Luke 6:20 MEANING

Luke 6:20
(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.

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.

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!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.

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