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Bible Commentaries

Expositor's Dictionary of Texts

Luke 6

Verses 1-49

Luke 6:8

Of Zelter, as architect and musician, Goethe once remarked that 'as soon as he enters a city, the buildings stand before him, and tell him their merits and their faults. Then the musical societies receive him at once, and show themselves to the master with their virtues and their defects.'

Luke 6:10

After some time I went to a meeting at Arne-side, where Richard Myer was, who had been long lame of one of his arms. I was moved of the Lord to say unto him, amongst all the people, 'Stand up on thy legs '(for he was sitting down): and he stood up and stretched out his arm that had been lame a long time, and said, 'Be it known unto you, all people, that this day I am healed'. Yet his parents could hardly believe it; but after the meeting was done, they had him aside, and took off his doublet, and then saw it was true. He came soon after to Swarthmore meeting, and then declared how that the Lord had healed him.

From Fox's Journal for 1653.

References. VI. 12. W. P. Balfern, Glimpses of Jesus, p. 115. Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xiv. No. 798. Expositor (6th Series), vol. i. p. 370. VI. 12, 13. C. S. Macfarland, The Spirit Christlike, pp. 89 and 101. C. J. Vaughan, The Prayers of Jesus Christ, p. 23. VI. 13. H. P. Liddon, Sermons on Some Words of Christ, p. 130. Expositor (5th Series), vol. vii. p. 21: ibid. (6th Series), vol. vii. p. 338.

St. Simon and St. Jude, Apostles

Luke 6:15 ; Jude 1:1

The festival in remembrance of these two Apostles was first observed in the eleventh century, or soon after; and the fitness of a joint celebration on the same day is derived from the fact that in all the sacred catalogues their names are found in juxtaposition immediately after that of James the son of Alphæus.

Very little is said of either of these saintly men in the New Testament, but that little is profoundly interesting.

I. St Simon has two surnames in the Gospels 'Simon the Canaanite' and 'Simon called Zelotes'. These appellations have provoked much controversy: some biblical critics maintain that he is thus styled because he was a native of Cana in Galilee, while others maintain that this addition to his name contains no reference to the place of his birth, but indicates either his previous association with the Zealots, or his ardent temperament, which prompted him to exert himself with vehement earnestness for the spread of the Gospel, and for the vindication of its pure and holy doctrines. Be this as it may, St Matthew and St. Mark designate him 'Simon the Canaanite' the latter word of which should be rendered 'Cananite ' and St. Luke 'Simon called Zelotes' the latter word of which is equivalent to the Aramaic ' Cananite '. If he once belonged to the Zealots, he was one of a party among the Hebrews conspicuous for their fierce advocacy of the Mosaic ritual and their political abhorrence of foreign rule. One thing is certain, he belonged to the Apostolic band, and was one of the twelve disciples whom Christ called unto Him, and to whom He gave power to 'heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, and cast out devils'. He was therefore a good and virtuous man, or he had never received such a glorious commission from his Lord. On the dispersion of his fellow-Apostles after the great Day of Pentecost, he is said to have laboured successively 'in Egypt, and in the parts of Libya about Cyrene,' and elsewhere; and the Greek Menologies state that he subsequently visited Britain with his embassage of truth. Where and how did he die? Some say that he was crucified by the unbelieving inhabitants of this last-named country; and others affirm that he was put to death at Suanir, a city of Persia, in the seventy-fourth year of the Christian era, and at the same time as St. Jude. The workmen die somehow or other, but God carries on His work nevertheless, and will do so until the world, redeemed by His Son, is sanctified by His Spirit.

II. St. Jude, like St. Simon, also has two surnames Lebbæus and Thaddæus names somewhat uncertain, but, derived from the Hebrew, are generally interpreted as 'one that praises' and 'a man of heart'. He was brother of James the Less, son of Mary sister to the Virgin Mary, and therefore of our Lord's kindred. He was called to the Apostolate with the eleven others; and is specially mentioned in St. John's Gospel as asking Jesus, 'Lord, how is it that Thou wilt manifest Thyself unto us, and not unto the world? 'Evidently, he not only saw and knew Jesus, but He was formed in his heart as 'the hope of glory'. How precious, therefore, must those words have been to him, 'In My Father's House are many mansions'. No wonder that when 'the truth as it is in Jesus' was assailed by the Gnostics, St. Jude wrote his Epistle to exhort and encourage Christian believers to avoid their grievous heresies, and 'contend earnestly for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints,' and also to 'keep themselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life'. All this he did himself; until, after labouring in Judæa and Galilee, and in Samaria and Idumæa, his end came, and he entered into 'the joy of his Lord'.

Luke 6:15

No man is ever good for much who has not been carried off his feet by enthusiasm between twenty and thirty; but it needs to be bridled and bitted.

Froude.

References. VI. 15. Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xi. No. 639-VI. 16. Expositor (4th Series), vol. ix. p. 187. VI. 17-19 C. S. Macfarland, The Spirit Christlike, pp. 87, 101. VI. 19. J. Keble, Sermons for Advent to Christmas Eve, p. 187.

Luke 6:20

You are poor. But poverty arrests your pride, your sloth, your sensuality. It makes men ride over your head; they drive you here and there, but they drive you to forbearance, meekness, submission, tenderness.

If they drive you over the edge of life, then after that they have no more that they can do; they have let slip the leash, and can hold you no longer, and you are with God. But short of that, they can only benefit you by their oppression.

James Smetham.

The evangelic poverty is not so much a deliberate as an unconscious abstinence from that which most men desire.

F. W. H. Myers.

References. VI. 20. Expositor (4th Series), vol. iii. p. 307. VI. 20-23. A. B. Bruce, The Galilean Gospel, p. 39. Expositor (5th Series), vol. ii. p. 365; ibid. (6th Series), vol. x. p. 102. VI. 20-31. A. Maclaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture St. Luke, p. 126.

Luke 6:21

Wesley, describing a visit which he paid in 1777 to Bethnal Green hamlet, declares, 'I have not found any such distress, no, not in the prison of Newgate. One poor man was just creeping out of his sick-bed, to his ragged wife and three little children, who were more than half-naked and the very picture of famine; when one bringing in a loaf of bread, they all ran, seized upon it, and tore it in pieces in an instant. Who would not rejoice that there is another world?'

Luke 6:23

Carlyle moralizes thus on the fate of Robert Burns: 'The world... has ever, we fear, shown but small favour to its Teachers: hunger and nakedness, perils and reviling, the prison, the cross, the poison-chalice have, in most times and countries, been the market-price it has offered for wisdom, the welcome with which it has greeted those who have come to enlighten and purify it. Homer and Socrates and the Christian apostles belong to old days: but the world's Martyrology was not completed with these. Roger Bacon and Galileo languish in priestly dungeons; Tasso pines in the cell of a madhouse; Camoëns dies begging on the streets of Lisbon. So neglected, so "persecuted they the prophets," not in Judea only but in all places where men have been.'

Reference. VI. 25. J. H. Jowett, British Congregationalist, 25th July, 1907, p. 74.

Luke 6:26

In Wesley's Journal, Wednesday, 25th May, 1763, there is this entry, describing his reception at Aberdeen: 'Surely never was there a more open door. The four ministers of Aberdeen, the minister of the adjoining town, and the three ministers of Old Aberdeen, hitherto seem to have no dislike, but rather to wish us "good luck in the name of the Lord!" Most of the town's people seem as yet to. wish us well; so that there is no open opposition of any kind. O what spirit ought a preacher to be of, that he may be able to bear all this sunshine!'

In The Spirit of the Age, Hazlitt, analysing Wilberforce's character, declares that 'his conscience will not budge, unless the world goes with it. He does not seem greatly to dread the denunciation in Scripture, but rather to court it 'Woe to you, when all men shall speak well of you!' We suspect he is not quite easy in his mind, because West-India planters and Guinea traders do not join in his praise. His ears are not strongly enough tuned to drink in the execrations of the spoiler and the oppressor as the sweetest music. It is not enough that one-half of the human species (the images of God carved in ebony, as old Fuller calls them) shout his name as a champion and a saviour through vast burning zones, and moisten their parched lips with the gush of gratitude for deliverance from chains; he must have a Prime Minister drink his health at a Cabinet dinner for aiding to rivet on those of his country and of Europe!... He is anxious to do all the good he can without hurting himself or his fair fame.'

Reference. VI. 26. E. J. Boyce, Parochial Sermons, p. 201.

Luke 6:28-29

See the striking and familiar description of the genuine Cynic philosopher, drawn by Epictetus. 'He must be flogged like an ass, and when flogged he must love those who flog him, as if he were the father and the brother of all.... He must have such powers of endurance as to appear insensible to the common sort, a very stone. No man reviles him or strikes him or insults him, but he yields his body to let any one do with it what he pleases.'

There is nothing which makes us love a man so much as praying for him.

William Law.

I am morally convinced that in all branches of the Church of Christ, in every school of philosophy (those only excepted which wilfully reject the light of reason), there are thousands of men who are kept back from a full faith, solely by the darkness which springs from the fierce passions aroused by strife. Is it impossible to bring a new element into the contest that of loving-kindness, that absolute law of charity which is the characteristic of all which comes of God? Could not Christ's commissioned writers ( ecce ego mitto ad vos scribas ) introduce a hitherto untried method of polemics, one conformable to the Gospel of Love, one founded upon those divine precepts: 'Blessed are the peacemakers'; 'Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth'; 'Whosoever shall say to his brother, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire'; 'Whosoever shall strike thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also'; 'Be ye like unto your Heavenly Father, who maketh His sun to rise upon the just and the unjust'.... If ever any part of our work should take the shape of a course of publications, the most essential character of all our studies and discussions must be perfect gentleness and charity.

PÈRE GRATRY.

When any person injures me, I endeavour to raise my soul so high that his offence cannot reach me.

Descartes

References. VI. 30. Expositor (4th Series), vol. iii. p. 287. VI. 31. R. G. Soans, Sermons for the Young, p. 51. Expositor (4th Series), vol. iii. p. 422. Ibid. (5th Series), vol. vi. p. 464; vol. ix. p. 300. VI. 31, 32. D. Macleod, Christian World Pulpit, vol. lx. p. 125. VI. 32-34. Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xxvii. No. 1584. VI. 34, 35. Bishop Stubbs, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xlix. p. 129.

Luke 6:35

In describing the character of Zachary Macaulay, Sir George Trevelyan ( Life of Lord Macaulay, 1.) calls attention to the calm courage, self-control and unwearied patience with which he managed the colony of Negroes at Sierra Leone. 'The secret of his character and of his actions lay in perfect humility and an absolute faith. Events did not discompose him, because they were sent by One who best knew His own purposes. He was not fretted by the folly of others, or irritated by their hostility, because he regarded the humblest or the worst of mankind as objects, equally with himself, of the Divine love and care.'

References. VI. 35. Expositor (6th Series), vol. v. p. 219; vol. ix. p. 467; (7th Series), vol. x. p. 97; (5th Series), vol. iv. p. 156. J. Tolefree Parr, The White Life, p. 174. W. Y. Fullerton, Christ and Men, p. 70.

Luke 6:36

History has done justice to him [Lord Canning] and his wife, who never faltered through all the horrors and anxieties of the Indian Mutiny, but through all the raging of the frantic press and the timid Anglo-Indians, held high their courage and their faith, and earned for him what was meant for a sneer and a reproach, the finest Christian title of Clemency Canning'.

Sir Algernon West, Recollections, vol. 1. p. 294.

Mercy

Luke 6:36-38

I. Two Thoughts. In these words our Lord sets before us two thoughts:

1. The pattern of mercy, of justice, of forbearance, and forgiveness; of generosity, which we ought to follow, which is the example of 'The Highest' Whose children we are called 'Be ye therefore merciful'. And

2. The rule of God's judgment in matters between man and man 'With that same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again'. Thus, we see that, for the present, God is to us all, even to the unthankful and evil, what he would have us also to be. He is merciful, gracious; He spares, He condemns not, He forgives, He gives to us all 'good measure'. But between that life and this other comes the Day of Judgment, when we must give an account of the things done in the body, and of this Judgment this is one of the great rules: with what measure men have measured to others, it shall be measured to them again. Mercy will follow mercy, and he shall have judgment without mercy that hath showed no mercy. By the rule by which we have judged and condemned shall we, in our turn, be tried. There can be no looking for forgiveness, if forgiveness has on our part been denied. God's great rule of judgment and recompense answers to the second of the two great commandments that we should do to all men as we would they should do to us; as we have done to others, so, in the end, shall it be done to us; in all things as we sow, so shall we reap. And so also in our behaviour to others, in our treatment of them, in our judgments and words about them we must expect nothing more from our Great Judge than what we have been willing to give to them. Thus, we are now choosing the rule by which we shall be dealt with by-and-by.

II. God's Rule in Judgment. 'With the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.' Those words must surely seem to us some of the most awful words in the Bible, for

1. They are so plainly the words of that justice which all men acknowledge, that we not only believe, but feel, that they must be true. If we believe in a Judgment at all, then we must look to be dealt with in the same spirit, by the same measures, according to the truth and generosity which we have shown, when it was our turn to show mercy, to pass opinion, to help and share and give. Can any imagine that they may deal with men harshly, but that God ought to deal with themselves tenderly? This then is one thing that makes these words so awful, that we see for ourselves that it must be as they say. The other is that, while we feel the certainty of the law

2. We cannot see how it will be carried out. It lies in the awful darkness of the time to come. All we know is that, some time or other, a man's deeds will be returned upon him, and he will find out what God his Maker and Judge thought of his dealings with his brethren by what happens to himself.

III. Man's Unreasonable Judgment. We must all judge often, and sometimes condemn. The sin is not in judging and condemning, but in doing so without reason carelessly, unjustly for the sake of condemning, condemning without mercy and without fear. In this case the same harsh and unsparing judgment awaits ourselves. Dare anyone look back into his past and venture to say that he could endure the judgment, if, in God's justice, what he measured to others was to be exactly measured to him again? Yet that is God's rule. Can we hear of it and not tremble?

If there were nothing else to drive us to take refuge in God's offers of mercy in Christ, surely this alone would be enough. There is nothing but true repentance to save us from being dealt with exactly by the same measure which we have dealt to others.

God repays to men what they do. He measures back, and judges them by the standard they apply to their brethren.

R. W. Church, Village Sermons.

References. VI. 36. Expositor (4th Series), vol. iii. p. 212. C. Kingsley, The Good News of God, p. 362.

Luke 6:37

What is not needful and is commonly wrong, namely, is to pass a judgment on our fellow-creatures. Never let it be forgotten that there is scarcely a single moral action of a single man of which other men can have such a knowledge, in its ultimate grounds, its surrounding incidents, and the real determining causes of its merits, as to warrant their pronouncing a conclusive judgment upon it.

W. E. Gladstone.

The chief stronghold of hypocrisy is to be always judging one another.

Milton.

The same man who perhaps would be ashamed of talking at hazard about the properties of a flower, of a weed, of some figure in geometry, will put forth his guesses about the character of his brother-man, as if he had the fullest authority for all that he was saying....

But of all the errors in judging of others, some of the worst are made in judging of those who are nearest to us. They think that we have entirely made up our minds about them, and are apt to show us that sort of behaviour only which they know we expect. Perhaps, too, they fear us, as they are convinced that we do not and cannot sympathise with them, and so we move in a mist, and talk of phantoms as if they were living men, and think that we understand those who never interchange any discourse with us but the talk of the market-place.

Sir Arthur Helps.

Miss Mann... was a perfectly honest, conscientious woman, who had performed duties in her day from whose severe anguish many a human Peri, gazelle-eyed, silken-tressed, and silver tongued, would have shrunk appalled; she had passed alone through protracted scenes of suffering, exercised rigid self-denial, made large sacrifices of time, money, health, for those who had repaid her only by ingratitude, and now her main almost her sole fault was, that she was censorious. Censorious she certainly was.... She dissected impartially almost all her acquaintance; she made few distinctions; she allowed scarcely any one to be good.

Charlotte Bronte, Shirley, 10.

Men who see into their neighbours are very apt to be contemptuous, but men who see through them find something lying behind every human soul which it is not for them to sit in judgment on, or to attempt to sneer out of the order of God's manifold universe.

Oliver Wendell Holmes, in Elsie Venner.

Mrs. Weir's philosophy of life was summed up in one expression tenderness. In her view of the universe, which was all lighted up with a glow out of the doors of hell, good people must walk there in a kind of ecstasy of tenderness.... 'Are not two sparrows,' 'Whosoever shall smite thee,' 'Judge not, that ye be not judged' these texts she made her body of divinity; she put them on in the morning with her clothes, and lay down to sleep with them at night; they haunted her like a favourite air, they clung about her like a favourite perfume.

R. L. Stevenson, in Weir of Hermiston.

Some one, I think, asked in conversation at Rome, whether a certain interpretation of Scripture was Christian? It was answered that Dr. Arnold took it; I interposed, 'But is he a Christian?'

Newman's Apologia.

Another illustration of this is afforded by Wordsworth in his poem, Point Rash Judgment, where he describes himself and two friends, on a bright harvest morning, finding an old peasant angling on Lake Grasmere. Instinctively they blame him:

'Improvident and reckless,' we exclaimed,

'The man must be, who can thus lose a day

Of the mid-harvest, when the labourer's hire

Is ample, and some little might be stored

Wherewith to cheer him in the winter-time.'

On approaching nearer, however, they discover he is a gaunt, worn creature, no longer able to work in the field, and simply

using his best skill to gain

A pittance from the dead, unfeeling lake

That knew not of his wants.

The party felt properly rebuked for their harsh judgment of his case.

Nor did we fail to see within ourselves

What need there is to be reserved in speech,

And temper all our thoughts with charity.

They consequently named the spot, Point Rash Judgment.

References. VI. 37. H. J. Wilmot-Buxton, Sunday Sermonettes for a Year, p. 142. VI. 38. H. S. Holland, Christian World Pulpit, vol. 1. p. 200. Alfred Rowland, The Exchanged Crowns, p. 38.

Luke 6:39

We know how great an absurdity our Saviour accounted it for the blind to lead the blind; and to put him that cannot so much as see, to discharge the office of a watch. Nothing exposes more to contempt than ignorance.... In a governor, it cannot be without the conjunction of the highest imprudence; for who bid such a one aspire to teach and govern. A blind man sitting in the chimney-corner is pardonable enough, but sitting at the helm he is intolerable. If men will be illiterate and ignorant, let them be so in private, and to themselves, and not set their defects in a high place, to make them visible and conspicuous. If owls will not be hooted at, let them keep close within the tree, and not perch upon the taller boughs.

South.

References. VI. 39, 40. Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xxi. No. 1248. VI. 40. Expositor (5th Series), vol. v. p. 38. VI. 41. J. Baines, Sermons, p. 73. J. Keble, Sermons for Sundays after Trinity, pt. i. p. 118. Expositor (6th Series), vol. x. p. 279. VI. 41, 42. D. Fraser, Metaphors in the Gospels, p. 38. S. Baring-Gould, Village Preaching for a Year, vol. ii. p. 47. VI. 41-49. A. Maclaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture St. Luke, p. 131. VI. 42. Expositor (5th Series), vol. vi. pp. 224, 322. VI. 43, 44. D. Fraser, Metaphors in the Gospels, p. 76. VI. 46. J. Martineau, Endeavours after the Christian Life (2nd Series), p. 111.

Luke 6:46

Compare Gibbon's well-known eulogy on William Law: 'In our family he had left the reputation of a worthy and pious man, who believed all that he professed, and practised all that he enjoined.' Speaking of Law's writings, he adds: 'A philosopher must allow that he exposes, with equal severity and truth, the strange contradiction between the faith and practice of the Christian world'.

Can any man look round and see what Christian countries are now doing, and how they are governed, and what is the general condition of society, without seeing that Christianity is the flag under which the world sails, and not the rudder that steers its course?

Oliver Wendell Holmes.

'Elsewhere,' said Knox of Geneva, 'the word of God is taught as purely, but never anywhere have I seen God obeyed as faithfully.'

'The Florentine youth,' says George Eliot in Romola, 'had had very evil habits and foul tongues; it seemed at first an unmixed blessing when they were got to shout Viva Gesu ! But Savonarola was forced at last to say from the pulpit, "There is a little too much shouting of Viva Gesu ! This constant utterance of sacred words brings them into contempt Let me have no more of that shouting till the next Festa."'

References. VI. 46. P. M'Adam Muir, Modern Substitutes for Christianity, p. 2. D. Macleod, Christian World. Pulpit, vol. lx. p. 125. J. D. Barlow, Bays from the Sun of Righteousness, p. 43. VI. 46-49. A. Bradley, Sermons Chiefly on Character, p. 132. Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xxix. No. 1702.

Depth in Character

Luke 6:47-48

Let us consider: I. The life which is simply a surface life. Some lives are altogether shallow; they are animal, their chief joy being in the senses: they are childish, being wholly occupied with trifles; they are without one serious thought, feeling, or purpose. This painful superficiality is one of the marked characteristics of our age and nation. The Puritan element the element of seriousness, reverence, and earnestness is obviously waning. Anything is better than that we should spend life in chasing bubbles. Better far the desolate oak on the naked heath, bowed by the storm and smitten by the lightning if only it acquire depth of earth and strength of fibre, than the spreading green bay-tree rooted in the surface sod. We ought to be thankful for anything that knocks the nursery toys out of our hand, that ends our idiot joy, that recalls our attention to the soul, that drives us inward and downward to the reality of things in the mind and will of God.

II. The life which dips below the surface and yet does not reach the depths. (1) There is an intellectual life which pierces the surface without sounding the depths. Scholars, full of intellectual power and penetration, who never find God in the visible universe, are of this order. (2) There is a moral life which, going below the surface, fails to grasp the depths. How immense is the difference between philosophical and utilitarian moralists deriving all their motives and sanctions, rewards and punishments from social relations, material interests, and worldly happiness, and St. Paul, who finds the root of all pure and noble living in the depths of the spiritual world! (3) There is a religious life that sinks below the surface without sounding the depths. We are to build a house; unorganised spirituality has no sanction in the New Testament, but mere ecclesiasticism and denominationalism are scratches in the sand. We find the depths in religion only when we worship God in spirit and in truth.

III. The life which digs deep, and rests upon the rock. In our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ do we find this rock. (1) Only as we build here do we prove true satisfaction. (2) Only as we build here do we find fullness and stability of character. (3) Only as we live this deeper life is our joy assured for ever. Building on Christ we build on the eternal reality, nor shall we suffer shame.

W. L. Watkinson, The Bane and the Antidote, p. 265.

References. VI. 47, 48. Expositor (4th Series), vol. x. p. 129. VI. 47-49. D. Fraser, Metaphors in the Gospels, p. 87. VI. 48, 49. J. Stuart Holden, The Pre-eminent Lord, p. 217. VI. 49. H. J. Wilmot-Buxton, Sunday Sermonettes for a Year, p. 91. VII. 1. Expositor (4th Series), vol. v. p. 443. Ibid. (6th Series), vol. vii. p. 402. VII. 1-10. Ibid. vol. vi. p. 353. VII. 2. J. W. Burgon, Servants of Scripture, p. 67. VII. 2-10. Mark Guy Pearse, Preacher's Magazine, vol. x. p. 486. VII. 2, 38. Expositor (6th Series), vol. xii. p. 21.

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Bibliographical Information
Nicoll, William Robertson, M.A., L.L.D. "Commentary on Luke 6". Expositor's Dictionary of Text. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/edt/luke-6.html. 1910.