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Adam Clarke Commentary

Luke 14

Introduction

Christ heals a man ill of the dropsy, on a Sabbath day, Luke 14:1 -6. He inculcates humility by a parable, Luke 14:7 -11. The poor to be fed, and not the rich, Luke 14:12 -14. The parable of the great supper, Luke 14:15 -24. How men must become disciples of Christ, Luke 14:25 -27. The parable of the prudent builder, who estimates the cost before he commences his work, Luke 14:28 -30. And of the provident king, Luke 14:31 , Luke 14:32 . The use of these parables, Luke 14:33 . The utility of salt while in its strength and perfection; and its total uselessness when it has lost its savor; Luke 14:34 , Luke 14:35 .

Verse 1

Chief Pharisees - Or, one of the rulers of the Pharisees. A man who was of the sect of the Pharisees, and one of the rulers of the people.To eat bread on the Sabbath day - But why is it that there should be an invitation or dinner given on the Sabbath day? Answer: The Jews purchased and prepared the best viands they could procure for the Sabbath day, in order to do it honor. See several proofs in Lightfoot. As the Sabbath is intended for the benefit both of the body and soul of man, it should not be a day of austerity or fasting, especially among the laboring poor. The most wholesome and nutritive food should be then procured if possible; that both body and soul may feel the influence of this Divine appointment, and give God the glory of his grace. On this blessed day, let every man eat his bread with gladness and singleness of heart, praising God. In doing this, surely there is no reason that a man should feed himself without fear. If the Sabbath be a festival, let it be observed unto the Lord; and let no unnecessary acts be done; and avoid that bane of religious solemnity, giving and receiving visits on the Lord's day.They watched him - Or, were maliciously watching, παρατηρουμενοι - from παρα, intens. or denoting ill, and τηρεω, to observe, watch. Raphelius, on Mark 3:2 , has proved from a variety of authorities that this is a frequent meaning of the word: - clam et insidiose observare, quid alter agat - to observe privately and insidiously what another does. The context plainly proves that this is the sense in which it is to be taken here. The conduct of this Pharisee was most execrable. Professing friendship and affection, he invited our blessed Lord to his table, merely that he might have a more favorable opportunity of watching his conduct, that he might accuse him, and take away his life. In eating and drinking, people feel generally less restraint than at other times, and are apt to converse more freely. The man who can take such an advantage over one of his own guests must have a baseness of soul, and a fellness of malice, of which, we would have thought, for the honor of human nature, that devils alone were capable. Among the Turks, if a man only taste salt with another, he holds himself bound, in the most solemn manner, never to do that person any injury. I shall make no apology for inserting the following anecdote.A public robber in Persia, known by the name of Yacoub, ibn Leits Saffer, broke open the treasury of Dirhem, the governor of Sistan. Notwithstanding the obscurity of the place, he observed, in walking forward, something that sparkled a little: supposing it to be some precious stones, he put his hand on the place, and taking up something, touched it with his tongue, and found it to be salt. He immediately left the treasury, without taking the smallest article with him! The governor finding in the morning that the treasury had been broken open, and that nothing was carried off, ordered it to be published, that "Whoever the robber was who had broke open the treasury, if he declared himself, he should be freely pardoned, and that he should not only receive no injury, but should be received into the good graces of the governor." Confiding in the promise of Dirhem, Yacoub appeared. The governor asked; How it came to pass that, after having broken open the treasury, he took nothing away? Yacoub related the affair as it happened, and added, "I believed that I was become your Friend in eating of your Salt, and that the Laws of that friendship would not permit me to touch any thing that appertained to you." D'Herbelot. Bib. Orient. p. 415. How base must that man be, who professes Christianity, and yet makes his own table a snare for his friend!

Verse 2

The dropsy - Ὑδρωπικος, dropsical; from ὑδωρ, water, and ωψ, the countenance, because in this disorder the face of the patient is often very much bloated. Probably the insidious Pharisee had brought this dropsical man to the place, not doubting that our Lord's eye would affect his heart, and that he would instantly cure him; and then he could most plausibly accuse him for a breach of the Sabbath. If this were the case, and it is likely, how deep must have been the perfidy and malice of the Pharisee!

Verse 4

They held their peace - They could not answer the question but in the affirmative; and as they were determined to accuse him if he did heal the man, they could not give an answer but such as would condemn themselves, and therefore they were silent.

Verse 5

An ass or an ox - See on Luke 13:15 (note).

Verse 7

They chose out the chief rooms - When custom and law have regulated and settled places in public assemblies, a man who is obliged to attend may take the place which belongs to him, without injury to himself or to others: when nothing of this nature is settled, the law of humility, and the love of order, are the only judges of what is proper. To take the highest place when it is not our due is public vanity: obstinately to refuse it when offered is another instance of the same vice; though private and concealed. Humility takes as much care to avoid the ostentation of an affected refusal, as the open seeking of a superior place. See Quesnel. In this parable our Lord only repeats advices which the rabbins had given to their pupils, but were too proud to conform to themselves. Rabbi Akiba said, Go two or three seats lower than the place that belongs to thee, and sit there till they say unto thee, Go up higher; but do not take the uppermost seat, lest they say unto thee, Come down: for it is better that they should say unto thee, Go up, go up; than that they should say, Come down, come down. See Schoettgen.

Verse 11

For whosoever exalteth himself, etc. - This is the unchangeable conduct of God: he is ever abasing the proud, and giving grace, honor, and glory to the humble.

Verse 12

Call not thy friends, etc. - Our Lord certainly does not mean that a man should not entertain at particular times, his friends, etc.; but what he inculcates here is charity to the poor; and what he condemns is those entertainments which are given to the rich, either to flatter them, or to procure a similar return; because the money that is thus criminally laid out properly belongs to the poor.

Verse 14

For they cannot recompense thee - Because you have done it for God's sake only, and they cannot make you a recompense, therefore God will consider himself your debtor, and will recompense you in the resurrection of the righteous. There are many very excellent sayings among the rabbins on the excellence of charity. They produce both Job and Abraham as examples of a very merciful disposition. "Job, say they, had an open door on each of the four quarters of his house, that the poor, from whatever direction they might come, might find the door of hospitality open to receive them. But Abraham was more charitable than Job, for he traveled over the whole land in order to find out the poor, that he might conduct them to his house."

Verse 15

That shall eat bread in the kingdom of God - This is spoken in conformity to the general expectation of the Jews, who imagined that the kingdom of the Messiah should be wholly of a secular nature. Instead of αρτον, bread, EKMS-V, more than one hundred others, with some versions and fathers, read αριϚον, a dinner. This is probably the best reading, as it is likely it was a dinner at which they now sat; and it would be natural for the person to say, Happy is he who shall dine in the kingdom of God. It does not appear that there was any but this person present, who was capable of relishing the conversation of our Lord, or entering at all into its spiritual reference.

Verse 16

A certain man made a great supper, etc. - See a similar parable to this, though not spoken on the same occasion, explained, Matthew 22:1 -14 (note).

Verse 17

Sent his servant - Messengers are sent to invite the guests to a Hindoo feast; when not only relations, but all persons of the same division of caste in the neighborhood, are invited. A refusal to attend is considered as a great affront.

Verse 22

And yet there is room - On some occasions, so numerous are the guests that there is not room for them to sit in the court of the person who makes the feast, and a larger is therefore borrowed.

Verse 23

Compel them to come in - αναγκασον, Prevail on them by the most earnest entreaties. The word is used by Matthew, Matthew 14:22 , and by Mark, Mark 6:45 ; in both which places, when Christ is said, αναγκαζειν, to constrain his disciples to get into the vessel, nothing but his commanding or persuading them to do it can be reasonably understood. The Latins use cogo, and compello, in exactly the same sense, i.e. to prevail on by prayers, counsels, entreaties, etc. See several examples in Bishop Pearce, and in Kypke. No other kind of constraint is ever recommended in the Gospel of Christ; every other kind of compulsion is antichristian, can only be submitted to by cowards and knaves, and can produce nothing but hypocrites, See at the end of the chapter.

Verse 26

And hate not - Matthew, Matthew 10:37 , expresses the true meaning of this word, when he says, He who loveth his father and mother More than me. In Matthew 6:24 , he uses the word hate in the same sense. When we read, Romans 9:13 , Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated, the meaning is simply, I have loved Jacob - the Israelites, more than Esau - the Edomites; and that this is no arbitrary interpretation of the word hate, but one agreeable to the Hebrew idiom, appears from what is said on Genesis 29:30 , Genesis 29:31 , where Leah's being hated is explained by Rachel's being loved more than Leah. See also Deuteronomy 21:15 -17; and Bishop Pearce on this place. See also the notes on Matthew 10:37 (note).

Verse 27

Doth not bear his cross - See on Matthew 10:38 (note); Matthew 16:24 (note).

Verse 28

To build a tower - Probably this means no more than a dwelling house, on the top of which, according to the Asiatic manner, battlements were built, both to take the fresh air on, and to serve for refuge from and defense against an enemy. It was also used for prayer and meditation.This parable represents the absurdity of those who undertook to be disciples of Christ, without considering what difficulties they were to meet with, and what strength they had to enable them to go through with the undertaking. He that will be a true disciple of Jesus Christ shall require no less than the mighty power of God to support him; as both hell and earth will unite to destroy him.

Verse 33

Whosoever he be of you - This seems to be addressed particularly to those who were then, and who were to be, preachers of his Gospel; and who were to travel over all countries, publishing salvation to a lost world.

Verse 34

Salt is good - See on Matthew 5:13 (note), and Mark 9:50 (note).On the subject referred to this place from Luke 14:23 , Compel them to come in, which has been adduced to favor religious persecution, I find the following sensible and just observations in Dr. Dodd's notes.From all this we may learn that the Church which tolerates, encourages, and practises persecution, under the pretense of concern for the purity of the faith, and zeal for God's glory, is not the Church of Christ; and that no man can be of such a Church without endangering his salvation. Let it ever be the glory of the Protestant Church, and especially of the Church of England, that it discountenances and abhors all persecution on a religious account; and that it has diffused the same benign temper through that State with which it is associated.

Luke 14


  1 And it came to pass, as he went into the house of one of the chief Pharisees to eat bread on the sabbath day, that they watched him.
  2 And, behold, there was a certain man before him which had the dropsy.
  3 And Jesus answering spake unto the lawyers and Pharisees, saying, Is it lawful to heal on the sabbath day?
  4 And they held their peace. And he took him, and healed him, and let him go;
  5 And answered them, saying, Which of you shall have an ass or an ox fallen into a pit, and will not straightway pull him out on the sabbath day?
  6 And they could not answer him again to these things.
  7 And he put forth a parable to those which were bidden, when he marked how they chose out the chief rooms; saying unto them,
  8 When thou art bidden of any man to a wedding, sit not down in the highest room; lest a more honourable man than thou be bidden of him;
  9 And he that bade thee and him come and say to thee, Give this man place; and thou begin with shame to take the lowest room.
  10 But when thou art bidden, go and sit down in the lowest room; that when he that bade thee cometh, he may say unto thee, Friend, go up higher: then shalt thou have worship in the presence of them that sit at meat with thee.
  11 For whosoever exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.
  12 Then said he also to him that bade him, When thou makest a dinner or a supper, call not thy friends, nor thy brethren, neither thy kinsmen, nor thy rich neighbours; lest they also bid thee again, and a recompense be made thee.
  13 But when thou makest a feast, call the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind:
  14 And thou shalt be blessed; for they cannot recompense thee: for thou shalt be recompensed at the resurrection of the just.
  15 And when one of them that sat at meat with him heard these things, he said unto him, Blessed is he that shall eat bread in the kingdom of God.
  16 Then said he unto him, A certain man made a great supper, and bade many:
  17 And sent his servant at supper time to say to them that were bidden, Come; for all things are now ready.
  18 And they all with one consent began to make excuse. The first said unto him, I have bought a piece of ground, and I must needs go and see it: I pray thee have me excused.
  19 And another said, I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to prove them: I pray thee have me excused.
  20 And another said, I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come.
  21 So that servant came, and shewed his lord these things. Then the master of the house being angry said to his servant, Go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in hither the poor, and the maimed, and the halt, and the blind.
  22 And the servant said, Lord, it is done as thou hast commanded, and yet there is room.
  23 And the lord said unto the servant, Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled.
  24 For I say unto you, That none of those men which were bidden shall taste of my supper.
  25 And there went great multitudes with him: and he turned, and said unto them,
  26 If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.
  27 And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple.
  28 For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it?
  29 Lest haply, after he hath laid the foundation, and is not able to finish it, all that behold it begin to mock him,
  30 Saying, This man began to build, and was not able to finish.
  31 Or what king, going to make war against another king, sitteth not down first, and consulteth whether he be able with ten thousand to meet him that cometh against him with twenty thousand?
  32 Or else, while the other is yet a great way off, he sendeth an ambassage, and desireth conditions of peace.
  33 So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple.
  34 Salt is good: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be seasoned?
  35 It is neither fit for the land, nor yet for the dunghill; but men cast it out. He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.

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