Luke 17:1
Then said he to the disciples, It is impossible but that offenses will come: but woe to him, through whom they come!
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
XVII.

(1) It is impossible but that offences will come.—In this instance, the absence of any apparent connection might, perhaps, justify us in looking on the two precepts as having been noted by St. Luke for their own intrinsic value, without regard to the context in which they had been spoken. (See Notes on Matthew 18:7.) Even here, however, we must remember that there may have been what we have called “dropped links.” It is not hard to see that the self-indulgent life, after the pattern of that of the rich man in the preceding parable, was an “offence” which, in one sense, must needs come, in the history of the Christian Church, as it had come in the Jewish, and yet would bring a woe on the man through whom it came.

Luke 17:1. Then said he unto the disciples — Our Lord, about this time, thought proper to repeat to the people, who then attended on his ministry, and were desirous of being instructed by him, several particulars of his doctrine, which he had formerly delivered in a more private way to his apostles, and some others of his disciples, as follows: It is impossible but that offences will come — Considering the general corruption of human nature, the snares of the world, and the temptations of Satan, it cannot be but that one way or other offences will be given and taken: stumbling- blocks will be laid in the way of such as are travelling to the heavenly Jerusalem, and many will stumble at them, and fall over them; will be hindered in the way, or turned out of it; for many professing my religion will act in a manner very unsuitable to it, unworthy of themselves, and disgraceful to the holy name they bear. But wo unto him through whom they come — Let me warn you, therefore, as you love your own souls, to guard against the guilt and danger of being stumbling-blocks in the way of others. It were better for him, &c. — I assure you that such a one, especially he that by an immoral life proves a reproach and scandal to my cause, had better die by the hand of violence, and suffer the most shocking execution, than that he should offend, or cause to stumble and fall, one of these little ones, that is, one weak believer, or any other of my despised and persecuted followers. See on Matthew 18:7-9.17:1-10 It is no abatement of their guilt by whom an offence comes, nor will it lessen their punishment that offences will come. Faith in God's pardoning mercy, will enable us to get over the greatest difficulties in the way of forgiving our brethren. As with God nothing is impossible, so all things are possible to him that can believe. Our Lord showed his disciples their need of deep humility. The Lord has such a property in every creature, as no man can have in another; he cannot be in debt to them for their services, nor do they deserve any return from him.It is impossible - It cannot but happen. Such is the state of things that "it will be." See these verses explained in the notes at Matthew 18:6-7. CHAPTER 17

Lu 17:1-10. Offenses—Faith—Humility.

1, 2. (See Mt 18:6, 7).Luke 17:1,2 Christ teacheth to avoid giving occasions of offence,

Luke 17:3,4 and to forgive one another.

Luke 17:5-10 The power of faith, and defect of merit toward God in

our best services.

Luke 17:11-19 Christ healeth ten lepers,

Luke 17:20,21 showeth the spiritual nature of the kingdom of God,

Luke 17:22-37 and instructs his disciples concerning the coming

of the Son of man.

Ver. 1,2. See Poole on "Matthew 18:6". See Poole on "Matthew 18:7". See Poole on "Mark 9:42". This term skandala is used in the New Testament very variously; in general it signifies any thing which may be an occasion of mischief to another. Man, consisting of body and soul, may by something be made to stumble and fall, either with reference to the one, or to the other: thus, Leviticus 19:14. Thou shalt not put a stumblingblock before the blind: lyvbm Hebrew: so Proverbs 24:17. The mischief done to our souls is by sin; so as in the New Testament it often signifies any action of ours by which our brother is made to sin: which actions may be,

1. Good and necessary, and then the scandal is taken, not given. Or:

2. Wicked and abominable; hence we call some sins scandalous sins, such as give offence to others, and are examples alluring them to sin. Or:

3. Actions which in themselves are of an indifferent nature, neither commanded nor forbidden in the word. Our taking one part in these actions, rather than another, may be a scandal, that is, an offence.

What our Saviour here saith is certainly true concerning all these kinds of offences: considering the complexion of the world, and the corruption which is in man’s hearts,

it is impossible but that offences will come. But I must confess that I incline to think, that the offences primarily intended by our Saviour here are those of the second sort; and that by them are meant persecutions of the people of God; to the authors of which our Saviour denounces woe. So that our Saviour by this lets the world know, the special protection under which he hath taken his people; so as though he knew there would arise those who would hurt and destroy in his holy mountain, yet he declares that they shall not go unpunished, but they had better die the most certain death imaginable, (such must be the death of him who is thrown into the sea with a millstone about his neck), than to that degree expose himself to the vengeance of God; a guilt of that nature that there is not much more hope for him to escape God’s vengeance, than there would be of a man escaping with his life whom we should see thrown into the sea with a millstone appendant to him. I do very well know that it is also highly dangerous to tempt or solicit a child of God to sin, either by our words or actions; but I do not think it the design of our Lord in this place so much to express that as the other.

Then said he unto his disciples,.... In the Alexandrian copy, and in "three" of Beza's exemplars it is read, "his disciples"; and so read the Vulgate Latin, and all the Oriental versions; that is, Jesus said to his disciples what follows, as the Syriac and Persic versions express, and the latter reads, he said "again". About the time that he delivered the above parable concerning the rich man and Lazarus, he repeated to his disciples what he had before said to them on another occasion, Matthew 18:7

it is impossible but that offences will come; considering the decree of God, the malice of Satan, the wickedness of men, the corruption both of their principles and practices. The Ethiopic version renders it, "temptation will come"; that which will be trying to the faith of the saints, and a stumblingblock to weak minds, as reproach and persecution, errors, and heresies, and the evil lives of professors:

but woe unto him through whom they come; See Gill on Matthew 18:7

Then said he unto the disciples, {1} It is impossible but that offences will come: but woe unto him, through whom they come!

(1) The Church is of necessity subject to offences, but the Lord will not suffer them unpunished, if any of the least be offended.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Luke 17:1-4. The Pharisees (Luke 16:14) are despatched and dismissed (Luke 16:15-31), and Jesus now again turns Himself, as at Luke 16:1, to His disciples, and that with an instruction and admonition in reference to σκάνδαλα, a subject which He approached the more naturally that it was precisely the conduct of the Pharisees which had occasioned the entire set of discourses (Luke 15:2), and especially had introduced the last portion (Luke 16:14), that was of a very offensive nature to the disciples of Jesus, and might become injurious to their moral judgment and behaviour. Comp. already Theophylact. The course of the previous discourse therefore still goes on, and it is unfair to Luke to deny to the formula εἶπε δὲ κ.τ.λ. the attestation of the point of time, and to maintain that there is no connection with the entire section, Luke 17:1-10 (de Wette, Holtzmann; comp. Michaelis, Paulus, Kuinoel).

The contents of Luke 17:1-4 are of such a kind that these sayings, especially in a dissimilar form, might be used several times on various occasions (comp. Matthew 18:7; Matthew 18:6; Matthew 18:15; Matthew 18:21 f.). In the form in which Luke gives them, he found them in his original source of the journey.[213]

ἀνένδεκτόν ἐστι] equivalent to οὐκ ἐνδέχεται, Luke 13:33, not preserved elsewhere than in Gregor. Cor. and Artem. Oneir. ii. 70. The expression ἔνδεκτόν ἐστι occurs in Apollonius, de Constr. p. 181, 10, de Adv. p. 544, 1.

τοῦ μὴ ἐλθεῖν] the genitive dependent on the neuter adjective used as a substantive (Kühner, II. p. 122): the impossible (impossibility) of their not coming occurs. Winer views it otherwise, p. 293 [E. T. 412].

λυσιτελεῖ αὐτῷ, εἰ] it is profitable for him, if. In what follows observe the perfects, cast around, and he is thrown, by which the matter is declared as completed, and in its completion is made present.

] as Luke 15:7.

ἵνα] than to deceive, i.e. than if he remained alive to deceive. The being drowned is here conceived of as before the completion of the deceiving. Matthew has it otherwise, Luke 18:6.

τῶν μικρῶν τούτων] pointing to those present, not, however, children (Bengel and others), but disciples, who were still feeble, and therefore easily led astray,—little ones among the disciples, beginners and simple ones. According to Luke 15:1-2, it is to be supposed that some of them at least were converted publicans and sinners. To explain the expression from Matthew 18:6 or Luke 10:42 is not allowable, since there it has in its connection a reason for its insertion, which does not occur here.

Luke 17:3. “Considering that offences against the weak are thus inevitable and punishable, I warn you: Be on guard for yourselves, take care of yourselves lest offences occur in your own circle.” In what way especially such offences are to be avoided, the following exhortation then declares, to wit, by indefatigable forgiving love, by that disposition therefore which was, in fact, so greatly wanting to the Pharisees, that they could murmur, as at Luke 15:2.

ἁμάρτῃ] shall have committed a fault, namely, against thee, which the context proves by ἄφες αὐτῷ and Luke 17:4.

ἐπιτίμ. αὐτῷ] censure him, ἐπίπληξον ἀδελφικῶς τε καὶ διορθωτικῶς, Euthymius Zigabenus. Comp. 2 Timothy 4:2.

ἐπιστρώψῃ] a graphic touch, shall have turned round, i.e. shall have come back to thee (πρός σε belongs to this). He has previously turned away from him, and departed.

The representation by means of ἑπτάκις κ.τ.λ. (comp. Psalm 119:164) finds its justification in its purpose, to wit, to lay stress upon forgiveness as incapable of being wearied out; hence we are not to think of the possible want of principle of such an offender, nor to regard the expression either as a misunderstanding (Michaelis) or as a transformation from Matthew 18:21 f. (de Wette, Weiss). Whether Luke 17:4 stood in the Logia after Matthew 18:15 is an open question, at least it does not form the necessary presupposition of Matthew 18:21.

[213] According to Holtzmann (comp. Weisse), Luke attempts the return to Mark 9:42 (Matthew 18:6), but finds the assertions of Mark 9:43-47 “too glaring and paradoxical.” But these assertions were already from the Logia too widely known and current for this; and how wanting in motive would be that return, which still would not be carried out! Comp. Weiss in the Jahrb. f. D. Theol. 1864, p. 101.Luke 17:1-4. Concerning offences and forgiving of offences (cf. Matthew 18:6-7; Matthew 21, 22).—ἀνένδεκτον: here only in N.T. and hardly found in classics; with ἐστι = οὐκ ἐνδέχεται (Luke 13:33), it is not possible.—τοῦ μὴ ἐλθεῖν: the infinitive with the genitive article may depend on ἀνένδεκτον viewed as a substantive = an impossibility of offences not coming exists (Meyer, J. Weiss), or it may be the subject to ἐστι, ἀνεν. being the predicate = that offences should not come is impossible (Schanz; Burton, M. and T., inclines to the same view, vide § 405).Luke 17:1-4. The Peril of causing Men to Stumble.

1. It is impossible] i.e. in the present condition of the world it is morally impossible.

offences] See on Luke 7:23. While the world remains what it is, some will always set snares and stumblingblocks in the path of their brethren, and some will always fall over them, and some will make them for themselves (1 Corinthians 11:19; 1 Peter 2:8).

woe unto him, through whom they come] No moral necessity, no predestined certainty, removes the responsibility for individual guilt.Luke 17:1. Μαθητὰς, disciples) as in ch. Luke 16:1.—ἀνένδεκτόν ἐστι) So οὐκ ἐνδέχεται, it is not a thing usual to happen [προφήτην ἀπολέσθαι ἔξω Ἱερουσαλήμ], ch. Luke 13:33 [lit. a thing not admissible in the common course of things].—ἐλθεῖν, come) especially through the instrumentality of the Pharisees. [And their deriding cavils, ch. Luke 14:14.—V. g.]Verses 1-37. - The Master's teaching on the subject of the injury worked on the souls of others by our sins. The disciples pray for an increase of faith that they may be kept from such sins. The Lord's reply. His little parable on humility. The healing of the ten lepers. The ingratitude of all save one. The question of the Pharisees as to the coming of the kingdom. The Lord's answer, and his teaching respecting the awful suddenness of the advent of the Son of man. Verses 1, 2. - Then said he unto the disciples, It is impossible but that offences will come: but woe unto him, through whom they come: 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. The thread of connection here is not very obvious, and many expositors are content with regarding this seventeenth chapter as simply containing certain lessons of teaching placed here by St. Luke without regard to anything which preceded or succeeded them in the narrative, these expositors regarding the contents of this chapter as well authenticated sayings of the Master, which were repeated to Luke or Paul without any precise note of time or place, and which appeared to them too important for them to omit in these memoirs of the Divine life. Notwithstanding this deliberate opinion, endorsed by Godet and others, there does seem a clear connection here with the narrative immediately preceding. The Divine Master, while mourning over the sorrowful certainty of offences being committed in the present confused and disordered state of things, yet pronounces a bitter woe on the soul of the man through whose agency the offences were wrought. The "little cues" whom these offences would injure are clearly in this instance not children, although, of course, the words would include the very young, for whom Jesus ever showed the tenderest love; but the reference is clearly to disciples whose faith was only as yet weak and wavering - to men and women who would be easily influenced either for good or evil. The offences, then, especially alluded to were no doubt the worldliness and selfishness of professors of godliness. The sight of these, professedly serving God and all the while serving mammon more earnestly, would bring the very name of God's service into evil odour with some; while with others such conduct would serve as an example to be imitated. The selfish rich man of the great parable just spoken, professedly a religious man, one who evidently prided himself on his descent from Abraham the friend of God, and yet lived as a heartless, selfish sinner, who was eventually condemned for inhumanity, was probably in the Lord's mind when he spoke thus. What fatal injury to the cause of true religion would be caused by one such life as that! It were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he east into the sea. This was a punishment not unknown among the ancients. The ancient Latin Version, and Marcion in his recension of St. Luke, read here, "It were better for him that he had never been born, or that a millstone." etc. The awful sequel to a life which apparently had given the offence to which the Lord referred, endorses this terrible alternative. Yes; better indeed for him had that evil life been cut short even by such a death of horror as the Master pictures here, when he speaks of the living being cast into the sea bound to a millstone. Impossible (ἀνένδεκτον)

Inadmissible. Only here in New Testament. See on it cannot be, Luke 13:33.

Offences

See on offend, Matthew 5:29; and compare on Matthew 16:23.

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