preaching study: luke 11:5-13

All quotations TNIV unless noted.


I’m preaching the next three weeks in Mosaic, our contemporary service. The first two weeks (April 26 and May 3), beginning this Sunday, will be on prayer and will look at two texts from Luke’s Gospel in which Jesus is teaching on prayer — 11:5-13 and 18:1-8.

Any conversation on the biblical study is welcome and appreciated.

Literary Context

  • 11:5-8 – Parable of the Neighbors and Hospitality
    • 5-6 – Need for bread in order to show hospitality
    • 7 – False answer: Friend’s negative response
    • 8 – True answer w/rationale: Neighbor’s positive response and why
    • This section is driven by a problem/solution scenario: The first man needs to provide hospitality but lacks everything he needs, so he seeks out the help of a friend/neighbor in order to solve the problem.
  • 11:9-10 – Call to Action in Prayer
    • 9 – Action given: Ask, Seek, Knock
    • 10 – Assurance given of effectiveness of action
    • This section is driven by a command, with a cause/effect rationale offered next in order to cement confidence in the commanded actions.
  • 11:11-13 – Father’s generosity with the Holy Spirit
    • 11-12 – Hypothetical questions anticipating “no” answer
    • 13 – Amplification of God’s character, by comparison to human fathers
    • This section is driven by comparison and contrast; comparing basic ability to give good gifts, while contrasting that ability in terms of degree—human fathers able to do well, “how much more” the heavenly Father.

Cultural Cues

  • 11:8 – This is a good example of an obscure Greek word being mistranslated, therefore misinterpreted. A common translation is something like “persistence.” But the word has been demonstrated to mean something like “shamelessness” or “avoids shame.” The meaning comes from cultural codes of honor and shame (see Joel B. Green and Luke T. Johnson) and hospitality ethics. So, the word is also misattributed as referring to the subject of the parable who is approaching the friend/neighbor in need of bread in most if not all standard English translations. But it should be attributed to the friend/neighbor who has been awakened. The first man has a duty to offer hospitality to his friend who is coming to visit. But he lacks bread, so he goes to inquire with his neighbor. It’s the middle of the night, so even if not because of friendship, the neighbor will nonetheless get up and give him all the bread he needs because he will avoid the cultural/societal shame of not assisting someone in offering hospitality to their guest. It’s a character issue for the man inside the house.

Canonical Connections

  • James 1:17-18 – God is the giver of every good and perfect gift.
  • Acts 1:8, 2:1-12; John 14:15-31, 15:26-16:15 – Gospel passages on the gift of the Holy Spirit

Published by Guy M Williams

Christian | Husband, Father | Pastor | 8th-Gen Texan | Texas A&M ‘96 | Asbury Seminary ‘01 | Enjoy family, reading, running, golf, college football

2 thoughts on “preaching study: luke 11:5-13

  1. I’m not sure what your Mosaic congregation is like, but I know some of this stuff sounds scary to some people (e.g. the Acts 2 events) – who pray, “Lord, don’t let this happen to me” – so it doesn’t! John Sherrell “They Speak in Other Tongues” is very helpful on this fear/suspicion issue. If I may be forgiven for summarising brutally, he gently suggests that it’s all about trusting God and surrendering to his love.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: