From: Over 50 Interpreters Explain the Gospel of Luke Return to Home
By Roland H. Worth, Jr. © 2015
Over 50 Interpreters
Explain the Gospel of Luke
A COMPENDIUM OF THE MOST INSIGHTFUL MATERIAL FROM COMMENTARIES
AND OTHER WORKS
NOW IN THE PUBLIC DOMAIN
Compiled and Edited
Roland H. Worth, Jr.
Copyright © 2015 by author
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it must be clearly and visibly distinguishable
from the original text.
The primary text of this work is the traditional King James Version. More modern renditions are included from the New King James Version of selected words and phrases and occasionally others.
Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1979, 1980, 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. All rights reserved.
Entire Chapter: Verses 1-50
Books Utilized Code Numbers at End of Chapter
Weymouth: After He had finished teaching all these things in the
hearing of the people, He went into
WEB: After he
had finished speaking in the hearing of the people, he entered into
Young’s: And when he completed all his sayings in
the ears of the people, he went into Capernaum;
Conte (RC): And when he had completed all his words in the hearing of the people, he entered
7:1 Now when he had ended all His sayings in
the audience [hearing, NKJV] of the people He entered into
The wording would seem to imply that the
preceding sermon in chapter six was delivered near
WEB: A certain centurion's servant, who was dear to him, was sick and at the point of death.
Young’s: and a certain centurion's servant being
ill, was about to die, who was much valued by him,
Conte (RC): Now the servant of a certain centurion was dying, due to an illness. And he was very dear to him.
7:2 And a certain centurion’s servant. This man was probably in the service of Herod Antipas, and may have been a Roman, or, with equal probability, some Greek or Oriental raised in the Roman manner. He was, perhaps, “a proselyte of the gate,” one who accepted the principles of the Jews in the main, and followed some of their customs. Had he been circumcised, thus becoming a “proselyte of righteousness,” they could not have distinguished between him and “our nation.” 
centurion. From [two Greek terms meaning] a hundred, and to command. Commander of a hundred men. Mark uses a Graecized form of the Latin word centurio. A centurio was originally a division consisting of a hundred things of a kind; and thence came to mean any division, whether consisting of a hundred or not. In military language it meant a division of troops, a company, not necessarily of a hundred, the captain of which was called centurio. The numbers of a century varied from about fifty to a hundred. The Roman legion consisted of ten cohorts or bands, as "the Italian band," of which Cornelius was a centurion (Acts x. 1). The commanders of these cohorts were called chiliarchs, or chief captains (John xviii. 12, Rev.). Each cohort contained six centuries, or companies, of which the commanders were called centurions. The duty of the centurion was chiefly confined to the regulation of his own corps, and the care of the watch. The badge of his office was the vitis, or vine-stock. He wore a short tunic, and was also known by letters on the crest of his helmet. Dean Howson ("Companions of St. Paul") remarks on the favorable impression left upon the mind by the officers of the Roman army mentioned in the New Testament, and cites, besides the centurion in this passage, the one at the cross, and Julius, who escorted Paul to Rome. 
servant. Strictly, a bond-servant or
slave. Slaves were very numerous
at that time throughout the
who was dear unto him. [“Dear:”] The adjective means, primarily, “valuable,” “precious,” then “held in honor,” “esteemed.” It might therefore possibly be understood as denoting pecuniary worth, or capacity for usefulness; but the whole tenor of the narrative consists better with the idea of personal esteem and affection suggested by the word “dear.” 
The love of the captain for his servant was a good example for the Jews themselves, who in the Talmud forbade mourning for slaves. 
was sick. Matthew says, “stricken with paralysis, and in terrible pain” (8:6). Luke, as a physician, may have omitted this specification because the description applies rather to tetanus than to the strict use of “paralysis.” 
and ready to die. Time was running out. This was the last opportunity the servant would have to escape death. [rw]
In depth: understanding the nature of the man's disease . The case itself is thus described in the two narratives: It was one of paralysis accompanied by grievous pain (Matt.); and the sufferer was considered "ready to die" (Luke). Non-professional commentators have been a good deal troubled about this description of "palsy,"--the more ordinary features of that disease being painless infirmity and long, but not dangerous illness. Medical authority finds no difficulty in the description. Another proof that the more knowledge of all sorts we bring to the study of the sacred narratives the better. "In this instance," says Sir Risdon Bennet, "we have probably a case of progressive paralysis, attended by muscular spasms, and involving the respiratory movements, where death is manifestly imminent and inevitable. In such a case there would be symptoms indicative of great distress, as well as immediate danger to life."
In depth: Differences
in Matthew and Luke's account as to how Jesus learned of the man's afflicted
condition . The following narrative is a striking instance
of variation in word where there is no contradictions
in purpose or thought. In
Matthew's account the centurion "came unto him, saying." In the present account he sent "the
Now these variations are, we think, fairly reconciled on the principle "that what a man does by another he does by himself. The act of an agent is the act of the principal. So in Exodus 18:6, Jethro being himself not present (as appears by the following verse), is made to say, by his messenger, "I, thy father-in-law, Jethro, am come," etc.
In Matthew 11:2-3 John sent to Jesus "and said." That is, John said by a messenger.
In John 4:1, Jesus is said to have baptized, though He did it only by disciples.
Comparing Mark with Matthew , we have it that Zebedee's children spoke to Jesus, but spoke by their mother.
We have no hesitation to say that the king conquers a country or that Solomon built the temple, though they were done entirely through their subjects. Matthew then gives the briefer substance; Luke gives the details. But Matthew reading Luke, would not for a moment have supposed himself to be contradicted. He would only have seen the story more explicitly given and some interesting points added.
Weymouth: and the Captain, hearing about Jesus, sent to Him some of the Jewish Elders, begging Him to come and restore his servant to health.
WEB: When he heard about Jesus, he sent to him elders of the Jews, asking him to come and save his servant.
Young’s: and having heard about Jesus, he sent
unto him elders of the Jews, beseeching him, that having come he might
thoroughly save his servant.
Conte (RC): And when he had heard about Jesus, he sent elders of the Jews to him, petitioning him, so that he would come and heal his servant.
7:3 And when he heard. He had not yet seen Christ. 
of Jesus he sent unto Him. The
centurion, feeling that as a Gentile and a sinner he might have little hope of
a favorable reception from the holy prophet of the Jews, sends the most weighty
men and magistrates of Jewish
the elders of the Jews. "Presbyters." The word literally signifies "the older
men." But as it became an official
epithet, it acquired the official sense.
Subsequent to the restoration from the captivity, a part of the
Sanhedrin consisted, with the chief priests and the scribes, also of "the
elders." Similarly the courts of the
individual towns, consisting of seven judges, were composed of "the elders
Or: Heads, probably of a synagogue of the place, and a sort of religious magistrates. 
beseeching him that he would come and heal his servant. These might be more persuasive messengers than ordinary servants; and they, in consideration of his personal friendliness were ready to do for him what they would ordinarily spurn to do for a centurion. 
Likewise their willingness to go out of their way to help an outsider, would be living testimony to Jesus that this Gentile was worthy of consideration regardless of whatever His normal response would have been. [rw]
Weymouth: And they, when they came to Jesus, earnestly entreated Him, pleading, "He deserves to have this favour granted him,
WEB: When they came to Jesus, they begged him earnestly, saying, "He is worthy for you to do this for him,
Young’s: And they, having come near unto Jesus,
were calling upon him earnestly, saying -- 'He is worthy to whom thou shalt do this,
Conte (RC): And when they had come to Jesus, they petitioned him anxiously, saying to him: "He is worthy that you should provide this to him.
7:4 And when they came to Jesus, they besought him instantly [earnestly, NKJV]. Their passion in making the plea showed their sincerity. [rw]
saying, That he was worthy for whom He should do this. It was not natural for a Jew of that day to plead for favors in behalf of a Gentile, but the generosity made him an exceptional case. They were even willing to apply for him to Christ, whom many of their rank had now come to regard as an object of hatred and abhorrence. But we ought not to charge upon all, even of the scribes and Pharisees, that hostility which prevailed among them as a class. 
In depth: Was this centurion a convert to Judaism ? The Jews divided converts into two classes:
1. Proselytes of the gate, who had not entered into the complete adoption of the ritual of Moses. These stood on the patriarchal basis, aiming to keep the seven precepts of Noah's dispensation. By these they were to abstain from (1) idolatry; (2) murder; (3) incest; (4) robbery; (5) profanity; (6) eating blood and strangled animal food; (7) rebellion. Those keeping these ethical principles would, according to Jewish opinion, be saved. These were commonly called "those worshipping God," in distinction from "those worshipping gods."
2. Proselytes of righteousness. Those who became circumcised, and accepted the whole law as complete naturalized Jews.
Whether the present centurion had progressed so far as complete Judiasm or not, he seems to have progressed further [to] faith [in Christ].
Weymouth: for he loves our nation, and at his own expense he built our synagogue for us."
WEB: for he loves our nation, and he built our synagogue for us."
Young’s: for he doth love our nation,
and the synagogue he did build to us.'
Conte (RC): For he loves our nation, and he has built a synagogue for us."
7:5 For he loveth our nation. The
Romans were tolerant, from motives of policy, of the religions of the nations
they conquered. But this man did
more. There were many even at
It is not impossible that he may have been a Roman, though there is no direct proof that Romans ever held such offices under Herod Antipas. More probably he was some Greek or Syrian, holding a commission under the tetrarch. 
and he hath built us a synagogue. He build them a new synagogue at Capernaum, finding that what they had was either gone to decay or not large enough to contain the people, and that the inhabitants were not of [the] ability to build one for themselves. Hereby he testified his veneration for the God of Israel, his belief of His being the one only living and true God, and his desire, like that of Darius, to have an interest in the prayers of God's Israel (Ezra 6:10). This centurion built a synagogue at his own costs and charges, and probably employed his soldiers that were in garrison there in the building, to keep them from idleness. 
In depth: How many synaogues
WEB: Jesus went with them. When he was now not far from the house, the centurion sent friends to him, saying to him, "Lord, don't trouble yourself, for I am not worthy for you to come under my roof.
Young’s: And Jesus was going on with them, and now
when he is not far distant from the house the centurion sent unto him friends,
saying to him, 'Sir, be not troubled, for I am not worthy that under my roof
thou mayest enter;
Conte (RC): Then Jesus went with them. And when he was now not far from the house, the centurion sent friends to him, saying: "Lord, do not trouble yourself. For I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof.
7:6 Then Jesus went with them. No indication of reluctance is given. He takes their endorsement at full face value. [rw]
And when he was now not far from the house, sent friends to Him. A second deputation; for the more he thought of it, the more troubled he was how to receive such a mysterious visitor. If Jesus was actually coming to his house, ought he not to go out to receive Him? And how could he receive with due honor such a guest at such a time? 
Here the narrative of Luke is much more detailed, and therefore probably more exact, than that of Matthew, who represents the conversation as taking place between our Lord and the centurion himself. We see from Luke that he had been prevented from coming in person by deep humility, and the belief that the elders would be more likely to win the boon [= favor] for him. Meanwhile, he probably stayed by the bedside of his dying slave. 
saying unto Him, Lord. The word in itself may mean no more than “Sir,” as in John , ; Acts , etc. It was, in fact, like the Latin dominus, an ordinary mode of address to persons whose names were unknown (Seneca, Epistle 3); but the centurion’s entire conduct shews that on his lips the word would have a more exalted significance. 
trouble not Thyself. Namely, by coming so far out of Thy way. We can only harmonize this with the desire in verse 2 that Christ should “come and heal,” by supposing that the elders had expressed their sense of what he wished or that he afterwards reflected that actually visiting his house was unnecessary. It will be noticed that in Matthew, where the delegation is entirely unnoticed, nothing is said about requesting Jesus to go to the centurion’s house. 
for I am not worthy that thou shouldest enter under my roof. So saith Jacob of himself, Genesis 32:10; so Paul, 1 Corinthians 15:8-10; so the Baptist, Matthew ; so Augustine, Non sum dignus quem tu diligas, Domine, I am not worthy of thy love, Lord. 
WEB: Therefore I didn't even think myself worthy to come to you; but say the word, and my servant will be healed.
not even myself thought I worthy to come unto thee, but say in a word, and my
lad shall be healed;
Conte (RC): Because of this, I also did not consider myself worthy to come to you. But say the word, and my servant shall be healed.
7:7 Wherefore neither thought I myself worthy to come unto thee. Relationships between Jews and Gentiles could become skittish easily enough due to both cultural and religious differences. Much as it would be good to have Jesus come to look at the servant, He might hesitate to enter a Gentile’s home (consider Peter’s remark in Acts ). Hence, he seeks a way to obtain what is needed that will not reduce the chance of obtaining it. [rw]
but say in a word. The centurion had clearly heard how Jesus, by
His mere fiat, had healed the son of the “courtier” at
and my servant. Anxious, not like Jairus, for an only daughter (Mark ). Nor for a son, like the nobleman (John ). But [for] a slave. 
Yet he thought of him as if a son: The centurion here uses the more tender word, pais, “son.” 
shall be healed. He has not the least doubt that if Jesus wills it, so it will be. Even from a distance. [rw]
Weymouth: For I too am a man obedient to authority, and have soldiers under me; and I say to one, 'Go,' and he goes; to another, 'Come,' and he comes; and to my slave, 'Do this or that,' and he does it."
WEB: For I also am a man placed under authority, having under myself soldiers. I tell this one, 'Go!' and he goes; and to another, 'Come!' and he comes; and to my servant, 'Do this,' and he does it."
Young’s: for I also am a man placed under
authority, having under myself soldiers, and I say to this one, Go, and he goeth; and to another, Be coming, and he cometh; and to my
servant, Do this, and he doth it.'
Conte (RC): For I also am a man placed under authority, having soldiers under me. And I say to one, 'Go,' and he goes; and to another, 'Come,' and he comes; and to my servant, 'Do this,' and he does it."
7:8 For I also am a man set under authority, having under me soldiers. This assigns the reason why he made the request. He was but a subordinate himself, “under authority” of his chiliarch and other officers, and yet he had soldiers under him as well as a servant, who at a word executed his orders. He inferred that Jesus, who had the power of healing at a distance, had at His command thousands of the “Heavenly Army” (; Matthew 26:53), who would “at His bidding speed, / and post o’er land and ocean without rest.” 
and I say. Am accustomed to say, in the exercise of authority. 
unto one, Go, and he goeth; and to another, Come, and he cometh; and to my servant, Do this, and he doeth it. Implies active, energetic service in general. I am still, yet my wishes are perfectly and promptly performed by others. 
Note that he got similar full dedication out of both his military and civilian staffs. [rw]
Jesus heard these things, he marveled at him, and turned and said to the
multitude who followed him, "I tell you, I have not found such great
faith, no, not in
Young’s: And having heard these things Jesus
wondered at him, and having turned to the multitude following him, he said, 'I
say to you, not even in Israel so much faith did I find;'
Conte (RC): And upon hearing this, Jesus was amazed. And turning to the multitude following him, he said, "Amen I say to you, not even in
7:9 When Jesus heard these things, he marvelled at him. The only other place where the astonishment of Jesus is recorded is astonishment at unbelief (Mark 6:6). 
and turned Him about, and said unto the people that followed him. The centurion—though a Gentile—deserved praise and Jesus was quite willing to share it publicly and openly. Indeed, He provides a subtle (but surely intended) slap at the kind of excessive Jewish pride He encountered all too often: “I have never found this great a faith among those who are so proud of being God’s people—the place where I should have already encountered it, but have not!” [rw]
I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel. The excellency of the centurion’s faith seems to have lain in his persuasion of the ability of Jesus to do miracles of cure by a mere word of command. In previous cases, as in that of rebuking the fever of Peter’s mother-in-law, it had been necessary for Him to lay His hands on them or touch the blind eyes or the bound tongue and allow them to touch His garments. These were accommodations to weakness [of faith], to which this Gentile was entirely superior. 
These words are preserved with similar exactness in Matthew. Nothing can be more clear than that neither Evangelist had seen the narrative of the other, and, since Matthew is the less exact, we infer that both Evangelists in this instance drew from some cycle of oral or written apostolic teaching. The words added by Matthew (, 12) are given by Luke in another connexion ( sq.). 
Weymouth: And the friends who had been sent, on returning to the house, found the servant in perfect health.
WEB: Those who were sent, returning to the house, found that the servant who had been sick was well.
Young’s: and those sent, having turned back to the
house, found the ailing servant in health.
Conte (RC): And those who had been sent, upon returning to the house, found that the servant, who had been sick, was now healthy.
And they that were sent, returning to the house, found the servant whole that had been sick whole. In sound health. 
Rather, “convalescent,” a medical word which is found also in (and in a metaphorical sense in Titus ; 1 Timothy , 6:3; 2 Timothy , 4:3). 
The servant had been sick; now he was recuperating. Death and the disease were no longer a threat. [rw]
Weymouth: Shortly afterwards He went to a town called Nain, attended by His disciples and a great crowd of people.
WEB: It happened soon afterwards, that he went to a city called Nain. Many of his disciples, along with a great multitude, went with him.
Young’s: And it came to pass, on the morrow, he
was going on to a city called Nain, and there were
going with him many of his disciples, and a great multitude,
Conte (RC): And it happened afterwards that he went to a city, which is called Nain. And his disciples, and an abundant crowd, went with him.
And it came to pass the day after [many translations: soon afterward]. If we accept the common reading of the first verse of this narrative, the miracle which is to be our theme at this time was performed on "the day after" the healing of the centurion's slave at Capernaum; now, although Nain was twenty-five miles from that city, the Lord might easily make the journey between the two places in a single day. For, as Farrar has said, "Starting, as Orientals always do, early in the cool morning hours, Jesus in all probability sailed to the southern end of the lake, and then passed down the Jordan valley, to the spot there the wadies of the Esdraelon slope down to it; from which point, leaving Mount Tabor on the right hand, and Endor on the left, He might easily have arrived at the little village soon after noon." (Farrar's "Life of Christ," vol. i. p. 285.)
But if, with the Revisers, we adopt another reading, which in their judgment is better supported than the common one, and which differs from it only in one letter, we are under no necessity whatever to account for the rapidity of the Saviour's movement from the one place to the other, since the statement then becomes, "It came to pass soon after." 
that he went into a
city called Nain. The city was in
Jerome speak of the town as not far from Endor. Some have thought the reference is to a Nain in
and many of his disciples went with Him, and much people. More literally, “there were accompanying Him His disciples, in considerable numbers, and a large multitude.” In the first year of His ministry, before the deadly opposition to Him had gathered head, while as yet the Pharisees and leaders had not come to an open rupture with Him, and He had not sifted His followers by “hard sayings,” our Lord was usually accompanied by adoring crowds. 
Weymouth: And just as He reached the gate of the town, they happened to be bringing out for burial a dead man who was his mother's only son; and she was a widow; and a great number of the townspeople were with her.
WEB: Now when he drew near to the gate of the city, behold, one who was dead was carried out, the only son of his mother, and she was a widow. Many people of the city were with her.
Young’s: and as he came nigh to the gate of the
city, then, lo, one dead was being carried forth, an only son of his mother,
and she a widow, and a great multitude of the city was with her.
Conte (RC): Then, when he had drawn near to the gate of the city, behold, a deceased person was being carried out, the only son of his mother, and she was a widow. And a large crowd from the city was with her.
Now when He came nigh. All ordinary Jewish funerals are extramural. Nain is approached by a narrow rocky path, and it must have been at this spot that the two processions met. They were perhaps going to bury the dead youth in one of the rock-hewn sepulchers which are still visible on the hill side. 
to the gate of the city. Most towns and villages were walled for the sake of protection. 
was a dead man carried out. Dead bodies, being ceremonially unclean, were
not allowed to be buried within the cities (although the kings of David's house
were buried in the city of
the only son of his mother. The object of her fondest affections, and perhaps the support of her declining years. There is no one loss referred to in Scripture which is spoken of as so deep, severe and painful, as the loss of an only son. "Make thee mourning as for an only son, most bitter lamentations" (Jeremiah ). "They shall mourn for him as one mourneth for his only son" (Zechariah ). That the gracious Redeemer appreciated the bitterness of such grief is evident from the fact that of the three memorable instances in which He exerted His power over death and the grave, and released their captives, one was the case of an only brother, another an only daughter, and this an only son. 
and she was a widow. Losing a child is a hideous experience. Having no one left escalates the pain of loss to a hideous level. [rw]
and much people of the city were with her. Doubtless the large attendance was an expression of the respect and sympathy felt for the bereaved and deeply distressed mother. 
Compare the public
sympathy for the family of
Funeral rites were designed rather for the sake of the mourners than of the dead.  Comment: How else could it be? The dead already have their life record established and the book closed; nothing we can see will alter it in either a positive or negative direction. Hence the ritual becomes a formalized way of saying goodbye and to comfort the survivors since, for them, life goes on. And when one is like this widow, childless now as well, she needed all the comfort and reassurance she could be given [rw]
WEB: When the Lord saw her, he had compassion on her, and said to her, "Don't cry."
Young’s: And the Lord having seen her, was moved
with compassion towards her, and said to her, 'Be not weeping;'
Conte (RC): And when the Lord had seen her, being moved by mercy over her, he said to her, "Do not weep."
And when the Lord saw her, He had compassion on her. As we might expect, He did not wait for faith; her distress evoked His pity and pity moved Him to comfort. 
Jesus, who was always touched by the sight of human agony (Mark , ), seems to have felt a [special] compassion for the anguish of bereavement (John -37). The fact that this youth was “the only son of his mother and she was a widow” would convey to Jewish notions a deeper sorrow than it even does to ours, for their regarded childlessness as a special calamity, and the loss of offspring as a direct punishment for sin (Jeremiah 6:26; Zechariah 12:10; Amos 8:10). 
and said unto her, Weep not. Rather, “Be not weeping,” i.e., “dry thy tears.” 
These words were not prohibitory, but consolatory. How easy a word to use; how difficult to obey. 
WEB: He came near and touched the coffin, and the bearers stood still. He said, "Young man, I tell you, arise!"
Young’s: and having come near, he touched the
bier, and those bearing it stood still, and he said, 'Young man, to thee I say,
Conte (RC): And he drew near and touched the coffin. Then those who carried it stood still. And he said, "Young man, I say to you, arise."
And He came and touched the bier. Making Himself ceremonially unclean. Sympathy manifesting itself in word ("Weep not"), in deed ("touching the bier"), and in power ("Arise"). 
the bier. The
Jews did not use a coffin for their dead.
This belonged to
they that bear him stood still. His touch was with an air of authority which caused the bearers to stand still, though after the Jewish custom they were [certainly] going with quick step [to the burial site]. 
And he said, Young man, I say unto thee, Arise. The child of the widow of Sarepta (1 Kings -22), of the Shuuamite (2 Kings iv. 33, cf.), both recalled by prayer. The case of a man raised by touching Elisha's bones (2 Kings xiii. 21), was without any word. Jesus raised three persons to this mortal life by His word; this youth, Jairus' daughter, and Lazarus, and many bodies of the saints, by His death. Matt. xxvii. 52. St. Peter recalled Tabitha by prayer. Acts ix. 40. Our Lord's resurrection differs from all these. These men died again. He dies no more, but has everlasting life, such as His followers will have at the general resurrection. 
Arise. Probably the single monosyllable Kum! Compare 8:54; John 11:43; Acts 9:40. How unlike the passionate tentative struggles of Elijah (1 Kings ) and Elisha (2 Kings )! 
WEB: He who was dead sat up, and began to speak. And he gave him to his mother.
the dead sat up, and began to speak, and he gave him to his mother;
Conte (RC): And the dead youth sat up and began to speak. And he gave him to his mother.
And he that was dead sat up, and began to speak. Setting up, probably in puzzlement at what was going on; he was last alive on his bed and here he was in public, wrapped in—burial linens! We can only guess at what his first words were but, “What happened?” is unlikely to be far off base. [rw]
And He delivered him to his mother. Luke here hints at the Old Testament instance in 1 Kings 17:23 and 2 Kings 4:36, "Take thy son hence." 
WEB: Fear took hold of all, and they glorified God, saying, "A great prophet has arisen among us!" and, "God has visited his people!"
fear took hold of all, and they were glorifying God, saying -- 'A great prophet
hath risen among us,' and -- 'God did look upon His people.'
Conte (RC): Then fear fell over all of them. And they magnified God, saying: "For a great prophet has risen up among us," and, "For God has visited his people."
And there came a fear on all. An awe or solemnity at the presence of One who had power to raise the dead and at the miracle which had been performed. 
The natural effect of such a manifestation of supernatural power (compare 1:12; 2:9: 5:8-9). 
and they glorified God. Praised or honored God, that He had sent such a prophet. 
saying, That a great prophet is risen up among us. The expectation of the return of Elijah, Jeremiah, or “one of the Prophets” was at that time widely spread. See 9:8, 19. 
and, That God hath visited his people. Compare 1:68; John 3:2. 
report went out concerning him in the whole of
Young’s: And the account of this went forth in all
Conte (RC): And this word about him went out to all of
And this rumor [report, NKJV] of Him. Of His raising the dead. 
have scented a mistake in this mention of
WEB: The disciples of John told him about all these things.
Young’s: And the disciples of John told him about
all these things,
Conte (RC): And the disciples of John reported to him concerning all these things.
And the disciples of John shewed [reported to, NKJV] him. The Baptist was now in prison (Matthew 11:2-6), but was not precluded from intercourse [= dealings] with his friends. 
of all these things. i.e., he received a full report. This was probably for two reasons: (1) he would naturally wish to know all he could about events outside his prison and (2) John’s public words of praise at Jesus’ baptism would make Him an obvious topic of conversation. Even for disciples who had not heard of the baptismal remarks would be fascinated by what this other advocate of moral transformation was doing and advocating. [rw]
In depth: John's questions/doubts as reflecting second hand sources of information . In the course of John's imprisonment, it is probable that very many of his disciples became hearers of Jesus. During the early period, at all events, of the Baptist's captivity it is clear that his friends and disciples had free access to his prison. There is no doubt but that, in reply to the anxious inquiries of John, his disciples told him of all the miracles they had witnessed, and the words they had heard, especially, no doubt, recounting to him much of the sermon on the mount which Jesus had lately delivered as the exposition of his doctrine. We can well imagine these faithful but impatient disciples, after detailing these marvels which they had seen, and the strange new words of winning power which they had heard, saying to their imprisoned master. "We have seen and heard these no further; we hear nothing of the standard of King Messiah being raised, nothing of the high hope of the people being encouraged; he seems to pay no attention to the imperious rule of the foreigner, or the degrading tyranny of men like Antipas, the Herod who has wrongfully shut you up. He rather withdraws himself, and when the people, fired by his winning words and mighty acts, begin to grow enthusiastic, then this strange Man hides himself away. Can he be Messiah, as you once said?"
WEB: John, calling to himself two of his disciples, sent them to Jesus, saying, "Are you the one who is coming, or should we look for another?"
Young’s: and John having called near a certain two
of his disciples, sent unto Jesus, saying, 'Art thou he who is coming, or for
another do we look?'
Conte (RC): And John called two of his disciples, and he sent them to Jesus, saying, "Are you he who is to come, or should we wait for another?"
calling unto him two of his disciples sent them to Jesus. Thus showing his state to have been not unlike that of Paul at
saying, Art thou he that should come? or look we for another? [“Another:”] Greek, "one of a different sort." 
Or: Rather, “Art thou the coming [Messiah], or are we to expect another?” “The Coming (One)” is a technical Hebrew term for the Messiah (Habba) This brief remarkable message is identical with that in Matthew, except that Luke uses allon (“another”) and Matthew heteron (“a second,” or “different one”). Probably there is no significance in this variation, since the accurate classical meaning of heteros was partly obliterated. Probably too the messengers spoke in Aramaic. “The coming” is clearer in Matthew, because he has just told us that John heard in prison the works of “the Christ,” i.e., of the Messiah. 
Or: It is now better known that one first century Jewish opinion was that there would be two Messiahs sent by God. Even if one did not embrace this view personally, the knowledge of it would surely have been widespread among Messianic awaiters like those in the Baptist movement. Jesus not being quite what they expected, they might easily play with the possibility that there was, indeed, “another” one to come as well—without in any way intending to slight the importance of Jesus Himself. [rw]
In depth: Did John question Jesus to reassure his own disciples or to still his own wavering ? What, now, was in John the Baptist's mind, when from his prison he sent his disciples to ask Jesus this anxious question? Disappointed in the career of Jesus, possibly himself partly forgotten, accustomed to the wild freedom of a desert-life, suffering from the hopeless imprisonment,--had his faith begun to waver? or was the question put with a view of reassuring his own disciple's with the intention of giving these faithful followers of his an opportunity of convincing themselves of the power and real glory of Jesus? In other words, was it for his own sake or for his disciples' sakes that he sent to ask the question?
speaking, the second of these two conclusions--that which ascribed the question
to a desire on the part of John to help his disciples (which we will call
B)--was adopted by the expositors of the early Church. A good example of this school of
interpretation is the following quotation from
On the other hand, Tertullian among the Fathers, and nearly all the modern expositors, believe that the question [was] of [John’s own] faith--a faltering no doubt shared in by his own disciples. This conclusion (which we will term A) is adopted, with slightly varying modifications, by Meyer, Ewald, Neander, Godet, Plumptre, Farrar, and Morrison.
This way--(A) generally adopted by the modern school of expositors--of understanding the Baptist's question to Jesus, is evidently the conclusion which would suggest itself to all minds who went to the story without any preconceived desire to purge the character of a great saint from what they imagine to be a blot; and we shall presently see that our Lord, in his answer to the question, where a rebuke is exquisitely veiled in a beatitude, evidently understood the forerunner's question in this sense.
It is thus ever the practice of Holy Scripture; while it tenderly and lovingly handles the characters of its heroes, it never flinches from the truth. We see Elijah (John's own prototype) in the Old Testament, Peter and Paul in the New Testament, depicted in this book of truth with all their faults; nothing is hid. Only one flawless character appears in its storied pages--it is only the Master of Peter and Paul who never turns aside from the path of right.
Variants of the two basic alternatives and why it would have been quite natural for John to be frustrated and concerned . Those who are shocked with the notion that the faith of the Baptist should even for a moment have wavered, suppose that (1) John merely meant to suggest that surely the time had now come for the Messiah to reveal Himself as the Messiah, and that his question was one rather of “increasing impatience” than of “secret unbelief;” or (2) that the message was sent solely to reassure John’s own disciples; or (3) that as Matthew here uses the phrase “the works of the Messiah” and not “of Jesus,” the Baptist only meant to ask “Art thou the same person as the Jesus to whom I bore testimony?” These suppositions are excluded, not only by the tenor of the narrative but directly by verse 23 ([cf.] Matthew 11:6).
Nothing is more natural than that the Great Baptist—to whom had been granted but a partial revelation—should have felt deep anguish at the calm and noiseless advance of a Kingdom for which, in his theocratic and Messianic hopes, he had imagined a very different proclamation. Doubtless too his faith like that of Elijah (1 Kings 19:4), of Job in his trials (John 3:1), and of Jeremiah in prison (Jeremiah 20:7), might be for a moment drowned by the tragic briefness, and disastrous eclipse of his own career; and he might hope to alleviate by this message the anguish which he felt when he contrasted the joyous brightness of our Lord’s Galilean ministry with the unalleviated gloom of his own fortress-prison among the black rocks at Makhor. “If Jesus be indeed the promised Messiah,” he may have thought, “why am I, His Forerunner, suffered to languish undelivered—the victim of a wicked tyrant?” 
WEB: When the men had come to him, they said, "John the Baptizer has sent us to you, saying, 'Are you he who comes, or should we look for another?'"
Young’s: And having come near to
him, the men said, 'John the Baptist sent us unto thee, saying, Art thou he who
is coming, or for another do we look?'
Conte (RC): But when the men had come to him, they said: "John the Baptist has sent us to you, saying: 'Are you he who is to come, or should we wait for another?' "
When the men were come unto him, they said, John Baptist hath sent us unto thee, saying, Art thou he that should come? At once we notice that John has such confidence in Jesus that he is sure he can have from Him the clearing up of his perplexities. If the latter is not Himself the Messiah, He can explain what is yet to be looked for. John seeks His instruction.
Recall now that in our reflections on John’s work in chapter 3, we have seen that, as near as He came to Christ, he was far from the view of Him which Jesus distinctly presented of Himself in His first reported discourse, at Nazareth. The leading features of Him that was to come, are seen by the herald in quite other proportions from what the course of Jesus for now many months had realized. The unfruitful trees had not been cut down; the grain had not been winnowed from the chaff, nor was the unquenchable fire kindled to his view. He probably saw no tendency toward any of these results. Not one prominent element of the prevailing conception of the reign of the Messiah, could he recognize in the proceedings of Jesus. 
or look we for another? This may have meant only, “or not.” The whole meaning would thus be, “If Thou art not Messiah, thou art nothing; and we must simply wait until he comes.” But the words used suggest rather that John questioned, not whether Jesus was an eminent messenger from God, but only whether, as there were some who held that the forerunner would come in one character, some in another, there might not be two, and so Jesus only a second forerunner like himself. 
As noted previously, we now know
that there were those who suspected that there would be two Messiahs
coming. Hence John’s concerns could lay
not in whether Jesus was a second forerunner like John himself, but whether He
was only one of the two messianic figures that would be required to redeem
WEB: In that hour he cured many of diseases and plagues and evil spirits; and to many who were blind he gave sight.
Young’s: And in that hour he cured many from
sicknesses, and plagues, and evil spirits, and to many blind he granted sight.
Conte (RC): Now in that same hour, he cured many of their diseases and wounds and evil spirits; and to many of the blind, he gave sight.
And in that same hour He cured many of their infirmities and plagues [afflictions, NKJV], and of evil spirits; and unto many that were blind He gave sight. Having heard their question (verse 20) He proceeds to ignore it for the next hour or so as He proceeds to heal on the spot and before their eyes miracles of a varied sort. Even then, He does not directly answer their question (verse 23) but gives them the implicit challenge: Answer your question yourself--on the basis of what you see. CAN there be any answer but one? [rw]
WEB: Jesus answered them, "Go and tell John the things which you have seen and heard: that the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have good news preached to them.
Young’s: And Jesus answering said to them, 'Having
gone on, report to John what ye saw and heard, that blind men do see again,
lame do walk, lepers are cleansed, deaf do hear, dead are raised, poor have
good news proclaimed;
Conte (RC): And responding, he said to them: "Go and report to John what you have heard and seen: that the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead rise again, the poor are evangelized.
Then Jesus answering said unto them, Go your way, and tell John what things ye have seen and heard. Thus He gave to John, through His disciples, to see the powers ascribed in prophecy to the Christ fully operative in Him. Taking advantage of the presence of a “great multitude” (verse 11), among whom would be, according to all experience, a number desirous to be healed of their maladies, the Lord varied and multiplied His benefits to such, in a way which could not fail to suggest to John the prophetic descriptions of Messianic blessings. (Compare Isaiah 29:18; 35:5, 6; 60:1-3). 
how that the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised. Not just one kind of miracle but no less than five types are mentioned. Jesus’ challenge to John is: What conclusion can this possibly lead to? I won’t give you the answer, but I will give you the evidence for you to decide upon. [rw]
to the poor the gospel is preached. This was a sign of Messiah's time (Isa. xxix. 19). Contempt for the poor seems to have been very common in the times of the Gospel (John vii. 49; ix. 34 and James ii. 24). Concern and tender interest about the poor was a distinguishing feature of our Lord's ministry and that of His Apostles. Then, as ever since, the poor of the world have been more disposed than other men to hear and embrace the Gospel. 
WEB: Blessed is he who is not offended by me."
Young’s: and happy is he whoever may not be
stumbled in me.'
Conte (RC): And blessed is anyone who has not taken offense at me."
And blessed is he. “One wishes good fortune and Divine blessings: then accept Me as I was intended by God to be. Don’t demand that I fit your image of the Messiah for I must always fit that of the Father who sent me.” [rw]
whosoever shall not be offended in me. For instances of the stumbling-block which some made for themselves of incidents in our Lord’s career, see Matthew -57, ; John 6:60, 66; and compare Isaiah , 15; 1 Corinthians , ; 1 Peter 2:7, 8. The word skandalon means anything over which a person falls (e.g. a stone in the road) or on which he treads and is thrown. 
WEB: When John's messengers had departed, he began to tell the multitudes about John, "What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken by the wind?
Young’s: And the messengers of John having gone
away, he began to say unto the multitudes concerning John: 'What have ye gone
forth to the wilderness to look on? a reed by the wind
Conte (RC): And when the messengers of John had withdrawn, he began to speak about John to the crowds. "What did you go out to the desert to see? A reed shaken by the wind?
And when the messengers of John were departed, He began to speak unto the people concerning John. Since He had no desire to undermine the prestige or reputation of John, He immediately took the opportunity to stress to His own disciples how important John was in God’s scheme of things. [rw]
reed shaken with the wind? A reed rises to the thought as
one of the features of the vicinity of the
John was not like the reeds which they had seen waving in the wind on the banks of Jordan, but rather, as Lange says, “a cedar half uprooted by the storm.”  In other words: Don’t dismiss him or think less of him because of anything you’ve just heard. [rw]
WEB: But what did you go out to see? A man clothed in soft clothing? Behold, those who are gorgeously dressed, and live delicately, are in kings' courts.
Young’s: but what have ye gone forth to see? a man in soft garments clothed? lo,
they in splendid apparellings, and living in luxury,
are in the houses of kings!
Conte (RC): Then what did you go out to see? A man clothed in soft garments? Behold, those who are in costly apparel and finery are in the houses of kings.
But what went ye out for to see? A man clothed in soft raiment? A contrast to the camel’s hair mantle and leathern girdle of the Baptist (Matthew 3:4). 
Behold, they which are gorgeously apparelled, and live delicately [in luxury, NKJV]. The Herods were specially given both to ostentation in dress (Acts ) and to luxury, Mark ; Joseph, Wars of the Jews i. 20, 2; Antiquities 8, 2; 18, 7. 
are in kings' courts. In the palaces. Such were the false prophets in the courts of the kings of old. You did not find the hermit preacher in such places. 
Such as the palace of the Herods which
they had seen at Tiberias,
WEB: But what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and much more than a prophet.
Young’s: 'But what have ye gone forth to see? a prophet? Yes, I say to you, and much more than a prophet:
Conte (RC): Then what did you go out to see? A prophet? Certainly, I tell you, and more than a prophet.
But what went ye out for to see? Jesus reminds them of why they had paid such attention to John. What was true then was true now as well—he stood before sinful mankind as a prophet pointing to reconciliation with God. Yet calling him a prophet hardly did full justice to just how important he was in the Divine scheme of things. [rw]
a prophet? The popular conception of a prophet is limited to his foretelling future events. This is indeed included in the term, but does not cover its meaning entirely. The word is from [Greek], to speak, and [Greek], before, in front of. This meaning of the preposition may have reference to time, viz., before, beforehand; or to place, viz., in front of, into that of in behalf of; for. The prophet is, therefore, primarily, one who speaks standing before another, and thus forming a medium between him and the hearer. This sense runs naturally into that of instead of. Hence it is the technical term for the interpreter of a divine message. So Plato: "For this reason it is customary to appoint diviners or interpreters to be judges of the true inspiration. Some persons call them diviners, seers; they do not know that they are only repeaters of dark sayings and visions, and are not to be called diviners at all, but interpreters of things divine" ("Timaeus," 72). Similarly of an advocate to speak for, or instead of one. The central idea of the word is, one to whom God reveals himself and through whom he speaks. The revelation may or may not relate to the future. The prophet is a forth-teller, not necessarily a foreteller. The essence of the prophetic character is immediate intercourse with God. One of the Hebrew names for "prophet," and, as some maintain, the earlier name, signified a shewer or seer. See 1 Sam. ix. 10; and in 1 Cor. xiv. 26-30, Paul shows that revelation stands in necessary connection with prophesying. 
Yea, I say unto you, and much more than a prophet. Namely, an actual personal herald and forerunner; the Angel or Messenger of Malachi 3:1, and so the only Prophet who had himself been announced by Prophecy. 
WEB: This is he of whom it is written, 'Behold, I send my messenger before your face, who will prepare your way before you.'
Young’s: this is he concerning whom it hath been
written, Lo, I send my messenger before thy face, who shall prepare thy way
Conte (RC): This is he of whom it is written: "Behold, I send my Angel before your face, who shall prepare your way before you."
This is he, of whom it is written. i.e., John is not just important because of what I think of him or what you think of him, but because his work and mission was predicted centuries ahead of time. His ministry has been that important in God’s sight. [rw]
Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee. Jesus here refers to John the same prophecy in which His work had been foretold by the angel to Zacharias () and by Zacharias himself in his prophetic psalm (1:76). 
Compare 1:76; Mark 1:2. In the parallel passage of Matthew our Lord adds that the Baptist is the promised Elias: Matthew , 14, -13; Luke (Malachi 4:5). The quotation is from Malachi 3:1, “Behold, I will send My messenger, and he shall prepare the way before Me.” The words are varied because, in the original, God is speaking in His own person, and here the words are applied to Christ. 
I tell you, among those who are born of women there is not a greater prophet
than John the Baptizer, yet he who is least in the
Young’s: for I say to you, a greater prophet,
among those born of women, than John the Baptist there is not; but the least in
the reign of God is greater than he.'
Conte (RC): For I say to you, among those born of women, no one is greater than the prophet John the Baptist. But he who is least in the
For I say unto you. He thus demands the solemn attention of those listening. 
Among those that are born of women. An idiomatic phase, meaning all mankind. 
there is not a greater prophet. As forerunner of Christ. Being herald of the Sun of Righteousness elevated him to an eminence unsurpassed by the most distinguished of his predecessors. 
“He was the lamp, kindled and burning,” John . 
than John the Baptist. Greek, "Baptizer." His [special] work as our Lord's forerunner. 
but he that is
least in the
The simple meaning of these words seems to be that in blessings and privileges, in knowledge, in revealed hope, in conscious admission into fellowship with God, the humblest child of the new kingdom is superior to the greatest prophet of the old. In the old dispensation “the Holy Ghost was not yet given, because that Jesus was not yet glorified,” John . Of those “born of women” there was no greater prophet that John the Baptist, but the members of Christ’s Church are “born of water and of the Spirit.” This saying of our Lord has seemed so strange that attempts have been made to give another tone to the meaning by interpreting “he that is last” to mean “the younger,” and explain it to mean our Lord Himself as “coming after” the Baptist. 
Weymouth: And all the people, including the tax-gatherers, when they listened to him upheld the righteousness of God, by being baptized with John's baptism.
WEB: When all the people and the tax collectors heard this, they declared God to be just, having been baptized with John's baptism.
Young’s: And all the people having heard, and the
tax-gatherers, declared God righteous, having been baptized with the baptism of
Conte (RC): And upon hearing this, all the people and the tax collectors justified God, by being baptized with the baptism of John.
And all the people that heard him. The common people. 
Free from the ambitions and prejudices of the wealthy, proud, and respectable, [they] felt their need of repentance. 
This is a continuation of Chtist’s discourse—not, as some have understood it, an interpolation of a bit of the history of Luke. 
and the publicans. The tax-gatherers, the worst kind of people, who had however been converted. 
justified God. By acknowledging the rightfulness of His claim upon them, and were baptized as a declaration of their renewedness of mind, and pledge of life consistent with such a declaration. By owning themselves sinners and honoring His way for their obtaining pardon. 
1650s: i.e. They glorified his word, Acts 13:48, and acknowledged His righteousness, repenting of their sins, and believing John’s and Christ’s testimony, which the Pharisees so rejected, and so deservedly perished. For as wine, a strong remedy against hemlock, yet mingled with it doubleth the force of the poison; so it is with the word when mingled with unbelief, and cast away with contempt. 
being baptized with the baptism of John. They showed that they approved of the message of God by submitting to the ordinance which he commanded, the ordinance of baptism 
WEB: But the Pharisees and the lawyers rejected the counsel of God, not being baptized by him themselves.
Young’s: but the Pharisees, and the lawyers, the
counsel of God did put away for themselves, not having been baptized by him.
Conte (RC): But the Pharisees and the experts in the law despised the counsel of God concerning themselves, by not being baptized by him.
But the Pharisees and lawyers rejected the counsel of God. It appears from Matthew 3:7 that some of the Pharisees came to John to be baptized; but still this is entirely consent with the supposition that the great mass of Pharisees and lawyers rejected him. 
lawyers. Not legal practitioners, but interpreters and doctors of the Mosaic law. 
rejected. Now the word 'rejected' would be more adequately rendered 'frustrated,' thwarted, made void, or some such expression, as indeed it is employed in other places of Scripture, where it is translated 'disannulled,' 'made void,' and the like. And if we take that meaning, there emerge from this great word of the Master's two thoughts, that to disbelieve God's word is to thwart God's purpose, and that to thwart His purpose is to harm ourselves. 
the counsel of God against themselves. The "counsel of God" towards them was the solemn admonition by John to repent and to be baptized and be prepared to receive the Messiah. This was the command or revealed will of God in relation to them. 
against themselves. i.e., nullified (Galatians ; Proverbs ) the purpose of God, to their own ruin, or better, “with reference to themselves.” The “purpose of God” (Acts ) had been their salvation (1 Timothy 2:4). 
To their own hurt or detriment. The rejection of the counsel of God will deeply injure them. God is wise and good. He knows what is best for us. He, therefore, that rejects what God commands, rejects it to his own injury. 
being not baptized of him. The test of whether they accepted the message John preached was whether they were willing to accept a baptism of repentance, carrying with it the obligation to change their lifestyle and behavior where it was repugnant to God. [rw]
WEB: "To what then will I liken the people of this generation? What are they like?
Young’s: And the Lord said, 'To what, then, shall
I liken the men of this generation? and to what are
Conte (RC): Then the Lord said: "Therefore, to what shall I compare the men of this generation? And to what are they similar?
And the Lord said, Whereunto then shall I liken the men of this generation? and to what are they like? Our Lord seems more than once to have used this formula to arrest attention for His parables. Mark . 
He challenges the listeners to come up with their own illustration of their folly and then suggests His own. In doing so there is the implicit warning to them that if they act in a similar manner, they too will be similarly foolhardy. He knows where He is going even before giving His own answer. [rw]
Or: He studies as He speaks, inquiring of Himself what comparison might truly set forth their strange conduct. In a moment it comes to Him. 
Weymouth: They are like children sitting in the public square and calling out to one another, 'We have played the flute to you, and you have not danced: we have sung dirges, and you have not shown sorrow.'
WEB: They are like children who sit in the marketplace, and call one to another, saying, 'We piped to you, and you didn't dance. We mourned, and you didn't weep.'
Young’s: they are like to children, to those
sitting in a market-place, and calling one to another, and saying, We piped to
you, and ye did not dance, we mourned to you, and ye did not weep!
Conte (RC): They are like children sitting in the marketplace, talking with one another, and saying: 'We sang to you, and you did not dance. We lamented, and you did not weep.'
They are like unto children. He recalls a childish sport which He must have watched often with interest, and had probably shared in Himself, when He gathered with His mates in the square, equivalent to the “market place” of the towns. The details would be familiar to His hearers. 
sitting in the marketplace, and calling one to another, and saying, We have piped unto you, and ye have not danced; we have mourned to you, and ye have not wept. It seems that they had reduced to something like a definite game, plays which in a less regular way have amused young children in every country and time—“playing wedding” and “funeral.” The Savior refers to a case where they had divided into two sections, one to give the music and direct the movements, the other to carry out the play; but when the first proposed the “wedding,” the others would not have that, and yet peevishly refused to join in playing “funeral” also. 
In depth: Deciding the roles John and Jesus play in the illustration . These speakers seem intended to represent John and Christ, as endeavoring in different tempers and ways, to induce their countrymen to embrace God’s word; the immovable and impenitent nation are the other section who hang back, and consent, as a whole, to the invitation of neither herald. It is objected to this, the common explanation, that it makes Jesus and John a part of that generation, inappropriately.
Hence Mayer supposes the speakers here to stand for the Jewish people; and those addressed, for John and Jesus Christ. But surely it is those addressed who are to blame. And when did the people ever manifest any desire to win over their teachers?
Godet curiously makes the two sets of children represent John and his adherents on the one side, and Jesus with His disciples on the other, who mutually complain that their leading is not followed, while yet he would have the fault lie with “the moral insensibility and carping spirit in Israel,” whereby the opposite teachings are paralyzed. This, at least is what we make out of the translation, not having the original at hand.
We might understand it as if John and Jesus with their disciples, in one group, were reckoned as belonging to that generation. But there is no need of stickling for the letter of the simile, more than in many other parables, e.g., that of the Sower.
Understand the Saviour as saying, “The case with this generation in their relation to me is like that of children playing—one part faithfully trying to promote the pleasure of all, the other (strictly, that which represents the men of this generation) captious, sullen, responding to no kind of proposal that is made for their recreation.” That the generation should be likened to a set of children, and then identified with only a portion of them, is not unlike the comparison of the kingdom of heaven to a sower sowing seed on various soils, and afterward confining the similitude to the seed, the soil, and the crop. The one point to be illustrated as the refusal of the Jews to enter the kingdom, as urged either by the ascetic and rigorous demands of John, or by the gentle and more urbane invitations of Christ.
[Furthermore note the words in the next verse,] “Ye say, He hath a devil;” “it is the devil’s message, not God’s.” This is not the language of those who are piping cheerfully to John, and wishing that he would more fitly present the cause of the Lord, as Meyer’s view of the Saviour’s simile supposes, in which view Lange and Van Oosterzee unite. It is the language of hatred, scorn, rejection.
Arriving at much the same final solution : The difficulties and differences of explanation found in this simple parable are only due to a needless literalness. If indeed we take the language quite literally, “this generation” is compared with the dancing and mourning children who complain of the sullenness of their fellows; and if this be insisted on, the meaning must be that the Jews complained of John for holding aloof from their mirth, and of Jesus for discountenancing their austerities. But it is the children who are looking on who are blamed, not the playing children, as is clearly shewn by the “and ye say” of verses 33, 34. In the explanation here preferred our Lord and the Baptist are included in this generation, and the comparison (such as in the Homeric similies) is taken as a whole to illustrate the mutual relations between them and their contemporaries. So in Matthew 13:24, “The kingdom of heaven is like unto a sower, &c,” where the comparison is more to the reception of the seed.
Weymouth: For John the Baptist has come eating no bread and drinking no wine, and you say, 'He has a demon!'
WEB: For John the Baptizer came neither eating bread nor drinking wine, and you say, 'He has a demon.'
Young’s: 'For John the Baptist came neither eating
bread nor drinking wine, and ye say, He hath a demon;
Conte (RC): For John the Baptist came, neither eating bread nor drinking wine, and you say, 'He has a demon.'
For John the Baptist came neither eating bread. Bread is an artificial product, but John used whatever food fell in his way. 
nor drinking wine. Luke 1:15. The ordinary table-drink, then and now [mid-nineteenth century], in the East. Simply implies, he denies himself comforts everybody shared. 
“His meat was locusts and wild honey,” Matthew 3:4. Being a Nazarite he drank no wine, ; see 2 Esdras 9:24. 
and ye say. The same set of people are complaining about both John the Baptist and Jesus. They are simply people who find it impossible to accept any authority but something they themselves have originated or which furthers their personal interests. [rw]
He hath a devil. Was under the unconscious influence of a demon. An enthusiast, fanatic, or spirit-struck mind. Not a charge of demonical assistance in pursuing such a life, but of demonical perverseness in adopting it. The Bible clearly distinguishes between madness and possession (John ). 
This in fact was their coarse way of describing any peculiarity or exaltation which struck them as strange. At a later period they said the same of Christ, John , . 
Weymouth: The Son of Man has come eating and drinking, and you say, 'Look, there is a man who is overfond of eating and drinking--he is a friend of tax-gatherers and notorious sinners!'
WEB: The 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!'
Young’s: the Son of Man came eating and drinking,
and ye say, Lo, a man, a glutton, and a wine drinker, a friend of tax-gatherers
Conte (RC): The Son of man came, eating and drinking, and you say, 'Behold, a voracious man and a drinker of wine, a friend of tax collectors and of sinners.'
The title [“Son of Man”] explains the reason of our Lord’s practice. He came as the Son of man, and therefore He came to shew that the common life of all men could be lived with perfect holiness, and that seclusion and asceticism were not necessary as universal conditions. 
is come eating and drinking. The feast at Levi's house, the wedding at Cana, the meal at the house of Simon the Pharisee (Luke 7:30-50), the dinner given by Simon the leper (Mark 14:3-9) and the banquet by one of the chief Pharisees (Luke 14:1-5) show that Christ was no ascetic like John. He did not attend these feasts, however, merely for pleasure. They were opportunities for self-revelation and helpfulness to others. 
Those who think that the highest perfection consists in outward austerity of life, and who pronounce it to be an angelical life when a person is abstemious, or mortifies himself by fasting, ought to attend to this passage. On this principle John would rank higher than the Son of God; but, on the contrary, we ought to maintain, that bodily exercise profiteth little, but godliness is profitable to all things, (Tim. iv. 8). 
and ye say, Behold a gluttonous man, and a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners! It doesn’t really matter how a moral reformer faced these people or how he behaved: Unless he confirmed them in their rejection of God’s will, an excuse would be found to dismiss him. Because Jesus enjoyed a good meal what else could that mean than He was gluttonous! And everyone “knew” that “a friend of publicans and sinners” was unquestionably endorsing their sin! Thus no wrestling with Jesus’ teaching was required. It could all be cavalierly dismissed. [rw]
WEB: Wisdom is justified by all her children."
Young’s: and the wisdom was justified from all her
Conte (RC): But wisdom is justified by all her children."
But. Literally, “And,” but the Greek kai often has the force of “and yet.” 
wisdom. The personification of God’s wisdom was common in the later Jewish literature, as in the Book of Wisdom. It is also found in the Old Testament (Proverbs , [chapter] 9, etc.). 
is justified of all her children. Vindicated, approved, pronounced right or praised. 
In more detail: Rather, “was justified by,” i.e., has from the first been acquitted of all wrong and error, receives the witness of being just, at the hands of all her children. The “children of wisdom” generally (Proverbs 2:1, 3:1, etc.) are those who obey God, and here are those of that generation who accepted the baptism of John and the ministry of Jesus, without making a stumbling-block of their different methods. The Jews, like the petulant children, refused to sympathize either with John or Jesus—the one they condemned for exaggerated strictness, the other for dangerous laxity: yet the Wise—Wisdom’s true children—once for all declare that she is righteous, and free from blame: for they know that wisdom is polupoikilos, “richly-variegated,” “of many colours,” Ephesians 3:10. The world’s wisdom was foolishness; those whom the world called fools were divinely wise, John 3:33. Wisdom is thus justified by her children both actively and passively; they declare her to be just and holy, and the world ultimately sees that her guidance as exemplified by their lives is the best guidance (Wisdom 5:5, 4; Psalms li. 4; Romans 3:4). 
WEB: One of the Pharisees invited him to eat with him. He entered into the Pharisee's house, and sat at the table.
Young’s: And a certain one of the Pharisees was
asking him that he might eat with him, and having gone into the house of the
Pharisee he reclined (at meat),
Conte (RC): Then certain Pharisees petitioned him, so that they might eat with him. And he went into the house of the Pharisee, and he reclined at table.
And one of the Pharisees. His name was Simon (verse 40). It is not improbable, however, from what follows (verses 40-47), that he had been healed by the Savior of some afflictive disease and made this feast to show his gratitude. 
[Assuming this occurred at an earlier point in the ministry and is placed here by Luke:] This incident belongs, chronologically, to a period when the attitude of the Pharisees had not yet become so flagrantly hostile to the Lord as to prevent some friendly intercourse between them. Nor, indeed, need we suppose that even later every one bearing the name of Pharisee was so inflamed with their characteristic hatred of Jesus as personally to wish Him harm, or to destroy hope in the latter of some benefit to the Pharisee. 
The hostile intent interpretation: The invitation was clearly due to a patronizing curiosity, if not to a worse and hostile motive. The whole manner of the Pharisee to Jesus was like his invitation, ungracious. But it was part of our Lord’s mission freely to accept the proffered hospitality of all, that He might reach every class. 
desired him that he would eat with him. Requested Him to do so, apparently personally. [rw]
And he went into the Pharisee's house, and sat down. The original word here means only that he placed Himself, or reclined, at the table. The notion of sitting at meals is taken from modern customs and was not practiced by the Jews. 
The custom among Greeks, Romans, and Orientals, in Christ’s day, was to recline at table, leaning on the left elbow, extended at full length on a broad couch or settee, with the face toward the table, and the feet sloping backward, across the couch, so as to be easily reached by one approaching from the rear. 
The change of eating customs among Jews over the
centuries: The old method of
the Jews had been that of the East in general, to sit at table (anapiptein, 11:37; anakeisthai,
7:37; anaklinesthai, 12:37) generally
cross-legged on the floor, or on divans (Genesis 27:19; 1 Samuel 20:5, 18;
Psalms cxxviii. 3; Canticles 1:12, etc.). They had borrowed the custom of reclining on
couches from the Persians (Esther 1:6, 7:8), the Greeks and Romans, after the
Exile (Tobit 2:1; 1 Esdras ; Judith ). The influence of the Greeks
had been felt in the nation for three hundred years,
and that of the Romans for nearly a hundred years, since the conquest of
to meat [to eat, NKJV]. Food of any kind. 
WEB: Behold, a woman in the city who was a sinner, when she knew that he was reclining in the Pharisee's house, she brought an alabaster jar of ointment.
Young’s: and lo, a woman in the city, who was a
sinner, having known that he reclineth (at meat) in
the house of the Pharisee, having provided an alabaster box of ointment,
Conte (RC): And behold, a woman who was in the city, a sinner, found out that he was reclining at table in the house of the Pharisee, so she brought an alabaster container of ointment.
And behold, a woman. She had not of course received permission to enter, but the prominence of hospitality as the chief of Eastern virtues led to all houses being left open, so that during a meal any one who wished could enter and look on. “To sit down to eat with common people” was one of the six things which no Rabbi or Pupil of the Wise might do; another was “to speak with a woman.” Our Lord freely did both. 
in the city. What city is meant is unknown. Some have supposed it was Nain;
which was a sinner. Who was depraved or wicked. Perhaps an abandoned woman or a prostitute. 
There is thus brought before us a woman who was known in the city as being, in the worst sense, “a sinner.” That she could approach the table in a respectable house, especially the house of a scrupulous Pharisee, is to be explained only from the freedom, elsewhere brought to view in the Gospels, with which people went in and out of the abodes of their neighbors, and observed what was taking place in them. The same custom frequently surprises and annoys travelers in the East at the present day [late 1800s]. 
Argument that she was a Gentile: Dr. Clarke holds, correctly we think, that the word "sinner," here and often elsewhere, signifies "heathen" or "Gentile." The decisive proof-text for this then customary meaning of the word is Galatians 2:15, where it was held ritually unclean to eat with "sinners," namely, "of the Gentiles." The phrase "publicans and sinners" requires this meaning; otherwise the phrase is a solecism; for the publicans themselves were a class of sinners in the common sense of that term. See Mark 2:15-17; 14:41; Luke 15:1-2, 7, 10; 19:7; John 9:31. 
when she knew that Jesus sat at meat in the Pharisee's house. Note the “when:” This was not originally part of her plans, but when the opportunity arose to honor Jesus face to face she proceeded to grab it—no matter what the hostile Pharisees or others might think of it. [rw]
brought an alabaster box of ointment. It was much in vogue at that time among all more civilized peoples, as promotive of health, and pleasant to the senses of sight and smell, and so an indispensable accompaniment or banquets and all festive occasions. It was used on the hair and face in great profusion, compared with anything familiar now, and probably, with a much greater outlay of expense. 
Or: This was doubtless one of the implements of her guilty condition (Proverbs ; Isaiah ), and her willingness to sacrifice it was a sign of her sincere repentance (compare Canticles ). 
Weymouth: and, standing behind close to His feet, weeping, began to wet His feet with her tears; and with her hair she wiped the tears away again, while she lovingly kissed His feet and poured the perfume over them.
WEB: Standing behind at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears, and she wiped them with the hair of her head, kissed his feet, and anointed them with the ointment.
Young’s: and having stood behind, beside his feet,
weeping, she began to wet his feet with the tears, and with the hairs of her
head she was wiping, and was kissing his feet, and was anointing with the
Conte (RC): And standing behind him, beside his feet, she began to wash his feet with tears, and she wiped them with the hair of her head, and she kissed his feet, and she anointed them with ointment.
And stood at his feet behind Him. They reclined, at their meals, on their left side; and their feet, therefore, were extended from the table so that persons could easily approach them. 
More detail: This is explained by the arrangement of the triclinia, by which the guest reposed on his elbow at the table, with his unsandaled feet outstretched on the couch. Each guest left his sandals beside the door on entering. Literally the verse is, “And standing behind beside His feet weeping, with her tears she began to bedew His feet, and with the hairs of her head she wiped them off, and was eagerly kissing His feet, and anointing them with the perfume.” As she bent over His feet her tears began to fall on them, perhaps accidentally at first, and she wiped them off with the long disheveled hair (1 Corinthians 11:15) which shewed her shame and anguish, and then in her joy and gratitude at finding herself unrepulsed, she poured the unguent over them. No one but a woman in the very depths of anguish would have violated all custom by appearing in public with uncovered head (1 Corinthians ). 
weeping. From sorrow on account of her sinful life; partly, also, with thankfulness and complacency toward Him who had led her to amendment, and opened to her a prospect of peace and hope. 
Doubtless at the contrast of His sinlessness and her own stained life. She could not have done thus to the Pharisee, who would have repelled her with execration as bringing pollution by her touch. The deepest sympathy is caused by the most perfect sinlessness. It is not impossible that on that very day she may have heard the “Come unto me” of Matthew 11:28. 
and began to wash his feet with tears and did wipe them with the hairs of her head. “Wash” is not warranted by the Greek, but “wet” or “moisten.” This may have been unintentional, although it was, more probably, an act symbolic of the most humble devotion to his service. Washing another’s feet was performing a menial office, and would be voluntarily undertaken only as a sign of affectionate regard. The same sentiment was further expressed by her next act, “and did wipe them with the hairs of her head, and kissed his feet.” 
and kissed His feet. The kiss was an emblem of love and affection. 
The verb is a compound in the Greek, denoting special tenderness of regard, and the tense of this and the following verb shows that the actions were continued and repeated, as though she could not desist. 
and anointed them with the ointment. The ointment, which she would not venture near to pour on the head, as was usual, she lavished, as a treasure of respect, on her Saviour’s feet. It was a very unusual, and to the Pharisee, we may suppose, an astounding, a horrifying scene. 
In depth: How many times was Jesus anointed by women ? Much importance is to be attached by the careful reader to the fact, that this woman washed the feet of our Saviour: for this circumstance identifies her, it would appear, with Mary the sister of Lazarus (S. John xi. 2); who is again brought before our notice, as performing a like office of dutiful service to her Redeemer, shortly before His sufferings (S. John xii. 3).
Distinct from her is the woman, who in the house of Simon the leper poured ointment upon the head of our Lord, but did not anoint His feet, as Mary did. Her act is recorded by S. Matthew (xxvi. 6), and S. Mark (xiv. 3), while S. Luke and S. John commemorate the above mentioned acts of Mary; the first, done in the depth of her repentance; the last, in the growing confidence of her justification and pardon. S. Augustine and S. Chrysostom agree in the opinion, that there were only two different women, who thus testified their devout feelings towards our Lord; and the supposition that Mary Magdalene was one of these rests on no better ground, than a vague tradition.—J. Ford.
WEB: Now when the Pharisee who had invited him saw it, he said to himself, "This man, if he were a prophet, would have perceived who and what kind of woman this is who touches him, that she is a sinner."
Young’s: And the Pharisee who did call him, having
seen, spake within himself, saying, 'This one, if he
were a prophet, would have known who and of what kind is the woman who doth
touch him, that she is a sinner.'
Conte (RC): Then the Pharisee, who had invited him, upon seeing this, spoke within himself, saying, "This man, if he were a prophet, would certainly know who and what kind of woman is this, who is touching him: that she is a sinner."
Now when the Pharisee who had bidden him. Who had formed no definite opinion of our Lord, and invited Him apparently to obtain materials for a judgement. 
saw it, he spake with himself. [i.e.,] Thought. 
This man. The word in the original expresses the supercilious scorn which is discernible in the bearing of the speaker. 
if he were a prophet, would have known. The Jews believed that discerning of spirits
was one of the marks of a true prophet and eminently of the Messiah (from
Isaiah 9:3-4). See 1 Kings 14:6; 2 Kings
1:3 and . It was by this means that Nathaniel and the
who and what manner of woman this is that toucheth him. Rather, “who is clinging to him.” Simon makes a double assumption—first that a prophet would have known the character of the woman, and next that he would certainly have repelled her. The bearing and tone of the Rabbis towards women closely resembled that of some mediaeval monks. They said that no one should stand nearer them than four cubits. But Jesus knew more of the woman than Simon did, and was glad that she should shed on His feet the tears of penitence. A great prophet had declared long before that those which say “Stand by thyself, come not near to me, for I am holier than thou,” were “a smoke in my nose.” Isaiah lxv. 5. 
for she is a sinner. The concept of her willingness to change her life is clearly alien to his frame of mind. Indeed, could anything she did convince such a hostile mind that it could occur? [rw]
WEB: Jesus answered him, "Simon, I have something to tell you." He said, "Teacher, say on."
Young’s: And Jesus answering said unto him,
'Simon, I have something to say to thee;' and he saith,
'Teacher, say on.'
Conte (RC): And in response, Jesus said to him, "Simon, I have something to say to you." So he said, "Speak, Teacher."
And Jesus answering said unto him. Answering the unspoken thought of his heart. 
“He heard the Pharisee
Simon. A name very common among the Jews, originating in the Hebrew for Simeon, slightly changed to assimilate it to a familiar Greek proper name. 
This is one of the rare cases where we actually have the name of His critics. [rw]
I have somewhat to say unto thee. The emphasis is on these [last two] words, You have been thinking of Me: I have something to say to thee. 
Others present might well be thinking the same thing as Simon, but Jesus singles out His host to answer all through answering the one who had invited him to dinner. [rw]
And he saith, Master, say on. He can’t imagine Jesus is a prophet (verse 39), so he is more than curious what He will say to “wiggle Himself” out of this self-created discrediting. [rw]
In depth: Attempting to identify which Simon is being talked about .
This exquisite narrative is
peculiar [= unique] to Luke, and well illustrates that conception of the
universality and free gift of grace which predominates in his Gospel as in
Paul. To identify this Simon with Simon
the Leper in Mark 14:3 is quite arbitrary.
It was one of the commonest Jewish names. There were two Simons among the Twelve, and
there are nine Simons mentioned in the New Testament alone, and twenty
in Josephus. There must therefore have
been thousands of Simons in
incident itself was one which might have happened frequently, being in
close accordance with the customs of the time and country. And with the uncritical attempt to identify
Simon the Pharisee with Simon the Leper, there also falls to the ground the
utterly improbable identification of the woman who was a sinner with Mary of
WEB: "A certain lender had two debtors. The one owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty.
Young’s: 'Two debtors were to a certain creditor;
the one was owing five hundred denaries, and the
Conte (RC): "A certain creditor had two debtors: one owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty.
There was a certain creditor. A man who had lent money or sold property, the payment for which was yet done. 
which had two debtors. The one representing the guilty woman, the other the Pharisee, in their relation to God. 
the one owed five hundred pence, and the other
fifty. The “penny” of our Gospels [as of the 1870s]
is estimated [at] about seventeen cents of our money. This is correct, measuring by the weight of
silver contained in the Roman coin, at the price of silver in our coins. But if we measure it by the equivalent in
labor, and in the products of labor at that day its value was very much
greater. Thus, it was the pay for a
day’s work in a vineyard (Matthew 20:2), for a day’s entertainment [= food and care] of
an invalid at an inn (Luke ), and two hundred pennyworth of bread was thought of as sufficient for
a lunch of “five thousand men, besides women and children” (Mark ). 
WEB: When they couldn't pay, he forgave them both. Which of them therefore will love him most?"
Young’s: and they not having wherewith to give
back, he forgave both; which then of them, say thou, will love him more?'
Conte (RC): And since they did not have the ability to repay him, he forgave them both. So then, which of them loves him more?"
And when they had nothing to pay, he frankly forgave. Freely forgave or forgive entirely, without any compensation. [God] forgives--forgives freely, but it is in connection with the atonement made by the Lord Jesus. If it was a mere debt which we owed to God, He might forgive as the creditor did, without any equivalent. 
Tell me therefore, which of them will love him most? No doubt each ought to love to the utmost of his power. The ruin of the least guilty is so utter, and forgiveness so great, that all the gratitude that his human heart can hold is due. But as human nature is, which will feel the most intense emotions of gratitude for salvation? 
WEB: Simon answered, "He, I suppose, to whom he forgave the most." He said to him, "You have judged correctly."
Young’s: And Simon answering said, 'I suppose that
to whom he forgave the more;' and he said to him, 'Rightly thou didst judge.'
Conte (RC): In response, Simon said, "I suppose that it is he to whom he forgave the most." And he said to him, "You have judged correctly."
Simon answered and said, I suppose. With great skill Jesus obliges the Pharisee to pass judgment on himself, which the latter seems already to suspect, by his hesitation, in admitting an obvious truth. 
“I imagine;” “I presume.” The original word has a shade of supercilious irony (compare Acts ), as though Simon thought the question very trivial, and never dreamt that it could have any bearing on himself. 
that he, to whom he forgave most. It is hard to imagine how he could even attempt to defend any other answer. You love the person more who forgives you less? The human mind boggles at the idea. [rw]
And He said unto him, Thou hast rightly judged. There is a touch of gentle sarcasm in the use of this word [“rightly”], which involves Simon’s self-condemnation. It is the word so often adopted by Socrates as one of his implements of dialectic irony. 
WEB: Turning to the woman, he said to Simon, "Do you see this woman? I entered into your house, and you gave me no water for my feet, but she has wet my feet with her tears, and wiped them with the hair of her head.
Young’s: And having turned unto
the woman, he said to Simon, 'Seest thou this woman?
I entered into thy house; water for my feet thou didst not give, but this woman
with tears did wet my feet, and with the hairs of her head did wipe;
Conte (RC): And turning to the woman, he said to Simon: "Do you see this woman? I entered into your house. You gave me no water for my feet. But she has washed my feet with tears, and has wiped them with her hair.
And he turned to the woman, and said unto Simon, Seest thou this woman. You see what this woman has done to me, compared with what you have done. She has shown to me expressions of regard which you, in your own house, have not shown. 
Rather, “Dost thou mark?” Hitherto the Pharisee, in accordance with his customs and traditions, had hardly deigned to throw her one disdainful glance. Now Jesus bids him look full upon her to shew him that she had really done the honors of his house. Her love had more than atoned for his coldness. 
I entered into thine house. I came at your invitation, where I might expect all the usual rites of hospitality. 
thou gaves me no water for my feet. This was a courtesy to guests in the East (Genesis 18:4; Judges ) and the Pharisees were fond of washing before meals. 
It would not appear that Simon had been deficient in the ordinary courtesies paid by a host to his guests--for these, though marks of honour sometimes paid, were not (even the washing of the feet, except when coming from a journey) invariably paid to guests: --but that he had taken no particular pains to shew affection or reverence for his Guest. 
but she hath washed my feet with tears, and wiped them with the hairs of her head. Talk about two extremes of behavior. He had not even acted the role of a good host while she had gone far beyond what anyone could demand. [rw]
WEB: You gave me no kiss, but she, since the time I came in, has not ceased to kiss my feet.
Young’s: a kiss to me thou didst not give, but
this woman, from what time I came in, did not cease kissing my feet;
Conte (RC): You gave no kiss to me. But she, from the time that she entered, has not ceased to kiss my feet.
Thou gavest me no kiss. This was the salutation of friendship. Genesis 22:4; Exodus 18:7. 
In more detail: The ordinary salutation of respect in the East, where the first thing when two friends meet and wish to do each other honour is to try to kiss each other’s hands. The kiss on the cheek is between equals and also to superiors. Absalom, to gain favour, kissed every man who came near him to do him obeisance; 2 Samuel 15:5. “The king kissed Barzillai,” 2 Samuel 19:39. Hence this was a natural signal of recognition for the traitor to give; Matthew 26:49. See Acts . 
but this woman since the time I came in hath not ceased to kiss my feet. It was repeated, ongoing. In contrast, the Pharisee had not even bestowed the inevitable courtesy a guest would expect to receive. It is hard to regard this neglect as anything short of an intended slur or insult. A non-verbal way saying, “I’m willing to eat with you to soften you up for an argument, but no way am I going to be courteous in the process.” [rw]
WEB: You didn't anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment.
Young’s: with oil my head thou didst not anoint,
but this woman with ointment did anoint my feet;
Conte (RC): You did not anoint my head with oil. But she has anointed my feet with ointment.
My head with oil thou didst not anoint. Anointing the head with oil was common as a mark of honor to guests at festivals. Psalms 23:5; 141:5. If he had not been deficient in common courtesy, he had at least taken no pains for his guest. 
with oil. In antithesis to "the ointment," costly and compounded. "Oil" was unmixed, and from the abundance of olives among the Jews, cheaper. 
The Orientals used oil,
prepared carefully with sweet spices, to soften and refresh the skin of the
head. Climate and manners vary the world
over. To furnish guests with this
refreshment was customary in
but this woman hath anointed my feet with ointment. This "ointment" was a mixture of various aromatics and was therefore far more costly and precious than the "oil" commonly used for anointing the head. Her conduct, compared with that of Simon, was therefore more striking. He did not give even the common oil for his head, used on such occasions. She had applied to His feet a far more precious and valuable unguent. He, therefore, showed comparatively little love. She showed much. 
In the dry, dusty
Weymouth: This is the reason why I tell you that her sins, her many sins, are forgiven--because she has loved much; but he who is forgiven little, loves little."
WEB: Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much. But to whom little is forgiven, the same loves little."
Young’s: therefore I say to thee, her many sins
have been forgiven, because she did love much; but to whom little is forgiven,
little he doth love.'
Conte (RC): Because of this, I tell you: many sins are forgiven her, because she has loved much. But he who is forgiven less, loves less."
Wherefore I say unto thee. As the result of this or because she had done this; meaning by this, that she had given evidence that her sins had been forgiven. The inquiry with Simon was whether it was proper for Jesus to touch her, or to allow her to touch Him because she was such a sinner (verse 30). Jesus said, in substance, to Simon, "Grant that she has been as great a sinner as you affirm. She has evinced much love for Me, which is an evidence that she is no longer such a sinner as you suppose, and it is not therefore improper that she should be suffered to come to me." 
Her sins, which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much. On a psychological level, this had to deeply annoy the Pharisee: She—Her—was forgiven? If there were any forgiven in that house surely it must be the host and his fellow Pharisees! Giving them the benefit of every doubt (probably needlessly) they had down pat the art of passing muster on every divine commandment—at least in their own eyes--but the attitude that was supposed to go with forgiveness was so alien to their way of thinking! [rw]
but to whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little. He who feels that little has been forgiven--that his sins were not as great as those of others[--will love little]. A man's love to God will be in proportion to the obligation he feels to Him for forgiveness. 
In depth: Did love save her (verse 47) or faith (verse 50)? How do the two statements interlock? One analysis : In our translation this would seem to be given as a reason why her sins had been forgiven--that she had loved much before they were pardoned. This would be contrary to the whole New Testament, which supposes that love succeeds, not precedes forgiveness. It was not to show why her sins had been forgiven, but to show that she had given evidence that they actually had been, and that it was proper therefore that she should come near to Him to manifest this love.
A similar analysis : He does not declare that her sins are forgiven on account of this practical love which she has exhibited; but that, on account of this [behavior] He is warranted in declaring that her sins “are forgiven.” Rather “have been forgiven”; for the verb in Greek is in the perfect tense: She has been forgiven. It may be known from the fact that she loves.
We might not hesitate to think that the Saviour might have said that her forgiveness came in consequence of her love, love itself being only a phase of faith; but the order of the words, the perfect tense of the verb, the drift of the parable where the debtors’ love is consequent [= after] their forgiveness, and the explicit declaration in verse 50, all warrant the conclusion that here also, as everywhere else in all the Scripture, He recognizes her faith as the condition of that forgiveness which her love bespeaks.
WEB: He said to her, "Your sins are forgiven."
Young’s: And he said to her, 'Thy sins have been
Conte (RC): Then he said to her, "Your sins are forgiven you."
And He said unto her. Not having before addressed her directly. 
thy sins are forgiven. Rather, “have been forgiven.” The “is forgiven” of the previous verse is in the present, “is being forgiven.” Both in the Old and New Testaments the readiness of God to forgive the deepest and most numerous sins is dwelt upon (Isaiah , lv. 7), and also the absoluteness of the forgiveness (Romans ; 1 John , 19). There is an obvious analogy between the little parable of the debtors and that of the uncompassionate servant (Matthew -27). 
1650s: Melancthon makes mention of a godly woman, who having upon her death bed been much conflicted, and afterwards much comforted, brake out into these words, Now, and not till now, I understand the meaning of those words, Thy sins are forgiven. 
WEB: Those who sat at the table with him began to say to themselves, "Who is this who even forgives sins?"
Young’s: and those reclining with him (at meat)
began to say within themselves, 'Who is this, who also doth forgive sins?'
Conte (RC): And those who sat at table with him began to say within themselves, "Who is this, who even forgives sins?"
And they that sat at meat with him began to say within themselves. His words caused a shock of surprised silence which did not as yet dare to vent itself in open murmurs. 
Who is this that forgiveth sins also? A very pertinent question. Who could He be but God? Man could not do it, and there is no wonder that they were amazed. 
WEB: He said to the woman, "Your faith has saved you. Go in peace."
Young’s: and he said unto the woman, 'Thy faith
have saved thee, be going on to peace.'
Conte (RC): Then he said to the woman: "Your faith has brought you salvation. Go in peace."
And He said to the woman. Our Lord would not on this, as on the previous occasion, rebuke them for their thoughts, because the miracle which He had worked was the purely spiritual one of winning back a guilty soul—a miracle which they could not comprehend. Further, He compassionately desired to set the woman free from a notice which must now have become deeply painful to her. 
Thy faith hath saved thee. The faith of the recipient was the necessary condition of a miracle, whether physical or spiritual, Mark 5:34, 9:23; Matthew 9:2, 13:58, 15:28; John 4:50; Acts 3:16, 14:8. 
go in peace. He comforts her, against the rude looks and cavils of the persons about them. 
[It] is a phrase which was the usual valediction among the Jews, as much as our Farewell, or God be with you, they under the term of peace comprehending all good; but when we consider who it is that speaketh, and what immediately preceded, we have reason to think this was a more than ordinary compliment or farewell, even as much as is comprehended [= included] under the term peace, which, as I before said, is all good, but more especially that peace mentioned by the apostle, Romans 5:1, as an effect of faith. Go thy way a blessed and happy woman, and in the view and sense of thy own blessedness, and be not troubled at the censures and reflections of persons, who may despise or overlook thee because thou hast been a great sinner. God hath pardoned thy sins, and this I assure thee of; only take heed to keep and maintain that peace. 
In depth: Is this the
same anointing placed by the other gospel accounts in the last week of Jesus
life ? A
very similar narrative to this is found in the other three Gospels, but
assigned to a much later time--to the Passion week. Mary, a sister of Lazarus, annoints Jesus at a repast which is given Him by the people
doubtless, have their weight; but they are not decisive. The act of anointing was associated with such
a common usage on festive occasions (Luke ; Psalms 23:5), that there can be no
difficulty in supposing that it was repeated.
The causes of the omission of a narrative in one or two of the evangelists
are too accidental for us to be able to base any solid conclusion upon it. We need only refer to the omission in Matthew
of the healing of the possessed at
As to the name Simon, it was so common, that out of the small number of persons designated by name in the New Testament, there are no less than fifteen Simons!
The reasons in favor of the difference of the two incidents are the following:
1st. The difference of place--
2nd. The difference of time.
3rd. The difference of persons: the woman that was a sinner, in Luke, is a stranger in the house of the host (verse 37, "a woman of the city"), and Simon himself regards her as such, and as altogether unknown to Jesus (verse 39). Mary, on the contrary, belongs to a beloved family, which habitually received Jesus under their roof. Besides, we must always feel a repugnance to identify Mary the sister of Lazarus, as we know her in John 11 and Luke 10:38-42, with a woman of ill fame.
4th. The most important difference respects what was said: at Bethany, a complaint from Judas on behalf of the poor, and a reply from Jesus announcing His approaching death; in Galilee, the great evangelical declaration, that love is the fruit of forgiveness, which is bestowed on the simple condition of faith. What agreement can be discovered between these two conversations? We may conceive of very considerable alterations being made by tradition in the historical framework of a narrative. But by what marvellous process could one of these two conversations have been transformed into the other?
In depth: Motive for
Luke omitting incidents—to avoid duplication ? Notice that
Luke omits the anointing of Jesus by Mary of
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