Luke 17:11
And it came to pass, as he went to Jerusalem, that he passed through the midst of Samaria and Galilee.
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(11) And it came to pass, as he went to Jerusalem.—This is the first distinct note of time in St. Luke’s narrative since Luke 9:51. It appears to coincide with the journey of which we read in Matthew 19:1, Mark 10:1, and is the commencement of the last progress through the regions in which our Lord had already carried on His ministry. The fact, peculiar to St. Luke, that it led Him through Samaria, apparently through that part of it which lay on the borders of Galilee, is obviously reported in connection with the miracle that follows, the other Gospels dwelling on the departure from Galilee, and the continuance of the journey to Jerusalem by the route on the east of the Jordan valley.



Luke 17:11 - Luke 17:19

The melancholy group of lepers, met with in one of the villages on the borders of Samaria and Galilee, was made up of Samaritans and Jews, in what proportion we do not know. The common misery drove them together, in spite of racial hatred, as, in a flood, wolves and sheep will huddle close on a bit of high ground. Perhaps they had met in order to appeal to Jesus, thinking to move Him by their aggregated wretchedness; or possibly they were permanently segregated from others, and united in a hideous fellowship.

I. We note the lepers’ cry and the Lord’s strange reply.

Of course they had to stand afar off, and the distance prescribed by law obliged them to cry aloud, though it must have been an effort, for one symptom of leprosy is a hoarse whisper. Sore need can momentarily give strange physical power. Their cry indicates some knowledge. They knew the Lord’s name, and had dim notions of His authority, for He is addressed as Jesus and as Master. They knew that He had power to heal, and they hoped that He had ‘mercy,’ which they might win for themselves by entreaty. There was the germ of trust in the cry forced from them by desperate need. But their conceptions of Him, and their consciousness of their own necessities, did not rise above the purely physical region, and He was nothing to them but a healer.

Still, low and rude as their notions were, they did present a point of contact for Christ’s ‘mercy,’ which is ever ready to flow into every heart that is lowly, as water will into all low levels. Jesus seems to have gone near to the lepers, for it was ‘when He saw,’ not when He heard, them that He spoke. It did not become Him to ‘cry, nor cause His voice to be heard in the street,’ nor would He cure as from afar, but He approaches those whom He heals, that they may see His face, and learn by it His compassion and love. His command recognised and honoured the law, but its main purpose, no doubt, was to test, and thereby to strengthen, the leper’s trust. To set out to the priest while they felt themselves full of leprosy would seem absurd, unless they believed that Jesus could and would heal them. He gives no promise to heal, but asks for reliance on an implied promise. He has not a syllable of sympathy; His tender compassion is carefully covered up. He shuts down, as it were, the lantern-slide, and not a ray gets through. But the light was behind the screen all the while. We, too, have sometimes to act on the assumption that Jesus has granted our desires, even while we are not conscious that it is so. We, too, have sometimes to set out, as it were, for the priests, while we still feel the leprosy.

II. We note the healing granted to obedient faith.

The whole ten set off at once. They had got all they wanted from the Lord, and had no more thought about Him. So they turned their backs on Him. How strange it must have been to feel, as they went along, the gradual creeping of soundness into their bones! How much more confidently they must have stepped out, as the glow of returning health asserted itself more and more! The cure is a transcendent, though veiled, manifestation of Christ’s power; for it is wrought at a distance, without even a word, and with no vehicle. It is simply the silent forth-putting of His power. ‘He spake, and it was done’ is much, for only a word which is divine can affect matter. But ‘He willed, and it was done,’ is even more.

III. We note the solitary instance of thankfulness.

The nine might have said, ‘We are doing what the Healer bade us do; to go back to Him would be disobedience.’ But a grateful heart knows that to express its gratitude is the highest duty, and is necessary for its own relief. How like us all it is to hurry away clutching our blessings, and never cast back a thought to the giver! This leper’s voice had returned to Him, and his ‘loud’ acknowledgments were very different from the strained croak of his petition for healing. He knew that he had two to thank-God and Jesus; he did not know that these two were one. His healing has brought him much nearer Jesus than before, and now he can fall at His feet. Thankfulness knits us to Jesus with a blessed bond. Nothing is so sweet to a loving heart as to pour itself out in thanks to Him.

‘And he was a Samaritan.’ That may be Luke’s main reason for telling the story, for it corresponds to the universalistic tendency of his Gospel. But may we not learn the lesson that the common human virtues are often found abundantly in nations and individuals against whom we are apt to be deeply prejudiced? And may we not learn another lesson-that heretics and heathen may often teach orthodox believers lessons, not only of courtesy and gratitude, but of higher things? A heathen is not seldom more sensitive to the beauty of Christ, and more touched by the story of His sacrifice, than we who have heard of Him all our days.

IV. We note Christ’s sad wonder at man’s ingratitude and joyful recognition of ‘this stranger’s’ thankfulness.

A tone of surprise as well as of sadness can be detected in the pathetic double questions. ‘Were not the ten’-all of them, the ten who stood there but a minute since-’cleansed? but where are the nine?’ Gone off with their gift, and with no spark of thankfulness in their selfish hearts. ‘Were there none found that returned to give glory to God, save this stranger?’ The numbers of the thankless far surpass those of the thankful. The fewness of the latter surprises and saddens Jesus still. Even a dog knows and will lick the hand that feeds it, but ‘Israel doth not know, My people doth not consider.’ We increase the sweetness of our gifts by thankfulness for them. We taste them twice when we ruminate on them in gratitude. They live after their death when we bless God and thank Jesus for them all. We impoverish ourselves still more than we dishonour Him by the ingratitude which is so crying a fault. One sorrow hides many joys. A single crumpled rose-leaf made the fairy princess’s bed uncomfortable. Some of us can see no blue in our sky if one small cloud is there. Both in regard to earthly and spiritual blessings we are all sinners by unthankfulness, and we all lose much thereby.

Jesus rejoiced over ‘this stranger,’ and gave him a greater gift at last than he had received when the leprosy was cleared from his flesh. Christ’s raising of him up, and sending him on his way to resume his interrupted journey to the priest, was but a prelude to ‘Thy faith hath made thee whole,’ or, as the Revised Version margin reads, ‘saved thee.’ Surely we may take that word in its deepest meaning, and believe that a more fatal leprosy melted out of this man’s spirit, and that the faith which had begun in a confidence that Jesus could heal, and had been increased by obedience to the command which tried it, and had become more awed and enlightened by experience of bodily healing, and been deepened by finding a tongue to express itself in thankfulness, rose at last to such apprehension of Jesus, and such clinging to Him in grateful love, as availed to save ‘this stranger’ with a salvation that healed his spirit, and was perfected when the once leprous body was left behind, to crumble into dust.

Luke 17:11-14. He passed through the midst of Samaria and Galilee — As Samaria lay between Galilee and Judea, and therefore our Lord, taking his journey to Jerusalem, must go first through Galilee, and then through Samaria, it is inquired why it is here said that he passed through the midst of Samaria and Galilee. To this Grotius, Whitby, Campbell, and some others, answer, that the original expression, δια μεσου Σαμαριας και Γαλιλαιας, means, between Samaria and Galilee, or through those parts in which the two countries bordered on each other; or through the confines of them. There met him ten men that were lepers, which stood afar off — As lepers were banished from the towns, they were likewise obliged to keep at a distance from the roads which led to them. Curiosity, however, to see the travellers who passed, or, it may be, an inclination to beg, having brought these ten as nigh to the public road as they were permitted to come, they espied Jesus, and cried to him, beseeching him to take pity on them, and cure them. They had heard of some of the great miracles which he had performed, and either knew him personally, having seen him before, or guessed that it might be he by the crowds which followed him. And he said, Go show yourselves to the priests — Intimating that the cure they desired should be performed by the way. And as they went — In obedience to his word; they were cleansed — Namely, by his wonder-working power; the efficacy of which was often exerted on objects at a distance, as well as on such as were near.

17:11-19 A sense of our spiritual leprosy should make us very humble whenever we draw near to Christ. It is enough to refer ourselves to the compassions of Christ, for they fail not. We may look for God to meet us with mercy, when we are found in the way of obedience. Only one of those who were healed returned to give thanks. It becomes us, like him, to be very humble in thanksgivings, as well as in prayers. Christ noticed the one who thus distinguished himself, he was a Samaritan. The others only got the outward cure, he alone got the spiritual blessing.The midst of Samaria and Galilee - He went from Galilee, and probably traveled through the chief villages and towns in it and then left it; and as Samaria was situated "between" Galilee and Jerusalem, it was necessary to pass through it; or it may mean that he passed along on the borders of each toward the river Jordan, and so passed in the midst, "i. e. between" Galilee and Samaria. This is rendered more probable from the circumstance that as he went from Galilee, there would have been no occasion for saying that he passed "through it," unless it be meant through the "confines" or borders of it, or at least it would have been mentioned before Samaria. Lu 17:11-19. Ten Lepers Cleansed.

11-13. through the midst of Samaria and Galilee—probably on the confines of both.

Ver. 11-13. Christ’s nearest way from Galilee to Jerusalem was through Samaria. In a certain town ten lepers met him, for though the law forbade them any other society, yet it did not restrain them from the society of each other; probably they were got together that they might at once come to this great Physician. The leprosy was a sore disease, not so much known in our countries. We shall observe it was the disease which God made to come upon some persons, to testify His displeasure for some sin committed by them. It was threatened as the mark of God upon men for sin, Deu 28:27with the scab, whereof thou canst not be healed. God sent it upon Miriam, Numbers 12:10, for her contempt of Moses. David curseth Joab’s house with it, 2 Samuel 3:29. Gehazi suffereth by it, for his lying and going after Naaman for a bribe, 2 Kings 5:27. King Uzziah, for usurping the priest’s office, 2 Kings 15:5. These ten lepers cry to Christ for mercy, mercy with respect to their afflictions.

And it came to pass as he went to Jerusalem,.... That is, Jesus, as the Persic version expresses it; though the Ethiopic version reads in the plural, "they going to Jerusalem passed", &c. that is, the disciples, or Christ with his disciples; who was now going thither to eat his last passover, and suffer and die for his people:

that he passed through the midst of Samaria and Galilee; or "between Samaria and Galilee"; as the Syriac and Arabic versions render it; he steered his course through the borders of both these countries; and as he passed, Samaria was on his right hand, and Galilee on the left.

{6} And it came to pass, as he went to Jerusalem, that he passed through the midst of Samaria and Galilee.

(6) Christ does good even to those who will be unthankful, but the benefits of God to salvation only profit those who are thankful.

Luke 17:11-19. The great discussion from Luke 15:1 onwards is now concluded. Now, before proceeding with his narration, Luke first gives into the reader’s hands again the thread of the account of the journey (comp. Luke 9:51, Luke 13:22). According to de Wette, indeed, this is a confused reminiscence of the journey, and according to Schleiermacher an original introductory formula left standing by the compiler.

καὶ αὐτός] As to καί, see on Luke 5:12. αὐτός: he on his part, independently of other travellers to the festival who were wont to travel direct through Samaria, Joseph. Antt. xx. 6. 1.

διὰ μέσου Σαμαρ. κ. Γαλιλ.] According to the usage of μέσον (with or without an article, see Sturz, Lex. Xen. III. p. 120) with a genitive, this may mean either through the midst of Samaria and Galilee (Luke 4:30; Jeremiah 37:4; Amos 5:17; Bornemann, ad Xen. Anab. i. 2. 23), or through the strip of country forming the common boundary of Samaria and Galilee, i.e. between the two countries on the borders. So Xen., Anab. i. 4. 4 : διὰ μέσου (in the midst through between the two walls) δὲ ῥεῖ τούτων ποταμός; Plat. Leg. vii. p. 805 E. Comp. ἀνὰ μέσον, Ezekiel 22:26; Jdg 15:4; 1 Kings 5:12. The former (Vulg. and many others, including de Wette) is opposed to the context, since Samaria is named first, but the πορεύεσθαι εἰς Ἱερουσαλήμ led first through Galilee.[216] No; according to Luke, Jesus Himself journeyed in the midst, between (“in confinio,” Bengel), through the two countries, so that He kept on the boundary, having before Him on the south Samaria, on the north Galilee. See also Wetstein, Schleiermacher, Bleek, Hofmann, Weissag. u. Erfüll. II. p. 113; Lange, L. J. II. 2, p. 1065. His direction is to be regarded as from west to east, as in Luke 18:35 He comes into the neighbourhood of Jericho. Now as Jericho is situated not far from the Jordan, but Luke says nothing of any passing over to Peraea (nevertheless Wetstein assumes this crossing over, which is said to have occurred at Scythopolis, so also Lichtenstein, p. 318), it is thus, according to Luke, to be assumed that Jesus journeyed across on the boundary of Samaria and Galilee eastward as far as the Jordan, and then passing downwards on the Jordan reached Jericho. A disagreement with Matthew and Mark, who make Him journey through Peraea. See on Matthew 19:1.

That Σαμαρείας is named first, has its natural reason in the previous statement of the direction εἰς Ἱερους., in accordance with which, in mentioning the borders, Luke has first of all in view the forward movement corresponding to this direction. The narrative contained in Luke 17:12 ff. Luke has not “constructed out of tradition” (Holtzmann), but has borrowed it from his source of the journey.

δέκα] οἱ ἐννέα μὲν Ἰουδαῖοι ἦσαν, ὁ δὲ εἷς Σαμαρείτης· ἡ κοινωνία δὲ τῆς νόσου τότε συνήθροισεν αὐτοὺς ἀκούσαντας, ὅτι διέρχεται ὁ Χριστός, Euthymius Zigabenus.

πόῤῥωθεν] μὴ τολμῶντες ἐγγίσαι (Theophylact)—to wit, as being unclean, to whom closer intercourse with others was forbidden (Leviticus 13:46; Numbers 5:2 f.). See on Mark 1:43, and the relative Rabbinical regulations in Lightfoot, Schoettgen, and Wetstein.

Luke 17:13. αὐτοί] they on their part took the initiative.

Luke 17:14. ἰδών] when He had looked upon them, had His attention first directed to them by their cry for help.

πορευθέντες κ.τ.λ.] for on the road their leprosy was to disappear; see what follows, where indeed Paulus, in spite of the ἐν τῷ ὑπάγειν (which is made to mean: when they agreed to go!), interprets ἐκαθαρίσθ., they were declared to be not infectious!

τοῖς ἱερεῦσι] the Samaritan to be inspected and declared clean must go to a Samaritan priest.

Luke 17:15. ἰδών, ὅτι ἰάθη] even before his coming to the priest,[217] who had therefore communicated to him no remedy (in opposition to Paulus).

Luke 17:16. κ. αὐτὸς ἦν Σαμαρείτ.] and as for him, he was a Samaritan (by way of distinction from the rest). This is made use of (Strauss, II. p. 53 f.) for the view that the entire narrative is woven together from traditions of the healings of leprosy and from parables which recorded Samaritan examples. This audacious scepticism is emulated by Eichthal, II. p. 285 f.

Luke 17:17. οἱ δέκα] all the ten; οἱ ἐννέα, the remaining nine. See Kühner, II. p. 135 f.

Luke 17:18. οὐχ εὑρέθ. κ.τ.λ.] have they not been found as returning, etc. Comp. on Matthew 1:18.

τῷ θεῷ] who through me has accomplished their cure. Comp. Luke 17:15. Proper gratitude to God does not detract from him who is the medium of the benefit. Comp. Luke 17:16.

ὁ ἀλλογενής] heightens the guilt of the nine. The word does not occur in classical Greek; often in the LXX. and the Apocrypha, especially of Gentiles. The Greeks use ἀλλόφυλος, ἀλλοεθνής. The Samaritans were of foreign descent, on account of their Cuthaic blood. Comp. on Matthew 10:5; 2 Kings 17:24.

Luke 17:19. Jesus dismisses the thankful one, giving him, however, to understand what was the cause of his deliverance—a germ for the further development of his inner life! Thy faith (in my divine power, Luke 17:15) hath delivered thee. This faith had not yet the specific Messianic substance; as yet, Jesus to him was only a divine, miraculously powerful teacher. See Luke 17:13.

[216] According to this understanding Jesus must have journeyed, not southwards, but northwards, which Paulus and Olshausen actually suppose, understanding it of a subordinate journey from Ephraim (John 11:54). But this is totally opposed to the direction (εἰς Ἱερουσ.) specified in the context, in respect of which Jesus is wrongly transferred already at Luke 10:38 to Bethany. See on Luke 9:51. Schleiermacher’s view of this passage is altogether untenable, as well as that of de Wette, according to whom (comp. Strauss, II. p. 202) the notice is only intended to explain the presence of a Samaritan, and therefore Σαμαρείας is put first. As though Luke would have written in such a thoughtless mechanical fashion!

[217] If the Samaritan had first been to the priest (Calvin, Schleiermacher), Jesus could not have put the question which He asks at ver. 17 f., since the nine Jews had a much farther journey to the priests. The return of the Samaritan is to be conceived of as very soon after the departure, so that the whole scene took place while still in the village.

Luke 17:11-19. The ten lepers.

11-19. The Cleansed Ten; the Thankless Nine.

. as he went to Jerusalem] Rather, as they were on their way. The most natural place chronologically, for this incident would have been after Luke 9:56. St Luke places it here to contrast man’s thanklessness to God with the sort of claim to thanks from God which is asserted by spiritual pride.

he passed through the midst of Samaria and Galilee] The most natural meaning of these words is that our Lord, when rejected at the frontier village of En Gannim (see on Luke 9:52; Luke 9:56), altered His route, and determined to pass towards Jerusalem through Peraea. In order to reach Peraea He would have to pass down the Wady of Bethshean, — which lies between the borders of Galilee and Samaria,—and there to cross the bridge over Jordan.

Luke 17:11. Διὰ μέσου, through the midst) On the confines of both Samaria and Galilee. [The remembrance of the Saviour in His journey from Galilee through Samaria to Judea, was deeply engraven on men’s minds by the following miracle.—Harm., p. 416.]

Verse 11. - And it came to pass, as he went to Jerusalem. Just a note of time and place inserted by St. Luke to remind the reader that all these incidents took place, this important teaching and the momentous revelations concerning man's present and future were spoken, during those last few months preceding the Crucifixion, and generally in that long, slow progress from the north of Palestine through Galilee and Samaria to the holy city. Luke 17:11Through the midst of

It may also mean between or on the borders of. The Am. Rev. insists on the latter.

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