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Bible Commentaries
Luke 12

Godbey's Commentary on the New TestamentGodbey's NT Commentary

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Verses 1-21



Luke 12:1 . “Meanwhile myriads of the multitude, having come together, so that they were treading on one another, He began to speak first to His disciples, Take heed to yourselves from the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy.” Leaven always means corruption, something superinducing fermentation, decomposition, and putrefaction. Here our Savior certifies that the leaven of the Pharisees is hypocrisy. Now, remember, the Pharisees were the most orthodox, strict, and zealous denomination of the Jewish Church. As hypocrisy means playing the part of an assumed character on the theatrical stage, hence it means playing religion; i.e., externally assuming and conforming to it, while destitute of the inward reality. These Pharisees were sincere and candid, believing that the rites, ceremonies, and external obedience constituted the essence of real and true religion. O how the present age is inundated with the leaven of hypocrisy, “having the form” without the power, and some even denying the power!


Luke 12:2 . “There is nothing which has been covered up which shall not be revealed, and hidden which shall not be made known. Therefore so many things as ye spoke in darkness, shall be heard in the light; and whatsoever ye talked about in the ear in secret chambers, shall be revealed upon the housetops.” The connection here follows that all the hidden things of hypocrisy mentioned in the preceding verse shall erelong be brought to light and exposed. When the Lord sanctified me, thirty-one years ago, I was a Free Mason and an Odd Fellow. All those things spontaneously evanesced when the Prince of Glory moved in. From that day my heart and life have been open to the inspection of men, angels, and God, and I have had no secrets. The incoming of the Holy Ghost expels all darkness and reveals all secrets.


Luke 12:4 . “But I say unto you, My friends, Be not afraid of them who kill the body, and after these things have no power to do anything more; but I will show you whom you should fear: you should fear him who, after he has killed, has the power to cast into hell. I say unto you, Fear him. Are not five sparrows sold for two farthings? and one of them is not forgotten before God. But even the hairs of your head are numbered. Fear not, for you are more valuable than many sparrows.” All the unregenerate are in Satan’s kingdom, destined, not only to perish, but to be cast into hell, as he has no other place to put them when they are forced to leave this world at the expiration of this fleeting probation. In connection with these momentous realities, we should here remember the Divine cognizance, taking notice of the smallest matters, even numbering the hairs of the head. Now what is the conclusion from all this? If you are in Satan’s kingdom, be sure you get out quickly as possible, and then be sure that you stay out, as you are liable any moment, soul and body, to be cast into hell.


Luke 12:8 . “But I say unto you, That every one who may confess Me before men, the Son of man will truly confess him before the angels of God; but every one denying Me in the presence of men, shall be denied in the presence of the angels of God.” Confess is homologeo, from homos,

“like,” and logos, “speech.” Hence it means to speak like God. The Holy Spirit speaks to the sinner, and tells him his awful condition. He should tell it right out, and cry for mercy. Then He speaks to the broken-hearted penitent, and tells him his sins, which were many, are all forgiven; he should tell it out with a free heart. Then He speaks to the regenerated soul, revealing the remains of the carnal mind; this he should confess, going down at the altar for a clean heart. Then He reveals to him the wonderful efficacy of the cleansing blood; this he should freely proclaim to the ends of the earth. Every soul in all the world either occupies the attitude of confession or denial, with the momentous issues pending, involving the destinies of eternity.


Luke 12:10 . “Whosoever shall speak a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him; but to the one blaspheming against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven.” Since the Holy Ghost is the Executive of the Trinity on the earth, the Successor of the risen and glorified Savior, administering light to the blind, conviction to the wicked, regeneration to the penitent, and sanctification to the believer, if we speak against Him, or treat His office with contempt, thus grieving Him away, we seal our doom for endless woe, having thus prematurely wound up our probation, and settled our destiny in the regions of rayless night. “When they may lead you before synagogues, tribunals, and authorities, be not solicitous how or as to what you may defend yourselves, or what you may say; for the Holy Ghost will teach you in that hour what it behooves you to speak.” Jesus saw a wicked world and a fallen Church rising up to persecute His followers, hence the pertinency of this consolatory admonition. We should all profit by it in every case of persecution for Christ’s sake. Let the Holy Ghost manage it in His own way, patiently and joyfully accepting results.


Luke 12:13-21 . “And a certain one of the crowd said to Him, Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me. And He said to him, Man, who has made Me a judge or a divider over you? And He said to them, See and beware of covetousness, because his life is not in that which aboundeth to any one of the things belonging to him.” This was a case of financial trouble between two brothers, disagreeing about the division of their patrimony. Hence our Lord turns His discourse to the exposition of avarice. “And He spoke a parable to them, saying, The farm of a certain rich man brought forth abundantly. He reasoned within himself, saying, What shall I do, because I have no place where I shall store my fruits? And he said, I will do this: I will take down my barns and build greater, and I will gather there all my fruits and my goods, and will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast many good things laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, be merry. God said to him, Thou fool, this night they shall require thy soul from thee; and to whom shall these things be which you have prepared? So is every one laying up treasure for himself, and not rich toward God.” This parable is plain and practical, having myriads of verifications in all ages and nations. Would you see examples? Look around you. They are numerous on all sides, people living simply for this world, with no reference to eternity. Where E.V. says, “Thy soul shall be required of thee this night,” the correct reading is, “They [i.e., the demons all around you] require thy soul of thee this night.” All wicked people are encompassed, and even occupied, by these evil demons, whose determination is to precipitate them into hell. In the providence of God, the probation of that rich fool ran out at that time; so the demons, who had pursued him all his life, took him at once to the bottomless pit.

Verses 22-48


Luke 12:22-31 . This item of our Savior’s discourse is so identical with a paragraph in His Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 6:0), that I forbear quotation, the substantial repetition of the Great Preacher sufficing to illustrate its transcendent importance, as solicitude is out of harmony with that perfect soul-rest in Jesus, which not only gives us a heavenly prelibation, but is absolutely necessary to our greatest efficiency as soul- winners, from the simple fact that a well-rested man will do much more work than one who is tired and jaded. Here our Lord also exhorts all to seek the kingdom, with the assurance that everything else shall be added.


Luke 12:32-34 . “Fear not, little flock, because your Father is pleased to give unto you the kingdom.” The people of God in the world have never been numerous at any one time. The faithful few, scattered through all ages, from Abel down to the second coming of the Lord, have the glorious promise of the millennial kingdom as the faithful subordinates of our glorified Savior, crowned King of kings and Lord of lords. As kingdom here certainly is not restricted to the reign of grace in the heart, which all the members of the little flock already enjoy, hence it must refer to the glorious Millennial Theocracy. “Sell your possessions and give alms; make to yourselves purses that will never get old, treasure that will not be stolen in the heavens, where the thief dost not draw nigh nor the rust corrupt. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” Hence, if you would be a member of the little flock, enjoy a place in the bridehood of Christ, and be promoted to imperishable honors in the glorious kingdom coming, your heart must be weaned from earth, set on heavenly things, so you will lay up all your treasures in heaven, living a pilgrim and a stranger upon the earth.


Luke 12:35-48 . “Stand, your loins girded about, and your lamps burning.” The girding of the loins is the preparation of the Oriental traveler for his journey. So we should be every moment ready for the journey all the way from earth to heaven. The lamp is lighted in regeneration, and the vessel filled with oil in sanctification, preparatory for this long journey. “And be ye like unto people waiting for their Lord, when He may rise up from the marriage, in order that coming and knocking, they shall open unto Him immediately.” The Greek ganion, the plural of excellence, marriages, here sets forth the fact that, as a wedding is a place of joy and festivity, it here vividly symbolizes the felicity of heaven, where, in all ages, there is a constant wedding festival. Since our Lord ascended into glory, He has been the constant participant of this heavenly wedding festival, which He is liable to leave at any moment to come back to this world. Therefore He admonishes His disciples, not only to be ready, but on the constant outlook. Some of the Lord’s people at the present day are on the incessant outlook for His return to the earth, and admonishing all others to do likewise; while others do not seem to be on this constant outlook. Will you be like the former or the latter? Jesus here tells you to be like the people who are constantly looking out for their Lord to come. I hope this is your attitude. “Blessed are those servants whom the Lord, having come, will find watching.” Are you watching, with loins girded and lights burning? You see most unequivocally that this is the true attitude of saintship. The Lord help you to occupy it! “Truly, I say unto you, That He will gird Himself, and have them sit down, and having come, will serve them.” O how beautiful and wonderful and transcendent the idea, that my Lord will transfigure me, take me up, and sit me down at the marriage supper of the Lamb, and He Himself wait on me! O glorious paradox! This is the last reminiscence of our Lord’s humiliation in order to redeem a guilty world.

“If at the second or the third watch He may come, and so find them, happy are they.” The second watch is nine to twelve, and the third, twelve to three, thus including the six hours of midnight, when deepest sleep falleth on men, illustrating the infinite importance of the most perfect vigilance. If we keep awake through the six hours of midnight, certainly we will not go to sleep during the other eighteen. “Know this, that if the landlord had known at what hour the thief cometh, he would not have permitted his house to be broken into.” Do you not know that every one who is not watching will have his house broken into; i.e., get into trouble? Of course, you know that Jesus Himself is the thief, coming back to this world to steal away His bride, who has found no congeniality in the groveling things of earth, and is watching and waiting for her Lord to come and take her away. O what an inspiration to constant vigilance! “Be ye also ready, because you know not at what hour the Son of man cometh.” Downright disobedience and contempt of this commandment will certainly prove an awful risk. “And Peter said to Him, Lord, do you speak this parable to us or to all? And the Lord said, Who then is the faithful, wise steward, whom His Lord will appoint over His household, to give unto them their food in season? Happy is that servant whom His Lord, having come, shall find so doing. Truly, I say unto you, That He will appoint him over all His possessions.” The steward here is none other than the preacher or leader of the Lord’s people; while the food, which is to be given in its time, is the great and wholesome truth of entire sanctification, the only qualification to meet the Lord at His coming; and this truth, energized by constant vigilance, every moment looking out for our Lord to come; thus these grand cognate doctrines of holiness and vigilance, serving as the two oars of the boat which row us over time’s stormy ocean, till we land on the bright, golden shore of eternal felicity. O what a blessing the Savior pronounces on the preacher and leader who are so faithful to His commandments as to have their people sanctified wholly, and incessantly looking out for their coming King! “But if that servant may say in his heart, My Lord delayeth His coming, and may begin to beat His manservants and maidservants, to eat and drink and be drunken.” “Beating His servants” means oppressing them by heavy assessments, and ruling over them with rigor, which is so often done; as Peter says, “Domineer over the heritages,” forgetting that they are pilgrims and strangers, having nothing, the people and Churches all belonging to the Lord. “To eat, drink, and be drunken” mean high and extravagant living, like kings in their palaces, which is the bane of ministerial homes this day, giving currency to the already trite maxim, that “preachers’ children are worse than others,” thus scandalizing the ministerial calling, clogging the wheels of Zion, and grieving the Holy Spirit. “The Lord of that servant will come in a day in which he does not anticipate, and in an hour in which he does not know, and will cut him off, and appoint him his part with unbelievers.” The preacher here described is a counterfeit, living high, and oppressing his people. Find one of that kind (and you will not have to go far, as their name is legion), and you will never hear him preaching entire sanctification and the coming of the Lord; that is one way you can know him. Of course, the coming of the Lord will oust him from his citadel, reveal his counterfeit, and put him over in the ranks of the unbelievers, where he belongs. Our Savior’s preaching on this momentous subject is plain and clear, leaving all without excuse. You see clearly that the preacher who is delinquent on experimental holiness and the constant outlook for the Lord’s return to the earth, is walking over enchanted ground, liable to drop him through a trap-door any moment. How can there be any controversy over the Lord’s return, when His own preaching on that subject is so clear and unequivocal? Awful is the responsibility of the man who, by speech or pen, relaxes the obligations of the Lord’s people to do their utmost to get everybody in the only safe attitude; i.e., sanctified wholly, and constantly looking for the Lord’s return. Shall we preach holiness and leave out the coming of the Lord? In that case we certainly incur the responsibility of the steward who neglected “to give them their food in season;” as that food is not only entire sanctification, but such warning and instruction as we all need to keep us truly vigilant every moment, with “loins girded and lights burning, looking out for our Lord.” “But that servant, having known the will of his Lord, and not having prepared or done according to His will, shall be beaten with many stripes.” The Bible is a plain book, and Jesus the plainest of all preachers. Are you preaching the coming of the Lord? Look well that you do not fall under this awful condemnation, and be beaten with many stripes. If I have any dogma to sustain, I am unworthy to do this writing. The ink will scarcely be dry till we all meet Jesus. I am only writing for Him. I know no controversy with any man. Look out, my brother! If we do not preach faithfully what Jesus has given us, we would better never have been born. “And the one not having known, and having done things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few.” So here you see our responsibility is in proportion to our knowledge of God’s Word.

Search it diligently, as you will not be judged by what I say, but what the Lord says. “But to every one to whom much is given, much will be required of him; and to whom they committed much, they will demand of him the more abundantly.” Awful is the responsibility of those who teach the people. Hence the transcendent folly and the crying iniquity of the man who tries to bend God’s Word to suit a theory. Such a man is walking on a rotten plank over hell.

Verses 49-53


Luke 12:49-53 . “I came to send fire on the earth, and what do I wish if it is already kindled?” This is none other than the fiery baptism of Pentecost, which Jesus came to send on the earth, thus inaugurating a new era in the kingdom of grace. “I have a baptism to be baptized with, and how am I straitened until it is perfected!” Here is an allusion to the baptism of blood which awaited Him on Calvary. “Do you think that I came to send peace on the earth? I tell you, Nay, but division; for there shall be five in one house divided; two against three, and three against two shall be divided; the father against the son, and the son against the father; the mother against the daughter, and the daughter against the mother; the mother-in-law against the daughter-in-law, and the daughter-in-law against the mother-in-law.” You see here, from the connection, that division follows, as a logical sequence, the baptism of fire. When people get sanctified wholly, they become out-and-out for God, who leads them in different ways, pursuant to His blessed will. Consequently, division will be the result. There is only one way to have harmony, and that is for all to get the fiery baptism. The grip of Satan is so tight that he is almost certain to hold some of the members of a family or a Church. In that case there will always be division, as holiness can not harmonize with carnality.

Verses 54-59


Luke 12:54-59 “And He also spoke to the multitude, When you may see a cloud rising in the west, you immediately say that the rain is coming, and it is so; and when you may see the south wind blowing, you say it will be warm, and it is so. Ye hypocrites, you know how to discern the face of the earth and sky, and how do you not discern this time?” The seventy weeks of Daniel, four hundred and ninety days i.e., prophetic years, from the return of the Jews out of Babylonian captivity till the coming of Christ had already been fulfilled; and that notable prophecy, “The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, till Shiloh come,” had also been fulfilled, as Herod the Great, who died while the infant Jesus was in Egypt, was their last king, Coponius, his successor, being a Roman proconsul, so the scepter had already departed from Judah. Besides, all the prophecies were being wonderfully fulfilled in Him, John the Baptist, the greatest of the prophets, having not only preached Him, but actually pointed Him out to them. Amid all of these wonderful prophetical fulfillments, corroborated by His stupendous miracles, yet they did not believe on Him. It was not the want of intelligence and learning; as we see here they very shrewdly diagnosed the signs of the material world. The trouble was spiritual. They had rejected the Holy Spirit, their only Illuminator. A similar phenomenon characterizes the present generation. While the present age is flooded with the fulfillment of the latter-day prophecies, indubitable omens of our Lord’s return manifest on all sides, yet how blind the present generation! As in that day the greatest trouble was with the leading ministers, so it is now. “And why do you not judge a righteous judgment in reference to yourselves?” Their verdict in reference to the material world was correct; while our Lord is grieved to see them so utterly ignorant with reference to themselves, thus working out their own hopeless ruin. “For as you go with your adversary to the ruler, give attention on the way to be reconciled with him, lest he may deliver thee to the judge, and the judge shall turn thee over to the officer, and the officer shall cast thee into prison. I say unto thee, Thou mayest not go out from thence until thou hast paid the uttermost farthing.” We have this same statement in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:25). Our Savior is the Opposer of every soul rushing into hell. He is also the Judge of quick and dead. Here you are admonished to be reconciled with Him quickly, while in the way i.e., when you have time and opportunity; lest your Opposer ( i.e., the Mediatorial Christ), in your hellward-bound way, shall turn you over to the Judicial Christ; who, of course, can do nothing but condemn you, and deliver you to the officer i.e., Satan who will cast you into prison i.e., into hell where you must stay till you “pay the uttermost farthing.” Of course, you will never get out, as you have nothing to pay with.

Bibliographical Information
Godbey, William. "Commentary on Luke 12". "Godbey's Commentary on the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ges/luke-12.html.
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