Luke 6 Commentary


NOTE: This Verse by Verse Commentary page is part of an ongoing project to add notes to each verse of the Bible. Therefore many verses do not yet have notes, but if the Lord tarries and gives me breath, additions will follow in the future. The goal is to edify and equip you for the work of service (Eph 4:12-13-note) that the Lord God might be glorified in your life and in His Church. Amen (Isa 61:3b-note, Mt 5:16-note)

From Jensen's Survey of the NT by permission

Luke 6:1  Now it happened that He was passing through some grainfields on a Sabbath; and His disciples were picking the heads of grain, rubbing them in their hands, and eating the grain. (NASB95)

Constable's Summary - The beginning of controversy with the Pharisees Luke 5:12-6:11

  • Jesus' authority over the Sabbath Lk 6:1-5
  • Jesus' attitude toward the Sabbath Lk 6:6-11

John Hannah's Outline

    1. Controversy over Sabbath-work tradition  (Luke 6:1-5)
      1. The setting  (Luke 6:1)
      2. The question  (Luke 6:2)
      3. The answer  (Luke 6:3-5)
    2. Controversy over Sabbath-healing tradition  (Luke 6:6-11)
      1. The circumstance  (Luke 6:6)
      2. The charge  (Luke 6:7)
      3. The cure  (Luke 6:8-10)
      4. The hatred  (Luke 6:11)
  • The climax of the ministry of the Son of Man  (Luke 6:12-8:56)
    1. The call of the twelve  (Luke 6:12-16)
    2. The instruction of the disciples  (Luke 6:17-49)
      1. The setting  (Luke 6:17-19)
      2. The content  (Luke 6:20-49)
        1. Characteristics of those in His kingdom  (Luke 6:20-26)
        2. Practice of those in His kingdom  (Luke 6:27-45)
        3. Exhortation to those who consider Him  (Luke 6:46-49)

KJV  And it came to pass on the second sabbath after the first, that he went through the corn fields; and his disciples plucked the ears of corn, and did eat, rubbing them in their hands.

Parallel passages - Words in bold not found in Luke

Matthew 12:1 At that time (kairos = season, opportune time) Jesus went through the grainfields on the Sabbath, and His disciples became hungry and began to pick the heads of grain and eat. 

Mark 2:23 And it happened that He was passing through the grainfields on the Sabbath, and His disciples began to make their way along while picking the heads of grain. 

For context remember that from Lk 4:14-9:51 Luke's focus is on the Identification of Jesus as the Son of God and therefore miracles abound during His ministry which is centered in Galilee and lasts for approximately 18 months. 

Now it happened that He was passing through some grainfields on a Sabbath - Not one thing Jesus did was by accident or chance and this Sabbath encounter is no exception. This was a divinely ordained confrontation of the traditions of the pseudo-pious leaders. Matthew 12:1 uses the word  time (kairos) which speaks of an opportune time, much like our "window of opportunity." In other words, miss this time and you miss the "opportunity." (cf Believers like Jesus are called on to Redeem the Time) In this case of course the "opportunity" was the right place, right day, right actors, and so the stage was set for another confrontation between the Pharisees and Jesus (cf Luke's record of Jesus' first confrontation and note the same time phrase "and it came about one day" reflecting once again God's providence - Lk 5:17-21-note). It was the right "season" (kairos)  for a  "perfect storm" ordained by God Who is sovereign over His creation, even while allowing the creation (in this case the Pharisees) to question their Creator (Jesus)! Notice the irony here for the Hebrew word Sabbath means rest, but it is only by believing in the Person of Jesus that one can find true rest (cf Mt 11:28-30-note). There is no spiritual rest in external religious observances! Just as Jesus had taught in the Sermon on the Mount, keeping of external laws (and man-made traditions) could never bring true rest internally and righteousness that pleases Godl (cf Mt 5:6-note and Mt 5:20-note), for true righteousness comes from the heart of the one who places his or her faith in Christ Jesus our Rest! (cf Ro 10:9-10-note).

Now it happened - (egeneto, “it happened that”) is common in Luke (69 times)  and Acts (54 times)

Lk. 1:5,8,23,41,44,59,65; 2:1-2,6,13,15,42,46; 3:2,21; 4:25,36; 5:1,12,17; 6:1,6,12-13,16,49; 7:11; 8:1,22,24; 9:18,28-29,33-35,37,51; 10:21; 11:1,14,27,30; 13:19; 14:1; 15:14; 16:22; 17:11,14,26,28; 18:35; 19:9,15,29; 20:1; 22:14,24,44,66; 23:44; 24:4,15,19,21,30-31,51;

Acts 1:19; 2:2; 4:5; 5:5,7,11; 6:1; 7:13,29,31,40; 8:1,8; 9:3,19,32,37,42-43; 10:10,13,16,25; 11:10,26,28; 12:18; 14:1,5; 15:39; 16:16,26; 19:1,10,17,23,34; 20:3,37; 21:1,5,30,35; 22:6,17; 23:7,9; 27:27,39,42,44; 28:8,17

Grainfields (4702)(sporimos from speiro = to sow) is an adjective (in neuter plural =  tá spórima) which pertains to being sown and thus means sown fields, fields of growing grain (Three times in the NT  = Mt. 12:1; Mark 2:23; Luke 6:1 and in the Septuagint only in Gen. 1:29 - twice and Lev. 11:37).

The grain is most likely either wheat or barley and since it was ripe enough to eat, this event probably occurred in either spring or summer.

On a Sabbath - God's perfect timing (see Providence of God) for a confrontation between those who were self-righteous or righteous in their own eyes and the only One truly Righteous in God's eyes - This phrase on a Sabbath is found in Matt. 12:2; Matt. 24:20; Lk. 6:1; Lk. 14:5. Click here for lengthy discussion of the Sabbath in the commentary on Leviticus 23:3. 

Robertson reminds us that this is Jesus' second Sabbath confrontation in the Gospel of Luke - The first was Luke 4:31-41. There was another in John 5:1-47.

Daniel Block explains that "This is the second of six key Sabbath day events in Luke (Luke 4:31; 6:1-2, 7-9; 13:10-16; 14:1-5). Luke-Acts has 29 of the 68 NT uses. This seventh day of the week was the weekly day of rest and worship for Jews. It with circumcision comprised two of the major distinctive markers of Judaism (clean and unclean food was a third key marker with worship at a single temple as the fourth). The setting apart of the day goes back to the OT (Ex. 23:12; Dt. 5:13-14). The day was held in such high regard in later Judaism, that it was said the day would be observed in hell (b Sanh 65b) and that Messiah would come if Israel kept two Sabbaths perfectly (b Shab 188b)."

Warren Wiersbe has an excellent background summary on the Sabbath -  The sanctity of the seventh day was a distinctive part of the Jewish faith. God gave Israel the Sabbath law at Sinai (Neh. 9:13-14) and made it a sign between Him and the nation (Ex. 20:8-11; 31:12-17). The word Sabbath means "rest" and is linked with God's cessation of work after the six days of Creation (Gen. 2:2-3). Some of the rabbis taught that Messiah could not come until Israel had perfectly kept the Sabbath, so obeying this law was very important both personally and nationally. To call Sunday "the Sabbath" is to confuse the first day and the seventh day and what each signifies. The Sabbath is a reminder of the completion of "the old Creation," while the Lord's Day is a reminder of our Lord's finished work in "the new Creation" (2 Cor. 5:21; Eph. 2:10; 4:24). The Sabbath speaks of rest after work and relates to the Law, while the Lord's Day speaks of rest before work and relates to grace. The Lord's Day commemorates the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead as well as the coming of the Holy Spirit and the "birthday" of the church (Acts 2). The early church met on the first day of the week (Acts 20:7; 1 Cor. 16:1-2). However, some Jewish believers kept the Sabbath, and this sometimes led to division. Paul addressed this problem in Romans 14:1-15:13 where he gave principles to promote both liberty and unity in the church. But Paul always made it clear that observing special days had nothing to do with salvation (Gal. 4:1-11; Col. 2:8-17). We are not saved from sin by faith in Christ plus keeping the Sabbath. We are saved by faith in Christ alone. By their strict and oppressive rules, the Pharisees and scribes had turned the Sabbath Day into a burden instead of the blessing God meant it to be, and Jesus challenged both their doctrine and their authority. He had announced a new "Year of Jubilee" (Luke 4:19), and now He would declare a new Sabbath. He had already healed a lame man on the Sabbath, and the religious leaders had determined to kill Him (John 5:18; also John 5:16). Now He was to violate their Sabbath laws on two more occasions. (The Bible Exposition Commentary – New Testament, Volume 1)

Sabbath = The Sabbath day (Sabbath is from a verb meaning “to cease, ““to desist,” or “to rest” cf. Ge. 2:2) was given to the Jews after they came out of Egypt (Ex. 20:8-11; Neh. 9:14) and was a special sign between Jehovah and His chosen people (Ex 31:13-17). It was to be a day of rest, refreshment, and worship for God's people. It was also a covenant sign indicative of Jehovah's authority in the nation of Israel. No other nation was given a Sabbath (cf Ps 147:19-20). When Israel kept the Sabbath, they showed the pagan nations that they were a distinctive people and were subject to their God. Keeping Sabbath was in a sense a way of demonstrating Israel's trust in God, trusting that He would honor their labors with fruit. We may plant the seeds and water them, but it is God who gives the increase (1 Cor 3:6). But the Jews had begun to cherish the Sabbath as a religious ritual. Jesus is in a sense "declaring war" on the religious establishment which worshiped the Sabbath but not necessarily the God of the Sabbath. 

John MacArthur on the endless number of Sabbath rules - "The Talmud devotes twenty-four chapters to Sabbath regulations, describing in painfully exhaustive detail what was and was not permitted to be done. The result was a ridiculously complex system of external behavior restraints—so much so that one rabbi spent two and a half years studying just one of the twenty-four chapters. For example, traveling more than 3,000 feet from home was forbidden. But if one had placed food at the 3,000 foot point before the Sabbath, that point would then be considered a home, since there was food there, and allow another 3,000 feet of travel. Similarly, a piece of wood or a rope placed across the end of a narrow street or alley constituted a doorway. That could then be considered the front door of one’s house, and permit the 3,000 feet of travel to begin there. There were also regulations about carrying items. Something lifted up in a public place could only be set down in a private place, and vice versa. An object tossed into the air could be caught with the same hand, but if it was caught with the other hand, it would be a Sabbath violation. If a person had reached out to pick up food when the Sabbath began, the food had to be dropped; to bring the arm back while holding the food would be to carry a burden on the Sabbath. It was forbidden to carry anything heavier than a dried fig (though something weighing half as much could be carried two times). A tailor could not carry his needle, a scribe his pen, or a student his books. Only enough ink to write two letters (of the alphabet) could be carried. A letter could not be sent, not even with a non-Jew. Clothes could not be examined or shaken out before being put on because an insect might be killed in the process, which would be work. No fire could be lit, or put out. Cold water could be poured into warm water, but not warm into cold. An egg could not be cooked, not even by placing it in hot sand during the summer. Nothing could be sold or bought. Bathing was forbidden, lest water be spilled on the floor and wash it. Moving a chair was not allowed, since it might make a rut in a dirt floor, which was too much like plowing. Women were forbidden to look in a mirror, since if they saw a white hair, they might be tempted to pull it out. Other forbidden things included sowing, plowing, reaping, binding sheaves, threshing, winnowing, grinding, kneading, baking, shearing, washing, beating, dyeing, or spinning wool, tying or untying a knot, catching, killing, or skinning a deer, salting its meat, or preparing its skin....It was to people crushed by the unbearable burden (Matt. 23:4; Luke 11:46; Acts 15:10) of manmade, legalistic regulations that the Lord Jesus Christ said, “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light” (Matt. 11:28-30-note). (MacArthur New Testament Commentary – Luke 6-10)

Alfred Edersheim has a lengthy discussion on the man-made rules that were to be followed on the Sabbath, writing "The terribly exaggerated views of the Rabbis, and their endless, burdensome rules about the Sabbath may best be learned from a brief analysis of the Mishnah, as further explained and enlarged in the Jerusalem Talmud. [6476] For this purpose a brief analysis of what is, confessedly, one of the most difficult tractates may here be given." (See Appendix xvii. The Ordinances and Law of the Sabbath as Laid Down in the Mishnah and the Jerusalem Talmud)

See word study on the Hebrew word for Sabbath (07676) which is sabbat which derives from the verb shabath (07673) meaning to desist (from exertion), cease (see this use of the verb in Ge 8:22, Jer 31:36-note), rest (first used of God resting in Creation - Ge 2:2-3), repose, cease from labor. So here the noun form sabbat means intermission, the Sabbath (day), the day of rest, the holy seventh day; a week, the sacred 7th year, a sabbatical year. It was not until the giving of the Law at Mt Sinai that the keeping of the Sabbath became a part of the law and a sign of God's covenant relationship with His people (Ex 20:8-11 Ex 31:12-17).

Related Resources on Sabbath:

His disciples were picking the heads of grain, rubbing them in their hands, and eating the grain - Matthew adds they became hungry (Mt 12:1). This was permitted by the Law but on the Sabbath it was interpreted as work in the eyes of these legalistic hypo-critics. Here is the OT declaration and there is no mention of a Sabbath restriction provided one did not fill a vessel or use a harvesting implement....

When you enter your neighbor’s vineyard, then you may eat grapes until you are fully satisfied, but you shall not put any in your basket. “When you enter your neighbor’s standing grain, then you may pluck the heads with your hand, but you shall not wield a sickle in your neighbor’s standing grain. (Dt. 23:24-25)

What the Bible teaches -  Sabbath-keeping was a major part of the external religion of the Jews. The sabbath regulations were so detailed that the rabbis gave a large part of the Mishnah to it and scribes spent long periods of their lives studying every minute detail of its restrictions. The Mishnah was a six part collection of traditions written in Hebrew about the end of the second century, but containing material from a much earlier period. In it, the Scripture, "Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy" (Ex 20:8) was not a simple statement about setting aside this day for holy things. For law-keeping Jews, there was a frantic need to know a mountain of traditional regulations concerning it and a constant dread lest some minor infraction of an unknown rule might bring divine disfavour on their heads. It was unlawful to harvest or thresh grain on the sabbath day, but the rabbis had extended this to mean that even plucking grain and rubbing it in the hands to get rid of the chaff so it could be eaten was harvesting and threshing. They had even prescribed the amount that could be plucked and eaten on the Sabbath; it need be no larger than the size of a dried fig to convict a sabbath-breaker.This was a law of the rabbis, not a law of Moses. God through Moses had made allowance for hungry travelers, Dt 23:25...

Deuteronomy 23:25 “When you enter your neighbor’s standing grain, then you may pluck the heads with your hand, but you shall not wield a sickle in your neighbor’s standing grain. 

Comment: Notice Moses said nothing about not doing this on the Sabbath!

Disciples (3101)(mathetes from manthano = to learn which Vine says is "from a root math, indicating thought accompanied by endeavor". Gives us our English = "mathematics") describes a person who learns from another by instruction, whether formal or informal. Discipleship includes the idea of one who intentionally learns by inquiry and observation (cf inductive Bible study) and thus mathetes is more than a mere pupil. A mathetes describes an adherent of a teacher. 

Picking - The imperfect tense pictures them repeatedly plucking heads of grain as they walked through the grain field. In classical Greek the word is used mostly of pulling out hair or feathers.

Vincent on the parallel passage in Mk 2:23 on began to make their way along while picking the headsLit., began to make a way plucking the ears. This does not mean that the disciples broke a way for themselves through the standing corn by plucking the ears, for in that event they would have been compelled to break down the stalks. ...The offence given the Pharisees was the preparation, of food on the Sabbath. Matthew says to eat, stating the motive, and Luke, rubbing with their hands, describing the act. 

Rubbing them in their hands - This is recorded only by Luke and is a significant fact as the Pharisees interpreted this as performing work on the Sabbath. 

Robertson on rubbing in their hands - "This was one of the chief offences. "According to Rabbinical notions, it was reaping, threshing, winnowing, and preparing food all at once" (Plummer). These Pharisees were straining out gnats and swallowing camels!

MacArthur the disciples were guilty in the eyes of the Pharisees of reaping (picking the grain), threshing (rubbing the husks together to separate them from the grain), and winnowing (throwing the husks away), and thus preparing food. (MacArthur New Testament Commentary – Luke 6-10)

NET Note: Or “heads of grain.” While the generic term stachus can refer to the cluster of seeds at the top of grain such as barley or wheat, in the NT the term is restricted to wheat.

ILLUSTRATION Captain Eddie Rickenbacker and seven crew members ditched their plane into the Pacific Ocean on October 21, 1942, and found themselves stranded on three rafts with no water and only four oranges. Tying their boats together, they drifted day after day without food or water, sometimes delirious, tortured by the relentless sun, and constantly encircled by the triangular dorsal fins of sharks.

What followed is one of the most incredible stories of our time. "If it weren't for the fact that I had seven witnesses," Rickenbacker later said, "I wouldn't dare tell this story because it seems so fantastic." The men credited their amazing survival to something in the pocket of Private Johnny Bartek. It was a pocket-sized, khaki-bound New Testament with a zipper arrangement that made it waterproof.

From the beginning, Bartek, a devoted Bible student, maintained his morning and evening devotions. All the men began joining him. Starting in Matthew's Gospel, they soon came to Mt 6:31-34. It immediately became their hope, inspiration, and prayer.

Matthew 6:31-34... Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? [32] (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. [33] But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. [34] Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.

This passage was like an anchor for these men floating at sea. As the men read those verses day after day, provisions arrived in the nick of time and in very bizarre ways. Just when they were near starvation, for example, a bird would inexplicably land on Rickenbacker's head and they would grab it, carve it up for food, and use its innards for fishing bait. Just when they were near death by thirst, a cloud would drift over and fill their raft with drinking water.

Later, one of the men, Lieutenant James Whittaker, wrote a best-selling account of the ordeal entitled We Thought We Heard the Angels Sing, in which he described finding faith in the Lord Jesus Christ during those 21 never-to-be-forgotten days. Whittaker said, "I don't think there was a man of us who didn't thank God for that little khaki-covered book. It led us to prayer and prayer led us to safety."

Thank God we have a Lord who can satisfy our cravings! His love squelches our loneliness. His serenity smothers our sadness. His fulness leaves us full and satisfied. (Rod Mattoon - Mattoon's Treasures from Luke, Volume 1)

Luke 6:2  But some of the Pharisees said, "Why do you do what is not lawful on the Sabbath?"

KJV Luke 6:2  And certain of the Pharisees said unto them, Why do ye that which is not lawful to do on the sabbath days?


Parallel passages - Words in bold not found in Luke

Matthew 12:2 But when the Pharisees saw this, they said to Him, “Look, Your disciples do what is not lawful to do on a Sabbath.” 

Mark 2:24 The Pharisees were saying to (imperfect tense = over and over they were questioning) Him, “Look, why are they doing what is not lawful on the Sabbath?” 

But some of the Pharisees said - As Mk 2:24 says they were questioning Jesus again and again. You can almost hear them prattle on! 

WiersbeAlways alert for something to criticize, some of the Pharisees asked Jesus why He permitted His disciples to violate the Sabbath laws. This was His second offense, and they were sure they had a case against Him. How tragic that their slavish devotion to religious rules blinded them to the true ministry of the Law as well as the very presence of the Lord who gave them the Law. (Ibid)

Pharisees (5330)(pharisaios) is transliterated from the Hebrew parash (06567 - to separate) from Aramaic word peras  (06537) ("Peres" in Da 5:28-note), signifying to separate, owing to a different manner of life from that of the general public. After the resettling of the Jewish people in Judea on their return from the Babylonian captivity, there were two religious groups among them. One party contented themselves with following only what was written in the Law of Moses. These were called Zadikim, the righteous. The other group added the constitutions and traditions of the elders, as well as other rigorous observances, to the Law and voluntarily complied with them. They were called Chasidim or the pious. From the Zadikim the sects of the Sadducees and Karaites were derived. From the Chasidim were derived the Pharisees and the Essenes. In 1 Macc 2:42RSV, among the persons who joined Mattathias against Antiochus IV (Epiphanes), about 167 b.c., are named the Asideans (Asidaíoi), who are described as voluntarily devoted to the law. The Asideans are mentioned also in 1 Macc 7:13RSV; 2 Macc14:6RSV. In the time of our Lord, the Pharisees were the separatists of their day, as well as the principal sect among the Jews. The Pharisees considered themselves much holier than the common people (Lu 18:11, 12). They wore special garments to distinguish themselves from others. PRINCIPLE TENETS OF PHARISEES: In opposition to those of the Sadducees, and the former group maintained the existence of angels and spirits and the doctrine of the resurrection (Acts 23:8), which the latter party denied (Mt 22:23; Mk 12:18; Lu 20:27). The Pharisees made everything dependent upon God and fate (Josephus, The Jewish Wars, ii.8.14). However, they did not deny the role of the human will in affecting events (Josephus, Antiquities, xviii.1.3). ZEAL FOR TRADITION: The Pharisees distinguished themselves with their zeal for the traditions of the elders, which they taught was derived from the same fountain as the written Word itself, claiming both to have been delivered to Moses on Mount Sinai (Mt 15:1-6; Mk 7:3-5). See also parádosis (3862), tradition, and éntalma (1778), a religious precept versus entole (1785), commandment. (See more detailed notes from William Barclay)

Pharisees in the Gospel of Luke and Acts 

Lk. 5:17; Lk. 5:21; Lk. 5:30; Lk. 5:33; Lk. 6:2; Lk. 6:7; Lk. 7:30; Lk. 7:36; Lk. 7:37; Lk. 7:39; Lk. 11:37; Lk. 11:38; Lk. 11:39; Lk. 11:42; Lk. 11:43; Lk. 11:53; Lk. 12:1; Lk. 13:31; Lk. 14:1; Lk. 14:3; Lk. 15:2; Lk. 16:14; Lk. 17:20; Lk. 18:10; Lk. 18:11; Lk. 19:39;  Acts 5:34; Acts 15:5; Acts 23:6; Acts 23:7; Acts 23:8; Acts 23:9; Acts 26:5; Phil. 3:5

Resources on Pharisees 

Why do you do what is not lawful on the Sabbath? - The Pharisees and Scribes had turned the Sabbath Day into a burden instead of the blessing God meant it to be for the people. Steeped in their man-made laws and regulations, they saw this as unlawful although God had not stated it was unlawful. In fact it was lawful to pick grain from another's field to satisfy hunger (Deut. 23:25). The charge is again indirectly made against Jesus by charging the disciples falsely of working on the Sabbath. 

Robert SteinIn Matthew and Mark, Jesus was attacked indirectly through the actions of his disciples. Luke, however, sought to show that the attack was ultimately directed against Jesus, for a teacher could be called into account for the behavior of his disciples. Thus the “you,” which is plural, included Jesus along with his disciples. The reverence for the Sabbath among Jews can be seen in such writings as 1 Macc 2:32–41; 2 Macc 15:1–5; Jubilees 2:19ff; Fragments of a Zadokite Work 13:22–27; CD 11:13ff. The Pharisaic interpretation of plucking grain as work may be reflected in S abbat 7:2. Whether or not this was a valid interpretation of the OT teachings is not pursued in the account (although note Matt 12:5–7) because the issue for Luke was not hermeneutical but Christological. (New American Commentary – Volume 24: Luke)

What the Bible Teaches - they did not break the Sabbath, for the simple preparation of a meal was not unlawful. At the institution of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, Moses was told by God regarding Sabbaths, "On the first day you shall have a holy assembly, and another holy assembly on the seventh day; no work at all shall be done on them, EXCEPT what must be eaten by every person, that alone may be prepared by you." (Ex 12:16).

Robertson on why it was not lawful on the Sabbath - These critics are now watching a chance and they jump at this violation of their Pharisaic rules for Sabbath observance. The disciples were plucking the heads of wheat which to the Pharisees was REAPING and were rubbing them in their hands (Luke 6:1) which was THRESHING.

Edersheim on why it was not lawful on the Sabbath - On any ordinary day this would have been lawful; but on the Sabbath it involved, according to the Rabbinic statutes, at least two sins, viz., plucking the ears, which was reaping, and rubbing them in their hands (Luke 6:1), which was sifting, grinding, or fanning. The Talmud says: 'In case a woman rolls wheat to remove the husks, it is considered as sifting; if she rubs the heads of wheat, it is regarded as threshing; if she cleans off the side-adherencies, it is sifting out fruit; if she bruises the ears, it is grinding; if she throws them up in her hand, it is winnowing'" (Life and Times of Jesus)

Lawful (1832)(exesti from from ek = out + eimí = to be)   is an impersonal verb, signifying "it is permitted, it is lawful" (or interrogatively, "is it lawful?"). Exesti occurs most frequently in the synoptic Gospels and the Acts, especially in Jesus' conflicts with the Pharisees over His actions (and those of His disciples) on the Sabbath (Matt. 12:2; 12:4; 12:10; 12:12, etc). 

BDAG - 1. to be authorized for the doing of something - it is right, is authorized, is permitted, is proper. 2. to be within the range of possibility, it is possible (Acts 2:29)

Friberg notes exesti is an impersonal verb; (1) as denoting that there are no hindrances to an action or that the opportunity for it occurs it is possible, followed by an infinitive ( Acts 2.29); (2) predominately as denoting that an action is not prevented by a higher court or by law it is permitted, it is lawful, it may be done (Mk 10.2) (Analytical Lexicon)

TDNT on exesti “It is free,” denoting a. an action that is possible because there is occasion for it or no obstacle to it, b. an action that is not prevented by a higher norm or court, and c. an action to which there is no psychological or ethical block. In the NT the term mostly refers to God’s law or will with its specific demands, especially the OT law.

Exesti - lawful(26), may(3), permissible(1), permitted(2).

Matt. 12:2; Matt. 12:4; Matt. 12:10; Matt. 12:12; Matt. 14:4; Matt. 19:3; Matt. 20:15; Matt. 22:17; Matt. 27:6; Mk. 2:24; Mk. 2:26; Mk. 3:4; Mk. 6:18; Mk. 10:2; Mk. 12:14; Lk. 6:2; Lk. 6:4; Lk. 6:9; Lk. 14:3; Lk. 20:22; Jn. 5:10; Jn. 18:31; Acts 2:29; Acts 8:37; Acts 16:21; Acts 21:37; Acts 22:25; 1 Co. 6:12; 1 Co. 10:23; 2 Co. 12:4

Exesti is used only 3 times in the Septuagint - Ezra 4:14 (""it is not fitting"), Esther 4:2 ("no one was [permitted] to enter the king's gate wearing sackcloth and ashes"), Eshter 8:12.

Rod Mattoon - On the Sabbath day, work, such as reaping, threshing, winnowing, and preparing food was forbidden. The disciples were considered guilty of doing all these things. By plucking the grain, the disciples were guilty of reaping, and by rubbing it in their hands, they were guilty of threshing. When they flung the husks away, they were winnowing and when they ate the grain, they prepared food for consumption. The Pharisees were very strict. Such actions by the disciples were considered a sin that could invoke the death penalty. (Treasures from Luke, Volume 1)

NET Note: Pharisees were members of one of the most important and influential religious and political parties of Judaism in the time of Jesus. There were more Pharisees than Sadducees (according to Josephus, Ant. 17.2.4 [17.42] there were more than 6,000 Pharisees at about this time). Pharisees differed with Sadducees on certain doctrines and patterns of behavior. The Pharisees were strict and zealous adherents to the laws of the OT and to numerous additional traditions such as angels and bodily resurrection.

Barclay's additional notes on the Pharisees and the ministry of Jesus - If we are to understand what happened to Jesus we must understand something about the Law, and the relationship of the scribes and the Pharisees to it. When the Jews returned from Babylon about 440 b.c. they knew well that, humanly speaking, their hopes of national greatness were gone. They therefore deliberately decided that they would find their greatness in being a people of the law. They would bend all their energies to knowing and keeping God’s law.

The basis of the law was the Ten Commandments. These commandments are principles for life. They are not rules and regulations; they do not legislate for each event and for every circumstance. For a certain section of the Jews that was not enough. They desired not great principles but a rule to cover every conceivable situation. From the Ten Commandments they proceeded to develop and elaborate these rules.

Let us take an example. The commandment says, “Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy”; and then goes on to lay it down that on the Sabbath no work must be done (Exodus 20:8–11). But the Jews asked, “What is work?” and went on to define it under thirty-nine different heads which they called “Fathers of Work.” Even that was not enough. Each of these heads was greatly sub-divided. Thousands of rules and regulations began to emerge. These were called the Oral Law, and they began to be set even above the Ten Commandments.

Again, let us take an actual example. One of the works forbidden on the Sabbath was carrying a burden. Jeremiah 17:21–24 says, “Take heed for the sake of your lives, and do not bear a burden on the Sabbath day.” But, the legalists insisted, a burden must be defined. So definition was given. A burden is “food equal in weight to a dried fig, enough wine for mixing in a goblet, milk enough for one swallow, oil enough to anoint a small member, water enough to moisten an eye-salve, paper enough to write a custom-house notice upon, ink enough to write two letters, reed enough to make a pen” … and so on endlessly. So for a tailor to leave a pin or needle in his robe on the Sabbath was to break the law and to sin; to pick up a stone big enough to fling at a bird on the Sabbath was to sin. Goodness became identified with these endless rules and regulations.
Let us take another example. To heal on the Sabbath was to work. It was laid down that only if life was in actual danger could healing be done; and then steps could be taken only to keep the sufferer from getting worse, not to improve his condition. A plain bandage could be put on a wound, but not any ointment; plain wadding could be put into a sore ear, but not medicated. It is easy to see that there was no limit to this.

The scribes were the experts in the law who knew all these rules and regulations, and who deduced them from the law. The name Pharisee means “The Separated One”; and the Pharisees were those who had separated themselves from ordinary people and ordinary life in order to keep these rules and regulations. Note two things. First, for the scribes and Pharisees these rules were a matter of life and death; to break one of them was deadly sin. Second, only people desperately in earnest would ever have tried to keep them, for they must have made life supremely uncomfortable. It was only the best people who would even make the attempt.

Jesus had no use for rules and regulations like that. For him, the cry of human need superseded all such things. But to the scribes and Pharisees he was a law-breaker, a bad man who broke the law and taught others to do the same. That is why they hated him and in the end killed him. The tragedy of the life of Jesus was that those who were most in earnest about their religion drove him to the Cross. It was the irony of things that the best people of the day ultimately crucified him. From this time on there was to be no rest for him. Always he was to be under the scrutiny of hostile and critical eyes. The opposition had crystallized and there was but one end. Jesus knew this and before he met the opposition he withdrew to pray. The love in the eyes of God compensated him for the hate in the eyes of men. The approval of God nerved him to meet the criticism of men. He drew strength for the battle of life from the peace of God—and it is enough for the disciple that he should be as his Lord.

Here is another description of the Pharisees by Barclay - In many ways the Pharisees were the best people in the whole country. There were never more than 6,000 of them; they were what was known as a chaburah, or brotherhood. They entered into this brotherhood by taking a pledge in front of three witnesses that they would spend all their lives observing every detail of the scribal law. What exactly did that mean? To the Jew the Law was the most sacred thing in all the world. The Law was the first five books of the Old Testament. They believed it to be the perfect word of God. To add one word to it or to take one word away from it was a deadly sin. Now if the Law is the perfect and complete word of God, that must mean that it contained everything a man need know for the living of a good life, if not explicitly, then implicitly. If it was not there is so many words, it must be possible to deduce it. The Law as it stood consisted of great, wide, noble principles which a man had to work out for himself. But for the later Jews that was not enough. They said: “The Law is complete; it contains everything necessary for the living of a good life; therefore in the Law there must be a regulation to govern every possible incident in every possible moment for every possible man.” So they set out to extract from the great principles of the law an infinite number of rules and regulations to govern every conceivable situation in life. In other words they changed the law of the great principles into the legalism of by-laws and regulations. The best example of what they did is to be seen in the Sabbath law. In the Bible itself we are simply told that we must remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy and that on that day no work must be done, either by a man or by his servants or his animals. Not content with that, the later Jews spent hour after hour and generation after generation defining what work is and listing the things that may and may not be done on the Sabbath day. The Mishnah is the codified scribal law. The scribes spent their lives working out these rules and regulations. In the Mishnah the section on the Sabbath extends to no fewer than twenty-four chapters. The Talmud is the explanatory commentary on the Mishnah, and in the Jerusalem Talmud the section explaining the Sabbath law runs to sixty-four and a half columns; and in the Babylonian Talmud it runs to one hundred and fifty-six double folio pages. And we are told about a rabbi who spent two and a half years in studying one of the twenty-four chapters of the MishnahThe kind of thing they did was this. To tie a knot on the Sabbath was to work; but a knot had to be defined. “The following are the knots the making of which renders a man guilty; the knot of camel drivers and that of sailors; and as one is guilty by reason of tying them, so also of untying them.” On the other hand knots which could be tied or untied with one hand were quite legal. Further, “a woman may tie up a slit in her shift and the strings of her cap and those of her girdle, the straps of shoes or sandals, of skins of wine and oil.” Now see what happened. Suppose a man wished to let down a bucket into a well to draw water on the Sabbath day. He could not tie a rope to it, for a knot on a rope was illegal on the Sabbath; but he could tie it to a woman’s girdle and let it down, for a knot in a girdle was quite legal. That was the kind of thing which to the scribes and Pharisees was a matter of life and death; that was religion; that to them was pleasing and serving God. Take the case of journeying on the Sabbath. Ex 16:29 says: “Remain every man of you in his place; let no man go out of his place on the seventh day.” A Sabbath day’s journey was therefore limited to two thousand cubits, that is, one thousand yards. But, if a rope was tied across the end of a street, the whole street became one house and a man could go a thousand yards beyond the end of the street. Or, if a man deposited enough food for one meal on Friday evening at any given place, that place technically became his house and he could go a thousand yards beyond it on the Sabbath day. The rules and regulations and the evasions piled up by the hundred and the thousand. Take the case of carrying a burden. Jeremiah 17:21–24 said: “Take heed for the sake of your lives and do not bear a burden on the Sabbath day.” So a burden had to be defined. It was defined as “food equal in weight to a dried fig, enough wine for mixing in a goblet, milk enough for one swallow, honey enough to put upon a wound, oil enough to anoint a small member, water enough to moisten an eye-salve,” and so on and on. It had then to be settled whether or not on the Sabbath a woman could wear a brooch, a man could wear a wooden leg or dentures; or would it be carrying a burden to do so? Could a chair or even a child be lifted? And so on and on the discussions and the regulations went.
It was the scribes who worked out these regulations; it was the Pharisees who dedicated their lives to keeping them. Obviously, however misguided a man might be, he must be desperately in earnest if he proposed to undertake obedience to every one of the thousands of rules. That is precisely what the Pharisees did. The name Pharisee means the Separated One; and the Pharisees were those who had separated themselves from all ordinary life in order to keep every detail of the law of the scribes. (Daily Study Bible)

Luke 6:3  And Jesus answering them said, "Have you not even read what David did when he was hungry, he and those who were with him,

KJV Luke 6:3 And Jesus answering them said, Have ye not read so much as this, what David did, when himself was an hungred, and they which were with him;


Parallel passages 

Matthew 12:3 But He said to them, “Have you not read what David did when he became hungry, he and his companions

Mark 2:25 And He said to them, “Have you never read what David did when he was in need and he and his companions became hungry; 

And Jesus answering them said - Notice how Jesus appeals to the Scripture to refute their human regulations! See below for the passage Jesus referenced. "What saith the Lord" (in His Word) is always a good pattern to imitate when we are have "theological disagreements" with "religious" folks!

Have you not even read - Don't you love the subtle way Jesus rebukes the religious hypocrites? He uses a "counter question" (as in Lk 5:23-note, Lk 10:26, 20:3-4, 24), which is clearly a rhetorical device He frequently used, for He knew they had read the story of David (cf other similar rhetorical rebukes of religionists by Jesus - Mt 19:4, Mt 21:16, 42, Mt 22:31, Mk 12:10). Their problem was not in the (head) reading, but in the (heart) understanding! O, thank God believers have the Author of the holy Word living inside them to give them understanding of the supernatural Word, which natural men simply cannot understand, for as Paul wrote "a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for (term of explanation - What does Paul explain?) they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because (term of explanation - what does Paul explain?) they are spiritually appraised." (1 Cor 2:14-note) (See related topic - Illumination of the Bible)

Stein The account in 1 Sam 21:1–6 does not mention that this took place on a Sabbath, but the issue was not so much the day or the need but Jesus’ authority, which extends over even the Sabbath. If David was free of the restraints of the law on that occasion, how much more is the Son of Man. (Ibid)

NET Note: The alleged violation expressed by the phrase what is against the law is performing work on the Sabbath. That the disciples ate from such a field is no problem given Deut 23:25, but Sabbath activity is another matter in the leaders’ view (Ex 20:8–11 and Mishnah, m. Shabbat 7.2). The supposed violation involved reaping, threshing, winnowing, and preparing food. This probably explains why the clause describing the disciples “rubbing” the heads of grain in their hands is mentioned last, in emphatic position. This was preparation of food.

WiersbeGod is more concerned about meeting human needs than He is about protecting religious rules. Better that David and his men receive strength to serve God than that they perish only for the sake of a temporary law. God desires compassion, not sacrifice (Matt. 12:7, quoting Hosea 6:6). Thmattheddde Pharisees, of course, had a different view of the Law (Matt. 23:23).

Was hungry (3983)(peinao from peín = hunger) means to feel the pangs of lack of food. The majority of the NT uses speak of literal hunger. Jesus elevated feeding the hungry to high level in His teaching in Mt 25:35, 37, 42, 44.

What David did - "To the Pharisees' objections Jesus quoted an OT example of the spirit of the law taking priority over the letter of the law" (Ryrie)

Then David came to Nob to Ahimelech the priest; and Ahimelech came trembling to meet David and said to him, “Why are you alone and no one with you?” 2 David said to Ahimelech the priest, “The king has commissioned me with a matter and has said to me, ‘Let no one know anything about the matter on which I am sending you and with which I have commissioned you; and I have directed the young men to a certain place.’ 3 “Now therefore, what do you have on hand? Give me five loaves of bread, or whatever can be found.” 4 The priest answered David and said, “There is no ordinary bread on hand, but there is consecrated bread; if only the young men have kept themselves from women.” 5 David answered the priest and said to him, “Surely women have been kept from us as previously when I set out and the vessels of the young men were holy, though it was an ordinary journey; how much more then today will their vessels be holy?” 6 So the priest gave him consecrated bread; for there was no bread there but the bread of the Presence which was removed from before the LORD, in order to put hot bread in its place when it was taken away (See Leviticus 24:5-9-note, cf Ex. 25:23-30).  (1 Sa 21:1-6)

MacArthur has an added note on David's eating the bread usually eaten only by the priests - Ahimelech sought the Lord and received approval (1 Sa 22:10) when he recognized that his spiritual obligation to preserve David's life superseded the ceremonial regulation concerning who could eat the consecrated bread. (The MacArthur Study Bible)

Comment - Notice that David broke a definite law given by Moses, for the consecrated bread was meant to be eaten only by the priests (Lev. 24:5-9), but Jesus' disciples had violated only a man-made rule!

Luke 6:4  how he entered the house of God, and took and ate the consecrated bread which is not lawful for any to eat except the priests alone, and gave it to his companions?"

KJV Luke 6:4 How he went into the house of God, and did take and eat the shewbread, and gave also to them that were with him; which it is not lawful to eat but for the priests alone?

Parallel passages - Words in bold not found in Luke

Matthew 12:4 how he entered the house of God, and they ate the consecrated bread, which was not lawful for him to eat nor for those with him, but for the priests alone? 5 “Or have you not read in the Law, that on the Sabbath the priests in the temple break the Sabbath and are innocent? (Jesus' point here is that the priests still had to do the WORK associated with the daily sacrifices. The point is that "some aspects of the Sabbath restrictions are not inviolable moral absolutes, but rather precepts pertaining to the ceremonial features of the law" - MacArthur) 6 “But I say to you that something greater than the temple is here. (Really some One greater! God in the flesh. This is an indirect but very clear claim of His deity!) 7 “But if you had known what this means, ‘I DESIRE COMPASSION, AND NOT A SACRIFICE,’ (quoting Hos 6:6, quoted earlier by Jesus in Mt 9:13 - the Sabbath was a reflection of divine compassion for it gave man and beast needed rest each week!) you would not have condemned the innocent.

Wiersbe comments - When you read Matthew's account of this event, you note that Jesus gave three arguments to defend His disciples: what David did (Matt. 12:3-4), what the priests did (Matt. 12:5-6), and what the Prophet Hosea said (Matt. 12:7-8).

Mark 2:26 how he entered the house of God in the time of Abiathar the high priest, and ate the consecrated bread, which is not lawful for anyone to eat except the priests, and he also gave it to those who were with him?” 27 Jesus said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath.


The consecrated bread - This refers to the "consecrated bread of the Presence,"   12 loaves (representing the 12 tribes of Israel) freshly baked every Sabbath and placed on the table in the sanctuary (the Holy Place). The old loaves were eaten only by the priests (Lev 24:5-9-note, cf Ex. 25:23-30). 

Jesus agreed that generally it was not lawful for any but the priests to eat the bread. However, David (the anointed of God, the predecessor of the "Greater David") and his men had a legitimate need and so God was not offended by their action! There is no record in the Bible of David and his men being condemned for eating the consecrated bread in their time of great need! In the present context the "Greater David's" men were in need of sustenance, which by comparison with the OT story should have resulted in no condemnation. Unlike the OT story, religious men stood as judges in the place of God and condemned Jesus' men for an action God Himself did not condemn. Do we ever put ourselves in the place of God as judges of other men's actions, only later to find out that their attitudes and/or actions were justified. If we are honest, there is a little bit of "Pharisee" in all of us! Deliver us O God! Amen! 

Lawful (1832)(see exesti) - Regarding "not lawful" see comments above on Matthew's additional description of this encounter in Mt 12:5. 

Consecrated (shewbread, showbread) (4286)(prothesis from protithemai = set before oneself to be looked at or exposed to view and then to purpose or plan) is literally placing before or setting before and so means the setting forth of a thing or placing of it in view, a putting forward openly -- a presentation, setting forth, plan, design, purpose, resolve, will. Prothesis has a secular Greek use meaning setting forth of something in public and in a similar NT use refers to the name give to the shewbread ("loaves of presentation") in the Temple which is "exposed before God". The bread before the Presence of the Lord consisted of twelve loaves of wheat bread offered every Sabbath (12 = number of the tribes of Israel) and arranged in two rows on the table before the Holy of Holies and to remain there for seven days. (See topicsVincent's note belowThe Shewbreadshewbreadtable of shewbread or showbread).

Prothesis in the NAs is translated consecrated(3), purpose(7), resolute(1), sacred(1). Here are all 12 uses, with only those in the Gospels and Hebrews referring to consecrated or sacred bread.

Matt. 12:4; Mk. 2:26; Lk. 6:4; Acts 11:23; Acts 27:13; Rom. 8:28; Ro 9:11; Eph. 1:11; Eph. 3:11; 2 Tim. 1:9; 2 Tim. 3:10; Heb. 9:2

NET Note on the consecrated bread - The sacred bread refers to the “bread of presentation,” “showbread,” or “bread of the Presence,” twelve loaves prepared weekly for the tabernacle and later, the temple. See Ex 25:30; 35:13; 39:36; Lev 24:5–9-note. Each loaf was made from 3 quarts (3.5 liters; Heb “two tenths of an ephah”) of fine flour. The loaves were placed on a table in the holy place of the tabernacle, on the north side opposite the lampstand (Ex 26:35). It was the duty of the priest each Sabbath to place fresh bread on the table; the loaves from the previous week were then given to Aaron and his descendants, who ate them in the holy place, because they were considered sacred (Lev 24:9-note). These were the loaves that David requested from Ahimelech for himself and his men (1 Sa 21:1–6; cf. also Mt 12:1–8; Mark 2:23–28).

Vincent on the consecrated bread Lit., the loaves of proposition, i.e., the loaves which were set forth before the Lord. The Jews called them the loaves of the face, i.e., of the presence of God. The bread was made of the finest wheaten flour that had been passed through eleven sieves. There were twelve loaves, or cakes, according to the number of tribes, ranged in two piles of six each. Each cake was made of about five pints of wheat. They were anointed in the middle with oil, in the form of a cross. According to tradition, each cake was five hand-breadths broad and ten long, but turned up at either end, two hand-breadths on each side, to resemble in outline the ark of the covenant. The shewbread was prepared on Friday, unless that day happened to be a feast-day that required sabbatical rest; in which case it was prepared on Thursday afternoon. The renewal of the shewbread was the first of the priestly functions on the commencement of the Sabbath. The bread which was taken off was deposited on the golden table in the porch of the sanctuary, and distributed among the outgoing and incoming courses of priests (compare save for the priests). It was eaten during the Sabbath, and in the temple itself, but only by such priests as were Levitically pure. This old bread, removed on the Sabbath morning, was that which David ate.

Rod Mattoon -  The shewbread was called the "Bread of the Presence," or the "Bread of the Face," because it was laid before the Lord in the Tabernacle every Sabbath morning. It was also called the "continual bread" because there was always bread on the table in God's presence. The placing of the bread in God's official presence symbolized the fact that God was the source of Israel's strength and nourishment and reminded them of their dependence upon the Lord for everything, physical and spiritual. The Lord continues to be our source of strength today. We too, are to be dependent upon Him for all of our needs. These twelve loaves of bread were baked with flour that was sifted no fewer than eleven times. It was pure, heavy bread, not like what we get at the store today. Two omers, or 41/2 to 5 quarts of flour were used in each loaf of bread. The combined weight of the bread alone was 90-100 pounds. The loaves were kneaded one at a time. In the Temple, the dough was made in one mold and shaped in a second mold for baking. A third mold was used to keep it whole. The height of the bread was seven fingers. Each loaf of bread represented a tribe of Israel. The loaves were laid on a table of solid gold that was three feet long and one and a half feet wide. The height was the same as the Ark of the Covenant. This reminds us that the same grace which grants us mercy (ark) also allows fellowship and provision (table of shewbread) to maintain the Christian life. The table was also constructed with a double crown all the way around it, giving it elegance and beauty. This crown also held the bread in place. The bread stood for the presence of God and no one but the priests were to eat of this bread. At the end of the week, the bread would be replaced with fresh loaves, and the old loaves were reserved for the priests to eat. There were two tables in the hall entrance to the Holy Place. One was marble and one was gold. There was one table of shewbread in the actual Holy Place. Eight priests were involved in changing the bread. Four priests removed the bread and four replaced the new bread. The new bread was placed on a marble table which was cool. During this replacement process, the bread was removed and replaced at the same moment. The table of shewbread always had bread on it. The old bread was placed on the gold table in the hall. Going from marble to gold taught the people they were to always go up, and not to go down or digress. They were to always be steadfast and never retreat. Whatever was holy must be honored. This is why the old bread was placed on the gold table. This bread was eaten by the priests. On one occasion, the high priest gave this special bread to David and his men to eat as they were fleeing from Saul. The priest understood that their need was more important than ceremonial regulations. The loaves given to David were the old loaves that had just been replaced with fresh ones. Although the priests were the only ones allowed to eat this bread, God did not punish David because his need for food was more important than the priestly regulations. This is the same message that Jesus was trying to get across to these Pharisees. By comparing Himself, and His disciples to David and his men, Jesus was saying, in effect, "If you condemn me, you must also condemn David." Jesus was not condoning disobedience to God's laws. Instead, He was emphasizing discernment and compassion in enforcing the ceremonial laws, something the self-righteous Pharisees did not comprehend. He was stressing the importance of helping people. For doing this, He was opposed. We see here the divine principle that "human needs" must not be subjected to cold legalism and that God desires "mercy, not sacrifice." (Hos 6:6KJV)

Except the priests alone - "Luke added “only” (alone) to his account in order to emphasize David’s violation of the commandment. This ultimately then heightens the authority of the One greater than David, i.e., the Lord of the Sabbath." (Stein)

W A Criswell says the consecrated bread "refers to the bread which only the priests were allowed to eat (Lev. 24:9-note). Jesus defends His disciples by reference to David's experience, in which necessity overruled religious regulations (1 Sa 21:1-6)."

NET Note: Jesus’ response to the charge that what his disciples were doing was not lawful is one of analogy: ‘If David did it for his troops in a time of need, then so can I with my disciples.’ Jesus is clear that on the surface there was a violation here. What is not as clear is whether he is arguing a “greater need” makes this permissible or that this was within the intention of the law all along.

Notice that only Mark 2:27 has the added qualification: 

Jesus said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath.

Robertson's comment - Mark alone has this profound saying which subordinates the Sabbath to man's real welfare (mankind, observe, generic article with anthrōpos, class from class). Man was not made for the Sabbath as the rabbis seemed to think with all their petty rules about eating an egg laid on the sabbath or looking in the glass, et cetera. See 2 Macc. 5:19RSV and Mechilta on Ex 31:13: "The sabbath is delivered unto you and ye are not delivered unto the sabbath." Christianity has had to fight this same battle about institutionalism. The church itself is for man, not man for the church.

Luke 6:5  And He was saying to them, "The Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath."

KJV   And he said unto them, That the Son of man is Lord also of the sabbath.

Parallel passages - Word in bold not found in Luke

Matthew 12:8 “For the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.” 

Mark 2:28 “So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.”


The Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath - All three synoptic Gospels have this important Messianic declaration. Jesus is referring to Himself as the sovereign ruler or master over the Sabbath day, which is clearly an allusion to His deity! In addition He is affirming equality with God Who had established the Sabbath (Ge 2:1-3). His Lordship trumps their man-made rules! We do not have to guess whether the Pharisees "caught" Jesus' allusion to the fact that He was God! Their violent response and desire to destroy Him (Lk 6:11-note, cf Mt 12:14, Mark 3:6)

Rod MattoonJesus challenges the authority of the Pharisees by stating that HE is the Lord of the Sabbath. He is the master of this day for He made it. Christ is our Sabbath, He is our rest because He supplies everything that the Sabbath day was meant to give to men: peace, rest, restoration, renewal, regeneration, and communion with God. When Jesus said He was Lord of the Sabbath, He was claiming to be Jehovah God, because it was the Lord who established the Sabbath. Since Jesus Christ is indeed, Lord of the Sabbath, then He is free to do on it and with it whatever He pleases. Christ is the authority over the Law. If David could override the Law without blame, how much more could the greater Son of David, the Messiah himself, do so?

MacArthur by claiming authority over a divinely instituted ordinance, Jesus was claiming full equality with God. Compare John 5:9-17, where our Lord was again confronted over His Sabbath activity and replied, “My Father is working… and I Myself am working” (Jn 5:17). Here again He clearly declared His equality with God, as evidenced by His sovereignty over the Sabbath.

Robertson on Son of ManBy the phrase "the Son of man" here Jesus involves the claim of Messiahship, but as the Representative Man he affirms his solidarity with mankind, "standing for the human interest" (Bruce) on this subject.

Lord is first in position in the Greek text placing emphasis on Jesus' Lordship over the Sabbath. The literal Greek order reads something like "Lord He is of the Sabbath the Son of Man."

Wiersbe But David and his men ate the loaves, and what Jew would condemn Israel's great king? "He was God's anointed!" they might argue, but that was exactly what Jesus claimed for Himself (Luke 4:18-note). Not only was He God's Anointed, but He was also the Lord of the Sabbath! When Jesus made that statement, He was claiming to be Jehovah God, because it was the Lord who established the Sabbath. If Jesus Christ is indeed Lord of the Sabbath, then He is free to do on it and with it whatever He pleases. The Pharisees did not miss His meaning, you can be sure.

Lord (master, owner)(2962)(kurios from kuros = might or power, related to kuroo = to give authority) primarily means the possessor, owner, master, the supreme one, one who is sovereign, in this case sovereign over the Sabbath, so revered by the religious Jews. It is so sad that the Jews venerated the Day and  violated the "Day Star" (2 Pe 1:19KJV-note) the very One Who at His return will be recognized even by those who pierced Him (Rev 1:7-note) as the "bright and morning star" (Rev 2:28-note; Rev 22:16-note)!

NET Note on Lord - The term “Lord” (kurios) is in emphatic position in the Greek text. To make this point even clearer a few (Lucan) manuscripts add “also” before the reference to the Son of Man, while a few others add it before the reference to the Sabbath. (Mark 2:28 clearly has this word). 

Robertson comments on the addition of even in  Mark 2:28 writing that "Mark, Matthew (Matthew 12:8), and Luke (Luke 6:5) all give this as a climax in the five reasons given by Christ on the occasion for the conduct of the disciples, but Mark has the little word "even" (kai) not in the others, showing that Jesus knew that He was making a great claim as the Son of Man, the Representative Man, the Messiah looked at from His human interest, to lordship (kurios) even of the Sabbath. He was not the slave of the Sabbath, but the Master of it. "Even of the Sabbath, so invaluable in your eyes. Lord, not to abolish, but to interpret and keep in its own place, and give it a new name" (Bruce).

Ryrie on Lord of the Sabbath - Not only had Christ claimed deity (Lk 5:20), but now He claimed sovereignty over the Sabbath day and its laws and asserted His right to interpret its laws without reference to the traditions of the Pharisees. 

NET Note:  A second point in Jesus’ defense of his disciples’ actions was that his authority as Son of Man also allowed it, since as Son of Man he was lord of the Sabbath.

Mattoon As Christ's authority was in conflict with the authority of the Pharisees, the same conflict continues today in our own personal lives. Christians find themselves in conflict with Christ and His Word. Do you acknowledge the authority of Jesus Christ in your own life? Are you yielded to His will and Word? Do you acknowledge His ownership of your life? These are the fields of battle in the life of the believer. Each day we are to submit to His lordship, yet, our flesh doesn't want to do this, thus, the battle rages in our heart. Paul spoke of this struggle.

Romans 7:23-25... But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. [24] O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? [25] I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.

This conflict with our flesh is why we are challenged from the Scriptures to yield to Him and His will. We are reminded of His ownership.

Romans 12:2- And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

1 Corinthians 6:19-20.... What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? [20] For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's.

Is Christ the master of your life? This is a good decision to make in spite of the opposition you may receive from other people. You can only serve one master. It might as well be the Lord.

Matthew 6:24- No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.

John Kenneth Galbraith, in his autobiography, A Life in Our Times, illustrates the devotion of Emily Gloria Wilson, his family's housekeeper: It had been a wearying day, and I asked Emily to hold all telephone calls while I had a nap. Shortly thereafter the phone rang. Lyndon Johnson was calling from the White House. "Get me Ken Galbraith. This is Lyndon Johnson." "He is sleeping, Mr. President. He said not to disturb him." "Well, wake him up. I want to talk to him." "No, Mr. President. I work for him, not you." When I called the President back, he could scarcely control his pleasure. "Tell that woman I want her here in the White House." President Johnson was impressed by the loyalty of this woman for the man she served. We too, should have that same kind of devotion to the commands of Christ.

Gotquestions What does it mean that Jesus is the Lord of the Sabbath?

Answer: The phrase “the Lord of the Sabbath” is found in Matthew 12:8, Mark 2:28, and Luke 6:5. In all three instances Jesus is referring to Himself as the Lord of the Sabbath or, as Mark records it, “The Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath” (Mark 2:28). In these verses, Jesus is proclaiming that He is the One who exercises authority even over the rules and regulations that govern the Sabbath day.

As such, Jesus was proclaiming to the world, especially to the legalistic Pharisees, that He was greater than the Law and above the laws of the Mosaic Covenant because, as God in flesh, He is the Author of those laws. Unable to keep the Law, however, the Pharisees had instituted a complex and confusing system of Sabbath laws of their own that was oppressive and legalistic. They had set up strict laws regarding how to observe the Sabbath, which included 39 categories of forbidden activities. In essence, these religious leaders had made themselves lords of the Sabbath, thus making themselves lords over the people.

As Creator, Christ was the original Lord of the Sabbath (John 1:3; Hebrews 1:10). He had the authority to overrule the Pharisees’ traditions and regulations because He had created the Sabbath—and the Creator is always greater than the creation. Furthermore, Jesus claimed the authority to correctly interpret the meaning of the Sabbath and all the laws pertaining to it. Because Jesus is Lord of the Sabbath, He is free to do on it and with it whatever He pleases.

As Lord of the Sabbath, Jesus had the right, power, and authority to dispense it in any way He pleased, even to the abolishing of it and reinstituting it as the Lord’s Day, a day of worship. Since the Lord of the Sabbath had come, He who is the only true “Sabbath rest” made the old law of the Sabbath no longer needed or binding. When He said, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath” (Mark 2:27), Jesus was attesting to the fact that, just as the Sabbath day was originally instituted to give man rest from his labors, so did He come to provide us rest from laboring to achieve our own salvation by our works. Because of His sacrifice on the cross, we can now forever cease laboring to attain God’s favor and rest in His mercy and grace.

Steven Cole on the Sabbath ConfrontationLuke presents the Pharisees’ confrontation with Jesus’ disciples over their picking grain on the Sabbath to show the growing tension between the Jewish leaders and Jesus and to show that He is Lord of the Sabbath. The Law of Moses allowed for picking the grain as you walked through a neighbor’s field (De 23:25). The problem, in the Pharisees’ minds, was that picking grain was reaping, rubbing the grain was threshing, blowing away the husks was winnowing, and the whole process was preparing food. All this was work according to their rules, and thus forbidden on the Sabbath. So the disciples were not breaking God’s Sabbath commandment, but rather the rabbinic refinement of that commandment. Jesus and the disciples were challenging pharisaic custom.

But surprisingly, Jesus did not point out that His critics were following the commands of men rather than the commands of God. Instead, He took an incident from the life of David (1Sa 21:1-7) in which he violated the letter of the law in order to meet human needs. David and his men were fleeing from Saul. They came to the Tabernacle, where David asked the priest for the consecrated bread, which was put on the table of shewbread and replaced each Sabbath. The priests could then eat the old bread (Le 24:9). But in this case, David and his men, who were not priests, ate the bread. Jesus’ point is that legitimate human need (hunger) superseded the letter of the ceremonial law. People take precedence over ritual, even if that ritual is ordained by God.

His critics were probably thinking and about ready to ask, “What makes you think that you can compare yourself with David?” But then Jesus makes the stunning claim that He, the Son of Man, is the Lord of the Sabbath! Since God had instituted the Sabbath at creation (Ge 2:1-3), as well as stipulated it in the Ten Commandments through Moses, Jesus was saying that He was above Moses and was in fact on the same level as God who originated the Sabbath command! As the Lord of the Sabbath, Jesus had the authority to interpret the force, intent, and limits of the Sabbath law. As the next incident and many others in the Gospels show, Jesus challenged the legalistic approach of the Pharisees, which was not God’s intent in giving the Sabbath law.

Legalism always kills the joy of the good news that Jesus came to bring. It is a common problem in our day, but there is a lot of confusion about it. So we need to be careful to understand what it is and what it is not. In the first place, obedience to God’s commandments is not legalism. Jesus often emphasized the importance of obedience to God’s Word. The Bible is full of various rules, some negative, some positive, which God has commanded for our good. Keeping them is not legalism. Being under grace does not mean that we are free to disobey God or hang loose with regard to His moral commandments.

Secondly, keeping manmade rules is not necessarily legalism. There are many areas not specified in the Bible where we need some rules to function as a Christian family or church. While these human rules are not as important as the commands of Scripture, there is a proper place for them and keeping them is not tantamount to legalism. For example, if your parents set a curfew for you, they are not being legalistic and you are not free to disregard their curfew because you’re “under grace”!

So what is legalism? Essentially, it is an attitude of pride in which I congratulate myself for keeping certain standards and condemn those who do not keep them. Usually the legalist thinks that his conformity to these rules makes him acceptable to God, either for salvation or sanctification. Invariably, these standards are not the great commandments of the Bible, such as loving God with all your heart and your neighbor as yourself. Most often they are external things which the legalist is able to keep (see Mt 23:23-28).

The legalist judges spirituality by external conformity to certain rules. “Do you keep the Sabbath as we have defined it? Very well.” It doesn’t matter whether your heart is full of pride or lust or greed. What matters is that you keep the Sabbath rules. Legalists ignore motives and inner righteousness. What matters to them is outward conformity. God hates that sort of thing, because it stems from the flesh (Is 1:11-14). God is concerned that we please Him from our hearts.

What about this matter of the Sabbath? Is Sunday the Christian Sabbath? Are we required to observe it as the Jews observed Saturday? If not, does it apply in any way to us? After all, it is one of the Ten Commandments, and all of the others apply to us! If you want a more detailed treatment, I refer you to my message, “God’s Day of Rest” (Ge 2:1-3 [12/17/95]). But briefly, I think that in reacting against legalism concerning the Lord’s Day, we’ve thrown the baby out with the bath water. The principle of setting one day in seven apart for worship and rest is a gift that God has given to the human race for our benefit. “The Sabbath was made for man.” If we treat every day the same, except that on Sunday we attend a church service, we’re missing the blessing God intended by giving us the Sabbath commandment. We should set apart the Lord’s Day as a special day for worship and for rest from our normal duties. If we do not, we will suffer for it.

Clearly, we are not under the rigorous regulations which applied to the Jewish nation, where God demanded that a man caught gathering sticks on the Sabbath should be stoned (Nu 15:32-36). But neither are we free to shrug off the Sabbath principle completely. Some say that Christ is to be Lord of all our time, so we don’t have to set apart one day a week to Him. That’s like saying that since all our money belongs to God, we don’t have to give regularly. God knows how we’re made and that we need one day a week to worship, to rest, and to reflect on spiritual matters. There is a biblical basis for arguing that that day should be Sunday.

So even though we are not under the letter of the Jewish Law, there is an abiding principle of setting apart unto the Lord one day each week. We don’t do it to earn points with God or to check it off our list to prove that we’re spiritual. We don’t take pride in our observance of the Lord’s Day and condemn those who are not up to our level of spiritual insight. But we should set aside the Lord’s Day out of love for Him, in order to honor Him.

So, asceticism and legalism kill the joy of the gospel Jesus came to bring.


We should notice, in this passage, what excessive importance hypocrites attach to trifles. We are told that, "One Sabbath day as Jesus was walking through some grainfields, his disciples broke off heads of wheat, rubbed off the husks in their hands, and ate the grains." At once the hypocritical Pharisees found fault, and charged them with committing a sin. They said, "Why do you that which is not lawful to do on the Sabbath days?" The mere act of plucking the heads of wheat of course they did not find fault with. It was an action sanctioned by the Mosaic law. (Deut. 23:25.) The supposed fault with which they charged the disciples, was the breach of the fourth commandment. They had done work on the Sabbath, by taking and eating a handful of food.

This exaggerated zeal of the Pharisees about the Sabbath, we must remember, did not extend to other plain commandments of God. It is evident from many expressions in the Gospels, that these very men, who pretended such strictness on one little point, were more than lax and indifferent about other points of infinitely greater importance. While they stretched the commandment about the Sabbath beyond its true meaning, they openly trampled on the tenth commandment, and were notorious for covetousness. (Luke 16:14.) But this is precisely the character of the hypocrite. To use our Lord's illustration, in some things he makes fuss about straining out of his cup a gnat, while in other things he can swallow a camel. (Matt. 23:24.)

It is a bad symptom of any man's state of soul, when he begins to put the second things in religion in the first place, and the first things in the second, or the things ordained by man above the things ordained by God. Let us beware of falling into this state of mind. There is something sadly wrong in our spiritual condition, when the only thing we look at in others is their outward Christianity, and the principal question we ask is, whether they worship in our communion, and use our ceremonial, and serve God in our way.

Do they repent of sin? Do they believe on Christ? Are they living holy lives? These are the chief points to which our attention ought to be directed. The moment we begin to place anything in religion before these things, we are in danger of becoming as thorough Pharisees as the accusers of the disciples.

We should notice, secondly, in this passage, how graciously our Lord Jesus Christ pleaded the cause of His disciples, and defended them against their accusers. We are told that He answered the cavils of the Pharisees with arguments by which they were silenced, if not convinced. He did not leave His disciples to fight their battle alone. He came to their rescue, and spoke for them.

We have in this fact a cheering illustration of the work that Jesus is ever doing on behalf of His people. There is one, we read in the Bible, who is called "the accuser of the brethren, who accuses them day and night," even Satan, the prince of this world. (Rev. 12:10.) How many grounds of accusation we give him, by reason of our infirmity! How many charges he may justly lay against us before God! But let us thank God that believers "have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous," who is ever maintaining the cause of His people in heaven, and continually making intercession for them. Let us take comfort in this cheering thought. Let us daily rest our souls on the recollection of our great Friend in heaven. Let our morning and evening prayer continually be, "Answer for me, answer for me, O Lord my God."

We should notice, lastly, in these verses, the clear light which our Lord Jesus Christ throws on the real requirements of the fourth commandment. He tells the hypocritical Pharisees, who pretended to such strictness in their observance of the Sabbath, that the Sabbath was never intended to prevent works of necessity. He reminds them how David himself, when suffering from hunger, took and ate that show-bread, which ought only to be eaten by the priests, and how the act was evidently allowed of God, because it was an act of necessity. And He argues from David's case, that He who permitted His own temple rules to be infringed, in cases of necessity, would doubtless allow work to be done on His own Sabbath days, when it was work for which there was really a need.

We should weigh carefully the nature of our Lord Jesus Christ's teaching about the observance of the Sabbath, both here and in other places. We must not allow ourselves to be carried away by the common notion that the Sabbath is a mere Jewish ordinance, and that it was abolished and done away by Christ. There is not a single passage of the Gospels which proves this. In every case where we find our Lord speaking upon it, He speaks against the false views of it, which were taught by the Pharisees, but not against the day itself. He cleanses and purifies the fourth commandment from the man-made additions by which the Jews had defiled it, but never declares that it was not to bind Christians. He shows that the seventh day's rest was not meant to prevent works of necessity and mercy, but He says nothing to imply that it was to pass away, as a part of the ceremonial law.

We live in days when anything like strict Sabbath observance is loudly denounced, in some quarters, as a remnant of Jewish superstition. We are boldly told by some people, that to keep the Sabbath holy is legal, and that to enforce the fourth commandment on Christians, is going back to bondage. Let it suffice us to remember, when we hear such things, that assertions are not proofs, and that vague talk like this has no confirmation in the word of God. Let us settle it in our minds, that the fourth commandment has never been repealed by Christ, and that we have no more right to break the Sabbath day, under the Gospel, than we have to murder and to steal.

The architect who repairs a building, and restores it to its proper use, is not the destroyer of it, but the preserver. The Savior who redeemed the Sabbath from Jewish traditions, and so frequently explained its true meaning, ought never to be regarded as the enemy of the fourth commandment. On the contrary, He has "magnified it, and made it honorable."

Let us cling to our Sabbath, as the best safeguard of our Country's religion. Let us defend it against the assaults of ignorant and mistaken men, who would gladly turn the day of God into a day of business and pleasure. Above all, let us each strive to keep the day holy ourselves. Much of our spiritual prosperity depends, under God, on the manner in which we employ our Sundays.

Luke 6:6  On another Sabbath He entered the synagogue and was teaching; and there was a man there whose right hand was withered.

KJV Luke 6:6 And it came to pass also on another sabbath, that he entered into the synagogue and taught: and there was a man whose right hand was withered.

Parallel Passages - Words in bold not found in Luke

Matthew 12:9  Departing from there, He went into their synagogue. 10 And a man was there whose hand was withered... 

Mark 3:1  He entered again into a synagogue; and a man was there whose hand was withered. 


On another Sabbath He entered the synagogue - Luke does not state specifically but presumably it occurred soon after the Sabbath incident in the grainfields. Jesus had just claimed He was Lord of the Sabbath, in essence that He was God and now He proceeds to back up His claim by healing a man with a paralyzed hand.

Synagogue (4864)(sunagoge from sunágo = lead together, assemble or bring together) refers to a group of people “going with one another” (sunago) literally describes a bringing together or congregating in one place. Eventually, sunagoge came to mean the place where they congregated together. The word was used to designate the buildings other than the central Jewish temple where the Jews congregated for worship. Historically, the Synagogues originated in the Babylonian captivity after the 586 BC destruction of the temple by Nebuchadnezzar and served as places of worship and instruction. Sunagoge was the name of a group "Synagogue of the Freedmen" (Acts 6:9). In the time of Jesus and the apostles every town, not only in Palestine but also among the Gentiles if it contained a considerable number of Jewish inhabitants, had at least one synagogue, the larger towns several or even many. That the Jews held trials and even inflicted punishments in them, is evident from such passages (Mt 10:17, 23:34), a haunt of demon possessed (Mk 1:23). Synagogues were frequently a place of teaching and proclamation of the Gospel (Mt 4:23, 9:35, 12:9, 13:54, Mk 6:2, Lk 4:15, 16, Lk 4:44, 6:6, 13:10, Jn 6:59, 18:20, Acts 9:20 = Paul immediately "began to proclaim Jesus," Acts 13:5 = Paul proclaimed "the word of God," Acts 14:1 = place Paul, et al, spoke and where "a large number of people believed," Acts 17:17, 18:4, 18:19, 19:8 = Paul, et al reasoned with various audiences in synagogues).

Related Resources:

One of the first things Jesus did as he began His ministry after He had been tempted in the wilderness (Lk 4:1-13-note) was to return to Galilee "in the power of the Spirit" (Lk 4:14-note) and begin "teaching in their synagogues and was praised by all." (Lk 4:15-note)

Was teaching (present tense - continually, Jesus' priority - Lk 4:14-15, 31, 44; Lk 5:15, 17, most likely the Gospel - cf Lk 3:18; 4:18; 7:22; 20:1; Mark 1:14)(1321) (didasko from dáo= know or teach; English = didactic; see noun didaskalia and adjective didaktikos) means to provide instruction or information in a formal or informal setting. Didasko refers refers to the passing on of information with a focus on content and with the purpose of discovering the truth which was "contrary to the forums so popular among Greeks, where discussion and the bantering about of various ideas and opinions was the primary concern (see Acts 17:21). Synagogue teaching, as illustrated by that of Jesus, was basically expository. Scripture was read and explained section by section, often verse by verse." (MacArthur)

Didasko refers to imparting positive truth. It is the responsibility of every believer (Col 3:16), and is part of the Great Commission (Mt 28:20). It is especially the responsibility of church leaders. “An overseer, then, must be… able to teach” (1Ti 3:2). Heresy flourishes where sound Christian teaching lags. The idea is to hold discourse with others in order to instruct them by word of mouth (tutor, direct, advise, put in mind). In the NT almost without exception didasko refers to the teaching of groups. Didasko means to teach a student in such a way that the will of the student becomes conformed to the teaching taught. So the teacher teaches in such a way that as the student is taught, he now changes his mind saying in essence ''I won't do it this way, but I will do it this way because I've learned this doctrine or this teaching.'' Doctrine determines direction of our behavior, conformed to world or to God? Teaching that Scripture finds significant is not that which provides information alone but also the teaching that creates disciples who live in responsive obedience to God's will.

Teaching was a priority with Jesus (and it should be with us) (cf Mk 1:21, 2:2) and when Jesus taught the crowds were amazed (Mt. 7:29; Mk 1:22; Lk 4:32, cf Lk 19:48 = " all the people were hanging on to every word He said"), because He taught with authority (exousia and we also should teach with authority empowered by the Holy Spirit) unlike the scribes and Pharisees (Mt 7:29). 

There was a man there whose right hand was withered - There "just happened" providentially to be a paralyzed person present! Jesus could have put off this healing until after the Sabbath, but this was an appointment for confrontation! In fact Jesus repeatedly healed on the Sabbath (Luke 4:31-35; 13:10-17; 14:1-6; John 5:1-9; 9:1-14). And so clearly this is another divinely ordained appointment for our Lord. O, that we would be in such communion and communication with our heavenly Father that we too would continually be in the center of His will an not miss any of His divine appointments! Amen!

Notice that  only Luke the physician mentions the right hand which is important because the majority of people are right handed. In any case in this agrarian culture it would have been difficult for this man to carry out any meaningful labor.

Withered (3584)(xeros) means dry, dried (up) (1) literally, of land dry (Heb 11.29); dry land (Mt 23.15); of plants dry, parched; used by Jesus describing a tree in dry conditions as a picture of coming judgment on Jerusalem (Lk 23.31); (2) of a damaged member of the body paralyzed, withered, useless (Mt 12.10, Jn 5:3, Lk 6:6,8)  A green tree and a dry tree are used to symbolize the righteous and the wicked (Septuagint - Isa. 56:3; Ezek. 17:24; 20:47 [cf. Ps. 1:3]). Xeros was used to refer to the dry land as opposed to the sea (Matt. 23:15; Heb. 11:29; Jonah 1:9). In the creation God said "let the dry land appear." (Ge 1:9, 10) In Genesis 7:22 all those who lived on “dry land” died in the Flood. In Ezekiel 37:11-note the prophet was commanded to prophecy to the “dry bones,” a metaphor describing the nation of Israel.

A withered hand like dried fruit (think of a dried plum = a prune!)

Xeros - 8x in 8v -dry(2), land(1), withered(5).  Matt. 12:10; Matt. 23:15; Mk. 3:3; Lk. 6:6; Lk. 6:8; Lk. 23:31; Jn. 5:3; Heb. 11:29

Xeros - 31x in 28v  in the Septuagint -

Gen. 1:9; Gen. 1:10; Gen. 7:22; Exod. 4:9; Exod. 14:16; Exod. 14:21; Exod. 14:22; Exod. 14:29; Exod. 15:19; Jos. 3:17; Jos. 4:22; Jos. 9:5; Job 24:18; Ps. 66:6; Ps. 95:5; Isa. 9:18; Isa. 37:27; Isa. 56:3; Ezek. 17:24; Ezek. 20:47; Ezek. 37:2; Ezek. 37:4; Ezek. 37:11; Hos. 9:14; Jon. 1:9; Jon. 2:10; Hag. 2:6; Hag. 2:21;

Mark 3:1 uses the verb form xeraino which refers to atrophy and was used of dead plants that had dried up and wasted away. 

Luke 6:7  The scribes and the Pharisees were watching Him closely to see if He healed on the Sabbath, so that they might find reason to accuse Him.

KJV Luke 6:7 And the scribes and Pharisees watched him, whether he would heal on the sabbath day; that they might find an accusation against him.


Parallel Passages - Words in bold not found in Luke

Matthew 12:10 And a man was there whose hand was withered. And they questioned Jesus, asking, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?”–so that they might accuse Him. 

Mark 3:2 They were watching Him to see if He would heal him on the Sabbath, so that they might accuse Him. 

NET Note on scribes -  The traditional rendering of γραμματεύς (grammateus) as “scribe” does not communicate much to the modern English reader, for whom the term might mean “professional copyist,” if it means anything at all. The people referred to here were recognized experts in the law of Moses and in traditional laws and regulations. Thus “expert in the law” comes closer to the meaning for the modern reader.

The Scribes (1122) (grammateus from grapho = to write) was one skilled in Jewish law and theology scribe, expert, scholar (Mt 2.4)

The Pharisees (see note) were watching closely - Can you see the bitter irony here? They were watching closely (like vultures circling) Jesus to entrap Him, when they should have been listening carefully as he preached the Gospel which only had the power to release them from their entrapment in sin (Lk 4:18-19-note)

NET Note on were watching...closely -  is emotive, since it carries negative connotations. It means they were watching him out of the corner of their eye or spying on him.

As MacArthur observes the Scribes and Pharisees knew that according to their traditions "The most a physician or relative was permitted to do on the Sabbath was keep the sick person alive, or maintain the status quo of their condition, until the following day. Anything more than that was regarded as work, and therefore a violation." (MacArthur New Testament Commentary – Mark 1-8).

Watch...Closely (3906)(paratereo from para = beside + tereo = watch) means to watch closely, to observe scrupulously or carefully, even with the sense of to spy. To watch (maliciously), lie in wait for (Mk 3:2; Lk 6:7; 14:1). Watch one's opportunity (Lk 20:20). Watch, guard (Acts 9:24). To observe as a religious act or ritual (Gal 4:10).

MacArthur adds the verb paratereo in this context depicts their "intensive, sinister observe carefully, to be on the lookout, or to pay heed to.” Often, as it does here, the word takes on a sinister tone, and could be translated, to lurk, to watch for an opportunity or to lie in wait (cf. Lk 14:1; 20:20; Mark 3:2). The scribes and Pharisees were by no means neutral observers, but rather spies."

Mattoon Their eyes were peeled on every move Jesus made. This word is in the imperfect tense (over and over, again and again) which means they watched the Lord continually.

Friberg - with a general sense of directly perceiving something through close observation; active and middle have the same meaning; (1) keep under observation, watch closely; with a malicious intent lie in wait for, lurk for, narrowly watch with hidden intent (Mk 3.2); (2) as being on guard keep watch over, keep (Acts 9.24); (3) of scrupulous attitude in religious matters observe, keep, carefully obey rules about (Gal 4.10) (Analytical Lexicon)

Note that this verb paratereo is first in the Greek sentence placing emphasis on this action of the Pharisees!

Paratereo - 6x in 6v  - observe(1), watched(1), watching(2), watching...closely(2).

Mark 3:2  They were watching Him to see if He would heal him on the Sabbath, so that they might accuse Him.

Luke 6:7  The scribes and the Pharisees were watching Him closely to see if He healed on the Sabbath, so that they might find reason to accuse Him.

Luke 14:1  It happened that when He went into the house of one of the leaders of the Pharisees on the Sabbath to eat bread, they were watching Him closely.

Luke 20:20  So they watched Him, and sent spies who pretended to be righteous, in order that they might catch Him in some statement, so that they could deliver Him to the rule and the authority of the governor.

Acts 9:24  but their plot became known to Saul. They were also watching the gates day and night so that they might put him to death;

Galatians 4:10  You observe days and months and seasons and years.

Paratereo - Twice in the Septuagint

Psalm 37:12 The wicked plots against the righteous And gnashes at him with his teeth.

 Psalm 130:3 If You, LORD, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand? (

NET Note on if - This is a first class condition in the Greek text; Jesus’ opponents anticipated he would do this.

Stein adds - Jesus’ opponents did not doubt Jesus’ ability to heal. This is granted. The issue for them was whether Jesus’ healing power was divine or demonic (Lk 11:14–20). Although the Pharisaic tradition knew of exceptions when the Sabbath could be broken, e.g., for life-threatening situations (Yoma 8:6), the healing of a shriveled hand did not qualify as such an exception (cf. Luke 13:14). By now, due to Lk 4:31–41; 6:1–5, Jesus’ attitude toward the Sabbath was well-known, so that his opponents were observing his Sabbath behavior to see if they could catch him profaning the Sabbath.

MacArthur notes that "Ironically, these self-appointed guardians of the Sabbath system did not want to stop Jesus from breaking their Sabbath rules; they actually wanted Him to perform a healing, so they would have cause to indict Him. Christ’s performing a healing would thus best suit their heinous hatred. Interestingly, never throughout His entire ministry did they doubt His ability to heal (cf. Lk 5:17-26), which proved His ability to forgive sin (Lk 5:24). Yet the convoluted reasoning in their sinful, prideful, obstinate hearts was that if Jesus did heal, the consequence would be that they could charge Him with breaking the Sabbath.

He healed (2323) (therapeuo from therapon = an attendant, servant) means primarily to care for, to wait upon, minister to. It has two main senses in the NT, one speaking of rendering service (Acts 17:25) and the more common use describing medical aspects such as to take care of the sick, to heal, to cure (Matt. 4:24; 12:10; Mark 1:34; Luke 6:7; 10:9),  to recover health, to restore. Therapeúō can mean to heal miraculously (e.g., Mt 4:23, 24; 10:1, 8; Lk 4:40, Acts 4:14).

Here are all of Dr Luke's uses of therapeuo

Lk. 4:23; Lk. 4:40; Lk. 5:15; Lk. 6:7; Lk. 6:18; Lk. 7:21; Lk. 8:2; Lk. 8:43; Lk. 9:1; Lk. 9:6; Lk. 10:9; Lk. 13:14; Lk. 14:3; Acts 4:14; Acts 5:16; Acts 8:7; Acts 17:25; Acts 28:9

On the Sabbath - This expression of time is the key to this confrontation, for healing constituted "work." The NET Note adds that "The background for this is the view that only if life was endangered should one attempt to heal on the Sabbath (see the Mishnah, m. Shabbat 6.3; 12.1; 18.3; 19.2; m. Yoma 8.6)." Bock adds "The rabbis taught that you could not heal on the Sabbath unless a life was in danger, a baby was being born, or a circumcision needed to be performed (Darrell Bock, Luke [Baker], 1:528). The Pharisees knew this "test case" was not a matter of life or death. So in performing healing of this man's withered arm, Jesus was in effect "practicing medicine" on the Sabbath, a practice forbidden by Jewish tradition, except in life-threatening situations. There was no Law in the Scriptures that forbade healing on the Sabbath. Healing is an act of mercy (cf Mt 12:7, Hos 6:6, Micah 6:6-8) and there are no time restrictions in God's eyes, but only in men's depraved hearts!

Find (2147)(heurisko) means to find after searching and so to discover. To come upon something either through purposeful search or accidentally. The legalists were seeking to find a legal loophole against Jesus (cf Lk 11:53,54; 20:20; Mt 26:59,60). 

Accuse (2723)(kategoreo  from kata = against + agora = the assembly, a place of public speaking. Other sources have agoreuo = to speak. The prefixed preposition suggests animosity!) means to speak against a person before a public tribunal or bring an accusation in court. To accuse formally and before a tribunal, to bring a charge publicly. The idea is to speak openly against, to condemn or accuse mainly in a legal sense. The cognate word kategoria was a legal technical term that referred to the content of the accusation or charge made against someone. Note that all of the Gospel uses involve accusing Jesus (except John 5:45), especially at the mock trials before His crucifixion.

Luke's uses of kategoreo -Lk. 6:7; Lk. 23:2; Lk. 23:10; Lk. 23:14; Acts 22:30; Acts 24:2; Acts 24:8; Acts 24:13; Acts 24:19; Acts 25:5; Acts 25:11; Acts 25:16; Acts 28:19

Luke 6:8  But He knew what they were thinking, and He said to the man with the withered hand, "Get up and come forward!" And he got up and came forward.

KJV Luke 6:8 But he knew their thoughts, and said to the man which had the withered hand, Rise up, and stand forth in the midst. And he arose and stood forth.

Parallel Passage:

Mark 3:3 He said to the man with the withered hand, “Get up and come forward!” 

He knew what they were thinking - In His omniscience, Jesus knew this was a trap, but little did these would be religious "trappers" know that they would soon be the ones trapped!

NET Note on knew what they were thinking - The statement that Jesus knew their thoughts adds a prophetic note to his response; see Luke 5:22-note (cf Lk 9:47-note, Lk 11:17-note).

MacArthur (on Lk 5:22) says the fact that Jesus knew what they were thinking "offers further proof of His deity, since only God knows the heart (1 Sam. 16:7; 1 Kings 8:39; 1 Chron. 28:9; Jer. 17:10; Ezek. 11:5). Yet Jesus “did not need anyone to testify concerning man, for He Himself knew what was in man” (John 2:25).

What the Bible teaches - The Lord knew their thoughts, not merely by observing their faces, as we would attempt to do, but because He knew the innermost thoughts of all that were around Him. It was the sense of this omniscience that had made Peter say in the boat, "Depart from me; for I am a sinful man, O Lord" (5:8). Luke is very aware that he is portraying a gentle, gracious Man with all the attributes of deity. (What the Bible teaches – Luke)

Thinking (1261) (dialogismos from diá = through or as a preposition to intensify meaning of + logizomai = reckon, take an inventory, conclude; source of our English dialogue) means literally reasoning through and so to think or reason with thoroughness and completeness, think out carefully, reason thoroughly, consider carefully, weighing. In the Greek writings dialogismos described the thinking of a man deliberating with himself. It refers to calculated consideration (good or bad as discussed below). It pictures one deliberating with one’s self which conveys the basic meaning of inner reasoning.

NET Note on thinking - Grk “their reasonings.” The implication is that Jesus knew his opponents’ plans and motives, so the translation “thoughts” was used here.

Withered (3584) see xeros

"Get up (egeiro) and come forward!" (both verbs aorist imperative) And he got up and came forward - Jesus was in charge of the situation! Notice that the paralyzed man did not initiate the contact, but Jesus did, knowing full well that He was walking into the trap of the Scribes and Pharisees. Imagine for just a moment what inner glee they must had as the paralyzed man got up (anistemi) and came forward! They thought "This time we've got Him!" It was at this point they questioned Him "“Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?”—so that they might accuse Him." (Mt 12:10)

W A Criswell adds that in calling the paralyzed man out of the assembly "Jesus seems to have gone out of His way to break the regulations with which the Jews governed the Sabbath. He emphasizes that it is always right to do good." 

NET Note on come forward (NET = stand here) - Most likely synagogues were arranged with benches along the walls and open space in the center for seating on the floor.

Luke 6:9  And Jesus said to them, "I ask you, is it lawful to do good or to do harm on the Sabbath, to save a life or to destroy it?"

KJV Luke 6:9 Then said Jesus unto them, I will ask you one thing; Is it lawful on the sabbath days to do good, or to do evil? to save life, or to destroy it?

Parallel Passages

Matthew 12:10 And a man was there whose hand was withered. And they questioned Jesus, asking, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?”–so that they might accuse (kategoreo) Him. 11 And He said to them (rhetorically for the answer was obvious and assummed), “What man is there among you who has a sheep, and if it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will he not take hold of it and lift it out? (Presumably their traditions allowed this action to avert economic loss and He got no argument from the Pharisees on this point) 12 “How much more valuable then is a man than a sheep! So then, it IS lawful to do good on the Sabbath.”

John MacArthur has an interesting comment: No Pharisee would have contended that sheep were as valuable as men, who they knew were created in God's image. But in practice, the Pharisees treated other men with less respect than they treated their animals, because in their hearts they did not respect, much less love, their fellow men, including their fellow Jews. They contemptuously subjugated human life and welfare to religious tradition. One of the most obvious tragedies of Hinduism is its disregard for human welfare in the name of human welfare. A beggar is not given food because it would interfere with his karma and prevent him from suffering his way to the next highest level of existence. A fly is not killed because it is the reincarnation of some unfortunate human being of past ages. Rats are not killed for the same reason and are allowed to eat and contaminate food supplies without any interference. Cows are considered sacred and are given what food is available, while human beings are allowed to starve. In a similar way the Pharisees despised other human beings, showing more compassion for a sheep than for a crippled man who was even a fellow Jew. (MacArthur New Testament Commentary – Matthew 8-15)

Mark 3:4 And He said to them, “Is it lawful to do good or to do harm on the Sabbath, to save a life or to kill?” But they kept silent (siopao from siope = silence, a hush) (Mk 4:39).) 


And Jesus said to them, "I ask you - If we compare Matthew's version, Jesus' question here would seem to be a response to His opponent's question for Mt 12:10 says "they questioned Jesus, asking, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?”" In their presumption, pomp and arrogance they accosted Jesus with their challenge about the unlawfulness of healing even before He healed the man (but notice in so doing they clearly were acknowledging His power to heal)! In fact what they were attempting to do was to entrap Jesus into healing on the Sabbath so they could accuse Him of breaking their tradition. But as Jesus often did when questioned, He responded to their question by asking them a question! Notice their response to Jesus' question in Mk 3:4! Absolutely not a peep from the Pharisees!

MacArthur Addressing the scribes and Pharisees, who no doubt had front-row seats (Lk 11:43; 20:46; Matt. 23:6; Mark 12:39), Jesus asked the self-proclaimed experts on the law a pointed question.

NET Note on  I ask you - With the use of the plural pronoun (“you”), Jesus addressed not just the leaders but the crowd with His question to challenge what the leadership was doing. There is irony as well. As Jesus sought to restore on the Sabbath (but improperly according to the leaders’ complaints) the leaders were seeking to destroy, which surely is wrong. The implied critique recalls the OT: Isa 1:1–17, 13; Isa 58:6–14, 13,14

Is it lawful (exesti) to do good (root = agathos) or to do harm (root = kakos) on the Sabbath, to save (sozo) a life or to destroy (apollumi) it - "Had they approved doing good and saving a life, they would have contradicted tradition; and, on the other hand, they obviously would not have advocated doing evil or killing. They were trapped in the illogic of their heartless, unscriptural traditions. Their only outward recourse was to keep silent." (As recorded in Mk 3:4, cf Lk 13:17,14:6, 20:40, Acts 6:10). (MacArthur) They may have been silent on the outside but they were seething on the inside!

Christ shows us that we are not to be intimidated when it comes to the matter of doing what is right and helping people.

Robert SteinJesus challenged the thought of his opponents. The ultimate issue for him was not doing good versus doing nothing but rather doing good versus doing evil, for failure to do good in such instances is in effect to do evil (cf. Jas 4:17).

Mattoon Jesus laid down the great principle that whatever the rules and regulations may say, it is always right to do a good thing on the Sabbath day. God gave that law to help people, not to hurt them.

MacArthur explains that Jesus' "question was a powerful charge against them on at least three levels. First, it exposed the unlawful nature of their extrabiblical restrictions and traditions. Clearly, the Old Testament law encouraged people to do good and prohibited them from doing harm. But the rabbinic regulations of the Pharisees caused harm to those trying to follow them. As such, it was the Pharisees and not Jesus who were violating God’s law. Second, the question exposed their calloused attitude toward suffering and pain. They were more interested in bringing harm on Jesus than they were in helping the suffering man. Finally, the question targeted the Pharisees’ plot against the Lord. How ironic that the self-professed protectors of the Sabbath secretly wanted the Messiah Himself to violate their rabbinic restrictions so that they could one day put Him to death. The revelation from God made it clear that He was more concerned with His people doing good and showing compassion to others than with their fastidious observance of religious ceremonies and rituals. (The - MacArthur New Testament Commentary – Mark 1-8)

Do you see the horns of the dilemma of the Scribes and Pharisees? To agree that it is lawful to do good and to save a life on the Sabbath would have left them with no basis for accusing Jesus of wrongdoing. On the other hand if they agreed that it is good to do harm and to destroy a life on the Sabbath, they would be going against the clear teaching of the Old Testament, not to mention that they would in essence be admitting that they were filled with evil instead of mercy (In fact they were filled with evil, but refused to vocalize it in this situation). And so as Mark 3:4 says, they did the only wise thing they had done up to this point - they kept their mouth shut! Wouldn't it have been great to have been a fly on the wall! And imagine what the rest of the Jews in the synagogue must have been thinking when they heard Jesus' question! Not only was Jesus' teaching amazing (Mt 7:28-note), His arguments and logic were "watertight"  (indisputable, irrefutable, unassailable, impregnable; , flawless, airtight, bulletproof, conclusive). 

MacArthur Paradoxically these religious errorists scrupulously observed the minutiae of their Sabbath laws while at the same time plotting to murder the Lord of the Sabbath. As David Gooding observes,"The religious mind is a curious thing. It is not necessarily interested in common morality; still less in relieving human misery and affliction. It is interested in keeping rules; particularly the rules which spring from its own cherished interpretations of Scripture or tradition; and to these interpretations it will attribute the inflexible authority of God himself. Let God incarnate, contrary to its interpretations, interpose with a miracle of divine goodness to relieve human misery, then instead of revising its interpretations it will plan to stop such miracles happening again. (According to Luke [Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1987], 116)." 

What the Bible teaches rightly notes that "much that was done by the religious leaders was neither good nor merciful. They had truly neglected mercy, and the Lord Jesus was exposing them. The Lord's question went unanswered for the obvious reason that they would have condemned themselves by a positive or a negative response. This impotence fed their rage." 

Luke 6:10  After looking around at them all, He said to him, "Stretch out your hand!" And he did so; and his hand was restored.

KJV Luke 6:10 And looking round about upon them all, he said unto the man, Stretch forth thy hand. And he did so: and his hand was restored whole as the other.


Parallel Passages

Matthew 12:13 Then He said to the man, “Stretch out your hand!” He stretched it out, and it was restored to normal, like the other. 

Mark 3:5 After looking around at them with anger, grieved at their hardness of heart, He said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” And he stretched it out, and his hand was restored

After looking around at them (cf "His eyes were like a flame of fire" - Rev 1:14-note) Jesus was giving them a chance to respond to the question of Lk 6:9. However as recorded in Mark 3:4 no one said a word! Therefore Jesus proceeded to answer His own question (so to speak), not with words but with deeds. It is easy to say do good, but here Jesus actually did good by healing the man's withered, paralyzed hand. 

Mark alone records Jesus' feeling on this occasion, explaining that Jesus piercing look at them was not with benevolence, but with "anger" (orge a word the NT uses primarily of God's holy, righteous wrath), but it was a look mixed with anguish, for our Lord was "grieved (even Jesus' anger was mingled with sorrow and sadness for He knew what eternal fate awaited these unbelieving men - cf Mt 23:37, 38, Lk 19:41-44, 2 Pe 3:9-note) at their hardness (Picturesque noun porosis = expresses condition of moral insensibility - "deadness that supervenes when the heart has ceased to be sensible of the stimuli of the conscience" = state of "moral ossification" like a callus on one's hand which prevents feeling in the skin beneath) of heart." One can only imagine the consciences of these men as the Creator of the Universe turned and gazed into their eyes! One would have thought that one look from Jesus would have gotten their attention (cf John on the Isle of Patmos - Rev 1:14, 17, 18-note), but their hearts were intractably hardened! We all know a few folks like this, who we've shared the truth with again and again, only to see them take a increasingly harder stance against the truth of the Gospel of Jesus! This is such a tragic scene!

As an aside, Mark 3:4 is the only place in all four Gospels that specifically states Jesus was angry!


Stretch (aorist imperative)(1614) (ekteino from ek = out + teino = to stretch) means stretch out literally, as a gesture with one's hand stretched out. Jesus' stretched His hands out "toward His disciples" (Mt 12:49), to Peter drowning (Mt 14:31), to the leper (Mk 1:41, Mt 8:3, Lk 5:13, cf healing in Acts 4:30). Ekteino is used of the stretching out of Paul's hand as he prepared to offer his verbal defense (Acts 26:1). Ekteino refers to Jesus telling the lame man to stretch out his hand (Mt 12:13, Mk 3:5, Lk 6:10). Ekteino can mean stretching out one's hands with a hostile intent to lay hands on or arrest (Lk 22.53). As a euphemistic figure of speech referring to one's hands stretched out in crucifixion (Jn 21.18). In Mt 26:51 when they came to arrest Jesus Peter "extending his hand, drew out his sword, and struck." In Acts 27:30 ekteino refers to the sailors pretending to "to lay out (stretch out the) anchors from the bow, (Act 27:30). In the Septuagint in Exodus 7:5 ekteino is used of God stretching out His hand over Egypt and deliver Israel (cf Ps 138:7)  frequently of Moses telling Aaron to stretch out his hand and staff (Ex. 7:19; 8:5-6,16-17), and of Moses stretching out his hand to bring plagues (Ex 9:22-23; 10:12,21-22)

And he did so - His obedience (reflecting his belief - see Obedience of faith) resulted in his restoration. J C Ryle adds "The command, at first sight, seems unreasonable, because the man's obedience was apparently impossible. But the poor sufferer was not stopped by any doubts or reasonings of this kind. At once we read that he made the attempt to stretch forth his hand, and, in making it, was cured. He had faith enough to believe that He who bade him stretch forth his hand, was not mocking him, and ought to be obeyed. And it was precisely in this act of implicit obedience, that he received a blessing. "His hand was completely restored!"

NET Note on  was restored - The passive was restored points to healing by God. Now the question became: Would God exercise his power through Jesus, if what Jesus was doing were wrong? Note also Jesus’ “labor.” He simply spoke and it was so.

His hand was restored - Mt 12:13 adds " like the other." In other words, the withered hand (paralysis had produced atrophy of the muscles (see picture) and thus decrease in size of his hand), not only had the nerve function restored but also the muscular tone and strength. When Jesus heals, He heals completely! Praise God!

Restored (600)(apokathistemi from apo = from + kathistemi = to set in order, appoint) means literally to restore to an earlier condition. Apokathistemi in secular Greek was a medical technical term for restoring to health (to cure) (Mt 12:13, Mk 3:5, 8:5, Lk 6:10). This verb is used in the Septuagint to describe restoration of Nebuchadnezzar's reason (Da 4:36-note)

Ryrie -  In one sense Christ did no "work"; He simply spoke, and the hand was restored.

Luke 6:11  But they themselves were filled with rage, and discussed together what they might do to Jesus.

KJV Luke 6:11 And they were filled with madness; and communed one with another what they might do to Jesus.


Parallel Passages - Words in bold are not found in Luke's version

Matthew 12:14 But the Pharisees went out and conspired against Him, as to how they might destroy (apollumi the very word Jesus used in Lk 9:25-note ["perish" in Lk 13:3, 5] which would describe the ultimate fate of Jesus' accusers!) Him. 15 But Jesus, aware of this (), withdrew from there. And many followed Him, and He healed them all,

Mark 3:6 The Pharisees went out and immediately began conspiring with the Herodians (normally bitter enemies of one another! cf "The enemy of my enemy is my friend!") against Him, as to how they might destroy (apollumi)  Him.

John MacArthur comments on the description found only in Mark's Gospel - "In their quest to kill the Messiah, the Pharisees found an interesting ally in the Herodians. The Herodians were an irreligious and worldly political group that supported the dynasty of Herod the Great and, by extension, Rome. These secular Jews were viewed by their fellow countrymen as loyal to Greco-Roman culture and traitors to their own religious heritage. They could not have been more different than the Pharisees, whom they normally regarded as their archenemies. These two groups found a common enemy in Jesus. The Pharisees hated Jesus because He openly opposed their hypocritical system of works-righteousness. The Herodians hated Jesus because His popularity with the people made Him a potential threat to the power of Herod and of Rome (cf. John 6:15; 19:12), which they supported. Consequently, both rejected God’s Son." (MacArthur New Testament Commentary – Mark 1-8)

But - term of contrast - What is the contrast? An amazing miracle had just transpired which should have resulted in praise and glory to God. These religious hypocrites were unimpressed by the power of His miracle, the authority of His words and the compassion of His heart. Instead, it resulted in a fomenting of anger and hatred in these hard-hearted antagonists of Jesus. Albert Einstein was right when he said, "Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds."

They themselves were filled with rage - Notice the principle that what fills you will control you! If one is filled with the Spirit, the Spirit controls (Eph 5:18-note = filled, Eph 5:19ff-note = effect of filling), but if one is filled with rage (= Acts 19:28, jealously = Acts 5:17, 13:45), then rage controls his reasoning ("discussed together what they might do to Jesus.") What a curious response in the face of a great miracle. Their response has to do with the fact that they hated to be publicly humiliated (cf. Mt 23:6, 7). Also they were unable to answer His reasoning as explained above (Lk 6:9, 10). And they must have been frustrated because Jesus healed the man only with a command, without performing any actual “work” for which He could be charged.

In Luke 4:28-29-note we read of a similar reaction, this time to the preaching of Jesus regarding Namaan the leper who was cleansed while none of the lepers in Israel were cleansed which incited the congregation so that... 

"All the people in the synagogue were filled with rage (THEIR FILLING) as they heard these things; (THEIR ATTITUDE/ACTION) and they got up and drove Him out of the city, and led Him to the brow of the hill on which their city had been built, in order to throw Him down the cliff." In that passage Luke used a different Greek word for rage,  thumos from thúo = move impetuously, particularly as the air or wind, a violent motion or passion of the mind; move violently, rush along) describes passion (as if breathing hard) and so speaks of an agitated or "heated" anger that rushes along (impulse toward a thing).

Filled (4092)(pimplemi from the obsolete pláō = to fill) to fill, to make full, to complete. Luke's first use in Lk 1:15 describes John the Baptist's being filled with the Holy Spirit even in his mother's womb (cf Lk 1:41). Luke describes Zacharias as filled with the Spirit (Lk 1:67). In Lk 4:28 he describes the synagogue "filled with rage" in response to Jesus' teaching. In Lk 5:26 he describes the multitude as "filled with fear" (apparently reverential fear as they were glorifying God). At Pentecost and the coming of the Spirit, "they were all filled with the Holy Spirit." (Acts 2:4, cf Peter in Acts 4:8, those who just prayed in Acts 4:31). The religious leaders were filled with jealousy (Acts 5:17, Jews in Acts 13:45) and put the apostles in jail. Paul would be filled with the Spirit (Acts 9:17). To reiterate, a simple study of Luke's uses demonstrates that what fills a person is what controls a person. This begs the question - Do you seek to begin each day filled with the Spirit? (Eph 5:18-note).


Rage (454)(anoia from a = without + nous = mind) describes the characteristic of one who is without understanding (anoos), a wild, mindless rage, one that is empty of understanding. In this passage the idea is that of an irrational (not understandable) anger like one who is insane. They were "out of their mind" with internal anger. Thayer says in this context anoia is "madness” expressing itself in rage." The only other use of anoia is twice in 2 Ti 3:9 "But they will not make further progress; for their folly will be obvious to all, just as Jannes’s and Jambres’s folly was also." Paul is using the OT example of these men to emphasize to Timothy that sooner or later the folly of false teachers and preachers becomes obvious to all. 

Gilbrant on anoia Literally anoia means “not understanding.” Thucydides could say that “to make war (polemēsai) is much anoia” (2.61), i.e., it is foolish (Liddell-Scott). The writer of Proverbs understood anoia to be related to deception (Pr 14:8) and characteristic of a child (Pr 22:15). The Preacher, too, associated anoia with youthful folly (Ecclesiastes 11:10), but he made a link between anoia and anger (thumon [cf. 2349] here translates the Hebrew kā‛as̱, “anger,” “to be angry”). It refers to the malice, hatred, and violence of Simon, who plotted against Onias the High Priest (2 Maccabees 4:6RSV “folly”). So, we see that anoia not only means foolishness in the sense of a “lack of understanding or intelligence” (see Wisdom of Solomon 15:18RSV), it also carries a nuance (determined by context) of malicious folly or anger that is irrational. (Complete Biblical Library Greek-English Dictionary)

Anoia - 5x in the Septuagint - Job 33:23; Ps. 22:2; Pr 14:8 ("foolishness of fools is deceit"); Pr 22:15 ("Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child"); Eccl. 11:10

NET Note on rage - The term anoia denotes a kind of insane or mindless fury; the opponents were beside themselves with rage. They could not rejoice in the healing, but could only react against Jesus.

MattoonTheir anger clouded their minds. By the way, it will do the same thing to you. Let me ask, "What makes you angry?" The answer will reveal a lot about you and what you consider is important.

What the Bible teaches – Wild fury at an act of mercy must be fed by fear, fear of what? Was is a genuine fear that the people would be misled and deceived and eventually damned as a result of following this "Jesus of Nazareth"? Or was it a fear of losing their own prestige and influence? Subsequent developments answer these questions. In the case of many of these proud men, self-interest, greed and a lust for power motivated them.

Steven Cole applies their rage to us - If you struggle with anger, especially irrational, explosive anger that makes you want to harm someone else, Jesus is going to stomp on your toes! If you’ll stop and examine the source of your anger, invariably pride and selfishness will surface. Pride makes me angrily assert that I am right without even listening to the other side: “We don’t need to discuss the matter! I’m right and you’re wrong!” Selfishness means that I didn’t get my way, and I want my way! At the root of all anger is a refusal to submit to the sovereignty of God who is not doing things as I want them done!

Related Resources

John MacArthur observes that "The same signs that convinced the humble of Jesus' divinity and messiahship confirmed the proud in their unbelief and rejection." And I would add even made their hearts that much harder!

Discussed together what they might do to Jesus - Both Matthew 12:14 and Mark 3:6 state specifically what they wanted to do - they wanted to "destroy Him" where the Greek word apollumi means to destroy utterly! The created ones desiring to utterly destroy their self-existentimmutable, eternal Creator! No wonder Luke describes their rage with the rare noun anoia - they were relentlessly irrational!!! Jesus uses apollumi in His rebuttal of the Pharisees in Lk 6:9 ("to save a life or to destroy it"). 

IVP Background Commentary has an interesting note on what they might do to Jesus - Unintentional violations of the Sabbath, or issues of disagreement about what constituted the sabbath (matters that were debated) were normally treated lightly; capital punishment (Ex 31:14; 35:2) was thought appropriate only for those who willfully rejected the Sabbath. Jesus’ opponents go far beyond their own teachings here.

John MacArthurThese two (Sabbath confrontation) incidents (Lk 6:1-11) bring out the stark contrast between Jesus and the Jewish religious leaders. It is the contrast between the representative of God’s truth, and the representatives of false religion; between divine truth and human tradition; between profound knowledge and madness; between goodness and wickedness; between compassion and cruelty; between open honesty and hidden deception; between divine power and human impotence; between the kingdom of God and the kingdom of Satan. Yet God’s grace can penetrate even the most hardened heart. Not all of the Pharisees permanently rejected the Lord Jesus Christ. Acts 15:5 notes that there were “some of the sect of the Pharisees who had believed.” One of those believing Pharisees, Saul of Tarsus, became the great apostle Paul. The self-proclaimed foremost of sinners (1 Tim. 1:15), he was called by the risen Lord to preach the gospel throughout the Roman world. (MacArthur New Testament Commentary – Luke 6-10)

Steven Cole - Put yourself in this man’s place. If you have any sort of physical handicap, the last thing you want is for someone to call attention to it in a public setting. If you have a blemish on your face, you try to camouflage it with make up. Perhaps this man kept his hand pulled up under his robe so that people wouldn’t notice it. Yet Jesus looks directly at the man and says, literally, “Rise and stand in the midst.” In other words, “Front and center where everyone can see your problem.” How embarrassing! Didn’t Jesus know how the man must feel? Think of what this did to his self-esteem! Why couldn’t Jesus have taken him aside privately and not called attention to his problem?

Our pride makes us want to hide our embarrassing problems both from public view and from Jesus’ view: “Withered hand? Why no, I just like to keep it up my sleeve. Nice weather we’ve been having, isn’t it?” But hiding your problems from Jesus and denying that you have them is a sure-fire way not to get them healed. Like this withered hand, it may be something that has hindered your life for years. It has kept you from being all that God wants you to be for His kingdom. Every time anyone gets near to exposing your problem, you quickly withdraw and divert attention from it or get defensive and angry.

But Jesus always goes for the jugular! To the immoral woman at the well, Jesus said, “Go call your husband and come back.” To the rich young ruler, He said, “Go sell everything you have and give it to the poor.” To the woman with the issue of blood (how embarrassing!), who just wanted quietly to get healed and be on her way, Jesus stopped in the busy crowd and demanded, “Who touched Me?” He made her confess in public what had happened to her. To this man Jesus said, “Stretch out your hand.”

What if the man had stretched out his good left hand? “See, it is perfectly good! No problems with my hand!” I think he would not have been healed. Right there in front of the whole crowd, he had to stretch out that embarrassingly withered right hand for it to be made whole. Even so, you may have an embarrassing sin problem that Jesus wants you to confess in order to be healed.

So Jesus often deliberately stomps on your toes. The question is, “How will you respond?” When Jesus stomps on your toes …

2. Don’t resist Him, but respond with obedient faith.

The response of the scribes and Pharisees was quite different than the response of the man with the withered hand. They went away in a rage, determined to do away with Jesus. He went away healed. Let’s learn that …

A. We resist Jesus when we respond in anger and resolve to get rid of Him.

How do you respond when God’s Word confronts your sin? It may be a sin that you have kept hidden from public view. Perhaps you have convinced yourself that it’s really not a big problem, even though it actually causes you a lot of trouble. People often do this with drug and alcohol abuse. They hide the extent of it from everyone else and then they convince themselves that it’s really not so bad. Besides, they tell themselves that they need it to cope and probably everyone else does it to some extent, too. When the Lord confronts them with the problem through caring family or friends, they get defensive and angry. If they go to a church where the Bible is preached, and the sermons confront their sin, they drop out or find a church that isn’t so threatening. I often hear of people who stop coming here because my preaching stepped on their toes. Well, it steps on my toes, too! But the sad thing is, if you walk away from God’s Word, you won’t get healed.

B. We respond with obedient faith when we believe and act on Jesus’ word.

The man with the withered hand pictures how we should respond when Jesus stomps on our toes. He could have refused to do what Jesus asked because of fear of the Pharisees. They easily could take out their anger on him: “You know what our law states. Why didn’t you wait and come back tomorrow for healing? This upstart Jesus is just undermining our heritage and way of life! You shouldn’t have gone along with Him!” But the man wanted to be healed even if it meant enduring the wrath of the Pharisees.

He could have refused to obey Jesus out of embarrassment, as I’ve already said. When Jesus asked him to stretch out his hand, he could have thought, “Is He mocking me? He knows that my problem is precisely that I cannot stretch out my hand!” He could have thought of a lot of excuses why he couldn’t do what Jesus asked him to do. But instead, recognizing his own impotence and need, he believed and obeyed Jesus. He was instantly healed.

There were several elements in his obedient faith that we must follow. First, he recognized and admitted his need and inability. He didn’t angrily say, “Why are you singling me out? I’m no different than anyone else here.” He didn’t deny or camouflage his problem. He didn’t offer to go fifty-fifty in helping Jesus solve the problem. If you want Jesus to heal your soul, you must admit, “I am a hopeless, helpless sinner. My thoughts, my attitudes, my words, and my deeds have continually violated Your holy Word. I cannot save myself. Lord, I need Your powerful Word to save me.”

Second, he believed in Christ’s ability to heal him. This isn’t stated, but it’s implicitly behind his action. Probably he had heard how Jesus had healed the paralytic. He knew how Jesus had healed everyone who gathered at Peter’s door one evening. He had just heard Jesus teach. Now Jesus was looking directly at him. He knew and believed that Jesus had the power from God to heal him. Even so, we must look at the records of Jesus’ life and ministry and come to the conclusion that He is who He claimed to be. He is God in human flesh, the only Mediator between sinners and a holy God. He is able to save my soul.

Third, he acted in obedience to Christ’s command. Jesus commanded him to do something impossible: “Stretch out your hand!” But with the command, Jesus imparted the power and ability to obey it. The man obeyed and was instantly healed. Jesus commands sinners to do something impossible: Repent and believe in the gospel (Mk 1:15). If you will look to Him and cry out, “Lord, I cannot repent and believe by my ability, but grant me repentance and faith by Your grace,” He will do it and you will be instantly saved.

Although the text does not say so, I agree with G. Campbell Morgan’s insight (The Westminster Pulpit [Baker], 1:294) that Jesus didn’t heal this man so that he could wrap his healed hand in a bandage and protect it, but so that he could use it. By exercising and using it, he would maintain the new strength. Even so, when the Lord has delivered us from our sins, He expects us to use our healed lives in service for His glory.

Conclusion Morgan also points out that the only man in the synagogue that Jesus sought out was the man with the greatest need. If you have a problem, it does not exclude you from Jesus. Rather, it makes you the target of His gracious call. You may have an embarrassing problem that you would rather not face up to and you certainly don’t want to expose it in public. But Jesus says to you, “Arise and stand in the midst! Admit that you have a sin problem.” He just kinda sorta stomps on your aorta! But if you will respond in obedient faith, He will say, “Stretch out your hand!” He will impart the power of His salvation, and you will be changed in your heart to the praise of the glory of His saving grace. When Jesus stomps on your toes, don’t resist Him. Respond with obedient faith and He will save you and use you for His glory. (Luke 6:6-11 When Jesus Stomps on Your Toes)


These verses contain another example of our Lord Jesus Christ's mode of dealing with the Sabbath question. Once more we find Him coming into collision with the vain traditions of the Pharisees, about the observance of the fourth commandment “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy." (Exodus 20:8). Once more we find Him clearing the day of God from the rubbish of human traditions, and placing its requirements on the right foundation.

We are taught in these verses, the lawfulness of doing works of mercy on the Sabbath day. We read that before all the Scribes and Pharisees, our Lord healed a man with a withered hand on the Sabbath. He knew that these enemies of all righteousness were watching to see whether He would do it, in order that they might "find an accusation against Him." He boldly asserts the right of doing such works of mercy, even on the day when it is said, "you shall do no manner of work." He openly challenges them to show that such a work was contrary to the law. "I will ask you one thing," He says, "Is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good, or to do evil? to save life or to destroy?" To this question His enemies were unable to find an answer.

The principle here laid down, is one of wide application. The fourth commandment was never meant to be so interpreted, as to inflict injury on man's body. It was intended to admit of adaptation to that state of things which sin has brought into the world. It was not meant to forbid showing kindness on the Sabbath to the afflicted, or attending to the needs of the sick. We may drive in a carriage to minister comfort to the dying. We may stay away from public worship, in order to fetch a doctor, or be useful in a sick room. We may visit the fatherless and widow in trouble. We may preach, and teach, and instruct the ignorant. These are works of mercy. We may do them, and yet keep the Sabbath holy. They are not breaches of God's law.

One thing, however, we must carefully remember. We must take heed that we do not abuse the liberty which Christ has given us. It is in this direction that our danger chiefly lies in modern times. There is little risk of our committing the error of the Pharisees, and keeping the Sabbath more strictly than God intended. The thing to be feared is the general disposition to neglect the Sabbath, and to rob it of that honor which it ought to receive. Let us take heed to ourselves in this matter. Let us beware of making God's day a day for visiting, feasting, journeying, and pleasure parties. These are not works of necessity or mercy, whatever a self-willed and unbelieving world may say. The person who spends his Sundays in such ways as these, is sinning a great sin, and proving himself entirely unprepared for the great rest in heaven.

We are taught, secondly, in these verses, the perfect knowledge that our Lord Jesus Christ possesses of men's thoughts. We see this in the language used about Him, when the Scribes and Pharisees were watching Him. We read that "He knew their thoughts."

Expressions like this are among the many evidences of our Lord's divinity. It belongs to God only to read hearts. He who could discern the secret intents and imaginations of others, must have been more than man. No doubt He was man like ourselves in all things, sin only excepted. This we may freely grant to the Socinian, who denies the divinity of Christ. The texts the Socinian quotes, in proof of our Lord's manhood, are texts which we believe and hold as fully as himself. But there are other plain texts in Scripture which prove that our Lord was God as well as man. Of such texts the passage before us is one. It shows that Jesus was "God over all, blessed forever." (Rom. 9:5.)

Let the remembrance of our Lord's perfect knowledge always exercise a humbling influence upon our souls. How many vain thoughts, and worldly imaginations, pass through our minds every hour, which man's eye never see! What are our own thoughts at this moment? What have they been this very day, while we have been reading, or listening to this passage of Scripture? Would they bear public examination? Would we want others to know all that passes in our mind? These are serious questions, and deserve serious answers. Whatever we may think of them, it is a certain fact that Jesus Christ is hourly reading our hearts. Truly we ought to humble ourselves before Him, and cry daily, "Who can tell how often he offends?" — "Cleanse me from secret faults." (Ps 19:12) "God be merciful to me a sinner!" (Lk 18:13, cf  Ps 26:11, 41:4, 10, 56:1, 57:1, 67:1, 86:3, 119:58, 132)

We are taught, lastly, in these verses, the nature of the first act of faith, when a soul is converted to God. The lesson is conveyed to us in a striking manner, by the history of the cure which is here described. We read that our Lord said to the man whose hand was withered, "Stretch forth your hand." The command, at first sight, seems unreasonable, because the man's obedience was apparently impossible. But the poor sufferer was not stopped by any doubts or reasonings of this kind. At once we read that he made the attempt to stretch forth his hand, and, in making it, was cured. He had faith enough to believe that He who bade him stretch forth his hand, was not mocking him, and ought to be obeyed. And it was precisely in this act of implicit obedience, that he received a blessing. "His hand was completely restored!"

Let us see in this simple history, the best answer to those doubts, and hesitations, and questionings, by which anxious inquirers often perplex themselves, in the matter of coming to Christ. "How can they believe?" they ask us — "How can they come to Christ? How can they lay hold on the hope set before them?" The best answer to all such inquiries, is to bid men do as he did who had the withered hand. Let them not stand still reasoning, but act. Let them not torment themselves with metaphysical speculations, but cast themselves, just as they are, on Jesus Christ. So doing, they will find their course made clear. How, or in what manner, we may not be able to explain. But we may boldly make the assertion, that in the act of striving to draw near to God, they shall find God drawing near to them, but that if they deliberately sit still, they must never expect to be saved.

Luke 6:12  It was at this time that He went off to the mountain to pray, and He spent the whole night in prayer to God.

KJV Luke 6:12 And it came to pass in those days, that he went out into a mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God.

Parallel Passage: 

Mark 3:13-19  And He went up on the mountain and summoned those whom He Himself wanted, and they came to Him.


Mark mentions that Jesus went up on the mountain but interestingly omits the fact that He prayed. Luke frequently shows Jesus in the "secret place" praying to His Father in Heaven and particularly before major events in His ministry. Lk 3:21; 5:16; 9:18, 28, 29; 11:1; 22:32, 40-46. The major event here is of course His selection of the 12 disciples who will carry on His ministry after His death, burial, resurrection and ascension. It is fascinating that in answer to prayer, Jesus is led to select one man, Judas Iscariot, who would follow along with Jesus for almost 3 years but who was never a genuine disciple of Jesus. 

Jesus clear dependence on direction from His Father is an important reminder that we too as His followers need to beseech our Father in Heaven before any and every important decision in our life! How are you doing? Are you as convicted as I am? Would our life be different if we truly practiced this type of dependent prayer? As someone writes Jesus "is our great example for a life of prayer, and if He knew His need of communion with the Father, how much greater is our need!"

It was at this time - This expression of time begs the question "What time?"  Luke has just recorded two confrontations regarding supposed Sabbath violations with the Jewish religious leaders. Presumably this time of extended prayer follows the healing of the man's withered right hand on the Sabbath. In addition given the rising level of hostility toward His ministry it was clearly time to chose disciples who He could equip and train to carry on the ministry after His crucifixion, which would take place approximately 2 years later. 

Constable suggests "In view of mounting hostility it was imperative that He receive direction from His Father in this choice. A mountain or hill was a traditional place to pray since it provided seclusion and its elevation gave the person praying a special sense of nearness to God. Luke alone mentioned Jesus' all night prayer vigil. It shows Jesus' conscious dependence on God, a special emphasis in the third Gospel. The early church followed Jesus' example (Acts 13:2; 14:23; cf. Acts 1:2, 24-26) (Luke 6)

NET Note on to the mountain - The expression to the mountain here may be idiomatic or generic, much like the English “he went to the hospital” (cf. Lk 15:29), or even intentionally reminiscent of Ex 24:12 (LXX), since the genre of the Sermon on the Mount seems to be that of a new Moses giving a new law.

Spent the whole night in prayer - This is the record of Jesus praying all night prayer and in fact the only record of anyone in the NT praying all night! A similar dependence on prayer is seen in choosing servants of the Lord in Acts 13:1-4. 

Darrell Bock notes that "This text is one of several where Luke associates an event with prayer (Luke 1:13; Luke 2:37; Luke 3:21; Luke 5:16; Luke 6:12, Luke 6:28; Luke 9:18; Luke 11:1-2; Luke 18:1; Luke 22:41, Luke 22:45)." (The IVP New Testament Commentary Series – Luke)

MacArthur on Jesus need to pray all night - In His humanity, having set aside the independent use of his divine attributes (Phil. 2:5-8), Jesus sought the Father’s will in choosing the Twelve....Jesus sought the Father's will in everything He did, doing absolutely nothing independently or on His own initiative (John 5:19, 30; 8:28). (MacArthur New Testament Commentary – Matthew 8-15)

In His high, priestly prayer, Jesus mentions His original 12 disciples as a gift from God

“I have manifested Your name to the men whom You gave Me out of the world (His 12 Apostles); they were Yours and You gave them to Me, and they have kept Your word. 7 “Now they have come to know that everything You have given Me is from You; 8 for the words which You gave Me I have given to them; and they received them and truly understood that I came forth from You, and they believed that You sent Me. 9 “I ask on their behalf; I do not ask on behalf of the world, but of those whom You have given Me; for they are Yours; 10 and all things that are Mine are Yours, and Yours are Mine; and I have been glorified in them. 11“I am no longer in the world; and yet they themselves are in the world, and I come to You. Holy Father, keep them in Your name, the name which You have given Me, that they may be one even as We are. 12 “While I was with them, I was keeping them in Your name which You have given Me; and I guarded them and not one of them perished but the son of perdition, so that the Scripture would be fulfilled. 13 “But now I come to You; and these things I speak in the world so that they may have My joy made full in themselves. 14 “I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. 1 5“I do not ask You to take them out of the world, but to keep them from the evil one. 16 “They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. 17 “Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth. 18 “As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world. 19“For their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they themselves also may be sanctified in truth.  (John 17:6-19)

Comment: As an aside it is worth noting that Jesus' prayer in John 17 is predominantly for His original apostles but does include prayer for all believers. His great prayer can be broken down as follows - (1) Jesus' prayer for Himself (John 17:1-5); 2) Jesus' prayer for the apostles (John 17:6-19); and 3) Jesus' prayer for all NT believers who will form the church (John 17:20-26).

Pray (4336) (proseuchomai from pros = toward, facing, before [emphasizing the direct approach of the one who prays in seeking God’s face] + euchomai = originally to speak out, utter aloud, express a wish, then to pray or to vow. Greek technical term for invoking a deity) in the NT is always used of prayer addressed to God (to Him as the object of faith and the One who will answer one’s prayer) and means to speak consciously (with or without vocalization) to Him, with a definite aim. The imperfect tense signifies Jesus is praying over and over, again and again. He did not fall asleep while praying as so many of us do in early morning hour!

Spent the whole night (1273)(dianukteriuo from diá = through, and nuktereúō = to pass the night from núx = night) means to pass the night and this is the only NT use. It describes His prayer as continuing throughout the entire night. 

D.L. Moody said, "I'd rather be able to pray than be a great preacher; Jesus Christ never taught his disciples how to preach, but only how to pray."

Prayer (4335proseuche from pros = toward or immediately before + euchomai = to pray or vow) is the more general word for prayer and is used only of prayer to God. The prefix pros would convey the sense of being immediately before Him and hence the ideas of adoration, devotion, and worship. The basic idea is to bring something, and in prayer this pertains to bringing up prayer requests. In early Greek culture an offering was brought with a prayer that it be accepted. Later the idea was changed slightly, so that the thing brought to God was a prayer. In later Greek, prayers appealed to God for His presence.

Proseuche is used 37 times in the NT. Note the concentration of prayer in the early church! (see uses in Acts below) What has happened to us as a church in America? How might this relate to how infrequently we see the power of the Lord at work in our midst? Is your church a praying church?

Luke's uses of proseuche - Lk. 6:12; Lk. 19:46; Lk. 22:45; Acts 1:14; Acts 2:42; Acts 3:1; Acts 6:4; Acts 10:4; Acts 10:31; Acts 12:5; Acts 16:13; Acts 16:16

Oh, help me, Lord, to take the time
To set all else aside,
That in the secret place of prayer
I may with You abide. —Anon.

One secret of effective prayer is prayer in secret.

Warren WiersbeWhy did He pray all night? For one thing, He knew that opposition against Him was growing and would finally result in His crucifixion; so He prayed for strength as He faced the path ahead. Also, He wanted the Father's guidance as He selected His 12 Apostles, for the future of the church rested with them. Keep in mind that one of the Twelve would betray Him, and Jesus knew who he was from the beginning (John 6:64). Our Lord had real human emotions (Luke 22:41-44; Heb. 5:7-8), and it was through prayer that He made this difficult choice. (The Bible Exposition Commentary – New Testament, Volume 1)

Sledding And Praying

Now it came to pass in those days that [Jesus] went out to the mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God. —Luke 6:12

When the snow flies in Michigan, I like to get my grandkids, grab our plastic sleds, and go slipping and sliding down our backyard. We zoom down the hill for about 10 seconds, and then climb back up for more.

When I travel to Alaska with a bunch of teenagers, we also go sledding. We are hauled by bus nearly to the top of a mountain. We jump on our sleds and, for the next 10 to 20 minutes (depending on levels of bravery), we slide at breakneck speeds down the mountain, holding on for dear life.

Ten seconds in my backyard or 10 minutes down an Alaskan mountain. They’re both called sledding, but there is clearly a difference.

I’ve been thinking about this in regard to prayer. Sometimes we do the “10 seconds in the backyard” kind of praying—a quick, spur-of-the-moment prayer or a short thanks before eating. At other times, we’re drawn to “down the mountain” praying—extended, intense times that require concentration and passion in our relationship with Him. Both have their place and are vital to our lives.

Jesus prayed often, and sometimes for a long time (Luke 6:12; Mark 14:32-42). Either way, let us bring the desires of our heart to the God of the backyards and the mountains of our lives.By Dave Branon

Lord, please challenge us to pray constantly—both in
short sessions and long. As we face the valleys, hills,
and mountains of our lives, may we lift our hearts
and minds to You in constant communication.

The heart of prayer is prayer from the heart.


Rod Mattoon Walter Rauschenbusch gives some great principles on praying.

1. Be simple and direct in your secret prayer. The grace of simplicity is not to be despised in public prayer; but when we call on God in secret, any formality or elaborateness in our petitions is an offense.

2. Pray audibly. You need not lift your voice to be heard in the street, but it is vastly better to pray not merely in your thoughts but also with words. The utterance of our wants helps us to define them.

3. Be honest in your secret prayer. Do not express any want that you do not feel. Do not confess any fault that you do not mean to forsake. Do not keep anything back. Remember that it is He that searcheth the heart to whom you are speaking.

4. Pray earnestly. The words need not be loud, but the desire should be intense. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much. No listless, drowsy petitioning will serve.

5. Do not mock God in your prayers. Do not beg Him to come to you. You know that He is never far from any soul that seeks Him. That prayer is answered before you utter it.

6. Do not ask God to do for you that which He has expressly bidden you to do. Pray always with special reference to the needs of the day and the hour—the warfare to be waged, the temptations to be resisted, the work to be done, the sorrow to be borne. Put your life into your prayer and let it be the most real and the most immediate business of your life.

ILLUSTRATION  I have been asked, "What is the best position to pray?" The story about three preachers answers this question. Three preachers were talking about prayer in general and the appropriate and effective positions for prayer. As they were talking, a telephone repairman was working on the phone system in the background. One minister shared that he felt the key was in the hands. He always held his hands together and pointed them upward as a form of symbolic worship. The second suggested that real prayer was conducted on your knees. The third suggested that they both had it wrong. The only position worth its salt was to pray while stretched out flat on your face. By this time the phone man couldn't stay out of the conversation any longer. He interjected: "I found that the most powerful prayer I ever made was while I was dangling upside down by my heels from a power pole, suspended forty feet above the ground!" Beloved, don't worry about your position, just pray! (Mattoon's Treasures – Treasures from Luke, Volume 1) 

Related Resources:

Spurgeon - Morning and Evening - If ever one of woman born might have lived without prayer, it was our spotless, perfect a Lord, and yet none was ever so much in supplication as he! Such was his love to his Father, that he loved much to be in communion with him: such his love for his people, that he desired to be much in intercession for them. The fact of this eminent prayerfulness of Jesus is a lesson for us-he hath given us an example that we may follow in his steps. The time he chose was admirable, it was the hour of silence, when the crowd would not disturb him; the time of inaction, when all but himself had ceased to labour; and the season when slumber made men forget their woes, and cease their applications to him for relief. While others found rest in sleep, he refreshed himself with prayer. The place was also well selected. He was alone where none would intrude, where none could observe: thus was he free from Pharisaic ostentation and vulgar interruption. Those dark and silent hills were a fit oratory for the Son of God. Heaven and earth in midnight stillness heard the groans and sighs of the mysterious Being in whom both worlds were blended. The continuance of his pleadings is remarkable; the long watches were not too long; the cold wind did not chill his devotions; the grim darkness did not darken his faith, or loneliness check his importunity. We cannot watch with him one hour, but he watched for us whole nights. The occasion for this prayer is notable; it was after his enemies had been enraged-prayer was his refuge and solace; it was before he sent forth the twelve apostles-prayer was the gate of his enterprise, the herald of his new work. Should we not learn from Jesus to resort to special prayer when we are under peculiar trial, or contemplate fresh endeavours for the Master's glory? Lord Jesus, teach us to pray. 

Rich Cathers - I imagine that praying through the night is a little like fasting on its impact in prayer. Andrew Murray: “Prayer is the one hand with which we grasp the invisible. Fasting is the other hand, the one with which we let go of the visible.”

“Fasting helps to express, to deepen, and to confirm the resolution that we are ready to sacrifice anything, even ourselves, to attain the Kingdom of God.”

Sometimes we talk too much about prayer and pray too little.

Andrew Murray also writes, "The unconverted man says, “Conversion is easy tomorrow, but hard today. I’ll put it off.” Even so, prayer that is now difficult appears easy in the future. Alas, you will find it just as hard in the future as now. ... Reading a book about prayer, listening to lectures and talking about it is very good, but it won’t teach you to pray. You get nothing without exercise, without practice. I might listen for a year to a professor of music playing the most beautiful music, but that won’t teach me to play an instrument."

Pray beloved. Practice prayer. Grow in prayer.

Luke 6:13  And when day came, He called His disciples to Him and chose twelve of them, whom He also named as apostles:

KJV Luke 6:13 And when it was day, he called unto him his disciples: and of them he chose twelve, whom also he named apostles;


Parallel Passage: 

Mark 3:13-19  And He went up on the mountain and summoned those whom He Himself wanted, and they came to Him. 14 And He appointed twelve (see comment below for phrase not found in NAS), so that they would be with Him and that He could send them out to preach, 15 and to have authority to cast out the demons

Comment on phrase missing from NAS: The NAS does not include a phrase found in the ESV and the NET (whom he named apostles).

NET Note explains "The phrase "whom he named apostles" is lacking in the majority of MSS (A C(2 )[D] L ¦(1 )33 Û latt sy). Several primary Alexandrian and Caesarean witnesses (a B [C* W] Q ¦(13 )28 pc co) include the phrase, so the external evidence is strongly in favor of this reading, especially since Alexandrian witnesses tend to witness to the shorter reading. It is possible that the Alexandrian witnesses have inserted these words to bring the text in line with Luke 6:13 (TCGNT 69), but against this is the internal evidence of Mark's style: Mark tends toward gratuitous redundancy. Thus the inclusion of this phrase is supported by both internal and external evidence and should be regarded as more likely original than the omission."

Matthew 10:1  Jesus summoned His twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every kind of disease and every kind of sickness.  2 Now the names of the twelve apostles are these: The first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; and James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother;

When day came - After persevering in prayer the Father revealed His will regarding who His Son was to chose for His apostles.

He called His disciples to Him - This call is not the verb  kaleo (which includes the nuances of to invite or to summon) but the verb prosphoneo which is simply to address another person. Mark 3:13 and Mt 10:1 on the other hand says Jesus summoned them (verb prokaleo) which is a legal technical term meaning to summon and was only used in the middle voice meaning to call to oneself, usually the one of higher rank doing the calling. There is there is normally nothing special about the call.

   As, of old, Apostles heard Him
    By the Galilean Lake,
   Turned from home and toil and kindred,
    Leaving all for His dear sake.
   Jesus calls us; o'er the tumult
    Of our life's wild, restless sea,
   Day by day His sweet voice soundeth,
    Saying, "Christian, follow Me!"

Called (4377)(prosphoneo from pros = to + phoneo = to call) means to speak to someone, to call out, to address (Mt 11:16; Lk 7:32; 23:20; Ac 22:2; cf. 21:40) or to call to oneself (Lk 6:13; 13:12; Ac 11:2). The verb speaks of the act of verbal communication between two individuals or groups and is almost exclusively used by Luke.

Gibrant In classical Greek prosphōneō has a variety of meanings depending on the context. It can mean “to speak” or “address” words to someone. A further sense is “to command.” It can be used when “dedicating” a book (Liddell-Scott). To “call by name” is another use. In the Septuagint prosphōneō appears only in noncanonical books. In 1 Esdras 2:21RSV certain Samaritans wrote to the Persian king indicating the necessity they felt to speak to or address him (cf. 2 Maccabees 15:15RSV). In 1 Esdras 6:6RSV it means “to report.” Later in the same chapter prosphōneō describes the act of the Persian king in giving orders: “Let him send us directions” (RSV, verse 22).

Prosphoneo - 7x in 7v -  : addressed(1), addressing(1), call(2), called(1), called...over(1), spoke(1).

Matthew 11:16  "But to what shall I compare this generation? It is like children sitting in the market places, who call out to the other children,

Luke 6:13  And when day came, He called His disciples to Him and chose twelve of them, whom He also named as apostles:

Luke 7:32  "They are like children who sit in the market place and call to one another, and they say, 'We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we sang a dirge, and you did not weep.'

Luke 13:12  When Jesus saw her, He called her over and said to her, "Woman, you are freed from your sickness."

Luke 23:20  Pilate, wanting to release Jesus, addressed them again,

Acts 21:40  When he had given him permission, Paul, standing on the stairs, motioned to the people with his hand; and when there was a great hush, he spoke to them in the Hebrew dialect, saying,

Acts 22:2  And when they heard that he was addressing them in the Hebrew dialect, they became even more quiet; and he said,

   Jesus is calling in accents of tenderness,
   Jesus is calling, my brother, to thee,
   Just as of old, by the waters of Galilee,
    Fell from His lips the command,
    Follow Me!

Disciples ("Students" "Followers" "Learners") (3101)(mathetes  from manthano = to learn which Vine says is "from a root math, indicating thought accompanied by endeavor". Gives us our English = "mathematics") describes a person who learns from another by instruction, whether formal or informal. In Greek and Jewish culture prominent rabbis, orators, philosophers, or teachers would attract followers, who would travel with them from place to place. Discipleship includes the idea of one who intentionally learns by inquiry and observation (cf inductive Bible study) and thus mathetes is more than a mere pupil. A mathetes describes an adherent of a teacher. Mathetes itself has no spiritual connotation, and it is used of superficial followers of Jesus (like those who no longer followed Him in Jn 6:66) as well as of genuine believers.

Ralph Earle - As followers of Jesus we are to be, first of all, learners. We are to learn from Him by listening to Him, learn the truth that will set us free (John 8:32) and keep us from error. But we are also to learn from Him by looking at Him‑ learn how to live a life of beauty and blessing. (Word Meanings in the New Testament)

Barclay writes that "All his life a Christian should be learning more and more about Jesus. The shut mind is the end of discipleship!"

Christ had many disciples. At one point He sent 70 out in pairs to proclaim the gospel (Lk 10:1-note). But on this occasion, He chose 12 and specifically commissioned them as apostles, which is literally the “sent ones." As described below He also bestowed on them special authority to use in the preaching  of the Gospel  (cf. Acts 1:21, 22).

And chose twelve of them - The verb chose implies a selection from a larger number of disciples, of which Christ had many. In Lk 10:1 "the Lord appointed seventy others, and sent them in pairs ahead of Him to every city and place where He Himself was going to come." These 12 are selected and specifically commissioned as apostles or "sent ones" and as discussed below were given special authority to deliver His message on His behalf (cf Acts 1:21, 22).  

MacArthur on twelve The importance of the number was underscored by the addition of Matthias to take Judas’s place (Acts 1:23-26). Since Israel and its leaders were apostate, the Twelve were to serve as the leaders of the new, true Israel of God—the redeemed, believing remnant. Jesus made that connection clear in Luke 22:29-30 when he told the Twelve that they would reign over Israel in the millennial kingdom: “Just as My Father has granted Me a kingdom, I grant you that you may eat and drink at My table in My kingdom, and you will sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.” In MacArthur's Mark Commentary he writes "The number twelve was not arbitrary or accidental. It represented the fact that, in the messianic kingdom, these twelve men would be given the responsibility to rule over each of Israel’s twelve tribes (cf. Luke 22:28-30; Rev. 21:12-14). By selecting twelve apostles, Jesus was sending an unmistakable message to the leaders of Israel that they were spiritually disqualified, and therefore shut out of His kingdom. He confronted them directly, publicly, and repeatedly with such denunciations. Instead of repenting, their determination to kill Him increased." (See related book by Dr MacArthur - Twelve Ordinary Men)

Robertson notes chose is from "The same root (leg) used for picking out, selecting and then for saying. There was a large group of "disciples" or "learners" whom He "called" to Him (prosphoneo), and from among whom He chose (of Himself, and for Himself, indirect middle voice (of eklego). It was a crisis in the work of Christ. Jesus assumed full responsibility even for the choice of Judas who was not forced upon Jesus by the rest of the Twelve. "You did not choose me, but I chose you," (John 15:16, cf Jn 15:19, Jn 6:70, 13:18) where Jesus uses eklego as here by Luke.

MacArthur on chose Like Abraham, Moses, David, Isaiah, and all the prophets, the twelve disciples were chosen by God's sovereign will and for His sovereign purpose, being foreordained to His service before the foundation of the world. That has always been God's way. He divinely chose Israel, He divinely chose His prophets and His apostles, and He divinely chooses those today who become the leaders of His own Body, the church. Acts 13:1-4 and Acts 20:28 clearly teach that the Holy Spirit sovereignly places men in leadership in the church. (MacArthur New Testament Commentary – Matthew 8-15)

Chose (1586)(eklego from ek = out, out of, out from + légo = select, choose) (see related eklektos) means literally to select out, single out or choose out of. The idea in eklego speaks of the sizable number from which the selection is made. It implies the taking of a smaller number out of a larger. For example, in secular use, Virgil's Eclogues (from eklego) are short, selected excerpts taken from a more larger collection of poems.

He chose twelve - Why twelve? Surely this relates to the 12 Tribes of Israel. And none were from the religious establishment of Israel. 

Wiersbe's thoughts on why twelve The number of the disciples is significant because there were twelve tribes in the nation of Israel. In Genesis, God started with Jacob's twelve sons, and in Exodus, He built them into a mighty nation. Israel was chosen to bring the Messiah into the world so that through Him all the nations of the earth could be blessed (Gen. 12:1-3). However, the nation of Israel was now spiritually decayed and ready to reject her own Messiah. God had to establish "a holy nation, a peculiar [purchased] people" (1 Peter 2:9), and the 12 Apostles were the nucleus of this new "spiritual" nation (Matt. 21:43). (The Bible Exposition Commentary – New Testament, Volume 1)

He also named as apostles - These were disciples who were also apostles, which identifies those Who Jesus sent out as messengers and to whom He delegated authority. Luke does not elaborate on the authority Jesus gave these 12, but both Mark and Luke give us additional details. Mark says that Jesus "appointed twelve, so that they would be with Him and that He could send them out to preach, 15 and to have authority (exousia = the right and the might!) to cast out the demons." (Mk 3:14-15). Matthew's description is similar stating that Jesus "gave them authority (exousia = the right and the might!) over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal (therapeuo) every kind of disease and every kind of sickness." (Mt 10:1)

In summary, Jesus gave authority to the 12 apostles (and amazingly presumably including Judas Iscariot!) over demons and diseases, to cast out the former and heal the latter. Notice however that their primary objective was not these "miraculous deeds" but was to preach (Mk 3:14), the verb kerusso (see study of this interesting verb) which means to herald (as a herald [kerux/keryx] would publicly cry out a king's proclamation) the message of Jesus, almost certainly referring to their public proclamation of the Gospel of the Kingdom (cf Lk 9:1-2 below). Kerusso is the very verb Jesus used when He issued His parting commission to the apostles to "Go into all the world and preach (aorist imperative = Conveys a sense of urgency) the Gospel (euaggelion) to all creation." (Mk 16:15) Matthew records that Jesus began His ministry in Galilee "proclaiming (kerusso) the Gospel (euaggelion) of the kingdom" (Mt 4:23, cf Mt 9:35, Mt 24:14, 26:13, Mk 1:14,  Mk 13:10, 14:9, Lk 4:18, Lk 8:1 - all these passages have the combination of kerusso and euaggelion)

John MacArthur comments that "Although Jesus chose the Twelve at this time, He did not officially commission them and grant them authority to heal and cast out demons until later (Luke 9:1-note)."

Luke 9:1-2 (see commentary) states that Jesus "called the twelve together, and gave them power (dunamis) and authority (exousia = the right and the might!) over all the demons and to heal diseases. And He sent them out to proclaim (the same verb as in Mk 3:14 = kerusso and here in present tense = continually proclaim) the kingdom of God and to perform healing (iaomai) ."

Mark 3:14 adds a phrase not found in Luke - so that they would be with Him  - John MacArthur explains "Mark articulates two reasons why He appointed the twelve. The first was simply so that they would be with Him. By constantly spending intimate time with Jesus (for 3 years with God incarnate!), the Twelve would be personally mentored by the Messiah Himself. They would be trained as His apprentices. These twelve men would be responsible for the spread of the gospel and the establishment of sound doctrine, laying the foundation of the church (Eph. 2:20). For the remainder of His earthly ministry, Jesus intensely invested Himself in preparing them. Second, Jesus appointed these men so that He could send them out to preach. They were trained to be the first generation of heralds of the good news of salvation, following in the footsteps of their Lord, who Himself proclaimed the gospel of God (Mk 1:14). Jesus was a preacher, as was John the Baptist and the Old Testament prophets before Him. The disciples were to follow in that legacy of preaching the truth of the gospel. (MacArthur New Testament Commentary – Mark 1-8).

In his comments on Matthew's Gospel MacArthur adds "Much can be learned from the classroom, from good books, and from personal experience. But spiritual growth comes best from close contact with a holy example. A consistently pure life that is patient, loving, reverent, and that has peace of heart and mind is an unmatched tutor for godly living. To hear a godly person talk to others and pray to God, to see him act and react, and to feel his heartbeat for the Lord is to be trained in the best of all schools. The disciples were a humanly defective and inept group, but their Teacher was unsurpassed. His intention was not to teach them to be the best they could be in their own capacities and strength but to teach them to be what they could be through His provision and power....For three years they lived with this Man among men who never uttered a word that was not true, who never sinned in thought or deed, who never lost His temper, and who was never angry except in righteous indignation over evil. Though He was the Son of God, He never followed His own will or took glory for Himself. He cared nothing for His own welfare but everything for the welfare of others, literally wearing Himself out with fatigue in their service. He healed the sick, cleansed the demon-possessed, and raised the dead; and He loved anybody and everybody. Now He appointed the "twelve, that they might be with Him" (Mark 3:14) in order that they might become like Him. And they did. (MacArthur New Testament Commentary – Matthew 8-15)

Herbert Lockyer elaborates on so that they would be with HimThey have no occupation, they have given up the pursuits in which they were engaged: their fishing, their tax gathering, and their agriculture. They carry on no business; they simply walk around and behind their leader, talking to each other or to Him, and when He speaks to the people who begin to gather, they listen just like everybody else. The only thing they do is go with Him from place to place. They are idle, and it begins to be a question of whether it is not doing harm and giving rise to reproach that twelve grown men are being kept idle for no apparent purpose and neglecting obvious duties in order to do so. (All the Apostles of the Bible)

Apostles (652)(apostolos from apo = from + stello = send forth) (Click discussion of apostle) means one sent forth from by another, often with a special commission to represent another and to accomplish his work. It can be a delegate, commissioner, ambassador sent out on a mission or orders or commission and with the authority of the one who sent him. Apostolos referred to someone who was officially commissioned to a position or task, such as an envoy. Cargo ships were sometimes called apostolic, because they were dispatched with a specific shipment for a specific destination. In secular Greek apostolos was used of an admiral of a fleet sent out by the king on special assignment. In the ancient world a apostle was the personal representatives of the king, functioning as an ambassador with the king’s authority and provided with credentials to prove he was the king's envoy.

The original apostles were with Jesus from the time of His baptism by John (the inauguration of His earthly ministry) until His ascension having also witnessed His resurrection (Acts 1:22). The apostles were with Jesus as Peter summarized from the time "starting from Galilee, after the baptism which John proclaimed. You know of Jesus of Nazareth, how God anointed Him with the Holy Spirit and with power, and how He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him." (Acts 10:37-38)

Robertson writes the word apostle (apostolos) "is derived from apostellō, to send (Latin, mitto) and apostle is missionary, one sent. Jesus applies the term (apostolos) to Himself (John 17:3) as does Hebrews 3:1-note. The word is applied to others, like Barnabas, besides these twelve including the Apostle Paul who is on a par with them in rank and authority, and even to mere messengers of the churches (2 Cor. 8:23). But these twelve apostles stand apart from all others in that they were all chosen at once by Jesus himself "that they might be with him" (Mark 3:14), to be trained by Jesus himself and to interpret him and his message to the world. In the nature of the case they could have no successors as they had to be personal witnesses to the life and resurrection of Jesus (Acts 1:22). The selection of Matthias to succeed Judas cannot be called a mistake, but it automatically ceased." 

MacArthur gives the Jewish background on apostles The concept of an apostle can be traced to the Jewish concept of the shaliach, which also referred to a messenger sent with full authority to act on behalf of another. Some rabbis, for example, were sent to the Diaspora (Jews living outside of Palestine) with authority to act on behalf of the Sanhedrin on various matters. A shaliach could also act on behalf of an individual, similar to the modern-day legal concept of power of attorney. Thus in Jewish practice, the shaliach was the same as the one who sent him (cf. John 13:20; Gal. 4:14). David, for example, proposed marriage to Abigail through messengers, and she signified her acceptance of his proposal by washing their feet (1 Sam. 25:40-42). Jesus’ designating the Twelve to act on His behalf would thus have been understood by everyone in that culture. (MacArthur New Testament Commentary – Luke 6-10)

Of the Gospel writers, Luke has the most uses of apostle especially in the book of Acts - 

Lk. 6:13; Lk. 9:10; Lk. 11:49; Lk. 17:5; Lk. 22:14; Lk. 24:10; Jn. 13:16; Acts 1:2; Acts 1:26; Acts 2:37; Acts 2:42; Acts 2:43; Acts 4:33; Acts 4:35; Acts 4:36; Acts 4:37; Acts 5:2; Acts 5:12; Acts 5:18; Acts 5:29; Acts 5:40; Acts 6:6; Acts 8:1; Acts 8:14; Acts 8:18; Acts 9:27; Acts 11:1; Acts 14:4; Acts 14:14; Acts 15:2; Acts 15:4; Acts 15:6; Acts 15:22; Acts 15:23; Acts 16:4


Rod Mattoon applies the principle of "sent ones" (apostle) to our lives. While we are not like Jesus' apostles, we are sent out as His ambassadors of the Great News:

That responsibility continues today with us. We are His ambassadors and are to be sharing the truths of God's Word with others that need Him, and also with those who have already trusted in Him. We too, are walking Bibles and examples of truth.

2 Corinthians 3:2- You are our letter, written in our hearts, known and read by all men;

2 Corinthians 5:20- Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.

1 Timothy 4:12- Let no one look down on your youthfulness, but rather in speech, conduct, love, faith and purity, show yourself an example of those who believe.

ILLUSTRATION - The Greek word apostolos means someone who is sent out. It can be used for an envoy or an ambassador. They were to be his ambassadors to men. A little girl received in Sunday School, a lesson on the disciples. She did not get the word quite right because she was very young, and she came home and told her parents that she had been learning about Jesus' samples. Beloved, the ambassador is the man, who in a foreign land, represents his country. He is supremely the sample of his country. The Christian is ever sent to be an ambassador for Christ, not only by his words, but by his life and deeds. What kind of ambassador are you for the Lord?

Fly With The Eagles

Read: Luke 6:12-16

He called His disciples to Himself; and from them He chose twelve whom He also named apostles. —Luke 6:13

A well-known business leader commented on the winners and the losers in his profession. “The winners fly with eagles,” he said, “and the losers run with turkeys.”

When Jesus selected the small group to whom He would entrust His mission in the world, the men appeared to be anything but “eagles.” Jesus knew that by His power and grace they could soar, but first He had to teach them to fly together.

What a strange mix! There was Peter, impetuous and uncouth. Andrew was simple and believing, but Thomas had a question mark for a mind.

Then consider Matthew and Simon. Matthew probably had held his post as tax collector by cooperating with the Romans. Simon the Zealot may have belonged to a guerrilla band determined to make life miserable for the foreign overlords of Rome by disrupting their trade or by rioting in the streets. Think of it—it would be a little like having one from the political right and one from the political left on the same church board.

Why this diversity? Perhaps to teach us that loyalty to Jesus comes first. Discipleship, true to its name, requires us to learn love and obedience and submission in a diverse community of faith under one Head—Jesus Christ. - Haddon W. Robinson 

God builds His church with different stones,
He makes each one belong;
All shapes and sizes fit in place
To make the structure strong.

Unity among believers comes from our union with Christ.

Steven J. Cole - The task of proclaiming the gospel to the world’s six billion people is daunting. But the principle of multiplication yields amazing results. You’ve heard examples like this: Suppose you had a choice of two jobs, each lasting 35 days. One pays $1,000 a day; the other pays a penny the first day and doubles the amount each day. If you took the first job, you would earn $35,000. But if you too the second job, you’d end up with $171,798,717.84!

I realize that the process doesn’t work perfectly with people. But if every Christian would not only lead one person each year to the Lord, but also train that person to reach one more, it wouldn’t take long for billions to hear, assuming that we are crossing cultural and linguistic barriers. So our goal should not only be to win people to Christ, but to disciple them so that they will reach others who will reach still others. If you don’t have a discipling mindset, you interrupt the process the Lord set in motion.

ILLUSTRATION - A familiar legend reports a conversation between Jesus and the angel Gabriel after the Lord’s ascension back into heaven. They talked about what had happened down here—of Christ’s birth, His life and ministry, His death and resurrection. Then Gabriel asked, “And how will the people of the world get to know about all of it?” Christ’s reply was, “Well, I have a little company of friends there whom I have asked to publish it.” “But what if, for any reason, they let you down and fail to do it?” Gabriel asked. Christ replied, “I have no other plan.”

ILLUSTRATION Someone has commented that a great writer can take a worthless piece of paper, write a poem on it and instantly make it extremely valuable. A famous artist can take a piece of canvas worth fifty cents and by painting a picture on it make it priceless. A wealthy man can sign his name to a worthless piece of paper and make it worth a million dollars. In an infinitely greater way Jesus Christ can take a worthless, corrupted, and repulsive life and transform it into a righteous child of God and a useful worker in His kingdom.

A church in Strasbourg, France, was severely damaged by bombs during World War II. Although a beloved statue of Christ had survived, a ceiling beam had fallen across the arms and broken them off. A local sculptor offered to restore the statue without charge, but the townspeople decided to leave it as it was. Without hands it would be a continuing reminder to them that God does His work through His people, His earthly hands.

Jesus Christ chooses human hands—and minds and arms and feet—as the instruments of His eternal work of redemption. Those who are not offended by His demands for discipleship and who, like the apostles, give their imperfect and flawed lives to Him as living sacrifices (Rom. 12:1), become His means for drawing all men to Himself.

Henry Drummond, the Scottish author and evangelist who wrote the well-known booklet The Greatest Thing in the World, was once invited to speak to an exclusive men's club in London. He began his talk with a provocative analogy that those men easily understood: "Gentlemen, the entrance fee into the kingdom of heaven is nothing; however, the annual subscription is everything."Because Jesus Christ paid the total price for salvation, it costs nothing to become His disciple. But to follow Him as a faithful disciple costs everything we have. We are not only saved by Christ's blood but are bought with it and therefore belong totally to Him (1 Cor. 6:19-20; 7:23).(John MacArthur - MacArthur New Testament Commentary – Matthew 8-15)

Herbert Lockyer in his excellent book "All the Apostles of the Bible" has some excellent introductory remarks regarding the apostles - 

"Some time ago, The Readers' Digest carried a most illuminating article by Ernest Hauser on The Miracle of the Twelve, which bore the subtitle, Hand-picked by Jesus, they were the missionaries of a message that changed the world." Who were these men whom Jesus chose, in whose honor cathedrals have been built, around whom legend has spun golden webs, and whose names have been used naming multitudes since? How was it that principally through the evangelistic efforts within three and a half centuries, proud imperial Rome succumbed to the glad tidings of the Redeemer from the East?

A fact we cannot deny is that no body of men, few or many, has ever exercised so vast an influence on the world as the small circle of ordinary men Jesus called, trained, commissioned, and empowered to further His cause. surveyed from the human angle, the twelve had meager equipment for the great tasks before them. They are referred to as being "unlettered and ignorant men," which means they were unprofessional men absolutely outside the current schools of philosophical, political and religious thought.

To all appearances no mission seemed more hopeless than theirs. Were they not facing and enterprise doomed to failure, seeing they had no social status no organization behind them, no wealth of their own or wealthy backers? How could they then expect success in the world wide campaign awaiting them? They became companions of a Man who was born in poverty, spent most of His years in obscurity, never had any position in life, never wrote a book, was gibbeted as a felon between two thieves, and who lived for only 33 years. How could they expect to bring the impact of their witness to bear upon the world as followers of One who was despised and rejected of men? Yet forward they went to summon the world to His feet, and the world came - and is still coming, for in spite of the godlessness of our age, there are millions today in the world who love this Man of Galilee...

...they were men with like passions as ourselves. With all their noble qualities, they had their imperfections and limitations...He called them to follow Him, not because of what they were in themselves when He met them for the first time, but because of what under His tuition, and by His power they would become...

...It is not what we are, in ourselves, when we hear and respond to Christ's call, but what by His grace and power He can make us as we company with Him. When Jesus called those first disciples, He said,"Follow me, and I will make you" - and there are no self-made Christians in His service;...

...those whom the Lord wants and wins are those He is able to fashion into human books to tell the story of His love and grace. As did those He gathered around Him in the days of His flesh, disciples today begin their apprenticeship by following Christ, daily learning of, and from Him (Matt. 11:29). Then as they grow in grace and knowledge, they become more fitted to represent the Savior in a world of sin and need...

...To us, the apostles were not exceptional men, strangers to our weakness, temptations and difficulties. Jesus chose twelve typical representative men...He chose those who were poor and teachable as the clay out of which to fashion spiritual greatness...

...The twelve Christ chose, then, were twelve men, distinguished by marked degrees of difference and varieties of temper and disposition...

...These twelve types were selected as a representation of a narrow circle of the whole human race, in which there is a great variety of types...

...It has been suggested that in the choice of the twelve, Christ was experimenting on the entire human race. If He could bring these twelve under His power and subdue them to His qualities, it would be proof that all men might be made to yield to His sway. It was a prophetic demonstration that His salvation was adapted to all classes with varieties of disposition and qualities. The selection was also proof that Jesus was both willing and able to employ all manner of gifts and all manner of natures in His service. Doubtless if the choice had been ours we should have left several of the twelve out, and chosen others....

The names of the twelve appear on the foundation stones of the New Jerusalem which their devotion and dedication helped to build"...

...Twelve is the number establishing governmental is a clear illustration to the tribes of a new people. It happily expresses that Jesus was the Divine Messianic King.

Luke 6:14  Simon, whom He also named Peter, and Andrew his brother; and James and John; and Philip and Bartholomew;

KJV Luke 6:14 Simon, (whom he also named Peter,) and Andrew his brother, James and John, Philip and Bartholomew,

Parallel Passage: Words in bold not in Luke

Mark 3:16 And He appointed the twelve: Simon (to whom He gave the name Peter), 17 and James, the son of Zebedee, and John the brother of James (to them He gave the name Boanerges, which means, “Sons of Thunder” [descriptive of their hotheaded and judgmental attitude as in Lk 9:54-note]); 18 and Andrew, and Philip, and Bartholomew....

Comment: It is notable that John is often considered the apostle of love and yet he began as the "apostle of thunder!" What happened? He met Jesus and Jesus transformed his life. Do you know someone who invariably acts like a "son of thunder?" Beloved, pray for them to meet Jesus, Who alone can transform them into a son of love! There is always hope!

Matthew 10:2 Now the names of the twelve apostles are these: The first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; and James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother; 3 Philip and Bartholomew....

Note that the names of the disciples are combined in pairs, probably because it was by pairs that they were sent out "by two and two" (Mark 6:7 = "And He summoned the twelve and began to send them out in pairs, and gave them authority over the unclean spirits.") on their first missionary assignment (Mt 10:1-4, 5).

Simon, whom He also named Peter, and Andrew his brother; and James and John - These four experienced the most intimacy with Jesus (as recorded in the NT) and were considered Jesus' "inner circle." As you progress down the next two groups of four there is a decreasing amount of Scriptural information known about each one and also a decreasing degree of intimacy with Jesus (reaching its nadir with Judas Iscariot). Notice that in this first group of four, there are 2 sets of brothers, and all were fishermen. It is interesting that other than our knowledge of Matthew as a tax collector, we know nothing of the the occupations of the other seven apostles.

Simon, whom He also named Peter - Luke uses the name Peter except in Lk 22:31 and Lk 24:34. Peter is mentioned first in all three lists (Mk 3:16, Mt 10:2, cf Acts 1:13) and Judas Iscariot is last in all three (Lk 6:16, Mk 3:16, Mt 10:4).

Peter (4074) (Petros; Latin = Petrus) is a masculine proper noun which means a "stone" and generally a smaller stone than the feminine form petra which refers to a massive rock or a foundation boulder (eg Mt 7:24-note). Peter is the Greek equivalent of the Syriac or Aramaic name Cephas (Kephas from Aramaic kay fah) which was assigned to Simon by Jesus. Peter was not always a model of rock-like (petros is a symbol of imperturbability as determined from used in Greek literature) firmness. Note for example his actions in Gethsemane, his denial three times of Christ, his unsuccessful attempt at walking on water and his conduct at Antioch (Gal 2:11-21-note) where he is called Cephas. Despite all this Peter was clearly the leader of Jesus’ disciples, the spokesman for the Twelve and one of the three closest to Jesus.

Robertson Simon heads the list (prōtos = first in Mt 10:2 = it does not refer to the order of selection, because Jesus called Andrew, Peter's brother, before He called Peter John 1:40-42. In this context, prōtos (first) indicates foremost in rank) in all four lists including Acts 1:13-14. He came to be first and foremost at the great Pentecost (Acts 2 and Acts 3). The apostles disputed a number of times as to which was greatest."

MacArthur adds - "The apostles were equal in their divine commission, authority, and power; and one day they will sit on equal thrones as they judge the twelve tribes of Israel (Matt. 19:28). But in terms of function, Peter was the first, the foremost member of the twelve. Prōtos is used with the same meaning in 1 Timothy 1:15, where Paul speaks of himself as the "foremost of all" sinners. In Revelation 1:17, Christ speaks of Himself as "the first [prōtos] and the last." No group can function properly without a leader, and Peter was the leading member of the twelve from the beginning." 

John MacArthur observes that "The 12 are always listed in a similar order (cf. Mk 3:16-19; Lk 6:13-16; Ac 1:13). Peter is always named first.The list contains 3 groups of 4. The 3 subgroups are always listed in the same order, and the first name in each subgroup is always the same (Philip’s is always first in group two, and James the son of Alphaeus’s always heads group three), though there is some variation in the order within the subgroups—but Judas Iscariot is always named last...These groups are arranged in order of decreasing intimacy with Christ. The first group consists of two pairs of brothers: Peter and James, and John and Andrew; the second of Philip, Bartholomew (Nathanael), Matthew, and Thomas; the last of James the son of Alphaeus, Simon the Zealot, Judas the son of James, and Judas Iscariot. Those in group one, Peter, James, John, and Andrew, were the first four called by Jesus to be His disciples (John 1:35-42), the most intimate with Him, and those about whom the most is known. While there is some information about those in group two, very little is known about group three....The temperaments of the apostles about whom we know the most were very much different. Peter, for example, was impulsive, a natural leader, and a man of action. Almost invariably he was the first to react to something that was said or done by saying or doing something himself. John, on the other hand, appears to have become quiet and pensive under Christ's tutelage. In the first twelve chapters of Acts we read of Peter and John working closely together during the early days of the church. It must have been a helpful learning experience for both of them, with Peter anxious to charge ahead and John wanting to think things over first. Peter did all the preaching. Men of equal status and office and even of similar giftedness may have different functions relative to the uniqueness of their gifts. (MacArthur New Testament Commentary – Matthew 8-15).

Mattoon on PeterGod greatly used Peter, especially on the day of Pentecost. He wrote two epistles which are vital for the Christian life and spiritual growth. Peter warned us of Satanic attack and the importance of the Word of God. His ministry was geared toward the Jewish people while Paul focused on the Gentiles.Of the final days of the apostle Peter in Rome, Jowett wrote that Peter was cast into a horrible prison called the Mamertine and for nine months, in absolute darkness. He endured monstrous torture manacled to a post. In spite of all the suffering Peter was subjected to, he converted his jailers, Processus, Martinianus, and forty-seven others. Peter met his death at the hand of the Romans in Nero's circus, 67 AD. Others state that he was crucified. Jerome said that he was crucified, his head being down and his feet upward, himself so requiring, because he was (he said) unworthy to be crucified after the same form and manner as the Lord was.

Rich Cathers - At the end of his life he had made it to Rome.  When he found out that Caesar Nero was planning on executing him, he fled the city and met Jesus coming the other way into the city.  He asked Jesus, “Where are You going?” (Quo Vadis)  Jesus said, “I am coming again to be crucified.”  Peter realized that Jesus was talking about Peter’s death, so Peter turned around, went back to the city, and was crucified.  When they crucified him, he asked that he be crucified upside down because he did not feel he was worthy to be crucified in the same way His Lord was.

NET Note - In the various lists of the twelve, Simon (that is, Peter) is always mentioned first (Matt 10:1–4; Mark 3:16–19; Acts 1:13) and the first four are always the same, though not in the same order after Peter.

Andrew his brother - His name is recorded 13x in 12v - Matt. 4:18; Matt. 10:2; Mk. 1:16; Mk. 1:29; Mk. 3:18; Mk. 13:3; Lk. 6:14; Jn. 1:40; Jn. 1:44; Jn. 6:8; Jn. 12:22; Acts 1:13. Matthew records Jesus' first calling of Andrew 

Now as Jesus was walking by the Sea of Galilee, He saw two brothers, Simon who was called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen. 19 And He said to them, “Follow (deute) Me, and I will make you fishers of men.” 20 Immediately they left their nets and followed Him. (Mt 4:18-20, cf Mk 1:16-18)

MacArthur summarizes Andrew's life - "The brother of Peter, Andrew had been a disciple of John the Baptist who began following Jesus early in the Lord’s public ministry (cf. John 1:40). The few times Andrew is highlighted in the Gospels, he is often seen bringing people to Jesus—whether it was his brother Peter (John 1:41-42), a boy with five loaves and two fish (John 6:8-10), or a group of Greeks who wanted to see the Lord (John 12:20-22). According to tradition, Andrew died shortly after introducing the wife of a provincial governor to the gospel of Jesus Christ. When she refused to recant her faith, her angry husband had Andrew crucified on an X-shaped cross. He reportedly hung there for two days, preaching the gospel to anyone passing by until he died. (MacArthur New Testament Commentary – Mark 1-8) (For more detailed analysis see Dr MacArthur's sermon - Luke 6:14 Common Men, Uncommon Calling: Andrew and James)

Mattoon on Andrew, the Brother of Peter - In his later ministry, it is believed that Andrew went to the foothills of the Caucasus mountains (present day Georgia in Russia) and while there he preached to the Scythians as far as the Caspian Sea. He also went to Byzantium which is present day Istanbul in Turkey and from there, to Greece. In fact, he traveled to Thrace and Macedonia, down through the Corinthian Gulf to Patros and it was in Patros that Andrew was martyred. In the church of St. Andrew in Patros, Greece, there is a book written in Greek which sheds light on his martyrdom.The following is written: "Aigeatis who was the governor of Patros became enraged at Andrew for his preaching and ordered him to stand before the tribunal in his attempt to do away with the Christian Faith. When Andrew resisted the tribunal, the governor ordered him crucified. Andrew remained tied to the cross with thick tight ropes for three days and his last words were: "Accept me, O Christ Jesus, whom I saw, whom I love, and in whom I am; accept my spirit in peace in your eternal realm." It's believed that Andrew died on the last day of Nov., 69 A.D.

James - Luke records his fate at the hands of wicked Agrippa I (circa 45 AD) who "he had James the brother of John put to death with a sword."(Acts 12:2). (For more detailed analysis see Dr MacArthur's sermon - Luke 6:14 Common Men, Uncommon Calling: Andrew and James)

Mattoon on James the Great - Of the three apostles who comprised the inner circle, Peter, James and John, we know the least about the apostle James. Not much is known of his ministry after the Lord's resurrection, but it is believed that he lived another 14 years before his martyrdom. Within this 14 year period, James visited the Jewish colonist and slaves in Spain to preach the Gospel. We do know that the apostle James was the eldest brother of the apostle John and that their father's name was Zebedee (their mother's name was Salome). John Foxe states that James the son of Zebedee, was John's older brother and a relative of our Lord because his mother Salome, was cousin to the Virgin Mary. James was martyred for his faith in Christ. In fact, he was the first apostle put to death. Clemens Alexandrinus states that as James was led to the place of martyrdom, his accuser was brought to repent of his conduct by the apostle's extraordinary courage, and fell down at his feet to request his pardon, professing himself a Christian, and resolving that James should not receive the crown of martyrdom alone. Hence they were both beheaded at the same time. Thus, did he cheerfully and resolutely receive that cup, which he had told our Savior he was ready to drink. These events took place in AD 44 by the order of Herod Agrippa I.

John - See MacArthur's sermon for more detailed portrait of the apostle John - Luke 6:14 Common Men, Uncommon Calling: John

Mattoon on John, the Brother of James  - The "beloved disciple," was brother to James the Great. The apostle John rose to a position of influence within world-wide Christianity and shortly before the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans in 70 AD, he moved to Ephesus. He became the pastor of the church in Ephesus and had a special relationship to other churches in the area, as we know from the letters to the Seven Churches in Asia, in the book of Revelation. From Ephesus he was ordered to be sent to Rome, where it is affirmed he was cast into a cauldron of boiling oil. He escaped by miracle, without injury. Domitian after wards banished him to the Isle of Patmos, where he wrote the Book of Revelation. Nerva, the successor of Domitian, recalled him. Other New Testament books accredited to John are the Gospel of John, along with 1st, 2nd and 3rd John. All of the apostles met a violent death, however, John died peacefully in Ephesus, at an advanced age, around the year 100 AD.

Philip - 36x in 35v - Matt. 10:3; Matt. 14:3; Matt. 16:13; Mk. 3:18; Mk. 6:17; Mk. 8:27; Lk. 3:1; Lk. 6:14; Jn. 1:43; Jn. 1:44; Jn. 1:45; Jn. 1:46; Jn. 1:48; Jn. 6:5; Jn. 6:7; Jn. 12:21; Jn. 12:22; Jn. 14:8; Jn. 14:9; Acts 1:13; Acts 6:5; Acts 8:5; Acts 8:6; Acts 8:12; Acts 8:13; Acts 8:26; Acts 8:29; Acts 8:30; Acts 8:31; Acts 8:34; Acts 8:35; Acts 8:37; Acts 8:38; Acts 8:39; Acts 8:40; 

MacArthur's summary of Philip Philip was the leader of the second group. According to John 1:44, he was from Bethsaida, the same hometown as Peter and Andrew. Before the feeding of the five thousand, Philip openly wondered where they could buy bread for so many people (John 6:5). In the upper room, it was Philip who said to Jesus, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us” (John 14:8). In response, “Jesus said to him, ‘Have I been so long with you, and yet you have not come to know Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; how can you say, “Show us the Father”?’” (Jn 14:9-10). Philip’s thickheadedness on both of those occasions was typical of all the disciples, who only came to fully understand the truth about Jesus after His resurrection. Bartholomew began to follow Jesus through the influence of Philip (John 1:45). (Ibid) (For more detail see Matthew 10:3 The Master's Men, Philip and Bartholomew).

Mattoon on Philip - Most of his latter ministry took place in Galatia (in Turkey) where he was accompanied by Bartholomew. In the company of the apostle Philip, the apostle Bartholomew went to Asia Minor and labored in Hierapolis, near Laodicea and Colosse, in what is modern day Turkey. While in Hierapolis, it is said that the wife of the Roman proconsul was healed by the apostles Philip and Bartholomew, that she became a Christian, and that her husband ordered Philip and Bartholomew to be put to death by crucifixion. Sadly, Philip was crucified at the age of 87 around AD 54.

Bartholomew - His name means “son of Tolmai” in Aramaic. Most commentators agree that this almost surely the man named Nathanael ("Given of God") about which Jesus spoke in John's Gospel

Philip found Nathanael and *said to him, “We have found Him of Whom Moses in the Law and also the Prophets wrote–Jesus of Nazareth, the Son of Joseph.” 46 Nathanael said to him, “Can any good thing come out of Nazareth?” Philip *said to him, “Come and see.” 47 Jesus saw Nathanael coming to Him, and said of him, “Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom there is no deceit!” 48 Nathanael said to Him, “How do You know me?” Jesus answered and said to him, “Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you.” 49 Nathanael answered Him, “Rabbi, You are the Son of God; You are the King of Israel.” 50 Jesus answered and said to him, “Because I said to you that I saw you under the fig tree, do you believe? You will see greater things than these.” (John 1:45-50)

Herbert Lockyer - The familiar Latin phrase, Multum in parvo, means "much in little," and all we know from the Bible of Bartholomew's character is derived from seven verses John gives in the opening chapter of his gospel. Outside of these we have no further clue of the kind of man he was. Yet a great view may be seen through a window of seven panes, which is another way of saying that there can be much in little (John 1:45-51).

For more detail see Matthew 10:3 The Master's Men, Philip and Bartholomew

Mattoon on Bartholomew or Nathaniel - Bartholomew preached in several countries and is reported to have labored in the area around the south end of the Caspian Sea, in the section that was then called Armenia. The modern name of the district where he died is Azerbaijan and the place of his death, called in New Testament times Albanopolis, is now Derbend, which is on the west coast of the Caspian Sea. Having translated the Gospel of Matthew into the language of India, he propagated it in that country. He was at length, cruelly beaten and then crucified by the impatient idolaters. The apostle Bartholomew is said to have been martyred in the year 68 AD

Luke 6:15  and Matthew and Thomas; James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon who was called the Zealot;

KJV Luke 6:15  Matthew and Thomas, James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon called Zelotes,

Parallel passages: Words in bold not in Luke.

Mark 3:18 and Andrew, and Philip, and Bartholomew, and Matthew, and Thomas, and James the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus, and Simon the Zealot;

Matthew 10:3 Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; 4 Simon the Zealot, and Judas Iscariot, the one who betrayed Him. 

Matthew - Jesus had called him in Lk 5:27-note (cf Mt 9:9) "After that He went out and noticed a tax collector named Levi sitting in the tax booth, and He said to him, “Follow (present imperative = continually) Me.” Levi's name was changed to Matthew ("the gift of God").

For a more detailed portrait of Matthew and Thomas see sermons from Dr MacArthur - 

Mattoon on Matthew - Matthew was a tax collector, and thus, considered a traitor and renegade by the Jewish people until he quit and followed the Lord. He wrote his gospel in Hebrew, which was afterwards translated into Greek by James the Less. The scene of his labors was Parthia, and Ethiopia, in which latter country he suffered martyrdom, being slain with a halberd in the city of Nadabah, AD 60. A halberd consisted of an axe blade that was topped with a spike mounted long shaft. It always had a hook or thorn on the back side of the axe blade for grappling mounted combatants.

Thomas is the “doubting Thomas” in the passages below. "Strong tradition from church history indicates that Thomas took the gospel to India, where he was martyred." (MacArthur) Thomas' name occurs 11x in 11v - Matt. 10:3; Mk. 3:18; Lk. 6:15; Jn. 11:16; Jn. 14:5; Jn. 20:24; Jn. 20:26; Jn. 20:27; Jn. 20:28; Jn. 21:2; Acts 1:13. The following verses give some specific aspects of his life.

John 11:16 Therefore Thomas, who is called Didymus (means "Twin"), said to his fellow disciples, “Let us also go, so that we may die with Him.” (Context = Jn 11:13-15)

John 14:5 Thomas said to Him, “Lord, we do not know where You are going, how do we know the way?”

John 20:24  But Thomas, one of the twelve, called Didymus, was not with them when Jesus came. 25 So the other disciples were saying to him, “We have seen the Lord!” But he said to them, “Unless I see in His hands the imprint of the nails, and put my finger into the place of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe.” 26  After eight days His disciples were again inside, and Thomas with them. Jesus came, the doors having been shut, and stood in their midst and said, “Peace be with you.” 27 Then He said to Thomas, “Reach here with your finger, and see My hands; and reach here your hand and put it into My side; and do not be unbelieving, but believing.” 28  Thomas answered and said to Him, “My Lord and my God!” 29 Jesus said to him, “Because you have seen Me, have you believed? Blessed are they who did not see, and yet believed.”

John 21:1  After these things Jesus manifested Himself again to the disciples at the Sea of Tiberias, and He manifested Himself in this way. 2  Simon Peter, and Thomas called Didymus, and Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, and the sons of Zebedee, and two others of His disciples were together.

Acts 1:13  When they had entered the city, they went up to the upper room where they were staying; that is, Peter and John and James and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon the Zealot, and Judas the son of James.

Mattoon on Thomas - Thomas is also know as Didymus, which means "twin." The apostle Thomas is said to have been a fearless evangelist and a great builder of churches. After the resurrection of the Lord Christ Jesus, Thomas went to Babylon. It is believed that he established the first Christian church there. He is also known to have gone to Persia and from there he went to India and preached the Gospel making many converts. It is also believed that the apostle Thomas evangelized as far as China, and while in India, he suffered martyrdom, being killed with a lance (he was buried in Mylapore, India, which is now a suburb of Madras.)

James the son of Alphaeus - The name Alphaeus (referring to James) occurs 4x in 4v - Matt. 10:3; Mk. 3:18; Lk. 6:15; Acts 1:13. Alphaeus in Mk. 2:14 referst to Matthew "Levi the son of Alphaeus." In Mark 15:40, James the son of Alphaeus was  called James the Less. His mother was named Mary and she also followed Jesus (Mk 16:1; Lk 24:10).

Simon the Zealot - (Matthew 10:4; Mark 3:18  Acts 1:13) This designation serves to distinguish this Simon from Simon Peter. Matthew and Mark both describe Simon as "Zealot" but they both use a different Greek word, kananaios, which means Cananaean, and in Aramaic means zealot or enthusiast. The ESV is more accurate calling him "Simon the Cananaean." (Mt 10:4ESV, Mk 3:18ESV). Likewise Young's Literal Translation has "Simon the Cananite." For more on Simon the Zealot see Dr MacArthur's sermon Luke 6:15-16 Common Men, Uncommon Calling: James, Simon, and Judas

Zealot (2208)(zelotes same as zelotes from zeo = to boil, be hot or glow) describes one zealous (fervent and enthusiastically devoted) for or eagerly desirous of something. A zelotes is one who is earnestly committed to a side or cause and thus could be described as an enthusiast, an adherent, or a loyalist. In Simon's case his zealousness was associated with the political party which radically opposed Roman rule. (Wikipedia). 

Wiersbe has an interesting note on Simon the Zealot noting that "perhaps the word Zelotes translates from the Hebrew word qanna which means "jealous for God, zealous for God's honor." (It is transliterated in Matt. 10:4 as "Simon the Canaanite" [qanna].) Whether Simon was known for his zeal to honor God, or his membership in a subversive organization, we cannot be sure—possibly both." (Ibid)

It is interesting  that Matthew's background as a Roman collaborator (tax collectors were hired by the Romans) would have ostensibly led to a natural (and presumably extreme) antagonism between he and Simon the Zealot who obviously disliked the Romans (and presumably those who collaborated with them). The fact that Jesus had prayed (so that these two potentially incompatible individuals were in the Father's will) and He was led to chose these two polar opposites who would be able to work together shows not only the power of prayer but the power of Jesus' influence in their life, not to mention the power of the life transforming Gospel that they must have heard many times a day. There is surely a powerful lesson here for all of us in the Body of Christ, where Matthew the tax collector types are frequently juxtaposed to Simon the Zealot types. If they are both believers, transformed by the Gospel, they should be able to coexist as equals for we all stand on the same level at the foot of Jesus' Cross! Do you know some Matthews and Simons who are having difficult working together for the Kingdom? This background on Jesus' disciples would be good for them to study (you probably should lead the study however!)

Darrell Bock writes "One (Matthew) would have collected monies for Rome, while the other (Simon the Zealot) would have fought to overcome Roman sovereignty. Yet in Jesus they became part of the same community, functioning side by side. These are people from diverse strata and perspectives, woven together by Jesus into a newly formed community. Finally there is Judas, who is named with the note that he would betray Jesus. Even the seeds of discord and rejection were present in the inner circle. So it was after a night in prayer." (The IVP New Testament Commentary Series – Luke)

Barclay - Matthew was a tax-collector, and, therefore, a traitor and a renegade. Simon was a Zealot, and the Zealots were fanatical nationalists, who were sworn to assassinate every traitor and every Roman they could. It is one of the miracles of the power of Christ that Matthew the tax-collector and Simon the Zealot could live at peace in the close company of the apostolic band. When men are really Christian the most diverse and divergent types can live at peace together. It was said of Gilbert Chesterton and his brother Cecil, "They always argued, they never quarrelled." It is only in Christ that we can solve the problem of living together; because even the most opposite people may be united in their love for him. If we really love him, we will also love each other. (Daily Study Bible)

NET Note on Zealot - The designation Zealot means that Simon was a political nationalist before coming to follow Jesus. He may not have been technically a member of the particular Jewish nationalistic party known as “Zealots” (since according to some scholars this party had not been organized at that time), but simply someone who was zealous for Jewish independence from Rome, in which case the descriptive term applied to Simon means something like “Simon the patriot” (see L&N  = "one who is deeply committed to something and therefore zealous—‘enthusiast, zealous person.’ ‘being deeply committed to God even as all of you are today’ Ac 22:3.and especially 11.88 = "a member of a Jewish nationalistic group seeking independence from Rome—‘zealot, nationalist.’").

 Bock adds an interesting note on Zealot There is debate about the exact force of the term Zealot. Josephus describes a fourth Jewish party beyond the Pharisees, Sadducees and Essenes (Jewish Wars 2.8.1 117-18; Antiquities 18.1-2 1-11; 18.1.6 23-25). They were a nationalist political group that opposed Rome, even to the point of violence. This is the group Josephus blames for the nation's war with Rome. What is debated is whether a formal "Zealot" party existed before A.D. 66. It is difficult to be certain whether a formal party existed during the time of Jesus' ministry. It is likely, though, that Zealot-type attitudes did exist at this time. (The IVP New Testament Commentary Series – Luke)

Luke 6:16  Judas the son of James, and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor.

KJV Luke 6:16 And Judas the brother of James, and Judas Iscariot, which also was the traitor.

Parallel passages: Words in bold not in Luke.

Mark 3:18b  Thaddaeus, and Simon the Zealot; 19 and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed Him. 

Matthew 10:3b Thaddaeus; 4 Simon the Zealot, and Judas Iscariot, the one who betrayed Him. 

Judas the son of James  - He is also called Thaddeus, a surname of the apostle Jude. The KJV has another name "Lebbaeus, whose surname was Thaddaeus." (Mt 10:3KJV), but Lebbaeus is not included in the other modern translations (see NET Note below). 

NET Note of Thaddeus and Lebbaeus - Witnesses differ on the identification of the last disciple mentioned in v. 3: He is called Lebbaios, "Lebbaeus" in D, Judas Zelotes in it, and not present in sy(s). The Byzantine text, along with a few others (C([)*(],2 )L W Q ¦(1 )33 Û), conflates earlier readings by calling him "Lebbaeus, who was called Thaddaeus," while codex 13 pc conflate by way of transposition ("Thaddaeus, who was called Lebbaeus"). But excellent witnesses of the earliest text types (a B ¦(13 )892 pc lat co) call him merely Thaddaios, "Thaddaeus", a reading which, because of this support, is most likely correct.  

John has this note on Judas the son of James:

Judas (not Iscariot) said to Him, “Lord, what then has happened that You are going to disclose Yourself to us and not to the world?” (Jn 14:22)

How sad that Judas (not Iscariot) has to be paired with Judas Iscariot! For more on Judas not Iscariot see Dr MacArthur's sermon Luke 6:15-16 Common Men, Uncommon Calling: James, Simon, and Judas

Judas Iscariot Who became a traitor - The KJV "was the traitor" is not as accurate to the Greek text which more literally reads who "became betrayer." (Lk 6:16YLT) As A T Robertson points out "He gave no signs of treachery when chosen." 

For more discussion of the tragic traitor Judas see Dr John MacArthur's two part sermon series and his sermon from Matthew - 

NET Note - There is some debate about what the name Iscariot means. It probably alludes to a region in Judea and thus might make Judas the only non-Galilean in the group. Several explanations for the name Iscariot have been proposed, but it is probably transliterated Hebrew with the meaning “man of Kerioth” (there are at least two villages that had that name). For further discussion see D. L. Bock, Luke (BECNT), 1:546; also D. A. Carson, John, 304.

Darrell Bock on the name Iscariot - The name Iscariot is much discussed. Four meanings are suggested (for three of these views, see Marshall 1978:240): (1) it alludes to a region (Kerioth) in Judea (Josh 15:25; Jer 48:24, 31); (2) it is an Aramaic term meaning "false one"; (3) it comes from the Latin sicarius, which means "dagger man"; (4) it means "dyer" and thus alludes to Judas's occupation. It is not clear what the exact force is, though the genitive references in John 6:71 and John 13:26 suggest a familial reference. This favors the first option (Schürmann 1969:318 n. 51).  (The IVP New Testament Commentary Series – Luke)

MacArthur From a human standpoint, these twelve men were odd choices, because they were uneducated, untrained, and uninfluential. Yet, from God’s standpoint, they were the perfect choice—weak and imperfect instruments through whom His power would be gloriously displayed (cf. 1 Cor. 1:26-31). Before their lives were over, they had been used to turn the world upside down (cf. Acts 17:6). That our Lord could use such ordinary vessels to accomplish His great purposes underscores the supernatural purpose of His sovereign power. As Mark’s sweeping summary has shown, that power was demonstrated in the miracles Jesus performed. It was also evidenced in the men whom He chose. He took a dozen ordinary men and transformed them into the powerful foundation stones of His church (cf. Eph. 2:20; Rev. 21:14). (MacArthur New Testament Commentary – Mark 1-8)

The following is from A B Bruce's classic (and highly recommended book) Training of the Twelve (free online)

Chapter 4 THE TWELVE - Matt. 10:1–4; Mark 3:13–19; Luke 6:12–16; Acts 1:13.

The selection by Jesus of the twelve from the band of disciples who had gradually gathered around His person is an important landmark in the Gospel history. It divides the ministry of our Lord into two portions, nearly equal, probably, as to duration, but unequal as to the extent and importance of the work done in each respectively. In the earlier period Jesus labored single-handed; His miraculous deeds were confined for the most part to a limited area, and His teaching was in the main of an elementary character. But by the time when the twelve were chosen, the work of the kingdom had assumed such dimensions as to require organization and division of labor; and the teaching of Jesus was beginning to be of a deeper and more elaborate nature, and His gracious activities were taking on ever-widening range.

It is probable that the selection of a limited number to be His close and constant companions had become a necessity to Christ, in consequence of His very success in gaining disciples. His followers, we imagine, had grown so numerous as to be an incumbrance and an impediment to his movements, especially in the long journeys which mark the later part of His ministry. It was impossible that all who believed could continue henceforth to follow Him, in the literal sense, whithersoever He might go: the greater number could now only be occasional followers. But it was His wish that certain selected men should be with Him at all times and in all places, — His travelling companions in all His wanderings, witnessing all His work, and ministering to His daily needs. And so, in the quaint words of Mark, “Jesus calleth unto Him whom He would, and they came unto Him, and He made twelve, that they should be with Him.”47

These twelve, however, as we know, were to be something more than travelling companions or menial servants of the Lord Jesus Christ. They were to be, in the mean time, students of Christian doctrine, and occasional fellow-laborers in the work of the kingdom, and eventually Christ’s chosen trained agents for propagating the faith after He Himself had left the earth. From the time of their being chosen, indeed, the twelve entered on a regular apprenticeship for the great office of apostleship, in the course of which they were to learn, in the privacy of an intimate daily fellowship with their Master, what they should be, do, believe, and teach, as His witnesses and ambassadors to the world. Henceforth the training of these men was to be a constant and prominent part of Christ’s personal work. He was to make it His business to tell them in darkness what they should afterwards speak in the daylight, and to whisper in their ear what in after years they should preach upon the housetops.48

The time when this election was made, though not absolutely determined, is fixed in relation to certain leading events in the Gospel history. John speaks of the twelve as an organized company at the period of the feeding of the five thousand, and of the discourse on the bread of life in the synagogue of Capernaum, delivered shortly after that miracle. From this fact we learn that the twelve were chosen at least one year before the crucifixion; for the miracle of the feeding took place, according to the fourth evangelist, shortly before a Passover season.49 From the words spoken by Jesus to the men whom He had chosen, in justification of His seeming doubt of their fidelity after the multitude had deserted Him, “Did I not choose you the twelve, and one of you is a devil?”50 we conclude that the choice was then not quite a recent event. The twelve had been long enough together to give the false disciple opportunity to show his real character.

Turning now to the synoptical evangelists, we find them fixing the position of the election with reference to two other most important events. Matthew speaks for the first time of the twelve as a distinct body in connection with their mission in Galilee. He does not, however, say that they were chosen immediately before, and with direct reference to, that mission. He speaks rather as if the apostolic fraternity had been previously in existence, his words being, “When He had called unto Him His twelve disciples.” Luke, on the other hand, gives a formal record of the election, as a preface to his account of the Sermon on the Mount, so speaking as to create the impression that the one event immediately preceded the other.51 Finally, Mark’s narrative confirms the view suggested by these observations on Matthew and Luke, viz. that the twelve were called just before the Sermon the Mount was delivered, and some considerable time before they were sent forth on their preaching and healing mission. There we read: “Jesus goeth up into the mountain (τὸ ὄρος),52 and calleth unto Him whom He would” — the ascent referred to evidently being that which Jesus made just before preaching His great discourse. Mark continues: “And He ordained twelve, that they should be with Him, and that He might send them forth to preach, and to have power to heal sicknesses and to cast out devils.” Here allusion is made to an intention on Christ’s part to send forth His disciples on a mission, but the intention is not represented as immediately realized. Nor can it be said that immediate realization is implied, though not expressed; for the evangelist gives an account of the mission as actually carried out several chapters further on in his Gospel, commencing with the words, “And He calleth unto Him the twelve, and began to send them forth.”53

It may be regarded, then, as tolerably certain, that the calling of the twelve was a prelude to the preaching of the great sermon on the kingdom, in the founding of which they were afterwards to take so distinguished a part. At what precise period in the ministry of our Lord the sermon itself is to be placed, we cannot so confidently determine. Our opinion, however, is, that the Sermon on the Mount was delivered towards the close of Christ’s first lengthened ministry in Galilee, during the time which intervened between the two visits to Jerusalem on festive occasions mentioned in the second and fifth chapters of John’s Gospel.54

The number of the apostolic company is significant, and was doubtless a matter of choice, not less than was the composition of the selected band. A larger number of eligible men could easily have been found in a circle of disciples which afterwards supplied not fewer than seventy auxiliaries for evangelistic work;55 and a smaller number might have served all the present or prospective purposes of the apostleship. The number twelve was recommended by obvious symbolic reasons. It happily expressed in figures what Jesus claimed to be, and what He had come to do, and thus furnished a support to the faith and a stimulus to the devotion of His followers. It significantly hinted that Jesus was the divine Messianic King of Israel, come to set up the kingdom whose advent was foretold by prophets in glowing language, suggested by the palmy days of Israel’s history, when the theocratic community existed in its integrity, and all the tribes of the chosen nation were united under the royal house of David. That the number twelve was designed to bear such a mystic meaning, we know from Christ’s own words to the apostles on a later occasion, when, describing to them the rewards awaiting them in the kingdom for past services and sacrifices, He said, “Verily I say unto you, that ye which have followed me, in the regeneration, when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of His glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.”56

It is possible that the apostles were only too well aware of the mystic significance of their number, and found in it an encouragement to the fond delusive hope that the coming kingdom should be not only a spiritual realization of the promises, but a literal restoration of Israel to political integrity and independence. The risk of such misapprehension was one of the drawbacks connected with the particular number twelve, but it was not deemed by Jesus a sufficient reason for fixing on another. His method of procedure in this, as in all things, was to abide by that which in itself was true and right, and then to correct misapprehensions as they arose.

From the number of the apostolic band, we pass to the persons composing it. Seven of the twelve — the first seven in the catalogues of Mark and Luke, assuming the identity of Bartholomew and Nathanael — are persons already known to us. With two of the remaining five — the first and the last — we shall become well acquainted as we proceed in the history. Thomas called Didymus, or the Twin, will come before us as a man of warm heart but melancholy temperament, ready to die with his Lord, but slow to believe in His resurrection. Judas Iscariot is known to all the world as the Traitor. He appears for the first time, in these catalogues of the apostles, with the infamous title branded on his brow, “Judas Iscariot, who also betrayed Him.” The presence of a man capable of treachery among the elect disciples is a mystery which we shall not now attempt to penetrate. We merely make this historical remark about Judas here, that he seems to have been the only one among the twelve who was not a Galilean. He is surnamed, from his native place apparently, the man of Kerioth; and from the Book of Joshua we learn that there was a town of that name in the southern border of the tribe of Judah.57

The three names which remain are exceedingly obscure. On grounds familiar to Bible scholars, it has often been attempted to identify James of Alphæus with James the brother or kinsman of the Lord. The next on the lists of Matthew and Mark has been supposed by many to have been a brother of this James, and therefore another brother of Jesus. This opinion is based on the fact, that in place of the Lebbæus or Thaddæus of the two first Gospels, we find in Luke’s catalogues the name Judas “of James.” The ellipsis in this designation has been filled up with the word brother, and it is assumed that the James alluded to is James the son of Alphæus. However tempting these results may be, we can scarcely regard them as ascertained, and must content ourselves with stating that among the twelve was a second James, besides the brother of John and son of Zebedee, and also a second Judas, who appears again as an interlocutor in the farewell conversation between Jesus and His disciples on the night before His crucifixion, carefully distinguished by the evangelist from the traitor by the parenthetical remark “not Iscariot.”58 This Judas, being the same with Lebbæus Thaddæus, has been called the three-named disciple.59

The disciple whom we have reserved to the last place, like the one who stands at the head of all the lists, was a Simon. This second Simon is as obscure as the first is celebrated, for he is nowhere mentioned in the Gospel history, except in the catalogues; yet, little known as he is, the epithet attached to his name conveys a piece of curious and interesting information. He is called the Kananite (not Canaanite), which is a political, not a geographical designation, as appears from the Greek work substituted in the place of this Hebrew one by Luke, who calls the disciple we now speak of Simon Zelotes; that is, in English, Simon the Zealot. This epithet Zelotes connects Simon unmistakably with the famous party which rose in rebellion under Judas in the days of the taxing,60 some twenty years before Christ’s ministry began, when Judea and Samaria were brought under the direct government of Rome, and the census of the population was taken with a view to subsequent taxation. How singular a phenomenon is this ex-zealot among the disciples of Jesus! No two men could differ more widely in their spirit, ends, and means, than Judas of Galilee and Jesus of Nazareth. The one was a political malcontent; the other would have the conquered bow to the yoke, and give to Cæsar Cæsar’s due. The former aimed at restoring the kingdom to Israel, adopting for his watchword, “We have no Lord or Master but God;.” the latter aimed at founding a kingdom not national, but universal, not “of this world,” but purely spiritual. The means employed by the two actors were as diverse as their ends. One had recourse to the carnal weapons of war, the sword and the dagger; the other relied solely on the gentle but omnipotent force of truth.

What led Simon to leave Judas for Jesus we know not; but he made a happy exchange for himself, as the party he forsook were destined in after years to bring ruin on themselves and on their country by their fanatical, reckless, and unavailing patriotism. Though the insurrection of Judas was crushed, the fire of discontent still smouldered in the breasts of his adherents; and at length it burst out into the blaze of a new rebellion, which brought on a death-struggle with the gigantic power of Rome, and ended in the destruction of the Jewish capital, and the dispersion of the Jewish people.

The choice of this disciple to be an apostle supplies another illustration of Christ’s disregard of prudential wisdom. An ex-zealot was not a safe man to make an apostle of, for he might be the means of rendering Jesus and His followers objects of political suspicion. But the Author of our faith was willing to take the risk. He expected to gain many disciples from the dangerous classes as well as from the despised, and He would have them, too, represented among the twelve.

It gives one a pleasant surprise to think of Simon the zealot and Matthew the publican, men coming from so opposite quarters, meeting together in close fellowship in the little band of twelve. In the persons of these two disciples extremes meet — the tax-gatherer and the tax-hater: the unpatriotic Jew, who degraded himself by becoming a servant of the alien ruler; and the Jewish patriot, who chafed under the foreign yoke, and sighed for emancipation. This union of opposites was not accidental, but was designed by Jesus as a prophecy of the future. He wished the twelve to be the church in miniature or germ; and therefore He chose them so as to intimate that, as among them distinctions of publican and zealot were unknown, so in the church of the future there should be neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, bond nor free, but only Christ — all to each, and in each of the all.

These were the names of the twelve as given in the catalogues. As to the order in which they are arranged, on closely inspecting the lists we observe that they contain three groups of four, in each of which the same names are always found, though the order of arrangement varies. The first group includes those best known, the second the next best, and the third those least known of all, or, in the case of the traitor, known only too well. Peter, the most prominent character among the twelve, stands at the head of all the lists, and Judas Iscariot at the foot, carefully designated, as already observed, the traitor. The apostolic roll, taking the order given in Matthew, and borrowing characteristic epithets from the Gospel history at large, is as follows: —

Simon Peter     The man of rock.
Andrew     Peter’s brother.
James and } { Sons of Zebedee, and sons of thunder.
Philip     The earnest inquirer.
Bartholomew, or Nathanael     The guileless Israelite.
Thomas     The melancholy.
John     The publican (so called) by himself only.
James (the son) of Alphæus     (James the Less?). (Mk 15:40)
Lebbæus, Thaddæus, Judas of James,     The three-named disciple.
Simon     The Zealot.
Judas, the man of Kerioth     The Traitor.

Such were the men whom Jesus chose to be with Him while He was on this earth, and to carry on His work after He left it. Such were the men whom the church celebrates as the “glorious company of the apostles.” The praise is merited; but the glory of the twelve was not of this world. In a worldly point of view they were a very insignificant company indeed, — a band of poor illiterate Galilean provincials, utterly devoid of social consequence, not likely to be chosen by one having supreme regard to prudential considerations. Why did Jesus choose such men? Was He guided by feelings of antagonism to those possessing social advantages, or of partiality for men of His own class? No; His choice was made in true wisdom. If He chose Galileans mainly, it was not from provincial prejudice against those of the south; if, as some think, He chose two or even four61 of his own kindred, it was not from nepotism; if He chose rude, unlearned, humble men, it was not because He was animated by any petty jealousy of knowledge, culture, or good birth. If any rabbi, rich man, or ruler had been willing to yield himself unreservedly to the service of the kingdom, no objection would have been taken to him on account of his acquirements, possessions, or titles. The case of Saul of Tarsus, the pupil of Gamaliel, proves the truth of this statement. Even Gamaliel himself would not have been objected to, could he have stooped to become a disciple of the unlearned Nazarene. But, alas! neither he nor any of his order would condescend so far, and therefore the despised One did not get an opportunity of showing His willingness to accept as disciples and choose for apostles such as they were.

The truth is, that Jesus was obliged to be content with fishermen, and publicans, and quondam zealots, for apostles. They were the best that could be had. Those who deemed themselves better were too proud to become disciples, and thereby they excluded themselves from what all the world now sees to be the high honor of being the chosen princes of the kingdom. The civil and religious aristocracy boasted of their unbelief.62 The citizens of Jerusalem did feel for a moment interested in the zealous youth who had purged the temple with a whip of small cords; but their faith was superficial, and their attitude patronizing, and therefore Jesus did not commit Himself unto them, because He knew what was in them.63 A few of good position were sincere sympathizers, but they were not so decided in their attachment as to be eligible for apostles. Nicodemus was barely able to speak a timid apologetic word in Christ’s behalf, and Joseph of Arimathea was a disciple “secretly,” for fear of the Jews. These were hardly the persons to send forth as missionaries of the cross — men so fettered by social ties and party connections, and so enslaved by the fear of man. The apostles of Christianity must be made of sterner stuff.

And so Jesus was obliged to fall back on the rustic, but simple, sincere, and energetic men of Galilee. And He was quite content with His choice, and devoutly thanked His Father for giving Him even such as they. Learning, rank, wealth, refinement, freely given up to his service, He would not have despised; but He preferred devoted men who had none of these advantages to undevoted men who had them all. And with good reason; for it mattered little, except in the eyes of contemporary prejudice, what the social position or even the previous history of the twelve had been, provided they were spiritually qualified for the work to which they were called. What tells ultimately is, not what is without a man, but what is within. John Bunyan was a man of low birth, low occupation, and, up till his conversion, of low habits; but he was by nature a man of genius, and by grace a man of God, and he would have made — he was, in fact — a most effective apostle.

But it may be objected that all the twelve were by no means gifted like Bunyan; some of them, if one may judge from the obscurity which envelops their names, and the silence of history regarding them, having been undistinguished either by high endowment or by a great career, and in fact, to speak plainly, all but useless. As this objection virtually impugns the wisdom of Christ’s choice, it is necessary to examine how far it is according to truth.64 We submit the following considerations with this view: —

I. That some of the apostles were comparatively obscure, inferior men, cannot be denied; but even the obscurest of them may have been most useful as witnesses for Him with whom they had companied from the beginning. It does not take a greatman to make a good witness, and to be witnesses of Christian facts was the main business of the apostles. That even the humblest of them rendered important service in that capacity we need not doubt, though nothing is said of them in the apostolic annals. It was not to be expected that a history so fragmentary and so brief as that given by Luke should mention any but the principal actors, especially when we reflect how few of the characters that appear on the stage at any particular crisis in human affairs are prominently noticed even in histories which go elaborately into detail. The purpose of history is served by recording the words and deeds of the representative men, and many are allowed to drop into oblivion who did nobly in their day. The less distinguished members of the apostolic band are entitled to the benefit of this reflection.

2. Three eminent men, or even two (Peter and John), out of twelve, is a good proportion; there being few societies in which superior excellence bears such a high ratio to respectable mediocrity. Perhaps the number of “Pillars”65 was as great as was desirable. Far from regretting that all were not Peters and Johns, it is rather a matter to be thankful for, that there were diversities of gifts among the first preachers of the gospel. As a general rule, it is not good when all are leaders. Little men are needed as well as great men; for human nature is one-sided, and little men have their peculiar virtues and gifts, and can do some things better than their more celebrated brethren.

3. We must remember how little we know concerning any of the apostles. It is the fashion of biographers in our day, writing for a morbidly or idly curious public, to enter into the minutest particulars of outward event or personal peculiarity regarding their heroes. Of this fond idolatrous minuteness there is no trace in the evangelic histories. The writers of the Gospels were not afflicted with the biographic mania. Moreover, the apostles were not their theme. Christ was their hero; and their sole desire was to tell what they knew of Him. They gazed steadfastly at the Sun of Righteousness, and in His effulgence they lost sight of the attendant stars. Whether they were stars of the first magnitude, or of the second, or of the third, made little difference.

Luke 6:17  Jesus came down with them and stood on a level place; and there was a large crowd of His disciples, and a great throng of people from all Judea and Jerusalem and the coastal region of Tyre and Sidon,

KJV Luke 6:17 And he came down with them, and stood in the plain, and the company of his disciples, and a great multitude of people out of all Judaea and Jerusalem, and from the sea coast of Tyre and Sidon, which came to hear him, and to be healed of their diseases;


Jesus came down with them - He came down from the mountain where He had prayed (Lk 6:12) and to where He had called His disciples from whom He choose the 12 who would be His apostles (Lk 6:13-note).

Did you notice the three groups? them (12 apostles who were beginning their "formal training"), large crowd (disciples - learners - considered Jesus their Teacher but not necessarily genuine believers - most would desert Him - cf Jn 6:66) and a great throng (from south, central and north!)

Stein comments that "One should not read into this a parallel to Moses’ descent from the mountain (Ex 32:1-35), since Luke’s Sermon on the Plain does not possess any allusions or echoes of Moses’ having received the law on a mountain and going down to give it to the people. (New American Commentary – Volume 24: Luke)

Stood on a level place - KJV has "stood in the plain." Some like John MacArthur feel this was a level place on the side of the mountain mentioned in Mt 5:1 and so it was not a separate sermon but a condensed version of the Sermon on the Mount. Luke's sermon version is 30 verses which is much shorter than the sermon in Matthew (107 verses). 

A T Robertson agrees with MacArthur writing "There is little doubt that the discourses given by Matthew and Luke are the same, Matthew locating it on “the mountain,” and Luke “on a level place,” which might easily be a level spot on a mountain. (See note at end of this book, note 9.) Observe that they begin and end alike, and pursue the same general order. Luke omits various matters of special interest to Matthew’s Jewish readers (e.g. Matt. 5:17–42), and other matters that he himself will give elsewhere (e.g. Luke 11:1–4; 12:22–31); while Luke has a few sentences (as ver. Lk 6:24–26, 38–40), which are not given by Matthew. (Harmony of the Gospels)

Level (3977)(pedinos) is an adjective meaning flat, even, as opposed to steep or uneven. 

Gilbrant Occurring as early as the Fifth Century B.C. (Herodotus), this term generally described low-lying pieces of land (i.e., “plains”) in contrast to steep regions (cf. Moulton-Milligan). In its only New Testament occurrence, at Luke 6:17, it appears along with the word topos (4964), “place.”

Pedinos - 19x in 19v in Septuagint - 

Deut. 4:43; Deut. 11:11; Jos. 9:1; Jos. 10:40; Jos. 11:16; Jos. 15:33; Jdg. 1:9; 1 Ki. 10:27; 1 Chr. 27:28; 2 Chr. 1:15; 2 Chr. 9:27; 2 Chr. 26:10; 2 Chr. 28:18; Isa. 13:2; Isa. 32:19; Jer. 17:26; Jer. 21:13; Jer. 48:8; Zech. 7:7

NET Note on on a level place - Or “on a plateau.” This could refer to a message given in a flat locale or in a flat locale in the midst of a more mountainous region (Jer 21:13; Isa 13:2). It is quite possible that this sermon is a summary version of the better known Sermon on the Mount from Matt 5–7. 

A large crowd of His disciples - Remember as discussed below that all these disciples were not necessarily believers (cf the action of the "disciples" in Jn 6:66). MacArthur adds that "A consistent pattern of obedience to Christ’s word (John 8:31) distinguishes the wheat (true disciples) from the tares (false disciples), as the Lord’s parable indicates (Matt. 13:24-30). Jesus in His divine omniscience knew who were the real disciples, and who were not (John 2:23-25; 6:64). The genuine were few (cf. Matt. 7:14-note)."

MacArthur comments on the great throng - Huge crowds followed Him wherever He went (cf. Lk 4:42; 5:15); a later crowd would number five thousand men (Lk 9:14). Including the women and children, there were likely more than twenty thousand people present on that occasion. Matthew and Mark record another crowd of similar size (Mt. 15:38; Mk 8:9), while Luke describes another incident where “so many thousands of people had gathered together that they were stepping on one another” (Lk 12:1).

And a great throng of people from all Judea and Jerusalem and the coastal region of Tyre and Sidon - Clearly Jesus' fame had spread throughout the region. See location of Tyre on this map.  Here is another map that shows Sidon on the Northwest coast, just north of Tyre. Compare other accounts of Jesus' increasing popularity - (Matt 4:25; 5:1; 12:15; Mark 3:7-8; John 6:2)

Tyre and Sidon - The most important ones in Phoenicia. This combination 10x in the Bible - Jer. 47:4; Zech. 9:2; Matt. 11:21; Matt. 11:22; Matt. 15:21; Mk. 3:8; Lk. 6:17; Lk. 10:13; Lk. 10:14; Acts 12:20. Note especially Luke's other use in Lk 10:13-14-note so these may in fact have been Gentiles in the great throng

NET Note on Tyre and Sidon - These last two locations, Tyre and Sidon, represented an expansion outside of traditional Jewish territory. Jesus’ reputation continued to expand into new regions.

Luke 6:18  who had come to hear Him and to be healed of their diseases; and those who were troubled with unclean spirits were being cured.

KJV Luke 6:18 And they that were vexed with unclean spirits: and they were healed.


Who had come to hear Him and to be healed of their diseases (cf Lk 5:15-note) - Teaching emphasized over healing. Miracles would save no one (Jn 12:37) but were primarily for corroboration of His claim to be the Son of God and authenticated the truth He taught. Miracles will pass, but the Word will endure forever. This is Jesus' second sermon in Luke, the first being in Lk 4:16-30-note. These two reason explain why many came from very long distances in a time when travel was difficult and dangerous. 

MacArthur comments on the importance of Jesus' teaching noting that "Jesus’ words remain equally authoritative today. As Paul wrote to Timothy, “If anyone advocates a different doctrine and does not agree with sound words, those of our Lord Jesus Christ, and with the doctrine conforming to godliness, he is conceited and understands nothing” (1 Tim. 6:3-4). Pastors and teachers merely pass on the truths that He taught."

NET Note on to hear Him and to be healed  - Jesus had a two-level ministry: The word and the wondrous acts of service that showed his message of God’s care were real (cf Luke 4:22-note, Mt 7:28-note = reaction to His Sermon on the Mount, Mt 13:54, Mk 6:1, Jn 7:15, 16). In contrast to the rabbis, who merely cited the opinions of other rabbis, Jesus’ teachings had inherent authority, the authority of God himself (cf. Matt. 5:22-note). His authority is also seen in His repeated victories over the kingdom of darkness populated by the demons (Lk 4:36-note, Lk 4:41-note), and in his healings (Lk 4:39, 40-note).

To be healed - see also Lk 4:38-39; 5:17-25; 6:6-10.

Healed (cured) (2390) (iaomai) means to cure, to heal, to restore. Iaomai is used literally of deliverance from physical diseases and afflictions and so to make whole, restore to bodily health or heal. Iaomai refers primarily to physical healing in the NT (although clearly there is overlap because some of these instances involved demonic oppression - Lk 9:42), and much less commonly to spiritual healing or healing (saving) from "moral illnesses" and the consequences of sin. 

Those who were troubled with unclean spirits were being cured - This shows that Jesus had authority over the kingdom of darkness, the domain of Satan (cf Lk 4:33-35, 41/luke-4-commentary#4:33)

Troubled (KJV = vexed)(1776)(enochleo from en = in + ochleo = to disturb, trouble, harass with crowds from ochlos = a crowd) means to undergo hardship from continual annoyance, and is often used to describe mental or emotional turmoil. To be afflicted, to suffer, to trouble, to annoy, to molest. The only other NT use is in Hebrews 12:15 where enochleō refers to trouble that is caused by a root of bitterness and causes those affected to be defiled. The point is that if anyone “misses the grace of God” (NIV) or allows bitterness to grow in his heart, he will be troubled and will defile (miainō) many.

Enochleo is in the present tense indicating this is an ongoing affliction by the demons.  Those who were “vexed” with unclean spirits came to hear Jesus preach and to be healed.

Unclean spirits -23x in 23v -

Zech. 13:2; Matt. 10:1; Matt. 12:43; Mk. 1:23; Mk. 1:26; Mk. 1:27; Mk. 3:11; Mk. 3:30; Mk. 5:2; Mk. 5:8; Mk. 5:13; Mk. 6:7; Mk. 7:25; Mk. 9:25; Lk. 4:36; Lk. 6:18; Lk. 8:29; Lk. 9:42; Lk. 11:24; Acts 5:16; Acts 8:7; Rev. 16:13; Rev. 18:2

In Luke 4:33-note we read of an unclean demon, leaving little doubt as to the identity of the spirits that were continually afflicting the people that came to Jesus. 

Luke uses akathartos 6x (5x modifying spirit and once modifying demon) in 6v all referring to the characteristic trait of demons = unclean! - Lk 4:33, 4:36, 6:18, 8:29, 9:42, 11:24. Here is an example of the effect Jesus' authority over the demons had on the crowds...

 And while he was still approaching, the demon dashed him to the ground, and threw him into a convulsion. But Jesus rebuked the unclean spirit, and healed the boy, and gave him back to his father. And they were all amazed at the greatness of God. But while everyone was marveling at all that He was doing, He said to His disciples (Lk 9:42, 43-note)

Robertson writes taht Unclean spirit "is used as synonymous with demon (daimonion). It is the idea of estrangement from God (Zech 13:2 [describing the future glorious Millennium - no demons! Hallelujah!]). The whole subject of demonology is difficult, but no more so than the problem of the devil."

Unclean (169)(akathartos from a = without + kathaíro = cleanse from katharos = clean, pure, free from the adhesion of anything that soils, adulterates, corrupts, in an ethical sense, free from corrupt desire, sin, and guilt) (See related word akatharsia) in a moral sense refers to that which is unclean in thought, word, and deed. It can describe a state of moral impurity, especially sexual sin and the word foul is an excellent rendering. The idea is that which morally indecent or filthy. It is not surprising that this word is repeatedly applied to filthy demonic spirits. They were not just "ceremonially unclean" but filthy and foul!  And given that the evil one can shoot fiery missiles at our mind (Eph 6:16-note) we need to daily be taking up the shield of faith! Ever have a filthy thought just come out of no where? While our fallen flesh is sufficiently depraved to account for random evil thoughts, unclean spirits could certainly be the contributing culprit on occasion.

Cured(2323)(therapeuo from therapon = an attendant, servant) means primarily to care for, to wait upon, minister to. It has two main senses in the NT, one speaking of rendering service (Acts 17:25) and the more common use describing medical aspects such as to take care of the sick, to heal, to cure (Matt. 4:24; 12:10; Mark 1:34; Luke 6:7; 10:9),  to recover health, to restore. Therapeúō means to heal miraculously in Matt. 4:23, 24; 10:1, 8; Acts 4:14. 

Cured is in the imperfect tense which pictures one cure after another. Quite an amazing scene! 

Robertson The healings were repeated as often as they came. Note here both verbs, iaomai and therapeuō, used of the miraculous cures of Jesus. Therapeuō is the verb more commonly employed of regular professional cures, but no such distinction is made here.

Luke 6:19  And all the people were trying to touch Him, for power was coming from Him and healing them all.

KJV Luke 6:19 And the whole multitude sought to touch him: for there went virtue out of him, and healed them all.

And all the people were trying to touch Him - The imperfect tense pictures this crowd surging at Him again and again trying to touch Him, like the lapping of the waves of the sea touching the shoreline. We know that one woman later touched Him with faith in Luke 8... 

And a woman who had a hemorrhage for twelve years, and could not be healed by anyone, 44 came up behind Him and touched the fringe of His cloak, and immediately her hemorrhage stopped. 45 And Jesus said, “Who is the one who touched Me?” And while they were all denying it, Peter said, “Master, the people are crowding and pressing in on You.” 46 But Jesus said, “Someone did touch Me, for I was aware that power had gone out of Me.” 47 When the woman saw that she had not escaped notice, she came trembling and fell down before Him, and declared in the presence of all the people the reason why she had touched Him, and how she had been immediately healed. . 48 And He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace.” (Lk 8:43-48, cf Mt 9:20-22, Mk 5:25-34)

Compare other episodes related to touching Jesus...

Mark 5:22-23    One of the synagogue officials named Jairus *came up, and on seeing Him, *fell at His feetand implored Him earnestly, saying, “My little daughter is at the point of death; please come and lay Your hands on her, so that she will get well and live.”

Luke 18:15 And they were bringing even their babies to Him so that He would touch them, but when the disciples saw it, they began rebuking them.

Touch (681)(hapto) means to grasp, to lay hold of with the basic meaning of touching for the purpose of manipulating. Hapto conveys the sense handling of an object as to exert a modifying influence upon it or upon oneself. The majority of the 39 uses are in the Gospels and are associated with Jesus touching someone (or someone touching Him) usually with a beneficial effect. In contrast the use in 1Jn 5:18 speaks of touching with the intent of a negative or harmful effect (cp harmful sense in Lxx of Ge 26:11, Ex 19:12). Four uses refer to lighting a lamp (Lk 8:17, 11:33, 15:8) or kindling a fire (Acts 28:2). Paul uses it of touching a woman, apparently a euphemism for sexual contact (2Cor 7:1, cp Abimelech "had not come near" [Lxx = haptomai] Sarah - Ge 20:4,6; see hapto in Pr 6:29). In Ge 32:25 (cp Ge 32:32) Hapto/haptomai is used over 100 times in the Septuagint (Lxx). The first use of hapto in Ge 3:3 is by the woman who misquoted God's command saying "You shall not eat from it or touch it, lest you die.’” God touched the socket of Jacob's thigh resulting in dislocation while they wrestled! Hapto/haptomai is used in Leviticus numerous times of touching something with a negative impact (the majority of uses are negative and refer to touching something unclean e.g., Lev 5:2) or positive impact (consecrated - Lev 6:27). In Jdg 6:21 the Angel of the LORD touched Gideon's offering of meat and it was consumed (cp 1Ki 19:7). In Ru 2:9 Boaz instructed the servants not to touch Ruth apparently referring to touching her roughly. (cp Ru 2:9NLT). 1Sa 10:26 refers to God touching hearts of the valiant men. Of the wings of the cherubim touching each other (1Ki 6:27, 2Chr 3:11). Of an angel touching Elijah (1Ki 19:5). In 1Chr 16:22 hapto/haptomai is used in a negative sense - "Do not touch My anointed ones, And do My prophets no harm." In Isa 6:7 (hapto used twice) the angel touched Isaiah's mouth and his iniquity was taken away. Jehovah touched (Lxx - hapto) Jeremiah's mouth, placing His words in his mouth. (Jer 1:9)

For (hoti) is a term of explanation. What's Luke explaining?

Power was coming from Him -  The imperfect tense again pictures this as occurring over and over as the people sought to touch Him. After His temptation in the wilderness "Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit" (Lk 4:14-note, cf "with authority and power He commands the unclean spirits and they come out” = Lk 4:36-note). In Lk 5:17-note we read "the power of the Lord was present for Him to perform healing." (cf Lk 8:46-note). Jesus first gave His 12 apostles "power and authority over all the demons and to heal diseases," (Lk 9:1-note), and then gave the 72 disciples “power and authority over all the demons and to heal diseases" (Lk 10:19-note). When Jesus entered Jerusalem, "the whole crowd of the disciples began to praise God joyfully with a loud voice for all the miracles (dunamis) which they had seen" (Lk 19:37). When Christ returns every one will see the Son of Man appear “with power and great glory,” (Lk 21:26-27, Mt 24:30-note) and "THE SON OF MAN WILL BE SEATED AT THE RIGHT HAND of the power OF GOD.”(Lk 22:69).

Peter summarizes Jesus' power filled ministry in Acts - 

you yourselves know the thing which took place throughout all Judea, starting from Galilee, after the baptism which John proclaimed. 38“You know of Jesus of Nazareth, how God anointed Him with the Holy Spirit and with power (dunamis), and how He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him.(Acts 10:37-38).

Allison A. Trites summarizes the transfer of Jesus' ministry to His apostles -  Jesus’ power was passed on to his apostles, as is evident in Acts. The disciples were promised power from the Holy Spirit that would enable them to bear witness for Christ in ever-widening spheres (Acts 1:8). The apostles continued to perform miracles but claimed no “power” for themselves (Acts 3:12). When they were questioned about the source of their evident power, they attributed it to Jesus (Acts 4:10). They “testified powerfully to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus” (Acts 4:33). Similarly, Stephen, full of the Spirit (Acts 6:5), exhibited power in performing “amazing miracles and signs among the people” (Acts 6:8), and the same was true of Philip and Paul (Acts 8:13; 19:11). There was a case of fraudulent power presented by Simon the sorcerer, who called himself “the Power of God” (Acts 8:10), but he was sternly rebuked by Peter and told to repent (Acts 8:18-24). (Cornerstone Biblical Commentary – Volume 12: Luke and Acts)

Power (Miracles) (1411)(dunamis from dunamai  = to be able, to have power) power especially achieving power. It refers to intrinsic power or inherent ability, the power or ability to carry out some function, the potential for functioning in some way (power, might, strength, ability, capability), the power residing in a thing by virtue of its nature.  Dunamis is the implied ability or capacity to perform. It conveys the idea of effective, productive energy, rather than that which is raw and unbridled. Dunamis is the word generally used by Paul of divine energy. Scripture uses dunamis to describe deeds that exhibit the ability to function powerfully (deeds of power, miracles, wonders) (eg, see Mt 11:20, 23, 13:54, 58, etc)

NET Note on power - There was a recognition that there was great power at work through Jesus, the subject of a great debate in Lk 11:14–23. Luke highlights Jesus’ healing ministry (Lk 5:17; 6:18; 7:7; 8:47; 9:11, 42; 14:4; 17:15; 18:42–43; 22:51; Acts 10:38).

Healing (curing) (2390)(iaomai) means to cure, to heal, to restore. Iaomai is used literally of deliverance from physical diseases and afflictions and so to make whole, restore to bodily health or heal. To cause someone to achieve health after having been sick. In the passive it means to be healed or cured. Figuratively, iaomai speaks of deliverance from sin and its evil consequences and thus to restore (to spiritual good health), make whole, renew (Mt 13.15). In the passive, iaomai figuratively means to be restored, to recover or to be healed as in 1Pe 2.24. Iaomai refers primarily to physical healing in the NT (although clearly there is overlap because some of these instances involved demonic oppression - Lk 9:42), and much less commonly to spiritual healing or healing (saving) from "moral illnesses" and the consequences of sin. When used in this sense iaomai has much the same meaning as sozo, to save, make whole, restore to spiritual health. Here are the uses of iaomai used with a spiritual meaning = Mt 13:15, John 12:40, Acts 28:27 - preceding quotes from Isa 6:10, 1Pe 2:24 = quote from Isa 53:5. It is interesting that most of the NT uses in the Gospels refer to physical healing by Jesus (excepting the physical healing that resulted by release from demonic oppression). However in the OT (Lxx) uses iaomai refers primarily to spiritual healing by the Messiah (Isa 53:5, Isa 61:1, et al).

Presumably the fact that Luke was a physician explains why he made frequent use of iaomai (14/26x). 

Matt. 8:8; Matt. 8:13; Matt. 13:15; Matt. 15:28; Mk. 5:29; Lk. 5:17; Lk. 6:18; Lk. 6:19; Lk. 7:7; Lk. 8:47; Lk. 9:2; Lk. 9:11; Lk. 9:42; Lk. 14:4; Lk. 17:15; Lk. 22:51; Jn. 4:47; Jn. 5:13; Jn. 12:40; Acts 9:34; Acts 10:38; Acts 28:8; Acts 28:27; Heb. 12:13; Jas. 5:16; 1 Pet. 2:24

Robertson on healing them allWas healing all, kept on healing all. The preacher today who is not a vehicle of power from Christ to men may well question why that is true. Undoubtedly the failure to get a blessing is one reason why many people stop going to church. One may turn to Paul's tremendous words in Phil. 4:13-note: "I have strength for all things in him who keeps on pouring power into me". It was at a time of surpassing dynamic spiritual energy when Jesus delivered this greatest of all sermons so far as they are reported to us. The very air was electric with spiritual power. There are such times as all preachers know.

Luke 6:20  And turning His gaze toward His disciples, He began to say, "Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.

KJV  And he lifted up his eyes on his disciples, and said, Blessed be ye poor: for yours is the kingdom of God.

  • he lifted Matthew 5:2-12; 12:49,50; Mark 3:34,35
  • Blessed Lk 6:24; 4:18; 16:25; 1 Samuel 2:8; Psalms 37:16; 113:7,8; Proverbs 16:19; 19:1; Isaiah 29:19; Isaiah 57:15,16; 66:2; Zephaniah 3:12; Zechariah 11:11; Matthew 11:5; John 7:48,49; 1 Corinthians 1:26-29; 2 Corinthians 6:10; 8:2,9; 1 Thessalonians 1:6; James 1:9,10; 2:5; Revelation 2:9
  • for Lk 12:32; 13:28; 14:15; Matthew 5:3,10; Acts 14:22; 1 Corinthians 3:21-23; 2 Thessalonians 1:5; James 1:12
  • Luke 6 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries
  • Luke 6:20-23 The Character of a True Christian-1 - John MacArthur

NET   Then he looked up at his disciples and said: "Blessed are you who are poor, for the kingdom of God belongs to you.

YLT  And he, having lifted up his eyes to his disciples, said: 'Happy the poor -- because yours is the reign of God.


  • Luke 6:20-26 Characteristics of those in His kingdom - Beatitudes and Woes
  • Luke 6:27-45 Practice of those in His kingdom - Commands
  • Luke 6:46-49 Exhortation to those who consider Him - Parables and Illustrations

Luke 6:20-49

Wiersbe nicely summarizes Jesus' sermon in Luke 6:20-49 - What Jesus did was to focus on attitudes: our attitude toward circumstances (Luke 6:20-26), people (Luke 6:27-38), ourselves (Luke 6:39-45), and God (Luke 6:46-49). He emphasized four essentials for true happiness: faith in God, love toward others, honesty with ourselves, and obedience toward God. (The Bible Exposition Commentary – New Testament, Volume 1)

Steven Cole gives us an overview of Lk 6:20-49 - The most obvious question is whether or not this sermon in Lu 6 is the same as the Sermon on the Mount recorded in Mt 5-7. The bottom line is, we can’t know for certain. There are solid commentators on both sides of the issue. The sermon in Luke falls into three sections: in Lu 6:20-26, Jesus draws a distinct line between His followers and others and pronounces blessings on the former and woes on the latter; in Lu 6:27-38, Jesus spells out the primary ethic of His kingdom, the practice of love; and, in Lu 6:39-49, He emphasizes the importance of obedience to His teaching. He addresses the sermon primarily to His disciples (Lu 6:20), but obviously there are appeals to outsiders as well. The blessings are aimed at encouraging and strengthening Jesus’ followers in the face of mounting and inevitable opposition and persecution, but they also serve to draw in outsiders with the intriguing promise of future reversal. The woes warn believers of dangers to avoid, but they also confront unbelievers with the future consequences of their current behavior. The entire sermon shows Jesus’ disciples (i.e., all Christians) how we should live. But it also shows unbelievers and hypocrites their need for repentance because of the huge gap between their behavior and Jesus’ teaching.. (Luke 6:20-26 How to Live Happily Ever After - USED ABOVE for the title of this section)

Constable - Luke's version of this important address, primarily aimed at Jesus' disciples, is much shorter than Matthew's (Matt. 5:3-7:29). Matthew's account contains 137 verses whereas Luke's has 30. Both accounts begin with beatitudes, contain the same general content, and end with the same parables. However, Luke edited out the teachings that have distinctively Jewish appeal, specifically Jesus' interpretations of the Mosaic Law, the "legal matters." These parts had less significance for an audience of predominantly Gentile Christians....Matthew recorded nine beatitudes, but Luke included only four. Matthew gave no woes, but Luke recorded four. The four beatitudes precede the four woes, and the beatitudes parallel the woes in thought. The beatitudes are positive and the woes correspondingly negative (cf. Ps. 1:1-6-note; Isa. 5:8-23). (Luke 6)

And turning His gaze toward His disciples - (Literally "lifting up his eyes") Here we see that Jesus was clearly focusing on the training of His recently named apostles. Of course in so teaching His apostles, He is also teaching the other disciples, the large crowd and all believers of all ages.

Barclay introduces this section writing that "Luke's Sermon on the Plain and Matthew's Sermon on the Mount (Matthew, chapters 5-7) closely correspond. Both start with a series of beatitudes. There are differences between the versions of Matthew and Luke, but this one thing is clear—they are a series of bombshells. It may well be that we have read them so often that we have forgotten how revolutionary they are. They are quite unlike the laws which a philosopher or a typical wise man might lay down. Each one is a challenge. As the scholar Adolf Deissmann said, 'They are spoken in an electric atmosphere. They are not quiet stars but flashes of lightning followed by a thunder of surprise and amazement.' They take the accepted standards and turn them upside down. The people whom Jesus called happy the world would call wretched; and the people Jesus called wretched the world would call happy. Just imagine anyone saying, 'Happy are the poor, and, Woe to the rich!' To talk like that is to put an end to the world's values altogether. (Luke 6)

Vincent adds "he lifted up his eyes" (Lk 6:20KJV) is "Peculiar to Luke. Compare he opened his mouth (Matthew 5:1-note). Both indicate a solemn and impressive opening of a discourse." 

MacDonald - Notice that this message of stern discipleship was given to the large crowd of His disciples, and a great throng of people (Lk 6:17) as well as to the twelve. It seems that whenever a great multitude followed Jesus, He tested their sincerity by speaking quite bluntly to them. As someone said, "Christ first woos, then winnows."

Disciples ("learners")(3101) (mathetes from manthano = to learn which Vine says is "from a root math, indicating thought accompanied by endeavor". Gives us our English = "mathematics") describes a person who learns from another by instruction, whether formal or informal. Discipleship includes the idea of one who intentionally learns by inquiry and observation (cf inductive Bible study) and thus mathetes is more than a mere pupil. A mathetes describes an adherent of a teacher. As discussed below mathetes itself has no spiritual connotation, and it is used of superficial followers of Jesus as well as of genuine believers.

Related Word Study: matheteuo - make disciples

Ralph Earle - As followers of Jesus we are to be, first of all, learners. We are to learn from Him by listening to Him, learn the truth that will set us free (John 8:32) and keep us from error. But we are also to learn from Him by looking at Him‑ learn how to live a life of beauty and blessing. (Word Meanings in the New Testament)

Barclay writes that "All his life a Christian should be learning more and more about Jesus. The shut mind is the end of discipleship!" (Matthew 5 Commentary - Daily Study Bible - online)

NIDNTT - A man is called a mathētēs when he binds himself to someone else in order to acquire his practical and theoretical knowledge. He may be an apprentice in a trade, a student of medicine, or a member of a philosophical school. One can only be a mathētēs in the company of a didaskalos, a master or teacher, to whom the mathētēs since the days of the Sophists generally had to pay a fee. An obvious exception to this is when mathētēs refers to spiritual dependence on a thinker long since dead. Socrates never wanted to have any mathētēs and never regarded himself as a didaskalos… It is used to indicate total attachment to someone in discipleship (Ed: But see distinction below between a true disciple and a pseudo-disciple of Jesus). The secular Gk. usage of the word in the sense of apprentice, pupil or student is not found… Mathētēs in John is often simply a term for “Christian” (Jn. 8:31; 13:35; 15:8)… mathētēs has the general sense of “Christian”, one who believes in Jesus

John MacArthur - "Christ’s concern for the poor and outcasts is one of Luke’s favorite themes. Luke used a personal pronoun (“you”) where Mt 5:3 employed a definite article (“the”); Luke was underscoring the tender, personal sense of Christ’s words. A comparison of the two passages reveals that Christ was dealing with something more significant than mere material poverty and wealth, however. The poverty spoken of here refers primarily to a sense of one’s own spiritual impoverishment....Lk 6:21 "you who hunger" No mere craving for food, but a hunger and thirst for righteousness."


Notice that in Lk 6:20-26 there is a clear juxtaposition of blessings with woes. Ultimately the entire human race falls into one of these categories, believers who will be blessed in this life and forever and unbelievers who will experience woes throughout eternity, this short life being their taste of "heaven!" There is no middle ground. We see a foreshadowing of these two "options" in Deuteronomy 27-30. 

Allison A. Trites - There is an A-B-A pattern to each blessing here, with the promise of blessing followed by the ethical responsibility and then the spelling out of just what the promised blessing would be—great reward in heaven. (Cornerstone Biblical Commentary – Volume 12: Luke and Acts)

Wiersbe The Lord explained in this sermon that the truly blessed life comes not from getting, or from doing, but from being. The emphasis is on Godlike character.

Blessed are you who are poor - He is not speaking of poverty as in a lack of money (although many were literally poor), but as He says in Mt 5:3-note "poor in spirit." He is speaking of those who have a sense of their bankrupt spiritual state and spiritual impoverishment. The blessing or beatitude is not a condition for entering the Kingdom of God, but the blessing on those who enter it by grace through faith in the Messiah. 

Steven Cole clarifies that Jesus is not excluding financially rich - Later in Luke, some wealthy women are favorably mentioned who helped support Jesus and the apostles (Lu 8:1-3). And, Jesus welcomes the rich tax collector, Zaccheus, into the kingdom (Lu 19:1-10). So Jesus is not issuing a blanket approval on everyone who is financially poor, nor a blanket condemnation on everyone who is financially rich. The same can be said of the other groups. God graciously gives us food to meet our needs, and there is no inherent virtue in going hungry. The Bible commands God’s people to be filled with joy and praise, and Jesus is not contradicting that here. There are many of God’s servants who are commended and thought well of in the Bible. So there is nothing inherently wrong with these categories as such. We would be mistaken to understand Jesus to be teaching that simply by being in these categories a person is somehow blessed or under woes to come....These terms, “poor, hungry, and those who weep,” are not exclusively spiritual, in that those who are destitute of life’s essentials are often much more aware of their spiritual need before God. Those who are rich in this world’s goods often do not sense their desperate need for God. But the terms are primarily spiritual in that Jesus did not come to offer Himself on the cross to deliver men from physical poverty, hunger, and grief. He came to deliver sinners from their spiritual poverty, spiritual hunger, and grief over sin. One writer explains, "The hungry are men who both outwardly and inwardly are painfully deficient in the things essential to life as God meant it to be, and who, since they cannot help themselves, turn to God on the basis of His promise. These men, and these alone, find God’s help in Jesus. They are not an existing social or religious group…. They are believers who seek help from Jesus because of their own helplessness." (L. Goppelt, cited by Darrell Bock, Luke [Baker], 1:575). Leon Morris (p. 127) explains further, "He is not blessing poverty in itself: that can as easily be a curse as a blessing. It is His disciples of whom Jesus is speaking. They are poor and they know that they are without resource. They rely on God and they must rely on Him, for they have nothing of their own on which to rely…. The rich of this world often are self-reliant. Not so the poor." And so when Jesus says, “Blessed are you who are poor,” He is referring to those who have recognized that the greatest need in life is spiritual, not material. Rather than pursuing a life of accumulating the world’s goods, these people have recognized their spiritual poverty before God and have come to Him, often at the expense of worldly success." (Luke 6:20-26 How to Live Happily Ever After)

Blessed (3107)(makarios from root makar, but others say from mak = large or lengthy) means to be happy, but not in the usual sense of happiness based on positive circumstances. From the Biblical perspective Makarios describes the person who is free from daily cares and worries because his every breath and circumstance is in the hands of His Maker Who gives him such an assurance (such a "blessing"). As discussed below makarios was used to describe the kind of happiness that comes from receiving divine favor.

A T Robertson - The word accents the actual inner state rather than the outward appearance as another sees it… It is important to note that in the discussion of righteousness which is to follow Jesus assumes the new heart (Ed: Or serves to challenge unbelievers to believe in Jesus and receive a new heart), which alone makes it possible to come up to the lofty ethical standard here set up.

Rob Morgan - Makarios (blessed) means happy, fortunate, blissful. Homer used the word to describe a wealthy man, and Plato used it of one who is successful in business. Both Homer and Hesiod spoke of the Greek gods as being happy (makarios) within themselves, because they were unaffected by the world of men-who were subject to poverty, disease, weakness, misfortune, and death. The fullest meaning of the term, therefore, had to do with an inward contentedness that is not affected by circumstances. That is the kind of happiness God desires for His children, a state of joy and well-being that does not depend on physical, temporary circumstances (cf Php 4:11, 12, 13). (From his sermon entitled "Blessed")

Makarios in Luke and Acts - 

Lk. 1:45; Lk. 6:20; Lk. 6:21; Lk. 6:22; Lk. 7:23; Lk. 10:23; Lk. 11:27; Lk. 11:28; Lk. 12:37; Lk. 12:38; Lk. 12:43; Lk. 14:14; Lk. 14:15; Lk. 23:29;  Acts 20:35; Acts 26:2

NET Note on Blessed - The term Blessed introduces the first of several beatitudes promising blessing to those whom God cares for. They serve as an invitation to come into the grace God offers.

In His opening sermon Jesus addressed the poor, clearly speaking of their spiritual neediness to hear the Good News which would make them spiritually rich...


Wiersbe comments on Jesus emphasis on the blessing on the poor instead of the rich and famous - Imagine how surprised they were when they heard Jesus describe happiness in terms just the opposite of what they expected! They discovered that what they needed most was not a change in circumstances but a change in their relationship to God and in their outlook on life. Jesus was not teaching that poverty, hunger, persecution, and tears were blessings in themselves. If that were true, He would never have done all He did to alleviate the sufferings of others. Rather, Jesus was describing the inner attitudes we must have if we are to experience the blessedness of the Christian life. We should certainly do what we can to help others in a material way (James 2:15-17; 1 John 3:16-18), but we must remember that no amount of "things" can substitute for a personal relationship with God....Jesus was not glorifying material poverty; rather, He was calling for that brokenness of heart that confesses spiritual poverty within (Luke 18:9-14; Phil. 3:4-14). The humble person is the only kind the Lord can save (Isa. 57:15; 66:2; 1 Peter 5:6). If you compare "The Beatitudes" with Isaiah 61:1-3 and Luke 4:18, you will see that our Lord's emphasis was on the condition of the heart and not the outward circumstances. Mary expressed this same insight in her song of praise (Luke 1:46-55). (Ibid)

G. Campbell Morgan on poor - “Men and women who are supremely conscious of their own spiritual poverty; of their own unworthiness; who are mastered by a great humility!”

Dr. Martyn Lloyd Jones said, “This one is first because it is obviously the key to all that follows!”

Brian Bell - This one speaks of emptying, while the rest are a manifestation of a fullness. We can’t be filled unless we’re emptied!

Poor (4434)(ptochos from ptosso = crouch, cringe, cower down or hide oneself for fear, a picture of one crouching and cowering like a beggar with a tin cup to receive the pennies dropped in!) is an adjective which describes one who crouches and cowers and is used as a noun to mean beggar. These poor were unable to meet their basic needs and so were forced to depend on others or on society. Classical Greek used the ptochos to refer to a person reduced to total destitution, who crouched in a corner begging. As he held out one hand for alms he often hid his face with the other hand, because he was ashamed of being recognized.

Ptochos describes not simply honest poverty, and the struggle of the laboring man to make ends meet but also describes abject poverty, which has literally nothing and which is in imminent danger of real starvation. Ptochos focuses on a state of dependence, so that in Mt 5:3 "the poor in spirit" are those who have learned to be completely dependent on God for everything and these are the ones who possess the kingdom of heaven.

Walter L. Leifeld adds that ptochos "in Luke implies those who are utterly dependent on God (Lk 6:20). They are the special recipients of the "good news" Jesus came to preach (Lk 4:18). Often the economically destitute sense their need of God more than others. (The Expositor's Bible Commentary – Volume 8: Matthew, Mark, Luke)

Luke's uses of Ptochos -  Lk. 4:18; Lk. 6:20; Lk. 7:22; Lk. 14:13; Lk. 14:21; Lk. 16:20; Lk. 16:22; Lk. 18:22; Lk. 19:8; Lk. 21:3; 

NET Note on poor - You who are poor is a reference to the “pious poor” for whom God especially cares. See Ps 14:6; 22:24; 25:16; 34:6; 40:17; 69:29.

POSB The opposite of being "poor in spirit" is having a spirit that is full of self. There is a world of difference between these two spirits. There is the difference of thinking one is righteous and acknowledging one has the need for righteousness. There is the difference of having self-righteousness and of having another's righteousness. Man must have another's righteousness. Self-righteousness goes no farther than self, that is, no farther than death. Another's righteousness, that is, Christ's righteousness, lives forever (2 Cor. 5:21; Phil. 3:9. Ro 3:21-22;  Galatians 2:15-16 Romans 10:4) The promise to the poor is phenomenal. Note the exact words: "yours is the kingdom of heaven." The promise is not "yours shall be," but "yours is." The poor in spirit receive the Kingdom of Heaven now. (The Preacher's Outline & Sermon Bible – Luke)

Steven Cole - The kingdom Jesus speaks of is both a present reality and a future promise. To the poor who have followed Him, Jesus says, “Yours is the kingdom of God.” They presently possess it. In this sense, the kingdom means living decidedly under the lordship of Jesus, obeying His commands, living with the aim of pleasing Him. But, the kingdom is also a future promise, in that Jesus plainly taught that He would return to reign on the throne of David and to rule the nations with a rod of iron. In this sense, Jesus’ followers all mourn at the present reign of darkness under the prince of this world, and we long for the soon-coming day when, according to His promise, there will be a new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells (2Pe 3:13). So, if you want to live happily ever after, you must see that there are two and only two ways to live. You can live for the things and pleasures of this world, which are destined to perish. Or, you can submit yourself to Jesus Christ and live for His present and coming kingdom. Every follower of Jesus, not just the super-dedicated, will be in the second camp. There is no middle ground, sort-of Christian, with one foot in the world and one in Jesus’ kingdom. You must get off the fence and declare yourself to be on Jesus’ side. (Luke 6:20-26 How to Live Happily Ever After)

Yours is the kingdom of God - The verb "IS" is in the present tense meaning it is continually (and forever) yours! This is an incredible promise! Notice the dramatic contrast - the poor receive the Kingdom of God, something the richest person in history could not purchase and something which is imperishable, undefiled and will not fade away! (1 Pe 1:4-note). Leifeld adds "There may also be an element of "inaugurated eschatology" in the present tens—i.e., the presence of some aspects of the coming kingdom of God. In this case, the poor can rejoice even in the midst of their destitution because they are already able to partake of some of the kingdom blessings.""

The NET Bible translation is "the kingdom of God belongs to you" and the NET Note says "The present tense (belongs) here is significant. Jesus makes the kingdom and its blessings currently available. This phrase is unlike the others in the list with the possessive pronoun being emphasized. Jesus was saying, in effect, “the kingdom belongs even now to people like you.” (Ed: Why? Because those who have believed experience the reign of the Jesus, the King of that Kingdom!)

As with the Sermon on the Mount (and Luke's version may be a condensation), Jesus is not teaching the Gospel, nor is He teaching that by following or obeying the commands in this sermon one will attain the Kingdom of God. Sinners cannot keep this sermon in their own power but must be born again and then by reliance on the indwelling Holy Spirit, they are enabled to obey Jesus' teachings. 

Related Resource:

Luke 6:21  "Blessed are you who hunger now, for you shall be satisfied. Blessed are you who weep now, for you shall laugh.

KJV  Blessed are ye that hunger now: for ye shall be filled. Blessed are ye that weep now: for ye shall laugh.

  • you who hunger now Lk 6:25; 1:53; Psalms 42:1,2; 143:6; Isaiah 55:1,2; 1 Corinthians 4:11; 2 Corinthians 11:27; 12:10
  • for you shall be satisfied Ps 17:15; 63:1-5; 65:4; 107:9; Isaiah 25:6; 44:3,4; 49:9,10; 65:13; 66:10; Jeremiah 31:14,25; Matthew 5:6; John 4:10; 6:35; 7:37,38; Revelation 7:16
  • you who weep now Lk 6:25; Ps 6:6-8; 42:3; 119:136; 126:5,6; Ecclesiastes 7:2,3; Isaiah 30:19; 57:17; Isaiah 57:18; 61:1-3; Jeremiah 9:1; 13:17; 31:9,13,18-20; Ezekiel 7:16; 9:4; Matthew 5:4; John 11:35; 16:20,21; Romans 9:1-3; 2 Corinthians 1:4-6; 6:10; 7:10,11; James 1:2-4,12; 1 Peter 1:6-8; Revelation 21:3
  • for you shall laugh Genesis 17:17; 21:6; Psalms 28:7; 30:11,12; 126:1,2; Isaiah 12:1,2; 65:14
  • Luke 6 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries
  • Luke 6:20-23 The Character of a True Christian-1 - John MacArthur


Blessed (3107)(makarios) see note

Matthew's parallel is more clearly referring to spiritual hunger. Luke's version does not specify literal poverty or spiritual but it is still surely a reference to spiritual hunger...

 “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.  (Mt 5:6-note)

Steven Cole - When Jesus blesses the hungry and pronounces woe on the well-fed, He is not speaking primarily in physical terms. The main point is spiritual. Those who are physically hungry are truly blessed if they come to God in their eed and learn to rely on Him for all their needs as their caring Father. Those who are physically well-fed are truly to be pitied if they ignore their spiritual starvation and need for God, who sustains us both physically and spiritually. (Luke 6:20-26 How to Live Happily Ever After)

Hunger (3983)(peinao  from peín = hunger) means to feel the pangs of lack of food. The majority of the NT uses speak of literal hunger. Jesus elevated feeding the hungry to high level in His teaching in Mt 25:35, 37, 42, 44. The figurative use as in Mt 5:6-note signifies to have strong desire to attain some goal with the implication of an existing lack. Other passages that use hunger with this figurative sense are Luke 1:53, 6:21, 25, John 6:35, possibly Rev 7:16 (could refer to literal and/or spiritual hunger). In summary, peinao may refer to hunger for earthly produce (eg. Lazarus hungering for crumbs - Lk 16:19-31) or to an intense desire for spiritual nourishment which is also necessary for the continuance of life. In classic Greek peinao means to hunger and by extension it means to long for something which is necessary for sustenance of life and can range from simple desire for a meal to starvation brought on by poverty or disaster. Figuratively, it could even refer to an intense desire for something other than food, for something that was deemed necessary for one's well-being. In the Septuagint, in the OT, peinao is often used in the context of famine (Ge 41:55, 2Ki 7:12), for famine is more frequently spoken of then simple hunger that is an impulse stimulated by short term absence of food. And for this reason, the Septuagint uses the more intense Greek word limos (3016). Peinao is occasionally used in the context of matters of justice in reference to the hungry or oppressed (1Sa 2:5, Ps 146:7).

Peinao is in the present tense indicating their hungering is continual. I like this thought because after we receive Jesus, we still should be hungering for Him, for He is infinite and infinitely satisfying at the same time.

Uses of peinao in Luke - Lk. 1:53; Lk. 4:2; Lk. 6:3; Lk. 6:21; Lk. 6:25.

NET Note on you who hunger - You who hunger are people like the poor Jesus has already mentioned. The term has OT roots both in conjunction with the poor (Isa 32:6–7; 58:6–7, 9–10; Ezek 18:7, 16) or by itself (Ps 37:16–19; 107:9).

You shall be satisfied - "Jesus turned human need into human contentment." (Trent Butler) The passive voice here is the "divine passive" for the satisfaction referred to is an inner soul satisfaction that only God Himself can fill. 

Blaise Pascal alludes to man's desperate desire and need for divine filling in his book Pensées - chapter VII writing “What is it, then, that this desire and this inability proclaim to us, but that there was once in man a true happiness of which there now remain to him only the mark and empty trace, which he in vain tries to fill from all his surroundings, seeking from things absent the help he does not obtain in things present? But these are all inadequate, because the infinite abyss can only be filled by an infinite and immutable object, that is to say, only by God Himself. He only is our true good, and since we have forsaken Him, it is a strange thing that there is nothing in nature which has not been serviceable in taking His place; the stars, the heavens, earth, the elements, plants, cabbages, leeks, animals, insects, calves, serpents, fever, pestilence, war, famine, vices, adultery, incest. And since man has lost the true good, everything can appear equally good to him, even his own destruction, though so opposed to God, to reason, and to the whole course of nature."

IVP Background Commentary - Being “filled” (sustained) was a hoped-for blessing of the messianic era. Hunger struck poor families in times of famine (the situation in rural Palestine was better than that of rural Egypt but worse than that of Corinth or Italy).

Satisfied (5526)(chortazo from chortos = fodder or grass or herbage of the field in general) means to feed with herbs, grass or hay and then to eat one's fill resulting in a state of being satisfied eat one's fill. Chortazo was used of the feeding of animals until they wanted nothing more. They were allowed to eat until they were completely satisfied. The picture is of animals who stayed at the feed trough until they wanted nothing more to eat.Thus chortazo means to feed providing more than enough to satisfy. For example Matthew records that…

they all ate (multitudes fed miraculously by Jesus with only 5 loaves and 2 fish), and were satisfied. And they picked up what was left over of the broken pieces, twelve full baskets. (Matthew 14:20)

Uses of satisfied in Luke - Lk. 6:21; Lk. 9:17; Lk. 16:21.

NET Note on you shall be satisfied - The promise you will be satisfied is the first of several “reversals” noted in these promises. The beatitudes and the reversals that accompany them serve in the sermon as an invitation to enter into God’s care, because one can know God cares for those who turn to him.

Blessed are you who weep now, for you shall laugh - This beatitude is unique to the Gospel of Luke and is not found in the Sermon on the Mount (one of the reasons some see these as similar but distinct sermons).

Steven Cole - When Jesus blesses those who weep now, He is referring to His followers who suffer in this wicked world because of their identification with Him. They will get the last laugh because God will welcome them to His sumptuous banquet table. Those who laugh now are like the rich man in Jesus’ parable, who say to themselves, “Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years to come; take your ease, eat, drink and be merry.” But God said to him, “You fool! This very night your soul is required of you; and now who will own what you have prepared?” (Lu 12:19, Lu 12:20). (Luke 6:20-26 How to Live Happily Ever After)

Brian Bell quips that “If you want to know someone’s character, find out what makes him laugh & what makes him weep!” What we laugh at & what we weep over indicates our values of life & values are a part of maturity.

Weeping was a sign of mourning or repentance. We see this is one of the largest conversions in the Bible (if not the largest) in the pagan nation of Nineveh in the 8th cent. BC. In Jonah we read that in response to Jonah's message “Yet forty days and Nineveh will be overthrown.”  (Jonah 3:4b - notice Jonah did not even tell them to "Repent!" and yet they did). Jonah goes on to record the king's words stating that "both man and beast must be covered with sackcloth (the Septuagint adds "and cried earnestly to God"); and let men call on God earnestly that each may turn from his wicked way and from the violence which is in his hands (REPENTANCE). “Who knows, God may turn and relent and withdraw His burning anger so that we will not perish.”  (Jonah 3:8,9)

Weep (2799)(klaio) means to mourn, to weep, to lament or to wail with emphasis upon noise accompanying weeping. It expresses one’s immediate and outward reaction to suffering. The picture is of one lamenting with sobs or wailing aloud and was used to describe the wailing that took place when someone died. Weeping thus was a sign of the pain and grief for the entity or person being wept over. Klaio implies not only the shedding of tears, but also external expression of grief. It was a term frequently used to describe the actions of professional mourners.

Klaio is in the present tense indicating weeping was a continual practice.

NIDNTT writes that in classical Greek klaio is "found from Homer onwards (and ) means intransitively to cry aloud, weep; transitively to bewail. In secular Greek. klaio does not express remorse or sorrow, but physical or mental pain which is outwardly visible. (Brown, Colin, Editor. New International Dictionary of NT Theology. 1986. Zondervan)

Klaio in Luke and Acts - Lk. 6:21; Lk. 6:25; Lk. 7:13; Lk. 7:32; Lk. 7:38; Lk. 8:52; Lk. 19:41; Lk. 22:62; Lk. 23:28;  Acts 9:39; Acts 21:13

NET Note on you shall laugh -  You will laugh alludes to the joy that comes to God’s people in the salvation to come.

Luke 6:22  "Blessed are you when men hate you, and ostracize you, and insult you, and scorn your name as evil, for the sake of the Son of Man.

KJV  Blessed are ye, when men shall hate you, and when they shall separate you from their company, and shall reproach you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of man's sake.

  • when men Matthew 5:10-12; 10:22; Mark 13:9-13; John 7:7; 15:18-20; 17:14; 2 Corinthians 11:23-26; Philippians 1:28-30; 1 Thessalonians 2:14,15; 2 Timothy 3:11,12; 1 Peter 2:19,20; 1 Peter 3:14; 4:12-16
  • separate  Lk 20:15; Isaiah 65:5; 66:5; John 9:22-28,34; 12:42; 16:2; Acts 22:22; 24:5
  • for Lk 21:17; Matthew 10:18,22,39; Acts 9:16; 1 Corinthians 4:10,11
  • Luke 6 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries
  • Luke 6:20-23 The Character of a True Christian-1 - John MacArthur

Steven Cole - When Jesus blesses those who are hated, ostracized, insulted, and spurned for His sake, He compares their treatment to that of the godly prophets. The reason for their ill treatment is that they have stood for God’s truth and righteousness, which sinners, especially religious hypocrites, hate. Jesus’ disciples who are so mistreated should rejoice and leap for joy, because they have great reward in heaven. But Jesus compares those who are well-spoken of to the false prophets. It’s never hard to gain a following: Just flatter people and tell them how wonderful they are. They will flock to hear you and buy your books. You will be famous and successful on earth, but rejected in heaven. One reason Jesus paints with these broad strokes of black and white, with no gray, is to draw the line and make us examine ourselves. Which side are you on? I immediately want to say, “Lord, how about someone who isn’t poor or rich? I’m just kind of middle class! How about someone who isn’t starving, but I’m not a glutton? I’m not going around weeping, but neither am I a comedian. People aren’t throwing rotten eggs at me, but neither am I Mr. Popular. Isn’t there room for a guy like me in the middle?” Jesus replies, “No, you’re either decidedly for Me or you are decidedly against Me. There’s no middle ground.” He forces us to get off the fence and decide: Are we living for this life and its temporary pleasures or are we living for Jesus and His eternal kingdom? (Luke 6:20-26 How to Live Happily Ever After)

Blessed (3107)(makarios) see note

Hate (3404)(miseo from misos = hatred) means to dislike strongly, to have a strong aversion to or to detest, all of these representing expressions of hostility of one person (or group) toward another. Other uses in Luke - Lk. 1:71; Lk. 6:22; Lk. 6:27; Lk. 14:26; Lk. 16:13; Lk. 19:14; Lk. 21:17. 

Scorn (1544)(ekbállō) literally means to cast out and thus speaks of ejection by force (like one would a demon in Lk 11:20 or Jesus did to the money changers in Mt 9:34, 21:12)! In this context ekballo means to reject.

Ostracize ("excommunicate")(873)(aphorizo from apó = off from, apart + horizo = mark out the limit) means to mark off the boundaries, to appoint, set one apart for some purpose. It is used of the final separation of the righteous from the wicked (Mt 13:49; 25:32); of the separation of the disciples from the world (Lk 6:22); and of the setting apart of apostles to special functions (Acts 13:2). The central idea is “to limit by setting apart from the rest,” hence, to distinguish from others in some specific way.

NET Note on scorn your name as evil - Or “disdain you”; Greek “cast out your name as evil.” The word “name” is used here as a figure of speech to refer to the person as a whole. The phrase when they exclude you and insult you and reject you as evil alludes to a person being ostracized and socially isolated because of association with the Son of Man, Jesus.

Brian Bell - American Christians are persecuted daily! Christianity is attacked everywhere! {In politics; often w/church building projects(not ours); public Preaching & outreach; in our Schools(discrimination) - in every subject, w/evolution, w/morals(or the lack of them), their hero’s(sport figures, & rock stars); the attack on the family structure). How do we gain happiness from this?

  1. Realize that is a privilege to be persecuted for Jesus sake (cf Php 1:29-note).
  2. Realize this is evidence that we’re living like Him. (cf Jn 15:18-20)
  3. Realize that the fellowship of his sufferings (Phil.3:10-note) is the closest fellowship possible w/God! When we are in the furnace, the Son of God is there with us (cf Da 3:24-26-note)!
  4. Realize when the stones are flying we have opportunity to be His best witness! (Stephen with Saul - Look at the results! Acts 7:57-60, 8:1)
  5. Realize persecution gives us the opportunity to grow! “It has a way of driving us to God!” (cf 1 Peter 1:6-7)

Spurgeon wrote that “Persecution of the tongue is more common, but not less cruel than that of the hand!”

Luke 6:23  "Be glad in that day and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven. For in the same way their fathers used to treat the prophets.

KJV Luke 6:23 Rejoice ye in that day, and leap for joy: for, behold, your reward is great in heaven: for in the like manner did their fathers unto the prophets.

  • Rejoice  Acts 5:41; Romans 5:3; 2 Corinthians 12:10; Colossians 1:24; James 1:2
  • leap  Lk 1:41,44; 2 Samuel 6:16; 6:16; Isaiah 35:6; Acts 3:8; 14:10
  • your Lk 6:35; Matthew 5:12; 6:1,2; 2 Thessalonians 1:5-7; 2 Timothy 2:12; 4:7,8; Hebrews 11:6,26; 1 Peter 4:13; Revelation 2:7,10,11,17,26; 3:5,12; 21:7
  • for in 1 Kings 18:4; 19:2,10,14; 21:20; 22:8,27; 2 Kings 6:31; 2 Chronicles 36:16; Nehemiah 9:26; Jeremiah 2:30; Matthew 21:35,36; 23:31-37; Acts 7:51,52; 1 Thessalonians 2:14,15; Hebrews 11:32-39
  • Luke 6 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries
  • Luke 6:20-23 The Character of a True Christian-1 - John MacArthur
  • Luke 6:23-26 The Character of a True Christian- 2 - John MacArthur

Be glad (rejoice) (5463)(chairo) means to be "cheer" full, calmly happy or well-off. Chairo implies and imparts joy. Chairo is used in a whole range of situations in which the emotion of joy is evoked. To be in a state of happiness and well being (often independent of what is happening when the Source is the Spirit!). Chairo means to enjoy a state of gladness, to be delighted.

Be glad (like leap below) is an aorist imperative, a command that can only be obeyed by saints filled with the Spirit, Who will give the desire and the power to be glad in circumstances that the world would not consider conducive to being glad!

Leap (for joy)(4640)(skirtao) means "exuberant springing motion, leap, spring about as a sign of joy. Of sheep gaily skipping about." (BDAG)   Twice (Lk 1:41, 44-note) this verb describes the baby John leaping in Elizabeth's womb. 

Leaping was used especially of animals (Septuagint - "skip about like calves" - Mal 4:2-note = those who fear God, who are saved will one day "skip" about). Leaping is often associated with joy and is an expression of it. 

For behold - This is also actually a command and in the present context conveys the idea that we are to look not at the present uncomfortable circumstances but (enabled by the Spirit) are to look at the future great reward, one that endures eternally! What we are looking for (future reward) will determine what we are living for (in the present). This concept is frequently emphasized in the Bible. For example, one of 20-25 verses refer (directly or indirectly) to the Second Coming of our Savior Who will rescue us once and for all time from this present evil age! Now that's something worth living for! 

Related Resource: See discussion of what I like to call "Vertical Vision" ("eternal eyesight" as opposed to horizontal vision where our eyes are focused on the things of this present temporary world).

Behold (2400)(idou) is the second person singular aorist middle imperative of eidon which means to see, perceive, look at. In the NT idou is used as a demonstrative particle that draws attention to what follows. Idou in the middle voice means "you yourself look, see, perceive!" The aorist imperative is a command emphasizing "Do it now! Don't delay!"

Spurgeon reminds us that "Behold is a word of wonder; it is intended to excite admiration. Wherever you see it hung out in Scripture, it is like an ancient sign-board, signifying that there are rich wares within, or like the hands which solid readers have observed in the margin of the older Puritanic books, drawing attention to something particularly worthy of observation." I would add, behold is like a divine highlighter, a divine underlining of an especially striking or important text. It says in effect "Listen up, all ye who would be wise in the ways of Jehovah!"

Your reward is great in heaven - Not great on earth, not great now, but great in the future in heaven. This present world is temporary and is passing away and also its lusts (1 John 2:17-note), but heaven's rewards will last forever! The Christian road is first the cross, and then the crown.

Reward (wage) (3408)(misthos) literally refers to pay which is due for labor performed or dues paid for work. Misthos is used in two general senses in the NT, either to refer to wages or to reward, recognition or recompense. In this latter figurative usage, misthos refers to rewards which God bestows for the moral quality of an action, such rewards most often to be bestowed in eternity future. Luke uses misthos in Lk 6:23, 35, 10:7. 

Prophets (4396)(prophetes from próphemi = literally to tell beforehand in turn from pró = before, in front of, forth, on behalf of + phemí = speak, tell) is primarily a forth-teller or one who speaks out God’s message, primarily to their own generation, usually always calling the people to God's truth for them at that moment, often using the phrase "Thus saith the Lord." The prophet is one who speaks before in the sense of proclaim, or the one who speaks for, i.e., in the Name of (God). "As distinct from the sacral figures of pagan antiquity the biblical prophet is not a magician. He does not force God. On the contrary, he is under divine constraint. It is God Who invites, summons, and impels him--e.g., Jer 20:7" (Lamorte and Hawthorne)

NET Note on treat the prophets - Mistreatment of the prophets is something Luke often notes (Luke 11:47–51; Acts 7:51–52).

IVP Background Commentary - The Old Testament tradition that most true prophets suffered rejection was amplified further in Judaism, so Jesus’ hearers would have caught his point. The separation or ostracism here might allude to being officially put out of the synagogue (cf. comment on Jn 9:22) but is probably meant more generally.

Luke 6:24  "But woe to you who are rich, for you are receiving your comfort in full.

KJV Luke 6:24 But woe unto you that are rich! for ye have received your consolation.

  • woe Lk 12:15-21; 18:23-25; Job 21:7-15; Psalms 49:6,7,16-19; 73:3-12; Proverbs 1:32; Jeremiah 5:4-6; Amos 4:1-3; 6:1-6; Haggai 2:9; 1 Timothy 6:17; James 2:6; 5:1-6; Revelation 18:6-8
  • for Lk 16:19-25; Matthew 6:2,5,16
  • Luke 6 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries
  • Luke 6:23-26 The Character of a True Christian- 2 - John MacArthur

But - term of contrast - What is Jesus contrasting?

Woe to you who are rich - Literally "But woe to you -- the rich" (no verb "are" in the Greek). God's Word Translation bluntly says "But how horrible it will be for those who are rich. They have had their comfort." The NLT has "What sorrow awaits you who are rich, for you have your only happiness now."

Steven Cole -  When Jesus says, “Woe to you who are rich, for you are receiving your comfort in full,” He is referring to those who are living as if this world is all there is. They are not rich toward God by laying up treasures in heaven (Lu 12:21). They are living for selfish pleasures and comforts and they are relying on themselves to gain these things. In light of eternity, it’s a foolish way to live. (Luke 6:20-26 How to Live Happily Ever After)

NET Note on woe - Jesus promises condemnation (woe) to those who are callous of others, looking only to their own comforts. On Luke and the rich see Luke 1:53; 12:16; 14:12; 16:1, 21–22; 18:23; 19:2; 21:1. These woes are unique to Luke.

In this and the following two verses Jesus speaks "Woes" upon those who are rich (Lk 6:24), well-fed (Lk 6:25), laugh (Lk 6:25) and when all men speak well of you (popular)(Lk 6:26). The implication is that He is addressing those in the crowd about whom these attributes are true. 

Woe (alas) (3750)(ouai)  (click and select "Phonetics" to hear "ouai" pronounced) (ouai pronounced "oo-ah'ee," an eerie, ominous foreboding sound some say is like the cry of an eagle) is an onomatopoeic word (an imitation of the sound) which serves as an interjection expressing a cry of intense distress, displeasure or horror. It may convey a warning of impending disaster to the hearers.  pronounced "oo-ah'ee," an eerie, ominous foreboding sound some say is like the cry of an eagle) is an onomatopoeic word (an imitation of the sound) which serves as an interjection expressing a cry of intense distress, displeasure or horror. It may convey a warning of impending disaster to the hearers. Most NT uses of ouai are in the context of warning about inevitable, impending judgment, often intermingled with a feeling of pity (Mt 11:21-22, Lk 22:22 = Judas' betrayal). Rev 8:13-note has woe in triplicate which seems to provide the greatest possible emphasis on God's coming judgment on the world, much as the cry of "holy" in triplicate emphasizes His holiness. Indeed, His perfect holiness demands His perfect judgment! In the Lxx a double woe is addressed to unfaithful Jerusalem because of her idolatry and immorality (Ezek 16:23). Ouai does not depict sorrow on the part of those who have sinned (as some have mistakenly taught).

Luke uses ouai in these passages - 

Lk. 6:24; Lk. 6:25; Lk. 6:26; Lk. 10:13; Lk. 11:42; Lk. 11:43; Lk. 11:44; Lk. 11:46; Lk. 11:47; Lk. 11:52; Lk. 17:1; Lk. 21:23; Lk. 22:22

Rich (rich man) (4145)(plousios  from ploutos = wealth, abundance, riches) is an adjective which defines that which exists in a large amount with implication of its being valuable. Literally plousios refers to having an abundance of earthly possessions that exceeds normal experience.

NET Note on received - Ironically the language of reward shows that what the rich have received is all they will get. This result looks at a current situation, just as the start of the beatitudes did. The rest of the conclusions to the woes look to the future at the time of judgment.

Forterm of explanation. What's Jesus explaining?

Are receiving (568)(apechomai or apecho from apó = away from - conveys the idea of putting some distance between; serves as a marker of dissociation, implying a rupture from a former association + écho = have) in the active voice (as in this verse) means to receive a sum in full and give a receipt for it. Apecho was used as a commercial technical term meaning "to receive a sum in full and give a receipt for it". (Mt 6:2, 6:5, 6:16-note). In the papyri apecho is used repeatedly in the sense of “I have received” as a technical expression in drawing up a receipt. And so it can refer to a commercial receipt which gives way to the NT meaning to receive in full payment, to have in full or to have received what one had a right to except (e.g., referring to Paul's financial support from the church at Philippi - Phil 4:18-note). A similar meaning is to receive back a person (Philemon 1:15).

Comfort (3874)(paraklesis from parakaléo = beseech <> pará = side of + kaléo = call) refers to calling to one's side or one's aid which can be for the purpose of providing solace, comfort, consolation, exhortation, encouragement. Comfort is from Latin com = with + fortis = strong, and means to invigorate, to enliven, to cheer, to strengthen one's mind when depressed, to give new vigor to one's spirits, to give strength or hope to another, to ease their grief or trouble.

IVP Background Commentary - “Comfort” was a blessing of the messianic era (e.g., Is 40:1; cf. Lk 16:25). Most of Jesus’ hearers were poor, but Luke’s urban, Greco-Roman readership was probably better off (1:3–4); Luke pulls no punches for his own audience (cf. 1 Enoch 96:4–5). Laughter was often associated with scorn.

Luke 6:25  "Woe to you who are well-fed now, for you shall be hungry. Woe to you who laugh now, for you shall mourn and weep.

KJV Woe unto you that are full! for ye shall hunger. Woe unto you that laugh now! for ye shall mourn and weep.

  • full Deuteronomy 6:11,12; 1 Samuel 2:5; Proverbs 30:9; Isaiah 28:7; 65:13; Philippians 4:12,13; Revelation 3:17
  • hunger Isaiah 8:21; 9:20; 65:13
  • laugh Lk 8:53; 16:14,15; Ps 22:6,7; Proverbs 14:13; Ecclesiastes 2:2; 7:3,6; Ephesians 5:4; James 4:9
  • mourn Lk 12:20; 13:28; Job 20:5-7; 21:11-13; Psalms 49:19; Isaiah 21:3,4; 24:7-12; Daniel 5:4-6; Amos 8:10; Nahum 1:10; Matthew 22:11-13; 1 Thessalonians 5:3; Revelation 18:7-11
  • Luke 6 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries
  • Luke 6:23-26 The Character of a True Christian- 2 - John MacArthur

Woe (alas) (3750)(ouai

Forterm of explanation. What's Jesus explaining?

NET Note on well-fed - “well satisfied with food.”

Luke 6:26  "Woe to you when all men speak well of you, for their fathers used to treat the false prophets in the same way.

KJV Luke 6:26 Woe unto you, when all men shall speak well of you! for so did their fathers to the false prophets.

  • when Micah 2:11; John 7:7; 15:19; Romans 16:18; 2 Thessalonians 2:8-12; James 4:4; 2 Peter 2:18,19; 1 John 4:5,6; Revelation 13:3,4
  • so 1 Kings 22:6-8,13,14,24-28; Isaiah 30:10; Jeremiah 5:31; 2 Peter 2:1-3
  • Luke 6:17-49 Jesus' Teaching - Darrell Bock

Woe (alas) (3750)(ouai)

Woe to you when all men speak well of you - This brings out a clear contrast with Lk 6:23 - The persecuted are “blessed” but  the patronized receive “woe”!

Forterm of explanation. What's Jesus explaining?

False prophets (5578) (pseudoprophetes from pseudes = false, untrue + prophetes = prophet) who teach any other way than that our Lord has clearly marked out in this passage. These men (1) claim to be a prophet from God and (2) utter falsehoods under the name of divine prophecies.

IVP Background Commentary - Greek philosophers, who often scoffed at the opinions of the masses, sometimes complained if the multitudes spoke well of them. But Jesus’ comparison with the prophets is even more appropriate; the burden of proof was always on prophets who told people what they wanted to hear (Jer 6:14; 28:8–9). Although the hearers often suspected some truth in the genuine prophets’ claims (Jer 21:1–2; 37:3; 42:2; cf. 1 Kings 22:27), false prophets were usually more popular (1 Kings 22:12–13; Jer 5:31; 23:13–14). 

Steven Cole sums up Lk 6:20-26 - Jesus’ teaching here presupposes and demands an eternal perspective. Without that, His words are nonsense. Why be poor, hungry, sorrowful, and hated in this life if that’s all there is? Critics of Christianity will often scoff, “You believe in pie-in-the-sky-when-you-die.” The proper response is, “Absolutely! And you’re a fool not to believe it!” The Bible is abundantly clear that the hope of the believer is with God in eternity, not in this short life on earth (see 1Co 15:19, 1Co 15:32; Heb 11:13-16, Heb 11:35-40). As Charles Simeon put it, “He alone is happy, who is happy for eternity” (Expository Outlines on the Whole Bible [Zondervan], 12:345).

Jesus here boldly asserts that there will be some startling reversals in eternity. He often taught this with the aphorism, “The last shall be first, and the first last” (see Mt 19:30; Mt 20:16; Lu 13:30). The world, the flesh, and the devil deceive us by offering us instant gratification through the pleasures of sin. We look around at other sinners who seem to be having a good time in life and we wrongly conclude that we’re missing out. The psalmist was there when he looked on the easy life of the wicked and concluded that he had turned from sin to God in vain. What got the psalmist back in focus? “When I pondered to understand this, it was troublesome in my sight until I came into the sanctuary of God; then I perceived their end. Surely You set them in slippery places; You cast them down to destruction” (Ps 73:16-18).

D. L. Moody observed, “This life is all the heaven the worldling has, and all the hell the saint ever sees.”

The believer knows that there is a God who will judge the world, and so he adopts a pilgrim mindset. We desperately need to recover this eternal perspective in our day. While I realize that the Four Spiritual Laws booklet has been greatly used to lead many to faith in Christ, in my judgment it focuses too much on the abundant life here and now and not enough on the hope of heaven and the fear of hell. But the emphasis of the Bible is clearly on the latter. “What does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul?” (Mk 8:36). You can’t straddle the line. Followers of Jesus focus on the life to come, not on the fleeting pleasures of this present world. That’s the only way to true happiness.

3. To live happily ever after, you must adopt God’s values while rejecting the world’s values.

Leon Morris (p. 126) observes, “Together with the following woes, these beatitudes make a mockery of the world’s values. They exalt what the world despises and reject what the world admires.” Clearly Jesus is saying that the values of His followers are radically different than the values of the world. There should be clear line between the believer and the person of this world in terms of how we think, what we do, what we seek after, and how we use money.

Yet, sadly, all too often there is no discernible difference between professing Christians and their worldly neighbors, except that the Christians go to church services. The worldly guy is living for personal peace and increasing affluence; so is the Christian. The worldly guy seeks pleasure vicariously by watching immoral, profane TV shows and videos; so does the Christian. The worldly guy spends his money to increase his own comfort and pleasure; so does the Christian, except for the two or three percent average that he gives. The worldly guy thinks that all good people who do the best they can will get to heaven; shockingly, so do vast numbers of those professing to be Christian.

A recent Barna Report asked, “Can a good person earn his way to heaven?” Those responding “agree strongly” or “somewhat agree” included 22% of Assembly of God, 30% of nondenominational, 38% of Baptists, 54% of Lutherans, 58% of Episcopalians, 59% of Methodists, and 82% of Catholics (reported in “Viewpoint,” Reformation & Revival Ministries May/June, 1998).

Christians must think biblically.

4. To live happily ever after, you must live in dependence on God.

These poor, hungry, sorrowful, and rejected people Jesus refers to have abandoned the world’s support system and have cast themselves totally on God for their daily bread, for their personal and emotional needs, and for their eternal well-being. The world’s rich, well-fed, happy men of acclaim are trusting in themselves and their own accomplishments. But, as Darrell Bock writes, “An attitude of independence from God is the road to destruction” (Luke [Baker], 1:582). The follower of Jesus trusts in Him totally for sustenance, joy, approval, and salvation. We live to hear from Him some day, “Well done, good and faithful slave;... enter into the joy of your master” (Mt 25:21).

Conclusion - A question I often ask people who come to me for counsel is, “Do you want God’s blessing in your life?” Of course, we all instinctively want to answer, “Yes, of course I do!” But before you answer so quickly, stop and think about it. How you answer that question will make a huge difference in how you live. The person living for God’s blessing has deliberately decided to reject the world’s values and to live under the lordship of Jesus as King. Turning his back on this fleeting world and its pleasures, he is living in light of eternity. Letting go of self-sufficiency and self-confidence, he has cast himself on Jesus both for salvation from God’s judgment and for sustenance in this life. So, ask yourself, “Do I want God’s blessing on my life?” It’s the only way to live happily ever after. Jesus tells you how to have it: Live decisively for God’s kingdom and reject the world’s values.  (Luke 6:20-26 How to Live Happily Ever After)

Luke 6:27  "But I say to you who hear, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you,

KJV   But I say unto you which hear, Love your enemies, do good to them which hate you,

  • But I say to you who hear - Lk 8:8,15,18; Mk 4:24
  • Love Lk 6:35; 23:34; Exodus 23:4,5; Job 31:29-31; Psalms 7:4; Proverbs 24:17; 25:2,21,22; Matthew 5:43-45; Acts 7:60; Romans 12:17-21; 1 Thessalonians 5:15
  • Do - Lk 6:22; Acts 10:38; Galatians 6:10; 3 John 1:11
  • Luke 6 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries
  • Luke 6:27-28 The Commands of Kingdom Love - John MacArthur


But - term of contrast - What is Jesus contrasting?

I say to you who hear - The NLT has "to you who are willing to listen."  NET has "I say to you who are listening," which speaks of understanding and can include a willingness to obey what is heard. 

The Old Testament specifically commanded love of neighbor (Lev 19:18-note), but no one commanded love of enemies! This is "Crazy Love!" 

Love (25) (agapao) essentially calls us to love like God loves! Love is present imperative which is a command only possible to obey by continually relying on the supernatural enablement of the Holy Spirit. Loving your enemy is simply not our fleshly, natural response!

MacArthur writes that agapao "expresses the purest, noblest form of love, which is volitionally driven, not motivated by superficial appearance, emotional attraction, or sentimental relationship. (1 & 2 Thessalonians. Moody Press)

Wuest - Agapao speaks of a love which is awakened by a sense of value in an object which causes one to prize it. It springs from an apprehension of the preciousness of an object. It is a love of esteem and approbation. The quality of this love is determined by the character of the one who loves, and that of the object loved.

NET Note on love your enemies - Love your enemies is the first of four short exhortations that call for an unusual response to those who are persecuting disciples. Disciples are to relate to hostility in a completely unprecedented manner.

Do (4160)(poieo) means to bring to pass, to carry out, to bring about, to accomplish. 

Jesus again uses the  present imperative emphasizing our need for the Spirit to carry out this antithetical action! Notice that even though the Spirit is not mentioned directly in several of these passages, He clearly is implied because Jesus knows that no natural man can carry out the "unnatural" commands He is giving! 

Good (2570)(kalos)  describes that which is inherently excellent or intrinsically good, providing some special or superior benefit. Kalos is good with emphasis on that which is beautiful, handsome, excellent, surpassing, precious, commendable, admirable. 

To return good for good is natural; to return good for evil is supernatural.

Upside Down

You have heard that it was said, “You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.” But I say to you, love your enemies. —Matthew 5:43-44

If you were to ask me who I am, I’d tell you that I’m a follower of Jesus. But I have to admit, at times following Him is a real challenge. He tells me to do things like rejoice when I’m persecuted (Matt. 5:11-12); to turn the other cheek (vv.38-39); to give to someone who wants to take from me (vv.40-42); to love my enemies, bless those who curse me, and do good to those who hate me (vv.43-44). This kind of lifestyle seems very upside down to me.

But I’ve come to realize that He’s not upside down—I am. We have all been born fallen and broken. Being twisted by sin, our first instincts are often wrong, which inevitably leaves a big mess.

We’re like toast slathered with jelly that has fallen upside down on the kitchen floor. Left to ourselves, we can make a pretty big mess of things. Then Jesus comes along, like a divine spatula, scrapes us off the floor of our sinful ways, and turns us right side up. And as we follow His right-side-up ways, we discover that turning the other cheek keeps us from getting caught in a brawl, that it is more blessed to give than to receive, and that dying to self is life at its best.

After all, His ways are not our ways (Isa. 55:8), and I’ve come to realize that His ways are always best! By Joe Stowell 

When we’re transformed and made brand-new
We see things differently;
What once seemed right we now abhor,
And wrong we clearly see.

What may seem upside down to us is right side up to God.

Luke 6:28  bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.

KJV Luke 6:28 Bless them that curse you, and pray for them which despitefully use you.

Bless  (2127)(eulogeo from eu = good + lógos = word; see cognates eulogetos and eulogia) means speak good or well. When eulogeo is used by men toward men it means to speak well of with praise and thanksgiving (English "Eulogy" = an address in praise for one deceased ). To say good or positive things. Eulogeo can be from men to God, from men to men, and from God to men. When God blesses men He grants them favor and confers happiness upon them.

Bless is present imperative which calls for this to be our habitual practice, which is only possible as we continually rely on the supernatural enablement of the Holy Spirit. Blessing cursers is not our natural response!

Eulogeo in Luke - 

Lk. 1:42; Lk. 1:64; Lk. 2:28; Lk. 2:34; Lk. 6:28; Lk. 9:16; Lk. 13:35; Lk. 19:38; Lk. 24:30; Lk. 24:50; Lk. 24:51; Lk. 24:53; Jn. 12:13; Acts 3:26;

IVP Background Commentary - Although Jesus (23:34) and his followers (Acts 7:60) practiced this rule of blessing and praying for enemies, prayers for vindication by vengeance were common in the Old Testament (2 Chron 24:22; Ps 137:7–9; Jer 15:15; cf. Rev 6:10) and in ancient execration (magical curse) texts. 

Pray (4336)(proseuchomai from pros = toward, facing, before [emphasizing the direct approach of the one who prays in seeking God’s face] + euchomai = originally to speak out, utter aloud, express a wish, then to pray or to vow. Greek technical term for invoking a deity) in the NT is always used of prayer addressed to God (to Him as the object of faith and the One who will answer one’s prayer) and means to speak consciously (with or without vocalization) to Him, with a definite aim (See study of noun proseuche).Proseuchomai encompasses all the aspects of prayer -- submission, confession, petition, supplication (may concern one's own need), intercession (concerned with the needs of others), praise, and thanksgiving.

Once again Jesus uses the present imperative which calls for disciples to continual respond with prayer to their persecutors! The only way that this can be accomplished is not by relying on our natural power but by wholly relying on the power of the Holy Spirit.

In short the only ones who can keep any of Jesus' commands in Lk 6:27-31 are genuine believers who alone possess the indwelling Holy Spirit. 

Proseuchomai in Luke and Acts - 

Lk. 1:10; Lk. 3:21; Lk. 5:16; Lk. 6:12; Lk. 6:28; Lk. 9:18; Lk. 9:28; Lk. 9:29; Lk. 11:1; Lk. 11:2; Lk. 18:1; Lk. 18:10; Lk. 18:11; Lk. 20:47; Lk. 22:40; Lk. 22:41; Lk. 22:44; Lk. 22:46; Acts 1:24; Acts 6:6; Acts 8:15; Acts 9:11; Acts 9:40; Acts 10:9; Acts 10:30; Acts 11:5; Acts 12:12; Acts 13:3; Acts 14:23; Acts 16:25; Acts 20:36; Acts 21:5; Acts 22:17; Acts 28:8

Alternatives To Revenge

Read: Deuteronomy 19:16-21 Matthew 5:38-45 

You shall not take vengeance . . . , but you shall love your neighbor as yourself. —Leviticus 19:18

One Sunday while preaching, a pastor was accosted and punched by a man. He continued preaching, and the man was arrested. The pastor prayed for him and even visited him in jail a few days later. What an example of the way to respond to insult and injury!

While there is a place for self-defense, personal revenge was forbidden in the Old Testament: “You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the children of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Lev. 19:18; see also Deut. 32:35). It was also forbidden by Jesus and the apostles (Matt. 5:38-45; Rom. 12:17; 1 Peter 3:9).

The Old Testament law exacted like for like (Ex. 21:23-25; Deut. 19:21), which ensured that judicial punishment was not unjust or malicious. But there was a larger principle looming when it came to personal revenge: Justice must be done, but it must be left in the hands of God or the authorities ordained by God.

Instead of returning injury and insult, may we live by Christ-honoring and Spirit-empowered alternatives: Live at peace with everyone (Rom. 12:18), submit to a spiritual mediator (1 Cor. 6:1-6), and leave it in the hands of authorities and, most of all, in God’s hands.

  Lord, when I’m troubled by the insult of another, help me to let go of my desire for revenge. May I seek justice but also realize that it will happen in Your time. I want to learn to overcome evil with good. Amen.  By Marvin Williams 

  Leave final justice in the hands of a just God.  

Luke 6:29  "Whoever hits you on the cheek, offer him the other also; and whoever takes away your coat, do not withhold your shirt from him either.

KJV  And unto him that smiteth thee on the one cheek offer also the other; and him that taketh away thy cloke forbid not to take thy coat also.

  • unto Matthew 5:39
  • smiteth Lk 22:64; 2 Chronicles 18:23; Isaiah 50:6; Lamentations 3:30; Micah 5:1; Matthew 26:67; John 18:22; Acts 23:2; 1 Corinthians 4:11; 2 Corinthians 11:20
  • and him 2 Samuel 19:30; Matthew 5:40,41; 1 Corinthians 6:7; Hebrews 10:34
  • Luke 6 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries
  • Luke 6:29-30 The Actions of Kingdom Love - John MacArthur

Parallel Passage -

Mt 5:39-note - But I say to you, do not resist an evil person; but whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also.

Offer is present imperative emphasizing the necessity for the subject to depend wholly on the Holy Spirit to carry out this action!

IVP Background Commentary - The blow on the right cheek was the most grievous insult in the ancient Near East. The clothing in the verse refers to the outer and inner cloak, respectively; the poorest of people (like the average peasant in Egypt) might have only one of each; thus here Jesus refers, perhaps in hyperbolic images, to absolute nonresistance on one’s own behalf.

Lord, help me not retaliate
When someone wants to pick a fight;
Instead, give me the strength and faith
To show Your love and do what’s right. 

NET Note on hits you on the cheek - The phrase strikes you on the cheek probably pictures public rejection, like the act that indicated expulsion from the synagogue.

NET Note on  offer him the other also - This command to offer the other cheek as well is often misunderstood. It means that there is risk involved in reaching out to people with God’s hope. But if one is struck down in rejection, the disciple is to continue reaching out.

NET Note on do not withhold your shirt - The command do not withhold your tunic either is again an image of continually being totally at risk as one tries to keep contact with those who are hostile to what Jesus and his disciples offer.

NET Note on shirt - “shirt” (a long garment worn under the cloak next to the skin). The name for this garment (χιτών, chitōn) presents some difficulty in translation. Most modern readers would not understand what a ‘tunic’ was any more than they would be familiar with a ‘chiton.’ On the other hand, attempts to find a modern equivalent are also a problem: “Shirt” conveys the idea of a much shorter garment that covers only the upper body, and “undergarment” (given the styles of modern underwear) is more misleading still. “Tunic” was therefore employed, but with a note to explain its nature.

Shirt (garment) (5509)(chiton) refers to a close–fitting inner vest, an inner garment, an undergarment or in some contexts to any garment. At times two tunics seem to have been worn, probably of different materials for ornament or luxury (Mt. 10:10; Mk 6:9; Lu 3:11; 9:3). 

'It's Only Candy'

Read: Matthew 5:38-45

If anyone wants to sue you and take away your tunic, let him have your cloak also. —Matthew 5:40

At first the man was annoyed. But he became angry as groups of teenagers without costumes kept coming to his door shouting, “Trick or treat!”

“I’m not going to put up with this!” he announced to his wife. “If any more older kids without costumes show up tonight, they’re not getting anything from me. And if they don’t move on, I’ll call the police.”

As he talked, his face became red and his breathing rapid. His wife looked at him with a curious gaze and said, “George, it’s only candy.”

I’ve often pondered those three words: “It’s only candy.” That put the issue in perspective. How easily we become agitated over our rights, our property, and our preferences, only to be reminded that we have allowed something inconsequential to consume us.

The words of Jesus sound so strange to us: “If anyone wants to sue you and take away your tunic, let him have your cloak also. And whoever compels you to go one mile, go with him two” (Mt. 5:40-41). The Lord wants us to respond to our circumstances in ways that reflect our trust in Him and our commitment to heaven’s values.

So much of our anger could be avoided if we would only pause and say, “You’re right, Lord. It’s only candy.” By David C. McCasland

Thinking It Over
Am I ever tempted to take justice into my own hands?
What do these verses from Proverbs say about anger? Proverbs 15:1; 16:32; 19:11; 29:22

Always keep a cool head and a warm heart.

Oswald Chambers - The Account With Persecution

But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil; but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also."  Matthew 5:39

These verses reveal the humiliation of being a Christian. Naturally, if a man does not hit back, it is because he is a coward; but spiritually if a man does not hit back, it is a manifestation of the Son of God in him. When you are insulted, you must not only not resent it, but make it an occasion to exhibit the Son of God. You cannot imitate the disposition of Jesus; it is either there or it is not. To the saint personal insult becomes the occasion of revealing the incredible sweetness of the Lord Jesus.

The teaching of the Sermon on the Mount is not - Do your duty, but - Do what is not your duty. It is not your duty to go the second mile, to turn the other cheek, but Jesus says if we are His disciples we shall always do these things. There will be no spirit of - "Oh, well, I cannot do any more, I have been so misrepresented and misunderstood." Every time I insist upon my rights, I hurt the Son of God; whereas I can prevent Jesus from being hurt if I take the blow myself. That is the meaning of filling up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ. The disciple realizes that it is his Lord's honour that is at stake in his life, not his own honour.

Never look for right in the other man, but never cease to be right yourself. We are always looking for justice; the teaching of the Sermon on the Mount is - Never look for justice, but never cease to give it.

A Misunderstood Command - Geoffrey, a dedicated believer, took seriously our Lord's command about turning the other cheek, yet he misunderstood the meaning of what Christ taught. When a man struck him, for example, he turned the other side of his face to his assailant and allowed him to hit it again. He said, "I have now fulfilled the Lord's command." Then he proceeded to pound his foe into submission. That's quite obviously not what Jesus had in mind.

The Russian writer Leo Tolstoy also misinterpreted this command. He said that we should be completely nonresistant when people steal from us or hurt us. His theory was that the wicked would soon be so ashamed that they would correct their ways. But his logic was wrong. Society doesn't operate that way. Without the restraining force of the police, the wicked would completely overpower decent, law-abiding citizens.

What then did Jesus mean when He told us that we should turn the other cheek? He was saying we should not let the desire to get even dominate our lives. Instead, we should be governed by the principles of giving and forgiving. Through the power of the Holy Spirit who lives in us, we can do exactly what Jesus commanded. --H V Lugt (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)

Let me turn the other cheek
As You so often did;
Let me feel the joy of love
When saying, "I forgive." --Monroe

The best way to get even is to forgive as you have been forgiven.


Read: Matthew 5:38-42

You have heard that it was said, “An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.” But I tell you not to resist an evil person. —Matthew 5:38-39

When Nobel Chairman Gunnar John delivered his presentation speech for Martin Luther King’s 1964 Peace Prize, he quoted Jesus: “Whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also” (Matt. 5:39). As Mr. John noted: “It was not because he led a racial minority in their struggle for equality that Martin Luther King achieved fame. . . . [His] name will endure for the way in which he has waged his struggle.”

In 1955, King had led a year-long, peaceful boycott to protest segregation on buses. He paid a high price. His home was bombed, and he was assaulted and arrested. He never retaliated. Eventually he was murdered.

How contrary Dr. King’s peaceful example stands to my fleshly nature! I want justice now. I want retribution. I want others to pay for their wrongdoing, especially when it’s directed at me. What I do not want is to turn the other cheek and invite them to take another swing.

Haddon Robinson comments on the lofty standards Jesus set forth in the Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 5–7), calling them “goals . . . not impossible ideals. [Jesus] wants His disciples to strive toward these goals to master a new kind of life.”By Tim Gustafson 

Amid the injustices of life, may we have the courage, faith, and strength to turn the other cheek.

It takes true strength to refuse to retaliate. 
(Ed: It takes supernatural strength from the Spirit!)

Ending Escalation

I tell you not to resist an evil person. But whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. —Matthew 5:39

The pastor of an inner-city church told his congregation: “Some people believe in ‘an eye for an eye.’ But in this neighborhood, it’s two eyes for an eye. You can never even the score; you can only raise the stakes.” The people nodded in solemn understanding of the reality they faced each day.

We’ve seen it happen on a school playground or in our own homes—a child bumps into another during a game. The one who was bumped pushes back, and the shoving quickly grows into a fight. It’s the process of retaliation and escalation in which each act of revenge exceeds the one that provoked it.

In Matthew 5, Jesus tackled a number of key relational issues by raising the standard to the one that pleases God: “You have heard that it was said . . . . But I tell you . . .” (vv.38-39). His words about turning the other cheek, going the second mile, and giving to those who ask may sound as radical and unrealistic to us as they did to those who first heard them (vv.38-42). Are we willing to ponder and pray about His teaching? Are we ready to apply it when we are wronged at home, at work, or at school? 

The cycle of escalation can be broken when a courageous, faith-filled person refuses to strike back.By David C. McCasland

Lord, help me not retaliate
When someone wants to pick a fight;
Instead, give me the strength and faith
To show Your love and do what’s right. 

Luke 6:30  "Give to everyone who asks of you, and whoever takes away what is yours, do not demand it back

KJV Give to every man that asketh of thee; and of him that taketh away thy goods ask them not again.

  • Give Lk 6:38; 11:41; 12:33; 18:22; Deuteronomy 15:7-10; Psalms 41:1; 112:9; Proverbs 3:27,28; Proverbs 11:24,25; 19:17; 21:26; 22:9; Ezekiel 11:1,2; Isaiah 58:7-10; Ecclesiastes 8:16; Matthew 5:42-48; Acts 20:35; 2 Corinthians 8:9; 9:6-14; Ephesians 4:28
  • and Exodus 22:26,27; Nehemiah 5:1-19; Matthew 6:12; 18:27-30,35
  • Luke 6 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries
  • Luke 6:29-30 The Actions of Kingdom Love - John MacArthur

Give is present imperative emphasizing the necessity for the subject to depend wholly on the Holy Spirit to carry out this action!

NET Note - Jesus advocates a generosity and a desire to meet those in dire need with the command give to everyone who asks you. This may allude to begging; giving alms was viewed highly in the ancient world (Matt 6:1–4; Deut 15:7–11).

NET Note on do not demand it back - Do not ask for your possessions back … is an example of showing forgiveness. Paul’s remarks in 1 Cor 6:7 may reflect this principle.

IVP Background Commentary - Here Jesus may allude to beggars, quite common in the ancient East, and poorer people seeking loans. In Jewish Palestine beggars were usually only those in genuine need, and most were unable to work; farmers generally sought loans to plant crops. Jewish society emphasized both charity and responsibility.

Luke 6:31  "Treat others the same way you want them to treat you

KJV And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise.

Parallel passage - Mt 7:12 “In everything, therefore, treat people the same way you want them to treat you, for this is the Law and the Prophets.


Treat is present imperative emphasizing the necessity for the subject to depend wholly on the Holy Spirit to carry out this action!

Henry Morris - This is the so-called Golden Rule of conduct. It is not meant to be a prerequisite for salvation, for no person ever obeys this rule perfectly, any more than he keeps the Ten Commandments perfectly, which it summarizes and applies. It was only spoken to believers, already presumed to be saved by faith and given as a standard by which they should seek to order their personal lives. Love for God and love for one's neighbor also summarize all "the law and the prophets" (Matthew 22:36-40; Romans 13:8-10).

W A Criswell - This verse, commonly called "the Golden Rule" or the principle of reciprocity, sums up all the moral and ethical requirements of men who live in society as kingdom citizens. The law of Jesus demands a standard of conduct that surpasses what is normally expected, because it is addressed to those who possess a fullness of life, which is the gift of God's Spirit.

NET Note - Jesus’ teaching as reflected in the phrase treat others in the same way you would want them to treat you, known generally as the Golden Rule, is not completely unique in the ancient world, but it is stated here in its most emphatic, selfless form.

IVP Background Commentary - In its negative form (“Do not do to others what you do not want them to do to you”), this was a common ethical saying in the ancient world. 


Luke 6:32  "If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them.

KJV For if ye love them which love you, what thank have ye? for sinners also love those that love them.

If - This is a first class condition (assumes it is fulfilled - we usually love those who love us), but the next two conditional clauses (Lk 6:33, 34) are third class conditions

Love (25) (agapao) essentially calls us to love like God loves, and this is fruit that only the Spirit can bear (Gal 5:22-note, cf Ro 5:5-note)!

NET Note on love those who love them - Jesus’ point in the statement even sinners love those who love them is that disciples are to go farther than sinners do. The examples replay  Lk 6:29–30.

Credit (5485)(charis) is usually translated grace but in this section is translated three times as "credit" (Lk 6:32, 33, 34). In Mt 5:46 used "reward" (misthos) instead of credit.

In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus said

For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? “If you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? (Mt 5:46,47-note)

Sinners (268)(hamartolos from hamartáno = deviate, miss the mark which some lexicons say is from a = negative + meiromai = attain -- not to attain, not to arrive at the goal) is an adjective (e.g., "that through the commandment sin might become utterly sinful" - see Ro 7:13 -note) that is often used as a noun (as in this verse and Ro 5:19 [note]) to describe those who are continually erring from the way, constantly missing God's mark, living in opposition to His good and acceptable and perfect will.

IVP Background Commentary - Ideas like loving enemies and lending without hoping to receive again were unheard of, although many Pharisees advocated peace with the Roman state (at least, tolerating enemies in some sense). 

Luke 6:33  "If you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same.

NET Note on sinners - Here the term sinners may refer to people who had no concern for observing the details of the Mosaic law; these were often treated as social outcasts. (a person who customarily sins—‘sinner, outcast.’) 

Credit (5485)(charis) is usually translated grace but in this section is translated three times as "credit" (Lk 6:32, 33, 34). 

Sinners (268)(hamartolos - see note

Luke 6:34  "If you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners in order to receive back the same amount.

KJV  And if ye lend to them of whom ye hope to receive, what thank have ye? for sinners also lend to sinners, to receive as much again.

Expect (1679)(elpizo) in the sense of counting on something, with implication of confidence for it coming to pass. 

NET Note on to receive - In context the repayment of the amount lent is implied. Jesus was noting that utilitarian motives are the way of the world.

Credit (5485)(charis) is usually translated grace but in this section is translated three times as "credit" (Lk 6:32, 33, 34). 

Sinners (268)(hamartolos - see note

IVP Background Commentary - In the Roman world, interest rates sometimes ran as high as 48 percent, but the Old Testament forbade usury, or charging interest. Because many Jewish creditors feared that they would lose their investment if they lent too near the seventh year (when the law required cancellation of all debts), they stopped lending then, hurting the small farmers who needed to borrow for planting. Jewish teachers thus found a way to circumvent this law so the poor could borrow so long as they repaid. Jesus argues that this practice should not be necessary; those with resources should help those without, whether or not they would lose money by doing so. Biblical laws about lending to the poor before the year of release (Deut 15:9; every seventh year debts were forgiven; cf. Lev 25) support Jesus’ principle here, but Jesus goes even farther in emphasizing unselfish giving. Although the law limited selfishness, Jesus looks to the heart of the law and advocates sacrifice for one’s neighbor. A good man’s “sons” were expected to exemplify their father’s character; thus God’s children should act like him.

Luke 6:35  "But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men.

KJV Luke 6:35 But love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the children of the Highest: for he is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil.

  • love Lk 6:27-31; Leviticus 25:35-37; Psalms 37:26; 112:5; Proverbs 19:17; 22:9; Romans 5:8-10; 2 Corinthians 8:9
  • and ye Matthew 5:44,45; John 13:35; 15:8; 1 John 3:10-14; 4:7-11
  • for Ps 145:9; Acts 14:17
  • Luke 6 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries
  • Luke 6:31-38 The Content of Kingdom Love - John MacArthur

God’s children should bear the indelible stamp of His moral character. Since He is loving, gracious, and generous—even to those who are His enemies—we should be like Him.

Reward (wage) (3408)(misthos) literally refers to pay which is due for labor performed or dues paid for work. Misthos is used in two general senses in the NT, either to refer to wages or to reward, recognition or recompense. In this latter figurative usage, misthos refers to rewards which God bestows for the moral quality of an action, such rewards most often to be bestowed in eternity future. Luke uses misthos in Lk 6:23, 35, 10:7. 

You will be sons of the Most High - You will not "earn" sonship, but your supernatural actions reflect the fact that you have a supernatural Source of power (the indwelling Spirit) Who enables you to conduct yourself as a son of God. 

NET Note on you will be sons - The character of these actions reflects the grace and kindness of God, bearing witness to a “line of descent” or relationship of the individual to God (sons of the Most High). There is to be a unique kind of ethic at work with disciples. Jesus refers specifically to sons here because in the ancient world sons had special privileges which were rarely accorded to daughters. However, Jesus is most likely addressing both men and women in this context, so women too would receive these same privileges.

Most High - see study of El Elyon

For He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men - "For" is a term of explanation. Jesus is explaining why we are considered as sons -- it is because this is the way the Father treats ungrateful and evil men. We are to imitate Him

Therefore be (present imperative - be continually becoming) imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk (present imperative) in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma.  (Eph 5:1-2-note)

Evil (wicked, bad) (4190)(poneros from poneo = work or toil, Robertson says the idea is that labor is an annoyance, bad, evil; Noun poneria derived from poneros) means evil including evil, malignant character, pernicious (see Webster 1828 definition below), that which is morally or socially worthless, wicked, base, bad, degenerate. Poneros denotes determined, aggressive, and fervent evil that actively opposes what is good. Poneros is not just bad in character (like kakos - see below), but bad in effect (injurious)!

Principle of "Common Grace" - This teaches that God’s love extends even to His enemies. This universal love of God is manifest in blessings which God bestows on all indiscriminately. Theologians refer to this as common grace. This must be distinguished from the everlasting love God has for the elect (Jer 31:3), but it is a sincere goodwill nonetheless (cf. Ps 145:9). Common grace is evidence of the attribute of God's character known as His "GOODNESS". "Common grace"  is a term theologians have propounded to refer to the general blessings God gives to men regardless of their spiritual state. Many blessings come from God without discrimination. Here Jesus tells us that God is kind to the righteous and the unrighteous. The earth flies through space, the seasons change, the rivers flow, the fields give forth their produce -- all for the general benefit of the human race. The worst sinner may get the best suntan or may run barefoot through the falling rain. Although they do not know it or appreciate it, that are a recipient of common grace and have just experienced a snippet of God's great goodness to undeserving mankind. Let us all bow in humble adoration and praise Him for His goodness which we speak of so glibly and so quickly take for granted. Forgive us O Lord. Amen. 

Luke 6:36  "Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.

KJV  Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful.

Be merciful - present imperative calls for continual exhibition of mercy (especially to those who do not deserve it) which is turn is possible only with continual dependence on the Spriit!

Merciful is the adjective oiktirmon derived from the verb oikteiro  in turn from oiktos = compassion, pity = compassion or pity which in turn is said to be derived from the interjection oi = "Oh!"; see also study of cognate - oiktirmos) means to exercise pity or to have compassion on as one is moved or motivated by sympathy.

NET Note - Merciful is a characteristic of God often noted in the OT: Ex 34:6; Dt 4:31; Joel 2:31; Jonah 4:2; 2 Sa 24:14. This remark also echoes the more common OT statements like Lev 19:2 or Dt 18:13: “you must be holy as I am holy.”

Just as your Father - Obviously we can't show perfect mercy like Him, but we are to strive to imitate Him. 

IVP Background Commentary - That human mercy should reflect God’s mercy became a common Jewish saying (e.g., the Letter of Aristeas 208; rabbis). 

Luke 6:37  "Do not judge, and you will not be judged; and do not condemn, and you will not be condemned; pardon, and you will be pardoned.

KJV Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven:

  • Judge Isaiah 65:5; Matthew 7:1; Romans 2:1,2; 14:3,4,10-16; 1 Corinthians 4:3-5; James 4:11,12
  • forgive Lk 17:3,4; Matthew 5:7; 6:14,15; 18:35; Mark 11:25,26; 1 Corinthians 13:4-7; Ephesians 4:32; Colossians 3:13
  • Luke 6 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries
  • Luke 6:31-38 The Content of Kingdom Love - John MacArthur

This passage is often quoted by those who does not want to hear or abide by the authority of God's Word. (My children would frequently throw this in my face when I was "judgmental" of some bad behavior in which they were involved! "Don't Judge, dad. That's what the Bible says, isn't it?" Yes, but...) Jesus does not mean that we are never, in any sense or to any extent, to judge another. Notice Mt 7:1 is also in the context of Mt 7:5 which indicates that when one's own life is pure (not hypocritical) he or she should seek to take the speck out of their brother's eye, but doing so without being censorious. And we need to be especially careful when judging someone's motives for their actions. 

In John Jesus has commanded us to "judge (present imperative) with righteous judgment" (John 7:24). Note the qualifier "righteous!" Jesus forbids hypocrisy and a condemning spirit rising from self-righteousness.

Henry Morris adds "We should be able to recognize false teachers and "from such turn away" (2 Timothy 3:5; see also Matthew 7:15-20). Also, we should discern and rebuke these false brethren who are encouraging others to sin (Ephesians 5:7,11). In other words, we should be able to judge that which is wrong, in either doctrine or practice, and avoid (or correct) those who are involved, but we must not condemn them--God will do that."

W A Criswell says "This verse does not disallow the right of making moral and spiritual judgments (cf. Mt 7:6; 1 Cor. 2:15; 5:9; 2 Cor. 11:4; Phil. 3:2; 1 John 4:1) but forbids a bitter, hostile, and unkind spirit which delights in finding fault with others. Hypocritical self-righteousness has no place in the life of a Christian. The verse is particularly applicable to the area of motives. No one of us can know the heart of another, and thus to draw conclusions as to the "why" of people's actions, especially when those actions are indifferent or even good, is to invite God's judgment upon one's life."

Do not not condemn - present imperative with a negative - Stop doing this or don't begin doing this is the idea. 

Judge (2919)(krino is a root of English words like critic, critical [kritikos] = a decisive point at which judgment is made) primarily signifies to distinguish, to decide between (in the sense of considering two or more things and reaching a decision), to make up one's mind, to separate, to discriminate. to distinguish between good and evil, right and wrong, without necessarily passing an adverse sentence, although that is often what is usually involved. 

You will not be judged - You will not be judged according to the standard by which you judge others is the point. 

NET Note - As the Gospel makes clear, with the statement do not judge Jesus had in mind making a judgment that caused one to cut oneself off from someone so that they ceased to be reached out to (Lk 5:27–32; 15:1–32). Jesus himself did make judgments about where people stand (Lk 11:37–54), but not in such a way that he ceased to continue to offer them God’s grace. The point of the statement do not judge, and you will not be judged is that the standards one applies to others God applies back. The passive verbs in this verse look to God’s action.

Condemn (2613)(katadikazo from kata = + against + dikázō = to judge, pronounce sentence from díkē = judgment) means to give judgment against a person, recognize the evidence against him, pass sentence, condemn. According to Vine it fundamentally means “to exercise right or law against” someone, or “to pronounce judgment against."

Gilbrant adds that katadikazo describes "unjust judgment against someone, especially the innocent (e.g., James 5:6), hence “to deprive a man of justice” (Lamentations 3:36NIV]). In Luke 6:37 katadikazō is used in an absolute sense and could be translated “stop condemning”; such action is simply not tolerable for a disciple of Christ, because it is injurious to another. Instead, to be forgiving is to be Christlike. (Ibid)

Katadikazo - 5x in 4v - condemn(1), condemned(4).

Matthew 12:7  "But if you had known what this means, 'I DESIRE COMPASSION, AND NOT A SACRIFICE,' you would not have condemned the innocent.
Matthew 12:37  "For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned."
James 5:6  You have condemned and put to death the righteous man; he does not resist you.

Katadikazo - 5x in 5v in the Septuagint - Job 34:29; Ps. 37:33; Ps. 94:21; Ps. 109:7; Lam. 3:36;

IVP Background Commentary - “Judge,” “condemn” and “pardon” are all the language of the day of judgment, prefigured in God’s current reckonings with his people (e.g., on the Day of Atonement).

Pardon present imperative which is a command to make this our habitual response! Now just try to obey this one in your own (old self) strength! We cannot! The only way to obey this command is jettison reliance of self and rely wholly on the Holy Spirit's supernatural enabling power. In other words, the only ones who can obey this command as their lifestyle are genuine believers. But even believers still need to make the daily choice to die to self and selfishness and to rely on the Spirit's enabling power. How are you doing dearly beloved in Christ? Are you beginning to learn how to rely on the Spirit, daily seeking and trusting God for the Spirit's filling (Eph 5:18) so that you might then be able to obey the command to walk by the Spirit (Gal 5:16)?

The NET Bible has "forgive, and you will be forgiven." Luke 11:4-note is similar but there the verb is aphiemi (send away from) .

Pardon (release, send away) (630)(apoluo from apó = marker of dissociation, implying a rupture from a former association, separation + luo = loose) is used often of sending a person or a group away from someone (Mt 14:15, 22, 23, 32, etc). Apoluo was used in secular Greco-Roman writings of discharge from the military, of release from jail or of setting a debtor free. Sin is pictured as a debt so when someone sins aganst us, it is as if they owe us a debt. (cf Lk 11:4-note).

Uses of apoluo by Luke in the Gospel and Acts -

Lk. 2:29; Lk. 6:37; Lk. 8:38; Lk. 9:12; Lk. 13:12; Lk. 14:4; Lk. 16:18; Lk. 23:16; Lk. 23:17; Lk. 23:18; Lk. 23:20; Lk. 23:22; Lk. 23:25;  Acts 3:13; Acts 4:21; Acts 4:23; Acts 5:40; Acts 13:3; Acts 15:30; Acts 15:33; Acts 16:35; Acts 16:36; Acts 17:9; Acts 19:41; Acts 23:22; Acts 26:32; Acts 28:18; Acts 28:25

Luke 6:38  "Give, and it will be given to you. They will pour into your lap a good measure--pressed down, shaken together, and running over. For by your standard of measure it will be measured to you in return."

KJV Luke 6:38 Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.

  • and it Lk 6:30; Deuteronomy 15:10; Ezra 7:27,28; Job 31:16-20; 42:11; Proverbs 3:9,10; 10:22; Proverbs 19:17; 22:9; Ecclesiastes 11:1,2; Matthew 10:42; 2 Corinthians 8:14,15; 9:6-8; Philippians 4:17-19
  • bosom Ps 79:12
  • with Deuteronomy 19:16-21; Judges 1:7; Esther 7:10; 9:25; Psalms 18:25,26; 41:1,2; Matthew 7:2; Mark 4:24; James 2:13; Revelation 16:5,6
  • Luke 6 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries
  • Luke 6:31-38 The Content of Kingdom Love - John MacArthur


Henry Morris on it will be given to you - "He who gives to the poor shall never want" (Proverbs 28:27). "Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap" (Galatians 6:7). He that gives of himself or his possessions in the name of Christ is not giving, but sowing.

Lap (2436)(kolpos) The fold of a garment, formed as it falls from the chest over the girdle, used as a pocket. It was a fold of the robe pulled out above the girdle to form a pocket. The word kolpos is used this way in the Septuagint -  Ps 78:12; Is 65:6; Jer 39:18;  

Pressed down, shaken together, and running over - This image would be easy for Jesus' audience to comprehend as it picture a container of grain filled to the brim and running over the edge.

For by your standard of measure it will be measured to you in return." The implication is that if we desire an eternal reward that is running over, our current liberality should be "running over." As someone once told me, you can get a good "barometer" of an individual's spiritual walk from their use of a hymnbook and their withdrawals in their checkbook! How would you judge your spiritual maturity if you looked at your checkbook for the last six months?

NET Note on pressed down, etc - The background to the image pressed down, shaken together, running over is pouring out grain for measure in the marketplace. One often poured the grain into a container, shook it to level out the grain and then poured in some more. Those who are generous have generosity running over for them.

IVP Bible Background - The image here is of a measuring container into which as much grain as possible is packed; it is then shaken to allow the grain to settle, and more is poured in till the container overflows. Pouring it “into the lap” refers to the fold in the garment used as a pocket or pouch. Because Jewish people sometimes used “they” as a way of avoiding God’s name, here “they will pour” (NASB) may mean that God will do it; or the idea may be that God will repay a person through others. The Old Testament often speaks of God judging people according to their ways (e.g., Is 65:7). Proverbs and other texts speak of his blessings toward the generous (e.g., Deut 15:10; Prov 19:17; 22:9; 28:8).

Luke 6:39  And He also spoke a parable to them: "A blind man cannot guide a blind man, can he? Will they not both fall into a pit?

KJV Luke 6:39  And he spake a parable unto them, Can the blind lead the blind? shall they not both fall into the ditch?

Parable (symbol) (3850)(parabole from para = beside, near + ballo = throw, cast; English "parable") is literally a throwing beside or placing of one thing by the side of another (juxtaposition as of ships in battle in classic Greek). The metaphorical meaning is to place or lay something besides something else for the purpose of comparison. (Mt 24:32, Mk 13:28, Mk 3:23, Lk 14:7). An illustration (Mt 13:3). 

NET Note on blind man - The picture of a blind man leading a blind man is a warning to watch who one follows: Won’t they both fall into a pit? The sermon has been about religious choices and reacting graciously to those who oppose the followers of Jesus. Here Jesus’ point was to be careful who you follow and where they are taking you.

Can he? - Questions prefaced with meti in Greek (as is this question) anticipate an emphatic negative answer. 

IVP Background Commentary on like his teacher -  Others also used this proverbial image about the blind. The point here is that one must learn the right way (Lk 6:40) and receive correction before seeking to teach others (Lk 6:41).

Luke 6:40  "A pupil is not above his teacher; but everyone, after he has been fully trained, will be like his teacher.

KJV Luke 6:40 The disciple is not above his master: but every one that is perfect shall be as his master.

Fully trained (2675)(katartizo from katá = with + artízō = to adjust, fit, finish, in turn from ártios = fit, complete) means to fit or join together and so to mend or repair. The KJV rendering of "perfect" is a bit misleading. The idea of this verb is that the pupil is thoroughly prepared and equipped, to be  fully qualified or made fully adequate. 

Katartízō conveys the fundamental idea of putting something into its appropriate condition so it will function well. It conveys the idea of making whole by fitting together, to order and arrange properly. When applied to that which is weak and defective, it denotes setting right what has gone wrong, to restore to a former condition, whether mending broken nets or setting broken bones.

Henry Morris - A disciple is to learn from his teacher, so that when his training is complete, he will be just like his master. Our standard of excellence is the perfection of Christ Himself, and we should study and practice diligently in striving to attain that standard, knowing that we are predestined "to be conformed to the image" of our Master (Romans 8:29-note) when we finally see Him as He is (1 John 3:2-note). (Ed: In the meantime we are "works in process" and hopefully in "progress!")

Teacher (1320)(didaskalos from didasko = teach to shape will of one being taught by content of what is taught <> cp didaskalía) is one who provides instruction or systematically imparts truth. The teacher teaches in such a way as to shape will of one being taught by content of what is taught. Teachers build followers who go the same direction they do.

IVP Background Commentary on like his teacher -  Here Jesus uses hyperbole, and the exaggeration would probably draw laughter—and thus attention—from Jesus’ hearers.  In ancient Judaism, the purpose of a disciple’s training was to make him a competent teacher, or rabbi, in his own right. By definition, a disciple did not have more knowledge about the law than his teacher. 

Luke 6:41  "Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?

KJV Luke 6:41 And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but perceivest not the beam that is in thine own eye?

Speck -  a small piece of wood, chaff, or straw

Log - a big piece of wood, the main beam of a building, in contrast to the speck in the other’s eye

W A Criswell - A "speck" is a small splinter. The illustration is dramatically exaggerated and is typical of the humorous reproof that Jesus frequently uses (Lk 18:25; Matt. 23:24). Jesus was able to see humor in life, while simultaneously addressing serious subjects. Jesus requires honest self-evaluation and self-improvement as the prerequisite to helping one's fellow. Failure to do so is tantamount to hypocrisy.

IVP Background Commentary -  Here Jesus uses hyperbole, and the exaggeration would probably draw laughter—and thus attention—from Jesus’ hearers. 

Luke 6:42  "Or how can you say to your brother, 'Brother, let me take out the speck that is in your eye,' when you yourself do not see the log that is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take out the speck that is in your brother's eye.

KJV Luke 6:42 Either how canst thou say to thy brother, Brother, let me pull out the mote that is in thine eye, when thou thyself beholdest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, cast out first the beam out of thine own eye, and then shalt thou see clearly to pull out the mote that is in thy brother's eye.

  • hypocrite Lk 13:15; Matthew 23:13-15; Acts 8:21; 13:10
  • cast Lk 22:32; Ps 50:16-21; 51:9-13; Proverbs 18:17; Matthew 26:75; Acts 2:38; 9:9-20; Romans 2:1,21-29; 2 Corinthians 5:18; 1 Thessalonians 2:10-12; Philemon 1:10,11
  • Matthew 6:22,23; 2 Timothy 2:21; 2 Peter 1:9; Revelation 3:17,18
  • Luke 6 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries
  • ​​​​​​​Luke 6:39-45 The Danger of Following the Wrong Spiritual Teacher - John MacArthur

Hypocrite (5273)(hupokrites from from hupó = under, indicating secrecy + krino = to judge) describes one who acts pretentiously, a counterfeit, a man who assumes and speaks or acts under a feigned character. A hypocrite is someone who pretends to be something he or she is not.

Will Durant - The actor – who is always a male – is not disdained as in Rome, but is much honored; he is exempt from military service, and is allowed safe passage through the lines in time of war. He is called hypocrites, but this word means answerer – i.e., to the chorus; only later will the actor’s role as an impersonator lead to the use of the word as meaning hypocrite. (The Story of Civilization II, The Life of Greece, by Will Durant, page 380)

Luke 6:43  "For there is no good tree which produces bad fruit, nor, on the other hand, a bad tree which produces good fruit.

KJV For a good tree bringeth not forth corrupt fruit; neither doth a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.

For - term of explanation - "the point of the passage is that one should be self-corrective and be careful who one follows (Lk 6:41–42), because such choices also reflect what the nature of the tree is and its product." (NET Note)

Good (2570)(kalos) describes that which is inherently excellent or intrinsically good, providing some special or superior benefit. 

Bad (unwholesome) (4550)(sapros from sepo = cause to decay, to putrefy, to rot away, be corrupted) describes that which is rotten, putrefying, corrupt, disgusting, perishing, rank, foul, putrid, worthless (e.g., in Mt 7:17,18 = fruit, in Mt 13:48 = fish). In secular writings sapros was used to describe spoiled fish, rotten grapes on the ground, crumbling stones. The basic meaning relates to the process of decay. Sapros is used of things unusable, unfit, bad. It describes that which is harmful due to the fact that it is corrupt and corrupting or defiling.

Fruit (2590)(karpos) is used of literal fruit but is intended to convey a figurative sense describing the consequence of physical, mental, or spiritual action. In the NT the figurative (metaphorical) uses predominate and this is particularly true in the Gospels, where human actions and words are viewed as fruit growing out of a person's essential being or character.

Luke 6:44  "For each tree is known by its own fruit. For men do not gather figs from thorns, nor do they pick grapes from a briar bush.

KJV  For every tree is known by his own fruit. For of thorns men do not gather figs, nor of a bramble bush gather they grapes.

Fruit (2590karpos

NET Note - The principle of the passage is that one produces what one is.

NET Note on nor do they pick grapes from a briar bush - The statement nor are grapes picked from brambles illustrates the principle: That which cannot produce fruit, does not produce fruit.

Henry Morris - Here is an incidental confirmation of the ten-times-repeated "after his kind" of Genesis 1. In each kind of plant and animal is a genetic system that assures "his own fruit" and nothing else.

IVP Background Commentary - Figs and grapes were often cultivated together and were two of the most common agricultural products in Palestine, often linked in Old Testament texts. Thorns and thistles were always troublesome to farmers (cf., e.g., Gen 3:18; also Is 5:2, 4 LXX).

Luke 6:45  "The good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth what is good; and the evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth what is evil; for his mouth speaks from that which fills his heart.

KJV Luke 6:45  A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh.

  • good man Ps 37:30,31; 40:8-10; 71:15-18; Proverbs 10:20,21; 12:18; 15:23; 22:17,18; Matthew 12:35; John 7:38; Ephesians 4:29; 5:3,4,19; Colossians 4:6
  • treasure 2 Corinthians 4:6,7; Ephesians 3:8; Colossians 3:16; Hebrews 8:10
  • and an Ps 12:2-4; 41:6,7; 52:2-4; 59:7,12; 64:3-8; 140:5; Jeremiah 9:2-5; Acts 5:3; Acts 8:19-23; Romans 3:13,14; James 3:5-8; Jude 1:15
  • for Matthew 12:34-37
  • Luke 6 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries
  • ​​​​​​​Luke 6:39-45 The Danger of Following the Wrong Spiritual Teacher - John MacArthur

Heart (2588)(kardia)  does not refer to the physical organ but is always used figuratively in Scripture to refer to the seat and center of human life. The heart is the center of the personality, and it controls the intellect, emotions, and will. No outward obedience is of the slightest value unless the heart turns to God.

NET Note on heart - Mention of the heart shows that Jesus is not interested in what is done, but why. Motives are more important than actions for him.

NET Note on his mouth speaks from that which fills his heart - What one utters from one’s mouth is especially singled out as the example of this principle. James seems to have known this teaching (Jas 1:26; 3:1–12).

Luke 6:46  "Why do you call Me, 'Lord, Lord,' and do not do what I say

KJV Luke 6:46 And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?

NET Note on Lord Lord - The double use of the vocative is normally used in situations of high emotion or emphasis. Even an emphatic confession without action means little.

NET Note on Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and don’t do what I say -  Respect is not a matter of mere words, but is reflected in obedient action. This short saying, which is much simpler than its more developed conceptual parallel in Matt 7:21–23, serves in this form to simply warn and issue a call to hear and obey, as the last parable also does in Lk 6:47–49.

IVP Background Commentary - Jesus again uses the image of the day of judgment. The idea of ultimately being judged for hearing but not obeying was familiar (Ezek 33:32–33). But no Jewish teacher apart from Jesus claimed so much authority for his own words; such authority was reserved for the law itself.

Luke 6:47  "Everyone who comes to Me and hears My words and acts on them, I will show you whom he is like

KJV Luke 6:47  Whosoever cometh to me, and heareth my sayings, and doeth them, I will shew you to whom he is like:

  • cometh Lk 14:26; Isaiah 55:3; Matthew 11:28; John 5:40; 6:35,37,44,45; 1 Peter 2:4
  • heareth Matthew 7:24,25; 17:5; John 8:52; 9:27,28; 10:27
  • doeth Lk 8:8,13; 11:28; Matthew 11:29; 12:50; John 13:17; 14:15,21-24; 15:9-14; Romans 2:7-10; Hebrews 5:9; James 1:22-25; 4:17; 2 Peter 1:10; 1 John 2:29; 3:7; Revelation 22:14
  • Luke 6 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries
  • ​​​​​​​Luke 6:46-49 The Ultimate Religious Decision - John MacArthur


This is the same way Jesus closed the Sermon on the Mount...

“Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded on the rock. (Matthew 7:24,25)

James version is "But prove (present imperative) yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves." (James 1:22-note) The present imperative calls for doing of the word to be the habitual practice or lifestyle of his readers. James demands that doing be their continual practice. Believers are never to stop being doers of the Word! Keep on striving to be doers. The middle voice adds a reflexive sense ("you prove yourselves"). The verb is second person plural so that he is speaking not just to individuals.

In John's Gospel Jesus declared "Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life." John has "hears...believes" which parallels with Luke's "hears...acts", because genuine belief will act (or obey), not to merit salvation but because the person possesses salvation. The only way they can act or obey is by the enabling power of the Spirit Who indwells them. The corollary is that the one who hears and never obeys is not saved. See discussion of Obedience of faith and Relationship of faith and obedience.

We see this same spiritual dynamic in John 3

(John 3:36) “He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.”

Comment - It would be easy to misinterpret this passage and say (falsely) that John is teaching salvation by works (obedience), but that is not what he is saying. The key is in the context which clearly states that it belief in Jesus that results in eternal life. His point in the second clause is that the one who does not obey has never truly believed. 

Luke 6:48  he is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid a foundation on the rock; and when a flood occurred, the torrent burst against that house and could not shake it, because it had been well built

KJV Luke 6:48 He is like a man which built an house, and digged deep, and laid the foundation on a rock: and when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently upon that house, and could not shake it: for it was founded upon a rock.

  • and laid Proverbs 10:25; Isaiah 28:16; Matthew 7:25,26; 1 Corinthians 3:10-12; Ephesians 2:20; 2 Timothy 2:19
  • rock Deuteronomy 32:15,18,31; 1 Samuel 2:2; 2 Samuel 22:2,32,47; 23:3; Psalms 95:1; Isaiah 26:4; 1 Peter 2:4-6
  • the flood 2 Samuel 22:5; Psalms 32:6; 93:3,4; 125:1,2; Isaiah 59:19; Nahum 1:8; John 16:33; Acts 14:22; Romans 8:35-38; 1 Corinthians 3:13-15; 15:55-58; 2 Peter 3:10-14; 1 John 2:28; Revelation 6:14-17; 20:11-15
  • could 2 Peter 1:10; Jude 1:24
  • for Ps 46:1-3; 62:2
  • Luke 6 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries
  • ​​​​​​​Luke 6:46-49 The Ultimate Religious Decision - John MacArthur

NET Note on dug deep - There are actually two different Greek verbs used here: “who dug (ἔσκαψεν, eskapsen) and dug deep (ἐβάθυνεν, ebathunen).” Jesus is placing emphasis on the effort to which the man went to prepare his foundation.

NET Note on the torrent - The picture here is of a river overflowing its banks and causing flooding and chaos.

Luke 6:49  "But the one who has heard and has not acted accordingly, is like a man who built a house on the ground without any foundation; and the torrent burst against it and immediately it collapsed, and the ruin of that house was great."​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​

KJV Luke 6:49 But he that heareth, and doeth not, is like a man that without a foundation built an house upon the earth; against which the stream did beat vehemently, and immediately it fell; and the ruin of that house was great.

  • that heareth Lk 6:46; 8:5-7; 19:14,27; Jeremiah 44:16,17; Ezekiel 33:31; Matthew 21:29,30; 23:3; John 15:2; James 1:22-26; 2:17-26; 2 Peter 1:5-9; 1 John 2:3,4
  • against Matthew 13:20-22; 24:10; Acts 20:29; 26:11; 1 Thessalonians 3:5
  • immediately Proverbs 28:18; Hosea 4:14; Matthew 12:43-45; Mark 4:17; 1 John 2:19
  • the ruin 10:12-16; 11:24-26; 12:47; Hebrews 10:26-29; 2 Peter 2:20
  • Luke 6 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries
  • ​​​​​​​Luke 6:46-49 The Ultimate Religious Decision - John MacArthur

NET Note on the ruin of that house was great (NET = "was utterly destroyed!") - The extra phrase at the end of this description (and was utterly destroyed) portrays the great disappointment that the destruction of the house caused as it crashed and was swept away.

In Hebrews we see this principle of hearing but not heeding played out in the life of OT Israel....

And to whom did He swear that they would not enter His rest, but to those who were disobedient? So we see that they were not able to enter because of unbelief. (Heb 3:18,19-note)