as the High-priest of the New Testament; so here, on the part of the Father, His Prophetic dignity is in its elevation above that of the two greatest messengers of the Lord in the Old Testament proclaimed to His disciples.—Hear Him.—At the same time an echo of an utterance of Moses, Deut. 18:15. Comp. Ps. 2:7; Isaiah 42:1.
Luke 9:36. And they kept it close.—According to Matt. 17:9, at the express command of our Lord. The whole conversation respecting Elijah, which Matthew and Mark now give, Luke passes over, perhaps because he considered it for his Gentile Christian readers partly as little intelligible and partly as less important.
DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL
1. For the statement and criticism of the different interpretations, see LANGE on Matt. 17:1.
2. As well those who interpret the Transfiguration on the mountain as a purely objective manifestation from the spiritual world without any subjective mediation, as also those who derive all from the quickened receptivity of the disciples, supported by some outward circumstances, such as the morning light, the gleaming of snow, and the like, misapprehend both the letter and the spirit of the narrative. The point of view from which what here took place must be considered, is presented to us by the Saviour Himself when He speaks of a ὅραμα, a word which in the New Testament is often used of an objectively real phenomenon (Acts 7:31; 12:9). It is, as Lange very justly names it, “a manifestation of spirits in the midst of the present state.” But he who ascribes the whole miracle to the subjectivity of the apostles will scarcely be able to explain how the so simple, and as yet so earthly-minded, disciples, should all at once have been transported out of themselves into such an ecstasy that they could believe that they saw heaven opened above the very head of the Messiah. No, the language of the three Synoptics warrants decidedly the opinion that the disciples, fully awake, perceived with their eye and ear an objective appearance. For even if Peter did not know what he said, he yet knew very well what he saw; but had they been misled by their heated imagination, and had he or his companions afterwards shown it, the Saviour would certainly not have neglected to instruct them more perfectly thereupon. But on the other hand, this also must be maintained with as much decision—that they by that which they outwardly saw were transported into the condition of an exalted [intensified, potenzirten] life of the soul, and thereby became receptive for the hearing of the heavenly voice. Whoever, like Peter, finds in dwelling together with citizens of the spiritual world nothing terrifying, but on the contrary, wishes that this might endure as long as possible, shows by that very fact that he is completely exalted above himself. Here, apparently, there took place a similar union of sensuous and spiritual intuition, of a miraculous fact with an exalted inward life, to that which we can also perceive in the miracle at the Baptism.
3. When philosophy, a priori, doubts the possibility of such a revelation of the spiritual world perceivable by mortals, we shall simply answer her that she is incompetent from her own resources to decide anything in reference to an order of things which is known to us as little by conclusions of reason as by intuition. If, however, historical criticism inquires whether there is sufficient ground to assure to the narrative of the Transfiguration its place in the series of the facts in the public life of our Lord, we would recall that the grounds which elsewhere speak for the credibleness of the Synoptics whenever they relate the most astonishing miracles, hold good here also in undiminished force. Some have, it is true, asserted that such enigmatical and isolated events did not belong to the original apostolic Kerygma; but this is mere rationalistic caprice. The command of the Lord to keep silence until His resurrection, implied not only the permission, but in a certain measure the command, to speak of what took place here after His resurrection; and it would have been psychologically inconceivable if His disciples had neglected to do so. It is sufficiently evident how high a place this narrative occupies in the Synoptics; higher even than the miracle at the Baptism. The difference of the several accounts in respect of some points is in fact insignificant. It is true John says not a word of what here took place: his silence, however, cannot by any means throw any reasonable suspicion on the testimony of his predecessors in narration. On the other hand it is entirely in the spirit of his Gospel, that he gives us to see the glory of the Only-begotten Son of the Father less in such single details than in the grand unity of His manifestation. Only a simple spiritualism, which, moreover, forgets that the fourth Gospel also speaks of voices from heaven, John 12:28, can from this silence deduce anything against the objectivity of the history of the miracle. And, what above all may not be overlooked, the testimony of the Synoptics is in a striking manner supported by the second epistle of Peter, Luke 1:16–18, whose spuriousness, it is true, has often been asserted, but, in our eyes at least, has been as yet by no means proved. Comp. DIETLEIN, Der 2te Brief Petri, p. 1–71; GUERICKE, Neutestamentl. Isagogik, p. 472; STIER, Brief Judä, p. 11; THIERSCH, Apost. Zeitalter, p. 209; et al. plur.
4. The inquiry as to the purpose of the heavenly manifestation is not difficult to answer. The representatives of the Ancient Covenant come in order to consecrate the Messiah for death. The Lord must have longed to speak of that which now lay so deeply at His heart, and yet could find no one on earth who could fully comprehend Him, to whom He could with confidence have unbosomed Himself. His subsequent agony in Gethsemane would certainly have been still more overpowering and deep had the hour of Tabor not preceded. If we read elsewhere that even the angels desire to look into the work of redemption (1 Peter 1:12), we here become aware how it awakens not less the inmost interest of the blessed departed. For our Lord, this manifestation and interview was a new proof that His plan of suffering was in truth comprehended in the counsel of the Father, and to the disciples the remembrance of this night might afterwards become a counterpoise against the scandal and the shame of the cross. Finally, as respects the heavenly voice, the exaltation of Jesus even over the greatest men of God in the Ancient Covenant was thereby established, the testimony at the Jordan was repeated, and therefore a new proof of His sinlessness and of His being well pleasing to God was given, whereby the scoffings which He should afterwards hear were more than lavishly even beforehand compensated to Him. As respects the further purpose of the manifestation in its whole, and in its different parts, see LANGE ad loc.
5. The Christological importance of this whole event for all following centuries is self-evident. A new light from heaven rises upon Jesus’ Person. On the one hand it rises upon His true Humanity, which needed the communication and strength from above. On the other hand, His Divine dignity, as well in relation to the Father, as also in comparison with the prophets, is here made known to earth and heaven. Considered from a typico-symbolic point of view, it is significant that the appearance of the prophets is represented as a vanishing one, Jesus, on the other hand, as alone remaining with His disciples. Their light goes down, His sun shines continuously.
6. Not less light here falls upon the Work of the Saviour. The inner unity of the Old and the New Covenant becomes by this manifestation evident, and it is shown that in Christ the highest expectations of the law and the prophets are fulfilled. His death, far from being accidental or insignificant, appears here as the carrying out of the eternal counsel of God, and is of so high significance that messengers of heaven come to speak concerning it on earth. The severity of the sacrifice to be brought by Him is manifest from the very fact that He is in an altogether extraordinary manner equipped for this conflict. And the great purpose of His suffering, union of heaven and earth, Coloss. 1:20, how vividly is it here presented before our souls when we on Tabor, although only for a few moments, see heaven descending upon earth, and dwellers of the dust taken up into the communion of the heavenly ones.
7. The manifestation on Tabor deserves, moreover, to be called a striking revelation of the future state in this. We see here: the spirits of just men made perfect live unto God, even though centuries have already flown over their dust. In a glorified body they are active for the concerns of the kingdom of God, in which they take the holiest interest. Although separated by wide distances of time and space beneath, Moses and Elijah have met and recognized one another in higher regions. The centre of their fellowship is the suffering and glorified Jesus, and so blessed is their state, that even their transient appearance causes the light of the most glorious joy to beam into the heart of the child of earth. Earthly sorrow is compensated and forgotten; the Canaan which Moses might not tread in his life, he sees unclosed to him centuries after his death. Thus do they appear before us as types of that which the pious departed are even now, in their condition of separation from the body, and as prophets of that which the redeemed of the Lord shall be in yet higher measure at His coming.
8. The inseparable connection of suffering and glory, as well for the Lord as for His disciples, is here in the most striking manner placed before our eyes. Tabor is the consecration for Calvary, but at the same time gives us a foretaste of the Mount of Olives. At the same time the carnal longing for the joy of Ascension without the smart of Good Friday, is here for all time condemned. The hours of Tabor in the Christian life are still as ever like those of Peter and his companions. “Even with the purest feeling of the joy of faith there mingles here on earth much that is sensual and self-seeking; such exaltations of the spirit wrought by God Himself, are not bestowed on us in order for us to revel here in the intoxication of unspeakable emotions; there follows upon them the cloud, which withdraws from us all sensible sweetness of the enjoyment given us, and in our poverty and sinfulness causes us to feel the terrors of God, that we may ever learn to serve Him the more in the Spirit.” Von Gerlach.
9. There are admirable paintings of the Transfiguration, especially by Raphael. See STAUDENMAYER, Der Geist des Christenthums, dargestellt in den heiligen Zeiten, Handlungen und Kunst, ii. p. 430–437, and the chief histories of art. Comp. the Essay on the History of the Transfiguration by Dr. C. B. MOLL in PIPER’S Evang. Kalender, 1859, p. 60 seq.
HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL
The mountain-heights in the life of the Saviour.—Prayer the night-rest of Jesus.—The inward glory of the nature of our Lord revealed without.—The eye of the fathers of the Ancient Covenant directed full of interest upon the Mediator of the New.—The conflict which is carried on on Earth, is known to the dwellers of Heaven.—Jesus consecrated to His suffering and dying by a visit from the dwellers of heaven. This consecration was: 1. Necessary, on account of the true Humanity of the Saviour; 2. fitting, on account of the high momentousness of the event; 3. of great value for the disciples, as well then as afterwards; 4. continually important for the Christian world of following centuries.—Servants of God on earth separated from one another, in heaven united with one another.—The high importance which heaven ascribes to the work of redemption on earth.—The gleaming heaven in contrast with the sleeping earth.—The blessed view of the unveiled world of spirits.—“Master, it is good for us to be here.” 1. That we are here; 2. that we are here; 3. that we are here with Thee and heaven.—Tabor delights endure only for instants.—Even in communion with the dwellers of heaven, Peter cannot deny his individuality.—When I was a child, I spake as a child.—Alternation of rapture and fear in the consecrated hour of the Christian life.—The voice of God from the cloud contains even yet important significance: 1. For the Saviour, 2. for the disciples, 3. for the world.—God wills that all men should hear the Son of His love. 1. This the Father requires; 2. this the Son deserves; 3. this the Holy Spirit teaches us.—The prophets vanish, Jesus remains alone.—Jesus alone: 1. So appears He even now to His own in the holiest hours of life; 2. so will it also be hereafter. Even heaven vanishes to the eye which may behold the Lord of heaven face to face.—Christian silence.—Even to his fellow-disciples the disciple of the Saviour cannot relate all which the Saviour has often let him taste.—[How some Christian people are perpetually tormented with a notion that they must testify to whatever manifestation of God is granted to themselves, at the risk of bringing shallowness and weakness upon their own experience!—C. C. S.]—How well it is with the friend of the Saviour on Tabor: 1. How well it was there for His first disciples; they saw there a manifestation: a. most sublime in itself, b. most momentous for the Master, c. most pregnant of instruction for themselves. 2. How well it is continually with the Christian there; he finds, a. support for his faith, b. a school of instruction for his life, c. a living image of his highest hope.—The light which Tabor throws: 1. Upon the majesty of the person of Jesus; 2. upon the fitness of His suffering; 3. upon the sublimity of His kingdom.—Hear ye Him: 1. With deep homage; 2. with unconditional obedience; 3. with joyful trust.—The near connection of Old and New Covenant.—Tabor the boundary: 1. Between the letter and the Spirit; 2. between the ministration of condemnation, and the ministration of righteousness; 3. between that which vanishes away, and that which abides. 2 Cor. 3:6–11.—Jesus’ Transfiguration considered in connection with His Passion: On Tabor, 1. The prediction of His Passion is repeated; 2. the necessity of His Passion is confirmed; 3. the conflict of His Passion is softened; 4. the fruit of His Passion is prophesied.—The ascent [Aufgang] to Tabor, and the decease [Ausgang] at Jerusalem. We receive here light upon: 1. The exalted character of the Person who accomplishes this decease; 2. the worth of the work which is accomplished in this decease; 3. the glory of heaven which through this decease is disclosed.—Jesus the centre of union of the Church militant and the Church triumphant.—From the depth into the height, from the height again towards the depth.
STARKE:—The prayer of believing souls brings a foretaste of eternal life with it.—Oh, Saviour, if Thou wert so glorious on the Mount, what must Thou now be in heaven!—Christ, Moses, and all the prophets speak with one voice concerning our redemption. Be not then unbelieving, but believing.—Nova Bibl Tub.:—When Jesus shall waken us to His glory, we shall be as those that dream.—QUESNEL:—Whoever will enjoy rest and glory before labor and suffering, has never yet become acquainted with true religion.—The saying, “It is good to be here,” may be spared till we are in heaven.—Nova Bibl. Tub.:—Our future blessedness is yet encompassed with a cloud; “It doth not yet appear what we shall be.” 1 John 3:2.—My Redeemer, it is nothing to me who abandons me, if only Thou remain. Ps. 73:25.
WALLIN:—Desire no heaven upon earth.—ARNDT:—Jesus’ Transfiguration the opening scene of His passion. 1. The connection in which it stands with the Passion; 2. the significance which it has especially for the Passion.—FUCHS:—The Transfiguration of Christ: 1. Where did it happen? 2. how did it happen? 3. whereto did it happen?—COUARD:—The importance of this narrative: 1. For our faith, 2. for our life, 3. for our hope.—In KRUMMACHER’S Elijah the Tishbite, the concluding discourse upon: Jesus Alone.—SCHLEIERMACHER:—4th vol. of sermons, p. 338.—PALMER:—“Lord, it is good to be here.” An admirable text for occasional sermons, remarks at communions, weddings, at the grave, &c., useful also at dedications.
[Luke 9:28.—The Rec. is approved by Tischendorf, Lachmann, Tregelles, Alford, with Cod. Sin., A., B., C.1, 12 other uncials. Van Oosterzee’s order only by C.3, D., 2 other uncials.—C. C. S.]
[Luke 9:32.—“Some difficulty is here occasioned by διαγρηγορήσαντες. The verb διαγρηγορεῖν signifies elsewhere: to watch through; so Herodian, III. 4:8: πάσης…τῆς νυκτὸς διαγρηγορήσαντες. Accordingly Meyer wishes it to be so taken here: Since they, however, remained awake, did not actually fall asleep. But according to the connection with the preceding it is altogether improbable that such is the meaning: ‘since they, notwithstanding their disposition to sleep, yet remained awake,’ but rather that Luke meant this word, in any case an unusual one, in the sense: After they as it were had passed through their slumber to awaking again, had again waked: as the Vulgate had already rendered it by evigilantes (Luther: da sie aber aufwachten).” Bleek. Van Oosterzee takes Meyer’s interpretation against the preferable one, as it seems to me, of Bleek.—C. C. S.]
Luke 9:35.—According to the reading of B., L., [Cod. Sin.,] ἐκλελεγμένος, approved by Griesbach, Schulz, Tischendorf, and Meyer. The Recepta ἀγαπητός, although strongly attested, appears to be taken from the parallels in Matthew and Mark.
And it came to pass, that on the next day, when they were come down from the hill, much people met him.c. THE RETURN (Luke 9:37–50)
(Parallels: Matt. 17:14–23; Mark 9:14–21; Matt. 18:1–5.)
37And it came to pass, that on the next day, when they were come down from the hill [mountain], much people met him. 38And, behold, a man of the company cried out, saying, Master [Teacher], I beseech thee, look upon my son; for he is mine only child.39And, lo, a spirit taketh him. and he suddenly crieth out; and it teareth him that hefoameth again, and bruising him, hardly departeth from him. 40And I besought thydisciples to cast him out; and they could not. 41And Jesus answering said, O faithless [unbelieving] and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you, and suffer you? Bring thy son hither. 42And as he was yet a coming, the devil [demon] threw him down, and tare [convulsed] him. And [But] Jesus rebuked the unclean spirit, and healed the child, and delivered him again to his father. 43And they were all amazed at the mighty power [μεγαλειότητι, majesty] of God. But while they wondered every one at all things which Jesus [om., Jesus, V. O.9] did, he said unto his disciples, 44Let these sayings sink down into your ears: for the Son of man shall be [or, is about to be] delivered into the hands of men. 45But they understood not this saying, and it was hid from them, that they perceived [comprehended] it not: and they feared to ask him of that [concerning this] saying. 46Then there arose [There arose also] a reasoning among them, [as to] which of them should be greatest [was the greatest; lit., greater].47And Jesus, perceiving the thought [reasoning, διαλογισμόν, as in Luke 9:46] of their heart, took a child, and set him by him, 48And said unto them, Whosoever shall receive this child in my name receiveth me; and whosoever shall receive me, receiveth him that sent me: for he that is least [lit., less] among you all, the same shall be [is, V. O.10] great. 49And John answered and said, Master, we saw one casting out devils [demons] in thy name; and we forbade him, because he followeth not with us. 50And Jesus said unto him, Forbid him not: for he that is not against us is for us.
EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL
HARMONY.—Luke continues his narrative with an account of that which took place on the morning after the Transfiguration of the Saviour, and by this moreover gives a proof that we must regard this last event as having taken place in the night (otherwise LICHTENSTEIN, L. J., see p. 309). The conversation in descending from the mountain he passes over, not from an anti-Judaistic tendency (Baur), but as indifferent for Theophilus. With Matthew and Mark he relates the healing of the demoniac lad, and the prediction of the Passion following thereupon. After this the account of the return to Capernaum and of the stater in the fish’s mouth must be inserted, which we find only in Matt. 17:24–27. The disputation of the disciples as to their rank, communicated by Luke (Luke 9:46–48), proceeds parallel with Matt. 18:1–5, and what he adds in relation to John and the exorcist, Luke 9:49, 60 (comp. Mark 9:38–41), appears actually to stand in the correct historical connection, and must immediately follow Matt. 18:5.
Luke 9:37. Much people met Him.—Somewhat more in detail and with more vividness does Mark portray this meeting (9:14, 15), in whose whole account the influence of the autopsy of Peter cannot be mistaken. But we find in comparing the accounts of the three Evangelists no artificial climax therein, arising from a certain desire of glorifying the Saviour (Strauss). In a very unforced manner, on the other hand, they may be united by supposing that a part of the throng had hurried to the Saviour, while another part waited for Him. Besides, the ἐξεθαμβήθησαν of Mark affords an unequivocal proof of the deep impression which His sudden appearance made. If we, however, consider that the people, as it appears, had not expected Him, and in their conscience were convinced of an unrighteous temper towards Him and His disciples at this instant, then His unexpected appearance must have caused them a so much stronger shock of surprise the more His composure and majesty in the descent from the mountain contrasted with the restless tumult of the people.
Luke 9:38. Look upon my son, ἐπιβλέψαι.—Not Imp. 1st Aor. Mid., but Inf. Act depending on δέομαι. It is therefore not necessary with Lachmann to give the preference to the reading ἐπίβλεψον. The prayer that the Saviour would regard and help the unhappy demoniac is made more urgent by the mention that he is the only child, a trait which Luke alone preserves, but which is not therefore the less historical.
Luke 9:39. And, lo, a spirit.—According to Matthew the sick child was at the same time a lunatic. The epileptic attacks, interrupted only by short intervals, by which the youthful sufferer was tortured, were aggravated periodically, as it appears, with the waxing of the moon. That lunacy and demoniacal suffering do not at all exclude one another, has been with the best right remarked by LANGE ad loc.—He crieth out.—Not the boy (Meyer, De Wette) but the spirit, which so soon as he has possessed himself of the boy, suddenly (ἐξαίφνης), by working upon the bodily organs of the possessed, causes the most hideous tones to be heard, and inflicts upon him moreover the farther mischief described in the sequel of the verse. There is nothing which intimates or requires a sudden change of subjects.
Thy disciples.—Doubtless the unhappy father had come with the purpose that Jesus should help him, and found himself not a little disappointed when he learned that the Saviour with His three intimate disciples was absent. But when he was told that the demons had often been subjected to the disciples also (Matt. 10:8), he had appealed to them for compassion, and apparently expected that they should be able at least to do that which, as was said, the disciples of the Pharisees accomplished (Matt. 12:27). The sight of the fearful condition of the boy had, however, filled them with mistrust as to their own powers; perhaps they had also become lately weary in fasting and prayer (Matt. 17:4); at all events the attempt had failed, the evil spirit had not yielded at their word, and the consequence of this had been shame before the suppliant, displeasure with themselves, and shame before the Master. Mistrust had been sown, discord awakened, perhaps already scoffing speeches thrown out; it was high time that the Saviour should intervene when it appeared in so striking a manner that His disciples even yet were very little suited to work independently even for so short a time.
Luke 9:41. O unbelieving and perverse generation.—To whom the Saviour so speaks Matthew and Mark do not tell us, and the true reading, αὐτοῖς, in Mark, admits of many conjectures. See the principal views stated in LANGE on Matt. 17:17. That we have here by no means to exclude the apostles appears even from Matt. 17:20, and if we in some measure place ourselves in the frame of mind in which to-day the Saviour found Himself, and think once again on the great contrast which, for His feeling, existed between the scene on the summit and that at the foot of the mountain, we then understand how He could in this moment name all that surrounded Him, although in different measure, a γενεὰ ἄπιστος: a single word, which, however, betrays a world of melancholy. All the conflict, the self-denial, the tension of His powers which it cost His love to tarry continuously in an environment which in everything was the opposite of His inner life and effort, resounds overwhelmingly therein. How much harder this strife had become to Him, after that which He had just heard, seen, and enjoyed in the same night, we only venture in silence to conjecture. But we ask boldly whether this lamentation also may not be considered as a psychological proof of the fact that the Transfiguration on the mount was really an objective fact.
Bring thy son hither.—As to the more particular circumstances, the graphic account of Mark is especially worthy of comparison with this. The command is intended to contribute towards awakening the believing expectation of the father and making him thus receptive for the hearing of his prayer. Just at the approach to the Saviour the last paroxysm supervenes in all its might. “Quod atrocius solito in hominem sævit diabolus, ubi ad Christum adducitur, mirum non est, quum quo proprior affulget Christi gratia et efficacius agit, eo impotentius furit Satan.” Calvin.
Luke 9:43. At the majesty.—Here also, as often in Luke, the glory redounding to God by the healing is the crown of the Saviour’s miracle. Comp. Luke 5:26; 7:16.
Luke 9:44. Let these sayings sink down into your ears.—We see that the Saviour is to be misled by no false appearances; on the other hand, He will draw His disciples’ attention to the close connection between the “Hosannas!” and the “Crucify Him! Crucify Him!” They are to give heed to those words, that is, to those eulogies of the people. “In your ears,” primus gradus capiendi. Bengel.—For the Son of Man, γάρ, not in the sense of “namely,” as if the words referred to were those that now followed, but as Meyer takes it: “The disciples are to bear in memory these admiring speeches on account of the contrast in which His own fate would now soon appear with the same. They are, therefore, to build no hopes upon them, but only to recognize in them the mobile vulgus.”
Luke 9:45. But they understood not.—A description of the ignorance and uncertainty of the disciples, which gives us to recognize in Luke the admirable psychologist. The word of the Saviour is not understood by the disciples: this chief fact stands at the beginning. The ground of it: ἦν παρακεκαλ.: there lies a κάλυμμα upon the eye of their spirit, in consequence of which they cannot comprehend the meaning of the Lord, and because this perceptio is lacking, neither can there be any cognitio. The only one who could have cleared up the obscurity for them would have been the Master Himself, but Him they do not venture to interrogate personally, and remain therefore in the dark. The natural consequence of these obscure anticipations, which do not come to clearness in their minds, can only be sadness, which Matthew (17:23) gives as their prevailing mood after the prediction of the Passion has been renewed.
Luke 9:46. A reasoning … which of them was the greatest.—That just in this period of time such a strife could arise, shows most plainly how little the Saviour’s repeated prediction of His suffering had yet taken root in the mind of His disciples. In their thoughts they had already distributed Crowns, while the Master had the Cross in His eye. Occasion for such a strife they had been able to find a sufficiency of in the days last preceding, even if the germ of rivalry had not been already existent in their hearts. The declaration to Simon that he should be the rock of the church; the singling out of the three intimate disciples in the night of the Transfiguration, in whose demeanor it was easy to see that they had something great to keep silence concerning; the miraculous payment which the Saviour had but just before discharged for Himself and Simon (Matt. 17:24–27); finally, the awakened enthusiasm of the people subsequently to the healing of the lunatic boy, all these might easily coöperate to quicken their rivalry and earthly-mindedness. According to Luke the Saviour saw the thoughts of their hearts. According to the more exact and vivid account of Mark (9:33, 34), He Himself first asks after the cause of their dispute, which they scarcely venture to name to Him.
Luke 9:47. Took a child.—Just as in the Gospel of John (Luke 13:1–11), so does the Saviour in the Synoptics also give force to His instruction by a symbolic act. The tradition of the Greek church that the here-mentioned child was no other than the afterwards so renowned Ignatius (Christophoros; see EUSEBIUS, H. E. iii. 30.; Niceph. ii. 3) rests probably on his own declaration in his Epist. ad Smyrn. Luke 3: ἐγὼ γὰρ καὶ μετὰ τὴν ἀνάστασιν ἐν σαρκὶ αὐτὸν οῖδα. Even assuming that the Epistle is genuine and that οῖδα is to be understood of a meeting in the body, yet that which this father here states of the time after Jesus’ resurrection does not of itself give any ground for the assumption that he had even earlier come into personal intercourse with the Saviour.
Luke 9:48. Whosoever shall receive this child.—No reminiscence from Matt. 10:40, the reception of which in this passage takes from the Saviour’s whole discourse in Luke all continuity (De Wette), but one of the utterances which the Saviour might fittingly repeat more than once. By the fact that Jesus shows how high He places the child, He commends to them the childlike mind; and in what this consists, appears from Matt. 18:4. The point of comparison therefore is formed, not by the receptivity, the striving after perfection, the absence of pretension in the child (De Wette), but most decidedly by its humility, which was so entirely lacking in them. By this humility, the child’s understanding was yet free from vain imagination, the child’s heart from rivalry, the child’s will from stubbornness. That the Saviour, however, does not by this teach any perfect moral purity of children, or deny their share of the general corruption brought by sin, is very justly remarked by Olshausen, ad loc.
In My name, ἐπὶ τῷ ὀνόματί μου, that is, because he confesses My name. It is here self-evident that the expression: “Whosoever receives one such child, receives Me,” is applicable not to the child in itself, but to the child as a type of childlike minds. Such an one is not only the true subject, but even the legitimate representative of the humble Christ, even as He is the image of the Father, who is greatest when He humbles Himself the lowest. Erasmus: Quisquis igitur demiserit semet ipsum, hic est ille maximus in regno cœlorum. Subjective lowliness is here designated as the way to objective greatness.
Luke 9:49. And John answered and said.—Comp. Mark 9:38–40. It gives us a favorable view of the spirit and temper of the apostolical circle in this moment, that the word of the Lord commending humility, instead of wounding their self-love, awakens their conscience. John at least calls to mind a previous case, in which he feels that he dealt against the principle here uttered by the Lord, inasmuch as he had not received one of the little ones who had confessed His name. Although he already conjectures that the Master cannot approve of this behavior, he modestly discloses it to Him.
We saw one.—Even as in Acts 19:13, here also had the name “Jesus” served as a weapon in the hand of one of the exorcists. An admirable proof of the authority which even a stranger attributed to the name of the Saviour. The man had actually more than once succeeded in its use, but the disciples out of ill-concealed rivalry and ambition had forbidden it him, inasmuch as the command: “Cast out devils,” had been by the Master exclusively given to them. Perhaps this prohibition had been given to the exorcist only lately, when the nine disciples had failed in the healing of the lunatic boy, and were therefore still less able to bear that another should succeed in this respect better than they. Undoubtedly the Saviour would have reprehended this arbitrary conduct of His disciples more sharply if they had not thus voluntarily and humbly acknowledged to Him their perverse behavior.
Luke 9:50. He that is not against us.—It is not to be denied that many manuscripts here read ὑμῶν for ἡμῶν, see LACHMANN, ad loc. According to Stier this passage belongs to those where the correction of the Lutheran translation appears urgently important; since the “us” here in the mouth of the Saviour destroys almost the whole sense of His language. Olshausen, De Wette, and others also read ὑμῶν. Two reasons however exist, which move us to give the preference to the Recepta. In the first place, the reading ἡμῶν is the most difficult, and it is easier to explain how ἡμῶν could be changed into ὑμῶν, than the reverse. Besides, the preceding γάρ appears to favor the common reading, since they had just been speaking of casting out devils in the name of the Saviour. But, however this may be, the difference of the sense, even with the reading changed, is far less than, superficially considered, it might appear; for, even if the Lord said, “He that is not against you is,” etc., yet He still means the cause of the disciples only so far as this might be at the same time called His own cause, and therefore indirectly He includes Himself also. The fuller form of the answer is found in Mark; see the remarks there. Suffice it, the Saviour considers the doing of miracles in His name as an unconscious homage to His person; this homage as a proof of well-wishing, and this well-wishing as a pledge that He, in the first instance at least (ταχύ), had no assault to fear on this side, as, for example, the charge of a covenant with Beelzebub. It appears here, at the same time, how painfully this blasphemy, to which He had lately been exposed, affected Him.
DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL
1. The going down from the mount of Transfiguration, where He had been consecrated for His Passion, may, in the wider sense of the word, be called for the Saviour already a treading of the way of the Passion. The might of hell grins with hidden rage upon the future Conqueror of the realm of darkness, over whom heaven had just unclosed. The bitterness of the Pharisees had during this absence not diminished but increased, and the discomfiture which His disciples suffered is only the presage of greater ignominy which awaits them when the hour of darkness shall have come in with power. In the midst of all discords of sin and unbelief which become loud at the foot of the mountain, the word of the Saviour is so much the more affecting: “How long,” etc. It is the expression of homesickness, and of the sorrow with which the Son longs after His Father’s house, which, on the summit of the mountain, had disclosed itself to His view. Comp. Luke 12:50. How many secret complaints to the Father does this one utterance of audible complaint presuppose.
2. The childlike mind which the Saviour demands from His disciples is so far from standing in contrast with the doctrine of a general corruption through sin, that on the other hand there is required for the attaining of this mind an entire transformation of the inner man. In truth, Matt. 18:3 says nothing else than John 3:3. And here also the agreement of the Synoptical with the Johannean Christ comes strikingly into view.
3. The answer of the Saviour to John in reply to his inquiry respecting the exorcist, is an admirable proof of the holy mildness of our Lord. It breathes a similar spirit to the expression of Moses, respecting the prophesying of Eldad and Medad, Num. 11:26–29, and that of Paul respecting those who preach Christ through envy and strife, Philipp. 1:18, and gives at the same time a standard, according to which in every case the philanthropic and Christian activity even of those must be judged respecting whose personal life of faith we may be uncertain. It is true the Saviour had declared, in the Sermon on the Mount, that it is possible to cast out devils in His name and yet be damned (Matt. 7:22, 23), but even if this should hereafter come to light on that day before His judgment-seat, still it was something which His disciples could not as yet decide. They were continually to hope the best, and the more so as he who with hostile intentions, and without any faith at heart should attempt exorcism in His name would certainly not succeed in it. The favorable result of such an endeavor was a proof that, for the moment, they had to do with no enemy of the cause of the Saviour. The rule given here by Jesus is not in the least in conflict with His saying given Matt. 12:30. The rule: “He that is not for Me is against Me,” is applicable in judging of our own temper; the other: “He that is not against Me,” etc., must guide us in our judgment respecting others. The first saying gives us to understand that entire neutrality in the Saviour’s cause is impossible, the other warns us against bigoted exclusiveness. Read the two admirable discourses of A. VINET upon these two apparently contradictory sayings under the title: La tolérance et l’intolérance de l’Évangile, found in his Discours sur quelques sujets relig., p. 268–314, and the essay of ULLMANN in the Deutschen Zeitschrift, by H. F. A. SCHNEIDER, 1851, p. 21 seq.
HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL
The passage from the summit to the foot of the mountain.—In order to be glorified with Christ, we must first suffer with Him.—Jesus the best refuge for the suffering parental heart.—The best disciples cannot replace the Master Himself.—Conflict without triumph against the kingdom of darkness, 1. Possible; 2. explicable; 3. ruinous.—The name of the Saviour blasphemed on account of His people’s weakness of faith.—Every failure of the disciple of the Lord is the Master’s shame.—The happiness of childhood and youth destroyed by the might of the devil.—The strife between faith and unbelief in the suffering father’s heart, comp. Mark 9:24. 1. Jesus knows; 2. relieves; 3. ends this strife.—Over against the Saviour, the whole world stands as a perverse and unbelieving generation.—“Bring thy son hither,” the best counsel to suffering parents.—A last, vehement conflict often immediately precedes triumph.—Jesus the Conqueror of the might of hell.—The glory rendered to the Father the best thanks for the Son.—No outward praise can deceive the ear of the Saviour.—When the world testifies honor, the Christian has, above all, to consider how quickly its opinion changes.—Misunderstanding of the plainest words of the Saviour: 1. How it reveals itself; 2. from what it arises; 3. whereby it is best avoided.—The dispute as to rank among the disciples of the Saviour: 1. An old; 2. a dangerous; 3. a curable evil.—Without genuine childlikeness, no citizenship in the kingdom of God. 1. In what this childlikeness consists: in humility, by which a. the child’s understanding is yet free from vain imagination; b. the child’s heart is yet free from ignoble jealousy; c. the child’s will is yet free from inflexible stubbornness; d. the child’s life is yet free from the dominion of unrighteousness. 2. Why one, without this disposition, can be no genuine disciple of the Saviour. Without this disposition, it is impossible, a. to recognize the King of the kingdom of God; b. to fulfil the fundamental law of the kingdom of God; c. to enjoy the blessedness of the kingdom of God.—The world makes its servants great, the Saviour makes His disciples little.—The high value which the Saviour ascribes to the receiving of one of His own.—Tolerance and intolerance in the true disciple of the Saviour.—Narrow-minded exclusiveness, 1. Not strange even in distinguished disciples; 2. in direct conflict with the word and the example of the Master.—The allies whom the cause of the Saviour finds even outside of His immediate circle of disciples.—Christian labor on independent account: 1. How often even now it is met with; 2. how it is to be rightly judged.—How the church, collectively, may rightly judge the free activity of Christian individuals.
STARKE:—Langii Op.:—Oh, how many parents experience the extremest grief of heart on account of their children; but how few there appear to be of them, who permit themselves thereby to be drawn unto Christ.—BRENTIUS:—The devil is a fierce enemy of man, if he gets any leave of God.—CRAMER:—Christ is far mightier than all the saints; therefore in distress flee not to these, but to Christ Himself.—When man’s help disappears, God’s help appears.—BRENTIUS:—The wise and long-suffering Saviour knows still how to bring in again and to make good that which His servants have neglected and delayed; O excellent consolation!—Christ and Belial agree not together, 2 Cor. 6:15.—OSIANDER:—When it is well with us, let us think that it might also be ill with us, that we fall not into carnal security.—HEDINGER:—The flesh does not like to hear of suffering, and will not understand it.—If there is even yet so much ignorance in spiritual matters in the regenerate, how must it be with the unregenerate?—Jesus is thinking of suffering, the disciples of worldly dignity; how wide apart is the mind of the Lord Jesus and of man!—Nova Bibl. Tub.:—How needful to watch over one’s heart, since, even in enlightened souls, such haughty thoughts arise.—In children there is often more good to be found than any look for in them.—True humility of heart an infallible sign of grace.—QUESNEL:—God is in Christ, and Christ in His members.—True elevation is in humility.—HEDINGER:—Let Christ only be preached in any way, Phil. 1:18.—Blind zeal for religion is the greatest error in religion, Rom. 10:2.—True love approves the good, let it be done where and by whom it will, 1 Thess. 5:21.—CRAMER:—When servants and children of God agree in the main matter, it is no harm though they be somewhat different in words or ceremonies.
LISCO:—Defective faith.—The might of sin over man: 1. How it reveals itself; 2. how it is overcome by Jesus.—HEUBNER:—John (Luke 9:49), an example of well-meant but unwise zeal and sectarianism.—The spirit of Christ is not bound.—There is a displeasure at good when found in others, to which even the good are tempted.—The boundary between true liberality and indifference.—PALMER:—1. What do our children bring us? 2. What have we prepared for them?—MAREZOLL:—The noble simplicity of the Lord: 1. Where and how it displays itself; 2. what profit it brings.—BECK:—Zeal for the honor of the Saviour may be, 1. Well-meant, and yet, 2. un-Christian.—ARNDT:—The true dignity of the Christian.
[Luke 9:43.—Van Oosterzee’s omission of ὁ Ἰησοῦς is according to Tischendorf, Tregelles, Alford with Cod. Sin., B., D., L., X., Ξ.—C. C. S.]
Luke 9:48.—Rec.: ἔσται. For ἐστι we have the authority of B., C., L., X., Cursives, [Vulgate,] Origen, Cyprian, &c., and the probability that ἔσεται is a correction according to Matt. 18:4. [This reference to Matt. 18:4 is unintelligible, since the undisputed text there is ἐστιν.—C.C.S.]
And it came to pass, when the time was come that he should be received up, he stedfastly set his face to go to Jerusalem,THIRD SECTION
THE JOURNEY TOWARDS DEATH
A. The Divine Harmony in the Son of Man and the Four Temperaments of the Children of Men
(Parallel to Luke 9:57–60. Matt. 8:19–22.)
51And it came to pass, when the time was come [when the days were fulfilling] that he should be received up, he steadfastly set his face to go to Jerusalem, 52And sent messengers before his face: and they went, and entered into a village of the Samaritans, to make ready for him. 53And they did not receive him, because his face was as though 54he would go to Jerusalem. And [But] when his disciples James and John saw this, they said, Lord, wilt thou that we command fire to come down from heaven, and consume them, even as Elias [Elijah] did? 55But he turned, and rebuked them, and said, Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of [Know ye not of what spirit ye are children V. O.11]. 56For the Son of man is not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them [om. this sentence]. And they went to another village. 57And it came to pass, that, as they went in the way, a certain man said unto him, Lord, I will follow thee whithersoever thou goest. 58And Jesus said unto him, [The] Foxes have holes, and [the] birds of the air have nests [habitations, κατασκηνώσεις]; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head. 59And he said unto another, Follow me. But he said, Lord, 60suffer me first to go and bury my father. Jesus said unto him, Let the dead bury their 61dead: but go thou and preach the kingdom of God. And, another also said, Lord, I will follow thee; but let me first go bid them farewell, which are at home at my house. 62And Jesus said unto him [om., unto him, V. O.12], No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.
EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL
CHRONOLOGICAL.—We believe that the here-mentioned journey must be coördinated with John 7:1 (Friedlieb, Krafft, Hug, Lücke, Wieseler, a. o.). The grammatical expression of Luke 9:51 admits of this, and the remark, John 7:10, that the Saviour went up secretly, agrees admirably with Luke’s account that He travelled through Samaria. The arrangement of the events in Stier, who places John 7:1 immediately after Matt. 16:12, and makes the Saviour remain three whole months at Jerusalem, appears to us supported by no sufficient reasons, and to offer internal difficulties. We consider it, on the other hand, entirely probable that the Saviour, between the feast of Tabernacles, John 7, and the feast of the Dedication, John 10, spent yet some time in Galilee.
Luke 9:51. When the days were fulfilling that He should be received up.—With these words Luke begins a new particular narrative of travel, and for Harmonistics the question is naturally of great importance what we are to understand by the expression ἡμ. τῆς ἀναλ. We should be relieved of great difficulties if we found ourselves allowed to understand by it the coming to an end of the days in which the Saviour found a favorable reception in Galilee (Wieseler, Lange), but even if the grammatical possibility of this interpretation was sufficiently proved, yet the whole way of conceiving the first period of the public life of the Saviour, as a time of favorable reception in contrast with the conflict afterwards arising, appears to be hardly in the spirit of Luke. The translation of συμπληροῦσθαι in the sense of: “To come to an end,” is at least not favored by Acts 2:1, and moreover the whole Pauline usage of our Evangelist is decidedly in favor of interpreting the ἀνάληψις in the ecclesiastical sense of Assumtio. Comp. Acts 1:2; 11:22; 1 Tim. 3:16. We believe, therefore, that this is here indicated as the final term of the earthly manifestation of the Saviour, to which even His death was only a natural transition. But we are not obliged, therefore, as yet to assume that here the journey to the last Passover is meant; on the other hand, the opposite seems to be deducible from 13:22; 17:11. Quite as little can we assume that here two journeys to feasts have been confounded (Schleiermacher), and least of all that it is not even an account of any particular journey which begins here (Ritzschl). It appears, on the other hand, that here one of the last journeys is designated which the Saviour, on the approach of the end of His life, had entered upon with His view directed to His exaltation, and at the same time that in this whole narrative of journeying, Luke 9:51 to Luke 18:14, different details do not appear in their strict historical sequence. This was fully permitted to the Evangelist, since on his pragmatical position the whole public life of the Lord might properly be called a journey to death, as Bengel strikingly explains it: “Instabat adhuc passio, crux, mors, sepulcrum, sed per hœc omnia ad metam prospexit Jesus, cujus sensum imitatur stilus Evangelistœ.” Moreover, it clearly appears that this whole account of this journey in Luke is drawn from one or several distinct written sources (διηγήσεις); yet respecting their nature and origin it is impossible to determine anything certain, and for the credibility of this part also we must be contented with the declaration which Luke has made respecting his whole Gospel in the introduction, Luke 1:1–4.
He steadfastly set His face, ἐστήριξε τὸπρόσωπον.—We cannot agree with the opinion (Von Baur) that nothing is here meant to be intimated than that Jesus, in all of the journeys which He was now making, never lost the final goal out of His mind, but made them with the continual, unshaken consciousness that they, wherever they led, were properly a πορεύεσθαι εἰς ̔Ιερουσ. True, there lies in the word ἐστήριξε the conception of a steadfast undaunted beholding of the final goal of the journey but that nevertheless an immediate commencement and continuance of the journey itself was connected therewith is sufficiently apparent from Luke 9:53–56.
Luke 9:53. And they did not receive Him.—It is true that the caravans for Jerusalem often journeyed this way (see JOSEPHUS, Ant. Jud. xx. 6. 1; and LIGHTFOOT, on John 4:4), but for all that, hospitality might very well have been refused to a company travelling separately, and, above all, to the Saviour; if the report of the increasing hatred against Him had already made its way even to Samaria, and obtained there some influence. [The fact that the company were Jews is quite sufficient to account for the refusal, without the wholly superfluous and ungrounded supposition that they were influenced by any condition of parties among the Jews. If Jewish hatred against the Saviour had had any influence among the Samaritans, it would have been in His favor.—C. C. S.] Respecting the hatred between Samaritans and Jews, comp. LANGE, on the Gospel of John.
Luke 9:54. James and John.—There is just as little ground for assuming (Euth. Zigab.) as for denying (Meyer) that the sons of Zebedee themselves were the messengers. The exasperation that filled them is as easily comprehensible as the entreaty for vengeance which they uttered. 1. They had seen the Lord upon Tabor, where Moses and Elijah did Him homage: shortly after, a conversation of high moment had directed their attention to Elijah and his relation to the kingdom of God. Is it a wonder that an image from the history of this prophet came up before their souls, and a spark of his fiery zeal set their hearts into a flaming glow? Comp. 2 Kings 19:12. That the name Boanerges was given them for a humiliating reminder of what here took place, is, as already remarked, without any ground.
As Elijah did, ὡς καὶ Ἠ. ἐποίησεν.—Upon the authority of B., L., and some cursives and variations, these words have been often suspected (Mill, Griesbach), and finally omitted by Tischendorf. We believe, however, that their early omission must be explained on the ground that “in the answer of Jesus an indirect censure of this example was discovered” (De Wette). On the other hand, it is probable that the words proceeded from the disciples themselves, since such an apparently unreasonable inquiry could be best justified by an express appeal to the man who had also performed such a miracle of punishment.
Luke 9:55. Know ye not of what Spirit ye are?—The Saviour does not disapprove this Elijah-like zeal unconditionally. Ηe knows that this, on the plane of the old Theocracy, was not seldom necessary; but this does He seriously censure: that His disciples so entirely overlooked the distinction between the Old and the New Testament, that they, in the service of the mildest Master, still continued to believe that they could act as was permitted the stern reformer of Israel on his rigoristic position. They ought far rather to have considered that they, in His society, had, from the very beginning, become partakers of another Spirit, which knew no pleasure in vengeance. Not only of this does the Master powerfully admonish them, that they should be the bearers of this Spirit, but also that they in His society were already the dwelling-places of this Spirit. We find no ground for removing these words as spurious from the text, notwithstanding that they had been quite early suspected and expunged by many. (See TISCHENDORF, ad loc.) Their rejection, however, is sufficiently explained by the fact that they seemed to contain an indirect censure of Elijah’s way of dealing, and therefore gave offence to the copyists, although from a mistaken understanding of them. Perhaps it was feared also that by retaining these words the ancient Christian zeal in the persecution of heretics would be seen to be condemned, and they were therefore discreetly left out. In both cases the omission is at least fully intelligible, but not in what way they had come into the other manuscripts if the Saviour had not uttered them. And would Luke have written only ἐπετίμησεν αύτοῖς without adding anything more; precisely as he had previously, Luke 9:42, said in reference to an evil spirit? On the contrary, as respects the last words in the Recepta: “The Son of Man is not come,” &c., the number as well as the weight of the authorities for their spuriousness is in our eyes decisive. They are in all probability, as a fitting conclusion of an ecclesiastical lesson, transferred either from Matt. 18:18, or Luke 19:10. The grounds, at least, on which, for example, STIER, iii. p. 95, will still vindicate them, appear to us rather subjective and unsatisfactory.
Luke 9:57. And it came to pass.—The correct historical sequence of this occurrence appears to have been observed by Matthew, Luke 8:19, 20. The second may have taken place almost contemporaneously with it, the third probably on another occasion; but it is related by Luke here, on account of the similarity of the case, in one connection with the others. Our Evangelist apparently gives them at the beginning of this last narrative of travel, for the reason that they have all relation to one most momentous subject, the following of the Saviour in the way of self-denial, of toil, and of conflict.
A certain man.—According to Matthew, a scribe. If we proceed upon the presupposition that the Evangelist, in the case of very special callings of disciples, had in mind only the calling of apostles, and that therefore the here-mentioned person must necessarily have been one of the Twelve, the conjecture of Lange is then in the highest degree happy, that we here in the two following accounts have the history of the calling of Judas Iscariot, Thomas, and Matthew. On the other hand, we do not know whether the first was a scribe: we believe, moreover, that we must assume, on chronological grounds, that the calling of Matthew had already taken place. The first of these three men is moreover not called by Jesus, but, unrequested, offers himself to Him as companion of His journey. He utters the language of excited enthusiasm, follows the impression of the moment, and is the type of a sanguine nature.
Luke 9:58. The foxes.—The answer of the Saviour does not of itself entitle us to accuse the scribe who offers himself as a disciple, of an interested end; but it only presupposes that his resolution had been taken too hastily to be well matured and well considered. The Saviour therefore desires that he should first consider how little rest and comfort he had to expect in this journey. He Himself had less than even the wildest beasts possess, and can therefore call His followers also only to daily self-denial. The Saviour here does not primarily refer to the humbleness and poverty of His life, but to His restless and wandering life, although the first of these thoughts need not be wholly excluded. Does, perchance, the presentiment also express itself in these words that even dying He should lay His head to rest in a place which was not even His own property? At all events, we have to admire the deep wisdom of the Saviour in this, that on this occasion He calls himself the Son of Man, as if He would intimate that He who requires so much self-denial, also fully deserves it. As far as we from other passages are acquainted with even the better-minded scribes, we shall be very well able to assume that this one, at such a word, went from thence with a disturbed mind. The interpretation, moreover, that the Saviour with this pregnant answer only meant to say, “But I know not as yet for the coming night where I shall sleep” (Herder), or, that “The Divine Spirit which restlessly worked in Him, suffered itself to be hemmed in under no roof, within no four walls” (Weisse), belongs fitly in a collection of exegetical curiosities. The view of Schleiermacher, that the scribe wished to follow the Saviour to Jerusalem on whichever of the many roads to Jerusalem He might travel, we cannot approve, since it rests upon an improbability, in presupposing that not Matthew but Luke has given this occurrence in the right historical connection. To better purpose may we, in order to understand this man’s meaning, compare the language which Ittai used towards David, 2 Sam. 15:21.
Luke 9:59. And He said unto another, Follow Me.—According to Matthew’s intimation also: πρῶτον, Jesus first called this man to follow Him, and encouraged him, therefore, while He rather deterred the former. The melancholy temperament is treated by the Lord very differently from the sanguine. According to Matthew, he is one of the μαθηταί, belonging to the wider circle which is alluded to also in John 6:66. If the scribe was too inconsiderate, this man is too melancholy, and even in the most immediate neighborhood of the Prince of life, he sees himself pursued by gloomy images of death. The Lord knows that this man must choose at once or without doubt he will never choose, and deals with him, therefore, with all the strictness, but at the same time with all the wisdom, of love.
First to go and bury my father.—The sense is not that the father was already old, and that he wished to wait for his death (so, among others, HASE, Leben Jesu, second edition), for then he would have demanded an indefinite, perhaps a long postponement, and would have deserved a sharper answer. No, without doubt his father had died, and he had perhaps only quite lately received the intelligence of his death. It is not, however, probable that he would have mingled among the people and approached the Saviour, immediately from the house of death, after he had become Levitically unclean. He wishes, on the other hand, to go to his dead father, and cherishes the hope that the Saviour, for his sake, will postpone His departure or else permit him to follow afterwards.
Luke 9:60. Let the dead.—See LANGE, ad loc. in Matthew. With a man of such a character the Saviour considers it absolutely necessary to insist on the exact fulfilment of the high principle, that for His sake, one must unconditionally leave all. If even the Nazarites were not permitted to defile themselves by touching the mortal remains of their kindred (Num. 6:6, 7), without this prohibition having been viewed as too strict, the Saviour also does not require too much when He here demanded the leaving of the dead father; the more so since He made good a thousandfold that which was given up for His sake, by the joyful calling to preach the Gospel of the kingdom of God. Duty to a handful of dust must now give way before duty towards mankind. It is of course understood, that the Saviour here by the first mentioned νεκροί means the spiritually dead, and it at once appears how much, by the double sense in which the word νεκροί is here used, the expression gains in beauty and power. Here also, in the use of language by the Synoptic and the Johannean Christ, there is discernible an admirable agreement. Comp. John 5:24, 25.
Luke 9:61. Lord, I will follow Thee.—Luke does not state definitely whether the initiative proceeded from the Saviour or the disciple. It may be that Jesus had first called him, yet it is also possible that he here offers himself. This history has a remarkable concurrence with the prophetical calling of Elisha, 1 Kings 19:19, 21, and the form of the Saviour’s answer also appears borrowed from what took place with Elisha, who was called when ploughing. Here the Saviour insisted upon undivided devotion, as He in the first case insisted upon ripe consideration, in the second upon courageous decision. The inquirer is either not to follow, or to follow wholly and perfectly.
Luke 9:62. No man.—Before all things the Saviour will give the man to feel that in the kingdom of God a severe labor must be accomplished,—a labor which will be doubly severe and certainly unfruitful, if the whole man does not take part in it. He portrays to us from life the plougher whose hand is on the plough, whose eye is turned back, and whose work roust thereby become toilsome, ill regulated and insignificant. [The light, easily overturned plough of the East lends force to the image.—C. C. S.] What should He have to do with such laborers in His kingdom? To be compared with this, although not to be identified with it, is the example of Lot’s wife, Luke 17:32, and the apostolic saying, 2 Peter 2:22.
Remarks on the whole Section.—It has often been remarked that Luke, without observing a strict chronological sequence, brings together here four different characters: Luke 9:51–56 the Choleric, Luke 9:57, 58 the Sanguine, Luke 9:59, 60 the Melancholic, Luke 9:61, 62 the Phlegmatic. Without precisely asserting that the Evangelist had the definite purpose to portray the Saviour’s manner of dealing with men of the most different temperaments, we yet cannot deny that he is much more concerned for the union of similar facts than for strict chronological arrangement. It is not probable that in the last period of the public life of the Saviour, when enmity against Him had already so considerably increased, a scribe would have followed Him even then; on the contrary, it is much more credible that this, as Matthew relates, took place at an earlier period of time. That this last case occurred twice (Stier), appears to us on internal grounds hardly admissible.
DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL
1. It has more than once been inquired what temperament is to be ascribed to the Son of Man, and the decision has been made in favor of some one of the four, e.g. the choleric (Winkler). But the comparison of our Saviour’s temper of soul and manner of dealing with that of the four different men coming here into view, gives us plainly to perceive that every strongly pronounced temperament necessarily represents something one-sided, while it is precisely in the perfect harmony of His predispositions, powers, and movements of soul, that the characteristics of the entirely unique personality of Jesus must be sought.
2. The insult which the Saviour received from the Samaritans must have been the greater, the more widely the fame of His Messianic dignity had penetrated even among them. To a Messiah who was going up to Jerusalem instead of restoring the temple-service on Gerizim, they could not possibly extend hospitality. But at the same time, this hatred is also a striking symbol of the reception which is now as ever prepared for the Christian in the midst of an unbelieving world, as soon as this becomes aware, or conjectures, that his countenance also is directed towards the heavenly Jerusalem.
3. The heavenly mildness of the Saviour over against religious hatred on the one hand and the desire of vengeance on the other, only becomes rightly apparent, if we not only compare Him with Elijah, but above all consider who He was, and what reception He was entitled to demand. His vengeance on Samaria for the refusal of recognition here, we read in Acts 8:14–17.
4. It is quite as incorrect to overlook the special necessity of the requirements, Luke 9:60–62, for those times, as to suppose that they were exclusively suitable for those times. On the contrary, there is here expressed in a peculiar form the high principle which binds all His disciples immutably, without respect to time or place, and with which we have already become acquainted, Luke 9:23–25.
5. The very strictness of the requirements which the Saviour imposes on His followers, is an incontrovertible proof of the exalted self-consciousness which He continually bore within Himself. Who has ever demanded more, but who also has promised more and rendered a greater reward than He? And in that which He here demands of others, He Himself has gone before in accomplishing the will of His Father at every time without rebuke.
HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL
Luke 9:51–56. The steady step with which the Saviour goes towards His
Passion and His Glory.—The distinction between this village of the Samaritans and Sychar, John 4:40.—The power of deep-rooted religious hatred.—The strife between exaggerated religiosity and genuine humanity.—The hatred in Samaria the presage of the conflict in Jerusalem.—The fiery zeal of the sons of Zebedee: 1. Flaming out, 2. rebuked, 3. purified.—The Saviour over against: 1. Bigoted enemies, 2. unintelligent friends.—Jesus the meek Servant of the Father.—True and false religious zeal. Comp. Romans 10:2.—Religious hatred, false zeal, and meekness.—The distinction between the spirit of the Old and that of the New Covenant.
Luke 9:57–62. The following of Jesus; a threefold precept: 1. No very hasty step; the Master requires earnest consideration; 2. no melancholy resolution; the Master requires a courageous walk; 3. no unresolved wavering; the Master requires entire devotion.—Well-meaning but ill-considered steps, Jesus dissuades from.—The restless life of the Lord.—Whoever will follow the Son of Man, must count on self-denial.—What is heaviest, must weigh heaviest.—The dead father and the living Gospel.—To the spiritually dead commit the care of the lifeless dust.—Forgetting what is behind, reaching on to what is before.—The love of the Saviour in an apparently arbitrary refusal.—The undecided man between the Saviour and them of his house.—The useless plougher on the field of the kingdom of God: 1. His type; 2. his work; 3. his sentence.—Three stones of stumbling on the way of following Jesus: 1. Overhastiness, 2. heavy-heartedness, 3. indecision.
The whole Section. The Divine harmony in the Son of Man, and the different temperaments of the children of men.—The wisdom of the Saviour in converse with and in guiding men of the most different kinds.—How: 1. Different temperaments are related to the Saviour; 2. how the Saviour is related to different temperaments.—Severity and love, holiness and grace, in the Son of Man united in noblest wise.—Comp. especially the admirable sermons of Fr. Arndt on Luke 9:52–62.
STARKE:—The consideration of death must not depress us, since we know that we are travelling towards the heavenly Jerusalem.—J. HALL:—Oh, deep humiliation, that He whose is the heaven and all the habitations therein, entreats for a lodging, and does not even find it.—QUESNEL:—When one has once begun in good earnest the journey to heaven, he has little credit thereafter in the world.—Not to be hospitable, especially towards those who follow Christ, is unrighteous. Hebr. 13:2.—ZEISIUS:—How thirsty for vengeance after all is flesh and blood!—Against sin we must be zealous, but not against the persons of the sinners.—Although one may indeed follow the saints, yet herein considerateness is to be used.—CANSTEIN:—To the church of Christ there has no might and power for the destruction of men been given.—Nova Bibl. Tub.:—Whoever with Christ seeks only easy days, let him stay away from Him.—BRENTIUS:—A Divine call must be accepted without conferring with flesh and blood, let it cost what it may. Gal. 1:16.—Parents one must honor, but for the sake of the kingdom of heaven let them also go. Matt. 19:29.—The ministry demands the whole man.—ZEISIUS:—It is easy and hard to be a Christian.
HEUBNER:—How many profitless and superfluous drones there are in the ministry. Such workers are corpses that will all yet be buried.—Jesus commonly comes even to us not unannounced.—AUGUSTINE:—Opus est mitescere pietate.—PALMER:—Earthly desire, earthly love, earthly sorrow—these are the three powers that scare men away from Christ.—BECK (on Luke 9:51–56):—Know ye not what Spirit ye are children of? 1. What Spirit we are children of; 2. what Spirit we ought to be children of.—GEROK:—The four temperaments under training of Jesus Christ, the Searcher of hearts.—SCHAUFLER (on Luke 9:61, 62):—Anything but a conditional following of Jesus!
Luke 9:55.—Tischendorf omits all between ἐπετίμησεν αὐτοῖς and καὶ ἐπορ. according to A., B., C., Ξ., Cod. Sin. As to this, Alford says, “It is hardly conceivable that the shorter text, as edited by Tischendorf, should have been the original, and all the rest insertion.” “The words have such a weight of authority against them, that they would be worthy of rejection, if it were explicable how they came into the text. How easily, on the other hand, out of regard to Elijah, could an intentional omission take place! Moreover, the brief, simple, and pregnant word of rebuke is so unlike a copyist’s interpolation, and as worthy of Jesus Himself, as it is, on the other hand, hard to conceive that Luke, on an occasion so unique, limited himself to the bare ἐπετίμησεν αὐτοῖς.” Meyer, “It is in itself something very improbable, that the original narrative should have been expressed with such boldness as according to this text: ‘He turned and rebuked them,’ without the communication of the Redeemer’s own expressions, and, on the other hand, it is not less improbable, that if the text had originally read barely [as proposed], it should have been already in the ancient church supplemented as it now appears in the Received Text. For it is already so found in the Vulgate, four manuscripts of the Itala, and in most of the other ancient versions, as well as in Marcion, Clemens Alexandrinus, Cyprian, Augustine, Ambrosius, and others. The early omission of the words was perhaps originally occasioned by an accidental error in copying, the eye of the copyist being misled from καὶ εῖ̓πεν to καὶ ἐπορ., as Meyer supposes, and then this shorter text being retained in the church from dogmatical considerations also, namely, because the words of Christ were used by Marcion, who already read them, as we see from Tertull. adv. Marc. 4:23, and other anti-Jewish Gnostics, to justify their rejection of the Old Testament and the Jewish economy.” Bleek. The spuriousness of the words: “For the Son of Man is not come,” &c., is not much contested. It appears to be “the interpolation of a sentence customary” with our Lord, from Matt. 18:11, or Luke 19:10.—C. C. S.]
[Luke 9:62.—Om., πρὸς αὐτόν. The variations show this to be an interpolated supplement to the verb: some insert it before, some after ὁ Ἰησ., some giving αὐτῷ. Alford. Cod. Sin. has it.—C. C. S.]