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How Similar is the Sermon in Luke 6:17–49 to the Sermon on the Mount?

The similarity of the Sermon on the Plateau in Luke to the Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 5:1–7:29) is remarkable. It is possible, of course, that Jesus simply preached the same sermon on more than one occasion. (It is evident that He often used the same material more than once—e.g., 12:58, 59; see Matt. 5:25, 26.) It appears more likely, however, that these are variant accounts of the same event. Luke’s version is abbreviated somewhat, because he omitted sections from the sermon that are uniquely Jewish (particularly Christ’s exposition of the law). Aside from that, the two sermons follow exactly the same flow of thought, beginning with the Beatitudes and ending with the parable about building on the rock. Differences in wording between the two accounts are undoubtedly owing to the fact that the sermon was originally delivered in Aramaic. Luke and Matthew translate into Greek with slight variances. Of course, both translations are equally inspired and authoritative.

Luke tells us the sermon was given on “a level place”(v. 17), after coming down from a mountain. In Matthew 5:1, it says “on a mountain.” These harmonize easily if Luke is referring to either a plateau or a level place on the mountainside. Indeed, there is such a place at the site near Capernaum where tradition says this sermon was delivered.

Luke’s account of the Beatitudes (vv. 20–23) is abbreviated (see Matt. 5:3–12). He lists only 4, and balances them with 4 parallel woes (vv. 24–26). One example of the difference in wording is in v. 20, “Blessed are you poor.” Christ’s concern for the poor and outcasts is one of Luke’s favorite themes. Luke used a personal pronoun (“you”) where Matthew 5:3 employed a definite article (“the”). Luke was underscoring the tender, personal sense of Christ’s words. A comparison of the two passages reveals that Christ was dealing with something more significant than mere material poverty and wealth, however. The poverty spoken of here refers primarily to a sense of one’s own spiritual impoverishment.

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