Luke 8 COMMENTARY (Ellicott)

Luke 8
Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers
And it came to pass afterward, that he went throughout every city and village, preaching and shewing the glad tidings of the kingdom of God: and the twelve were with him,

(1) And it came to pass afterward.—The last word is the same as that translated “in order,” in Luke 1:3, and is interesting as showing the continuance of St. Luke’s purpose to narrate events, so far as he could, in their exact sequence. He is the only writer in the New Testament who uses it. The verse sums up an undefined and otherwise unrecorded range of work.

And certain women, which had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities, Mary called Magdalene, out of whom went seven devils,
(2) And certain women.—The words bring before us a feature in this period of our Lord’s ministry not elsewhere recorded, though implied in Luke 23:49. The Master and the disciples formed at this period one travelling company. When they arrived at town or village, they held what we, in the current Church-language of our time, should call a Mission, the Twelve heralding His approach, and inviting men to listen to Him as He taught in synagogue, or market-place, or open plain. Another company, consisting of devout women, mostly of the wealthier class, travelled separately, journeying, probably, in advance, arranging for the reception and the food of the Prophet and His followers. In the history of Elisha (2 Kings 4:10) we have something analogous to this way of helping the preachers of repentance. It is said to have been a not uncommon practice in Judæa in our Lord’s time, for women of independent means to support a Rabbi in his work as a teacher.

Mary called Magdalene.—On the legends and conjectures connected with her name, see Notes on Luke 7:37 and Matthew 27:56. Here it may be enough to note that (1) as being of Magdala, a town near Tiberias (see Note on Matthew 15:39), she had probably heard our Lord in one of His early mission journeys; (2) that the “seven devils” or “demons” point, as in the parable of Matthew 12:45, to a specially aggravated form of possession. with paroxysms of delirious frenzy, like those of the Gadarene demoniac; (3) that her presence with the mother of our Lord and St. John at the Crucifixion (John 19:25) seems to imply some special tie either of sympathy or of earlier connection with them; (4) that she appears, from the names with which she is associated, and from the fact that she too “ministered of her substance,” to have belonged to the more wealthy section of Galilean society. Later Western legends tell of her coming with Lazarus and Martha to Marseilles, and living for thirty years a life of penitence in a cave near Arles. The Eastern form of the legend, however, makes her come to Ephesus with the Virgin and St. John, and die there.

And Joanna the wife of Chuza Herod's steward, and Susanna, and many others, which ministered unto him of their substance.
(3) Joanna, the wife of Chuza.—Here again we have a convert of the upper class. The name was the feminine form of Joannes, and appears in modern languages abbreviated into Joanne, Joan, or Jane. Nothing further is known of Chuza—but the “steward” (the same word as in Matthew 20:8, and the “tutor” or “guardian” of Galatians 4:2) of the Tetrarch, the manager of his income and expenditure, must have been a man of some mark. We may think of him and his wife as having probably come under the influence of the Baptist or of Manaen, the foster-brother of the Tetrarch, probably also of one of the “servants” to whom Antipas imparted his belief that John the Baptist was risen from the dead. Joanna appears again in the history of the Resurrection (Luke 24:10). It is possible, as suggested in the Note on John 4:46, that he may have been identical with the “nobleman” or “member of the royal household” at Capernaum. On this supposition her ministration may have been the result of overflowing gratitude for the restored life of her son.

Susanna.—The name, which meant a “lily” (comp. Rhoda, “a rose,” in Acts 12:13, and Tamar, “a palm,” in Genesis 38:6, 2 Samuel 13:2, as parallel instances of feminine names derived from flowers or trees), meets us in the well-known Apocryphal addition to the Book of Daniel known as Susanna and the Elders. Nothing further is known of the person thus named.

Many others.—It seems clear that St. Luke must have come into personal contact with some, at least, of those whom he describes so fully. They were, we may well believe, among the “eye-witnesses and ministers of the word” (Luke 1:2) from whom he derived much of his information. (See Introduction.)

And when much people were gathered together, and were come to him out of every city, he spake by a parable:
(4) And when much people were gathered . . .—The narrative is less precise than that in St. Matthew. It is possible that the parable may have been repeated more than once.

A sower went out to sow his seed: and as he sowed, some fell by the way side; and it was trodden down, and the fowls of the air devoured it.
(5-15) A sower went out to sow.—See Notes on Matthew 13:3-23. Better, the sower. The vivid touch that the seed was “trodden down” is peculiar to St. Luke.

And some fell upon a rock; and as soon as it was sprung up, it withered away, because it lacked moisture.
(6) Upon a rock.—Better, upon the rock. Note here also the use of a more accurate word than the “stony (or rocky) ground” of the other two reports, and the statement that it withered “because it lacked moisture.” This is obviously not without its force in the spiritual interpretation of the parable, the “moisture” being the dew and rain of God’s grace, without which the seed could not put forth its roots. This represents one aspect of what was lacking, as the having “no depth of earth “represents another.

And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprang up with it, and choked it.
(7) The thorns sprang up with it.—Here again there is a distinctive feature. What made the thorns so fatal to the good seed was that they “grew with its growth, and strengthened with its strength,” and finally overpowered it.

And other fell on good ground, and sprang up, and bare fruit an hundredfold. And when he had said these things, he cried, He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.
(8) Bare fruit an hundredfold.—The graduated scale of fertility common to the other two reports is wanting in St. Luke, who dwells only on the highest.

And his disciples asked him, saying, What might this parable be?
And he said, Unto you it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God: but to others in parables; that seeing they might not see, and hearing they might not understand.
(10) That seeing they might not . . .—St. Luke, like St. Mark, gives the words of Isaiah, but not as a quotation. On the difficulty presented by their form, as thus given, see Note on Mark 4:12.

Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God.
(11) The seed is the word of God.—This takes the place in St. Luke’s interpretation of “the word of the kingdom” in St. Matthew. The “word of God” is obviously to be taken in its widest sense, as including every form by which a revelation from God is conveyed to the mind of man.

Those by the way side are they that hear; then cometh the devil, and taketh away the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved.
(12) Then cometh the devil.—Note St. Luke’s use of this word instead of the “Satan” of St. Mark and “the wicked one” of St. Matthew, and his fuller statement of the purpose, “lest they should believe and be saved.”

They on the rock are they, which, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no root, which for a while believe, and in time of temptation fall away.
(13) In time of temptation.—The form of the temptation (or better, trial) is explained by the “tribulation or persecution” of the other two reports. So St. Luke gives “fall away” where the others give “they are offended.”

And that which fell among thorns are they, which, when they have heard, go forth, and are choked with cares and riches and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to perfection.
(14) Cares and riches and pleasures of this life.—Better, simply, of life, St. Luke’s word (bios) being different from that in the other two Gospels (œon, a time, or period—and so used for “the world”). The insertion of “pleasures” is peculiar to St. Luke, as is also the specific “bring no fruit to perfection “instead of “becometh unfruitful.” The one Greek word which St. Luke uses, and for which the English version substitutes five, occurs nowhere else in the New Testament, and belonging, as it does, to the vocabulary of a more polished literature, is characteristic of his general culture.

But that on the good ground are they, which in an honest and good heart, having heard the word, keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience.
(15) In an honest and good heart.—The Greek for “honest” has a somewhat higher meaning than that which now attaches to the English, and may be better expressed by noble or honourable. The two adjectives were frequently joined together by Greek ethical writers (kalok’agathos), the nobly-good, and so applied to the best forms of an aristocracy, or claimed by those who professed to represent it, to express the highest ideal of moral excellence.

With patience.—Better, with perseverance, or steadfastness. The word implies something more vigorous than the passive submission which we commonly associate with “patience.” The thought is the same as in “he that endureth to the end” (Matthew 10:22; Matthew 24:13), but the noun does not occur in the other Gospels. It occurs thirteen times in St. Paul’s Epistles.

No man, when he hath lighted a candle, covereth it with a vessel, or putteth it under a bed; but setteth it on a candlestick, that they which enter in may see the light.
(16) No man, when he hath lighted a candle.—Better, a lamp; and for “a candlestick,” the lampstand. See Notes on Matthew 5:15; Mark 4:21. In St. Matthew the proverb comes into the Sermon on the Mount; in St. Mark it occupies a position analogous to that in which it stands here, and this agreement favours the view that it was actually spoken in connection with the interpretation of the parable, as a special application of what had before been stated generally.

Note St. Luke’s more general term, “a vessel,” instead of “the bushel,” as in St. Matthew and St. Mark, and the somewhat wider range of the lamp’s illumining power, not only to those who are “in the house,” but to those also who are in the act of “entering” into it. We may, perhaps, venture to connect the choice of the latter phrase with St. Luke’s personal experience as a convert from heathenism. As such, he had been among those that entered into the house; and as he did so, he had seen the light of the lamp which the Apostles of Christ had lighted.

For nothing is secret, that shall not be made manifest; neither any thing hid, that shall not be known and come abroad.
(17) For nothing is secret.—Another of the maxims which were often in our Lord’s lips, and applied as circumstances presented themselves. In Matthew 10:26 (where see Note) it forms part of the charge to the twelve Apostles; here it follows on the interpretation of the parable of the Sower; in Luke 12:2 it points the moral of the uselessness of hypocrisy.

Take heed therefore how ye hear: for whosoever hath, to him shall be given; and whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken even that which he seemeth to have.
(18) Take heed therefore how ye hear.—This again meets us in different contexts. Here and in Matthew 13:12 (where see Note), after the interpretation of the Sower; in Matthew 25:29, as the lesson of the parable of the Talents; in Luke 19:26, in an analogous position, as the lesson of the parable of the Pounds.

That which he seemeth to have.—Better, with the margin, as 1 Corinthians 10:12, that which he thinks he hath. It is only in this passage that the close of the proverb takes this form. The man who does not use his knowledge has no real possession in it; and shallow and unreal as it is, he will lose even that. The work of education in all its many forms, intellectual or spiritual, in boyhood or manhood, presents but too many instances of the operation of this law.

Then came to him his mother and his brethren, and could not come at him for the press.
(19-21) Then came to him his mother and his brethren.—See Notes on Matthew 12:46-50, and Mark 3:31-35. There cannot be any doubt that we have in those passages a report of the same incident; but it may be noted that St. Luke places it after the teaching by parables, and the other two Gospels before. In this instance the evidence preponderates in favour of the latter sequence of events.

For the press.—Better, by reason of the multitude.

And it was told him by certain which said, Thy mother and thy brethren stand without, desiring to see thee.
(20) It was told him by certain which said, . . .—Better, more simply, it was told Him. Looking to the greater fulness of St. Mark’s report, we may, perhaps, infer that this was one of the facts which St. Luke learnt from St. Mark when they met at Rome. (See Introduction.)

And he answered and said unto them, My mother and my brethren are these which hear the word of God, and do it.
(21) My mother and my brethren.—The answer agrees very closely with that in the other Gospels. But note the use of “the word of God,” instead of “the will of God” in St. Mark, and “the will of my Father” in St. Matthew, as throwing light on the meaning of the former phrase, and showing its fulness and width of meaning.

Now it came to pass on a certain day, that he went into a ship with his disciples: and he said unto them, Let us go over unto the other side of the lake. And they launched forth.
(22) It came to pass on a certain day.—See Notes on Matthew 8:18; Matthew 8:23-27, and Mark 4:35-41. Literally, on one of the days. The vagueness of St. Luke’s note of time, as compared with the more precise statements in St. Matthew (Matthew 8:18) and St. Mark (Mark 4:35), is perhaps characteristic of this Evangelist as an inquirer coming late into the field, aiming at exactness, not always succeeding in satisfying himself as to the precise sequence of events, and honestly confessing when he has failed to do so.

Unto the other side of the lakei.e., from the western to the eastern shore. It would seem from the Greek name of the district, Peræa (= “the other-side country”), as if the term was a colloquial designation of the eastern shore, even without reference to the starting-point.

The lake.—The uniform use of the more accurate term by St. Luke as a stranger, as contrasted with the equally uniform use of the more popular and local designation of the “sea” in the other three Gospels, written by, or under the influence of. Galileans, is characteristic of one who may have been a student of Strabo. (See Introduction.)

But as they sailed he fell asleep: and there came down a storm of wind on the lake; and they were filled with water, and were in jeopardy.
(23) He fell asleep.—The verb so rendered differs from the “was asleep” of the other Gospels, and this is the only place of the New Testament in which it occurs. It is a somewhat more technical word, and is so far -characteristic of the physician-historian.

They were filled.—Better, they were filling, the tense describing the process, not the completion.

And they came to him, and awoke him, saying, Master, master, we perish. Then he arose, and rebuked the wind and the raging of the water: and they ceased, and there was a calm.
(24) Master, master.—We note another characteristic feature of Luke’s phraseology. The Greek word (epistatès) which he, and he only, uses in the New Testament, is his equivalent, here and elsewhere, for the “Rabbi” or “Master” (didaskalos), in the sense of “teacher,” which we find in the other Gospels. St. Luke uses this word also, but apparently only in connection with our Lord’s actual work as a teacher, and adopts epistatès (literally, the head or president of a company, but sometimes used also of the head-master of a school or gymnasium) for other occasions. It was, as this fact implies, the more classical word of the two.

The raging of the water.—Literally, the wave or billow of the water. The term is peculiar to St. Luke’s Gospel.

And he said unto them, Where is your faith? And they being afraid wondered, saying one to another, What manner of man is this! for he commandeth even the winds and water, and they obey him.
(25) What manner of man.—Better, Who then is this?

And water.—Better, and the water.

And they arrived at the country of the Gadarenes, which is over against Galilee.
(26-39) And they arrived at the country of the Gadarenes.—See Notes on Matthew 8:28-34, and Mark 5:1-20. Here again St. Mark and St. Luke agree in their order, and differ from St. Matthew. The better MSS. give “Gerasenes” or “Gergesenes.” See Note on Matthew 8:28 for the localities.

Which is over against Galilee.—St. Luke’s description of the region, which the other two Gospels name without describing, is characteristic of a foreigner writing for foreigners.

And when he went forth to land, there met him out of the city a certain man, which had devils long time, and ware no clothes, neither abode in any house, but in the tombs.
(27) And ware no clothes.—The English is stronger than the Greek warrants. Better, wore no cloak, or outer garment. (Comp. Note on Matthew 5:40.) Singularly enough, St. Luke is the only Evangelist who mentions this fact. It is as though he had taken pains to inquire whether this case of frenzied insanity had presented the phenomenon with which his experience as a physician had made him familiar in others.

When he saw Jesus, he cried out, and fell down before him, and with a loud voice said, What have I to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of God most high? I beseech thee, torment me not.
(28) What have I to do with thee?—Note the exact agreement with St. Mark’s report rather than St. Matthew’s, both as to there being but one demoniac, and as to the words used by him.

(For he had commanded the unclean spirit to come out of the man. For oftentimes it had caught him: and he was kept bound with chains and in fetters; and he brake the bands, and was driven of the devil into the wilderness.)
(29) Driven of the devil . . .—Better, by the demon, to show that it is still the unclean spirit, and not the great Enemy, that is spoken of.

Into the wilderness.—The Greek word is plural, as in Luke 1:80; Luke 5:16. St. Luke, it may be noted, is the only writer who so uses it.

And Jesus asked him, saying, What is thy name? And he said, Legion: because many devils were entered into him.
(30) Legion.—Here again St. Mark and St. Luke agree.

And they besought him that he would not command them to go out into the deep.
(31) To go out into the deep.—Better, into the abyss. The word is not found in the other Gospels, and it clearly means, not the deep waters of the Galilean lake, but the pit, the “bottomless pit” of Revelation 9:1-2; Revelation 9:11. The man, identifying himself with the demons, asks for any doom rather than that.

And there was there an herd of many swine feeding on the mountain: and they besought him that he would suffer them to enter into them. And he suffered them.
Then went the devils out of the man, and entered into the swine: and the herd ran violently down a steep place into the lake, and were choked.
(33) Down a steep place.—Better, down the cliff.

When they that fed them saw what was done, they fled, and went and told it in the city and in the country.
(34) In the country.—Better, in the farms. The noun is in the plural, and is so rendered in Matthew 22:5.

Then they went out to see what was done; and came to Jesus, and found the man, out of whom the devils were departed, sitting at the feet of Jesus, clothed, and in his right mind: and they were afraid.
(35) Sitting at the feet of Jesus.—This feature is peculiar to St. Luke’s narrative. The demoniac was now in the same attitude of rapt attention as that in which we find afterwards Mary the sister of Lazarus (Luke 10:39).

They also which saw it told them by what means he that was possessed of the devils was healed.
(36) By what means . . .—Better, how; stress being laid on the manner rather than the instrumentality.

Then the whole multitude of the country of the Gadarenes round about besought him to depart from them; for they were taken with great fear: and he went up into the ship, and returned back again.
(37) They were taken with great fear.—Better, they were oppressed.

Now the man out of whom the devils were departed besought him that he might be with him: but Jesus sent him away, saying,
Return to thine own house, and shew how great things God hath done unto thee. And he went his way, and published throughout the whole city how great things Jesus had done unto him.
(39) Throughout the whole city.—The city was, of course, according to the reading adopted, Gerasa, or Gadara.

And it came to pass, that, when Jesus was returned, the people gladly received him: for they were all waiting for him.
(40) When Jesus was returned.—The narrative implies that our Lord and His disciples re-crossed the lake from the eastern to the western shore, and that the crowd that waited belonged to Capernaum and the neighbouring towns.

And, behold, there came a man named Jairus, and he was a ruler of the synagogue: and he fell down at Jesus' feet, and besought him that he would come into his house:
(41-56) And, behold, there came a man named Jairus.—See Notes on Matthew 9:18-26, and Mark 5:21-43. St. Luke’s narrative agrees with St. Mark’s more closely than with St. Matthew’s.

For he had one only daughter, about twelve years of age, and she lay a dying. But as he went the people thronged him.
(42) About twelve years of age.—St. Luke, as with the precision of a practised writer, names the age at the beginning of the narrative, St. Mark incidentally (Mark 5:42) at its close.

And a woman having an issue of blood twelve years, which had spent all her living upon physicians, neither could be healed of any,
(43) Neither could be healed of any.—It is, perhaps, worth noting that while St. Luke records the failure of the physicians to heal the woman, he does not add, as St. Mark does, that she “rather grew worse” (Mark 5:26).

Came behind him, and touched the border of his garment: and immediately her issue of blood stanched.
And Jesus said, Who touched me? When all denied, Peter and they that were with him said, Master, the multitude throng thee and press thee, and sayest thou, Who touched me?
(45) Master.—The same word as in Luke 8:24, where see Note.

And Jesus said, Somebody hath touched me: for I perceive that virtue is gone out of me.
(46) Somebody hath touched me.—What St. Mark gives historically as a fact, St. Luke reports as uttered by our Lord Himself.

That virtue is gone out of me.—See Note on Mark 5:30. To St. Luke the word was probably familiar as a technical term.

And when the woman saw that she was not hid, she came trembling, and falling down before him, she declared unto him before all the people for what cause she had touched him, and how she was healed immediately.
And he said unto her, Daughter, be of good comfort: thy faith hath made thee whole; go in peace.
(48) Go in peace.—See Note on Luke 7:50.

While he yet spake, there cometh one from the ruler of the synagogue's house, saying to him, Thy daughter is dead; trouble not the Master.
But when Jesus heard it, he answered him, saying, Fear not: believe only, and she shall be made whole.
(50) Believe only.—There is a slight difference in the shade of meaning of the Greek tense as compared with the like command in St. Mark’s report, the latter giving “Believe” as implying a permanent state—Be believing—St. Luke’s report laying stress on the immediate act of faith.

And when he came into the house, he suffered no man to go in, save Peter, and James, and John, and the father and the mother of the maiden.
(51) Save Peter, and James, and John.—It will be noticed that St. Luke agrees with St. Mark in giving the names; St. Matthew omits them. St. Mark, however, states more definitely that none others were allowed even to go with Him.

And all wept, and bewailed her: but he said, Weep not; she is not dead, but sleepeth.
(52) All wept, and bewailed her.—Better, all were weeping and bewailing her.

And they laughed him to scorn, knowing that she was dead.
And he put them all out, and took her by the hand, and called, saying, Maid, arise.
And her spirit came again, and she arose straightway: and he commanded to give her meat.
(55) Her spirit came again.—The precise form of expression is peculiar to St. Luke, and is, perhaps, characteristic of the more accurate phraseology that belonged to him as a physician.

And her parents were astonished: but he charged them that they should tell no man what was done.
Courtesy of Open Bible