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Luke 18:9-14

Context
The Parable of the Pharisee and Tax Collector

18:9 Jesus 1  also told this parable to some who were confident that they were righteous and looked down 2  on everyone else. 18:10 “Two men went up 3  to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee 4  and the other a tax collector. 5  18:11 The Pharisee stood and prayed about himself like this: 6  ‘God, I thank 7  you that I am not like other people: 8  extortionists, 9  unrighteous people, 10  adulterers – or even like this tax collector. 11  18:12 I fast twice 12  a week; I give a tenth 13  of everything I get.’ 18:13 The tax collector, however, stood 14  far off and would not even look up 15  to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, be merciful 16  to me, sinner that I am!’ 17  18:14 I tell you that this man went down to his home justified 18  rather than the Pharisee. 19  For everyone who exalts 20  himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted.”

1 tn Grk “He”; the referent has been specified in the translation for clarity.

2 tn Grk “and despised.” This is a second parable with an explanatory introduction.

3 sn The temple is on a hill in Jerusalem, so one would go up to enter its precincts.

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

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

6 tn Or “stood by himself and prayed like this.” The prepositional phrase πρὸς ἑαυτόν (pros eauton, “to/about himself”) could go with either the aorist participle σταθείς (staqeis, “stood”) or with the imperfect verb προσηύχετο (proshuceto, “he prayed”). If taken with the participle, then the meaning would seem at first glance to be: “stood ‘by himself’,” or “stood ‘alone’.” Now it is true that πρός can mean “by” or “with” when used with intransitive verbs such as ἵστημι ({isthmi, “I stand”; cf. BDAG 874 s.v. πρός 2.a), but πρὸς ἑαυτόν together never means “by himself” or “alone” in biblical Greek. On the other hand, if πρὸς ἑαυτόν is taken with the verb, then two different nuances emerge, both of which highlight in different ways the principal point Jesus seems to be making about the arrogance of this religious leader: (1) “prayed to himself,” but not necessarily silently, or (2) “prayed about himself,” with the connotation that he prayed out loud, for all to hear. Since his prayer is really a review of his moral résumé, directed both at advertising his own righteousness and exposing the perversion of the tax collector, whom he actually mentions in his prayer, the latter option seems preferable. If this is the case, then the Pharisee’s mention of God is really nothing more than a formality.

7 sn The Pharisee’s prayer started out as a thanksgiving psalm to God, but the praise ended up not being about God.

8 tn Here the plural Greek term ἀνθρώπων (anqrwpwn) is used as a generic and can refer to both men and women (NASB, NRSV, “people”; NLT, “everyone else”; NAB, “the rest of humanity”).

9 tn Or “swindlers” (BDAG 134 s.v. ἅρπαξ 2); see also Isa 10:2; Josephus, J. W. 6.3.4 [6.203].

10 sn A general category for “sinners” (1 Cor 6:9; Lev 19:3).

11 sn Note what the Pharisee assumes about the righteousness of this tax collector by grouping him with extortionists, unrighteous people, and adulterers.

12 sn The law only required fasting on the Day of Atonement. Such voluntary fasting as this practiced twice a week by the Pharisee normally took place on Monday and Thursday.

13 tn Or “I tithe.”

14 tn Grk “standing”; the Greek participle has been translated as a finite verb.

15 tn Grk “even lift up his eyes” (an idiom).

16 tn The prayer is a humble call for forgiveness. The term for mercy (ἱλάσκομαι, Jilaskomai) is associated with the concept of a request for atonement (BDAG 473-74 s.v. 1; Ps 51:1, 3; 25:11; 34:6, 18).

17 tn Grk “the sinner.” The tax collector views himself not just as any sinner but as the worst of all sinners. See ExSyn 222-23.

18 sn The prayer that was heard and honored was the one given with humility; in a surprising reversal it was the tax collector who went down to his home justified.

19 tn Grk “the other”; the referent (the Pharisee, v. 10) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

20 sn Everyone who exalts himself. See Luke 14:11. Jesus often called for humility and condemned those who sought honor.



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