Luke 11:52
Woe to you, lawyers! for you have taken away the key of knowledge: you entered not in yourselves, and them that were entering in you hindered.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(52) Woe unto you, lawyers!—The “woe” in this case is uttered against those who were, by their very calling, the professed interpreters of the Law. Its form rests on the fact that each scribe or “doctor of the law,” in the full sense of the term, was symbolically admitted to his office by the delivery of a key. His work was to enter with that key into the treasure-chambers of the house of the interpreter, and to bring forth thence “things new and old” (Matthew 13:52). The sin of the “lawyers” of that time, the “divines” as we should call them, was that they claimed a monopoly of the power to interpret, and yet did not exercise the power. Wearisome minuteness, a dishonest and demoralising casuistry, fantastic legends, these took the place of a free and reverential study of the meaning of the sacred Books. Those who “were entering in,” answer to the souls not far from the kingdom of God, waiting for the consolation of Israel, pressing as with eagerness to the spiritual meaning of Law and Prophet. Such, at one stage of his life, must have been the Evangelist himself. This, it will be noted, is the third occurrence of the word in St. Luke’s Gospel. (See Notes on Luke 8:16; Luke 11:33.) It is obvious that the passage, as a whole, throws light on the promise of the “keys” of the kingdom made to Peter. (See Note on Matthew 16:19.)

Luke 11:52. Wo unto you, lawyers! for ye have taken away the key of knowledge — Ye have obscured and destroyed the true knowledge of the Messiah, which is the key both of the present and the future kingdom of heaven. Or, by your wrong interpretations of Scripture, you have filled the people with strong prejudices against the gospel, so that you not only reject it yourselves, but hinder others from receiving it. See on Matthew 23:13.11:37-54 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.Woe unto you, lawyers! - See the notes at Matthew 23:13.

The key of knowledge - A key is made to open a lock or door. By their false interpretation of the Old Testament they had taken away the true key or method of understanding it. They had hindered the people from understanding it aright. "You endeavor to prevent the people also from understanding the Scriptures respecting the Messiah, and those who were coming to "me" ye hindered." If there is any sin of special magnitude, it is that of keeping the people in ignorance; and few people are so guilty as they who by false instructions prevent them from coming to a knowledge of the truth, and embracing it as it is in Jesus.

52. key of knowledge—not the key to open knowledge, but knowledge, the only key to open heaven. In Mt 23:13, they are accused of shutting heaven; here of taking away the key, which was worse. A right knowledge of God's Word is eternal life (Joh 17:3); but this they took away from the people, substituting for it their wretched traditions. Matthew saith, Matthew 23:13, for ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men, &c. I take the sense of these words to be, You have taken away knowledge, which is the key by which men enter into the kingdom of God. Though knowledge itself be but a common gift, and men may have great measures of it, and yet perish for ever, 1 Corinthians 13:2, yet it is the foundation of all saving grace. How shall they believe in him of whom, they have not heard? Romans 10:14. So, how shall they obey a rule they do not know, or repent of those sins which they do not know to be so? So as those that are the hinderers of people’s coming to the knowledge of the will of God, are the vilest instruments upon earth in hindering men’s and women’s salvation. The papists are highly guilty of this, in keeping their laity from the Scriptures in a language intelligible to them. But how were the scribes guilty of this? The Jews were never hindered from reading or hearing of the law; it was read in their synagogues every sabbath day. But we must know that knowledge is highly advantaged by an interpretation of the mind and will of God. But how did the scribes take away this? They preached and interpreted the law of God.

Answer. They gave not the true sense of it, but so preached that people were scarce any whit the wiser, as to the knowledge of the law of God, only they made people understand their traditions and ceremonies: their doctrines were the traditions of men. Now they occupying the places of teachers, and no better discharging their work, instead of giving, took away knowledge from them, and proved blind leaders of the blind. Whoever they are that arrogate to themselves the office of teaching, and supplying the places of teachers, and either do not make preaching, and instruction of the people under their charge, their business, or who preach in styles and methods their people understand not, or who preach other things than what they prove to be the revealed will of God, fall deeply under the condemnation of this text. See Poole on "Matthew 23:13". Woe unto you lawyers,.... Who are particularly addressed again in distinction from the Pharisees, though much the same things are said to them both in Matthew 23:13

for ye have taken away the key of knowledge; of the Scriptures, of the law, and the prophets, and the true interpretation of them, and especially of such places as refer to the Messiah, and the Gospel dispensation, called the kingdom of heaven, Matthew 23:13 they had not only arrogated the knowledge of these to themselves, setting up for the only interpreters of the sacred writings; but they had took away from the people the true knowledge and sense of them, by their false glosses upon them, so that they were destroyed for lack of knowledge: and hence came that famine of hearing the word, which they say (c) should be before the coming of the King Messiah, and now was. The Syriac and Arabic versions read, "the keys of knowledge"; and the Ethiopic version, "the key of righteousness". The Jews sometimes speak of "the keys of the law", and represent the oral law as the root and key of the written law (d): but, alas! it was by the oral law, or traditions of the elders, that they took away the key, or obscured the true sense of the written law. Some think, that here is an allusion to the custom of delivering a key to any one, when he was ordained or promoted to the dignity of a doctor: it is said of R. Samuel (e), that

"when he died they put, "his key", and his writing book into his coffin, because he was not worthy of a son''

to succeed him:

ye entered not in yourselves; into the kingdom of heaven, the Gospel dispensation, neither receiving doctrines, nor submitting to its ordinances:

and them that were entering in ye hindered; by reproaching the miracles and ministry of Christ; by threatenings and excommunications; See Gill on Matthew 23:13.

(c) Targum in Ruth i, 1.((d) Zohar in Exod. fol. 46. 1.((e) Vid. Cameron. in loc.

{16} Woe unto you, lawyers! for ye have {n} taken away the key of knowledge: ye entered not in yourselves, and them that were entering in ye hindered.

(16) Those who ought to be the door keepers of the Church have for a long time mainly hindered the people from entering into the knowledge of God.

(n) You have hidden and taken away, so that it cannot be found anywhere.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Luke 11:52. See on Matthew 23:14. The genitive of the thing with τ. κλεῖδα denotes that which is opened by the key (Matthew 16:19; Revelation 1:18; Revelation 9:1; Revelation 20:1), since here we are not to supply τῆς βασιλείας with κλεῖδα, and take τ. γνώσεως as a genitive of apposition (Düsterdieck in the Stud. u. Krit. 1865, p. 750). Comp. Isaiah 22:22.

The γνῶσις, the knowledge κατʼ ἐξοχήν, i.e. the knowledge of the divine saving truth, as this was given in the manifestation and the preaching of Christ, is compared to a closed house, to get into which the key is needed. The νομικοί have taken away this key, i.e. they have by means of their teaching, opposed as it is to the saving truth (because only directed to traditional knowledge and fulfilling of the law), made the people incapable of recognising this truth.

ἤρατε] tulistis (Vulgate); the reading ἀπεκρύψατε found in D is a correct gloss. If they had recognised and taught, as Paul did subsequently, the law as παιδαγωγὸς εἰς Χριστόν (Galatians 3:24), they would have used the key for the true knowledge for themselves and others, but not taken it away,[150] and made it inaccessible for use. They have taken it away; so entirely in opposition to their theocratic position of being the κλειδοῦχοι have they acted.

On the figurative idea of the key of knowledge, comp. Luke 8:10 : ὑμῖν δέδοται γνῶναι τὰ μυστήρια τῆς βασιλείας τ. Θεοῦ. The aorists are altogether to be taken in the sense of the completed treatment; they indicate what the νομικοί have accomplished by their efforts: τοὺς εἰσερχομένους, however, are those who were intending to enter.

[150] Ahrens, Amt d. Schlüssel, p. 9 ff., takes ἤρατε as: ye bear (more strictly: ye have taken to you) the key of knowledge, to wit: as those who ought to be its οἰκονόμοι. Thus, however, the reason of the οὐαί would not yet appear in ὅτι ἤρατε κ.τ.λ., nor until the following αὐτοὶ οὐκ κ.τ.λ.; and hence the latter would have required to be linked on by ἀλλά, or at least by δέ; or else instead of ἤρατε the participle would have required to be used. Many of the older commentators, as Erasmus, Elsner, Wolf, Maldonatus, took ἤρατε as: ye have arrogated to yourselves, which, however, it does not mean.Luke 11:52. Final woe on the lawyers, a kind of anticlimax. Cf. Mt., where the pathetic apostrophe to Jerusalem follows and concludes the discourse.—τὴν κλεῖδα τῆς γνώσεως, the key which is knowledge (genitive of apposition) admitting to the Kingdom of God. Many take it = the key to knowledge.52. ye have taken away the key of knowledge] A key was the regular symbol of the function of a scribe (Matthew 13:52; Matthew 16:19), which was to open the meaning of the Holy Books. The crime charged against them here is their selfish exclusiveness. They declared that only rich and well-born people could be scribes; and while they refused to teach the mass of the people, they at the same time called them ‘accursed’ for not knowing the law, and spoke about them in terms of the bitterest scorn and detestation. “Ye have caused many to stumble at the law,” Malachi 2:8.Luke 11:52. Ἤρατε) ye have taken away. [They had thrust themselves into the ecclesiastical office: and he who neglected them was left bound in all kinds of ignorance.—V. g.]—τὴν κλεῖδα τῆς γνώσεως, the key of knowledge) i.e. true knowledge, viz. of the Messiah (ch. Luke 20:41), which is the key of the kingdom of the heavens.—οὐκ εἰσήλθετε, ye have not entered in) into the kingdom of the heavens.Verse 52. - Woe unto you, lawyers! for ye have taken away the key of knowledge: ye entered not in yourselves, and them that were entering in ye hindered. The Talmud gives us the clue to the Master's words of bitter reproach here. There were very many, in that restless age of inquiry, waiting for the consolation of Israel, who longed to enter into the real meaning of psalm and prophecy; but the scribe, the lawyer, and the doctor, with their strange and unreal interpretations, their wild and fantastic legends, their own often meaningless additions, effectually hindered all real study of the Divine oracles. The Talmud - in the form we now possess it - well represents the teaching of these schools so bitterly censured by the Lord.
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