What does Luke 7:9 mean?
ESV: When Jesus heard these things, he marveled at him, and turning to the crowd that followed him, said, "I tell you, not even in Israel have I found such faith."
NIV: When Jesus heard this, he was amazed at him, and turning to the crowd following him, he said, "I tell you, I have not found such great faith even in Israel."
NASB: Now when Jesus heard this, He was amazed at him, and turned and said to the crowd that was following Him, 'I say to you, not even in Israel have I found such great faith.'
CSB: Jesus heard this and was amazed at him, and turning to the crowd following him, he said, "I tell you, I have not found so great a faith even in Israel."
NLT: When Jesus heard this, he was amazed. Turning to the crowd that was following him, he said, 'I tell you, I haven’t seen faith like this in all Israel!'
KJV: When Jesus heard these things, he marveled at him, and turned him about, and said unto the people that followed him, I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel.
NKJV: When Jesus heard these things, He marveled at him, and turned around and said to the crowd that followed Him, “I say to you, I have not found such great faith, not even in Israel!”
Verse Commentary:
A centurion has sent elders to ask Jesus to heal his slave. When Jesus approaches the house, the centurion sends friends, this time to tell Jesus he is not worthy to host such an honored man. As a military commander, he knows what it means to hold power and authority. If he tells an officer or a slave to act, he expects that they will; he doesn't need to be present to make sure the task is complete. He assumes Jesus has the same authority (Luke 7:2–8).

The centurion contrasts with men of other stories. Simon the Pharisee invites Jesus to a banquet, then doubts His credentials as a prophet (Luke 7:36–39). When Jairus' daughter lies dying, he insists Jesus follow him home (Luke 8:40–42). When the official's son is ill, he begs Jesus to come and heal his son until Jesus gives him assurance that his son will live (John 4:46–54).

Later, people will rely on Peter's shadow (Acts 5:15) or a piece of cloth Paul has touched (Acts 19:11–12) for healing. Naaman—eventually—trusted that Elisha's second-hand instructions would heal his leprosy (2 Kings 5:9–14). We have the ironic advantage that because Jesus is no longer physically present, we know He can work remotely. As Jesus told Thomas, "Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed" (John 20:29).

"Israel" doesn't refer here to the geographic area but to Jews. The Jews had the advantage of God's favor since the time of Abraham, thousands of years before. They had the prophets who described Jesus' messiahship with startling clarity. Even then, they doubted. The faith of this Gentile outpaced them all.

The only other time Jesus is described as having "marveled" is in Mark 6:6 when the Nazarenes refused to believe Him. Does this mean Jesus is surprised by something He did not know? Many scholars believe Jesus had complete omnipotence and omniscience throughout His life on earth. Others consider that as a child He "increased in wisdom and in stature" (Luke 2:52) and throughout His time on earth "emptied himself" (Philippians 2:7) to mean that He only had the supernatural wisdom and knowledge that the Holy Spirit gave Him. Jesus didn't lose His deity when He lived on earth; He merely refrained from using His full power.
Verse Context:
Luke 7:1–10 records the story of a Gentile centurion with humble faith. The centurion's servant is dying, so he sends messengers to only ask for healing, assuming Jesus doesn't need to be physically present. Jesus is amazed at his faith. Matthew 8:5–13 also records the story; John 4:46–54 is a different event. The centurion's faith contrasts Simon the Pharisee. Simon invites Jesus to a banquet without realizing his unworthiness to have such a guest (Luke 7:39–50). Jairus is another foil (Luke 8:40–42, 49–56) while the Syrian general Naaman serves as a prophetic parallel (2 Kings 5).
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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