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Bible Commentaries

Schaff's Popular Commentary on the New Testament

Luke 19

Verse 1

Luke 19:1. And Jesus. The E. V. supplies ‘Jesus.’

Was passing through Jericho. He had not yet passed entirely through, when He met Zaccheus. Hence it is not necessary to suppose that the house of Zaccheus was outside the city, on the way to Jerusalem. On Jericho, see Matthew 20:29.

Verses 1-10

ZACCHEUS THE PUBLICAN. The incident is peculiar to Luke, and is a proof of independence. ‘The fundamental idea of Luke’s Gospel demanded that the favor shown to the rich publican should not be omitted. Matthew and Mark are so intent upon depicting the great procession to the feast in its unity, that they cannot linger upon another episode, such as that of Zaccheus, in addition to the healing of the blind man. Matthew indeed, being himself a publican, might hesitate through modesty to record prominently so many instance of favor shown to the publicans; and Mark, writing chiefly for Roman Christians, would probably prefer to omit a new remembrance of the embittered hatred which subsisted between the Jews and the Romans’ (Lange).

Verse 2

Luke 19:2. Zaccheus. The name is the Hebrew word meaning ‘pure,’ with a Greek ending attached to it. He was therefore of Jewish origin (comp. Luke 19:9).

A chief publican. Probably the superintendent of the ordinary tax-gatherers. The practice of farming out the revenues to the Roman knights encouraged extortion. Zaccheus was probably the chief agent of the person who held the privilege from the government. The revenue in Jericho was doubtless considerable, and mainly derived from taxes on the balsam so abundantly produced in the neighborhood, all along the banks of the Jordan.

And he was rich. This is mentioned, to prepare the way for the language of Luke 19:8.

Verse 3

Luke 19:3. Who he was, or ‘which (among the crowd) was He.’ Zaccheus had heard of Jesus, but had never seen Him. His curiosity alone is mentioned here; but some better motive, however ill-defined to himself, undoubtedly influenced him.

Could not for the crowd. He had tried, but failed because of the crowd, his stature making it necessary to get very near in order to see.

Verse 4

Luke 19:4. San on before. An evidence of great desire, especially in a man of wealth.

A sycamore tree. The Egyptian fig tree, resembling in many respects the mulberry tree. Not identical with ‘sycamine’ (chap. Luke 17:6), and altogether different from the modern sycamore. The derivation of the word favors the spelling: sycomore (fig-mulberry). See accompanying cut.

Was to pass that way. This shows that it was known which way Jesus would take. Hence the strong probability that he was on the direct way to Jerusalem.

Verse 5

Luke 19:5. Looked up, and said. The correct reading brings out more strikingly the recognition of Zaccheus by our Lord. The knowledge of his name is less remarkable than the knowledge of his heart. Previous acquaintance is out of the question (comp. Luke 19:3). Some suppose that the man well known in Jericho was seen by the crowd in this singular position, and his name being passed from mouth to mouth, sometimes with scorn and dislike, sometimes with merriment, was heard by our Lord. This inserts largely into the simple narrative, only to belittle it.

Today, etc. Possibly over night, but it is more likely that it was to be a mid-day rest, and that in the afternoon (Friday as we think) our Lord passed to the neighborhood of Bethany, where He supped in the house of Simon the leper after sunset on Saturday. The distance was not too great for an afternoon’s walk.

I must. In our Lord’s life, especially in this part so fully detailed, every event was ordered according to a Divine plan. This rest in Jericho served to fix the time of other events, such as the supper in Bethany, the entrance into Jerusalem (on the day when the Paschal Lamb was set apart for sacrifice), etc. Besides this, there was a moral necessity of love constraining our Lord to abide, in order to seek and save this publican, in whom there was a spiritual longing. All events work out God’s purpose, but His purpose is to save sinners.

Verse 6

Luke 19:6. Joyfully. The curiosity was not a vain one; the presence and words of our Lord had wrought their appropriate effect.

Verse 7

Luke 19:7. They all murmured. Scarcely the disciples, but the crowd of Jews, among whom doubtless were many priests, since Jericho was a priestly city.

To lodge. Not necessarily to remain over night. The same word occurs in this sense in John 1:39, but the time of day is there specified, to show that it has that meaning.

A sinner. Zaccheus, as a publican, would be thus termed, whatever his character had been. Especially in a priestly city like Jericho would the chief publican be an object of scorn. But his own confession (Luke 19:8) implies that he deserved the name.

Verse 8

Luke 19:8. And Zaccheus stood. The same word as in chap. Luke 18:11. Here it implies that he came forward and took a stand, in a formal way with joyful decision. This probably took place shortly after our Lord had entered the house.

The half of my goods I give to the poor. It is improbable that Zaccheus had already done so; this is the announcement of his purpose.

And if I have, etc. This does not imply uncertainty, but is a milder form of saying ‘whatever I have,’ etc.

Wrongfully exacted. The word is derived from that equivalent to ‘sycophant.’

I restore fourfold. Restitution from double to fivefold, was commanded in the case of theft (Exodus 22:1-7); hence this is, by implication, a confession of theft.

Verse 9

Luke 19:9. Salvation, in the fullest sense.

Forasmuch as (the older editions of the E. V. read: ‘forsomuch as’). The reason salvation had come was, that he also, as well as the other Jews, who despised him as a sinner (Luke 19:7), was a son of Abraham, having now availed himself of his rights as a Jew in thus receiving the Lord. The promised restitution did not bring salvation. Nor was he a Gentile who became by repentance ‘a son of Abraham;’ had he been a Gentile, mention would have been made of it in the hostile murmurs (Luke 19:7).

Verse 10

Luke 19:10. For, etc. Comp. Matthew 18:11, which the best authorities omit.

To seek, as a shepherd, comp. chap. Luke 15:4. It was ‘the lost sheep of the house of Israel’ to whom the Lord was sent (Matthew 15:24). Zaccheus was one of these, and acknowledging himself as such received the Master who was seeking him.

Verse 11

Luke 19:11. Heard these things, i.e., the conversation with Zaccheus. The parable was spoken in the house, probably from the open room looking into the court, where a good part of the multitude that had followed Him (Luke 19:3), had doubtless remained and murmured (Luke 19:7). To them the parable was addressed.

Added. To the conversation with Zaccheus.

Nigh unto Jerusalem. The distance was about fifteen English miles.

And because they supposed, i.e., the multitude, although the disciples were included, since they were not yet cured of their carnal hopes.

That the kingdom of God was immediately to appear. This public journey to Jerusalem, attended by so many miracles and impressive discourses, was regarded as introductory to a Messianic kingdom of temporal splendor. Jerusalem was so near, that this was immediately expected; the more since our Lord had just spoken of the actual coming of the Son of man (Luke 19:10). The parable was designed to controvert the idea that the glory of the Messianic kingdom would appear at once, without a previous separation of the Master from His servants, to whom He would return as King.

Verses 11-27

THE PARABLE OF THE TEN POUNDS. Probably spoken in the house of Zaccheus. The parable resembles that of the ‘talents’ (Matthew 25:14-30) sufficiently to make the careless reader confound the two, but the distinction between them is marked, and the theory which identifies them is inconsistent with the trustworthiness of the Evangelists as witnesses to our Lord’s words. The later parable (in Matthew) is the more complicated one, and was addressed to the disciples alone. The points of difference are indicated in the notes on that passage, and recalled here under the separate verses.

Verse 12

Luke 19:12. Therefore, with this purpose, in view of this improper expectation.

A certain nobleman. This ‘well-born’ man represents the Lord Jesus; an indirect intimation of His kingly descent and dignity.

Went into a far country, etc. The journey was to the residence of the supreme authority. Archelaus, who had built a magnificent royal palace at Jericho, had made such a journey to Rome. The Lord was to go to heaven, the home of God; in the moral sense, ‘a far country.’

To return, i.e., to the kingdom, situated where the nobleman had resided. Our Lord will certainly ‘return.’

Verse 13

Luke 19:13. Ten servants of his. The number is given here, but not in the other parable; comp. the ten virgins, Matthew 25:1.

Ten pounds, or, ‘minæ.’ To each one; not to each ‘according to his several ability’ (Matthew 25:5). In the other case the man is represented as committing his whole property to his servants; here the sums are ‘very little’ (Luke 19:17). The Attic mina, which is probably meant, was the sixtieth part of a talent, and = $15-$17. The Hebrew mina was even smaller. The one equal official gift seems to be referred to here, not the spiritual ‘talents’ which differ in extent.

Trade herewith till I come, i.e. , while I go and return.

Verse 14

Luke 19:14. But his citizens. His fellow-citizens. Peculiar to this form of the parable.

Hated him. No reason is assigned for their hatred, which is the sole motive of their action. The world hates our Lord unreasonably, and therefore opposes Him.

An embassy. This was sent to the supreme authority, just as the Jews had sent a protest to Rome in the case of Archelaus.

We will not, that, etc. No other reason was urged than their unwillingness.

This man. Perhaps used in contempt. This positive opposition to the Lord Jesus has manifested itself, ever since He went to receive His kingdom, mainly in persecution of His servants, whose cry to heaven is the message of hatred from the world; ‘we will not that,’ etc.

Verse 15

Luke 19:15. Having received the kingdom. In spite of hostility, He returned as king; as our Lord will.

He commanded these servants to be called, etc. This first, before the judgment upon his enemies. The same order is suggested in regard to our Lord’s return (comp. Matthew 13:41; Matthew 13:49; Matthew 24:25).

What they had gained by trading. The inquiry is more strictly: what business they had carried on? So our Lord inquires of those servants on whom He has bestowed the same official gift, not what success they have had, but how they have used it; faithfulness is the main thing (Matthew 25:21).

Verse 16

Luke 19:16. Thy pound; not ‘I have gained’ (Matt.). In the latter case, the trust was according to ability, here it was the same in every case; there the gain was proportioned to the trust, but here there was no such proportion; hence the more modest answer. This also favors the view which interprets the ‘pound’ as the one official gift, with varied results.

Hade ten pounds more, i.e., in addition to itself.

Verse 17

Luke 19:17. In a very little. The ‘pound’ was a very small sum. High as the ministerial office is relatively in this world, in the other (and in comparison with the ‘talents’ even here) it is ‘very little;’ certainly is not the sole channel of blessing to the church.

Ten cities. The reward corresponds with the kingly dignity of the returned Lord. (Comp. on the other hand Matthew 25:21.)

Verse 19

Luke 19:19. Five cities. The reward is proportioned to the gain; the commendation is omitted here. In Matthew it is repeated; there the gain was in each case proportioned to the trust.

Verse 20

Luke 19:20. In a napkin. It is asserted that the Jews frequently used this for such a purpose. This refers to idleness in office.

Verse 21

Luke 19:21. The excuse is substantially the same as in Matthew 25:24-25.

Austere, ‘hard’ (Matthew.).

Verse 22

Luke 19:22. Out of thy mouth, etc. On your own statement.

Verse 23

Luke 19:23. Into the bank, or, ‘a bank.’ The latter form opposes the view that the ‘bank’ represents the Church, and the putting of the pound there as resignation of the office.

Verse 25

Luke 19:25. And they, i.e., the by-standers in the parable, not in the house of Zaccheus, said unto him. This expression of surprise was probably introduced to bring out the answer of the King in Luke 19:26, on which see Matthew 13:12; Matthew 25:29.

Verse 27

Luke 19:27. But ( = but in addition to this sentence) these mine enemies. Still the language of the king to the attending officers.

Slay them before me. This strong expression sets forth the hopelessness and severity of the punishment which shall fall upon those who oppose Christ as King. It did not seem strange to those who heard the parable; for such vengeance was then only too common. To us it is a figure, first, of the punishment which fell upon Jerusalem; and secondly, of punishment, which is to follow the final judgment. Thus the parable has a primary application to the disciples and the Jewish nation, and then a wider one to the Christian ministry in general and the opposing world.

Verses 28-48

Luke agrees closely with the other Evangelists in the account of the entry to Jerusalem. He mentions in addition a murmur of the Pharisees and our Lord’s reply (Luke 19:39-40), as well as the fact that He wept over the city (Luke 19:41-42); and then, after the cleansing of the temple (Luke 19:45-46), he gives a general description (Luke 19:47-48), of the Master’s activity during the last days of His public teaching, the particulars being recorded in chaps. Luke 20:1 to Luke 21:6.

Verse 29

Luke 19:29. And when he had thus spoken, etc. On the afternoon of Friday, the 8th of Nisan. He could reach the neighborhood of Bethany before sundown.

Verses 29-38

Luke 19:29-38. THE TRIUMPHAL ENTRY INTO JERUSALEM. See on Matthew 21:1-9; Mark 11:1-10; John xii 12-19.

Verse 30

Luke 19:30. And it came to pass. This leaves room for the intervening events in Bethany on Saturday evening, at the house of Simon the leper. Hence we begin a paragraph here.

High to Bethphage and Bethany. The village nearest Jerusalem is mentioned first (so Mark).

Verse 31

Luke 19:31. The village over against you. Bethphage, as we think.

Verse 33

Luke 19:33. The owners. Peculiar to Luke, but fairly implied in Mark 11:5.

Verse 34

Luke 19:34. The best authorities insert after they said a word which may either be a sign of quotation, or mean ‘because.’ The last clause of Luke 19:31 corresponds exactly, and the translation must be the same in both cases, though the sense is not affected.

Verse 37

Luke 19:37. At the descent of the Mount of Olives. On the brow of the hill, as Jerusalem came in sight. A fitting place for the culmination of their enthusiasm.

All the mighty works, etc. All the miracles performed on this journey, but doubtless with special reference to the raising of Lazarus, from whose home they had just come. (Comp. John 12:9; John 12:17-18.)

Verse 38

Luke 19:38. Peace in heaven, and glory in the highest. Here Luke, by a poetic parallelism, paraphrases the ‘Hosanna’ mentioned by the other Evangelists.

Luke 19:39-40. THE MURMUR OF THE PHARISEES. Peculiar to Luke.

Some of the Pharisees from the multitude, etc. Evidently not of His disciples, whom they would have Him rebuke.

Master, or, ‘Teacher.’ They objected to the cry of the disciples, because it recognized Him as more than a ‘Teacher.’ They would, however, hold Him responsible for what they held to be unwise and unwarranted enthusiasm.

If these should hold their peace, the stones, etc. A proverbial expression, to show that this outburst could not and ought not to be restrained, and thus a most pointed rebuke of the objectors. There is possibly an allusion to Habakkuk 2:11; and probably an intimation that the stones of the temple, which now reechoed the Hosannas, should in the future proclaim the judgments of the Lord, and thus acknowledge Christ as King.

Verse 41

Luke 19:41. And when he drew nigh, seeing the city. Tradition, assuming that our Lord took the direct road, over the summit of the Mount of Olives, points out the spot as half-way down the western slope. But it is more probable that the road taken was the main or southern one, passing between two peaks (see on Matthew 21:2). Comp. Stanley (Sinai and Palestine, p. 187). ‘Jesus has reached the edge of the plateau; the holy city lies before His view. What a day it would be for it, if the bandage fell from its eyes! But what has just passed between Him and the Pharisees present has awakened in His heart the conviction of the insurmountable resistance which He is about to meet. Then Jesus, seized, and, as it were, wrung by the contrast between what is and what might be, breaks out into sobs.’ (Godet.)

Wept over it. An outburst of grief, not silent tears now, as at the grave of Lazarus (John 11:35). Peculiar to Luke.

Verses 41-44

Luke 19:41-44. OUR LORD WEEPS OVER JERUSALEM. This incident is related by Luke alone, although similar to Matthew 23:37-39.

Verse 42

Luke 19:42. If thou hadst known. The pathetic expression of a fruitless wish.

In this day. That day of entry is meant, as concentrating in itself all the intimations and proofs of His Messiahship, and becoming a direct offer of Himself for their acceptance; comp. ‘the time of thy visitation’ (Luke 19:44).

Even thou, as well as the disciples, who now testify their knowledge by their shouts of Hosanna.

The things which belong unto peace! ‘Peace’ here certainly includes the idea of deliverance, safety. Perhaps as originally uttered there was an allusion to the name Jerusalem (Salem = peace). What was necessary for this peace was the recognition of Jesus as the Messiah.

But now they are hid from thine eyes. The city, as a whole, rejected Him that day, though its positive antagonism came later in the week. This hiding was according to the righteous counsel of God (comp. Matthew 11:25-26; John 12:37, etc.; Romans 11:7, etc.); but the personal guilt of the inhabitants was directly involved, as is evident from the emotion of our Lord.

Verse 43

Luke 19:43. For. This introduces a prophetic proof that these things were hidden; and is also ‘the awful reason for the fervent wish just expressed’ (Alford). Because our Lord knew that the judgment was inevitable, He voices His sorrow not only in loud weeping but in this pathetic unavailing wish.

Days shall come upon thee. There is a day of decision, but days of retribution. Comp. the discourse uttered two days afterwards (chap. Luke 21:7, etc.), and near the same spot (see on Matthew 24:3). From this very quarter these things came upon the city. The first Roman camp was pitched on this slope of the Mount of Olives.

Shall throw an embankment about thee. A palisaded mound is meant, and according to Josephus, this was the first regular operation in the siege under Titus.

And com - pass thee round, etc. This indicates a different and subsequent act. After the Jews burned the palisades, Titus erected a wall, which hemmed in the city. Hence the famine.

Verse 44

Luke 19:44. Shall dash to the ground thee. The word here used has this sense in the LXX., and it is more appropriate here, since it is applied to thy children within thee. The ‘children’ are the inhabitants, not merely infants; the city, which has been personified throughout, is conceived of as a mother. These words were fulfilled, when the Roman soldiers went through the city destroying houses and people in one common ruin.

One stone upon another. Comp. Matthew 24:2. This was afterwards predicted of the temple, here of the whole city. The temple was totally destroyed at the close of the siege (A. D. 70); the city partially then, but fully in the time of the Emperor Adrian (A. D. 135). The order of the verse, suggests this destruction as occurring after all the other fearful incidents.

Visitation may mean in mercy or in judgment; the former sense is prominent here. In mercy our Lord now came; they knew Him not, rejected Him at this ‘time’ ( = opportunity, season), and thus turned the season of mercy into a long, long period of judgment.

Verses 45-46

Luke 19:45-46. THE CLEANSING OF THE TEMPLE. This took place on Monday; see notes on Matthew 21:12-13; Mark 11:15-17. This is the briefest account, with no peculiarities.

Verses 47-48


Daily (comp. chap. Luke 21:37). On Monday and Tuesday. On the last named day, He solemnly and formally took leave of the temple; see on Matthew 24:1.

The chief men of the people. The worldly aristocracy in distinction from the common people. There were Sadducees as well as priests and scribes among His opponents.

And they could not find, etc. This perplexity had begun some time before (John 7:30-53), but was now reaching its height.

For the people. Comp. Mark 12:37.

All hung upon him, listening. The E.V. omits the striking figure of the original. The attitude of the people was an obstacle to the hostile rulers. But malicious craft found its opportunity in a few short days. Luke here, as often elsewhere, gives a sketch of events afterwards narrated in detail.

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Bibliographical Information
Schaff, Philip. "Commentary on Luke 19". "Schaff's Popular Commentary on the New Testament". 1879-90.