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Bible Commentaries

Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament
Luke 12



Verse 1

In the meantime (εν οιςen hois). It is a classic idiom to start a sentence or even a paragraph as here with a relative, “in which things or circumstances,” without any expressed antecedent other than the incidents in Luke 11:53. In Luke 12:3 Luke actually begins the sentence with two relatives αντ ων οσαanth' hōn hosa (wherefore whatsoever).

Many thousands (μυριαδωνmuriadōn). Genitive absolute with επισυναχτεισωνepisunachtheisōn (first aorist passive participle feminine plural because of μυριαδωνmuriadōn), a double compound late verb, επισυναγωepisunagō to gather together unto. The word “myriads” is probably hyperbolical as in Acts 21:20, but in the sense of ten thousand, as in Acts 19:19, it means a very large crowd apparently drawn together by the violent attacks of the rabbis against Jesus.

Insomuch that they trode one upon another (ωστε καταπατειν αλληλουςhōste katapatein allēlous). The imagination must complete the picture of this jam.

Unto his disciples first of all (προς τους ματητας αυτου πρωτονpros tous mathētas autou prōton). This long discourse in Luke 12 is really a series of separate talks to various groups in the vast crowds around Jesus. This particular talk goes through Luke 12:12.

Beware of (προσεχετε εαυτοις αποprosechete heautois apo). Put your mind (νουνnoun understood) for yourselves (dative) and avoid (αποapo with the ablative).

The leaven of the Pharisees which is hypocrisy (της ζυμης ητις εστιν υποχρισις των Παρισαιωνtēs zumēs hētis estin hupocrisis tōn Pharisaiōn). In Mark 8:15 Jesus had coupled the lesson of the Pharisees with that of Herod, in Matthew 16:6 with that of the Sadducees also. He had long ago called the Pharisees hypocrites (Matthew 6:2, Matthew 6:5, Matthew 6:16). The occasion was ripe here for this crisp saying. In Matthew 13:33 leaven does not have an evil sense as here. See note on Matthew 23:13 for hypocrites. Hypocrisy was the leading Pharisaic vice (Bruce) and was a mark of sanctity to hide an evil heart.

Verse 2

Covered up (συγκεκαλυμμενον εστινsugkekalummenon estin). Periphrastic perfect passive indicative of συγκαλυπτωsugkaluptō an old verb, but here only in the N.T., to cover up on all sides and so completely. Luke 12:2 here are parallel with Matthew 10:26-33 spoken to the Twelve on their tour of Galilee, illustrating again how often Jesus repeated his sayings unless we prefer to say that he never did so and that the Gospels have hopelessly jumbled them as to time and place. See the passage in Matthew for discussion of details.

Verse 3

In the inner chambers (εν τοις ταμειοιςen tois tameiois). Old form ταμιειονtamieion a store chamber (Luke 12:24), secret room (Matthew 6:6; Luke 12:3).

Verse 4

Unto you my friends (υμιν τοις πιλοιςhumin tois philois). As opposed to the Pharisees and lawyers in Luke 11:43, Luke 11:46, Luke 11:53.

Be not afraid of (μη ποβητητε αποmē phobēthēte apo). First aorist passive subjunctive with μηmē ingressive aorist, do not become afraid of, with αποapo and the ablative like the Hebrew μη εχοντων περισσοτερον τι ποιησαιmin and the English “be afraid of,” a translation Hebraism as in Matthew 10:28 (Moulton, Prolegomena, p. 102).

Have no more that they can do (εχωmē echontōn perissoteron ti poiēsai). Luke often uses the infinitive thus with echō a classic idiom (Luke 7:40, Luke 7:42; Luke 12:4, Luke 12:50; Luke 14:14; Acts 4:14, etc.).

Verse 5

Whom ye shall fear (τινα ποβητητεtina phobēthēte). First aorist passive subjunctive deliberative retained in the indirect question. ΤιναTina is the accusative, the direct object of this transitive passive verb (note αποapo in Luke 12:4).

Fear him who (ποβητητε τονphobēthēte ton). First aorist passive imperative, differing from the preceding form only in the accent and governing the accusative also.

After he hath killed (μετα το αποκτειναιmeta to apokteinai). Preposition μεταmeta with the articular infinitive. Literally, “After the killing” (first aorist active infinitive of the common verb αποκτεινωapokteinō to kill.

Into hell (εις την γεεννανeis tēn geennan). See note on Matthew 5:22. Gehenna is a transliteration of τουτον ποβητητεGė -Hinnom Valley of Hinnon where the children were thrown on to the red-hot arms of Molech. Josiah (2 Kings 23:10) abolished these abominations and then it was a place for all kinds of refuse which burned ceaselessly and became a symbol of punishment in the other world.

This one fear (touton phobēthēte). As above.

Verse 6

Is forgotten (εστιν επιλελησμενονestin epilelēsmenon). Periphrastic perfect passive indicative of επιλαντανομαιepilanthanomai common verb to forget. See Matthew 10:29 for a different construction.

Verse 7

Numbered (ηριτμηνταιērithmēntai). Perfect passive indicative. Periphrastic form in Matthew 10:30 which see for details about sparrows, etc.

Verse 8

Everyone who shall confess me (πας ος αν ομολογησει εν εμοιpas hos an homologēsei en emoi). Just like Matthew 10:32 except the use of ανan here which adds nothing. The Hebraistic use of ενen after ομολογεωhomologeō both here and in Matthew is admitted by even Moulton (Prolegomena, p. 104).

The Son of man (ο υιος του αντρωπουho huios tou anthrōpou). Here Matthew 10:32 has καγωk'agō (I also) as the equivalent.

Verse 9

Shall be denied (απαρνητησεταιaparnēthēsetai). First future passive of the compound verb απαρνεομαιaparneomai Here Matthew 10:33 has αρνησομαιarnēsomai simply. Instead of “in the presence of the angels of God” (εμπροστεν των αγγελων του τεουemprosthen tōn aggelōn tou theou) Matthew 10:33 has “before my Father who is in heaven.”

Verse 10

But unto him that blasphemeth against the Holy Spirit (τωι δε εις το αγιον πνευμα βλασπημησαντιtōi de eis to hagion pneuma blasphēmēsanti). This unpardonable sin is given by Mark 3:28.; Matthew 12:31. immediately after the charge that Jesus was in league with Beelzebub. Luke here separates it from the same charge made in Judea (Luke 11:15-20). As frequently said, there is no sound reason for saying that Jesus only spoke his memorable sayings once. Luke apparently finds a different environment here. Note the use of ειςeis here in the sense of “against.”

Verse 11

Be not anxious (μη μεριμνησητεmē merimnēsēte). First aorist active subjunctive with μηmē in prohibition. Do not become anxious. See a similar command to the Twelve on their Galilean tour (Matthew 10:19.) and in the great discourse on the Mount of Olives at the end (Mark 13:11; Luke 21:14.), given twice by Luke as we see.

How or what ye shall answer (πως η τι απολογησηστεpōs ē ti apologēsēsthe). Indirect question and retaining the deliberative subjunctive απολογησηστεapologēsēsthe and also ειπητεeipēte (say).

Verse 12

What ye ought to say (α δει ειπεινhā dei eipein). Literally, what things it is necessary (δειdei) to say. This is no excuse for neglect in pulpit preparation. It is simply a word for courage in a crisis to play the man for Christ and to trust the issue with God without fear.

Verse 13

Bid my brother (ειπε τωι αδελπωι μουeipe tōi adelphōi mou). This volunteer from the crowd draws attention to the multitude (Luke 12:13-21). He does not ask for arbitration and there is no evidence that his brother was willing for that. He wants a decision by Jesus against his brother. The law (Deuteronomy 21:17) was two-thirds to the elder, one-third to the younger.

Verse 14

A judge or a divider (κριτην η μεριστηνkritēn ē meristēn). Jesus repudiates the position of judge or arbiter in this family fuss. The language reminds one of Exodus 2:14. Jesus is rendering unto Caesar the things of Caesar (Luke 20:25) and shows that his kingdom is not of this world (John 18:36). The word for divider or arbiter (μεριστηςmeristēs) is a late word from μεριζομαιmerizomai (Luke 12:13) and occurs here only in the N.T.

Verse 15

From all covetousness (απο πασης πλεονεχιαςapo pasēs pleonexias). Ablative case. From every kind of greedy desire for more (πλεονpleon more, εχιαhexia from εχωechō to have) an old word which we have robbed of its sinful aspects and refined to mean business thrift.

In the abundance of the things which he possesseth (εν τωι περισσευειν τινι εκ των υπαρχοντων αυτωιen tōi perisseuein tini ek tōn huparchontōn autōi). A rather awkward Lukan idiom: “In the abounding (articular infinitive) to one out of the things belonging (articular participle) to him.”

Verse 16

A parable unto them (παραβολην προς αυτουςparabolēn pros autous). The multitude of Luke 12:13, Luke 12:15. A short and pungent parable suggested by the covetousness of the man of Luke 12:13.

Brought forth plentifully (ευπορησενeuphorēsen). Late word from ευποροςeuphoros (bearing well), in medical writers and Josephus, here only in the N.T.

Verse 17

Reasoned within himself (διελογιζετο εν αυτωιdielogizeto en hautōi). Imperfect middle, picturing his continued cogitations over his perplexity.

Where to bestow (που συναχωpou sunaxō). Future indicative deliberative, where I shall gather together.

My fruits (τους καρπους μουtous karpous mou). So it is with the rich fool: my fruits, my barns, my corn, my goods, just like Nabal whose very name means fool (1 Samuel 25:11), whether a direct reference to him or not.

Verse 18

I will pull down (κατελωkathelō). Future active of καταιρεωkathaireō an old verb, the usual future being καταιρησωkathairēsō This second form from the second aorist κατειλονkatheilon (from obsolete ελωhelō) like απελειaphelei in Revelation 22:19.

My barns (μου τας αποτηκαςmou tas apothēkas). From αποτιτημιapotithēmi to lay by, to treasure. So a granary or storehouse, an old word, six times in the N.T. (Matthew 3:12; Matthew 6:26; Matthew 13:30; Luke 3:17; Luke 12:18, Luke 12:24).

All my corn (παντα τον σιτονpanta ton siton). Better grain (wheat, barley), not maize or Indian corn.

My goods (τα αγατα μουta agatha mou). Like the English, my good things. So the English speak of goods (freight) train.

Verse 19

Laid up for many years (κειμενα εις ετη πολλαkeimena eis etē polla). Not in D and some other Latin MSS. The man‘s apostrophe to his “soul” (πσυχηpsuchē) is thoroughly Epicurean, for his soul feeds on his goods. The asyndeton here (take thine ease, eat, drink, be merry) shows his eagerness. Note difference in tenses (αναπαυουanapauou keep on resting, παγεphage eat at once, πιεpie drink thy fill, ευπραινουeuphrainou keep on being merry), first and last presents, the other two aorists.

Verse 20

Thou foolish one (απρωνaphrōn). Fool, for lack of sense (αa privative and πρηνphrēn sense) as in Luke 11:40; 2 Corinthians 11:19. Old word, used by Socrates in Xenophon. Nominative form as vocative.

Is thy soul required of thee (την πσυχην σου αιτουσιν απο σουtēn psuchēn sou aitousin apo sou). Plural active present, not passive: “They are demanding thy soul from thee.” The impersonal plural (aitousin) is common enough (Luke 6:38; Luke 12:11; Luke 16:9; Luke 23:31). The rabbis used “they” to avoid saying “God.”

Verse 21

Not rich toward God (μη εις τεον πλουτωνmē eis theon ploutōn). The only wealth that matters and that lasts. Cf. Luke 16:9; Matthew 6:19. Some MSS. do not have this verse. Westcott and Hort bracket it.

Verse 22

Unto his disciples (προς τους ματητας αυτουpros tous mathētas autou). So Jesus turns from the crowd to the disciples (verses 22-40, when Peter interrupts the discourse). From here to the end of the chapter Luke gives material that appears in Matthew, but not in one connection as here. In Matthew part of it is in the charge to the Twelve on their tour in Galilee, part in the eschatological discourse on the Mount of Olives. None of it is in Mark. Hence Q or the Logia seems to be the source of it. The question recurs again whether Jesus repeated on other occasions what is given here or whether Luke has here put together separate discourses as Matthew is held by many to have done in the Sermon on the Mount. We have no way of deciding these points. We can only say again that Jesus would naturally repeat his favourite sayings like other popular preachers and teachers. So Luke 12:22-31 corresponds to Matthew 6:25-33, which see notes for detailed discussion. The parable of the rich fool was spoken to the crowd, but this exhortation to freedom from care (Luke 12:22) is to the disciples. So the language in Luke 12:22 is precisely that in Matthew 6:25. See there for μη μεριμνατεmē merimnāte (stop being anxious) and the deliberative subjunctive retained in the indirect question (παγητε ενδυσηστεphagēte ουχendusēsthe). So Luke 12:23 here is the same in Matthew 6:25 except that there it is a question with γαρouch expecting the affirmative answer, whereas here it is given as a reason (gar for) for the preceding command.

Verse 24

The ravens (τους κορακαςtous korakas). Nowhere else in the N.T. The name includes the whole crow group of birds (rooks and jackdaws). Like the vultures they are scavengers. Matthew 6:26 has simply “the birds” (τα πετειναta peteina).

Storechamber (ποσωι μαλλονtameion). Not in Matthew 6:26. Means secret chamber in Luke 12:3.

Of how much more (ουχ μαλλονposōi māllon). Matthew 6:26 has question, ouch māllon f0).

Verse 25

A cubit (πηχυνpēchun). Matthew 6:27 has πηχυν εναpēchun hena (one cubit, though εναhena is sometimes merely the indefinite article.

Stature (ηλικιανhēlikian) as in Matthew, which see note.

Verse 26

Not able to do even that which is least (ουδε ελαχιστον δυναστεoude elachiston dunasthe). Negative ουδεoude in the condition of the first class. Elative superlative, very small. This verse not in Matthew and omitted in D. Luke 12:27 as in Matthew 6:28, save that the verbs for toil and spin are plural in Matthew and singular here (neuter plural subject, τα κριναta krina).

Verse 28

Clothe (αμπιαζειamphiazei). Late Greek verb in the Koiné (papyri) for the older form αμπιεννυμιamphiennumi (Matthew 6:30). See Matthew for discussion of details. Matthew has “the grass of the field” instead of “the grass in the field” as here.

Verse 29

Seek not ye (υμεις μη ζητειτεhumeis mē zēteite). Note emphatic position of “ye” (υμειςhumeis). Stop seeking (μηmē and present imperative active). Matthew 6:31 has: “Do not become anxious” (μη μεριμνησητεmē merimnēsēte), μηmē and ingressive subjunctive occur as direct questions (What are we to eat? What are we to drink? What are we to put on?) whereas here they are in the indirect form as in Luke 12:22 save that the problem of clothing is not here mentioned.

Neither be ye of doubtful mind (και μη μετεωριζεστεkai mē meteōrizesthe). ΜηMē and present passive imperative (stop being anxious) of μετεωριζωmeteōrizō An old verb from μετεωροςmeteōros in midair, high (our meteor), to lift up on high, then to lift oneself up with hopes (false sometimes), to be buoyed up, to be tossed like a ship at sea, to be anxious, to be in doubt as in late writers (Polybius, Josephus). This last meaning is probably true here. In the lxx and Philo, but here only in the N.T.


Verse 31

See note on Matthew 6:33 for this verse. Luke does not have “first” nor “his righteousness” nor “all.”

Verse 32

Little flock (το μικρον ποιμνιονto mikron poimnion). Vocative with the article as used in Hebrew and often in the Koiné and so in the N.T. See both πατερpater and ο πατηρho patēr in the vocative in Luke 10:21. See Robertson, Grammar, pp. 465f. ΠοιμνιονPoimnion (flock) is a contraction from ποιμενιονpoimenion from ποιμηνpoimēn (shepherd) instead of the usual ποιμνηpoimnē (flock). So it is not a diminutive and μικρονmikron is not superfluous, though it is pathetic.

For it is your Father‘s good pleasure (οτι ευδοκησεν ο πατηρ υμωνhoti eudokēsen ho patēr humōn). First aorist active indicative of ευδοκεωeudokeō Timeless aorist as in Luke 3:22. This verse has no parallel in Matthew.

Verse 33

Sell that ye have (Πωλησατε τα υπαρχοντα υμωνPōlēsate ta huparchonta humōn). Not in Matthew. Did Jesus mean this literally and always? Luke has been charged with Ebionism, but Jesus does not condemn property as inherently sinful. “The attempt to keep the letter of the rule here given (Acts 2:44, Acts 2:45) had disastrous effects on the church of Jerusalem, which speedily became a church of paupers, constantly in need of alms (Romans 15:25, Romans 15:26; 1 Corinthians 16:3; 2 Corinthians 8:4; 2 Corinthians 9:1)” (Plummer).

Purses which wax not old (βαλλαντια μη παλαιουμεναballantia mē palaioumena). So already βαλλαντιονballantion in Luke 10:4. Late verb παλαιοωpalaioō from παλαιοςpalaios old, to make old, declare old as in Hebrews 8:13, is passive to become old as here and Hebrews 1:11.

That faileth not (ανεκλειπτονanekleipton). Verbal from αa privative and εκλειπωekleipō to fail. Late word in Diodorus and Plutarch. Only here in the N.T. or lxx, but in papyri. “I prefer to believe that even Luke sees in the words not a mechanical rule, but a law for the spirit” (Bruce).

Draweth near (εγγιζειeggizei). Instead of Matthew 6:19 “dig through and steal.”

Destroyeth (διαπτειρειdiaphtheirei). Instead of “doth consume” in Matthew 6:19.

Verse 34

Will be (εσταιestai). Last word in the sentence in Luke. Otherwise like Matthew 6:21. See notes on 1 Corinthians 7:32-34 for similar principle.

Verse 35

Be girded about (εστωσαν περιεζωσμεναιestōsan periezōsmenai). Periphrastic perfect passive imperative third plural of the verb περιζωννυμιperizōnnumi or περιζωννυωperizōnnuō (later form), an old verb, to gird around, to fasten the garments with a girdle. The long garments of the orientals made speed difficult. It was important to use the girdle before starting. Cf. Luke 17:8; Acts 12:8.

Burning (καιομενοιkaiomenoi). Periphrastic present middle imperative, already burning and continuously burning. The same point of the Parable of the Ten Virgins (Matthew 25:1-13) is found here in condensed form. This verse introduces the parable of the waiting servants (Luke 12:35-40).

Verse 36

When he shall return from the marriage feast (ποτε αναλυσηι εκ των γαμωνpote analusēi ek tōn gamōn). The interrogative conjunction ποτεpote and the deliberative aorist subjunctive retained in the indirect question. The verb αναλυωanaluō very common Greek verb, but only twice in the N.T. (here and Philemon 1:23). The figure is breaking up a camp or loosening the mooring of a ship, to depart. Perhaps here the figure is from the standpoint of the wedding feast (plural as used of a single wedding feast in Luke 14:8), departing from there. See note on Matthew 22:2.

When he cometh and knocketh (elthontos kai krousantos). Genitive absolute of the aorist active participle without autou and in spite of ελτοντος και κρουσαντοςautoi (dative) being used after αυτουanoixōsin (first aorist active subjunctive of αυτοιanoigō).


Verse 37

He shall gird himself (περιζωσεταιperizōsetai). Direct future middle. Jesus did this (John 13:4), not out of gratitude, but to give the apostles an object lesson in humility. See the usual course in Luke 17:7-10 with also the direct middle (Luke 17:8) of περισωννυωperisōnnuō f0).

Verse 38

And if (καν και εανk'an = Ελτηιkai + ευρηιean). Repeated. εανElthēi and μακαριοιheurēi both second aorist subjunctive with ean condition of the third class, undetermined, but with prospect of being determined.

Blessed (makarioi). Beatitude here as in Luke 12:37.

Verse 39

The thief (ο κλεπτηςho kleptēs). The change here almost makes a new parable to illustrate the other, the parable of the housebreaking (Luke 12:39, Luke 12:40) to illustrate the parable of the waiting servants (Luke 12:35). This same language appears in Matthew 24:43. “The Master returning from a wedding is replaced by a thief whose study it is to come to the house he means to plunder at an unexpected time” (Bruce). The parallel in Matthew 24:43-51 with Luke 12:39-46 does not have the interruption by Peter.

He would have watched (εγρηγορησεν ανegrēgorēsen an). Apodosis of second-class condition, determined as unfulfilled, made plain by use of ανan with aorist indicative which is not repeated with ουκ απηκενouk aphēken (first aorist active indicative of απιημιaphiēmi κk aorist), though it is sometimes repeated (Matthew 24:43).

Verse 40

Be ye (γινεστεginesthe). Present middle imperative, keep on becoming.

Cometh (ερχεταιerchetai). Futuristic present indicative. See Matthew 24:43-51 for details in the comparison with Luke.

Verse 41

Peter said (Ειπεν δε ο ΠετροςEipen de ho Petros). This whole paragraph from verse 22-40 had been addressed directly to the disciples. Hence it is not surprising to find Peter putting in a question. This incident confirms also the impression that Luke is giving actual historical data in the environment of these discourses. He is certain that the Twelve are meant, but he desires to know if others are included, for he had spoken to the multitude in Luke 12:13-21. Recall Mark 13:37. This interruption is somewhat like that on the Mount of Transfiguration (Luke 9:33) and is characteristic of Peter. Was it the magnificent promise in Luke 12:37 that stirred Peter‘s impulsiveness? It is certainly more than a literary device of Luke. Peter‘s question draws out a parabolic reply by Jesus (Luke 12:42).

Verse 42

Who then (τις αραtis ara). Jesus introduces this parable of the wise steward (Luke 12:42) by a rhetorical question that answers itself. Peter is this wise steward, each of the Twelve is, anyone is who acts thus.

The faithful and wise steward (ο πιστος οικονομος ο προνιμοςho pistos oikonomos ho phronimos). The faithful steward, the wise one. A steward is house manager (οικοσ νεμωoikos τεραπειαςnemō to manage). Each man is a steward in his own responsibilities.

Household (τεραπευωtherapeias). Literally, service from το σιτομετριονtherapeuō medical service as in Luke 9:11, by metonymy household (a body of those domestics who serve).

Their portion of food (σιτομετρεωto sitometrion). Late word from τον σιτον μετρεωsitometreō (Genesis 47:12) for the Attic ton siton metreō to measure the food, the rations. Here only in the N.T. or anywhere else till Deissmann (Bible Studies, p. 158) found it in an Egyptian papyrus and then an inscription in Lycia (Light from the Ancient East, p. 104).

Verse 44

Over all (επι πασινepi pāsin). See Matthew 24:47 for επιepi with locative in this sense. Usually with genitive as in Luke 12:42 and sometimes with accusative as in Luke 12:14.

Verse 45

Shall say (ειπηιeipēi). Second aorist subjunctive, with εανean condition of the third class, undetermined, but with prospect of being determined.

Delayeth (χρονιζειchronizei). From χρονοςchronos time, spends time, lingers.

Shall begin (αρχηταιarxētai). First aorist middle subjunctive with εανean and the same condition as ειπηιeipēi above.

The menservants (τους παιδαςtous paidas) and the maidservants (και τας παιδισκαςkai tas paidiskas). ΠαιδισκηPaidiskē is a diminutive of παιςpais for a young female slave and occurs in the papyri, orginally just a damsel. Here παιςpais can mean slave also though strictly just a boy.

Verse 46

Shall cut him asunder (διχοτομησειdichotomēsei). An old and somewhat rare word from διχοτομοςdichotomos and that from διχαdicha and τεμνωtemnō to cut, to cut in two. Used literally here. In the N.T. only here and Matthew 24:51.

With the unfaithful (μετα των απιστωνmeta tōn apistōn). Not here “the unbelieving” though that is a common meaning of απιστοςapistos (αa privative and πιστοςpistos from πειτωpeithō), but the unreliable, the untrustworthy. Here Matthew 24:51 has “with the hypocrites,” the same point. The parallel with Matthew 24:43-51 ends here. Matthew 24:51 adds the saying about the wailing and the gnashing of teeth. Clearly there Luke places the parable of the wise steward in this context while Matthew has it in the great eschatological discourse. Once again we must either think that Jesus repeated the parable or that one of the writers has misplaced it. Luke alone preserves what he gives in Luke 12:47, Luke 12:48.

Verse 47

Which knew (ο γνουςho gnous). Articular participle (second aorist active, punctiliar and timeless). The one who knows. So as to μη ετοιμασας η ποιησαςmē hetoimasas ē poiēsas (does not make ready or do).

Shall be beaten with many stripes (δαρησεται πολλαςdarēsetai pollas). Second future passive of δερωderō to skin, to beat, to flay (see on Matthew 21:35; Mark 12:3, Mark 12:5). The passive voice retains here the accusative πολλαςpollas (supply πληγαςplēgas present in Luke 10:30). The same explanation applies to ολιγαςoligas in Luke 12:48.

Verse 48

To whomsoever much is given (παντι δε ωι εδοτη πολυpanti de hōi edothē polu). Here is inverse attraction from οιhoi to παντιpanti (Robertson, Grammar, pp. 767f.). Note παρ αυτουpar' autou (from him) without any regard to παντιpanti commit (παρετεντοparethento). Second aorist middle indicative, timeless or gnomic aorist. Note the impersonal plural after the passive voice just before.

Verse 49

I came to cast fire (Πυρ ηλτον βαλεινPur ēlthon balein). Suddenly Jesus lets the volcano in his own heart burst forth. The fire was already burning. “Christ came to set the world on fire, and the conflagration had already begun” (Plummer). The very passion in Christ‘s heart would set his friends on fire and his foes in opposition as we have just seen (Luke 11:53.). It is like the saying of Jesus that he came to bring not peace, but a sword, to bring cleavage among men (Matthew 10:34-36).

And what will I, if it is already kindled? (και τι τελω ει ηδη ανηπτηkai ti thelō ei ēdē anēphthē̱). It is not clear what this passage means. Probably τιti is be taken in the sense of “how” (πωςpōs). How I wish. Then ειei can be taken as equal to οτιhoti How I wish that it were already kindled. ΑνηπτηAnēphthē is first aorist passive of αναπτωanaptō to set fire to, to kindle, to make blaze. Probably Luke means the conflagration to come by his death on the Cross for he changes the figure and refers to that more plainly.

Verse 50

I have a baptism (βαπτισμα δε εχωbaptisma de echō). Once again Jesus will call his baptism the baptism of blood and will challenge James and John to it (Mark 10:32.; Matthew 20:22.). So here. “Having used the metaphor of fire, Christ now uses the metaphor of water. The one sets forth the result of his coming as it affects the world, the other as it affects himself. The world is lit up with flames and Christ is bathed in blood” (Plummer).

And how I am straitened (και πως συνεχομαιkai pōs sunechomai). See this same vivid verb συνεχομαιsunechomai in Luke 8:37; Acts 18:5; Philemon 1:23 where Paul uses it of his desire for death just as Jesus does here. The urge of the Cross is upon Jesus at the moment of these words. We catch a glimpse of the tremendous passion in his soul that drove him on.

Till it be accomplished (εως οτου τελεστηιheōs hotou telesthēi). First aorist passive subjunctive of τελεωteleō with εως οτουheōs hotou (until which time), the common construction for the future with this conjunction.

Verse 51

But rather division (αλλ η διαμερισμονall' ē diamerismon). Peace at any price is not the purpose of Christ. It is a pity for family jars to come, but loyalty to Christ counts more than all else. These ringing words (Luke 12:51-53) occur in Matthew 10:34-36 in the address to the Twelve for the Galilean tour. See discussion of details there. These family feuds are inevitable where only part cleave to Christ. In Matthew we have καταkata with the genitive whereas in Luke it is επιepi with the dative (and accusative once).

Verse 54

To the multitudes also (και τοις οχλοιςkai tois ochlois). After the strong and stirring words just before with flash and force Jesus turns finally in this series of discourses to the multitudes again as in Luke 12:15. There are similar sayings to these Luke 12:54-59 in Matthew 16:1; Matthew 5:25. There is a good deal of difference in phraseology whether that is due to difference of source or different use of the same source (Q or Logia) we do not know. Not all the old MSS. give Matthew 16:2, Matthew 16:3. In Matthew the Pharisees and Sadducees were asking for a sign from heaven as they often did. These signs of the weather, “a shower” (ομβροςombros Luke 12:54) due to clouds in the west, “a hot wave” (καυσωνkausōn Luke 12:55) due to a south wind (νοτονnoton) blowing, “fair weather” (ευδιαeudia Matthew 16:2) when the sky is red, are appealed to today. They have a more or less general application due to atmospheric and climatic conditions.

Verse 56

To interpret this time (τον καιρον τουτον δοκιμαζεινton kairon touton dokimazein). To test δοκιμαζεινdokimazein as spiritual chemists. No wonder that Jesus here calls them “hypocrites” because of their blindness when looking at and hearing him. So it is today with those who are willfully blind to the steps of God among men. This ignorance of the signs of the times is colossal.

Verse 57

Even of yourselves (και απ εαυτωνkai aph' heautōn). Without the presence and teaching of Jesus they had light enough to tell what is right (το δικαιονto dikaion) and so without excuse as Paul argued in Romans 1-3.

Verse 58

Give diligence to be quit of him (δος εργασιαν απηλλαχται απ αυτουdos ergasian apēllachthai ap' autou). Second aorist active imperative δοςdos from διδωμιdidōmi ΑπηλλαχταιApēllachthai perfect passive infinitive of απαλλασσωapallassō an old verb common, but only twice in the N.T. (here and Acts 19:12). Used here in a legal sense and the tense emphasizes a state of completion, to be rid of him for good.

Hale thee (κατασυρηιkatasurēi). Drag down forcibly, old verb, only here in the N.T.

To the officer (τωι πρακτοριtōi praktori). The doer, the proctor, the exactor of fines, the executor of punishment. Old word, only here in the N.T.

Verse 59

Till thou have paid (εως αποδωιςheōs apodōis). Second aorist active subjunctive of αποδιδωμιapodidōmi to pay back in full.

The last mite (το εσχατον λεπτονto eschaton lepton). From λεπωlepō to peel off the bark. Very small brass coin, one-eighth of an ounce. In the N.T. only here and Luke 21:2; Mark 12:42 (the poor widow‘s mite) which see note.


Copyright Statement
The Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament. Copyright Broadman Press 1932,33, Renewal 1960. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Broadman Press (Southern Baptist Sunday School Board)

Bibliography Information
Robertson, A.T. "Commentary on Luke 12:4". "Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament". Broadman Press 1932,33. Renewal 1960.

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Sunday, November 29th, 2020
the First Week of Advent
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