The Agora
Bible Commentary

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Luke 11

Luk 11:1

PLACE: In OT, "place" = holy place, sanctuary. Was Jesus praying in the Temple? Cp usage of sw in Mat 27:33; 28:6; Joh 4:20; 11:48; 14:2,3; 18:2; Act 6:14; 7:35,49; 21:28.

"He might well have been in the garden of Gethsemane at the time... it was a favourite resort of the Lord, and near Bethany" (GEM).

Luk 11:2

V 2: Three requests that God be glorified.

Luk 11:3

Vv 3,4: Three personal requests.

Luk 11:4

"If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me" (Psa 66:18).

Cp Mat 6:13: "For thine is... kingdom, power, and glory."


DELIVER US FROM... EVIL...: "Although all natural evolutions are not of God, some may be so that apparently present no features to distinguish them from natural occurrences in general. This double fact has the double effect of restraining presumption and encouraging faith towards God. We may not as a matter of natural discrimination be able with certainty to distinguish between what is providential (or truly of God) and what is not: but this we know, that the hand of God is at work, and that all who know and fear and truly love and obey Him, are the subjects of that guidance which constitutes the answer to the prayer: 'Deliver us from evil' " (WP 174).

Luk 11:6

"The friend who came on his journey with 'nothing' refs to the disciples whom Jesus had sent out on their journey with nothing (Luk 9:3). When He told them to 'eat such things as are set before you' (Luk 10:8), he did not just mean they should not be picky about their food. He used the same word in Luk 11:6 to describe how the faithful friend 'set [food] before' his visitor. As they travelled around, the disciples were to be received in the way he was describing. Those in that early brotherhood of believers who received and supported them were to do so knowing that these brethren were in their turn responding to human need, and they could be fellow-helpers in the gospel's work by showing hospitality. John says just the same: 'Because that for his name's sake they went forth [alluding to the great commission to go into all the world], taking nothing of the Gentiles [ie the unbelievers]. We therefore ought to help receive such, that we might be fellow-helpers to the truth" (3Jo 1:7,8)" (DH).

Luk 11:7

WITH ME IN BED: Prob a one-room house.

"The Lord will one day come to us at midnight, and the unworthy will not open to Him (Song 5:2, etc). And right now he stands at the door and knocks (Rev 3:20). The rejected will know what it is like to stand knocking at the Lord's shut door and be unanswered (Mat 25:10; Luk 13:25). He surely intended us to make such links within His teachings. The message is quite clear -- those who can't be bothered to respond to the knocking of others, who refuse to feel for others in their desperation, are the ones who will then come to know just how that feels, as in ultimate spiritual desperation they hammer at the Lord's door. From this it surely follows that in our response to the desperation of others, we are working out our own eternal destiny" (DH).

Luk 11:8

BOLDNESS: Lit "without shame": cp ideas: Luk 18:1... Gen 18:23-33; 32:24-29; Isa 62:6,7.

Luk 11:10

FOR EVERYONE WHO ASKS RECEIVES; HE WHO SEEKS FINDS; AND TO HIM WHO KNOCKS, THE DOOR WILL BE OPENED: "The briefest way to cover all that God does for His children", ie without exceptions cluttering up the statement.

Luk 11:11

BREAD... FISH: Jesus exemplified God's love in giving bread and fish to his "children": Luk 5:6,10; Mat 14:19; 15:36; Joh 21:9.

Luk 11:12

Scorpions, at rest and curled up, resemble eggs (PM 40). "Scorpion", in Gr, may sig a biting retort (Isa 59:5; Eze 2:6; Luk 10:19).

Luk 11:13

GIVE THE HOLY SPIRIT: If future, may sig "Holy Spirit-empowered nature", or immortality.

Luk 11:14

He that had been dumb now spoke. And they that had spoken were now dumb.

"Demoniacs" suffered from: blindness, dumbness (Mat 12:22; Luk 11:14), insanity, schizophrenia (Mar 3:21; 5:1-5; Joh 10:20), epilepsy (Mar 9:17-27), and arthritis (Luk 13:11-17).

Luk 11:15

BY BEELZEBUB, THE PRINCE OF DEMONS, THAT HE IS DRIVING OUT DEMONS": Perhaps they took their lead from Christ's own family (Mar 3:21). This campaign continued (Mat 10:25; 12:24; Mar 3:22; Luke 11:15; Joh 7:20; 8:48,52; 10:20).

BEELZEBUB: Lit, Beelzebul = "Lord of the dwelling". Corrupted by the Jews to Beelzebub: "Lord of the flies", and (by implication) "Lord of the dunghill". Irony: it was in fact by the TRUE "LORD" of the TRUE "dwelling" that Jesus did his work!

Luk 11:16

A SIGN FROM HEAVEN: Cp 2Ki 1:2,3,6; Luk 23:8.

Luk 11:17

Christ is speaking by parable (Mar 3:23), thus precluding a lit interpretation (cp v 18: 'I am only arguing this way because...').

Vv 17-20: 'If by my works I show my opposition to demons, and since you oppose me, then you must be on the side of Beelzebub!'

Luk 11:18

// Rom 6:16, where "Sin" // demons, etc.

Luk 11:19

'And if I -- who am yet sinless! -- you be the judge -- do this...' etc.

Luk 11:20

See Exo 8:19: context of Moses and the magicians of Egypt: rival "magicians". See lessons there: even the conjurers of Egypt admitted that they were facing an obviously greater power.

Luk 11:21

"Satan" possessing a man: cit Isa 49:24,25.

Luk 11:22

By Jesus' "logical" reasoning, only a stronger can overcome "Satan". And who is stronger than "Satan" except God?! Therefore Jesus must be "from God".

TAKES AWAY THE ARMOR: That is, cast him out, with all his "goods" or works. Cp David with Goliath in 1Sa 17:54.

DIVIDES UP THE SPOILS: See Isa 53:12; Col 2:15.

Luk 11:23

Ct Mar 9:40.

In Luk 9:50 those not against the disciples and their work will not lightly speak evil of Christ. It isn't ours to forbid any work done, however imperfectly, in Christ's name. But in Luk 11:23 neutrality now becomes an impossibility.

Luk 11:24

AN EVIL SPIRIT: Sig a wicked thought or teaching, or an evil practice (Eph 2:2,3).

SEEKING REST AND DOES NOT FIND IT: Because the only true rest is to be found in Christ (Mat 11:28-30).

IT: The "evil spirit", not the man!

Luk 11:25

Vv 25,26: Much of the nation had "repented" at the preaching of John the Baptist, but it was not enough! It is not enough to cast out the "demon" of wicked thoughts and actions; the void must be filled with good and positive things. Since "nature abhors a void", then other wicked thoughts and actions will rush in to fill the mind and life of the one who casts out the negative, but does not put the positive in its place.

Luk 11:26


Luk 11:27

BLESSED IS THE MOTHER: No ref to a human father.

Luk 11:28

Same lesson as Luk 10:37. Jesus does not condemn this woman, but he doesn't support her either. He makes the point that whilst Mary was to be called blessed (Luke 1:42-48), the real blessing was on those that turned to him and believed: Luke 6:47,48; 8:21; Psa 1:1-3; 112:1; 119:1-6.

Luk 11:32

THE MEN OF NINEVEH WILL STAND UP AT THE JUDGMENT: Gentile repentance is a witness to faithless Israel.

"Is it possible to understand a reference like this on the nonhistoric theory of the book of Jonah? The future Judge is speaking words of solemn warning to those who shall hereafter stand convicted at his bar. Intensely real he would make the scene in anticipation to them, as it was real, as if then present, to himself. And yet we are to suppose him to say that imaginary persons who at the imaginary preaching of an imaginary prophet repented in imagination, shall rise up in that day and condemn the actual impenitence of those his actual hearers" (TT Perowne).

THE JUDGMENT: Definite article: the Judgment Seat of Christ.

Luk 11:33

BOWL: Or "bushel" (RSV; AV). Gr word only in this instance, ie Mat 5:15; Mar 4:21; Luk 11:33: an instrument of commerce!

Luk 11:34

BUT WHEN THEY [YOUR EYES] ARE BAD: View distorted by wealth: Deu 15:9; Pro 23:6,7; 28:22.

Luk 11:39

What you put in the cup or dish (ie food to cook) was obtained by greed and wickedness!

Surely there's a lesson in there somewhere. The "outside" of our "cups" and "dishes" can never be made clean (Luk 11:37-41), by anything we can do... until the whole is cleansed by Christ, with the "redemption of the body" (Rom 8:23).

And Christ himself, in offering the one perfect-and-final-and-for-all sacrifice, was of necessity befouled by the process itself -- just like the priests under the Law, and more so! He was "cursed" by hanging on a tree, sure... but more than that -- he was treated in all outward appearance as the worst of criminals, left beaten, bloody, spat upon, and probably abused and insulted with other unmentioned horrors. Blood, sweat, and tears... and then driven down into the dust under the burden of a heavy cross. Dragged back to his feet, pushed and bullied along to the place of crucifixion, stripped possibly of even the last bit of clothes, and the last vestige of modesty, and lifted up high -- where nothing could be hidden -- and all the "beasts" that surrounded him could look, and laugh, and mock.

But it was all the "outside" of the "cup". The "inside" was pure and clean and white. It could not be tainted by anything cruel men might do to the "outside".

Luk 11:42

"Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices--mint, dill and cummin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law--justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former" (Mat 23:23).

Tractate Maaseroth opens with a ruling on what is liable to the tithe, "all that which is food", and then defines when that food is liable -- not in its early stage but in its later stage (1:1). The determinations become more detailed in the eight mishnot that follow: "figs" (1:2); "carabs" (1:3); "greens -- cucumbers, gourds, melons..." (1:4); etc. The attention given every plant reflects the rabbinic concern to legislate on every detail of life, to leave nothing unaddressed. The Lord condemns the scribes and Pharisees as "hypocrites" because they tithed "mint, dill, and cummin" but neglected the "more important requirements of the law."

Maaseroth 4:5 gives instruction on dill and seed. In the Law of Moses none of these are listed for tithing, but evidently because these were herbs and seed used as seasoning in food they were considered tithable. It may be that the rabbis went beyond the intent of the law with such concern for detail, but it was not their meticulous observance of tithing that Jesus condemned but their lack of equal or greater attention to "justice and mercy and faithfulness." In Maaseroth 5:7 the exact rulings reach the absurd with legislation regarding ant-holes alongside a heap of corn. "The corn inside of them is also liable" to be tithed.

BUT YOU NEGLECT JUSTICE AND THE LOVE OF GOD: "After all that the prophets had said, Christ needed to explain the law of justice again. His contemporaries were zealous for their traditions but they neglected the weightier matters of the law of God, justice, faith and love. They were eager to lade men with heavy and unnecessary burdens but they could not apply the just balance and just measure to the affairs of spiritual life. So has it been in later days. There has often been a passionate zeal for rectitude in little matters of form and expression, resulting in bitter criticism and often injustice to fellow labourers. We have a strong conviction that when the Just One passes final judgment, some well-meaning but self-centred men will be reproved because they have rigorously enforced so many rules of their own and have been neglectful of justice, mercy, faith and the love of God" (PrPr 186). See Lesson, Weightier matters.

Luk 11:43

"They love the place of honor at banquets and the most important seats in the synagogues; they love to be greeted in the marketplaces and to have men call them 'Rabbi' " (Mat 23:6,7).

Luk 11:44

UNMARKED GRAVES: Not whited graves, as ct Mat 23:27. Here, hypocrisy. Cp Psa 5: inwardly, like a grave!

Luk 11:47

Vv 47,48: Cp Mat 23:29-31. "How? Why? Might not the Pharisees have replied that, by honoring their remains and their memory, they condemned their murderers? The greatest sin of Israel and of the world was and is, apostasy from the true God and His worship by idolatry; and the most prevalent mode of this apostasy is sacrilegious reverence for dead men's tombs and bones... Now, it was for rebuking this and other kinds of idolatry, that 'the fathers killed the prophets'; and those who built their tombs would, in like manner, kill anyone who condemned their idolatrous reverence for these very sepulchers. Thus the Pharisees, by the very act of building those tombs of the prophets, and 'honoring' them as they did, showed plainly that they were activated by the same spirit that led their fathers to kill them; and, to make this matter self-evident, they very soon proceeded to crucify the Lord of the prophets because of his faithful rebukes. Nor has this spirit changed in the least during the subsequent eighteen hundred years. Now, here, in Jerusalem, should the Savior reappear, and condemn with the same severity our modern Pharisees, they would kill him upon his own reputed tomb. I say this not with a faltering perhaps, but with a painful certainty. Alas! how many thousands of God's people have been slaughtered because of their earnest and steadfast protest against pilgrimages, idolatrous worship of saints, tombs, bones, images, and pictures! And whenever I see people particularly zealous in building, repairing, or serving those shrines, I know them to be the ones who allow the deeds of those who killed the prophets, and who would do the same under like circumstances" (LB 639,640).

Do we "build up" the "tombs" of our Christadelphian "prophets"? If so, is there any danger in doing so?

Are dead "prophets" less threatening than living ones? Seems to me that dead "prophets" (and I use the term loosely here -- whether referring to Isaiah and Jeremiah, or John Thomas and Robert Roberts) can be shut up in books, closed between the covers, and "controlled"... whereas living "prophets" go walking around sticking their noses into our business when we least like it, encouraging us more directly by word or deed to DO something when we would rather do nothing, and generally kicking us out of our "comfort zones". They can't be as easily "shut up" or "put on a shelf". Maybe that's why we don't care for the living "prophets". Maybe that's why we sometimes hasten their demise! Jesus also said, "Only in his hometown, among his relatives and in his own house is a prophet without honor" (Mar 6:4).

Luk 11:49

Vv 49-51: "Therefore I am sending you prophets and wise men and teachers. Some of them you will kill and crucify; others you will flog in your synagogues and pursue from town to town. And so upon you will come all the righteous blood that has been shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah son of Berekiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar" (Mat 23:34,35).

Luk 11:51

ABEL... ZECHARIAH: For Zechariah, see 2Ch 24:20,21. Thus the first and last martyrdoms in OT. (By Jewish reckoning, Chronicles is the last book of the Scriptures.)

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