Luke 9:62
And Jesus said unto him, No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.
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(62) No man, having put his hand to the plough . . .—The image which our Lord used was, as usual, one that went home to the personal experience of His hearers. They were of the peasant class, and they knew that the eye of the ploughman if he is to do his work well, must look straight before him at the line of the furrow which he is making. To look back, while working, is to mar the work entirely. The man who so looks is therefore, ipso facto, disqualified for the work of God’s kingdom.

9:57-62 Here is one that is forward to follow Christ, but seems to have been hasty and rash, and not to have counted the cost. If we mean to follow Christ, we must lay aside the thoughts of great things in the world. Let us not try to join the profession of Christianity, with seeking after worldly advantages. Here is another that seems resolved to follow Christ, but he begs a short delay. To this man Christ first gave the call; he said to him, Follow me. Religion teaches us to be kind and good, to show piety at home, and to requite our parents; but we must not make these an excuse for neglecting our duty to God. Here is another that is willing to follow Christ, but he must have a little time to talk with his friends about it, and to set in order his household affairs, and give directions concerning them. He seemed to have worldly concerns more upon his heart than he ought to have, and he was willing to enter into a temptation leading him from his purpose of following Christ. No one can do any business in a proper manner, if he is attending to other things. Those who begin with the work of God, must resolve to go on, or they will make nothing of it. Looking back, leads to drawing back, and drawing back is to perdition. He only that endures to the end shall be saved.No man, having put his hand ... - To put one's hand to a plow is a proverbial expression to signify undertaking any business. In order that a plowman may accomplish his work, it is necessary to look onward - to be intent on his employment - not to be looking back with regret that he undertook it. So in religion. He that enters on it must do it with his whole heart, He that comes still loving the world - still looking with regret on its pleasures, its wealth, and its honors - that has not "wholly" forsaken them as his portion, cannot be a Christian, and is not fit for the kingdom of God. How searching is this test to those who profess to be Christians! And how solemn the duty of all people to renounce all earthly objects, and to be not only "almost," but "altogether," followers of the Son of God! It is perilous to tamper with the world - to look at its pleasures or to seek its society. He that would enter heaven must come with a heart full of love to God; giving "all" into his hands, and prepared always to give up all his property, his health, his friends, his body, his soul to God, when he demands them, or he cannot be a Christian. Religion is everything or nothing. He that is not willing to sacrifice "everything" for the cause of God, is really willing to sacrifice nothing. 62. No man, &c.—As ploughing requires an eye intent on the furrow to be made, and is marred the instant one turns about, so will they come short of salvation who prosecute the work of God with a distracted attention, a divided heart. Though the reference seems chiefly to ministers, the application is general. The expression "looking back" has a manifest reference to "Lot's wife" (Ge 19:26; and see on [1621]Lu 17:32). It is not actual return to the world, but a reluctance to break with it. (Also see on [1622]Mt 8:21.) See Poole on "Luke 9:62"

And Jesus said unto him,.... The copulative "and", is left out in the Vulgate Latin, Syriac, Arabic, and Persic versions:

no man having put his hand to the plough; or "ploughshare", as reads the Syriac version; or "plough handle", as the Persic; referring, as Beza thinks, to the business of Elisha, in 1 Kings 19:19

And looking back; behind him; for the ploughman ought to look before him, on his plough, and the ground he is ploughing, or he is not fit to be a ploughman; nor will he make proper furrows, or do his work well; and so he that enters upon the ministerial work, and looks back, and engages himself in the affairs of the world, sets his heart on them, and spends his time in them,

is not fit for the kingdom of God: that is, to preach the kingdom of God, as in Luke 9:60. He cannot serve God and mammon, his own interest, and the interest of Christ; he cannot rightly perform the work of the ministry, whilst his thoughts and time are taken up in the affairs of the world.

And Jesus said unto him, No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.
Luke 9:62. οὐδεὶς ἐπιβαλὼν, etc.: the necessity of self-concentration inculcated in proverbial language borrowed from agricultural life. Wetstein cites from Hesiod, Ἔργ., ver. 443, the well-known lines: ἰθεῖαν αὔλακʼ ἐλαύνοι, Μηκέτι παπταίνων μεθʼ ὁμήλικας, ἀλλʼ ἐπὶ ἔργῳ Θυμὸν ἔχων. The ambition to make a straight furrow has been common to ploughmen in all ages and countries, and it needs, like the highest calling, steady intention and a forward-cast eye. Furrer compliments the Palestine fellah on his skill in drawing a long straight furrow (Wanderungen, p. 149). His plough is a very inferior article to that used in this country.—εὐθετός, well fitted, apt; here and in chap. Luke 14:35, Hebrews 6:7.—The first case is that of inconsiderate impulse, the second that of conflicting duties, the third that of a divided mind. The incidents are related by Lk., not so much possibly for their psychological interest as to show how Jesus came to have so many disciples as chap. Luke 10:1-16 implies, and yet how particular He was.

60. No man having put his hand to the plough] He who would make straight furrows must not look about him (Hesiod, Works and Days, 11. 60). The light ploughs of the East, easily overturned, require constant attention.

fit] Rather, well-adapted. By way of comment see Luke 17:32; Psalm 78:9; Hebrews 10:38-39. The general lesson of the section is, Give yourself wholly to your duty, and count the cost, Luke 14:25-33. Christ cannot accept ‘a conditional service.’ Neither hardship, nor bereavement, nor home ties must delay us from following Him. Is it more than a curious accident that the last four incidents illustrate the peculiarities of the four marked human temperaments—the Choleric (Luke 9:51-56); the Sanguine (Luke 9:57-58); the Melancholic (Luke 9:59-60); the Phlegmatic (Luke 9:61-62)?

Luke 9:62. Ὁ Ἰησοῦς, Jesus) Being presently after about to send forth the Seventy.—βλέπων, looking) He who looks back, strictly speaking, is deranged.[90]—εἰς τὴν βασιλείαν τοῦ Θεοῦ, for the kingdom of God) [the Gospel], viz. for holding it fast and propagating it.

[90] Delirat, alluding to its literal meaning, to draw the furrow awry in ploughing, Th. de and lira, a furrow; metaphorically, is demented, misses the right Gospel track.—ED. and TRANSL.

Luke 9:62Put his hand to (ἐπιβαλὼν ἐπί)

Lit., having laid his hand upon.

Back (εἰς τὰ ὀπίσω)

Lit., to things behind. "The figure is that of a man who, while engaged in labor, instead of keeping his eye on the furrow which he is drawing, looks behind at some object which attracts his interest. He is only half at work, and half-work only will be the result" (Godet).

Fit (ἔυθετός)

Lit., well-placed: adjusted.

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