Luke 10


Christ appoints seventy disciples to go before him, two by two,

to preach, heal, &c., 1-12.

Pronounces woes on Chorazin and Capernaum, 13-16.

The seventy return, and give account of their mission, 17-20.

Christ rejoices that the things which were hidden from the wise

and prudent had been revealed unto babes, and shows the great

privileges of the Gospel, 21-24.

A lawyer inquires how he shall inherit eternal life, and is

answered, 25-29.

The story of the good Samaritan, 30-37.

The account of Martha and Mary, 38-42.


Verse 1. The Lord appointed other seventy] Rather, seventy

others, not other seventy, as our translation has it, which seems

to intimate that he had appointed seventy before this time,

though, probably, the word other has a reference to the twelve

chosen first: he not only chose twelve disciples to be constantly

with him; but he chose seventy others to go before him. Our

blessed Lord formed every thing in his Church on the model of the

Jewish Church; and why? Because it was the pattern shown by God

himself, the Divine form, which pointed out the heavenly substance

which now began to be established in its place. As he before had

chosen twelve apostles, in reference to the twelve patriarchs, who

were the chiefs of the twelve tribes, and the heads of the Jewish

Church, he now publicly appointed (for so the word ανεδειζεν

means) seventy others, as Moses did the seventy elders whom he

associated with himself to assist him in the government of the

people. Ex 18:19; 24:1-9. These Christ sent by

two and two: 1. To teach them the necessity of concord among the

ministers of righteousness. 2. That in the mouths of two witnesses

every thing might be established. And, 3. That they might comfort

and support each other in their difficult labour. See on Mr 6:7.

Several MSS. and versions have seventy-two. Sometimes the Jews

chose six out of each tribe: this was the number of the great

Sanhedrin. The names of these seventy disciples are found in the

margin of some ancient MSS., but this authority is questionable.

Verse 2. That he would send forth] εκβαλη. There seems to be an

allusion here to the case of reapers, who, though the harvest was

perfectly ripe, yet were in no hurry to cut it down. News of this

is brought to the Lord of the harvest the farmer, and he is

entreated to exert his authority, and hurry them out; and this he

does because the harvest is spoiling for want of being reaped and

gathered in. See the notes on Mt 9:37, 38.

Verse 3. Lambs among wolves.] See Clarke on Mt 10:16.

Verse 4. Carry neither purse nor scrip] See Clarke on Mt 10:9,

&c., and See Clarke on Mr 6:8, &c.

Salute no man by the way.] According to a canon of the Jews, a

man who was about any sacred work was exempted from all civil

obligations for the time; forasmuch as obedience to God was of

infinitely greater consequence than the cultivation of private

friendships, or the returning of civil compliments.

Verse 5. Peace be to this house] See Clarke on Mt 10:12.

Verse 6. The son of peace] In the Jewish style, a man who has

any good or bad quality is called the son of it. Thus, wise men

are called the children of wisdom, Mt 11:19; Lu 7:35. So,

likewise, what a man is doomed to, he is called the son of, as in

Eph 2:3, wicked men are styled the

children of wrath: so Judas is called the son of perdition,

Joh 17:12; and a man who

deserves to die is called, 2Sa 12:5, a

son of death. Son of peace in the text not only means a

peaceable, quiet man, but one also of good report for his

uprightness and benevolence. It would have been a dishonour to

this mission, had the missionaries taken up their lodgings with

those who had not a good report among them who were without.

Verse 7. The labourer is worthy] See on Mt 10:8, 12.

Go not from house to house.] See Clarke on Mt 10:11. It would

be a great offence among the Hindoos if a guest, after being made

welcome at a house, were to leave it and go to another.

Verse 9. The kingdom of God is come nigh unto you.] εφυμας, is

just upon you. This was the general text on which they were to

preach all their sermons. See it explained, Mt 3:2.

Verse 11. Even the very dust of your city] See on Mt 10:14, 15.

Verse 13. Wo unto thee, Chorazin!] See on Mt 11:21-24.

Verse 15. To hell.] To hades. See this explained, Mt 11:23.

Verse 16. He that despiseth you, despiseth me] "The holy,

blessed God said: 'Honour my statutes, for they are my

ambassadors: and a man's ambassador is like to himself. If thou

honour my precepts, it is the same as if thou didst honour me; and

if thou despise them, thou despisest me." R. Tancum. "He that

murmurs against his teacher is the same as if he had murmured

against the Divine Shekinah." Sanhedrin, fol. 110.

Verse 17. The seventy returned again with joy] Bishop PEARCE

thinks they returned while our Lord was on his slow journey to

Jerusalem, and that they had been absent only a few days.

Verse 18. I beheld Satan] Or, Satan himself, τονσαταναν, the

very Satan, the supreme adversary, falling as lightning, with the

utmost suddenness, as a flash of lightning falls from the clouds,

and at the same time in the most observable manner. The fall was

both very sudden and very apparent. Thus should the fall of the

corrupt Jewish state be, and thus was the fall of idolatry in the

Gentile world.

Verse 19. To tread on serpents, &c.] It is possible that by

serpents and scorpions our Lord means the scribes and Pharisees,

whom he calls serpents and a brood of vipers, Mt 23:33, (see

the note there,) because, through the subtilty and venom of the

old serpent, the devil, they opposed him and his doctrine; and, by

trampling on these, it is likely that he means, they should get a

complete victory over such: as it was an ancient custom to

trample on the kings and generals who had been taken in battle, to

signify the complete conquest which had been gained over them. See

Jos 10:24. See also Ro 16:20. See the notes on Mr 16:17, 18.

Verse 20. Because your names are written in heaven.] This form

of speech is taken from the ancient custom of writing the names of

all the citizens in a public register, that the several families

might be known, and the inheritances properly preserved. This

custom is still observed even in these kingdoms, though not

particularly noticed. Every child that is born in the land is

ordered to be registered, with the names of its parents, and the

time when born, baptized, or registered; and this register is

generally kept in the parish church, or in some public place of

safety. Such a register as this is called in Php 4:3; Re 3:5,

&c., the book of life, i.e. the book or register where the persons

were enrolled as they came into life. It appears also probable,

that when any person died, or behaved improperly, his name was

sought out and erased from the book, to prevent any confusion that

might happen in consequence of improper persons laying claim to an

estate, and to cut off the unworthy from the rights and privileges

of the peaceable, upright citizens. To this custom of blotting the

names of deceased and disorderly persons out of the public

registers, there appear to be allusions, Ex 32:32, where see the

note; and Re 3:5; De 9:14; 25:19; 29:20; 2Ki 14:27;

Ps 69:28; 109:13, and in other places.

Verse 21. Rejoiced in spirit] Was truly and heartily joyous:

felt an inward triumph. But τωπνευματιτωαγιω, the HOLY Spirit,

is the reading here of BCDKL, six others; the three Syriac, later

Persic, Coptic, AEthiopic, Armenian, Vulgate, all the Itala

except one, and Augustin and Bede. These might be considered

sufficient authority to admit the word into the text.

I thank thee] Bishop PEARCE justly observes, the thanks are

meant to be given to God for revealing them to babes, not for

hiding them from the others. See Clarke on Mt 11:25.

Thou hast hid] That is, thou hast not revealed them to the

scribes and Pharisees, who idolized their own wisdom; but thou

hast revealed them to the simple and humble of heart.

Verse 22. The Codex Alexandrinus, several other very ancient

MSS., and some ancient versions, as well as the margin of our own,

begin this verse with, And turning to his disciples, he said. But

as this clause begins Lu 10:23, it is not likely that it was

originally in both. Griesbach has left these words out of the

text, and Professor WHITE says, Certissime delenda, "These words

should most assuredly be erased."

Ver. 22. All things are delivered to me] See Clarke on Mt 11:27.

Verse 23. Blessed are the eyes which see the things that ye see]

There is a similar saying to this among the rabbins, in Sohar.

Genes., where it is said, "Blessed is that generation which the

earth shall bear, when the King Messiah cometh."

Verse 24. Many prophets] See on Mt 13:11, 17.

Verse 25. A certain lawyer] See Clarke on Mt 24:35.

Verse 27. Thou shalt love the Lord] See this important subject

explained at large, on Mt 22:37-40.

Thy neighbour as thyself.] See the nature of self-love

explained, on Mt 19:19.

Verse 29. Willing to justify himself] Wishing to make it appear

that he was a righteous man, and that consequently he was in the

straight road to the kingdom of God, said, Who is my neighbour?

supposing our Lord would have at once answered, "Every Jew is to

be considered as such, and the Jews only." Now as he imagined he

had never been deficient in his conduct to any person of his own

nation, he thought he had amply fulfilled the law. This is the

sense in which the Jews understood the word neighbour, as may be

seen from Le 19:15-18. But our Lord shows here, that the acts of

kindness which a man is bound to perform to his neighbour when in

distress, he should perform to any person, of whatever nation,

religion, or kindred, whom he finds in necessity. As the word

πλησιον signifies one who is near, Anglo Saxon [A.S.], he that

is next, this very circumstance makes any person our neighbour

whom we know; and, if in distress, an object of our most

compassionate regards. If a man came from the most distant part of

the earth, the moment he is near you he has a claim upon your

mercy and kindness, as you would have on his, were your

dwelling-place transferred to his native country. It is evident

that our Lord uses the word πλησιον (very properly translated

neighbour, from nae or naer, near, and buer, to dwell) in its

plain, literal sense. Any person whom you know, who dwells hard

by, or who passes near you, is your neighbour while within your


Verse 30. And Jesus answering] Rather, Then Jesus took him up.

This I believe to be the meaning of the word υπολαβων; he threw

out a challenge, and our Lord took him up on his own ground. See

WAKEFIELD'S Testament.

A certain man went down from Jerusalem] Or, A certain man of

Jerusalem going down to Jericho. This was the most public road in

all Judea, as it was the grand thoroughfare between these two

cities for the courses of priests, twelve thousand of whom are

said to have resided at Jericho. See Lightfoot.

Fell among thieves] At this time the whole land of Judea was

much infested with hordes of banditti; and it is not unlikely that

many robberies might have been committed on that very road to

which our Lord refers.

Verse 31. And by chance] κατασυγκυριαν properly means the

coincidence of time and circumstance. At the time in which the

poor Jew was half dead, through the wounds which he had received,

a priest came where he was. So the priest's coming while the man

was in that state is the coincidence marked out by the original


Verses 31. - 32. Priest and Levite are mentioned here, partly

because they were the most frequent travellers on this road, and

partly to show that these were the persons who, from the nature of

their office, were most obliged to perform works of mercy; and

from whom a person in distress had a right to expect immediate

succour and comfort; and their inhuman conduct here was a flat

breach of the law, De 22:1-4.

Verse 33. Samaritan is mentioned merely to show that he was a

person from whom a Jew had no right to expect any help or relief,

because of the enmity which subsisted between the two nations.

Verse 34. Pouring in oil and wine] These, beaten together,

appear to have been used formerly as a common medicine for fresh

wounds. Bind up a fresh cut immediately in a soft rag or lint,

moistened with pure olive oil, and the parts will heal by what is

called the first intention, and more speedily than by any other


An inn] πανδοχειον, from παν, all, and δεχομαι, I

receive; because it receives all comers.

Verse 35. Two pence] Two denarii, about fifteen pence,

English; and which, probably, were at that time of ten times more

value there than so much is with us now.

Verse 36. Which-was neighbour] Which fulfilled the duty which

one neighbour owes to another?

Verse 37. He that showed mercy] Or, so much mercy. His prejudice

would not permit him to name the Samaritan, yet his conscience

obliged him to acknowledge that he was the only righteous person

of the three.

Go, and do thou likewise] Be even to thy enemy in distress as

kind, humane, and merciful, as this Samaritan was. As the distress

was on the part of a Jew, and the relief was afforded by a

Samaritan, the lawyer, to be consistent with the decision he had

already given, must feel the force of our Lord's inference, that

it was his duty to act to any person, of whatever nation or

religion he might be, as this Samaritan had acted toward his

countryman. It is very likely that what our Lord relates here was

a real matter of fact, and not a parable; otherwise the captious

lawyer might have objected that no such case had ever existed, and

that any inference drawn from it was only begging the question;

but as he was, in all probability, in possession of the fact

himself, he was forced to acknowledge the propriety of our Lord's

inference and advice.

Those who are determined to find something allegorical, even in

the plainest portions of Scripture, affirm that the whole of this

relation is to be allegorically considered; and, according to

them, the following is the true exposition of the text.

The certain man means Adam-went down, his fall-from Jerusalem,

yorih shalom, he shall see peace, perfection, &c.,

meaning his state of primitive innocence and excellence-to

Jericho, ( yareacho, his moon,) the transitory and

changeable state of existence in this world-thieves, sin and

Satan-stripped, took away his righteousness, which was the

clothing of the soul-wounded, infected his heart with all evil and

hurtful desires, which are the wounds of the spirit-half dead,

possessing a living body, carrying about a soul dead in sin.

The priest, the moral law-the Levite, the ceremonial law-passed

by, either could not or would not afford any relief, because by

the law is the knowledge of sin, not the cure of it. A certain

Samaritan, Christ; for so he was called by the Jews,

Joh 8:48

-as he journeyed, meaning his coming from heaven to earth; his

being incarnated-came where he was, put himself in man's place,

and bore the punishment due to his sins-had compassion, it is

through the love and compassion of Christ that the work of

redemption was accomplished-went to him, Christ first seeks the

sinner, who, through his miserable estate, is incapable of seeking

or going to Christ-bound up his wounds, gives him comfortable

promises, and draws him by his love-pouring in oil, pardoning

mercy-wine, the consolations of the Holy Ghost-set him on his own

beast, supported him entirely by his grace and goodness, so that

he no longer lives, but Christ lives in him-took him to an inn,

his Church, uniting him with his people-took care of him, placed

him under the continual notice of his providence and love-when he

departed, when he left the world and ascended to the Father-took

out two pence, or denarii, the law and the Gospel; the one to

convince of sin, the other to show how it is to be removed-gave

them to the host, the ministers of the Gospel for the edification

of the Church of Christ-take care of him, as they are Gods

watchmen and God's stewards, they are to watch over the flock of

Christ, and give to each his portion of meat in due season. What

thou spendest more, if thou shouldst lose thy health and life in

this work-when I come again, to judge the world, I will repay

thee, I will reward thee with an eternity of glory.

Several primitive and modern fathers treat the text in this way.

What I have given before is, I believe, the meaning of our blessed

Lord. What I have given here is generally true in itself, but

certainly does not follow from the text. Mr. Baxter's note here is

good: "They who make the wounded man Adam, and the good Samaritan

Christ, abuse the passage." A practice of this kind cannot be too

strongly reprehended. Men may take that advantage of the

circumstances of the case to illustrate the above facts and

doctrines; but let no man say this is the meaning of the relation;

no: but he may say, we may make this use of it. Though I cannot

recommend this kind of preaching, yet I know that some simple

upright souls have been edified by it. I dare not forbid a man to

work by whom God may choose to work a miracle, because he follows

not with us. But such a mode of interpretation I can never


Verse 38. A certain village] If this village was Bethany, where

Martha and Mary lived, at less than two miles' distance from

Jerusalem, see Joh 11:1, 18; 12:2, then this must have happened

later than Luke places it; because, in Lu 19:29, he represents

Jesus as having arrived after this at Bethany; and what is said in

Lu 13:22, and Lu 17:11, seems to confirm that this visit of

Jesus to Martha and Mary ought to be placed later. Bishop PEARCE.

Received him] Kindly received, υπεδεξατο, she received him

in a friendly manner, under her roof; and entertained him

hospitably. So the word is used in the best Greek writers.

Martha is supposed by some to have been a widow, with whom her

brother Lazarus and sister Mary lodged.

Verse 39. Sat at Jesus' feet] This was the posture of the Jewish

scholars, while listening to the instructions of the rabbins. It

is in this sense that St. Paul says he was brought up at the FEET

of Gamaliel, Ac 22:3.

Verse 40. Martha was cumbered] περιεσπατο, perplexed, from

περι, about, and σπαω, I draw. She was harassed with

different cares and employments at the same time; one drawing one

way, and another, another: a proper description of a worldly mind.

But in Martha's favour it may be justly said, that all her anxiety

was to provide suitable and timely entertainment for our Lord and

his disciples; for this is the sense in which the word διακοςιας,

serving, should be taken. And we should not, on the merest

supposition, attribute earthly-mindedness to a woman whose

character stands unimpeachable in the Gospel; and who, by

entertaining Christ and his disciples, and providing liberally for

them, gave the highest proof that she was influenced by liberality

and benevolence, and not by parsimony or covetousness.

Dost thou not care] Dost thou not think it wrong, that my sister

thus leaves me to provide and prepare this supper, alone?

Help me.] συναντιλαβηται, from συν, together, and

αντιλαμβανομαι, to support. The idea is taken from two pillars

meeting together at the top, exactly over the centre of the

distance between their bases, and thus mutually supporting each

other. Order her to unite her skill and strength with mine, that

the present business may be done with that speed and in that order

which the necessity and importance of the case demand.

Verse 41. Thou art careful and troubled] Thou art distracted,

μεριμνας, thy mind is divided, (See Clarke on Mt 13:22,) in

consequence of which, τυρβαζη, thou art disturbed, thy spirit is

thrown into a tumult.

About many things.] Getting a variety of things ready for this

entertainment, much more than are necessary on such an occasion.

Verse 42. One thing is needful] This is the end of the sentence,

according to Bengel. "Now Mary hath chosen, &c.," begins a new

one. One single dish, the simplest and plainest possible, is such

as best suits me and my disciples, whose meat and drink it is to

do the will of our heavenly Father.

Mary hath chosen that good part] That is, of hearing my word, of

which she shall not be deprived; it being at present of infinitely

greater importance to attend to my teaching than to attend to any

domestic concerns. While thou art busily employed in providing

that portion of perishing food for perishing bodies, Mary has

chosen that spiritual portion which endures for ever, and which

shall not be taken away from her; therefore I cannot command her

to leave her present employment, and go and help thee to bring

forward a variety of matters, which are by no means necessary at

this time. Our Lord both preached and practised the doctrine of

self-denial; he and his disciples were contented with a little,

and sumptuous entertainments are condemned by the spirit and

design of his Gospel.

Multos morbos, multa fercula fecerunt. SENECA.

"Many dishes, many diseases."

Bishop PEARCE remarks that the word χρεια, needful, is used

after the same manner for want of food in Mr 2:25, where of David

it is said, χρειανεσχε, he had need, when it means he was hungry.

I believe the above to be the true meaning of these verses; but

others have taken a somewhat different sense from them: especially

when they suppose that by one thing needful our Lord means the

salvation of the soul. To attend to this is undoubtedly the most

necessary of all things, and should be the first, the grand

concern of every human spirit; but in my opinion it is not the

meaning of the words in the text. It is only prejudice from the

common use of the words in this way that could make such an

interpretation tolerable. KYPKE in loc. has several methods of

interpreting this passage. Many eminent commentators, both ancient

and modern, consider the text in the same way I have done. But

this is termed by some, "a frigid method of explaining the

passage;" well, so let it be; but he that fears God will sacrifice

every thing at the shrine of TRUTH. I believe this alone to be the

true meaning o� the place, and I dare not give it any other.

Bengelius points the whole passage thus: Martha, Martha, thou

art careful and troubled about many things: but one thing is

needful. Now, Mary hath chosen that good portion, which shall not

be taken away from her.

THAT the salvation of the soul is the first and greatest of all

human concerns, every man must acknowledge who feels that he has a

soul; and in humility of mind to hear Jesus, is the only way of

getting that acquaintance with the doctrine of salvation without

which how can he be saved? While we fancy we are in no spiritual

necessity, the things which concern salvation will not appear

needful to us! A conviction that we are spiritually poor must

precede our application for the true riches. The whole, says

Christ, need not the physician, but those who are sick. Martha has

been blamed, by incautious people, as possessing a carnal, worldly

spirit; and as Mary Magdalene has been made the chief of all

prostitutes, so has Martha of all the worldly-minded. Through her

affectionate respect for our Lord and his disciples, and through

that alone, she erred. There is not the slightest intimation that

she was either worldly-minded or careless about her soul; nor was

she at this time improperly employed, only so far as the abundance

of her affection led her to make a greater provision than was

necessary on the occasion. Nor are our Lord's words to be

understood as a reproof; they are a kind and tender expostulation,

tending to vindicate the conduct of Mary. The utmost that can be

said on the subject is, Martha was well employed, but Mary, on

this occasion, better.

If we attend to the punctuation of the original text, the

subject will appear more plain. I shall transcribe the text from

Bengel's own edition, Stutgardiae, 1734, 12mo. Lu 10:41, 42,

v. 41. αποκριθειςδεειπεναυτηοιησουςμαρθαμαρθαμεριμναςκαι


εξελεξατοητιςουκαφαιρεθησεταιαπαυτης. "Then Jesus answered

her, Martha, Martha, thou art anxiously careful and disturbed

about many things; but one thing is necessary. But Mary hath

chosen that good portion which shall not be taken away from her."

I have shown, in my notes, that Martha was making a greater

provision for her guests than was needful; that it was in

consequence of this that she required her sister's help; that

Jesus tenderly reproved her for her unnecessary anxiety and

superabundant provision, and asserted that but one thing, call it

course or dish, was necessary on the occasion, yet she had

provided many; and that this needless provision was the cause of

the anxiety and extra labour. Then, taking occasion, from the

circumstances of the case, to vindicate Mary's conduct, and to

direct his loving reproof more pointedly at Martha's heart, he

adds, Mary hath chosen a good portion; that is, she avails herself

of the present opportunity to hear my teaching, and inform herself

in those things which are essential to the salvation of the soul.

I cannot, therefore, order her to leave my teaching, to serve in

what I know to be an unnecessary service, however kindly designed:

for it would be as unjust to deprive her of this bread of life,

after which she so earnestly hungers, as to deprive thee, or thy

guests, of that measure of common food necessary to sustain

life. All earthly portions are perishing: "Meats for the belly,

and the belly for meats, but God will destroy both it and then;

but the work of the Lord abideth for ever;" her portion,

therefore, shall not be taken away from her. This is my view of

the whole subject; and all the terms in the original, not only

countenance this meaning, but necessarily require it. The words,

one thing is needful, on which we lay so much stress, are

wanting in some of the most ancient MSS., and are omitted by some

of the fathers, who quote all the rest of the passage: a plain

proof that the meaning which we take out of them was not thought

of in very ancient times; and in other MSS., versions, and

fathers, there is an unusual variety of readings where even the

thing, or something like it, is retained. Some have it thus;

Martha, Martha, thou labourest much, and yet a little is

sufficient, yea, one thing only. Others: And only one thing is

required. Others: Thou art curious and embarrassed about many

things, when that which is needful is very small. Others: But here

there need only a few things. Others: But a few things, or one

only, is necessary. Now these are the readings of almost all the

ancient versions; and we plainly perceive, by them, that what we

term the one thing needful, is not understood by one of them as

referring to the salvation of the soul, but to the provision THEN

to be made. It would be easy to multiply authorities, but I spare

both my own time and that of my reader. In short, I wonder how the

present most exceptionable mode of interpretation ever obtained;

as having no countenance in the text, ancient MSS. or versions,

and as being false in itself; for even Christ himself could not

say, that sitting at his feet, and hearing his word, was the ONE

thing NEEDFUL. Repentance, faith, prayer, obedience, and a

thousand other things are necessary to our salvation, besides

merely hearing the doctrines of Christ, even with the humblest


Copyright information for Clarke