Luke 8 Study Notes


8:1-3 As Jesus was traveling and preaching in Galilee, he was accompanied by the Twelve (see note at 6:14-16) and several well-to-do women who, out of gratitude for being healed by Jesus, financially supported him and the apostles. Mary . . . Magdalene (i.e., of the town of Magdala), who became a well-known follower (Mt 27:61), is introduced here. Joanna, who is also mentioned in 24:10, was married to a man who held a responsible position under Herod Antipas, the tetrarch of Galilee (see note at 3:1). Nothing else is known about Susanna.

8:4-8 From this point forward, Jesus used the parable approach much more, the purpose of which is explained in vv. 9-10. In an agricultural society, everyone would have understood what happened when a sower went out into a field to sow his seed. At least one path ran through most fields, and much of the terrain in Israel was rocky under a thin layer of topsoil. Dropping seeds along such paths was futile. Many fields had thorn bushes along the perimeters. Seeds falling there had no chance to grow and survive until harvest time. Others, however, did fall on fertile soil and produced a bumper crop (a hundred times what was sown). Anyone who has ears to hear should listen is a challenge to carefully consider the story and its hidden meaning and practical implications (Rv 2:7).

8:9-10 Jesus’s disciples could not understand the point of the story, so they asked him its meaning. Quoting from Is 6:9, Jesus explained that he used parables as a way to reveal the truths of the kingdom of God to believers but that the story by itself actually concealed the meaning from unbelievers.

8:11-12 The key to the parable is that the seed being sown stands for the preaching of the word of God. The seeds that fell on the hard dirt along the path did not penetrate the hearts of those who heard God’s Word because the devil stole the seed away. So they remained unsaved.

8:13-14 The seeds on the rocky soil seemed to flourish at first, but they could not put down roots, so they soon withered and died. The seed . . . among thorns that produce no mature fruit may be: (1) those whose unbelief is revealed by their response to worries, riches, and the pleasures of life, or (2) believers who are not fruitful (1Co 3:10-15).

8:15 The seed in the good ground represents fruitful believers (Jn 15:2) who receive God’s word with an open heart and persevere in the faith.

8:16-18 How a person responds to God’s revelation determines whether he will receive more light or lose what he has. In the end, God will bring everything to light.

8:19-21 Jesus’s brothers (named in Mt 13:55) were later children of Joseph and Mary. Human relationships built upon mutual faith in Christ, spiritual openness to one another, and shared obedience to the word of God are more important than relationships with physical family members, especially if the family members are unbelievers.

8:22-25 When a boat trip across the Sea of Galilee ran into a fierce windstorm, Jesus slept in the boat while his disciples came up against the storm and feared they would die. When Jesus was awakened, he demonstrated full authority over wind and waves by calming the storm. He also chided his disciples for their lack of faith. Had they genuinely trusted Jesus, they would not have feared even the fiercest winds and waves.

8:26 The region of the Gerasenes was probably around the town of Gergesa (or Khersa), on the eastern coast of the Sea of Galilee. The name for this predominantly Gentile region came from the city of Gerasa, located about thirty-five miles to the southeast.

8:27 In the parallel account in Mt 8:28, two demon-possessed men are mentioned. Apparently, Luke chose to focus on the one who did the talking. The phrase did not stay in a house but in the tombs may refer to an outdoor burial ground, but since the man was naked, it is more likely this refers to a cave, several of which have been found in that area.

8:28-31 The demon who spoke identified Jesus, just as the demons did in 4:34 and Ac 16:17. Son of the Most High was the wording used by the angel in speaking to Mary (see note at 1:31-33). Don’t torment me probably refers to sending the demon to the abyss, a place where some of the demons are currently confined (Rv 9:1-2,11). Demons enabled people whom they possessed to perform feats of great strength (he would snap the restraints). It is not clear whether Jesus was asking the name of the man or the demon, but the demon answered. A legion of Roman soldiers was a force of six thousand. Thus many demons possessed this man.

8:32-33 The presence of a large herd of pigs indicates that the region of the Gerasenes was heavily Gentile because Jews considered pigs to be unclean animals (Lv 11:7-8) and would never herd them. The cruel destructiveness of demons is seen in that, as soon as Jesus permitted them to enter the pigs, they caused them to drown in the lake (the Sea of Galilee).

8:34-37 Sitting at Jesus’s feet is the position of a disciple (i.e., the pupil; see 10:38-42). The people were afraid when the demon-possessed man returned to normal, for Jesus had exercised a power that revealed his supernatural identity.

8:38-39 Because he had been asked to leave, Jesus told the healed man to stay in that region and testify to what God had done for him. The man obeyed by proclaiming how much Jesus had done for him.

8:40-42 Jesus returned to Galilee. He likely had met this Jairus before. He had spoken in most of the synagogues in Galilee, and Jairus was a leader (Gk archon, “ruler”; probably the chief elder who conducted the services) in the local synagogue.

8:43-46 The account of the woman suffering from bleeding for twelve years interrupts the narrative to show that delay during a critical hour of the girl’s illness could not keep Jesus from healing her. As for the woman, her bleeding was probably menstrual hemorrhaging, which had made her ceremonially unclean for all this time (Lv 15:25-31). As a doctor, Luke was especially sensitive to the fact that this woman had spent all her resources on doctors and yet could not be healed. Even with the crowd pressing against Jesus from all sides, he was immediately aware of the touch of the woman who was instantly healed of her bleeding. No explanation is given for how he knew that healing power had gone out from him.

8:47-48 The woman was instantly healed, but she was understandably fearful when Jesus singled her out. After hearing her explanation, Jesus stated that her faith in him had saved her.

8:49-50 During the delay caused by Jesus’s interaction with the bleeding woman, the daughter of the synagogue leader died. The natural conclusion was that she was now beyond the help of Jesus. However, he stated that the same kind of faith that had brought about the healing of the bleeding woman would bring the dead girl back to life.

8:51-53 In this passage Peter, John, and James are set apart by Jesus as the inner circle of the apostles (9:28; Mt 26:37). The sense of finality by the child’s parents and, apparently, even the apostles was so profound that the people in the house laughed at Jesus when he seemingly denied that the girl was dead (she is not dead but asleep).

8:54-56 When Jesus commanded, Child, get up, her spirit returned to her body. Then she got up and had something to eat. It is not known why Jesus insisted that her parents not tell about him raising their daughter from the dead. The crowd outside knew that the girl had genuinely died. Now she was alive just after Jesus went in to see her. There could be no hiding the fact that Jesus raised her.