Luke 8:10

ESV he said, "To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of God, but for others they are in parables, so that ‘seeing they may not see, and hearing they may not understand.’
NIV He said, "The knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of God has been given to you, but to others I speak in parables, so that, " ‘though seeing, they may not see; though hearing, they may not understand.’
NASB And He said, 'To you it has been granted to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God, but to the rest they are told in parables, so that while seeing they may not see, and while hearing they may not understand.
CSB So he said, "The secrets of the kingdom of God have been given for you to know, but to the rest it is in parables, so that Looking they may not see, and hearing they may not understand.
NLT He replied, 'You are permitted to understand the secrets of the Kingdom of God. But I use parables to teach the others so that the Scriptures might be fulfilled: ‘When they look, they won’t really see. When they hear, they won’t understand.’
KJV And he said, Unto you it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God: but to others in parables; that seeing they might not see, and hearing they might not understand.
NKJV And He said, “To you it has been given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God, but to the rest it is given in parables, that ‘Seeing they may not see, And hearing they may not understand.’

What does Luke 8:10 mean?

Jesus has taught a large crowd the parable of the sower (Luke 8:4–8). A smaller group of disciples has asked Him the meaning of the parable (Luke 8:9); Matthew records that they also ask Him why He uses parables (Matthew 13:10). This is Luke's very truncated version of the answer to the latter question.

This verse has two different contexts. The original is God's commission of Isaiah the prophet in Isaiah chapter 6. God told Isaiah to spread His word: warnings to Judah that if they didn't turn from sin they would be sent into exile. Yet God cautioned that the people will refuse to listen. God knew the Israelites wouldn't listen, but He sent Isaiah out, anyway. By doing so, God proved He made a good-faith effort to save the people and He proved that the Israelites deserved the judgment of exile.

The second context is within the parable. The people Jesus is referring to are represented by the first three soils (Luke 8:5–7). These are people who hear the gospel but do not make the effort to take it seriously and allow it to change their lives. By speaking in parables, Jesus is giving the people a test. If they choose to contemplate the parable and accept what it means, they pass the test and prove to be His disciples. If they're distracted by the hardships and pleasures of the world, that's their decision; they choose not to try to understand, and thus they will not.

"So that" means Isaiah's prophecy is still being fulfilled—people are still rejecting God's Word. During His ministry, Jesus' family and the priests and Pharisees failed the test. But His family and many of the religious leaders later came to faith (Acts 1:14; 6:7). The condition of refusing Christ can be temporary.

This quote of Isaiah 6:9 reverses the lines. Mark also reverses the lines but includes the end of Isaiah 6:10: "lest they should turn and be forgiven" (Mark 4:12) which Luke later paraphrases (Luke 8:12). Matthew is more verbatim and includes Isaiah 6:10 (Matthew 13:14–15), as does Paul when the Jews in Jerusalem reject His teaching about Jesus (Acts 28:26–27).

The differences show that Matthew and Mark are oriented toward advanced themes: the kingdom of God and who can enter it. Luke is more basic. He focuses on the responsibility of people to listen when God's Word is presented. Those who don't follow Christ need to listen unto salvation; those who do, need to listen for sanctification. For us, it means we need to read the Bible and contemplate what it says. Psalm 119:27 is a great synopsis of this chapter: "Make me understand the way of your precepts, and I will meditate on your wondrous works."

This is Luke's point in the chapter. We are responsible for our own actions. When God reveals His truth, we are responsible to listen to it and accept it. The Israelites in Isaiah's time had God's truth in the Law but lived it half-heartedly. Following God half-heartedly is dangerous. It may look good on the outside, but it reveals a faith so anemic it cannot save (James 2:26). So, God took away what little understanding the Israelites had; as Jesus later says, "Take care then how you hear, for to the one who has, more will be given, and from the one who has not, even what he thinks that he has will be taken away" (Luke 8:18).

Those who insist that God would never put such an obstacle between the truth and people—even rebellious people—forget that Jesus is the stumbling block (1 Corinthians 1:23). It is true that God is "patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance" (2 Peter 3:9). But He also told the disciples that if a town will not receive His good news, the disciples are to "shake off the dust from your feet as a testimony against them" (Luke 9:5).

When someone hardens their heart against God, He has the right to remove the obstacles to their efforts. Hardened hearts, not cruelty, are why Jesus speaks in parables. Those whose hearts are softened to Christ and His truth, like the questioning disciples, will seek out the meaning and produce fruit (Luke 8:8). Those with hardened hearts don't let God's Word go past their ears and instead allow the enemy to take it away (Luke 8:5).

The word "secret" refers to something private, or unrevealed, coming from the knowledge of God. Even if someone's heart is soft toward God's truth, that doesn't mean that truth is easy to understand. The disciples ask for Jesus' meaning, and He gives it (Luke 8:11–15). Today, we have the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 2:10–16), but God has also given us each other. From the first day, the church relied on community and the teaching of leaders to reveal His truth (Acts 2:42).
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