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Luke 5:27-32

Context
The Call of Levi; Eating with Sinners

5:27 After 1  this, Jesus 2  went out and saw a tax collector 3  named Levi 4  sitting at the tax booth. 5  “Follow me,” 6  he said to him. 5:28 And he got up and followed him, leaving everything 7  behind. 8 

5:29 Then 9  Levi gave a great banquet 10  in his house for Jesus, 11  and there was a large crowd of tax collectors and others sitting 12  at the table with them. 5:30 But 13  the Pharisees 14  and their experts in the law 15  complained 16  to his disciples, saying, “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?” 17  5:31 Jesus 18  answered them, “Those who are well don’t need a physician, but those who are sick do. 19  5:32 I have not come 20  to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” 21 

1 tn Grk “And after.” Here καί (kai) has not been translated because of differences between Greek and English style.

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

3 sn See the note on tax collectors in 3:12.

4 sn It is possible that Levi is a second name for Matthew, because people often used alternative names in 1st century Jewish culture.

5 tn While “tax office” is sometimes given as a translation for τελώνιον (telwnion; so L&N 57.183), this could give the modern reader a false impression of an indoor office with all its associated furnishings.

sn The tax booth was a booth located on the edge of a city or town to collect taxes for trade. There was a tax booth in Capernaum, which was on the trade route from Damascus to Galilee and the Mediterranean. The “taxes” were collected on produce and goods brought into the area for sale, and were a sort of “sales tax” paid by the seller but obviously passed on to the purchaser in the form of increased prices (L&N 57.183). It was here that Jesus met Levi (also named Matthew [see Matt 9:9]) who was ultimately employed by the Romans, though perhaps more directly responsible to Herod Antipas. It was his job to collect taxes for Rome and he was thus despised by Jews who undoubtedly regarded him as a traitor.

6 sn Follow me. For similar calls on the part of Jesus see Luke 5:10-11; 9:23, 59; 18:22.

7 sn On the phrase leaving everything see Luke 5:10-11; 14:33.

8 tn The participial phrase “leaving everything behind” occurs at the beginning of the sentence, but has been transposed to the end in the translation for logical reasons, since it serves to summarize Levi’s actions.

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

10 sn A great banquet refers to an elaborate meal. Many of the events in Luke take place in the context of meal fellowship: 7:36-50; 9:12-17; 10:38-42; 11:37-54; 14:1-24; 22:7-38; 24:29-32, 41-43.

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

12 tn Grk “reclining.” This term reflects the normal practice in 1st century Jewish culture of eating a meal in a semi-reclining position. Since it is foreign to most modern readers, the translation “sitting” has been substituted.

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

14 sn See the note on Pharisees in 5:17.

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

16 tn Or “grumbled”; a term often used in the OT for inappropriate grumbling: Exod 15:24; 16:7-8; Num 14:2, 26-35; 16:11.

17 sn The issue here is inappropriate associations (eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners) and the accusation comes not against Jesus, but his disciples.

18 tn Grk “And Jesus.” Here καί (kai) has not been translated because of differences between Greek and English style.

19 sn Jesus’ point is that he associates with those who are sick because they have the need and will respond to the offer of help. A person who is well (or who thinks mistakenly that he is) will not seek treatment.

20 sn I have not come is another commission statement by Jesus; see 4:43-44.

21 sn Though parallels exist to this saying (Matt 9:13; Mark 2:17), only Luke has this last phrase but sinners to repentance. Repentance is a frequent topic in Luke’s Gospel: 3:3, 8; 13:1-5; 15:7, 10; 16:30; 17:3-4; 24:47.



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