From:  Over 50 Interpreters Explain the Gospel of Luke Return to Home 

By Roland H. Worth, Jr.  © 2015













Books Utilized Code Numbers at End of Chapter





20:1                                                     Translations

Weymouth:    On one of those days while He was teaching the people in the Temple and proclaiming the Good News, the High Priests came upon Him, and the Scribes,

WEB:              It happened on one of those days, as he was teaching the people in the temple and preaching the Good News, that the priests and scribes came to him with the elders.

Young’s:         And it came to pass, on one of those days, as he is teaching the people in the temple, and proclaiming good news, the chief priests and the scribes, with the elders, came upon him,
Conte (RC):   And it happened that, on one of the days when he was teaching the people in the temple and preaching the Gospel, the leaders of the priests, and the scribes, gathered together with the elders,


20:1                 And it came to pass, that on one of those days.  A comparison of Matthew and Mark shows that it was on Tuesday, after the withering of the fig tree that He had cursed the preceding (Monday) morning, on the way from Bethany to Jerusalem.  [52]

                        as He taught the people in the temple, and preached the gospel.  The “teaching” would be principally an exposition of the Messianic intent of the Old Testament, the application of which to His own character and work would be the “preaching of the gospel” ( compare 4:16-21).  We may well suppose that large numbers were now thronging Him, “hanging upon Him, listening,” so that any interruption would attract great attention.  Just at such a moment, an interruption did occur, of the most formidable description [involving the top religious leadership.]  [52]

                        Or, making the point more general:  What He “taught” was the “gospel,” the good news of what God really wanted and intended—much of which was simply the principles of the Old Testament rightly applied to everyday life rather than twisted into a theology that permitted one to “piously” ignore the intent while clinging to its words.  Not to mention laying aside human traditions to make themselves “more devout” by “pious actions” which were actually neither demanded nor practical for the bulk of people.

                        the chief priests and the scribes came upon Him with the elders.  The parties seem to have consulted together, and to have decided upon this course as being likely to weaken or destroy His influence with the people.  In a body, therefore, these chief priests and scribes and elders—the most prominent men of the theocracy—came upon Him while He is teaching and preaching in the temple, and demand His authority for doing these things.  [3]

                        It looks like a formal delegation from the Sanhedrin, or great religious council of the nation, similar to that which was sent to John the Baptist, in the beginning of the Gospel (John 1:19ff.).  Selected members, representing all sections of the body, venerable in years and character, and arrayed in their distinctive robes of office, constituted an apparition well adapted to overwhelm the populace with reverence and awe.  [52]

                        the elders.  [These] were the representatives of the people, and had existed in Israel from the earliest times (Exodus 18:13-16), 19:7; 2 Samuel 19:11; 1 Kings 8:1-3; Jeremiah 29:1; Ezra 5:5; 6:7-14).  [6]

                        From this period of the narrative, the hostility of the Pharisees, as such, is much less marked.  Indeed they would have sympathized with the cleansing of the Temple, which involved a terrible reflection on the greed and neglect of the hierarchic party.  [56]

                        came upon Him.  The statement implies a degree of suddenness, if not surprise, in their appearance.  The design was soon manifest.  [52]



20:2                                                     Translations

Weymouth:    together with the Elders, and they asked Him, "Tell us, By what authority are you doing these things? And who is it that gave you this authority?"

WEB:              They asked him, "Tell us: by what authority do you do these things? Or who is giving you this authority?" 

Young’s:         and spake unto him, saying, 'Tell us by what authority thou dost these things? or who is he that gave to thee this authority?'
Conte (RC):   and they spoke to him, saying: "Tell us, by what authority do you do these things? Or, who is it that has given you this authority?"


20:2                 And spake unto him, saying, Tell us.  The imperative, “Tell us,” is consistent with the whole air of superiority and command which the visit bespoke.  As overseers of the religious instruction of the people, neither the people nor Jesus Himself would question the propriety of their inquiring into the credentials of one who assumed the function of a messenger of God; only let them do it with an honest and earnest desire to know the truth.  [52] 

by what authority.  Rather, “by what kind of authority.”  The implication is, “you are only called a Rabbi by courtesy;” you are not a “pupil of the wise;” you are not a priest, or a scribe, or a political functionary.  Yet you usurp functions which rather belong to Caiaphas, or the President of the Sanhedrin, or the Romans, or Herod.  If you act as a Prophet, show us a sign.  Practically it was the old taunt by which He had been grieved in Galilee (Matthew 12:39, 16:4).  [56]

doest Thou these things?  “These things” would include, primarily, the cleansing of the temple courts, the day before, and all that He had done and allowed on the day of His arrival.  The people listening would be likely to associate with these the blasting of the fig-tree, the giving sight to the blind, the raising of Lazarus—all that guaranteed Him to be the prophet of Galilee, the Messiah of the nation.  [52]

or who is he that gave Thee this authority?  Understood, as they intended it, viz., what man, what eldership, what college of rabbins, gave it to thee?  The practical sum of it was, in their minds, “How, when, where, didst Thou receive this authority from us?”  As their inquiry was proper in form, the Lord gave a respectful reply. [52]   



20:3                                                     Translations

Weymouth:    "I also will put a question to you," He said;

WEB:              He answered them, "I also will ask you one question. Tell me:   

Young’s:         And he answering said unto them, 'I will question you -- I also -- one thing, and tell me:
Conte (RC):   And in response, Jesus said to them: "I will also question you about one word. Respond to me:


20:3                 And he answered and said unto them, I will also ask you one thing.  Rather, “a question.”  The divine readiness and (if we may be allowed the expression) presence of mind of Jesus was most conspicuously shown on this perilous day and the next day.  [56]

                        and answer me.  He wasn’t just throwing out a question for them to meditate upon.  He was throwing out a question that He wanted answeredhere and now.  They had challenged His authority to teach; now He was challenging their ability to be honest teachers instead of merely self-serving ones.  [rw]

                        We see from St. Mark (11:30) that this emphatic expression came after His question—as though to hasten their delay, and break up a whispered colloquy of perplexity.  [56]



20:4                                                     Translations

Weymouth:    "was John's baptism of Heavenly or of human origin?"

WEB:              the baptism of John, was it from heaven, or from men?"        

Young’s:         the baptism of John, from heaven was it, or from men?'
Conte (RC):   The baptism of John, was it from heaven, or of men?"


20:4                 The baptism of John.  This question was strictly pertinent to the one put to Him.  Christ's mission and ministry [was] the central point and seal of the office and teaching of John's ministry and baptism.  [7]

                        “The baptism of John” is put briefly for the whole mission of John.  Now, John had testified to the Messiahship of Jesus, and that to the embassy sent from this very body, perhaps including some of these very men.  An answer to His question, therefore, would greatly clear the way toward an answer to theirs, and perhaps render further answer unnecessary.  Did John do what he did, and say what he said, as a prophet, the spokesman of God?  [52]  

                        was it from heaven, or of men?  If John was a prophet, he had testified of Jesus and the word of a prophet of Jehovah was even legally higher than that of the Sanhedrin.  [6]

                        If they could not answer this question they were obviously incompetent to decide as to the authority by which He worked.  [56]



20:5                                                     Translations

Weymouth:    So they debated the matter with one another. "If we say 'Heavenly,'" they argued, "he will say, 'Why did you not believe him?'

WEB:              They reasoned with themselves, saying, "If we say, 'From heaven,' he will say, 'Why didn't you believe him?'       

Young’s:         And they reasoned with themselves, saying -- 'If we may say, From heaven, he will say, Wherefore, then, did ye not believe him?
Conte (RC):   So they discussed it among themselves, saying: "If we say, 'From heaven,' he will say, 'Then why did you not believe him?'


20:5                 And they reasoned with themselves, saying.  They went aside to discuss together what answer they should give.  This deliberation rendered their confession of ignorance more glaring and more fatal to their claims.  It never occurred to them to speak with the courage of their convictions.  [56]

The reply of Jesus was one of strange wisdom.  He--Jesus--as was well known, had been introduced to the people by this very John.  If the Sanhedrin acknowledged John the Baptist as a divinely [endorsed] messenger, then surely they could not question the claims of one borne special witness to by him, brought forward and introduced to public notice by him!  If, on the other hand, the Sanhedrin refused to acknowledge the authority of John as a Heaven-sent messenger, which would have been the course they would have preferred, then the popularity and influence of the Sanhedrin would have been sorely imperiled, for the people generally held firmly that John the Baptist was really a prophet of the Lord.  They even feared--as we read, “All the people will stone us”—personal violence on the part of the people whose favor they so zealously courted.  [18]

                        If we shall say, From heaven; he will say, Why then believed ye him not?  Accept this premise as valid and they were self-condemned.  And even if they wished to lie or use ambiguous language, their own rejection by John was clearly too well known to risk it (John 1:19-28):  “when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees come to his baptism”—might some of them have been part of this current group of questioners?—John rebuked them with the harsh words, “O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come?” (Matthew 3:7) [rw]



20:6                                                     Translations

Weymouth:    And if we say, 'human,' the people will all stone us; for they are thoroughly convinced that John was a Prophet."

WEB:              But if we say, 'From men,' all the people will stone us, for they are persuaded that John was a prophet."

Young’s:         and if we may say, From men, all the people will stone us, for they are having been persuaded John to be a prophet.'
Conte (RC):   But if we say, 'Of men,' the whole people will stone us. For they are certain that John was a prophet."


20:6                 But and if we say, Of men; all the people will stone us:  for they be persuaded that John was a prophet.  The kind of violence they would love to inflict upon Jesus, they themselves would have been victims of.  This was one argument they could not use because it would risk their own lives.  The implication seems clear that they had decided John could not be a true prophet—probably because how could a “true prophet” come to different religious conclusions than they?  After all they were supposed to be masters of the sacred text!  [rw] 

                        persuaded.  Rather, “firmly convinced.”  The tense implies an unalterable conclusion.  [56]

                        all the people.  The conclusion is pervasive with few or no dissenters.  [rw]



20:7                                                     Translations

Weymouth:    And they answered that they did not know the origin of it.

WEB:              They answered that they didn't know where it was from.    

Young’s:         And they answered, that they knew not whence it was,
Conte (RC):   And so they responded that they did not know where it was from.


20:7                 And they answered, that they could not tell whence it was.  Was there anyone present—with the possible exception of pilgrims from distant lands unacquainted with knowledge about John—who would not have recognized the absurdity of this and its blatant insincerity?  These were the purported religious elite of the land, the epitome of religious authority, experts who had such fine tuned “reasoning” that they could cut a quarter into thirty pieces, spend it, and still have enough left over to pay the tithe on it, and then give you a lengthy lecture from some obscure and totally irrelevant Biblical text to explain why things “had” to work out this way!  (This is rhetorical exaggeration, of course; we use it to illustrate that when they wished to “prove” a point, they always found a way to make their theory “scripturally” or “traditionally” sustainable however much either scripture or tradition had to be manipulated and mutilated in the process.) [rw] 

                        could not tell.  Rather, “did not know.”  A wise answer in cases of real uncertainty, as the Hebrew proverb taught—“Learn to say I do not know;” but a base answer when they had an opinion but did not dare to avow it; and doubly base in the matter of a question which it was their plain duty to have arrived at a judgment.  To be reduced to this ignominious necessity of confessing ignorance (though “we know” was one of their favorite phrases, John 9:24, etc.) was a public humiliation which they had brought upon themselves.  [56]



20:8                                                     Translations

Weymouth:    "Nor will I tell you," said Jesus, "by what authority I do these things."

WEB:              Jesus said to them, "Neither will I tell you by what authority I do these things."

Young’s:         and Jesus said to them, 'Neither do I say to you by what authority I do these things.'
Conte (RC):   And Jesus said to them, "Neither will I tell you by what authority I do these things."


20:8                 Neither tell I you.  Jesus, on hearing their plea of ignorance, now contemptuously declines to answer the Sanhedrists’ question in the direct way they desired, but at once proceeds to speak a parable which unmistakably contains the reply.  [18]

                        by what authority.  His miracles told them very plainly.  [7]

                        I do these things.  His miracles, parables, teachings, claims.  [7]



20:9                                                     Translations

Weymouth:    Then He proceeded to speak a parable to the people. "There was a man," He said, "who planted a vineyard, let it out to vine-dressers, and went abroad for a considerable time.

WEB:              He began to tell the people this parable. "A man planted a vineyard, and rented it out to some farmers, and went into another country for a long time.          

Young’s:         And he began to speak unto the people this simile: 'A certain man planted a vineyard, and gave it out to husbandmen, and went abroad for a long time,
Conte (RC):   Then he began to tell the people this parable: "A man planted a vineyard, and he loaned it to settlers, and he was on a sojourn for a long time.


20:9                 Then began He to speak to the people.  But still in the hearing of the priests and scribes who had only withdrawn a little into the background (verse 19; Matthew 21:32, 45).  Luke here omits the Parable of the Two Sons (Matthew 21:28-32), in which, as in this Parable, the hidden meaning—applicable in the first instance to Pharisees and the people, and in the second to Jews and Gentiles—was hardly veiled.  [56]

this parable;  A certain man planted a vineyard.  This represents God's attention to Israel, His covenant people, "to whom pertaineth the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God and the promises" (Rom. ix. 4).  These eminent privileges were conferred upon them as a sacred trust to be cultivated and improved.  A vineyard was customarily used in both the Old Testament and the New as a figure for the Israelitish people.  (See Deut. xxii. 32; Isa. v. 1-7; Ps. lxxx. and Matt. xx.1.)  This "certain man" was more than possessor of this vineyard.  He had himself planted" it.  (Ex. xv. 17.)  The planting of this spiritual vineyard found place under Moses and Joshua, in the establishing of the Jewish polity in the land of Canaan.  It is described in Deut. xxxii. 12-14.  (See Ezek. xvi. 9-14; Neh. ix. 23-25.)  [9]

                        The parable was so plain that the enemies of Jesus perfectly understood its meaning.  The householder was His Father; the vineyard was Israel; the husbandmen were the rulers to whom the nation had been entrusted; the servants were the prophets sent to summon the people to repent and to render to God the fruits of righteousness; the son was Jesus Himself, who thus claimed a unique relation to God, distinct from the prophets and from all human messengers; the death of the heir was His own approaching crucifixion; the return of the householder was the coming visitation of divine judgment, the rejection of Israel, and the call of the Gentiles.  [28]

                        Aside:  Vines, grapes, and vine leaves were symbols of Palestine, on the coins of the Maccabees.  [56]

                        and let it forth to husbandmen, and went into a far country for a long time.  Pivotal to the story is that the owner has left to others the actual control of the property and its rightful administration.  He remains interested and concerned, of course, but others have been trusted to take “hands on” responsibility for its administration.  [rw]

                        The “husbandmen” to whom it was let out, were the administrators of the government under God—the judges, kings, priests, and all that successively constituted the hierarchy.  [52]

                        Or:  Namely, (1) the Jewish nation; (2) their rulers and teachers. [56]

                        for a long time.  The nearly two thousand years of Jewish history.  Compare Matthew 25:19.  In this long time they learnt to say “the Lord hath forsaken the earth,” Ezekiel 8:12; Psalms 10:5.  [56] 



20:10                                                   Translations

Weymouth:    At vintage-time he sent a servant to the vine-dressers, for them to give him a share of the crop; but the vine-dressers beat him cruelly and sent him away empty-handed.

WEB:              At the proper season, he sent a servant to the farmers to collect his share of the fruit of the vineyard. But the farmers beat him, and sent him away empty.           

Young’s:         and at the season he sent unto the husbandmen a servant, that from the fruit of the vineyard they may give to him, but the husbandmen having beat him, did send him away empty.
Conte (RC):   And in due time, he sent a servant to the farmers, so that they would give to him from the fruit of the vineyard. And they beat him and drove him away, empty-handed.


20:10               And at the season.  At the appropriate time; when it had been reached.  When the right amount of time had been given.  [rw]

                        he sent a servant to the husbandmen.  They were put on notice that payment was now due.  They could not plead ignorance.  [rw]

                        The various “servants” are the Judges, the better Priests, and the Prophets.  [56]

                        that they should give him of the fruit of the vineyard.  After the pains and care bestowed upon the vineyard, that is, after the many mighty works done in Israel’s behalf, the Lord of hosts looked for fruits of gratitude and fidelity in some proportion to the mighty favours which it had received from him.  The people were intended to be the example to, and the educators of, the world, and, instead of carrying out these high functions, they lived the poor selfish life so sadly depicted in the long story contained in the historical and prophetical books.  “He looked that it [his vineyard] should bring forth grapes, and it brought forth wild grapes” (Isa. v. 2).  [18]

                        The “fruits” expected by the proprietor of this vineyard, were obedience to His will, as declared in the Law, which was to prepare the way for a universal reign of grace to sinful men, while it meantime fostered a character of humility, uprightness, mercy, piety, among the people who made up the plants of the vineyard.  [52]   

                        but the husbandmen beat him, and sent him away empty.  Not only did the owner not get what he was amply deserved, his agents were treated with outright contempt:  Rejection was not enough; brutality was their reward for doing their job.  If the tenants were to be mad at anyone, the anger should have been targeted at the owner for these others were only carrying out his instructions.  [rw]



20:11                                                   Translations

Weymouth:    Then he sent a second servant; and him too they beat and ill treated and sent away empty-handed.

WEB:              He sent yet another servant, and they also beat him, and treated him shamefully, and sent him away empty.           

Young’s:         'And he added to send another servant, and they that one also having beaten and dishonoured, did send away empty;
Conte (RC):   And he continued to send another servant. But beating him and treating him with contempt, they likewise sent him away, empty-handed.


20:11               And again he sent another servant.  These represent the prophets, those faithful servants of the Lord, whose toils and trials and fate are painted in the Epistle to the Hebrews (xi.) in such glowing and eloquent language.  [18]

                        Just as a physical property owner would have sent repeated individuals to collect what was due him, on a spiritual level God repeatedly sent prophets to remind the people of what their duties were to God and to urge them to return to them.  Just as every society has a certain percentage of folk who will use the physical absence of the “boss” as an excuse to ignore their jobs and responsibilities, even the Chosen People used God’s “absence”—His not directly and miraculously intervening on an ongoing basis—to generally ignore their responsibilities.  [rw]

                        and they beat him also, and entreated him shamefully, and sent him away empty.  There is a gradation in their impious audacity.  In St. Matthew (21:35) it is (1) beat, (2) killed, (3) stoned.  In St. Mark (12:3-5) it is (1) beat, and sent away empty; (2) wounded in the head, and insulted; (3) killed.  And when more servants are sent they beat some and kill some.  [56]



20:12                                                   Translations

Weymouth:    Then again he sent a third; and this one also they wounded and drove away.

WEB:              He sent yet a third, and they also wounded him, and threw him out.    

Young’s:         and he added to send a third, and this one also, having wounded, they did cast out.
Conte (RC):   And he continued to send a third. And wounding him also, they drove him away.


20:12               And again he sent a third: and they wounded him also, and cast him out.  The number of servants is given as three to show that it was a habitual form of behavior.  They had not listened and had no inclination to listen regardless of how many were sent.  On a spiritual level, this sadly summed up the nation’s religious history as well.  [rw]

                        In no case, at no period, do they meet God’s reasonable requirement with fidelity and righteousness.  In this, the Savior simply summarized their recorded history.  Throughout that, from the men who “outlived Joshua” (Judges 2:7), we search in vain for the account of a single generation that served Jehovah with more than a rare, meager, half-hearted devotion.  Scarcely a king that, through his life-time, remained faithful to the national covenant with God.  [52] 

                        cast him out.  On this treatment of God’s messengers see 13:33, 34, and Nehemiah 9:26; 1 Kings 22:24-27; 2 Chronicles 24:19-22; Acts 7:52; 1 Thessalonians 2:15; Hebrews 11:36, 37, where the same charge is reiterated. [56]



20:13                                                   Translations

Weymouth:    Then the owner of the vineyard said, "'What am I to do? I will send my son--my dearly-loved son: they will probably respect him.'

WEB:              The lord of the vineyard said, 'What shall I do? I will send my beloved son. It may be that seeing him, they will respect him.'

Young’s:         'And the owner of the vineyard said, What shall I do? I will send my son -- the beloved, perhaps having seen this one, they will do reverence;
Conte (RC):   Then the lord of the vineyard said: 'What shall I do? I will send my beloved son. Perhaps when they have seen him, they will respect him.'


20:13               Then said the lord of the vineyard, What shall I do?  St. Luke here represents the Father as calling the Son, “my Beloved.”  St. Mark adds that he was an only Son.  Such sayings as this, and the remarkable prayer of Matt. xi. 25-27, are a clear indication of the Christology of the synoptists.  Their estimate of the Person of the blessed Son in no wise differed from that given us by St. John at much greater length and with fuller details.  [18]

                        I will send my beloved son.  [This] is, of course, the Lord Jesus Himself; and the plot of the husbandmen against Him, is what the chief priests and scribes are now engaged in working out, that they may continue to hold their control over the people, with its honors and emoluments.  [52]

                        it may be they will reverence [respect, NKJV] him when they see him.  Without options, he is willing to risk his own son—but the words are very contingent, “it may be,” not “it will be.”  The whole burden is placed on their shoulders to decide what to do.  One can’t blame God when one is acting out one’s own preferences and desires!  A useful contrast might be this—in c. 30 A.D. God said “it may be” and left the decision up to those directly involved; in 70 A.D. God said “it will be”—and the Temple was destroyed.  If they were not going to accept the Messiah, of what value was the intermediary Temple for any more—beyond, perhaps, encouraging the delusion that if the Messiah is rejected because He does not match rebellious man’s temporal preferences no real, lasting harm has been done?  [rw]



20:14                                                   Translations

Weymouth:    "But when the vine-dressers saw him, they discussed the matter with one another, and said, "'This is the heir: let us kill him, that the inheritance may be ours.'

WEB:              "But when the farmers saw him, they reasoned among themselves, saying, 'This is the heir. Come, let's kill him, that the inheritance may be ours.'         

Young’s:         and having seen him, the husbandmen reasoned among themselves, saying, This is the heir; come, we may kill him, that the inheritance may become ours;
Conte (RC):   And when the settlers had seen him, they discussed it among themselves, saying: 'This one is the heir. Let us kill him, so that the inheritance will be ours.'


20:14               But when the husbandmen [vinedressers, NKJV] saw him, they reasoned among themselves, saying, This is the heir: come, let us kill him.  “His Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things,” Hebrews 1:2.  Compare John 11:47-53.  “They killed that they might possess, and because they killed they lost.”  --Augustine.  [56]
                        that the inheritance may be ours.  Interpreted on a literal, human inter-reaction level:  Killing the heir, standing alone, makes absolutely no sense in abolishing their goal “that the inheritance may be ours.”  After all, the owner could sell the property to some powerful nearby dignitary who would be quite willing to “bust the necessary heads” to bring the nonsense to an end.  Or to come himself and obtain such assistance to revenge his son’s death.  Hence something unspoken must also be included and that seems to be the certainty that the owner will be unable or unwilling to intervene any further.  This would be the case of a man who is a foreigner and with no local ties and, even more so, if there are no parties close by who would be sympathetic to his plight.  Unable to do more, he would have to effectively forfeit the lands into the very hands of those who had stolen it.  But as verses 15 and 16 show, the capacity to punish gross injustice can turn out to be present even when the perpetuators are convinced it would be impossible.  [rw] 

Interpreted in its spiritual ramifications of the husbandmen being the nation’s religious leadership:  The motive of their murderous wickedness is laid open before them—that, the Messiah being put out of the way, they may sit in His place, as they already sat “in Moses’ seat.”  What was originally and properly a piece of land entrusted to their care, on certain unfulfilled conditions, has become, in their view, an inheritance handed down to them, so that if the legitimate heir be got rid of, it will fall of right to them.  [52]    



20:15                                                   Translations

Weymouth:    "So they turned him out of the vineyard and murdered him. What then will the owner of the vineyard do to them?

WEB:              They threw him out of the vineyard, and killed him. What therefore will the lord of the vineyard do to them?

Young’s:         and having cast him outside of the vineyard, they killed him; what, then, shall the owner of the vineyard do to them?
Conte (RC):   And forcing him outside of the vineyard, they killed him. What, then, will the lord of the vineyard do to them?"


20:15               So they cast him out of the vineyard, and killed him.  The parable-story of itself was an improbable one.  The conduct of the husbandmen, the long patience of the owner of the vineyard, his last act in sending his beloved and only son,--all this makes up a history without a parallel in human experience.  Yet this is an exact sketch of what did actually take place in the eventful story of Israel!  [18]

                        The casting the son “out of the vineyard,” means, perhaps, nothing more than that they put him off from the field which he claims, and which they usurp, before they put him to death.  Some think it refers to a formal excommunication of Jesus, but without adducting any proof of such a fact.  Forsaking now the form of narrative, Christ inquires as to the future consequences of this conduct.  [52]

                        What therefore shall the lord of the vineyard do unto them?  In a sense, to ask the question is to answer it.  Assuming the aggrieved has sufficient power, any answer has to involve vigorous and overwhelming retribution.  [rw]



20:16                                                   Translations

Weymouth:    He will come and put these vine-dressers to death, and give the vineyard to others." "God forbid!" exclaimed the hearers.

WEB:              He will come and destroy these farmers, and will give the vineyard to others." When they heard it, they said, "May it never be!"

Young’s:         He will come, and destroy these husbandmen, and will give the vineyard to others.' And having heard, they said, 'Let it not be!'
Conte (RC):   "He will come and destroy those settlers, and he will give the vineyard to others." And upon hearing this, they said to him, "Let it not be."


20:16               He shall come and destroy these husbandmen.  The answer to His question must probably be understood in our passage, and so in Mark, as the Lord’s own to His own question.  Matthew gives substantially the same, as extorted from one of those rulers by the vividness of the narrative.  [52]

                        and shall give the vineyard to others.  “Lo, we turn to the Gentiles,” Acts 13:46.  [56]

                        And when they heard it.  Since overwhelming retribution would instinctively appeal to the mind of anyone interested in justice “they” could hardly be the masses of listeners.  The “they” virtually has to be the religious leadership, knowing that—however one might interpret the “fine print” of the parable—it is clearly aimed at their leadership and that they are the assumed targets of the retribution.  [rw]

                        they said, God forbid.  Or, "Let it not be."  Our phase "God forbid," answers pretty well to the meaning of the Greek, but it is no translation.  [1]

                        Literally, “Might it not be!”  In this utterance we hear the groan when the truth that they were indeed to be rejected burst upon them.  It woke an echo even in the heart of the Apostle of the Gentiles.  It occurs ten times in the Epistle to the Romans alone.  It is the opposite of Amen, but occurs here alone in the Gospels.  [56] 



20:17                                                   Translations

Weymouth:    He looked at them and said, "What then does that mean which is written, "'The Stone which the builders rejected has been made the cornerstone'?

WEB:              But he looked at them, and said, "Then what is this that is written, 'The stone which the builders rejected, the same was made the chief cornerstone?'

Young’s:         and he, having looked upon them, said, 'What, then, is this that hath been written: A stone that the builders rejected -- this became head of a corner?
Conte (RC):   Then, gazing at them, he said: "Then what does this mean, which is written: 'The stone which the builders have rejected, the same has become the head of the corner?'


20:17               And He beheld them.  Rather, “looking fixedly on them,” to add solemnity to His reference to their own Scriptures.  [56]

and said, What is this then that is written.  Jesus argues that not only can the parable be interpreted as rightly requiring dire retribution upon the villains, Scripture itself requires that when God has sent His Son and He has been rejected, nothing short of that is adequate.  [rw]

He here refers them to the very Psalm from which the Hosanna of the multitude had been taken.  [56]

                        the stone which the builders rejected.  Psalms 118:22-23; compare Acts 4:11; 1 Peter 2:7.   These verses about a "rejected stone" may be looked upon as another parable--a parable within a parable.  "The men who have just been compared to vine-dressers now become builders, and the heir cast out of the vineyard and murdered is now a stone thrown aside as useless.  But the new figure enables Jesus to give a glimpse of what is to happen to Himself after evil men have wrought their worst.  He will be raised to a place of power, an object of admiration to friends, a source of dismay to foes" (Bruce).  [6]  

                        the same is become the head of the corner?  The passage cited celebrates the triumph of some prominent personage typically connected with the kingdom of God.  Foes would have deposed him; but he is raised to the highest honor.  This Jesus applies to Himself, making the rulers the builders of the Theocracy, who have rejected Him only to be defeated, in seeing Him exalted to headship in that structure.  [52]

                        Or:  The last phrase is a Hebraism for a stone so fitted and placed as, by forming part of two walls, to bind them together at a corner, and give security to the whole structure.  Whether it is conceived of as coping out the main wall at the top (Jeremiah 51:26), or the foundation wall, on which the edifice rested (Isaiah 28:16; 1 Peter 2:6, 7), or, as placed at any desired elevation, admits of question.  [52]  



20:18                                                   Translations

Weymouth:    Every one who falls on that stone will be severely hurt, but on whomsoever it falls, he will be utterly crushed."

WEB:              Everyone who falls on that stone will be broken to pieces, but it will crush whomever it falls on to dust."       

Young’s:         every one who hath fallen on that stone shall be broken, and on whom it may fall, it will crush him to pieces.'
Conte (RC):   Everyone who falls on that stone will be shattered. And anyone upon whom it falls will be crushed."


20:18               Whosoever shall fall upon that stone shall be broken; but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder.  Two kinds of punishment are here referred to, not two different degrees of the same punishment.  In the one, the person offending is active (he stumbles and is broken); in the other, passive (he is fallen upon and crushed).  In the first case, whatever evil is experienced is self-inflicted by the person who endures it; in the second, that which is experienced rushes upon the sufferer with irresistible force, from the offended and now avenging Savior.  The one is a punishment only of this life, where alone sinners have the opportunity of stumbling on the rock of salvation, and consists in all the loss of peace, consolation and blessing, together with all that judicial blindness, bitterness of spirit, hardness of heart, and manifold disquietudes of mind, which inevitably blight and desolate the moral condition of those who resist the claims of Messiah.  The other punishment belongs to eternity, and consists in the fearful and everlasting retribution which Christ will inflict upon all His adversaries when He takes to Himself His power and great glory--consigning them to final perdition in utter darkness.  [9]

                        it will grind him to powder.  Literally, “it shall winnow him” (Jeremiah 31:10), with obvious reference to the great Image which “the stone cut without hands” smote and broke to pieces, so that its fragments became “like the chaff of the summer threshing floor, and the wind carried them away,” Daniel 2:35.  [56] 



20:19                                                   Translations

Weymouth:    At this the Scribes and the High Priests wanted to lay hands on Him, then and there; only they were afraid of the people. For they saw that in this parable He had referred to them.

WEB:              The chief priests and the scribes sought to lay hands on him that very hour, but they feared the people--for they knew he had spoken this parable against them.    

Young’s:         And the chief priests and the scribes sought to lay hands on him in that hour, and they feared the people, for they knew that against them he spake this simile.
Conte (RC):   And the leaders of the priests, and the scribes, were seeking to lay hands on him in that same hour, but they feared the people. For they realized that he had spoken this parable about them.


20:19               And the chief priests and the scribes the same hour sought to lay hands on him; and they feared the people.  Rather than delaying until a time they could get Jesus (relatively) alone, they were so provoked that “the same hour” they wished to strike out in rage.  All that held them back was their fear of not getting away with it:  “they feared the people.”  Try to grab Jesus under these public circumstances and after coming out second best in their collision with Jesus, ran the very real danger that the people who landed up injured and even dead could very well be them.  They were sitting on the proverbial keg of dynamite.  Did they really want to light the fuse?  [rw]

                        for they perceived that He had spoken this parable against them.   This parable has been        commonly interpreted in the following way:  The vineyard is the kingdom of God, first given in charge to the Jews, and then, after their rejection of Christ, to the Gentiles.  God prepared and planted this vineyard.  He fenced the Jewish people off from their neighbors (1) by placing them in such a secluded, defensible land; and (2) by surrounding them with the ceremonial law, "the middle wall of partition," and separating them from all idolatrous nations.  God looked for fruit, but got none; the people were unfaithful to their covenant.  He sent servants, prophets, and they were shamefully entreated.  The speech of Stephen before the Sanhedrin (Acts 7) is almost a sermon on this parable.  [6]


                        In context:  After this parable our Lord added the Parable of the Marriage of the King’s Son.  Thus in three continuous Parables He convicted the Priests and Scribes (1) of false professions; (2) of cruel faithlessness; (3) of blind presumption.  This with their public humiliation about John’s baptism made them thirst for speedy vengeance.  [56]



20:20                                                   Translations

Weymouth:    So, after impatiently watching their opportunity, they sent spies who were to act the part of good and honest men, that they might fasten on some expression of His, so as to hand Him over to the ruling power and the Governor's authority.

WEB:              They watched him, and sent out spies, who pretended to be righteous, that they might trap him in something he said, so as to deliver him up to the power and authority of the governor.           

Young’s:         And, having watched him, they sent forth liers in wait, feigning themselves to be righteous, that they might take hold of his word, to deliver him up to the rule and to the authority of the governor,
Conte (RC):   And being attentive, they sent traitors, who would pretend that they were just, so that they might catch him in his words and then hand him over to the power and authority of the procurator.


20:20               And they watched him.  Just because there was no safe way for them to directly intervene, they could still keep an eye on the “menace” and decide how what He does and what He says can be twisted against Him on some future occasion.  [rw]    

                        The incident now related took place on the Tuesday in Passion-week—the Day of Temptations, or insidious questions—the last and greatest day of the public ministry of Jesus.  On the previous evening He had again retired to the Mount of Olives, and in the morning the disciples remarked that the Fig-tree had withered.  He had scarcely arrived in the Temple when the plot of the Jewish rulers on the previous evening began to be carried out. [56] 

and sent forth spies, which should feign themselves just men, that they might take hold of his words.  Individuals who could pretend sincerity and in apparent “innocence” ask questions worded in a way that could gain answers hostile to the existing politico-religious system or which could be twisted in such a direction.  Then these “horrified innocents” could provide their “shocked” and “independent” verifying testimony to the governor.  [rw]

It is worthy of note that Luke says nothing of Pharisees here; only of chief priests and scribes.  So also in the preceding section, from verse 1.  He does not even mention them again through all these proceedings.  And here is, chronologically, the last reference to them by Matthew or Mark, until they come, with others, to Pilate (Matthew 27:62) about the body of Jesus.  John also alludes to them as now active only once (18:3).  The denunciation of the Pharisees, in Matthew 23, belongs to an earlier date.  [52]       

[However:]  From the other Synoptists we learn that among these lyers-in-wait were some who were disciples of the Pharisees, and some who were Herodians.  The former would share the spirit and represent the ability of the Pharisees, although, apparently, not full-fledged members of the sect (Matthew 22:16); and they could serve as witnesses on the Pharisaic side. The Herodians were such as originally supported the rule of the Herodian family; and, as this depended on the Roman power, they indirectly supported the Roman, as opposed to the patriotic rule.  They were thus at the opposite pole of political principle to the Pharisees; but common antagonism to Jesus, as a revolutionary made them one for the moment.  Their coming to Him in company might tend to throw Him off His guard; their consentient testimony, at all events, would have the greater weight.  [52]

just men.  Rather, “righteous;” ingenuous and scrupulous “disciples of the wise,” honestly seeking for instruction.  [56]

that so they might deliver Him.  They were apparently confident that they could find a situation where they could grab Jesus and arrest Him.  But what they needed was “evidence”—however creatively “massaged” it had to be—to make their hostility seem reasonable and Jesus’ behavior outrageous.  At the moment foes like this had only managed to humiliate themselves at His hands!  They are clearly working on the assumption that Herod will not have his own sources as to what happened and what lay behind their resentment—or, at worst, that their pressure will cause him to ignore it in the interest of stable relations with the religious leadership.  [rw]   

                        unto the power and authority of the governor.  The former, the Roman power in general; the latter, the specific authority of the official.  [2]



20:21                                                   Translations

Weymouth:    So they put a question to Him. "Rabbi," they said, "we know that you say and teach what is right and that you make no distinctions between one man and another, but teach God's way truly.

WEB:              They asked him, "Teacher, we know that you say and teach what is right, and aren't partial to anyone, but truly teach the way of God.

Young’s:         and they questioned him, saying, 'Teacher, we have known that thou dost say and teach rightly, and dost not accept a person, but in truth the way of God dost teach;
Conte (RC):   And they questioned him, saying: "Teacher, we know that you speak and teach correctly, and that you do not consider anyone's status, but you teach the way of God in truth.


20:21               And they asked him, saying, Master, we know that thou sayest and teachest rightly.  Their question is suspended [= accompanied] by a very adroit piece of flattery, which they might naturally suppose would be likely to throw Jesus off His guard.  [52]

neither acceptest thou the person of any, but teachest the way of God truly.  To accept the person was the same as “to respect persons”—a Hebrew expression for “to pervert justice in favor of any one,” to show partiality in pronouncing judgment.  They say, in effect, “We desire to know the honest truth, however, it may bear on our conduct, and are sure that thou art the teacher who can give it to us.”  [52] 

                        The word for “person” is prosopon, “a mask;” it is as though they would imply that Jesus was not only an Impartial Judge, too true for sycophancy, but also too keen-sighted to be deceived by hypocrisy.  And the one flighting word, “Ye hypocrites!” showed them that their words were truer than they had intended.  [56]



20:22                                                   Translations

Weymouth:    Is it allowable to pay a tax to Caesar, or not?"

WEB:              Is it lawful for us to pay taxes to Caesar, or not?"       

Young’s:         Is it lawful to us to give tribute to Caesar or not?'
Conte (RC):   Is it lawful for us to pay the tribute to Caesar, or not?"


20:22               Is it lawful to give tribute unto Caesar.  Pay taxes in their varied forms.  The ancients could be just as creative as we moderns in coming up with multiple ways to milk products of tax money—not to mention direct levies on the population.  [rw]     

Jewish patriots denounced tribute payment (1) because Roman money, stamped with the image of the Emperor, sinned against the Second Commandment; (2) because the Jewish land belonged to Jehovah, and could pay no secular taxes.  If Jesus said "No," the Herodians would denounce Him to Pilate the governor; if He said "Yes," the Pharisees would proclaim His apostasy to the people.  [6]

                        Or no?  They wanted a direct answer—no “ifs” or “buts” or hedging in any manner.  [rw]



20:23                                                   Translations

Weymouth:    But He saw through their knavery and replied,

WEB:              But he perceived their craftiness, and said to them, "Why do you test me?    

Young’s:         And he, having perceived their craftiness, said unto them, 'Why me do ye tempt?
Conte (RC):   But realizing their deceitfulness, he said to them: "Why do you test me?


20:23               But He perceived.  He wasn’t fooled for a second.  He could tell full well what was going on.  Trying to “blind side” a person usually doesn’t work so well when he is already aware what they are trying to do so!  [rw]

                        their craftiness.  From πᾶν, every, and ἔργον, deed. Readiness for every and any deed. Hence unscrupulousness, and so, generally, knavery.  [2]

                        These Pharisees were illustrating the truth that “no form of self-deceit is more hateful than that which veils spite and falsehood under the guise of frankness, and behind the profession of religion.”  [56]

                        and said unto them, Why tempt ye Me?  I know you are up to no good.  You know you are up to no good.  If the crowd is thinking clearly, they know you are acting brazenly insincerely as well.  So why do you dare try it?  Do you dare share the real motive behind you—or are you afraid to answer My simple question? Presumably not getting an answer—perhaps pausing for a few seconds to make plain there wasn’t going to be one, He promptly goes on and gives them an answer anyway.  But, conspicuously, not one that is going to do their troublemaking any good.  [rw]



20:24                                                   Translations

Weymouth:    "Show me a shilling; whose likeness and inscription does it bear?" "Caesar's," they said.

WEB:              Show me a denarius. Whose image and inscription are on it?" They answered, "Caesar's."   

Young’s:         shew me a denary; of whom hath it an image and superscription?' and they answering said, 'Of Caesar:'
Conte (RC):   Show me a denarius. Whose image and inscription does it have?" In response, they said to him, "Caesar's."


20:24               Shew me a penny.  A denarius.  This coin would be appropriate, as a unit in the reckoning of the taxes and tolls.  [52]

                        We see from Mark 12:15, 16 that they were obliged to borrow the heathen coin from one of the tables of the money-changers.  They would only carry Jewish money in their own girdles. [56]

Whose image and superscription hath it?  The coin current in their country, bearing the likeness of the Emperor for the time being, would be a proof that he was sovereign over them, and prepare the way for the admirable solution of their question which is to follow.  [52]

 They answered and said, Caesar's.  The coin produced would probably be one of Tiberius, the reigning Emperor.  Caesar was the dynastic designation of the Emperors, like Kaiser in Germany, Zar in Russia, and not a personal name.  [52] 



20:25                                                   Translations

Weymouth:    "Pay therefore," He replied, "what is Caesar's to Caesar--and what is God's to God."

WEB:              He said to them, "Then give to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's."        

Young’s:         and he said to them, 'Give back, therefore, the things of Caesar to Caesar, and the things of God to God;'
Conte (RC):   And so, he said to them: "Then repay the things that are Caesar's, to Caesar, and the things that are God's, to God."


20:25               And he said unto them, Render therefore unto Caesar the things which be Caesar's.  Paul very clearly enforces the same duty in Romans 13:6, 7.  The “tribute” in Matthew 17:24 was quite different; it was the Temple didrachma.  [56]

                        and unto God the things which be God's.  "Give back to God that which has the image and superscription of God, the soul" (Erasmus).  All men owe something to what represents social order; but there is a wider life, in which they also live, and which extends beyond time.  They owe duties to it also, and to God their Maker and Redeemer.  [6]

                        To Caesar you owe what he demands of his own coinage; to the Temple the tribute which you can only pay in the shekel of the sanctuary; to God you owe yourselves.  Pay to Caesar the coins which bear his stamp, to God the duties of your own souls which bear His image. [56] 



20:26                                                   Translations

Weymouth:    There was nothing here that they could lay hold of before the people, and marvelling at His answer they said no more.

WEB:              They weren't able to trap him in his words before the people. They marveled at his answer, and were silent.       

Young’s:         and they were not able to take hold on his saying before the people, and having wondered at his answer, they were silent.
Conte (RC):   And they were not able to contradict his word before the people. And being amazed at his answer, they were silent.


20:26               And they could not take hold of His words before the people.  They had nothing usable that could be used effectively against him.  A “sure fire” question that “could not fail” to compromise His acceptance had been nothing short of a dud that refused to explode.  [rw] 

                        They thought that escape was impossible for Him; and yet He instantly shatters their deeply-laid plot to pieces by showing that they—Pharisees and Herodians alike—had absolutely decided the question already (according to their own rule “He whose coin is current is king of the land”), so that there is no need for Him to give any opinion whatever about it.  The point was this,--their national acceptance of Caesar’s coinage was an unanswerable admission of Caesar’s right.  Tribute to them was no longer a cheerful offering, but a legal due; not a voluntary gift, but a political necessity.  The very word He used was decisive.  They has asked “Is it lawful to give (dounai)?”  He answers, “Give back” (apodote).  By using these coins they all alike admitted that “they had no king but Caesar.”  The Christians understood the principle perfectly (1 Peter 2:13, 14) as the ancient Jews had done (Jeremiah 27:4-8).  Yet these hypocrites dared to shout three days afterwards that Jesus “had forbidden to give tribute to Caesar!”  [56]

and they marvelled at His answer, and held their peace.  They had nothing with which to criticize Him and since they refused to build up His reputation by conceding the wisdom of the response, they were left with only one thing—to say nothing at all.  [rw]

                        “They left Him, and went their way” (Matthew 22:22).  This was the end of any attempt proceeding from the Pharisaic party.  [52]                                   



20:27                                                   Translations

Weymouth:    Next some of the Sadducees came forward (who deny that there is a Resurrection)

WEB:              Some of the Sadducees came to him, those who deny that there is a resurrection.

Young’s:         And certain of the Sadducees, who are denying that there is a rising again, having come near, questioned him,
Conte (RC):   Now some of the Sadducees, who deny that there is a resurrection, approached him. And they questioned him,


20:27               Then came to him certain of the Sadducees.  (Zadokite priests) consisted mainly of certain aristocratic priestly families (Acts 4:6) who held almost a monopoly of the high priesthood, and who played an influential and active part in the Sanhedrin, which under the Romans wielded considerable power.  They were typical opportunists, and were bent above all things on keeping their own rights and privileges.  Hence they were sensitive on the subject of popular disorder, which was likely to serve as an excuse to the Romans for displacing them (John 11:48).  [41] 

                        They were undeterred by the discomfiture of the Pharisees and Herodians, and perhaps their plot had been so arranged as coincidently to humiliate our Lord, if they could, by a difficult question, and so shake His credit with the people.  Some have supposed that the memorable incident of the Woman taken in Adultery (John 8:1-11) also took place on this day; in which case there would have been three temptations of Christ:  one political, one doctrinal, and one speculative.  But that incident rose spontaneously, whereas these had been pre-arranged.  [56]

                        which deny that there is any resurrection.  As central to as the authority of tradition was to the Pharisees, the denial of the resurrection was to the Sadducees.  [rw]    

                        They refused to see any proof of it in the Books of Moses; and to the Prophets and the other books they only attached a subordinate importance.  Their question was inspired less by deadly hatred than by scorn.  Wealthy and powerful, they only professed to despise Jesus, up to this time, as a “Prophet of Nazareth,” though now they became His main murderers.  They are not so much as mentioned by John, and very slightly by Mark and Luke, nor did Christ utter against them the same denunciations as against the Pharisees, who were His daily opponents.  All the leading families of high priests at this time were Sadducees, and—except where it comes into direct collision with religion—Epicurean worldliness is more tolerant than interested fanaticism.  [56]    

                        and they asked Him.  Unlike the Pharisees’ question, this one was to have no pretense of being a genuine query as to what was truth.  This one was targeted to prove Jesus’ convictions wrong and inherently ludicrous.  If you can get people to laugh at an answer, you don’t have to worry about arguing its validity!  [rw] 


                        In depth:  The roots and convictions of the Sadducees [52].  They appear obscurely, first about the middle of the second century before Christ, as the priestly part of the Asmonaean rulers.  Around them gathered a small but powerful number of the worldly rich, and influential officials of the commonwealth.  They were in some sense politic-religious liberals.  Against the tendency of the Pharisees to multiply traditional precepts, “fencing” the law, and to sharpen the distinctions which should naturally separate the Jews from other nations, they favored freedom from other restrictions than those who were expressly commended in the law; and although rigid in their interpretation of some of these requirements, were inclined, generally speaking, to let down the barriers between themselves and the heathen, and, at times, to make very little of the Jewish peculiarities.

                        What was at first a practical tendency, the result of inclination and regard for personal interest, would eventually work out principles for itself.  What was at first largely political and secular in their course could not fail, in a period of such intense popular religiousness, to take on also a religious character.  The rule of their development, in every respect, was antithesis to the principles and movement of the Pharisees.  For a considerable period the fortunes of the nation varied with the varying preponderance of the two parties in the government of the state. 

More particularly, as to their principles, we see both by inevitable inference from what is explicitly told us about them, and from the utter absence of any contrary intimation:   

                        1.  That they took no account of a Messiah to come.  This would be enough of itself to justify our Saviour’s warning to His disciples to beware of their teaching and influence (Matthew 16:6, 11, 12).  They are by Him associated with the Pharisees, not as similar, but antithetical, and complementary, so that between them they represented all opposition to the gospel.

                        2.  Josephus tells us that they rejected the fiction of the Pharisees concerning a body of unwritten laws, or precepts, handed down from Moses through the elders of the people.  Herein they had the full support of Jesus in his condemnation of their “traditions,” which so often made void the true law of God.  They may probably at first have claimed to be bound only by the plain requirements of their ancient Scriptures; but finding their spontaneous tendency in practice to be hampered by the prophetic teachings, it is exceedingly probable, though not stated, that they shortened their rule of life to the Five Books of Moses.

                        3.  From Luke we learn, in the passage before us, and from Acts 23:8 (compare also 4:1, 2), that they denied the doctrine of the resurrection.  Josephus says the same, and furthermore, that they disbelieved the immortality of the soul.  As he belonged to the Pharisaic party, we cannot be certain just what abatement is to be made from his statements on the latter point.  We can easily suppose from their almost certain undervaluation of the other Scriptures, compared with the Pentateuch, that they would maintain that there was no clearly revealed proof of any resurrection.  That their skepticism should have gone so far as to reject (Acts 23:8) the existence of “angel” and “spirit,” namely, a supermundane, finite spirit, can with difficulty be reconciled with faith, even in the Pentateuch.  Indeed, we greatly lack the means of making out completely any article of their doctrinal system. 

                        4.  One other thing of some importance we are told by Josephus:  that they held to the absolute freedom of a man to will good or evil, unhelped and unhindered by any Divine Providence, or power of fate; the latter meaning, probably, any Divine decree.  Hence, a man’s fortunes were in His own hand.  Rewards and punishments must all come in the present life; therefore, the man who prospered proved that he had chosen right; and if he was poor, or otherwise unfortunate, he was, as he ought to be, simply reaping the fruit of his character and acts.  It was, accordingly, quite natural that the Sadducees should be charged with harshness toward the poor, and unrelenting severity against those who had broken the laws.  This is of interest, when we learn that Annas and Caiaphas, at the time of Christ’s trial, were Sadducees, “and all that were with them” in the Sanhedrin (Acts 5:17).  It was the Pharisees in this Council, if ever any, who inclined to leniency in judgment of the accused (Acts 5:33ff; 23:9).

                        There were priests among the Pharisees, also; but not generally those of the highest rank, or wealth, or power.  The Sadducees desired the welfare of their country, but through worldly policy, and for temporal advantage; the Pharisees, through the favor of God toward their scrupulous piety, and in the expectation of Messianic rewards.

                        If we were to guess which is right among the three conjectures that have been put forth in reward to the origin of the name Sadducees, we should side with those who think it to be from the Hebrew root for “righteous.” 



20:28                                                   Translations

Weymouth:    "Rabbi, Moses made it a law for us that if a man's brother should die, leaving a wife but no children, the man shall marry the widow and raise up a family for his brother.

WEB:              They asked him, "Teacher, Moses wrote to us that if a man's brother dies having a wife, and he is childless, his brother should take the wife, and raise up children for his brother.

Young’s:         saying, 'Teacher, Moses wrote to us, If any one's brother may die, having a wife, and he may die childless -- that his brother may take the wife, and may raise up seed to his brother.
Conte (RC):   saying: "Teacher, Moses wrote for us: If any man's brother will have died, having a wife, and if he does not have any children, then his brother should take her as his wife, and he should raise up offspring for his brother.


20:28               Saying, Master, Moses wrote unto us.  Recognizing only the five books of Moses as Divinely authoritative, it is natural that they invoke a text from these books.  To go anywhere else would open them to the counter charge of “recognizing as authoritative” what they rejected.  Their obvious objection to a resurrection from the passage would be that all were equally justified in claiming her as wife.  Since the problem is incapable of clear-cut, logical resolution, therefore there can be no physical resurrection so that marriage can continue.  Nor was there any precedent in Jewish tradition for a woman being the wife of multiple husbands at the same time although polygamy permitted the husband to have multiple wives.   Hence that alternative could not be argued; it was simply not within their mind-frame of possible options.

 Jesus beheads the Sadducee argument by contending that marriage is unique to the present world and will not exist in the next, making their objection totally irrelevant.  If a resurrection were to occur at all, they assumed that marriage had to continue as well.  Deny their assumption and it is they who have no argument left. [rw]    

If any man's brother die, having a wife, and he die without children, that his brother should take his wife, and raise up seed unto his brother.  They refer to the provision of the Mosaic law (Deuteronomy 25:5) concerning levirate marriages.  According to that, in order apparently to preserve the family estate in the land, as well as the name of each individual proprietor, when a man died childless, his brother (the eldest, probably, by preference, whether already married or not), should take the widow to wife, and the first born son should be reckoned, not as his, but the son of the former husband, and inherit his name.  This had probably been an ancient usage of the Hebrews, as of some other nations, and would be less remarkable in a society where polygamy was practiced, and not forbidden in the law.  [52]  



20:29                                                   Translations

Weymouth:    Now there were seven brothers. The first of them took a wife and died childless.

WEB:              There were therefore seven brothers. The first took a wife, and died childless.

Young’s:         'There were, then, seven brothers, and the first having taken a wife, died childless,
Conte (RC):   And so there were seven brothers. And the first took a wife, and he died without sons.


20:29               There were therefore seven brethren.  Not exceptional in that age.  With death in childbirth or in early years due to disease, raising as many children as one could was an economic and familial survival device.  [rw]

                        In Matthew 22:25 it runs “there were with us,” as though they were alluding to an actual case.  [56]

and the first took a wife, and died without children.  Whether due to illness, injury, war, or some other means is irrelevant.  Such things happen; therefore there is no need for details.  [rw]



20:30                                                   Translations

Weymouth:    The second and the third also took her;

WEB:              The second took her as wife, and he died childless.            

Young’s:         and the second took the wife, and he died childless,
Conte (RC):   And the next one married her, and he also died without a son.


20:30               And the second took her to wife, and he died childless.  Again, far from impossible but unexpected and surely emotionally humiliating to the wife since this marriage was for a specific purpose and it had failed to occur.  [rw]



20:31                                                   Translations

Weymouth:    and all seven, having done the same, left no children when they died.

WEB:              The third took her, and likewise the seven all left no children, and died. 

Young’s:         and the third took her, and in like manner also the seven -- they left not children, and they died;
Conte (RC):   And the third married her, and similarly all seven, and none of them left behind any offspring, and they each died.


20:31               And the third took her; and in like manner the seven also: and they left no children, and died.  Barring death in war, the probability of seven different men marrying the same woman in her child-bearing years and her becoming pregnant by none of them does seem to push probability near the breaking point.  Perhaps this was even their intent:  “Imagine as many opportunities as possible and there is still no child!”  [rw]


                        In depth:  The reining in of the levirate marriage obligation [38].  The story under which the Sadducees conveyed their sneer was also intended covertly to strike at their Pharisaic opponents.  The ancient ordinance of marrying a brother's childless widow (Deuteronomy 25:5ff) had more and more fallen into discredit, as its original motive ceased to have influence.  A large array of limitations narrowed the number of those on whom this obligation now devolved. 

Then the Mishnah laid it down that, in ancient times, when the ordinance of such marriage was obeyed in the spirit of the Law, its obligation took precedence of the permission of dispensation, but that afterwards this relationship became reversed (Bekhor 1.7).  Later authorities went further.  Some declared every such union, if for beauty, wealth, or any other than religious motives, as incestuous, while one Rabbi absolutely prohibited it, although opinions continued divided on the subject. 

The Talmud has it that the woman must have no child at all--not merely no son.  It was also laid down that, if a woman had lost two husbands, she should not marry a third--according to others, if she had married three, not a fourth, as there might be some fate connected with her (Yeb. 64b).  What here most interests us is, that what are called in the Talmud the "Samaritans," but, as we judge, the Sadducees, held the opinion that the command to marry a brother's widow only applied to a betrothed wife, not to one that had actually been wedded. 



20:32                                                   Translations

Weymouth:    Finally the woman also died.

WEB:              Afterward the woman also died.

Young’s:         and last of all died also the woman:
Conte (RC):   Last of all, the woman also died.


20:32               Last of all the woman died also.  All of the men she was supposed to marry, she married.  And even if one wished to conjure up some fanciful available male kin who aren’t the original husband’s brother but cousins or the such like—well marriage of any kind is now ruled out.  She herself is dead as well!  [rw]   



20:33                                                   Translations

Weymouth:    The woman, then--at the Resurrection--whose wife shall she be? for they all seven married her."

WEB:              Therefore in the resurrection whose wife of them will she be? For the seven had her as a wife." 

Young’s:         in the rising again, then, of which of them doth she become wife? -- for the seven had her as wife.'
Conte (RC):   In the resurrection, then, whose wife will she be? For certainly all seven had her as a wife."


20:33               Therefore in the resurrection whose wife of them is she?  for seven had her to wife.  This question about the husband of the “Sevenfold widow” was one of the materialistic objections to the Resurrection, which as an insipid “difficulty” had often been discussed in Jewish schools.  It was excessively commonplace, and even if Jesus had given the answer which contented the most eminent Rabbis of the Pharisaic schools—that the woman would be the wife of the first husband—it is hard to see what triumph these shallow Epicureans (as the Talmud calls them) would have gained by their question.  [56] 

Or:  Since the controversy was not a new one, how would His embracing a popular answer they did not accept fatally undermine His credibility?  Hence it would seem likely that they intended this question to be the “opening shot” in a longer and more sustained assault.  What else they had in mind has to be purely speculative, of course.  But one could easily imagine them next arguing that since she had “refused” to accept her child-bearing responsibilities, why should she be permitted a return to this world?  Or, if one wished to put the blame on the husbands, why should any of them be permitted a second life?  Why should anyone expect it will be different in the coming new world?

One can also imagine them challenging her returning to any of her original mates (and their accepting her back!) since the Law had spoken harsh words—though in the different context of divorce—against wives returning to an earlier husband--he “may not take her again to be his wife,” Deuteronomy 24:4.  How then could any of her former husbands remarry her?  Why then could they possibly be resurrected either?  Even if, somehow, there could be a resurrection these people had disqualified themselves for it!  And if some are not to be resurrected, why should we expect anyone to be?  [rw] 



20:34                                                   Translations

Weymouth:    "The men of this age," replied Jesus, "marry, and the women are given in marriage.

WEB:              Jesus said to them, "The children of this age marry, and are given in marriage. 

Young’s:         And Jesus answering said to them, 'The sons of this age do marry and are given in marriage,
Conte (RC):   And so, Jesus said to them: "The children of this age marry and are given in marriage.


20:34               And Jesus answering said unto them, The children of this world marry.  Marriage is, according to our Lord’s teaching, but a temporary expedient to preserve the human race, to which death would soon put an end.  But in the world to come there will be no death and no marriage.  We may assume from his words here that the difference between the sexes will have ceased to exist.  [18]

                        Or, at least, that the nature of the sexual instinct and drive will be drastically altered.  For that matter, is there not a kind of precedent for this . . . for many in the current life it may be altered or the capacity physically diminished with aging . . . and other aspects of “loving” come to occupy center stage?  [rw]

                        and are given in marriage.  In this life the two go hand in hand, one preparing for the other:  giving in marriage (betrothal or an equivalent) and marriage.  Specifying both elements may be Jesus’ way of pointing out that new marriages won’t occur either.  It’s not just a matter of whether old ones are preserved or renewed but also of new marriages being created.  [rw]  



20:35                                                   Translations

Weymouth:    But as for those who shall have been deemed worthy to find a place in that other age and in the Resurrection from among the dead, the men do not marry and the women are not given in marriage.

WEB:              But those who are considered worthy to attain to that age and the resurrection from the dead, neither marry, nor are given in marriage.    

Young’s:         but those accounted worthy to obtain that age, and the rising again that is out of the dead, neither marry, nor are they given in marriage;
Conte (RC):   Yet truly, those who shall be held worthy of that age, and of the resurrection from the dead, will neither be married, nor take wives.


20:35               But they which shall be accounted worthy to obtain that world. Although “age” is a quite proper and popular translation for “world,” does it really do justice for the change in human nature and relationships implied . . . for a place where marriage does not occur and our sexuality (if it continues to exist) has been so recast that the need for a marital relationship no longer exists?  We think of “age” as a period of time; this kind of radical change (and who knows how many others!) is such a drastic rupture with past “ages” that the nomenclature of “a new world” seems required to adequate express the degree of change.  [rw]

and the resurrection from the dead.  When one thinks of a world so drastically recast, one can understand not only the possibility but the essentiality of a physical resurrection—to provide a time and place to alter our outer and inner natures into a form compatible with our new abode.  [rw]

neither marry, nor are given in marriage.  Jesus fundamentally pulled the “rug” out from beneath the Sadducees.  They assumed—as, it appears, did those affirming the doctrine of physical resurrection—that the new world would continue with the same characteristics of the current one, including the marriage unit.  Although we typically think of His words as a stirring challenge to the beliefs of the Sadducees was it not also to the bulk of believers in a physical resurrection?  Would not most of them naturally reason:  Why should the physical body be brought back unless our current physical type world and relationships are revived as well?  To which Jesus, in effect, argues that the entire reality in which we will live will also be fundamentally altered beyond anything we can now see, hear, touch, or feel.  [rw]  



20:36                                                   Translations

Weymouth:    For indeed they cannot die again; they are like angels, and are sons of God through being sons of the Resurrection.

WEB:              For they can't die any more, for they are like the angels, and are children of God, being children of the resurrection.

Young’s:         for neither are they able to die any more -- for they are like messengers -- and they are sons of God, being sons of the rising again.
Conte (RC):   For they can no longer die. For they are equal to the Angels, and they are children of God, since they are children of the resurrection.


20:36               Neither can they die any more.  Marriage is ordained to perpetuate the human family; but as there will be no breaches by death in the future state, this ordinance will cease.  [16]

                        Soul and body are made incapable of separation, and both incapable of disintegration or extinction.  Death from violence, either from others or their own efforts, is impossible, and out of their natures.  [14]

                        for they are equal unto the angels.  Equal with the angels in being immortal; no death; no marriage.  Jesus in this place asserts that angels have a body, but are exempt from any difference of sex.  The angels are here introduced because our Lord was speaking with Sadducees, who (Acts xxiii. 8) denied the existence of these glorious beings.  [18] 

                        Like the angels in being immortal, but superior to them in privileges (Hebrews 1:4, 2:5-8).  “When He shall appear, we shall be like Him; for we shall see Him as He is,” 1 John 3:2.  In this one word our Lord refutes the Sadducean denial of the existence of angels, Acts 23:8; and incidentally those material notions of future bliss (14:15) which all the Jews held.  [56]

                        and are the children of God.  Not in respect of character but nature, "being the children of the resurrection" to an undecaying existence (Romans 8:21, 23).  And thus the children of their Father's immortality (1 Timothy 6:16).  [16]

being the children of the resurrection.  That is to say, owing that life, not to any human or created parentage, but to the power working in their resurrection, which power is God’s; [hence] they are the “sons of God,” and so immortal.  [52] 



20:37                                                   Translations

Weymouth:    But that the dead rise to life even Moses clearly implies in the passage about the Bush, where he calls the Lord 'The God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.'

WEB:              But that the dead are raised, even Moses showed at the bush, when he called the Lord 'The God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.'          

Young’s:         'And that the dead are raised, even Moses shewed at the Bush, since he doth call the Lord, the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob;
Conte (RC):   For in truth, the dead do rise again, as Moses also showed beside the bush, when he called the Lord: 'The God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.'


20:37               Now that the dead are raised.  They had given Scripture with no direct reference to the issue at hand, but had gone on to make an argument based on inference.  Now Jesus will do the same.  [rw]

                        Literally, “are being raised”—the present of eternal certainty.  [56]

                        even Moses shewed.  St Jerome says:  "In proof of the resurrection there were many plainer passages which He might have cited, as in Isaiah, Job, and Daniel.  It is inquired therefore why the Lord should have chosen this testimony which seems ambiguous, and not sufficiently belonging to the truth of the resurrection.  But the Sadducees received only the five books of Moses (as of supreme authority), rejecting the prophets.  It would have been foolish therefore to have brought forward testimonies whose authority they did not admit."  [30]  

                        A more cautious approach to what the chosen text shows about the limits of the Sadducian canon:  This does not prove that the Sadducees held that only the Pentateuch was sacred and authoritative, however this may have been; but it asserts that, without looking further into the Scriptures, even in one of its first books [the resurrection was taught].  [52]

                        shewed.  The Greek verb means “disclosed,” “gave the means of knowing.”  [52]

                        at the bush.  The expression, “at the bush,” should be rendered “in the Bush,” that is, in that division of Exodus so named.  So the Jews termed 2 Sam. i. and following verses “the Bow;  Ezek. i. and following section, “the Chariot.”  [18]

                        “At the bush” = in that part of the Scripture which treats of God’s interview with Moses in the Burning Bush (Exodus 3:2-6).  Before the convenience of division into chapters and verses was known, the Hebrews referred vaguely to a considerable section of their Bible by naming some prominent feature of the record there, as the Bush, in this place. [52]  

                        when he calleth the Lord the God of Abraham.  He did not say "the God of Abraham's soul," but simply of Abraham.  He blest Abraham, and He gave Him eternal life; not to his soul only, without his body, but to Abraham, as one man.  He here seems to intimate, that the body never really dies; that we lose sight indeed of what we are accustomed to see, but that God still sees the elements of it, which are not exposed to our senses. —J. H. Newman.  [36]

                        and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.  What was true of one of them was true of all of them.  Eternal existence was not limited to one specific person in one specific age, but continued in following generations as well.  They could have dodged this by insisting that it only referred to the perpetual existence of the soul, but that was not open to them since they denied both that and the resurrection.  It seems clear that, to Jesus, the only way to really believe in unending life is if both the inner being continues and, ultimately, is reunited with its former body.  [rw]

                        An alternate possible dodge:  the text only affirms God’s unending existence:  The Sadducees might have been ready to dull the edge of His proof by alleging that this language meant that God, in speaking to Moses, was the same God who had been worshiped by Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, successively, during their lives.  Our Saviour, with a Divine insight, perceives that such a view stripped the declaration of all reason and value, in relation to those to whom it was addressed.  Of what consequence was it to Moses and his people, to be informed that the God who now summoned them to a task of enormous hardship, hazard, and privation, had been the God of men preceding them, whom He had left to death and annihilation?  No; they still lived; for “he is not a God of the dead, but of the living” (verse 38).  The article is wanting in the Greek:  “Of dead, of living persons.”  [52]


                        In depth:  The inevitability of belief in soul survival and resurrection arising from the Jewish Scriptures  [1].  How it can be supposed that the ancient Jewish Church had no distinct notion of the resurrection of the dead is to me truly surprising.  The justice of God, so peculiarly conspicuous under the old covenant, might have led the people to infer that there must be a resurrection of the dead, if even the passage to which our Lord refers had not made a part of their law.

As the body makes a part of the man, justice requires that not only they who are martyrs for the testimony of God, but also all those who have devoted their lives to His service, and died in His yoke, should have their bodies raised again.  The justice of God is as much concerned in the resurrection of the dead, as either his power or mercy.

To be freed from earthly encumbrances, earthly passions, bodily infirmities, sickness; and death, to be brought into a state of conscious existence, with a refined body and a sublime soul, both immortal, and both ineffably happy--how glorious the privilege!



20:38                                                   Translations

Weymouth:    He is not a God of dead, but of living men, for to Him are all living."

WEB:              Now he is not the God of the dead, but of the living, for all are alive to him."

Young’s:         and He is not a God of dead men, but of living, for all live to Him.'
Conte (RC):   And so he is not the God of the dead, but of the living. For all are alive to him."


20:38               For He is not a God of the dead, but of the living.  More accurately rendered, not a God of dead beings, but of living beings.  The meaning of the Lord’s argument is, “God would never have called himself the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob, if these patriarchs, after their short lives, had become mere crumbling dust.  Josephus writes:  “They who die for God’s sake live unto God as Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and all the patriarchs.”  [18]

                        for all live unto Him.  There is a remarkable passage in Josephus's account of the Maccabees, chapter xvi., which proves that the best informed Jews believed that the souls of righteous men were in the presence of God in a state of happiness. "They who lose their lives for the sake of God, live unto God, as do Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and the rest of the patriarchs."

And one not less remarkable in Shemoth Rabba, "Rabbi Abbin saith, The Lord said unto Moses, Find me out ten righteous persons among the people, and I will not destroy thy people. Then said Moses, Behold, here am I, Aaron, Eleazar, Ithamar, Phineas, Caleb, and Joshua; but God said, Here are but seven, where are the other three? When Moses knew not what to do, he said, O Eternal God, do those live that are dead! Yes, saith God. Then said Moses, If those that are dead do live, remember Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob." So the resurrection of the dead, and the immortality and immateriality of the soul, were not strange or unknown doctrines among the Jews.  [1]



20:39                                                   Translations

Weymouth:    Then some of the Scribes replied, "Rabbi, you have spoken well."

WEB:              Some of the scribes answered, "Teacher, you speak well." 

Young’s:         And certain of the scribes answering said, 'Teacher, thou didst say well;'
Conte (RC):   Then some of the scribes, in response, said to him, "Teacher, you have spoken well."


20:39               Then certain of the scribes.  Certain,” which seems to rightly imply “a limited number of those present.”  [rw]

                        The scribes were Pharisaic in their views and practice, and would sincerely rejoice in the refutation of the Sadducees.  Still, it implied unusual frankness and liberality on the part of these few, that they should express their sentiments in Christ’s favor now.  [52]

answering said, Master, thou hast well said.  Enjoying His victory over the Sadducees.  [16]



20:40                                                   Translations

Weymouth:    From that time, however, no one ventured to challenge Him with a single question.

WEB:              They didn't dare to ask him any more questions.      

Young’s:         and no more durst they question him anything.
Conte (RC):   And they no longer dared to question him about anything.


20:40               And after that they durst not ask him any question at all.  It is common for the harmonizers to place before this verse the question of a scribe concerning the greatest commandment (Matthew 22:34ff.; Mark 12:28ff.).  If it were certain that this occurred so late, we must suppose Luke to have spoken of those questions which he knew, excluding this; or that he regarded this as substantially identical with what he had before narrated, and not having a different intention from the former questions of this chapter.  All parties had now been utterly foiled in their attempt to harm Him.  [52] 



20:41                                                   Translations

Weymouth:    But He asked them, "How is it they say that the Christ is a son of David?

WEB:              He said to them, "Why do they say that the Christ is David's son?         

Young’s:         And he said unto them, 'How do they say the Christ to be son of David,
Conte (RC):   But he said to them: "How can they say that the Christ is the son of David?


20:41               And He said unto them, How say they.  The “they” is not specified—scribes, Pharisees, Sadducees, or even the broader group of rabbis in general?  As we have the question in Luke, it is “open ended”—a request for information (that He is going to use to guide their thinking) and not simply laying the platform for the criticism of one particular faction within contemporary Judaism.  [rw]

that Christ.  The Anointed, the Messiah of the Old Testament. [52]

is David's son?  The question shows that the Jewish teachers interpreted the prophecies as indicating that the Messiah would be of the offspring of David.  But how do they reconcile that with other statements of Scripture?  [52]



20:42                                                   Translations

Weymouth:    Why, David himself says in the Book of Psalms, "'The Lord said to my Lord, Sit at My right hand

WEB:              David himself says in the book of Psalms, 'The Lord said to my Lord, "Sit at my right hand,  

Young’s:         and David himself saith in the Book of Psalms, The Lord said to my lord, Sit thou on my right hand,
Conte (RC):   Even David himself says, in the book of Psalms: 'The Lord said to my Lord, sit at my right hand,


20:42               And David himself saith in the book of Psalms The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit thou on My right hand.  The Hebrew runs thus:  “Jehovah said to my Lord (Adonai),  The Eternal is represented as speaking to David’s Lord, who is also David’s Son (this appears clearer in St. Matthew’s account, xxii. 41-46).  The Eternal addresses this Person as One raised to sit by him, that is, as a Participator in his all-power, and yet this one is also David’s Son!  [18] 


                        In depth:  Psalms 110 required by its contents to be Messianic prophecy [13].  The non-Messianic explanations of Psalms 110 are the masterpiece of rationalistic arbitrariness.  They begin by giving to [the Hebrew heading to the Psalm] the meaning, "addressed to David," instead of "composed by David," contrary to the uniform sense of the [Hebrew] in the titles of the Psalms, and that to make David the subject of the Psalm, which would be impossible, if he were its author (Ewald).  And as this interpretation turns out to be untenable, for David was never a priest (verse 4:  "Thou art a priest forever"), they transfer the composition of the Psalm to the age of the Maccabees, and suppose it addressed by some author or other to Jonathan, the brother of Judas Maccabeus, of the priestly race.  This person, who never even bore the title of king, is the man whom an unknown flatterer is supposed, according to Hitzig, to celebrate as seated at Jehovah's right hand!

                        It is impossible to cast a glance at the contents of the Psalm without recognizing its directly Messianic bearing: 

                        1.  A Lord of David;

                        2.  Raised to Jehovah's throne, that is to say, to participation in omnipotence;

                        3.  Setting out from Zion on the conquest of the world, overthrowing the kings of the earth (verse 4), judging the nations (verse 5), and that by means of an             army of priests clothed in their sacerdotal garments (verse 3).

                        4.  Himself at once a priest and a king, like Melchisedec before Him. 

                        The Law, by placing the kingly power in the tribe of Judah, and the priesthood in that of Levi, had raised an insurmountable barrier between these two offices.  This separation David must often have felt with pain.  Uzziah attempted to do away with it; but he was immediately visited with punishment.  It was reserved for the Messiah alone, at the close of the theocracy, to reproduce the sublime type of the King-Priest, presented at the date of its origin in the person of Meldhisedec.  Compare on the future reunion of those two offices in the Messiah, the wonderful prophecy of Zechariah 6:9-15.      



20:43                                                   Translations

Weymouth:    Until I have made thy foes a footstool under they feet.'

WEB:              until I make your enemies the footstool of your feet."'       

Young’s:         till I shall make thine enemies thy footstool;
Conte (RC):   until I set your enemies as your footstool.'


20:43               Till I make Thine enemies Thy footstool.  Allusion to the practice of ancient conquers placing feet on the neck of defeated kings (Joshua 10:24).  "For He must reign, till He hath put all enemies under His feet" (1 Corinthians 15:25).  [7]

20:44                                                   Translations

Weymouth:    "David himself therefore calls Him Lord, and how can He be his son?"

WEB:              "David therefore calls him Lord, so how is he his son?"   

Young’s:         David, then, doth call him lord, and how is he his son?'
Conte (RC):   Therefore, David calls him Lord. So how can he be his son?"


20:44               David therefore calleth him Lord, how is he then his son?  That Jesus was the acknowledged descendant of David during his earthly ministry, is indisputable; we need but refer to the cries of the populace on Palm Sunday, the words of the woman of Canaan, of blind Bartimaus, and others.  History bears its witness to the same fact.  The Emperor Domitian, it is well known, summoned the kinsmen of Jesus, the sons of Jude, his so-called brother, to Rome as “the sons of David.”  [18]

                        Argument from the prophecy that it requires a Messiah with a dual nature:  [“How is he then his son?”]  How, indeed, except as the bearer of two characters—that of his son by natural descent, that of his Lord, as sharing in the Divine nature, by which he is qualified to sit at the right hand of Jehovah and wield the government over his subjects, some of whom are in rebellion against him (Psalms 110:5, 6; compare Psalms 2).  Jesus does not answer the question, but leaves it for them to answer.  He had claimed the honor due to the Messiah (19:38-40), born in Bethlehem, of the seed of David, and had shown at the same time that they were about to put Him to death.  Could it be that they would murder Him whom David had worshiped as his Lord?  Whether the thought of such a thing came into their minds, we cannot say.  At all events, they made no answer.  Answering as well as questioning, in the way of argument, was done with between them and Christ.  [52] 



20:45                                                   Translations

Weymouth:    Then, in the hearing of all the people, He said to the disciples,

WEB:              In the hearing of all the people, he said to his disciples,  

Young’s:         And, all the people hearing, he said to his disciples,
Conte (RC):   Now in the hearing of all the people, he said to his disciples:


20:45               Then in the audience of all the people He said unto His disciples.  This was to be a teaching that, though important to the disciples, was of such wide-spread and immediate relevance that He had to make the effort to implicitly warn outsiders as well:  Sometimes those you honor the most and give the most show of respect to, have removed from their character key elements of what is required to earn and deserve that respect.  If that has happened, to give them honor is to give them a tacit endorsement for their stubborn spiritual rebellion—and to potentially weaken one’s own resistance to such traits.  After all, if they can be received with such heralded esteem in spite of those obvious failures, why should I expect to lose the respect I have if I act in a similar self-serving manner?

 Note that the examples Jesus provides are irrelevant to whether one chose the road of discipleship or not.  They were such fundamental errors that they required rejection even if one were to avoid embracing Jesus and His movement.  [rw]  



20:46                                                   Translations

Weymouth:    "Beware of the Scribes, who like to walk about in long robes, and love to be bowed to in places of public resort and to occupy the best seats in the synagogues or at a dinner party;

WEB:              "Beware of the scribes, who like to walk in long robes, and love greetings in the marketplaces, the best seats in the synagogues, and the best places at feasts;     

Young’s:         'Take heed of the scribes, who are wishing to walk in long robes, and are loving salutations in the markets, and first seats in the synagogues, and first couches in the suppers,
Conte (RC):   "Be cautious of the scribes, who choose to walk in long robes, and who love greetings in the marketplace, and the first chairs in the synagogues, and the first places at table during feasts,


20:46               Beware of the scribes.  Be not deceived by their show of piety; catch not their spirit; follow not their example.  [52]

Here, in St. Matthew, follows the great denunciation of the Sanhedrist authorities with the other rabbis, Pharisees, and public teachers and leaders of the people.  It fills the whole of the twenty-third chapter of the First Gospel.  The details would be scarcely interesting to St. Luke’s Gentile readers, so he thus briefly summarizes them.  [18]

                        which desire to walk in long robes.  With broad phylacteries and long fringes.  [6]

                        “With special conspicuousness of fringes (Num. xv. 38-40).  ‘The supreme tribunal,’  said R. Nachman, ‘will duly punish hypocrites who wrap their talliths round them to appear, what they are not, true Pharisees;’  (Farrar).  [18]

                        Also:  Official gowns, distinctive of office, and calling for special reverence.  [52]

                        and love greetings in the markets.  The chief places of resort, where there were booths for sale of fruit, confections, etc.  [6]

                        and the highest [best, NKJV] seats in the synagogues.  Special seats were reserved in the synagogue, in front of the ark with the law, for the elders or rulers.  [6]

                        and the chief rooms [best places, NKJV] at feasts.  The most prominent and important tables, thereby publicly demonstrating the “justice” of their claims to be such.  [rw]



20:47                                                   Translations

Weymouth:    who swallow up the property of widows and mask their wickedness by making long prayers. They will be punished far more severely than others."

WEB:              who devour widows' houses, and for a pretense make long prayers: these will receive greater condemnation."       

Young’s:         who devour the houses of the widows, and for a pretence make long prayers, these shall receive more abundant judgment.'
Conte (RC):   who devour the houses of widows, feigning long prayers. These will receive the greater damnation."


20:47               Which devour widows' houses.  Their pretended piety had given them positions of trust, as guardians of widows and orphans, and they rob those under their care.  [6]

                        One can be confident that they always had a good “reason” for what had happened—any relationship to the real truth being minimal or non-existent:  The religious leaders were, by the nature of their work, “word people.”  Unfortunately, people who are good with words and forget their scruples can literally justify just about anything.  Especially if they, personally, are going to benefit by it.  [rw]

                        and for a shew make long prayers.  Rather, in pretence.  “Their hypocrisy was so notorious that even the Talmud records the warning given by Alexander Jannaeus to his wife on his deathbed against painted Pharisees.  And in their seven classes of Pharisees, the Talmudic writers place ‘Shechemites,’ Pharisees from self-interest; ‘Stumblers,’ so mock-humble that they will not raise their feet from the ground:  Bleeders,’ so mock-modest that, because they will not raise their eyes, they run against walls, etc.  Thus the Jewish writers themselves depict the Pharisees as the Tartuffes of antiquity  (Farrar).  [18]

                        By spending much time, at the hours of prayer, in forms of devotion, in the temple or the public squares, and openings of the streets (where things were exposed for sale), they disguised their lack of love toward God, and regard for the rights of men.  [52] 

                        the same shall receive greater damnation.  Jesus doesn’t deny for a second that such behaviors may bring them personal enrichment (“devouring widows’ houses”) and considerable social prestige.  But they are also accumulating a massive debt of evil they must “pay off” (so to speak) and the result will be a “greater damnation.”  [rw]

                        The Greek for “damnation” is “judgment,” often, as here, involving condemnation.  [52]






Books Utilized

(with number code)



1          =          Adam Clarke.  The New Testament . . . with a Commentary and

Critical Notes.  Volume I:   Matthew to the Acts.   Reprint, Nashville,

Tennessee:  Abingdon Press.


2          =          Marvin R. Vincent.  Word Studies in the New Testament.  Volume I:

The Synoptic  Gospels, Acts of the Apostles, Epistles of Peter, James,

and Jude.  New York:  Charles Scribner's Sons, 1887; 1911 printing.


3          =          J. S. Lamar.  Luke.  [Eugene S. Smith, Publisher; reprint, 1977 (?)]


4          =          Charles H. Hall.  Notes, Practical and Expository on the Gospels;

volume two:  Luke-John.  New York:  Hurd and Houghton, 1856,



5          =          John Kitto.  Daily Bible Illustrations.  Volume II:  Evening Series: 

The Life and Death of Our Lord.  New York:  Robert Carter and

Brothers, 1881.


6          =          Thomas M. Lindsay.  The Gospel According to St. Luke.  Two

volumes.  New York:  Scribner & Welford, 1887.


7          =          W. H. van Doren.  A Suggestive Commentary on the New Testament: 

Saint Luke.  Two volumes.  New York:  D. Appleton and Company,



8          =          Melancthon W. Jacobus.  Notes on the Gospels, Critical and

Explanatory:  Luke and John.  New York:  Robert Carter &

Brothers, 1856; 1872 reprint.


9          =          Alfred Nevin.  Popular Expositor of the Gospels and Acts:  Luke. 

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania:  Ziegler & McCurdy, 1872.


10        =          Alfred Nevin.  The Parables of Jesus.  Philadelphia:  Presbyterian

Board of Publication, 1881.


11        =          Albert Barnes.  "Luke."  In Barnes' Notes on the New Testament.

Reprint, Kregel Publications, 1980.


12        =          Alexander B. Bruce.  The Synoptic Gospels.  In The Expositor's

Greek Testament, edited by W. Robertson Nicoll.  Reprint, Grand

Rapids, Michigan:  Wm. B.   Eerdmans Publishing Company.


13        =          F. Godet.  A Commentary on the Gospel of St. Luke.  Translated

from the Second French Edition by E. W. Shalders and M. D. Cusin.

New York:  I. K. Funk & Company, 1881.


14        =          D.D. Whedon.  Commentary on the Gospels:  Luke-John.   New

York:  Carlton & Lanahan, 1866; 1870 reprint.   


15        =          Henry Alford.  The Greek Testament.  Volume I:  The Four Gospels.

Fifth Edition.  London:  Rivingtons, 1863.  


16        =          David Brown.   "Luke" in Robert Jamieson, A. R. Fausset, and

David Brown,  A Commentary, Critical and Explanatory, on the

Old and New Testaments.  Volume II:  New Testament.  Hartford:

S. S. Scranton Company, no date.


17        =          Dr. [no first name provided] MacEvilly.  An Exposition of the Gospel

of St. Luke.  New York:  Benziger Brothers, 1886.


18        =          H. D. M. Spence.  “Luke.”  In the Pulpit Commentary, edited by H. D.

M. Spence.  Reprinted by Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company,



19        =          John Calvin.  Commentary on a Harmony of the Evangelists,

Matthew, Mark, and Luke.  Translated by William Pringle.  Reprint,

Grand Rapids, Michigan:  Wm. B.    Eerdmans Publishing Company.


20        =          Thomas Scott.  The Holy Bible ...with Explanatory Notes (and)

Practical Observations.  Boston:  Crocker and Brewster.


21        =          Henry T. Sell.  Bible Studies in the Life of Christ:  Historical and

Constructive.  New York:  Fleming H. Revell Company, 1902.


22        =          Philip Vollmer.  The Modern Student's Life of Christ.  New York:

Fleming H. Revell Company, 1912.


23        =          Heinrich A. W. Meyer.  Critical and Exegetical Handbook to the

Gospels of Mark and Luke.  Translated from the Fifth German

Edition by Robert Ernest Wallis.  N. Y.:  Funk and Wagnalls,

1884; 1893 printing. 


24        =          John Albert Bengel. Gnomon of the New Testament.  A New

                        Translation by Charlton T. Lewis and Marvin R. Vincent. 

Volume One.  Philadelphia:  Perkinpine & Higgins, 1860.


25        =          John Cummings.  Sabbath Evening Readers on the New Testa-

ment:  St. Luke.  London:Arthur Hall, Virtue & Co,1854.


26        =          Walter F. Adeney, editor.  The Century Bible:  A Modern  

Commentary--Luke.  New York:  H. Frowdey, 1901.  Title page

missing from copy.


27        =          Pasquier Quesnel.  The Gospels with Reflections on Each Verse.

Volumes I and II.  (Luke is in part of both).  New York:  Anson

D. F. Randolph, 1855; 1867 reprint. 


28        =          Charles R. Erdman.  The Gospel of Luke:  An Exposition.

Philadelphia:  Westminster   Press, 1921; 1936 reprint.


29        =          Elvira J. Slack.  Jesus:  The Man of Galilee.  New York:  National

Board of the Young Womens Christian Associations, 1911.


30        =          Arthur Ritchie.  Spiritual Studies in St. Luke's Gospel.  Milwaukee:

The Young Churchman Company, 1906.


31        =          Bernhard Weiss.  A Commentary on the New Testament.  Volume

Two:  Luke-The Acts.  New York:  Funk & Wagnalls Company,1906.


32        =          Matthew Henry.  Commentary on the Whole Bible.  Volume V:

Matthew to John.  17--.  Reprint, New York:  Fleming H. Revell

Company, no date.


33        =          C. G. Barth.  The Bible Manual:  An Expository and Practical

Commentary on the Books of Scripture.  Second Edition.

London:  James Nisbet and Company, 1865.


34        =          Nathaniel S. Folsom.  The Four Gospels:  Translated . . . and with

Critical and Expository Notes.  Third Edition.  Boston:  Cupples,

Upham, and Company, 1871; 1885 reprint.


35        =          Henry Burton.  The Gospel according to Luke.  In the Expositor's

Bible series.  New York:  A. C. Armstrong and Son, 1895. 


36        =          [Anonymous].  Choice Notes on the Gospel of S. Luke, Drawn from

Old and New Sources.  London:  Macmillan & Company, 1869.


37        =          Marcus Dods.  The Parables of Our Lord.  New York:  Fleming H.

Revell Company, 18--. 


38        =          Alfred Edersheim.  The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah.  

Second Edition.  New York:  Anson D. F. Randolph and Company,



39        =          A. T. Robertson.  Luke the Historian in the Light of Research. 

New York:  Charles Scribner's Sons, 1920; 1930 reprint. 


40        =          James R. Gray.  Christian Workers' Commentary on the Old and

New Testaments.  Chicago:  Bible Institute Colportage Associat-

ion/Fleming H. Revell Company, 1915.


41        =          W. Sanday.  Outlines of the Life of Christ.  New York:  Charles

Scribner's Sons, 1905.


42        =          Halford E. Luccock.  Studies in the Parables of Jesus.  New York:

Methodist Book Concern, 1917.


43        =          George H. Hubbard.  The Teaching of Jesus in Parables.  New

York:  Pilgrim Press, 1907. 


44        =          Charles S. Robinson.  Studies in Luke's Gospel.  Second Series.

New York:American Tract Society, 1890.  


45        =          John Laidlaw.  The Miracles of Our Lord.  New York:  Funk &

Wagnalls Company,   1892.


46        =          William M. Taylor.  The Miracles of Our Saviour.  Fifth Edition.

New York:  A. C. Armstrong & Son, 1890; 1903 reprint.


47        =          Alexander Maclaren.  Expositions of Holy Scripture:  St. Luke.

New York:  George H. Doran Company, [no date].


48        =          George MacDonald.  The Miracles of Our Lord.  New York:

George Routledge & Sons, 1878. 


49        =          Joseph Parker.  The People's Bibles:  Discourses upon Holy Scrip-

                        tureMark-Luke.    New York:  Funk & Wagnalls Company, 18--.


50        =          Daniel Whitby and Moses Lowman.  A Critical Commentary and

Paraphrase on the New Testament:  The Four Gospels and the Acts

of the Apostles.  Philadelphia:  Carey & Hart, 1846.


51        =          Matthew Poole.  Annotations on the Holy Bible.  1600s.



52        =          George R. Bliss.  Luke.  In An American Commentary on the New

Testament.  Philadelphia:  American Baptist Publication Society,



53        =          J. W. McGarvey and Philip Y. Pendleton.  The Fourfold Gospel. 

1914.  Computerized.


54        =          John Trapp.  Commentary on the Old and New Testaments.  1654.



55        =          Ernest D. Burton and Shailer Matthews.  The Life of Christ.

Chicago, Illinois:  University of Chicago Press, 1900; 5th reprint,



56        =          Frederic W. Farrar.  The Gospel According to St. Luke.  In “The

Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges” series.  Cambridge:  At

the University Press, 1882.