|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
17:1-10 It is no abatement of their guilt by whom an offence comes, nor will it lessen their punishment that offences will come. Faith in God's pardoning mercy, will enable us to get over the greatest difficulties in the way of forgiving our brethren. As with God nothing is impossible, so all things are possible to him that can believe. Our Lord showed his disciples their need of deep humility. The Lord has such a property in every creature, as no man can have in another; he cannot be in debt to them for their services, nor do they deserve any return from him.
Verses 1-37. - The Master's teaching on the subject of the injury worked on the souls of others by our sins. The disciples pray for an increase of faith that they may be kept from such sins. The Lord's reply. His little parable on humility. The healing of the ten lepers. The ingratitude of all save one. The question of the Pharisees as to the coming of the kingdom. The Lord's answer, and his teaching respecting the awful suddenness of the advent of the Son of man. Verses 1, 2. - Then said he unto the disciples, It is impossible but that offences will come: but woe unto him, through whom they come: It were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he cast into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones. The thread of connection here is not very obvious, and many expositors are content with regarding this seventeenth chapter as simply containing certain lessons of teaching placed here by St. Luke without regard to anything which preceded or succeeded them in the narrative, these expositors regarding the contents of this chapter as well authenticated sayings of the Master, which were repeated to Luke or Paul without any precise note of time or place, and which appeared to them too important for them to omit in these memoirs of the Divine life. Notwithstanding this deliberate opinion, endorsed by Godet and others, there does seem a clear connection here with the narrative immediately preceding. The Divine Master, while mourning over the sorrowful certainty of offences being committed in the present confused and disordered state of things, yet pronounces a bitter woe on the soul of the man through whose agency the offences were wrought. The "little cues" whom these offences would injure are clearly in this instance not children, although, of course, the words would include the very young, for whom Jesus ever showed the tenderest love; but the reference is clearly to disciples whose faith was only as yet weak and wavering - to men and women who would be easily influenced either for good or evil. The offences, then, especially alluded to were no doubt the worldliness and selfishness of professors of godliness. The sight of these, professedly serving God and all the while serving mammon more earnestly, would bring the very name of God's service into evil odour with some; while with others such conduct would serve as an example to be imitated. The selfish rich man of the great parable just spoken, professedly a religious man, one who evidently prided himself on his descent from Abraham the friend of God, and yet lived as a heartless, selfish sinner, who was eventually condemned for inhumanity, was probably in the Lord's mind when he spoke thus. What fatal injury to the cause of true religion would be caused by one such life as that! It were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he east into the sea. This was a punishment not unknown among the ancients. The ancient Latin Version, and Marcion in his recension of St. Luke, read here, "It were better for him that he had never been born, or that a millstone." etc. The awful sequel to a life which apparently had given the offence to which the Lord referred, endorses this terrible alternative. Yes; better indeed for him had that evil life been cut short even by such a death of horror as the Master pictures here, when he speaks of the living being cast into the sea bound to a millstone.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Then said he unto his disciples,.... In the Alexandrian copy, and in "three" of Beza's exemplars it is read, "his disciples"; and so read the Vulgate Latin, and all the Oriental versions; that is, Jesus said to his disciples what follows, as the Syriac and Persic versions express, and the latter reads, he said "again". About the time that he delivered the above parable concerning the rich man and Lazarus, he repeated to his disciples what he had before said to them on another occasion, Matthew 18:7
it is impossible but that offences will come; considering the decree of God, the malice of Satan, the wickedness of men, the corruption both of their principles and practices. The Ethiopic version renders it, "temptation will come"; that which will be trying to the faith of the saints, and a stumblingblock to weak minds, as reproach and persecution, errors, and heresies, and the evil lives of professors:
but woe unto him through whom they come; See Gill on Matthew 18:7
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
Lu 17:1-10. Offenses—Faith—Humility.
1, 2. (See Mt 18:6, 7).
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