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Luke 18:13

    Luke 18:13 Translations

    King James Version (KJV)

    And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner.

    American King James Version (AKJV)

    And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes to heaven, but smote on his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner.

    American Standard Version (ASV)

    But the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote his breast, saying, God, be thou merciful to me a sinner.

    Basic English Translation (BBE)

    The tax-farmer, on the other hand, keeping far away, and not lifting up even his eyes to heaven, made signs of grief and said, God, have mercy on me, a sinner.

    Webster's Revision

    But the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote his breast, saying, God, be thou merciful to me a sinner.

    World English Bible

    But the tax collector, standing far away, wouldn't even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, 'God, be merciful to me, a sinner!'

    English Revised Version (ERV)

    But the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote his breast, saying, God, be merciful to me a sinner.

    Definitions for Luke 18:13

    Publican - A tax collector.

    Clarke's Commentary on Luke 18:13

    The publican, standing afar off - Not because he was a heathen, and dared not approach the holy place; (for it is likely he was a Jew); but because he was a true penitent, and felt himself utterly unworthy to appear before God.

    Would not lift up - his eyes - Holding down the head, with the eyes fixed upon the earth, was,

    1. A sign of deep distress.

    2. Of a consciousness and confession of guilt. And,

    3. It was the very posture that the Jewish rabbins required in those who prayed to God.

    See Ezra 9:6; and Mishna, in Berachoth, chap. v.; and Kypke's note here. So the Pharisee appears to have forgotten one of his own precepts.

    But smote upon his breast - Smiting the breast was a token of excessive grief, commonly practised in all nations. It seems to intimate a desire, in the penitent, to punish that heart through the evil propensities of which the sin deplored had been committed. It is still used among the Roman Catholics in their general confessions.

    God be merciful to me - Ἱλασθητι μοι - Be propitious toward me through sacrifice - or, let an atonement be made for me. I am a sinner, and cannot be saved but in this way. The Greek word ἱλασκω, or ἱλασκομαι, often signifies to make expiation for sin; and is used by the Septuagint, Psalm 65:4; Psalm 78:38; Psalm 79:9, for כפר kipper, he made an atonement. So ἱλασμος a propitiation, is used by the same, for חטאה chataah, a sacrifice for sin, Ezekiel 44:27; and ἱλαστηριον, the mercy seat, is, in the above version, the translation of כפרת kapporeth, the lid of the ark of the covenant, on and before which the blood of the expiatory victim was sprinkled, on the great day of atonement. The verb is used in exactly the same sense by the best Greek writers. The following from Herodotus, lib. i. p. 19, edit. Gale, is full in point. Θυσιῃσι μεγαλῃσι τον εν Δελφοισι θεον ἹΛΑΣΚΕΤΟ, Croesus appeased, or made an atonement to, the Delphic god by immense sacrifices. We see then, at once, the reason why our blessed Lord said that the tax-gatherer went down to his house justified rather than the other: - he sought for mercy through an atonement for sin, which was the only way in which God had from the beginning purposed to save sinners. As the Pharisee depended on his doing no harm, and observing the ordinances of religion for his acceptance with God, according to the economy of grace and justice, he must be rejected: for as all had sinned and come short of the glory of God, and no man could make an atonement for his sins, so he who did not take refuge in that which God's mercy had provided must be excluded from the kingdom of heaven. This was no new doctrine: it was the doctrine publicly and solemnly preached by every sacrifice offered under the Jewish law. Without shedding of blood there is no remission, was the loud and constant cry of the whole Mosaic economy. From this we may see what it is to have a righteousness superior to that of the scribes and Pharisees. We must humble ourselves before God, which they did not: we must take refuge in the blood of the cross, which they would not; and be meek and humble of heart, which they were not.

    Many suppose that the Pharisees thought they could acquire righteousness of themselves, independently of God, and that they did not depend on him for grace or power: but let us not make them worse than they were - for this is disclaimed by the Pharisee in the text, who attributes all the good he had to God: O God, I thank thee, that I am not as others - it is thou who hast made me to differ. But this was not sufficient: restraining grace must not be put in the place of the great atonement. Guilt he had contracted - and this guilt must be blotted out; and that there was no way of doing this, but through an atonement, the whole Jewish law declared. See the note on Matthew 5:20.

    Barnes' Notes on Luke 18:13

    Standing afar off - Afar off from the "temple." The place where prayer was offered in the temple was the court of women. The Pharisee advanced to the side of the court nearest to the temple, or near as he could; the publican stood on the other side of the same court if he was a Jew, or in the court of the Gentiles if he was a pagan, as far as possible from the temple, being conscious of his unworthiness to approach the sacred place where God had his holy habitation.

    So much as his eyes ... - Conscious of his guilt. He felt that he was a sinner, and shame and sorrow prevented his looking up. Men who are conscious of guilt always fix their eyes on the ground.

    Smote upon his breast - An expression of grief and anguish in view of his sins. It is a sign of grief among almost all nations.

    God be merciful ... - The prayer of the publican was totally different from that of the Pharisee. He made no boast of his own righteousness toward God or man. He felt that he was a sinner, and, feeling it, was willing to acknowledge it. This is the kind of prayer that will be acceptable to God. When we are willing to confess and forsake our sins, we shall find mercy, Proverbs 28:13. The publican was willing to do this in any place; in the presence of any persons; amid the multitudes of the temple, or alone. He felt most that "God" was a witness of his actions, and he was willing, therefore, to confess his sins before him. While we should not "seek" to do this "publicly," yet we should be willing at all times to confess our manifold transgressions, to the end that we may obtain forgiveness of the same by God's infinite goodness and mercy." It is not dishonorable to make acknowledgment when we have done wrong. No man is so much dishonored as he who is a sinner and is not willing to confess it; as he who has done wrong and yet attempts to "conceal" the fault, thus adding hypocrisy to his other crimes.

    Wesley's Notes on Luke 18:13

    18:13 The publican standing afar off - From the holy of holies, would not so much as lift up his eyes to heaven - Touched with shame, which is more ingenuous than fear.