TWH: The SOP discourse unit is found in Luke 6:12–49. The first eight verses are introductory (6:12–19). Luke 6:12–16 contains the selection of twelve of Jesus’ disciples and their naming as apostles (6:13). Luke 6:17–19 sets the stage for Jesus’ teaching, which accomplishes three purposes:
1. It identifies where the teaching takes place (6:17, ἐπὶ τόπου πεδινοῦ of the mountain/hill [τὸ ὄρος] mentioned in 6:12). By the way, claims of any symbolism intended by Luke’s use of τόπου πεδινοῦ and τὸ ὄρος (i.e., that the mountain/hill represents “vertical, divine/human communication” and the level place represents “horizontal human-to-human communication”) are unwarranted (Nickle, Preaching the Gospel of Luke, 64). Luke’s use strictly continues the narrative offering a geographical reference that connects the material to Matthew’s Sermon on the Mount.
2. It specifies who is present for the teaching. The audience consists of three groups. The first group is marked by the pronoun αὐτῶν (6:17), whose antecedent is the Twelve (δώδεκα) who Jesus named as apostles (ἀποστόλους). The second group is the larger group of Jesus’ disciples (ὄχλος πολὺς μαθητῶν αὐτοῦ). The third group consists of an even greater number of people traveling from Judea in the south and from coastal regions north of Galilee.
3. It explains why the latter group traveled to where Jesus was. The main clause marked by the relative pronoun reveals two reasons: (1) to hear Jesus teach (ἀκοῦσαι αὐτοῦ), and (2) to be healed (ἰαθῆναι) by him.Following a brief transition (6:20a), Luke’s account of Jesus’ teaching begins (i.e., the sermon proper). The sermon proper consists of three discourse units (Kingsbury, Conflict in Luke, 113). The first unit (6:20b–26) contains Jesus’ pronouncement of blessings (μακάριοι) and woes (οὐαί), consisting of four each. The second unit (6:27–38) records Jesus’ commands for kingdom-living supplemented with different rhetorical questions. The final unit (6:39–49), marked by the phrase that has puzzled some (εἶπεν δὲ καὶ παραβολὴ αὐτοῖς, 6:39a), consists of a series of sagacious illustrations ultimately followed by Jesus’ call for everyone to come to him, hear his words, and act on them (6:46–49). That Luke intends a new unit of thought here is clear because of his narrative insertion, the only such insertion in the sermon proper, and, as David L. Tiede points out, the change in “the kind of sayings material.” Even though a new unit begins, the content that follows logically flows from Jesus’ commands in vv. 35–38:
1. Love, do good, and lend (v. 35).
2. Be merciful (v. 36).
3. Do not judge or condemn, and pardon (v. 37).
4. Give (v. 38).Michel Gourgues (Luc, de l’Exégèse à la Prédication, 40) shows how this formula is used to illustrate preceding material when there is no indication of a change in setting or time. The climax of the SOP will specify how someone can carry out Jesus’ commands, be children of the Most High (ἔσεσθε υἱοὶ ὑψίστου, 6:35), and be just like (καθώς) their heavenly Father (6:36) by coming to Jesus, hearing his words, and actually doing what he says.
This third and final unit in the sermon proper is best divided into two subunits: (1) 6:39–45, and (2) 6:46–49. Others divide the unit at different points, such as: 6:39–40, 6:41–42, 6:43–45, and 6:46–49.28 Nevertheless, the aforementioned division best subdivides the unit. Verses 39, 40, and 41–42 each concentrate on different types of persons and the effect that they have on another. In 6:39 it is the relationship of a blind person with another blind person; in 6:40 it is the relationship of a teacher with his or her student; in 6:41–42, it is the relationship of two brothers, who each have something in their eye. The first two subunits are addressed in the third person. Jesus switches to the second-person singular in 6:41–42 with two questions. The first question asks “why?” (τί) and the second asks “how?” (πῶς). This subunit concludes with four uses of γάρ (6:43–45). The second subdivision is marked by the switch to the first-person singular followed by the clearest material representative of παραβολή in the unit.