PARAGRAPH DIVISIONS OF MODERN TRANSLATIONS
|The Healing of a Centurion's Servant||Jesus heals a Centurion's Servant||The Centurion's Slave||Jesus Heals a Roman Officer's Servant||Cure of the Centurion's Servant|
|The Raising of the Widow's Son at Nain||Jesus Raises the Son of the Widow of Nain||The Widow's Son at Nain||Jesus Raises a Widow's Son||The Son of the widow of Nain Restored to Life|
|The Messengers from John the Baptist||John the Baptist Sends Messengers to Jesus||Jesus and John||The Messengers from John the Baptist||The Baptist's Question-Jesus Commends Him|
|7:29-30||Jesus Condemns His Contemporaries|
|A Sinful Woman Forgiven||A Sinful Woman Forgiven||The Woman Who Was a Sinner||Jesus at the Home of Simon the Pharisee||The Woman Who Was a Sinner|
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
WORD AND PHRASE STUDY
NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: LUKE 7:1-10
1When He had completed all His discourse in the hearing of the people, He went to Capernaum. 2And a centurion's slave, who was highly regarded by him, was sick and about to die. 3When he heard about Jesus, he sent some Jewish elders asking Him to come and save the life of his slave. 4When they came to Jesus, they earnestly implored Him, saying, "He is worthy for You to grant this to him; 5for he loves our nation and it was he who built us our synagogue." 6Now Jesus started on His way with them; and when He was not far from the house, the centurion sent friends, saying to Him, "Lord, do not trouble Yourself further, for I am not worthy for You to come under my roof; 7for this reason I did not even consider myself worthy to come to You, but just say the word, and my servant will be healed. 8For I also am a man placed under authority, with soldiers under me; and I say to this one, 'Go!' and he goes, and to another, 'Come!' and he comes, and to my slave, 'Do this!' and he does it." 9Now when Jesus heard this, He marveled at him, and turned and said to the crowd that was following Him, "I say to you, not even in Israel have I found such great faith." 10When those who had been sent returned to the house, they found the slave in good health.
7:1 "When He had completed all His discourse in the hearing of the people" This refers to the sermon recorded in Luke 6:20-49.
▣ "Capernaum" This was Jesus' local headquarters in Galilee. See note at Luke 4:23.
7:2 "a centurion" A centurion was a Roman (or Gentile conscript) and part of an army of occupation. He seems to have been a God-fearer, much like Cornelius in Acts 10. Every mention of Centurions in the NT is positive. These non-commissioned soldiers were the heart of the Roman army.
▣ "slave" The Matthew parallel (Matt. 8:5-13) has the term "boy."
▣ "who was highly regarded by him" This term was common and in the Septuagint, where it is used
1. of God's name, cf. Deut. 28:58
2. of the Messiah, cf. Isa. 28:16 and NT in 1 Pet. 2:4,6
3. of honorable men, cf. Num. 22:15; and NT in Phil. 2:29
The best parallel to this NT usage is 1 Sam. 26:21 and Isa. 13:12, where a person's life is precious.
7:3 "he sent some Jewish elders asking Him to come" The parallel account is in Matt. 8:5-13, but not in Mark. From Luke 7:5 we see why the Jewish elders (local synagogue leaders) were willing to be intermediaries.
▣ "save" The Greek term sozō is used often in the NT for spiritual salvation (ex. James 1:21; 2:14; 4:12), but here it is used in its OT sense of physical deliverance (ex. James 5:20; Matt. 9:22; Mark 6:56). The term literally means "to make whole" (physically and/or spiritually).
7:6 "Lord" This is the vocative form of the Greek term kurios, which can be
1. a title of respect like "sir"
2. a title for a superior like "master"
3. a theological affirmation of Jesus as God's Messiah (cf. Luke 7:13)
In this context (like John 4) it is option #1. Also note the ambiguity of its use in Luke 7:19.
▣ "do not trouble Yourself" This is a Present middle imperative (Zerwick and Grosvenor, A Grammatical Analysis of the Greek New Testament, p. 199 and A. T. Robertson, Word Pictures, p.99), while Barbara, Tim Friberg, Analytical Greek New Testament, p. 199 and Harold K. Moulton, The Analytical Greek Lexicon Revised, p. 370, call it a present passive imperative.
▣ "I am not worthy for You to come under my roof" Obviously this Roman army officer knew the Jewish attitude toward Gentile homes. There is an obvious contrast between Luke 7:5 (the message of the elders) and this man's own sense of his unworthiness (cf. Luke 7:7).
7:7 "but just say the word" Jesus' physical presence was not demanded. This man was used to delegating authority (cf. Luke 7:8). This gesture shows this Gentile's great faith in the power of Jesus. It also gives a precedent for trusting Jesus' words, not His presence, for one's salvation (physical here, but for the Gentile readers, spiritual also). Luke chooses the accounts he will record to reach Gentiles!
▣ There is an ancient Greek manuscript variant connected with this verse. Luke has the aorist passive imperative, iathētō (cf. P75, B, L, and some Coptic translations, the UBS4 gives this one a B rating), but other ancient texts have iathēsetai (future passive indicative), which occurs in Matt. 8:8 (cf. MSS א, A, C, D, W, and the Vulgate and Armenian translations). Which one does not change the meaning of the text, but this does show how easily these scribal corrections or alterations occurred (between a.d. 200-400).
7:9 "He marveled" See note at Luke 1:63.
▣ "not even in Israel have I found such great faith" This is an extremely significant theological assertion. Remember that Luke is writing to Gentiles. In this context Jesus commends a Gentile military officer for his faith, heals a widow's child (like Elijah, cf. Luke 4:25-26), and is willing to help a sinful woman and even commend her faith (cf. Luke 7:50). It is obvious that faith, not national origin or privileged standing, is the key to the new age inaugurated by Jesus.
NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: LUKE 7:11-17
11Soon afterwards He went to a city called Nain; and His disciples were going along with Him, accompanied by a large crowd. 12Now as He approached the gate of the city, a dead man was being carried out, the only son of his mother, and she was a widow; and a sizeable crowd from the city was with her. 13When the Lord saw her, He felt compassion for her, and said to her, "Do not weep." 14And He came up and touched the coffin; and the bearers came to a halt. And He said, "Young man, I say to you, arise!" 15The dead man sat up and began to speak. And Jesus gave him back to his mother. 16Fear gripped them all, and they began glorifying God, saying, "A great prophet has arisen among us!" and, "God has visited His people!" 17This report concerning Him went out all over Judea and in all the surrounding district.
7:11 "He went to a city called Nain" This account is recorded only in Luke. It seems not to be a special event, but a typical event in the travels and ministry of Jesus. Nain is about six miles southeast of Nazareth, close to Mt. Tabor. It is parallel to what Elijah did in Luke 4:25-26 (cf. 1 Kgs. 17:17-24).
▣ "His disciples were going along with Him, accompanied by a large crowd" There was always a large crowd of the sick, the curious, and religious leaders following Jesus. Much of Luke's presentation of Jesus' life and teachings is structured as travel narratives. These travel narratives include many of the teachings found in Matthew's "Sermon on the Mount." In Luke, Jesus is heading toward the climatic confrontation in Jerusalem. As always in the Gospels, Jesus' healings had several purposes:
1. to help a needy person (a lady in Luke 7:13)
2. to witness to:
a. the disciples (for maturity)
b. the crowd (for saving faith)
c. the townspeople (cf. Luke 7:12)
d. the religious leaders who were always there
3. to demonstrate His Messiahship
7:12 "the only son of his mother" How did Jesus know this fact? Possibly
1. someone in the crowd told Him
2. this is another example of His supernatural knowledge
3. this is an editorial comment by the evangelist
The fact that this was the only son meant this woman had no means of support!
▣ "a sizeable crowd from the city was with her" Jewish funerals involved the entire community and were remarkably noisy and emotional.
7:13 "Lord" This is the first use of this title for Jesus in Luke. See SPECIAL TOPIC: NAMES FOR DEITY at Luke 1:68.
▣ "He felt compassion for her" This is a developed connotation from "bowels." The ancients thought the lower viscera or the major organs (heart, liver, lungs) were the seat of the emotions (cf. Septuagint of Pro. 12:10; 26:22; Jer. 28:13,51; II Macc. 9:5-6; IV Macc. 10:8; Baruch 2:17). Paul uses this metaphor often (cf. 2 Cor. 6:12; 7:15; Phil. 1:8; 2:1; Col. 3:12; Philemon 1:7,12,20). Luke, probably following Paul, also uses it (cf. Luke 1:78; 7:13; 10:33; 15:20; Acts 1:18). It is meaningful to me to know of the human emotions and empathy that Jesus shares with us (cf. Mark 1:41; 6:34; 8:2).
▣ "and said to her" She would have been leading the funeral procession (Alfred Edersheim, Jewish Social Life)..
▣ "do not weep" This is a present active imperative with the negative particle, which usually implies stop an act in process.
7:14 "coffin" This refers to an open bier (cf. NRSV). Jesus did not fear ceremonial defilement by touching ceremonially unclean things or people.
▣ "Young man, I say to you, arise" This man's age is uncertain, for in Jewish society one was considered to be a young man up to the age of forty. The verb is an aorist passive imperative. Jesus has power over death and hades (cf. Rev. 1:18). What a powerful sign of His Messiahship (cf. Luke 7:22).
7:15 "The dead man sat up and began to speak" The verb "sat up" is rare and used only by medical doctors in Greek literature. The NT never records the words of those who have been raised from the dead. What powerful evidence to confirm Jesus' words and ministry!
7:16 "they began glorifying God, saying, 'A great prophet has arisen among us’" Jesus did work similar to Elijah and Elisha in the very same geographical area. These people were attributing to Jesus the highest title that they knew.
▣ "God has visited His people" The Jews had experienced YHWH"s visitation many times. God is active in the life of His people. There is a real tension in the Bible between the transcendence of God and the immanence of God. He is the Holy One of Israel, yet Father!
7:17 All the Synoptic Gospels have these summary statements (cf. Mark 1:28,45; Matt. 4:24; 9:31; 14:1), but Luke has the most (cf. Luke 4:14,37; 5:15; 7:17). Jesus did not perform miracles (healing, exorcisms, raising the dead) in secret, but in public, and word of it spread rapidly to a needy, expectant Palestine.
NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: LUKE 7:18-23
18The disciples of John reported to him about all these things. 19Summoning two of his disciples, John sent them to the Lord, saying, "Are You the Expected One, or do we look for someone else?" 20When the men came to Him, they said, "John the Baptist has sent us to You, to ask, 'Are You the Expected One, or do we look for someone else?'" 21At that very time He cured many people of diseases and afflictions and evil spirits; and He gave sight to many who were blind. 22And He answered and said to them, "Go and report to John what you have seen and heard: the blind receive sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, the poor have the gospel preached to them. 23Blessed is he who does not take offense at Me."
7:18 "The disciples of John reported to him about all these things" The parallel is in Matt. 11:2-19.
7:19 "Are You the Expected One, or do we look for someone else" There have been several theories trying to explain John's confusion about Jesus.
1. He said this only to convince his own disciples (John Calvin, cf. John 1:29-42).
2. John, the outdoors man, trapped in a cell, was getting nervous.
3. John was impatient for Jesus to act.
4. Jesus was not acting in the expected pattern of eschatological judgment (cf. Matt. 3:12; Luke 3:13).
7:21 The opening clause is a summary of Jesus' ministry to the crowds. His actions clearly revealed who He was, if they could only recognize its prophetic fulfillment.
▣ "gave sight to many who were blind" This is the most common recorded healing with definite Messianic implications (cf. Isa. 35:5-6; 61:1). It is surely a sign of the spiritual blindness which had infected Judaism (cf. John 9).
7:22 "Go and report to John" "Go" is an aorist passive (deponent) participle used in an imperative sense; "Report" is an aorist active imperative.
This is a good example that grammar must be related to context. These are not commands, but a way of directing John's representatives. They came to do this very thing—"report to John." As words have meaning only in context, so too, grammatical constructions.
▣ The rest of Luke 7:22 is a combination of several OT quotes which link up with Jesus' activities recorded in Luke 7:21. The first two partial quotes are from Isa. 61:1 (or possibly Isa. 29:18-19; 32:3-4; 35:5-6; 42:7,16). This is from the section of Isaiah that deals with the new age (chapters 56-66).
▣ "the lepers are cleansed" Leprosy and barrenness were diseases that Jews thought showed God's displeasure.
▣ "the dead are raised up" There are only three accounts of resuscitation in the NT, but apparently there were actually many more.
There are three terms which describe God's dealing with humans relating to physical life:
1. Translated. Enoch (cf. Genesis 5), like Elijah (cf. 2 Kings), was taken to heaven without physical death.
2. Resuscitation. Humans are restored to physical life, but will die again.
3. Resurrection. Jesus is the first to have a physical body of the new age. This is the promise of eternal life, a new body prepared for life with God (cf. 1 Corinthians 15).
▣ "the poor have the gospel preached to them" This was the unique element that pointed to the nature of Jesus' mission. God graciously included those whom Jewish society neglected. This is a hint of God's inclusion of the Gentiles.
7:23 "Blessed is he who does not take offense at Me" Jesus was warning John about his presuppositions concerning the Messiah. This is a good word to us also. Judaism missed its own Messiah because of their preconceived images of Him.
NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: LUKE 7:24-30
24When the messengers of John had left, He began to speak to the crowds about John, "What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken by the wind? 25But what did you go out to see? A man dressed in soft clothing? Those who are splendidly clothed and live in luxury are found in royal palaces! 26But what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I say to you, and one who is more than a prophet. 27This is the one about whom it is written, 'Behold, I send My messenger ahead of You, Who will prepare Your way before You.' 28I say to you, among those born of women there is no one greater than John; yet he who is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he." 29When all the people and the tax collectors heard this, they acknowledged God's justice, having been baptized with the baptism of John. 30But the Pharisees and the lawyers rejected God's purpose for themselves, not having been baptized by John.
7:24-27 This is a series of questions expecting a "no" answer. They emphasize the quality of John's character.
7:27 "it is written" These references (cf. Mal. 3:1; 4:5; Isa. 40:3-4) show that Jesus recognized who and what he was.
7:28 "I say to you, among those born of women there is no one greater than John" What a tremendous statement from the Messiah concerning the forerunner (cf. Matt. 11:11)! It must be recognized that Jesus' concluding remarks in Luke 7:28 show that John was the last of the OT prophets, not the first of the NT gospel preachers.
The NT affirms the unique power of John's preaching and message. He was a Spirit-led prophet. However, the NT also depreciates John so that the worship and preeminence goes to Jesus' person and ministry. There were some heretical groups in the early centuries that tried to elevate John.
▣ "yet he who is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he" As radical as the first part of Luke 7:28 is, this second phrase is even more shocking! It does clearly demonstrate the radical newness of the age of the Spirit, the Kingdom of God. The context shows the least:
1. Roman centurion and his servant (Luke 7:2-10)
2. widow of Nain and her child (Luke 7:11-17)
3. the people of Isa. 61:1 (Luke 7:21-22)
4. tax collectors (Luke 7:29)
7:29-30 These two verses can be seen as to how
1. Jesus comments about how John 6's message was received
2. Luke's comments about Jesus' message was received (NET Bible)
7:29 This verse and Luke 7:30 show the makeup of the crowd that continuously followed Jesus: social outcasts and religious leaders. I am sure that they stood in their respective groups! These two verses may be Luke's editorial comment.
The social outcasts were receptive to a message of repentance and faith (cf. Mark. 1:15), but the religious leaders were not. They thought they were an elite group who were exclusively accepted by God.
NASB"they acknowledged God's justice"
NRSV"acknowledged the justice of God"
TEV"who had obeyed God's righteous demands"
NJB"acknowledged God's saving justice"
This is literally "justified (aorist active indicative) God." The spiritually receptive ones recognized God's righteous ways being revealed in John's message. John's public baptism was an admission of spiritual need and trust in God's acceptance of repentant people.
It is surprising how limited is the Gospel's use of "justify" (cf. Matt. 11:19; 12:37; Luke 7:29,35; 10:29; 16:15; 18:14) when it is used so often in Paul' writings (i.e., 13 times in Romans and 8 times in Galatians). Paul speaks often of justification (i.e., how a sinner is right with God), but Jesus speaks of being part of the Kingdom of God.
Jesus was speaking to Jews who thought they were accepted by God because of Abraham and the Law of Moses, but Paul spoke mostly to Gentiles who had no covenant background. They both address the need of being in fellowship with God and how that fellowship will manifest itself in believers' lives (i.e., words, actions, motives).
▣ "baptized by John" John's and Jesus' messages were initially similar, but there is a vast difference between John's baptism and Christian baptism. John focused on an OT foundation, whereas Jesus focused on Himself on a NT foundation.
One wonders whether John's disciples who followed Jesus were re-baptized. Rituals are symbols, carriers of meaning, but they are not mechanisms of grace! Religious acts and liturgy without personal faith are barriers instead of bridges to God. The key in true faith is the heart, not just the outward forms of faith.
NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: LUKE 7:31-35
31"To what then shall I compare the men of this generation, and what are they like? 32They are like children who sit in the market place and call to one another, and they say, 'We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we sang a dirge, and you did not weep.' 33For John the Baptist has come eating no bread and drinking no wine, and you say, 'He has a demon!' 34The Son of Man has come eating and drinking, and you say, 'Behold, a gluttonous man and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!' 35Yet wisdom is vindicated by all her children."
7:31-34 This paragraph is paralleled in Matt. 11:16-19. John and Jesus came with different styles of ministry (John as an ascetic; Jesus as socially available), yet the Jewish leaders rejected them both. Verse 30 shows the close-mindedness and self-righteousness of the Jewish leaders.
7:31 "this generation" This term is used in a negative sense of current hearers who see and hear God's truth, but refuse to respond appropriately (cf. Luke 7:31; 9:41; 11:29,50; 17:25). This may be an allusion to Deut. 32:5; Ps. 78:8; Jer. 2:31; 7:29. There is far more guilt connected to those who hear the truth and refuse to embrace it than to those who never have seen or heard.
7:33 "John the Baptist has come eating no bread and drinking no wine" John the Baptist was a Nazarite (cf. Numbers 6). He also lived in the wilderness and did not freely socialize with those to whom he preached (like Elijah). See Special Topic below.
▣ "and you say, 'He has a demon’" This was the same charge that they used of Jesus (cf. Luke 11:14-26). They could not explain away God's mighty use of this man so they attributed his power to a supernatural force of evil.
▣ This accusation reveals
1. the animosity of the religious elite
2. the compassion of Jesus.
Luke was writing to Gentiles who were also poor. This shows Jesus' love and identification with the common person.
7:35 This was a cultural proverb much like Luke 6:44, "each tree is known by its own fruit." The actions and attitudes of those baptized by John (cf. Luke 7:29) were clearly distinct from the religious leaders (cf. Luke 7:30). The Jews often used the OT idiom "son of. . ." as an adjective to describe a person.
NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: LUKE 7:36-50
36 Now one of the Pharisees was requesting Him to dine with him, and He entered the Pharisee's house and reclined at the table. 37And there was a woman in the city who was a sinner; and when she learned that He was reclining at the table in the Pharisee's house, she brought an alabaster vial of perfume, 38and standing behind Him at His feet, weeping, she began to wet His feet with her tears, and kept wiping them with the hair of her head, and kissing His feet and anointing them with the perfume. 39 Now when the Pharisee who had invited Him saw this, he said to himself, "If this man were a prophet He would know who and what sort of person this woman is who is touching Him, that she is a sinner." 40And Jesus answered him, "Simon, I have something to say to you." And he replied, "Say it, Teacher." 41"A moneylender had two debtors: one owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. 42When they were unable to repay, he graciously forgave them both. So which of them will love him more?" 43Simon answered and said, "I suppose the one whom he forgave more." And He said to him, "You have judged correctly." 44Turning toward the woman, He said to Simon, "Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave Me no water for My feet, but she has wet My feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. 45You gave Me no kiss; but she, since the time I came in, has not ceased to kiss My feet. 46You did not anoint My head with oil, but she anointed My feet with perfume. 47For this reason I say to you, her sins, which are many, have been forgiven, for she loved much; but he who is forgiven little, loves little." 48Then He said to her, "Your sins have been forgiven." 49Those who were reclining at the table with Him began to say to themselves, "Who is this man who even forgives sins?" 50And He said to the woman, "Your faith has saved you; go in peace."
7:36-50 This account is similar to Mary of Bethany's actions recorded in Mark 13:3-9; Matt. 26:6-13; John 12:2-8. It is obvious that on further reflection, the account in Luke, though similar, is distinct from Mary of Bethany's anointing mentioned in the other Gospels.
Luke often uses these meals given by Pharisees to communicate the gospel (cf. Luke 7:36; 11:37; 14:1).
7:36 "one of the Pharisees" Jesus ministered to all groups. He wanted to reach all people. See Special Topic: Pharisees at Luke 5:17.
▣ "was requesting Him to dine with him" One wonders the motive of this request:
2. spiritual hunger
3. being seen with Jesus
4. trying to find out something he could use against Him (cf. Luke 7:44-45)
These dinners were social events for the entire community. Although only invited guests ate, anyone was welcome to come and listen to the table conversation.
▣ "reclining at the table" Luke is the only NT author to use this term kataklinō (cf. Luke 7:36; 9:14,15; 14:8; 24:30). Other NT writers use anakeimai.
The Jews of the first century did not use tables and chair as the Persians did (cf. Esther 1:6; 7:8) and some Egyptians. Typically they would recline on their left elbow on pillows spread around horseshoe-shaped tables, usually three on a side.
7:37 "a woman in the city who was a sinner" The implication is that she was a local prostitute, however, this phrase is unspecific. To the Jewish leaders, anyone who did not keep all the expected rules and rituals of the Talmud was considered a sinner (e.g., shepherds, tanners). This city was in the north, possibly Capernaum. The other Gospels record an anointing by a woman at a Simon's house, near Jerusalem. However, the other Gospels record a similar anointing of Jesus' feet by Mary Magdalene (cf. Matt. 26:6; Mark 14:3; John 12:2).
▣ "alabaster vial of perfume" Alabaster was a whitish yellow stone which was named for the town in Egypt (Alabastron) in which it was developed. The perfume was very expensive. Women often carried this as a dowry around their necks on a chain.
7:38 "and standing behind Him at His feet" At these social events others from the town who were not invited were welcome to come and sit along the walls, look in the windows and doors, and listen to the conversations. Remember that Jesus was reclining on his left elbow with His feet behind Him.
▣ "and kept wiping them with the hair of her head" For a Jewish woman, to have her hair undone in public was a sign of social impropriety.
▣ "kissing His feet and anointing them with the perfume" This was a highly unusual act that seems to symbolize this woman's joy over forgiveness and the deep sense of gratitude for Jesus' attitude concerning people like herself (cf. Luke 7:35).
7:39 "If this man were a prophet" This is a second class conditional sentence. The form of this sentence shows that he did not believe Jesus was a prophet. This is a unique Greek construction which would be understood as "if this man were a prophet, which he is not, he would know who and what sort of person this woman is who is touching him, but he does not." This Pharisee totally misunderstood Jesus and His motives, purposes, and actions.
The very early codex B, called Vaticanus because it was found in the Vatican library, has the definite article with "prophet." This is obviously a theological attempt to link Jesus with "the Prophet" of Moses' prophecy in Deut. 18:15. This was a Messianic prediction. But from the context of Luke this Pharisee is not calling Jesus the Messiah, but a non-prophet!
A book that documents these theological variants is Bart D. Ehrman, The Orthodox Corruption of Scripture: The Effect of Early Christological Controversies on the Text of the New Testament. Oxford, 1993.
7:40 "Simon" This was a common name. There are many examples in the NT of people named Simon:
1. Simon Peter, Matt. 4:18
2. Simon the Canaanite, Matt. 10:4; Acts 1:13
3. Simon, Jesus' half-brother, Matt. 13:55
4. Simon the Leper, Matt.26:6; Mark 14:3
5. Simon the Cyrene, Matt. 27:32
6. Simon the Pharisee, Luke 7:40
7. the father of Judas Iscariot, John 6:71
8. Simon Magnes, Acts 8:5
9. Simon the Tanner, Acts 9:43
The parallels in Matthew and Mark also place the dinner at the home of a man named Simon, but he is not called a Pharisee.
7:41 It is only in Luke that Jesus tells this parable to Simon. Matthew and Mark have a totally different reason for the woman's actions (i.e., prepare Jesus for His upcoming death by anointing Him for burial).
▣ "500 denarii" A denarius was a common coin of the period. It represented a day's wage for a soldier or day-laborer (cf. Matt. 20:2). See Special Topic: Coins in Use in Palestine in Jesus' Day at Luke 15:8.
7:42 "So which of them will love him more" This account obviously deals with two kinds of people:
1. the self-righteous who thought they needed little or no forgiveness
2. the humble and repentant who knew they needed God's forgiveness
This parable has much in common with the parable of the Pharisee and the sinner (cf. Luke 18:9-14).
7:44-47 There are several actions that Simon the Pharisee did not perform for Jesus that were expected of a host in Jewish culture:
1. he did not wash His feet when he entered, Luke 7:44
2. he did not give Him a kiss of greeting, Luke 7:45
3. he did not anoint Him with oil, Luke 7:46
7:47 "I say to you, her sins, which are many, have been forgiven" Jesus did not overlook this woman's sins, but He forgave them. This pericope (gospel story) clearly shows the radically new covenant (cf. Jer. 31:31-34; Ezek. 36:22-38). Salvation is based on faith in Jesus, not personal achievement, merit, or performance (cf. Eph. 2:8-9). This is the new covenant way of being accepted by God!
Theologians emphasize the word "love" and turn it into a new requirement for forgiveness and acceptance. Love is surely the by-product of a personal relationship with God through Christ, but it is not the criterion for acceptance. Acceptance is based on the finished and complete work of the Son. Humans must respond in repentance and faith, but they cannot add to or take away from this freely given salvation. A changed and changing life of love, obedience, and perseverance are evidence that we have met God in Christ. Believers are saved "unto good works" (cf. Eph. 2:10), not "by good works" (cf. Rom. 3:21-30)!
7:48 "Your sins have been forgiven" This is a perfect passive indicative. This must have been a tremendous shock to the Jews sitting there who knew that only God could forgive sins (cf. Luke 5:21-24).
7:50 "'Your faith has saved you" This is a perfect active indicative. This woman's expression of love was the result, not the means, of forgiveness. Faith in Christ is the key issue (cf. Luke 5:20; 7:9; 8:48; 17:19; 18:42).
▣ "go in peace" This is a present middle (deponent) imperative (cf. Luke 8:48).
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. Why are the accounts of Luke 7 and Matthew 8 so different?
2. Why was Jesus so impressed with this man's faith?
3. Why did Jesus resuscitate the widow of Nain's son?
4. Why did John the Baptist doubt that Jesus was the Messiah? How did Jesus answer his question?
5. Is John the Baptist an OT prophet or a NT preacher?
6. Why is Jesus' statement of Luke 7:48 an anathema to the Jewish leaders?
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