Luke 9:50
And Jesus said unto him, Forbid him not: for he that is not against us is for us.
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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. 49, 50. John answered, &c.—The link of connection here with the foregoing context lies in the words "in My name" (Lu 9:48). "Oh, as to that," said John, young, warm, but not sufficiently apprehending Christ's teaching in these things, "we saw one casting out devils in Thy name, and we forbade him: Were we wrong?" "Ye were wrong." "But we did because he followeth not us,'" "No matter. For (1) There is no man which shall do a miracle in My name that can lightly [soon] speak evil of Me' [Mr 9:39]. And (2) If such a person cannot be supposed to be 'against us,' you are to consider him 'for us.'" Two principles of immense importance. Christ does not say this man should not have followed "with them," but simply teaches how he was to be regarded though he did not—as a reverer of His name and a promoter of His cause. Surely this condemns not only those horrible attempts by force to shut up all within one visible pale of discipleship, which have deluged Christendom with blood in Christ's name, but the same spirit in its milder form of proud ecclesiastic scowl upon all who "after the form which they call a sect (as the word signifies, Ac 24:14), do so worship the God of their fathers." Visible unity in Christ's Church is devoutly to be sought, but this is not the way to it. See the noble spirit of Moses (Nu 11:24-29). See Poole on "Luke 9:49"

And Jesus said unto him, forbid him not,.... "Or forbid not" him, or any other so doing:

for he that is not against us, is for us: in two exemplars of Beza's it is read, "for he is not against you": the Vulgate Latin, and Syriac versions, instead of "us", in both clauses read "you", and so likewise the Persic and Ethiopic versions; See Gill on Mark 9:39, Mark 9:40.

And Jesus said unto him, Forbid him not: for he that is not against us is for us.
50. he that is not against us is for us] Cf. Php 1:18. The complementary but not contradictory truth to this, is “He who is not with me is against me,” Matthew 12:30. Both are true in different circumstances. Neutrality is sometimes as deadly as opposition (Jdg 5:23); it is sometimes as effectual as aid (Sueton., Jul. Caes. 75). See Vinet, La tolerance et I’intolerance de I’Evangile (Discours, p. 268). Renan calls these “two irreconcilable rules of proselytism, and a contradiction evoked by a passionate struggle.” Guizot expresses his astonishment at so frivolous a criticism, and calls them two contrasted facts which every one must have noticed in the course of an active life. “Les deux assertions, loin de se contredire, peuvent etre egalement vraies, et Jesus- Christ en les exprimant a parle en observateur sagace, non en moraliste qui donne les preceptes.” Miditations, p. 229.

It is a great pity that the chapter does not end at this verse; since it closes another great section in our Lord’s ministry—the epoch of opposition and flight. A new phase of the ministry begins at Luke 9:51.

Luke 9:51 to Luke 18:31. Rejected by the Samaritans. A lesson of Tolerance.

This section forms a great episode in St Luke, which may be called the departure for the final conflict, and is identical with the journey (probably to the Feast of the Dedication, John 10:22) which is partially Luke 9:51-56. And it came to pass, when the time was come that he touched upon in Matthew 18:1 to Matthew 20:16 and Mark 10:1-31. It contains many incidents recorded by this Evangelist alone, and though the recorded identifications of time and place are vague, yet they all point (Luke 9:51, Luke 13:22, Luke 17:11, Luke 10:38) to a slow, solemn, and public progress from Galilee to Jerusalem, of which the events themselves are often grouped by subjective considerations. So little certain is the order of the separate incidents, that one writer (Rev. W. Stewart) has made an ingenious attempt to shew that it is determined by the alphabetic arrangement of the leading Greek verbs (ἀγαπᾶν, Luke 10:25-42; αἰτεῖν, Luke 11:1-5; Luke 11:8-13, &c.). Canon Westcott arranges the order thus: The Rejection of the Jews foreshewn; preparation, Luke 9:43 to Luk 11:13; Lessons of Warning, Luke 11:14 to Luk 13:9; Lessons of Progress, Luke 13:10 to Luk 14:24; Lessons of Discipleship, Luke 14:25—xvii. 10; the Coming End, Luke 17:10 to Luk 18:30.

The order of events after ‘the Galilaean spring’ of our Lord’s ministry on the plain of Gennesareth seems to have been this: After the period of flight among the heathen or in countries which were only semi-Jewish, of which almost the sole recorded incident is the healing of the daughter of the Syrophoenician woman (Matthew 15:21-28). He returned to Peraea and fed the four thousand. He then sailed back to Gennesareth, but left it in deep sorrow on being met by the Pharisees with insolent demands for a sign from heaven. Turning His back once more on Galilee, He again travelled northwards; healed a blind man at Bethsaida Julias; received St Peter’s great confession on the way to Caesarea Philippi; was transfigured; healed the demoniac boy; rebuked the ambition of the disciples by the example of the little child; returned for a brief rest in Capernaum, during which occurred the incident of the Temple Tax; then journeyed to the Feast of Tabernacles, during which occurred the incidents so fully narrated by St John (John 7:1 to Joh 10:21). The events and teachings in this great section of St Luke seem to belong mainly, if not entirely, to the two months between the hasty return of Jesus to Galilee and His arrival in Jerusalem, two months afterwards, at the Feast of Dedication;—a period respecting which St Luke must have had access to special sources of information.

For fuller discussion of the question I must refer to my Life of Christ, ii. 89-150.

Luke 9:50. Ὃς γὰρ οὐκ ἔστι καθʼ ὑμῶν, ὑπὲρ ὑμῶν ἐστιν, for he who is not against you is for you) So too Mark 9:40, although some Greek MSS. in Mark, and most of them in Luke, have written ἡμῶν for ὑμῶν. To such a degree were the Greek transcribers indifferent in their confounding these pronouns, that the true reading must be decided not so much by the number of Greek MSS., as by the ancient versions, which translate and present these pronouns with greater accuracy of distinction, and also especially by a comparison of the context. The more or the less different is the condition of these concerning whom the expression we and you is used, the more or the less weight in proportion the variety of reading has. And in this passage the variety of reading is not a matter of indifference. For when He is speaking of external association and mode of procedure (conversatione), the Lord used the first person Plural, “Let us pass over to the other side; Lo, we go up to Jerusalem,” etc. But when matters of a more internal character were concerned, He made an appropriate distinction in His language, and did not say, we, but, I, or else, you. “I ascend,” saith He, “to My Father and your Father, and My God and your God,” not, “to our Father and God.” Therefore He does not here say, “He who is not against us, is for us,” but, “he who is not against you, is for you;” and in another passage, “He who is not with Me, is against Me.”[87]

[87] ABCDabc Vulg. have καθʼ ὑμῶν. BCDabc Vulg. have also ὑπὲρ ὑμῶν. But AΔ have ὑπὲρ ἡμῶν. Rec. Text has καθʼ ἡμῶνὑπὲρ ἡμῶν. In Mark 9:40, ADabc Vulg. read ὑμῶν twice. But BCΔ Memph. later Syr. in marg. read ἡμῶν.—ED. and TRANSL.

Verse 50. - And Jesus said unto him, Forbid him not: for he that is not against us is for us. The older authorities, manuscripts, and the more venerable versions here read for the last clause, "He that is not against you is for you." Exegetically as well as critically this amended reading is to be preferred. The offence of the stranger, if it were an offence, was not against Jesus, whose Name had evidently been used reverently and with faith, but against the disciples, whose rights and privileges were presumably infringed upon. The Master's reply contained a broad and far-reaching truth. No earthly society, however holy, would be able exclusively to claim the Divine powers inseparably connected with a true and faithful use of his Name. This is the grand and massive answer which stretches over a history of eighteen centuries, and which will possibly extend over many yet to come; the answer which gives an ample reason why noble Christian work is done whether emanating from Churches bearing the name of Protestant, or Roman, or Greek. THE SO-CALLED JOURNEYINGS TOWARDS JERUSALEM. The great characteristic feature in St. Luke's Gospel, distinguishing it especially from the other two synoptical Gospels of SS. Matthew and Mark, are the events in the public ministry of Jesus dwelt on in the next ten chapters of this Gospel. Many incidents in the succeeding chapters are recorded by this evangelist alone. Two questions suggest themselves.

1. To what period of the Lord's public work does this large and important section of our Gospel refer?


(1) Why is this period, comparatively speaking, so little dwelt on by the other two synoptists SS. Matthew and Mark?

(2) Where did St. Luke probably derive his information here?

1. Commentators frequently, and with some accuracy, speak of this great section of St. Luke's work as "the journeyings towards Jerusalem." Three times does this writer especially tell us that this was the object and end of the journeys he was describing; in Luke 9:51, "He steadfastly set his face to go to Jerusalem;" in Luke 13:22, "He went through the cities and villages... journeying toward Jerusalem;" in Luke 17:11, "And it came to pass, as he went to Jerusalem." These journeyings to Jerusalem were evidently just before the end. They were the close of the public life. They immediately preceded the last Passover Feast, which all the four evangelists tell us the Lord kept at Jerusalem, and in the course of which he was crucified. They fill up, then, the last six or seven months of his earth-life - that period, roughly speaking, from the Feast of Tabernacles (alluded to in John 7.), which falls in October, until the Passover Feast in the following spring. These last months were occupied by the Master in a slow progress from Capernaum, through those parts of Galilee hitherto generally unvisited by him, gradually making his way toward the capital, which we know he reached in time for the Passover Feast, during which he was crucified. In the course of this period it seems, however, likely that, in St. Luke's account of Mary and Martha (ch. 10:38-42), we have an allusion to a short visit to Jerusalem of the Lord, undertaken in the course of these journeyings, at the Dedication Feast (John 10:22).


(1) In these last journeyings it appears that the Lord was in the habit of constantly sending out by themselves small companies of his disciples as missionaries in the neighbouring districts, thus accustoming his followers, in view of his own approaching death, to act alone and to think alone. It is, therefore, extremely probable that SS. Matthew and Peter (the real author of St. Mark's Gospel) were, during this period of our Lord's work, constantly absent from their Master's immediate neighbourhood. These apostles would naturally choose, as the special subjects of their own teaching and preaching, those events at which they personally had been present. Much of what was done and said by the Master during these last six months was done during the temporary absence, on special mission duty, of these two evangelists.

(2) When we consider the probable sources whence St. Luke derived his detailed information concerning this period, we are, of course, landed in conjecture. We know, however, that the whole of his narrative was composed after careful research into well-sifted evidence, supplied generally by eyewitnesses, of the events described. Thus, in the earlier chapters, we have already discussed the high probability of the Virgin-mother herself having furnished the information; so here there is little doubt that SS. Paul and Luke, in their researches during the composition of the Third Gospel, met with men and women who had formed part of that larger company which had been with Jesus, we know, during those last months of his ministry among us. Nor is it, surely, an unreasonable thought for us to see, in connection with this important portion of our Gospel, the hand of the Holy Spirit, who, unseen, guided the pen of the four evangelists, especially throwing Luke and his master, Paul, into the society of men who had watched the great Teacher closely during that period of his work, when the other two synoptists, SS. Matthew and Peter (Mark), were frequently absent. From the language employed in this portion of the Gospel, there seems a high probability that many of the notes or documents supplied to SS. Luke and Paul were written or dictated in Aramaic (Hebrew). Luke 9:50
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