The Meaning of Luke 19:2 Explained

Luke 19:2

KJV: And, behold, there was a man named Zacchaeus, which was the chief among the publicans, and he was rich.

YLT: and lo, a man, by name called Zaccheus, and he was a chief tax-gatherer, and he was rich,

Darby: And behold, there was a man by name called Zacchaeus, and he was chief tax-gatherer, and he was rich.

ASV: And behold, a man called by name Zacchaeus; and he was a chief publican, and he was rich.

KJV Reverse Interlinear

And,  behold,  [there was] a man  named  Zacchaeus,  which  was  the chief among the publicans,  and  he  was  rich. 

What does Luke 19:2 Mean?

Verse Meaning

Luke underlined Zaccheus" occupation and wealth, two things that Jesus had taught His disciple about earlier. Tax collectors represented social outcasts, but they typically responded positively to Jesus" ministry. Zaccheus ("the just" or "pure") was a chief tax collector (Gr. architelones), which probably made him the object of special hatred in Jericho. The wealth that he had accumulated through his occupation probably made his neighbors hate him even more. They probably ridiculed him for his name too. It is an abbreviated form of Zechariah , and means "the righteous one." Tax collectors normally became wealthy by extorting more taxes from their fellow Jews than those that the Jews owed Rome. Jericho would have been a main tax-gathering site since many people who approached Jerusalem and Judea from the east passed through it. Rich people typically did not respond positively to Jesus" ministry. How will Zaccheus respond, as a typical tax collector or as a typical rich man?

Context Summary

Luke 19:1-10 - The Sinner And His Guest
For long, we may suppose, the better things had been striving against the worse in this man's character. John the Baptist had wielded great influence over Zaccheus' class and perhaps over himself. Zaccheus was a dissatisfied man. His dishonest acquisitions added to his wealth but subtracted from his peace of mind. He knew that the least he could do would be to repay those whom he had robbed. But his soul required more, and longed for salvation, such as only Jesus Christ could give.
The Lord knew this, and therefore halted beneath the tree and invited Himself as a guest to the publican's home. The one man in all Jericho who most needed the Savior was discovered by Him and saved. The grace of God is ever in search of those who have gone as far as their light will carry them.
What a blessing it is that the Lord is willing to be our guest! See that He is welcomed to the guestroom of your heart. Stand to serve Him. He brings salvation for you and yours. [source]

Chapter Summary: Luke 19

1  Of Zacchaeus a tax collector
11  The ten minas
28  Jesus rides into Jerusalem with triumph;
41  weeps over it;
45  drives the buyers and sellers out of the temple;
47  Teaching daily in it The rulers seek to destroy him, but fear the people

Greek Commentary for Luke 19:2

Chief publican [αρχιτελωνης]
The word occurs nowhere else apparently but the meaning is clear from the other words with αρχι — archi - like αρχιερευς — archiereus (chief priest) αρχιποιμην — archipoimēn (chief shepherd). Jericho was an important trading point for balsam and other things and so Zacchaeus was the head of the tax collections in this region, a sort of commissioner of taxes who probably had other publicans serving under him. [source]
Named [ὀνόματι καλούμενος]
Lit., called by name. Compare Luke 1:61. [source]
Zacchaeus []
Saccai, “the just.” [source]

Reverse Greek Commentary Search for Luke 19:2

Matthew 25:24 Hard [σεκληρὸς]
Stronger than the austere ( αὐστηρός ) of Luke 19:21 (see there), which is sometimes used in a good sense, as this never is. It is an epithet given to a surface which is at once dry and hard. [source]
Matthew 21:1 Unto Bethphage [εις ετπαγη]
An indeclinable Aramaic name here only in O.T. or N.T. (Mark 11:1; Luke 19:29). It means “house of unripe young figs.” It apparently lay on the eastern slope of Olivet or at the foot of the mountain, a little further from Jerusalem than Bethany. Both Mark and Luke speak of Christ‘s coming “unto Bethphage and Bethany” as if Bethphage was reached first. It is apparently larger than Bethany. [source]
Matthew 25:24 I knew thee [γινωσκω]
Second aorist active indicative. Experimental knowledge Harsh, stern, rough man, worse than οτεν ου διεσκορπισας — austēros in Luke 19:21, grasping and ungenerous.Where thou didst not scatter (hothen ou dieskorpisas). But this scattering was the chaff from which wheat was winnowed, not the scattering of seed. [source]
Mark 11:1 Unto Bethphage and Bethany [εις ητπαγη και ητανιαν]
Both together as in Luke 19:29, though Matthew 21:1 mentions only Bethphage. See discussion in Matthew for this and the Mount of Olives. [source]
John 20:7 Napkin [σουδάριον]
See on Luke 19:20. [source]
John 2:15 Tables []
Wyc., turned upside down the boards. See on Luke 19:23. [source]
John 11:44 A napkin [σουδαρι.ῳ]
See on Luke 19:20. It is interesting to compare this Gospel picture of sisterly affection under the shadow of death, with the same sentiment as exhibited in Greek tragedy, especially in Sophocles, by whom it is developed with wonderful power, both in the “Antigone” and in the “Electra.”-DIVIDER-
In the former, Antigone, the consummate female figure of the Greek drama, falls a victim to her love for her dead brother. Both here, and in the “Electra,” sisterly love is complicated with another and sterner sentiment: in the “Antigone” with indignant defiance of the edict which refuses burial to her brother; in the “Electra” with the long-cherished craving for vengeance. Electra longs for her absent brother Orestes, as the minister of retribution rather than as the solace of loneliness and sorrow. His supposed death is to her, therefore, chiefly the defeat of the passionate, deadly purpose of her whole life. Antigone lives for her kindred, and is sustained under her own sad fate by the hope of rejoining them in the next world. She believes in the permanence of personal existence.“And yet I go and feed myself with hopesThat I shall meet them, by my father loved, Dear to my mother, well-beloved of thee,Thou darling brother” (897-900).And again,“Loved, I shall be with him whom I have lovedGuilty of holiest crime. More time is mine In which to share the favor of the dead,-DIVIDER-
Than that of those who live; for I shall restForever there” (73-76).No such hope illuminates the grief of Electra.“Ah, Orestes!Dear brother, in thy death thou slayest me; For thou art gone, bereaving my poor heart-DIVIDER-
Of all the little hope that yet remained-DIVIDER-
That thou wouldst come, a living ministerOf vengeance for thy father and for me” (807-812).And again,“If thou suggestest any hope from thoseSo clearly gone to Hades, then on me,Wasting with sorrow, thou wilt trample more” (832-834).When she is asked,“What! shall I ever bring the dead to life?”she replies,“I meant not that: I am not quite so mad.”In the household of Bethany, the grief of the two sisters, unlike that of the Greek maidens, is unmixed with any other sentiment, save perhaps a tinge of a feeling bordering on reproach that Jesus had not been there to avert their calamity. Comfort from the hope of reunion with the dead is not expressed by them, and is hardly implied in their assertion of the doctrine of a future resurrection, which to them, is a general matter having little or no bearing on their personal grief. In this particular, so far as expression indicates, the advantage is on the side of the Theban maiden. Though her hope is the outgrowth of her affection rather than of her religious training - a thought which is the child of a wish - she never loses her grasp upon the expectation of rejoining her beloved dead. But the gospel story is thrown into strongest contrast with the classical by the truth of resurrection which dominates it in the person and energy of the Lord of life. Jesus enters at once as the consolation of bereaved love, and the eternal solution of the problem of life and death. The idea which Electra sneered at as madness, is here a realized fact. Beautiful, wonderful as is the action which the drama evolves out of the conflict of sisterly love with death, the curtain falls on death as victor. Into the gospel story Jesus brings a benefaction, a lesson, and a triumph. His warm sympathy, His comforting words, His tears at His friend's tomb, are in significant contrast with the politic, timid, at times reproachful attitude of the chorus of Theban elders towards Antigone. The consummation of both dramas is unmitigated horror. Suicide solves the problem for Antigone, and Electra receives back her brother as from the dead, only to incite him to murder, and to gloat with him over the victims. It is a beautiful feature of the Gospel narrative that it seems, if we may so speak, to retire with an instinctive delicacy from the joy of that reunited household. It breaks off abruptly with the words, “Loose him, and let him go.” The imagination alone follows the sisters with their brother, perchance with Christ, behind the closed door, and hears the sacred interchanges of that wonderful communing. Tennyson, with a deep and truly Christian perception, has struck its key-note.“Her eyes are homes of silent prayer,Nor other thought her mind admits But, he was dead, and there he sits!-DIVIDER-
And He that brought him back is there.Then one deep love doth supersedeAll other, when her ardent gaze Roves from the living brother's face-DIVIDER-
And rests upon the Life indeed.”“In Memoriam.” [source]

John 11:44 He that was dead came forth [εχηλτεν ο τετνηκως]
Literally, “Came out the dead man,” (effective aorist active indicative and perfect active articular participle of τνησκω — thnēskō). Just as he was and at once. Bound hand and foot Perfect passive participle of δεω — deō with the accusative loosely retained according to the common Greek idiom (Robertson, Grammar, p. 486), but literally “as to the feet and hands” (opposite order from the English). Probably the legs were bound separately. With grave-clothes Or “with bands.” Instrumental case of this late and rare word (in Plutarch, medical papyrus in the form κηρια — kēria and Proverbs 7:16). Only here in N.T. His face Old word, but προσωπον — prosōpon is usual in N.T. See Revelation 1:16 for another instance. Was bound about Past perfect passive of περιδεω — perideō old verb to bind around, only here in N.T. With a napkin Instrumental case of σουδαριον — soudarion (Latin word sudarium from sudor, sweat). In N.T. here, John 20:7; Luke 19:20; Acts 19:12. Our handkerchief. Loose him First aorist active imperative of λυω — luō From the various bands. Let him go Second aorist active imperative of απιημι — aphiēmi and present active infinitive. [source]
Acts 19:12 Handkerchiefs [σουδάρια]
See on Luke 19:20. [source]
Acts 1:12 Olivet [Ελαιωνος]
Genitive singular. Vulgate Olivetum. Made like αμπελων — ampelōn Here only in the N.T., usually το ορος των Ελαιων — to oros tōn Elaiōn (the Mount of Olives), though some MSS. have Olivet in Luke 19:29; Luke 21:37. Josephus (Ant. VII. 9, 2) has it also and the papyri (Deissmann, Light from the Ancient East, p. 170). [source]
Acts 19:12 Handkerchiefs [σουδαρια]
Latin word for συδορ — sudor (sweat). Used in Luke 19:20; John 11:44; John 20:7. In two papyri marriage-contracts this word occurs among the toilet articles in the dowry (Deissmann, Bible Studies, p. 223). [source]
Colossians 1:5 Laid up [ἀποκειμένην]
Lit., laid away, as the pound in the napkin, Luke 19:20. With the derivative sense of reserved or awaiting, as the crown, 2 Timothy 4:8. In Hebrews 9:27, it is rendered appointed (unto men to die), where, however, the sense is the same: death awaits men as something laid up. Rev., in margin, laid up for. Compare treasure in heaven, Matthew 6:20; Matthew 19:21; Luke 12:34. “Deposited, reserved, put by in store out of the reach of all enemies and sorrows” (Bishop Wilson). [source]
Colossians 1:5 Laid up [αποκειμεινην]
Literally, “laid away or by.” Old word used in Luke 19:20 of the pound laid away in a napkin. See also αποτησαυριζω — apothēsaurizō to store away for future use (1 Timothy 6:19). The same idea occurs in Matthew 6:20 (treasure in heaven) and 1 Peter 1:4 and it is involved in Philemon 3:20. Ye heard before (προηκουσατε — proēkousate). First aorist indicative active of this old compound προακουω — proakouō though only here in the N.T. Before what? Before Paul wrote? Before the realization? Before the error of the Gnostics crept in? Each view is possible and has advocates. Lightfoot argues for the last and it is probably correct as is indicated by the next clause. In the word of the truth of the gospel “In the preaching of the truth of the gospel” (Galatians 2:5, Galatians 2:14) which is come They heard the pure gospel from Epaphras before the Gnostics came. [source]
2 Timothy 4:8 There is laid up [ἀπόκειται]
Or laid away. In Pastorals only here. In Paul, see Colossians 1:5(note). Luke 19:20of the pound laid up in a napkin. [source]
Hebrews 9:27 It is appointed [ἀπόκειται]
Lit. is laid by in store. Comp. Luke 19:20; Colossians 1:5(see note); 2 Timothy 4:8. [source]
Hebrews 9:27 It is appointed [αποκειται]
Present middle (or passive) of αποκειμαι — apokeimai “is laid away” for men. Cf. same verb in Luke 19:20; Colossians 1:5; 2 Timothy 4:8 (Paul‘s crown). Once to die Once for all to die, as once for all to live here. No reincarnation here. After this cometh judgment Death is not all. Man has to meet Christ as Judge as Jesus himself graphically pictures (Matt 25:31-46; John 5:25-29). [source]
Revelation 6:2 White horse []
For white, see on Luke 19:29. Horse, see Zechariah 1:7-11; Zechariah 6:1-8. All the figures of this verse are those of victory. The horse in the Old Testament is the emblem of war. See Job 39:25; Psalm 76:6; Proverbs 21:31; Ezekiel 26:10. So Virgil:“But I beheld upon the grass four horses, snowy white,Grazing the meadows far and wide, first omen of my sight. Father Anchises seeth, and saith: 'New land and bear'st thou war?-DIVIDER-
For war are horses dight; so these war-threatening herd-beasts are.'”“Aeneid,” iii., 537. So Turnus, going forth to battle:“He spake, and to the roofed place now swiftly wending home,Called for his steeds, and merrily stood there before their foam E'en those that Orithyia gave Pilumnus, gift most fair,-DIVIDER-
Whose whiteness overpassed the snow, whose speed the winged air.”“Aeneid,” xii., 81-83. Homer pictures the horses of Rhesus as whiter than snow, and swift as the winds (“Iliad,” x., 436,437); and Herodotus, describing the battle of Plataea says: “The fight went most against the Greeks where Mardonius, mounted on a white horse, and surrounded by the bravest of all the Persians, the thousand picked men, fought in person” (ix., 63). The horses of the Roman generals in their triumphs were white. [source]

What do the individual words in Luke 19:2 mean?

And behold a man by name called Zacchaeus he was a chief tax collector he [was] rich
Καὶ ἰδοὺ ἀνὴρ ὀνόματι καλούμενος Ζακχαῖος αὐτὸς ἦν ἀρχιτελώνης αὐτὸς πλούσιος

ἰδοὺ  behold 
Parse: Verb, Aorist Imperative Active, 2nd Person Singular
Root: ἰδού  
Sense: behold, see, lo.
ἀνὴρ  a  man 
Parse: Noun, Nominative Masculine Singular
Root: ἀνήρ  
Sense: with reference to sex.
ὀνόματι  by  name 
Parse: Noun, Dative Neuter Singular
Root: ὄνομα  
Sense: name: univ.
καλούμενος  called 
Parse: Verb, Present Participle Middle or Passive, Nominative Masculine Singular
Root: καλέω  
Sense: to call.
Ζακχαῖος  Zacchaeus 
Parse: Noun, Nominative Masculine Singular
Root: Ζακχαῖος  
Sense: a chief tax collector.
ἀρχιτελώνης  a  chief  tax  collector 
Parse: Noun, Nominative Masculine Singular
Root: ἀρχιτελώνης  
Sense: a chief of tax collectors, chief publican.
αὐτὸς  he  [was] 
Parse: Personal / Possessive Pronoun, Nominative Masculine 3rd Person Singular
Root: αὐτός  
Sense: himself, herself, themselves, itself.
πλούσιος  rich 
Parse: Adjective, Nominative Masculine Singular
Root: πλούσιος  
Sense: wealthy, abounding in material resources.

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