Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
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.
Lu 10:1-24. Mission of the Seventy Disciples, and Their Return.
As our Lord's end approaches, the preparations for the establishment of the coming Kingdom are quickened and extended.
1. the Lord—a becoming title here, as this appointment was an act truly lordly [Bengel].
other seventy also—rather, "others (also in number), seventy"; probably with allusion to the seventy elders of Israel on whom the Spirit descended in the wilderness (Nu 11:24, 25). The mission, unlike that of the Twelve, was evidently quite temporary. All the instructions are in keeping with a brief and hasty pioneering mission, intended to supply what of general preparation for coming events the Lord's own visit afterwards to the same "cities and places" (Lu 10:1) would not, from want of time, now suffice to accomplish; whereas the instructions to the Twelve, besides embracing all those to the Seventy, contemplate world-wide and permanent effects. Accordingly, after their return from this single missionary tour, we never again read of the Seventy.
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, &c.—(See on Mt 9:37).
pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he would send forth labourers into his harvest—(See on Mt 9:38).
Go your ways: behold, I send you forth as lambs among wolves.
3-12. (See on Mt 10:7-16).
Carry neither purse, nor scrip, nor shoes: and salute no man by the way.
And into whatsoever house ye enter, first say, Peace be to this house.
And if the son of peace be there, your peace shall rest upon it: if not, it shall turn to you again.
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.
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.
But into whatsoever city ye enter, and they receive you not, go your ways out into the streets of the same, and say,
10. son of peace—inwardly prepared to embrace your message of peace. See note on "worthy," (see on Mt 10:13).
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.
But I say unto you, that it shall be more tolerable in that day for Sodom, than for that city.
12-15. (See on Mt 11:20-24).
for Sodom—Tyre and Sidon were ruined by commercial prosperity; Sodom sank through its vile pollutions: but the doom of otherwise correct persons who, amidst a blaze of light, reject the Saviour, shall be less endurable than that of any of these.
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.
But it shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the judgment, than for you.
And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted to heaven, shalt be thrust down to hell.
He that heareth you heareth me; and he that despiseth you despiseth me; and he that despiseth me despiseth him that sent me.
16. He that, &c.—(See on Mt 10:40).
And the seventy returned again with joy, saying, Lord, even the devils are subject unto us through thy name.
17. returned—evidently not long away.
Lord, &c.—"Thou hast exceeded Thy promise, for 'even the devils,'" &c. The possession of such power, not being expressly in their commission, as in that to the Twelve (Lu 9:1), filled them with more astonishment and joy than all else.
through thy name—taking no credit to themselves, but feeling lifted into a region of unimagined superiority to the powers of evil simply through their connection with Christ.
And he said unto them, I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven.
18. I beheld—As much of the force of this glorious statement depends on the nice shade of sense indicated by the imperfect tense in the original, it should be brought out in the translation: "I was beholding Satan as lightning falling from heaven"; that is, "I followed you on your mission, and watched its triumphs; while you were wondering at the subjection to you of devils in My name, a grander spectacle was opening to My view; sudden as the darting of lightning from heaven to earth, lo! Satan was beheld falling from heaven!" How remarkable is this, that by that law of association which connects a part with the whole, those feeble triumphs of the Seventy seem to have not only brought vividly before the Redeemer the whole ultimate result of His mission, but compressed it into a moment and quickened it into the rapidity of lightning! Note.—The word rendered "devils," is always used for those spiritual agents employed in demoniacal possessions—never for the ordinary agency of Satan in rational men. When therefore the Seventy say, "the devils [demons] are subject to us," and Jesus replies, "Mine eye was beholding Satan falling," it is plain that He meant to raise their minds not only from the particular to the general, but from a very temporary form of satanic operation to the entire kingdom of evil. (See Joh 12:31; and compare Isa 14:12).
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. Behold, I give you, &c.—not for any renewal of their mission, though probably many of them afterwards became ministers of Christ; but simply as disciples.
serpents and scorpions—the latter more venomous than the former: literally, in the first instance (Mr 16:17, 18; Ac 28:5); but the next words, "and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means hurt you," show that the glorious power of faith to "overcome the world" and "quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one," by the communication and maintenance of which to His people He makes them innocuous, is what is meant (1Jo 5:4; Eph 6:16).
Notwithstanding in this rejoice not, that the spirits are subject unto you; but rather rejoice, because your names are written in heaven.
20. rejoice not, &c.—that is, not so much. So far from forbidding it, He takes occasion from it to tell them what had been passing in His own mind. But as power over demons was after all intoxicating, He gives them a higher joy to balance it, the joy of having their names in Heaven's register (Php 4:3).
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, 22. Jesus … said, &c.—The very same sublime words were uttered by our Lord on a former similar occasion (see on Mt 11:25-27); but (1) There we are merely told that He "answered and said" thus; here, He "rejoiced in spirit and said," &c. (2) There it was merely "at that time" (or season) that He spoke thus, meaning with a general reference to the rejection of His gospel by the self-sufficient; here, "In that hour Jesus said," with express reference probably to the humble class from which He had to draw the Seventy, and the similar class that had chiefly welcomed their message. "Rejoice" is too weak a word. It is "exulted in spirit"—evidently giving visible expression to His unusual emotions; while, at the same time, the words "in spirit" are meant to convey to the reader the depth of them. This is one of those rare cases in which the veil is lifted from off the Redeemer's inner man, that, angel-like, we may "look into it" for a moment (1Pe 1:12). Let us gaze on it with reverential wonder, and as we perceive what it was that produced that mysterious ecstasy, we shall find rising in our hearts a still rapture—"Oh, the depths!"
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.
And he turned him unto his disciples, and said privately, Blessed are the eyes which see the things that ye see:
23, 24. (See on Mt 13:16, 17).
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.
And, behold, a certain lawyer stood up, and tempted him, saying, Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?
Lu 10:25-37. Question of a Lawyer and Parable of the Good Samaritan.
25. tempted him—"tested him"; in no hostile spirit, yet with no tender anxiety for light on that question of questions, but just to see what insight this great Galilean teacher had.
He said unto him, What is written in the law? how readest thou?
26. What is written in the law—apposite question to a doctor of the law, and putting him in turn to the test [Bengel].
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, &c.—the answer Christ Himself gave to another lawyer. (See on Mr 12:29-33).
And he said unto him, Thou hast answered right: this do, and thou shalt live.
28. he said, &c.—"Right; This do, and life is thine"—laying such emphasis on "this" as to indicate, without expressing it, where the real difficulty to a sinner lay, and thus nonplussing the questioner himself.
But he, willing to justify himself, said unto Jesus, And who is my neighbour?
29. willing—"wishing," to get himself out of the difficulty, by throwing on Jesus the definition of "neighbor," which the Jews interpreted very narrowly and technically, as excluding Samaritans and Gentiles [Alford].
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—a Jew.
from Jerusalem to Jericho—a distance of nineteen miles northeast, a deep and very fertile hollow—"the Temple of Judea" [Trench].
thieves—"robbers." The road, being rocky and desolate, was a notorious haunt of robbers, then and for ages after, and even to this day.
And by chance there came down a certain priest that way: and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side.
31, 32. came down a … priest … and a Levite—Jericho, the second city of Judea, was a city of the priests and Levites, and thousands of them lived there. The two here mentioned are supposed, apparently, to be returning from temple duties, but they had not learnt what that meaneth, 'I will have mercy and not sacrifice' [Trench].
saw him—It was not inadvertently that he acted.
came and looked—a further aggravation.
passed by—although the law expressly required the opposite treatment even of the beast not only of their brethren, but of their enemy (De 22:4; Ex 23:4, 5; compare Isa 58:7).
And likewise a Levite, when he was at the place, came and looked on him, and passed by on the other side.
But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he had compassion on him,
33. Samaritan—one excommunicated by the Jews, a byword among them, synonymous with heretic and devil (Joh 8:48; see on Lu 17:18).
had compassion—His best is mentioned first; for "He who gives outward things gives something external to himself, but he who imparts compassion and tears gives him something from his very self" [Gregory The Great, in Trench]. No doubt the priest and Levite had their excuses—It is not safe to be lingering here; besides, he's past recovery; and then, may not suspicion rest upon ourselves? So might the Samaritan have reasoned, but did not [Trench]. Nor did he say, He's a Jew, who would have had no dealings with me (Joh 4:9), and why should I with him?
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. oil and wine—the remedies used in such cases all over the East (Isa 1:6), and elsewhere; the wine to cleanse the wounds, the oil to assuage their smartings.
on his own beast—himself going on foot.
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. two pence—equal to two day's wages of a laborer, and enough for several days' support.
Which now of these three, thinkest thou, was neighbour unto him that fell among the thieves?
36. Which … was neighbour?—a most dexterous way of putting the question: (1) Turning the question from, "Whom am I to love as my neighbour?" to "Who is the man that shows that love?" (2) Compelling the lawyer to give a reply very different from what he would like—not only condemning his own nation, but those of them who should be the most exemplary. (3) Making him commend one of a deeply hated race. And he does it, but it is almost extorted. For he does not answer, "The Samaritan"—that would have sounded heterodox, heretical—but "He that showed mercy on him." It comes to the same thing, no doubt, but the circumlocution is significant.
And he said, He that shewed mercy on him. Then said Jesus unto him, Go, and do thou likewise.
37. Go, &c.—O exquisite, matchless teaching! What new fountains of charity has not this opened up in the human spirit—rivers in the wilderness, streams in the desert! What noble Christian institutions have not such words founded, all undreamed of till that wondrous One came to bless this heartless world of ours with His incomparable love—first in words, and then in deeds which have translated His words into flesh and blood, and poured the life of them through that humanity which He made His own! Was this parable, now, designed to magnify the law of love, and to show who fulfils it and who not? And who did this as never man did it, as our Brother Man, "our Neighbor?" The priests and Levites had not strengthened the diseased, nor bound up the broken (Eze 34:4), while He bound up the brokenhearted (Isa 61:1), and poured into all wounded spirits the balm of sweetest consolation. All the Fathers saw through the thin veil of this noblest of stories, the Story of love, and never wearied of tracing the analogy (though sometimes fancifully enough) [Trench]. Exclaims Gregory Nazianzen (in the fourth century), "He hungered, but He fed thousands; He was weary, but He is the Rest of the weary; He is saluted 'Samaritan' and 'Demoniac,' but He saves him that went down from Jerusalem and fell among thieves," &c.
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.
Lu 10:38-42. Martha and Mary.
38. certain village—Bethany (Joh 11:1), which Luke so speaks of, having no farther occasion to notice it.
received him … her house—The house belonged to her, and she appears throughout to be the older sister.
And she had a sister called Mary, which also sat at Jesus' feet, and heard his word.
39. which also—"who for her part," in contrast with Martha.
sat—"seated herself." From the custom of sitting beneath an instructor, the phrase "sitting at one's feet" came to mean being a disciple of any one (Ac 22:3).
heard—rather, "kept listening" to His word.
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.
came to him—"presented herself before Him," as from another apartment, in which her sister had "left her to serve (or make preparation) alone."
carest thou not … my sister, &c.—"Lord, here am I with everything to do, and this sister of mine will not lay a hand to anything; thus I miss something from Thy lips, and Thou from our hands."
bid her, &c.—She presumes not to stop Christ's teaching by calling her sister away, and thus leaving Him without His one auditor, nor did she hope perhaps to succeed if she had tried.
And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things:
41. Martha, Martha—emphatically redoubling upon the name.
careful and cumbered—the one word expressing the inward worrying anxiety that her preparations should be worthy of her Lord; the other, the outward bustle of those preparations.
many things—"much service" (Lu 10:40); too elaborate preparation, which so engrossed her attention that she missed her Lord's teaching.
But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.
42. one thing, &c.—The idea of "Short work and little of it suffices for Me" is not so much the lower sense of these weighty words, as supposed in them, as the basis of something far loftier than any precept on economy. Underneath that idea is couched another, as to the littleness both of elaborate preparation for the present life and of that life itself, compared with another.
chosen the good part—not in the general sense of Moses' choice (Heb 11:25), and Joshua's (Jos 24:15), and David's (Ps 119:30); that is, of good in opposition to bad; but, of two good ways of serving and pleasing the Lord, choosing the better. Wherein, then, was Mary's better than Martha's? Hear what follows.
not be taken away—Martha's choice would be taken from her, for her services would die with her; Mary's never, being spiritual and eternal. Both were true-hearted disciples, but the one was absorbed in the higher, the other in the lower of two ways of honoring their common Lord. Yet neither despised, or would willingly neglect, the other's occupation. The one represents the contemplative, the other the active style of the Christian character. A Church full of Marys would perhaps be as great an evil as a Church full of Marthas. Both are needed, each to be the complement of the other.