Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Luke 3:13

And he said to them, "Collect no more than what you have been ordered to."
New American Standard Version

Bible Study Resources

Concordances:
Nave's Topical Bible - Honesty;   Integrity;   Righteousness;   Tax;   Scofield Reference Index - Repentance;   Thompson Chain Reference - Awakenings and Religious Reforms;   Awakenings, Religious;   Business Life;   Extortion Condemned;   Vices;   The Topic Concordance - Deeds;   Torrey's Topical Textbook - Publicans;   Tribute;  
Dictionaries:
American Tract Society Bible Dictionary - Genealogy;   Mary;   Bridgeway Bible Dictionary - John the baptist;   Justice;   Repentance;   Tax collector;   Work;   Baker Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology - Baptize, Baptism;   John the Baptist;   Repentance;   Work;   Fausset Bible Dictionary - Gospels;   Publican;   Holman Bible Dictionary - John;   Luke, Gospel of;   Ordinances;   Repentance;   Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - John the Baptist;   Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament - Asceticism (2);   Benedictus;   Business (2);   Common Life;   Confession (of Sin);   Eternal Punishment;   Publican ;   Redemption (2);   Tribute;   Morrish Bible Dictionary - Herod, Family of;   Publicans;   Tribute;   Smith Bible Dictionary - Publican;  
Encyclopedias:
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Exact;   John the Baptist;   Luke, the Gospel of;   Sign;   The Jewish Encyclopedia - Christianity in Its Relation to Judaism;  

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

Exact - Demand, or take, no more.

Than that which is appointed - That is, by the government. John does not condemn the office, or say that the employment should be forsaken. Though it was hated by the people - though often abused and therefore unpopular - yet “the office itself” was not dishonorable. If there is a government, it must be supported; and of course there must be people whose duty it is to collect taxes, as the means of the proper support of the government; and as such a support of the government is necessary, so the people should pay cheerfully the just apportionment of their rulers, and regard favorably those who are authorized to collect it. See Romans 13:1-6.

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Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Luke 3:13". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/luke-3.html. 1870.

The Biblical Illustrator

Luke 3:13

Exact no more than that which is appointed you--

Oppressions and extortions of tax-gatherers

Present-day conditions of Eastern lands painfully illustrate the continuance of some of the most demoralizing customs of the past.
When the crop is reared, and while the winnowing is actually going on upon the threshing-floor, the tax-gatherer stands by and appropriates one-tenth as soon as the work is completed. The Mahommedan government adopts the oppressive system of the Romans, sells the tithes to the highest bidder, for a sum of money which he is ready enough to pay in advance. This purchaser, or farmer of the taxes, has then to make his profits on the transaction by forcing the most extravagant payments from the people, and in so doing he is armed with irresponsible authority. The tithe-gatherers go through the land, employing every device for the purpose of overreaching the cultivators of the soil, and obtaining from them more than their dues. The farmers are strictly ordered not to thresh their grain before the tax-gatherers are ready, which is the means of additional extortions. Crops, therefore, sometimes remain heaped upon the threshing-floors for many weeks, the distressed owners not daring to thresh and harvest them, and being compelled both to watch them by day and night, and to devise means to protect them from being wet with showers
. (Biblical Things not generally known.)

Exacting more than was just

In the Edinburgh Weekly Review we find some anecdotes relating to the Rev. William Anderson, D.D., more than fifty years pastor of the John Street United Presbyterian Church, of Glasgow, who died some time ago. He was one of the most eminent and beloved ministers of that city. He was once expounding the 15th Psalm, and had come to the word “usury”--“He putteth not out his money to usury.” “Does that mean,” he asked, “taking ten per cent or more? Not entirely. It means also the spirit in which the ten per cent is taken. There was once in this Church a poor widow, and she wanted twenty pounds to begin a small shop. Having no friends, she came to me, her minister. And I happened to know a man--not of this Church--who could advance the money to the poor widow. So we went to this man--the widow and I--and the man said he would be happy to help the widow. And he drew out a bill for £20, and the widow signed it, and I signed it too. Then he put the signed paper in his desk and took out the money and gave it to the widow. But the widow, counting it, said: ‘Sir, there is only £15 here.’ ‘It is all right,’ said the man; ‘that is the interest I charge.’ And, as we had no redress, we came away. But the widow prospered. And she brought the £20 to me, and I took it myself to the office of the man who lent it, and I said to him: ‘Sir, there is the £20 from the widow.’ And he said: ‘Here is the paper you signed, and if you know any other poor widow I will be happy to help her in the same way.’ I said to him: ‘You help the widow! Sir, you have robbed this widow, and you will be damned!’ And, my friends, I kept my eye on that man. And before six months were over, God smote him, and he died.” We can still recall, after many years, the creep of soul with which we listened to the closing sentences, and the vivid glimpse we got of a Divine retribution falling suddenly on a bad man.

The law of exaction

It gives us a fresh sense of the greatness of that reformer who makes this answer to see in it how free he was from the infirmities of his class. It is comparatively easy to see that things are wrong, and that they ought to be changed and righted. It is less easy, but still not uncommon, to have the courage that denounces wrong and that rebukes its perpetrators. It is quite another thing to have the practical insight and the patient determination that can discover a remedy for abuses and point the way to its successful application. There are wrongs that have been denounced and then forgotten, as though their denunciation and their repression were identical. And by such a course the moral sense of a community, of a man, becomes dulled, and at length slumbers and is inert. People see that behind the passionate voice there is wanting the guiding hand; that the scream of indignation somehow exhausts the impulse of reform, and that men who are eager in general terms to tell other men what they ought to do are quite powerless often to tell them how to do it. It explains the confidence with which men followed John the Baptist that he not only rebuked their vices, but that he showed them how to forsake them. “What shall we do?” “Do I” Bald John, “do something for your brother-man, Instead of hoarding, spend. Instead of accumulating, give. It is not much to do, but it is a beginning. Get your shrunken heart enlarged a little by making it sensible of the needs of others. Exact no more than that which is appointed. It is a law for all men, and of manifold application. Let us see this morning, as the preacher in the wilderness turns on it the strong, full light of this personal application, what that is which it has to say to us. At the base of every man’s consciousness is the sense of his relationship to God. While we are arguing about the existence of such a Being; the deepest convictions of men are more or less candidly owning it as beyond argument. Next to a man’s relations to his Maker are his relations to his fellows, and here the personal consciousness is far less certain or clear. What each one of us owes to our neighbour--in what spirit we shall maintain our business or social relations with our fellow-men--what is human brother hood, and how men shall practically illustrate it--these are questions concerning which many people are in frequent and serious perplexity. If you are a capitalist, and I am a tradesman, or a farmer, or a labourer, the time will almost inevitably come when in one way or another you will have me in your power. You are stronger than I am, like the Hebrew or Roman publicans. You may do with impunity things that I cannot. Above all, owing to my necessities, it may easily be that you have obtained a knowledge of my affairs, which gives you, in our business dealings, an overwhelming advantage. You can “freeze me out” after one fashion or another. You can foreclose on me, if I am a little behind in my interest. We read of men in civic place who, entrusted with the care of the stranger and the immigrant, make them welcome to these shores by robbing, and even ruining them. And our cheeks flush at an infamy so shameless and so inhuman. But here is some imposing personage to whom men bow obsequiously on ‘Change, and who finds a hospitable welcome at the tables of eminent Christian citizens, who only differs from the immigrant runner or a boarding-house striker in the bulk and the boldness of his transactions! In essence these are of precisely the same nature, for they are both trading upon the ignorance of the unsuspecting and wringing their profits out of the poverty of the poor and the weakness of the weak. To all such, and to you and me, just in so far as we are tempted by their success to descend to their methods, the gospel speaks in plain and stern rebuke, “Exact no more than that which is appointed you.” And no less does it say to that other life which most of us live in homes. Here, as between man and woman, parent and child, master and servant, there is a large field for undue and unwarrantable exactions. How many sweet and gracious relationships, begun in love, and cemented, it may be, by mutual sympathies, have been spoiled at length by a temper which was all the time throwing itself back upon its wifely or husbandly rights, and exacting not only these but more than these with a petulant impatience and peevish and fault-finding querulousness, a harsh imperiousness, which thought only of itself! In every such relation there is one who is stronger and one who is weaker. “I wish,” said a father to his son’s teacher, “that I could at least persuade my son to treat me like a gentleman.” “Suppose,” replied the other, “that you try the effect of treating him like a gentleman!” Does it ever occur to some of us that because God has constituted the family as a Divine institution in which the parent is king, it does not follow that our sovereignty is to be an absolute despotism. Few of us are in danger of working seven days in the week. Some of us would be happier if we did a little more work on the remaining six. But this at least we can do--we can protect on Sundays the rights of those who work for us. (Bishop H. C. Potter.)

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Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on "Luke 3:13". The Biblical Illustrator. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tbi/luke-3.html. 1905-1909. New York.

Coffman Commentaries on the Bible

And he said unto him, Extort no more than that which is appointed you.

Not tax collecting, but dishonest extortion was viewed as sin.

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Coffman Commentaries reproduced by permission of Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. All other rights reserved.
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Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on Luke 3:13". "Coffman Commentaries on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bcc/luke-3.html. Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

And he said unto them,.... Not by advising them to quit their employments, as if it was a thing unlawful to impose pay, and collect taxes, but by directing them to perform their office aright:

exact no more than that which is appointed you; by the government: there were two sorts of publicans; there were some that exacted more than what they were ordered, and settled the tax at their own pleasure, and collected what they would themselves; and these were very odious to the people, and were reckoned with the worst of sinners, as thieves and robbers; but there were others, who behaved according to the orders of the government, and these were submitted to, as appears from the Jewish canons:

"saysF19T. Bab. Bava Kama, fol. 113. 1. Samuel, the judgment a kingdom, is judgment (i.e. the orders of a government ought to be regarded); R. Chanina bar Cahana says, that Samuel says it of a publican, שאין לו קיצבה "who has nothing appointed for him": the house of R. Jannai say, of a publican that stands of himself.'

The gloss is,

""the judgment of a kingdom is judgment"; this is he that receives from a king, a tax (to gather) in a thing, קצוב, "that is fixed", so and so for the year, and he is no robber: "who has nothing appointed for him", but takes according to his whole will and pleasure.'

Maimonides expresses this in plainer languageF20Hilch. Gezala, c. 5. sect. 11,12. .

"in what things is it said that a publican is as thieves? when a Gentile publican, or a Gentile that stands of himself, or a publican that stands for the king, and hath nothing fixed for him, but he takes what he pleases, and leaves what he pleases: but a publican with whom the king agrees, and orders that he should take a third or a fourth, or, דבר קצוב "any thing that is appointed"; and he constitutes an Israelitish publican to collect that part for the king, and it is known that the man is faithful, and does not add any thing to what the king has decreed; he is not in the class of robbers, for the judgment of a king is judgment.--And so a king that lays a tax upon citizens, or upon every man and man, "a thing fixed"; or decrees, that whoever transgresses this thing, they shall take all his goods into the king's house; or that whatever shall be found in the field in the time of the barn (i.e. when it should be there) should pay tribute for it, whether he is the owner of the field or not: and so with respect to any thing else of this kind, it is not a robbery; and an Israelite that collects them for the king, is not in the number of robbers; for lo! he is right, and he does not add nor alter, nor take any thing to himself.'

Now such publicans as these, were received and submitted to, but others were rejected; so Moses Kotsensis saysF21Mitzvot Tora, pr. neg. 214. Vid. T. Bab. Sanhedrin, fol. 25. 2. Gloss in ib. , that

"publicans that take, יותר מדבר הקצוב להן "more than what is appointed for them", are rejected.'

From all which we may learn what publicans these were that came to John's baptism, and put the above question to him; that they were Jewish publicans, and not Gentiles; and therefore John says nothing to them, but what concerned their employment, which he doubtless would have done, if they had been ignorant Gentiles: and also we see the reason of his expressing himself in this manner, since publicans were very apt to go beyond their orders, and require more than was fixed for them to collect; and likewise that John, in this advice, spoke the sense of the Jews themselves; who did not refuse to pay tribute, excepting some few, provided no more was exacted, than the government appointed; and as temptations to such evils were very great, and it lay in the power of these men to impose on the people, and extort from them, to abstain from such practices was an argument of the fear of God, of the truth of grace, and of the sincerity of repentance.

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The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rights Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
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Bibliographical Information
Gill, John. "Commentary on Luke 3:13". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/luke-3.html. 1999.

Geneva Study Bible

And he said unto them, Exact no more than that which is b appointed you.

(b) Require no more than that sum that is appointed for the tribute money.
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Beza, Theodore. "Commentary on Luke 3:13". "The 1599 Geneva Study Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/gsb/luke-3.html. 1599-1645.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

Exact no more, etc. — directed against that extortion which made the publicans a byword. (See on Luke 19:2; see on Luke 19:8). (Also see on Matthew 3:10.)

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These files are a derivative of an electronic edition prepared from text scanned by Woodside Bible Fellowship.
This expanded edition of the Jameison-Faussett-Brown Commentary is in the public domain and may be freely used and distributed.
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Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Luke 3:13". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfb/luke-3.html. 1871-8.

John Lightfoot's Commentary on the Gospels

13. And he said unto them, Exact no more than that which is appointed you.

[Exact no more than that which is appointed you.] When the Rabbins saw that the publicans exacted too much, they rejected them, as not being fit to give their testimony in any case. Where the Gloss hath it, too much, that is more than that which is appointed them. And the father of R. Zeirah is commended in the same place, that he gently and honestly executed that trust: "He discharged the office of a publican for thirteen years: when the prince of the city came, and this publican saw the Rabbins, he was wont to say to them, Go, my people, enter thou into thy chambers, Isaiah 26:20." The Gloss is, "Lest the prince of the city should see you; and, taking notice what numbers you are, should increase his tax yearly."

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Lightfoot, John. "Commentary on Luke 3:13". "John Lightfoot Commentary on the Gospels". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jlc/luke-3.html. 1675.

Vincent's Word Studies

Exact ( πράσσετε )

The change of the Rev. to extort is unfortunate. The word is used of the exaction of legal tribute, and excessive exaction is expressed by the following words' John would hardly have commanded them to extort in any case.

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Vincent, Marvin R. DD. "Commentary on Luke 3:13". "Vincent's Word Studies in the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/vnt/luke-3.html. Charles Schribner's Sons. New York, USA. 1887.

The Fourfold Gospel

And he said unto them, Extort no more than that which is appointed you1.

  1. Extort no more than that which is appointed you. Such was their habitual, universal sin. No man should make his calling an excuse for evil-doing.

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These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website. These files were made available by Mr. Ernie Stefanik. First published online in 1996 at The Restoration Movement Pages.
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J. W. McGarvey and Philip Y. Pendleton. "Commentary on Luke 3:13". "The Fourfold Gospel". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tfg/luke-3.html. Standard Publishing Company, Cincinnati, Ohio. 1914.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

13 And he said unto them, Exact no more than that which is appointed you.

Ver. 13. Exact no more] πρασσετε, make no more of your places, than ye may with a good conscience. Shun that mystery of iniquity that is crept into most callings. A great part of the Turk’s civil justice to this day is grounded upon Christ’s words, "Thou shalt not do what thou wouldest not have done to thee."

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Trapp, John. "Commentary on Luke 3:13". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/luke-3.html. 1865-1868.

Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary

13.] πράσσετε, exact: see examples in Wets(33).

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Alford, Henry. "Commentary on Luke 3:13". Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hac/luke-3.html. 1863-1878.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

See Poole on "Luke 3:12"

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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Luke 3:13". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mpc/luke-3.html. 1685.

Justin Edwards' Family Bible New Testament

Exact no more; collect no more than is required by the government.

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Edwards, Justin. "Commentary on Luke 3:13". "Family Bible New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/fam/luke-3.html. American Tract Society. 1851.

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

13.Exact no more—The publicans, in regard to whom see our life of St. Matthew, (prefixed to his Gospel,) were not only unpopular from being the officers of a foreign dominion, but as being plunderers of the public. By extorting more than the appointed government rates of taxes and pocketing the surplus, they made dishonest gains. That the proper dues of government should be collected was right; but there was needed an immense reformation on the part of this class of persons to bring the public morality to its proper tone, and repair the general apostacy of the times.

 

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Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Luke 3:13". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/luke-3.html. 1874-1909.

Schaff's Popular Commentary on the New Testament

Luke 3:13. Exact no more. Great opportunity for exaction was afforded by the system of letting out the collectorships to the highest bidder; the exactions would all be clear profit.

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Schaff, Philip. "Commentary on Luke 3:13". "Schaff's Popular Commentary on the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/scn/luke-3.html. 1879-90.

The Expositor's Greek Testament

Luke 3:13. : this mode of expressing comparison (usual in mod. Grk.) is common to Lk. and the Ep. to Heb. (Luke 1:4, etc.), and has been used in support of the view that Lk. wrote Heb. “Non improbabilis videtur mihi eorum opinio qui Lucae eam Ep. adjudicant,” Pricaeus.— , make, in a sinister sense, exact, exigite, Beza. Kypke quotes Julius Pollux on the vices of the publicans, one being , nimium exigens, and remarks that this word could not be better explained than by the phrase in Lk., . . .

 

 

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Nicol, W. Robertson, M.A., L.L.D. "Commentary on Luke 3:13". The Expositor's Greek Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/egt/luke-3.html. 1897-1910.

George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Do nothing more. You who are military men, exact no more of the people than what is allowed and appointed you. (Witham)

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Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on Luke 3:13". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hcc/luke-3.html. 1859.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

no = nothing. Greek. laden.

than = beside. Greek.

para. App-104.

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Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on Luke 3:13". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bul/luke-3.html. 1909-1922.

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

(13) Exact no more.—Under the “farming” system of taxation adopted by the Roman empire, this was the besetting temptation of all collectors employed in it, and it led naturally to the evil repute which attached, not in Judæa only, to the name of publican. (See Note on Luke 19:2.)

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Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on Luke 3:13". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ebc/luke-3.html. 1905.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

And he said unto them, Exact no more than that which is appointed you.
Exact
19:8; Psalms 18:23; Proverbs 28:13; Isaiah 1:16,17; 55:6,7; Ezekiel 18:21,22,27,28; Micah 6:8; Matthew 7:12; 1 Corinthians 6:10; Ephesians 4:28; Titus 2:11,12; Hebrews 12:1
Reciprocal: Exodus 20:15 - GeneralLeviticus 19:13 - shalt not;  Nehemiah 5:10 - I likewise;  Ezekiel 22:12 - greedily

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Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on Luke 3:13". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/luke-3.html.