Luke 8:37

ESV Then all the people of the surrounding country of the Gerasenes asked him to depart from them, for they were seized with great fear. So he got into the boat and returned.
NIV Then all the people of the region of the Gerasenes asked Jesus to leave them, because they were overcome with fear. So he got into the boat and left.
NASB And all the people of the territory of the Gerasenes and the surrounding region asked Him to leave them, because they were overwhelmed by great fear; and He got into a boat and returned.
CSB Then all the people of the Gerasene region asked him to leave them, because they were gripped by great fear. So getting into the boat, he returned.
NLT And all the people in the region of the Gerasenes begged Jesus to go away and leave them alone, for a great wave of fear swept over them. So Jesus returned to the boat and left, crossing back to the other side of the lake.
KJV Then the whole multitude of the country of the Gadarenes round about besought him to depart from them; for they were taken with great fear: and he went up into the ship, and returned back again.

What does Luke 8:37 mean?

Jesus and the disciples are somewhere on the east coast of the Sea of Galilee. When they arrived, a man had rushed toward Jesus from the tombs, naked and screaming. The man was possessed by a legion of demons—perhaps thousands—that begged Jesus to allow them to enter a herd of pigs instead of sending them to "the abyss." Jesus agreed to their request, but when the demons took over the pigs, the pigs ran into the Sea of Galilee where they drowned (Luke 8:26–33).

The pig herders scattered, telling everyone they could find what had happened. Their listeners followed them back to the tombs where the formerly possessed man now sits "at the feet of Jesus, clothed and in his right mind" (Luke 8:34–36). In fear, the locals ask Jesus to leave. It's not clear if the people are afraid because of Jesus' power over the demons or if they're concerned for their remaining livestock.

Their fear causes them to push Jesus away, not repent and accept Jesus' offer of forgiveness. But Jesus is not finished with the region. When the rescued man begs to accompany Jesus, Jesus tells him, "Return to your home, and declare how much God has done for you." The man does, focusing on Jesus as God's instrument of power (Luke 8:38–39).

Later, Jesus will return to the region and the people's hearts will be softened. Over four thousand will come to Him to be healed and listen to Him teach. In compassion, Jesus will feed them (Matthew 15:29–39). It's interesting that Luke does not include this later visit in his Gospel. His audience, Theophilus, is thought to be a Gentile. It would make sense to describe Jesus' later acceptance in this Gentile region. Perhaps Luke wants Theophilus to see an example of a lone Gentile accepting Christ despite the rejection of the greater community. Later, Luke will record groups of Gentiles accepting Jesus in his second book, known to us as Acts or The Acts of the apostles.

Again, Luke identifies their location as the "surrounding country of the Gerasenes." Matthew calls it "the country of the Gadarenes" (Matthew 8:28) and some versions use "Gergesenes." Gerasa and Gadara were cities; Gergesa was a region in Decapolis. It's consistent with the Gospel writers for Matthew to use "Gadarenes" and Luke to follow Mark's use of "Gerasenes." "Gergesa" was probably suggested by Origen because it makes the most sense geographically. The words are just as similar in Greek as they are in English, and they describe locations in the same general region. All we know for certain is that they are on the east side of the Sea of Galilee, very close to the water.
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