Luke 6:36

ESV Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.
NIV Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.
NASB Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.
CSB Be merciful, just as your Father also is merciful.
NLT You must be compassionate, just as your Father is compassionate.
KJV Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful.

What does Luke 6:36 mean?

Jesus has finished His explanation of how His followers should love their enemies: how they should behave. He now transitions to how they should think about their enemies. This verse acts as a hinge between the two topics and applies to both. Previously, Jesus explained that our enemies may insult us, abuse us, and take our possessions, but we still need to be open to Christ's work in their lives. We need to be ready to actively see that their needs are met and not expect to be repaid (Luke 6:27–34).

Jesus explains why: "your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil" (Luke 6:35). If we are God's children, we will emulate Him. Since He blesses the evil as well as the good, we should, too (Matthew 5:45).

To be merciful means to have sincere concern for someone else, especially when they are suffering or disadvantaged. God showed His mercy by sending His Son to die for our sins, even though we were His enemies (John 3:16; Romans 5:10). God expects us to emulate Him by seeking after the welfare of those who oppose us.

Jesus transitions from our actions to our understanding. We should be very reluctant to assume we know our enemies' motives. We cannot perfectly know their relationship with God (1 Samuel 16:7). We don't have God's wisdom and insight into the lives of others. Jesus' disciples will still call out ungodly behavior, but we need to carefully ensure our own actions align with God's commands before we try to judge others (Luke 6:37–42). Matthew reflects this when recording Jesus saying, "You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect" (Matthew 5:48). To be "perfect" is to be complete, in this case in our merciful actions toward our enemies.

It's important to point out what this verse is not saying. The "enemies," here, are primarily those who persecute people who follow Christ (Luke 6:22). Nothing in this passage implies we should silently endure abuse from a violent spouse or other person in authority. Nor is it saying we must fulfill everyone's every need and want. Showing "mercy" can include calling the police, leaving to find a safe place, and choosing not to seek revenge while seeking further help.

Jesus said God was His Father, while in the temple at the age of twelve (Luke 2:49), but this is the first time Luke records Jesus saying God is His followers' Father, as well.
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