Commentary Critical and Explanatory
on the Whole Bible
MISSION OF THE
As our Lord's end approaches, the preparations for the establishment of
the coming Kingdom are quickened and extended.
1. the Lord--a becoming title here, as this appointment was an act
truly lordly [BENGEL].
other seventy also--rather, "others (also in number), seventy";
probably with allusion to the seventy elders of Israel on whom the
Spirit descended in the wilderness
(Nu 11:24, 25).
The mission, unlike that of the Twelve, was evidently quite
temporary. All the instructions are in keeping with a brief and
hasty pioneering mission, intended to supply what of general
preparation for coming events the Lord's own visit afterwards to the
same "cities and places"
would not, from want of time, now suffice to accomplish; whereas the
instructions to the Twelve, besides embracing all those to the Seventy,
contemplate world-wide and permanent effects.
Accordingly, after their return from this single missionary tour, we
never again read of the Seventy.
2. The harvest, &c.--(See on
pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he would send forth
labourers into his harvest--(See on
3-12. (See on
10. son of peace--inwardly prepared to embrace your message of
peace. See note on "worthy," (see on
12-15. (See on
for Sodom--Tyre and Sidon were ruined by commercial prosperity; Sodom
sank through its vile pollutions: but the doom of otherwise correct
persons who, amidst a blaze of light, reject the Saviour, shall be
less endurable than that of any of these.
16. He that, &c.--(See on
17. returned--evidently not long away.
Lord, &c.--"Thou hast exceeded Thy promise, for
'even the devils,'" &c. The possession of such power, not being
expressly in their commission, as in that to the Twelve
filled them with more astonishment and joy than all else.
through thy name--taking no credit to themselves, but feeling lifted
into a region of unimagined superiority to the powers of evil simply
through their connection with Christ.
18. I beheld--As much of the force of this glorious statement depends
on the nice shade of sense indicated by the imperfect tense in the
original, it should be brought out in the translation: "I was beholding
Satan as lightning falling from heaven"; that is, "I followed you on
your mission, and watched its triumphs; while you were wondering at the
subjection to you of devils in My name, a grander spectacle
was opening to My view; sudden as the darting of lightning from
heaven to earth, lo! Satan was beheld falling from heaven!" How
remarkable is this, that by that law of association which connects a
part with the whole, those feeble triumphs of the Seventy seem to have
not only brought vividly before the Redeemer the whole ultimate result
of His mission, but compressed it into a moment and quickened it into
the rapidity of lightning! Note.--The word rendered "devils,"
is always used for those spiritual agents employed in
demoniacal possessions--never for the ordinary agency of Satan in
rational men. When therefore the Seventy say, "the devils [demons]
are subject to us," and Jesus replies, "Mine eye was beholding
Satan falling," it is plain that He meant to raise their minds not
only from the particular to the general, but from a very
temporary form of satanic operation to the entire kingdom of evil.
19. Behold, I give you, &c.--not for any renewal of their mission,
though probably many of them afterwards became ministers of Christ; but
simply as disciples.
serpents and scorpions--the latter more venomous than the former:
literally, in the first instance
(Mr 16:17, 18;
but the next words, "and over all the power of the enemy, and
nothing shall by any means hurt you," show that the glorious power
of faith to "overcome the world" and "quench all the fiery darts of the
wicked one," by the communication and maintenance of which to His
people He makes them innocuous, is what is meant
20. rejoice not, &c.--that is, not so much. So far from forbidding
it, He takes occasion from it to tell them what had been passing in His
own mind. But as power over demons was after all intoxicating, He gives
them a higher joy to balance it, the joy of having their names in
21, 22. Jesus . . . said, &c.--The very same sublime
words were uttered by our Lord on a former similar occasion (see on
but (1) There we are merely told that He "answered and said" thus;
here, He "rejoiced in spirit and said," &c. (2) There it was
merely "at that time" (or season) that He spoke thus, meaning with a
general reference to the rejection of His gospel by the
self-sufficient; here, "In that hour Jesus said," with express
reference probably to the humble class from which He had to draw the
Seventy, and the similar class that had chiefly welcomed their message.
"Rejoice" is too weak a word. It is "exulted in spirit"--evidently
giving visible expression to His unusual emotions; while, at the same
time, the words "in spirit" are meant to convey to the reader the
depth of them. This is one of those rare cases in which the veil
is lifted from off the Redeemer's inner man, that, angel-like, we may
"look into it" for a moment
Let us gaze on it with reverential wonder, and as we perceive what it
was that produced that mysterious ecstasy, we shall find rising in our
hearts a still rapture--"Oh, the depths!"
23, 24. (See on
Mt 13:16, 17).
QUESTION OF A
PARABLE OF THE
25. tempted him--"tested him"; in no hostile spirit, yet with no tender
anxiety for light on that question of questions, but just to see what
insight this great Galilean teacher had.
26. What is written in the law--apposite question to a doctor of the
law, and putting him in turn to the test [BENGEL].
27. Thou shalt, &c.--the answer Christ Himself gave to another
lawyer. (See on
28. he said, &c.--"Right; THIS do, and life is thine"--laying such
emphasis on "this" as to indicate, without expressing it,
where the real difficulty to a sinner lay, and thus nonplussing the
29. willing--"wishing," to get himself out of the difficulty, by
throwing on Jesus the definition of "neighbor," which the Jews
interpreted very narrowly and technically, as excluding Samaritans and
30. A certain man--a Jew.
from Jerusalem to Jericho--a distance of nineteen miles northeast, a
deep and very fertile hollow--"the Temple of Judea" [TRENCH].
thieves--"robbers." The road, being rocky and desolate, was a notorious
haunt of robbers, then and for ages after, and even to this day.
31, 32. came down a . . . priest . . . and a Levite--Jericho, the
second city of Judea, was a city of the priests and Levites, and
thousands of them lived there. The two here mentioned are supposed,
apparently, to be returning from temple duties, but they had not
learnt what that meaneth, 'I will have mercy and not sacrifice'
saw him--It was not inadvertently that he acted.
came and looked--a further aggravation.
passed by--although the law expressly required the opposite treatment
even of the beast not only of their brethren, but of their
Ex 23:4, 5;
33. Samaritan--one excommunicated by the Jews, a byword among them,
synonymous with heretic and devil
had compassion--His best is mentioned first; for "He who gives outward
things gives something external to himself, but he who imparts
compassion and tears gives him something from his very self"
TRENCH]. No doubt the priest and Levite had
their excuses--It is not safe to be lingering here; besides, he's past
recovery; and then, may not suspicion rest upon ourselves? So might the
Samaritan have reasoned, but did not
[TRENCH]. Nor did he say, He's
a Jew, who would have had no dealings with me
and why should I with him?
34. oil and wine--the remedies used in such cases all over the East
and elsewhere; the wine to cleanse the wounds, the oil to
assuage their smartings.
on his own beast--himself going on foot.
35. two pence--equal to two day's wages of a laborer, and enough for
several days' support.
36. Which . . . was neighbour?--a most dexterous way of putting the
question: (1) Turning the question from, "Whom am I to love as my
neighbour?" to "Who is the man that shows that love?" (2) Compelling the
lawyer to give a reply very different from what he would like--not only
condemning his own nation, but those of them who should be the most
exemplary. (3) Making him commend one of a deeply hated race. And he
does it, but it is almost extorted. For he does not answer, "The
Samaritan"--that would have sounded heterodox, heretical--but "He that
showed mercy on him." It comes to the same thing, no doubt, but the
circumlocution is significant.
37. Go, &c.--O exquisite, matchless teaching! What new fountains of
charity has not this opened up in the human spirit--rivers in the
wilderness, streams in the desert! What noble Christian institutions
have not such words founded, all undreamed of till that wondrous One
came to bless this heartless world of ours with His incomparable
love--first in words, and then in deeds which have translated His words
into flesh and blood, and poured the life of them through that humanity
which He made His own! Was this parable, now, designed to magnify the
law of love, and to show who fulfils it and who not? And who did this as
never man did it, as our Brother Man, "our Neighbor?" The priests and
Levites had not strengthened the diseased, nor bound up the broken
while He bound up the brokenhearted
and poured into all wounded spirits the balm of sweetest consolation.
All the Fathers saw through the thin veil of this noblest of stories,
the Story of love, and never wearied of tracing the analogy
(though sometimes fancifully enough) [TRENCH].
Exclaims GREGORY NAZIANZEN
(in the fourth century), "He hungered, but He fed thousands; He was
weary, but He is the Rest of the weary; He is saluted 'Samaritan' and
'Demoniac,' but He saves him that went down from Jerusalem and fell
among thieves," &c.
38. certain village--Bethany
which Luke so speaks of, having no farther occasion to notice it.
received him . . . her house--The house belonged to her, and she
appears throughout to be the older sister.
39. which also--"who for her part," in contrast with Martha.
sat--"seated herself." From the custom of sitting beneath an
instructor, the phrase "sitting at one's feet" came to mean being a
disciple of any one
heard--rather, "kept listening" to His word.
came to him--"presented herself before Him," as from another apartment,
in which her sister had "left her to serve (or make preparation)
carest thou not . . . my sister, &c.--"Lord, here am I with everything
to do, and this sister of mine will not lay a hand to anything; thus I
miss something from Thy lips, and Thou from our hands."
bid her, &c.--She presumes not to stop Christ's teaching by calling
her sister away, and thus leaving Him without His one auditor, nor did
she hope perhaps to succeed if she had tried.
41. Martha, Martha--emphatically redoubling upon the name.
careful and cumbered--the one word expressing the inward
worrying anxiety that her preparations should be worthy of her Lord;
the other, the outward bustle of those preparations.
many things--"much service"
too elaborate preparation, which so engrossed her attention that she
missed her Lord's teaching.
42. one thing, &c.--The idea of "Short work and little of it suffices
for Me" is not so much the lower sense of these weighty words, as
supposed in them, as the basis of something far loftier than any
precept on economy. Underneath that idea is couched another, as to the
littleness both of elaborate preparation for the present life and
of that life itself, compared with another.
chosen the good part--not in the general sense of Moses' choice
that is, of good in opposition to bad; but, of two good ways of
serving and pleasing the Lord, choosing the better. Wherein,
then, was Mary's better than Martha's? Hear what follows.
not be taken away--Martha's choice would be taken from her, for
her services would die with her; Mary's never, being spiritual
and eternal. Both were true-hearted disciples, but the one was absorbed
in the higher, the other in the lower of two ways of honoring their
common Lord. Yet neither despised, or would willingly neglect, the
other's occupation. The one represents the contemplative, the other
the active style of the Christian character. A Church full of Marys
would perhaps be as great an evil as a Church full of Marthas. Both are
needed, each to be the complement of the other.