Luke 10:1-9, 16


Luke 10:1-20 is peculiar to this Gospel. The sending of the twelve is found at 9:1-6, as well as in Mark and Matthew. The historicity of Luke 10:1-20 has been denied by some higher critics who maintain that it was a fabrication of the early church or of Luke himself to deal with the call of the twelve by Jesus and the existence of a larger body of evangelists in the early church. We do not agree with this idea.

Luke 10:1 After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them two by two ahead of him to every town and place where he was about to go.

"After this." After what?

Bengel: After proving those who were fit for the embassy or the contrary, of whom three are mentioned in 9:57ff.
Lenski: Must go back to 9:51, the start on the last journey to Jerusalem.
Arndt: The term is so indefinite that no theory as to the precise time when the additional workers were appointed can be built on it.

These notes leave it undetermined.

Is it "seventy" or "seventy-two"? AV, RSV, NASB have the former. NEB, NIV, AAT have the latter. For some commentators much depends on whether the number has a symbolic meaning. The answers to this question are almost without number. It depends on what one assumes to be the symbolism intended by Jesus. Some say it symbolizes the seventy nations in Genesis 10. Others think it is symbolic of the seventy elders who assisted Moses. See Numbers 11:16,17,24,25. Others think it is a reference to the Sanhedrin, seventy in number. We simply don't know. The wide variety of symbolic ideas proposed should cause us to cease to find definite symbolism in this number.

Marshall: The purpose of pairing two by two was to give attested, binding testimony.
Arndt: The value and power of Christian companionship come to mind.

There were 35 or 36 pairs.

Stoeckhardt: Jesus sent the seventy before Him into those regions through which His journey would lead, to prepare the way, and to announce His coming. It was not His purpose to visit every single little village to which He sent these disciples, but it should be made known to all that the Great Prophet of Galilee, the Great Helper of Israel, was approaching their borders allowing each one to come who wanted to hear and see Him from which we see clearly, how diligently the Lord seeks individual souls with His call of grace.

Ylvisaker and Lenski and others think that Jesus sent them to Perea, east of the Jordan River. They truly covered the territory.

Luke 10:2 He told them, "The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.

"He went on to say."

Note the contrast between the size of the harvest and the number of workers. This statement is axiomatic, in all ages of the church. We never have enough workers.

"In view of this disparity" they should not give up or despair, but "beg, plead with."

Lenski: The harvest is already produced -- Jesus sees it. Look at John 10:14 and 2 Timothy 2:19.
Arndt: Jesus is thinking of His own country. His own personal mission was intended solely for the Children of Israel.

But the point holds, He, not we, is Lord of the harvest. If He is Lord over the great ingathering, why should workers pray?

Arndt: When hearts are willing to pray for a certain undertaking, they are ready likewise to assist in having it carried out.
Lenski: God has put this harvest and its ingathering into Jesus' hands. Without Him the harvest could not be brought in at all. Our prayers do not save the harvest or a part of it. Our prayers join God's partners of Jesus Himself. Jesus does not tell the seventy to go out and get workers. The harvest is God's, and He must provide the workers. All that we are to do is 'to beg' this of God. He uses us and our prayers and does not discard them.

Luke 10:3 Go! I am sending you out like lambs among wolves.

"Be on your way, without further preparation." But He had obviously already prepared them. "I send you with a commission." He is behind the whole matter. This contains a promise.

But the next words are sobering. Is the point of comparison single: "defenseless among the vicious" or, as Lenski states, a double comparison: "defenseless and meek because of conversion among the vicious and wicked because they are filled and animated by sin." In either case, Jesus is implicitly saying that He will take care of them, despite their weaknesses and defenselessness.

Luke 10:4 Do not take a purse or bag or sandals; and do not greet anyone on the road.

In verses 4 through 9 there are three prohibitions and five commands. "Do not carry," "Do not greet," "Don't move around," are the prohibitions. The commands are "Say," Remain," "Eat," "Heal," and "Say." The only duplication is "Say," first and last command.

They are forbidden to do that which might impede their mission. And the primary command has to do with what they would say. Note that the first and third prohibition are present tense: "Don't make a practice of, etc." The second is aorist: "Don't on any occasion, etc." The five commands are all present imperative: "Make a practice of, etc." The first prohibition in verse 4 involves carrying along a purse, a provision-bag, and extra sandals.

Morris: They are to go as they are.
Arndt: They should not be loaded down with personal effects.
Lenski: This does not mean special hardship but the dismissal of all care about bodily needs. He who sends them out will provide for them. They are to learn complete trust.

NEB is in error when it translates: "Travel barefoot."

Morris: Not that they are to go barefoot, but that they are not to take a spare pair.

The second prohibition is peculiar to Luke. What does it mean?

Marshall: Oriental greetings were important, long and time-consuming. The reason lies in the need for urgency on the task of mission.
Morris: It is not an exhortation to impoliteness.
Bengel: Hearers are more attentive in their homes than on the way-side.

Luke 10:5 "When you enter a house, first say, 'Peace to this house.'

Note that this verse is an example of the general condition. They were to do this at all times. Note the importance of what they should say. Their first task was to preach the Gospel. This cannot be the ordinary greeting "Shalom." It must mean, contextually, the peace of God in Christ, the forgiveness of sins. It is for the whole household.

Forster: The greeting which they give on entering a house is not a wish. It is a gift which is either received or rejected as such.
Arndt: A fitting salutation for messengers proclaiming life everlasting!
Stoeckhardt: The salvation in Christ is meant for all sinners.
Lenski: Jesus refers to a greeting from them as apostles and bearers of His own divine peace. By their greeting they are to extend this peace, as Jesus Himself did in John 20:19. This peace is an objective gift, the peace wrought by the Gospel, which makes God our friend and us His children, so that all is well with us. It is to be a permanent possession.

Luke 10:6 If a man of peace is there, your peace will rest on him; if not, it will return to you.

This verse continues the thought of verse 5, but whereas 5 is a general statement, this verse is future more vivid, indicating that the result will not always be the same. There are two possibilities.

What does "man of peace" mean?

Arndt: A person who gratefully accepts the salvation offered him.
Lenski: "A son of peace" has the qualitative genitive, in the sense that peace, true peace with God, is his desire, wrought in him by the Old Testament promises or by the preaching of the messengers on their arrival.

The peace could also refer to the whole household. It is clearly an exercise of what we call the Office of the Keys.

"But if not." This might be the case, where no one in their household is receptive, they all spurn the Gospel.

Marshal: The intended recipient forfeits it.
Morris: God's gifts are not given by magic.
Arndt: This is figurative speech, assuring the disciples that they would not have to fear pronouncing blessings upon an unworthy person, as if thereby benefits were bestowed where they were out of place. God's gifts are not conferred magically, irresistibly. Lenski: It will return to you, like an object that is refused and handed back to the givers, for them to take elsewhere.

Luke 10:7 Stay in that house, eating and drinking whatever they give you, for the worker deserves his wages. Do not move around from house to house.

In verses 7 and 8 Jesus' words shift from the message to the conduct and subsistence of the missionaries. The point is that they should show contented conduct. The meaning is clear. The axiom is introduced with "you see." The wages are "his" not "theirs." Work is followed by wages. For more on this axiom see 1 Corinthians 9:11-14; 1 Timothy 5:18, and for church workers look at Galatians 6:6.

Lenski: The things that Jesus forbids is that they keep going from house to house, hunting out the best quarters.
Stoeckhardt: This is not the right method and nature of doing mission work when we flutter about all over and with the Gospel touch a little bit here and a little bit there, but it is necessary at first to establish a firm footing.

Luke 10:8 "When you enter a town and are welcomed, eat what is set before you.

Marshall: From the individual house Luke turns to the town in a verse that has no parallel in Matthew.

Note that it is a general statement, applicable in all cases in which they are received, not rejected. Is this merely a restatement of verse 7a for the sake of emphasis or is it the same thought as in 1 Corinthians 10:27, not to raise scruples about the origin of good in pagan households? These notes prefer the former interpretation because Jesus did not send His disciples and workers to Gentile homes. Jesus is reemphasizing the principle of contentment with what people offered.

Luke 10:9 Heal the sick who are there and tell them, 'The kingdom of God is near you.'

Here the content of the world of the seventy is summarized. They were quipped to perform miraculous healing as is plain from verse 17. These miracles proved that their message was divine.

Marshall: The healings are to be regarded as a sign of the presence of the kingdom.
Arndt: The miracles done in His name testified that He is the Son of God, John 20:31, and prepared the way for His chief message, the proclamation of the Kingdom.

It is the same as that found in Mark 1:15.

Morris: This is their day of opportunity.

In all simplicity it means that they clearly preached the Gospel of Jesus Christ. That is clear from Mark 1:15.

(The following verse are omitted from the text for this Sunday) Luke 10:10 But when you enter a town and are not welcomed, go into its streets and say, Luke 10:11 'Even the dust of your town that sticks to our feet we wipe off against you. Yet be sure of this: The kingdom of God is near.' Luke 10:12 I tell you, it will be more bearable on that day for Sodom than for that town. Luke 10:13 "Woe to you, Korazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago, sitting in sackcloth and ashes. Luke 10:14 But it will be more bearable for Tyre and Sidon at the judgment than for you. Luke 10:15 And you, Capernaum, will you be lifted up to the skies? No, you will go down to the depths.

Luke 10:16 "He who listens to you listens to me; he who rejects you rejects me; but he who rejects me rejects him who sent me."

Jesus must have made this statement to His disciples often. Look at Matthew 10:40 and John 13:20. Jesus differentiates Himself, the teacher sent out and God Himself.

Lenski: Here is a double equation: you -- me; me -- Sender."

Jesus' true messengers say what He says and He says what the Father says. To accept what one says implies acceptance of the other two and vice versa. That this applies today, need hardly be stated. On the one hand it keeps the preacher or teacher from becoming proud of his work. And, on the other hand, he should not become despondent if the message is rejected. This is the Office of the Keys in action. The preacher speaks with authority.

Lenski: Heaven and hell depend on their words. God Himself is back of them.


Adapted from Exegetical Notes, Series C Gospel Texts, Sundays After Pentecost, by Harold H. Buls, Concordia Theological Seminary Press: Ft Wayne IN, 1979, pp. 20-22. Used with permission.

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