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Luke 18:18-30

The Wealthy Ruler

18:18 Now 1  a certain ruler 2  asked him, “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 3  18:19 Jesus 4  said to him, “Why do you call me good? 5  No one is good except God alone. 18:20 You know the commandments: ‘Do not commit adultery, do not murder, do not steal, do not give false testimony, honor your father and mother.’” 6  18:21 The man 7  replied, “I have wholeheartedly obeyed 8  all these laws 9  since my youth.” 10  18:22 When Jesus heard this, he said to him, “One thing you still lack. Sell all that you have 11  and give the money 12  to the poor, 13  and you will have treasure 14  in heaven. Then 15  come, follow me.” 18:23 But when the man 16  heard this he became very sad, 17  for he was extremely wealthy. 18:24 When Jesus noticed this, 18  he said, “How hard 19  it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God! 20  18:25 In fact, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle 21  than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.” 18:26 Those who heard this said, “Then 22  who can be saved?” 23  18:27 He replied, “What is impossible 24  for mere humans 25  is possible for God.” 18:28 And Peter said, “Look, we have left everything we own 26  to follow you!” 27  18:29 Then 28  Jesus 29  said to them, “I tell you the truth, 30  there is no one who has left home or wife or brothers 31  or parents or children for the sake of God’s kingdom 18:30 who will not receive many times more 32  in this age 33  – and in the age to come, eternal life.” 34 

1 tn Here καί (kai) has been translated as “now” to indicate the transition to a new topic.

2 sn Only Luke states this man is a ruler (cf. the parallels in Matt 19:16-22 and Mark 10:17-22, where the questioner is described only as “someone”). He is probably a civic leader of some kind, a leader in the society.

3 sn The rich man wanted to know what he must do to inherit eternal life, but Jesus had just finished teaching that eternal life was not earned but simply received (18:17). See the similar question about inheriting eternal life in Luke 10:25.

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

5 sn Jesus’ response, Why do you call me good?, was designed to cause the ruler to stop and think for a moment about who Jesus really was. The following statement No one is good except God alone seems to point the man in the direction of Jesus’ essential nature and the demands which logically follow on the man for having said it.

6 sn A quotation from Exod 20:12-16 and Deut 5:16-20. Jesus cited the parts of the ten commandments that relate to how others should be treated.

7 tn Grk “And he”; the referent (the ruler mentioned in v. 18) has been specified in the translation for clarity. Here καί (kai) has not been translated because of differences between Greek and English style.

8 tn Grk “kept.” The implication of this verb is that the man has obeyed the commandments without fail throughout his life, so the adverb “wholeheartedly” has been added to the translation to bring out this nuance.

9 tn Grk “these things.” The referent of the pronoun (the laws mentioned by Jesus) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

sn While the rich man was probably being sincere when he insisted I have wholeheartedly obeyed all these laws, he had confined his righteousness to external obedience. The rich man’s response to Jesus’ command to give away all he had revealed that internally he loved money more than God.

10 sn Since my youth. Judaism regarded the age of thirteen as the age when a man would have become responsible to live by God’s commands.

11 sn See Luke 14:33.

12 tn The words “the money” are not in the Greek text, but are implied. Direct objects were frequently omitted in Greek when clear from the context.

13 sn See Luke 1:50-53; 6:20-23; 14:12-14.

14 sn The call for sacrifice comes with a promise of eternal reward: …you will have treasure in heaven. Jesus’ call is a test to see how responsive the man is to God’s direction through him. Will he walk the path God’s agent calls him to walk? For a rich person who got it right, see Zacchaeus in Luke 19:1-10.

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

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

17 tn Or “very distressed” (L&N 25.277).

18 tc ‡ The phrase περίλυπον γενόμενον (perilupon genomenon, “[When Jesus saw him] becoming sad”) is found in the majority of mss (A [D] W Θ Ψ 078 Ë13 33vid Ï latt sy), and it is not unknown in Lukan style to repeat a word or phrase in adjacent passages (TCGNT 143). However, the phrase is lacking in some significant mss (א B L Ë1 579 1241 2542 co). The shorter reading is nevertheless difficult to explain if it is not original: It is possible that these witnesses omitted this phrase out of perceived redundancy from the preceding verse, although intentional omissions, especially by several and varied witnesses, are generally unlikely. NA27 places the words in brackets, indicating doubts as to their authenticity.

tn Grk “him.”

19 sn For the rich it is hard for wealth not to be the point of focus, as the contrast in vv. 28-30 will show, and for rich people to trust God. Wealth was not an automatic sign of blessing as far as Jesus was concerned.

20 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.

21 sn The eye of a needle refers to a sewing needle, one of the smallest items one might deal with on a regular basis, in contrast to the biggest animal of the region. (The gate in Jerusalem known as “The Needle’s Eye” was built during the middle ages and was not in existence in Jesus’ day.) Jesus is saying rhetorically that this is impossible, unless God (v. 27) intervenes.

22 tn Here καί (kai) has been translated as “then” to indicate the implied sequence of thought.

23 sn The assumption is that the rich are blessed, so if they risk exclusion, who is left to be saved?

24 sn The term impossible is in the emphatic position in the Greek text. God makes the impossible possible.

25 tn The plural Greek term ἄνθρωποις (anqrwpois) is used here in a generic sense, referring to both men and women (cf. NASB 1995 update, “people”). Because of the contrast here between mere mortals and God (“impossible for men…possible for God”) the phrase “mere humans” has been used in the translation.

26 tn Or “left our homes,” “left our possessions”; Grk “left our own things.” The word ἴδιος (idios) can refer to one’s home (including the people and possessions in it) or to one’s property or possessions. Both options are mentioned in BDAG 467 s.v. 4.b. See also I. H. Marshall, Luke (NIGTC), 688; D. L. Bock, Luke (BECNT), 2:1488.

27 tn Grk “We have left everything we own and followed you.” Koine Greek often used paratactic structure when hypotactic was implied.

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

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

30 tn Grk “Truly (ἀμήν, amhn), I say to you.”

31 tn The term “brothers” could be understood as generic here, referring to either male or female siblings. However, it is noteworthy that in the parallel passages in both Matt 19:29 and Mark 10:29, “sisters” are explicitly mentioned in the Greek text.

32 sn Jesus reassures his disciples with a promise that (1) much benefit in this life (many times more) and (2) eternal life in the age to come will be given.

33 tn Grk “this time” (καιρός, kairos), but for stylistic reasons this has been translated “this age” here.

34 sn Note that Luke (see also Matt 19:29; Mark 10:30; Luke 10:25) portrays eternal life as something one receives in the age to come, unlike John, who emphasizes the possibility of receiving eternal life in the present (John 5:24).

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