Luke 18:17

What does it mean to “receive the kingdom of God as a child” (Luke 18:17)?

…δέξηται τὴν βασιλείαν τοῦ θεοῦ ὡς παιδίον

There are actually three possibilities here (see Green, 651 n 131 for details):

  1. to receive the kingdom as a child receives the kingdom
  2. to receive the kingdom as if one were a child
  3. to receive the kingdom as one receives a child

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“Teacher” and “Master” in Luke

It’s been a while since I wrote anything here, but I noticed something interesting today:

there seems to be a distinct way in which Jesus is addressed by various groups in Luke.

The vocative διδάσκαλε is used to address Jesus only be people who don’t fully recognise who he is. It is never used by the disciples. It’s used by:

  • Simon the Pharisee (7:40)
  • The father of the ‘epileptic’ boy (9:38)
  • Lawyers (10:35; 11:45)
  • People in the crowd (12:13)
  • The rich young ruler (18:18)
  • Jesus’ opponents (19:39; 20:21, 28, 39)
  • A rather vague “some” 21:7

Furthermore, “Master” (ἐπιστάτα) is only used by the disciples (5:5; 8:24, 45; 9:33; 49) except 17:13 where it is used by the ten lepers.

“Rabbi” is not used at all in Luke. But 4 times in Matt and 3 times in Mark.


Awkwardness of Luke 7:29-30

All the commentators (that I have access to) write about the “awkwardness” of vv29-30. It is debated whether these verses continue Jesus words from vv24-28; or whether they are a narrators’ comment inserted by Luke.

Most (Bock, Culy, Nolland) conclude that they are narrators comments; while Morris argues for a continuation of Jesus’ works.

It is the “awkwardness” of the third-person references (e.g. “the crowd”) that lead many to argue for narrators comments. But it is just as awkward that there is neither any conjunction or re-introduction of speech in v31.

This, I fear, is an example of the lack of attention that is paid to discourse features by many commentators and exegetes.

Given the way Luke (and other NT authors) purposefully use conjunctions and other discourse features to mark and structure their work (see e.g. my notes on Luke 1:5-38) it seems strange that so many commentators are happy so simply recognise the strange absence in v31 without letting it influence their decision about vv29-30.

I’m not (necessarily) claiming that vv29-30 are Jesus words – but I am suggesting that the lack of the discourse features should at least be weighed alongside the awkwardness of the grammar.

Bog Standard Word Order

Paying careful attention to word/constituent order in Greek often proves useful for getting a clearer understanding of what the author is trying to say. Thus the works Levinsohn and Runge are exceedingly valuable to teach us about topic, focus etc.

But it occurred to me this week that sometime the absence of any specific “discourse features” can tell us things too.

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Is Jesus Old or New? (Luke 5:36-39)

I preached on Luke 5:33-6:16 on Sunday. It was one of the hardest sermons I’ve ever prepared. It took ages and I was mega-confused during most of my prep time.

One of the issues I came across was related to Jesus’ parable in Luke 5:36-39. It’s a famous passage about new/old clothes and new/old wine/wineskins.

I came to the conclusion that there is a lot of assumption done about this passage, without the necessary rigorous exegesis that it required. Every commentator (except one) that I read on those verse assumed that Jesus = new and Pharisees/Judaism = old. That is a very well loved interpretation of these verses.

However, I want to question the validity of that interpretation. During my prep, exegesis and research, I came to the conclusion that the text makes much more sense if we understand the parable to be working the other way round – that is, that Jesus is the old and the Pharisees are new.

Now, you might strongly disagree with my conclusion there – but the main point I want to raise is that there is nothing in the text itself which demands the parable be interpreted one way round or the others. The fact that almost every preacher and commentator takes Jesus as NEW is nothing more than an assumption which most, if not all, fail to address or defend.

In fact, the only time in these verses where any preference is expressed towards either old or new is in v39 where Jesus says “the old is better”. Most interpreters are required, by their presuppositions, to understand Jesus as making a negative comment about the Pharisees refusal to accept Jesus. The problem with that is that, once again, it is slightly forced onto the text. Not to mention the fact that most people recognise that old wine is better than new wine – so Jesus’ words make most sense if he is saying that the old is better, that He is the old and that the Pharisees are adding new rules which tear, spill and destroy the old.

Luke 5v12-16

Preaching Luke 5:1-32 this week. It is part of a larger section which runs from 5:1-6:16 and is primarily about the calling of Jesus’ disciples (5:1-11, 27-32 and 6:12-16).

One of the more challenging aspects of prep was working out what Luke includes this healing of the leper within this section. There is a clear emphasis on sin and discipleship – but where does leprosy fit in?

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