Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
Then said he unto the disciples, It is impossible but that offences will come: but woe unto him, through whom they come!
Lu 17:1-10. Offenses—Faith—Humility.
1, 2. (See Mt 18:6, 7).
It were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he cast into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones.
Take heed to yourselves: If thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive him.
3, 4. (See on Mt 18:15-17; Mt 18:21, 22).
And if he trespass against thee seven times in a day, and seven times in a day turn again to thee, saying, I repent; thou shalt forgive him.
4. seven times—not a lower measure of the forgiving spirit than the "seventy times seven" enjoined on Peter, which was occasioned by his asking if he was to stop at seven times. "No," is the virtual answer, "though it come to seventy times that number, if only he ask forgiveness in sincerity."
And the apostles said unto the Lord, Increase our faith.
5. Lord—(See on Lu 10:1).
increase our faith—moved by the difficulty of avoiding and forgiving "offenses." This is the only instance in which a spiritual operation upon their souls was solicited of Christ by the Twelve; but a kindred and higher prayer had been offered before, by one with far fewer opportunities. (See on Mr 9:24.)
And the Lord said, If ye had faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye might say unto this sycamine tree, Be thou plucked up by the root, and be thou planted in the sea; and it should obey you.
6. sycamine—mulberry. (See on Mr 11:22-24.)
But which of you, having a servant plowing or feeding cattle, will say unto him by and by, when he is come from the field, Go and sit down to meat?
7-10. say unto him by and by—The "by and by" (or rather "directly") should be joined not to the saying but the going: "Go directly." The connection here is: "But when your faith has been so increased as both to avoid and forgive offenses, and do things impossible to all but faith, be not puffed up as though you had laid the Lord under any obligations to you."
And will not rather say unto him, Make ready wherewith I may sup, and gird thyself, and serve me, till I have eaten and drunken; and afterward thou shalt eat and drink?
Doth he thank that servant because he did the things that were commanded him? I trow not.
9. I trow not—or, as we say, when much more is meant, "I should think not."
So likewise ye, when ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants: we have done that which was our duty to do.
10. unprofitable—a word which, though usually denoting the opposite of profit, is here used simply in its negative sense. "We have not, as his servants, profited or benefited God at all." (Compare Job 22:2, 3; Ro 11:35.)
And it came to pass, as he went to Jerusalem, that he passed through the midst of Samaria and Galilee.
Lu 17:11-19. Ten Lepers Cleansed.
11-13. through the midst of Samaria and Galilee—probably on the confines of both.
And as he entered into a certain village, there met him ten men that were lepers, which stood afar off:
12. stood afar off—(Compare Le 13:45, 46).
And they lifted up their voices, and said, Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.
13. they lifted up—their common misery drawing these poor outcasts together (2Ki 7:3), nay, making them forget the fierce national antipathy of Jew and Samaritan [Trench].
Jesus, &c.—(Compare Mt 20:30-33). How quick a teacher is felt misery, even though as here the teaching may be soon forgotten!
And when he saw them, he said unto them, Go shew yourselves unto the priests. And it came to pass, that, as they went, they were cleansed.
14. show yourselves—as cleansed persons. (See on Mt 8:4.) Thus too would the Samaritan be taught that "salvation is of the Jews" (Joh 4:22).
as they went, were cleansed—In how many different ways were our Lord's cures wrought, and this different from all the rest.
And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, and with a loud voice glorified God,
And fell down on his face at his feet, giving him thanks: and he was a Samaritan.
And Jesus answering said, Were there not ten cleansed? but where are the nine?
17, 18. Were there not ten cleansed—rather, were not the ten cleansed? that is, the whole of them—an example (by the way) of Christ's omniscience [Bengel].
There are not found that returned to give glory to God, save this stranger.
18. this stranger—"this alien" (literally, "of another race"). The language is that of wonder and admiration, as is expressly said of another exhibition of Gentile faith (Mt 8:10).
And he said unto him, Arise, go thy way: thy faith hath made thee whole.
19. Arise—for he had "fallen down on his face at His feet" (Lu 17:16) and there lain prostrate.
faith made thee whole—not as the others, merely in body, but in that higher spiritual sense with which His constant language has so familiarized us.
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:
Lu 17:20-37. Coming of the Kingdom of God and of the Son of Man.
20-25. when, &c.—To meet the erroneous views not only of the Pharisees, but of the disciples themselves, our Lord addresses both, announcing the coming of the kingdom under different aspects.
It cometh not with observation—with watching or lying in wait, as for something outwardly imposing and at once revealing itself.
Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.
21. Lo here! … lo there!—shut up within this or that sharply defined and visible geographical or ecclesiastical limit.
within you—is of an internal and spiritual character (as contrasted with their outside views of it). But it has its external side too.
And he said unto the disciples, The days will come, when ye shall desire to see one of the days of the Son of man, and ye shall not see it.
22. The days—rather "Days."
will come—as in Lu 19:43, when, amidst calamities, &c., you will anxiously look for a deliverer, and deceivers will put themselves forward in this character.
one of the days of the Son of man—Himself again among them but for one day; as we say when all seems to be going wrong and the one person who could keep them right is removed [Neander in Stier, &c.]. "This is said to guard against the mistake of supposing that His visible presence would accompany the manifestation and establishment of His kingdom" [Webster and Wilkinson].
And they shall say to you, See here; or, see there: go not after them, nor follow them.
23. they shall say, See here … go not, &c.—a warning to all so-called expositors of prophecy and their followers, who cry, Lo there and see here, every time that war breaks out or revolutions occur.
For as the lightning, that lighteneth out of the one part under heaven, shineth unto the other part under heaven; so shall also the Son of man be in his day.
24. as lightning … so … the Son of man—that is it will be as manifest. The Lord speaks here of His coming and manifestation in a prophetically indefinite manner, and in these preparatory words blends into one the distinctive epochs [Stier]. When the whole polity of the Jews, civil and ecclesiastical alike, was broken up at once, and its continuance rendered impossible by the destruction of Jerusalem, it became as manifest to all as the lightning of heaven that the kingdom of God had ceased to exist in its old, and had entered on a new and perfectly different form. So it may be again, ere its final and greatest change at the personal coming of Christ, and of which the words in their highest sense are alone true.
But first must he suffer many things, and be rejected of this generation.
25. But first … suffer, &c.—This shows that the more immediate reference of Lu 17:23 is to an event soon to follow the death of Christ. It was designed to withdraw the attention of "His disciples" from the glare in which His foregoing words had invested the approaching establishment of His kingdom.
And as it was in the days of Noe, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of man.
26-30. eat … married … planted—all the ordinary occupations and enjoyments of life. Though the antediluvian world and the cities of the plain were awfully wicked, it is not their wickedness, but their worldliness, their unbelief and indifference to the future, their unpreparedness, that is here held up as a warning. Note.—These recorded events of Old Testament history—denied or explained away nowadays by not a few—are referred to here as facts.
They did eat, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, and the flood came, and destroyed them all.
Likewise also as it was in the days of Lot; they did eat, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they builded;
But the same day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven, and destroyed them all.
Even thus shall it be in the day when the Son of man is revealed.
In that day, he which shall be upon the housetop, and his stuff in the house, let him not come down to take it away: and he that is in the field, let him likewise not return back.
31-33. to take it away … Remember, &c.—a warning against that lingering reluctance to part with present treasures which induces some to remain in a burning house, in hopes of saving this and that precious article till consumed and buried in its ruins. The cases here supposed, though different, are similar.
Remember Lot's wife.
32. Lot's wife—her "look back," for that is all that is said of her, and her recorded doom. Her heart was in Sodom still, and the "look" just said, "And must I bid it adieu?"
Whosoever shall seek to save his life shall lose it; and whosoever shall lose his life shall preserve it.
33. Whosoever, &c.—(See on Lu 9:23-27).
I tell you, in that night there shall be two men in one bed; the one shall be taken, and the other shall be left.
34. two in one bed—the prepared and unprepared mingled in closest intercourse together in the ordinary walks and fellowships of life, when the moment of severance arrives. Awful truth! realized before the destruction of Jerusalem, when the Christians found themselves forced by their Lord's directions (Lu 21:21) at once and for ever away from their old associates; but most of all when the second coming of Christ shall burst upon a heedless world.
Two women shall be grinding together; the one shall be taken, and the other left.
Two men shall be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left.
And they answered and said unto him, Where, Lord? And he said unto them, Wheresoever the body is, thither will the eagles be gathered together.
37. Where—shall this occur?
Wheresoever, &c.—"As birds of prey scent out the carrion, so wherever is found a mass of incurable moral and spiritual corruption, there will be seen alighting the ministers of divine judgment," a proverbial saying terrifically verified at the destruction of Jerusalem, and many times since, though its most tremendous illustration will be at the world's final day.