For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.
Romans 15:4



 A Bible Study - Commentary by Jim Melough

Copyright 2001 James Melough

6:1.  “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 (barley?), and did eat, rubbing them in their hands.”

Some understand this to mean that the first sabbath was the first one after Passover, so that the one referred to here was the second after Passover.  (The words “the second after the first” are not found in some manuscripts). Others take it to mean the first sabbath after the second day of unleavened bread.  There is undoubtedly a reason for the emphasis on its being the second sabbath, but I regret being unable to see what that reason is.

The time of year indicates that the grain was barley.

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

Since the picking and eating of the grain was authorized in De 23:25, “When thou comest into the standing corn of thy neighbor, then thou mayest pluck the ears with thine hand; but thou shalt not move a sickle unto thy neighbor’s standing corn,” the imagined illegality was related to their doing it on a sabbath day, though the verse in De 23:25 contains no such prohibition.  In this, as in many things, the hypocritical Jewish leaders had added to God’s Word, thus imposing upon the people onerous unnecessary burdens, as the Lord said, “For they bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers,” Mt 23:4.  That same spirit is still alive. There are those who seek to bind their brethren with unscriptural restrictions.

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

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.?

6:5.  “And he said unto them, That the Son of man is Lord also of the sabbath.”

The allusion is to David’s eating the shewbread that only the priests were to eat, see 1 Sa 21:1-6, and I can’t understand why God permitted him to eat it, unless it was to demonstrate that God’s anointed king, the law-giver, is greater than the law, as in this present instance the Lord declared Himself Lord of the sabbath.  Grant’s suggestion is not without merit, “Christ the Lord of the Sabbath being rejected, they can claim no Sabbath; just as when, David the anointed king of Israel being a fugitive from the wrath of Saul, the show-bread became common food.  Alas, Israel in a little while would keep their Sabbath with the Lord of it, crucified at their hands, lying in His guarded grave .... mere ritualism lost the spirit of the law  while retaining the form of it!”

The fact that those with David also ate the holy bread may be meant to teach that those who belong to Christ are likewise beyond the power of the law, since He as their Representative has met all its claims.

The fact that this happened on the sabbath, the day of rest, may be intended to teach the truth that believers have entered into a rest of which the sabbath rest is but a type.

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.”

The right hand is the hand of power, and here its being withered or powerless sets the man before us as a representative of man in his unsaved state.  The unconverted are as powerless spiritually to do any work pleasing to God, as that man was physically.  And again we should note that his being healed on the sabbath, points to the truth that those who are healed spiritua­lly through faith in Christ, are brought into a rest which enables them to render service which is not only divorced from any idea of drudgery, but is rather invested with the character of pleasant activity, as it is written, “Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.  For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light,” Mt 11:29-30.  It is in fact spiritually similar in character to that which employed Adam physically in Eden.

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.”

Again mere religion proves itself the enemy of all good, and is bitterly opposed to seeing men liberated from the shackles of the law to which religion clings so tenaciously.  It can’t bear the thought of men being brought into such freedom that they are no longer willing to obey the dictates of those who love to exercise authority over others.

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.”

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?”

They might have retorted that good was to be done, but that since the man had obviously been in this condition for a long time, then the Lord ought to have rested on the sabbath, and healed the man the following day, since one more day wasn’t going to make much difference.  This might have had weight had the man’s healing required the Lord to work, but it didn’t.  His healing of the man was effortless. 

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.”

The healing didn’t require the Lord to break the sabbath.  No work was involved.

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

Their spiteful hatred simply manifested what is in the human heart.  The natural man hates God.

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.”

In 5:16 He went into the wilderness to pray, and the lesson being taught is that it is in the wilderness of this world that men ought to pray.  But here He went to a mountain, and this teaches the truth that effective prayer requires the man to rise up above all the cares and distractions of this life, so that he might devote himself to the things that belong to the world to come.  His continuing all night in prayer teaches the lesson that prayer is to be our occupation during the spiritual darkness which envelopes this world during the absence of Him Who is the Light of the world.

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

It is very possible that the appointment of the twelve was that about which He prayed all that night.  If so, it would teach us the necessity of seeking God’s guidance relative to all we do here on earth.

Since twelve is the number related to those who are under God’s government, there being twelve of them chosen to be apostles reminds us that they were responsible to manifest their obedience to that government.  We have the same responsibility, for we comprise the Church, which is also related to the number twelve.  The Church is built upon the foundation of (laid by) the twelve apostles, i.e., the gospel they preached, and the doctrine they taught.

Apostle means simply “one who is sent,” but the apostleship of these twelve was unique in that it required them, not only to have been with the Lord during His earthly ministry, but to have been witnesses also of His resurrection, see Ac 1:21-22, “Wherefore of these men which have companied with us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, beginning from the baptism of John, unto that same day that he was taken up from us, must one be ordained to be a witness with us of his resurrection.”  This teaches that the apostolic office is not successive.  Only those twelve could meet these qualifications. 

Its being said that He called them “when it was day” reminds us that in Scripture the literal often embodies higher spiritual truth.  God’s business can be done only by those walking in the light, and having clear guidance from Him.

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

6:15.  “Matthew and Thomas, James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon called Zelotes,”

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

Simon is Greek for Simeon, and means hearkening; Peter means a stone; Andrew manly; James (Greek for Jacob) he will take by the heel: supplanter; John Jehovah is gracious giver; Philip lover of horses; Bartholomew (also known as Nathanael) means son of Talmai, and Talmai means my furrows; Matthew was Levi the former publican, and his name means gift of Jehovah; Thomas a twin; Alphaeus produce: grain: (if from Hebrew = my ex­changes); Zelotes a zealot (especially for Jewish independence); Judas (Greek for Judah) he shall be praised; Iscariot he will be hired: a man of the cities (?). 

To deal with the significance of the meanings of all of these names would not only require a digression which the scope of this present work precludes, but would also require more insight than I possess, so I regret having to leave them for the personal study of the reader.

John is the one who wrote the gospel and the Epistles bearing his name, as well as the book of Revelation.

Philip should not be confused with Philip the evangelist mentioned in Acts.

Matthew was Levi the former tax collector and author of the first Gospel.

Judas the son of James, and not to be confused with the traitor, is believed by some to have been Jude the author of the Epistle bearing that name.  He may be the Thaddaeus listed in the other two Gospels which give the names of the twelve.

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;”

6:18.  “And they that were vexed with unclean spirits: and they were healed.”

Expositors disagree as to whether the teaching given here is an abbreviated version of the Sermon on the Mount, but the resolution of that question is of little importance, though against its being a shortened version is the fact that He doesn’t appear to have chosen the twelve until after He had delivered the Sermon on the Mount, compare Mt 10:1-5 and Mt chapters 5-7.

The Lord’s coming down with the twelve reminds us that He is similarly with all who do His bidding.  Tyre means to distress; and Sidon hunting, but I can’t see the spiritual significance of these meanings in the present context.

There can be little doubt that those who were healed expressed their gratitude by obedience.  We who have been raised from spiritual death, and cleansed from all sin should likewise express our thanksgiving by obedience.

6:19.  “And the whole multitude sought to touch him: for there went virtue (power) out of him, and healed them all.”

There is no record of anyone’s coming to Jesus for healing, and being sent away unhealed.  No truly penitent sinner will every be sent away unforgiven.

6:20.  “And he lifted up his eyes on his disciples, and said, Blessed be ye poor: for yours is the kingdom of God.”

It is to be noted that the Lord didn’t pronounce a blessing on all the poor in general.  It is not poverty that makes men heirs of the kingdom, but rather, their willingness to suffer the loss of all things so as to enter the kingdom.  He who is willing to be made poor for Christ’s sake will be eternally rich in heaven.  An obvious way in which believers may make themselves poor for the Lord’s sake is to devote to prayer, study, meditation, the spread of the gospel, ministry to other believers, etc., time that could have been used to make more money.  Many today are impoverishing themselves eternally by using discretionary time to make more money, or simply to enjoy this world’s pleasures.  Questions we would all do well to ask relative to the things we do, are, What profit is there in this for eternity?  Will the Lord’s appraisal of this activity be, Well done good and faithful servant?  Will this make me a better Christian?

6:21.  “Blessed are ye that hunger now; for ye shall be filled.  Blessed are ye that weep now: for ye shall laugh.”

This blessing is pronounced upon those whose devotion to the Lord’s service has resulted in their having insufficient money for food; but since eating speaks of being satisfied, the assurance given all such is that they will be eternally satisfied with the Lord’s recompense of their sacrifice.  Their eternal reward will be great.  And while the primary reference may be to literal hunger, the same assurance of eternal satisfaction is given also to those who hunger for heavenly things.  And as for weeping, those willing to experience sorrow for Christ’s sake will laugh eternally. 

6:22.  “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.”

This is the reiteration of the truth declared by the Lord in Jn 15:20-21, “Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his Lord.  If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also.  But all these things will they do unto you for my name’s sake, because they know not him that sent me.”

Few Christians incur this stigma today, and the reason is obvious: they refuse to declare the gospel, for the biblical gospel begins with the announcement of man’s ruined state (which no man wants to hear); but that failure translates into disobedience of Christ, for He has commanded every believer, “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature,” Mk 16:15.

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.”

Christianity for the most part has reversed this order.  Christians rejoice when the world accepts them, and foolishly weep when it rejects them, forgetting that their eternal reward will be in inverse proportion to their popularity in the world.  What folly to forfeit the approval of Christ for that of a few mortals who will lament for ever their own folly of having refused to believe the gospel which we profess to believe, but fail to preach with the zeal which is rightfully to be expected of those having such a message to declare!

To be willing to suffer for Christ’s sake is to place ourselves in good company: that of the prophets, for virtually all of them suffered for the same reason, i.e., obedience to the Lord, Stephen’s final testimony against Israel being, “Which of the prophets have not your fathers persecuted?  and they have slain them which showed before of the coming of the Just One; of whom ye have been now the betrayers and murders:” Ac 7:52.

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

This is not to say that a rich man may not enter heaven, but rather, that he who sets his heart on this world’s riches, to the neglect of the salvation of his soul, can only anticipate an eternity of torment in the lake of fire. How paltry will earth’s wealth appear from the perspective of eternity when viewed in the light and glory of heaven!

Likewise, the believer who hoards money, or uses it to gratify pride and selfish pleasure, will also discover the enormity of his folly when he stands at the Bema and learns the Lord’s estimate of his unfaithful stewardship.  How tragic it will be to discover that the misuse of what could have been used for Christ, but which was used only to provoke the envy or the admiration of mere mortals, has reduced in corresponding measure the eternal reward with which the Lord would have recompensed the wise use of that earthly wealth!

6:25.  “Woe unto you that are full! for ye shall hunger.  Woe unto you that laugh now! for ye shall mourn and weep.”

This second woe relates to those who “live on the fat of the land,” i.e., spare no expense when it comes to their food.  There are individuals who squander on a meal in a fancy restaurant what would feed another family for a month.  How little of the spirit of Christ is displayed in such extravagance!  But they will hunger.  There are no restaurants, no gourmet foods, no costly wines in hell.  There isn’t even a drop of water in that terrible place!  None of those things will be available there, so that they who pursued them, never having acquired a taste for spiritual things on earth, will hunger eternally.

Tragically there are professing Christians who are guilty of the same sinful extravagance.  How will they explain their unfaithful stewardship when they stand before the Lord at His judgment seat?  What will they say when they discover that their eternal reward is in inverse proportion to the extent of their lavish living on earth?

The third woe relates to those who live only for this world’s pleasures, which won’t be available in the eternal state, and since only spiritual men can enjoy spiritual things, those who die unconverted doom themselves to eternal mourning and weeping.  A distaste for spiritual things here on earth doesn’t augur well for eternity, a fact which should impel professing Christians to examine their attitude to Bible study, prayer, ministry, evangelism, etc., for enjoyment of these things is the mark of a genuine believer.  Lack of enjoyment of these things here on earth, renders suspect a profession of faith.

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

The fourth woe is pronounced against those who enjoy the favor of the world, and whom the Lord equates with the OT false prophets.  This calls in question the reality of the profession made by such  men.  The friendship of the world is not compatible with a genuine confession of Christ, see the warning given by James, “... know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God?  whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God,” Jas 4:4.  One cannot faithfully live for Christ and proclaim the gospel without offending the men of this world.

6:27.  “But I say unto you which hear, Love your enemies, do good to them which hate you,”

“Hear” in the present context means to hear and to obey, and describes those whom the Lord commends for their willingness to forego the things that the men of the world value so highly, but which are worthless in God’s sight.

Love is not the sentimental thing which the world calls love.  It means to act toward those who are unlovable, in the same way as we would to those we do love.  It involves the will rather than the emotions, and is an expression of the nature of God Himself.

In doing good where ever possible to those who hate us, we may eventually persuade them to listen to the gospel.  We are to wish well to those who curse us; and we are to pray for those who insult us.  Such love is beyond human intelligence, emotion, and will, for it is a reflection of Divine love, and can therefore be displayed only by those possessing God’s life and nature, i.e., those who have been born again through faith in Christ as Savior.  

The prayer of every believer should be for the power to display this love as the governing force of his life; and that it is possible to thus display it is announced in this command, for God never gives a command without also giving the power to obey, see Php 4:13, “I can do all things through Christ who strengtheneth me.”

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

To bestow a blessing on one who is cursing you is beyond human power, but we are to remember that the life within us is the very life of God, so that as those who are born of Him we have been endowed with this heavenly power.  The Lord’s cry to the Father on behalf of those who had crucified him, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do,” Lk 23:34, is an example of this power at work; and lest we should think that it was possible for Him, but not for us, God has preserved for our encouragement, Stephen’s similar prayer on behalf of those who stoned him to death, “Lord, lay not this sin to their charge,” Ac 7:60.

To use despitefully is to slander, accuse falsely, insult, threaten, and again the enjoined response is beyond the power of the natural man, but not of the believer.

6:29.  “And unto him that smiteth thee on the one cheek offer also the other; and him that taketh away thy cloak forbid not to take thy coat also.”

This conduct is the very opposite of that of the world, and requires more grace than the natural man possesses, but not more than is available to the obedient believer.  He who conforms to the Divine standard will have no regrets in heaven, for his eternal reward will be great; and our encouragement to obedience is to remember what the Lord endured at the hands of men in the high priest’s palace, in the judgment halls of Pilate and Herod, and finally at Calvary.

6:30.  “Give to every man that asketh of thee; and of him that taketh away thy goods ask them not again.”

Clearly the first part has reference to genuine need, for in regard to those who will not work, Paul has written, “For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither shall he eat,” 2 Th 3:10.  This is not an instruction to support the lazy, the profligate, etc. To give to such is to prove ourselves bad stewards of what has been committed to our trust.

In the second part, however, relating to goods taken away, the meaning is that the goods have been taken by force, but again, the obedient believer is not even to ask that they be returned, and again this is a response impossible to mere human nature.  Only the believer is endowed with the power to obey this command (and it is a command), because of the Divine life and nature within him.

6:31.  “And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise.”

Obedience to this commandment requires us to ask concerning our dealings with others, How would I like to be treated in this instance?  and then to treat them accordingly.

6:32.  “For if ye love them which love you, what thank have ye? for sinners also love those that love them.”

This continues to emphasize the need of acting in love toward those who may be unlovable, for such love is an evidence that we possess Divine life.  Even the natural man loves those who love him, but he can’t love those who hate him.

6:33.  “And if ye do good to them which do good to you, what thank have ye? for sinners also do even the same.”

At best such conduct is simply keeping the score even.  The greatest virtue in doing good lies in doing it when there is no expectation of recompense.

6:34.  “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.”

The basic idea here has to do with lending money at interest, and the clear implication is that God disapproves of such lending.  Our assisting those in need is to be without expectation of reward, knowing that the Lord in a soon coming day will fully repay all that is done for His sake.

6:35.  “But love 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.”

This doesn’t require us to love our enemies in the ordinary sense of the word, but to act towards them as we would towards those we do love.  If good is done with expectation of reward, then it ceases to have any value; but good done in the proper spirit will bring great reward at the Bema.

The term “children of the Highest” is just another way of saying “children of God,” and if we act in the manner enjoined we will be demonstrating that we have His life within us, He Himself being our Example in the kindness He displays towards the “unthankful and to the evil (cruel),” for what recompense can even the thankful render to Him Who possesses all things?  We who have been made joint heirs with the Lord Jesus Christ, likewise have no need of repayment of what we give to others, nor are we impoverished by what others may wrongfully take from us here on earth, for it is impossible to impoverish one whose riches are limitless, as are ours in Christ.  If we viewed things from the perspective of the inheritance that is ours in Christ we would be little troubled by what people may wrongfully take from us here on earth.  They take what has no value beyond earth, but the manner in which we suffer the wrong can translate into eternal glory for us, so that by their wrongdoing they are actually giving us the chance to be eternally enriched.

6:36.  “Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful.”

“Merciful” means to be pitiful, compassionate, tender-hearted, and again God is set before us as the great Example.  Only believers have God as their Father.  Unbelievers are the spiritual children of Satan, Jn 8:44.  How easy it would be for us to be merciful if we kept in mind that in displaying mercy we  simply demonstrate again that the life within us is the very life of God, and that the degree to which we display that life here on earth will be the measure of our own eternal glorification in heaven!  The great impetus to the display of mercy is to always remember the measureless mercy God has shown us.

6:37.  “Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven:”

The command not to judge is based on the fact that we cannot always discern the reason for another’s conduct; and lacking that knowledge, we can’t make a right judgment.  The condemnation which is forbidden here is that which is made on the basis of an improper judgment.  The command not to condemn is based on the same fact that since we lack the ability to know the motive that has prompted conduct which we condemn in another, we are not to make that judgment.  And the transcendent reason for not judging or condemning another is that we ourselves are worthy of God’s condemnation, but in grace He has given His Son to die for our sins, so that we might not be condemned.

It is clear, however, that this command is not all inclusive.  There are things we are to judge, otherwise how could we, for example, prevent unbelievers from coming into the local church if we didn’t exercise some judgment relative to a man’s profession of faith?  See also 1 Co 5:12; 6:2-5; 11:13; 14:29.

It must be recognized also that the forbidden judgment and condemnation, like the conditional forgiveness mentioned, have to do with the Father’s parental judgment of His children relative to their communion with Him, and not the judicial judgment under which He freely and unconditionally forgives every sin of those who trust in Christ as Savior.  What is being discussed in this verse relates to the maintenance of our communion with our Father, and how can we expect to enjoy that communion if we refuse to exercise that same forgiveness towards others as He has exercised towards us, especially in view of the fact that our offences against Him have been far greater and more numerous than those that others may have committed against us?

“Forgive, and ye shall be forgiven,” is not to be understood as making our judicial forgiveness contingent on our willingness to forgive others, for as believers, our sins - past, present, and future - were all forgiven unconditionally when we became believers.  The forgiveness here has to do with our communion with our Father.  Failure to forgive others results in the interruption of that communion, nor can it be restored until we freely forgive those who may have offended us.

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.”

The reference to men’s response to the kindnesses we may do them must be understood in the general sense, for clearly not all respond in kind.  The second sentence, however, seems to have reference to God’s recompense, so that even though some men may not respond in kind, the kindness isn’t lost.  The Lord takes note of it, and will bestow His reward at the Bema, the measure of that reward being declared in the “good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over....”

6:39.  “And he spake a parable unto them, Can the blind lead the blind? shall they not both fall into the ditch?”

This parable sets things in perspective.  The kindnesses, etc., we may do to others should be with a view to making them receptive to the gospel which we are commanded to bring them.  We are to estimate all things in view of the Bema.  It doesn’t matter down here how men respond to our kindnesses: Christ will repay us in a soon coming day.  If our eye is on present reward, then we are as blind men trying to lead others, for if we don’t see the error of doing good simply for present gain, how can we expect to teach others about eternal things?

6:40.  “The disciple is not above his master: but every one that is perfect (complete) shall be as his master.”

The “disciple” here is the believer as a learner in God’s school, and the master is the Lord Jesus Christ through the Holy Spirit and the written Word, so that the second half of the verse means literally that when the student is perfect (has completed his learning, or is fully taught), the evidence should be that he will be Christ-like in thought, word, and deed.  This is not to be understood as implying that there comes a point in every believer’s life when he has learned everything: our schooldays are not ended until we are home in heaven, for only then will the conformity to Christ be complete or perfect.

There is, however, a practical application of this lesson relative to the teaching given by elders and teachers.  The pupil cannot know more than his teacher, so if the teacher is wrong, the pupil will be also.  When the pupil’s education is complete he will know as much as his teacher, but no more.  If we therefore, have an imperfect knowledge of God, those we wish to teach will also have an imperfect knowledge of Him.  The best teacher will be he whose own life is most closely conformed to that of Christ.

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?”

If we disobey the command not to judge and criticize others, then the above is no exaggeration, for our fault is greater than that of the one whose conduct we judge, for he is likely to be acting in ignorance, but we are guilty of deliberate disobedience of God in that we fail to judge ourselves by the perfect standard of the written Word

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.”

Few sins are more heinous in God’s sight than that of hypocrisy, yet that is the very thing with which He charges us when we deliberately disobey, yet dare to pass judgment on another’s fault.  The truths of Scripture cannot be a mere shibboleth on our lips, a mere theory that isn’t applied to our own lives first, particularly the lives of those who would teach others.  Our words will have little weight unless others see the outworking in our lives of the truths we presume to teach them.

6:43.  “For a good tree bringeth not forth corrupt fruit; neither doth a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.”

The nature of the tree governs the character of the fruit.  My conduct indicates whether it is produced by the old nature, or the new.  It is sad when we allow the old nature to so manifest itself that the new nature is obscured.  The word for corrupt couldn’t be stronger: it is literally rotten.

6:44.  “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.”

We are either producing the fruits of the Spirit, or the fruits of the old nature, and if the latter are predominant in our lives we ought to consider whether there is in fact a new nature within us.

The fig tree is associated with profession, as thorns are with sin.  The truth being declared is that a sinful life negates any profession we may make, while the truth being taught in the bramble and the grapes is that as grapes (the source of wine which is the symbol of joy) speak of joy (and here, of joy brought to others), there will be no joy brought to others if we are allowing the old nature to control us and produce its evil fruit in our lives.

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.”

A man’s speech reveals the condition of his heart, as it is written, “As he thinketh in his heart, so is he,” Pr 23:7.  The good man treasures up good things in his heart, and seizes every opportunity to share them with others.  The evil man is the opposite.  His heart is filled with evil things, and his words reveal what is in his heart.  We do well to heed the exhortation, “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true ... honest ... just ... pure ... lovely ... of good report ... think on these things,” Php 4:8.  If our lives are going to reflect the life of Christ then there must be transformation of our minds, as it is written, “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,” Ro 12:2; and again, “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus....” Php 2:5.

6:46.  “And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?”

It is hypocrisy to profess faith in Christ, if I refuse to obey Him.

6:47.  “Whosoever cometh to me, and heareth my sayings, and doeth them, I will show you to whom he is like:”

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.”

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.”

The reality of our profession is revealed by the measure of our obedience; and as the men in the story were builders, so are we.  The one who built on the rock foundation had in view the testing of the worth of his work.  He represents a believer.  The Bema will reveal the worth of what we are building here on earth.  The rock is a type of Christ.  The life that isn’t grounded on that Rock will perish in the day of testing.

Everything hinges on obedience.  There may be much talk of faith in Christ, but if the life reveals little evidence of His control, it will prove to be as worthless as the house without a foundation.

While these two builders are usually taken to represent the believer and unbeliever respectively: the present context may indicate that they are both believers: the one who builds on the rock representing the obedient believer; and the other, the disobedient.

[Luke 7]


     Scripture portions taken from the Holy Bible, King James Version
© 2000-2005 James Melough