Luke 6:20
And he lifted up his eyes on his disciples, and said, Blessed be ye poor: for yours is the kingdom of God.
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(20) Blessed be ye poor . . .—See Notes on Matthew 5:1. The conclusion there arrived at—that the two discourses differ so widely, both in their substance and in their position in the Gospel narrative, that it is a less violent hypothesis to infer that they were spoken at different times than to assume that the two Evangelists inserted or omitted, as they thought fit, in reporting the same discourse—will be taken here as the basis of interpretation. It was quite after our Lord’s method of teaching that He should thus reproduce, with more or less variation, what He had taught before. The English, “Blessed be ye poor,” is ambiguous, as leaving it uncertain whether the words are the declaration of a fact or the utterance of a prayer. Better, Blessed are ye poor. We note at once the absence of the qualifying words of St. Matthew’s “poor in spirit.” Assume the identity of the two discourses, and then we have to think of St. Luke or his informant as omitting words, and those singularly important words, which our Lord had spoken; and this, it is obvious, presents a far greater difficulty than the thought that our Lord varied the aspects of the truths which He presented, now affirming the blessedness of the “poor in spirit,” now that of those who were literally “poor,” as having less to hinder them from the attainment of the higher poverty. See Notes on Matthew 5:3. It seems to have been St. Luke’s special aim to collect as much as he could of our Lord’s teaching as to the danger of riches. (See Introduction.)

Note the substitution of the “kingdom of God” for the “kingdom of heaven” in St. Matthew.



Luke 6:20 - Luke 6:31

Luke condenses and Matthew expands the Sermon on the Mount. The general outline is the same in both versions. The main body of both is a laying down the law for Christ’s disciples. Luke, however, characteristically omits what is prominent in Matthew, the polemic against Pharisaic righteousness, and the contrast between the moral teaching of Christ and that of the law. These were appropriate in a Gospel which set forth Jesus as the crown of earlier revelation, while Luke is true to the broad humanities of his Gospel, in setting forth rather the universal aspect of Christian duty, and gathering it all into the one precept of love.

The fragment which forms the present passage falls into two parts-the description of the subjects of the kingdom and their blessedness, contrasted with the character of the rebels; and the summing up of the law of the kingdom in the all-including commandment of love.

I. The subjects and blessedness of the kingdom, and the rebels.

It is to be well kept in view that the discourse is addressed to ‘His disciples.’ That fact remembered would have saved some critics from talking nonsense about the discrepancy between Luke and Matthew, and supposing that the former meant merely literal poverty, hunger, and tears. No doubt he omits the decisive words which appear in Matthew, who appends ‘in spirit’ to ‘poor,’ and ‘after righteousness’ to ‘hunger and thirst,’ but there is no ground for supposing that Luke meant anything else than Matthew.

Notice that in our passage the sayings are directly addressed to the disciples, while in Matthew they are cast into the form of general propositions. In that shape, the additions were needed to prevent misunderstanding of Christ, as if He were talking like a vulgar demagogue, flattering the poor, and inveighing against the rich. Matthew’s view of the force of the expressions is involved in Luke’s making them an address to the disciples., ‘Ye poor’ at once declares that our Lord is not thinking of the whole class of literally needy, but of such of these as He saw willing to learn of Him. No doubt, the bulk of them were poor men as regards the world’s goods, and knew the pinch of actual want, and had often had to weep. But their earthly poverty and misery had opened their hearts to receive Him, and that had transmuted the outward wants and sorrows into spiritual ones, as is evident from their being disciples; and these are the characteristics which He pronounces blessed. In this democratic and socialistic age, it is important to keep clearly in view the fact that Jesus was no flatterer of poor men as such, and did not think that circumstances had such power for good or evil, as that virtue and true blessedness were their prerogatives.

The foundation characteristic is poverty of spirit, the consciousness of one’s own weakness, the opposite of the delusion that we are ‘rich and increased with goods.’ All true subjection to the kingdom begins with that accurate, because lowly, estimate of ourselves. Humility is life, lofty mindedness is death. The heights are barren, rivers and fertility are down in the valleys.

Luke makes hunger the second characteristic, and weeping the third, while Matthew inverts that order. Either arrangement suggests important thoughts. Desire after the true riches naturally follows on consciousness of poverty, while, on the other hand, sorrow for one’s conscious lack of these may be regarded as preceding and producing longing. In fact, the three traits of character are contemporaneous, and imply each other. Outward condition comes into view, only in so far as it tends to the production of these spiritual characteristics, and has, in fact, produced them, as it had done, in some measure, in the disciples. The antithetical characteristics of the adversaries of the kingdom are, in like manner, mainly spiritual; and their riches, fullness, and laughter refer to circumstances only in so far as actual wealth, abundance, and mirth tend to hide from men their inward destitution, starvation, and misery.

But what paradoxes to praise all that flesh abhors, and to declare that it is better to be poor than rich, better to feel gnawing desire than to be satisfied, better to weep than to laugh! How little the so-called Christian world believes it! How dead against most men’s theory and practice Christ goes! These Beatitudes have a solemn warning for all, and if we really believed them, our lives would be revolutionised. The people who say, ‘Give me the Sermon on the Mount: I don’t care for your doctrines, but I can understand it,’ have not felt the grip of these Beatitudes.

Note that the blessings and woes are based on the future issues of the two states of mind. These are not wholly in the future life, for Jesus says, ‘Yours is the kingdom.’ That kingdom is a state of obedience to God, complete in that future world, but begun here. True poverty secures entrance thither, since it leads to submission of will and trust. True hunger is sure of satisfaction, since it leads to waiting on God, who ‘will fulfil the desire of them that fear Him.’ Sorrow which is according to God, cannot but bring us near Him who ‘will wipe away tears from off all faces.’

On the other hand, they who in condition are prosperous and satisfied with earth, and in disposition are devoid of suspicion of their own emptiness, and draw their joys and sorrows from this world alone, cannot but have a grim awaking waiting for them. Here they will often feel that earth’s goods are no solid food, and that nameless yearnings and sadness break in on their mirth; and in the dim world beyond, they will start to find their hands empty and their souls starving.

The fourth of Luke’s Beatitudes contrasts the treatment received from men by the subjects and the enemies of the kingdom. Better to be Christ’s martyr than the world’s favourite! Alas, how few Christians wear the armour of that great saying! They would not set so much store by popularity, nor be so afraid of being on the unpopular side, if they did.

II. The second part of the passage contains the summary of the laws of the kingdom from the lips of the King.

Its keynote is love. The precept follows strikingly on the predictions of excommunication and hatred. The only weapon to fight hate is love. ‘The hate of hate, the scorn of scorn,’ are not Christian dispositions, though Tennyson tells us that they are the poet’s. So much the worse for him if they are! First, the commandment, so impossible to us unless our hearts are made Christlike by much dwelling with Christ, is laid down in the plainest terms. Enmity should only stimulate love, as a gash in some tree bearing precious balsam makes the fragrant treasure flow. Who of us has conformed to that law which in three words sums up perfection? How few of us have even honestly tried to conform to it!

But the command becomes more stringent as it advances. The sentiment is worth much, but it must bear fruit in act. So the practical manifestations of it follow. Deeds of kindness, words of blessing, and highest of all, and the best help to fulfilling the other two, prayer, are to be our meek answers to evil. Why should Christians always let their enemies settle the terms of intercourse? They are not to be mere reverberating surfaces, giving back echoes of angry voices. Let us take the initiative, and if men scowl, let us meet them with open hearts and smiles. ‘A soft answer turneth away wrath.’ ‘It takes two to make a quarrel.’ Frost and snow bind the earth in chains, but the silent sunshine conquers at last, and evil can be overcome with good.

Our Lord goes on to speak of another form of love-namely, patient endurance of wrong and unreasonableness. He puts that in terms so strong that many readers are fain to pare down their significance. Non-resistance is commanded in the most uncompromising fashion, and illustrated in the cases of assault, robbery, and pertinacious mendicancy. The world stands stiffly on its rights; the Christian is not to bristle up in defence of his, but rather to suffer wrong and loss. This is regarded by many as an impossible ideal. But it is to be observed that the principle involved is that love has no limits but itself. There may be resistance to wrong, and refusal of a request, if love prompts to these. If it is better for the other man that a Christian should not let him have his way or his wish, and if the Christian, in resisting or refusing, is honestly actuated by love, then he is fulfilling the precept when he says ‘No’ to some petition, or when he resists robbery. We must live near Jesus Christ to know when such limitations of the precept come in, and to make sure of our motives.

The world and the Church would be revolutionised if even approximate obedience were rendered to this commandment. Let us not forget that it is a commandment, and cannot be put aside without disloyalty.

Christ then crystallises His whole teaching on the subject of our conduct to others into the immortal words which make our wishes for ourselves the standard of our duty to others, and so give every man an infallible guide. We are all disposed to claim more from others than we give to them. What a paradise earth would be if the two measuring-lines which we apply to their conduct and to our own were exactly of the same length!

Luke 6:20. And he lifted up his eyes on his disciples — The multitude that pressed to touch Jesus, in order to be healed, being at length rendered still and quiet, he turned to his disciples, and in their audience, and that of the multitude, repeated, standing on the plain, many remarkable passages of the sermon he had before delivered, sitting on the mount; which for the importance and variety of matter contained in it was, of all his sermons, the most proper to be remembered by the twelve disciples, now that they were constituted apostles, and appointed to preach. “The Evangelist Matthew, having recorded the former sermon in its place, judged it unnecessary to give this repetition of it here. But if the reader is of opinion that the two sermons are the same, because this in Luke comes immediately after the election of the twelve apostles, as that in Matthew comes after the calling of the four disciples, Simon, Andrew, James, and John, let him consider, in the first place, that the calling of the four disciples, which precedes the sermon in Matthew, is without doubt a fact entirely different from the election of the twelve apostles preceding the sermon in Luke, and happened long before it. Besides, the sermon in Luke was preached immediately after the election of the twelve, whereas a large tour through Galilee, which may have taken up some months, intervened between the calling of the four disciples and the sermon in Matthew. And to name no more differences, the sermon recorded by Matthew was delivered on a mountain, in a sitting, posture; whereas, when he pronounced this, which Luke speaks of, he was in a plain, or valley, where he could not sit because of the multitude which surrounded him, but stood with his disciples. But though there was not so much evident disagreement in the facts preceding these two sermons, the reader might easily have allowed that they were pronounced at different times, because he will find other instances of things really different, notwithstanding in their nature they may be alike, and were preceded, and also followed, by like events. For instance, the commission and instructions given to the seventy, were, in substance, the same with the commission and instructions given to the twelve, Matthew 10., and were introduced after the same manner: The harvest is plenteous, &c., Matthew 9:37. Yet from Luke himself it appears they were different, that evangelist having related the mission of the twelve as a distinct fact, Luke 9:1. So likewise the two miraculous dinners were not only like each other in their natures, but in their circumstances also, for they were introduced by the same discourses, and followed by like events; particularly at the conclusion of both, Jesus passed over the sea of Galilee. Nevertheless, both being found in the same evangelist, no reader can possibly think them the same.” — Macknight. Dr. Whitby and Dr. Doddridge view this subject in exactly the same light. “Hardly any thing,” says the latter, “that I have observed in the common harmonies surprises me more than that so many of them make this discourse to be the very sermon on the mount, recorded at large by Matthew. That was delivered by Christ sitting on a mountain, this standing in a plain; and, which weighs yet much more with me, there is such a difference in the expression, when the parallel passages come to be compared, that it seems evident the evangelists have not related it exactly, if they meant to give us the same. On the other hand, there appears not the least difficulty in supposing that Christ might here repeat a part of what he had delivered some months before to another auditory, and probably at some greater distance than just in the same neighbourhood. For it is plain from other instances, that this is nothing more than what he often had occasion to do. Compare Matthew 9:32-34 with Matthew 12:22; Matthew 12:24; and Matthew 16:21 with Matthew 17:23; and Matthew 20:17-19.” This, therefore, for the reasons above stated, being evidently a different sermon from that delivered on the mount, and preached to a different auditory, and on a different occasion; and there being here only four of the eight beatitudes mentioned in that sermon, and not one of these being expressed in the same words which are there used; it is not necessary that they should be understood in the same sense. The poor here may either mean the poor in spirit; the hungry, those that hunger after righteousness; and the mourners, those that sorrow after a godly manner to repentance, 2 Corinthians 7:9; or the condition added to the last clause, Luke 6:22, for the Son of man’s sake, may be understood as implied in all the clauses, and that those disciples of Christ only are pronounced blessed, who are exposed to, and patiently suffer, poverty, hunger, grief, or persecution for his sake, that they may obtain that kingdom, and that reward in heaven, which he hath promised to his faithful servants. Indeed our Lord’s words are only addressed to his disciples, Luke 6:20, he lifted up his eyes on his disciples, and said, Blessed, (or rather, happy, as μακαριοι means,) are ye poor, &c. — As to those who are not the true disciples of Christ, but are ignorant and wicked, or carnal and worldly, however poor, destitute, afflicted, or reproached they may be in this world, they are not happy, but miserable, and in the way to be miserable for ever. We must therefore say, in explanation of this passage, the poor are happy if they be enriched with divine knowledge and grace; for they are entitled to the kingdom of God in all its transcendent and eternal glories. They that hunger now, and are destitute of all the comfortable accommodations of life, are happy if they feel that nobler appetite, by which the pious soul longs after improvements in holiness: for the time is near when they shall be filled with what they long for, and shall be made partakers of the most substantial and valuable blessings. Happy are they who now weep and mourn under a sense of sin, or under that wholesome discipline of affliction, by which God reduces his wandering children, and trains them up to superior virtue; for all their sorrow shall pass away like a dream, and they shall ere long laugh and rejoice in a complete deliverance from it. They whom men hate, separate from their company, and reproach, &c., for the Son of man’s sake, are happy, for that glorious and powerful and gracious Person, on whose account they are thus treated, is abundantly able, and as willing as able, amply to recompense them for all they suffer for his sake. And therefore far from being dismayed and overwhelmed with trouble and distress, at such abuses and assaults, they ought to rejoice and leap for joy, fully assured that their reward in heaven will be in proportion to their sufferings on earth. Besides, such persecuted followers of Christ may comfort themselves with this consideration, that the servants of God, in all ages, have been treated in a similar manner.

6:20-26 Here begins a discourse of Christ, most of which is also found in Mt 5; 7. But some think that this was preached at another time and place. All believers that take the precepts of the gospel to themselves, and live by them, may take the promises of the gospel to themselves, and live upon them. Woes are denounced against prosperous sinners as miserable people, though the world envies them. Those are blessed indeed whom Christ blesses, but those must be dreadfully miserable who fall under his woe and curse! What a vast advantage will the saint have over the sinner in the other world! and what a wide difference will there be in their rewards, how much soever the sinner may prosper, and the saint be afflicted here!See this passage fully illustrated in the sermon on the mount, in Matthew 5-7.20, 21. In the Sermon on the Mount the benediction is pronounced upon the "poor in spirit" and those who "hunger and thirst after righteousness" (Mt 5:3, 6). Here it is simply on the "poor" and the "hungry now." In this form of the discourse, then, our Lord seems to have had in view "the poor of this world, rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which God hath promised to them that love Him," as these very beatitudes are paraphrased by James (Jas 2:5).Ver. 20-23. There are many that think that what Luke hath in these verses, and so to the end of this chapter, is but a shorter epitome of what Matthew hath in his 5th, 6th, and 7th chapters, and that both Matthew and Luke mean the same sermon preached at the same time. The things which favour this opinion are,

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

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

I can hardly be of that mind:

1. Because of the phrase here used,

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

2. The multitude described there are said to have come

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1. Separating the disciples.

2. Casting out their names as evil.

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

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

And he lifted up his eyes on his disciples,.... Either the whole company of them, or rather the twelve apostles, whom he saw coming to him, and fixing his eyes on them, he sat,

and said; what follows, with many other things recorded by Matthew:

blessed be ye poor; not only in the things of this world, having left all for Christ, but poor in Spirit, as in Matthew 5:3; see Gill on Matthew 5:3,

for yours is the kingdom of God; or heaven, so in Matthew 5:3.

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

(4) Christ teaches against all philosophers, and especially the Epicureans, that the greatest happiness of man is laid up in no place here on earth, but in heaven, and that persecution for righteousness' sake is the right way to achieve it.

Luke 6:20-21. Καὶ αὐτός] And He, on His part, as contrasted with this multitude of people seeking His word and His healing power. Comp. Luke 5:1; Luke 5:16.

εἰς τοὺς μαθητ. αὐτοῦ] in the wider sense, quite as in Matthew 5:2; for see Luke 6:13; Luke 6:17. As in Matthew, so here also the discourse is delivered first of all for the circle of the disciples, but in presence of the people, and, moreover, for the people (Luke 7:1). The lifting up of His eyes on the disciples is the solemn opening movement, to which in Matthew corresponds the opening of His mouth.

μακάριοι κ.τ.λ.] Luke has only four beatitudes, and omits (just as Matthew does in the case of πενθοῦντες) all indication, not merely that κλαίοντες, but also that πτωχοί and πεινῶντες should be taken ethically, so that according to Luke Jesus has in view the poor and suffering earthly position of His disciples and followers, and promises to them compensation for it in the Messiah’s kingdom. The fourfold woe, then, in Luke 6:24 ff. has to do with those who are rich and prosperous on earth (analogous to the teaching in the narrative of the rich man and Lazarus); comp. Luke 1:53. Certainly Luke has the later form of the tradition, which of necessity took its rise in consequence of the affliction of the persecuted Christians as contrasted with the rich, satisfied, laughing, belauded υἱοῖς τοῦ αἰῶνος τούτου; comp. the analogous passages in the Epistle of Jam 2:5; Jam 5:1 ff; Jam 4:9. This also is especially true of the denunciations of woe, which were still unknown to the first evangelist. Comp. Weiss in the Jahrb. f. d. Theol. 1864, p. 58 f. (in opposition to Holtzmann). That they were omitted in Matthew from motives of forbearance (Schenkel) is an arbitrary assumption, quite opposed to the spirit of the apostolic church; just as much as the notion that the poverty, etc., pronounced blessed in Matthew, should be interpreted spiritually. The late date of Luke’s composition, and the greater originality in general which is to be attributed to the discourse in Matthew, taken as it is from the Logia,[104] which formed the basis in an especial manner of this latter Gospel, make the reverse view less probable, that (so also Ewald, p. 211; comp. Wittichen in the Jahrb. f. d. Theol. 1862, p. 323) the general expressions, as Luke has them, became more specific at a later date, as may be seen in Matthew, by reason of possible and partly of actually occurring misunderstanding. Moreover, the difference in itself is not to be got rid of (Tholuck says that the outer misery awakens the inner; Olshausen, that τ. πνεύματι, must in Luke be supplied!); probably, however, it is to be conceded that Jesus assumes as existing the ethical condition of the promise in the case of His afflicted people (according to Luke’s representation) as in His believing and future members of the kingdom; hence the variation is no contradiction. The Ebionitic spirit is foreign to the Pauline Luke (in opposition to Strauss, I. p. 603 f.; Schwegler, and others).

ὑμετέρα] “Applicatio solatii individualis; congruit attollens, nam radii oculorum indigitant,” Bengel.

χορτασθ. and ΓΕΛΆΣ.] corresponding representations of the Messianic blessedness.

[104] For the Logia, not a primitive Mark (Holtzmann), was the original source of the discourse. The form of it given by Luke is derived by Weizsäcker, p. 148, from the collection of discourses of the great intercalation (see on Luke 9:51), from which the evangelist transplanted it into the earlier period of the foundation of the church. But for the hypothesis of such a disruption of the great whole of the source of this intercalation, Luke 9:51 ff., there is no trace of proof elsewhere. Moreover, Weizsäcker aptly shows the secondary character of this discourse in Luke, both in itself and in comparison with Matthew.

Luke 6:20-49. The Sermon (Matthew 5-7). That it is the same sermon as Mt. reports in chapters 5–7 may be regarded as beyond discussion. How, while the same, they came to be so different, is a question not quite easy to answer. There probably was addition to the original utterance in the case of Mt., and there was almost certainly selection involving omission in the case of Lk.’s version, either on his part or on the part of those who prepared the text he used. Retouching of expression in the parts common to both reports is, of course, also very conceivable. As it stands in Lk. the great utterance has much more the character of a popular discourse than the more lengthy, elaborate version of Mt. In Mt. it is didache, in Lk. kerygma—a discourse delivered to a great congregation gathered for the purpose, with the Apostles and disciples in the front benches so to speak, a discourse exemplifying the “words of grace” (Luke 4:22) Jesus was wont to speak, the controversial antithesis (Matthew 5:17-48) eliminated, and only the evangelic passages retained; a sermon serving at once as a model for “Apostles” and as a gospel for the million.

20. Blessed be ye poor] Rather, Blessed are the poor. The makarioi is a Hebrew expression (ashri), Psalm 1:1. St Matthew adds “in spirit” (comp. Isaiah 66:2, “To this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word”). But

(1) St Luke gives the address of Christ to the poor whose very presence shewed that they were His poor and had come to seek Him; and

(2) the Evangelist seems to have been impressed with the blessings of a faithful and humble poverty in itself (comp. James 2:5; 1 Corinthians 1:26-29), and loves to record those parts of our Lord’s teaching which were especially ‘the Gospel to the poor’ (see Luke 1:53, Luke 2:7, Luke 6:20, Luke 12:15-34, Luke 16:9-25). See Introd. p. 27.

“Come ye who find contentment’s very core

In the light store

And daisied path Of poverty,

And know how more

A small thing that the righteous hath

Availeth, than the ungodly’s riches great.”

Cov. Patmore.

“This is indeed an admirably sweet friendly beginning...for He does not begin like Moses...with command and threatening, but in the friendliest possible way with free, enticing, alluring and amiable promises.” Luther.

for yours is the kingdom of God] St Matthew uses the expression “the kingdom of the heavens.” The main differences between St Matthew’s and St Luke’s record of the Sermon on the Mount are explained by the different objects and readers of these Gospels; but in both it is the Inaugural Discourse of the Kingdom of Heaven.

(i) St Matthew writes for the Jews, and much that he records has special bearing on the Levitic Law (Luke 5:17-38), which St Luke naturally omits as less intelligible to Gentiles. Other parts here omitted are recorded by St Luke later on (Luke 11:9-13; Matthew 7:7-11).

(ii) St Matthew, presenting Christ as Lawgiver and King, gives the Sermon more in the form of a Code. Kurn Hattin is for him the new and more blessed Sinai; St Luke gives it more in the form of a direct homily (‘yours,’ &c., not ‘theirs,’ Luke 6:20; Matthew 5:3; and compare Luke 6:46-47 with Matthew 7:21; Matthew 7:24).

(iii) Much of the Sermon in St Matthew is occupied with the contrast between the false righteousness—the pretentious orthodoxy and self-satisfied ceremonialism—of the Pharisees, and the true righteousness of the Kingdom which is mercy and love. Hence much of his report is occupied with Spirituality as the stamp of true religion, in opposition to formalism, while St Luke deals with Love in the abstract.

(iv) Thus in St Matthew we see mainly the Law of Love as the contrast between the new and the old; in St Luke the Law of Love as the central and fundamental idea of the new.

For a sketch of the Sermon on the Mount, mainly in St Matthew, I may refer to my Life of Christ, i. 259-264. The arrangement of the section in St Luke is not obvious. Some see in it the doctrine of happiness; the doctrine of justice; the doctrine of wisdom; or (1) the salutation of love (Luke 6:20-26); the precepts of love (Luke 6:27-38); the impulsion of love (Luke 6:39-49). These divisions are arbitrary. Godet more successfully arranges it thus: (1) The members of the new society (Luke 6:20-26; Matthew 5:1-12); (2) The fundamental principle of the new society (Luke 6:27-45; Matthew 5:13 to Mat 7:12); (3) The judgment of God on which it rests (Luke 6:46-49; Matthew 7:13-27):—in other words (1) the appeal; (2) the principles; (3) the sanction.

20-26. Beatitudes and Woes.

This section of St Luke, from Luke 6:20 to Luke 9:6, resembles in style the great Journey Section, Luke 9:51—18:34.

Luke 6:20. Αὐτὸς, Himself) In antithesis to the people, whose attention was directed to His miracles rather than to His word (or to Himself, the Word).—εἰς, on) among.—οἱ πτωχοὶ, the poor) These briefly-enunciated sentiments constitute משלים parables: the meaning of which is presented to us more fully in [Matthew 5:3, etc. Internal and external things often go together: for which reason the one is denominated of the other; for instance, poverty or riches [i.e. “the poor in spirit” are simply called here the poor, by a denomination taken from external poverty. So of “the rich”]: Luke 6:24.—ὑμετέρα, yours peculiarly) Herein is His application of consolation individually. The expression ἐπάρας (τοὺς ὀφθαλμοὺς), having lifted up (His eyes), corresponds: for the glances of His eyes point out individuals [have a demonstrative power.

Verses 20-49. - St. Luke's report of the discourse of our Lord commonly termed the sermon on the mount. We consider that the discourse contained in the following thirty verses (20-49) is identical with that longer "sermon on the mount" reported by St. Matthew (5.). Certain differences are alleged to exist in the framework of the two discourses. In St. Matthew the Lord is stated to have spoken it on the mountain; in St. Luke, in the plain. This apparent discrepancy has been already discussed (see above, on ver. 17). The "plain" of St. Luke was, no doubt, simply a level spot on the hillside, on the fiat space between the two peaks of the hill. The more important differences in the Master's utterances - of which, perhaps, one of the weightiest is the addition of St. Matthew to that first beatitude which explains what poor were blessed - the" poor in spirit " - probably arose from some questions put to the Master as he was teaching. In his reply he probably amplified or paraphrased the first utterance, which gave rise to the question; hence the occasional discrepancies in the two accounts. It is, too, most likely that many of the weightier utterances of the great sermon were several times reproduced in a longer or shorter form in the course of his teaching. Such repetitions would be likely to produce the differences we find in the two reports of the great sermon. The plan or scheme of the two Gospels was not the same. St. Luke, doubtless, had before him, when he compiled his work, copious notes or memoranda of the famous discourse. He evidently selected such small portions of it as fell in with his design. The two discourses reported by SS. Matthew and Luke have besides many striking resemblances - both beginning with the beatitudes, both concluding with the same simile or parable of the two buildings, both immediately succeeded by the same miracle, the healing of the centurion's servant. It is scarcely possible - when these points are taken into consideration - to suppose that the reports are of two distinct discourses. The theory held by some scholars, that the great sermon was delivered twice on the same day, on the hillside to a smaller and more selected auditory, then on the plain below to the multitude in a shorter form, is in the highest degree improbable. No portion of the public teaching of the Lord seems to have made so deep an impression as the mount-sermon. St. James, the so-called brother of Jesus, the first president of the Jerusalem Church, repeatedly quotes it in his Epistle. It was evidently the groundwork of his teaching in the first days. Barnabas, Clement of Rome, Ignatius, and Polycarp, the nameless author of the recently found 'Teaching of the Apostles,' whose writings represent to us most of the Christian literature which we possess of the first century after the death of St. Paul, quote it often. It may be taken, indeed, as the pattern discourse which mirrors better and mere fully than any other portion of the Gospels the Lord's teaching concerning the life he would have his followers lead. It is not easy to give a precis of such a report as that of St. Luke, necessarily brief, and yet containing, we feel, many of the words, and even sentences, in the very form in which the Lord spoke them. What we possess here is, perhaps, little more itself than a summary of the great original discourse to which the disciples and the people listened. Godet has attempted, and not unsuccessfully, to give a resume of the contents of St. Luke's memoir here. Still, it must be felt that any such work must necessarily be unsatisfactory. There appear to be three main divisions in the sermon:

(1) A description of the persons to Whom Jesus chiefly addressed himself (vers. 20-26).

(2) The proclamation of the fundamental principles of the new society (vers. 27-45).

(3) An announcement of the judgment to which the members of the new kingdom of God will have to submit (vers. 46-49). Verse 20. - Blessed be ye poor: for yours is the kingdom of God; better rendered, blessed are ye poor, etc. It is the exact equivalent of the well-known Hebrew expression with which the Psalms begin: אַשְׁרֵי הָאִישׁ, which should be rendered, "Oh the blessedness of the man," etc.! This was probably the exact form in which Jesus began the sermon: "Blessed are the poor." He was gazing on a vast congregation mostly made of the literally poor. Those Standing nearest to him belonged to the masses - the fishermen, the carpenters, and the like. The crowd was mainly composed of the trading and artisan class, and they, at least then, were friendly to him, heard him gladly, came out to him from their villages, their poor industries, their little farms, their boats. The comparatively few rich and powerful who were present that day in the listening multitude were for the most part enemies, jealous, angry men, spying emissaries of the Jerusalem Sanhedrin, men who hated rather than loved the words and works of the Galilaean Teacher. The literally poor, then, represented the friends of Jesus; the rich, his enemies. But we may conceive of some like Nicodemus, Joseph of Arimathaea, Gamaliel, or the wealthy patrician centurion, in that listening crowd, gently asking the Teacher as he taught, "Are only the poor, then, to be reckoned among thy blessed ones?" Some such question, we think, elicited the qualifying words of Matthew, "Blessed are the poor in spirit,' with some such underlying thought as, "Alas! this is not very often the character of the rich." It certainly was not while the Lord worked among men. While, then, the blessedness he spoke of belonged not to the poor because they were poor, yet it seemed to belong to them especially as a class, because they welcomed the Master and tried to share his life, while the rich and powerful as a class did not. It runs indisputably all through the teaching of Paul and Luke, this tender love for the poor and despised of this world; full of warnings are their writings against the perils and dangers of riches. The awful parable of the rich man and Lazarus gathers up, in the story form best understood by Oriental peoples, that truth of which these great servants of the Redeemer were so intensely conscious, that the poor stand better than the rich for the kingdom of God. The kingdom of God. Not here, not now. Just a few drops from the river of joy which flows through that kingdom will sprinkle the life of his blessed ones while they live and struggle to do his will on earth; but the kingdom of God, in its full glorious signification, will be only enjoyed hereafter. It is an expression which includes citizenship in his city, a home among the mansions of the blessed, a place in the society of heaven, the enjoyment of the sight of God - the beatific vision. Luke 6:20Lifted up his eyes

Peculiar to Luke. Compare he opened his mouth (Matthew 5:1). Both indicate a solemn and impressive opening of a discourse.


See on Matthew 5:3.

Ye poor

See on Matthew 5:3. Luke adopts the style of direct address; Matthew of abstract statement.

Kingdom of God (ἡ βασιλεία τοῦ θεοῦ)

Matthew has kingdom of heaven, or of the heavens (τῶν οὐρανῶν), a phrase used by him only, and most frequently employed by Christ himself to describe the kingdom; though Matthew also uses, less frequently, kingdom of God. The two are substantially equivalent terms, though the pre-eminent title was kingdom of God, since it was expected to be fully realized in the Messianic era, when God should take upon himself the kingdom by a visible representative. Compare Isaiah 40:9, "Behold your God." The phrase kingdom of Heaven was common in the Rabbinical writings, and had a double signification: the historical kingdom and the spiritual and moral kingdom. They very often understood by it divine worship ; adoration of God; the sum of religious duties; but also the Messianic kingdom.

The kingdom of God is, essentially, the absolute dominion of God in the universe, both in a physical and a spiritual sense. It is "an organic commonwealth which has the principle of its existence in the will of God" (Tholuck). It was foreshadowed in the Jewish theocracy. The idea of the kingdom advanced toward clearer definition from Jacob's prophecy of the Prince out of Judah (Genesis 49:10), through David's prophecy of the everlasting kingdom and the king of righteousness and peace (Psalm 22, 72), through Isaiah, until, in Daniel, its eternity and superiority over the kingdoms of the world are brought strongly out. For this kingdom Israel looked with longing, expecting its realization in the Messiah; and while the common idea of the people was narrow, sectarian, Jewish, and political, yet "there was among the people a certain consciousness that the principle itself was of universal application" (Tholuck). In Daniel this conception is distinctly expressed (Daniel 7:14-27; Daniel 4:25; Daniel 2:44). In this sense it was apprehended by John the Baptist.

The ideal kingdom is to be realized in the absolute rule of the eternal Son, Jesus Christ, by whom all things are made and consist (John 1:3; Colossians 1:16-20), whose life of perfect obedience to God and whose sacrificial offering of love upon the cross reveal to men their true relation to God, and whose spirit works to bring them into this relation. The ultimate idea of the kingdom is that of "a redeemed humanity, with its divinely revealed destiny manifesting itself in a religious communion, or the Church; a social communion, or the state; and an aesthetic communion, expressing itself in forms of knowledge and art."

This kingdom is both present (Matthew 11:12; Matthew 12:28; Matthew 16:19; Luke 11:20; Luke 16:16; Luke 17:21; see, also, the parables of the Sower, the Tares, the Leaven, and the Drag-net; and compare the expression "theirs, or yours, is the kingdom," Matthew 5:3; Luke 6:20) and future (Daniel 7:27; Matthew 13:43; Matthew 19:28; Matthew 25:34; Matthew 26:29; Mark 9:47; 2 Peter 1:11; 1 Corinthians 6:9; Revelation 20:1-15 sq.). As a present kingdom it is incomplete and in process of development. It is expanding in society like the grain of mustard seed (Matthew 13:31, Matthew 13:32); working toward the pervasion of society like the leaven in the lump (Matthew 13:33). God is in Christ reconciling the world unto himself, and the Gospel of Christ is the great instrument in that process (2 Corinthians 5:19, 2 Corinthians 5:20). The kingdom develops from within outward under the power of its essential divine energy and law of growth, which insures its progress and final triumph against all obstacles. Similarly, its work in reconciling and subjecting the world to God begins at the fountain-head of man's life, by implanting in his heart its own divine potency, and thus giving a divine impulse and direction to the whole man, rather than by moulding him from without by a moral code. The law is written in his heart. In like manner the State and the Church are shaped, not by external pressure, like the Roman empire and the Roxnish hierarchy, but by the evolution of holy character in men. The kingdom of God in its present development is not identical with the Church. It is a larger movement which includes the Church. The Church is identified with the kingdom to the degree in which it is under the power of the spirit of Christ. "As the Old Testament kingdom of God was perfected and completed when it ceased to be external, and became internal by being enthroned in the heart, so, on the other hand, the perfection of the New Testament kingdom will consist in its complete incarnation and externalization; that is, when it shall attain an outward manifestation, adequately expressing, exactly corresponding to its internal principle" (Tholuck). The consummation is described in Revelation 21, 22.

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