Luke 11:47
Woe to you! for you build the sepulchers of the prophets, and your fathers killed them.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(47) Ye build the sepulchres of the prophets.—See Note on Matthew 23:29. St. Luke omits the reference, which we find in St. Matthew, to the “sepulchres of the righteous.”

11:37-54 We should all look to our hearts, that they may be cleansed and new-created; and while we attend to the great things of the law and of the gospel, we must not neglect the smallest matter God has appointed. When any wait to catch something out of our mouths, that they may insnare us, O Lord, give us thy prudence and thy patience, and disappoint their evil purposes. Furnish us with such meekness and patience that we may glory in reproaches, for Christ's sake, and that thy Holy Spirit may rest upon us.See the notes at Matthew 23:29-36.47, 48. ye build, &c.—Out of pretended respect and honor, they repaired and beautified the sepulchres of the prophets, and with whining hypocrisy said, "If we had been in the days of our fathers, we should not have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets," while all the time they "were witnesses to themselves that they were the children of them that killed the prophets" (Mt 23:29, 30); convicting themselves daily of as exact a resemblance in spirit and character to the very classes over whose deeds they pretended to mourn, as child to parent.Ver. 47-51. See Poole on "Matthew 23:29" and following verses to Matthew 23:36. The Pharisees, like a company of wretched hypocrites, under a pretence of their honouring the memories of the prophets under the Old Testament, took great care to repair and to adorn their sepulchres, while in the mean time their hearts were as full of malice against the truth, and against Christ and those who came to reveal God’s will to them, as ever were their fathers against the prophets; and, saith our Saviour, I, who am the Wisdom of God, tell you, that I shall send you apostles, and prophets, and some of them you shall kill, others you shall persecute; that all the righteous blood that hath been shed on the earth, from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zacharias, may come on you; which mind being in you, the same as in your persecuting predecessors, your building and adorning the old prophets’ tombs is not (as you would have it thought) any testimony of your honour to the prophets, but rather to your fathers that killed them, a kind of trophy for the victory your fathers got over the prophets of the Lord; so as by that act you give a testimony that you own them as your fathers who killed the prophets, and glory in what they did, for if you truly honoured their memory, you would not retain the same malicious, bloody mind. It is gross hypocrisy for men to magnify the servants of God in former ages, and in the mean time to malign and persecute the servants of the same God in a present age, owning but the same truths, and living up to the same rule. See Poole on "Matthew 23:29", and following verses to Matthew 23:36, where the same things are said with larger circumstances. They truly honour martyrs, that live the same lives they did, and adhere to the same truths of God, in a testimony to which they died. Woe unto you,.... Meaning particularly the lawyers or Scribes, together with the Pharisees, and even the whole body of the people, who in general were of the cast and complexion here described:

for ye build the sepulchres of the prophets; See Gill on Matthew 23:29.

and your fathers killed them; the prophets; "or whom your fathers killed", as read the Syriac, Arabic, and Persic versions; the one put them to death, and the other erected stately monuments over them, or adorned them; and yet both had the same malignant spirit against the faithful servants and messengers of God; and which showed their great hypocrisy.

{15} Woe unto you! for ye build the sepulchres of the prophets, and your fathers killed them.

(15) Hypocrites honour those saints when they are dead whom they persecute most cruelly when they are alive.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Luke 11:47-48. See on Matthew 23:29-31. The sting of the discourse is in Matthew keener and sharper.

ὅτι οἰκοδομεῖτεοἱ δὲ πατέρες κ.τ.λ.] because ye build … but your fathers slew them. By this building, which renews the remembrance of the murder of the prophets, ye actually give testimony and consent to the deeds of your fathers, Luke 11:48. Otherwise ye would leave to ruin and forgetfulness those graves which recall these deeds of shame! It is true the graves were built for the purpose of honouring the prophets, but the conduct of the builders was such that their way of regarding the prophets, as proved by this hostile behaviour, was reasonably and truly declared by Jesus to be a practical contradiction of that purpose. He declares how, in accordance with this behaviour, the matter objectively and actually stood. Consequently, there is neither any deeper meaning to be supposed as needing to be introduced, as Lange, L. J. II. 2, p. 840, has unhappily enough attempted; nor is ἄρα to be taken as interrogative (Schleiermacher). The second clause of the contrast, οἱ δὲ πατέρες κ.τ.λ., is introduced without any preparation (without a previous μέν; otherwise at Luke 11:48), but just with so much the greater force, and hence no μέν is to be supplied (Kuinoel; see, on the other hand, Klotz, ad Devar. p. 356 f.; Fritzsche, ad Rom. II. p. 423).

In view of the reading ὑμεῖς δὲ οἰκοδομεῖτε, Luke 11:48 (without αὐτῶν τὰ μνημεῖα, see the critical remarks), we must translate: but ye build! ye carry on buildings. That this building had reference to the tombs of the prophets is self-evident. The brief expression is more passionate, pregnant, incisive.Luke 11:47. καὶ οἱ πατέρες ὑ., and your fathers. This reading of [110] [111] is to be preferred on internal grounds to οἱ δὲ, as implying that the two acts were not contrasted but kindred = they killed, you build, worthy sons of such fathers.

[110] Codex Sinaiticus (sæc. iv.), now at St. Petersburg, published in facsimile type by its discoverer, Tischendorf, in 1862.

[111] Codex Ephraemi47. your fathers killed them] This is holy sarcasm. They boasted that they would not have done as their fathers had done to the Prophets (Matthew 23:30), yet they rejected John, the greatest of the Prophets, and crucified the Just One, Acts 7:51-52.Luke 11:47. Οἰκοδομεῖτε, ye build) This in itself does not seem to have been wrong; but what was wrong was, that they imitated their fathers.Verses 47, 48. - Ye build the sepulchres of the prophets, and your fathers killed them. Truly ye bear witness that ye allow the deeds of your fathers: for they indeed killed them, and ye build their sepulchres. There are still existing four singular tombs at the foot of Olivet, in the Valley of Jehoshaphat. Remarkable objects now to the modern traveler at Jerusalem, in all their fresh beauty they would be still more striking in the days of our Lord. The peculiar composite nature of the architecture of these great tombs has decided antiquaries to ascribe the building of these to the days of the later Herods. It is, therefore, not improbable that these conspicuous objects in the landscape, seen from the temple platform, and possibly others like them, which have since perished, were the tombs and sepulchres especially in our Lord's mind when he was speaking to the lawyer, and later at Jerusalem, when he' repeated, with some slight variations, the same awful woe (Matthew 23:29). It was, indeed, a speech of awful and cutting irony, these words of Jesus. "Your fathers," he said, "killed the prophets; you complete their evil work by building tombs for these slain men of God. In other words, you pretend to make amends for the crimes of past generations by this show of ostentatious piety; but if you really differed from your wicked fathers in spirit, if you indeed honored, as you profess to do by this gorgeous tomb-building, the holy men of God whom they slew, would you be acting as you now are doing - trying, as you know you are, to take my life? Is not my life like the lives of those old murdered prophets? are not my words resembling theirs?" Ye build

Or are building, carrying on the work now. See on Matthew 23:29.

Tombs of the prophets

See on Matthew 23:29.

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