What does Luke 18:20 mean?
ESV: You know the commandments: ‘Do not commit adultery, Do not murder, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Honor your father and mother.’"
NIV: You know the commandments: ‘You shall not commit adultery, you shall not murder, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, honor your father and mother.’ "
CSB: You know the commandments: Do not commit adultery; do not murder; do not steal; do not bear false witness; honor your father and mother."
NLT: But to answer your question, you know the commandments: ‘You must not commit adultery. You must not murder. You must not steal. You must not testify falsely. Honor your father and mother.’ '
KJV: Thou knowest the commandments, Do not commit adultery, Do not kill, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Honor thy father and thy mother.
NKJV: You know the commandments: ‘Do not commit adultery,’ ‘Do not murder,’ ‘Do not steal,’ ‘Do not bear false witness,’ ‘Honor your father and your mother.’ ”
Verse Commentary:
A wealthy young man, important in his community, asks Jesus how to inherit eternal life. It's evident he is sincere; he's not looking for a theological argument. When he poses his question, he calls Jesus "Good Teacher." Jesus counters that only God is good (Luke 18:18–19). The term used by both the young ruler and Jesus is based on the root word agathos. It means to have a good nature, be useful, be pleasant and agreeable, to be honorable. All these characteristics are most evident within interactions with other people.

Jesus now builds on that response. He asks the man if he follows the Ten Commandments. Specifically, the commandments referring to how to treat other people. Notably, Jesus skips the last—do not covet—perhaps because the man is rich and likely doesn't covet others who live in the same town. This omission may also be to set up the conclusion of Jesus' point (Luke 18:22–23). This list resembles the one given by the Pharisee in Jesus' previous parable: "God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector" (Luke 18:11).

The young man affirms that he has kept these commandments; he is an honorable, pleasant person to other people. Jesus knows this is true (Mark 10:21). And yet, being agreeable and useful is not enough to merit eternal life. There is no standard of good that is enough.

So, Jesus pushes him to the level of good He knows he cannot reach: "Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor" (Luke 18:22). The man walks away, very sad. The idea of being poor repulses him more than Jesus and His message attracts. The man can't understand that what he thinks of as "goodness" is garbage compared to God (Philippians 3:8–11). What he needs is the proverbial tax collector's total dependence on God's mercy (Luke 18:13–14).
Verse Context:
Luke 18:18–27 introduces the counter example to the powerless, trusting children of Luke 18:15–17. This instance also contrasts with the sacrificial disciples of Luke 18:28–30. The children have nothing to cling to and readily receive God's kingdom. The rich man in this section cannot muster such dependent faith. He wants eternal life but doesn't know if it's worth sacrificing worldly comforts. Conversely, the disciples have given up their place in the world in hopes of something better. This story is also found in Matthew 19:16–22 and Mark 10:17–22.
Chapter Summary:
Luke continues to arrange Jesus' teachings by their topic. Here, he includes two parables: the persistent widow and the Pharisee and the tax collector. Jesus encourages children to approach Him. He interacts with a moral, wealthy man who can't bear to follow Jesus if it means giving up wealth. After another prediction of His death, Jesus encounters and heals a blind man on His way to Jerusalem.
Chapter Context:
Luke 18 approaches the end of Jesus' "travelogue" to Jerusalem (Luke 9:51—19:27). Luke has selected miracles, teachings, and events to show how Jesus trained His disciples. His emphasis was explaining the kingdom of God in preparation for their work to build the church. Luke 18 includes several contrasts between those who understand God's kingdom and those who don't. Luke 19 includes the story of Zacchaeus and another parable before Jesus' triumphal entry and the Passion Week. These stories are also found primarily in Matthew 19—20 and Mark 10.
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 7/24/2024 3:20:49 PM
© Copyright 2002-2024 Got Questions Ministries. All rights reserved.
Text from ESV, NIV, NASB, CSB, NLT, KJV, NKJV © Copyright respective owners, used by permission.