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Luke 20:1-19

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.”

The Parable of the Tenants

20:9 Then 19  he began to tell the people this parable: “A man 20  planted a vineyard, 21  leased it to tenant farmers, 22  and went on a journey for a long time. 20:10 When harvest time came, he sent a slave 23  to the tenants so that they would give 24  him his portion of the crop. 25  However, the tenants beat his slave 26  and sent him away empty-handed. 20:11 So 27  he sent another slave. They beat this one too, treated him outrageously, and sent him away empty-handed. 28  20:12 So 29  he sent still a third. They even wounded this one, and threw him out. 20:13 Then 30  the owner of the vineyard said, ‘What should I do? I will send my one dear son; 31  perhaps they will respect him.’ 20:14 But when the tenants saw him, they said to one another, ‘This is the heir; let’s kill him so the inheritance will be ours!’ 20:15 So 32  they threw him out of the vineyard and killed 33  him. What then will the owner of the vineyard do to them? 20:16 He will come and destroy 34  those tenants and give the vineyard to others.” 35  When the people 36  heard this, they said, “May this never happen!” 37  20:17 But Jesus 38  looked straight at them and said, “Then what is the meaning of that which is written: ‘The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone’? 39  20:18 Everyone who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces, 40  and the one on whom it falls will be crushed.” 41  20:19 Then 42  the experts in the law 43  and the chief priests wanted to arrest 44  him that very hour, because they realized he had told this parable against them. But 45  they were afraid of the people.

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.

19 tn Here δέ (de) has been translated as “then” to indicate the implied sequence of events within the narrative. The parable Jesus tells here actually addresses the question put to him by the leaders.

20 tc ‡ There are several variants here, most of which involve variations in word order that do not affect translation. However, the presence or absence of τις (ti") after ἄνθρωπος (anqrwpo"), which would be translated “a certain man,” does affect translation. The witnesses that have τις include A W Θ Ë13 1241 2542 al sy. Those that lack it include א B C D L Ψ Ë1 33 Ï it. Externally, the evidence is significantly stronger for the omission. Internally, however, there is some pause. A feature unique to Luke-Acts in the NT is to use the construction ἄνθρωπος τις (cf. 10:30; 12:16; 14:2, 16; 15:11; 16:1; 19:12; Acts 9:33). However, scribes who were familiar with this idiom may have inserted it here. In light of the overwhelming external support for the omission of τις, the shorter reading is preferred. NA27 places τις in brackets, indicating some doubts as to its authenticity.

21 sn The vineyard is a figure for Israel in the OT (Isa 5:1-7). The nation and its leaders are the tenants, so the vineyard here may well refer to the promise that resides within the nation. The imagery is like that in Rom 11:11-24.

22 sn The leasing of land to tenant farmers was common in this period.

23 sn This slave (along with the next two) represent the prophets God sent to the nation, who were mistreated and rejected.

24 tc Instead of the future indicative δώσουσιν (dwsousin, “they will give”), most witnesses (C D W Θ Ψ Ë1 Ï) have the aorist subjunctive δῶσιν (dwsin, “they might give”). The aorist subjunctive is expected following ἵνα ({ina, “so that”), so it is almost surely a motivated reading. Further, early and excellent witnesses, as well as a few others (א A B Ë13 33 579 1241 2542 al), have δώσουσιν. It is thus more likely that the future indicative is authentic. For a discussion of this construction, see BDF §369.2.

25 tn Grk “from the fruit of the vineyard.”

26 tn Grk “him”; the referent (the slave sent by the owner) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

sn The image of the tenants beating up the owner’s slave pictures the nation’s rejection of the prophets and their message.

27 tn Here καί (kai) has been translated as “so” to indicate the implied result of the tenants’ mistreatment of the first slave.

28 sn The slaves being sent empty-handed suggests that the vineyard was not producing any fruit – and thus neither was the nation of Israel.

29 tn Here καί (kai) has been translated as “so” to indicate the implied result of the tenants’ mistreatment of the first two slaves.

30 tn Here δέ (de) has been translated as “then” to indicate the implied sequence of events within the narrative.

31 tn Grk “my beloved son.” See comment at Luke 3:22.

sn The owner’s decision to send his one dear son represents God sending Jesus.

32 tn Here καί (kai) has been translated as “so” to indicate the implied result of the tenants’ decision to kill the son.

33 sn Throwing the heir out of the vineyard pictures Jesus’ death outside of Jerusalem.

34 sn The statement that the owner will come and destroy those tenants is a promise of judgment; see Luke 13:34-35; 19:41-44.

35 sn The warning that the owner would give the vineyard to others suggests that the care of the promise and the nation’s hope would be passed to others. This eventually looks to Gentile inclusion; see Eph 2:11-22.

36 tn Grk “they”; the referent (the people addressed in v. 9) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

37 sn May this never happen! Jesus’ audience got the point and did not want to consider a story where the nation would suffer judgment.

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

39 tn Or “capstone,” “keystone.” Although these meanings are lexically possible, the imagery in Eph 2:20-22 and 1 Cor 3:11 indicates that the term κεφαλὴ γωνίας (kefalh gwnia") refers to a cornerstone, not a capstone.

sn The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone. The use of Ps 118:22-23 and the “stone imagery” as a reference to Christ and his suffering and exaltation is common in the NT (see also Matt 21:42; Mark 12:10; Acts 4:11; 1 Pet 2:6-8; cf. also Eph 2:20). The irony in the use of Ps 118:22-23 here is that in the OT, Israel was the one rejected (or perhaps her king) by the Gentiles, but in the NT it is Jesus who is rejected by Israel.

40 tn On this term, see BDAG 972 s.v. συνθλάω.

41 tn Grk “on whomever it falls, it will crush him.”

sn This proverb basically means that the stone crushes, without regard to whether it falls on someone or someone falls on it. On the stone as a messianic image, see Isa 28:16 and Dan 2:44-45.

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

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

44 tn Grk “tried to lay hands on him.”

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



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