Blind Leading the Blind: What Does Luke 6:39 Mean?

Luke 6:39, “And he spake a parable unto them, Can the blind lead the blind? shall they not both fall into the ditch?” King James Version (KJV)

TranslationLuke 6:39
ESVHe also told them a parable: “Can a blind man lead a blind man? Will they not both fall into a pit?
NASBAnd He also spoke a parable to them: “A blind man cannot guide a blind man, can he? Will they not both fall into a pit?
NIVHe also told them this parable: “Can the blind lead the blind? Will they not both fall into a pit?
NLTThen Jesus gave the following illustration: “Can one blind person lead another? Won’t they both fall into a ditch?

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Blind Leading the Blind: Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary

6:37-49 All these sayings Christ often used; it was easy to apply them. We ought to be very careful when we blame others; for we need allowance ourselves. If we are of a giving and a forgiving spirit, we shall ourselves reap the benefit.

Though full and exact returns are made in another world, not in this world, yet Providence does what should encourage us in doing good. Those who follow the multitude to do evil, follow in the broad way that leads to destruction.

The tree is known by its fruits; may the word of Christ be so grafted in our hearts, that we may be fruitful in every good word and work. And what the mouth commonly speaks, generally agrees with what is most in the heart.

Those only make sure work for their souls and eternity, and take the course that will profit in a trying time, who think, speak, and act according to the words of Christ.

Those who take pains in religion, found their hope upon Christ, who is the Rock of Ages, and other foundation can no man lay. In death and judgment they are safe, being kept by the power of Christ through faith unto salvation, and they shall never perish.

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Luke 6:39 | Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary

Verse 39. – And he spake a parable unto them. St. Luke closes his report of the great sermon with four little parables taken from everyday life.

With these pictures drawn from common life, the Master purposed to bring home to the hearts of the men and women listening to him the solemn warnings he had just been enunciating.

They – if they would be his followers – must indeed refrain from ever setting up themselves as judges of others. “See,” he went on to say, “I will show you what ruin this wicked, ungenerous practice will result in: listen to me.”

Can the blind lead the blind? shall they not both fall into the ditch? It is not improbable that some of the links in the Master’s argument here have been omitted by St. Luke; still, the connection of this saying and what follows, with the preceding grave warning against the bitter censorious spirit which had exercised so fatal an influence on religious teaching in Israel, is clear.

The figure of the blind man setting himself up as a guide was evidently in the Lord’s mind as a fair representation of the present thought-leaders of the people (the Pharisees). This is evident from the imagery of the beam and mote which follows (vers. 41, 42).

Can these blind guides lead others more ignorant and blind too? What is the natural result? he asks; will not destruction naturally overtake the blind leader and the blind led? Both will, of course, end by falling into the ditch.

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Daniel Isaiah Joseph

Daniel's seminary degree is in Exegetical Theology. He was a pastor for 10 years. As a professor, he has taught Bible and theology courses at two Christian universities. Please see his About page for details.

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