Adam Clarke Commentary
The disciples pluck and eat the ears of corn on the Sabbath day, and the Pharisees find fault, Luke 6:1, Luke 6:2. Our Lord shows the true use of the Sabbath, Luke 6:3-5. He heals the man with the withered hand, Luke 6:6-11. He goes into a mountain to pray, and calls twelve disciples, Luke 6:12-16. Multitudes are instructed and healed, Luke 6:17-19. Pronounces four blessings, Luke 6:20-23, and four woes, Luke 6:24-26. Gives various instructions about loving our enemies, being patient, gentle, kind, grateful, and merciful, Luke 6:27-36. Harsh judgments censured, and charity recommended, Luke 6:37, Luke 6:38. The parable of the blind leading the blind, Luke 6:39. Of the mote in a brother‘s eye, Luke 6:40-42. Of the good and corrupt tree, Luke 6:43, Luke 6:44. The good and evil treasure of the heart, Luke 6:45. The parable of the two houses, one builded on the rock, and the other on the sand, Luke 6:46-49.
On the second Sabbath after the first - Εν σαββατῳ δευτεροπρωτῳ , In the first Sabbath after the second. What does this mean? In answering this question, commentators are greatly divided. Dr. Whitby speaks thus: “After the first day of the passover, (which was a Sabbath, Exodus 12:16), ye shall count unto you seven Sabbaths complete, Leviticus 23:15, reckoning that day for the first of the first week, which was therefore called δευτεροπρωτον , the first Sabbath from the second day of unleavened bread; (the 16th of the month); the second was called δευτεροδευτερον , the second Sabbath from that day; and the third, δευτεροτριτον , the third Sabbath from the second day; and so on, till they came to the seventh Sabbath from that day, i.e. to the 49th day, which was the day of pentecost. The mention of the seven Sabbaths, to be numbered with relation to this second day, answers all that Grotius objects against this exposition.” Whitby‘s Notes.
Which is not lawful - See on Matthew 12:2-8 (note).
What David did - See on Mark 2:26, Mark 2:27 (note).
After this verse, the Codex Bezae and two ancient MSS. quoted by Wechel, have the following extraordinary addition:
Whence this strange addition proceeded, it is hard to tell. The meaning seems to be this: If thou now workest on the Jewish Sabbath, from a conviction that that Sabbath is abolished, and a new one instituted in its place, then happy art thou, for thou hast got Divine instruction in the nature of the Messiah‘s kingdom; but if thou doest this through a contempt for the law of God, then thou art accursed, forasmuch as thou art a transgressor of the law. The Itala version of the Codex Bezae, for παραβατης , transgressor, has this semi-barbaric word, trabaricator.
Whose right hand was withered - See on Matthew 12:10 (note), etc. The critic who says that ξηραν χειρα signifies a luxated arm, and that the stretching it out restored the bone to its proper place, without the intervention of a miracle, deserves no serious refutation. See on Luke 6:10 (note).
Watched him - Παρετηρουν αυτον , They maliciously watched him. This is the import of the word, Luke 14:1; Luke 20:20, and in the parallel place, Mark 3:2. See Raphelius on the last-quoted text, who has proved, by several quotations, that this is the proper meaning of the term.
An accusation against him - Instead of κατηγοριαν αυτου , his accusation, several eminent MSS. and versions add κατα , against, which I find our translators have adopted.
I will ask you one thing - I will put a question to you. See on Mark 3:4, Mark 3:5 (note).
Whole as the other - Many MSS., both here and in the parallel place, Mark 3:5, omit the word ὑγιης , whole. Griesbach leaves it out of the text. The hand was restored as the other. But had it only been a luxated joint, even allowing, with a German critic, that the bone regained its place by the effort made to stretch out the arm, without the intervention of a miracle, it would have required several weeks to restore the muscles and ligaments to their wonted tone and strength. Why all this learned labor to leave God out of the question?
They were filled with madness - Pride, obstinacy, and interest, combined together, are capable of any thing. When men have once framed their conscience according to their passions, madness passes for zeal, the blackest conspiracies for pious designs, and the most horrid attempts for heroic actions. Quesnel.
In prayer to God - Or, in the prayer of God: or, in the oratory of God, εν τῃ προσευχῃ του Θεου . So this passage is translated by many critics; for which Dr. Whitby gives the following reasons: As the mountain of God, Exodus 3:1; Exodus 4:27; the bread of God, Leviticus 21:17; the lamp of God, 1 Samuel 3:3; the vessels of God, 1 Chronicles 22:19; the altar of God, Psalm 43:4; the sacrifices of God, Psalm 51:17; the gifts of God, Luke 21:4; the ministers of God, 2 Corinthians 6:4; the tabernacle of God, 2 Chronicles 1:3; the temple of God, Matthew 21:12; the synagogues of God, Psalm 74:8; are all things consecrated or appropriated to God‘s service; so προσευχη του Θεου must, in all reason, be a house of prayer to God; whence it is called τοπος προσευχης , a place of prayer, 1 Maccabees 3:46; and so the word is certainly used Acts 16:13; and by Philo, in his oration against Flaccus, where he complains that αἱ προσευχαι , their houses for prayer were pulled down, and there was no place left in which they might worship God, or pray for Caesar; and by Josephus, who says the multitude was gathered εις την προσευχην , into the house of prayer: and so Juvenal, Sat. iii. v. 296, speaks to the mendicant Jew: -
See on Acts 16:13 (note). But on this it may be observed, that as the mountains of God, the wind of God, the hail of God, the trees of God, etc., mean very high mountains, a very strong wind, great and terrible hail, very tall trees, etc., so προσευχη του Θεου , here, may be very properly translated the prayer of God; i.e. very fervent and earnest prayer; and though διανυκτερευων may signify, to lodge in a place for a night, yet there are various places in the best Greek writers in which it is used, not to signify a place, but to pass the night in a particular state. So Appian, Bell. Pun. Εν τοις ὁπλοις διενυκτερευϚε μεθ ‘ ἁπαντων - He passed the night under arms with them all. Idem, Bell. Civ. lib. v. διενυκτερευον - They passed the night without food, without any regard to the body, and in the want of all things. See more examples in Kypke, who concludes by translating the passage thus: He passed the night without sleep in prayers to God. Some of the Jews imagine that God himself prays; and this is one of his petitions: Let it be my good pleasure, that my mercy overcome my wrath. See more in Lightfoot.
He chose twelve - Εκλεξαμενος απ ‘ αυτων , He chose twelve Out of them. Our Lord at this time had several disciples, persons who were converted to God under his ministry; and, out of these converts, he chose twelve, whom he appointed to the work of the ministry; and called them apostles, i.e. persons sent or commissioned by himself, to preach that Gospel to others by which they had themselves been saved. These were favored with extraordinary success:
1.Because they were brought to the knowledge of God themselves.
2.Because they received their commission from the great Head of the Church. And
3.Because, as he had sent them, he continued to accompany their preaching with the power of his Spirit.
These three things always unite in the character of a genuine apostle. See on Matthew 10:1-4 (note).
Called Zelotes - Some Jews gave this name to themselves, according to Josephus, (War, b. iv. c. iii. s. 9, and vii. c. viii. s. 1), “because they pretended to be more than ordinarily zealous for religion, and yet practised the very worst of actions.” “But this (says the judicious Bp. Pearce) Josephus says of the zealots, at the time when Vespasian was marching towards Jerusalem. They probably were men of a different character above forty years before; which was the time when Jesus chose his twelve apostles, one of whom had the surname of the Zealot.” It is very probable that this name was first given to certain persons who were more zealous for the cause of pure and undefiled religion than the rest of their neighbors; but like many other sects and parties who have begun well, they transferred their zeal for the essentials of religion to nonessential things, and from these to inquisitorial cruelty and murder. See on Matthew 10:4 (note).
And stood in the plain - In Matthew 5:1, which is supposed to be the parallel place, our Lord is represented as delivering this sermon on the mountain; and this has induced some to think that the sermon mentioned here by Luke, though the same in substance with that in Matthew, was delivered in a different place, and at another time; but, as Dr. Priestly justly observes, Matthew‘s saying that Jesus was sat down after he had gone up to the mountain, and Luke‘s saying that he stood on the plain when he healed the sick, before the discourse, are no inconsistencies. The whole picture is striking. Jesus ascends a mountain, employs the night in prayer; and, having thus solemnly invoked the Divine blessing, authoritatively separates the twelve apostles from the mass of his disciples. He then descends, and heals in the plain all the diseased among a great multitude, collected from various parts by the fame of his miraculous power. Having thus created attention, he likewise satisfies the desire of the people to hear his doctrine; and retiring first to the mountain whence he came, that his attentive hearers might follow him and might better arrange themselves before him - Sacro digna silentio mirantur omnes dicere. Horace. All admire his excellent sayings with sacred silence. See Bishop Newcome‘s notes on his Harmony of the Gospels, p. 19.
Blessed be ye poor - See the sermon on the mount paraphrased and explained, Matthew 5 (note), Matthew 6 (note), Matthew 7 (note),
They shall separate you - Meaning, They will excommunicate you, αφορισωσιν ὑμας , or separate you from their communion. Luke having spoken of their separating or excommunicating them, continues the same idea, in saying that they would cast out their name likewise, as a thing evil in itself. By your name is meant their name as his disciples. As such, they were sometimes called Nazarenes, and sometimes Christians; and both these names were matter of reproach in the mouths of their enemies. So James (James 2:7) says to the converts, Do they not blaspheme that worthy name by which ye are called? So when St. Paul (in Acts 24:5) is called a ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes, the character of a pestilent fellow, and, that of a mover of sedition, is joined to it; and, in Acts 28:22, the Jews say to Paul, As concerning this sect, we know that every where it is spoken against; and this is implied in 1 Peter 4:14, when he says, If ye be reproached for the Name of Christ, i.e. as Christians; agreeably to what follows there in 1 Peter 4:16, If any man suffer as a Christian, etc. In after times we find Pliny, Epist. x. 97, consulting the Emperor Trajan, whether or no he should Punish the Name Itself, (of Christian), though no evil should be found in it. Nomen Ipsum, etiam si flagitiis careat, Puniatur. See Pearce.
Did - unto the prophets - See 1 Kings 18:4; 1 Kings 19:20; 2 Chronicles 24:21; 2 Chronicles 36:16; Nehemiah 9:26.
But wo unto you that are rich! - The Pharisees, who were laden with the spoils of the people which they received in gifts, etc. These three verses are not found in the sermon, as recorded by Matthew. They seem to be spoken chiefly to the scribes and Pharisees, who, in order to be pleasing to all, spoke to every one what he liked best; and by finesse, flattery, and lies, found out the method of gaining and keeping the good opinion of the multitude.
Thy cloak - thy coat - In Matthew 5:40, I have said that Coat, χιτωνα , signifies under garment, or strait coat; and Cloak, ἱματιον , means upper garment, or great coat. This interpretation is confirmed by the following observations of Bishop Pearce. The χιτων was a tunica, or vestcoat, over which the Jews and other nations threw an outer coat, or gown, called a cloak, Matthew 5:40, (which is meant by ἱματιον ), when they went abroad, or were not at work. Hence the common people at Rome, who did not usually wear, or had no right to wear, the toga, are called by Horace tunicatus popellus, Epist. i. 7, 65. This account of the difference between the χιτων and the ἱματιον appears plainly from what Maximus Tyrius says, The inner garment which is over the body they call χιτωνισκον , and the outer one the ἱματιον . And so Plutarch, (in Nupt. p. 139, ed. Fran. 1620), speaking of a man who felt the heat of the sun too much for him, says that he put off, τον χιτωνα, τῳ ἰματιῳ , his vestcoat also with his cloak.
Ask them not again - Or, Do not beg them off. This probably refers to the way in which the tax-gatherers and Roman soldiers used to spoil the people. “When such harpies as these come upon your goods, suffer the injury quietly, leaving yourselves in the hand of God, rather than attempt even to beg off what belongs to you, lest on their part they be provoked to seize or spoil more, and lest you be irritated to sue them at law, which is totally opposite to the spirit and letter of the Gospel; or to speak bad words, or indulge wrong tempers, which would wound the spirit of love and mercy.” Of such as these, and of all merciless creditors, who even sell the tools and bed of a poor man, it may be very truly said: -
However, it is probable that what is here spoken relates to requiring a thing speedily that had been lent, while the reason for borrowing it still continues. In Ecclus. 20:15, it is a part of the character of a very bad man, that to-day he lendeth, and tomorrow will he ask it again. From Luke 6:27 to Luke 6:30 our blessed Lord gives us directions how to treat our enemies.
1.Wish them well.
2.Do them good.
6.Give up your goods rather than lose your meekness and charity towards them.
The retaliation of those who hearken not to their own passion, but to Christ, consists in doing more good than they receive evil. Ever since our blessed Savior suffered the Jews to take away his life, it is by his patience that we must regulate our own. Quesnel.
For sinners also love those that love them - I believe the word ἁμαρτωλοι is used by St. Luke in the same sense in which τελωναι , tax-gatherers, is used by St. Matthew, Matthew 5:46, Matthew 5:47, and signifies heathens; not only men who have no religion, but men who acknowledge none. The religion of Christ not only corrects the errors and reforms the disorders of the fallen nature of man, but raises it even above itself: it brings it near to God; and, by universal love, leads it to frame its conduct according to that of the Sovereign Being. “A man should tremble who finds nothing in his life besides the external part of religion, but what may be found in the life of a Turk or a heathen.” The Gospel of the grace of God purifies and renews the heart, causing it to resemble that Christ through whom the grace came. See the note on Luke 7:37.
Of whom ye hope to receive - Or, whom ye expect to return it. “To make our neighbor purchase, in any way, the assistance which we give him, is to profit by his misery; and, by laying him under obligations which we expect him in some way or other to discharge, we increase his wretchedness under the pretense of relieving it.”
Love ye your enemies - This is the most sublime precept ever delivered to man: a false religion durst not give a precept of this nature, because, with out supernatural influence, it must be for ever impracticable. In these words of our blessed Lord we see the tenderness, sincerity, extent, disinterestedness, pattern, and issue of the love of God dwelling in man: a religion which has for its foundation the union of God and man in the same person, and the death of this august being for his enemies; which consists on earth in a reconciliation of the Creator with his creatures, and which is to subsist in heaven only in the union of the members with the head: could such a religion as this ever tolerate hatred in the soul of man, even to his most inveterate foe?
Lend, hoping for nothing again - Μηδεν απελπιζοντες . The rabbins say, he who lends without usury, God shall consider him as having observed every precept. Bishop Pearce thinks that, instead of μηδεν we should read μηδενα with the Syriac, later Arabic, and later Persic; and as απελπιζειν signifies to despair, or cause to despair, the meaning is, not cutting off the hope (of longer life) of any man, neminis spem amputantes, by denying him those things which he requests now to preserve him from perishing.
Be ye therefore merciful - Or, compassionate; οικτιρμονες , from οικτος , commiseration, which etymologists derive from εικω to give place, yield, because we readily concede those things which are necessary to them whom we commiserate. As God is ever disposed to give all necessary help and support to those who are miserable, so his followers, being influenced by the same spirit, are easy to be entreated, and are at all times ready to contribute to the uttermost of their power to relieve or remove the miseries of the distressed. A merciful or compassionate man easily forgets injuries; pardons them without being solicited; and does not permit repeated returns of ingratitude to deter him from doing good, even to the unthankful and the unholy. See on Matthew 5:7 (note).
Judge not - See on Matthew 7:1 (note). “How great is the goodness of God, in being so willing to put our judgment into our own hands as to engage himself not to enter into judgment with us, provided we do not usurp the right which belongs solely to him in reference to others!”
Condemn not - “Mercy will ever incline us not to condemn those unmercifully whose faults are certain and visible; to lessen, conceal, and excuse them as much as we can without prejudice to truth and justice; and to be far from aggravating, divulging, or even desiring them to be punished.”
Forgive - The mercy and compassion which God recommends extend to the forgiving of all the injuries we have received, or can receive. To imitate in this the mercy of God is not a mere counsel; since it is proposed as a necessary mean, in order to receive mercy. What man has to forgive in man is almost nothing: man‘s debt to God is infinite. And who acts in this matter as if he wished to receive mercy at the hand of God! The spirit of revenge is equally destitute of faith and reason.
Give, and it shall be given - “Christian charity will make no difficulty in giving that which eternal truth promises to restore. Let us give, neither out of mere human generosity, nor out of vanity, nor from interest, but for the sake of God, if we would have him place it to account. There is no such thing as true unmixed generosity but in God only; because there is none but him who receives no advantage from his gifts, and because he engages himself to pay these debts of his creatures with an excessive interest. So great is the goodness of God, that, when he might have absolutely commanded us to give to our neighbor, he vouchsafes to invite us to this duty by the prospect of a reward, and to impute that to us as a desert which he has a right to exact of us by the title of his sovereignty over our persons and estates.”
Bosom - Κολπον , or lap. Almost all ancient nations wore long, wide, and loose garments; and when about to carry any thing which their hands could not contain, they used a fold of their robe in nearly the same way as women here use their aprons. The phrase is continually occurring in the best and purest Greek writers. The following example from Herodotus, b. vi., may suffice to show the propriety of the interpretation given above, and to expose the ridiculous nature of covetousness. “When Croesus had promised to Alcmaeon as much gold as he could carry about his body at once, in order to improve the king‘s liberality to the best advantage, he put on a very wide tunic, ( κιθωνα μεγαν ), leaving a great space in the Bosom, κολπον βαθυν , and drew on the largest buskins he could find. Being conducted to the treasury, he sat down on a great heap of gold, and first filled the buskins about his legs with as much gold as they could contain, and, having filled his whole Bosom, κολπον , loaded his hair with ingots, and put several pieces in his mouth, he walked out of the treasury, etc.” What a ridiculous figure must this poor sinner have cut, thus heavy laden with gold, and the love of money! See many other examples in Kypke and Raphelius. See also Psalm 129:7; Proverbs 6:27; Proverbs 17:23.
The same measure that ye mete withal, it shall be measured to you again - The same words we find in the Jerusalem Targum on Genesis 38:26. Our Lord therefore lays down a maxim which themselves allowed.
Can the blind lead the blind? - This appears to have been a general proverb, and to signify that a man cannot teach what he does not understand. This is strictly true in spiritual matters. A man who is not illuminated from above is utterly incapable of judging concerning spiritual things, and wholly unfit to be a guide to others. Is it possible that a person who is enveloped with the thickest darkness should dare either to judge of the state of others, or attempt to lead them in that path of which he is totally ignorant! If he do, must not his judgment be rashness, and his teaching folly? - and does he not endanger his own soul, and run the risk of falling into the ditch of perdition himself, together with the unhappy objects of his religious instruction?
Every one that is perfect - Or, thoroughly instructed, κατηρτισμενος : - from καταρτιζω , to adjust, adapt, knit together, restore, or put in joint. The noun is used by the Greek medical writers to signify the reducing a luxated or disjointed limb. It sometimes signifies to repair or mend, and in this sense it is applied to broken nets, Matthew 4:21; Mark 1:19; but in this place, and in Hebrews 13:21; 2 Timothy 3:17, it means complete instruction and information. Every one who is thoroughly instructed in Divine things, who has his heart united to God, whose disordered tempers and passions are purified and restored to harmony and order; every one who has in him the mind that was in Christ, though he cannot be above, yet will be as, his teacher - holy, harmless, undefiled, and separate from sinners.
And why beholdest thou the mote - See this explained on Matthew 7:3-5 (note).
Corrupt fruit - Καρπον σαπρον , literally, rotten fruit: but here it means, such fruit as is unfit for use. See on Matthew 7:17-20 (note).
A good man - See on Matthew 12:35 (note).
Lord, Lord - God judges of the heart, not by words, but by works. A good servant never disputes, speaks little, and always follows his work. Such a servant a real Christian is: such is a faithful minister, always intent either on the work of his own salvation, or that of his neighbor; speaking more to God than to men; and to these as in the presence of God. The tongue is fitly compared by one to a pump, which empties the heart, but neither fills nor cleanses it. The love of God is a hidden spring, which supplies the heart continually, and never permits it to be dry or unfruitful. Quesnel.
I will show you - Ὑποδειξω , I will show you plainly. I will enable you fully to comprehend my meaning on this subject by the following parable. See this word explained Matthew 3:7 (note).
He is like a man, etc. - See on Matthew 7:24-27 (note).
The ruin of that house was great - On this passage, father Quesnel, who was a most rigid predestinarian, makes the following judicious remark. “It is neither by the speculations of astrologers, nor by the Calvinian assurance of predestination, that we can discover what will be our portion for ever: but it is by the examination of our heart, and the consideration of our life, that we may in some measure prognosticate our eternal state. Without a holy heart and a holy life, all is ruinous in the hour of temptation, and in the day of wrath.” To this may be added, He that believeth on the Son of God, hath the Witness in Himself: 1 John 5:10.
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