A certain lawyer
To test Jesus.
What must I do
To inherit eternal life?’”
Καὶ ἰδοὺ νομικός τις ἀνέστη ἐκπειράζων αὐτὸν λέγων Διδάσκαλε, τί ποιήσας ζωὴν αἰώνιον κληρονομήσω;
Luke said that just then, a certain lawyer stood up (Καὶ ἰδοὺ νομικός τις ἀνέστη) to test Jesus (ἐκπειράζων αὐτὸν). He said, calling Jesus a teacher (λέγων Διδάσκαλε), what did he have to do to inherit eternal life (τί ποιήσας ζωὴν αἰώνιον κληρονομήσω)? Although there was a question like this in all 3 synoptics, there are nuanced differences. Matthew, chapter 22:35-36, had a Pharisee lawyer ask the question about the greatest commandment, and not about eternal life. Mark, chapter 12:28, had a Scribe, not a Pharisee lawyer ask the same question about the greatest commandment. In Luke, here, there was an unnamed lawyer, probably an expert in the Mosaic law, who wanted to know about how to gain eternal life. Mark had this unnamed Scribe approach Jesus, because he had heard the disciples discussing, disputing, or arguing with each other. He saw how Jesus had answered their questions so well. He was not there to test him, as here in Luke and Matthew, but he did question Jesus. Matthew had a lawyer, who was a Pharisee, question Jesus to explicitly test him. This Pharisee lawyer probably was someone skilled in the Mosaic law. He addressed Jesus in a very respectful tone calling him “Teacher” or rabbi (Διδάσκαλε), like Luke. He wanted to know which commandment of the law was the greatest, since there were 613 commandments in late Judaism. Thus, it would seem like a legitimate question with so many commandments or laws. Luke had the question about eternal life, but the other 2 synoptics questioned Jesus about the most important commandment. These questions were related, but not the same. 3 different people, with different motives, posed this question. Do you question people to learn something or to test them?