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Luke 20:1-8

Context
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.”

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.



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