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SERMON ON THE PLAIN, THE definitions

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia

This title is sometimes given to the discourse recorded in Lu 6:20-49, because according to the Gospel (6:17) it was delivered on a plain at the foot of the mountain. In many respects this address resembles the one recorded in Mt 5-7, but in general the two are so different as to make it uncertain whether they are different reports of the same discourse or reports of different addresses given on different occasions.

See SERMON ON THE MOUNT.

1. The Occasion:

In contrast with the Sermon on the Mount which is assigned a place early in the Galilean ministry, and prior to the appointment of the Twelve, that event is represented as the occasion of this discourse. If the two accounts are reports of the same address the setting of Luke is probably the historical one.

2. Contents:

The Sermon of Luke includes a little less than one-third of the matter recorded in the Sermon on the Mount. The Lukan discourse includes only a portion of the Beatitudes, with a set of four "woes," a rather brief section on the social duties, and the concluding parable of the Two Houses.

3. Message:

The Gospel of Luke has been called the social Gospel because of its sympathy with the poor and its emphasis on the duty of kindliness of spirit. This social interest is especially prominent in the Sermon. Here the Beatitudes deal with social differences. In Matthew they refer to spiritual conditions. Here Jesus speaks of those who hunger now, probably meaning bodily hunger. In Matthew the reference is to hunger and thirst after righteousness. In Matthew the invectives are addressed against the self-satisfied religious teachers and their religious formalism. Here the rich and their unsocial spirit are the subject of the woes. This social interest is further emphasized by the fact that in addition to this social bearing of the Beatitudes, Luke's discourse omits the remainder of the Sermon on the Mount, except those portions that deal with social relations, such as those on the Golden Rule, the duty of universal love, the equality of servant and master, and the obligation of a charitable spirit.

Russell Benjamin Miller



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