Luke 5:27
And after these things he went forth, and saw a publican, named Levi, sitting at the receipt of custom: and he said unto him, Follow me.
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(27-32) A publican, named Levi.—See Notes on Matthew 9:9-13, Mark 2:14-17. St. Luke’s agreement with St. Mark is again a noticeable fact.

Luke 5:27-29. He went forth and saw a publican, &c. — Having performed this great miracle on the paralytic, Jesus thought proper to allow the Pharisees and doctors an opportunity of conferring upon it among themselves, and of making what observations they pleased concerning it, in the hearing of the common people. He left the house, therefore, immediately. But on his going out the people accompanied him, eager to hear him preach. This good disposition which they were in, Jesus improved to their advantage. He went with them to the lake, and on the shore preached to a great multitude, Mark 2:13. When he had made an end of speaking, he passed by the receipt of custom, or booth, where the collectors of the tax waited to levy it, possibly from the vessels which used the port of Capernaum. Here he saw a publican, Matthew or Levi, (for it was a common thing among the Jews for a person to have two names,) sitting, whom he ordered to follow him, and who immediately obeyed, being designed of God for a more honourable employment than that of collecting the taxes. Matthew, thinking himself highly honoured by this call, made a great feast, or entertainment, for Jesus and his disciples, inviting, at the same time, as many of his brother publicans as he could, hoping that Christ’s conversation might bring them to repentance. In this action, therefore, Matthew showed both gratitude and charity; gratitude to Christ who had now called him, and charity to his acquaintance in labouring to bring about their conversion.

5:27-39 It was a wonder of Christ's grace, that he would call a publican to be his disciple and follower. It was a wonder of his grace, that the call was made so effectual. It was a wonder of his grace, that he came to call sinners to repentance, and to assure them of pardon. It was a wonder of his grace, that he so patiently bore the contradiction of sinners against himself and his disciples. It was a wonder of his grace, that he fixed the services of his disciples according to their strength and standing. The Lord trains up his people gradually for the trials allotted them; we should copy his example in dealing with the weak in faith, or the tempted believer.See the notes at Matthew 9:9-13.Lu 5:27-32. Levi's Call and Feast.

(See on [1576]Mt 9:9-13; and Mr 2:14.)

Ver. 27-32. See Poole on "Matthew 9:9", and following verses to Matthew 9:13. See Poole on "Mark 2:14", and following verses to Mark 2:17, both which evangelists have also recorded this call of Levi; the first calls him Matthew; Mark and Luke call him Levi. There was nothing more ordinary amongst the Jews than for persons to have two names. Mark tells us his father’s name also, saying he was the son of Alphaeus. All agree in his employment, that he was a publican, one employed in the gathering of the public revenue, that part of it which arose from the exportation and importation of commodities; for he was sitting at the receipt of custom. Christ from thence calls him; he follows him, that is, gave up his name to be his disciple; in gratitude, Matthew, or Levi, invites him to a feast, and with him several other publicans and others. The other two evangelists say nothing of Matthew’s preparing this feast; but it is implied in them, for they take notice of his sitting at meat in his house, and of the offence taken at it by the scribes and the Pharisees, and of our Saviour’s taking notice of it, and what he said in justification of himself: see the notes before mentioned above. Only Matthew adds, that our Lord also said unto them, Go ye and learn what that meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice. But for the explication of our Saviour’s entire answer,

See Poole on "Matthew 9:9", and following verses to Matthew 9:13.

And after these things he went forth,.... After his discourse with the Scribes and Pharisees, and his healing of the man, sick with the palsy, he went forth from the city of Capernaum, to the sea side; not only for retirement and recreation, after the work of the day hitherto, but in order to meet with, and call one that was to be a disciple of his:

and saw a publican named Levi who is said to be the son of Alphaeus, Mark 2:14 and so it is said to be in Beza's ancient copy here; and who was also called Matthew, see Matthew 9:9

sitting at the receipt of custom; at the place where custom was received, and toll taken, near the sea side, of such that went over. The Syriac and Persic versions read, "sitting among publicans", of which business he himself was; and these might be his servants under him, or partners with him; See Gill on Mark 2:14.

and he said unto him, follow me: of all the publicans that were there, he singled out Levi, or Matthew, and directed his discourse to him, and called him to be a follower of him: an instance of powerful, special, and distinguishing grace this; See Gill on Matthew 9:9.

{5} And after these things he went forth, and saw a publican, named Levi, sitting at the receipt of custom: and he said unto him, Follow me.

(5) The Church is a company of sinners who are repentant through the grace of Christ, who banquet with him to the great offence of the proud and envious people of the world.

Luke 5:27-39. See on Matthew 9:9-17; Mark 2:13-22.

ἐξῆλθε] out of the house, Luke 5:19.

ἐθεάσατο] He looked at him observingly.

Luke 5:28. The order of events is: after he had forsaken all, he rose up and followed Him. The imperfect (see the critical remarks) is used for the sake of vividness. ἅπαντα, as in Luke 5:11, refers to the whole previous occupation and position in life. Bengel well adds: “quo ipso tamen non desiit domus esse sua,” Luke 5:29.

Luke 5:29. καὶ ἦν] et aderat, as in Luke 5:17.

Luke 5:30. αὐτῶν] of the dwellers in the town.

πρός] an antagonistic direction.

Luke 5:33. οἱ δὲ εἶπον] As to this variation from Matthew and Mark, see on Matthew 9:17, Remark. On the association of fasting and making prayers, comp. Luke 2:37, and on ποιεῖσθαι δεήσεις, 1 Timothy 2:1.

ἐσθ. κ. πίνουσιν] the same thing as οὐ νηστεύουσι in the parallels, but more strongly expressed. In accordance with the deletion of διατί (see the critical remarks), there remains no question, but an affirmative reflection.

Luke 5:34. μὴ δύνασθε κ.τ.λ.] ye cannot, etc., brings out the inappropriateness of that reflection in a more concrete form than in Matthew and Mark.

Luke 5:35. καί] might be taken explicatively (and indeed) (Bornemann, Bleek). But it is more in keeping with the profound emotion of the discourse to take ἐλεύσονται κ.τ.λ. by itself as a thought broken off, and καί in the sense of: and: But days shall come (and not tarry) … and when shall be taken away, etc.

ἐν ἐκείν. ταῖς ἡμέρ.] a painful solemnity of expression, whereby the emphasis is laid upon ἐκείναις. Comp. on Mark 2:20.

Luke 5:36. ἐπίβλημα ἱματ. καινοῦ] i.e. a patch cut off from a new garment. By the use of ἱματίου the incongruity of the proceeding comes still more strongly into prominence than by ῥάκους, which is used in Matthew and Mark. An unintentional modification of the tradition—not an alteration proceeding from the Paulinism of the writer, and directed against the syncretism of the Jewish Christians, as Köstlin, p. 174, ingeniously maintains. Even Lange explains the expression by supposing that there floated already before the mind of the Pauline Luke a clearer vision of the Christian community as distinct from Judaism (L. J. III. p. 395).

καὶ τὸ καινὸν σχίσει καὶ κ.τ.λ.] comprises the twofold mischief which will ensue (future, see the critical remarks) if one does not obey that principle taken from experience; He will not only cut the new (garment) in twain (in taking off the piece), but, moreover, the (piece) of the new (garment) will not be in keeping with the old (garment). Comp. Kypke, Paulus, de Wette, Bleek, Schegg, even as early as Erasmus. On σχίσει, comp. John 19:24; Isaiah 37:1. But usually τὸ καινόν is explained as the subject, and either σχίσει is taken intransitively (“scindet se a veteri,” Bengel), or τὸ παλαιὸν ἱμάτιον is regarded as its object: the new piece will rend asunder the old garment (comp. Kuinoel). Incorrectly; since this supplying of the object is not required by the context, but is obtruded for the sake of the harmony with Matthew 9:16, Mark 2:21, and τὸ ἀπὸ τοῦ καινοῦ (it is not τὸ καινόν) clearly shows that even to τὸ καινόν we are to understand only ἱμάτιον, not ἐπίβλημα; and, moreover, τὸ ἀπὸ τοῦ καινοῦ would be altogether superfluous and clumsy.

Luke 5:39. Peculiar to Luke; but it is as little to be explained as resulting from later reflection on the difficulty of the mission to the Jews (Weizsäcker), as is the emphasis laid upon the incompatibility of the two, Luke 5:36. As Jesus in Luke 5:36-38 made it manifest how unsuitable and injurious it would be to bind up the essence and the life of the new theocracy with the forms and institutions of the old, so now at Luke 5:39 he once more, by means of a parabolic expression, makes it intelligible how natural it is that the disciples of John and of the Pharisees should not be able to consent to the giving up of the OLD forms and institutions which had become dear to them, and to the exchanging of them for the NEW life in accordance with ITS fundamental principles. He says that this should be as little expected as that any one when he has drunk old wine should long for new, since he finds that the old is better. So in substance Theophylact, Euthymius Zigabenus, Erasmus, Clarius, Zeger, Calovius, Wolf, Bengel, Paulus, Olshausen, Lange, and others;[94] and rightly, since even in Luke 5:37 f. the contrast of the old and new wine typified the contrasted old and new theocratic life. Hence we are neither, with Wetstein, to suppose the meaning reversed: “Pharisaeorum austeritas comparator vino novo, Christi lenitas vino veteri;” nor, with Grotius (comp. Estius and Clericus), to interpret: “Homines non subito ad austeriorem vitam pertrahendos, sed per gradus quosdam assuefaciendos esse” (Jesus, in truth, had no wish to accustom them to an “austeriorem vitam!”); nor, with Schegg, to substitute the meaning: “that not till the old wine is expended (in reference to Luke 5:35) is the new drunk (which refers to fasts, etc., as a remedy for their being deprived of the presence of Christ).” But by the objection that the old wine is actually better (Sir 9:10, and see Wolf and Wetstein) the parable is unduly pressed (in opposition to de Wette and others), since in Luke 5:37-39 the point of comparison is not the quality of the wine in itself, but the relation of the old and the new. Outside the point of comparison, every parable is apt to be at fault. Moreover, χρηστός denotes the agreeable delicious taste. Comp. Plut. Mor. p. 240 D, 1073 A. The new has, as it were, no taste if the old has been found agreeable. But irony is as little to be found in Luke 5:39 as in Luke 5:37 f., and the gentle exculpatory character of the discourse, Luke 5:39 (which must in no wise be taken to mean full approval, in opposition to Hilgenfeld in the Theol. Jahrb. 1853, p. 215), is perfectly explained from the fact that, according to Matthew 9:14, it is to be supposed that this conversation about fasting did not originally take place with the Pharisees, but with the disciples of John. See on Matthew. Comp. also Volkmar, Evang. Marcions, p. 219 ff. If in the two parables it were desired to abide by the general thought of unsuitableness (as it would be unsuitable to pour new wine into old skins, and after old wine immediately to drink new; so also it would be unsuitable if my disciples desired to bind themselves to the old institutions), the figure of Luke 5:39 would be very much out of harmony with the appropriate figure in Luke 5:38, and the unsuitable matter would at Luke 5:39 be represented in direct contradiction to fact (in opposition to de Wette); apart from this, moreover, that θέλει (not ΠΊΝΕΙ) applies the saying subjectively. According to Kuinoel and Bleek, Jesus spoke the words in Luke 5:39 at another time. But it is in keeping with the connection, and is certainly taken from the Logia.

[94] Baur, Markusevang. p. 202 (comp. Zeller, Apost. p. 15; Hilgenfeld, Krit. Unters. p. 403, and in the Theol. Jahrb. 1853, p. 200 f.), regards ver. 39, which is wanting in D and codd. of It., as an anti-heretical addition. But the omission is explained simply from the apparent incongruity of the sense, and from the lack of any expression of the kind in the parallel passages, although Lachmann also (Praef. p. xxxvi.), but from purely critical hesitation, was doubtful about the genuineness of the verse.

Luke 5:27-32. Call of Levi (Matthew 9:9-13, Mark 2:13-17).

27–39. The Call and Feast of Levi. On Fasting. The New and the Old

27. and saw] Rather, He observed.

named Levi] It may be regarded as certain that Levi is the same person as the Evangelist St Matthew. The name Matthew (probably a corruption of Mattihijah) means, like Nathanael, Theodore, Doritheus, Adeodatus, &c., ‘the gift of God,’ and it seems to have been the name which he himself adopted after his call (see Matthew 9:9; Matthew 10:3; Mark 2:14).

at the receipt of custom] Matthew may have been a tax-gatherer for Herod Antipas—who seems to have been allowed to manage his own taxes—and not for the Romans; but even in that case he would share almost equally with a man like Zacchaeus the odium with which his class was regarded. For the Herods were mere creatures of the Caesars (Jos. Antt. xvii. 11 § 6). Probably the ‘custom’ was connected with the traffic of the Lake, and in the Hebrew Gospel of St Matthew ‘publican’ is rendered ‘Baal abarah’ ‘lord of the passage.’

Luke 5:27. Ἐθεάσατο, He beheld) with compassion.

Verses 27-29. - The calf of Levi (Matthew the publican), and the feast that followed. Verse 27. - And after these things he went forth, and saw a publican, named Levi, sitting at the receipt of custom: and he said unto him, Follow me. Capernaum, as has been already noticed, had become, owing to its situation, a commercial centre of no small importance. It was on the great highway from the interior of Asia, and from Damascus to the seaboard Mediterranean cities, to Jerusalem, and to Egypt. The custom-house of Capernaum and the office of inland revenue there would naturally be under the control of officials of some importance. The local trade on the lake, too, we know at that period was very large. It has been frequently asked - What specially induced our Lord to select as one of his inner circle a man whose life-work was so hateful and unpopular to the Jewish people generally? why did he include in the twelve one who, from the nature of his detested office, had lost religious caste among the Jews, and who was compelled to consort with sinners, Gentiles, and persons who were considered, either from their birth or life and associations, outside the pale of the chosen people? Various replies to this question have been suggested, such as - by this open act he threw down the gauntlet to all that powerful Pharisee class who were beginning to suspect and to mistake his teaching and liberalism. Or was his apparently strange choice dictated by a simple desire to have, in the inner circle of his devoted friends, a business man - one who could manage the affairs and regulate the economy of the little growing society? but this seems to have been done by Judas; or was it simply done in obedience to a sudden impulse from on High? None of these seems satisfactory. Surely another motive, and that a deeper and a nobler one, suggested this enrolment of the despised publican in that glorious company of apostles. The Lord was determined to show, by this choice of his, that in his eyes all callings were equally honourable, all ways of life might lead to the city of the blessed. Never would the work ennoble the man, but only the way in which the work was done. The Baptist, as we have seen, first taught this Divine liberalism. The Baptist's Lord placed his seal of approval upon his servant's teaching by such acts as the calling of Matthew the publican, and feasting in his house with publicans and sinners. Luke 5:27He saw (ἐθεάσατο)

Better, as Rev., beheld, since the verb denotes looking attentively. See on Matthew 11:7.

A publican

See on Luke 3:12.

Receipt of custom

See on Matthew 9:9.

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