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Luke 20

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The Authority of Jesus

20:1 Now one 1  day, as Jesus 2  was teaching the people in the temple courts 3  and proclaiming 4  the gospel, the chief priests and the experts in the law 5  with the elders came up 6  20:2 and said to him, 7  “Tell us: By what authority 8  are you doing these things? 9  Or who it is who gave you this authority?” 20:3 He answered them, 10  “I will also ask you a question, and you tell me: 20:4 John’s baptism 11  – was it from heaven or from people?” 12  20:5 So 13  they discussed it with one another, saying, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will say, ‘Why did you not believe him?’ 20:6 But if we say, ‘From people,’ all the people will stone us, because they are convinced that John was a prophet.” 20:7 So 14  they replied that they did not know 15  where it came from. 20:8 Then 16  Jesus said to them, “Neither will I tell you 17  by whose authority 18  I do these things.”

The Parable of the Tenants

20:9 Then 19  he began to tell the people this parable: “A man 20  planted a vineyard, 21  leased it to tenant farmers, 22  and went on a journey for a long time. 20:10 When harvest time came, he sent a slave 23  to the tenants so that they would give 24  him his portion of the crop. 25  However, the tenants beat his slave 26  and sent him away empty-handed. 20:11 So 27  he sent another slave. They beat this one too, treated him outrageously, and sent him away empty-handed. 28  20:12 So 29  he sent still a third. They even wounded this one, and threw him out. 20:13 Then 30  the owner of the vineyard said, ‘What should I do? I will send my one dear son; 31  perhaps they will respect him.’ 20:14 But when the tenants saw him, they said to one another, ‘This is the heir; let’s kill him so the inheritance will be ours!’ 20:15 So 32  they threw him out of the vineyard and killed 33  him. What then will the owner of the vineyard do to them? 20:16 He will come and destroy 34  those tenants and give the vineyard to others.” 35  When the people 36  heard this, they said, “May this never happen!” 37  20:17 But Jesus 38  looked straight at them and said, “Then what is the meaning of that which is written: ‘The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone’? 39  20:18 Everyone who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces, 40  and the one on whom it falls will be crushed.” 41  20:19 Then 42  the experts in the law 43  and the chief priests wanted to arrest 44  him that very hour, because they realized he had told this parable against them. But 45  they were afraid of the people.

Paying Taxes to Caesar

20:20 Then 46  they watched him carefully and sent spies who pretended to be sincere. 47  They wanted to take advantage of what he might say 48  so that they could deliver him up to the authority and jurisdiction 49  of the governor. 20:21 Thus 50  they asked him, “Teacher, we know that you speak and teach correctly, 51  and show no partiality, but teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. 52  20:22 Is it right 53  for us to pay the tribute tax 54  to Caesar 55  or not?” 20:23 But Jesus 56  perceived their deceit 57  and said to them, 20:24 “Show me a denarius. 58  Whose image 59  and inscription are on it?” 60  They said, “Caesar’s.” 20:25 So 61  he said to them, “Then give to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” 62  20:26 Thus 63  they were unable in the presence of the people to trap 64  him with his own words. 65  And stunned 66  by his answer, they fell silent.

Marriage and the Resurrection

20:27 Now some Sadducees 67  (who contend that there is no resurrection) 68  came to him. 20:28 They asked him, 69  “Teacher, Moses wrote for us that if a man’s brother dies leaving a wife but no children, that man 70  must marry 71  the widow and father children 72  for his brother. 73  20:29 Now there were seven brothers. The first one married a woman 74  and died without children. 20:30 The second 75  20:31 and then the third married her, and in this same way all seven died, leaving no children. 20:32 Finally the woman died too. 20:33 In the resurrection, therefore, whose wife will the woman be? 76  For all seven had married her.” 77 

20:34 So 78  Jesus said to them, “The people of this age 79  marry and are given in marriage. 20:35 But those who are regarded as worthy to share in 80  that age and in the resurrection from the dead neither marry nor are given in marriage. 81  20:36 In fact, they can no longer die, because they are equal to angels 82  and are sons of God, since they are 83  sons 84  of the resurrection. 20:37 But even Moses revealed that the dead are raised 85  in the passage about the bush, 86  where he calls the Lord the God of Abraham and the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob. 87  20:38 Now he is not God of the dead, but of the living, 88  for all live before him.” 89  20:39 Then 90  some of the experts in the law 91  answered, “Teacher, you have spoken well!” 92  20:40 For they did not dare any longer to ask 93  him anything.

The Messiah: David’s Son and Lord

20:41 But 94  he said to them, “How is it that they say that the Christ 95  is David’s son? 96  20:42 For David himself says in the book of Psalms,

The Lord said to my 97  lord,

Sit at my right hand,

20:43 until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet.”’ 98 

20:44 If David then calls him ‘Lord,’ how can he be his son?” 99 

Jesus Warns the Disciples against Pride

20:45 As 100  all the people were listening, Jesus 101  said to his disciples, 20:46 “Beware 102  of the experts in the law. 103  They 104  like walking around in long robes, and they love elaborate greetings 105  in the marketplaces and the best seats 106  in the synagogues 107  and the places of honor at banquets. 20:47 They 108  devour 109  widows’ property, 110  and as a show make long prayers. They will receive a more severe punishment.”

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1 tn Grk “Now it happened that one.” The introductory phrase ἐγένετο (egeneto, “it happened that”), common in Luke (69 times) and Acts (54 times), is redundant in contemporary English and has not been translated. Here καί (kai) has been translated as “now” to indicate the transition to a new topic.

2 tn Grk “he”; the referent (Jesus) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

3 tn Grk “the temple.”

4 tn Or “preaching.”

5 tn Or “and the scribes.” See the note on the phrase “experts in the law” in 5:21.

6 sn The chief priests and the experts in the law with the elders came up. The description is similar to Luke 19:47. The leaders are really watching Jesus at this point.

7 tn Grk “and said, saying to him.” This is redundant in English and has been simplified in the translation.

8 tn On this phrase, see BDAG 844 s.v. ποῖος 2.a.γ.

9 sn The leadership is looking back to acts like the temple cleansing (19:45-48). How could a Galilean preacher do these things?

10 tn Grk “answering, he said to them.” This is redundant in English and has been simplified in the translation.

11 sn John, like Jesus, was not a part of the official rabbinic order. So the question “John’s baptism – was it from heaven or from men?” draws an analogy between John the Baptist and Jesus. See Luke 3:1-20; 7:24-27. The phrase John’s baptism refers to the baptism practiced by John.

12 tn The plural Greek term ἀνθρώπων (anqrwpwn) is used here (and in v. 6) in a generic sense, referring to both men and women (cf. NAB, NRSV, “of human origin”; TEV, “from human beings”; NLT, “merely human”).

sn The question is whether John’s ministry was of divine or human origin.

13 tn Here δέ (de) has been translated as “so” to indicate the implied result of Jesus’ question.

14 tn Here καί (kai) has been translated as “so” to indicate the implied result of the dilemma Jesus’ opponents faced.

15 sn Very few questions could have so completely revealed the wicked intentions of the religious leaders. Jesus’ question revealed the motivation of the religious leaders and exposed them for what they really were – hypocrites. They indicted themselves when they cited only two options and chose neither of them. The point of Luke 20:1-8 is that no matter what Jesus said in response to their question they were not going to believe it and would in the end use it against him.

16 tn Here καί (kai) has been translated as “then” to indicate the implied sequence of events within the narrative.

17 sn Neither will I tell you. Though Jesus gave no answer, the analogy he used to their own question makes his view clear. His authority came from heaven.

18 tn On this phrase, see BDAG 844 s.v. ποῖος 2.a.γ. This is exactly the same phrase as in v. 2.

19 tn Here δέ (de) has been translated as “then” to indicate the implied sequence of events within the narrative. The parable Jesus tells here actually addresses the question put to him by the leaders.

20 tc ‡ There are several variants here, most of which involve variations in word order that do not affect translation. However, the presence or absence of τις (ti") after ἄνθρωπος (anqrwpo"), which would be translated “a certain man,” does affect translation. The witnesses that have τις include A W Θ Ë13 1241 2542 al sy. Those that lack it include א B C D L Ψ Ë1 33 Ï it. Externally, the evidence is significantly stronger for the omission. Internally, however, there is some pause. A feature unique to Luke-Acts in the NT is to use the construction ἄνθρωπος τις (cf. 10:30; 12:16; 14:2, 16; 15:11; 16:1; 19:12; Acts 9:33). However, scribes who were familiar with this idiom may have inserted it here. In light of the overwhelming external support for the omission of τις, the shorter reading is preferred. NA27 places τις in brackets, indicating some doubts as to its authenticity.

21 sn The vineyard is a figure for Israel in the OT (Isa 5:1-7). The nation and its leaders are the tenants, so the vineyard here may well refer to the promise that resides within the nation. The imagery is like that in Rom 11:11-24.

22 sn The leasing of land to tenant farmers was common in this period.

23 sn This slave (along with the next two) represent the prophets God sent to the nation, who were mistreated and rejected.

24 tc Instead of the future indicative δώσουσιν (dwsousin, “they will give”), most witnesses (C D W Θ Ψ Ë1 Ï) have the aorist subjunctive δῶσιν (dwsin, “they might give”). The aorist subjunctive is expected following ἵνα ({ina, “so that”), so it is almost surely a motivated reading. Further, early and excellent witnesses, as well as a few others (א A B Ë13 33 579 1241 2542 al), have δώσουσιν. It is thus more likely that the future indicative is authentic. For a discussion of this construction, see BDF §369.2.

25 tn Grk “from the fruit of the vineyard.”

26 tn Grk “him”; the referent (the slave sent by the owner) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

sn The image of the tenants beating up the owner’s slave pictures the nation’s rejection of the prophets and their message.

27 tn Here καί (kai) has been translated as “so” to indicate the implied result of the tenants’ mistreatment of the first slave.

28 sn The slaves being sent empty-handed suggests that the vineyard was not producing any fruit – and thus neither was the nation of Israel.

29 tn Here καί (kai) has been translated as “so” to indicate the implied result of the tenants’ mistreatment of the first two slaves.

30 tn Here δέ (de) has been translated as “then” to indicate the implied sequence of events within the narrative.

31 tn Grk “my beloved son.” See comment at Luke 3:22.

sn The owner’s decision to send his one dear son represents God sending Jesus.

32 tn Here καί (kai) has been translated as “so” to indicate the implied result of the tenants’ decision to kill the son.

33 sn Throwing the heir out of the vineyard pictures Jesus’ death outside of Jerusalem.

34 sn The statement that the owner will come and destroy those tenants is a promise of judgment; see Luke 13:34-35; 19:41-44.

35 sn The warning that the owner would give the vineyard to others suggests that the care of the promise and the nation’s hope would be passed to others. This eventually looks to Gentile inclusion; see Eph 2:11-22.

36 tn Grk “they”; the referent (the people addressed in v. 9) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

37 sn May this never happen! Jesus’ audience got the point and did not want to consider a story where the nation would suffer judgment.

38 tn Grk “he”; the referent (Jesus) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

39 tn Or “capstone,” “keystone.” Although these meanings are lexically possible, the imagery in Eph 2:20-22 and 1 Cor 3:11 indicates that the term κεφαλὴ γωνίας (kefalh gwnia") refers to a cornerstone, not a capstone.

sn The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone. The use of Ps 118:22-23 and the “stone imagery” as a reference to Christ and his suffering and exaltation is common in the NT (see also Matt 21:42; Mark 12:10; Acts 4:11; 1 Pet 2:6-8; cf. also Eph 2:20). The irony in the use of Ps 118:22-23 here is that in the OT, Israel was the one rejected (or perhaps her king) by the Gentiles, but in the NT it is Jesus who is rejected by Israel.

40 tn On this term, see BDAG 972 s.v. συνθλάω.

41 tn Grk “on whomever it falls, it will crush him.”

sn This proverb basically means that the stone crushes, without regard to whether it falls on someone or someone falls on it. On the stone as a messianic image, see Isa 28:16 and Dan 2:44-45.

42 tn Here καί (kai) has been translated as “then” to indicate the implied sequence of events within the narrative.

43 tn Or “The scribes” See the note on the phrase “experts in the law” in 5:21.

44 tn Grk “tried to lay hands on him.”

45 tn Here καί (kai) has been translated as “but” to indicate the contrast present in this context.

46 tn Here καί (kai) has been translated as “then” to indicate the implied sequence of events within the narrative.

47 tn Grk “righteous,” but in this context the point is their false sincerity.

48 tn Grk “so that they might catch him in some word.”

49 tn This word is often translated “authority” in other contexts, but here, in combination with ἀρχή (arch), it refers to the domain or sphere of the governor’s rule (L&N 37.36).

50 tn Here καί (kai) has been translated as “thus” to indicate the implied result of the plans by the spies.

51 tn Or “precisely”; Grk “rightly.” Jesus teaches exactly, the straight and narrow.

52 sn Teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. Very few comments are as deceitful as this one; they did not really believe this at all. The question was specifically designed to trap Jesus.

53 tn Or “lawful,” that is, in accordance with God’s divine law. On the syntax of ἔξεστιν (exestin) with an infinitive and accusative, see BDF §409.3.

54 tn This was a “poll tax.” L&N 57.182 states this was “a payment made by the people of one nation to another, with the implication that this is a symbol of submission and dependence – ‘tribute tax.’”

55 tn Or “to the emperor” (“Caesar” is a title for the Roman emperor).

56 tn Grk “he”; the referent (Jesus) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

57 tn Or “craftiness.” The term always has negative connotations in the NT (1 Cor 3:19; 2 Cor 4:2; 11:3; Eph 4:14).

58 tn Here the specific name of the coin was retained in the translation, because not all coins in circulation in Palestine at the time carried the image of Caesar. In other places δηνάριον (dhnarion) has been translated simply as “silver coin” with an explanatory note.

sn A denarius was a silver coin worth approximately one day’s wage for a laborer. The fact that the leaders had such a coin showed that they already operated in the economic world of Rome. The denarius would have had a picture of Tiberius Caesar, the Roman emperor, on it.

59 tn Or “whose likeness.”

sn In this passage Jesus points to the image (Grk εἰκών, eikwn) of Caesar on the coin. This same Greek word is used in Gen 1:26 (LXX) to state that humanity is made in the “image” of God. Jesus is making a subtle yet powerful contrast: Caesar’s image is on the denarius, so he can lay claim to money through taxation, but God’s image is on humanity, so he can lay claim to each individual life.

60 tn Grk “whose likeness and inscription does it have?”

61 tn Here δέ (de) has been translated as “so” to indicate that Jesus’ pronouncement results from the opponents’ answer to his question.

62 sn Jesus’ answer to give to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and to God the things that are God’s was a both/and, not the questioners’ either/or. So he slipped out of their trap.

63 tn Here καί (kai) has been translated as “thus” to indicate the implied result of Jesus’ unexpected answer.

64 tn On this term, see BDAG 374 s.v. ἐπιλαμβάνομαι 3.

65 tn Grk “to trap him in a saying.”

66 tn Or “amazed.”

67 sn The Sadducees controlled the official political structures of Judaism at this time, being the majority members of the Sanhedrin. They were known as extremely strict on law and order issues (Josephus, J. W. 2.8.2 [2.119], 2.8.14 [2.164-166]; Ant. 13.5.9 [13.171-173], 13.10.6 [13.293-298], 18.1.2 [18.11], 18.1.4 [18.16-17], 20.9.1 [20.199]; Life 2 [10-11]). They also did not believe in resurrection or in angels, an important detail in v. 36. See also Matt 3:7, 16:1-12, 22:23-34; Mark 12:18-27; Acts 4:1, 5:17, 23:6-8.

68 sn This remark is best regarded as a parenthetical note by the author.

69 tn Grk “asked him, saying.” The participle λέγοντες (legontes) is redundant in contemporary English and has not been translated.

70 tn Grk “his brother”; but this would be redundant in English with the same phrase “his brother” at the end of the verse, so most modern translations render this phrase “the man” (so NIV, NRSV).

71 tn The use of ἵνα (Jina) with imperatival force is unusual (BDF §470.1).

72 tn Grk “and raise up seed,” an idiom for procreating children (L&N 23.59).

73 sn A quotation from Deut 25:5. Because the OT quotation does not include “a wife” as the object of the verb, it has been left as normal type. This practice is called levirate marriage (see also Ruth 4:1-12; Mishnah, m. Yevamot; Josephus, Ant. 4.8.23 [4.254-256]). The levirate law is described in Deut 25:5-10. The brother of a man who died without a son had an obligation to marry his brother’s widow. This served several purposes: It provided for the widow in a society where a widow with no children to care for her would be reduced to begging, and it preserved the name of the deceased, who would be regarded as the legal father of the first son produced from that marriage.

74 tn Grk “took a wife” (an idiom for marrying a woman).

75 tc Most mss (A W Θ Ψ Ë1,13 33 Ï lat) have the words, “took the wife and this one died childless” after “the second.” But this looks like a clarifying addition, assimilating the text to Mark 12:21. In light of the early and diverse witnesses that lack the expression (א B D L 0266 892 1241 co), the shorter reading should be considered authentic.

76 sn The point is a dilemma. In a world arguing a person should have one wife, whose wife will she be in the afterlife? The question was designed to show that (in the opinion of the Sadducees) resurrection leads to a major problem.

77 tn Grk “For the seven had her as wife.”

78 tn Here καί (kai) has been translated as “so” to indicate that Jesus’ response is a result of their framing of the question.

79 tn Grk “sons of this age” (an idiom, see L&N 11.16). The following clause which refers to being “given in marriage” suggests both men and women are included in this phrase.

80 tn Grk “to attain to.”

81 sn Life in the age to come is different than life here (they neither marry nor are given in marriage). This means Jesus’ questioners had made a false assumption that life was the same both now and in the age to come.

82 sn Angels do not die, nor do they eat according to Jewish tradition (1 En. 15:6; 51:4; Wis 5:5; 2 Bar. 51:10; 1QH 3.21-23).

83 tn Grk “sons of God, being.” The participle ὄντες (ontes) has been translated as a causal adverbial participle here.

84 tn Or “people.” The noun υἱός (Juios) followed by the genitive of class or kind (“sons of…”) denotes a person of a class or kind, specified by the following genitive construction. This Semitic idiom is frequent in the NT (L&N 9.4).

85 tn Grk “But that the dead are raised even Moses revealed.”

86 sn See Exod 3:6. Jesus used a common form of rabbinic citation here to refer to the passage in question.

87 sn A quotation from Exod 3:6.

88 sn He is not God of the dead but of the living. Jesus’ point was that if God could identify himself as God of the three old patriarchs, then they must still be alive when God spoke to Moses; and so they must be raised.

89 tn On this syntax, see BDF §192. The point is that all live “to” God or “before” God.

90 tn Here δέ (de) has been translated as “then” to indicate the implied sequence of events within the narrative.

91 tn Or “some of the scribes.” See the note on the phrase “experts in the law” in 5:21.

92 sn Teacher, you have spoken well! The scribes, being Pharisees, were happy for the defense of resurrection and angels, which they (unlike the Sadducees) believed in.

93 sn The attempt to show Jesus as ignorant had left the experts silenced. At this point they did not dare any longer to ask him anything.

94 sn If the religious leaders will not dare to question Jesus any longer, then he will question them.

95 tn Or “Messiah”; both “Christ” (Greek) and “Messiah” (Hebrew and Aramaic) mean “one who has been anointed.”

sn See the note on Christ in 2:11.

96 sn It was a common belief in Judaism that Messiah would be David’s son in that he would come from the lineage of David. On this point the Pharisees agreed and were correct. But their understanding was nonetheless incomplete, for Messiah is also David’s Lord. With this statement Jesus was affirming that, as the Messiah, he is both God and man.

97 sn The Lord said to my Lord. With David being the speaker, this indicates his respect for his descendant (referred to as my Lord). Jesus was arguing, as the ancient exposition assumed, that the passage is about the Lord’s anointed. The passage looks at an enthronement of this figure and a declaration of honor for him as he takes his place at the side of God. In Jerusalem, the king’s palace was located to the right of the temple to indicate this kind of relationship. Jesus was pressing the language here to get his opponents to reflect on how great Messiah is.

98 sn A quotation from Ps 110:1.

99 tn Grk “David thus calls him ‘Lord.’ So how is he his son?” The conditional nuance, implicit in Greek, has been made explicit in the translation (cf. Matt 22:45).

100 tn Here δέ (de) has not been translated.

101 tn Grk “he”; the referent (Jesus) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

102 tn Or “Be on guard against.” This is a present imperative and indicates that pride is something to constantly be on the watch against.

103 tn Or “of the scribes.” See the note on the phrase “experts in the law” in 5:21.

104 tn Grk “who,” continuing the sentence begun by the prior phrase.

105 sn There is later Jewish material in the Talmud that spells out such greetings in detail. See D. L. Bock, Luke (BECNT), 2:1642; H. Windisch, TDNT 1:498.

106 sn See Luke 14:1-14.

107 sn See the note on synagogues in 4:15.

108 tn Grk “who,” continuing the sentence begun in v. 46.

109 sn How they were able to devour widows’ houses is debated. Did they seek too much for contributions, or take too high a commission for their work, or take homes after debts failed to be paid? There is too little said here to be sure.

110 tn Grk “houses,” “households”; however, the term can have the force of “property” or “possessions” as well (O. Michel, TDNT 5:131; BDAG 695 s.v. οἶκια 1.a).



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