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Bible Commentaries

Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible

Luke 6

Verses 1-49

Choice of the Twelve. Sermon in the Plain

1-5. Plucking the ears of corn (Matthew 12:1; Mark 2:23). See on Mt and Mk.

1. On the second sabbath after the first] Gk. deuteroprôton, lit. ’second-first.’ There is considerable ground for omitting this obscure expression as interpolated, and reading simply, ’on a sabbath,’ with the RV. If, however, it is genuine, it probably means, ’on the second sabbath after the waving of the sheaf on the second day of the Passover festival’ (see Leviticus 23:1-15). It was the custom to number the sabbaths from Passover to Pentecost from this day. Of the numerous other interpretations the best are, ’the second chief sabbath of the year’ (i.e. Pentecost), and ’the first sabbath of the second month of the year.’ The ’Jewish Encycl’ conjectures that the disciples were blamed for plucking the ears before the sheaf was waved, which was forbidden (Leviticus 23:15).

5. In one important MS, the Codex Bezæ, this v. is placed after Luke 6:10, and in its place is inserted this remarkable incident and saying of Jesus: ’On the same day He saw a man working on the sabbath, and said to him: “O man, if thou knowest what thou doest, blessed art thou. But if thou knowest not, cursed art thou, and a transgressor of the law.” ’The utterance is perhaps authentic. ’In substance it certainly bears the mark of genius. I regard it as an interpolated fragment of a true tradition’ (Meyer). ’We may believe that this traditional story is true’ (Plummer). ’Its form and contents speak for its originality, and, I am disposed to believe, its authenticity’ (Alford). On the contrary, Godet says, ’This can only be an invention or a perversion.’

6-11. The man with the withered hand (Matthew 12:9; Mark 3:1). See on Mt.

12-19. Choice of the Twelve (Matthew 10:2; Mark 3:13). See on Mt and Mk.

16. Judas the brother of James] So AV and RM. But RV ’Judas the son of James.’

17. In the plain] RV ’on a level place.’ This may have been a plateau, high up the mountains, but see on Matthew 5:1.

20-49. Great sermon to the disciples and in part to the multitudes. It forms here the ordination address of the Twelve. In what sense it is identical with the Sermon on the Mount is explained on Matthew 5:1. That it is for all practical purposes the same sermon, but abridged, is shown by the fact that it contains only five verses (Luke 6:24-26, Luke 6:39-40) which are not in St. Matthew’s version, and that it follows St. Matthew’s order.

Analysis: (1) Four beatitudes, on the poor, the hungry, weepers, and the hated (Luke 6:20-23).

(2) Four woes, on the rich, the full, laughers, and the well spoken of (Luke 6:24-26).

(3) Exhortation to love, as shown in returning good for evil, not resisting evil, loving enemies, not judging rashly (Luke 6:27-38).

(4) Exhortation to stringent self-examination on the part of those who presume to guide others, lest they be found to be hypocrites (Luke 6:39-45).

(5) Exhortation to obedience. The strong foundation upon which obedient Christians build (Luke 6:46-49).

St. Luke’s sermon is much less striking than St. Matthew’s. It omits the whole question of the relation of the Gospel to the Law, and all those passages in which Christ claims to be the supreme Legislator, Judge, and Ruler of the human race; it has only four beatitudes instead of eight, and in general gives the impression of an abridged and imperfect report, in which some of the sayings, owing to extensive omissions, do not appear in their true context. Some, but not all, of St. Luke’s omissions can be accounted for by the fact that his Gospel was intended for Gentiles.

Some critics profess to find in St. Luke’s sermon an Ebionitic, or as we should now say, a socialistic or communistic tendency. Probably wrongly, for by ’the poor’ and ’the hungry,’ St. Luke does not mean the literally such, any more than St. Matthew, who expressly speaks of ’the poor in spirit,’ and of those who ’hunger and thirst after righteousness.’ So also St. Luke’s rich, well-fed, and prosperous persons, are not simply the well-to-do, but those who have the vices of their station. Our Lord never approves poverty or condemns riches simply as such. See on Mt.

20-23. Four Beatitudes. See on Matthew 5:3-12.

22. Separate you] viz. by excommunication. The usual sentence was for thirty days, during which the excommunicated might not come within four cubits of any one.

24-26. Four woes (peculiar to Lk). The ’woes’ refer chiefly to future punishment in the world to come, but not exclusively, for in the siege of Jerusalem they received a literal fulfilment.

24. You that are rich] i.e. those who, possessing wealth, trust in it (Mark 10:24), or spend it in selfish luxury like Dives (Luke 16:19), and despise the poor (James 2:6), and oppress them (James 5:4). Ye have received your consolation] cp. Abraham’s words to Dives (Luke 16:25), ’Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst (in full) thy good things.’

25. You that are full] and careless of your poorer brethren’s needs, like the rich man ’who fared sumptuously every day’ (Luke 16:19). Shall hunger] Spiritual destitution is meant, in this world and the next. That laugh] The godless, contemptuous laughter of the wicked (Sirach 19:30) is meant. Innocent mirth is approved by Christ (Luke 15:24). Mourn and weep] viz. in the world to come.

26. A warning to all Christian ministers and teachers not to court popularity by speaking smooth words, and saying ’Peace, when there is no peace.’ Plutarch relates of Phocion the Athenian, ’Once while he was delivering a public speech and making a good impression, and saw that all his hearers were equally pleased with what he said, he turned to his friends and said, “Surely I must have forgotten myself, and said something wrong.” ’Similarly Diogenes Laertius relates of a certain philosopher, that when some one announced to him that all men were praising him, he replied,’ Why, what evil have I done?’

The false prophets] cp. Jeremiah 5:31; Jeremiah 6:14; Jeremiah 8:11; Ezekiel 13:10.

27-38. Exhortations to love, forgiveness of injuries, and avoiding of rash judgments.

27-30. See on Matthew 5:30-42.

31. See on Matthew 7:12.

32-36. See on Matthew 5:42-48.

37, 38. See on Matthew 7:1, Matthew 7:2.

39. St. Matthew gives this saying in a much more suitable connexion (Matthew 15:14), where it is applied to the Pharisees. Here it appears to mean that before judging others we must judge ourselves, otherwise we shall be blind leaders of the blind. The ditch] RY ’a pit.’ Palestine is full of unfenced wells, quarries, etc.

40. Another saying which occurs in a more natural context in Matthew 10:24, q.v.

41-45. Exhortation to stringent self-examination on the part of religious guides.

41, 42. See on Matthew 7:3-5.

43-45. See on Matthew 7:16-20, and Matthew 12:33, Matthew 12:35.

46-49. Obedient hearing. See on Matthew 7:21-27.

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Bibliographical Information
Dummelow, John. "Commentary on Luke 6". "Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible". 1909.