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Luke 18:11-13

Context
18:11 The Pharisee stood and prayed about himself like this: 1  ‘God, I thank 2  you that I am not like other people: 3  extortionists, 4  unrighteous people, 5  adulterers – or even like this tax collector. 6  18:12 I fast twice 7  a week; I give a tenth 8  of everything I get.’ 18:13 The tax collector, however, stood 9  far off and would not even look up 10  to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, be merciful 11  to me, sinner that I am!’ 12 

1 tn Or “stood by himself and prayed like this.” The prepositional phrase πρὸς ἑαυτόν (pros eauton, “to/about himself”) could go with either the aorist participle σταθείς (staqeis, “stood”) or with the imperfect verb προσηύχετο (proshuceto, “he prayed”). If taken with the participle, then the meaning would seem at first glance to be: “stood ‘by himself’,” or “stood ‘alone’.” Now it is true that πρός can mean “by” or “with” when used with intransitive verbs such as ἵστημι ({isthmi, “I stand”; cf. BDAG 874 s.v. πρός 2.a), but πρὸς ἑαυτόν together never means “by himself” or “alone” in biblical Greek. On the other hand, if πρὸς ἑαυτόν is taken with the verb, then two different nuances emerge, both of which highlight in different ways the principal point Jesus seems to be making about the arrogance of this religious leader: (1) “prayed to himself,” but not necessarily silently, or (2) “prayed about himself,” with the connotation that he prayed out loud, for all to hear. Since his prayer is really a review of his moral résumé, directed both at advertising his own righteousness and exposing the perversion of the tax collector, whom he actually mentions in his prayer, the latter option seems preferable. If this is the case, then the Pharisee’s mention of God is really nothing more than a formality.

2 sn The Pharisee’s prayer started out as a thanksgiving psalm to God, but the praise ended up not being about God.

3 tn Here the plural Greek term ἀνθρώπων (anqrwpwn) is used as a generic and can refer to both men and women (NASB, NRSV, “people”; NLT, “everyone else”; NAB, “the rest of humanity”).

4 tn Or “swindlers” (BDAG 134 s.v. ἅρπαξ 2); see also Isa 10:2; Josephus, J. W. 6.3.4 [6.203].

5 sn A general category for “sinners” (1 Cor 6:9; Lev 19:3).

6 sn Note what the Pharisee assumes about the righteousness of this tax collector by grouping him with extortionists, unrighteous people, and adulterers.

7 sn The law only required fasting on the Day of Atonement. Such voluntary fasting as this practiced twice a week by the Pharisee normally took place on Monday and Thursday.

8 tn Or “I tithe.”

9 tn Grk “standing”; the Greek participle has been translated as a finite verb.

10 tn Grk “even lift up his eyes” (an idiom).

11 tn The prayer is a humble call for forgiveness. The term for mercy (ἱλάσκομαι, Jilaskomai) is associated with the concept of a request for atonement (BDAG 473-74 s.v. 1; Ps 51:1, 3; 25:11; 34:6, 18).

12 tn Grk “the sinner.” The tax collector views himself not just as any sinner but as the worst of all sinners. See ExSyn 222-23.



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