Study Notes—Chapter 11
Lord, teach us how to pray: Only Luke mentions the disciple’s request. This discussion on prayer occurred approximately 18 months after Jesus gave the Sermon on the Mount, in which he taught his disciples the model prayer. (Mt 6:9-13) Possibly this particular disciple was not present at that time, so Jesus kindly repeated the essential points of that model prayer. Prayer was a regular part of Jewish life and worship, and the Hebrew Scriptures contain numerous prayers in the book of Psalms and elsewhere. Therefore, it seems that the disciple was not asking to be taught something that he knew nothing about or that he had never done. Doubtless, he was also familiar with the formalistic prayers of the religious leaders of Judaism. But he had likely observed Jesus praying and sensed that there was a big difference between the sanctimonious prayers of the rabbis and the way Jesus prayed.—Mt 6:5-8.
Whenever you pray, say: The prayer that follows in verses 2b-4 reflects the substance of the model prayer that Jesus taught about 18 months earlier in the Sermon on the Mount. (Mt 6:9b-13). It is worth noting that he did not repeat the prayer word for word, indicating that he was not giving a liturgical prayer to be recited by rote. Also, later prayers by Jesus and his disciples did not rigidly adhere to the specific words or formula used in this model prayer.
name: See study note on Mt 6:9.
be sanctified: See study note on Mt 6:9.
Let your Kingdom come: See study note on Mt 6:10.
our bread according to our daily needs: In many contexts, the Hebrew and Greek words for “bread” simply mean “food.” (Ge 3:19; ftn.) Jesus thus indicates that those who serve God can confidently ask him to supply them, not with an excessive amount of provisions, but with adequate food for each day. Jesus’ statement may have reminded his disciples of God’s command to the Israelites to gather the miraculously provided manna, each one “his amount day by day.” (Ex 16:4) The wording of the petition here is similar, but not identical, to what Jesus taught the disciples approximately 18 months earlier in the Sermon on the Mount. (Mt 6:9b-13) This indicates that Jesus did not intend for this prayer to be recited word for word. (Mt 6:7) When Jesus repeated important teachings—as he did here on the subject of prayer—he did this in a way that would benefit those who had not been present on other occasions. He would remind those who had been present of the key points.
who is in debt to us: Or “who sins against us.” When sinning against someone, a person incurs a figurative debt to that one, or has an obligation to him, and must therefore seek his forgiveness. In the model prayer that Jesus taught in the Sermon on the Mount, he used the term “debts” instead of sins. (See study note on Mt 6:12.) The Greek word for forgive literally means “to let go,” that is, to let go of a debt by not demanding its repayment.
do not bring us into temptation: See study note on Mt 6:13.
Friend, lend me three loaves: In Middle Eastern culture, hospitality is a duty in which people love to excel, as reflected in this illustration. Even though the guest arrived unexpectedly at midnight, a detail that may reflect the uncertainties of travel at that time, the host felt strongly compelled to give him something to eat. He even felt obligated to disturb his neighbor at that hour to borrow food.
Stop bothering me: The neighbor in this illustration was reluctant to help, not because he was unfriendly, but because he had already gone to bed. Homes in those days, especially those of the poor, often consisted of only one large room. If the man of the house were to get up, he would likely disturb the whole family, including sleeping children.
bold persistence: The Greek word used here can literally be rendered “lack of modesty” or “shamelessness.” However, in this context, it denotes a persistent boldness or insistence. The man in Jesus’ illustration does not feel ashamed or hold back from asking persistently for what he needs, and Jesus tells his disciples that their prayers should likewise be persistent.—Lu 11:9, 10.
keep on asking, . . . seeking, . . . knocking: See study note on Mt 7:7.
you, although being wicked: See study note on Mt 7:11.
how much more so: See study note on Mt 7:11.
Beelzebub: Possibly an alteration of Baal-zebub, meaning “Owner (Lord) of the Flies,” the Baal worshipped by the Philistines at Ekron. (2Ki 1:3) Some Greek manuscripts use the alternate forms Beelzeboul or Beezeboul, possibly meaning “Owner (Lord) of the Lofty Abode (Habitation)” or if a play on the non-Biblical Hebrew word zeʹvel (dung), “Owner (Lord) of the Dung.” As shown at Lu 11:18, “Beelzebub” is a designation applied to Satan—the prince, or ruler, of the demons.
house: See study note on Mr 3:25.
God’s finger: That is, God’s holy spirit, as shown by Matthew’s account of an earlier, similar conversation. Here in Luke’s account, Jesus refers to expelling demons “by means of God’s finger,” whereas Matthew’s account refers to Jesus’ doing it “by means of God’s spirit,” or active force.—Mt 12:28.
swept clean: Some manuscripts read: “unoccupied, swept clean,” but the current main text reading has strong support in early authoritative manuscripts. Since the Greek word for “unoccupied” occurs at Mt 12:44, where Jesus makes a similar statement, some scholars are of the opinion that it may have been added to Luke’s account by copyists to harmonize with Matthew’s account.
the sign of Jonah: On an earlier occasion, Jesus used the expression “the sign of Jonah” and explained it as referring to his death and resurrection. (Mt 12:39, 40) Jonah had compared his deliverance from the belly of the fish after “three days and three nights” to being raised from the Grave. (Jon 1:17–2:2) Jesus’ resurrection from the literal grave was to be just as real as Jonah’s deliverance from the belly of the fish. However, even when Jesus was resurrected after having been dead for parts of three days, his hard-hearted critics still refused to exercise faith in him. Jonah also served as a sign by means of his bold preaching, which moved the Ninevites to repent.—Mt 12:41; Lu 11:32.
queen of the south: See study note on Mt 12:42.
look!: See study note on Mt 1:20.
a lamp: See study note on Mt 5:15.
a basket: See study note on Mt 5:15.
lamp of the body is your eye: See study note on Mt 6:22.
focused: See study note on Mt 6:22.
envious: See study note on Mt 6:23.
wash: That is, ceremonially cleanse himself. The Greek word ba·ptiʹzo (to dip; to immerse), a term that most often describes Christian baptism, is here used for a broad range of repeated ritual washings rooted in Jewish tradition.—See study note on Mr 7:4.
gifts of mercy: See study note on Mt 6:2.
the things that are from within: In view of his emphasis on justice and love in the following verse (Lu 11:42), Jesus may here have been referring to qualities of the heart. For a good deed to be an act of true mercy, it must be a gift that comes from inside—from a loving and willing heart.
tenth of the mint and of the rue and of every other garden herb: Under the Mosaic Law, the Israelites were to pay the tithe, or a tenth, of their crops. (Le 27:30; De 14:22) Although the Law did not explicitly command that they give a tenth of herbs like mint and rue, Jesus did not contradict the tradition. Rather, he reproved the scribes and the Pharisees for focusing on minor details of the Law while failing to promote its underlying principles, such as justice and love for God. When Jesus on a later occasion makes a similar statement, recorded at Mt 23:23, he mentions mint, dill, and cumin.
front seats: See study note on Mt 23:6.
marketplaces: See study note on Mt 23:7.
graves that are not clearly visible: Or “unmarked graves.” In general, Jewish tombs do not appear to have been ornate or ostentatious. As shown in this verse, some were so inconspicuous that people might have walked on them and become ceremonially unclean without being aware of it. The Law of Moses considered unclean those who had touched anything belonging to the dead, so a person walking on such unseen graves would become ceremonially unclean for seven days. (Nu 19:16) So that graves could be easily discovered and avoided, the Jews had them whitewashed each year. In this context, Jesus evidently meant that people who mixed freely with Pharisees, believing them to be good men, subconsciously became infected with their corrupt attitudes and unclean thinking.—See study note on Mt 23:27.
the wisdom of God also said: Evidently meaning: “God in his wisdom also said.” On a different occasion, Jesus said: “I am sending to you prophets and wise men and public instructors.”—Mt 23:34.
founding of the world: The Greek word for “founding” is rendered “to conceive” at Heb 11:11, where it is used with “offspring.” Here used in the expression “founding of the world,” it apparently refers to the birth of children to Adam and Eve. Jesus associates “the founding of the world” with Abel, evidently the first redeemable human of the world of mankind whose name had been written in the scroll of life “from the founding of the world.”—Lu 11:51; Re 17:8; see study note on Mt 25:34.
from the blood of Abel down to the blood of Zechariah: See study note on Mt 23:35.
between the altar and the house: The “house,” or temple, refers to the building that accommodated the Holy and the Most Holy. According to 2Ch 24:21, Zechariah was murdered “in the courtyard of Jehovah’s house.” The altar of burnt offering was in the inner courtyard, outside of and in front of the entrance to the temple sanctuary. (See App. B8.) This would correspond to the location that Jesus mentioned for the incident.
the key of knowledge: In the Bible, those who were given certain keys, whether literal or figurative, were entrusted with a degree of authority. (1Ch 9:26, 27; Isa 22:20-22) So the term “key” came to symbolize authority and responsibility. In this context, it seems that “knowledge” refers to divinely provided knowledge, since Jesus addresses religious leaders who were versed in the Law. They were supposed to use their authority and power to give the people accurate knowledge of God by explaining God’s word to them, unlocking its meaning. A comparison of this text with Mt 23:13, where Jesus states that the religious leaders had “shut up the Kingdom of the heavens before men,” indicates that the expression go in refers to gaining entrance into that Kingdom. By not giving the people the correct knowledge of God, the religious leaders took away the opportunity for many to understand God’s Word correctly and to enter into the Kingdom of God.
began to put extreme pressure on him: This expression can refer to physically crowding around someone, but here it seems to describe the hostility of the religious leaders as they use intense pressure to try to intimidate Jesus. The Greek verb used here is rendered “nursing a grudge” at Mr 6:19, where it describes Herodias’ relentless hatred for John the Baptist.