Next Luke had the Lord Jesus curse the Pharisees the way that Matthew had done. Jesus said woe to them, the Pharisees (ἀλλὰ οὐαὶ ὑμῖν τοῖς Φαρισαίοις)! They had paid their tithes (ὅτι ἀποδεκατοῦτε) of mint (τὸ ἡδύοσμον), rue (καὶ τὸ πήγανον), and every kind of herb (καὶ πᾶν λάχανον). However, they had neglected (καὶ παρέρχεσθε) justice (τὴν κρίσιν) and the love of God (καὶ τὴν ἀγάπην τοῦ Θεοῦ). They ought to practice these things (ταῦτα δὲ ἔδει ποιῆσαι), without neglecting the other things (κἀκεῖνα μὴ παρεῖναι). This is like Matthew, chapter 23:23, where Jesus cursed the Pharisees and the Scribes. Matthew indicated that Jesus said woe to them because of their insistence on tithing. He blamed them for their concern about the tithing of the various aromatic spices of mint, dill, and cumin plants, instead of the more serious matters of the law. Thus, they neglected, the serious practice of justice, mercy, and faith. They should have spent more time on these issues without neglecting the other things. This seemed like a critique of misplaced priorities, with their legalistic sense of tithing being more important than justice, mercy, faith, and the Mosaic law itself. Luke had almost the same critique here, but the tithing herbs are slightly different. He also wanted their concerns to be about justice and God’s love. Otherwise the critique was pretty much the same. Do you neglect justice and mercy in your life?
Luke got personal. He said that after he had investigated or became acquainted with everything from the very first (παρηκολουθηκότι ἄνωθεν πᾶσιν). In other words, Luke had studied these issues. He, or as he wrote, it seemed good to him (ἔδοξε κἀμοὶ), decided to write an orderly careful account (ἀκριβῶς καθεξῆς σοι γράψαι) to the most excellent Theophilus (κράτιστε Θεόφιλε). Luke used the second personal singular to address Theophilus as “you”. Who was this Theophilus? The name means literally, lover or friend of God. This may be a name to include all people who love or are friendly with God. However, it may also be a highly literate Christian Roman official, since he is called most excellent (κράτιστε), which is a title of honor. In any case, the Acts of the Apostles, chapter 1:1, was also addressed to him. Most of the educated Romans were fluent in Greek.
Like Luke, chapter 11,42, Jesus continued to curse the Pharisees and the Scribes, much like earlier in verses 13, 14, and 15. The first part of this diatribe is exactly the same as those earlier verses of Matthew. Woe to you (Οὐαὶ ὑμῖν)! Scribes (γραμματεῖς)! Woe to you! Pharisees (καὶ Φαρισαῖοι)! Hypocrites (ὑποκριταί)! There is no doubt that here Jesus was cursing the Scribes and the Pharisees. This time it was their insistence on tithing. He blamed them for their concern about the tithing of the various aromatic spices of mint, dill, and cumin plants (ὅτι ἀποδεκατοῦτε τὸ ἡδύοσμον καὶ τὸ ἄνηθον καὶ τὸ κύμινον), instead of more serious matters of the law (καὶ ἀφήκατε τὰ βαρύτερα τοῦ νόμου). Thus, they neglected, the serious practice of justice (τὴν κρίσιν), mercy (καὶ τὸ ἔλεος), and faith (καὶ τὴν πίστιν). They should have spent more time on these issues (ταῦτα δὲ ἔδει ποιῆσαι κἀκεῖνα) without neglecting the other things (μὴ ἀφεῖναι). This seemed like a critique of misplaced priorities with their legalistic sense of tithing being more important than justice, mercy, faith, and the Mosaic law.
Why is there less discipline among Protestants on certain issues? The main reason is that they believe in the testimony of the Holy Spirit. Thus, some Methodists and Episcopalians are divided on the issue of homosexual unions and the role of openly gay ministers. Lutherans have the Augsburg Confession of 1530 and the Anglicans have their Westminster Confession of 1646. Otherwise most Protestant denominations do not emphasize dogmatic rectitude, but rather contact with God, Jesus, and the good moral life.