May 01, 2020 – Friday
Luke 18:18-19 NIV
18 A certain ruler asked him, “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
19 “Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good—except God alone.”
This is departure from looking at persecution is a result of Thursday evening’s Bible study. We were looking at Luke 18:18-30. It is a discussion between Jesus and a young rich ruler. The account is found in all three synoptic gospels. Of the three, Mark is my favorite because it tells us in Mark 10:21 Jesus looked at him and loved him just before He gave His answer to the young man.
However last night much of the discussion centered on the word good where they young rich ruler said to Jesus Good teacher followed by Jesus reply with a question and a statement Why do you call me good? and No one is good—except God alone. Frankly, I thought I was well prepared for the study having been through the three accounts three or more times each. Plus I read through and made notes from a commentary I had never used before, John MacArthur’s Bible Commentary.
Didn’t matter as I was blown away with what Phil Tice brought to the study about the word good from the Greek agathos (G18). Phil spoke of how the use of the word good in the exchange at that time was something reserved for God. Understand Phil loves language and has taught both French and Latin and to this day his love of language shows through in all the Bible studies he participates in. In this particular case I was fascinated as I had never considered anything really unusual about the usage of the word good.
So the next morning I began my own search. Found the word agathos through the BlueLetterBible.com and its links to Strong’s Definitions, Vine’s Expository Dictionary, and Thayer’s Greek Lexicon and there found nothing even close to the discussion last night. So then I went to BibleHub.com and looked at the various commentaries there and once again found nothing. Scratching my head, I decided to try David Guzik’s commentary at EnduringWord.com as well as Peter Pett’s commentary at studylight.org/commentaries and struck gold at both sources.
Guzik noted when Jesus was addressed as Good Teacher that This was an impressive and perhaps surprising way to address Jesus. “Good Teacher” was a title never applied to other rabbis in Jesus’ day, because it implied being without sin and complete goodness. Jesus, and everyone else, recognized that Good Teacher was a unique title. “There is no instance in the whole Talmud of a rabbi being addressed as ‘Good Master’” (Plummer, cited in Geldenhuys). They insisted on calling God alone “good.” It was a title never applied to other rabbis in Jesus’ day! The writers of the synoptic gospels would known this, but many (myself included) would miss this entirely 20 centuries later. (boldface in the original)
Then Guzik had this to say about Jesus’ reply: Why do you call Me good? In this, Jesus did not deny His own goodness. Instead, He asked the man, “Do you understand what you are saying when you call Me good? Because no one is good but One, that is, God.” It was as if Jesus said, “You come to Me asking about what good thing you can do to inherit eternal life; but what do you really know about goodness?” “The argument is clear: either Jesus was good, or he ought not to have called him good; but as there is none good but God, Jesus who is good must be God.” (Spurgeon) (boldface in the original)
Pett noted about the young man’s use of the word good: The adjective ‘good’ was usually retained for speaking about God, although there are a number of examples in the Old Testament of men being called ‘good’. Never, however, as having been addressed as such. So either this man was very discerning, or he was using flattery. Or perhaps he was simply impressed by Jesus’ pure goodness which shone out from Him in a way that made Him different from all others, and thus could not help what he said.
Then in reference to Jesus reply to the young man Pett says Jesus challenges his use of ‘good’ in this way, asking him to consider what he means by it. He does not deny that it is true, but points out that its usual usage at that time was as something reserved to God. The question therefore is as to whether the man has used it carelessly, or whether he intends by it some deeper meaning. However else we interpret it, Jesus was clearly intending to make the young man think, not repudiating the idea out of hand. He in no way denies its application to Himself. Had He not acknowledged its justice He would have rejected it out of hand, openly and clearly, reacting in horror. But the question that He was asking was, does the man himself realise what he is saying?
There’s more, but I will leave it up to you, if your curiosity has been whetted enough, to try out the links
provided for both Guzik and Pett. If so you will enjoy discovering what they have to offer. A hat tip once
again to Phil Tice and appreciation for his love of language as well as his desire to share what he discovers.
May you, on this weekend, find out even more of what God’s Word has to offer as you return to church this weekend.
Riley D. Driver-Pastor
Calvary Chapel of Dayton