Luke 6:27-38


Luke 6:27  "But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you,

BUT - A strong adversative conjunction. In the verses previous to this text Jesus had been addressing the unregenerate. In verses 27-28 He returns to the regenerate.

I TELL YOU - Denotes the divine authority of the God-man.

Notice the tense of the verbs and participles in verses 27 to 30, present tense, continuous, and constant action, both on the part of the hearer and the enemy.

LOVE - Means  "be constantly living."  The word agape in Greek and its cognates is always a love of the will, of deliberate purpose. The word fileo  means the love of affection, a spontaneous love. Friends love each other spontaneously. Most married people do the same. But agape steps in where fileo fails. Scripture never tell us to fileo one another. But it does constantly speak of agape.

ENEMY - This is a personal, not a political or national enemy. This verse cannot be used by conscientious objectors who refuse to go to war because the Lord says:  "Love your enemies."  The text is speaking of the kingdom of grace, not the kingdom of power.

LOVE YOUR ENEMIES - This is basic to all that follows. The next three clauses in verses 27-28 expand on this first injunction. Note the grade of intensity regarding of both parties in verses 27 and 28: the more intense the hatred becomes the more intense the love should become.

The second clause reads literally:  "Be constantly doing good to those who are constantly hating you."

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

At this point look at Romans 12:14; 1 Corinthians 4:12; Luke 23:34; Acts 7:59-60.

The first clause reads:  "Constantly be blessing the ones who are constantly cursing you."  This reminds us of Jesus on the cross or of Stephen just before he was stoned to death.

The second clause reads:  "Constantly pray for those who are insulting you."  This requires the love of the will, of deliberate purpose, the attitude of the regenerate man. What we are told to do is very foreign to the flesh, the old Adam. We think of Romans 12:21:  "Do not be conquered by the evil but do conquer evil by means of the good."

Luke 6:29 If someone strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also. If someone takes your cloak, do not stop him from taking your tunic.

In this verse Jesus is saying:  "Do not be vengeful but do be yielding."  Jesus is not merely suggesting mechanical actions but rather a basic attitude.

IF - The first means  "the one."  The second means  "the other."

That this is not meant merely literally is proved by the fact that when Jesus was slapped on the one cheek He did not literally turn the other, but He did turn the other cheek in the sense that He was not vengeful. He did not pay evil for evil.

In the second clause of this verse note that we have both the outer and under garment. At Matthew 5:40, the parallel to our verse, we read:  "If anyone wants to sue you and take away your tunic, let him have your cloak also."  Jesus is saying:  "Be willing to suffer loss rather than to go to court merely for the sake of a principle."  The unregenerate sue other people over the silliest, small matters, simply because they are angry and want to get even. No wonder Paul spoke as he did in 1 Corinthians 6:1-6. He is not saying that going to court is wrong in itself. There are times when Christians may have to go to court.

Luke 6:30 Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back.

Note again the tenses of the verbs and the participles. Jesus is speaking of a way of life, an attitude, a habit, not merely mechanical actions. Nor is He saying here that we should inflict voluntary poverty on ourselves and our family by giving away any and everything that people ask of us.

By the way, this verse does not specifically mention enemies or those who hate us. This verse denotes our attitude toward all. We should treat all others as we do ourselves. The verse is prohibiting self-gratifying stinginess.

The author once knew a man who painted a red band on the handle of all his tools because he had a neighbor who constantly borrowed tools and forgot to return them. He was justified in doing this. He was still generous.

Luke 6:31 Do to others as you would have them do to you.

This verse begins a new paragraph. This verse is practically a restatement of the thought in Leviticus 19:18; Romans 13:8-10.

The verse begins in Greek with  "and"  which means this is a summary. Look at Galatians 5:14.

Note that all verb forms are in the present tense, denoting constant action.

OTHERS - Any and all people of all ages.

Underlying this verse is the thought of agape, the love of the will, of deliberate purpose, the new man making the effort to do as God wants.

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

WHAT CREDIT - This phrase is used in three consecutive verses, 32,33,34. Some translate  "what thanks?"  or  "how should anyone be especially pleased with you?"  or  "Why should you receive a blessing?"

Wenzel: Luke has 'thanks,' as opposed to Matthew's 'reward', but it is probably better to take the word as 'favor from God.' God has promised to reward the works of a Christian as a Christian. If, however, his works are no better than those of a publican and sinner, why should God reward them, or grant special favors because of them? Our ancients take 'reward' in the sense of advantage. But the advantage of good works is that God is pleased with them and in His grace rewards them.
In any case reward enunciates the lack of difference from the unregenerate if the Christian does not love all men with the Spirit-given love of deliberate purpose.

The intended sense in the verse is  "if you are loving only those who love you."  Note that this is agape.

In the final sentence of verse 32 we read  "For to be sure the unregenerate are loving (only) those who are loving them(selves)."  Jesus is speaking of the unregenerate who do not love because of affection, but of deliberate purpose. This is most obviously a purely selfish love for selfish purposes.

Luke 6:33 And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even 'sinners' do that.

In verse 32 we have what is called a fact condition and in verses 33 and 34 we have present general conditions. Very likely the fact condition in verse 32 is to be understood like the conditions in verses 33 and 34. No difference between the two is apparent.

DO GOOD - The word here is a commentary on the meaning of agape in verse 32. Again, the intended sense is  "If you are doing good (only) to those who are doing good to you."  Again, as in verse 32, the word doing good denotes the unregenerate as opposed to the regenerate. Jesus is saying:  "If this is all you do, you are no better than the unregenerate."

The is starkest Law. The second use of the Law. We all have much to confess, some more, some less, but very likely every Christian who hears or reads these verses must admit that he or she is in need of forgiveness from Jesus.

Luke 6:34 And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even 'sinners' lend to 'sinners,' expecting to be repaid in full.

The verbs in verses 32-34 become more specific.  Agape is a general word, do good becomes more specific. And lend in verse 34 becomes even more specific. The intended sense is  "If you lend (only to those) from whom you expect to receive."  The unregenerate lend to the unregenerate only for selfish reasons. They expect to get the exact amount in return. This is not love. This is selfishness.

Jesus is saying in verses 32-34:  "Love is far more than self-gratification."  Ponder this thought. It is an all-pervasive principle which Christians ought practice whenever dealing with other people, be they spouse, member of a family, fellow Christian, friend, pagan, or even enemy as becomes apparent in the next verse.

Luke 6:35 But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked.

BUT - Some translate  "No."  Others  "instead."  It is meant to show the utter contrast between the regenerate and the unregenerate. Jesus summarizes by using the verbs already used in verses 32,33 and 34. We suggest that the five (Greek) buts in this verse mean respectively:  "Namely, for example, and thus, namely, as well as."

Here again we have  "reward"  as we did in the Gospel for Epiphany VI. It means  "reward of grace."  That it is eschatological, in the future, is proved by the verb.

SONS OF THE MOST HIGH - God's kindness and goodness extend to every detail of creation, preservation, and providence. God is kind to the ungracious and wicked in society. That's the way we should be. We should be like our Father in heaven.

This verse does not forbid lending money at interest. It is not speaking about the kingdom of power. Loan companies are not sinning against this verse unless they practice usury and sharp practices. Jesus is speaking about people in the kingdom of grace who are to be generous towards others, as God Himself is.

Luke 6:36 Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.

This is a new paragraph, and the next verse is a subparagraph. In verses 27 to 38 we find a number of distinct texts, and the preacher will not be able to treat all this material in one sermon.

BE - Constantly be.

MERCIFUL - Compassionate. It is the attitude of God Himself toward the needy, wretched, miserable, and undeserving among men. This verse might be considered the key verse to all of verses 27 through 38. The universal atonement underlies verses 35-36. Those who deny the universal atonement would ultimately have to deny what is said of God in these two verses. The universal atonement must constantly be in our thinking.

Luke 6:37  "Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.

There is an  "and"  at the beginning of this verse in Greek. It introduces a new thought. The kind of judging which Jesus prohibits is the condemning kind which proceeds from hate, not love.

We have two prohibitions and two emphatic promises. The second prohibition and promise explain the first. This passage by no means contradicts John 7:24; 1 Corinthians 5:12; 1 John 4:1; Matthew 18:17-18; and John 20:23. Jesus is saying  "Don't play God or others will play God with you."

The two prohibitions and promises are followed by a command and a promise. Most of our versions translate  "Forgive and you will be forgiven."  One translation says:  "and God will forgive you."  This same translation renders the promises in verse 37 with  "God will not judge you"  and  "God will not condemn you."  Though that is true we think this translation puts too much of a limitation on these three promises. Jesus is saying three times in verse 37 that the kindness which we show others will be shown by others to us.

Luke 6:38 Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you."

The command and promise at the beginning of this verse cover every aspect of human need, be that physical, mental, or spiritual. God wants His children to be generous.

GOOD MEASURE - The metaphor from the market aptly illustrates the generosity and blessing of the Christian.  "Good measure"  is explained by the three adjectival participles which follow. The first two are perfect passive, denoting lasting results. The third is a present middle participle. If we are generous to others they bless us like a merchant who sells a measure of barley which has been pressed down, well shaken, and running over. The buyer picks up the fringe of his garment and the seller pours the barley into his lap in this way.

WILL BE GIVEN - The subject is other people whom God uses to bless the generous Christian. Of course, God is the cause, but He uses other people to carry out His promise.


Adapted from Exegetical Notes, Series C Luke-John, Festival Season Sundays Gospel Texts, by Harold H. Buls, Concordia Theological Seminary Press: Ft Wayne IN, 1979, pp. 34-36. Used with permission.

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