Luke 7In the audience of the people. This discourse was listened to by a large concourse of people, as is stated more fully in the account given by Matthew. (Matt. 4:25, 5:1, 8:1.)
The peculiar point and interest of this story consist in the fact that the centurion was a foreigner, a Roman officer, under Herod Antipas, who, as such, occupied a peculiar position in regard to the Jews. These officers were often haughty and oppressive; but this centurion seems to have been a devout man, and just and beneficent towards the people whom he assisted to govern. Under these circumstances, it was natural for him not to apply directly to Christ himself but to ask the friendly mediation of other officers, of Christ's own nation, with whom he must have been, from the nature of the case, on friendly and familiar terms. How true to nature, and to the circumstances of the case, is the plea which they urged, in the 4th and 5th verses!
In Israel. The centurion was a Gentile.
A city called Nain. Villages of very inconsiderable size were, in those days, walled in, and called cities.
Touched the bier; laid his hand upon it, signifying that they should put it down.
It seems that his disciples had access to him in the prison.
He that should come; the promised Messiah.—Or look we; are we to expect?
The precise point of the particular questions asked in verses 24th and 25th is somewhat obscure. Commentators have attempted to explain them; but the meaning which they assign seems to be a meaning which they put into, rather than deduce from them. The intention of the whole passage is obvious. It was to declare, in the most emphatic manner, that John was a divinely-inspired prophet, and that he was acknowledged to be such by the act of the Jewish people in attending in crowds upon his preaching in the wilderness.
These verses are a continuation of the Savior's remarks. The meaning is, that the mass of the nation, and even the publicans, acknowledged John as a prophet, and glorified God by their repentance. He was rejected only by the Pharisees and lawyers, who, acting against themselves, resisted God's gracious designs for their salvation.
And the Lord said; that is, in continuation. These words, however, are not found in the earlier and better copies of the New Testament, and probably do not belong here. If retained, they must be understood as above.—The men of this generation; the Pharisees and lawyers, who were not satisfied with either Jesus or John.
Sitting in the market-place; where they had gone to play.—Piped; made lively music. The idea is, that the Jews were like discontented children, of whom their playmates complained that they would not be pleased with any thing; they would neither play wedding nor funeral. The ceremonies of both these occasions, in ancient times, were such as children would be very likely to imitate in their plays.
Neither eating bread, &c.; that is, leading an austere and solitary life.
Eating and drinking; that is, in respect to his habits of social intercourse, living like other men.
Is justified; is recognized and honored.
Wash his feet, &c. In these expressions, Luke adopts the phraseology used by Jesus in verse 44. It seems that the woman, partaking of the excitement which our Savior's presence and preaching produced among the multitude, and overwhelmed with contrition for her past sins, and full of grateful feeling at the offers of forgiveness, came in, and prostrated herself at his feet, as he was reclining at the table, and kissed them, in token of adoration and gratitude. While in this posture, the Savior's feet were wet with her tears, and covered with her hair. Whatever of impropriety there might have been in the act,—and the strong excitement of her feelings, taken in connection with the probable freedom of her past habits of life, might easily have carried her beyond the bounds of decorum,—Jesus does not censure it, but represents her action in the figurative language of washing his feet with her tears and wiping them with her hair. Though scrupulously attentive himself to all the proprieties of life, he pitied the anguish of mind which led to this apparent violation of them in her, and took the unhappy sinner's part against the censorious Pharisee, by language which put upon her conduct a favorable and yet a just construction.
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