Luke 10
Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges
After these things the Lord appointed other seventy also, and sent them two and two before his face into every city and place, whither he himself would come.
Luke 10:1-24. The Mission of the Seventy.

1. After these things] i.e. after finally leaving Galilee, and starting on His great Peraean progress.

other seventy also] Rather, also others (besides the Twelve) seventy in number. Some MSS. read seventy-two (B, D, M, &c.). The number had evident reference to the Elders of Moses (Numbers 11:16), where there is the same variation; the Sanhedrin; and the Jewish belief (derived from Genesis 10) as to the number of the nations of the world. The references to Elim with its 12 wells and 70 palm-trees are mere plays of allegoric fancy.

two and two] The same merciful provision that we see in the brother- pairs of the Twelve.

into every city, &c.] Clearly with the same object as in Luke 9:52. It may have been all the more necessary because hitherto He had worked less in the Transjordanic regions.

Therefore said he unto them, The harvest truly is great, but the labourers are few: pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he would send forth labourers into his harvest.
2. The harvest truly is great] Compare Matthew 9:37; John 4:35.

sendforth] The word literally means ‘drive forth,’ and though it has lost its full force implies urgency and haste. See similar uses of the word in John 10:4, Matthew 9:38, Mark 1:12.

Go your ways: behold, I send you forth as lambs among wolves.
3. as lambs] ‘as sheep,’ Matthew 10:16 (of the Twelve). The slight variation must not be pressed. The impression meant to be conveyed is merely that of simplicity and defencelessness. A tradition, as old as Clemens Romanus, tells us that St Peter had asked (on the previous occasion), ‘But how then if the wolves should tear the lambs?’ and that Jesus replied, ‘Let not the lambs fear the wolves when the lambs are once dead,’ and added the words in Matthew 10:28. There is no reason to doubt this interesting tradition, which may rank as one of the most certain of the ‘unwritten sayings’ (agrapha dogmata) of our Lord.

Carry neither purse, nor scrip, nor shoes: and salute no man by the way.
4. neither purse] Compare Luke 9:1-6, and notes; Matthew 10:1-42. St Luke uses the Greek balantion; St Mark the Oriental zonen ‘girdle.’

salute no man by the way] A common direction in cases of urgency (2 Kings 4:29), and partly explicable by the length and loitering elaborateness of Eastern greetings (Thomson, Land and Book, ii. 24).

And into whatsoever house ye enter, first say, Peace be to this house.
5. Peace be to this house] Adopted in our service for the Visitation of the Sick. God’s messengers should begin first with prayers for peace, not with objurgations. Bengel.

And if the son of peace be there, your peace shall rest upon it: if not, it shall turn to you again.
6. the son of peace] Rather, a son of peace, i.e. a man of peaceful heart. Comp. for the phrase Luke 16:8, Luke 20:36; John 17:12; Ephesians 5:6; Ephesians 5:8.

it shall turn to you again] Matthew 10:13. “My prayer returned into mine own bosom,” Psalm 35:13.

And in the same house remain, eating and drinking such things as they give: for the labourer is worthy of his hire. Go not from house to house.
7. eating and drinking such things as they give] As a plain right. 1 Corinthians 9:4; 1 Corinthians 9:7-11.

the labourer is worthy of his hire
] Referred to by St Paul, 1 Timothy 5:18. Doubtless he may have been aware that our Lord had used it, but the saying was probably proverbial.

And into whatsoever city ye enter, and they receive you, eat such things as are set before you:
And heal the sick that are therein, and say unto them, The kingdom of God is come nigh unto you.
9. The kingdom of God is come nigh unto you] So that our Lord’s last messages resembled His first preaching, Matthew 4:17.

But into whatsoever city ye enter, and they receive you not, go your ways out into the streets of the same, and say,
Even the very dust of your city, which cleaveth on us, we do wipe off against you: notwithstanding be ye sure of this, that the kingdom of God is come nigh unto you.
11. Even the very dust] Acts 13:49-51; Act 18:5-7.

But I say unto you, that it shall be more tolerable in that day for Sodom, than for that city.
12. more tolerable in that day for Sodom] The great principle which explains these words may be found in Luke 12:47-48 (compare Hebrews 2:2-3; Hebrews 10:28-29).

Woe unto thee, Chorazin! woe unto thee, Bethsaida! for if the mighty works had been done in Tyre and Sidon, which have been done in you, they had a great while ago repented, sitting in sackcloth and ashes.
13. Woe unto thee, Chorazin] The mention of this town is very interesting because this is the only occasion (Matthew 11:21) on which the name occurs, and we are thus furnished with a very striking proof of the fragmentariness of the Gospels. The very site of Chorazin was long unknown. It has now been discovered at Keraseh, the ruins of an old town on a wady, two miles inland from Tel Hum (Capernaum). At a little distance these ruins look like mere rude heaps of basaltic stones.

Bethsaida] See on Luke 9:10.

mighty works] Literally, “powers.”

they had a great while ago repented
] like Nineveh (Jonah 3:5-10), “Surely had I sent thee unto them they would have hearkened unto thee,” Ezekiel 3:6; comp. James 4:17.

But it shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the judgment, than for you.
14. more the judgment] A very important verse as proving the ‘intermediate state’ (Hades) of human souls. The guilty inhabitants of these cities had received their temporal punishment (Genesis 19:24-25); but the final judgment was yet to come.

And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted to heaven, shalt be thrust down to hell.
15. And thou, Capernaum) Christ’s “own city.”

exalted to heaven] by inestimable spiritual privileges. “Admitted into a holier sanctuary, they were guilty of a deeper sacrilege.” A better reading is (for ὑψωθεῖσα) is μὴ ὑψωθήσῃ; “Shalt thou be exalted to heaven? Thou shalt be thrust down...!”

shalt be thrust dawn to hell) Rather, as far as Hades. When our Lord uttered this woe these cities on the shores of Gennesareth were bright and populous and prospering; now they are desolate heaps of ruins in a miserable land. The inhabitants who lived thirty years longer may have recalled these woes in the unspeakable horrors of slaughter and conflagration which the Romans then inflicted on them.

It is immediately after the celebrated description of the loveliness of the Plain of Gennesareth that Josephus goes on to tell of the shore strewn with wrecks and putrescent bodies, “insomuch that the misery was not only an object of commiseration to the Jews, but even to those that hated them and had been the authors of that misery,” Jos. B. J. III. 10, § 8. For fuller details see my Life of Christ, II. 101 sq.

He that heareth you heareth me; and he that despiseth you despiseth me; and he that despiseth me despiseth him that sent me.
16. despiseth) Literally, “setting at nought.” For comment on the verse see 1 Thessalonians 4:8; Matthew 18:5; John 12:44.

And the seventy returned again with joy, saying, Lord, even the devils are subject unto us through thy name.
17. returned again with joy] The success of their mission is more fully recorded than that of the Twelve.

the devils] Rather, the demons. They had been bidden (Luke 10:9) to “heal the sick;” but these are the only healings that they mention.

are subject] Rather, are being subjected.

And he said unto them, I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven.
18. I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven] Rather, I was observing Satan as lightning fallen from heaven, Isaiah 14:9-15. We find similar thoughts in John 16:11; John 12:31, “now shall the prince of this world be cast out;” 1 John 3:8; Hebrews 2:14.

Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you.
19. I give] Read, I have given, with א, B, C, L, &c.

power] Rather, the authority.

to tread on serpents and scorpions] Compare Mark 16:17-18. So far as the promise was literal, the only fact of the kind referred to in the

N. T. is Acts 28:3-5. In legend we have the story of St John saved from poison, which is represented in Christian art as a viper escaping from the cup (Jameson, Sacred and Legendary Art, I. 159). But it may be doubted whether the meaning was not predominantly spiritual as in Genesis 3:15; Romans 16:20; Psalm 91:13; Isaiah 11:8.

nothing shall by any means hurt you] Romans 8:28; Romans 8:39.

Notwithstanding in this rejoice not, that the spirits are subject unto you; but rather rejoice, because your names are written in heaven.
20. are written in heaven] Rather, have been recorded in the heavens (reading ἐγγέγραπται). On this ‘Book of God,’ or ‘Book of Life,’ see Exodus 32:32; Psalm 69:28; Daniel 12:1; Php 4:3; Hebrews 12:23; Revelation 13:8; Revelation 20:12; Revelation 21:27. It is the opposite to being “written in the earth,” Jeremiah 17:13.

In that hour Jesus rejoiced in spirit, and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes: even so, Father; for so it seemed good in thy sight.
21. rejoiced] Rather, exulted, a much stronger word, and most valuable as recording one element — the element of exultant joy—in the life of our Lord, on which the Evangelists so rarely touch as to have originated the legend, preserved in the spurious letter of P. Lentulus to the Senate, that He wept often, but that no one had ever seen Him smile.

I thank thee, O Father] Literally, “I make grateful acknowledgment to Thee .”

from the wise and prudent...unto babes
] Here we have the contrast between the ‘wisdom of the world,’ which is ‘foolishness with God,’ and the ‘foolishness of the world,’ which is ‘wisdom with God,’ on which St Paul also was fond of dwelling, 1 Corinthians 1:21; 1 Corinthians 1:26; 2 Corinthians 4:3-4; Romans 1:22. For similar passages in the Gospels see Matthew 16:17; Matthew 18:3-4.

unto babes] i.e. to all who have “the young lamb’s heart amid the full- grown flocks”—to all innocent childlike souls, such as are often those of the truly wise. Genius itself has been defined as “the heart of childhood taken up and matured into the power of manhood.”

All things are delivered to me of my Father: and no man knoweth who the Son is, but the Father; and who the Father is, but the Son, and he to whom the Son will reveal him.
22. All things are delivered to me of my Father] Rather, were delivered to me by, cf. Luke 20:14. This entire verse is one of those in which the teaching of the Synoptists (Matthew 28:18) comes into nearest resemblance to that of St John, which abounds in such passages (John 1:18; John 3:35; John 5:26-27; John 6:44; John 6:46; John 14:6-9; Joh 17:1-2; 1 John 5:20). In the same way we find this view assumed in St Paul’s earlier Epistles (e.g. 1 Corinthians 15:24; 1 Corinthians 15:27), and magnificently developed in the Epistles of the Captivity (Php 2:9; Ephesians 1:21-22).

And he turned him unto his disciples, and said privately, Blessed are the eyes which see the things that ye see:
23. Blessed are the eyes] Comp. Matthew 13:16.

For I tell you, that many prophets and kings have desired to see those things which ye see, and have not seen them; and to hear those things which ye hear, and have not heard them.
24. prophets and kings] e.g. Abraham, Genesis 20:7; Genesis 23:6; Jacob, Genesis 49:18; Balaam, Numbers 24:17; David, 2 Samuel 23:1-5.

and have not seen them] John 8:56; Ephesians 3:5-6; Hebrews 11:13.

“Save that each little voice in turn

Some glorious truth proclaims;

What sages would have died to learn,

Now taught by cottage dames.”


And, behold, a certain lawyer stood up, and tempted him, saying, Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?
25-37. The Parable of the Good Samaritan.

. a certain lawyer] A teacher of the Mosaic Law—differing little from a scribe, as the man is called in Mark 12:28. The same person may have had both functions—that of preserving and that of expounding the Law.

tempted him] Literally, “putting Him fully to the test” (Luke 4:12); but the purpose does not seem to have been so deliberately hostile as in Luke 11:54.

what shall I do to inherit eternal life?] See Luke 18:18, and the answer there also given. It is interesting to compare it with the answer given by St Paul after the Ascension, Acts 16:30-31.

He said unto him, What is written in the law? how readest thou?
26. how readest thou?] The phrase resembled one in constant use among the Rabbis, and the lawyer deserved to get no other answer because his question was not sincere. The very meaning and mission of his life was to teach this answer.

And he answering said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself.
27. Thou shalt love the Lord thy God] This was the summary of the Law in Deuteronomy 6:5; Deuteronomy 10:12; Leviticus 19:18.

and thy neighbour as thyself] Hillel had given this part of the answer to an enquirer who similarly came to put him to the test, and as far as it went, it was a right answer (Romans 13:9; Galatians 5:13-14; James 2:8); but it became futile if left to stand alone, without the first Commandment.

And he said unto him, Thou hast answered right: this do, and thou shalt live.
28. Thou hast answered right] “If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted?” Genesis 4:7; “which if a man do, he shall live in them,” Leviticus 18:5; Romans 10:5; but see Galatians 3:21-22.

this do] As the passage from Deuteronomy was one of those inscribed in the phylacteries (little leather boxes containing four texts in their compartments), which the scribe wore on his forehead and wrist, it is an ingenious conjecture that our Lord, as He spoke, pointed to one of these.

But he, willing to justify himself, said unto Jesus, And who is my neighbour?
29. willing to justify himself] “before men”—a thing which the Pharisees were ever prone to do, Luke 16:15.

who is my neighbour?] He wants his moral duties to be labelled and defined with the Talmudic precision to which ceremonial duties had been reduced.

And Jesus answering said, A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, which stripped him of his raiment, and wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead.
30. A certain man] Clearly, as the tenor of the Parable implies, a Jew.

went down from Jerusalem to Jericho] A rocky, dangerous gorge (Jos. B. J. IV. 8, § 3), haunted by marauding Bedawin, and known as ‘the bloody way’ (Adommim, Jerome, De loc. Hebr. and on Jeremiah 3:2). The “went down” is strictly accurate, for the road descends very rapidly from Jerusalem to the Jordan valley. The distance is about 21 miles. For Jericho, see Luke 19:1.

thieves] Rather, “robbers,” “brigands.” Palestine was notorious for these plundering Arabs. Herod the Great had rendered real service to the country in extirpating them from their haunts, but they constantly sprung up again, and even the Romans could not effectually put them down (Jos. Antt. Luke 20:6, § 1; B. J. xi. 12, § 5). On this very road an English baronet—Sir Frederic Henniker—was stripped and murdered by Arab robbers in 1820. “He was probably thinking of the Parable of the Samaritan when the assassin’s stroke laid him low,” Porter’s Palestine, I. 151.

wounded him] Rather, laying blows on him.

half dead] Some MSS. omit the τυγχάνοντα, ‘chancing to be still alive.’ So far as the robbers were concerned, it was a mere accident that any life was left in him.

And by chance there came down a certain priest that way: and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side.
31. by chance] Rather, by coincidence, i.e. at the same time. The word ‘chance’ (τύχη) does not occur in Scripture. The nearest approach to it is the participle τυχὸν in 1 Corinthians 15:37 (if τυγχάνοντα be omitted in Luke 10:30). Chance, to the sacred writers, as to the most thoughtful of the Greeks, is ‘the daughter of Forethought;’ is “God’s unseen Providence, by men nicknamed Chance” (Fuller). “Many good opportunities work under things which seem fortuitous.” Bengel.

a certain priest] His official duties at Jerusalem were over, and he was on his way back to his home in the priestly city of Jericho. Perhaps the uselessness of his external service is implied. In superstitious attention to the letter, he was wholly blind to the spirit, Deuteronomy 22:1-4. See 1 John 3:17. He was selfishly afraid of risk, trouble, and ceremonial defilement, and, since no one was there to know of his conduct, he was thus led to neglect the traditional kindness of Jews towards their own countrymen (Tac. Hist. v. 5, Juv. xiv. 103, 104), as well as the positive rules of the Law (Deuteronomy 22:4) and the Prophets (Isaiah 58:7).

that way] Rather, on that road. It is emphatically mentioned, because there was another road to Jericho which was safe and therefore more frequently used.

And likewise a Levite, when he was at the place, came and looked on him, and passed by on the other side.
32. came and looked on him] This vivid touch shews us the cold curiosity of the Levite, which was even baser than the dainty neglect of the Priest. Perhaps the Priest had been aware that a Levite was behind him, and left the trouble to him: and perhaps the Levite said to himself that he need not do what the priest had not thought fit to do.

By choosing Galatians 3:16-23 as the Epistle to be read with this Gospel (13th Sunday after Trinity) the Church indicates her view that this Parable implies the failure of the Jewish Priesthood and Law to pity or remove the misery and sin of man.

But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he had compassion on him,
33. a certain Samaritan] A Samaritan is thus selected for high eulogy—though the Samaritans had so ignominiously rejected Jesus (Luke 9:53)-

as he journeyed] He was not ‘coming down* as the Priest and Levite were from the Holy City and the Temple, but from the unauthorised worship of alien Gerizim.

had compassion on him] Thereby shewing himself, in spite of his heresy and ignorance, a better man than the orthodox Priest and Levite; and all the more so because he was an ‘alien’ (see on Luke 17:18), and “the Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans” (John 4:9), and this very wounded man would, under other circumstances, have shrunk from the touch of the Samaritan as from pollution. Yet this ‘Cuthaean’—this ‘worshipper of the pigeon’—this man of a race which was accused of misleading the Jews by false fire signals, and of defiling the Temple with human bones—whose testimony would not have been admitted in a Jewish court of law—with whom no Jew would so much as eat (Jos. Antt. xx. 6, § 1, xviii. 2, § 2;B. J. ii. 12, § 3)—shews a spontaneous and perfect pity of which neither Priest nor Levite had been remotely capable. The fact that the Jews had applied to our Lord Himself the opprobrious name of “Samaritan” (John 8:48) is one of the indications that a deeper meaning lies under the beautiful obvious significance of the Parable.

And went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him.
34. pouring in oil and wine] The ordinary remedies of the day. Isaiah 1:6; Mark 6:13; James 5:14. See Excursus VII.

set him on his own beast] The word implies the labour of ‘lifting him up,’ and then the good Samaritan walked by his side.

brought him to an inn] Pandocheion. See on Luke 2:7. There the word is kataluma, a mere khan or caravanserai. Perhaps this inn was at Bahurim. In this and the next verse a word or two suffices to shew the Samaritan’s sympathy, helpfulness, self-denial, generosity, and perseverance in kindliness.

And on the morrow when he departed, he took out two pence, and gave them to the host, and said unto him, Take care of him; and whatsoever thou spendest more, when I come again, I will repay thee.
35. took out] Literally, “throwing out” of his girdle.

two pence] i.e. two denarii; enough to pay for the man for some days. The Parable lends itself to the broader meaning which sees the state of mankind wounded by evil passions and spiritual enemies; left unhelped by systems of sacrifice and ceremonial (Galatians 3:21); pitied and redeemed by Christ (Isaiah 61:1), and left to be provided for until His return by spiritual ministrations in the Church. But to see in the “two pence” any specific allusion to the Old and New Testaments, or to ‘the two sacraments,’ is to push to extravagance the elaboration of details.

to the host] The word occurs here only in the N. T., and the fact that in the Talmud the Greek word for ‘an inn with a host’ is adopted, seems to shew that the institution had come in with Greek customs. In earlier and simpler days the open hospitality of the East excluded the necessity for anything but ordinary khans.

Which now of these three, thinkest thou, was neighbour unto him that fell among the thieves?
And he said, He that shewed mercy on him. Then said Jesus unto him, Go, and do thou likewise.
37. He that shewed mercy on him] Rather, the pity. By this poor periphrasis the lawyer avoids the shock to his own prejudices, which would have been involved in the hated word, ‘the Samaritan.’ “He will not name the Samaritan by name, the haughty hypocrite.” Luther.

Go, and do thou likewise] The general lesson is that of the Sermon on the Mount, Matthew 5:44.

Now it came to pass, as they went, that he entered into a certain village: and a certain woman named Martha received him into her house.
38-42. The Sisters of Bethany.

. into a certain village] Undoubtedly Bethany, John 11:1. Both this and the expression “a certain woman” are obvious traces of a tendency to reticence about the family of Bethany which we find in the Synoptists (Matthew 26:6; Mark 14:3). It was doubtless due to the danger which the family incurred from their residing in the close vicinity of Jerusalem, and therefore of “the Jews,” as St John always calls the Pharisees, Priests, and ruling classes who opposed our Lord.

By the time that St John wrote, after the destruction of Jerusalem, all need for such reticence was over. It is mere matter of conjecture whether ‘Simon the leper’ was the father of the family, or whether Martha was his widow; nor can Lazarus be identified with the gentle and holy Rabbi Eliezer of the Talmud. This narrative clearly belongs to a period just before the winter Feast of Dedication, because Bethany is close to Jerusalem. Its introduction at this point by St Luke (who alone preserves it, see Introd. p. 27) is due to subjective grouping, and probably to the question “what shall I do?” Luke 10:25.

And she had a sister called Mary, which also sat at Jesus' feet, and heard his word.
39. which also sat at Jesus feet] The “also” shews that Mary too, in her way, was no less anxious to give Jesus a fitting reception. Here, in one or two lines, we have a most clear sketch of the contrasted character of the two sisters, far too subtly and indirectly accordant with what we learn of them in St John to be due to anything but the harmony of truth. This is one of the incidents in which the Evangelist shews such consummate psychologic skill and insight that he is enabled by a few touches to set before us the most distinct types of character.

and heard his word] Rather, was listening to His discourse.

But Martha was cumbered about much serving, and came to him, and said, Lord, dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? bid her therefore that she help me.
40. cumbered about much serving] The word for “cumbered” literally means ‘was being dragged in different directions,’ i.e. was distracted (1 Corinthians 7:35). She was anxious to give her Lord a most hospitable reception, and was vexed at the contemplative humility which she regarded as slothfulness.

came to him] Rather, but suddenly coming up (Luke 20:1; Acts 23:27). We see in this inimitable touch the little petulant outburst of jealousy in the loving, busy matron, as she hurried in with the words, “Why is Mary sitting there doing nothing?”

left me] The Greek word means ‘left me alone in the middle of my work’ to come and listen to you.

bid her therefore that she help me] We almost seem to hear the undertone of ‘It is no use for me to tell her.’ Doubtless, had she been less ‘fretted’ (θορυβάζῃ), she would have felt that to leave her. alone and withdraw into the background while this eager hospitality was going on was the kindest and most unselfish thing which Mary could do.

And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things:
41. Martha, Martha] The repeated name adds additional tenderness to the rebuke, as in Luke 22:31; Acts 9:4.

thou art careful and troubled about many things] “I would have you without carefulness,” 1 Corinthians 7:32; Matthew 6:25. The words literally mean, ‘Thou art anxious and bustling.’ Her inward solicitude was shewing itself in outward hastiness.

but one thing is needful
] The context should sufficiently have excluded the very bald, commonplace, and unspiritual meaning which has been attached to this verse,—that only one dish was requisite. Clearly the lesson conveyed is the same as in Matthew 6:33; Matthew 16:26, even if our Lord’s first reference was the lower one. The various readings ‘but there is need of few things,’ or ‘of few things or of one’ (א, B, various versions, &c.) seem to have risen from the notion that even for the simplest meal more than one dish would be required. This, however, is not the case in the simple meals of the East.

that good part] Rather, portion (as of a banquet, Genesis 43:34, LXX.; John 6:27) or inheritance, Psalm 73:26. ἥτις = quippe quae. The nature of the portion is such that, &c.

which shall not be taken away from her] To speak of such theological questions as ‘indefectible grace’ here, is to use the narrative otherwise than was intended. The general meaning is that of Php 1:6; 1 Peter 1:5. It has been usual with Roman Catholic and other writers to see in Martha the type of the active, and in Mary of the contemplative disposition, and to exalt one above the other. This is not the point of the narrative, for both may and ought to be combined as in St Paul and in St John. The gentle reproof to Martha is aimed not at her hospitable activity, but at the ‘fret and fuss,’ the absence of repose and calm, by which it was accompanied; and above all, at the tendency to reprobate and interfere with excellence of a different kind.

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