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Luke 8:1-11

Context
Jesus’ Ministry and the Help of Women

8:1 Some time 1  afterward 2  he went on through towns 3  and villages, preaching and proclaiming the good news 4  of the kingdom of God. 5  The 6  twelve were with him, 8:2 and also some women 7  who had been healed of evil spirits and disabilities: 8  Mary 9  (called Magdalene), from whom seven demons had gone out, 8:3 and Joanna the wife of Cuza 10  (Herod’s 11  household manager), 12  Susanna, and many others who provided for them 13  out of their own resources.

The Parable of the Sower

8:4 While a large crowd was gathering and people were coming to Jesus 14  from one town after another, 15  he spoke to them 16  in a parable: 8:5 “A sower went out to sow 17  his seed. 18  And as he sowed, some fell along the path and was trampled on, and the wild birds 19  devoured it. 8:6 Other seed fell on rock, 20  and when it came up, it withered because it had no moisture. 8:7 Other seed fell among the thorns, 21  and they grew up with it and choked 22  it. 8:8 But 23  other seed fell on good soil and grew, 24  and it produced a hundred times as much grain.” 25  As he said this, 26  he called out, “The one who has ears to hear had better listen!” 27 

8:9 Then 28  his disciples asked him what this parable meant. 29  8:10 He 30  said, “You have been given 31  the opportunity to know 32  the secrets 33  of the kingdom of God, 34  but for others they are in parables, so that although they see they may not see, and although they hear they may not understand. 35 

8:11 “Now the parable means 36  this: The seed is the word of God.

1 tn Grk “And it happened that some time.” 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.

2 tn Καθεξῆς (Kaqexh") is a general temporal term and need not mean “soon afterward”; see Luke 1:3; Acts 3:24; 11:4; 18:23 and L&N 61.1.

3 tn Or “cities.”

4 sn The combination of preaching and proclaiming the good news is a bit emphatic, stressing Jesus’ teaching ministry on the rule of God.

5 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.

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

7 sn There is an important respect shown to women in this text, as their contributions were often ignored in ancient society.

8 tn Or “illnesses.” The term ἀσθένεια (asqeneia) refers to the state of being ill and thus incapacitated in some way – “illness, disability, weakness.” (L&N 23.143).

9 sn This Mary is not the woman mentioned in the previous passage (as some church fathers claimed), because she is introduced as a new figure here. In addition, she is further specified by Luke with the notation called Magdalene, which seems to distinguish her from the woman at Simon the Pharisee’s house.

10 sn Cuza is also spelled “Chuza” in many English translations.

11 sn Herods refers here to Herod Antipas. See the note on Herod Antipas in 3:1.

12 tn Here ἐπίτροπος (epitropo") is understood as referring to the majordomo or manager of Herod’s household (BDAG 385 s.v. ἐπίτροπος 1). However, as BDAG notes, the office may be political in nature and would then be translated something like “governor” or “procurator.” Note that in either case the gospel was reaching into the highest levels of society.

13 tc Many mss (א A L Ψ Ë1 33 565 579 1241 2542 pm it co) read “for him,” but “for them” also has good ms support (B D K W Γ Δ Θ Ë13 700 892 1424 pm lat). From an internal standpoint the singular pronoun looks like an assimilation to texts like Matt 27:55 and Mark 15:41.

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

15 tn This phrase renders a distributive use of κατά (kata) with πόλις (polis), literally “according to [each] town.”

16 tn The words “to them” do not appear in the Greek text but are supplied in the translation for clarity.

17 sn A sower went out to sow. The background for this well-known parable is a field through which a well-worn path runs in the Palestinian countryside. Sowing would occur in late fall or early winter (October to December) in the rainy season, looking for sprouting in April or May and a June harvest. The use of seed as a figure for God’s giving life has OT roots: Isa 55:10-11.

18 tn Luke’s version of the parable, like Mark’s (cf. Mark 4:1-9) uses the collective singular to refer to the seed throughout, so singular pronouns have been used consistently throughout this parable in the English translation. However, the parallel account in Matt 13:1-9 begins with plural pronouns in v. 4 but then switches to the collective singular in v. 5 ff.

19 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).

20 sn The rock in Palestine would be a limestone base lying right under the soil.

21 sn Palestinian weeds like these thorns could grow up to six feet in height and have a major root system.

22 sn That is, crowded out the good plants.

23 tn Here καί (kai) has been translated as “but” to indicate the contrast present in the final stage of the parable.

24 tn Grk “when it grew, after it grew.”

25 sn Unlike the parallel accounts in Matt 13:8 and Mark 4:8, there is no distinction in yield in this version of the parable.

26 tn Grk “said these things.”

27 tn The translation “had better listen!” captures the force of the third person imperative more effectively than the traditional “let him hear,” which sounds more like a permissive than an imperative to the modern English reader. This was Jesus’ common expression to listen and heed carefully (cf. Matt 11:15; 13:9, 43; Mark 4:9, 23; Luke 14:35).

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

29 tn Grk “what this parable might be” (an optative after a secondary tense, in keeping with good Koine style).

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

31 tn This is an example of a so-called “divine passive,” with God understood to be the source of the revelation (see ExSyn 437-38).

32 tn Grk “it has been given to you to know.” The dative pronoun occurs first, in emphatic position in the Greek text, although this position is awkward in contemporary English.

33 tn Grk “the mysteries.”

sn The key term secrets (μυστήριον, musthrion) can mean either (1) a new revelation or (2) a revealing interpretation of existing revelation as in Dan 2:17-23, 27-30. Jesus seems to be explaining how current events develop old promises, since the NT consistently links the events of Jesus’ ministry and message with old promises (Rom 1:1-4; Heb 1:1-2). The traditional translation of this word, “mystery,” is misleading to the modern English reader because this English word suggests a secret which people have tried to uncover but which they have failed to understand (L&N 28.77).

34 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.

35 sn A quotation from Isa 6:9. Thus parables both conceal or reveal depending on whether one is open to hearing what they teach.

36 tn Grk “is,” but in this context it is clearly giving an explanation of the parable.



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