The mission of the Messiah, 1:5-9:50

4. The dawning of the kingdom in the acts of Messiah, 6:12-7:50

iii] Kingdom membership rests on faith alone - a Gentile's faith


A Centurion, whose servant is dying, sends some Jewish elders to Jesus to seek his help. As Jesus is on the way, the Centurion sends word that he feels unworthy to receive Jesus and so asks that he may just say the word of healing, "for I am a man set under authority." Jesus makes special note of the Centurion's faith, and of course, the servant is healed.


In this passage Luke recounts how an army captain's faith issues in the healing of his servant. For Luke, the story serves as a modal for a proper response to Jesus; "the issue is one of faith and the Centurion is his prize example", Danker.


i] Context: See 6:12-16. Ellis argues that the episodes which make up the The dawning of the kingdom in the acts of Messiah, 6:12-7:50, serve to reveal the nature of the kingdom. The sermon on the plain, 6:17-49, has clearly revealed that covenant inclusion rests on grace and not works of the law. Now, in the story of An Army Captain's Faith, 7:1-10, Luke establishes that the covenant, and thus kingdom membership, is accessed by faith, even the faith of Gentiles and prostitutes (cf. v36-50).


ii] Structure: This passage, Kingdom membership rests on faith alone, presents as follows:

Setting, v1;

A centurion seeks Jesus' help, v2-3;

Jewish officials vouch for him, v4-5;

The centurion suggests a word will do, v6-8;

Jesus' response, v9:

"I have not found such great faith even in Israel."

Healing, v10.


ii] Interpretation:

Although this episode is recorded in Matthew's gospel, Luke's account is much more detailed. The focus of the story is not the healing, but rather the faith of the army captain. He may well be a God-fearer, but he is a Gentile and this serves to reinforce the worth of his faith-response to Jesus, a fact noted by Jesus himself. Although the Jewish authorities call him a "worthy" man, he says of himself that he is "not worthy". For Luke, this response fits logically with the "law" of the Great Sermon, 6:32-42, which establishes that all have built their house on shifting sand and so face ruin, 6:49. In simple terms, although covenantal law establishes the direction of a lived-out faith, it primarily serves to expose a person's state of sin/loss and thus their necessary dependence on grace alone, 6:17-31. So, this story defines the means by which we can access that grace, namely faith in Christ.


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

Text - 7:1

The healing of the Centurion's sevant, 7:1-10. i] Setting, v1: Jesus has just concluded the Great Sermon, a sermon which serves to renew the covenant, and so it is appropriate for Luke to record a miracle-story which emphasizes the basis of covenant inclusion, namely faith. Leaving the countryside Jesus enters Capernaum.

epeidh "when" - This conjunction is normally causal, "because", and is used to introduce a causal clause. The sense here is most likely temporal, although the temporal conjunction epei would normally be used instead of epeidh. The variant epei de exists, "but when he finished all his words.""When he had concluded his sermon."

autou gen. "-" - [all the words] of him. The genitive may be: verbal, subjective; adjectival, possessive; ablative, source/origin. Expressing the idea "when he had finished everything he wanted to say."

eiV + acc. "in [the hearing]" - to [the ears]. Locative. Here expressing direction; "when Jesus had finished telling the people what he wanted them to hear", Barclay.

tou laou (oV) gen. "of the people / to the people [who were listening]. The genitive is adjectival, possessive; "the people's ears", although taking "ears" as "hearing", a verbal genitive, subjective, classification is possible.


ii] A centurion seeks Jesus' help, v2-3: Living in Capernaum, at the time, was a Gentile centurion, an army captain in charge of 100 men. He is probably in the employ of Herod Antipas, the king of Galilee and Peraea. One of his servants, someone he highly regarded, is close to death. So, when he hears that Jesus is in town he sends a delegation of leading Jewish citizens to him to plead his cause.

ekatontarcou (hV ou) gen. "a centurion's [servant]" - [a slave] of a centurion. The genitive is adjectival, possessive. A person in the employ of Herod Antipas in charge of 100 men, either a mercenary soldier, tax soldier, or policeman, cf. Fitzmyer.

autw/ dat. pro. "[whom his master]" - [who was highly regarded] to him. The dative is adverbial, of reference/respect; "valued with regard to him / the master." "Who was highly regarded as far as the centurion was concerned."

entimoV adj. "valued highly" - precious. The sense is unclear, either "valuable" in the sense of monetary value, or "esteemed / honored / respected / dear".

ecwn (ecw) pres. part. "was [sick]" - having [badly]. The participle is adjectival, attributive, limiting "servant/slave"; "a certain centurion had a servant who was ill."

teleutan (teleutaw) pres. inf. "[and about] to die" - [was about] to die. The infinitive is complementary, completing the sense of the imperf. verb "was about". "Was on the point of dying and would have done so without intervention", Plummer. "Whose slave was so ill there was no hope of recovery", Barclay.


de "-" - but, and. Here used to indicate the next step in the narrative. This conjunction is commonly transitional and untranslated.

akousaV (akouw) aor. part. "heard" - having herd. The participle is adverbial, possibly temporal; "when the captain heard about Jesus", Moffatt. Obviously the captain has heard of Jesus' reputation as a miracle worker.

peri + gen. "of [Jesus]" - Expressing reference / respect; "having heard about Jesus."

twn Ioudaiwn (oV) gen. "[some elders] of the Jews" - The genitive is adjectival, attributive; "Jewish elders." Given that "elders" is without an article, "some" is intended. Possibly members of the Sanhedrin in Jerusalem is implied, or just "leading citizens", Plummer, Ellis.

erwtwn (erwtaw) pres. part. "asking [him]" - asking, beseeching. The participle is adverbial, final, expressing purpose, "he sent .... in order to ask ...."

oJpwV + subj. "to" - so that [coming he may bring safely through = heal]. This construction, o{pwV + subj, would normally form a final clause expressing purpose; "in order that he might save his slave's life", but as with pwV it can take the role of iJna + subj, or oJti and form and object clause / dependent statement, here of indirect speech; "in order to ask him that he might come and heal his servant."

elqwn (ercomai) aor. part. "to come" - having come. Attendant circumstance participle expressing action accompanying the verb "may heal"; "that he may come and heal."


iii] Jewish officials vouch for him, v4-5: When the Jewish officials get to Jesus they tell him how worthy the captain is of his help. The captain obviously favours the Jewish faith, is possibly even a God-fearer, an associate member of the local synagogue, although not a full member. He had even paid for the construction of the local synagogue. So, the captain is a godly man of independent means.

oiJ .... paragenomenoi (paraginomai) aor. part. "when they came [to Jesus]" - [and] the ones having come. The participle, with the article, most likely functions as a substantive, but many translators treat it as adverbial, temporal, with the article referencing the elders; "and they, when they came to Jesus", Weymouth.

legonteV (legw) pres. part. "-" - [were begging him earnestly] saying. Attendant circumstance participle; "begged him and said.

oJti "-" - that. Introducing a dependent statement, direct speech, expressing what they were "saying".

axioV adj. "deserves" - [he is] worthy. Predicate adjective, stating a fact about the captain; "this man is worthy." The captain is highly regarded presumably because he "respected Jewish customs", Fitzmyer.

w\/ dat. pro. "-" - to whom [you will grant this]. Dative of interest, advantage. Introducing a relative clause which is classed as a qualitative-consecutive relative viewed by linguists as a latinism, BDF 5[3b], 379; "this man is worthy so that this request should be granted him", Bock.


gar "because" - for. Expressing cause/reason; introducing a causal clause explaining why Jesus should act to heal the officer's servant.

agapa/ (agapaw) pres. "he loves" - The present tense is durative expressing a permanent attitude. Plummer notes that if he were a God-fearer then Luke would have used "he loves our God", but this is a bit of a stretch. He is probably not a proselyte, but is certainly a Gentile who respects Israel and its customs, even to the extent of building a synagogue for the local Jewish community. This indicates that the captain is a person of substance since a captain's wage was not that outstanding. "For a centurion to have sufficient wealth for such benevolence is surprising", Nolland.


iv] The centurion's faith, v6-8: As Jesus sets out to meet the request, the captain sends word that he really didn't expect Jesus, a Jewish rabbi, to come into his home, the home of a Gentile. The members of the delegation may think he is "worthy", but he knows he is not. He didn't even think it was appropriate to approach Jesus on the matter, which is why he had sent a delegation to him. As a man of authority, the captain is well acquainted with giving commands and therefore he expects nothing more of Jesus than a healing command.

de "so" - and. Here an uncommon use where this conjunction expresses a summary statement, "and so, accordingly".

sun + dat. "with [them]" - Expressing association.

hdh "-" - now, already. "And when he was now not far from the house", AV.

ou ... apecontoV (apecomai) gen. pres. part. "not far" - not [far] distant. Genitive absolute participle usually translated as a temporal clause, as AV above.

apo + gen. "from [the house]" - Expressing separation; "away from."

legwn (legw) pres. part. "to say" - saying. The participle agrees with "centurion", not "friends", and so is virtually attendant circumstance; "the centurion sent .... and said." The words belong to the centurion, not the friends, the friends but relay the centurion's words, giving the sense "the centurion sent friends with a message (saying) to him." The participle could also be treated as adverbial, final, expressing purpose; "the captain sent some friends in order to tell him." Either way, the participle leads into a dependent statement of direct speech, ie. the Gk. is expressed as if the centurion was speaking, as NIV. For ease of expression the participle may just treated as a finite verb; "'Do not put thyself to any trouble, Lord', he said", Knox. "The centurion sent some friends with a message to him", Barclay.

autw/ dat. pro. "to him" - Dative of indirect object.

kurie "Lord" - Possibly just "Sir", but more likely "Lord" indicating an awareness of Jesus' person.

gar "for" - for. Expressing cause/reason; introducing a causal clause explaining why the centurion thinks that the Lord has no need to trouble himself.

ou .. ikanoV eimi "I do not deserve" - I am not worthy - Possibly because he is a Gentile, but "more probably it reflects his high estimate of Jesus", Ellis.

iJna + subj. "to [have you come]" - that [you should enter]. The construction here functions as an epexegetic infinitive explaining / completing the adjective "worthy"; "I am not worthy that you should come under my roof." Jesus being a Jew, the captain "does not want to expose an eminent person like Jesus to undue criticism", Danker.

uJpo + acc. "under [my roof]" - Spacial; "below, under." "I am not fit to have you come into my house", Barclay.


oude "-" - nor, neither, [therefore, did I consider myself worthy to come to you]. The clause serves to emphasize the captain's unworthiness. Not only is he unworthy of a visit from Jesus, he is unworthy of visiting Jesus, which is why he has made contact with Jesus through the local elders.

dio "that is why" - therefore. Inferential

oude .. hxiwsa (axiow) aor. "I did not consider [myself] worthy" - I did not considered worthy; "I did not consider myself fit", Moffatt.

elqein (ercomai) aor. inf. "to come [to you]" - The infinitive probably parallels the hina clause in v6, so is epexegetic explaining in what sense the captain is not worthy; "not fit even to approach you."

alla "but" - but, and. Adversative, as NIV.

logw/ (oV) dat. "the word" - a word. The dative is either local or instrumental, "say in/by a single word." Not only does the captain believe that Jesus can heal his servant, but he can do it with a single word, iaqhtw, "let be healed", and this from a distance. It is for this reason Jesus declares that the captain has "great faith".

oJ paiV "[my] servant" - child, son. Obviously he is a "servant", but possibly a young one.

iaqhtw (iaomai) aor. pas. imp. "will be healed" - let be healed. The use of the imperative here reflects the actual word the captain wants Jesus to utter, so "say the word [`be healed / let him be healed'] and my servant will be healed." A variant future does actually exist, iaqhsetai, although is unlikely to be original, cf. Metzger. Zerwick suggests that the two imperatives eipe and iaqhtw together express Hebraic idiom giving the sense "say ... so that he may be healed." The kai "and", may well support a consecutive sense, "and so ...." ("conditional", Marshall, ??).


gar "for" - Expressing cause/reason; introducing a causal clause explaining why Jesus need only say the word.

kai "-" and. Either emphatic, or adjunctive; "for indeed", or "for I am also ...", Evans.

anqrwpoV (oV) "a man" - Possibly "a man" in a general sense so "a person", Plummer; "I am someone ..."

tassomenoV (tassw) pres. pas. part. "-" - being appointed, placed. The participle is adjectival, attributive, limiting "man"; "I am a man who is put/placed under authority." The present tense is durative giving the translation offered by Phillips below. A concessive adverbial sense is also possible; "although I am a man under authority I have soldiers under me", Marshall.

uJpo acc. "under [authority]" - under. Expressing subordination, "under"; "I am used to working under orders", Phillips.

ecwn (ecw) pres. part. "with [soldiers under me]" - having [soldiers under myself]. The participle is again adjectival, attributive, limiting "man", "a man who has soldiers under him."

toutw/ (ouJtoV) pro. "this one" - he, this one. Dative of indirect object; "I say to this one." The force of the demonstrative pronoun is lost, so "to someone".

poreuqhti kai poreuetai "'go,' and he goes" - The imperative "go" is aorist and the ind. "he goes" is present, but this does not imply a time difference, but rather relates to aspect. The command is punctiliar and presupposes the durative response; "when I say .... 'go,' ... he goes", TH. The captain is making a minor-to-major comparison. "Surely if he, as a member of the government's army, is obeyed, so also the spiritual forces that are subject to Jesus will obey his word", Bock.


v] Jesus' response, v9: Jesus is astonished. From his own kith and kin some have struggled to put their faith in him, but for most it is amazement, doubt or unbelief. "I have yet to meet a person in all of Palestine with a faith such as this."

akousaV (akouw) aor. part. "when [Jesus] heard [this]" - [and Jesus] having heard [these things]. The participle is adverbial, temporal.

eqaumasen (qoumazw) aor. "he was amazed" - was amazed, marvelled, wondered. Not an expression of admiration, but like the crowds faced with Jesus' miracles a response of surprised wonderment; "Jesus was astonished to hear this", Barclay.

strafeiV (strefw) aor. pas. part. "turning" - having turned. Attendant circumstance participle expressing action accompanying the verb "he said"; "he turned .... and said." Such "turning" in Luke serves to describe Jesus focusing his attention on an individual or group.

tw/ .... oclw/ (oV) "to the crowd" - Probably best classified as a dative of direct object where "turned and said" serves as a verbal phrase, the words said serve as the object, and "to the crowd" the indirect object.

akalouqounti (akolouqew) dat. pres. part. "following" - The participle is adjectival, attributive, limiting "crowd"; "the crowd which followed."

autw/ dat. pro. "him" - Dative of direct object.

legw uJmin "I tell you" - Serving to emphasize the following words.

tosauthn pro. "such great [faith]" - so much, so great. Obviously here in a qualitative sense and referring to a reliance (faith) on Jesus' power and authority; "have I found a faith such as this", Cassirer.

en + dat. "in [Israel]" - Expressing space/sphere; not throughout Israel, probably geographical Israel = "in all the land of Israel."


vi] The healing, v10: On returning to the captain's home the delegation finds the servant with new-found health.

uJpostreyanteV (uJpostrefw) aor. part. "then ... returned" - having returned. The participle is adverbial, temporal, as NIV; "when those who had been sent returned to the house", ESV.

oiJ pemfqenteV (pempw) aor. pas. part. "the men who had been sent" - the ones having been sent. The participle functions as a substantive.

uJgiainonta (uJgiainw) pres. part. "[found the servant] well" - [found the slave] being healthy, sound. The participle serves as an object complement stating a fact about the object "servant"; "they found the servant healthy / with new-found health". As already noted, the story does not concentrate on the cure itself, but on the pronouncement made by Jesus as regard the captain's faith.


Luke Introduction



[Pumpkin Cottage]