Chapter # 5 Paragraph # 3 Study # 4
May 6, 2007
21 And the scribes and the Pharisees began to reason, saying, Who is this which speaketh blasphemies? Who can forgive sins, but God alone?
1901 ASV Translation:
21 And the scribes and the Pharisees began to reason, saying, Who is this that speaketh blasphemies? Who can forgive sins, but God alone?
- I. The Questioners.
- A. The scribes.
- 1. This is the first time (out of 15) Luke has mentioned this category of Jewish leader. They are paired with the Pharisees in 5:30; 6:7; 11:44; 11:53; and 15:2.
- 2. They are again tied in with the Pharisees in their "murmuring against" the behavior of Jesus' disciples in 5:30 (in the very next paragraph).
- 3. Again in 6:7 they and the Pharisees seek a way to accuse Jesus.
- 4. In 9:22 they are found in the company of the elders and chief priests as the killers of the Son of Man (by Jesus' prophetic utterance).
- 5. Jesus castigates them along with the Pharisees as hypocrites in 11:44 and in 11:53 they are again with the Pharisees doing all they can to oppose Jesus.
- 6. In 15:2, paired again with the Pharisees, they are at it again along the same vein as 5:30.
- 7. In 19:47, the chief priests, the scribes, and the chief of the people are seeking to make His prophecy of 9:22 come to pass.
- 8. In 20:1, the chief priests and the elders and the scribes come after Jesus in the temple.
- 9. In 20:19 the chief priests and the scribes seek to lay hands on Jesus but are afraid of the people.
- 10. In 20:39 Luke gives the only "positive" account of a scribe.
- 11. The scribes are characterized as extremely dangerous because of their lust for status in 20:46.
- 12. 22:2 is a repeat of 20:19
- 13. 22:66 records the actual fulfillment of the prophecy of Jesus of 9:22.
- 14. In 23:10 the chief priests and scribes vehemently accuse Him before Herod.
- B. The Pharisees.
- 1. Luke's record in 5:17-26 is the first mention of the Pharisees. They are identified by Luke in 27 references in his gospel.
- 2. Only in 11:31 does a "Pharisee" come out looking "good" in Luke's records.
- 3. They are deliberately cast as "lovers of money" in 16:14 and extremely self righteous in 18:11.
- C. In combination, the scribes and Pharisees are men who are deeply committed to being in the limelight and garnering attention to themselves. As such, anyone who came on the scene and began to be wildly popular would be viewed with the innate jealousy of one who cannot stand to have someone outside of their "group" be viewed with more favor than themselves. The "setting" of the theological/personal commitment by these men was ripe for intense conflict at the coming of someone like Jesus.
- II. The Questions.
- A. Who is this one who speaks blasphemies?
- 1. This question does not ask if it is blasphemy.
- 2. The "accusatory" mentality is already present, so the attitudes are already negative.
- a. This question needs to be asked: Why could these men not be "just" in dealing with the evidence? What is it about the corruption of mankind that does not allow any issue to be a matter of the evidence?
- b. It is true that "theology" is the most critical area of a person's/nation's life, but "theology" needs more than a commitment to careful thinking; it needs a "heart" for what is truly good.
- B. Who is able to forgive sins except God alone?
- 1. Clearly the question is dealing with "final" forgiveness as all men know that men are to "forgive" others who repent of sins committed against them.
- 2. The question about the question is this: Is it true that God alone can forgive sins?
- a. In any "final" sense, the only one who can "forgive" is the one who has made a way for forgiveness to not be a travesty of justice.
- b. Unless someone other than God can be found who is able to legitimately satisfy Justice, the Pharisees and scribes are correct in the assumptions supporting this question.