Thursday, April 14, 2005

Comfortable, Well-Fed, Happy and Well-Liked: the Woes of Luke Chapter Six

We read Luke chapter 6 and I found it quite convicting...So... Cathy and I read the Bible to each other. I suggested we go through Luke, then Acts. We read Acts chapter six the other night, and due to my misplacing of my PDA, I had to find my leather bible, which is a New American Standard Bible. Cathy uses the New International Version as her translation of choice. So, this reading was more interesting than others.

I was reading a section to Cathy, and in the NASB it reads:
24 "But woe to you who are rich, for you are receiving your comfort in full. 25 "Woe to you who are well-fed now, for you shall be hungry. Woe to you who laugh now, for you shall mourn and weep. 26 "Woe to you when all men speak well of you, for their fathers used to treat the false prophets in the same way.

While I was reading this, I thought to myself, "I'm rich, and I feel comfortable. That can't be good." I also thought, "I am well-fed right now, too." Finally, I thought, "Hm... I laugh often, and many people speak well of me."

It got me thinking, so I read Matthew chapter 5 the next day and found a few differences. Matthew speaks of the poor in spirit, and of those who hunger and thirst for righteousness. Matthew also has a few other "blessed are you" entries, and no woes. Luke chose to focus on a few blessings and included the contrasting woes.

Luke wrote to Theophilus, whom I assume was fairly well-off. I feel fairly well-off, even though money is tight. This has caused me a great deal of introspection. I am wondering, am I living according to the Gospel of Jesus Christ? It is not a question I like to ask myself... but I am awfully comfortable... where is the trouble the Jesus promised I would have the grace to bear?

As a curious sidenote, for comparison, the NIV reads:
24 “But woe to you who are rich, for you have already received your comfort. 25 Woe to you who are well fed now, for you will go hungry. Woe to you who laugh now, for you will mourn and weep. 26 Woe to you when all men speak well of you, for that is how their fathers treated the false prophets.

Pretty similar to the NASB, huh? The difference between the NIV, the NASB and others comes from how they divided the sections.
  • The NASB includes 6:20-44 as one section called The Beatitudes. The woes are in the first paragraph, which includes 6:20-26 and has the blessings and the woes.
  • The NIV has a section entitled Blessings and Woes from 6:17-26. The woes are part of a paragraph from verse 23-26, with an apparenty relation to the blessings of the previous paragraph.
  • The NLT has a separate section entitled Sorrows Foretold from 6:24-26.
  • The Message includes 6:24-42 as one section called Give Away Your Life with the woes displayed poetically as one paragraph in 6:24-25.

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