Luke 18:2
Saying, There was in a city a judge, which feared not God, neither regarded man:
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(2) There was in a city a judge.—The words have an interest historically, as testifying to the general disorganisation and corruption of justice which prevailed under the then government of Galilee and Peræa. Under the direct administration of the Roman Procurator, severe as his rule was, there was probably a better state of things.

The case put for the purpose of the parable was obviously an extreme one. Every motive that ordinarily leads men in office to act rightly was absent. Conscience was dead, and there was no love of approbation or fear of blame to supply its place.

Luke 18:2-5. There was in a city a judge, which feared not God, &c. — This magistrate, being governed by atheistical principles, had no inducement from religion to do justice; at the same time, being very powerful, he did not regard what men said or thought of him; wherefore, in all his decisions, he was influenced merely by passion or interest. And there was a widow, &c., and she came, saying, Avenge me of, or rather, as εκδικησον με means, do me justice on, mine adversary — The word properly signifies, to judge a cause, and defend the injured judicially from the injurious person. The English word avenge, therefore, does not exactly hit the sense here intended, although, as Dr. Campbell observes, in the application of the parable, Luke 18:7, it answers better than any other term. This widow, having no friends to assist her, could neither defend herself from injuries, nor obtain satisfaction for them when committed; hence, in an instance where she was greatly oppressed, she found herself obliged to petition the judge for redress. This he would not grant for a while — He was so addicted to his pleasures, and of so indolent a disposition, that he would not put himself to the trouble of even examining her cause, notwithstanding that the grievous injustice which had been done to her pleaded powerfully in her behalf. But afterward he said — Or thought within himself; Though I fear not God — And therefore will not do this widow justice through the influence of any dread I have of his displeasure; nor regard man — Nor fear being called to an account for my neglect by any superior among men. Yet, because this widow troubleth me — With the repeated representations of her case; I will avenge her — I will do her justice; lest by her continual coming she weary me — “The word υπωπιαζη με, properly signifies, to beat on the face, and particularly under the eye, and hence to beat in general, as 1 Corinthians 9:27. In this passage it has a metaphorical meaning, and here signifies to give great pain, such as arises from severe beating. The sense of the clause, therefore, is, that the uneasy feelings which this widow raised in the judge’s breast, by the moving representations which she gave him of her distress, affected him to such a degree that he could not bear it, and therefore, to be rid of those feelings, he resolved to do her justice. The passage, understood in this sense, has a peculiar advantage, as it throws a beautiful light on our Lord’s argument, Luke 18:6-7, and lays a proper foundation for the conclusion which it contains.”18:1-8 All God's people are praying people. Here earnest steadiness in prayer for spiritual mercies is taught. The widow's earnestness prevailed even with the unjust judge: she might fear lest it should set him more against her; but our earnest prayer is pleasing to our God. Even to the end there will still be ground for the same complaint of weakness of faith.A judge which feared not God - One appointed by law to determine causes brought before him. This judge had no reverence for God, and consequently no regard for the rights of man. These two things go together. He that has no regard for God can be expected to have none for man; and our Lord has here indirectly taught us what ought to be the character of a judge that he "should" fear God and regard the rights of man. Compare Deuteronomy 1:16-17.

Regarded man - cared not for man. Had no respect for the opinions or the rights of man.

2. feared not … neither regarded—defying the vengeance of God and despising the opinion of men.

widow—weak, desolate, defenseless (1Ti 5:5, which is taken from this).

Ver. 2-8. We have here the parable, and the interpretation thereof, both, Luke 18:1, in the proparabole, or the words immediately going before it, and also in an epiparabole, or some words following it, which sufficiently explain our Saviour’s scope and intention in it, viz. To assure his people, that though the Lord show a great deal of patience towards wicked men, who are the enemies of his people, and doth not presently answer their cries for a deliverance of them out of their hand; yet if they go on crying to him, he will most certainly at length deliver them. To this purpose he tells them a matter of fact, which either had happened, or might happen in the world.

There was in a city a judge, which feared not God, & c.: from hence he concludes, arguing from the lesser to the greater, and indeed there is an emphasis in every part of the comparison.

1. This was an unjust judge; God is a righteous Judge.

2. He did this for a stranger; God’s people are his own elect.

Then he assures them, that God would avenge them speedily. We may from this discourse of our Saviour observe several things.

1. That all the wrongs and injuries which the people of God suffer in this life should make them fervent and frequent in prayer to God for redressing them.

2. That notwithstanding their prayers, God may bear with their enemies long, for so much time as they shall think a long time.

3. If God’s people do not faint, but continue night and day crying to him, God will hear them, and avenge them of their adversaries.

The power that importunity hath upon sinful men, may confirm us in this thing, and ought to engage us to pray without ceasing and fainting.

Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth? When Christ shall come to judgment, he will find very few whose hearts have not fainted; there will be multitudes who are fallen away, through the power that temptations have upon the frailty of human nature. By faith here seems to be understood the true and proper effects of faith, growing out of it as the fruit out of the root. This premonition of our Saviour also served for an excellent caution to his disciples, that they would watch, and take care that they might be none of that part of the stars of heaven, which by the dragon’s tail should be cast down to the earth. Saying, there was in a city a judge,.... In every city in the land of Israel, there was a sanhedrim, or court of judicature; in Jerusalem was the great sanhedrim, consisting of seventy one; and in every city where there were an hundred and twenty men, or more, there was a lesser sanhedrim, consisting of twenty three; and in a city in which there were not an hundred and twenty men, were three judges; for there was no sanhedrim, or court of judicature, that consisted of less than three (l): but

"although there is no judicature less than three, "it is lawful for one to judge", according to the law, as it is said, Leviticus 19:15 "In righteousness shalt thou judge thy neighbour"; but according to the words of the Scribes, (only,) when there are three, and two that judge, their judgment is no judgment: one who is publicly approved or authorized, or who has taken a licence from the sanhedrim, it is lawful for him to judge alone, but it is not accounted a judicature; and though it is lawful, it is the command of the wise men, that he set others with him; for lo, they say, do not judge alone, for there is none that judgeth alone, but one (m).''

It may be, this judge was, an authorized and approved one; however, we have instances of single judges, or of persons that have judged alone, at least by the consent of parties.

"R. Abhu was sitting judge, in a synagogue in Caesarea, by himself, his disciples said to him, did not Rabbi so teach us, do not judge alone? he replied to them, when ye see me sit judge by myself, and ye come to me, as those that have taken upon themselves (or agreed to be judged by me); for the tradition is, of things in which they do not take upon them; but if they take upon them, (or agree to be judged,) one may judge, though alone (n).''

And again, elsewhere (o);

"if he is publicly authorized or approved, he judges, though alone; says R. Nachman, as I judge pecuniary causes alone; and so says R. Chijah, as I judge pecuniary judgments alone. --Mar Zutra, the son of R. Nachman, judged a cause, and erred; he came to R. Joseph, who said to him, if they have received thee upon them (agreed to be judged by thee) thou needst not finish; but if not, go and finish.''

The qualifications of one to be a judge, even of the bench of three, were these (p);

"wisdom, meekness (or modesty), and fear, (i.e. of God,) and hatred of mammon, (or money,) love of truth, and to have the love of men, and to be masters of a good name (or to be of good report).''

But the judge in the text, came greatly short of these qualifications: his character follows,

which feared not God, neither regarded man; and therefore, according to the canon, was disqualified from being a judge, since he was destitute of the fear of God; and seeing he regarded not men, he could neither have any love to men, nor any share in the affections of men, and such an one is very unfit to be a judge, for he cannot be thought to have any regard to his conscience, or his credit, and so not to justice and equity. The former of these characters, is what belongs to every man in a state of unregeneracy; there is no true fear of God before the eyes, or in the heart of any unconverted man; wherever it is, it is put there by the grace of God: this is one of the first things which appears in conversion, and shows itself in an hatred of sin, and in the performance of duties; and is increased by the discoveries of the grace and goodness of God; but the want of this is more visible in some than in others: some, though they have not the grace of fear, yet are under some awe of the Divine Being, and pay a regard to the word of God; and what through the force of education, and the dictates of a natural conscience, dare not go such lengths in sin, as some do: but there are others, who even say there is no God, and at least live as if there was none; they endeavour to work themselves, and others, into a disbelief of the being of God; and set their mouths against heaven, deny his providence, and despise his word; stretch out their hands, and strengthen themselves against the Almighty; and in a fearless manner, run upon the thick bosses of his bucklers; they declare their sin as Sodom, and hide it not, yea, glory in it; they promise themselves impunity, and laugh at a future judgment; and of such a cast was this judge, and therefore a very improper person for such an office; for civil magistrates, and rulers of every sort, ought to be just, ruling in the fear of God: and as for the other part of his character, it is not to be wondered at; for such that fear not God, will have little regard to men; no otherwise, or further, than they are obliged to it: indeed, judges ought not to regard men in judgment; that is, to respect the persons of men, and through affection, or flattery, or bribes, wrest judgment: but this is not the sense of the phrase here, since this agrees not with the other part of the character, and since he is called an unjust judge; but the meaning is, that he had no regard to the laws of men, any more than the laws of God; but made his own will the rule of his actions, and had no regard to doing justice between man and man; nor did he care what any man said of him; he had no concern about his reputation and character, having none to lose.

(l) Maimon. Hilch. Sanhedrin, c. 1. sect. 3, 4. (m) lb. c. 2. sect. 10, 11. (n) T. Hieros, Sanhedrin, fol. 18. 1.((o) T. Bab. Sanhedrin, fol. 5. 1.((p) Maimon. Hilch. Sanhedrin, c. 2. sect. 7.

{b} Saying, There was in a city a judge, which feared not God, neither regarded man:

(b) He does not compare things that are of equal stature, but the less with the greater: If a man receives what is rightfully his at the hands of a most unrighteous judge, much more will the prayers of the godly prevail before God.

Luke 18:2-3. Τὸν θεὸνκ. ἄνθρωπ. κ.τ.λ.] Similar characterizations from profane writers may be seen in Wetstein. Bengel well says: “Horum respectuum alterutrum certe plerosque mortalium movere solet et injustitiam (Luke 18:6) judicum cohibere.”

ἐντρεπόμ] standing in awe of, Matthew 21:37; Luke 20:13; 2 Thessalonians 3:15; Hebrews 12:9. In the Greek writers more frequently used with a genitive. The disposition implied by ἐντρεπόμ. is respect and regard.

ἤρχετο] Grotius aptly says: ventitabat. See Kühner, II. p. 76 f.

ἐκδίκησόν με ἀπὸ κ.τ.λ.] revenge me (and deliver me by this my judicial restitution) of, etc. Comp. Jdg 11:36 : ποιῆσαι σοι κύριον ἐκδίκησινἀπὸ τῶν υἱῶν Ἀμμών.Luke 18:2-5. The parable.—τὸν Θεόν, etc.: a proverbial description for a thoroughly unprincipled man (examples from classics in Wetstein).—ἐντρεπόμενος, having respect for, with accusative, as in late Greek; in earlier writers with genitive.2. a judge] Rather, a certain judge. The little story is not improbably taken from life, and doubtless the inferior judges under such a sovereignty as that of the Herods might afford many instances of carelessness and venality.

which feared not God, neither regarded man] The description of a character perfectly abandoned. He is living in violation of both of the two great commandments; in contradiction to the spirit of both Tables of the Decalogue. His conduct is the reverse of the noble advice of Jehoshaphat to his judges, 2 Chronicles 19:6-7; (2 Corinthians 8:21).

a widow] See Exodus 22:22; Deuteronomy 10:18; Isaiah 1:17; Isaiah 1:23; Malachi 3:5; 2 Samuel 14:2; 2 Samuel 14:5. The necessity for special justice and kindness to them rose from the fact that in the East they were of all classes the most defenceless and oppressed. Hence the prominent place which they occupy in the arrangements of the early Church (Acts 6:1; Acts 9:41; 1 Timothy 5:3, &c.).Luke 18:2. Θεὸνἄνθρωπον, God—man) ‘Regard’ to one or other of these two, God or else man, is certainly wont to influence most men, and to restrain judges from injustice (Luke 18:6, “the unjust judge,” lit. “the judge of injustice,” ὁ κριτὴς τῆς ἀδικίας).—μὴ φοβούμενος) We are wont φοβεῖσθαι, to fear, the power of others; and ἐντρέπεσθαι, to have regard to, or reverence for, the estimation of others.[196]

[196] In the earlier age of pure Greek, ἐντρέπομαι was construed with the Genitive of the person; but from the age of Plutarch downwards, with the Accusative of the person.—E. and T.Verse 2. - There was in a city a judge, which feared not God, neither regarded man. Probably enough the whole scene was a sketch from life; under such a rule as that of Herod Antipas there were, doubtless, judges of the character here portrayed. Regarded (ἐντρεπόμενος)

See on Matthew 21:37.

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