The teachings of Messiah, 9:51-19:44

4. Who enters the kingdom? 13:22-16:13

iv] Salty discipleship


In the context of travelling toward Jerusalem, Jesus addresses those traveling with him, and confronts them with the conditions of entry into the kingdom of God.


Those who would participate in the messianic age of the kingdom must offer total loyalty to a rejected messiah.


i] Context: See 13:22-30. Salty discipleship, 14:25-35, is the fourth episode in a series of six which deal with the question, who will enter the kingdom? 13:22-16:13. In the age of the great reversal, when the first are last and the last first, many will find themselves unexpectedly outside the kingdom, 13:22-30. Among them will be a two-bit politician, unfaithful Israel, self-righteous status-seekers, and allot of invited guests who either excuse themselves, or don't make the grade. In the next episode concerning the repentant sinner, 15:1-32, we learn that although many are rejected, entry into the kingdom of God is not beyond anyone.


ii] Structure: Salty discipleship:

Setting, v25;

Two sayings on commitment, v26-27:

"if anyone comes to me and does not hate father ......"

"whoever does not carry their cross and follow me ...."

Sayings on cost, v28-33:

Two illustrative / parabolic sayings, v28-32:

The tower builder, v28-30;

The king going to war, v31-32:

Interpretive saying, v33:

"those of you who do not give up everything ....."

Warning - Illustrative / metaphorical saying, v34-35a:

"salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness ........."

Concluding saying, v35b;

"whoever has ears let him hear."


iii] Interpretation:

Christian discipleship requires loyalty to a rejected messiah, and this above all other loyalties.

In Matthew's version of the Great Banquet, he includes a selection-scene (the wedding garment) along with the invitation-scene, and he concludes with the saying, "many are called but few are chosen." In Luke's version of the parable, Luke only has the invitation scene, "many are called", but now he deals with the selection process, "few are chosen" - "entry into the kingdom has its own conditions", Fitzmyer. So, what are the conditions? Discipleship demands total loyalty to a crucified messiah, v26-27. It requires careful consideration, v28-32, and comes at a cost, v33. Without loyalty to Christ, we are like "saltless salt" destined for the rubbish tip, v34-35, cf., Matt.22:13.


What the commentators say: This passage is notoriously difficult to interpret, particularly with regard Jesus' utopian discipleship demands. Interpretations tend to focus on either a warning against half-hearted discipleship, or a prompt to the potential convert that they should first consider the cost of discipleship before making any decisions. Both lines of interpretation have much to commend them.

The majority of commentators opt for the first view, namely that Jesus, at this point, describes "conditions of discipleship" for the purpose of addressing half-hearted disciples:

i"Half-hearted discipleship can expect only judgment", Marshall;

iWe may accept the invitation, but "renunciation" is also a necessary requirement for salvation, Creed;

iThe cost of following Jesus is "everything" Black;

i"Jesus calls ....... for a renunciation of all ties........ Otherwise, they will be disciples in name but not in reality", Nolland. So Ellis, Stein, Fitzmyer, Tinsley, Johnson, Bock, Plummer, .....

The second option, namely that Jesus is warning potential believers to "count the cost", is also widely supported:

i"To warn ... that becoming a disciple was the most important enterprise a man could undertake and deserved at least as much consideration as he would give to business or politics", Caird. So also Danker, Leaney, Gooding, .....


The cost of discipleship: The cost involved in deciding to follow Christ may be understood as follows:


iThe cost of discipleship as a literal ideal - "Entry into the kingdom of heaven is free, but the annual membership will cost us all that we have", Anon. At times, some commentators are inclined to treat a utopian ideal like, "those who do not give up everything they have cannot be my disciple", as if it were a literal command. This prompts a form of reductionism practiced by the Pharisees, eg., "everything" becomes 10%, ie., we reduce the law's demand to make it doable. A focus on doing instead of receiving, is often driven by the idea that free grace gets us in, and faithful obedience keeps us in. Sanctification by obedience / nomism, is a serious heresy which has affected the Christian church from the time Paul confronted the problem in his letters to the Romans and Galatians and onward till today; See the background notes on Nomism, 11:37-54.


iThe cost of discipleship as a future possibility - "The disciple must be continually ready to give up all that he has got in order to follow Jesus", Marshall. Jesus didn't actually mean everything we have, but that we be willing to give up everything we have. "A disciple must renounce all rights to his property. That doesn't mean that that they must give everything away to other people. As far as other people are concerned (and that includes the church), a disciple's right over private property remains (see Acts 5:4). 'All that a man has' includes not just money and goods, time and energy, talent and body and soul, but wife and children as well. Obviously, a disciple is not called upon to give his wife and children away to other people. But them, and all else, he must surrender to Christ, and be prepared unquestioningly to accept Christ's authority over everything"

I am reminded of the old Anglican joke which suggested that the reason why the priest holds up the offertory plate during the offertory prayer was so that God could take anything he wanted from it before the Parish Council got their hands on it!!!


iThe cost of discipleship as a theological metaphor. Cross-bearing serves as a theological metaphor for identification with / commitment to Jesus. As with Jesus' statement "whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me", v26-27 call for a setting-aside of self-reliance for the gift of right-standing in the sight of God. Instead of self-reliance, those who would follow Jesus must rely on / identify with / bear the cross of a messiah whose credentials are anything but convincing. A daily cross-bearing - faith-reliance on / identification with a crucified messiah - comes with a cost requiring careful consideration, v28-33, ie., identification and imitation go hand in hand; See, Cross-bearing discipleship, 9:18-27. Be warned, failure is final v34-35.


iv] Synoptics:

See 3:1-20. Much of this passage is unique to Luke. The first verse obviously comes from Luke himself and provides the setting for the following sayings of Jesus. The two sayings on the cost of discipleship, v26-27, are similar to Matthew 10:37-38. The first saying is repeated by Luke in 18:29 and reflects the wording of Mark 10:29. The usual differences are evident, reflecting the received tradition available to each author, although commentators usually identify a common source, namely Q. Note the linking phrase "cannot be my disciple."

Then follows two illustrative sayings / parables which are unique to Luke, v28-32. They are usually classified as L, a special Lukan source. The saying in v33 applies v28-32, and it is not clear whether it was originally attached, or Luke has attached it. Fitzmyer argues that it is a Lukan construction.

The final illustrative / metaphorical saying on salt, v34-35, reflects the wording of Mark 9:45-50 and the sentiment of Matthew 5:13. Fitzmyer opts for a Q source adjusted to Mark. Luke concludes with an independent saying of Jesus encouraging an active consideration of his words, v35b. A similar statement is found in Matthew 11:15, but in a different context.


v] Exposition: A simple exposition of this passage may be found in the linked pew-level Sermon Notes.

Text - 14:25

The cost of discipleship: v25-35: i] Setting, v25; The sense probably is, "While Jesus was travelling on his final journey toward Jerusalem, he was accompanied by a large crowd of would-be disciples. Turning to them he said."

de "-" - but/and. Transitional, serving to introduce a new literary unit.

autw/ dat. pro. "Jesus" - [a large crowd were accompanying] him, Dative of direct object after the sun prefix verb "to travel with."

strafeiV (strefw) aor. part. "turning" - [and] having turned. Attendant circumstance participle, expressing action accompanying the main verb "said"; "He turned and spoke to them", NJB.

proV + acc. "to [them]" - [he said] toward [them]. The preposition is used here instead of a dative to introduce an indirect object.


ii] Sayings on commitment, v26-27: By his linking of two independent sayings of Jesus, Luke identifies the primary criteria for the selection of those who have accepted the invitation to follow Jesus. The criteria amount to a daily faith-reliance on / identification with Jesus Christ our crucified messiah. In a sense, it is the necessary wedding garment illustrated in Matthew's parable of the Great Feast, although to make that association, we have just allegorised an abstraction!!!

a) A disciple must "hate" their family, v26. In rhetoric, a negative polarity can be used for emphasis in expressing a positive. Even today, young people will use a phrase like "that's sick" to express a positive sentiment rather than a negative. Jesus is using a similar rhetorical technique - the polarity of hating one for loving the other. Matthew's version "He who loves farther or mother more than me" doesn't even come close to making the same impact as Luke's version of the saying. This is not about a "more than" love, this is about a clear loving commitment to Jesus. Hating the one = loving the other. So, what we have here is an example of Semitic hyperbole serving to emphasise the act of loving / committing to / identifying with / persevering in faith in / ..... Jesus - not above anyone else, but simply in Jesus.

ei + ind. "if" - if [certain = anyone comes toward me]. Introducing a conditional clause, 1st class, where the condition is assumed to be true, "if, as is the case, .... then he is not able to be my disciple."

ou misei (misew) pres. "does not hate" - [and] does not hate. The present tense expresses duration; "continues to hate" = continues to love Christ.

eJautou gen. pro. "-" - [the father] of himself [and the mother and the wife and the children and the brothers and the sisters]. The genitive is adjectival, relational, while the use of the reflective pronoun here is emphatic, intensifying "his"; "his own father .....", ESV.

eti te kai "yes, even" - and in addition. Ascensive. Just in case we hadn't understood the level of dedication demanded.

thn yuchn " life" - the life [of himself]. Part of the direct object of the verb "to hate." In the sense of his own being, "yes, and himself too", Barclay.

ou dunatai (dunamai) pres. pas. ind. "he cannot" - he is not able. Introducing the apodosis of the conditional sentence, not classical Gk., but standard NT. practice.

einai pres. inf. "be " - to be [my disciple]. The infinitive of the verb to-be is complementary, completing the sense of the negated verb "to be able."


b) Cross bearing discipleship, v27. See Cross-bearing discipleship, Luke 9:18-27. The demand that a person "carry their cross", is a demand to all who would follow Christ, a demand for a complete faith-reliance / commitment to Jesus the humiliated messiah - it amounts to identification with his cross, not imitation of his cross. Our cross is the yoke Jesus provides, and his "burden is light." Matthew refers to taking up the cross rather than carrying. The image is of a prisoner carrying their cross for execution, ie., humiliation. Often understood in the terms of imitation, eg., let the person who wants to follow Christ take up the position of someone who has an "attitude of self denial which regards his life in this world as already finished", Marshall. But better in terms of identification, of a complete reliance on a humiliated crucified messiah.

o{stiV pro. "and anyone who" - whosoever. Serving to introduce an indefinite relative clause, subject of the negated verb "to be able."

ou bastazei (bastazw) pres. "does not carry" - does not bear as a burden [the cross of himself]. Present tense again expressing durative action, "whoever is not bearing and coming after me", Bock.

ercetai opisw mou "follow me" - [and] comes after me. "Follow" in the sense of follow as a disciple.

ei\nai (eimi) pres. inf. "[cannot] be" - [is not able] to be. The infinitive is complementary, completing the sense of the negated verb "is not able."

mou gen. pro. "my" - my [disciple]. The genitive is adjectival, relational.


iii] Sayings on cost, v28-33: The two short illustrative parables, plus the interpretive saying, remind potential disciples to consider the cost of following Jesus. Here the focus is on our imitation of Christ rather than our identification with him; an imitation which is the natural fruit of identification. There is a cost to discipleship; if we are not willing to pay the full price, then there is no point starting out on the journey. These parables are teaching illustrations and are not allegories - they don't teach that God, unlike mere humans, will realise his kingdom, so Hunzinger.

a) On building a tower, v28-30. Who would be so foolish as to start a building project without considering whether they have the funds to complete it? (the answer is too many, but anyway, moving on .....) So, consider the cost.

gar "suppose" - for. Transitional; here as a stitching device. A potential disciple must be willing to accept the cost (v27); "for which of you ......", Moffatt.

tivV pro. "one" - which. Interrogative pronoun. This question-form expects a negative answer, "which of you here ....?", NJB; negation = none of us would be so silly as to not first sit down and calculate if we can complete the building project.

ex (ek) + gen. "one [of you]" - from [you]. Here serving as a partitive genitive.

qelwn pres. part. "wants" - wanting. The participle is best treated as adjectival, attributive, limiting "you", "one of you who wants to build a tower."

oikodomhsai (oikodomew) aor. inf. "to build" - to build [a tower]. The infinitive is complementary, completing the verbal sense of the participle "wanting". The "tower" is probably a watch tower, but possibly any farm building.

kaqisaV (kaqizw) aor. part. "sit down" - [first] having sat down [figure out the cost]. Attendant circumstance participle expressing action accompanying the verb nhfiqei, "figure out."; "does not first sit down and count the cost", ESV.

ei + ind. "if" - if [he has enough]. Probably used here to introduce an indirect question; "Won't he first sat down and calculate the expense (asking himself the question), will I (he) have (the wherewithal) for completion?" On the other hand, it may possibly introduce an incomplete 1st., class conditional clause; "if, as is the case, he has enough for completion, then he will complete it."

eiV "to" - for [completion]. Here expressing purpose / goal.


iJna mhpote + subj. "for if" - lest. Introducing a negated purpose clause. The person plans this project in order that everyone does not begin to ridicule him. Marshall argues that mhpote (mh + pou) is used instead of mh for emphasis. Zerwick holds that the iJna is redundant. "In case", Barclay. Thompson notes that the construction expresses apprehension.

qentoV (tiqhmi) aor. part. gen. "he lays" - [he] having laid [a foundation]. The genitive participle and its genitive subject "he", forms a genitive absolute construction, best treated as introducing a temporal clause, "in case, when he has laid the foundations", Barclay, but causal is possible, "because ......"

mh iscuontoV (iscuw) pres. part. gen. "is not able" - [and] not being able. Genitive absolute participle, as above; "then is unable to finish the building", Moffatt.

ektelesai (ektelew) aor. inf. "to finish" - to bring to completion. Complementary infinitive, completing the sense of the negated participle "being able."

oJi qewrounteV (qewrew) pres. part. "[everyone] who sees it" - [all] the ones seeing. The participle can be taken as a substantive modified by the adjective "all", or "all" can be taken as a substantive, "everyone", modified by the participle, in which case the participle is adjectival, attributive.

empaizein (empaizw) pres. inf. "ridicule" - [may begin] to ridicule, mock, make fun of, taunt. The infinitive is complementary, complementing the sense of the verb "to begin". "Everyone who sees it will begin to jeer at him", Phillips.

autw/ dat. pro. "you" - him. Dative of direct object after the en prefix verb "to mock."


legonteV (legw) pres. part. "saying" - saying. The participle may be treated as adverbial, modal, expressing the manner of the "ridicule", as NIV, or possibly instrumental, expressing means - ridiculed "by saying." It can also be viewed as a typical Semitic attendant construction introducing direct speech, "they began to mock him and said"; "Everyone passing by will poke fun at you. 'He started something that he couldn't finish'", Peterson. See legwn, 4:35.

oJti "-" - that. Here introducing a dependant statement of direct speech.

ou|toV oJ anqrwpoV "this fellow" - this man. Nominative subject of the verb "to begin." This construction usually expresses derision.

oikodomein (oikodomew) pres. inf. "to build" - [began] to build. The infinitive is complementary, completing the sense of the verb "to begin."

ektelesai (ektelew) aor. inf. "to finish" - [and was not able] to finish. The infinitive is again complementary. "'this man' they will say 'began to build and couldn't finish the job'", Barclay.


b) On going to war, v31-32. Who would be so foolish as to undertake a war, without first gauging whether success is possible? Under normal circumstances, no sensible person would, but as we know, dictators who start wars aren't very sensible. None-the-less, the illustration serves to remind us to consider the cost. Following a guru who was executed as a common criminal and whose teachings somewhat interfere with a person's natural selfish ambitions, comes at a cost. Consider the cost before embarking on the journey; as the old saying goes; don't start what you can't finish.

h] tivV + part "or suppose [a king]" - or what [king]. Introducing a rhetorical question expecting a negative answer; "or again, what king ....?, NJB; obviously no king would be so stupid as to go to war without first making sure he can win.

poreuomenoV (poreuomai) pres. part. "is about to go" - going. The participle is adverbial, possibly conditional, serving as the indicative finite verb in the protasis of a conditional clause modified by an infinitive of means which serves to clarify the action of the participle; "or what king, if he goes out to encounter another king in war, then does not sit down first ....?" On the other hand, it may just be temporal, "when going out", or modal, expressing manner, "contemplating going", Barclay. "Or what king sets out to fight against another king ...?", Moffatt.

sumbalein (sumballw) aor. inf. "against" - to engage with, throw together [into battle, war]. The infinitive expresses purpose, "in order to engage in battle." Probably in coming together with other combatants for the purpose of engaging in war, so "to wage war", TNT.

basilei (euV ewV) dat. "king" - [another] king [into war]. Dative of direct object after the sun prefix infinitive "to meet with." The prepositional phrase "into war" is adverbial, final, expressing purpose, "for the purpose of making war."

ouci kaqisaV (kaqizw) aor. part. "will he not [first] sit down" - not having sat down [will first consider]. Attendant circumstance participle expressing action accompanying the main verb "will consider / confer / deliberate / decide"; "will not sit down first and deliberate", ESV.

ei + ind. "whether" - if. Probably introducing an indirect question, as in v28, but it also serves to introduce a dependent statement of perception expressing what is being considered.

en + dat. "with" - [he is able] in [ten thousand]. Possibly instrumental, "by then thousand", but usually taken to express association, "in company with."

uJpanthsai (uJpantaw) aor. inf. "oppose" - to meet with, oppose, confront in battle. The infinitive is epexegetic, clarifying the substantive "able / strong / possible."

tw/ ... ercomenw/ (ercomai) pres. part. "the one coming" - the one having come. The participle serves as a substantive, dative of direct object after the infinitive "to meet with."

epi + acc. "against" - against [him]. Spatial, here expressing opposition, as NIV.

meta + gen. "with" - with [twenty thousand]. Association / accompaniment; "in company with."


ei "if" - [but/and] if [indeed not]. Introducing a conditional clause, 1st class, where the proposed condition is assumed to be true. In this case, the protasis of the conditional clause is somewhat elliptical; "and if, as is the case, indeed he determines he is not able to defeat the one coming against him with twenty thousand, then he will send a delegation ....." "If he cannot", TNT.

aposteilaV (apostellw) aor. part. "he will send" - having sent [an ambassador]. Attendant circumstance participle expressing action accompanying the verb "he asks"; "he sends a delegation and asks." We should note though that "having sent" is aorist while "asks" is present. It is usually accepted that the aspect of both should be the same, but here we have a perfective aorist (punctiliar) and an imperfective present (durative). For this reason, Culy opts for adverbial, instrumental, expressing means; "By sending a representative he requests terms for peace", Culy.

ontoV (eimi) pres. part. gen. "while" - [he] being [still far away]. The genitive participle and its genitive subject "he", forms a genitive absolute construction serving to introduce a temporal clause; "when the other is still at a distance", Moffatt; "while the other king is still a long way off", CEV.

ta "terms [of peace]" - [he asks] the terms [toward peace]. Here the neuter plural article serves as a nominalizer turning the prepositional phrase proV eirhnhn, "toward peace", into a noun clause, direct object of the verb "asks"; "asks the terms for peace." The preposition proV, "toward", expresses purpose / aim / objective here.


c) Saying - of the giving of all to discipleship, v33. Luke uses this independent saying of Jesus to explain the cost of discipleship, of cross-bearing in the terms of the imitation of Christ; "Foxes have dens and birds have their nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head", 9:58. When it comes to discipleship instructions, Jesus uses hyperbolic images to establish ideals to aim at, rather than objectives to reach. Jesus uses this same methodology when addressing God's Law, although in that case, his purpose is to expose sin and so prompt repentance for a reliance on divine grace. Jesus' ideal discipleship instructions are not intended to expose sin, but they do focus the mind / give direction, and inevitably prompt a reliance on divine grace - "saying goodby to all one has" is simply not possible, but with a little bit of encouragement we can say "goodby" to some of it. On a number of occasions, Luke uses Jesus' ethic of complete renunciation in order to provide discipleship-ideals to aim at, cf., 5:11, 6:20, 11:41, 12:33, 18:22. So, a would-be disciples should consider the cost.

Although it is more than likely that the present tense verb apotassetai, "to renounce", expresses complete renunciation, it is possible to argue that it is durative here: "the disciple must be continually ready to give up all that he has got in order to follow Jesus", Marshall. Schweizer takes a similar line: "all are called to be prepared for it (the giving up of materialistic attachments to the world) although it will not be a reality for all." This approach has little to commend it; See notes above.

ouJtwV oun "in the same way" - so in like manner. Together, the words express a contrast and result flowing from v32. In like manner, those who would be a disciple need to assess whether they can "give up everything." "So in the same way", NJB. Yet, they may just draw a logical conclusion, ie., inferential; "So therefore", ESV.

ex (ek) + gen. "of [you]" - [all] of [you]. Here the preposition is used as a partitive genitive.

ouk apatassetai (apotassw) pres. "does not give up" - [who] does not renounce, forsake, set aside, give up. The present tense is best taken to express "a characteristic feature", Green; a disciple will "relinquish everything", Stein, "says goodbye to all his possessions", Phillips.

toiV ... uJparcousin (uJparcw) pres. part. "[everything you] have" - [all] the existing, being / having, belonging [of him]. The participle is obviously serving as a substantive, dative of direct object after the apo prefix verb "to say goodby to"; usually translated "everything one has", "all that he has" = "all the good's one has at one's disposal", Nolland, "possessions", or better, "one's resources", Thompson = time, talent and tinkle. Note, Luke's use of this word: 8:3; 11:21; 12:15, 33, 44; 16:1; 19:8.

ei\nai (eimi) pres. inf. "be" - [is not able] to be. The infinitive is complementary, completing the negative verb "is not able."

mou gen. pro. "my" - [a disciple] of me. The genitive is adjectival, relational.


iv] Parabolic saying - worthless salt, v34-35. Matthew, in his use of the saying, 10:37-38, focuses on salt's potassium content as a fertiliser, while Luke has in mind its savouring quality. Either way, saltless salt is "useless either as a condiment, or as manure." In its present context, the image of "flat", degraded, polluted salt, is used to warn those invited into the kingdom of the consequences of failing the final selection process - it's the garbage tip / judgment if you find yourself locked out of the kingdom! A committed faith-reliance on / identification with the crucified Christ is the essential requirement for participation in the heavenly festivities. Jesus concludes with a call for careful consideration - "Are you listening to this? Really listening", Peterson.

oun "-" - therefore [salt is good]. Probably here transitional, serving a stitching role only, and therefore left untranslated, so NIV.

ean + subj. "if" - [but/and, and = even] if. Introducing a conditional clause, 3rd class, where the condition has a possibility of being realised; "if, as may be the case, the salt becomes tasteless, then with what will it be seasoned?" Here as rhetorical question.

mwryanqh/ (mwrainw) aor. subj. pas. "loses its saltiness" - should become foolish = saltless, tasteless. Lit. "make foolish", so "becomes insipid", Nolland; "tasteless", Marshall; "lose strength", TH.

en + dat. "[how can]" - in [what]. Instrumental, expressing means + the interrogative pronoun tivni, "what", giving the sense "by what means ....?"

artuqhsetai (artuw) fut. "be made salty again" - will it be seasoned, equipped, made ready. "If salt loses its flavour, what can restore it?" Phillips.


euqeton adj. "fit" - [it is] suitable. Predicate adjective.

oute .... oute "neither .... nor ..." - neither ....... nor ..... Forming a negated coordinate construction.

eiV + acc. "for" - to [soil, nor] to. Here expressing goal / purpose, as NIV. "It is useless, either for spreading on the land, or for throwing on the manure-heap", Barclay.

kopian (a) "the manure pile" - compost heap, manure pile [is it suitable, they throw out it]. "Manure-heap", Barclay; "dung-hill", Moffatt; possibly "no good as manure", Phillips; "it is neither directly, nor indirectly, useful as manure", Grundmann / TH.

oJ ecwn (ecw) "he who has" - the one having [ears]. The participle serves as a substantive, nominative subject of the verb "to hear."

akouein (akouw) pres. inf. "to hear" - to hear [let that one hear]. The infinitive is probably adverbial, final, expressing purpose, "he who has ears in order to hear.


Luke Introduction


Exegetical Commentaries


[Pumpkin Cottage]