Luke 19:12
He said therefore, A certain nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom, and to return.
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(12) A certain nobleman went into a far country.—See Notes on Matthew 25:14-30, with which the parable that follows has many obvious points of resemblance. There are, however, many noticeable differences in detail. At the outset we have the new feature of the nobleman going “into a far country to receive a kingdom.” This had an obvious starting-point in the recent history of Judæa. Both the Tetrarch Antipas and Archelaus, on the death of their father, had gone to Rome to submit their claims to the kingdom to the decision of Augustus (Jos. Ant. xvii. 9, §§ 3, 4). The Greek for “nobleman” is not the same as in John 4:46, where the word means a “king’s officer.” Here it is simply a “man of noble family.” In the interpretation of the parable we may see a prophetic announcement by our Lord of His own departure to the “far country,” that lay behind the veil, to receive His Kingdom, and of His subsequent return.

Luke 19:12. A certain nobleman — Or, a certain king’s son; went into a far country to receive a kingdom, &c. — In order to be confirmed in his father’s kingdom, he went into a distant country to do homage unto a more powerful potentate, of whom he held it as a vassal. There is supposed to be an allusion here to a custom which prevailed greatly in our Lord’s time among the princes of the East; who, before they ventured to ascend the throne, went to Rome, and solicited the emperor’s permission, who disposed of all the tributary kingdoms as he saw fit. Dr. Campbell, instead of, to receive a kingdom, reads, to procure for himself royalty, observing, “To me it is manifest, that βασιλεια, here, signifies royalty, that is, royal power and dignity. For that it was not a different kingdom from that wherein he lived, as the common version implies, is evident from Luke 19:14. It is equally so, that there is in this circumstance an allusion to what was well known to Christ’s hearers, the way in which Archelaus, and even Herod himself, had obtained their rank and authority in Judea, by favour of the Romans. When this reference to the history of the times is kept in view, and βασιλεια understood to denote royal power and dignity, there is not the shadow of a difficulty in the story. In any other explanation, the expounder, in order to remove inconsistencies, is obliged to suppose so many circumstances not related, or even hinted at by the evangelist, that the latter is, to say the least, made to appear a very inaccurate narrator.” Whichever interpretation be adopted, the meaning of this part of the parable evidently is, that before Jesus entered upon his mediatorial kingdom, and sat down at the right hand of God in majesty and glory, it was necessary he should die and ascend to heaven; see Php 2:8-9; Hebrews 1:3; Hebrews 1:8-9; from whence he was afterward to return, as it were, that is, to come forth in his justice and power, to punish, first, the unbelieving and obstinate Jews, and afterward, in future ages, the opposers of his gospel, the persecutors of his people, all antichristian powers, and, at the day of final judgment, all the impenitent and unbelieving.19:11-27 This parable is like that of the talents, Mt 25. Those that are called to Christ, he furnishes with gifts needful for their business; and from those to whom he gives power, he expects service. The manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal, 1Co 12:7. And as every one has received the gift, so let him minister the same, 1Pe 4:10. The account required, resembles that in the parable of the talents; and the punishment of the avowed enemies of Christ, as well as of false professors, is shown. The principal difference is, that the pound given to each seems to point out the gift of the gospel, which is the same to all who hear it; but the talents, distributed more or less, seem to mean that God gives different capacities and advantages to men, by which this one gift of the gospel may be differently improved.A certain nobleman - A prince; a man descended from kings, and having a title, therefore, to succeed in the kingdom.

Went into a far country ... - This expression is derived from the state of things in Judea in the time of the Saviour. Judea was subject to the Romans, having been conquered by Pompey about sixty years before Christ. It was, however, governed by "Jews," who held the government "under" the Romans. It was necessary that the prince or king should receive a recognition of his right to the kingdom by the Roman emperor and, in order to this, that he should go to Rome; or, as it is said here, that he might receive to himself a kingdom. This actually occurred several times. Archelaus, a son of Herod the Great, about the time of the birth of Jesus, went to Rome to obtain a confirmation of the title which his father had left him, and succeeded in doing it. Herod the Great, his father, had done the same thing before to secure the aid and countenance of Antony. Agrippa the younger, grandson of Herod the Great, went to Rome also to obtain the favor of Tiberius, and to be confirmed in his government. Such instances, having frequently occurred, would make this parable perfectly intelligible to those to whom it was addressed. By the nobleman, here, is undoubtedly represented the Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ; by his going into a far country is denoted his going to heaven, to the right hand of his Father, "before" he should "fully" set up his kingdom and establish his reign among men.

12. a far country—said to put down the notion that He was just on His way to set up His kingdom, and to inaugurate it by His personal presence.

to receive … a kingdom—be invested with royalty; as when Herod went to Rome and was there made king; a striking expression of what our Lord went away for and received, "sitting down at the right hand of the Majesty on high."

to return—at His second coming.

Ver. 12-27. The parable of the talents, which we had, Matthew 25:14-30, is of great cognation to this parable, and the doctrine of it in many things is the very same; but the circumstances of that and this relation are so differing, as I cannot think that both Matthew and Luke relate to the same time. I know nothing that hinders, but that our Saviour might twice repeat a parable which in substance is the same. Not to insist upon the examination of the words used in the Greek, (which is a work fit only for critical writers), for the right understanding of this parable we have three things to do:

1. To inquire what special instruction our Saviour did in this parable intend to those who heard him at that time.

2. Who the persons are, represented in it under the notion of a nobleman and servants; and what the things are, represented under the notion of going into a far country, to receive a kingdom, distributing his goods, &c.

3. What general instructions from it may be collected, which inform us as well as those to whom our Lord at that time spake. The special instructions which our Lord in this parable seemeth by it to have given his disciples were these:

a) That they were mistaken in their notions or apprehensions of the sudden coming of Christ’s kingdom in power and glory. He had first a great journey to go, and they had a great deal of work to do. Instead of reigning amongst them, and exalting them, he was going away from them for a long time.

b) That there would be such a manifestation of his kingdom in glory and power, when he should exalt and liberally reward his friends, and severely punish all such as should be his enemies. In order to these instructions, he taketh up this parable, or speaketh to them in the use of this similitude.

c) As to the aptness of it: The nobleman here mentioned was Christ, who shall hereafter be a King in the exercise of power and justice, and distribute eternal rewards and punishments; but in his state of humiliation in which he was when he thus spake to them, was but like a nobleman, a Son of man, though the chiefest of ten thousand.

His going

into afar country, signifieth his going from earth to heaven.

To receive a kingdom; a kingdom of glory, honour, and power at the right hand of the Father. His returning signifies his coming again to judge the world at the last day. His calling his servants, and delivering to them ten pounds, signifieth his giving gifts unto men, when he should ascend up on high; gifts of several natures, but all to be occupied, used in a spiritual trade, for the advantage of our common Lord. Not that he giveth to all alike, (which it is manifest he doth not), for every passage in a parable is not answered in the thing which it is brought to represent or express. The citizens hating him, and sending a message after him, &c., signifies that the generality of the world are haters of Christ, and demonstrate their hatred by their refusal of his spiritual government and jurisdiction. His returning, and calling his servants to an account, signifies, that when Christ at the last day shall come to judge the world, he will have an account of every individual person, how they have used the gifts with which he hath intrusted them, whether they be longer time of life, more health than others, riches, honours, or more spiritual gifts, such as knowledge, utterance, wit, &c., or any trusty places or offices they have been in. The different account the servants brought in, signifies that men do not equally use the gifts with which the Lord blesseth them; some use them well, some ill; some bring honour and glory to God by the use of them, and that some in one degree, and some in another. Some bring him no honour or glory at all. The master’s answer to them upon their accounts, lets us know that every man shall be rewarded according to his work. There will be degrees in glory, (though we cannot well open them), as well as of punishments. The unprofitable servant’s excuse for himself, signifies the great itch of proud human nature to excuse itself, and lay all the blame of its miscarriages on God, either his severity, or his not giving them enough, &c. The king’s answer, Luke 19:22,23, lets us know, that sinners will be found to be condemned out of their own mouths: at the last day, God will be found a righteous God, and man will be found to be the liar. What the Lord further adds, Luke 19:24,26, lets us know God’s liberality in rewarding his saints at last. What he saith Luke 19:27, concerning his enemies, assures us, that although God spareth men and women a long time, so long as while his Son is in the far country, while the heavens must contain him; yet in the day of judgment a most certain final ruin will be their portion. Hence we may easily gather what instructions are offered us in this parable.

1. That the state of Christ, when he shall come to judge the world, will be a far more glorious state than it was while he was here upon the earth. He was here in the appearance of a nobleman, but he shall then appear as a king.

2. That all the good things which we have in this life are our Lord’s goods, put in trust with us to be used for his honour and glory.

3. That it must be expected that in the world there should be a great many rebels against Christ and his kingdom, a great many that shall say, We will not have this man to rule over us.

4. That some make greater improvements than others of what God intrusts them with for his honour and glory, and some make no improvement at all of them.

5. That Christ, when he cometh to judge the world, will have a strict account how men have used his goods, their time of life, or health, their capacities, honours, riches, trusts, parts, &c.

6. That those shall have the highest reward in glory who have made the highest improvements; but those who have made improvements in any proportion shall have their reward.

7. That proud and wretched sinners will think in the day of judgment to wipe their own mouths, and lay all the blame of their miscarriages on God.

8. That this is their folly, God will condemn them from their own vain pleas.

9. That in the day of judgment unprofitable creatures will, besides the loss of those rewards which they might have received from God, have all their little satisfactions taken from them, in the enjoyments of which they dishonoured God.

10. That though proud sinners here oppose the law of God revealed to them, and will not suffer Christ to reign over them; yet his power they shall not be able to resist, they shall at the last day be slain before Christ’s face, and become his footstool. He shall break them with a rod of iron, and dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel, Psalm 2:9 110:1, and who shall then deliver them out of his hand? He said therefore,.... The following parable, with the above said design and view:

a certain nobleman; the son of a great family, as the Syriac version renders it; of noble descent, of an illustrious extract; by whom is meant Jesus Christ, who was a "man", as he agreed to be, and was prophesied of as such; and who frequently appeared in an human form before his incarnation; and was now actually become man, though not a mere man: and he may truly be said to be "noble"; not only as the word may signify, as it sometimes does, a person of great authority and power, and of great generosity and goodness, but one of a noble birth; for Christ, as man, descended from the kings of the house of Judah, and was the son of David; and from the Jewish fathers and ancestors of the greatest renown, as Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; and he may be so called as man, because of the union of the human nature to the Son of God; or because of his divine relation, as the Son of God: this illustrious person,

went into a far country; by which, heaven is meant; so called, not only because of its distance from the earth, but in comparison of the earth, as a place of pilgrimage; and because that it is out of sight, and the views which are had of it, are very distant ones: hither Christ went at his ascension; he came from heaven at his incarnation, by the assumption of human nature; he stayed here awhile, till he had done his work he came about, and then went up to heaven; where he is received, and from whence he is expected again: the end of his going there is,

to receive for himself a kingdom: by which is intended, not the kingdom of nature and providence; for that he had, and did not receive from another; it was his of right, and by nature; nor the kingdom of grace, set up in the hearts of his people, and which was already within many of them; nor the kingdom of glory, prepared for them from the foundation of the world; though into this he entered at his ascension, and took possession of it for himself and them: but a more visible display of his mediatorial kingdom, he received from his Father; and which, upon his ascension, became more manifest, by the dispossessing of Satan, and casting him out of the Gentile world; by converting large numbers of his people, both among Jews and Gentiles; and by ruling in their hearts, subduing their enemies, and protecting and defending them; and by thus reigning till he has gathered them all in, either in Judea, or in the whole world, and then he will come again:

and return; either to destroy the Jews; the doing of which fully proved he had received his kingdom, was vested with power and authority, and was made, or declared Lord and Christ; or at the end of the world, to judge both quick and dead: and this is said, to show that his personal glorious kingdom on earth, or his kingdom in its greatest glory here, will not be till he comes a second time; and to engage diligence in his servants in the mean while; and to keep up the faith, hope, and expectation of his coming again.

He said therefore, A certain nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom, and to return.
Luke 19:12-13. Here is represented a man of noble descent, a nobleman, who journeys into the far country to the governor, who possesses the supremacy, in order to receive, as a vassal, from him regal power over those who have been his fellow-citizens up to that time. This representation is borrowed from the circumstances of governors in Palestine at that time, the kings of which, the Herods, received from Rome their βασιλεία; especially the instance of Archelaus, in respect of the fruitless protest raised against him by the Jews (Joseph. Antt. xvii. 11. 1), is sufficiently similar, reasonably to derive the parabolic narrative, so far as that part of it is concerned, from the remembrance of that transaction.[232]

εἰς χώραν μακράν] a contrast with the ΠΑΡΑΧΡῆΜΑ, Luke 19:11, for Jesus must first go into heaven to the Father, but not consequently removing the Parousia beyond the duration of the lifetime of the generation (Baur, Zeller), since the reckoning at the return has to do with the same servants.

ἑαυτῷ] he wished to receive the kingly dignity for himself, although till then there had been another king.

Luke 19:13. ἑαυτοῦ] ten slaves of his own, of whom therefore he might rightly expect the care of his interest. Comp. on Matthew 25:14.

δέκα μνᾶς] to wit, to each one.[233] The Attic mina = 100 drachmas, i.e. according to Wurm, de ponderum etc. rationibus, p. 266, = from 22 thal. 16 grosch. to 24 thal 3 grosch. Vienna standard money [scil. = from £3, 7s. 8d. to £3, 12s. 4d.]. The small sum astonishes us (even if we should understand thereby Hebrew minae; one מָנֶה = 100 shekels, 1 Kings 10:17; 2 Chronicles 9:16). Compare, on the other hand, the talents, Matthew 25. But in Matt. l.c. the lord transfers to his servants his whole property; here, he has only devoted a definite sum of money to the purpose of putting ten servants to the proof therewith, and the smallness of this amount corresponds to what is so carefully emphasized in our parable, viz. the relation of faithfulness in the least to its great recompense, Luke 19:17, which relation is less regarded in the parable in Matthew; hence in his Gospel (Matthew 25:21; Matthew 25:23) it is only said ἐπὶ ὀλίγα (not as in Luke 19:17, ἐν ἐλαχίστῳ); and the recompense of the individuals is stated indefinitely and in similar terms. The device that the lord took most of his money with him on the journey (Kuinoel) explains nothing; but the assumption of a mistake in the translation (Michaelis), whereby out of minae is made portions (מַנוֹת), is sheer invention.

πραγματ.] follow commercial pursuits, Plut. Sull. vii. 17, Cat. min. 54; Lucian, Philops. 36.

ἐν ᾧ ἔρχομαι] during which (to wit, during this your ΠΡΑΓΜΑΤΕΎΕΣΘΑΙ) I come, i.e. in the midst of which I return. As to ἜΡΧ. in the sense of coming again, which the context affords, see on John 4:16.

[232] Possibly even the locality suggested to Jesus the reference to Archelaus. For in Jericho stood the royal palace which Archelaus had built with great magnificence, Joseph. Antt. xvii. 13. 1.

[233] An essential variation from Matthew 25. The equality of the pecuniary sum which is given to all shows that it was not the (very varied) charismatic endowment for office, but the office itself, that was meant to be typified, whose equal claims and duties, however, were observed by the individuals very differently and with very unequal result.Luke 19:12-27. The parable.—εὐγενὴς, wellborn, noble; of such rank and social position that he might legitimately aspire to a kingdom. The Herod family might quite well be in view. Herod the Great and his son Archelaus had actually gone from Jericho on this errand, and Archelaus had had the experience described in Luke 19:14. Since the time of Clericus and Wolf, who first suggested it, the idea that the Herod family was in Christ’s mind has been very generally accepted. Schanz thinks Jesus would not have selected so bad a man as Archelaus to represent Him. Yet He selected a selfish neighbour and an unjust judge to represent God as He appears, and an unjust steward to teach prudence!—εἰς χώραν μακράν: implying lapse of time; Rome, in the case of Archelaus.—ὑποστρέψαι: the desired kingdom is in the land of his birth; Palestine in case of Archelaus.12. A certain nobleman, &c.] This would seem a most unintelligible incident if we did not know what suggested it. The Evangelists throw no gleam of light upon it, and the fact that we can from contemporary secular history not only explain it, but even trace (without the slightest aid from any of the Gospels) the exact circumstances which suggested it at this very place and time, is one of the many invaluable independent circumstances which enable us to prove from history the absolute truthfulness of these records. Two ‘nobles’—Herod the Great and his son Archelaus—had actually gone from Jericho to a far country, even to Rome, for the express purpose of ‘receiving a kingdom’ from the all-powerful Caesar (Jos. Antt. xiv. 14, xvii. 9, §4: comp. 1Ma 8:13), and the same thing was subsequently done by Antipas (id. Antt. xviii. 5, § 1). It is deeply interesting to see how Jesus thus utilises any incident—social or political—as a vehicle for spiritual instruction. Probably if we knew the events of His day more minutely, we should see the origin of many others of the parables. The facts here alluded to would naturally be brought both to His mind, and to those of the Galilaeans, by the sight of the magnificent palace at Jericho which Archelaus had rebuilt. (Jos. Antt. xvii. 13, § 1.) How little the incidental machinery of parables should be theologically pressed, we may see from the fact that here our Lord takes the movements and the actions of a cruel and bad prince like Archelaus, to shadow forth certain truths of His own ministry (compare the Parables of the Unjust Steward and the Unjust Judge).Luke 19:12. Εὐγενὴς, noble) Truly the nobility of Jesus was the highest nobility of all. Whereas they at the time did not suppose that He had as much ‘authority’ as He gave even to His servants. See Luke 19:17. [We may conclude, from the close connection of the discourse in Luke with what immediately precedes, that this parable is distinct from that which is recorded in Matthew 24:14; Mark 13:34.—Harm., p. 437.]—μακρὰν, a far off) viz. in heaven.—λαβεῖν, that He might take [receive]) as if an Italian nobleman should seek, in the Emperor’s court in Germany, the sovereignty over his fellow-countrymen.—ἑαυτῷ) for (to) Himself, by His own power.—βασιλείαν, a kingdom) To this refer the βασιλεῦσαι, reign, in Luke 19:14 : see also Luke 19:15; Luke 19:27.—ὑποστρέψαι, that he might return) viz. from heaven, to His servants. See Luke 19:15.Verse 12. - He said therefore, A certain noblemen went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom, and to return. There was a singular fitness in the Master's choice of a framework for his parable, which at first sight would seem strange and unreal. Two nobles, Herod and Archelaus, in that age had literally gone from Jericho, where the Speaker of the parable-story then was, to a far country across the sea - to Rome, to receive a kingdom from Caesar (Josephus, 'Ant.,' 14:14; 17:9). And one of these two nobles, Archelaus, had rebuilt the stately royal palace of Jericho, under the very shadow of which the Speaker and the crowds were perhaps standing.
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