Luke 10:42
Verse (Click for Chapter)
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."

New Living Translation
There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her."

English Standard Version
but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.”

Berean Study Bible
But only one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, and it will not be taken away from her."

Berean Literal Bible
but one thing is necessary, only one; for Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her."

New American Standard Bible
but only one thing is necessary, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall 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.

Holman Christian Standard Bible
but one thing is necessary. Mary has made the right choice, and it will not be taken away from her."

International Standard Version
But there's only one thing you need. Mary has chosen what is better, and it is not to be taken away from her."

NET Bible
but one thing is needed. Mary has chosen the best part; it will not be taken away from her."

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

Aramaic Bible in Plain English
“But one thing is necessary; Maryam has chosen that good part for herself which will not be taken away from her.”

GOD'S WORD® Translation
There's only one thing you need [worth worrying about]. Mary has made the right choice, and that one thing will not be taken away from her."

New American Standard 1977
but only a few things are necessary, really only one, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her.”

Jubilee Bible 2000
but only one thing is necessary, and Mary has chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.

King James 2000 Bible
But one thing is needful: and Mary has chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.

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

American Standard Version
but one thing is needful: for Mary hath chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her.

Douay-Rheims Bible
But one thing is necessary. Mary hath chosen the best 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.

English Revised Version
but one thing is needful: for Mary hath chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her.

Webster's Bible Translation
But one thing is needful; and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.

Weymouth New Testament
and yet only one thing is really necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion and she shall not be deprived of it."

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.'
Study Bible
Martha and Mary
41“Martha, Martha,” the Lord replied, “you are worried and upset about many things. 42But only one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, and it will not be taken away from her.”
Cross References
Psalm 27:4
One thing I have asked from the LORD, that I shall seek: That I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, To behold the beauty of the LORD And to meditate in His temple.

Psalm 119:173
Let Your hand be ready to help me, For I have chosen Your precepts.

Luke 10:39
She had a sister named Mary, who sat at the Lord's feet, listening to His message.

Luke 11:1
One day in a place where Jesus had just finished praying, one of His disciples requested, "Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples."

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

John 11:1
At this time a man named Lazarus was sick. He lived in Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha.

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

John 12:3
Then Mary took about a pint of expensive perfume, made of pure nard, and anointed Jesus' feet and wiped them with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.
Treasury of Scripture

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

one.

Luke 18:22 Now when Jesus heard these things, he said to him, Yet lack you one …

Psalm 27:4 One thing have I desired of the LORD, that will I seek after; that …

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

Ecclesiastes 12:13 Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep …

Mark 8:36 For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, …

John 17:3 And this is life eternal, that they might know you the only true …

1 Corinthians 13:3 And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give …

Galatians 5:6 For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision avails any thing, nor uncircumcision; …

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 …

chosen.

Deuteronomy 30:19 I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have …

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

Psalm 17:15 As for me, I will behold your face in righteousness: I shall be satisfied, …

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

good.

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 …

which.

Luke 8:18 Take heed therefore how you hear: for whoever has, to him shall be …

Luke 12:20,33 But God said to him, You fool, this night your soul shall be required …

Luke 16:2,25 And he called him, and said to him, How is it that I hear this of …

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 …

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, …

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 …

(42) But one thing is needful.--Some of the better MSS. present a singular various-reading, There is need of few things, or of one only. It is obvious that this might be taken either literally or spiritually. They might mean (1) that He who spoke, and the others who were coming, needed not the many things about which Martha was troubled, but a few only, or even but a single dish, to supply their wants; or (2) that the true life of men needed but a few things, such as faith, obedience, the fear of God, or even but one only, the devout and intent love which Mary was then showing. The latter interpretation is clearly most in harmony with our Lord's usual teaching, though the former has something like a parallel in the teaching of Luke 10:7 of this very chapter. It is not improbable that our Lord designedly used words which had an outer and an inner meaning, the latter intended chiefly for those who "had ears to hear." There is a singular coincidence between the words here spoken to Martha and those addressed to the young ruler ("one thing thou lackest"), whom we have seen reason to identify with her brother. (See Note on Matthew 19:16.) The omission of "few things" in the received text, may have originated in the wish to give an exclusive prominence to the higher meaning.

Mary hath chosen that good part.--The Greek noun is very nearly the same as that which the younger son, in Luke 15:12, uses for "the portion of goods," the good part or portion here being nothing less than the eternal life which is the gift of God. Here too we may trace something approaching to a half-playful mingling of the higher and lower meanings of the word which was used in the Greek version of the Old Testament at once for Benjamin's mess, i.e., portion of food (Genesis 43:34), and for God as the "portion" of His people (Psalm 73:26). Even on the assumption that our Lord spoke in Aramaic, and not in Greek, a like play upon the word would have been equally possible.

The two sisters have come to be regarded as the representatives respectively of the active and the contemplative forms of the religious life, and there is, of course, a certain measure of truth in this view. On the other hand, however, it must be remembered that Martha's activity, with its manifold distractions, was not Christian activity, and that Mary's contemplation passed, when the time came for it, as in John 12:3, into full and intense activity. The contrast is rather that between singleness of heart and the character which St. James describes as "double-minded" (James 1:8), i.e., divided in its affections.

Verse 42. - But one thing is needful. Jesus had been saying to this kindly but over-fussy friend, "Are you not too anxious about these household cares of yours?" and then he adds, "See, only one thing is really needful." Now, what is the exact meaning of these last words? Some expositors have taken the expression to mean "a single dish is sufficient" for my entertainment; so much careful, anxious thought is thrown away. A curious variation in the reading occurs here in some, though not in all the oldest, authorities. It seems as though some of the early copyists of the text of the Gospel were wishful to make the words, which they possibly understood as a lesson of the Master's on simplicity of food, clearer and more emphatic. This other reading is, "There is need of few things, or of one only." In other words, "Few things are enough for me and my friends to sit down to, or even one dish only." The teaching contained in ver. 7 gives a little colour to this quaint interpretation of the Master's words here, which sees in them a general warning against taking thought for the pleasures of the table. But, on the whole, the old reading contained in the received text is preferable, and the old interpretation, too, viz. that the true life of man needs but one thing, or, if the other reading be adopted, needs but few things. If we must specify the one, we would call it" love," or "charity." So John, we know, in his old days, summed up all man's duties in this "love." If, on the other hand, we are asked to name the few, then we would add to love, faith and hope. The parable of the "good Samaritan," that practical lesson of the love or charity the Master was alluding to, had just been spoken; it was Still, we may reverently assume, fresh in the Divine Teacher's mind. And Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her. And Mary, his dear Bethany friend, had made her happy choice of the one thing, that love or charity which never fails; or, perchance, had made her choice of the few things needful (if we prefer the longer reading of those old manuscripts we have spoken of) - the few things would then mean that faith, hope, and charity which abide both now and in the ages of ages yet to come!



But one thing is needful,.... Meaning not that one dish of meat was sufficient, and there was no need of any more, in opposition to Martha's carefulness in preparing many; for this is too low a sense of the words; which yet some ancient writers have given into: but rather the hearing of the word, the Gospel of Christ, which Mary was engaged in; and which, ordinarily speaking, is necessary to the knowledge of Christ, and salvation by him, and to faith in him, Romans 10:14 not that this is the only needful thing; nor does Christ say there is but one thing needful, but that there is one thing needful; for there are other things that are also needful, and useful, as meditation and prayer, and attendance on, and submission to the ordinances of baptism, and the Lord's supper, and all the duties of religion: but Christ's meaning seems plainly to be, that Mary hearing the word from his mouth, and at his feet, was one necessary thing, in opposition to Martha's many unnecessary ones, about which she was cumbered:

and Mary hath chosen that good part; or "the good part", or "portion"; Christ, the sum and substance of the word she heard, and eternal life and salvation by him. God himself is said to be the portion of his people, and a good one he is, and a portion that lasts for ever; and so is Christ; see Psalm 73:26 where the Septuagint use the same word as here. The heavenly inheritance also, eternal glory and happiness, is the saints' portion; it is called in Colossians 1:12 the part, or portion of the inheritance with the saints in light. The word answers to the Hebrew word, as in that saying of the Misnic doctors (f),

"all Israel have, "a part", or "portion" in the world to come.''

All the Oriental versions add, "for herself", and this choice she made, not from the natural power of her own freewill, but as directed, influenced, and assisted by the Spirit and grace of God, and in consequence of God's eternal choice of her unto salvation by Jesus Christ: and the part she chose is, that

which shall not be taken away from her; by men or devils: faith which comes by hearing of the word, and so every other grace of the Spirit is what can never be lost; nor an interest in God, as a covenant God, or in Christ as a Saviour, nor a right and title to, nor meetness for eternal life, nor that itself, can be taken away, or the believer ever be deprived thereof.

(f) Misn. Sanhedrin, c. 11. sect. 1.42. one thing, etc.—The idea of "Short work and little of it suffices for Me" is not so much the lower sense of these weighty words, as supposed in them, as the basis of something far loftier than any precept on economy. Underneath that idea is couched another, as to the littleness both of elaborate preparation for the present life and of that life itself, compared with another.

chosen the good part—not in the general sense of Moses' choice (Heb 11:25), and Joshua's (Jos 24:15), and David's (Ps 119:30); that is, of good in opposition to bad; but, of two good ways of serving and pleasing the Lord, choosing the better. Wherein, then, was Mary's better than Martha's? Hear what follows.

not be taken away—Martha's choice would be taken from her, for her services would die with her; Mary's never, being spiritual and eternal. Both were true-hearted disciples, but the one was absorbed in the higher, the other in the lower of two ways of honoring their common Lord. Yet neither despised, or would willingly neglect, the other's occupation. The one represents the contemplative, the other the active style of the Christian character. A Church full of Marys would perhaps be as great an evil as a Church full of Marthas. Both are needed, each to be the complement of the other. 10:38-42 A good sermon is not the worse for being preached in a house; and the visits of our friends should be so managed, as to make them turn to the good of their souls. Sitting at Christ's feet, signifies readiness to receive his word, and submission to the guidance of it. Martha was providing for the entertainment of Christ, and those that came with him. Here were respect to our Lord Jesus and right care of her household affairs. But there was something to be blamed. She was for much serving; plenty, variety, and exactness. Worldly business is a snare to us, when it hinders us from serving God, and getting good to our souls. What needless time is wasted, and expense often laid out, even in entertaining professors of the gospel! Though Martha was on this occasion faulty, yet she was a true believer, and in her general conduct did not neglect the one thing needful. The favour of God is needful to our happiness; the salvation of Christ is needful to our safety. Where this is attended to, all other things will be rightly pursued. Christ declared, Mary hath chosen the good part. For one thing is needful, this one thing that she has done, to give up herself to the guidance of Christ. The things of this life will be taken away from us, at the furthest, when we shall be taken away from them; but nothing shall separate from the love of Christ, and a part in that love. Men and devils cannot take it away from us, and God and Christ will not. Let us mind the one thing needful more diligently.
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