Luke 10:17
And the seventy returned again with joy, saying, Lord, even the devils are subject to us through your name.
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(17) And the seventy returned again with joy.—It is obvious from the immediate sequence of the two facts that the mission of the Seventy was, as stated above, confined within narrow limits of space and time.

Lord, even the devils are subject unto us.—Better, the demons. The tone in which the disciples speak is that of a joyful surprise. They had not looked for such great and immediate results. They had thought that the power to cast out demons had been confined to our Lord’s immediate action or to that of the Twelve, and they found that they too possessed the power to rescue the spirits of men from thraldom. With them, as with others, the consciousness of a new power was attended with a new pleasure, in this case, with that of high spiritual exultation.



Luke 10:1 - Luke 10:11
, Luke 10:17 - Luke 10:20.

The mission of the Seventy is clearly distinguished from and contrasted with that of the Twelve by the word ‘others’ in verse 1, which points back to Luke 9:1. The Twelve were prohibited from going beyond Jews; the Seventy were under no such restriction, and were probably sent to the half-Gentile districts on the east of Jordan. The number of twelve had reference to the number of the tribes; that of seventy may have referred to the number of the elders, but it has also been suggested that its reference is to the supposed number of the nations. The appointment of the Twelve was to a permanent office; that of the Seventy to a transitory mission. Much of the charge given to either is given to both, as is most natural, since they had the same message, and both were sent to prepare for Christ’s personal ministry. But though the Seventy were sent out but for a short time, permanent principles for the guidance, not only of Christian workers, but of all Christian lives, are embodied in the charge which they received.

We note, first, that all personal service should be preceded by intense realisation of the immense field, and of the inadequacy, of Christian effort, which vision will culminate in prayer for more toilers to be ‘sent forth.’ The word implies a certain measure of compulsion, for an overmastering impulse is always needed to overcome human reluctance and laziness. No man has ever done large service for God who has not felt that, like the prophet, he was laid hold of by the Spirit, and borne away, whether he would or no. ‘I must speak,’ is felt by every true messenger of God. The prayer was answered by the sending of the pray-ers, as it often is. Note how Jesus implies that He is Lord of the harvest, in that His sending them is the answer to the petition. Note, too, the authority which He claims to exercise supreme sovereignty over the lives of men. He has the right to fling them into deadly peril for no other purpose than to proclaim His name. Lambs, ringed round by wolves with white, gleaming teeth, have little chance of life. Jesus gives His servants full warning of dangers, and on the very warning builds an exhortation to quiet confidence; for, if the sentence ends with ‘lambs in the midst of wolves,’ it begins with ‘I send you forth,’ and that is enough, for He will defend them when He seeth the wolf coming. Not only so, but He will also provide for all their needs, so they want no baggage nor money, nor even a staff. A traveller without any of these would be in poor case, but they are not to carry such things, because they carry Jesus. He who sends them forth goes with them whom He sends. Now, this precept, in its literal form, was expressly abolished afterwards {Luke 22:36}, but the spirit of it is permanent. If Christ sends us, we may trust Him to take care of us as long as we are on His errands.

Energetic pursuit of their work, unimpeded by distractions of social intercourse, is meant by the prohibition of saluting by the way. That does not mean churlish isolation, but any one who has ever seen two Easterns ‘saluting’ knows what a long-drawn-out affair it is. How far along the road one might have travelled while all that empty ceremony was being got through! The time for salutations is when the journey is over. They mean something then. The great effect of the presence of Christ’s servants should be to impart the peace which they themselves possess. We should put reality into conventional courtesies. All Christians are to be peacemakers in the deepest sense, and especially in regard to men’s relations with God. The whole scope of our work may be summed up as being to proclaim and bring peace with God, with ourselves, with all others, and with circumstances. The universality of our message is implied in the fact that the salutation is to be given in every house entered, and without any inquiry whether a ‘son of peace’ is there. The reflex blessedness of Christian effort is taught in the promise that the peace, vainly wished for those who would not receive it, is not wasted like spilt water, but comes back like a dove, to the hand of its sender. If we do no other person good, we bless ourselves by all work for others.

The injunctions as to conduct in the house or city that receives the messengers carry two principles of wide application. First, they demand clear disinterestedness and superiority to vulgar appetites. Christ’s servants are not to be fastidious as to their board and lodging. They are not to make demands for more refined diet than their hosts are accustomed to have, and they are not to shift their quarters, though it were from a hovel to a palace. The suspicion that a Christian worker is fond of good living and sensuous delights robs his work of power. But the injunction teaches also that there is no generosity in those who hear the message giving, and no obligation laid on those who deliver it by their receiving, enough to live and work on. The less we obviously look for, the more shall we probably receive. A high-minded man need not scruple to take the ‘hire’; a high-minded giver will not suppose that he has hired the receiver to be his servant.

The double substance of the work is next briefly stated. The order in which its two parts stands is remarkable, for the healing of the sick is put first, and the proclamation of the nearness of the kingdom second. Possibly the reason is that the power to heal was a new gift. Its very priority in mention may imply that it was but a means to an end, a part of the equipment for the true and proper work of preaching the coming of the kingdom and its King. At all events, let us learn that Jesus wills the continual combination of regard to the bodily wants and sicknesses, and regard to the spiritual needs of men.

The solemn instructions as to what was to be done in the case of rejection breathe a spirit the reverse of sanguine. Jesus had no illusions as to the acceptance of the message, and He will send no man out to work hiding from him the difficulties and opposition probably to be encountered. Much wisdom lies in deciding when a field of labour or a method of work should be abandoned as hopeless-for the present and for the individual worker, at all events. To do it too soon is cowardice; to delay it too long is not admirable perseverance, but blindness to plain providences. To shake off the dust is equivalent to severing all connection. The messenger will not bring away the least thing belonging to the city. But whatever men’s unbelief, it does not affect the fact, but it does affect their relation to the fact. The gracious message was at first that ‘the kingdom of God is come nigh unto you,’ but the last shape of it leaves out ‘unto you’: for rejection of the word cuts off from beneficial share in the word, and the kingdom, when it comes, has no blessing for the unbelieving soul.

The return of the Seventy soon followed their being sent forth. They came back with a childish, surprised joy, and almost seem to have thought that Jesus would be as much astonished and excited as they were with the proof of the power of His name. They had found that they could not only heal the sick, but cast out demons. Jesus’ answer is meant to quiet down their excitement by teaching them that He had known what they were doing whilst they were doing it. When did He behold Satan fall from heaven? The context seems to require that it should be at the time when the Seventy were casting out demons. The contest between the personal Source of evil and Jesus was fought out by the principals, not by their subordinates, and it is already victoriously decided in Christ’s sight. Therefore, as the sequel of His victory, He enlarges His gifts to His servants, couching the charter in the words of a psalm {Psalm 91:1 - Psalm 91:16}. Nothing can harm the servant without the leave of the Master, and if any evil befall him in his work, the evil in the evil, the poison on the arrow-head, will be wiped off and taken away. But great as are the gifts to the faithful servant, they are less to be rejoiced in than his personal inclusion among the citizens of heaven. Gifts and powers are good, and may legitimately be rejoiced in; but to possess eternal life, and to belong to the mother-city of us all, the New Jerusalem, is better than all gifts and all powers.Luke 10:17-20. And the seventy returned — The seventy disciples, having gone through the several parts of the country appointed them, returned and told their Master with great joy what they had done, saying, Lord, even the devils are subject unto us through thy name — We have not only cured diseases, according to the power thou wast pleased to give us, but, though thy commission did not directly express so much, yet even the devils themselves have been compelled to obey us, when in thy name we commanded them to go out of the persons whom they had possessed. From the manner in which they speak of this latter exertion of their power, it would appear to have been what they did not expect when they set out. For though Jesus had given them power to heal diseases, he had said nothing of their casting out devils. And he said, I beheld Satan as lightning — “I myself saw Satan, the great prince of the demons, falling like lightning from heaven, on his first transgression, and well remember how immediate and dreadful his ruin was: and I foresee, in spirit, that renewed, swift, and irresistible victory, of which this present success of yours is an earnest, and which the preaching of the gospel shall shortly gain over all these rebel powers, that, even in their highest strength and glory, were so incapable of opposing the arm of God.” Thus Doddridge, who adds, “I think this answer to the seventy loses much of its beauty and propriety, unless we suppose Satan to have been the prince of the demons they spoke of, and also allow a reference to the first fall of that rebellious spirit.” To be exalted unto heaven, signifies to be raised unto great power and privileges, and particularly to sovereign dominion. To fall from heaven, therefore, may signify to lose one’s dominion and pre-eminency. The devils, by the idolatry of the Gentiles and wickedness of the Jews, had been exalted into heaven, and had ruled mankind in opposition to the dominion of God; by the preaching of the gospel their power was to be destroyed in every country. As Christ foreknew this, so he here foretels it. Behold, I give unto you power, &c. — To prove that he had thrown down Satan from his exaltation, and that his power should, in the end, be totally destroyed; and to increase their joy, and render them more fit for their work, he here enlarges their powers. To tread on serpents, is a proverbial expression, which signifies victory over enemies; accordingly, it is added, and over all the power of the enemy; and nothing shall by any means hurt you — See note on Mark 16:18; and Acts 28:5; and Psalm 91:13. Notwithstanding, in this rejoice not — Rejoice not so much in this, that the spirits, namely, evil spirits, are subject unto you, and that you are enabled miraculously to control and cast them out of those possessed by them, and that you can perform other miracles, because this is but a temporary endowment and pre-eminence, sometimes granted to wicked men, whom it in no wise qualifies for heaven; but rather rejoice that your names are written in heaven — That you stand enrolled among the heirs of future glory and felicity, as the peculiar objects of the divine favour and love. This and similar passages seem to be allusions to the enrolment of citizens’ names in registers, by which their right to the privileges of citizenship was acknowledged by the community. See notes on Exodus 32:32; Daniel 12:1; and compare Php 4:3; Revelation 3:5.10:17-24 All our victories over Satan, are obtained by power derived from Jesus Christ, and he must have all the praise. But let us beware of spiritual pride, which has been the destruction of many. Our Lord rejoiced at the prospect of the salvation of many souls. It was fit that particular notice should be taken of that hour of joy; there were few such, for He was a man of sorrows: in that hour in which he saw Satan fall, and heard of the good success of his ministers, in that hour he rejoiced. He has ever resisted the proud, and given grace to the humble. The more simply dependent we are on the teaching, help, and blessing of the Son of God, the more we shall know both of the Father and of the Son; the more blessed we shall be in seeing the glory, and hearing the words of the Divine Saviour; and the more useful we shall be made in promoting his cause.The devils are subject unto us - The devils obey us. We have been able to cast them out.

Through thy name - When commanded in thy name to come out of those who are possessed.

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.

As we before read of the twelve coming back to give Christ an account of their success, so we here have the same of the seventy. Whether this joy of the seventy was more carnal than it ought, they rather rejoicing in that new power which they had received from Christ, than in the demonstration of Christ’s Divine power, and the confirmation of the doctrine of the gospel by these miraculous operations, is hard to determine; for though Christ’s reply seemeth to have a check in it, yet it is so qualified by the term rather, Luke 10:20, that we cannot from thence absolutely conclude any such thing from it. Here is a difference to be observed between Christ’s and his disciples’ casting out of devils. Christ did it in his own name, by his own word of command, power, and authority; the disciples did it in Christ’s name, and by a power and authority derived from him. And the seventy returned again,.... The Syriac version adds, "whom he had sent": these disciples having received orders and instructions from Christ, went as he directed them; and when they had finished their embassy, they returned again to him, and gave him an account of their journey and success. The Vulgate Latin and Persic versions read here, "the seventy two", as they do in Luke 10:1

with joy; with great joy, as read the Syriac and Persic versions; notwithstanding the difficulties that had attended them, reproaches cast upon them, the ill treatment they might have met with in some places, and the labours and fatigues of their journey, and the dangers they had been exposed to:

saying, Lord, even the devils are subject unto us through thy name: they found the miraculous power conferred on them was greater than they at first imagined, or could collect from what Christ said to them, who only bid them heal the sick, Luke 10:9, but when they came to make use of it they found they had a power of casting out devils; not in their own name and strength, but in the name, and through the power, and by the authority of Christ; and this had thrown them into an ecstasy of joy, and in a sort of a rapture: they express themselves as men astonished at the powers bestowed on them.

{4} And the seventy returned again with joy, saying, Lord, even the devils are subject unto us {e} through thy name.

(4) Neither the gift of miracles, neither any other excellent gift, but only our election gives us an occasion of true joy. And only the publishing of the gospel is the destruction of Satan.

(e) For Christ's disciples used no absolute authority, but performed the miracles they did by calling upon Christ's name.

Luke 10:17-20. The fact that the account of the return of the Seventy follows immediately cannot prove that in the history of this journey (from Luke 9:51 onward) Luke is not holding the chronological thread (Olshausen). In accordance with the purpose of the mission (Luke 10:1), some must have returned very soon, others later, so that Jesus might anticipate the return of one portion of them before the return of those who had gone farther, and Luke might equally exclude the summary narration of the return without passing over anything of importance that intervened.

καὶ τὰ δαιμόνια κ.τ.λ.] over which He had not given to them, as He had to the Twelve (Luke 9:1), an express authority: “Plura in effectu experti sunt, quam Jesus expresserat,” Bengel. This is necessarily implied in καί; but it is not to be inferred, as Köstlin assumes, that Luke regarded the casting out of demons as the highest χάρισμα.

ἐν τῷ ὀνόμ. σ.] by means of Thy name, by the fact of our utterance of it. Comp. on Luke 9:49; Matthew 7:22. Otherwise in Mark 16:17.

Luke 10:18. This I saw happen in this wise when I sent you forth (ἐθεώρουν, imperf.)! This your victorious agency against Satan (whose servants the demons are) was not hidden from me. I beheld at that time (in the spirit, in idea) Satan fallen like a lightning flash from heaven, i.e. I then[130] perceived the swift overthrow of Satan from his lofty power, in so lively a manner that it presented itself to me in my inward perception, as if he were like a flash of lightning (so swift, so momentary!) hurled out of heaven (ΠΕΣΌΝΤΑ, not the present). The whole reply of Jesus (comp. Luke 10:19-20) is rich in imagination, full of vivid imagery, confirming the triumphant assertion of the disciples in equally joyous excitement.[131] Comp. Revelation 12:9; and on the fact itself, John 12:31, where no more than here is intended any allusion to the downfall of the hierarchical party (Schenkel). He does not mean to speak of a vision (von Ammon, L. J. II. p. 359), since such a thing nowhere occurs in His experience, inasmuch as in consideration of His direct perception He had no need of such intermediate helps; but He means an intuition of His knowledge, and speaks of it under a vivid, lifelike form, which the imagination is able to grasp. The relative tense ἐθεώρουν might also be referred to the time of the disciples’ ministry (de Wette, Bleek, Schegg; comp. Bengel, tentatively, “quum egistis”); yet this is the less appropriate to the assertion of the instantaneous πεσόντα, and to the comparison with the lightning’s flash, that the ministry of the Seventy lasted for a time.

The representation ἘΚ ΤΟῦ ΟὐΡΑΝΟῦ ΠΕΣΌΝΤΑ[132] does not in any way presuppose Satan’s abode in heaven (as to Paul’s representation of the abode of the demons in the atmosphere, see on Ephesians 2:2), but corresponds to the thought of highly exalted power, as above, Luke 10:15, and Isaiah 14:12; the representation, however, of its swiftness and suddenness by comparison with a flash of lightning was by reason of the τοῦ οὐρανοῦ as natural and appropriate as is the comparison of the lightning in Matthew 24:27.

Luke 10:19. According to the reading ΔΈΔΩΚΑ (see the critical remarks), Jesus gives them not a mere supplementary explanation (objection by de Wette), but He explains to them what a much greater power still they had received from Him and possessed (perfect) than that which they had experienced in the subjection of the demons. This investiture with power occurred before the sending of them forth, although it is not expressly mentioned in the commission, Luke 10:2 ff.; but it was left to become clear to their consciousness through experience, and they had already partially begun to be conscious of it in the subjection of the demons to their power.

τοῦ πατεῖν ἐπάνω ὄφεων κ. σκορπ.] a figurative description (in accordance with Psalm 91:13, and see the Rabbinical passages in Wetstein) of the dangerous Satanic powers, which the Seventy were to tread under their feet, as warriors do their conquered foes (Romans 16:20).

καί] and generally.

The emphasis of the discourse as it advances lies on πᾶσαν and ΟὐΔΈΝ.

] of the enemy, of whom our Lord is speaking, and that is none other than Satan. Comp. Test. XII. Patr. p. 657: προσέχετε ἑαυτοῖς ἀπὸ τοῦ ΣατανᾶΚατέναντι τῆς βασιλείας τοῦ ἐχθροῦ στήσεται. Matthew 13:25; 1 Peter 5:8.

ΟὐΔΈΝ] is the accusative neuter: and in nothing will it (the δύναμις τοῦ ἐχθροῦ) harm you; comp. Acts 25:10; Galatians 4:12; Philemon 1:18; Wolf, ad Dem. Lept. p. 343.

ἀδικήσει (see the critical remarks): as to the future after οὐ μή, see on Matthew 26:35; Mark 14:31.

Luke 10:20. Nevertheless your rejoicing should have for its object a higher good than that authority over spirits. Theophylact well says: ΠΑΙΔΕΎΩΝ ΔῈ ΑὐΤΟῪς ΜῊ ὙΨΗΛΟΦΡΟΝΕῖΝ, ΦΗΣΊ· ΠΛῊΝ ἘΝ ΤΟΎΤῼ Κ.Τ.Λ. In accordance with his presuppositions, Baur, Evang. p. 439, thinks that the evangelist had Revelation 21:14 in view, and that he in a partisan spirit referred[133] to the Seventy the absolute significance in respect of the kingdom of God which the apocalyptic writer attributes to the Twelve.

μὴ χαίρετε κ.τ.λ.] rejoice not … out rejoice. Not a relative (non tam … quam, see Kuinoel, de Wette, and many others), but an absolute negation with rhetorical emphasis (Winer, p. 439 [E. T. 620, 621]), although “gaudium non vetatur, sed in ordinem redigitur,” Bengel.

ὅτι τὰ ὀνόμ. κ.τ.λ.] an embodiment of the thought: that ye are destined by God to be in the future participators in the eternal Messianic life, in accordance with the poetic representation of the Book of Life kept by God (Exodus 32:32 f.; Psalm 69:29; Isaiah 4:3; Php 4:3; Revelation 3:5; comp. on Matthew 5:12) in which their names had been written (ἐγράφη). The predestination thereby set forth is that which occurred before the beginning of time in Christ (Ephesians 1:4). See on Php 4:3.

[130] Without any ground in the context, ἐθεώρουν has been dated farther back in various ways. Lange, L. J. II. 2, p. 1070 f. (comp. also Philippi, Glaubenslehre, III. p. 308), refers it to the temptation in the desert, and conceives that with the rebuke of Christ, Get thee hence from me! Satan was “cast forth from the heavenly circle of Christ and His people.” Gregory Nazianzen and other Fathers, Euthymius Zigabenus, Maldonatus, and others, refer it to the time of Christ’s incarnation, by which Satan was cast down, a result which Christ here describes as a “dux belli suas narrans victorias” (Maldonatus). Other Fathers, including Origen and Theophylact, Erasmus and others, refer it to the fall of the devil by sin, whereby he lost his place in heaven. Thus also Hofmann, Schriftbew. I. p. 443, who indeed would have “the fall from heaven” to signify only the loss of the fellowship of the supramundane life of God (p. 458). According to this, the imperfect must have its reference to a fact of which Christ was a witness when He was still the λόγος ἄσαρκος. But against the explanation of Satan’s fall by sin, it is decisive that with this overthrow of Satan his power on earth was not broken, but it then first began. The explanation is therefore quite opposed to the connection in which our passage stands, since Jesus is not at all desirous of warning against arrogance (the view of many Fathers), but must certainly be speaking of the destruction of the devil’s power, of the overthrow of the devilish strength. Hence also Hilgenfeld is quite mistaken, Evang. p. 184, in making it refer to Revelation 12:9, saying that Jesus saw how the devil “even now is working with special energy upon the earth,” that with the near approach of the passion of Jesus (not for the first time shortly before the last day) came therefore the point of time when the devil, who had been driven out of the field, should develope his power anew. Moreover, Hahn, Theol. d. N. T. I. p. 342, rightly referring ἐθεώρουν to the time of sending out the Seventy, finds the meaning to be: I beheld Satan descend from heaven with the rapidity of lightning to hinder your work; but fear ye not, behold I give you power, etc. In accordance with the context, πεσόντα must mean the knocking down of the devil, not his descent from heaven; but the connection which Hahn makes with ver. 19 is neither intimated (in any wise by ἀλλ ̓ ἰδοὺ κ.τ.λ.), nor does it suit the correct reading δέδωκα.

[131] Against this view Hofmann objects that it is foreign to the connection (wherefore?), and that it gives to the mission an importance that does not belong to it. But was it then something of little importance to send forth seventy new combatants against Satan’s power? Could not the commander of this new warrior band behold, in the spirit, when He sent them forth, the devil’s overthrow?

[132] ἐκ τοῦ οὐρανοῦ is not to be taken with ἀστραπήν, as Schleiermacher would have it, who, moreover, takes pains in his Vorles. üb. d. L. J. p. 333 ff., with subtlety at variance with true exegesis, to exclude the doctrine of the devil from the teaching of Jesus. He says that Jesus speaks of the devil according to a current representation,—just as people speak of ghosts, without believing in their reality, and as we say that the sun rises, though everybody knows that the sun does not in reality rise.

[133] Which, however, by a glance at Revelation 3:5; Revelation 17:8, is shown to be erroneous. Moreover, according to Weizsäcker, vv. 18–20 are said to be of the “latest origin.”Luke 10:17-20. Return of the Seventy. No such report of the doings of the Twelve, and of their Master’s congratulations, is given in any of the Gospels (cf. Mark 6:30-31). It seems as if Lk. attached more importance to the later mission, as Baur accused him of doing under the influence of theological tendency (Pauline universalism). But probably this report was one of the fruits of his careful research for memorabilia of Jesus: “a highly valuable tradition arising on Jewish-Christian soil, and just on account of its strangeness trustworthy” (J. Weiss in Meyer). Similarly Feine, and Resch, Agrapha, p. 414, note.17. returned again with joy] The success of their mission is more fully recorded than that of the Twelve.

the devils] Rather, the demons. They had been bidden (Luke 10:9) to “heal the sick;” but these are the only healings that they mention.

are subject] Rather, are being subjected.Luke 10:17. Ὑπέστρεψαν, returned) one pair after another. [They had not been long away.—V. g. To wit, Luke mentions their mission and return in the one passage; for having been sent forth only a few weeks before the Lord’s passion, they could not be away very long.—Harm., p. 390.]—[μετὰ χαρᾶς, with joy) They had two most weighty and sufficient reasons for their joy: 1) because a short while before the disciples had not been able to drive a demon out of a lunatic: 2) because, in giving them His instructions, the Lord had indeed made mention in general of healing the sick, but not of casting out demons.—Harm., p. 390.]—καὶ τὰ δαιμόνια, even the demons) They experienced more things (more gifts conferred on them) in the actual effect, than Jesus had expressed.Verse 17. - And the seventy returned again with joy, saying, Lord, even the devils are subject unto us through thy Name. How wavering and hesitating the faith of the chosen followers of Jesus was, even at this late period of his public ministry, is clear from this frank confession of surprise at their powers. They were contrasting the present with what had lately happened at the foot of the Mount of Transfiguration, where the disciples were utterly unable to heal the possessed boy. What a contrast do these true writers of the gospel story paint between themselves and their Master! They never seem to tire in their self-depreciatory descriptions. They describe with the same careful, truthful pen their slowness to understand what afterwards became so clear to them - their mutual jealousies, their covetous hopes of a brilliant future, their shrinking from pain and suffering, their utter failure when they try to imitate their Master; and now we find them marvelling at their own - to them - unexpected success in their imitation of him. The seventy

"The fuller development of the new dispensation begins with the mission of the seventy, and not with the mission of the apostles. Its ground-work, from Luke's point of sight, is the symbolic evangelization of every nation upon earth, and not the restoration of the twelve tribes of Israel. According to Jewish tradition, there were seventy or seventy-two different nations and tongues in the world. In Luke 10:1, some read seventy-two instead of seventy" (Westcott, "Int. to the Study of the Gospels").

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