Confused About Luke 6


I’m struggling to understand Luke 6:

27 But I say to you that hear: Love your enemies, do good to them that hate you.

28 Bless them that curse you, and pray for them that calumniate you.

29 And to him that striketh thee on the one cheek, offer also the other. And him that taketh away from thee thy cloak, forbid not to take thy coat also.

30 Give to every one that asketh thee, and of him that taketh away thy goods, ask them not again.

I understand up to Luke 6:28 but I am confused about Luke 6:29. What is Jesus trying to say?


It’s about agape, Christian love. What follows is a paragraph from G.B. Caird’s commentary on Luke. Caird is a Congregationalist theologian, but I imagine a Catholic writer would say much the same in this case.

The Greek language has three words for love, which enable us to distinguish Christian love (agape) from passionate devotion (eros) and warm affection (philia). Jesus did not tell his disciples to fall in love with their enemies or to feel for them as they feel for their families and friends. Agape is a gracious, determined, and active interest in the true welfare of others, which is not deterred even by hatred, cursing, and abuse, not limited by calculation of deserts or results, based solely on the nature of God. Love does not retaliate (vv. 27-31), seeks no reward (vv. 32-36), is not censorious (vv. 37-38).


(paraphrasing from the Ignatius study Bible)

It’s about loving your enemies and not seeking personal revenge.

If someone (like a Roman) took their cloak (outer garment), they would not refuse to be robbed of their coat (inner garment) as well. In the face of oppression, Christ’s followers must not seek retaliation, even under personal abuse and mistreatment, allowing themselves to suffer as Christ did, for His sake.

32 But recall the former days when, after you were enlightened, you endured a hard struggle with sufferings, 33 sometimes being publicly exposed to reproach and affliction, and sometimes being partners with those so treated. 34 For you had compassion on those in prison, and you joyfully accepted the plundering of your property, since you knew that you yourselves had a better possession and an abiding one. Heb 10:32-34

See also 1 Cor 6:1-7 about not going to the law to seek retribution.

Also, remember how it relates to the Sermon on the Mount.

Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account.
Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you. Matt 5:10-12


The posts from @bartholomewb and @showerofroses are great responses.
Another idea you might want to consider in reading of this saying, is that agapē is the love that God has for us. When we demand from God and sin against (strike) God then Does not refuse us or strike back at us.


I think what makes this so darn hard is it’s the opposite of what we’re taught in our society and our instinct. If we’re struck by someone, we might be inclined to defend ourselves or retaliate rather than say, “Here, you missed a spot.”

I don’t believe the Lord was teaching us sarcasm here, but if you look at it through that lens, there might be a teaching moment. If you told me, “Here, you missed a spot.”, I might rethink the effect of my actions and begin to consider you - which I obviously wasn’t thinking of you before if I had the audacity to strike you. Nonetheless, that is the desired outcome - that I reconsider your personhood, your deserved respect as a fellow human being. Your calm, peaceful response would do more to exhibit and teach by example than any revenge or other recourse would ever accomplish.

It’s along the same lines as why we’re supposed to forgive those who have harmed us. Holding on to any anger or ill-will feelings, etc. harms us as much or more than them.


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