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Bible Commentaries
Luke 6

Schaff's Popular Commentary on the New TestamentSchaff's NT Commentary

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Verse 1

Luke 6:1. On a sabbath. The common reading ‘second-first,’ has good support; but is omitted in the oldest and best manuscripts. It is probable that this unusual phrase arose from the putting together of two Greek words (second.. first), which had been written in the margin to distinguish this Sabbath respectively from that mentioned in Luke 4:31, and that in Luke 6:6. Many, however, think the singularity of the phrase led to the omission. If Luke did use it, the meaning must have been one known to Theophilus. Explanations of the common reading: ( 1 ) That it meant a feast day immediately following the Sabbath (but thus the controversy about Sabbath observance loses much of its point); ( 2 ) a Sabbath preceded by a feast day; ( 3 ) the first day of unleavened bread; the Sabbath following the second day of the Passover, from which the seven weeks to Pentecost were reckoned (the usual view); ( 4 ) the first Sabbath of the second month; ( 5 ) the first Sabbath of the second year in the circle of seven years. This would fix the date as the first Sabbath in the month Nisan, U.C. 782 . All these explanations assume that Theophilus was acquainted with a technical term in the Jewish Church year, which is not found anywhere else. ( 6 ) That Luke had already told of two Sabbaths (Luke 4:16; Luke 4:31), and as he now begins to tell of two more, he speaks of this as the first of the second pair, i.e. , ‘second-first.’ But what reader would have understood it so at first sight? The grain might be ripe in April, May, or June, so that we cannot thus determine the time of year. The common view makes this the first event after the second Passover, and seeks here a confirmation. But according to Andrews it was two months after that Passover, in the first year of the Galilean ministry.

Rubbing them with their hands. Peculiar to Luke. The form indicates that they rubbed and ate, as they went.

Verses 1-11

See on Matthew 12:1-14; Mark 2:23 to Mark 3:6. Luke’s account resembles more closely that of Mark, but the arguments in regard to Sabbath observance are found in both the other narratives. There are a few new details, one of which (the common reading Luke 6:1) has caused much difficulty.

Verse 2

Luke 6:2. ‘Unto them’ is to be omitted. Still the disciples are addressed, in Matthew and Mark, our Lord. They remonstrated with those who did the unlawful act, but would make our Lord responsible for it

Verse 3

Luke 6:3. Have ye not read even this? A strong expression (comp. Mark 12:10) implying their utter ignorance of what the Scriptures meant.

Verse 5

Luke 6:5. In one of the old manuscripts, this verse is placed after Luke 6:10, and instead of it here words to this effect: ‘Observing on the same day one laboring on the Sabbath, He said to him: if thou knowest what thou doest, thou art blessed; if thou knowest not, thou art cursed and a transgressor of the law.’ But it is improbable that any one would have been thus laboring, or that our Lord would thus create needless opposition and misunderstanding.

Verse 6

Luke 6:6. On another sabbath. Probably the next one. This seems more likely than that the next day was observed as a Sabbath.

Right hand. Specified by Luke only.

Luke 6:7-10 agree closely with Mark’s account. Matthew inserts in this connection a thought mentioned by Luke as uttered on a similar occasion (chap. Luke 14:1-5), but there is no reason for inferring a confusion in the statements.

Verse 11

Luke 6:11. Filled with madness. Literally, ‘unwisdom,’ foolishness. It is implied that their wicked folly became a senseless rage.

Verse 12

Luke 6:12. The mountain. Comp. Matthew 5:1. A strong hint of identity with that occasion.

Continued all night in prayer to God. Peculiar to Luke. Prayer before the great choice. Conflict too, since Judas was chosen.

Verses 12-19

The choice of the Twelve (Luke 6:12-16). Comp. Mark 3:13-19; Matthew gives the list of Apostles in the account of their being sent forth (Matthew 10:0; comp. Mark 6:7 ff.; Luke 9:1-6). Luke 6:17-19 describe the multitudes to whom a discourse (Luke 6:20-49) was delivered, which seems to be identical with the sermon on the mount, see the Chapter Comments on Matthew 5:0. Accepting, but without insisting upon, the identity of the discourses, we find Luke much fuller than Matthew in detailing the circumstances, but less full and exact in the report of the discourse.

Verse 13

Luke 6:13. His disciples. In the wider sense; from this larger company the Twelve were chosen.

Apostles. The name was probably given at this time. He intended to send them forth, although the actual sending forth did not take place until after some training. It was in keeping with such training that the name should be given first, to keep the future duty before them. See on Matthew 3:14.

Verses 14-16

Luke 6:14-16. THE LIST OF THE APOSTLES as here given presents no difficulties. The E. V. indicates an arrangement in pairs, but the word ‘and’ must be inserted before nearly all the names, and thus this arrangement loses its support. The twelve are grouped here, as in all the catalogues, with the names of Peter, Philip and James the son of Alpheus, as first, fifth and ninth , and that of Judas Iscariot last. Between these the same names (or names of the same persons) occur: the three fishermen after Peter (here in the order of Matthew); after Philip in the order of Mark; between James the son of Alpheus and Judas Iscariot, we have here Simon who was called the Zealot. ‘Cananaean’ (Matthew and Mark) probably means ‘Zealot.’

Judas the brother, or perhaps ‘son,’ of James. This must be ‘Lebbeus,’ or ‘Thaddeus’ (Matthew; where the reading is doubtful (‘Thaddeus,’ Mark), since that is the only person not already identified. He may have been a brother of the James just spoken of, or the son of some other James. We incline to the former view. Whether he was the author of the Epistle of Jude will be discussed there. See on Matthew 10:1-4, and against the view that James, Jude, and Simon were ‘brothers of our Lord,’ see on Matthew 13:55.

Verses 18-19

Luke 6:18-19. Comp. Mark 3:10-11, which suggests that this concourse and pressure of those who would be healed began before the choice of the Twelve and continued after they came down. As however the object of their coming was to hear as well as to be healed (Luke 6:17), our Lord teaches them also. The miracles were designed to be a preparation for the instruction.

Power came forth from him. Comp. chap. Luke 5:17; Luke 8:46; Mark 5:30.

Verse 20

Luke 6:20. And he lifted up his eyes . This look indicates the solemn opening of His discourse; comp. Matthew 5:2: ‘opened His mouth.’

His disciples, in the wider sense, though the Twelve were nearest and the people present. Alford: ‘The discourse was spoken to the disciples generally, to the Twelve particularly, to the people prospectively.’ Our Lord probably sat as He taught (comp. Matthew 5:1), as this was His custom and that of Jewish teachers in general. Nor is this forbidden by Luke 6:17, since an interval of healing had elapsed.

Blessed . Luke gives four beatitudes, answering to the first, fourth, second, and last mentioned by Matthew, and adds four corresponding woes,

Ye . This is properly supplied, since in the reasons for the blessedness the second person is used. In Matthew the direct address appears first in Luke 6:11, but is implied throughout.

Poor, i.e., ‘poor in spirit’ (Matthew). To refer this only to literal poverty, etc., and to limit the blessings to the temporal recompense in the Messiah’s kingdom, is forbidden by the context no less than by the account in Matthew. Neither the Evangelist nor our Lord could mean this. In chap. Luke 12:21; Luke 16:11, Luke shows his knowledge of the distinction between spiritual and earthly riches. An appeal on the part of our Lord to the prejudices of the poor and miserable, like a modern demagogue, is as contrary to His character as to the effect of His teaching.

The kingdom of God . Equivalent to ‘the kingdom, of heaven’ (Matthew). See on Matthew 5:3.

Verses 20-49

ON THE PLAN of the Sermon on the Mount, see the Chapter comments on Matthew 5:0. The subject both here and in Matthew is the state and duties of a citizen of the kingdom of heaven. Van Oosterzee gives the following general division of Luke’s report: 1 . The salutation of Love (Luke 6:17-26); 2 . The requirement of Love (Luke 6:27-38); 3 . The importunity of Love (Luke 6:39-49).

Verse 21

Luke 6:21. See on Matthew 5:6; Matthew 5:4.

Verse 22

Luke 6:22. Comp. Matthew 5:10-11. Luke, however, inserts the foundation of the persecution: when men shall hate you. This hatred is manifested in what follows: exclude you , etc. This refers to expulsion, or excommunication, from the Jewish synagogue. The separation of Christianity from Judaism is hinted at thus early, immediately after the choice of the Twelve. But all exclusion from intercourse may be included.

Revile . The same word as in Matthew. Active persecution is meant.

Cast out your name as evil . The final contemptuous and malicious rejection. There is probably no reference to their name as Christians.

For the Son of man’s sake. The blessing is promised only to those who endure hatred, rejection, persecution, for Christ’s sake.

Verse 23

Luke 6:23. In that day, i.e., the day when this happens to you; not in the great day of the future, as in Matthew 7:22.

Leap for joy . Peculiar to Luke.

Verse 24

Luke 6:24. Rich , i.e., fancying themselves possessed of what they crave and need. This class is made up largely of those actually wealthy.

Verses 24-26

Luke 6:24-26. Peculiar to Luke. The difficulty of inserting them in Matthew’s report of the sermon, is one great argument against the identity of the two discourses. Some think they were uttered on a different occasion and inserted here by Luke because of their appropriateness. They agree with the conclusion of the discourse, in both Gospels, which contains a blessing and a woe in the form of a parable (Luke 6:47-49). All the reports of our Lord’s discourses are sketches of what He said, and there is every reason to believe that the leading, or central, thoughts were repeated with various applications and inferences, so that two reports might be entirely correct, and yet introduce not only different matter, but different applications of the same general statements. The reports are too brief to be regarded as given word for word, and the method of instruction must have been, ‘line upon line,’ etc.

Verse 26

Luke 6:26. When all men shall speak well of you . This may be addressed, either to the rich, etc., or to the disciples. The former agrees best with what goes before, but the latter is favored by the reference to their fathers, which serves to distinguish those addressed from the Jews. The wider reference would include the other: for when all men speak well of a professed disciple, it is a proof that he is not a disciple. ‘Universal praise from the world is a stigma for the Saviour’s disciples, since it brings them into the suspicion: ( 1 ) of unfaithfulness, ( 2 ) of characterlessness, ( 3 ) of the lust of pleasing. False prophets can ever reckon upon loud applause.’ Van Oosterzee.

Verse 27

Luke 6:27. Unto you that hear , i.e., who now hear me. This verse corresponds with Matthew 5:44. (There is no parallel to Matthew 5:13-42, setting forth the contrast between the teaching followed by the Pharisees and the teaching of Christ.) Our Lord could utter woes against these enemies of His people, His people were not to hate them but to love them; so that the connection brings out the Gospel principle of hating sin but not the sinner.

Verses 29-30

Luke 6:29-30. See on Matthew 5:39-42. The order is varied, but the connection is the same.

Verse 31

Luke 6:31. See on Matthew 7:12. Some suppose the Golden Rule is inserted here out of its connection, but it includes in general form the precepts of Luke 6:29-30, as well as of Luke 6:27-28.

Verses 32-36

Luke 6:32-36. See on Matthew 5:45-48; where, however, the order is different.

In Luke 6:32-33, thank (lit. ‘grace’) corresponds with ‘reward’ in Matthew.

Never despairing (Luke 6:35). Peculiar to Luke, and a peculiar expression. The common interpretation, however appropriate, does not convey the usual sense of the original, which means: ‘despairing in regard to nothing,’ i.e. regarding nothing that you thus do as lost, for the reason that ‘your reward shall be great, etc. A slight change of reading, supported by some authorities, gives the sense: ‘despairing of no one.’

Sons of the most High, i.e., of God, here and now, as evidenced by family resemblance.

Merciful (Luke 6:36). In substance the same thought as Matthew 5:48. The likeness to Divine perfections can exist only in moral qualities; highest among these is mercy.

Verses 37-38

Luke 6:37-38. See on Matthew 7:1-2. The idea is more fully expressed here.

Pressed down, shaken together, running over, as when one is measuring grain or some dry thing. There is no allusion to liquids in the last phrase. The whole is a climax.

Shall they give. Not ‘men,’ nor ‘angels,’ as some suppose, but ‘they’ indefinitely. The main matter is the return itself, not the persons who shall make it; God can choose whatever agents He pleases for that.

Verse 39

Luke 6:39. And he spake also a parable to them. This indicates plainly that the connection with what precedes is broken off. Luke 6:39-40 are not found in Matthew’s report of the sermon on the mount, but in Matthew 15:14; Matthew 10:24. The close connection with what follows forbids the view that they are inserted here out of theft place. It is by no means unlikely that they were uttered on this occasion and repeated at the times indicated by Matthew.

Can the blind, etc. See Matthew 15:14. Probably a familiar saying of our Lord.

Verse 40

Luke 6:40. The disciple is not above his master, or teacher, etc. See on Matthew 10:24. The connection here is very different. There the principle is assigned as a reason for the disciples’ expecting persecution; here it admonishes to be like the Master in humility and charitableness.

When he is perfected, or ‘fully instructed,’ knowing and consequently endeavoring to do his duty. Others explain thus: ‘Only if a disciple surpassed his master could he hope to be preserved from the ditch into which he sees his blind leader fall. Since, however, the disciple does not commonly surpass the master, he has also the same danger to fear. As a rule every one is constituted like his master.’ (Van Oosterzee.) In either case the connection with the next verse implies a caution to them, as teachers, against uncharitableness.

Verse 42

Luke 6:42. See on Matthew 7:3-5.

Luke 6:43-44. See on Matthew 7:16-18. The connection is with what precedes: ‘If thou dost not see the beam in thine own eye, thou wilt be like the corrupt tree, which cannot possibly bring forth good fruit.’

Verse 45

Luke 6:45. See on Matthew 12:35. It is highly improbable that the verse was inserted from that occasion. Constant repetition of fundamental thoughts characterized our Lord’s instruction.

Verses 46-49

Luke 6:46-49. This close is the same as in Matthew. Luke 6:45 here answers to Matthew 7:21-23, omitting the allusion to the last day, and taking the form of a direct exhortation.

Digged and went deep (Luke 6:48), i.e. digged again and again, until he reached the proper foundation.

Because it had been well builded. This reading, now generally accepted by scholars, complements the expression of Matthew: ‘founded upon the rock.’ Yet even here the main reference is to the foundation. Luke 6:49 here is even more graphic than the parallel passage.

On the earth without a foundation, is = ‘on the sand.’ Off the true Rock there is no foundation, all is sand.

Straightway belongs to all that follows.

It fell in, in a heap.

The ruin, breach, the result of ‘the fall’ (Matthew). See on Matthew 7:24-27.

Verse 47

Luke 6:47. This verse is to be closely connected with Luke 6:16, which should end with a semicolon; this close connection seems to preclude the previous delivery of a discourse on the top of the mountain.

On a level place. This refers more naturally to a plain below the mountain, but it can mean a level place on the mountain side. This sense is adopted by those who uphold the identity of the two discourses, and is favored by the appearance of the locality where the discourse was most probably delivered: the Horns of Hattin (see the Chapter comments on Matthew 5:0). The Apostles are here represented as immediately about Him, then a great multitude of his disciples (in the wider sense), then, a great number of the people, etc. This agrees with the probable position and composition of the audience as implied in Matthew 5:1, while the specification of the places from which they came agrees with Mark’s account (Luke 3:7-8) of the multitude attending Him about this time.

Bibliographical Information
Schaff, Philip. "Commentary on Luke 6". "Schaff's Popular Commentary on the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/scn/luke-6.html. 1879-90.
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