Cambridge Bible:Lk Farrar
31. came down to Capernaum] St Matthew (4:13-16) sees in this the fulfilment of Isa_9:1, Isa_9:2, omitting the first part which should be rendered “At the former time he brought contempt on the Land of Zebulun and on the Land of Naphtali, but in the latter time he brought honour.” It was perhaps on His way to Capernaum that our Lord healed the courtier’s son (Joh_4:47-54). Capernaum is in all probability Tell Hûm. The name means village (now Kefr) of Nahum, and Tell Hûm is ‘the ruined mound’ or ‘heap’ of (Na)hum. It is now a heap of desolation with little to mark it except the ruins of one white marble synagogue—possibly the very one built by the friendly centurion (7:5)—and the widely-scattered débris of what perhaps was another. But in our Lord’s time it was a bright and populous little town, at the very centre of what has been called “the manufacturing district of Palestine.” It lay at the nucleus of roads to Tyre and Sidon, to Damascus, to Sepphoris (the capital of Galilee), and to Jerusalem, and was within easy reach of Peraea and Ituraea. It was in fact on the “way of the sea” (Isa_9:1)—the great caravan road which led to the Mediterranean. It was hence peculiarly fitted to be the centre of a far-reaching ministry of which even Gentiles would hear. These things, as St Paul graphically says, were “not done in a corner,” Act_26:26. Besides the memorable events of the day here recorded, it was here that Christ healed the paralytic (5:18) and the centurion’s servant (7:2), and called Levi (Mat_9:9), rebuked the disciples for their ambition (Mar_9:35), and delivered the memorable discourse about the bread of life (Joh_6).
a city of Galilee] These little descriptions and explanations shew that St Luke is writing for Gentiles who did not know Palestine. Comp. 1:26, 21:37, 22:1.
31. κατῆλθεν. Nazareth is on higher ground than Capernaum, which was on the shore of the lake; and therefore “went down” or “came down” is the probable meaning. But it is possible that here and Act_18:5 it means “returned,” as often in class. Grk. (Hdt. iv. 4. 2, v. 30. 4; Thuc. viii. 68, 3). Excepting Jam_3:15, the verb occurs in N.T. only in Lk. (9:37 and twelve times in Acts).
Καφαρναούμ. This is the correct spelling, Caphar-Nahum, of which Καπερναούμ is a Syrian corruption (WH. ii. App. p. 160). It was the chief Jewish town, as Tiberias was the chief Roman town, of the neighbourhood. It was therefore a good centre, especially as traders from all parts frequently met there (Mar_2:15, Mar_2:3:20, 32, etc.). It is not mentioned in O.T., and perhaps was not founded till after the Exile. Josephus mentions it only once, viz. in his description of the lake (B. J. iii. 10. 7, 8), and then not as a town but as a πηγὴ γονιμωτάτη which irrigates the neighbourhood: but there is no doubt that the Κεφαρνώμη to which Josesphus was carried, when he was thrown from his horse in a skirmish with Roman troops, is Capernaurn (Vita, 72). The identification with the modem Tell Hûm (Nau, Pococke, Burckhardt, Renan,1 Ritter, Rödiger, Ewald) is possible, but not certain. Many advocate the claims of Khan Minyeh, which is three miles to the south (Quaresmius, Keim, Robinson,Sepp, Stanley, Strauss, Wilson). For the chief arguments see Wilson in D. B.2 i. p. 530, and in Picturesque Palestine, ii. p. 81; Schulz in Herzog, Rev_2 vii. p. 501; Keim,jes,of Naz., Eng. tr. ii. p. 369; Andrews, Life of our Lord, pp. 221-239, ed. 1892. The doubts about the site show how completely the woes pronounced upon the place (Mat_11:23) have been fulfilled. But in any case left the seclusion of the mountains for a busy mercantile centre by the lake.
πόλιν τῆς Γαλιλαίας. Lk. adds this, because this is the first time that he mentions Capernaum in his narrative. The explanation could not be made ver. 23. It is another small indication that he is writing for those who are not familiar with the geography of Palestine: comp. 1:26, 2:4, 8:26.
ἦν διδάσκων αὐτοὺς ἐν τοῖς σάββασιν. Some make vv. 31, 32 a general introduction, stating the habitual practice, of which vv. 33-37 gave a particular instance. In support of this they urge the analytical tense, ἦν διδάσκων, and the plur. τοῖς σάββασιν: “He used to teach them on the sabbath days.” But in the parallel passage ἐδίδασκεν and ἦν διδάσκων are equivalent, and apparently refer to one occasion only (note the εὐθύς, Mar_1:22, Mar_1:23): and τὰ σάββατα is often sing. in meaning (Mat_28:1; Col_2:16; Exo_20:10; Lev_22:32; Jos. Ant. i. 1, 1, iii. 6, 6, x. 1, Hor. Sat. i. 9. 69). Act_17:2 is the only place in N.T. in which σάββατα is plur. in meaning, and there a numeral necessitates it, ἐπὶ σάββατα τρία which, however, may mean “for three weeks, ” and not “for three Sabbaths.” Syr-Sin. here has “the sabbath days.”
The Aramaic form of the word ends in a, the transliteration of which into Greek looked like a neut.plur. This idea was confirmed by the fact that Greek festivals am commonly neut. plur.: τὰ γενέσια, ἐγκαίνια, παναθήναια, κ.τ.λ. Hence σάββατα may either mean “a sabbath” or “Sabbaths” or “aweek.” Here it is better to retain the sing. meaning, and refer the whole of 32-37 to One occasion. In N.T, σάββασιν is the usual form of the dat. plot., with σαββάτοις as v:l. in some authorities (in B twice, Mat_12:1, Mat_12:12), In LXX σαββάτοις prevails. Josephus uses both.
Vers. 31-44. AT CAPERNAUM.
And came down to Capernaum. Capernaum was the real home of the Master during the two years and a half of his public ministry. He chose this flourishing lake city partly because his kinsmen and first disciples lived in it or its immediate neighborhood, but more especially on account of its situation. It has been termed the very center of the manufacturing district of Palestine; it lay on the high-road which led from Damascus and the Syrian cities to Tyro, Sidon, and Jerusalem. “It was, in fact, on “the way of the sea”, (Isa_9:1) the great caravan-road which led (from the East) to the Mediterranean. It was hence peculiarly fitted to be the center of a far-reaching ministry, of which even Gentiles would hear” (Farrar). The evangelist speaks of “coming down” to the shore of the lake, in contrast with Nazareth, which was placed in the hills. We do not meet with the name Capernaum in the Old Testament; it therefore appears not to have been a city belonging to remote antiquity. Its name is generally interpreted as being compounded of two words, signifying “town of consolations,” rpb a beautiful and significant derivation. It may, however, originally have taken its name from the Prophet Nahum. Josephus, the historian, tells us. the name originally belonged to a fountain. He dwells also on the mildness of the climate; it would therefore seem as though, in the first place, Capernaum was used as a health resort, and then its admirable situation favored its adoption as a convenient center. The extensive ruins of Tel-Hum, on the lake-shore, are generally believed to be the remains of the once rich and populous Capernaum. And taught them on the sabbath days.
Cambridge Bible:Lk Farrar
32. they were astonished] The word expresses more sudden and vehement astonishment than the more deeply seated ‘amaze’ of vs. 36.
at his doctrine] Rather, at His teaching, referring here to the manner He adopted.
his word was with power] St Matthew gives one main secret of their astonishment when he says that “He taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes,” 7:29. The religious teaching of the Scribes in our Lord’s day had already begun to be the second-hand repetition of minute precedents supported by endless authorities. (“Rabbi Zeira says on the authority of Rabbi Jose bar Rabbi Chanina, and Rabbi Ba or Rabbi Chija on the authority of Rabbi Jochanan, &c., &c.” Schwab, Jer. Berachôth, p. 159.) We see the final outcome of this servile secondhandness in the dreary minutiae of the Talmud. But Christ referred to no precedents; quoted no ‘authorities;’ dealt with fresher and nobler topics than fantastic hagadoth (‘legends’) and weary traditional halachôth (‘rules’). He spoke straight from the heart to the heart, appealing for confirmation solely to truth and conscience,—the inner witness of the Spirit.
And they were astonished at his doctrine: for his word was with power. We have here again a picture which gives a general summary of Jesus” life extending over a considerable period. This is the fifth of these pictures of St. Luke. It represents the Master dwelling quietly at Capernaum, in the midst of his disciples, teaching and preaching; on the sabbath days gathering a considerable concourse drawn from the people at large, and generally surprising the listeners with his earnestness, freshness, and ability, which carried conviction into many a heart, Gentile as well as Jew. Although this period of the life of Jesus was signalized by many miracles, it does not seem that his ordinary preaching and teaching needed any such supernatural testimony to enable it to win its way. St. Luke especially tells us it was with power, and that the crowds heard it amazed and astonished. St. Matthew gives us (Mat_7:29) one reason, which helps us to understand something of this success which attended his teaching. It was “not as the scribes.” In the Talmud we have many a fair specimen of the sacred instruction of the “schools” in the time of our Lord. Frivolous minutiae, hair-splitting of texts, weary repetition of the sayings of the men of old, questions connected with the exact keeping of the sabbath, with the tithing of mint, anise, and cummin, a singular lack of all dealing with the weightier matters of the Law justice, judgment, truth were among the characteristics of the scribes” popular instruction. The practical heart-searching words of Jesus were in strong contrast with the curious but useless themes dwelt on by the official teachers of the day. It was with the thirty-first verse of this chapter that the great Gnostic heretic, Marcion (second century) began his Gospel, which, in the early days of Christianity, had a vast circulation. Marcion, while preferring St. Luke”s Gospel, as emanating from St. Paul, before putting it out as the authoritative history to be used by his numerous followers, cut out the earlier chapters of our Gospel, which bore on the birth and infancy of the Lord, commencing here prefixing, however, a note of time, thus: “In the fifteenth year of the government of Tiberius, Jesus went down” (Marcioh probably intended it to be understood from heaven) “into the town of Galilee named Capernaum.
Vers. 32, 37. Fame and Power.
“His word was with power;” “The fame of him went out.” Fame and power are the objects of eager and arduous pursuit; they are supposed to be deserving of the expenditure of our strength, and to reward us for all our anxieties and toils. What is their worth, intrinsic and relative? What were they to our Lord? and what should they be to us?
I THE WORTHLESSNESS OF FAME.
1. The fame of Jesus Christ, as a man, is remarkable indeed. Born in a little Judaean village, of humble parents, receiving a very scanty education, enjoying no patronage, teaching truths too deep to be understood by the multitude and too broad to be appreciated by the orthodox of his time, arousing the hatred of the powerful, and dying while yet a young man a death of utmost ignominy, his name has become known, his doctrine has been received, he himself has been honored and even worshipped by countless millions of mankind under every sky. This is fame of the first magnitude; there are very few names “under heaven given among men” that can aspire to stand in the same rank, on the ground of human fame.
2. Jesus Christ shunned rather than sought fame. “Jesus straitly charged them, saying, See that no man know it”. (Mat_9:30 Mat_8:4 Mat_12:16 Mat_17:9) “Great multitudes came together to hear and to be healed… and he withdrew himself into the wilderness”. (Luk_5:15, Luk_5:16; see also Vers. 42, 43)
3. He appears to have been embarrassed by his fame rather than gratified, and his work seems to have been hindered rather than helped by it. (see Joh_6:15) And it is obvious that, as his great and high purpose was one which was far removed from the superficial and worldly hopes of the people, popularity or fame would not further but rather retard the work he had in hand. It is worth no man”s while to be seriously concerned about his fame. To seek for and strive after an honorable reputation is what every man owes to himself, to his family, to his Church, to his Master. But no man need concern himself greatly about the acquisition of fame.
(1) It is obvious that only a very small minority of mankind can attain it; therefore any extensive endeavor after it must end in disappointment.
(2) It is of very slight intrinsic worth; for it is possessed and enjoyed by the bad as well as by the good, by the notorious as well as by the celebrated.
(3) It does not usually crown its hero until he has gone where it will no longer affect him; useless to the martyred patriot himself, however valuable to his country, is the costly tomb, or the splendid monument, or the elaborate elegy contributed to his memory.
(4) Its effect on living men is exceedingly doubtful; it may gladden and stimulate, but it may elate and injure.
II THE EXCELLENCY OF POWER. “Power belongeth unto God”. (Psa_62:12) And power belonged to the Son of God. “Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit” (ver. 14).
1. Christ possessed and exerted power the power of the prophet, speaking truth; “his word was with power”; (ver. 32; Mat_7:28, Mat_7:29) the power of the Son of God, working miracles; the power of holiness and innocency; (Joh_7:30 Joh_18:6) the power of love and sympathy, attaching disciples, men and women, to himself with bonds of affection that no dangers or sufferings could break.
2. He aspired after other and still higher power than any he exercised the power which could only be gained by a sacrificial death. “I, if I be lifted up, will draw all men unto me.” That pure and holy aspiration has been and shall be gloriously fulfilled. It is well worth our while to seek after a true, living, spiritual power.
(1) It is attainable by us all; it is within the reach of those who seek it in the fellowship and the service of Christ, and who ask it of the Spirit of God.
(2) It is of real intrinsic worth; it is a Divine, a Christ-like, an angelic thing; it is a source of benefit and blessing to mankind.
(3) It will enlarge our heritage both here and hereafter; for to every man God will give sacred and blessed opportunity of service “according to his several ability. C.
ICC:Lk Plummer 33. ἐν τῇ συναγωγῇ. “In the synagogue” in which He was teaching on that sabbath; which confirms the view that ver. 31 refers to a particular occasion. We have already been told that it was His practice to teach in the synagogues. But “in the synagogue” may mean in the only one which Capernaum. possessed (7:5).
ἔχων πνεῦμα δαιμονίου ἀκαθάρτου. The phrase is unique, and the exact analysis of it is uncertain. The gen. may be of apposition (2:41, 22:1; Joh_2:21, Joh_11:13, Joh_13:1), or of quality (see on ver. 22), or of possession, i.e. an influence which belonged to an unclean demon (Rev_16:14). As to the Evangelists’ use of the epithet ἀκάθαρτον, strange mistakes have been made. Wordsworth inaccurately says, “Both St. Mark and St. Luke, writing for Gentiles, add the word ἀκάθαρτον to δαιμόνιον, which St Matthew, writing to Jews (for whom it was not necessary), never does.” Alford in correcting him is himself inaccurate. He says, “The real fact is, that St. Mark uses the word δαιμόνιον thirteen times, and never adds the epithet ἀκάθαρτον to it (his word here is πνεῦμα only); St. Luke, eighteen times, and only adds it this once. So much for the accuracy of the data on which inferences of this kind are founded.” Edersheirn is still more inaccurate in his statement of the facts (L. & T. 1. p. 479 n). Farrar has the strange misstatement that “the word ‘unclean’ is peculiar to St. Luke, who writes fur Gentiles.” It occurs in Mt., Paul, and Apoc., as well as Mk. The facts are these. Mt. uses δαιμόνιον ten times, and has ἀκάθαρτον twice as an epithet of πνεῦμα. Mk. has δαιμόνιον thirteen times, ἀκάθαρτον eleven times as an epithet of πνεῦμα. Lk. in the Gospel has δαιμόνιον twenty-three times, with ἀκάθαρτον as an epithet, once of δαιμόνιον, and five times of πνεῦμα; and with πονηρόν twice as an epithet of πνεῦμα. In the Acts he has δαιμόνιον once; and uses ἀκάθαρτον twice, and πονηρόν four times, as an epithet of πνεῦμα. The fact, therefore, remains, that the two Evangelists who wrote for Gentiles (to whom demons or spirits were indifferent) add a distinctive epithet much more often than the one Who wrote for Jews (who distinguished evil spirits from good). Moreover, both Mk. and Lk. add this epithet the very first time that they mention these beings (Mar_1:23; Luk_4:33); whereas Mt. mentions them several times (7:22, 8:16, 9:33, 34) before he adds the ἀκάθαρτον (10:1). In this passage Lk. and Mk. describe the fact of possession in opposite ways. Here the man has the unclean spirit. There he is in the unclean spirit’s power, ἐν πνεύματι ἀκαθάρτῳ: with which we may compare the expression of Josephus, τοὺς ὑπὸ τῶν δαιμονίων λαμβανομένους (Ant. viii. 2. 5). Similarly, we say of a man that “he is out of his mind,” or that “his mind is gone” out of him. That a man thus afflicted should be in the synagogue is surprising. He may have come in unobserved; or his malady may have been dormant so long as to have seemed to be cured. The presence of “the Holy One of God” provokes a crisis. For ἀνεκραξεν comp. Jos_6:5; 1Sa_4:5; and for φωνῇ μεγάλῃ see on 1:42. D.C.G. art.“Demon.”.
And in the synagogue there was a man, which had a spirit of an unclean devil. After the general picture of Jesus” life and work in Capenaum, St. Luke proceeds to give a detailed account of the way in which one sabbath day was spent, no doubt intending us to understand it as a specimen of the ordinary sabbath-day work of the Master. We meet with here, for the first time in our Gospel, one of those unhappy persons described as either “having a spirit of an unclean devil,” or as “possessed with a devil” or “devils,” or in similar terms, generally signifying “demoniacs,” men or women apparently a class by themselves, directly under the influence of some evil spirit.
Who, now, were these unhappy beings with whom Jesus in his ministry of mercy seems often to have come in contact? Many of these “demoniacs” mentioned in the Gospels would nowadays certainly be classed under the ordinary category of the “sick.” They seem to have been simply afflicted with disease of one kind or other; for instance, the epileptic child mentioned by St. Luke, (Luk_9:39) or dumbness again, (Mat_9:32) blindness, (Mat_12:22) and insanity, among other instances, are ascribed to demoniac agency. Are we, then, simply to regard these cases, not as exceptional displays of diabolical power, but as instances of sickness and disease which still exist among us? and to suppose that our Lord, in speaking of devils possessing these sick ones, accommodated himself to the popular belief, and spoke of these afflicted persons in the way men were able to understand? for it is disputable that Judaism in the days of Jesus of Nazareth ascribed to “demons,” or “devils,” much of the suffering and woe with which men are afflicted under the common name of disease. The Talmud, which well represents the Jewish teaching of that time, has endless allusions to evil spirits, or devils, who were permitted to work evil and mischief on the bodies and even on the souls of men. Josephus, the contemporary historian, narrates that a lamb grew at Machaerus, the wool of which had the power of expelling devils; and he toils how he was the eye-witness of the cure of a man possessed of a devil by means of a ring containing a root which had similar properties; this, he says, took place in the presence of the Emperor Vespasian (“Ant.,” 8:2, 5; “Bell. Jud:,” 7:6, 3). Many believed that these demons, or devils, were the souls of the wicked who returned to earth after death, and sought a new home for themselves in the bodies of the living. This popular belief in demoniacal agency is mentioned by Justin Martyr (“Apol.,” 1.), and even seems to have lingered in some parts as late as Chrysostom. But such a theory which represents Jesus in his miraculous cures accommodating himself to popular belief, and speaking of the sufferers as possessed by devils which really had no existence save in imagination is not only quite foreign to the transparently truthful character of all the Master”s words and works, but is perfectly incompatible with the narratives given us by the evangelists of the cures in question. In these, in several instances, the devils are not only spoken to, but they speak themselves they answer questions, they even prefer requests. Jesus, too, gives his own power to cast out devils, (Luk_9:1) and to tread on all the power of the enemy. (Luk_10:19) He even, in St. Mark, (Mar_9:29) is represented as distinguishing a special class of devils over whom a mastery could be obtained alone through prayer and fasting. Evidently the Holy Spirit, who guided the writers of those memoirs of the apostles we call the Gospels, intended that a marked distinction should be impressed upon the readers of the apostolic memoirs as existing between ordinary maladies of the flesh and those terrible and various scourges which the presence of devils inflicted upon those hapless beings in whose bodies, for some mysterious reason, they had been permitted to take up their habitation.
The whole question is fraught with difficulties. Dean Plumptre suggests that perhaps we possess not the data for an absolutely certain and exhaustive answer. It seems, on the whole while not denying the possible presence of these evil spirits at different times of the world”s history occupying the bodies and distracting the souls of men best to assume that these devils possessed special and peculiar power over men at that period when Jesus walked among us. By this means, as Godet well says, Jesus could be proclaimed externally and visibly as the Conqueror of the enemy of men (and of his legions of evil messengers). That period, when the Lord taught among us, was a time when, it is generally conceded, moral and social evil had reached its highest point of development. Since that age the power of these unhappy spirits of evil has been, if not destroyed, at least restrained by the influence greater, perhaps, than men choose to acknowledge of the Master”s religion or by the direct command of the Master himself.
Cambridge Bible:Lk Plummer
34. Saying, Let us alone] Omit saying, with א, B, L. The word Ea! may be not the imperative of eaô (‘desist!’) but a wild cry of horror ‘Ha!’
what have we to do with thee] The demon speaks in the plural, merging his individuality in that of all evil powers. (Mat_8:29; Mar_5:9.) For the phrase see 8:28; 2Sa_16:10, 2Sa_16:19:22; 2Sa_1 K. 17:18; Joh_2:4.
to destroy us] “The devils also believe and tremble,” Jam_2:19.
the Holy One] 1:35; Psa_16:10, “thine Holy One.” Dan_9:24.
34. Ἔα. Probably not the imperative of ἐάω, “Let alone, leave me in peace,” but an interjection of anger or dismay; common in Attic poetry, but rare in prose (Aesch. P. V. 298, 688; Eur. Hec. 501; P1ato, prot. 314 D). Here only in N.T. Comp. Job_4:19?, 15:16, 19:5, 25:6. Fritzsche on Mar_1:24 (where the word is an interpolation) and L. and S. Lex. regard the imperative as the origin of the interjection, which does not seem probable,
τί ἡμῖν καὶ σοί; Not “What have we to contend about?” a meaning which the phrase has nowhere in N.T. and perhaps only once, if at all, in O.T. (2Ch_35:21), but “What have we in common?” Comp. 8:28; Mat_8:29. Mat_8:29; Mar_1:24; Joh_2:4; Jdg_11:12; 1Ki_17:18; 2Ki_3:13; 2Sa_16:10; 2Sa_1 Esdr. 1:26; Epict. Diss. i. 1. 16, i. 27, 13, ii. 9. 16.
Ἰησοῦ Ναζαρηνέ. This form of the adjective is found 24:19; Mar_1:24, Mar_1:10:47, Mar_1:14:67, Mar_1:16:6; but not in Mt. or Jn. or Acts. Its appearance here is no proof that Lk. is borrowing from Mk. Ναζωραῖος occurs Luk_18:37. Mat_2:23, 26:71; Joh_18:5, Joh_18:7, Joh_18:19:19; Act_2:22, Act_2:3:6, Act_2:4:10, Act_2:6:14, Act_2:22:8, Act_2:26:9; but not in Mk. The adjective, esp. Ναζωραῖος which is used in the title on the cross, sometimes his a tinge of contempt and with the article it may be rendered “the Nazarene.” Hence the early Christians were contemptuously called “the Nazarenes” (Act_24:5). Contrast ὁ ἀπὸ Ναζαρέτ (Mat_21:11; Mar_1:9; Joh_1:46; Act_10:38). which is a mere statement of fact. It is worth noting that this demoniac, who is a Jew, addresses Jews as “of Nazareth,” which the Gerasene, who was possibly a heathen, does not do (8:28).
ἦλθες ἀπολέσαι ἡμᾶς; The ἡμᾶς and the preceding ἡμῖν probably do not include the man, but rather other evil spirits. Communem inter se causam habent dæmonia. (Beng.). It seems to be e to speculate as to the meaning of ἀπολέσαι: apparently it is the same as εἰς τὴν ἄβυσσον ἀπελθεῖν (8:31).
οἶδά σε τίς εἶ, ὁ ἄγιος τοῦ Θεοῦ. In Mk. οἴδαμεν(?), which is more in harmony with ἡμῖν and ἡμᾶς. Godet remarks that ὁ ἅγιος τοῦ Θεοῦ explains the knowledge It was instinctive, and therefore οἶδα is more suitable than γινώσκω. L’antipathie n’est pas moinsclairvoyante que la sympathie. In the unique holiness of Jesus the evil spirit felt an essentially hostile power. The expression ὁ ἅγιος τοῦ Θεοῦ occurs in the parallel in Mk. and Joh_6:69; but nowhere else: comp. Act_4:27; 1Jn_2:20; Rev_3:7. It may mean either “consecrated to God” or “consecrated by God.” In a lower sense priests and Prophets are called ἅγιοι τοῦ Θεοῦ or Κυρίου (Psa_106:16). It was not in flattery (male adulans, as Tertullian says) that the evil spirit thus addressed Him, but in horror. From the Holy One he could expect nothing but destruction (Jam_2:19; comp. Mat_8:29).
Let us alone; what have we to do with thee, thou Jesus of Nazareth? art thou come to destroy us? This man, with his evil spirit, would have been looked on as unclean, and would not have been admitted within the synagogue walls; he had probably crept in unseen. Something in the nearness to the holy Teacher we know compelled the demon to cry aloud. It is strange, this presence of God causing pain. It is the impossibility of the wounded eye bearing light. The cry rendered, “Let us alone,” is scarcely the imperative of eaw , but an interjection, possibly the Greek reproduction of the Hebrew Hha, ah! woe! There was evidently some deeper degree of misery possible for the unhappy spirit; hence its “Art thou come to destroy us?” The same dread appears in the case of the Gadarene demoniac, (Mar_8:31 Mat_8:29) where the spirits dreaded being driven into the deep, where such spirits await the judgment, that abyss, literally, “the bottomless place;” any doom seemed to these lost ones preferable to that. I know thee who thou art; the Holy One of God.
Cambridge Bible:Lk Farrar
35. Hold thy peace] Literally, “Be muzzled,” as in 1Co_9:9. See Mat_22:34; Mar_1:25, &c.
had thrown him] St Mark uses the stronger word “tearing him.” It was the convulsion which became a spasm of visible deliverance. It is most instructive to contrast the simple sobriety of the narratives of the Evangelists with the credulous absurdities of even so able, polished and cosmopolitan a historian as Josephus, who describes an exorcism wrought in the presence of Vespasian by a certain Eleazar. It was achieved by means of a ring and the ‘root of Solomon,’ and the demon in proof of his exit was ordered to upset a bason of water! (Jos. B. J. vii. 6, § 3; Antt. viii. 2, § 5.) As this is the earliest of our Lord’s miracles recorded by St Luke, we may notice that the terms used for miracles in the Gospels are teras ‘prodigy,’ and thaumasion ‘wonderful’ (Mat_21:15 only), from the effect on men’s minds; paradoxon (5:26 only), from their strangeness; sēmeia ‘signs,’ and dunameis ‘powers,’ from their being indications of God’s power; endoxa ‘glorious deeds’ (13:17 only), as shewing His glory; and in St John erga ‘works,’ as the natural actions of One who was divine. See Trench, On Miracles, i. 9. “Miracles, it should be observed, are not contrary to nature, but beyond and above it.” Mozley.
35. ἐπετίμησεν αὐτῷ. “He rebuked the demon” who had used the man as his mouth-piece. The verb is often used of rebuking violence (ver. 41, 8:24, 9:42; Mat_8:26, Mat_8:17:18; Mar_4:39; Jud_1:9); yet must not on that account be rendered “restrain”(Fritzsche on Mat_8:26, p. 325).
In N.T. ἐπιτιμάω has no other meaning than “rebuke”; but in class. Grk. it means—1. “lay a value on, rate”; 2. “lay a penalty on, sentence”; 3. “chide, rate, rebuke.” But while there is a real connexion between the first and third meanings of the Greek verb, in English we have a mere accident oflanguage:“rate” = “value” is a different word from “rate” = “scold.” Note that Christ required no faith from demoniacs.
φιμώθητι. Lit. “Stop thy mouth with a φιμός be muzzled”: used literally 1Co_9:9; 1Ti_5:18; and as here, Mat_22:12; Mar_1:25, Mar_1:4:39; Jos. B. J. i, 22. 3. The peculiar infin. φιμοῖν occurs 1Pe_2:15. Comp. ἀποδεκατοῖν (Heb_7:5); κατασκηνοῖν (Mat_13:32; Mar_4:32). The verb is probably a vernacular word: it is not found between Aristoph. (Nub. 592) and LXX (Kennedy, Sources of N.T. Grk. p. 41).
καὶ ἔξελθε ἀπʼ αὐτοῦ. This is the true reading. Other writers commonly have ἐξέρχομαι ἐκ; but Lk. prefers ἐξέρχομαι ἀπό (ver. 41, 5:8, 8:2, 29, 33, 35, 38, 9:5, 11:24, etc.).
ῥίψαν αὐτὸν … μηδὲν βλάψαν αὐτόν. “Having thrown him” down in convulsions (σπαράξαν Mk.) … without (as one might have expected) having injured him at all.” With οὐδὲν βλάψαν we should have had a mere statement of fact. But in N.T. we commonly have μή with participles: comp. 11:24, 12:47, and see Win. Lev_5. β, p. 607. For μηδὲν βλάψαν Mk. has φωνῆσαν φωνῇ μεγάλῃ. It was the convulsions and the loud cry which made the spectators suppose that the man had been injured. The malice of the demon made the healing of the man as painful as possible. Hobart Classes both ῥίπτειν and βλάπτειν as medical words, the one being used of convulsions, the latter of injury to the system (Med. Lang. of Lk. p. 2).
Had thrown him down in the midst (rhipsan auton eis to meson). First aorist (effective) participle of rhiptō, an old verb with violent meaning, to fling, throw, hurl off or down.
Having done him no hurt (mēden blapsan auton). Luke as a physician carefully notes this important detail not in Mark. Blaptō, to injure, or hurt, occurs in the N.T. only here and in Mar_16:18, though a very common verb in the old Greek.
36. ἐγένετο θάμβος. Mk. has ἐθαμβήθησαν; but Lk. is fond of these periphrases with γίνομαι (1:65, 6:49, 8:17, 12:40, 13:2, 4, 18:23, etc.): see on 3:22. The word exrresses amazement akin to terror, and the subst. is peculiar to Lk (5:9; Act_3:10). Just as Christ’s doctrine amazed them in comparison with the formalism of the scribes, so His authority over demons in comparison with the attempts of the exorcists: all the more so, because a single word sufficed for Him, whereas the exorcists used incantations, charms, and much superstitious ceremonial (Tob. 8:1-3; Jos. Ant. viii. 2. 5; Justin, Apol. ii. 6; Try. lxxxv.)
τὶς ὁ λόγος οὖτος. Not, Quid hoc rei est? “What manner a thinge is this?” (Beza, Luth. Tyn. Cran. Grotius), but Quod est hoc verbum ? “What is this word?” (Vulg. Wic Rhem. RV.). It is doubtful whether in N.T. λόγος has the meaning of “event, occurrence, dead”: but comp. 1:4 and Mar_1:45. Whether λόγος is here to be confined to the command given to the demon, or includes the previous teaching (ver, 32), is uncertain. Mar_1:27 is in favour of the latter. In this case we have an ambiguous ὅτι to deal with; and once more “because” or “for” is more probable than “that” (see on 1:45). But if “that” be adopted, ὁ λόγος has the more limited meaning: “What is this word that with authority?” etc.
ἐν ἐξουσίᾳ καὶ δυνάμει. ἐξουσίᾳ, cui non potest contradici; δυνάμει, cui non potest resisti (Beng.). Mk. has κατʼ ἐξουσίαν only. The beloved physician is fond of δύναμις esp. in the sense of “inherent power of healing” (5:17, 16:19, 8:46, 9:1; Act_3:12, Act_4:7, Act_6:8). Mk. has it only once in this sense (5:30), and Mt. not at all. The plural in the sense of “manifestations of power, miracles”(10:13, 19:37),is freq. in Mt. and Mk. See on Rom_1:16.
37. ἐξεπορεύετο ἦχος περὶ αὐτοῦ. In these sections attention is often directed to the impression which Jesus made on His audiences (vv. 20, 22, 32, 36) 26), and to the fame which spread abroad respecting Him (vv. 14, 15, 37, 40, 5:15, 17). Η῏χος (ὁ) occurs only here, Act_2:2, and Heb_12:19. In 21:25, ἦχους may be gen. of either ἡ ἠχώ or τὸ ἦχος. But the existence of τὸἦχος is doubtful. The more classical word is “ἡ ἠχή of which ὁ ἦχος is a later form. Hobart classes it as a medical word, esp. for noises in the ears or the head (p. 64).
As already stated, this healing of a demoniac is recorded by Mk., but not by Mt. Ebrard and Holtzmann would have us believe that it is to compensate for this omission that Mt. gives two demoniacs among the Gadarenes, where Mk. and Lk. have only one.
In considering the question of demoniacal possession we must never lose sight of the indisputable fact, that our sources of information clearly, consistently, and repeatedly represent Christ as healing demoniacs by commanding demons to depart out of the afflicted persons. The Synoptic Gospels uniformly state that Jesus went through the form of casting out demons.
If the demons were there, and Christ expelled them and set their victims free, there is nothing to explain: the narrative is in harmony with the facts.
If the demons were not there, and demoniacal possession is a superstition, we must choose between three hypotheses.
1. Jesus did not employ this method of healing those who were believed to be possessed, but the Evangelists have erroneously attributed it to Him.
2. Jesus did employ this method and went through the form of casting out demons, although He knew that there were no demons there to be cast out.
3. Jesus did employ this method and went through me form of casting out demons, because in this matter He shared the erroneous belief of His contemporaries.
On the whole subject consult articles in D. B.2, Schaff-Herzog, Ency. Brit. on “Demoniacs,” “Demons,” “Demonology”; Trench, Miracles, No. 5; Caldwell, Contemp. Rev. Feb. 1876, vol. 28. PP. 369 ff. No explanation is satisfactory which does not account for the uniform and repeated testimony of the Evangelists.
Went forth a rumour (exeporeueto ēchos). Imperfect middle, kept on going forth. Our very word echo in this word. Late Greek form for ēchō in the old Greek. Used for the roar of the waves on the shore. So in Luk_21:25. Vivid picture of the resounding influence of this day’s work in the synagogue, in Capernaum.
Cambridge Bible:Lk Farrar
12. a certain city] Probably the village of Hattîn, for we learn from St Matthew’s definite notice that this incident took place on descending from the Mount of Beatitudes (Kurn Hattîn), see Mat_8:1-4; Mar_1:40-45. Hence chronologically the call of Matthew, the choosing of the Twelve, and the Sermon on the Mount probably intervene between this incident and the last.
a man full of leprosy] The hideous and hopeless nature of this disease—which is nothing short of a foul decay, arising from the total corruption of the blood—has been too often described to need further notice. See Lev_13:14. It was a living death, as indicated by bare head, rent clothes, and covered lip. In the middle ages, a man seized with leprosy was “clothed in a shroud, and the masses of the dead sung over him.” In its horrible repulsiveness it is the Gospel type of Sin. The expression “full of” implies the rapid development and horror of the disease; when the man’s whole body was covered with the whiteness, he was allowed to mingle with others as clean (Lev_13:13).
fell on his face] We get the full picture by combining the three Evangelists. We then see that he came with passionate entreaties, flinging himself on his knees, and worshipping, and finally in his agony prostrating himself on his face.
thou canst make me clean] The faith of this poor leper must have been intense, for hitherto there had been but one instance of a leper cleansed by miracle (4:27; 2 K. 5).
12. καὶ ἰδού. Hebraistic; in Mat_8:2, but not in Mar_1:40: the καί is the apodosis to ἐγένετο as in ver. 1. No verb follows the ἰδού as if the presence of the leper were a surprise. Had the man disregarded the law in approaching the crowd? Or had the people come upon him suddenly, before he could avoid them? What follows shows a third possibility. Syr-Sin. Omits καὶ ἰδού.
πλήρης λέρας. This particular is given only by the beloved physician. His face and hands would be covered with ulcers and sores, so that everyone could see that the hideous disease was at a very advanced stage. This perhaps accounts for the man’s venturing into the multitude, and for their not fleeing at his approach; for by a strange provision of the law, “if the leprosy break out abroad in the skin, and the leprosy cover all the skin of him that path the plague, from his head even to his feet … then the priest … shall pronounce him clean that hath the plague” (Lev_13:12, Lev_13:13).
ἐδεήθη αὐτοῦ. Excepting Mat_9:38, the verb is peculiar in N.T. to Lk. and Paul. It is especially freq. in Lk. (8:28, 38, 9:38, 40, 10:2, etc). In LXX it represents a variety of Hebrew words, and is very common. Here Mk. has παρακαλῶν.
ἐὰν θέλῃς, δυνασαί με καθαρίσαι. All three accounts have these words, and the reply to them, Θέλω, καθαρίσθητι, without variation. The δύνασαι is evidence of strong faith in the Divine power of Jesus; for leprosy was believed to be incurable by human means. It was “the stroke” of God, and could not be removed by the hand of man. But it is characteristic of the man’s imperfect apprehension of Christ’s character, that he has more trust in His power than in His goodness. He doubts the will to heal. He says καθαρίσαι rather than θεραπεῦσαι or ἰάσασθαι because of the pollution which leprosy involved (Lev_13:45, Lev_13:46). In O.T. “unclean” and “clean,” not “sick” and “healed,” are the terms used about the leper. The old rationalistic explanation, that καθαρίσαι means “to pronounce clean,” and that the man was already cured, but wanted the great Rabbi of Nazareth to absolve him from the expensive and troublesome journey to Jerusalem, contradicts the plain statements of the Gospels. He was “full of leprosy” (Lk.); “immediately the leprosy departed from him” (Mk. Lk.). If καθαρίσαι means “to pronounce clean,” then καθαρίσθητι means “be thou pronounced clean.” Yet Jesus sends him to the priest (Lk. Mk. Mt.). Contrast the commands of Christ with the Prayers of Moses, Elijah, and Elisha, when they healed. See Deissmann, Bible Studies, p. 216.
Vers. 12-16. The leper is healed in a certain city.
When he was in a certain city. From the scene in the boat on the lake with the fishermen, Luke abruptly passes to another memorable incident which took place probably soon after memorable because it is the first recorded instance of Jesus” contact with that most terrible of earthly maladies, leprosy. The certain city was probably the town of Hattim, for we read in St. Matthew that the famous cure took place as the Lord was coming down from the mount of Beatitudes. (This will be spoken of in its place in Lu 6) Behold a man full of leprosy. The expression “behold” reproduces exactly the scene as the eye-witness remembered it. There were many apparently with the Master on that occasion; but following him, suddenly, as he went on before the crowd, one of those ghastly victims of the frightful disease stood before him, apparently having eluded observation, for they were not allowed to appear in the ordinary haunts of men. The unhappy man fell down and knelt before the great Physician, of whom he may have heard so much, and asks him to exercise his mighty power on the dread malady which was eating away his life. The leper evidently had no doubt whatever of the power of Jesus; he was only anxious as to whether he had the will to cure him. The whole question respecting the exact nature of the disease is a vexed one. The word has been used with varying extent of meaning. As far as we can gather, the disease in its worst form seems to have been a progressive decay arising from the poisoning of the blood. The face and different members of the body were attacked and gradually destroyed, till the sufferer became a hideous spectacle, and literally fell to pieces. It is much disputed whether or not the malady in any of its varied developments and stages was contagious. The strict separation which in well-nigh all forms of the disease was rigidly insisted on would seem at all events to point to the conclusion that, in the popular estimation, it certainly was so; some phases of the malady, however, appear to have been considered as perfectly free from contagious effect for instance, Naaman, the captain of the host of Syria, was a leper. It is hot conceivable that one who was infected with so grave a malady, considered incurable, would, if contagious, have been permitted to have exercised a function which would have brought him into constant contact with masses of his fellow-countrymen. These cases, however, were apparently few in number, and those afflicted with what was usually called leprosy were rigidly separated from their fellows, not only to dwell apart, but positively forbidden to approach the dwellings of men. In the Egyptian legends of the Exodus, the Israelites were said to have been expelled because they were lepers.
Behold (kai idou). Quite a Hebraistic idiom, this use of kai after egeneto (almost like hoti) with idou (interjection) and no verb.
Full of leprosy (plērēs lepras). Mar_1:40 and Mat_8:2 have simply “a leper.” Evidently a bad case full of sores and far advanced as Luke the physician notes. The law (Lev_13:12.) curiously treated advanced cases as less unclean than the earlier stages.
Fell on his face (pesōn epi prosōpon). Second aorist active participle of piptō, common verb. Mar_1:40 has “kneeling” (gonupetōn) and Mat_8:2 “worshipped” (prosekunei). All three attitudes were possible one after the other. All three Synoptics quote the identical language of the leper and the identical answer of Jesus. His condition of the third class turned on the “will” (thelēis) of Jesus who at once asserts his will (thēlō) and cleanses him. All three likewise mention the touch (hēpsato, Luk_5:13) of Christ’s hand on the unclean leper and the instantaneous cure.
Cambridge Bible:Lk Farrar
13. and touched him] This was a distinct violation of the letter, but not of course of the spirit of the Mosaic law (Lev_13:46; Num_5:2). In order to prevent the accidental violation of this law, lepers, until the final stage of the disease, were then as now secluded from all living contact with others, “differing in nothing from a dead man” (Jos. Ant. iii. 11 § 3), and only appeared in public with the cry Tamê, Tamê—‘Unclean! Unclean!’ But Jesus, “because He is the Lord of the Law, does not obey the Law, but makes the Law” (St Ambrose); or rather, he obeys that divine eternal Law of Compassion, in its sudden impulse (σπλαγχνισθεὶς, Mar_1:40), which is older and grander than the written Law. (So Elijah and Elisha had not scrupled to touch the dead, 1 K. 17:21; 2 K. 4:34.) His touching the leper, yet remaining clean, is a type of His taking our humanity upon Him, remaining undefiled.
I will: be thou clean] Two words in the original—“a prompt echo to the ripe faith of the leper”—which are accurately preserved by all three Evangelists. Our Lord’s first miracles were done with a glad spontaneity in answer to faith. But when men had ceased to believe in Him, then lack of faith rendered His later miracles more sad and more delayed (Mar_6:5; Mat_13:58). We never however hear of a moment s delay in attending to the cry of a leper. When the sinner cries from his heart, “I have sinned against the Lord,” the answer comes instantly, “The Lord also hath put away thy sin” (2Sa_12:13).
the leprosy departed] Jesus was not polluted by the touch, but the leper was cleansed. Even so he touched our sinful nature, yet without sin (H. de St Victore).
13. ἐκτείνας τὴν χεῖρα. All three have this Hebraistic amplification. In LXX the phrase commonly occurs in connexion with an act of punishment: Exo_7:5, Exo_7:19, Exo_7:8:1, Exo_7:2, Exo_7:9:22, Exo_7:23, Exo_7:10:12, Exo_7:21, Exo_7:22, Exo_7:14:16, Exo_7:21, 26, 27; Eze_6:14, Eze_6:14:9, 16:27, 25:7, Eze_6:13, 16, 35:3; Zep_1:4, Zep_1:2:13; Jer_6:12, Jer_15:6. In N.T. it rarely has this meaning. Jesus touched the leper on the same principle as that on which He healed on the sabbath: the ceremonial law gives place to the law of charity when the two come into collision. His touch aided the leper’s faith.
ἡ λέπρα ἀπῆλθεν ἀπʼ αὐτοῦ. Here again (see on 4:40) Mk. has the whole expression, of which Lk. and Mt. each use a part. Mk. has ἀπῆλθεν ἀπʼ αὐτοῦ ἡ λέπρα, καὶ ἐκαθαρίσθη, and Mt. has ἐκαθαρίσθη αὐτοῦ ἡλέπρα. All three have εὐθέως or εὐθύς, Showing that Jesus not merely prepared the way for a cure which nature accomplished, but healed the leper at once by His touch.
And he put forth his hand, mad touched him, saying, I will: be thou clean. And immediately the leprosy departed from him. St. Mark adds here, “being touched with compassion.” The Redeemer, at the sight of the man”s awful wretchedness wasting away, shunned by all men, dragging on a hopeless, aimless, weary life in his Divine pity, with a sudden impulse tosses aside all considerations of ceremonial uncleanness or contagion, and lays his hand on the miserable sufferer from whom all shrank, with his word of power exclaimed, “I will: be thou clean.” St. Ambrose writes here how “Jesus, because he is the Lord of the Law, does not obey the Law, but makes the Law.” “Here Jesus obeys that Divine eternal law of compassion, in its sudden impulse, which is older and grander than the written Law” (Farrar). It is observable that in these sudden cases, in which the common brotherhood of man was involved, the nobler spirits of Israel ever rose above all consideration of law and custom, and, putting aside all legal, orthodox restriction, obeyed at once the sovereign dictates of the heart. So Elijah and Elisha, those true saints of God, shrank not from touching the dead.
Cambridge Bible:Lk Farrar
14. he charged him to tell no man] These injunctions to reticence marked especially the early part of the ministry. See 4:35, 5:14, 8:56. The reasons were probably
(i) personal to the healed sufferer, lest his inward thankfulness should be dissipated by the idle and boastful gossip of curiosity (St Chrys.), but far more
(ii) because, as St Matthew expressly tells us, He did not wish His ministry to be accompanied by excitement and tumult, in accordance with the prophecy of Isa_42:2 (Mat_12:15-50, comp. Php_2:6, Php_2:7; Heb_5:5; Joh_18:36); and (iii) because He came, not merely and not mainly, to be a great Physician and Wonder-worker, but to save men’s souls by His Revelation, His Example, and His Death.
It is evident however that there was something very special in this case, for St Mark says (1:43), “violently enjoining him, immediately He thrust him forth, and said to him, See that you say no more to any one” (according to the right reading and translation). Clearly, although the multitudes were following Christ (Mat_8:1), He was walking before them, and the miracle had been so sudden and instantaneous (ἰδοὺ … εὐθέως) that they had not observed what had taken place. Probably our Lord desired to avoid the Levitical rites for uncleanness which the unspiritual ceremonialism of the Pharisees might have tried to force upon Him.
On other occasions, when these reasons did not exist, He even enjoined the publication of an act of mercy, 8:39.
but go, and shew thyself to the priest] We find similar instances of transition from indirect to direct narration, in Act_23:22; Psa_74:16. See my Brief Greek Syntax, p. 196. The priest alone could legally pronounce him clean.
offer for thy cleansing] The student should read for himself the intensely interesting and symbolic rites commanded by Moses for the legal pronunciation of a leper clean in Lev_14. They occupy fourteen chapters of Negaîm, one of the treatises of the Mishnah.
according as Moses commanded] A reference to Lev_14:4-10 will shew how heavy an expense the offering entailed.
for a testimony unto them] i. e. that the priests may assure themselves that the miracle is real. In 9:5; Mar_6:11 the words mean ‘for a witness against them.’
14. καὶ αὐτός . Lk.’s favourite form of connexion in narrative: vv. 1, 17, 37, 1:17, 22, 2:28, 3:23, 4:15, 6:20, etc.
παρήγγειλεν. The word is specially used of commanders, whose orders are passed along the line (παρά), and is freq. in Lk. (8:29, 56, 9:21; Act_1:4, Act_1:4:18, Act_1:5:28, 40, Act_1:10:42, etc.); rare in Mt. (10:5, 15:35) and Mk. (6:8, 8:6); not in Jn. All the others use ἐντέλλεσθαι and Mt. κελεύειν, both of which are rare in Lk. Here Mt. and Mk. have λέγει.
μηδενὶ εἰπεῖν. The charge was given with emphasis (ὅρα μηδενὶ μηδὲν εἴπῃς) and sternness (ἐμβριμησάμενος), as Mk. tells us. The meaning of it is variously explained. To prevent
(1) the man from having intercourse with others before being pronounced clean by proper authority;
(2) the man from becoming proud through frequent telling of the amazing benefit bestowed upon him;
(3) the priests from hearing of the miracle before the man arrived, and then deciding, out of hostility to Jesus, to deny the cure;
(4) the people from becoming unhealthily excited about so great a miracle. Chrysostom and Euthymius suggest
(5) that Christ was setting an example of humility, διδάσκων τὸ ἀκομπαστον καὶ ἀφιλότιμον in forbidding the leper to proclaim His good deeds. Least probable of all is the supposition
(6) that “our Lord desired to avoid the Levitical rites for uncleanness which the unspiritual ceremonialism of the Pharisees might have tried to force upon Him” for having touched the leper. The first of these was probably the chief reason; but one or more of the others may be true also.The man would be likely to think that one who had been so miraculously cured was not bound by ordinary rules; and if he mixed freely with others before he was declared by competent authority to be clean, he would give a handle to Christ’s enemies, who accused Him of breaking the law. In the Sermon on the Mount He had said, “Think not that I came to destroy the law or the prophets” (Mat_5:17); which implies that this had been said of Him. The command μηδενὶ μηδὲν εἴπῃς is further evidence that Jesus did not regard miracles as His chief credentials. And there are many such commands (8:56; Mat_9:30, Mat_9:12:16; Mar_1:34, Mar_3:12, Mar_5:43, Mar_7:36, Mar_8:26).
ἀλλὰ ἀπελθὼν δεῖξον σεαυτὸν τῷ ἰερεῖ. Sudden changes to the oratio directa are common after παραγγέλλω and similar verbs (Act_1:4, Act_1:23:22; Mar_6:8, Mar_6:9?; comp. Act_17:3; Tobit 8:21; Xen. Anab. i. 3, 16, 20). Win. lxiii. 2, p. 725.
τῷ ἱερεῖ. As in the original (Lev_13:49), the sing. refers to the priest who was on duty at the time. Note the καθώς “exactly as”: the reference is to Lev_14:4-10, which enjoins rather expensive offerings. Comp. Mat_1:24. For the form Μωυσῆς see on 2:22. This charge is in all three narratives almost in the same words. On its import see Hort, Judaistic Christianity, p. 30
καθαρισμοῦ. Emundatio (Vulg.), mundatio (f q) purgatio (a), purificatio (d).
εἰς μαρτύριον αὐτοῖς. This addition is in all three, and various explanations have been suggested. That
(1) the priests may be onvinced of My Divine over;
(2) the priests may see that I do of disregard the Law;
(3) the people may be convinced that the cure is complete, and that the leper may be readmitted to society;
(4) the people may see that I do not disregard the Law. It is the sacrifice which is the μαρτύριον, and top, and therefore the second or fourth explanation is to be preferred. Both may be right.
And he charged him to tell no man. We find this desire of Jesus to check publicity after he had worked one of his great works, especially in the earlier part of his ministry. Chrysostom attributes this to the Master”s regard for the one who had been healed, desiring that his gratitude to God for the mercy vouchsafed to him should not be frittered away in words, in idle talk with curious persons. It is, however, more likely that the Master wished to stem rather than to fan the tide of popularity which such mighty works would be sure to excite among the people. What he determined to check was a false and mistaken desire among the people to make him king.
Cambridge Bible:Lk Farrar
15. so much the more went there a fame abroad] It is clear therefore that the leper disobeyed his strict injunction. Such disobedience was natural, and perhaps venial; but certainly not commendable.
great multitudes came together … to be healed] Thus in part defeating our Lord’s purpose.
But so much the more went there a fame abroad of him: and great multitudes came together to hear, and to be healed by him of their infirmities. It is evident that his wishes and commands were neglected, possibly out of a mistaken feeling of gratitude. The result was that his work of teaching was hindered by the crowds who resorted to him at once as a Physician of extraordinary power. But he had graver and much more important work before him than even the blessed task of relieving suffering. So he withdrew himself, says our evangelist, and again spent a short season in solitude and prayer.
Cambridge Bible:Lk Farrar
16. he withdrew himself into the wilderness, and prayed] Rather, But He Himself was retiring in the wilderness and praying. St Mark (1:45) gives us the clearest view of the fact by telling us that the leper blazoned abroad his cure in every direction, “so that He was no longer able to enter openly into a city, but was without, in desert spots; and they began to come to Him from all directions.” We here see that this retirement was a sort of “Levitical quarantine,” which however the multitudes disregarded as soon as they discovered where He was.
and prayed] St Luke’s is eminently the Gospel of Prayer and Thanksgiving. See on 3:21.
And he withdrew himself into the wilderness – Or rather, He frequently withdrew into the desert. This I believe to be the import of the original words, ην ὑποχωρων. He made it a frequent custom to withdraw from the multitudes for a time, and pray, teaching hereby the ministers of the Gospel that they are to receive fresh supplies of light and power from God by prayer, that they may be the more successful in their work; and that they ought to seek frequent opportunities of being in private with God and their books. A man can give nothing unless he first receive it; and no man can be successful in the ministry who does not constantly depend upon God, for the excellence of the power is all from him. Why is there so much preaching, and so little good done? Is it not because the preachers mix too much with the world, keep too long in the crowd, and are so seldom in private with God? Reader! Art thou a herald for the Lord of hosts? Make full proof of thy ministry! Let it never be said of thee, “He forsook all to follow Christ, and to preach his Gospel, but there was little or no fruit of his labor; for he ceased to be a man of prayer, and got into the spirit of the world.” Alas! alas! is this luminous star, that was once held in the right hand of Jesus, fallen from the firmament of heaven, down to the Earth!
Christ at prayer.
The fact that our Lord did withdraw into the wilderness to pray, and that this was not at all a solitary instance of his devotion, may suggest
I THAT PRAYER BECOMES THE STRONG AND THE HOLY AS WELL AS THE WEAK AND THE GUILTY, Jesus prayed; the One who was holy, harmless, undefiled, he in whom was no sin. He had no guilt to confess, no mercy to implore, no cleansing of heart to seek of the Holy Spirit. Yet he prayed; and prayer was becoming in him because he could:
1. Render adoration to the God whom he reverenced and whom he revealed.
2. Offer gratitude to the Father who ministered unto him even as unto us.
3. Utter his love and his devotedness to him in whom he rejoiced and on whose great errand of mercy he had come.
4. Ask for the guidance and support he needed at the Divine hand for the future that was before him. For such purposes as these prayer will become us as much in the heavenly kingdom as it befits us now. When we have no sins to acknowledge and no forgiveness to obtain, we shall still need to approach the Divine Spirit to express our adoration, our gratitude, and our love; also to ask for the maintenance and the guidance of that strong hand on which, in every age and in every sphere, we shall be dependent as we are to-day.
II THAT PRAYER IS PECULIARLY APPROPRIATE BEFORE AND AFTER ALL SPECIAL SERVICES. We have good reason to think that these were the circumstances under which our Lord spent much time in prayer. It is probable that he, under the limitations to which he stooped, found it highly desirable if not needful then. Certainly it is so for us.
1. Before special services we are in greatest need need of strength and inspiration for the work immediately confronting us.
2. After special services we are in greatest danger; for the human spirit is never so exposed to its spiritual adversaries as in that hour when it relaxes after great spiritual excitement.
III THAT IT IS NEEDFUL TO SEEK AND TO FIND OPPORTUNITIES FOR PRAYER. Jesus Christ could not have poured out his heart to his Father as he did, and gained the refreshment and strength he gained in prayer, if he had remained in the midst of the curious and exacting throngs who waited upon him. He withdrew himself into the wilderness. We have intimation that he had to make a very strenuous effort to escape from the multitudes and to secure the seclusion he desired. But he made it. And we shall be wise if we do the same. If we only draw near to God and have fellowship with him when we happen to be left alone, and when occasions offer themselves to us, we shall be very lacking in our devotion; the flame of our piety will languish on the altar of our heart. We must make occasion; we must seize opportunity; “we must compel our life to yield the still hour, when, withdrawing ourselves into solitude, we are alone with God.
IV THAT IF NEEDFUL TO OUR LORD, HOW MUCH MORE NECESSARY MUST SUSTAINED DEVOTION BE TO OURSELVES! If purity needed to pray, how much more need has guilt! if strength, how much more weakness! if wisdom, how much more ignorance and folly! If our Master did not go forth to great trials or temptations without first attuning his spirit and renewing his strength in the near presence of his Father, how much less shall we venture into the arduous and perilous future without first equipping ourselves at the sacred armoury, without first casting ourselves on God and drawing sustaining and overcoming vigour from his infinite resources! C.
But he withdrew himself in the deserts and prayed (autos de ēn hupochōrōn en tais erēmois kai proseuchomenos). Periphrastic imperfects. Literally, “But he himself was with drawing in the desert places and praying.” The more the crowds came as a result of the leper’s story, the more Jesus turned away from them to the desert regions and prayed with the Father. It is a picture of Jesus drawn with vivid power. The wild enthusiasm of the crowds was running ahead of their comprehension of Christ and his mission and message. Hupochōreō (perhaps with the notion of slipping away secretly, hupo-) is a very common Greek verb, but in the N.T. occurs in Luke alone. Elsewhere in the N.T. anachōreō (to go back) appears.