Luke 6:26:Another Negative Prophecy About Paul?
Jesus in Luke 6:26 says:
Woe to you when everyone speaks well of you, for that is how their ancestors treated the false prophets. (Luke 6:26 NIV)
Barnes' Commentary explains what this means in its context:
When they shall praise or applaud you. The people of the world will not praise or applaud "my" doctrine; they are "opposed" to it, and therefore, if they speak well of "you" and of "your teachings," it is proof that you do not teach the true doctrine. (See Biblos.)
So Paul's doctrines come to mind -- virtually everyone speaks well of them. Hence, by what Jesus says, this means Paul teaches false doctrine.
Is Barnes' reading correct? It would be if the word "everyone" is correct. Gill, however, suggests "everyone" is not present, and thus this should be read as only when "bad men" praise you are you thus a false teacher. Gill says the following:
Woe unto you when all men shall speak well of you!.... The word "all", is left out in the Vulgate Latin, Syriac, Arabic; Persic: and Ethiopic versions, and is wanting in many copies, though it is in the Alexandrian copy; and the meaning is, it looks ill in persons, when the men of the world, wicked men, all of them, or the greater part of them, applaud and commend them; for this can never be, if they are truly religious persons, and are faithful to their principles, and upright in their practices; and do not connive at, or comply with the errors and evil ways of wicked men; for it is no bad sign, to have the good word of good men, and therefore these must be excepted, and the passage must be limited to bad men; for so did their fathers to the false prophets; they spoke well of them, and heaped favours, riches, and honours upon them, that they might prophesy unto them things; 1 Kings 22:6, smooth things and deceit. (Bible.cc)
I don't think Gill proved his case. Gill is saying in this variant of Luke 6:26 that it reads "men" not "all men." This variant does not change the implication that a sign you are a false teacher is that "everyone" speaks well of you ... meaning the vast majority of men speak well of you. Whether it say "men" or "everyone" does not change that the sign of evil doctrine is how popular it becomes. I would even say the more your message is designed to appeal to greater numbers -- such as a costless salvation, eternal security, predestination to evil (not your fault, but the 'sin in me' is to blame) -- is proof that you are a false teacher. And this squarely then becomes another prophetic message about Paul and Paulinism.
Indeed, even Gill agrees that it still implies "men of the world, wicked men, all of them, or the greater part of them." Only if men necessarily means only "wicked men" would Gil's variant have any proof of a narrower meaning than "all men." Gill then goes on to minimize Jesus' words by reading such a limitation into Jesus' words. This step was illogical and unjustified. Gill concludes that Jesus' meaning must be limited to "bad men" because "the good word of good men" supposedly cannot possibly be what Jesus is prohibiting.
But Gill's argument represents a false set of choices. There is a third option: there are also good smooth sounding words of good men who are deceived by false doctrine, and are thus false teachers, despite their sincerity, good deeds, and even signs and wonders. The choice is not so stark as between good and bad men.
In fact, people with signs and wonders who are judged by appearances as 'good' are depicted by Jesus as potentially deceiving the very elect by the same manner as false prophets of old. Those prophets, as we shall prove below, taught a license from the Law given Moses, beginning with Balaam and down to the prophets in Micah's day. Thus, Jesus intends to warn us away from an apparently good religous leader(s) who claims to be prophets (not wicked men) whom we erroneously judge by appearance, and who gives us a popular message that God's Law is annulled, and we are thereby seduced from God's truth into disobedience. So apparently good people can deceive us good people who as a result are no longer truly good in God's eyes. Jesus is not talking that only notoriously evil people will praise the false prophets.
When we study below what Jesus meant by referring to the "false prophets" of old to whom Jesus referred, we will realize that Gill and others must realize they need to explain Luke 6:26 in such a way that our minds are not piqued to ask whether Luke 6:26 has its arrow pointed directly at Paul.
So the true question is whether Luke 6:26 is Jesus talking again about Paul because Jesus refers to the historical examples of the false prophets who "men" spoke well about.
Who Were The False Prophets Of Old That Received the Praise of Men
Who were prior examples of false prophets? And what group gave praise to them? It turns out that many times religious or community authorities -- whom those who judge by appearances assume are very good people -- were spoken about as promoting false prophets -- they spoke highly of them. Why did they do so? Because these self-proclaimed leaders and 'prophets' either promised peace, a repentance-free salvation, or a freedom from the Mosaic Law (Korah's Rebellion). Jamison says Jesus is "alluding to the court paid to the false prophets of old (Mic 2:11)."
True indeed. So let's look at Micah 2:11 which reads:
Suppose a prophet full of lies would say to you,
“I’ll preach to you the joys of wine and alcohol!”
That’s just the kind of prophet you would like! (Micah 2:11 NLT)
Indeed, in Micah it is quite clear what people want to hear -- a righteous free life with no care for any pending evil repaid:
But this is what the Lord says:
“I will reward your evil with evil;
you won’t be able to pull your neck out of the noose.
You will no longer walk around proudly,
for it will be a terrible time.”
True and False Prophets
In Micah 2:6, you realize the people disliked another set of prophets who warned that God's punishment would come on them for their behavior, just like Jesus warned you can go to heaven "maimed" (by repentance) or not at all. So this precedes verse 11 above:
6 “Don’t say such things,”
the people respond.
“Don’t prophesy like that.
Such disasters will never come our way!”
Thus, Jesus is warning the apostles to be on guard if the religious world / community speaks well of someone -- then check if their doctrines match similarly those of the earlier false prophets, in which case Woe! We risk damnation if we are preaching the same gospel of the false prophets -- a lawless licentious promise of God's blessings despite our sin.
So if you are preaching to others that God does not punish their evil, and they are safe from God's wrath if they do so, or no disaster will befall them, you are preaching as the false prophets did before you. The world will always flock and make prophets of those who preach God is only a God of mercy, and has no judgment.
Therefore, who more than Paul is perceived by nearly everyone -- friend and foe -- to promote this mercy-only God whose "love" is never separated from us no matter what? Hence, Jesus's "Woe" appears as another remark prefiguring a warning to us of the archetype teacher of a lawless mercy-only teaching. It was this same doctrine which marked the earlier false prophets / apostates of the Bible.