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Bible Commentaries
Luke 6

Barnes' Notes on the Whole BibleBarnes' Notes

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Luke 6:1-11. See this passage explained in the notes at Matthew 12:1-13.

Verse 1

Second sabbath after the first - See the notes at Matthew 12:1. This phrase has given great perplexity to commentators. A “literal” translation would be, “on the Sabbath called “second first,”” or second first Sabbath. The word occurs nowhere else. It is therefore exceedingly difficult of interpretation. The most natural and easy explanation is that proposed by Scaliger. The “second day” of the Passover was a great festival, on which the wave-sheaf was offered, Leviticus 23:11. From “that day” they reckoned “seven weeks,” or seven “Sabbaths,” to the day of Pentecost. The “first” Sabbath after that “second day” was called the “second first,” or the first from the second day of the feast. The “second” Sabbath was called the “second second,” or the second Sabbath from the second day of the feast; the third the “third second,” etc. This day, therefore, on which the Saviour went through the fields, was the first Sabbath that occurred after the second day of the feast.

Rubbing them in their hands - The word “corn” here means wheat or barley, and not maize, as in America. They rubbed it in their hands to separate the grain from the chaff. This was common and allowable. Dr. Thomson (“The Land and the Book,” vol. ii. p. 510, 511) says: “I have often seen my muleteers, as we passed along the wheat fields, pluck off ears, rub them in their hands, and eat the grains, unroasted, just as the apostles are said to have done. This also is allowable. The Pharisees did not object to the thing itself, only to the time when it was done. They said it was not lawful to do this on the Sabbath-day. It was work forbidden by those who, through their traditions, had made man for the Sabbath, not the Sabbath for man.” So Professor Hackett (“Illustrations of Scripture,” p. 176, 177) says: “The incident of plucking the ears of wheat, rubbing out the kernels in their hands, and eating them Luke 6:1, is one which the traveler sees often at present who is in Palestine at the time of the gathering of the harvest. Dr. Robinson relates the following case: ‘Our Arabs were an hungered, and, going into the fields, they plucked the ears of grain and did eat, rubbing them in their hands. On being questioned, they said this was an old custom, and no one would speak against it; they were supposed to be hungry, and it was allowed as a charity.’ The Pharisees complained of the disciples for violating the Sabbath, and not any rights of property.”

Verse 8

But he knew there thoughts - He knew their thoughts - their dark, malicious designs - by the question, which they proposed to him, whether it was lawful to heal on the Sabbath-days (Matthew). In “reply” to their question, Jesus asked them whether they would not release a “sheep” on the Sabbath-day if it was fallen into a pit, and also asked “them” whether it was better to do good than to do evil on that day, implying that to “omit” to do “good” was, in fact, doing “evil.”

Verse 11

Were filled with madness - Probably,

  1. Because he had shown his “power” to work a miracle.
  2. Because he had shown his power to do it “contrary” to what “they” thought was right.
  3. Because by doing it he had shown that he was from “God,” and that “they” were therefore “wrong” in their views of the Sabbath. And,
  4. Because he had shown no respect “to their views” of what the law of God demanded.

Pride, obstinacy, malice, and disappointed self-confidence were “all” combined, therefore, in producing madness. Nor were they alone. Men are often enraged because others do good in a way which “they” do not approve of. God gives success to others; and because he has not accommodated himself to “their” views of what is right, and done it in the way which “they” would have prescribed, they are enraged, and filled with envy at people more successful than themselves.

Communed one with another - Spoke together, or laid a plan.

Verse 12

And it came to pass in those days - The designation of the time here is very general. It means “about” the time when the events occurred which had been just narrated.

He went out into a mountain - Jesus was accustomed to resort to such places to hold communion with God, Mark 6:46. He did it because it was retired, free from interruption, and fitted by impressiveness and grandeur to raise the thoughts to the God that had formed the high hills and the deep-shaded groves.

And continued all night in prayer to God - There has been a difference of opinion about this passage, whether it means that he spent the night in the act of “praying” to God, or in a “place” of prayer. The Jews had places of prayer, called “oratories,” built out of their cities or towns, where they could retire from the bustle of a city and hold communion with God. They were built on the banks of rivers (compare Acts 16:13), in groves, or on hills. They were rude inclosures, made by building a rough wall of stone around a level piece of ground, and capable of accommodating a small number who might resort thither to pray. But the more probable opinion is that he spent the whole night in supplication; for:

1. This is the obvious meaning of the passage.

2. The object for which he went out was “to pray.”

3. It was an occasion of great importance. He was about to send out his apostles - to lay the foundation of his religion - and he therefore set apart this time especially to seek the divine blessing.

4. It was no unusual thing for Jesus to spend much time in prayer, and we are not to wonder that he passed an entire night in supplication. If it be asked why Jesus should pray “at all” if he was divine, it may be replied that he was also a “man” - a man subject to the same sufferings as others, and, “as a man,” needing the divine blessing. There was no more inconsistency in his “praying” than there was in his “eating.” Both were “means” employed for an end, and both were equally consistent with his being divine. But Jesus was also “Mediator,” and as such it was proper to seek the divine direction and blessing. In “this” case he has set us an example that we should follow. In great emergencies, when we have important duties, or are about to encounter special difficulties, we should seek the divine blessing and direction by “prayer.” We should set apart an unusual portion of time for supplication. Nay, if we pass the “whole night” in prayer, it should not be charged as enthusiasm. Our Saviour did it. Men of the world often pass whole nights in plans of gain or in dissipation, and shall it be esteemed strange that Christians should spend an equal portion of time in the far more important business of religion?

Verses 13-16

See the notes at Matthew 10:1-4.

Verse 17

And stood in the plain - It is not affirmed, however, that he stood in the plain when he delivered the following discourse. There has been some doubt whether the following discourse is the same as that recorded in Matthew 5:0; Matthew 6:0; Matthew 7:0, or whether the Saviour “repeated” the substance of that discourse, and that Luke recorded it as he repeated it. The reasons which have led many to suppose that they refer to the same are:

  1. That the beginning and the close are alike.
  2. That the “substance” of each is the same. And,
  3. That “after” the discourse was delivered, both affirm that Jesus went to Capernaum and healed the servant of the centurion, Matthew 8:5-13; Luke 7:1-10.

On the other hand, “Matthew” says that the sermon was delivered on the “mountain” Matthew 5:1; it is thought to be implied that “Luke” affirms that it was in the “plain.” Matthew says that he “sat;” Luke, that he “stood.” Yet there is no reason to suppose that there is a difference in the evangelists. Jesus spent the night on the mountain in prayer. In the morning he descended into the open plain and healed many. While there, as Luke says, he “stood” and received those who came to him, and healed their diseases. There is no impropriety in supposing that, being pressed by multitudes, he retired into the mountain again, or to an eminence in the plain, or to the side of the mountain, where the people might be more conveniently arranged and seated to hear him. There he “sat,” as recorded by Matthew, and delivered the discourse; for it is to be observed that Luke does “not” say that he delivered the sermon “on the plain,” but only that he “healed the sick there.”

Tyre and Sidon - See the notes at Matthew 11:21.

Verse 18

Vexed - The word “vex” with us means to provoke, or irritate by petty provocations. Here it means, however, to “afflict,” to “torment” - denoting deep and heavy trials.

Unclean spirits - Demons that were impure and unholy, having a delight in tormenting, and in inflicting painful and loathsome diseases.

Verse 19

Virtue - Healing power. See the notes at Mark 5:30.

Verses 20-49

See this passage fully illustrated in the sermon on the mount, in Matt. 5–7.

Luke 6:21

That hunger now - Matthew has it, “that hunger and thirst after righteousness.” Matthew has expressed more fully what Luke has briefly, but there is no contradiction.

Luke 6:24-26

These verses have been omitted by Matthew. They seem to have been spoken to the Pharisees.

Who are rich - In this world’s goods. They loved them; they had sought for them; they found their consolation in them. It implies, farther, that they would not seek or receive consolation from the gospel. They were proud, and would not seek it; satisfied, and did not desire it; filled with cares, and had no time or disposition to attend to it. All the consolation which they had reason to expect they had received. Alas! how poor and worthless is such consolation, compared with that which the gospel would give!

Woe unto you that are full! - Not hungry. Satisfied with their wealth, and not feeling their need of anything better than earthly wealth can give. Many, alas! are thus “full.” They profess to be satisfied. They desire nothing but wealth, and a sufficiency to satisfy the wants of the body. They have no anxiety for the riches that shall endure forever.

Ye shall hunger - Your property shall be taken away, or you shall see that it is of little value; and then you shall see the need of something better. You shall feel your want and wretchedness, and shall “hunger” for something to satisfy the desires of a dying, sinful soul.

That laugh now - Are happy, or thoughtless, or joyful, or filled with levity.

Shall mourn and weep - The time is coming when you shall sorrow deeply. In sickness, in calamity, in the prospect of death, in the fear of eternity, your laughter shall be turned into sorrow. “There is” a place where you cannot laugh, and there you will see the folly of having passed the “proper time” of preparing for such scenes in levity and folly. Alas! how many thus spend their youth! and how many weep when it is too late! God gives them over, and “laughs” at their “calamity,” and mocks when their fear comes, Proverbs 1:26. To be happy in “such scenes,” it is necessary to be sober, humble, pious in early life. “Then” we need not weep in the day of calamity; then there will be no terror in death; then there will be nothing to fear in the grave.

Luke 6:26

When all men shall speak well of you - When they shall praise or applaud you. The people of the world will not praise or applaud “my” doctrine; they are “opposed” to it, and therefore, if they speak well of “you” and of “your teachings,” it is proof that you do not teach the true doctrine. If you do “not” do this, then there will be woe upon you. If men teach false doctrines for true; if they declare that God has spoken that which he has not spoken, and if they oppose what he “has” delivered, then heavy punishments will await them.

For so did their fathers - The fathers or ancestors of this people; the ancient Jews.

To the false prophets - Men who pretended to be of God - who delivered their “own” doctrines as the truth of God, and who accommodated themselves to the desires of the people. Of this number were the prophets of Baal, the false prophets who appeared in the time of Jeremiah, etc.

Luke 6:27, Luke 6:28

See Matthew 5:44-45.

Luke 6:29

See Matthew 5:39-40.

Luke 6:30

See Matthew 5:42.

Luke 6:31

See Matthew 7:12.

Luke 6:32-36

See Matthew 5:46-48.

Luke 6:37-42

See Matthew 7:1-9.

Luke 6:38

Good measure - They shall give you good measure, or “full” measure.

Pressed down - As figs or grapes might be, and thus many more might be put into the measure.

Shaken together - To make it more compact, and thus to give more.

Running over - So full that the measure would overflow.

Shall men give - This is said to be the reward of “giving” to the poor and needy; and the meaning is that the man who is liberal will find others liberal to him in dealing with them, and when he is also in circumstances of want. A man who is himself kind to the poor - who has that “character” established - will find many who are ready to help “him” abundantly when he is in want. He that is parsimonious, close, niggardly, will find few or none who will aid him.

Into your bosom - That is, to you. The word “bosom” here has reference to a custom among Oriental nations of making the bosom or front part of their garments large, so that articles could be carried in them, answering the purpose of our pockets. Compare Exodus 4:6-7; Proverbs 6:27; Ruth 3:15.

Luke 6:39

A parable - A proverb or similitude.

Can the blind lead the blind? - See the notes at Matthew 15:14.

Luke 6:40

The disciple is not ... - The learner is not above his teacher, does not know more, and must expect to fare no better. This seems to have been spoken to show them that they were not to expect that their disciples would go “beyond them” in attainments; that if they were blind, their followers would be also; and that therefore it was important for them to understand fully the doctrines of the gospel, and not to be blind leaders of the blind.

Every one that is perfect - The word rendered “is perfect” means sometimes to repair or mend, and is thus applied to mending nets, Matthew 4:21; Mark 1:19. Hence, it means to repair or amend in a moral sense, or to make whole or complete. Here it means, evidently, “thoroughly instructed” or “informed.” The Christian should be like his Master - holy, harmless, and undefiled, and separate from sinners. He should copy his example, and grow into the likeness of his Redeemer. Nor can any other be a Christian.

Luke 6:41, Luke 6:42

See the notes at Matthew 7:3-5.

Luke 6:43, Luke 6:44

See the notes at Matthew 7:16-18.

Luke 6:45

This verse is not found in the sermon on the mount as recorded by Matthew, but is recorded by him in Matthew 12:35. See the notes at that passage.

Luke 6:46-49

See the notes at Matthew 7:21-27.

Bibliographical Information
Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Luke 6". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/bnb/luke-6.html. 1870.
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