Capernaum: See study note on Mt 4:13.
he sent some elders of the Jews: The parallel account at Mt 8:5 says that “an army officer came to him [Jesus].” The Jewish elders were apparently acting as intermediaries on behalf of the army officer. Only Luke mentions this detail.
Soon afterward: Some ancient manuscripts read “On the following day,” but the main text reading used here has stronger manuscript support.
Nain: A Galilean city about 35 km (22 mi) SW of Capernaum, evidently the city that Jesus was coming from. (Lu 7:1-10) Nain, mentioned only here in the Christian Greek Scriptures, is identified with the modern-day village of Nein on the NW side of the hill of Moreh, about 10 km (6 mi) SSE of Nazareth. Today the village is quite small, but ruins in the area show that it was larger in earlier centuries. Overlooking the Plain of Jezreel and located in an attractive natural setting, Nain was the scene of the first of the three recorded resurrections that Jesus performed—the others were at Capernaum and at Bethany. (Lu 8:49-56; Joh 11:1-44) Some 900 years earlier, in the nearby town of Shunem, the prophet Elisha resurrected the son of a Shunammite woman.—2Ki 4:8-37.
the gate of the city: The Greek word poʹlis (“city”) is used three times with regard to Nain. While this term usually denotes a walled city, it is uncertain whether a wall surrounded Nain. If there was no city wall, the “gate” may simply have been an opening between the houses by which a road entered Nain. However, some archaeologists believe that a wall surrounded Nain. In either case, Jesus and his disciples may have met the funeral procession at a “gate” at Nain’s eastern entrance, which was in the direction of the hillside tombs lying to the SE of the modern-day village of Nein.
only: The Greek word mo·no·ge·nesʹ, traditionally rendered “only-begotten,” has been defined as “the only one of its kind; one and only; the only one or member of a class or kind; unique.” The term is used in describing the relation of both sons and daughters to their parents. In this context, it is used in the sense of an only child. The same Greek word is also used of Jairus’ “only” daughter and of a man’s “only” son, whom Jesus healed. (Lu 8:41, 42; 9:38) The Greek Septuagint uses mo·no·ge·nesʹ when speaking of Jephthah’s daughter, concerning whom it is written: “Now she was his one and only child. Besides her, he had neither son nor daughter.” (Jg 11:34) In the apostle John’s writings, mo·no·ge·nesʹ is used five times in reference to Jesus.—For the meaning of the term when used about Jesus, see study notes on Joh 1:14; 3:16.
moved with pity: Or “felt compassion.” The Greek verb splag·khniʹzo·mai used for this expression is related to the word for “intestines” (splagʹkhna), denoting a deeply felt, intense emotion. It is one of the strongest words in Greek for the feeling of compassion.
two of his disciples: The parallel account at Mt 11:2, 3 simply says that John the Baptist sent “his disciples.” Luke adds the detail about the number of disciples.
neither eating bread nor drinking wine: See study note on Mt 11:18.
tax collectors: See study note on Mt 5:46.
its children: Or “its results.” Here wisdom is personified and depicted as having children. In the parallel account at Mt 11:19, wisdom is depicted as having “works.” Wisdom’s children, or works—that is, the evidence produced by John the Baptist and Jesus—prove that the accusations against them are false. Jesus is, in effect, saying: ‘Look at the righteous works and conduct, and you will know that the charge is false.’
entered the house of the Pharisee: Of the four Gospel writers, only Luke mentions that Jesus received and accepted invitations from Pharisees to dine with them. Other instances are mentioned at Lu 11:37; 14:1.
a woman who was known . . . to be a sinner: The Bible shows that all humans are sinners. (2Ch 6:36; Ro 3:23; 5:12) Therefore, the term “sinner” is here used in a more specific way, evidently referring to those who had a reputation for practicing sin, perhaps of a moral or a criminal nature. (Lu 19:7, 8) Only Luke records this account about the sinful woman, perhaps a prostitute, pouring oil on Jesus’ feet. The Greek expression rendered “who was known . . . to be” is literally “who was,” but as used in this context, it likely refers to a characteristic quality or character of a person or to a class to which an individual belongs.
Two men were debtors: Jews living in the first century C.E. were familiar with the relationship between creditors and debtors, and Jesus at times drew on this knowledge for his illustrations. (Mt 18:23-35; Lu 16:1-8) Only Luke records this illustration of the two debtors, one of whom owed ten times as much as the other. Jesus gave the illustration because of the attitude that his host, Simon, had toward the woman who came in and poured perfumed oil on Jesus’ feet. (Lu 7:36-40) Jesus likens sin to a debt too big to be repaid and highlights the principle: “The one who is forgiven little, loves little.”—Lu 7:47; see study notes on Mt 6:12; 18:27; Lu 11:4.
denarii: A denarius was a Roman silver coin that weighed about 3.85 g (0.124 oz t) and bore an image of Caesar on one side. As Mt 20:2 shows, agricultural laborers in Jesus’ day commonly received a denarius for a 12-hour workday.—See Glossary, “Denarius,” and App. B14.
water for my feet: In ancient times, as in many parts of the earth today, walking was the main way of traveling. Some of the common people went barefoot, but many wore sandals consisting of little more than a sole and some leather straps. On entering a house, a person removed his sandals. An essential mark of hospitality was that of washing the feet of a guest. This service was performed either by the householder or by a servant. At the very least, water was provided for that purpose.—Ge 18:4; 24:32; 1Sa 25:41; Lu 7:37, 38.
You gave me no kiss: In Bible times, a kiss served as a token of affection or respect. The act of kissing might have included touching one’s lips to those of another (Pr 24:26), kissing another person’s cheek or, in an exceptional case, even kissing his feet (Lu 7:37, 38). Kissing was common not only between male and female relatives (Ge 29:11; 31:28) but also between male relatives (Ge 27:26, 27; 45:15; Ex 18:7; 2Sa 14:33). It was likewise a gesture of affection between close friends.—1Sa 20:41, 42; 2Sa 19:39.