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Coffman Commentaries on the Old and New Testament

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Luke 18

Verse 1
And he spake a parable unto them to the end that they ought always to pray, and not to faint.

Dummelow listed the lessons from this parable, thus:

(1) The duty of continual prayer; (2) the answer to prayer, persisted in, is certain; (3) in the end, God will maintain the cause of his elect against their adversaries; and (4) a warning against the failure of faith in times of seeming abandonment by God. F1

And he spake a parable ...
is literally, "And he spake also a parable ..." F2 This indicates that this is actually a part of the preceding discourse.

Ought always to pray ...
This has no reference to a ceaseless bending of the knee, or a continuation without intermission in the utterance of petitions to the Almighty, but to an attitude of unbroken fellowship with God. As Augustine said, "There is another interior prayer without intermission, and that is the longing of thy heart." F3 It was to this that Paul referred: "Pray without ceasing" (1 Thessalonians 5:17).

And not to faint ...
There is a remarkable analogy in this comparison of spiritual failure to physical fainting. Physically, men can faint from shock, disease, hunger, fear, etc.; and for a development of the application to spiritual things, see my Commentary on Hebrews, Heb. 12:3.

Verse 2
Saying, There was in a city a judge, who feared not God, and regarded not man.

Such a judge would have been one of those notorious magistrates appointed by either Herod or the Romans, and of whom Barclay said, "Unless a plaintiff had money and influence to bribe his way to a verdict, he had no hope of ever getting his case settled." F4

Feared not God and regarded not man ...
"These things go together. He that has no regard for God can be expected to have none for man." F5

Verse 3
And there was a widow in that city; and she came oft unto him, saying, Avenge me of mine adversary.

This was not a plea on the widow's part for vengeance in a vulgar sense, but a plea for justice against an enemy who had wronged her.

Verses 4, 5
And he would not for a while; but afteward he said within himself, Though I fear not God nor regard man; yet because this widow troubleth me, I will avenge her, lest she wear me out by her continual coming.

He said within himself ...
As frequently noted, one of the unique features of God's word is that it gives the truth of what men are saying inwardly.

I fear not God ... nor man ...
This evil judge was boastful and arrogant in his infidelity and disregard of all considerations except those touching his selfishness.

I will avenge her ...
As Barnes exclaimed:

How many actions are performed from the basest and lowest motives of selfishness, that have the appearance of external propriety and even goodness. F6

This shows that even a righteous deed, undertaken upon selfish and evil motives, cannot be well-pleasing to God.

Lest she wear me out ...
This means, literally, "Lest she give me a black eye"; F7 but from this, we should not conclude that "The judge supposed she might do him bodily harm." F8 A proverb known to all generations makes the destruction of one's good reputation to be "giving him a black eye," and it is clearly his reputation that concerned the judge, and not his physical safety.

Verses 6, 7, 8
And the Lord said, Hear what the unrighteous judge saith. And shall not God avenge his elect, that cry to him day and night, and yet he is longsuffering over them? I say unto you that he will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on earth?

Jesus here contrasted the unrighteous judge's hearing the widow's plea with God's hearing the prayers of his elect. Therefore, the unjust judge stands for God in the analogy. No moral problem is involved in this, because Jesus frequently used such analogies, not only to show similarities but to point up the contrast also.

The concept of a suffering and persecuted church is also evident in these verses, making this parable a prophecy of the persecutions and tribulations that should come upon the church in ages to come, looking forward to so remote a time as the Second Coming (Luke 18:8).

He is longsuffering over them ...
This is a caution against expecting a sudden answer to all prayers, no matter how persistent. As Wesley said, "God does not immediately put an end, either to the wrongs of the wicked or the sufferings of good men." F9

Shall not God avenge his elect ...
The power and wrath of the eternal God are ever against those who persecute his people. Lactantius has twenty pages of the most interesting discussions of the awful punishments, judgments, and miseries that befell the famed persecutors of the church, giving in detail the things that happened to Nero, Domitian, Decius, Valerian, Aurelian, Diocletian, etc. F10 As Dummelow said, Jesus' words here were literally fulfilled "in the calamities which overtook the Jews and the chief heathen persecutors of the Christians." F11

Shall he find faith on the earth ...?
These words are variously understood, but there seems to be a definite foretelling of the decline of faith before the end. Trench thought that:

We have other grounds for believing that the church, at that last moment, will be reduced to a little remnant; yet the point is here, not that the faithful will be few, but that the faith even of the faithful will have almost failed. F12

Wesley saw this as a statement that, when Jesus shall appear, "how few true believers will be found on earth." F13 As Lamar asked, "The JUDGE will be ready, but will the WIDOW be there?" F14

The parable of the unjust judge was to teach persistence in prayer; but Jesus immediately gave another parable to show that something more than persistence is required for prayers to be answered.

Verse 9
And he spake also this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and set all others at naught.


With the strange reversal of values which is the hallmark of evil in all ages, the people in this generation who "set others at naught" are not the careful observers of the outward forms and ceremonies of holy religion; but they are the gross sinners who "set at naught" those people who are striving to live as Christ commanded, styling them "self-righteous bigots"! Significantly, in this parable, there is no indication whatever that the publican "set at naught" the Pharisee; and those who seek the publican's reward by "setting others at naught" are on very precarious ground. It is just as easy to set others at naught because "we are not self-righteous like them" as it is to set them at naught for gross sins. Much of the comment one encounters with reference to this parable fails to note this significant fact.

Verse 10
Two men went up to the temple to pray: the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican.

The character of both classes of men represented by these two has frequently been noted in this series. For comment on "Pharisees," see my Commentary on Matthew, Matt. 3:7. The publicans were the tax collectors, particularly odious to the Jews because they were willing agents of Roman oppression; and besides that, many tax gatherers were dishonest. The very name "publican" passed into the popular vocabulary as a designation for one who was hated and despised.

Verses 11-14
The Pharisee stood and prayed thus unto himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as the rest of men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. I fast twice in the week; I give tithes of all that I get. But the publican standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote his breast, saying, God be thou merciful to me a sinner. I say unto you, This man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone that exalteth himself shall be humbled; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.

Before noting specific words and phrases in this passage, the following discussion is presented:


  1. The Contrast between the Two Men in the Temple.
    1. The Pharisee belonged to the aristocracy of his time, a member of the ruling class; and both his virtues and his sins were those of the class to which he belonged. His good points were many. He was not an adulterer, nor an extortioner, nor unjust. He avoided the outward, gross sins into which many fall. On the positive side, he was outwardly religious, as he should have been, keeping all the ceremonies of the law and paying tithes even beyond what the law required, and observing a hundred times as many fasts each year as God had commanded. He was superior to many of his own times, and also of our own times. His failure was a lack of humility, a proud and selfish arrogance having developed within him that made him unsympathetic to others. Furthermore, he had fallen into the fatal error of supposing that he had placed God in his debt, that God owed him salvation on the basis of the good deeds that he did and his outward observance of the commandments in the law.

    2. The publican, on the other hand, was a social outcast, ashamed of the part he was playing in the oppression and humiliation of his own nation by the Romans, and pitifully aware of his neglect of all sacred duties. His standing "afar off" shows that he did not consider himself worthy to stand near the lordly Pharisee, whom he no doubt considered to be a righteous man.
  2. The Contrast between the Prayers They Offered.
    1. The prayer of the Pharisee was a monologue, acknowledging no need, seeking no blessing, confessing no lack, admitting no sin, and beseeching no mercy; it was as cold and formal as an icicle. It enumerated the virtues of the Pharisee and closed with an insult cast in the direction of the publican! It showed that he had a big eye on himself, a bad eye on the publican, and no eye at all upon God! Although God was mentioned, the prayer was actually with himself, presumably rising no higher than where he stood.

    2. The prayer of the publican, on the other hand, was short, informal, and warm with the earnestness of a soul burdened with sin. It confessed his sin, besought the Lord for mercy, and was attested by the sorrow and shame that smote his breast. This was one of few prayers Jesus ever commended.
  3. The Contrast in the Results of These Prayers.
    1. The Pharisee failed to receive anything at all; after all, he had not requested anything. All of the pompous language of the Pharisee amounted to net nothing. His prayer was not merely useless and futile, but it was also an affront to God.

    2. The prayer of the publican resulted in his "justification." This is a big word which shows that God had received him, accounting him righteous to the extent this was possible under the law. It should be noted, however, that he had already enjoyed a covenant relationship with God; and, therefore, it is an abuse of this passage to make this prayer of the publican a statement of what an alien sinner should do to be saved.
  4. Lessons Drawn From These Contrasts.
    1. Humility is taught, a virtue which is so important that all of the goodness of the Pharisee could not save him without it, and all of the shame and unworthiness of the publican could not condemn him as long as he had it. People need eternally to be reminded that Jesus was born in a stable, not in a palace; his apostles were fishermen, not Pharisees; it was the common people who heard him, not the leaders; he preached not from a throne of gold or ivory, but from the hillside and a fisherman's boat; the central message of his gospel is for the poor and lowly, not for the proud and worldly; the clarion call of the ages is that with which Jesus concluded the parable, "Every one that exalteth himself shall be humbled; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted!"

    2. These teach the vanity and emptiness of self-righteousness. All people are sinners. Although it is true that some like the Pharisee are not sinners of grosser type, yet their respectability only emphasizes the sins they do have. None are righteous (Romans 3:10); all have sinned (Romans 3:23); and all human righteousnesses are "as filthy rags" (Isaiah 64:6).

    3. These teach some vital facts about prayer. A short prayer is better than a long one (Matthew 6:7,8; 23:14). Also, prayers should be directed, not to ourselves, nor to the audience, but to God. Many prayers remind one of a quotation from Barclay, describing a certain prayer as "the most eloquent prayer ever offered to a Boston audience." F15

    4. These contrasts teach that only the humble are truly great. Earth's genuine heroes are its humble souls, walking in the fear of God, lifting up holy hands in prayer. Earth's selfish and pompous overlords, ever seeking the chief seats, ever walking in the livery of pride, and ever trimming their words and deeds to accommodate what they fancy to be the spirit of the age, - such are not heroes at all, but are to be pitied. Like Shakespeare's "poor players," they strut and fret their hour upon the stage and then are heard no more. On the contrary, the humble shall be exalted. "I will make them to come and worship before thy feet" (Revelation 3:9).

      The tumult and the shouting dies. The captains and the kings depart. Still stands thine ancient sacrifice, An humble and contrite heart. F16

I fast twice a week ...
God had commanded only one day of fasting each year, on the Day of Atonement; and the Pharisees had extended this to twice a week!

I give tithes of all that I get ...
"Tithes were not due from all gains, but only from the production of the fields, and cattle." F17 The Pharisees, however, "even tithed what they bought." F18 In such things as these, one can see the extent to which they had "improved" (in their view) upon God's law!

The publican, standing afar off ...
Our English translation does not make clear the distinction between the posture assumed by the Pharisee, as contrasted with that taken by the publican. Boles noted that "STOOD (in the case of the Pharisee) in the original, means that he struck a pose, or assumed an attitude where he could be seen." F19

God be merciful ...
This is one of only two places in the New Testament where this word "propitiation" or the verb "propitiate" is used, the other being Hebrews 2:17; and, according to Vine, it has the meaning here of "be propitious to," or "merciful" to the person as the object of the verb.

Justified ...
is undoubtedly the verb spoken by Jesus which registered so indelibly in the mind of the apostle Paul, whose writings found so much use for it. We disagree with those who think that Luke, through long companionship with Paul, retrospectively injected this into Jesus' words. It is far more likely that from this Paul received his first knowledge of the word, developing it extensively in his writings.

Be thou merciful to me a sinner ...
The brevity of this prayer is astounding. Cox said:

The Pharisee's prayer is composed of thirty-five words, that of the publican eight words (Revised Version). As a rule, the deeper the feelings the fewer the words ... We should have the attitude of the publican. F20

He that exalteth himself ...
This is a maxim which Jesus repeated often. See Luke 14:11. We conclude this study of the parable with a perceptive word from Summers:

There is something a bit terrifying about this parable. There is within every person that which makes it possible for him to do the same thing the Pharisee did. He can go to the place of worship and go through the forms of worship and still go home the same person he was! F21

Verses 15, 16, 17
And they were bringing unto him also their babes, that he should touch them: but when the disciples saw it, they rebuked them. But Jesus called them unto him, saying, Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not; for to such belongeth the kingdom of God. For verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall in no wise enter therein.


This saying was commented upon under Matthew 19:13 and under Mark 10:13; and "Luke differs from Matthew only in the word which he uses for children." F22 Luke's word is "babes." See my Commentary on Matthew, my Commentary on Mark, (en loco). Summers said that the word here used for "babes" was used of "unborn and very young babies. Paul used it of Timothy who had received religious instruction from babyhood (2 Timothy 3:15)." F23

It should be pointed out here, as Lamar said, that:

There is no baptism here, and no hint of any; and I think it is unfortunate that this beautiful and tender incident was ever transferred to the arena of controversy, especially as the lesson the Saviour draws from it is of so different a character. F24

Ash said that "At this point the material unique to Luke comes to an end, and the Gospel resumes the outline found in Mark." This is not, however, strictly true; for, after recording the incident of the children being brought to Jesus, the account of the rich ruler, another prediction of his Passion, and the healing of the blind man at Jericho, Luke again resumes the narrative of two other episodes peculiar to himself, the story of Zacchaeus and the parable of the pounds. Also, there are some who believe, with good reason, that the prediction of the Passion here is not the third instance, as in the other synoptics, but a fourth, peculiar to Luke.

In the pericope before us, the harmony and agreement in the three synoptic accounts are as nearly perfect as could be imagined; but certain schools of criticism, intent on finding some disparity, have resorted to such a comment as this:

Both Matthew and Luke omit Mark's statement that Jesus was "much displeased" (with the disciples for rebuking the ones who brought the children), as well as the detail in Mark 10:16 that he embraced the children and blessed them. They hesitated to attribute the human emotions of anger and affection to the Lord of the church. F25

There is positively no way that such a comment can be true. In this comment, there is the assumption that Matthew and Luke were ashamed of Mark's statement that Jesus was "displeased," the assumption that they "changed Mark" by omitting such a word, with the necessary corollaries that (a) they had Mark before them as they wrote, and (b) that they did not consider Mark inspired, plus still another assumption, the most amazing and arrogant of all, that Matthew and Luke considered the human emotions of anger and affection to be, in some unaccountable manner, UNWORTHY of the Lord of the church! There is no need to examine all of these subjective guesses, since all of them self-destruct upon a little reflection; but as an example of their reliability, we shall note just two of them.

  1. The notion that Luke (and Matthew) considered anger and affection to be human emotions unworthy of the Lord of the church is a monstrous contradiction of Scriptural thought. The Old Testament refers to the anger of God literally hundred of times. "He is angry with the wicked every day"; and Luke recorded the parable of the slighted invitation in which the "master of the house" bears an analogy with the heavenly Father himself, saying, "The master of the house being angry," etc. (Luke 14:21); and in the parable of the pounds (Luke 19:12-27), in which the nobleman must be understood as Jesus Christ himself, the parable concludes with the words of Christ (the nobleman), "But those enemies that would not that I should reign over them, bring hither, and slay them before me!" It is as plain as the sun at perihelion at high noon on the equator that if Luke had edited Mark's Gospel to get out of it so mild a word as "displeased," he could never have recorded the two passages just cited.

  2. As for the assumption that Mark was before Luke as he wrote his Gospel, such is disproved by the fact that he left out of his Gospel some 53 verses that are in Mark, and by the further fact that when Luke mentioned his sources, it is simply inconceivable that he would have left off mentioning Mark if indeed Mark was one of his sources (Luke 1:1-5). Many of the greatest scholars who ever lived have simply been unable to see Mark as a Lucan source, among them the immortal James MacKnight. The Markan theory is not merely unproved, but unprovable.


Note: this incident has already been commented upon fully in both Matthew (Matthew 19:16f) and Mark (Mark 10:17f), and for fuller discussion see in my Commentary on Matthew and my Commentary on Mark (en loco).

Verse 18
And a certain ruler asked him, saying, Good teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?

Geldenhuys was right in declaring that:

Taken together (Matt. 19:16, and the verse before us) the complete question may have been: "Good Master, what good thing, etc." and Jesus may have replied, "Why callest thou me good and askest me about good things?" Thus the Gospels supplement one another. It is unwarranted in such cases to speak of a contradiction between them." F26

To such a comment, we are delighted to say, "Amen, and Amen!" All of the alleged contradictions in the variable synoptic accounts are of as little importance as a flyspeck on Michelangelo's MOSES! The great message of the Gospels is perfect, complete, and overwhelming. The word of God has indeed revealed to us his Christ in these precious Gospels; and the truly devout soul will be little inclined to heed the insinuations of them that make a business of finding fault with the Word.

Verse 19
And Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou me good? none is good, save one, even God.

Hobbs caught the import of these verses perfectly:

No pupil ever addressed a rabbi as "good." So the young man paid Jesus the supreme compliment; but he called him only a "teacher." Jesus reminded him that only God is good. Thus either he had used the term loosely, or else he must think of Jesus as more than a great Teacher. By subtle suggestion Jesus was leading him to think of him as deity, not simply as a great man. F27

Verse 20
Thou knowest the commandments, Do not commit adultery, Do not kill, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Honor thy father and mother.

Salvation was always, is now, and ever shall be dependent upon obedience to the commandments of God. Matthew explicitly stated this in his account, and Luke implies as much here. As Summers said, "Implicit in Jesus' answer is the meaning that to obey these commandments is to have eternal life ... This was good Jewish religious thinking." F28 In Summers' final sentence (above), however, there is the implication that, of course, "this is not Christian thinking, at all, but Jewish thinking." On the other hand, this is an eternal and invariable law. Of course, human beings being utterly unable to keep God's law perfectly, they must unite with Christ, being baptized into him; and as Christ, in Christ, they are total, perfect keepers of all God's commandments (Colossians 1:28). This does not, however, negate the principle laid down here that eternal life is directly and irrevocably related to keeping God's commandments.

Verses 21, 22
And he said, All these things have I observed from my youth up. And when Jesus heard it, he said unto him, One thing thou lackest yet: sell all that thou hast, and distribute unto the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, follow me.

Matthew has the significant question of this young ruler, "What lack I yet?" And, since that is the question that Jesus here answered, we have another example of the supplementary nature of the Gospel accounts.

Cox mentioned the "soul hunger" of this young man. "It was a case of youth asking for life, the rich seeking a treasure, hunger amidst plenty. Life was before him and wealth around him, yet he hungered." F29 Tinsley remarked that "In this particular instance, Jesus obviously thought discipleship must involve renunciation of possessions." F30 The true explanation lies much more probably, however, in the fact that this young man was called to accompany Jesus and the Twelve, perhaps as some kind of an apostle; and apostleship did require renunciation of possessions, a test that all of the Twelve met, as Peter mentioned a bit later. At any rate, it would have been the height of folly for Jesus to have invited him to "follow" in THAT company without meeting the test they all had met and passed.

The allegation that one cannot be a follower of Jesus Christ except on condition of selling and distributing all of his earthly possessions is based partially upon Jesus' words here; but it is impossible to sustain such a thesis, either from this or any other passage in the New Testament. It has just been noted that Christ's word here was to this young man, and not to all; and the reason for this requirement in his case is easily discernible. In order to be an apostle, or to accompany Jesus, as this young man was invited to do, it was absolutely necessary to renounce all earthly possessions; but such was never made a universal requirement of Christianity (see my Commentary on Matthew, 19:21).

Lamar was correct in the deduction which he made from this, saying:

Our Saviour, in all these wonderful lessons about worldly goods, means nothing tending to the disorganizing of society, or to the undervaluing of earthly riches, but to infuse a principle that shall uplift them to higher uses, and consecrate them to worthier objects. F31

Verse 23
But when he heard these things, he became exceedingly sorrowful; for he was very rich.

In turning away from the Master, this young man not only made the wrong decision regarding his eternal state, but alas with regard to his earthly state. He would have been far better off in this present world if he had obeyed Jesus. The whole Jewish nation was, within his lifetime, to go down to utter ruin and destruction, a calamity that no Christian suffered. The deepest instincts of his heart were such that he knew the tragedy of his decision, hence the sorrow.

Verse 24
And Jesus seeing him said, How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God!

Abraham, Job, David, and most of the mighty patriarchs of Israel were men of very great wealth; yet Jesus affirmed that these shall be in the everlasting kingdom (Luke 13:28). Moreover, the inspired evangelist Philip, and other distinguished persons in the New Testament church, were men of extensive means; and, therefore, what Jesus taught here is not the impossibility of a rich man's being saved, but the difficulty of it. Wealth itself is "unrighteous," no matter how innocently it might have been acquired, being inherently charged with temptations few find the strength to overcome. See under Luke 16:9.

Verse 25
For it is easier for a camel to enter in through a needle's eye, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.

The sheer impossibility of a camel going through the eye of a needle forces the deduction that this is a hyperbole, employed to stress the difficulty of a rich man's being saved.

Verse 26
And they that heard it said, Then who can be saved?

Those who asked this rightly understood the impossibility of the camel going through the needle's eye. Jesus at once softened the remark.

Verse 27
But he said, The things which are impossible with men are possible with God.

Jesus would shortly show his disciples an example of a rich man entering the kingdom, in the instance of the rich tax collector, Zacchaeus of Jericho (Luke 18:19:1-10). Significantly, in his case, Jesus did not require that Zacchaeus sell all that he had and distribute it to the poor.

Verses 28, 29, 30
And Peter said, Lo, we have left our very own, and followed thee. And he said unto them, Verily I say unto you, There is no man that hath left house, or wife, or brethren, or parents, or children, for the kingdom of God's sake, who shall not receive manifold more in this time, and in the world to come eternal life.

Barker thought that "Peter self-righteously reminded Jesus of the sacrifices the disciples had made," F32 but nothing in the New Testament justifies such a suggestion. Peter's question was truthful and fair; and Jesus honored it by answering it.

Manifold more in this time ...
Was Jesus here thinking of the sorrowful young man who had just departed? What was true of him is true of all. There is "more" in following Jesus, even in this present time, more of all that really matters.

And in the world to come, eternal life ...!
Here in these words is the climax of the episode. The Christian pilgrimage is a quest for everlasting life, a benefit that Jesus dogmatically promised. Who but God could make such a promise? There is no way to reconcile such promises of Jesus with any conception of him that fails to include his eternal power and Godhead; and it is who Jesus is, and was, and is forever, that endows such a glorious promise with the validity that has commended it to a hundred generations of believers. This epic promise is given in this same context by all three synoptics (19:29; Mark 10:30), the same being the tonic chord and resolution of the whole episode. One may only be astounded at the failure of some commentators even to mention this key promise. Hunting pseudocons is so much more interesting!

Verses 31-34
And he took unto him the twelve, and said unto them, Behold, we go up to Jerusalem, and all the things that are written through the prophets shall be accomplished unto the Son of man. For he shall be delivered up unto the Gentiles, and shall be mocked, and shamefully treated, and spit upon: and they shall scourge and kill him: and on the third day he shall rise again. And they understood none of these things; and this saying was hid from them, and they perceived not the things that were said.


All the things that were written ...
Some 333 prophecies of the Old Testament were fulfilled in Christ, and these included many prophecies of his sufferings, rejection, and death, as well as of his resurrection.

That are written through the prophets ...
Jesus kept the distinction ever in view that it was not the prophets who wrote the Holy Scriptures, but God who wrote them "through the prophets." We believe the same thing is true of the words of the sacred authors of the New Testament; and this writer, in a lifetime of reading, has found nothing whatever in the insinuations of those who abuse the sacred New Testament, in their assumption that it was written by fallible MEN, that justifies any relaxing of this confidence. In Matthew 1:22; 2:5; 2:17, etc., throughout the Gospel, there are many texts in which this same concept of God's writing "through the prophets" is emphatically stated.

For a list of things Jesus prophesied of himself, see under Luke 9:22,45; 13:33, and parallels, in Matthew and Mark. Geldenhuys saw this passage as the FOURTH announcement of Jesus' Passion. "For the fourth time now the Saviour announces that he will be delivered to suffer and to die" F33 (this verse, plus the three cited above). This makes it certain that one of the four Passion predictions recorded by Luke is peculiar to this Gospel, since Matthew and Mark each have three.

The third day ...
See the article in my Commentary on Mark on "What Day Was Jesus Crucified?" for a full discussion of the meaning of this expression.

Summers was surely right in perceiving this passage as an identification of Jesus with "the Suffering Servant section of Isaiah." F34 He also denied any necessity of supposing that the details in view here were retrospectively included in Luke after the events occurred. We are face to face here with genuine prophecy.

This saying was hidden from them ...
"It was not hidden in that Jesus did not want them to understand. It was hidden because of their reluctance to accept it." F35

Verse 35
And it came to pass as he drew nigh to Jericho, a certain blind man sat by the wayside begging.


There were two Jericho's in New Testament times, and this incident took place between the villages, where, of course, a beggar would have stationed himself to take advantage of more traffic; thus it was as Jesus was leaving one Jericho and as he "drew nigh" to entering the other. F36 See more under Matthew 20:29 and Mark 10:46.

Verses 36, 37
And hearing a multitude going by, he inquired what this meant. And they told him that Jesus of Nazareth passeth by. And he cried, saying, Jesus, thou Son of David, have mercy on me.

A multitude going by ...
This was a great throng of people on the way up to Jerusalem for the Passover.

Thou Son of David ...
The messianic connotation of this title cannot be denied, the same being the favorite designation of the long-awaited Messiah. The sad irony in view here is that this man who was physically blind had the spiritual perception to recognize Jesus as the Messiah. The Pharisees (a part of every audience, or crowd) had physical eyesight but could not see the Lord as the Messiah; thus here is an example of the blind seeing and the seeing blind, as stated by Jesus in John 9:39. And again, there is a startling affinity between Luke and John.

Verses 38, 39
And they that went before rebuked him, that he should hold his peace: but he cried out the more a great deal, Thou Son of David have mercy on me.

Our guess is that it was the Pharisees who objected to all the shouting which hailed Jesus as the long-expected Messiah. There cannot fail to be an element of humor in this blind man shouting to high heaven that here indeed was the Messiah, and the lordly Pharisees trying to hush him up! There was no way that they could silence the blind man nor prevent the ages from hailing Christ as the Messiah.

Verses 40, 41
And Jesus stood, and commanded him to be brought unto him: and when he was come near, he asked him, What wilt thou that I should do unto thee? And he said, Lord, that I may receive my sight. And Jesus said unto him, Receive thy sight: thy faith hath made thee whole.

Grimour's terse comment here is that "Mark's graphic details are omitted," F37 which, of course, is proof that Luke was not copying Mark, nor is there the slightest hard evidence that Luke ever saw the Gospel of Mark. If he had, why would those beautiful details in Mark have been omitted?

Thy faith hath made thee whole ...
This means that Jesus gave salvation to this man as well as restoring his sight. That the multitude so understood it, and that they also recognized that only God could do such a thing, is implicit in the statement with which the paragraph closes, that the people "followed, glorifying God."

Verses 42, 43
And immediately he received his sight, and followed him, glorifying God: and all the people, when they saw it, gave praise to God.

Praising God ...
is twice repeated in this single verse; and, as these are the inspired author's words, it is clear that Luke intended to identify Jesus as one with Almighty God. This is one of the theological overtones of the passage that justifies Summers' comment that "such overtones were more commonly associated with John's Gospel." F38 Thus, as Robertson affirmed, "The Christ of Paul and of John is in the synoptic Gospels. In all essentials, the picture is the same in Luke as in John." F39

Footnotes for Luke 18
1: J. R. Dummelow, Commentary on the Holy Bible (New York: The Macmillan Company, 1937), p. 763.
2: Charles L. Childers, Beacon Bible Commentary (Kansas City, Missouri: Beacon Hill Press, 1964), p. 576.
3: Quoted by Richard C. Trench, Notes on the Parables of Our Lord (Old Tappan, New Jersey: Fleming H. Revell Company, 1953), p. 485.
4: William Barclay, The Gospel of Luke (Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, 1956), p. 230.
5: Albert Barnes, Notes on the New Testament (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Book House, 1954), p. 126.
6: Ibid.
7: Everett F. Harrison, Wycliffe Bible Commentary (Chicago: Moody Press, 1962), p. 250.
8: George R. Bliss, An American Commentary on the New Testament (Valley Forge: The Judson Press), p. 266.
9: John Wesley, Notes on the New Testament (Naperville, Illinois: Alec. R. Allenson, Inc. 1950), p. 271.
10: Lactantius, "Of the Manner in Which the Persecutors Died". The Ante-Nicene Fathers (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1951). Vol. VII. pp. 301-322.
11: J. R. Dummelow, op. cit., p. 763.
12: Richard C. Trench, op. cit., p. 493.
13: John Wesley, op. cit., p. 271.
14: J. S. Lamar, The New Testament Commentary (Cincinnati, Ohio: Chase and Hall, 1877), Vol. II, p. 224.
15: William Barclay, op. cit., p. 232.
16: Rudyard Kipling, The Recessional.
17: George R. Bliss, op. cit., p. 269.
18: Donald G. Miller, The Layman's Bible Commentary (Richmond, Virginia: The John Knox Press, 1959), p. 129.
19: H. Leo Boles, Commentary on Luke (Nashville: Gospel Advocate Company, 1940), p. 343.
20: Frank L. Cox, According to Luke, (Austin, Texas: Firm Foundation Publishing House, 1941), p. 55.
21: Ray Summers, Commentary on Luke (Waco, Texas: Word Books, Publisher, 1974), p. 210.
22: Charles L. Childers, op. cit., p. 579.
23: Ray Summers, op. cit., p. 211.
24: J. S. Lamar, op. cit., p. 226.
25: S. MacLean Gilmour, The Interpreter's Bible (New York: Abingdon Press, 1952), Vol. VIII, p. 311.
26: Norval Geldenhuys, Commentary on the Gospel of Luke (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1951), p. 461.
27: Herschel H. Hobbs, An Exposition of the Gospel of Luke (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Book House, 1966), p. 262.
28: Ray Summers, op. cit., p. 213.
29: Frank L. Cox, op. cit., p. 56.
30: E. J. Tinsley, The Gospel According to Luke (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1969), p. 169.
31: J. S. Lamar, op. cit., p. 229.
32: William P. Barker, As Matthew Saw the Master (Old Tappan, New Jersey: Fleming H. Revell Company, 1964), p. 96.
33: Norval Geldenhuys, op. cit., p. 463.
34: Ray Summers, op. cit., p. 219.
35: Ibid., p. 220.
36: Everett F. Harrison, op. cit., p. 254. Also see A. T. Robertson, op. cit., p. 149 (footnote).
37: S. MacLean Gilmour, op. cit., p. 319.
38: Ray Summers, op. cit., p. 221.
39: A. T. Robertson op. cit., p. 258.
40: F. F. Bruce, Answers to Questions (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House, 1972), p. 56.
41: Richard C. Trench, op. cit., p. 451.
42: H. Leo Boles, Commentary on Luke (Nashville: The Gospel Advocate Company, 1972), p. 319.
43: Ibid., p. 324.
44: Donald G. Miller, The Layman's Bible Commentary (Richmond, Virginia: John Knox Press, 1971), p. 124.
45: Norval Geldenhuys, op. cit., p. 427.
46: Albert Barnes, op. cit., p. 118.
47: Frank L. Cox, op. cit., p. 51.
48: For an extensive development of these and other analogies, see Richard C. Trench, op. cit., pp. 470-475.
49: J. S. Lamar, op. cit., p. 182.
50: J. R. Dummelow, op. cit., p. 755.
51: Charles L. Childers, op. cit., p. 531.
52: John Wesley, op. cit., p. 252.
53: J. R. Dummelow, op. cit., p. 755.
54: William Barclay, op. cit, p. 175.
55: Charles L. Childers, op. cit., p. 533.
56: Norval Geldenhuys, op. cit., p. 369.
57: H. Leo Boles, op. cit., p. 267.
58: Ibid, p. 199.

Copyright Statement
James Burton Coffman Commentaries reproduced by permission of Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. All other rights reserved.

Bibliography Information
Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on Luke 18". "Coffman Commentaries on the Old and New Testament". <>. Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.  


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