Luke 17

Luke 17:1

He said to His disciples, “It is inevitable that stumbling blocks come, but woe to him through whom they come!

Stumbling blocks are those who hinder people from coming to the Savior.

The world is lost and in need of salvation, and God uses his little ones (see next verse) to reveal the Savior. Those who cause Christ’s ambassadors to stay silent, are hindering people from being saved.

Luke 17:2

“It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck and he were thrown into the sea, than that he would cause one of these little ones to stumble.

(a) Millstone. Tying weights to people’s necks and drowning them was something the Romans did in special cases of infamy. Jesus is basically saying, “Because the business of saving lives is such a serious business, whoever sidelines an ambassador of mine does incalculable harm.”

(b) Little ones. A believer. Someone who depends on the Lord like a helpless child (see Matt. 18:3–4).

(c) Stumble or offend.

Jesus is talking about religious-types who preach dead works and cause Christians to have doubts about the grace of God (e.g., the Judaizers). An example would be the Jews from the circumcision group who caused Peter withdrew from the Gentiles and come under condemnation. Thankfully, Paul was able to bring Peter back. “I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned” (Gal. 2:11).

Further reading: “The one about the millstone and the sea

Luke 17:3

“Be on your guard! If your brother sins, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him.

(a) If he repents. In Luke’s account repentance is a condition for forgiveness. But in Matthew’s version, we are exhorted to forgive the sinning brother unconditionally. (see entry for Matt. 18:21).

(b) Forgive him means don’t hold his sin against him. See entry for Forgiveness.

Luke 17:4

“And if he sins against you seven times a day, and returns to you seven times, saying, ‘I repent,’ forgive him.”

(a) If he sins seven times… forgive him. In other words, be extravagant with your forgiveness. Forgive as Christ forgave you – without hesitation, reservation, or qualification (Col. 3:13).

(b) I repent. See previous verse.

Luke 17:5

The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!”

(a) The apostles; see entry for Luke 6:13

(b) Increase our faith! Many Christians have prayed the same thing, but as Jesus is about to explain, we don’t need more faith.

Since God has given every one of us a measure of faith (Rom. 12:3), it’s inaccurate to say “I have no faith.” Your faith may be weak like an undeveloped muscle, but you have faith none the less. You don’t need extra faith any more than you need extra arms and legs. You just need to use the faith you have (Rom. 12:6). Just as you build your muscles with use, you can grow your faith by putting it to work (2 Cor. 10:15, 2 Th. 1:3).

Luke 17:6

And the Lord said, “If you had faith like a mustard seed, you would say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and be planted in the sea’; and it would obey you.

(a) Faith like a mustard seed. We don’t need great faith to draw upon the abundance of God’s grace; we just need to believe.

(b) This mulberry tree. In Matthew’s account, Jesus said our faith could move mountains (Matt. 17:20).

Luke 17:13

and they raised their voices, saying, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!”

Mercy is how grace appears to the needy. See entry for Mercy.

Luke 17:19

And He said to him, “Stand up and go; your faith has made you well.”

(a) Your faith has made you well. It is the grace of God that brings healing, but since grace only comes by faith (Eph. 2:8), Jesus said what he said.

(b) Made you well can also be translated made whole. The original word (sozo) is usually translated as save (e.g., Matt. 1:21), but it also implies healing. When Jesus healed the sick, he sozo ed them; he healed them (Mark 5:23), delivered them (Luke 8:36) and made them whole (Matt. 9:21). See entry for Salvation.

Luke 17:20

Now having been questioned by the Pharisees as to when the kingdom of God was coming, He answered them and said, “The kingdom of God is not coming with signs to be observed;

(a) The Pharisees weren’t the only ones wondering when the kingdom of God was coming. Having heralded Jesus as the promised Messiah, John the Baptist began to wonder if he’d made a bad call (Matt. 11:3). Where was the winnowing fork? Where was the judgment?

(b) The kingdom of God is synonymous with the kingdom of heaven; see entry for Matt. 3:2.

(e) Signs to be observed. The religious leaders were looking for Messiah who would purge Israel of Gentiles and sinners. They did not register that the healing of the sick, the casting out of demons, and the poor hearing the gospel were signs that the kingdom had come (Matt. 11:5, Luke 11:20).

Luke 17:21

nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or, ‘There it is!’ For behold, the kingdom of God is in your midst.”

(a) There it is! The Pharisees were looking for external signs such as the Messiah sitting on the throne or heavenly armies driving out Romans. “You’re looking for the wrong thing,” said Jesus. Or rather, they were looking in the wrong direction.

Luke 17:22

And He said to the disciples, “The days will come when you will long to see one of the days of the Son of Man, and you will not see it.

(a) You will long to see one of the days of the Son of Man. When you see some injustice or evil, you might pray, “Come, Lord Jesus, and put an end to this suffering.” It’s possible that the disciples prayed this prayer when they saw the calamities that afflicted Judea in the generation after Christ’s resurrection. They saw false messiahs leading people to their deaths, and heard about the Roman siege machines smashing Galilean towns (see entry for Luke 21:23). They would’ve longed to see King Jesus return in power.

(b) The days of the Son of Man. The return of the Lord, a.k.a. the final coming.

(c) You will not see it. There were many things the disciples would see – wars, famines, tribulation – but there was one thing they wouldn’t see. In the coming generation they would see Jerusalem fall (Matt. 24:34), but they wouldn’t see Christ return. They would see the temple come down but not the Lord. That event was for a future generation.

Luke 17:23

“They will say to you, ‘Look there! Look here!’ Do not go away, and do not run after them.

See entry for Matt. 24:26.

Luke 17:24

“For just like the lightning, when it flashes out of one part of the sky, shines to the other part of the sky, so will the Son of Man be in His day.

See entry for Matt. 24:27.

Luke 17:26

“And just as it happened in the days of Noah, so it will be also in the days of the Son of Man:

(a) The days of Noah. Jesus described his return with a number of metaphors that all riffed on the theme of unexpectedness (see next verse). The coming of the Son of Man will be like lightning, visible from east to west. It will be as it was in the days of Noah when people knew nothing until it happened. It will be like a thief coming when you don’t expect him, or a master returning to his household, or a bridegroom coming to his wedding.

(b) The days of the Son of Man a.k.a. the final coming or return of the Lord to earth. This event is also referred to as the day of Christ (Php. 1:6, 10, 2:16), the day of the Lord (Acts 2:20, 1 Cor. 5:5, 1 Th. 5:2, 2 Th. 2:2, 2 Pet. 3:10), or the day when Jesus is revealed from heaven (2 Th. 1:7).

Luke 17:28

“It was the same as happened in the days of Lot: they were eating, they were drinking, they were buying, they were selling, they were planting, they were building;

The return of the Son of Man will be like the days of Noah and the days of Lot. In both stories the righteous were taken away and saved; Noah by means of an ark and Lot by means of an angel. From these stories we might conclude that the righteous are taken out of danger by the Lord.

But Jesus also told stories where the wicked are taken away from the righteous, the weeds are weeded out of the kingdom (Matt. 13:40), and the bad fish are discarded from the net (Matt. 13:48). From these stories we may surmise that the wicked are removed.

Or it could be both. The righteous are taken or caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air (see entry for 1 Th. 4:17), and then the wicked are removed as per the parables. Either way, when Jesus returns there will be some sort of separation (Matt. 25:32). “Do you suppose that I came to grant peace on earth? I tell you, no, but rather division” (Luke 12:51).

Luke 17:29

but on the day that Lot went out from Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven and destroyed them all.

Fire and brimstone. What happened to Sodom and Gomorrah is a picture of what will happen to the ungodly on Judgment Day (2 Pet. 2:6, 3:7).

Luke 17:30

“It will be just the same on the day that the Son of Man is revealed.

(a) The day is the final return of the Lord to earth. This event is also referred to as the day of Christ (Php. 1:6, 10, 2:16), the day of the Lord (Acts 2:20, 1 Cor. 5:5, 1 Th. 5:2, 2 Th. 2:2, 2 Pet. 3:10), the day when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven (2 Th. 1:7). See entry for Matt. 10:15.

(b) The Son of Man; see entry for Matt. 8:20.

Luke 17:33

“Whoever seeks to keep his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life will preserve it.

(a) Keep his life. The original word for life (psuchē) usually refers to soul-life. (The word psychology comes from the word psuchē.) It is the fleshly life we inherit from Adam.

(b) Will lose it. Live for the appetites of the flesh and you will lose your true self. Run after the inferior pleasures of the world and you will lose your soul. What profit is that (Matt. 16:26)?

(c) Loses his life. There are two ways to lose your life. The first is to be consumed by your own appetites until your life is little more than eating and drinking and running after fleeting pleasures. The second is to turn your back on that inferior life because you have found something better by far.

(d) Will preserve it. Real life – the kind Jesus offers – is found in fellowship with God.

The bottom-line hasn’t changed. God is inviting us to a love-relationship based on trust. He wants us to look to him as our Source (Matt. 6:25). See entry for New Life.

Luke 17:34–36

“I tell you, on that night there will be two in one bed; one will be taken and the other will be left. “There will be two women grinding at the same place; one will be taken and the other will be left. [“Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other will be left.”]

See entry for Matt. 24:40.

Luke 17:37

And answering they said to Him, “Where, Lord?” And He said to them, “Where the body is, there also the vultures will be gathered.”

See entry for Matt. 24:28.

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