What does Luke 6:46 mean?
ESV: “Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you?
NIV: Why do you call me, 'Lord, Lord,' and do not do what I say?
NASB: Now why do you call Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say?
CSB: "Why do you call me 'Lord, Lord,' and don't do the things I say?
NLT: So why do you keep calling me ‘Lord, Lord!’ when you don’t do what I say?
KJV: And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?
Verse Commentary:
Jesus has been speaking to a great crowd. This throng includes His twelve apostles, many disciples, and Jews and Gentiles who have come for healing (Luke 6:17–19). He has finished explaining that His followers will be persecuted by the world but that they need to forgive and bless their enemies (Luke 6:20–36). He then explained two general attributes that should describe His followers. First, they ought to be diligent to consider their own sins before they judge others (Luke 6:37–42). Second, their good hearts should produce good works (Luke 6:43–45).

This is the third standard to which Jesus' followers should be held: they base their lives on His commands.

Much of the Sermon on the Plain has to do with speaking, including cursing, blessing, praying, and teaching. Jesus has explained that what we say expresses what is in our hearts. Here, He talks about careless speech that does not necessarily come from the heart. "Lord" is from the Greek root word kurios. In general, it means a ruler—often one that is deified; Luke isn't referring to Jesus as Savior although Matthew's parallel does (Matthew 7:21). To call Jesus "Lord, Lord" but reject what He says creates a disconnect between heart and speech.

This verse brings up the controversial relationship between salvation and good works. Some present this conundrum as a choice between Paul's salvation by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8–9) and James' note that faith without works is "dead" (James 2:17). This question is often mis-stated as, "How much do we need to obey Jesus in order to be saved?" The truth is that obedience is not what saves—rather, salvation produces obedience. Judging "how much" obedience accurately reflects salvation is the difficult part. At one end is "easy-believe-ism" which teaches that someone merely needs to say a prayer to be saved. At the other end are the hyper-legalistic denominations that insist a true Christian rarely sins and can lose their salvation if they do.

What is usually missed in the conversation is Ephesians 2:10: "For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them." The sequence is God's grace, our faith, our repentance, our works, all of which are powered and led by the Holy Spirit. In the simplest terms, "repentance" means a person agreeing that Jesus is right and they are wrong—and that they don't want to live like that anymore. Works are our obedience to Christ. Both are nebulous, ever-growing responses to salvation, but they are always present. If there is no repentance and no works—no obedience—then there was no faith and no grace.

This is especially easy to misunderstand because of the Bible's emphasis on good works. Nevertheless, Jesus makes the distinction for the crowd: do they call Him "Lord" because He heals them or because they want to base their lives on His words (Luke 6:40)? Later, He will scold a crowd that doesn't care that He fulfills the signs of the Messiah—they just like that He can make food come out of nowhere (John 6:26).

At the time Jesus spoke these words, eternal salvation through Christ wasn't fully explained or understood, even by the twelve apostles. Jesus is challenging the crowd to commit to what He commands: accept that following Him will bring persecution and forgive their abusers. He promises that if they do this, their lives will be firmly established no matter what hardships they face (Luke 6:47–49).
Verse Context:
Luke 6:46–49 records Jesus' call for general discipleship. He has chosen the Twelve out of His enormous number of followers (Luke 6:12–16). He revealed some difficult things that He expects of His people, including forgiving their enemies (Luke 6:17–42). To do so requires a good heart (Luke 6:43–45). Now He extends an invitation to the crowd to build their lives on the sure foundation of His words. This concludes the Sermon on the Plain. Next is a series of stories about Jesus' relationships with the other, including a Gentile and several women (Luke 7:1—8:3).
Chapter Summary:
Luke 6 contains two main sections of teaching and calls to discipleship. Luke 6:1–16 continues the pattern of Luke 5. The two ways in which Jesus sets aside tradition—this time by taking authority over the Sabbath—are paired with His call for the Twelve disciples. Luke 6:17–49 records Jesus' teaching on the ''level place,'' or His ''Sermon on the Plain,'' and a call to a crowd for general discipleship. Much of this material has parallels in Matthew 5 through 7, but it's not clear if the two accounts are of the same event. As a travelling teacher, Christ likely gave the same general message multiple times.
Chapter Context:
Luke 6 completes Jesus' call for disciples and followers that started in Luke 5. Luke 5:1—6:16 consists of three calls for disciples, each paired with two revolutionary teachings about Jesus' authority that increasingly infuriate the religious leaders. Luke 6:17–49 continues the theme with a general call for followers and a description of their responsibilities. In Luke 7:1—8:3, Jesus interacts with the other: Gentiles, women, and even the dead. This is followed by another general call (Luke 8:4–21), a series of miracles (Luke 8:22—9:17), and a final call for the Twelve to follow Him even more deeply (Luke 9:18–50).
Book Summary:
Luke was a traveling companion of Paul (Acts 16:10) and a physician (Colossians 4:14). Unlike Matthew, Mark, and John, Luke writes his gospel as an historian, rather than as a first-hand eyewitness. His extensive writings also include the book of Acts (Acts 1:1–3). These are deliberately organized, carefully researched accounts of those events. The gospel of Luke focuses on the earthly ministry of Jesus Christ. Luke's Gentile perspective presents Christ as a Savior for all people, offering both forgiveness and direction to those who follow Him.
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