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Luke 13


Repent or Perish Repent or Perish On Repentance Turn From Your Sin or Die Examples Inviting Repentance
13:1-5 13:1-5 13:1-5 13:1-5 13:1-5
The Parable of the Barren Fig Tree The Parable of the Barren Fig Tree   The Parable of the Unfruitful Fig Tree Parable of the Barren Fig Tree
13:6-9 13:6-9 13:6-9 13:6-9 13:6-9
The Healing of a Crippled Woman on the Sabbath A Spirit of Infirmity A Crippled Woman Healed Jesus Heals a Crippled Woman on the Sabbath Healing of a Crippled Woman on the Sabbath
13:10-17 13:10-17 13:10-17 13:10-13 13:10-13
      13:14 13:14-17
The Parable of the Mustard Seed and the Leaven The Parable of the Mustard Seed Parables of Mustard Seed and Yeast The Parable of the Mustard Seed Parable of the Mustard Seed
13:18-19 13:18-19 13:18-19 13:18-19 13:18-19
  The Parable of the Leaven   The Parable of the Yeast Parable of the Yeast
13:20-21 13:20-21 13:20-21 13:20-21 13:20-21
The Narrow Door The Narrow Way On the End of the Age The Narrow Door The Narrow Door: Rejection of the Jews, Call of the Gentiles
13:22-30 13:22-33 13:22-30 13:22-23a 13:22-24
The Lament Over Jerusalem   Words to Herod Antipas Jesus' Love for Jerusalem Herod the Fox
13:31-35   13:31-33 13:31 13:31-33
  Jesus Laments Over Jerusalem Lament Over Jerusalem 13:32-33 Jerusalem Admonished
  13:34-35 13:34-35 13:34-35 13:34-35

READING CYCLE THREE (from "A Guide to Good Bible Reading")


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

4. Etc.



 1Now on the same occasion there were some present who reported to Him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices. 2And Jesus said to them, "Do you suppose that these Galileans were greater sinners than all other Galileans because they suffered this fate? 3I tell you, no, but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. 4Or do you suppose that those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them were worse culprits than all the men who live in Jerusalem? 5I tell you, no, but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish."

13:1 "there were some present" This phrase (an imperfect indicative) can mean

1. they were always in the crowd

2. they had just arrived


"the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices" We do not have any other historical reference of this account, but because of the tendency of the Galileans to be rabble rousers and the personality of Pilate, it is surely factual. Why mention it except to establish a historical point of reference?

Apparently these Galilean Jews came to Jerusalem to offer a sacrifice at the temple, and something went terribly wrong that involved the Roman government, not just temple police (i.e., special Levites). Most commentators assume they were involved in the "zealot" movement (free Palestine from Rome at any cost).

13:2 "And He answered and said to them, 'Do you suppose that these Galileans were greater sinners than all other Galileans because they suffered this fate’" Old Testament theology tended to relate the problems in life to personal sin (cf. Deut. 27-28), however, the Book of Job, Psalm 73, and Jesus in this passage (see also John 9) assert that is not always the case.

It is hard theologically to know the reason for problems or persecutions in this world.

1. It could be punishment for personal sin and rebellion.

2. It could be the activity of personal evil.

3. It could be the results of living in a fallen world (statistical evil).

4. It could be an opportunity for spiritual growth.

Jesus is asking questions the Jewish hearers would relate to #1 and the traditional theology of the rabbis (cf. The three friends of Job). The presence of problems, persecutions, and hard times is not a sign of God's wrath. However, the crucial issues relate to the lack of repentance from sin and faith in Jesus! Bad things happen! Two good books that have helped me in this area are Hannah Whithall Smith's The Christian's Secret of A Happy Life and John Wenham, The Goodness of God.

An added thought, these Galileans were in the temple area, but the temple (the great Jewish hope) could not save them.

13:3 "but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish" This is a third class conditional sentence. It is a Present active subjunctive followed by a Future middle indicative. This is emphasizing the need for personal repentance (cf. Luke 13:3,5; 15:7,10; 17:3,4; Mark 1:15; Acts 3:19; 20:21). Repentance is the turning from sin and self, while faith is turning to God. The term "repent" in Hebrew means "a change of action." The term repent in Greek means "change of mind." Both are required. Notice that both are initial and ongoing (see note at Luke 13:5). See SPECIAL TOPIC: REPENTANCE IN THE OLD TESTAMENT at Luke 3:3.

13:4 Here is another local historical incident that Jesus' hearers knew about personally. Jesus intensifies His truth statements by these historical illustrations of personal (intentional, Luke 13:1-2) and natural (unintentional, Luke 13:4) contemporary events.

TEV, NJB–omit–

This is literally the term "debts" as in Matt. 6:12, which was a Jewish idiom for sin or sinners. Luke does not use the term in his version of the Lord's Prayer (cf. Luke 11:2-4) because his Gentile readers would not normally comprehend this idiom.

13:5 This verse is parallel to Luke 13:3. Verse 3 has a present subjunctive, while Luke 13:5 has an aorist subjunctive. This seems to refer to a decisive act of repentance (and faith) versus the ongoing need for repentance in Luke 13:3. Both are necessary.

"perish" This is the future middle indicative form of the term apollumi. See Special Topic at Luke 19:10.

 6And He began telling this parable: "A man had a fig tree which had been planted in his vineyard; and he came looking for fruit on it and did not find any. 7And he said to the vineyard-keeper, 'Behold, for three years I have come looking for fruit on this fig tree without finding any. Cut it down! Why does it even use up the ground?' 8And he answered and said to him, 'Let it alone, sir, for this year too, until I dig around it and put in fertilizer; 9and if it bears fruit next year, fine; but if not, cut it down.'"

13:6 "A man" The NASB 1970 has "a certain man" (tis). This is a literary marker for Luke's introducing a parable of Jesus (cf. Luke 10:30; 12:16; 13:6; 14:16; 15:4; 16:1,19; 19:12).

"had a fig tree" The fig tree was often used as a symbol of Israel (cf. Hos. 9:10; Joel 1:7). However, in the account in Matt. 21:19ff, the fig tree is a symbol of Israel's leaders only. In the OT allusion from Isaiah 5, the bad fruit came from God's special vineyard. This context seems to refer to national Israel as a whole, whose spiritual life and priorities were characterized in her leaders.

13:7 "for three years" It takes several years for a fruit tree of any kind to start producing fruit. That time had passed by three years. God was patient, but there is a limit to His longsuffering.

13:8-9 This symbolizes the patience and mercy of God, however, Luke 13:9 shows the reality of judgment. God wants a righteous people who reflect His character. This passage, like John 15:2-6, is a warning against unfruitful lives in His people! God takes obedience seriously (cf. Luke 6:46). This is not works-righteousness, but true salvation evidenced by godly living (cf. Eph. 2:8-10). Salvation is not a product, a ticket to heaven, or a fire insurance policy, but a changed and changing life of godliness! Eternal life has observable characteristics (cf. Matthew 7).

13:9 "and if" This is the Greek compound kai ean, which makes this a partial third class conditional sentence (potential action). Its being incomplete was a way of making the supposed conclusion stand out.

"but if not" This is a first class conditional sentence (ei de mē ge), which assumes it will not bear fruit even with further special care (cf. Luke 3:9).

 10And He was teaching in one of the synagogues on the Sabbath. 11And there was a woman who for eighteen years had had a sickness caused by a spirit; and she was bent double, and could not straighten up at all. 12When Jesus saw her, He called her over and said to her, "Woman, you are freed from your sickness." 13And He laid His hands on her; and immediately she was made erect again and began glorifying God. 14But the synagogue official, indignant because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath, began saying to the crowd in response, "There are six days in which work should be done; so come during them and get healed, and not on the Sabbath day." 15But the Lord answered him and said, "You hypocrites, does not each of you on the Sabbath untie his ox or his donkey from the stall and lead him away to water him? 16"And this woman, a daughter of Abraham as she is, whom Satan has bound for eighteen long years, should she not have been released from this bond on the Sabbath day?" 17As He said this, all His opponents were being humiliated; and the entire crowd was rejoicing over all the glorious things being done by Him.

13:10 Many of Jesus' teachings and miracles were done in synagogues on the Sabbath for two unrelated reasons:

1. Jesus fulfilled all Jewish requirements. Sabbath worship was surely one of these (cf. Gen. 2:2-3; Exod. 20:8-11).

2. He acted on the Sabbath to instigate dialog with the religious leaders who cherished their rules and traditions over people.


13:11 "a woman" Luke uniquely records Jesus' ministry to women. This was shocking to Jewish sensibilities! See Special Topic: Women in the Bible at Luke 2:36.

"a sickness caused by a spirit" Obviously this was a case of demon possession. The NT makes a distinction between someone being demonized and someone being diseased, although demons often do cause disease. See Special Topic at Luke 4:33.

▣ "bent double" This is a Greek medical term for "a bent spine." Luke was a Gentile physician (cf. Col. 4:14) or at least a highly educated man.

13:12 "When Jesus saw her" Jesus does this (1) out of compassion for this lady and/or (2) to engage the religious leaders in theological dialog. She does not expect or ask Him to act on her behalf.

▣ "Woman, you are freed from your sickness" This is a perfect passive indicative. Jesus usually never lays hands on people for exorcism. Apparently at His word the demon fled, but Jesus laid hands on her to increase her faith and to enable her to stand erect (cf. Luke 13:13).

13:13 "and He laid His hands on her" See SPECIAL TOPIC: LAYING ON OF HANDS in the Bible at Luke 4:40.

13:14 "But the synagogue official, indignant" This man asserts that there are six other days of the week on which this could have legally occurred (according to rabbinical Oral Traditions' interpretation of Exod. 20:9 and Deut. 5:13), but this lady had been attending synagogue services weekly for eighteen years in her pitiful condition and had not been helped by Jewish rules, Jewish healers (scribes), or synagogue worship! See SPECIAL TOPIC: SABBATH at Luke 6:1.

13:15-16 Jesus exposed this man and all who think like him (plural, hypocrites). The rabbis had great compassion in their oral traditions for the human treatment of animals on the Sabbath (cf. Luke 14:5), but were restrictive in their treatment of humans. Jesus illustrates the fallacy of the rabbinical system's legalism without compassion for people. We must be careful of our rules. They often become more important then people. People are priority with God. Only people are eternal. God made creation for fellowship with people! Our rules often say more about us than about God!

13:15 "hypocrites" See Special Topic at Luke 6:42.

13:16 This verse obviously links the demonic and Satan (see Special Topic at Luke 4:2). He is the chief demon (cf. Luke 11:15,18). This woman was bound in a worse way than any oxen (cf. Luke 13:15). Verse 16 expects a "yes" answer.

13:17 "all His opponents were being humiliated" This shows the presence of many religious leaders in the synagogue. This one "ruler of the synagogue" spoke on behalf of many who were present.

The word "ashamed" (imperfect passive indicative) is used only here in the Gospels, but is used nine times by Paul (i.e., Romans, I and 2 Corinthians). Luke must have heard it often in Paul's sermons. It was used often in the Septuagint (esp. Isa. 45:16). Luke knew this Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible well. He was influenced by its terminology and idioms.

"the entire crowd was rejoicing over all the glorious things done by Him" What a contrast: religious leaders embarrassed, but the common people (people of the land) rejoicing over Jesus' words and deeds (cf. Luke 9:43; 13:17; 18:43; 19:37)! Again, the hearts of the hearers determines the response (e.g., the parable of the soils, cf. Luke 8:4-15).

 18So He was saying, "What is the kingdom of God like, and to what shall I compare it? 19It is like a mustard seed, which a man took and threw into his own garden; and it grew and became a tree, and the birds of the air nested in its branches." 20And again He said, "To what shall I compare the kingdom of God? 21It is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three pecks of flour until it was all leavened."

13:18 "What is the kingdom of God like" Here are two parables that imply the smallness and insignificance of the kingdom then, but, one day, its pervasiveness and power.

13:19 "the birds of the air nested in its branches" A mustard seed grew to about ten feet tall. This OT quote is a symbol of the pervasiveness, protection, and provision of the kingdom of God (cf. Ezek. 17:23; 31:6; Dan. 4:12,21).

13:21 "leaven" This is not a symbol of evil in this context, but a sign of pervasiveness. See SPECIAL TOPIC: LEAVEN at Luke 12:1.

 22And He was passing through from one city and village to another, teaching, and proceeding on His way to Jerusalem. 23And someone said to Him, "Lord, are there just a few who are being saved?" And He said to them, 24"Strive to enter through the narrow door; for many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able. 25Once the head of the house gets up and shuts the door, and you begin to stand outside and knock on the door, saying, 'Lord, open up to us!' then He will answer and say to you, 'I do not know where you are from.' 26Then you will begin to say, 'We ate and drank in Your presence, and You taught in our streets'; 27and He will say, 'I tell you, I do not know where you are from; depart from Me, all you evildoers.' 28In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, but yourselves being thrown out. 29And they will come from east and west and from north and south, and will recline at the table in the kingdom of God. 30And behold, some are last who will be first and some are first who will be last."

13:22 Here again is Luke's emphasis on Jesus traveling on His way to Jerusalem to His divine appointment (cf. Luke 9:51; 13:22; 17:11; 18:31; 19:11,28; Acts 2:23; 3:18; 4:28; 13:29).

13:23 "Lord, are there just a few who are being saved" This was a highly discussed issue among the rabbis (cf. Matt. 7:13-14). They argued whether all the Jews would be saved from God's wrath on Judgment Day or just certain sects within Judaism (their own). This question may also relate to the OT concept of "remnant" (cf. Isa. 10:20-23; 16:14; Micah 2:17; 4:6-8; 5:7-9; 7:18-20). The tragedy of ancient Israel was that although they were the special chosen nation of YHWH, most never had a personal faith relationship with Him. Israel's history is one of judgment, restoration, and judgment again. The prophets only saw a faithful remnant (sh’r) returning from Assyrian and Babylonian exile.


13:24 "Strive to enter through the narrow door" This is a Present middle (deponent) imperative - plural. The term "strive" means "to enter an athletic contest." We get the English word "agony" from this Greek term (cf. Luke 22:44). This is not emphasizing works righteousness, but that following Jesus costs. Jesus, not Jewish legalism, is the door to salvation (cf. Luke 13:25-26; John 10:1-3,7; Galatians). In Matt. 7:13 it is a narrow gate that leads to a path, but here it is a narrow door that enters the house.

▣ "for many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able" This asserts that many of those who thought they were certain of entrance into the kingdom will be surprised (cf. Luke 13:28; Matt. 8:12). This is a shocking verse for legalists of all ages and cultures. Salvation is not human effort, but a response of personal faith to God's gift and provision—Jesus (cf. John 10:1-18; 14:6). The picture here may be of many people wailing outside a small door and trying to enter all at once. At the moment of the Parousia there will be no time to prepare or act (cf. Matt. 15:1-13).

13:25 This is very similar to the eschatological parable of preparation and persistence found in Matt. 15:1-13. Whenever one encounters Jesus, that is the time of salvation. People must not put off the spiritual decision that needs to be made today. In this parable, when the host of the feast recognizes that the time for the meal has come, He locks the door so that no more guests may come in.

Humans do not initiate spiritual decisions. They can only respond to God's initiation (cf. John 6:44,65). God has spoken through Christ. They must respond now or be locked out of the Messianic banquet.

13:26 "we ate and drank in Your presence" Often Jews trusted in their racial ancestry (cf. Luke 3:8; John 8:31-59) or religious performance (cf. Matt. 7:21-23). Knowing Jesus in the flesh or simply calling on His name (liturgically or flippantly) is not equivalent to a personal faith relationship (cf. John 1:12; 3:16; Rom. 10:9-13).


NASB"I do not know where you are from"
NKJV"I do not know you, where are you from"
NRSV, NJB"I do not know where you came from"
TEV"I don't know where you came from"

Verses 25 and 27 are parallel, but Luke 13:27 seems to have dropped the pronoun "you" (humas) in the ancient Greek manuscripts P75 (early third century), B (fourth century), L (eighth century), and 070 (sixth century). The question comes, "Was it originally an exact parallel?" Many other ancient texts have it (cf. MSS א, A, W, and most early versions). Jesus' words to these hearers paralleled His words to the religionists of Matt. 7:21-23! Religious rules, actions, and liturgy, without personal faith, were a horrible tragedy to national Israel and a modern tragedy to legalists!

M. R. Vincent, Word Studies, p. 192, asserts that the phrase ("where are you from") relates to the speaker's birthplace or family. If so, this may refer to the Jewish preoccupation with Abraham as their ancestor (cf. Matt. 3:9; John 8:33,37,39). The two Jewish hopes were (1) their racial ancestry and (2) their Mosaic temple (cultus). Jesus depreciates both and replaces them with personal faith in Himself as the only way to be right with God.

▣ "all you evildoers" This seems to be a quote of Ps. 6:8 (cf. Matt. 7:23).

13:28 "there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth" This is used for eschatological rejection (cf. Matt. 8:12; 13:42,50; 22:13; 24:15; 25:30; Rev. 18:19). These Jews are grieving (see Special Topic at Luke 10:13) because

1. Abraham and the Patriarchs will be with Jesus

2. these Jewish leaders will not be with Jesus

3. Gentiles from all over the world will be with Jesus


NASB"but yourselves being thrown out"
NKJV"and yourselves thrust out"
NRSV"and you yourselves thrown out"
TEV"while you are thrown out"
NJB"and yourselves thrown out"

The imagery of a locked entrance (cf. Luke 13:24-25) is changed and intensified to an extraction. Some who thought they were in will be cast out. The image has switched from a house owner to the Kingdom of God.

13:29 "recline at the table in the kingdom of God" This refers to the imagery of the Messianic banquet (cf. Isa. 25:6-8; 55:1-2; 65:13-14), often referred to in the book of Revelation as the Wedding Feast of the Lamb (cf. Rev. 3:20; 19:9). This is an inaugural event of the beginning of the consummated Kingdom of God (cf. Luke 14:15; 22:16,30).

13:30 Verses 25-27 refer to Jesus' hearers. Some respond to Him, some think they have responded to Him, and many openly reject Him. The eschatological consequences for rejecting Him are severe.

Verse 30 relates to the evaluation of believers within the Kingdom. Those who seemed so prominent here will not be in heaven (cf. Matt. 19:30; 20:16; Mark 10:31). God's ways of evaluation are different from human ways (cf. Isa. 55:8-11). Motives and attitudes will one day be known and rewarded.

 31Just at that time some Pharisees approached, saying to Him, "Go away, leave here, for Herod wants to kill You." 32And He said to them, "Go and tell that fox, 'Behold, I cast out demons and perform cures today and tomorrow, and the third day I reach My goal.' 33Nevertheless I must journey on today and tomorrow and the next day; for it cannot be that a prophet would perish outside of Jerusalem. 34O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, just as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you would not have it! 35Behold, your house is left to you desolate; and I say to you, you will not see Me until the time comes when you say, 'Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!'"

13:31 Was this an act of kindness or a way to get Jesus out of town so that He could not condemn them and increase His disciples?

"Go away, leave here" This is an aorist active imperative followed by a present middle (deponent) imperative.

"Herod" See note at Luke 9:7.

"wants to kill you" This is ironic because, in reality, the Pharisees (see Special Topic at Luke 5:17) and Sadducees (see Special Topic at Luke 20:27) also wanted Jesus dead. Perhaps the Pharisees were hoping Herod would kill Him and save them the trouble and blame.

13:32 "Go and tell" This is an aorist passive (deponent) participle used in the sense of an imperative plus an Aorist active imperative. However, this is a good example of an imperative used as a literary device (not literally). Jesus is not asking these Pharisees to serve as His messenger to Herod.

"I cast out demons and perform cures" This may relate to 9:7. Herod knew of Jesus and wanted to question Him.

"today and tomorrow, and the third day I reach My goal" This phrase clearly shows that Jesus knew that it was God's will for Him to die in Jerusalem (cf. Luke 13:33; John 5:36; 17:23; 19:28) and no one (Herod) could stop God's redemptive plan. Luke's Gospel has been emphasizing Jesus' determined travel to Jerusalem since 9:51.

It is possible that this phrase is an apocalyptic idiom of Luke 3:5, which refers to a period of persecution (cf. Dan. 7:25; 8:14; 12:12; and possibly Luke 4:25).

13:34 "Jerusalem, Jerusalem" The doubling is a Semitic way of showing intensity (cf. Gen. 22:11 and LXX Gen. 22:1). However, in most NT examples it shows mild reproach.

"the city that kills the prophets and stones those sent to her" This is another expression of God's repeated attempt to call His people to repentance (cf. Hos. 11:2). The Jewish people killed these "sent" messengers by stoning, which was the Mosaic punishment for blasphemy (they were thought to bring a false message). Now the city will kill "the Son" (cf. Luke 20:9-18).

"How often I wanted to gather your children together" This is another phrase which shows God's repeated attempts at communication and fellowship. Notice that Jesus expresses Himself as YHWH.

▣ "as a hen gathers her brood under her wings" This is a feminine metaphor used by Jesus for Himself. Deity is neither male or female (cf. Gen. 1:2; Exod. 19:4; Deut. 32:11; Ps. 17:8; 36:7; Isa. 49:15; 16:9-13; and Hos. 11:1-4). God is an eternal, omnipresent Spirit. He made both males and females and incorporated the best in Himself. Humans call God "He" because of His personality and the ancient tradition from the Jewish patriarchal culture.


13:35 "your house is left to you desolate" The metaphor of "your house" is reminiscent of Luke 11:21-26. This verse is not directed to Jewish leadership only, but the inhabitants of Jerusalem who represented all of Israel. God's repeated overtures of love had been repeatedly and violently rejected. Now come the consequences.

But, please remember that the consequences of their sin, and our sin, were paid for through Christ's death on our behalf in this very city just condemned. Jesus is God's open door of forgiveness for whosoever will (cf. John 1:12; 3:16). That door is open as long as life remains and time remains!

"desolate" This term is not found in the ancient Greek manuscripts P45,75, א, A, B, L, W, or the Greek texts used by Epaphanus and Augustine. This same textual problem occurs in Matt. 23:38. The UBS4 rates the addition of "desolate" in Matt. 23:38 as "B" (almost certain) but its omission here as "B" (almost certain). It seems to have been added later (MS D) to clarify the meaning of the Greek phrase, or possibly as an allusion to Jer. 22:5. For many it is a prophecy of the destruction of Jerusalem in a.d. 70 (cf. Luke 21), which foreshadows the destruction preceding the Second Coming. Jerusalem's destruction in the lifetime of these hearers was a powerful witness of the trustworthiness of Jesus' words.

"you shall not see Me until the time when you say, 'Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord’" This is an allusion to Ps. 118:26 in the Septuagint.

This has a double reference: (1) it refers to Jesus' triumphal entry into Jerusalem (cf. Luke 19:38) and (2) it refers to the Second Coming. Notice that Jesus comes as the prophets came "in the name of the Lord," which means YHWH's representative. This judgment pronouncement was not permanent, but conditional. God's heart breaks for His rebellious people (cf. Hos. 11:8-9; Rom. 9-11; Zech. 12:10).


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. Are illnesses and problem in life a sign of God's displeasure?

2. Is Israel still the major thrust of God's redemption of all the earth?

3. Why was Jesus in such controversy with the Pharisees over the oral law?

4. How many people will be saved?

5. Is God masculine or feminine?