Bible Commentaries

Cambridge Greek Testament for Schools and Colleges

Luke 12

Verse 1

1. ἐν οἷς ἐπισυναχθεισῶν τῶν μυριάδων τοῦ ὄχλου. ‘Meanwhile (i.e. during the troubled scene inside the Pharisee’s house), when the myriads of the multitude had suddenly assembled.’ It is evident that the noise of this disgraceful attack on our Lord had been heard. This scene was as it were the watershed of our Lord’s ministry in Galilee. At this period He had excited intense opposition among the religious authorities, but was still beloved and revered by the people. They therefore flocked together for His protection, and their arrival hushed the unseemly and hostile vehemence of the Pharisees. The expression ‘myriads’ is obviously an hyperbole, as in Acts 21:20 (Vulg[260] multis turbis).

ὥστε καταπατεῖν ἀλλήλους. Literally, ‘trod one another down.’

ἤρξατο λέγειν. The words seem to imply a specially solemn and important discourse.

πρὸς τοὺς μαθητὰς αὐτοῦ, Πρῶτον προσέχετε ἑαυτοῖς. ‘To His disciples, Beware first of all of,’ &c. Though the Greek text is punctuated otherwise, it seems best to take the πρῶτον with the following verb as in Luke 9:61, Luke 10:5. ‘As your first duty beware,’ &c. The construction προσέχετε ἀπὸ is unclassical and is only found in Matthew and Luke.

τῆς ζύμης. See for comment Matthew 16:12; Mark 8:15.

Verses 1-12


Verses 1-59

CHAPS. Luke 9:51 to Luke 18:31

This section forms a great episode in St Luke, which may be called the departure for the final conflict, and is identical with the journey (probably to the Feast of the Dedication, John 10:22) which is partially touched upon in Matthew 18:1 to Matthew 20:16 and Mark 10:1-31. It contains many incidents recorded by this Evangelist alone, and though the recorded identifications of time and place are vague, yet they all point (Luke 9:51, Luke 13:22, Luke 17:11, Luke 10:38) to a slow, solemn, and public progress from Galilee to Jerusalem, of which the events themselves are often grouped by subjective considerations. So little certain is the order of the separate incidents, that one writer (Rev. W. Stewart) has made an ingenious attempt to shew that it is determined by the alphabetic arrangement of the leading Greek verbs (ἀγαπᾶν, Luke 10:25-42; αἰτεῖν, Luke 11:1-5; Luke 11:8-13, &c.). Canon Westcott arranges the order thus: The Rejection of the Jews foreshewn; Preparation, Luke 9:43 to Luke 11:13; Lessons of Warning, Luke 11:14 to Luke 13:9; Lessons of Progress, Luke 13:10 to Luke 14:24; Lessons of Discipleship, Luke 14:25 to Luke 17:10; the Coming End, Luke 17:10 to Luke 18:30.

The order of events after ‘the Galilaean spring’ of our Lord’s ministry on the plain of Gennesareth seems to have been this: After the period of flight among the heathen or in countries which were only semi-Jewish, of which almost the sole recorded incident is the healing of the daughter of the Syrophoenician woman (Matthew 15:21-28) He returned to Peraea and fed the four thousand. He then sailed back to Gennesareth, but left it in deep sorrow on being met by the Pharisees with insolent demands for a sign from heaven. Turning His back once more on Galilee, He again travelled northwards; healed a blind man at Bethsaida Julias; received St Peter’s great confession on the way to Caesarea Philippi; was transfigured; healed the demoniac boy; rebuked the ambition of the disciples by the example of the little child; returned for a brief rest in Capernaum, during which occurred the incident of the Temple Tax; then journeyed to the Feast of Tabernacles, in the course of which journey occurred the incidents so fully narrated by St John (John 7:1 to John 10:21). The events and teachings in this great section of St Luke seem to belong mainly, if not entirely, to the two months between the hasty return of Jesus to Galilee and His arrival in Jerusalem, two months afterwards, at the Feast of Dedication;—a period respecting which St Luke must have had access to special sources of information.

For fuller discussion of the question I must refer to my Life of Christ, II. 89–150.

Verse 2

2. οὐδὲν δέ. Not “for nothing” as in A. V[261]; ‘but’ (unless with א we omit the δὲ altogether). This whole discourse, in its vividness and compression, and the apparent abruptness of some of its causal connexions indicates the tumult of emotion through which our Lord had been passing in the last trying scene. The line of thought is—‘Hypocrisy aims at concealment; but,’ &c. Hypocrisy is not only sinful but useless.

συγκεκαλυμμένονἀποκαλυφθήσεται. Literally, ‘veiled over … unveiled.’ You will be made responsible for any part of my teaching which you conceal or keep back.

Verse 3

3. ἀνθ' ὧν. ‘Wherefore,’ comp. ἀντὶ τούτου, ‘therefore,’ Ephesians 5:31; it means ‘because’ in Luke 1:20, Luke 19:44.

ὅσα ἐν τῇ σκοτίᾳ εἴπατε. The ἐν σκοτίᾳ here means ‘in obscurity.’ The application of the similar language in Matthew 10:26; Mark 4:22, is different. See Luke 8:17.

ἐν τοῖς ταμείοις. Literally, ‘in the treasuries or storehouses,’ i.e. in closed, secret places. Matthew 6:6; Matthew 26:26.

ἐπὶ τῶν δωμάτων. In the most public places of resort, so as to be heard in the streets below.

Verse 4

4. τοῖς φίλοις μου. John 15:14-15, “Henceforth I call you not servants … but friends.” The term comes the more naturally and pathetically because Jesus had just been in the thick of enemies.

μὴ φοβηθῆτε ἀπό. Be not afraid of anything which can come from them. This construction is only found in the LXX[262] and N. T., and is a Hebraism (v. Schleusner s. v.). For similar thoughts see Jeremiah 1:8; Isaiah 51:12-13.

ἀποκτεννόντων. This is an Aeolic form which became common in Hellenistic Greek (Tobit 1:18; Wisdom of Solomon 16:14). So we find σπέῤῥω for σπείρω.

μετὰ ταῦτα μὴ ἐχόντων περισσότερόν τι ποιῆσαι. The same truth was an encouragement to the partially illuminated fortitude of Stoicism. Hence it constantly occurs in the Manual of Epictetus.

Verse 5

5. τίνα φοβηθῆτε. The indirect interrogative is sometimes expressed by the subjunctive, as in Matthew 8:20, οὐκ ἔχει ποῦ κλίνῃ: Romans 8:26, οὐκ οἴδαμεν τί προσευξώμεθα. Comp. Luke 19:48, Luke 22:2.

φοβήθητε τὸν μετὰ τὸ ἀποκτεῖναι, κ.τ.λ. Many commentators have understood this expression of the devil, and one of the Fathers goes so far as to say that it is the only passage in the Bible in which we cannot be certain whether God or Satan is intended. There can, however, be no doubt that the reference is to God. If “fear” ever meant ‘be on your guard against,’ the other view might be tenable, but there is no instance of such a meaning, and we are bidden to defy and resist the devil, but never to fear him; nor are we ever told that he has any power to cast into Gehenna.

εἰς τὴν γέενναν. ‘Into Gehenna.’ It is a deep misfortune that our English Version has made no consistent difference of rendering between ‘the place of the dead,’ ‘the intermediate state between death and resurrection’ (Hades, Sheol), and Gehenna, which is sometimes metaphorically used (as here) for a place of punishment after death. Gehenna was a purely Hebrew word, and corresponded primarily to purely Hebrew conceptions. Our Lord (if He spoke Greek) did not attempt to represent it by any analogous, but imperfectly equivalent, Greek term, like Tartarus (see 2 Peter 2:4), and certainly the Apostles and Evangelists did not. They simply transliterated the Hebrew term (גי הנם, Gê Hinnom, Valley of Hinnom) into Greek letters. It is surely a plain positive duty to follow so clear an example, and not to render Gehenna by English terms which cannot connote exactly the same conceptions. The Valley of Hinnom, or of the Sons of Hinnom (Joshua 15:8; Joshua 18:16; 2 Kings 23:10; Jeremiah 7:31), was a pleasant valley outside Jerusalem, which had first been rendered infamous by Moloch worship; then defiled by Josiah with corpses; and lastly kept from putrefaction by large fires to consume the corpses and prevent pestilence. Milton describes it with his usual learned accuracy:

“First Moloch, horrid king, besmeared with blood

Of human sacrifice, and parents’ tears;

Though for the noise of drums and timbrels loud

Their children’s cries unheard that passed through fire

To his grim idol …

and made his grove

The pleasant Valley of Hinnom, Tophet thence

And black Gehenna called, the type of Hell.”

Par. Lost, I. 392.

Tophet is derived from the word Toph, ‘a drum’ (compare τύπτω, dub, thump, &c.).

Verse 6

6. οὐχὶ πέντε στρουθία πωλοῦνται ἀσσαρίων δύο; St Matthew says ‘two sparrows for one farthing.’ The little birds were sold in the markets strung together, or on skewers. The varying expressions of St Matthew and St Luke lead us to the interesting fact that if five were bought one was thrown in, which still more forcibly proves how insignificant was the value of the sparrows; yet even that unvalued odd one was not “forgotten before God.” The word for “farthings” is ἀσσάρια (from as) as in Matthew 10:29); St Mark writing for Romans more accurately uses κοδράντης (quadrans), Luke 12:42.

ἐνώπιον. ‘In the sight of.’ The word is not used in the other Synoptists, and only once in St John, but is common in St Luke and St Paul.

Verse 7

7. καὶ αἱ τρίχες τῆς κεφαλῆς ὑμῶν. See Luke 21:18; Acts 27:34; and in the O. T. 1 Samuel 14:45; 1 Kings 1:52.

διαφέρετε. The verb means [1] to differ; [2] to transcend. Matthew 12:12.

Verse 8

8. ὁμολογήσῃ ἐν ἐμοί. We have the same idiom in Matthew 10:32. It resembles a Hebrew phrase. Psalms 32:5.

ἔμπροσθεν τῶν ἀγγέλων τοῦ θεοῦ. Compare Luke 9:26. “Before my Father which is in heaven,” Matthew 10:32.

Verse 10

10. ἀφεθήσεται αὐτῷ. Thus our Lord prayed even for His murderers. This large rich promise is even further amplified in Matthew 12:31. It is the sign of a dispensation different from that of Moses, Leviticus 24:16.

τῷ δὲ εἰς τὸ ἅγιον Πνεῦμα βλασφημήσαντι. The other passages in which mention is made of this awful ‘unpardonable sin’ and of the “blasphemy against the Holy Ghost” are Matthew 12:31-32; Mark 3:29-30; 1 John 5:16. The latter sin is expressly declared to be closely connected with the attributing of Christ’s miracles to Beel-zebul. On the exact nature of the ‘unpardonable sin’ theologians have speculated in vain, and all that we can see is that it must be the most flagrant degree of sin against the fullest light and knowledge.

οὐκ ἀφεθήσεται. St Matthew adds ‘neither in this age (or ‘this dispensation’), nor in the age to come’ (the ‘future dispensation,’ i.e. the dispensation of the Messianic kingdom). The two terms ‘this aeon’ and ‘the future aeon’ are of constant occurrence in Rabbinic literature. The passage—if it means more than ‘in either dispensation’—proves, as St Augustine says, that some would be forgiven if not in this life yet in the next (De Civ. Dei, XXI. 24).

Verse 11

11. ἐπὶ τὰς συναγωγὰς καὶ τὰς ἀρχὰς καὶ τὰς ἐξουσίας. The “synagogues” were the small Jewish tribunals of synagogue officials in every town, which had the power of inflicting scourging for minor religious offences. “Magistrates” and “powers” are the superior authorities Jewish or Gentile. “Magistrates” comes from the Vulg[263] magistratus, through Wyclif.

μὴ μεριμνήσητε. ‘Be not anxiously careful.’

πῶς ἢ τί. I.e. about either the manner and line, or the phraseology of your defence.

Verse 12

12. τὸἅγιον Πνεῦμα διδάξει ὑμᾶς. A similar promise had been given to Moses, Exodus 4:12-15; see Luke 21:15. For fulfilments of the promise, see Acts 6:8; Acts 6:10 (St Stephen); 2 Timothy 4:17 (St Paul), &c.

αὐτῇ τῇ ὥρᾳ. Not “in the same hour” (as in A.V[264]) but “in that very hour.” This is St Luke’s more emphatic phrase for the τῇ ὥρᾳ ἐκείνῃ of the other Gospels.

Verse 13

13. διδάσκαλε, εἰπὲ τῷ ἀδελφῷ μου. This was the most foolish and unwarrantable interpellation ever made to our Lord. The few words at once reveal to us an egotist incapable of caring for anything but his own selfishness.

μερίσασθαι μετ' ἐμοῦ τὴν κληρονομίαν. Deuteronomy 21:15-17.

Verses 13-21


Verse 14

14. ἄνθρωπε. The word is sternly repressive. Comp. Romans 2:1; Romans 9:20.

τίς με κατέστησεν κριτήν; “My kingdom is not of this world,” John 18:36.

ἢ μεριστήν. ‘Umpire, arbitrator.’ There is an evident allusion to Exodus 2:14.

Verse 15

15. φυλάσσεσθε ἀπὸ πάσης πλεονεξίας. ‘Guard yourselves from all covetousness.’ The word is more positive than “beware of” (βλέπετε, προσέχετε). The right reading is ‘of all covetousness,’ i.e. not only beware of avarice, but also of selfish possession. Both the O. and N.T. abound with repetitions of this warning. Balaam, Achan, Gehazi are awful examples of this sin in the O. T.; Judas Iscariot, the Pharisees and Ananias in the New. See 1 Timothy 6:10-17.

οὐκἡ ζωὴ αὐτοῦ ἐστίν. Ζωὴ means a man’s true life: his earthly natural life—his βίος, is supported by what he has, but his ζωὴ is what he is. Such phrases as that a man ‘is worth’ so many thousands a year, revealing the current of worldly thought, shew how much this warning is needed. The order of words in this paragraph is curious. It is literally, ‘For not in any man’s abundance is his life (derived) from his possessions,’ or (as De Wette takes it), “is his life a part of his possessions.” The English Version well represents the sense. Comp. Sen. ad Helv. IX. 9, “Corporis exigua desideria sunt … Quicquid extra concupiscitur, vitiis non usibus laboratur.”

Verse 16

16. εὐφόρησεν. A rare word (here only in the N. T.) and perhaps derived by St Luke from medical writings in which it occurs.

ἡ χώρα. ‘The estate.’ In this parable (peculiar to St Luke) our Lord evidently referred mentally to the story of Nabal, whose name means ‘Fool’ or ‘Churl’ (1 Samuel 25). Observe that his riches, like those of Nabal, were acquired, not by fraud or oppression, but in the most innocent way. His crime was his greedy and callous selfishness. He cared not for generous use, but for self-admiring acquisition. Being “a fool” his “prosperity destroyed him.” Proverbs 1:32.

Verse 17

17. τί ποιήσω; “He that loveth silver shall not be satisfied with silver, nor he that loveth abundance with increase,” Ecclesiastes 5:10.

τοὺς καρπούς μου. So “my barns,” “my fruits and my goods,” and “my soul.” This touch is evidently intended and is most vividly natural. So Nabal says, “Shall I then take my bread, and my water, and my flesh that I have killed for my shearers,” &c., 1 Samuel 25:11. So

“Their child.” “Our child!” “Our heiress!” “Ours!” for still

Like echoes from beyond a hollow, came

“Her sicklier iteration.” Aylmer’s Field.

Verse 18

18. καθελῶ. In Attic the future of αἰρέω is αἱρήσω. The fut. ἑλῶ is late.

ἀποθήκας. ‘Storehouses’ (not only for corn). He never thought of the admonition of the Son of Sirach, “Shut up alms in thy storehouses,” Sirach 29:12.

τὰ γενήματά μου. Not the same word as before. Rather, ‘my produce.’

τὰ ἀγαθά μου. Such ‘good things’ as he was alone capable of recognising, Luke 16:25. And “all my goods,” with no mention of the poor.

Verse 19

19. ἐρῶ τῇ ψυχῇ μου. “What folly! Had thy soul been a sty, what else couldst thou have promised to it? Art thou so bestial, so ignorant of the soul’s goods, that thou pledgest it the foods of the flesh? And dost thou convey to thy soul, the things which the draught receiveth?” St Basil.

εἰς ἔτη πολλά. “Boast not thyself of tomorrow,” Proverbs 27:1.

ἀναπαύου, φάγε, πίε, εὐφραίνου. ‘Rest, eat, drink, enjoy.’ The absence of conjunctions (asyndeton) suits the man’s gloating selfishness, as in Sophocles, ζῆ, πῖνε, φέρβου. The motive of the Rich Glutton is the same as that of the selfish and cynical Epicureans, who say, “Let us eat and drink;” but the reason he assigns is different. They snatch pleasure, “for tomorrow we die,” 1 Corinthians 15:32; he because he hopes to be ‘happy’ for ‘many years.’ For similar warnings see James 4:13-17; James 5:1-3; Eccl. 11:19.

Verse 20

20. ἄφρων. Literally, ‘Senseless!’ 1 Corinthians 15:36. Comp. Luke 11:40. The nom. is used for the voc., comp. Luke 8:54.

ταύτῃ τῇ νυκτί. Compare the death of Nabal, 1 Samuel 25:36.

τὴν ψυχήν σου ἀπαιτοῦσιν ἀπὸ σοῦ. ‘They demand thy soul of thee.’ Who are ‘they’? Some say God (Job 27:8), or His death-angels (Job 33:22), or robbers whom they suppose to attack the rich man on the night that his wealth has flowed in. There is however no definite pronoun, the phrase is impersonal, as often in Hebrew. It is the same “categoric plural” as in Luke 12:11 and Luke 16:9, Luke 23:31.

ἃ δὲ ἡτοίμασας, τίνι ἔσται; ‘But the things which thou preparedst, for whom shall they be?’ “He heapeth up riches and knoweth not who shall gather them,” Psalms 39:6; Psalms 49:16-17; comp. Psalms 52:7 and James 4:13-15. St James seems to have been deeply impressed with this teaching.

Verse 21

21. μὴπλουτῶν. ‘If he is not rich.’ We are often taught elsewhere in Scripture in what way we can be rich toward God. Matthew 6:19-21; 1 Timothy 6:17-19; James 2:5. There is a close parallel to this passage in Sirach 11:18-19, “There is that waxeth rich by his wariness and pinching, and this is the portion of his reward. Likewise he saith, I have found rest, and now will eat continually of my goods, and yet he knoweth not what time shall come upon him, and that he must leave those things to others, and die.” This would seem to shew that our Lord was not unfamiliar with some of the Apocryphal writings.

Verse 22

22. μὴ μεριμνᾶτε. This rendering is now unfortunate, since it might be abused to encourage an immoral carelessness (1 Timothy 5:8). But in the 17th century thought was used for care (1 Samuel 9:5). See The Bible Word-Book, s.v. Rather, ‘Be not anxious about.’ Vulg[265] ne solliciti sitis. “Cast thy burden upon the Lord and He shall sustain thee,” Psalms 55:22; 1 Peter 5:7.

τί φάγητε. ‘What ye are to eat.’ Deliberative subjunctive.

Verses 22-53


Verse 23

23. ἡ ψυχὴ πλεῖόν ἐστιν τῆς τροφῆς.… And the spirit is more than either the body, or the natural life.

Verse 24

24. τοὺς κόρακας. More specific, and therefore more poetic, than “the fowls” in St Matthew. Perhaps there is a reference to Job 38:41; Psalms 145:15.

Verse 25

25. ἐπὶ τὴν ἡλικίαν αὐτοῦ. Some would here render the word ἡλικία, ‘age’ (comp. Psalms 39:5); but “stature” is probably right.

Verse 26

26. εἰοὐδὲ ἐλάχιστον. The negative does not depend on the εἰ (in which case μηδὲ would be required), but reverses the meaning of δύνασθε—‘since you are unable.’ Comp. John 3:12; Romans 11:21, &c.

Verse 27

27. τὰ κρίνα. The term is perfectly general. The scarlet anemones (anemone coronaria), or the ‘Hulêh lilies’ growing around may have given point to the lesson. (Thomson, Land and Book, p. 256.)

Σολομὼν ἐν πάσῃ τῇ δόξη αὐτοῦ. 1 Kings 3:13; 1 Kings 10:1-29, and for a splendid description of his progresses in the royal chariot, Song of Solomon 3:6-11.

Verse 28

28. ἐν ἀγρῷ τὸν χόρτον. ‘If, in the field, God so clothes,’ &c. The common Scripture symbol for evanescence, Isaiah 40:6; 1 Peter 1:24; James 1:10-11.

εἰς κλίβανον βαλλόμενον. In the absence of wood grass is used to heat ovens in the East.

ἀμφιέζει. This is the reading of D. ἀμφιάζει, B.

Verse 29

29. μὴ μετεωρίζεσθε. Here alone in the N.T. Literally, ‘Do not toss about like boats in the offing,’—a metaphor for suspense. Cicero says, “So I am in suspense (μετέωρος) and entangled in great perplexities.” Ad Att. XV. 14. It is like the Latin fluctuo and fluito.

Verse 30

30. τὰ ἔθνη τοῦ κόσμου. Christians have not the same excuse that the heathen have for over-anxiety about transient needs.

Verse 32

32. τὸ μικρὸν ποίμνιον. The address was primarily to disciples, Luke 12:1. For the metaphor, see Psalms 23:1; Isaiah 40:11; Matthew 26:31; John 10:12-16. μικρὸν is not pleonastic, for ποίμνιον is not used as a diminutive.

τὴν βασιλείαν. How much more shall He give you bread.

Verse 33

33. πωλήσατε τὰ ὑπάρχοντα ὑμῶν. This command was taken very literally by the early Church, Acts 2:44-45. Comp. Luke 16:9; Matthew 19:21.

βαλλάντια. See on Luke 10:4.

διαφθείρει. ‘Destroyeth.’ Vulg[266] corrumpit, whence the A.V[267] “corrupteth.”

Verse 35

35. ἔστωσαν ὑμῶν αἱ ὀσφύες περιεζωσμέναι. Without a girdle active service is impossible in the loose flowing dress of the East (Exodus 12:11; 1 Kings 18:46); and spiritually, for the Christian amid worldly entanglements, 1 Peter 1:13; Ephesians 6:14. Comp. the Latin praecincti, and Milton’s “His habit fit for speed succinct.” Par. Lost, III. 643.

οἱ λύχνοι καιόμενοι. The germ of the Parable of the Ten Virgins, Matthew 25:1.

Verse 36

36. ἀνθρώποις. Slaves, Revelation 18:13.

πότε ἀναλύσῃ ἐκ τῶν γάμων. The word here used is very rare, occurring only in Philippians 1:23; 2 Timothy 4:6. Here there is a variation from the commoner metaphor of going to the wedding-feast.

Verse 37

37. περιζώσεται καὶ ἀνακλινεῖ αὐτούς. Doubtless some of the Apostles must have recalled these words when Jesus washed their feet. To Roman readers the words would recall the customs of their Saturnalia when slaves were waited on by their masters.

παρελθὼν διακονήσει αὐτοῖς. ‘He will draw near and serve them.’ The παρελθὼν adds a graphic touch to the Master’s condescension. We often find participles used in this vivid way, as in Luke 15:18, ἀναστὰς πορεύσομαι, 1 Peter 3:19, πορευθεὶς ἐκήρυξεν, &c. Winer, p. 760.

Verse 38

38. ἐν τῇ δευτέρᾳ, κἂν ἐν τῇ τρίτῃ φυλακῇ ἔλθῃ. It is not clear, nor very important, whether St Luke here alludes to the three watches of the Jews and Greeks (Lamentations 2:19; Judges 7:19; Exodus 14:24) or to the four of the Romans (Jerome, Ep. CXL.). But it is very important to observe that often as our Lord bade His disciples to be ready for His return, He as often indicates that His return might be long delayed, Matthew 25:5-19. He always implied that He should come suddenly (Luke 21:34-36; 1 Thessalonians 5:2-6; Revelation 3:3), but not necessarily soon, Luke 12:46; 2 Peter 3:8-9. “The Parousia does not come so quickly as impatience, nor yet so late as carelessness, supposes.” Van Oosterzee.

Verse 39

39. τοῦτογινώσκετε. ‘This ye know.’

ὁ οἰκοδεσπότης. “Goodman” is an archaic expression for the master of the house, the paterfamilias. It is said to be a corruption of the Saxon gumman, ‘a man,’ goodwife being formed from it by false analogy.

οὐκ ἂν ἀφῆκεν διορυχθῆναι τὸν οἶκον αὐτοῦ. ‘He would not have left his house to be broken into.’ Literally, ‘to be dug through,’ the houses being often of mud.

Verse 41

41. εἶπεν δὲ αὐτῷ ὁ Πέτρος. Peter’s intercourse with his Lord seems to have been peculiarly frank and fearless, in accordance with his character. In the immaturity of the disciples we may suppose that the blessing on the faithful servants mainly prompted his question. But if so the lesson of our Lord was by no means lost on him, 1 Peter 5:3, and passim.

Verse 42

42. ὁ κύριος. St Luke uses this later designation of our Lord about 12 times.

τίς ἄρα ἐστὶν ὁ πιστὸς οἰκονόμος ὁ φρόνιμος; Our Lord, in the deeply instructive method which He often adopted, did not answer the question, but taught the only lesson which was needful for the questioner. St Paul perhaps refers to these words of Christ in 1 Corinthians 4:1-2.

ἐν καιρῷ τὸ σιτομέτριον. “Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock over which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God,” Acts 20:28. σιτομέτριον (diarium) is found only in St Luke.

Verse 44

44. ἐπὶ πᾶσιν τοῖς ὑπάρχουσιν αὐτοῦ. See Luke 22:29-30.

Verse 45

45. εἴπῃἐν τῇ καρδίᾳ αὐτοῦ, Χρονίζει ὁ κύριός μου ἔρχεσθαι. Ecclesiastes 8:11. It was not long before the temptation to use this language arose with fatal results, 2 Peter 3:8-9.

Verse 46

46. διχοτομήσει αὐτόν. This was literally a punishment prevalent among some ancient nations, 2 Samuel 12:31; 1 Chronicles 20:3; Daniel 2:5; Herod. Luke 7:39. Comp. Hebrews 11:37 (the legendary martyrdom of Isaiah) and Susannah 55–59. Hence Bengel says, “Qui cor divisum habet, dividetur.” But because of the following clause, which evidently refers to a living person, it is thought that διχοτομήσει must here be used in the sense of ‘shall scourge’ (compare the next verse), although there is no other instance of such a sense.

μετὰ τῶν ἀπίστων. ‘With the faithless.’ Vulg[268] infidelibus. (See Luke 12:42, and Matthew 24:51.)

Verse 47

47. μὴ ἑτοιμάσας. The μὴ is used because it gives the supposed reason for the slave’s punishment. Exceptional privileges if rejected involve exceptional guilt and punishment, Luke 10:13; James 4:17; 2 Peter 2:21.

δαρήσεται πολλάς. Sub. πληγάς. Similarly we find in Plato, μαστιγοῦσθαι πληγάς. Comp. 2 Corinthians 11:24, πεντήκοντα παρὰ μίαν ἔλαβον. This cognate accusative is common in classic Greek.

Verse 48

48. ὁ δὲ μὴ γνούς. He that knew not fully (Jonah 4:11; 1 Timothy 1:13), for there is no such thing as absolute moral ignorance (Romans 1:20; Romans 2:14-15).

δαρήσεται ὀλίγας. A most important passage, as alone clearly stating that punishment shall be proportional to sin, and that there shall be a righteous relation between the amount of the two. They who knew not will not of course be punished for any involuntary ignorance, but only for actual misdoing.

Verse 49

49. πῦρ ἦλθον βαλεῖν ἐπὶ τὴν γῆν. ‘I came to cast fire on the earth.’ The “send fire” of the A.V[269] is from the Vulg[270] mittere. St John had preached, “He shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire,” and that “He should burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.” The metaphor is probably to be taken in all its meanings; fire as a spiritual baptism; the refining fire to purge gold from dross, and burn up the chaff of all evil in every imperfect character; and the fire of retributive justice. There is a remarkable ‘unwritten saying’ of Christ, “He who is near me is near the fire,” which is preserved in Ignatius, Origen, and Didymus.

τί θέλω εἰ ἤδη ἀνήφθη. ‘How I would that it had been already kindled!’ (as in Sirach 23:14). It may also be punctuated, ‘What will I? O that it were already kindled!’ For the fire is salutary as well as retributive; it warms and purifies as well as consumes. In this idiom—(εἰ with the indicative to express a wish known by the speaker to be impossible)—εἴθε and εἰ γὰρ are more common in classical Greek. Winer, p. 562.

Verse 50

50. βάπτισμαβαπτισθῆναι. Matthew 20:22; Romans 6:3.

πῶς συνέχομαι. Comp. συνεχομένη πυρετῷ, Luke 4:38. O how heavy is the burden that rests upon me; how vast are the obstacles through which I have to press onwards. It is the same spirit that spoke in, “What thou doest, do quickly.” The word is found in 2 Corinthians 5:14; Philippians 1:23.

ἕως ὅτου τελεσθῇ. John 19:28; John 19:30.

Verse 51

51. δοκεῖτε. As they were far too much inclined to suppose, Luke 19:11.

ὅτι εἰρήνην παρεγενόμην δοῦναι ἐν τῇ γῇ. It is only in His ultimate kingdom that Christ will be fully the Prince of Peace, as was understood even by Simeon, Luke 2:34-35; see too John 9:39.

οὐχὶἀλλ' ἢ διαμερισμόν. “There was a division among the people because of him,” John 7:43. The phrase ἀλλ' is a contraction of ἄλλο ἢ (I am come to send no other thing than division). It occurs but three times in the N.T., here, 2 Corinthians 1:13 and (perhaps) 1 Corinthians 3:5. Winer, p. 552 n. St Luke uses διαμερισμὸν for the μάχαιραν found in St Matthew. “I came not to send peace but a sword.” Matthew 10:34. “Near me, near the sword” (unwritten saying of Christ). The Hebrew חרב would admit either rendering (LXX[271] often πόλεμον).

Verse 53

53. πατὴρ ἐπὶ υἱῷ. The verse seems to be a distinct allusion to Micah 7:6. There is in the Greek a delicate change of phrase which can hardly be reproduced in English. It is ‘father against son’ (ἐπὶ υἱῷ), where the preposition takes the dative; but in ‘mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law’ (ἐπὶ τὴν νύμφην αὐτῆς) the preposition takes the accusative;—perhaps to indicate the difference in the relationships, the one natural, the other legal. ἐπὶ with the dative practically means ‘against’ in the sense of one being an incubus on the other. Compare the German auf ihm. Winer, p. 489 n.

Verse 54

54. τοῖς ὄχλοις. ‘To the multitudes,’ whom He now addresses, having finished the lessons which were most necessary for His timid and discouraged disciples.

νεφέλην. Perhaps the reading may be τὴν ν. (comp. Matthew 16:2-3), ‘the cloud’ which rises over the west. The τὴν may have been lost by homoeoteleuton.

ἀνατέλλουσαν ἐπὶ δυσμῶν. In Hebrew the same word is used for ‘west’ and ‘sea.’ A cloud rising from the Mediterranean indicated heavy rain. 1 Kings 18:44-45.

Verses 54-59


Verse 55

55. καύσων. ‘A simoom,’ or scorching wind, because ‘the south wind’ in Palestine would blow from the desert. Matthew 20:12.

Verse 56

56. ὑποκριταί. Their insincerity consisted in the fact that though the signs of the Kingdom were equally plain they would not see them, and pretended not to see them. The Prophets had long ago pointed them out. Among them were, miracles (Isaiah 35:4-6); the political condition (Genesis 49:10); the preaching of the Baptist (Matthew 3).

δοκιμάζειν. ‘To test’ or ‘prove.’

Verse 57

57. καὶ ἀφ' ἑαυτῶν. I.e. without the necessity for my thus pointing out to you facts which are so plain.

τὸ δίκαιον. What is your duty to do under circumstances so imminent?

Verse 58

58. ὡς γὰρ ὑπάγεις. ‘For as thou goest.’ Our translators omitted the ‘for’ probably because they could not see the connexion. It seems however to be this. ‘For this is your clear duty,—to reconcile yourselves with God, as you would with one whom you had alienated, before the otherwise inevitable consequences ensue.’ Euthymius therefore is mistaken in saying that the subject is here suddenly changed (ἐφ' ἕτερον μετέβη λόγον).

μετὰ τοῦ ἀντιδίκου σου. This is a parable. If you had wronged a man it would be obviously wise to avert the consequences of your wrongdoing before it became too late. Even so must you act towards God. To press the details is obviously false theology. “Theologia parabolica non est argumentativa.” Here again St Matthew quotes the parable in a slightly different connexion (Luke 5:25-26) to teach that love and forgiveness to man are an indispensable condition of forgiveness from God.

δὸς ἐργασίαν. A curious Latinism, da operam.

τῷ πράκτορι. ‘To the jailor,’ literally ‘the exactor.’ “God is here shadowed forth as at once the adversary, the judge, and the officer; the first by His holiness, the second by His justice, the third by His power.” Godet.

Verse 59

59. ἕως καὶ τὸ ἔσχατον λεπτὸν ἀποδῷς. Λεπτὸν (minutum) means ‘a mite’ the smallest of all coins, Mark 12:42. If it be asked, ‘Can this debt ever be paid?’ the answer of course is, as far as the parable is concerned, ‘It depends entirely on whether the debt be great or small.’ As far as the application of the parable is concerned, the answer lies out of the contemplated horizon of the illustration; nor is there any formal answer to such a question. But if it be asserted that no man’s debt to God, which he has incurred by his sins, however ‘common to man,’ can ever be paid by him, we are at least permitted to find hope in the thought that Christ has paid our debt for us (Matthew 20:28; 1 Timothy 2:6). The general lesson is that of which Scripture is full, “Seek ye the Lord while He may be found,” Isaiah 55:6; Psalms 32:6; Hebrews 4:7.

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Bibliographical Information
"Commentary on Luke 12". "Cambridge Greek Testament for Schools and Colleges". 1896.