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.
name: The personal name of God, represented by the four Hebrew letters יהוה (YHWH) and commonly rendered “Jehovah” in English. In the New World Translation, the name occurs 6,979 times in the Hebrew Scriptures and 237 times in the Christian Greek Scriptures. (For information on the use of the divine name in the Christian Greek Scriptures, see App. A5 and App. C.) In the Bible, the term “name” at times also stands for the person himself, his reputation, and all that he declares himself to be.—Compare Ex 34:5, 6; Re 3:4, ftn.
be sanctified: Or “be held sacred; be treated as holy.” This is a petition that all creation, including both humans and angels, hold God’s name holy. The petition also includes the thought that God take action to sanctify himself by clearing his name of the reproach that has been heaped on it ever since the rebellion of the first human pair in the garden of Eden.
Let your Kingdom come: God’s Kingdom is an expression of Jehovah’s sovereignty over the earth. This petition asks God to take decisive action by making his Kingdom, with its Messianic King and his associate rulers, the sole government to rule the earth. Jesus’ parable at Lu 19:11-27 confirms that God’s Kingdom will “come” in the sense of executing judgment, destroying all its enemies, and rewarding those hoping in it. (See Mt 24:42, 44.) It will remove the present wicked system of things, including all human governments, and bring in a righteous new world.—Da 2:44; 2Pe 3:13; Re 16:14-16; 19:11-21.
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.
debts: Referring to sins. When sinning against someone, a person incurs a debt to that one, or has an obligation to him, and must therefore seek his forgiveness. Receiving God’s forgiveness depends on whether the person has forgiven his personal debtors, that is, those who have sinned against him.—Mt 6:14, 15; 18:35; Lu 11:4.
do not bring us into temptation: Or “do not allow us to give in to temptation.” The Bible sometimes speaks of God as causing things that he merely allows to take place. (Ru 1:20, 21) Therefore, Jesus is not saying here that God tempts people to sin. (Jas 1:13) Rather, he encourages his followers to pray for God’s help to avoid or endure temptation.—1Co 10:13.
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: The rendering “keep on” expresses the continuous action indicated by the Greek verb form used here and shows the need for perseverance in prayer. The use of three verbs indicates intensity. Jesus makes a similar point in his illustration at Lu 11:5-8.
keep on asking, . . . seeking, . . . knocking: See study note on Mt 7:7.
you, although being wicked: Because of inherited sin, all humans are imperfect and, consequently, comparatively wicked.
how much more so: Jesus often used this line of reasoning. First he presents an obvious fact or a familiar truth, and then he draws an even more convincing conclusion based on that fact, arguing from the lesser to the greater.—Mt 10:25; 12:12; Lu 11:13; 12:28.
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: That is, a household. The original-language term for “house” could refer to an individual family or an extended household, including one associated with the palaces of kings. (Ac 7:10; Php 4:22) The term was used of ruling dynasties, such as those of the Herods and the Caesars, where internal dissension was common and destructive.
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: That is, the queen of Sheba. Her kingdom is thought to have been located in SW Arabia.—1Ki 10:1.
queen of the south: See study note on Mt 12:42.
look!: The Greek word i·douʹ, here rendered “look!,” is often used to focus attention on what follows, encouraging the reader to visualize the scene or to take note of a detail in a narrative. It is also used to add emphasis or to introduce something new or surprising. In the Christian Greek Scriptures, the term occurs most frequently in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke and in the book of Revelation. A corresponding expression is often used in the Hebrew Scriptures.
look!: See study note on Mt 1:20.
a lamp: In Bible times, a common household lamp was a small earthenware vessel filled with olive oil.
a basket: Used for measuring dry commodities, such as grain. The type of “basket” (Greek, moʹdi·os) mentioned here had a capacity of about 9 L (or 8 dry qt).
lamp of the body is the eye: A literal eye that functions properly is to the body like a lighted lamp in a dark place. It enlightens the entire person. Here “eye” is used in a figurative sense.—Eph 1:18.
focused: Or “clear; healthy.” The basic meaning of the Greek word ha·plousʹ is “single; simple.” It can convey the idea of singleness of mind or devotion to one purpose. For a literal eye to function properly, it must be able to focus on one thing. A person whose figurative eye is “focused” on the one right thing (Mt 6:33) will experience a positive effect on his whole personality.
envious: Lit., “bad; wicked.” A literal eye that is bad or in an unhealthy condition does not see clearly. Similarly, an envious eye cannot focus on what is truly important. (Mt 6:33) Such an eye is dissatisfied and greedy, distracted and shifty. It causes its owner to estimate things incorrectly and pursue a selfish course of life.—See study note on Mt 6:22.
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 themselves: Many ancient manuscripts use the Greek word ba·ptiʹzo (to dip; to immerse) here, a term that most often describes Christian baptism, but at Lu 11:38, it is used to describe a broad range of repeated ritual washings rooted in Jewish tradition. Other ancient manuscripts here use the Greek term rhan·tiʹzo, meaning “to sprinkle; to cleanse by sprinkling.” (Heb 9:13, 19, 21, 22) Regardless of which manuscript reading is preferred, the general meaning remains the same; devout Jews did not eat unless they in some way cleansed themselves ceremonially. In Jerusalem, there is archaeological evidence that the Jews used ritual baths at this time, which in this context could give support for rendering the verb ba·ptiʹzo, “immerse themselves.”
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: The Greek word e·le·e·mo·syʹne, traditionally rendered “alms,” is related to the Greek words for “mercy” and “to show mercy.” It refers to money or food freely given to relieve the poor.
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: Or “best seats.” Evidently, the presiding officers of the synagogue and distinguished guests sat near the Scripture rolls at the front of the synagogue, in full view of the congregation. These seats of honor were likely reserved for such prominent individuals.
marketplaces: Or “places of assembly.” The Greek word a·go·raʹ is here used to refer to an open area that served as a center for buying and selling and as a place of public assembly in cities and towns of the ancient Near East and the Greek and Roman world.
whitewashed graves: It was a custom in Israel to whitewash graves as a warning so that those passing by would not accidentally become ceremonially defiled through contact with a burial place. (Nu 19:16) The Jewish Mishnah (Shekalim 1:1) says that this whitewashing was done annually, one month prior to the Passover. Jesus used this expression as a metaphor for hypocrisy.
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 conception and birth of children born 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 was written in the scroll of life from “the founding of the world.”—Lu 11:50, 51; Re 17:8.
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 righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah: Jesus’ statement embraced all the murdered witnesses of Jehovah mentioned in the Hebrew Scriptures, from Abel, listed in the first book (Ge 4:8), to Zechariah, mentioned at 2Ch 24:20, Chronicles being the last book in the traditional Jewish canon. So when Jesus said from “Abel to . . . Zechariah,” he was saying “from the very first case to the last.”
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.
Of the over 600 varieties of scorpions, generally ranging in size from less than 2.5 cm (1 in.) to 20 cm (8 in.), about a dozen types have been encountered in Israel and Syria. Although the scorpion’s sting is usually not fatal to humans, there are several varieties with venom that is proportionately more potent than that of many dangerous desert vipers. Of the kinds found in Israel, the most poisonous is the yellow Leiurus quinquestriatus (shown here). The great pain caused by a scorpion’s sting is noted at Re 9:3, 5, 10. Scorpions were common in the wilderness of Judea and on the Sinai Peninsula with its “fearsome wilderness.”—De 8:15.
This domestic lampstand (1) is an artist’s concept based on first-century artifacts found in Ephesus and Italy. A lampstand of this kind was likely used in a wealthy household. In poorer homes, a lamp was hung from the ceiling, placed in a niche in the wall (2), or put on a stand made of earthenware or wood.
Rue is a perennial shrub with hairy stems and a strong scent. It attains a height of about 1 m (3 ft), has gray-green leaves, and bears clusters of yellow flowers. The variety of rue shown here (Ruta chalepensis latifolia) and a variety known as common rue (Ruta graveolens) both grow in Israel. During the days of Jesus’ earthly ministry, rue may have been cultivated for use in medicine and as a seasoning for food. In the Bible, this plant is mentioned only at Lu 11:42, where Jesus condemned the scrupulous and hypocritical tithing by the Pharisees.—Compare Mt 23:23.
Some marketplaces, like the one depicted here, were located along a road. Vendors often placed so much merchandise in the street that it blocked traffic. Local residents could buy common household goods, pottery, and expensive glassware, as well as fresh produce. Because there was no refrigeration, people needed to visit the market each day to buy supplies. Here a shopper could hear news brought in by traders or other visitors, children could play, and the unemployed could wait to be hired. In the marketplace, Jesus healed the sick and Paul preached. (Ac 17:17) By contrast, the proud scribes and Pharisees loved to be noticed and greeted in these public areas.