Luke 14
Vincent's Word Studies
And it came to pass, as he went into the house of one of the chief Pharisees to eat bread on the sabbath day, that they watched him.
Watched (ἧσαν παρατηρούμενοι)

The participle and finite verb, were engaged in watching. Closely (παρά). See on Mark 3:2.

And, behold, there was a certain man before him which had the dropsy.
Which had the dropsy (ὑδρωπικὸς)

Lit., a dropsical man. The usual way of marking a dropsical patient in medical language.

And Jesus answering spake unto the lawyers and Pharisees, saying, Is it lawful to heal on the sabbath day?
And they held their peace. And he took him, and healed him, and let him go;

Took hold of him. Luke 20:20; 1 Timothy 6:12.

And answered them, saying, Which of you shall have an ass or an ox fallen into a pit, and will not straightway pull him out on the sabbath day?
Pit (φρέαρ)

The primary meaning is a well as distinguished from a fountain.

Pull out

More correctly up (ἀνά).

And they could not answer him again to these things.
And he put forth a parable to those which were bidden, when he marked how they chose out the chief rooms; saying unto them,
They chose

Imperfect: were choosing. Something going on before his eyes.

The chief seats

Or couches. The Greek writers refer to the absurd contentions which sometimes arose for the chief seats at table. Theophrastus designates one who thrusts himself into the place next the host as μικροφιλότιμος one who seeks petty distinctions.

When thou art bidden of any man to a wedding, sit not down in the highest room; lest a more honourable man than thou be bidden of him;

More properly, marriage-feast.

And he that bade thee and him come and say to thee, Give this man place; and thou begin with shame to take the lowest room.

Emphasizing the shame of the reluctant movement toward the lower place.

The lowest

Since the other, intervening places are all assigned.

But when thou art bidden, go and sit down in the lowest room; that when he that bade thee cometh, he may say unto thee, Friend, go up higher: then shalt thou have worship in the presence of them that sit at meat with thee.
Sit down (ἀνάπεσε)

Lit., lay yourself back.

For whosoever exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.

See Matthew 11:29.

Then said he also to him that bade him, When thou makest a dinner or a supper, call not thy friends, nor thy brethren, neither thy kinsmen, nor thy rich neighbours; lest they also bid thee again, and a recompence be made thee.
Dinner - supper

See on Matthew 22:4. Supper (δειπνον) is the principal meal at evening, and corresponding to the modern late dinner.

Call not thy friends, etc

A striking parallel occurs in Plato's "Phaedrus," 233. "And, in general, when you make a feast, invite not your friend, but the beggar and the empty soul, for they will love you, and attend you, and come about your doors, and will be the best pleased, and the most grateful, and will invoke blessings on your head."

But when thou makest a feast, call the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind:
Feast (δοχήν)

Or reception. Used by Luke only. See on Luke 5:29.

And thou shalt be blessed; for they cannot recompense thee: for thou shalt be recompensed at the resurrection of the just.
And when one of them that sat at meat with him heard these things, he said unto him, Blessed is he that shall eat bread in the kingdom of God.

See on Matthew 5:3.

Then said he unto him, A certain man made a great supper, and bade many:
Made (ἐποίει)

Imperfect, was making. His preparations were in progress. A definite act among these preparations is described by the aorist, he bade (ἐκάλεσεν), the technical word for inviting to a festival. See Matthew 22:3; John 2:2.

Sent his servant

"If a sheikh, bey, or emeer invites, he always sends a servant to call you at the proper time. This servant often repeats the very formula mentioned in Luke 14:17 : Come, for the supper is ready. The fact that this custom is confined to the wealthy and to the nobility is in strict agreement with the parable, where the man who made the supper is supposed to be of this class. It is true now, as then, that to refuse is a high insult to the maker of the feast (Thomson, "Land and Book"). Palgrave mentions a similar formula of invitation among the Bedouins of Arabia. "The chief, or some un-breeched youngster of his family, comes up to us with the customary tefaddaloo, or do us the favor" ("Central and Eastern Arabia").

And sent his servant at supper time to say to them that were bidden, Come; for all things are now ready.
And they all with one consent began to make excuse. The first said unto him, I have bought a piece of ground, and I must needs go and see it: I pray thee have me excused.
Make excuse (παραιτεῖσθαι)

Also rendered in New Testament refuse, Hebrews 12:19, Hebrews 12:25, where both meanings occur. See also 2 Timothy 2:23, Rev. Our phrase, beg off, expresses the idea here.

I must needs (ἔχω ἀνάγκην)

Lit., I have necessity: a strong expression.

Go (ἐξελθεῖν)

Go out (ἐξ) from the city.

And another said, I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to prove them: I pray thee have me excused.
And another said, I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come.

A newly married man had special indulgence allowed him. See Deuteronomy 24:5. Herodotus relates how Croesus refused for his son an invitation to a hunt on this ground. "But Croesus answered, 'Say no more of my son going with you; that may not be in anywise. He is but just joined in wedlock, and is busy enough with that'" (i., 36). The man who had the most plausible excuse returned the surliest and most peremptory answer. Compare 1 Corinthians 7:33.

So that servant came, and shewed his lord these things. Then the master of the house being angry said to his servant, Go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in hither the poor, and the maimed, and the halt, and the blind.
Streets (πλατείας) - lanes (ῥύμας)

The former word from πλατύς, broad; the broad streets contrasted with the narrow lanes. Wyc., great streets and small streets.

And the servant said, Lord, it is done as thou hast commanded, and yet there is room.
As thou hast commanded

Following the reading ὡς, as. The best texts substitute ὃ, what. Render as Rev., "What thou didst command is done."

And the lord said unto the servant, Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled.
Hedges (φραγμοὺς)

See on Matthew 21:33. It may mean either a hedge, or a place enclosed with a hedge. Here the hedges beside which vagrants rest.


Compare constrained, Matthew 14:22; Acts 26:11; Galatians 6:12. Not to use force, but to constrain them against the reluctance which such poor creatures would feel at accepting the invitation of a great lord.

May be filled (γεμισθῇ)

A very strong word; properly of loading a ship. "Nature and grace alike abhor a vacuum" (Bengel).

For I say unto you, That none of those men which were bidden shall taste of my supper.
And there went great multitudes with him: and he turned, and said unto them,
If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.
And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple.
His cross

More correctly, his own. An important charge. All must bear the cross, but not all the same cross: each one his own.

For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it?
A tower

The subject of the parable is the life of Christian discipleship, which is figured by a tower, a lofty structure, as something distinguished from the world and attracting attention.

Counteth (ψηφίζει)

Only here and Revelation 13:18. From ψῆφος, a pebble (see Revelation 2:17), used as a counter. Thus Herodotus says that the Egyptians, when they calculate (λογιζονται ψήφοις, reckon with pebbles), move their hand from right to left (ii., 36). So Aristophanes, "Reckon roughly, not with pebbles (ψήφοις), but on the hand" ("Wasps," 656). Similarly calculate, from Latin calculus, a pebble. Used also of voting. Thus Herodotus: "The Greeks met at the altar of Neptune, and took the ballots (τὰς ψήφοις) wherewith they were to give their votes." Plato: "And you, would you vote (ἂν ψῆφον θεῖο, cast your pebble) with me or against me ?" ("Protagoras," 330). See Acts 26:10.

Cost (τὴν δαπάνην)

Allied to δάπτω, to devour. Hence expense, as something which eats up resources.

Sufficient (εἰς ἀπαρτισμόν)

Lit., unto completion. The kindred verb ἀπαρτίζω, not used in New Testament, means to make even or square, and hence to complete.

Lest haply, after he hath laid the foundation, and is not able to finish it, all that behold it begin to mock him,
To finish (ἐκτελέσαι)

Lit., "to finish out" (ἐκ).

Behold (θεωροῦντες)

Attentively watching the progress of the building. See on Luke 10:18.

Begin to mock

As his resources come to an end.

Saying, This man began to build, and was not able to finish.
This man (οὗτος ὁ ἄνθρωπος)

With sarcastic emphasis.

Was not able (οὐκ ἴσχυσεν)

From ἰσχύς, strength. See on power, 2 Peter 2:11. To be strong in body or in resources, and so to be worth, as Lat., valere. "This man was not worth enough, or was not good for the completion." In this latter sense, Matthew 5:13, "good for nothing."

Or what king, going to make war against another king, sitteth not down first, and consulteth whether he be able with ten thousand to meet him that cometh against him with twenty thousand?
To make war against another king (ἑτέρῳ βασιλεῖ συμβαλεῖν εἰς πόλεμον)

Lit., to come together with another king Jer war. So Rev., to encounter another king in war.

"Out he flashed,

And into such a song, such fire for fame,

Such trumpet-blowings in it, coming down

To such a stern and iron-clashing close,

That when he stopped we longed to hurl together."

Tennyson, Idyls of the King.

With ten thousand (ἐν δέκα χιλιάσιν)

Lit., in ten thousands: i.e., in the midst of; surrounded by. Compare Jde 1:14.

Or else, while the other is yet a great way off, he sendeth an ambassage, and desireth conditions of peace.
Asketh (ἐρωτᾷ)

On a footing of equality: king treating with king. See on Luke 11:9.

Conditions of peace (τὰ πρὸς εἰρήνην)

Lit., this looking toward peace: preliminaries. Compare Romans 14:19, things which make for peace (τὰ τῆς εἰρήνης, the things of peace).

So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple.
Forsaketh (ἀποτάσσεται)

Bids good-by to. Rev., renounceth. See on Luke 9:61. "In that forsaketh lies the key to the whole passage" (Trench). Christian discipleship is founded in self-renunciation.

Salt is good: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be seasoned?
Have lost its savor

See on Matthew 5:13.

Shall it be seasoned

See on Mark 9:50.

It is neither fit for the land, nor yet for the dunghill; but men cast it out. He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.
Vincent's Word Studies, by Marvin R. Vincent [1886].
Text Courtesy of Internet Sacred Texts Archive.

Bible Hub
Luke 13
Top of Page
Top of Page