Luke 9
Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary - Alford
Then he called his twelve disciples together, and gave them power and authority over all devils, and to cure diseases.
Chap. 9:1-5.] Mission of the Twelve. Matthew 10:5-15.Mark 6:7-13Mar_6:7-13. Mark’s account agrees nearly exactly with the text. The discourse is given at much greater length in Matt., where see notes.

1.] θεραπεύειν belongs to δύν. καὶ ἐξουσ., as in 1Corinthians 9:5; some join it with ἔδωκεν, as in John 5:26: Matthew 13:11.

3.] μήτε [ἀνὰ] δύο χ. ἔχειν—a mixed construction;—the former clause having been in the second person, this is added as if it had been in the infin., αἴρειν. The infinitive for the imperative would not be in place here,—see Winer, Gram. § 43, 5. d, edn. 6.

It is remarkable that in Mark, there is also a mixed construction, ἵνα μηδὲν αἴρωσιν … ἀλλʼ ὑποδεδεμένους … καὶ μὴ ἐνδύσησθε … (On ἀνά, see reff.)

5.] ἐπʼ αὐτούς, against them;—more determinate than αὐτοῖς, Mark.

7-9.] Herod Antipas hears of the fame of Jesus through the doings of the Twelve. Matthew 14:1-12.Mark 6:14-29Mar_6:14-29. How inexplicable would be the omission of the death of John the Baptist, by the Evangelist who has given so particular an account of his ministry, (ch. 3:1-20,) if Luke had had before him the narratives of Matt. and Mark.

7.] ὑπʼ αὐτοῦ, of the ., though a gloss, points to the right account of the matter. Herod (see Mark) heard the account of the miracles wrought by the Twelve; but even then it was τὸ ὄνομα αὐτοῦ which was spread abroad. These works were done in their Master’s Name, and in popular rumour passed for His.

9.] The repetition of ἐγώ implies personal concern and alarm at the growing fame of Jesus: see notes on Matt.

10-17.] Return of the Apostles. Jesus retires to Bethsaida. Feeding of the five thousand. Matthew 14:13-21.Mark 6:30-44Mar_6:30-44.John 6:1-13Joh_6:1-13. Compare the notes on each of these.

10.] He went in a ship (Matt., Mark, John), of which our Evangelist seems not to have been aware; for we should gather from our text that it was by land. A great difficulty also attends the mention of Bethsaida here. At first sight, it would appear to be the well-known Bethsaida, on the western bank of the lake, not far from Capernaum. But (1) our Lord was on this side before,—see ch. 8:37; and (2) Mark (6:45) relates that after the miracle of the loaves He caused His disciples to cross over to Bethsaida. But there were two places of this name:—another Bethsaida (Julias) lay at the top of the lake, on the Jordan: see Stanley, p. 381, edn. 3: Van de Velde, index, sub voce. Now it is very likely that our Lord may have crossed the lake to this Bethsaida, and St. Luke, finding that the miracle happened near Bethsaida, and not being aware of the crossing of the lake, may have left the name thus without explanation, as being that of the other Bethsaida. Mark gives us the exact account: that the Lord and the disciples, who went by sea, were perceived by the multitude who went by land, πεζῇ, and arrived before Him. How any of these accounts could have been compiled with a knowledge of the others, I cannot imagine.

11.] See note on Mark ver. 34.

ἀποδεξάμ.] This word includes what Mark tells us of His going forth from His solitude, or perhaps landing from the ship, and seeing a great multitude, and having compassion on them; having received them, i.e. not sent them away.

12.] As the three agree in their account, and John differs from them, see the difference discussed in notes there. In his account, the enquiry proceeds from our Lord Himself, and is addressed to Philip, and answered by Philip and Andrew.

13.] εἰ μή τιunless indeed we were to go and buy, &c. On the construction see 1Corinthians 9:11 (v. r.); 14:5: Revelation 11:5 (rec.); and Winer, § 41. b. 2 prope fin., edn. 6.

14.] κλισίαςby companies—the accusative of the manner, or situation, or time, in which: see Winer, § 32. 4, edn. 6.

ὡσεὶ ἀνὰ π.] Mark gives κατὰ ἑκατὸν καὶ κατὰ π. with his usual precision. Besides these companies, there were the women and children unarranged: see on John 6:10.

16.] On the symbolic import of the miracle, see notes on Joh_6.

17.] κλασ. in Matt. is joined with τὸ περισσεῦον,—in Mark with κοφίνους πλήρεις: here it may be taken with τὸ περισ. (ordinarily, and De Wette) or κόφ. (Meyer), but best, it appears to me, the latter,—because the article is not expressed as in Matt.

Immediately after this miracle, Matt., Mark, and John relate the walking on the sea, which, and the whole series of events following as far as Matthew 16:12,—the healings in the land of Gennesaret, the discourse about unwashen hands, the Syrophœnician woman, the healing of multitudes by the sea of Galilee, the feeding of the 4000, the asking of a sign from Heaven, and the forgetting to take bread,—are wholly omitted by our Evangelist. Supposing him to have had Matt. before him, how is this to be explained?

It is also an important observation, that the omission by Luke of the second miracle of feeding is not to be adduced against its historical reality, as has been done by Schleiermacher (transl. p. 144), since it is only omitted as occurring in the midst of a large section, which the accounts gathered by Luke did not contain. We see also, that the characteristic κοφίνους of the first feeding is preserved, without any confusion of terms: σπυρίδας being always used in relating and referring to the second,—Matthew 15:37; Matthew 16:10: Mark 8:8, Mark 8:20.

18-26.] Confession of Peter. First announcement of the Passion and Resurrection. Matthew 16:13-28. Mar_8:27-1. The Lord had gone into the neighbourhood of Cæsarea Philippi: see notes on Matthew.

19. ὅτι πρ. τις τ. ἀρχ. ἀν.] See ver. 8. There is no improbability, nor contradiction to John’s account that the multitudes sought to make Him a king, in our Lord’s asking this question. We must remember that such enquiries were not made by Him for information, but as a means of drawing out the confession of others, as here.

20.] See the important addition, the promise to Peter, in Matt. vv. 17-19.

Ver. 22 as far as ἀποκταν. is nearly verbatim with Mark; the last clause nearly so with Matt. And yet, according to the Commentators, Mark has compiled his account from Matt. and Luke. The almost verbal agreement of the three in so solemn and sad an announcement, is what we might expect. Such words would not be easily forgotten.

23.] πρὸς πάντας—‘having called the multitude with His disciples,’ Mark. There is no allusion to what He had said to Peter in this πάντας.

25.] ἑαυτόν = τὴν ψυχὴν αὐτοῦ Matt., Mark:—his life, in the highest sense.

26.] After λόγους, Mark adds ἐν τῇ γεν. ταύτῃ τῇ μοιχαλίδι καὶ ἁμαρτωλῷ.

Meyer remarks: ‘the Glory is threefold: (1) His own, which He has to and for Himself as the exalted Messiah: (2) the glory of God, which accompanies Him as coming down from God’s Throne: (3) the glory of the angels, who surround Him with their brightness.’

27.] See note on Matt. ver. 28.

28-36.] The Transfiguration. Matthew 17:1-8. Mark 9:2-8. I have commented on the relation of the three accounts in the notes on Mark, and on the Transfiguration itself in those on Matt., which treat also of the additional particulars found here.

28.] ἐγένετοit was, see reff. (k).

ὡσεὶ ἡμ. ὀκτώ = μεθʼ ἡμ. ἕξ Matt. and Mark, the one reckoning being exclusive, the other inclusive.

προσεύξ.] See on ch. 5:16. This Gospel alone gives us the purpose of the Lord in going up, and His employment when the glorious change came over Him.

29.] “St. Luke seems to have declined the use of μετεμορφώθη (employed by the other two Evangelists here), that he might not awaken in his Greek readers any ideas or feelings connected with the fabulous metamorphoses of their heathen deities.” Wordsw.

31.] This ἔξοδος could be no other than His death—see reff.

πληροῦνto fulfil by divine appointment.

32.] διαγρ., not ‘when they were awake,’ as E. V.—but having kept awake through the whole. The word occurs in this sense in Herodian iii. 4, πάσης τῆς νυκτὸς … διαγρηγορήσαντες. It seems to be expressly used here to shew that it was not merely a vision, seen in sleep.

33.] while they were departing—with a desire to hinder their departure.

μὴ εἰδ. ὃ λ., from fear and astonishment—ἔκφοβοι γὰρ ἐγένοντο, Mark.

34.] There is no difference in the accounts, as Meyer thinks: the ἐν τῷ διαχωρίζ.…, ver. 33, is only an additional particular, and the rest is exactly in accordance. Notice however the remarkable word ἐκλελεγμένος of the correct text: and compare the reff.

36.] Luke gives the result of our Lord’s command to them: the command itself is related in Matt. ver. 9, and Mark ver. 9.

37-42.] Healing of a possessed person. Matthew 17:14-21.Mark 9:14-29Mar_9:14-29. The narrative in Mark is by far the most copious, and I have commented at length on it.

37. τ. ἑξ. ἡμ.] The transfiguration probably took place at night,—see on Matthew 17:1,—and this was in the morning. Luke omits the whole discourse concerning Elias (Matt. and Mark, vv. 9-13).

38.] μον. μοί ἐστιν is peculiar to Luke.

39.] κράζει—i.e. the child—there is a rapid change of subject, see ch. 17:2; 19:4 . and Winer, § 67. 1. c, edn. 6.

συντρίβον is perhaps literal—bruising him.

43-45.] Our Lord’s second announcement of His death. Matthew 17:22, Matthew 17:23.Mark 9:30-32Mar_9:30-32.

43, 44.] πάντες—the multitude—in contrast with ὑμεῖς of ver. 44.

τοὺς λ. τ., not (Meyer), ‘the foregoing discourses and wonders:’—that would give no sense,—for the disciples were thinking exclusively of those already: nor strictly (Stier, but corrected in edn. 2) ‘what I am about to tell you,’ so that τοὺς λ. τ. should be ║ with τὸ ῥῆμα below: but these sayings, of which this was now the second;—‘these intimations which I make to you from time to time respecting My sufferings and death.’ The Resurrection, expressly mentioned in the others, is omitted here.

45.] ἵνα—not to be evaded by forcing it to mean ‘so that they did not …,’ but to be rendered that they might not, as in Matthew 1:22 al. It was the divine purpose, that they should not at present be aware of the full significancy of these words.

46-50.] Jesus rebukes the disciples for their emulation and exclusiveness. Matthew 18:1-5.Mark 9:33-40Mar_9:33-40. The most detailed account is in Mark, where I have discussed the differences in the three narratives.

46.] There is not the least occasion to confine διαλ. to the sense of an inward doubt and questioning in the heart of each; indeed I will venture to say that no interpreter would have thought of doing so, had not the narratives of Matt. and Mark, by mentioning an outward expression of this thought, offered a temptation to discover a discrepancy,—of which Meyer, as usual, has not failed to avail himself. Had our narrative stood by itself, we should have understood it, as I do now, of a dispute which had taken place or was taking place, and which, though not actually spoken out before the Lord, was yet open to His discerning eye, so that not only the words, but the disputing of their thoughts, was known to Him.

The idea of τὸ τίς ἂν εἴη μ. meaning that each one thought “Who is greater than I?” (Meyer, in loc.) is absurd enough. Still more absurd however is the harmonistic attempt of Greswell, to make two distinct events out of (1) the incident in Mark and Luke, and (2) that in Matthew; one, ‘absente Petro,’ the other ‘reverso Petro, discipuli sponte contentionem suam ad Jesum referunt; de qua Ille uti prius, sed uberius, disserit.’ (Harmony, p. 192, 3.) He has been led into this partly by the lower, literal-harmonistic spirit which pervades his school, and partly by the assumption which connects this strife and discourse immediately with the incident about the tribute-money,—for which there is not the least ground in the text of Matt.

48.] The discourse as here related has the closest connexion and harmony. The dispute had been, who (among the Twelve) should be greatest,—i.e. greatest in the kingdom of heaven: for other greatness is not to be thought of,—the minds of the disciples being always on this, as just about to appear (against De Wette and Meyer); and our Lord reminds them that no such precedence is to be thought of among those sent in His name; for that even a little child, if thus sent, is clothed with His dignity; and if there be any distinction among such, it is this, that he who is like that child, humblest and least, i.e. nearest to the spirit of his Lord, he is the greatest.

The whole discourse in Luke is without connexion.” De Wette, strangely enough: who also says, κ. ὃς ἐὰν ἐμὲ δέξ.… is borrowed from Matthew 10:40; and that ὁ γὰρ μικρ.… οὗτος ἔσται … ought to stand at the beginning of the discourse, as in Matt. I quote this as one among continually recurring specimens of the criticism which would cut our precious, and most truthful Gospels into fragments without meaning or connexion. We live in times when such criticisms are making way among shallow minds: let the student judge from the above sample, what they are generally worth.

Schleiermacher has some excellent remarks on this discourse and the circumstances, Essay on Luke, translation, pp. 159-162.

49, 50.] On the connexion of this answer with the preceding, see on Mark. It is even more strikingly brought out here. Our Lord had declared the absolute equality of all sent in His name—and that if there were any difference, it was to be made by a deeper self-renouncing. Then arises the thought in the mind of the ardent son of Zebedee, of the exclusive and peculiar dignity of those who were thus sent, the ἀπόστολοι: and he relates what they had done, as a proof of his fully appreciating this exclusive dignity. The link to what has preceded, is in the words ἐπὶ τῷ ὀν. σου … see the rest in Mark.

51—Chap. 19:28.] Incidents during the Lord’s last journey to Jerusalem. We now enter upon a long and most important portion of our Gospel, peculiar in this form, and most of it entirely peculiar, to Luke. At ch. 18:15 he again joins the narrative of Matt. and Mark within a few verses of where he parted from them.

Respecting this portion, I will observe, without entangling myself in the harmonistic maze into which most of the interpreters have ventured, (1) that the whole of it is to be understood here as belonging to our Lord’s last journey from Galilee to Jerusalem: see below on ver. 51. (2) that evidently that journey was not a direct one (see ch. 10:1; 13:22, 31; 17:11; 18:31, and notes), either in time or in the road chosen. (3) that in each of the two other Gospels there is a journey placed at this very time, described Matthew 19:1, μετῆρεν ἀπὸ τῆς Γαλιλαίας καὶ ἦλθεν εἰς τὰ ὅρια τῆς Ἰουδαίας πέραν τοῦ Ἰορδάνου, and Mark 10:1, ἐκεῖθεν ἀναστὰς ἔρχεται εἰς τὰ ὅρια τῆς Ἰουδ. καὶ πέραν τοῦ Ἰορδάνου,—which, in their narrative also, is the last journey from Galilee to Jerusalem. (4) that in John 10:22, we find our Lord at Jerusalem, at the feast of dedication, in the winter (about the end of December), without however any hint as to how or whence He came there. (5) that the whole time between that feast and His Passion is spent thus:—After the attempt to stone Him, John 10:31, He retired to Bethany beyond Jordan;—was summoned thence by the message from Martha and Mary to Bethany near Jerusalem, where He raised Lazarus;—again retired to Ephraim, somewhere beyond Jericho, on the borders of the desert;—six days before the passover came to Bethany, and the anointing took place, &c.; this whole time being three months and a few days. (6) I believe then that we have obtained a fixed critical point in all the four Gospels for the last journey from Galilee, after which He never returned (in the flesh) thither again. And this last journey was to the feast of dedication, or at all events brought Him in time for that feast (for it does not look like a journey specially to a feast) at Jerusalem. It was between the feast of tabernacles in John 7:2, to which He went up privately (ib. ver. 10), and the occasion when we find Him in Solomon’s porch, John 10:22. (7) The three first Evangelists relate nothing of the being in Jerusalem at the feast of dedication, or indeed at all, except at the last passover. We therefore find in them nothing of the retirements to Bethany (beyond Jordan) and Ephraim; but the removal of our Lord from Galilee to the confines of Judæa through the parts beyond Jordan is described as uninterrupted. (8) We are now I believe in a situation to appreciate the view with which our Evangelist inserts this portion. He takes this journey, beginning its narrative at the very same place where the others do, as comprehending—as indeed in strict historical fact it did—the last solemn farewell to Galilee (ch. 10:13-15), the final resolve of our Lord to go up to Jerusalem (9:51), and,—which in its wider sense it did,—all the records which he possessed of miracles and discourses between this time and the triumphal entry. (9) As to arranging or harmonizing the separate incidents contained in this portion, as the Evangelist himself has completely by his connecting words in many places disclaimed it (see ch. 9:57; 10:1, 25, 38; 11:1, 14; 12:1; 13:1, 10, 22; 14:1, 25; 15:1; 17:1, 5, 11, 20; 18:1, 9),—I do not suppose that we, at this distance of time, shall succeed in doing so. The separate difficulties will be treated of as they occur.

51.] συμπλ., not past—not, when the days were fulfilled; but, were being fulfilled: i.e. approaching their fulfilment. ‘When the time was come,’ E. V., is too strong: when the days were come would be better, for that would include the whole of the journey in those days. See reff.

ἀνάλημψις can have but one meaning (which, as the word itself is not found elsewhere, must be determined by the sense of the cognate verb: see reff.), His assumption, i.e. ascension into heaven. ἡμέρας τῆς ἀναλήψεως αὐτοῦ λέγει τὸν καιρὸν τὸν ἀφορισθέντα μέχρι τῆς ἀναλήψεως αὐτοῦ τῆς ἀπὸ γῆς εἰς οὐρανόν.

αὐτός resumes the subject, not without some emphasis implying his own voluntary action.

τὸ πρός. [αὐ.] ἐστ., a Hebraism, see reff., implying determinate fixed purpose: cf. Isaiah 50:7, the sense of which, as prophetic of the Messiah going to his sufferings, seems to be referred to in this expression. The LXX have there, ἔθηκα τὸ πρόσωπόν μου ὡς στερεὰν πέτραν.

52.] ἀγγέλους, who have been assumed without reason to have been James and John.

Σαμαρ.] On the enmity of the Jews and Samaritans, see note, John 4:9. The publicity now courted by our Lord is in remarkable contrast to His former avoidance of notice, and is a feature of the close of His ministry, giving rise to the accusation of ch. 23:5.

ὥστε ἑτ. αὐτῷ must mean something more, surely, than to provide board and lodging; there is a solemnity about the sentence which forbids that supposition. It must have been to announce the coming of Jesus as the Messiah, which He did not conceal in Samaria, as in Judæa and Galilee, see John 4:26; and the refusal of the Samaritans must have been grounded on the jealousy excited by the preference shewn for the Jewish rites and metropolis.

They expected that the Messiah would have confirmed their anti-Jewish rites and Gerizim temple, instead of going up solemnly to Jerusalem, and thereby condemning them.

54.] The disciples whom He named ‘sons of thunder,’ Mark 3:17. They saw some insult of manner, or actual refusal to allow the Lord to enter their village. That a collision of this kind did take place is plain from the last verse, and implied from the occasion alluded to by the two Apostles, where the fire was invoked in the presence of the offending persons. It happened also in Samaria.

πῦρ, not lightning, but fire, as in the passage alluded to, and in 1Kings 18:38.

It is exceedingly difficult to determine the true reading in this passage, which seems to have been more than usually tampered with, or wrongly written. It is hardly conceivable that the shorter text, as edited by ., … ἀναλῶσαι αὐτούς; στραφεὶς δὲ ἐπετίμησεν αὐτοῖς. καὶ ἐπορεύθησαν … should have been the original, and all the rest, insertion. Homœoteleuton may have had some share in the omission of the latter debated portion, from ΚΑΙΕΙΠ to ΚΑΙΕΠ: but this does not touch ὡς καὶ Ἡλ. ἐπ. It has been suggested that those words may have been removed as involving indirect censure of Elias: but surely this lay too far off to create any offence. And their insertion into the text is quite inexplicable. In this great uncertainty, I have thought the candid way is to let my edited text reflect such uncertainty, and I have therefore printed these latter debatable words in the same type as the text, and have annotated on them. Let it be remembered that in both cases, versions far more ancient than our oldest mss. contain these words.

55.] [οὐκ οἴδατε οἵου πνεύματός ἐστε. Besides the mistaken ways of explaining these words of our Lord (e.g. ‘Do you not see what a (bad) spirit you are shewing?’ Bornemann) there are two senses which they may bear. (1) Affirmative, as in E. V.,—‘putatis vos agi Spiritu tali quali olim Elias … sed erratis. Habetis quidem ζῆλον sed οὐ κατʼ ἐπίγνωσιν, et qui proinde humani est affectus, non divinæ motionis.’ Grot.; or (2) interrogative—‘Know ye not what manner of spirit ye belong to (are of)?’ the spirit meant being the Holy Spirit. ‘The Spirit in Elias was a fiery and judicial spirit, as befitted the times and the character of God’s dealings then; but the Spirit in Me and mine is of a different kind—a spirit of love and forgiveness.’

The latter of these is perhaps better suited to the context: but we seem to want an example in the Gospels of (οὐκ) οἴδατε used interrogatively: see Matthew 7:11 ║; 20:22, 25 ║; 24:42 ║; 25:13; 26:2: Mark 4:13 (doubtful, but the construction is direct): ch. 12:56: John 8:14; John 14:4 al. I have therefore punctuated according to the former sense: which, indeed, seems more naturally followed by the γάρ of the clause following.

It is very interesting to remember that this same John came down to Samaria (Acts 8:14-17) with Peter, to confer the gift of the Holy Spirit on the Samaritan believers.]

57-62.] Matthew (8:19-22) relates the contents of vv. 57-60, but at a totally different period of our Lord’s ministry, viz. His crossing the lake to go to Gadara. It is quite impossible to decide which Evangelist has placed the incidents in their proper chronological place. When we once begin to speculate on such things, it is easy to find a fitness, on whichever side of the argument we range ourselves. Only (see notes on Matt.) we must not adopt the wretched subterfuge of the harmonists, and maintain that the two events took place twice, each time consecutively, and each time with the same reply from our Lord.

57, 58.] See notes on Matt.

59. ἀκολούθει μοι] This command is implied in Matthew, where the reply is, as here, κύριε, ἐπίτρεψόν μοι πρῶτον … which words could hardly be spoken without a reference in the πρῶτον to it.

60.] διάγ. κ.τ.λ., peculiar to Luke, and shews the independence of his source of information. Am I wrong in supposing also, that it connects this incident with the sending out of the Seventy, which follows immediately afterwards?

61, 62.] Peculiar to Luke.

τοῖς εἰς …, a mixture of two constructions—ἀπέρχεσθαι εἰς τ. οἶκ. μου καὶ ἀποτάξ. τοῖς ἐν τ. οἴκῳ μου. The meaning is, to bid farewell to the persons, not to set in order the things, as some have rendered it. The answer of our Lord again seems to refer to the sending out into the harvest (ch. 10:2), for which the present seventy were as it were the ploughmen, first breaking up the ground. The saying itself is to be explained simply from agricultural operations—for he who has his hand on the plough, guiding it, must look on the furrow which his share is making—if he look behind, his work will be marred. Hesiod’s precept is very similar, ἔργ. ii. 60, ἰθείην αὔλακʼ ἐλαύνοι, μηκέτι παπταίνων μεθʼ ὁμήλικας ἀλλʼ ἐπὶ ἔργῳ θυμὸν ἔχων.

εὔθετος, not ‘fit,’ but well adapted, ‘the right sort of workman.’ The sense is more immediately applicable to the ministry of the gospel of Christ, which will least of all things bear a divided service and backward looks,—but of course affects also every private Christian, inasmuch as he too has a work to do,—ground to break, and a harvest to reap.

Henry Alford - Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary

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