The Meaning of Luke 13:4 Explained

Luke 13:4

KJV: Or those eighteen, upon whom the tower in Siloam fell, and slew them, think ye that they were sinners above all men that dwelt in Jerusalem?

YLT: 'Or those eighteen, on whom the tower in Siloam fell, and killed them; think ye that these became debtors beyond all men who are dwelling in Jerusalem?

Darby: Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them, think ye that they were debtors beyond all the men who dwell in Jerusalem?

ASV: Or those eighteen, upon whom the tower in Siloam fell, and killed them, think ye that they were offenders above all the men that dwell in Jerusalem?

KJV Reverse Interlinear

Or  those  eighteen,  upon  whom  the tower  in  Siloam  fell,  and  slew  them,  think ye  that  they  were  sinners  above  all  men  that dwelt  in  Jerusalem? 

What does Luke 13:4 Mean?

Context Summary

Luke 13:1-9 - Both Repentance And Fruitfulness Required
Our Lord did not hesitate to hang great lessons on passing events. It is a great art to lead men's thoughts from the outward and transient to the unseen and eternal. God often gives us texts in the happenings of His providence, and when men's hearts are awed and softened there is a conspicuous opportunity for striking home.
We have no right to suppose that sudden disasters prove the presence of special sin in those who are involved in them. Sin is avenged in this life, but rather in the natural sequences than by some sudden "act of God." Accidents are not necessarily punishments, and we who witness the sad fate of others have no right to congratulate ourselves on our moral or spiritual superiority. Instead of judging others, let us look to ourselves and repent.
The parable of the fig-tree, with its three years of effort to secure fruitfulness, was intended primarily for the Jewish nation favored with our Lord's three years of ministry. But it is of universal application. God is always seeking fruit; love is ever pleading, but sometimes may have to acquiesce in judgment. [source]

Chapter Summary: Luke 13

1  Jesus preaches repentance upon the punishment of the Galilaeans and others
6  The fruitless fig tree may not stand
10  He heals the crooked woman;
18  shows the powerful working of the word, by the parable of the grain of mustard seed,
20  and of leaven;
22  exhorts to enter in at the strait gate;
31  and reproves Herod and Jerusalem

Greek Commentary for Luke 13:4

The tower in Siloam [ο πυργος εν Σιλωαμ]
Few sites have been more clearly located than this. Jesus mentions this accident (only in Luke) of his own accord to illustrate still further the responsibility of his hearers. Jesus makes use of public events in both these incidents to teach spiritual lessons. He gives the “moral” to the massacre of the Galilean pilgrims and the “moral” of the catastrophe at Siloam. [source]
Offenders [οπειλεται]
Literally, debtors, not sinners as in Luke 13:2 and as the Authorized Version renders here. See note on Luke 7:41; Luke 11:4; Matthew 6:12; Matthew 18:24-34. [source]
debtors []
, not sinners as in Luke 13:2 and as the Authorized Version renders here. See note on Luke 7:41; Luke 11:4; Matthew 6:12; Matthew 18:24-34. [source]
Sinners [ὀφειλέται]
Lit., debtors. Possibly with reference to the figure at the close of the last chapter. Compare Matthew 5:25; Matthew 6:12; Matthew 18:24; Luke 11:4. [source]

Reverse Greek Commentary Search for Luke 13:4

Luke 14:28 Build a tower [πυργον οικοδομησαι]
A common metaphor, either a tower in the city wall like that by the Pool of Siloam (Luke 13:4) or a watchtower in a vineyard (Matthew 21:33) or a tower-shaped building for refuge or ornament as here. This parable of the rash builder has the lesson of counting the cost. [source]
Acts 2:5 Were dwelling [ησαν κατοικουντες]
Periphrastic imperfect active indicative. Usually κατοικεω — katoikeō means residence in a place (Acts 4:16; Acts 7:24; Acts 9:22, Acts 9:32) as in Acts 2:14 (Luke 13:4). Perhaps some had come to Jerusalem to live while others were here only temporarily, for the same word occurs in Acts 2:9 of those who dwell in Mesopotamia, etc. [source]
Galatians 5:3 A debtor [ὀφειλέτης]
In N.T. mostly of one under moral obligation. So in the sense of sinner, Matthew 6:12; Luke 13:4. Comp. Romans 1:14; Romans 8:12. Similarly the verb ὀφείλειν toowe, as Luke 11:4; Luke 17:10; Romans 15:1, etc., though it is frequent in the literal sense. [source]

What do the individual words in Luke 13:4 mean?

Or those - ten [and] eight on whom fell the tower in - Siloam and killed them think you that these debtors were beyond all the men - dwelling in Jerusalem
ἐκεῖνοι οἱ δέκα‿ οκτὼ ἐφ’ οὓς ἔπεσεν πύργος ἐν τῷ Σιλωὰμ καὶ ἀπέκτεινεν αὐτούς δοκεῖτε ὅτι αὐτοὶ ὀφειλέται ἐγένοντο παρὰ πάντας τοὺς ἀνθρώπους τοὺς κατοικοῦντας Ἰερουσαλήμ

ἐκεῖνοι  those 
Parse: Demonstrative Pronoun, Nominative Masculine Plural
Root: ἐκεῖνος  
Sense: he, she it, etc.
οἱ  - 
Parse: Article, Nominative Masculine Plural
Sense: this, that, these, etc.
δέκα‿  ten  [and] 
Parse: Adjective
Root: δέκα 
Sense: ten.
οκτὼ  eight 
Parse: Adjective
Root: ὀκτώ  
Sense: eight.
οὓς  whom 
Parse: Personal / Relative Pronoun, Accusative Masculine Plural
Root: ὅς 
Sense: who, which, what, that.
ἔπεσεν  fell 
Parse: Verb, Aorist Indicative Active, 3rd Person Singular
Root: πίπτω 
Sense: to descend from a higher place to a lower.
πύργος  tower 
Parse: Noun, Nominative Masculine Singular
Root: πύργος  
Sense: a tower.
τῷ  - 
Parse: Article, Dative Masculine Singular
Sense: this, that, these, etc.
Σιλωὰμ  Siloam 
Parse: Noun, Dative Masculine Singular
Root: Σιλωάμ  
Sense: the Pool of Siloam, a fountain of water in Jerusalem, also called Shiloah in Isa.
ἀπέκτεινεν  killed 
Parse: Verb, Aorist Indicative Active, 3rd Person Singular
Root: ἀποκτείνω 
Sense: to kill in any way whatever.
δοκεῖτε  think  you 
Parse: Verb, Present Indicative Active, 2nd Person Plural
Root: δοκέω  
Sense: to be of opinion, think, suppose.
ὅτι  that 
Parse: Conjunction
Root: ὅτι  
Sense: that, because, since.
αὐτοὶ  these 
Parse: Personal / Possessive Pronoun, Nominative Masculine 3rd Person Plural
Root: αὐτός  
Sense: himself, herself, themselves, itself.
ὀφειλέται  debtors 
Parse: Noun, Nominative Masculine Plural
Root: ὀφειλέτης  
Sense: one who owes another, a debtor.
παρὰ  beyond 
Parse: Preposition
Root: παρά  
Sense: from, of at, by, besides, near.
ἀνθρώπους  men 
Parse: Noun, Accusative Masculine Plural
Root: ἄνθρωπος  
Sense: a human being, whether male or female.
τοὺς  - 
Parse: Article, Accusative Masculine Plural
Sense: this, that, these, etc.
κατοικοῦντας  dwelling 
Parse: Verb, Present Participle Active, Accusative Masculine Plural
Root: κατοικέω 
Sense: to dwell, settle.
Ἰερουσαλήμ  in  Jerusalem 
Parse: Noun, Accusative Feminine Singular
Root: Ἰερουσαλήμ  
Sense: denotes either the city itself or the inhabitants.