World Wide Study Bible

Study

a Bible passage

Click a verse to see commentary

The Rich Ruler

18 A certain ruler asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 19Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone. 20You know the commandments: ‘You shall not commit adultery; You shall not murder; You shall not steal; You shall not bear false witness; Honor your father and mother.’ ” 21He replied, “I have kept all these since my youth.” 22When Jesus heard this, he said to him, “There is still one thing lacking. Sell all that you own and distribute the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.” 23But when he heard this, he became sad; for he was very rich. 24Jesus looked at him and said, “How hard it is for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God! 25Indeed, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”

26 Those who heard it said, “Then who can be saved?” 27He replied, “What is impossible for mortals is possible for God.”

28 Then Peter said, “Look, we have left our homes and followed you.” 29And he said to them, “Truly I tell you, there is no one who has left house or wife or brothers or parents or children, for the sake of the kingdom of God, 30who will not get back very much more in this age, and in the age to come eternal life.”

 


Select a resource above

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 other obediences.

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 divine."

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 self-sacrifice.

for the kingdom of God's sake—in Mark (Mr 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." And

When the shore is won at last

Who will count the billows past?

Keble

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 Church.




Advertisements