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Bible Commentaries

Bridgeway Bible Commentary

Luke 6

Verses 1-5

34. Picking corn on the Sabbath (Matthew 12:1-8; Mark 2:23-28; Luke 6:1-5)

When the Pharisees criticized Jesus’ disciples for picking a few pieces of corn to eat on the Sabbath, Jesus defended his disciples by referring to two examples from the Old Testament. First, when David and his men were very hungry and urgently needed food, they were rightly allowed to eat the holy bread of the tabernacle, which normally only priests were allowed to eat (Matthew 12:1-4; cf. 1 Samuel 21:1-6). Second, even the Levitical priests worked on the Sabbath, for they had to prepare and offer the sacrifices (Matthew 12:5; cf. Numbers 28:9-10).

These two examples show that in a case of necessity the legal requirement of the law may be overruled. Life is more important than ritual. To exercise mercy is more important than to offer sacrifices. Jesus is more important than the temple. People are more important than the Sabbath. The Sabbath was given for people’s benefit, not for their discomfort; and since Jesus is the messianic Son of man, he has authority to decide how the Sabbath can best be used (Matthew 12:6-8; Mark 2:27-28).

Verses 6-11

35. Man with a withered hand (Matthew 12:9-21; Mark 3:1-6; Luke 6:6-11)

If an animal fell into a pit on the Sabbath day, the Jews would not hesitate to rescue it the same day. Yet they criticized Jesus for healing a man on the Sabbath. Although no list of rules sets out all that a person should or should not do to keep the Sabbath holy, it is always right to do good on the Sabbath. To save life is better than to kill, and in this case Jesus was helping to save life. The Pharisees, by contrast, were looking for ways to kill him (Matthew 12:9-14; Mark 3:1-6).

Jesus left his critics and went on to his work elsewhere. Matthew saw this as a further stage in the fulfilment of the prophecy that God’s chosen servant, who had now appeared in the person of Jesus, would take the gospel to all people. This servant never tried to make a show of greatness, never hurt those who sorrowed, and never turned away from those of even the weakest faith (Matthew 12:15-21; cf. Isaiah 42:1-4).

Verses 12-19

36. Jesus chooses the twelve apostles (Matthew 9:35-4; Mark 3:7-19; Luke 6:12-19)

The more Jesus’ work grew, the more people came seeking him; and the more deeply saddened he became as he saw the confused and helpless spiritual condition of the Jewish people. There were plenty of opportunities for worthwhile work but there were few workers, and Jesus asked his followers to pray that God would supply the right workers to meet the need (Matthew 9:35-38; Mark 3:7-12).

So urgent was the need that Jesus decided to appoint twelve helpers immediately. He therefore spent the night in prayer and in the morning announced his choice. The twelve were to be known as apostles (from the Greek word apostello, meaning ‘to send’), as Jesus was to send them out in the service of the kingdom. To begin with he would keep them with him for their spiritual training, then he would send them out equipped with his messianic authority to heal those afflicted by Satan and urge people to enter the kingdom of God. The era of the Messiah had arrived. As twelve tribes had formed the basis of the old people of God, so twelve apostles would be the basis of the new (Matthew 10:1; Mark 3:13-15; Luke 6:12-13). The following list includes alternative names by which some of the apostles were known.

Simon Peter, or Cephas

Matthew 10:2;

John 1:42

Andrew, brother of Peter

Matthew 10:2;

John 1:40

James, son of Zebedee

Mark 3:17;

Luke 8:51

John, brother of James

Mark 3:17;

John 21:20


Matthew 10:3;

John 6:5

Bartholemew, or Nathanael

Matthew 10:3;

John 21:2

Thomas, the Twin (Didymus)

Matthew 10:3;

John 21:2

Matthew, or Levi

Matthew 10:3;

Luke 5:27

James, son of Alphaeus

Matthew 10:3;

Acts 1:13

Thaddaeus, or Lebbaeus, or

Judas the son of James

Matthew 10:3;

Luke 6:16

Simon the Zealot, the Patriot,

or the Cananaean

Matthew 10:4;

Luke 6:15

Judas Iscariot

Matthew 10:4;

Luke 22:48

Verses 20-26


When people enter Jesus’ kingdom they enter a new life. They come under the rule of Jesus and, as his disciples, listen to his teaching and put it into practice. Their behaviour is not governed by a set of rules such as the law of Moses, but by the character of Jesus, who wants to reproduce that character in them. The collection of Jesus’ teachings commonly known as the Sermon on the Mount deals with the attitudes, behaviour and responsibilities of those who have come under the lordship of Jesus Christ.

37. Citizens of the kingdom (Matthew 5:1-12; Luke 6:20-26)

The section opens with a series of short two-line statements commonly known as Beatitudes (from the Latin word for ‘blessed’). In present-day English ‘blessed’ is probably not as good a translation as ‘happy’ (GNB). Jesus is not making a formal declaration of divine favour, but announcing the true happiness of those who live according to the life of the kingdom. For example, those who humbly acknowledge that they need God’s help in everything will enjoy God’s kingdom, for it was made for such people. In that kingdom there is no room for those who are proudly self-sufficient (Matthew 5:1-3).

Those who sorrow because of the power of sin in the world will have their sorrow turned to joy when they see sin finally destroyed. God will remove the arrogant from the earth and give it as a dwelling place to the truly humble. The people who in the end will be fully satisfied are not those who selfishly pursue their own ambitions, but those who long to do what God wants and to see his will done in the world around them (Matthew 5:4-6).

When people realize the greatness of God’s mercy to them, they will be more merciful to others. In return they will receive yet more mercy from God. If, with a pure heart, they try to please God and not themselves, they will be fittingly rewarded with a vision of God himself (Matthew 5:7-8). God’s children reflect the true character of their Father when they help those who have quarrelled to become friends again. They prove themselves to be worthy citizens of God’s kingdom when they stand for him against wrongdoing, even though they may suffer as a result (Matthew 5:9-10). When persecuted for Christ’s sake they rejoice, knowing that they are thereby united with God’s true people of former days (Matthew 5:11-12).

In contrast to those who put God’s interests first, some people direct all their efforts towards making life better for themselves. They may have much success at accumulating wealth, building a comfortable life and gaining popularity, but that is all the success they will ever have. The future will bring them disappointment, sorrow and eternal loss (Luke 6:20-26).

Verses 37-42

43. Judging others (Matthew 7:1-6; Luke 6:37-42)

People who continually find fault with others only invite judgment upon themselves, both from their fellows and from God. In pointing to the faults in others, they attract attention to themselves. They too have faults, and though they themselves may be unaware of them, other people see them very clearly (Matthew 7:1-5).

Nevertheless, there is a kind of judgment that is necessary. Those who present the gospel must be able to judge the difference between people who genuinely want to know about God and people who only want to mock and abuse. A person does not give good meat to filthy dogs, nor does he give pearls to pigs (Matthew 7:6).

The followers of Jesus must learn to make proper judgments if they are to help others. As teachers they are examples, and God will reward them according to the example they give, whether for good or for bad. They must remember that they cannot lead the blind if they themselves are blind. In particular, they must not lead others astray by faultfinding (Luke 6:37-42).

Verses 43-49

45. The two ways (Matthew 7:13-29; Luke 6:43-49)

There are two ways of life. One is the easy way of pleasing self, which most choose and which leads to destruction. The other is the narrow way of denying self for Jesus’ sake, which leads to life (Matthew 7:13-14).

One reason why many do not follow the narrow way is that they are deceived by those who teach their own views on how people can find meaning in life. Their teaching at first sounds reasonable, but in the end it proves to be destructive. The teachers appear to be as harmless as sheep, but actually they are as dangerous as wolves. A bad tree produces bad fruit, and wrong teaching produces wrong behaviour (Matthew 7:15-20).

Another reason why people do not follow the narrow way is that they deceive themselves. They think that because they attach themselves to Jesus’ followers they will enter Jesus’ kingdom. They may even preach in Jesus’ name, but if they have never had a personal experience of God through faith and repentance, they too will go to the place of destruction (Matthew 7:21-23). If people hear Jesus’ teaching but do not act upon it, they are deceiving themselves and heading for disaster. They are like a person who builds a house that looks solid but has no foundation, and so is destroyed when the storm of testing comes (Matthew 7:24-27).

The difference between Jesus’ teaching and the teaching of the scribes was obvious to all. The scribes referred to respected teachers of the past for their authority, but Jesus spoke on his own authority. The scribes could only repeat the regulations of Judaism, but Jesus interpreted the law with an authority that came from God (Matthew 7:28-29).

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Bibliographical Information
Flemming, Donald C. "Commentary on Luke 6". "Fleming's Bridgeway Bible Commentary". 2005.