Luke 11
Barnes' Notes
And it came to pass, that, as he was praying in a certain place, when he ceased, one of his disciples said unto him, Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples.
As he was praying - Luke has taken notice of our Saviour's praying often. Thus, at his baptism Luke 3:21; in the wilderness Luke 5:16; before the appointment of the apostles, he continued all night in prayer Luke 6:12; he was alone praying Luke 9:18; his transfiguration also took place when he went up to pray Luke 9:28-29.

Teach us to pray - Probably they had been struck with the excellency and fervor of his prayers, and, recollecting that "John" had taught his disciples to pray, they asked him also to teach "them." We learn, therefore:

1. That the gifts and graces of others should lead us to desire the same.

2. That the true method of praying can be learned only by our being properly taught. Indeed, we cannot pray acceptably at all unless God shall teach us how to pray.

3. That it is proper for us to meditate beforehand what we are to ask of God, and to arrange our thoughts, that we may not come thoughtlessly into his presence.

And he said unto them, When ye pray, say, Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, as in heaven, so in earth.
See this passage explained in the notes at Matthew 6:9-13.

Give us day by day our daily bread.
And forgive us our sins; for we also forgive every one that is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil.
For we also forgive ... - This is somewhat different from the expression in Matthew, though the sense is the same. The idea is, that unless we forgive others, God will not forgive us; and unless we come to him "really" forgiving all others, we cannot expect pardon. It does not mean that by forgiving others we "deserve" forgiveness ourselves, or "merit it," but that this is a disposition or state of mind without which God cannot consistently pardon us.

Every one that is indebted to us - Every one that has "injured" us. This does not refer to pecuniary transactions, but to offences similar to those which "we" have committed against God, and for which we ask forgiveness. Besides the variations in the "expressions" in this prayer, Luke has omitted the doxology, or close, altogether; and this shows that Jesus did nor intend that we should always use just this "form," but that it was a general direction how to pray; or, rather, that we were to pray for these "things," though not always using the same words.

And he said unto them, Which of you shall have a friend, and shall go unto him at midnight, and say unto him, Friend, lend me three loaves;
And he said unto them ... - Jesus proceeds to show that, in order to obtain the blessing, it was necessary to "persevere" in asking for it. For this purpose he introduces the case of a friend's asking bread of another for one who had come to him unexpectedly. His design is solely to show the necessity of being "importunate" or persevering in prayer to God.

At midnight - A time when it would be most inconvenient for his friend to help him; an hour when he would naturally be in bed and his house shut.

Three loaves - There is nothing particularly denoted by the number "three" in this place. Jesus often threw in such particulars merely to fill up the story, or to preserve the consistency of it.

My children are with me in bed - This does not necessarily mean that they were in the "same bed" with him, but that they were "all" in bed, the house was still, the door was shut, and it was troublesome for him to rise at that time of night to accommodate him. It should be observed, however, that the customs of Orientals differ in this respect from our own. Among them it is not uncommon indeed it is the common practice for a whole family - parents, children, and servants - to sleep in the same room. See "The Land and the Book," vol. i. p. 180. This is "not" to be applied to God, as if it were troublesome to him to be sought unto, or as if "he" would ever reply to a sinner in that manner. All that is to be applied to God in this parable is simply that it is proper to "persevere" in prayer. As a "man" often gives because the request is "repeated," and as one is not discouraged because the favor that he asks of his neighbor is "delayed," so God often answers us after long and importunate requests.

For a friend of mine in his journey is come to me, and I have nothing to set before him?
And he from within shall answer and say, Trouble me not: the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot rise and give thee.
I say unto you, Though he will not rise and give him, because he is his friend, yet because of his importunity he will rise and give him as many as he needeth.
I tell you - The Latin Vulgate here adds, "if he shall continue knocking." Though this is not in the Greek, yet it is indispensable that it should be understood in order to the sense. Knocking "once" would not denote "importunity," but it was because he "continued" knocking.

His importunity - His troublesome perseverance; his continuing to disturb the man, and refusing to take any denial. The word "importunity" denotes perseverance in an object, without any regard to time, place, or circumstances - an improper perseverance. By this the man was influenced. Rather than be disturbed he would rise and give what was asked. This is to be applied to God in no other sense than that he often hears prayers and grants blessings even "long after" they appear to be unanswered or withheld. He does not promise to give blessings "at once." He promises only that he will do it, or "will answer" prayer. But he often causes his people long to wait. He tries their faith. He leaves them to persevere for months or years, until they "feel" entirely their dependence on him, until they see that they can obtain the blessing in no other way, and until they are "prepared" to receive it. Often they are not prepared to receive it when they ask it at first. They may be proud, or have no just sense of their dependence, or they would not value the blessing, or it may "at that time" not be best for them to obtain it. But let no one despair. If the thing is for "our" good, and if it is proper that it "should" be granted, God will give it. Let us first ask aright; let us see that our minds are in a proper state; let us feel our need of the blessing; let us inquire whether God has "promised such" a blessing, and "then" let us persevere until God gives it. Again: people, when they ask anything of God, often give over seeking. They go "once," and if it is not granted they are discouraged. It is not so when we ask anything of people. "Then" we persevere; we take no denial; we go again, and "press" the matter until we obtain it. So we should of God. We should go again and again, until the prayer is heard, and God grants what we ask of him.

And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.
See this explained in the notes at Matthew 7:7-11.

For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.
If a son shall ask bread of any of you that is a father, will he give him a stone? or if he ask a fish, will he for a fish give him a serpent?
Or if he shall ask an egg, will he offer him a scorpion?
"A scorpion" See the notes at Luke 10:19. Dr. Thomson (The Land and the Book, vol. i. p. 379) says: "There is no imaginable likeness between an egg and the ordinary black scorpion of this country, neither in color nor size, nor, when the tail is extended, in shape; but old writers speak of a "white" scorpion, and such a one, with the tail folded up, as in specimens of fossil trilobites, would not look unlike a small egg. Perhaps the contrast, however, refers only to the different properties of the egg and the scorpion, which is sufficiently emphatic."

Pliny ("N. H.," xi. 25) says that in Judea the scorpions are about the size of an egg, and not unlike one in shape.

If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?
And he was casting out a devil, and it was dumb. And it came to pass, when the devil was gone out, the dumb spake; and the people wondered.
See this passage explained in the notes at Matthew 12:22-30.

But some of them said, He casteth out devils through Beelzebub the chief of the devils.
And others, tempting him, sought of him a sign from heaven.
But he, knowing their thoughts, said unto them, Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and a house divided against a house falleth.
If Satan also be divided against himself, how shall his kingdom stand? because ye say that I cast out devils through Beelzebub.
And if I by Beelzebub cast out devils, by whom do your sons cast them out? therefore shall they be your judges.
But if I with the finger of God cast out devils, no doubt the kingdom of God is come upon you.
When a strong man armed keepeth his palace, his goods are in peace:
But when a stronger than he shall come upon him, and overcome him, he taketh from him all his armour wherein he trusted, and divideth his spoils.
He that is not with me is against me: and he that gathereth not with me scattereth.
When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man, he walketh through dry places, seeking rest; and finding none, he saith, I will return unto my house whence I came out.
See the notes at Matthew 12:43-45.

And when he cometh, he findeth it swept and garnished.
Then goeth he, and taketh to him seven other spirits more wicked than himself; and they enter in, and dwell there: and the last state of that man is worse than the first.
And it came to pass, as he spake these things, a certain woman of the company lifted up her voice, and said unto him, Blessed is the womb that bare thee, and the paps which thou hast sucked.
A certain woman - One of the crowd.

Blessed is the womb ... - She thought that the "mother" of such a person must be especially happy in having such a son.

Yea, rather blessed ... - Jesus admits that she was happy - that it was an honor to be his mother, but he says that the chief happiness, the highest honor, was to obey the word of God. Compared with this, all earthly distinctions and honors are as nothing. Man's greatest dignity is in keeping the holy commandments of God, and in being prepared for heaven. See the notes at Luke 10:20.

But he said, Yea rather, blessed are they that hear the word of God, and keep it.
And when the people were gathered thick together, he began to say, This is an evil generation: they seek a sign; and there shall no sign be given it, but the sign of Jonas the prophet.
See the notes at Matthew 12:38-42.

For as Jonas was a sign unto the Ninevites, so shall also the Son of man be to this generation.
The queen of the south shall rise up in the judgment with the men of this generation, and condemn them: for she came from the utmost parts of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and, behold, a greater than Solomon is here.
The men of Nineve shall rise up in the judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: for they repented at the preaching of Jonas; and, behold, a greater than Jonas is here.
No man, when he hath lighted a candle, putteth it in a secret place, neither under a bushel, but on a candlestick, that they which come in may see the light.
These verses are found in Matthew, but in a different connection. See the notes at Matthew 5:15; Matthew 6:22-23.

The light of the body is the eye: therefore when thine eye is single, thy whole body also is full of light; but when thine eye is evil, thy body also is full of darkness.
Take heed therefore that the light which is in thee be not darkness.
If thy whole body therefore be full of light, having no part dark, the whole shall be full of light, as when the bright shining of a candle doth give thee light.
And as he spake, a certain Pharisee besought him to dine with him: and he went in, and sat down to meat.
And as he spake - While he was addressing the people, and particularly while he was reproving that generation and declaring its crimes.

A certain Pharisee - The Pharisees had been particularly referred to in the discourse of the Saviour recorded in the previous verses. This one, perhaps, having felt particularly the force of the remarks of Jesus, and being desirous of being alone with him, invited him to go home with him. There is little doubt that this was for the purpose of drawing him away from the people; that he did it with a malignant intention, perhaps with a design to confute Jesus in private, or to reprove him for thus condemning the whole nation as he did. He might have seen that those who attacked Jesus "publicly" were commonly unsuccessful, and he desired. probably, to encounter him more privately.

Besought him - Asked him.

To dine with him - The Jews, as well as the Greeks and Romans, had but two principal meals. The first was a slight repast, and was taken about ten or eleven o'clock of our time, and consisted chiefly of fruit, milk, cheese, etc. The second meal was partaken of about three o'clock P. M., and was their principal meal. The "first" is the one here intended.

He went in - Though he knew the evil design of the Pharisee, yet he did not decline the invitation. He knew that it might afford him an opportunity to do good. These two things are to be observed in regard to our Saviour's conduct in such matters:

1. That he did not decline an invitation to dine with a man simply because he was a Pharisee, or because he was a wicked man. Hence, he was charged with being gluttonous, and a friend of publicans and sinners, Matthew 11:19.

2. He seized upon all occasions to do good. He never shrank from declaring the truth, and making such occasions the means of spreading the gospel. If Christians and Christian ministers would follow the example of the Saviour always, they would avoid all scandal, and might do even in such places a vast amount of good.

Sat down - Reclined at the table. See the notes at Matthew 23:6.

And when the Pharisee saw it, he marvelled that he had not first washed before dinner.
Saw it - Saw that he sat immediately down without washing.

Marvelled - Wondered. Was amazed. It was so unusual, and in his view so improper.

Had not first washed - He wondered particularly, as he had been among a mixed multitude, and they esteemed the "touch" of such persons polluting. They never ate, therefore, without such washing. The origin of the custom of washing with so much formality "before" they partook of their meals was that they did not use, as we do, knives and forks, but used their hands only. Hence, as their hands would be often in a dish on the table, it was esteemed proper that they should be washed clean before eating. Nor was their impropriety in the thing itself, but the Pharisees made it a matter of ceremony; they placed no small part of their religion in such ceremonies; and it was right, therefore, that our Lord should take occasion to reprove them for it. Compare Mark 7:4.

And the Lord said unto him, Now do ye Pharisees make clean the outside of the cup and the platter; but your inward part is full of ravening and wickedness.
See Matthew 23:25. "Ravening." Robbery, plunder. Here the sense is that the cup and platter were filled with what had been unjustly taken from others. That is, they lived by their wickedness; their food was procured by dishonesty and extortion. This was a most terrible charge; and as it was applied, among others, to the man who had invited the Saviour to dine with him, it shows that nothing would prevent his dealing faithfully with the souls of people. Even in the Pharisee's own house, and when expressly invited to partake of his hospitality, he loved his soul so much that he faithfully warned him of his crimes.

Ye fools, did not he that made that which is without make that which is within also?
Ye fools - How unwise and wicked is your conduct! The word denotes not only "want of wisdom," but also wickedness. Compare Psalm 14:1; Proverbs 13:19; Proverbs 14:9. Your conduct is not merely "foolish," but it is a cloak for sin - designed to countenance wickedness.

Did not he ... - Did not God, who made the "body," make also the "soul?" You Pharisees take great pains to cleanse the "body," under a pretence of pleasing "God." Did "he"" not also make the "mind?" and is it not of as much importance that "that" should be pure, as that the body should?

But rather give alms of such things as ye have; and, behold, all things are clean unto you.
Alms - Charity. Benefactions to the poor.

Such things as ye have - Your property; though it has been gained unjustly: though you have lived by rapine, and have amassed wealth in an improper manner, yet, since "you have it," it is your duty to make the best of it and do good. By giving to the poor, you may show your repentance for your crimes in amassing money in this manner. You may show that you disapprove of your former course of life, and are disposed henceforward to live honestly. If this be the meaning of this passage, then it shows what is the duty of those who have by unjust gains become wealthy, and who are "then" converted to God. It may not be possible for them in every case to make exact restitution to those whom they have injured; thousands of instances of wrong they may have forgotten; many persons whom they have injured may have died; but still they may show, by giving to others, that they do not think their gains acquired honestly, and that they truly repent. They may devote their property to God; distribute it to the poor; or give it to send the gospel to the heathen world. Thus may they show that they disapprove of their former conduct; and thus may be seen one great principle of God's government - "that good finally comes out of evil."

And behold ... - Doing this will show that you are a true penitent, and the remainder of your property you will enjoy with a feeling that you have done your duty, and no longer be smitten with the consciousness of hoarding unjust gains. The object of the Saviour here seems to have been to bring the Pharisee to repentance. Repentance consists in sorrow for sin, and in forsaking it. This he endeavored to produce by showing him:

1. The "evil" and hypocrisy of his conduct; and,

2. By "exhorting" him to ""forsake" his sins, and to "show" this by doing good.

Thus doing, he would evince that the "mind" was clean as well the "body;" the "inside" as well as the "outside."

But woe unto you, Pharisees! for ye tithe mint and rue and all manner of herbs, and pass over judgment and the love of God: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.
See Matthew 23:23.

Rue - This is a small garden plant, and is used as a medicine. It has a rosy flower, a bitter, penetrating taste, and a strong smell.

Woe unto you, Pharisees! for ye love the uppermost seats in the synagogues, and greetings in the markets.
See Matthew 23:6, Matthew 23:27.

Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are as graves which appear not, and the men that walk over them are not aware of them.
Then answered one of the lawyers, and said unto him, Master, thus saying thou reproachest us also.
Lawyers - Men learned in the law; but it is not known in what way the lawyers differed from the "scribes," or whether they were Pharisees or Sadducees.

Thus saying, thou ... - He felt that the remarks of Jesus about loving the chief seats, etc., applied to them as well as to the Pharisees. His conscience told him that if "they" were to blame, "he" was also, and he therefore applied the discourse to himself.

Reproachest - Accusest. Dost calumniate or blame us, for we do the same things. Sinners often consider "faithfulness" as "reproach" - they know not how to separate them. Jesus did "not" reproach or abuse them. He dealt faithfully with them; reproved them; told them the unvarnished truth. Such faithfulness is rare; but when it "is" used, we must expect that people will flinch, perhaps be enraged. Though their consciences tell them they are "guilty," still they will consider it as abuse.

And he said, Woe unto you also, ye lawyers! for ye lade men with burdens grievous to be borne, and ye yourselves touch not the burdens with one of your fingers.
See the notes at Matthew 23:4.

Woe unto you! for ye build the sepulchres of the prophets, and your fathers killed them.
See the notes at Matthew 23:29-36.

Truly ye bear witness that ye allow the deeds of your fathers: for they indeed killed them, and ye build their sepulchres.
Therefore also said the wisdom of God, I will send them prophets and apostles, and some of them they shall slay and persecute:
The wisdom of God - By the "wisdom of God," here, is undoubtedly meant the Saviour himself. What he immediately says is not written in the Old Testament. Jesus is called "the word of God" John 1:1, because he is the medium by which God "speaks" or makes his will known. He is called "the wisdom of God," because by him God makes his wisdom known in creation (Colossians 1:13-18 and in redemption 1 Corinthians 1:30. Many have also thought that the Messiah was referred to in the Proverbs 8:1 of Proverbs, under the name of Wisdom.

I will send ... - See Luke 10:3; Matthew 10:16.

Shall slay ... - Compare John 16:2; Acts 7:52, Acts 7:59; James 5:10; Acts 12:2; Acts 22:19; 2 Corinthians 11:24-25; 2 Chronicles 36:15-16.

That the blood of all the prophets, which was shed from the foundation of the world, may be required of this generation;
From the blood of Abel unto the blood of Zacharias, which perished between the altar and the temple: verily I say unto you, It shall be required of this generation.
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.
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.

And as he said these things unto them, the scribes and the Pharisees began to urge him vehemently, and to provoke him to speak of many things:
To urge him vehemently - To press upon him "violently." They were enraged against him. They therefore pressed upon him; asked him many questions; sought to entrap him, that they might accuse him.

Provoke him ... - This means that they put many questions to him about various matters, without giving him proper time to answer. They proposed questions as fast as possible, and about as many things as possible, that they might get him, in the hurry, to say something that would be wrong, that they might thus accuse him. This was a remarkable instance of their cunning, malignity, and unfairness.

Laying wait for him, and seeking to catch something out of his mouth, that they might accuse him.
Laying wait for him - Or, rather, laying "snares" for him It means that they endeavored to entangle him in his talk; that they did as men do who catch birds - who lay snares, and deceive them, and take them unawares.

That they might accuse him - Before the Sanhedrin, or great council of the nation, and thus secure his being put to death.

From this we may learn:

1. That faithful reproofs must be expected to excite opposition and hatred. Though the "conscience" may be roused, and may testify against the man that is reproved, yet that does not prevent his hating the reproof and the reprover.

2. We see here the manner in which wicked people endeavor to escape the reproofs of conscience. Instead of repenting, they seek vengeance, and resolve to put the reprover to shame or to death.

3. We see the exceeding malignity which people have against the Lord Jesus. Well was it said that he was set for the fall of many in Israel, that thereby the thoughts of many hearts might be revealed! Luke 2:34-35. Men, now, are not by nature less opposed to Jesus than they were then.

4. We see the wisdom, purity, and firmness of the Saviour. To their souls he had been faithful. He had boldly reproved them for their sins. They sought his life. Multitudes of the artful and learned gathered around him, to endeavor to draw out something of which they might accuse him, yet in vain. Not a word fell from his lips of which they could accuse him. Everything that he said was calm, mild, peaceful, wise, and lovely. Even his cunning and bitter adversaries were always confounded, and retired in shame and confusion. Here, surely, must have been something more than man. None but "God manifest in the flesh" could have known all their designs, seen all their wickedness and their wiles, and escaped the cunning stratagems that were laid to confound and entangle him in his conversation.

5. The same infinitely wise Saviour can still meet and confound all his own enemies and those of his people, and deliver all his followers, as he did himself, from all the snares laid by a wicked world to lead them to sin and death.

Notes on the Bible by Albert Barnes [1834].
Text Courtesy of Internet Sacred Texts Archive.

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