Luke 14:31
Or what king, going to make war against another king, sits not down first, and consults whether he be able with ten thousand to meet him that comes against him with twenty thousand?
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(31) What king, going to make war against another king . .?—Here also there may have been a side-glance at contemporary history. The Tetrarch’s divorce of his first wife had involved him in a war with her father Aretas, an Arabian king or ethnarch (see Note on Luke 3:14), in which his army was destroyed, and the Jewish historian sees in this the commencement of all his subsequent misfortunes (Jos. Ant. v., 18:5, § 1).

In the spiritual interpretation of the two parables, the tower reminds us of the house in Matthew 7:24-27, and so stands for the structure of a holy life reared on the one Foundation; the warfare brings to our remembrance the conflict described in Matthew 12:29. Here it stands partly for the conflict which every Christian carries on against sin, the world, and the devil, and of which we should take a clear estimate before we enter on it, partly for the greater war on which Christ Himself had entered, and of which He too had counted the cost— that being, in His case, nothing less than the sacrifice of His own life.

14:25-35 Though the disciples of Christ are not all crucified, yet they all bear their cross, and must bear it in the way of duty. Jesus bids them count upon it, and then consider of it. Our Saviour explains this by two similitudes; the former showing that we must consider the expenses of our religion; the latter, that we must consider the perils of it. Sit down and count the cost; consider it will cost the mortifying of sin, even the most beloved lusts. The proudest and most daring sinner cannot stand against God, for who knows the power of his anger? It is our interest to seek peace with him, and we need not send to ask conditions of peace, they are offered to us, and are highly to our advantage. In some way a disciple of Christ will be put to the trial. May we seek to be disciples indeed, and be careful not to grow slack in our profession, or afraid of the cross; that we may be the good salt of the earth, to season those around us with the savour of Christ.With ten thousand to meet ... - Whether he will be able, with the forces which he "has," to meet his enemy. Christ here perhaps intends to denote that the enemies which we have to encounter in following him are many and strong, and that "our" strength is comparatively feeble. "To meet him." To contend with him. To gain a victory over him. 28-33. which of you, &c.—Common sense teaches men not to begin any costly work without first seeing that they have wherewithal to finish. And he who does otherwise exposes himself to general ridicule. Nor will any wise potentate enter on a war with any hostile power without first seeing to it that, despite formidable odds (two to one), he be able to stand his ground; and if he has no hope of this, he will feel that nothing remains for him but to make the best terms he can. Even so, says our Lord, "in the warfare you will each have to wage as My disciples, despise not your enemy's strength, for the odds are all against you; and you had better see to it that, despite every disadvantage, you still have wherewithal to hold out and win the day, or else not begin at all, and make the best you can in such awful circumstances." In this simple sense of the parable (Stier, Alford, &c., go wide of the mark here in making the enemy to be God, because of the "conditions of peace," Lu 14:32), two things are taught: (1) Better not begin (Re 3:15), than begin and not finish. (2) Though the contest for salvation be on our part an awfully unequal one, the human will, in the exercise of that "faith which overcometh the world" (1Jo 5:4), and nerved by power from above, which "out of weakness makes it strong" (Heb 11:34; 1Pe 1:5), becomes heroical and will come off "more than conqueror." But without absolute surrender of self the contest is hopeless (Lu 14:33). See Poole on "Luke 14:28" Or what king going to make war against another king,.... Our Lord illustrates the same thing, the business of a profession, by another similitude, or parable; taking up a profession of religion, is like to two kings engaging in a war. The king on the one side, is the Christian professor; true believers are kings, they have the apparel of kings, the royal robe of Christ's righteousness; they live like kings, at the table of the King of kings; have the attendance of kings, angels ministering unto them; have crowns and thrones as kings have, and greater than theirs; and have a kingdom of grace now, and are heirs of the kingdom of glory. The king on the other side, is the devil; who is the king and prince of the rest of the devils, and over the men of the world; a kingdom is ascribed to him, which is a kingdom of darkness; and he is said to be a great king, and is represented as proud, cruel, and tyrannical: now the Christian professor's life is a warfare; he is engaged with many enemies; the corruptions of his own heart within, and the world without; and especially Satan, who is to be resisted, and by no means to be yielded to, though there is a great inequality between them: and therefore what man that engages in such a warfare,

sitteth not down first, and consulteth whether he be able with ten thousand, to meet him that cometh against him with twenty thousand? and such a difference there is between the Christian professor and the devil; the one is flesh and blood, the other a spirit; the one is raw and undisciplined, the other a veteran soldier; the one a stripling, and the other the strong man armed: their numbers are unequal; the people of Christ are few, and their force and strength in themselves small; and they have a large number of devils, and of the men of the world, and of the lusts of their own hearts, to grapple with; wherefore it is necessary to sit down and consult, not with flesh and blood, but with other Christians; and chiefly, and above all, with God himself; what will be the charges of this warfare; the hardships to be endured; in whose name and strength they are to engage; what weapons to take, and how to use them; and how to get knowledge of the designs, methods, and strength of the enemy, and take every advantage of him.

Or what king, going to make war against another king, sitteth not down first, and consulteth whether he be able with ten thousand to meet him that cometh against him with twenty thousand?
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Luke 14:31-33. The king going to fight. This is the affair of the few, a parable to be laid to heart by men aspiring to, or capable of, a grand career.—συμβαλεῖν εἰς πόλεμον, to encounter in war (R.V[121]). or perhaps better “to fight a battle” (Field, Ot. Nor.). πόλεμον is so rendered in 1 Corinthians 14:8, Revelation 9:9, in A.V[122] (altered in R.V[123] into “war”). In Homer the idea of battle prevails, but in later writers that of war.—ἐν δέκα, in, with, in the position of one who has only 10,000 soldiers at comma d.—μετὰ εἴκοσι: to beat 20,000 with 10,000 is possible, but it is an unlikely event: the chances are against the king with the smaller force, and the case manifestly calls for deliberation. The implied truth is that the disciple engages in a very unequal conflict. Cf. St. Paul, “we wrestle against principalities,” etc., Ephesians 6:12. A reference in this parable to the relations between Herod Antipas (the “fox”) and Aretas, his father-in-law, is possible (Holtzmann, H. C.).

[121] Revised Version.

[122] Authorised Version.

[123] Revised Version.31. what king, going to make war against another king] Rather, to meet another king in battle. There may be an historical allusion here to the disturbed relations between Herod Antipas and his injured father-in-law Hareth, king of Arabia, which (after this time) ended in the total defeat of the former (Jos. Antt. xviii. 5, § 3).Luke 14:31. , or) Christianity is a great and difficult thing. It is therefore compared with great and difficult things: such as is the undertaking of a costly building in one’s private concerns, of a war, in the case of public concerns. The former parable expresses the ‘hatred’ of “father, mother,” etc.: the second parable expresses hatred of one’s “own life.”—βασιλεὺς, king) The Christian warfare has something royal and kingly in it.—εἰς πόλεμον, to engage in war). Comp. Genesis 32:24.Verses 31, 32. - Or what king, going to make war against another king, sitteth not down first, and consulteth whether he be able with ten thousand to meet him that cometh against him with twenty thousand! Or else, while the other is yet a great way off, he sendeth an ambassage, and desireth conditions of peace. It is not improbable that this simile was derived from the history of the time. The unhappy connection of the tetrarch Herod with Herodias had brought about the divorce of that sovereign's first wife, who was daughter of Aretas, a powerful Arabian prince. This involved Herod in an Arabian war, the result of which was disastrous to the tetrarch. Josephus points out that this ill-omened incident was the commencement of Herod Antipas's subsequent misfortunes. Our Lord not improbably used this simile, foreseeing what would be the ultimate end of this unhappy war of Herod. The. first of these two little similes rather points to the building up of the Christian life in the heart and life. The second is an image of the warfare which' every Christian man must wage against the world, its passions, and its lusts. If we cannot brace ourselves up to the' sacrifice necessary for the completion of the building up of the life we know the Master loves; if we shrink from the cost involved in the warfare against sin and evil - a warfare which will only end with life - better for us not to begin the building or risk the war. It will be a wretched alternative, but still it will be best for us to make our submission at once to the world and its prince; at least, by so doing we shall avoid the scandal and the shame of injuring a cause which we adopted only to forsake. The Swiss commentator Godet very naturally uses here a simile taken from his own nationality: "Would not a little nation like the Swiss bring down ridicule on itself by declaring war with France, if it were not determined to die nobly on the field of battle?" He was thinking of the splendid patriotism of his own brave ancestors who had determined so to die, and who carried out their gallant purpose. He was thinking of stricken fields like Morgarten and Sempach, and of brave hearts like those of Rudolph of Erlach, and Arnold of Winkelried, who loved their country better than their lives. This was the spirit with which Christ's warriors must undertake the hard stern warfare against an evil and corrupt world, otherwise better let his cause alone. The sombre shadow of the cross lay heavy and dark across all the Redeemer's words spoken at this time. To make war against another king (ἑτέρῳ βασιλεῖ συμβαλεῖν εἰς πόλεμον)

Lit., to come together with another king Jer war. So Rev., to encounter another king in war.

"Out he flashed,

And into such a song, such fire for fame,

Such trumpet-blowings in it, coming down

To such a stern and iron-clashing close,

That when he stopped we longed to hurl together."

Tennyson, Idyls of the King.

With ten thousand (ἐν δέκα χιλιάσιν)

Lit., in ten thousands: i.e., in the midst of; surrounded by. Compare Jde 1:14.

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