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Bible Commentaries

Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

Luke 6



Luke 6:1-5 Christ alleges Scripture in defence of his disciples plucking the ears of corn on the sabbath day.

Luke 6:6-11 He appeals to reason, and healeth the withered hand on the sabbath.

Luke 6:12-16 He spendeth the night in prayer, and chooseth the twelve apostles.

Luke 6:17-19 He healeth divers diseased,

Luke 6:20-26 pronounces blessings and woes,

Luke 6:27-45 teacheth to return good for evil, and other lessons of moral duty,

Luke 6:46-49 and admonishes to be his disciples in practice, and not in profession only.

Verses 1-5

See Poole on "Matthew 12:1", and following verses to Matthew 12:8, and See Poole on "Mark 2:23", and following verses to Mark 2:28. There are several guesses what day is here meant, by

the second sabbath after the first. The Jews had several sabbaths; besides the seventh day sabbath, which was weekly, all their festival days were called sabbaths. On the fourteenth day of the first month, at evening, began the passover; on the fifteenth day began their feast of unleavened bread, which held seven days, every one of which was called a sabbath; but the first day and the seventh day were to be days of holy convocation, in which no work was to be done that was servile, Leviticus 23:7. Then they had their feast of first fruits. Fifty days after that they had their feast of pentecost. Some understand by the second sabbath after the first, the seventh day of the feast of unleavened bread. Others, their second great festival. It is very hard to resolve, and not material for us to know. For the history itself: See Poole on "Matthew 12:1", and following verses to Matthew 12:8.

Verses 6-11

See Poole on "Matthew 12:10", and following verses to Matthew 12:13, See Poole on "Mark 3:1", and following verses to Mark 3:5. In both which places we met with the same history, and with some more circumstances. Mark tells us that the subject of their deliberation, what they might do to Jesus, was, how they might destroy him; this the evangelist maketh the effect of their madness, ανοιας, and he very properly so calls it. For men to answer arguments and reason with violence, is for them to act like mad men, not like reasonable creatures; yet, to show the degeneracy of human nature, we shall observe there is nothing hath been more ordinary, when men have been conquered by reasoning, and have nothing reasonably to oppose, than to fly to violence, and with swords to cut knots which they cannot untie. Nor can there be a greater evidence of silly and brutish souls, and a baffled cause.

Verse 12

Those who straining this text would interpret the words, εν τη προσευχη, for, the place of prayer, will be concerned to find us out that house of prayer which stood in this mountain, or to tell us where we shall find in holy writ any place but the temple so called, and why it should be said that

he went out into a mountain to pray, if it were not to signify unto us, that he sought a privacy and retiredness, which he could not have had in the temple, nor in any other common place for prayer. Those interpreters certainly judge righter that say, that our Saviour, being about to send put his twelve apostles, thought so great a work should not be done without solemn prayers; he therefore seeketh a place of privacy, and goeth thither to spend some more time than ordinary in the duty of prayer, and the evangelist saith that he continued all night; so setting us an example what to do in great affairs, especially such as are the sending out of persons to so great an employment as that of the ministry, and by his own example commending to us what Paul afterwards commanded, Ephesians 6:18; Colossians 4:2, Continue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving.

Verses 13-16

We have twice already met with these names of the twelve disciples, whom our Saviour called apostles, intending them not only to be with him, and to have a more special communion with him, but also to be sent out with power to preach, baptize, and to work miracles: See Poole on "Matthew 10:2-4". See Poole on "Mark 3:14", and following verses to Mark 3:19. There were amongst them two whose names were Simon: the one Christ named

Peter; the other is called

Simon Zelotes here; Simon the Canaanite, by Matthew and Mark. Two whose names were James: the one was the son of Zebedee, the other was

the son of Alphaeus. Two whose names were Judas: the one is called Thaddaeus by Mark; Lebbaeus and Thaddaeus, by Matthew;

Judas the brother of James, by Luke; (this was the penman of the Epistle of Jude); and

Judas Iscariot, the traitor. The other six were all of differing names. What occurs of difficulty as to their names: See Poole on "Matthew 10:2", and following verses to Matthew 10:4. See Poole on "Mark 3:14", and following verses to Mark 3:19.

Verses 17-19

Such passages as these we meet with several times in the evangelists, who not writing a particular account of the several miracles wrought, or discourses made, by our Saviour, oftentimes they give us a general account of more than they particularly mention. Some think that Luke refers here to Mark 3:7,Mark 3:8; but Mark seemeth rather to refer to a multitude that followed him before he went up to the mountain, which yet might be the same people coming again the next morning, and waiting for Christ’s coming down from the mountain.

Verses 20-23

There are many that think that what Luke hath in these verses, and so to the end of this chapter, is but a shorter epitome of what Matthew hath in his 5th, 6th, and 7th chapters, and that both Matthew and Luke mean the same sermon preached at the same time. The things which favour this opinion are,

1. That sermon is said to be preached upon a mountain; this, when he came down and stood upon the plain, by which some understand only a plainer and more level part of the mountain.

2. That very many passages in the remaining part of this chapter are plainly the same with those we find in one of these three chapters in Matthew.

I can hardly be of that mind:

1. Because of the phrase here used,

he came down, and stood in the plain: it seemeth to me hard to interpret that either of the top of the mountain, (which might be a plain), for how then could he be said to come down, or of a plainer place of the mountain.

2. The multitude described there are said to have come

from Galilee, Decapolis, Jerusalem, Judea, and beyond Jordan. These are said to have come from Judea, Jerusalem, and the seacoasts of Tyre and Sidon. But:

3. Principally from the great difference in the relations of Matthew and Luke.

a) Many large discourses are not touched by Luke, viz. Christ’s whole discourse in giving a true interpretation of the law, and his discourses, Matthew 6:1-34, about alms, prayer, fasting.

b) Secondly, Luke here putteth in three verses together wherein there are woes denounced, of which Matthew saith nothing.

Now though it be usual with the evangelists to relate the same discourses and miracles with some different circumstances, yet not with such considerable differences and variations. Matthew records nine blessednesses pronounced by Christ; Luke but four, and those with considerable variation from Matthew. As for those things which incline some to think it the same sermon, they do not seem to me conclusive. For what they say as to the place, it rather proves the contrary. Matthew saith it was when he had gone up into a mountain, and sat down; Luke saith, he was come down, and stood in the plain. Nor is it more considerable, that most of the passages in this chapter are to be found in the 5th, 6th, or 7th chapter of Matthew; for as they are not here exactly repeated according as Matthew recites them, so what should hinder but that our Saviour at another time, and to another auditory, might preach the same things which concern all men? Leaving therefore all to their own judgments, I see no reason to think that this discourse was but a shorter copy of the same discourse, referring to the same time and company. This being premised, let us now come to consider the words themselves, comparing them with the words recited by Matthew.

Blessed be ye poor: for yours is the kingdom of God. Matthew saith, Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. It is true, neither riches nor poverty bless or curse any man, and none that are poor are blessed if they be proud and high minded, nor any rich man cursed but he that places his portion or consolation in riches; yet Christ here, by the antithesis, seems more particularly to direct his discourse to relieve his disciples discouraged by their poor and low estate in the world, by telling them that, whatever the world thought, they, being his disciples, believing in him, and following him, were in a better condition than those that were rich, and had their consolation in this life.

Blessed are ye that weep now: for ye shall laugh. Matthew saith, Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted. The sense is much the same: You that are in a sad, afflicted state (being my disciples) are blessed; for there will come a time when God shall wipe tears from your eyes.

Blessed are ye that hunger now: for ye shall be filled. Matthew saith, Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness. It is true, hungering and thirsting are no blessings, but neither are they curses to a truly righteous soul, or a soul that truly seeketh after and studieth righteousness.

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. Matthew saith,

Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. It is true the general sense is the same, sufferers for the name of Christ are pronounced blessed; but the words are very different, and here are some species of persecution mentioned that Matthew mentions not particularly.

1. Separating the disciples.

2. Casting out their names as evil.

The separating here mentioned may indeed be understood of imprisonment, or banishment, for persons under those circumstances are separated from the company of their relations and countrymen; but it may also be understood of ecclesiastical censures; and thus it agreeth both with our Saviour’s prophecy, John 16:2, They shall put you out of the synagogues, and with John 9:22, where we read of a decree they made, that if any man did confess that Jesus was the Christ, he should be put out of the synagogue. There are some who think that the Jews exercised no such power till the time of Ezra, when their governor was but a substitute under a pagan prince, who did not give their conquered subjects a power to put any to death, but left them to exercise any lighter punishments. I cannot subscribe to the judgment of those learned men that think so. For as it is not reasonable, that God left the church of the Jews without that power that nature clothes every society with, to purge out of itself such as are not fit members for it; so it will not enter into my thoughts, that all were to be put to death, of whom God said so often, he, or they, shall be cut off from his, or their, people, as in case of uncircumcision, and not receiving the passover in its time. So as I do not think that the latter Jews derived this practice from a human constitution, but from a Divine law. Now we are told that the Jews had three degrees of this separation: some they merely separated from their communion; others they anathematized, that is, cursed; others they so separated, that they prayed against them, that God would make them examples of his vengeance; and some think (but I judge it but a guess) that these were those sinners unto death, for whom John would not have Christians pray, 1 John 5:16. Now it is certain that the Jews exercised not the lowest degree only, but the highest, against Christians, and also made it their business by letters, and word of mouth, to reproach them all over the world, Acts 28:22. Now Christ pronounces them, under these circumstances, blessed, if they suffered these things for his name’s sake. This casting out of their names as evil, doth not only signify the blotting out their names out of the rolls of the church, but the defaming of them in the manner before mentioned, which was like to be a sore temptation to the disciples; against which he further arms them, saying,

Rejoice ye in that day, and leap for joy: for, behold, your reward is great in heaven: for in the like manner did their fathers unto the prophets. See Poole on "Matthew 5:12".

Verse 24

Not because you are rich, but because you are not rich towards God, because you look upon your riches as your portion, as your consolation; or, you that are rich in the opinion of your own righteousness.

Verse 25

Our Saviour must be understood, either of those who are sinfully full, or at least such as are spiritually empty; those that are full are opposed to those that hunger. If we take hunger for a hungering and thirsting after righteousness, as Matthew speaks, those that are full are such as are filled with wind, a high opinion of their own righteousness. If we take hunger for a want of the necessaries of this life, then fullness signifieth either a sinfulness with drink, or meat, or ill gotten goods, or at least for such as are spiritually empty of the knowledge or grace of God; there will come a time when they shall want, as rich Dives wanted a little water to cool his tongue. So by those that laugh must be understood, either those that are sinfully merry, or at least those that have no true cause of spiritual joy. By mourning and weeping, threatened to such, is either meant the vengeance of God upon them in this life, or in the world to come, where there shall be weeping, and wailing, and gnashing of teeth.

Verse 26

A good report of all, even those that are without, is a desirable thing, and what all good men ought to labour for, both by avoiding any just occasion of their speaking ill of them, and by doing all the acts of kindness and charity that may commend religion to them. But the world is so corrupt, that usually none are worse spoken of than the best men. And this is true of no sort of men more than of the ministers of the gospel; neither the prophets of old, nor John the Baptist, nor Christ, nor the apostles, could have good words from the wicked party of their several ages. The false prophets of old were in much greater credit with the generality of the Jews than the prophets of the Lord. The doctrines of the law and the gospel are so contrary to the most of men’s lusts, as it is impossible that the most of the world should be reconciled to them, or to those who faithfully declare them: this the Pharisees in their age, and the papists and their friends in our age, have for some time so well understood, that as it was the business of the Pharisees in their time, so it hath been the business of the popish casuists, so to expound the law of God, as men may flatter themselves that they are no debtors to it, though they keep their several lusts; and so to interpret the gospel, that the way to heaven is made so broad that it is not easy for any to miss it.

Verses 27-29

We met also with a passage much like this in this verse, Matthew 5:39,Matthew 5:40, the general sense of which was, as I then said, a prohibition of private revenge. It is therefore there prefaced in with a more general precept, Resist not evil. But besides this, there seems to be in it also a prohibition of vexatious suits and molestations of others, though under a colour of law; therefore Matthew saith, If any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy cloak; and it may be thought a more special precept relating to those times, when they had none but heathen magistrates, and in some measure to be expounded by 1 Corinthians 6:7, and to be a precept given with respect to the reputation of the gospel, that it might not be scandalized by Christians going to law before infidels. It is most certain it doth not forbid the use of the law, whether for the defending or recovering our just rights, only the irregular or scandalous use of it. See Poole on "Matthew 5:39".

Verse 30

Matthew hath much the same passage, only he saith, Give to him that, &c., not to every man that asketh of thee; and for the latter clause, he hath, from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away, which seems more agreeing to the precept. Deuteronomy 15:8. These precepts of our Saviour must be interpreted, not according to the strict sense of the words, as if every man were by them obliged, without regard to his own abilities, or the circumstances of the persons begging or asking of him, to give to every one that hath the confidence to ask of him; but as obliging us to liberality and charity according to our abilities, and the true needs and circumstances of our poor brethren, and in that order which God’s word hath directed us; first providing for our own families, then doing good to the household of faith, then also to others, as we are able, and see any of them true objects of our charity. Nor must the second part of the verse be interpreted, as if it were a restraint of Christians from pursuing of thieves or oppressors, but as a precept prohibiting us private revenge, or too great contending for little things, &c. See Poole on "Matthew 5:42".

Verse 31

See Poole on "Matthew 7:12". This is the law of nature the golden rule of all justice, and may also serve for a guide to us to expound the former verses, and some other precepts of charity in this chapter. Men in all these cases should consider what they would be glad, and think reasonable, that others should do to them, were they in their circumstances, and the others had the same ability or advantage to do good to them; and by this they should measure their acts both of justice and charity.

Verses 32-34

See Poole on "Matthew 5:46". See Poole on "Matthew 5:47". The strength of our Saviour’s argument lieth in this, That God expects that those who have received more grace and favour from God than others, and who make a higher profession than others, should do more in obedience to the positive commands of God, and the revelations of his will in his word, than they who live merely by the light of nature, and live up merely to the law of nature.

Verses 35-36

I know not how to agree, what I find many interpreters judging, that this text is a prohibition of usury. I should rather interpret it more largely, as a command for acts of mercy, with respect to the circumstances of persons, obliging us not to withhold a charitable hand, from our fear that if we lend we shall lose what we lend, and obliging us, that if we find the circumstances of any that desireth us to lend him for his necessity such a quantity of money or goods as we can spare, and we can well enough bear the loss of, if the providence of God should render the person unable to repay us, we should not be awed by such a fear from acts of charity, but give with a resolution to lose it, if God please to disable the person to whom we lend, so as he cannot repay us. For the question about usury, as to which some conceive this text a prohibition, this is not a place to handle it in the latitude. I do not think it was ever absolutely forbidden to the Jews, they might take it of strangers, and that not only of the Canaanites, whom some say they might kill, (which I doubt after their agreement to a quiet cohabitation), but of other strangers also who came not under the denomination of Canaanites. That argued the taking of usury to be not malum per se, in itself evil, but only malum prohibitum, an evil as forbidden; and not absolutely and universally forbidden, but respectively, only with reference to their brethren of the same church and nation; so rather to be reckoned amongst the municipal laws of the Jews, than the common laws of God for all mankind. Besides that amongst the Jews there was less need of it, partly in respect of their years of jubilee, and partly in regard their employments were chiefly in husbandry, and about cattle, which called not for such sums of money as merchandising doth. Nor is it to be referred to any of the ten commandments, unless the eighth, Thou shalt not steal; which forbidding sins against charity, and such sins against charity being there forbidden as are the taking away the goods of another against his will, and without a just cause, I cannot see how the lending of money for a moderate use, when it is helpful and relieving to our neighbour, should be any kind of stealing, when his good will appeareth in the contract; nor can there be any injustice in it, where there is a quid pro quo, but a proportion for what I am endamaged by the loan; unless any will say it is unjust because against the law of God, which is to beg the question, this argument being brought to prove it is not contrary to the law of God. The exacting of all undue proportion for usury, or a moderate proportion, when we plainly see our brother is fallen into poverty, and cannot pay it, may be forbidden, as a sin against charity, and that love that we ought to show to our neighbours, and the mercifulness here required, Luke 6:36. Yet, admitting the law of God, Deuteronomy 23:19,Deuteronomy 23:20, to be interpreted of all usury, (which yet seemeth hard, for then the Jews might not sell for any thing more at twelve months’ time, than if they were paid presently, for the words are usury of money, usury of victuals, usury of any thing lent upon usury), it concerned the Jews only between themselves, not in their dealings with any strangers, which is plain, Luke 6:20; so also Exodus 22:25, where the term poor is also put in, as it is Leviticus 25:35-37; by which texts the psalmist must be expounded, Psalms 15:5. It may possibly from the equity of that law oblige us to be more kind to those that are of the same nation and church with us, than unto others, especially such as are no Christians; and amongst those that are Christians, to those that are poor, than to those who have better estates. But, as I said in the beginning, I had rather interpret the precept of the text more largely, as a general precept of mercy, from the example of our heavenly Father.

Verse 37

See Poole on "Matthew 7:1", See Poole on "Matthew 6:14", where we have discoursed what private judgings are here forbidden, and what forgiving is here required.

Verse 38

To let us know how God favoureth acts of charity and justice we shall observe, that there are no good deeds that God so rewardeth by retaliation, as such which are the products of these habits; nor any sins which God so punishes by way of retaliation, as sins contrary to these, especially such as are more eminently contrary. This verse speaks of acts of charity.

Give, and it shall be given unto you, and that not bare measure, but

good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over. Nothing can more concur to make good measure, than the shaking of the bushel, the crowding and pressing down of the corn or meal with the hand, and the pouring in till the measure runneth over. So as that which is here promised, is a plentiful reward to charitable and merciful actions, either from the hand of God more mediately, God stirring up others to be as kind to us as we are to others; or more immediately, himself blessing us by his unexpected providential dispensations: to this purpose are abundance of scriptures, Deuteronomy 24:19; Psalms 41:1-3; Proverbs 11:25; Proverbs 28:27; 2 Corinthians 9:6. If men will not be so just as to requite the good which their brethren have done them, having it in their power, yet God will be faithful to his promises, and by his providence take care that those who have done acts of mercy, not in a mere commiseration to human condition, but in a just obedience to his will, shall not lose by what they have done; they shall be rewarded fully and plentifully, finding again (though it may be after many days) the bread which they have cast upon the waters, according to his command.

Verse 39

By a parable here is to be understood a proverbial saying, which hath some darkness in it, as being brought to express or signify more than the words naturally do express. Proverbial speeches are applicable to more things, and in more cases, than one. Nor is it to be expected, that in all that the evangelists give us an account of, as to the sayings of Christ, we should be able to find out an evident connexion. They, questionless, wrote much at least from their memories, and set down many sayings without respect to the time when our Saviour spake them, or the matter of his discourse immediately preceding them. We need not therefore be careful to make out the connexion of these words of his with what was before set down. In the parallel text, Matthew 15:14, our Saviour plainly applies these words with reference to the scribes and Pharisees, the Jewish leaders, their doctors and teachers at that time, who themselves being ignorant of the true sense of the Divine law, were not like very well to guide others, but with them to

fall into the ditch, that is, into ruin and destruction: from whence a very probable connexion of them here with what went before may be observed; for, as appears from Matthew 5:1-48, he had in the preceding verses given an interpretation of that law of God, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself, much different from what the Pharisees had given of it, who had expounded it, Matthew 5:43, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy; making a great many branches of love to men more than they made. Now, (saith he), this is the will, this is the law, of my heavenly Father. The scribes and Pharisees, your present doctors and teachers, go much below this; but listen not to them, if you mind to please God; themselves are blind, and know not the will of God, and if you follow them what can you expect more than such an event as where one blind man leads another?

Verse 40

This was another common saying, which our Saviour applies, Matthew 10:24; John 15:20, to comfort his disciples concerning their sufferings, because he was first in suffering: here he applies it to signify their duty in doing. Some apply this with reference to the Pharisees, and so make a connexion between this and the former verse, where he had said, If the blind lead the blind, they shall both fall into the ditch; for

the disciple is not above his master, none must look to learn of another more than the teacher knoweth himself. But it is better applied to Christ, and is as much as if our Lord had said, I am your Master, you are my disciples, and by that relation engaged to learn of me, and to follow me. I have taught you no more than I am ready to practise; I am merciful, I forgive, I give, looking for nothing again. I do not look that you should do any thing above me, any thing as to which I have not set you, or shall not set you, an example; but your perfection lieth in coming as near to me as you can, in being as your Master.

Verses 41-42

See Poole on "Matthew 7:3", and following verses to Matthew 7:5.

Verses 43-45

See Poole on "Matthew 7:16", and following verses to Matthew 7:20. Luke 6:43 and Luke 6:44 are expounded in Luke 6:45. Men and women here (as in other texts of Scripture) are compared to trees, with respect to their root and fruit, and the dependence the fruit hath upon the root and the nature of the tree. The heart of man is made the root, that being the principle of human actions, as the root is the principle to the fruit; for all the overt actions of a man’s life are but the imperate acts of the heart and of the will. Hence it is that a will renewed and sanctified in a man, and made conformable to the will of God, doth not only will and choose the will of God, love it, desire it, and delight in it; but commandeth the tongue to direct its discourses conformable to it, and also commandeth all the members of the body, in their motions and order, to act conformably: and on the contrary, the unrenewed and unsanctified will of man doth not only reject and refuse the will of God, but directeth the tongue to words contrary to the Divine will, and all the members of the body, in their motions and order, to act without any respect to or awe of the will of God.

Verses 46-49

See Poole on "Matthew 7:24" and following verses to Matthew 7:27, where we before met with the same thing. The sum is, men’s hopes of salvation built upon any other but Christ alone, or built upon Christ without a sincere study and endeavour to keep the commandments of Christ, are vain hopes; and though, till a storm of affliction or temptation comes, they may please themselves a little with them, yet when they come to die, or when any notable temptation assaults them, or any great affliction cometh upon them, then they will fail them, and they will see the folly and vanity of them. What is the hope of the hypocrite, when God taketh away his soul? Job 27:8.

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Bibliographical Information
Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Luke 6". Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. 1685.