And Jesus answered and said to her, Martha, Martha, you are careful and troubled about many things:
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)And Jesus answered.—The better MSS. give, “And the Lord answered.” (See Note on Luke 7:13.)
Martha, Martha.—We note a special tenderness of reproof in the two-fold utterance of the name, of which this and the like iteration of “Simon, Simon,” in Luke 22:31, are the only examples in our Lord’s recorded utterances during His earthly ministry. (Comp. “Saul, Saul,” in Acts 9:4.)
Thou art careful.—The verb is the same as the “take thought” of Matthew 6:25, and throws light upon the meaning of that phrase.
Troubled - Disturbed, distracted, very solicitous.
Many things - The many objects which excite your attention in the family. This was probably designed as a slight reproof, or a tender hint that she was improperly anxious about those things, and that she should, with Mary, rather choose to hear the discourses of heavenly wisdom.
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.
one thing is, which our Saviour here saith is needful. Some think our Saviour meaneth no more than, one dish is enough; but this certainly is too low a sense. Others would have this one thing to be a life of meditation and contemplation, and that this was that
good part Mary had chosen. If Mary had thus spent her whole life they might have said something for this. But certainly Mary’s choosing to take advantage of Christ’s company, rather to spend an hour or two in hearing of him, than in preparing a supper for him, will prove no such thing. I should interpret it generally, concerning the care of the soul with reference to eternity. That is certainly the one thing necessary, that was the better part, which Mary had chosen, as to which Christ would not discourage her, nor any way blunt the edge of those holy desires he had kindled in her, an effect of which study and care was her sitting at the feet of Christ to hear his word.
thou art careful and troubled about many things; intimating, that she was over anxious, and too solicitous, and more thoughtful and careful than she need be: he did not require such preparations for him, and so much attendance; she gave herself an unnecessary trouble in providing so many things for his entertainment, when less would have sufficed; so that instead of joining with her in her request, he reproves her for her over anxious care and solicitude, to have a nice and plentiful feast. The Persic version gives a sense quite contrary to the design of the text, rendering the words thus, "thou art adorned in all things, and hast the preference above many women".And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things:
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)Luke 10:41-42. Περὶ πολλά] Thou art anxious, and weariest thyself (art in the confusion of business) about many things, see Luke 10:40. On τυρβάζεσθαι περί τι, comp. Aristoph. Ran. 1007.
ἑνὸς δέ ἐστι χρεία] A contrast with πολλά: but of one thing there is need; one thing is necessary, that is to say, as an object of care and trouble. By these words Jesus, in accordance with the context, can mean nothing else than that from which Martha had withdrawn, while Mary was bestowing pains upon it—the undivided devotion to His word for the sake of salvation, although in tenderness He abstains from mentioning it by name, but leaves the reference of the expression, in itself only general, to be first discovered from the words which follow. In respect of the neuter ἑνός nothing is to be supplemented any more than there is in respect of πολλά. Following Gregory, Bede, Theophylact, Zeger, Michaelis, and others (comp. Erasmus in the Annotations), Paulus understands: one dish, “we need not many kinds,” and τὴν ἀγαθὴν μερίδα is then taken as meaning the really good portion, which figuratively represents the participation in communion with Jesus. The former, especially after the impressive Μάρθα, Μάρθα, would have been just as trivial and out of harmony with the serious manner of Jesus as the latter would have been discourteous to the well-intentioned hostess. Nachtigall also mistakes (in Henke’s Magaz. VI. p. 355), and Stolz agrees with him in interpreting: one person is enough (in the kitchen), in opposition to which the contrast of πολλά is decisive, seeing that according to it ἑνός must be neuter.
τὴν ἀγαθὴν μερίδα] the good part. That, namely, about which care and pains are taken, consists, according to the various kinds of these objects, of several parts. Mary has selected for herself among these, for her care and pains, the good part; and this is, in accordance with the subject, nothing else than precisely that ἕν which is necessary—that portion of the objects of solicitude and labour which is the good one, the good portion, which only one can be. More vaguely Grotius, Elsner, Kypke, Kuinoel, and others put it: the good occupation; and de Wette, generalizing this: the good destination of life. Comp. also Euthymius Zigabenus: δύο μερίδες πολιτείας ἐπαινεταὶ, ἡ μὲν πρακτική, ἡ δὲ θεωρητική.
τὴν ἀγαθήν] neither means optimam (Kuinoel and others), nor does it imply that the care of Martha, in which assuredly love also was expressed, was mala (Fritzsche, Conject. I. p. 19); but it designates the portion as the good one κατʼ ἐξοχήν.
ἥτις οὐκ ἀφαιρ. ἀπʼ αὐτ.] refers certainly, first of all, to Martha’s appeal, Luke 10:40. Hence it means: which shall not be taken away from her; she shall keep it, Mark 4:25, whereby, however, Jesus at the same time, in thoughtful reference to further issues, points, in His characteristically significant manner, to the everlasting possession of this μερίς. By ἥτις, which is not equivalent to ἥ, what follows is described as belonging to the essence of the ἀγαθὴ μερίς: quippe quae. “Transit amor multitudinis et remanet caritas unitatis,” Augustine.
Those who have found in Mary’s devotion the representation of the Pauline πίστις, and in the nature of Martha that of zeal for the law, so that the evangelist is made to describe the party relations of his own day (Baur, Zeller, Schwegler, Hilgenfeld), have, by a coup quite as unjustifiable as it was clumsy, transferred this relic of the home life of Jesus into the foreign region of allegory, where it would only inaptly idealize the party relations of the later period.
 Comp. the form of speech, πρὸς μερίδας δειπνεῖν, to dine in portions, and sea examples in Wetstein.Luke 10:41. θορυβάζῃ (from θόρυβος, an uproar; τυρβάζῃ T. R., from τύρβη, similar in meaning, neither form again in N. T.), thou art bustled, gently spoken and with a touch of pity.—περὶ πολλά: a great day in that house. Every effort made to entertain Jesus worthily of Him and to the credit of the house.41. Martha, Martha] The repeated name adds additional tenderness to the rebuke, as in Luke 22:31; Acts 9:4.
thou art careful and troubled about many things] “I would have you without carefulness,” 1 Corinthians 7:32; Matthew 6:25. The words literally mean, ‘Thou art anxious and bustling.’ Her inward solicitude was shewing itself in outward hastiness.
but one thing is needful] The context should sufficiently have excluded the very bald, commonplace, and unspiritual meaning which has been attached to this verse,—that only one dish was requisite. Clearly the lesson conveyed is the same as in Matthew 6:33; Matthew 16:26, even if our Lord’s first reference was the lower one. The various readings ‘but there is need of few things,’ or ‘of few things or of one’ (א, B, various versions, &c.) seem to have risen from the notion that even for the simplest meal more than one dish would be required. This, however, is not the case in the simple meals of the East.
that good part] Rather, portion (as of a banquet, Genesis 43:34, LXX.; John 6:27) or inheritance, Psalm 73:26. ἥτις = quippe quae. The nature of the portion is such that, &c.
which shall not be taken away from her] To speak of such theological questions as ‘indefectible grace’ here, is to use the narrative otherwise than was intended. The general meaning is that of Php 1:6; 1 Peter 1:5. It has been usual with Roman Catholic and other writers to see in Martha the type of the active, and in Mary of the contemplative disposition, and to exalt one above the other. This is not the point of the narrative, for both may and ought to be combined as in St Paul and in St John. The gentle reproof to Martha is aimed not at her hospitable activity, but at the ‘fret and fuss,’ the absence of repose and calm, by which it was accompanied; and above all, at the tendency to reprobate and interfere with excellence of a different kind.Luke 10:41. Μάρθα, Μάρθα, Martha, Martha) An Epizeuxis [the forcible repetition of the same word in the same sentence] calculated deeply to impress Martha’s mind.—μεριμνᾷς, thou art careful) inwardly. The antithesis is, οὐ μέλει σοι, hast Thou no care?—τυρβάζῃ, thou art troubled) externally. Its synonym is, περιεσπᾶτο, was distracted or cumbered. See Eustathius.Verse 41. - And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha. There are several notable instances of this repetition of the name by the Master in the New Testament story, and in each case apparently in pitying love. So "Simon, Simon," in Luke 22:31, and "Saul, Saul," in Acts 9:4.
See on Matthew 6:25.
From θόρυβος, tumult. Anxious denotes the inward uneasiness: troubled, the outward confusion and bustle.
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