Bible Query from
Q: In Lk, what are some of the distinctive elements of this gospel?
A: Luke emphasizes the humanity of Jesus, the son of man, who brought salvation for Gentiles as well as Jews. Jesus shines as a teacher of parables in Luke. Christ is the universal hope. Many see more of a Gentile emphasis than Matthew or Mark. Luke has more information on the infancy of Jesus in the time of Herod the Great. Eusebius says that Luke was a Gentile from Antioch, and Acts 13:1 says that Manaen, who had been brought up with Herod the Tetrarch was in Antioch. Luke seems to emphasize contrasts, such as the thankful vs. thankless lepers, the repentant and unrepentant thieves, the Samaritan and the Pharisees, and the rich man and Lazarus.
As for language, the books of Luke and Acts have the most complex Greek grammar in the Bible. Luke is also the longest gospel at about 19,581 Greek words, vs. 18,111 for Matthew, 11,051 for Mark, and 15,436 Greek words for John. Luke also wrote Acts soon after, which is about 18,460 Greek words.
As for cults, Jehovah's Witnesses try to give Luke 16:19-31 an especially twisted interpretation.
Q: In Lk 1:1, were there many Gospel accounts written?
A: We know of the three other genuine gospels. Afterwards, Tatian, an Assyrian Christian who later became a heretic, wrote the Diatessaron, a harmony of these four gospels, soon after 100 A.D. If other true accounts were written, we have no evidence that anybody in the early church ever heard of them. We also have faith that God preserved what He wished to preserve.
There were about 50 Gnostic and legendary accounts written, such as the Gospel of Thomas of the Gnostic heretics. Pictures and discussion of the Gospel of Thomas are in the Wycliffe Dictionary of Biblical Archaeology p.406, The New International Dictionary of the Bible p.1011-1012, and The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia vol.6 p384. See also the next question.
Q: In Lk 1:1, given that we only know of three other genuine Gospel accounts, did any Christians write anything else that is not in our Bibles?
A: Yes, the early Christians wrote many things. We have good, extra-Biblical writing from three disciples of the apostle John (Ignatius, Polycarp, and fragments from Papias). We have a letter from Clement of Rome (96/98 A.D., before Revelation), which was possibly the same Clement mentioned by Paul in Philippians 4:3. We also have a great deal of apologetic writing from Irenaeus, as disciple of Polycarp, Justin Martyr, and Athenagoras. There are a total of about 39 writers prior to the sever persecution of Decius and Gallus in 250/251 A.D., and many, many others.
Q: In Lk 1:3, why did the author know more than the other gospel writers about the birth and early childhood of Jesus?
A: While Luke only says he carefully investigated what was told by eyewitnesses, here is a theory of a more specific reason.
Eusebius of Caesarea (c.325 A.D.) says that Luke was a Gentile from Antioch. Acts 13:1 says that among the prophets and teachers in the church at Antioch was Manaen, who had been brought up with Herod the Tetrarch. Luke obviously knew of Manaen since he wrote Acts. His discussions with Manaen of the times of his childhood might have been especially interesting.
Of course the church was small back then, and we cannot totally rule out Matthew, Mark, and John talking with Manaen too.
Q: In Lk 1:3, was Luke really divinely inspired or did it just seem good to him to write this?
A: Both can be true. We do not know how much was Luke's initiative, but regardless, God can use and bless our initiative, as 2 Corinthians 8:17, (but really most of 8 and 9) show. See also the next question.
Q: In Lk 1:3, does this mean Luke was not inspired, since the Apocryphal book of 2 Maccabees 2:23-32 also shows initiative?
A: First some basic facts, then a comparison of the two, and finally some conclusions.
B1. If a writer of the Bible decided to write something, God could use his decision. In fact, every writer of every book of the Bible must have decided to write that book, or it would not have been written. See the previous question for more discussion on God using our initiative.
B2. The majority of Catholics and Orthodox believe 2 Maccabees is a part of God's word. (It was in the original King James Version.) Almost all Protestants (many Anglicans and Episcopalians excepted) believe it is not. See the question on whether the Apocrypha is a part of God's word for more info on the Apocrypha in general.
B3. Many early Christians believed the Apocrypha was a part of Scripture, especially early Christians that spoke Latin and Greek.
B4. Many early Christians believed the Apocrypha contained godly writings but that they were not Scripture, especially early Christians that spoke Hebrew.
B5. All can agree that at the least, 2 Maccabees was a condensation of a history of the Maccabean period written by God-fearing Jews. There is nothing wrong with believers writing histories and other books.
B6. Most genuine Christians agree that a person could have a wrong view of the Apocrypha and still be a genuine Christian.
Luke 1:1-4 (RSV Catholic version) "Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile a narrative of the things which have been accomplished among us, just as they were delivered to us by those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word, it seemed good to me also, having followed all things closely for some time past, to write an orderly account for you,..."
2 Maccabees 2:23-32 (RSV Catholic version) "all this, which has been set forth by Jason of Cyrene in five volumes, we shall attempt to condense into a single book. For considering the flood of numbers involved and the difficulty there is for those who wish to enter upon the narratives of history because of the mass of material, we have aimed to please those who wish to read, to make it easy for those who are inclined to memorize, and to profit all readers. For us who have undertaken the toil of abbreviating, it is not light matter but calls for sweat and loss of sleep, just as it is not easy for one who prepares a banquet and seeks the benefit of others. However, to secure the gratitude of many we will gladly endure the uncomfortable toil, leaving the responsibility for exact details to the compiler, while devoting our effort to arriving at the outlines of the condensation. For as the master builder of a new house must be concerned with the whole construction, while the one who undertakes its painting and decoration has to consider only what is suitable for its adornment, such in my judgment is the case with us. It is the duty of the original historian to occupy the ground and to discuss matters from every side and to take trouble with details, but the one who recasts the narrative should be allowed to strive for brevity of expression and to forgo exhaustive treatment. At this point therefore let us begin our narrative, adding only so much to what has already been said; for it is foolish to lengthen the preface while cutting short the history itself."
C1. 2 Maccabees never claimed to be the word of God. Luke claimed to contain the exact words of Jesus.
C2. Luke basically says that
a) Since others [Matthew and Mark?] have undertaken to write about Jesus' life, and
b) Since he followed all things closely,
c) It seemed good to Luke to write his Gospel.
C3. The writer(s) of 2 Maccabees state the work is simply a condensation of the five volumes of Jason of Cyrene. The writer said there were many difficulties involved, and they explain how and why they produced what they did.
C4. While the writer of 2 Maccabees 1 goes into great detail how the book was produced, he fails to mention that God had anything to do with inspiring the work.
Q: In Lk 1:3 and Acts 1:1, who was Theophilus?
A: In Greek, the name "Theophilus" means "lover of God." Either the books were addressed to a particular individual named Theophilus, or more probably, it was addressed to lovers of God everywhere.
Theophilus, a bishop of Antioch from 168-181/188 A.D., lived later and so it could not refer to him. Likewise it was also the name of a patriarch of Alexandria around 391 A.D.
Q: In Lk 1:5, what does the name Elizabeth mean?
A: Elizabeth (Elisabet in Greek) is equivalent to Elisheba in Hebrew. It means "God is my oath". Elisheba was a daughter of Amminadab of Judah and Aaron's wife. In Exodus 6:23. The Wycliffe Bible Dictionary p.520,522, the New International Dictionary of the Bible p.308 and the skeptical Asimov's Guide to the Bible p.918 all say similar.
Q: In Lk 1:5 (KJV), who is Abia?
A: The King James Version translated "Abia" when it should have been "Abijah". Zechariah was of the priestly division descended from Abijah. Of the 24 divisions, Abijah was the eighth division according to 1 Chronicles 24:10.
Q: In Lk 1:13, why was it so important to name Elizabeth's baby John?
A: Scripture does not say. Sometimes God has specific reasons for doing things, and the Lord is does not obligated to tell us. Normally in that culture the father had the right to name the child. If God had not said to name Him John, we have no idea what he would have been named.
Q: In Lk 1:15 and Mt 11:14, how was John the Baptist in the Spirit and power of Elijah? Was he Elijah reincarnated?
A: No. He came in the spirit and power of Elijah, but John was not Elijah reincarnated. See the discussion on Mark 9:11-13 for the answer.
Q: In Lk 1:15, what does it mean that John the Baptist was filled with the Holy Spirit from birth?
A: Since the Day of Pentecost, believers receive the Holy Spirit dwelling inside of them when they are born again. John the Baptist was a unique person with a unique mission. He was filled with the Holy Spirit from before birth.
Q: In Lk 1:17 (KJV), who is Elias?
A: Elias appears in the King James version; it is a synonym for Elijah, whom you can read about in 1 Kings 17 to 2 Kings 1.
Q: In Lk 1:28,42 how is Mary full of grace?
A: This is not referring to either the chemical, physical, or spiritual composition of Mary. Rather, grace here means unmerited favor, and Mary was given great favor by the privilege of being the mother of our Lord. Remember, someone who did not have a sin nature, and never sinned would not need a Savior. In Luke 1:47, Mary shows that she needed a savior too. See When Critics Ask p.382-383 and When Cultists Ask p.142-144 for more info on why Mary was not immaculately conceived and did not live a sinless life, as the Catholic Church claims. Historically, no pre-Nicene Christian writer wrote the Mary was sinless, or had stores of merit.
Q: In Lk 1:31, why was it important to name Mary's baby Jesus?
A: Scripture does not explicitly say. However, the Hebrew word for Jesus, Yeshua, means Jehovah saves, and it seems the only appropriate name for Jesus, since it means "Yahweh saves". Furthermore, it might be relevant that Zechariah 3:1-5 mentions a high priest named Yeshua, who is apparently a type of the Savior. Joshua's name and Jesus' names are the same in Hebrew.
Q: In Lk 1:34 and Mt 1:18-20, how can a virgin birth be possible?
A: By natural means, it is not possible for people. But since Almighty God can create man from the dust of the ground, by comparison a virgin birth would not be too difficult for Him.
Q: In Lk 1:35, why does the Bible not even spare God from illicit sexual aspersions being ascribed to Him when the Holy Ghost overshadowed Mary, without explaining how? (The Muslim Ahmad Deedat brought this up.)
A: While God did not tell us exactly how He performed this miracle, no early Christian explained this a sexual act in any way. It is very strange that Deedat would bring this up, because even the Qur'an affirms that Jesus was born of a virgin. I have heard of a Muslim, apparently in his zeal to be anti-Christian, deny that Jesus was born of a virgin, despite what his own religion teaches.
Q: In Lk 1:37; Mt 19:26; Mk 10:27, how is nothing is impossible with God, since it is impossible for God to lie in Heb 6:18, disown Himself in 2 Timothy 2:13, swear by anything greater than Himself in Heb 6:13, or be tempted with evil in Jms 1:13.
A: No "thing" is impossible with God. Lying and logical contradictions are not "things", and God does not do those. See When Critics Ask p.351 for a more extensive answer.
Q: In Lk 1:37, what about the theory that Mary had sex with a soldier named Parthenos?
A: The Greek word for "virgin" is parthenos. Some unbelievers once speculated that "Panthera" was a Roman soldier who fathered Jesus. However, parthenos in Greek means "virgin", we have no record of anyone ever named Parthenos, and it would be a very unlikely name for a Greek man. The early writer Origen was the first we know of to answer this charge in Origen Against Celsus book 1 chapter 32 p.410.
Q: In Lk 1:37, is God really almighty?
A: Yes. Here is what the scriptures say about God's power.
God is almighty. Luke 1:37; Jeremiah 32:27; Isaiah 1:9
All God decrees happens. Isaiah 14:24,27; 43:13; 55:11; John 10:26-28. God is sovereign over all. Isaiah 6:5; Psalm 103:14
God does as He pleases. Matthew 20:15; Psalm 115:3;135:6; Romans 9:20
Nothing is too hard for God. Genesis 18:14; Job 42:2; Jeremiah 32:17; Matthew 19:26
God cannot deny Himself (2 Timothy 2:13), lie (Hebrews 6:18; 1 Samuel 15:29), or be tempted by evil. (James 1:13), or swear by any greater than Himself (Hebrews 6:13).
Nothing occurs besides what God allows. Job 1:12;2:6; James 4:15
Every "decision of the lot" is from the Lord. Proverbs 16:33
All things work together for His will. Romans 8:28; Ephesians1:11
None can thwart God's decrees. Isaiah 43:13; Romans 11:29
Many succeed in resisting God's commanded/desired will. Acts 7:39,51; 4:11; 13:46; 14:2; 2 Corinthians 6:1
People do some good things on their own initiative. 2 Corinthians 8:17
In summary, God's power is bounded only by Himself. Everything happens that God commands. Nothing happens that God does not permit. God can choose for a time to delegate His sovereignty and to permit some things that break His heart, but ultimately everything is woven together in His plan.
Q: In Lk 1:38, if Mary had refused, would God be unable to redeem humankind?
A: No. God uses people as His instruments, but God is not restricted to using a particular person. Mordecai understood this well in Esther 4:14.
Hypothetically speaking, it would have been no problem for God to come up with an alternate plan. Perhaps He could have chosen another woman, and ensured that she developed the qualities to be a good mother for Jesus.
In reality, God knows every day of our life before we existed (Psalm 139), including every decision we make, and every decision Mary would make. Thus, God needed no alternate plan.
Q: Does Lk 1:48 show we are to venerate Mary above all women?
A: No. Mary was a recipient of God's grace, not a source of her own grace. Four points to consider in the answer.
The Greek does not say we are to bless her above all women, but that she was the most blessed of women for being Jesus' mother.
Jael was the most blessed woman in Judges 5:24 because she killed Sisera. If you think you should venerate Mary because of the phrasing of Luke 1:48, you should not forget to venerate Jael as most blessed of women prior to Mary, because of the phrasing of Judges 5:24.
When the wise men came the bowed and worshipped Jesus. It does not say they bowed or venerated Mary.
Remember, Mary worshipped her son too.
Finally, in Acts 1:13-14, when the disciples were together and Mary the mother of Jesus was there too, they were all praying to God, nobody was praying to or venerating Mary.
See When Cultists Ask p.145 and When Critics Ask p.381-382 for more info.
Q: In Lk 1:48, how is Mary the most blessed among women?
A: Mary was the most blessed to be the mother of the baby Jesus. Mary did not say "my soul rejoices", but rather "my soul rejoices in the Lord". Christians always will remember and honor her as the one who nurtured Jesus. Absent from the scripture is any hint that she was sinless, immaculately conceived herself, a virgin all of her life, that she has stores of merit, or that she ascended to Heaven. Scripture never calls her a co-mediator, co-redeemer, or that we are to venerate/worship her. Pre-Nicene Christian writers were unfamiliar with any idea of Mary being a co-mediator or co-redeemer, or that anybody thought of venerating Mary.
It is correct but ambiguous to call Mary the "mother of God" as the Council of Ephesus did. There is no way Mary is the mother of God the Father or the Holy Spirit. Nestorius at first opposed saying Mary was the mother of God, but later he accepted the term, though with reluctance. Mary genuinely is the mother of God, because she is the mother of Jesus. However, Jesus existed in Heaven before Mary was created, and Mary is not the mother of God the Father or God the Spirit. Rather than saying Mary is the mother of God, it is preferable to say Mary is the mother of God the Son.
Q: In Lk 1:70 and Acts 3:21, do the speeches of Zechariah and Peter speech show the earth was young, because the prophets spoke from the beginning?
A: No, because "from the beginning" is an expression for from the first times. They spoke from the beginning of mankind, not from the beginning, six days before. Thus, Luke 1:70 does not establish how long a day was.
For examples of the use of "beginning" that does not refer to the beginning of creation, see Luke 1:2; John 8:25; 15:27; 16:4; Acts 26:5.
Q: In Lk 1:80; 2:52; 4:16, did Jesus travel to India and learn from Hindu teachers, as some New Agers claim?
A: No. When Cultists Ask p.146-148 mentions that the Russian author Nicolas Notovitch said this. It also mentions that Jesus quoted extensively from the Old Testament, and never from the Hindu Vedic "scriptures". There are five points to consider in the answer.
1. Luke 1:80 refers to John the Baptist, not Jesus. Zechariah was John's father, and Zechariah's song of praise to God in Luke 1:67-79 refers not to Jesus but to his child, "a prophet of the Most High; for you will go on before the Lord to prepare the way for him" (Lk 1:76 NIV)
2. Luke 2:39-40 says that Jesus returned to Nazareth, not India.
3. Luke 2:41 says that every year Jesus parents, presumably with Jesus, went to Jerusalem.
4. In Luke 2:51-52, after he was twelve years old, Jesus grew up in Nazareth, too.
5. Finally, Luke 4:16 says that Jesus was brought up in Nazareth.
In summary, there is no evidence that Jesus went anywhere outside of Palestine and Egypt. There is as much evidence that Jesus as a boy went to India as that He went to the moon.
Q: On Lk 2, I had someone email this: "The reason for Christmas is traditionally rooted in the Roman Saturnalia which Christianity supplanted. There is no precedent in the bible for the holiday.
A: Here is the short answer:
a) We do not know the month and year Jesus was born, so any time is as good as another.
b) Romans had a lot of holidays, so any day would be close to some Roman holiday or another.
c) Early Christians were willing to die rather than worship other gods, so Christmas had nothing to do with the worship of Saturn or any other idols at Saturnalia.
d) Many early Gentile Christians were slaves, and since the Romans had a custom of giving their slaves temporary freedom for a few days during the time of Saturnalia, that would be the only time they could leave to meet for Christmas without being pursued.
See the next question for the long answer.
Q: In Lk 2, is Christmas a pagan holiday, and why is it celebrated on December 25th?
A: No, Christmas is not a pagan holiday. We do not know the month and day when Jesus was born. It would not be reasonable for all the farmers to have to go somewhere to be taxed at either harvest time or planting time, though. There are two views as to why Christmas is just after Saturnalia: coincidence, and not a coincidence. Here is supporting evidence for both views.
Coincidence: Various cultures had holidays at various times. For example, the later Greeks had more holidays than non-holidays. The Romans had a minor holiday every Ides (13th or 15th) of the month to Jupiter. Every six days prior was a sacrifice to Juno and Janus. Here is a partial list of Roman holidays.
Jan. 1 Sacred day to Janus
Jan. 9 Agonia (for Janus)
February Sabine (not just Roman) festival of purification called Februa
Feb. 15 Lupercalia (not to any god)
Feb. 17 Quirinalia (for Mars)
Feb. 27 First Equirria (for Mars)
Mar. 1 Matronalia (for Juno)
Mar. 14 Second Equirra (for Mars)
Mar. 19 Quinquatrus (for Minerva)
Mar. 23 Tubilustrium (purification of trumpets)
April Festival for Venus
Apr. 25 Robigalia (ask mildew to spare the grain)
Spring? Bachannalia (drunken, sexual festival)
May 15 Festival to Mercury and Maia
May 26 Ambarvalia (for good crops)
Jun. 9 Vestalia (to Vesta)
Jun. 13-14 Lesser Quinquatrus (for Minerva)
The month of July was renamed for Emperor Julius Caesar, who was proclaimed a god.
Jul. 23 Neptunalia (when water was most wanted)
The month of August was renamed for Emperor Augustus, who was proclaimed a god.
Aug. 9 Vinalia rustica (for Venus)
Aug. 13 Festival to Diana (slaves freed for 1 day)
Aug. 23 Vulcania (for Vulcan)
Sep. 4 Ludi Magni in honor of Jupiter, Juno, and Minerva (Encyclopedia Britannica 1957 version)
Sep. 13 Feast of Jupiter (Roman State prominent)
Oct. 15 October Horse (sacrifice to Mars)
Nov. 1 Feast of Pomona, goddess of harvest
Dec. 17-24 Saturnalia (commemorate the golden age of Saturn. - Slaves freed for 8 days)
Tertullian (198-220 A.D.) in On Idolatry chapter 10 also mentions the Quintquatria, Minervalia, Saturnalia, Septimontium and the feast of Dear Kinmanship. We are not sure of the dates of some of these holidays though.
The point of listing the Roman holidays is that, whenever Christmas was celebrated, it would most likely be close to some Roman holiday or another.
Not a Coincidence: Celebrating Christmas on December 25 was not a coincidence for three reasons.
N1. Not at these times: Some times were less appropriate than others for Christmas. Around March 9-24, there were many gladiatorial shows in honor of Minerva. The early Christians probably would not want to be out celebrating when Romans were looking for people to fight wild beasts. On September 13, worship of Mars, protector of the state, was prominent. Christians would not want to be conspicuous then, either.
N2. Competing with Saturnalia: Having Christmas just after Saturnalia might have been deliberate to "compete" with the Roman holiday. However, this view assumes Saturnalia was an extremely important holiday, which was not necessarily the case.
N3. Many Christians were slaves: Over half of the inhabitants of the Roman Empire were slaves, and probably even a greater percentage of Christians were slaves. The pagan holiday of Saturnalia gave Christian slaves more freedom than usual, since slaves were temporarily free during this time. Thus they had the free time to plan and gather for their own holiday.
See Now That's a Good Question p.362-364 for more info.
Q: In Lk 2, was Christmas just copied from the pagan Roman holiday Sol Invictus?
A: No. The holiday of Sol Invictus (the invincible sun), was celebrated on December 23, not the 25th, when the days began to lengthen. Besides this, Christmas could not be copied from Sol Invictus for two other reasons.
1) Sol Invictus was only started in 270 A.D. under Emperor Aurelian.
2) Ephraem the Syriac Christian (c.350-378 A.D.) records Christ's Nativity being celebrated. He shows that is was celebrated around 13 days after the winter solstice. (Hymns on the Nativity Hymn 4 p.235). Ephraim lived on the western part of the Persian Sassanid Empire, where Roman Emperor-declared holidays would not be celebrated.
In the Roman Empire, Gregory Nazianzen give what some consider to be one of his best sermons, on the Birthday of Christ, either December 25, 380 A.D., or January 6, 381 A.D. Oration 38 p.345-351.
Q: In Lk 2:1, is it OK for Christians to abbreviate Christmas as "Xmas"?
A: It is fine. As R.C. Sproul points out in Now That's a Good Question p.364-365, it is not an X but a cross that was the abbreviation, and no disrespect of Jesus is intended.
Q: In Lk 2:1-5, why would Caesar Augustus allegedly cause chaos by allegedly making everyone return to their hometown?
A: First what the skeptic Isaac Asimov claims, and then two different answers.
Asimov's Guide to the Bible p.929 outright says, "The Romans couldn't possibly have conducted so queer a census as that. Why should they want every person present in the town of his ancestors rather than in the town in which he actually dwelt? ... No, it is hard to imagine a more complicated tissue of implausibilities and the Romans would certainly arrange no such census."
C. Vibius Maximus, Roman prefect of Egypt in would disagree. For the taxation edict of Vibius Maximus in 104 A.D. required everyone in the Egypt to return their hometown. This would not cause chaos for the farmers and poorer people, who did not travel much anyway. See The Case for Christ p.135 and the Wycliffe Bible Dictionary p.414 for more info, and it says the decree is documented in Deiss LAE p.271.
Joseph's own choice: As to Joseph returning to Bethlehem vs. calling Nazareth his home town, the gospels did not actually claim that Caesar Augustus required everyone in the empire return to their hometown. Perhaps Joseph had his own reasons, and Joseph either thought it important to register himself as a descendant of the royal line on his own accord, or else he was told to do so by an angel. However, Joseph was not the only one who felt the need to travel for the census, as the inns in Bethlehem were full.
Q: In Lk 2:1, why did Joseph leave his home and return to his hometown?
A: There are two concurrent answers.
Heavenly reason: God in His providence made things this way so that the prophecy would be fulfilled that Jesus would be born at Bethlehem.
Earthly reason: Either Joseph himself just wanted to return to his hometown, or else people had to return to their hometown, to ensure that no one was missed in the taxation. A similar requirement, that everyone must return to their hometown, was in the taxation edict of Egypt in 104 A.D. The prefect, C. Vibius Maximus, wrote, 'The enrollment by household being at hand, it is necessary to notify all who for any cause whatsoever are away from their administrative divisions to return home in order to comply with the customary ordinance of enrollment, and to remain in their own agricultural land." See The New Testament Documents : Are They Reliable. by F.F. Bruce. IVP (p.86-87) for more info.
Q: In Lk 2:2, what do we know about Quirinius?
A: Quirinius was a governor twice. The first time was between 12 and 6 B.C., when he led a campaign against the Homanadensians in Anatolia (modern Turkey). The second time Quirinius was govern of Syria starting in 6 A.D., according to an inscription. We do not have a record of which province Quirinius was governor of the first time. There are two views:
Sir William Ramsay advocates that Quirinius was governor of Syria the first time. (Syria is adjacent to the mountains of Anatolia). While we have a complete record of the governors of Syria during this time and Quirinius is not mentioned until 6 A.D., Quirinius might have been a special additional governor for this military campaign.
F.F. Bruce advocates that Quirinius was governor of probably Galatia, which is in Anatolia.
As a side note, there is much about the ancient world we cannot prove. For example, Damascus coins are silent about Roman occupation of Damascus between 34 to 62 A.D. Yet, we are certain that the Romans ruled Damascus then. Likewise when the Emperor Claudius expelled the Jews from Rome in 49-50 A.D., Josephus never mentioned this even, only Seutonius and Luke. See The Resurrection of Jesus by Michael R. Licona p.33 for more on this.
See http://www.biblehistory.net/newsletter/cyrenius.htm for more on Quirinius. See also The New Testament Documents : Are They Reliable? by F.F. Bruce (p.86-87) for more info, and Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties p.365-366 and When Critics Ask p.383-385 for more info.
Q: In Mt 2:1, was Jesus was born during the reign of Herod the Great, who died in 4 B.C., or at the time of Quirinius governor of Syria in 6 A.D. in Lk 2:2?.
A: Jesus was born prior to Herod's death, around 4 B.C.. First two possible answers, and then the more probable answer.
Answer 1: F.F. Bruce mentions that many grammarians translate the Greek of Luke 2:2 as "before" Quirinius was governor, not "while" in The New Testament Documents : Are They Reliable (IVP) p.86-87. The Baker Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics p.430-431 mentions this, but prefers the third explanation.
Answer 2: Tertullian (198-220 A.D.) in Against Marcion book 4 ch.19 p.378 thought the name "Quirinius" was substituted for "Saturninus". Historically, we know that Sentius Saturninus was governor of Syria from 8 to 6 B.C., until he was succeeded by Varus from 6-3 B.C.
Most Probable answer: Quirinius was governor twice, and we know the second time was 6 A.D. The first time he was a governor was 12-6 B.C., during the time of Jesus' birth, when he led a campaign against the Homandensians in Anatolia. However, we do not know the province of where he was governor the first time.
Luke himself was apparently aware of the possibility of confusion about Quirinius, for verse 2 says "This was the first census..." implying there was more than one census under Quirinius.
See The New Testament Documents : Are They Reliable? by F.F. Bruce (p.86-87) for a discussion of all these views, and the Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties p.365-366 and When Critics Ask p.383-385 for more info.
Q: In Lk 2:1-5, when were the censuses of the Roman Empire?
A: A census was important to set up the taxation rates, and the Romans wanted to have them to more evenly (and thoroughly) tax the people.
44 B.C. Romans were taxing the Jews (though without a census) according to Josephus' Antiquities of the Jews book 14 ch.271.
8-4 B.C. Augustus had three censuses, the second of which was 8-4 B.C. Augustus records that he first ordered the census in 8 B.C, in Res Gestae 8 - The Deeds of Augustus. The census would have taken a few years to implement. Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties p.366 mentions a census 7 B.C..
6/7 A.D. Archelaus was deposed and his lands added to Syria. Josephus (93-94 A.D) (Antiquities of the Jews 17.13:5 p.375) says Cyrenius "took account of their substance" and discusses Cyrenius more in Antiquities of the Jews and 18.1.1 p.376. This is very likely the same census mentioned in Acts 5:37.
20 A.D. Roman census, and every 14 years after that according Papyrus Oxyrynchus 225 (in Milligan, Greek Papyri p.44-47). See the Wycliffe Bible Dictionary p.319,414, and Bible Difficulties & Seeming Contradictions p.71-72 for more on this.
104 A.D. in Egypt there was a census under Vibius Maximus. This was 14 X 6 years after the 20 A.D. census.
See Bible Difficulties & Seeming Contradictions p.68-69 and http://www.biblehistory.net/newsletter/cyrenius.htm for more info.
Q: In Lk 2:1-5, did Luke mix up this census with the census that occurred in 6 A.D. under Quirinius in Acts 5:37?
A: No, for two reasons.
a) Luke, who mentioned the census in Acts 5:37, would be unlikely to mix it up with the census before Jesus' birth.
b) Luke himself was aware of the possibility of confusion, and that is most likely why Luke 2:2 says "([This] was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.)". This strongly implies that Luke knew there was more than one census. Alternately, note that [This] is not in the Greek, and the word "first" can be translated as prior. Thus Luke 2:2 can also mean "This took place as a census prior to Cyrenius being governor of Syria" according to Bible Difficulties & Seeming Contradictions p.71.
See Bible Difficulties & Seeming Contradictions p.68-69 for more info.
Q: In Lk 2:14, what does "good will toward men" (KJV, NKJV) mean?
A: Better translations are:
among men of good will - Wuest's Expanded Translation
to men on whom his favor rests - NIV
among men with whom He is pleased - NASB, uNASB, NET Bible
to men who please him - Williams Translation
Q: In Lk 2:40, since grace is undeserved favor, how was God's grace on Jesus?
A: This expresses that Jesus had God's grace, means that God the Father was pleased with how Jesus was growing, and that God the Father and Spirit were strengthening Jesus' human growth. See also the discussion on Luke 2:52 for more info.
Q: In Lk 2:43-50, did Jesus disobey his parents, and perhaps sin, by not returning to them?
A: No, Jesus did not break any of his mother's commands. Mary might have thought Jesus was disobedient based on Luke 2:48. However, sometimes parents are mistaken when they think their children are not doing the right thing. They never gave a command that Jesus disobeyed, and Jesus might not even have been aware they had already left.
In general, children are to obey their parents. However, our parents contradict a command from God, we have to obey God and not our parents on that particular point.
Q: In Lk 2:49, did Jesus talk back to His mother?
A: No. Respectfully explaining why you were at a place is not talking back to your parents. Jesus talked with His mother, but He did not talk back to her.
Q: In Lk 2:52, since no one grows in favor with himself, and since Jesus is God, how did Jesus grow in favor with God?
A: In the Bible, the word "God", when not referring to an idol, sometimes means God the Father, sometimes God the Son, sometimes God the Spirit, and sometimes God in Trinity. It means God the Father and Spirit here.
In addition, God the Father has the role of God to God the Son, as Hebrews 1:9 clearly shows when it says, "Therefore God, your God..." (NIV). While on earth, even Jesus learned submission and obedience, according to Hebrews 5:7-8.
Q: In Lk 3:1, what extra-Biblical evidence is there of Lysanias, Tetrarch of Abilene in the fifteenth year of Tiberias (27-28 A.D.)?
A: A century ago there was none whatsoever. A Lysanias of Abilene who was executed in 34 B.C. lived too early to be relevant.
In the Twentieth century, the situation changed. An inscription was found that said 'for the salvation of the Lords Imperial and their whole household, by Nymphaeus, a freedman of Lysanias the tetrarch." The words "Lords Imperial" date this inscription between 14 A.D. and 29 A.D. See The New Testament Documents : Are They Reliable by F.F. Bruce (IVP) p.87-88 and The Case for Christ p.130 for more info.
Q: In Lk 3:9, what does the "axe is laid to the root" mean?
A: John the Baptist is threatening that God's judgment is near and will strike down the roots of a tree that does not produce the good fruit of accepting the Messiah. This is according to the NIV Study Bible p.1541, the New Geneva Study Bible p.1608, the New International Bible Commentary p.1192-1193, The Bible Knowledge Commentary : New Testament p.211, and the Evangelical Bible Commentary p.809.
The "axe laid to the root" does NOT mean we ourselves should cut down the bad roots we have. Rather, John the Baptist is making a threat about what God will do.
But there are two possibilities, and both may be true.
Individually: The Believer's Bible Commentary p.1378 says, "Christ's coming would test the reality of man's repentance. Those individuals who did not manifest the fruits of repentance would be condemned."
Corporately: if the Jewish nation rejected the Messiah, Christ would curse the fig tree (Mark 11:13-14,20-21) and cut out those branches, as Romans 11:17-20 says.
Q: In Lk 3:13, why did Jesus merely tell the Roman soldiers to be content with their pay?
A: This simple statement meant they were not to rob or extort others. The Roman political world was built on using power to amass wealth, and Jesus said they should not use illegitimate means to gain wealth.
Q: At Jesus' baptism did the voice speak to the people around Jesus in Matthew or just to Jesus (Jesus, Interrupted p.39-40). In Matthew 3:17 the Father says, "This is my Son..." and in Mark 1:11 and Luke 3:22 the Father says, "You are my Son...."
A: On one hand, the Father could have spoken twice, once to the people, and once, audibly or inaudibly, to Jesus. On the other hand, the Father could have simply spoken only one sentence. In numerous places the gospel writers do not give exact quotes, but the gist or meaning of what was communicated. It is easy to forget that modern quotation marks were unknown in ancient writing. Regardless, it is clear from all three writers that the Father communicated that Jesus was His beloved Son, in whom He was well-pleased.
Q: In Lk 3:23, who is the son of Heli?
A: The words "son of" are not present in the Greek, it only says "of Heli". It was Mary who was the daughter of Heli, and Heli was Jesus' biological grandfather.
Q: In Lk 3:23 why do many translations say Jesus was "as was supposed" the son of Joseph, when "as was supposed was not in the Greek? (The Muslim Ahmad Deedat brought this up.)
A: Deedat is not correct here. This is in the Greek. You can see it in The Greek New Testament by Aland et al. 3rd edition), also in the 4th edition, Green's Literal Translation, and the Nestle-Aland Novum Testamentum Graece.
Actually, though, while Joseph was not the biological father of Jesus, Joseph was the legal father.
Q: In Lk 3:23-33, how could Mary be descended from Judah, since Elizabeth was from the daughters of Aaron in Lk 1:5, and Mary and Elizabeth were cousins in Lk 1:36?
A: The Bible does not specify the tribe of their mothers.
Therefore, Mary and Elizabeth could be cousins based on the following possibilities:
Two mothers were sisters: If their mothers being were from an unspecified tribe.
Mary mother and Elizabeth's father siblings: If Mary's mother was a sister of Elizabeth's father, and thus Mary's mother would be from Aaron and Levi.
Mary's father and Elizabeth's mother siblings: Mary's father being a brother of Elizabeth's mother, and thus Elizabeth's mother would be from Judah.
A Muslim saw this as proving Mary was descended from Aaron. This is important to Muslims, because if Mary is not from Aaron, then the Qur'an is in error. Muslims generally believe that the Qur'an on earth is a word for word copy of the Qur'an written on tablets in Heaven (Sura 85:20-22).
See When Critics Ask p.381 for a similar answer.
Q: In Lk 4:19, why did Jesus only quote part of Isa 61:2, and not the last part of "And the day of vengeance of our God"?
A: Jesus represented Himself as reading out of the scroll of Isaiah and that is exactly what He did. Five points to consider in the answer.
1. The Hebrew Bible back then did not have the books broken into verses as ours did.
2. Jesus quoted Isaiah correctly, but Jesus did not quote the entire verse.
3. Today we often quote verses incompletely. Our convention is to use three dots, but they did not have that convention back then.
4. Jesus said that what he read was fulfilled in their hearing. If Jesus had quoted the last part, then this would no longer be true.
5. This part of Isaiah is like many other prophecies of Isaiah; they have a dual fulfillment. Another example of dual fulfillment is Isaiah 7:14-17.
See When Critics Ask p.387 for more info.
Q: In Lk 4:25 and Jms 5:17, in Elijah's time was there no rain for 3 1/2 years, or just 3 years as 1 Ki 18:1 allegedly implies?
A: 1 Kings 18:1 does not specify whether it is the third year from the drought, the third year of the famine, or the third year that Elijah stayed with the widow in Zarephath. In addition, the phrase "in the third year" could mean after the third anniversary.
See When Critics Ask p.530 for more info.
Q: In Lk 4:34-35,41, why did Jesus rebuke the demon who spoke the truth?
A: The demon was not trying to glorify Jesus, but might have been trying to make Jesus look bad. Jesus was not interested in using the demon's witness, negotiating with the demon, or even conversing with the demon; neither should we have any interest in doing so.
Another situation where a demon who told the truth was rebuked is in Acts 16:16-18.
Q: In Lk 5:1-11, what is different about fishing and fishing for men?
A: An analogy, metaphor, or parable is in the Bible to teach a point, but cannot apply to the nth degree to teach points it was not intended to teach. In metaphor, they are to fish for people like they fished for fish. However, Fishermen catch live fish to make them dead, but the disciples were called to catch dead people to make them alive. Of course, in fishing for fish you might want the biggest fish. In fishing for men, there is no preference for rich, poor, female, male, blind lame, young, old, etc.
How often do you fish?
Q: In Lk 5:3 (KJV), how did Jesus "pray" to Simon?
A: The answer is found in Luke 5.4. This King James version expression means that Jesus "asked" Simon.
Q: In Lk 5:8, why did Jesus choose as an apostle Peter, a sinful man?
A: All people are sinful. When Peter was with Jesus, Peter realized how sinful he himself was. Isaiah had similar feelings in Isaiah 6:5.
Q: In Lk 5:16, why did Jesus withdraw into the wilderness to pray?
A: Even Jesus needed time alone to take with His Father. How much more do we need to talk with God. Spending time with our Father before making a major decision is wise to do, as Jesus did prior to choosing His twelve disciples.
Q: Why was Jesus tempted by the devil in the synoptic gospels but not John?
A: All Bible scholars I am aware of agree that John was written after the other three gospels. He preserved many discourses that are not in the other gospels, or only in them in brief form. John was likely aware of the other gospels, and often did not repeat some of the things already found in the other gospels.
Q: In Lk 5:20-21, why did the Pharisees consider forgiving sins to be blasphemy?
A: Sometimes flawlessly correct logic, and correct premises, combined with one incorrect premise, can lead to a false conclusion.
Just as a person wronged is the only one who can forgive the wrong done to her, they correctly saw that forgiving sins was only something God could do. For a mere man to presumptuously claim to forgive sins would be blasphemy, and trying to take God's rightful place. Perhaps they did not even consider that Jesus might be something more than a mere man.
Q: In Lk 5:27 (KJV), what is receipt of custom?
A: This King James Version expression means they were collecting taxes.
Q: In Lk 5:36-38, what do the metaphors of the garments and wineskins mean?
A: A new piece of cloth would not "fit" being sown as a patch on an old garment. This is because after it got wet the new cloth would shrink and the old cloth would not. Likewise the Pharisees would not even be able to understand Jesus being the Messiah unless and until they accepted that the Messiah's coming would be a new thing. It might seem obvious to us that the coming of the Messiah would be a very new thing, but it was not for those who had no room in their thinking for the Messiah. As Jesus said in John 8:37, the Pharisees had no room in their hearts for His word.
The metaphor of the wineskins is very similar, except that it goes even farther. The old cannot contain the new, and a person who will only remain with the old will either burst or not contain the new.
Q: In Lk 5:37-39, was "new wine" alcoholic?
A: The Hebrew word for wine is yayin. It is used of drunkards in Joel 1:5.
The Greek word for wine is oinos. Here is what O'Brien in Today's Handbook for Solving Bible Difficulties p.366-369 says: Noah did not drink too much grape juice (Genesis 9:21), Paul did not warn against overindulgence of grape juice (Ephesians 5:18), and grape juice is not a mocker (Proverbs 20:1). O'Brien also points out that fermentation of grape juice at regular temperature takes less than two days.
On the other hand, wine in Biblical times was 10-11 % alcohol, which is less than wine or harder drinks today. Furthermore, they diluted wine with water.
Q: In Lk 5:39, how does old wine tasting better relate to the previous parable of the wineskins?
A: This is not saying that "old" is always better than "new". Rather, many here preferred the "old" teaching of the Old Testament mixed with their tradition so much that they rejected the "new" teaching of Jesus. One should not have expected all the Jews to like Jesus' teaching. Just as some would like the taste of the older wine better, following Jesus' words would not suite their taste.
See Hard Sayings of the Bible p.457-458 for more info.
Q: In Lk 6:2, what did the Pharisees think was wrong with picking heads of grain?
A: They viewed it as reaping, and reaping was work, which was forbidden on the Sabbath. Now harvesting quantities of grain is work, but it was ludicrous to consider collecting a few grains as work.
Q: In Lk 6:4, what did Jesus having the disciples eat the grain show?
A: When the Pharisees created human traditions and masqueraded them as God's law, Jesus did not hesitate to break them to demonstrate that it was not God's law. On the other hand, human law that did not masquerade as God's Law, such as paying taxes to Caesar, Jesus kept.
Q: In Lk 6:9, what kind of good and evil was Jesus talking about?
A: The word "evil" is used similar to the English word for bad; it can mean morally wrong things, or it can mean harmful things. Jesus was using the metaphor of harmful things to make a point about both helpful and morally good things. You would not allow your animal to die of neglect on the Sabbath. Likewise, it is OK to miraculously heal a person any day of the week you want.
Q: In Lk 6:11 (KJV), how were the Pharisees filled with madness?
A: This colorful King James expression does not mean they were insane. Rather, they were very mad and filled with anger.
Q: In Lk 6:18 (KJV), what does "vexed" mean?
A: This word means troubled.
Q: In Lk 6:19, why did Jesus heal them all?
A: Two points to consider in the answer.
1. The primary point was not to provide medical care for the Israelites. Rather, the point was for these healings to be a sign to show the world that Jesus was the Messiah.
2. There is never an instance where Jesus went to a group of people and healed them all, whether they wanted to or not. In this case, all were healed who came to Jesus; Jesus turned none of them away. Likewise for salvation, all are saved who come to Jesus; He turns none away. However, all are not saved because all do not to choose to come to God with the knowledge that they possess.
Q: In Lk 6:20, does Jesus calling the poor blessed encourage the poor Proletariat to be content, since they should rise up against society's rich people as Communism teaches?
A: It is true that Jesus teaches us to be content and joyful in Christ. It is also true that Communism has done much to teach people to be discontent, unhappy, and to dish our misery to others. Communism, as practiced in some countries, has simply replaced society's upper class with a new elite class, the members of the Communist party.
This is similar to the situation hundreds of years ago on the Russian Steppe, when a tribe of Cossacks would always shout "liberty" when charging into battle, including unprovoked offensive raids to capture and enslave others.
Q: In Lk 6:21,25, why was Jesus apparently against laughing here?
A: Jesus was not against laughing in general, as He told a number of humorous parables. Rather, Jesus was against people who were flippant, or happy with the way things were when they were not right with God, and they had no concern for others. To put it in terms of today's attempts at psychology, Jesus saw people who thought "I'm OK you're OK" when they were in fact not OK, and others were not OK and needed help.
Q: In Lk 6:22,26, what is wrong with all people speaking well of you?
A: It is not always when a person speaks well of you, as Jesus spoke well of Nathanael in John 1:48, and a good name is a blessing in Ecclesiastes 7:1. However, beware when all men speak well of you. This is a strong sign that you are compromising your Christian witness.
See When Critics Ask p.389 for a different but complementary answer.
Q: In Lk 6:27, why should we love our enemies?
A: There are four reasons, from four perspectives.
Our obedience: God simply told us so.
Our happiness: We cannot be happy if we are full of hatred of other people. Even more serious, 1 John 3:10,15; 4:10 asks how can we really love God, whom we have not seen, if we do not love our brothers, whom we have seen.
God's love: We should love each other because God loves the world in John 3:16. God loves even the ungodly, according to Romans 5:6.
Their need for our love: Others need our love, our prayers, and the message of the Gospel.
Q: In Lk 6:29, when should we turn the other cheek, and when should we not?
A: We should not repay evil for evil, and we should not take revenge (Romans 12:17-19).
1. Do not let others look down on us (1 Timothy 4:11).
2. We should defend the poor and oppressed (Jeremiah 7:6;22:16) and the poor (Isaiah 1:17;58:610; Jeremiah 5:28;22:16; Galatians 2:10; Ps41:1; Proverbs 14:21;24:11-2;29:7;31 :9,20; Ephesians 4:28; 1 Timothy 6:18-9; James 1:27).
3. We should not let others speak ill of what we consider is good (Romans 14:16).
4. Specifically, we should have an answer for our faith (1 Peter 3:15).
Q: In Lk 6:30, when should we let people take what belongs to us?
A: There are some general principles to observe.
1. Other peoples' souls are worth more than all our possessions.
2. People or government wrongly confiscating property is evil, but our suffering is a testimony to the world and glorifies God.
3. We should not always give people everything. For example, 2 Thessalonians 3:10, we should not give food to someone who refuses to work. We should not give hospitality to people who teach false, soul-perishing doctrines (2 John 10-11).
Q: In Lk 6:35, how and why should we love our enemies while expecting nothing in return?
A: A book could be written on answering this question. We can see at least five reasons for God giving us this command to obey.
Love for others: We should take very seriously God's command to us to love others, as 1 John 3:10,18; 4:19-21 show.
Testimony to the world: Loving our enemies is not a natural response for people. Obeying God in this area is a testimony to the world that there is a love in us that is not natural, but supernatural.
Some are future believers: Even some who are now enemies of the Gospel, as Saul of Tarsus was, will someday become Christians and go to Heaven.
Glorify God: Obeying God and loving our enemies is a way to glorify God, and we are created for God's glory, as Isaiah 43:7 shows.
For our own benefit: Keeping hatred in our hearts hurts us as much as anyone else.
Q: In Lk 6:38 (KJV), what does "mete withal" mean?
A: This King James Version expression means "that you use". In other words, the measure that you use will be measured to you.
Q: In Lk 6:40, does this mean one must be perfectly taught before one is a disciple, as the Boston Church of Christ says?
A: No. When Cultists Ask p.148 says it well: "Perfect learning is not something one can attain during a three-year crash course, ... It is a goal of a lifetime of learning from Christ." Learning from Christ is a state and a goal, and perfect learning is not a prerequisite to being a disciple. A friend I know studied the Bible very diligently, reading every single page as a young Christian. As the years went by, he still studied it, but less frequently. I am not sure he ever read entirely through the Bible a second time.
Sometimes Christians in many groups falsely can think learning and discipling is just a short-term thing for young Christians. However, like a boat in a flowing river, when you are not going forward, you are going backward.
Q: In Lk 6:41,42 (KJV), what is a "mote"?
A: A mote is a speck of dirt or other material that can be in someone's eye.
Q: In Lk 6:43, since a good tree does not bring forth corrupt fruit and vice versa, are worldly but upright people going to Heaven?
A: All perfectly moral and upright people are going to Heaven, but this is irrelevant, since no human being, except for Jesus Christ, has met God's standard for being morally upright.
Likewise, a child who hates his parents and refuses to honor them is not an obedient child, regardless of what else he or she refrains from doing.
Q: In Lk 6:46-49, what does the parable of the two houses mean?
A: One can look at the parable from two perspectives.
The builders: One builder made a house, which should last a long time, on top of a foundation that would not last. Thus both together would not last any longer than the foundation. Life is often like that. When you build something that ought to be permanent on top of something that shifts like sand, do not be surprised that permanent-appearing structures can topple so quickly.
The houses: Both houses initially might have looked to be equally solid. A house that is built to last is constructed differently from a house that is not built to endure. God has built us to last forever, and we should be building in our lives accordingly.
Primary point: Combining both perspectives, Jesus' main point is that building on obedience to Jesus is permanent, and anything else is like building on sand.
Q: Does Lk 7:47 imply that a person's procures forgiveness for themselves?
A: No, this verse shows relationship, not necessarily cause. The woman who had been forgiven much loved much, which was the result of here being forgiven much. Nothing implies that her loving much caused her monetary debt to be forgiven. See Bible Difficulties & Seeming Contradictions p.22 for more info.
Q: In Lk 7:11-17, how did Jews mourn in ancient times?
A: In Jewish culture back then, they would mourn for 30 days. They would sometimes hire professional mourners, who would make sure the dead person was mourned for properly. Mourning was an important thing, and a very public thing. When Jesus raised the widow's son, of course the mourners would not have their job anymore. It is interesting that Luke 7:11,17 says Jesus did this miracle in Nain, and his fame spread both throughout the surrounding country and even to Judea.
Q: In Lk 7:30, how could the Pharisees, or anyone else for that matter, fulfill God's purpose, since we are sinful and imperfect?
A: This does not imply they were to be sinlessly perfect. Rather, were they in general pleasing God. For example, David served God's purpose in his own generation in Acts 13:36.
Q: In Lk 7:30, Since God's grace is irresistible, how could the Pharisees reject God's purpose for themselves?
A: Luke 17:31-33 can help explain this. Lot's wife was saved from the destruction of Sodom by the intervention of the angels. However, she chose to remain and look back when she was told to keep on going, and so she perished anyway. Likewise, this is a solemn warning that God can deliver people from peril and he can work in their lives. Yet, they can still perish because of their own choosing.
A phrase of some Calvinists is "no lost causes". This phrase effectively communicates many key elements of their view. Since the Bible teaches that God is all-powerful, all-knowing, sovereign over all, and every single plan of God's succeeds, it is easy to logically conclude that there are no "lost causes" with God.
Just like "once-saved-always saved" is truth, but not a balanced truth, "no lost causes" is truth but not a balanced truth either. Here are a number of examples in the Bible that might cause problems for a someone with an unbalanced view of no lost causes.
1. Angels helped save Lot's wife from dead. Yet She died right afterwards anyway.
2. Likewise all the Israelites in the Exodus were spared from the wrath of Pharaoh, as well as the wrath of God through the Passover. Yet it is an example for us that they died anyway, under God's wrath in the desert, as Paul says in 1 Corinthians 10:1-10.
3. The Pharisees rejected God's purpose for themselves in Luke 7:30.
4. In the parable of the sower, there was a lost cause of what was sown in a person's heart in Matthew 11:19.
5. In Jesus' parable of the banquet in Luke 14:23, God sincerely invites guests who refuse to come.
6. For believers, Paul warns us not to receive God's grace "in vain" in 2 Corinthians 6:1. Paul did not give a warning for us to cavalierly brush aside by saying, "that can never happen to me". Paul was serious about his warning, and he intended for us to take it seriously.
7. God's spirit was so genuinely in King Saul's life that Saul became as though he were a different person, in 1 Samuel 10:5-7,9-11. This is about as dramatic a born-again experience as you can get in the Old Testament. Yet the Spirit of the Lord departed from Saul in 1 Samuel 16:14.
8. In the time of Noah, the Exodus, and numerous other times it says that God "repented" of doing something. This does not mean God was sorry He did something, but rather that God was grieved. One might say none of these really were "lost causes" because God turned the situations around and they too worked as a part of God's plan (Ephesians 1:11; Romans 8:28; Proverbs 16:4). Yet, saying God "turned the situations around" is inconsistent with the view of a placid God who always has every creature fully obeying God's desired (though secret) will.
9. Terrible sins occurred in the name of religion that "did not enter God's mind" in Jeremiah 5:29; 8:19; 12:8. This does not mean God was not all-knowing. Rather, God did not want them to think for a second that this was a desire of God or a part of his will.
10. Sometimes things occur that God expressly did not desire, such as the death of the wicked in Ezekiel 18:23,32, and really detestable things in Ezekiel 8:6.
11. God holds out His hands for people to come, and some do not come (Romans 10:21; Isaiah 65:2; Matthew 23:37). God invites people to His feast, and some of the invited ones refuse (Matthew 23:3-8).
12. Some things break God's heart (Jeremiah 4:19-22; 9:1; Luke 19:41-44; Matthew 23:37-39). Regardless of whether you agree these are "lost causes", they are certainly "heartbreaking causes". I have read of at least one extremist who taught that God took pleasure in creating certain people just so that He could send them to Hell and torment them forever. However, both non-Calvinists and many Calvinists agree that this is not what the Bible teaches. Specifically, 2 Peter 3:9 and Ezekiel 18:23,32 say that is wrong.
The balanced truth: "no lost causes" is part of a Biblical truth. All should be able to agree that God has no surprises, and no one who God the all-knowing knew would go to Heaven, will fail to get there. However, "no lost causes" becomes an error when it is interpreted as "no heartbreaking causes", it makes God take pleasure in evil and sin, or teaches us that prayer has no importance except as a soothing comfort for changing the heart of the person praying."
Conclusion: Evil has causes. Since all agree that God is neither the author nor direct cause of evil, there are causes that are not directly from God. Those causes are ultimately lost causes. God has no lost causes in the sense that everything is worked together as a part of His plan. Yet, God has lost causes in the heartbreaking way of an all-sufficient, almighty God holding out His hands to people who do not come, and God choosing to let them remain in their chosen lostness.
Q: In Lk 7:42 (KJV), why does it say "frankly" forgave?
A: This phrase means he freely forgave the man.
Q: In Lk 7:47, was Simon forgiven little because there was less to forgive, or was there much that was still unforgiven?
A: Simon probably thought the first, but Jesus knew otherwise. Two points to consider in the answer.
From Simon's perspective, Simon probably thought he was a pretty good guy, and only had a little that needed forgiving.
From God's perspective, there is a great deal to forgive in each of us.
Jesus was saying that Simon did not act grateful not because there was not much to forgive, but that Simon did not see much to forgive.
Q: In Lk 7:47, were the woman's sins forgiven because she loved much, or are we saved through faith as Eph 2:8 says?
A: Two points to consider in the answer.
1. According to F.F. Bruce in Hard Sayings of the Bible p.461-463, the Greek word in Luke 7:47, hoti, can mean "because of" or "the result of". He says the NIV translates this the best [for she loved much], by leaving it where it could go either way. (This is also used in the NET Bible, while 'for she loved' is used in the NASB, NIV, NKJV, RSV, uNASB, and Williams translation) The NRSV says, "hence she has shown great love". Wuest's Expanded Translation says "because she loved much."
2. Regardless, while it is God and not us who saves us, our love as well as our faith are involved in us receiving this salvation.
Q: In Lk 7:47-50, how did the woman's faith save her?
A: Jesus was not saying that a faith going contrary to God's will can somehow overrule God. Rather, her faith was involved in her being saved. In fact, faith is a reason (though not the ultimate reason) a person is saved, as Hebrews 4:2 shows.
The Catholic Church teaches that faith and works have a similar role in salvation, in that both somehow make us more deserving of salvation. Many Lutherans and Calvinists (such as Lorraine Boettner) also teach that faith and works not only do not give us merit, they have the same role in salvation, in that neither have any role in us getting saved, but both are a result of being saved.
The fact is, faith is not a work, and faith has a different role than works, or Paul never would have written Ephesians 2:8-9. If we were saved through works, then the merit of some of our work would be involved in salvation. While more faith is a result of salvation, that does not contradict Paul teaching the role of faith being what we are saved through. Since Paul says we are saved through faith, not works, he is not only making the point that faith is not a work, but there is no "merit" in realizing by faith who Christ is and throwing ourselves on God's mercy.
Luke 7:50 and Hebrews 4:2 are among the verses showing that faith has a role, though it does not give us merit. God has graciously allowed our faith to have a role in coming to Christ. In addition Paul made a sharp distinction between works which do not save, and faith, through which we are saved.
For Calvinists and Lutherans, as well as for all Christians in general, a recommended book is one by a Calvinist: R.C. Sproul. His book, Faith Alone, does an excellent job Biblically delineating works versus being saved by grace through faith. It would seem inconsistent for a Calvinist to accept R.C. Sproul's book if he or she thought faith was just another work.
Q: In Lk 8:2, were the women with evil spirits just suffering from a psychological disorder?
A: If you believe the Bible, you could not believe demons were just a psychological problem for the following reasons:
Demons are external: they can enter a person, leave, and leave to enter into pigs for example.
Demons have personality: They can think and act independently of a human's will.
Q: In Lk 8:3-4 and Jn 2:1-11, did Jesus marry one or more of the women who accompanied the disciples as polygamous Mormons and some other cults believe?
A: No. First, here are the women we know of who accompanied Jesus and the disciples. According to Luke 8:3-4, the women who traveled with Jesus were Mary Magdalene, Joanna wife of Cuza, Susanna, and others. Other passages mention Salome (Mark 15:40), Mary mother of James (Mark 15:40, Luke 24:10), and Martha, Mary Magdalene's sister.
John 2:2 says that Jesus was invited as a guest to the wedding. A groom is never invited to his own wedding.
There is no basis to say that Jesus ever got married, or had any kids, or any kids were born without a sinful nature. While no verse actually says Jesus was never married, no verse ever says Jesus did not fly to Mars either. An argument from silence no more proves one than another.
Here are all the other pre-resurrection passages about the women:
Joanna and Salome are mentioned no where else.
Martha (with Mary) were only mentioned in three pre-Resurrection passages, a dinner (Luke 10:38-41), healing of their brother Lazarus (John 11:1-45), and a second dinner with Lazarus (John 12:1-8).
Since there is no other mention, one could have almost no stronger argument that Jesus married Mary than he married her sister Martha. However, Jesus obeyed the Mosaic Law, and marriage of one man to two sisters, while both were living, was forbidden in Leviticus 18:18. Mormons who teach this probably are not aware they are teaching that Jesus allegedly broke the Old Testament marriage laws here.
See When Cultists Ask p.163 for more info.
Q: In Lk 8:16-17, what is the point of not hiding a lighted candle under a vessel?
A: The purpose of a lighted candle is to shine; putting it under a basket would be ridiculous. Likewise, the purpose of a Christian is to glorify God, and hiding his or her witness and glorifying God is equally strange.
Q: In Lk 8:18, why should people take heed of what they hear?
A: God is under no responsibility to give anybody unlimited opportunities to hear the Gospel. Do not take an opportunity to find the truth for granted, either for yourself or for someone else.
In addition, God judges people based on what they had the opportunity to know, as Romans 4:15 and 5:12 show. 2 Peter 2:20-22 says that it would have been better for some people not to have known the way of truth, then to know and turn their backs on it.
Q: In Lk 8:19-21, was Jesus honoring His mother here?
A: Jesus honored his parents, but He did go against what He knew His mother's wishes where here. We should obey our parents, but when their wishes go against what we know God desires, we need to obey God first. It is difficult for a young child to know what God wants, especially if his parents say otherwise. However, Jesus was an adult here.
Q: In Lk 8:19-21, why wasn't Jesus' father Joseph here?
A: Scripture does not say. However, church tradition says that Joseph died before Jesus became a man.
Q: In Lk 8:23 and Mt 5:23-26, how could Jesus be asleep in a boat during a violent storm?
A: Either Jesus was naturally asleep, because He was very tired, or He was supernaturally put in a deep sleep to test the disciples. There are three types of natural sleep: deep sleep, REM (rapid eye movement) sleep when people dream, and light sleep. People go through multiple cycles of these three kinds of sleep every night. Jesus might have been in deep sleep.
Under very different circumstances, Jonah was also asleep in a boat during a violent storm.
Q: In Lk 8:25 and Mt 8:26, Why did Jesus ask where their faith was?
A: In Luke 8:22 Jesus told the disciples they were going to the other side. Jesus was surprised at their fear. They doubted that
a) God the Father would keep Jesus safe from the weather, and/or
b) Jesus Himself wanted to keep them safe, and/or
c) Jesus was able to keep them safe.
Sometimes our doubts today come from the same reasons.
Q: In Lk 8:38, why did Jesus turn down the man's request to come with Him?
A: It was probably because Jesus wanted the man to remain among those who knew him, as a testimony to them.
Q: Should Lk 8:41 be translated "and then" or "just then" (NRSV)?
A: While the Greek word kai by itself can mean either "and" or "just" the Greek words kai idou "in Luke 8:41 should not be rendered "just then". ... In fact kai idou in Luke very often either does not or cannot mean "just then" (e.g. Luke 5:18; 7:37; 9:30, 39 et al.)" See The Expositor's Bible Commentary vol.8 p.229 for a more detailed discussion on this.
"and behold" NKJV, Wuest's Expanded Translation
"and, behold" KJV, Green's Literal Translation
"And there" RSV
"Just then" NRSV, Williams
"Then" NET Bible
Q: In Lk 9:7, what is a Tetrarch?
A: The Greek word tetra means "four", and the ruler of Galilee was called a Tetrarch, because he ruled over one of the four regions.
Q: In Lk 9:7,9, is this the same Herod who reigned when Jesus was born?
A: No. The Herod who killed the baby boys of Bethlehem was called Herod the Great. This Herod, called Herod Antipas, was the younger son of Herod the Great and one of his ten wives, Malthace.
Q: In Lk 9:12 (KJV), what are victuals?
A: This King James Version word means food.
Q: In Lk 9:14, why did the people need to sit in groups of fifty?
A: Scripture does not say, but it could make for easier counting and distribution of the baskets.
Q: In Lk 9:20 what is the difference between "Christ" and "Messiah"?
A: "Christ" is Greek is equivalent to "Messiah" in Hebrew. This is the anointed One who was promised in the Old Testament. See 1001 Bible Questions Answered p.28-29 for a more extensive answer.
Q: In Lk 9:21 and Mt 16:20, at this time, why were the disciples not to tell anyone Jesus was the Christ (Messiah)?
A: What good would it do to use that name, when they either did not know what the Messiah would do, or were fed false conceptions of the Messiah as a military conqueror. Soon enough, they would openly tell everyone Jesus was the Messiah, but first, people needed to see who Jesus was and the evidence of His claim.
Q: In Lk 9:20-21, did Jesus refuse to be known as the Son of God, since Jesus told the disciples not to tell anyone that He was the Christ of God in Lk 9:20-21, and in Lk 4:11 Jesus rebuked the demons for saying He was Christ, the Son of God?
A: This is a little difficult to answer because both scripture references are incorrect, so I have to assume which scriptures the questioner intended. Luke 9:20-21 does not say, "Son of God" but "Christ of God". The Qur'an even admits that Jesus was the Messiah (Christ), so even Muslims would have to agree that Jesus was the Christ of God. Luke 4:11 does not mention Son of God either.
The questioner might have been thinking of Matthew 8:29 where the demons asked, "What do you want with us, Son of God?" and then asked to be sent into the pigs. Jesus did not say not to tell anyone this, but He permitted them to go into the pigs. But the demons are merely acknowledging they knew who Jesus really was, perhaps hoping that things would go easier for them.
In Matthew 16:16-20 Jesus asked the disciples who He was, and Peter said, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." But even here, at that time Jesus "warned his disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Christ [Messiah]". There is no mention of the disciples being warned not to say that He was the Son of God.
Q: In Lk 9:27 and Mt 16:28, how did some not taste death before they saw the kingdom of God?
A: Tasting death means experiencing death. Some here would not die before they saw the kingdom of God coming with Jesus' resurrection and Pentecost, 50 days later.
Q: In Lk 9:36 and Mt 17:9, why did the disciples not tell anyone about the transfiguration at this time?
A: There are at least three reasons.
1. It might cause envy among the other disciples.
2. For Jews who did not believe in Jesus, this miracle witnessed only by three disciples would not be believed.
3. For believers, this event soon would be overshadowed by the resurrection.
Q: In Lk 9:37-39 and Mt 17:15-17, why do demons often hurt the people they possess?
A: See the discussion on Matthew 17:14-16 for the answer.
Q: In Lk 9:45, why was the understanding of Jesus' words about His betrayal kept from the disciples?
A: This probably was a colloquial expression meaning they did not understand. However, the root question still remains: why did they not understand this. While the reason could have been God, or Satan, supernaturally keeping them, the real explanation is probably much simpler. In general, people often do not understand that which they are unwilling to accept. The disciples had never heard this before, they were not desiring to hear it, and so it was probably the disciples themselves that kept themselves from understanding this the first time.
Jesus, knowing this, said it here and again later to give it time to sink in.
Q: In Lk 9:49, how could someone else be able to cast out devils?
A: One did not have to be one of the twelve disciples to cast out demons, some other followers could, too. God can give that power to whomever He wishes.
Q: In Lk 9:53, why did the Samaritans not receive Jesus like they did before?
A: Three points to consider in the answer.
1. While they most likely were different Samaritans, that still leaves the question of why these Samaritans did not receive Jesus.
2. These Samaritans might already might have heard of Jesus' claim to be the [Jewish] Messiah, and they rejected that.
3. Since Jesus was traveling to Jerusalem, for religious reasons, and the Samaritans believed their worship was better than the worship at Jerusalem, Jesus' journey did not fit within their paradigm of what they thought was good.
Q: In Lk 9:54-55, why did the disciples want the Samaritans killed?
A: While Scripture does not say, we can surmise from the behavior of others. Sometimes a person can be so focused on power, that they forget compassion for the people.
Perhaps the disciples were thinking of Elijah calling fire down on 102 men in 2 Kings 1:9-12. However, the situation was very different. Not only did Jesus come to show God's love and usher in a new dispensation, the Samaritans merely rejected Him, and were not trying to take him into custody as the 102 men were in trying to capture Elijah.
Q: In Lk 9:54-55, why did Jesus not want to see the Samaritans killed?
A: Jesus did not want to see people immediately judged for not following Him and rejecting Him, and we should be very thankful for that. In Luke 9:56 Jesus said that He came not to destroy people's lives, but to save them. This was not just Jesus' mission, but also His heart. We too should have the same heart.
Q: In Lk 9:57-62, why did Jesus turn down these three men from directly following Him?
A: While Scripture does not explicitly say, the circumstances seem very different here from the Gerasene demoniac. For the healed demoniac, there was not a hint of rebuke, and Jesus gave him another ministry, and an effective ministry it could be, staying around the people who know him when he was possessed by an evil spirit. With the three men, Jesus was critical of their lack of total commitment, and He did not mention any ministry for them.
Q: In Lk 9:59-60, was Jesus teaching people not to honor their parents, in contrast to what Ex 20:12 says?
A: No. We should honor our parents, but some things have priority over a family after our parents have passed on. It is more important to honor our parents while they are with us on earth, than to dishonor them on earth and then honor the empty shells of their bodies after they are gone.
Hard Sayings of the Bible p.463-464 says that a nineteenth century Scottish preacher, Job McNeill, found this verse very applicable to him. Once when he was scheduled to peach at a series of evangelistic meetings in England, he received word that his father died, and that the funeral would be the same day as one of the meetings. He said: "for this same Jesus stood by me, and seemed to say, 'Now look, I have you. You go and preach the gospel to those people. Whether would you rather bury the dead or raise the dead?'" And McNeill went to preach.
See Haley's Alleged Discrepancies of the Bible p.287 for more info.
Q: In Lk 9:61-62, why could the man not say goodbye to his family?
A: The man would not have even asked Jesus, if all he meant was a five-minute good-bye. Rather, the man was asking to first spend some days with his family, probably as Rebecca's family wanted in Genesis 24:54-59.
This has a rough parallel to a job interview today. If your first question, and many of the subsequent questions have to do with vacations and sick days, then the interviewer might wonder how excited you are about doing the work.
When Elijah called Elisha, Elisha briefly said goodbye to his parents in 1 Kings 19:19-21, and that was fine.
In Jewish burial customs a person was usually buried the same day that they died. So it might have been that the father was still alive but about to die, and the man wanted to spend the father's remaining days with him. This is the view of Bible Difficulties & Seeming Contradictions p.114-115.
See Hard Sayings of the Bible p.464-465 for more info.
Q: In Lk 10:2, why did Jesus say the laborers were few and to pray for more?
A: Of course there were only seventy laborers at this time, but that was not the point here.
Even later, the laborers would be few. More people become Christians than actively work for God. This is not God's desired will, because Jesus says here to pray for more laborers.
Q: In Lk 10:3, how were the seventy disciples as lambs among wolves?
A: Lambs do not seek to destroy or kill one another. Wolves not only seek to kill and destroy, and they love to eat lambs. Also, there are some people that even get a perverse pleasure from turning righteous people away from righteousness.
Q: In Lk 10:12, how will it be more tolerable for Sodom and Gomorrah than for some towns in Palestine?
A: Luke 10:12 and 2 Peter 2:21, show that there are differing degrees of punishment. While Sodom and Gomorrah rejected the angels directly, they did not hear as clear a presentation of the Gospel as the people in the Galilean towns who heard Jesus.
Q: In Lk 10:13, since Sodom and Gomorrah would have repented if Jesus had come to them, and God desires none to perish in Ezek 18:23,32 and 2 Pet 3:9, why did God not send someone to them?
A: God did send both men and angels. Lot was there, and 2 Peter 2:7 says Lot was distressed by the filthy lives of lawless men. God also sent the angels, which the men of Sodom tried to abuse.
Q: In Lk 10:13,14, since Tyre and Sidon would repent if they had seen the miracles, why did Jesus not do any miracle in that region?
A: It is not that all would repent, but that some in even Tyre and Sidon would repent when they saw Jesus, while many in Galilean towns would not repent. Jesus actually visited the region of Tyre and Sidon in Mark 3:8 and again in Mark 7:24-31. People traveled from Tyre and Sidon to hear Jesus in Luke 6:17.
Q: In Lk 10:15, can a whole town be sent to Hell?
A: The streets, buildings, and other objects are not sent to Hell. When everyone in an entire town rejects Jesus, then the people of the town en masse will be in Hell.
Q: In Lk 10:18, how did Satan fall from Heaven at that time?
A: As this aspect of Jesus' ministry was unfolding, He prophetically saw Satan, the accuser, fall from Heaven, for soon people would receive the word of forgiveness of their sins, and Satan would have no ground for accusation against them.
See Hard Sayings of the Bible p.465-466 for more info.
Q: In Lk 10:19, how could Jesus' disciples trample on serpents and scorpions?
A: Jesus was not saying to be reckless or to test God here. Rather, God would protect them from serpents and scorpions, as Paul was protected in Acts 28:3-5.
Q: In Lk 10:21, what is the significance of revealing these truths to babes and not the learned and wise people?
A: As 1 Corinthians 1:19-30 shows, God did not make the learned and wise more likely to go to Heaven because of their learning and wisdom. If learning made one more godly and righteous, then what about the Nazis in World War II? The Germans were among the most educated people on earth, and their airplane, dive-bomber, missile, tank, and coal technology were the best in the world. Yet, they performed a great evil in killing over six million Jews.
The Gospel is amazing in that it is so profound that the wise can study it all their life and never stop learning more. Yet, the simple can understand it easily, too.
Q: In Lk 10:22, how did the Father deliver all things to Jesus?
A: In at least four ways:
Creation: All things were created by the Father through Jesus (John 1:3; Colossians 1:16).
Sustenance: All things are held together through Jesus (Colossians 1:17).
Judgment: The Father has entrusted man's judgment to Jesus, that all may honor the Son as they honor the Father (John 5:22-23).
Salvation: There is no other name under Heaven by which we may be saved (Acts 4:21).
Q: In Lk 10:24, how did godly people who died before Christ long to see what the disciples saw?
A: The Messianic prophecies in the Old Testament show that the people were looking forward to seeing the Messiah.
Q: In Lk 10:25, how was the lawyer's question "tempting" Jesus?
A: This is better translated, "to put Jesus to the test". Like many lawyers today, this lawyer was asking a question to which he thought he already knew the answer. His purpose in asking was not really to learn the true answer, but to see what Jesus' would say, and to test if Jesus were right, at least in his eyes.
Q: In Lk 10:27, did the lawyer say this first, or did Jesus?
A: Since we do not have a record of everything Jesus said, and everything in the gospels is not necessarily in chronological order anyway, we cannot say for sure who was the first to say this. Even if the lawyer said it first, based on his proper understanding of the Bible, Jesus words still have Jesus' authority behind them.
Q: In Lk 10:29, who is our neighbor?
A: In Luke 10:36 Jesus deliberately chose not to answer that question. Instead, He gave a fairly lengthy parable, in order that when he put the question back to us, all who wanted to, could figure it out for themselves.
Q: In Lk 10:25-37, how are we to be a neighbor?
A: The parable of the good Samaritan is not to tell us who else should be a neighbor and help us, but rather who we should be a neighbor to and help; and the answer is: everybody. Here are the characteristics of us being a good neighbor.
1) A neighbor does not employ excuses. What excuses do you use?
2) A neighbor is willingly inconvenienced. Helping the robbed man cost the good Samaritan, time, traveling through this dangerous section of road in daylight. Helping others costs us time, energy, sleep, and money. When were you last inconvenienced for someone else?
3) A neighbor cultivates his own character. Our compassion should be trained by the Word of God, not our culture. The culture at that time was not to help Samaritans. Do you love God and pray? For who were you last a neighbor? Do you have a compassion apprentice, someone you are training up to express compassion?
4) Do you have to be asked? Actually the injured man was not able to ask for help.
This is taken from a Nov. 7, 2010 sermon by Jeff Miller at Trinity Bible Church.
Q: Does Lk 10:36 in Greek say, "was a neighbor" (NIV) or "became a neighbor" (NET Bible)?
A: First what different translations say, and then an answer.
"was a neighbor" (KJV, NKJV, NIV, NRSV)
"seems to you a neighbor" (Berry's Interlinear)
"seems you to have become a neighbor" (Jay P. Green's Interlinear
"become a neighbor" (.Net Bible)
"proved to be a neighbor" (Wuest's Expanded translation)
The Expositors Bible Commentary ch.8 p.944, while not giving a direct translation says, "the Samaritan man made himself a neighbor"
The answer is that it is both, and this highlights a difficulty in translation.
It is "was" because the Pharisee asked "who is my neighbor"
It is also "became" because the Samaritans did not live in the same towns as Jews, the Samaritans did not consider themselves neighbors or friends of the Jews, and the Jews did not consider themselves neighbors or friends of the Samaritans.
An interesting side note in The Expositors Bible Commentary ch.8 p.944 says that the animosity between Jews and Samaritans was such that the Pharisee could not even bring himself to use the word "Samaritan" in his reply to Jesus.
Q: In Lk 11:1-4, why does this prayer differ from the modern form?
A: It is shortest in Luke, longer in Matthew, and the same as today in some later manuscripts of Matthew. Assuming the modern form came later, Matthew and Luke both wrote what they remembered from the Lord's prayer. A lesson we can learn from this is that the Lord's prayer is not a "magic incantation" we all must memorize and pray exactly. Rather, the variation in words demonstrates to us that it is the constant intent and meaning that is important, and that is what God preserved, not any formula.
Q: In Lk 11:5-8, why do we need to persist with God?
A: Jesus only said we need to be able to be persistent; here He did not say why. However, we can see some reasons for persistence.
Daniel needed to be persistent because Daniel 9:23 shows that, unknown to him, there was demonic opposition to the angel that answered his prayer.
Waiting is often important because of God's timing.
Sometimes persistent prayer is needed because what we are attacking is a stronghold of Satan.
Q: In Lk 11:5-8, what is the difference between persistence in prayer and vain repetition?
A: In both cases, somebody might say the exact same words multiple something multiple times, or a request is repeated in different ways.
If it has meaning every time and it is an expression of what is genuinely desired, it is persistence.
If the words are said without meaning behind them, they do not mean anything more to God than the person who vainly repeats them.
In a Christian liturgies, everyone says the same thing every time the liturgy is used. Whether this is persistence or vain repetition depends not on the words, but on the hearts of the people saying the liturgy. At a historical note, we have copies of liturgies from about the time of Clement of Alexandria (193-217/220 A.D.).
Q: In Lk 11:10 (NIV), should it be translated as "door" or "it"?
A: The Greek does not explicitly say "door", but rather "it". On the other hand, the Greek also says "knock" and "open" so the implicit meaning is a door or gate.
Q: In Lk 11:11-13, what was Jesus' point about earthly fathers vs. our Heavenly Father?
A: Though earthly fathers are not totally good like God the Father, even earthly fathers generally give their own children good things for which they ask. They certainly do not go out of their way to give their children bad things when they ask for good things. So be bold in asking our Heavenly Father for good things.
Q: In Lk 11:13, how does the Father give the Holy Spirit to all who ask Him, since Simon Magus asked but did not receive the Holy Spirit in Acts 8:18-23?
A: While Simon was not asking the Father but the apostles, that is not the main point here.
Rather, Simon Magus never asked for himself to be filled with the Holy Spirit. Rather, Simon offered a bribe to receive the power to give this to others and use it. Sometimes today, people want to use God rather than to be used by God.
Q: In Lk 11:13, since the Father gives the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him, does that mean Christians do not have the Holy Spirit until they asks God for the Holy Spirit?
A: As 1001 Bible Questions Answers p.47-48 points out, this was said prior to Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit was poured out on all Christians. Since Pentecost, the Holy Spirit coming into a new believer is a part of accepting Christ into your life. However, there is the unusual case in Acts 8:14-17 where the gospel was preached to the Samaritans imperfectly, they were baptized in the name of Jesus, but did not hear anything about the Holy Spirit. Peter and John came to them, and laid their hands upon them, and then they received the Holy Spirit. However, the normative situation is to receive the Holy Spirit when you believe. Once a Christian receives the Holy Spirit, they can be filled with the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 5:18-21), or not, depending on how they are abiding in Christ.
Q: In Lk 11:26, why can a wicked spirit return with 7 additional spirits and not 6 or 8?
A: Two parts to consider in the answer.
1. Jesus was not saying it was always 7 and never another number. He was just giving an example.
2. Seven was considered a generic number of completeness, and Jesus might have been saying that "a complete set" of demons would come back.
Q: In Lk 11:31, how will the Queen of the south rise up against that generation?
A: The Queen of the South was the Queen of Sheba, who visited King Solomon in 1 Kings 10:1-10. The Jews certainly had no excuse for being far from Galilee, because of the Queen of Sheba's example, who came from much farther away to hear Solomon, and Jesus' teaching was greater than that of Solomon.
Q: In Lk 11:32, how will the men of Nineveh condemn that generation?
A: The Jews could not say either that they were too wicked or that Jesus' teaching was too foreign. The example of the people of Nineveh will show them that the wicked foreigners of Nineveh repented at the preaching of Jonah, and Jesus' teaching is greater than that of Jonah.
Q: In Lk 11:34, what did Jesus mean that if the eye is dark, the whole body is full of darkness?
A: Jesus used a physical situation as an analogy of a spiritual truth. If your eyes are dark (unable to see), then all of you does not see any light. Likewise, if your only spiritual input is darkness, it is no surprise that what is inside of you is darkness.
Q: In Lk 11:38-41, why did Jesus not set a good hygienic example and wash his hands before eating?
A: Jesus was making a point here that was more important than personal hygiene. When men start inventing rules and saying you have to follow their rules to follow God, Jesus took issue with that.
Do not say that God said something if God did not actually say it, as Proverbs 30:5-6 and 1 Corinthians 4:6 say.
Q: In Lk 11:42-54, why did Jesus rebuke the Pharisees so harshly?
A: Jesus expressed his deepest disappointment at these people. On one hand, they had a great knowledge of Scripture, and communicated that to others. On the other hand, they had no love for God, and Jesus was disappointed that they had rejected God's purpose for themselves (Luke 7:30).
Q: In Lk 11:49, why would God send a prophet to a people, since God knew that the people would kill the prophet?
A: God is extremely patient at giving people opportunities to turn to Him. Even when people kill a godly prophet, sometimes the same people later repent and turn to God, as for example, the Auca Indians did in Ecuador after they killed Jim Elliot and other Christian missionaries.
Q: In Lk 11:51 and Mt 23:35, who was Zechariah?
A: This was either Zechariah the priest, whom Joash killed in 2 Chronicles 24:20-21, Zechariah the prophet, or both were the same person. See the discussion on Matthew 23:35 for the answer.
Q: In Lk 12:1, why did Jesus compare the teaching of the Pharisees to yeast?
A: Yeast is not seen, yet its growth and its effects profoundly alter the dough. The Pharisees' teaching was similar.
Q: In Lk 12:14, how come Jesus never divided the inheritance between the man and his brother?
A: Four points to consider in the answer.
1. Only the man asked, not the brother. It does not work too well to arbitrate a dispute between two sides, if one side never asked for, wanted, or agreed to accept the arbitration.
2. It was not Jesus' main purpose to come to earth to settle petty civil matters.
3. There were already courts of law where the man could go.
4. Money is no blessing when a person is more concerned about money than God, as Jesus mentioned in Luke 12:21.
It is amazingly sad to reflect that this man, living at that time, was fortunate enough to see Jesus, God in the flesh. Yet, instead of asking Jesus to teach him, or give him eternal life, he only wanted Jesus to settle a petty matter. Asking God about small things is fine. However, today, do we come before God in prayer frequently for the little things, and ignore the big things?
Q: In Lk 12:15-21, what exactly did the rich man do wrong?
A: The rich man had a serious problem, but it was not what he did wrong. Rather, it was what he did not do right. Considering the future, thinking about God, and generosity toward the poor, apparently were very far from his consciousness.
Q: In Lk 12:32, does the "little flock" refer to an anointed class of 144,000 people, as the Jehovah's Witnesses teach?
A: No. The Jehovah's Witnesses teach this, in among other places, in The Greatest Man Who Ever Lived, 1991 section 78. There is no mention, here or in Revelation, that Heaven is restricted to 144,000 people. In fact, Jesus is not teaching about any future little flock, rather He is currently addressing the little flock that is currently standing right in front of Him. The little flock here is Jesus' disciples, including Judas.
See When Cultists Ask p.148-149 for more info.
Q: In Lk 12:42-48, what does the parable of the slaves awaiting the master's return mean?
A: There are three distinct applications of this parable.
In Jesus' time, the people might not all have been awaiting the Messiah, but they should have been.
Since Christ's ascension to Heaven, we are told to be watchful for His return.
In all times, people ought to be seeking God and His salvation.
Q: In Lk 12:49-52, what baptism is this?
A: This refers to the reality of which our baptism is a symbol. This refers to Christ's death and resurrection. See Hard Sayings of the Bible p.471-472 for a more extensive answer.
Q: In Lk 12:49,51 why did Jesus, the Prince of Peace, come not to bring peace but division? (The Muslim Ahmad Deedat brought this up.) A: With Jesus we have peace in three ways, but not a fourth.
1) Jesus came to bring us peace and reconciliation with God.
2) We are also to have peace with your fellow brothers and sisters in Christ.
3) As far as is possible, we are to have peace with all men.
X 4) However, people will oppose us because we carry the truth of the gospel. We are forewarned by both Jesus and Paul and that people will hate us, have division from us, and persecute us because of the gospel.
Q: In Lk 12:50, how was Jesus constrained until this baptism was done?
A: This baptism referred to Jesus' dying on the cross, and the consequences of that, including His resurrection and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. Only then would the Holy Spirit dwell in all believers and do the work Jesus sent Him to do.
See Hard Sayings of the Bible p.472-475, the Believer's Bible Commentary p.1421, and The Bible Knowledge Commentary : New Testament p.239 for more info.
Q: In Lk 12:51, how did Jesus, the Prince of Peace, come to not bring peace on earth but division?
A: Following Jesus brought division, not necessarily war and violence. Even when nonbelievers use violence to persecute Christians, it is the non-believer, not the Christian who is using violence. In John 15:18-21, Jesus told us to not be surprised at this persecution.
Q: In Lk 12:52-53, how could Christians honor their parents and not exasperate their children, since the gospel will bring division in a household?
A: Christians are to honor their parents and obey them, unless their parents command them to do something that is against what God has said. In an analogous manner, people are to obey the ordinances of the town or city they live in, except for things that contradict the laws of the state or province. People are to obey the laws of their state or province except where it would be disobeying national laws.
Christians are to cherish their family and be peacemakers, while realizing that the gospel causes division. We should be careful not to divide from others, and all the more so because the gospel will sometimes cause others to divide from us.
Q: In Lk 12:56 (KJV) and (NKJV), what is the "face of the sky and of the earth"?
A: The NET Bible, NIV, NASB, uNASB, RSV, and NRSV translate this word as the "appearance" of the earth and sky. Williams translation says the "look" of the earth and the sky.
Q: In Lk 12:57-59, what is Jesus' point of not getting out until the last penny is paid?
A: When one neither asks for nor receives mercy, justice can be tough.
Q: In Lk 12:59 and Lk 21:2, on the lighter side, why would particle physicists be interested in these verses?
A: In Luke 12:59, the Greek literally says they would not get out until you have paid the last lepton. Luke 21:2 mentions two lepta. In modern physics, leptons are a class of subatomic particles, so one could say they would not get out until they have paid the last lepton.
Q: In Lk 13:1, why did some people tell Jesus of the Galileans whose blood Pilate mixed with their sacrifices?
A: This would be abhorrent to the Jews. They either wanted from Jesus his reaction, his explanation for why God allowed this to occur, or confirmation that this was not to be tolerated. Perhaps they were Zealots who wanted verbal support for rebelling against Rome.
Whatever they wanted, Jesus' reaction, answer, and what he confirmed was probably quite unexpected. Jesus passed over in silence the rebuke on what everyone already knew was evil, and instead Jesus focused on why this happened to them. There are three observation we can make of Jesus' answer.
1. It happened because they were sinners.
2. However, it is false to assume that their punishment, in the short-term, was equitable relative to other Galileans. One cannot conclude that they were worse sinners than others.
3. While Jesus never justified this action or said it was good, there was one good lesson that could be learned from Pilate's evil. Sooner or later, all will likewise perish, unless they repent.
Q: In Lk 13:6-9, what is the point of the parable of the fig tree?
A: There are two complementary meanings.
General application: While it was not the season for figs, one might think that a fig tree by the road, possibly sheltered from the worst of the winter, might have some figs already. Whenever Jesus comes we need to be ready.
It is time: Generally fig trees did not start to bear figs until their fourth year. It does not specify whether or not the owner waited three years from the time the fig tree was planted or three years fro the time it ought to first be bearing figs. Regardless though, the servant asked the master to wait until the fourth year. When God wants us to do something, we should be ready. If not, the opportunity might be passed.
Specific application: the fig tree represented the Jewish nation. Jesus was given a sign of whether or not the Jewish nation as a whole would accept Him, and the answer was they would not.
Q: In Lk 13:14, why did the synagogue ruler believer it was wrong to heal on the Sabbath?
A: The Pharisees had 39 categories of work. Because they interpreted any creative act or production effort as work, and healing someone would be considered both of those. Apparently both God's Law and their additional invented hedges had a higher priority for them than God Himself. If God provided healing on the Sabbath, who were they to say God could not heal? Be careful of yourself when you try to tell God that He has to obey your rules, or even that He has to obey the rules He gave us.
Q: In Lk 13:15-17, why did Jesus answer the synagogue rulers this way?
A: Jesus could have appealed to the Old Testament Law (of which this man had a different interpretation), or to Him being the Messiah (which this man probably did not accept). Instead, Jesus shamed the man's own inconsistency and lack of compassion.
Many times in speaking with others, it is important to start with the "common ground" of what you both accept. After that, if you point out the other side's inconsistencies, only then would they (possibly) see the need to consider a different point of view.
Q: In Lk 13:15-17, apart from the Bible how do we know synagogues were in Bible times and not a later development?
A: The Theodotus Inscription was found near the end of the nineteenth century commemorating a Hellenistic-Jew name Theodotus, son of Vettenos. Vettenos was a priest and head of the synagogue, the son and grandson of the head of the synagogue. This was very likely written before 70 A.D. See the Dictionary of New Testament Background p.534 for more info.
Q: In Lk 13:18-21, why is the kingdom of God like a mustard seed or yeast (leaven)?
A: Both grow in and of themselves. Perhaps Jesus used both similes because a mustard seed grows on the outside, and leaven grows on the inside, producing a result that one can see as fluffy bread on the outside.
This passage is also important in yeast symbolizing good because it balances other passages where yeast is a metaphor for bad teaching of the Pharisees. This use of yeast shows that you cannot take a simile with a particular meaning, and assign that word the identical meaning throughout the Bible, without regard for context.
Q: In Lk 13:23-27, why are only a few saved?
A: While Scripture does not answer this question directly, we can make a number of observations and inferences.
1. Those who die after reaching the age of accountability have chosen their destiny, explicitly or implicitly.
2. God "hesitates" in judging because he wants to give people an opportunity to repent (2 Peter 3:9).
3. God is not required to give opportunities to repent forever, or even to continue to give opportunities while a person is still alive. Those who commit blasphemy against the Holy Spirit are not always killed instantly.
4. Ultimately, God has no remorse about sending people to the destination of the path they have chosen.
Q: In Lk 13:31, why did these Pharisees tell Jesus that Herod planned to kill him?
A: It could be for a couple of reasons.
1. Perhaps they were sympathetic to Jesus.
2. Alternately, perhaps they wanted Jesus to leave, too. Perhaps these Pharisees were not so much concerned with having Jesus dead; they just wanted Jesus out of the way. See also the next question.
Q: Does Lk 13:31 prove Herod Antipas was planning to kill Jesus?
A: No, this verse neither proves nor disproves it. The Bible records the Pharisee's words, but it does not say whether or not they were telling the truth. Many times today people can hear of threats and have to react to them without knowing if they are true or not.
Q: In Lk 13:31-33, what did Jesus' answer to this threat mean?
A: There are three observations we can make from this verse.
1. Jesus identified Herod Antipas as a fox, which was not a complimentary term.
2. Jesus was not afraid of him, and did not mind them repeating His answer to Herod.
3. Jesus knew He was going to die on the cross, but He also knew that everything would happen within the Father's timing.
Q: In Lk 13:35, what is significant about saying "blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord"?
A: Jesus could have simply said "you must say, 'blessed is Jesus the Messiah', or something similar. However, since they did not accept that Jesus was the Messiah, Jesus was graciously putting this in terms they could accept. They would not get to Heaven unless and until they recognized the true Messiah, who was unnamed to them.
It is interesting to contrast how Jesus and Paul "bent over backwards" in their efforts to communicate the truth, with the fact that they were never bending with respect to the content of the Gospel.
Q: In Lk 14:2, what is dropsy?
A: This medical condition is an accumulation of fluid in the body. There are a variety of causes, such as the left ventricle of the heart not working properly, problems with thee liver or lymph nodes, lupus, or toxic substances such as Argemone oil. Argemone is a weed that often grows in mustard fields can be harvested with the mustard seeds.
Q: In Lk 14:3-6, why did Jesus question them?
A: They were trying to trap them by having someone there with dropsy. Jesus took the initiative and asked them to commit on whether it was lawful to do good on the Sabbath or not. If they said yes, then good things not prohibited in the Torah would be allowed. If they said no, that would show where their hearts really were: fixed on their rules instead of on doing good for God.
Q: In Lk 14:7-11, what was the point of Jesus' teaching on taking the lowest seat?
A: First of all seats do not matter, and human honor does not matter, either. Rather, we should be humble and be concerned about pleasing God. God honoring us is far more significant than any human honor could be.
This is a good passage to share with children when they argue over who should sit in the front seat of a car.
Q: In Lk 14:7-11, why did Jesus give to the Pharisees the teaching on taking the lowest seat just after trying to correct them about healing on the Sabbath?
A: We can speculate on a couple of reasons.
1. Uniting the Pharisees' teaching was the desire to be honored and gain honor. Did they really make up all these rules on the Sabbath because of their love for God? No, they wanted the religious honor. Jesus is implying one should not seek religious honor; rather let God do the honoring.
2. If the Pharisees could not prove Him wrong on healing with God's power on the Sabbath, then be humble and stop opposing Jesus.
Q: In Lk 14:12-15, what was Jesus' point about inviting the poor, maim, lame, and blind?
A: Their society did not consider these people ideally suited to come to a party. They were not ideally suited to work, and usually they were in no position to return a favor. Three lessons we can surmise:
1. One point is that God often chooses and uses those we would consider less than ideal.
2. These people often recognize they are not ideal and would be all the more likely to rely on God and give the glory to Him.
3. However, the truth of the matter is that all of us are not ideal. If God's standard of righteousness were compared to physical health, all of us are maimed and blind and without wealth or any hope, apart from God.
See Bible Difficulties & Seeming Contradictions p.117-118 for more info.
Q: In Lk 14:16-24, what was the point of Jesus' parable on the master's great banquet?
A: Since Jesus' listeners could relate well to banquets by men, Jesus told them a parable about God and His banquet. Just as the master of a banquet can invite people, and they either can reject or accept, God sincerely invites all to partake of His grace, and they can either accept or reject. It seems incredible that somebody would refuse an invitation to a fabulous earthly banquet, but it happens.
Likewise, it probably seems incredible to angels that anyone would refuse God's extremely generous offer to every single person, but it too happens.
Q: In Lk 14:23, since the master compels people to come in, does this prove people have no free agency to come to Christ?
A: It no more proves this than it proves those who were not invited had no responsibility to follow God.
Obviously nobody in this parable would think the master was sending an army, putting people in chains, and taking these people as slaves to his banquet. Rather, in this parable, "compelling" implies strong persuasion.
If someone were to try to use this passage to prove people had no free will, their attempt would backfire. The original guests, were invited, yet did not come. Thus, the original invitation was a "lost cause". Furthermore, if someone in the world had any desire to come, but they were not invited, would that be wrong to have that desire? There are non-Christians who would like to go to Heaven, - at least on their own terms, though not on God's terms.
Note that the Granville Sharp rule has exceptions: Luke 14:23 and Ephesians 2:20. See the Believer's Bible Commentary p.2064 for more info. Following the Granville Sharp rule on Titus 2:13 supports post-tribulationism.
Q: In Lk 14:24, how come none of the guests who were rejected got a second chance?
A: God often does give people multiple opportunities, but there is a limit. While the number of opportunities is not a point of this parable, God is under no obligation to give anyone multiple opportunities.
Q: In Lk 14:26, how are Jesus' disciples supposed to "hate" their father, mother, wife, children, and brothers?
A: The context of both this passage and their culture, based on the Mosaic Law would interpret this to mean "love less". For example, in Deuteronomy 21:15, when it speaks of a man who loves one of his wives more than the other, the word here is "hate". Similar phrasing is used in Genesis 29:31 where Jacob loved Rachel more than Leah. Matthew 10:37 shows that Jesus' point is that we are not to love our parents more than we love God.
See Hard Sayings of the Bible p.475-476, the Complete Book of Bible Answers p.56-57, and Bible Difficulties & Seeming Contradictions p.116,210 for more info.
Q: In Lk 14:26, how would Jesus' teaching about parents relate to the law?
A: Three points to consider in the answer.
1. Jesus' listeners were all familiar with the Mosaic Law concerning parents, and Jesus knew that.
2. Jesus' point was one of balance. Loving God is the first commandment, and loving others is the second, not the other way around.
3. If your love or loyalty to parents, children, or anyone else, is greater than your love and loyalty to God, your priorities need to change. It is possible for even good things to become idols.
Q: What does Lk 14:25-35 teach about Lordship?
A: A person should be told to count the cost before making a commitment to follow Christ. On one hand, Zacchaeus did not have time to clean up his house, or his life, before Jesus came to him and pronounced that Zacchaeus had salvation. On the other hand, Luke 14:25-35 corrects this misconception that Jesus would rather have a half-finished tower than none at all. People do not have the power to clean up their life on their own, so we come to Jesus before our lives our cleaned up; but we have to come to Jesus with the commitment to allow Him to clean up our life.
Q: In Lk 14:34-35, what did Jesus mean, that salt that has lost its taste is only good for the dunghill?
A: Salt in general is good for providing essentials for life, flavoring, and preserving food. Salt that has lost its taste, through dilution with dirt or other causes, is not good for much. The salt that is left, if put on a dunghill will cause it to decompose slower, which will mean less concentrated bad smell.
Q: In Lk 15, what do the three parables have in common?
A: All three parables have to do with lostness and the joy of being found. The parable of the 99 + 1 lost sheep shows God searches out the lost. The parable of the 9 + 1 lost coin shows that God rejoices over finding the lost. The parable of the prodigal son shows that God forgives and accepts back the lost and wayward. Of course, as we seek the heart of God, we want our love and attitude towards others to reflect God's love and attitude, too.
Throughout Luke 15 God wants us to have a heart for the lost like He does. In Luke 16 God wants us to have a mind for the lost.
Q: In Lk 15:2, when should believers eat or not eat with sinners today?
A: The Old Testament does not say they could not eat with unbelievers, but the Jews in Jesus' time followed their own tradition of not eating with unbelievers, as Acts 10:28 and Galatians 2:12-14 show. But Galatians 2:12-14 show that we are to eat with all people, and the only exceptions are the following.
1. 2 Thessalonians 3:10 shows that if a person refuses to work, they should not eat.
2. 2 Thessalonians 3:14 says that we should have nothing to do with those who presumably claim to be believers, but choose to disobey what Paul wrote.
3. 2 John 7-11 says that one who is a deceiver should not be welcomed into our houses.
4. 1 Corinthians 5:9-13 says that while we can associate with the immoral, greedy, robbers, or idolators, we should not eat with one of these if they claim to be a Christian.
Q: In Lk 15:20-24, why did the father take back the prodigal son, and should he have done so?
A: The father took back the prodigal son simply because he loved him. The son did the father wrong and showed hi disrespect, but the father freely forgave his son who returned.
The father was under no obligation to take the son back, so nothing says he "should" have done so. However, the father was in his rights to be generous, and he graciously took back his son.
Q: In Lk 15:25,29-30, did the elder brother have a valid point?
A: A person's answer depends on if money and treasure are thought more important than people. The older brother gained back a brother, which he apparently did not value as much as one more fatted calf. The brother's concern about fairness, down to one fatted calf, betrayed a lack of love.
It has been said that some people use things and love people, while others love things and use people. When a genuine Christian even begins to love things more than people, then their perspective is far from what God wants it to be. Things can include material possessions, knowledge, rituals, and even religion. The only thing that we are told to love more than people is God. See Hard Sayings of the Bible p.476-477 for more info.
Q: In Lk 16:1 (KJV), what is a steward?
A: This is a servant who is entrusted with a portion of the master's possessions. In Scotland, descendants of stewards to the king became the Stewart (also spelled Stuart) clan. Much later, some of the Stewarts themselves became kings of Scotland and even England.
Q: In Lk 16:6-8, why was the dishonest steward commended?
A: One needs to know some cultural background to see the answer. While the Israelites were commanded not to charge each other interest on loans (Leviticus 25:35, Exodus 22:25), the reality at this time was that they commonly did so. In addition, charging interest to foreigners was OK (Deuteronomy 23:20).
The steward gave back 50 out of 100 jugs of olive oil, and 20 out of 100 containers of wheat. The Wycliffe Bible Dictionary p.1761 says that the going interest rate on grain was 25% to 33 1/3 %. 25% of 80 containers of wheat would be 100 containers. I have heard a teaching that the interest on olive oil was 100%, but I have not been able to corroborate this, though the New Geneva Study Bible p.1636 also offers this as a theory.
Thus, in giving these "discounts", perhaps the steward was not cheating the master, but rather taking off interest which he should not have charged a fellow Israelite anyway.
Either the master knew of the discounts or he did not. The Believer's Bible Commentary p.1430-1431 indicates that the master knew, and commended the steward for his foresight. The Bible Knowledge Commentary : New Testament p.246 also indicates the rich man knew and still commended the steward for his shrewdness.
Q: In Lk 16:9 (KJV), what is mammon?
A: Mammon is used here as both a synonym for money and the worship of money. While there was no idol specifically with the name of Mammon, the word is almost the same in Latin, Greek, Syriac, Hebrew, and Aramaic.
Q: In Lk 16:9, how are believers supposed to make friends using money?
A: The dishonest steward appeared generous at that time, not for unselfish altruism, but cold pragmatism. When believers realize the temporary worth of earthly riches, they should be all the more willing to give up riches for the sake of the Gospel. As the famous Christian missionary and martyr, Jim Elliot, wrote in his journal "he is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose."
Hard Sayings of the Bible p.477-478 adds, "'You see,' said Jesus, 'worldly people, with no thoughts beyond this present life, will sometimes behave more sensibly and providently than other-worldly people, 'the children of light.' They will use material wealth to prepare for their earthly future; why cannot the children of light use it to prepare for their eternal future?..."
Q: In Lk 16:14, why would the Pharisees, who loved money, sneer at Jesus?
A: The Bible Knowledge Commentary : New Testament p.246 puts this well, saying that Jesus was a poor man, followed by other poor men, trying to teach them about money. In one-sixth of all gospel verses deal with money. In Luke, 18 out of 40 parables deal with money.
Q: In Lk 16:16 and Mt 11:12, how do some enter forcibly into the kingdom of Heaven?
A: Hard Sayings of the Bible p.479-480 says there is ambiguity in the Greek verb here. It can be active, such as "The kingdom of heaven is forcing itself on earth" or passive, such as "the Kingdom of heaven is suffering violence..." or "men are forcing themselves into the kingdom of heaven". The Bible Knowledge Commentary : New Testament p.247 has this view.
The Believer's Bible Commentary p.1432 points out that the context around Luke 16:16 is the Pharisee's greed and avaricious hypocrisy. Regardless of whether people were trying to enter into God's kingdom, or destroy the kingdom preached by John the Baptist. The Believer's Bible Commentary p.1244 points out that John the Baptist's preaching set off a vigorous reaction.
It is important to understand what kingdom is meant here. This does not necessarily mean that all of those forcing themselves will receive salvation, but rather they are forcing for themselves a place in God's visible expression of His kingdom on earth.
See Hard Sayings of the Bible p.479-480 for more info.
Q: In Lk 16:17, since it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than the least part of the law, why can Christians eat pork and camel meat and shellfish, and why do they not do animal sacrifices anymore?
A: Jesus superseded the Old Testament Law here.
Food: Jesus said it was not what went into a man that made him unclean, but what came out of a man, in Matthew 15:10,17-20 and Mark 7:14-15.
Mark 7:19 adds that by this Jesus declared all foods clean.
An angel of God commanded Peter to kill and eat formerly unclean animals in Acts 10:12-16.
Muslims should be able to relate to this point, as Mohammed likewise did not obey the Old Testament Law when he ate camel meat.
Sacrifices: The Israelites were to practice sacrifices; unfortunately for many it became a ritual where the meaning was lost. Sacrifice is as important, or even more important, to Christians than to the Israelites, and Hebrews 7:23-10:26 show. We too need a sacrifice, and our sacrifice was performed once and for all by our high priest, Jesus Christ, who sacrificed Himself on the cross.
Q: In Lk 16:19-31, what is the Jehovah Witness interpretation of Lazarus and the rich man?
A: This was told to me verbally by a Jehovah's Witness, and parts I have also seen in written form. Hold on to your hats, because this is rather strange.
The rich man is the Pharisee (or clergy / priest) class feeling shamed by the faithful servant class (who follow God). Dogs represent false teachers, breadcrumbs mean God's teaching. "Lifetime" in Luke 16:24 means they lived under the system of the law. Death does not mean physical death, but a change of position. Lazarus being carried away by angels, while the rich man who was buried means they changed states, which happened either after Jesus' spirit rose in a spiritual body, or else at Pentecost. (I am a little unclear on this.) Torment here does not include the meaning of physical discomfort and restriction like it does elsewhere. Rather, it means mental anguish at godly preachers saying bad things about them. Since [supposedly] people who are burned do not desire water, the fire is not literal fire. The great chasm is simply that the entire class cannot cross over, though individuals can.
As When Cultists Ask p.149 says, "Because this passage so obviously supports the idea of conscious existence after death - as well as conscious suffering for the wicked following death - the Jehovah's Witnesses go to great lengths to reinterpret it."
See also the next question.
Q: In Lk 16:19-31, what is a response to the Jehovah Witness interpretation?
A: Four points to consider in the answer.
1. The early Christians, who spoke Greek, uniformly believed in conscious torment after death for the ungodly. Besides early Christian writings, one can simply read Matthew 13:40-42,50, Revelation 20:10, and Revelation 14:9-11
2. The Jews also believed the same. This is proved by 1 Enoch 22:1-4, the Assumption of Moses 10:10, 2 Esdras 7:36, Judith 16:17, and the Psalms of Solomon 3:13. See the discussion on Luke 23:43 if you wish to read the actual quotes.
3. Jesus did nothing to rebuke or correct these allegedly false beliefs. As a matter, of fact, Jesus endorsed them by using them without correcting them. Furthermore, the terms Jesus used: "bosom of Abraham", and "Paradise" actually are terms used in the Jewish Talmud.
4. Either Jesus was deceiving them, by endorsing the allegedly belief of conscious existence after death, or else Jesus was using as true something that was commonly understood.
An illustration I gave to two Jehovah's Witnesses missionaries shows this point.
Suppose one day I picked up a copy of the Jehovah's Witness Awake magazine, and it told the story of two boys. One grew up and followed God, and good things happened to him after he died. The second boy grew up rejecting God, and after he died he was reincarnated as an insect. Then, I asked them if they thought I would ever read anything like that in Awake magazine, and they said certainly not, because reincarnation was not Biblical. I agreed, but then I asked, wouldn't they still try to use a false doctrine like reincarnation to prove a true point, that you should follow God? They strongly disagreed, saying that would be deceptive of them. I agreed, but said that if consciousness of the ungodly after death was a false doctrine, then weren't they saying that Jesus did exactly that?
Q: What does Lk 16:19-31 tell us about the poor?
A: This passage is a strong rebuke to many (but not all of) the rich. The rich man is called the "rich man" three times before he dies, but he and Lazarus are not called the rich man or the poor man after they did. The name "Lazarus" means "helped by God, yet he was so destitute his sores were licked by dogs. Dog saliva is more antiseptic than ours, so even the stray dogs helped Lazarus more than the rich man did. The poor, prisoners, and oppressed may be invisible to us, but they are not at all invisible to God. Likewise some of the people who are idolized in this world but be dishonorable in God's eyes. We should not admire those live lives that God would despise. Would that we could see people and things with God's eyes!
Q: What does Lk 16:19-31 tell us about the rich?
A: It specifically does not say riches are evil, because it specifies Abraham in paradise, and Abraham, by either ancient standards or modern, was an extremely wealthy man. However, many of the rich suffer what Darrell Bock calls "the coma of callousness" and cannot even see the poor outside the gate to their mansion. The poor man Lazarus was almost invisible to the rich man. If you are not careful, riches can harm your eyesight and hearing, making you blind to the poor and deaf to the cry of the oppressed. But regardless of your wealth, if you could sea and hear a little better than you do now, spiritually speaking, what is one step you could take to help the poor, the prisoners, and the oppressed, to let them know that they are not forgotten, and someone cares for them and wants to help them?
Q: If Lk 16:19-31 is a parable, why is it the only parable where someone's name is mentioned?
A: While people can split hairs over whether this completely follows a parable or not, Lazarus' name served an important purpose in the parable. Nobody in this parable is given a name except Lazarus; Lazarus might have seemed unimportant, but God knew his name. Lazarus means "helped by God" yet we see someone who did not get much, help, from God, the rich man, or anyone else in this life. We are not even that Lazarus received a decent burial, yet he was helped much better than that by going to Paradise where Abraham was. The rich man knows Lazarus' name in Luke 16:24, so he was as least dimly aware that Lazarus existed just outside the comfort of his mansion gate. But people who might seem invisible to the rich (and unfortunately perhaps even us) are known and important to God. Everyone is made in the image of God, and we should respect all people, regardless of whether they are honored in this present world or not.
Q: In Lk 16:26, what is the great divide between torment and Paradise?
A: This is the chasm God made between Heaven (paradise) and Hell (prison). This is the only place in the New Testament where this Greek word, chasma, is used, and we need to remember that many people whom we rub shoulders with every day will be on the other side of the great chasm after death. C.S. Lewis in his novel about Heaven and Hell, called The Great Divorce, speculates that people in Hell could travel to Heaven, but that few would ever choose to do so. However, Luke 16:26 contradicts this speculation of C.S. Lewis. Jude 7 and Matthew 25:46 also say their punishment is eternal.
As a side note, the word "paradise" is only used three times in the New Testament. If someone fro Hell could send a message, what would they say? First of all, the rich man wanted to lessen his torment. Second, the rich man wanted to send a message so that his brothers could stay out of where he was. Even this person in Hell wanted someone to share the gospel with others. Also note that the rich man could see Abraham and Lazarus, but it does not say that Lazarus could see the rich man.
See Hard Sayings of the Bible p.480-482 for more info.
Q: In Lk 16:31, what did Jesus mean that they still would not believe, even if someone rose from the dead?
A: This was both an observation of their present attitude and a prediction of their response to the resurrection of Jesus. Of course, a short time later, Jesus even proved this by raising the brother of Mary and Martha, Lazarus, in John 11:45-53 and 12:10-11.
Q: In Lk 16:31 was Abraham in heaven, as the skeptical Asimov's Guide to the Bible states on p.985?
A: No, the Bible does not say where Abraham was. While Abraham and Lazarus were in a comfortable place, many Christians would teach that they were not in heaven yet, but in a "holding place, where Jesus told the thief on His right that the thief would go that day, which Jesus called Paradise. Paradise is the part of the afterlife where those who followed God went until Jesus rose from the dead.
Q: In Lk 16:31, do miracles prove Jesus' mission?
A: Miracles were a witness supporting Jesus' mission according to Hebrews 2:4, but a miracle of itself does not "prove" something as there can be fake miracles. However, even with the evidence for the resurrection and other miracles, all of the fulfilled prophecies, and the testimony of the early Christians we still do not have "absolute proof", as you can never have absolute proof of a historical event.
Nevertheless, even though Jesus provided overwhelming evidence, providing overwhelming evidence is one thing, but a listener accepting overwhelming evidence is something else. Even in modern times you can find a few people who believe the earth is flat, think a holocaust never happened, or that killing certain people and drinking their blood gives protection against AIDS. But the fact that a few people believe each of these three falsehoods, even in spite of overwhelming evidence to the contrary, does not mean the evidence against these crazy things not overwhelming.
See When Critics Ask p.392-393 for a complementary answer.
Q: In Lk 17:1-2, why is it so serious to cause someone else to stumble?
A: The consequences are serious of being Satan's tool to turn someone away from a life of joy with God eternally.
Q: In Lk 17:3-4, why is it so important for believers to forgive others?
A: Perhaps an analogy can help here. Why is it so important for our blood to carry oxygen and food to the cells in our body, and to carry carbon dioxide and waste away? Just as these physical things are a sign of life, so is love and forgiveness a sign of our spiritual life. Anything that blocks the blood's function is a serious problem.
As our bodies need food and oxygen, so we continually need God's grace and love. As our bodies need to be rid of carbon dioxide and waste, so we need God's forgiveness and cleansing. We can forgive others easily, because of how much God has forgiven us who are in Christ. If someone cannot forgive, either they have been ineffective in realizing how much God has forgiven them, or perhaps they were not saved.
Q: In Lk 17:5-6, what is Jesus teaching here about faith?
A: Faith is not a substance you are given, and what you have is all you ever have. Rather, living faith is like a seed, it has life and grows. Even if you have just a small amount of living faith, it can still grow to be a great faith, as long as the weeds and bugs are kept away, and it is watered and cared for. If you are a genuine Christian, how are you nurturing your faith?
Q: In Lk 17:6, what do we know about mulberry trees?
A: While there are 12 species of mulberry trees, the kind grown in the Israel and the Mediterranean was generally the black mulberry tree. They were grown for their fruit, and they were not used for silkworms in the west until much after the time of Jesus.
Mulberry trees have shallow root systems, and high winds can topple a tree over and blow it away. Metaphorically speaking, one can imagine a strong wind (the Holy Spirit), moving a mulberry tree to the sea, an impossible-looking outcome that undoubtedly has happened.
Q: In Lk 17:7-10, what is Jesus teaching about servanthood in speaking of the servant coming in from the field and preparing the meal?
A: Three points to consider in the answer.
Pride in our obedience is foolish. Obedience is only our fitting duty. Our obedience should be an expression of our gratitude to God.
Boasting: We should not tell God how great and obedient we are. Jesus gave an example of this in the prayer of the Pharisee vs. the Publican (tax collector) in Luke 18:9-14.
Special treatment: We should not think we deserve special treatment because of our obedience. No amount of spirituality or past obedience exempts us from listening to God and obeying Him in the future.
Q: In Lk 17:9 (KJV), what does "trow" mean?
A: This King James Version word means to "think". The Wycliffe Bible Dictionary p.1750, adds that the word "I think/trow not" were not in the original Greek manuscripts.
Q: In Lk 17:19, why did Jesus often tell people "your faith has made you well"?
A: First, Jesus wanted to commend their faith, and we should do the same. Today, it is not sufficient for Christians just to tolerate and accept believers in other godly ministries. We should pray for them, praise God for them, and publicly commend them for their work for the Lord.
Q: In Lk 17:21, since the kingdom of God is within believers, does this mean that human kingdoms are unreal, as the Christian Science cult teaches?
A: No. One would have to believe an unreal definition of reality to say this. Of course, everything on earth, not just kingdoms, is not as real as Heaven. However earthly kingdoms that "really" tortured and martyred Christians, and earthly kingdoms and philosophy that "really" turns people toward evil, are not to be trivialized as mere fantasy.
See When Cultists Ask p.150 for a different but complementary answer.
Q: In Lk 17:21, since the kingdom of God is within believers, does this mean people are divine, as the Christian Science cult teaches?
A: No. We can be confident that Paul the apostle knew the answer to that. In Acts 14:11-18, Paul and Barnabas were not willing to let the Lycaonian crowd worship them. Having the kingdom of God within you shows you are a child of God, but it does not make you divine or God. See When Cultists Ask p.150-151 for more info.
Q: In Lk 17:31-33, what is Jesus saying about remembering Lot's wife?
A: There are at least two lessons to learn.
Suddenly Lot's wife was destroyed just when she felt secure after the angels rescued her. God saved her life, yet afterwards she perished due to her own disobedience.
In general, Christians might wonder how many years it will be before they can relax their guard against temptation and sin, including materialism, lust, pride, and discouragement. When will they be so spiritually mature they can forget about resisting these evils? The answer is that, this side of Heaven, you can never relax your guard. Over and over again, the Bible warns us of our need to continue to persevere. Some ways are:
Watching our life and doctrine closely. 2 Timothy 1:14; Colossians 1:23; Proverbs 22:5
Not to follow wisdom of this world. Colossians 2:8-9; James 3:15; 1 Corinthians 1:17-27; 2:6,8,14; 2 Corinthians 1:12
General perseverance. Hebrews 10:23,36; 12:1,12-13; 1 John 2:24; 1 Corinthians 13:7; Romans 5:3-4; James 1:3-4,12;5:11; 2 Peter 1:8-10
Believers have to persevere in suffering. Romans 8:17-18; 2 Corinthians 1:8-9; 4:8-12; 6; 2 Timothy 2:3;4:5
Q: In Lk 17:37, is this Greek word "eagles" or "vultures"?
A: Vultures and eagles are similar, and in the Greek it could be either bird. The point here is that Jesus is using a metaphor of a large scavenger bird.
Hard Sayings of the Bible p.482-483 says that some see this as saying, "where there is a situation ripe for judgment, there the judgment will fall." Others see the "eagles" here as also referring to the emblem of the Roman eagles that were on the standards carried by the divisions.
Q: In Lk 17:37, why did Jesus answer by saying" where there is a dead body the vultures will gather?
A: Of course, when things exist, such as dead bodies, certain consequences generally occur, such as scavenger birds arriving. However, that is not the main point here, as Jesus could have used a large number of other metaphors if He merely intended to say that things have consequences.
Jesus is speaking a parable about one consequence of wickedness before He comes. The wicked will be killed, and the scavenger birds will have plenty of food. This is spelled out more in Revelation 19:17-21.
Q: In Lk 18:1-8, since God is like the unjust judge in the parable, then is God unjust?
A: No, though God can appear unjust for a period of time - just ask Job. The purpose of this parable is to show that since victims are persistent even before an unjust judge, how much more should God's children be persistent with their Heavenly Father, who is just.
Q: In Lk 18:8, what did Jesus mean by asking if He would find faith on earth?
A: Jesus did not find much faith on earth, as John 1:10-12 shows. The Bible Knowledge Commentary : New Testament p.249-250 says that Jesus was not speaking out of ignorance, nor questioning about the rapture, but rather exhorting them to prayer and greater service. See Hard Sayings of the Bible p.483-484 for a complementary answer.
Q: In Lk 18:9, is it OK to trust in yourself for some things?
A: We are to take responsibility for our own actions, and we are to have confidence that with God's help we can do the things He intends for us to do.
However, we would not even continue to exist apart from God, our Creator and Sustainer. Furthermore, we cannot do a single good thing of eternal significance without God. So we have no basis to trust in our own goodness, power, or abilities apart from God.
Q: In Lk 18:9-14, are we obligated to tithe?
A: A tithe, or tenth, is a portion of your income given to the Lord's work. Leviticus 27:30-33 says it belonged to God, and it was for priests and Levites in the Old Testament in Numbers 18:21-32, Genesis 14:20; 28:22; 2 Chronicles 31:5; and Malachi 3:7-12.
In the New Testament, since the resurrection of Jesus, we are not under the Old Testament law (including tithing) but under grace. We can give more! But the "tithe" can still be thought of as setting the standard for generous giving. The New Testament mentions tithing in Luke 18:9-14; 1 Corinthians 16:1; and 2 Corinthians 8.
Q: In Lk 18:9-14, is it possible that the publican was Zacchaeus? Might this explain why the lord called him down in the next chapter, Lk 19:1-10?
A: Yes, it is a possibility. On the other hand, most commentators view Luke 18:9-14 as a parable, and for no any tax collector, or Pharisee, in particular.
Q: In Lk 18:12 when did Jews fast twice a week?
A: Jews who fasted usually fasted on Monday and Thursday.
Q: In Lk 18:14, can prayer justify a person?
A: No. It is God who chooses to justify or not. Prayer or other actions of ours do not "force" God Almighty to justify anyone. However, Jesus' point in this passage is that God chose to justify the repentant Publican rather than the proud Pharisee.
Q: In Lk 18:16, why were the disciples thinking to rebuke the children?
A: Jesus was a busy man whom they thought "obviously" did not have time to see everyone who wanted to see Him. The disciples were trying to "help God out" by eliminating what they viewed as the less valuable people. Note that Jesus never asked for this kind of help.
Today we should be careful whenever we think that God needs us to "help Him out", especially by doing things He never said for us to do.
In contrast to the disciples' view of children the godly evangelist D.L. Moody once told a friend that "two and a half people were saved today." The friend asked, did you mean two adults and one child? Moody, said no, two young children and one older adult. Basically, the children had a full lifetime ahead of them to serve God. It was great that the older adult could both go to Heaven and serve God now, but the older adult had less than half his life left to serve God on earth.
Q: In Lk 18:16, how is such as children is the kingdom of God?
A: One way is that children realize they are children. They are often more humble than adults, as they realize they do not have the knowledge, strength, or ability to do many things. That does not bother them though, if their parents are there to help them. Likewise, we should be as children in entering the kingdom of God.
Q: In Lk 18:18-23, why was Jesus emphasizing the law to the rich young ruler?
A: The rich young ruler did not see himself as lost, in need of forgiveness, or needing grace for salvation. Rather than just telling the ruler to believe in Him, Jesus first wanted to show the ruler that his works and heart were not sufficient to get to Heaven on his own. See When Cultists Ask p.151-152 for more info.
Q: In Lk 18:18-23 and Mt 19:21, must we give all we have to the poor, like Jesus asked the rich young ruler to do?
A: Scripture never says this, and Abraham actually was a very wealthy man. Paul retained private property, his cloak in 2 Timothy 4:13. Rather than saying the rich must do this or that, let's simply see what Paul said about the rich in 1 Timothy 6:17-19.
"Command those who are rich in this present age not to be haughty, nor to trust in uncertain riches but in the living God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy. Let them do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to give, willing to share, storing up for themselves a good foundation for the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life." (NKJV)
See When Critics Ask p.502 for more info.
Q: In Lk 18:31, since Christ said in effect, "We are going up to Jerusalem, and everything that is written by the prophets about the Son of Man will be fulfilled.", why were the prophecies of the Second Coming not fulfilled yet?
A: Every prophecy will be fulfilled. Despite the foreknown rejection of Christ by the Jews, these prophecies will still come true. However, if Christ's eternal reign on earth had started before He was rejected and Jesus had never been rejected, then the prophecies in Isaiah 53 would be false.
This illustrates an important point about God. God has a sense of timing for his work, and sometimes we have to wait on God's timing.
Q: In Lk 18:34, why did Jesus tell them things they did not understand?
A: Jesus told them clearly, but they did not understand clearly. The disciples would understand clearly later. See the discussion on Luke 9:45 for more info.
Q: In Lk 19:1-9, what about Zacchaeus' experience especially gives us hope?
A: The text starts out with this evil man seeking Jesus, but actually Jesus was seeking Zacchaeus all along. As Jeff Miller in his Mar 27, 2011 sermon said, Zacchaeus did not have to change to clean up his home first, neither did Jesus expect him to. Zacchaeus did not have a chance to clean up his life first, and neither did Jesus expect him to either.
People knew who Zacchaeus was, and it might have looked bad in the eyes of others that Jesus accepted Zacchaeus. But Jesus did not care. People might have scoffed at Zacchaeus for thinking Jesus would want him, but Zacchaeus did not care. In living before an audience of many, do we seek the applause of One?
Zacchaeus' was changed, and from the inside out. Jesus did not tell Zacchaeus to give back the money that he took from the poor and others. Zacchaeus' new heart told him that he must do that.
Q: In Lk 19:2 what is unusual about this verse?
A: In Luke 19:2, the Greek phrase "chief tax collector" is not used anywhere else in all Greek literature, including the Bible. Thus we are unsure whether this is a description of a "great" tax collector, sort of like a "great" sinner, or if this was a title for a tax collector who supervised other tax collectors.
Q: In Lk 19:8, why did Zacchaeus give half his possessions to the poor?
A: Scripture does not say but one factor was his new concern for the poor. Another reason might be that if he repaid all that he cheated others, he might not have more than one-half left.
Q: In Lk 19:13a, why did Jesus mention ten servants in the parable of the talents?
A: Jesus in Luke 19:15-26 only discussed the results of three servants; so many people mistakenly remember that there were only three servants in the parable. Jesus mentions that ten servants were given money, but he is silent on what the other seven did with theirs. It is almost as Jesus did not quite finish the parable, the other seven servants are Hs church, and we sill finish the parable by what we do with our minas.
This is reminiscent of the ending of the Book of Jonah, where it leaves the question unsettled as to whether Jonah repented of his awful attitude toward the lost or not.
Q: In Lk 19:14, why would anyone go to a far country to receive a kingdom that was close by?
A: The skeptical Asimov's Guide to the Bible p.949 is helpful here. Asimov says that while this may be puzzling to modern readers, this was normal at the time, because the far country was Rome. This happened with a number of kings of small kingdoms around Rome, including Herod Archelaus the Ethnarch of Judea in 4 B.C. Rome finally deposed Herod because of the constant petitions of his subjects.
Q: In Lk 19:14, why did Jesus mention the subjects sending a delegation saying "we do not want this man to be our king"?
A: The listeners of Jesus could very well relate to this description, as in real life a delegation very similar to this was sent thirty years ago when Archelaus was king. See The NIV Study Bible p.1577 and Josephus' Wars of the Jews 2.6.1 and Antiquities of the Jews 19.9.3 (written about 93-94 A.D.) for more info.
Q: In Lk 19:20 what dos the Greek word for "another" mean here?
A: In some ways Greek is more precise than other languages, and they have three different words for other/another. The word used here is allos, which means "another of a different kind" vs. another of the same kind.
Q: In Lk 19:39, why did the Pharisees tell Jesus to rebuke His disciples?
A: Hosanna means praise, and they saw that the disciples were praising Jesus, and only God should be praised. They were right on one point: only God should be praised like this.
Q: In Lk 19:40, what does it mean that the stones would cry out?
A: If the people would not worship Jesus, the stones themselves would glorify Him. Jews would be familiar with this imagery, because Habakkuk 2:11 said that even the stones would cry out. Habakkuk 2:11 shows it would not bee good for those who reject Christ though, because the stones would cry out in judgment.
Q: In Lk 19:44, why did Jesus prophecy that the Jewish infants would be dashed to pieces?
A: Jesus was not commanding this, or saying this with gladness, but rather only predicting this with great sorrow and weeping.
Q: In Lk 20:35, how are some "counted worthy"?
A: In general, a person is worthy (deserving) of something good for one of two reasons.
1. They themselves paid for it, earned it, or owned it.
2. Another paid for it, earned it on their behalf, or gave it to them.
Jesus intended the second meaning, not the first, as He does not say we are worthy, but that we are counted worthy.
In the eyes of man, angels, and demons, we truly are counted worthy to share in eternal life, because Jesus paid the price for our sins in giving us this precious gift. People who try to earn their way to Heaven, and genuine Christians can agree that believers are saved by merit. The point of disagreement is whether it is the merit of Jesus or the merit of themselves.
Q: In Lk 21:5-6, should churches and religious building be expensively adorned?
A: Jesus here was commenting how all this would be destroyed, as happened in 70 A.D. In general, some people are more interested in donating expensive things to God, than in giving their lives to God.
Two concepts in the Bible give evidence that nicely decorating a church is OK.
In the Old Testament, the Tabernacle and later the Temple were elaborately adorned in reverence to God.
The sinful woman who anointed Jesus with oil costing a year's wages, worshipped Jesus properly. Thus, it is still OK to spend some money on things that glorify God, apart from giving money to the poor (which also glorifies God).
Q: In Lk 22:3 and Jn 13:27, how and why did Satan enter in Judas here?
A: While this could refer to demon possession of Judas, it does not necessarily mean this. Demon possession often is when the person loses control or does not know what they are doing. There is no hint that Judas lost control or was not in full control of what he was doing. Thus "demonic cooperation" is not always "demon possession".
Q: In Lk 22:19, why are the bread and wine not Christ's physical body?
A: We can see that Jesus meant the bread and wine were His body symbolically for two reasons.
First, there is not a shred of evidence that people bowed down to the bread and wine, neither in the Bible nor in the early church. We are not to worship anything or anyone besides God. We worship Jesus, but if the bread and wine is not Jesus, we are not to worship bread and wine.
Second, if a person took this metaphor as the bread and wine was or became Jesus, then to be consistent we would have to take other metaphors of Jesus' body as Jesus too, such as in 1 Corinthians 12:27. We (the church) are Christ's body. Do you think people should worship your, or worship the congregation that you attend? If neither, then why would you not worship a Christian, made in the image of God more than bread and wine, which are not made in God's image.
Now of course we are not to worship of Christians. But would worshipping other people, and justifying it by Christ's metaphor, be worse than worshipping the bread and wine, and justifying it by Christ's metaphor?
See When Critics Ask p.393-384 for more info.
Q: In Lk 22:31, how does Satan sift someone like wheat?
A: Scripture does not say, but it implies that Satan breaks down their resistance and spiritual strength, the consistency of their life, and leaves them like putty in Satan's hands and ineffective to obey God.
Q: In Lk 22:38, why did Jesus want to make sure they had two swords?
A: There are at least five different interpretations, as to what Jesus was communicating to the disciples.
Request satisfied: Jesus wanted them to take two swords. He knew they would need a sword, since Jesus still had a miracle to perform, healing a slave's ear that was to be cut off.
Rebuke: "It is enough" meant that Jesus was speaking of swords symbolically, and the disciples were taking the words "with a sword" literally. Jesus said this was enough of that sort of talk. This is the interpretation of the New Geneva Study Bible p.1649 and the Believer's Bible Commentary p.1452.
Disinterest: Jesus was not rebuking or commending them. Jesus was simply saying two swords were fine, and to not concern themselves with this any more.
Fulfilled Prophecy: Jesus wanted them to have two swords, in order that the prophecy that they would be classified with criminals would be fulfilled. The Bible Knowledge Commentary : New Testament p.260 discusses three other views, but prefers this view.
Hard Sayings of the Bible p.486-488 adds that this shows how different they were from a band of Zealot revolutionaries. A warlike band would be much better equipped to fight.
Q: In Lk 22:45 (KJV), how were the disciples "sleeping for sorrow"?
A: The NIV says the disciples were "asleep, exhausted from sorrow."
The NET Bible says, "sleeping, exhausted from grief."
Williams Translation says "asleep from sorrow".
Q: In Lk 22:64 did they blindfold Jesus or not?
A: They blindfolded Jesus during part of the time they were playing games with Him. It does not say that Jesus was blindfolded the whole time. You certainly did not want to play games with Roman soldiers.
Q: In Lk 22:70; 23:3, what did Jesus mean when He said, "you say that I am"?
A: This was an expression of strong affirmation of what was said. The NIV rightly translates this as, "You are right I saying I am".
The Dead Sea scrolls shed additional light on this question asked of Jesus. One belief of the sect at Qumran was that the Messiah will do miracles, and healings, but personally will kill the Roman Emperor. It would take years to bury all the dead from the Messiah's military victories. Thus, as the Christian News (11/23/1998) says, "So now we know that when Caiaphas conducted the trial of Jesus, all he had to do was get Jesus to admit that he was the Messiah. As Jesus, who has performed the predicted miracles, made that admission, he was assumed to be guilty of treason against the emperor."
Q: In Lk 23:31, in the context of the fig tree, what did Jesus mean by saying, "For if men do these things when the tree is green, what will happen when it is dry?"
A: If people do these things when Jesus is present, even after seeing His miracles, how much more will they reject God when Jesus is not physically next to them, and they do not see the miracles.
Q: In Lk 23:33, was the place of Jesus' crucifixion called Calvary, or was it Golgotha as Mt 27:33 says?
A: Both, since the people were multilingual. Calvary comes from the Latin Roman term, and Golgotha was from the Aramaic. Asimov's Guide to the Bible p.893 says the same.
Q: In Lk 23:40-43, can people who reject God all their lives and accept Jesus" in their dying breath still go to Heaven?
A: Both yes and no.
Yes: If someone comes to a true faith in Christ as they are dying, then like the thief on the cross in Luke 23:40-43, she or he will go to Heaven. They might not have all the rewards Paul mentions in 1 Corinthians 3:11-15, but they will certainly be in Heaven.
No: If someone merely says the words, sort of like fire insurance, without really trusting their soul over to Christ, then as R.C. Sproul mentions in Now That's a Good Question p.113-115, they merely "profess faith" and do not "possess faith".
Q: In Lk 23:40-43, what is paradoxical about the thief on Jesus' right?
A: Even though some saw Jesus' raise the dead and they still did not believe. The robber saw Jesus being put to death and still believes. After Jesus raised Lazarus, the Sanhedrin's response was to plot how to kill Jesus. Even today, if you could do as many miracles as Jesus did, for some it would only harden their opposition to the gospel.
Q: In Lk 23:40-43, what does the thief on the cross teach us about water baptism?
A: There are two points to consider in the answer.
1. A Christian in the Church of Christ told me that since they teach one must be baptized with water to be saved, the account of the thief of the cross being with Jesus in paradise bothered him for a long time. But then he concluded, that since the thief would have no opportunity to be baptized, God is certainly understanding of peoples' situations.
His conclusion is absolutely correct. God is not restricted from saving somebody who is not baptized with water. While water baptism is something every obedient Christian does if and when they are able, God is not constrained by our circumstances.
2. I third view I was publicly told during a debate with a Church of Christ person is that the thief on the right must have been a previous follower of Jesus or John the Baptist, and he had been baptized prior to being on the cross.
3. A third Church of Christ view is that the thief on the cross died prior to Christ's resurrection, and baptism is essential only after the resurrection. Of course, then John 3:5, "unless a person is born of water and spirit he cannot enter the kingdom of God." was taught as true prior to the resurrection too.
This is a view that limits God's power. Imagine if a condemned criminal in prison in a non-Christian country came to true faith in Christ, and the guards would not let him be baptized with water before execution. Would the guards' actions "veto" God Almighty's ability to bring a person to Heaven who truly believe in Christ?
Furthermore, around 400 A.D., during the time of Ambrose, Augustine, and Prosper of Aquitaine, the opinion became common that baptized babies who die go to Heaven, and unbaptized babies who die go to Hell. "Coincidentally", infant baptism became very popular. Throughout most of history, until the time of the Anabaptists during the Reformation, Christians almost universally practiced infant baptism. Is every single Christian from 400 A.D. to about 1514 A.D. going to Hell, because of God's inability or unwillingness to save them?
Q: In Lk 23:43, how could Jesus tell the thief on His right that today the thief would be in Paradise, when Jesus did not rise until on the third day?
A: Jesus went to paradise, and preached to the spirits in prison immediately after his death and before His resurrection. It is interesting that Jesus did NOT tell the thief today you will be with me in Heaven, but today you will be with me in Paradise.
Q: In Lk 23:43, does this verse say "Truly I tell you today," as Jehovah's Witnesses say, or "Truly I tell you, today"?
A: No. There is no evidence the Greek-speaking Christians understood that "today" was when Jesus was speaking, not when the words would be fulfilled. When Cultists Ask p.152 says that out of 74 occurrences of "truly I say to you", this would be the only place where "today" would be put with this phrase. When a modern group of people comes up with a novel interpretation of the ancient Greek grammar, there should be some evidence that at least some early Christians understood it that way.
Q: In Lk 23:43, what exactly is paradise?
A: Since the thief on Jesus' right would be with Jesus that day in Paradise, Paradise is the place where Jesus went on that day. Prior to Jesus' birth, Jews understood that the grave, Sheol, was divided into two compartments, "prison" for the unrighteous and "paradise" for the righteous. Since Jesus used this term without any qualification, basically He had no correction for this doctrine.
The Jewish reference to two parts of Sheol is 1 Enoch 22:1-4. After judgment, the unrighteous would have pain and plague forever. Other Jewish references to eternal punishment for the wicked are:
Assumption of Moses 10:10
2 Esdras 7:36, when the Sons of the Maccabees were being burned to death, they said, "we will burn only for a little while, but you will burn for all eternity."
Judith 16:17 "fire and worms he will give to their flesh; they shall weep in pain for ever."
Psalms of Solomon 3:134 Macc. in the LXX use it for the Hebrew words such as 'asam, for a reparation of guilt. In the Septuagint it is used in 1 Samuel 6:3, f. 8, 17 as a guilt offering. It is translated for shame, disgrace in Ezekiel 16:52, 42; 32:24,30, and a cause of sin and misfortune in Ezekiel 3:20 and 7:19. Ezekiel 16:52,52 and 32:24,40 show God's punishments. Wisdom 3:1 says the righteous are untouched by any basanos.
2 Maccabees 7:13 and often in 4 Maccabees the noun and verb are used of the tortures of Jewish martyrs. It is used of the torture of Christian martyrs in 1 Clement 6:1,15, 2 Clement 17:7, Eusebius's Ecclesiastical History 5, 1, 20 & 24 and Martyrdom of Polycarp 2,3.
See Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties p.367-368 and Hard Sayings of the Bible p.488-489 for more info.
Q: In Lk 23:44, when was the sixth hour?
A: The Jewish day started around 6:00 in the morning, so the sixth hour would be about noon. The NIV Study Bible p.1587, the NET Bible, The New Geneva Study Bible p.1652, and The Bible Knowledge Commentary : New Testament p.262 all say the same.
Q: In Lk 24:13 (KJV), what is threescore furlongs?
A: It is sixty furlongs, which the NIV, NKJV, the NET Bible, the Believer's Bible Commentary p.1457, and The Bible Knowledge Commentary : New Testament p.263, and Williams Translation all say is about seven miles.
Q: In Lk 24:13-35 how does this apply to us today?
A: These believers did not recognize Jesus even though He was walking besides them. Today you might be on your own Emmaus road. You do not see Jesus yet, though He is walking right beside you. Sometimes what God wants you to do is in plain sight, except that you do not see it.
While it is possible that God supernaturally kept them from recognizing Jesus, it is likely that they did not recognize him for more mundane reasons. Besides possibly wearing different cloths, they saw that Jesus was dead, they were not looking for Jesus to be alive, and they did not see what they were not looking for. They knew what was told to them by the women and the others, and their hearts burned within them as they walked with the One they loved, but they had not the faith and were too slow to believe that God could raise Jesus. When we have the knowledge, and we have the love, things still might not come together with our walk with the Lord if we have not the faith.
Q: In Lk 24:16 (KJV), what does "holden" mean?
A: This King James Version expression means "kept from" or "prevented".
Q: In Lk 24:39, how did Jesus' flesh and blood differ before and after the resurrection?
A: Scripture does not say, but we can speculate on a few things. After the resurrection, Jesus was no longer subject to pain, death, or having any possibility of harm to His body. Undoubtedly He could do more with His body when it was glorified than when His body was an ordinary human body. Jesus in His body could go through doors and walls, but He could also be solid to eat and be touched. See When Cultists Ask p.154-157 and When Critics Ask p.395-399 for more extensive discussions.
Q: In Lk 24:39-43, what does this mean for Jehovah's Witnesses and members of Rev. Moon's Unification church?
A: They have real problems with this verse, because both groups teach that Jesus was "spiritually raised", meaning that His physical body was still in the grave. Either
1. Jesus was telling a lie and He did not have a physical body here.
2. Since the disciples were slow to believe, Jesus temporarily create a physical body, and passed it off as His (I heard this theory from a Jehovah's Witness.) In other words, Jesus misrepresented himself to His disciples. If someone accepts this, then they should not take it too seriously that they think Christians misrepresent Jesus as being physically raised from the dead, as Jesus misrepresented this, too.
3. Jesus was telling the truth. Jesus said this because He really did physically rise from the dead.
As for me, I believe Jesus was telling the truth. See When Cultists Ask p.152-154 for a different but complementary answer.
Q: In Lk 24:39-43, what does this mean for false religion of Christian Science?
A: Christian Scientists believe that Jesus did not physically rise from the dead. According to When Cultists Ask p.157-158 Mary Baker Eddy, founder of Christian Science says that Jesus "was simply accommodating himself to the immature ideas of his disciples (Eddy, 593)".
Eddy is saying that Jesus blatantly deceived the disciples. Since they taught that Jesus physically rose, then Jesus' alleged deception deceived the western world for almost 2,000 years. Furthermore, if Jesus was simply accommodating himself to immature ideas, how come when Thomas did not believe Jesus was physically resurrected, Jesus allegedly deceived Thomas to change his view from a "more enlightened one" to a "more immature" one?
Q: In Lk 24:41-43 and Acts 10:10-16, is it OK for a Christian to be a vegetarian?
A: Yes, it is fine. However, it is not Christian to say that eating meat is morally wrong. Jesus ate fish in Luke 24:41-43, and Peter was commanded to kill and eat in Acts 10:10-16.
Q: In Lk 24:44, how did the writings of Moses speak of Jesus?
A: Let's look at the main principles, then the specific prophecies, and finally the imagery in the Torah, of first five books of the Bible.
Key principles: One cannot read the Torah without being struck by the frequency and importance of sacrifices. God had them practice this concept for 1,400 years, until it became such a regular part of their culture, that when John called Jesus "the lamb of God", everyone would know to what John was referring.
Genesis 3:15 says that the seed (singular) of the woman will crush Satan's head.
Genesis 49:10 says that the staff will not depart from Judah until "Shiloh" comes. This refers to them not losing the right of execution until Christ comes. See the discussion on Genesis 49:10 for the support for this statement.
Deuteronomy 18:15-19 says that one from among the Jews will come after Moses, and they must obey Him.
Imagery: There are a number of passages that provide imagery and foreshadowing of Christ's coming, but they are not specific prophecies.
The bronze serpent (John 3:14; Numbers 21:8,9)
Q: In Lk 24:46, where did the Old Testament say that the Messiah must suffer and die and on the third day rise from the dead?
A: Some of the verses that say the Messiah would suffer and die are Daniel 9:26; Isaiah 53:1-12; and Zechariah 12:10 (mourning the one they pierced.) Prior to this, Jesus had taught that Jonah being in the belly of the fish was a foreshadowing of him in Matthew 12:40-41.
Q: In Lk 24:50-51, did Jesus ascend from Bethany, or from the Mount of Olives as Acts 1:9-11 says?
A: Both. Bethany was on the eastern slope of the Mount of Olives. When Critics Ask p.401 also suggests that the disciples might have stood on the top of the Mount with Jesus, and Jesus ascended eastward (away from Jerusalem) over Bethany. See also Bible Difficulties & Seeming Contradictions p.200 for more info.
Q: In Lk 24:53, should Jn 7:53-8:11 be added to the end of Luke?
A: No. The only manuscript that Aland et al. (3rd edition) says had this was 1333, which was written in the eleventh century. Moreover, it was added to this manuscript as a correction, apparently by a different hand.
Q: Why should the Gospel of Luke be in the Bible?
A: There are two reasons, and a third reason that makes the first two reasons look less important.
1. Luke is considered one of the most accurate of ancient historians.
2. Since Luke records an accurate account of Jesus' words, we would want to read the Messiah's sayings and doings.
3. Paul and the early church writers recognized it as God's word. As The Complete Book of Bible Answers p.27-28 points out, in 1 Timothy 5:18, Paul quoted from the books of Deuteronomy [Dt 25:4] and Luke [Lk 10:7], calling them both Scripture. 1 Timothy was written in 63 A.D., only three years after Luke, yet Luke is still called Scripture on the same level as Deuteronomy.
Q: In Lk, what evidence is there that Luke wrote the Gospel that bears his name?
A: The early church universally accepted Luke the companion of Paul as the writer of the Gospel of Luke.
Irenaeus in Against Heresies p.439 chapter 14 v.1,3 (written 182-188 A.D.) quotes Luke 1:2 mentioned that it was by Luke.
Tertullian (198-220 A.D.) in Against Marcion book 4 chapter 2 says that "the evangelical Testament has apostles for its authors". In the same chapter Tertullian recognizes that Luke was not an "apostle" but an "apostolic man" because he was with Paul. For the reliability of the Gospel of Luke in general, see the next three questions.
Cyprian, bishop of Carthage (c.246-258 A.D.) quotes from Luke as being from Luke in Treatise 12 the third book 116.
Q: When was the Gospel of Lk written?
A: We know for certain it was written after 33 A.D., before the Book of Acts, and probably before 70 A.D.
Views of Various Writers
The NIV Study Bible p.1533 says the two most common suggested periods are 59-63 A.D. and in the 70s or 80s.
The Bible Knowledge Commentary : New Testament p.199 says that since Acts was written while Paul was still alive, and Luke was before that, it might have been written before 64 A.D. It suggests a date of 58-60 A.D.
The New Geneva Study Bible p.1599 says that Luke and Acts may have been written about 63 A.D.
The Believer's Bible Commentary p.1367-1368 says the most likely date is very early in the 60's. "While some put Luke between 75-85 (or even the second century), this is usually due at least partly to a denial that Christ could accurately predict the destruction of Jerusalem.
The New International Dictionary of the Bible p.605 says that the abrupt termination of Acts suggests that Luke did not long survive Paul's imprisonment. Also, it is not likely to have been written after the destruction of Jerusalem. It says that 58-59 A.D. would give abundant time for Luke to do his research.
The Wycliffe Bible Dictionary p.1056-1057 simply says the second half of the first century.
The New International Bible Commentary p.1182 gives reasons for three views.
80-85 A.D. if one denies prophecy: It says that this most commonly held view is based on Luke 21:20 saying "when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies" could not be a prophetic prediction.
100 A.D., if Luke and Acts are based on Josephus: Josephus and Luke record some of the same events, so some think Luke copied from Josephus.
Before 70 A.D., because Acts ends with Paul alive.
The skeptical Asimov's Guide to the Bible p.912 says apparently some time after 70 A.D. Though some suggest dates as late as 100 A.D., 80 A.D. is more generally acceptable.
Q: How do we know that Luke today is a reliable preservation of what was originally written?
A: There are at least three good reasons.
1. God promised to preserve His word in Isaiah 55:10-11; Isaiah 59:21; Isaiah 40:6-8; 1 Peter 1:24-25; and Matthew 24:35.
2. Evidence of the early church. Here are a few of the writers who referred to verses in Acts.
1 Clement (97/98 A.D.) quotes Luke 6:36-38; 8:5 (paraphrase of the parable of the sower); 17:2. The quote of Luke 6:36-38 (ch.13 p.8) can also refer to Matthew 6:12-15; 7:2). The paraphrase of Luke 17:2 can also refer to Matthew 18:8; 26:24; Mark 9:42.
Epistle of Barnabas (100-150 A.D.) ch.5 p.139 quotes Luke 5:32 (also Matthew 9:13; Mark 2:17)
Epistle of Barnabas (100-150 A.D.) ch.19 p.148 quotes half of Luke 6:30 (also Matthew 5:42)
The Didache (120-150 A.D.) vol.7 ch.1 p.377 quotes Luke 6:30 "Give to every one that asks you, and ask it not back;"
2 Clement (c.150 A.D.) ch.13 p.254 quotes loosely Luke 6:32 as the Lord is speaking. "No thank have ye, if ye love them which love you, but ye have thank, if ye love your enemies and them which hate you." It also refers to Luke 16:12.
2 Clement (c.150 A.D.) ch.13 p.254 quotes part of Matthew 9:13 and Luke 6:32 as Scripture. "An another Scripture saith, 'I came not to call the righteous, but sinners." 2 Clement also refers to quotes Matthew 6:24 and Luke 16:13, in ch.16 p.252.
2 Clement (c.150 A.D.) ch.5 p.252 refers to a conversation of Peter and Jesus that is not in Scripture, and concluding it with a quote of Matthew 10:28 and Luke 12:4,5.
These are all the references 2 Clement has to Luke.
Polycarp (100-155 A.D.) quotes a third of Luke 6:37 "forgive, and it shall be forgiven unto you;" Polycarp's Letter to the Philippians ch.2 p.33.
Polycarp (100-155 A.D.) quotes what is Matthew 7:2 and Luke 6:38. "with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again;" Polycarp's Letter to the Philippians ch.3 p.33.
Polycarp (100-155 A.D.) quotes loosely what is both Matthew 5:3,10 and Luke 6:20. "Blessed are the poor, and those that are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of God." Polycarp's Letter to the Philippians ch.3 p.33.
These are all the references Polycarp's letter has to Luke.
Justin Martyr wrote c.138-165 A.D. He quotes or paraphrases Luke 1:32,35,38,78; 6:28-30,34-36; 9:22; 10:16,19; 12:48; 13:26; 18:18f; 20:34,35; 22:19,42,44; 23:46; 29:32
Luke is mentioned in the Muratorian Canon (c.170 A.D.) along with the other three gospels.
Shepherd of Hermas (c.160) book 2 ch.6 p.30 quotes half of Luke 13:2, which is also Matthew 10:28.
Athenagoras (177 A.D.) quotes Luke 6:27,28, which is also Matthew 5:44,45. A Plea for Christians ch.11 p.134
Athenagoras (177 A.D.) quotes Luke 6:32,34, which is also Matthew 5:46. A Plea for Christians ch.12 p.134
Melito of Sardis (170-180 A.D.) quotes pat of Luke 11:20: "and in the Gospels: 'If I by the finger of God cast out demons." From the Oration on the Lord's Passion vol.8 p.761
Christians of Vienna and Lugdunum (177 A.D.) allude to Luke 1:67 "and having himself the Advocate, the Spirit, more abundantly than Zacharias;" vol.8 p.779
Theophilus of Antioch (168-181/188 A.D.) quotes Luke 18:27 in Theophilus to Autolycus book 2 ch.13 p.99
Irenaeus (182-188 A.D.) quotes all or part of 130 verses from Luke.
Irenaeus (182-188 A.D.) quotes Luke 1:6 as by Luke. Irenaeus Against Heresies book 3 ch.10.1 p.423
Muratorian Canon (190-217 A.D.) 1. Third book of the gospels is Luke. (So the unnamed Matthew and Mark are counted as two.)
Clement of Alexandria (193-202 A.D.) quotes Luke 3:1,2,23 as the Gospel of Luke in Stromata book 1 ch.21 p.333
Clement of Alexandria (193-217/220 A.D.) quotes Luke 16:9 as by the Lord. Who is the Rich Man That Shall Be Saved? ch.13 p.594-595.
Tertullian (198-220 A.D.) stresses the authorship of Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Revelation, and many of Paul's Letters in Five Books Against Marcion book 4 ch.5 p.350.
Theodotus the probable Montanist (c.240 A.D.) quotes part of Luke 12:49 as by the "Savior" Excerpts from Theodotus ch.27 p.46
Theodotus the probable Montanist (c.240 A.D.) quotes Luke 1:43 as "the Gospel" Excerpts from Theodotus ch.50 p.49
Hippolytus (222-235/6 A.D.) quotes Luke 21:28; 21:18 as "the Lord says" Treatise on Christ and Antichrist p.218
Commodianus (c.240 A.D.) alludes to both Mark 12:42 and Luke 21:2. Instructions of Commodianus ch.72 p.217
Julius Africanus (232-245 A.D.) mentions "the Evangelist Matthew" and "Luke" in comparing the two genealogies of Jesus. Letter to Aristides ch.3 p.126
Origen (225-254 A.D.) mentions Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Origen Against Celsus book 5 ch.56 p.568. Also quoting Matthew 18:1 in Origen's Commentary on Matthew book 13 ch.14 p.482.
Novatian (250/4-256/7 A.D.) "For they propose and put forward what is told in the Gospel of Luke" and refers to Luke 1:35. Concerning the Trinity ch.24 p.635
Anonymous Treatise Against Novatian (254-256 A.D.) ch.15 p.662 quotes Luke 8:1-5 says by the Lord Himself in the Gospel.
Anonymous Treatise Against Novatian (254-256 A.D.) ch.6 p.659 quotes Luke 10:19 as said by the Lord in the Gospel. This work also refers to Luke 11:10 and 7:39.
Anonymous Treatise on Rebaptism (c.250-258 A.D.) ch.14 p.675 "in the Gospel according to Luke" and quotes Luke 12:50.
Cyprian of Carthage (c.246-258 A.D.) quotes Luke 11:41 and says, "The Lord teaches this also in the Gospel" in Treatises of Cyprian Treatise 8 ch.2 p.476
Cyprian of Carthage (c.246-258 A.D.) "In the Gospel according to Luke : 'And ye shall be hated of all men for my name's sake.'" (Luke 21:17) Treatises of Cyprian Treatise 3 ch.29 p.542
Firmilian of Caesarea to Cyprian (256 A.D.) quotes Luke 11:23 as by "Christ our Lord". (Letter 74 ch.14 p.394)
Gregory Thaumaturgus (240-265 A.D.) alludes to Luke 21:2, the poor widow's offering, as "laid down in the sacred writings" Oration and Panegyric Addressed to Origin Argument 3 p.23
Dionysius of Alexandria (246-265 A.D.) "It was 'in the end of the Sabbath,' as Matthew has said; it was 'early, when it was yet dark,' as John writes; it was 'very early in the morning,' as Luke puts it; and it was 'very early in the morning, at the rising of the sun,' as Mark tells us. Thus no one has shown us clearly the exact time when He rose." Letter 5 to the bishop Basilides p.94
Letter of Hymenaeus (268 A.D.)
Pierius of Alexandria (275 A.D.) wrote a book
entitled On the Gospel According to Luke" Fragment 1 p.157
Archelaus (262-278 A.D.) quotes Luke 4:34. Disputation with Manes ch.48 p.225.
Anatolius of Alexandria (270-280 A.D.) quotes Luke 15:6 as said by the Lord Himself. The Paschal Canon of Anatolius of Alexandria ch.10 p.149
Adamantius (c.300 A.D.) "Will you agree if I show from the Gospels that they are not fabrications?" ... "The disciples of Christ wrote them: John and Matthew; Mark and Luke. Dialogue on the True Faith First Part "b 5" p.41
Adamantius (c.300 A.D.) quotes Luke 23:46; 50-53 s by the evangelist. Dialogue on the True Faith Fifth Part 12 p.163
Victorinus of Petau bishop of Petau in Austria (martyred 304 A.D.) mentions Matthew, Mark, and Luke in Commentary on the Apocalypse of the Blessed John Victorinus of Petau (martyred 304 A.D.) mentions Matthew, Mark, and Luke in Commentary on the Apocalypse of the Blessed John From the fourth chapter 7-10 p.348
Pamphilus (martyred 309 A.D.) "We make this exposition, therefore, after the history of Luke, the evangelist and historian." An Exposition of the Chapters of the Acts of the Apostles p.166
Methodius (270-311/312 A.D.) (half quote) quotes Mark 11:9b, which is also Psalm 118:26a; Matthew 21:9b; Luke 19:38a; and John 12:13b. "Instead of our garments, let us strew our hearts before Him. In psalms and hymns, let us raise to Him our shouts of thanksgiving; and without ceasing, let us exclaim, 'Blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord;'" Oration on the Psalms ch.1 p.394
Athanasius (318 A.D.) quotes Luke 19:10: "as He [Jesus] says Himself in the Gospels: 'I came to find and to save the lost.' Incarnation of the Word ch.14 p.43. He also quotes Luke 4:34, which is the same as Mark 5:7, in Incarnation of the Word ch.32.5 p.53.
Athanasius (318 A.D.) quotes Luke 10:18 in Incarnation of the Word ch.25 p.50
Lactantius (c.303-c.325 A.D.) quotes Luke 14:2 in The Divine Institutes book 5 ch.16 p.151.
Lactantius (c.303-c.325 A.D.) alludes to Matthew 14; Mark 6, Luke 9, and John 6 when he relates the incident of the five loaves and two fishes. The Divine Institutes book 4 ch.15 p.115
Prior to 325 A.D. writers did not refer to the following 70 out of 1151 verses in Luke: 1:3; 3:25-28; 5:22,23; 6:10,11; 8:4,9,12,42,52,54; 9:19,27,30,37,40; 10:15; 11:15,17,34; 12:40; 13:35; 17:23; 18:15,26,32; 19:35,36; 20:3,7,10-12,15-16,18,21-24,40,45,47; 21:1,2,4,6,10,17,27,29-33; 22:5,13,26,39,47,50,54,56; 23:38; 24:8,12. Tatian's Diatessaron alone refers to 919 of the 1151 verses of Luke.
Juvencus (329 A.D.) wrote an epic poem combining the four gospels.
Eusebius' Ecclesiastical History (323-326 A.D.) book 3 ch.24 p.152 discusses the four gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers Second Series vol.1 p.152
Eusebius wrote whole commentaries on Luke and 1 Corinthians. Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers Second Series vol.1 p.41
Aphrahat the Syrian (337-345 A.D.) Select Demonstrations
Philo of Carpasia (fourth century) refers to Luke 23:11
Optatus (fourth century) refers to Luke 8:45
Zeno (fourth century)
Hilary of Poitiers (355-367/368 A.D.) authoritatively refers to John, Luke, Matthew, and Mark. On the Trinity book 10 ch.43 p.193
Hilary of Poitiers (355-367/368 A.D.) quotes from Luke 18:19 as by Jesus. On the Trinity book 1 ch.31 p.48. He also refers to Luke 1:35.
Athanasius (367 A.D.) lists the books of the New Testament in Festal Letter 39 p.552
Synopsis Scripturae Sacrae (350-370 A.D. or 5th century) mentions Luke as part of the New Testament. It quotes all of Luke 1:1.
The schismatic Lucifer of Cagliari (370/371 A.D.) refers to Luke 13:27; 19:25
Ephraim the Syrian (373 A.D.)
Titus of Bostra (before 378 A.D.)
Basil of Cappadocia (357-379 A.D.) quotes from Luke as by Jesus. He also refers to Luke 9:26. He also refers to Luke 14:29 as by the Lord in Letter 42 ch.1 p.143
Ambrosiaster (after 384 A.D.)
Cyril of Jerusalem (c.349-386 A.D.) quotes part of Luke 4:41 as Scripture in Lecture 10.15 p.4. He refers to it as the Gospel in Lecture 2.4 p.9.
Synod of Laodicea (in Phrygia) (343-381, 363 A.D.)
Cheltenham Canon (=Mommsen Catalogue) (ca.360-370/390 A.D.) refers to each of the four gospels.
Ambrose of Milan (370-390 A.D.)
Apollinaris of Laodicea (c.390 A.D.) refers to Luke 1:35
Gregory Nanzianzus (330-391 A.D.) alludes to Luke
Amphilochius (-397 A.D.) quotes from Luke in Iambi ad Seleucum
Gregory of Nyssa (c.356-397 A.D.) refers to Luke 6:36 as by the Lord in Against Eunomius book1 ch.34 p.89
Didymus the Blind (398 A.D.)
Syriac Book of Steps (Liber Graduum) (350-400) references part of Luke as by Jesus.
Maximus of Turin (4th/5th century)
Asterius of Emesa (c.400 A.D.)
Syrian Catalogue of St. Catherine's (ca.400 A.D.)
Epiphanius of Salamis (360-403 A.D.) Luke 1:28
Rufinus' Commentary on the Apostle's Creed (376-406 A.D.)
John Chrysostom (-406 A.D.) says Luke's genealogy is fuller than Matthew's. Commentary on the Gospel of Matthew Homily 1.14 p.7 (vol.10)
Gaudentius (after 406 A.D.)
Chromatius (died 407 A.D.)
Severian (flourished 400-408 A.D.)
Jerome (317-420 A.D.) mentions each of the four gospels by name in letter 53.9 p.101.
Sozomon (370/380-425 A.D.) refers to Luke as scripture. Sozomon's Ecclesiastical History
Council of Carthage (393-419 A.D.) (218 bishops) (Implied)
Niceta of Remesianus (361-c.415 A.D) quotes from Luke. He refers to Luke 12:39.
Orosius/Hosius of Braga (414-418 A.D.) quotes from Luke
Sulpicius/Sulpitius Severus (363-420 A.D.) mentions Luke by name in History book 2 ch.28 p.110
Augustine of Hippo (354-430 A.D.) referred to all four gospels in his work called Harmony of the Gospels.
John Cassian (Semi-Pelagian) (419-430 A.D.) mentions Luke 4:27 as by Luke in Conference of the Abbot Nesteros ch.1 p.445
Nilus (c.430 A.D.) refers to Luke
Hesychius of Jerusalem (-450 A.D.) (Pronounced HESS-us) refers to all four gospels
Cyril of Alexandria (444 A.D.)
Theodoret of Cyrus (bishop and historian) (423-458 A.D.)
Speculum (fifth century)
Patrick of Ireland (420-461 A.D.) quotes from Luke. Letter to Corticus
Pope Leo I of Rome (440-461 A.D.)
Proclus (412-485 A.D.)
Evidence of heretics and spurious books
The Encratite heretic Tatian (-177 A.D.) wrote a harmony of the four gospels called the Diatessaron, which means "through [the] four". In it he refers to 232 verses in Luke. That is 79.8% of the entire Gospel of Luke.
Apostolic Constitutions (uncertain date, about 380 A.D.)
Ptolemy and Valentinian according to Irenaeus (182-188 A.D.)
Tatian's Diatessaron (c.170 A.D.) quotes extensively from all four gospels.
Priscillian (c.385 A.D.) refers to Luke 1:35 and other verses.
Nestorius' Bazaar of Heracleides (451/452 A.D.)
Manichaean heretic Faustus-Milevis (383-400 A.D.) quotes Luke 3:22-23 as by Luke. Augustine's Reply to Faustus the Manichaean book 23 ch.2 Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers First Series vol.4 p.313
The Pelagian heretic Julian of Eclanum (c.454 A.D.) refers to Luke 20:36
3. Earliest manuscripts we have of Luke show there are small manuscript variations, but no theologically significant errors.
The Lukan manuscript in Paris of Luke 3:23; 5:36 is dated by Philip Comfort to about 100 A.D. More on this is in the book by Thiede, Carsten P. and Matthew d'Ancona, Eyewitness to Jesus: Amazing New Manuscript Evidence About the Origin of the Gospels (NY Doubleday 1996 206 pp.). They date this as "not much later than 68 A.D..Of course, the Gospel of Luke was written prior to Acts.
p3 Luke 7:36-45; 10:38-42 6th/7th century. Alexandrian text.
6th or 7th century - 1968 - The Text of the New Testament.
p4 Luke 1:58-59; 1:62-2:1; 2:6-7; 3:8-4:2; 4:29-32, 34-35; 5:3-8; 5:30-6:16 (mid 2nd century according to The Complete Text of the Earliest New Testament Manuscripts p.33.) A photograph of p4 is in The Complete Text of the Earliest New Testament Manuscripts p.32. p4, p64, and p67 all come from the same manuscript.
The dating of the manuscript is as follows:
3rd century - 1968 - The Text of the New Testament.
3rd century - 1975 - Aland 3rd edition
Similar to early 2nd century - 1990 - Philip Comfort in Early Manuscripts and Modern Translations of the New Testament p.32 notes that until recently it was dated as 3rd century (c.250 A.D.) but since p4 is either a part of the same manuscript as p64 and p67, or else by the same scribe, and p64/67 is known to be early second century, p4 must have a similar date. (However, others say they are not the same.)
3rd century - 1998 - Aland 4th revised edition
Middle 2nd century - 1999 - Philip Comfort in The Complete Text of the Earliest New Testament Manuscripts p.33
p7 Luke 4:1-3 (was in Kiev, now lost) (3rd to 4th century?)
5th century - 1968 - The Text of the New Testament says it only contains Luke 4:1-2.
p42 Luke 1:54-55; 2:29-32 (7th to 8th century) It agrees with Alexandrinus.
7th to 8th century - 1968 - The Text of the New Testament.
p45 Chester Beatty I (all four gospels and Acts) (100-150 A.D.) (formerly thought to be late 2nd or early 3rd century A.D.) (Luke 6:31-41; 6:45-7:7; 9:26-41; 9:45-10:1; 10:6-22; 10:26-11:1; 11:6-25, 28-46; 11:50-12:13 (12:9 was never written); 12:18-37; 12:42-13:1; 13:6-24; 13:29-14:10; 14:17-33) The Complete Text of the Earliest New Testament Manuscripts has a photograph showing part of p45 on p.146. On p.150-151 it says that the copy was a loose paraphrase, where he tries to bring out the thought of each phrase. A General Introduction to the Bible p.389 says the original scroll was thought to have about 220 leaves, of which we have 30 leaves preserved. We have 7 leaves from Luke.
3rd century - 1968 - The Text of the New Testament
3rd century - 1975 - Aland et al. Third Edition
3rd century - 1998 - Aland et al. Fourth Revised Edition
Late 2nd or early 3rd century - 1999 - The Complete Text of the Earliest New Testament Manuscripts.
p69 (=Papyrus Oxyrhynchus 2383) Lk 22:40,45-48,58-61 (middle 3rd century). It never contained Luke 22:43-44. The Complete Text of the Earliest New Testament Manuscripts has a photograph showing part of p69 on p.460, as does The Text of the Earliest New Testament Greek Manuscripts p.470.
3rd century - 1968 - The Text of the New Testament.
p75 Bodmer 14/15 Papyrii (most of Luke and John) Contains Luke 3:18-22; 3:33-4:2; 4:34-5:10; 5:37-6:4; 6:10-7:32; 7:35-39,41-43; 7:46-9:2; 9:4-17:15; 17:19-18:18; 22:4-24:53. is typically dated 175-200 A.D., or 175-225 A.D. However, its handwriting is very similar to another document, Papyrus Fuad XIX, which is known to have been written 145-146 A.D. The text is very similar to Vaticanus (A General Introduction to the Bible p.390) The Complete Text of the Earliest New Testament Manuscripts has a photograph of part of it on p.495 and says a professional Christian scribe wrote this manuscript and on p.496 says it is 97% identical with Vaticanus (92% the same in John). The Archaeology of the New Testament (Finnegan) has a photograph of Luke 9:23-33 on p.383. The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1982) vol.6 p.414 has a photograph of Luke 16:9-21, assigning it a date of 175-225 A.D.
beginning of the 3rd century - 1968 - The Text of the New Testament has Luke 3:18-22; 3:33-4:2; 4:34-5:10; 5:37-6:4; 6:10-7:32,35-43; 7:46-8:18; 22:4-24:53
p82 Luke 7:32-34,37,38 (4th to 5th century)
p97 Luke 14:7-14 (6th to 7th century)
p111 (3rd century) Oxyrhynchus Luke 17:11-13, 22-23
0171 (c.300 A.D.) contains Luke 22:44-50; 22:52-56
Vaticanus [B] (325-350 A.D.), Sinaiticus [Si] (340-350 A.D.), and Alexandrinus [A] (c.450 A.D.) contain all of Luke.
The Washington Codex (4th/5th century) contains all of Luke.
Cambridge 5th/6th century
Bohairic Coptic [Boh] 3rd/4th century
Armenian [Arm] from 5th century
Sahidic Coptic 3rd/4rth century
Ephraemi Rescriptus [C] 5th century
Gothic 493-555 A.D.
Ethiopic [Eth] from c.500 A.D.
Curetonian Syriac [Syr C] 4th-7th century
Sinaitic Syriac [Syr S] 4th-7th century
Georgian [Geo] 5th century
There is a picture of Luke 16:16-21 from a Bodmer papyrus (c.180 A.D.) in the New International Dictionary of the Bible p.604. A photograph of part of the scroll of the Bodmer 14/15 Papyrii is in the New International Dictionary of the Bible p.706.
Up through 200 A.D. we have preserved manuscripts contained 71% of the verses of Luke (818 out of 1151 verses). They are: Luke 1:58-59; 1:52-2:1; 2:6-7; 3:8-4:2; 4:29-32; 4:34-5:10; 5:30-7:32; 7:35-39,41-43; 7:46-9:2; 9:4-17:15; 17:19-18:18; 22:4-24:53.
See www.BibleQuery.org/lkMss.html for more on early manuscripts of Luke.
For more info please contact Christian Debater™ P.O. Box 144441 Austin, TX 78714. www.BibleQuery.org