Luke Seventeen

by Dr. Henry M. Morris

(taken from the Defender's Study Bible)

Luke 17:1 Then said he unto the disciples, It is impossible but that offences will come: but woe unto him, through whom they come!

Luke 17:2 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.

millstone. The Greek method of capital punishment was to hang a heavy millstone around the neck of the condemned man and then cast him into the sea to drown.

Luke 17:3 Take heed to yourselves: If thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive him.

Luke 17:4 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.

Luke 17:5 And the apostles said unto the Lord, Increase our faith.

Luke 17:6 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.

sycamine tree. Probably equivalent to our mulberry tree.

Luke 17:7 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?

having a servant. This is a parable dealing with service for the Lord. The “servant” is actually a slave, required to do his master's bidding. His ministry of plowing and feeding suggests the familiar parallel of caring for sheep, the duties of a shepherd, or “pastor.” In fact, the words “feeding cattle” could better be translated “pasturing.”

Luke 17:8 And will not rather say unto him, Make ready wherewith I may sup, and gird thyself, and serve me, till I have eaten and drunken; and afterward thou shalt eat and drink?

Make ready. After his pasturing duties are done, the bondslave (symbolizing a Christian redeemed to serve Christ) is expected then to serve his master. This requires proper preparation (“make ready”) and equipment (“gird thyself”). Then the slave is ready to “serve me.” Here a different Greek word is used, meaning “minister to me.” Perhaps the analogy is that feeding the sheep is a duty, while feeding the master is a ministry.

Luke 17:9 Doth he thank that servant because he did the things that were commanded him? I trow not.

trow. That is, “think.”

Luke 17:10 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.

our duty. “Duty” here actually means “debt.” As bondslaves to Christ, we owe Him many debts. As Paul says, “I am debtor … to preach the gospel” (Romans 1:14-15). No longer “to live after the flesh” is also a debt we owe (Romans 8:13). We “ought [same word] to bear the infirmities of the weak” (Romans 15:1), “to love one another” (xTerm 4:11), “to be teachers” (Hebrews 5:12), and “to walk as He walked” (xTerm 2:6).

Luke 17:11 And it came to pass, as he went to Jerusalem, that he passed through the midst of Samaria and Galilee.

Luke 17:12 And as he entered into a certain village, there met him ten men that were lepers, which stood afar off:

Luke 17:13 And they lifted up their voices, and said, Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.

Luke 17:14 And when he saw them, he said unto them, Go show yourselves unto the priests. And it came to pass, that, as they went, they were cleansed.

Luke 17:15 And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, and with a loud voice glorified God,

Luke 17:16 And fell down on his face at his feet, giving him thanks: and he was a Samaritan.

Luke 17:17 And Jesus answering said, Were there not ten cleansed? but where are the nine?

where are the nine. The Lord takes note of both those who thank Him and those who do not. Compare Luke 7:44-46. He actually seeks those who will worship him (John 4:23).

Luke 17:18 There are not found that returned to give glory to God, save this stranger.

this stranger. The one thankful ex-leper was a Samaritan (Luke 17:16), just as the caring traveler in Jesus' parable of the good Samaritan (Luke 10:33). Jesus also went out of His way to speak to the Samaritan woman at the well (John 4:9) and to instruct His apostles to witness to the Samaritans as well as the Jews (Acts 1:8).

Luke 17:19 And he said unto him, Arise, go thy way: thy faith hath made thee whole.

made thee whole. The one leper was made whole; the other nine were cleansed outwardly, but the grateful Samaritan had saving faith and was healed inwardly as well.

Luke 17:20 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:

Luke 17:21 Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.

within you. The kingdom of God has many aspects and phases (see notes on Matthew 3:2). One first enters the kingdom of God in its spiritual aspect when he or she is born again (John 3:3), and it is this aspect which the Lord emphasized here. “For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost” (Romans 14:17). Whenever the disciples of Christ are being persecuted for their faith or are having other difficult times, they find themselves wondering “when the kingdom of God should come” (Luke 17:20). In fact, Christ Himself, urged us to pray: “Thy kingdom come” (Matthew 6:10), and indeed this physical aspect—the kingdom of God on earth, with Christ reigning in righteousness—would indeed come, as He would shortly make clear (Luke 17:24-37). In the meantime, however, as they wait for His coming, believers should remember that His kingdom is already present, in the person of the indwelling Holy Spirit, who is “the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession” (Ephesians 1:14).

Luke 17:22 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.

Luke 17:23 And they shall say to you, See here; or, see there: go not after them, nor follow them.

Luke 17:24 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.

as the lightning. No matter how difficult the situation becomes, the believer must always reject any claims that Christ has already come, and is hiding somewhere (Luke 17:21; also see Matthew 24:26). When He does first come, believers will suddenly be translated from this earth into His presence (Luke 17:34-36; also 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17). When He later comes finally again to the earth itself, His presence will hardly be secret, for it will be seen all over the world.

Luke 17:25 But first must he suffer many things, and be rejected of this generation.

Luke 17:26 And as it was in the days of Noe, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of man.

days of Noe. Many of the characteristics of the days of Noah and Lot are indeed recurring today, indicating that the return of Christ may be soon. These include the following:

  1. Physical appetites (Luke 17:27)
  2. Secularism (Luke 17:28)
  3. Disregard of marriage (Matthew 24:38)
  4. Uniformitarianism (Hebrews 11:7)
  5. Disobedience (1 Peter 3:20)
  6. Ungodliness (Jude 15)
  7. Unbelief (2 Peter 2:5)
  8. Blasphemy (Jude 15)
  9. Population increase (Genesis 6:1, 11)
  10. Hedonism (Genesis 4:21)
  11. Technology (Genesis 4:22)
  12. Violence (Genesis 6:11, 13)
  13. Corruption (Genesis 6:12)
  14. Sexual Promiscuity (Genesis 4:19; 6:2)
  15. Homosexuality (Genesis 19:4-5)
  16. Organized Satanic activity (Genesis 6:1-4)

Luke 17:27 They did eat, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, and the flood came, and destroyed them all.

Luke 17:28 Likewise also as it was in the days of Lot; they did eat, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they builded;

Luke 17:29 But the same day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven, and destroyed them all.

Luke 17:30 Even thus shall it be in the day when the Son of man is revealed.

Luke 17:31 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.

Luke 17:32 Remember Lot's wife.

Lot's wife. The Lord here confirms the historicity of the remarkable story of Lot's wife (Genesis 19:26).

Luke 17:33 Whosoever shall seek to save his life shall lose it; and whosoever shall lose his life shall preserve it.

Luke 17:34 I tell you, in that night there shall be two men in one bed; the one shall be taken, and the other shall be left.

in one bed. When the Lord comes, it will be night when men are in bed. But it will also be early morn, when women are grinding meal (Luke 17:35) and mid-day, when men are working in the field (Luke 17:36). This is possible only if the earth is round and rotating daily on its axis.

Luke 17:35 Two women shall be grinding together; the one shall be taken, and the other left.

the other left. The return of the Lord, like His first coming, will entail many events stretched over a period of time. It will be initiated by the sudden translation of believers out of the unbelieving world, as described more fully in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-5:10. Thus the Lord frequently exhorted His disciples (including us) always to be watchful and ready for His coming (e.g., Luke 21:36), an admonition which would be pointless under any other interpretation of such Scriptures.

Luke 17:36 Two men shall be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left.

Luke 17:37 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.

gathered together. These “eagles” actually are vultures, and they will be gathering together “unto the supper of the great God” (Revelation 19:17), to eat “the flesh of all men, both free and bond, both small and great” (Revelation 19:18). This will be the final event of the great tribulation, when the rebels of the earth are all slain by Christ at Armageddon, and “all the fowls were filled with their flesh” (Revelation 19:21).