Luke 9:18
And it came to pass, as he was alone praying, his disciples were with him: and he asked them, saying, Whom say the people that I am?
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(18) And it came to pass . . .—St. Luke, it will be noted, omits the narrative of our Lord’s walking on the water, of the feeding of the Four Thousand, of the Syro-Phœnician woman, and of the teaching as to the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees. We cannot get beyond a conjectural explanation of these phenomena, but it is possible that, as a matter of fact, he simply did not learn these facts in the course of his inquiries, and therefore did not insert them. As far as it goes, the fact suggests the inference that he had not seen the Gospels of St. Matthew and St. Mark in the form in which we now have them. On the narrative that follows (Luke 9:18-27), see Notes on Matthew 16:13-28; Mark 8:27; Mark 9:1.

As he was alone praying.—There is, as before (see Introduction, and Notes on Luke 3:21; Luke 5:16; Luke 6:12), something characteristic in the stress which St. Luke lays on the fact. It is as though he saw in what follows the result of the previous prayer.

Luke

CHRIST’S CROSS AND OURS

Luke 9:18 - Luke 9:27
.

This passage falls into three distinct but closely connected parts: the disciples’ confession of Christ by Peters mouth, the revelation to them of Christ’s sufferings as necessarily involved in His Messiahship, and His extension to them of the law of suffering as necessarily involved in discipleship. Luke dwells much more lightly than Matthew on the first of these stages, omitting the eulogium and benediction on Simon Bar-Jona, and the great words about the rock on which the Church is built, but he retains the essentials, and emphasises the connection of the three parts by his very brevity in regard to the first.

I. Luke has special interest in recording Christ’s prayers, and though he does not tell us where the great confession was made, he tells what Jesus did before it was made.

We may well suppose that His solitary thoughts had been busied with the sufferings on which He was soon to enter, and that His resolve to impart the knowledge of these to His followers was felt by Him to be a sharp trial of their loyalty. The moment was a fateful one. How should fateful moments be prepared for but by communion with the Father? No doubt the feebleness of the disciples was remembered in His petitions.

Jesus’ double question was intended, first, to make the disciples feel the gulf which separated them from the rest of the nation, and so to make them hold the faster by their unshared faith, and be ready to suffer for it, if needful, as probably it would be. It braces true men to know that they are but a little company in the midst of multitudes who laugh at their belief. That Jesus should have seen that it was safe to accentuate the disciples’ isolation indicates the reality which He discerned in their faith, imperfect as it was.

‘Whom say ye that I am?’ Jesus brings them to articulate utterance of the thought that had been slowly gathering distinctness in their minds. We see our beliefs more clearly, and hold them more firmly, when we put them into definite words. The question acted like a chemical element dropped into a solution, which precipitates its solid matter. Nebulous opinions are gathered up into spheres of light by the process of speaking them. That question is all-important for us. Our conceptions of Christ’s nature and office determine our relation to Him and our whole cast of life. True, we may say that He is Lord, and not be His disciples, but we are not His disciples as He would have us unless His Messiahship stands out clear and axiomatic in our thoughts of Him. The conviction must pass into feeling, and thence into life, but it must underlie all real discipleship. Doctrine is not Christianity, but it is the foundation of Christianity. The Apostolic confession here is the ‘irreducible minimum’ of the Christian creed.

It does not contain more than Nathanael had said at the beginning, but here it is spoken, not as Peter’s private belief, but he is the mouthpiece of all. ‘Whether it were I or they, so we’ believe. This confession summed up the previous development of the disciples, and so marked the end of one stage and the beginning of another. Christ would have them, as it were, take stock of their convictions, as preliminary to opening a new chapter of teaching.

II. That new chapter follows at once.

The belief in Him as Messiah is the first story of the building, and the second is next piled on it. The new lesson was a hard one for men whose hopes were coloured by Jewish dreams of a kingdom. They had to see all these vulgar visions melting away, and to face a stern, sad reality. The very fact that He was the Messiah necessarily drew after it the fact of suffering. Whence did the ‘must’ arise? From the divine purpose, from the necessities of the case, and the aim of His mission. These had shaped prophetic utterances, and hence there was yet another form of the ‘must,’ namely, the necessity for the Messiah’s fulfilling these predictions.

No doubt our Lord led His saddened listeners to many a prophetic saying which current expositions had smoothed over, but which had for many years set before Him His destiny. What a scene that would be-the victim calmly pointing to the tragic words which flashed ominous new meanings to the silent hearers, stricken with awe and grief as the terrible truth entered their minds! What had become of their dreams? Gone, and in their place shame and death. They had fancied a throne; the vision melted into a cross.

We note the minute particularity of Jesus’ delineation, and the absolute certainty in His plain declaration of the fact and time of the Resurrection. It is not wonderful that that declaration should have produced little effect. The disciples were too much absorbed and confounded by the dismal thought of His death to have ears for the assurance of His Resurrection. Comfort coming at the end of the announcement of calamities so great finds no entrance into, nor room in, the heart. We all let a black foreground hide from us a brighter distance.

III. The Master’s feet mark the disciples’ path.

If suffering was involved in Messiahship, it is no less involved in discipleship. The cross which is our hope is also our pattern. In a very real sense we have to be partakers of the sufferings of Christ, and no faith in these as substitutionary is vital unless it leads to being conformed to His death. The solemn verses at the close of this lesson draw out the law of Christian self-denial as being inseparable from true discipleship.

Luke 9:23 lays down the condition of following Jesus as being the daily bearing, by each, of his own cross. Mark that self-denial is not prescribed for its own sake, but simply as the means of ‘following.’ False asceticism insists on it, as if it were an end; Christ treats it as a means. Mark, too, that it is ‘self’ which is to be denied-not this or that part of our nature, but the central ‘self.’ The will is the man, and it is to be brought into captivity to Jesus, so that the true Christian says, ‘I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me.’ That is much deeper, harder, wholesomer teaching than separate austerities or forsakings of this or that.

Luke 9:24 grounds this great requirement on the broad principle that to make self the main object of life is the sure way to ruin oneself, and that to slay self is the road to true life. Note that it is he who ‘would save’ his life that loses it, because the desire is itself fatal, whether carried out or not; while it is he who does ‘lose’ his life for Christ that preserves it, because even if the extreme evil has been suffered, the possession of our true lives is not imperilled thereby. No doubt the words refer primarily to literal death, and threaten the cowards who sacrifice their convictions for the sake of keeping a whole skin with the failure of their efforts, while they promise the martyr dying in the arena or at the stake a crown of life. But they go far beyond that. They carry the great truth that to hug self and to make its preservation our first aim is ruinous, and the corresponding one, that to slay self for Christ’s sake is to receive a better self. Self-preservation is suicide; self-immolation is not only self-preservation, but self-glorification with glory caught from Jesus. Give yourselves to Him, and He gives you back to yourselves, ennobled and transfigured.

Luke 9:25 urges obedience to the precept, by an appeal to reasonable self-regard and common-sense. The abnegation enjoined does not require that we should be indifferent to our own well-being. It is right to consider what will ‘profit,’ and to act accordingly. The commercial view of life, if rightly taken, with regard to all a man’s nature through all the duration of it, will coincide accurately with the most exalted. It ‘pays’ to follow Christ. Christian morality has not the hypersensitive fear of appealing to self-interest which superfine moralists profess nowadays. And the question in verse 25 admits of only one answer, for what good is the whole world to a dead man? If our accounts are rightly kept, a world gained shows poorly on the one side, against the entry on the other of a soul lost.

Luke 9:26 tells in what that losing oneself consists, and enforces the original exhortation by the declaration of a future appearance of the Son of man. He of whom Christ is then ashamed loses his own soul. To live without His smile is to die, to be disowned by Him is to be a wreck. To be ashamed of Jesus is equivalent to that base self-preservation which has been denounced as fatal. If a man disavows all connection with Him, He will disavow all connection with the disavower. A man separated from Jesus is dead while he lives, and hereafter will live a living death, and possess neither the world for which he sacrificed his own soul nor the soul for which he sacrificed it.

We cannot but note the authoritative tone of our Lord in these verses. He claims the obedience and discipleship of all men. He demands that all shall yield themselves unreservedly to Him, and that, even if actual surrender of life is involved, it shall be gladly given. He puts our relation to Him as determining our whole present and future. He assumes to be our Judge, whose smile is life, whose averted face darkens the destiny of a man. Whom say ye that He who dared to speak thus conceived Himself to be? Whom say ye that He is?

Luke 9:27 recalls us from the contemplation of that far-off appearance to something nearer. Remembering the previous announcement of our Lord’s sufferings, these words seem intended to cheer the disciples with the hope that the kingdom would still be revealed within the lifetime of some then present. Remembering the immediately preceding words, this saying seems to assure the disciples that the blessed recompense of the life of self-crucifying discipleship is not to be postponed to that future, but may be enjoyed on earth. Remembering Christ’s word, ‘Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God,’ we doubt whether there is any reference here to the destruction of Jerusalem, as is commonly understood. Are not the words rather a declaration that they who are Christ’s true disciples shall even here enter into the possession of their true selves, and find the Messianic hopes more than fulfilled? The future indicated will then be no more remote than the completion of His work by His death and Resurrection, or, at the farthest, the descent of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, by which the fuller life of renewed natures was bestowed on those who were following Jesus in daily self-surrender.Luke 9:18-22. As he was alone praying — Or rather apart from the multitude, for the word καταμονας, here rendered alone, excludes not his disciples, but the multitude, now sent away when they were filled, as appears from Mark 4:10, where the same word is used; and where we read, when he was alone, (καταμονας, apart from the multitude,) they that were about him, with the twelve, asked him of the parable, Or the expression here, καταμονας προσευχομενος, may be rendered, as he was praying alone, or by himself; his prayer being ended, his disciples came to him. He asked them — When he had done praying, during which they probably stayed at a distance, Who say the people that I am, &c. — See this paragraph explained on Matthew 16:13-23; and Mark 8:27-33. He commanded them to tell no man, saying, The Son of man must suffer, &c. — As if he had said, Ye must prepare for a scene far different from this.9:18-27 It is an unspeakable comfort that our Lord Jesus is God's Anointed; this signifies that he was both appointed to be the Messiah, and qualified for it. Jesus discourses concerning his own sufferings and death. And so far must his disciples be from thinking how to prevent his sufferings, that they must prepare for their own. We often meet with crosses in the way of duty; and though we must not pull them upon our own heads, yet, when they are laid for us, we must take them up, and carry them after Christ. It is well or ill with us, according as it is well or ill with our souls. The body cannot be happy, if the soul be miserable in the other world; but the soul may be happy, though the body is greatly afflicted and oppressed in this world. We must never be ashamed of Christ and his gospel.See the Matthew 16:13-27 notes; Mark 8:27-38 notes.Lu 9:18-27. Peter's Confession of Christ—Our Lord's First Explicit Announcement of His Approaching Death, and Warnings Arising Out of It.

(See on [1609]Mt 16:13-28; and Mr 8:34).

Ver. 18-22. Matthew and Mark tell us this discourse passed at Caesarea Philippi (or at least one of the same import). Matthew also gives us an account of it with more circumstances. See Poole on "Matthew 16:13", and following verses to Matthew 16:23.

As he was alone praying; that is, free from the multitude, for the next words tell us, the

disciples were with him. {Luke 9:22} is not to be found in the other evangelists; and if Luke hath reported these words in the right order of time, they afford us a probable reason of what is said Luke 9:21, why Christ would not yet be published as the Christ, or the Son of God. Because he was to suffer, and it might much have shaken people’s faith, as to that point, if they had seen the person whom they believed such suffering, and to be so despitefully used as he was; he therefore desired to be concealed as to that, until he should be declared the Son of God with power, by his resurrection from the dead. And it came to pass, as he was alone praying,.... To his God and Father, for himself as man, and mediator; for the success of his Gospel, and the increase of his interest; and for his disciples, that they might have a clearer revelation of him; and which they had, as appears in their after confession of him by Peter, as the mouth of them all. The place where he now retired for private devotion, was somewhere in the coasts of Caesarea Philippi; for he was now gone from the desert of Bethsaida, as appears from Matthew 16:13 and when he is said to be alone, the meaning is, that he was retired from the multitude, but not from his disciples; for it follows,

his disciples were with him, in this solitary place:

and he asked them, being with them alone;

saying, Whom say the people that I am? what are the sentiments of the common people, or of the people in general concerning me? The Alexandrian copy, and the Arabic version read, "men", as in Matthew 16:13. See Gill on Matthew 16:13.

{4} And it came to pass, as he was {f} alone praying, his disciples were with him: and he asked them, saying, Whom say the people that I am?

(4) Although the world be tossed up and down between different errors, yet we ought not to condemn the truth but be all the more desirous to know it, and be more steadfast to confess it.

(f) Alone from the people.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Luke 9:18-20. See on Matthew 16:13-16; Mark 8:27-29. As to the second miraculous feeding Luke is silent; a silence which Schleiermacher and many others, even Weizsäcker, make use of in opposition to the reality of the second miracle (see in general on Matthew 15:33). But this silence is related to the enigmatical hiatus which Luke has left between Luke 9:17-18, entirely passing over everything that occurs in Mark 6:45 to Mark 8:27, and in the parallel passage of Matthew. No explanation is given of this omission, and it seems to have been occasioned by some casualty unknown to us. Possibly the only reason was that in this place he had before him another written source besides Mark, which did not comprise the fragments in question, and from which, moreover, he borrowed the peculiar situation with which Luke 9:18 begins. Special purposes for the omission (Hilgenfeld, Weiss, p. 699 f.) are arbitrarily assumed, as if in his idea the portion omitted were, on the one hand, not of sufficient importance, on the other, too detailed (as the history of the Canaanitish woman), and the like. Weizsäcker, p. 66 f., proceeds more critically, but still unsatisfactorily, when he relegates the events to Luke 9:51 ff., where occur several points of contact with the fragments here passed over.

Luke 9:19. ἄλλοι δέ] without a previous οἱ μέν. See on Matthew 28:17; Mark 10:32. The opinion: Ἰωάνν. τ. βαπτ., as that of the majority, is first of all declared without limitation.

Luke 9:20. ὁ Πέτρος] προπηδᾶ τῶν λοιπῶν καὶ στόμα πάντων γενόμενος, Theophylact.

τὸν Χριστὸν τ. Θεοῦ] See on Luke 2:26.Luke 9:18-27. The Christ and the cross (Matthew 16:13-28, Mark 8:27 to Mark 9:1). At this point occurs a great gap in Lk.’s narrative as compared with those of Mt. and Mk., all between Matthew 14:22; Matthew 16:12 and between Mark 6:45; Mark 8:27 being omitted. Various explanations of the omission have been suggested: accident (Meyer, Godet), not in the copy of Mk. used by Lk. (Reuss), mistake of the eye, passing from the second feeding as if it were the first (Beyschlag). These and other explanations imply that the omission was unintentional. But against this hypothesis is the fact that the edges of the opposite sides of the gap are brought together in Lk.’s narrative at Luke 9:18 : Jesus alone praying, as in Matthew 14:23, Mark 6:45-46, yet the disciples are with Him though alone (κατὰ μόνας συνῆσαν α. οἱ μαθηταί), and He proceeds to interrogate them. This raises the question as to the motives for intentional omission, which may have been such as these: avoidance of duplicates with no new lesson (second feeding), anti-Pharisaic matter much restricted throughout (ceremonial washing), Jewish particularism not suitable in a Gentile Gospel, not even the appearance of it (Syrophenician woman).—κατὰ μόνας, the scene remains unchanged in Lk.—that of the feeding of the 5000. No trace in this Gospel of Caesarea Philippi, or indeed of the great northerly journey (or journeys) so prominently recognised in Mk., the aim of which was to get away from crowds, and obtain leisure for intercourse with the Twelve in view of the approaching fatal crisis. This omission can hardly be without intention. Whether Lk. knew Mk.’s Gospel or not, so careful and interested an inquirer can hardly have been ignorant of that northern excursion. He may have omitted it because it was not rich in incident, in favour of the Samaritan journey about which he had much to tell. But the very raison d’être of the journey was the hope that it might be a quiet one, giving leisure for intercourse with the Twelve. But this private fellowship of Jesus with His disciples with a view to their instruction is just one of the things to which justice is not done in this Gospel. Their need of instruction is not emphasised. From Lk.’s narrative one would never guess the critical importance of the conversation at Caesarea Philippi, as regards either Peter’s confession or the announcement by Jesus of the coming passion.18-22. St Peter’s Confession. Christ prophesies His Death and Resurrection.

18
. alone] Rather, in private, as the context shews.

the people] Rather, the multitudes; those whom Jesus had taught and healed and fed, or those who seem to have been always at no great distance. The two other Evangelists place this memorable scene in the neighbourhood of Caesarea Philippi. His life at this epoch had come to resemble a continuous flight. He did not enter Caesarea Philippi. He always avoided towns (with the single exception of Jerusalem), probably from His love for the sights and sounds of nature, and His dislike for the crowded squalor and worldly absorption of town-communities; and He specially avoided these Hellenic and hybrid cities, with their idolatrous ornaments and corrupted population. This event may well be regarded as the culminating point in His ministry. He had now won the deliberate faith and conviction of those who had lived in close intercourse with Him, and who, in continuation of His ministry, were to evangelize the world. See Matthew 16:13-21; Mark 8:27-31.

that I am] “That I, the Son of man, am?” Matthew 16:13.Luke 9:18. [Καὶ ἐγένετο, and it came to pass) A memorable point of termination (epoch or boundary of time), marked at once by Matthew, Mark, and Luke (Matthew 16:13, Mark 8:27). They all, with a remarkable concert of statement, place here the commencement of the last departure of the Saviour to the northern borders (coasts) of the land of Israel. It is near Cæsarea-Philippi that He privately asks His disciples, Whom do men say that I am? And then He informs them as to His Passion. Then He so directs His route, as finally now to sow the good seed throughout the whole land of Israel. After the transfiguration He again returns to Capernaum, passing thence through the middle of Samaria and Galilee: further, in continuation, having crossed the Jordan, He proceeds to the land of Judea from that side; and having at length bid farewell to Bethabara and crossed the Jordan again, He came to Jericho and Bethany.—Harm., p. 367.]—προσευχόμενον, praying) Jesus had prayed the Father that He would reveal Himself to His disciples. For the subject of the prayers of Jesus may be inferred from His subsequent words and actions; ch. Luke 6:12-13 [His praying all night was preparatory to the election of the Twelve].Verses 18-27. - Jesus question to his own: Who did they think he was? He tells them of a suffering Messiah, and describes the lot of his own true followers. Verse 18. - And it came to pass, as he was alone praying, his disciples were with him: and he asked them, saying, Whom say the people that I am? With these abrupt words, St. Luke changes for his readers the time and scene. Since the miracle of feeding the five thousand at Bethsaida Julias, Jesus had preached at Capernaum the famous sermon on the "Bread of life" (reported in John 6.); he had wandered to the north-east as far as the maritime cities of Tyro and Sidon; had returned again to the Decapolis region for a brief sojourn; and then once more had turned his footsteps north; and it was in the extreme confines of the Holy Land, in the neighbourhood of Caesarea Philippi, and close to the great fountain, the source of the sacred Jordan, at the foot of the southern ridge of Hermon, where he put the momentous question here chronicled, to his listening disciples. Much had happened since the five thousand were fed. The defection which the Master had foreseen when he commenced his parable-teaching with the sad story of the "sower," had begun. After the great Capernaum sermon (John 6.), many had fallen away from him; the enthusiasm for his words was rapidly waning; the end was already in sight. "Well," he asks his own, "what are men saying about me? Whom do they think that I am?" As he was praying

Peculiar to Luke.

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