THE DAILY STUDY BIBLE SERIES
THE GOSPEL OF LUKE
Translated with an Introduction and Interpretation
by WILLIAM BARCLAY
THE WESTMINSTER PRESS
Copyright (C) 1975 William Barclay
First published by The Saint Andrew Press
First Edition, September, 1953
Second Edition, February, 1956
Published by The Westminster Press (R)
PRINTED IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
TO THE KIRK SESSION OF
TRINITY CHURCH, RENFREW,
OVER WHOM GOD CALLED ME TO PRESIDE
FROM 1933 TO 1946
AND IN PARTICULAR TO
M. R. AND J. B. K.,
MEN OF GOD
Library of Congress Cataloging In Publication Data
Bible. N.T. Luke. English. Barclay. 1975.
The Gospel of Luke.
(The Daily study Bible series. — Rev. ed.)
1. Bible. N.T. Luke–Commentaries. I. Barclay,
William, lecturer in the University of Glasgow, ed.
II. Title. III. Series.
BS2593 1975 226′.4’077 74-30042
ISBN 0-664-24103-4 pbk.
The Daily Study Bible series has always had one aim–to convey the results of scholarship to the
ordinary reader. A. S. Peake delighted in the saying that he was a “theological middleman “, and I
would be happy if the same could be said of me in regard to these volumes. And yet the primary
aim of the series has never been academic. It could be summed up in the famous words of
Richard of Chichester’s prayer–to enable men and women “to know Jesus Christ more clearly, to
love him more dearly, and to follow him more nearly”.
It is all of twenty years since the first volume of The Daily Study Bible was published. The
series was the brain-child of the late Rev. Andrew McCosh, M.A., S.T.M., the then Secretary and
Manager of the Committee on Publications of the Church of Scotland, and of the late Rev. R. G.
Macdonald, O.B.E., M.A., D.D., its Convener.
It is a great joy to me to know that all through the years The Daily Study Bible has been used at
home and abroad, by minister, by missionary, by student and by layman, and that it has been
translated into many different languages. Now, after so many printings, it has become necessary
to renew the printer’s type and the opportunity has been taken to restyle the books, to correct
some errors in the text and to remove some references which have become outdated. At the same
time, the Biblical quotations within the text have been changed to use the Revised Standard
Version, but my own original translation of the New Testament passages has been retained at the
beginning of each daily section.
There is one debt which I would be sadly lacking in courtesy if I did not acknowledge. The
work of revision and correction has been done entirely by the Rev. James Martin, M.A., B.D.,
Minister of High Carntyne Church, Glasgow. Had it not been for him this task would never have
been undertaken, and it is impossible for me to thank him enough for the selfless toil he has put
into the revision of these books.
It is my prayer that God may continue to use The Daily Study Bible to enable men better to
understand His word.
Glasgow WILLIAM BARCLAY
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Introduction to Luke
An Historian’s Introduction (Lk.1:1-4)
A Son is Promised (Lk.1:5-25)
God’s Message to Mary (Lk.1:26-38)
The Paradox of Blessedness (Lk.1:39-45)
A Wondrous Hymn (Lk.1:46-56)
His Name is John (Lk.1:57-66)
A Father’s Joy (Lk.1:67-80)
Journey to Bethlehem (Lk.2:1-7)
Shepherds and Angels (Lk.2:8-20)
The Ancient Ceremonies are Observed (Lk.2:21-24)
A Dream Realized (Lk.2:25-35)
A Lovely Old Age (Lk.2:36-40)
The Dawning Realization (Lk.2:41-52)
The Courier of the King (Lk.3:1-6)
John’s Summons to Repentance (Lk.3:7-18)
The Arrest of John (Lk.3:19-20)
The Hour Strikes for Jesus (Lk.3:21-22)
The Lineage of Jesus (Lk.3:23-38)
The Battle with Temptation (Lk.4:1-13)
The Galilaean Springtime (Lk.4:14-15)
Without Honour in his Own Country (Lk.4:16-30)
The Spirit of an Unclean Devil (Lk.4:31-37)
A Miracle in a Cottage (Lk.4:38-39)
The Insistent Crowds (Lk.4:40-44)
The Conditions of a Miracle (Lk.5:1-11)
Touching the Untouchable (Lk.5:12-15)
The Opposition Intensifies (Lk.5:16-17)
Forgiven and Healed (Lk.5:18-26)
The Guest of an Outcast (Lk.5:27-32)
The Happy Company (Lk.5:33-35)
The New Idea (Lk.5:36-39)
The Increasing Opposition (Lk.6:1-5)
The Defiance of Jesus (Lk.6:6-11)
Jesus Chooses his Men (Lk.6:12-19)
The End of the World’s Values (Lk.6:20-26)
The Golden Rule (Lk.6:27-38)
Rules for Life and Living (Lk.6:39-46)
The Only Sure Foundation (Lk.6:47-49)
A Soldier’s Faith (Lk.7:1-10)
The Compassion of Christ (Lk.7:11-17)
The Final Proof (Lk.7:18-29)
The Perversity of Men (Lk.7:30-35)
A Sinner’s Love (Lk.7:36-50)
On the Road (Lk.8:1-3)
The Sower and the Seed (Lk.8:4-15)
Laws for Life (Lk.8:16-18)
True Kinship (Lk.8:19-21)
Calm Amidst the Storm (Lk.8:22-25)
The Defeat of the Demons (Lk.8:26-39)
An Only Child is Healed (Lk.8:40-42,49-56)
Not Lost in the Crowd (Lk.8:43-48)
Emissaries of the King (Lk.9:1-9)
Food for the Hungry (Lk.9:10-17)
The Great Discovery (Lk.9:18-22)
The Conditions of Service (Lk.9:23-27)
The Mountain Top of Glory (Lk.9:28-36)
Coming Down from the Mount (Lk.9:37-45)
True Greatness (Lk.9:46-48)
Two Lessons in Tolerance (Lk.9:49-56)
The Honesty of Jesus (Lk.9:57-62)
Labourers for the Harvest (Lk.10:1-16)
A Man’s True Glory (Lk.10:17-20)
The Unsurpassable Claim (Lk.10:21-24)
Who is My Neighbour? (Lk.10:25-37)
The Clash of Temperaments (Lk.10:38-42)
Teach us to Pray (Lk.11:1-4)
Ask and You will Receive (Lk.11:5-13)
A Malicious Slander (Lk.11:14-23)
The Peril of the Empty Soul (Lk.1 1:24-28)
The Responsibility of Privilege (Lk.11:29-32)
The Darkened Heart (Lk.11:3 3-36)
The Worship of Details and the Neglect of the Things that Matter (Lk.11:37-44)
The Sins of the Legalists (Lk.11:45-54)
The Creed of Courage and of Trust (Lk.12:1-12)
The Place of Material Possessions in Life (Lk.12:13-34)
Be Prepared (Lk.12:35-48)
The Coming of the Sword (Lk.12:49-53)
While Yet there is Time (Lk.12:54-59)
Suffering and Sin (Lk.13:1-5)
The Gospel of the Other Chance and the Threat of the Last Chance (Lk.13:6-9)
Mercy More than Law (Lk.13:10-17)
The Empire of Christ (Lk.1 3:18-19)
The Leaven of the Kingdom (Lk.13:20-21)
The Risk of being Shut Out (Lk.13:22-30)
Courage and Tenderness (Lk.13:31-35)
Under the Scrutiny of Hostile Men (Lk.14:1-6)
The Necessity of Humility (Lk.14:7-11)
Disinterested Charity (Lk.14:12-14)
The King’s Banquet and the King’s Guests (Lk.14:15-24)
On Counting the Cost (Lk.14:25-33)
The Insipid Salt (Lk.14:34-35)
The Shepherd’s Joy (Lk.15:1-7)
The Coin a Woman Lost and Found (Lk.15:8-10)
The Story of the Loving Father (Lk.15:11-32)
A Bad Man’s Good Example (Lk.16:1-13)
The Law which does not Change (Lk.16:14-18)
The Punishment of the Man who Never Noticed (Lk.16:19-31)
Laws of the Christian Life (Lk.17:1-10)
The Rarity of Gratitude (Lk.17:11-19)
The Signs of his Coming (Lk.17:20-37)
Unwearied in Prayer (Lk.1 8:1-8)
The Sin of Pride (Lk.18:9-14)
The Master and the Children (Lk.18:15-17)
The Man who would not Pay the Price (Lk.18:18-30)
The Waiting Cross (Lk.18:31-34)
The Man who would not be Silenced (Lk.18:35-43)
The Guest of the Man whom All Men Despised (Lk.19:1-10)
The King’s Trust in his Servants (Lk.19:11-27)
The Entry of the King (Lk.19:28-40)
The Pity and the Anger of Jesus (Lk.19:41-48)
By What Authority? (Lk.20:1-8)
A Parable which was a Condemnation (Lk.20:9-18)
Caesar and God (Lk.20:19-26)
The Sadducees’ Question (Lk.20:27-40)
The Warnings of Jesus (Lk.20:41-44)
The Love of Honour among Men (Lk.20:45-47)
The Precious Gift (Lk.21:1-4)
Tidings of Trouble (Lk.21:5-24)
And Satan entered into Judas (Lk.22:1-6)
The Last Meal Together (Lk.22:7-23)
Strife among the Disciples of Christ (Lk.22:24-30)
Peter’s Tragedy (Lk.22:31-38,54-62)
Thy Will be Done (Lk.22:39-46)
The Traitor’s Kiss (Lk.22:47-53)
Mocking and Scourging and Trial (Lk.22:63-71)
Trial Before Pilate and Silence Before Herod (Lk.23:1-12)
The Jews’ Blackmail of Pilate (Lk.23:13-25)
The Road to Calvary (Lk.23:26-31)
Here they Crucified him (Lk.23:32-38)
The Promise of Paradise (Lk.23:39-43)
The Long Day Closes (Lk.23:44-49)
The Man who gave Jesus a Tomb (Lk.23:50-56)
The Wrong Place to Look (Lk.24:1-12)
The Sunset Road that Turned to Dawn (Lk.24:13-35)
In the Upper Room (Lk.24:36-49)
The Happy Ending (Lk.24:50-53)
INTRODUCTION TO THE GOSPEL
ACCORDING TO SAINT LUKE
A LOVELY BOOK AND ITS AUTHOR
The gospel according to St. Luke has been called the loveliest book in the world. When once an American asked him if he could recommend a good life of Christ, Denney answered, “Have you tried the one that Luke wrote?” There is a legend that Luke was a skilled painter; there is even a painting of Mary in a Spanish cathedral to this day which purports to be by him. Certainly he had an eye for vivid things. It would not be far wrong to say that the third gospel is the best life of Christ ever written. Tradition has always believed that Luke was the author and we need have no qualms in accepting that tradition. In the ancient world it was the regular thing to attach books to famous names; no one thought it wrong. But Luke was never one of the famous figures of the early Church. If he had not written the gospel no one would have attached it to his name.
Luke was a gentile; and he has the unique distinction of being the only New Testament writer who was not a Jew. He was a doctor by profession (Col.4:14) and maybe that very fact gave him the wide sympathy he possessed. It has been said that a minister sees men at their best; a lawyer sees men at their worst; and a doctor sees men as they are. Luke saw men and loved them all.
The book was written to a man called Theophilus. He is called most excellent Theophilus and the title given him is the normal title for a high official in the Roman government. No doubt Luke wrote it to tell an earnest inquirer more about Jesus; and he succeeded in giving Theophilus a picture which must have thirled his heart closer to the Jesus of whom he had heard.
THE SYMBOLS OF THE GOSPELS
Every one of the four gospels was written from a certain point of view. Very often on stained glass windows the writers of the gospels are pictured; and usually to each there is attached a symbol. The symbols vary but one of the commonest allocations is this.
The emblem of Mark is a man. Mark is the simplest and most straightforward of the gospels. It has been well said that its characteristic is realism. It is the nearest to being a report of Jesus’ life.
The emblem of Matthew is a lion. Matthew was a Jew writing for Jews and he saw in Jesus the Messiah, the lion of the tribe of Judah, the one whom all the prophets had predicted.
The emblem of John is the eagle. The eagle can fly higher than any other bird. It is said that of all creatures only the eagle can look straight into the sun. John is the theological gospel; its flights of thought are higher than those of any of the others. It is the gospel where the philosopher can find themes to think about for a lifetime and to solve only in eternity.
The symbol of Luke is the calf The calf is the animal for sacrifice; and Luke saw in Jesus the sacrifice for all the world. In Luke above all, the barriers are broken down and Jesus is for Jew and gentile, saint and sinner alike. He is the saviour of the world. Keeping that in mind, let us now set down the characteristics of this gospel.
AN HISTORIAN’S CARE
First and foremost, Luke’s gospel is an exceedingly careful bit of work. His Greek is notably good. The first four verses are well-nigh the best Greek in the New Testament. In them he claims that his work is the product of the most careful research. His opportunities were ample and his sources must have been good. As the trusted companion of Paul he must have known all the great figures of the church, and we may be sure that he had them tell their stories to him. For two years he was Paul’s companion in imprisonment in Caesarea. In those long days he had every opportunity for study and research and he must have used them well.
An example of Luke’s care is the way in which he dates the emergence of John the Baptist. He does so by no fewer than six contemporary datings. “In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar (1), Pontius Pilate being governor of Judaea (2), Herod being tetrarch of Galilee (3), and his brother Philip being tetrarch of the region of Ituraea and Trachonitis (4), and Lysanias tetrarch of Abilene (5) in the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas (6), the word of God came to John” (Lk.3:1-2). Here is a man who is writing with care and who will be as accurate as it is possible for him to be.
THE GOSPEL FOR THE GENTILES
It is clear that Luke wrote mainly for gentiles. Theophilus was a gentile, as was Luke himself, and there is nothing in the gospel that a gentile could not grasp and understand. (a) As we have seen, Luke begins his dating from the reigning Roman emperor and the current Roman governor. The Roman date comes first. (b) Unlike Matthew, he is not greatly interested in the life of Jesus as the fulfilment of Jewish prophecy. (c) He very seldom quotes the Old Testament at all. (d) He has a habit of giving Hebrew words in their Greek equivalent so that a Greek would understand. Simon the Cananaean becomes Simon the Zealot. (compare Lk.6:15 and Matt.10:4). Calvary is called not by its Hebrew name, Golgotha (compare HSN1538 and HSN1556), but by its Greek name, Kranion (GSN2898). Both mean the place of a skull. He never uses the Jewish term Rabbi (HSN7227) of Jesus but always a Greek word meaning Master. When he is tracing the descent of Jesus, he traces it not to Abraham, the founder of the Jewish race, as Matthew does, but to Adam, the founder of the human race. (compare Matt.1:2 and Lk.3:38).
Because of this Luke is the easiest of all the gospels to read. He was writing, not for Jews, but for people very like ourselves.
THE GOSPEL OF PRAYER
Luke’s gospel is specially the gospel of prayer. At all the great moments of his life, Luke shows us Jesus at prayer. He prayed at his baptism (Lk.3:21); before his first collision with the Pharisees (Lk.5:16); before he chose the Twelve (Lk.6:12); before he questioned his disciples as to who they thought he was; before his first prediction of his own death (Lk.9:18); at the Transfiguration (Lk.9:29); and upon the Cross (Lk.23:46). Only Luke tells us that Jesus prayed for Peter in his hour of testing (Lk.22:32). Only he tells us the prayer parables of the Friend at Midnight (Lk.11:5-13) and the Unjust Judge (Lk.18:1-8). To Luke the unclosed door of prayer was one of the most precious in all the world.
THE GOSPEL OF WOMEN
In Palestine the place of women was low. In the Jewish morning prayer a man thanks God that he has not made him “a gentile, a slave or a woman.” But Luke gives a very special place to women. The birth narrative is told from Mary’s point of view. It is in Luke that we read of Elizabeth, of Anna, of the widow at Nain, of the woman who anointed Jesus’ feet in the house of Simon the Pharisee. It is Luke who makes vivid the pictures of Martha and Mary and of Mary Magdalene. It is very likely that Luke was a native of Macedonia where women held a more emancipated position than anywhere else; and that may have something to do with it.
THE GOSPEL OF PRAISE
In Luke the phrase “praising God” occurs oftener than in all the rest of the New Testament put together. This praise reaches its peak in the three great hymns that the church has sung throughout all her generations–the Magnificat (Lk.1:46-55); the Benediclus (Lk.1:68-79); and the Nunc Dimittis (Lk.2:29-32). There is a radiance in Luke’s gospel which is a lovely thing, as if the sheen of heaven had touched the things of earth.
THE UNIVERSAL GOSPEL
But the outstanding characteristic of Luke is that it is the universal gospel. All the barriers are down; Jesus Christ is for all men without distinction.
(a) The kingdom of heaven is not shut to the Samaritans (Lk.9:51-56). Luke alone tells the parable of the Good Samaritan (Lk.10:30-37). The one grateful leper is a Samaritan (Lk.17:11-19). John can record a saying that the Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans (Jn.4:9). But Luke refuses to shut the door on any man.
(b) Luke shows Jesus speaking with approval of gentiles whom the orthodox Jew would have considered unclean. He shows us Jesus citing the widow of Zarephath and Naaman the Syrian as shining examples (Lk.4:25-27). The Roman centurion is praised for the greatness of his faith (Lk.7:9). Luke tells us of that great word of Jesus, “Men will come from east and west, and from north and south, and sit at the table in the kingdom of God” (Lk.13:29).
(c) Luke is supremely interested in the poor. When Mary brings the offering for her purification it is the offering of the poor (Lk.2:24). When Jesus is, as it were, setting out his credentials to the emissaries of John, the climax is, “The poor have good news preached to them” (Lk.7:22). He alone tells the parable of the Rich Man and the Poor Man (Lk.16:19-31). In Luke’s account of the Beatitudes the saying of Jesus runs, not, as in Matthew (Matt.5:3), “Blessed are the poor in spirit,” but simply, “Blessed are you poor” (Lk.6:20). Luke’s gospel has been called “the gospel of the underdog.” His heart runs out to everyone for whom life is an unequal struggle.
(d) Above all Luke shows Jesus as the friend of outcasts and sinners. He alone tells of the woman who anointed Jesus’ feet and bathed them with her tears and wiped them with her hair in the house of Simon the Pharisee (Lk.7:36-50); of Zacchaeus, the quisling tax-gatherer (Lk.19:1-10); of the Penitent Thief (Lk.23:43); and he alone has the immortal story of the prodigal son and the loving father (Lk.15:11-32). When Matthew tells how Jesus sent his disciples out to preach, he says that Jesus told them not to go to the Samaritans or the gentiles (Matt.10:5); but Luke omits that altogether. All four gospel writers quote from Isa.40 when they give the message of John the Baptist, “Prepare the way of the Lord; make straight in the desert a highway for our God”; but only Luke continues the quotation to its triumphant conclusion, “And all flesh shall see the salvation of God” (Isa.40:3-5; Matt.3:3; Mk.1:3; Jn.1:23; Lk.3:4,6). Luke of all the gospel writers sees no limits to the love of God.
THE BOOK BEAUTIFUL
As we study this book we must look for these characteristics. Somehow of all the gospel writers one would have liked to meet Luke best of all, for this gentile doctor with the tremendous vision of the infinite sweep of the love of God must have been a lovely soul. Faber wrote the lines,
There’s a wideness in God’s mercy, Like the wideness of the sea; There’s a kindness in his justice, Which is more than liberty. For the love of God is broader Than the measures of man’s mind; And the heart of the Eternal Is most wonderfully kind.
Luke’s gospel is the demonstration that this is true.
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