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Wednesday, May 22nd, 2024
the Week of Proper 2 / Ordinary 7
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Bible Commentaries
Luke 12

Old & New Testament Restoration CommentaryRestoration Commentary

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Verses 1-12

Luk 12:1-12

Commentary On Luke 12:1-12

Galen Doughty

Luke 12:1 - After Jesus left the Pharisee’s dinner party a huge crowd gathers. It is so large that the people are trampling one another to get close to Jesus. He begins to speak to his disciples first and then later to the crowd.

He starts off with a warning about the Pharisees whom he has just left. Beware of the yeast of the Pharisees. Here he uses yeast in a negative Old Testament sense as any influence that can lead us to sin. He calls their hypocrisy their yeast. They claim to be righteous and beloved of God but their hearts are far from him. Their righteousness is only outward righteousness and not a true heart for God. It is all on the surface. Jesus warns us about the dangers of the legalistic religious path to God. It leads nowhere and only serves to alienate one from God not draw them closer.

Luke 12:2-3 - Jesus seems to change the subject mid -paragraph and talk about things that are secret being made known. It does not readily connect with the phrase about the hypocrisy of the Pharisees, unless Jesus is further warning the Pharisees and the disciples that our hypocrisy will be found out. We cannot live double lives and expect God to remain silent. What we have done in secret is not secret to God. What we have whispered in the dark will be brought out into the light of day. I think he is both saying that God will expose our sin no matter how hard we try and hide it and he is saying that at the judgment all our secret sins will be exposed for all to see. Any hypocrisy in us will be shown for what it is when Jesus judges the world. If that is the case he is warning the disciples not to participate in the Pharisees’ hypocrisy because it will be shameful for them in the judgment. All their outward righteousness will be shown up for what it is; a cover for their pride, greed and sin. They will be exposed and rejected by God not welcomed into his Kingdom because they are not righteous they are corrupted. Righteousness is a matter of the heart and our relationship with God not a matter of external obedience to a ritual code like the Pharisees.

This paragraph also serves as a warning to us. Don’t hide your sin, confess it. God will expose it because he loves us and he wants to transform us. He is our Lord and not sin. He is a jealous God and brooks no rival for our heart’s allegiance. He will not remain inactive when sin threatens to take us over. He will expose us in order to save us!

Luke 12:4-7 - Jesus then goes on to talk about the one we should truly fear and reverence. It should be the Lord God because he can throw body and soul into hell and has the power to destroy us utterly. We should not fear those who can merely kill the body, meaning any human power like the Pharisees or Herod or the Romans. We should fear God.

Jesus then points out how greatly God loves us and values us. God knows about the sparrows and cares for them. How much more will he care for us? Even the very hairs on our heads are numbered by him. We should be in awe of God and worship him but we don’t need to be in terror of him because he loves us! We matter to him!

Luke 12:8-10 - Jesus then speaks of what happens when we stand up for Jesus and acknowledge him before people. He will acknowledge us before God and his angels. But whoever denies Jesus before others he will deny before his angels in heaven. If we confess Jesus here on earth he will confess us as his own in heaven. If we deny him here on earth he will deny knowing us in heaven as well.

Jesus then outlines the unforgivable sin, the blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. If we blaspheme Jesus, the Son of Man, there is still forgiveness because he pays for all our sins. If we blaspheme the Spirit no forgiveness remains because he is the one who draws us to Jesus so that we might experience forgiveness. If we refuse his work in our lives then there is no hope of salvation left. We cannot come to God on our own. We are incapable. The Holy Spirit must draw us and invite us to faith. Without him we are hopeless. To deny him, blaspheme him, and reject his work in us is to reject the one thing that can save us. Thus blasphemy against the Spirit cannot be forgiven because it blocks the very path to forgiveness in the first place. This is what the Pharisees were doing. They were calling the work of the Spirit in Jesus the work of Satan. They were rejecting Jesus and rejecting the Spirit’s drawing them to Jesus. Ultimately there was no hope for them and their fate was sealed.

When does a person reach that point? Only God knows but to continually reject the Spirit’s work puts my eternity in jeopardy.

Luke 12:11-12 - Jesus then affirms the Spirit’s work in the disciples. When they are hauled before the authorities to testify about Jesus they don’t need to worry about what to say or how to defend themselves. The Spirit of God will give them the very words to say in that hour. We see this played out in the Book of Acts as Peter and John are hauled before the Sanhedrin. They realize that Peter and John are uneducated fishermen from Galilee yet they are stymied by their eloquence and wisdom and question where it comes from. Luke is showing us the Spirit gave them the words just as Jesus had promised. Paul experiences the same thing in front of the Sanhedrin when he pleads he is on trial for the resurrection of the dead and before Felix and Festus and Herod Agrippa II. God keeps his promises and we don’t need to be worried or afraid. He is our defense attorney and advocate. He is the Paraclete!

Today if we are faced with speaking to a hostile media or authorities or people who oppose us Jesus’ promise stands. The Spirit will give us the words to say and confound the enemies of God. He will also give us words to say that will penetrate hearts and draw people to himself whose hearts are open to the gospel. I experienced that in Africa the first time when I preached the gospel at the crusade. I felt God giving me the words and guiding what I said.

Verses 13-21

Luk 12:13-21

Commentary On Luke 12:13-21

Galen Doughty

Luke 12:13-15 - A huge crowd has gathered around Jesus to hear him but Jesus has been speaking to his disciples. Someone from the crowd calls out to him. He wants Jesus to advocate for him with the family inheritance. He sees Jesus as someone that he can use to get what he wants, the family property. He doesn’t really care about Jesus and what he has to say as long as it is in support of his cause. He cares about the money! Further he has interrupted Jesus as he is speaking in order to deal with a personal family matter. He is rude and doesn’t see it.

Jesus responds by questioning why he is even asking him to intervene. Who appointed me a judge between you? Then he gives the man and everyone listening a warning. Watch out for all kinds of greed and covetousness because a person’s life doesn’t consist in how much stuff they have! The Kingdom of God is not about stuff!

We in America today need to heed Jesus’ warning. The ads continually try and undo what Jesus says here and make it all about the stuff we have and use. If we don’t have a particular product then our lives are diminished and less than they should be. Jesus warns us clearly here, that is not true.

Luke 12:16-19 - Jesus tells the man and the crowd the parable of the rich fool.

The ground of a certain rich man produced an abundant crop. The ground produces the crop not the rich man. In many ways he has nothing to do with his wealth. God has blessed him but he does not see it. He carries on a dialogue with himself. He does not ask God or his friends or family for counsel and advice. He seeks his own counsel. Greed makes us selfish and self-centered. He has no place to keep such a large crop and wonders what he should do. His solution is to tear down his old barns and build new ones that will hold all of his crops and goods. Then he can take life easy and party to his heart’s content because he has enough for many years. The problem is he thinks he is guaranteed a future but he is not. See James 4:13-15. It is arrogant to assume our future is guaranteed the way we want it to be. We are not in control, God is.

Luke 12:20-21 - He has left God out of his plans and now God lets him know he is not in charge of his future God is.

God calls him, “you fool.” I think Jesus uses the term the way the Psalmist does in Psalms 14:1, the fool says in his heart, there is no God. The rich man has not factored God into his plans for wealth and leisure. Jeremiah says in Jeremiah 17:11 : Like a partridge that hatches eggs it did not lay is the man who gains riches by unjust means. When his life is half gone, they will desert him, and in the end he will prove to be a fool. Jesus does not say the man gained his wealth by unjust means however. He says his ground produced a bumper crop.

The man is a fool because God now demands his life. His days are up and now who will get all that he has prepared for himself in his greed? Someone else will eat and drink and be merry off of his wealth and where will his soul, his life be? The implication is the rich man will not be in heaven with God for he is a fool and fools don’t think there is a God.

Jesus’ conclusion is that this is how it will be with greedy people who are not rich towards God, meaning who do not cultivate a rich relationship with God. They count on their wealth and their money but not God. Did the greedy man who wanted Jesus’ help hear the parable and repent? One hopes so. Were there others in the crowd who heard and repented as well? They are the reason Jesus tells the parable. The story reinforces his warning about greed. Jesus’ disciples must not be greedy because it poisons their relationship with God.

Verses 22-34

Luk 12:22-34

Commentary On Luke 12:22-34

Galen Doughty

Luke 12:22-31 - Jesus repeats a teaching he gave in the Sermon on the Mount to the disciples. Here it is in the context of the large crowd and after he has told the parable of the rich fool. Jesus is helping the disciples know what to do about their legitimate concerns about their lives and families for food, clothing and shelter. He first tells them not to worry about such things because life is about more than these. Most of the disciples were poor so what Jesus is telling them is difficult for them because for the poor life is a struggle to get enough to eat and shelter to stay in and protect your family. Jesus says life is more than bare survival.

He then uses the ravens or the birds of the air as an example. They don’t plant crops or reap them yet God provides for them. He challenges them to have faith that they are more valuable than the birds! Jesus then asks if by worrying they can add a single cubit to their height, which is a metaphor for asking if they can add an hour to their lifespan. Worry steals life from us it does not add life. If worrying cannot do such a simple thing, i.e. make us live longer, then why do we worry about all the rest, especially things we cannot control? The point is we don’t control our lives. We live under the illusion that we do. God is in control! If he is we need to trust that we are more valuable to him than the birds he cares for!

Jesus then uses the flowers or lilies of the field as his next example. They don’t work yet they are beautiful in their colors even more so than King Solomon. Again Jesus asks the question about how valuable they are to God; if God cares for the grass and flowers of the field, which today bloom and tomorrow you pick to throw into the oven for your cook-fires won’t he clothe you, o little faiths? Wood was too valuable for the daily cook-fires in many parts of Galilee so people would gather the grass, dry it, bundle and use it to cook their meals. Jesus uses what Dale Bruner calls Little Faiths, a title he gives the disciples at times, especially in Matthew. It points to the disciples’ lack of faith and trust in God. Jesus is trying to change their perspective in order to get them to live out of a faith perspective that centers on God and his Kingdom rather than their own power and abilities.

He finishes the teaching as he did in the Sermon on the Mount but in context it points back to the man who was greedy and the parable. Don’t be concerned with earthly and worldly wealth like the rich fool. Don’t let anxiety over things dominate your lives. The pagans run after these things and your Heavenly Father knows you need the basic necessities of life. But life is more than basic necessities. Life is about the Kingdom of God. Seek it. Run after it, set your heart upon it and all the rest will be given you. God will provide. You don’t need to worry!

Luke 12:32-34 - Jesus re-focuses their lives on the Kingdom. He calls them to not be afraid; the Father is pleased to give them the Kingdom. The Kingdom of God is theirs through a relationship with Jesus the Messiah. Earthly treasures mean nothing compared to the Kingdom of God. Live a

Kingdom life-style. Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven that cannot be stolen or rot. Don’t focus on accumulating things on earth because where your treasure is there your heart will be. What you treasure tells God and tells everyone where your heart is. And if your heart is with your things then it is not with God and if it is not with God then the Kingdom of God is not first and you do not belong to it. Jesus is not Lord, you are, or your things are, or the world is, but it is not Jesus!

Jesus is reassuring the disciples that they don’t need to be afraid but he is also warning them that the world and material things will tempt them away from the Kingdom. Keep focused and diligent in their relationship with Jesus and their focus on the Kingdom of God.

Verses 35-48

Luk 12:35-48

Commentary On Luke 12:35-48

Galen Doughty

Luke 12:35-40 - Jesus introduces the theme of watchfulness concerning the coming of the Son of Man. In context with the disciples this must have confused them. But Jesus is simply outlining the already not yet eschatology of the New Testament and the Kingdom of God. It is present already in Jesus and the first fruits of the Kingdom life will be given after Jesus completes his mission when forgiveness is fulfilled and the Holy Spirit is given. But the consummation of the work of the Messiah-Son of Man awaits his second coming. When will that be? Jesus says be ready and watch because you will not know. He will come at an hour that you do not expect.

Jesus tells them a parable of the servants waiting for the master to return from a wedding banquet. The servants who are ready for their master’s return will open the door when he knocks and let him in. They were watching and ready to serve him. The master will be so happy with them he will serve them! That was unheard of in Jesus’ time! Yet it also expresses a principle of Jesus’ mission, he comes as a servant to give his life for us all. It will be good for the servants if they are watching and ready even in the second or third watch of the night, meaning the middle of the night when everyone else is asleep. The point is watch and be ready because he may return when no one suspects or is ready for him.

Jesus then shifts metaphors and adds a second short parable. He speaks now of the master of the house who was unprepared for the thief to break in. If he had known when the thief was coming he would not have allowed his house to robbed. Is Jesus relating this to Satan and his house and realm? Otherwise he equates the Son of Man and his return to the thief breaking into the house. Certainly the cross and resurrection was a surprise to Satan and his demons. They recognized him as the Son of God and continually challenged and begged him not to judge them or send them to the Pit. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 2:8 that if the rulers of this age, which means both earthly and demonic powers, had known of God’s plan they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. It is possible that Jesus in this parable is expressing the already not yet eschatology of his first and second comings. Satan then becomes the owner of the house just as he was in the parable of the strongman. We are the servants in the first parable ready and watching for our master’s return. For both, Jesus returns at an hour we do not expect, but if we are ready we will welcome him, knowing he is coming.

Jesus consistently teaches he will return when we do not expect him. He talks about watching the signs and knowing he is near but even the prophecy teachers will be surprised when he comes. The Dispensationalists say this is because the rapture will happen at an unknown time but his Second Coming will be known because the prophetic countdown will start and they know how that goes. I still believe this is reading into the text from their system and making it say what they want it to say. There is no hint here of a rapture separate from Jesus’ second coming. The distinctions Jesus makes are between his present coming and his return and how they fit into the eschatological plan of God.

Luke 12:41-48 - Peter then asks Jesus to clarify to whom the parable is addressed. He notices Jesus’ change in focus and the two parables, one about the servant and one about the owner and he is confused. He is trying to figure out if Jesus is speaking just to the disciples or is he speaking to the crowd gathered around them.

Jesus in reply gives another parable and returns to the focus on the servants of the master. Here he speaks of the steward of the house who is in charge of the servants to make sure they are taken care of. He is the overseer, Greek oikonomos. Jesus is telling the disciples that we are like stewards of the Kingdom. We are stewards of Jesus’ mission and his people, especially if we are leaders! We do not own the house or the servants, God does! Our authority is delegated to us and not native to us. We don’t earn it; it is given to us by Jesus the master of the house.

When the master returns and his steward has been faithful then the master will put him in charge of the entire household, including all the master owns. This is the picture of Jesus’ reign and being co-heirs with him. All he has we will have! But, if the steward is unfaithful, if he takes advantage of the master’s absence and takes advantage of his position and mistreats the master’s servants then when the master comes at a day the steward does not expect him, the master will punish the steward and cast him out with the unbelievers. He will be judged because he was not faithful! Jesus implies that judgment will be hell and the unfaithful steward will be cast out with the unbelievers because he showed he does not know the master nor have a relationship with him by his actions. He does not love the master or his servants.

Jesus warns the disciples that if they know Jesus’ will and are not ready for him and do not do what he asks then the Lord will punish them when he comes. If they do not know and do not do what he asks the punishment will be far less. For everyone who has been given much, much will be required of them. And the one to whom much has been entrusted, much more will be asked. Jesus is speaking of leadership here. It demands sacrifice and diligence. Our reward for success is more responsibility!

Jesus’ parable answers Peter’s question. He was speaking to the disciples because they are his apostles, his sent ones and to them are given the keys of the Kingdom. Specifically he is speaking to Peter as the leader of the apostles, and to James and John as well, the inner three. The twelve all knew about their relationships with Jesus and his relationship with the three. This parable outlines in another way what Jesus has already taught about servant leadership in his Kingdom. Leaders are servants and stewards of God’s church. They are his people not our people. It is his church and not ours! Even to us Jesus will return at a time when we are not expecting him. Our job as leaders is to be ready for him and to give an accounting of our stewardship!

Verses 49-59

Luk 12:49-59

Commentary 12:49-59

Galen Doughty

Luke 12:49-53 - Jesus sounds like John the Baptist here in Luke 12:49-50. John had said Jesus was going to bring the Holy Spirit and fire. Jesus is bringing the fire of God’s presence in the Holy Spirit and the Kingdom of God but he must go through his own fire, the baptism of the fire of God’s judgment on the cross. He is distressed until it is completed! Jesus was not looking forward to the suffering of the cross but to what would come after. He would be resurrected and return to heaven and send the Spirit on all his disciples. These verses reflect the language of Hebrews 12 that Jesus endured the cross despising its shame for the joy that was set before him.

He is the Prince of Peace of Isaiah 9 and Zechariah 9 yet here Jesus says he comes not to bring peace on earth but division. The angels had sung peace on earth but that had related to God and human beings. Here Jesus says his mission will bring division between human beings.

Families will be divided because of him, including fathers and sons and mothers and daughters. This is Simeon’s prophecy coming true. Jesus is the dividing line of history. Our relationship with him determines everything not our relationships with our families. This means families will be divided in eternity, some who accept Christ and others who do not. Our eternal destiny is determined by what we do with Jesus Christ and not what family we belong to. Who we are into eternity is determined by our relationship with Jesus not by who our parents or brothers or sisters are. Jesus is the center. This would have been a radical idea for the disciples to try and understand because people and family were everything!

Luke 12:54-56 - Jesus tells the crowd to look at the signs in order to understand what is happening. They know how to predict the weather yet they cannot interpret what is happening in front of them in Jesus. I think here Jesus is talking about his current mission and not the second coming. This saying is given to the crowd and not the disciples. He’s trying to get them to understand he is the Messiah and salvation and the Kingdom are being offered to them through him. But they are resistive and dense. They don’t see the miracles or his teaching or anything that Jesus is doing as fulfilling prophecy. They are so wrapped up in their kingly, military messianic expectations that they do not see that Jesus is fulfilling so many other messianic prophecies and all of the prophecies of God’s Servant!

Compare what he says here to the crowd about interpreting the signs and what he says to the disciples about coming at an hour we least expect it.

Luke 12:57-59 - At first glance this saying seems out of place. Yet Jesus is telling them understand the situation and make peace, be reconciled to God and to one another. Your adversary in this instance is Jesus, the Messiah, not Satan the accuser. The signs are all around that Jesus is who he says he is, God himself and the Messiah. Take note; figure it out! Judgment is coming because the judge is here, now! Make peace with him and with the Father because if you do not you may not have another chance!

In context the saying does make sense because Jesus is saying they are in a crisis. They are being judged even as they speak. The final verdict of God is going to be pronounced over the human race at the cross. Jesus is telling them the time is short; the time to decide is here. Choose life. Choose Jesus and his forgiveness!

Questions by E.M. Zerr For Luke Chapter Twelve

1. Describe the situation of the people.

2. What warning did Jesus give them ?

3. Identify this leaven.

4. What was to be done with hidden things ?

5. Of whom need they not be afraid?

6. What can the other do that we should fear?

7. Who is that person?

8. What shows God’s care for little things?

9. How are the hairs of our head regarded ?

10. Now state his conclusion from this.

11. Who will be confessed or denied?

12. Where will this take place?

13. What is worse than speaking against the Son of man ?

14. State how it will be treated.

15. To what places were disciples to be brought?

16. How must they prepare their speech?

17. From what source will the subject matter come?

18. What temporal favor did one ask of Jesus?

19. Why would he not grant it?

20. Of what did he advise to take heed ?

21. Give his reason.

22. What increased for a certain rich man?

23. Tell the difficulty that was facing him.

24. And how was he to solve the problem ?

25. Is it wrong to produce crops?

26. Is it wrong to preserve them ?

27. What did this man do that was wrong?

28. Tell what was foolish about this.

29. What treasure is to be encouraged?

30. Of what should we not be over anxious?

31. What are greater than meat and raiment?

32. To what creatures does Christ refer for example ?

33. Does this mean we should do nothing ourselves?

34. Why?

35. Give another reason for not worrying.

36. How certain was the destiny of lilies?

37. Was their glory correspondingly small?

38. What glory did theirs excel?

39. Of what littleness did he accuse them?

40. What seeking should be done ?

41. Then what?

42. Why should the flock not fear?

43. What distribution was advised?

44. This would obtain what credits for them?

45. State distance between the heart and treasure.

46. What state of preparation should we maintain ?

47. For what event is this ?

48. How should the Lord find his servants ?

49. Tell how they will be honored.

50. Just at what watch will he come?

51. What does the householder not know?

52. For this reason what should be done?

53. State Peter’s question.

54. And the answer.

55. State the reward of the watchful waiting.

56. If impatient what might the servant do?

57. While so doing what will appear?

58. What will then come to this servant?

59. Tell what determines responsibility of servants.

60. Of whom will more be required?

61. For what had Christ come?

62. What did he find?

63. What baptism of his was then future?

64. Instead of peace what would he give?

65. Between what elements will this come?

66. What signs were the people considering?

67. Which were they not considering?

68. For this what did he call them?

69. Explain verse 57.

70. Give his advice on law settlements.

Luke Chapter Twelve

By Ralph L. Starling

Such a crowd gathered, it was hard to believe.

He warned His disciples about the leaven of the Pharisees,

Telling them nothing is hidden, all will be revealed.

Fear Him who has the power of hell with no repeal.

Jesus said, “Confess me before men, I’ll confess you before Him.

Deny me before men, I’ll deny you then.

When the ‘Powers’ question, you’ll have it made.

The Holy Ghost will tell you what to say.”

One in the company asked for His assistance,

How to get his brother to divide His inheritance?

Jesus said, “Life is not the abundance of possessions”

And that he should be aware of covetousness.

He spoke a parable for him to digest.

A man who said the goal was to be rich.

He put all his faith in his having a lot

And not making sure he was rich toward God.

He continued, “Life is more than meat

And the body more than raiment.

Consider how God takes care of His creation

And He will take care of you without question.”

Blessed will you be if you are found watching

For the Lord can appear without knocking.

He that is ready will be grateful.

For those who are not, it will be painful.

Bibliographical Information
"Commentary on Luke 12". "Old & New Testament Restoration Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/onr/luke-12.html.
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