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Bible Commentaries

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible
Luke 6

 

 

Verse 1

§ 33. THE DISCIPLES PLUCKING THE EARS OF CORN, Luke 6:1-5.

Matthew 12:1-8; Mark 2:23-28.

1. Second Sabbath after the first—This phrase is in the Greek δευτεροπρωτω, the Latin Vulgate secundum-primum, that is, literally, second-first. The phrase second Sabbath after the first is a very incorrect translation. The phrase second-first assumes that there is a succession of numerical counts, so that there may be a first series of 1, 2, 3, and a second series, and perhaps a third or more. Each first of these successive series would then be a first-first, a second-first, a third-first, and so on; this present instance being the second-first. But as this is the only occurrence of this compound term anywhere in literature, the meaning is very doubtful. In fact the word itself is omitted in some manuscripts, and is quite possibly a marginal insertion incorporated into the text. Perhaps some manuscripts had second, others first, and both were finally conjoined into second-first.

We give different interpretations; the first by Bishop Pearce, as follows: In the opinion of some, the Jews had three first Sabbaths; namely, the first Sabbath after the Passover; that after the feast of the Pentecost; and that after the feast of Tabernacles. According to which opinion, this second-first Sabbath must have been the first Sabbath after the Pentecost. So we have the first Sunday after Epiphany; the first after Easter; the first after Trinity; and the first in Lent.

The next interpretation supposes that the second-first Sabbath is the first Sabbath after the second day of the Passover; which second day of Passover was the day of the wave-sheaf. This day of the wave-sheaf was the ritual beginning of the harvest; previous to which it was unlawful for any Jew to pluck or eat parched corn or green ears. And as the day of the wave-sheaf was the beginning of the harvest, so the Pentecost was the great thanksgiving feast of the completed harvest or ingathering; the ending of the harvest. Between the wave-sheaf and the Pentecost were seven weeks; that is, as seven days are a week of days, so these seven weeks were a week of weeks. Of course this seven weeks included seven Sabbaths. And the first of these Sabbaths being the first after the second day of the Passover, was called the second-first Sabbath; the next Sabbath would be the second-second; the next would be the second-third, and so on through the seven.

Although this is the most prevalent interpretation, it is not obvious how the second after the first would naturally be called the second-first.

The third interpretation is that proposed by Wieseler and adopted by Tischendorf, Van Oosterzee, Ellicott, and other modern scholars. The Mosaic law had not only a week of seven days, and a week of seven weeks, but also a week of seven years; the seventh of which was a sabbatical year. Now according to Wieseler’s chronology the commencement of our Lord’s ministry was in a sabbatical year. The first Sabbath in the first of the seven years would be the first-first Sabbath; the first Sabbath of the second year would be the second-first, and so on through the sabbatic series of years. This would make the Sabbath when the disciples plucked the barley to be the first Sabbath of Nisan, in the year of the building of Rome 782. Wieseler adduces a single passage from Clemens Alexandrinus showing that the first Sabbath of the year was technically called first Sabbath. If his chronological scheme be admitted, it furnishes a very natural meaning to the term.


Verse 4

4. How—After this verse two or three ancient manuscripts have a remarkable addition in the following words: “On the same day, seeing one working on the Sabbath, He said unto him, Man, if indeed thou knowest what thou dost, blessed art thou; but if thou knowest not, thou art accursed and a transgressor of the law.”

By this anecdote Jesus is made to assume that under his dispensation the Sabbath is abolished. If the man does not know this abolishment, and so is purposing to violate the Sabbath, he is, in heart and will, a transgressor. If, however, he knows what he is doing, namely, working under a dispensation without a sabbath, he is then a Christian, and works in accordance with conscience, right, and law. But as no such assumption of the abolition of the Sabbath is founded on any thing that Jesus ever taught, we hold the passage as not containing a genuine saying of Jesus.

(1.) We have said in our introduction to this volume, p. 6, that very few traces exist of our Lord’s sayings outside of our canonical gospels. Mr. Westcott, in his Introduction to the New Testament, pp. 445-453, has made a collection of all such sayings and doings to be found either in the canonical epistles or in the early Christian writers. The entire number, including those that appear to be variations of gospel passages, is thirty two. Very few of these could be accepted as genuine. The only one incontestably genuine is found in Acts 20:35.

(2.) In regard to this present passage we fully agree with Grotius (against Van Oosterzee) that it was “interpolated by some Marcionite.”

Marcion was a so-called heretic, living near the close of the apostolic day. He was an anti-Judaic ultraist, who not only, with St. Paul, rejected the necessity of keeping the Mosaic law for salvation, but even contemned not only the Mosaic law, but the God of the Old Testament, as an evil being. The Ebionites and Marcionites were opposite extremes. (See note on Luke 6:20.)

Marcion accepted the Gospel of Luke, (being the most Gentile of the four,) but mutilated it to suit his own purposes. (See note on Matthew 5:17.) Now the assumption that the Sabbath is abrogated under the New Testament is not only unsustainable and false, but; as being a repudiation of the law, even during the life of Jesus, and by Jesus, is truly Marcionite in its character. And being an interpolation, we believe Grotius was right in saying, “I think it was inserted by some Marcionite.”

But the passage, though spurious, strikingly illustrates how rectitude depends upon the interior motive, view, or purpose. If the man knew not the sabbath law to have been abolished, it was his purpose to break the law; and of that intentional transgression he was guilty. The law existed for him. Whatever is not of faith is sin.


Verses 6-11

§ 34. THE HEALING OF THE WITHERED HAND, Luke 6:6-11.

Matthew 12:9-21; Mark 3:1-12.

See notes on the parallel section in Matthew.


Verse 12

12. In those days—A customary Hebrew phrase, indefinite in its character, intended to refer to the general period or era of which the author has written or is about to write.

Went out—Out of synagogue and city; from the crowded haunts of men. Solemn was the exchange from town to mountain; from man to

God. A mountain—Rather the mountain; and this phrase, the mountain, το ορος, occurs so ordinarily in the Greek of the Gospels that a German sceptic wittily remarks that “there is but one mountain in the gospels.” But this supposed argument against their truth Ebrard learnedly reverses in their favour. Palestine is, on the whole, not a plain interspersed with mountains, but an extensive mountain-level intersected by vales and lowlands. The mountain is therefore the ordinary table-land, the mountain-level, the second story of the region, including an occasional lofty peak or ridge, like Tabor, Hermon, and in the present case, the double brow of Hattin. Hattin was the mountain-summit into which our Lord ascended for a night of prayer; and the plain of Luke 6:17, is the table-land or lower mountain plain upon which the sermon was delivered.

All night—The ordination sermon was preceded by a whole night of prayer! So solemn a work is the holy ministry! With what depth of devotion ought the young minister, after this example of Jesus, to consecrate himself to God when about to take his ordination vows!

In prayer to God—God being in the genitive, it would read literally in prayer of God. Yet there is not a little plausibility in the rendering in a proseucha; that is, a prayer-house or chapel of God. The Jews, it is certain, were accustomed to erect oratories or chapels of private devotion. Both Philo and Josephus make mention of them. The Jews say that when R. Jochanan visited the camp of Vespasian the Roman General, he was asked by the Roman what personal favour he desired, and the Rabbi replied, “I desire nothing but this school of Jabneh, that I may teach disciples and fix therein an oratory.” It is very natural to suppose that an oratory in the mountain was the place of Jesus’s prayer. See Kitto’s Bib. Encyc. on the word Proseucha.


Verse 13

13. Chose twelve—The successive stages of apostolic induction are, first, the admitting to a more intimate association of one and another as disciples, John 1:35-51; second, a choice of one or several at a time to be strictly his intimate followers in order to be his future preachers, Luke 5:1-11; third, the formation of the whole into an organism of twelve, under the title of apostles, as specified in the present verse; fourth, a sending of them forth upon a trial mission, Matthew 10:1-42; fifth, their endowment with the apostolic keys, Matthew 16:13-20; sixth, their qualification for the exercise of their inspired and miraculous apostolic authority by the Pentecostal effusion of the Spirit. Acts 2:4. Under these officers the apostolic Church was formed, the inspired Gospels and Epistles were written, and the canon of the New Testament was selected and fixed for the Church of the future.

Whom also he named apostles They had before been friends and disciples; now he appropriates for their wearing the new and illustrious church-title, APOSTLES. It is to be noted that in the following catalogue their names are given by couples, doubtless to indicate how they were assorted in sending them forth two by two. First, then, were the two brothers of Bethsaida, Simon and Andrew; next the second pair of Bethsaidan brothers, cousins to Jesus, James and John; then Philip and Nathaniel surnamed Bartholomew.

See SUPPLEMENTARY NOTE below.

SUPPLEMENTARY NOTE TO Luke 6:13.

The Sacred Numbers.

The choosing of the Twelve suggests the subject of the Sacred Numbers apparent in Scripture. (See Stuart on the Apocalypse, vol. ii, p. 409.)

The decimal numbers, tens, hundreds, thousands, etc., are obviously founded on the practical ease and beauty of these numbers, which have rendered them the basis of arithmetic the world over. Assuming the unit as the seed of numbers, then the unit added to THREE makes the sacred FOUR, (3+1=4;) THREE added to FOUR makes the SEVEN, (3+4=7;) and THREE into FOUR makes TWELVE, (3x4=12.)

NUMBER THREE.

Three is emphatically the divine number, as indicative of the Creator, or original being—God. The divine substance, being pure, original, simple, spiritual substance, is unit. This—God incommunicable—the dim background of Deity, generates a Revealer or manifested self, and thence a third all-pervading Effluence. In this and other modes, perhaps all the great primary religions of the world, from the eastern verge of China to the western shore of Ireland, nay, including the continent of America, are more or less clearly TRINITARIAN.

In the Hindoo theology Para-Brama is the background, who developes into Brahma, the Creator, Vishnu, the Preserver, and Shiva, the Destroyer and Renewer. Among the Buddhists, we have the Trine—Buddhas, the Revealer, Dharmas, the Revealed, and Sanghas, the hosts who obey revelation. In the Chaldee oracles, it is said, “Unity hath produced a second, which dwells in it and shines in intellectual light; from this proceeds a third, which shines through the whole world.” The Phenician theology assigns to the universe a triplet principium—Jupiter, that is, the heavens, the earth, and love, which unites the two. Among the Chinese, the name of deity is Tao; that is, the Three-one. The celebrated Tao-Tsee says that “Tao [the original godhead] is by his nature one; but the first has produced a second; the second a third; and these three have created all things.” Among the Persians, from Zervane Akerene, or the Uncreated Time, was generated Oromasd, the good, and Ahriman, the evil. They also had Mithras as mediator-god between the good and evil, to whom they assigned the triangle as a symbol. Among the Egyptians, from Athor, or the original Night, were the three, Kneph, Phthas, and Osiris; which, in the natural world, are symbolized by light, fire, and sun; and in the ideal world by omnipotence, wisdom, and goodness.

Among the Greeks and Romans the number three often appears in sacred things. Virgil (Eclog. 8:73) says: “These three threads, diversified by three different colours, I bind around; three times I carry the effigy around these altars; the god delights in this uneven number.” This Servius, the ancient commentator, identifies with “the threefold number that [the Romans] assigned to the supreme god, from whom is the beginning, middle, and end.” Plutarch, (de Isid., c. 46:) the greatest and divinest nature consists of three. And Plato (de Leg. 4:716) says: “God, according to the ancient saying, contains the beginning, the end, and the middle of all things.”

Among the Hebrews no mere impersonal god, or abstract divine substance, appears. Nor does the Old Testament distinctly and explicitly reveal a trinity, as such. Still an occult plurality in the Godhead seems implied in various ways. The ordinary term for deity is Elohim, which is a plural noun. Says Simon Ben Joachi, an ancient rabbi, as quoted by Dr. Clark on Genesis 1:1 : “Come, see the mystery of the word Elohim; there are three degrees, and each degree by itself alone; and yet they are all one, and joined together in one, and not divided from each other.” In view of this fact, and the plural name, Elohim, we cannot but recognize a reference to this occult divine plurality in the phrases in Genesis: Let US make man, Let US go down, Become like one of US. The trine benediction in Numbers 6:24-26 illustrates the triple nature of this plurality, to which we may parallel as a beautiful interpretation the Christian benediction, so properly used in dismissing our congregations, 2 Corinthians 13:14 : “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ,” etc.; as well as the formula of baptism, in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. The trisagion or thrice-holy of Isaiah, Holy, Holy, Holy, (chap. Luke 6:3,) repeated Revelation 4:8, have the same occult reference, and in this last passage the trine description of eternity, which is, and was, and is to come, being an expansion of the meaning of the word Jehovah, develops an occult trinity even in that incommunicable name.

The triangle, as symbolical of Deity, is a most expressive image of the trine nature. It is in use among the Hindoos. A triangle, with its point upward, is the symbol of Shiva; with the point downward, of Vishnu. Among the Chinese the same symbol is used for the divinities. A tripod they call spirit, from its symbolical signification. This visible and tangible emblem conveys to us a very vivid impression of the general faith of the religious world in a trinity of the divine nature.

THE SACRED NUMBER FOUR.

As the number three indicated God, so the number four indicated the creation. For four contains and depends upon three for its existence, and yet requires a unit to be added to make it different from three. As three represents the divine, so four represents the created or mundane. The followers of that most ancient of Greek theosophists, Pythagoras, paid mystic regard to the number four; invented for it a peculiar name, the Tetraktys, by which they swore. The tetraktys they held to be an emblem of the kosmos, or the universal order or creation. This is a most obvious idea; for the square is the most orderly of figures. A surface of squares, unlike a surface of circular figures, will adjust or square to each other, without interspace or discrepancy. Besides, all solids were conceived to have the four dimensions—length, breadth, height, and depth. And the most perfect of all solids and the most perfect emblem of the kosmos, the CUBE, “consists of fours throughout.”

This relation between the four and the kosmos being once the starting-point, we might expect that four would be detected in various arrangements of the world. Four are the elements—earth, air, fire, and water. Four are the cardinal points whose lines intersect the globe. Four are the seasons that sweep over its face. The biblical use of the number four is not as plentiful and decided as of some other numbers. Four quarters or points are assigned to the heavens and to the earth— Ezekiel 7:2; Zechariah 1:18-21; Revelation 7:1; Revelation 20:8. The heavens are divided into four great constellations—Job 9:9; Job 38:31. In the vision of Ezekiel, chap. 1, as well as in Revelation, there appears the clearest reference to the four of creation. The four living creatures, which seem in fact to be symbols of the creation, and several other fours embraced in this vision, receive much elucidation from our discussion.

THE SACRED NUMBER SEVEN.

Commentators have been in the habit of saying, without exactly knowing the meaning of their own words, certainly without knowing their full meaning, that the number seven is “a number of completeness and perfection.” How it is any more a number of completeness and perfection than six, eight, or ten, they have not proceeded to show. But from the views here presented, a meaning comes into their words. Seven is (3+4=7) the sum of three and four, and thus embraces in its comprehension the entire sum of existence, both God and creation—Theos and kosmos. This is, therefore, most truly a number of completeness and perfection.

The act of the creation shows God and kosmos in combination. It is the Great Three involving the Great Four, and thus running through the Great Seven. The great week of creation, Genesis ii, then, is simply the great periods in which the seven is coming into complete expansion.

“The mystical square of the Hindoos, which is used as an amulet.” says Stuart, “is designed to represent the world. It contains three rows of squares (a union of three and four) joined together and marked with unit numbers, so that if read in any direction the sum of them is fifteen. The form [embracing the nine digits] is thus:

[image]

The number five thus occupies the middle station and designates the soul of the world; the other numbers designate the world; the even ones the earthly elements; the uneven ones the heavenly elements. Man, as an image of the world, a real μικροκοσμος, [microcosm or little world,] is drawn by the Hindoos upon this magic square with his hands and feet extended to the four corners.”

And it is through the creative week that we develop the almost uniform use to which we see the number seven applied, namely, as a measure of the time of any completed sacred performance. The order of ideas, as we should trace it, is as follows: First. Seven, as the sacred 3+4, is the measure of the accomplishment of the 3+4 in creation. Second. It becomes, thence, in a reduced pattern, the measure of the ordinary week; and thence, Third. It becomes the measure of other holy seasons or rounds of sacred performance. Hence it became a ritual number. Seven days was the feast of the passover kept. After a lapse of seven days circumcision was performed. Purification from touch of a corpse lasted seven days. These are but a small part of the instituted performance of seven-day duties. On the seventh month was the holy convocation at the feast of trumpets. (Numbers 29:1.) Seven weeks after the wave offering Pentecost commenced. After seven times seven years was the jubilee. The blood of propitiation was sprinkled seven times. So that there was not only the seven or week of days, but the week of months and the week of years. And there was not only the week of times but the week of things.

The week being thus an established measure, its number of seven becomes a measure of anything of a sacred character within a fair proportion. The seventh year gave Jacob his wife, and the seventh year emancipated any Hebrew servant. Wedding feasts were seven days. Seven years was Solomon building the temple. Jericho was taken with a storm of sevens. Cain was to have a sevenfold vengeance, and Lamech seventy sevens. God will chasten seven times, Leviticus 26:28; and Israel shall flee seven ways, Deuteronomy 28:7; Deuteronomy 28:25. Pharaoh’s dreams abounded in sevens. Sevens of clean animals entered the ark seven days before the flood commenced. The same number out of the circle of Hebraisms is sacredly used by Balaam. (Numbers 23:1.) It was used in the times and land of Job. (Job 5:19.) It is even a sacred number with regal Babylon. (Daniel 3:19; Daniel 4:16.)

From this train of thought we have a clear illustration of the original establishment, the patriarchal retention, the wide diffusion of the week-division, and the consequent perpetual obligation of the sabbath or weekly sacred rest. Perhaps the change from the Jewish to the Christian week might herefrom be also shown to be an easy idea. Other suggestions arise which we must here omit.

In the New Testament, besides Mark 8:8, and Luke 8:2, and Luke 11:26, the Apocalypse is profuse of symbolic sevens. Seven are the Churches of Asia, the spirits before the throne, the golden candlesticks, the stars, the eyes which are the spirits of God, the horns and eyes of the lamb, the uttering thunders, the seals, the trumpets, the vials, the heads and crowns of the dragon, the heads of the beast, the hills and kings of Rome. The clearest chronological prophecy of the Messiah in the entire Old Testament, that of Daniel 9:25, embraces a period of seventy sevens.

The half of seven appears in several of the numbers which figure largely in prophetic expositions. Half-seven years are the three years and six months of Luke 4:25; James 5:17; the forty-two months of Revelation 11:2; Revelation 13:5; the time, times, and half time of Daniel 7:25; Daniel 12:7; Revelation 12:14; and the 1260 days of Revelation 11:13; Revelation 12:6. Twice seven appears thrice in Matthew’s genealogy of Jesus; a clear indication of its constructive character. See note on Matthew 1:17.

THE SACRED NUMBER TWELVE.

As three added to four is so eminent a sacred number, so three multiplying four (3x4=12) is bound to be, at least in some degree, sacred. But the distinctive nature of these different sacred figures has hardly been clearly noted. As unit is primary, unwrought, simple substance, so three is the divine number, four the mundane number, seven the ritual number, and twelve the governmental number. This product of the 3x4 found a happy coincidence for itself, first, in the twelve signs of the zodiac, within which the sun’s course is circumscribed, and the twelve annual moon-changes or months; and, perhaps, derives thence something of its governmental character. Its next coincidence is found with the twelve sons of Jacob, and thence the twelve tribes of Israel. In this its governmental character was completed. But many of the ancient governmental conformities to this number were clearly to be derived from the Israelite twelvedom of tribes. And we see that an anxious respect was paid to this number when the generational basis in some measure failed. The tribe of Levi had no allotment of territory, and Joseph’s two sons were called in to make up the complement of the twelve states. So in Revelation 7, where the idolatrous tribe of Dan is expunged and Levi counted, the deficit is supplied in the same way.

Twelve were the Arabian tribes descended from Ishmael, and twelve the Saracen tribes, even to the time of Mohammed. Twelve were the most ancient Egyptian dynasties. Twelve states formed the Ionian confederacy. Twelve were the associations of Achaians in Peloponnesus; twelve the towns founded by Cecrops in Attica; twelve were the tables of Roman law; by twelves the Etrurians classified their magistrates; twelve were the parts of Plato’s Republic; twelve the counsellors of the Phaeacian king, and twelve the ancient members of the court of Areopagus.

“In the Scriptures,” says Professor Stuart, “we might naturally expect to find the number twelve often introduced on account of the twelve tribes of Israel. Thus in Exodus 15:27, twelve. fountains of water at Elim; Exodus 24:4, twelve pillars around the altar; Leviticus 24:5, twelve cakes of showbread; Exodus 28:10; Exodus 28:21, twelve gems in the breastplate of the high priest; Numbers 7:3; Numbers 7:87; Numbers 29:17, offerings of different kinds by twelves; Numbers 7:84-87, various vessels to be made for the temple by twelves; Numbers 13:3, seq., twelve spies to the land of Canaan; Joshua 4:3, twelve stones from the Jordan, carried by twelve men and thrown into a monumental heap; 1 Kings 4:7; 1 Kings 4:26, twelve prefects of Solomon’s household, and twelve thousand horsemen; 1 Kings 7:25, twelve brazen oxen supporting the laver; 1 Kings 10:20, twelve brazen lions near the throne; Ezekiel 43:16, the altar twelve cubits long and broad; not to mention many other twelves. In the New Testament the twelve apostles take the lead. In the Apocalypse we have twelve thousand in each of the twelve tribes, who are sealed in the forehead as the servants of God. (Revelation 7:4, seq.) In Revelation 21:12, seq., we have an account of the New Jerusalem with twelve gates, (comp. Ezekiel 48:31, seq.,) and twelve angels to keep them, and the names of the twelve tribes are written on them; there are also twelve rows of stones in the foundation of the walls, on which the names of the twelve apostles are inscribed. Besides all this the city measures twelve thousand furlongs, and its walls are twelve times twelve cubits high.”

That our Saviour intended the number of his twelve apostles to symbolize with the twelve patriarchs, is, we think, clear, from the symbolical promise, that they should “sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.” Matthew 19:28. The same care for the preservation of the duodecimal number of patriarchal tribes reappears in the preservation of the apostolic number, by the election of Matthias in the place of Judas. That there is a divine idea in this, is evident from the symbolical usages in the Apocalypse. In Revelation 12:1, the woman that symbolizes the Church has upon her head a crown of twelve stars. And the tree of life, emblem of Gospel grace, has twelve manner of fruits; that is, a monthly harvest, thus combining therein a Mosaical and apostolic allusion.


Verse 15

15. Simon called Zelotes—See note on Matthew 10:4. The sect of Zealots consisted of a body of men who held it unlawful to submit to a foreign power, and hence were frequently rebellious to a bloody extent against the Roman dominion. The Sicarii or assassins, who appeared later in Jewish history, and were celebrated for a lawless use of the dagger, belonged to this sect. Van Oosterzee remarks “that while Matthew associates Judas Iscariot with this Simon Zelotes, Luke associates him with Jude brother of James.” This he thinks arose, not from a varying tradition, but from a varying practice of our Lord, who allowed not Judas always to retain the same companion for fear of his corrupting influence.


Verse 16

16. Judas the brother of James—See note on Matthew 10:3. This “was the man of three names.” His given name doubtless was Judah; his two surnames, Lebbeus and Thaddeus, were words of nearly the same meaning, signifying hearty or courageous.


Verse 20

20. Blessed be ye poor—From the fact that Luke in an abbreviated form furnishes a blessing upon the poor, (omitting the phrase in spirit as given by Matthew,) and a woe in Luke 6:24 upon the rich, it has been maintained by some that Luke, if not our Lord himself, belonged to a sect or class of men who held to the intrinsic sin of riches and merit of poverty. A body of heretics, under the name of Ebionites, arose very early in the Christian Church, formed of primitive Jews, who held our Lord to be a mere man, maintained the Jewish ritual, and asserted the great merit of absolute poverty. This sect developed itself early in the second century. Writers like Renan assert that Luke’s Gospel possesses, in passages like this, a strong Ebionitish tinge. But it is well known that Luke was associated intimately with St. Paul, who was the great champion against this very sort of Jewish ultraism, and whose doctrines were the opposite of Ebionitism. If, as we suppose, Luke received a share of the matter of the Peraean gospel from James the Lord’s brother, (see our notice of Luke, p. 2,) resident pastor or bishop of Jerusalem, it is very likely that the passages that seem to bear hard upon the pride of wealth were furnished by him. For, though no Ebionite, James was strongly Judaic and severely ascetic in his tendencies, as his Epistle shows. In the second place, to say that rich men are wicked, especially in a given age, and to say that wealth in itself is a sin, are very different things. It is the tendency indeed of wealth upon the depraved heart of man to produce an oppressive spirit. And there are times when, as a class, the rich are so utterly oppressors that the very term rich acquires a sameness of meaning with the term oppressive; and in such ages piety and rectitude may be so exclusively with the poor that the virtuous may be naturally designated by the term poor. Yet in the days of an Abraham or a Solomon, piety may dwell in the tents of the rich and in the palaces of the noble, while vice and degradation may prevail among the rustics and the rabble. Thus the rich may be in spirit poor, that is, virtuous; and the poor may be rich in feeling, that is, riotous and oppressive. In the days of Herod and of Jesus, though there were noble exceptions, such as Nicodemus, Joseph of Arimathea, and probably some in Herod’s household, to be rich and to be wicked were about the same thing. That this fact should appear in the very language of the Gospels is no indication of Ebionite tendencies.


Verses 20-49

§ 36. SERMON ON THE MOUNT, Luke 6:20-49.

Matthew 5:1Luke 7:29.

We assume without doubt, what Dr. Nast has at length well proved, that Luke here furnishes the same Sermon on the Mount with Matthew, being a briefer report and less nearly verbatim. The slight difference in arrangement of some of the parts is doubtless owing to the variation in the particular original oral tradition, which Luke may have for the first time reduced to writing, or have received in authentic written form.

In order to harmonize the arrangement of Luke’s report of the Sermon with that of Matthew we must read the verses in the following order: Luke 6:20-26, Luke 6:29-30; Luke 6:27-28; Luke 6:32-42. Luke 6:34-35 in Luke are additional matter.


Verses 24-26

24-26. We have no hesitation still to assume, as in the notes of the parallel passage in Matthew, that our Saviour pronounced for each Blessed an antithetical Woe, which Matthew wholly omits and Luke but partially supplies. And if these are two reports of the same discourse, then what we have noted in Matthew holds good, namely, that the limitation of the objects and sphere of both benedictions and woes are within the compass of religious things, it of course follows that the riches, the laughter, the fulness condemned by the woes, are things adverse in spirit to right and holiness. It is not riches or laughter in themselves, but the wantonness of spirit, the revelry of heart, in the spirit of a wicked and riotous age, against which our Lord threatens a future destitution and mourning.

The contrast between these blessings and woes coincides with the great antithesis between right and wrong, between religion and irreligion, between holiness and wickedness, between the kingdom of God and the kingdom of Satan, which must ever appear to the pure eye in the entire history, temporal and eternal, of God and man.

The term woe is indeed softer than the term cursed, pronounced by Jesus, as judge, in the sentence of the final day, in Matthew 25:41. This word woe blends compassion with judgment; for it is pronounced in the day of grace and mercy; yet it indicates a destiny as terrible and as irrevocable, though uttered in a tone of genuine pathos, as that final Depart ye cursed. From that unmitigated finality, though pronounced by the same lips, all pathos has departed; for the era of judgment without mercy has arrived.


Verse 26

26. All men. Of the use of the word men, see Matthew 10:17.


Verses 27-38

27-38. Christian laws of conciliation and benevolence. Matthew 5:38-48.


Verse 30

30. Give to every man that asketh of thee—Whether Jew, Samaritan, or Gentile. Let thy charity be bounded by no personal motives, and limited by nothing but the golden rule which immediately follows this precept.

Ask them not again—See note on Matthew 5:38.

Some commentators understand the phrase taketh away, in the Greek, to mean the expense of our charitable bestowments. In the paragraph 32-34 our Lord beautifully expands on the duties of the Christian to be better than anybody else. A Christian, says Cecil, if he be a shoemaker, should be the best shoemaker in the town. The assurance is given, in Luke 6:35, that of all these efforts to do eminent goodness, our reward shall be great.


Verse 39

39. ParableMatthew 15:14. This passage, like many others, our Lord may be supposed to have uttered on more than one occasion. It seems in the sermon on the mount to have come in after Matthew 7:20.


Verse 40

40. Disciple… master—A similar expression, but for a different purpose, occurs in Matthew 10:25. Here the inferiority of the servant is affirmed in regard to his moral perfection; there it is mentioned to show that the servant must expect persecutions as well as his master.


Verse 43-44

43, 44. Matthew 7:16-18.


Verse 45

45. See Matthew 12:35.


Verses 46-49

46-49.Matthew 7:21-29.

 


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Bibliography Information
Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Luke 6:4". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/luke-6.html. 1874-1909.

Lectionary Calendar
Saturday, October 19th, 2019
the Week of Proper 23 / Ordinary 28
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