Luke 11:52

52 "Woe to you 1lawyers! For you have taken away the key of knowledge; 2you yourselves did not enter, and you hindered those who were entering."

Luke 11:52 Meaning and Commentary

Luke 11:52

Woe unto you lawyers
Who are particularly addressed again in distinction from the Pharisees, though much the same things are said to them both in ( Matthew 23:13 )

for ye have taken away the key of knowledge;
of the Scriptures, of the law, and the prophets, and the true interpretation of them, and especially of such places as refer to the Messiah, and the Gospel dispensation, called the kingdom of heaven, ( Matthew 23:13 ) they had not only arrogated the knowledge of these to themselves, setting up for the only interpreters of the sacred writings; but they had took away from the people the true knowledge and sense of them, by their false glosses upon them, so that they were destroyed for lack of knowledge: and hence came that famine of hearing the word, which they say F3 should be before the coming of the King Messiah, and now was. The Syriac and Arabic versions read, "the keys of knowledge"; and the Ethiopic version, "the key of righteousness". The Jews sometimes speak of "the keys of the law", and represent the oral law as the root and key of the written law F4: but, alas! it was by the oral law, or traditions of the elders, that they took away the key, or obscured the true sense of the written law. Some think, that here is an allusion to the custom of delivering a key to any one, when he was ordained or promoted to the dignity of a doctor: it is said of R. Samuel F5, that

``when he died they put, (wxtpm) , "his key", and his writing book into his coffin, because he was not worthy of a son''

to succeed him:

ye entered not in yourselves;
into the kingdom of heaven, the Gospel dispensation, neither receiving doctrines, nor submitting to its ordinances:

and them that were entering in ye hindered;
by reproaching the miracles and ministry of Christ; by threatenings and excommunications; (See Gill on Matthew 23:13).


F3 Targum in Ruth i, 1.
F4 Zohar in Exod. fol. 46. 1.
F5 Vid. Cameron. in loc.

Luke 11:52 In-Context

50 so that the blood of all the prophets, shed since the foundation of the world, may be charged against this generation,
51 from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah, who was killed between the altar and the house of God; yes, I tell you, it shall be charged against this generation.'
52 "Woe to you lawyers! For you have taken away the key of knowledge; you yourselves did not enter, and you hindered those who were entering."
53 When He left there, the scribes and the Pharisees began to be very hostile and to question Him closely on many subjects,
54 plotting against Him to catch Him in something He might say .

Cross References 2

  • 1. Matthew 22:35; Luke 11:45, 46
  • 2. Matthew 23:13

Footnotes 1

  • [a]. I.e. experts in the Mosaic Law
New American Standard Bible Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation, La Habra, California.  All rights reserved.