Millions miss a meal or two each day.
Help us change that! Click to donate today!
5. A Sabbath Scene: Luke 6:1-5.
The two Sabbath scenes which follow, provoke, at last, the outbreak of the conflict, which, as we have seen, has long been gathering strength. We have already noted several symptoms of the hostility which was beginning to be entertained towards Jesus: Luke 6:14 ( for a testimony unto them); Luke 6:21 ( he blasphemeth); Luke 6:30-33 (the censure implied in both questions). It is the apparent contempt of Jesus for the ordinance of the Sabbath, which in Luke as well as in John (chap. 5 and 9), alike in Galilee and in Judaea, provokes the outbreak of this latent irritation, and an open rupture between Jesus and the dominant party. Is there not something in this complete parallelism that abundantly compensates for the superficial differences between the synoptical narrative and John's?
The term second-first is omitted by the Alex. But this omission is condemned by Tischendorf himself. Matthew and Mark presented nothing at all like it, and they did not know what meaning to give to the word, which is found nowhere else in the whole compass of sacred and profane literature. There are half a score explanations of it. Chrysostom supposed that when two festival and Sabbath days followed each other, the first received the name of second-first: the first of the two. This meaning does not give a natural explanation of the expression.
Wetstein and Storr say that the first Sabbath of the first, second, and third months of the year were called first, second, and third; the second-first Sabbath would thus be the first Sabbath of the second month. This meaning, although not very natural, is less forced.
Scaliger thought that, as they reckoned seven Sabbaths from the 16th Nisan, the second day of the Passover feast, to Pentecost, the second-first Sabbath denoted the first of these seven Sabbaths: the first Sabbath after the second day of the Passover. This explanation, received by De Wette, Neander, and other moderns, agrees very well with the season when the following scene must have taken place. But the term does not correspond naturally with the idea.
Wieseler supposes that the first Sabbath of each of the seven years which formed a Sabbatic cycle was called first, second, third Sabbath: thus the second-first Sabbath would denote the first Sabbath of the second year of the septenary cycle. This explanation has been favourably received by modern exegesis.
It appears to us, however, less probable than that which Louis Cappel was the first to offer: The civil year of the Israelites commencing in autumn, in the month Tizri (about mid-September to mid-October), and the ecclesiastical year in the month Nisan (about mid-March to mid-April), there were thus every year two first Sabbaths: one at the commencement of the civil year, of which the name would have been first-first; the other at the beginning of the religious year, which would be called second-first. This explanation is very simple in itself, and the form of the Greek term favours it: second-first signifies naturally a first doubled or twice over ( bissé).
But there is yet another explanation which appears to us still more probable. Proposed by Selden, it has been reproduced quite lately by Andreae in his excellent article on the day of Jesus' death. When the observers entrusted with the duty of ascertaining the appearance of the new moon, with a view to fixing the first day of the month, did not present themselves before the commission of the Sanhedrim assembled to receive their deposition until after the sacrifice, this day was indeed declared the first of the month, or monthly Sabbath ( σάββατον πρῶτον , first Sabbath); but as the time of offering the sacrifice of the new moon was passed, they sanctified the following day, or second of the month ( σάββατον δευτεροπρῶτον , second-first Sabbath), as well. This meaning perfectly agrees with the idea naturally expressed by this term (a first twice over), and with the impression it gives of having been taken from the subtleties of the Jewish calendar.
Bleek, ill-satisfied with these various explanations, supposes an interpolation. But why should it have occurred in Luke rather than in Matthew and Mark? Meyer thinks that a copyist had written in the margin πρώτῳ , first, in opposition to ἑτέρῳ , the other (Sabbath), Luke 6:6; that the next copyist, wishing, in consideration of the Sabbath indicated Luke 4:31, to correct this gloss, wrote δευτέρῳ , second, in place of πρώτῳ , first; and that, lastly, from these two glosses together came the word second-first, which has made its way into the text. What a tissue of improbabilities! Holtzmann thinks that Luke had written πρώτῳ , the first, dating from the journey recorded in Luke 4:44, and that in consideration of Luk 4:31 some over-careful corrector added the second; whence our reading. But is not the interval which separates our narrative from Luk 4:44 too great for Luke to have employed the word first in reference to this journey? And what object could he have had in expressing so particularly this quality of first? Lastly, how did the gloss of this copyist find its way into such a large number of documents? Weizsäcker ( Unters. p. 59) opposes the two first Sabbaths mentioned in Luke 4:16; Luk 4:33 to the two mentioned here (Luke 6:1; Luk 6:6 ), and thinks that the name second-first means here the first of the second group. How can any one attribute such absurd trifling to a serious writer! This strange term cannot have been invented by Luke; neither could it have been introduced accidentally by the copyists. Taken evidently from the Jewish vocabulary, it holds its place in Luke, as a witness attesting the originality and antiquity of his sources of information. Further, this precise designation of the Sabbath when the incident took place points to a narrator who witnessed the scene.
From Mark's expression παραπορεύεσθαι , to pass by the side of, it would seem to follow that Jesus was passing along the side of, and not, as Luke says, across the field ( διαπορεύεσθαι ). But as Mark adds: through the corn, it is clear that he describes two adjacent fields, separated by a path.
The act of the disciples was expressly authorized by the law ( Deu 23:25 ). But it was done on the Sabbath day; there was the grievance. To gather and rub out the ears was to harvest, to grind, to labour! It was an infraction of the thirty-nine articles which the Pharisees had framed into a Sabbatic code. Ψώχοντες , rubbing out, is designedly put at the end of the phrase: this is the labour!
Meyer, pressing the letter of Mark's text, ὅδον ποιεῖν , to make a way, maintains that the disciples were not thinking of eating, but simply wanted to make themselves a passage across the field by plucking the ears of corn. According to him, the middle ποιεῖσθαι , not the active ποιεῖν , would have been necessary for the ordinary sense. He translates, therefore: they cleared a way by plucking ( τίλλοντες ) the ears of corn (Mark omits ψώχοντες , rubbing them out). He concludes from this that Mark alone has preserved the exact form of the incident, which has been altered in the other two through the influence of the next example, which refers to food. Holtzmann takes advantage of this idea to support the hypothesis of a proto-Mark. But, 1. What traveller would ever think of clearing a passage through a field of wheat by plucking ear after ear? 2. If we were to lay stress on the active ποιεῖν , as Meyer does, it would signify that the disciples made a road for the public, and not for themselves alone; for in this case also the middle would be necessary! The ordinary sense is therefore the only one possible even in Mark, and the critical conclusions in favour of the proto-Mark are without foundation.
The Hebraistic form of Luke's phrase ( ἐγένετο ... καὶ ἔτιλλον ) which is not found in the other two proves that he has a particular document. As to who these accusers were, comp. Luke 5:17-21; Luke 5:30-33.
The word αὐτοῖς , which the Alex. omits, has perhaps been added on account of the plural that follows: Why do ye...?
It follows from this incident that Jesus passed a spring, and consequently a Passover also, in Galilee before His passion. A remarkable coincidence also with the narrative of John ( Joh 6:4 ).
The illustration taken from 1 Samuel 21:0 cited in Luk 6:3-4 is very appropriately chosen. Jesus would certainly have had no difficulty in showing that the act of the disciples, although opposed perhaps to the Pharisaic code, was in perfect agreement with the Mosaic commandment. But the discussion, if placed on this ground, might have degenerated into a mere casuistical question; He therefore transfers it to a sphere in which He feels Himself master of the position. The conduct of David rests upon this principle, that in exceptional cases, when a moral obligation clashes with a ceremonial law, the latter ought to yield. And for this reason. The rite is a means, but the moral duty is an end; now, in case of conflict, the end has priority over the means. The absurdity of Pharisaism is just this, that it subordinates the end to the means. It was the duty of the high priest to preserve the life of David and his companions, having regard to their mission, even at the expense of the ritual commandment; for the rite exists for the theocracy, not the theocracy for the rite. Besides, Jesus means to clinch the nail, to show His adversaries and this is the sting of His reply that when it is a question of their own particular advantage (saving a head of cattle for instance), they are ready enough to act in a similar way, sacrificing the rite to what they deem a higher interest ( Luk 13:11 et seq.).
De Wette understands οὐδέ in the sense of not even: “Do you not even know the history of your great king?” This sense would come very near to the somewhat ironical turn of Mark: “Have you never read... never once, in the course of your profound biblical studies?” But it appears more simple to explain it as Bleek does: “Have you not also read...? Does not this fact appear in your Bible as well as the ordinance of the Sabbath?” The detail: and to those who were with him, is not distinctly expressed in the O. T.; but whatever Bleek may say, it is implied; David would not have asked for five loaves for himself alone. Jesus mentions it because He wishes to institute a parallel between His apostles and David's followers.
The pron. οὕς does not refer to τοῖς μετ᾿ αὐτοῦ , as in Matthew (the present ἔξεστι does not permit of it), but to ἄρτους , as the object of φαγεῖν… εἰ μή is therefore taken here in its regular sense. It is not so in Matthew, where εἰ μή is used as in Luke 4:26-27. Mark gives the name of the high priest as Abiathar, while according to 1 Sam. it was Ahimelech, his son (comp. 2 Samuel 8:17; 1Ch 18:16 ), or his father (according to Josephus, Antiq. 6.12. 6). The question is obscure.
In Matthew, Jesus gives a second instance of transgression of the Sabbath, the labour of the priests in the temple on the Sabbath day, in connection with the burnt-offerings and other religious services. If the work of God in the temple liberates man from the law of the Sabbath rest, how much more must the service of Him who is Lord even of the temple raise him to the same liberty!
The Cod. D. and one Mn. here add the following narrative: “The same day, Jesus, seeing a man who was working on the Sabbath, saith to him: O man, if thou knowest what thou art doing, blessed art thou; but if thou knowest not, thou art cursed, and a transgressor of the law.” This narrative is an interpolation similar to that of the story in John of the woman taken in adultery, but with this difference, that the latter is probably the record of a real fact, while the former can only be an invention or a perversion. Nobody could have laboured publicly in Israel on the Sabbath day without being instantly punished; and Jesus, who never permitted Himself the slightest infraction of a true commandment of Moses (whatever interpreters may say about it), certainly would not have authorized this premature emancipation in any one else.
After having treated the question from a legal point of view, Jesus rises to the principle. Even had the apostles broken the Sabbath rest, they would not have sinned; for the Son of man has the disposal of the Sabbath, and they are in His service. We find again here the well-known expression, καὶ ἔλεγεν , and He said to them, the force of which is (see at Luk 6:36 ): “Besides, I have something more important to tell you.” The Sabbath, as an educational institution, is only to remain until the moral development of mankind, for the sake of which it was instituted, is accomplished. When this end is attained, the means naturally fall into disuse. Now, this moment is reached in the appearance of the Son of man. The normal representative of the race, He is Himself the realization of this end; He is therefore raised above the Sabbath as a means of education; He may consequently modify the form of it, and even, if He think fit, abolish it altogether. Καί : even of the Sabbath, this peculiar property of Jehovah; with how much greater reason, of all the rest of the law!
How can any one maintain, in the face of such a saying as this, that Jesus only assumed the part of the Messiah after the conversation at Caesarea-Philippi ( Luk 9:18 ), and when moved to do so by Peter?
Mark inserts before this declaration one of those short and weighty sayings (he has preserved several of them), which he cannot have invented or added of his own authority, and which the other two Syn. would never have left out, had they made use of his book or of the document of which he availed himself (the proto-Mark): “ The Sabbath is made for man, and not man for the Sabbath. ” God did not create man for the greater glory of the Sabbath, but He ordained the Sabbath for the greater welfare of man. Consequently, whenever the welfare of man and the rest of the Sabbath happen to clash, the Sabbath must yield. So that ( ὥστε , Mar 2:28 ) the Son of man, inasmuch as He is head of the race, has a right to dispose of this institution. This thought, distinctly expressed in Mark, is just what we have had to supply in order to explain the argument in Luke.
Are we authorized to infer from this saying the immediate abolition of every Sabbatic institution in the Christian Church? By no means. Just as, in His declaration, Luke 6:34-35, Jesus announced not the abolition of fasting, but the substitution of a more spiritual for the legal fast, so this saying respecting the Sabbath foreshadows important modifications of the form of this institution, but not its entire abolition. It will cease to be a slavish observance, as in Judaism, and will become the satisfaction of an inward need. Its complete abolition will come to pass only when redeemed mankind shall all have reached the perfect stature of the Son of man. The principle: The Sabbath is made for man, will retain a certain measure of its force as long as this earthly economy shall endure, for which the Sabbath was first established, and to the nature of which it is so thoroughly fitted.
Second Cycle: From the Call of the First Disciples to the Choice of the Twelve, Luk 5:1 to Luke 6:11 .
Up to this time Jesus has been preaching, accompanied by a few friends, but without forming about Him a circle of permanent disciples. As His work grows, He feels it necessary to give it a more definite form. The time has arrived when He deems it wise to attach to Himself, as regular disciples, those whom the Father has given Him. This new phase coincides with that in which His work begins to come into conflict with the established order of things.
This cycle comprises six narratives: 1. The call of the first four disciples ( Luk 5:1-11 ); 2 and 3. Two cures of the leper and the paralytic ( Luk 5:12-26 ); 4. The call of Levi, with the circumstances connected with it ( Luk 5:27-39 ); 5 and 6. Two conflicts relating to the Sabbath ( Luk 6:1-11 ).
THIRD PART: THE MINISTRY OF JESUS IN GALILEE, Luk 4:14 to Luke 9:50 .
The three Synoptics all connect the narrative of the Galilaean ministry with the account of the temptation. But the narrations of Matthew and Mark have this peculiarity, that, according to them, the motive for the return of Jesus to Galilee must have been the imprisonment of John the Baptist: “Now when Jesus had heard that John was cast into prison, He departed into Galilee” ( Mat 4:12 ); “Now, after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee” ( Mar 1:14 ). As the temptation does not appear to have been coincident with the apprehension of John, the question arises, Where did Jesus spend the more or less lengthened time that intervened between these two events, and what was He doing during the interval? This is the first difficulty. There is another: How could the apprehension of John the Baptist have induced Jesus to return to Galilee, to the dominions of this very Herod who was keeping John in prison? Luke throws no light whatever on these two questions which arise out of the narrative of the Syn., because he makes no mention in this place of the imprisonment of John, but simply connects the commencement of the ministry of Jesus with the victory He had just achieved in the desert. It is John who gives the solution of these difficulties. According to him, there were two returns of Jesus to Galilee, which his narrative distinguishes with the greatest care. The first took place immediately after the baptism and the temptation ( Luk 1:44 ). It was then that He called some young Galilaeans to follow Him who were attached to the forerunner, and shared his expectation of the Messiah. The second is related in chap. Luke 4:1; John connects it with the Pharisees jealousy of John the Baptist, which explains the account of the first two Syn. It appears, in fact, according to him, that some of the Pharisees were party to the blow which had struck John, and therefore we can well understand that Jesus would be more distrustful of them than even of Herod. That the Pharisees had a hand in John's imprisonment, is confirmed by the expression delivered, which Matthew and Mark employ. It was they who had caused him to be seized and delivered up to Herod.
The two returns mentioned by John were separated by quite a number of events: the transfer of Jesus' place of residence from Nazareth to Capernaum; His first journey to Jerusalem to attend the Passover; the interview with Nicodemus; and a period of prolonged activity in Judaea, simultaneous with that of John the Baptist, who was still enjoying his liberty ( Joh 2:12 to Joh 4:43 ). The second return to Galilee, which terminated this long ministry in Judaea, did not take place, according to Luke 4:35, until the month of December in this same year, so that at least twelve months elapsed between it and the former. The Syn., relating only a single return, must have blended the two into one. Only there is this difference between them, that in Matthew and Mark it is rather the idea of the second which seems to predominate, since they connect it with John's imprisonment; whilst Luke brings out more the idea of the first, for he associates it with the temptation exclusively. The mingling of these two analogous facts really, however, separated by almost a year must have taken place previously in the oral tradition, since it passed, though not without some variations, into our three Synoptics. The narrative of John was expressly designed to re-establish this lost distinction (comp. John 2:11; John 3:24; Joh 4:54 ). In this way in the Syn. the interval between these two returns to Galilee disappeared, and the two residences in Galilee, which were separated from each other by this ministry in Judaea, form in them one continuous whole. Further, it is difficult to determine in which of the two to place the several facts which the Syn. relate at the commencement of the Galilaean ministry.
We must not forget that the apostolic preaching, and the popular teaching given in the churches, were directed not by any historical interest, but with a view to the foundation and confirmation of faith. Facts of a similar nature were therefore grouped together in this teaching until they became completely inseparable. We shall see, in the same way, the different journeys to Jerusalem, fused by tradition into a single pilgrimage, placed at the end of Jesus' ministry. Thus the great contrast which prevails in the synoptical narrative between Galilee and Jerusalem is explained. It was only when John, not depending on tradition, but drawing from his own personal recollections, restored to this history its various phases and natural connections, that the complete picture of the ministry of Jesus appeared before the eyes of the Church.
But why did not Jesus commence His activity in Galilee, as, according to the Syn., He would seem to have done? The answer to this question is to be found in John 4:43-45. In that country, where He spent His youth, Jesus would necessarily expect to meet, more than anywhere else, with certain prejudices opposed to the recognition of His Messianic dignity. “A prophet hath no honour in his own country ” ( Joh 4:44 ). This is why He would not undertake His work among His Galilaean fellow-countrymen until after He had achieved some success elsewhere. The reputation which preceded His return would serve to prepare His way amongst them ( Joh 4:45 ). He had therefore Galilee in view even during this early activity in Judaea. He foresaw that this province would be the cradle of His Church; for the yoke of pharisaical and sacerdotal despotism did not press so heavily on it as on the capital and its neighbourhood. The chords of human feeling, paralyzed in Judaea by false devotion, still vibrated in the hearts of these mountaineers to frank and stirring appeals, and their ignorance appeared to Him a medium more easily penetrable by light from above than the perverted enlightenment of rabbinical science. Comp. the remarkable passage, Luke 10:21.
It is not easy to make out the plan of this part, for it describes a continuous progress without any marked breaks it is a picture of the inward and outward progress of the work of Jesus in Galilee. Ritschl is of opinion that the progress of the story is determined by the growing hostility of the adversaries of Jesus; and accordingly he adopts this division: Luk 4:16 to Luke 6:11, absence of conflict; Luk 6:12 to Luke 11:54, the hostile attitude assumed by the two adversaries towards each other. But, 1 st, the first symptoms of hostility break out before Luke 6:12; Luke 2:0 d, the passage Luke 9:51, which is passed over by the division of Ritschl, is evidently, in the view of the author, one of the principal connecting links in the narrative; 3 d, the growing hatred of the adversaries of Jesus is only an accident of His work, and in no way the governing motive of its development. It is not there, therefore, that we must seek the principle of the division. The author appears to us to have marked out a route for himself by a series of facts, in which there is a gradation easily perceived. At first Jesus preaches without any following of regular disciples; soon He calls about Him some of the most attentive of His hearers, to make them His permanent disciples; after a certain time, when these disciples had become very numerous, He raises twelve of them to the rank of apostles; lastly, He entrusts these twelve with their first mission, and makes them His evangelists. This gradation in the position of His helpers naturally corresponds, 1 st, with the internal progress of His teaching; 2 d, with the local extension of His work; 3 d, with the increasing hostility of the Jews, with whom Jesus breaks more and more, in proportion as He gives organic form to His own work. It therefore furnishes a measure of the entire movement.
We are guided by it to the following division:
First Cycle, Luke 4:14-44, extending to the call of the first disciples.
Second Cycle, Luk 5:1 to Luke 6:11, to the nomination of the twelve.
Third Cycle, Luk 6:12 to Luke 8:56, to their first mission.
Fourth Cycle, Luke 9:1-50, to the departure of Jesus for Jerusalem.
At this point the work of Jesus in Galilee comes to an end; He bids adieu to this field of labour, and, setting His face towards Jerusalem, He carries with Him into Judaea the result of His previous labours, His Galilaean Church.
6. A Second-Sabbath Scene: Luke 6:6-11.
Do Matthew and Mark place the following incident on the same day as the preceding? It is impossible to say ( πάλιν , in Mark, does not refer to Luke 2:23, but to Luk 1:21 ). Luke says positively, on another Sabbath. He has therefore His own source of information. This is confirmed by the character of the style, which continues to be decidedly Hebraistic ( καὶ ... καὶ ...instead of the relative pronoun).
The withering of the hand denotes paralysis resulting from the absence of the vital juices, the condition which is commonly described as atrophy.
In Matthew, the question whether it is right to heal on the Sabbath day is put to the Lord by His adversaries, which, taken literally, would be highly improbable. It is evident that Matthew, as usual, condenses the account of the fact, and hastens to the words of Jesus, which he relates at greater length than the others. His adversaries, no doubt, did put the question, but, as Luke and Mark tell us, simply in intention and by their looks. They watch to see how He will act.
The present θεραπεύει , whether He heals, in the Alex., would refer to the habit of Jesus, to His principle of conduct. This turn of expression is too far-fetched. The spies want more particularly to ascertain what He will do now; from the fact they will easily deduce the principle. The received reading, θεραπεύσει , whether He will heal, must therefore be preferred.
The Rabbis did not allow of any medical treatment on the Sabbath day, unless delay would imperil life; the strictest school, that of Shammai, forbade even the consolation of the sick on that day ( Schabbat 12.1).
Ver. 8. Jesus penetrates at a glance the secret spy system organized against Him, and seems to take pleasure in giving the work He is about to perform the greatest publicity possible. Commanding the man to place himself in the midst of the assembly, He makes him the subject of a veritable theological demonstration. Matthew omits these dramatic details which Mark and Luke have transmitted to us. Would he have omitted them had he known them? He could not have had the alleged proto-Mark before him, unless it is supposed that the author of our canonical Mark added these details on his own authority. But in this case, how comes Mark to coincide with Luke, who, according to this hypothesis, had not our actual Mark in his hands, but simply the primitive Mark (the common source of our three Syn.)? Here plainly is a labyrinth from which criticism, having once entered on a wrong path, is unable to extricate itself.
The skilfulness of the question proposed by the Lord ( Luk 6:9 ) consists in its representing good omitted as evil committed. The question thus put answers itself; for what Pharisee would venture to make the prerogative of the Sabbath to consist in a permission to torture and kill with impunity on that day? This question is one of those marks of genius, or rather one of those inspirations of the heart, which enhance our knowledge of Jesus. By reason of His compassion, He feels Himself responsible for all the suffering which He fails to relieve. But, it may be asked, could He not have put off the cure until the next day? To this question He would have given the same answer as any one of us: To-morrow belongs to God; only to-day belongs to me. The present ἐπερωτῶ , I ask you (Alex.), is more direct and severe, and consequently less suited to the Lord's frame of mind at this moment, than the future of the T. R.: I will ask you. For the same reason, we think, we must read not εἰ , if, or is it, with the Alex., but τί , and make this word not a complement: “I ask you what is allowable,” a form in which the intentional sharpness of His address is softened down too much (see the contrary case, Luk 7:40 ), but the subject of ἔξεστι : “ I ask you; answer me! What is permitted, to...or to...; for in my position I must do one or the other.” Matthew places here the illustration of the sheep fallen into a ditch, an argument which, as we shall see, is better placed in Luke ( Luk 14:5-6 ).
Ver. 10. A profound silence ( Mar 3:4 ) is the only answer to this question. Those who laid the snare are taken in it themselves. Jesus then surveys His adversaries, ranged around Him, with a long and solemn gaze. This striking moment, omitted in Matthew, is noticed in Luke; in Mark it is described in the most dramatic manner. We feel here how much Mark owes to some source of information closely connected with the person of the Saviour; he describes the feeling of sorrowful indignation which eye-witnesses could read in His glance: “with anger, being grieved at the hardness of their hearts.”
The command Jesus gives the sick man to stretch forth his hand, affords room for surprise. Is it not precisely what he was unable to do? But, like every call addressed to faith, this command contained a promise of the strength necessary to accomplish it, provided the will to obey was there. He must make the attempt, depending on the word of Jesus ( Luk 6:5 ), and divine power will accompany the effort. The word ὑγιής is probably taken from Matthew; it is omitted by six Mjj. It would be hazardous, perhaps, to erase also the words ὡς ἡ ἀλλή with the three Mjj. which omit them.
It is here that Cod. D. places the general proposition, Luke 6:5.
The Jewish-Christian Gospel which Jerome had found among the Nazarenes relates in detail the prayer of this sick man: “I was a mason, earning my livelihood with my own hands; I pray thee, Jesus, to restore me to health, in order that I may not with shame beg my bread.” This is an instance of how amplification and vulgarity meet us directly we step beyond the threshold of the canonical Gospels. Apostolical dignity has disappeared.
The word ἄνοια ( Luk 6:11 ), properly madness, by which Luke expresses the effect produced on the adversaries of Jesus, denotes literally the absence of νοῦς , of the power to discriminate the true from the false. They were fools through rage, Luke means. In fact, passion destroys a man's sense of the good and true. Matthew and Mark notice merely the external result, the plot which from this moment was laid against the life of Jesus: “ They took counsel to kill Him; ” Mark adds to the Pharisees, the Herodians. The former, in fact, could take no effectual measures in Galilee against the person of Jesus without the concurrence of Herod; and in order to obtain this, it was necessary to gain over his counsellors to their plans. Why should they not hope to induce this king to do to Jesus what he had already done to John the Baptist?
Holtzmann thinks it may be proved, by the agreement of certain words of Jesus in the three narratives, that they must have had a common written source. As if words so striking as these: The Son of man is Lord also of the Sabbath day, could not be preserved by oral tradition! The characteristic divergences which we have observed at every line in the historical sketch of the narrative, are incompatible, as we have seen, with the use of a common document.
1 st. Luke 6:12-19. Choosing of the Twelve.
Ver. 12. Luke has already brought before us more than once the need of prayer, which so often drew Jesus away into solitude (Luke 4:42, Luk 5:16 ). But the expressions he makes use of here are intended to carry special weight. Διανυκτερεύειν , to pass the night in watching, is a word rarely used in Greek, and which in all the N. T. is only found here. The choice of this unusual term, as well as the analytical form (the imperf. with the participle), express the persevering energy of this vigil. The term προσευχὴ τοῦ Θεοῦ , literally, prayer of God, is also an unique expression in the N. T. It does not denote any special request, but a state of wrapt contemplation of God's presence, a prayer arising out of the most profound communion with Him. The development of the work of Jesus having now reached a critical point, during this night He laid it before God, and took counsel with Him. The choosing of the twelve apostles was the fruit of this lengthened season of prayer; in that higher light in which Jesus stood, it appeared the only measure answering to the exigencies of the present situation.
The reading ἐξελθεῖν is a correction of the Alexandrian purists for ἐξῆλθεν , which, after ἐγένετο , offended the Greek ear.
Third Cycle: From the Election of the Twelve to their First Mission, Luk 6:12 to Luke 8:56 .
In the following section we shall see the Galilean ministry reach its zenith; it begins with the institution of the apostolate and the most important of Jesus' discourses during His sojourn in Galilee, the Sermon on the Mount; and it ends with a cycle of miracles that display the extraordinary power of Jesus in all its grandeur ( Luk 8:22-56 ). The hostility against Him seems to moderate; but it is sharpening its weapons in secret; in a very little while it will break out afresh.
This section comprises eleven portions: 1 st, the choosing of the Twelve, and the Sermon on the Mount ( Luk 6:12-49 ); 2 d, the healing of the centurion's servant ( Luk 7:1-10 ); 3 d, the raising of the widow's son at Nain ( Luk 7:11-17 ); 4 th, the question of John the Baptist, and the discourse of Jesus upon it ( Luk 7:18-35 ); 5 th, the woman that was a sinner at the feet of Jesus ( Luk 7:36-50 ); 6 th, the women who ministered to Jesus' support ( Luk 8:1-3 ); 7 th, the parable of the sower ( Luk 8:4-18 ); 8 th, the visit of the mother and brethren of Jesus ( Luk 8:19-21 ); 9 th, the stilling of the storm ( Luk 8:22-25 ); 10 th, the healing of the demoniac of Gadara ( Luk 8:26-39 ); 11 th, the raising of Jaïrus' daughter ( Luk 8:40-56 ).
1. The Choosing of the Twelve, and the Sermon on the Mount: Luke 6:12-49.
Our affixing this title to this portion implies two things: 1 st, that there is a close connection between the two facts contained in this title; 2 d, that the discourse, Luke 6:20-49, is the same as that we read in Matthew 5-7. The truth of the first supposition, from Luke's point of view, appears from Luke 6:20, where he puts the discourse which follows in close connection with the choosing of the Twelve which he has just narrated. The truth of the second is disputed by those who think that in consequence of this choice Jesus spoke two discourses, one on the summit of the mountain, addressed specially to His disciples, the second lower down on level ground, addressed to the multitude; the former, which was of a more private character, being that of Matthew; the latter, of a more popular aim, that of Luke. They rely on the differences in substance and form between the two discourses in our two Gospels. In regard to the substance, the essential matter in the discourse of Matthew, the opposition between the righteousness of the Pharisees and the true righteousness of the kingdom of heaven, is not found at all in Luke. As to the form, in Matthew Jesus ascends the mountain to preach it, while in Luke He comes down, after having spent the night on the summit. Further, there He is seated καθίσαντος αὐτοῦ , Mat 5:1 ); here He appears to be standing ( ἔστη , Luk 6:17 ). Notwithstanding these reasons, we cannot admit that there were two distinct discourses. They both begin in the same way, with the beatitudes; they both treat of the same subject, the righteousness of the kingdom of God, with this shade of difference, that the essence of this right-eousness, in Matthew, is spirituality; in Luke, charity. They both have the same conclusion, the parable of the two buildings. This resemblance in the plan of the discourse is so great, that it appears to us decidedly to take precedence of the secondary differences. As to the differences of form, it should be observed that Luke's expression, ἐπὶ τόπου πεδινοῦ , literally, on a level place, denotes a flat place on the mountain. To denote the plain, Luke would have said, ἐπὶ πεδίου . Luke's expression is not, therefore, contradictory to Matthew's. The latter, as usual, giving a summary narrative, tells us that Jesus preached this time on the mountain, in opposition to the plain, the sea-side that is, where He usually preached; while Luke, who describes in detail all the circumstances of this memorable day, begins by mentioning the night which Jesus spent alone on the summit of the mountain; next he tells how He descended to a level place situated on the mountain side, where He stayed to speak to the people. This plateau was still the mountain in Matthew's sense. On the relation of ἔστη (Luke) to He sat down (Matthew), see on Luke 6:17.
In order to understand the Sermon on the Mount, it is necessary to form a correct view of the historical circumstances which were the occasion of it; for this sermon is something more than an important piece of instruction delivered by Jesus; it is one of the decisive acts of His ministry. We have pointed out in the preceding section the symptoms of a growing rupture between Jesus and the hierarchical party (Luke 6:14; Luke 6:17; Luke 6:21-23, Luk 6:1 seq.). The bold attitude which Jesus assumes towards this party, challenging its hostility by calling a publican, by emphasizing in His teaching the antithesis between the old and new order of things, and by openly braving their Sabbatarian prejudices, all this enables us to see that a crisis in the development of His work has arrived. It is an exactly corresponding state of things for Galilee to that which was brought about in Judaea after the healing of the impotent man on the Sabbath (John 5:0). The choice of the Twelve and the Sermon on the Mount are the result and the solution of this critical situation. Up to this time Jesus had been satisfied with gathering converts about Him, calling some of them to accompany Him habitually as disciples. Now He saw that the moment was come to give His work a more definite form, and to organize His adherents. The hostile army is preparing for the attack; it is time to concentrate His own forces; and consequently He begins, if I may venture to say so, by drawing up His list of officers. The choosing of the Twelve is the first constitutive act accomplished by Jesus Christ. It is the first measure, and substantially (with the sacraments) the only measure, of organization which He ever took. It sufficed Him, since the college of the Twelve, once constituted, was in its turn to take what further measures might be required when the time came for them.
The number 12 was significant. Jesus set up in their persons the twelve patriarchs of a new people of God, a spiritual Israel, that was to be substituted for the old. Twelve new tribes were to arise at their word and form the holy humanity which Jesus came to install in the earth. An act more expressly Messianic it is impossible to conceive; and the criticism which maintains that it was only at Caesarea-Philippi, and at the instigation of Peter, that Jesus decisively accepted the part of Messiah, must begin by effacing from history the choosing of the Twelve, with its manifest signification. Further, this act is the beginning of the divorce between Jesus and the ancient people of God. The Lord does not begin to frame a new Israel until He sees the necessity of breaking with the old. He has laboured in vain to transform; nothing now remains but to substitute. This attentive crowd which surrounds Him on the mountain is the nucleus of the new people; this discourse which He addresses to them is the promulgation of the new law by which they are to be governed; this moment is the solemn inauguration of the people of Jesus Christ upon the earth, of that people which, by means of individual conversions, is eventually to absorb into itself all that belongs to God among all other peoples. Hence this discourse has a decidedly inaugural character, a character which, whatever Weizsäcker may say about it, belongs no less to its form in Luke than to its form in Matthew. In the latter, Jesus addresses Himself, if you will, to the apostles, but as representing the entire new Israel. In Luke, He rather speaks, if you will, to the new Israel, but as personified in the person of the apostles. In reality this makes no difference. The distinction between apostles and believers is nowhere clearly asserted. Every believer is to be the salt of the earth, the light of the world (Matthew); every apostle is to be one of those poor, hungry, weeping, persecuted ones of which the new people is to be composed (Luke). Just as, at Sinai, Jehovah makes no distinction between priests and people, so it is His people, with all the constitutive elements of their life, whose appearance Jesus hails, whose new character He portrays, and whose future action on the world He proclaims. Further, He felt most deeply the importance of this moment, and prepared Himself for it by a whole night of meditation and prayer. The expressions of Luke upon this point ( Luk 6:12 ) have, as we shall see, quite a special character.
The Sermon on the Mount occupies quite a different place in Matthew to that which it holds in Luke. That evangelist has made it the opening of the Galilean ministry, and he places it, therefore, immediately after the call of the four first disciples. Historically speaking, this position is a manifest anachronism. How, at the very commencement of His work, could Jesus speak of persecutions for His name, as He does, Matthew 5:10-11, or feel it necessary to justify Himself against the charge of destroying the law ( Luk 6:17 ), and to give a solemn warning to false disciples ( Luk 7:21-23 )? The position of the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew is only to be understood from the systematic point of view from which this evangelist wrote. There was no better way in which the author could show the Messianic dignity of Jesus than by opening the history of His ministry with this discourse, in which was laid down the basis of that spiritual kingdom which the Messiah came to found. If the collection of the discourses composed by Matthew, of which Papias speaks, really existed, and served as a foundation for our Gospel, the position which this discourse occupies in the latter is fully accounted for.
As to Mark, we can easily perceive the precise point in his sketch where the Sermon on the Mount should come in ( Luk 3:13 et seq.). But the discourse itself is wanting, doubtless because it was no part of his design to give it to his readers. Mark's narrative is nevertheless important, in that it substantiates that of Luke, and confirms the significance attributed by this evangelist to the act of the choosing of the Twelve. This comparison with the two other Syn. shows how well Luke understood the development of the work of Jesus, and the superior chronological skill with which he compiled his narrative ( καθεξῆς γράψαι , Luk 1:3 ).
Gess has replied to our objections against the chronological accuracy of Matthew's narrative ( Litter. Anzeiger of Andreae, September 1871) in the following manner: The mention of the persecutions might refer to the fact mentioned John 4:1, and to the fate of John the Baptist; the charge of undermining the law had already been made in Judaea (comp. John 5:0); the false disciples might have been imitators of the man who wrought cures in the name of Jesus (Luke 9:49; Mar 9:38 ), although of a less pure character. And, in any case, the time of the discourse indicated by Luke does not differ sensibly from that at which Matthew places it.
But neither the hostility which Jesus had met with in Judaea, nor the accusations which had been laid against Him there, could have induced Him to speak as He did in the Sermon on the Mount, unless some similar events, such as those which St. Luke has already related, had taken place in this province, and within the knowledge of the people. It is quite possible that the facts related by Luke do not prove any very great interval between the time to which he assigns this discourse and the beginning of the Galilean ministry, at which Matthew places it. But they serve at least as a preparation for it, and give it just that historical foundation which it needs, whilst in Matthew it occurs ex abrupto, and without any historical framework.
The fact that the call of Matthew is placed in the first Gospel ( Luk 9:9 ) after the Sermon on the Mount, which supposes this call already accomplished ( Luk 6:12 et seq.), would be sufficient, if necessary, to show that this discourse is detached, in this Gospel, from its true historical context.
Vers. 13-17 a. In the execution, as in the choice, of this important measure, Jesus no doubt submitted Himself to divine direction. His numerous disciples spent the night not far from the mountain-top to which He withdrew. During this lengthened communion, He presented them all, one by one, to His Father; and God's finger pointed out those to whom He was to entrust the salvation of the world. When at last all had been made perfectly clear, towards morning He called them to Him, and made the selection which had thus been pre-arranged. The καί , also, indicates that the title proceeded from Jesus, as well as the commission. Schleiermacher thought that this nomination was made simply in reference to the following discourse, of which these twelve were to be the official hearers, and that the name apostles (Luke 6:13, “whom He also named apostles”) might have been given them on some other occasion, either previous or subsequent. The similar expression relative to Peter, Luke 6:14, might favour this latter opinion. Nevertheless, it is natural to suppose that He entitled them apostles when He first distinguished them from the rest of the disciples, just as He gave Simon the surname Peter when He met him for the first time (John 1:0). And if these twelve men had been chosen to attend Jesus officially simply on this occasion, they would not be found the same in all the catalogues of apostles. The fact of this choice is expressly confirmed by Mark ( Mar 3:13-14 ), and indirectly by John ( Joh 6:70 ): “ Have not I chosen you twelve ( ἐξελεξάμην )?”
The function of the apostles has often been reduced to that of simple witnesses. But this very title of apostles, or ambassadors, expresses more, comp. 2 Corinthians 5:20, “ We are ambassadors for Christ...; and we beseech you to be reconciled to God. ” When Jesus says, “ I pray for them who shall believe on me through their word,” the expression their word evidently embraces more than the simple narration of the facts about Jesus and His works.
The marked prominence which Luke, together with Mark, gives to the choosing of the Twelve, is the best refutation of the unfair criticism which affects to discover throughout his work indications of a design to depreciate them.
According to Keim (t. ii. p. 305), the choice of the Twelve must have taken place later on, at the time of their first mission, Luk 9:1 et seq. It is then, in fact, that Matthew gives the catalogue, Luk 10:1 et seq. His idea is that Luke imagined this entire scene on the mountain in order to refer the choosing of the apostles to as early a period as possible, and thus give a double and triple consecration to their authority, and that thus far Mark followed him. But Luke, he believes, went much further still. Wanting to put some discourse into the mouth of Jesus on this occasion, he availed himself for this purpose of part of the Sermon on the Mount, though it was a discourse which had nothing in common with the occasion. Mark, however, rejected this amplification, but with the serious defect of not being able to assign any adequate reason for the choosing of the apostles at this time. Thus far Keim.
But, 1. The preface to the account of the first apostolic mission in Matthew ( Mat 10:1 ), “and having called to Him the twelve disciples, He gave them...,” does away with the idea of their having been chosen just at this time, and implies that this event had already taken place. According to Matthew himself, the college of the Twelve is already in existence; Jesus calls them to set them to active service. 2. A scene described in such solemn terms as that of Luke (Jesus spending a night in prayer to God), cannot be an invention on his part, consistently with the slightest pretensions to good faith. 3. The narrative of Mark is an indisputable confirmation of Luke's; for it is independent of it, as appears from the way, so completely his own, in which he defines the object of choosing the apostles. 4. We have seen how exactly this measure was adapted to that stage of development which the work of Jesus had now reached. 5. Does not rationalistic criticism condemn itself, by attributing to Luke here the entire invention of a scene designed to confer the most solemn consecration on the apostolic authority of the Twelve, and by asserting elsewhere that this same Luke labours to depreciate them (the Tübingen school, and, to a certain extent, Keim himself; see on Luk 9:1 )?
The four catalogues of apostles ( Mat 10:2 et seq.; Mar 3:16 et seq.; Luke 6:0; and Act 1:13 ) present three marks of resemblance: 1 st. They contain the same names, with the exception of Jude the son of James, for whom in Mark Thaddaeus is substituted, and in Matthew Lebbaeus, surnamed Thaddaeus (according to the received reading), Thaddaeus (according to א . B.), Lebbaeus (according to D.). 2 d. These twelve are distributed in the four lists into three groups of four each, and no individual of either of these groups is transferred to another. We may conclude from this that the apostolical college consisted of three concentric circles, of which the innermost was in the closest relations with Jesus. 3 d. The same three apostles are found at the head of each quaternion, Peter, Philip, and James.
Besides this quaternary division, Matthew and Luke indicate a division into pairs, at least (according to the received reading, in Luke, and certainly in Matthew) for the last eight apostles. In the Acts, the first four apostles are connected with each other by καί ; the remaining eight are grouped in pairs.
Luke places at the head of them the two brothers, Simon and Andrew, with whom Jesus became acquainted while they were with the Forerunner (John 1:0). At the first glance, Jesus had discerned that power of taking the lead, that promptness of view and action, which distinguished Peter He pointed him out at the time by the surname כ 5 , in Aramaean כֵיפָא , Cephas (properly a mass of rock), as he on whom He would found the edifice of His Church. If the character of Peter was weak and unstable, he was none the less for that the bold confessor on whose testimony the Church was erected in Israel and among the heathen (Acts 2:10). There is nothing in the text to indicate that this surname was given to Peter at this time. The aor. ὠνόμασε indicates the act simply, without reference to time. The καί merely serves to express the identity of the person ( Luk 6:16 ).
Andrew was one of the first believers. At the time when Jesus chose the Twelve, he was no doubt appointed at the same time as Peter; but he gradually falls below James and John, to whom he appears to have been inferior; he is placed after them in Mark and in the Acts. The order followed by Luke indicates a very primitive source. Andrew is very often found associated with Philip (John 6:7-9; Joh 12:21-22 ). In their ordinary life, he formed the link between the first and the second group, at the head of which was Philip.
The second pair of the first group is formed by the two sons of Zebedee, James and John. Mark supplies ( Luk 3:17 ) a detail respecting them which is full of interest: Jesus had surnamed them sons of thunder. This surname would have been offensive had it expressed a fault; it denoted, therefore, rather the ardent zeal of these two brothers in the cause of Jesus, and their exalted affection for His person. This feeling which burned within their hearts, came forth in sudden flashes, like lightning from the cloud. Joh 1:42 contains a delicate trace of the calling of James; this, therefore, must have taken place while he was with John the Baptist, immediately after that of his brother. James was the first martyr from the number of the apostles (Acts 12:0). This fact is only to be explained by the great influence which he exerted after Pentecost. John was the personal friend of Jesus, who doubtless felt Himself better understood by him than by any of the others. Whilst the other disciples were especially impressed by His miracles, and stored up His moral teaching, John, attracted rather by His person, treasured up in his heart those sayings in which Jesus unfolded His consciousness of Himself.
Wieseler has tried to prove that these two brothers were first-cousins of Jesus, by Salome, their mother, who would have been the sister of the Virgin Mary. Comp. Matthew 27:56, Mark 15:40, with John 19:25. But this interpretation of the passage in John is hardly natural.
The second quaternion, which no doubt comprised natures of a second order, contained also two pairs. The first consists, in all three Gospels, of Philip and Bartholomew. In the Acts, Philip is associated with Thomas. Philip was the fifth believer (John 1:0); he was originally from Bethsaida, as were also the preceding four. Joh 6:5 seems to show that Jesus was on terms of special cordiality with him.
The name Bartholomew signifies son of Tolmai; it was therefore only a surname. It has long been supposed that the true name of this apostle was Nathanael. John 21:2, where Nathanael is named amongst a string of apostles, proves unquestionably that he was one of the Twelve. Since, according to John 1:0, he had been drawn to Jesus by Philip, it is natural that he should be associated with him in the catalogues of the apostles.
Matthew and Thomas form the second pair of the second group in the three Syn., whilst in the Acts Matthew is associated with Bartholomew. One remarkable circumstance, all the more significant that it might easily pass unperceived, is this, that whilst in Mark and Luke Matthew is placed first of the pair, in our first Gospel he occupies the second place. Further, in this Gospel also, the epithet the publican is added to his name, which is wanting in the two others. Are not these indications of a personal participation, more or less direct, of the Apostle Matthew in the composition of the first Gospel? Having been formerly a toll-collector, Matthew must have been more accustomed to the use of the pen than his colleagues. It is not surprising, therefore, that he should be the first among them who felt called to put into writing the history and instructions of Jesus. The account of his calling implies that he possessed unusual energy, decision, and strength of faith. Perhaps it was for that reason Jesus saw fit to associate him with Thomas, a man of scruples and doubts. The name of the latter signifies a twin. The circumstances of his call are unknown. He was doubtless connected with Jesus first of all as a simple disciple, and then his serious character attracted the attention of the Master. If the incident Luk 9:59-60 was not placed so long after the Sermon on the Mount, we might be tempted with some writers to apply it to Thomas.
The third quaternion contains the least striking characters in the number of the Twelve. All these men, however, not excepting Judas Iscariot, have had their share in the fulfilment of the apostolic task, the transmission of the holy figure of the Christ to the Church through all time. The stream of oral tradition was formed by the affluents of all these sources together. The last pair comprises here, as in the Acts, James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon the Zealot. But the distribution is different in the two other Syn.
It has been generally allowed since the fourth century that this James is the person so often mentioned, in the Acts and the Galatians, as the brother of the Lord, the first head of the flock at Jerusalem. This identity is made out, (1) by applying to him the passage Mark 15:40, according to which his surname would have been the less or the younger (relatively to James the son of Zebedee), and his mother would have been a Mary, whom, according to John 19:25, we should have to regard as a sister ( probably sister-in-law) of the mother of Jesus; (2) by identifying the name of his father Alphaeus with the name Clopas ( חלפי = Κλωπᾶς ), which was borne, according to Hegesippus, by a brother of Joseph; (3) by taking the term brother in the sense of cousin (of the Lord). But this hypothesis cannot, in our judgment, be maintained: (1) The word ἀδελφός , brother, used as it is by the side of μήτηρ , mother (“ the mother and brethren of Jesus ”), can only signify brother in the proper sense. The example often cited, Genesis 13:8, when Abraham says to Lot, “ We are brethren,” is not parallel. (2) John says positively ( Luk 7:5 ) that the brethren of Jesus did not believe on Him, and this long after the choice of the Twelve ( Joh 6:70 ). This is confirmed by Luk 8:19 et seq.; comp. with Mark 3:20-35. One of them could not, therefore, be found among His apostles. A comparison of all the passages leads us to distinguish, as is generally done at the present day, three Jameses: the first, the son of Zebedee ( Luk 6:14 ); the second, the son of Alphaeus indicated here, whom there is nothing to prevent our identifying with James the less, the son of Clopas and Mary, and regarding him as the first-cousin of Jesus; the third, the brother of the Lord, not a believer before the death of Jesus, but afterwards first bishop of the flock at Jerusalem.
The surname Zealot, given to Simon, is probably a translation of the adj. kanna (in the Talmud, kananit), zealous. If this be correct, this apostle belonged to that fanatical party which brought about the ruin of the people, by leading them into war against the Romans. This sense corresponds with the epithet Κανανίτης , which is applied to him in the Byz. reading of Matthew and Mark, confirmed here by the authority of the Sinait. This name is simply the Hebrew term, translated by Luke, and Hellenized by Matthew and Mark. The reading Καναναῖος in some Alex. may signify either Canaanite or citizen of Cana. This second etymology is not very probable. The first would be more so, if in Mat 15:22 this word, in the sense of Canaanite, were not written with an X instead of a K. Luke has therefore given the precise meaning of the Aramaean term employed in the document of which he availed himself (Keim, t. ii. p. 319).
The last pair comprises the two Judes. There were in fact two men of this name in the apostolic college, although Matthew and Mark mention but one, Judas Iscariot. This is very clear from John 14:22: “ Judas, not Iscariot, saith to Him. ” The names Lebbaeus and Thaddaeus, in Matthew and Mark, are therefore surnames, derived, the former from לֵב , H4213, heart, the latter either from תד , mamma, or from שׁדי , potens. The name Thaddaï is of frequent occurrence in the Talmud. These surnames were probably the names by which they were usually designated in the Church. The genitive ᾿Ιακώβου must, according to usage, signify son of James; this was to distinguish this Judas from the next. With the desire to make this apostle also a cousin of Jesus, the phrase has frequently been translated brother of James, that is to say, of the son of Alphaeus, mentioned Luke 6:15. But there is no instance of the genitive being used in this sense. In the 14th verse, Luke himself thought it necessary to use the full expression, τὸν ἀδελφὸν αὐτοῦ . And would not the two other Syn., who join Lebbaeus immediately to James, have indicated this relationship?
As there was a town called Kerijoth in Judaea, it is probable that the name Iscariot signifies a man of Kerijoth (at the present day Kuriut), towards the northern boundary of Judaea. The objections which De Wette has raised against this etymology are without force. He proposes, with Lightfoot, the etymology ascara, strangulation. Hengstenberg prefers isch schéker, man of falsehood, from which it would follow that this surname was given post eventum. These etymologies are all the more untenable, that in the fourth Gospel, according to the most probable reading ( ᾿Ισκαριώτου , Joh 6:71 and elsewhere), this surname Iscariot must have been originally that of the father of Judas. The character of this man appears to have been cold, reserved, and calculating. He was so very reserved that, with the exception perhaps of John, none of the disciples guessed his secret hatred. In the coolness of his audacity, he ventured to cope with Jesus Himself ( Joh 12:4-5 ). With what motive did Jesus choose a man of this character? He had spontaneously joined himself, as did so many others, to the number of His disciples; there was therefore a germ of faith in him, and perhaps, at the outset, an ardent zeal for the cause of Jesus. But there also existed in him, as in all the others, the selfish views and ambitious aspirations which were almost inseparable from the form which the Messianic hope had taken, until Jesus purified it from this alloy. In the case of Judas, as of all the others, it was a question which of the two conflicting principles would prevail in his heart: whether faith, and through this the sanctifying power of the spirit of Jesus, or pride, and thereby the unbelief which could not fail eventually to result from it. This was, for Judas, a question of moral liberty. As for Jesus, He was bound to submit in respect to him, as in respect to all the others, to God's plan. On the one hand, He might certainly hope, by admitting Judas into the number of His apostles, to succeed in purifying his heart, whilst by setting him aside He might irritate him and estrange him for ever. On the other hand, He certainly saw through him sufficiently well to perceive the risk He ran in giving him a place in that inner circle which He was about to form around His person. We may suppose, therefore, that, during that long night which preceded the appointment of the Twelve, this was one of the questions which engaged His deepest solicitude; and certainly it was not until the will of His Father became clearly manifest, that He admitted this man into the rank of the Twelve, notwithstanding His presentiment of the heavy cross He was preparing for Himself (John 6:64; Joh 6:71 ). Still, even Judas fulfilled his apostolic function; his despairing cry, “ I have betrayed the innocent blood! ” is a testimony which resounds through the ages as loudly as the preaching of Peter at Pentecost, or as the cry of the blood of James, the first martyr.
The καί , also, after ὅς ( Luk 6:16 ), omitted by some authorities, is perhaps taken from the two other Syn. If it is authentic, it is intended to bring out more forcibly, through the identity of the person, the contradiction between his mission and the course he took.
Surrounded by the Twelve and the numerous circle of disciples from which He had chosen them, Jesus descends from the summit of the mountain. Having reached a level place on its slopes, He stops; the crowd which was waiting for Him towards the foot of the mountain, ascends and gathers about Him. Τόπος πεδινός , a level place on an inclined plane. Thus the alleged contradiction with the expression, the mountain, in Matthew disappears (see above).
The ἔστη , He stood still, in opposition to having come down, does not in any way denote the attitude of Jesus during the discourse. There is therefore no contradiction between this expression and Matthew's, having sat down.
What are we to say of the discovery of Baur, who thinks that, by substituting having come down, Luke 6:16, for He went up, Matthew 5:1, Luke intended to degrade the Sermon on the Mount!
We might make ὄχλος πλῆθος , the crowd, the multitude, etc., so many subjects of ἔστη : “He stood still, along with the crowd...” But it is more natural to understand some verb: “And there was with Him the crowd...” In any case, even if, with the Alex., we omit the καί before ἐθεραπεύοντο , were healed ( Luk 6:18 ), we could not think of making these subst. nominatives to this last verb; for the crowd of disciples, etc., was not composed of sick people. Three classes of persons, therefore, surrounded Jesus at this time: occasional hearers (the multitude come together from all parts), the permanent disciples (the crowd of disciples), and the apostles. The first represent the people in so far as they are called to the kingdom of God; the second, the Church; the third, the ministry in the Church. The term crowd, to denote the second, is not too strong. Did not Jesus take out of them, only a little while after, seventy disciples ( Luk 10:1 )?
If, at the 18th verse, we read and before they were healed, the idea of healing is only accessory, and is added by way of parenthesis; but the prevailing idea is that of gathering together: “Demoniacs also were there; and what is more, they were healed.” If the and is omitted, the idea of healing alone remains, and we must translate: “And the possessed even were healed.” With παραλίου we must understand χῶρας… Τύρου and Σιδῶνος are complements.
Ver. 19 describes the mighty working of miraculous powers which took place that day. It was a time similar to that which has been described Luk 4:40 et seq., but to a far higher degree. ᾿Ιᾶτο depends on ὅτι , and has for its subject δύναμις .
Vers. 20 and 21. “ And He lifted up His eyes on His disciples, and said, Blessed be ye poor: for yours is the kingdom of God. 21. Blessed are ye that hunger now: for ye shall be filled. Blessed are ye that weep now: for ye shall laugh. ”
The disciples are the constant hearers of Jesus, amongst whom He has just assigned a distinct place to His apostles. Luke does not say that Jesus spoke to them alone. He spoke to all the people, but regarding them as the representatives of the new order of things which He was about to institute. In Matthew, αὐτούς , Luke 6:2 (He taught them), comprises both the people and the disciples, Luke 6:1.
This commencement of the Sermon on the Mount breathes a sentiment of the deepest joy. In these disciples immediately about Him, and in this multitude surrounding Him in orderly ranks, all eager to hear the word of God, Jesus beholds the first appearance of the true Israel, the true people of the kingdom. He surveys with deep joy this congregation which His Father has brought together for Him, and begins to speak. It must have been a peculiarly solemn moment; comp. the similar picture, Matthew 5:1-2.
This assembly was chiefly composed of persons belonging to the poor and suffering classes. Jesus knew it; He recognises in this a higher will, and in His first words He does homage to this divine dispensation. Πτωχός , which we translate poor, comes from πτώσσω , to make oneself little, to crouch, and conveys the idea of humiliation rather than of poverty ( πένης ). Πεινῶντες , the hungry (a word connected with πένης ), denotes rather those whom poverty condemns to a life of toil and privation. This second term marks the transition to the third, those who weep, amongst whom must be numbered all classes of persons who are weighed down by the trials of life. All those persons who, in ordinary language, are called unhappy, Jesus salutes with the epithet μακάριοι , blessed. This word answers to the שׁרֵי û אִַ , felicitates, of the O. T. ( Psa 1:1 and elsewhere). The idea is the same as in numerous passages in which the poor and despised are spoken of as God's chosen ones, not because poverty and suffering are in themselves a title to His blessing; but they dispose the soul to those meek and lowly dispositions which qualify them to receive it, just as, on the other hand, prosperity and riches dispose the heart to be proud and hard. In the very composition of this congregation, Jesus sees a proof of this fact of experience so often expressed in the O. T. The joy which He feels at this sight arises from the magnificent promises which He can offer to such hearers.
The kingdom of God is a state of things in which the will of God reigns supreme. This state is realized first of all in the hearts of men, in the heart it may be of a single man, but speedily in the hearts of a great number; and eventually there will come a day when, all rebellious elements having been vanquished or taken away, it will be found in the hearts of all. It is an order of things, therefore, which, from being inward and individual, tends to become outward and social, until at length it shall take possession of the entire domain of human life, and appear as a distinct epoch in history. Since this glorious state as yet exists in a perfect manner only in a higher sphere, it is also called the kingdom of heaven (the ordinary term in Matthew).
Luke says: is not shall be yours; which denotes partial present possession, and a right to perfect future possession.
But are men members of this kingdom simply through being poor and suffering? The answer to this question is to be found in what precedes, and in such passages as Isaiah 66:2: “To whom will I look? saith the Lord. To him who is poor ( עָנִי , H6714) and of a broken spirit, and who trembles at my word. ” It is to hearts which suffering has broken that Jesus brings the blessings of the kingdom.
These blessings are primarily spiritual pardon and holiness. But outward blessings cannot fail to follow them; and this notion is also contained in the idea of a kingdom of God, for glory is the crown of grace. The words of Jesus contain, therefore, the following succession of ideas: temporal abasement, from which come humiliation and sighing after God; then spiritual graces, crowned with outward blessings. The same connection of ideas explains the beatitudes that follow. Luke 6:21 a: temporal poverty (being hungry) leads the soul to the need of God and of His grace ( Psa 42:1 ); then out of the satisfaction of this spiritual hunger and thirst arises full outward satisfaction (being filled). Luke 6:21 b: with tears shed over temporal misfortunes, is easily connected the mourning of the soul for its sins; the latter draws down the unspeakable consolations of divine love, which eventually raise the soul to the triumph of perfect joy. The terms κλαίειν , to sob, γελᾷν , to laugh, cannot well be literally rendered here. They denote a grief and joy which find outward demonstration; comp. Psalms 126:2, “Our mouth was filled with laughter,” and Paul's καυχᾶσθαι ἐν Θεῷ , to joy in God ( Rom 5:11 ). The text of Matthew presents here two important differences: 1 st. He employs the third person instead of the second: “Blessed are the poor, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven; they that mourn, for they shall be comforted,” etc. The beatitudes, which in Luke are addressed directly to the hearers, are presented here under the form of general maxims and moral sentences. 2 d. In Matthew, these maxims have an exclusively spiritual meaning: “the poor in spirit, they who hunger after righteousness. ” Here interpreters are divided, some maintaining that Matthew has spiritualized the words of Jesus; others (as Keim), that Luke, under the influence of a prejudice against riches, has given to these blessings a grossly temporal meaning. Two things appear evident to us: (1) That the direct form of address in Luke, “ Ye,” can alone be historically accurate: Jesus was speaking to His hearers, not discoursing before them. (2) That this first difference has led to the second; having adopted the third person, and given the beatitudes that Maschal form so often found in the didactic parts of the O. T. (Psalms, Proverbs), Matthew was obliged to bring out expressly in the text of the discourse those moral aims which are inherent in the very persons of the poor whom Jesus addresses directly in Luke, and without which these words, in this abstract form, would have been somewhat too unqualified. How could one say, without qualification, Blessed are the poor, the hungry? Temporal sufferings of themselves could not be a pledge of salvation. On the other hand, the form, Blessed are ye poor, ye hungry, in Luke, renders all such explanation superfluous. For Jesus, when He spoke thus, was addressing particular concrete poor and afflicted, whom He already recognised as His disciples, as believers, and whom He regarded as the representatives of that new people which He was come to install in the earth. That they were such attentive hearers sufficiently proved that they were of the number of those in whom temporal sufferings had awakened the need of divine consolation, that they belonged to those labouring and heavyladen souls whom He was sent to lead to rest ( Mat 11:29 ), and that they hungered, not for material bread only, but for the bread of life, for the word of God, for God Himself. The qualification which Matthew was necessarily obliged to add, in order to limit the application of the beatitudes, in the general form which he gives to them, is in Luke then implied in this ye, which was only addressed to poor believers. These two differences between Matthew and Luke are very significant. They seem to me to prove: (1) that the text of Luke is a more exact report of the discourse than Matthew's; (2) that Matthew's version was originally made with a didactic rather than a historical design, and consequently that it formed part of a collection of discourses in which the teaching of Jesus was set forth without regard to the particular circumstances under which He gave it, before it entered into the historical framework in which we find it contained at the present day.
First part: Luke 6:20-26. The Call.
This solemn invitation describes: (1 st.) Those who are qualified to become members of the order of things inaugurated by Jesus ( Luk 6:20-23 ); (2 d.) Their adversaries ( Luk 6:24-26 ).
Matthew begins in the same way; but there are two important differences between him and Luke: 1 st. The latter has only four beatitudes; Matthew has eight (not seven or nine, as is often said). 2 d. To the four beatitudes of Luke are joined four woes, which are wanting in Matthew. In Luke's form, Keim sees nothing but an artificial construction. That would not in any case be the work of Luke, but of his document. For if there is any one portion which from its contents should be assigned to the primitive document (of an Ebionitish colour), evidently it is this. But the context appears to us decisive in favour of Luke's version. This call deals with the conditions which qualify for entering into the kingdom. These are clearly indicated in the first four beatitudes of Matthew; but the next four (mercy, purity of heart, a peaceable spirit, and joy under persecution) indicate the dispositions by means of which men will remain in the kingdom, and consequently their natural place is not in this call. It is only the eighth (Luke's fourth) which can belong here, as a transition from the persecuted disciples to the persecutors, who are the objects of the following woes. Two of the last four beatitudes of Matthew find their place very naturally in the body of the discourse. As to the woes, they perfectly agree with the context. After having proclaimed the blessedness of those who are qualified to enter, Jesus announces the unhappiness of those who are animated by contrary dispositions. Schleiermacher says: a harmless addition of Luke's. But, as we have just seen, Luke is here certainly only a copyist. A Gentile Christian would not have dreamed of identifying, as Judaism did, the two ideas of piety and poverty; nor, on the other hand, riches and violence. De Wette says: the first manifestation of the fixed (Ebionitish) idea of Luke. But see Luke 12:32, Luke 16:27, and Luke 18:18-30.
2 d. Luke 6:20-49. The Sermon.
The aim, prevailing thought, and plan of this discourse have been understood in many different ways. The solution of these questions is rendered more difficult by the difference between the two accounts given by Matthew and Luke. As to its aim, Weizsäcker regards the Sermon on the Mount as a grand proclamation of the kingdom of God, addressed to the whole people; and it is in Matthew's version that he finds the best support for this view of it. He acknowledges, nevertheless, that the fact stated in the preface (Luke 6:1-2: “He taught them [ His disciples ], saying...”) is not in harmony with this design. Luke, according to him, has deviated further even than Matthew from its original aim, by modifying the entire discourse, to make it an address to the disciples alone. Ritschl and Holtzmann, on the contrary, think that the discourse was addressed originally to the disciples alone, and that Luke's version of it has preserved with greater accuracy its real tenor; only the situation described Luk 6:17-19 would not, according to Holtzmann, accord with its being addressed to them. Keim reconciles all these different views by distinguishing two principal discourses, one addressed to all the people, about the time of the Passover feast, of which we have fragments in Matthew 6:19-34; Matthew 7:7-11; Matthew 7:1-5; Matthew 7:24-27. This inaugural discourse would be on the chief care of human life. The second is supposed to have been addressed somewhat later to the disciples only, about the time of Pentecost. Matthew 5:0 is a summary of it. This would be a word of welcome addressed by Jesus to His disciples, and an exposition of the new law as the fulfilment of the old. As to the criticism on the Pharisaical virtues, Matthew 6:1-18, it is doubtless closely related, both in substance and time, to the preceding discourse; but it did not form part of it.
The prevailing idea, in Matthew, is certainly an exposition of the new law in its relations with the old. In Luke, the subject is simply the law of charity, as the foundation of the new order of things. Many critics deny that any agreement can be found between these two subjects. According to Holtzmann, the 5th chapter of Matthew should be regarded as a separate dissertation which the author of the first Gospel introduced into the Sermon; Keim thinks that Luke, as a disciple of Paul, wanted to detach the new morality completely from the old. The anonymous Saxon even sets himself to prove that the Sermon on the Mount was transformed by Luke into a cutting satire against
As to the plan of the discourse, many attempts have been made to systematize it. Beck: (1) the doctrine of happiness (beatitudes); (2) that of righteousness (the central part in Matthew and Luke); (3) that of wisdom (conclusion). Oosterzee: (1) the salutation of love (Luke, Luk 6:20-26 ); (2) the commandment of love ( Luk 6:27-38 ); (3) the impulse of love ( Luk 6:39-49 ). The best division, regarding it in this abstract way, and taking Matthew as a basis, is certainly that of Gess: (1) the happiness of those who are fit to enter into the kingdom ( Mat 5:3-12 ); (2) the lofty vocation of the disciples ( Mat 5:13-16 ); (3) the righteousness, superior to that of the Pharisees, after which they must strive who would enter into the kingdom (v. Luk 6:17-34 ); the rocks on which they run a risk of striking (the disposition to judge, intemperate proselytizing, being led away by false prophets); next, the help against these dangers, with the conclusion. ( Luk 7:1-27 ).
The solution of these different questions, as it seems to us, must be sought first of all in the position of affairs which gave rise to the Sermon on the Mount. In order to see it reproduced, as it were, before our eyes, we have only to institute a comparison. Picture a leader of one of those great social revolutions, for which preparations seem making in our day. At an appointed hour he presents himself, surrounded by his principal adherents, at some public place; the crowd gathers; he communicates his plans to them. He begins by indicating the class of persons to which he specially addresses himself: you, poor working people, loaded with suffering and toil! and he displays to their view the hopes of the era which is about to dawn. Next, he proclaims the new principle which is to govern humanity in the future: “The mutual service of mankind; justice, universal charity!” Lastly, he points out the sanction of the law which he proclaims, the penalties that await those who violate it, and the rewards of those who faithfully keep it. This is the caricature; and by the aid of its exaggerations, we are able to give some account of the features of the original model. What, in fact, does the Sermon on the Mount contain? Three things: 1 st. An indication of the persons to whom Jesus chiefly addresses Himself, in order to form the new people (Luke, Luke 6:20-26; Mat 5:1-12 ); 2 d. The proclamation of the fundamental principle of the new society (Luke, Luke 6:27-45; Mat 5:13 to Mat 7:12 ); 3 d. An announcement of the judgment to which the members of the new kingdom of God will have to submit (Luke, Luke 6:46-49; Mat 7:13-27 ). In other words: the call, the declaration of principles, and their sanction. This is the order of the discourse. There is nothing artificial about this plan. It is not a logical outline forcibly fitted to the discourse; it is the result of the actual position of the work of Jesus, just as we have stated it. The discourse itself explains for whom it is intended. Jesus addresses the mass of the people present, as forming the circle within which the new order of things is to be realized, and at the same time the disciples and apostles, by means of whom this revolution is to be brought about. Luke and Matthew, therefore, are not at variance in this matter, either with each other or with themselves. As to the fundamental idea of this discourse, see Luke 6:27.
Vers. 22 and 23. “ Blessed are ye when men shall hate you, and when they shall separate you from their company, and shall reproach you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of man's sake. 23. Rejoice ye in that day, and leap for joy; for, behold, your reward is great in heaven: for in like manner did their fathers unto the prophets. ”
This fourth beatitude is completely accounted for, in Luke, by the scenes of violent hostility which had already taken place. It is not so well accounted for in Matthew, who places the Sermon on the Mount at the opening of the ministry of Jesus.
In Matthew, this saying, like the preceding, has the abstract form of a moral maxim: “Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake; for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” But Jesus was certainly not giving utterance here to abstract principles of Christian morality; He spoke as a living man to living men. Besides, Matthew himself passes, in the next verse, to the form of address adopted by Luke from the commencement.
The explanatory adjunct, for righteousness' sake, in Matthew, is to be ascribed to the same cause as the similar qualifications in the preceding beatitudes.
By the pres. ἔστε , “happy are ye,” Jesus transports His hearers directly into this immediate future.
The term ἀφορίζειν , to separate, refers to exclusion from the synagogue ( Joh 9:22 ).
The strange expression, cast out your name, is explained in very jejune fashion, both by Bleek, to pronounce the name with disgust, and by De Wette and Meyer, to refuse altogether to pronounce it. It refers rather to the expunging of the name from the synagogue roll of membership. There is not, on this account, any tautology of the preceding idea. To separate, to insult, indicated acts of unpremeditated violence; to erase the name is a permanent measure taken with deliberation and coolness. Πονηρόν , evil, as an epitome of every kind of wickedness. In their accounts of this saying, this is the only word left which Matthew and Luke have in common.
Instead of for the Son of man's sake, Matthew says for my sake. The latter expression denotes attachment to the person of Jesus; the former faith in His Messianic character, as the perfect representative of humanity. On this point also Luke appears to me to have preserved the true text of this saying; it is with His work that Jesus here wishes to connect the idea of persecution. This idea of submission to persecution along with, and for the sake of, the Messiah, was so foreign to the Jewish point of view, that Jesus feels He must justify it. The sufferings of the adherents of Jesus will only be a continuation of the sufferings of the prophets of Jehovah. This is the great matter of consolation that He offers them. They will be, by their very sufferings, raised to the rank of the old prophets; the recompense of the Elijahs and Isaiahs will become theirs.
The reading κατὰ τὰ αὐτά , in the same manner, appears preferable to the received reading κατὰ ταῦτα , in this manner. Τά and αὐτά have probably been made into one word. The imperf. ἐποίουν (treated) indicates habit.
The pronoun αὐτῶν , their fathers, is dictated by the idea that the disciples belong already to a new order of things. The word their serves as a transition to the woes which follow, addressed to the heads of the existing order of things.
Vers. 24-26. “ But woe unto you that are rich! for ye have received your consolation. 25. Woe unto you that are full! for ye shall hunger. Woe unto you that laugh now! for ye shall mourn and weep. 26. Woe unto you when all men shall speak well of you! for so did their fathers to the false prophets. ”
Jesus here contemplates in spirit those adversaries who were sharpening against Him only just before ( Luk 6:11 ) the sword of persecution: the rich and powerful at Jerusalem, whose emissaries surrounded Him in Galilee. Perhaps at this very moment He perceives some of their spies in the outer ranks of the congregation. Certainly it is not the rich, as such, that He curses, any more than He pronounced the poor as such blessed. A Nicodemus or a Joseph of Arimathea will be welcomed with open arms as readily as the poorest man in Israel. Jesus is dealing here with historical fact, not with moral philosophy. He takes the fact as it presented itself to Him at that time. Were not the rich and powerful, as a class, already in open opposition to His mission? They were thus excluding themselves from the kingdom of God. The fall of Jerusalem fulfilled only too literally the maledictions to which Jesus gave utterance on that solemn day.
The πλήν , except, only, which we can only render by but ( Luk 6:24 ), makes the persons here designated an exception as regards the preceding beatitudes.
The term rich refers to social position, full to mode of living; the expression, you that laugh, describes a personal disposition. All these outward conditions are considered as associated with an avaricious spirit, with injustice, proud self-satisfaction, and a profane levity, which did indeed attach to them at that time. It was to the Pharisees and Sadducees more particularly that these threatenings were addressed.
The word νῦν , now, which several MSS. read in the first proposition, is a faulty imitation of the second, where it is found in all the documents. It is in place in the latter; for the notion of laughing contains something more transient than that of being full.
The expression ἀπέχετε , which we have rendered by ye have received, signifies: you have taken and carried away everything; all therefore is exhausted. Comp. Luke 16:25.
The terms hunger, weeping, were literally realized in the great national catastrophe which followed soon after this malediction; but they also contain an allusion to the privations and sufferings which await, after death, those who have found their happiness in this world.
In Luk 6:26 it is more particularly the Pharisees and scribes, who were so generally honoured in Israel, that Jesus points out as continuing the work of the false prophets. These four woes would be incompatible with the spiritual sense of the terms poor, hungry, etc., in the beatitudes.
The second part of the discourse: Luke 6:27-45. The New Law.
Here we have the body of the discourse. Jesus proclaims the supreme law of the new society. The difference from Matthew comes out in a yet more striking manner in this part than in the preceding. In the first Gospel, the principal idea is the opposition between legal righteousness and the new righteousness which Jesus came to establish. He Himself announces the text of the discourse in this saying ( Luk 6:20 ): “ Except your righteousness exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven. ” The law, in the greater number of its statutes, seemed at first sight only to require outward observance. But it was evident to every true heart, that by these commandments the God of holiness desired to lead His worshippers, not to hypocritical formalism, but to spiritual obedience. The tenth commandment made this very clear, as far as respected the decalogue. Israelitish teaching should have laboured to explain the law in this truly moral sense, and to have carried the people up from the letter to the spirit, as the prophets had endeavoured to do. Instead of that, Pharisaism had taken pleasure in multiplying indefinitely legal observances, and in regulating them with the minutest exactness, urging the letter of the precept to such a degree as sometimes even to make it contradict its spirit. It had stifled morality under legalism. Comp. Matthew 15:1-20; Matthew 15:23. In dealing with this crying abuse, Jesus breaks into the heart of the letter with a bold hand, in order to set free its spirit, and displaying this in all its beauty, casts aside at once the letter, which was only its imperfect envelope, and that Pharisaical righteousness, which rested on nothing else than an indefinite amplification of the letter. Thus Jesus finds the secret of the abolition of the law in its very fulfilment. Paul understood and developed this better than anybody. What in fact, is the legislator's intention in imposing the letter? Not the letter, but the spirit. The letter, like the thick calyx under the protection of which the flower, with its delicate organs, is formed, was only a means of preserving and developing its inward meaning of goodness, until the time came when it could bloom freely. This time had come. Jesus on the mountain proclaims it. And this is why this day is the counterpart of the day of Sinai. He opposes the letter of the divine commandment, understood as letter, to the spirit contained in it, and developes this contrast, Matthew 5:0, in a series of antitheses so striking, that it is impossible to doubt either their authenticity, or that they formed the real substance, the centre of the Sermon on the Mount. Holtzmann will never succeed in persuading any one to the contrary; his entire critical hypothesis as to the relations of the Syn. will crumble away sooner than this conviction. The connection of the discourse in Matthew is this: 1. Jesus discloses wherein the Pharisaical righteousness fails, its want of inward truth ( Luk 6:13-48 ). 2. He judges, by this law, the three positive manifestations of this boasted righteousness: almsgiving, prayer, and fasting ( Luk 6:1-18 ). 3. He attacks two of the most characteristic sins of Pharisaism: covetousness and censoriousness (Luke 6:19-34, Luk 7:1-5 ). 4. Lastly there come various particular precepts on prayer, conversion, false religious teaching, etc. ( Luk 7:6-20 ). But between these precepts it is no longer possible to establish a perfectly natural connection. Such is the body of the Sermon in Matthew: at the commencement, an unbroken chain of thought; then a connection which becomes slighter and slighter, until it ceases altogether, and the discourse becomes a simple collection of detached sayings. But the fundamental idea is still the opposition between the formalism of the ancient righteousness and the spirituality of the new.
In Luke also, the subject of the discourse is the perfect law of the new order of things; but this law is exhibited, not under its abstract and polemical relation of spirituality, but under its concrete and positive form of charity. The plan of this part of the discourse, in Luke, is as follows: 1 st. Jesus describes the practical manifestations of the new principle ( Luk 6:27-30 ); then, 2 d. He gives concise expression to it ( Luk 6:31 ); 3 d. He indicates the distinctive characteristics of charity, by contrasting this virtue with certain natural analogous sentiments (Luke 6:32-35 a); 4 th. He sets forth its model and source (Luke 6:35 b and 36); 5 th. Lastly, He exhibits this gratuitous, disinterested love as the principle of all sound judgment and salutary religious teaching, contrasting in this respect the new ministry, which He is establishing in the earth in the presence of His disciples, with the old, which, as embodied in the Pharisees, is vanishing away ( Luk 6:37-45 ).
At the first glance, there seems little or nothing in common between this body of the discourse, and that which, as we have just seen, Matthew gives us. We can even understand, to a certain extent, the odd notion of Schleiermacher, that these two versions emanated from two hearers, of whom one was more favourably situated for hearing than the other! The difference, however, between these two versions may be accounted for by connecting the fully-developed subject in Luke with the subject of the last two of the six antitheses, by which Jesus describes (Matthew 5:0) the contrast between legal righteousness and true righteousness. Jesus attacks, Luke 6:38-48, the Pharisaical commentary on these two precepts of the law: an eye for an eye...; and, thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. This commentary, by applying the lex talionis, which had only been given as a rule for the judges of Israel, to private life, and by deducing from the word neighbour this consequence: therefore thou mayest hate him who is not thy neighbour, that is to say, the foreigner, or thine enemy, had entirely falsified the meaning of the law on these two points. In opposition to these caricatures, Jesus sets forth, in Matthew, the inexhaustible and perfect grace of charity, as exhibited to man in the example of his heavenly Benefactor; then He proceeds to identify this charity in man with the divine perfection itself: “Be ye perfect [through charity], as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.” Now it is just at this point that Luke begins to appropriate the central part of the discourse. These last two antitheses, which terminate in Matthew in the lofty thought ( Luk 6:48 ) of man being elevated by love to the perfection of God, furnish Luke with the leading idea of the discourse as he presents it, namely, charity as the law of the new life. Its theme is in this way modified in form, but it is not altered in substance. For if, as St. Paul says, Romans 13:10, “ charity is the fulfilling of the law;” if perfect spirituality, complete likeness to God, consists in charity; the fundamental agreement between these two forms of the Sermon on the Mount is evident. Only Luke has deemed it advisable to omit all that specially referred to the ancient law and the comments of the Pharisees, and to preserve only that which has a universal human bearing, the opposition between charity and the natural selfishness of the human heart.
The two accounts being thus related, it follows, that as regards the original structure of the discourse, in so far as this was determined by opposition to Pharisaism, Matthew has preserved it more completely than Luke. But though this is so, Matthew's discourse still contains many details not originally belonging to it, which Luke has very properly assigned to entirely different places in other parts of his narrative. We find here once more the two writers following their respective bent: Matthew, having a didactic aim, exhibits in a general manner the teaching of Jesus on the righteousness of the kingdom, by including in this outline many sayings spoken on other occasions, but bearing on the same subject; Luke, writing as a historian, confines himself more strictly to the actual words which Jesus uttered at this time. Thus each of them has his own kind of superiority over the other.
1 st. The manifestations of charity: Luke 6:27-30. To describe the manifestations of this new principle, which is henceforth to sway the world, was the most popular and effectual way of introducing it into the consciences of his hearers. Jesus describes, first of all, charity in its active form ( Luk 6:27-28 ) then in its passive form of endurance ( Luk 6:29-30 ).
Vers. 27, 28. “ But I say unto you which hear, Love your enemies, do good to them which hate you. 28. Bless them that curse you, and pray for them which despitefully use you. ”
There is a break in the connection between Luk 6:26 and Luke 6:27. De Wette and Meyer think that the link is to be found in this thought understood: “Notwithstanding these curses which I pronounce upon the rich, your persecutors, I command you not to hate, but to love them.” But in the verses that follow, it is not the rich particularly that are represented as the enemies whom His disciples should love. The precept of love to enemies is given in the most general manner. Rather is it the new law which Jesus announces here, as in Matthew. The link of connection with what goes before is this: In the midst of this hatred of which you will be the objects ( Luk 6:22 ), it will be your duty to realize in the world the perfect law which I to-day proclaim to you. Tholuck, in his Explanation of the Sermon on the Mount (p. 498), takes exception to Luke for giving these precepts a place here, where they have no connection; but he thus shows that he has failed to understand the structure of this discourse in our Gospel, as we have exhibited it. In this form of expression: But I say unto you which hear, there is an echo as it were of the antithesis of Matthew: “Ye have heard... But I say unto you. ” By this expression, you which hear, Jesus opposes the actual hearers surrounding Him to those imaginary hearers to whom the preceding woes were addressed.
We must conceive of the words, Luk 6:27 and Luke 6:28, as having been pronounced with some kind of enthusiasm. These precepts overflow with love. You have only to meet every manifestation of hatred with a fresh manifestation of love. Love! Love! You can never love too much! The term love denotes the essence of the new principle. Then come its manifestations: first, in acts ( do good); then in words ( bless); lastly, the highest manifestation, which is at once act and word ( pray for). These manifestations of love correspond with the exhibitions of hatred by which they are called forth: ἔχθρα , hatred, the inward feeling; μισεῖν , to hold in abhorrence, the acts; καταρασθαι , to curse, the words. ᾿Επηρεάζειν (probably from ἐπί and αἴρεσθαι , to rise against, to thwart) corresponds with intercession. Jesus therefore here requires more than that which to natural selfishness appears the highest virtue: not to render evil for evil. He demands from His disciples, according to the expression of St. Paul ( Rom 12:21 ), that they shall overcome evil with good; Jesus could not yet reveal the source whence His disciples were to derive this entirely new passion, this divine charity which displays its riches of forgiveness and salvation towards a rebellious world at enmity with God ( Rom 5:8-10 ).
In the parallel passage in Matthew, the two intervening propositions have probably been transferred from Luke.
Vers. 29 and 30. Patient Charity. “ And unto him that smiteth thee on the one cheek, offer also the other; and him that taketh away thy cloak, forbid not to take thy coat also. 30. Give to every man that asketh of thee; and of him that taketh away thy goods ask them not again. ”
Paul also regards μακροθυμεῖν , to be long-suffering, as on a par with χρηστεύεσθαι , to do good (Charity suffereth long, and is kind, 1Co 13:4 ). The natural heart thinks it does a great deal when it respects a neighbour's rights; it does not rise to the higher idea of sacrificing its own. Jesus here describes a charity which seems to ignore its own rights, and knows no bounds to its self-sacrifice. He exhibits this sublime ideal in actual instances ( lit. in the most concrete traits) and under the most paradoxical forms. In order to explain these difficult words, Olshausen maintained that they only applied to the members of the kingdom of God among themselves, and not to the relations of Christians with the world. But would Jesus have entertained the supposition of strikers and thieves among His own people? Again, it has been said that these precepts expressed nothing more than an emphatic condemnation of revenge (Calvin), that they were hyperboles (Zwingle), a portrayal of the general disposition which the Christian is to exemplify in each individual case, according as regard for God's glory and his neighbour's salvation may permit (Tholuck); which comes to St. Augustine's idea, that these precepts concern the praeparatio cordis rather than the opus quod in aperto fit. Without denying that there is some truth in all these explanations, we think that they do not altogether grasp the idea. Jesus means that, as far as itself is concerned, charity know no limits to its self-denial. If, therefore, it ever puts a stop to its concessions, it is in no way because it feels its patience exhausted; true charity is infinite as God Himself, whose essence it is. Its limit, if it has any, is not that which its rights draw around it; it is a limit like that which the beautiful defines for itself, proceeding from within. It is in charity that the disciple of Jesus yields, when he yields; it is in charity also that he resists, when he resists. CHARITY HAS NO OTHER LIMIT THAN CHARITY ITSELF, that is to say, it is boundless. Σιαγών does not-properly mean, as it is ordinarily translated, the cheek ( παρειά ), but the jaw; the blow given, therefore, is not a slap, but a heavy blow. Consequently it is an act of violence, rather than of contempt, that is meant.
The disciple who has completely sacrificed his person, naturally will not refuse his clothes. As ἱμάτιον denotes the upper garment, and χιτῶν the under garment or tunic which is worn next the skin, it would seem that here also it is an act of violence that is meant, a theft perpetrated by main force; the thief first snatches away the upper garment. Matthew presents the reverse order: “He who would take away thy coat, let him have thy cloak also.” This is because with him it is an affair of legal process ( if any man will sue thee at the law). The creditor begins by possessing himself of the coat, which is less valuable; then, if he is not sufficiently compensated, he claims the under garment. This juridical form stands connected in Matthew with the article of the Mosaic code which Jesus has just cited: an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth. Matthew, therefore, appears to have preserved the original words of this passage. But is it possible to conceive, that if Luke had had Matthew's writing before him, or the document made use of by the author of this Gospel, he would have substituted, on his own authority, a totally different thought from that of his predecessor?
Ver. 30. Another form of the same thought. A Christian, so far as he is concerned, would neither refuse anything nor claim anything back. If, therefore, he does either one or the other, it is always out of charity. This sentiment regulates his refusals as well as his gifts, the maintenance as well as the sacrifice of his rights.
2 d. After having described the applications of the new principle, Jesus gives a formal enunciation of it, Luke 6:31: “ And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise. ”
The natural heart says, indeed, with the Rabbins. “What is disagreeable to thyself, do not do to thy neighbour.” But charity says, by the mouth of Jesus: “Whatsoever thou desirest for thyself, that do to thy neighbour.” Treat thy neighbour in everything as thine other self. It is obvious that Jesus only means desires that are reasonable and really salutary. His disciples are regarded as unable to form any others for themselves. Καί , and, may be rendered here by, in a word. In Matthew this precept is found in chap. 7 towards the end of the discourse, between an exhortation to prayer and a call to conversion, consequently without any natural connection with what precedes and follows. Notwithstanding this, Tholuck prefers the position which it has in Matthew. He regards this saying as a summary of the whole discourse (p. 498). But is it not manifest that it is more naturally connected with a series of precepts on charity, than with an exhortation to prayer?
3 d. The distinguishing characteristic of charity, disinterestedness: Luke 6:32-35; Luke 6:32-35 a. “ And if ye love them which love you, what thank have ye? For sinners also love those that love them. 33. And if ye do good to them which do good to you, what thank have ye? For sinners also do even the same. 34. And if ye lend to those of whom ye hope to receive, what thank have ye? For sinners also lend to sinners, to receive the same service. Luke 6:35 a. But love your enemies, and do them good, and lend, without hoping for anything again. ”
Human love seeks an object which is congenial to itself, and from which, in case of need, it may obtain some return. There is always somewhat of self-interest in it. The new love which Jesus proclaims will be completely gratuitous and disinterested. For this reason it will be able to embrace even an object entirely opposed to its own nature. Χάρις : the favour which comes from God; in Matthew: τίνα μισθόν , what matter of recompense? ᾿Απολαμβάνειν τὰ ῖσα may signify, to withdraw the capital lent, or indeed, to receive some day the same service. The preposition ἀπό would favour the first sense. But the Alex. reading renders this prep. doubtful. The covert selfishness of this conduct comes out better in the second sense, only to lend to those who, it is hoped, will lend in their turn. It is a shrewd calculation, selfishness in instinctive accord with the law of retaliation, utilitarianism coming forward to reap the fruits of morality. What fine irony there is in this picture! What a criticism on natural kindness! The new principle of wholly disinterested charity comes out very clearly on this dark background of ordinary benevolence. This paradoxical form which Jesus gives His precepts, effectually prevents all attempts of a relaxed morality to weaken them. Πλήν ( Luk 6:35 ): “This false love cast aside; for you, my disciples, there only remains this.” ᾿Απελπίζειν means properly, to despair. Meyer would apply this sense here: “not despairing of divine remuneration in the dispensation to come.” But how can the object of the verb μηδέν , nothing, be harmonized with this meaning and the antithesis in Luk 6:34 ? The sense which the Syriac translation gives, reading probably with some MSS. μηδένα , no one, “causing no one to despair by a refusal,” is grammatically inadmissible. The only alternative is to give the ἀπό in ἀπελπίζειν the sense which this prep. already has in ἀπολαβεῖν , hoping for nothing in return from him who asks of you.
4 th. The model and source of the charity which Jesus has just depicted: Luke 6:35 b and 36. “ And your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the children of the Highest: for He is kind to the unthankful and to the evil. 36. Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful. ”
Having referred to the love which His disciples are to surpass, that of man by nature a sinner, Jesus shows them what they must aspire to reach, that divine love which is the source of all gratuitous and disinterested love. The promise of a reward is no contradiction to the perfect disinterestedness which Jesus has just made the essential characteristic of love. And, in fact, the reward is not a payment of a nature foreign to the feeling rewarded, the prize of merit; it is the feeling itself brought to perfection, the full participation in the life and glory of God, who is love! Καί , and in fact. This disinterested love, whereby we become like God, raises us to the glorious condition of His sons and heirs, like Jesus Himself. The seventh beatitude in Matthew, “ Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God,” is probably a general maxim taken from this saying.
If the ungrateful and the wicked are the object of divine love, it is because this love is compassionate ( οἰκτίρμων , Luk 6:36 ). In the wicked man God sees the unhappy man. Mat 5:45 gives this same idea in an entirely different form: “ For He maketh His sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. ” How could these two forms have been taken from the same document? If Luke had known this fine saying in Matthew, would he have suppressed it? Matthew concludes this train of thought by a general maxim similar to that in Luke 5:36: “ Be ye therefore perfect, as your Father in heaven is perfect. ” These two different forms correspond exactly with the difference in the body of the discourse in the two evangelists. Matthew speaks of the inward righteousness, the perfection (to which one attains through charity); Luke, of charity (the essential element of perfection; comp. Col 3:14 ).
Vers. 37 and 38. “ And judge not, and ye shall not be judged; condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned; forgive, and ye shall be forgiven. 38. Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom; for with the same measure that ye mete withal, it shall be measured to you again. ”
There is no reference here to the pardon of personal offences; the reference is to charity, which, in a general way, refuses to judge. Jesus evidently has in view in this passage the judgment which the scribes and Pharisees assumed the right to exercise in Israel, and which their harshness and arrogance rendered more injurious than useful, as was seen in the effect it produced on the publicans and other such persons (Luke 6:30, Luk 15:28-30 ). Καί indicates the transition to a new but analogous subject: And further. Κρίνειν , to judge, is not equivalent to condemn; it means generally to set oneself up as a judge of the moral worth of another. But since, wherever this disposition prevails, judgment is usually exercised in an unkindly spirit, the word is certainly employed here in an unfavourable sense. It is strengthened by the following term: condemn, to condemn pitilessly and without taking into account any reasons for forbearance. ᾿Απολύειν , to absolve, does not refer, therefore, to the pardon of a personal offence; it is the anxiety of love to find a neighbour innocent rather than guilty, to excuse rather than to condemn. The Lord does not forbid all moral judgments on the conduct of our neighbour; this would contradict many other passages, for example 1 Corinthians 5:12: “ Do not ye judge them that are within? ” The true judgment, inspired by love, is implied in Luke 6:42. What Jesus desires to banish from the society of His disciples is the judging spirit, the tendency to place our faculty of moral appreciation at the service of natural malignity, or more simply still: judging for the pleasure of judging. The reward promised: not to be judged or condemned, to be sent away absolved, may refer either to this world or the other, to the conduct of men or of God. The latter is the more natural meaning, it enforces itself in the next precept.
It is probably from here that the fifth beatitude in Matthew has been taken: “ Blessed are the merciful; for they shall obtain mercy. ”
With a disposition to absolve those that are accused, is naturally connected that of giving, that is to say, of rendering service to all, even to the greatest sinners. This idea is introduced here only as an accessory to the other. There is some feeling in these successive imperatives, and a remarkable affluence of expression in the promise. Some one has said: “Give with a full hand to God, and He will give with a full hand to you.” The idea of this boundless liberality of God is forcibly expressed by the accumulation of epithets. The measure, to which Jesus alludes, is one for solids ( pressed, shaken together); the epithet, running over, is not at all opposed to this.
The expression, into your bosom, refers to the form of the oriental garment, which allows of things being heaped together in the large pocket-shaped fold above the girdle ( Rth 3:15 ).
The plur. δώσουσιν , they will give, corresponds to the French indef. pron. on; it denotes the instruments of divine munificence, whoever they may be (Luke 12:20; Luk 12:48 ).
This precept is found, in very nearly the same terms, in Mat 7:1 et seq., immediately following an exhortation to confidence in Providence, and before an invitation to prayer, in a context, therefore, with which it has no connection. In Luke, on the contrary, all is closely connected.
5 th. Love, the principle of all beneficent moral action on the world: Luke 6:37-45.
The disciples of Jesus are not only called to practise what is good themselves; they are charged to make it prevail in the earth. They are, as Jesus says in Matthew, immediately after the beatitudes, the light of the world, the salt of the earth. Now they can only exercise this salutary influence through love, which manifests itself in this sphere also (comp. Luk 6:27 ), either by what it refrains from ( Luk 6:37-42 ), or by action ( Luk 6:43-45 ). Above all things, love refrains from judging.
Vers. 39 and 40. “ And He spake a parable unto them, Can the blind lead the blind? Shall they not both fall into the ditch? 40. The disciple is not above his master: but every one that is perfect shall be as his master. ”
Meyer, Bleek, and Holtzmann can see no natural connection between this little parable and the preceding precept. The form, He said to them also, seems of itself to indicate an interruption, and to betray the interpolation of a passage foreign to the original context. Is not, however, the figure of a blind man leading another man ( Luk 6:39 ) evidently connected with that of the man who, while he has a beam in his own eye, wants to take a straw out of his brother's eye ( Luk 6:41 )? And who can fail to perceive the connection between the idea contained in this last illustration and the precept which precedes ( Luk 6:37-38 ) respecting judgments? A man's presuming to correct his neighbour, without correcting himself, is not this altogether characteristic of that mania for judging others which Jesus has just forbidden? The whole passage ( Luk 6:37-42 ) is just, therefore, a piece of consecutive instruction respecting judgments. Jesus continues the contrast between that normal and salutary judgment which He expects from His disciples, in regard to the world, based partly on the love of one's neighbour, and partly on unsparing judgment of oneself, and that injurious judgment which the Pharisees, severe towards others, and altogether infatuated with themselves, were exercising in the midst of Jewish society. The sole result of the ministry of the Pharisees was to fit their disciples for the same perdition as themselves! Jesus prays His disciples not to repeat such achievements in the order of things which He is about to establish. In Matthew 15:14; Mat 23:15-16 we have some precisely similar words addressed to the Pharisees. We are not mistaken, therefore, in our application of this figure.
As to the phrase, And He saith to them also ( Luk 6:39 ), comp. Luke 6:5. This break in the discourse represents a moment's pause to collect His thoughts. Jesus seeks for an illustration that will impress His hearers with the deplorable consequences of passing judgment on others, when it is done after the fashion of the Pharisees. ῾Οδηγεῖν , to point out the way, combines the two notions of correction and instruction. The disciple, in so far as he is a disciple, not being able to excel his master ( Luk 6:40 ), it follows that the disciple of a Pharisee will not be able at best to do more than equal his master, that is to say, fall into the same ditch with him.
Ver. 40 justifies this idea. Here we see what will happen to the whole people, if they remain under the direction of the Pharisees. The further they advance in the school of such masters, the nearer they will come...to perdition. The proverbial saying, Luke 6:40 a, is used in Mat 10:24-25 and Joh 15:20 in this sense: The servants of Jesus must not expect to be treated better than their Master. In Luk 22:27 and Joh 13:16 it is applied to the humility which befits the servant of such a Master. It is obvious that Jesus made various applications of these general maxims.
Whatever, then, modern criticism may think, the context of Luke is unexceptionable. How can Weizsäcker so disregard this connection, as actually to make Luk 6:39 the commencement of a new part, “the second section of the discourse”! (p. 153).
Vers. 41 and 42. “ And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but perceivest not the beam that is in thine own eye? 42. Either how canst thou say to thy brother, Brother, let me pull out the mote that is in thine eye, when thou thyself beholdest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, cast out first the beam out of thine own eye, and then shalt thou see clearly to pull out the mote that is in thy brother's eye. ”
In order to be useful in correcting another, a man must begin by correcting himself. Love, when sincere, never acts otherwise. Beyond the limits of this restraint, all judgment is the fruit of presumption and blindness. Such was the judgment of the Pharisees. The mote, the bit of straw which has slipped into the eye, represents a defect of secondary importance. A beam in the eye is a ludicrous image which ridicule uses to describe a ridiculous proceeding, a man's assuming, as the Pharisee did, to direct the moral education of his less vicious neighbour, when he was himself saturated with avarice, pride, and other odious vices. Such a man is rightly termed a hypocrite; for if it was hatred of evil that inspired his judgment, would he not begin by showing this feeling in an unsparing judgment of himself? Ordinarily, διαβλέψεις is understood in this sense: Thou wilt be able to think to, to see to...But can βλέπειν , to see, be used in this connection in an abstract sense? The connection between ἔκβαλλε , take away, and διαβλέψεις , thou shalt see, should suffice to prove the contrary: “Take away the beam which takes away thy sight, and then thou shalt see clearly to...” The verb διαβλέπειν , to see through, to see distinctly, is only found in this passage, and in its parallel in Matthew, in all the N. T. This has been held to prove that the two evangelists both employed the same Greek document. But characteristic expressions such as these doubtless originated in the first rendering of the oral tradition into the Greek tongue; precepts then took a fixed form, certain features of which were preserved in the preaching, and thence passed into our Syn.
In vers. 43-45, the idea of teaching, which is perceptible in Luke 6:40, takes the place altogether of the idea of judging, with which it is closely connected.
Vers. 43-45. “ For a good tree bringeth not forth corrupt fruit; neither doth a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. 44. For every tree is known by his own fruit: for of thorns men do not gather figs, nor of a bramble-bush gather they grapes. ”
In order that our words may have a good influence on our neighbour, we must be good ourselves. In this passage, therefore, the fruits of the tree are neither the moral conduct of the individual who teaches, nor his doctrines. They are the results of his labour in others. In vain will a proud man preach humility, or a selfish man charity; the injurious influence of example will paralyze the efforts of their words. The corrupt tree ( σαρπόν ) is a tree infected with canker, whose juices are incapable of producing palatable fruit.
The connection between Luke 6:43-44 a is this: “ This principle is so true, that every one, without hesitation, infers the nature of a tree from its fruits.”
In Palestine there are often seen, behind hedges of thorns and brambles, fig-trees completely garlanded with the climbing tendrils of vine branches.
Ver. 45 gives expression to the general principle on which the whole of the preceding rests. A man's word is the most direct communication of his being. If a man desires to reform others by his word, he must reform himself; then his word will change the world. Jesus Himself succeeded in depositing a germ of goodness in the world by His word alone, because He was a perfectly good man. It is for His disciples to continue His work by this method, which is the antipodes of that of the Pharisees.
An analogous passage is found in Matthew, at the end of the Sermon on the Mount ( Luk 7:15-20 ). There Jesus is exhorting His hearers to beware of false prophets, who betray their real character by their evil fruits. These false prophets may indeed be, in this precept, as in that of Luke, the Pharisees (comp. our Luk 6:26 ). But their fruits are certainly, in Matthew, their moral conduct, their pride, avarice, and hypocrisy, and not, as in Luke, the effects produced by their ministry. On the other hand, we find a passage in Matthew ( Mat 12:33-35 ) still more like ours. As it belongs to a warning against blaspheming the Holy Ghost, the fruits of the tree are evidently, as in Luke, the words themselves, in so far as they are good or bad in their nature and in their effect on those who receive them. Form this, is it not evident that this passage is the true parallel to ours, and that the passage which Matthew has introduced into the Sermon on the Mount is an importation, occasioned probably by the employment of the same image (that of the trees and their fruits) in both?
Thus Jesus has risen by degrees from the conditions of the Christian life (the beatitudes) to the life itself; first of all to its principle, then to its action on the world. He has made His renewed disciples instruments for the renewal of humanity. It now only remains for Him to bring this inaugural discourse to a close.
Third part of the discourse: Luke 6:46-49. The Sanction.
Here we have the conclusion, and, so to speak, the peroration of the discourse. The Lord enjoins His disciples, for the sake of their own welfare, to put in practice the new principle of conduct which He has just laid down.
Ver. 46. “ And why call ye me Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say. ”
This saying proves that Jesus was already recognised as Lord by a large part of this multitude, but that even then He would have been glad to find in many of those who saluted Him by this title a more scrupulous fidelity to the law of charity. This warning is connected, doubtless, with the preceding context, by this idea: “Do not be guilty, in the dispensation now commencing, of the same hypocrisy as the scribes and Pharisees have been guilty of in that which is coming to an end; they render homage to Jehovah, and, at the same time, perpetually transgress His law. Do not deal with my word in this way.” The same idea is found in Matthew, at the corresponding place in the Sermon on the Mount ( Luk 7:21 et seq.), but under that abstract and sententious form already observed in the Beatitudes: “ Not every one that saith unto me: Lord, Lord,” etc. In this passage in Matthew, Jesus expressly claims to be the Messiah and Supreme Judge. The same idea is expressed in the Lord, Lord, of Luke.
Vers. 47-49. “ Whosoever cometh to me, and heareth my sayings, and doeth them, I will show you to whom he is like: 48. He is like a man which built an house, and digged deep, and laid the foundation on a rock: and when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently upon that house, and could not shake it; for it was founded upon a rock. 49. But he that heareth, and doeth not, is like a man that, without a foundation, built a house upon the earth; against which the stream did beat vehemently, and immediately it fell; and the ruin of that house was great. ”
The two evangelists coincide in this closing illustration. On the shelving lands which surround the Lake of Genesareth, there are some hills on which the rock is covered with only a thin layer of earth ( γῆ , Luke) or sand ( ἄμμος , Matthew). A prudent man digs through this moveable soil, digs deep down ( ἔσκαψε καὶ ἐβάθυνε ), even into the rock, upon and in which ( ἐ/πί with the accusative) he lays the foundation.
Luke only mentions one cause of destruction, the waterspout ( πλήμμυρα ), that breaks on the summit of the mountain and creates the torrents which carry away the layer of earth and sand, and with it the building that is not founded on the rock. Matthew adds the hurricane ( ἄνεμοι ) that ordinarily accompanies these great atmospheric disturbances, and overthrows the building which the torrent undermines. Though the differences between these two descriptions in Matthew and Luke are for the most part insignificant, they are too numerous to suppose that both could have been taken from the same document.
To build on the earth, is to admit the Lord's will merely into the understanding, that most superficial and impersonal part of a man's self, while closing the conscience against Him, and withholding the acquiescence of the will, which is the really personal element within us. The trial of our spiritual building is brought about by temptation, persecution, and, last of all, by judgment. Its overthrow is accomplished by unbelief here below, and by condemnation from above.
The Alex. reading, because it had been well built ( Luk 6:48 ), is to be preferred to that of the T. R., for it was founded on a rock, which is taken from Matthew.
A single lost soul is a great ruin in the eyes of God. Jesus, in closing His discourse, leaves His hearers under the impression of this solemn thought. Each of them, while listening to this last word, might think that he heard the crash of the falling edifice, and say within himself: This disaster will be mine if I prove hypocritical or inconsistent.
The Sermon on the Mount, therefore, as Weizsäcker has clearly seen, is: the inauguration of the new law. The order of the discourse, according to the two documents, is this: Jesus addresses His hearers as belonging to a class of people who, even according to the Old Testament, have the greatest need of heavenly compensations. Treating them as disciples, either because they were already attached to Him as such, or in their character as voluntary hearers, He regards this audience, brought together without previous preparation, as representing the new order of things, and promulgates before this new Israel the principle of the perfect láw. Then, substituting His disciples for the doctors of the ancient economy, He points out to them the sole condition on which they will be able to accomplish in the world the glorious work which He confides to them. Lastly, He urges them, in the name of all they hold most precious, to fulfil this condition by making their life agree with their profession, in order that, when tested by the judgment, they may not come to ruin. In what respect does this discourse lack unity and regular progression? How can Weizsäcker say that these precepts, in Luke, are for the most part thrown together, without connection, and detached from their natural context? It is in Matthew rather, as Weizsäcker, among others, acknowledges, that we find foreign elements interwoven with the tissue of the discourse; they are easily perceived, for they break the connection, and the association of ideas which has occasioned the interpolation is obvious. Thus: Luke 6:23-26, reconciliation ( apropos of hatred and murder); Luke 6:29-30, a precept, which is found elsewhere in Matthew itself ( Luk 18:8-9 ); Luke 6:31-32 (a passage which is found Luk 19:3-9 ); Luke 6:7-15, the Lord's Prayer, an evident interruption in His treatment of the three principal Pharisaic virtues (alms, Luke 6:2-4; prayer, Luke 6:5-6; fasting, Luk 6:16-18 ); Luke 6:24 (if not even 19) -34, a passage on providence (in connection with the avarice of the Pharisees); Luke 7:6-11; Luke 7:13-14, precepts, simply juxtaposited; Luke 7:15-20, a passage for which Luk 12:33-35 should be substituted; lastly, Luke 7:22-23, where allusion is made to facts which lie out of the horizon of that early period. It is remarkable that these passages, whose foreign character is proved by the context of Matthew, are the very passages that are found dispersed over different places in the Gospel of Luke, where their appropriateness is easily verified. The author of the first Gospel could not be blamed for this combination of heterogeneous elements within one and the same outline, unless his compilation of the discourse had been made from the first with an historical aim. But if we admit, as we are authorized by the testimony of Papias to admit, that this discourse belonged originally to a collection of discourses compiled with a didactic or liturgical aim, and that the author wanted to give a somewhat complete exposition of the new moral law proclaimed by Jesus, there is nothing more natural than this agglomerating process. It is evident that the author found, in this way, a means of producing in his readers, just as any other evangelist, the thrilling impression which the word of Jesus had made on the hearts of His hearers ( Mat 7:28-29 ).
The way in which these two versions stand related to each other, will not allow of their being deduced from a proto-Mark as a common source, according to Holtzmann and Weizsäcker. And besides, how, in this case, did it happen that this discourse was omitted in our canonical Mark? The species of logophobia which they attribute to him, in order to explain this fact, is incompatible with Mark 9:39-50; Mark 9:13.
A religious party has made a party-banner of this discourse. According to them, this discourse is a summary of the teaching of Jesus, who merely spiritualized the Mosaic law. But how are we to harmonize with this view the passages in which Jesus makes attachment to His person the very centre of the new righteousness ( for my sake, Matthew 5:11; for the sake of the Son of man, Luk 6:22 ), and those in which He announces Himself as the Final and Supreme Judge (Matthew 7:21-23, comp. with Luke 6:46: Lord, Lord!)? The true view of the religious import of this discourse, is that which Gess has expressed in these well-weighed words: “The Sermon on the Mount describes that earnest piety which no one can cultivate without an increasing feeling of the need of redemption, by means of which the righteousness required by such piety may at last be realized” (p. 6).
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Godet, Frédéric Louis. "Commentary on Luke 6". "Godet's Commentary on Selected Books". https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 14 / Ordinary 19