Luke 7:32
They are like unto children sitting in the marketplace, and calling one to another, and saying, We have piped unto you, and ye have not danced; we have mourned to you, and ye have not wept.
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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.See this passage explained in the notes at Matthew 11:16-19. "And the Lord said." This clause is wanting in almost all the manuscripts, and is omitted by the best critics. 31-35. the Lord said, &c.—As cross, capricious children, invited by their playmates to join them in their amusements, will play with them neither at weddings nor funerals (juvenile imitations of the joyous and mournful scenes of life), so that generation rejected both John and his Master: the one because he was too unsocial—more like a demoniac than a rational man; the other, because He was too much the reverse, given to animal indulgences, and consorting with the lowest classes of society. But the children of Wisdom recognize and honor her, whether in the austere garb of the Baptist or in the more attractive style of his Master, whether in the Law or in the Gospel, whether in rags or in royalty, for "the full soul loatheth an honeycomb, but to the hungry soul every bitter thing is sweet" (Pr 27:7). See Poole on "Luke 7:31"

They are like to children,.... The Pharisees and lawyers, who rejected the counsel of God, and the baptism of John, were like to "children"; not for innocence, simplicity, meekness, and humility; their characters were the reverse; but rather, for their ignorance, and want of understanding, their folly and weakness; nor are they here compared to the children that piped and mourned, but to those surly and ill natured ones, who made no answer to those that did. They, together with Christ, and John the Baptist, are in general likened to children,

sitting in the market place; where children were wont to be, there being a variety of persons and things to be seen; and which may design the temple, or the synagogues, or any place of concourse, where the Pharisees met, with John, Christ, and their disciples:

and calling one to another, and saying; they that were good natured, and more disposed to mirth and innocent diversions:

we have piped unto you, and ye have not danced; we have mourned to you, and ye have not wept: they imitated the pipers at weddings, expecting their companions would have danced, as was usually done by the others, when the pipe was played upon; and they mimicked the mourning women at funerals, expecting their fellows would have made as though they had wept; whereas they would do neither, showing a dislike both to the one and to the other. The children that imitated the pipers, represent Christ and his disciples, who delivered the joyful sound of the Gospel; and the children that acted the part of the mourners, signify John the Baptist, and his disciples, who preached the doctrine of repentance; and the children that would not join with, nor make any answer to the one, or the other, intend the Scribes and Pharisees, who were not pleased with either of them, as the following words show; See Gill on Matthew 11:16. See Gill on Matthew 11:17.

They are like unto children sitting in the marketplace, and calling one to another, and saying, We have piped unto you, and ye have not danced; we have mourned to you, and ye have not wept.
Luke 7:32. ὅμοιοί εἰσιν: referring to ἀνθρώπους, ὁμοία in Mt. referring to γενεὰν. The variations in Lk.’s version from Mt.’s are slight: both seem to be keeping close to a common source—ἀλλήλοις for ἑτέροις, ἐκλαύσατε for ἐκόψασθε; in Luke 7:33 ἄρτον is inserted after ἐσθίων and οἶνον after πίνων; following a late tradition, think Meyer and Schanz. More probably they are explanatory editorial touches by Lk., as if to say: John did eat and drink, but not bread and wine.—For ἦλθεν Lk. substitutes in Luke 7:33-34 ἐλήλυθεν = is come. Thus the two prophets have taken their place once for all in the page of history: the one as an ascetic, the other as avoiding peculiarity—influencing men not by the method of isolation but by the method of sympathy. The malignant caricature of this genial character in Luke 7:34—glutton, drunkard, comrade of publicans and sinners—originated doubtless in the Capernaum mission.

32. They are like unto children sitting in the marketplace] Our Lord constantly drew His deepest instruction from the commonest phenomena of nature, and the everyday incidents of life. Such a method gave far greater force to the delivery of His Gospel “to the poor,” and it was wholly unlike the arid, scholastic, technical, and second-hand methods of the Rabbis.

calling one to another, and saying] This interesting comparison was doubtless drawn from the games which Jesus had witnessed, and in which perhaps He as a child had taken part, in Nazareth. Eastern children are fond of playing in groups at games of a very simple kind in the open air. Some have supposed that the game here alluded to was a sort of guessing game like that sometimes played by English children, and called ‘Dumb Show.’ This is not very probable. The point of the comparison is the peevish sullenness of the group of children who refuse to take part in, or approve of, any game played by their fellows, whether it be the merry acting of a marriage, or the imitated sadness of a funeral. So the men of that generation condemned the Baptist for his asceticism which they attributed to demoniacal possession; and condemned Christ for His genial tenderness by calling Him a man fond of good living. The difficulties and differences of explanation found in this simple parable are only due to a needless literalness. If indeed we take the language quite literally,

‘this generation’ is compared with the dancing and mourning children who complain of the sullenness of their fellows; and if this be insisted on, the meaning must be that the Jews complained of John for holding aloof from their mirth, and of Jesus for discountenancing their austerities. But it is the children who are looking on who are blamed, not the playing children, as is clearly shewn by the “and ye say” of Luke 7:33-34. In the explanation here preferred our Lord and the Baptist are included in this generation, and the comparison (just as in the Homeric similes) is taken as a whole to illustrate the mutual relations between them and their contemporaries. So in Matthew 13:24, “The kingdom of heaven is like unto a sower, &c.,” where the comparison is more to the reception of the seed.

Luke 7:32Children (παιδίοις)

Diminutive; little children. See on Matthew 11:16.


See on Matthew 11:16.

We piped

Playing at wedding.

Mourned (ἐθρηνήσαμεν)

Rev., much better, wailed: playing at funeral.

Weep (ἐκλαύσατε)

Of audible weeping. See on Matthew 5:4. Matthew has ἐκόψασθε, beaten your breasts. See on Matthew 11:17.

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