What does Luke 7:11 mean?
ESV: Soon afterward he went to a town called Nain, and his disciples and a great crowd went with him.
NIV: Soon afterward, Jesus went to a town called Nain, and his disciples and a large crowd went along with him.
NASB: Soon afterward Jesus went to a city called Nain; and His disciples were going along with Him, accompanied by a large crowd.
CSB: Afterward he was on his way to a town called Nain. His disciples and a large crowd were traveling with him.
NLT: Soon afterward Jesus went with his disciples to the village of Nain, and a large crowd followed him.
KJV: And it came to pass the day after, that he went into a city called Nain; and many of his disciples went with him, and much people.
NKJV: Now it happened, the day after, that He went into a city called Nain; and many of His disciples went with Him, and a large crowd.
Verse Commentary:
Between Jesus' presentation as the Messiah in Nazareth (Luke 4:16–30) and James and John's request to call down fire on a village in Samaria (Luke 9:51–56), Luke alludes to the Old Testament prophets Elijah and Elisha fifteen times. Some are subtle, others are overt. The account of Jesus raising the son of the widow of Nain is the second of two stories that directly point back to Jesus' statement in Nazareth (Luke 4:24–27). First, like Elisha cleansing the foreign military commander Naaman of leprosy (2 Kings 5:1–14), Jesus healed the servant of a centurion—a foreign military officer—remotely (Luke 7:1–10). Second, this story, which parallels Elijah bringing to life the son of the widow of Zarephath (1 Kings 17:8–24).

The imagery is powerful. As Jesus walks into the gates with a crowd of followers, they meet a crowd of mourners carrying the body of the only son of a widow. It's as if two waves meet; which will give way? Normally, Jesus' crowd would follow social convention and join the funeral procession. Not this time.

"Soon afterward" is vague, so all that's sure is this event happened after the centurion's servant was healed and before John the Baptist died. Nain is a small town in the far south of the district of Galilee, not the city in Judea mentioned in Josephus' Jewish War. It's within walking distance of Nazareth and maybe two days from Capernaum. It's only about half a mile, or less than a kilometer, from Shunem: the hometown of the woman whose son Elisha raised from the dead (2 Kings 4:8–37).
Verse Context:
Luke 7:11–17 is the story of Jesus in the village of Nain. There, Jesus raises to life the only son of a widow. The people are terrified, but praise God. The mother parallels the sinful woman caught powerless in a male-dominated society (Luke 7:36–38); the boy is like the demoniac who cannot ask for healing (Luke 8:26–39). Luke again ties Jesus to Old Testament prophets, specifically Elijah, with the healing of the son of the widow of Zarephath (1 Kings 17:8–24), and Elisha, who raised the Shunammite woman's son (2 Kings 4:18–37).
Chapter Summary:
Luke 7 presents a chiasm: a set of themes mirrored around a reflection point. The humble centurion (Luke 7:1–10) contrasts the legalistic Pharisee (Luke 7:39–50). The widow of Nain (Luke 7:11–17) and the sinful women (Luke 7:36–38) have nothing to offer but gratitude for Jesus' blessings. In the center are John the Baptist and his disciples who struggle to trust that Jesus is worth following (Luke 7:18–23), then the sinners who do choose to follow Jesus and the religious leaders who refuse (Luke 7:24–35).
Chapter Context:
Luke 7 continues Jesus' mission primarily to the people of Galilee expressed as a series of pointed events and teachings punctuated by calls to follow Him. He has finished teaching the rigors of discipleship (Luke 6:17–45) and invited the crowd to place their faith in Him (Luke 6:46–49). Here, Luke describes different reactions to Jesus' miracles and message. Next, Jesus will reveal the mechanics of and reactions to His call (Luke 8:4–21) before showing His great authority over nature, demons, sickness, and worldly powers (Luke 8:22—9:17). After a final call to the disciples to deepen their faith (Luke 9:18–50), Jesus will turn toward Jerusalem (Luke 9:51—19:27).
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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