Luke 9:46
Then there arose a reasoning among them, which of them should be greatest.
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(46) Then there arose a reasoning among them.—Better, a dispute, or questioning. See Notes on Matthew 18:1-5, and Mark 9:33-41.

Which of them should be greatest.—Better, which of them was the greatest.

Luke 9:46-48. And there arose a reasoning among them — According to our version here, this reasoning, or dispute, happened at the time when Jesus rebuked his disciples for it. But, Mark 9:33, we are expressly told, that it happened as they went into Capernaum. The evangelists, however, may be reconciled by translating Luke’s words, εισηλθε δε διαλογισμος εν αυτοις, Now there had arisen a reasoning among them — Namely, as they travelled to Capernaum. This kind of reasoning, it may be observed, always arose at the most improper times that could be imagined; which of them should be greatest — Thus they clearly manifested their ambitious views, and their carnal, worldly spirit; and how entirely they misunderstood the nature of Christ’s kingdom, which is not of this world; and Jesus, perceiving the thought of their heart — For he perfectly knew all that passed within them; took a child and said unto them — If you would be truly great, humble yourselves to the meanest offices: he that is least in his own eyes shall be great indeed. For a full explanation of this occurrence, and of our Lord’s improvement of it, and lessons taught his disciples on the occasion, see the notes on Matthew 18:1-6; and Mark 9:33-40, where the two next verses also are explained.

9:43-50 This prediction of Christ's sufferings was plain enough, but the disciples would not understand it, because it agreed not with their notions. A little child is the emblem by which Christ teaches us simplicity and humility. What greater honour can any man attain to in this world, than to be received by men as a messenger of God and Christ; and to have God and Christ own themselves received and welcomed in him! If ever any society of Christians in this world, had reason to silence those not of their own communion, the twelve disciples at this time had; yet Christ warned them not to do the like again. Those may be found faithful followers of Christ, and may be accepted of him, who do not follow with us.See the notes at Matthew 18:1-5. Compare Mark 9:33-38. Lu 9:46-48. Strife among the Twelve Who Should Be Greatest—John Rebuked for Exclusiveness.

46-48. (See on [1614]Mt 18:1-5).

Ver. 46-48. See Poole on "Matthew 18:1", and following verses to Matthew 18:6. See Poole on "Mark 9:33", and following verses to Mark 9:37. This paragraph showeth what need there was of the preceding discourse, that our Saviour should prepare them with a preinforming them about his suffering, that when they saw it their faith in him as the Messiah might not fail; for they were possessed with the common notion of their country, that the Messiah should deliver them from the temporal pressures which they were under, and exercise a civil or military secular power; this made them think of places of priority and greatness, about which we often find them disputing. Our Lord, to bring them off that false notion of him and his kingdom, taketh a child, and setteth him before them, and saith, Whosoever shall receive this child, &c. What Luke saith must be interpreted by what we had before in Matthew and Mark. This child, that is, one that is as humble as this child, &c.: see the notes before mentioned.

Then there arose a reasoning among them,.... The Vulgate Latin, Syriac, and Arabic versions read, "a thought entered into them"; suggested very likely by Satan, which broke out into words, and issued in a warm dispute among them; and this was in the way, as they were travelling from Caesarea Philippi, to Capernaum; see Mark 9:33.

Which of them should be greatest; that is, "in the kingdom of heaven", as in Matthew 18:1 in the kingdom of the Messiah, which they expected would be a temporal one: wherefore the dispute was not about degrees in glory, nor in grace; nor who should be the greatest apostle and preacher of the Gospel; but who should be prime minister to the king Messiah, when he should set up his monarchy in all its grandeur and glory.

{9} Then there arose a reasoning among them, which of them should be greatest.

(9) Ambition results in dishonour, but the result of modest obedience is glory.

Luke 9:46-50. See on Matthew 18:1-5; Mark 9:33-40.

εἰσῆλθε κ.τ.λ.] then came a thought in their hearts. A well-known pregnancy of expression in respect of ἐν, wherein the result of the εἰσέρχεσθαιthe being in them—is the predominant idea. See Bernhardy, p. 208. Another mode of regarding the rising of thoughts in the mind is expressed at Luke 24:38.

τίς ἂν κ.τ.λ.] who probably (possibly, see Kühner, II. p. 478) would be greater, i.e. more to be preferred among them.[119] Comp. on 1 Corinthians 13:13. This question of rank, which Mark introduces with greater historical detail, is not referred in Mark and Luke specially to the Messiah’s kingdom, as is the case in Matthew. See on Mark 9:33. The occasion of the question is not stated in Mark and Luke (otherwise in Matthew 18:1), and is by Theophylact quite arbitrarily sought in the cure of the demoniac, which the disciples had not been able to accomplish, and in view of the failure were throwing the blame upon one another.

παρʼ ἑαυτᾷ] close to Himself. In such a position opposite to the disciples, as clearly to make common cause with Jesus Himself (see Luke 9:48).

Luke 9:48. The meaning and train of thought in Luke are substantially the same as in Mark 9:36 f., as also in Matthew 18:2 ff.; the same principles are enunciated in the same sense. The child placed there is the living type of the humble disciple as he, in opposition to that arrogant disposition in Luke 9:46, ought to be. And this child standing there as such a moral type, i.e. every disciple of Christ like to him in unassuming humility, is so highly esteemed before God, that whosoever lovingly receives him, etc. For (γάρ, introducing a confirmatory explanation) he who is less (than the others) among you all (to wit, subjectively, according to his own estimation of himself) is great (objectively, in accordance with his real worth). Therefore the saying of Jesus in Luke ought not to have been explained as wanting in point (de Wette) or without connection (Strauss), nor should it have been maintained that the placing of the child before the disciples was originally without reference to the dispute about rank (Weisse).

Luke 9:49. As to the connection of thought with what precedes, see on Mark 9:38. Luke follows him with abbreviations. But any reference to an attack on the ministerial efficiency of the Apostle Paul (Köstlin, p. 201) is quite arbitrarily read into Luke 9:50.

ἐπὶ τ. ὀνόμ. σου] on the ground of Thy name, giving out Him as the authority which the demons had to obey. In this sense they used the name of Jesus in the expulsion of demons. Comp. Luke 21:8, Luke 24:47; Acts 4:17 f.; and for actual cases, Acts 3:6; Acts 3:16; Acts 16:18.

ἀκολ. μεθʼ ἡμῶν] a frequent construction in the classical writers also, Lobeck, ad Phryn. p. 353 f. Comp. Revelation 6:8; Revelation 14:13.

[119] Not: greater than they, as Weiss in the Jahrb. f. D. Theol. p. 96, supposes. That their question, according to Luke, was not so devoid of understanding is shown, moreover, by μικρότερος ἐν πᾶσιν ὑμῖν, ver. 48. Luke therefore had no wish to set aside the contest about rank.

Luke 9:46-50. Who might be the greatest (Matthew 18:1-5, Mark 9:33-41).

46. a reasoning Rather, a dispute.

which of them should be greatest] Their jealous ambition had been kindled partly by false Messianic hopes, partly perhaps by the recent distinction bestowed on Peter, James, and John. Observe how little Christ’s words to Peter had been understood to confer on him any special preeminence! This unseemly dispute was again stirred up at the Last Supper, Luke 22:24-26._

Luke 9:46. Εἰσῆλθε, entered [arose] among) The flesh often takes occasion for its motions: and this, even when all things are opposed to it.

Verses 46-48. - How the Lord answered the question which arose among the disciples as to which was the greatest. Verses 46, 47. - Then there arose a reasoning among them, which of them should be greatest. And Jesus, perceiving the thought of their heart. Somewhere on their journey back to the south, between the neighbourhood of Caesarea Philippi and the old scene of his labours, Capernaum, this dispute must have taken place. Shortly after their arrival at Capernaum, the Master called them together, and gave them the following lesson on human greatness. Took a child, and set him by him. St. Mark mentions that this teaching was "in the house," and commentators have suggested, with some probability, that the house was St. Peter's, and the child one of his. Clement of Alexandria ('Stromata,' 3:448, B) especially mentions that this apostle had children. St. Matthew relates this incident at greater length, and, still dwelling upon the text of "the little one," gives us another and different sketch of the Master's teaching on this occasion. St. Mark tells us how Jesus folded his arms round the little creature in loving fondness. If the child, as above suggested, was Peter's own, such an incident as that embrace would never have been forgotten by the father, and would, of course, find a place in the memoir of his faithful disciple Mark. A (late) tradition of the Eastern Church identifies this child with him who afterwards became the famous Ignatius, Bishop of Antioch, a martyr. Ignatius styled himself Theophoros; this, understood in a passive sense, would signify "one who had been carried by God." But in this Father's own writings we find the name used by himself in an active sense, as "one who carries God within himself." And Jesus, perceiving the thought of their heart, took a child. The dispute "which of them should be greatest," which no doubt had taken place among themselves in their last journey from the north of the Holy Land to Capernaum, was still a leading thought in the hearts of the twelve, so little had they really understood their Master's teaching, and especially his later solemn words which pointed the way of the cross as the only way to heaven and to real greatness. The Lord reads these poor sinful hearts; then, calling them together, he takes a child in his arms, and sets him by him. By this action the Lord answers the silent questioning thought of the worldly twelve. "The child stands as the type of the humble and childlike disciple, and (the dispute having been about the comparative greatness of the disciples) such a disciple is the greatest; he is so honoured by God that he stands on earth as the representative of Christ, and of God himself (ver. 47), since "he that is [willingly] least among you all, the same shall be [truly] great' (ver. 48)" (Meyer). Luke 9:46A reasoning (διαλογισμὸς)

A debate or discussion. See on Luke 24:38, and James 1:22; James 2:4.

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