Luke 16:17
And it is easier for heaven and earth to pass, than one tittle of the law to fail.
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(17) It is easier for heaven and earth to pass.—See Notes on Matthew 5:18. Our first impression on reading the words here is that there is less logical sequence in their position. They seem unconnected with the teaching as to the mammon of unrighteousness. It is possible that here, as elsewhere, some links of the chain have been dropped; but the explanation that has been given of the preceding parable gives a sufficient connection. The scribes and Pharisees had been tampering with the sacredness of the laws which are not of to-day or yesterday—fixed as the everlasting hills—and they are told that their casuistry cannot set aside the claims of those laws in any single instance, such, e.g., as that which immediately follows.

16:13-18 To this parable our Lord added a solemn warning. Ye cannot serve God and the world, so divided are the two interests. When our Lord spoke thus, the covetous Pharisees treated his instructions with contempt. But he warned them, that what they contended for as the law, was a wresting of its meaning: this our Lord showed in a case respecting divorce. There are many covetous sticklers for the forms of godliness, who are the bitterest enemies to its power, and try to set others against the truth.See the notes at Matthew 5:18. 17. it is easier, &c.—(See on [1679]Mt 5:17, 18) Neither do you scandalize me, as if I came to teach a new doctrine, contrary to the law and the prophets. I tell you the quite contrary; heaven and earth shall pass away, before one tittle of the law shall pass. Your vain interpretations of the law shall be destroyed, or amended, but the law of my Father shall remain as a certain rule of life to his people until the world shall have an end.

And it is easier for heaven and earth to pass,.... This is said by Christ, lest it should be thought by his saying, that the law and the prophets were until John, that they were no longer, nor of any more use; but were now abrogated and laid aside; whereas heaven and earth might sooner pass away, and the whole frame of nature be dissolved:

than one tittle of the law to fail; which, and the prophets, in all the precepts, promises, types, figures, prophecies, &c. thereof, had their full accomplishment in the person, miracles, obedience, sufferings, and death of Christ; see Matthew 5:18.

And it is easier for heaven and earth to pass, than one tittle of the law to fail.
Luke 16:17 = Matthew 5:18, substantially. Luke 16:18 = Matthew 5:32. Its bearing here is very obscure, and its introduction in a connection to which it does not seem to belong is chiefly interesting as vouching for the genuineness of the logion. J. Weiss suggests that its relevancy and point would have been more apparent had it come in after Luke 16:13. On the critical question raised by this verse, vide J. Weiss in Meyer.

17. than one tittle of the law] The word for ‘tittle’ is keraia, the tip or horn of a letter, such as that which distinguishes ב from כ or ה from ח Thus the Jews said that the letter Yod prostrated itself before God, because Solomon had taken it from the law (in the word Nashim) by marrying many wives and God made this same answer to them. Similarly they said that when God took the Yod (the “jot” of Matthew 5:18) from the name Sarai, He divided it between Sarah and Abraham, since Yod= 10, and H = 5.

to fail] Rather, to fall. See Matthew 5:18. The law did not fall to the ground; its abrogation was only its absolute fulfilment in all its eternal principles. The best comment on the verse is Matthew 5:27-48. The bearing of these remarks on the previous ones seems to be that our Lord charges the Pharisees with hypocrisy and men-pleasing, because while they professed the most scrupulous reverence to the Law, they lived in absolute violation of its spirit, which was alone valuable in God’s sight.

Luke 16:17. Δὲ, but) Although I, the Christ, am here, with the Gospel; yet I do not set aside the law; Matthew 5:17-18. He refutes the antinomian Pharisees. For there is no trace here or mention of any transition from the Pharisees to the Sadducees. In Luke 16:16-18 the Pharisees’ contempt and abuse of the law, and at the same time the everlasting obligation of the law are noticed; and it is to this that the scope of the whole narrative as to the rich man and his brothers appertains: comp. Luke 16:29 [“They have Moses and the prophets,” etc.].—πεσεῖν) διαπίπτειν נפל, Joshua 21:45 “There failed not ought of any good thing which the Lord had spoken.” LXX. (43) οὐ διέπεσεν].

Verse 17. - And it is easier for heaven and earth to pass, than one tittle of the Law to fail. "Yet think not," went on the Master, "that, though things are changing, the Divine Law will ever fail. The mere temporary and transitory regulations will, of course, give place to a new order, but not the smallest part of one letter of the Divine moral Law will fail." "One tittle." This is the rendering of a Greek word the diminutive of "horn," which denoted the horn or extremity of a Hebrew letter, by the omission or addition of which - to give an instance - the letter d becomes the letter r; thus with the horn it is ד, daleth, d; without the horn ר, resh, r. The heresiarch Marcion (second century) here, in his recension of St. Luke, changes the text thus: "It is easier for heaven and earth to pass, than for one tittle of my sayings to fail." Marcion, who refused fallow the Divine origin of any part of the Old Testament, was afraid of the testimony which this assertion of our Lord would give to the Divine authority of the Pentateuch. In illustration of his saying that the moral Law given to the Jews was changeless, and while earth endured would never fail, the Master instances one grave chapter of the Law with which there had been much tampering-that of divorce. "See," he said, "the new state of things which I am now teaching, instead of loosening the cords with which the old Law regulated human society, will rather tighten them. Instead of a laxer code being substituted, I am preaching a yet severer one. My law of divorce is a severer one than that written down by Moses." Luke 16:17Tittle

See on Matthew 5:18.

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