Luke 7:29
And all the people that heard him, and the publicans, justified God, being baptized with the baptism of John.
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(29) And all the people that heard him . . .—Here the reports begin to vary, St. Luke omitting what we find in St. Matthew as to “the kingdom of heaven suffering violence;” and St. Luke interposing a statement, probably intended for his Gentile readers, as to the effect produced by the preaching of the Baptist on the two classes who stood at opposite extremes of the social and religious life of Judæa.

Justified God.—Better, perhaps, acknowledged God as righteous. The word is commonly applied in this sense to man rather than to God; but it appears so used in the quotation in Romans 3:4 from the LXX. version of Psalm 51:4. Here it has a special significance in connection with the statement that follows in Luke 7:35, that “wisdom is justified of all her children.”

Luke 7:29-35. And all the people — That were present, and the publicans in particular, when they heard this discourse, having been formerly baptized with the baptism of John, justified God — Owned his wisdom and mercy, in having called them to repentance by John’s ministry, and prepared them for him that was to come. But the Pharisees and lawyers — The good, learned, honourable men; rejected the counsel of God against themselves — That is, to their own prejudice. They made void God’s gracious and merciful design, with regard to themselves; or disappointed all the methods of his love, and would receive no benefit from them. By calling the gospel the counsel of God, the grandest idea of it possible is given. It is nothing less than the result of the deep consideration and deliberation of God; for which reason the crime of men’s rejecting it is very atrocious. Now, to show these Pharisees and lawyers the perverseness of their disposition, in resisting the evidence of John’s mission, and the gracious design of God in calling them to repentance by his ministry, he told them they were like children at play, who never do what their companions desire them, but are so froward and perverse that no contrivance can be found to please them. It is plain, our Lord means that they were like the children complained of, not like those that made the complaint. Whereunto shall I liken, &c. — See this passage elucidated in the note on Matthew 11:16-19. We have piped unto you, and ye have not danced, &c. — The application of this proverb to the Pharisees our Lord justified by observing, that the Divine Wisdom had tried every method proper for converting them, but in vain. For, first of all, the Baptist was sent unto them in the stern dignity of their ancient prophets, so that it was natural to think they would have reverenced him; nevertheless, they rejected him altogether. John came neither eating bread, as others do, nor drinking wine — But living on locusts, and honey, and water, in the wilderness; and ye say, He hath a devil — He acts like a wild, distracted demoniac, whom an evil spirit drives from the society of men. Such, it seems, was the pride and malice of the Pharisees, that, when they found their own ostentatious and hypocritical mortifications utterly eclipsed by the real austerities of this holy man’s life, they impudently affirmed that his living in deserts, his shunning the company of men, the coarseness of his clothing, the abstemiousness of his diet, with other severities which he practised, were all the effects of madness, or religious melancholy. The Son of man came eating and drinking — The severity of John’s ministry proving unsuccessful, with respect to the conversion of the scribes and Pharisees, God sent his own Son to address and conduct himself toward them in a more free and familiar manner: but neither was this method successful in bringing them to repentance and newness of life. They said, Behold a gluttonous man, &c. — Ungratefully injuring his character for that humanity and condescension, which they should rather have applauded. But Wisdom is justified in all her children — The children of wisdom are those who are truly wise, wise unto salvation, and who prove themselves to be so by a sincere and ardent love of truth and goodness, of wisdom, piety, and virtue; and the wisdom of God in all these dispensations, these various ways of calling sinners to repentance, and in all the methods of his divine providence, however offensive they may be to wicked men, are readily owned and heartily approved of by all these, See on Matthew 11:19.7:19-35 To his miracles in the kingdom of nature, Christ adds this in the kingdom of grace, To the poor the gospel is preached. It clearly pointed out the spiritual nature of Christ's kingdom, that the messenger he sent before him to prepare his way, did it by preaching repentance and reformation of heart and life. We have here the just blame of those who were not wrought upon by the ministry of John Baptist or of Jesus Christ himself. They made a jest of the methods God took to do them good. This is the ruin of multitudes; they are not serious in the concerns of their souls. Let us study to prove ourselves children of Wisdom, by attending the instructions of God's word, and adoring those mysteries and glad tidings which infidels and Pharisees deride and blaspheme.The people - The common people.

That heard him - That heard "John."

The publicans - The tax-gatherers, the worst kind of people, who had, however, been converted.

Justified God - Considered God as "just" or "right" in the counsel which he gave by John - to wit, in calling people to repentance, and in denouncing future wrath on the impenitent. Compare Matthew 11:19.

Being baptized ... - They "showed" that they approved of the message of God by submitting to the ordinance which he commanded - the ordinance of baptism. This verse and the following are not to be considered as the words of "Luke," but the continuation of the discourse of our Lord. He is saying what took place in regard to John. Among the common people he was approved and obeyed among the rich and learned he was despised.

29, 30. And all the people that heard—"on hearing (this)." These are the observations of the Evangelist, not of our Lord.

and the publicans—a striking clause.

justified God, being baptized, &c.—rather, "having been baptized." The meaning is, They acknowledged the divine wisdom of such a preparatory ministry as John's, in leading them to Him who now spake to them (see Lu 1:16, 17); whereas the Pharisees and lawyers, true to themselves in refusing the baptism of John, set at naught also the merciful design of God in the Saviour Himself, to their own destruction.

Ver. 29,30. Matthew hath not this addition to our Saviour’s commendation of John, but it is of great use to introduce our Saviour’s following discourse. The evangelist here divideth the hearers into two sorts.

The first were the common people and the publicans; the former were despised by the Jewish doctors and rabbis, as a rude, illiterate sort of people; the latter, as a notoriously wicked sort.

The second sort were the Pharisees and the lawyers; of the former, he saith, that they,

being baptized with the baptism of John, justified God, that is, they owned, and publicly declared, and predicated the goodness and justice of God; they approved of what God had done, and blessed his name for sending amongst them such a prophet as John was, they owned and received him, and were baptized by him. Whoso believeth the message which God sendeth, and obeyeth it, he justifieth God; he that doth not, accuses and condemneth God: see John 3:33 1Jo 5:10.

But the Pharisees and lawyers, that is, the scribes; not the scribes of the people, (they were but actuaries, or public notaries), but the scribes of the law, whose office it was to interpret and give the sense of the law.

These rejected; — the word sometimes signifies to despise, Luke 10:16 1 Thessalonians 4:8 Hebrews 10:28; sometimes to disannul, as Galatians 3:15; sometimes to reject, as Mark 6:26 7:9. It is here interpreted by those words, being not baptized of him. We must understand the sense of hyethsan by considering what is here meant by boulhn tou Yeou, the counsel of God, which some will understand concerning the purpose of God within himself; others, concerning his revealed will, his counsel as revealed to us. The matter seemeth to me but a strife about a word, which is sometimes taken in one sense, sometimes in another. The will of God is but one, only as every one of us keep some part of our mind to ourselves, and reveal other parts of it to our servants and children; so God, who hath determined and willed all events, concealeth some part of it from his creatures, and revealeth another part of it to them. It is the will of God that this, and that, and the other person should believe and be saved. He revealeth as to this thus much of his will, that whose believers shall be saved; but for that other part of his will, that this, and that, or the other man shall believe, this he concealeth, till he gives them a power to believe, and to receive the gospel, and then his will in this particular is revealed. Supposing then we here understand by boulhn tou yeou, God’s secret purpose to be understood, how is it proved that it must be understood of his secret purpose for their salvation? Why should it not be understood of the secret purpose and counsel of God to give them the means of life and salvation? God from all eternity purposed to give the Jews the ministry of John the Baptist and Christ, as means for their salvation, not which should be certainly effective of it, but that should have such a tendency towards it as without their own refusing, and opposing them, it should have been effective, and was in their own nature a proper means in order to it: they reject and refuse it; by this they rejected the counsel of God, the effect of his counsel, and so judged themselves unworthy of eternal life, by neglecting, despising, and rejecting the use of that means, which was the product of an eternal purpose to send them such means.

This counsel of God is said to be rejected towards or against themselves: take it as God’s act, it was towards themselves, that is, for their good; if we refer it to their act of rejection, or refusal, it was against themselves, a judging of themselves unworthy of eternal life. We cannot in this place translate it disannul, or frustrate, as Galatians 3:15, understanding it as to the Divine act; for who can frustrate or disannul the will or purpose of man, as to an act of his own, within his power to purpose? Though indeed as to the event it may be disannulled, as to any good effect as to another, if it be made to depend upon the action of another.

Besides, what need any further explication of this phrase, of rejecting the counsel of God against themselves, than what followeth, being not baptized of him, that is, not receiving John’s doctrine of repentance for the remission of sins, and bringing forth fruits worthy of amendment of life, nor submitting to baptism as a testimony of such repentance; for the baptism of John in Scripture signifieth his whole administration, the doctrine he preached, as well as the ordinance of baptism by him administered; and so must be interpreted where our Saviour asked the Pharisees whether John’s baptism was from earth or from heaven, and they durst not say from heaven, lest Christ should have asked them, why then they believed him not? They were not baptized of him, is the same thing with, They would be none of his disciples. And all the people that heard him,.... Either Christ saying these things in commendation of John, and gave their assent to them, and showed their approbation of them, having been baptized by him; or rather, the people that had heard John preach the doctrines of repentance and faith, and of baptism; for these words seem rather to be the words of Christ, relating the success of John's ministry among different persons:

and the publicans justified God; even those wicked men, who were before profligate and abandoned sinners, when they came under John's ministry, were so wrought upon by the power and grace of God through it, that they approved of, and applauded the wisdom, goodness, and grace of God, in sending such a prophet as John; in qualifying him in the manner he did, and giving in him a commission to preach such doctrines, and administer such an ordinance as he did: and this their approbation of the divine conduct, and their thankfulness for the same, they testified by their

being baptized with the baptism of John; they expressed their sentiments by their obedience; they declared it was right in God to institute such an ordinance, and for John to administer it; and that it became them to submit to it, as a part of righteousness to be fulfilled; they hereby signified, that they thought that it was agreeable to the nature of God, who is holy, just, and good, suitable to the Gospel dispensation, and very fit and proper for them.

And all the people that heard him, and the publicans, {c} justified God, being baptized with the baptism of John.

(c) Said that he was just, good, faithful and merciful.

Luke 7:29-30 are best taken as a historical reflection by the evangelist. Its prosaic character, as compared with what goes before and comes after, compels this conclusion, as even Hahn admits. Then its absence from Mt.’s account points in the same direction. It has for its aim to indicate to what extent the popular judgment had endorsed the estimate just offered by Jesus. The whole people, even the publicans, had, by submitting to be baptised by John, acknowledged his legitimacy and power as a prophet of God, and so “justified” (ἐδικαίωσαν) God in sending him as the herald of the coming Messianic Kingdom and King, i.e., recognised him as the fit man for so high a vocation. To be strictly correct he is obliged, contrary to his wont, to refer to the Pharisees and lawyers as exceptions, describing them as making void, frustrating (ἠθέτησαν, cf. Galatians 2:21) the counsel of God with reference to themselves. The two words ἐδικ. and ἠθέτ. are antithetic, and help to define each other. The latter meaning to treat with contempt and so set aside, the former must mean to approve God’s counsel or ordinance in the mission of the Baptist. Kypke renders: laudarunt Deum, citing numerous instances of this sense from the Psalt. Solom.εἰς ἑαυτοὺς after ἠθέτησαν has been variously rendered = “against themselves” (A. V[76]) and = “for themselves,” i.e., in so far as they were concerned (R. V[77]; “quantum ab eis pendebat,” Bornemann). But the latter would require τὸ εἰς ἑαυτούς. The meaning is plain enough. God’s counsel very specially concerned the Pharisees and lawyers, for none in Israel more needed to repent than they. Therefore the phrase = they frustrated God’s counsel (in John’s mission), which was for (concerned) the whole Jewish people, and its religious leaders very particularly.

[76] Authorised Version.

[77] Revised Version.29. justified God] i.e. they bore witness that God was just; see Luke 7:35, comp. Psalm 51:4, “that Thou mightest be justified when Thou speakest, and be clear when Thou art judged,” and Romans 3:26. St Luke has already made prominent mention of the publicans at the baptism of John 3:12.Luke 7:29. Καὶ πᾶς, and all) Luke sets forth what the people did, and what on the other hand the Pharisees did, in order that he may show, why Jesus spake at the one time those things which are joined together by both verses.[73] A similar division of the sentence is to be seen, Matthew 9:6.[74]—ἈΚΟΎΣΑς, having heard) John.—καὶ) and [that is] especially the publicans, whom others had most despaired of as irreclaimable.—ἐδικαίωσαν, justified) They approved and submitted to the ordinance of God, the baptism of repentance, as being just. The same verb occurs presently, Luke 7:35.

[73] i.e. The things spoken Luke 7:24-28, which refer to the multitude (τοὺς ὄχλους; in Luke 7:24, answering to ὁ λαὸς, Luke 7:29), are joined with those spoken Luke 7:31-35, in reference to the Pharisees and lawyers (Luke 7:30), by the pair of verses, 29, 30, introduced parenthetically by way of explanation.—ED. and TRANSL.

[74] Where similarly the writer introduces, parenthetically, a necessary remark of his own between the former and latter parts of Christ’s words.—ED. and TRANSL.Verse 29. - And all the people that heard him, and the publicans, justified God. This is not, as many expositors have assumed, a statement of St. Luke's own as to the effect of John's preaching on varied classes of his hearers, but the words are still the words of Jesus; it is a continuation of his eulogy of the Baptist. He says here that the people, "the folk," listened gladly to him; they were persuaded in great numbers of the necessity of a changed life, and were in consequence baptized by him. The meaning of the term, "justified God," is that these, the common folk, by their actions and ready acceptance of the great reformer-preacher, thus publicly declared that they acknowledged the wisdom and goodness of God in this his work through the Baptist; but, as is stated in the next verse - Justified God

Declaring, by being baptized, that God's will concerning John's baptism was right.

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