James Gray - Concise Bible Commentary
Then said he unto the disciples, It is impossible but that offences will come: but woe unto him, through whom they come!
And when he was demanded of the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God should come, he answered them and said, The kingdom of God cometh not with observation:Luke 17:20-18:30
COMING OF THE KINGDOM
A transition of thought and teaching is marked by the demand of the Pharisees, “when the Kingdom of God should come” (Luke 17:20) the Kingdom of which he had said so much, and which they had been led to expect by the Old Testament prophets. In our Lord’s answer, “within you” (Luke 17:21) is to be taken in the sense of “in the midst of you” (see RV margin), the meaning of which is seen in the context. The Scofield Bible note is informative here:
The Kingdom in its outward form as promised to David and described by the prophets had been rejected by the Jews, so that during this present age it would not ‘come with observation’ i.e., with outward show, but in the hearts of men. Meantime however, it was among them in the Person of the King and His disciples.
The Kingdom would come some day with observation, but prior thereto persecution and suffering would be the lot of Christ’s disciples, so that they would long for its speedy appearing (Luke 17:22). They should be careful lest they be deceived (Luke 17:23), for when it came it would be as open as it would be unexpected (Luke 17:24). Its unexpectedness to the world is illustrated (Luke 17:26-30), and its discriminating judgments (Luke 17:31-37). Of course, the coming of Christ here referred to is not His coming for His church which will be caught up to meet him in the air (1 Thessalonians 4:16), but His manifestation to the world and to Israel after that has taken place.
In view of the persecution and suffering to be experienced prior to that day, the resource of the disciples must be prayer (Luke 18:1-8). The widow is doubtless the godly remnant of the Jews, to which the disciples in their day belonged, and which will be found on the earth between the translation of the church and the appearing of Christ referred to above. Luke 18:8 confirms this application, since the word “faith” there means not “personal faith, but faith in the whole body of revealed truth.” In other words, it will be a time of such apostasy that the truth of God will have departed almost entirely from the earth.
But other traits should characterize the saints of God at that trying time, of which He speaks first in parabolic form (Luke 18:9-14), and afterwards plainly (Luke 18:15-30). The traits emphasized in the parable are lowliness of spirit based on a right apprehension of sin and faith in sacrificial atonement. The Greek for “Be merciful” is used in the Septuagint and in the New Testament in connection with the Mercy seat (Exodus 25:17-18; Exodus 25:21; Hebrews 9:5), and the publican was “thinking not of mere mercy, but of the blood-sprinkled Mercy seat.” His prayer has been paraphrased thus:
“Be toward me as Thou art when Thou lookest upon the atoning blood.”
The thought is carried out in connection with the blessing of the little children (Luke 18:15-17), see especially the last-named verse. And also in the story of the young ruler (Luke 18:18-30) found as well in Matthew and Mark. This last shows the hindrance against which all are to be warned who would enter into the Kingdom.
1. Whence is obtained the title of this lesson?
2. What is the meaning of “the Kingdom of God is within you”?
3. How would you explain Luke 17:22?
4. What aspect of the Coming of Christ is referred to in the closing part of this chapter?
5. How would you interpret the parable of the widow and the unjust judge?
6. What is the meaning of “faith” in Luke 18:8?
7. How do you understand the publican’s prayer, “Be merciful”?