The Meaning of Luke 10:20 Explained

Luke 10:20

KJV: Notwithstanding in this rejoice not, that the spirits are subject unto you; but rather rejoice, because your names are written in heaven.

YLT: but, in this rejoice not, that the spirits are subjected to you, but rejoice rather that your names were written in the heavens.'

Darby: Yet in this rejoice not, that the spirits are subjected to you, but rejoice that your names are written in the heavens.

ASV: Nevertheless in this rejoice not, that the spirits are subject unto you; but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.

What does Luke 10:20 Mean?

Verse Meaning

As great as victory over injury and especially demons was, a greater cause for rejoicing was the Seventy"s assurance that God would reward them. God makes note of those who commit themselves to participating in His mission. Jesus" comparison helps all disciples keep His blessings in their proper perspective.
There appear to be several records that God keeps in heaven. There is the book of the living, namely, those who are presently alive on the earth ( Exodus 32:32-33; Deuteronomy 29:20; Psalm 69:28; Isaiah 4:3). There is also a book containing the names of the lost and their deeds ( Revelation 20:12). There is a book with the names of the elect in it ( Daniel 12:1; Revelation 13:8; Revelation 17:8; Revelation 20:15; Revelation 21:27). A fourth book evidently contains the names of faithful followers of the Lord ( Malachi 3:16; Philippians 4:3; Hebrews 12:23; Revelation 3:5). In view of the context it was apparently to this last record that Jesus referred here. Obviously God needs no literal ledgers to keep records in since He knows all. This is a figurative way of saying that He remembers.
This whole pericope deals with the joy that disciples who participate in God"s mission for them experience. The greatest and most fundamental reason for rejoicing for any disciple is his or her personal salvation. Yet there is additional joy for disciples who take part in God"s program and advance His will in the world. It involves seeing a preview of the final victory over the forces of evil (cf. Matthew 16:18). This joy more than compensates for the deprivations and rejection that discipleship entails. Non-participating disciples know nothing of this joy.

Context Summary

Luke 10:17-24 - The Sources Of Deepest Joy
How triumphant the return of the evangelist! With faces flushed with pride and hearts high with elation, they returned to the Master with their reports. What wisdom it is to talk our work over with Jesus! Even the demons were subject to His Name. He was not surprised. While He had been watching, bearing them up by His intercessions, He had seen an alteration take place in the unseen world. Satan had fallen, as though the work done by these humble men had turned the scale against him. Is it not so still? What we do is of eternal importance.
Then, "in that same hour" it seemed as though the flood-gates of the Savior's soul were flung open for very joy. He rejoiced that babe-like hearts might know the deep things of God; that all things were opened to Him in His humanity as in the ages before He became man; and that He was permitted to reveal the Father to those who loved and obeyed Him. It was for these, and for us, to know things hidden from prophets and kings. [source]

Chapter Summary: Luke 10

1  Jesus sends out at once seventy disciples to work miracles, and to preach;
13  pronounces a woe against certain cities
17  The seventy return with joy;
18  he shows them wherein to rejoice,
21  and thanks his Father for his grace;
23  magnifies the happy estate of his church;
25  teaches the lawyer how to attain eternal life,
30  and tells the parable of the good Samaritan;
38  reprimands Martha, and commends Mary her sister

Greek Commentary for Luke 10:20

Are written [ενγεγραπται]
Perfect passive indicative, state of completion, stand written, enrolled or engraved, from ενγραπω — engraphō common verb. “As citizens possessing the full privileges of the commonwealth” (Plummer). [source]

Reverse Greek Commentary Search for Luke 10:20

Philippians 4:3 Book of life []
The phrase occurs seven times in Revelation. Compare Luke 10:20; Hebrews 12:23, and see on Revelation 3:5. The figure is founded on the register of the covenant people. Isaiah 4:3; Ezekiel 13:9; Exodus 32:32; Psalm 69:28; Daniel 12:1. The phrase was also used by the Rabbins. Thus in the Targum on Ezekiel 13:9: “In the book of eternal life which has been written for the just of the house of Israel, they shall not be written.” God is described as “the king, sitting upon the judgment-seat, with the books of the living and the books of the dead open before Him.” [source]
Hebrews 12:23 Which are written in heaven [ἀπογεγραμμένων ἐν οὐρανοῖς]
Ἁπογράφειν , only here and Luke 2:1, Luke 2:3, Luke 2:5, means to write off or copy; to enter in a register the names, property, and income of men. Hence, ἀπογραφή anenrollment. See on Luke 2:1, Luke 2:2. Here, inscribed as members of the heavenly commonwealth; citizens of heaven; Philemon 4:3; Revelation 3:5; Revelation 13:8, etc. See for the image, Exodus 32:32; Psalm 69:28; Isaiah 4:3; Daniel 12:1; Luke 10:20. [source]
Hebrews 12:23 To the general assembly [πανηγυρει]
Old word (from πας — pas and αγυρισ αγειρω — aguris class="normal greek">Πανηγυριζω — ageirō). Here only in N.T. αγγελων — Panēgurizō occurs in Isaiah 66:10 for keeping a festal holiday. Possibly to be connected with εκκλησιαι πρωτοτοκων — aggelōn though not certain. Church of the firstborn (εκκλησια — ekklēsiāi prōtotokōn). Probably an additional item besides the angelic host as the people of Israel are called firstborn (Exodus 4:22). The word απογεγραμμενων εν ουρανοις — ekklēsia here has the general sense of all the redeemed, as in Matthew 16:18; Colossians 1:18; Ephesians 5:24-32, and equivalent to the kingdom of God. Who are enrolled in heaven (απογραπω — apogegrammenōn en ouranois). Perfect passive participle of κριτηι τεωι παντων — apographō old verb to write off, to copy, to enroll as in Luke 2:1, Luke 2:3, Luke 2:5 (only N.T. examples). Enrolled as citizens of heaven even while on earth (Luke 10:20; Philemon 1:27; Philemon 3:20; Philemon 4:3; Revelation 13:8, etc.). To God the Judge of all (τετελειωμενων — kritēi theōi pantōn). All these chief substantives in the dative case. People should not forget that God is the Judge of all men. Made perfect (τελειοω — teteleiōmenōn). Perfect passive participle of teleioō perfected at last (Hebrews 11:40). [source]
Revelation 3:5 Book of life []
Lit., the book of the life. For the figure, see Exodus 32:32; Psalm 69:28; Daniel 12:1; Philemon 4:3. Compare Luke 10:20; Hebrews 12:23. [source]
Revelation 3:5 In white garments [εν ιματιοις λευκοις]
Apparently the spiritual bodies in the risen life as in 2 Corinthians 5:1, 2 Corinthians 5:4 and often in Revelation (Revelation 3:4, Revelation 3:5; Revelation 6:11; Revelation 7:9, Revelation 7:13.; Revelation 19:8).I will in no wise blot out (ου μη εχαλειπσω — ou mē exaleipsō). Strong double negative ου μη — ou mē and the first aorist active (or future) of εχαλειπω — exaleiphō old word, to wipe out (Acts 3:19).Of the book of life Ablative case with εκ — ek This divine register first occurs in Exodus 32:32. and often in the O.T. See Luke 10:20; Philemon 4:3; Revelation 13:8; Revelation 20:15; Revelation 21:27. The book is in Christ‘s hands (Revelation 13:8; Revelation 21:27).His name (το ονομα αυτου — to onoma autou). The name of the one who overcomes (ο νικων — ho nikōn). Clear reminiscence of the words of Christ about confessing to the Father those who confess him here (Matthew 10:32; Mark 8:38; Luke 9:26; Luke 12:8). Whether John knew the Synoptic Gospels (and why not?) he certainly knew such sayings of Jesus. [source]
Revelation 3:5 Of the book of life [εκ της βιβλου της ζωης]
Ablative case with εκ — ek This divine register first occurs in Exodus 32:32. and often in the O.T. See Luke 10:20; Philemon 4:3; Revelation 13:8; Revelation 20:15; Revelation 21:27. The book is in Christ‘s hands (Revelation 13:8; Revelation 21:27).His name (το ονομα αυτου — to onoma autou). The name of the one who overcomes (ο νικων — ho nikōn). Clear reminiscence of the words of Christ about confessing to the Father those who confess him here (Matthew 10:32; Mark 8:38; Luke 9:26; Luke 12:8). Whether John knew the Synoptic Gospels (and why not?) he certainly knew such sayings of Jesus. [source]

What do the individual words in Luke 10:20 mean?

Yet in this not rejoice that the spirits to you are subjected however names of you are written the heavens
πλὴν ἐν τούτῳ μὴ χαίρετε ὅτι τὰ πνεύματα ὑμῖν ὑποτάσσεται δὲ ὀνόματα ὑμῶν ἐνγέγραπται τοῖς οὐρανοῖς

πλὴν  Yet 
Parse: Conjunction
Root: πλήν  
Sense: moreover, besides, but, nevertheless.
τούτῳ  this 
Parse: Demonstrative Pronoun, Dative Neuter Singular
Root: οὗτος  
Sense: this.
χαίρετε  rejoice 
Parse: Verb, Present Imperative Active, 2nd Person Plural
Root: χαίρω  
Sense: to rejoice, be glad.
ὅτι  that 
Parse: Conjunction
Root: ὅτι  
Sense: that, because, since.
πνεύματα  spirits 
Parse: Noun, Nominative Neuter Plural
Root: πνεῦμα  
Sense: a movement of air (a gentle blast.
ὑμῖν  to  you 
Parse: Personal / Possessive Pronoun, Dative 2nd Person Plural
Root: σύ  
Sense: you.
ὑποτάσσεται  are  subjected 
Parse: Verb, Present Indicative Middle or Passive, 3rd Person Singular
Root: ὑποτάσσω  
Sense: to arrange under, to subordinate.
δὲ  however 
Parse: Conjunction
Root: δέ  
Sense: but, moreover, and, etc.
ὀνόματα  names 
Parse: Noun, Nominative Neuter Plural
Root: ὄνομα  
Sense: name: univ.
ὑμῶν  of  you 
Parse: Personal / Possessive Pronoun, Genitive 2nd Person Plural
Root: σύ  
Sense: you.
ἐνγέγραπται  are  written 
Parse: Verb, Perfect Indicative Middle or Passive, 3rd Person Singular
Root: ἐγγράφω  
Sense: to engrave, inscribe, write in or on.
οὐρανοῖς  heavens 
Parse: Noun, Dative Masculine Plural
Root: οὐρανός  
Sense: the vaulted expanse of the sky with all things visible in it.