Luke 7

CHAPTER VII.

Christ heals the servant of a centurion, who is commended

for his faith, 1-10.

Raises a widow's son to life at Nain, 11-17.

John Baptist hears of his fame, and sends two of his disciples

to inquire whether he was the Christ, 18-23.

Christ's character of John, 24-30.

The obstinate blindness and capriciousness of the Jews, 31-35.

A Pharisee invites him to his house, where a woman anoints his

head with oil, and washes his feet with her tears, 36-38.

The Pharisee is offended 39.

Our Lord reproves him by a parable, and vindicates the woman,

40-46;

and pronounces her sins forgiven, 47-50.

NOTES ON CHAP. VII.

Verse 2. A certain centurion's servant] See this miracle

explained on Mt 8:5-13.

Verse 3. Elders of the Jews] These were either magistrates in

the place, or the elders of the synagogue which the centurion had

built, Lu 7:5. He sent these, probably, because he was afraid to

come to Christ himself, not being a Jew, either by nation or

religion. In the parallel place in Matthew, he is represented as

coming to Christ himself; but it is a usual form of speech in all

nations, to attribute the act to a person which is done not by

himself, but by his authority.

Verse 5. He loveth our nation] He is a warm friend to the Jews;

and has given a full proof of his affection to them in building

them a synagogue. This he had done at his own proper charges;

having no doubt employed his own men in the work.

Verse 10. Found the servant whole] This cure was the effect of

the faith, prayer, and humility of the centurion, through which

the almighty energy of Jesus Christ was conveyed to the sick man.

But these very graces in the centurion were the products of grace.

It is God himself who, by the gifts of his mercy, disposes the

soul to receive its cure; and nothing can contribute to the

reception of his grace but what is the fruit of grace itself. The

apostle says, The grace of God that bringeth salvation hath

appeared unto all men, Tit 2:11. It should therefore be our

concern, not to resist the operations of this grace: for though we

cannot endue ourselves with by gracious disposition, yet we can

quench the Spirit, by whose agency these are produced in the soul.

The centurion had not received the grace of God in vain.

Verse 11. Nain] A small city of Galilee, in the tribe of

Issachar. According to Eusebius, it was two miles from Mount

Tabor, southward; and near to Endor.

Verse 12. Carried out] The Jews always buried their dead without

the city, except those of the family of David. No burying places

should be tolerated within cities or towns; much less in or about

churches and chapels. This custom is excessively injurious to

the inhabitants; and especially to those who frequent public

worship in such chapels and churches. God, decency, and health

forbid this shocking abomination.

On the impropriety of burying in towns, churches, and chapels,

take the following testimonies: Extra urbem soliti sunt alii

mortuos sepelire: Nos Christiani, eos non in urbes solum, sed et

in TEMPLA recepimus, quo fit ut multi faetore nimis, fere

exanimentur. SCHOETTGEN. "Others were accustomed to bury their

dead without the city. We Christians not only bury them within our

cities, but receive them even into our churches! Hence many nearly

lose their lives through the noxious effluvia." "Both the Jews and

other people had their burying places without the city:-Et certe

ita postulat ratio publicae sanitatis, quae multum laedi solet

aura sepulchrorum:-and this the health of the public requires,

which is greatly injured by the effluvia from

graves."-Rosenmuller. From long observation I can attest that

churches and chapels situated in grave-yards, and those especially

within whose walls the dead are interred, are perfectly

unwholesome; and many, by attending such places, are shortening

their passage to the house appointed for the living. What

increases the iniquity of this abominable and deadly work is, that

the burying grounds attached to many churches and chapels are made

a source of private gain. The whole of this preposterous conduct

is as indecorous and unhealthy as it is profane. Every man

should know that the gas which is disengaged from putrid flesh,

and particularly from a human body, is not only unfriendly to, but

destructive of, animal life. Superstition first introduced a

practice which self-interest and covetousness continue to

maintain.

For a general improvement of all the circumstances of this

miracle, see the end of the chapter.

Verse 16. God hath visited his people.] Several MSS. and

versions add, ειςαγαθον, for good. Sometimes God visited his

people in the way of judgment, to consume them in their

transgressions; but it was now plain that he had visited them in

the most tender compassion and mercy. This seems to have been

added by some ancient copyist, by way of explanation.

Verse 18. The disciples of John showed him, &c.] It is very

likely that John's disciples attended the ministry of our Lord at

particular times; and this, we may suppose, was a common case

among the disciples of different Jewish teachers. Though bigotry

existed in its most formidable shape between the Jews and

Samaritans, yet we do not find that it had any place between

Jews and Jews, though they were of different sects, and attached

to different teachers.

Verse 19. Art thou he that should come?] That is, to save. Art

thou the promised Messiah? See Clarke on Mt 11:3.

Some have thought that this character of our Lord, οερχομενος,

he who cometh, refers to the prophecy of Jacob, Ge 49:10, where

he is called Shiloh, which Grotius and others derive from

shalach, he sent: hence, as the time of the fulfilment of

the prophecy drew nigh, he was termed, He who cometh, i.e. he who

is just now ready to make his appearance in Judea. In Zec 9:9, a

similar phrase is used, Behold, thy king COMETH unto thee-having

SALVATION. This is meant of the Messiah only; therefore I think

the words to save, are necessarily implied.

Verse 21. Infirmities and plagues] The following judicious note

from Bp. PEARCE is worthy of deep attention: "Luke mentions here

ςοσοιμαστιγες, leprosias, and πνευματαπονηρα, i.e. diseases

or ill habits of body, sores or lamenesses, and evil spirits: from

whence we may conclude that evil spirits are reckoned by him (who

speaks of distempers with more accuracy than the other

evangelists) as things different from any disorders of the body,

included in the two former words."

Unto many that were blind he gave light.] Rather, he kindly gave

sight-εχαρισατοτοβλεπειν; or, he graciously gave sight. This is

the proper meaning of the original words. In all his miracles,

Jesus showed the tenderest mercy and kindness: not only the cure,

but the manner in which he performed it, endeared him to those who

were objects of his compassionate regards.

Verse 22. - 28. See these verses explained at large on

Mt 11:4-15.

Verse 29. Justified God] Or, declared God to be just-εδικαιωσαν

τονθεον. The sense is this: John preached that the Divine wrath

was coming upon the Jews, from which they might flee by

repentance, Lu 3:7. The Jews, therefore, who were baptized by

him, with the baptism of repentance, did thereby acknowledge that

it is but justice in God to punish them for their wickedness

unless they repented, and were baptized in token of it. Bp. PEARCE

proves that this is the sense in which the word δικαιοω is used

here and in Ps 51:4, compared with Job 32:2, and by this

evangelist again in Lu 10:29, and Lu 16:15.

Verse 30. Rejected the counsel of God] Or, frustrated the will

of God-τηνβουληντουθεουηθετησαν. Kypke says the verb

αθετειν has two meanings:-1, to disbelieve; 2, despise, or

disobey: and that both senses may be properly conjoined here. The

will of God was that all the inhabitants of Judea should repent at

the preaching of John, be baptized, and believe in Christ

Jesus. Now as they did not repent, &c., at John's preaching, so

they did not believe his testimony concerning Christ: thus the

will, gracious counsel, or design of God, relative to their

salvation, was annulled or frustrated. They disbelieved his

promises, despised the Messiah, and disobeyed his precepts.

Verse 31. And the Lord said] Almost every MS. of authority and

importance, with most of the versions, omit these words. As the

Evangelistaria (the books which contained those portions of the

Gospels which were read in the Churches) began at this verse, the

words were probably at first used by them, to introduce the

following parable. There is the fullest proof that they never made

a part of Luke's text. Every critic rejects them. Bengel and

Griesbach leave them out of the text.

Verse 32. They are like unto children] See on Mt 11:16-19. It

is probable that our Lord alludes here to some play or game among

the Jewish children, no account of which is now on record.

Verse 35. Wisdom is justified, &c.] Probably the children of

wisdom is a mere Hebraism here for the products or fruits of

wisdom; hence the Vatican MS., one other, and some versions, have

εργων, works, instead of τεκνων, sons, in the parallel

place, Mt 11:19. True wisdom shows itself by its works;

folly is never found in the wise man's way, any more than wisdom

is in the path of a fool. Theophylact's note on this place should

not be overlooked. εδικαιωθητουτεστινετιμηθη, Wisdom IS

JUSTIFIED, that is, IS HONOURED, by all her children.

Verse 36. One of the Pharisees] Called Simon, Lu 7:40. This

account is considered by many critics and commentators to be the

same with that in Mt 26:6, &c., Mr 14:3; and Joh 12:3. This

subject is considered pretty much at large in the notes on

Mt 26:6, &c., to which the reader is requested to refer.

Verse 37. A woman-which was a sinner] Many suppose that this

woman had been a notorious public prostitute; but this is taking

the subject by the very worst handle. My own opinion is, that she

had been a mere heathen who dwelt in this city, (probably

Capernaum,) who, through the ministry of Christ, had been before

this converted to God, and came now to give this public testimony

of her gratitude to her gracious deliverer from the darkness and

guilt of sin. I am inclined to think that the original word,

αμαρτωλος, is used for heathen or Gentile in several places of

the sacred writings. I am fully persuaded that this is its meaning

in Mt 9:10, 11, 13; 11:19; and Mt 26:45.

The Son of man is betrayed into the hands of sinners,

i.e. is delivered into the hands of the heathens, viz. the Romans,

who alone could put him to death. See Mr 2:15-17; 14:41. I think

also it has this meaning in Lu 6:32-34; 15:1, 2, 7, 10; 19:7;

Joh 9:31. I think no other sense can be justly assigned to it

in Ga 2:15:

We who are Jews by nature, and not sinners of the Gentiles. We

Jews, who have had the benefit of a Divine revelation, know that a

man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of

Christ, (Ga 2:16,) which other

nations, who were heathens, not having a Divine revelation,

could not know. It is, I think, likely that the grand subject of

the self-righteous Pharisee's complaint was her being a heathen.

As those who were touched by such contracted a legal defilement,

he could not believe that Christ was a conscientious observer of

the law, seeing he permitted her to touch him, knowing who she

was; or, if he did not know that she was a heathen, it was a proof

that he was no prophet, Lu 7:39, and consequently had not the

discernment of spirits which prophets were supposed to possess. As

the Jews had a law which forbade all iniquity, and they who

embraced it being according to its requisitions and their

profession saints; and as the Gentiles had no law to restrain

evil, nor made any profession of holiness, the term αμαρτωλοι,

or sinners, was first with peculiar propriety applied to them, and

afterwards to all others, who, though they professed to be under

the law, yet lived as Gentiles without the law. Many suppose this

person to be the same as Mary Magdalene, but of this there is no

solid proof.

Brought an alabaster box] See Clarke on Mr 14:3.

Verse 38. Stood at his feet behind him] In taking their meals,

the eastern people reclined on one side; the loins and knees being

bent to make the more room, the feet of each person were turned

outwards behind him. This is the meaning of standing BEHIND at his

FEET.

Began to wash his feet with tears] ηρξατοβρεχειντοιςδακρυσι,

She began to water his feet-to let a shower of tears fall on them.

As the Jews wore nothing like our shoes, (theirs being a mere

sole, bound about the foot and ancle with thongs,) their feet

being so much exposed had frequent need of washing, and this they

ordinarily did before taking their meals.

Kissed his feet] With affectionate tenderness, κατεφιλει, or

kissed them again and again. See Clarke on Mt 26:49.

The kiss was used in ancient times as the emblem of love,

religious reverence, subjection, and supplication. It has the

meaning of supplication, in the way of adoration, accompanied with

subjection, in 1Ki 19:18,

Whose mouths have not kissed Baal; and in Job 31:27,

My mouth hath not kissed my hand; I have paid no sort of

adoration to false gods; and in Ps 2:12,

Kiss the Son lest he be angry,-close in with him, embrace

affectionately, the offers of mercy made unto you through Christ

Jesus, lest he (the Lord) be angry with you, and ye perish: which

commandment this woman seems to have obeyed, both in the literal

and spiritual sense. Kissing the feet was practised also among the

heathens, to express subjection of spirit, and earnest

supplication. See a long example in Raphelius, produced from

Polybius, concerning the Carthaginian ambassadors when

supplicating the Romans for peace. With an humble and abject mind,

πεσοντεςεπιτηνγην, they fell down on the earth, τουςποδας

καταφιλοιεντωσυνεδριω, and kissed the feet of the council. See

also several examples in Kypke. Kissing the feet is a farther

proof that this person had been educated a heathen. This was no

part of a Jew's practice.

Verse 41. A certain creditor, &c.] It is plain that in this

parable our Lord means, by the creditor, GOD, and, by the two

debtors, Simon and the woman who was present. Simon, who had the

light of the law, and who, in consequence of his profession as a

Pharisee, was obliged to abstain from outward iniquity, might be

considered as the debtor who owed only fifty pence, or denarii.

The woman, whom I have supposed to be a heathen, not having these

advantages, having no rule to regulate her actions, and no curb on

her evil propensities, may be considered as the debtor who owed

five hundred pence, or denarii. And when both were compared,

Simon's debt to God might be considered, in reference to hers,

as fifty to five hundred. However, we find, notwithstanding this

great disparity, both were insolvent. Simon, the religious

Pharisee, could no more pay his fifty to God than this poor

heathen her five hundred; and, if both be not freely forgiven by

the Divine mercy, both must finally perish. Having NOTHING to PAY,

he kindly FORGAVE them both. Some think that this very Simon was

no inconsiderable debtor to our Lord, as having been mercifully

cleansed from a leprosy; for he is supposed to be the same as

Simon the leper. See Clarke on Mt 26:6.

Verse 42. Which of them will love him most?] Which is under the

greater obligation and should love him most?

Verse 43. He to whom he forgave most.] By this acknowledgment he

was, unknowingly to himself, prepared to receive our Lord's

reproof.

Verse 44. Thou gavest me no water] In this respect Simon was

sadly deficient in civil respect, whether this proceeded from

forgetfulness or contempt. The custom of giving water to wash

the guest's feet was very ancient. See instances in

Ge 18:4; 24:32; Jud 19:21; 1Sa 25:41. In Hindoostan it is the

custom, that when a superior enters the house of an inferior, the

latter washes his feet, and gives him water to rinse his mouth

before he eats. See AYEEN AKBERY, vol. iii. p. 226.

Verse 45. Since the time I came in] Rather, Since the time SHE

came in, αφηςεισηλθεν, not εισηλθον, I came in, for it is

clear from Lu 7:37 that the woman came in

after Christ, having heard that he was sitting at meat in the

Pharisee's house. The reading which I have adopted is supported by

several MSS. and Versions.

Verse 46. My head with oil thou didst not anoint] Anointing the

head with oil was as common among the Jews as washing the face

with water is among us. See Ru 3:3; 2Sa 12:20; 14:2;

2Ki 4:2; and Ps 23:5, where the author alludes to the Jewish

manner of receiving and entertaining a guest. Thou preparest a

table for me; anointest my head with oil; givest me an overflowing

cup. See Mt 5:17.

Verse 47. For she loved much] Or, THEREFORE she loved much. It

appears to have been a consciousness of God's forgiving love that

brought her at this time to the Pharisee's house. In the common

translation her forgiveness is represented to be the consequence

of her loving much, which is causing the tree to produce the root,

and not the root the tree. I have considered οτι here as having

the sense of διοτι, therefore; because, to make this sentence suit

with the foregoing parable, Lu 7:42, 43, and with what

immediately follows here, but he to whom little is forgiven loveth

little, we must suppose her love was the effect of her being

pardoned, not the cause of it. οτι seems to have the sense of

therefore in Mt 13:13; Joh 8:44; 1Co 10:17; and in the

Septuagint, in De 33:52; Isa 49:19; Ho 9:15; and Ec 5:6.

Both these particles are often interchanged in the New Testament.

Loved much-loveth little] That is, A man's love to God will be

in proportion to the obligations he feels himself under to the

bounty of his Maker.

Verse 48. Thy sins are forgiven.] He gave her the fullest

assurance of what he had said before to Simon, (Lu 7:47,)

Thy sins are forgiven. While the Pharisee murmured, the poor

penitent rejoiced.

Verse 50. Thy faith hath saved thee] Thy faith hath been the

instrument of receiving the salvation which is promised to those

who repent. Go in peace. Though peace of conscience be the

inseparable consequence of the pardon of sin, yet here it seems to

be used as a valediction or farewell: as if he had said, May

goodness and mercy continue to follow thee! In this sense it is

certainly used Jud 18:6; 1Sa 1:17; 20:42; 29:7; 2Sa 15:9;

Jas 2:16.

THE affecting account of raising the widow's son to life,

Lu 7:11-17, is capable of farther improvement. The following

may be considered to be sober, pious uses of this transaction.

In this resurrection of the widow's son, four things are highly

worthy of notice:-1. The meeting. 2. What Christ did to raise the

dead man. 3. What the man did when raised to life: and 4. The

effect produced on the minds of the people.

I. The MEETING.

1. It was uncommon: it was a meeting of life and death, of

consolation and distress. On the one part JESUS, accompanied by

his disciples, and an innumerable crowd of people, advance towards

the gate of the city of Nain: on the other part, a funeral

solemnity proceeds out of the gate,-a person of distinction, as we

may imagine from the number of the people who accompanied the

corpse, is carried out to be buried. Wherever Jesus goes, he meets

death or misery; and wherever he comes, he dispenses life and

salvation.

2. It was instructive. A young man was carried to the grave-an

only son-cut off in the flower of his age from the pleasures,

honours, profits, and expectations of life; a multitude of

relatives, friends, and neighbours, in tears, affliction, and

distress, accompanied the corpse. Behold the present life in its

true point of light! How deceitful is the world! To hide its

vanity and wretchedness, funeral pomp takes the place of the

decorations of life and health; and pride, which carries the

person through life, cleaves to the putrid carcass in the

ridiculous adornments of palls, scarfs, cloaks, and feathers!

Sin has a complete triumph, when pride is one of the principal

bearers to the tomb.

And shall not the living lay these things to heart? Remember, ye

that are young, the young die oftener than the old; and it is

because so many of the former die, that there are so few of the

latter to die.

3. It was an affecting meeting. The mother of this young man

followed the corpse of her son; her distress was extreme. She had

already lost her husband, and in losing her only son she loses all

that could be reckoned dear to her in the world. She lost her

support, her glory, and the name of her family from among the

tribes of her people. Jesus sees her in this state of affliction,

and was moved with compassion towards her. This God of goodness

cannot see the wretched without commiserating their state, and

providing for their salvation.

4. It was a happy meeting. Jesus approaches this distressed

widow, and says, Weep not. But who, with propriety, can give such

advice in a case like this? Only that God who can dry up the

fountain of grief, and remove the cause of distress. Weep for thy

sin, weep for thy relatives, weep after Christ, and God will

infallibly comfort thee.

II. What Christ did to raise this dead man.

1. He came up, Lu 7:14. When the blessed God is about to save a

soul from spiritual death, he comes up to the heart by the light

of his Spirit, by the preaching of his word, and by a thousand

other methods, which all prove that his name is mercy, and his

nature love.

2. He touched the bier. God often stretches out his hand against

the matter or occasion of sin, renders that public that was before

hidden, lays afflictions upon the body; by some evil disease

effaces that beauty, or impairs that strength, which were the

occasions of sin; disconcerts the schemes and blasts the property

of the worldly man. These were carrying him down to the chambers

of death, and the merciful God is thus delivering him out of the

hands of his murderers.

3. He commanded-Young man! I say unto thee, Arise. Sinners! You

have been dead in trespasses and sins too long: now hear the voice

of the Son of God. Young people! to you in particular is this

commandment addressed. Delay not a moment: it will be more easy

for you to return to God now than at any future time. And perhaps

the present call may never be repeated. The sooner you hear the

voice of God, the sooner you shall be happy.

III. What the man did when raised to life.

1. He sat up, Lu 7:15. When the quickening voice of God reaches

the heart of a sinner, his first business is to lift up his head

to contemplate the awful state in which he is found, and the

horrible pit over which he hangs, and look about for a deliverer

from the hell that is moved from beneath to meet him at his

coming.

2. He began to speak. Prayer to God, for the salvation he needs,

is indispensably requisite to every awakened sinner. Let him speak

in prayer and praise; prayer for present salvation, and praise,

because he is still out of hell. Let him also declare the power

and goodness of God which have thus rescued him from the bitter

pains of an eternal death.

3. He walked. He (Christ) presented him to his mother. Those

who were carrying the corpse having heard the voice of the young

man, immediately laid down the bier, and the young man stepping

directly on the ground, Jesus took him by the hand and conducted

him to his mother. What a change from the deepest affliction to

the highest ecstacy of joy must have now taken place in this

widow's heart! Happy moment!-when the quickening power of Christ

restores a prodigal son to a disconsolate parent, and a member to

Christ's mystical body, the Church militant!

IV. The effect produced on the minds of the people.

1. Fear seized them, Lu 7:16. A religious reverence penetrated

their hearts, while witnessing the effects of the sovereign power

of Christ. Thus should we contemplate the wonders of God's grace

in the conviction and conversion of sinners.

2. They glorified God. They plainly saw that he had now visited

his people: the miracle proclaimed his presence, and that a great

prophet was risen among them, and they expect to be speedily

instructed in all righteousness. The conversion of a sinner to

God should be matter of public joy to all that fear his name; and

should be considered as a full proof that the God of our fathers

is still among their children. See Lu 7:16.

3. They published abroad the account. The work of the grace of

God should be made known to all: the Gospel should be preached in

every place; and the miracle-working power of Christ every where

recommended to notice. If those who are raised from the death of

sin were more zealous in discoursing of, walking in, and

recommending the Gospel of the grace of God, the kingdom of Christ

would soon have a more extensive spread; and the souls thus

employed would be incessantly watered from on high.

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