Luke 19:8
And Zacchaeus stood, and said unto the Lord; Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have taken any thing from any man by false accusation, I restore him fourfold.
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(8) Zacchæus stood, and said unto the Lord . . .—The word for “stood” is the same as that used in the parable of the Pharisee and the Publican (Luke 18:11). Too much stress has, perhaps, been laid on its supposed force as indicating self-assertion in both cases. It does not seem to imply more than that Zacchæus, in his own house, hearing the murmurs of those who looked in at doors or windows, rose from his couch, and stood up, and in the hearing of all, said what follows. The phrase, “unto the Lord,” indicates, as elsewhere, that the facts were recorded by St. Luke at a comparatively late period. (See Note on Luke 7:11.)

The half of my goods I give . .—It seems more natural to see in this the statement of a new purpose than that of an habitual practice. In the absence of any words implying a command of this nature, we must assume either that it was a spontaneous impulse of large-hearted devotion, or, possibly, that Zacchæus had heard of the command given but a few days before to the young ruler (Luke 18:22). The promise implies immediate distribution. The compensation for wrongs that men might have suffered at his hands was to come out of the remaining half.

If I have taken any thing from any man by false accusation.—The seven words of the English text are all needed to express the one Greek word, the same as that in Luke 3:14, where see Note. It is a pity that English usage, and the modern meaning of the words, do not allow us to say, “If I have sycophanted any man.” Conscience probably reproached Zacchæus with not a few of such acts of spoliation in the past. The Greek phrase, “If I have taken anything,” hardly implies doubt as to the fact, and is used like our English “wherever.”

I restore him fourfold.—Here, also, it seems best to recognise in the words a new purpose. He is ready to compensate now for whatever wrong had been done before. There seems, indeed, something almost ludicrously incongruous in a devout man boasting that his rule of life is to make amends to those whom he deliberately cheats, and the special force of the verb practically excludes the idea of involuntary wrong.

The Law required in cases of voluntary restitution the addition of one-fifth of the value of the thing restored (Leviticus 6:5; Numbers 5:6-7).

The whole force of the history seems lost if we suppose Zacchæus, as some have done, to have been a model of a virtuous publican before he sought to see Jesus. On that supposition his words are like those of the Pharisee in the parable, a self-righteous boast. The strivings of repentance must, indeed, have begun before, and the man, when he welcomed our Lord’s presence, and trusted His words, was “justified by faith.” Is it too utterly bold a conjecture that He who saw Nathanael under the fig-tree (John 1:48), had seen Zacchæus in the Temple, and that the figure in the parable of Luke 18:14, was in fact a portrait?

19:1-10 Those who sincerely desire a sight of Christ, like Zaccheus, will break through opposition, and take pains to see him. Christ invited himself to Zaccheus' house. Wherever Christ comes he opens the heart, and inclines it to receive him. He that has a mind to know Christ, shall be known of him. Those whom Christ calls, must humble themselves, and come down. We may well receive him joyfully, who brings all good with him. Zaccheus gave proofs publicly that he was become a true convert. He does not look to be justified by his works, as the Pharisee; but by his good works he will, through the grace of God, show the sincerity of his faith and repentance. Zaccheus is declared to be a happy man, now he is turned from sin to God. Now that he is saved from his sins, from the guilt of them, from the power of them, all the benefits of salvation are his. Christ is come to his house, and where Christ comes he brings salvation with him. He came into this lost world to seek and to save it. His design was to save, when there was no salvation in any other. He seeks those that sought him not, and asked not for him.The half of my goods I give to the poor - It is not necessary to understand this as affirming that this "had" been his practice, or that he said this in the way of proclaiming his own righteousness. It maybe understood rather as a purpose which he "then" formed under the teaching of Christ. He seems to have been sensible that he was a sinner. Of this he was convinced, as we may suppose, by the presence and discourse of Jesus. At first, attracted only by curiosity, or, it may be, by partial conviction that this was the Messiah, he had sought to see the Saviour; but his presence and conversation convinced him of his guilt, and he stood and openly confessed his sins, and expressed his purpose to give half his ill-gotten property to the poor. This was not a proclamation of his "own" righteousness, nor the "ground" of his righteousness, but it was the "evidence" of the sincerity of his repentance, and the confession which with the mouth is made unto salvation, Romans 10:10.

And if I have taken - His office gave him the power of oppressing the people, and it seems that he did not deny that it had been done.

By false accusation - This is the same word which in Luke 3:14 is rendered "neither accuse any falsely." The accusation seems to have been so made that the person accused was obliged to pay much greater taxes, or so that his property came into the hands of the informer. There are many ways in which this might be done, but we do not know the exact manner.

I restore him - We cannot suppose that this had been always his practice, for no man would wantonly extort money from another, and then restore him at once four times as much; but it means that he was made sensible of his guilt; perhaps that his mind had been a considerable time perplexed in the matter, and that now he was resolved to make the restoration. This was the "evidence" of his penitence and conversion. And here it may be remarked that this is "always" an indisputable evidence of a man's conversion to God. A man who has hoarded ill-gotten gold, if he becomes a Christian, will be disposed to do good with it. A man who has injured others - who has cheated them or defrauded them, "even by due forms of law," must, if he be a Christian, be willing, as far as possible, to make restoration. Zacchaeus, for anything that appears to the contrary, may have obtained this property by the decisions of courts of justice, but he now felt that it was wrong; and though the defrauded people could not "legally" recover it, yet his conscience told him that, in order to his being a true penitent, he must make restitution. One of the best evidences of true conversion is when it produces this result; and one of the surest evidences that a "professed" penitent is not a "true" one, is when he is "not" disposed to follow the example of this son of Abraham and make proper restitution.

Four-fold - Four times as much as had been unjustly taken. This was the amount that was required in the Jewish law when a sheep had been stolen, and a man was convicted of the theft by trial at law, Exodus 22:1. If he "confessed" it himself, without being "detected" and tried, he had only to restore what was stolen, and add to it a fifth part of its value, Numbers 5:6-7. The sincerity of Zacchaeus' repentance was manifest by his being willing to make restoration as great as if it had been proved against him, evincing "his sense" of the wrong, and his purpose to make full restitution. The Jews were allowed to take "no interest" of their brethren Leviticus 25:35-36, and this is the reason why that is not mentioned as the measure of the restitution. When injury of this kind is done in other places, the least that is proper is to restore the principal and interest; for the injured person has a right "to all" that his property would have procured him if it had not been unjustly taken away.

8-10. stood—before all.

said unto the Lord, Behold, Lord—Mark how frequently Luke uses this title, and always where lordly authority, dignity, or power is intended.

if I have—that is, "so far as I have," for evidently the "if" is so used (as in Php 4:8).

taken by false accusation—defrauded, overcharged (Lu 3:12, 13).

fourfold—The Roman law required this; the Jewish law, but the principal and a fifth more (Nu 5:7). There was no demand made for either; but, as if to revenge himself on his hitherto reigning sin (see on [1696]Joh 20:28), and to testify the change he had experienced, besides surrendering the half of his fair gains to the poor, he voluntarily determines to give up all that was ill-gotten, quadrupled. He gratefully addressed this to the "Lord," to whom he owed the wonderful change.

See here the first effects of Christ’s saving looks upon any soul. The soul presently begins to cry out with the prophet, Isaiah 6:5, Woe is me! For I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts. Zacchaeus is now made sensible of his covetousness, and hardness of heart towards the poor, of his extortion and oppression, and resolves upon an effectual reformation. Christ never looks any soul in the face, but he looks his scandalous sinnings out of countenance. Acts of charity and justice are the first fruits of true repentance. The world, and the love of it, go out of the heart as soon as ever the true love of Christ comes into it; the soul knows that it cannot serve God and mammon. In case of wrong done to others, there can be no repentance, nor (consequently) any remission, without restitution and satisfaction, so far as we know it, and are able.

I restore, saith Zacchaeus. True love to Christ never giveth him bare measure. God had no where required the giving of half a man’s goods to the poor, nor the restoring of fourfold, except in case of theft, of which men were judicially convicted; in case of voluntary confession, the law was but for a fifth part, over and above the principal, its to which a person was wronged, Numbers 5:7. In case an ox were stolen, the thief was to restore fivefold, and in case of a sheep stolen four were to be restored, if the person had alienated it; if it were found alive in his hand, he was to restore double, Exodus 22:1,4. In other cases he was to restore but double, if it came to the sentence of the judge, Exodus 22:9; but in case of a voluntary confession, He was only tied to a fifth part above the principal, and to bring a trespass offering to the Lord, Leviticus 6:1-6. This was the case of Zacchaeus; being touched with the sense of his sin, he voluntarily confesseth, and promises the highest degree of restitution. But a true love in the soul to Christ thinks nothing too much to do in the detestation of sin, or demonstration of itself in works which may be acceptable in the sight of God.

And Zacchaeus stood,.... Before Christ, in respect to him, and reverence of him; and in the presence of others, to make a public confession before them, and that they might all hear it, when come to his own house:

and said unto the Lord; that is, to "Jesus", as the Syriac and Persic versions, and some copies read; he addressed himself to Christ, and made his confession to him, as the Israelite, when he brought the basket of the firstfruits to the priest, confessed before the Lord his God, Deuteronomy 26:4. And the rather Zacchaeus directed his speech to Christ, being, as he was now convinced, the discerner of the thoughts, and intents of the heart; who knew the genuineness of his repentance, that it was hearty and real; and the sincerity of his expressions and resolutions, and upon what principles he acted, and proposed to do as follows:

behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give unto the poor; not to make satisfaction for the sins he had committed, but to testify his sense of them, and his repentance for them, and as willing to do good with what he had gotten; which shows, that the disposition of his mind was altered, and of a covetous oppressor, he was become tender, kind, and liberal. According to an order made by the Jews in Usha, a man might not give away more than a fifth part of his estate, unless in some extraordinary cases (u); and we read of one, that gave a "third" part of his goods to the poor (w); and of another, that gave, as here, half of his mammon, or wealth (x); and another, half of his food to the poor (y); and of another, that gave away all his goods to them (z); see 1 Corinthians 13:3; to give a tenth part, was reckoned a medium (a):

and if I have taken any thing from any man by false accusation; or by extorting any thing from him on any pretence, by making an unjust demand upon him; or in any oppressive way, by defrauding and tricking, and by doing him any injury, in any form or manner:

I restore him fourfold: the same that was done in case of sheep stealing, Exodus 22:1 but in such a case as this, the law only required the principal, with the fifth part added to it; see Leviticus 6:5 but Zacchaeus proposes as much as in the case of theft, and which was rarely used. The Jews (b) say,

"that the manner of paying double, was more used than the manner of paying fourfold, or fivefold; for the manner of paying double was used, both in things animate and inanimate; but the manner of paying fourfold and fivefold, was used but with respect to an ox, and a sheep only.''

This was done by Zacchaeus, to show the truth and reality of his repentance; for with that nation,

"the repentance of shepherds, and of collectors, and of "publicans", is said (c) to be very difficult:''

the reason given by the gloss is, because they rob many, and do not know who to return to.

(u) T. Bab. Cetubot, fol. 50. 1. & Maimon. in Misn. Peah, c. 1, sect 1.((w) T. Bab. Menachot, fol. 44. 1.((x) T. Bab. Cetubot, fol. 67. 2.((y) Juchasin, fol. 105. 2.((z) T. Hieros. Peah, fol. 15. 2.((a) Maimon. Hilch. Mattanot Anayim, c. 7. sect. 5. (b) Misna Bava Kama, c. 7. sect. 1.((c) T. Bab. Bava Kama, fol. 94. 2.

{3} And Zacchaeus stood, and said unto the Lord; Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have taken any thing from any man by {b} false accusation, I restore him fourfold.

(3) The example of true repentance is known by the effect.

(b) By falsely accusing any man: and this agrees most fitly to the master of the tax gatherers: for commonly they have this practice among them when they rob and spoil the commonwealth, that they claim to be concerned for nothing else except the profit of the commonwealth, and under this pretence they are thieves, and to such an extent that if men reprove them and try to redress their robbery and thievery, they cry out that the commonwealth is hindered.

Luke 19:8. The supposition “Jesu cohortationes et monitiones tantam vim habuisse in Zacchaei animum,” etc. (Kuinoel, comp. Grotius), and that the murmuring and the vow did not occur till the morning of the departure (Schleiermacher, Olshausen), has no foundation in the text, in accordance with which it was rather the immediate personal impression of Jesus that seized and took possession of the wealthy chief publican in that manner. His vow includes the consciousness of his unworthiness of the great happiness that has befallen him through the entertainment of the Messiah, and his determination, for the sake of this happiness, to make abundant compensation for his former guilt. According to Paulus, the publican wished to confute the charge παρὰ ἁμαρτ. ἀνδρί, and said εἴ τινός τι ἐσυκοφ. κ.τ.λ. in the conviction of his innocence. This is opposed to the context, opposed to the preceding τὰ ἡμίσ. κ.τ.λ., and opposed to Luke 19:10; moreover, his whole style of asserting his innocence would be an unbecoming piece of parade.

σταθείς] he stood forth before Jesus,—a joyful confidence. Comp. on Luke 18:11.

ἡμίση] The form ἡμίσεα (Lachmann), which Attic writers approve, is a correction either from ἡμίση or from ἡμίσεια.[230] As to the substantival neuter, see Kühner, § 479 b; Bornemann, ad Xen. Cyrop. viii. 3. 41.

ΕἼ ΤΙΝΌς ΤΙ ἘΣΥΚΟΦ.] If I have taken anything from any one by fraud. The verb (Luke 3:14) is construed like ἀποστερεῖν τινός τι (Plut. Dem. iv.; Soph. Phil. 1267), ἀπολαύειν τινός τι (Xen. Hier. vii. 9, Mem. i. 6. 2; Plat. Crit. p. 54 A; Arist. Nub. 1231); among the Greeks with ΠΑΡΆ, Lys. p. 177, 32. The ΕἸ is not to make the matter uncertain, as though he were conscious to himself of no such extortion, but ΕἼΤΙ is the milder expression of self-confession instead of , ΤΙ. See Dissen, ad Dem. de cor. p. 195.

τετραπλοῦν] he professes himself ready for a measure of compensation, such as was ordained for theft, Ex. 21:37; 1 Samuel 12:3. Conip. Keil, Arch. § 154. 3. In respect of breach of trust and the like, it was ordained only that a fifth part above the value should be restored (Lev. 5:21 ff.; Numbers 5:6 f.).

[230] Tischendorf, namely, has adopted τὸ ἡμίσεια, in accordance with B L Q Λ א. Certainly in the classical writers ἡμίσεια (scil. μοῖρα or μερίς) is the substantival feminine of ἥμισυς, Thuc. vi. 62. 4; Plat. Leg. 12, p. 956 D, Ep. vii. p. 347 C; Dem. 430. 8; Lucian, Herm. 48; while τὰ ἡμίσεια occurs also at least in Antonin. Lib. ii. p. 16; hence it is all the more probable that Luke wrote it, but it was then changed into ἡμίσεα, and finally into ἡμίση.

Luke 19:8. σταθεὶς: like the Pharisees (Luke 18:11) but in a different spirit—in self-defence, not self-laudation. J. Weiss thinks the word indicates the solemn attitude of a man about to make a vow (Meyer).—μ. τ. ὑπαρχόντων, the half of my goods, earnings, not of my income (οἱ πρόσοδοι) as Godet suggests.—δίδωμι, ἀποδίδωμι: presents, probably expressing not past habit but purpose for the future. This is the regenerating effect of that generous, brave word of Jesus. It has made a new man of him. Yet the desire to see Jesus, of whom he had heard as the publicans’ friend, shows that the germ of the new man was there before. A “sinner” doubtless in the way indicated, as the εἴ τι mildly admits, but by no means, even in the past, a type of the hard, heartless, unscrupulous publican.—τετραπλοῦν, four fold, as in cases of theft (Exodus 22:1, four or five fold).

8. stood] The word means ‘taking his position’ in sight of all the crowd; see Luke 18:11.

unto the Lord] Not to the crowd who had nothing but contempt and hatred for him, but to Him who loved the nobler self which He saw in him, and of whose notice he desired to be more worthy.

the half of my goods] A vast sacrifice for one whose very position shewed that he had not been indifferent to wealth.

I give] i.e. I now propose to give; a purpose not a past habit.

by false accusation] On the word esukophantesa, see Luke 3:14.

] far more therefore than was required by the Mosaic Law, which only demanded the restitution of a fifth part beyond the principal, Numbers 5:7. The words neither deny nor affirm that any part of his wealth had been thus dishonestly gained.

Luke 19:8. Σταθεὶς, taking his stand, standing forth) [See note on ch. Luke 18:11] with deliberate and ready mind.—τὰ ἡμίση) The Plural. So the LXX., Joshua 13:31 [τοῖς ἡμίσεσιν υἱοῖς].—ἐσυκοφάντησα, I have defrauded [“by false accusation”]) An ingenuous confession, accompanied with voluntary restitution.—[τετραπλοῦν, fourfold) according to the law. For Zaccheus was an Israelite, as appears from Luke 19:9. His Hebrew name is in accordance with this view.—V. g.]

Verse 8. - And Zacchaeus stood, and said unto the Lord; Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have taken anything from any man by false accusation, I restore him fourfold. Zacchaeus's memorable speech was addressed not as an apologia to the murmuring, jealous crowd, either in the room or the courtyard of the house, but to his Divine Guest, who, he felt, understood him, whose great heart, he knew, sympathized with him in that life of his, so tempted and yet so full of quiet, noble acts; for the chief publican's words do not refer to a future purpose, but they speak of a past rule of life which he had set for himself to follow, and probably had followed for a long period. So Godet, who paraphrases thus: "He whom thou hast thought good to choose as thy host is not, as is alleged, a being unworthy of thy choice. Lo, publican though I am, it is no ill-gotten gain with which I entertain thee." In a profession like his, it was easy to commit involuntary injustice. There may, too, have been, probably was, many a hard if not an unjust act worked by the chief of the tax-gatherers and his subordinates in their difficult employment. Luke 19:8Stood (σταθεὶς)

See on Luke 18:11. Describing a formal act, as of one who is about to make a solemn declaration. He was like the Pharisee in attitude, but not in spirit. The more formal word for standing, applied to the Pharisee in the temple, is here used of the publican.


Not, It is my practice to give. Zacchaeus' statement is not a vindication, but a vow. "I now give by way of restoration."

If I have taken anything by false accusation (εἴ τι ἐσυκοφάντησα)

If - anything does not state a merely possible case, as if Zacchaeus were unconscious of any such extortion; but is a milder way of saying "Whatever I have taken." See on Luke 3:14. It is an odd coincidence, nothing more, that the fig-mulberry (sycamore) should occur in connection with the fig-shewer (sycophant). It was common for the publicans to put a fictitious value on property or income, or to advance the tax to those unable to pay, and then to charge usurious interest on the private debt. On the harsh exaction of such debts, see Matthew 18:28; Luke 12:58.


The restoration required of a thief (Exodus 22:1).

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