Luke 2:50
And they understood not the saying which he spoke to them.
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(50) They understood not the saying.—We are apt to think that they should have understood, and sceptical criticism has seen in this a contradiction to the previous history of the Annunciation and the Birth. Twelve years, however, of the life of childhood after the outward pattern of that of other children, may have dulled the impressions that had then been made; and even if they, in part, understood the words as referring to the marvel of His birth, they were still in the dark as to what He meant by being “about His Father’s business.” As it was, though it was the first flash of a greatness more than human, it was but momentary. It faded into “the light of common day,” and life went on in its quiet and simple fashion as before. It is clear, at any rate, that the writer of the Gospel was not conscious of any inconsistency between the later and the earlier narratives of the childhood of the Christ.

2:41-52 It is for the honour of Christ that children should attend on public worship. His parents did not return till they had stayed all the seven days of the feast. It is well to stay to the end of an ordinance, as becomes those who say, It is good to be here. Those that have lost their comforts in Christ, and the evidences of their having a part in him, must bethink themselves where, and when, and how they lost them, and must turn back again. Those that would recover their lost acquaintance with Christ, must go to the place in which he has put his name; there they may hope to meet him. They found him in some part of the temple, where the doctors of the law kept their schools; he was sitting there, hearkening to their instructions, proposing questions, and answering inquiries, with such wisdom, that those who heard were delighted with him. Young persons should seek the knowledge of Divine truth, attend the ministry of the gospel, and ask such questions of their elders and teachers as may tend to increase their knowledge. Those who seek Christ in sorrow, shall find him with the greater joy. Know ye not that I ought to be in my Father's house; at my Father's work; I must be about my Father's business. Herein is an example; for it becomes the children of God, in conformity to Christ, to attend their heavenly Father's business, and make all other concerns give way to it. Though he was the Son of God, yet he was subject to his earthly parents; how then will the foolish and weak sons of men answer it, who are disobedient to their parents? However we may neglect men's sayings, because they are obscure, yet we must not think so of God's sayings. That which at first is dark, may afterwards become plain and easy. The greatest and wisest, those most eminent, may learn of this admirable and Divine Child, that it is the truest greatness of soul to know our own place and office; to deny ourselves amusements and pleasures not consistent with our state and calling.They understood not ... - It is remarkable that they did not understand Jesus in this, but it shows how slow persons are to believe. Even his parents, after all that had taken place, did not seem to comprehend that "he" was to be the Saviour of people, or if they did, they understood it in a very imperfect manner. 50, 51. understood not—probably He had never expressly said as much, and so confounded them, though it was but the true interpretation of many things which they had seen and heard from Him at home. (See on [1541]Joh 14:4.) But lest it should be thought that now He threw off the filial yoke, and became His own Master henceforth, and theirs too, it is purposely added, "And He went down with them, and was subject unto them." The marvel of this condescension lies in its coming after such a scene, and such an assertion of His higher Sonship; and the words are evidently meant to convey this. "From this time we have no more mention of Joseph. The next we hear is of his "mother and brethren" (Joh 2:12); whence it is inferred, that between this time and the commencement of our Lord's public life, Joseph died" [Alford], having now served the double end of being the protector of our Lord's Virgin—mother, and affording Himself the opportunity of presenting a matchless pattern of subjection to both parents. See Poole on "Luke 2:49" And they understood not the saying,.... What he meant by his Father's house, or his Father's business, and the necessity of his being there, and about that:

which he spake unto them; at that time, and as above related.

And they understood not the saying which he spake unto them.
Luke 2:50 f. If the angelic announcement, Luke 1:26 ff., especially Luke 2:32; Luke 2:35; Luke 2:10 ff. (comp. especially Luke 2:19), be historical, it is altogether incomprehensible how the words of Jesus could be unintelligible to His parents. Evasive explanations are given by Olshausen, and even Bleek and older expositors (that they had simply not understood the deeper meaning of the unity of the Son and the Father), Ebrard (that Mary had no inner perception of the fact that the Father’s word could become so absolutely exclusive a comfort of souls, and be so even in the boy), and others. Schleiermacher, L. J. p. 78, gives a candid judgment.

ὑποτασσόμ. αὐτοῖς] That mighty exaltation of the consciousness of divine Sonship not only did not hinder, but conditioned with moral necessity in the youthful development of the God-man the fulfilment of filial duty, the highest proof of which was subsequently given by the Crucified One, John 19:26 ff.

ἡ δὲ μήτηρ κ.τ.λ.] significant as in Luke 2:19; διατηρεῖν denotes the careful preservation. Comp. Acts 15:29; Genesis 37:11.


The rejection of this significant history as a myth (Gabler in Neuest. theol. Journ. III. 1, 36 ff.; Strauss, Weisse,[62] I. p. 212 ff.), as regards which the analogies of the childhood of Moses (Joseph. Antt. ii. 9. 6; Philo, de vita Mos. II. p. 83 f.) and of Samuel (1 Samuel 3; Joseph. Antt. v. 10. 4) have been made use of, is the less to be acquiesced in, in proportion to the greatness of the impression that must naturally have been made on the Son of God, in the human development of His consciousness of fellowship with God, at His first taking part in the celebration of the festival in the grand sanctuary of the nation,[63] and in proportion to the unadorned simplicity of the narrative and its internal truth as contrasted with the fabulous disfigurements of it in the apocryphal Evangelium infantiae, and even with the previous portions of the history of Luke himself. Comp. Schleiermacher, L. J. 80 f. The objection of an unnatural mental precocity applies an unwarranted standard in the case of Jesus, who was κατὰ πνεῦμα God’s Son.

[62] Weisse interprets it allegorically: that the youthful spirit of Christianity withdrew itself from the care and the supervision of its parents, i.e. from the restrictions of Jewish law and from the wisdom of the ancestral schools, etc.

[63] Comp. Beyschlag, Christol. d. N. T. p. 45.Luke 2:50. οὐ συνῆκαν, they did not understand; no wonder! Even we do not yet fully understand.50. they understood not] Words which might stand as the epitome of much of His ministry, Luke 9:45, Luke 18:34; Mark 9:32; John 10:6; John 1:10-11. The meaning however is not that they had any doubt as to what the grammatical construction of His words implied; but only as to their bearing and appropriateness to the circumstances of so young a child.Luke 2:50. Οὐ συνῆκαν, they did not understand) Therefore He had not learned this from them, or from the other teachers, Luke 2:47-48. Not long before He had spoken concerning the Father, and that not ineffectively.The saying (τὸ ῥῆμα)

See on Luke 1:37.

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