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Luke 14:25-35

Context
Counting the Cost

14:25 Now large crowds 1  were accompanying Jesus, 2  and turning to them he said, 14:26 “If anyone comes to me and does not hate 3  his own father and mother, and wife and children, and brothers and sisters, and even his own life, 4  he cannot be my disciple. 14:27 Whoever does not carry his own cross 5  and follow 6  me cannot be my disciple. 14:28 For which of you, wanting to build a tower, doesn’t sit down 7  first and compute the cost 8  to see if he has enough money to complete it? 14:29 Otherwise, 9  when he has laid 10  a foundation and is not able to finish the tower, 11  all who see it 12  will begin to make fun of 13  him. 14:30 They will say, 14  ‘This man 15  began to build and was not able to finish!’ 16  14:31 Or what king, going out to confront another king in battle, will not sit down 17  first and determine whether he is able with ten thousand to oppose 18  the one coming against him with twenty thousand? 14:32 If he cannot succeed, 19  he will send a representative 20  while the other is still a long way off and ask for terms of peace. 21  14:33 In the same way therefore not one of you can be my disciple if he does not renounce all his own possessions. 22 

14:34 “Salt 23  is good, but if salt loses its flavor, 24  how can its flavor be restored? 14:35 It is of no value 25  for the soil or for the manure pile; it is to be thrown out. 26  The one who has ears to hear had better listen!” 27 

1 sn It is important to note that the following remarks are not just to disciples, but to the large crowds who were following Jesus.

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

3 tn This figurative use operates on a relative scale. God is to be loved more than family or self.

4 tn Grk “his own soul,” but ψυχή (yuch) is frequently used of one’s physical life. It clearly has that meaning in this context.

5 sn It was customary practice in a Roman crucifixion for the prisoner to be made to carry his own cross. Jesus is speaking figuratively here in the context of rejection. If the priority is not one’s allegiance to Jesus, then one will not follow him in the face of possible rejection; see Luke 9:23.

6 tn Grk “and come after.” In combination with the verb ἔρχομαι (ercomai) the improper preposition ὀπίσω (opisw) means “follow.”

7 tn The participle καθίσας (kaqisas) has been translated as a finite verb due to requirements of contemporary English style.

8 tn The first illustration involves checking to see if enough funds exist to build a watchtower. Both ψηφίζω (yhfizw, “compute”) and δαπάνη (dapanh, “cost”) are economic terms.

9 tn Grk “to complete it, lest.” Because of the length and complexity of the Greek sentence, a new sentence was started here in the translation and ἵνα μήποτε ({ina mhpote, “lest”) has been translated as “Otherwise.”

10 tn The participle θέντος (qentos) has been taken temporally.

11 tn The words “the tower” are not in the Greek text, but are implied. Direct objects were frequently omitted in Greek when clear from the context.

12 tn The word “it” is not in the Greek text, but is implied. Direct objects were frequently omitted in Greek when clear from the context.

13 tn Or “mock,” “ridicule.” The person who did not plan ahead becomes an object of joking and ridicule.

14 tn Grk “make fun of him, saying.”

15 sn The phrase this man is often used in Luke in a derogatory sense; see “this one” and expressions like it in Luke 5:21; 7:39; 13:32; 23:4, 14, 22, 35.

16 sn The failure to finish the building project leads to embarrassment (in a culture where avoiding public shame was extremely important). The half completed tower testified to poor preparation and planning.

17 tn The participle καθίσας (kaqisa") has been translated as a finite verb due to requirements of contemporary English style.

18 tn On the meaning of this verb see also L&N 55.3, “to meet in battle, to face in battle.”

19 tn Grk “And if not.” Here δέ (de) has not been translated; “succeed” is implied and has been supplied in the translation for clarity.

20 tn Grk “a messenger.”

21 sn This image is slightly different from the former one about the tower (vv. 28-30). The first part of the illustration (sit down first and determine) deals with preparation. The second part of the illustration (ask for terms of peace) has to do with recognizing who is stronger. This could well suggest thinking about what refusing the “stronger one” (God) might mean, and thus constitutes a warning. Achieving peace with God, the more powerful king, is the point of the illustration.

22 tn Grk “Likewise therefore every one of you who does not renounce all his own possessions cannot be my disciple.” The complex double negation is potentially confusing to the modern reader and has been simplified in the translation. See L&N 57.70.

sn The application of the saying is this: Discipleship requires that God be in first place. The reference to renunciation of all his own possessions refers to all earthly attachments that have first place.

23 tn Grk “Now salt…”; here οὖν has not been translated.

sn Salt was used as seasoning or fertilizer (BDAG 41 s.v. ἅλας a), or as a preservative. If salt ceased to be useful, it was thrown away. With this illustration Jesus warned about a disciple who ceased to follow him.

24 sn The difficulty of this saying is understanding how salt could lose its flavor since its chemical properties cannot change. It is thus often assumed that Jesus was referring to chemically impure salt, perhaps a natural salt which, when exposed to the elements, had all the genuine salt leached out, leaving only the sediment or impurities behind. Others have suggested the background of the saying is the use of salt blocks by Arab bakers to line the floor of their ovens: Under the intense heat these blocks would eventually crystallize and undergo a change in chemical composition, finally being thrown out as unserviceable. A saying in the Talmud (b. Bekhorot 8b) attributed to R. Joshua ben Chananja (ca. a.d. 90), when asked the question “When salt loses its flavor, how can it be made salty again?” is said to have replied, “By salting it with the afterbirth of a mule.” He was then asked, “Then does the mule (being sterile) bear young?” to which he replied: “Can salt lose its flavor?” The point appears to be, both are impossible. The saying, while admittedly late, suggests that culturally the loss of flavor by salt was regarded as an impossibility. Genuine salt can never lose its flavor. In this case the saying by Jesus here may be similar to Matt 19:24, where it is likewise impossible for the camel to go through the eye of a sewing needle.

25 tn Or “It is not useful” (L&N 65.32).

26 tn Grk “they throw it out.” The third person plural with unspecified subject is a circumlocution for the passive here.

27 tn The translation “had better listen!” captures the force of the third person imperative more effectively than the traditional “let him hear,” which sounds more like a permissive than an imperative to the modern English reader. This was Jesus’ common expression to listen and heed carefully (cf. Matt 11:15; 13:9, 43; Mark 4:9, 23; Luke 8:8).



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