Luke Chapter Seventeen
Grace is the spring of the Christian's walk, and furnishes directions for it. He cannot with impunity (chap. 17) despise the weak. He must not be weary of pardoning his brother. If he have faith but as a grain of mustard seed, the power of God is, so to speak, at his disposal. Nevertheless, when he has done all, he has but done his duty (v. 5-10). The Lord then shews (v. 11-37) the deliverance from Judaism, which He still recognised; and, after that, its judgment. He was passing through Samaria and Galilee: ten lepers come towards Him, entreating Him, from a distance, to heal them. He sends them to the priests. This was, in fact, as much as to say, You are clean. It would have been useless to have them pronounced unclean; and they knew it. They take Christ's word, go away with this conviction, and are immediately healed on their way. Nine of them, satisfied with reaping the benefit of His power, pursue their journey to the priests, and remain Jews, not coming out of the old sheepfold. Jesus, indeed, still acknowledged it; but they only acknowledge Him so far as to profit by His presence, and remain where they were. They saw nothing in His Person, nor in the power of God in Him, to attract them. They remain Jews. But this poor stranger-the tenth-recognises the good hand of God. He falls at the feet of Jesus, giving Him glory. The Lord bids him depart in the liberty of faith-"Go thy way; thy faith hath saved thee." He has no longer need to go to the priests. He had found God and the source of blessing in Christ, and goes away freed from the yoke which was soon to be judicially broken for all.
For the kingdom of God was among them. To those who could discern it, the King was there in their midst. The kingdom did not come in such a manner as to attract the attention of the world. It was there, so that the disciples would soon desire to see one of those days which they had enjoyed during the time of the Lord's presence on earth, but would not see it. He then announces the pretensions of false Christs, the true having been rejected, so that the people would be left a prey to the wiles of the enemy. His disciples were not to follow them. In connection with Jerusalem they would be exposed to these temptations, but they had the Lord's directions for guidance through them.
Now the Son of man, in His day, would be like the lightning: but, before that, He must suffer many things from the unbelieving Jews. The day would be like that of Lot, and that of Noe: men would be at ease, following their carnal occupations, like the world overtaken by the flood, and Sodom by the fire from heaven. It will be the revelation of the Son of man-His public revelation-sudden and vivid. This referred to Jerusalem. Being thus warned, their concern was to escape the judgment of the Son of man which, at the time of His coming, would fall upon the city that had rejected Him; for this Son of man, whom they had disowned, would come again in His glory. There must be no looking back; that would be to have the heart in the place of judgment. Better lose all, life itself, rather than be associated with that which was going to be judged. If they should escape and have their lives spared through unfaithfulness, the judgment was the judgment of God; He would know how to reach them in their bed, and to distinguish between two that were in one bed, and between two women who ground the corn of the household at the same mill.
This character of the judgment shews that it is not the destruction of Jerusalem by Titus that is meant. It was the judgment of God that could discern, take away, and spare. Neither is it the judgment of the dead, but a judgment on earth: they are in bed, they are at the mill, they are on the housetops and in the fields. Warned by the Lord, they were to forsake all, and to care only for Him who came to judge. If they asked where this should be-wherever the dead body lay, there would be the judgment that would come down like a vulture, which they could not see, but from which the prey would not escape.
── John Darby《Synopsis of Luke》
To avoid offences, To pray for increase of faith, Humility taught.11-19. Ten lepers cleansed. (1-10) Christ's kingdom. (20-37)
Commentary on Luke 17:1-10
(Read Luke 17:1-10)
It is no abatement of their guilt by whom an offence comes, nor will it lessen their punishment that offences will come. Faith in God's pardoning mercy, will enable us to get over the greatest difficulties in the way of forgiving our brethren. As with God nothing is impossible, so all things are possible to him that can believe. Our Lord showed his disciples their need of deep humility. The Lord has such a property in every creature, as no man can have in another; he cannot be in debt to them for their services, nor do they deserve any return from him.
Commentary on Luke 17:11-19
(Read Luke 17:11-19)
A sense of our spiritual leprosy should make us very humble whenever we draw near to Christ. It is enough to refer ourselves to the compassions of Christ, for they fail not. We may look for God to meet us with mercy, when we are found in the way of obedience. Only one of those who were healed returned to give thanks. It becomes us, like him, to be very humble in thanksgivings, as well as in prayers. Christ noticed the one who thus distinguished himself, he was a Samaritan. The others only got the outward cure, he alone got the spiritual blessing.
Commentary on Luke 17:20-37
(Read Luke 17:20-37)
The kingdom of God was among the Jews, or rather within some of them. It was a spiritual kingdom, set up in the heart by the power of Divine grace. Observe how it had been with sinners formerly, and in what state the judgments of God, which they had been warned of, found them. Here is shown what a dreadful surprise this destruction will be to the secure and sensual. Thus shall it be in the day when the Son of man is revealed. When Christ came to destroy the Jewish nation by the Roman armies, that nation was found in such a state of false security as is here spoken of. In like manner, when Jesus Christ shall come to judge the world, sinners will be found altogether regardless; for in like manner the sinners of every age go on securely in their evil ways, and remember not their latter end. But wherever the wicked are, who are marked for eternal ruin, they shall be found by the judgments of God.
── Matthew Henry《Concise Commentary on Luke》
 It were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he cast into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones.
Little ones — Weak believers.
 Take heed to yourselves: If thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive him.
Take heed to yourselves — That ye neither offend others, nor be offended by others. Matthew 18:15.
 And if he trespass against thee seven times in a day, and seven times in a day turn again to thee, saying, I repent; thou shalt forgive him.
If he sin against thee seven times in a day, and seven times in a day return, saying, I repent — That is, if he give sufficient proof that he does really repent, after having sinned ever so often, receive him just as if he had never sinned against thee. But this forgiveness is due only to real penitents. In a lower sense we are to forgive all, penitent or impenitent; (so as to bear them the sincerest good will, and to do them all the good we can;) and that not seven times only, but seventy times seven.
 And the apostles said unto the Lord, Increase our faith.
Lord, increase our faith — That we may thus forgive, and may neither offend nor be offended. Matthew 17:20.
 And the Lord said, If ye had faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye might say unto this sycamine tree, Be thou plucked up by the root, and be thou planted in the sea; and it should obey you.
And he said, If ye had faith as a grain of mustard seed — If ye had the least measure of true faith, no instance of duty would be too hard for you.
Ye would say to this sycamine tree — This seems to have been a kind of proverbial expression.
 But which of you, having a servant plowing or feeding cattle, will say unto him by and by, when he is come from the field, Go and sit down to meat?
But which of you — But is it not meet that you should first obey, and then triumph? Though still with a deep sense of your utter unprofitableness.
 Doth he thank that servant because he did the things that were commanded him? I trow not.
Doth he thank that servant — Does he account himself obliged to him?
 So likewise ye, when ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants: we have done that which was our duty to do.
When ye have done all, say, We are unprofitable servants — For a man cannot profit God. Happy is he who judges himself an unprofitable servant: miserable is he whom God pronounces such. But though we are unprofitable to him, our serving him is not unprofitable to us. For he is pleased to give by his grace a value to our good works, which in consequence of his promise entitles us to an eternal reward.
 And when he was demanded of the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God should come, he answered them and said, The kingdom of God cometh not with observation:
The kingdom of God cometh not with observation — With such outward pomp as draws the observation of every one.
 Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.
Neither shall they say, Lo here, or lo there — This shall not be the language of those who are, or shall be sent by me, to declare the coming of my kingdom.
For behold the kingdom of God is within or among you — Look not for it in distant times or remote places: it is now in the midst of you: it is come: it is present in the soul of every true believer: it is a spiritual kingdom, an internal principle. Wherever it exists, it exists in the heart.
 And he said unto the disciples, The days will come, when ye shall desire to see one of the days of the Son of man, and ye shall not see it.
Ye shall desire to see one of the days of the Son of man — One day of mercy. or one day wherein you might converse with me, as you do now.
 And they shall say to you, See here; or, see there: go not after them, nor follow them.
They shall say, See, Christ is here, or there — Limiting his presence to this or that place. Matthew 24:23.
 For as the lightning, that lighteneth out of the one part under heaven, shineth unto the other part under heaven; so shall also the Son of man be in his day.
So shall also the Son of man be — So swift, so wide, shall his appearing be: In his day - The last day.
 And as it was in the days of Noe, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of man.
The days of the Son of man — Those which immediately follow that which is eminently styled his day. Matthew 24:37.
 In that day, he which shall be upon the housetop, and his stuff in the house, let him not come down to take it away: and he that is in the field, let him likewise not return back.
In that day — (Which will be the grand type of the last day) when ye shall see Jerusalem encompassed with armies.
 Remember Lot's wife.
 Whosoever shall seek to save his life shall lose it; and whosoever shall lose his life shall preserve it.
The sense of this and the following verses is, Yet as great as the danger will be, do not seek to save your life by violating your conscience: if you do, you will surely lose it: whereas if you should lose it for my sake, you shall be paid with life everlasting. But the most probable way of preserving it now, is to be always ready to give it up: a peculiar Providence shall then watch over you, and put a difference between you and other men.
 And they answered and said unto him, Where, Lord? And he said unto them, Wheresoever the body is, thither will the eagles be gathered together.
── John ‘Wesley《Explanatory Notes on Luke》
Chapter 17. The Race of the Pilgrim
The Days of
The Days of Lot
I. Attitude of a servant
II. Where Are the Other Nine?
III. Seek the Kingdom of God
── Chih-Hsin Chang《An Outline of The New Testament》
The Unprofitable Servants (Lk 17:7-10)
1. Jesus often used the master-servant relationship in His parables to
teach His disciples important principles concerning their service to
a. Illustrating the importance of forgiveness in "The Unmerciful
Servant" - Mt 18:21-35
b. Condemning the mercenary spirit of service in "The Laborers In
The Vineyard" - Mt 20:1-16
c. Stressing the need for faithful and fruitful service in "The
Talents" - Mt 25:14-30
2. Once again He uses the master-service motif...
a. As He tells the parable known as "The Unprofitable Servants"
- Lk 17:7-10
b. In which He demonstrates an important attitude to be found in His
[As we study this parable, it might be well to ask ourselves: "What
should be our attitude about the service we render to God?" With that
question in mind, let's first consider...]
I. THE PARABLE ITSELF
A. THE CONTEXT...
1. It may appear this parable is disconnected to what preceded it
2. But in describing the power of faith (Lk 17:5-6), it would be
easy for the disciples to fall into a snare of pride
3. This parable would certainly help keep things in proper
B. THE DETAILS...
1. Jesus challenges His apostles to consider how they would act
toward a servant
a. As master, none of them would be expected to invite the
servant to sit down and eat with him - Lk 17:7
b. As master, any one of them would expect the servant to
prepare his meal and serve him, eating only after he is
done - Lk 17:8
c. As master, none of them would likely thank the servant for
doing what has been commanded of him - Lk 17:9
2. So they are to view themselves in regards to what they do as
a. When they have done that which they were commanded, they
should view themselves as "unprofitable" servants - Lk
b. That is, they have simply done their duty as servants,
doing nothing worthy of merit - Lk 17:10b
C. THE MEANING...
1. Be careful not to conclude that the parable presents the
proper attitude of the "master"
a. Jesus is depicting the normal expectation of a master to
make His point
b. In Lk 12:35-37, He describes what He Himself will do as
2. Instead, this parable is illustrating the proper attitude of
a. When all that is commanded is done, we have not earned or
b. We have simply done that which is our duty as servants
c. Whatever reward we might receive is due to grace, not
[This parable is therefore illustrating the attitude we should have
toward our own service to God. Since we were "bought at a price" (1 Co
6:20), we are truly servants and should have the proper attitude of
servitude. With this explanation, here are some thoughts related to...]
II. THE PARABLE APPLIED
A. IT REMOVES ANY IDEA OF EARNING OUR SALVATION...
1. Keeping God's commandments are important (see below), but they
do not merit or earn our salvation - cf. Ti 3:4-5; Ep 2:4-9
2. After everything we do, we are still "unprofitable servants"
- cf. Isa 64:6
3. Whatever reward we receive is one of grace, not merit!
B. IT STRESSES THE NEED FOR OBEDIENCE...
1. While we cannot earn or merit our reward, obedience is still
a. "We have done that which was our duty to do." - Lk 17:10
b. "...keeping the commandments of God is what matters." -
1 Co 7:19b
c. "He who says 'I know Him,' and does not keep His
commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in Him." -
1 Jn 2:4
2. Many people tend to equate obedience with legalism...
a. Especially when it is pointed out that they are not keeping
a particular command
b. But legalism involves the idea that one earns or merits
salvation by their obedience
c. If we believe that obedience earns our salvation, then we
are truly legalists
d. But if we obey God out of love and duty, we are simply
being faithful servants!
1. This parable reminds us of the need for obedience, as do other
a. Only those who do the Father's will enter the kingdom of heaven
- Mt 7:21
b. We must observe all that Christ commanded - Mt 28:20
c. Christ is the author of salvation to all who obey Him - He 5:9
d. When He comes again, those who did not obey His gospel will be
punished with everlasting destruction - 2 Th 1:7-9; cf. 1 Pe 4:17
2. But it's primary lesson is to remind us that no matter how much we
do for the Lord...
a. We are still "unprofitable servants"
b. Whatever we have done was our duty as servants to begin with
3. Therefore, whatever reward we receive will be one of grace and not
merit; and what wonderful grace that will be, to hear the Lord say
at the end of time:
"Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful
over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter
into the joy of your lord." (Mt 25:21)
Are you a faithful servant of the Lord Jesus Christ, doing that which
is your duty to do?