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Luke 9:23-25

Context
A Call to Discipleship

9:23 Then 1  he said to them all, 2  “If anyone wants to become my follower, 3  he must deny 4  himself, take up his cross daily, 5  and follow me. 9:24 For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, 6  but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. 9:25 For what does it benefit a person 7  if he gains the whole world but loses or forfeits himself?

Luke 9:59-62

Context
9:59 Jesus 8  said to another, “Follow me.” But he replied, 9  “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.” 9:60 But Jesus 10  said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead, 11  but as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” 12  9:61 Yet 13  another said, “I will follow you, Lord, but first let me say goodbye to my family.” 14  9:62 Jesus 15  said to him, “No one who puts his 16  hand to the plow and looks back 17  is fit for the kingdom of God.” 18 

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

2 sn Here them all could be limited to the disciples, since Jesus was alone with them in v. 18. It could also be that by this time the crowd had followed and found him, and he addressed them, or this could be construed as a separate occasion from the discussion with the disciples in 9:18-22. The cost of discipleship is something Jesus was willing to tell both insiders and outsiders about. The rejection he felt would also fall on his followers.

3 tn Grk “to come after me.”

4 tn This translation better expresses the force of the Greek third person imperative than the traditional “let him deny,” which could be understood as merely permissive.

5 sn Only Luke mentions taking up one’s cross daily. To bear the cross means to accept the rejection of the world for turning to Jesus and following him. Discipleship involves a death that is like a crucifixion; see Gal 6:14.

6 sn The point of the saying whoever wants to save his life will lose it is that if one comes to Jesus then rejection by many will certainly follow. If self-protection is a key motivation, then one will not respond to Jesus and will not be saved. One who is willing to risk rejection will respond and find true life.

7 tn Grk “a man,” but ἄνθρωπος (anqrwpo") is used in a generic sense here to refer to both men and women.

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

9 tn Grk “said.”

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

11 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).

12 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.

13 tn Grk “And another also said.”

14 tn Grk “to those in my house.”

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

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

17 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.

18 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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