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Bible Commentaries

Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary

Luke 19

Verses 1-10


Luke 19:1. Jericho.—“The city of palm-trees (Deuteronomy 34:3; Judges 1:16) is about six miles from the Jordan and fifteen from Jerusalem. When taken by Joshua the site had been cursed (Joshua 6:26), but in the reign of Ahab, Hiel of Bethel defied and underwent the curse (1 Kings 16:34). In later times Jericho became a great and wealthy town, being fertilised by its abundant springs (2 Kings 2:21) and enriched by its palms and balsams” (Farrar). The trade in balsam was extensive, and Zacchæus was evidently superintendent of the tax-collectors who had the oversight of the revenue derived from that article.

Luke 19:2. Zacchæus.—I.e., Hebrew “Zaccai” (“pure”) (Ezra 2:9; Nehemiah 7:14). Chief among the publicans.—Or “a chief publican” (R.V.). The word so translated occurs here only.

Luke 19:3. The press.—“The crowd” (R.V.).

Luke 19:4. Sycomore.—See Luke 17:6 : a tree with short trunk and wide lateral branches.

Luke 19:5. A previous knowledge of the man is not precluded. His name, occupation, and reputation, may have been known to Jesus, but the Saviour showed supernatural knowledge of his mind and heart. I must.—A Divine plan, fixing every event in our Lord’s ministry. Cf. Luke 4:43, Luke 13:33. Abide.—Probably remain over the night.

Luke 19:7. They all murmured—An indication of the strong national prejudice against the occupation of such men as Zacchæus. To be guest.—Or, “to lodge” (R.V.).

Luke 19:8. Stood.—Took up his stand. The word expresses a formal and resolute undertaking to be guided by the promptings of conscience, which had now been awakened by Christ’s visit to him. I give.—I.e., not “I am in the habit of giving,” but “I now propose to give.” If I have taken.—I.e., “whatever I have taken.” He does not deny the guilt of his past life. Restore fourfold.—The restitution commanded by the Law in cases of theft (Exodus 22:1).

Luke 19:9. This day.—Evidently the day Christ entered his house, and not the following morning. Is salvation come,—“Meaning by ‘salvation’ both Himself, and the conversion of Zacchæus, which His words had wrought” (Speaker’s Commentary). Is a son of Abraham.—I.e., is a Jew—one of “the lost sheep of the house of Israel,” not “has become a son of Abraham by repentance.”

Luke 19:10. For the Son of Man, etc.—The greater his guilt, the more need he has of a Saviour.


Melted by Kindness.—This visit to Jericho was the last. It was but a few days before Calvary, and the near approach of the end, as well as the tension of concentrated purpose which marked our Lord in these last days, make the delay and effort to win Zacchæus the more striking. He was the last convert, so far as we know, before the cross. The penitent thief was the next.

I. The character and motives of Zacchæus.—A Jew who had taken service with Rome could have little patriotism and less religion. His office showed that he cared more for gain than for honour or duty. A Jew publican was classed with thieves, and regarded as an agent of the enemy and hated accordingly—and knew that he was so hated. The harsh judgment was no doubt generally deserved, and as a rule would produce the very vices which it attributed. Brand a class with an evil fame and its members will become what the world says they are. Bitterness breeds bitterness, and Zacchæus would repay contempt with interest. All this is unpromising enough; but buried below greed, and unscrupulousness, and bitter animosity, was a little seed, the nature of which the man himself did not apparently recognise. He said to himself that it was curiosity that drew him. Probably he was doing himself injustice. There was something better vaguely stirring in him, which he was afraid to acknowledge to himself. The fame of Jesus as the friend of publicans had probably reached Zacchæus and touched him. His determination may set us an example. He makes up his mind that see Jesus he will. In all walks of life difficulties are sown thick, and perhaps thickest on the road to Christ. But they can be overcome, and nothing need keep the sight of Jesus from a heart that is in earnest in wishing it. Zacchæus had been long accustomed to ridicule, and did not mind a jeer or two as he climbed the sycomore. We have often to drop dignity if we want to get high enough above the mob to see the Lord; and a man afraid of being laughed at will stand a poor chance.

II. Christ’s over-answer to Zacchæus’ desire.—Our Lord is not accustomed to name people without having some deep significance in doing so. There is always an emphasis of love, or warning, or authority, in His use of men’s names. Here He would probably let Zacchæus feel that he was completely known, and certainly asserts mastership and demands a disciple’s allegiance. There is no other instance of Christ’s volunteering His company; and His thus inviting Himself to Zacchæus’ house shows that He knew that He would be welcome, and that the wish to ask Him was only held back by the sense of unworthiness. Christ never goes where He is not wanted, any more than He stays away where He is wanted; but He often comes in more abundant self-communication and larger gifts than we dare ask, however we may long for them. Sometimes, too, it is His answer which first interprets to us our wishes. Observe, too, that “must.” Jesus often speaks of a great “must” ruling His life, and here it determines a comparatively small thing; for the small thing is a means of accomplishing the great end of seeking and saving (Luke 19:10), and only he who is faithful to the law of the Father’s will in small things will keep it in great. The offer of visiting Zacchæus expresses Christ’s kindly feelings and declares that He has no share in the common aversion. That voluntary association with the outcast is a symbol of Christ’s whole work. The same desire to save, and willingness to be identified with the impure, which led His feet into the shunned house of Zacchæus, led Him from glory to earth and caused Him to “dwell among us.” Zacchæus comes down as fast as he can, and is glad; for he has found a Saviour. Christ is glad, for He has found a sinner whom He will make a saint. Both have found what they sought.

III. The transforming effect of Christ’s love.—The experience of Christ’s love convinces of sin far more thoroughly than threats. The frowns of society only make the wrong-doer more hard and merciless; but the touch of love melts him as a warm hand laid on snow. The sight of Jesus reveals our unlikeness and makes us long after some faint resemblance to Him. So Zacchæus did not need Christ to bid him to make restitution, nor show him the blackness of his life; but he sees all the past in a new light, and is aware that there is something sweeter than ill-gotten gains. If we love Jesus Christ as He deserves, we shall not need to be told to give Him our all. The true spring of self-sacrifice is the reception of Christ’s love. Note the calm dignity and self-assertion of Jesus, identifying His coming into the house with the coming of salvation. Who else would have dared to say that without being laughed or hissed down as unsufferably arrogant? Observe the reason for His coming—namely, that Zacchæus also is a “son of Abraham,” publican as he is. That cannot mean merely a born Jew, but must refer to true spiritual descent and affinity.—Maclaren.


Luke 19:1-10. “On the borders of the kingdom.”

I. We cannot tell all Zacchæus’ motives.—Curiosity would seem to have had a leading share. But this curiosity may have had something substantial at its root. He may have heard Jesus spoken of as the friend of publicans and sinners. His conscience may have testified loudly that he stood greatly in need of such a friend.

II. Christ was worthy of His title.—“Friend of Sinners.” The very summons must have thrilled Zacchæus’ soul. He to be selected among all the men of Jericho as the host of Jesus! For him to come into such close contact with the Lord of the kingdom of heaven? What grace there was in selecting Zacchæus!

III. A great reformation in heart and life.—How much need of it! The curiosity is changed into a far higher feeling; his climbing becomes the symbol of a far greater elevation. The change shows itself in the new life he purposes to lead. The very sight of the poor, simple, beneficent and self-denying Christ makes his own old life look black and hideous, and makes him most sincere and cordial in the new ways and habits he resolves to follow.—Blaikie.

I. The meeting of Jesus and Zacchæus (Luke 19:1-5).

II. Jesus entertained in the house of Zacchæus (Luke 19:6-8).

III. The declaration of Jesus concerning Zacchæus (Luke 19:9-10).

I. The rich publican.

II. The inquirer.

III. The called.

IV. The saved.—Palmer.

Conversion of Zacchœus.

I. Difficulties attending it.—

1. The stigma attaching to the office he held.
2. The temptation to retain a lucrative employment.
3. His wealth.

II. His triumph over the difficulties.

III. Proofs of the genuineness of his conversion.—

1. Active gratitude.
2. Charity.
3. Restitution.

Note here—

I. The simple, natural way in which a soul is brought within the range of Christ’s supernatural, Divine power.—The commonplace motive of curiosity fully explains the action of Zacchæus.

II. The instantaneous nature of conversion.

III. The evidence of conversion in the correction of evil habits and besetting sins.

IV. Religion sanctifies the life of those who come under its influence.—It cleanses the heart and passes from it to the house. Those most in contact with the true servant of Christ are most convinced of the beneficial change that has been wrought in the character.

Luke 19:2. “And he was rich.”—Yet, as the sequel shows, rich as he was, he had not incurred the woe of those rich who are full, and who have so received their consolation here that all longings for a higher consolation are extinct in them (Luke 6:24).

Luke 19:3. “Sought to see Jesus.”—His desire to see Jesus is not to be classed with the curiosity of Herod, but is rather akin to that longing after salvation which animated those Greeks who sought to see Jesus at the feast (John 12:21).

Spiritual Dwarfs.—Zacchæus is a typical character, the type of many who are wanting to see Christ, but who are spiritually too short to see Him; who are looking out for sycomores to help them to see. What produces spiritual smallness?

I. Cold.—In the vegetable world, cold is one of the secrets of dwarfed stature. Sunshine means height. Read Stuart Mill’s autobiography. His home was an ice-house.

II. Pride.—A man ever looking at himself, or his work, or his intellect—never looking higher than self. He thus fails to see One who is higher.

III. Speciality of training.—This may be a hindrance to spiritual growth. Ours is an age of specialists. Men give themselves up to one pursuit, and to see one order of facts. So, looking for nothing else, they see nothing else. A giant in materialism is often a spiritual dwarf.—Lovell.

Luke 19:4. “Ran.”—God always rewards us if He sees us eager for good.—Theophylact.

Climbed up.”—He overcomes that false pride, through which so many precious opportunities, and oftentimes in the highest things of all, are lost.

Luke 19:5. “Saw him and said.”—He knows how to discover His own in places the most unlikely. He finds a Matthew at the receipt of custom, a Nathanael under the fig-tree; and so, with sure and unerring glance, He detects Zacchæus in the sycomore, and at once lays bare his hiding-place.

Zacchæus.”—“He calleth His own sheep by name and leadeth them out” (John 10:3). Christ

(1) singles him out by a glance; then
(2) addresses him by name; and
(3) calls him to minister to Him.

Must abide at thy house.”—Words of an extraordinary grace, for while the Lord accepted many invitations into the houses of men, yet we do not read that He honoured any but the publican by thus offering Himself to his hospitality. Adopting the royal style, which was familiar to Him, and which commends the loyalty of a vassal in the most delicate manner, by freely exacting his services, He informed Zacchæus of His intention to visit him, and signified His pleasure that a banquet should be instantly prepared.—Ecce Homo.

Christ’sMusts.”—We have Christ applying the greatest principle to the smallest duty. Why must He abide in Zacchæus’ house? Because Zacchæus was to be saved, and was worth saving. What was the “must”? To stop for an hour or two on His road to the cross. So He teaches us that in a life penetrated by the Divine will, which we gladly obey, there are no things too great, and none too trivial to be brought under the dominion of that law, and to be regulated by that Divine necessity. Obedience is obedience, whether in large things or in small. There is no scale of magnitude applicable to the distinction between God’s will and that which is not God’s will. Gravitation rules the motes that dance in the sunshine as well as the mass of Jupiter. God’s truth is not too great to rule the smallest duties. Bring your doing, then, under that all-embracing law of duty.—Maclaren.

Luke 19:6-8. Evidences of Conversion.—

1. Readiness in obeying the call of Christ.
2. Joyfulness in receiving Him.
3. Deeds of charity.
4. Endeavours to remedy past faults.

Luke 19:6. “He made haste.”—Zacchæus in the sycomore tree was as ripe fruit, which dropped into the Saviour’s lap at His first and lightest touch.—Trench.

Luke 19:7. “That is a sinner.”—Here the fault-finders were in the wrong; he had been a sinner, but now he is a new creature.

Luke 19:8.

I. A public confession.

II. A public vow of restitution and dedication to God.

The half of my goods.”—A man might bestow “all his goods to feed the poor” (1 Corinthians 13:3), and yet his generosity might be of no value in the sight of God; yet St. Luke here implies that the action was an indication of inward repentance.

Luke 19:9. “This day is salvation.”—Jesus says that salvation has come to the house of the publican, not because that house had received one of His visits, but because its inhabitant really showed himself another man from what he appeared to be in the eyes of the multitude. While they had even just before named him as “a man that is a sinner,” the Saviour now names him “a son of Abraham”—one who not only was descended from Abraham, but also was animated by the faith for which Abraham was famous.

This day is salvation.”—Memorable saying! Salvation has already come, but it is not a day nor an hour old. The word “to this house” was probably designed to meet the taunt, “He is gone to lodge at a sinner’s house.” The house, says Jesus, is no longer a sinner’s house, polluted and polluting: “’Tis now a saved house, all meet for the reception of Him who came to save.” What a precious idea is salvation to a house, expressing the new air that would henceforth breathe in it, and the new impulses from its head which would reach its members.—Brown.

Luke 19:10. “For the Son of Man,” etc.

I. What we have lost takes a special dearness and value in our thoughts; so is it with God.—He is with us now and is now seeking that He may save us.

II. A man may be lost in more senses than one.—Lost in sin, lost in the crowd of men, lost in doubt and fear, lost to his proper use and joy in the world: and, in whatever sense we may be lost, His purpose is to find and save us.

Verses 11-27


Luke 19:11. He added.—This parable is thus distinctly connected with the words spoken in the house of Zacchæus. It is, therefore, not to be confused with the parable of the Talents, from which it differs in structure and incidents, and which was spoken in Jerusalem. “The main differences between the two parables may be stated thus:

1. That of the Talents tells us the simple story of the committal of certain sums of money to individuals, and of the use made by each of the sum entrusted to him; that of the Pounds is complicated with a distinct incident—viz., the opposition of the citizens, and the vengeance taken upon them.
2. In that of the Talents the principal person is a householder; in that of the Pounds he is a nobleman seeking a kingdom.
3. The Talents are given in various proportions; the Pounds are distributed equally.
4. There is an enormous difference between the sums entrusted in each case (the ‘pound’ being equal to about £3 of our money, the ‘talent’ being sixty times as much).
5. In the parable of the Pounds the slothful servant only suffers loss; in that of the Talents a positive punishment is inflicted besides” (Speaker’s Commentary). Nigh to Jerusalem.—Jericho is about fifteen miles distant from it. They thought, etc.—I.e., the followers of Jesus anticipated that this formal progress to Jerusalem, during which so many miracles were wrought, would issue in the open manifestation of God’s kingdom.

Luke 19:12. A certain nobleman.—In this Christ refers to His own dignity as “born king of the Jews” (Matthew 2:2). It is interesting to notice the close correspondence between incidents in the life of Archelaus and those which form the framework to this parable; these are, the journey to Rome to receive institution to a kingdom, the embassy of Jews sent to protest against it, his instructions to servants to look after his pecuniary interests in his absence, and his assignment of cities as a reward to faithful adherents. The fact that Archelaus had a splendid palace at Jericho has, not unreasonably, been taken by some as probably suggesting the allusions to him in the parable. As Archelaus was an unjust and cruel prince, we have in this picture of spiritual things something of the same paradoxical nature as in the parable of the Unjust Steward and the Unjust Judge.

Luke 19:13. His ten servants.—Rather, “ten servants of his” (R.V.). Occupy.—Rather, “trade ye herewith” (R.V.). The word is one specially used of business investments.

Luke 19:14. His citizens.—In the interpretation of the parable this is to be understood of the Jews, as “the servants” are the disciples. This man.—The phrase implies contempt.

Luke 19:16. Thy pound hath gained.—“He modestly attributes this to his lord’s money, and not to his own work” (Grotius). Cf. 1 Corinthians 15:10.

Luke 19:17. Faithful in a very little.—This is the essence of the parable. It is the faithfulness of the service rendered to which the lord looks, and not to the amount gained. The reward is proportioned to the faithfulness manifested.

Luke 19:19. Be thou also.—Notice that no special words of commendation are bestowed on this servant. He had not been as faithful as the other.

Luke 19:20. Laid up in a napkin.—A common mode among the Jews of hoarding coin.

Luke 19:21. Thou takest up, etc.—Proverbial expressions to describe a hard, grasping disposition.

Luke 19:23. Into the bank.—Or, “into a bank.” That at my coming, etc.—Or, “I should have gone and required,” etc. (R.V. margin). Usury.—I.e., interest.

Luke 19:25. And they said.—I.e., the bystanders in the parable. The lord proceeds without taking any notice of the interruption.

Luke 19:26. Even that he hath.—Cf. chap. Luke 8:18, “seemeth to have.”

Luke 19:27. Slay them.—Our Lord here combines into one picture His figurative coming to take vengeance upon the Jews who rejected Him, and His literal coming at the end of the world.


Till He come.”—The object of the parable is not to state the Christian doctrine of reward for faithfulness, which is only part of its contents, but to damp down the expectation of the immediate bursting in of the kingdom by displaying the double series of events which must go before its appearance—namely, the protracted, faithful trading of His servants, and the antagonism of its foes, with the issues of both these when the King does appear.

I. What precedes the appearance of the kingdom.—Three different lines of activity are shadowed—the prince’s in the far-off land, the servants’, and the enemies’ in the territory which is to be his kingdom. Jesus does not say that He is the man of noble birth, but His hearers could not mistake his meaning. He teaches here, as always, that His departure is the pre-requisite to His investiture with the visible sovereignty of the world; that many long days must pass before He comes again; but that, while absent, He is not idle, but carrying on that “asking” which from of old was declared to be the condition of His recovering “the uttermost parts of the earth” for a possession. Till then His servants trade with the small capital which He has left them, and His enemies struggle against His rule. His gifts to His servants are absolutely the same in amount in every case, and they are of very small value. What, then, is the uniformly identical gift which all Christ’s servants receive? If we are to seek for any one answer, we must either say the blessing of salvation or the word of the gospel. “The common salvation” belongs to all alike. The same gospel is entrusted to all. Why is it represented as a small sum? Perhaps because the Christian’s gift from his absent Lord is of little worth in the world’s eyes, or more probably in order to contrast it with the greatness of the result of faithfulness. The small capital makes the faithfulness of service the more noticeable, and suggests that the great purpose of life is to test and to train—that its trivial business is only great when regarded as the means of obtaining what is infinitely greater. Life is redeemed from insignificance by being looked at in connection with the stupendous magnitudes beyond, which also makes it seem small. The more closely we link it with eternity, the smaller it will seem in itself, the greater in its issues.

II. The circumstances of the appearance of the kingdom.—It is to be very unlike the sanguine, vulgar expectations of both disciples and crowd. The servants are to be summoned to give in their accounts; the enemies to be swiftly slain in His presence. Thus a solemn diet of judgment is to inaugurate it. The great principle of degrees in reward according to degrees in faithfulness is laid down. The joy of the Lord is one for all servants, but the dominion in the future is proportioned to faithfulness here. Note that the difference in results must be supposed to depend, not on circumstances beyond the servants’ control, but on their diligence. Observe, also, the omission of commendation to the second servant, which implies a less degree of faithful effort in him. The first represents Christians who excel; the second Christians who are content with small attainments and achievements. There is salvation in fulness, and also salvation “so as by fire.” Observe, too, the humility with which the servants present their gains. They say nothing about their own diligence. It is the Lord’s pound, not their pains, which has made the profit. The pounds and the pains are both due to Him who gives the treasure into our hands, and gives also the grace to use it. The servants are not all rewarded, but we do not know how many of the unnamed seven were faithful, and how many slothful. One idler is put before us, and stands for the class. His excuse seems to himself to be sufficient, and its very rudeness guarantees its sincerity. No man would speak so to his judge. But Christ translates thoughts into words, in order to show their falsity, and perhaps to suggest the solemn lesson that the inmost unavowed motives shall one day be plain to us, and that we shall be compelled to speak them out, however ugly and foolish they sound. Men will be their own accusers and condemnation. The excuse lays bare a very frequent motive of indolence—namely fear, built on a misconception of the character of the Lord and Giver of all gifts. Men darken their own spirits by thinking of God as demanding rather than as giving—and that while everything they have and see should teach them He is the God who gives. Such thoughts of Him paralyse activity and destroy the one all-powerful motive for service. Only when we know His infinite love, and are moved by His mercies, shall we task every power in grateful and joyful service. The prince’s answer is difficult, as no explanation of the “bank” is wholly satisfactory. Perhaps the best is that which takes it to mean the Church in its associated efforts, in some part of which the most timid may share, and, bringing his small contribution to the common stock, may be able to do something for Christ. The slothful servant is deprived of the gift which he had not used. That looks hard, and often draws forth remonstrances or, at least, our wonder. But we see it here, and we shall see it yonder. Christ states a law of human experience which works everywhere. Used faculties grow, unused ones decay. The parable is not complete with the rewards and retribution of the servants. Its purpose was to portray the course of events which must precede the appearance of the kingdom, and the stern judgment which should inaugurate it. In fact, it is the programme of the world’s history till the end, and the enemies are as important, though not as conspicuous, a part of the whole as the servants. They represent primarily the Jews, but it is surely an incongruous thrusting of history into parable to take the terrible vengeance on them, which is the very last act of the king after he has returned, as meaning nothing more than the destruction of Jerusalem. Surely the “slaying” here is more terrible than physical death. It points to that same awful retribution of hatred and opposition to the King of which the New Testament is full. That expression “before me” leads us tremblingly to think of “everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord.”—Maclaren.


Luke 19:11-27. The Pounds.

I. True followers.—These must be tried. Outward respect for a present master is no test of character, no evidence that his servants are fit for the positions to which they aspire. But faithfulness to a long-absent Lord, faithfulness to past memories, faithfulness to present duties and responsibilities, faithfulness to an undying hope that He shall come, will come, even though He seem to tarry long—that will test the character, and that will be rewarded with undreamt-of honour.

II. Seeming followers.—These are not true. They love not; they follow only through fear. Therefore they cannot abide faithful in absence, though they are not sure enough openly to throw off their allegiance. Theirs will be bitter loss and disappointment.

III. Open enemies.—There are these as well. Their pride of heart and badness of life make them prefer the rule of a Barabbas to that of the holy Lord. They do not even pretend to be disciples. There is, therefore, no degradation for them when He appears; there is simply swift destruction. They are not surprised at the sentence passed upon them. They have openly cast in their lot with His enemies; if He comes in power, they know what their end will be.—Hastings.

The Parable of the Pounds.

I. The occasion of the parable.

II. The historical incident in the parable.

III. The parable—a prophecy.

1. Of His own departure.
2. Of continued opposition to His rule.
3. Of a time of probation for His servants.
4. Of His triumphant return.

IV. The parable—a lesson in individual responsibility.—Each traded, was reckoned with, rewarded, or punished individually.—W. Taylor.

The True Preparation for the Coming of the Kingdom is that of Character.

I. The faithful and their reward.—Increasing spiritual capital. Divine approval. A larger sphere.

II. The unfaithful, and their loss.—To neglect the gospel is to be in peril, and to risk loss. Negative excellence is not positive obedience. The idler’s penalty is a soul dwarfed and unspiritual. The soul loses the capacity for love and service. The pound is taken away. The soul progressively deteriorates, by refusing to come into right relations with God.—Palmer.

The Parable is a Parallel.—Pursue the subject along the lines furnished by the laws of trade.

I. Some capital is needed.—

1. Natural.
2. Spiritual endowments.

II. Only the authorised money can be used in commerce.

III. Time and opportunity must be given.

IV. There must be wholesale and retail in trade.—The few are called to the first, the many to the second.

V. Both buyer and seller must gain a profit.

VI. “Till I come” limits the trading season.—When Christ comes, probation ends.—Wylie.

Structure of The Parable.—The introduction (Luke 19:11); the parable (Luke 19:12-28). The parable:—

I. The fidelity of the servants during their Lord’s absence put to the test (Luke 19:12-14).

II. The servants judged.—

1. The faithful servants rewarded (Luke 19:15-19).

2. The faithless servant convicted and punished (Luke 19:20-26).

III. The rebellious citizens slain (Luke 19:27).

Servants and Subjects.—The parable sets forth the twofold relation in which the ruler stands.

1. To his servants.
2. To his subjects. The servants represent the apostles and disciples; their faithfulness or unfaithfulness to the trust committed to them is praised or blamed; the citizens represent the Jewish people, and their disobedience to their rightful Lord is punished.

A picture—

I. Of the King of the kingdom of God.

1. His origin.
2. His destiny.
3. His departure and return.

II. Of His servants.—

1. Their calling.
2. Their giving account.
3. Their reward.

III. Of His enemies.—

1. Their hatred.
2. Their impotency.
3. Their punishment.

The parable teaches

I. The need of a patient waiting for Christ.

II. Of an active working for Him till the time of His return.

Should immediately appear.”—The parable is spoken to correct several erroneous opinions concerning the kingdom of God.

I. That the kingdom would very soon appear.—In contradiction to this idea the long journey and the consequent delay are spoken of.

II. That all would joyfully submit to it.—The parable speaks of bitter but unsuccessful enmity on the part of some.

III. That the subjects of the kingdom would enter on a life of inactive enjoyment.—In opposition to this, long and patient labours are spoken of.

Luke 19:12. “A certain nobleman.”

I. An intimation of the kingly descent and dignity of our Lord.

II. A prophecy of His departure from earth.

III. A comforting representation of His departure to the Father.—As the means ordained for obtaining the kingly power and glory.

Luke 19:13. “Occupy.”—I.e., “employ in trading.” How remarkable is this still ministry, these occupations of peace in which the servants of the future king shall be engaged, and that while a rebellion is raging! Why did he not distribute weapons to his servants? Because the duty of the servants was, with the diligent but silent occupation of their pound, to lay the rudiments of the kingdom, and so to prepare the world for the outbreaking of it; which yet should only be when the King Himself returned in His glory.—Trench.

Christ’s Traders.—The imagery of the text suggests the work of the servants while the Master is gone.

I. The stock-in-trade.—What is it that all Christian men have in common? The gospel, the message of salvation. This is the “pound” which each Christian has equally. Let us not be ashamed of it.

II. The trading.—In the trading is to be included the whole of the outward life which is to be shaped by the principles and motives contained in the message of the gospel. Specially the idea is involved of spreading the Word which has been received. The Christianity of any man must be very shallow who feels nothing of the obligation which it lays upon him to communicate it to others. Make a business of it. Such is the meaning of the metaphor. Do it as you do your business.

III. The audit.—The day arrives for scrutiny and judgment. There are varieties in the profits. Christ rewards, not success, but diligence. It is not all the same whether we have traded with our pound or hidden it in a napkin. A higher sphere of service is granted to the diligent traders.—Maclaren.

Luke 19:14. An Embassy.—The enmity of the citizens.

I. It is capricious, for they assign no reason for their dislike.

II. It is deeply-rooted, as implied in the contemptuous “this man.”

III. It is unsuccessful.

Luke 19:15. “Having received the kingdom.”—The elevation of their master to sovereignty places the servants in a totally new position. Not only does he manifest towards them a satisfaction proportionate to the success of their labours, but, their master, acting now as their king, assigns to them posts in the government of the state, corresponding in importance to the respective results of their activity. So will it be at the second coming of Christ. The humble work accomplished during the absence of the Lord will be the measure of the power entrusted by Him to each on His appearing.—Godet.

Luke 19:16. “Thy pound”.—In deep humility the faithful servants acknowledge that they claim no merit for the success that had attended their labours. Cf. “I laboured more abundantly than they all, yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me” (1 Corinthians 15:10). “Not unto us, O Lord, not unto us, but unto Thy name give the praise” (Psalms 115:1).

Luke 19:17. “In a very little.”—Cf. Luke 12:48; Luke 16:10.

Over ten cities.”—“We shall also reign with Him” (2 Timothy 2:12). It is perhaps not unduly spiritualising a mere detail of the parable to think of the reward being the privilege of communicating spiritual benefits to others; the ten or five cities to be thought of as communities of moral beings whom the glorified believer raises to his own level of spiritual life.

Luke 19:18. “Gained five.”—A lesser degree of success in consequence of less strenuous energy in work. This is implied by the facts that the servants had equal sums entrusted to them, and that the servant, though receiving a reward, receives no special commendation from his lord.

Luke 19:19. “Over five cities.”—The glory of each differs; their common joy is the same.

Luke 19:20. The Servant’s Defence.—It is fearful to sin; it is more fearful to delight in sin; yet more to defend it.

And another came.”—Rather, and the other. The word used implies that this servant belonged to a different class from those who had preceded him in the interview with the master.

Luke 19:21. “I feared thee.”—I.e., knowing that his master was a man of austere character, who would be pitiless in punishing him for the loss of the pound, he had kept it safely, and now restored it as he had received it. So that he regarded himself as free from blame, even if he could lay no claim to commendation. The words “thou takest up,” etc., seem rather a proverbial description of a hard, grasping character than as specially appropriate to the circumstances of the case.

Luke 19:22. “Thou knewest,” etc.I.e., “All the more, therefore, shouldest thou have sought to satisfy my demands; and thou mightest have satisfied them, though perhaps not to the full, with very little expenditure of labour. If the trouble and risk of trading were too great, I might at least have received the interest which a bank gives for money lodged in it.”

A Legal Christian.—This man, it seems to me, represents a believer who has not found salvation in Jesus Christ to be as attractive as he had expected—a legal Christian, who knows nothing of the grace of the gospel, and is acquainted only with its moral requirements. It seems to him that the Lord asks a great deal, and gives very little. This feeling leads him to do as little as possible. He thinks that God ought to be content with abstinence from evil-doing, and with an outward respect to His gospel.—Godet.

Luke 19:23. “The bank.”—Probably it is vain to try to find a spiritual counterpart to this detail of the parable. The reply of the Lord is, virtually, “If thou wouldest not do and dare for me in great ventures of faith, yet at all events in humbler paths, in safer and less perilous, thou mightest have shown fidelity, and have preserved me from loss.”

Luke 19:24. “Take from him the pound.”—The punishment for unfaithfulness is the loss of the faculty for service. And it is especially worthy of notice that this sentence of condemnation is strictly in accordance with the Divine law that prevails in the natural world. Let any member of the body or faculty of the mind lie disused for a time, and, by the very fact of disuse, its power is diminished or destroyed.

Luke 19:25. “And they said unto Him.”—This interruption is remarkably like that of Peter in chap. Luke 12:41; and the reply (Luke 19:26), virtually corresponds to that of Jesus in chap. Luke 12:42. The king apparently takes no account of the surprise his words have excited, but in Luke 19:26 he expounds the principle on which his judgment is based.

Luke 19:26. “Unto every one.”—It is not merely that the one receives more than before he had, and the other loses what he had. This is not all; but that very gift which the one forfeits, the other obtains; one is enriched with a pound withdrawn from the other; one takes a crown which another has let go (Revelation 3:11);—even as we see continually one, by the ordinance of God, stepping into the place and the opportunities which another has neglected, despised, and misused, and so has lost (Genesis 25:34; Genesis 27:36; Genesis 49:4; Genesis 49:8; 1 Samuel 16:1; 1 Samuel 16:13; 1 Kings 2:35; Isaiah 22:15-25; Acts 1:25-26; Romans 11:11).—Trench.

Luke 19:27. “Bring hither and slay.”—They who will not submit to Christ the crucified will be crushed by Christ the King. Every eye shall see Him; they also who pierced Him. Meekly now He stands at the door and knocks; then He comes as the lightning comes.—Arnot.

Verses 28-48


Luke 19:28. Went before.—I.e., at the head of the disciples. Cf. Mark 10:32. Ascending.—The road from Jericho to Jerusalem is one long ascent.

Luke 19:29. Bethphage.—A village apparently on the east of Bethany. The name means “house of figs.” The place itself has not been identified. It is mentioned in the Talmud. Bethany.—The home of Lazarus and his sisters. It lies on the eastern slope of the Mount of Olives, fully a mile beyond the summit, and not very far from the point at which the road to Jericho begins its more sudden descent towards the Jordan valley” (Smith, “Dictionary of the Bible”).

Luke 19:30. A colt.—The more circumstantial account in St, Matthew speaks of a mother and her colt. The Saviour rode upon the colt while the mother was led beside it, after the manner of a sumpter. Never man sat.—And therefore sent for a sacred purpose. Cf. Numbers 19:2; Deuteronomy 21:3; 1 Samuel 6:7.

Luke 19:35. Cast their garments.—As in honour of a king (cf. 2 Kings 9:13).

Luke 19:36. In the way.—As also leaves of trees and palm-branches.

Luke 19:37. And when He was.—St. Luke alone indicates the point at which the popular enthusiasm began to manifest itself. “Bethany is hardly left in the rear before the long procession must have swept up and over the ridge, where first begins ‘the descent of the Mount of Olives’ towards Jerusalem. At this point the first view is caught of the southeastern corner of the city. The Temple and the more northern portions are hid by the slope of Olivet on the right. It was at this precise point, ‘as He drew near, at the descent of the Mount of Olives’—may it not have been from the sight thus opening upon them?—that the hymn of triumph burst forth from the multitude” (Stanley, “Sinai and Palestine”). St. John speaks of a company going out from the city to meet the procession (Luke 12:18), and explains that the enthusiasm was principally excited by the raising of Lazarus from the dead.

Luke 19:38. Peace in heaven.—I.e., between God and man; and on this account “glory [to God] in the highest.”

Luke 19:40. If these, etc.—Rather, “if these shall hold their peace, the stones will cry out” (R.V.). The words are of a proverbial character; they recall, too, Habakkuk 2:11.

Luke 19:41. And when.—“The road descends a slight declivity, and the glimpse of the city is again withdrawn behind the intervening ridge of Olivet. A few moments, and the path mounts again; it climbs a rugged ascent, it reaches a ledge of smooth rock, and in an instant the whole city bursts into view. Immediately below was the valley of the Kedron, here seen in its greatest depth as it joins the Valley of Hinnom, and thus giving full effect to the great peculiarity of Jerusalem seen only on its eastern side—its situation as of a city rising out of a deep abyss. It is hardly possible to doubt that this rise and turn of the road, this rocky ledge, was the exact point where the multitude paused again, and ‘He, when He beheld the city, wept over it’ ” (Stanley, “Sinai and Palestine”). Wept.—The word implies “wept aloud.”

Luke 19:42. Even thou.—I.e., as well as the disciples. In this thy day.—Rather, “in this day” (R.V.).

Luke 19:43. Cast a trench.—Rather, “cast up a bank” (R.V.); strictly speaking, “a palisade,” It and a wall of masonry were afterwards used by Titus in investing the city.

Luke 19:44. Thy children.—Not merely infants, but the inhabitants generally. The city is personified as a mother. Visitation.—I.e., season of grace. Cf. Genesis 1:24; Exodus 4:31, etc.

Luke 19:45. Into the temple.—This is a second purification of the Temple, the first being recorded in John 2:13-17. Sold therein.—I.e., doves, sheep, cattle, for use in sacrifice.

Luke 19:46. It is written.—Isaiah 56:7. Den of thieves.—Rather, “den of robbers” (R.V.).

Luke 19:48. Were very attentive.—Rather, “the people all hung upon Him, listening” (R.V.).


A New Kind of King.—St. Luke takes no notice of the stay at Bethany, and the sweet seclusion which soothed Jesus there. He dwells only on the assertion of royalty, which stamped an altogether unique character on the remaining hours of Christ’s life.

I. Christ’s part in originating the triumphal entry.—He sent for the colt, with the obvious intention of stimulating the people to just such a demonstration as followed. Note the remarkable blending of dignity and poverty in “The Lord hath need of him.” It asserts sovereign authority and absolute rights, and it confesses need and penury. He is a king, but He has to borrow even a colt on which to ride in triumph. Though He was rich, for our sakes He became poor. Jesus then deliberately brought about His public entry. He thereby acts in a way perfectly unlike His whole previous course. And He stirs up popular feelings at a time when they were specially sensitive, by reason of the approaching Passover and its crowds. Formerly He had avoided the danger which He now seems to court, and had gone up to the feast, as it were, in secret. But it was fitting that once, for the last time, He should assert before the gathered Israel that He was their King, and should make a last appeal. He deliberately makes Himself conspicuous, though—or we might say because—He knew that thereby He precipitated His death. The nature of His dominion is as plainly taught by the humble pomp as is its reality. Gentleness and peace, a sway that rests not on force nor wealth, are shadowed in that rustic procession and the pathetic poverty of its leader, throned on a borrowed colt, and attended, not by warriors or dignitaries, but by poor men, unarmed, and saluted, not with the blare of trumpets, but with the shouts of joyful, though, alas! fickle hearts.

II. The humble procession, with the shouting and the background of hostile spies.—The disciples eagerly caught at the meaning of bringing the colt, and threw themselves with alacrity into what seemed to them preparation for the public assertion of royalty, for which they had long been impatient. How different the vision of the future in their minds and His! They dreamed of a throne; He knew it was a cross that was in store for Him. They broke into loud acclamations, summoning, as it were, Jerusalem to welcome its King. Christ’s royalty and Divine commission are proclaimed from a thousand throats, and then up swells the shout of praise, which echoes the angels’ song at Bethlehem, and ascribes to His coming power to make peace in heaven with an else alienated world, and thus to make the Divine glory blaze with new splendour, even in the highest heavens; their song was wiser than they knew, and touched the deepest, mysteries of the unity of the Son with the Father, of reconciliation by the blood of the cross, and of new lustre accruing to God’s name thereby, even in the sight of principalities and powers in heavenly places. Their shouts died away, and their faith was almost as short-lived. High-wrought emotion is a poor substitute for steady conviction. But cool, unemotional recognition of Christ as King is almost as unnatural. There were cool observers there, and they make the foil to the glad enthusiasm. Note that these Pharisees, mingling in the crowd, have no title for Jesus but “Teacher.” He is no King to them. To those who regard Jesus but as a human teacher, the acclamations of those to whom He is King and Lord always sound exaggerated. People with no depth of religious life hate religious emotion, and are always seeking to repress it. A very tepid worship is warm enough for them. Formalists detest genuine feeling. Propriety is their ideal. Christ’s answer is probably a quoted proverb. It implies His entire acceptance of the character which the crowd ascribed to Him, His pleasure in their praises, and, in a wider aspect, His vindication of outbursts of devout feeling, which shock ecclesiastical martinets and formalists.

III. The King plunged in bitter grief in the very hour of His triumph.—The fair city brings before His vision the awful contrast of its lying compassed by armies and in ruins. He hears not the acclamation of the crowd. “He wept,” or, rather, “wailed”—for the word does not imply tears so much as cries. That sorrow is a sign of His real manhood, but it is also a part of His revelation of the very heart of God. The form is human, the substance Divine. The man weeps because God pities. Christ’s sorrow does not hinder His judgments. The woes which wring His heart will, nevertheless, be inflicted by Him. Judgment is His “strange work,” alien from His desires; but it is His work. Note the yearning in the unfinished sentence. “If thou hadst known.” Note the decisive closing of the time of repentance. Note the minute prophetic details of the siege, which, if ever they were spoken, are a distinct proof of His all-seeing eye. And from all let us fix in our hearts the conviction of the pity of the judge, and of the judgment by the pitying Christ.

IV. Christ’s exercise of sovereign authority in His Father’s house.—Two things are brought out in the compressed narrative.

1. The fact. It was fitting that, at the end of His career, as at the beginning, He should cleanse the Temple. The two events are significant as His first and last acts. The second one, as we gather from the other evangelists, had a greater severity about it than the first. The need for a second purifying indicated how sadly transient had been the effect of the first, and was thus evidence of the depth of corruption and formalism to which the religion of priests and people had sunk.

2. His vindication of His action. It is in right royal style. The first cleansing was defended by Him by pointing to the sanctity of “My Father’s house”; the second by claiming it as “My house.” The rebuke of the hucksters is sterner the second time. The profanation, once driven out, and returning, is deeper; for whereas, in the first instance, it had made the Temple a “house of merchandise,” in the second it turned it into a “den of robbers.” Thus evil assumes a darker tint by lapse of time, and swiftly becomes worse if rebuked and chastised in vain. We see here

(1) Christ’s calm courage in continuous teaching in the Temple;
(2) the growing hatred of the authorities; and
(3) the eager hanging of the people on His words, which baffled the murderous designs of the rulers. Meekly and boldly He goes on the appointed way. The day’s task of winning some from impending ruin shall still be done. So should His servants live, in patient discharge of daily duty, in the face of death, if need be. The enemies, who heard His words and found in them only food for deeper hatred, may warn us of the possibilities of antagonism to Him that lie in the heart, and of the terrible judgment which they drag down on their own heads, who hear, unmoved, His daily teaching, and see, unrepentant, His dying love.—Maclaren.


Luke 19:28-44. The Triumphal Entry of Jesus into Jerusalem.

I. The preparations for it (Luke 19:28-36).

II. The entry itself (Luke 19:37-38).

III. The murmurs of the Pharisees (Luke 19:39-40).

IV. The lamentation over the city (Luke 19:41-44).

Luke 19:28. “Had thus spoken.”—And when He had thus spoken, had thus judicially, in His own revealed royal person, decreed the destruction of His foes, He went onward to Jerusalem, there to deliver Himself up as the Paschal Lamb into their hands.—Stier.

Luke 19:29. “Sent two of His disciples.”—The sending of the two disciples is an indication of the deliberate purpose of Jesus to give special solemnity to this scene. Hitherto He had withdrawn Himself from popular homage; but He wished to be proclaimed once at least as Messiah and King in the midst of His people (Luke 19:40). This was the moment of manifestation so impatiently desired by His brethren (John 7:3-4), and was also a last appeal to the population of Jerusalem (Luke 19:42). There was nothing in this course of action to compromise His work, for He well knew that His life was drawing near to an end (Luke 13:32-33). He therefore allowed free course to the enthusiasm of the multitude; He even provokes the manifestation which follows, while He gave to it a more peaceful and humble character than it might have assumed.—Godet.

Luke 19:30. “Never man sat.”—Humble as were the arrangements for this triumphal entry into Jerusalem, a royal dignity is manifested in the spirit in which they were made. The animal chosen to carry the Saviour was to be one which had never before been used on any common occasion.

Luke 19:31. “The Lord hath need.”—These words seem to imply that Jesus knew the persons to whom the disciples were sent—that they were friends or disciples. Perhaps in this incidental allusion we have another indication of previous visits paid by Jesus to Jerusalem.

Luke 19:32. “Found even as He had said.”—Prophetical fore-knowledge rather than omniscience seems to be indicated by the action of Jesus on this occasion.

Luke 19:35-36. Jesus Claims and Receives Homage.—Jesus virtually claimed homage, and His disciples responded to Him by paying it. They might, no doubt, easily have procured ordinary trappings for the animal on which He rode, but they chose to prove their desire to consecrate themselves and their possessions to His service by making use of their own garments. Jesus, by accepting their homage, asserted His royal dignity, and by the humble circumstance of His triumph, as arranged by Him, proclaimed that His kingdom was not one of this world.

Luke 19:37-44.

I. The joy of the disciples and of the multitude on coming in sight of the city.

II. The grief of Jesus at the same moment.

Luke 19:37-48.

I. The purpose Christ developed.—He came to teach, to heal, to exemplify a sublime character, to offer an expiatory sacrifice, to manifest His Kingship.

II. The homage Christ received.

III. The sorrow Christ felt.

IV. The kingly duty Christ fulfilled.—Palmer.

Luke 19:37. “Began to rejoice.”—Once mounted on the ass, Jesus became the centre of the procession, visible to all, and the scene began more and more to assume an exceptional character. It is as if a breath from on high, a precursor of that of Pentecost, had moved the populace. The sight of the city, and of the Temple, which at this very point appeared in all their beauty, contributed to the outburst of joy and hope which came so suddenly. All hearts recalled at this moment the miracles which had marked the career of this extraordinary Man—miracles which been so numerous as almost to have exhausted the sense of wonder.—Godet.

Luke 19:38.

I. The character in which Jesus is to be received.—“The King that cometh in the name of the Lord.”

II. The happy results anticipated from His reign.—

1. “Peace in heaven—i.e., peace re-established between heaven and earth.

2. “Glory in the highest”—fresh and more wonderful manifestations than had been given before of God’s gracious character and of His majesty and power.

Luke 19:39. “Some of the Pharisees.”—They cannot in any sense have been disciples of Jesus. Their spirit was exactly like that of modern Socianism; they objected to prophetical expressions being used and lofty epithets being applied to one whom they regarded as merely a teacher.

Rebuke Thy disciples.”—The Pharisees had, for the time, lost the power of silencing the acclamations of the people, and so they have recurrence to Jesus himself. They were offended that He accepted recognition as the Messiah, and perhaps were even afraid of the enthusiasm of the populace leading to a seditious outbreak against the Roman authorities.”

Luke 19:40. “The stones will immediately cry out.”—Hitherto the Lord had discouraged all demonstrations in His favour; latterly He had begun an opposite course. On this one occasion He seems to yield His whole soul to the wide and deep acclaim with a mysterious satisfaction, regarding it as so necessary a part of the regal dignity in which, as Messiah, He, for the last time, entered the city, that, if not offered by the vast multitude, it would have been wrung out of the stones rather than be withheld.—Brown.

Luke 19:41-42. The Tears of Christ over the Indifference of Men.

I. Spiritual indifference was the sign of concealed ruin.—

1. Indifference conceals from men the downward progress of the soul’s life.
2. It, at the same time, hides the Christ who alone can save.

II. In spiritual indifference Christ saw a self-wrought ruin.

III. In spiritual indifference He saw ruin rapidly becoming hopeless.—Hull.

I. The tears and words of Christ are the tears and words of a true patriot.

II. He lamented the destruction of Jerusalem as a theocratic kingdom—as a Church.

III. Jerusalem was a home of souls—a hive of living men and women—whose rejection of Him involved overthrow and ruin.—Liddon.

Luke 19:41. “Wept over it.”—The words just spoken by the Pharisees displayed that obstinate resistance to Him which involved the ultimate ruin and overthrow of the city and nation. The contrast between what was and what might have been, was so great that He could not refrain from lamentation.

Luke 19:42. “Even thou.”—Or, “thou also,” i.e., “thou, as well as the humble crowd of disciples now forming the procession.”

Thy peace.”—Probably an allusion to the meaning of the name Jerusalem—the “city of peace.”

Belong unto thy peace.”—Acceptance of the sovereignty of Jesus would have meant laying aside that worldly and rebellious spirit which brought about the ruin of the nation.

Luke 19:43. “Cast a trench.”—Cf. Isaiah 29:3 : “And I will encamp against thee round about, and will lay siege against thee with a mount, and I will raise forts against thee.”

Luke 19:44. I. The visitation of Jerusalem by Christ our Lord was unobtrusive.

II. The visitation of Jerusalem was final. Our Lord’s words account

(1) for the decay and ruin of nations;
(2) for the decay and fall of churches;
(3) for the decay of seats of learning;
(4) for loss in the individual life, when manifest warnings and visitations are neglected.—Liddon.

Visitation.—God’s visitations are connected in Holy Scripture with various motives.

I. The common use of the word associates it with judgment; with the judicial infliction of punishment of some sort (Psalms 89:32; Numbers 16:29).

II. But Divine visitations are often connected with a purpose of blessing (Genesis 21:1; 1 Samuel 2:21).

III. Visitation sometimes, too, means warning—a meaning intermediate between that of blessing and judgment (Psalms 17:3; Job 10:12). It is in this sense that our Lord describes His own ministry as the visitation of Jerusalem. It was partly a visitation of judgment, as our Lord judged the scribes and priests and Pharisees, though His judgment was not final. Yet more was it a visitation of blessing; it brought with it instruction, grace, and pardon. Failure to know the time of a visitation is followed by grave consequences, because

(1) it implies a culpable deadness of spiritual interest, and
(2) an equally blame-worthy pre-occupation with some other more engrossing interest.—Liddon.

Luke 19:45. “Began to cast out.”—From the parallel passage in St. Mark we learn that the cleansing of the Temple did not take place on the day of the triumphal entry. On that day Jesus entered the Temple and looked round about upon all that was passing in it (Mark 11:11). On the following day He purified it from the abuses which had sprung up in it, and which had not been effectually checked by His first act of cleansing (John 2:15).

Luke 19:46. “My house,” etc.—In the reply of Jesus there are quotations from two passages in the prophets—Isaiah 56:7 and Jeremiah 7:11.

Luke 19:47. “The chief priests,” etc.—Three classes of persons were roused to opposition:

I. The chief priests, whose neglect of the Temple was reproved by the action of Jesus, and whose gains were diminished by the suppression of the traffic.
II. The scribes, who were envious of the fame and influence He acquired by His teaching.
III. The “chief of the people,” or the wealthy classes, who were for the most part attached to the Sadducean party, and afraid of the effects of any patriotic movement. From this point the Pharisees, who must have approved of the cleansing of the Temple, cease to be the most prominent persecutors of Jesus.

Luke 19:48. “Very attentive.”—Rather, “hung upon Him.” Hung upon Him, as the bee doth on the flower, the babe on the breast, the little bird on the bill of her dam. Christ drew the people after Him by the golden chain of His heavenly eloquence.—J. Trapp.

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Bibliographical Information
Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on Luke 19". Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary. Funk & Wagnalls Company, 1892.