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Home > Commentaries > Barnes' Notes > Luke > Chapter 11

Barnes' Notes on the New Testament

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Verse 1. As he was praying. Luke has taken notice of our Saviour's praying often. Thus, at his baptism Luke 3:21; in the wilderness (Luke 5:16); before the appointment of the apostles, he continued all night in prayer (Luke 6:12); he was alone praying (Luke 9:18); his transfiguration also took place when he went up to pray Luke 9:28,29.

Teach us to Pray. Probably they had been struck with the excellency and fervour of his prayers, and, recollecting that John had taught his disciples to pray, they asked him also to teach them. We learn, therefore--

1st. That the gifts and graces of others should lead us to desire the same.

2nd. That the true method of praying can be learned only by our being properly taught. Indeed, we cannot pray acceptably at all unless God shall teach us how to pray.

3rd. That it is proper for us to meditate beforehand what we are to ask of God, and to arrange our thoughts, that we may not come thoughtlessly into his presence.

Verses 2-4. See Barnes "Matthew 6:9"; See Barnes "Matthew 6:10"; See Barnes "Matthew 6:11"; See Barnes "Matthew 6:12"; See Barnes "Matthew 6:13"

Verse 2. No Barnes text on this verse.

{a} "Our Father" Matthew 6:9

Verse 3. See Barnes "Matthew 6:9"; See Barnes "Matthew 6:10"; See Barnes "Matthew 6:11"; See Barnes "Matthew 6:12"; See Barnes "Matthew 6:13"

No Barnes text on this verse.

{1} "day by day" or, "for the day"

Verse 4. For we also forgive, &c. This is somewhat different from the expression in Matthew, though the sense is the same. The idea is, that unless we forgive others, God will not forgive us; and unless we come to him really forgiving all others, we cannot expect pardon. It does not mean that by forgiving others we deserve forgiveness ourselves, or merit it, but that this is a disposition or state of mind without which God cannot consistently pardon us.

Everyone that is indebted to us. Every one that has injured us. This does not refer to pecuniary transactions, but to offences similar to those which we have committed against God, and for which we ask forgiveness. Besides the variations in the expressions in this prayer, Luke has omitted the doxology, or close, altogether; and this shows that Jesus did not intend that we should always use just this form, but that it was a general direction how to pray; or, rather, that we were to pray for these things, though not always using the same words.

{b} "for we also forgive everyone" Mark 11:25,26.

Verses 5-7. And he said unto them, &c. Jesus proceeds to show that, in order to obtain the blessing, it was necessary to persevere in asking for it. For this purpose he introduces the case of a friend's asking bread of another for one who had come to him unexpectedly. His design is solely to show the necessity of being importunate or persevering in prayer to God.

At midnight. A time when it would be most inconvenient for his friend to help him; an hour when he would naturally be in bed and his house shut.

Three loaves. There is nothing particularly denoted by the number three in this place. Jesus often threw in such particulars merely to fill up the story, or to preserve the consistency of it.

My children are with me in bed. This does not necessarily mean that they were in the same bed with him, but that they were all in bed, the house was still, the door was shut, and it was troublesome for him to rise at that time of night to accommodate him. It should be observed, however, that the customs of Orientals differ in this respect from our own. Among them it is not uncommon--indeed it is the common practice--for a whole family--parents, children, and servants--to sleep in the same room. See (The Land and the Book, vol. i. p. 180). This is not to be applied to God, as if it were troublesome to him to be sought unto, or as if he would ever reply to a sinner in that manner. All that is to be applied to God in this parable is simply that it is proper to persevere in prayer. As a man often gives because the request is repeated, and as one is not discouraged because the favour that he asks of his neighbour is delayed, so God often answers us after long and importunate requests.

Verse 6. No Barnes text on this verse.

{2} "in his journey", or "out of his way"

Verse 7. No Barnes text on this verse.

Verse 8. I tell you. The Latin Vulgate here adds, "if he shall continue knocking." Though this is not in the Greek, yet it is indispensable that it should be understood in order to the sense. Knocking once would not denote importunity, but it was because he continued knocking.

His importunity. His troublesome perseverance; his continuing to disturb the man, and refusing to take any denial. The word importunity denotes perseverance in an object, without any regard to time, place, or circumstances--an improper perseverance. By this the man was influenced. Rather than be disturbed, he would rise and give what was asked. This is to be applied to God in no other sense than that he often hears prayers and grants blessings even long after they appear to be unanswered or withheld. He does not promise to give blessings at once. He promises only that he will do it, or will answer prayer. But he often causes his people long to wait. He tries their faith. He leaves them to persevere for months or years, until they feel entirely their dependence on him, until they see that they can obtain the blessing in no other way, and until they are prepared to receive it. Often they are not prepared to receive it when they ask it at first. They may be proud, or have no just sense of their dependence, or they would not value the blessing, or it may at that time not be best for them to obtain it. But let no one despair. If the thing is for our good, and if it is proper that it should be granted, God will give it. Let us first ask aright; let us see that our minds are in a proper state; let us feel our need of the blessing; let us inquire whether God has promised such a blessing, and then let us persevere until God gives it. Again: men, when they ask anything of God, often give over seeking. They go once, and if it is not granted they are discouraged. It is not so when we ask anything of men. Then we persevere; we take no denial; we go again, and press the matter till we obtain it. So we should of God. We should go again and again, until the prayer is heard, and God grants what we ask of him.

{c} "yet, because of his importunity" Luke 18:1-8.

Verses 9-12. See Barnes "Matthew 7:7", See Barnes "Matthew 7:8", See Barnes "Matthew 7:9", See Barnes "Matthew 7:10", See Barnes "Matthew 7:11"

Verse 9. No Barnes text on this verse.

{d} "Ask, and it shall" Matthew 7:7; 21:22; John 15:7; James 1:5; John 3:22

Verses 9-12. See Barnes "Matthew 7:7", See Barnes "Matthew 7:8", See Barnes "Matthew 7:9", See Barnes "Matthew 7:", See Barnes "Matthew 7:11"

Verse 10. No Barnes text on this verse.

Verses 9-12. See Barnes "Matthew 7:7", See Barnes "Matthew 7:8", See Barnes "Matthew 7:9", See Barnes "Matthew 7:", See Barnes "Matthew 7:11"

Verse 11. No Barnes text on this verse.

Verses 9-12. See Barnes "Matthew 7:7", See Barnes "Matthew 7:8", See Barnes "Matthew 7:9", See Barnes "Matthew 7:", See Barnes "Matthew 7:11"

Verse 12. A scorpion. See Barnes "Luke 10:19". Dr. Thomson (The Land and the Book, vol. i. p. 379) says:

"There is no imaginable likeness between an egg and the ordinary black scorpion of this country, neither in colour nor size, nor, when the tail is extended, in shape; but old writers speak of a white scorpion, and such a one, with the tail folded up, as in specimens of fossil trilobites, would not look unlike a small egg. Perhaps the contrast, however, refers only to the different properties of the egg and the scorpion, which is sufficiently emphatic."
Pliny (N. H., xi. 25) says that in Judea the scorpions are about the size of an egg, and not unlike one in shape.

{3} "offer" or, "give"

Verse 13. No Barnes text on this verse.

Verses 14-23. See Barnes "Matthew 12:22" and Matthew 12:23-30

Verse 14. No Barnes text on this verse.

{e} "he was casting" Matthew 9:32; 12:22

Verses 14-23. See Barnes "Matthew 12:22" and Matthew 12:23-30

Verse 15. No Barnes text on this verse.

{4} "Beelzebub" Luke 11:18,19

Verses 14-23. See Barnes "Matthew 12:22" and Matthew 12:23-30

Verse 16. No Barnes text on this verse.

{f} "tempting him" Matthew 12:38; 16:1

Verses 14-23. See Barnes "Matthew 12:22" and Matthew 12:23-30

Verse 17. No Barnes text on this verse.

{g} "knowing their thoughts" John 2:25
{h} "Every kingdom divided" Matthew 12:25; Mark 3:24

Verses 14-23. See Barnes "Matthew 12:22" and Matthew 12:23-30

Verse 18. No Barnes text on this verse.

Verses 14-23. See Barnes "Matthew 12:22" and Matthew 12:23-30

Verse 19. No Barnes text on this verse.

Verses 14-23. See Barnes "Matthew 12:22" and Matthew 12:23-30

Verse 20. No Barnes text on this verse.

{i} "finger of God" Exodus 8:19

Verses 14-23. See Barnes "Matthew 12:22" and Matthew 12:23-30

Verse 21. No Barnes text on this verse.

Verses 14-23. See Barnes "Matthew 12:22" and Matthew 12:23-30

Verse 22. No Barnes text on this verse.

{k} "stronger than he" Isaiah 53:12; Colossians 2:15

Verses 14-23. See Barnes "Matthew 12:22" and Matthew 12:23-30

Verse 23. No Barnes text on this verse.

Verses 24-26. See Barnes "Matthew 12:43" and Matthew 12:44,45

Verse 24. No Barnes text on this verse.

Verses 24-26. See Barnes "Matthew 12:43" and Matthew 12:44,45

Verse 25. No Barnes text on this verse.

Verses 24-26. See Barnes "Matthew 12:43" and Matthew 12:44,45

Verse 26. No Barnes text on this verse.

{l} "worse than the first" John 5:14; Hebrews 6:4; 10:26,27; 2 Peter 2:20,21

Verses 27,28. A certain woman. One of the crowd.

Verse 27. Blessed is the womb, &c. She thought that the mother of such a person must be peculiarly happy in having such a son.

Yea, rather blessed, c. Jesus admits that she was happy -- it was an honour to be his mother, but he say that the chief happiness, the highest honour, was to obey the word of God. Compared with this, all earthly distinctions and honours are as nothing. Man's greatest dignity is in keeping the holy commandments of God, and in being prepared for heaven. See Barnes "Luke 10:20".

{m} "Blessed" Luke 1:28,48

Verses 27,28. A certain woman. One of the crowd.

Verse 28. No Barnes text on this verse.

{n} "Yea" Psalms 119:1,2; Matthew 7:21; Luke 8:21; James 1:25

Verses 29-32. See Barnes "Matthew 12:38", also Matthew 12:39-42

Verse 29. No Barnes text on this verse.

{o} "there shall be no sign given" Matthew 12:40; Mark 8:12

Verses 29-32. See Barnes "Matthew 12:38", also Matthew 12:39-42

Verse 30. No Barnes text on this verse.

{p} "Jonas" Jonah 1:17; 2:10

Verses 29-32. See Barnes "Matthew 12:38", also Matthew 12:39-42

Verse 31. No Barnes text on this verse.

{q} "queen of the south" 1 Kings 10:1

Verses 29-32. See Barnes "Matthew 12:38", also Matthew 12:39-42

Verse 32. No Barnes text on this verse.

Verses 33-36. These verses are found in Matthew, but in a different connection. See Barnes "Matthew 5:15", See Barnes "Matthew 6:22", See Barnes "Matthew 6:23".

Verse 33. No Barnes text on this verse.

{s} "No man" Matthew 5:15

Verses 33-36. These verses are found in Matthew, but in a different connection. See Barnes "Matthew 5:15", See Barnes "Matthew 6:22", See Barnes "Matthew 6:23".

Verse 34. No Barnes text on this verse.

{t} "light of the body" Matthew 6:22
{u} "thine eye is evil" Proverbs 28:22; Mark 7:22

Verses 33-36. These verses are found in Matthew, but in a different connection. See Barnes "Matthew 5:15", See Barnes "Matthew 6:22", See Barnes "Matthew 6:23".

Verse 35. No Barnes text on this verse.

Verses 33-36. These verses are found in Matthew, but in a different connection. See Barnes " :", See Barnes "Matthew 6:22", See Barnes "Matthew 6:23".

Verse 36. No Barnes text on this verse.

{v} "full of light" Psalms 119:105; Proverbs 6:23; Isaiah 8:20; 2 Corinthians 4:6
{5} "the" or "a candle by its bright shining"
{w} "bright shining" Proverbs 14:18; 20:27

Verse 37. And as he spake. While he was addressing the people, and particularly while he was reproving that generation and declaring its crimes.

A certain Pharisee. The Pharisees had been particularly referred to in the discourse of the Saviour recorded in the previous verses. This one, perhaps, having felt particularly the force of the remarks of Jesus, and being desirous of being alone with him, invited him to go home with him. There is little doubt that this was for the purpose of drawing him away from the people; that he did it with a malignant intention, perhaps with a design to confute Jesus in private, or to reprove him for thus condemning the whole nation as he did. He might have seen that those who attacked Jesus publicly were commonly unsuccessful, and he desired, probably, to encounter him more privately.

Besought him. Asked him.

To dine with him. The Jews, as well as the Greeks and Romans, had but two principal meals. The first was a slight repast, and was taken about ten or eleven o'clock of our time, and consisted chiefly of fruit, milk, cheese, &c. The second meal was partaken of about three o'clock P.M., and was their principal meal. The first is the one here intended.

He went in. Though he knew the evil design of the Pharisee, yet he did not decline the invitation. He knew that it might afford him an opportunity to do good. These two things are to be observed in regard to our Saviour's conduct in such matters:

1st. That he did not decline an invitation to dine with a man simply because he was a Pharisee, or because he was a wicked man. Hence he was charged with being gluttonous, and a friend of publicans and sinners, Matthew 11:19.

2nd. He seized upon all occasions to do good. He never shrank from declaring the truth, and making such occasions of spreading the gospel. If Christians and Christian ministers would follow the example of the Saviour always, they would avoid all scandal, and might do even in such places a vast amount of good.

Sat down. Reclined at the table. See Barnes "Matthew 23:6".

Verse 38. Saw it. Saw that he sat immediately down without washing.

Marvelled. Wondered. Was amazed. It was so unusual, and in his view so improper.

Had not first washed. He wondered particularly, as he had been among a mixed multitude, and they esteemed the touch of such persons polluting. They never ate, therefore, without such washing. The origin of the custom of washing with so much formality before they partook of their meals was that they did not use, as we do, knives and forks, but used their hands only. Hence, as their hands would be often in a dish on the table, it was esteemed proper that they should be washed clean before eating. Nor was their impropriety in the thing itself, but the Pharisees made it a matter of ceremony; they placed no small part of their religion in such ceremonies; and it was right, therefore, that our Lord should take occasion to reprove them for it. Comp. Mark 7:4.

{x} "when the Pharisees" Mark 7:3.

Verse 39. See Matthew 23:25. Ravening. Robbery, plunder. Here the sense is that the cup and platter were filled with what had been unjustly taken from others. That is, they lived by their wickedness; their food was procured by dishonesty and extortion. This was a most terrible charge; and as it was applied, among others, to the man who had invited the Saviour to dine with him, it shows that nothing would prevent his dealing faithfully with the souls of men. Even in the Pharisee's own house, and when expressly invited to partake of his hospitality, he loved his soul so much that he faithfully warned him of his crimes.

{z} "but your inward part" Titus 1:15

Verse 40. Ye fools. How unwise and wicked is your conduct! The word denotes not only want of wisdoms, but also wickedness. Comp. Psalms 14:1;; Proverbs 13:19;; 14:9. Your conduct is not merely foolish, but it is a cloak for sin--designed to countenance wickedness.

Did not he, &c. Did not God, who made the body, make also the soul? You Pharisees take great pains to cleanse the body, under a pretence of pleasing God. Did he not also make the mind? and is it not of as much importance that that should be pure, as that the body should?

Verse 41. Alms. Charity. Benefactions to the poor.

Such things as ye have. Your property; though it has been gained unjustly: though you have lived by rapine, and have amassed wealth in an improper manner, yet, since you have it, it is your duty to make the best of it and do good. By giving to the poor, you may show your repentance for your crimes in amassing money in this manner. You may show that you disapprove of your former course of life, and are disposed henceforward to live honestly. If this be the meaning of this passage, then it shows what is the duty of those who have by unjust gains become wealthy, and who are then converted to God. It may not be possible for them in every case to make exact restitution to those whom they have injured; thousands of instances of wrong they may have forgotten; many persons whom they have injured may have died; but still they may show, by giving to others, that they do not think their gains acquired honestly, and that they truly repent. They may devote their property to God; distribute it to the poor; or give it to send the gospel to the heathen world. Thus may they show that they disapprove of their former conduct; and thus may be seen one great principle of God's government --that good finally comes out of evil.

And behold, &c. Doing this will show that you are a true penitent, and the remainder of your property you will enjoy with a feeling that you have done your duty, and no longer be smitten with the consciousness of hoarding unjust gains. The object of the Saviour here seems to have been to bring the Pharisee to repentance. Repentance consists in sorrow for sin, and in forsaking it. This he endeavoured to produce by showing him--

1st, the evil and hypocrisy of his conduct; and,

2nd, by exhorting him to forsake his sins, and to show this by doing good. Thus doing, he would evince that the mind was clean as well the body; the inside as well as the outside.

{a} "rather give alms" Isaiah 58:7; Luke 12:22
{6} "alms" or, "as you are able"

Verse 42. See Matthew 23:23.

Rue. This is a small garden plant, and is used as a medicine. It has a rosy flower, a bitter, penetrating taste, and a strong smell.

{b} "woe unto you" Matthew 23:23,27

Verses 43,44. See Matthew 23:6,27

Verse 43. No Barnes text on this verse.

{c} "for ye love" Matthew 23:6

Verses 43,44. See Matthew 23:6,27

Verse 44. No Barnes text on this verse.

{d} "as graves which appear not" Psalms 5:9

Verse 45. Lawyers. Men learned in the law; but it is not known in what way the lawyers differed from the scribes, or whether they were Pharisees or Sadducees.

Thus saying, thou, &c. He felt that the remarks of Jesus about loving the chief seats, &c., applied to them as well as to the Pharisees. His conscience told him that if they were to blame, he was also, and he therefore applied the discourse to himself.

Reproachest. Accusest. Dost calumniate or blame us, for we do the same things. Sinners often consider faithfulness as reproach--they know not how to separate them. Jesus did not reproach or abuse them. He dealt faithfully with them; reproved them; told them the unvarnished truth. Such faithfulness is rare; but when it is used, we must expect that men will flinch, perhaps be enraged. Though their consciences tell them they are guilty, still they will consider it as abuse.

Verse 46. See Barnes "Matthew 23:4".

No Barnes text on this verse.

{e} "touch not the burdens" Isaiah 58:6

Verse 47. See Barnes "Matthew 23:29". Also Matthew 23:30-36.

No Barnes text on this verse.

Verse 48. See Barnes "Matthew 23:29". Also Matthew 23:30-36.

No Barnes text on this verse.

{f} "ye allow" Ezekiel 18:19
{g} "they indeed killed" Hebrews 11:35,37

Verse 49. See Barnes "Matthew 23:29". Also Matthew 23:30-36.

The wisdom of God. By the wisdom of God, here, is undoubtedly meant the Saviour himself. What he immediately says is not written in the Old Testament. Jesus is called the word of God (John 1:1), because he is the medium by which God speaks or makes his will known. He is called the wisdom of God, because by him God makes his wisdom known in creation ( 1:13-18) and in redemption (1 Corinthians 1:30). Many have also thought that the Messiah was referred to in the 8th chapter of Proverbs, under the name of Wisdom.

I will send, &c. See Luke 10:3;; Matthew 10:16.

Shall slay, &c. Comp. John 16:2;; Acts 7:52,59;; James 5:10; Acts 12:2; 22:19;; 2 Corinthians 11:24,25;; 2 Chronicles 36:15,16.

Verse 50. See Barnes "Matthew 23:29". Also Matthew 23:30-36.

No Barnes text on this verse.

Verse 51. See Barnes "Matthew 23:29". Also Matthew 23:30-36.

No Barnes text on this verse.

{i} "Abel" Genesis 4:8
{k} "Zacharias" 2 Chronicles 24:20
{l} "required" Jeremiah 7:28,29

Verse 52. Woe unto you, lawyers! See Barnes " :".

The key of knowledge. A key is made to open a lock or door. By their false interpretation of the Old Testament they had taken away the true key or method of understanding it. They had hindered the people from understanding it aright.

"You endeavour to prevent the people also from understanding the Scriptures respecting the Messiah, and those who were coming to me ye hindered."
If there is any sin of peculiar magnitude, it is that of keeping the people in ignorance; and few men are so guilty as they who by false instructions prevent them from coming to a knowledge of the truth, and embracing it as it is in Jesus.

{m} "key of knowledge" Malachi 1:2,7
{7} "hindered" or, "forbade"

Verse 53. To urge him vehemently. To press upon him violently. They were enraged against him. They therefore pressed upon him; asked him many questions; sought to entrap him, that they might accuse him.

Provoke him, &c. This means that they put many questions to him about various matters, without giving him proper time to answer. They proposed questions as fast as possible, and about as many things as possible, that they might get him, in the hurry, to say something that would be wrong, that they might thus accuse him. This was a remarkable instance of their cunning, malignity, and unfairness.

{n} "provoke" 1 Corinthians 13:5

Verse 54. Laying wait for him. Or, rather, laying snares for him. It means that they endeavoured to entangle him in his talk; that they did as men do who catch birds--who lay snares, and deceive them, and take them unawares.

That they might accuse him. Before the Sanhedrim, or great council of the nation, and thus secure his being put to death.

From this we may learn--

1st. That faithful reproofs must be expected to excite opposition and hatred. Though the conscience may be roused, and may testify against the man that is reproved, yet that does not prevent his hating the reproof and the reprover.

2nd. We see here the manner in which wicked men endeavour to escape the reproofs of conscience. Instead of repenting, they seek vengeance, and resolve to put the reprover to shame or to death.

3rd. We see the exceeding malignity which men have against the Lord Jesus. Well was it said that he was set for the fall of many in Israel, that thereby the thoughts of many hearts might be revealed! Luke 2:34,35. Men, now, are not by nature less opposed to Jesus than they were then.

4th. We see the wisdom, purity, and firmness of the Saviour. To their souls he had been faithful. He had boldly reproved them for their sins. They sought his life. Multitudes of the artful and learned gathered around him, to endeavour to draw out something of which they might accuse him, yet in vain. Not a word fell from his lips of which they could accuse him. Everything that he said was calm, mild, peaceful, wise, and lovely. Even his cunning and bitter adversaries were always confounded, and retired in shame and confusion. Here, surely, must have been something more than man. None but God manifest in the flesh could have known all their designs, seen all their wickedness and their wiles and escaped the cunning stratagems that were laid to confound and entangle him in his conversation.

5th. The same infinitely wise Saviour can still meet and confound all his own enemies and those of his people, and deliver all his followers, as he did himself, from all the snares laid by a wicked world to lead them to sin and death.

{o} "and seeking" Mark 12:13


Copyright Statement
These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website.

Bibliography Information
Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Luke 11". "Barnes' Notes on the New Testament". <http://classic.studylight.org/com/bnn/view.cgi?book=lu&chapter=011>.  

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