Luke 14:28
For which of you, intending to build a tower, sits not down first, and counts the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it?
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(28-30) Which of you, intending to build a tower . .?—The words do not depend for their meaning on any local or personal allusion, but it is quite possible that their force may have been heightened for those who heard them by the memory of recent facts. Pilate had begun to build—certainly an aqueduct, probably a tower—and had not been able to finish. (See Notes on Luke 13:4; Matthew 27:16.) He had not “counted the cost,” and when he was hindered from laying hands on the Corban, or treasure of the Temple, his resources failed.



Luke 14:28

Christ sought for no recruits under false pretences, but rather discouraged than stimulated light-hearted adhesion. His constant effort was to sift the crowds that gathered round Him. So here great multitudes are following Him, and how does He welcome them? Does He lay Himself out to attract them? Luke tells us that He turned and faced the following multitude; and then, with a steady hand, drenched with cold water the too easily kindled flame. Was that because He did not wish them to follow Him? He desired every soul in that crowd for His own, and He knew that the best way to attract is sometimes to repel; and that a plain statement of the painful consequences of a course will quench no genuine enthusiasm, but may turn a mere flash in the pan into a purpose that will flame through a life.

So our Lord lays down in stringent words the law of discipleship as being self-sacrifice; the abandonment of the dearest, and the acceptance of the most painful. And then He illustrates the law by these two expanded similes or condensed parables, of the rash builder and the rash soldier. Each contains a side of the Christian life, and represents one phase of what a true disciple ought to be. I wish to look with you now at the first of these two comparisons.

I. Consider then, first, the building, or the true aim of discipleship.

The building of the tower represents what every human life ought to aim at, the rearing up of a strong, solid structure in which the builder may dwell and be at rest.

But then remember we are always building, consciously or unconsciously. By our transitory actions we are all rearing up a house for our souls in which we have to dwell; building character from out of the fleeting acts of conduct, which character we have to carry with us for ever. Soft invertebrate animals secrete their own shells. That is what we are doing-making character, which is the shield of self, as it were; and in which we have to abide.

My friend, what are you building? A prison; a mere garden-house of lustful delights; or a temple fortress in which God may dwell reverenced, and you may abide restful? Observe that whilst all men are thus unconsciously and habitually rearing up a permanent abode by their transient actions, every life that is better than a brute’s ought to have for its aim the building up of ourselves into firm strength. The development of character is what we ought to ask from, and to secure by, this fleeting life of ours. Not enjoyment; that is a miserable aim. Not the satisfaction of earthly desires; not the prosperity of our business or other ordinary avocations. The demand that we should make upon life, and the aim which we should have clearly before us in all that we do, is that it may contribute to the formation of a pure and noble self, to the development of character into that likeness to Jesus Christ, which is perfection and peace and blessedness.

And while that is true about all life, it is eminently true in regard to the highest form of life, which is the Christian life. There are dreadful mistakes and imperfections in the ordinary vulgar conception of what a Christian is, and what he is a Christian for. What do you think men and women are meant to be Christians for? That they may get away from some material and outward hell? Possibly. That they may get celestial happiness? Certainly. But are these the main things? By no means. What people are meant to be Christians for is that they may be shaped into the likeness of Jesus Christ; or to go back to the metaphor of my text, the meaning and aim of Christian discipleship is not happiness, but the building up of the tower in which the man may dwell.

Ah, friend; is that your notion of what a Christian is; and of what he is a Christian for, to be like the Master? Alas! alas! how few of us, honestly and continually and practically, lay to heart the stringent and grand conception which underlies this metaphor of our Lord’s, who identifies the man that was thinking of being His disciple with the man that sits down intending to build a tower.

II. So, secondly, note the cost of the building, or the conditions of discipleship.

Building is an expensive amusement, as many a man who has gone rashly in for bricks and mortar has found out to his cost. And the most expensive of all sorts of building is the building up of Christian character. That costs more than anything else, but there are a number of other things less noble and desirable, which share with it, to some extent, in the expenditure which it involves.

Discipleship demands constant reference to the plan. A man that lives as he likes, by impulse, by inclination, or ignobly yielding to the pressure of circumstances and saying, ‘I could not help myself, I was carried away by the flood,’ or ‘Everybody round about me is doing it, and I could not be singular’-will never build anything worth living in. It will be a born ruin-if I may so say. There must be continual reference to the plan. That is to say, if a man is to do anything worth doing, there must be a very clear marking out to himself of what he means to secure by life, and a keeping of the aim continually before him as his guide and his pole-star. Did you ever see the pretty architect’s plans, that were all so white and neat when they came out of his office, after the masons have done with them-all thumb-marked and dirty? I wonder if your Bibles are like that? Do we refer to the standard of conduct with anything like the continual checking of our work by the architect’s intention, which every man who builds anything that will stand is obliged to practise? Consult your plan, the pattern of your Master, the words of your Redeemer, the gospel of your God, the voice of judgment and conscience, and get into the habit of living, not like a vegetable, upon what happens to be nearest its roots, nor like a brute, by the impulses of the unreasoning nature, but clear above these put the understanding, and high above that put the conscience, and above them all put the will of the Lord. Consult your plan if you want to build your tower.

Then, further, another condition is continuous effort. You cannot ‘rush’ the building of a great edifice. You have to wait till the foundations get consolidated, and then by a separate effort every stone has to be laid in its bed and out of the builder’s hands. So by slow degrees, with continuity of effort, the building rises.

Now there has been a great deal of what I humbly venture to call one-sidedness talked about the way by which Christian character is to be developed and perfected. And one set of the New Testament metaphors upon that subject has been pressed to the exclusion of the others, and the effortless growth of the plant has been presented as if it were the complete example of Christian progress. I know that Jesus Christ has said: ‘First the blade, then the ear; after that the full corn in the ear.’ But I know that He has also said, ‘Which of you, intending to build a tower’-and that involves the idea of effort; and that He has further said, ‘Or what king, going to make war against another king’-and that involves the idea of antagonism and conflict. And so, on the whole, I lay it down that this is one of the conditions of building the tower, that the energy of the builder should never slacken, but, with continual renewal of effort, he should rear his life’s building.

And then, still further, there is the fundamental condition of all; and that is, self-surrender. Our Lord lays this down in the most stringent terms in the words before my text, where He points to two directions in which that spirit is required to manifest itself. One is detachment from persons that are dearest, and even from one’s own selfish life; the other is the acceptance of things that are most contrary to one’s inclinations, against the grain, painful and hard to bear. And so we may combine these two in this statement: If any man is going to build a Christlike life he will have to detach himself from surrounding things and dear ones, and to crucify self by suppression of the lower nature and the endurance of evils. The preceding parable which is connected in subject with the text, the story of the great supper, and the excuses made for not coming to it, represents two-thirds of the refusals as arising from the undue love for, and regard to, earthly possessions, and the remaining third as arising from the undue love to, and regard for, the legitimate objects of affection. And these are the two chords that hold most of us most tightly. It is not Christianity alone, dear brethren, that says that if you want to do anything worth doing, you must detach yourself from outward wealth. It is not Christianity alone that says that, if you want to build up a noble life, you must not let earthly love dominate and absorb your energy; but it is Christianity that says so most emphatically, and that has best reason to say so.

Concentration is the secret of all excellence. If the river is to have any scour in it that will sweep away pollution and corruption, it must not go winding and lingering in many curves, howsoever flowery may be the banks, nor spreading over a broad bed, but you must straighten it up and make it deep that it may run strong. And if you will diffuse yourself all over these poor, wretched worldly goods, or even let the rush of your heart’s outflow go in the direction of father and mother, wife and children, brethren and sisters, forgetting Him, then you will never come to any good nor be of use in this world. But if you want to be Christians after Christ’s pattern, remember that the price of the building is rigidly to sacrifice self, ‘to scorn delights and live laborious days,’ and to keep all vagrant desires and purposes within rigid limits, and absolutely subordinated to Himself.

On the other hand, there is to be the acceptance of what is painful to the lower nature. Unpleasant consequences of duty have to be borne, and the lower self, with its appetites and desires, has to be crucified. The vine must be mercilessly pruned in tendrils, leaves, and branches even, though the rich sap may seem to bleed away to waste, if we are to grow precious grapes out of which may be expressed the wine of the Kingdom. We must be dead to much if we are to be alive to anything worth living for.

Now remember that Christ’s demand of self-surrender, self-sacrifice, continuous effort, rigid limitation, does not come from any mere false asceticism, but is inevitable in the very nature of the case, and is made also by all worthy work. How much every one of us has had to shear off our lives, how many tastes we have had to allow to go ungratified, how many capacities undeveloped, in how many directions we have had to hedge up our way, and not do, or be this, that, or the other; if we have ever done anything in any direction worthy the doing! Concentration and voluntary limitation, in order to fix all powers on the supreme aim which judgment and conscience have enjoined is the condition of all excellence, of all sanity of living, and eminently of all Christian discipleship.

III. Further, note the failures.

The tower of the rash builder stands a gaunt, staring ruin.

Whosoever throws himself upon great undertakings or high aims, without a deliberate forecast of the difficulties and sacrifices they involve, is sure to stop almost before he has begun. Many a man and woman leaves the starting-point with a rush, as if they were going to be at the goal presently, and before they have run fifty yards turn aside and quietly walk out of the course. I wonder how many of you began, when you were lads or girls, to study some language, and stuck before you had got through twenty pages of the grammar, or to learn some art, and have still got the tools lying unused in a dusty corner. And how many of you who call yourselves Christians began in the same fashion long ago to run the race? ‘Ye did run well.’ What did hinder you? What hindered Atalanta? The golden apples that were flung down on the path. Oh, the Church is full of these abortive Christians; ruins from their beginning, standing gaunt and windowless, the ground-plan a great palace, the reality a hovel that has not risen a foot for the last ten years. I wonder if there are any stunted Christians of that sort in this congregation before me, who began under the influence of some impulse or emotion, genuine enough, no doubt, but who had taken no account of how much it would cost to finish the building. And so the building is not finished, and never will be.

But I should remark here that what I am speaking about as failure is not incomplete attainment of the aim. For all our lives have to confess that they incompletely attain their aim; and lofty aims, imperfectly realised, and still maintained, are the very salt of life, and beautiful ‘as the new moon with a ragged edge, e’en in its imperfection beautiful.’ Paul was an old man and an advanced Christian when he said, ‘Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect, but I follow after.’ And the highest completeness to which the Christian builder can reach in this life is the partial accomplishment of his aim and the persistent adherence to and aspiration after the unaccomplished aim. It is not these incomplete but progressive and aspiring lives that are failures, but it is the lives of men who have abandoned high aims, and have almost forgotten that they ever cherished them.

And what does our Lord say about such? That everybody laughs at them. It is not more than they deserve. An out-and-out Christian will often be disliked, but if he is made a mock of there will be a soupçon of awe and respect even in the mockery. Half-and-half Christians get, and richly deserve, the curled lip and sarcasm of a world that knows when a man is in earnest, and knows when he is an incarnate sham.

IV. Lastly, I would have you observe the inviting encouragement hidden in the apparent repelling warning.

If we read my text isolated, it may seem as if the only lesson that our Lord meant to be drawn from it was a counsel of despair. ‘Unless you feel quite sure that you can finish, you had better not begin.’ Is that what He meant to say? I think not. He did mean to say, ‘Do not begin without opening your eyes to what is involved in the beginning.’ But suppose a man had taken His advice, had listened to the terms, and had said, ‘I cannot keep them, and I am going to fling all up, and not try any more’-is that what Jesus Christ wanted to bring him to? Surely not. And that it is not so arises plainly enough from the observation that this parable and the succeeding one are both sealed up, as it were, with ‘So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be My disciple.’

Now, if I may so say, there are two kinds of ‘forsaking all that we have.’ One is the forsaking by which we become disciples; and the other the forsaking by which we continue true disciples. The conviction that they had not sufficient to finish is the very conviction that Christ wished to root in the minds of the crowds. He exhibits the difficulties in order that they may feel they cannot cope with them. What then? That they may ‘forsake’ all their own power to cope with them.

That is the first kind of ‘forsaking all that we have.’ That makes a disciple. The recognition of my own utter impotence to do the things which yet I see must be done, is the underside of trust in Him. And that trust in Him brings the power that makes it possible for us to do the things which we cannot of ourselves do, and the consciousness of the impotence to do which is the first step toward doing them. It is the self-sufficient man who is sure to be bankrupt before he has finished his building; but he who has no confidence in himself, and recognises the fact that he cannot build, will go to Jesus Christ and say, ‘Lord, I am poor and needy. Come Thou Thyself and be my strength.’ Such a forsaking of all that we have in the recognition of our own poverty and powerlessness brings into the field an Ally for our reinforcement that has more than the twenty thousand that are coming against us, and will make us strong.

And then, if, knowing our weakness, our misery, our poverty, and cleaving to Jesus Christ in simple confidence in His divine power breathed into our weakness, and His abundant riches lavished upon our poverty, we cast ourselves into the work to which He calls us by His grace, then we shall find that the sweet and certain assurance that we have Him for the possession and the treasure of our lives will make parting with everything else, not painful, but natural and necessary and a joy, as the expression of our supreme love to Him. It should not, and would not be difficult to fling away paste gems and false riches if our hands were filled with the jewels that Christ bestows. And it will not be difficult to slay the old man when the new Christ lives in us, by our faith and submission.

So, dear brethren, it all comes to this. We are all builders; what kind of a work is your life’s work going to turn out? Are you building on the foundation, taking Jesus Christ for the anchor of your hope, for the basis of your belief, for the crown of your aims, for your all and in all? Are you building upon Him? If so, then the building will stand when the storm comes and the ‘hail sweeps away the refuges’ that other men have built elsewhere. But are you building on that foundation the gold of self-denial, the silver of white purity, the precious stones of variously-coloured and Christlike virtues? Then your work will indeed be incomplete, but its very incompleteness will be a prophecy of the time when ‘the headstone shall be brought forth with shoutings’; and you may humbly trust that the day which ‘declares every man’s work of what sort it is’ will not destroy yours, but that it will gleam and flash in the light of the revealing and reflecting fires. See to it that you are building for eternity, on the foundation, with the fair stones which Jesus Christ gives to all those who let Him shape their lives. He is at once, Architect, Material, Foundation; and in Him ‘every several building fitly framed together groweth into a holy temple in the Lord.’Luke 14:28-33. Which of you, intending to build a tower, (the word πυργος here signifying the same as the Hebrew migdol, seems to denote any great building whatever,) sitteth not down first and counteth the cost — To illustrate the necessity of their weighing deliberately, whether they were able and prepared to bear all their losses and persecutions to which the profession of the gospel would expose them, which indeed was the only term on which they could be his disciples, he desired them to consider how prudence would direct them to act in other cases of importance. The most thoughtless person among you, as if he had said, will not resolve on a matter of such importance as the building of a house, without previously calculating the expense; because you know that the builder who begins without counting the cost, being obliged to leave off for want of money, exposes himself to the ridicule of all passengers who look on the half- finished edifice. In like manner, the king who declares war without comparing his forces with those of his enemy, and considering whether the bravery of his troops, and the conduct of his generals, will be able to make up what he wants in numbers, is sure to be ingloriously defeated, unless he humbly sue for peace before the matter comes to an engagement. So likewise — Like the person who began to build and was not able to finish; or like the king who, being afraid to face his enemy, sends an embassy and desires terms of peace; whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath — Who does not engage so earnestly and resolutely in his Christian warfare, as to hold all things cheap in comparison with life eternal, and be ready to forsake them when I call him to it; he cannot be my disciple — He cannot be acknowledged by me as such, because my disciples will be exposed to such trials, to such reproaches, losses, imprisonments, tortures, and martyrdoms, that unless they prefer me, and the cause in which I am engaged, to all visible and temporal things whatever, they certainly will not steadily adhere to me, or continue faithful and constant in my service. “Christ does not here require that we should actually renounce these [temporal] things, but that our heart and our affections should be so taken off from them, that we always love them less than we love him; and be always ready to part with them when we cannot keep them without making shipwreck of faith and a good conscience.”

Whitby. To the same purpose Baxter: “A man cannot be Christ’s disciple if he prefer not the kingdom of heaven before all worldly interest, and forsake it not all comparatively, in esteem and resolution now, and in act when he is called to it.” “It was in this sense that the apostles understood their Master: for though they are said to have forsaken all and followed him, they still retained the property of their goods, as is evident from the mention that is made of John’s house, into which he took our Lord’s mother, after the crucifixion; and from Peter and the other disciples prosecuting their old trade of fishing, with their boat and nets, after their Master’s resurrection: nevertheless, though they thus retained the use and dominion of their property, they had truly forsaken all, in the highest sense of their Master’s precept, being ready, at his call, to leave their families, occupations, and possessions, as often and as long as he thought fit to employ them in the work of the gospel. Upon the whole, therefore, it appears, that the renunciation and self-denial which Christ requires, does not consist in actually parting with all before he calls us to do so, but in being disposed to part with all, that when he calls we may do it.” See Macknight.14:25-35 Though the disciples of Christ are not all crucified, yet they all bear their cross, and must bear it in the way of duty. Jesus bids them count upon it, and then consider of it. Our Saviour explains this by two similitudes; the former showing that we must consider the expenses of our religion; the latter, that we must consider the perils of it. Sit down and count the cost; consider it will cost the mortifying of sin, even the most beloved lusts. The proudest and most daring sinner cannot stand against God, for who knows the power of his anger? It is our interest to seek peace with him, and we need not send to ask conditions of peace, they are offered to us, and are highly to our advantage. In some way a disciple of Christ will be put to the trial. May we seek to be disciples indeed, and be careful not to grow slack in our profession, or afraid of the cross; that we may be the good salt of the earth, to season those around us with the savour of Christ.Intending to build a tower - See Matthew 21:33. A tower was a place of defense or observation, erected on high places or in vineyards, to guard against enemies. It was made "high," so as to enable one to see an enemy when he approached; and "strong," so that it could not be easily taken.

Counteth the cost - Makes a calculation how much it will cost to build it.

28-33. which of you, &c.—Common sense teaches men not to begin any costly work without first seeing that they have wherewithal to finish. And he who does otherwise exposes himself to general ridicule. Nor will any wise potentate enter on a war with any hostile power without first seeing to it that, despite formidable odds (two to one), he be able to stand his ground; and if he has no hope of this, he will feel that nothing remains for him but to make the best terms he can. Even so, says our Lord, "in the warfare you will each have to wage as My disciples, despise not your enemy's strength, for the odds are all against you; and you had better see to it that, despite every disadvantage, you still have wherewithal to hold out and win the day, or else not begin at all, and make the best you can in such awful circumstances." In this simple sense of the parable (Stier, Alford, &c., go wide of the mark here in making the enemy to be God, because of the "conditions of peace," Lu 14:32), two things are taught: (1) Better not begin (Re 3:15), than begin and not finish. (2) Though the contest for salvation be on our part an awfully unequal one, the human will, in the exercise of that "faith which overcometh the world" (1Jo 5:4), and nerved by power from above, which "out of weakness makes it strong" (Heb 11:34; 1Pe 1:5), becomes heroical and will come off "more than conqueror." But without absolute surrender of self the contest is hopeless (Lu 14:33).Ver. 28-33. Our Lord had in the parable of the supper showed what those things are which keep men from embracing the call of the gospel, to wit, their hearts’ too much adherence to and embracing of sensible and sensual things. For the meeting of which temptation he had told them, Luke 14:25-27, that if they loved any thing in the world more than him, they could have no portion in him, they could not be his disciples, for (as Matthew saith) they are not worthy of him; nay, more than this, they must take up and bear their cross, and come after him. Here he directs them the best expedient in order to the performance of these duties, so hard to flesh and blood; that is, to sit down beforehand, and think what it will cost them to go through with the profession of religion. This, he tells them, ordinary prudence directeth men to, when they go about to build, or fight. As to the first, they make as good an estimate as they can of the charge. As to the latter, they consider both the charge, and the strength that they are able to produce to make opposition. So, saith he, must they do who will be his disciples:

1. Sit down and consider what it will cost them to become the Lord’s building, what old foundations of nature must be digged up, what new foundation must be laid, how many stones must be laid before they can come up to a wall level to the promise wherein salvation is insured.

2. Then they must consider what oppositions they are like to meet with, from the world, the flesh, and the devil.

And they must be ready to forsake all for Christ, though, it may be, they shall not be actually called out to it. Only we must remember, that in parables every branch is not to be applied.

1. We must desire no conditions of peace from our spiritual adversaries.

2. In our counting up of our strength to maintain the spiritual fight we must do as princes use to do, who use to count the forces of their allies and confederates, as well as their own: so we must not count what opposition we, alone can maintain against the world, the flesh, and the devil; but what Christ (who is in covenant with us as to these fights) and we can do together.

So as consideration and pre-deliberation here are not required of as upon any account to deter us from the fight, (for fight we must, or die eternally), but to prepare us for the fight, by a firm and steady resolution, and to help us how to manage the fight, looking up to Christ for his strength and assistance in the management of it. For which of you intending to build a tower,.... Taking up a profession of Christ and his Gospel, is like building a tower; which, as a tower, must be laid on a good foundation; not on carnal descent and parentage; nor on a sober and religious education; nor on a civil, moral life and conversation; nor on a bare knowledge of Gospel truths and a flash of affection for them, and the people of God; but upon Christ the sure foundation; and on principles of grace formed by his Spirit, in their hearts: and this, like a tower, is carried very high; not by professing high things, but by living on high amidst a profession; by having the affections set on things above; and by looking down with contempt on things below; and by looking to, and pressing after, the prize of the high calling of God in Christ: the profession of some persons is very low; it arises from low principles, and proceeds on low views, aims, and ends; but where it is right, and well founded, it is like a tower, firm and steady, and is a fortress and bulwark against apostacy. Now what person acting deliberately in such a case as this, and proceeding with intention and design,

sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it? as every wise man would, who has any thoughts of building a tower, or any other edifice: and so such that have an intention to take up a profession of religion, should sit down and well consider of it; which does not imply, that persons should delay making a profession, on whom it is incumbent; but that this should be done with thoughtfulness, care, and prudence: it should be considered on what foundation a man is going to build: whether the work of grace is truly wrought upon his soul; what be the nature and use of Gospel ordinances; with what views he takes up a profession, and submits to ordinances; what the church and minister are, he intends to walk with; and what the charge and cost of a profession; for such a work is chargeable and costly, and should be thought of and considered, whether he is able to bear it: for he will be called to self-denial; and must expect to suffer the loss of the favour of carnal relations and friends; and to be exposed to the scorn and rage of the world; a cross must be took up and bore; and great grace and strength are requisite to all this.

For which of you, intending to build a tower, {e} sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it?

(e) At home, and calculates all his costs before he begins the work.

Luke 14:28-33. Peculiar to Luke from the source that he has followed since Luke 9:51.

γάρ] Reason for the οὐ δύναταιμαθητής. Since he, namely, is as little able to fulfil this great and heavy task[177] as any one is able to build a tower if he has not the necessary means, etc.: thus the latter serves for corroboration of the former. Comp. Luke 14:33.

θέλων] if he will. The article (who will) is unnecessary, and too weakly attested (in opposition to Bornemann).

καθίσας ψηφίζει] “ut intelligas diligentem atque exactam supputationem,” Erasmus.

ΕἸ ἜΧΕΙ] sc. τὴν δαπάνην.

ἈΠΑΡΤΙΣΜΌς, completion, only to be found in Dion. Hal. De compos, verb. 24. On the use of ἀπαρτίζειν in Greek, see Lobeck, ad Phryn. p. 447.

Luke 14:30. οὗτος] with scornful emphasis: this man, forsooth!

Luke 14:31. συμβαλεῖν] intransitive: to encounter, confligere, 1Ma 4:34; 2Ma 8:23; 2Ma 14:17. See Wetstein and Kypke.

εἰς πόλεμον] belongs to ΣΥΜΒΑΛΕῖΝ: for a battle. Thus frequently συμβάλλειν τινι εἰς μάχην (see Kypke); ΕἸς in the sense of the purpose. Comp. πρὸς μάχην, Polyb. x. 37. 4, also Xen. Cyrop. vii. 1. 20 : εἰς μονομαχίαν πρός τινα; Strabo, xiv. p. 676.

ΒΟΥΛΕΎΕΤΑΙ] deliberates with his generals and counsellors. Comp. Acts 5:33; Acts 15:37.

ἐν δέκα χιλ.] ἘΝ, in the midst of, surrounded by, amongst. Comp. Judges 1:14.

Luke 14:32. εἰ δὲ μήγε] sc. δυνατὸς εἴη. See on Matthew 6:1, and Dindorf, ad Dem. Praef. p. v. f.

τὰ πρὸς εἰρήνην] quae ad pacem componendam spectant, arrangements for peace. Comp. Test. XII. Patr. p. 599. Contrast: τὰ πρὸς τὸν πόλεμον, Xen. Anab. iv. 3. 10. On the whole sentence, comp. Xen. Mem. iii. 6. 8.

Luke 14:33. The application, and consequently the doctrine, of both examples as a commentary on the γάρ of Luke 14:28.

ΠᾶΣΙ ΤΟῖς ἙΑΥΤΟῦ ὙΠΆΡΧ.] the general statement to which the special instances, Luke 14:26, belong. ἙΑΥΤΟῦ has the emphasis of the self-denial. Comp. Luke 14:27.

[177] More precise interpretations of the figures are not justified. Especially the second ought not to have been expounded, as it has often been, of the struggle against the devil (Augustine: “simplicitatem Christian! dimicaturi cum duplicitate diaboli”), to which, indeed, the peacemaking of ver. 32 would be wholly inappropriate.Luke 14:28-33. Parables illustrating the need of counting the cost, peculiar to Lk., but intrinsically probable as sayings of Jesus, and thoroughly germane to the foregoing discourse. The connection is: It is a serious thing to be a disciple, therefore consider well before you begin—the renunciations required, the cross to be borne—as you would, if wise, consider before building a tower or engaging in battle.28. intending to build a tower] This and the next similitude are meant, like the previous teachings, to warn the expectant multitudes that to follow Christ in the true sense might be a far more serious matter than they imagined. They are significant lessons on the duty of deliberate choice which will not shrink from the ultimate consequences— the duty of counting the cost (see Matthew 20:22). Thus they involve that lesson of “patient continuance in well-doing,” which is so often inculcated in the New Testament.Luke 14:28. Πύργον) a strong-hold [‘tower’].—καθίσας, having sat down) so as to give himself time for making a summary calculation of his means and resources. So too in Luke 14:31 [ψηφίζει, calculates). This calculation of the expenses of building, or a consultation on a question of war, are things of no inconsiderable moment. But do thou see to it, whether thou hast ever bestowed more careful deliberation on the (infinitely more momentous) question of eternal salvation or else misery. Easy is the descent to hell!—V. g.]Verses 28-30. - For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it? Lest haply, after he hath laid the foundation, and is not able to finish it, all that behold it begin to mock him, saying, This man began to build, and was not able to finish. The imagery was not an unfamiliar one in those days. The magnificent Herodian house had a passion for erecting great buildings, sacred and profane, in the varied cities under their sway. They would doubtless be often imitated, and no doubt many an unfinished edifice testified to the foolish emulation of some would-be imitator of the extravagant royal house. Now, such incomplete piles of masonry and brickwork simply excite a contemptuous pity for the builder, who has so falsely calculated his resources when he drew the plan of the palace or villa he was never able to finish. So in the spiritual life, the would-be professor finds such living harder than he supposed, and so gives up trying after the nobler way of living altogether; and the world, who watched his feeble efforts and listened with an incredulous smile when he proclaimed his intentions, now ridicules him, and pours scorn upon what it considers an unattainable ideal. Such an attempt and failure injure the cause of God. A tower

The subject of the parable is the life of Christian discipleship, which is figured by a tower, a lofty structure, as something distinguished from the world and attracting attention.

Counteth (ψηφίζει)

Only here and Revelation 13:18. From ψῆφος, a pebble (see Revelation 2:17), used as a counter. Thus Herodotus says that the Egyptians, when they calculate (λογιζονται ψήφοις, reckon with pebbles), move their hand from right to left (ii., 36). So Aristophanes, "Reckon roughly, not with pebbles (ψήφοις), but on the hand" ("Wasps," 656). Similarly calculate, from Latin calculus, a pebble. Used also of voting. Thus Herodotus: "The Greeks met at the altar of Neptune, and took the ballots (τὰς ψήφοις) wherewith they were to give their votes." Plato: "And you, would you vote (ἂν ψῆφον θεῖο, cast your pebble) with me or against me ?" ("Protagoras," 330). See Acts 26:10.

Cost (τὴν δαπάνην)

Allied to δάπτω, to devour. Hence expense, as something which eats up resources.

Sufficient (εἰς ἀπαρτισμόν)

Lit., unto completion. The kindred verb ἀπαρτίζω, not used in New Testament, means to make even or square, and hence to complete.

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