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Healing the Centurion’s Slave

After Jesus[a] had finished teaching all this to the people,[b] he entered Capernaum.[c] A centurion[d] there[e] had a slave[f] who was highly regarded,[g] but who was sick and at the point of death. When the centurion[h] heard[i] about Jesus, he sent some Jewish elders[j] to him, asking him to come[k] and heal his slave. When[l] they came[m] to Jesus, they urged[n] him earnestly,[o] “He is worthy[p] to have you do this for him, because he loves our nation,[q] and even[r] built our synagogue.”[s] So[t] Jesus went with them. When[u] he was not far from the house, the centurion[v] sent friends to say to him, “Lord, do not trouble yourself,[w] for I am not worthy[x] to have you come under my roof! That is why[y] I did not presume[z] to come to you. Instead, say the word, and my servant must be healed.[aa] For I too am a man set under authority, with soldiers under me.[ab] I say to this one, ‘Go!’ and he goes,[ac] and to another, ‘Come!’ and he comes, and to my slave, ‘Do this!’ and he does it.”[ad] When Jesus heard this, he was amazed[ae] at him. He turned and said to the crowd that followed him, “I tell you, not even in Israel have I found such faith!”[af] 10 So[ag] when those who had been sent returned to the house, they found the slave[ah] well.

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  1. Luke 7:1 tn Grk “he”; the referent (Jesus) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
  2. Luke 7:1 tn Grk “After he had completed all his sayings in the hearing of the people.”
  3. Luke 7:1 sn Capernaum was a town located on the northwest shore of the Sea of Galilee, 680 ft (204 m) below sea level. It existed since Hasmonean times and was a major trade and economic center in the North Galilean region. The population in the first century is estimated to be around 1,500. Capernaum became the hub of operations for Jesus’ Galilean ministry (Matt 4:13; Mark 2:1). In modern times the site was discovered in 1838 by the American explorer E. Robinson, and major excavations began in 1905 by German archaeologists H. Kohl and C. Watzinger. Not until 1968, however, were remains from the time of Jesus visible; in that year V. Corbo and S. Loffreda began a series of annual archaeological campaigns that lasted until 1985. This work uncovered what is thought to be the house of Simon Peter as well as ruins of the first century synagogue beneath the later synagogue from the fourth or fifth century A.D. Today gently rolling hills and date palms frame the first century site, a favorite tourist destination of visitors to the Galilee.
  4. Luke 7:2 sn A centurion was a noncommissioned officer in the Roman army or one of the auxiliary territorial armies, commanding a centuria of (nominally) 100 men. The responsibilities of centurions were broadly similar to modern junior officers, but there was a wide gap in social status between them and officers, and relatively few were promoted beyond the rank of senior centurion. The Roman troops stationed in Judea were auxiliaries, who would normally be rewarded with Roman citizenship after 25 years of service. Some of the centurions throughout the region may have served originally in the Roman legions (regular army) and thus gained their citizenship at enlistment. Others may have inherited it, like the apostle Paul did (cf. Acts 22:28).
  5. Luke 7:2 tn The word “there” is not in the Greek text, but is implied.
  6. Luke 7:2 tn Though δοῦλος (doulos) is normally translated “servant,” the word does not bear the connotation of a free individual serving another. BDAG notes that “‘servant’ for ‘slave’ is largely confined to Biblical transl. and early American times…in normal usage at the present time the two words are carefully distinguished” (BDAG 260 s.v. 1). One good translation is “bondservant” (sometimes found in the ASV for δοῦλος) in that it often indicates one who sells himself into slavery to another. But as this is archaic, few today understand its force. Also, many slaves in the Roman world became slaves through Rome’s subjugation of conquered nations, kidnapping, or by being born into slave households. Later in this passage (v. 7) Luke uses the Greek term παῖς (pais), to refer to the centurion’s slave. This was a term often used of a slave who was regarded with some degree of affection, possibly a personal servant.
  7. Luke 7:2 tn The term ἔντιμος (entimos) could mean “highly valued,” but this sounds too much like the slave was seen as an asset, while the text suggests a genuine care for the person. More archaically, it could be said the centurion was fond of this slave.
  8. Luke 7:3 tn Grk “he”; the referent (the centurion) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
  9. Luke 7:3 tn The participle ἀκούσας (akousas) has been taken temporally.
  10. Luke 7:3 sn Why some Jewish elders are sent as emissaries is not entirely clear, but the centurion was probably respecting ethnic boundaries, which were important in ancient Greco-Roman and Jewish culture. The parallel account in Matt 8:5-13 does not mention the emissaries.
  11. Luke 7:3 tn The participle ἐλθών (elthōn) has been translated as an infinitive in parallel with διασώσῃ (diasōsē) due to requirements of contemporary English style.
  12. Luke 7:4 tn Here δέ (de) has not been translated.
  13. Luke 7:4 tn Although the participle παραγενόμενοι (paragenomenoi) is preceded by the Greek article (οἱ, hoi) which would normally cause it to be regarded as an adjectival or substantival participle, most modern translations, probably as a result of the necessities of contemporary English style, render it as a temporal participle (“when they came”).
  14. Luke 7:4 tn Or “implored.”
  15. Luke 7:4 tn Grk “urged him earnestly, saying”; the participle λέγοντες (legontes) is pleonastic (redundant) and has not been translated.
  16. Luke 7:4 tn Grk “Worthy is he to have you do this”; the term “worthy” comes first in the direct discourse and is emphatic.
  17. Luke 7:5 tn Or “people.” The use of ἔθνος (ethnos, “nation”) here instead of “God” probably meant the man was not a full proselyte, but that he had simply been supportive of the Jews and their culture. He could have been a God-fearer. The Romans saw a stable religious community as politically helpful and often supported it (Josephus, Ant. 16.6.2 [16.162-165], 19.6.3 [19.300-311]).
  18. Luke 7:5 tn In the Greek text, the pronoun αὐτός (autos) is included, making this emphatic. Naturally the force of this statement is causative, meaning the centurion either had the synagogue built or donated the cost of its construction.
  19. Luke 7:5 sn See the note on synagogues in 4:15.
  20. Luke 7:6 tn Here δέ (de) has been translated as “so” to indicate the resultative action.
  21. Luke 7:6 tn The participle ἀπέχοντος (apechontos) has been taken temporally.
  22. Luke 7:6 sn See the note on the word centurion in 7:2.
  23. Luke 7:6 tn Or “do not be bothered.”
  24. Luke 7:6 sn Note the humility in the centurion’s statement I am not worthy in light of what others think (as v. 4 notes). See Luke 5:8 for a similar example of humility.
  25. Luke 7:7 tn Or “roof; therefore.”
  26. Luke 7:7 tn Grk “I did not consider myself worthy to come to you.” See BDAG 94 s.v. ἀξιόω 1. “Presume” assumes this and expresses the idea in terms of offense.
  27. Luke 7:7 tc The aorist imperative ἰαθήτω (iathētō, “must be healed”) is found in P75vid B L 1241 sa. Most mss (א A C D W Θ Ψ ƒ1,13 33 M latt bo) have instead a future indicative, ἰαθήσεται (iathēsetai, “will be healed”). This is most likely an assimilation to Matt 8:8, and thus, as a motivated reading, should be considered secondary. The meaning either way is essentially the The aorist imperative may be translated as an imperative of command (“must be healed” or, more periphrastically, “command [my servant] to be healed”) or as a permissive imperative (“let my servant be healed”), which lessens the force of the imperative somewhat in English.
  28. Luke 7:8 tn Grk “having soldiers under me.”
  29. Luke 7:8 sn I say to this one,Go!and he goes. The illustrations highlight the view of authority the soldier sees in the word of one who has authority. Since the centurion was a commander of a hundred soldiers, he understood what it was both to command others and to be obeyed.
  30. Luke 7:8 tn The word “it” is not in the Greek text, but is implied. Direct objects were frequently omitted in Greek when clear from the context.
  31. Luke 7:9 tn Or “pleased with him and amazed.” The expanded translation brings out both Jesus’ sense of wonder at the deep insight of the soldier and the pleasure he had that he could present the man as an example of faith.
  32. Luke 7:9 sn There are two elements to the faith that Jesus commended: The man’s humility and his sense of Jesus’ authority which recognized that only Jesus’ word, not his physical presence, were required.
  33. Luke 7:10 tn Here καί (kai) has been translated as “so” to indicate the summarization at the end of the account.
  34. Luke 7:10 tc Most mss, especially later ones (A C [D] Θ Ψ ƒ13 33 M), have “the sick slave” here instead of “the slave.” This brings out the contrast of the healing more clearly, but this reading looks secondary both internally (scribes tended toward clarification) and externally (the shorter reading is well supported by a variety of witnesses: P75 א B L W ƒ1 579 700 892* 1241 2542 it co).