18:18 Now 1 a certain ruler 2 asked him, “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 3 18:19 Jesus 4 said to him, “Why do you call me good? 5 No one is good except God alone. 18:20 You know the commandments: ‘Do not commit adultery, do not murder, do not steal, do not give false testimony, honor your father and mother.’” 6 18:21 The man 7 replied, “I have wholeheartedly obeyed 8 all these laws 9 since my youth.” 10 18:22 When Jesus heard this, he said to him, “One thing you still lack. Sell all that you have 11 and give the money 12 to the poor, 13 and you will have treasure 14 in heaven. Then 15 come, follow me.” 18:23 But when the man 16 heard this he became very sad, 17 for he was extremely wealthy. 18:24 When Jesus noticed this, 18 he said, “How hard 19 it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God! 20 18:25 In fact, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle 21 than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.” 18:26 Those who heard this said, “Then 22 who can be saved?” 23 18:27 He replied, “What is impossible 24 for mere humans 25 is possible for God.”
[18:18] 2 sn Only Luke states this man is a ruler (cf. the parallels in Matt 19:16-22 and Mark 10:17-22, where the questioner is described only as “someone”). He is probably a civic leader of some kind, a leader in the society.
[18:18] 3 sn The rich man wanted to know what he must do to inherit eternal life, but Jesus had just finished teaching that eternal life was not earned but simply received (18:17). See the similar question about inheriting eternal life in Luke 10:25.
[18:19] 5 sn Jesus’ response, Why do you call me good?, was designed to cause the ruler to stop and think for a moment about who Jesus really was. The following statement No one is good except God alone seems to point the man in the direction of Jesus’ essential nature and the demands which logically follow on the man for having said it.
[18:21] 7 tn Grk “And he”; the referent (the ruler mentioned in v. 18) has been specified in the translation for clarity. Here καί (kai) has not been translated because of differences between Greek and English style.
[18:21] 8 tn Grk “kept.” The implication of this verb is that the man has obeyed the commandments without fail throughout his life, so the adverb “wholeheartedly” has been added to the translation to bring out this nuance.
[18:21] sn While the rich man was probably being sincere when he insisted I have wholeheartedly obeyed all these laws, he had confined his righteousness to external obedience. The rich man’s response to Jesus’ command to give away all he had revealed that internally he loved money more than God.
[18:22] 14 sn The call for sacrifice comes with a promise of eternal reward: …you will have treasure in heaven. Jesus’ call is a test to see how responsive the man is to God’s direction through him. Will he walk the path God’s agent calls him to walk? For a rich person who got it right, see Zacchaeus in Luke 19:1-10.
[18:24] 18 tc ‡ The phrase περίλυπον γενόμενον (perilupon genomenon, “[When Jesus saw him] becoming sad”) is found in the majority of
[18:24] tn Grk “him.”
[18:24] 19 sn For the rich it is hard for wealth not to be the point of focus, as the contrast in vv. 28-30 will show, and for rich people to trust God. Wealth was not an automatic sign of blessing as far as Jesus was concerned.
[18:25] 21 sn The eye of a needle refers to a sewing needle, one of the smallest items one might deal with on a regular basis, in contrast to the biggest animal of the region. (The gate in Jerusalem known as “The Needle’s Eye” was built during the middle ages and was not in existence in Jesus’ day.) Jesus is saying rhetorically that this is impossible, unless God (v. 27) intervenes.
[18:27] 25 tn The plural Greek term ἄνθρωποις (anqrwpois) is used here in a generic sense, referring to both men and women (cf. NASB 1995 update, “people”). Because of the contrast here between mere mortals and God (“impossible for men…possible for God”) the phrase “mere humans” has been used in the translation.