Luke 11:37-54

Rebuking the Pharisees and Experts in the Law

11:37 As he spoke, a Pharisee invited Jesus to have a meal with him, so he went in and took his place at the table. 11:38 The Pharisee was astonished when he saw that Jesus did not first wash his hands before the meal. 11:39 But the Lord said to him, “Now you Pharisees clean the outside of the cup and the plate, but inside you are full of greed and wickedness. 11:40 You fools! 10  Didn’t the one who made the outside make the inside as well? 11  11:41 But give from your heart to those in need, 12  and 13  then everything will be clean for you. 14 

11:42 “But woe to you Pharisees! 15  You give a tenth 16  of your mint, 17  rue, 18  and every herb, yet you neglect justice 19  and love for God! But you should have done these things without neglecting the others. 20  11:43 Woe to you Pharisees! You love the best seats 21  in the synagogues 22  and elaborate greetings 23  in the marketplaces! 11:44 Woe to you! 24  You are like unmarked graves, and people 25  walk over them without realizing it!” 26 

11:45 One of the experts in religious law 27  answered him, “Teacher, when you say these things you insult 28  us too.” 11:46 But Jesus 29  replied, 30  “Woe to you experts in religious law as well! 31  You load people 32  down with burdens difficult to bear, yet you yourselves refuse to touch 33  the burdens with even one of your fingers! 11:47 Woe to you! You build 34  the tombs of the prophets whom your ancestors 35  killed. 11:48 So you testify that you approve of 36  the deeds of your ancestors, 37  because they killed the prophets 38  and you build their 39  tombs! 40  11:49 For this reason also the wisdom 41  of God said, ‘I will send them prophets and apostles, some of whom they will kill and persecute,’ 11:50 so that this generation may be held accountable 42  for the blood of all the prophets that has been shed since the beginning 43  of the world, 44  11:51 from the blood of Abel 45  to the blood of Zechariah, 46  who was killed 47  between the altar and the sanctuary. 48  Yes, I tell you, it will be charged against 49  this generation. 11:52 Woe to you experts in religious law! You have taken away 50  the key to knowledge! You did not go in yourselves, and you hindered 51  those who were going in.”

11:53 When he went out from there, the experts in the law 52  and the Pharisees began to oppose him bitterly, 53  and to ask him hostile questions 54  about many things, 11:54 plotting against 55  him, to catch 56  him in something he might say.

Luke 20:45-47

Jesus Warns the Disciples against Pride

20:45 As 57  all the people were listening, Jesus 58  said to his disciples, 20:46 “Beware 59  of the experts in the law. 60  They 61  like walking around in long robes, and they love elaborate greetings 62  in the marketplaces and the best seats 63  in the synagogues 64  and the places of honor at banquets. 20:47 They 65  devour 66  widows’ property, 67  and as a show make long prayers. They will receive a more severe punishment.”


tn The use of the aorist infinitive here should probably be translated “as he spoke” rather than “while he was speaking” (see ExSyn 595). The Pharisee did not necessarily interrupt Jesus to issue the invitation.

sn See the note on Pharisees in 5:17.

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

tn Grk “and reclined at table,” as 1st century middle eastern meals were not eaten while sitting at a table, but while reclining on one’s side on the floor with the head closest to the low table and the feet farthest away.

tn Here δέ (de) has not been translated.

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

tn The words “his hands” are not in the Greek text, but have been supplied for clarity.

sn Washing before meals was a cultural practice that was described in the OT, but not prescribed there (Gen 18:4; Judg 19:21). It was apparently related to concern about contracting ceremonial uncleanness (Lev 11:31-38; t. Demai 2.11-12).

sn The allusion to washing (clean the outside of the cup) shows Jesus knew what they were thinking and deliberately set up a contrast that charged them with hypocrisy and majoring on minors.

tn Or “and evil.”

10 sn You fools is a rebuke which in the OT refers to someone who is blind to God (Ps 14:1, 53:1; 92:6; Prov 6:12).

11 tn The question includes a Greek particle, οὐ (ou), that expects a positive reply. God, the maker of both, is concerned for what is both inside and outside.

12 tn Grk “Give the things inside as alms.” Three different approaches have been taken to the syntax and meaning of this phrase: (1) τὰ ἐνόντα (ta enonta, “the things inside”) is an accusative of respect (“give alms with respect to the things inside”); (2) τὰ ἐνόντα is an adverbial accusative (“give alms inwardly,” i.e., from the heart); (3) the word translated “alms” represents a mistranslation of the original Aramaic term “cleanse,” so the statement urges the hearers to “cleanse the things inside.” According to D. L. Bock (Luke [BECNT], 2:1115) the latter meaning is unlikely because the present verse is independent of Matt 23:26, not parallel to it, and makes good sense as it stands.

sn In Jewish culture giving alms to the poor was a very important religious observance; it was meant to be an act of mercy, kindness, and love (D. L. Bock, Luke [BECNT], 2:1114). The implication from the text is that the Pharisees gave alms, but without any of the spiritual concern which should have motivated those generous actions. Here Jesus commands the Pharisees to give from within themselves to those in need instead of just giving of their possessions. In so doing they would show true inner purity acceptable to God. This is in keeping with the author’s social concerns elsewhere in the Gospel (cf., e.g., 1:52-53, 4:18-19, 6:20-21, 14:13).

13 tn Grk “and behold.” The Greek word ἰδού (idou) at the beginning of this clause has not been translated because it has no exact English equivalent here, but adds interest and emphasis (BDAG 468 s.v. 1).

14 sn The expression everything will be clean for you refers to the agreement that should exist between the overt practice of one’s religious duties, such as almsgiving, and the inner condition of one’s heart, including true love for God and the poor; one is not only to wash the outside of the cup and plate, but the inside as well, since as Jesus said, God created the inside too. Religious duties are not to be performed hypocritically, i.e., for the applause and esteem of people, but rather they are to be done out of a deep love for God and a sensitivity to and concern for the needs of others. Then, everything will be clean, both hearts and lives.

15 tn Grk “Woe to you…because you…” The causal particle ὅτι (Joti) has not been translated here for rhetorical effect (and so to the end of this chapter).

16 tn Or “you tithe mint.”

17 sn These small herbs were tithed with great care (Mishnah, m. Demai 2:1).

18 tn Grk “and rue.” Καί (kai) has not been translated since English normally uses a coordinating conjunction only between the last two elements in a series of three or more.

sn Rue was an evergreen herb used for seasoning.

19 sn Justice was a major theme of OT ethics (Mic 6:8; Zech 7:8-10).

20 tn Grk “those”; but this has been translated as “the others” to clarify which are meant.

21 tn Or “seats of honor.” The term here is plural and is not a reference only to the lead “seat of Moses” in the synagogue, but includes the front seats near the ark.

22 sn See the note on synagogues in 4:15.

23 tn Grk “and the greetings.”

sn The later Jewish summary of oral tradition, the Talmud, notes elaborate greetings for rabbis. The rebuke here is for pride.

24 tc Most mss (A [D] W Θ Ψ Ë13 Ï it) have “experts in the law and Pharisees, hypocrites” after “you,” but this looks like an assimilation to the parallel in Matt 23:25, 27, 29. The shorter reading has earlier attestation from a variety of reliable mss (Ì45,75 א B C L Ë1 33 1241 2542 lat sa).

25 tn Grk “men.” This is a generic use of ἄνθρωπος (anqrwpo"), referring to both males and females.

26 sn In Judaism to come into contact with the dead or what is associated with them, even without knowing it, makes one unclean (Num 19:11-22; Lev 21:1-3; Mishnah, m. Demai 2:3). To Pharisees, who would have been so sensitive about contracting ceremonial uncleanness, it would have been quite a stinging rebuke to be told they caused it.

27 sn That is, an expert in the interpretation of the Mosaic law. They worked closely with the Pharisees.

28 tn For this term, see Matt 22;6; Luke 18:32; Acts 14:5; 1 Thess 2:2.

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

30 tn Grk “said.”

31 tn Here “as well” is used to translate καί (kai) at the beginning of the statement.

32 tn Grk “men.” This is a generic use of ἄνθρωπος (anqrwpo"), referring to both males and females.

33 tn Grk “you yourselves do not touch.” This could mean one of two things: (1) Either they make others do what they themselves do not (through various technical exceptions) or (2) they make no effort to help the others fulfill what they are required to do. Considering the care these religious figures are said to have given to the law, the second option is more likely (see L&N 18.11).

34 sn The effect of what the experts in the law were doing was to deny the message of the prophets and thus honor their death by supporting those who had sought their removal. The charge that this is what previous generations did shows the problem is chronic. As T. W. Manson said, the charge here is “The only prophet you honor is a dead prophet!” (The Sayings of Jesus, 101).

35 tn Or “forefathers”; Grk “fathers.”

36 tn Grk “you are witnesses and approve of.”

37 tn Or “forefathers”; Grk “fathers.”

38 tn Grk “them”; the referent (the prophets) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

39 tn “Their,” i.e., the prophets.

40 tc The majority of mss list a specific object (“their tombs”), filling out the sentence (although there are two different words for “tombs” among the mss, as well as different word orders: αὐτῶν τὰ μνημεῖα (autwn ta mnhmeia; found in A C W Θ Ψ 33 Ï) and τοὺς τάφους αὐτῶν (tou" tafou" autwn; found in Ë1,[13] 2542 pc). This suggests that early copyists had no term in front of them but felt the verb needed an object. But since a wide distribution of early Alexandrian and Western mss lack these words (Ì75 א B D L 579 1241 it sa), it is likely that they were not part of the original text of Luke. Nevertheless, the words “their tombs” are inserted in the translation because of requirements of English style.

41 sn The expression the wisdom of God is a personification of an attribute of God that refers to his wise will.

42 tn Or “that this generation may be charged with”; or “the blood of all the prophets… may be required from this generation.” This is a warning of judgment. These people are responsible for the shedding of prophetic blood.

43 tn Or “foundation.” However, this does not suggest a time to the modern reader.

44 tn The order of the clauses in this complicated sentence has been rearranged to simplify it for the modern reader.

45 sn Gen 4:10 indicates that Abel’s blood cried out for justice.

46 sn It is not clear which Zechariah is meant here. It is probably the person mentioned in 2 Chr 24:20-25.

47 tn Or “who perished.”

48 tn Or “and the temple”; Grk “and the house,” but in this context a reference to the house of God as a place of sanctuary.

49 tn Or “required from.”

50 sn You have taken away the key to knowledge is another stinging rebuke. They had done the opposite of what they were trying to do.

51 tn Or “you tried to prevent.”

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

53 tn Or “terribly.”

54 tn For this term see L&N 33.183.

55 tn Grk “lying in ambush against,” but this is a figurative extension of that meaning.

56 tn This term was often used in a hunting context (BDAG 455 s.v. θηρεύω; L&N 27.30). Later examples of this appear in Luke 20.

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

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

59 tn Or “Be on guard against.” This is a present imperative and indicates that pride is something to constantly be on the watch against.

60 tn Or “of the scribes.” See the note on the phrase “experts in the law” in 5:21.

61 tn Grk “who,” continuing the sentence begun by the prior phrase.

62 sn There is later Jewish material in the Talmud that spells out such greetings in detail. See D. L. Bock, Luke (BECNT), 2:1642; H. Windisch, TDNT 1:498.

63 sn See Luke 14:1-14.

64 sn See the note on synagogues in 4:15.

65 tn Grk “who,” continuing the sentence begun in v. 46.

66 sn How they were able to devour widows’ houses is debated. Did they seek too much for contributions, or take too high a commission for their work, or take homes after debts failed to be paid? There is too little said here to be sure.

67 tn Grk “houses,” “households”; however, the term can have the force of “property” or “possessions” as well (O. Michel, TDNT 5:131; BDAG 695 s.v. οἶκια 1.a).