Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges
And it came to pass, that on one of those days, as he taught the people in the temple, and preached the gospel, the chief priests and the scribes came upon him with the elders,Luke 20:1-8. Sudden Question of the Priests and Scribes.
1. on one of those days] ‘Those’ is omitted in א, B, D, L, Q.
By careful comparison of the Evangelists we find that after the Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, our Lord was received in the Temple by the children—probably those engaged in the Choral Service of the Temple—with shouts of Hosanna, which again called forth the embittered rebuke of the priests. These rebukes He silenced by a reference to Psalm 8:2. Then came the message brought to Him by Andrew and Philip from the Greek enquirers (supposed by some to have been sent by Abgarus V., King of Edessa), and the Voice from Heaven. After this he retired privately from the Temple, and bivouacked (ηὐλίσθη) for the night on the Mount of Olives (John 12:20-25; Matthew 21:17). Next morning—Monday in Passion Week—occurred the incident of the Fruitless Figtree (Matthew 21:18-19), and it was after this that our Lord entered the Temple. This Monday in Passion week may be called a Day of Parables, since on it were uttered the Parables of the Two Sons (Matthew 21:28-32); the Rebellious Husbandmen (Luke 20:9-16); the Rejected Cornerstone (Luke 20:17-18); and the Marriage of the King’s Son (Matthew 22:1-14).
preached the gospel] euangelizomenou, Luke 3:18, Luke 4:43, &c. This beautiful word is almost confined to St Luke, who uses it twenty-five times, and St Paul, who uses it twenty times.
the chief priests and the scribes] The chief priests were the heads of the twenty-four courses. It was probably the humble triumph of Palm Sunday, and the intense excitement produced in the city (ἐσείσθη) by the arrival of Jesus (Matthew 21:10), which first awoke the active jealousy of the chief priests of Jerusalem, who were wealthy Sadducees in alliance with the Herodians, and who had hitherto despised Jesus as only a ‘Prophet of Nazareth.’ From this period of the narrative, the hostility of the Pharisees, as such, is much less marked. Indeed they would have sympathised with the cleansing of the Temple, which involved a terrible reflexion on the greed and neglect of the hierarchic party.
came upon him] The word implies a sudden and hostile demonstration (Acts 23:27; Acts 4:1; Acts 6:12). They thus surrounded Him while He was walking in the Temple (Mark 11:27).
with the elders] There were probably three great sections of the Sanhedrin: 1, Priests; 2, Scribes and Rabbis (Sopherim, Tanaim, &c.); and 3, Levites. Derenbourg, Pal. ch. 6:
And spake unto him, saying, Tell us, by what authority doest thou these things? or who is he that gave thee this authority?2. by what authority] Rather, by what kind of authority. The implication is ‘you are only called a Rabbi by courtesyyou are not a ‘pupil of the wise you are not a priest, or a scribe, or a political functionary. Yet you usurp functions which rather belong to Caiaphas, or the President of the Sanhedrin, or the Romans, or Herod. If you act as a Prophet shew us a sign. Practically it was the old taunt by which he had been grieved in Galilee (Matthew 12:39; Matthew 16:4).
who is he that gave thee this authority?] Every recognised Rabbi had received his diploma; every Priest his ordination.
And he answered and said unto them, I will also ask you one thing; and answer me:3. I will also ask you one thing] Rather, a question. The divine readiness and (if we may be allowed the expression) presence of mind of Jesus was most conspicuously shewn on this perilous day and the next day.
and answer me] We see from St Mark (Luke 11:30) that this emphatic expression came after His question—as though to hasten their delay, and break up a whispered colloquy of perplexity.
The baptism of John, was it from heaven, or of men?4. was it from heaven, or of men?] Rather, from men. This was equivalent to the question—with which surely the teachers of Israel should at once have been provided with an answer—was the Baptist a prophet or a seducer? If they could not answer this question they were obviously incompetent to decide as to the authority by which He worked.
And they reasoned with themselves, saying, If we shall say, From heaven; he will say, Why then believed ye him not?5. they reasoned with themselves] They went aside to discuss together what answer they should give. This deliberation rendered their confession of ignorance more glaring and more fatal to their claims.
Why then believed ye him not?] See Luke 7:30. It never occurred to them to speak with the courage of their convictions.
But and if we say, Of men; all the people will stone us: for they be persuaded that John was a prophet.6. all the people will stone us] The word is a strong compound— katalithasei—used here only—‘will stone us to death. Herod had been daunted by the same dread, Matthew 14:5; Jos. Antt. xviii. 5, § 2. It illustrates the furious bursts of fanaticism to which the Jews were liable (John 8:59; John 10:31, &c.).
persuaded] Rather, firmly convinced. The tense implies an unalterable conclusion.
And they answered, that they could not tell whence it was.7. they could not tell] Rather, did not know. A wise answer in cases of real uncertainty, as the Hebrew proverb taught—“Learn to say I do not know;” but a base answer when they had an opinion but did not dare to avow it; and doubly base in the matter of a question on which it was their plain duty to have arrived at a judgment. To be reduced to this ignominious necessity of confessing ignorance (though “we know” was one of their favourite phrases, John 9:24, &c.) was a public humiliation which they had brought upon themselves.
And Jesus said unto them, Neither tell I you by what authority I do these things.8. Neither tell I you] If they were incompetent to decide as to the authority of the Prophet who had saluted Jesus as the Messiah, they were obviously incompetent to decide as to His authority.
Then began he to speak to the people this parable; A certain man planted a vineyard, and let it forth to husbandmen, and went into a far country for a long time.9-19. The Parable of the Labourers in the Vineyard.
9. to the people] but still in the hearing of the priests and scribes who had only withdrawn a little into the background (Luke 20:19; Matthew 21:32; Matthew 21:45). St Luke here omits the Parable of the Two Sons (Matthew 21:28-32), in which, as in this Parable, the hidden meaning—applicable in the first instance to Pharisees and the people, and in the second to Jews and Gentiles—was hardly veiled.
a vineyard] As in Isaiah 5:1-7; Psalms 80; Ezekiel 15:1-6; Jeremiah 2:21. St Luke omits the special isolation, &c. of the vineyard. Vines, grapes, and vineleaves were symbols of Palestine, on the coins of the Maccabees.
to husbandmen] namely, (1) the Jewish nation; (2) their rulers and teachers.
for a long time] The nearly two thousand years of Jewish History. Comp. Matthew 25:19. In this long time they learnt to say “the Lord hath forsaken the earth,” Ezekiel 8:12; Psalm 10:5.
And at the season he sent a servant to the husbandmen, that they should give him of the fruit of the vineyard: but the husbandmen beat him, and sent him away empty.10. he sent a servant] The various ‘servants’ are the Judges, the better Priests, and the Prophets.
that they should give him of the fruit] The payment is in kind, on the mitayer system.
And again he sent another servant: and they beat him also, and entreated him shamefully, and sent him away empty.11. And again he sent another] Jeremiah 44:4. Literally, “And he added to send another”—a Hebraism, Luke 19:11; Acts 12:3; Genesis 4:2entreated him shamefully] There is a gradation in their impious audacity. In St Matthew (Matthew 21:35) it is (1) beat, (2) killed, (3) stoned. In St Mark (Luke 12:3-5) it is (1) beat, and sent away empty; (2) wounded in the head, and insulted; (3) killed. And when more servants are sent they beat some and kill some.
And again he sent a third: and they wounded him also, and cast him out.12. cast him out] On this treatment of God’s messengers see on Luke 13:33-34 and Nehemiah 9:26; 1 Kings 22:24-27; 2 Chronicles 24:19-22; Acts 7:52; 1 Thessalonians 2:15; Hebrews 11:36-37, where the same charge is reiterated.
Then said the lord of the vineyard, What shall I do? I will send my beloved son: it may be they will reverence him when they see him.13. What shall I do?] Genesis 1:26; Genesis 6:7.
I will send my beloved son] who “took on Him the form of a servant.” Our Lord’s teaching respecting His own divine dignity advanced in distinctness as the end was approaching.
it may be] Literally, “perhaps.” It occurs here alone in the N. T. and once only in the LXX., 1 Samuel 25:21 (Heb. E. V. ‘surely’). This ‘perhaps’ belongs of course only to the parable, but it (i) indicates their free will, and (ii) enhances their awful crime to represent it as having seemed all but inconceivable.
when they see him] Omitted in א, B, C, D, L, Q.
But when the husbandmen saw him, they reasoned among themselves, saying, This is the heir: come, let us kill him, that the inheritance may be ours.14. that the inheritance may be ours] “His Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things,” Hebrews 1:2. Comp. John 11:47-53. “They killed that they might possess, and because they killed they lost.” Aug.
So they cast him out of the vineyard, and killed him. What therefore shall the lord of the vineyard do unto them?15. cast him out of the vineyard] This may involve an allusion to Christ suffering “without the gate,” Hebrews 13:12-13; John 19:17. The prophecy was meant if possible at the last hour to prevent the guilt of its own fulfilment (2 Kings 8:12-13).
He shall come and destroy these husbandmen, and shall give the vineyard to others. And when they heard it, they said, God forbid.16. He shall come and destroy] In Matthew 21:41 this is the answer of the people themselves to our Lord’s question.
shall give the vineyard to others] “Lo, we turn to the Gentiles,” Acts 13:46.
God forbid] Literally, “Might it not be!” Heb. Chalilah. In this utterance we hear the groan oi the Jewish people when the truth that they were indeed to be rejected burst upon them. It woke an echo even in the heart of the Apostle of the Gentiles. For the Hebrew expression Chalilah see Genesis 44:7; Genesis 44:17; Joshua 22:29. It occurs ten times in the Epistle to the Romans alone. See Life of St Paul, 11. 206. It is the opposite of Amen, but occurs here alone in the Gospels.
And he beheld them, and said, What is this then that is written, The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner?17. he beheld them] Rather, looking fixedly on them, to add solemnity to His reference to their own Scriptures.
that is written] He here refers them to the very Psalm from which the Hosanna of the multitude had been taken.
The stone which the builders rejected] This is a quotation from Psalm 118:22, comp. Isaiah 28:16. The stone is regarded both as a foundation-stone, and a stone at the angle of the building, binding the two walls together. These words made a deep impression on St Peter (1 Peter 2:7-8).
Whosoever shall fall upon that stone shall be broken; but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder.18. shall fall upon that stone] as the Jews did from the first, 1 Corinthians 1:23. See Isaiah 8:14-15.
shall be broken] Literally, “shall be sorely bruised.”
it shall fall] as it did on the finally impenitent Jews after Christ’s Ascension.
it will grind him to powder] Literally, “it shall winnow him” (Jeremiah 31:10), with obvious reference to the great Image which ‘the stone cut without hands’ smote and broke to pieces, so that its fragments became “like the chaff of the summer threshingfloor, and the wind carried them away,” Daniel 2:35.
And the chief priests and the scribes the same hour sought to lay hands on him; and they feared the people: for they perceived that he had spoken this parable against them.19. against them] This decidedly shews the primary sense of the Parable. As yet they hardly realized its wider significance. So when the priests and rulers saw that Jeremiah spoke against them, “Come,” said they, “and let us devise devices against Jeremiah...come, and let us smite him with the tongue,” Jeremiah 18:18.
After this parable our Lord added the Parable of the Marriage of the King’s Son. Thus in three continuous Parables He convicted the Priests and Scribes (1) of false professions; (2) of cruel faithlessness; (3) of blind presumption. This with their public humiliation about John’s baptism made them thirst for speedy vengeance.
And they watched him, and sent forth spies, which should feign themselves just men, that they might take hold of his words, that so they might deliver him unto the power and authority of the governor.20-26. Question about the Tribute Money.
20. And they watched him.] For the word used see Luke 6:7; Luke 14:1, Luke 17:20. The incident now related took place on the Tuesday in Passion-week—the Day of Temptations, or insidious questions—the last and greatest day of the public ministry of Jesus. On the previous evening He had again retired to the Mount of Olives, and in the morning the disciples remarked that the Fig-tree had withered. He had scarcely arrived in the Temple when the plot of the Jewish rulers on the previous evening began to be carried out.
spies] Literally, “tiers in wait” (enkathetous, Joshua 8:14; Job 31:9). just men] Rather, righteous; ingenuous and scrupulous ‘disciples of the wise,’ honestly seeking for instruction. They pretend to be strict legalists who revive the scruples of Judas the Gaulonite.
they] i.e. the priests.
take hold of his words] Comp. Sir 8:11, “Rise not up in anger at the presence of an injurious person, lest he lie in wait to entrap thee in thy words.” The words might be rendered ‘take hold of Him by His speech.’
unto the power and authority of the governor] Rather, to the (Roman) magistracy and to the jurisdiction of the procurator. Comp. Luke 12:11. They had not the power or the courage to put Christ to death themselves. We see from Matthew 22:15; Mark 12:16 that this plot sprang from an unholy alliance of Pharisees with Herodians— i.e. of scrupulosity with indifferentism—of devotees with sycophants;— not the first or last instance of the ill-omened conjunction of Priests and Statesmen—
“Statesmen bloodstained and Priests idolatrous
With dark lies maddening the blind multitude—”
who mutually hate each other, but unite in common hatred “to crush a reformer whose zeal might be inimical to both.” (Neander.)
And they asked him, saying, Master, we know that thou sayest and teachest rightly, neither acceptest thou the person of any, but teachest the way of God truly:21. Master, we know, &c.] There is something in this fawning malice, and treacherous flattery, almost as repulsive as the kiss of Judas.
neither acceptest thou the person of any] Galatians 2:6. The word for ‘person’ is prosopon, ‘a maskit is as though they would imply that Jesus was not only an Impartial Judge, too true for sycophancy, but also too keen-sighted to be deceived by hypocrisy. And the one blighting word ‘Ye hypocrites!’ shewed them that their words were truer than they had intended. From the phrase lambaneis prosopon are formed the words prosopolemptes and prosopolempsia; see Ephesians 6:9; Colossians 3:25; Acts 10:34, &c. It is a Hebrew phrase, Leviticus 19:15; Malachi 1:8.
Is it lawful for us to give tribute unto Caesar, or no?22. is it lawful for us to give tribute unto Cesar, or no?] The question was devised with so superlative a craft that it seemed impossible for our Lord to escape. If He said ‘It is lawful,’ the Pharisees hoped at once to undermine His popularity with the multitude. If He said ‘It is not lawful’ (Deuteronomy 17:15), the Herodians could at once hand Him over, as a traitor, to the secular power. For ‘tribute’ each Evangelist uses a different word—epikephalaion, ‘poll-tax’ (Mark in D); the Latin kenson ‘census’ (Matt.); and the classical phoron here and Luke 23:2. It was a capitation-tax, the legality of which was indignantly disputed by scrupulous legalists.
craftiness] panourgian, a classical word only found in St Paul and St Luke, 2 Corinthians 4:2; 2 Corinthians 11:3, &c.
But he perceived their craftiness, and said unto them, Why tempt ye me?23. Why tempt ye mey &c.] Our Lord saw at once that it was a cunning test-question meant only to entrap Him. Not for a moment did these fawning spies deceive him though
“Neither man nor angel can discern
Hypocrisy, the only evil that walks
Invisible, except to God alone.”
These Pharisees were illustrating the truth that “no form of self-deceit is more hateful than that which veils spite and falsehood under the guise of frankness, and behind the profession of religion.”
Shew me a penny. Whose image and superscription hath it? They answered and said, Caesar's.24. Shew me a penny] A denarius. See on Luke 7:41. We see from Mark 12:15-16 that they were obliged to borrow the heathen coin from one of the tables of the money-changers. They would only carry Jewish money in their own girdles.
Whose image and superscription hath it?] On one side would be the once beautiful but now depraved features of Tiberius; the title Pontifex Maximus was probably inscribed on the obverse.
And he said unto them, Render therefore unto Caesar the things which be Caesar's, and unto God the things which be God's.25. unto Cesar the things which be Cesar’s] St Paul very clearly enforces the same duty in Romans 13:6-7. The ‘tribute’ in Matthew 17.
24 was quite different; it was the Temple didrachma.
and unto God the things which be God’s] To Caesar you owe what he demands of his own coinage; to the Temple the tribute which you can only pay in the shekel of the sanctuary; to God you owe yourselves. Pay to Caesar the coins which bear his stamp, to God the duties of your own souls which bear His image.
And they could not take hold of his words before the people: and they marvelled at his answer, and held their peace.26. they marvelled at his answer] Comp. Luke 2:47. They thought that escape was impossible for Him; and yet He instantly shatters their deeply-laid plot to pieces by shewing that they—Pharisees and Herodians alike—had absolutely decided the question already (according to their own rule “He whose coin is current is king of the land”), so that there is no need for Him to give any opinion whatever about it. The point was this,—their national acceptance of Caesar’s coinage was an unanswerable admission of Caesar’s right. Tribute to them was no longer a cheerful offering, but a legal due; not a voluntary gift, but a political necessity. The very word He used was decisive. They had asked “Is it lawful to give (dounai)?” He answers, ‘Give back’ (apodote). By using these coins they all alike admitted that ‘they had no king but Caesar.’ The Christians understood the principle perfectly (1 Peter 2:13-14) as the ancient Jews had done (Jeremiah 27:4-8). Yet these hypocrites dared to shout three days afterwards that Jesus ‘had forbidden to give tribute to Caesar!’
Then came to him certain of the Sadducees, which deny that there is any resurrection; and they asked him,27-40. Discomfiture of the Sadducees.
27. certain of the Sadducees] Matthew 3:7. On the Sadducees see the Excursus on Jewish Sects. They were undeterred by the discomfiture of the Pharisees and Herodians, and perhaps their plot had been so arranged as coincidently to humiliate our Lord, if they could, by a difficult question, and so to shake His credit with the people. Some have supposed that the memorable incident of the Woman taken in Adultery (John 8:1-11) also took place on this day; in which case there would have been three temptations of Christ, one political, one doctrinal, and one speculative. But that incident rose spontaneously, whereas these had been pre-arranged.
which deny that there is any resurrection] Jos. Antt. xviii. 1, § 4; B. J. ii. 8, § 14. They refused to see any proof of it in the Books of Moses; and to the Prophets and the other books (the Ketubhim or Hagiographa) they only attached a subordinate importance. Their question was inspired less by deadly hatred than by supercilious scorn. Wealthy and powerful, they only professed to despise Jesus, up to this time, as a ‘Prophet of Nazareth,’ though now they became His main murderers. They are not so much as mentioned by St John, and very slightly by St Mark and St Luke, nor did Christ utter against them the same denunciations as against the Pharisees, who were His daily opponents. All the leading families of high priests at this period were Sadducees, and—except where it comes into direct collision with religion—Epicurean worldliness is more tolerant than interested fanaticism.
Saying, Master, Moses wrote unto us, If any man's brother die, having a wife, and he die without children, that his brother should take his wife, and raise up seed unto his brother.28. Moses wrote unto us] The law of levirate marriage. Deuteronomy 23:4. See on Luke 3:23.
There were therefore seven brethren: and the first took a wife, and died without children.29. There were therefore seven brethren] In Matthew 22:25 it runs “there were with us,” as though they were alluding to an actual case.
And the second took her to wife, and he died childless.30. And the second took her] This question about the husband of the “Sevenfold widow” was one of the materialistic objections to the Resurrection, which as an insipid ‘difficulty’ had often been discussed in Jewish schools. It was excessively commonplace, and even if Jesus had given the answer which contented the most eminent Rabbis of the Pharisaic schools—that the woman would be the wife of the first husband—it is hard to see what triumph these shallow Epicureans (as the Talmud calls them) would have gained by their question.
And the third took her; and in like manner the seven also: and they left no children, and died.31. whose wife?] The forcible order of B, L is “the woman, therefore, in the resurrection, whose wife does she become of the seven?”
for seven] Rather, for the seven.
Last of all the woman died also.32. The children of this world] i.e. all who live in the present dispensation. Here, as often elsewhere, the word rendered ‘world’ is aeon, which properly means ‘age.’ It is not the kosmos or material Universe, but the Universe regarded subjectively, i.e. the Time-world.
Therefore in the resurrection whose wife of them is she? for seven had her to wife.33. accounted worthy] Comp. Luke 21:36; Revelation 3:4; 2 Thessalonians 1:5. Sane magna dignatio. Bengel.
to obtain that world] i.e. the genuine inheritors of the future aeon beyond the grave, Luke 14:14; Php 3:11. The answer of Jesus is not only full of tolerant condescension, but also of a divine wisdom which at once dwarfs into insignificance the most vaunted insight of the Rabbinic Hillels and Shammais. It is further most important, as being one of the very few passages which give us a clear glimpse into the actual conditions of future blessedness. These Sadducees erred because, in their ignorance of the Scriptures and the power of God (Mark 12:24), they were imagining a kingdom which could be inherited by “flesh and blood.”
And Jesus answering said unto them, The children of this world marry, and are given in marriage:34. neither can they die any more] Rather, for neither, &c. There is no marriage and no more birth. “There shall be no more death,” Revelation 21:4. “The dead shall be raised incorruptible,” 1 Corinthians 15:52.
equal unto the angels] Like the angels in being immortal, but superior to them in privileges (Hebrews 1:4; Hebrews 2:5-8). “When He shall appear, we shall be like Him; for we shall see Him as He is,” 1 John 3:2. In this one word our Lord refutes the Sadducean denial of the existence of angels, Acts 23:8; and incidentally those material notions of future bliss (Luke 14:15) which all the Jews held.
the children of God, being the children of the resurrection] “I am the resurrection, and the life,” John 11:25.
But they which shall be accounted worthy to obtain that world, and the resurrection from the dead, neither marry, nor are given in marriage:
Neither can they die any more: for they are equal unto the angels; and are the children of God, being the children of the resurrection.
Now that the dead are raised, even Moses shewed at the bush, when he calleth the Lord the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.37. are raised] Literally, “are being raised”—the present of eternal certainty.
even Moses] The argument is d fortiori, as though our Lord would say, “the Prophets prove it abundantly, but I will not quote them since you attach higher importance to the Law. You quote Moses to throw doubt on the Resurrection; but even Moses, &c.”
shewed] Rather, disclosed, or revealed.
at the bush] Rather, in the Bush, i.e. in that section of Exodus (Exodus 3) which they called by that name, just as they called 2 Samuel 1. ‘the Bow’ and Ezekiel 1 ‘the Chariot.’ Comp, “in Elias,” Romans 11:2 (marg.).
For he is not a God of the dead, but of the living: for all live unto him.38. he is not a God of the dead, but of the living] Rather, of dead beings, but of living beings. The Pharisees had endeavoured to draw proofs of immortality from the Law, i.e. from Numbers 15:31. In later times they borrowed this proof from Christ,—lighting their torches at the sun though they hated its beams. But they had, up to this time, offered no proof so deep and true as this. The argument is that God would never have called Himself “the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob,” if these Patriarchs, after brief and sad lives, had become mere heaps of crumbling dust. Would He have given confidence by calling Himself the God of dust and ashes? So Josephus (?) says, 4Ma 16:24, “they who die for God’s sake, live unto God as Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and all the Patriarchs.” Acts 17:28.
for all live unto him] Romans 14:8-9. Our Lord added, “Ye therefore do greatly err.” But how incomparably less severe is the condemnation of religious and intellectual error, than the burning rebuke against Pharisaic lovelessness !
Then certain of the scribes answering said, Master, thou hast well said.39. Then certain of the scribes] Even the Pharisees could not fail to see the luminous wisdom and spiritual depth of our Lord’s reply, and while all of them would rejoice at this unanswerable confutation of their hereditary opponents, some of them would have the candour to express their approval. Truth will always offend some, but others will value it. After this grateful acknowledgment, however, one of them could not refrain from gratifying the insatiable spirit of casuistry by asking Christ ‘which is the great commandment of the Law?’ (Matthew 22:34-40; Mark 12:28-34.) This incident is omitted by St Luke, because he has given similar ones before.
And after that they durst not ask him any question at all.40. they durst not ask him any question] The total collapse of their stratagems enhanced our Lord’s peril, by shewing how impossible it was for these rich and learned “pupils of the wise” to pose themselves as superiors to Christ in wisdom and knowledge. Assumed contempt was deepened into real hatred, and all the more after the next incident.
And he said unto them, How say they that Christ is David's son?41-47. The Scribes, Sadducees, and Pharisees reduced to a Confession of Ignorance.
41. How say they that Christ is Davids son?] Rather, the Christ. See John 7:42; Psalm 132:11; Jeremiah 23:5; Micah 5:2.
And David himself saith in the book of Psalms, The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand,42. in the book of Psalms] Psalm 110:1. The Jews universally regarded it as a Messianic Psalm, and in Luke 20:3 the LXX. renders, “From the womb, before the morning star, did I beget thee.”
The Lord said to my Lord] In the Hebrew it is “Jehovah said to my Lord (Adonai).”
Sit thou on my right hand] Comp. Matthew 26:64.
Till I make thine enemies thy footstool.43. till I make thine enemies thy footstool] “He must reign till He hath put all enemies under His feet,” 1 Corinthians 15:25.
David therefore calleth him Lord, how is he then his son?44. how is he then his son?] To a Jew it was inconceivable that a father, or ancestor, should call his son “Lord.” The only possible solution—that the Messiah was only “made of the seed of David after the flesh” (Romans 1:3) was one which they had never chosen to accept. They, like the Ebionites, expected for their Messiah a mere ‘beloved man.’ And thus, for the second time on this day, they had drawn on their own heads, by their hypocritic craft, the humiliating necessity of publicly confessing their ignorance respecting matters of primary importance before the people, whose absolute reverence they claimed. They ‘did not know’ whether the Baptist was an Impostor or a Prophet; they ‘could not answer a word’ to a most obvious question as to the
Messianic hope which they put forward as the very centre of their religion ! Comp. Luke 14:6.
Then in the audience of all the people he said unto his disciples,45. in the audience of all the people] Rather, while all the people were listening. Here followed the final rupture of Jesus with the authorities—political, social, and religious—of His nation. They had now made their own condemnation inevitable, and had justly provoked that great Denunciation on which (as less intelligible to Gentiles) St Luke here only touches. But he has given it in part before (Luke 11:39-52) in his account of the hostile banquet at the house of a Pharisee. In St Matthew it occupies, with its rhythmic grandeur and awfully solemn condemnation, the whole of the twenty-third chapter.
Beware of the scribes, which desire to walk in long robes, and love greetings in the markets, and the highest seats in the synagogues, and the chief rooms at feasts;46. to walk in long robes] with special conspicuousness of fringes, Numbers 15:38-40. “The supreme tribunal,” said R. Nachman, “will duly punish hypocrites who wrap their talliths round them to appear, what they are not, true Pharisees.”
greetings in the markets] See on Luke 11:43 : Videri quam esse was their secret rule.
Which devour widows' houses, and for a shew make long prayers: the same shall receive greater damnation.47. which devour widows’ houses] Josephus expressly tells us that the Pharisees had large female followings, and an absolute sway in the Gynaekonitis or women’s apartments, Jos. Antt. xviii. 2, § 4.
for a shew] Rather, in pretence. Their hypocrisy was so notorious that even the Talmud records the warning given by Alexander Jannaeus to his wife on his deathbed against painted Pharisees. And in their seven classes of Pharisees the Talmudic writers place “Shechemites”— Pharisees from self-interest; Stumblers—so mock-humble that they will not raise their feet from the ground; Bleeders—so mock-modest, that because they will not raise their eyes, they run against walls, &c. Thus the Jewish writers themselves depict the Pharisees as the Tartuffes of antiquity.
long prayers] Such as the twenty-six forms of prayer at ablution; the Eighteen Benedictions (Shemoneh Esreh), &c.
damnation] Rather, judgment. The word is not even katakrima, or ‘condemnation.’ Their ‘judgment’ shall be more severe than that of those who practised none of these religious ordinances. It should be “more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the judgment” than for these, Luke 10:14.