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Bible Commentaries

The Fourfold Gospel

Luke 6

Verses 1-5


XXXVIII.
JESUS DEFENDS DISCIPLES WHO PLUCK GRAIN
ON THE SABBATH.
(Probably while on the way from Jerusalem to Galilee.)
aMATT. XII. 1-8; bMARK II. 23-28; cLUKE VI. 1-5.

b23 And c1 Now it came to pass a1 At that season bthat he aJesus went {bwas going} on the {ca} bsabbath day through the grainfields; aand his disciples were hungry and began bas they went, to pluck the ears. aand to eat, cand his disciples plucked the ears, and did eat, rubbing them in their hands. [This lesson fits in chronological order with the last, if the Bethesda events took place at Passover. The paschal lamb was eaten on the fourteenth Nisan, or about the first of April. Clark fixes the exact date as the 29th of March, in A. D. 28, which is the beginning of the harvest season. Barley ripens in the Jordan valley about the 1st of April, but on the uplands it is reaped as late as May. Wheat ripens from one to three weeks later than barley, and upland wheat (and Palestine has many [209] mountain plateaus) is often harvested in June. If Scaliger is right, as most critics think he is, in fixing this sabbath as the first after the Passover, it is probable that it was barley which the disciples ate. Barley bread was and is a common food, and it is common to chew the grains of both it and wheat.] c2 But {b24 And} ccertain of the Pharisees awhen they saw it, said unto him, Behold, thy disciples do that which is not lawful to do upon the sabbath. bwhy do they on the sabbath day that which is not lawful? cWhy do ye that which it is not lawful to do on the sabbath day? [The Pharisees did not object to the act of taking the grain. Such plucking of the grain was allowed by the law ( Deuteronomy 23:25) and is still practiced by hungry travelers in Palestine, which is, and has always been, an unfenced land, the roads, or rather narrow paths, of which lead through the grainfields, so that the grain is in easy reach of the passer-by. The Pharisees objected to the plucking of grain because they considered it a kind of reaping, and therefore working on the sabbath day. The scene shows the sinlessness of Jesus in strong light. Every slightest act of his was submitted to a microscopic scrutiny.] a3 But {b25 And} cJesus answering them asaid unto them, Have ye not read {bDid ye never read} ceven this [There is a touch of irony here. The Pharisees prided themselves upon their knowledge of Scriptures, but they had not read (so as to understand them) even its most common incidents], what David did, bwhen he had need, and was hungry, he, and they that were with him? 26 How he entered into the house of God when Abiathar was high priest, cand took and ate the showbread, and gave also to them that were with him; which it is not lawful to eat {awhich it was not lawful for him to eat,} neither for them that were with him, but only {csave} for the priests alone? [Jesus here refers to the incident recorded at 1 Samuel 21:1-6. Ahimelech and Abiathar have been confused by transcribers. It should read Ahimelech. However, we are not referred to the actions of Abiathar, but to those of [210] David. He went with his followers to the tabernacle at Nob near Jerusalem, and being hungry, asked bread of the priests. There was no bread at hand save the showbread. This bread was called showbread because it was "set out" or "exhibited" before Jehovah. It consisted of twelve loaves, which were baked upon the sabbath, and were placed, hot, in two rows upon the showbread table every sabbath day. The twelve old loaves which were then removed were to be eaten by the priests and no one else ( Leviticus 24:5-9). It was these twelve old loaves which were given to David ( 1 Samuel 21:6). Since the showbread was baked on the sabbath, the law itself ordered work on that day. The vast majority of commentators look upon this passage as teaching that necessity abrogates what they are pleased to call the ceremonial laws of God. Disregarding the so-called ceremonial laws of God is a very dangerous business, as is witnessed by the case of Uzzah ( 2 Samuel 6:6, 2 Samuel 6:7), and Uzziah ( 2 Chronicles 26:16-23). Christ never did it, and strenuously warned those who followed the example of the scribes and Pharisees in teaching such a doctrine ( Matthew 5:17-20). The law of necessity was not urged by him as a justifiable excuse for making bread during the forty days’ fast of the temptation. Life is not higher than law. "All that a man hath will he give for his life," is Satan’s doctrine, not Christ’s ( Job 2:4). The real meaning, as we understand it, will be developed below in our treatment of Numbers 28:9), and two lambs were killed on the sabbath in addition to the daily [211] sacrifice. This involved the killing, skinning, and cleaning of the animals, and the building of the fire to consume the sacrifice. They also trimmed the gold lamps, burned incense, and performed various other duties. The profanation of the Sabbath, however, was not real, but merely apparent. Jesus cites this priestly work to prove that the Sabbath prohibition was not universal, and hence might not include what the disciples had done. The fourth commandment did not forbid work absolutely, but labor for worldly gain. Activity in the work of God was both allowed and commanded.] 6 But I say [asserting his own authority] unto you, that one greater than the temple is here. [The word "greater" is in the neuter gender, and the literal meaning is therefore "a greater thing than the temple." The contrast may be between the service of the temple and the service of Christ, or it may be a contrast between the divinity, sacredness, or divine atmosphere which hallowed the temple, and the divinity or Godhead of Christ. But, however we take it, the meaning is ultimately a contrast between Christ and the temple, similar to the contrast between himself and Solomon, etc. ( Matthew 12:41, Matthew 12:42). It was a startling saying as it fell on Jewish ears, for to them the temple at Jerusalem was the place honored by the very Shekinah of the unseen God, and the only place of effective worship and atonement. If the temple service justified the priests in working upon the Sabbath day, much more did the service of Jesus, who was not only the God of the temple, but was himself the true temple, of which the other was merely the symbol, justify these disciples in doing that which was not legally, but merely traditionally, unlawful. Jesus here indirectly anticipates the priesthood of his disciples-- 1 Peter 2:5.] 7 But if ye had known what this meaneth, I desire mercy, and not sacrifice, ye would not have condemned the guiltless. [This passage is quoted from Hosea 6:6, and is reiterated at Matthew 9:13. It is an assertion of the superiority of inward life over outward form, for the form is nothing if the heart is wrong. The saying is first suggested by David himself ( Psalms 51:16, Psalms 51:17), [212] after which it is stated by Hosea and amplified by Paul ( 1 Corinthians 13:3). The quotation has a double reference both to David and the disciples as above indicated. Having given the incident in the life of David, Jesus passes on from it without comment, that he may lay down by another example the principle which justified it. This principle we have just treated, and we may state it thus: A higher law, where it conflicts with a lower one, suspends or limits the lower one at the point of conflict. Thus the higher laws of worship in the temple suspended the lower law of sabbath observance, and thus also the higher law of mercy suspended the lower law as to the showbread when David took it and mercifully gave it to his hungry followers, and when God in mercy permitted this to be done. And thus, had they done what was otherwise unlawful, the disciples would have been justified in eating by the higher law of Christ’s service. And thus also would Christ have been justified in permitting them to eat by the law of mercy, which was superior to that which rendered the seventh day to God as a sacrifice.] 8 For the Son of man is Lord of the sabbath. b27 And he said unto them, The sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath: 28 so that the Son of man is Lord even of the sabbath. [The expression "Son of man" is used eighty-eight times in the New Testament, and always means the Messiah, and not man generally. The Sabbath was made for man’s convenience and blessing, and so Jesus, who was complete and perfect manhood, was Lord of it. But men who were incomplete and imperfect in their manhood, can not trust their fallible judgment to tamper with it. Though the day was made for man, this fact would not entitle man to use it contrary to the laws under which it was granted. As Lord of the day Jesus had a right to interpret it and to apply it, and to substitute the Lord’s day for it. In asserting his Lordship over it, Jesus takes the question outside the range of argument and brings it within the range of authority.] [213]

[FFG 209-213]


Verses 6-11


XXXIX.
JESUS DEFENDS HEALING A WITHERED HAND
ON THE SABBATH.
(Probably Galilee.)
aMATT. XII. 9-14; bMARK III. 1-6; cLUKE VI. 6-11.

a9 And he departed thence. [The word here points to a journey as in Matthew 11:1, Matthew 15:29, which are the only places where Matthew uses this expression. Greswell may be right in thinking that it indicates the return back to Galilee from the Passover, since a cognate expression used by John expresses such a journey from Galilee to Judæa. See John 7:3], c6 And it came to pass on another sabbath [another sabbath than that on which the disciples plucked the grain], that he entered bagain aand went into their {cthe} synagogue and taught [The use of the pronoun "their" indicates that the synagogue in question was under the control of the same Pharisee who had caviled about plucking grain on the Sabbath. Where the synagogue was is not known. Some argue that from the presence of Herodians it was at Sepphoris, which was then capital of Herod Antipas. But Herodians were likely to be found everywhere.]: a10 and behold, bthere was a man who had {a having} a {bhis} hand withered. cand his right hand was withered. [The hand had dried up from insufficient absorption of nutriment, until its power was gone, and there was no remedy known by which it could be restored.] b2 And they cthe scribes and the Pharisees watched him, bwhether he would heal him on the sabbath day; cthat they might find how to accuse him. [They sought to accuse him before the local judges or officers of the synagogue; i. e., before a body of which they themselves were members. Jesus gave them abundant opportunity for such accusation, for we have seven recorded [214] instances of cures on the sabbath day; viz.: Mark 1:21, Mark 1:29, John 5:9, John 9:14, Luke 13:14, Luke 14:2, and this case.] aAnd they asked him, saying, Is it lawful to heal on the sabbath day? [They were afraid that Jesus might not notice the man, so they spoke about him. But, taught by their experience in the grainfield, they changed their bold assertion, "It is not lawful," and approached the subject with a guarded question, hoping to get an answer that could be used as a ground for accusation.] c8 But he knew their thoughts [omnisciently]; and he said to {bsaith unto} the man that had his hand withered, cRise up, and stand forth in the midst. And he arose and stood forth. [Jesus thus placed the man openly before all the people, as though he stood on trial as to his right to be healed on the sabbath day.] a11 And he said unto them, What man shall there be of you, that shall have one sheep, and if it fall into a pit on the sabbath day, will he not lay hold on it, and lift it out? 12 How much then is a man of more value than a sheep! [A man who had but one sheep would set a high value upon it. But the most valuable sheep is not to be weighed in the balance against a man. The fact that Jesus used this illustration shows clearly that such an action was allowed at that time, though the rabbins forbade it afterward.] Wherefore it is lawful to do good on the sabbath day. c9 And Jesus aid {bsaith} unto them, cI ask you, Is it lawful on the sabbath bday to do good, or to do harm? to save life, or to kill? {cdestroy it?} [The rules of the Pharisees made the Sabbath question wholly a matter of doing or of not doing. But Jesus made it a question of doing good, and his question implies that a failure to do good, when one is able, is harmful and sinful. "The ability," says Cotton Mather, "to do good imposes an obligation to do it." To refrain from healing in such an instance would have been to abstain from using a power given him for that very purpose. The Jews held it lawful to defend themselves on the Sabbath, and considered themselves justified in killing their enemies if they [215] attacked on that day (I Macc. ii. 41; Josephus Ant. XII. vi. 2]. bBut they held their peace. [afraid to say that Jesus was wrong and stubbornly unwilling to admit that he was right.] 5 And when he had looked round about on them call, bwith anger, being grieved at the hardening of their heart [The anger of Jesus was not a spiteful, revengeful passion, but a just indignation ( Ephesians 4:26). God may love the sinner, but he is angry at sin. Anger is not sin, but it is apt to run into it: hence it is a dangerous passion. Righteous anger rises from the love of God and man, but that which rises from self-love is sinful], he saith {csaid} a13 Then cunto him, bthe man, Stretch forth thy hand. cAnd he did so: ahe stretched it forth; and it bhis hand was restored. awhole, as the other. [As Jesus here healed without any word or action of healing, merely ordering the man to stretch forth his hand, the Pharisees could find no legal ground for accusation. God can not be tried by man, because his ways are hidden from the senses of man save as he chooses to reveal them.] c11 But they were filled with madness; and communed one with another what they might do to Jesus. b6 And the Pharisees went out, and straightway with the Herodians took counsel against him, how they might destroy him. [Here the three Synoptists first tell of the counsel to put Jesus to death, and we should note that, like John, they described the anger of the Jewish rulers as arising because of this Sabbath question. Their real motive was envious hatred, but their pretext was a zeal for the law. That it was not genuine zeal for the law is shown by the fact that they consulted with the Herodians or the adherents of Herod Antipas, as they also did afterwards ( Matthew 22:16, Mark 12:13). They needed the secular power of the Herodians to secure the death of Jesus. Its efficiency for such ends had just been shown in the imprisonment of John the Baptist. But the Herodians were no friends of the Jewish law; in fact, they were real perverters of that law which Jesus merely correctly interpreted. This party and its predecessors had [216] flatteringly tried to make a Messiah of Herod the Great, and had been friends of Rome and patrons of Gentile influence. They favored the erection of temples for idolatrous ends, and pagan theaters and games, and Gentile customs generally. Unlike Jesus, the Pharisees grew angry and sinned, for it was against their conscience to consort with the Herodians.]

[FFG 214-217]

Verses 12-16


XLI.
AFTER PRAYER JESUS SELECTS TWELVE APOSTLES.
(Near Capernaum.)
aMATT. X. 2-4; bMARK III. 13-19; cLUKE VI. 12-16.

c12 And it came to pass in these days, that he went out into the mountain b13 And he goeth up into the mountain, cto pray; and he continued all night in prayer to God. [It was a momentous occasion. He was about to choose those to whom he was to entrust the planting, organizing, and training of that church which was to be the purchase of his own blood. Jesus used such important crises, not as occasions for anxiety and worry, but as fitting times to seek and obtain the Father’s grace and blessing.] 13 And when it was day, he called his disciples: band calleth unto him whom he himself would; and they went unto him. cand he chose from them twelve [We can not think that the number twelve was adopted carelessly. It unquestionably had reference to the twelve tribes of Israel, over whom the apostles were to be tribal judges or viceroys ( Luke 22:30), and we find the tribes and apostles associated together in the structure of the New Jerusalem ( Revelation 21:12-14). Moreover, Paul seems to regard the twelve as ministers to the twelve tribes, or to the circumcision, rather than as ministers to the Gentiles or the world in general ( Galatians 2:7-9). See also James 1:1, 1 Peter 1:1. The tribal reference was doubtless preserved to indicate that the church would be God’s new Israel], b14 And he appointed twelve, that they might be with him, and that he might send them forth to preach, 15 and to have authority to cast out demons: cwhom also he named apostles [The word apostle means "one sent." Its meaning was kindred to the word ambassador [220] ( 2 Corinthians 5:20), the messenger whom a king sent to foreign powers, and also to our modern word missionary, which also means "one sent." Christ himself was an apostle ( Hebrews 3:1), and so sent them ( John 20:21). The word apostle is translated "messenger" at 2 Corinthians 8:23, Philippians 2:25. The apostles were to be with Jesus, that they might be taught by his words, and that they might become teachers of that word and witnesses as to the life and actions of Jesus. A necessary condition, therefore, to their apostleship was this seeing of Jesus and the consequent ability to testify as to his actions, especially as to his resurrection ( Acts 1:8, Acts 1:21, 1 Corinthians 9:1, Acts 22:14, Acts 22:15). They could therefore have no successors. All the apostles were from Galilee save Judas Iscariot]: a2 Now the names of the twelve apostles are these John 1:41, John 1:42. Peter, by reason of his early prominence, is named first in the four lists. His natural gifts gave him a personal but not an ecclesiastical pre-eminence over his fellows. As a reward for his being first to confess Christ, he was honored by being permitted to first use the keys of the kingdom of heaven; i. e., to preach the first gospel sermon both to the Jews and Gentiles. But after these two sermons the right of preaching to the Jews and Gentiles became common to all alike. That Peter had supremacy or authority over his brethren is nowhere stated by Christ, or claimed by Peter, or owned by the rest of the twelve. On [221] the contrary, the statement of Jesus places the apostles upon a level ( Matthew 23:8-11). See also Matthew 18:18, Matthew 19:27, Matthew 19:28, Matthew 20:25-27, John 20:21, Acts 1:8. And Peter himself claims no more than an equal position with other officers in the church ( 1 Peter 5:1, 1 Peter 5:4), and the apostles in the subsequent history of the church acted with perfect independence. Paul withstood Peter to his face and (if we may judge by the order of naming which is made so much of in the apostolic lists), he ranks Peter as second in importance to James, the Lord’s brother ( Galatians 2:11-14, Galatians 2:9). See also Acts 12:17, Acts 21:18. Again, James, in summing up the decree which was to be sent to the church at Antioch, gave no precedence to Peter, who was then present, but said, "Brethren, hearken unto me . . . my judgment is"--words which would be invaluable to those who advocate the supremacy of Peter, if only it had been Peter who spoke them. So much for the supremacy of Peter, which, even if it could be established, would still leave the papacy without a good title to its honors, for it would still have to prove that it was heir to the rights and honors of Peter, which is something it has never yet done. The papal claim rests not upon facts, but upon a threefold assumption: 1. That Peter had supreme authority. 2. That he was the first bishop of Rome. 3. That the peculiar powers and privileges of Peter (if he had any) passed at the time of his death from his own person, to which they belonged, to the chair or office which he vacated]; aand Andrew his brother; James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother; {bthe brother of James;} and them he surnamed Boanerges, which is, Sons of thunder [This selection of brothers suggests that the bonds of nature may strengthen those of grace. Why James and John were called sons of thunder is not stated, but it was probably because of their stormy and destructive temper ( Luke 9:51-56, Mark 9:38). The vigor of the two brothers is apparent, for it marked James as a fit object for Herod’s spleen ( Acts 12:2), and it sustained John to extreme old age, for Epiphanius says [223] that he died at Ephesus at the age of ninety-four, but Jerome places his age at a hundred. No change is noted in the nature of James during the brief time which he survived his Lord. But the gracious and loving character of the aged John showed the transforming power of the Holy Spirit. But even to the last this son of thunder muttered in portentous strains against Diotrephes ( 3 John 1:9, 3 John 1:10), and his denunciations of sins and sinners is very forceful, including such epithets as "liar," "antichrist," "deceiver," "children of the devil" ( 1 John 1:6, 1 John 2:4, 1 John 2:22, 1 John 3:15, 1 John 1:3-11). It is also worthy of note that except in this verse in Mark, which applies the name "Son of thunder" to John, neither the word "thunder," nor any of its derivatives is found anywhere in the New Testament save in the writings of John, by whom it and its derivatives are used eleven times, a fact which causes Bengel to remark, "A son of thunder is a fit person for hearing voices of thunder."] a3 Philip, and Bartholomew [as noted on Mark 15:40); probably because he was younger than the son of Zebedee. He must not be confounded with James the Lord’s brother, who, though called an apostle by Paul, was not one of the twelve apostles (nor was Barnabas-- Acts 14:14). James the Lord’s brother is mentioned at Matthew 13:55, 1 Corinthians 15:5-7, Galatians 1:19, Galatians 2:9, Galatians 2:12, Acts 15:6-9, Acts 21:18. He wrote the epistle which bears his name, and his brother Jude (who also must not be confounded with Judas Thaddæus, the apostle) wrote the epistle which bears his name. We do not know the James who was the father of Judas, and of Judas himself we know very little. He seems to have been known at first by his name Thaddæus, possibly to distinguish him from Iscariot, but later (for Luke and John wrote later than Matthew and Mark) by the name Judas-- John 14:22.] a4 Simon the Cananaean, cwho was called the Zealot [Cananæan means the same as zealot. It comes from the Hebrew word kana, which means zealous. The Zealots were a sect or order of men much like our modern "Regulators," or "Black Caps." They were zealous for the Jewish law, and citing Phinehas ( Numbers 25:7, Numbers 25:8) and Elijah ( 1 Kings 18:40) as their examples, they took justice in their own hands and punished offenders much after the manner lynchers. It is thought that they derived their name from the dying charge of the Asmonæan Mattathias when he said, "Be ye zealous for the law, and give your lives for the covenant of your fathers" (I. Macc. ii. 50). Whatever they were at first, it is certain that their later course was marked by frightful excesses, and they are charged with having been the human instrument which brought about the destruction of Jerusalem. See Josephus, Wars, IV., iii. 9, v. 1-4; vi. 3; VII., viii. 1. Simon is the least known of all the apostles, being nowhere individually mentioned outside the catalogues], aand Judas Iscariot, cwho became a traitor; awho also betrayed him. [Judas is named last in all the three lists, and the same note of infamy attaches to him in each case. He is omitted from the list in Acts, for he was then dead. As he was treasurer of the apostolic group, he was probably chosen for office because of his executive ability. He was called Iscariot from his native city Kerioth, which pertained to Judah-- Joshua 15:25.]

{*} NOTE.--To avoid making the text too complex and confusing, we have followed the order in which Matthew gives the names of the twelve. The names of the apostles are recorded four times in the following different arrangements and orders. Some think that Matthew divides them into groups of two, so that he may show us who went together when Jesus sent them out in pairs ( Mark 6:7). But it is idle to speculate as to the differences in arrangement. We note, however, that the twelve are divided into three quaternions, or groups of four, and that each has a fixed leader. TABLE OF THE TWELVE APOSTLES.



{*} NOTE.--To aid the reader, we submit the following table of the women who watched the crucifixion of Jesus, for it is from their names and descriptions that we get our Scriptural light by which we distinguish the kindred of our Lord.

Matthew and Mark each name three women, whence it is thought that Salome was the name of the mother of James and John. But the solution of the problem depends on our rendering of John 19:25, which is translated thus: "But there were standing by the cross of Jesus, his mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene." Now, was Mary, the wife of Clopas, named and also additionally described as sister to our Lord’s mother, or was it the unnamed Salome who was her sister? Does John mention three or four women? The best modern scholarship says that there were four women, and that therefore James and John, the sons of Zebedee, were cousins of our Lord. In support of this it is argued: 1. That it is unlikely that two sisters would bear the same name, a fact which, as Meyer says, is "established by no instance." 2. John gives two pairs of women, each pair coupled by an "and." The first pair is kindred to Jesus, and is unnamed and is paralleled by the other pair, which is not kindred and of which the names are given. Hebrew writers often used such parallelism. 3. It accords with John’s custom to withhold the names of himself and all kindred, so that in his Gospel he nowhere gives his own, his mother’s, or his brother’s name, nor does he even give the name of our Lord’s mother, who was his aunt. 4. The relationship explains in part why Jesus, when dying, left the care of his mother to John. It was not an unnatural thing to impose such a burden upon a kinsman.

[FFG 220-226]

Verses 17-20


XLII.
THE SERMON ON THE MOUNT.
(Concerning the Privileges and Requirements of the Messianic Reign.
A Mountain Plateau not far from Capernaum.)
Subdivision A.
INTRODUCTORY STATEMENTS.
aMATT. V. 1, 2; cLUKE VI. 17-20.

c17 and he came down with them [the twelve apostles whom he had just chosen], and stood on a level place [Harmonists who wish to make this sermon in Luke identical with the sermon on the mount recorded by Matthew, say that Jesus stood during the healing of the multitude, and that he afterwards went a little way up the mountain-side and sat down when he taught ( Matthew 5:1). The "level place" is meant by our translators to indicate a plateau on the side of the mountain, and not the plain at its base. In this translation they were influenced somewhat by a desire to make the two sermons one. It is more likely that the sermons were not identical, yet they were probably delivered about the same time, for in each Evangelist the sermon is followed by an account of the healing of the centurion’s servant. As it is a matter of no great importance whether there was one sermon or two, and as they contain many things in common, we have taken the liberty of combining them to save time and space. The sermon is an announcement of certain distinctive features of the kingdom of heaven, which was said to be at hand], and a great multitude of his disciples, and a great number of people from all Judæa and Jerusalem, and from the sea coast of Tyre and Sidon, who came to hear him, and to be healed of their diseases; 18 and they that were troubled with unclean spirits were [227] healed. 19 And all the multitude sought to touch him; for power came forth from him, and healed them all. [By comparing this with the foregoing section, we shall find that Mark had described this same crowd; the only difference between him and Luke being that he tells about it the day before Jesus chose the twelve apostles, while Luke describes its presence on the day after the event. Thus one substantiates the other.] a1 And seeing the multitudes, he went up into the mountain: and when he had sat down, his disciples came unto him [In sitting he followed the custom of Jewish teachers. The instruction of Jesus was at no time embellished with oratorical action. He relied upon the truth contained in his words, not upon the manner in which he uttered it.]: c20 And he lifted up his eyes on his disciples [Luke notes the eloquent look of Jesus here and elsewhere ( Luke 22:61). While spoken to all, the sermon was addressed to the disciples, revealing to them the nature of the kingdom, and contrasting with it: 1. Popular expectation; 2. The Mosaic system; 3. Pharisaic hypocrisy], a2 and he opened his mouth, and taught them, cand said, {asaying,} [Jesus spoke with the full-toned voice of power--with open mouth.]

[FFG 227-228]

Verses 20-26


XLII.
THE SERMON ON THE MOUNT.
(A Mountain Plateau not far from Capernaum.)
Subdivision B.
BEATITUDES: PROMISES TO MESSIAH’S SUBJECTS.
aMATT. V. 3-12; cLUKE VI. 20-26.

a3 Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. [The sayings in this subdivision are called beatitudes from the word "beati (meaning blessed), with which they begin in the Vulgate, or Latin Bible. According to Matthew, these beatitudes are nine in number and seven in character, for the last two, which concern persecution, do not relate to traits of character, but to certain external circumstances which lead to blessings. Luke gives us [228] beatitudes not recorded in Matthew. Most of the beatitudes are paradoxical, being the very reverse of the world’s view, but Christians who have put them to the test have learned to realize their unquestionable truth. The poor in spirit are those who feel a deep sense of spiritual destitution and comprehend their nothingness before God. The kingdom of heaven is theirs, because they seek it, and therefore find and abide in it. To this virtue is opposed the pride of the Pharisee, which caused him to thank God that he was not as other men, and to despise and reject the kingdom of heaven. There must be emptiness before there can be fullness, and so poverty of spirit precedes riches and grace in the kingdom of God.] 4 Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted. [ Isaiah 42:2, Isaiah 42:3, Luke 2:25, Romans 8:18, John 16:20, John 16:21. The blessing is not upon all that mourn ( 2 Corinthians 7:10); but upon those who mourn in reference to sin. They shall be comforted by the discovery and appropriation of God’s pardon. But all mourning is traced directly or indirectly to sin. We may take it, therefore, that in its widest sense the beatitude covers all those who are led by mourning to a discerning of sin, and who so deplore its effects and consequences in the world as to yearn for and seek the deliverance which is in Christ. Those to whom Christ spoke the beatitude bore a double sorrow. Not only did their own sins afflict their consciences, but the hatred and opposition of other sinners added many additional sighs and tears. Joy springs from such sorrow so naturally that it is likened to harvest gathered from the seed ( Psalms 126:6). But sorrows, even apart from a sense of sin, often prove blessings to us by drawing us near unto God.] 5 Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth. [His hearers were full of hopes that, as Messiah, he would glut their martial spirit, and lead them to world-wide conquest. But the earth was not to be subjugated to him by force. Those who were meek and forbearing should receive what the arrogant and selfish grasp after and can not get. "Man the animal has hitherto possessed the globe. Man the divine is yet to take it. The [229] struggle is going on. But in every cycle more and more does the world feel the superior authority of truth, purity, justice, kindness, love, and faith. They shall yet possess the earth" (Beecher). The meek shall inherit it in two ways: 1. They shall enjoy it more fully while in it. 2. They shall finally, as part of the triumphant church, possess and enjoy it. Doubtless there is also here a reference to complete possession to be fulfilled in the new earth-- Daniel 7:27, Revelation 3:21, Revelation 5:10.] 6 Blessed are they who hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled. [Our Lord here declares that those who feel a most intense desire for righteousness shall obtain it. Under no other religion had such a promise ever been given. Under Christianity the promise is clear and definite. Compare Romans 8:3, Romans 8:4, Hebrews 7:11, Hebrews 7:19, Hebrews 7:25. This promise is realized in part by the attainment of a higher degree of righteous living, and in part by the perfect forgiveness of our sins. But the joy of this individual righteousness, blessed as it is, shall be surpassed by that of the universal righteousness of the new creation-- 2 Peter 3:13.] 7 Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy. [As meekness is rather a passive virtue, so mercy is an active one. The meek bear, and the merciful forbear, and for so doing they shall obtain mercy both from God and man. This beatitude, like the rest, has a subordinate, temporal application; for God rules the world in spite of its sin. This beatitude has primary reference to the forgiveness of offences. The forgiving are forgiven-- Matthew 6:14, Matthew 6:15.] 8 Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God. [The pure in heart are those who are free from evil desires and purposes. They have that similarity of life to the divine life which excludes all uncleanness, and which enables them to comprehend, after a sympathetic fashion, the motives and actions of God. Such see God by faith now, that is, by the spiritual vision of a regenerate heart ( Ephesians 1:17, Ephesians 1:18), and shall see him face to face hereafter ( 1 Corinthians 13:12, 1 John 3:2, 1 John 3:3). The Jews to whom Christ spoke, having their hearts defiled with carnal hopes and self-righteous pride, failed to see God, [230] as he was then revealing himself in the person of his Son, thus forming a sad contrast to the gracious promise of the beatitude. "They only can understand God who have in themselves some moral resemblance to him; and they will enter most largely into the knowledge of him who are most in sympathy with the divine life"--Beecher.] 9 Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called sons of God. [The term includes all who make peace between men, whether as individuals or as communities. It includes even those who worthily endeavor to make peace, though they fail of success. They shall be called God’s children, because he is the God of peace ( Romans 15:33, Romans 16:20, 2 Corinthians 13:11); whose supreme purpose is to secure peace ( Luke 2:14); and who gave his Son to be born into this world as the Prince of Peace ( Isaiah 9:6). Here again Jesus varies from human ideas. In worldly kingdoms the makers of war stand highest, but in his kingdom peacemakers outrank them, for the King himself is a great Peacemaker-- Colossians 1:20, Ephesians 2:14.] 10 Blessed are they that have been persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. [Those who suffer because of their loyalty to the kingdom of heaven are blessed by being bound more closely to that kingdom for which they suffer.] cBlessed are 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. [These three beatitudes given by Luke, like the two closing beatitudes of Matthew are pronounced not upon character, but upon those in certain trying conditions. They are addressed to the disciples ( Luke 6:17), and are meant to strengthen and encourage them to continue in the life of sacrifice when discipleship demanded. For light upon the meaning of these beatitudes, see such passages as these: Matthew 10:37-39, Matthew 16:24-26, Mark 10:28-30, Matthew 10:22-25. The service to which Jesus called meant poverty, hunger, and tears, but it led to rich reward-- 1 Corinthians 11:23-33, 1 Corinthians 12:1-5.] 22 Blessed are ye, when men shall hate you, and when [231] they shall separate you from their company, and reproach you, and cast out your name as evil, aand persecute you, and say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my cthe Son of man’s sake. [The Master here presents the various forms of suffering which would come upon the disciples by reason of their loyalty to him. We shall find several like statements as we proceed with the gospel story. They would first be conscious of the coldness of their brethren before the secret hate became outspoken and active. Later they should find themselves excommunicated from the synagogue ( John 16:2). This act in turn would be followed by bitter reproaches and blasphemy of the sacred name by which they were called--the name Christian ( James 2:7, 1 Peter 4:4). "’Malefic’ or ’execrable superstition’ was the favorite description of Christianity among Pagans (Tac., Ann. xv. 44; Suet. Nero, xvi.), and Christians were charged with incendiarism, cannibalism and every infamy" (Farrar). All this would finally culminate in bloody-handed persecution, and procure the death of Christ’s followers by forms of law; all manner of false and evil accusations would be brought against them.] 23 Rejoice ye in that day, band be exceeding glad: cand leap for joy: for behold, your reward is great in heaven; for in the same manner did their fathers unto the prophets. afor so persecuted they the prophets that were before you. [In commanding rejoicing under such circumstances Jesus seemed to make a heavy demand upon his disciples, but it is a demand which very many have responded to ( Acts 5:41, Acts 16:25). Anticipations of the glorious future are a great tonic. For instances of persecution of the prophets, see 1 Kings 19:10, 2 Chronicles 16:10, 1 Kings 22:27, 2 Chronicles 24:20, 2 Chronicles 24:21; Jeremiah 26:23, Jeremiah 32:2, Jeremiah 37:15, Jeremiah 38:4-6, Jeremiah 38:28, Hebrews 11:36-38.] c24 But woe unto you that are rich! for ye have received your consolation. [ Luke 16:25.] 25 Woe unto you that are full now! for ye shall hunger. Woe unto you, ye that laugh now! for ye shall mourn and weep. [These three woes are respectively the converse of the three beatitudes recorded by [232] Luke. This converse is to be expected, for as long as sin lasts woes stand over against beatitudes as Ebal against Gerizim. But the woe here expressed by the Saviour is more of a cry of compassion than a denunciation, and may be translated, "Alas for you!" The first woe applies to those who love and trust in riches ( Mark 10:24). Jesus does not clearly define the line beyond which the possession of riches becomes a danger, lest any, fancying himself to be on the safe side of the line, should lull himself to repose and be taken off his guard. Riches are always dangerous, and we must be ever watchful against their seduction. The second woe is kindred to the first. Righteousness is the soul’s true food. Those who feast upon it shall be satisfied, but those who satiate themselves with this world shall waken some day to a sense of emptiness, since they have filled themselves with vanity ( Ecclesiastes 2:1-11, James 5:1-6). The third woe is not pronounced upon those who make merriment an occasional relief ( Proverbs 17:22, Proverbs 15:13, Proverbs 15:15); but upon those who, through lack of earnestness, make it a constant aim. Half the world has no higher object in life than to be amused ( Proverbs 13:14, Ecclesiastes 7:6). Those who sow folly shall reap a harvest of tears. The truth of this saying was abundantly fulfilled in the Jewish wars, which culminated in the destruction of Jerusalem about forty years later.] 26 Woe unto you, when all men shall speak well of you! for in the same manner did their fathers to the false prophets. [This is the converse to the beatitudes pronounced upon those who are reviled, etc. A righteous life rebukes an evil one, and the general tendency of evil is to deride that which rebukes it. This tendency caused the wicked of Christ’s times to say that he had a demon, and that he cast out demons by the power of Beelzebub. If our lives draw to themselves no reproach, they can not be right in the sight of God. A good name is more to be desired than great riches; but we must not sacrifice our fidelity to Christ in order to attain it. If we adhere strictly to the virtues which Christ enjoined, we shall find that the world has an evil name for every one of them. Earnest contention for his [233] truth is called bigotry; loyalty to his ordinances is dubbed narrowness; strict conformity to the laws of purity is named puritanism; liberality is looked upon as an effort to court praise; piety is scorned as hypocrisy, and faith is regarded as fanaticism.]

[FFG 228-234]

Verses 27-36


XLII.
THE SERMON ON THE MOUNT.
(A Mountain Plateau not far from Capernaum.)
Subdivision D.
RELATION OF MESSIANIC TEACHING TO
OLD TESTAMENT AND TRADITIONAL TEACHING.

aMATT. V. 17-48; cLUKE VI. 27-30, 32-36.

a17 Think not that I am come to destroy the law or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. [This verse constitutes a preface to the section of the sermon which follows it. It is intended to prevent a misconstruction of what he was about to say. Destroy is here used in antithesis, not with perpetuate, but with fulfill. To destroy the law would be more than to abrogate it, for it was both a system of statutes designed for the ends of government, and a system of types foreshadowing the kingdom of Christ. To destroy it, therefore, would be both to abrogate its statutes [235] and prevent the fulfillment of its types. The former, Jesus eventually did; the latter, he did not. As regards the prophets, the only way to destroy them would be to prevent the fulfillment of the predictions contained in them. Instead of coming to destroy either the law or the prophets, Jesus came to fulfill all the types of the former, and (eventually) all the unfulfilled predictions of the latter. He fulfills them partly in his own person, and partly by his administration of the affairs of his kingdom. The latter part of the process is still going on, and will be until the end of the world.] 18 For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all things be accomplished. [The jot or yod answering to our letter i was the smallest of the Hebrew letters. The tittle was a little stroke of the pen, by which alone some of the Hebrew letters were distinguished from others like them. To put it in English, we distinguish the letter c from the letter e by the tittle inside of the latter. This passage not only teaches that the law was to remain in full force until fulfilled, but it shows the precise accuracy with which the law was given by God.] 19 Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. [Disobedience is a habit, and it is not easily laid aside. Hence he that is unfaithful in that which is little will also be unfaithful in that which is great. So also those who were disobedient and reckless under the Jewish dispensation would be inclined to act in like manner in the new, or Christian, dispensation: hence the warning. Not only shall God call such least, but men also shall eventually do likewise. Those who by a false system of interpretation, or an undue regard for the traditions of men, enervate or annul the obligations of Christ’s laws or ordinances, and teach others to do the same, shall be held in low esteem or contempt by the church or kingdom of God as fast as it comes to a knowledge [236] of the truth. Greatness in the kingdom of heaven is measured by conscientiousness in reference to its least commandments. Small Christians obey the great commandments, but only the large are careful about the least.] 20 For I say unto you, that except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no wise enter into the kingdom of heaven. [Since the scribes and Pharisees were models of righteousness in their own sight and in that of the people, Jesus here laid down a very high ideal. Though one may now enter the kingdom of heaven having of himself far less righteousness than that of the Pharisees, yet he must attain righteousness superior to theirs, or he can not abide in the kingdom. A large portion of the sermon from this point on is a development of the righteousness of the kingdom of heaven in contrast with old dispensation righteousness and Pharisaic interpretation of it. The laws of Moses regulated civil conduct, and being state laws, they could only have regard to overt acts. But the laws of the kingdom of Christ are given to the individual, and regulate his inner spiritual condition, and the very initial motives of conduct; in it the spirit-feelings are all acts-- 1 John 3:15.] 21 Ye have heard [ Exodus 20:13, Deuteronomy 5:17. The common people, for the most part, knew the law only by its public reading, and hence the exposition of the scribes which accompanied the readings shared in their estimation the very authority of Scripture itself.] that it was said to them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger [shall be liable to] of the judgment; 22 but I say unto you, that every one who is angry with his brother shall be in danger of the judgment; and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca [an expression of contempt frequently used in rabbinical writings, but of uncertain derivation, so that it may mean "empty head" or "spit out;" i. e., heretic], shall be in danger of the council: and whosoever shall say, Thou fool ["’Thou impious wretch;’ folly and impiety being equivalent with the Hebrews"--Bloomfield], shall be in [237] danger of hell fire. [We have here three degrees of criminality or offence as to the sin of anger: 1. Silent rage; 2. Railing speech; 3. Bitter reproach ( Psalms 14:1). With these are associated respectively three different degrees of punishment. The law of Moses provided for the appointment of judges ( Deuteronomy 16:18), and Josephus informs us that in each city there were seven judges appointed (Ant. iv. 8, 14). This tribunal was known as the judgment, and by it the case of the manslayer was determined. Compare Numbers 35:15, Numbers 35:24, Numbers 35:25, Joshua 20:4. And in determining his case this court might certify it for decision to the Sanhedrin, or they might themselves confine the man in of the cities of refuge, or order him to be stoned to death. The second punishment would be the result of a trial before the Sanhedrin or council. This chief court of the Jews sat at Jerusalem ( Deuteronomy 17:8-13), and common men stood in great awe of it. The third punishment passes beyond the pale of human jurisdiction. It is the final punishment--being cast into hell. The Scripture word for hell is derived from the name of a place in the neighborhood of Jerusalem, called the valley of Hinnom. It was a deep, narrow valley, lying southeast of Jerusalem. The Greek word Gehenna (which we translate hell) is first found applied to it in the Septuagint translation of Joshua 18:16. (For the history of the valley, see the following passages of Scripture: Joshua 15:8, 2 Chronicles 28:3, 2 Chronicles 33:6, Jeremiah 7:31, Jeremiah 19:1-5, 2 Kings 23:1-14, 2 Chronicles 34:4, 2 Chronicles 34:5.) The only fire certainly known to have been kindled there was the fire in which children were sacrificed to the god Moloch. This worship was entirely destroyed by King Josiah, who polluted the entire valley so as to make it an unfit place even for heathen worship. Some commentators endeavor to make this third punishment a temporal one, and assert that fires were kept burning in the valley of Hinnom, and that as an extreme punishment the bodies of criminals were cast into those fires. But there is not the slightest authentic evidence that any fire was kept burning there; nor is there any evidence at all that casting a criminal into the [238] fire was ever employed by the Jews as a punishment. It was the fire of idolatrous worship in the offering of human sacrifice which had given the valley its bad name. This caused it to be associated in the mind of the Jews with sin and suffering, and led to the application of its name, in the Greek form of it, to the place of final and eternal punishment. When the conception of such a place as hell was formed, it was necessary to give it a name, and there was no word in the Jewish language more appropriate for the purpose than the name of this hideous valley. It is often used in the New Testament, and always denotes the place of final punishment ( Matthew 10:28, Matthew 18:9, Matthew 23:33, Mark 9:43). We should note that while sin has stages, God takes note of it from its very first germination in the heart, and that a man’s soul is imperiled long before his feelings bear their fruitage of violence and murder.] 23 If therefore [having forbidden anger, Jesus now proceeds to lay down the course for reconciliation] thou art offering thy gift at the altar [that which was popularly esteemed the very highest act of worship], and there rememberest that thy brother hath aught against thee, 24; leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way, first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift. [Reconciliation takes precedence of all other duties, even of offerings made to God. A very important teaching in these days, when men, by corrupt practices, by extortionate combinations, and by grinding the face of the poor, accumulate millions of dollars and then attempt to placate God by bestowing a little of their pocket change upon colleges and missionary societies. God hears and heeds the voice of the unreconciled brethren, and the gift is bestowed upon the altar in vain. The offering of unclean hands is an abomination. The lesson teaches us to be reconciled with all who bear grudges against us, and says nothing as to whether their reasons are sufficient or insufficient, just or unjust. "It is enough to say, I have naught against him, and so justify myself"--Stier.] 25 Agree with thine adversary [opponent in a lawsuit] [239] quickly, while thou art with him in the way [on the road to the judge]; lest haply thy adversary deliver thee to the judge, and the judge deliver thee to the officer [one answering somewhat to our sheriff], and thou be cast into prison. ["In this brief allegory one is supposed to have an adversary at law who has just cause against him, and who will certainly gain a verdict when the case comes into court. The plaintiff himself used to apprehend the defendant" (Bengel). The defendant is, therefore, advised to agree with this adversary while the two are alone on the way to the judge, and thus prevent a trial. Jesus still has in mind the preceding case of one who has given offence to his brother. Every such one is going to the final judgment, and will there be condemned unless he now becomes reconciled to his brother.] 26 Verily I say unto thee, Thou shalt by no means come out thence, till thou have paid the last farthing. [This is the text on which the Roman Catholic Church has built its doctrine of purgatory, and one of those on which the Universalists build theirs of final restoration. But neither "prison" nor "till" necessarily point to ultimate deliverance. Compare 2 Peter 2:4, Judges 1:6. The allusion here is of course to imprisonment for debt. In such a case the debtor was held until the debt was paid, either by himself or some friend. If it were not paid at all, he remained in prison until he died. In the case which this is made to represent, the offender would have let pass all opportunity to make reparation and no friend can make it for him; therefore, the last farthing will never be paid, and he must remain a prisoner forever. So far, therefore, from being a picture of hope, it is one which sets forth the inexorable rigor of divine justice against the hardened and impenitent sinner. It is intended to teach that men can not pay their debts to God, and therefore they had better obtain his forgiveness through faith during these days of grace. It exposes the vain hope of those who think that God will only lightly exact his debts. God knows only complete forgiveness or complete exaction. This is an action founded upon the perfection of his nature. The Greek word [240] translated "farthing," is derived from the Latin "quadrans," which equals the fourth part of a Roman As, a small copper or bronze coin which had become common in Palestine. The farthing was worth about one-fifth part of a cent.] 27 Ye have heard that it was said [ Exodus 20:14, Deuteronomy 5:18], Thou shalt not commit adultery: 28 but I say unto you, that every one that looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart. [Here, as in reference to murder, Jesus legislates against the thought which lies back of the act. He cuts off sin at its lowest root. The essence of all vice is intention. Those who indulge in unchaste imaginations, desires and intentions are guilty before God-- 2 Peter 2:14.] 29 And if thy right eye [the organ of reception] causeth thee to stumble, pluck it out, and cast it from thee [these words indicate decision and determination, and suggest the conduct of a surgeon, who, to protect the rest of the body, unflinchingly severs the gangrened members]: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not thy whole body be cast into hell. 30 And if thy right hand [the instrument of outward action] causeth thee to stumble, cut it off, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not thy whole body go into hell. [Jesus here emphasizes the earnestness with which men should seek a sinless life. To this the whole Scripture constrains us by the terrors of hell, and encourages us by the joys of heaven. The right eye and hand and foot were regarded as the most precious ( Zechariah 11:17, Exodus 29:20), but it is better to lose the dearest thing in life than to lose one’s self. To be deprived of all earthly advantage than to be cast into hell. Of course the Saviour does not mean that we should apply this precept literally, since bodily mutilation will not cure sin which resides in the will and not in the organ of sense or action. A literal exaction of the demands of this precept would turn the church into a hospital. We should blind ourselves by taking care not to look with evil eyes; we should [241] maim ourselves by absolutely refusing to go to forbidden resorts, etc. "’Mortify’ ( Colossians 3:5) is a similar expression"--Bengel.] 31 It is said also [ Deuteronomy 24:1, Deuteronomy 24:3], Whosoever shall put away his wife, let him give her a writing of divorcement: 32 but I say unto you, that every one that putteth away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, maketh her an adulteress [the mere fact of divorce did not make her an adulteress, but it brought her into a state of disgrace from which she invariably sought to free herself by contracting another marriage, and this other marriage to which her humiliating situation drove her made her an adulteress]: and whosoever shall marry her when she is put away committeth adultery. [The law of divorce will be found at Deuteronomy 24:1-4. Jesus explains that this law was given by Moses on account of the hardness of the people’s heart; i. e., to prevent greater evils ( Matthew 19:8). The law permitted the husband to put away the wife when he found "some unseemly thing in her." But Jesus here limits the right of divorce to cases of unchastity, and if there be a divorce on any other ground, neither the man nor the woman can marry again without committing adultery ( Matthew 19:9). Such is Jesus’ modification of the Old Testament law, and in no part of the New Testament is there any relaxation as to the law here set forth. It is implied that divorce for unchastity breaks the marriage bond, and it is therefore held almost universally, both by commentators and moralists, that the innocent party to such a divorce can marry again. Of course the guilty part could not, for no one is allowed by law to reap the benefits of his own wrong. For further light on the subject, see Romans 7:1-3, 1 Corinthians 7:10-16, 1 Corinthians 7:39. It is much to be regretted that in many Protestant countries the civil authorities have practically set aside this law of Christ by allowing divorce and remarriage for a variety of causes. No man who respects the authority of Christ can take advantage of such legislation.] 33 Again, ye have heard that it hath been said to them of old time, Thou shalt not forswear thyself, but shalt perform [242] unto the Lord thine oaths [ Leviticus 19:12, Numbers 30:2, Deuteronomy 23:21]: 34 but I say unto you, Swear not at all; neither by heaven; for it is the throne of God; 35 nor by the earth, for it is the footstool of his feet; nor by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. [ Psalms 48:2.] 36 Neither shalt thou swear by thy head, because thou canst not make one hair white or black. 37 But let your speech be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay: and whatsoever is more than these is of the evil one. [It will be seen from the quotation given by Jesus that the law permitted oaths made unto the Lord. It was not the intention of Jesus to repeal this law. But the Jews, looking upon this law, construed it as giving them exemption from the binding effect of all other oaths. According to the their construction no oath was binding in which the sacred name of God did not directly occur. They therefore coined many other oaths to suit their purposes, which would add weight to their statements or promises, which, however, would not leave them guilty of being forsworn if they spoke untruthfully. But Jesus showed that all oaths were ultimately referable to God, and that those who made them would be forsworn if they did not keep them. To prevent this evil practice of loose swearing Jesus lays down the prohibition, "Swear not at all;" but the universality of this prohibition is distributed by the specifications of these four forms of oaths, and is, therefore, most strictly interpreted as including only such oaths. Jesus surely did not intend to abolish now, in advance of the general abrogation of the law, those statutes of Moses which allowed, and in some instances required, the administration of an oath. See Exodus 22:11, Numbers 5:19. What we style the judicial oaths of the law of Moses then were not included in the prohibition. This conclusion is also reached when we interpret the prohibition in the light of authoritative examples; for we find that God swore by himself ( Genesis 22:16, Genesis 22:17, Hebrews 6:13, Hebrews 7:21). Jesus answered under oath before the Sanhedrin ( Matthew 26:63), and Paul also made oath to the Corinthian church ( 2 Corinthians 1:23). See also Romans 1:9, Galatians 1:20, Philippians 1:8, 1 Corinthians 15:31, Revelation 10:5, Revelation 10:6. We conclude, then, that judicial oaths, and oaths taken in the name of God on occasions of solemn religious importance, are not included in the prohibition. But as these are the only exceptions found in Scriptures, we conclude that all other oaths are forbidden. Looking at the details of the paragraph, we find that oaths by heaven and by the earth, by Jerusalem and by the head, are utterly meaningless save as they have reference to God. "Swearing is a sin whereunto neither profit incites, nor pleasure allures, nor necessity compels, nor inclination of nature persuades"--Quarles.] 38 Ye have heard that it was said [ Exodus 21:24, Leviticus 24:20, Deuteronomy 19:21], An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: 39 but I say unto you, Resist not him that is evil [The lex talionis, or law of like for like, was the best possible rule in a rude state of society, its object being not to sacrifice the second eye, but to save both, by causing a man when in a passion to realize that every injury which he inflicted upon his adversary he would in the end inflict upon himself. From this rule the scribes drew the false inference that revenge was proper, and that a man was entitled to exercise it. Thus a law intended to prevent revenge was so perverted that it was used as a warrant for it. This command which enjoins non-resistance, like most of the other precepts of this sermon, does not demand of us absolute, unqualified pacivity at all times and under all circumstances. In fact, we may say generally of the whole sermon on the mount that it is not a code for slaves, but an assertion of principles which are to be interpreted and applied by the children of freedom. We are to submit to evil for principle’s sake and to accomplish spiritual victories, and not in an abject, servile spirit as blind followers of a harsh and exacting law. On the contrary, taking the principle, we judge when and how to apply it as best we can. Absolute non-resistance may so far encourage crime as to become a sin. As in the case of the precept about swearing just above, Jesus distributes the universal prohibition by the specification of certain examples, which in this case are three in number]: but [244] whosoever smiteth thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also. [This first example is taken from the realm of physical violence. The example given, a slap in the face, has been regarded as a gross insult in all ages, but it is not an assault which imperils life. We find this precept illustrated by the conduct of the Master himself. He did not literally turn the other cheek to be smitten, but he breathed forth a mild and gentle reproof where he might have avenged himself by the sudden death of his adversary ( John 18:22, John 18:23). The example of Paul also is given, but it is not so perfect as that of the Master ( Acts 23:2-5). Self-preservation is a law of God giving rights which, under most circumstances, a Christian can claim. He may resist the robber, the assassin and all men of that ilk, and may protect his person and his possessions against the assaults of the violent and lawless ( Acts 16:35-39). But when the honor of Christ and the salvation of man demands it, he should observe this commandment even unto the very letter.] 40 And if any man would go to law with thee, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloak also. [This second case is one of judicial injustice, and teaches that the most annoying exactions are to be endured without revenge. The coat was the inner garment, and the cloak was the outer or more costly one. The creditor was not allowed to retain it over night, even when it was given to him as a pledge from the poor, because it was used for a bed-covering ( Exodus 22:26, Exodus 22:27). The idea therefore is, "Be ready to give up even that which by law can not be taken" (Mansel). This case, as the one just above, is also an instance of petty persecution, and shows that the command does not forbid a righteous appeal to the law in cases where large and important interests are involved.] 41 And whosoever shall compel thee to go one mile [the Roman mile; it was 142 yards short of the English mile], go with him two. [This third instance is a case of governmental oppression. It supposes a man to be impressed by government officials to go a mile. The custom alluded to is said to have originated with Cyrus, king of Persia, and it [245] empowered a government courier to impress both men and horses to help him forward. For an example of governmental impress, see Luke 23:26. The exercise of this power by the Romans was exceedingly distasteful to Jews, and this circumstance gave a special pertinency to the Saviour’s mention of it. (See Herodotus viii. 98; Xen. Cyrop. viii. 6, 7; Jos. Ant. xiii. 2, 3.) The command, "Go with him two," requires a cheerful compliance with the demands of a tyrannical government--a doubling of the hardship or duty required rather than a resistance to the demand. But here again the oppression is not an insupportable one. A man might go two miles and yet not lose his whole day’s labor. The Saviour chooses these lesser evils because they bring out more distinctly the motives of conduct. If we resist the smaller evils of life, we thereby manifest a spirit of pride seeking revenge; but when the larger evils come upon us, they waken other motives. A man may strive for self-protection when life is threatened without any spirit of revenge. He may appeal to the law to protect his property without any bitterness toward the one who seeks to wrest it from him, and he may set himself against the oppression of his government from the loftiest motives of patriotism. If revenge slumbers in our breast, little injuries will waken it as quickly as big ones.] 42 Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away. [Jesus here turns from the negative to the positive side of life. Our conduct, instead of being selfish and revengeful, should be generous and liberal. A benevolent disposition casts out revenge as light does darkness. No lending was provided for by the law of Moses except for benevolent purposes, for no interest was allowed, and all debts were canceled every seventh year. The giving and lending referred to, then, are limited to cases of real want, and the amount given or loaned is to be regulated accordingly. Giving or lending to the encouragement of vice or indolence can not, of course, be here included. Good actions are marred if they bear evil fruit.] 43 Ye have heard that it was said [ Leviticus 19:18], [246] Thou shalt love thy neighbor, and hate thine enemy: 44 but I say unto you, cthat hear, Love your enemies, do good to them that hate you 28 bless them that curse you [ 1 Corinthians 4:12], aand pray for them that persecute you; cthat despitefully use you. [The law commanding love will be found at Leviticus 19:18, while the sentiment "hate thy enemy" is not found in the law as a precept. But the Jews were forbidden by law to make peace with the Canaanites ( Exodus 34:11-16, Deuteronomy 7:2, Deuteronomy 23:6), and the bloody wars which were waged by God’s own command inevitably taught them to hate them. This was the feeling of their most pious men ( 1 Chronicles 20:3, 2 Kings 13:19), and it found utterance even in their devotional hymns; e. g., Psalms 137:8, Psalms 137:9, Psalms 139:21, Psalms 139:22. It is a true representation of the law, therefore, in its practical working, that it taught hatred of one’s enemies. This is one of the defects of the Jewish dispensation, which, like the privilege of divorce at will, was to endure but for a time. To love an enemy has appeared to many persons impossible, because they understand the word "love" as here expressing the same feeling in all respects which are entertained toward a friend or a near kinsman. But love has many shades and degrees. The exact phase of it which is here enjoined is best understood in the light of examples. The parable of the good Samaritan is given by Jesus for the express purpose of exemplifying it ( Luke 10:35-37); his own example in praying on the cross for those who crucified him serves the same purpose, as does also the prayer of Stephen made in imitation of it ( Luke 23:34, Acts 7:60). The feeling which enables us to deal with an enemy after the manner of the Samaritan, or Jesus, or Stephen, is the love for our enemies which is here enjoined. It is by no means an impossible feeling. Prayer, too, can always express it, for as Hooker says, "Prayer is that which we always have in our power to bestow, and they never in theirs to refuse."] a45 that ye may be sons of your Father who is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sendeth rain on [247] the just and the unjust. [Jesus here gives two reasons why we should obey this precept: 1. That we may be like God; 2. That we may be unlike publicans and sinners. Of course right action towards our enemies does not make us sons of God, but it proves us such by showing our resemblance to him. We are made children of God by regeneration. God, in his daily conduct toward the children of this earth, does not carry his discrimination to any great length. Needful blessings are bestowed lavishly upon all.] c29 To him that smiteth thee on the one cheek offer also the other; and from him that taketh away thy cloak withhold not thy coat also. 30 Give to every man that asketh of thee; and of him that taketh away thy goods ask them not again. [The teaching of this passage has been explained above. It is repeated because of its difference in verbiage, and because its position here illustrates the spirit of the verses which precede it.] a46 For {c32 And} if ye love them that love you, what thank {areward} have ye? do not even the publicans the same? cfor even sinners love those that love them. 33 And if ye do good to them that do good to you, what thank have ye? for sinners also do the same? [The Roman publican proper was a wealthy man of the knightly order, who purchased from the state the privilege of collecting the taxes, but the publicans mentioned in the Scripture were their servants--the men who actually collected the taxes, and the official name for them was portitores. These latter were sometimes freedmen or slaves, and sometimes natives of the province in which the tax was collected. The fact that the Jews were a conquered people, paying tax to a foreign power, made the tax itself odious, and hence the men through whom it was extorted from them were equally odious. These men were regarded in the double aspect of oppressors and traitors. The odium thus attached to the office prevented men who had any regard for the good opinion of their countrymen from accepting it, and left it in the hands of those who had no self-respect and no reputation. Jesus teaches that our religion is [248] worth little if it begets in us no higher love than that which is shown by natural, worldly men. "Christianity is more than humanity"--M. Henry.] 34 And if ye lend to them of whom ye hope to receive, what thank have ye? even sinners lend to sinners, to receive as much again. 35 But love your enemies, and do them good [ Exodus 23:4, Proverbs 24:17, Romans 12:17, Romans 12:19-21], and lend, never despairing; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be sons of the Most High: for he is kind toward the unthankful and evil. ["To make our neighbor purchase, in any way, the assistance which we give him is to profit by his misery; and, by laying him under obligations which we expect him in some way or other to discharge, we increase his wretchedness under the pretense of relieving him"--Clarke.] a47 And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the Gentiles the same? [The Jews despised the Gentiles, so that they did not usually salute them. This was especially true of the Pharisees. The morality, therefore, of this sect proved to be, in this respect, no better than that of the heathen. Salutation has always been an important feature in Eastern social life. The salutation, with all its accompaniments, recognized the one saluted as a friend.] c36 Be ye merciful, even as your Father is merciful. a48 Ye therefore shall be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect. [Luke emphasizes the particular characteristic of God’s perfection which Jesus has been discussing; namely, mercy; but Matthew records the broader assertion which bids us resemble God’s perfections in all their fullness and universality. God is our model. Everything short of that is short of what we ought to be. God can not be satisfied with that which is imperfect. This requirement keeps us in mind of our infirmities, and keeps us at work. Like Paul, we must be ever striving ( Philippians 3:12). Our standard is not the perfection of great and heroic men, but of the infinite Creator himself.] [249]

[FFG 235-249]

Verse 31


XLII.
THE SERMON ON THE MOUNT.
(A Mountain Plateau not far from Capernaum.)
Subdivision I.
THE GOLDEN RULE.
aMATT. VII. 12; cLUKE VI. 31.

a12 All things therefore whatsoever ye would {c31 and as ye would} that men should do to {aunto} you, even so do ye also unto {cto} them likewise. afor this is the law and the prophets. [Jesus connects the Golden Rule with what precedes with the word "therefore." We are to practice the Golden Rule because God’s divine judgment teaches forbearance, and his goodness teaches kindness. This precept is fitly called the Golden Rule, for it embraces in its few words the underlying and governing principle of all morality. It contains all the precepts of the law with regard to man, and all the amplifications of those precepts given by the prophets. It teaches us to put ourselves in our neighbor’s place, and direct our conduct accordingly. It assumes, of course, that when we put ourselves in our neighbor’s place, we are wise enough not to make any foolish wishes, and good enough not to make any evil ones. The great sages Socrates, Buddha, Confucius and Hillel each [265] groped after this truth, but they stated it thus: "Do not do to others what you would not have done to you;" thus making it a rule of not doing rather than of doing. But the striking difference between these teachers and Christ lies not in the statements so much as in the exemplification. Jesus lived the Golden Rule in his conduct toward men, and maintained perfect righteousness before God in addition thereto.]

[FFG 265-266]

Verses 37-42


XLII.
THE SERMON ON THE MOUNT.
(A Mountain Plateau not far from Capernaum.)
Subdivision G.
LAW CONCERNING JUDGING.
aMATT. VII. 1-6; cLUKE VI. 37-42.

a1 Judge not, that ye be not judged. c37 And judge not, and ye shall not be judged [Here again Jesus lays down a general principle in the form of universal prohibition. The principle is, of course, to be limited by other Scriptural laws concerning judgment. It does not prohibit: 1. Judgment by civil courts, which is apostolically approved ( 2 Peter 2:13-15, Hebrews 13:17, Titus 3:1). 2. Judgment of the church on those who walk disorderly; for this also was ordered by Christ and his apostles ( Matthew 18:16, Matthew 18:17, Titus 3:10, 2 Thessalonians 3:6, 2 Thessalonians 3:14, 1 John 1:10, 1 Timothy 1:20, 1 Timothy 6:5). 3. Private judgment as to wrong-doers. This is also ordered by Christ and his apostles ( Matthew 7:15, Matthew 7:16, Romans 16:17, 1 John 4:1, 1 Corinthians 5:11). The commandment is leveled at rash, censorious and uncharitable judgments, and the fault-finding spirit or disposition which condemns upon surmise without examination of the charges, forgetful that we also shall stand in the judgment and shall need mercy ( Romans 14:10, James 2:13). Our judgment of Christians must be charitable, ( John 7:24, 1 Corinthians 13:5, 1 Corinthians 13:6) in remembrance of the fact that they are God’s servants ( Romans 14:4); and that he reserves to himself the ultimate right of judging [260] both them and us-- Romans 14:4, 1 Corinthians 4:3, 1 Corinthians 4:4, 2 Corinthians 5:10]: a2 For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured unto you. cand condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: release, and ye shall be released [Though God shall judge us with absolute justice, yet justice often requires that we receive even in the same measure in which we have given it, so in a sense the merciful receive mercy, and the censorious receive censure ( James 2:12, James 2:13). But from men we receive judgment in the measure in which we give it. Applying the teaching here given locally, we find that Jesus, having condemned the Pharisees in their manner of praying, now turns to reprove them for their manner of judging. Their censorious judgments of Christ himself darken many pages of the gospel. But with a bitter spirit they condemned as sinners beyond the pale of mercy whole classes of their countrymen, such as publicans, Samaritans, and the like, besides their wholesale rejection of all heathen. These bitter judgments swiftly returned upon the heads of the judges and caused the victorious Roman to wipe out the Jewish leaders without mercy. It is a great moral principle of God’s government that we reap as we sow. Censorious judgment and its harvest are merely one form of culture which comes under this general law]: 38 give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, shall they give into your bosom. For with what measure ye mete it shall be measured to you again. [This is not necessarily a promise of the return of our gift in kind. It rather means that we shall receive an equivalent in joy and in that blessedness which Jesus meant when he said, "It is more blessed to give than to receive." The figurative language is borrowed from the market where the salesman, grateful for past kindnesses, endeavors, by pressing, shaking, and piling up, to put more grain into the measure for us than it will contain. Pockets were unknown to the ancients, and what they wished to take with them was carried in the fold in the bosom of the coat, the girdle below holding it up. [261] Ruth bore this a heavy burden in her mantle which, in the King James Version is mistakenly called the veil-- Ruth 3:15.] 39 And he spake also a parable unto them, Can the blind guide the blind? shall they not both fall into a pit? [Whoso lacks the knowledge of divine truth can not so lead others that they shall find it. They shall both fall into the pitfalls of moral error and confusion.] 40 The disciple is not above his teacher: but every one when he is perfected shall be as his teacher. [Pupils do not surpass their teachers, or, if they do, they are self-taught, and hence do not owe to their teachers that wherein they rise superior to them. All that the scholar can hope from his teacher is that when he is perfectly instructed he shall be as his teacher. But if the teacher is a blind man floundering in a ditch, he affords but a dismal prospect for his pupils. The perfection of such teaching is certainly not desirable.] a3 And why beholdest thou the mote [chip or speck of wood dust] that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam [heavy house timber] that is in thine own eye? 4 Or how wilt {ccanst} thou say to thy brother, Brother, let me cast out the mote aout of thine eye; cthat is in thine eye, when thou thyself beholdest not the beam that is in thine own eye? {aand lo, the beam is in thine own eye?} 5 Thou hypocrite, cast out first the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye. cthat is in thy brother’s eye. [In Matthew and Luke Jesus gives slightly varying applications to this allegorical passage by setting it in different connections. In Luke, as we see, he places it after the words which describe the disastrous effect of being blind leaders of the blind. It therefore signifies in this connection that we ourselves should first see if we would teach others to see. In Matthew he places it after the words about censorious judgment, where it means that we must judge ourselves before we can be fit judges of others. The thought is practically the same, for there is little difference between correcting others as their teachers or as [262] their self-appointed judges. Jesus graphically and grotesquely represents a man with a log, or rafter, in his eye trying to take a chip or splinter out of his neighbor’s eye. Both parties have the same trouble or fault, but the one having the greater seeks to correct the one having the less. The application is that he who would successfully teach or admonish must first be instructed or admonished himself ( Galatians 6:1). In moral movements men can not be pushed; they must be led. Hence those who would teach must lead the way. Those who have reformed their own faults can "see clearly" how to help others. But so long as we continue in sin, we are blind leaders of the blind.] a6 Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast your pearls before the swine, lest haply they trample them under their feet, and turn and rend you. [The connection here is not obvious. This saying, however, appears to be a limitation of the law against judging. The Christian must not be censoriously judicial, but he should be discriminatingly judicious. He must know dogs and swine when he sees them, and must not treat them as priests and kings, the fit objects for the bestowal of holy food and goodly ornaments. Dogs and swine were unclean animals. The former were usually undomesticated and were often fierce. In the East they are still the self-appointed scavengers of the street. The latter were undomesticated among the Jews, and hence are spoken of as wild and liable to attack man. Meats connected with the sacrificial service of the altar were holy. Even unclean men were not permitted to eat of them, much less unclean brutes. What was left after the priests and clean persons had eaten was to be burned with fire ( Leviticus 6:24-30, Leviticus 7:15-21). To give holy things to dogs was to profane them. We are here forbidden, then, to use any religious office, work, or ordinance, in such a manner as to degrade or profane it. Saloons ought not to be opened with prayer, nor ought adulterous marriages to be performed by a man of God. To give pearls to swine is to press the claims of the gospel upon those who despise it until they persecute you for annoying them with it. When such men are known, [263] they are to be avoided. Jesus acted on this principle in refusing to answer the Pharisees, and the apostles did the same in turning to the Gentiles when their Jewish hearers would begin to contradict and blaspheme. Compare Matthew 15:2, Matthew 15:3, Matthew 21:23-27, Acts 13:46, Acts 19:9.]

[FFG 260-264]

Verses 43-45


XLII.
THE SERMON ON THE MOUNT.
(A Mountain Plateau not far from Capernaum.)
Subdivision J.
THE TWO WAYS AND THE FALSE PROPHETS.
aMATT. VII. 13-23; cLUKE VI.. 43-45.

a13 Enter ye in by the narrow gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many are they that enter in thereby. 14 For narrow is the gate, and straitened the way, that leadeth unto life, and few are they that find it. [The Master here presents two cities before us. One has a wide gateway opening onto the broad street, and other a narrow gate opening onto a straitened street or alley. The first city is Destruction, the second is Life.] 15 Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravening wolves. [From the two ways Jesus turns to warn his disciples against those who lead into the wrong path--the road to destruction. Prophets are those who lay claim to teach men correctly the life which God would have us live. The scribes and Pharisees were such, and Christ predicted the coming of others ( Matthew 24:5, Matthew 24:24), and so did Paul ( Acts 20:29). Their fate is shown in Matthew 7:21, Matthew 7:22. By sheep’s clothing we are to understand that they shall bear a gentle, meek, and inoffensive outward demeanor; but they use this demeanor as a cloak to hide their real wickedness, and so effectually does it hide it that the false prophets often deceive even themselves.] 16 By their fruits ye shall know them. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? 17 Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but the corrupt tree bringeth [266] forth evil fruit. c43 For there is no good tree that bringeth forth corrupt fruit; nor again a corrupt tree that bringeth forth good fruit. a18 A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. c44 For each tree is known by its own fruit. For of thorns men do not gather figs, nor of a bramble bush gather they grapes. a19 Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. [It is a law of universal application that whatever is useless and evil shall eventually be swept away.] 20 Therefore by their fruits ye shall know them. c45 A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and the evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth that which is evil: for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh. [Teachers are to be judged by their conduct as men, and also by the effect of their teaching. If either be predominantly bad, the man must be avoided. But we must not judge hastily, nor by slight and trivial actions, for some specimens of bad fruit grown on good trees.] a21 Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father who is in heaven. [To say, "Lord, Lord," is to call on the Lord in prayer. While it is almost impossible to overestimate the value of prayer when associated with a consistent life, it has been too common to attribute to it a virtue which it does not possess. The Pharisees were excessively devoted to prayer, and they led the people to believe that every prayerful man would be saved. The Mohammedans and Romanists are subject to the same delusion, as may be seen in their punctilious observance of the forms of prayer, while habitually neglecting many of the common rules of morality. It is here taught that prayer, unattended by doing the will of the Father in heaven, can not save us. Doing the will of God must be understood, not in the sense of sinless obedience, but as including a compliance with the conditions on which sins are forgiven. Whether under the [267] old covenant or the new, sinless obedience is an impossibility; but obedience to the extent of our possibility amid the weaknesses of the flesh, accompanied by daily compliance with the conditions of pardon for our daily sin, has ever secured the favor of God.] 22 Many will say to me in that day [the final judgment day], Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy by thy name, and by thy name cast out demons, and by thy name do many mighty works? [Jesus here prophetically forecasts those future times wherein it would be worth while to assume to be a Christian. Times when hypocrisy would find it a source of profit and of honor to be attached to Christ’s service. In these days we may well question the motives which induce us to serve Christ. High place in the visible kingdom is no proof of one’s acceptance with God. Neither are mighty works, though successfully wrought in his name. Judas was an apostle and miracle-worker, and Balaam was a prophet, yet they lacked that condition of the heart which truly allies one with God ( 1 Corinthians 13:1-3). Jesus says the number of false teachers is large. We must not carelessly ignore the assertion of that important fact. We should also note that Christ will not lightly pass over their errors on the judgment day, though they seem to have discovered them for the first time. Such truths should make us extremely cautious both as teachers and learners.] 23 And then will I profess [better, confess] unto them, I never knew you [never approved or recognized you]: depart from me [ Matthew 25:41], ye that work iniquity. [This indicates that false teachers filled with a patronizing spirit toward the Lord, and with a sense of power as to his work, will be deceived by a show of success. Through life Christ appeared to them to be accepting them and approving their lives, but he now confesses that this appearance was not real. It arose from a misconception on their part and on that of others. Many works which men judge to be religious really undermine religion. The world esteems him great whose ministry begets Pharisees, but in Christ’s eyes such a one is a worker of iniquity.] [268]

[FFG 266-268]

Verses 46-49


XLII.
THE SERMON ON THE MOUNT.
(A Mountain Plateau not far from Capernaum.)
Subdivision K.
CONCLUSION AND APPLICATION: TWO BUILDERS.
aMATT. VII. 24-29; cLUKE VI. 46-49.

c46 And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say? [Why do ye give me the title, but withhold the service which should go with it?-- Malachi 1:6.] a24 Every one therefore that ccometh unto me, and heareth my words {athese words of mine,} and doeth them [ John 13:17, James 1:22], cI will show you whom he is like: 48 he is like {ashall be likened unto} ca man building a house, who digged and went deep, and laid a foundation upon the rock: aa wise man who built his house upon the rock [The word "rock" suggests Christ himself. No life can be founded upon Christ’s teaching unless it be founded also upon faith and trust in his personality. For this we must dig deep, for as St. Gregory says, "God is not to be found on the surface"]: 25 and the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; cand when a flood arose, the stream brake against that house, and could not shake it: aand it fell not: cbecause it had been well builded. afor it was founded upon the rock. [The imagery of this passage would be impressive anywhere, but is especially so when used before an audience accustomed to the fierceness of an Eastern tempest. Rains, floods, etc., represent collectively the trials, the temptations and persecutions which come upon us from without. There comes a time to every life when these things throng together and test the resources of our strength.] 26 And every one {c49 But he} athat heareth these words of mine, and doeth them not shall be likened unto {cis like} aa foolish man, who {cthat} built a {ahis} house upon the sand: {cearth} without a foundation; a27 and the rain [269] descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and smote upon that house; {cagainst which the stream brake,} and straightway it fell in; aand great was the fall thereof. cand the ruin of that house was great. [We do not need to go to Palestine to witness the picture portrayed here. Whole towns on the Missouri and the lower Mississippi have been undermined and swept away because built upon the sand. Jesus here limits the tragedy to a single house. "A single soul is a great ruin in the eyes of God" (Godet). Jesus did not end his sermon with a strain of consolation. It is not always best to do so.] a28 And it came to pass, when Jesus had finished these words, the multitudes were astonished at his teaching: 29 for he taught them as one having authority, and not as their scribes. [See page 166.]

[FFG 269-270]

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website. These files were made available by Mr. Ernie Stefanik. First published online in 1996 at The Restoration Movement Pages.
Bibliographical Information
J. W. McGarvey and Philip Y. Pendleton. "Commentary on Luke 6". "The Fourfold Gospel". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/tfg/luke-6.html. Standard Publishing Company, Cincinnati, Ohio. 1914.