In this chapter, Jesus is Lord of the Sabbath. He heals a man with a withered hand on the Sabbath. After praying all night, he calls the twelve. He teaches the Sermon on the Plain or high place.
As I say in every chapter:
This commentary and entire website is for everyone, but it is mainly for those in oppressed or developing countries, where Christians cannot afford or have access to wonderful Study Bibles or commentaries. I hope it helps them.
The commentary has a practical application (GrowApp) at the end of each section of Scripture, for discipleship.
The translation is mine. It is not better than the published ones. I offer it only to learn what the Greek really says. If you would like to see other translations, please go to biblegateway.com.
The Greek terms with brief definitions can be looked up at biblehub.com. However, I hope to bring different nuances to the few words I focus on. And I keep things nontechnical.
Links are provided for further study.
Jesus Is Lord of the Sabbath (Luke 6:1-5)
1 It happened that on the Sabbath he was going through grain fields, and his disciples were plucking heads of grain and rubbing them with their hands and eating them. 2 But some Pharisees said, “Why do you do what is unlawful on the Sabbath?” 3 In reply to them, Jesus said, “Have you not read that which David did, when he and his companions were hungry, 4 how he went into the house of God and took and ate the consecrated bread, which was not lawful to eat except for the priests alone, and gave it to those with him?” 5 And he proceeded to tell them, “The Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.”
The law allowed for a man to walk through his neighbor’s grain field and pluck the heads with his hands for a little food, but not with a sickle (Deut. 23:25). But the disciples were doing this on the Sabbath.
The Sabbath is the fourth commandment of the Ten Commandments (Exod. 20:8-11 and Deut. 5:12-15), but those verses do not describe how to keep it. In Num. 15:32-36, people found a man gathering wood, and Moses ordered them to stone him to death. So what kind of interpretations can come from that illegal act and punishment? Was plucking heads of grain the same thing? But the disciples—not Jesus, incidentally—were eating them, so does that excuse them, since they were saving their own lives (if we stretch things)? Apparently not, because healing on the Sabbath was questionable behavior, too (Luke 6:6-11). Or in the next passage, maybe the man with the withered hand was not in a life-or-death situation, while the disciples were.
Here are the Mishnah’s thirty-nine categories of work that were not allowed. This comes from the second century, but it does reflect the times of Jesus:
- Sowing, plowing, reaping, binding sheaves, threshing, winnowing, selecting, grinding, sifting, kneading, and baking.
- Shearing wool, bleaching, hackling, dyeing, spinning, stretching the threads, the making of two meshes, weaving two threads, dividing two threads, tying [knotting] and untying, sewing two stitches, and tearing in order to sew two stitches.
- Capturing a deer, slaughtering, or flaying, or salting it, curing its hide, scraping it [of its hair], cutting it up, writing two letters, and erasing in order to write two letters [over the erasure].
- Building, pulling down, extinguishing, kindling, striking with a hammer, and carrying out from one domain to another.
These are the forty primary labors less one.
The rest of the tractate at another source goes on to define the parameters more precisely.
Religious teachers debated these issues endlessly. In effect, these strict teachers of the law said it was better that people should virtually do nothing on the Sabbath. It is better to be safe than sorry, to be severe and austere than risk too much questionable behavior before a holy God. This is called building a wall or fence around the Torah, so that people would not really break the Torah, but the traditions. Problem: the extra-rules became so strict that people felt oppressed.
And plucking and rubbing and eating and walking on the Sabbath was just too risky, as if the disciples were harvesting, like the executed man had been gathering (= harvesting?) wood. Jesus and his crew were walking on the tightrope between breaking the Sabbath and breaking the interpretations of the religious leaders. Today we could perhaps argue over whether Jesus really did break it from a human point of view, but not from a divine one, because he was Lord of the Sabbath.
The goal in these rules is to build a wall around the Torah, which does not specify what keeping or breaking the Sabbath was (one man was stoned to death for collecting wood in Num. 15:32-36). So if a man did any of those activities, he would not be stoned to death. The goal may have been noble, but the rules and strictures kept building and accumulating, become oppressive. The Pharisees and teachers of the law “are only interested in saddling him with the charge of Sabbath breaker, an offense worthy of death (Exod. 31:14). In their zeal to protect the law, they do not use it to set captives free but to bind them ever tighter. They have no power to heal, only to deal out death” (Garland, comment on 6:6-7).
In church debates today, we question flashing lights, worship leaders bouncing on the platform, and tight clothes women (and men) wear, particularly the women who dance, and holey jeans. Just now on Christian TV a woman was speaking on the platform and wore extra-tight pants. Right or wrong? Holey = unholy? That depends on how strict you are. Extra-strict believers say innovation is wrong, while the “freer” ones say go for it. These issues have to be hammered out about every decade.
“disciples”: the noun is mathētēs (singular and pronounced mah-they-tayss), and it is used 261 times in the NT, though many of them are duplicates in the three synoptic Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke. BDAG is considered by many to be the authoritative Greek lexicon of the NT, and it says of the noun (1) “one who engages in learning through instruction from another, pupil, apprentice”; (2) “one who is rather constantly associated with someone who has a pedagogical reputation or a particular set of views, disciple, adherent.”
Apparently, the Pharisees were following Jesus’s company around, or maybe the Pharisees saw them at the edge of the grainfield and were waiting for them to come out. Stalking, anyone?
“Since they are his disciples, they are seen as following his example” (Bock, p. 523). So in the Pharisees accusing his disciples, they are criticizing Jesus.
“Pharisees”: You can learn more about them in this post:
They were the Watchdogs of Theology and Behavior (cf. Garland, p. 243). The problem which Jesus had with them can be summed up in Eccl. 7:16: “Be not overly righteous.” He did not quote that verse, but to him they were much too enamored with the finer points of the law, while neglecting its spirit (Luke 11:37-52; Matt. 23:1-36). Instead, he quoted this verse from Hos. 6:6: “Go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’ For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners” (Matt. 9:13; 12:7, ESV). Overdoing righteousness damages one’s relationship with God and others.
“Sabbath”: it is in the plural, but most translators just have it in the singular, “Sabbath.” Lexicons and grammarians point out that Luke and other biblical authors used the plural (Luke 4:16, 4:31, 6:2, 13:10, 24:1) and singular (13 times) interchangeably (Culy, Parsons, and Stigall, p. 132). We should not interpret the plural to mean he regularly tweaked the traditions of the Pharisees on all the Sabbath days. Some Sabbaths were uneventful, without conflict.
On the consecrated bread, see Lev. 24:5-9. It was the bread of the Presence (of the Lord). Twelve loaves were stacked up in two stacks of six, put out fresh each Sabbath. Indeed only the priests were allowed to eat it.
The story of David and his men doing this is found in 1 Samuel 21:1-6 and 22:9-10. In the first passage, David is not shown to have entered the tabernacle, but neither is he said to stand outside. Jesus is paraphrasing the scene in the OT. David did break the rule. The logic is obvious: David was the greatest king, and the Pharisees were much less than he, so they should stop judging Jesus and his disciples. If you condemn the disciples, you should condemn the greatest king. Jesus is greater than his accusers. It was David as David who took action, and now Jesus places his own authority on the same level as David’s. Jesus is acting outside of religious tradition, and the leaders of this tradition resented it. Luke will later say that Jesus is greater than David (Luke 20:41-44). He had to go—be killed, eliminated.
Jesus is arguing from analogy. “In effect, the argument becomes, ‘If you condemn my disciples on this one, you also condemn David and his men!’ … Jesus’ point is clear: in the OT, there is an apparent violation by David. Even if the details are not the same, the key principle makes the point … The law should not restrict people in their basic tasks, but should encourage them, in the case of the Sabbath, to honor the day. There are situations in which the law can be waived or transcended. David and his men had such a moment. Such a situation faces the disciples. One can overdraw the law’s scope. By mentioning the men with David, Jesus’ establishes the link to the disciples” (Bock, p. 525).
In an extra-strict religious environment, this is a remarkable statement. In these few words, first he says that he is greater than David, because in 1 Sam. 21:1-6 David submitted to the priest Ahimelek and asked for food. Ahimelek gave the bread to David, who did not refuse it, even though he knew it was consecrated. However, David never said that he was the Lord of the consecrated bread and of Lev. 24:5-9. Second, Jesus proclaimed that he was the Lord of the Sabbath, when that sacred day is listed in the mighty Ten Commandments. He owned the Sabbath; it did not own him. He stood above the Sabbath, it did not hang over his head like the sword of Damocles.
For a little apologetics on David and Ahimelek, see my post on Matt. 12:1-8.
In any case, Jesus’s declaration must have stunned the Pharisees to silence.
“Son of Man”: it both means the powerful, divine Son of man (Dan. 7:13-14) and the human son of man—Ezekiel himself—in the book of Ezekiel (numerous references). Jesus was and still is in heaven both divine and human.
GrowApp for Luke 6:1-5
A.. Have extra-strict strict religious church members ever made you feel uncomfortable? How? What did you do?
B.. Study Rom. 14:5-6 and Col. 2:16-17. Must New Covenant believers keep the Sabbath by law? What about by their free choice?
Jesus Heals a Man with Withered Hand on Sabbath (Luke 6:6-11)
6 And so it happened on another Sabbath that he went into the synagogue and taught. And a man was there, and his right hand was withered. 7 The teachers of the law and Pharisees were watching him maliciously, whether he would heal on the Sabbath, in order to discover some way to accuse him. 8 But he knew their reasonings. He said to the man having a withered hand, “Get up and stand here in the middle!” 9 Then Jesus said to them, “I ask you: is it lawful to do good or to do bad, to save a life or destroy it, on the Sabbath?” 10 He looked around at them and said to him, “Stretch out your hand!” He did so, and his hand was restored. 11 They were filled with fury and began to speak among themselves what they might do to Jesus.
Here are posts repeated here from the previous passage:
No, it is not commanded for believers in union with Christ to keep the Sabbath. However, if they want to do this voluntarily without the command hanging over their heads (in Num. 15:32-36 a man was stoned to death for violating the Sabbath), then they may certainly do so. But this does make them first-class kingdom citizens and the rest of second-class kingdom citizens,
“taught”: it is the verb didaskō (pronounced dee-dahs-koh). The verb means to instruct or tell or teach (BDAG), some times in a formal setting like a classroom or another confined setting, other times in a casual setting. Here he was in a formal setting, the synagogue. He spoke with authority, unlike the teachers of the law and Pharisees (Luke 4:32; Matt. 7:28-29). This is what the Spirit does through a surrendered heart and mind. It was his habit and custom to enter their synagogues and teach the people (see 4:15). He combined a teaching and healing ministry. His insight into Scripture was profound, unlike many healer-teachers today (by my observation).
“Someone sick or crippled, without life being threatened, could wait a day for treatment” (Bock, p. 528).
The rabbis allowed healing to be done on the Sabbath, but only when a life was in danger, a baby was being born, or circumcision on the eighth day (Bock, p. 528). This man’s disability fit none of those exceptions.
“teachers of the law”: They are also called scribes in some translations.
“Pharisees”: see v. 2 for more comments.
You can learn more about them here:
“watching … maliciously”: it is the verb paratēreō (pronounced pah-rah-tay-reh-oh), and it is built on para– (alongside, near) and tēreō (keep or watch). Picture watchdogs sitting right by you and glowering at you. So it means, “watch closely, observe carefully … watch (maliciously), lie in wait for … watch one’s opportunity … watch, guard ….” The Shorter Lexicon suggests “watch (maliciously)” for v. 7 here. Anger is building in the religious leaders, the Watchdogs of Theology and Behavior.
“heal”: the verb is therapeuō (pronounced thair-ah-pew-oh, our word therapy is related to it), and it means to “make whole, restore, heal, cure, care for.” Here the healing is instant.
“on the Sabbath”: see the comments on vv. 1-2.
“some way”: this is added, for the Greek literally reads, “in order to discover to accuse him.” But the Greek has to make sense in English.
“accuse”: the verb is katēgoreō (pronounced kah-tay-gor-eh-oh), and it combines the prefix kata– (down) and the verb agoreuō (pronounced ah-go-rew-oh), which speaks of the public forum, so the context is in public, specifically in the synagogue here. The verb agoreuō means “to speak in the assembly, harangue … speak ill of someone” (Liddell and Scott). Combine it with the prefix and you get “speak down to” or just “accuse.”
One could save a life on the Sabbath if a life was threatened by a burglar (Bock, vol. 1, p. 528), for example, but that’s an extreme case that does not apply here. The disabled man’s life was not literally threatened, but his quality of life was.
Jesus was supremely confident in his and his Father’s and the Spirit’s ability to heal, and that’s why he told the man to stand in the middle of them. He was the Anointed One.
“reasoning”: it is the noun dialogismos (pronounced dee-ah-loh-gees-mos, and the “g” is hard). It means, depending on the context, (1) “thought, opinion, reasoning, design” or (2) “doubt, dispute, argument.” Recall that Simeon prophesied that Jesus would reveal the hearts of many (Luke 2:35 and see 4:23 and 5:21). And here it was happening again.
Jesus is about to do good on the Sabbath. A third option was to do nothing, or so it seems, but then this is the same as not saving a life, and subsequently letting the life go away and gradually destroy itself. “And just as you want people to treat you, treat them likewise” (Luke 6:31; see Matt. 7:12). This is more commonly known as “Do unto others and you want them to do to you.” The law and prophets are summed up on that counsel (Matt. 7:12). The main point: Be active in doing good to others.
“Do good” and “do bad” are two compound words, like this: “good-do” and “bad-do,” just a little coloring of the original language!
“save”: The verb is sōzō (pronounced soh-zoh and used 106 times in the NT), which means “save, rescue, heal” in a variety of contexts, but mostly it is used of saving the soul. Here it means saving or healing the body.
Since the theology of salvation (soteriology) is so critical for our lives, let’s look more closely at the noun salvation, which is sōtēria (pronounced soh-tay-ree-ah and used 46 times) and at the verb sōzō.
Greek is the language of the NT. BDAG defines the noun sōtēria as follows, depending on the context: (1) “deliverance, preservation” … (2) “salvation.”
The verb sōzō means “save, rescue, heal” in a variety of contexts, but mostly it is used of saving the soul. BDAG says that the verb means, depending on the context: (1) “to preserve or rescue from natural dangers and afflictions, save, keep from harm, preserve,” and the sub-definitions under no. 1 are as follows: save from death; bring out safely; save from disease; keep, preserve in good condition; thrive, prosper, get on well; (2) “to save or preserve from transcendent danger or destruction, save or preserve from ‘eternal’ death … “bring Messianic salvation, bring to salvation,” and in the passive voice it means “be saved, attain salvation”; (3) some passages in the NT say we fit under the first and second definition at the same time (Mark 8:5; Luke 9:24; Rom. 9:27; 1 Cor. 3:15).
Another rarer verb is diasōzō (pronounced dee-ah-soh-zoh and used 8 times), and the prefix means “through.” Here are the occurrences: Mark 14:36; Luke 7:3; Acts 23:24; 27:43-44; 28:1, 4; 2; 1 Pet. 3:20. It means what the regular verb does, but often to be rescued through and up to the very end, like Paul’s ship landing on Malta after going through the storm.
As noted throughout this commentary on Luke-Acts, the noun salvation and the verb save go a lot farther than just preparing the soul to go on to heaven. Together, they have additional benefits: keeping and preserving and rescuing from harm and dangers; saving or freeing from diseases and demonic oppression; and saving or rescuing from sin dominating us; ushering into heaven and rescuing us from final judgment. What is our response to the gift of salvation? You are grateful and then you are moved to act. When you help or rescue one man from homelessness or an orphan from his oppression, you have moved one giant step towards salvation of his soul. Sometimes feeding a hungry man and giving clothes to the naked or taking him to a medical clinic come before saving his soul.
All of it is a package called salvation and being saved.
“destroy”: it comes from the verb apollumi (pronounced ah-poh-loo-mee), and it means, depending on the context: (1) “to cause or experience destruction (active voice) ruin, destroy”; (middle voice) “perish, be ruined”; (2) “to fail to obtain what one expects or anticipates, lose out on, lose”; (3) “to lose something that one already has or be separated from a normal connection, lose, be lost” (BDAG). The Shorter Lexicon adds “die.” Here it seems to mean to allow a life to be destroyed by inaction.
“life”: it is the noun psuchē (pronounced ps-oo-khay, and be sure to pronounce the ps-, and our word psychology comes from it). It can mean, depending on the context: “soul, life” and it is hard to draw a firm line between the two. “Breath, life principle, soul”; “earthly life”; “the soul as seat and center of the inner life of man in its many and varied aspects, desires, feelings, emotions”; “self’; or “that which possesses life, a soul, creature, person.”
A little theology:
Most Renewalists believe in the three parts of humanity: body, soul and spirit (1 Thess. 5:23 and Heb. 4:12 and other verses). Other Renewalists believe that we are two parts: body and soul / spirit (2 Cor. 4:16). Spirit and soul are just synonyms, like heart and spirit / soul are synonyms. Surely there are not now four parts, are there (body, soul, spirit, heart)?
Here in this verse, however, it means life.
The religious leaders had been watching him maliciously (v. 7); in contrast, the verb here is blepō (pronounced bleh-poh), plus the prefix peri– or “around,” so “looked around.” There is no malice built into the word, but one senses Jesus was defiant, righteously angry. Jesus is again confident when he commanded the man to stretch out his hand. “Stretch out your hand!” Wow!
“restored”: it is the verb apokathistēmi (pronounced ah-poh-kah-thees-tay-mee), and the apo– prefix has the connotation here to reciprocate. The stem histēmi means to “put, place, set bring, put forward, establish, confirm, cause to stand” (and so on). Then the preposition kata– (down) is added, as if to lay it down and establish it. All together the verb apokathisēmi means “restore, reestablish … cure, be cured … bring back, restore.” It is a great word choice on Luke’s part. The man’s hand was returned and reestablished and restored back to normal. Never accept as normal what is clearly abnormal. Pray!
“fury”: it is the noun anoia (pronounced ah-noi-ah), and the prefix a– is the negation, and the noi– stem is connected to mind. They were in a mindless emotion, in a rage and fury. It could also be translated in some contexts as foolish, which makes sense, given the prefix and stem. But not here. Their reaction was a mindless rage. They lived in an honor-and-shame society, and Jesus shamed them in public, which they so richly deserved. (Please note that in this context shame does not mean a psychological state that comes from abuse.) It means your opponents lost the public tussle, and they deserved it, because they had attacked you.
Never doubt that Jesus would not give an inch to his opponents. Many teachers say to believers today that they should just cower and let the bullies run all over them, because that is what Jesus did at his trial. Please, note, however, that he could have called twelve legions of angels at the moments of his arrest, but he did not (Matt. 26:53). At the end of his life, he did surrender to the will of God. He did keep silent, except a few times.
In contrast, during his ministry, he did not cower or surrender. He fought back. His growing movement and lives were at stake. If he let his opponents get away with their criticism, his silence could have been misinterpreted as weakness, so he would not have been worthy to be followed. The listeners would have gone home, and rightly. “He’s not sure of his own message? He lets the religious leaders walk all over him? He’s not the Messiah!” Often silence can be misinterpreted as agreement. And if the sparring match is over eternal truths (as distinct from nonessential issues), don’t give in to your erroneous and broken opponents.
No, don’t be rude or contemptuous or defiant or stubborn, especially when you don’t know very much of Scripture or basic doctrine or particularly to your pastor who has a good heart and knows the Word. But if the Scripture is really, really clear, be firm and resolute about your interpretation of such issues as healing is for today or Christ is the Lord, or sin should not be accepted in the church, despite the culture’s pressure to compromise (e.g. about same-sex marriages).
GrowApp for Luke 6:6-11
A.. Have you ever had to break with religious tradition? How did the traditionalists react? What did you do?
B.. Jesus was confident and bold in his public healing. Have you even been bold or confident in public for the Lord in your own circumstance? If not, why not? If you have, what happened?
Jesus Selects the Twelve (Luke 6:12-16)
12 And so it happened in those days that he went up to the mountain to pray, and he spent the night in prayer to God. 13 And when day came, he called for his disciples and selected from them twelve, whom he also called apostles: 14 Simon, whom he nicknamed Peter, and Andrew his brother, and James and John, and Philip and Bartholomew 15 and Matthew, Thomas, and James, son of Alphaeus, and 16 Judas, son of James, and Simon called the Zealot, and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor.
“In the face of rising opposition, the rest of Luke 6 narrates Jesus’ organizing of disciples” (Bock. p. 537). After his healing fireworks in the synagogue, by which he angered his opponents (vv. 6-11), he needed to get away, as he had done before (5:16). He was about to make a momentous decision.
Spending all night in prayer to be alone and intimate with his Father is remarkable. He was God incarnate, himself. He already had a deep connection with his Father. And the Holy Spirit was upon him in Messianic proportions. All this goes to show that if he needed to get away and pray all night, how much more do we need a regular prayer life. We may not be called to pull and “all-nighter,” but regular prayers are a blessing in our lives. I wonder how the disciple felt about his absence? They probably just slept.
“pray”: As noted in Luke 1:10, and elsewhere throughout this commentary series, it is the very common verb proseuchomai (pronounced pros-yew-khoh-my) and appears 85 times. The noun proseuchē (pronounced pros-yew-khay) is used 36 times, so they are the most common words for prayer or pray in the NT. They are combined with the preposition pros, which means, among other things, “towards,” and euchē, which means a prayer, vow and even a mere wish. But Christians took over the word and directed it towards the living God; they leaned in toward him and prayed their requests fully expecting an answer. It is not a mere wish to a pagan deity.
Prayer flows out of confidence before God that he will answer because we no longer have an uncondemned heart (1 John 3:19-24); and we know him so intimately that we find out from him what is his will is and then we pray according to it (1 John 5:14-15); we pray with our Spirit-inspired languages (1 Cor. 14:15-16). Pray!
Jesus prayed throughout the night praying just before he chose his disciples. There’s a clear lesson for us in this section of Scripture.
Then the big day came. For some odd reason, I had thought the twelve alone were following him. But no, he chose twelve from among his disciples. So many were on the “Jesus Trail,” journeying with him (see v. 17). If Matthew and Levi were not the same person, as many scholars believe, I wonder how he felt when he was not chosen (see Luke 5:27-28; Matt. 9:9)? But I believe they were the same.
“disciples”: See v. 1 for further comments. How many disciples were following him more closely than the large crowd (v. 17)? He had already sent out the twelve (Luke 9:1-6). He sent out seventy-two “others” (Luke 10:1-24). This seems to say that there were seventy-two in addition to the twelve, making eighty-four disciples. Wow! So in just a year or two, he could entrust his mission to eighty-four of them. This leader—Jesus the Messiah—must have been a great discipler or disciple maker. Eighty-four disciples who could handle the job in such a short time would be every pastor’s dream today.
Key point: the rabbinic text, the Mishnah, says, “the one sent by the man is as the man himself” (m.Ber. 5.5 in Bock, p. 542). The apostles were sent in the authority of Jesus and were like him in the sense of preaching the gospel of the kingdom and doing his works.
I have already written an article about the different lists of names in Matthew, Mark and Luke and Acts and the meaning of their names:
There are these twelve, who shall judge the twelve tribes of Israel (Matt. 19:28) and whose names will be written on the foundation stones of the New Jerusalem (Rev. 21:14). This special office can never be duplicated. These twelve have a unique vocation and commission.
However, in the NT there are a lower order of apostles. Barnabas was called an apostle (Acts 14:14); Andronicus and Junia (a woman) were probably apostles, depending how one reads the Greek (Rom. 16:7) (I say they were). Certain brothers, including Titus, were called apostles (2 Cor. 8:23). Epaphroditus was an apostle (Phil. 2:25). Things that mark an apostle are signs, wonders, and miracles (2 Cor. 12:12), and men who were not numbered among the twelve could do them (Luke 10:9). Even Philip, who was titled an evangelist could do them (Acts 8:4-13). Surely other men, whose ministries went unrecorded, could claim to do them without being an evangelist (Mark 16:17-18). They could possibly be considered apostles, but their lives are unknown to us, so let’s not draw far-reaching conclusions about them specifically.
The point to the linked post is that the lower order of apostles is open to certain men and women today, but be warned! Anyone who claims the title must be checked out, especially if he gave himself this title or allowed some “yes men” to call him an apostle.
GrowApp for Luke 6:12-16
A.. Jesus got away to pray. How is your prayer life?
B.. Jesus knew the twelve by name. He knows your name, personally. What does this mean to you?
Jesus Ministers to Crowd of Disciples and Multitudes (Luke 6:17-19)
17 He came down with them and stood on a level place, and a large crowd of his disciples and a large crowd of the people from all of Judea and Jerusalem and the district of Tyre and Sidon 18 came to listen to him and to be healed from their diseases, and those troubled by unclean spirits were healed. 19 And the entire multitude was trying to touch him because power came out of him and healed them.
I was surprised—as if I saw it for the first time—that Jesus began his extended teaching after he healed the sick and expelled demons. The word and signs and wonders go together and reveal the inbreaking of the kingdom. But Renewalists must combine teaching and ministry together without leaving one part behind. Bock: “A key note is struck in reference to the curing of demon possessed people … The picture is a great spiritual battle with spiritual forces. Jesus fights the spiritual forces that seek to destroy humanity” (p. 565).
This launches his Sermon the Plain, which begins at v. 19. Not enough information is given to know where this sermon took place. I believe that the Sermon of the Plain or Plateau is a different teaching from the Sermon on the Mount. Every teacher knows that variations on repeated themes happen (see vv. 20-21).
Judea and Jerusalem were in the south, and Tyre and Sidon in the far north, on the Mediterranean coast.
His listeners: the apostles, the disciples, and the people.
“disciples”: see v. 1 for more comment.
“healed”: this verb is iaomai (pronounced ee-ah-oh-my), and it means, unsurprisingly, “healed, cure, restore.” The noun, incidentally, is iasis (pronounced ee-ah-seess), and it means “healing, cure.” The noun is used three times: Luke 13:22; Acts 4:22, 30. In other words, only Luke uses the noun.
“diseases”: it is the noun nosos (pronounced naw-sauce), and BDAG says it means (1) “physical malady, disease, illness”; (2) “moral malady, disease.” In the Greek written long before the NT (and during NT times), it means (1) “sickness, disease, malady” (2) “distress, misery, suffering, sorrow, evil, disease of mind” (Liddell and Scott). Don’t be afraid to pray against diseases of the mind or moral diseases. Pray, and watch God work in your mind or your child’s mind! Here it just means physical diseases.
“troubling”: it is the verb enochleō, and it means “trouble, annoy, cause trouble” (Luke 6:18 and Heb. 12:10 and used only in those two verses). Demons cause trouble in the mind and body. Rebuke them in Jesus’s name, and they will leave (see the next term, “healed”).
“healed”: the second verb is therapeuō, and see v. 7 for more comments. It is interesting that people with evil spirits needed healing. It is best to fill the former victim with Scripture, so he can resist Satan, just like Jesus did at his temptation (Luke 4:1-13). Teaching him to submit to God (Jas. 4:7).
In the subject of systematic theology, please see these post for a more developed theology about Satan and demons:
See my posts about Satan in the area of systematic theology:
“entire multitude”: it is stunning that every person in the crowd—or maybe Luke is making a generalized statement. But it is still stunning that people thronged him to be healed. I wonder how he felt about it. He must have had compassion on them (Matt. 1:43; 14:14; 15:32; Mark 1:41; 6:34; 8:2). But I still wonder whether this wore him out, since he had to get away and pray (Luke 5:16; 6:12).
“trying”: it could be translated as “seeking,” which is in the imperfect tense because the action was continuous (imperfect means incomplete action). The crowd did not act only once, all together. As he walked through them they reached out to touch him.
“touch”: it is the verb haptō (pronounced hahp-toh), and in this context it means “touch for a blessing or healing.” So your reaching out to Jesus must have a purpose—blessing and healing. It is interesting that they reached out to him, but I can imagine that he also touched their hands, as well.
“power”: it is the noun dunamis (or dynamis) (pronounced doo-na-mees or dee-na-mis, but most teachers prefer the first one). It is often translated as “power,” but also “miracle” or “miraculous power.” It means power in action, not static, but kinetic. It moves. Yes, we get our word dynamite from it, but God is never out of control, like dynamite is. Its purpose is to usher in the kingdom of God and repair and restore broken humanity, both in body and soul. For nearly all the references of that word and a developed theology, please click on:.
“healed”: it is again the verb therapeuō, and see v. 7 for more comments.
Let’s take a step back and look at vv. 18-19. Those verses qualify to be the favorite ones of Renewalists who go for healing. God’s power, they say, can come out in a special way and manifest healing power. It is difficult to argue with them from their point of view, two thousand years later. Jesus, however, was God in the flesh, so he was able to heal in special atmospheres or in ordinary atmospheres, as he cooperated with the Father and the Spirit. Yet, I still wonder whether the crowds of people did not have a certain level of their own faith. Now great healings—spirit, soul and body—were about to happen. However, today, healing evangelists take this idea of “the power came out of him” too far. They have super-intense worship and wait and wait until something “clicks” or “pops.” The evangelist is usually up front guiding the audience with flash and showiness. Message: “I’m the anointed one! The power flows through me!”
In contrast, we need to calm down the intensity and dial down the volume, for God is always there, eager to bless his people with healing and forgiveness of sins. We don’t need to go through intense magical rituals to drag a reluctant God down from heaven. He is our loving Father, not an erratic genie or mean butler.
I don’t like to say it, but I believe that if a healing evangelist had this much power coming out of him, he would become arrogant and raise money from bottling up this power. (I would probably do the same or be severely tempted to grab the attention and raise money from this power.) That is one reason why healing virtue does not flow like this, though I concede that sometimes healing power does come out of some of them some of the time. But so far, I have never seen so much power coming out of a healing evangelist, such that that crowds throng him, and everyone gets healed and delivered just by touching him.
Once again, it is an amazing and humbling passage for us Renewalists who believe that healing happens today.
GrowApp for Luke 6:17-19
A.. Study Heb. 13:8. Jesus healed powerfully back in his day. Does he still heal today?
B.. Do you have a miracle healing story or know of one? How did you respond? Please share it.
Blessings and Woes (Luke 6:20-26)
20 And after he made close eye contact with his disciples, he began to say:
Blessed are the poor because the kingdom of God is yours.
21 Blessed are those who hunger now because you will be satisfied.
Blessed are the ones weeping now because you will laugh.
22 Blessed are you when people hate you and exclude you and shame and insult your name as evil because of the Son of Man. 23 Rejoice on that day and leap around, for look! Your reward in heaven is huge, for in the same way their ancestors treated the prophets.
24 On the other side, woe to you rich because you are receiving your comfort!
25 Woe to you who have been filled up now because you shall be hungry!
Woe to those who are laughing now because you will mourn and weep!
26 Woe to you when everyone treats you well! In the same way their ancestors treated false prophets!
So begins the Sermon on the Plain. It resembles the Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 5-7), but there are enough variations and differences between them that some scholars say they are two different sermons, with some overlap, just as professors go over similar material in different semesters but vary their lectures somewhat. I agree.
The grammarians and commentators say we should translate the verb “lifting up” his eyes as “he made close eye contact” It carries the connotation that he was concerned for their specific needs. I like that.
“disciples”: see v. 1 for further comments. He was speaking to a crowd of his disciples and the people. He must have seen that the commoners were not getting rich and feasting on rich foods, like the rich Roman occupiers and the rich Jews who profited from the occupation and from just owning so much of the land.
“kingdom of God”: What is it? As noted in other verses that mention the kingdom in this commentary, the kingdom is God’s power, authority, rule, reign and sovereignty. He exerts all those things over all the universe but more specifically over the lives of people. It is his invisible realm, and throughout the Gospels Jesus is explaining and demonstrating what it looks like before their very eyes and ears. It is gradually being manifested from the realm of faith to the visible realm, but it is not political in the human sense. It is a secret kingdom because it does not enter humanity with trumpets blaring and full power and glory. This grand display will happen when Jesus comes back. In his first coming, it woos people to surrender to it. We can enter God’s kingdom by being born again (John 3:3, 5), by repenting (Matt. 4:17; Mark 1:5), by having the faith of children (Matt. 18:4; Mark 10:14-15), by being transferred from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of the Son whom God loves (Col. 1:13), and by seeing their own poverty and need for the kingdom (Matt. 5:3; Luke 6:20; Jas. 2:5).
It also includes the Great Reversal in Luke 1:51-53, where Mary said that Jesus and his kingdom were to bring it the world. The powerful and people of high status are to be brought low, while the humble and those of low status are to be raised up. It also fulfills the reversal in 2:34, where Simeon prophesied that Jesus was appointed for the rising and falling of many. It is the right-side-up kingdom, but upside-down from a worldly perspective. Jesus would cause the fall of the mighty and the rise of the needy, and the rich would be lowered, and the poor raised up. It is the down elevator and up elevator. Those at the top will take the down elevator, and those at the bottom will take the up elevator.
Here it is the already and not-yet. The kingdom has already come in part at his First Coming, but not yet with full manifestation and glory and power until his Second Coming.
1 Introducing the Kingdom of God (begin a ten-part series)
“blessed”: it is an adjective or descriptor of who we are in Christ. This section is called the Beatitudes, from Latin beatitudo, “happiness, blessedness.” But Luke wrote in Greek, not Latin. He begins those verses with the word “blessed” for emphasis. The more common adjective, which appears here in vv. 20-22, is makarios (pronounced mah-kah-ree-oss) and is used 50 times. It has an extensive meaning: “happy” or “fortunate” or “privileged” (Mounce, pp. 67-71).
Let’s look more deeply at it.
The Old Testament was written in Hebrew (and Aramaic), and the main word for blessing is the verb barak, used 327 times throughout the Hebrew Bible: Genesis 76 times, Deuteronomy 40 times, and Psalms 76 times. Each time it is people-related. The noun is beraka, used 71 times, and “denotes the pronouncement of good things on the recipient or the collection of good things” (Mounce, p. 70).
Any synonyms of makarios? The New Testament was written in Greek, and the verb is eulogeō (pronounced yew-loh-geh-oh, and the “g” is hard as in “get”), which is used 41 times and means to “bless, thank, or praise.” The adjective eulogētos (pronounced yew-loh-gay-toss, and the “g” is hard), which is used 8 times, means “blessed, praised.” The noun is eulogia (pronounced yew-lo-gee-ah, the “g” is hard, and we get our word eulogy from it), and is used 16 times. It means to “speak well.” It is mostly translated as “praise.” The log– stem is rich in Greek, and it can include speaking a word. So speak blessing to yourself and to others. Jesus is now speaking it over you.
“the kingdom of God”: What is the kingdom?
As noted in other verses in this commentary, in Psalm 103 David proclaimed: “The Lord has established his throne in heaven, and his kingdom rules over all (v. 19, NIV). This verse seems universal in scope, and not just confined to Israel ruled by earthly kings. Jesus said we need to pray that God’s kingdom would come and be manifested before everyone’s eyes (cf. Luke 11:2 and Matt. 6:10). So how do we resolve the tension that says the kingdom rules over all, yet Jesus’s command that we pray that the kingdom would come? One answer is that Jesus intends for us to pray for the kingdom to be manifest manifested right before everyone’s eyes now through the ministry of Jesus and his Spirit empowered church (Acts 1 and 2). But what is the kingdom of God? Is the church fully and perfectly identical to the kingdom? No, for the kingdom creates the church. They are not identical. How do we know? The kingdom is perfect; the church is not. The kingdom existed before Acts 2 and the birth of the church.
So one more time, what is the kingdom?
It is God’s reign over all the universe and more specifically over the lives of people. It is his invisible realm, and Jesus is explaining and demonstrating what it looks like before their very eyes and ears, through faith. It is being manifested from the realm of faith to the visible realm, but it is not political in the human sense. The church continues and carries out the kingdom of God. The kingdom rises above all national and language barriers and borders. When people, one at a time, surrender to it, then it works its way outwardly and improves society. But the main goal is salvation of the soul.
Further, the teaching of the kingdom is to be unfolded as the Gospel of Luke moves along, and the power of the kingdom includes healing and demon expulsion, also demonstrated as the Gospel progresses.
Here it is the already and not-yet. The kingdom has come near partially, but not fully.
“will be filled” is the divine passive, which is an understated of saying that God is behind the scenes filling people up. God will fill them. Stein: “This is an example of the ‘divine passive, i.e., a means by which the devout Jew avoided the name of God in order to protect himself from breaking the Third Commandment (Exod 20:7). If the passive is not used, one would have to say, “God will satisfy you.” Another way in which the devout Jew avoided using the name of God was by circumlocution, or substituting another word for God” (comment on v. 21)
Marshall: “The underlying reference is probably to the ‘messianic banquet’, the picture of the kingdom of God in terms of a great feast where men can have fellowship with God at his table (cf. 13:28f.; 22:16, 30). The imagery finds concrete expression in the picture of Lazarus, hungry on earth, but sitting in the bosom of Abraham at God’s table (16:20–22)” (comment on v. 21)
Exclude you from what? In Jesus’s day it was the synagogue, but in our modern Western world it could be from the coolest parties. In Islamic countries it is the mosque. Fanatical Muslims may even kill the new convert. In Iran and Saudi Arabia, for example, the authorities arrest and reeducate them and possibly execute them. Certainly in prison they will be tormented. In China they arrest them.
“shame”: it could be translated as “insult,” but shame works too. Don’t let people shame you by guilt-tripping you or mocking you for your faith in Jesus.
“insult”: it could be translated literally as “throw out your name,” which is an idiom for “insult” and “slander.” Or it could reference being thrown out from the synagogue. However, “as evil” also implies “demeaning” your name without referring to ejection from the synagogue. In any case, all of this must be done because you belong to the Son of man, not because you turned into a presumptuous fool. The point is that Jesus is preparing his followers for persecution, and they must be ready for it. If they suffer it, they will be blessed.
In fact, you should rejoice and leap around! Is the leaping hyperbole for inner joy? Probably, but what is wrong with leaping around when you are excluded and have your name dragged through the mud? Go for it!
“huge”: it is the standard word for “much” or “many.” My translation is colloquial, but so be it.
The book of Jeremiah is filled with verses about mistreating Jeremiah (see all of Jer. 20). Heb. 11 has a list of patriarchs and prophets who had to go through trials.
“look!” It used to be translated as “behold!” which is very charming. It is the storyteller’s art to draw attention to the people and action that follows. “As you, my audience, sit and listen to me read this Gospel, listen up! Look! Your reward will be very great!” Professional grammarians say that when “look!” introduces a character (or presumably a thing like a reward), then he or she (or it) will play a major role in the pericope (pronounced peh-RIH-coh-pea) or section. (That’s the case here.) Alternatively, when a verb follows “look!” then a significant act is about to take place and the person or people are less significant (Culy, Parsons, Stigall, p. 21).
“people”: in v. 22, it is the Greek noun anthrōpos (pronounced ahn-throw-poss), and even in the plural some interpreters say that it means only men. However, throughout the Greek written before and during the NT, in the plural it means people in general, including womankind (except rare cases). In the singular it can mean person, depending on the context. In Luke 2:25; 4:33; 6:6; 7:8, for example, the context says one man or male. So “person” or “people” or “men and women” (and so on) is almost always the most accurate translation, despite what more conservative translations say.
“Son of Man”: see v. 5 for more comments.
“on the other side”: the Greek is a strong contrast. Jesus switches up his denunciations and positive pronouncements. In 20-23 he began with blessing on those sitting at the lower end of society and ended with reversals: the lower rise, but the upper fall. Here he begins with woe on the privileged and ends with their downfall. Implied is that the down-and-outers shall rise. The rich are depicted as comforted, implying that they lived in their big houses and ate sumptuous feasts. This is a more specific description of the principle of rising and falling of many (2:34). The kingdom of God is in the process of changing everything, countering the world system. No, the kingdom may not change the entire world before the Second Coming, but it is in progress.
If everyone treats you well, beware! They treated the false prophets really well. Jeremiah competed with them and asked the Lord about them (Jer. 5:13, 31; 6:31; 8:10; 13:13; 14:13-16; 23:9-40, and so on). Why was he mistreated, while they were honored by kings? The Lord answered him that they would soon get their just deserts. When the Babylonians invade and sack Jerusalem, the lying prophets would be abandoned and no one would bury them.
Jesus is speaking in a generic way. He said if “everyone” or literally “all people” (see comments on v. 22) treat you well, then watch out. Surely some people can treat well without raising an inner alarm, but not everyone. Expect criticism when you live in his first-century culture (and in ours). He was in the process of going in a new direction while the Jewish establishment resisted, all the way to executing him.
The rich receiving their consolation or comfort now relates to rich preachers living in big houses, driving luxurious cars, and living extravagant lives, all from the donations of Joe Factoryworker and Jane Shopkeeper. Joe and Jane cannot live like the rich preachers. Joe and Jane need to stop giving the preachers money. They have their rewards right now, but they will get precious little at the Second Coming.
These verses recall this verse in the Magnificat: “He has filled up the hungry with good things
And sent away the rich empty” (1:53).
In v. 24, Woe ≠ Curse. Jesus was not pronouncing curses on people.
Instead, Woe = Pity. Jesus was pronouncing pity on people who stand under divine judgment.
Therefore, Jesus was denouncing all rich people just for being rich. We all know or know about many of the wealthy because they invented and sold a useful and clean product, like computer programs or items for hobbies. They are also very generous with charitable foundations. Instead, in his decade, the rich were either Roman occupiers or landowners who controlled political power to the disadvantage and exclusion of the poor. They did not live in a republic where people can vote out the corrupt. They did not have an economy that fostered entrepreneurship, where people created jobs by building businesses—not on our modern level. We do live in such a wonderful society, so let’s be grateful for that.
“everyone”: it is the noun anthrōpos, and see v. 22 for more comments.
GrowApp for Luke 6:20-26
A.. The Lord calls you blessed. What does that mean to you in your life?
B.. How has the Lord reversed something in your life, turning it from bad to good?
C.. Study Jas. 1:2-4. Have you suffered persecution from the privileged and powerful or trials generally? How did you respond?
Love for Enemies (Luke 6:27-36)
27 “But I tell you who listen, ‘Love the ones who are your enemies; do good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, and pray for the ones who mistreat you. 29 To the one who strikes you on one cheek, offer him the other also; and from the one who asks for your coat do not withhold your shirt. 30 Give to everyone who asks, and from anyone who takes what is yours do not demand it back. 31 And just as you want people to treat you, treat them likewise. 32 Further, if you love those who love you, how is that a credit to you? For sinners also love the ones who love them. 33 For if you do good to the ones who do good to you, how is that a credit to you? Sinners also do that. 34 And if you lend to those from whom you hope to receive, how is that a credit to you? Sinners also lend to sinners, to get back the equivalent thing. 35 On the contrary, love your enemies and do good, and lend expecting nothing in return. And your reward will be huge, and you shall be sons and daughters of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and the bad. 36 Become compassionate, just as also your Father is compassionate.’”
So does this section or pericope or section speak of the life only in the kingdom of God or life in the world? It is the latter. This demanding section is about life in the kingdom and the world. Now we need to know how we can love our neighboring enemies. Here are some ways:
If people of the world hate you, find a way to do good to them. Can you take your neighbor to get his medication? Take care of his dog while he is away? Just say, “God loves you!”? Maybe speak the gospel to him?
“love”: it is the verb agapaō (pronounced ah-gah-pah-oh). BDAG says that the verb means, depending on the context: (1) “to have a warm regard for and interest in another, cherish, have affection for, love”; (2) “to have high esteem for or satisfaction with something, take pleasure in; (3) “to practice / express love, prove one’s love.” In most instances this kind love in Scripture is not gooey feelings, though it can be a heart-felt virtue and emotion, as we see in the first definition. Rather, mostly love is expressed by action. If you have no gooey feelings for your enemy, do something practical for him.
Both the noun agapē (pronounced ah-gah-pay) and the verb mean a total commitment. For example, God is totally committed to his church and to the salvation of humankind. Surprisingly, however, total commitment can be seen in an unusual verse. Men loved darkness rather than light (John 3:19), which just means they are totally committed to the dark path of life. Are we willing to be totally committed to God and to live in his light? Can we match an unbeliever’s commitment to bad things with our commitment to good things?
Agapē and agapaō are demonstrative. This love is not static or still. It moves and acts. We receive it, and then we show it with kind acts and good deeds. It is not an abstraction or a concept. It is real.
It is transferrable. God can pour and lavish it on us. And now we can transfer it to our fellow believers and people caught in the world.
“bless”: it comes from the Greek verb eulogeō (pronounced eu-loh-geh-oh), and it literally means to “speak well.” BDAG defines the term, depending on the context, as follows: (1) “to say something commendatory, speak well of, praise, extol”; (2) “to ask for bestowal of special favor, especially of calling down God’s gracious power, bless”; (3) “to bestow a favor, provide with benefits.”
If someone curses you, bless him. Just say, “God bless you!” One day, I was driving down a city street in the inside lane, and a car pulled up next to mine in the outside lane. He rolled down his window and he cursed and shrieked—literally shrieked—all sorts of profanity. I thought, “Did I cut him off?” No. I had stayed in my lane. He kept shrieking profanity. I rolled down my passenger window and asked, “What gives? Why are you doing this?” He shrieked some more, and I still looked puzzled. He shouted, “You know who you are! What organization do you belong to?” I instantly thought he must believe I’m an off-duty police officer. I replied that I don’t belong to any organization. He shrieked a little more and rolled up his window and drove on. I caught up to him. “Hey! Why did you shout like that?” More profanity. “Why?” He said, “Drive on. Leave me alone.” He sped up, and I didn’t bother catching up to him this time. I did not curse him back or give him an obscene gesture, though I did not offer a formal blessing, “God bless you!” I should have, but at least I treated him kindly, not vengefully or angrily in return.
“pray”: scroll back up to v. 12 for more comments.
Pray for those who mistreat you. “Mistreat” is a doing or action verb. I have heard two stories in which street evangelists got sucker-punched. (I’m sure there are many stories like that.) They were knocked down and woozy, so they did not offer the second cheek or jaw. We can at least pray for someone who does this. We don’t need to hit back. “However, Jesus was unique in making such a focus [on love] a cornerstone of his ethic. He does not follow the other ancients with the appeal to the virtue of such action, nor does he issue a call to maintain solidarity in a community, nor does he appeal to self-interest, but he focuses on the raw power of love as imitation of God (Luke 6:35 …). This is how the disciple is to relate to all humanity” (Bock p. 591).
(In a marriage setting, if there is violence, the wife must flee (Matt. 10:23, no, that verse is not in a domestic setting, but it offers wise advice). Divorce is a permitted option, because domestic violence is a form of abandonment [1 Cor. 7:15] and a clear breach of the marriage covenant, every bit as much as—or worse than—adultery is [Matt. 19:9]).
If someone strikes you on one cheek, offer him the other. How does that work? This act probably takes place either in a court or the synagogue (the latter, most likely). The entire context of the Gospel of Luke is the interaction, sometimes volatile, between old Judaism and the New Way, the New Wine, the New Garment (Luke 5:36-39). So we should see the strike as a slap with the back of the hand as a rejection from the synagogue or law court. The verb tuptō (pronounced toop-toh), “strike, hit, or beat,” is used in Acts in religious contexts (18:17; 21:32; 23:2). Paul and others never fought back. We are not to seek a confrontation, but if one happens, we should not strike back in a religious context. The point is to surrender to God so profoundly that we should be at inner and outer peace in all difficult times. He is in control and will vindicate us. Think of those street evangelists who got sucker-punched. They did not hit back. That’s the right way.
“The religious context makes it likely that a slap is intended and that an insult is in view. An ancient slap usually involved the back of the hand and may picture public rejection from the synagogues … such striking is really an abuse of power and a misuse of personal authority (Luke 12:45; 18:13; 23:48). Nevertheless, one is not to fight back in kind, but remain vulnerable to the insult again” (Bock, p. 592).
Please don’t overgeneralize this principle to the country as a whole. Law enforcement and the military are raised up by God to protect the citizenry (Rom. 13:1-5). The church as the church is not called to form militias to attack people, but the government exists to enforce the law, even with lethal force.
If a beggar asks for your coat, give him your shirt. Should we take this literally? Maybe in some contexts, yes. But should a woman take off her blouse when a beggar demands it? What if a beggar demands your car or house? (I’ve heard of a pastor who gave away his house to a missionary family, and his car to another needy person, and I give him full credit.) But for most of us we do not take it literally in every situation. Conditions apply. The point is to keep a loose grip on your material possessions. Be willing to give away what you possess the most tightly, if the Spirit nudges you. Don’t demand it back. Jesus laid down his life for us, so we can give up some paltry material possessions. Can you at least clean out your closet and give away old, but nice clothes?
“Somewhat accurately, the illustrations are described as hyperbolic commands … [ see vv. 41-42 for a definition of hyperbole]. They are expressed in absolute terms to shock the listener by giving a vivid contrast to one’s own thinking. They also communicate, by their radical character, the important of the concept [they drive the point home] … To follow 29b would result in a nudism!” (Bock, p. 594)
In Jewish and Greco-Roman cultures, the more one gave, the higher status one earned. So giving away a second garment or another possession meant that you were higher than the taker. Jesus overturned the popular belief (Garland, comment on 6:30).
This is the Golden Rule. Matt. 7:12 says the law and prophets (shorthand for the entire OT) is summed up in this general principle.
Bock (pp. 596-97) has an impressive list of parallel statements. Here are three out of his twelve:
Rabbi Hillel: “What is hateful to you, do not do to your neighbor; that is the whole Torah, while the rest is commentary.” (It is in the negation “not.” Not as insightful.)
Testament of Naphtali: “No one should do to his neighbor what he does not like for himself.” (this is also in the negative.)
Herodotus (3:142): I will not myself do that which I account blameworthy in my neighbor.” (This declaration is too personal and in the negative.)
All of the other nine statements show that in comparison Jesus stated his rule in the most emphatic and positive way. It is not in the negation. Jesus is not saying his disciples should not be left alone. Don’t live a sheltered life. Rather, the right golden rule seeks to look for good things to do for people out of concern for them. It is active, not passive, positive, not negative.
People ask how we should love our neighbor, and some teachers give complicated answers, pointing to this or that verse in an epistle. Those examples are true and right, but the Golden Rule is the most succinct statement, which will be reenacted in Parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37). Be proactive. Be concerned. Do to others what you want them to do to you. That’s how you show love to the kingdom community and those outside it.
After reviewing the different versions in Judaism, Marshall is right:
Jesus is, therefore, not saying something new here, but it is significant that he stresses the positive form of the rule. The negative form is merely a rule of prudence: do not hurt other people lest they retaliate. The positive form is not prudential but absolute: this is how you are to treat others (positively), regardless of how they treat you … Jesus thus goes beyond the negative form, citing the rarer and more demanding form. The fact that the rule is found in Judaism in no way suggests that the present saying cannot have been uttered by Jesus. (comment on v. 31)
The goats who are judged in Matt. 25:31-33 could be acquitted with the negative Golden Rule seen in Hillel’s version. Recall that the goats did nothing to help their neighbors in need.
Finally, Matt. 7:12 says: “Therefore, everything that you want people to do to you, in the same way you also do to them. For this is the law and the prophets.” Paul expresses the same idea when he writes that love is the fulfillment of the law (Rom. 13:8-10). He also says that the whole law is fulfilled in this one saying: “You are to love your neighbor as yourself” (Gal. 5:14). James singles out the love of neighbor as the “royal law” (Jas. 2:8). John writes that if we say that we love God but hate our brother, then we are liars; the love of God is not in us. Whoever loves God must love his brother (1 John 4:20-21). And Jesus said to love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, strength and mind (Luke:10-27; Matt. 22:37-40; Mark 12:30-33). This sums up the entire law.
Both Luke’s version and Matthew’s versions of the Golden Rule are profounder than the others ones, in my view. It is good to boil down the whole law to these pithy sayings. We can avoid complications and focus on these simple truths. The negative rule (“don’t do”) will exempt you from doing good. The Good Samaritan would not have to act (Luke 10:25-37).
Here begins a series of three real-life situations. We need to rise above what the standard practice in the world is.
“sinners” are those outside of the kingdom of God, nondisciples. It is the adjective hamartōlos (pronounced hah-mahr-toh-loss and used 47 times and 18 times in Luke), and it means as I translated it. It is someone who does not observe the law, in this context: “unobservant or irreligious person … of one who is especially sinful.” Let’s look more deeply at the term.
BDAG defines the adjective hamartōlos as follows: “pertaining to behavior or activity that does not measure up to standard moral or [religious] expectations (being considered an outsider because of failure to conform to certain standards is a frequent semantic component. Persons engaged in certain occupations, e.g. herding and tanning [and tax collecting] that jeopardized [religious] purity, would be considered by some as ‘sinners,’ a term tantamount to ‘outsider.’” Non-Israelites were especially considered out of bounds [see Acts 10:28].)” “Sinner, with a general focus on wrongdoing as such.” “Irreligious, unobservant people.” “Unobservant” means that he did not care about law keeping or observing the law.
Do you fail to conform to certain standards? Maybe you did break the demands of moral and religious law. Pray and repent, and God will accept you.
Unredeemed people can do kind acts; please don’t tell them that they are so evil and sinful that they cannot do acts of kindness. Yes, we all have a sin nature that needs God’s grace and declared righteousness as a gift, but their sin is not so totally depraved that they cannot do good things.
“credit”: in those verses, it is the Greek noun charis (pronounced khah-reess) and means, depending on the context, “graciousness, attractiveness; favor, gracious care, help or goodwill, practical application of goodwill”; a “gracious deed or gift, benefaction” (see Luke 2:40 for a deeper look). Here the noun is not loaded with theological content, as it is in many of verses in Paul’s epistles. It could be translated as “how is that commendable for you?” Or “how is that your goodwill?” in the sense of a practical application of goodwill. It is grace in practice. It takes the special empowerment of grace, as well, to live out this radical call to discipleship.
“love” (used three times in v. 32): see v. 27 for more comments.
“on the contrary”: it is spoken in strong terms. “On the other hand” is too weak.
“huge” translates the standard Greek adjective for “much” or “many.” It is a little colloquial, but so be it.
“sons and daughters”: translates literally “sons” in Greek, but this term can include daughters as well, just like our word mankind includes women, too. Some translations go for “children.” That’s accurate too, but I like to keep “daughters,” because it reminds us that girls are in the mix.
“ungrateful”: is the noun acharitos (pronounced ah-khahr-ees-toss), and the prefix a– is the negation, and the stem char– is related to charis, in vv. 32-34. So one additional definition of charis is “gratitude.” The negation is ingratitude.
“bad” is the standard noun for “evil” or bad.” If you go hard-core, you have “evil.” If you reserve “evil” for special cases, go with “bad.” But either way is fine by me.
The first word “become” is invariably translated as “be” in other translations (“be merciful, as your Father is merciful”). Consider this, however. “Become” is the standard verb ginomai (pronounced gee-no-my, and the “g” is hard). It is so common that it is used 669 times in the NT. Yes, yes, the lexicons and grammarians say “become” is equivalent to “be” in many contexts (it can also be translated as “it came to pass” in some contexts in older translations, so it is a versatile verb). However, the verb appears in v. 16, Judas “became a traitor.” So I want to alert the reader that for us humans, Luke uses ginomai, but for God he uses estin, third-person singular of the verb “to be.” So, to be clear, he uses two verbs: ginomai “become” (possible translation) and estin “is” (always the better translation). The first word possibly describes our state of becoming, and the other verb expresses God’s state of being. We grow into our compassion in ever-increasing measure. He just is compassionate.
GrowApp for Luke 6:27-36
A.. In his Sermon on the Plain, Jesus issues a summons or call to radical discipleship. Have you done anything radical or countercultural, like giving money to your church, when your accountant says not to? Do you know someone who has given all for Jesus, to the point of martyrdom? What is your story?
B.. Have you loved your enemy, done good to those who hate you, blessed those who curse or put you down with their words? How did you find the strength to do that? Results?
C.. God is kind to the ungrateful and bad. Therefore, we are commanded to be (or “become,” the Greek says) merciful, just as he is. How have you worked this out in your life?
Judging Others (Luke 6:37-42)
37 “Further, don’t judge, and you will not be judged. And don’t condemn, and you will not be condemned. Pardon, and you shall be pardoned.
38 Give and it’ll be given to you; in good measure, pressed down, shaken together and pouring out will they give into the fold of your garments, for by whatever measure you measure, it will be measured back to you.”
39 He told them this illustration: “Do the blind lead the blind? Won’t both fall into a pit? 40 A disciple is not above his teacher. But everyone who is completely trained will be like his teacher.
41 Why do you see the speck in your brother’s eye, but don’t perceive the plank in your own eye? 42 How will you be able to say to your brother, ‘Allow me to take out the speck in your eye,’ while you don’t see the plank in your eye? Hypocrite! First take out the plank in your eye, and then you will see clearly to take out the speck in your brother’s eye!”
Kingdom citizens can judge the fruit of the tree, but not the root. God alone can judge both the fruit and the root. Keep to you own jurisdiction and do not cross the line.
Clearly, then, the following Jesus seeks is full-orbed one: his is a message that calls for total transformation, with a consistency of goodness between these two kinds of people. Some are blind, hypocritical, produce evil fruit, hear without acting, and build without foundation. Others produce good fruit, hear and act, and build on a foundation of rock. Luke peppers these concluding remarks with the evaluative language of good and evil to drive home this bipolar distinction. (p. 277)
“judge” and “condemn”: Are they perfect synonyms or do they have nuanced differences? “judge” seems weaker or lighter, while “condemn” seems stronger and heavier. We are not supposed to do either one. But how do we make evaluations of person’s character, in personal relationships or as church leaders, for example? Do we refrain from evaluating a man’s or woman’s or a church volunteer’s character? In vv. 43-45, Jesus is about to say we are supposed to “know” a man by his fruit or practical deeds. Those deeds and words reveal what is in his heart (v. 45). So is “know” the same as “judge” and condemn”? No, they are not the same.
“Judge” and “condemn” come in the context of forgiving. By judging and condemning people, we permanently throw them in a prison of our mind. We have judged, condemned and sentenced them to live without our forgiveness. We permanently conclude that they are forever unworthy of our forgiveness.
“condemn”: this verb has the legal stem dik– (pronounced deek), which is often used in God’s or a human judge’s tribunal. No mental or heart-felt tribunal of judge, jury, prison warden, and executioner, please.
“pardon”: the verb I expected was aphiēmi (pronounced ah-fee-ay-mee), but here is it apoluō (pronounced ah-poh-loo-oh), which means, depending on the context, (1) “release, set free, pardon”; (2) “let go, send away, dismiss” (etc.). In Luke 23:16-25 the verb is used to release Barabbas or Jesus. And in Acts 3:13; 4:21, 23; 5:40; 16:35-36; 17:9; 19:41; 23:22; 28:18, 25, the verb is found in legal contexts, including being released from custody or prison. So the image of a prison of judgment and condemnation does fit this verb in v. 37. No one in our lives is forever unworthy of our forgiveness. Let’s not permanently judge and condemn him in our mental or heart-felt tribunal. However, it still adds up to forgiveness.
Marshall, quoting another scholar halfway through, summarizes what this statement means:
In their own day-to-day conduct the disciples are forbidden to usurp the place of God in judging and condemning other people. The context would suggest that it is the attitude which fails to show mercy to the guilty which is here being attacked. It is not the use of discernment and discrimination which is forbidden, but the attitude of censoriousness. The saying ‘does not imply flabby indifference to the moral condition of others nor the blind renunciation of attempts at a true and serious appraisal of those with whom we have to live. What is unconditionally demanded is that such evaluations should be subject to the certainty that God’s judgment falls also on those who judge, so that superiority, hardness and blindness to one’s own faults are excluded, and a readiness to forgive and to intercede is safeguarded.’ (comment on v. 39)
We can judge only the fruit; God alone can judge the root and fruit. Don’t leave your jurisdiction.
This verse comes in the context of forgiveness (personal) and agriculture (business). Vendors (“they”) measured out the grain and put it in the fold (“bosom” or “chest” in Greek) of the receiver’s or buyer’s garment. The grain is generously given. The receiver pressed it down and shook the big fold so he could get more in there, to the point of overflow. Nice image. I’m glad God is like that. It would be misguided to interpret this verse as meaning material possessions, like money. Here it is talking about generous forgiveness, as we move past judgment and condemnation. If you judge and condemn, it will boomerang on you. If you don’t judge, but generously forgive, and you will be generously forgiven, a successful boomerang. That’s the best way to measure or size up people.
Bock cites a scholar who spent time in Palestine:
The measuring of the corn is a process which is carried out according to an established pattern. The seller crouches on the ground with the measure between his legs. First of all he fills the measure three-quarters full and give it a good shake with a rotatory motion to make the grain settle down. Then he fills the measure to the top and gives it another shake. Next he presses the corn [grain] together strongly with both hands. Finally, he heaps it into a cone, tapping it carefully to press the grains together; from time to time he bores a hole in the cone and pours a few more grains into it, until there is literally no more room for a single grain. In this way, the purchaser is guaranteed an absolute full measure; it cannot hold more. (Bock, citing Jeremias, p. 608)
Jesus said: “Do not judge by appearances, but judge with a righteous judgment” (John 4:24). So we can judge within our jurisdiction, not superficially, but at the fruit. As noted, don’t near the root.
“parable”: literally, the word parable (parabolē in Greek) combines para– (pronounced pah-rah and means “alongside”) and bolē (pronounced boh-lay and means “put” or even “throw”). Therefore, a parable puts two or more images or ideas alongside each other to produce a clear truth. It is a story or narrative or short comparison that reveals the kingdom of God and the right way to live in it and the Father’s ways of dealing with humanity and his divine plan expressed in his kingdom and life generally. The Shorter Lexicon says that the Greek word parabolē can sometimes be translated as “symbol,” “type,” “figure,” and “illustration,” the latter term being virtually synonymous with parable. Here you must see yourself in the parable.
If someone begins his teaching ministry on his own without adequate training, then he will be like a blind person leading around another blind person. No, a would-be teacher doesn’t need a Ph.D. to be trained, because the Sanhedrin saw that Peter and John were unschooled (Acts 5:13). But can’t church leaders get some training? In today’s modern world, it would be best if he got some higher education, like a Master’s degree, particularly if he is a pastor who lives in a prosperous part of the region. It shows, when a pastor is untrained. He uses the wrong word or mispronounces it, and other things. However, people can build a mega-church with minimal education and a lot of shouting and dancing and prancing. But is this optimal? More people don’t go to any mega-church than go. Maybe the bright non-church goers, like business managers and entrepreneurs and engineers, for example, would be interested in going to church, but stay away instead because the leaders are … well… not as bright as the potential visitors. “That’s elitism!” No, that’s reality.
“disciple”: see v. 1 for deeper comments.
“fully trained”: it is the verb katartizō (pronounced kah-tahr-tee-zoh), and it means, depending on the context, (1) “put in order, restore, mend”; “complete, make complete” “fully train” (2) “prepare, make, create” And it can mean “to make someone completely adequate or sufficient for something” (Culy, Parsons, and Stigall, p. 207). Here it is best to translate it as “fully trained.” It is wonderful to think that Jesus trains and makes us so complete and sufficient that we can be like him as a teacher.
Following him as a teacher is built up like this, in a chain argument.
The argument goes as follows. Luke 6:37-38 leads into the theme with a transition: “Do not judge, forgive”; 6:9 says, “Watch whom you follow, because you will be like your teacher”; 6:41-42 says, “Do not be quick to judge until you are willing to deal with your own problems; 6:43-46 says, “Your heart is evident by your fruit, so follow my teaching”; and finally 6:47-49 makes clear that there is one example to follow and that is Jesus’ teaching.” (Bock. p. 611)
Here Jesus uses hyperbole (pronounced hy-PER-boh-lee), which is an extravagant exaggeration for the purpose of illustrating a point: “They stack ice cream cones a mile high!” The point is that the ice cream shop is extra-generous. Here the plank can also be translated as “log” or “board” or “wooden beam.” No one literally has a plank in the eye, and everyone who originally heard these words knew this. Jesus is merely using another startling image. The imagery must have surprised or made them smile, however. It got their attention. The point is that self-reflection about one’s life is called for. Recall that a blind man leading a blind man leads to pit. If a man with a massive blind spot (plank) in his life leads the flock, then he and the flock will fall into a pit. He will be guilty of hypocrisy, for he will not be able to consistently act out a righteous life, because the plank caused his blindness and he does not see enough to ask for help.” The disciples’ first responsibility is to purify themselves and not to set themselves up as moral watchdogs over others (see Rom 2:1-3; Jas 5:9). Failure to come with our own limitations and shortcomings warps our judgments of others” (Garland, comment on 6:41-42). Then we can see that our brother’s sliver is just that—a sliver.
“hypocrite”: originally it comes from the Greek play actor on the stage. They wore masks and played roles. There were stock characters, such as the buffoon, the bombastic soldier, or the old miser. Here in the NT hypocrites appeared one way, but in reality they were different. They appeared outwardly religious, but inwardly they were full of dead men’s bones. They wore religious masks. In Matt. 23, Jesus denounced the Pharisees and experts in the law. In the context here, a hypocrite focuses on the speck in his brother’s eye and does not realize he has a log in his own. Self-examination and prayer is the cure.
GrowApp for Luke 6:37-42
A.. With the Greek verbs judging, condemning and pardoning, Jesus may be building the image of a tribunal in your heart. How have you learned to stop being the judge, jury, and prison warden in your relationships?
B.. How has your pardon or forgiveness resulted in overflowing with God’s generous forgiveness towards you?
C.. Jesus warned against leaving blind spots in your life and planks in your sense of moral or spiritual sight. How have you examined your life? What would be the best way to get rid of them?
A Tree Is Known by Its Fruit (Luke 6:43-45)
43 For a healthy tree does do produce rotten fruit, and neither does a bad tree produce healthy fruit. 44 Each tree is known by its own fruit. From thorn bushes they do not gather figs, neither from briers do they pluck a bunch of grapes. 45 The good person from the heart’s good treasure produces the good, and a bad person produces the bad. For from the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.
As noted, kingdom citizens can judge the fruit of the tree, but not the root. God alone can judge both the fruit and the root. Keep to you own jurisdiction and do not cross the line.
This whole pericope or section is a short parable. Please see vv. 39-42 for a working definition of a parable.
Begin a series on the nine fruit of the Spirit:
Here is one on the fruit of righteousness:
This section of Scripture should be carried over from the previous one. Don’t see them disconnected.
“healthy” could be translated as “fine” or “good.” Clearly Jesus is using this illustration to talk about character that works its way out into speech and observable behavior.
The punchline is in this verse. Each tree is known by its own fruit.
“is known”: the verb is ginōskō (pronounced gee-noh-skoh, and the “g” is hard, as in “get”). It is so common that it is used 222 times in the NT. (Its cognate epiginōskō, pronounced eh-pea-gee-noh-skoh is used 44 times). BDAG has numerous definitions of the verb, depending on the context: (1) “to arrive at a knowledge of someone or something, know, know about, make acquaintance of”; (2) “to acquire information through some means, learn (of), ascertain, find out”; (3) “grasp the significance or meaning of something, understand, comprehend”; (4) “to be aware of something, perceive, notice, realize”; (5) to have sexual intercourse with, sex / marital relations with”; (6) “to have come to the knowledge of, have come to know, know.” (7) “to indicate that one does know, acknowledge, recognize.” So we can know a person, a thing, a fact, an abstract thing like math. We can even know God personally or know about him from a distance, like a theological truth. It is best to know him personally. We can know all these things deeply or shallowly. In this verse, the best translation is the first definition or perhaps the third.
“by its own”: this means that we should not overgeneralize about the whole orchard, just because one tree is unhealthy. As the modern saying goes, “One bad apple does not spoil the whole barrel of apples” (or words to that effect). Take each person on his own terms.
Later, Jesus will tell the Parable of the Barren Fig Tree (Luke 13:6-9). A vineyard owner planted it in his vineyard, and it produced no fruit. He told the vinedresser to cut it down, but the vinedresser implored the owner to let it live one more year, for he would take care of it and fertilize it. If it produces fruit, then well and good. If it does not produce any fruit, then he’ll cut it down. This goes deeper than rotten fruit. That tree is fruitless.
Further, in this verse Jesus uses hyperbole (extravagant exaggeration) to drive home his moral truth. It is impossible to get those fruit from those thorny plants. In fact, if the farmer were to look for them, he would get pricked, so he shouldn’t even bother. Does this mean that some people are so awful that they will never produce good fruit—they are the thorn bushes and briers? It is possible that men like Stalin, Hitler and Mao fit that description, but those are rare and extreme examples. Let’s not take the illustration too far, particularly when it is hyperbolic. People in our ordinary lives don’t qualify to be those thorny plants, at least not to our (limited) knowledge.
It is implied that “the bad person from the (heart’s bad treasure) produces the bad.”
Here is the main point to this whole pericope or section. It is possible for a man to have basic goodness. We observe it all the time. Rich atheists with a bankrupt personal life give away millions. The theologians who emphasize man’s evil must not exaggerate. No, this does not deny original sin. No, a man’s goodness is not sufficient for him to strut into God’s eternal and holy presence (see Is. 6). He needs grace and to be invited through his Son. But here it is a moral truth about Jesus’s disciples and humanity in general. In the kingdom community, look for men and women who speak words of blessing and edification. In business endeavors, look for men and women who do the same. The ones who consistently and characteristically speak good words have good hearts and can be trusted. It’s a general principle. Exceptions may apply, however.
“person”: see v. 22 for more comments.
GrowApp for Luke 6:43-45
A.. Jesus’s point is self-examination. Study John 15:1-8. How does good fruit grow in your life?
B.. Jesus’s other point is inspecting the fruit of others. If you are a church leader, how have you applied the principle of fruit inspection? How about in your own life?
Two Foundations (Luke 6:46-49)
46 Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say? 47 Everyone coming to me and hearing my words and acting on them—I’ll show you what he is like: 48 He is like the person who builds a house and dug deep and established the foundation on the rock. When the flood came, the river burst upon that house, but was not strong enough to shake it because it was built well. 49 But the one hearing and not acting is like the person building a house on the ground without a foundation. The river burst on it and immediately it collapsed, and how great was the crash of that house!”
It is possible to call Jesus “Lord, Lord” and not know him intimately, first, and then not do what he says, second. “Lord, Lord,” could be translated “sir” or “master.” Those titles seem to be a step down from “Lord” (at least it seems so to me), though some modern paraphrases translate the Greek word throughout the four Gospels, like the Message. Lord is better and more accurate, in my view.
The disciples and the people who are listening to his Sermon the Plain have to hear and obey his teaching. This reflects the section in Matt. 7:21-23, where people work miracles and do charismatic things but don’t know the Lord, even though they call him “Lord, Lord.” The Lord will tell them to depart from him. Knowing and obeying Jesus is the best way to keep safe from God’s negative judgment, here and then in the afterlife.
This verse begins with an old-fashioned simile. This is similar to or like that (note that simile and similar are related).
“coming to me”: this is what an ordinary teacher says. It’s equivalent to “If you enroll in my class.” But we have a large number of disciples and the people listening to him in the outdoors. Miracles happened, and people were healed. So he goes beyond an ordinary teacher. He demands obedience of their entire lives. This is Messianic. If you come to him and listen to his teaching, then do what he says. Change your whole life, if you have to. Just don’t come for the self-interested benefits you can get from his healing ministry.
“words”: it is the Greek noun logos (pronounced loh-goss and is used 330 times in the NT). Since it is so important, let’s explore the noun more deeply, as I do in this entire commentary series.
The noun is rich and full of meaning. It always has built into it rationality and reason. It has spawned all sorts of English words that end in –log-, like theology or biology, or have the log– stem in them, like logic.
Though certain Renewalists may not like to hear it, there is a rational side to the Word of God, and a moment’s thought proves it. The words you’re reading right now are placed in meaningful and logical and rational order. The Bible is also written in that way. If it weren’t, then it would be nonsense and confusing, and we couldn’t understand the gibberish. (Even your prophecies have to make logical and rational sense on some level!) Your Bible studies and Sunday morning sermons have to make sense, also. Luke’s Gospel has logic and rational argumentation built into it. People need to be ministered to in this way. God gave us minds and brains and expects us to use them. Your preaching cannot always be flashy and shrieky and so outlandishly entertaining that people are not fed in the long term. Movements like that don’t last over the years without the Word. I have observed this from firsthand experience in certain sectors of the Renewal Movement.
People have the deepest need to receive solid teaching. Never become so outlandishly supernatural and entertaining that you neglect the reasonable and rational side of preaching the gospel and teaching the Bible. Yes, Luke-Acts is very charismatic, but it is also very orderly and rational and logical.
On the other side of the word logos, people get so intellectual that they build up an exclusive Christian caste of intelligentsia that believe they alone can teach and understand the Word. Not true.
Bottom line: Just study Scripture with Bible helps and walk in the Spirit, as they did in Acts. Combining Word and Spirit is the balanced life.
“dug deep”: you have to dig deep into his teaching to find the bedrock and live a solid life.
“established”: it is the standard verb for “place” or “put,” but it can also mean “establish,” as here.
“Built well”: not only must you find bedrock, you have to build the house strongly. No shoddy construction in the kingdom.
Now come the trials of life. The flooding river was not strong enough to shake the house. The house stood up against the storm. The Lord is looking for men and women who will stand strong even during severe persecution or everyday trials.
“person” see v. 22 for more comments.
It is implied that “the one hearing (my words) and not acting (on what I say).” This was a weak or badly built house, and the builder did not dig deep enough to find bedrock. The house encounters the same flood, and it instantly collapses. How great was the crash! These are shallow followers of Jesus, who disappear when the going gets tough. They’re deserters. They want only the self-interested benefits and do not consider or listen with humble and teachable hearts and obey or do his clear teachings.
“person”: see v. 22 for more comments.
GrowApp for Luke 6:46-49
A.. How have you obeyed his teachings (or not)? Tell your story.
Summary and Conclusion
Chapter 6 unfurls four themes, and the fourth one has numerous subtopics.
First, Jesus proclaims he is Lord of the Sabbath. They were walking through a grainfield, and the disciples plucked and ate some ears of the grain. The law allowed this (Deut. 25:23), but not on the Sabbath. The truth is that Jesus is Lord of the Sabbath; the Sabbath is not his lord. He owns it; it does not own him. He had the liberty to go as he pleased, but he kept it anyway because he did not want to be a bad witness to his fellow Jews. When the gospel goes out to the Greek provinces, Jesus through the Spirit will wisely guide the authors of the NT not to impose it (Rom. 14:5-6 and Col. 2:16-17). Many Gentile Christians today believe that they should keep the Sabbath. If they do it out of law, then they are misguided. A man gathered wood on the Sabbath, and he was stoned to death (Num. 15:32-36). Let’s hope these believers in Jesus don’t take that portion of Scripture literally! But resting out of need and common sense and dedicating the day to the Lord is beneficial. But note that the believer should walk in his rest, every day (Heb. 3:7-4:13).
Second, Jesus heals a man with a withered hand on the Sabbath. Rabbinic traditions said a healer – doctor could save a life in imminent danger, deliver a baby, or circumcise a boy if the Sabbath fell on the eighth day. But the disabled man fit none of those groups. By healing, Jesus was working. Therefore Jesus broke the restrictive tradition about the Sabbath. He was and is Lord of the Sabbath.
Third, Jesus called the twelve apostles. There were many disciples following him, but he spent the night in prayer before he named the twelve. The number twelve is significant, because it corresponds to the twelve tribes of Israel. The twelve apostles will judge them (Matt. 19:28). This list of apostles means that the new Way of the kingdom is gathering steam.
Fourth, Jesus delivers his Sermon the Plain, a very important section of Scripture. It takes up the rest of the chapter. Let’s look at the subtopics.
First, he opens up themes of kingdom living. One major theme in the Gospel of Luke is the Great Reversal, the rising and falling of many (1:46-55; 2:34). Even in the Beatitudes, the lowly shall rise in the kingdom, while in the four woes, the one sitting on high will fall in the kingdom. Jesus would cause the fall of the mighty and the rise of the needy, and the rich would be lowered, and the poor raised up. It is the down elevator and up elevator. Those at the top will take the down elevator, and those at the bottom will take the up elevator.
Another surprising theme in the Sermon on the Plain is that the disciples are to love their enemies. If they do not, they will be like those who are outside the kingdom. Also, the kingdom citizens must keep such loose grips on their possessions that they must be willing to give them away.
Next, if they judge and condemn others, then it is like putting them in a prison of their hearts, where bitterness festers. They must be willing to pardon, as the Governor of their hearts—the king of the kingdom—gives them strength.
Further, he calls the disciples to self-examine and take out the plank in their own eyes. If we do not forgive, then we are blind with the plank and can’t see clearly enough to ask for help.
Moreover, a tree is known by its fruit or character and good works. The mouth speaks out of the overflow of the heart. Kingdom disciples must develop good fruit.
Finally, the Sermon on the Plain closes with the wise and foolish builders. The wise listen and obey the words of Jesus.
Living in the kingdom of God is for disciples today, not for a new millennium or starry-eyed idealists. But in the arc of Luke’s story, we need the infilling and power of the Spirit to be able to live by kingdom rules (Acts 2).
I refer to a community of Bible scholars. They are excellent, but I hope I have simplified the complicated things in their books.
Bock, Darrel L. Luke 1:1-9:50. Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament. Vol. 1 (Baker, 1994).
—. Luke 9:51-24:53. Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament. Vol. 2. (Baker 1996).
Culy, Martin M., Mikael C. Parsons. Joshua J. Stigall. Luke: A Handbook on the Greek Text. (Baylor UP, 2010).
Fitzmyer, Joseph A., SJ. The Gospel according to Luke, I-IX. Vol. 28. The Anchor Bible. (Doubleday, 1981).
—. The Gospel according to St. Luke, X-XIV. The Anchor Bible. Vol. 28A. (Doubleday, 1985).
Garland, David E. Luke. Zondervan Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament. (Zondervan, 2011).
The Greek New Testament. Fifth Revised Edition by Barbara Aland, Kurt Aland, Johannes Karavidopoulos, Carlo M. Martini, Bruce M. Metzger (United Bible Society, 2014).
Green, Joel B. The Gospel of Luke. The New International Commentary on the New Testament. (Eerdmans, 1997).
Liefeld, Walter L and David W. Pao. Luke. The Expositor’s Bible Commentary. Rev. ed. (Zondervan, 2007).
Marshall, I. Howard. The Gospel of Luke: A Commentary on the Greek Text. The New International Greek Testament Commentary. (Eerdmans, 1978).
Morris, Leon. Luke. Tyndale New Testament Commentaries. 2nd ed. Vol. 3. (IVP Academic, 1988).
Stein, Robert H. Luke: An Exegetical and Theological Exposition of Holy Scripture. The New American Commentary. Vol. 24. (Broadman and Holman, 1992).