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Luke 6:1-5

Lord of the Sabbath

6:1 Jesus 1  was going through the grain fields on 2  a Sabbath, 3  and his disciples picked some heads of wheat, 4  rubbed them in their hands, and ate them. 5  6:2 But some of the Pharisees 6  said, “Why are you 7  doing what is against the law 8  on the Sabbath?” 6:3 Jesus 9  answered them, 10  “Haven’t you read what David did when he and his companions were hungry – 6:4 how he entered the house of God, took 11  and ate the sacred bread, 12  which is not lawful 13  for any to eat but the priests alone, and 14  gave it to his companions?” 15  6:5 Then 16  he said to them, “The Son of Man is lord 17  of the Sabbath.”

1 tn Grk “he”; the referent (Jesus) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

2 tn Grk “Now it happened that on.” The introductory phrase ἐγένετο (egeneto, “it happened that”), common in Luke (69 times) and Acts (54 times), is redundant in contemporary English and has not been translated.

3 tc Most later mss (A C D Θ Ψ [Ë13] Ï lat) read ἐν σαββάτῳ δευτεροπρώτῳ (en sabbatw deuteroprwtw, “a second-first Sabbath”), while the earlier and better witnesses have simply ἐν σαββάτῳ (Ì4 א B L W Ë1 33 579 1241 2542 it sa). The longer reading is most likely secondary, though various explanations may account for it (for discussion, see TCGNT 116).

4 tn Or “heads of grain.” While the generic term στάχυς (stacus) can refer to the cluster of seeds at the top of grain such as barley or wheat, in the NT the term is restricted to wheat (L&N 3.40; BDAG 941 s.v. 1).

5 tn Grk “picked and ate some heads of grain, rubbing them in their hands.” The participle ψώχοντες (ywconte") has been translated as a finite verb due to requirements of contemporary English style, and the order of the clauses has been transposed to reflect the logical order, which sounds more natural in English.

6 sn See the note on Pharisees in 5:17.

7 tn Note that the verb is second person plural (with an understood plural pronominal subject in Greek). The charge is again indirectly made against Jesus by charging the disciples.

8 sn The alleged violation expressed by the phrase what is against the law is performing work on the Sabbath. That the disciples ate from such a field is no problem given Deut 23:25, but Sabbath activity is another matter in the leaders’ view (Exod 20:8-11 and Mishnah, m. Shabbat 7.2). The supposed violation involved reaping, threshing, winnowing, and preparing food. This probably explains why the clause describing the disciples “rubbing” the heads of grain in their hands is mentioned last, in emphatic position. This was preparation of food.

9 tn Grk “And Jesus.” Here καί (kai) has not been translated because of differences between Greek and English style.

10 tn Grk “Jesus, answering them, said.” This is redundant in contemporary English and has been simplified to “Jesus answered them.”

11 tn Grk “and took.”

12 tn Grk “the bread of presentation.”

sn The sacred bread refers to the “bread of presentation,” “showbread,” or “bread of the Presence,” twelve loaves prepared weekly for the tabernacle and later, the temple. See Exod 25:30; 35:13; 39:36; Lev 24:5-9. Each loaf was made from 3 quarts (3.5 liters; Heb “two tenths of an ephah”) of fine flour. The loaves were placed on a table in the holy place of the tabernacle, on the north side opposite the lampstand (Exod 26:35). It was the duty of the priest each Sabbath to place fresh bread on the table; the loaves from the previous week were then given to Aaron and his descendants, who ate them in the holy place, because they were considered sacred (Lev 24:9). These were the loaves that David requested from Ahimelech for himself and his men (1 Sam 21:1-6; cf. also Matt 12:1-8; Mark 2:23-28).

13 sn Jesus’ response to the charge that what his disciples were doing was not lawful is one of analogy: ‘If David did it for his troops in a time of need, then so can I with my disciples.’ Jesus is clear that on the surface there was a violation here. What is not as clear is whether he is arguing a “greater need” makes this permissible or that this was within the intention of the law all along.

14 tc Most mss (א A D Θ Ë13 33 Ï) read “also” here, but this looks like it is a reading made to agree with Mark 2:26. A better combination of witnesses (B L W Ψ Ë1 lat sa) lacks the word “also.”

15 tc The Western ms D adds here a full saying that reads, “On the same day, as he saw someone working on the Sabbath he said, ‘Man, if you know what you are doing, you are blessed, but if you do not know, you are cursed and a violator of the law.’” Though this is not well enough attested to be considered authentic, many commentators have debated whether this saying might go back to Jesus. Most reject it, though it does have wording that looks like Rom 2:25, 27 and Jas 2:11.

sn See 1 Sam 21:1-6.

16 tn Here καί (kai) has been translated as “then” to indicate the implied sequence of events within the narrative.

17 tn The term “lord” is in emphatic position in the Greek text. To make this point even clearer a few mss add “also” before the reference to the Son of Man, while a few others add it before the reference to the Sabbath.

sn A second point in Jesus’ defense of his disciples’ actions was that his authority as Son of Man also allowed it, since as Son of Man he was lord of the Sabbath.

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