Luke 18:19

ESV And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone.
NIV Why do you call me good?' Jesus answered. 'No one is good--except God alone.
NASB But Jesus said to him, 'Why do you call Me good? No one is good except God alone.
CSB "Why do you call me good? " Jesus asked him. "No one is good except God alone.
NLT Why do you call me good?' Jesus asked him. 'Only God is truly good.
KJV And Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou me good? none is good, save one, that is, God.

What does Luke 18:19 mean?

A rich, young ruler—a man of some important position in the community—has asked Jesus how to inherit eternal life. He's addressed Jesus as "Good Teacher." Some scholars think Jesus senses the man is trying to flatter Him. Perhaps Jesus just means to set up His answer.

By saying that only God is good, Jesus isn't directly challenging the man to acknowledge that Jesus is God. Nor is Jesus denying, somehow, that He is God. The emphasis is on the man's perspective, not Jesus' identity. In the moment, Jesus is putting the man in the frame of mind to consider his own life. Jesus goes down the commandments that have to do with treating others well. The young man affirms he follows them well. So far, the man is "good" (Luke 18:20–21).

Then Jesus tells him to go beyond what is expected and give everything for the benefit of others and come follow Him (Luke 18:22). If the man wants to inherit eternal life under the power of his own actions, he needs to be as good as God. God not only does what is right, He blesses extravagantly. This step would also mean giving up a major part of the man's self-identity: wealth.

The man realizes he is not as good as he thought. He leaves, disheartened, because he doesn't want to give up his riches (Mark 10:22). The man is good, but he cannot be good enough to deserve eternal life. Tragically, he prioritizes something more than God, and that stops him from coming to faith. Even if it's not the main point, Jesus' divinity is still relevant. If we think Jesus is truly good—making Him truly God—shouldn't we be ready to follow His teachings?

Despite Jesus' correction, Luke gives another clue that Jesus knows this man is sincere and interacts with him gently. Luke refers to Jesus as "Lord" in his gospel more than do the other gospel writers. In general, Luke uses "Lord" when he wants to emphasize Jesus' authority. Through this entire interaction, Luke refers to Him as "Jesus." Mark addresses this more directly, saying, "And Jesus, looking at him, loved him" (Mark 10:21).
What is the Gospel?
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