Luke 13:18-21

Luke 13:18-21
A Women’s Lectionary – Fifth Sunday in Lent


18 He said therefore, “What is the kingdomA of GodB like?C And to what should I compareD it? 

Notes on verse 18

A “kingdom” = basileia. From basileus (king, emperor, sovereign); probably from basis (step, hence foot; a pace); from baino (to walk, to go). This is kingdom, rule, authority, sovereignty, royalty, a realm.
B “God” = Theos. From Proto-Indo-European origins, meaning do, put, place. This is God or a god in general.
C “like” = homoios. From the same as homou (together); from homos (the same). This is similar to, resembling, like.
D “compare” = homoioo. Related to “like” in v18. 15x in NT. From homoios (see note C above). This is to compare, liken, resemble, become similar.

19 It is like a mustardE seedF that someoneG tookH and sowedI in the garden;

Notes on verse 19a

E “mustard” = sinapi. 5x in NT. Perhaps from sinomai (to hurt or sting). This is a mustard plant.
F “seed” = kokkos. 7x in NT. This is a seed or kernel.
G “someone” = anthropos. Probably from aner (man, male, husband) + ops (eye, face); {from optanomai (to appear, be seen); perhaps from horao (become, seem, appear)}. This is human, humankind. Used for all genders.
H “took” = lambano. It does not refer to passive receiving of something, but active acceptance or taking of something whether it is offered or simply nearby. It focuses on individual decision and action.
I “sowed” = ballo. This is to throw, cast, rush, place, or drop. It is throwing, but it could be with more or less velocity and with more or less force/violence.

it grewJ and becameK a tree, and the birdsL of the airM made nestsN in its branches.”O

Notes on verse 19b

J “grew” = auxano. From auksano (to grow or enlarge, whether literal or figurative). This is growing whether in size or mature or greatness or some other metric.
K “became” = ginomai. This is to come into being, to happen, become, be born. It can be to emerge from one state or condition to another or is coming into being with the sense of movement or growth.
L “birds” = peteinon. 14x in NT. From petomai (to fly). This is something with wings i.e. a bird.
M “air” = ouranos. May be related to oros (mountain, hill) with the notion of height. This is the air, the sky, the atmosphere, and heaven. It is the sky that is visible and the spiritual heaven where God dwells. Heaven implies happiness, power, and eternity.
N “made nests” = kataskenoo. 4x in NT. From kata (down, against, throughout, among) + skenoo (to encamp, pitch a tent, dwell); {from skenos (tent, booth, tabernacle, or dwelling)}. It could be a cloth hut. This is a tent in a literal or figurative sense); {perhaps related to skeuos (vessel, tool, container, implement; also vessel in a figurative or literal sense) or perhaps related to skia (shadow, thick darkness, outline; figurative for a spiritual situation that is good or bad)}. This is to encamp or dwell. It is used figuratively for to lodge, stay or rest.
O “branches” = klados. 11x in NT. From klao (to break in pieces as one breaks bread). This is a branch, twig, or bough. It can also refer to descendants.

20 And again he said, “To what should I compare the kingdom of God? 21 It is like yeastP that a womanQ took and mixedR in

Notes on verses 20-21a

P “yeast” = zume. 13x in NT. Perhaps from zeo (to boil, be hot, ferment, bubble, boil, or glow; used figuratively for being fervent or earnest). This is yeast in a literal or figurative sense – an influence that grows, but is not easily detected.
Q “woman” = gune. Related to “became” in v19. Perhaps from ginomai (see note K above). This is woman, wife, or bride. This is where the word “gynecologist” comes from.
R “mixed” = krupto. 18x in NT. This is to hide by covering, secret, hidden things. This is the root of the word “cryptography.”

with three measuresS of flourT until allU of it was leavened.”V

Notes on verse 21b

S “measures” = saton. 2x in NT. From Aramaic; compare Hebrew seah (seah – a dry measure used for grain; root may mean to define). This is a dry unit of measure about one and a half pecks or 12 metric liters.
T “flour” = aleuron. 2x in NT. From aleo (to grind). This is meal or wheat flour.
U “all” = holos. This is whole, complete, or entire. It is a state where every member is present and functioning in concert. This is the root of the word “whole.”
V “was leavened” = zumoo. Related to “yeast” in v21. 4x in NT. From zume (see note P above). This is to leaven or ferment.

Image credit: “Knead Dough?” by Kyle Strickland, 2010.

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