Luke

14:1-14

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

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

iii] A churchman's dinner party. 14:1-24

a) Lessons on compassion, humility and generosity

Synopsis

The setting for this episode looks like a dinner provided for a visiting preacher by the local minister. It is quite possibly a setup with the sick man being placed before Jesus while the religious crew "carefully watched." Jesus heals the man who h\n uJdrwpikoV, "was suffering from dropsy", and then confronts the lawyers and Pharisees present with the question, "Is it lawful to cure people on the Sabbath, or not?" With the use of an illustration Jesus restores the Sabbath to its proper meaning, a meaning hidden behind a maze of scribal regulations. Using the same setting, Luke next records two teaching parables / illustrations on the subject of invitations to a dinner party.

 
Teaching

The episode titled the churchman's dinner party teaches that religious status-seekers will have no part in the kingdom of God.

 
Issues

i] Context: See 13:22-30. The churchman's dinner party, 14:1-24, is the third episode in a series of six which deal with the question, who will enter the kingdom? 13:22-16:13. The answer we get is that it is not the people we expect. The passage before us, Lessons on compassion, humility and generosity, is the first part of this third episode. The episode as a whole is made up of a healing, v1-6, two pieces of teaching (in the form of extended proverbs), v7-11 and 12-14, and a parable, v15-24.

 

ii] Structure: This episode, A churchman's dinner party, presents as follows:

The sabbath healing of a man with dropsy, v1-6;

A pronouncement story on true humility, v7-11:

Setting, v7;

Illustration, v8-10;

Saying, v11:

"those who exalts themselves will be humbled and those who .........."

Instruction on ideal hospitality, v12-14:

The parable of the excluded guests, v15-24.

 

iii] Interpretation:

Healing on the Sabbath: The gospels record a disproportionate number of conflict stories on the subject of Sabbath observance. It is clear that the religious authorities are focused on what they perceive as Jesus' lax observance of the Sabbath. Jesus may be a wonderful healer, but he can't be the messiah because he and his disciples do not keep the Sabbath. So, the authorities are forced to conclude that Jesus' heals in the power of Satan rather than God. Jesus constantly tries to force the Pharisees to recognize that there is a difference between divine Sabbath law and human regulations. To refrain from the struggle of making a living on the Sabbath is a joy, not a burden; it is a good to be celebrated in doing good, rather than suppressed in a maze of scribal regulations.

 

The pronouncement story, v7-11: This illustrative teaching parable, in the form of a piece of social etiquette, along with its concluding saying, serves to teach a lesson on humility. Israel is without humility and this because "a man given to casuistry is usually personally insecure .... status-seeking being the seal of his pettiness", Danker. In the last day such people will find themselves "humiliated", v11. It seems unlikely that this piece of social advice is "a parable about life in the kingdom of God", Nolland. Nor is it providing general advice for proper decorum at dinner parties. In fact, Jesus is more likely making the point that the religious elite of Israel are so infested by status-seeking that they are blind to how they should work a crowd - always take a lower seat so as to receive the recognition that goes with being publicly moved upward in the pecking order. Rightly Luke calls this advice parabolhn, "a parable", in that Jesus uses the illustration, not to indicate appropriate behavior for a believer, but rather to expose the sad condition of religious Israel - they seek the approval of man rather than God, but can't even get that right!

 

Teaching on the ideal of hospitality, v12-14: Luke's placement of this saying on generosity / hospitality serves to further expose the parlous state of self-righteous Israel. Religious Israel does not welcome / include the stranger within its gates and thus stands condemned, Ex.20:10, cf. Deut.14:29. Again we have an example of Jesus using the Law, not so much to promote righteous behavior, but rather to identify sin. At the day of judgment reward is due those who have acted rightly, in this case, those who have practiced generous hospitality. It is necessary for such hospitality to be offered to those who cannot return the favor, for there is no credit in reciprocal behavior. It is very likely that the only outcast invited to the dinner at the Pharisee's home was a man with dropsy, and he was only invited in an attempt to entrap Jesus. The Pharisee and his friends will not be included with the righteous at the day of judgment because they have not practiced generous hospitality. Of course, Given the exclusivity of our own Bar-B-Q's we are reminded that eternal reward for the practice of perfect hospitality is beyond our reach as well!!!! For this reason we need to stand in the shadow of Christ's hospitality, rest in his righteousness alone.

 

iv] Synoptics:

The Sabbath healing story is unique to Luke as is the pronouncement story and the teaching on the ideal of hospitality. The material is usually classified as L, a special Lukan source. Of course, the theme of humility is not unique to Luke.

 

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

 
Text - 14:1

Who enters the kingdom of God? - The forgiven sinner rather than the self-righteous, v1-24: i] The healing of the man with dropsy - the third recorded healing on the Sabbath by Luke, v1-6. The dinner was at the home of an important Pharisee who was a member of the Sanhedrin. The sick person brought before Jesus was most likely a plant. He had dropsy, an accumulation of fluid in the body which, at the time, was believed to be a venereal disease (a false association). Jesus supports the "correctness" of his healing on the Sabbath with a typically rabbinic argument. First, he asks (even answers their thoughts) whether it is permitted, under the law, to heal on the Sabbath - the word can also take the sense to serve, even to do good. The theologians present would obviously like to say "no", on the basis of their tradition, but the Old Testament scriptures are not so black and white on the issue. Jesus then asks, if it is right to pull an "ass or an ox" (RSV is better than NIV "a son or an ox") out of a well on the Sabbath, is it not also right to heal a sick person on the Sabbath? The lawyers and Pharisees present were simply unable to make a decent argument in response, so they don't answer. So again, Jesus demonstrates an understanding of the law which puts the Scribes and Pharisees to shame. For Jesus the law is summed up in love toward a neighbor, a love full of mercy and compassion. So, the righteousness of religious Israel are again exposed as inconsistent, legalistic and without compassion.

kai egeneto (ginomai) aor. "-" - and it came to pass. Used to introduce a new episode.

sabbatw/ (on) dat. "one Sabbath" - Sabbath. The dative is temporal; "on the Sabbath day."

en tw/ elqein (ercomai) aor. inf. "[Jesus] went" - This construction, the preposition en with the articular infinitive, usually forms a temporal clause; "after he/Jesus had gone into the house ............ to eat."

tinoV twn arcontwn Farisaiwn gen. "a prominent Pharisee" - of one/certain of the leaders of the Pharisees. The piling up of genitives is always problematic. The first, tinoV, "of a certain", is adjectival, possessive; the house belongs to this certain Pharisees. The second, twn arcontwn, "of the leaders", is adjectival, partitive; the certain Pharisee is one of the leading Pharisees in Palestine. The third genitive, twn Farisaiwn, "of the Pharisees", is adjectival, subordination; the certain Pharisee is one of the leaders who exercise authority over Pharisees in general. So, he is a hot-shot! "A leading churchman."

fagein (esqiw) aor. inf. "to eat" - The infinitive here forms a final (purpose) clause. This is why Jesus went to the Pharisee's home, he went "to share in a meal."

hsan parathroumenoi (parathrew) pres. part. "[he] was being carefully watched" - [they] were watching closely [him]. Periphrastic imperfect construction, possibly expressing durative action; "watched lurkingly",

 
v2

kai idou "-"- and behold. Indicating surprise and therefore, the unexpected presence of this man at the meal, either in his just arriving, or more likely, his being placed before Jesus to see if Jesus will break the Sabbath law regarding work (the work of healing).

uJdrwpikoV adj. "[a man] suffering from abnormal swelling" - [a certain man was] swelling. Predicate adjective. This particular man has dropsy, that is, fluid in his limbs, caused, for example, by a heart complaint. Jewish teachers associated it with sin of some kind, often a sexual sin.

 
v3

apakriqeiV (apokrinomai) pas. part. "[Jesus] asked" - [Jesus] answering [said ....... saying]. As with legwn, "saying", an attendant circumstance participle expressing action accompanying the main verb eipen, "spoke" - an unusual Semitic construction. Virtually redundant although indicating dialogue, as if Jesus is "answering" the thoughts of the experts in the law and the other Pharisees who were present.

exestin "is it lawful" - Impersonal verb which is read here as a question, "is it permitted ...?" The sense being, "is it permitted to serve / to do good on the Sabbath?" The churchmen can't say yes, as this would defy their traditions, but they know well that a good argument could be mounted from scripture to support a yes case. Added to this, they don't want to say no because they would prove themselves heartless, seeing they probably brought the sick person along to meet Jesus. So, they have set a trap for themselves.

qerapeusai (qerapeuw) aor. inf. "to heal" - to heal, serve. The infinitive serves as the subject of the verb "is lawful"; lit. "is to heal lawful on the Sabbath."

tw/ sabbatw/ (on) dat. "on the Sabbath" - Dative of time.

 
v4

hJsucasan (hJsucazw) "they remained silent" - they were silent. Fitzmyer notes that silence, in a legal setting, indicates tacit approval, but as noted above, they are in a corner and this is probably the reason why they don't speak.

epilabomenoV (epilambanomai) aor. mid. part. "so taking hold of [the man]" - having taken hold. The participle is adverbial, probably consecutive, expressing result, "so as a result", as NIV, but also possibly temporal, "then Jesus took hold of the man", Moffatt. This verb is not used elsewhere of Jesus healing someone, rather it is used of grabbing hold of someone. It has a very tactile sense to it, so Jesus has initiated some form of overt physical contact. The touch is probably for the churchmen's benefit.

 
v5

tinoV gen. pro. "if one" - [the son] of whom. The genitive is adjectival, relational. This pronoun introduces an interrogative clause which has two sub clauses, the second being the question proper. The Pharisees did understand that it was proper to relieve the immediate distress of someone on the Sabbath, even of an animal, although the Qumran community believed that such relief could only apply to a human.

uJmwn gen. pro. "of you" - The genitive is adjectival, partitive.

"has" - The verb must be supplied.

uiJoV ... onoV "son / child" - son .... ass. The textual variant "ass" certainly fits better and has strong Old Testament precedence, but a change from "son" to "ass" is more easily explained than from "ass" to "son".

tou sabbatou (on) gen. "[on the] Sabbath [day]" - The genitive is adjectival, attributive, limiting "day".

kai ouk "not" - and not. This particular negation is used to show that Jesus expects a positive answer. Anyone with any heart would help an animal in distress, so why not a sick person?

 
v6

antapokriqhnai (antapokrinomai) pas. inf. "[and they had nothing] to say" - [they were not able] to make a reply. The infinitive is complementary, completing the sense of the negated verb "able". "They could make no answer to the argument put by Jesus."

proV + acc. "-" - to [this]. Reference; "with respect to this (ie. what Jesus had just said)."

 
v7

ii] A pronouncement story - true humility, v7-11. In this little parable about social climbing, Jesus exposes the lost state of religious Israel through the example of the churchmen invited to the dinner. Jesus notes that they seek the approval of man rather than God, but then they can't even get that right. Better to take the lower seat and be called up higher, than the higher seat and be moved down lower. When it comes to working a crowd, the pretense of false humility gains more brownie-points than a push and shove move. Jesus concludes in v11 with a punch-line. Eternal significance is gained, not in the approval of men, but in the approval of God. Those who make themselves insignificant in the sight of God will find themselves in possession of eternal significance, and of course, visa-versa.

epecwn (epexw) pres. part. "when he noticed" - paying close attention to. The participle is adverbial, probably temporal, as NIV, but possibly causal; "because he noticed .."

pwV "how" - in what way. Here adverbial, expressing manner, although possibly indicating what they were doing, rather than the way they were doing it.

touV keklhmenouV (kalew) pas. part. "the guests" - the ones having been invited/called. The participle serves as a substantive.

exelegonto (eklegomai) mid. imperf. "picked" - they were choosing. The middle voice here is best rendered with a prepositional phrase "they were choosing for themselves". The imperfect is most likely conative, that is, the legalists were busy trying to get themselves into a favored position, but with varying success.

prwtoklisiaV (a) "the places of honor" - the head of the table, the first place at the meal, the seat of honor. The seat next to the host.

parabolhn (h) "[he told them this] parable" - [he was speaking to the ones having been invited] a parable. Teaching parables are often little more than illustrations used to make a point, so here "a little word of advice", Phillips - here that pride comes before a fall. The implication is that the churchmen demonstrate, by their actions, an inability to promote their own self-righteousness, let alone the righteousness that comes from God. Some commentators argue that the term "parable" always implies something more than advice, in which case they suggest that Jesus is speaking about how a person should approach God. This is unlikely.

legwn (legw) pres. part. "-" - saying [to them]. Attendant circumstance participle expressing action accompanying the verb elegen, "he was speaking."

 
v8

o{tan + subj. "when" - when [you are invited]. This construction forms an indefinite temporal clause.

uJpo + gen. "-" - by [someone]. Expressing agency.

gamouV (oV) "wedding feast" - banquet. Possibly a "wedding feast", but technically just a banqueting hall; "when you are invited by anyone to a feast", Torrey.

mh katakliqhV (kataklinw) aor. pas. subj. "take" - recline at the table = sit down. Subjunctive of prohibition.

mhpote + subj. "for" - lest, perhaps [a more honorable man has been invited]. Expressing negated purpose. Here best "perhaps" ie. "it may turn out that."

h/ keklhmenoV "may have been invited" - The subjunctive of the verb to-be with the perfect participle forms a perfect periphrastic construction saying nothing more than could have been said by a simple subjunctive verb; "in case a more distinguished guest than yourself has been invited", Moffatt.

 
v9

oJ .... kalesaV (kalew) aor. part. "the host who invited [both of you]" - the one having invited [you and him]. The participle functions as a substantive. "And he who invited you both will come and say to you", ESV.

elqwn (ercomai) aor. part. "will come [and say]" - having come. Attendant circumstance participle expressing action accompanying the verb "will say", "will come and say", as NIV.

soi dat. pro. "to you" - Dative of indirect object.

toutw/ dat. pro. "[give] this person [your seat]" - [give] to this one [place]. Dative of indirect object.

kai tote "then" - and then. Introducing a temporal clause, subsequent time; "and then you will begin, with shame, to occupy the lower place."

meta aiscunhV (h) "humiliated" - with shame. The preposition meta + gen. is adverbial, forming a modal phrase expressing manner. In the sense "to be shamed", rather than feel shame. Given that honored guests often arrive late, it is unwise to go for the more honored seat early, otherwise humiliation may follow. Honor was determined by social status, but by 300 AD it was determined by age.

katecein (katecw) pres. inf. "to take" - hold. The infinitive is complementary, completing the sense of the verb "you will begin". Here the sense is "to occupy."

escaton adj. "least" - last. This adjective is elative here, ie. a "lower" remaining seat, rather than the "last" seat.

 
v10

oJtan + subj. "when" - whenever. This construction forms an indefinite future temporal clause, although often translated with the more definite "when", as NIV. Subordinating conjunction introducing a subordinate clause dependent on the clause "take the lowest place." Given the nature of Jesus' sarcasm here, which is not overly evident, we may need to expand the opening clause: "when you are invited to a dinner party and you really what to make an impression on the guests (given the high opinion that you have of yourself), then take the lowest place ...."

poreuqeiV (poreuomai) aor. pas. part. "[take the lowest place]" - having gone [recline in the lowest place]. Attendant circumstance participle expressing action accompanying the imperative verb "recline"; "go and sit down at the foot of the table."

anapese (anapiptw) imp. "take" - recline = sit down.

iJna + subj. "so that" - This construction forms a purpose clause. "Take the lower seat with the intended purpose that you will be called higher." As already noted, Jesus' advice shows how to gain kudos in the eyes of others. He does this to show up the blind pride of the churchmen who are working hard at it, but failing. It's all about exposing them as "blind guides." If they can't even work out how to win favour in the sight of others, how can they work out how to win favor in the sight of God? Again, as already noted, it is very unwise to take Jesus' advice at face value, as if he is actually telling us how to play at humility.

oJ keklhkwV (kalew) perf. part. "host" - the one having invited. The participle serves as a substantive.

soi dat. "[will say] to you" - Dative of indirect object.

anwteron adv. "[move up] to a better place" - [move up] higher. The verb prosanabhqi, "move up", may have the sense of "come up", ie. the host is inviting the person to come up closer to him.

soi dat. pro. "you [will be honored]" - [glory will be] to you. Emphatic by position, dative of interest, advantage.

enwpion + gen. "in the presence of" - before. Spacial.

twn sunanakeimenwn (sunanakeimai) gen. pres. part. "all the other guests" - the ones reclining with. The participle serves as a substantive.

soi "-" - you. Dative of direct object after a sun prefix verb (here as a participle).

 
v11

This punch-line can be understood as nothing more than a piece of practical advice; "Everyone who promotes himself, will embarrass himself; but everyone who behaves modestly will be honored", Junkins. Yet, within a parabolic framework it seems more likely that Jesus is making the point that "the person who makes himself insignificant in the sight of God will find himself in possession of eternal importance." The context, particularly the parable of the excluded guests, 14:15-24, points us toward this second option.

oJti "for" - because. Often translated here as expressing cause/reason, as NIV, although Culy is surely right in taking it as epexegetic. The saying does not provide a reason for self-defacing social etiquette, "for / because ....", but rather explains the true nature of humility, a theological self-defacing before God in the recognition of sin and thus of the need for the divine grace of forgiveness.

oJ uJywn (uJyow) part. "[everyone] who exalts" - the one lifting up. The participle is adjectival, attributive, limiting "everyone". Here, in the sense of lifted up to a high station, exalted.

tapeinwqhsetai (tapeinow) fut. pas. "will be humbled" - will be leveled = humbled. The agent of the action is probably God in that we now have a proverb which has greater ramifications than just being humiliated at a dinner party. The proud, or more particularly the self-righteous, are blind to reality, even to the extent of not getting pride right. Better to "know thyself" and so, under God's mercy, be glorified rather than humiliated in the coming day of judgment.

oJ tapeinwn (pateinw) pres. part. "he who humbles [himself]" - the one humiliating, humbing [himself]. The participle serves as a substantive.

 
v12

iii] Teaching on the ideal of hospitality, v12-14. This passage, interpreted within the context of the churchman's dinner, further develops the judgement theme evident in v11. If these self-righteous "churchies" are to survive the day of judgement and "be raised at the resurrection of the righteous", they are going to have to handle the issue of hospitality a bit better than they have done so far. It's easy to invite a friend to dinner, but not so easy to invite an outcast like the "unclean" man with "dropsy." Since such a person can't repay the kindness, God will repay it. Generous hospitality toward the stranger fulfills the law and secures a person's righteous standing in the sight of God. Yet, where can we find such a generous person? These "churchies" certainly don't fit the bill; the man with dropsy was only invited in order to entrap Jesus. Obviously, they are like everyone else, sinners who face judgement. These churchmen, who had sought to demonstrate that Jesus didn't keep the law, now find themselves condemned. In typical fashion, Jesus has used the law to expose sin. Hopefully some of the guests got the message and turned to God for mercy.

tw/ keklhkoti (kalew) perf. part. "to his host" - to the one having invited, called. The participle serves as a substantive.

oJtan + subj. "when" - whenever. Forming a temporal clause, indefinite future, although translated with a definite "when", as NIV.

poihV (poiew) sub. "you give" - make. "When you hold an entertainment, a midday meal, or a dinner", Cassirer.

deipnon (on) "dinner" - an evening meal. The two meals here are likely to be the two main meals of the day - the late morning meal and the late afternoon meal.

mh fwnei (fwnew) pres. imp. "do not invite" - call, shout = invite. The present tense implies that the command urges activity as an ongoing process, although speech is often takes a durative aspect. As noted above, we have here a classic example of Jesus' use of an ideal, a perfect righteousness that exceeds that of the Scribes and Pharisees, a righteousness that cannot be done. Such a righteousness serves to undermine any attempt at self-righteousness, and so drives "he who humbles himself" to God for mercy to receive a righteousness that is given rather than earned. In this gift, the humble are "exalted". Note, as was the custom, a host invites those he likes, his relatives, and those he wants to network (gain something from). The ethic of reciprocity was dominant in the first century, as it is today.

mhpote + subj. "if you do" - lest, perhaps [they should invite in return and it becomes / you receive a payment to you]. The construction serves to form an indefinite negated purpose; "lest perhaps they should in turn invite you and so repay your hospitality", Weymouth.

antapodoma (a atoV) "repaid" - [and lest it be] repayment [to/for you]. A positive or negative recompense, here it is positive. It is "to you", soi, dative of interest, advantage. If a person was seeking divine approval / reward by practicing perfect hospitality they would need to show generosity toward those who were unable to repay it, otherwise the generosity offered in return by those able to give it would erase any divine generosity that may be due. The logic simply serves to expose the fraught nature of divine approval by means other than grace.

 
v13

all (alla) "but" - Strong adversative, as NIV; "instead of that", Barclay.

dochn (h) "banquet" - feast. "When you give a reception", Barclay.

ptwcouV (oV) "poor" - beggar = poor. A person who is socially disadvantaged due to limited resources, in fact, the list in this passage is of different types of socially disadvantaged people. The list appears again in v21 of the following parable.

 
v14

makarioV esh/ "you will be blessed" - Predicate adjective. "If you show no reciprocity in extending hospitality, you will be blessed." The blessing, given the context, is to be exalted in the sight of God, to be counted worthy of Him, so "that is the way to happiness", Barclay, is too light. To act in generosity toward the socially disadvantaged, without some selfish motivation, is, of course, impossible. None-the-less, the impossible is the required standard of faithfulness for a child of God. Thankfully, a believer is covered by the faithfulness of Christ.

oJti "although" - for, because. Expressing cause/reason, introducing a causal clause explaining why they will be blessed; "you will be blessed by God because they were not able to pay you back / bless you." For the logic of this argument see above.

antapodounai (antapodidwmi) aor. inf. "recompense" - to give back. The infinitive is complementary, completing the sense of the negated verb "they do not have = they are not able."

antapodoqhsetai (antapodidwmi) fut. pas. "you will be repaid" - it will be paid back. This verb has two prefixes indicating strength. God is the obvious agent.

en + dat. "at [the resurrection]" - on [the resurrection]. Temporal use of the preposition.

twn dikaiwn gen. adj. "of the righteous" - of the just one. The adjective serves as a substantive, with the genitive being verbal, objective. cf. Luke 20:35, Acts 17:32, 23:6, 24:15, with Dan.12:2-3 a particular Old Testament source. An appropriate term at this point given that the Pharisees believed in a resurrection of the righteous and the unrighteous, one to blessing and the other to cursing, ie. a resurrection to judgment enabling the separation of the righteous from the unrighteous.

 

Luke Introduction

Exposition

 

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