William Kelly Major Works Commentary
Then said he unto the disciples, It is impossible but that offences will come: but woe unto him, through whom they come!Luke Chapter 17
Luke 17:1-4The chapter opens with instruction which follows from what we have already seen. The Jewish system was judged. It was to be left entirely behind. Present favour and earthly prosperity were no test's of God's estimate. That which is unseen will entirely reverse the actual condition of things. Lazarus quits the world for Abraham's bosom, the rich man is afterwards tormented in hell; but from both the infinite moment of the Word of God is seen for every soul.
Here the Lord lets the disciples425 know the certainty of stumbling-blocks in such a world as this, and the awful doom of those who cause them. "It would be more profitable426 for him if a millstone* were hanged about his neck and he were cast into the sea," (Cf. Matthew 18:6f.) says the Lord about any one so offending others. Hence we have to take heed to ourselves, as His disciples; and while guarding against being caused to stumble by others, we have to cherish the grace of God which is as essential to Christianity as the law was to the Jews as their rule. "Take heed to yourselves; if thy brother should sin, rebuke him; and if he should repent, forgive him." (Matthew 18:15.) It supposes that there is an evil course and current in the world, which may affect every one's brother; but grace is never intended to weaken the moral reprobation of what is evil. "If thy brother should sin, rebuke him; and if he should repent, forgive him."
*"Millstone": so Edd. after BDL, 1, 69, Old Lat. Memph. Arm. In Matthew 18:6, and Mark 9:42, it is millstone turned by an ass," as here in A, etc., Syrr..
Repentance is a great word, altogether contrary to the bent of human will. Man may make efforts, but will never repent. Only grace gives real repentance, which, when used in its proper sense, means simply and invariably the judgment of self. Now, this man will never bend to. Amends he may offer, he may endeavour to do good, and repair the evil: but to own self thoroughly wrong without qualification, reserve, or endeavouring to throw the blame on others, is never the nature of man, but the result of the working of Divine grace, and true, therefore, of every soul that is truly renewed. It is impossible for a sinner to be brought to God without repentance. Faith, no doubt, is the spring of all; it alone gives power by the revelation of grace in the person and work of Christ; but repentance is the invariable consequence or concomitant. And so it is in particular cases, as here in trespass, as, "It he should repent, forgive him." This was more especially needful to urge on a Jew, accustomed as he was to severity. And further, grace would hinder one from being wearied any more by ill-doing in others than in well-doing on our part. "If he should sin against thee* seven times in the day, and seven times† should return to thee, saying, I repent, thou shalt forgive him." (Matthew 18:21f.) It is seven times as showing the failure complete, and in a day, too, as adding to the trial. To men's minds this would indicate the hopelessness of any good in forgiveness. But it is so that God deals with us: He is unwearied in His grace. If it were not so, it would be all over with us, not only when in our sins but even as believers.426a
*"Sin." DXΓΔ, etc., most cursives (33, 69), add "against thee," which Edd. omit, following ABL, 1, Syrr. Amiat. Memph.
†"Seven times (second time). AGD, etc., most cursives, Syrr. Amiat. Aeth. add "in the day"; rejected by Edd. after BDLX, most Old Lat. Memph. Arm.
Cf. Mark 10:24.
Nevertheless the apostles (for so it is expressed here for our instruction) - "the apostles said to the Lord, Give more faith to us." They felt that such a demand was entirely beyond them.426b "But the Lord said, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard [seed] ye had said unto this sycamine tree,427 Be thou rooted up, and be thou planted in the sea; and it would have obeyed you." (Matthew 17:20; Matthew 21:21 Mark 11:23.) Thus faith works what is impossible to man, to nature; and this, too, wherever there is a grain of reality, be it over so small. For whether faith be little or strong, if real, it brings in God; and God is the same God in answer to little faith as to great. There may be a great difference as regards the result for sensible enjoyment; but God answers in His grace the feeblest exercise of faith in Him. "If ye have* faith as a grain of mustard [seed], ye had said unto this sycamine tree, Be thou rooted up, and be thou planted in the sea [an entire contrariety to the course of nature], and it would have obeyed you." We must always hold, as believers, the superiority of God to all circumstances.
*"Have": so Edd. as ABFL, etc., 1, 33, 69. DEGH, Old Lat. "had."
At the same time, we have a place of duty here; and the Lord reminds us, therefore, not only of the power of faith above every obstacle, but of the tone of conduct that becomes us in doing our duties, or rather when we have done them. "But which of you [is there] who, having a bondman ploughing or shepherding, when he cometh out of the field will say,* Come and lie down immediately to table? But will he not say unto him, Prepare what I shall sup on, and gird thyself and serve me that I may eat and drink; and after that thou shalt eat and drink?428 Is he thankful to the† bondman because he hath done what was ordered? ‡I judge not."§ Grace in noway weakens the duty that we owe. There are certain proprieties which we must never give up, and of which the Lord here reminds His apostles. The master in such a case does not thank the servant; it is but his obligation, the discharge of the service he undertakes, what he cannot, therefore, forget or omit without wrong.429 "Thus ye, also, when ye shall have done all things that have been ordered you, say, We are unprofitable bondmen; we have done"" that which it was our duty to do."
*"Will say." Edd. (Revv.) add "unto him," following BDLX, 1, 69, Syrr. Old Lat. Memph. Blass, with A, etc., Goth. omits.
†"The": so Edd. after corr ABDLX, Memph. EΔ, etc., have "that."
‡"Ordered." DX, 69, Amiat. Memph. add "him," which Edd. reject, after ABELΔ, etc., 1.
§"I judge not": so Weiss, after Meyer, with AΓ, etc., most cursives, most Old Lat. (33, 69), Syrr. Amiat. Goth. Other Edd., with Alford and Milligan, omit, following BLX, 1, Memph. Arm. Aeth.
"""We h. d." EXΔ, etc., have "for w. h. d." Text, as Edd., after ABDL, 1, Old Lat. Memph.
People are sometimes apt to think that the proper owning of our unprofitable service is when we do not the things commanded; so at least they speak. But the Lord teaches us to feel that we are but unprofitable servants when we have done all the things that are commanded. Not to do our duty is a real wrong to the Master; but when we have done all, it becomes us to say, "We are unprofitable bondmen, we have done that which it was our duty to do." All we are commanded is short of that which Christ deserves; and we have to do with the Christ of God. When we have done that which was our duty to do, is love satisfied? It would go further. Christ loved to obey, ever doing what was enjoined, and hence suffered to the utmost in grace to us and to the glory of God. So love is the fulfilling of the law; and in it we are now called to walk as Christ also loved us and gave Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling savour. We are indeed unprofitable servants; yet how rich is the place into which grace brings us even now!430
The incident that is here recorded completely falls in with what we have seen. The Spirit of God is indicating not only the break-up of Judaism but the introduction of better things, and very particularly of the liberty of grace. By and by we shall have the liberty of glory; but the saints of God are now entitled to the liberty of grace. Creation will never know this; it "will be delivered from the bondage of corruption to the liberty of the glory of the children of God." (Romans 8:21.)
"And it came to pass, as he was going up to Jerusalem, that he passed through the midst431 of Samaria and Galilee." The scene lay in the despised quarters of the land. "And as he entered into a certain village, ten leprous men met him, who stood afar off."432 This is a remarkable miracle, peculiar to our Evangelist, who brings before us several incidents of similar character, that are given nowhere else. The selection of the Spirit of God, to carry forward the object He had in view in so inspiring Luke, is thereby manifest. "And they lifted up [their] voice, saying, Jesus, Master, have compassion on us. And seeing [them] he said to them, Go, show yourselves unto the priests." The Lord thereby exercised the faith of those addressed, while at the same time He maintained the order of the law for those who are under it. It was a requisition under the law that, if a man was cured, without saying how the cure could be, if the plague of leprosy was healed, the man must present himself to the priest and be cleansed. This was laid down with particular care and detail in Leviticus 14. It was an important requirement in this way, for it became a testimony to the power of God that now wrought on earth. For the question would naturally arise: How came these lepers to be cured? This would at once draw attention to the fact that Jesus was there, and that He was really the vessel of God's power in grace.
Hence, too, the Lord sometimes, as we read elsewhere, touched the leper. But here these men stood afar off. It was not that there was not grace enough in Christ to touch them, but their feeling according to the law was to stand afar off. It was perhaps right in them that it should be so, as it was certainly the grace of His heart that made Him touch the leper who prostrated himself at His feet. So we see in Mark 1:41. These men, however, standing afar off, lifted up their voice and prayed for His mercy; and His answer was, as with a leper always, "Go show yourselves unto the priests."
But there was another notable feature brought out in the present case, if there was no touch as the sign of the power that removed the leprosy without contracting. defilement, which could only therefore be the power of God, which was above the law, even while He maintained the law. In this case there was a trial of faith, so much the more because they were afar off, and they were bidden to go and show themselves to the priests, without such words as "Be ye cleansed." The Lord did not use that expression in every case, as far as Scripture records. Hence it was, as they went, they were cleansed. They had to go first. They felt nothing the moment they were bidden to go. It was "as they were going they were cleansed."
"And one of them, seeing that he was cured" - for this could not be hid - "turned back, glorifying God with a loud voice." Surely this is highly remarkable, though given here only. The lepers were told to go and show themselves to the priests: one of them, and one alone, turned back, when he saw that he was healed, "glorifying God with a loud voice, and fell on [his] face at his feet, giving him thanks. And he was a Samaritan."432a We have grace therefore in this place for the worst. But the lowest object of grace is very often the one who enters most into the fullness of grace in God. He may be the neediest among men; but the very depth of his need shows what God is; and hence grace is often seen and enjoyed more simply by a long way than by others who might boast of much better privileges. Certainly it was so here. This Samaritan was far more simple in his thoughts of God, and at once concluded what Jesus must be, not perhaps definitely and distinctly as to His personal glory. At least, he was quite sure that Jesus was the best Representative of God's power and grace in that land. If, therefore, he was to show himself to any one, he would go to Him; if he was to glorify God, it must surely be at the feet of Jesus. He, consequently, who was the farthest removed from the formality of the law and ritual, could all the more readily go straight to Jesus.
"And Jesus answering said, Were not the ten cleansed? but* the nine, where are they! There have not been found to return and give glory to God, save this stranger." Now, this is most worthy of our consideration. The Lord Jesus accepts the thanksgiving of this man as being the peculiar token of his faith. The others had equally received a blessing; it was not that they were not thankful, but this man alone had returned to give glory to God, this stranger. The others might show themselves to the priests, carrying out the letter of the word of Jesus; but this stranger's heart was right and his spiritual instinct was of faith. There is nothing good for the soul without the sense of the glory of God. The Samaritan might not have been able to explain, but his heart was thoroughly true and Divinely guided. He was therefore far more right than others who seemed to reason better. The other nine might plead that he was presumptuous, disobedient, and not, like them, acting on the word of the Lord; for Jesus had distinctly told them they must go and show themselves to the priests; whereas he without any express command had turned back to show himself to Jesus, and give thanks at His feet. And appearances favour unbelief.
*"But": so BLX, etc.; AD omit, as Nestle after Tisch., W. H., who questioned it.
But Jesus vindicated him in coming and approved the boldness of his faith, which acted at once on what he instinctively felt to be due to the Lord Jesus. What is still more striking, the Lord says to him, "Rise up and go thy way: thy faith hath made thee whole." There is not a word of showing himself to the priest now. He had found God in his soul. He, in the healing of his leprosy, had proved the gracious power of God, he recognised it in Jesus, and so gave Him glory.
When a soul is thus brought to God, there is no question of showing oneself to priests on earth. Priests had their place once for those who were under the law. But when grace delivered from it (in principle only then, for it was not yet the precise time to break down the wall of partition for all), the delivered soul could not possibly be left, still less put, under the law. Therefore says the Lord, "Rise up, and go thy way: thy faith hath made thee whole." It is a striking prefiguration of the Gentile who is not under law like the Jew (never was, indeed), and who, when brought to God by His grace now and cleansed from all his defilements, is certainly not put under law. As the apostle says, "Sin shall not have dominion over you, for ye are not under law, but under grace." (Romans 6:14.) He was to go his way in liberty of heart. This is the calling of a Christian. Christ does not call to the bondage of law. He makes us His freemen, though no doubt also bondmen to Himself. This is a very different thing from being under law, which the Christian is not, even if he had once been a Jew.
The kingdom of God was the national hope of Israel. It was before the minds of all who looked for good from God. It was bound up with the Messiah's presence. Such is the way in which the Kingdom is presented in the Old Testament. Nor does the New Testament in any way set this aside, but confirms the expectation only it discloses the Kingdom in another shape before it is introduced in power when the Lord returns in glory.
Of this, however, the Pharisees knew nothing. They demanded of Him when the kingdom of God should come, thinking only of that which is to be manifest when the Jews shall be brought back from all their wanderings, and restored in their full nationality to the land under the Messiah, and the new covenant. The Lord, as throughout Luke, shows something more and deeper, something that demanded faith, before the establishment of the Kingdom in power. He answers them therefore, "The kingdom of God doth not come with observation." This was what was morally important to know now. The Kingdom would surely come as they looked for it in its own day, and the Lord distinctly lets us see this afterwards. But first of all He insists, as was most according to God, on that which they knew not, and which it most concerned them to know: "The kingdom of God doth not come with observation," (Matthew 24:23) or outward show.434 "Nor shall they say, Lo here, or, Lo* there; for lo, the kingdom of God is in the midst of you." Of this they were wholly ignorant, and this ignorance is fatal: for it was not to know God's king, when He manifested the true power of the Kingdom in victory over Satan, and over all the results of man's subjection to infirmity in this world-when He manifested it positively in righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Ghost, the dependent and obedient Man, but in the unfailing power of God which wrought by Him. To all this they were blind; they valued it not, because they valued not God. They did desire as a nation that which would elevate them, and overthrow their enemies; they did not desire that which exalts God and humbles man.
*"Lo" (Treg. text) is attested by AD and all later uncials and cursives (1, 33, 69), Amiat.; but other Edd. omit, as BL.
The Lord, therefore, in this His answer, first meets the moral need of the Pharisees, and shows that in the most important sense now, from the time of His rejection till His return in glory, it is no question of "Lo here, and lo there," but of faith to own the glory of His person, and to recognise that the power which wrought is God's. "The kingdom of God is in the midst of you." It was in their midst and they saw it not, because they saw not Him. They thought little of Jesus. This is ruin to every soul who hears but refuses the testimony.435
It will be observed that it is the kingdom of God, not of heaven. It is never said, while Jesus was here, that the kingdom of heaven was come; but Matthew confirms this report in Luke, were that needed, and represents the Lord as saying (Matthew 12:28), "If I by [the] Spirit of God cast out the demons, then, indeed, the kingdom of God is come upon you." The character of the power proclaimed God's kingdom. He was victor of Satan, and cast out his emissaries: none but the Seed of the woman, the Son of David, could do this. It was reserved for Him. (Matthew 28:18.) Others might, as God's servants, but He, as the Beloved, in whom His soul delighted. Those who cast the devil out, by God's gracious use of them, were their judges. Satan is not against Satan: else his kingdom would fall. But Messiah was there then, the King of God's kingdom, yet the Jews recognised it not. They rejected Him and He accepts His own rejection, but is exalted in heaven. Thence the kingdom of heaven begins, the rule of the heavens over the earth, now only known really to faith, the responsibility for those who are baptized to walk accordingly. Indeed, thus comes what is commonly called Christendom, the great field where not only wheat but tares grow together. It is, of course, also called the kingdom of God, as always in Luke. Matthew alone speaks of the kingdom of heaven, but he never speaks of the kingdom of heaven save as preached or promised, until the Lord left the earth. In short the kingdom of God was there when Christ was there, the conqueror over Satan, and exhibiting in every direction morally the power of the Spirit. But the kingdom of heaven was not there till from heaven He introduced His rule over the earth.436 When He returns in glory, it will he still the kingdom of heaven: the rule of the heavens will never be lost, certainly not when the Kingdom comes in power and glory.
Luke 17:22-24. Matthew 24:23f.
But the Lord next addresses the disciples, and says, "Days are coming when ye shall desire to see one of the days of the Son of man, and ye shall not see [it]."437 Here He can speak freely of the future form of the Kingdom, of which alone the Pharisees thought. The disciples had received the Lord by faith; and, however little intelligent they might be, they apprehended the kingdom of God among them. Hence the Lord could give them Divine light as to the future, when He should establish the Kingdom visibly. "Days are coming when ye shall desire to see one of the days of the Son of man, and ye shall not see [it]." He opens to them His rejection, as well as the efforts of Satan during his rejection. "And they will say unto you, Lo here; or, Lo there. Go not nor follow [them]." (Verse 23.) False Christs should arise; but they were forewarned. "For as the lightning which lightening from [one end] under heaven shineth to [the other end] under heaven, thus* shall the Son of man be in his day."† There will be no question of "Lo here, or, Lo there when Christ comes again any more than when He was here. It was unbelief to say, See here, and See there, when Christ was present in the power that revealed Who He must be and was. It will be unbelief by and by to say, See here, and See there; for the Kingdom will be established in power. They were not to follow such rumours but to heed His Word. He returns not merely as the rejected Messiah, but as the Son of man, the exalted ruler of all nations, peoples, and tongues. His Kingdom shall be manifested under the whole heaven as He comes from heaven.""
*"Thus." D, with some minuscules, adds "also," which Edd. reject, after ABL, etc., 1, 69, Syrr. Amiat. Memph.
†"In his day": so AL, later uncials, most cursives and versions (Syrrcu sin: "the day of the S. of m."). Blass omits, following BD, Old Lat.
Matthew 24:37-39; Mark 8:31.
"But first he must suffer many things and be rejected of this generation." This was in principle going on then; the Cross would be its consummation. The moral order is thoroughly according to God: first must He suffer. So we read in 1 Peter 1:11 of the sufferings of Christ and the glories that should follow. It must be so in a sinful world for one who seeks not his own glory, but God's, and the real and eternal good of man. It would be impossible to take the Kingdom when man is in a state of sin and rebellion. In grace, then, He accepts the rejection which was inexcusable on their part: and in His rejection He accomplishes atonement. Hence God can righteously introduce the Kingdom with many a rebel pardoned. Only this goes on now whilst He is gathering out the Church, before the Kingdom is set up in visible power. "First he must suffer many things, and be rejected of this generation." The Christ-rejecting generation was then and continues right through. In the crisis of the latter day, at the end of the age, this generation will still be there. "This generation shall not pass till all these things be fulfilled." In the millennial age there will be a new generation who shall praise the Lord and glorify Him for His mercy. But "this generation" is a perverse one, children in whom is no faith. Such were and are the Jews; and such will they abide, till judgment shall have dealt with the mass, who will have fallen into an apostate state and have accepted the Antichrist, leaving only the true remnant - who shall become a strong nation, the "all Israel" - who "shall be saved" in that day.439
The Lord next refers to the days of Noah: so should it be in His own days when He comes as the Son of man. It is no question either of receiving the Church or of judging the dead, though the latter will follow at the end, as the former precedes. Here it is distinctly the judgment of the quick on the earth, a truth which has very generally passed out of the mind of Christendom. "They ate, they drank, they married, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark, and the flood came and destroyed all [of them]." This cannot refer to any but those alive upon the earth surprised by the deluge. "And in like manner as took place in the days of Lot; they ate, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they builded." There was progress in the world; civilisation had advanced, but was it better morally? "But in the day that Lot went out from Sodom, it rained fire and sulphur from heaven and destroyed all [of them]." Men too easily forget that a judgment incomparably more comprehensive, but after the pattern of these two Divine interventions, awaits the world, and more particularly that part of it which has been favoured with the testimony of God. There can be no delusion more ruinous than the notion that because there is much good in the midst of Christendom its doom will not come. The Lord lingers in order to save souls. Such is His long-suffering and grace, but He "is not slack concerning His promise as some men count slackness." (2 Peter 3:9.) When His own are gathered out, judgment will proceed so much the more sternly because His grace was seen, its fruits manifested, and His warnings given in vain. As it was then in the days of Noah and in the days of Lot, - "after this [manner] shall it be in the day that the Son of man is revealed." For the Lord speaks only of His revelation from heaven in the judgment of the world, not at all of translating the saints to be with Himself in the Father's house.440
"In that day, he who shall be upon the housetop, and his stuff in the house, let him not go down to take it away; and he that is in the field, let him likewise not return back." It is no question of the destruction of Jerusalem,441 any more than that of the final judgment; and it is absurd to apply it to death. But the mind of man is fertile in expedients to parry the blows of the truth. It is a testimony which keeps the advent of the Lord Jesus to judge the habitable world ever hanging over the heads of careless men.
"Remember Lot's wife." This is a moral touch for those who might seem safer than others, but are not saved. It is peculiar to Luke, and a most searching word for every one whose face and heart are not steadily fixed on the Lord, for she was very near to Lot and seemed to have passed out of all reach of judgment. But her heart was in the city to which she looked back, and she heeded not the admonition of God's messengers, but in her destruction proved the truth of the word which she believed not."' "Whosoever shall seek to save* his life shall lose it, and whosoever shall lose it shall preserve it." 443 There is no security any more than real happiness save in faith, and faith is ever obedient to the Word of the Lord.
*"To Save" (σῶσαι): so ARXΓΔΛΠ and yet later uncials, most cursives, Vulg. - Blass reads "to preserve" (ζωογονῆσαι) with D. Other Edd.: "to acquire," as BL and some Old Lat.
"I say unto you, in that night there shall be two [men] upon one bed* one shall be taken444 and the other let go. Two [Women] shall be grinding together; the one † shall be taken and the other let go." Here again the proof is complete and palpable, that it is no question of the Remains dealing with Jerusalem and the Jews, for the conqueror made no such discrimination among the conquered, nor is it any other providential judgment executed by man, for he is incapable of thus distinguishing. But it is not so with the Son of man, who will thus judge between cattle and cattle whether among the Jews or among the Gentiles.
*"One bed": so most copies. BC omit "one." "One" (Treg.) Blass retains "the one" of T.R., with B, 1, 69.
†"The one": so Elzevir (1624) with corr. BDR, 1, 69 (Edd.).
Judged by the witnesses, verse 36 would appear to have no sufficient authority in our Gospel, but seems plainly to have been imported from the Gospel of Matthew, where it finds its just place.*
*Cf. the uncials DU alone, the Syrr. (including sin.) and most Old Lat. have this verse (Elzevir), Edd. in general reject (from Matthew).
"And answering they say to him, Where, Lord? And he said to them, Where the body [is], there* the eagles will be gathered together." The executors of God's judgment will not fail to find themselves where an object demands it in that day. Power and righteousness are then together, and a wisdom adequate even to that great occasion. It is the day of Jehovah for the world. The area of judgment is not limited to Judea as in Matthew 24, where a similar but stronger phrase appears - and indeed there is much in common between the two passages. That the Jews may be before the Lord here, too, as the prominent persons warned, is very possible. It is always so where the dealings of God with man and the earth are found; for Israel is Jehovah's son, His firstborn. When the Church or Christians are in view it is not so; for there the distinctions of the Jew or Gentile disappear before Him whom we have put on, and in whom is neither Jew nor Greek. The attempt to apply the passages to the Lord's coming for us, or at least not to distinguish between this and His appearing for the judgment of man, Jew or Gentile, is, that people construe "the eagles" as "the saints"! from Ambrose and Chrysostom, etc., down to Luther and Calvin, etc., and even to Burgon and Wordsworth in our days. They are still more perplexed as to "the body," some taking it as Christ!" others as the "Church," no less than "the eagles others as "the Lord's supper"; some as "the judgment"; others as "heaven"; and none really knowing anything rightly about the matter. Most moderns take "the eagles" as "the Romans," and "the body" as Jerusalem and the Jews. This is nearer the truth, but inadequate when simply applied to the past. M. Henry thinks that "the eagles" may mean both "the saints" and "the Romans"; and Ryle thinks it very probable that all the interpretations hitherto proposed will prove at last incorrect! I have given not nearly all the opinions: but my readers will agree that I have given at least enough, and that miserable comforters are they all, especially such as think that the truth remains to be discovered only at the Second Advent. There is not much living faith in such thoughts. What a descent from our Lord's promise, in John 16:13, now fulfilled: "When he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all the truth . . . and he will show you things to come."
*After "there," Edd. add "also," after BL, etc., 69, Memph.
NOTE. - Quotation marks agree with the author's article in "Bible Treasury," October, 1871, approved by himself, and were possibly intended to emphasise the number of conflicting interpretations.
NOTES ON THE SEVENTEENTH CHAPTER.
425Luke 17:1. - "Disciples": see note on Luke 16:1.
"All are included, from the severest persecutor to the inconsistent believer" (Neil).
There is a sermon by Dr. Chalmers on this verse.
426Luke 17:2. - "It would be more profitable," λυσιτελεῖ, Matthew has συμφέρει, whilst Mark has καλόν . . . μᾶλλόν. Cf. note 98 on Mark.
426a Luke 17:3 f. - Cf. Matthew 18:21 f. - Robert Chapman: "The man who seventy times seven forgives injuries, is he who best knows how to protect himself" ("Choice Sayings," p. 148). F. W. Robertson had already said from his pulpit: "Judaism was the education of the spiritual child, Christianity that of the spiritual man. . . . Judaism said, Forgive seven times - exactly so much; Christianity said, Forgiveness is a boundless spirit - not three times nor seven - seventy times seven. It must be left to the heart" ("Lectures on the Epistles to the Corinthians," p. 130). Augustine has a sermon on verse 3.
426b Luke 17:5. - "The only recorded instance of the disciples asking a spiritual gift of Christ" (Neil).
427Luke 17:6. - "Sycamine tree," Matthew and Mark have "mountain." Sanday: "He assumed the existence of the same power in His disciples as in Himself" ("Life of Christ in Recent Research," p. 223 f.). The American Revv. adhere to the Received Text ("D") "If ye had faith . . . . it would obey you."
Chas. Simeon preached on verse 5 f.
428Luke 17:8. - See Schor, p. 49.
429Luke 17:9. - See note 91 on Mark.
430Luke 17:10. - Bengel: "Woe be to him whom his Lord calls unprofitable servant, happy he who calls himself so."
Mackintosh: "In the presence of the living God the very thought of merit fills away" ("Christian Ethics," p. 44).
As to Messianic reward, see Abrahams, p. 20, and with regard to merely mercenary motive, cf. the saying of Antigonus of Socho in Pirgé Aboth: "Be not as servants, who serve their master on the understanding that they will receive recompense."
See Spurgeon's Sermon, 1541.
431 Luke 17:, 11. - (Cf. John 12: l.) Bengel by διὰ μέσον (μέσου) understood "between" (R.V., margin). So van Oosterzee, Hahn, and Plummer, that is, along the borders (American Revv.) of each, either as the Lord was journeying from Galilee to Jerusalem, or on some journey north from Ephraim back to Galilee, in order to make His final ascent with Galilean pilgrims. Upon the question of locality discussed by critics Luke 18:15 may throw some light, because Matthew 19:1; Mat 19:13 and Mark 10:1; Mar 10:13 show that the incident there recorded took place in Perea i.e., in the small strip of it shown in maps lying between Samaria and Galilee. Cf. Luke 9:52 and Luke 13:31.
Luther has a sermon on verses 11-19: Isaac Williams, one on verse 17.
432Luke 17:12. - Leviticus 13:45 f. The distance prescribed by "tradition" was 100 paces (Wetstein).
432a Luke 17:15 ff. - The excellent remarks of Maclaren (B. C. E., p. 216 f.) should be consulted.
433Luke 17:20 ff. - This discourse probably gave rise to the questions of the disciples in Matthew 24:3. Conjoined with Luke 18:1-8 here, between which and the last section of Luke 17 there should be no break as in R.V., the discourse may be divided into seven parts: verses 20 f., 22-24, 25-30, 31-33, 34-36, 37, 18: 1-8.
434 "Observation." The word παρατήρησις and its cognate verb were used medically for watching symptoms of a disease, and so express preliminary investigation; also in astrology, for observation of the stars. Luke's employmerit of the verb (Luke 6:7, Luke 14:1, Luke 20:20) is to indicate hostile intent: cf. Psalm 37:12 in LXX., and Weymouth's note on present passage.
The idea that the Lord's words mean that the Kingdom would not be physically visible is excluded by the after context, where the emphasis is laid on the future (Wernle, "Beginnings," p. 68).
435Luke 17:21. - "In the midst of," ἐντός. So Syrsin, Grotius, Bengel, Meyer, Alford, Trench, Weizsäcker, B. Weiss (referring to Song of Solomon 3:10),. H. Holtzmann, Schanz, Farrar, Spence, Lütgert, Plummer, Wernle, and Loisy. Cf. Luke 11:20. Wernle: "It is quite certain that the right translation is among" (loc. cit.). Warman "The Pharisees asked when, not where" ("New Testament Theology," p. 22 f.). Boehmer: "The Lord does not say 'already.' "
The A.V., "within," to which Revv. adhere in text, represents the view taken by Chrysostom, Erasmus, Luther, Calvin, Olshausen, Godet, Field, Candlish, Sanday, and Wellhausen. It is the rendering which has generally been favoured by mystics. Thus Fénélon recommends his reader who may perceive "natural impetuosity gliding in" to "retire quietly within, where is the kingdom of God." This rendering accords with the usage of ἐντός in Biblical Greek (Field); "among" represents its sense in the classical literature, with which this Evangelist must have been familiar. Wellhausen has to own that the sense of the present passage is different from the Matthaean passage as explained by him in commentary on that Gospel.
In whichever way the word be taken, it of course speaks of the Kingdom in its moral aspect (cf. Romans 14:17).
436 Cf. 19: 12 with note there.
437Luke 17:22 f. - "One of the days," etc.: cf. verses 24, 26, 30. Bengel, following Euthymius and Theophylact, took it as desire to recall one of the days of the Lord's life on earth, when it would be too late. See, however, Olshausen, Meyer and J. Weiss. Hahn (cf. Plummer) takes the μιάν as Hebraistic for "first ": cf. Luke 24:1 and Acts 20:7.
Least of all do these words mean, as Stevens represents, "epochs in the progressive development of His Kingdom" (p. 173). It is Luke's way of describing the παρουσία of Matthew 24:3; Mat 24:27; Mat 24:37-39, the eschatological and abiding "presence" (R.V. margin passim).
438Luke 17:24. - As to the ἐπιφάνεια of the παρουσία (2 Thessalonians 2:8), cf. note 134 on Mark and note 524 below; also Harnack, "Sayings," p. 106 f.
For "day" here (as also verse 30), compared with verse 22, see Genesis 2:4.
439Luke 17:25. - "This generation," with a moral signification, as already in Luke 16:8.
440Luke 17:26-30. - Here arises the question whether Lot's retirement from Sodom typifies the removal of Christians from this world in the sense of 1 Thessalonians 4:13 ff., or the deliverance of the future Jewish "Remnant" spoken of by the Apostle in Romans 9:27-29. Wellhausen (ad loc.) treats Noah and Lot as representing Christians, whilst owning that in Mark at least the admonition is to Jews. The Expositor's view is that of writers who explain it of the "Remnant." Cf. note 444.
"Is revealed." For the ἀποκάλυψις of the Lord Jesus, cf. 2 Thessalonians 1:7; 1 Corinthians 1:7, and 1 Peter 1:7.
441Luke 17:31. - The SON is here prominent, not "the Lord of the vineyard." See note on Luke 20:15 f.
442Luke 17:32. - These are the words inscribed on the monument which Bunyan's. "Hopeful" and "Christian" met with after parting with "Demas."
443Luke 17:33. - Cf. Luke 9:24, of which critics deem this a "duplicate." It is one of the sayings of the Lord found in all four Gospels.
444Luke 17:34. - B. Weiss rightly compares 1 Thessalonians 5:2; Norris wrongly, 1 Thess. 4: 19. In παραλαμβάνειν the preposition serves as well for take from the side of as for take to, etc. (John 14:3). Here it is for, not (as Plummer) from destruction.
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.
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.
And the apostles said unto the Lord, Increase our faith.
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.
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?
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.
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.
And it came to pass, as he went to Jerusalem, that he passed through the midst of Samaria and Galilee.
And as he entered into a certain village, there met him ten men that were lepers, which stood afar off:
And they lifted up their voices, and said, Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.
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.
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?
There are not found that returned to give glory to God, save this stranger.
And he said unto him, Arise, go thy way: thy faith hath made thee whole.
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:
Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.
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.
And they shall say to you, See here; or, see there: go not after them, nor follow them.
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.
But first must he suffer many things, and be rejected of this generation.
And as it was in the days of Noe, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of man.
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.
Remember Lot's wife.
Whosoever shall seek to save his life shall lose it; and whosoever shall lose his life shall preserve it.
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.
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.