What does Luke 7:46 mean?
ESV: You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment.
NIV: You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet.
NASB: You did not anoint My head with oil, but she anointed My feet with perfume.
CSB: You didn’t anoint my head with olive oil, but she has anointed my feet with perfume.
NLT: You neglected the courtesy of olive oil to anoint my head, but she has anointed my feet with rare perfume.
KJV: My head with oil thou didst not anoint: but this woman hath anointed my feet with ointment.
NKJV: You did not anoint My head with oil, but this woman has anointed My feet with fragrant oil.
Verse Commentary:
Jesus finishes His comparison of Simon the Pharisees' greeting of Jesus with that of the sinful woman. Simon invited Jesus to a banquet and provided the minimum required welcomes. He didn't provide Jesus with water to wash His feet, he didn't greet Him with a kiss, and he didn't provide oil for His head (Luke 7:36, 45–46). That's fine, as such honors were not mandatory. Yet, considering Simon knew this man has raised the dead, expelled demons, and healed all sorts of illnesses and injuries (Luke 7:14–17, 21), such courtesies would have been appropriate.

The woman, however, first wept so much she was able to clean Jesus' feet with her tears. After wiping His feet with her hair, she then kissed them and anointed them with a bottle of perfume. While she did so, Simon silently dismissed her as too sinful for his consideration and judged Jesus for letting her touch Him (Luke 7:37–39).

Jesus takes Simon through three steps. First, He will not be shamed for accepting the gracious attentions of a woman who did far more for Him than Simon (Luke 7:45–46). Second, He knows she's sinful, but He also knows she acted out of love, which Simon lacks (Luke 7:47). Finally, she loves much because she knows she is forgiven of much. More to the point: she is forgiven. Simon has no right to judge her character, let alone her actions, because she is reconciled to God (Luke 7:48). Repentance, not rule-keeping, reconcile us to God and, in turn, make us love Him (Deuteronomy 6:5).
Verse Context:
Luke 7:39–50 places Simon the Pharisee at center stage. Unlike the centurion (Luke 7:1–10), Simon misreads his standing in comparison to the greatness of Jesus. He's somewhere between the humble who accept Jesus and the arrogant who flatly reject Him (Luke 7:29–34). Simon has invited Jesus to dinner, given Him the minimum hospitality, and silently judged Him. This contrasts with the repentant woman who interrupts dinner to bless Jesus (Luke 7:36–38). Jesus goes where Simon doesn't expect: Simon understands neither forgiveness nor love.
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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