Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary - Alford
And it came to pass, as he went into the house of one of the chief Pharisees to eat bread on the sabbath day, that they watched him.Chap. 14:1-6.] Healing of a dropsical man on the Sabbath. Peculiar to Luke.
1.] ἐν τῷ ἐλθ. αὐτ., viz. during the πορεύεσθαι, ch. 13:33.
τ. ἀρχ. [τ.] Φ., of the chief men of the Pharisees; or, if the τῶν be omitted, of the Pharisees who were rulers. Though the Pharisees had no official rulers as such, they had men to whom they looked up, as Hillel, Schammai, Gamaliel, &c. (Meyer.)
φ. ἄρτ.] The Jews used to give entertainments on the Sabbath, see Nehemiah 8:9-12: Tobit 2:1. The practice latterly became an abuse,—‘Hodiernus dies sabbati est: hunc in præsenti tempore otio quodam corporaliter languido et fluxo et luxurioso celebrant Judæi.’ in Psalm 91:1, Enarr. § 2, vol. iv. Again, ‘observa diem Sabbati, non Judaicis deliciis …’ in Psalm 32:2, Enarr. ii. § 6.
καί, usual after ἐγένετο: not ‘also,’ or ‘even.’
2.] ἔμπρ. αὐτ., not as a guest: see ver. 4, and compare ch. 7:37, and note on ib. ver. 45. ἦν ἱστάμενος καὶ μὴ τολμῶν μὲν ζητῆσαι θεραπείαν διὰ τὸ σάββ. καὶ τοὺς Φαρ. φαινόμενος δὲ μόνον, ἵνα ἰδὼν οἰκτειρήσῃ τοῦτον ἀφʼ ἑαυτοῦ καὶ ἀπαλλάξῃ τοῦ ὕδρωπος. It does not appear, though it is certainly possible, that he was set there by the Pharisees on purpose. This was before the meal (ver. 7).
5.] There is a strict propriety in the comparison: the accident and disease are analogous.
υἱὸς ἢ βοῦς] This reading, which evidently was the original, seemed incompatible with the supposed argument à minori ad majus: υἱός was therefore altered to ὄνος (as in ch. 13:15) or πρόβατον (Mill and Bornemann conjectured ὄϊς). But our Lord’s argument is of another and a far deeper kind. The stress is on ὑμῶν: and the point of comparison is the ownership, and consequent tender care, of the object in question. ‘Those who are in your possession and care, whether belonging to your families, or your herds, are cared for, and rescued from perishing: am I (the possessor of heaven and earth,—this lies in the background) to let mine perish without care or rescue?’
There may be in the words the meaning ‘son, or even ox;’ but I prefer rendering them simply.
7-24.] Sayings of our Lord at this Sabbath feast.
7-11.] It does not appear that the foregoing miracle gave occasion to this saying; so that it is no objection to it, that it has no connexion with it. Our Lord, as was His practice, founds His instructions on what He saw happening before Him.
As Trench remarks (Par. in loc.), it is probable this was a splendid entertainment, and the guests distinguished persons (ver. 12).
7.] πρωτοκλ., see Matthew 23:6, the middle place in the triclinium, which was the most honourable. At a large feast there would be many of these.
8.] The whole of this has, besides its plain reference, a deeper one, linked into it by the pregnant word γάμους, relating to the Kingdom of God. Both meanings are obvious, and only one remark needed;—that all that false humility, by which men put themselves lowest and dispraise themselves of set purpose to be placed higher, is, by the very nature of our Lord’s parable, excluded: for that is not bona fide ταπεινοῦν ἑαυτόν. The exaltation at the hands of the Host is not to be a subjective end to the guests, but will follow true humility.
9.] σὲ καὶ αὐτόν, not, ‘thyself also,’ (see ch. 2:35,) but thee and him, as E. V.
ἐρεῖ, not dependent on μή, but future.
ἄρξῃ … κατ.] The form of expression sets forth the reluctance and lingering with which it is done.
10.] ἵνα, not expressing the view with which thou art to do it (Meyer, bezeichnet die Abficht des ἀνάπεσε), but a consequence which may follow: the view with which the act, as an objective fact, happens: the effect, of which it is (however the actor may be unaware of this) the cause; as the μήποτε in ver. 8.
12-14.] The composition of the company before Him seems to have given occasion for this saying of our Lord. The Pharisee his host had doubtless, with the view (of watching Him) mentioned in ver. 1, invited the principal persons of the place, and with the intention of courting their favour, and getting a return. The Lord rebukes in him this spirit;—and it has been well remarked, that the intercourse and civilities of social life among friends and neighbours are here pre-supposed, (inasmuch as for them there takes place an ἀνταπόδομα, and they are struck off the list by this means,) with this caution,—that our means are not to be sumptuously laid out upon them, but upon something far better,—the providing for the poor and maimed and lame and blind. When we will make a sacrifice, and provide at some cost, let us not throw our money away, as we should if an ἀνταπόδομα is made to us in this world: but give it to the poor, i.e. lend it to the Lord; and then, as in ver. 14, there will be an ἀνταπόδ. ἐν τ. ἀναστ. τ. δικ.,—which shall not be a mere equivalent, but a rich reward. See an excellent note in Bleek.
14.] ἀναστ. τ. δικ., the first resurrection, here distinctly asserted by our Lord; otherwise τ. δικ. would be vapid and unmeaning. See 1Corinthians 15:22 f.: 1Thessalonians 4:16: Revelation 20:4, Revelation 20:5.
15-24.] Parable of the Great Supper. One of the guests takes this literally, and imagines the great feast to which the Jews looked forward to be meant. He spoke as a Jew, and probably with an idea that, as such, his admission to this feast was sure and certain. Our Lord answers him by the parable following, which shewed him that true as his assertion was, (and He does not deny it,) the blessedness would not be practically so generally acknowledged nor entered into.
The Parable, whatever analogy it may bear with that in Matthew 22:1 ff., is wholly different from that in many essential points.
15.] φάγεται is a well-known future, contracted from φαγήσεται: see reff.
16.] The δεῖπ. μέγα is the βασιλεία τ. θεοῦ, the feast of fat things in Isaiah 25:6; completed in the marriage-supper of the Lamb; but fully prepared when the glad tidings of the gospel were proclaimed.
ἐκάλ. πολ.] These first κεκλημένοι are the Pharisees and Scribes and learned among the Jews.
17.] The δοῦλος is one spirit, one message; but not necessarily, in the three cases, one and the same person. The three messages were delivered (1) by John the Baptist and our Lord; (2) by our Lord and the Apostles; (3) by the Apostles and those who came after. The elder prophets cannot be meant, for ἕτοιμά ἐστιν πάντα was the message, = ἤγγικεν ἡ βασ. τ. οὐρ.
18-20.] ἀπὸ μιᾶς, supply γνώμης: so ἀπὸ τῆς ἴσης, Thucyd. i. 15; so (ch. 7:30) they had rejected John’s baptism, and (John 7:48) the Lord himself. The saying is not to be taken strictly without exception, e.g. Nicodemus: but generically. So also ver. 24.
The temper of these self-excusers is threefold; the excuses themselves are threefold; their spirit is one. The first alleges an ἀνάγκη,—he must go and see his land: the second not so much as this, only his own plan and purpose—πορεύομαι: the third not so much as either of these, but rudely asserts οὐ δύναμαι (i.e. οὐ βούλομαι) ἐλθεῖν. Also the excuses themselves are threefold. The first has his worldly possession (‘one to his farm,’ Matthew 22:5) to go and see: the second his purchase (‘another to his merchandise,’ ibid.) of stock to prove: the third his home engagements and his lust to satisfy. All are detained by worldliness, in however varied forms.
21.] τῆς πόλεως, still, in the city (Matthew 22:7); still, among the Jews.
πλατ. κ. ῥύμ., the broad and narrow streets: perhaps the πόλεις κ. κῶμαι through which the Lord and his Apostles journeyed preaching.
Here appear again the very persons of ver. 13; the representatives of the wretched and despised; = ὁ πολὺς ὄχλος, Mark 12:37: not perhaps without a hint, that only those who knew themselves to be spiritually poor and maimed and halt and blind would come to the gospel feast.
22.] The palace is large, and the guest-room: ‘nec natura nec gratia patitur vacuum,’ Bengel.
ἀνάγκ. εἰσελθ.] Is there not here an allusion to Infant Baptism? for remember, the εἰσελθόντες are good and bad. (Matt. l. c.)
24.] I think with Stier (iii. 202, edn. 2), that our Lord here speaks in his own Person: ὑμῖν will fit no circumstance in the parable; for the householder and his servant are alone: the guests are not present.
Our Lord speaks, with His usual λέγω γὰρ ὑμῖν, to the company present: and half continuing the parable, half expounding it, substitutes Himself for the master of the feast, leaving it hardly doubtful who ἄνδρες ἐκεῖνοι οἱ κεκλημένοι are.
25-35.] Discourse to the multitudes. Our Lord is, at some time further on in the journey, going forward, and speaking to the multitude on counting the cost before any man becomes his disciple.
μισεῖ] It is well to enquire what sense this word here bears. That no such thing as active hatred can be meant, is plain: our Lord himself is an example to the contrary, John 19:25-27: the hate is the general, not personal, feeling of alienation in the inmost heart,—so that this world’s relationships, as belonging to the state of things in this world, are not the home and rest of the heart. This is evident from the ἔτι τε κ. τ. ἑαυ. ψυχήν which follows. Let the hate begin here, and little explanation will be further wanted. This addition also shews that the saying was not meant only for those times, in which more perhaps of the disruption of earthly ties was required, but for all time: for ἡ ἑαυτοῦ ψυχή is equally dear to every man in every age. It hardly need be observed that this hate is not only consistent with, but absolutely necessary to the very highest kind of love. It is that element in love which makes a man a wise and Christian friend,—not for time only, but for eternity.
Beware of thinking, with Wordsw., that in εἶναί μου μαθητής, there is any emphasis on μου. Rather is it in the least emphatic place in the sentence, in order to throw all the stress on the verb εἶναι: cf. ἵνα γεμισθῇ μου ὁ οἶκος, ver. 23; καταφαγών σου τὸν βίον, ch. 15:30. In ver. 33, the collocation is different, and μου has a secondary emphasis. See remarks on this idea of Wordsworth’s, in note on Matthew 16:18.
28-30.] Peculiar to Luke. The same caution is followed out in this parable. This is to be borne in mind, or it will be misinterpreted. The ground of the parable is, that entire self-renunciation is requisite, to become a disciple of Christ. This man wishes to build a tower: to raise that building (see 1Corinthians 3:11-15), which we must rear on the one Foundation, and which shall be tried in the day of the Lord. He is advised to count the cost, to see whether he have enough thoroughly to finish it. If he begin, lay the foundation,—however seemingly well it may be done, it is not well done, because he has not enough to complete it: and the attempt can only lead to shame. So it is with one who would be Christ’s disciple: but with this weighty difference, lying in the background of the parable—that in his case the counting the cost must always issue in a discovery of the utter inadequacy of his own resources, and the going out of himself for strength and means to build.
31-33.] This same lesson is even more pointedly set before us in the following parable, which, as well as the other, is frequently misunderstood. The two kings here are,—the man desirous to become a disciple, to work out his salvation,—and God, with whose just and holy law he is naturally at variance;—it is his ἀντίδικος, see ch. 12:58, and note:—these two are going to engage in war: and the question for each man to sit down and ask himself is, ‘Can I, with (ἐν,—clad in,—surrounded by, all that I have, all my instrument of war) my ten thousand, stand the charge of Him who cometh against me with (μετά, being only as many as He pleases to bring with Him for the purpose, see Psalm 68:17, E. V.) twenty thousand?’—see Job 15:24-26.
Here the inadequacy of man’s resources is plainly set forth, not left, as in the former parable, to be inferred.
Then, finding that he has no hope of prevailing,—ἔτι αὐτοῦ πόῤῥω ὄντος, while there is yet time,—he sends an embassy, and sues for peace, abandoning the conflict: throwing himself upon the mere mercy and grace of God;—ἀποτασσόμενος πᾶσιν τοῖς ἑαυτοῦ ὑπάρχουσιν, in both cases.
The ordinary misinterpretation of this parable is in taking the king with twenty thousand to be the ἄρχων τοῦ κόσμου τούτου—which destroys all the sense:—for with him the natural man is at peace, but the disciple of Christ at war.
31.] εἰς πόλ. belongs to συμβ., not to πορευόμ. συμβαλεῖν πρὸς μάχην occurs Polyb. x. 37. 4 (the instance from Xen. Cyrop. vii. 1. 20, cited by Meyer, does not apply, being συμβ. πρὸς τὸ μαχόμενον).
32. τὰ πρὸς εἰρ.] So τὰ πρὸς πόλεμον, Xen. Anab. iv. 3. 10, but there, ‘the resources of war;’—here, conditions, preliminaries, of peace. 34, 35.
34, 35.] For the third time, our Lord repeats the saying concerning salt: see Matthew 5:13: Mark 9:50, and notes. The οὖν and καί, here restored to the text, are both valuable; the former as importing the recurrence of a saying known before, the latter as giving force to the supposition. The salt, in Scripture symbolism, is the whole life-retaining antiseptic influence of the Spirit of God:—this, working in the εἶναί μου μαθητής, is good: but if even this be corrupted—if the mere appearance of this, and not the veritable salt (which is the savour), be in you—wherewith, &c.? Such a disciple is ἔξω βλητέος. Salt was not used for land, Psalm 107:34, nor for mingling with manure; it is of no use for either of those purposes, but must be utterly cast out.