Luke 11


Christ teaches his disciples to pray, 1-4.

Shows the necessity of importunity in prayer, 5-13.

Casts out a dumb demon, 14.

The Jews ascribe this to the power of Beelzebub; our Lord

vindicates his conduct, 15-23.

Miserable state of the Jews, 24-26.

Who they are that are truly blessed, 27, 28.

He preaches to the people, 29-36.

A Pharisee invites him to dine with him, who takes offence

because he washed not his hands, 37, 38.

Our Lord exposes their hypocrisy, 39-44.

He denounces woes against the lawyers, 45-52.

The scribes and Pharisees are greatly offended, and strive to

entangle him in his words, 53, 54.


Verse 1. - 5. Teach us to pray] See the nature of prayer, with

an ample explanation of the different parts of the Lord's Prayer,

treated of in Mt 6:5-16. The prayer related here by Luke is not

precisely the same as that mentioned by Matthew; and indeed it is

not likely that it was given at the same time. That in Matthew

seems to have been given after the second passover; and this in

Luke was given probably after the third passover, between the

feasts of tabernacles, and the dedication. It is thus that Bishop

Newcome places them in his Greek Harmony of the Gospels.

There are many variations in the MSS. in this prayer; but they

seem to have proceeded principally from the desire of rendering

this similar to that in Matthew. Attempts of this nature have

given birth to multitudes of the various readings in the MSS. of

the New Testament. It should be remarked, also, that there is no

vestige of the doxology found in Matthew, in any copy of St.

Luke's Gospel.

Verse 4. Lead us not into temptation, &c.] Dr. Lightfoot

believes that this petition is intended against the visible

apparitions of the devil, and his actual obsessions; he thinks

that the meaning is too much softened by our translation. Deliver

us from evil, is certainly a very inadequate rendering of ρυσαι

ημαςαποτουπονηρου; literally, Deliver us from the wicked one.

Verse 6. In his journey is come] Or, perhaps more literally, A

friend of mine is come to me out of his way, εξοδου, which

renders the case more urgent-a friend of mine, benighted, belated,

and who has lost his way, is come unto me. This was a strong

reason why he should have prompt relief.

Verse 7. My children are with me in bed] Or, I and my children

are in bed; this is Bishop PEARCE'S translation, and seems to some

preferable to the common one. See a like form of speech in

1Co 16:11, and in Eph 3:18. However, we may conceive that he

had his little children, ταπαιδια, in bed with him; and this

heightened the difficulty of yielding to his neighbour's request.

But if he persevere knocking. (At si ille perseveraverit

pulsans.) This sentence is added to the beginning of Lu 11:8,

by the Armenian, Vulgate, four copies of the Itala, Ambrose,

Augustin, and Bede. On these authorities (as I find it in no Greek

MS.) I cannot insert it as a part of the original text; but it is

necessarily implied; for, as Bishop Pearce justly observes, unless

the man in the parable be represented as continuing to solicit his

friend, he could not possibly be said to use importunity: once

only to ask is not to be importunate.

Verse 9. And (or, therefore) I say unto you, Ask] Be

importunate with God, not so much to prevail on him to save you,

as to get yourselves brought into a proper disposition to receive

that mercy which he is ever disposed to give. He who is not

importunate for the salvation of his soul does not feel the need

of being saved; and were God to communicate his mercy to such they

could not be expected to be grateful for it, as favours are only

prized and esteemed in proportion to the sense men have of their

necessity and importance. See this subject explained Mt 7:7, 8.

Verse 12. Offer him a scorpion?] σκορπιον. The Greek

etymologists derive the name from σκορπιζειντονιον, scattering

the poison. But is there any similitude between a scorpion and an

egg, that the one might be given and taken in place of the

other? We know there is the utmost similitude between some fish,

especially those of the eel kind, and serpents: and that there are

stones exactly similar to bread in their appearance; from which we

may conjecture that our Lord intended to convey the same idea of

similitude between an egg and a scorpion. Perhaps the word

scorpion here may be used for any kind of serpent that proceeds

from an egg, or the word egg may be understood: the common snake

is oviparous; it brings forth a number of eggs, out of which the

young ones are hatched. If he asks an egg, will he, for one that

might nourish him, give him that of a serpent. But Bochart

states, that the body of a scorpion is like to an egg, especially

if it be a white scorpion; which sort Nicander, AElian, Avicenna,

and others, maintain to be the first species. Nor do scorpions

differ much in size from an egg in Judea, if we may credit what

the monks of Messua say, that there are about Jerusalem, and

through all Syria, great scorpions, &c. Hieroz. l. iv. cap. xxix.

col. 641, edit. 1692. To this it may be said, there may be such a

similitude, between a white scorpion and an egg, if the legs and

tail of the former be taken away; but how there can be a

resemblance any other way, I know not. It is, however, a fact,

that the alligator and crocodile come from eggs; two of those lie

now before me, scarcely so large as the egg of the goose, longer,

but not so thick. Now, suppose reference be made to one such egg,

in which the young crocodile is hatched, and is ready to burst

from its enclosure, would any father give such an egg to a hungry

child? No. If the child asked an egg, he would not, instead of a

proper one, give him that of the crocodile or the alligator, in

which the young serpent was hatched, and from which it was just

ready to be separated.

Verse 13. The Holy Spirit] Or, as several MSS. have it, πνευμα

αγαθον, the good spirit. See Clarke on Mt 7:11.

Verse 14. Casting out a devil] See Clarke on Mt 12:22.

Verse 19. Beelzebub] See Clarke on Mt 10:25.

Verse 20. Finger of God] See Clarke on Ex 8:19.

Verse 24. When the unclean spirit] See Clarke on Mt 12:43.

Verse 27. A certain woman-lifted up her voice, and said] It was

very natural for a woman, who was probably a mother, to exclaim

thus. She thought that the happiness of the woman who was mother

to such a son was great indeed; but our blessed Lord shows her

that even the holy virgin could not be benefited by her merely

being the mother of his human nature, and that they only were

happy who carried Christ in their hearts. True happiness is found

in hearing the glad tidings of salvation by Christ Jesus, and

keeping them in a holy heart, and practising them in an

unblamable life.

Verse 29. This is an evil generation] Or, This is a wicked race

of men. See on Mt 12:38-42.

Verse 31. The queen of the south, &c.] Perhaps it would be

better to translate, A queen of the south, and the men of this

race, shall rise up in judgment, &c.

See Clarke on Lu 11:7. The

32d verse Lu 11:32 may be read in the same way.

Verse 33. No man, when he hath lighted, &c.]

See Clarke on Mt 5:15.

Our Lord intimates, that if he worked a miracle among such an

obstinate people, who were determined to disbelieve every evidence

of his Messiahship, he should act as a man who lighted a candle

and then covered it with a bushel, which must prevent the

accomplishment of the end for which it was lighted.

See also Clarke on "Mr 4:21", &c.

Verse 34. The light of the body is the eye] Or, the eye is the

lamp of the body. See Clarke on Mt 6:22, &c.

The 35th and 36th verses are wanting in some MSS., and are

variously read in others.

Verse 36. The whole shall be full of light] Or, altogether

enlightened; i.e. when the eye is perfect, it enlightens the whole

body. Every object within the reach of the eye is as completely

seen as if there was an eye in every part. So the eye is to every

part of the body what the lamp is to every part of the house.

When the light of Christ dwells fully in the heart, it extends

its influence to every thought, word, and action; and directs its

possessor how he is to act in all places and circumstances. It is

of the utmost importance to have the soul properly influenced by

the wisdom that comes from above. The doctrine that is contrary to

the Gospel may say, Ignorance is the mother of devotion; but

Christ shows that there can be no devotion without heavenly light.

Ignorance is the mother of superstition; but with this the

heavenly light has nothing to do.

Verse 37. To dine] οπωςαριστηση. The word αριστειν dignifies

the first eating of the day. The Jews made but two meals in the

day; their αριστον may be called their breakfast or their dinner,

because it was both, and was but a slight meal. Their chief meal

was their δειπνον or supper, after the heat of the day was over;

and the same was the principal meal among the Greeks and Romans.

Josephus, in his Life, says, sect. 54, that the legal hour of

the αριστον, on the Sabbath, was the sixth hour, or at twelve

o'clock at noon, as we call it. What the hour was on the other

days of the week, he does not say; but probably it was much the

same. Bishop PEARCE.

Verse 38. First washed] See Clarke on Mr 7:2-4.

Verse 39. Ye-make clean the outside] See Clarke on Mt 23:25.

Verse 40. Did not he that made that which is without] Did not

the maker of the dish form it so, both outwardly and inwardly, as

to answer the purpose for which it was made? And can it answer

this purpose without being clean in the inside as well as on the

outside? God has made you such, both as to your bodies and souls,

as he intended should show forth his praise; but can you think

that the purpose of God can be accomplished by you while you only

attend to external legal purifications, your hearts being full of

rapine and wickedness? How unthinking are you to imagine that God

can be pleased with this outward purification, when all within is


Verse 41. Give alms of such things as ye have] Meaning either

what was within the dishes spoken of before; or what was within

their houses or power: or what they had at hand, for so τα

ενοντα is used by the purest Greek writers. Cease from rapine: far

from spoiling the poor by wicked exactions, rather give them alms

of every thing you possess; and when a part of every thing you

have is sincerely consecrated to God for the use of the poor,

then all that remains will be clean unto you; you will have the

blessing of God in your basket and store, and every thing will be

sanctified to you. These verses are very difficult, and are

variously translated and interpreted by critics and divines. I

have given what I believe to be our Lord's meaning, in the

preceding paraphrase. For a description of the rapine, &c., of the

Pharisees, See Clarke on Mt 23:25.

Verse 42. Ye tithe mint and rue] See Clarke on Mt 23:23.

Verse 43. Ye love the uppermost seats] Every one of them

affected to be a ruler in the synagogues. See Clarke on Mt 23:5.

Verse 44. Ye are as graves which appear not] In Mt 23:27, our

Lord tells them that they exactly resembled white-washed tombs:

they had no fairness but on the outside: (see the note there:) but

here he says they are like hidden tombs, graves which were not

distinguished by any outward decorations, and were not elevated

above the ground, so that those who walked over them did not

consider what corruption was within; so they, under the veil of

hypocrisy, covered their iniquities, so that those who had any

intercourse or connection with them did not perceive what

accomplished knaves they had to do with.

Verse 45. Thou reproachest as] He alone who searches the heart

could unmask these hypocrites; and he did it so effectually that

their own consciences acknowledged the guilt, and re-echoed their

own reproach.

Verse 46. Ye lade men with burdens] By insisting on the

observance of the traditions of the elders, to which it appears,

by the way, they paid no great attention themselves.

See Clarke on Mt 23:4.

Verse 47. Ye build the sepulchres] That is, ye rebuild and

beautify them. See Clarke on Mt 23:29.

Verse 48. Truly ye bear witness] Ye acknowledge that those of

old who killed the prophets were your fathers, and ye are about to

show, by your conduct towards me and my apostles, that ye are not

degenerated, that ye are as capable of murdering a prophet now,

as they were of old.

Verse 49. The wisdom of God] These seem to be Luke's words, and

to mean that Jesus, the wisdom of God, (as he is called,

1Co 1:24,) added the words which follow here, on that

occasion: and this interpretation of the words is agreeable to

that of Matthew, who makes Jesus speak in his own person:

Wherefore behold, I send you prophets, &c., Mt 23:34. See the

note there, and see Bishop PEARCE.

Verse 50. That the blood] That the particle ινα may be

translated so that, pointing out the event only, not the design

or intention, Bishop Pearce has well shown in his note on this

place, where he refers to a like use of the word in

Lu 9:45; 14:10; Joh 10:17; Ro 5:20; 11:11; 1Co 1:15, 31,


Verse 51. From the blood of Abel] See this subject explained at

large on Mt 23:34.

Required] εκζητηθησεται may be translated either by the word

visited or revenged, and the latter word evidently conveys the

meaning of our Lord. They are here represented as having this

blood among them; and it is intimated that God will come by and by

to require it, and to inquire how it was shed, and to punish

those who shed it.

Verse 52. Ye have taken away the key of knowledge] By your

traditions ye have taken away the true method of interpreting the

prophecies: ye have given a wrong meaning to those scriptures

which speak of the kingdom of the Messiah, and the people are

thereby hindered from entering into it. See Clarke on Mt 23:13.

Verse 53. Began to urge him vehemently] δεινωςενεχειν, They

began to be furious. They found themselves completely unmasked

in the presence of a vast concourse of people. See Lu 12:1, (for

we can not suppose that all this conversation passed while Christ

was at meat in the Pharisee's house, as Matthew, Mt 23:25, shows

that these words were spoken on another occasion.) They therefore

questioned him on a variety of points, and hoped, by the multitude

and impertinence of their questions, to puzzle or irritate him, so

as to induce him to speak rashly, (for this is the import of the

word αποστοματιζειν,) that they might find some subject of

accusation against him. See Wetstein and Kypke.

A MINISTER of the Gospel of God should, above all men, be

continent of his tongue; his enemies, in certain cases, will crowd

question upon question, in order so to puzzle and confound him

that he may speak unadvisedly with his lips, and thus prejudice

the truth he was labouring to promote and defend. The following is

a good prayer, which all who are called to defend or proclaim the

truths of the Gospel may confidently offer to their God. "Let thy

wisdom and light, O Lord, disperse their artifice and my darkness!

Cast the bright beams of thy light upon those who have to defend

themselves against subtle and deceitful men! Raise and animate

their hearts, that they may not be wanting to the cause of truth.

Guide their tongue, that they may not be deficient in prudence,

nor expose thy truth by any indiscretions or unseasonable

transports of zeal. Let meekness, gentleness, and longsuffering

influence and direct their hearts; and may they ever feel the full

weight of that truth: The wrath of man worketh not the

righteousness of God!" The following advice of one of the ancients

is good: στηθιεδαιοςωςακμωντυπτομενοςκαλουγαραθλητου

δερεσθαικαινικαν. "Stand thou firm as a beaten anvil: for it is

the part of a good soldier to be flayed alive, and yet conquer."

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