And John calling to him two of his disciples sent them to Jesus, saying, Are you he that should come? or look we for another?
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Two of his disciples.—According to some MSS. of St. Matthew, which give simply, sent through His disciples, St. Luke’s account is the only one that gives the number of the disciples sent.
Sent them to Jesus.—Some of the best MSS. give, “to the Lord.” (See Note on Luke 7:13.)Luke 7:19-28. And John, calling unto him two of his disciples, sent them to Jesus, &c. — See this whole paragraph explained in the notes on Matthew 11:2-11. To the poor the gospel is preached — Which is the greatest mercy and the greatest miracle of all.Matthew 11:2-19.
(See on Mt 11:2-14.)See Poole on "Luke 7:18"
Sent them unto Jesus, saying, art thou he that should come, or look we for another? not that he doubted that Jesus was the Messiah; nor was it for his own satisfaction so much that he sent these disciples of his with this question, but for theirs; and to remove all doubt and hesitation from them about Christ.And John calling unto him two of his disciples sent them to Jesus, saying, Art thou he that should come? or look we for another?
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)Luke 7:19. δύο, two; more explicit than Mt., who has διὰ τ. μαθητῶν. The δύο may be an editorial change made on the document, from which both drew.—πρὸς τὸν κύριον (Ἰησοῦν T. R.): a second instance of the use of the title “Lord” in Lk.’s narrative.—σὺ εἶ, etc.: question as in Mk., with the doubtful variation, ἄλλον for ἕτερον.18-35. The Message from the Baptist.
19. John calling unto him two of his disciples] The Baptist was now in prison (Matthew 11:2-6), but was not precluded from intercourse with his friends.
to Jesus] The reading of B and some other Uncials is “to the Lord.”
Art thou he that should come? or look we for another?] Rather, Art thou the coming [Messiah], or are we to expect another? “The Coming (One)” is a technical Hebrew term for the Messiah (Habba). This brief remarkable message is identical with that in St Matthew, except that St Luke uses allon (‘another’) and St Matthew heteron (‘a second,’ or
‘different one’). Probably however there is no significance in this variation, since the accurate classical meaning of heteros was partly obliterated. Probably too the messengers spoke in Aramaic. “The coming” is clearer in St Matthew, because he has just told us that John heard in prison the works of “the Christ” i.e. of the Messiah. Those who are shocked with the notion that the faith of the Baptist should even for a moment have wavered, suppose that (1) St John merely meant to suggest that surely the time had now come for the Messiah to reveal himself as the Messiah, and that his question was one rather of ‘increasing impatience’ than of ‘secret unbelief;’ or (2) that the message was sent solely to reassure John’s own disciples; or (3) that, as St Matthew here uses the phrase “the works of the Messiah” and not “of Jesus,” the Baptist only meant to ask ‘Art thou the same person as the Jesus to whom I bore testimony?’ These suppositions are excluded, not only by the tenor of the narrative but directly by Luke 7:23; (Matthew 11:6). Scripture never presents the saints as ideally faultless, and therefore with holy truthfulness never conceals any sign of their imperfection or weakness. Nothing is more natural than that the Great Baptist—to whom had been granted but a partial revelation—should have felt deep anguish at the calm and noiseless advance of a Kingdom for which, in his theocratic and Messianic hopes, he had imagined a very different proclamation. Doubtless too his faith like that of Elijah (1 Kings 19:4), of Job in his trials (Job 3:1), and of Jeremiah in prison (Jeremiah 20:7), might be for a moment drowned by the tragic briefness, and disastrous eclipse of his own career; and he might hope to alleviate by this message the anguish which he felt when he contrasted the joyous brightness of our Lord’s Galilean ministry with the unalleviated gloom of his own fortress-prison among the black rocks at Makor. ‘If Jesus be indeed the promised Messiah,’ he may have thought, ‘why am I, His Forerunner, suffered to languish undelivered,—the victim of a wicked tyrant?’ The Baptist was but one of those many glorious saints whose careers God, in His mysterious Providence, has suffered to end in disaster and eclipse that He may shew us how small is the importance which we must attach to the judgment of men, or the rewards of earth. “We fools accounted his life madness, and his end to be without honour: how is he numbered among the children of God, and his lot is among the saints!” Wis 5:20. We may be quite sure that “in the fiery furnace God walked with His servant so that his spirit was not harmed, and having thus annealed his nature to the utmost that this earth can do, He took him hastily away and placed him among the glorified in Heaven.” Irving.Luke 7:19. Προσκαλεσάμενος, having called to him) John had not disciples so frequently with him as the Saviour had.Verse 19. - And John calling unto him two of his disciples, sent them to Jesus, saying, Art thou he that should come? or look we for another? What, now, was in John the Baptist's mind, when from his prison he sent his disciples to ask Jesus this anxious question? Disappointed in the career of Jesus, possibly himself partly forgotten, accustomed to the wild freedom of a desert-life, suffering from the hopeless imprisonment, - had his faith begun to waver? or was the question put with a view of reassuring his own disciples, with the intention of giving these faithful followers of his an opportunity of convincing themselves of the power and real glory of Jesus? In other words, was it for his own sake or for his disciples sakes that he sent to ask the question? Generally speaking, the second of these two conclusions - that which ascribed the question to a desire on the part of John to help his disciples (which we will call B) - was adopted by the expositors of the early Church. A good example of this school of interpretation is the following quotation from St. Jerome: "John does not put this question from ignorance, for he himself had proclaimed Christ to be 'the Lamb of God.' But as our Lord asked concerning the body of Lazarus, 'Where have ye laid him?' (John 11:34), in order that they who answered the question might, by their own answer, be led to faith, so John, now about to be slain by Herod, sends his disciples to Jesus, in order that, by this occasion, they who were jealous of the fame of Jesus (Luke 9:14; John 3:26) might see his mighty works and believe in him, and that, while their master asked the question by them, they might hear the truth for themselves" (St. Jerome, quoted by Wordsworth). To the same effect wrote SS. Ambrose, Hilary, Chrysostom, Theophylact. Among the Reformers, Calvin, Beza, and Melancthon contended for this opinion respecting the Baptist's message to Christ, and in our days Stier and Bishop Wordsworth. On the other hand, Tertullian among the Fathers, and nearly all the modern expositors, believe that the question of John was prompted by his own wavering faith - a faltering no doubt shared in by his own disciples. This conclusion (which we will term A) is adopted, with slightly varying modifications, by Meyer, Ewald, Neander, Godet, Plumptre, Farrar, and Morrison. This way - (A) generally adopted by the modern school of expositors - of understanding the Baptist's question to Jesus, is evidently the conclusion which would suggest itself to all minds who went to the story without any preconceived desire to purge the character of a great saint from what they imagine to be a blot; and we shall presently see that our Lord, in his answer to the question, where a rebuke is exquisitely veiled in a beatitude, evidently understood the forerunner's question in this sense. It is thus ever the practice of Holy Scripture; while it tenderly and lovingly handles the characters of its heroes, it never flinches from the truth. We see God's noblest saints, such as Moses and Elijah (John's own prototype) in the Old Testament, Peter and Paul in the New Testament, depicted in this book of truth with all their faults; nothing is hid. Only one flawless character appears in its storied pages - it is only the Master of Peter and Paul who never turns aside from the path of right.
Lit., two certain ones. Rev., in margin, certain two.
The thou is emphatic. See on Matthew 11:3.
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