an illustration: Or “a parable.”—See study note on Mt 13:3.
the need for them always to pray: Luke alone mentions the illustration recorded in verses 2-8, providing another example of how his Gospel emphasizes the matter of prayer.—Lu 1:10, 13; 2:37; 3:21; 6:12; 9:28, 29; 11:1; 18:1-8; 22:39-46; 23:46.
a judge: Jesus is apparently referring to a judge or police magistrate appointed by the Romans. It seems that the judge mentioned in this illustration does not fit into the Jewish judicial arrangement in which at least a three-man court officiated. Also, the judge did not fear God and had no respect for any human, that is, he was not concerned about what other people thought.
not . . . respect any man: In this context, it means not being constrained by public opinion or not being overly concerned about what other people think.—See study note on Lu 18:2.
wearing me out with her demand: Or “pummeling me to a finish.” Lit., “hitting me under [that is, under the eye] into the end.” The Greek verb hy·po·pi·aʹzo used here has been defined “to strike in the face; to give a black eye.” Here it is evidently used figuratively to convey the idea of causing someone constant annoyance or wearing someone out completely. Some scholars feel that the term conveys the idea of damaging someone’s reputation. As the expression is used in this context, it describes the feeling of the judge, who was at first unwilling to listen to the widow’s plea for justice but who was moved to act because of her persistence. (Lu 18:1-4) The illustration does not say that God is like the unrighteous judge; rather, it contrasts God with the judge. If this unrighteous judge would eventually do what was right, how much more so would God! Like the widow, God’s servants must persist in asking Jehovah for his help. God, who is righteous, will respond in answer to their prayer, causing justice to be done.—Lu 18:6, 7.
this faith: Or “this kind of faith.” Lit., “the faith.” The use of the Greek definite article before the word “faith” indicates that Jesus was referring, not to faith in a general sense, but to a particular kind of faith, like that of the widow in Jesus’ illustration. (Lu 18:1-8) This would include having faith in the power of prayer as well as faith that God will cause justice to be done to his chosen ones. Jesus apparently left the question about faith unanswered so that his disciples would think about the quality of their own faith. The illustration about prayer and faith was particularly appropriate because Jesus had just been describing the tests his disciples would face.—Lu 17:22-37.
the temple: Those who went to the temple to pray did not go into the Holy or the Most Holy, but they were permitted to enter the surrounding courtyards. Evidently, in this illustration the two Jewish men are portrayed as standing in one of the courts.—See App. B11.
extortioners: When the Romans ruled Israel, Jewish tax collectors were often guilty of extortion. Their position provided them with many opportunities to enrich themselves unjustly (and undoubtedly their Roman masters) at the expense of the people. Jesus may have alluded to this practice when in this illustration he spoke of the self-righteous Pharisee’s commending himself to God for not being an extortioner.
fast twice a week: Although the Mosaic Law does not use the term “fast,” it is generally understood that the command to “afflict yourselves” once a year in connection with the Atonement Day involved fasting. (Le 16:29, ftn.; Nu 29:7, ftn.; Ps 35:13) Later, other annual fasts were gradually established in memory of national calamities. However, the Pharisees customarily fasted “twice a week,” on the second and fifth day of the week. They wanted their piety to be observed. (Mt 6:16) According to some sources, the days they chose for fasting were the regular market days, when many people would be in town. They also fasted when special services were held in the synagogues and when the local courts met.
be gracious to me: Or “have mercy on me.” The Greek word for the expression “be gracious” occurs only twice in the Christian Greek Scriptures and is connected with the idea of propitiation, or atonement. At Heb 2:17 (see also ftn.), it is rendered “to offer a propitiatory [“atoning”] sacrifice,” or “to make atonement.”
infants: Or “babies.” The Greek word breʹphos used here refers to very small children, infants, or even unborn children. (Lu 1:41; 2:12; Ac 7:19; 2Ti 3:15, “infancy”; 1Pe 2:2) The parallel accounts at Mt 19:13 and Mr 10:13 use pai·diʹon, a different Greek word that is used not only of newborns and infants (Mt 2:8; Lu 1:59) but also of Jairus’ 12-year-old daughter (Mr 5:39-42). The Gospel writers’ use of different Greek words may indicate that on this occasion the children were of varying ages, though Luke evidently focuses on the infants who were present.
like a young child: See study note on Mr 10:15.
Good Teacher: See study note on Mr 10:17.
Jesus said to him: Jesus saw how earnest the ruler was and, according to Mr 10:21, “felt love for him.” However, Jesus may have realized that the man would need to cultivate a greater degree of self-sacrifice to become a disciple, so he told him: Sell all the things you have and distribute the proceeds to the poor. Unlike Peter and others who left everything to follow Jesus, this young man could not part with his possessions to become a disciple.—Mt 4:20, 22; Lu 18:23, 28.
easier . . . for a camel to get through the eye of a sewing needle: Jesus uses hyperbole to illustrate a point. Just as a literal camel cannot go through the eye of a needle, it is impossible for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of God if he continues to put his riches ahead of his relationship with Jehovah. Jesus did not mean that no wealthy person would inherit the Kingdom, for he went on to say: “The things impossible with men are possible with God.” (Lu 18:27) In the Christian Greek Scriptures, the Greek word be·loʹne, rendered “sewing needle,” is used only here. It was sometimes used to refer to a surgical needle, whereas the Greek word rha·phisʹ, translated “needle,” is found in the parallel accounts at Mt 19:24 and Mr 10:25 and is drawn from a verb meaning “to sew.”
the coming system of things: Or “the coming age.” The Greek word ai·onʹ, having the basic meaning “age,” can refer to a state of affairs or to features that distinguish a certain period of time, epoch, or age. Jesus is here referring to the coming era of God’s Kingdom rule, under which faithful ones will enjoy everlasting life.—Mr 10:29, 30; see Glossary, “System(s) of things.”
going up to Jerusalem: See study note on Mt 20:17.
spat on: See study note on Mr 10:34.
Jericho: The first Canaanite city W of the Jordan River to be conquered by the Israelites. (Nu 22:1; Jos 6:1, 24, 25) This ancient city was eventually abandoned, but after the Jews returned from Babylonian exile, another Jewish city was developed at the site because a good water source (‘Ein es-Sultan) was located there. By Jesus’ time, a new Roman city had been built about 2 km (a little over a mile) S of the Jewish city. This may explain why the accounts of Matthew and Mark say of the same incident that Jesus was “going out of Jerʹi·cho” (Mt 20:29; Mr 10:46), whereas Luke’s account says that Jesus was getting near to Jericho. Perhaps Jesus cures the blind man while leaving the Jewish city and approaching the Roman city.—See App. B4 and B10.
a blind man: Matthew’s account (20:30) of this event states that two blind men were present. Mark (10:46) and Luke each mention one, evidently focusing on the one named Bartimaeus, whose name appears only in Mark’s account.