Luke 9 Study Notes


9:1-2 After the Twelve had observed Jesus’s ministry for several months, he delegated power and authority over demons and diseases to them (see note at 6:12-13). Their other mission was to proclaim the kingdom of God. In the parallel passage in Mt 10, the apostles were specifically instructed to avoid the Samaritans and Gentiles and to go only to “the lost sheep of the house of Israel” (Mt 10:6), but Luke did not include this restriction.

9:3-5 The apostles were to be dependent on hospitable hosts (take nothing) and were to move on if a family or town did not welcome them. Shake off the dust from your feet was a gesture of judgment against those who rejected the apostles and their message about Jesus. Paul and Barnabas practiced this at Antioch of Pisidia (Ac 13:51).

9:6 Proclaiming the good news is paralleled here with “proclaim the kingdom of God” in v. 2. The message of the gospel of Jesus Christ is the means of entry into the kingdom of God.

9:7-9 Herod Antipas (see note at 3:1) was at a loss (perplexed) to decide whether Jesus was John the Baptist raised from the dead. The parallel passages (Mt 14:2; Mk 6:16) indicate he decided that Jesus was indeed the risen John. Others around Antipas, however, thought Jesus was the prophet Elijah (see Mal 4:5). John himself had partially fulfilled this prophecy (Mt 11:14). Still others believed that some other OT prophet had come back. Herod Antipas eventually would get to meet and interview Jesus (23:6-12)—but Jesus would not speak to him.

9:10-11 After the apostles returned from their mission, they reported their deeds, and Jesus again took the lead over the ministry of preaching and healing. Bethsaida was a town on the northeastern coast of the Sea of Galilee that had recently been rebuilt by Herod Philip (see note at 3:1). The attempt to find a private place outside Bethsaida where the apostles could rest and confer with Jesus was foiled by the following crowds.

9:12-17 Other than his resurrection from the dead, the feeding of the five thousand is the only miracle of Jesus that appears in all four Gospels (Mt 14:13-21; Mk 6:30-44; Jn 6:5-14).

9:12-14 According to John’s Gospel, Jesus, already knowing what he was going to do, was the one who expressed concern initially over where the crowd would find food and lodging so late in the day (Jn 6:5-6). Here in Luke, Jesus responded to the question by the Twelve by challenging them to give them something to eat. The apostles had already surveyed the crowd and found only five loaves of bread and two fish to feed about five thousand men (who, with women and children, could easily have totaled fifteen thousand or more). To better manage distribution, Jesus had the apostles organize the huge crowd into groups of about fifty people.

9:16-17 It is likely that when Jesus looked up to heaven and blessed and broke the loaves, he uttered the traditional Jewish mealtime prayer: “Blessed are you, Lord our God, King of the world, who brings out bread from the earth.” The miracle of the multiplying of the loaves and fish took place in the hands of Jesus as he broke the food and kept giving it to the disciples to distribute. At the end, it appears that each of the twelve apostles picked up a full basket of leftover pieces, even after feeding thousands of people. The Jews were required to pick up scraps of food that fell during any meal.

9:18-20 These verses are another example of Luke’s emphasis on prayer. The answers the disciples gave to Jesus’s question about his identity prove that Herod Antipas was not the only person who was perplexed on this point (see note at vv. 7-9). When Jesus asked the disciples their personal opinion, Peter answered as spokesman for the group. His answer, that Jesus is God’s Messiah, is the conclusion to which everything in Luke’s Gospel points.


Greek pronunciation [DAY]
CSB translation it is necessary, must
Uses in Luke’s Gospel 18
Uses in the NT 101
Focus passage Luke 9:22

The Greek word dei is a special form of the verb deo, meaning to bind, and refers to something that is a binding obligation upon someone. In the Gospels the term dei normally occurs in contexts related to some aspect of salvation, and the binding obligation comes from the decree of God—though this is not stated but is clearly implied. Thus in Luke’s Gospel dei indicates that Jesus must (is necessary to. . .) do the Father’s will (2:49); preach (4:43); keep a divine appointment with a tax collector (19:5); suffer, die, and rise again (9:22; 17:25; 24:7,26; see Mt 16:21; Mk 8:31; Ac 17:3); and that the Scriptures must be fulfilled (Lk 24:44; see Jn 20:9; Ac 1:16). Luke continues the theme of divine necessity in Acts: Jesus must remain in heaven until the appointed time (Ac 3:21), everyone must believe in Jesus for salvation (Ac 4:12; 16:30-31), and believers must suffer for Jesus’s sake (Ac 9:16; 14:22).

9:21-22 Jesus was not ready to present himself openly as the Messiah. In popular Jewish views of that time, Messiah was expected to overthrow Roman rule and, in a wave of popularity, take over as king of Israel. Contrary to this, Jesus’s mission was to suffer and be rejected by the Jewish leadership before being killed and raised from the dead. This was the first of several predictions by Jesus of his death and/or resurrection (v. 44; 12:50; 17:25; 18:31-33).

9:23 To be a true disciple of Jesus requires self-denial. The cross was the most painful and humiliating form of execution of the Roman era. Thus to take up one’s cross daily is to expect painful situations every day because of allegiance to Christ.

9:24 The principle that one must lose one’s life to save it as opposed to living only for this world is Jesus’s most common refrain in the Gospels (14:26-27; 17:33; Mt 10:38-39; 16:24-25; Mk 8:34-35; Jn 12:25). To follow him, we must lay down our devotions to this world and live for Christ and his mission.

9:25 No matter how wealthy a person is in this life (gains the whole world), he will be bankrupt eternally (forfeits himself) if he dies without Christ.

9:26 To be ashamed of Christ and his words indicates unbelief, which will bring eternal judgment (12:9; 2Tm 2:12) at his second coming. It is also possible for believers to temporarily cower in fear around unbelieving peers and act “ashamed” of Jesus, as Peter did in his denials of Christ. In such cases a believer may suffer loss of heavenly reward (1Co 3:10-15; 2Co 5:10) but not suffer eternal punishment.

9:27 This cryptic statement refers to the next event in the book—the transfiguration of Jesus (vv. 28-35). Some standing here indicates Peter, James, and John, who were with Jesus at his transfiguration (v. 28). See the kingdom of God apparently means that the glorious appearance of Jesus (vv. 29,32) was a preview of the coming kingdom.

9:28-29 On Peter, John, and James, see note at 8:51-53. The traditional candidate for the mountain in these verses is Mount Tabor, six miles east of Nazareth and about 1,900 feet in elevation. However, it is more likely that it was Mount Hermon, located between Caesarea Philippi and Damascus, which rises 9,000 feet above sea level. We are not told in what sense the appearance of Jesus’s face changed. His clothes are described as dazzling white (gleaming, like a bolt of lightning). There may be an intended similarity here to Moses after he was with God on Mount Sinai (Ex 34:29-35) or to the vision of the Son of Man in Rv 1:13-16.

9:30-31 Jewish tradition expected Moses and Elijah (see Mal 4:5-6) to return before the arrival of the kingdom of God. Like Jesus, their appearances were almost blinding in this special appearance. The word translated departure (Gk exodos) can also refer to the OT exodus from Egypt. The choice of this word may be an association with the presence of Moses. In Jerusalem makes it clear that the “exodus” would be Jesus’s death on the cross.

9:32-33 It is not clear whether Peter, James, and John were in a deep sleep because it was in the middle of the night or if they were caused to fall asleep as Daniel was when angels came (Dn 8:18; 10:9). Peter spoke as Moses and Elijah were departing in an attempt to prolong the glorious scene. But his idea was shortsighted for two reasons: (1) to make three equal shelters (temporary structures for housing) was to place Moses and Elijah on a level with Jesus and not to worship him exclusively (Rv 19:10; 22:8-9) and (2) Jesus’s discussion of his coming “exodus” in Jerusalem (see note at Lk 9:30-31) meant there was no room for delay in God’s plan of redemption.

9:34-35 The cloud that overshadowed the scene recalls the cloud that came over the tabernacle in the wilderness (Ex 40:34-35). The voice . . . from the cloud combines an echo of 3:22, at Jesus’s baptism, and an allusion to Dt 18:15, where Israel was told to listen to the prophet like Moses who would come (the Messiah).

9:36 Luke does not state why the three apostles were silent about what they had experienced, though Mt 17:9 states that Jesus commanded them to tell no one until after his resurrection. In 2Pt 1:16-18, Peter recalls his experience at the transfiguration.

9:37-43a It is not known whether the disciples who could not heal the boy afflicted with seizures by a demon were the nine apostles who did not see Jesus’s transfiguration or some of the wider group of disciples. It is not explained whether it was just the onlookers, or also the disciples, who were unbelieving. The boy was immediately healed when Jesus rebuked the demon.

9:43b-45 In the aftermath of the healing of the demon-possessed boy (vv. 38-43), Jesus shifted gears and announced that he would soon be betrayed and captured. The disciples were confused by Jesus’s words. Luke states that it was concealed from them until after Jesus’s death and resurrection. Meanwhile, their fear of Jesus’s talk about betrayal and death kept them from asking him what he meant.

9:46-48 The question about who was the greatest among the apostles came up more than once (22:24). Jesus knew the competitive pride that fostered the argument and was quick to point out that, spiritually, whoever was least (truly humble as a disciple of Christ) was great.

9:49-50 Apparently the man casting out demons in Jesus’s name was a true disciple, even though he did not follow Jesus from town to town. The spiritual principle here is to be careful about judging, because certain people who are not against you may be on your side. The opposite point is made in 11:23.

9:51 The phrase the days . . . for him to be taken up refers to Jesus’s ascension to heaven and the events leading up to it. Determined means literally “to fix your face,” a Hebrew expression for firmness of purpose in spite of danger. The mention of traveling to Jerusalem begins the third major section of Luke’s Gospel (9:51-19:44).

9:52-56 The Samaritans would not welcome Jesus because he was headed to Jerusalem to worship in the temple and not to Mount Gerizim, their preferred site of worship (see Jn 4:20-21). In Mk 3:17, the apostles James and John were nicknamed by Jesus Boanerges, meaning “sons of thunder,” likely indicating that they had fiery tempers. Call down fire from heaven recalls Elijah’s action in 2Kg 1:9-16.

9:57-58 Jesus warned this would-be disciple to count the cost before committing to follow him. After all, even Christ himself had no place to call home. To follow Christ is to loosen your grip on the things that normally provide physical and emotional security.

9:59-60 It is doubtful that this man’s father had already died. If he had, the man would have been involved in burial rites instead of talking to Jesus. Thus the man’s words were an excuse to delay, possibly for years, his responsibility to follow Jesus and spread the news of the kingdom of God.

9:61-62 In 14:26, Jesus made it clear that he must be the top priority in a disciple’s life, even above one’s family. Puts his hand to the plow and looks back means looking over your shoulder while plowing, making it impossible to plow a straight furrow. Christians cannot follow Christ by looking back. We must focus on serving him as we move ahead at his command.