Luke 19:17 MEANING

Luke 19:17
(17) Because thou hast been faithful in a very little.--More literally, because thou didst become faithful. The words are in their substance like those in St. Matthew, but their absolute identity with those in the lesson drawn from the parable of the Unjust Steward (see Note on Luke 16:10) is every way suggestive. This parable is connected with that as its natural sequel and development.

Have thou authority over ten cities.--The truth implied in Matthew 25:21 (where see Note), that the reward of faithfulness in this life, and probably in the life to come, will be found in yet wider opportunities for work in God's service, is stated here with greater distinctness. "Authority over ten cities" must have something corresponding to it, some energy and work of guidance, in the realities of the unseen world, and cannot simply be understood as fulfilled in the beatific vision or the life of ceaseless praise and adoration.

Verse 17. - Well, thou good servant. It is noticeable that, in the bestowal of the "five cities" upon the servant who had with his one pound gained five, no expression of praise like this "good servant" is used by the King on his return. Now, what does this omission teach us? Christ, we know, was very careful and very sparing in his use of moral epithets. "Why callest thou me good?" was his stern address to the young ruler who used the expression, not because he was convinced of its applicability, but because he was desirous of paying a flattering compliment to the wise Rabbi from whom he desired information. We may safely conclude that, from the second servant in the story, the one who had earned but five pounds, he withheld the noble appellation "good" because he felt he had not deserved it. He had done well, it is true, and was splendidly recompensed, but he might have done more. He had won a high and responsible place in the kingdom; he was appointed the ruler over five cities; but he had not earned the noble title, ἄγαθος, "good." Very accurately, indeed, it seems, will places and names and power be awarded in the heaven-life, exactly in proportion to merits and deserts.

19:11-27 This parable is like that of the talents, Mt 25. Those that are called to Christ, he furnishes with gifts needful for their business; and from those to whom he gives power, he expects service. The manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal, 1Co 12:7. And as every one has received the gift, so let him minister the same, 1Pe 4:10. The account required, resembles that in the parable of the talents; and the punishment of the avowed enemies of Christ, as well as of false professors, is shown. The principal difference is, that the pound given to each seems to point out the gift of the gospel, which is the same to all who hear it; but the talents, distributed more or less, seem to mean that God gives different capacities and advantages to men, by which this one gift of the gospel may be differently improved.And he said unto him, well, thou good servant,.... Signifying he had well done, and had approved himself to be an honest, diligent, and laborious servant; who, having the grace of God, which made him a good man, and gifts and abilities, which made him a good minister of Christ, he made a good use them, freely communicated the good things of the Gospel, and being employed in a good work, he performed it well:

because thou hast been faithful in a very little; had preached the pure Gospel of Christ, and the whole of it, and sought not to please men, but the Lord only; not his own glory, but Christ's; abode by him and his interest, notwithstanding all reproaches and persecutions, and so acted a faithful part to Christ: "in a very little"; not that the Gospel is in itself little, or of small account; it is a treasure in earthen vessels; and contains the unsearchable riches of Christ: nor are gifts to preach it little things; they are instances of rich and amazing grace; but they are little, or, rather, the use and exercise of them are little, in comparison of the glory and happiness such faithful servants shall enjoy: from whence it appears, that since there is no proportion between what they do, and what they shall have, that therefore it is not of merit but of grace; and which is expressed in the following clause:

have thou authority over ten cities; which is to be understood, not in a literal sense, as if the apostles should have the jurisdiction over so many cities, or churches in so many cities among the Gentiles, after the destruction of Jerusalem, which were planted by their means and ministry; for nothing of this kind appears in the word of God: and much less after the second coming of Christ, shall faithful ministers of the word have power over so many cities, literally taken; for both in the kingdom state and in the ultimate glory, there will be but one beloved city, the holy city, the new Jerusalem: nor is any thing in particular, in a metaphorical sense, intended; only, in general, that the kingdom, and dominion, and the greatness of it, will be given unto them; and they shall reign with Christ on earth a thousand years; and shall also have a crown of glory, life, and righteousness bestowed on them, and shall sit on the throne with Christ; and besides all this, the persons they have been instrumental to, will be their joy, and crown of rejoicing. A learned writer (l) explains these ten cities, by the ten horns of the dragon, and beast in Revelation 12:3 by which are meant ten kings, or kingdoms, Revelation 17:12. These indeed will be overcome by Christ, and they that are with him, and will hate the Romish antichrist, and destroy him; so that, it seems, there will be revolutions in these kingdoms; and large conversions to the faith of Christ, which seems to be what this writer means by authority over them.

(l) Teelmanni Specimen Explic. Parabol. p. 51.

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