Bible Study Notes

Jesus' Authority Reiterated, Pt. 6, A Warning Against Approbation Lust, Pt. 2, Principles of Prayer and Levels of Punishment in Hell.

Luke Chapter 20
V. The Condemnation of the Son of Man for Men, Luke 19:28-24:49.
  B. Monday/Tuesday; Luke 19:45-21:38.
    5. Authority reiterated, Luke 20:41-21:4.
      b. Jesus warns about the Pharisees’ approbation lust, arrogance and abuse, vs. 45-47. This is paralleled in Mark 12:38-40, while Matthew 23:1-7, goes into greater detail.

Vs. 47
Luke 20:47, “Who devour widows’ houses, and for appearance’s sake offer long prayers. These will receive greater condemnation.”

Here we have the final two warnings from our Lord and a warning of ultimate condemnation.

5) “Who devour widows’ houses,” HOS, “who,” KATESTHIO, “consume, devour, eat up, or destroy,” HO OIKOS, “the houses” HO CHERA, “of widows.”

KATESTHIO, “consume, devour, eat up, or destroy,” is used in the parallel passages of Mat 23:14; Mark 12:40, the parable of the seed (Gospel) sown by the roadside that is devoured by the birds (fallen angels), Mat 13:4; Mark 4:4; Luke 8:5, the story of the Prodigal son, Luke 15:30, and for various other applications in John 2:17; 2 Cor 11:20; Gal 5:15; Rev 10:9-10; 11:5; 12:4; 20:9.

In our passage, and the parallel in Mark, it speaks to exploiting widows so that they take their money and material things in the disguise of offerings and tithes, or service to the church. This warning was added to our Lord’s “Woe,” warnings in Mat 23:13-33, as vs. 14, most likely because it was not used in the parallel of vs. 1-7.

It reminds us of the warning in 2 Tim 3:1-9, of self-loving pseudo-religious men who take advantage of “weak women,” for their own gain. And the condemnation of these types of actions by the prophet Isaiah, Isa 10:1-2.

Isa 10:1-2, “Woe to those who enact evil statutes and to those who constantly record unjust decisions, 2So as to deprive the needy of justice and rob the poor of My people of their rights, so that widows may be their spoil and that they may plunder the orphans.”

Therefore, this is a warning of the lust of money, where they use their power and position as “religious leaders,” to take advantage monetarily of widows; the helpless and vulnerable. Yet, our Lord commands us to be free from the “love of money,” Heb 13:5, especially religious leaders, 1 Tim 3:3, because “the love of money is the root of all sorts of evil,” according to 1 Tim 6:10a, “and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs,” 1 Tim 6:10b.

6) “For appearance’s sake offer long prayers,” which uses the Verb PROPHASIS, “motive, reason, excuse, alleged motive, or pretext,” Mat 23:14; Mark 12:40, also in John 15:22; Acts 27:30; Phil 1:18; 1 Thes 2:5. Used here in a negative sense, it means a mere “pretext” or “excuse” designed to cover up the actual mentality of their souls.

With this is the Adjective MAKROS, “long, distant, or far,” used in the parallels of Mat 23:14; Mark 12:40, and for the Prodigal son in Luke 15:13, as well as in Luke 19:12, for Jesus’ absence until His Second Advent, and Acts 2:39; Eph 2:13, 17, for the Gentile people who can receive the Gospel. Here, it is a modifier for the Verb PROSEUCHOMAI that means, “pray or prayer,” used extensively throughout the NT. Therefore, we have false longwinded prayers.

As such, this speaks to putting on the pretense of acting like you are a holy and religious person, when in reality you have no relationship with God. Apparently, these religious leaders would offer long drawn-out prayers in the presence of others, so as to look holy and righteous, yet they were far from it. Once again, we have the approbation lust of wanting people to think highly of them, so they would offer longwinded prayers trying to impress the people.

It is not our length of words that impresses God in our prayer life, but our faith behind our words no matter how brief or long. Paul was a faithful man who did not try to impress people, as noted in 1 Thes 2:5, “For we never came with flattering speech, as you know, nor with a pretext for greed—God is witness.”

Remember, our Lord gave us instruction on how to pray, (not what to pray), in Mat 6:1-15; Luke 11:2-4. Mat 6:5, 7, are particularly pertinent to our passage in Luke.

Mat 6:5, “When you pray, you are not to be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on the street corners so that they may be seen by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full.”

Mat 6:7, “And when you are praying, do not use meaningless repetition as the Gentiles do, for they suppose that they will be heard for their many words.”

Rather than making prayer a matter between an individual and God, the Pharisees had turned it into an act to be seen by men to demonstrate their supposed righteousness. Their prayers were directed not to God but to other men and consisted of long, repetitive phrases similar to the prayers the Gentiles used in their pagan religious worship.

Jesus condemned such practices. Prayer should be addressed to God the Father, who is unseen, cf. John 1:18; 1 Tim 1:17, and Who knows what you need, vs. 8. It is not “to be seen by men.” Because of the abuse by the Pharisees and Scribes, Jesus presented a model or template prayer for His disciples to follow. This prayer is commonly called “the Lord’s Prayer,” but it is actually “the disciples’ prayer,” and more poignantly, “the template for prayer.” This prayer, though not exhaustive in things to pray for, contains elements that are important for all praying. Unfortunately, this template prayer is falsely repeated verbatim by many Christians today, in direct opposition to how our Lord prefaced this prayer template in vs. 7. Nevertheless, we have a template for categories of things to pray for and to Whom, yet not what to pray.

1. Prayer is to begin with worship. God is addressed as Our Father in heaven. Worship is the essence of all prayer. In vs. 1-18, Jesus used the word “Father” 10 times! Only those who have true inner righteousness can address God in that way in worship.

2. Reverence is a second element of prayer, for God’s name is to be “hallowed,” HAGIAZO, “to make Holy, sanctified, consecrated, dedicated, purified, set apart, etc.” In the mentality of our soul, this is our attitude and thoughts regarding the One we are praying to.

3. The desire for God’s kingdom, “Your kingdom come,” is based on the assurance that God will fulfill all His covenant promises to His people, both OT saints and Church Age believers.

4. Prayer is to include the request that His will be accomplished today on earth, as it is being accomplished in heaven, that is, fully and willingly by His directive will, as opposed to permissively and overrulingly, (See the Doctrine of the Wills of God, Numbers 22).

5. Petition for personal needs such as daily food is also to be a part of prayer. “Daily” EPIOUSIOS, “daily, necessary for existence, for the following day or future,” which is used only here and the parallel of Luke 11:3, in the NT. We pray so the we have and give thanks for His logistical grace that is “sufficient for today.”

6. Prayer should include the confession of our sins for forgiveness experientially post-salvation. “Forgive us our debts,” uses the noun OPHEILEMA that means, “debt, something owed, one’s due, or sin.” It implies the sin we have committed against another that incurred a debt. Luke 11:3, simply uses HARMATIA, “sin, sinful deed, or sinfulness,” which makes plain the context of what we are to ask forgiveness for.

As we know from Scripture, all sin committed incurs a debt against God, cf. Psa 41:4; 51:4; Isa 42:24; Jer 3:25; Jer 8:14; 14:7; Dan 9:8, 11, etc. which is forgiven by the Cross of Jesus Christ both positionally for those that believe, Mat 9:2; 26:28; Eph 1:7, and because we continue to sin post-salvation, we also need to ask for experiential forgiveness to be cleansed, so that we can walk in the light of God and walk holy and righteous. Therefore, as the template prayer in Mat 6 and Luke 11, instructs us, post-conversion we are to remember the fact of our forgiveness positionally because of the Cross and confess our sins for experiential sanctification. We confess our sins to God the Father, 1 John 1:9; Psa 32:5; 38:18; Prov 28:13; Ex 34:7; Psa 32:1; 130:4, etc.

Psa 41:4, “As for me, I said, “O LORD, be gracious to me; heal my soul, for I have sinned against You.”

Psa 51:4, “Against You, You only, I have sinned and done what is evil in Your sight, so that You are justified when You speak and blameless when You judge.”

Psa 32:5, “I acknowledged my sin to You, and my iniquity I did not hide; I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the LORD”; and You forgave the guilt of my sin. Selah.”

Prov 28:13, “He who conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will find compassion.”

7. Our request for forgiveness of sins post-conversion implies that the petitioner has already forgiven those who had offended him. If we do not forgive others of the sin(s) they have committed against us, we are actually sinning and harboring the sin of unforgiveness. Therefore, though we confess all our other sins, we are still sinning by not forgiving others. Therefore, God does not hear or answer our prayer petition of our experiential forgiveness. This is why God commands us to forgive others of their sins towards us, just as He has forgiven us of our sins against Him, vs. 14-15.

8. Finally, believers recognize their spiritual weakness in prayer as they pray for deliverance from temptation to sin and from evil, cf. James 1:13-15.

James 1:13-15, “Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone. 14But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. 15Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death.”

In this portion, we are praying for the power of God to lead us to overcome the temptation to sin that emanates from our Old Sin Nature and the world, i.e., Satan’s cosmic system.

Therefore, in this list of six approbation lusts of the Scribes and Pharisees, Jesus told the people, and us today, to beware of these types of hypocrites, who put on the façade of holiness and righteousness, yet are ravenous wolves full of dead men’s bones on the inside, Mat 7:15; 23:27. It is the hypocrisy of these types, like the Scribes and Pharisees of His day, that Jesus warns against.

Mat 7:15, “Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves.”

Mat 23:27, “Woe to you, Scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which on the outside appear beautiful, but inside they are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness.”

We too, should not act with this type of hypocrisy and put on a show of religiosity in order to impress those around us because we lust for their attention and approbation. Instead, we are to act with honesty and integrity before God and man in all that we do, not allowing our sin nature to tempt us to sin in any of the forms of approbation lust.

For all six reasons above, Jesus stated in Matthew’s account in Mat 23:11-12, “But the greatest among you shall be your servant. 12Whoever exalts himself shall be humbled; and whoever humbles himself shall be exalted.” That is the proper motivation and attitude we should have in our daily conduct before God and among people, as Jesus demands that His followers portray the opposite lifestyle from that of the hypocritical Scribes and Pharisees.

Finally, Jesus warns of a “greater condemnation,” for these self-righteous hypocrites, as He states, “These will receive greater condemnation,” HOUTOS LAMBANO, in the Future, Middle Deponent, Indicative, with the Comparative Adjective PERISSOS that can mean, “extraordinary, profuse, abundant, over and above, superfluous, a more than sufficient amount, excessive, uncommon, etc.,” KRIMA, “judgment, decision, sentence, or condemnation.” He did not use the normal comparative MEGAS here. Instead, He used this more descriptive term to speak of the more severe judgment the hypocritical unbeliever will have in the eternal state, in both Luke’s and Mark’s account, and as it was added to Matthew’s.

We see in scripture that the false prophets, false teachers, will be judged in the eternal state, cf. 2 Peter 2:3; Jude 1:4; Rev 17:1.

2 Peter 2:3, “And in their greed they will exploit you with false words; their judgment from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep.”

Jude 1:4, “For certain persons have crept in unnoticed, those who were long beforehand marked out for this condemnation, ungodly persons who turn the grace of our God into licentiousness and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.”

Rev 17:1, “Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls came and spoke with me, saying, “Come here, I will show you the judgment of the great harlot who sits on many waters”.” Cf. Rev 18:20

How true the sentence of judgment that these who knew so much and did so little would receive the greater condemnation. While some sin out of ignorance, others have intimate knowledge of God’s Word, yet violate His statutes without a second thought. These will suffer the worst torment of all. This is in keeping with the teachings of Jesus elsewhere in the Gospels, as Luke gave an expanded discourse against the Scribes and Pharisees in Luke 11:43-52. Much of that material parallels Matthew 23. However, as we have noted here, Matthew 23, is in the same context as this short passage in Luke 20.

Therefore, in our verse, it indicates that there will be a more severe judgment on these hypocritical false teachers. This leads us to understanding that there are different levels of punishment in hell for the unbelievers.

Levels of punishment in Hell.

This doctrine / belief comes from two directions. The first is logical in that since there are different rewards for believers in heaven there must be different levels of punishment for those in Hell. James 1:12 is one of the verses that tells us of different rewards in heaven. The second direction is from various scriptures that emphasize punishment in Hell, Luke 20:45-47. Notice the last phrase of vs. 47.

“And while all the people were listening, He said to the disciples, “Beware of the scribes, who like to walk around in long robes, and love respectful greetings in the market places, and chief seats in the synagogues and places of honor at banquets, who devour widows’ houses, and for appearance’s sake offer long prayers. These will receive greater condemnation.””

This is also stated in Mark 12:40. Greater condemnation is viewed as greater levels of punishment in Hell. This doctrine has few scriptures for comparison. As such, many commentators skip over it and act like it is not even there. So there has not been a lot of discussion in theology about this topic.

As noted above, the Greek word for “condemnation” is the word KRIMA that is the basic/root word for “judgment.” With that is the unique comparative Adjective PERISSOS. Therefore, a greater/more extensive judgment is brought against these individuals.

Luke 10:10-16, is another passage that leads to the doctrine of greater judgment. In vs. 14, the word for judgment is KRISIS, which also means, “judgment, a decision made, or sentence.”

Therefore, because Israel was given so much of God and His Word, the principle of “to whom much is given, much is required,” has the tone here of greater condemnation because they were given so much and yet, rejected the true salvation by faith, by rejecting the Savior / Messiah / King when He presented Himself, Luke 12:47-48.

Luke 12:47-48, “And that slave who knew his master’s will and did not get ready or act in accord with his will, will receive many lashes, 48but the one who did not know it, and committed deeds worthy of a flogging, will receive but few. From everyone who has been given much, much will be required; and to whom they entrusted much, of him they will ask all the more.”