What does Luke 17:1 mean?
ESV: And he said to his disciples, "Temptations to sin are sure to come, but woe to the one through whom they come!
NIV: Jesus said to his disciples: "Things that cause people to stumble are bound to come, but woe to anyone through whom they come.
NASB: Now He said to His disciples, 'It is inevitable that stumbling blocks come, but woe to one through whom they come!
CSB: He said to his disciples, "Offenses will certainly come, but woe to the one through whom they come!
NLT: One day Jesus said to his disciples, 'There will always be temptations to sin, but what sorrow awaits the person who does the tempting!
KJV: Then said he unto the disciples, It is impossible but that offenses will come: but woe unto him, through whom they come!
NKJV: Then He said to the disciples, “It is impossible that no offenses should come, but woe to him through whom they do come!
Verse Commentary:
In an extensive section of his writing (Luke 9:51—19:27), Luke compiled events to show how Jesus prepared His disciples for His crucifixion and their responsibility to build the church. Luke 17:1–10 seems to contain a summary of various teachings from throughout Jesus' ministry. Jesus has warned the disciples and the Pharisees to consider how they use their money; it reflects their devotion to God. He also warned them to take the Law seriously (Luke 16). Now, Jesus dives more deeply into the spiritual and relational responsibilities of His followers who take on leadership roles.

Jesus is talking to "disciples," which in this case can mean more than the Twelve (Matthew 10:1–4). At any given moment, the larger group mentioned here may include many women (Luke 8:1–4; Acts 1:14), Joseph Barsabbas and Matthias (Acts 1:21–23), and many others (Acts 1:15). These are the future leaders of the church.

The Greek word interpreted "temptations to sin" in the ESV and "stumbling blocks" in the NASB is skandala. It refers to a snare or a trap or something that brings a person into error or sin. This same root word is seen in verses like Romans 14:13 in relation to judging other believers on disputable matters and causing others to defy their own conscience. Romans 16:17 warns about those "who cause divisions and create obstacles [skandalon] contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught." The word is also used in 1 Corinthians 1:23 in reference to the offence of the message of a crucified Savior. In short, we should not be a hindrance to another's obedience to God, nor should we be the reason they stumble in their actions or their beliefs. Jesus' warning comes with a dire comment: it would be better if the teacher were tied to a millstone and thrown into the sea (Luke 17:2).

Of course, a sincere, obedient teacher of God's Word won't intentionally drive a person into sinful action or away from Christ. However, careless words can confuse people. People may abandon faith when they disagree with it (John 6:60–66) but that's quite different from someone being given a warped or inaccurate version of truth by a faulty teacher. Jesus' warning ends with "Pay attention to yourselves!" (Luke 17:3). All believers, but especially those who teach, need to pay attention to what they say (Ephesians 4:29; Colossians 4:6; James 3:1–5). As Jesus' brother James will later write, "Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness" (James 3:1).

Luke 17:1–2 covers material like that of Matthew 18:1–7 and Mark 9:33–42 but with a different emphasis. Mark's version seems to be the most cohesive. The interaction begins when Jesus calls out the disciples for arguing over who is the greatest. Jesus takes a child and tells the disciples they must accept children in His name. Jesus then warns them not to stop others who are performing miraculous works in His name, even if they aren't a part of His larger disciple group. Then Jesus warns them about causing little ones to sin (Mark 9:33–42). Matthew includes that Jesus' followers must enter God's kingdom like a child (Matthew 18:1–7). In both set-ups, the disciples learn they must not only have humility, but they are also responsible for caring for those who are "younger"—whether in age or in faith.

The Pharisees teach and exalt a form of the Law that does not reflect God's will and leads others into sin (Luke 16:14–18). In fact, their converts are "twice as much a child of hell" as they are (Matthew 23:15). The disciples are not to do this. Even so, mistakes will happen. If the disciples' teaching does lead someone into sin—or if that person walks in voluntarily—they are to correct and forgive when that person sincerely repents (Luke 17:3–4).
Verse Context:
Luke 17:1–4 records Jesus' comments about sin from three different angles. First is our responsibility not to teach something leading others astray. Second is our responsibility to confront others with their sin. Third is our responsibility to forgive those who repent of their sin. These topics are also covered in Matthew 18:7, 15–22 and Mark 9:42. Luke completes this section of teachings on kingdom living with Jesus' words about the power of faith and our humble position before God (Luke 17:5–10).
Chapter Summary:
In his gospel, Luke has often arranged events by theme rather than by strict time order. That seems likely here with a series of teachings about living as Christ followers and ambassadors of God. Christians ought to be careful not to poison the faith of others. Faith is powerful. God's servants should not demand extravagant treatment in return. After healing ten lepers—only one of whom offers thanks—Jesus discusses the state of the world at His future second coming.
Chapter Context:
Luke 17 continues Jesus' teaching about how to live as citizens and ambassadors of the kingdom of God. Luke 15 describes God's love for the lost. Chapter 16 teaches earthly blessings are far inferior to heavenly rewards. Here, He exhorts His followers to lead well, serve humbly, give thanks, and watch for His second coming. In Luke 18, Jesus gives a series of comparisons to show how we are to approach God—as He approaches Jerusalem and 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.
Accessed 7/15/2024 12:19:05 AM
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