Luke 17:1 Commentary - The Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges
Luk 17:1-4. The Peril of causing Men to Stumble.
1. It is impossible ] i.e. in the present condition of the world it is morally impossible.
offences ] See on Luk 7:23. While the world remains what it is, some will always set snares and stumblingblocks in the path of their brethren, and some will always fall over them, and some will make them for themselves (1Co 11:19; 1Pe 2:8).
woe unto him, through whom they come ] No moral necessity, no predestined certainty, removes the responsibility for individual guilt.
This section forms a great episode in St Luke, which may be called the departure for the final conflict, and is identical with the journey (probably to the Feast of the Dedication, Joh 10:22) which is partially Luk 9:51-56. And it came to pass, when the time was come that he touched upon in Mat 18:1 to Mat 20:16 and Mar 10:1-31. It contains many incidents recorded by this Evangelist alone, and though the recorded identifications of time and place are vague, yet they all point (Luk 9:51, Luk 13:22, Luk 17:11, Luk 10:38) to a slow, solemn, and public progress from Galilee to Jerusalem, of which the events themselves are often grouped by subjective considerations. So little certain is the order of the separate incidents, that one writer (Rev. W. Stewart) has made an ingenious attempt to shew that it is determined by the alphabetic arrangement of the leading Greek verbs ( ἀγαπᾶν , Luk 10:25-42; αἰτεῖν , Luk 11:1-5; Luk 11:8-13, &c.). Canon Westcott arranges the order thus: The Rejection of the Jews foreshewn; preparation, Luk 9:43 toLuk 11:13; Lessons of Warning, Luk 11:14 toLuk 13:9; Lessons of Progress, Luk 13:10 toLuk 14:24; Lessons of Discipleship, Luk 14:25 xvii. 10; the Coming End, Luk 17:10 toLuk 18:30.
The order of events after ‘the Galilaean spring’ of our Lord’s ministry on the plain of Gennesareth seems to have been this: After the period of flight among the heathen or in countries which were only semi-Jewish, of which almost the sole recorded incident is the healing of the daughter of the Syrophoenician woman (Mat 15:21-28 ). He returned to Peraea and fed the four thousand. He then sailed back to Gennesareth, but left it in deep sorrow on being met by the Pharisees with insolent demands for a sign from heaven. Turning His back once more on Galilee, He again travelled northwards; healed a blind man at Bethsaida Julias; received St Peter’s great confession on the way to Caesarea Philippi; was transfigured; healed the demoniac boy; rebuked the ambition of the disciples by the example of the little child; returned for a brief rest in Capernaum, during which occurred the incident of the Temple Tax; then journeyed to the Feast of Tabernacles, during which occurred the incidents so fully narrated by St John (Joh 7:1 to Joh 10:21). The events and teachings in this great section of St Luke seem to belong mainly, if not entirely, to the two months between the hasty return of Jesus to Galilee and His arrival in Jerusalem, two months afterwards, at the Feast of Dedication; a period respecting which St Luke must have had access to special sources of information.
For fuller discussion of the question I must refer to my Life of Christ, ii. 89-150.
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The Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges
The Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges is a biblical commentary set published in parts by Cambridge University Press from 1882 onwards. Anglican bishop John Perowne was the general editor. The first section published was written by theologian Thomas Kelly Cheyne and covered the Book of Micah.
Perowne exercised limited editorial control over the writers of individual commentaries: his aim was "to leave each contributor to the unfettered exercise of his own judgment".