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εις δε εξ αυτων ιδων οτι ιαθη υπεστρεψεν μετα φωνης μεγαλης δοξαζων τον θεον και επεσεν επι προσωπον παρα τους ποδας αυτου ευχαριστων αυτω και αυτος ην σαμαρειτης. [Luke 17:15,16 (TR, undisputed).]

And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, and with a loud voice glorified God, and fell down on (his) face at his feet, giving him thanks: and he was a Samaritan. [Luke 17:15,16 KLV.]

The cleansed leper ... glorified God ... and fell down ... at his feet.

The grammar of the text implies that the leper fell down at God's feet.

And then Jesus spoke to the cleansed leper.

Have I understood this text correctly ?

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  • The usual reading is that his feet were the feet of Jesus, who is named in Luke 17:13 and referred to as he/him several times in the same sentence. So the healed leper glorified God and thanked Jesus.
    – Henry
    Nov 22 '21 at 10:59
  • +1 Based on this question, we could also ask if Solomon was God in [1 Chronicles 28:23] - “And Solomon sat on the throne of YHVH as king instead of David his father, and he prospered, and all Israel obeyed him.” - Did Israel obey Solomon as YHVH? Nov 22 '21 at 11:03
  • I think that the one "turned back" (to Jesus). Verse 18 perhaps indicates that everything following that turning (the loud voice, falling, and thanking) makes up giving glory to God even if the falling was at Jesus' feet. +1 I wonder, does one thank the priest when he is cleansed at the temple? Nov 22 '21 at 12:43
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From my dictionary of the English language I note that an antecedent (as a noun) is the

"Preceding thing or circumstance; (Logic) the part of a conditional proposition on which the other part depends; (Gram.) noun, clause, sentence, to which a (usu. following and esp. relative) pronoun or adverb refers." (The Concise Oxford Dictionary 1976, Oxford University Press)

I expect that such a definition of 'antecedent' in no way interferes with or clashes with the Greek grammar in the text in question. Looking now at two Greek interlinear translations (based on different Greek texts) I spot an interesting difference - not in the Greek - but in English translations of verse 16. Despite the fact that both manuscript sources at no point have the word for 'Jesus' after its occurrence in verse 13, and before it recurs in verse 17, one set of translations insert the word 'Jesus' into verse 16. Others stick strictly to the Greek text, e.g.

"...and with a loud voice glorified God, and he fell down on [his] face at his feet, giving him thanks..." (KJV, The Companion Bible, YLT etc).

"...came back, praising God in a loud voice. He threw himself at Jesus' feet and thanked him..." (NIV, GNB, NWT etc).

The fact that the name of Jesus is not mentioned in verse 16 - the Samaritan man having just loudly praised God, then immediately falling down at Jesus' feet, to thank Jesus - requires thinking not so much about pronouns as the significance of this extraordinary obeisance the healed man showed to Jesus. Even as a Samaritan, he would know that it would be blasphemy on his part to adore a human being. And Jesus, as a Jew, would know that he could never accept such adoration from a human being. He knew that not even angels were to be bowed down to, in obeisance. Yet Jesus accepted the act of worship spontaneously shown to him. He did not rebuke the man and immediately stop him being face-down, at his feet. He did not raise the man up and warn him to only glorify God. This man was simultaneously glorifying God and Jesus.

Needless to say, those who object to Jesus being the object of worship while on earth are swift to try to steer well away from the very idea. That, I suggest, is the reason for certain translations adding the word 'Jesus' in verse 16. There is no need to add it for clarity as to whose feet the Samaritan had fallen face-first down at. The context and the grammar plainly show it was the feet of the one who had healed him that he prostrated himself before - Jesus.

It is what such prostration meant, and how Jesus accepted it as his right, that indicates you are right to see, in this verse, the antecedent being God, with lack of the name of Jesus being supportive of the point you ask about: for the man to loudly praise God and immediately throw himself bodily down at the feet of Jesus. speaks of the veiled glory of the Son of God.

This should not strike us as strange given what Luke recorded in chapter 2 about the birth of Mary's child. He reported angels appearing, praising God and saying, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men", the shepherds seeing Christ as a new-born babe, and glorifying and praising God. We know that, later, obeisance was given to the child, Jesus, by visiting Magi. I repeat, it goes without saying that those who don't wish the Bible to give even a hint of Jesus receiving worship while on earth, will find ways of detracting from the very idea, in their translations.

That is why it is vital to stick to the Greek text and, where it does not give the name of Jesus in a verse, to keep that name out. There are reasons for every detail in the Greek text. In Luke 17:16, the antecedent could well be a Big Clue for us to associate praise of God with praise of Jesus, in a far more meaningful sense than those who don't think Jesus to be God incarnate might wish. The order of events is the man loudly glorifying God and immediately falling face-first at Jesus' feet to thank him. He should never have done that had Jesus been but a man but, far more significantly, Jesus should never have accepted that adoration had he been but a man.

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There is more than just grammar in answering this question.

Leviticus 13 explains how the priest examines the leper only and makes pronouncement of clean or unclean. The priest has nothing to do with the healing, it is God alone.

Leviticus 14 describes the offering/ritual cleansing process for the leper whose healing by God has been identified by the priest. There is a portion of the sacrifice kept, as commanded in the Law, as sustenance by the priest but no indication of thanks given to the priest by the cleansed one. All thanks and sacrifice are unto God.

Jesus has just instructed 10 currently leprous men, who request mercy from him (Jesus) to show themselves to the priest, as though they were already healed. This calling of things that are not as though they are is particularly attributable to God:

(As it is written, I have made thee a father of many nations,) before him whom he believed, even God, who quickeneth the dead, and calleth those things which be not as though they were. - Romans 4:17

That one of them, realizing he has been healed along the way (by God), returned to Jesus in order to glorify God rather than continuing on to the priest/temple/Levitical system to glorify God indicates that man's understanding of the true presence of God amongst men: One greater than the temple (God's dwelling place amongst men) is here.

Note that Jesus says to the man, “Rise and go your way; your faith has made you well.” and does not instruct him to continue on to the priest as commanded.

Note also that Jesus chastises the 9 who did not return to Jesus (in glorification of God) but did go to the priest, "Were there not ten cleansed? but where are the nine? There are not found that returned to give glory to God, save this stranger."

Finally, notice that Jesus says 10 were cleansed. Healing leprosy is God's purview apart from the priests. Cleansing is God's purview through the priests. Jesus has just effected both and 1 in 10 has recognized it.

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There is profusion of pronouns here so let me quote the BLB of Luke 17 -:

14 When Jesus saw them, He said, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.” And as they were on their way, they were cleansed. 15 And one of them, having seen that he was healed, turned back, glorifying God with a loud voice, 16 and he fell on his face at His feet, giving thanks to Him. And he was a Samaritan.

It is immediately apparent that very few of these pronouns use the closest previous proper noun as their antecedant - the best example is the "he" in V15 is one of the Samaritans, not Jesus.

This phenomenon is common in Koine Greek and can (and is) confusing to some (including myself) at times. It is for this reason that many versions put the name of the antecedent of a pronoun in place of the pronoun to clarify the text. This is done in several such as: NIV, TLV, ESV, BSB, etc, in V16, in this case, "Jesus".

I believe that this is justified here because in V16 we have:

and he [the Samaritan] fell on his [the Samaritan's] face at His [Jesus'] feet, giving thanks to Him [Jesus]. And he was a Samaritan.

Thus, the antecedant for "His" in V16 is "Jesus" in V14. That is, the leper fell at Jesus' feet, and gave glory to God.

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    v. 18 (KJV) "There are not found that returned to give glory to God, save this stranger." Given v. 15, does this indicate that falling at his (Jesus') feet and giving him (Jesus) thanks was all a part of glorifying God? Nov 22 '21 at 12:31
  • @MikeBorden - Falling at Jesus' feet was an act of worship. Praising God would have involved saying something like, "Praise the Lord who has healed me".
    – Dottard
    Nov 22 '21 at 20:29
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Luke was not one of Yeshua's first 12 apostles. Luke was a doctor and treated Paul. Soon he became a disciple of Paul. The Gospel of Luke came into existence 15 years after the apostles' gospels. So it's said he learned about all the miracles Yeshua did by Paul himself. Luke wrote everything down and since he didn't witness anything himself he used pronouns, some believe Luke was a traveling companion to Paul. That's why "we" is used often in Luke.

Apostles and Luke was not one. I know when he wrote The Acts of the Apostles it was written in Greek meaning he was writing in past events. The Papyrus Bodmer XIV is the most recognized scripture talking about Luke and Paul.

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  • On exact details about Luke I can not pin point one source because there are so many scholars who have different views. I do know Yeshua named his first 12 Apostles and Luke was not one. I Know when he wrote The Acts of the Apostles it was written in greek, meaning he was writing in past events. The Papyrus Bodmer XIV is the most recognized scripture talking about Luke and Paul. Nov 22 '21 at 21:35

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