What does Luke 11:48 mean?
ESV: So you are witnesses and you consent to the deeds of your fathers, for they killed them, and you build their tombs.
NIV: So you testify that you approve of what your ancestors did; they killed the prophets, and you build their tombs.
NASB: So you are witnesses and you approve of the deeds of your fathers; because it was they who killed them, and you build their tombs.
CSB: Therefore, you are witnesses that you approve the deeds of your fathers, for they killed them, and you build their monuments.
NLT: But in fact, you stand as witnesses who agree with what your ancestors did. They killed the prophets, and you join in their crime by building the monuments!
KJV: Truly ye bear witness that ye allow the deeds of your fathers: for they indeed killed them, and ye build their sepulchres.
NKJV: In fact, you bear witness that you approve the deeds of your fathers; for they indeed killed them, and you build their tombs.
Verse Commentary:
Jesus is taking His time to thoroughly explain how the lawyers of the Pharisees are complicit in the murders of God's prophets hundreds of years prior. The lawyers interpret and enforce an extra-biblical Oral Law which scribes added to the Mosaic law. God designed the Mosaic law to be simple to follow, so long as the Jews trusted Him. The Oral Law, however, is virtually impossible to keep but easy for the Pharisees to twist to their advantage.

"Them," the people killed, are God's prophets of the Old Testament. The "fathers" are the scribes of the intertestamental period: those who lived between Malachi and Jesus and who developed the Oral Law. These scribes "killed" the prophets by teaching that their words from God were incorrect and insufficient. For instance, it was not enough to teach the people to refrain from work on the Sabbath; the scribes added dozens of specific ways in which "work" could be interpreted. Such lessons taught the people they had to work for God's salvation, hindering them from entering the kingdom of God (Luke 11:52).

The religious leaders, whom the lawyers represent, also killed the prophets literally. Zechariah was murdered for confronting king Joash's idolatry (2 Chronicles 24:20–22). According to historical tradition, Jeremiah was put to death in Egypt after insisting God wanted Israel to submit to Babylon.

The "tombs" may be the final resting place of the prophets Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi on the Mount of Olives in a cave system called the "Tombs of the Prophets." "Sepulchre," from the King James Version, is an older word for "tomb," especially one in a cave.

Jesus will remind His disciples of the lawyers' hypocrisy in Matthew 23:29–36.
Verse Context:
Luke 11:45–52 comes after descriptions of the cruelty and pride of the Pharisees (Luke 11:39–44). Now, Jesus turns to the lawyers—the experts in the Mosaic law. Greed and wickedness revealed the Pharisees to be like tombs: clean on the outside and filled with death on the inside. The lawyers are said to fill tombs by rejecting God's prophets. In response, the scribes and Pharisees conspire to destroy Jesus (Luke 11:53–54). In the next section, Jesus gives His disciples instructions on how to reject the world and persevere for the sake of the kingdom of God (Luke 12:1—13:9). Jesus will cover this judgment again in Matthew 23.
Chapter Summary:
Jesus teaches the disciples how to pray and explains God's intent to give "good" to those who ask. He then exorcizes a demon and refutes the claim that His power is satanic. Jesus explains that unreasonable skeptics will only see the "sign of Jonah." He then criticizes the superficial legalism of the Pharisees. In response, they plot against Him.
Chapter Context:
In what some scholars refer to as "The Travelogue to Jerusalem" (Luke 9:51—19:27), Jesus prepares His disciples for His crucifixion and resurrection and the establishment of the church. The description begins with Christ teaching the disciples how to spread the news of the kingdom of God and reaffirming how they will be blessed, culminating in the Lord's Prayer (Luke 9:51—11:13). Luke 11 finishes with accounts of leaders who reject Jesus. The remainder of the travelogue gives a pattern of teaching on the kingdom of God, miracles, and explanations of salvation. Then Jesus enters Jerusalem to face the cross.
Book Summary:
Luke was a traveling companion of Paul (Acts 16:10) and a physician (Colossians 4:14). Unlike Matthew, Mark, and John, Luke writes his gospel as an historian, rather than as a first-hand eyewitness. His extensive writings also include the book of Acts (Acts 1:1–3). These are deliberately organized, carefully researched accounts of those events. The gospel of Luke focuses on the earthly ministry of Jesus Christ. Luke's Gentile perspective presents Christ as a Savior for all people, offering both forgiveness and direction to those who follow Him.
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