The mission of the Messiah, 1:5-9:50
4. The dawning of the kingdom in the acts of Messiah, 6:12-7:50
ii] Promises and principles of the coming kingdom. 6:17-49
c) A tree and it's fruitSynopsis
Luke's account of The Great Sermon continues. Having expounded the true nature of love and the necessity of loving with God-like love if we are to win divine love, v27-38, Jesus goes on to call for self examination. He does this in four parables. The first parable, or more properly, applied proverb, v39-40, identifies the general state of human ignorance such that all are lost in blind musings - like teacher, like student. The second parable, v41-42, exposes the fact that we are not compassionate as God is compassionate and this is evidenced by our need to expose the failings in others, seeking to correct and improve them, while ignoring our own inadequacies. The third parable, v43-45, makes the point that our sorry condition (lost to God) is easily recognized because, as the worth of a fruit tree is recognized by its fruit so is our condition recognized by our fruit, namely our little compassion. The fourth parable, v46-49, sums up our desperate state; it reminds us that we have built our house without foundations, that we have heard and not obeyed, and are therefore unprepared for the shaking day when the eschatological flood will burst upon us.
All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God; we are blind, of little compassion and fruitless. We do not hear and apply God's Word and so are like a house built on unsure foundations that will not survive the coming terrible day.
i] Context: See 6:17-26.
ii] Structure: This passage, The blessings and cursings, presents as follows:
Sayings on the human condition, v39-42:
Double saying - we are who we follow, v39-40:
"can the blind lead the blind? ....."
"a pupil is no better off than his teacher ...."
Saying on judging, v41-42:
"why do you see the speck in your brother's eye .......?"
Sayings - works reveal the person, v43-45:
"no good tree bears bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit"
"each tree is recognized by its own fruit ......"
"a good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, kai ("but"??) ....."
The parable of the wise and foolish builder, v46-49:
"why do you call me, 'Lord, Lord', and do not do what I say?"
The wise builder - the one who hears and does, v47-48;
The foolish builder - the one who hears and does not do, 49.
As a covenant renewal document, the Sermon on the Plain ends with blessings and cursings in the form of sayings, illustrations and a parable. Each exposes the condition of those unable to comply with the law of love, v27-38. Unable to show divine love, judgmental, blind, without compassion and fruitless, we face inevitable , a ruined house, v49. As with the Sinai covenant, the law with its blessings and cursings forces a reliance on grace, on divine mercy through faith, a faith like Abraham's. Here, in the Sermon on the Plain, we are forced to refocus on the beatitudes. The poor, hungry, weeping, persecuted, those broken before God, they are the ones who find mercy. So, we are reminded that only one person has built his house on good foundations, only one person has heard and obeyed the Word of God, and only his house will survive the coming terrible day. Best we head for his house, knock on his door, and be welcomed into an eternal security that only he can provide.
iv] Exposition: A simple exposition of this passage may be found in the linked pew-level Sermon Notes.
Text - 6:39
Blessings and Cursings, v39-49: i] Sayings on the human condition, v39-42. a) The parable, proverb / saying concerning blind guides, v39-40, cf.,Matt.15:14. Although a reference to the Pharisees obviously lies behind the proverb and its exposition, Luke's focus is on those who are led, thus serving to identify the human condition, which condition needs to be recognized. We are all in the pit, along with our teachers. Although probably not Luke's point, many commentators still argue that these verses are directed at teachers, rather than students, but are divided on who these teachers are, eg.: Pharisees, disciples, Christian ministers... Where the teacher is identified as a Christian, numerous interpretations are suggested, eg., Don't teach while still blind; don't teach in a judgmental fashion; let Jesus do the teaching, blah, blah, ....
kai "also" - and. Transitional, "He spoke to them a parable as well", Nolland.
autoiV dat. pro. "them" - Dative of indirect object. Presumably disciples / seekers.
parabolhn (h) "this parable" - a parable, proverb (variant: "the"). The parables in this passage are teaching parables, not kingdom parables (gospel riddles), and are little more than illustrations; "Jesus went on to use an illustration", Barclay.
mhti "-" - Interrogative particle introducing a question where the expected answer is negative.
oJdhgein (oJdhgew) pres. inf. "[can ....] lead" - [is (not) able] to lead. The infinitive is complementary, completing the sense of the verb "is able".
ouci "-" - Interrogative particle introducing a question where the expected answer is positive.
empesountai (empiptw) "will they [not] fall" - will fall in, upon.
baqunon (oV) "a pit" - Referring to a deep hole, not just a ditch.
"Pupils are no better than their teacher - [their] training only leaves them like him", Rieu; cf., Matt.10:24, Jn.13:16, 15:20.
uJper + acc. "above [his teacher]" - beyond. Expressing comparison; "more than, beyond." "A student does not surpass his teacher."
kathrismenoV (katakrizw) perf. pas. part. "who is fully trained" - having been mended, restored, created. The participle may be adverbial possibly temporal, "but when he is fully trained"; or possibly conditional, "but if he is perfectly trained", Moffatt, or it may be adjectival, as NIV. Here obviously with the particular meaning of to make adequate, to furnish completely, to cause to be fully qualified, adequacy*.
estai "will be" - The subject is not identified and may be the student, "he", REB, but more likely Gk. "all"; "every disciple", RSV., "everyone", NIV.
wJV "like" - Comparative.
b) The parable, proverb / saying concerning speck removal, v41-42. Again prompting self-examination - the test of a judgmental spirit. "The primary intent is self-examination, not the examination of others", Bock. The test immediately tells us that we are cursed; we are all into speck removal. As the apostle puts it, "all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God." Nolland notes that many interpretations of v41-42 follow the "self improvement" line (eg. "any effort at moral improvement of others without taking stock of oneself is utterly ridiculous", Danker), although he does himself follow a similar line: "it is sheer hypocrisy to seek to help others with ethical minutiae while failing to attend to [Jesus'] central demands of discipleship [namely] ... nonjudgment and love of enemy." Yet, surely the point is sharper than this, namely that nonjudgmental compassion is beyond us - aim at it, yes, but it is beyond us. We all tend toward speck removal to cover our own sins, particularly if we are unsure of God's mercy toward us. So, this tendency serves to expose our sinful state and prompt a reliance on divine mercy. Cf., Matt.7:1-5
ti "why" - Interrogative particle governing both coordinate clauses.
blepeiV (blepw) pres. "look at" - see. The present tense is durative, "Why do you continually observe ...?" The sense is figurative, "perceive."
to karfoV (oV) "the speck" - the twig, speck, splinter. Referring to something small and hard. "Speck of dust", Barclay.
en + dat. "in" - Local; expressing space / sphere.
sou gen. pro. "your" - of you. The genitive is adjectival, relational.
tou adelfou "brother's" - [in the eye] of the brother. The genitive is adjectival, possessive. "Brother" in the sense of "fellow believer", or more generally, "fellow member of a group."
ou katanoeiV (katanoew) pres. "pay no attention to" - you do not notice, consider carefully, look at attentively. This verb is much stronger than "see". We constantly note, in passing, the sins of others, but rarely do we examine our own.
thn dokon (oV) fem. "the plank" - the log, beam. As of a roofing or flooring beam in a house. Bock rightly observes that what we should "take careful notice of" is our "sin in general."
tw/ idiw/ "your own [eye]" - one's own.
pwV "how" - Interrogative, introducing a question; "how, in what way ...."
legein (legw) pres. inf. "[how cay you] say" - [how are you able] to say. The infinitive is complementary, completing the sense of the verb "are able".
tw/ adelfw (oV) dat. "to [your] brother" - Dative of indirect object.
afeV (afihmi) aor. imp. "let me" - allow, permit me. This imperative, used in conjunction with the hortatory subjunctive ekbalw, "I may cast out, remove", gives the sense "please allow me to remove."
to "-" - The article serves as an adjectivizer, turning the prepositional phrase en tw/ ofqalmw/ sou, "in the eye of you", into an attributive clause limiting "speck"; "which is in your eye."
en + dat. "-" - [remove the speck] in [the eye of you]. Local, expressing space / sphere.
ou blepwn (blepw) pres. part. "when you [yourself] fail to see" - not seeing. This is the only time Luke uses this negation with a participle. Probably a temporal participle as NIV, although possibly concessive thus introducing a subordinate circumstantial clause, "although"; "and yet you never notice the plank in your own eye?", Moffatt.
thn "-" - The feminine article could stand with dokon, "log, beam", but its position in the text indicates it is serving as an adjectivizer turning the prepositional phrase en tw/ ofqalmw/ sou, "in the eye of you", into an attributive clause limiting "plank, log, beam"; "the plank which is in your eye."
uJpokrita (hV ou) "hypocrite" - The secular meaning of "play-actor" is certainly present, although the intended meaning probably pushes more toward the Hebrew equivalent of "liar / godless / deceitful", so "frauds", Phillips, rather than "show offs", CEV. Jesus elsewhere describes the Pharisees as "hypocrites" and so he may well be using them as an example of "the self-righteous person trying to improve others while he ignores his own weakness", Danker. Possibly better, works on improving others so as to hide his own weakness.
ek + gen. "out of [your eye]" - [first remove the log] from [the eye of you]. Expressing separation; "away from."
tote adv. "then" - Temporal adverb.
diableyeiV (diablepw) fut. "you will see clearly" - In classical Gk. the word "means 'look fixedly as in deep thought.' Plato notes it as a habit of Socrates", Plummer.
ekbalein (ekballw) inf. "to remove" - The infinitive is adverbial, consecutive, expressing result, or final, expressing purpose; "you will then see clearly with the result that you will be able to remove..."
ii] Illustrations / proverbs / sayings concerning trees and their fruit, v43-45. Again prompting self-examination - the test of obedience. The test immediately tells us that we are cursed; our fruit is poor. Given that "what one produces is finally a product of what one is", Nolland, it is surely not possible to hide from what one is, namely, a "bad tree." See Nolland, p308 for a nice summary of the standard ethical interpretations of v43-45. Yet, the simple fact is that Jesus is not calling on us to produce good fruit, so Bock etc., but getting us to observe the fact that our fruit is rotten because we are a diseased tree.
gar "-" - More explanatory here than causal and so not translated.
kalon adj. "good" - good, beautiful. In what sense "good": healthy, a good variety, fruit producing... ?
estin ... poioun "bears" - is .... producing, doing, making. Periphrastic present, possibly underlining durative action.
sapron adj. "bad [fruit]" - decayed, rotten / unsuitable, unfit, bad.
The presence of an introductory gar indicates that this verse serves as an explanation of v43, namely, that the nature / character of a tree is evidenced by its fruit. "Just as a person can't pick figs from thornbushes, or ......... so they can't pick good fruit from a bad tree."
gar "-" - for. Explanatory, "for you see"; "As everyone knows", TH.
ekaston pro. "each" - each, every. Possibly "each of [the] two", Jeremias.
ginwsketai (ginomai) pres. "recognized" - knows. Probably a gnomic present, expressing an accepted fact, a general truth.
ek "by" - from. Expressing source / origin; the source of the knowledge, which source is the state of the fruit. It is from the fruit that the worth of the tree is known.
Saying - character precedes action, v45. Serving as the application of v43-44, and making the point that our Achilles heel is our mouth, an outward expression of our character which serves to expose the dire state of our heart. Cf., Matt.12:33-35.
proferei (proferw) pres. "brings .... out" - The present tense is probably iterative, expressing repeated action. Note the observation, "the mouth sometimes professes what the heart does not feel", Plummer.
to agaqon adj. "good things" - The articular adjective serves as a substantive.
ek + gen. "of" - from. Expressing source / origin.
thV kardiaV (a) gen. "[the good stored up in his] heart" - [the good storehouse / treasure] of the heart. The genitive is adjectival, possessive; "the heart's good storehouse." Again, commentators often proceed on the assumption that it is possible for a person to have a "good" heart and that this goodness is gained either by obedience and/or identification with Christ, cf. Marshall. With this approach the passage is understood to prompt "self-evaluation and correction", Bock, a prompt to "reform" our lives, Ellis, and thus "is a call to a true inner goodness of the heart", Nolland, a prompt "to bring forth goodness continuously from the treasure of their heart", Bovon. It is true that a moral imperative can be drawn from the saying, but primarily it prompts self-examination and thus an awareness of our state of sin. Does not the mouth remind us that none are good, no not one?
gar "for" - Introducing a causal clause explaining why the kindly nature mouths kindness and the evil nature mouths evil, namely because "everything is decided in the heart", Bovon.
ek + gen. "-" - from [abundance of heart speaks the mouth of him]. Expressing source / origin.
kardiaV (a) gen. "what the heart [is full of]" - The genitive may be classified as verbal, subjective, so Culy, or adjectival, attributed; "from the overflowing heart his lips give utterance", Berkeley.
iii] The parable of the wise and foolish builders, v46-49. The concluding parable of the Great Sermon does not serve, as Marshal suggests, "to stress the importance of obedience to what has been heard", but rather serves to expose the reality of our disobedience and therefore our inevitable "ruin". Faced with our "destitute" state, we are forced to rely on grace and by this means find "reward in heaven", v20-23; to "seek sure foundations", Melinsky.
kaleite (kalew) pres. "you call" - The present tense is probably iterative, expressing repeated action; "why do you keep on saying that I am your Lord", CEV.
ou poieite (poiew) pres. "do not do" - you do not do. "Refuse to do", CEV, is too strong; inaction is better, "and not do what I tell you", Barclay.
Luke's version of the parable focuses on the preparation of a good foundation for a building, such is like a person who obeys the divine will and who therefore stands scrutiny at the day of judgment. Cf., Matthew.7:24-27 where the focus is on the wise / prudent and foolish builders.
oJ ercomenoV (ercomai) pres. part. "[as for everyone] who comes" - [everyone] the one coming. This participle, as with "hearing" and "doing, putting into practice" is adjectival, attributive, limiting the substantive adjective "everyone". The person who builds on a good foundation is like the one who comes, hears and does. The present tense is durative, indicating ongoing action, possibly "an abiding attitude", TH. There is no mention of the bad builder, v49, coming to Jesus, but it is surely assumed. Again indicating that the sermon is for disciples / seekers. "Everyone who comes to me, listens to my words and obeys", NCV.
mou gen. pro. "[hears] my" - [hears the words] of me. The genitive is adjectival, possessive, although it may be classified as verbal, subjective, "the words uttered by me." In Luke the genitive modifier usually follows its noun so its placement here before logwn, "words", is emphatic; see Culy.
twn logwn (oV) gen. "words" - Genitive of direct object after the verbal aspect of the participle "hearing".
uJpodeixw (uJpodeiknumi) fut. "I will show" - I will inform, show, point out. In Greek literature the word is used to introduce an example.
uJmin dat. pro. "you" - Dative of indirect object.
tini dat. pro. "what" - Dative of direct object after the uJpo prefix verb "to show, inform."
Note variant "for it was founded upon rock" instead of "because it was well built." An obvious leaning toward Matthew's account.
oJmoioV "[he is] like" - like, similar.
anqrwpw/ (oV) dat. "a man" - to a man. A dative of the thing compared.
oikodomounti (oikodomew) dat. pres. part. "building" - building. The participle is adjectival, attributive, limiting "man"; "a man who built a house."
eskayen kai ebaqunen "dug down deep" - dug and went down deep. A hendiadys where two words in the Gk. are joined by "and" to form a single idea.
epi + acc. "on" - [and laid a foundation] upon [the rock]. Spacial; "down upon."
genomenhV (ginomai) aor. part. "when [a flood] came" - [and a flood] having come [the river burst upon that house]. The genitive absolute participle is usually taken to form a temporal clause, as here.
th/ oikia/ (a) dat. "[that] house" - Dative of direct object after the proV prefix verb "to burst upon."
saleusai (saleuw) aor. inf. "[could not] shake" - [it was not strong, able, had power] to shake [it]. The infinitive is complementary, completing the sense of the negated verb "was not able".
dia to + inf. "because [it was well built]" - because of, on account of [it well to have been built]. This construction, the preposition dia + an articular infinitive, forms a causal clause. The subject of the infinitive "it" is accusative forming an accusative infinitive construction.
de "but" - but, and. Here adversative; "but".
oJ akousaV (akouw) aor. part. "the one who hears my words" - the one having heard [and having not done]. The participle, as with "the one not having done", serves as a substantive. The aorist is probably gnomic, expressing a general truth as NIV.
anqrwpw/ (oV) dat. "[is like] a man" - Dative of the thing compared.
oikodomhsanti (oikodomew) aor. part. "who built [a house]" - having built [a house]. The participle serves as an adjective.
epi + acc. "on [the ground]" - Spacial; "down upon."
cwriV + gen. "without" - without, apart from [a foundation]. In Matthew's account the problem is building on sand, for Luke, the problem is building without a foundation.
h|/ dat. pro. "-" - [the river struck against] which. The dative could be classified as a dative of disadvantage, but more properly a dative of direct object after the proV prefix verb "to burst upon."
sunepesen (sumpiptw) aor. "it collapsed" - fell together. "The whole fell together in a heap", Plummer.
to rJhgma (a atoV) "destruction" - the ruin, destruction, breaking [of that house was great]. "It was smashed to pieces", CEV.
mega "complete" - great. The position is emphatic, underlined for emphasis.