Luke 17:1-5

Luke 17:1 (KJB)
Then said he unto the disciples, It is impossible but that offences will come: but woe unto him, through whom they come!

Offences - Stumbling Block, snare, or scandal

Then Jesus pronounces a woe upon the world for the same offences. Those offences are such as temptations to sin, false beliefs, apostasy, and anything else which may cause someone to stumble in their Christian walk or which prevents the true gospel from being preached. Jesus also states that because of the sinful nature of this world, these offences are inevitable and will happen. The woe means that eventually the world will come under judgment as a whole because it is slated to be burned up but then Jesus also states a woe on the person who is responsible for causing Christians to stumble or from preventing the preaching of the Gospel. That person will appear before the White Throne Judgment Seat of Christ and will be judged for their hatred of the Gospel.

Luke 17:2 (KJB)
It were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he cast into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones.

Many times the pro-life movement will use this verse as a teaching against abortion but that is not what is in view here. When Jesus uses the term “little children” or “little ones” it is speaking about all those who believe in Him. (Mat 10:42 KJV) And whosoever shall give to drink unto one of these little ones a cup of cold water only in the name of a disciple, verily I say unto you, he shall in no wise lose his reward. In the book of John the term is also used. (John 13:33 KJV) Little children, yet a little while I am with you. Ye shall seek me: and as I said unto the Jews, Whither I go, ye cannot come; so now I say to you. It means every believer will eventually be vindicated if they have suffered persecution. Jesus is stating that those who offend which means “to cause to stumble” will be judged and sent to the lake of fire. This is why Jesus is stating that it is better that a millstone be hung around the neck. Millstones were very heavy and that would mean if it was tied around someone’s neck, there would be no way they could ever come to the surface. Then Jesus states that they should be drowned in the depths of the sea, which means the deepest parts. Jesus is not mincing words here because He takes it very seriously when someone not only persecutes a Christian but even if they cause them to stumble or cause them to drift from the path of truth.

Luke 17:3 (KJB)
Take heed to yourselves: If thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive him.

There is going to come a time or times in the life of a believer that someone is going to trespass against us and how we handle it also reveals our spiritual condition. When someone commits a trespass against us, we are not to allow things to fester but we are to go to our brother privately and speak to them about their trespass. (Gal 6:1 KJV) Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted. We are to approach them with the mindset that their fault can become our fault if we do not watch it. We are to go to them and point out what they did wrong in meekness and not arrogantly. If they see the error of their way, then they will confess that they did wrongly and the relationship between the two brethren can be restored and the breach in the body of Christ will be fixed. If a disagreement is not fixed on this level, it can actually mushroom into a church split because sides will be drawn and otherwise innocent parties will be brought into the dispute and that will create a large rift in the body at that location and has the ability to spread beyond one location. That is why it is important to try and work out things on this level.

Luke 17:4 (KJB)
And if he trespass against thee seven times in a day, and seven times in a day turn again to thee, saying, I repent; thou shalt forgive him.

Here Jesus focuses on the essence of Christianity and that is forgiveness. The fact that He uses the number seven twice tells us that as Christians we must be ready to forgive people no matter how many times they have sinned against us, even if it is the same sin. After all, how many times do we sin against God doing the same old sins repeatedly. We must never engage in grudges or backbiting but should have genuine concern for a brother who consistently sins against us. We are to accept their profession of repentance as much as seven times a day if necessary.

Luke 17:5 (KJB)
And the apostles said unto the Lord, Increase our faith.

The Apostles probably thought that they had lacked enough faith to be able to forgive someone so many times, so they made a request of the Lord Jesus Christ that He would increase their faith. It is not in man to just turn on a switch and then get increased faith. Normally when God increases the faith of a person, it is done by placing them in a situation which is beyond their control so they would have to have faith in God all the while their faith is continuing to build.