PARAGRAPH DIVISIONS OF MODERN TRANSLATIONS
|Some Women Accompany Jesus||Many Women Ministered to Jesus||On Tour||Women Who Accompanied Jesus||The women Accompanying Jesus|
|The Parable of the Sower||The Parable of the Sower||The Parable of the Sower||The Parable of the Sower||The Parable of the Sower|
|The Purpose of the Parables||The Purpose of the Parables||Purpose of the Parables||Why Jesus Speaks in Parables|
|The Parable of the Sower Explained||The Parable of the Sower Explained||Jesus Explains the Parable of the Sower||The Parable of the Sower Explained|
|A Light Under a Vessel||The Parable of the Revealed Light||On Obedient Listening||A Lamp Under a Bowl||Parable of the Lamp|
|The Mother and Brothers of Jesus||Jesus' Mother and Brothers Come to Him||Jesus' True Family||Jesus' Mother and Brothers||The True Family of Jesus|
|The Calming of a Storm||Wind and Waves Obey Jesus||Wind and Sea Calmed||Jesus Calms a Storm||The Calming of the Storm|
|The Healing of the Gerasene Demoniac||A Demon-Possessed Man Healed||The Gerasene Demoniac||Jesus Heals a Man with Demons||The Gerasene Demoniac|
|Jairus' Daughter and the Woman Who Touched Jesus' Garment||A Girl Restored to Life and a Woman Healed||Jairus' Daughter Raised||Jairus' Daughter and the Woman Who Touched Jesus' Cloak||Cure of the woman with a Hemorrhage – Jairus' Daughter Raise to Life|
READING CYCLE THREE (from "A Guide to Good Bible Reading")
FOLLOWING THE ORIGINAL AUTHOR'S INTENT AT THE PARAGRAPH LEVEL
This is a study guide commentary, which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.
Read the chapter in one sitting. Identify the subjects. Compare your subject divisions with the five translations above. Paragraphing is not inspired, but it is the key to following the original author's intent, which is the heart of interpretation. Every paragraph has one and only one subject.
1. First paragraph
2. Second paragraph
3. Third paragraph
A. This chapter is made up of several incidents
1. the parable of the soils, Luke 8:1-18
2. Jesus deals with His own family, Luke 8:19-21
3. Jesus calms a storm, Luke 8:22-25
4. Jesus heals the Gadarene Demoniac, Luke 8:26-39
5. Jesus raises Jairus' daughter and heals a woman with an issue of blood, Luke 8:40-55
The Gospels were written many years after Jesus' life. Those who write the Gospels (by the aid of the Spirit) were culturally accustomed to oral teaching. The rabbis taught by oral presentation. Jesus continued this oral approach to teaching. To our knowledge He never wrote down any of His teachings or sermons. To aid in the memory, teaching presentations were repeated, summarized, and illustrated. The Gospel writers retained these memory aids. Parables are one of these techniques. Parables are hard to define:
"Parables are best defined as stories with two levels of meaning; the story level provides a mirror by which reality is perceived and understood" (Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels [p. 594]).
"A parable is a saying or story that seeks to drive home a point that the speaker wishes to emphasize by illustrating it from a familiar situation of common life" (The Zondervan Pictorial Bible Encyclopedia [p. 590]).
It is hard to define exactly what was understood by the term "parable" in Jesus' day
1. Some say it reflects the Hebrew term mashal, which was any kind of riddle (Mark 3:23), clever saying (Proverbs, Luke 4:23), short saying (Mark 7:15) or mysterious saying ("dark saying").
2. Others hold to the more limited definition of a short story.
This was a major NT literary genre. Depending on how one defines the term, over one-third of Jesus' recorded teachings are in parabolic form. Parables are certainly authentic sayings of Jesus. If one accepts the second definition, there are still several different types of short stories
1. simple stories (Luke 13:6-9)
2. complex stories (Luke 15:11-32)
3. contrasting stories (Luke 16:1-8; 18:1-8)
4. typological/allegorical stories (Matt. 13:24-30, 47-50; Luke 8:4-8, 11-15; 10:25-37; 14:16-24; 20:9-19; John 10; 15:1-8)
In dealing with this variety of parabolic material, one must interpret these sayings on several levels.
The first level would be general hermeneutic principles applicable to all biblical genres:
1. identify the purpose of the entire book, or at least the larger literary unit in which the parable appears
2. identify the original audience. It is significant that the same parable is sometimes given to different groups.
a. lost sheep in Luke 15 directed to sinners
b. lost sheep in Matthew 18 directed toward disciples
3. be sure to note the immediate context of the parable. Often Jesus or the Gospel writer tells the main point (usually at the end of the parable or immediately after it).
4. express the central intent(s) of the parable in one declarative sentence. Parables often have two or three main characters. Usually there is an implied truth, purpose, or point to each character.
5. check the parallel passages in the other Gospels, then other NT books and OT books.
The second level of interpretive principles are those that relate specifically to parabolic material:
1. Read (hear if possible) the parable again and again. These were given for oral impact, not written analysis.
2. Most parables have only one central truth, which is related to the historical and literary contexts of both Jesus and/or the evangelist.
3. Be careful of interpreting the details making it an allegory instead of a parable. Often they are just part of the setting of the story.
4. Remember parables are not reality. They are life-like analogies, but often exaggerations, to drive home a point (truth).
5. Identify the main points of the story that a first century Jewish audience would have understood. Then look for the twist or surprise. Usually it comes toward the end of the story (cf. A. Berkeley Mickelsen, Interpreting the Bible, pp. 221-224).
6. All parables were given to elicit a response. That response is usually related to the concept of "the Kingdom of God." Jesus was the inaugurator of the new Messianic Kingdom (Matt. 21:31; Luke 17:21). Those who heard Him must respond to Him now! The Kingdom is also future (Matthew 25). A person's future is dependent on how he responded to Jesus at the time. Kingdom parables described the new kingdom that had arrived in Jesus. They described its ethical and radical demands for discipleship. Nothing can be as it was. All is radically new and focused on Jesus!
7. Parables often do not express the point or central truth. The interpreter must seek the contextual keys that reveal the original culturally obvious central truths which, because of time, language, and culture, are now obscure to us.
A third level that is often controversial is that of the hiddenness of parabolic truth. Jesus often spoke of the hiddenness of parables (cf. Matt. 13:9-15; Mark 4:9-13; Luke 8:8-10; John 10:6; 16:25). This is related to the prophecy in Isa. 6:9-10. The heart of the hearer determines the level of understanding (cf. Matt. 11:15; 13:9,15,16,43; Mark 4:9,23,33-34; 7:16; 8:18; Luke 8:8; 9:44; 14:35).
However, it must also be stated that often the crowd (cf. Matt. 15:10; Mark 7:14) and the Pharisees (cf. Matt. 21:45; Mark 12:12; Luke 20:19) understood exactly what Jesus was saying, but refused to respond appropriately by faith and repentance. In one sense this is the truth of the Parable of the Soils (cf. Matt. 13; Mark 4; Luke 8). The parables could conceal or reveal truth (cf. Matt. 13:16-17; 16:12; 17:13; Luke 8:10; 10:23-24).
Grant Osborne, Hermeneutical Spiral, p. 239, makes the point that "parables are an 'encounter mechanism' and function differently depending on the audience. . .Each group (i.e., leaders, crowds, disciples) is encountered differently by the parables." Often even the disciples did not understand either His parables or His teachings (cf. Matt. 15:16; Mark 6:52; 7:18; 8:17-18,21,33; 9:10,32; Luke 9:45; 18:34; John 12:16).
A fourth level is also controversial. It deals with the central truth of parables. Most modern interpreters have reacted (justifiably so) against the allegorical interpretation of the parables. Allegory turned the details into elaborate systems of truth. This method of interpretation does not focus on the historical setting, literary setting, or authorial intent; it presents the thoughts of the interpreter, not the inspired text.
However, it must be admitted that the parables that Jesus interpreted are very close to allegorical or at least typological. Jesus used the details to convey truth (the Sower, Matthew 13; Mark 4; Luke 8 and the wicked tenants, Matthew 21; Mark 12, Luke 20).
Some of the other parables also have several main truths. A good example is the parable of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-32). It is not only the love of the Father and waywardness of the younger son, but also the attitude of the older son, that is integral to the full meaning of the parable.
Here is a helpful statement from Linguistics and Biblical Interpretation by Peter Cotterell and Max Turner:
"It was Adulf Julicher more than any other who directed New Testament scholarship towards a decisive attempt to understand the role of parable in the teaching of Jesus. The radical allegorizing of the parables was abandoned and the search begun for a key that would enable us to penetrate their true meaning. But as Jeremias made clear, 'His efforts to free the parables from the fantastic and arbitrary interpretations of every detail caused him to fall into a fatal error.' The error was to insist not merely that a parable should be understood as conveying a single idea, but that the idea should be as general as possible" (p. 308).
Another helpful statement from The Hermeneutical Spiral by Grant Osborne is:
"Yet I have noted many indications that the parables are indeed allegories, albeit controlled by the author's intention. Blomberg (1990) in fact argues that there are as many points as there are characters in the parables and that they are indeed allegories. While this is somewhat overstated, it is nearer the truth than the 'one point' approach" (p. 240).
Should parables be used to teach doctrinal truths or illuminate doctrinal truths? Most interpreters have been influenced by the abuse of the allegorical method of interpreting parables, which allowed them to establish doctrines that had no connection to Jesus' original intent or that of the Gospel writer. Meaning must be linked to authorial intent. Jesus and the Gospel writers were under inspiration, but interpreters are not.
However badly the parables have been abused, they still function as vehicles of truth. Hear Bernard Ramm on this point!
"Parables do teach doctrine and the claim that they may not be used at all in doctrinal writing is improper. . .we must check our results with plain, evident teaching of our Lord, and with the rest of the New Testament. Parables with proper cautions may be used to illustrate doctrine, illuminate Christian experience and to teach practical lessons." Protestant Biblical Interpretation (p. 285).
In conclusion let me give three quotes that reflect warnings in our interpretation of parables:
1. Taken from How to Read the Bible For All Its Worth by Gordon Fee and Doug Stuart:
"The parables have suffered a fate of misinterpretation in the church second only to the Revelation" (p. 135).
2. Taken from Understanding and Applying the Bible by J. Robertson McQuilkin:
"Parables have been the source of untold blessing in enlightening God's people concerning spiritual truth. At the same time, parables have been the source of untold confusion in both doctrine and practice in the church" (p. 164).
3. Taken from The Hermeneutical Spiral by Grant Osborne:
"Parables have been among the most written about yet hermeneutically abused portions of Scripture. . .the most dynamic, yet the most difficult to comprehend of the biblical genres. The potential of the parable for communication is enormous, since it creates a comparison or story based upon everyday experiences. However, that story itself is capable of many meanings, and the modern reader has as much difficulty interpreting it as did the ancient hearers" (p. 235).
C. A Checklist for Interpreting Parables
1. General Hermeneutical Principles
a. What is the central purpose of:
(1) the whole Gospel
(2) the literary unit
(3) the immediate context
b. Identify, if possible, the original audience (disciples, crowd, religious leaders)
c. Seek the historical setting
(1) of Jesus
(2) of the Gospel author
d. What is the main truth(s) of the story
(1) express it in one declarative sentence
(2) list the main characters of the parable (usually 2 or 3) and assign a purpose, truth, or plot development to each
e. Check the other gospels for their use of the parabolic material. Is it the same or different?
2. Special Hermeneutics
a. Read (or better, listen to) the story again and again
b. Identify the cultural aspects of the story. Look for what would have surprised the original hearers. This surprising twist usually comes toward the end. It can be a statement of Jesus or the hearers or a character in the story or the Gospel writer
c. What response was Jesus seeking to elicit in the story?
WORD AND PHRASE STUDY
NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: LUKE 8:1-3
1Soon afterwards, He began going around from one city and village to another, proclaiming and preaching the kingdom of God. The twelve were with Him, 2and also some women who had been healed of evil spirits and sicknesses: Mary who was called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out, 3and Joanna the wife of Chuza, Herod's steward, and Susanna, and many others who were contributing to their support out of their private means.
NASB"from one city and village to another"
NKJV"every city and village"
NRSV"cities and villages"
TEV, NJB"towns and villages"
Jesus was trying to reach everyone with the Good News. This extensive tour of Galilee was precipitated by the leaders' rejection of Him in Judea.
▣ "proclaiming and preaching" These two Greek terms (kērussō and euangelizō) are synonymous. They (usually, but not always, cf. Luke 1:19) both reflect the public announcement of the gospel. Both of these are present participles.
▣ "the kingdom of God" This refers to the reign of God in human hearts now that will one day be consummated in God's reign over all the earth. This is the focal message of Jesus' ministry (cf. Matt. 6:10). See Special Topic at Luke 4:21.
▣ "The twelve" See Special Topic at Luke 6:13.
8:2 "some women who had been healed of evil spirits and sicknesses" This is a periphrastic perfect passive. Jesus had healed or exorcized this group of women. These women apparently followed and contributed to the needs of Jesus and the Apostolic group (money for sure and probably cooking, washing clothes, etc.). They traveled with Jesus and the Twelve. See Special Topic: The Demonic at Luke 4:33
▣ "Mary who was called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out" This phrase indicates that this personis being introduced for the first time. Therefore, she is not the woman who anointed Jesus at Simon's house.
This phrase says several things about her.
1. her given name – Mary
2. where she was born/grew up – Magdala (cf. Matt. 15:39)
3. her condition from which Jesus freed her – demon possession (the seven denotes a full and complete possession)
8:3 "Joanna" She is mentioned only here and in Luke 24:10. She was married to a servant of Herod Antipas (see Special Topic at Luke 3:1), which means she was a woman of means. How much or how often she traveled with Jesus and the Apostolic group is uncertain. She traveled through Galilee in Luke 8 and was present in Jerusalem during the Passion Week. She may have seen the crucifixion and helped prepare the spices for burial (cf. Luke 23:55-56). She then returned to the tomb (cf. Luke 24:10).
▣ "Susanna" There is no other mention of this woman in the NT.
NASB"to their support"
NKJV"who provided for Him"
NRSV, NJB"who provided for them"
TEV"to help Jesus and his disciples"
The Greek manuscript evidence is divided between the singular (cf. MSS א, A, L, and Matt. 27:55; Mark 15:41) and the plural(cf. MSS B, D, and W). It is hard to decide which is original (UBS4 gives the plural a "B" rating, meaning "almost certain"), but as with most variants, it really does not make much difference. Several women followed Jesus and the Apostles and helped them.
NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: LUKE 8:4-8
4When a large crowd was coming together, and those from the various cities were journeying to Him, He spoke by way of a parable: 5"The sower went out to sow his seed; and as he sowed, some fell beside the road, and it was trampled under foot and the birds of the air ate it up. 6Other seed fell on rocky soil, and as soon as it grew up, it withered away, because it had no moisture. 7Other seed fell among the thorns; and the thorns grew up with it and choked it out. 8Other seed fell into the good soil, and grew up, and produced a crop a hundred times as great." As He said these things, He would call out, "He who has ears to hear, let him hear."
8:4 "parable" See introduction to the chapter for hermeneutical helps.
8:5 "'The sower went out to sow his seed’" This would have been an agricultural procedure everyone in that culture would have identified with. There may have been a sower in the distance that Jesus pointed to.
This parable is repeated in all three Synoptic Gospels. In many ways this parable, accompanied with Jesus' interpretation, is the paradigm for all the rest.
Notice that salvation is not human discovery or merit, but divine revelation (word of God); also note this is not a text on predestination, but the eternal consequences of human choices! This is really a parable about different soils (i.e., human hearts).
▣ "road" The farmer sowed his entire field, even the footpaths that traversed them then he plowed it all. The seed that fell in these well-worn paths did not penetrate the packed soil and it was quickly trampled on by passers-by.
8:6 "rocky soil" The farmer could not tell where the rocky ledges or the large underground boulders were located, but the seeds did not have enough soil in which to root.
8:7 This refers to the well established, thorny weeds which were plowed under (therefore they could not be seen), but quickly reestablished and crowded out the newly germinated grain.
8:8 "a hundred times as great" Matthew has a scale of grain production graded from 30 to 60 to 100 (cf. Matt. 13:8).
▣ "He who has ears to hear, let him hear" This implies that an openness to the Spirit was required for understanding (cf. Mark 4:9; Matt. 13:9). In a sense, these parables were spiritual riddles. The heart (prepared by the Spirit, cf. John 6:44,65) of the hearer was crucial.
Notice also that of the four types of soil, three allowed the seed to germinate, but only one allowed fruit-bearing. Salvation involves evidence. Eternal life has observable characteristics! Be careful of an initial response as the only evidence of salvation. The yield varies, but not fruitfulness. True salvation is an initial response to the gospel followed by a daily response. This parable is a warning against an "easy believism" (as is John 15)!
NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: LUKE 8:9-10
9His disciples began questioning Him as to what this parable meant. 10And He said, "To you it has been granted to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God, but to the rest it is in parables, so that seeing they may not see, and hearing they may not understand.
8:9 "His disciples began questioning Him as to what this parable meant" Even the inner group of Apostles did not understand the spiritual significance of parables. This is comforting to me when I do not understand Jesus' words either.
8:10 "'To you it has been granted’" This is a perfect passive indicative. We are responsible stewards of the spiritual truths we possess. "To whom much is given, much is required" (cf. Luke 12:48).
This private teaching, which seems to be a regular occurrence, may explain the differences between the Synoptic Gospels (i.e., public teaching) and John's Gospel (private teaching). Jesus speaks very differently in John. It is possible that the parabolic teachings, so common in the Synoptics, were done before the crowds and that the totally different style (i.e., "I Am" statements) of the Gospel of John were done in private with the disciples.
It is just possible that this whole issue of special instruction for the Twelve may have functioned in the early church as a way of accentuating Apostolic authority. They, and they alone, knew the "true" interpretation of Jesus' words. All revelation comes through these chosen and inspired disciples (NT authors).
▣ "the mysteries of the kingdom of God" This is the Greek term mustērion. It is used in the NT in several different senses. Here in Luke it is plural. In Mark 4:11 and here it is revealed truth which the leaders and the crowd could not comprehend (cf. Isa. 6:9-10).
▣ "but to the rest it is in parables" Parables had the linguistic ability
1. to reveal truths
2. to hide truths
▣ "so that seeing they may not see, and hearing they may not understand" This is a quote from Isa. 6:9. This prophetic passage (Isa. 6:9-10) is used often to explain unbelief (cf. Matt. 13:14-15; Mark 4:12; John 12:40; Acts 28:26,27; Rom. 11:8).
This emphasizes that only a heart and mind touched by the Spirit of God can understand the gospel. This is the mystery of Divine Sovereignty and required human response. Somehow both are true! Humans can only respond to God's initiation. The question remains, "Does He touch all or only some?" The evidence of a Divine touch is a human response (repentance, faith, obedience, perseverance).
NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: LUKE 8:11-15
11"Now the parable is this: the seed is the word of God. 12Those beside the road are those who have heard; then the devil comes and takes away the word from their heart, so that they will not believe and be saved. 13Those on the rocky soil are those who, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no firm root; they believe for a while, and in time of temptation fall away. 14The seed which fell among the thorns, these are the ones who have heard, and as they go on their way they are choked with worries and riches and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to maturity. 15But the seed in the good soil, these are the ones who have heard the word in an honest and good heart, and hold it fast, and bear fruit with perseverance."
8:11 "the word of God" See note at Luke 5:1.
8:12 "the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts" The NT teaches the reality of a personal force of evil out to thwart God's gospel (cf. 2 Cor. 4:4). See SPECIAL TOPIC: SATAN at Luke 4:2.
The NET Bible (footnote #23, p. 1822) makes the interesting observation that each of the Synoptic Gospels uses a different name for God's opponent.
1. Luke – "the devil"
2. Matthew – "the evil one"
3. Mark – "Satan"
This shows the freedom of the Gospel writers to record true events and teachings in their own words.
▣ "will not believe and be saved" It is so hard to precisely define the procedure and process of salvation (ex. the variety of conversions in Acts). This is because the NT approaches the subject from several different angles:
1. repentance and faith
2. faith and works
3. faith and baptism
4. faith and tongues
However, the consistent requirement is faith. I have come to understand this faith as having three crucial aspects.
1. receiving/welcoming a person (Jesus)
2. believing truths about that person (the NT)
3. living a life emulating that person (Christlikeness).
Some of these are initial; others develop over time. New Testament faith is a dynamic relationship which is difficult to explain. It is more than just faith, but it starts there and finishes there for us. In reality it starts and finishes with God.
▣ "from their heart" This is the OT use of the term "heart" to refer to the person (cf. Luke 8:15). Often today we speak of inviting Jesus into our heart, which is the same metaphorical usage of heart as the will, mind, and emotions of a person. See Special Topic at Luke 1:51.
8:13 "those who, when they hear, receive the word with joy" This shows that the joyful acceptance of the gospel is not automatically eternal salvation! The word "receive" (cf. John 1:12) is synonymous with "believer" (cf. John 3:16). Receive/believe is used in John 8:31 for Jews who later tried to kill Jesus (cf. Luke 8:59).
8:14 "are choked with worries and riches and pleasure of this life" Here is another group who, after what seems to be a vital initial response to the Good News, succumbed to the pressures of earthly fallen life (cf. Demas in 2 Tim. 4:10; God and mammon in Luke 16:13). The theological questions has always been, "Are these people lost, immature or saved and lost"?
See SPECIAL TOPIC: APOSTASY (APHISTĒMI) at Luke 6:46.
▣ "bring no fruit to maturity" This issue is fruit-bearing, not germination only (cf. Matthew 7).
8:15 "hold it fast and bear fruit with perseverance" Both of these are present active indicatives. Here is the key—the harvest is the result of a whole life, not one emotional incident of dedication to God (cf. Gal. 6:9). There is a good article on "Apostasy" in Dictionary of Biblical Imagery, pp. 38-40.
NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: LUKE 8:16-18
16"Now no one after lighting a lamp covers it over with a container, or puts it under a bed; but he puts it on a lampstand, so that those who come in may see the light. 17For nothing is hidden that will not become evident, nor anything secret that will not be known and come to light. 18So take care how you listen; for whoever has, to him more shall be given; and whoever does not have, even what he thinks he has shall be taken away from him."
8:16 "Now no one after lighting a lamp covers it over with a container" This is related to the preceding parable. It emphasizes the true believer's need to live and share the truth of the gospel. We are saved to serve, to tell.
▣ "lampstand" This could refer to several different ways by which lights were positioned in the home so as to give off the most illumination:
1. an out-cropping in the wall
2. a hanger on the wall
3. some type of pedestal
8:17-18 These two verses must relate to the previous context of "apparent" believers. The intentions of the heart will one day be revealed. God looks first at the heart, not the religious actions. One's true motive will become evident (1) in this life or (2) on judgment day.
NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: LUKE 8:19-21
19And His mother and brothers came to Him, and they were unable to get to Him because of the crowd. 20And it was reported to Him, "Your mother and Your brothers are standing outside, wishing to see You." 21But He answered and said to them, "My mother and My brothers are these who hear the word of God and do it."
8:21 "My mother and My brothers" This shocking statement shows Jesus' self-understanding and the radical nature of biblical faith that can only be described in terms of a new birth, a new family. Family life was such an important aspect of Jewish life (cf. J. Duncan, M. Derrett, Jesus' Audience, pp. 38-45) that to use this of fellow believers is significant. Believers relate to deity as family members; God is Father, Jesus is the unique Son and Savior, but believers, even the least, are children of God too!
▣ "who hear the word of God and do it" This reflects the Hebrew word Shema (cf. Deut. 5:1; 6:4), which means hear so as to do (cf. Luke 11:28). This is the emphasis of the book of James. Eternal life has observable characteristics!
NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: LUKE 8:22-25
22 Now on one of those days Jesus and His disciples got into a boat, and He said to them, "Let us go over to the other side of the lake." So they launched out. 23But as they were sailing along He fell asleep; and a fierce gale of wind descended on the lake, and they began to be swamped and to be in danger. 24They came to Jesus and woke Him up, saying, "Master, Master, we are perishing!" And He got up and rebuked the wind and the surging waves, and they stopped, and it became calm. 25And He said to them, "Where is your faith?" They were fearful and amazed, saying to one another, "Who then is this, that He commands even the winds and the water, and they obey Him?"
8:23 "a fierce gale of wind descended on the lake" The Sea of Galilee is several hundred feet below sea level, surrounded by high, rolling hills. The wind that funnels down from these hills is able to swirl the lake into a tempest in a relatively short time.
One wonders how this miracle is related to God's
1. control of the waters (cf. Ps. 65:7; 89:9; 107:23-32)
2. victory over chaos (cf. Job 9:13; Ps. 89:10-11; Isa. 27:1; 51:10)
Water is the only aspect of creation not said to be spoken into existence in Genesis 1. There may have been many OT allusions behind this event. These Jewish fishermen would have known these verses much like the tumultuous waters.
8:24 "Master, Master" See note at Luke 5:5.
▣ "we are perishing" This is a present middle indicative. Remember these were seasoned fishermen. It must have been some storm!
8:25 "Where is your faith" The parallels in Matthew (cf. Matt. 8:26) and Mark (cf. Mark 4:40) add "why are you afraid?" Many of Jesus' miracles were for the purpose of training the disciples.
▣ "Who then is this" This verse clearly displays the Apostles' theological immaturity. Jesus faced several types of unbelief: (1) His family's; (2) the crowds’; and (3) the disciples’. Numbers 1 and 3 are spiritually growing. Their unbelief is based on ignorance, but number 2 is willful.
Everyone who hears the gospel must answer this question about Jesus! It is the crucial issue.
NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: LUKE 8:26-31
26Then they sailed to the country of the Gerasenes, which is opposite Galilee. 27And when He came out onto the land, He was met by a man from the city who was possessed with demons; and who had not put on any clothing for a long time, and was not living in a house, but in the tombs. 28Seeing Jesus, he cried out and fell before Him, and said in a loud voice, "What business do we have with each other, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg You, do not torment me." 29For He had commanded the unclean spirit to come out of the man. For it had seized him many times; and he was bound with chains and shackles and kept under guard, and yet he would break his bonds and be driven by the demon into the desert. 30And Jesus asked him, "What is your name?" And he said, "Legion"; for many demons had entered him. 31They were imploring Him not to command them to go away into the abyss.
8:26 "country of the Gerasenes" This area goes by several names in the Gospels:
1. Gadarenes (Matt. 8:28; MSS A, W)
2. Gerasenes (Mark 5:1, MSS P775, B, D)
3. Gergesenes (Luke 8:26,37; MSS א, L)
It is sometimes called Gadara. There is a town by this same name several miles away from the sea, but we have learned from archeological evidence that this town owned land near the sea.
8:27 "a man" Matthew 8:28 has two men, but this is characteristic of the Gospel of Matthew, which often has "two," while the other Synoptics have one. Another example would be the blind man/men of Jericho (cf. Matt. 20:29; Mark 10:46; Luke 18:35). Some have supposed that two were mentioned because this number was required to be witnesses in court (cf. Num. 35:30; Deut. 17:6; Matt. 18:16). There is a good article in Hard Sayings of the Bible, pp. 371-377.
▣ "who was possessed with demons" See Special Topic: The Demonic at Luke 4:33 and the note at Luke 4:35.
▣ "in the tombs" He had been ostracized by the community and this was the only place where he could find shelter. During this period of time small manmade or natural caves were used as burial places. Whether this location was connected with his demon possession is uncertain. There are many specific questions about demons and angels which cannot be answered because there is not enough biblical information. Our world is permeated by a personal force of evil with his servants, the demonic, who are out to thwart the will of God and to destroy mankind, God's ultimate creation and the focus of His love and attention.
NASB"What business do we have with each other"
NKJV"What have I to do with You"
NRSV"What have you to do with me"
TEV, NJB"What do you want with me"
This is literally "what to me and to you." In A Translator's Handbook on the Gospel of Mark, Bratcher and Nida note that "In classical Greek the phrase would mean 'what have we in common?' Here, however, it corresponds to the Hebrew 'Why do you meddle with me’" (p. 49). This idiom is illustrated in Jdgs. 11:12; 2 Sam. 16:10; 19:22; 1 Kgs. 17:18; 2 Chr. 35:21.
▣ "Jesus, Son of the Most High God" These demons knew who Jesus was (cf. James 2:19; Mark 1:23), but Jesus refused their testimonies because He knew that the religious leaders who could not deny His power would later accuse Him of using Satan's power (cf. Luke 11:14-26). See notes at Luke 1:32 and 1:76.
▣ "do not torment me" It is interesting that in this conversation sometimes the plural is used of the demons and sometimes the singular (head demon).
This is grammatically an aorist active subjunctive of prohibition functioning as an Aorist active imperative, which implies "never start an action" (cf. Barbara and Timothy Friberg's Analytical Greek New Testament, p. 120). The demonic knew that judgment was coming and that Jesus had power and authority over them (cf. Mark 1:23-24; Matt. 25:41; Rev. 12:9; 20:10). The parallels in Matt. 8:29 and Mark 5:7 also imply eschatological judgment. These demons apparently did not know about the two comings of the Messiah. This context shows that even "spirits" can suffer!
8:29 This describes the man's previous life (cf. Mark 5:3-5; Matt. 8:28).
▣ "into the desert" These non-inhabited regions were often associated in the OT with the demonic (cf. Luke 4:1-2).
8:30 "Legion" In the Roman Army 6,000 troops made up a Legion (though in reality they often had less than this ideal number). This may have been a metaphor of the degree of their control over the man. However, because of Luke 8:32, which describes the demons causing the death of many hogs, it may be literal.
8:31 "the abyss" This seems to refer to Hades in Rom. 10:7. It is also mentioned in Rev. 9:1; 11:7; 17:8; 20:1,3. Let me quote my note from Rev. 9:1 (see www.freebiblecommentary.org):
"▣ "the key of the bottomless pit was given to him" A "key" is mentioned in Rev. 1:18 and Rev. 20:1. It symbolizes authority. God exercises authority over the demonic hordes of judgment. The abyss is a Greek term that meant "depth" negated by an alpha privative. It is used in the Septuagint (Greek translation of the OT) in Gen. 1:2 and 7:11.
It seems to be synonymous with the term "tartarus" (cf. 2 Pet. 2:4 and I Enoch 21:7), a place where evil angels are held in prison (cf. Luke 8:31; Jude 6; Rev. 11:7; 17:8; 20:1-3; and I Enoch 10:4; 86:1; 88:1; Jubilees 5:6-11). Paul used this term in Rom. 10:7 for the place of the dead (cf. Isa. 24:21-22). Later the rabbis said it was the name of the unrighteous part of Sheol/Hades."
NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: LUKE 8:32-33
32 Now there was a herd of many swine feeding there on the mountain; and the demons implored Him to permit them to enter the swine. And He gave them permission. 33And the demons came out of the man and entered the swine; and the herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake and was drowned.
8:32 "swine" Obviously this was a Gentile area (cf. Lev. 11:7; Deut. 14:8).
8:33 Notice that the demons made a request to Jesus. The text does not tell us why Jesus allowed these demons to go into the hogs or why they wanted to. Possibly the demons leaving the man and entering the hogs was a visible way of encouraging the man to believe he was delivered. Perhaps it was a visual aid, similar to Jesus putting spit (cf. Mark 8:23) and/or mud into blind eyes (cf. John 9:6) or putting His fingers in a deaf person's ears (cf. Mark 7:33). The demons may have requested it because
1. they preferred hogs to the abyss
2. this action would cause the townspeople to ask Jesus to leave
Demons do not do things to help Jesus!
NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: LUKE 8:34-39
34When the herdsmen saw what had happened, they ran away and reported it in the city and out in the country. 35The people went out to see what had happened; and they came to Jesus, and found the man from whom the demons had gone out, sitting down at the feet of Jesus, clothed and in his right mind; and they became frightened. 36Those who had seen it reported to them how the man who was demon-possessed had been made well. 37And all the people of the country of the Gerasenes and the surrounding district asked Him to leave them, for they were gripped with great fear; and He got into a boat and returned. 38But the man from whom the demons had gone out was begging Him that he might accompany Him; but He sent him away, saying, 39"Return to your house and describe what great things God has done for you." So he went away, proclaiming throughout the whole city what great things Jesus had done for him.
8:34-37 What a sad account of fear and greed (cf. Mark 5:15). There was no joy over the man's restitution, just fear (cf. Luke 8:37). They were so concerned over the loss of a herd of pigs and other possible consequences that they asked Jesus to leave, and He did! This is a good example that shows that miracles, in and of themselves, do not always result in faith!
8:38-39 "the man from whom the demons had gone out was begging Him that he might accompany Him" Jesus wanted this Gentile man to witness to his family and friends about the love and power of God. This was the first "home missionary" (assuming he was a Gentile). This man's presence and testimony may have negatively affected Jesus' mission to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.
NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: LUKE 8:40-42
40And as Jesus returned, the people welcomed Him, for they had all been waiting for Him. 41And there came a man named Jairus, and he was an official of the synagogue; and he fell at Jesus' feet, and began to implore Him to come to his house; 42for he had an only daughter, about twelve years old, and she was dying. But as He went, the crowds were pressing against Him.
8:41 "Jairus’" This is a Hebrew name which means "he who gives light" (BDB 22, cf. Jdgs. 10:3) or "YHWH has enlightened."
▣ "he was an officer of the synagogue" He was in charge of both the order of service on the Sabbath and the physical maintenance of the synagogue. This was a man of religious stature in the community.
8:42 "for he had an only daughter, about twelve years old, and she was dying" The girl was this man's only child. She was at the age of becoming a marriageable woman, responsible for keeping the Law (bat mitzvah). Jesus was his only hope!
NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: LUKE 8:43-48
43And a woman who had a hemorrhage for twelve years, and could not be healed by anyone, 44came up behind Him and touched the fringe of His cloak, and immediately her hemorrhage stopped. 45And Jesus said, "Who is the one who touched Me?" And while they were all denying it, Peter said, "Master, the people are crowding and pressing in on You." 46But Jesus said, "Someone did touch Me, for I was aware that power had gone out of Me." 47When the woman saw that she had not escaped notice, she came trembling and fell down before Him, and declared in the presence of all the people the reason why she had touched Him, and how she had been immediately healed. 48And He said to her, "Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace."
8:43 "a woman who had a hemorrhage for twelve years and could not be healed by anyone" It is interesting to me that Luke leaves out the references to (1) the doctors' inability to heal the woman and (2) her spending her entire savings trying to be healed (There is a Greek manuscript variant connected with the inclusion of this phrase concerning doctors in Luke. It is missing in MSS P75 and B. It may have been assimilated from Mark 5:26). This ailment would have made her ceremonially unclean (cf. Lev. 15:25-27). She could not have attended synagogue or religious festivals. The rabbinical cures for this kind of illness are very strange:
1. carry the ashes of an ostrich egg in a linen rag in the summer and a cotton rag in the winter
2. carry the barley corn from the dung of a while female donkey (cf. Shabb. 110 A & B)
8:44 "and touched the fringe of His cloak" This refers to His tallith. This was the prayer shawl worn by rabbinical teachers in fulfillment of Num. 15:38-40 and Deut. 22:12. It has four tassels (cf. Matt. 9:20) to symbolize the law of Israel and she touched one of these.
There is a Greek manuscript variant connected to the word "the fringe." It is included in MSS P75, A, B, C, L W, but missing in some Old Latin manuscripts. Possibly scribes were influenced by its absence at Mark 5:27. The UBS4 gives its inclusion a B rating (almost certain).
8:45 "Jesus said, 'Who is the one who touched Me?’" Either Jesus did not know who touched Him or He wanted the woman to make a public profession of her faith and healing.
NKJV"Peter and those with him"
The shorter reading is found in the ancient Greek manuscripts P75 and B, but the vast majority of ancient texts support the longer reading (cf. MSS א, A, C*, D, L, P, and W; Mark 5:31 does not mention Peter specifically, but does say, "His disciple said to Him"). The UBS4 translation committee chooses the shorter reading and give it a "B" rating (almost certain).
8:46 "for I was aware that power had gone out of Me" Exactly what this involves is uncertain. Apparently, Jesus' physical healing of others took something out of Him (cf. Luke 5:17; 6:19; Mark 5:30).
8:47 Her illness made her ceremonially unclean. She should never have touched a religious teacher. She now testified that her touch had immediately resulted in her healing (cf. Luke 8:44).
8:48 "your faith has made you well" Not her touch, but acting on her faith in Him was the key. Faith itself is not the issue, but the object of faith (i.e., Jesus). There was nothing magical here, nor was it the power of positive thinking, but the power of Jesus. This is another use of the Greek sōzō in both its OT and NT senses. It is a perfect active indicative, which implied she was healed and remained healed of the physical problem and her spiritual problem.
▣ "go in peace" This is a present middle (deponent) imperative. She was not only physically healed, but spiritually healed.
NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: LUKE 8:49-56
49While He was still speaking, someone came from the house of the synagogue official, saying, "Your daughter has died; do not trouble the Teacher anymore." 50But when Jesus heard this, He answered him, "Do not be afraid any longer; only believe, and she will be made well." 51When He came to the house, He did not allow anyone to enter with Him, except Peter and John and James, and the girl's father and mother. 52Now they were all weeping and lamenting for her; but He said, "Stop weeping, for she has not died, but is asleep." 53And they began laughing at Him, knowing that she had died. 54He, however, took her by the hand and called, saying, "Child, arise!" 55And her spirit returned, and she got up immediately; and He gave orders for something to be given her to eat. 56Her parents were amazed; but He instructed them to tell no one what had happened.
8:49 "Your daughter has died" This is a perfect active indicative. She died and had entered into death. Whether this girl was dead or in a coma is difficult to know (cf. Acts 20:7-12). The family thought she was dead and had hired professional mourners, which was a common practice in that day.
▣ "do not trouble" This is a present active imperative. This word was also used by the centurion seeking Jesus for healing (cf. Luke 7:6).
▣ "the Teacher" Luke never calls Jesus "rabbi" because he is writing to Gentiles. However, this designation is also used often in Matthew's Gospel. It was a way to characterize Jesus' ministry. He acted, then He explained the significance of His person, work, and mission. Preaching and teaching are used interchangeably in the Gospels.
8:50 "Do not be afraid" This is a present middle (deponent) imperative with the negative participle, which usually denotes the cessation of an act in process.
This man had stood there patiently as Jesus visited with the woman, but now it was too late. This delay may have been purposeful to test this man's faith in Jesus (cf. Mary and Martha's test of faith in John 11).
▣ "only believe" This is an aorist active imperative. Faith is the opposite of fear (doubt). Believe what? Believe that Jesus was capable of healing his daughter and fulfilling His word.
This is still the issue today. Will Jesus fulfill His word? Can we trust Him to do what He promised?
8:51 "He did not allow anyone to enter with Him, except Peter and John and James" This is the inner circle of disciples who were present at all the intimate, special times with the Lord.
8:52 "they" This must refer to the crowd of mourners gathered at this home (cf. Luke 8:53).
▣ "Stop weeping" This is another Present active imperative with the negative particle, which usually means to stop an act in progress.
▣ "asleep" Sleep is an OT circumlocution for physical death (cf. John 11:11). It is difficult to know whether this is a healing (cf. Luke 8:52) or a resuscitation (cf. Luke 8:49,53,55). This series of miracles has shown Jesus' power over nature, the demonic, illness, and death.
8:54 "arise" This is a present active imperative. This is a common verb with a large semantic range; it is often used of resuscitation (cf. Luke 7:14,22; 8:54; 9:2; 20:37), but also of the resurrection (cf. Luke 9:22; 24:6,34). Jesus has power over death (cf. John 10:17-18).
8:56 "He instructed them to tell no one what had happened" In the Synoptics, Jesus' deity is veiled until after the great truths of Calvary and the resurrection are revealed.
1. demons not allowed to reveal His person
a. Mark 1:34; 3:12
b. Luke 4:34-35,41
2. those He healed not allowed to tell others about it
a. Matt. 8:4; 9:30; 12:16
b. Mark 1:43-44; 5:43; 7:36
c. Luke 5:14; 8:56
3. the disciples not allowed to reveal His Messiahship
a. Matt. 16:20; 17:9
b. Mark 8:30; 9:9
c. Luke 9:21 The crowds wanted favors, not truth; healing, not conversion
Jesus did not want to be known as a healer. The crowds wanted favors, not truth; healing, not conversion.
This is a study guide commentary, which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.
These discussion questions are provided to help you think through the major issues of this section of the book. They are meant to be thought-provoking, not definitive.
1. What is the major truth in the parable of the soils?
2. Is it possible for someone to receive Jesus Christ and then later to be lost?
3. Why does Jesus mention the Kingdom of God so often?
4. Why did Mary and Jesus' brothers come to see Him?
5. Is demon possession a live option today? Is it a possibility for believers?
6. Why did Jesus tell the parents not to say anything about the raising of their daughter?
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