Luke 10:42
Parallel Verses
New International Version
but few things are needed--or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her."

King James Bible
But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.

Darby Bible Translation
but there is need of one, and Mary has chosen the good part, the which shall not be taken from her.

World English Bible
but one thing is needed. Mary has chosen the good part, which will not be taken away from her."

Young's Literal Translation
but of one thing there is need, and Mary the good part did choose, that shall not be taken away from her.'

Luke 10:42 Parallel
Clarke's Commentary on the Bible

One thing is needful - This is the end of the sentence, according to Bengel. "Now Mary hath chosen, etc.," begins a new one. One single dish, the simplest and plainest possible, is such as best suits me and my disciples, whose meat and drink it is to do the will of our heavenly Father.

Mary hath chosen that good part - That is, of hearing my word, of which she shall not be deprived; it being at present of infinitely greater importance to attend to my teaching than to attend to any domestic concerns. While thou art busily employed in providing that portion of perishing food for perishing bodies, Mary has chosen that spiritual portion which endures for ever, and which shall not be taken away from her; therefore I cannot command her to leave her present employment, and go and help thee to bring forward a variety of matters, which are by no means necessary at this time. Our Lord both preached and practised the doctrine of self-denial; he and his disciples were contented with a little, and sumptuous entertainments are condemned by the spirit and design of his Gospel.

Multos morbos, multa fercula fecerunt.


"Many dishes, many diseases."

Bishop Pearce remarks that the word χρεια, needful, is used after the same manner for want of food in Mark 2:25, where of David it is said, χρειαν εσχε, he had need, when it means he was hungry. I believe the above to be the true meaning of these verses; but others have taken a somewhat different sense from them: especially when they suppose that by one thing needful our Lord means the salvation of the soul. To attend to this is undoubtedly the most necessary of all things, and should be the first, the grand concern of every human spirit; but in my opinion it is not the meaning of the words in the text. It is only prejudice from the common use of the words in this way that could make such an interpretation tolerable. Kypke in loc. has several methods of interpreting this passage. Many eminent commentators, both ancient and modern, consider the text in the same way I have done. But this is termed by some, "a frigid method of explaining the passage;" well, so let it be; but he that fears God will sacrifice every thing at the shrine of Truth. I believe this alone to be the true meaning o the place, and I dare not give it any other. Bengelius points the whole passage thus: Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things: but one thing is needful. Now, Mary hath chosen that good portion, which shall not be taken away from her.

That the salvation of the soul is the first and greatest of all human concerns, every man must acknowledge who feels that he has a soul; and in humility of mind to hear Jesus, is the only way of getting that acquaintance with the doctrine of salvation without which how can he be saved? While we fancy we are in no spiritual necessity, the things which concern salvation will not appear needful to us! A conviction that we are spiritually poor must precede our application for the true riches. The whole, says Christ, need not the physician, but those who are sick. Martha has been blamed, by incautious people, as possessing a carnal, worldly spirit; and as Mary Magdalene has been made the chief of all prostitutes, so has Martha of all the worldly-minded. Through her affectionate respect for our Lord and his disciples, and through that alone, she erred. There is not the slightest intimation that she was either worldly-minded or careless about her soul; nor was she at this time improperly employed, only so far as the abundance of her affection led her to make a greater provision than was necessary on the occasion. Nor are our Lord's words to be understood as a reproof; they are a kind and tender expostulation, tending to vindicate the conduct of Mary. The utmost that can be said on the subject is, Martha was well employed, but Mary, on this occasion, better.

If we attend to the punctuation of the original text, the subject will appear more plain. I shall transcribe the text from Bengel's own edition, Stutgardiae, 1734, 12 mo. Luke 10:41, Luke 10:42. Luke 10:41, αποκριθεις δε ειπεν αυτῃ ὁ Ιησους, Μαρθα, Μαρθα, μεριμνᾳς και τυρβαζῃ περι πολλα· ἑνος δε εϚι χρεια. Μαρια δε την αγαθην μεριδα εξελεξατο, ἡτις ουκ αφαιρεθησεται απ' αυτης. "Then Jesus answered her, Martha, Martha, thou art anxiously careful and disturbed about many things; but one thing is necessary. But Mary hath chosen that good portion which shall not be taken away from her." I have shown, in my notes, that Martha was making a greater provision for her guests than was needful; that it was in consequence of this that she required her sister's help; that Jesus tenderly reproved her for her unnecessary anxiety and superabundant provision, and asserted that but one thing, call it course or dish, was necessary on the occasion, yet she had provided many; and that this needless provision was the cause of the anxiety and extra labor. Then, taking occasion, from the circumstances of the case, to vindicate Mary's conduct, and to direct his loving reproof more pointedly at Martha's heart, he adds, Mary hath chosen a good portion; that is, she avails herself of the present opportunity to hear my teaching, and inform herself in those things which are essential to the salvation of the soul. I cannot, therefore, order her to leave my teaching, to serve in what I know to be an unnecessary service, however kindly designed: for it would be as unjust to deprive her of this bread of life, after which she so earnestly hungers, as to deprive thee, or thy guests, of that measure of common food necessary to sustain life. All earthly portions are perishing: "Meats for the belly, and the belly for meats, but God will destroy both it and then; but the work of the Lord abideth for ever;" her portion, therefore, shall not be taken away from her. This is my view of the whole subject; and all the terms in the original, not only countenance this meaning, but necessarily require it. The words, one thing is needful, on which we lay so much stress, are wanting in some of the most ancient MSS., and are omitted by some of the fathers, who quote all the rest of the passage: a plain proof that the meaning which we take out of them was not thought of in very ancient times; and in other MSS., versions, and fathers, there is an unusual variety of readings where even the thing, or something like it, is retained. Some have it thus; Martha, Martha, thou labourest much, and yet a little is sufficient, yea, one thing only. Others: And only one thing is required. Others: Thou art curious and embarrassed about many things, when that which is needful is very small. Others: But here there need only a few things. Others: But a few things, or one only, is necessary. Now these are the readings of almost all the ancient versions; and we plainly perceive, by them, that what we term the one thing needful, is not understood by one of them as referring to the salvation of the soul, but to the provision Then to be made. It would be easy to multiply authorities, but I spare both my own time and that of my reader. In short, I wonder how the present most exceptionable mode of interpretation ever obtained; as having no countenance in the text, ancient MSS. or versions, and as being false in itself; for even Christ himself could not say, that sitting at his feet, and hearing his word, was the One thing Needful. Repentance, faith, prayer, obedience, and a thousand other things are necessary to our salvation, besides merely hearing the doctrines of Christ, even with the humblest heart.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge


Luke 18:22 Now when Jesus heard these things, he said to him, Yet lack you one thing: sell all that you have, and distribute to the poor...

Psalm 27:4 One thing have I desired of the LORD, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life...

Psalm 73:25 Whom have I in heaven but you? and there is none on earth that I desire beside you.

Ecclesiastes 12:13 Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.

Mark 8:36 For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?

John 17:3 And this is life eternal, that they might know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.

1 Corinthians 13:3 And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profits me nothing.

Galatians 5:6 For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision avails any thing, nor uncircumcision; but faith which works by love.

Colossians 2:10 And you are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power:


1 John 5:11,12 And this is the record, that God has given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son...


Deuteronomy 30:19 I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing...

Joshua 24:15,22 And if it seem evil to you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom you will serve...

Psalm 17:15 As for me, I will behold your face in righteousness: I shall be satisfied, when I awake, with your likeness.

Psalm 119:30,111,173 I have chosen the way of truth: your judgments have I laid before me...


Psalm 16:5,6 The LORD is the portion of my inheritance and of my cup: you maintain my lot...

Psalm 142:5 I cried to you, O LORD: I said, You are my refuge and my portion in the land of the living.


Luke 8:18 Take heed therefore how you hear: for whoever has, to him shall be given; and whoever has not...

Luke 12:20,33 But God said to him, You fool, this night your soul shall be required of you: then whose shall those things be...

Luke 16:2,25 And he called him, and said to him, How is it that I hear this of you? give an account of your stewardship...

John 4:14 But whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst...

John 5:24 Truly, truly, I say to you, He that hears my word, and believes on him that sent me, has everlasting life...

John 10:27,28 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me...

Romans 8:35-39 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril...

Colossians 3:3,4 For you are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God...

1 Peter 1:4,5 To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fades not away, reserved in heaven for you...

Definiteness of Purpose in Christian Work
TEXT: "Salute no man by the way."--Luke 10:4. Luke is the only one of the Evangelists giving us the account of the sending out of the seventy. The others tell us that Christ called certain men unto him and commissioned them to tell his story; but in this instance after Jesus had said, "Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head," he calls the seventy and sends them forth prepared to endure any sacrifice or suffer any affliction if only
J. Wilbur Chapman—And Judas Iscariot

January 9 Evening
One thing is needful.--LUKE 10:42. There be many that say, Who will shew us any good? Lord, lift thou up the light of thy countenance upon us. Thou hast put gladness in my heart, more than in the time that their corn and their wine increased. As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God. My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God.--O God, thou art my God; early will I seek thee: my soul thirsteth for thee, my flesh longeth for thee in a dry and thirsty land,
Anonymous—Daily Light on the Daily Path

On the Words of the Gospel, Luke x. 2, "The Harvest Truly is Plenteous," Etc.
1. By the lesson of the Gospel which has just been read, we are reminded to search what that harvest is of which the Lord says, "The harvest truly is great, but the labourers are few. Pray ye the Lord of the harvest, that He would send forth labourers into His harvest." [3262] Then to His twelve disciples, whom He also named Apostles, He added other seventy-two, and sent them all, as appears from His words, to the harvest then ready. What then was that harvest? For that harvest was not among these
Saint Augustine—sermons on selected lessons of the new testament

On the Words of the Gospel, Luke x. 38, "And a Certain Woman Named Martha Received Him into Her House," Etc.
1. The words of our Lord Jesus Christ which have just been read out of the Gospel, give us to understand, that there is some one thing for which we must be making, when we toil amid the manifold engagements of this life. Now we make for this as being yet in pilgrimage, and not in our abiding place; as yet in the way, not yet in our country; as yet in longing, not yet in enjoyment. Yet let us make for it, and that without sloth and without intermission, that we may some time be able to reach it. 2.
Saint Augustine—sermons on selected lessons of the new testament

Cross References
Psalm 27:4
One thing I ask from the LORD, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the LORD and to seek him in his temple.

Psalm 119:173
May your hand be ready to help me, for I have chosen your precepts.

Luke 10:39
She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord's feet listening to what he said.

Luke 11:1
One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he finished, one of his disciples said to him, "Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples."

John 6:27
Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For on him God the Father has placed his seal of approval."

John 11:1
Now a man named Lazarus was sick. He was from Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha.

John 11:19
and many Jews had come to Martha and Mary to comfort them in the loss of their brother.

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