Luke 7
Vincent's Word Studies
Now when he had ended all his sayings in the audience of the people, he entered into Capernaum.
Sayings (ῥήματα)

See on Luke 1:37.

In the ears (εἰς τὰμ ἀκοὰς)

Lit., into the ears. See on ears, Luke 4:37.

And a certain centurion's servant, who was dear unto him, was sick, and ready to die.
Centurion (ἑκατοντάρχου)

From ἕκατον, a hundred, and ἄρχω, to command. Commander of a hundred men. Mark uses κεντυρίων, a Graecized form of the Latin word centurio. A centuria was originally a division consisting of a hundred things of a kind; and thence came to mean any division, whether consisting of a hundred or not. In military language it meant a division of troops, a company, not necessarily of a hundred, the captain of which was called centurio. The numbers of a century varied from about fifty to a hundred. The Roman legion consisted of ten cohorts or σπεῖραι, bands, as" the Italian band," of which Cornelius was a centurion (Acts 10:1). The commanders of these cohorts were called chiliarchs, or chief captains (John 18:12, Rev.). Each cohort contained six centuries, or companies, of which the commanders were called centurions. The duty of the centurion was chiefly confined to the regulation of his own corps, and the care of the watch. The badge of his office was the vitis, or vine-stock. He wore a short tunic, and was also known by letters on the crest of his helmet. Dean Howson ("Companions of St. Paul") remarks on the favorable impression left upon the mind by the officers of the Roman army mentioned in the New Testament, and cites, besides the centurion in this passage, the one at the cross, and Julius, who escorted Paul to Rome. See Acts 10:1.

Servant (δοῦλος)

A bond-servant. Matthew has παῖς, a servant, which occurs also at Luke 7:7.

Dear (ἔντιμος)

Lit. held in honor or value. It does not necessarily imply an affectionate relation between the master and the servant, though such may well have existed. It may mean only that he was a valuable servant. See on 1 Peter 2:4. In this case Luke omits the mention of the disease, which is given by Matthew.

Beseeching (ἐρωτῶν)

Too strong. Better asking, as Rev. The word to beseech (παρακαλέω) occurs in the next verse. See on Matthew 15:23.

Heal (διασώσῃ)

Better as Rev., save. See on Luke 6:19.

And when he heard of Jesus, he sent unto him the elders of the Jews, beseeching him that he would come and heal his servant.
And when they came to Jesus, they besought him instantly, saying, That he was worthy for whom he should do this:
They besought him instantly (παρεκάλουν σπουδαίως)

On besought, see on Luke 6:24. Instantly, which commonly means at once, is used in its older meaning, pressingly, from the Latin instare, to urge or press upon. So Romans 12:12, "instant in prayer." Wyc., prayed busily.

That he was worthy (ὅτι ἄξιός ἐστιν)

The A. V. renders ὅτι as a conjunction, that. The Rev., more correctly, takes it as a mark of quotation, besides properly rendering ἐστιν is, instead of was. Render as Rev., He is worthy that thou shouldst do this; for the best texts read παρέξῃ, the second person, thou shouldst do, instead of the third person, παρέξει, he shall do.

For he loveth our nation, and he hath built us a synagogue.
He hath built (αὐτὸς ᾠκοδόμησεν)

He is emphatic; himself, at his own expense.

A synagogue (τὴν συναγωγὴν)

The article, "the synagogue," marks the particular synagogue which these elders represented. Hence Rev., rightly, "our synagogue." "He did not merely avoid profaning the synagogue" (Bengel).

Then Jesus went with them. And when he was now not far from the house, the centurion sent friends to him, saying unto him, Lord, trouble not thyself: for I am not worthy that thou shouldest enter under my roof:
Went (ἐπορεύετο)

The imperfect tense is explained by what follows. He was going, was on the way, when he was met by the second messenger from the centurion.


Possibly kinsmen, not elders now.

Trouble (σκύλλου)

Lit., worry. See on Matthew 9:36; and Mark 5:35.

Worthy (ἱκανός)

Lit., sufficient. Compare Matthew 3:11, "worthy to bear ;" and 2 Corinthians 3:5, "not that we are sufficient (ἱκανοί), but our sufficiency (ἱκανότης) is of God." It is also used in the sense of much, many, long. See Luke 7:12; Luke 8:27, Luke 8:32; Luke 20:9; Acts 9:23.

Wherefore neither thought I myself worthy to come unto thee: but say in a word, and my servant shall be healed.
Say in a word

Lit., "say with a word."

My servant shall be healed (ἰαθήτω ὁ παῖς μοῦ)

It is strange that the Rev. should have omitted to note the imperative mood here, at least in the margin. The literal rendering is the more graphic: Let my servant be healed. Note the professional word for heal. See on Luke 6:19.

For I also am a man set under authority, having under me soldiers, and I say unto one, Go, and he goeth; and to another, Come, and he cometh; and to my servant, Do this, and he doeth it.

See on Matthew 8:9.

Set under authority (ὑπὶ ἐξουσίαν τασσόμενος)

It is not easy to render the exact force of these words. The sense of the present participle with the verb εἰμί, I am, is very subtle. The words set under are commonly understood to mean placed in a subordinate position; but this would be more accurately expressed by the perfect participle, τεταγμένος. The present participle indicates something operating daily, and the centurion is describing not his appointed position so much as his daily course of life. The word set originally means arranged, drawn up in order; so that the words might be paraphrased thus: "I am a man whose daily course of life and duty is appointed and arranged by superior authority." The centurion speaks in a figure which is well explained by Alford: "I know how to obey, being myself under authority; and I know how others obey, having soldiers under me. If then I, in my subordinate station of command, am obeyed, how much more thou, who art over all, and whom diseases serve as their Master." Just what estimate of Jesus these words imply we cannot say. It seems evident, at least, that the centurion regarded him as more than man. If that be so, it is a question whether the word man (ἀνθρωπός) may not imply more than is commonly assigned to it. Taking the Greek words in their order they may read, "For I also, a man (as compared with thee), am set under authority, having soldiers under myself. See on Matthew 8:9.

When Jesus heard these things, he marvelled at him, and turned him about, and said unto the people that followed him, I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel.
And they that were sent, returning to the house, found the servant whole that had been sick.
Whole (ὑγιαίνοντα)

See on Luke 5:31. The best texts omit that had been sick.

And it came to pass the day after, that he went into a city called Nain; and many of his disciples went with him, and much people.
The day after (ἐν τῇ ἑξῆς)

Others read ἐν τῷ ἑξῆς, soon after. So Rev. Luke's usage favors the latter.


Mentioned nowhere else in the Bible. "On the northern slope of the rugged and barren ridge of Little Hermon, immediately west of Endor, which lies in a further recess of the same range, is the ruined village of Nain. No convent, no tradition marks the spot. But, under these circumstances, the name alone is sufficient to guarantee its authenticity. One entrance alone it could have had - that which opens on the rough hillside in its downward slope to the plain. It must have been in this steep descent, as, according to Eastern custom, they 'carried out the dead man,' that, 'nigh to the gate' of the village, the bier was stopped, and the long procession of mourners stayed, and ' the young man delivered back to his mother (Stanley, "Sinai and Palestine"). "It is in striking accord with the one biblical incident in the history of Nain that renders it dear to the Christian heart, that about the only remains of antiquity are tombs. These are cut in the rock, and are situated on the hillside to the east of the village" (Thomson, "Land and Book").

Now when he came nigh to the gate of the city, behold, there was a dead man carried out, the only son of his mother, and she was a widow: and much people of the city was with her.
Carried out

The tombs were outside of the city.

And when the Lord saw her, he had compassion on her, and said unto her, Weep not.
The Lord

See on Matthew 21:3.

Saw her

Edersheim says, "Had it been in Judaea, the hired mourners and musicians would have preceded the bier; in Galilee they followed. First came the women; for, as an ancient Jewish commentary explains, woman, who brought death into our world, ought to lead the way in the funeral procession" ("Jewish Social Life").

Had compassion (ἐσπλαγχνίσθη)

From σπλάγχνα, the nobler entrails, regarded as the seat of the affections. See on pitiful, 1 Peter 3:8.

And he came and touched the bier: and they that bare him stood still. And he said, Young man, I say unto thee, Arise.

Not fearing the ceremonial defilement of contact with the dead.

The bier (σορός)

In classical Greek, originally, of a vessel for holding anything: sometimes of a cinerary urn. Here the open bier. Edersheim says "of wicker-work."

And he that was dead sat up, and began to speak. And he delivered him to his mother.
Sat up (ἀνεκάθισεν)

Compare Acts 9:40. In this in-transitive sense the word is used mostly by medical writers.

Delivered (ἔδωκεν)

Rev., gave. "For he had already ceased to belong to his mother" (Bengel). Compare Luke 9:42.

And there came a fear on all: and they glorified God, saying, That a great prophet is risen up among us; and, That God hath visited his people.
There came a fear on all (ἔλαβεν δὲ φόβος ἅπαντας)

Lit., as Rev., fear took hold on all.

And this rumour of him went forth throughout all Judaea, and throughout all the region round about.
This rumor

Rev., report: viz., of a great prophet who had vindicated his claims by raising the dead.

And the disciples of John shewed him of all these things.
And John calling unto him two of his disciples sent them to Jesus, saying, Art thou he that should come? or look we for another?
Two (δύο πινὰς)

Lit., two certain ones. Rev., in margin, certain two.

Art thou

The thou is emphatic. See on Matthew 11:3.

When the men were come unto him, they said, John Baptist hath sent us unto thee, saying, Art thou he that should come? or look we for another?
And in that same hour he cured many of their infirmities and plagues, and of evil spirits; and unto many that were blind he gave sight.
Diseases - plagues (νόσων - μαστίγων)

See on Matthew 4:23; and Mark 3:10. Marking the two classes of disease recognized in medical writings, chronic and acute.

Evil spirits (πνευμάτων πονηρῶν)

On πονηρός, evil, see Luke 3:19. It is applied to evil spirits by Luke only, with the single exception of Matthew 12:45. In accordance with its signification of evil on its active side, it is applied in medicine to that which spreads destruction or corruption; as the poison of serpents. Note, moreover, that Luke distinguishes here between disease and demoniac possession, as often. See Luke 6:17, Luke 6:18; Luke 8:2; Luke 13:32.

He gave (ἐχαρίσατο)

More is expressed by this verb than simple giving. He gave as a free, gracious, joy-giving gift. See on χάρις, favor, Luke 1:30; and compare freely give, Romans 8:32. Also, 1 Corinthians 2:12.

Then Jesus answering said unto them, Go your way, and tell John what things ye have seen and heard; how that the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, to the poor the gospel is preached.
The blind receive, etc

Better, are receiving, are walking, even while Jesus is speaking and John is in doubt.

And blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in me.
Shall not be offended (μὴ σκανδαλισθῇ)

Rev., shall find none occasion of stumbling. See on Matthew 5:29. Note also the conditional not (μὴ): "shall not find, whatever may occur."

And when the messengers of John were departed, he began to speak unto the people concerning John, What went ye out into the wilderness for to see? A reed shaken with the wind?
To see (θεάσασθαι)

Rev. is correct but awkward, to behold. The verb implies steadfast, intent gazing. See on Matthew 11:7.

But what went ye out for to see? A man clothed in soft raiment? Behold, they which are gorgeously apparelled, and live delicately, are in kings' courts.
Gorgeously apparelled (ἐν ἱματισμῷ ἐνδόξῳ)

Lit., in splendid clothing.

Live delicately (τρυφῇ ὑπάρχοντες)

Lit., are in luxury. On ὑπάρχοντες, are, see on James 2:15. On τρυφῇ, luxury, see on 2 Peter 2:13, the only other place where it occurs. Compare the kindred verb τρυφάω, to live in luxury, James 5:5.

Kings' courts (βασιλείοις)

Only here in New Testament. Often rendered palaces. Sometimes, in later Greek, applied to a capital or royal city, a royal treasury, and a royal diadem.

But what went ye out for to see? A prophet? Yea, I say unto you, and much more than a prophet.
A prophet (προφήτην)

The popular conception of a prophet is limited to his foretelling future events. This is indeed included in the term, but does not cover its meaning entirely. The word is from φημί, to speak, and πρό, before, in front of. This meaning of the preposition may have reference to time, viz., before, beforehand; or to place, viz., in front of, and so, publicly; and this latter meaning, in turn, easily runs into that of in behalf of; for. The prophet is, therefore, primarily, one who speaks standing before another, and thus forming a medium between him and the hearer. This sense runs naturally into that of instead of. Hence it is the technical term for the interpreter of a divine message. So Plato: "For this reason it is customary to appoint diviners or interpreters to be judges of the true inspiration. Some persons call them diviners, seers (μάντεις); they do not know that they are only repeaters of dark sayings and visions, and are not to be called diviners at all, but interpreters (προφῆται) of things divine" ("Timaeus," 72). Similarly of an advocate to speak for, or instead of one. The central idea of the word is, one to whom God reveals himself and through whom he speaks. The revelation may or may not relate to the future. The prophet is a forth-teller, not necessarily a foreteller. The essence of the prophetic character is immediate intercourse with God. One of the Hebrew names for "prophet," and, as some maintain, the earlier name, signified a shewer or seer. See 1 Samuel 9:10; and in 1 Corinthians 14:26-30, Paul shows that revelation stands in necessary connection with prophesying.

This is he, of whom it is written, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee.
Prepare (κατασκευάσει)

See on Luke 1:17.

Least (μικρότερος)

Lit., less. Rev., but little; or, as we might say, "comparatively little."

For I say unto you, Among those that are born of women there is not a greater prophet than John the Baptist: but he that is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he.
And all the people that heard him, and the publicans, justified God, being baptized with the baptism of John.
Justified God

Declaring, by being baptized, that God's will concerning John's baptism was right.

But the Pharisees and lawyers rejected the counsel of God against themselves, being not baptized of him.
Lawyers (νομικοὶ)

Not legal practitioners, but interpreters and doctors of the Mosaic law.

Rejected (ἠθέτησαν)

Set aside, or annulled; made it vain through their disobedience.

Against themselves (εἰς ἑαυτούς)

More strictly, with reference to themselves.

And the Lord said, Whereunto then shall I liken the men of this generation? and to what are they like?
They are like unto children sitting in the marketplace, and calling one to another, and saying, We have piped unto you, and ye have not danced; we have mourned to you, and ye have not wept.
Children (παιδίοις)

Diminutive; little children. See on Matthew 11:16.


See on Matthew 11:16.

We piped

Playing at wedding.

Mourned (ἐθρηνήσαμεν)

Rev., much better, wailed: playing at funeral.

Weep (ἐκλαύσατε)

Of audible weeping. See on Matthew 5:4. Matthew has ἐκόψασθε, beaten your breasts. See on Matthew 11:17.

For John the Baptist came neither eating bread nor drinking wine; and ye say, He hath a devil.
Bread and wine

Peculiar to Luke.

The Son of man is come eating and drinking; and ye say, Behold a gluttonous man, and a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners!
But wisdom is justified of all her children.
And one of the Pharisees desired him that he would eat with him. And he went into the Pharisee's house, and sat down to meat.
And, behold, a woman in the city, which was a sinner, when she knew that Jesus sat at meat in the Pharisee's house, brought an alabaster box of ointment,
A woman who (ἥτις)

Of that class which was, etc.

A sinner

Wyc., a sinneress. Her presence there is explained by the Oriental custom of strangers passing in and cut of a house during a meal to see and converse with the guests. Trench cites a description of a dinner at a consul's house in Damietta. "Many came in and took their places on the side-seats, uninvited and yet unchallenged. They spoke to those at table on business or the news of the day, and our host spoke freely to them" ("Parables"). Bernard beautifully says: "Thanks to thee, most blessed sinner: thou hast shown the world a safe enough place for sinners - the feet of Jesus, which spurn none, reject none, repel none, and receive and admit all. Where alone the Pharisee vents not his haughtiness, there surely the Ethiopian changes his skin, and the leopard his spots" (cit. by Trench, "Parables").

Sat (κατάκειται)

Lit., is reclining at meat: a lively change to the present tense.


See on Matthew 26:7.

And stood at his feet behind him weeping, and began to wash his feet with tears, and did wipe them with the hairs of her head, and kissed his feet, and anointed them with the ointment.
At his feet behind

The body of the guest rested on the couch; the feet were turned from the table toward the walls, and the left elbow rested on the table.

Wash (βρέχειν)

More literally and better, as Rev., wet, as with rain.

Wiped (ἐξέμασσεν)

See on Luke 5:2.

Now when the Pharisee which had bidden him saw it, he spake within himself, saying, This man, if he were a prophet, would have known who and what manner of woman this is that toucheth him: for she is a sinner.
And Jesus answering said unto him, Simon, I have somewhat to say unto thee. And he saith, Master, say on.
There was a certain creditor which had two debtors: the one owed five hundred pence, and the other fifty.
Creditor (δανειστῇ).

From δάνειον, a loan. Properly a lender of money at interest. Rev., lender. See on Luke 6:34 :.

Pence (δηνάρια)

See on Matthew 20:2.

And when they had nothing to pay, he frankly forgave them both. Tell me therefore, which of them will love him most?
Frankly forgave (ἐχαρίσατο)

Rev. omits frankly, which is implied in the verb. See on Luke 7:21.

Simon answered and said, I suppose that he, to whom he forgave most. And he said unto him, Thou hast rightly judged.
I suppose (ὑπολαμβάνω)

The verb literally means to take up by getting under. It might be rendered, accordingly, I take it.

And he turned to the woman, and said unto Simon, Seest thou this woman? I entered into thine house, thou gavest me no water for my feet: but she hath washed my feet with tears, and wiped them with the hairs of her head.
Thou gavest me no kiss: but this woman since the time I came in hath not ceased to kiss my feet.
Ceased (διέλιπεν)

Only here in New Testament. Common in medical language, meaning to be intermittent, and to discontinue giving remedies for a time.

To kiss (καταφιλοῦσα)

The compound verb has the force of kissing tenderly, caressing.

My head with oil thou didst not anoint: but this woman hath anointed my feet with ointment.
Oil (ἐλαίῳ)

In Luke 7:37, Luke 7:38, the word μύρον, liquid ointment, is used. This was the finer and costlier of the two. Christ means to say to Simon, "thou didst not anoint my head, the nobler part, with ordinary oil. She hath anointed my feet with costly ointment.

Wherefore I say unto thee, Her sins, which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much: but to whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little.
And he said unto her, Thy sins are forgiven.
And they that sat at meat with him began to say within themselves, Who is this that forgiveth sins also?
They began

Luke notes the first uprising of the thought.

Within themselves (ἐν ἑαυτοῖς)

Better, among themselves, as Rev., in margin.

Also (καὶ)

Much better as Rev., "who even forgiveth sins."

And he said to the woman, Thy faith hath saved thee; go in peace.
In peace (εἰς εἰρήνην)

Lit., into peace. See on Mark 5:34.

Vincent's Word Studies, by Marvin R. Vincent [1886].
Text Courtesy of Internet Sacred Texts Archive.

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