Woe to you, when all men shall speak well of you! for so did their fathers to the false prophets.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)So did their fathers to the false prophets.—The words are of very wide application, but it is probable that there is a special reference in them to the time of Hezekiah and the later kings of Judah. (Comp. Isaiah 30:10; Jeremiah 5:31.) They open a wide question as to the worth of praise as a test of human conduct, and tend to a conclusion quite the reverse of that implied in the maxim, Vox populi, vox Dei. Truth, in matters which, like religion or politics, impinge on men’s interests or prejudices, is often, if not always, on the side of the minority, sometimes even on that of one who is as an Athanasius contra mundum. On the other hand, praise (Philippians 4:8) and good repute (1Timothy 3:7) have their value as the witnesses borne by the moral sense of men, when not deadened or perverted to the beauty of holiness, the testimonium. animœ naturaliter Christianœ to the moral excellence of the followers of Christ.Luke 6:26. Wo unto you — Miserable are you; when all men speak well of you — Because such universal applause is not to be gained without sinful compliances. “For,” as Dr. Whitby observes, “he that will be pleasing to all must speak things grateful to all, and do what they like; now that cannot be good which is grateful to bad men: thus the false prophets, whom the Jews commended, spake to them smooth things, and prophesied lies, because the people loved to have it so; they prophesied of peace, when war was at hand; they strengthened the hands of evil doers, Jeremiah 23:14, and daubed the ruinous wall with untempered mortar, Ezekiel 13:10-11.”
For so did their fathers - The fathers or ancestors of this people; the ancient Jews.
To the false prophets - Men who pretended to be of God - who delivered their "own" doctrines as the truth of God, and who accommodated themselves to the desires of the people. Of this number were the prophets of Baal, the false prophets who appeared in the time of Jeremiah, etc.
for so did their fathers to the false prophets; they spoke well of them, and heaped favours, riches, and honours upon them, that they might prophesy unto them things; 1 Kings 22:6, smooth things and deceit.Woe unto you, when all men shall speak well of you! for so did their fathers to the false prophets.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)Luke 6:26. This woe also, like the previous ones, and opposed to the fourth beatitude, Luke 6:22, must refer to the unbelievers, not to the disciples (so usually, see Kuinoel and de Wette), when perchance these latter should fall away, and thereby gather praise of men. This is not justified by the reference to the false prophets of earlier times, which rather shows that in this οὐαί Jesus has in His view, as opposed to His disciples, who had incurred hatred and persecution (Luke 6:23), the universally praised dignitaries of the Jewish theocracy and teachers of the people, whose business was ζητεῖν ἀνθρώποις ἀρέσκειν (Galatians 1:10). Jesus does not address His discourse very definitely and expressly to His followers until Luke 6:27.
οἱ πατ. αὐτῶν] (τῶν ἀνθρώπων, those regarded as Jews) so that they all lavished praise upon the false prophets; comp. Jeremiah 5:31; Jeremiah 23:17; Micah 2:11.Luke 6:26. This woe is addressed, not to the rich and full without, but to the disciples within, and points out to them that to be free from the evils enumerated in Luke 6:22 is not a matter of congratulation, but rather a curse, as indicative of a disloyalty to the faith and the Master, which makes them rank with false prophets.26. Woe unto you] Omit unto you with א, A, B, E, &c.
when all men shall speak well of you] “Know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God?” James 4:4. “If ye were of the world, the world would love his own,” John 15:19.
for so did their fathers to the false prophets] “The prophets prophesy falsely...and my people love to have it so,” Jeremiah 5:31. The prophets of Baal and of Asherah, honoured by Jezebel, 1 Kings 18:19; 1 Kings 18:22. Zedekiah, son of Chenaanah, supported by Ahab, 1 Kings 22:2. “Speak unto us smooth things, prophesy deceits,” Isaiah 30:10.Καλῶς, well) whereas they do not wish well to Christ Himself.—V. g.]—27. τοῖς ἀκούουσιν, who hear) All My hearers, not merely the disciples: Luke 6:20 [where He limits His address to the disciples]. Hereby their attention is sharpened.Verse 26. - Woe unto you, when all men shall speak well of you! Dean Plumptre, with great force, remarks that these words "open a wide question as to the worth of praise as a test of human conduct, and tend to a conclusion quite the reverse of that implied in the maxim, Vox populi, vox Dei. So did their fathers to the false prophets. A good instance of this is found in 1 Kings 18:19, where Queen Jezebel honours the false prophets. See, too, King Ahab's conduct to such men (1 Kings 22.), and Jeremiah's bitter plaint respecting the popularity of these false men (Jeremiah 5:31). At this point, according to St. Luke's report, the Master paused. It would seem as though he was fearful lest the awful woes foretold as the doom of the rich, the powerful, and the persecutor, should impart a too sombre hue to the thoughts which his followers would in coming days entertain of the world of men about them. He would have his own think of the circle outside the little world of believers with no bitter and revengeful thoughts, but rather with that Divine pity which he felt and showed to all poor fallen creatures. 'See now," the Master went on to say, 'notwithstanding the wee which will one day fall on the selfish rich and great ones of earth, and to whom you, my people, will surely be objects of dislike and hate, while you and they are on earth together, the part you have to play with regard to these is steadily to return love for hate."
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