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Luke 6

PARAGRAPH DIVISIONS OF MODERN TRANSLATIONS

UBS4 NKJV NRSV TEV NJB
Plucking Grain on the Sabbath Jesus is Lord of the Sabbath Jesus and Sabbath Laws The Question About the Sabbath Picking Corn on the Sabbath
6:1-5 6:1-5 6:1-5 6:1-2 6:1-5
      6:3-4  
      6:5  
The Man With A Withered Hand Healing on the Sabbath   The Man With a Paralyzed Hand Cure of the Man With a Withered Hand
6:6-11 6:6-11 6:6-11 6:6-10 6:6-11
      6:11  
The Choosing of the Twelve The Twelve Apostles Choosing the Twelve Jesus Chooses the Twelve Apostles The Choice of the Twelve
6:12-16 6:12-16 6:12-16 6:12-16 6:12-16
Ministering to a Great Multitude Jesus Heals a Great Multitude The Sermon on the Plain
(6:17-49)
Jesus Teaches and Heals The Crowds Follow Jesus
6:17-19 6:17-19 6:17-19 6:17-19 6:17-19
Blessing and Woes The Beatitudes   Happiness and Sorrow The First Sermon: the Beatitudes
6:20-26 6:20 6:20-21 6:20-21 6:20-21
  6:20b-23      
    6:22-25 6:22-25 6:22-23
  Jesus Pronounces Woes     The Curses
  6:24-26     6:24-25
    6:26 6:26 6:26
Love for Enemies Love Your Enemies   Love for Enemies Love of Enemies
6:27-36 6:27-36 6:27-31 6:27-31 6:27-36
    6:32-36 6:32-36  
Judging Others Do Not Judge   Judging Others Compassion and Generosity
6:37-42 6:37-42 6:37-38 6:37-38 6:37-38
        Integrity
    6:39-42 6:39-40 6:39-42
      6:41-42  
A Tree Known by Its Fruit A Tree Is Known by Its Fruit   A Tree and Its Fruit  
6:43-45 6:43-45 6:43-45 6:43-45 6:43-45
The Two Foundations     The Two House Builders The True Disciple
6:46-49 6:46-49 6:46-49 6:46-49 6:46
        6:47-49

READING CYCLE THREE (from "A Guide to Good Bible Reading")

FOLLOWING THE ORIGINAL AUTHOR'S INTENT AT THE PARAGRAPH LEVEL

This is a study guide commentary, which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

Read the chapter in one sitting. Identify the subjects. Compare your subject divisions with the five translations above. Paragraphing is not inspired, but it is the key to following the original author's intent, which is the heart of interpretation. Every paragraph has one and only one subject.

1. First paragraph

2. Second paragraph

3. Third paragraph

4. Etc.

 

CONTEXTUAL INSIGHTS

A. This chapter seems to divide into several separate incidents:

1. Jesus is confronted by the Pharisees over His disciples' eating grain on the Sabbath (cf. Luke 6:1-6)

2. Jesus is confronted by the Pharisees over the "healing of the man with the withered hand" on the Sabbath (cf. Luke 6:6-11)

3. Jesus chooses twelve disciples (cf. Luke 6:12-19)

4. Luke's recording of a sermon similar to "The Sermon on the Mount" in Matt. 5:7 (recorded in Luke 6:20-49)

 

B. There is an obvious difference between the "Sermon on the Mount" recorded in Matthew and "The Sermon on the Plain" in Luke (cf. Luke 6:17). Luke seems to be written on the level of social conditions and attitudes toward our material world (some scholars would say Luke is dealing with a delayed Parousia); whereas Matthew seems to be written as a progression of spiritual levels progressing to Christlikeness (an eschatological setting). It is uncertain why Luke includes the "curses" (i.e., OT prophetic "woes." These woes are antithetically parallel to the blessings), while Matthew completely leaves them out (this shows the sermons recorded in the NT are not verbatim, but summaries and excerpts). Basically, the Beatitudes are not specific commands to be followed, but examples of an attitude toward our present world and our place in it. It is hard to decide whether or not Luke and Matthew record two different sermons using similar themes and examples (cf. Gleason Archer, Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties, p. 312 and 366) or the same sermon recorded differently (cf. D. A. Carson, "Matthew" in Expositor's Bible Commentary). Remember each of the Gospel writers selected, adapted, and rearranged Jesus' teachings to address their target audiences. Luke leaves out much of the Jewish elements in Jesus' teaching that Matthew records for his Jewish readership.

 

C. Luke's version of Jesus' sermon has been greatly ignored by scholarship. Most interpreters use Matthew's account to interpret Luke's account. However, they are very different. Luke's beatitudes are not eschatological, but contemporary. Jesus is addressing His disciples (cf. Luke 6:20). The Kingdom is here! Believers' outward physical conditions must not affect their trust and joy in God.

 

WORD AND PHRASE STUDY

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: LUKE 6:1-5
 1Now it happened that He was passing through some grainfields on a Sabbath; and His disciples were picking the heads of grain, rubbing them in their hands, and eating the grain. 2But some of the Pharisees said, "Why do you do what is not lawful on the Sabbath?" 3And Jesus answering them said, "Have you not even read what David did when he was hungry, he and those who were with him, 4how he entered the house of God, and took and ate the consecrated bread which is not lawful for any to eat except the priests alone, and gave it to his companions?" 5And He was saying to them, "The Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath."

6:1 "passing through some grainfields" This referred to the footpaths through the grain fields which surrounded the villages and towns. These "grainfields" could refer to any kind of cereal grain grown in this area (e.g., barley, wheat).

The Talmud taught that any journey over 2,000 paces on the Sabbath was considered work and, therefore, not permitted. It is interesting that the crowds, along with the Pharisees and the Scribes, were following Jesus on the Sabbath, therefore, they also were guilty of breaking this Sabbath law.

This reflects Luke's continuing emphasis on the conflict between Jesus and the religious leaders over the Oral Law (traditions of the Elders). Their legalism came from a sincere desire to keep God's word! They were sincere and obviously very committed. They believed that Moses received the oral traditions from God on Mt. Sinai and passed them on verbally. It is at this point that Jesus' three parables of Luke 5:33-39 are crucial.

▣ "on a Sabbath" This phrase is found in MSS P4, א, B, L, W and UBS4 gives it a "C" rating because a more unusual (unique) option, "on the second first Sabbath," is found in MSS A, C, D, K, X, Delta.

There have been several theories about the unique wording.

1. From a Semitic expression from a Palestinian priestly calendar referring to the Sabbath after the feast of unleavened bread, but the second after Passover, from which the Jews count 50 days until Pentecost (cf. Lev. 23:15, see Archer Bible Commentary, vol. 28, p. 607.

2. From a scribal error confusing the three mentions of Jesus' activities of the Sabbath (cf. Luke 4:16,31; 6:1, see Bruce Metzger, Textual Commentary, p. 139).

 

SPECIAL TOPIC: SABBATH

▣ "His disciples were" Obviously the disciples were following their Master and were violating the traditional Sabbath laws (cf. Matt. 12:1).

▣ "picking the heads. . .rubbing them in their hands" The Pharisees considered the disciples' actions as

1. harvesting

2. winnowing

3. preparing food on the Sabbath

These actions were illegal according to their oral traditions based on Exod. 34:21. For one example of the rabbinic traditions see Shabbath 7:2. Jesus' disciples were not doing anything illegal in their actions according to the gleaning laws of the OT (cf. Deut. 23:25); the problem was the day (cf. Gen. 2:1-3; Exod. 20:8-11; 23:12; 31:15; Deut. 5:12-15) on which they did it! It seems that the Gospel writers record Jesus' actions on the Sabbath to show

1. the controversies they caused

2. that Jesus did these kinds of things every day and the Sabbath was no exception

 

6:2 "some of the Pharisees" The Pharisees were assuming that Jesus was violating Exod. 34:21. This shows that Jesus always had a crowd following Him. That crowd was made up of disciples, the sick, the curious, and representatives of the religious leaders trying to catch Him in a situation they could exploit.

It is this mixture (1) of motives and (2) the people to whom Jesus is speaking which causes some of Jesus' teaching (without their specific context) to be so difficult to interpret because we are unsure to whom He addressed His teachings.

6:3 "Have you not even read what David did" This incident from David's life seems to emphasize that human need takes precedence over legalistic rituals and traditions (cf. 1 Sam. 21:1-6). Just a brief comment about this account in 1 Samuel, I think David lied to the priest at Nob to protect him from the charge of helping David. Unfortunately he was killed by Saul for his supposed treason by helping David.

6:4 "the house of God" This refers to the Tabernacle (cf. Exod. 25-31).

▣ "bread" This refers to the twelve large loaves of bread (which symbolized God's provision for the Twelve Tribes) that were placed on the table in the Holy Place and were replaced every seven days. These loaves were for the priests alone to eat (cf. Exod. 25:30; Lev. 24:5-9). They weighed approximately 6 1/4 pounds.

▣ "and gave it to his companions" This phrase is repeated in all three Synoptic Gospels (cf. Matt. 12:3; Mark 2:25). This is the implication of 1 Samuel 21, but in reality, David was lying about having companions. He apparently did this to protect the priests at Nob whom he knew Saul would retaliate against. David's companions, as well as other disgruntled Israelites, did not join him until 1 Sam. 22:1.

6:5 "The Son of Man" This was an adjectival phrase from the OT. It was used in Ezekiel 2:1 and Ps. 8:4 in its true etymological meaning of "human being." However, it was used in Dan. 7:13 in a unique context which implied both the humanity and deity of the person addressed by this new eschatological royal title (cf. Mark 8:38; 9:9; 13:26; 14:26). Since this title was not used by rabbinical Judaism and, therefore, had none of the nationalistic, exclusivistic, militaristic implications, Jesus chose it as the perfect title of both veiling and revealing His dual nature, fully man and fully divine (cf. 1 John 4:1-6). It was His favorite self-designation. It is used twenty three times in Luke (cf. Luke 5:24; 6:5; 9:22,26,44,58; 11:30; 12:8,10,40; 17:22,24,26,30; 18:8,31; 20:13; 21:27,36; 22:22,48,69; 24:7).

▣ "is Lord of the Sabbath" This has staggering Messianic implications (cf. Matt. 12:6). The Sabbath (see Special Topic at Luke 6:1) was divinely instituted (cf. Gen. 2:1-3; Exod. 28:11) and here Jesus claims to be Master and Ruler over it.

The Sabbath regulations had become the priority. These traditions, not love for humans made in God's image, had become the issue of religion. The priority of rules had replaced the priority of people. Merit had replaced love. Religious traditions (i.e., the Oral Law) have replaced God's intent (cf. Isa. 29:13; Col. 2:16-23).

How does one please God? A good OT analogy might be sacrifice. God intended it as a way for sinful, needy humanity to come to Him and restore broken fellowship, but it turned into ritual, liturgical procedure. So too, Sabbath law! Mankind had become the servant instead of the object (i.e., the reason for the laws).

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: LUKE 6:6-11
 6On another Sabbath He entered the synagogue and was teaching; and there was a man there whose right hand was withered. 7The scribes and the Pharisees were watching Him closely to see if He healed on the Sabbath, so that they might find reason to accuse Him. 8But He knew what they were thinking, and He said to the man with the withered hand, "Get up and come forward!" And he got up and came forward. 9And Jesus said to them, "I ask you, is it lawful to do good or to do harm on the Sabbath, to save a life or to destroy it?" 10After looking around at them all, He said to him, "Stretch out your hand!" And he did so; and his hand was restored. 11But they themselves were filled with rage, and discussed together what they might do to Jesus.

6:6 "On another Sabbath He entered the synagogue and was teaching" This event is paralleled in Matt. 12:9-14 and Mark 3:1-6. The synagogue developed during the Babylonian Exile. It was primarily a place of education, prayer, worship, and fellowship. It was the local expression of Judaism, as the Temple was the national focal point.

Jesus attended the synagogues regularly. He learned His Scriptures and traditions at synagogue school in Nazareth. He fully participated in first century Jewish worship.

It is also interesting that Jesus, apparently purposefully, acted in provocative ways on the Sabbath and in synagogue. He intentionally violated the Oral Traditions (i.e., Talmud) of the elders so as to enter into a theological confrontation/discussion with the religious leaders (both local and national; both Pharisees and Sadducees). The best extended discussion of His theology as it deviates from the traditional norms is the Sermon on the Mount (cf. Matthew 5-7, especially 5:17-48).

▣ "a man there whose right hand was withered" Only Luke, the physician, records the detail that it was the right hand, which probably means his vocational life had been terminated.

6:7 "scribes and the Pharisees were watching Him closely" This is an imperfect middle indicative which refers to repeated action, the beginning of an action, or the beginning of an action in past time. There was always a contingent of these religious leaders trying to trap or catch Jesus in an infraction of the written or Oral Law (cf. Luke 14:1; 20:20; Mark 3:2).

"if" This is a first class conditional sentence which follows Mark 3:2. They assumed He would do something that violated their traditions.

"to accuse Him This is a common verb in the Septuagint (cf. Deut. 6:5; I Macc. 7:6,25; II Macc. 4:47; 10:13,21).

6:8 "He knew what they were thinking" See note at Luke 5:22. This same term is used in Luke 9:47 in reference to the disciples, while in Luke 5:22 and 6:8 it refers to His enemies.

▣ "'Get up and come forward'" These are both imperatives, the first a present active and the second an aorist active. This man did not ask to be healed, but Jesus uses him as an object lesson for the disciples and the Pharisees. Often Jesus' use of miracles was primarily to teach those who observed.

6:9 This is the issue! What is the Sabbath for (cf. Matt. 12:11; Mark 3:4)?

▣ "a life" This is a good example of the Greek word psuchē used of a person or a life, not of a "soul." Biblically speaking, humans do not have "a soul"; they are a soul (cf. Gen. 2:7). There are several different words in Hebrew and Greek that refer to aspects of humanity, but are really synonymous of earthly life.

6:10 "looking around at them all" Mark (Peter) adds "in anger" (cf. Mark 3:5).

▣ "he said to him" Some ancient Greek texts add "in anger" (NKJV), which comes from Mark 3:5 where it is directed at the Pharisees, not the crippled man. The UBS4 gives the shorter text (MSS P4, א, A, B, C, W) an A rating (certain).

▣ "'Stretch out your hand'" This is an aorist active imperative. The Talmud allows for medical help to save a life on the Sabbath, but not to heal.

"and he did so" Here is the man's faith act.

6:11 "they themselves were filled with rage" This shows the ongoing scheming of the religious leaders (cf. Mark 3:6). The word "rage," "unreasoning fury," is made up of the word for "mind" (nous) with the alpha privative. This term is used in the Gospels only here, but it is used by Paul in 2 Tim. 3:9. It was a common term in wisdom literature in the Septuagint (cf. Job 33:23; Ps. 22:3; Pro. 14:8; 22:15; and Eccl. 11:10).

"and discussed together what they might do to Jesus" From Mark 3:6 we learn that the consultation was held between the Herodians and the Pharisees, who were traditional enemies (in politics and religion).

These leaders saw themselves as YHWH's defenders! It is amazing that the religious leaders saw no conflict in their premeditated murder compared to Jesus' supposed ritual and Sabbath breaking (cf. Matt. 26:4; John 11:53).

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: LUKE 6:12-16
 12It was at this time that He went off to the mountain to pray, and He spent the whole night in prayer to God. 13And when day came, He called His disciples to Him and chose twelve of them, whom He also named as apostles: 14Simon, whom He also named Peter, and Andrew his brother; and James and John; and Philip and Bartholomew; 15and Matthew and Thomas; James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon who was called the Zealot; 16Judas the son of James, and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor.

6:12 "He went off to the mountain" In the OT psalms mountains are places of safety, strength, and permanence. They are associated with YHWH's presence (cf. Ps. 121:1) or with the temple (i.e., Mt. Moriah, cf. Ps. 87:1). Moses met YHWH on a mountain (i.e., Mount Sinai, cf. Exod. 19:16-25). Matthew's Gospel, in his recording of Jesus' Sermon on the Mount, makes a definite link between Moses and Jesus. Jesus' famous sermon (cf. Matthew 5-7) was given on a mountain. This detail may have come from Mark's Gospel (Peter's eyewitness) in Mark 3:13. However, Luke records this sermon "on a plain."

It is uncertain to what mountain this refers. There is a mountain in Galilee that is mentioned often in connection with Jesus' post-resurrection meeting with disciples (cf. Matt. 26:32; 28:7,10). Whatever the location it was obviously a time to get away and be close to the Father (cf. Luke 9:28).

▣ "to pray and He spent the whole night in prayer to God" Luke, more than any other Gospel writer, emphasizes Jesus' prayer life (cf. Luke 3:21; 6:12; 9:18,28; 11:1-4) and His teachings on prayer (cf. Luke 11:5-8; 18:1-8,9-14).

Jesus spent the entire night in prayer (periphrastic imperfect active) before He chose twelve special disciples to later represent Him. Here is the tension between predestination (The Father) and human will (Jesus). Jesus, full of the Spirit, incarnate deity, still needed to pray. Judas the betrayer was one of the prayerful choices!

6:13 "He called His disciples to Him" There were many people who followed Jesus, men and women, old and young (cf. Acts 1:21-22). Jesus selected twelve to be His special representatives and leaders. He spent much time and effort in their discipleship (see Robert Coleman, The Master Plan of Discipleship).

▣ "twelve" This seems to relate to the twelve tribes of Israel as a symbol of the people of God.

SPECIAL TOPIC: THE NUMBER TWELVE

▣ "whom He also named as apostles" This comment is unique to Luke. This comes from the verb "to send" with the rabbinical implication of delegated authority. It is used in the Greek Classics like our term "ambassador." See Special Topics: Send (apostellō) at Luke 9:48 and Chart of the Apostles' Names at Luke 5:27.

6:14 "Simon, whom He also named Peter" There are three other listings of the twelve apostles. Peter is always first; Judas Iscariot is always last. There are three groups of four which remain the same, even though the order of names within the groups is often reversed (cf. Matt. 10:2-4; Mark 3:16-19; Acts 1:13).

SPECIAL TOPIC: PETER, THE MAN

"Andrew" The Greek term means "manly." From John 1:29-42 we learn that Andrew was a disciple of John the Baptist and that he introduced his brother, Peter, to Jesus.

"James" This is the Hebrew name "Jacob" (BDB 784), which means "supplanter," cf Gen. 25:26). There are two men named James in the list of the Twelve. One is the brother of John (cf. Mark 3:17) and part of the inner circle (i.e., Peter, James, and John). This is the brother of John.

"John" This was James' brother and a member of the inner circle of disciples. He wrote five NT books and lived longer than any other Apostle.

▣ "Philip" The Greek name means "fond of horses." His call is recorded in John 1:43-51.

▣ "Bartholomew" The name means "son of Ptolemy." He may be the Nathanael of the Gospel of John (cf. John 1:45-49; 21:20).

▣ "Matthew" The Hebrew name (from the Mattithiah, cf. 1 Chr. 9:31; 15:18,21; 16:5; 25:3,21; Neh. 8:4) means "gift of YHWH." This is referring to Levi (cf. Mark. 2:13-17).

"Thomas" The Hebrew name means "twin" or Didymus (cf. John 11:16; 20:24; 21:2).

"James the son of Alphaeus" This is the Hebrew name "Jacob." There are two men named James in the list of the Twelve. One is the brother of John (cf. Luke 6:17) and part of the inner circle (i.e., Peter, James, and John). This one is known as "James the less" (cf. Mark 3:17).

"Simon who was called the Zealot" The Greek text of Mark has "Cananaean" (also Matt. 10:4). Mark, whose Gospel was written to Romans, may not have wanted to use the political "hot button" word, zealot, which referred to a Jewish anti-Roman guerilla movement. Luke does call him by this term (cf. Acts 1:13). The term Cananaean has several derivatives.

1. from the area of Galilee known as Cana

2. from the OT use of Canaanite as merchant

3. from a general designation as a native of Canaan.

If Luke's designation is right, then zealot is from the Aramaic term for "enthusiast" (cf. Acts 1:17). Jesus' chosen twelve disciples were from several different and competing groups. Simon was a member of a nationalistic group which advocated the violent overthrow of Roman authority. Normally this Simon and Levi (i.e., Matthew, the tax collector) would not have been in the same room with each other.

"Judas the son of James" He was also called "Lebbeus" (cf. Matt. 10:3) or "Judas" (cf. John 14:22). Both Thaddaeus and Lebbeus mean "beloved child."

"Judas Iscariot" There are two Simons, two Jameses, and two Judases. The name Iscariot has two possible derivations:

1. man of Kerioth (a city) in Judah (cf. Jos. 15:23, which would mean he was the only Judean)

2. his father's name (cf. John 6:71; 13:2,26)

3. "dagger man" or assassin, which would mean he also was a zealot, like Simon

 

See SPECIAL TOPIC: ISCARIOT at Luke 27:3.

▣ "who became a traitor" There is so much speculation about Judas and his motives. He is mentioned and vilified often in John's Gospel (cf. John 6:71; 12:4; 13:2,26,39; 18:2,3,5). The modern play "Jesus Christ Superstar" depicts him as a faithful but disillusioned follower who tried to force Jesus into fulfilling the role of the Jewish Messiah, which was to overthrow the Romans, punish the wicked, and set up Jerusalem as the capital of the world. However, John depicts his motives as greedy and malicious.

The main problem is the theological issue of God's sovereignty and human free will. Did God or Jesus manipulate Judas? Is Judas responsible for his acts if Satan controlled him or God predicted and caused him to betray Jesus? The Bible does not address these questions directly. God is in control of history; He knows future events, but mankind is responsible for their choices and actions. God is fair, not manipulative.

There is a new book that tries to defend Judas—Judas: Betrayer or Friend of Jesus? by William Klassen, Fortress Press, 1996. I do not agree with this book because it depreciates the testimony of John's Gospel, but it is very interesting and thought provoking.

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: LUKE 6:17-19
 17 Jesus came down with them and stood on a level place; and there was a large crowd of His disciples, and a great throng of people from all Judea and Jerusalem and the coastal region of Tyre and Sidon, 18who had come to hear Him and to be healed of their diseases; and those who were troubled with unclean spirits were being cured. 19And all the people were trying to touch Him, for power was coming from Him and healing them all.

6:17 This is paralleled in Matt. 4:24-25 and Mark 3:7-8. This introduces the sermon called "the Sermon on the Mount" in Matthew 5-7 and "the sermon on the Plain" in Luke.

6:18 "to be healed of their diseases; and those who were troubled with unclean spirits were being cured" In the Gospels, distinctions are made between physical sickness and demon possession. See SPECIAL TOPIC: THE DEMONIC (UNCLEAN SPIRITS) at Luke 4:33 and notes on exorcism at Luke 4:35. Although demonic forces might cause physical symptoms, the cure for each is different. Jesus healed all those who were brought to Him. We know from other accounts that healing was sometimes based on

1. the faith of the individual

2. the faith of the sick individual's friends

3. sometimes it came without much faith at all (cf. John 5:1-9a)

Physical healing did not always mean or imply immediate spiritual salvation (cf. John 9).

6:19

NASB"for power was coming from Him"
NKJV"for power went out from Him"
NRSV"for power came out from him"
TEV"for power was going out from him"
NJB"because power came out of him"

This is an imperfect passive (deponent) indicative. The Spirit's power resided in Him and flowed to others in need (cf. Luke 5:17; 8:46; Mark 5:30). Ministry took something out of Jesus.

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: LUKE 6:20-26
 20And turning His gaze toward His disciples, He began to say, "Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. 21Blessed are you who hunger now, for you shall be satisfied. Blessed are you who weep now, for you shall laugh. 22Blessed are you when men hate you, and ostracize you, and insult you, and scorn your name as evil, for the sake of the Son of Man. 23Be glad in that day and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven. For in the same way their fathers used to treat the prophets. 24But woe to you who are rich, for you are receiving your comfort in full. 25Woe to you who are well-fed now, for you shall be hungry. Woe to you who laugh now, for you shall mourn and weep. 26Woe to you when all men speak well of you, for their fathers used to treat the false prophets in the same way."

6:20 "turning His gaze toward His disciples" Jesus addresses this sermon to His disciples, while in Matthew He addresses different groups in the large crowd.

▣ "Blessed are you who are poor" Matthew relates these series of Beatitudes (cf. Matt. 5:1-12) to the spiritual life, while Luke's abbreviated form seems to relate to social conditions (i.e., poor, hungry, weeping, and hatred, cf. Luke 6:20-22).

This term (makarios) meant "happy" or "honored" (cf. Luke 6:20-22). The English word "happy" comes from the Old English "happenstance." Believers' God-given happiness is not based on physical circumstances but inner joy. There are no verbs in these statements. They are exclamatory in form like Aramaic or Hebrew (cf. Ps.1:1). This blessedness is both a current attitude toward God and life as well as an eschatological hope.

▣ "kingdom of God" The phrase "Kingdom of Heaven" or "Kingdom of God" is used over 100 times in the Gospels. Matthew, writing for people with a Jewish background who were nervous about pronouncing God's name because of Exod. 20:7, usually used the phrase "the Kingdom of Heaven," although in Matt. 6:33; 12:28; 19:24; 21:31,43, even he uses "Kingdom of God." But the Gospels of Mark (cf. Mark 10:14) and Luke were written to Gentiles. The two phrases are synonymous (Frank Stagg, New Testament Theology, pp. 151-152).

M. R. Vincent, Word Studies in the New Testament, has a list of the places he believes the Kingdom is both present and future:

"1. present – Matt. 11:12; 12:28; 16:19; Luke 11:20; 16:16; 17:21 and the parables of: the Sower, the Tares, the Leaven, and the Dragnet

2. future – Dan. 7:27; Matt. 13:43; 19:38; 25:34; 26:29; Mark 9:47; 1 Cor. 6:9; 2 Pet. 1:11; Rev. 20" (p. 161).

 

6:21 "blessed are you who hunger now, for you shall be satisfied" Luke does not clearly state when this meeting of needs or change of circumstances will take place. Is it a future time, but in this life ("now" of Luke used twice in Luke 6:21, twice in Luke 6:25) or is it an eschatological setting (like the future eschatological setting of Matthew's Beatitudes, cf. Matt. 5:1-11)? The point is that those who trust Christ will be blessed and physically rewarded (the Matthew parallel focuses on a spiritual future). Salvation changes everything eventually. Most of the early church in Jerusalem was poor (that is one reason why Paul wanted to collect an offering for them from the Gentile churches). Luke is not promising that the gospel will immediately change one's physical, financial, or cultural circumstances, but he does assert it will immediately change one's attitude and hope!

6:22 There were and are repercussions for following Jesus in a fallen world (cf. Matt. 5:10-11). This blessing is different from the rest in that there is a condition required—persecution (cf. Acts 14:22; Rom. 5:3-4; 8:17; Phil. 1:29; 1 Thess. 3:3; 2 Tim. 3:12; James 1:2-4; 1 Pet. 3:14; 4:12-19; Rev. 11:7; 13:7). These pronounced blessings are both now and ultimately in an eschatological setting (in heaven, cf. Luke 6:23).

"Son of Man" See note at Luke 6:5.

6:23 "Be glad. . .leap" These are both aorist imperatives. Believers' attitudes and actions in the midst of persecution, rejection, and torture are a powerful witness of their salvation and their persecutor's judgment.

"For in the same way their fathers used to treat the prophets" Religious persecution is not new. Those who do it think they serve God (cf. John 16:2). The Jews have a track record of this kind of persecution (cf. Heb. 11:36-40).

However, there is an implication that Jesus' disciples are the new prophets. They were foretellers of God's good news. God's OT spokespersons were rejected and now the same thing has happened to Jesus and His followers.

6:24 "woe" The term ouai means "alas." This was a prophetic formula used in the Septuagint for introducing a funeral dirge of judgment. These are the corollaries (exact opposite, antithetical parallelism) of the blessings. Luke is the only Gospel that records this cursing section (cf. Luke 6:24-26). This is surprising, especially if Matthew is intentionally making a comparison with Moses because this pattern reflects Deuteronomy 27-28 (cursings and blessings section).

▣ "rich" The rich are singled out because of their illusions of self-sufficiency. The "woes" are a role-reversal with the "blessed." God's ways are not our ways (cf. Isa. 55:8-9). What looks like prosperity may, in reality, be a curse!

NASB"you are receiving your comfort in full"
NKJV, NRSV"you have received your consolation"
TEV"you have your easy life"
NJB"you are having your consolation now"

This is a Present active indicative. Notice the "this life" orientation (cf. Matt. 6:2,5,16) of this phrase (and of the next three woes as well).

6:25 "Woe to you who laugh now" This seems to refer to the superficial merriment related to earthly comfort. These woes are a contrast to Jesus' blessings of believers (cf. Luke 6:23).

6:26 "when all men speak well of you" This verse contrasts Luke 6:23. The theological balance to this statement is found in 1 Tim. 3:7. We are not to seek the acclaim of the world at any cost, but we are to attempt to remove any handle for criticism so as to facilitate evangelism and ministry.

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: LUKE 6:27-36
 27"But I say to you who hear, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. 29Whoever hits you on the cheek, offer him the other also; and whoever takes away your coat, do not withhold your shirt from him either. 30Give to everyone who asks of you, and whoever takes away what is yours, do not demand it back. 31Treat others the same way you want them to treat you. 32If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. 33If you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. 34If you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners in order to receive back the same amount. 35But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men. 36Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful."

6:27 "I say to you who hear" This is parallel to "He who has ears to hear, let him hear" of Luke 8:8; 14:35; Mark 4:9,23; Rev. 2:7,11,17,29; 3:6,13,22; 13:9. Only those who have the indwelling Spirit and are sensitive to His prompting can understand these spiritual truths because they are so different from the world's.

By using this phrase Luke shows that the target group (disciples) for these sayings (cf. Luke 6:27-38) is different from that of Luke 6:24-26 ("woe to you").

▣ "love your enemies" This whole section of imperatives deals with an attitude of sacrificial, self-giving love (cf. Luke 6:35; Matt. 5:44). How are believers to do this?

1. do good to those who hate you (Luke 6:27)

2. bless those who curse you (Luke 6:28)

3. pray for those who mistreat you (Luke 6:28)

4. turn the other cheek (Luke 6:29)

5. give away your clothes (Luke 6:29)

6. give to all who ask (Luke 6:30)

These are to be done even in the presence of abuse by others. We act in such a way because of who we are in Christ, not how we are treated. Our witness of sacrificial, self-giving love is even more powerful in the face of abuse (i.e., Christ's rejection and death).

Luke's representation of Jesus' sermon deals with social issues and concerns now. How we live as believers is crucial in fulfilling the purpose of the church (cf. Luke 24:47; Matt. 28:18-20; Acts 1:8).

6:28 "pray for those who mistreat you" If believers take offense or try to avenge themselves, they lose the blessing, the joy, the contentment. Anger, hatred, and other emotions of the flesh can rob even believers of peace and contentment. They can also open a spiritual door for Satan to attack. We must give the pain to God. Often our love breaks down the barriers and provides an opportunity for witnessing (cf. Rom. 12:14-21).

Our forgiveness releases a joy in us and guilt in the abusers!

6:29 "coat. . .shirt" The first word refers to the outer garment, which was used to sleep in. This was the garment that one who loaned money could keep during the daytime to ensure repayment of a loan in the OT (cf. Exod. 22:25-26; Deut. 24:10-17).

The second term refers to an inner garment worn close to the skin. They were of different lengths. It would be similar to our modern underwear, including a top and shorts.

6:31 This is the universal, positive principle that goes far beyond the OT admonition of Lev. 19:18. The Matthean parallel is 7:12 in which Matthew records Jesus saying that this attitude and action fulfills all the Law and the Prophets.

6:32-34 This is a series of conditional sentences (the first is a first class; the other two are third class) that compare our love to the world's love. Possibly in our day, some other examples would be more appropriate:

1. our forgiveness and love while we are driving

2. our help given to others without demanding receipts for a tax break

3. our love and prayers for other denominational groups

4. our help in picking up the neighbor's trash that has blown in our yard without making a big deal out of it

 

6:35 "love your enemies" This is another present active imperative, an ongoing command to believers (cf. Luke 6:32-34).

NASB"expecting nothing in return"
NKJV"hoping for nothing in return"
NRSV
(footnote)"despairing of no one"
TEV"expect nothing back"
NJB"without any hope of return"

The New Testament: An American Translation, by Edgar J. Goodspeed, has "never despairing." This same meaning is found in The RSV Interlinear Greek-English New Testament by Alfred Marshall, p. 251.

This word is found only here in the NT. Most English translations assert that the parallelism of "if you lend to those from whom you expect (hope – elpizō) to receive" in Luke 6:34 demands a synonym (cf. Louw and Nids, Greek-English Lexicon, vol. 1, p. 357), but this is a meaning that this word has in no ancient usage.

However, the word used in the Septuagint in the sense of "to despair" or "to be despaired" (cf. Isa. 29:19; II Macc. 9:18), and also in the same sense in the Egyptian papyri (cf. Moulton and Milligan, The Vocabulary of the Greek Testament, p. 56). It was a medical term for a terrible disease, gives credence to "despair."

Another option is that the phrase alludes to Lev. 25:35-36 relating to loaning money to a covenant partner at interest.

▣ "you will be sons of the Most High" We should exemplify the loving, giving family characteristics of God, not the self-centered, "me first" characteristics of (1) fallen humanity or (2) the evil one (cf. Luke 6:36; Matt. 5:45).

"for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men" What an extraordinary statement! Thank God there is no tit-for-tat in Him. The only hope for sinners is the unchanging, gracious, merciful, loving character of God (cf. Luke 6:36; Mal. 3:6).

6:36 This verse is a command (present middle [deponent] imperative) related to Luke 6:32-35. We are to live out before the world what we claim to believe and affirm. Actions speak louder than words.

The adjective "merciful" or "compassionate" is used only two times in the NT (cf. James 5:11, where it also describes God, cf. Rom. 12:11; 2 Cor. 1:3), but the noun is used several times where it describes what believers should be (cf. Phil. 2:1; Col. 3:12).

There is an interesting possibility that these words of Jesus, recorded in Luke 6:36, reflect the pseudo-Jonathan Targum of Leviticus 22:28, while the parallel in Matt. 5:48 reflects the Targum from Lev. 22:27 (cf. M. Black, An Aramaic Approach to the Gospels and Acts [3rd ed.], p. 181, which is mentioned in F. F. Bruce, The Books and the Parchments, p. 128). Jesus probably preached these sermons in Aramaic. Early church tradition claimed that "Q" (the sayings of Jesus used by Matthew and Luke) was written by Matthew in Aramaic.

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: LUKE 6:37-38
 37"Do not judge, and you will not be judged; and do not condemn, and you will not be condemned; pardon, and you will be pardoned. 38Give, and it will be given to you. They will pour into your lap a good measure—pressed down, shaken together, and running over. For by your standard of measure it will be measured to you in return."

6:37-39 This section deals with the same material recorded in Matthew 7, which speaks of our attitude toward others, within and without the family of God.

6:37 "Do not judge. . .do not condemn" These are two present active imperatives with the negative particle, which usually means to stop an act already in process. Christians have a tendency to be critical of one another. This verse is often quoted to prove that Christians should not judge each other at all. But, Matt. 7:5,6,15; 1 Cor. 5:1-12; and 1 John 4:1-6 show that Jesus was assuming that believers evaluate one another spiritually. One's attitude and motives are the keys (cf. Gal. 6:1; Rom. 2:1-11; 14:1-23; James 4:11-12).

The Greek word "judge" is the etymological source for our English word "critic." It seems to imply a critical, judgmental, self-righteous spirit which judges others more severely than it does itself. It emphasizes one set of sins over another set of sins. It excuses one's own faults, but will not excuse the faults of others (cf. 2 Sam. 12:1-9).

SPECIAL TOPIC: SHOULD CHRISTIANS JUDGE ONE ANOTHER?

"and you will not be judged. . .you will not be condemned" Both of these phrases have the strong double negative.

"pardon, and you will be pardoned" This is another present active imperative. The first two are negated, but this third and fourth are positive. Not only is the lack of judgment and condemnation crucial, but also the presence of forgiveness. This is similar to what God tells Job in chapter 42 about how he (Job) should act toward his three friends.

This verse contains a significant truth which was repeated quite often in the NT (cf. Matt. 5:7; 6:14-15; 18:35; Mark 4:24-25; 11:25; James 2:13; and 5:9). How believers act toward others is a reflection of how God has acted toward them. This is not meant to destroy the biblical truth of justification by faith. It is meant to emphasize the appropriate attitude and lifestyle of those who have been so freely forgiven. Eternal life has observable characteristics!

6:38 "it will be given to you" This is a metaphor from the commercial marketplace. Fairness and kindness result in fairness and kindness.

"they will pour into your lap" Marketers in this period would often carry dry goods (grain, flour, beans) in a fold in their robe, turned into a pocket by their belt.

▣ "by your standard of measure it will be measured to you" The number of parallels in Matthew using this maxim is startling (cf. Matt. 5:7; 6:14-15; 18:35). This was a familiar cultural proverb of the day.

The passive voice verbs are used throughout Luke 6:37-38 to denote God's activity in

1. judging

2. condemning

3. pardoning

4. giving

5. measuring

How we act toward others gives evidence of our relationship to God. We reap what we sow (cf. Gal. 6:7).

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: LUKE 6:39-45
 39 And He also spoke a parable to them: "A blind man cannot guide a blind man, can he? Will they not both fall into a pit? 40A pupil is not above his teacher; but everyone, after he has been fully trained, will be like his teacher. 41Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? 42Or how can you say to your brother, 'Brother, let me take out the speck that is in your eye,' when you yourself do not see the log that is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take out the speck that is in your brother's eye. 43For there is no good tree which produces bad fruit, nor, on the other hand, a bad tree which produces good fruit. 44For each tree is known by its own fruit. For men do not gather figs from thorns, nor do they pick grapes from a briar bush. 45The good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth what is good; and the evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth what is evil; for his mouth speaks from that which fills his heart."

6:39 "pit" This Greek term was used in the Septuagint for:

1. a grave, 2 Sam. 18:17

2. an animal trap, Isa. 24:17-18

It is only used three times in the NT. The Matthew passages (cf. Matt. 12:11; 15:14), as this passage in Luke, could refer to a ditch or well. The implication is that false teachers lead their followers to disaster and death.

6:39-40 There is some confusion about exactly how this teaching relates to the immediate context. Verse 39 is paralleled in Matt. 15:14 and Luke 6:40 in Matt. 10:24. Jesus often used the same illustrations in different ways and contexts. Grammatically the first question of Luke 6:39 expects a "no" answer, while the second question expects a "yes" answer.

6:40 Jesus lived what He taught. He was rejected in the midst of His love and ministry to the people. Jesus' followers will experience the same type of treatment in a fallen world. When we as believers (1) emulate our culture or (2) are fully accepted by our culture, that is a sure sign that we are not modeling Jesus' teachings. New Testament Christianity has never been socially acceptable. A selfish world is made uneasy by self-sacrifice and self-giving love!

NASB"has been fully trained"
NKJV"who is perfectly trained"
NRSV"who is fully qualified"
TEV"completed their training"
NJB"fully trained disciple"

This is a perfect passive participle of a term that means

1. baby chicks, old enough to be sold in the market as fryers

2. broken bones, now mended and the arm and leg can be used again

3. torn fishing nets, now repaired and capable of catching fish

4. a fully built ship, now equipped with sails and rigging, ready to sail

The term means fully equipped for the assigned task (cf. Eph. 4:12), or possibly restored to usefulness (cf. Gal. 6:1).

6:41-42 Jesus used humor and Oriental overstatement to convey the tremendously important message to religious people about criticism. This is one reason western literalists have interpreted His sayings so rigidly.

6:41 "speck" "Speck" was used by Classical Greek writers for the material that made up a bird's nest. Therefore, we are talking about bits of plant material and similar insignificant small items.

"do not see the log that is in your own eye" The "log" referred to some large piece of lumber, a building timber or rafter. Jesus often used this literary form of hyperbole to communicate spiritual truths (cf. Matt. 5:29-30; 19:24; 23:24).

6:42 "brother" In this context this word could refer to

1. other Jews (cf. Luke 14:12; Acts 2:29 [cf. Luke 6:22],37; 3:17; 7:2)

2. believers (cf. Luke 17:3; 22:32; Acts 1:15; 6:3)

 

▣ "hypocrite" This compound word came from the theatrical world and was used for an actor performing behind a mask. It came from two Greek words: "to judge" (krinō) and "under" (hupo). It described a person acting in one way, but being another (Luke 18:9). A good example of this kind of activity can be seen in the life of David (cf. 2 Sam. 12:1-9). Jesus used this term to describe the self-righteous Pharisees in Matt. 5:20; 6:2,5,16; 15:1,7; 23:13.

This verse implies the appropriateness of believers' concern for other Christians when it is not done in a condescending, self-righteous manner (cf. Rom. 14:1). The Church has always had to spiritually examine and exhort its leadership and membership.

SPECIAL TOPIC: HYPOCRITES

6:43-45 The parallel is in Matt. 7:16,20. Our actions reveal our hearts. Our actions reveal who our true father is (God or Satan). Our actions bring consequences, either positive or negative.

6:45 "for his mouth speaks from that which fills his heart" This is a powerful NT truth (cf. Matt. 12:34-35; 15:18).

SPECIAL TOPIC: HUMAN SPEECH

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: LUKE 6:46-49
 46"Why do you call Me, 'Lord, Lord,' and do not do what I say? 47Everyone who comes to Me and hears My words and acts on them, I will show you whom he is like: 48he is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid a foundation on the rock; and when a flood occurred, the torrent burst against that house and could not shake it, because it had been well built. 49But the one who has heard and has not acted accordingly, is like a man who built a house on the ground without any foundation; and the torrent burst against it and immediately it collapsed, and the ruin of that house was great."

6:46-47 Lip service only is not the essence of true discipleship (cf. Isa. 29:13; Matt. 7:21,22). Obedience which flows from a personal commitment is crucial. Obedience does not precede grace, but it does follow after it!

6:46 "Lord, Lord" The rabbis said that the doubling of a name shows affection (cf. Gen. 22:11).

The Greek word Kurios was used in several distinct ways in the first century. It could simply mean (1) "sir"; (2) "master"; (3) "owner"; or (4) "husband." But, in theological contexts, it is usually interpreted with its full meaning derived from the OT substitution of the Hebrew term adon (owner, master, husband, lord) when reading Scripture for the covenant name YHWH (cf. Exod. 3:14). See Special Topic at Luke 1:68. In this context these men were making a theological statement about Jesus, but did not have a personal relationship with Him (cf. Matt. 7:21-25). It is difficult at this early stage in Jesus' ministry to know how much theological weight to attach to this term. Peter uses it early as a theological title for Jesus (cf. Luke 5:8), as does this verse, where Jesus links one's verbal affirmations with obedience.

SPECIAL TOPIC: APOSTASY (APHISTĒMI)

▣ "hears My words and acts on them" This parable was unique to Matthew (Matt. 7:24-27) and Luke (Luke 6:47-49). This is similar to the connotation of the Hebrew word Shema of Deut. 6:1, where the word implies "to hear so as to do." Christianity involves

1. knowledge

2. personal response

3. a lifestyle of service

It is interesting that both builders are said to hear Jesus' words. Again, it looks as if the context of these warnings is religious people who have heard and responded at some level.

6:48-49 This ending is very similar to Matthew's conclusion of the Sermon on the Mount (cf. Matt. 7:26-27).

6:48 "because it had been well built" This corresponds to "dug deep and laid a foundation on the rock." This phrase is found in the ancient Greek manuscripts P75, א, B, L, and W (the UBS4 gives it an A rating). However, another phrase was taken from the Matthew parallel (cf. Luke 7:25) and very early was substituted for the Lukan phrase (cf. MSS A, C, D, and the Vulgate). Many of these scribal additions happened very early in the period of hand copying these texts. Here is a good example. Manuscript P75 is from the early third century, while MS A (Alexandrinus) is from the fifth century.

I want to remind you that none of the ancient Greek manuscripts of the NT (over 5,000) completely agree with each other, but the differences really affect no major doctrine. The NT is the best preserved text from the ancient world. We can trust that it faithfully communicates God's truth to us who believe and obey! Within the Greek manuscripts we have the original words. Nothing has been lost! We are just not sure which reading is original.

 

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

This is a study guide commentary, which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

These discussion questions are provided to help you think through the major issues of this section of the book. They are meant to be thought-provoking, not definitive.

1. Why does Jesus continue to challenge the religious leaders on the subject of the oral traditions concerning the Sabbath?

2. Why do the lists of the names of the disciples vary?

3. Why is the Sermon on the Mount so different from the Sermon on the Plain?

4. What is the purpose of the Sermon on the Plain in its Lukan context?