Honor: reflection

weddingfeastredhouseAlan Culpepper [287-88] offers these final thoughts:

These are liberating words that can free us from the necessity of succeeding in our culture’s contests of power and esteem. They free us from over-under relationships and the attitudes and barriers they create, so that we may be free to create human community and enjoy the security of God’s grace.

This commentary on ancient meal practices and social stratification makes two points. First, one should cultivate and practice humility, if only because it is a prudent means of avoiding embarrassment. The eschatological application at the end of each of the two sections drives home a deeper meaning. Although the practice of humility is proper and prudent for disciples, the kingdom of God will bring about an even more revolutionary reversal. The very standards and practices of discrimination will be overthrown. The outcasts will be accepted as equals. Those who live by kingdom standards and values now will not only bear witness to the kingdom but also will be rewarded in “the resurrection of the righteous” (v. 14). Righteousness, not social position or the esteem of others, should be our goal. God does not look on the glitter of our guest list. Instead, God looks to see that we have practiced the generosity and inclusiveness of the kingdom in our daily social relationships. One standard offers the reward of social position, the other the reward of God’s favor.

The distinctiveness of Jesus’ vision of the kingdom was nowhere clearer than in his protest against discriminatory meal practices. Jesus and the Pharisees ate differently. For Jesus, meals were times of celebration and an inclusive fellowship that foreshadowed the inclusiveness of God’s kingdom. The last supper, therefore, not only pointed ahead to the eschatological banquet, but also it reflected on Jesus’ meals with the disciples, Pharisees, crowds, and outcasts in Galilee. The greatest crisis the early church faced, moreover, was not the delay of the parousia but the burning issue of whom one ate with (see Acts 10:9–16, 28; 15:19–20; Gal 2:11–14). Perhaps it is time we learned new table manners.


Luke 14:7 invited: Besides the image of a meal, Luke 14 is interconnected by the word kaleo (“to invite”) which occurs 10 times in vv 7-24. Paul uses the same word in terms of being called by God (see Rom 8:30; 1 Cor 1:9; Gal 1:6, 15; Eph 4, 4).

places of honor at the table: (prōtoklisia) At banquets the basic item of furniture was the couch for three, the triclinium. A number of triclinia were arranged in a U-shape round a low table. Guests reclined on their left elbows. The place of highest honor was the central position on the couch at the base of the U. The second and third places were those on the left of the principal man and on his right. After this there seems to have ranked the couch to the left (with the places as on the first couch), then that to the right of the first and so on. That there was variety of arrangements is probable, later Jewish writings speak specifically to this arrangement.

Luke 14:9 Give your place: Jesus’ saying alludes to Ezek. 21:26, a text in which Yahweh castigates the “wicked prince of Israel” whose time of final punishment has come (21:25). In this midst of God’s acknowledgement of the “humble,” we should not lose sight of that He judges those who seek honorable status.

Luke 14:11 For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted: The allusion to the OT and Jewish texts in Luke 14:11 indicates that the assertion in v. 10 needs to be seen in a larger, eschatological perspective.  The source of honor (doxa v.10)  in God’s kingdom is derived not from the social order described by affluent friends, siblings, relatives, or rich neighbors (cf. 14:12), but from the judgment of God who loves the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind (cf. 14:13). Jesus emphasizes that God implements new values in his kingdom, values that differ from those that control the contemporary social world. The text asserts that the only reward one needs comes from God who is unimpressed with such social credentials as govern social relations in Luke’s world.  God acknowledges as guests in his kingdom only those who acknowledge their own poverty.


  • Allen Culpepper Luke, vol. 9 in New Interpreter’s Bible Commentary (Nashville, TN.: Abington, 1995) 286-88
  • Joel Green, The Gospel of Luke, vol. 3 of The New International Commentary on the New Testament, ed. Gorden Fee (Grand Rapids, Mich.: W.B. Eerdmans, 1997)
  • Luke Timothy Johnson, The Gospel of Luke, vol. 3 of Sacra Pagina, ed. Daniel J. Harrington (Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 1991) pp. 215-9
  • Jerome Kodell, “Luke” in The Collegeville Bible Commentary, eds. Diane Bergant and Robert J. Karris (Collegeville, Minn.: Liturgical Press, 1989) p.962
  • Leon Morris,. Luke: An introduction and commentary. Tyndale New Testament Commentaries Vol. 3: (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1988) pp. 249-50
  • K. Beale and D. A. Carson, Commentary on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament (Grand Rapids, MI; Nottingham, UK: Baker Academic; Apollos, 2007) pp.339-40
  • Brian Stoffregen, “Brian P. Stoffregen Exegetical Notes” at www.crossmarks.com


  • Gerhard Kittel, Gerhard Friedrich and Geoffrey William. Bromiley, Theological Dictionary of the New Testament (Grand Rapids, Mich.: W.B. Eerdmans, 1995, c1985) – Grundmann, tapeinós VIII, 1-26
  • Horst Robert. Balz and Gerhard Schneider, Exegetical Dictionary of the New Testament (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 1990) – Giesen, tapeinoō , 3:334-335.

Scripture quotes from New American Bible by Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Inc., Washington, DC.

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