Commentary on the Bible, by Adam Clarke, , at sacred-texts.com
Jesus preaches through every city and village, Luk 8:1. Women minister to him, Luk 8:2, Luk 8:3. Instructs the multitudes by the parable of the sower, Luk 8:4-8. Explains it at large to his disciples, Luk 8:9-15. Directions how to improve by hearing the Gospel, Luk 8:16-18. His mother and brethren seek him, Luk 8:19-21. He and his disciples go upon the lake, and are taken in a storm, Luk 8:22-25. They arrive among the Gadarenes, Luk 8:26, where he cures a demoniac, Luk 8:27-39. He returns from the Gadarenes, and is requested by Jairus to heal his daughter, Luk 8:40-42. On the way he cures a diseased woman, Luk 8:43-48. Receives information that the daughter of Jairus is dead, Luk 8:49. Exhorts the father to believe; arrives at the house, and raises the dead child to life, Luk 8:50-56.
Throughout every city and village - That is, of Galilee.
Out of whom went seven devils - Who had been possessed in a most extraordinary manner; probably a case of inveterate lunacy, brought on by the influence of evil spirits. The number seven may here express the superlative degree.
Mary Magdalene is commonly thought to have been a prostitute before she came to the knowledge of Christ, and then to have been a remarkable penitent. So historians and painters represent her: but neither from this passage, nor from any other of the New Testament, can such a supposition be legitimately drawn. She is here represented as one who had been possessed with seven demons; and as one among other women who had been healed by Christ of evil (or wicked) spirits and infirmities. As well might Joanna and Susanna, mentioned Luk 8:3, come in for a share of the censure as this Mary Magdalene; for they seem to have been dispossessed likewise by Jesus, according to St. Luke's account of them. They had all had infirmities, of what sort it is not said, and those infirmities were occasioned by evil spirits within them; and Jesus had healed them all: but Mary Magdalene, by her behavior, and constant attendance on Jesus in his life-time, at his crucifixion, and at his grave, seems to have exceeded all the other women in duty and respect to his person. Bishop Pearce.
There is a marvellous propensity in commentators to make some of the women mentioned in the Sacred Writings appear as women of ill fame; therefore Rahab must be a harlot; and Mary Magdalene, a prostitute: and yet nothing of the kind can be proved either in the former or in the latter case; nor in that mentioned Luk 7:36, etc., where see the notes. Poor Mary Magdalene is made the patroness of penitent prostitutes, both by Papists and Protestants; and to the scandal of her name, and the reproach of the Gospel, houses fitted up for the reception of such are termed Magdalene hospitals! and the persons themselves Magdalenes! There is not only no proof that this person was such as commentators represent her, but there is the strongest presumptive proof against it: for, if she ever had been such, it would have been contrary to every rule of prudence, and every dictate of wisdom, for Christ and his apostles to have permitted such a person to associate with them, however fully she might have been converted to God, and however exemplary her life, at that time, might have been. As the world, who had seen her conduct, and knew her character, (had she been such as is insinuated), could not see the inward change, and as they sought to overwhelm Christ and his disciples with obloquy and reproach on every occasion, they would certainly have availed themselves of so favorable an opportunity to subject the character and ministry of Christ to the blackest censure, had he permitted even a converted prostitute to minister to him and his disciples. They were ready enough to say that he was the friend of publicans and sinners, because he conversed with them in order to instruct and save their souls; but they could never say he was a friend of prostitutes, because it does not appear that such persons ever came to Christ; or that he, in the way of his ministry, ever went to them. I conclude therefore that the common opinion is a vile slander on the character of one of the best women mentioned in the Gospel of God; and a reproach cast on the character and conduct of Christ and his disciples. From the whole account of Mary Magdalene, it is highly probable that she was a person of great respectability in that place; such a person as the wife of Chuza, Herod's steward, could associate with, and a person on whose conduct or character the calumniating Jews could cast no aspersions.
Herod's steward - Though the original word, επιτροπος, signifies sometimes the inspector or overseer of a province, and sometimes a tutor of children, yet here it seems to signify the overseer of Herod's domestic affairs: the steward of his household. Steward of the household was an office in the king's palace by s. 24, of Hen. VIII. The person is now entitled lord steward of the king's household, and the office is, I believe, more honorable and of more importance than when it was first created. Junius derives the word from the Islandic stivardur, which is compounded of stia, work, and vardur, a keeper, or overseer: hence our words, warder, warden, ward, guard, guardian, etc. The Greek word in Hebrew letters is frequent in the rabbinical writings, אפיטדופום, and signifies among them the deputy ruler of a province. See on Luk 16:1 (note). In the Islandic version, it is forsionarmanns.
Unto him - Instead of αυτῳ, to him, meaning Christ, many of the best MSS. and versions have αυτοις, to them, meaning both our Lord and the twelve apostles, see Luk 8:1. This is unquestionably the true meaning.
Christ receives these assistances and ministrations, says pious Quesnel, -
1. To honor poverty by subjecting himself to it.
2. To humble himself in receiving from his creatures.
3. That he may teach the ministers of the Gospel to depend on the providence of their heavenly Father.
4. To make way for the gratitude of those he had healed. And,
5. That he might not be burthensome to the poor to whom he went to preach.
A sower went out to sow - See all this parable largely explained on Matthew 13:1-23 (note).
Those by the way side - Bishop Pearce thinks that Luke by οἱ here means σποροι, the seeds, though he acknowledges that he has never found such a word as σποροι in the plural number signifying seeds.
With patience - Rather, with perseverance. The Greek word ὑπομονη, which our translators render patience, properly signifies here, and in Rom 2:7, perseverance. The good ground, because it is good, strong and vigorous, continues to bear: bad or poor ground cannot produce a good crop, and besides it is very soon exhausted. The persons called the good ground in the text are filled with the power and influence of God, and therefore continue to bring forth fruit; i.e. they persevere in righteousness. From this we may learn that the perseverance of the saints, as it is termed, necessarily implies that they continue to bring forth fruit to the glory of God. Those who are not fruitful are not in a state of perseverance.
Lighted a candle - This is a repetition of a part of our Lord's sermon on the mount. See the notes on Mat 5:15; Mat 10:26; and on Mar 4:21, Mar 4:22.
For nothing is secret, etc. - Whatever I teach you in private, ye shall teach publicly; and ye shall illustrate and explain every parable now delivered to the people.
Even that which he seemeth to have - Or rather, even what he hath. Ὁ δοκει εχειν, rendered by our common version, what he seemeth to have, seems to me to contradict itself. Let us examine this subject a little.
1. To seem to have a thing, is only to have it in appearance, and not in reality; but what is possessed in appearance only can only be taken away in appearance; therefore on the one side there is no gain, and on the other side no loss. On this ground, the text speaks just nothing.
2. It is evident that ὁ δοκει εχειν, what he seemeth to have, here, is equivalent to ὁ εχει, what he hath, in the parallel places, Mar 4:25; Mat 13:12; Mat 25:29; and in Luk 19:26.
3. It is evident, also, that these persons had something which might be taken away from them. For
1. The word of God, the Divine seed, was planted in their hearts.
2. It had already produced some good effects; but they permitted the devil, the cares of the world, the desire of riches, and the love of pleasure, to destroy its produce.
4. The word δοκειν is often an expletive: so Xenophon in Hellen, vi. ὁτι εδοκει πατικος φιλος αυτοις, Because he seemed to be (i.e. Was) their father's friend. So in his Oeeon. Among the cities that seemed to be (δοκουσαις, actually were) at war. So Athenaeus, lib. vi. chap. 4. They who seemed to be (δοκουντες, who really were) the most opulent, drank out of brazen cups.
5. It often strengthens the sense, and is thus used by the very best Greek writers. Ulpian, in one of his notes on Demosthenes' Orat. Olinth. 1, quoted by Bishop Pearce, says expressly, το δοκειν ου παντως επι αμφιβολου ταττουσιν οἱ παλαιοι, αλλα πολλακις και επι του αληθευειν. The word δοκειν is used by the ancients to express, not always what is doubtful, but oftentimes what is true and certain. And this is manifestly its meaning in Mat 3:9; Luk 22:24; Joh 5:39; Co1 7:40; Co1 10:12; Co1 11:16; Gal 2:9; Phi 3:4; and in the text. See these meanings of the word established beyond the possibility of successful contradiction, in Bishop Pearce's notes on Mar 10:42, and in Kypke in loc. See also the notes on Mat 13:12 (note).
His mother and brethren - See the notes on Mat 12:46, etc., and on Mar 3:31 (note), etc.
Let us go over, etc. - See on Mat 8:24 (note), etc., and Mar 4:36-41 (note).
There came down a storm of wind - and they - were in jeopardy - This is a parallel passage to that in Jon 1:4. There was a mighty tempest in the sea, so that the ship was like to be broken: the latter clause of which is thus translated by the Septuagint: και το πλοιον εκινδυνευε του συντριβηναι, And the ship was in the utmost danger of being dashed to pieces. This is exactly the state of the disciples here; and it is remarkable that the very same word, εκινδυνευον, which we translate, were in jeopardy, is used by the evangelist, which is found in the Greek version above quoted. The word jeopardy, an inexpressive French term, and utterly unfit for the place which it now occupies, is properly the exclamation of a disappointed gamester, Jeu perdu! The game is lost! or, j'ai perdu! I have lost! i.e. the game.
Where is your faith? - Ye have a power to believe, and yet do not exercise it! Depend on God. Ye have little faith, (Mat 8:26), because you do not use the grace which I have already given you. Many are looking for more faith without using that which they have. It is as possible to hide this talent as any other.
The country of the Gadarenes - Or, according to several MSS., Gerasenes or Gergasenes. See on Mat 8:28 (note), and Mar 5:1 (note).
A certain man - See the case of this demoniac considered at large, on the parallel places, Mat 8:28-34 (note); Mark 5:1-20 (note). In India deranged persons walk at liberty through the streets and country in all manner of dresses; sometimes entirely naked; and often perish while strolling from place to place. It is the same in Ireland, as there are no public asylums either there or in India for insane people.
Jesus, thou Son of God most high - The words Jesus and God are both omitted here by several MSS. I think it is very likely that the demons mentioned neither. They were constrained in a summary way to acknowledge his power; but it is probable they did not pronounce names which were of such dreadful import to themselves. The words which they spoke on the occasion seem to have been these, What is it to thee and me, O Son of the most high? See the note on Mat 8:29.
And they besought him that he would not command them to go out into the deep - In the Chaldaic philosophy, mention is made of certain material demons, who are permitted to wander about on the earth, and are horribly afraid of being sent into abysses and subterranean places. Psellus says, De Daemonibus: "These material demons fearing to be sent into abysses, and standing in awe of the angels who send them thither, if even a man threaten to send them thither and pronounce the names of those angels whose office that is, it is inexpressible how much they will be affrighted and troubled. So great will their astonishment be, that they cannot discern the person that threatens them. And though it be some old woman or little old man that menaces them, yet so great is their fear that they depart as if the person who menaces had a power to kill them." See Stanley's Chaldaic Philosophy.
Then went the devils out of the man, and entered into the swine - Some critics and commentators would have us to understand all this of the man himself, who, they say, was a most outrageous maniac; and that, being permitted by our Lord, he ran after the swine, and drove them all down a precipice into the sea! This is solemn trifling indeed; or, at least, trifling with solemn things. It is impossible to read over the account, as given here by Luke, and admit this mode of explanation. The devils went out of the man, and entered into the swine; i.e. the madman ran after the swine! On this plan of interpretation there is nothing certain in the word of God; and every man may give it what meaning he pleases. Such comments are intolerable.
They fled, and went and told it - Απελθοντες, They went, is omitted by almost every MS. of repute, and by the best of the ancient versions. Griesbach leaves it out, and with propriety too, as it is not likely that so correct a writer as Luke would say, They fled, and Went and told it.
Gladly received him - This is the proper import of the word απεδεξατο; therefore our translators needed not to have put gladly in italics, as though it were not expressed in the text. Raphelius gives several proofs of this in loc.
A man named Jairus - See these two miracles - the raising of Jairus's daughter, and the cure of the afflicted woman - considered and explained at large, on Mat 9:18-26 (note), and Mark 5:22-43 (note).
The people thronged him - Συνεπνιγον αυτον - almost suffocated him - so great was the throng about him.
Spent all her living upon physicians - See the note on Mar 5:26.
I perceive that virtue - Δυναμιν, Divine or miraculous power. This Divine emanation did not proceed always from Christ, as necessarily as odours do from plants, for then all who touched him must have been equally partakers of it. Of the many that touched him, this woman and none else received this Divine virtue; and why? Because she came in faith. Faith alone attracts and receives the energetic influence of God at all times. There would be more miracles, at least of spiritual healing, were there more faith among those who are called believers.
He put them all out - That is, the pipers and those who made a noise, weeping and lamenting. See Mat 9:23; Mar 5:38. Pompous funeral ceremonies are ridiculous in themselves, and entirely opposed to the spirit and simplicity of the religion of Christ. Every where they meet with his disapprobation.
And he commanded to give her meat - Though she was raised to life by a miracle, she was not to be preserved by a miracle. Nature is God's great instrument, and he delights to work by it; nor will he do any thing by his sovereign power, in the way of miracle, that can be effected by his ordinary providence. Again, God will have us be workers together with him: he provides food for us, but he does not eat for us; we eat for ourselves, and are thus nourished on the bounty that God has provided. Without the food, man cannot be nourished; and unless he eat the food, it can be of no use to him. So, God provides salvation for a lost world, and bestows it on every penitent believing soul; but he neither repents nor believes for any man. A man repents and believes for himself, under the succours of God's grace.