Parable of the Importunate Widow.
1-5. always—Compare Lu 18:7, "night and day."
faint—lose heart, or slacken.
2. feared not … neither
regarded—defying the vengeance of God and despising the
opinion of men.
widow—weak, desolate, defenseless
5:5, which is taken from
3. came—kept coming. See Lu 18:5, "her continual coming."
Avenge me—that is, rid me of the
5. continual coming—coming for ever.
6-8. the Lord—a name expressive of the
authoritative style in which He interprets His own parable.
7. shall not God—not unjust, but the
infinitely righteous Judge.
avenge—redeem from oppression.
his own elect—not like this widow, the
object of indifference and contempt, but dear to Him as the apple of
the eye (Zec
cry day and night—whose every cry
enters into the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth (Jas 5:4), and how much more their incessant and
bear long with them—rather, "in their
case," or "on their account" (as) Jas 5:7, "for it"), [Grotius, De Wette,
8. speedily—as if pained at the long
delay, impatient for the destined moment to interpose. (Compare Pr 29:1.)
Nevertheless, &c.—that is, Yet ere
the Son of man comes to redress the wrongs of His Church, so low will
the hope of relief sink, through the length of the delay, that one will
be fain to ask, Will He find any faith of a coming avenger left on the
earth? From this we learn: (1) That the primary and
historical reference of this parable is to the Church in its
widowed, desolate, oppressed, defenseless condition during the
present absence of her Lord in the heavens; (2) That in these
circumstances importunate, persevering prayer for deliverance is the
Church's fitting exercise; (3) That notwithstanding every encouragement
to this, so long will the answer be delayed, while the need of relief
continues the same, and all hope of deliverance will have nearly died
out, and "faith" of Christ's coming scarcely to be found. But the
application of the parable to prayer in general is so obvious as
to have nearly hidden its more direct reference, and so precious that
one cannot allow it to disappear in any public and historical
Lu 18:9-14. Parable of the
Pharisee and the Publican.
11, 12. stood—as the Jews in prayer
God, &c.—To have been kept from
gross iniquities was undoubtedly a just cause of thankfulness to God;
but instead of the devoutly humble, admiring frame which this should
inspire, the Pharisee arrogantly severs himself from the rest of
mankind, as quite above them, and, with a contemptuous look at the poor
publican, thanks God that he has not to stand afar off like him, to
hang down his head like a bulrush and beat his breast like him. But
these are only his moral excellencies. His religious
merits complete his grounds for congratulation. Not confining himself
to the one divinely prescribed annual fast (Le 16:29), he was not behind the most rigid, who
fasted on the second and fifth days of every week [Lightfoot], and gave the tenth not only of what the
law laid under tithing, but of "all his gains." Thus, besides doing
all his duty, he did works of supererogation; while sins
to confess and spiritual wants to be supplied he seems to have felt
none. What a picture of the Pharisaic character and religion!
13. standing afar off—as unworthy to
draw near; but that was the way to get near (Ps 34:18; Isa
would not lift up—blushing and ashamed
to do so (Ezr 9:6).
smote, &c.—kept smiting; for
23:48), and self-reproach
be merciful—"be propitiated," a very
unusual word in such a sense, only once else used in the New Testament,
in the sense of "making reconciliation" by sacrifice (Heb 2:17). There may therefore, be some
allusion to this here, though not likely.
a sinner—literally, "the
sinner"; that is, "If ever there was one, I am he."
14. rather than the other—The meaning
is, "and not the other"; for the Pharisee was not seeking
justification, and felt no need of it. This great law of the Kingdom of
God is, in the teaching of Christ, inscribed, as in letters of gold,
over its entrance gate. And in how many different forms is it repeated
(Ps 138:6; 147:6; Lu 1:53). To be self-emptied, or, "poor
in spirit," is the fundamental and indispensable preparation for the
reception of the "grace which bringeth salvation": wherever this
exists, the "mourning" for it which precedes "comfort" and the earnest
"hungerings and thirstings after righteousness" which are rewarded by
the "fulness" of it, will, as we see here, be surely found. Such,
therefore, and such only, are the justified ones (Job 33:27, 28; Ps 34:18; Isa 57:15).
Lu 18:15-17. Little Children
Brought to Christ.
15. infants—showing that some, at least,
of those called in Matthew (Mt 19:13)
and Mark (Mr 10:13)
simply "little" or "young children," were literally "babes."
touch them—or, as more fully in
19:13), "put His hands on
them and pray," or invoke a "blessing" on them (Mr 10:16), according to venerable custom (Ge 48:14,
rebuked them—Repeatedly the disciples
thus interposed to save annoyance and interruption to their Master;
but, as the result showed, always against the mind of Christ
(Mt 15:23; Lu 18:39, 40). Here, it is plain from our Lord's
reply, that they thought the intrusion a useless one, as infants
were not capable of receiving anything from Him. His ministrations were
for grown people.
16. But Jesus—"much displeased,"
says Mark (Mr 10:14);
and invaluable addition.
the little children to come unto Me"—"AND FORBID THEM NOT," is the important addition of
19:14) and Mark (Mr 10:14). What words are these from the lips of
Christ! The price of them is above rubies. But the reason
assigned, "For of such is the Kingdom of
God," or "of heaven," as in Mt 19:14, completes the previous information here
conveyed; especially as interpreted by what immediately follows: "And He took them up in His arms, put His hands upon
them, and blessed them" (Mr 10:16). It is surely not to be conceived that
all our Lord meant was to inform us, that seeing grown people
must become childlike in order to be capable of the Kingdom of God,
therefore they should not hinder infants from coming to Him, and
therefore He took up and blessed the infants themselves. Was it
not just the grave mistake of the disciples that infants should not be
brought to Christ, because only grown people could profit by Him, which
"much displeased" our Lord? And though He took the irresistible
opportunity of lowering their pride of reason, by informing them that,
in order to enter the Kingdom, "instead of the children first
becoming like them, they must themselves become like the children"
[Richter in Stier], this was but by the way; and, returning to
the children themselves, He took them up in His gracious arms,
put His hands upon them and blessed them, for no conceivable reason but
to show that they were thereby made capable, AS INFANTS, of the Kingdom of God. And if so,
then "Can any man forbid water that these should not be baptized
which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we?" (Ac 10:47). But such application of the baptismal
water can have no warrant here, save where the infants have been
previously brought to Christ Himself for His benediction, and
only as the sign and seal of that benediction.
Lu 18:18-30. The Rich Young
Ruler and Discourse Thereon.
This case presents some remarkable points. (1) The
man was of irreproachable moral character; and this amidst all the
temptations of youth, for he was a "young man" (Mt 19:22), and wealth, for "he was very
rich" (Lu 18:23; Mr 10:22). (2) But restless notwithstanding, his
heart craves eternal life. (3) Unlike the "rulers," to whose class he
belonged (Lu 18:18),
he so far believed in Jesus as to be persuaded He could authoritatively
direct him on this vital point. (4) So earnest is he that he comes
"running" and even "kneeling before Him," and that when He was gone
forth into the war (Mr 10:17)—the high-road, by this time
crowded with travellers to the passover; undeterred by the virulent
opposition of the class he belonged to as a "ruler" and by the shame he
might be expected to feel at broaching such a question in the hearing
of a crowd and on the open road.
19. Why, &c.—Did our Lord mean then
to teach that God only ought to be called "good?" Impossible, for that
had been to contradict all Scripture teaching, and His own, too (Ps 112:5; Mt 25:21; Tit 1:8). Unless therefore we are to ascribe
captiousness to our Lord, He could have had but one object—to
raise the youth's ideas of Himself, as not to be classed merely
with other "good masters," and declining to receive this title apart
from the "One" who is essentially and only "good." This indeed is
but distantly hinted; but unless this is seen in the background
of our Lord's words, nothing worthy of Him can be made out of them.
(Hence, Socinianism, instead of having any support here, is only
baffled by it).
20. Thou knowest, &c.—Matthew (Mt 19:17) is more complete here: "but if
thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments. He saith unto him,
Which—as if he had said, Point me out one of them which I have
not kept?—"Jesus said, Thou shalt," &c. (Mt 19:17, 18). Our Lord purposely confines
Himself to the second table, which He would consider easy to
keep, enumerating them all—for in Mark (Mr 10:19), "Defraud not" stands for the
tenth (else the eighth is twice repeated). In Matthew (Mt 19:19) the sum of this second
table of the law is added, "Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself,"
as if to see if he would venture to say he had kept that.
21. All these, &c.—"what lack I
yet?" adds Matthew (Mt 19:20).
Ah! this gives us a glimpse of his heart. Doubtless he was perfectly
sincere; but something within whispered to him that his keeping
of the commandments was too easy a way of getting to heaven. He
felt something beyond this to be necessary; after keeping all the
commandments he was at a loss to know what that could be; and he came
to Jesus just upon that point. "Then," says Mark (Mr 10:21), "Jesus beholding him loved him," or
"looked lovingly upon him." His sincerity, frankness, and nearness to
the kingdom of God, in themselves most winning qualities, won our
Lord's regard even though he turned his back upon Him—a lesson to
those who can see nothing lovable save in the regenerate.
22. lackest … one thing—Ah! but
that a fundamental, fatal lack.
sell, &c.—As riches were his idol,
our Lord, who knew if from the first, lays His great authoritative
grasp at once upon it, saying, "Now give Me up that, and all is right."
No general direction about the disposal of riches, then, is here given,
save that we are to sit loose to them and lay them at the feet of Him
who gave them. He who does this with all he has, whether rich or poor,
is a true heir of the kingdom of heaven.
23-25. was very sorrowful—Matthew (Mt 19:22) more fully, "went away
sorrowful"; Mark still more, "was sad" or "sullen" at that saying, and
"went away grieved." Sorry he was, very sorry, to part with Christ; but
to part with his riches would have cost him a pang more. When Riches or
Heaven, on Christ's terms, were the alternative, the result showed to
which side the balance inclined. Thus was he shown to lack the one
all-comprehensive requirement of the law—the absolute
subjection of the heart to God, and this want vitiated all his
24. when Jesus saw—Mark says (Mr 3:34), He "looked round about"—as
if first following the departing youth with His eye—"and saith
unto His disciples."
How hardly, &c.—with what
difficulty. In Mark (Mr 10:24) an
explanation is added, "How hard is it for them that trust in
riches," &c.—that is, with what difficulty is this idolatrous
trust conquered, without which they cannot enter; and this is
introduced by the word "children"—sweet diminutive of affection
and pity (Joh 21:5).
25. easier for a camel, &c.—a
proverbial expression denoting literally a thing impossible, but
figuratively, very difficult.
26, 27. For, &c.—"At that rate none
can be saved": "Well, it does pass human power, but not
28-30. Lo, &c.—in the simplicity of
his heart (as is evident from the reply), conscious that the required
surrender had been made, and generously taking in his brethren with
him—"we"; not in the spirit of the young ruler. "All these
have I kept,"
left all—"The workmen's little is as
much his "all" as the prince's much" [Bengel]. In Matthew (Mt 19:27) he adds, "What shall we have
therefore?" How shall it fare with us?
29. There is no man, &c.—graciously
acknowledging at once the completeness and the acceptableness of the
surrender as a thing already made.
house, &c.—The specification is
still more minute in Matthew and Mark, (Mt 19:27; Mr 10:29) to take in every form of
for the kingdom of God's sake—in Mark
10:29), "for MY sake and the Gospel's." See on Lu 6:22.
30. manifold more in this present
time—in Matthew (Mt 19:29)
"an hundredfold," to which Mark (Mr 10:30) gives this most interesting addition,
"Now in this present time, houses, and brethren, and sisters, and
mothers, and children, and lands, with persecutions." We have here the
blessed promise of a reconstruction of all human relationships and
affections on a Christian basis and in a Christian state, after being
sacrificed, in their natural form, on the altar of love to Christ.
This He calls "manifold more"—"an hundredfold more"—than
what they sacrificed. Our Lord was Himself the first to exemplify this
new adjustment of His own relationships. (See on Mt 12:49, 50; and 2Co 6:14-18.)
But this "with persecutions"; for how could such a transfer take place
without the most cruel wrenches to flesh and blood? but the persecution
would haply follow them into their new and higher circle, breaking that
up too! But best of all, "in the world to come life everlasting."
When the shore is won at last
Who will count the billows past?
These promises are for every one who forsakes his all for
Christ. But in Matthew (Mt 19:28)
this is prefaced by a special promise to the Twelve: "Verily I
say unto you, That ye which have followed Me in the Regeneration, when
the Son of man shall sit in the throne of His glory, ye also shall sit
on twelve thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel." Ye who have now
adhered to Me shall, in the new kingdom, rule, or give law to, the
great Christian world, here set forth in Jewish dress as the twelve
tribes, presided over by the twelve apostles on so many judicial
thrones. In this sense certainly the promise has been illustriously
fulfilled [Calvin, Grotius, Lightfoot,
&c.]. But if the promise refers to the yet future glory (as may be
thought from Lu 22:28-30, and as most take it), it points to the
highest personal distinction of the first founders of the Christian
Lu 18:31-34. Fuller
Announcement of His Approaching Death and Resurrection.
(See on Mr 10:32-34.)
31. all written by the prophets concerning the Son
of man … be accomplished—showing how Christ Himself
read, and would have us to read, the Old Testament, in which some
otherwise evangelical interpreters find no prophecies, or
virtually none, of the sufferings of the Son of man.
34. understood none, &c.—The
Evangelist seems unable to say strongly enough how entirely hidden from
them at that time was the sense of these exceeding plain
statements: no doubt to add weight to their subsequent testimony, which
from this very circumstance was prodigious, and with all the
Lu 18:35-43. Blind Man
In Mt 20:29-34, they are two, as in the case of
the Demoniac of Gadara. In Matthew and Mark (Mr 10:46-52) the occurrence is connected with
Christ's departure from Jericho; in Luke with His
approach to it. Many ways of accounting for these slight
divergences of detail have been proposed. Perhaps, if we knew all
the facts, we should see no difficulty; but that we have been left
so far in the dark shows that the thing is of no moment any way. One
thing is plain, there could have been no collusion among the authors of
these Gospels, else they would have taken care to remove these "spots
on the sun."
38. son of David, &c.—(See on Mt 12:23).
39. rebuked, &c.—(See on Lu 18:15).
so much the more—that
importunity so commended in the Syrophenician woman, and so
often enjoined (Lu 11:5-13; 18:1-8).
40. commanded, &c.—Mark (Mr 10:49) has this interesting addition:
"And they call the blind man, saying unto him, Be of good comfort,
rise, He calleth thee"—just as one earnestly desiring an
interview with some exalted person, but told by one official after
another that it is vain to wait, as he will not succeed (they know it),
yet persists in waiting for some answer to his suit, and at length the
door opens, and a servant appears, saying, "You will be
admitted—he has called you." And are there no other suitors to
Jesus who sometimes fare thus? "And he, casting away his
garment"—how lively is this touch, evidently of an eye-witness,
expressive of his earnestness and joy—"came to Jesus" (Mr 10:49,
41-43. What wilt thou, &c.—to try
them; to deepen their present consciousness of need; and to draw out
their faith in Him. Lord "Rabboni" (Mr 10:51); an emphatic and confiding exclamation.
(See on Joh 20:16.)