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Word Pictures in the New Testament - Luke
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Chapter 17

17:1 It is impossible [anendekton estin]. See [ouk endechetai] in 13:33. Alpha privative [an-] and [endektos], verbal adjective, from [endechomai]. The word occurs only in late Greek and only here in the N.T. The meaning is inadmissible, unallowable. But that occasions of stumbling should come [tou ta skandala mē elthein]. This genitive articular infinitive is not easy to explain. In Ac 10:25 there is another example where the genitive articular infinitive seems to be used as a nominative (Robertson, Grammar, p. 1040). The loose Hebrew infinitive construction may have a bearing here, but one may recall that the original infinitives were either locatives [-eni] or datives [-ai]. [Ta skandala] is simply the accusative of general reference. Literally, the not coming as to occasions of stumbling. For [skandalon] (a trap) see on Mt 5:29; 16:23. It is here only in Luke. The positive form of this saying appears in Mt 18:7, which see.

17:2 It were well for him [lusitelei autōi]. An old word, but only here in the N.T., from [lusitelēs] and this from [luō], to pay, and [ta telē], the taxes. So it pays the taxes, it returns expenses, it is profitable. Literally here, “It is profitable for him” (dative case, [autōi]. Matthew has [sumpherei] (it is advantageous, bears together for). If a millstone were hanged [ei lithos mulikos perikeitai]. Literally, “if a millstone is hanged.” Present passive indicative from [perikeimai] (to lie or be placed around). It is used as a perfect passive of [peritithēmi]. So it is a first-class condition, determined as fulfilled, not second-class as the English translations imply. [Mulikos] is simply a stone [lithos], belonging to a mill. Here only in the text of Westcott and Hort, not in Mr 9:42 which is like Mt 18:6 [mulos onikos] where the upper millstone is turned by an ass, which see. Were thrown [erriptai]. Perfect passive indicative from [rhiptō], old verb. Literally, is thrown or has been thrown or cast or hurled. Mark has [beblētai] and Matthew [katapontisthēi], which see, all three verbs vivid and expressive. Rather than [ē]. The comparative is not here expressed before [ē] as one would expect. It is implied in [lusitelei]. See the same idiom in Lu 15:7.

17:3 If thy brother sin [ean hamartēi]. Second aorist (ingressive) subjunctive in condition of third class.

17:4 Seven times in a day [heptakis tēs hēmeras]. Seven times within the day. On another occasion Peter’s question (Mt 18:21) brought Christ’s answer “seventy times seven” (verse 22), which see. Seven times during the day would be hard enough for the same offender.

17:5 Increase [prosthes]. Second aorist active imperative of [prostithēmi], to add to. Bruce thinks that this sounds much like the stereotyped petition in church prayers. A little reflection will show that they should answer the prayer themselves.

17:6 If ye have [ei echete]. Condition of the first class, assumed to be true. Ye would say [elegete an]. Imperfect active with [an] and so a conclusion (apodosis) of the second class, determined as unfulfilled, a mixed condition therefore. Sycamine tree [sukaminōi]. At the present time both the black mulberry (sycamine) and the white mulberry (sycamore) exist in Palestine. Luke alone in the N.T. uses either word, the sycamine here, the sycamore in 19:4. The distinction is not observed in the LXX, but it is observed in the late Greek medical writers for both trees have medicinal properties. Hence it may be assumed that Luke, as a physician, makes the distinction. Both trees differ from the English sycamore. In Mt 17:20 we have “mountain” in place of “sycamine tree.” Be thou rooted up [ekrizōthēti]. First aorist passive imperative as is [phuteuthēti]. Would have obeyed [hupēkousen an]. First aorist active indicative with [an], apodosis of a second-class condition (note aorist tense here, imperfect [elegete].

17:7 Sit down to meat [anapese]. Recline (for the meal). Literally, fall up (or back).

17:8 And will not rather say [all’ ouk erei]. But will not say? [Ouk] in a question expects the affirmative answer. Gird thyself [perizōsamenos]. Direct middle first aorist participle of [perizōnnumi], to gird around. Till I have eaten and drunken [heōs phagō kai piō]. More exactly, till I eat and drink. The second aorist subjunctives are not future perfects in any sense, simply punctiliar action, effective aorist. Thou shalt eat and drink [phagesai kai piesai]. Future middle indicative second person singular, the uncontracted forms [-esai] as often in the Koinē.These futures are from the aorist stems [ephagon] and [epion] without sigma.

17:9 Does he thank? [mē echei charin;]. [] expects the negative answer. [Echō charin], to have gratitude toward one, is an old Greek idiom (1Ti 1:12; 2Ti 1:3; Heb 12:28).

17:10 Unprofitable [achreioi]. The Syriac Sinaitic omits “unprofitable.” The word is common in Greek literature, but in the N.T. only here and Mt 25:30 where it means “useless” [a] privative and [chreios] from [chraomai], to use). The slave who only does what he is commanded by his master to do has gained no merit or credit. “In point of fact it is not commands, but demands we have to deal with, arising out of special emergencies” (Bruce). The slavish spirit gains no promotion in business life or in the kingdom of God.

17:11 Through the midst of Samaria and Galilee [dia meson Samarias kai Galilaias]. This is the only instance in the N.T. of [dia] with the accusative in the local sense of “through.” Xenophon and Plato use [dia mesou] (genitive). Jesus was going from Ephraim (Joh 11:54) north through the midst of Samaria and Galilee so as to cross over the Jordan near Bethshean and join the Galilean caravan down through Perea to Jerusalem. The Samaritans did not object to people going north away from Jerusalem, but did not like to see them going south towards the city (Lu 9:51-56).

17:12 Which stood afar off [hoi anestēsan porrōthen]. The margin of Westcott and Hort reads simply [estēsan]. The compound read by B means “rose up,” but they stood at a distance (Le 13:45f.). The first healing of a leper (5:12-16) like this is given by Luke only.

17:13 Lifted up [ēran]. First aorist active of the liquid verb [airō].

17:14 As they went [en tōi hupagein autous]. Favourite Lukan idiom of [en] with articular infinitive as in 17:11 and often.

17:16 And he was a Samaritan [kai autos ēn Samareitēs]. This touch colours the whole incident. The one man who felt grateful enough to come back and thank Jesus for the blessing was a despised Samaritan. The [autos] has point here.

17:18 Save this stranger [ei mē ho allogenēs]. The old word was [allophulos] (Ac 10:28), but [allogenēs] occurs in the LXX, Josephus, and inscriptions. Deissmann (Light from the Ancient East, p. 80) gives the inscription from the limestone block from the Temple of Israel in Jerusalem which uses this very word which may have been read by Jesus: Let no foreigner enter within the screen and enclosure surrounding the sanctuary [Mēthena allogenē eisporeuesthai entos tou peri to hieron truphaktou kai peribolou].

17:20 With observation [meta paratēseōs]. Late Greek word from [paratēreō], to watch closely. Only here in the N.T. Medical writers use it of watching the symptoms of disease. It is used also of close astronomical observations. But close watching of external phenomena will not reveal the signs of the kingdom of God.

17:21 Within you [entos humōn]. This is the obvious, and, as I think, the necessary meaning of [entos]. The examples cited of the use of [entos] in Xenophon and Plato where [entos] means “among” do not bear that out when investigated. Field (Ot. Norv.) “contends that there is no clear instance of [entos] in the sense of among” (Bruce), and rightly so. What Jesus says to the Pharisees is that they, as others, are to look for the kingdom of God within themselves, not in outward displays and supernatural manifestations. It is not a localized display “Here” or “There.” It is in this sense that in Lu 11:20 Jesus spoke of the kingdom of God as “come upon you” [ephthasen eph’ humās], speaking to Pharisees. The only other instance of [entos] in the N.T. (Mt 23:26) necessarily means “within” (“the inside of the cup”). There is, beside, the use of [entos] meaning “within” in the Oxyrhynchus Papyrus saying of Jesus of the Third Century (Deissmann, Light from the Ancient East, p. 426) which is interesting: “The kingdom of heaven is within you” [entos humōn] as here in Lu 17:21.

17:23 Go not away nor follow after them [mē apelthēte mēde diōxēte]. Westcott and Hort bracket [apelthēte mēde]. Note aorist subjunctive with [] in prohibition, ingressive aorist. Do not rush after those who set times and places for the second advent. The Messiah was already present in the first advent (verse 21) though the Pharisees did not know it.

17:24 Lighteneth [astraptousa]. An old and common verb, though only here and 24:4 in the N.T. The second coming will be sudden and universally visible. There are still some poor souls who are waiting in Jerusalem under the delusion that Jesus will come there and nowhere else.

17:25 But first [prōton de]. The second coming will be only after the Cross.

17:27 They ate, they drank, they married, they were given in marriage [ēsthion, epinon, egamoun, egamizonto]. Imperfects all of them vividly picturing the life of the time of Noah. But the other tenses are aorists (Noah entered [eisēlthen], the flood came [ēlthen], destroyed [apōlesen].

17:28 Note the same sharp contrast between the imperfects here (ate [ēsthion], drank [epinon], bought [ēgorazon], sold [epōloun], planted [ephuteuon], builded [ōikodomoun] and the aorists in verse 29 (went out [exēlthen], rained [ebrexen], destroyed {apōlesen].

17:30 Is revealed [apokaluptetai]. Prophetic and futuristic present passive indicative.

17:31 Let him not go down [mē katabatō]. Second aorist active imperative of [katabainō] with [] in a prohibition in the third person singular. The usual idiom here would be [] and the aorist subjunctive. See Mr 13:15f.; Mt 24:17f. when these words occur in the great eschatological discussion concerning flight before the destruction of Jerusalem. Here the application is “absolute indifference to all worldly interests as the attitude of readiness for the Son of Man” (Plummer).

17:32 Remember Lot’s wife [mnēmoneuete tēs gunaikos Lōt]. Here only in the N.T. A pertinent illustration to warn against looking back with yearning after what has been left behind (Ge 19:26).

17:33 Shall preserve it [zōogonēsei autēn]. Or save it alive. Here only in the N.T. except 1Ti 6:13; Ac 7:19. It is a late word and common in medical writers, to bring forth alive [zōos, genō] and here to keep alive.

17:34 In that night [tautēi tēi nukti]. More vivid still, “on this night,” when Christ comes.

17:35 Shall be grinding [esontai alēthousai]. Periphrastic future active indicative of [alēthō], an old verb only in the N.T. here and Mt 24:41. Together [epi to auto]. In the same place, near together as in Ac 2:1.

17:37 The eagles [hoi aetoi]. Or the vultures attracted by the carcass. This proverb is quoted also in Mt 24:28. See Job 39:27-30; Heb 1:8; Ho 8:1. Double compound [epi-sun-] in [epi-sun-achthēsontai] completes the picture.

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