Luke 4:23
And he said unto them, Ye will surely say unto me this proverb, Physician, heal thyself: whatsoever we have heard done in Capernaum, do also here in thy country.
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(23) Physician, heal thyself.—There is something interesting in our finding this proverb in the Gospel of the beloved physician. May we think of him as hearing the proverb casually, tracking out its application, and so coming on this history? It was, probably, so far as is known, a common Jewish proverb; but there is no trace of it in Greek writers, and it was therefore likely to attract his notice.

Luke 4:23-24. And he said, Ye will surely say — That is, your approbation now outweighs your prejudices. But it will not be so long. You will soon ask, why my love does not begin at home? why I do not work miracles here, rather than at Capernaum? It is because of your unbelief. Nor is it any new thing for a messenger of God to be despised in his own country. So were both Elijah and Elisha, and thereby driven to work miracles among heathen, rather than in Israel. And he said, Verily, no prophet is accepted in his own country — That is, in his own neighbourhood. It generally holds, that a teacher sent from God is not so acceptable to his neighbours as he is to strangers. The meanness of his family, or lowness of his circumstances, brings his office into contempt: nor can they suffer that he, who was before equal with or below themselves, should now bear a superior character.

4:14-30 Christ taught in their synagogues, their places of public worship, where they met to read, expound, and apply the word, to pray and praise. All the gifts and graces of the Spirit were upon him and on him, without measure. By Christ, sinners may be loosed from the bonds of guilt, and by his Spirit and grace from the bondage of corruption. He came by the word of his gospel, to bring light to those that sat in the dark, and by the power of his grace, to give sight to those that were blind. And he preached the acceptable year of the Lord. Let sinners attend to the Saviour's invitation when liberty is thus proclaimed. Christ's name was Wonderful; in nothing was he more so than in the word of his grace, and the power that went along with it. We may well wonder that he should speak such words of grace to such graceless wretches as mankind. Some prejudice often furnishes an objection against the humbling doctrine of the cross; and while it is the word of God that stirs up men's enmity, they will blame the conduct or manner of the speaker. The doctrine of God's sovereignty, his right to do his will, provokes proud men. They will not seek his favour in his own way; and are angry when others have the favours they neglect. Still is Jesus rejected by multitudes who hear the same message from his words. While they crucify him afresh by their sins, may we honour him as the Son of God, the Saviour of men, and seek to show we do so by our obedience.Physician, heal thyself - This proverb was probably in common use at that time. The meaning is this: Suppose that a man should attempt to heal another when he was himself diseased in the same manner; it would be natural to ask him first to cure himself, and thus to render it manifest that he was worthy of confidence. The connection of this proverb, here, is this: "You profess to be the Messiah. You have performed miracles at Capernaum. You profess to be able to deliver us from our maladies, our sins, our afflictions. Show that you have the power, that you are worthy of our confidence, by working miracles here, as you profess to have done at Capernaum." It does not refer, therefore, to any purification of his own, or imply any reflection on him for setting up to teach them. It was only a demand that he would show the proper evidence "by miracles" why they should trust in him, and he proceeds to show them why he would not give them this evidence.

Whatsoever we have heard done - Whatsoever we have heard that thou hast done. It would seem, from this, that Christ had before this performed miracles in Capernaum, though the evangelist has not recorded them.

In Capernaum - Capernaum was on the northwest corner of the Sea of Tiberias, and was not far from Nazareth. It is not improbable that some of those who then heard him might have been present and witnessed some of his miracles at Capernaum. See the notes at Matthew 4:13.

23. this proverb—like our "Charity begins at home."

whatsoever, &c.—"Strange rumors have reached our ears of Thy doings at Capernaum; but if such power resides in Thee to cure the ills of humanity, why has none of it yet come nearer home, and why is all this alleged power reserved for strangers?" His choice of Capernaum as a place of residence since entering on public life was, it seems, already well known at Nazareth; and when He did come thither, to give no displays of His power when distant places were ringing with His fame, wounded their pride. He had indeed "laid his hands on a few sick folk and healed them" (Mr 6:5); but this seems to have been done quite privately the general unbelief precluding anything more open.

Ver. 23,24. Christ here tells those of Nazareth what was in their hearts, viz. that they in their hearts contemned him, because of the meanness of his parentage, and challenged him to confirm his doctrine by miracles, urging that Nazareth was his own country, and physicians in the first place ought to cure themselves, and their friends, and those of their own families; they therefore challenge him to work some such miracles as he had before wrought in Capernaum, as they had heard. He gives them the reason why he did no miracles amongst them, viz. because he discerned that they contemned them, as is very usual for persons, according to that common saying:

No prophet is accepted in his own country. The reference here to some things done before this time in Capernaum, would incline us to think that after Christ’s temptations he first went to Cana of Galilee, where he wrought his first miracle, John 2:1, turning the water into wine, then to Capernaum, where he staid not many days, John 2:12, then to Nazareth; but hearing that John was cast into prison, he removed from Nazareth to Capernaum, out of the jurisdiction of Herod, under the milder government of Philip his brother.

And he said unto them, ye will surely say unto me this proverb,.... Or "parable"; for any pithy sentence, or proverbial expression, was, by the Jews, called a parable:

physician heal thyself; and which was a proverb in use with the Jews; and which is sometimes expressed thus, , "go heal thyself" (m); and sometimes in this form, , "physician, heal thy lameness" (n): the meaning of which is, that a man ought to look at home, and take care of himself, and of those that belonged to him; and Christ was aware that his townsmen would object this to him, that if he was the person he was said to be, and could do the miracles and cures which were ascribed to him, he ought to do something of this kind at home, among them, who were his townsmen, neighbours, relations, and acquaintance; that is, heal their sick, lame, blind, leprous, deaf, and dumb: and that this is the sense of it, is manifest from what follows,

whatsoever we have heard done in Capernaum: a place where Christ often was, and where he cured the centurion's servant of the palsy, and Peter's wife's mother of a fever, and another man sick of a palsy, and the woman of her bloody issue, and a man that had a withered hand, and where he raised Jairus's daughter from the dead:

do also here in thy country; or city, as the Syriac, Arabic, Persic, and Ethiopic versions render it: hence it appears, that this was not the first of our Lord's ministry; he had preached elsewhere, and wrought miracles before he came to Nazareth, and of which his townsmen had heard; and therefore were desirous that he would do the like among them, if he was able, for they seem to be very incredulous, and to question the reports of him, and his ability to perform such things; however, if he could, they thought they had as good a right to his favours and benefits, as any, this being his native place.

(m) Zohar in Exod. fol. 31. 2.((n) Bereshit Rabba, sect. 23. fol. 20. 4.

And he said unto them, Ye will surely say unto me this proverb, Physician, heal thyself: whatsoever we have heard done in Capernaum, do also here in thy country.
Luke 4:23-24. Whether what follows, as far as Luke 4:27, is taken from the Logia (Ewald), or from some other written source (Köstlin), or from oral tradition (Holtzmann), cannot be determined. But the Logia offers itself most obviously as the source.

πάντως] certainly; a certainty that this would be the case. See on 1 Corinthians 9:10.

ἰατρέ κ.τ.λ.] a figurative proverb (παραβολή, מָשָׁל) that occurs also among the Greeks, the Romans, and the Rabbins. See Wetstein and Lightfoot. The meaning here is: If thou desirest to be a helper of others (Luke 4:18-19; Luke 4:21), first help thyself from the malady under which thou art suffering, from the want of consideration and esteem which attaches to thee; which healing of Himself, as they think, must be effected by means of miracle as a sign of divine attestation. See what follows. Others understand it: Help thine own fellow-townsmen (Theophylact, Euthymius Zigabenus, Calvin, Maldonatus, Grotius, Bengel, and others, also Paulus, de Wette, Schegg, Bisping). This is opposed to the meaning of the words, as σεαυτόν and ἰατρέ can only be one person. Moreover, the parabolic word concerning the physician is retained only in Luke, whom it might specially interest.

εἰς Καφαρναούμ] (the name is to be written thus in Luke also, with Lachmann and Tischendorf) indicates the direction of γενόμενα, which took place at Capernaum (Bernhardy, p. 220), comp. on Luke 4:23. The petty jealousy felt by the small towns against Capernaum is manifest here.

ὧδε ἐν τῇ πατρ. σου] here in thy birth-place. After the adverb of place comes the place itself, by way of a more vivid designation. Bornemann, Schol. p. 34; Fritzsche, ad Marc. p. 22.

Luke 4:24. But the hindrance to the fulfilment of that παραβολή, and also to the working here as at Capernaum, is found in the fact that no prophet, etc. According to this, it is unfounded for Baur, Evang. p. 506, to assume that the writer here understood πατρίς in a wider reference,[89] so that Paul’s experience in the Acts of the Apostles—of being compelled, when rejected by the Jews, to turn to the Gentiles—had already had its precedent here in the history of Jesus Himself. That the whole section—to wit, from καὶ φήμη, Luke 4:14, to Luke 4:30—is an interpolation from the hand of the redactor, is asserted by Baur, Markusevang. p. 218.

εἶπε δέ] after Luke 4:23 let a significant pause be supposed.

[89] Comp. Hilgenfeld, Evang. p. 168, “the Jewish home of Christianity;” Holtzmann also, p. 214. Whether in general Luke looked on the rejection of Christ in Nazareth as a “significant prelude for the rejection of Christ by His whole people” (Weiss in the Stud. u. Krit. 1861, p. 697), cannot be decided at all, as he gives no hint on the subject.

Luke 4:23. πάντως, doubtless, of course—παραβολὴν = Hebrew mashal, including proverbs as well as what we call “parables”. A proverb in this case.—Ἰατρέ, etc.: the verbal meaning is plain, the point of the parable not so plain, though what follows seems to indicate it distinctly enough = do here, among us, what you have, as we hear, done in Capernaum. This would not exactly amount to a physician healing himself. We must be content with the general idea: every sensible benefactor begins in his immediate surroundings. There is probably a touch of scepticism in the words = we will not believe the reports of your great deeds, unless you do such things here (Hahn). For similar proverbs in other tongues, vide Grotius and Wetstein. The reference to things done in Capernaum implies an antecedent ministry there.

23. this proverb] The Greek word is ‘parabolç,’ which is here used for the Hebrew mashal, and had a wider meaning than its English equivalent. Thus it is also used for a proverb (Beispiel), 1 Samuel 10:12; 1 Samuel 24:13; Ezekiel 12:22; or a type, Hebrews 9:9; Hebrews 11:19. See on Luke 8:5.

Physician, heal thyself] The same taunt was addressed to our Lord on the Cross. Here it seems to have more than one application,—meaning, ‘If you are the Messiah why are you so poor and humble?’ or, ‘Why do you not do something for us, here in your own home?’ (So Theophylact, Euthymius, &c.) It implies radical distrust, like Hic Rhodos, hic salta. There seems to be no exact Hebrew equivalent of the proverb, but something like it (a physician who needs healing) is found in Plut. De Discern. Adul. 32.

whatsoever we have heard done in Capernaum] St Luke has not before mentioned Capernaum, and this is one of the many indications found in his writings that silence respecting any event is no proof that he was unaware of it. Nor has any other Evangelist mentioned any previous miracle at Capernaum, unless we suppose that the healing of the courtier’s son (John 4:46-54) had preceded this visit to Nazareth. Jesus had, however, performed the first miracle at Cana, and may well have wrought others during the stay of “not many days” mentioned in John 2:12. Capernaum was so completely the head-quarters of His ministry as to be known as “His own city.” (Matthew 4:12-16; Matthew 11:23.)

Luke 4:23. Πάντως, by all means) Jesus is not caught or attracted by every kind of assent to His word: but presently subjoins remarks of such a kind, as that the hearers may be tested and proved by them. So John 8:32, where see the note.—ἐρεῖτε, ye will say) that is to say, this feeling, whereby ye say, Is not this Joseph’s son? will wax strong with you, when ye shall hear concerning my miracles. Comp. Matthew 13:54-55.[52] This is a metonymy of the consequent [for the antecedent], i.e. your unbelief [the antecedent] which ye now betray will prevent me, so that I shall not exhibit many miracles among you, as among others: then it shall be that you will be able to say [the consequent], Physician, heal thyself.—παραβολὴν) משל, a proverb.—σεαυτὸν, thyself) that is to say, what you have made good (performed) abroad, make good (perform) also at home, and in your own country.—ΚΑΠΕΡΝΑΟῪΜ, Capernaum) the city to which Jesus was shortly about to set out, and where He was about to perform miracles, Luke 4:31; Luke 4:33, etc. Even previously He had been there: John 2:12. But we do not read of His having at that time either stayed long or wrought miracles. [Nevertheless He is recorded (John 4:47) as having healed the son of the nobleman (courtier) who was afflicted with sickness in Capernaum: and this occurrence seems to be referred to in this passage no less than in those deeds which He afterwards wrought: namely, in the same way as already in the age of David, Psalm 85:2 (Thou hast forgiven the iniquity of the people, Thou hast covered all their sins), the conclusion is drawn from the deliverance out of the Babylonish captivity to ulterior instances of grace reserved for more remote times. Moreover, when Jesus, already in this passage, predicts these things of the city of Capernaum, it is hereby intimated that the violent usage offered to our Lord by the people of Nazareth, was not the cause, and the only cause in particular, for Jesus having departed to Capernaum to take up His abode there.—Harm., p. 189.]

[52] Where they say not merely, Is not this Joseph’s son? but also, Whence hath this man this wisdom and these mighty works, Is not this the carpenter’s son? Is not his mother? etc.?—ED. and TRANSL.

Verse 23. - Ye will surely say unto me this proverb, Physician, heal thyself. "There is something interesting in our finding this proverb in the Gospel of the beloved physician. May we think of him as hearing the proverb casually, tracking out its application, and so coming on this history? It was, probably, so far as is known, a common Jewish proverb; but there is no trace of it in Greek writers, and it was therefore likely to attract his notice" (Dean Plumptre). Whatsoever we have heard done in Capernaum, do also here in thy country. Now, up to this time in Jesus' public career no miracles are recorded as having been done in Capernaum. After the miracle at Cana we know that the Lord resided for some time in Capernaum (John 2:12); the miracles to which these men of Nazarath alluded were no doubt worked then. 'The memory of these early miracles, as Godet well observes, would have been effaced by more remarkable later events, as that at Cana would have been had not John, who required it in the plan of his Gospel, rescued it from oblivion. The Jews of Nazareth, after the first moment of surprise and admiration at Jesus' words, evidently looked at him with scorn and unbelief. That poor Carpenter their glorious expected Messiah! As for the marvellous deeds reported to have been done in Capernaum, they did not believe in them; at least why did he not here, in the neighborhood of his own home, something of the same kind? If they could see with their eyes marvels worked by him, then perhaps they might accept him as Messiah. Luke 4:23Surely (πάντως)

Lit., by all means. Rev., doubtless,

Proverb (παραβολὴν)

Rev., parable. See on Matthew 13:3. Wyc., likeness.

Physician, heal thyself

A saying which Luke alone records, and which would forcibly appeal to him as a physician. Galen speaks of a physician who should have cured himself before he attempted to attend patients. The same appeal was addressed to Christ on the cross (Matthew 27:40, Matthew 27:42).

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