Luke 14
ICC New Testament Commentary
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.
14:1-17:10. The Second Period of the Journey

This forms a new division of the section which has been styled “the Journeyings towards Jerusalem”: see on 9:51. The first portion of it (14:1-24) may be thus subdivided. A Sabbath-meal in the House of a Pharisee, including the Healing of a Dropsical Man on the Sabbath (1-6), a Discourse about taking the lowest seats (7-11) and inviting Lowly Guests (12-14), and the Parable of the Great Supper (15-24). The whole is peculiar to Lk., and probably comes from some source unknown to Mt. and Mk.

1-24. § A Sabbath-meal in the House of a Pharisee. Time and place are quite undetermined. The chief men among the Pharisees no doubt lived mostly at Jerusalem. Beyond that we have no clue.

1-6. The Cure of a Dropsical Man at the Sabbath-meal. The cure of the man with the withered hand (6:6-11; Matthew 12:9-14; Mark 3:1-6) should be compared but not identified. Although Lk. records both cures, with very important differences of detail, Strauss and Keim maintain that this is a mere doublet of the other, and reject both. The style of the opening words indicates an Aramaic source.

Of the seven miracles of mercy on the Sabbath, Lk. records five: the Demoniac at Capernaum (4:31), the Withered Hand (6:6), the Woman bowed down eighteen years (13:14), Simon’s wife’s mother (4:38), and this. The others are: the Paralytic at Bethesda (John 5:10), the Man born blind (John 9:14).

1. Καὶ ἐγένετο ἐν τῷ ἐλθεῖν αὐτό́ν. “And it came to pass after He had entered” (aor.), not “as He entered” (AV.) nor “when He entered” (RV.): cum intrasset or introisset (some MSS, of Vulg.) rather than cum intraret (Vulg.). See on 3:21 and the note at the end of ch. i. p. 45.

τινος τῶν ἀρχόντων τῶν φαρισαίων. “Of one of the chief men of the Pharisees.” We have no knowledge of official rulers of the Pharisees; but of course they had their leading men. That the invitation of a leading Pharisee was accepted (ver. 12) after what is recorded 11:37-54 might seem surprising, especially as Jesus knew the minds of those whom He was to meet (ver. 3). But there was still the possibility of influencing some of them for good. We know of no case in which Jesus refused an invitation.

σαββάτῳ φαγεῖν ἄρτον. Sabbath banqueting was common, and became proverbial for luxury. Observa diem sabbati, non Judaicis deliciis; and Hodiernus dies sabbati est, hunc in præsenti tempore otio quodam corporaliter languido et fluxo et luxurioso celebrant Judæi (Aug.). See Wetst. ad loc., and Polano, The Talmud; Selections translated from the original, p. 259.

καὶ αὐτοὶ ἦσαν παρατηρούμενοι αὐτόν. Lk.’s favourite construction. See on 5:14 and 6; 20. The καὶ introduces the apodosis of ἐγένετο: “it came to pass … that the Pharisees themselves were persistently watching Him.” For παρατηρεῖσθαι of interested and sinister espionage see on 6:7. Excepting Mark 3:2 and Galatians 4:10, verb occurs only in Lk. (20:20; Acts 9:24).

The translation “were there, watching” is erroneous: ἦσαν παρατηρούμενοι is the periphrastic imperf. It is also an error to carry on the construction of ἐγένετο beyond ver. 1: vv. 1 and 2 are quite independent statements.

2. καὶ ἰδοὺ ἄνθρωπός τι̣ς. We are left in doubt whether the man was placed there as a trap, which the absence of γάρ does not disprove, or was there by accident, or had come in the hope of being healed. The last is probable: but the ἰδού seems to imply that his presence was unexpected by the company, and perhaps by the host. He was probably not an invited guest, as ἀπέλυσεν (ver. 4) appears to show. But in an Eastern house he would have no difficulty in obtaining admission (Tristram, Eastern Customs, pp. 36, 81): and, if he hoped to be healed, he would take care to appear ἔμποσθεν αὐτοῦ. Note the τις vv. 2, 19, 20.

ὑδρωπικός. Not elsewhere in bibl. Grk., but freq. in medical writers. The disease seems to be indicated as a curse Numbers 5:21, Numbers 5:22; comp. Psalm 109:18. Comp. Hor. Carm. ii. 2, 13.

3. ἀποκριθεὶς … πρὸς τοὺς νομικοὺς καὶ φαρισαίους. He answered their thoughts implied in ἦσαν παρατηρούμενους. This watching had now a definite object owing to the presence of the dropsical man. Comp. 5:22, 7:40. The νομικοί (see on 7:30) and Φαρισαῖοι are put as one class, and area more definite description of the αὐτοί in ver. 1. Note the Hebraistic εἶπεν λέγων.

θεραπεῦσαι ἢ οὔ.; Comp. ἀγαποιῆσαι ἢ κακοποιῆσαι (6:9); ἐξ οὐρανοῦ ἢ ἐξ ἀνθρώπων (20:4). The dilemma, if they had planned one against Him, is turned against themselves. These lawyers were bound to be able to answer such a question: and if rigorist Pharisees made no objection when consulted beforehand, they could not protest afterwards. They take refuge in silence; not in order to provoke Him to heal, but because they did not know what to say. They did not wish to say that healing on the sabbath was allowable, and they did not dare to say that it was not. For ἡσυχάζω in this sense comp. Acts 11:18, Acts 11:21:14; Job 32:6; Nehemiah 5:8.

The εἰ before ἔξεστι (A, Syrr. Arm.) probably comes from Matthew 12:10 (om. א B D L 59, Latt. divided). If it is genuine, comp. 13:23. Most of the authorities which insert εἰ have θεραπεύειν for θεραπεῦσαι (also from Matthew 12:10) and omit ἤ οὐ

4. ἐπιλαβόμενος ἰά́σατο. That the laying hold of him is to be regarded as the means of the cure is not certain. The touching in order to heal is more often expressed by ἅπτεσθαι (5:13, 22:51; Mark 1:41, Mark 1:7:33, Mark 1:8:22; Matthew 8:3, Matthew 8:15, Matthew 8:17:7, Matthew 8:20:34) or by ἐπιτιθέναι τὰς χεῖρας (4:40, 13:13; Mark 6:5, Mark 6:8:23, Mark 6:25, etc.). Both ἰᾶσαθαι (see small print on 5:17) and ἐπιλαβέσθαι (9:47, 20:20, 26, 23:26, etc.) are freq. in Lk. Christ read the man’s faith, as He read the hostility of the Pharisees, and responded to it.

ἀπέλυσεν. This probably means something more than the letting go after the ἐπιλαβόμενος, viz. “dismissed him” from the company, to prevent interference with him.

5. Τίνος ὑμῶν υἱὸς ἢ βοῦς. The emphatic word is ὑμῶν. “How do you act, when your interests are concerned? When your son, or even your ox, falls into a well?”1 Palestine abounds in unprotected cisterns, wells and pits. Wetst. quotes from the Mishna, Si in puteum bos aut asinus … filius aut filia. The argument is that what the Pharisees allowed themselves for their own benefit must be allowed to Christ for the benefit of others. Their Sabbath help had an element of selfishness; His had none.

The reading ὄνος ἢ βοῦς probably comes from 13:15. The correction was doubly tempting: 1. because υἱός seemed rather to spoil the à fortiori argument; 2. because ὄνος is more naturally coupled with βοῦς. Comp. Deuteronomy 22:4. The reading πρόβατον (D) for υἱός has a similar origin, while ὄϊς is a conjecture as the supposed original of both υἱός and ὄνος. The evidence is thus divided: υἱός A B A G D M S U V G D L etc., e f g Syrr., Cyr-Alex.—ὄνος א K L X Π, a b c i Syr-Sin. Vulg. Arm. Aeth. See WH. 2. App, p. 62; Sanday, App. to Grk. T. p. 120. The ἀποκριθείς before πρὸς αὐτοὺς εἶπεν (א A, Vulg.) is probably an insertion.

Note the Hebraistic construction instead of τίς ὑμῶν οὗ υἱὸς, κ.τ.λ., οὐθ εὐθέως ἀνασπάσει αὐτόν

And, behold, there was a certain man before him which had the dropsy.
And Jesus answering spake unto the lawyers and Pharisees, saying, Is it lawful to heal on the sabbath day?
And they held their peace. And he took him, and healed him, and let him go;
And answered them, saying, Which of you shall have an ass or an ox fallen into a pit, and will not straightway pull him out on the sabbath day?
And they could not answer him again to these things.
And he put forth a parable to those which were bidden, when he marked how they chose out the chief rooms; saying unto them,
When thou art bidden of any man to a wedding, sit not down in the highest room; lest a more honourable man than thou be bidden of him;
And he that bade thee and him come and say to thee, Give this man place; and thou begin with shame to take the lowest room.
But when thou art bidden, go and sit down in the lowest room; that when he that bade thee cometh, he may say unto thee, Friend, go up higher: then shalt thou have worship in the presence of them that sit at meat with thee.
For whosoever exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.
Then said he also to him that bade him, When thou makest a dinner or a supper, call not thy friends, nor thy brethren, neither thy kinsmen, nor thy rich neighbours; lest they also bid thee again, and a recompence be made thee.
But when thou makest a feast, call the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind:
And thou shalt be blessed; for they cannot recompense thee: for thou shalt be recompensed at the resurrection of the just.
And when one of them that sat at meat with him heard these things, he said unto him, Blessed is he that shall eat bread in the kingdom of God.
Then said he unto him, A certain man made a great supper, and bade many:
And sent his servant at supper time to say to them that were bidden, Come; for all things are now ready.
And they all with one consent began to make excuse. The first said unto him, I have bought a piece of ground, and I must needs go and see it: I pray thee have me excused.
And another said, I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to prove them: I pray thee have me excused.
And another said, I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come.
So that servant came, and shewed his lord these things. Then the master of the house being angry said to his servant, Go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in hither the poor, and the maimed, and the halt, and the blind.
And the servant said, Lord, it is done as thou hast commanded, and yet there is room.
And the lord said unto the servant, Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled.
For I say unto you, That none of those men which were bidden shall taste of my supper.
And there went great multitudes with him: and he turned, and said unto them,
If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.
And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple.
For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it?
Lest haply, after he hath laid the foundation, and is not able to finish it, all that behold it begin to mock him,
Saying, This man began to build, and was not able to finish.
Or what king, going to make war against another king, sitteth not down first, and consulteth whether he be able with ten thousand to meet him that cometh against him with twenty thousand?
Or else, while the other is yet a great way off, he sendeth an ambassage, and desireth conditions of peace.
So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple.
Salt is good: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be seasoned?
It is neither fit for the land, nor yet for the dunghill; but men cast it out. He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.
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