Luke 18

Luke 18:7

now, will not God bring about justice for His elect who cry to Him day and night, and will He delay long over them?

His elect. The word for elect means chosen. “Many are called, but few are chosen,” said Jesus (Matt. 22:14). God’s call goes out to all but not all respond. Those who do are called the elect or the chosen. “For you are a chosen generation” (1 Pet. 2:9).

In a manner of speaking, the chosen choose themselves. But since the Lord initiates the call, it’s accurate to say we are God’s chosen. “He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world” (Eph. 1:4).

Luke 18:9

And He also told this parable to some people who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and viewed others with contempt:

(a) Trusted that they were righteous. Self-righteousness is trusting in your own righteousness. It is believing that you can make yourself right with God.

Jesus and the epistle writers drew a line between our righteousness (Matt. 6:1, Rom. 9:31, 10:3, 5) and the righteousness that comes from God (see entry for Matt. 6:33).

(b) Viewed others with contempt. Self-righteousness is sometimes manifested in feelings of superiority towards others. “I am right, you are wrong. My way is better than your way.”

See entry for Self-righteousness.

Luke 18:11

“The Pharisee stood and was praying this to himself: ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other people: swindlers, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector.

I am not like other people. The self-righteous man justifies himself by comparing his performance with others. But this kind of comparative righteousness only testifies to sin. “I am not such a bad sinner as others, but I am a sinner nonetheless.”

Our righteousness can never be established by reference to sin. True righteousness is a gift from God. True righteousness comes from trusting in Jesus, the Righteous One (2 Cor. 5:21).

Luke 18:12

‘I fast twice a week; I pay tithes of all that I get.’

(a) I fast twice a week. The self-righteous man boasts about his religious performance. “Look at all I am doing for the Lord.”

(b) I pay tithes of all that I get. The self-righteous man sees himself as a law-keeper. “I am blameless in terms of the law” (Php. 3:6). He does not tithe from a heart of generosity, but because tithing earns him the favor of heaven – or so he thinks.

Luke 18:13

“But the tax collector, standing some distance away, was even unwilling to lift up his eyes to heaven, but was beating his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, the sinner!’

God, be merciful. Mercy is God’s help in our time of need (Heb. 4:16). Mercy is God forgiving all our sins (Heb. 8:12).

Mercy is one facet of God’s grace (Heb. 4:16). Just as God is rich in grace (Eph. 1:7, 2:7), he is rich in mercy (Eph. 2:4). He is the God of all grace (1 Pet. 5:10) and the Father of all mercies (2 Cor. 1:3).

Luke 18:14

“I tell you, this man went to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted.”

Justified. To be justified, is to be made right with God. No one is justified or made right with God by doing good works or keeping the law (see entry for Rom. 3:20). Rather, our justification is paid for with the blood of Jesus (Rom. 5:9) and comes to us as a gift of grace (Rom. 3:24, Tit. 3:7) that is received by faith (Rom. 3:28, 5:1, Gal. 3:24).

See entry for Justification.

Luke 18:18

A ruler questioned Him, saying, “Good Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?”

(a) A ruler. A wealthy Jewish official.

(b) What shall I do to inherit eternal life? There is nothing you can do to inherit eternal life – it’s an inheritance. You only get it when someone dies, and Someone did.

Like the ruler, some people are confused about salvation. They think that if they are basically good people, God will have to admit them into his kingdom. Such people are truly lost for they are relying on their self-righteousness. See entry for Self-righteousness. Salvation comes to us by grace, like an inheritance or gift. You cannot earn it. You can only receive it by faith (Eph. 2:8).

This same question was put to Jesus by lawyer (Luke 10:25).

(c) Inherit eternal life. Eternal life is an inheritance to receive not a wage to be earned, and in Christ we have it.

In Christ we are heirs of salvation (Heb. 1:14), heirs of eternal life (Matt. 19:29, Mark 10:17, Eph. 1:14, Tit. 3:7), and heirs of blessed and gracious life (Eph. 1:3, 1 Pet. 3:7, 9). See entry for Inheritance.

(d) Eternal life is living forever in union with Jesus; see entry for John 3:15.

Luke 18:19

And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good except God alone.

(a) Why do you call Me good? Jesus knew the ruler was self-righteous and considered himself a good man. Jesus cut straight to the heart of the man’s sin by immediately challenging his standard of goodness (Rom. 3:12).

Self-righteousness is judging yourself by your own standard of righteousness. When you decide what is good and right, perhaps on the basis of your own moral judgment or the law, you are eating from the wrong tree and usurping God’s role as the Righteous Judge. True righteousness comes from trusting in Jesus, the Righteous One (2 Cor. 5:21).

(b) No one is good except God alone. God alone is the definition of goodness and righteousness.

Some people have a distorted view of God’s goodness. They think God is sometimes good and sometimes bad. Or they think his goodness is a response to our goodness. “If I do something good (e.g., repent), he’ll do something good (he’ll forgive).” This transactional view is wrong. God’s goodness, like sunshine, is unrelated to our behavior. God is always good.

Luke 18:20


Honor. Some have been told they must hate their parents because of what Jesus said in Luke 14:26. But Jesus doesn’t want us to hate anyone (Matt 5:43–44), and our parents are worthy of honor.

Luke 18:21

And he said, “All these things I have kept from my youth.”

The self-righteous man boasts in his law-keeping. “God must be pleased with me because I have kept the rules and passed the test.” He does not realize that he is an idolater glorifying himself and a law-breaker to boot (see Jas. 2:10). By claiming to be good on his own merits, he effectively calls God a liar (see Rom. 3:10, 23).

Luke 18:22

When Jesus heard this, He said to him, “One thing you still lack; sell all that you possess and distribute it to the poor, and you shall have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.”

(a) Distribute it to the poor. Don’t invest in worldly wealth that fades away but store up heavenly treasure.

The Jews understood that giving to the poor was a pathway to blessing and a way to store up heavenly treasure (Deu. 15:10). “One who is gracious to a poor man lends to the Lord, and he will repay him for his good deed” (Pro. 19:17).

(b) Treasure in heaven refers to people.

People are the treasure that moth and rust can’t touch and thieves can’t steal. When the Bible talks about spiritual offspring or eternal friends, it is referring to the only treasure you can take with you. Why did Jesus give up everything he have? To win you. You are his treasure.

See entry for Heavenly Treasure.

Luke 18:24

And Jesus looked at him and said, “How hard it is for those who are wealthy to enter the kingdom of God!

(a) How hard. Jesus doesn’t make it hard for people to enter the kingdom; trusting in riches makes it hard (1 Tim. 6:9, 17). Jesus is lamenting the allure of worldly wealth. One can either serve God or mammon (Matt. 6:24). To run after wealth or let it rule you is the root of all kinds of evil (1 Tim. 6:10).

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

Luke 18:25

“For it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.”

A camel. Scholars debate whether the original word meant camel or rope. Either way, Jesus is describing something that is essentially impossible (see Luke 18:27). It is difficult for those who have been ensnared by the love of money to enter the kingdom. But what is impossible for man, is possible for God. Zacchaeus the tax collector, Joseph of Arimathea, and Barnabas were all wealthy men who became believers.

Luke 18:26

They who heard it said, “Then who can be saved?”

(a) Who heard it. In Mark’s account it was the disciples who were astonished by Christ’s words (Mark 10:24, 26). They were astonished because under the law-keeping covenant, those who were rich were thought to be blessed by God (see Deut. 28:1–8). To hear that the rich were disadvantaged and poor were blessed when it came to the kingdom was a great turnaround (Luke 6:20, 24).

(b) Who can be saved? “If rich people, who are blessed by God, can’t be saved, what chance do the rest of us have?”

Luke 18:27

But He said, “The things that are impossible with people are possible with God.”

(a) Impossible. Under the old covenant, wealth was seen as a sign of God’s favor. It was a blessing given to those who obeyed the law. But all the wealth in the world would not get you into the kingdom, said Jesus. You could keep all the laws perfectly and you would still not get in. Which is bad news for those who were relying on the law.

(b) Possible. What the law fails to do, grace accomplishes. Grace qualifies poor and rich alike, which is why the New Testament church had rich people like Zacchaeus the tax collector, Joseph of Arimathea, and Barnabas the apostle.

Luke 18:28

Peter said, “Behold, we have left our own homes and followed You.”

Left unstated is the question recorded in Matthew. What then will there be for us? See entry for Matt. 19:27.

Luke 18:29

And He said to them, “Truly I say to you, there is no one who has left house or wife or brothers or parents or children, for the sake of the kingdom of God,

(a) Truly I say to you. Jesus is about to make an astonishing claim about the rewards of the Christian life (see next verse).

(b) No one who has left. There is a cost in following Jesus. You will have to leave your old way of life and that could mean losing friendships. You might even be rejected by your family. But there is a handsome return to this investment (see next verse).

(c) Wife. In their renderings of this verse, Matthew and Mark do not mention wives. Could it be that Dr. Luke had a wife who stayed home while he travelled with the Apostle Paul?

(d) For the sake of the kingdom of God. Matthew and Mark in their respective renderings of this verse add for my name’s sake and the gospel’s sake (Matt. 19:29, Mark 10:29). There is no difference. We turn our back on the world for the sake of the gospel of King Jesus.

Luke 18:30

who will not receive many times as much at this time and in the age to come, eternal life.”

(a) Will not receive many times as much, and indeed, a hundred times as much. See entry for Mark 10:30.

(b) Eternal life. Two kinds of life are described in the Bible; the psuche– or soul life we inherited from Adam and the zoe– or spirit life that comes from God (John 5:26). It’s the second kind of life that is described here. See entry for New Life.

Luke 18:33

and after they have scourged Him, they will kill Him; and the third day He will rise again.”

The third day. On several occasions Jesus prophesied that he would be killed and raised on the third day. See entry for Matt. 17:23.

Luke 18:38

And he called out, saying, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”

(a) The son of David was another name for the Messiah. See entry for Matt. 1:1.

(b) Mercy is what grace looks like when you are needy. See entry for Mercy.

Luke 18:42

And Jesus said to him, “Receive your sight; your faith has made you well.”

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.

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