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Luke 9:57-62

Context
Challenging Professed Followers

9:57 As 1  they were walking 2  along the road, someone said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.” 3  9:58 Jesus said to him, “Foxes have dens and the birds in the sky 4  have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.” 5  9:59 Jesus 6  said to another, “Follow me.” But he replied, 7  “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.” 9:60 But Jesus 8  said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead, 9  but as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” 10  9:61 Yet 11  another said, “I will follow you, Lord, but first let me say goodbye to my family.” 12  9:62 Jesus 13  said to him, “No one who puts his 14  hand to the plow and looks back 15  is fit for the kingdom of God.” 16 

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

2 tn Grk “going,” but “walking” is an accurate description of how they traveled about.

3 tc Most mss (A C W Θ Ψ Ë13 33 Ï) add κύριε (kurie, “Lord”) here, but scribes were prone to add to the text, especially appellations for the Lord. The shorter reading also enjoys significant ms support (Ì45,75 א B D L Ξ Ë1 lat co).

sn The statement “I will follow you wherever you go” is an offer to follow Jesus as a disciple, no matter what the cost.

4 tn Grk “the birds of the sky” or “the birds of the heaven”; the Greek word οὐρανός (ouranos) may be translated either “sky” or “heaven,” depending on the context. The idiomatic expression “birds of the sky” refers to wild birds as opposed to domesticated fowl (cf. BDAG 809 s.v. πετεινόν).

5 sn Jesus’ reply is simply this: Does the man understand the rejection he will be facing? Jesus has no home in the world (the Son of Man has no place to lay his head).

6 tn Grk “And he”; the referent (Jesus) has been specified in the translation for clarity. Here δέ (de) has not been translated.

7 tn Grk “said.”

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

9 sn There are several options for the meaning of Jesus’ reply Leave the dead to bury their own dead: (1) Recent research suggests that burial customs in the vicinity of Jerusalem from about 20 b.c. to a.d. 70 involved a reinterment of the bones a year after the initial burial, once the flesh had rotted away. At that point the son would have placed his father’s bones in a special box known as an ossuary to be set into the wall of the tomb. Thus Jesus could well be rebuking the man for wanting to wait around for as much as a year before making a commitment to follow him. In 1st century Jewish culture, to have followed Jesus rather than burying one’s father would have seriously dishonored one’s father (cf. Tobit 4:3-4). (2) The remark is an idiom (possibly a proverbial saying) that means, “The matter in question is not the real issue,” in which case Jesus was making a wordplay on the wording of the man’s (literal) request (see L&N 33.137). (3) This remark could be a figurative reference to various kinds of people, meaning, “Let the spiritually dead bury the dead.” (4) It could also be literal and designed to shock the hearer by the surprise of the contrast. Whichever option is preferred, it is clear that the most important priority is to preach the gospel (proclaim the kingdom of God).

10 sn The kingdom of God is a major theme of Jesus. It is a realm in which Jesus rules and to which those who trust him belong. See Luke 6:20; 11:20; 17:20-21.

11 tn Grk “And another also said.”

12 tn Grk “to those in my house.”

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

14 tn Grk “the”; in context the article is used as a possessive pronoun (ExSyn 215).

15 sn Jesus warns that excessive concern for family ties (looks back) will make the kingdom a lesser priority, which is not appropriate for discipleship. The image is graphic, for who can plow straight ahead toward a goal while looking back? Discipleship cannot be double-minded.

16 sn The kingdom of God is a major theme of Jesus. It is a realm in which Jesus rules and to which those who trust him belong. See Luke 6:20; 11:20; 17:20-21.



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