Luke 12 Commentary


From Jensen's Survey of the NT by permission
John MacArthur's Introduction
Charles Swindoll's Introductio

Luke 12:1 Under these circumstances, after so many thousands of people had gathered together that they were stepping on one another, He began saying to His disciples first of all, "Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy.

KJV Luke 12:1 In the mean time, when there were gathered together an innumerable multitude of people, insomuch that they trode one upon another, he began to say unto his disciples first of all, Beware ye of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy.


John MacArthur points out that beginning in Luke 12:1 through Luke 13:9 there is one lengthy sermon punctuated by scattered questions. 

Spurgeon - The teaching of our Lord, in this chapter, has very much to do with Christianity in connection with this present life, and its cares and troubles. God has nowhere promised us exemption from affliction and trial. Indeed, it has been said, with much truth, that the Old Testament promise was one of prosperity, but that the New Testament promise is one of tribulation. You may rest assured that, if it had been best for us to be taken away to heaven directly we were converted, the Lord would have done it, and that, as he has not done so, there are wise reasons why he keeps his people here for a while. The gold must go through the fire ere it has its place in the king’s crown, and the wheat must be exposed to the winnowing fan ere it can be taken into the heavenly garner.

Under these circumstances, after so many thousands of people had gathered together that they were stepping on one another - Luke pictures a dramatic scene. This event seems to follow normally from the end of Luke 11 when Jesus had just left the luncheon with the Pharisee and been accosted by a lawyer (scribe). It was a time of markedly increasing hostility by the religious leaders against Jesus, Whose popularity with the lay people was increasing to the point that the crowds were dangerous. 

So many thousands - A plural of murias and so a multiple of 10,000, so that there could have been 20, 30, 40, 50 thousand. The point is that this is a huge crowd. Jesus is the headliner in all Israel, where religion played a dominant role in their day to day life. And Jesus is rocking their "religious boat" (so to speak). 

They were stepping on one another - Jesus did not has a PA system to blast out His message, so they are getting as near to Him as possible to be sure they can hear what He says. 

Many thousands (myriad)(3461)(murias from murios = countless)  represents the number 10,000 (Acts 19:19, five murias = 50,000). It most often denotes a numberless host or vast numbers of men (Luke 12:1; Acts 21:20) or angels (Hebrews 12:22; Jude 14). An indefinite large number - (Luke 12:1; Acts 21:20; Heb. 12:22; Jude 1:14; Rev. 5:11; 9:16; Gen. 24:60; 1 Sam. 21:11).

Friberg - (1) literally, as a number myriad, ten thousand (Acts 19.19); (2) plural, in a more general sense of very large numbers myriads, countless thousands ( Rev 5.11) (Analytical Lexicon)

Murias - 7x in 7v -  fifty*(1), many thousands(2), myriads(3), thousand(1), thousands(1), two hundred million*(1). Lk. 12:1; Acts 19:19; Acts 21:20; Heb. 12:22 = myriads of angels; Jude 1:14 = many thousands; Rev. 5:11; Rev. 9:16 = two hundred million

Murias - 24x in 23v in the Septuagint - 

Ge. 24:60; Ex 38:26; Lev. 26:8; Nu. 10:36; Deut. 32:30; 33:2; 33:17; 1 Sa 18:7; 18:8;21:11; 29:5; Ezr. 2:64; 2:69; Neh. 7:66;7:71, 72; Ps 3:6; Ps. 91:7; Song 5:10; Da. 7:10; Jon. 4:11; Mic. 6:7

He began saying to His disciples - While this includes the inner 12 who would have been closely gathered around Him in such a large crowd, the word disciples should not be restricted to them. Recall that disciple (mathetes) first has the simple meaning of a learner and there were many others in the crowd who one could classify as "learners" (albeit not necessarily believers - see what transpired to the "disciples" in John 6:60, 66).

MacArthur adds " in that crowd scattered there are some still interested, Lk 12:4. He says, "I say to you, My friends."  He's talking to those that are friendly toward Him.  Over in Lk 12:32, it's not a large group.  "Don't be afraid, little flock."  In the middle of this massive, multiple of ten thousands there is this little flock who are believing and some who are coming to believe and perhaps some who won't, like John 6:60,66. Remember, there were many of His disciples who walked no more with Him and they went away.  (A Certain Cure for Hypocrisy, Part 1)

Steven Cole - A huge crowd gathered, with so many people that they were stepping on each other. Jesus spoke primarily to His disciples, but in the hearing of all, warned them about the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy. He was drawing a line: people could follow the leadership of the Pharisees or they could follow Him. But they must make a choice and stick with it in the face of potential persecution and even death. To try to straddle the line will bring a person into ultimate and final judgment. Thus,  We must beware of hypocrisy and confess Christ, even unto death, because hypocrites will face God’s judgment. Clearly, Jesus believed that our words and deeds are significant in the light of eternity. Also, we must understand that Jesus’ warnings were directed primarily toward those who professed allegiance to Him. We would be foolish to shrug off His words as if they only applied to the unbeliever. He spoke first to His disciples, although it also applies to everyone. Jesus first gives the negative warning against the sin of hypocrisy, which is the same as denying Him; but Jesus also gives positive encouragement to confess Him, even if it results in martyrdom. (Confessing or Denying Christ?)

Rod Mattoon - With so many people gathered, there would be a variety of reasons why they were there. There would be spectators who were curious and wanted to know what was going on with all these people. Crowds do178 attract crowds. Some would be scorners who would heckle Jesus and make fun of His teachings. There would also be spies present to find faults or something that would get the Lord into trouble with others, especially the authorities. There would also be those who were surrendered to the Lord and devoted to following Him. Those who were blind were made to see, the lame to walk, the deaf to hear. Thousands loved the Lord for what He did for them. When you think about it, most churches are comprised of these four groups of people. Which group describes you? Are you a spectator that just watches, a scorner that creates dissension and strife, a spy looking for faults, or are you surrendered, following Him? Jesus urges us to be His disciple when He tells us to put His yoke upon ourselves and to learn of Him. 

Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy - "Don't get caught up in a damning, hypocritical, false religion." (MacArthur) The command beware (prosechete heautois) is more literally "Watch yourselves" so He calls them to take personal responsibility to protect yourselves from these spiritual charlatans who desire to lead you astray!

The leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy - In Lk 13:21 Jesus said the Kingdom of God "is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three pecks of flour until it was all leavened.” That is the "good" effect of leaven, but it serves to describe the influence  of something or someone (good or evil) that works subtly to modify something else. Just as the leaven literally permeates the dough, the subtle (maybe not always so subtle) teachings of the Pharisees, would eventually "permeate" the thinking of those who listened to them. Jesus is saying, beware, take heed, protect yourselves from the permeating, fermenting influence of the Pharisees which will lead one straight to hell if followed! Their leaven must be avoided at all costs, lest it begin to exert its corrupting effect on one's mind and heart. Jesus also warned “Watch out and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees” (Mt 16:6) and the "leaven of Herod" (Mk 8:15). MacArthur explains "The leaven of the Sadducees was the leaven of liberalism. They denied the supernatural. The leaven of the Pharisees was the leaven of the corrupting influence of legalism, externalism. The leaven of Herod, the corrupting influence of being politically engaged. And they all rejected Christ...the Pharisees, the Sadducees, and the Herodians." (See more detailed discussion in his sermon on Mark 8:11-21 - Spiritual Blindness, Part 2

Paul gives us a powerful, poignant, parallel warning in his first letter to the saints at Corinth 

Do not be deceived (planao in the present imperative with a negative = stop being deceived or don't let it begin! See Need for the Holy Spirit to obey): “Bad (kakos) company corrupts (phtheiro in the present tense = continually ruins, harms) good morals.” (1 Cor 15:33)

Comment: The word for company is the Greek noun homilia (3657)(from homiléō = to converse, talk) which in classic Greek had two main meanings. (1) The primary use is to denote communion with others. This can refer to a gathering of individuals or of a couple and in fact denotes conjugal rights in Ex 21:10 (Septuagint uses homilia). Homilia is also used to denote instruction or a lecture (English word homiletics, or homiletic which pertains to the art of preaching, homily = a discourse). The other use of homilia in the Septuagint is Pr 7:21 "With her many persuasions (Heb = leqach = teaching; Lxx = homilia = [much] converse) she entices him; With her flattering lips she seduces him." So the effect of the seductress is to lead one astray with her words!  (2) The second use of homilia denotes “association” or “company,” or in a collective sense, “fellow-sojourners” or “shipmates.”

In 1 Cor 15:33 Paul warns of the corruption that will ensue if one persists in the company (companionship) of evil persons.

The practical application of Paul's warning (and Jesus') is crystal clear -  "The reason association with evil people corrupts good morals is because of what they say.  Don't expose yourself to a sermon, to a teaching, to a lecture, to communication through media, to a conversation that's going to give you evil, deceiving lies.  It will corrupt you.  That's why the psalmist said, "How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, Nor stand in the path of sinners, Nor sit in the seat of scoffers!" (Ps 1:1-note) (MacArthur)

This begs a very crucial question - Whose sermons or "homilies" are you listening to or reading? There is an incredible amount of false teaching "for free" on the Internet (but beware, because it may ultimately cost you dearly!) You need to be very discerning in these last days (2 Ti 3:1, 5-note), lest  you be "carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming." (See Eph 4:14-note)

Beware (keep on the lookout for, pay attention, be alert) (4337)(prosecho from pros = before, toward + echo = hold) means literally to hold to, toward or before. Originally it was followed by the word "the mind" (nous) but at times "the mind" was omitted but still the idea of "the mind" was implied. To apply one’s self to. To attach one’s self to. Prosecho means to moor a ship, to tie it up. Prosecho was also used to mean “to remain on course”. Jesus gives another command to "Beware" (different Gk verb horao in present imperative) in Luke 12:15-note.

The etymology of the English word "beware" is from the Middle English words been and war, (been= to be + war = careful). 

Mattoon adds that prosecho "was used as a nautical term and meant to steer a ship in a certain direction or on a certain course or to sail toward a certain destination. Jesus wants us to stay focused on what He is saying here! Like my school teachers, He said, "Sit up straight and pay attention! Steer away from or be on guard against false prophets. Why is He warning them now at this particular time of popularity? The answer may be the fact that the disciples might be tempted either to gain popularity by pleasing the crowds, or avoid trouble by pleasing the scribes and Pharisees. All of us want people to like us, and it seems such an easy thing to "act the part" that others want to see. Jesus instructs His disciples to not fall into that trap. 

Figuratively prosecho conveys the idea is to hold one's mind before then to take heed, to pay attention, to give heed, be in a state of alert, to watch out for or to be on guard. The word implies the giving one’s consent, as well as one’s attention. When used in this manner prosecho always warns of some type of danger (usually spiritual danger but occasionally physical)! Prosecho is not a call simply to notice or sense something, but to be on guard against it because it is so harmful (eg, the danger of practicing your righteousness for others to see, the danger of false prophets, false teachers and false teaching, the danger of the Pharisees and Sadducees). The idea is to turn one’s mind or attention to a thing by being on one’s guard against it.

The present imperative calls for the wise citizen of the kingdom of heaven to be continually on the look out for false prophets especially those who promote the deadly deceptive "doctrine" of the Pharisees that you can be righteous by keeping the Law. The present tense (habitual, lifestyle), imperative mood (a command not a suggestion!) calls for this discerning attitude to be the habit of one's life. The active voice means that we (the subject) must initiate this action as a choice of our will, but the problem is that our old man does not want to make this choice! It is only by the relying on the continual energization of God in us, the indwelling Spirit, that we will have the desire and power to obey and please God (Php 2:13NLT-note). To reiterate, there is only ONE WAY to keep the commands of God that is not by relying on self but by continually relying on the Spirit's power to enable us to do supernaturally what we simply cannot accomplish naturally! If you have experienced frustration and repeated failure in keeping God's commands (there are over 1600 in the NT!), then this truth is for you! It is the Spirit Who sets you free to obey God's Word. (See also discussion of the Need for the Holy Spirit to obey NT commands).

Prosecho - 24x in 24v in the NT - These 24 uses of prosecho would make an interesting study noting what one is beware of.  Translated - addicted(1), beware(8), give attention(1), giving...attention(1), giving attention(2), guard(3), officiated(1), pay attention(2), pay...attention(1), paying attention(2), respond(1), take care(1).

Matt. 6:1; Matt. 7:15; Matt. 10:17; Matt. 16:6; Matt. 16:11; Matt. 16:12; Lk. 12:1; Lk. 17:3; Lk. 20:46; Lk. 21:34; Acts 5:35; Acts 8:6; Acts 8:10; Acts 8:11; Acts 16:14; Acts 20:28; 1 Tim. 1:4; 1 Tim. 3:8; 1 Tim. 4:1; 1 Tim. 4:13; Tit. 1:14; Heb. 2:1; Heb. 7:13; 2 Pet. 1:19

The problem with leaven (false teaching of Pharisees) is that a little can leaven the whole loaf, thus the hypocrisy of the Pharisees could have a far reaching effect like literal leaven. The metaphor of leaven is used elsewhere frequently in this negative sense - Mt 16:6, 11, 12 (teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees), leaven of the Pharisees and Herod (Mk 8:15). 

Leaven (yeast)(2219)(zume) probably from zeo = to heat, as occurs in fermentation of dough when leaven is mixed in) was literally a small portion of dough that was retained in order to start a new batch of dough (literal uses -  Mt 16:12; Lk 13:21; 1 Cor 5:6; Gal 5:9). In ancient times, when bread was about to be baked, a small piece of dough was pulled off and saved. That leaven or yeast would then be allowed to ferment in water, and later kneaded into the next batch of fresh dough to make it rise.

Leaven throughout Scripture was used figuratively to describe permeating power or influence, usually the influence of evil, but also of good in Mt 13:33 and Lk 13:21 referring to the growth or expansion of the Kingdom of God. 

Zume was used proverbially to demonstrate great effect from little causes (Gal 5:9).  Zume is used figuratively to depict corruption of thought and conduct, which Jesus termed hypocrisy here in Lk 12:1. Zume was used figuratively to describe teachings based on unspiritual value systems (Mt 16.12). Finally, zume was a metaphor for sin within a believing community, and was identified as wicked ways (1Cor 5.8). The first use of zume in the Septuagint (Ex. 12:15; 12:19) is associated with the Passover, where the Jews were instructed to eat bread without leaven for seven days. (See What is the significance of unleavened bread?)

Vine - Leaven was used in general in making bread. It required time to fulfill the process. Hence, when food was required at short notice, unleavened cakes were used, e.g., Gen. 18:6; Gen. 19:3; Exod. 12:8. The Israelites were forbidden to use "leaven" for seven days at the time of Passover, that they might be reminded that the Lord brought them out of Egypt "in haste," Deut. 16:3, with Exod. 12:11; the unleavened bread, insipid in taste, reminding them, too, of their afflictions, and of the need of self-judgment, is called "the bread of affliction." "Leaven" was forbidden in all offerings to the Lord by fire, Lev. 2:11; Lev. 6:17. Being bred of corruption and spreading through the mass of that in which it is mixed, and therefore symbolizing the pervasive character of evil, "leaven" was utterly inconsistent in offerings which typified the propitiatory sacrifice of Christ. In the OT "leaven" is not used in a metaphorically sense. In the NT it is used (a) metaphorically (1) of corrupt doctrine, Matt. 13:33; Luke 13:21, of error as mixed with the truth (there is no valid reason for regarding the symbol here differently from its application elsewhere in the NT); Matt. 16:6, 11; Mark 8:15 (1st part); Luke 12:1; that the kingdom of heaven is likened to "leaven," does not mean that the kingdom is "leaven." The same statement, as made in other parables, shows that it is the whole parable which constitutes the similitude of the kingdom; the history of Christendom confirms the fact that the pure meal of the doctrine of Christ has been adulterated with error; (2) of corrupt practices, Mark 8:15 (2nd part), the reference to the Herodians being especially applied to their irreligion; 1 Cor. 5:7, 8; (b) literally, in Matt. 16:12, and in the general statements in 1 Cor. 5:6; Gal. 5:9, where the implied applications are to corrupt practice and corrupt doctrine respectively. (Dictionary)

Zodhiates - Most often (though not always) in Scripture, the word zúmē represents evil, including Mt. 13:33; Lk 13:21, if properly understood. The real significance of leaven is shown in 1 Cor. 5:7 as being destructive and typifying what does not belong originally and essentially to life, namely, sin. It is sin disturbing and penetrating daily life. It first appears in the institution of the Passover (Sept.: Ex. 12:15, 19, 20, 34, 39; 13:3, 7) and in the ritual of sacrifices (Sept.: Ex. 23:18; 34:25; Lev. 2:11; 6:17; 7:3; Deut. 16:3, 4). All that disgraces the Christian and detracts from his holy newness of life is an example of the leaven of sin (1 Cor. 5:6; Gal. 5:9). It represents false doctrine as opposed to that which has been received (Gal. 5:9). In Luke 12:1, hypocrisy is identified with leaven. (Complete Word Study Dictionary – New Testament)

Gilbrant - Zumē denotes “leaven” or “yeast.” In classical Greek the word is used for fermenting grain. The two Hebrew words that zumē translates in the Septuagint are chāmēts, meaning “that which is leavened” (Deuteronomy 16:3), and sᵉ’ōr, meaning “leaven” (Leviticus 2:11). The New Testament use of this word has as its backdrop the Feast of Unleavened Bread in the Old Testament (Exodus 12:18-20; 13:6f.; Numbers 28:16f.). In both Roman and Hebrew sources leaven became a metaphor for defilement or impurity. Though this is the predominant use of the term “leaven,” it is occasionally used positively as when rabbis saw the Torah as leaven that leads a person to God. Philo created several allegorical interpretations of zumē including using it as a symbol of pride or vanity and at other times as sinful lust. (Complete Biblical Library Greek-English Dictionary)

Articles on Leaven:

Zume - 13x in 11v - all translated leaven

Matthew 13:33  He spoke another parable to them, "The kingdom of heaven is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three pecks of flour until it was all leavened."

What is the meaning of the Parable of the Leaven?

Matthew 16:6  And Jesus said to them, "Watch out and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees."

Matthew 16:11  "How is it that you do not understand that I did not speak to you concerning bread? But beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees."

Matthew 16:12  Then they understood that He did not say to beware of the leaven of bread, but of the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees.

Mark 8:15  And He was giving orders to them, saying, "Watch out! Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the leaven of Herod."

Luke 12:1  Under these circumstances, after so many thousands of people had gathered together that they were stepping on one another, He began saying to His disciples first of all,"Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy.

Luke 13:21  "It (Kingdom of God) is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three pecks of flour until it was all leavened."

1 Corinthians 5:6  Your boasting is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump of dough? 5:7  Clean out the old leaven so that you may be a new lump, just as you are in fact unleavened. For Christ our Passover also has been sacrificed. 5:8  Therefore let us celebrate the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.

Comment: Like our common saying "A rotten apple can spoil the whole barrel?" Evil influence of leaven is the idea in this passag. The whole lump of dough refers to the local church. Paul's point is that if given opportunity, sin will permeate an entire church just as leaven permeates the entire loaf of bread! It is a vivid picture of the nature of sin which is to ferment, corrupt, and spread. (See comment on Ex 12:15 below)

Galatians 5:9  A little leaven leavens the whole lump of dough.

Comment: As noted leaven speaks of that which has ability to influence. MacArthur adds "Just as a single cell of cancer can metastasize until it spreads throughout the physical body, a single false doctrine can multiply itself and spread throughout a body of believers. A great forest fire can be started by one spark. "For want of a nail the shoe was lost," wrote Benjamin Franklin; "for want of a shoe the horse was lost; for want of a horse the rider was lost; and for want of a rider the battle was lost." (MacArthur New Testament Commentary – Galatians)

Zume - 10x in 10v in the Septuagint - Ex. 12:15; Ex. 12:19; Ex. 13:3; Ex. 13:7; Ex. 23:18; Exod. 34:25; Lev. 2:11; Deut. 16:3; Deut. 16:4

(Ex. 12:15) - ‘Seven days you shall eat unleavened bread, but on the first day you shall remove leaven from your houses; for whoever eats anything leavened from the first day until the seventh day, that person shall be cut off from Israel.

Comment: Why were they to avoid leaven? For God used the idea of leaven to represent their old way of life, the way of Egypt and the way of the world, which was to be left behind. And so as Israel left Egypt and also during every subsequent Passover, the Lord had commanded  the "nothing leavened shall be seen among you" (Ex 13:3, 7). All leaven was to be thrown out. Paul applies this picture to Christians. As John MacArthur says "Christians likewise are to be separated from the old life (see 1 Cor 5:6-8 above). We are to bring none of it into the new life. (MacArthur New Testament Commentary – 1 Corinthians)

What is the significance of unleavened bread?

Pharisees (5330) see discussion of pharisaios

Spurgeon - Hypocrisy, however, of a kind that was calculated to spread, like leaven. If you know that a man is a hypocrite, you do not feel inclined to imitate him; but the Pharisees were such well-made hypocrites, — such excellent counterfeits, — that many people were tempted to imitate them.

In simple terms hypocrisy is "play acting" and in context Jesus is referring to "play acting" at religion, and it is a dangerous role to play, because when this "play" is over the payment is eternal separation in hell!

Hendriksen on Jesus' warning against hypocrisy - Implied, of course, is the exhortation, “Be sincere!”

Hypocrisy (5272)(hupokrisis from hupo = under + krino =to judge; See also word study on Hypocrite = hupokrites) refers literally to delivery of a speech, along with interpretive gestures and imitation. The word hypocrisy comes from the Greek theater and referred to the practice of putting on a mask and playing a part on stage. It originally conveyed the idea of playing the playing a part on the stage and described the actor's art. The NT gives hupokrisis only a negative connotation referring to hypocrisy, duplicity (the quality of being double - belying of one’s true intentions by deceptive words or action), insincerity, dissimulation (hiding under a false appearance; hiding or disguising one's thoughts or feelings - don't we all do this from time to time?!). The idea is to pretend, to act as something one is not and so to act deceitfully, pretending to manifest traits like piety and love. It means to create a public impression that is at odds with one’s real purposes or motivations, and thus is characterized by play-acting, pretense or outward show. It means to give an impression of having certain purposes or motivations, while in reality having quite different ones. The first century Pharisees had mastered the art of "play acting," and took the practice of hypocrisy to a new level! Sadly, their "offspring" still exist in the Church and among those who profess to be believers in Jesus Christ (see the resources below).

Related Questions on Hypocrisy:

Here is a table of some Biblical hypocrites from Hendriksen:

Biblical Examples of Hypocrisy and Its Results
Name(s) of the Person(s)
Guilty of Hypocrisy
Description of the Deed
Jacob Gen. 27:1-33 Gen. 27:41
Absalom 2 Sam. 15:1-3 2 Sam. 18:9, 14
Jeroboam 1 Kings 14:1-4 1 Kings 14:5-17
Gehazi 2 Kings 5:20-25 2 Kings 5:26, 27
Judas Iscariot Mt. 26:49 Mt. 27:3-5
Ananias and Sapphira Acts 5:1, 2, 7, 8 Acts 5:3-6, 9, 10

ILLUSTRATION - The Hypocrites Appearance Outwardly is Fake (Matthew 23:28, Ezek 33:31-32, Mt 15:7-8): A man reared on a western Pennsylvania farm told how the best of dogs will sometimes be taken with the fever of sheep killing. The killing was always done at night. The guilty dog would always endeavor to tempt other dogs to go with him and, if possible, lay the blame at their door. When this madness of sheep killing is on him, the dog will assume during the day, at the house and around the barn, an unusually genial and friendly air. At night he goes into a fit of slaughter. His outward appearance was fake. Such is the behavior of the hypocrite. (Rod Mattoon)

ILLUSTRATION - In the 1600's, great effort was taken in Europe by wealthy families to look as beautiful as possible. Men wore expensive suits, which would include accessories such as a leather purse hanging from the belt and a fashionable walking stick. They would shave their heads and wear high crowned wigs with long flowing hair. As the women, they would also paint their faces and be adorned with lace. Women wore beautiful long-flowing dresses. Around their waste they wore puffy panniers stiffened with cane frames to make their hips fashionably wide. They too, wore extravagant, tall wigs supported with wires and decorated with feathers or flowers. Sometimes these wigs would brush against the candles of the chandeliers and they would catch on fire. What really amused me was the purpose of their elegant fans that hung by their wrist. I always thought they used them to keep themselves cool in the summer heat, but this was not their main purpose. Instead, the women used these elegant fans to cover their rotted teeth and to blow179 away their bad breath. Outward they were beautiful and elegant, but inwardly they struggled with rot and odor. What a fitting picture of the Pharisees plagued by their own hypocrisy. They were outwardly good, but inwardly corrupt. This was the condition of the Pharisees and it is why the Lord offers a warning. (Rod Mattoon)

Rod Mattoon summarizes The Hypocrite

1. His Attribute is like the Pharisee: Luke 12:1—

2. His Appearance Outwardly is Fake: Matthew 23:28—Ezekiel 33:31, 32—Matthew 15:7, 8.... 

3. Abomination is in the Heart: Proverbs 26:24, 25... 

4. His Acquaintance is Deceptive: Romans 16:18

5. He Abhors & has an Aversion to Deal with His Own Sin: The hypocrite is inconsistent and unwillingly hates to deal with his own faults. Many times he will not do this because he doesn't think he has any faults. If there is a problem, someone else caused it. He resists taking responsibility for his actions. Luke 6:42

6. His Attribute is a prominent characteristic of the Last Days: 

7. His Aim is upon Himself: He is greedy and selfish. 2 Peter 2:3

8. His Attitude is Arrogant and Condescending - Luke 18:11-12.Isaiah 65:5

9. The Anticipation of his Judgment: Matthew 24:51

Spurgeon on Hypocrisy - THE HYPOCRITE'S CHARACTER.

1. A hypocrite may be known by the fact that his speech and his actions are contrary to one another. As Jesus says, "They say and they do not." Talk is easy, but walk is hard; speech any man may attain unto, but act is difficult. We must have grace within to make our life holy; but lip-piety needs no grace.

2. The next mark of a hypocrite is, that whenever he does right it is that he may be seen of men. To him virtue in the dark is almost a vice; he can never detect any beauty in virtue, unless she has a thousand eyes to look upon her, and then she is something indeed. The true Christian, like the nightingale, sings in the night; but the hypocrite has all his songs in the day, when he can be seen and heard of men.

3. Hypocrite, love titles, and honours, and respect from men. There was another evidence of an hypocrite which was equally good, namely, that he strained at a gnat and swallowed a camel. Always suspect yourself when you are more careful about little than about great things.

4. These people neglected all the inward part of religion, and only observed the outward. As our Saviour said, they "made clean the outside of the cup and platter, but within they were full of extortion and excess." There are many books which are excellently bound, but there is nothing within them; and there are many persona that have a very fine spiritual exterior, but there is nothing whatever in the heart.

5. You may know a hypocrite by another sign. His religion depends upon the place, or upon the time of day. He rises at seven o'clock perhaps, and you will find him religious for a quarter of an hour; for he is, as the boy said, "saying his prayers to himself" in the first part of the morning. Well, then you find him pretty pious for another half-hour, for there is family prayer; but when the business begins, and he is talking to his men, I won't guarantee that you will be able to admire him. If one of his servants has been doing something a little amiss, you will find him perhaps using angry and unworthy language. You will find him, too, if he gets a customer whom he thinks to be rather green, not quite pious, for he will be taking him in.

6. There is another sign of the hypocrite, and now the lash will fall on my own back, and on most of us too. Hypocrites, and other people besides hypocrites, are generally severe with others, and very lenient with themselves. Have you ever heard a hypocrite describe himself? I describe him thus — "You are a mean, beggarly fellow." "No," says he, "I am not; I am economical." I say to him, "You are dishonest, you are a thief." "No," says he, "I am only cute and sharp for the times." "Well, but," I say to him, "you are proud and conceited." "Oh!" says he, "I have only a proper and manly respect." "Ay, but you are a fawning, cringing fellow." "No," says he, "I am all things to all men." Somehow or other he will make vice look like a virtue in himself, but he will deal by the reverse rule with others. Show him a Christian who is really humble, and he says, "I hate his fawning ways." Tell him there is one who is very courageous for Christ; "Oh! he is impudent," says he. Show him one who is liberal, doing what he can for his Master's service, spending, and being spent for Him; "Rash and imprudent," says he, "extravagant; the man does not know what he is about." You may point out a virtue, and the hypocrite shall at once say it is a vice.

Luke 12:2  "But there is nothing covered up that will not be revealed, and hidden that will not be known.

KJV Luke 12:2 For there is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed; neither hid, that shall not be known.


This is similar to Jesus' words elsewhere in the Gospels

Mt 10:26 “Therefore do not fear them, for there is nothing concealed that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known.

Mk 4:22 “For nothing is hidden, except to be revealed; nor has anything been secret, but that it would come to light.

Luke 8:17-note  “For nothing is hidden that will not become evident, nor anything secret that will not be known and come to light.

Paul gave a similar teaching 

1 Ti 5:24-25 The sins of some men are quite evident, going before them to judgment; for others, their sins follow after. 25 Likewise also, deeds that are good are quite evident, and those which are otherwise cannot be concealed.

Ro 2:6, 16 who WILL RENDER TO EACH PERSON ACCORDING TO HIS DEEDS: (2:16) on the day when, according to my gospel, God will judge the secrets of men through Christ Jesus.

1 Cor 4:5 Therefore do not go on passing judgment before the time, but wait until the Lord comes who will both bring to light the things hidden in the darkness and disclose the motives of men’s hearts; and then each man’s praise will come to him from God. 

But (term of contrast) Stands in contrast to the leaven of hypocrisy and begins Jesus' teaching on how to avoid the leaven of hypocrisy. As the NLT paraphrases it "The time is coming when everything that is covered up will be revealed, and all that is secret will be made known to all." 

There is nothing covered up that will not be revealed and hidden that will not be known - This is straightforward. God is omniscient. Pr 15:3 (note) says "The eyes of the LORD are in every place, Watching the evil and the good." The upshot is that nothing we think, do or say escapes the omniscient eye of God. It follows that no one escapes exposure and that everyone will be revealed. If one is a hypocritical "white washed" tomb on the outside but full of dead men's bones on the inside (Mt 23:27), he may fool men on earth, but he does not fool God in heaven and he will be exposed. Eccl 12:14 explains "For God will bring every act to judgment, everything which is hidden, whether it is good or evil." (cf Eccl 3:17, cf Mt 12:36) 

John MacArthur asks in light of the danger of hypocrisy "How to avoid the eternal disaster of being a hypocrite?   In Luke 12:2-13 the Lord gives...three necessary realities, three essential obligations, if you want to avoid being damned for being a hypocrite, if you want to make sure you're not in a false religious system. Here they are. You ready?  Honor God, honor Christ, honor the Spirit.  How about that?  God is mentioned in verse 5 as the One who after He has killed has authority to cast into hell and He's also mentioned in verse 6.  The Son is mentioned in verse 8 as the Son of Man who must be confessed, and mentioned again in verse 10.  The Spirit is mentioned in verse 10 and again in verse 12.  And here you have a magnificent trinitarian passage and in the broad sense of things you cannot avoid hell if you're not a trinitarian.  That is to say you're going to hell if you're a unitarian.  You cannot honor God without honoring Christ and you cannot honor Christ without honoring the Holy Spirit.  The Holy Spirit points to Christ and Christ shows us the Father.  It's a package.  The only way you'll ever avoid eternal disaster is to honor God, honor Christ, and to honor the Holy Spirit.  How basic is that?" (A Certain Cure for Hypocrisy, Part 1)

NET Note on be known- The passive voice verbs here ("be revealed," be made known") see the revelation as coming from God. The text is both a warning about bad things being revealed and an encouragement that good things will be made known, though the stress with the images of darkness and what is hidden in vv. 2–3 is on the attempt to conceal. 

Solomon writes that "God will bring every act to judgment, everything which is hidden, whether it is good or evil." (Eccl 12:14)

Rod Mattoon - Jesus warns that what the hypocrite has concealed, the true condition of his heart, would eventually be exposed for all to see. Whatever corruption was hidden would be brought out into the open. What is on the inside of the hypocrite would eventually come to light. Jesus is repeating a warning that was written in the Pentateuch of the Old Testament. Numbers 32:23—But if ye will not do so, behold, ye have sinned against the Lord: and be sure your sin will find you out." Since one's spiritual life is an inner condition of the soul that no one can see, hypocrisy is always a spiritual danger. Hypocrites say and do different things in public than they do in private. Jesus warned that hypocrisy eventually gets exposed. People are not good enough at living a double life to fool everyone all the time, and they never fool God. Nothing can be hidden from the Lord. The lies of the hypocrite will be revealed one day whether it is here in this life or on Judgment Day....Concerning hypocrisy or deception, Abraham Lincoln put it this way, "You can fool some of the people all of the time and all of the people some of the time, but you can't fool all of the people all of the time." May we also add, "You cannot fool God any of the time!"

Be revealed (601)(apokalupto from apó = from + kalúpto = cover, conceal, English = apocalypse - see study of apokalupsis English = apocalypse) literally means to remove the cover from and so the idea is to remove that which conceals something. Almost all of the NT uses have a figurative use, especially to some aspect of spiritual truth that was heretofore hidden but now has the "lid removed" so that it can be seen (understood).

Will be revealed is future tense (speaks of future judgment) passive voice (revealed by an outside Source = God is the Revealer) indicative mood (mood of reality = this is a certainty for every hypocrite! There is absolutely no escape from this just judgment!)

In Luke 8:17-note Jesus said

For nothing is hidden that will not become evident, nor anything secret that will not be known and come to light.

Hidden (2927)(kruptos from krupto = keep secret; English ~ cryptic, etc) means concealed, secret, hidden either to protect it or for self-serving purposes. Krupto describes something that is unknown because it is being kept secret or hidden.

Be known (1097)(ginosko) means to acquire information through some modality, as through sense perception and generally involves experiential knowledge, not merely the accumulation of known facts. 

The Lord Is Looking - There is nothing covered that will not be revealed, nor hidden that will not be known. —Luke 12:2

Looking through his telescope, an astronomer was making observations of the setting sun. As he was adjusting his lens, he noticed the top of a hill several miles away.

On the hill were two boys stealing apples from an orchard. One was shaking down the fruit and the other was standing watch. They thought no one was watching them, but the astronomer saw their every move.

How much more does the all-seeing eye of God behold everything we do—whether in the open or in private. This is a disturbing thought that could lead us to despair. But God not only sees and remembers, He also forgives and forgets if we come to Him in repentance and confession. The Lord promises to do these things with our sins:

  • Forgive them all (1 Jn. 1:9).
  • Cast them into the sea (Mic. 7:19).
  • Take them away (Isa. 6:7).
  • Cover them up (Ps. 32:1).
  • Blot them out (Acts 3:19).
  • Put them away (Heb. 9:26).
  • Remember them no more (Heb. 8:12).

We can’t hide our sins from God. So let’s confess them and accept His gracious forgiveness. By M.R. DeHaan

O God, I have been guilty, I confess,
Thy Spirit has at last my sins made known;
Forgive me, Lord, and I will evermore
Devote myself to Thee and Thee alone. —Smith

God has an all-seeing eye—and an all-forgiving heart.

Luke 12:3  "Accordingly, whatever you have said in the dark will be heard in the light, and what you have whispered in the inner rooms will be proclaimed upon the housetops.

KJV Luke 12:3 Therefore whatsoever ye have spoken in darkness shall be heard in the light; and that which ye have spoken in the ear in closets shall be proclaimed upon the housetops.

  • Accordingly, whatever you have said in the dark Job 24:14,15; Eccl 10:12,13,20; Mt 12:36; Jude 1:14,15
  • will be heard in the light  - The houses in Judea being flat-roofed, with a balustrade round about, were used for the purpose of taking the air, sleeping, and prayer, and, it seems, for announcing things in the most public manner. So among the Turks, a crier announces the hours of public worship from the minaret or tower of the mosque.
  • what you have whispered in the inner rooms will be proclaimed upon the housetops Mt 10:27
  • Luke 12 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries
  • Luke 12:1-3 The Leaven of Hypocrisy - Greg Allen
  • Luke 12:1-12 Confessing or Denying Christ? - Steven Cole
  • Luke 12:1-7 A Certain Cure for Hypocrisy, Part 1 - John MacArthur


Accordingly, whatever you have said in the dark will be heard in the light - Jesus is simply amplifying Lk 12:2 using a more figurative description. If we say something in the dark the picture is that no one hears what we say, but that is sheer self-deception, but it will be obvious what we said in the light, when we are exposed. 

Accordingly (because of the reason given in Lk 12:2) - The point is knowing what is coming in the future should impact our thoughts, words and conduct in the present! Are you as convicted as I am? I hope so!  

We should fear God (Lk 12:5) because He will reveal the truth. If you are a hypocrite, it will be brought to the light!

MacArthur adds "The truth of what you are is going to come out and hypocrites will be seen for what they really are and especially if they name the name of God and the name of Jesus Christ.  How horrible will be their judgment.  Fear God because you can't hide anything from Him."

And what you have whispered in the inner rooms will be proclaimed upon the housetops - Whispered is a Greek idiom "spoken in the ear."  And so again we see that Jesus uses another figure to show how futile it is to think we can hide what we say from the omniscient God simply by "whispering!" This is a dramatic picture for the housetops of those days were flat, so standing on them and proclaiming what one said that he thought no one heard would in fact be clearly heard by all. Hypocrites will one day be seen for what they really are.

The inner rooms -  In Jesus' day most houses were made of dirt which could be easily dug through allowing thieves to steal. To minimize this risk, an inner room was often built in the middle of the house away from the outer wall and this is where one might keep valuables. It was also a great place to "whisper" if you did not want anyone to hear!  Top secret conversations were also held in these rooms! Jesus said, "The secrets of these rooms would be proclaimed one day from the housetops."

NET Note explains that proclaimed from the housetops "is an idiom for proclaiming something publicly. Roofs of many first century Jewish houses in Judea and Galilee were flat and had access either from outside or from within the house. Something shouted from atop a house would be heard by everyone in the street below." 

Mattoon on housetops - This was a common practice in that time. Proclamations by local governors or masters from the housetops, in towns or on farms, continue even in our time. These governors proclaimed their commands from the roof to those under their authority. Masters would make announcements to their workers when they returned from the fields. The key point here is the fact that evil will be exposed one day. Nothing is hidden from the Lord. This train of thought runs all throughout the Bible.

In fact in Matthew 10 Jesus directed His 12 disciples (Mt 10:1) to proclaim their message (Good News) from the housetops:

Therefore do not fear them, for there is nothing concealed that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. 27 “What I tell you in the darkness, speak in the light; and what you hear whispered in your ear, proclaim upon the housetops. (Mt 10:26-27)

Darrell L. Bock - This figure of speech describes our most private practices. This is a classic reversal theme: the most private of acts and utterances become the most public. It is this exposure that makes hypocrisy useless in the long run and the heroic deed done in private an object of admiration eventually. The contrasts are strong: darkness versus light and private whispering versus public preaching. (Luke 9:51-24:53, Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament [Grand Rapids: Baker, 1996], 1135)

Mattoon applies this section - May we heed the warning of Jesus and look out for the leaven of hypocrisy. We can do this by scrutinizing our own actions closely, making sure our walk matches our talk. Be sure to not be harsh or hard with other people and their faults. Be swift to admit your mistakes when you make them. Look out for the leaven.

Spurgeon - It would be well if we all lived in such a fashion that we should not be ashamed to have everything we did placarded on the very sky. I have heard of one who said that he would like to have a window in his heart, so that everybody might see what was going on. I think that, if I had such a window in my heart, I should like to have shutters to it; and I question whether any man really could wish to have his heart open to the gaze of all mankind. But, at least, let our lives be such that we should not be ashamed for the universal eye to be fixed upon them. If thou art ashamed to have any one of thine actions known, be ashamed to do it. If thou wouldst be ashamed to hear again what thou was about to say, do not say it. Check thy tongue; be cautious and careful. Live ever as one who realizes God’s omniscience. While one of the ancient orators was speaking, on one occasion, all his hearers went away with the exception of Plato; but he continued to speak as eloquently as ever, for he said that Plato was a sufficient audience for any man. So, if there be no one but the eye of God looking upon thee, be just as careful as if thou were in the street, surrounded by thy fellow-creatures; nay, be more careful because thou art in the presence of thy Creator.

ILLUSTRATION - THE TRUTH WILL COME OUT - Early in 1996, the body of the former ambassador to Switzerland (M. Larry Lawrence) was buried in Arlington Cemetery, America's graveyard of war heroes. His granite tombstone read, "S1C [Seaman First Class] U.S. Merchant Marine." But according to Don Van Natta Jr. and Elaine Sciolino in the New York Times, on December 11, 1997, cemetery workers hauled that tombstone away, and they exhumed the casket. (READ THE ORIGINAL ARTICLE) The reason: the man had lied. For years he told others he had served on the Coast Guard ship Horace Bushnell during World War II. He said the Germans torpedoed the ship, and he had been thrown overboard, sustaining a head injury. In fact, records showed that at the time he said he was serving in the Merchant Marine he was actually attending Wilbur Wright College in Chicago. The Coast Guard had no record of his serving in the Merchant Marine, and of course he had never earned the rank of seaman first class. Somehow his lie was not discovered when the State Department investigated his background, and he was approved as an ambassador. Somehow his body was permitted to be buried in Arlington Cemetery with a tombstone engraved with a lie, but to no surprise, the truth eventually came out. The truth always will. 

Mr. Lawrence's misrepresentations went undetected in his lifetime by almost everyone, including President Clinton, who considered him a friend....Mr. Clinton told the mourners how Mr. Lawrence had suffered a serious head injury when he was thrown overboard from his ship, the Horace Bushnell, after it was hit by a German torpedo in the last days of World War II. He ''showed the same courage and resolve he had shown as a young merchant marine during World War II,'' the President said. It was not until last weekend that it became known that on the day the Bushnell was torpedoed, Mr. Lawrence was in his native Chicago, attending classes at Wilbur Wright College. Now there are regrets and soul-searching.  (From the N Y Times - very interesting reading, even for the liberal N Y Times!)

Luke 12:4  "I say to you, My friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that have no more that they can do.

 KJV Luke 12:4 And I say unto you my friends, Be not afraid of them that kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do.

Matthew's parallel passage

“Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. 29“Are not two sparrows sold for a cent? And yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. 30 “But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. 31 “So do not fear; you are more valuable than many sparrows.  (Mt 10:28-31)

I say to you - This is emphatic in the Greek. Listen up!

My friends - Only use in the Synoptic Gospels. But in John Jesus calls His inner circle of disciples His friends...

John 15:13-15  “Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends. You are My friends if you do what I command you. No longer do I call you slaves, for the slave does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I have heard from My Father I have made known to you.

Friends (5384) (philos) means loved (loved one), dear, befriended, friendly, kind. Philos can mean kindly disposed or devoted (Acts 19:31). Philos describes one having special interest in someone else, one who is on intimate terms or one in close association with someone else. 

All uses of philos - note frequency in Luke's writings - Matt. 11:19; Lk. 7:6; Lk. 7:34; Lk. 11:5; Lk. 11:6; Lk. 11:8; Lk. 12:4; Lk. 14:10; Lk. 14:12; Lk. 15:6; Lk. 15:9; Lk. 15:29; Lk. 16:9; Lk. 21:16; Lk. 23:12; Jn. 3:29; Jn. 11:11; Jn. 15:13; Jn. 15:14; Jn. 15:15; Jn. 19:12; Acts 10:24; Acts 19:31; Acts 27:3; Jas. 2:23; Jas. 4:4; 3 Jn. 1:15

Do not be afraid of those who kill the body - Don't be afraid of those who murder your body. They cannot kill the soul and they cannot inflict permanent harm, for death is liberation for a believer. For a believer the "worst" they can do to us is actually the "best" in the sense that it takes us into the presence of Jesus forever.  Hypocrites however fear men. They fear what they think. And since they do not fear God, they have reason to be afraid, for God can take not only their earthly life but their eternal soul (Lk 12:5)!

Mattoon - Death is probably the greatest fear that most people face. They fear the pain involved with it and the mystery or unknown elements of death. Jesus instructs His disciples to not be afraid of those who can kill the body. If they do this, they are powerless. There is nothing more they can do. If you know Christ as your Savior, you need not fear death. You have a home in Heaven. Because the Lord is your shepherd, you can find peace as the curtain is drawn on your life. The spirit of fear is not from the Lord. The power to conquer that fear, however, is from Him. Paul said in the second epistle of Timothy, "For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind" (2 Ti 1:7-note).

Hendriksen adds on after that have no more that they can do - For that reason Jesus urges his disciples not to be afraid of these bitter opponents. The implied directive is "Be strong!" (Exposition of the Gospel According to Luke)

NET Note - Judaism had a similar exhortation in 4 Macc 13:14–15. = "Let us not fear him who thinks he is killing us, for great is the struggle of the soul and the danger of eternal torment lying before those who transgress the commandment of God."

Cole notes that "Hypocrisy is a danger because we fear what people will do to us if we take a stand for Christ.Jesus says, “I say to you, My friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do” (Lk 12:4). That’s an interesting perspective: “The worst that they can do is kill you!” “Oh, whew! I thought maybe they could really do some damage!” Most of us have not had to deal with any kind of physical torture or death threats. It’s hard enough to maintain our testimony when we worry about what others will think of us, let alone if they threaten us with bodily harm! But if we focus on what people may do to us, whether it is just social rejection or whether it is physical torture and death, we will deny Christ when the pressure is on." (Confessing or Denying Christ?)

Related Resources on Death:

Rod Mattoon on FEAR as addressed by Jesus in Luke 12:4-12 -  At this time, Jesus was very popular with the people. He was at the peak or the mountain top of His ministry, but soon He would be hanging from a tree on another mountain. He knows what is on His horizon and the horizon of His disciples. He takes this situation to deal with an issue that affects every single one of us. The topic He addresses has so much power, that when it has a grip on us, it can shred our serenity, flush our faith, weaken us with worry, and paralyze us with panic. Jesus speaks very frankly to them and to us about the issue of fear. He gives pointers about panic at the peak of His ministry. Fear is one of those silent monsters that seems to hover behind us in the shadows. It tends to breathe its cold breath in its whispers without us realizing who is doing the talking. We hear its subtle voice and also its powerful screams.


  •  Like dagger-shaped icicles, fear will freeze and harden our tender heart from trusting God. 
  • Like hungry lions zooming in on weakened prey for the kill, fear will cause us to focus on our problems and inabilities instead of God's ability to solve our problems. 
  • Fear will frustrate us with God's timing and intervention into our difficulties and danger, leaving us with questions like, "Lord, what are you doing? Where are you Lord?" 
  • Fear will cause us to form and fantasize danger in our mind when there is no danger. It makes us maximize minimal problems and believe the worst will happen to us. David said in Psalm 53:5a, "There were they in great fear, where no fear was... " 
  • Fear will fetter our heart to the opinions and pressure of our peers like beaten prisoners shackled by heavy chains that chink and jingle their chorus with every step they take. 

In "The Diary of Anne Frank," young Anne describes the fear she and her family felt as they hid and huddled in a small attic, from the Nazi army. Every scream of Gestapo sirens sent chills of fear down their spines. They lost their breath and were gripped by terror, at every knock on the front door. They lived in constant horror behind locked doors, fearing for their lives. They were afraid because their dangers were very real.

That same fear also caused the disciples to huddle together in a room for protection. Surely they had heard the news about the tomb being empty. Yet, even the news of the empty tomb and Jesus' resurrection had not transformed their spirits and emboldened them. Their room became a prison to them. Fear drove them to lock themselves up to protect their lives, even though they were not in danger. Someone once wrote, "Fear is the wrong use of imagination. It is anticipating the worst, not the best that can happen."

Beloved, the true macho man, the truly magnificent warrior is the man that can conquer his own fears. If you can conquer your fears and worries, then you will be as mighty as David who slew Goliath the giant. Courage is not the absence of fear; it is the mastery of it. In this message to His disciples, Jesus offers a word of warning and encouragement about the matter of fear. Jesus mentioned "fear" five times in these verses, so He is teaching us that a basic cause of hypocrisy is the fear of man. When we are afraid of what others may say about us or do to us, then we try to impress them in order to gain their approval. If necessary, we will even lie to accomplish our purposes, and this is hypocrisy. Unfortunately, many of the scribes and Pharisees were more concerned about reputation than character, what people thought about them than what God knew about them. Solomon stated in Proverbs 29:25 that the fear of man always brings a snare and Jesus wanted His disciples to avoid that snare....Fear of the future grips the hearts of many like the iron claws of a bear trap. Beloved, God is with us now and He is also in our future. Our job is put our trust in Him and He will guide our path.  (Treasures from Luke - Rod Mattoon)

Related Resource

"If I Tell The World" Read: Luke 12:1-9 

Whoever confesses Me before men, him I will also confess before My Father who is in heaven. —Matthew 10:32

At the close of an evangelistic meeting held by D. L. Moody, a Norwegian youth stood up to testify of his faith in the Lord. He wanted the congregation to know that he had been saved, but he had difficulty speaking English. Haltingly he managed to say, “I’m up here because Jesus wants me to be a witness. He promised that if I tell the world about Him, He’ll tell the Father about me!”

Moody later remarked, “That boy’s testimony went straight to the heart of everyone present. ‘If I tell the world’—yes, that’s exactly what the Bible means when it says we must confess Christ!”

Our Lord does not want us to be silent disciples. He encourages us to witness boldly to others about His grace. Scripture provides eloquent proof that we are to be vocal about our standing in Christ. Romans 10:9 states, “Confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus.” And verse 14 asks, “How shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard?”

If you love the Lord, it’s your duty to witness to others. Maybe all you need to say to someone is: “Jesus means so much to me. I wish you knew Him too!” You will be surprised what such a simple, straightforward testimony can accomplish. Determine today to “tell the world.”By Henry G. Bosch

If your faith in Christ is worth having, it's worth sharing.

Luke 12:5  "But I will warn you whom to fear: fear the One who, after He has killed, has authority to cast into hell; yes, I tell you, fear Him!

KJV Luke 12:5 But I will forewarn you whom ye shall fear: Fear him, which after he hath killed hath power to cast into hell; yea, I say unto you, Fear him.


But - term of contrast

I will warn you whom to fear: fear the One who, after He has killed, has authority to cast into hell - The implication is fear God, not men and not other created being. Some people think Satan has power to send people to hell but that is absolutely not true. Neither is the the "so-called" ruler of hell. He like all unbelievers will be cast into hell (Rev 20:10) where he is be imprisoned eternally. And of course we are never commanded to fear Satan (cf 1 John 4:4, Ro 16:20), but to resist him (James 4:7, 1 Peter 5:9, not be ignorant of his schemes (Eph 6:11). 

Hendriksen - In our own day it is getting to be the custom of some to address God as if he were a "chum" or "pal" or "hail-fellow well met." Such surely was not the attitude of Isaiah when in a vision he saw "the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up" (Isa. 6:1-4). The prophet's response was, "Woe is me, for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for my eyes have seen the King, Jehovah of hosts." Cf. Rev. 1:17.It is those, those alone, who, by sovereign grace, have learned to pay such subdued, filial reverence to God, that can also enter into the sweetness of fellowship and friendship with him. (Ibid)

O God, how wonderful thou art,
Thy majesty, how bright!
How beautiful thy mercy-seat
In depths of burning light!

O how I fear thee, living God,
With deepest, tenderest fears,
And worship thee with trembling hope
And penetential tears.

Yet I may love thee too, O Lord,
Almighty as thou art;
For thou hast stooped to ask of me
The love of my poor heart.
—F. W. Faber

MacArthur says that "Escaping hell starts with honoring God...."Fear the One who after He has killed has authority to cast into hell."  Fear or honor; this is where it starts, folks.  God must be honored.  God must be feared.  Let me tell you what hypocrites are like.  They don't fear God, they fear men.  And they live their lives to please men. They live their lives for the outside, which is visible and not the inside, which is invisible.  Stop fearing men and start fearing God. And why should you fear God?  Three reasons.  Number one, God will uncover what is hidden. God will uncover what is hidden. (Lk 12:2)

Spurgeon - And how brave we shall be if we fear God! It is well put in that psalm which we sometimes sing, — “Fear him, ye saints, and you will then Have nothing else to fear.” This great filial fear will chase out all the little, mean, graven fears, for he who, in the scriptural sense, fears God, can never be a coward in dealing with men. 

Fear the One... fear Him - Two commands to fear God. God Alone desires our reverential fear.

In the last book of the Bible, the Revelation of Jesus Christ, the apostle John describes an incredible global event which I think will occurs at the mid-point of the seven year period commonly referred to as the "Tribulation" or as Daniel's Seventieth Week. The mid-point of this seven years is demarcated by the abomination of desolation which Jesus described in Mt 24:15-note, the event which "ignites" the last 3.5 years He referred to as "The Great Tribulation" (Mt 24:21-note) (which Jeremiah 30:7-note called "the time of Jacob’s distress" and Daniel 12:1-note termed " a time of distress such as never occurred since there was a nation until that time"), during which the Antichrist carries out the most horrible holocaust the world has ever known. And so it should not surprise us that God would answer Habakkuk's prayer "In wrath remember mercy." (Hab 3:2-note). And how does God "remember mercy" in the Revelation in a world on the edge of the impending, indescribable horrors of the Great Tribulation? You are probably wondering, how does this relate to "fear the One...fear Him?" Let's read John's words for the answer...

And I saw another angel flying in mid-heaven, having an eternal Gospel (the same one proclaimed throughout history) to preach to those who live on the earth, and to every nation and tribe and tongue and people (cf those who describes as saved in Rev 7:9-note); and he said with a loud voice, “Fear (aorist imperative = command calling them to "Do this now!" "Don't delay!" It is urgent!) God, and give (also aorist imperative) because the hour of His judgment has come; worship (proskuneo = bow down - aorist imperative) Him Who made the heaven and the earth and sea and springs of waters.”  (Revelation 14:6-7-note)

Comment: So what is the "Gospel" that is proclaimed to the whole world. Fear God.

John MacArthur adds - In the Tribulation, most people will already be familiar with the gospel through the preaching of the 144,000, the two witnesses, and other believers. But Jesus declared that before the end comes the whole world will hear the gospel of the kingdom (Matt. 24:14). The preaching of this angel will reach any who still have not heard the gospel message. As earth's darkest hour approaches, the angel will proclaim the good news that it is not too late. There is still time to repent before God's judgment resumes....He (THE ANGEL IN MID-HEAVEN) will call the people of the world to change their allegiance from the beast to the Lamb. He will urge them to no longer fear, reverence, and worship Satan and Antichrist, but instead to fear, reverence, and honor God by turning to His Son. As the sovereign ruler of the universe, God alone—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—has the right to be worshiped (Rev 19:10; 22:9; Isa. 42:8; 48:11; Matt. 4:10). (MacArthur New Testament Commentary– Revelation 12-22)

Tony Garland - It seems unlikely that the words that John heard the angel say constitute the entire Gospel message delivered to the earth dwellers. Rather, it summarizes what their response should be. The specifics of the Gospel message itself are not recorded. The warning of the angel occurs before the institution of the mark of the Beast. Those who hear the angel and respond in faith are those who are found in the opening verses of the next chapter doing this very thing! (see Rev. 15:3-4) These who hear and fear have victory over the beast, his image, his mark, and the number of his name. (The Testimony of Jesus Christ - I HIGHLY RECOMMEND his commentary as the BEST if you are seeking to truly know the LITERAL truth about the Revelation - and this recommendation comes from someone who owns over 150 commentaries on The Revelation)

Fear (5399)(phobeo from phobos = fear source of our English "phobia") means to be in an apprehensive state that can range from mild uneasiness to stark terror as when one is frightened, terrified or alarmed. (Mt 10:31). In ancient Greek the word phobos came from the word phebomai meaning to flee, or to be startled. Thus phobos meant flight or terror, and was connected with fear of the unknown, fear of the future, and fear of authorities. It also took on the meaning of fear or reverence for God. The most common use of phobeo in the New Testament refers to reverential awe, not cringing fright. It expresses the feeling of a person who is in the presence of someone infinitely superior, the feeling in a person’s heart when he is confronted with divine power, and it is declared to be a part of the Christian’s attitude as he seeks to faithfully serve the Lord (Acts 9:31). Reverential awe of God is a part of the truly repentant life (2Cor. 7:10–11), the chaste life (1 Pet. 3:2), the holy life (2 Cor. 7:1), and the godly life (Phil. 2:12). Mutual ministry, love, and respect, as well as powerful evangelism and proper church discipline, are all grounded in reverential awe of the Lord (see 2 Cor. 5:11; Eph. 5:21; 1 Tim. 5:20). It is the substance out of which all right Christian worship, behavior, and service must come.  Fear of God takes two forms, a healthy, reverential awe of the creature before the Creator including the idea of fear of offending (Ro 11:20) or the terror and dread of the unregenerate sinner in the presence of the just and holy God (Lxx of Ge 3:10, cp Lk 12:5).

Puritan Charles Bridges defines fear of God - It is that affectionate reverence by which the child of God bends himself humbly and carefully to his Father's law. His wrath is so bitter, and His love so sweet; that hence springs an earnest desire to please Him, and—because of the danger of coming short from his own weakness and temptations—a holy watchfulness and fear, 'that he might not sin against Him.

Mattoon - The one with power to determine your eternal destination deserves your focus. God alone has authority over eternity. All that men can do is kill the body, but God can condemn the soul! Since He is the final Judge, and He judges for eternity, it is logical that we put the fear of God ahead of everything else. The Bible makes it clear that those who die without Christ in their heart and faith in Him for their salvation are destined for eternity to suffer in this terrible place of torment.

John writes 

“He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey (obedience does not save, but demonstrates that one is indeed saved) the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.” (Jn 3:36)

Authority (1849)(exousia) means the right and the might to cast into hell, something only God can do. 

Hell (Gehenna) (1067)(geenna from Hebrew gay = valley + Hinnom = a deep narrow ravine south of Jerusalem once associated with the pagan god Moloch and his disgusting rite of infant sacrifices [cp modern practice of abortion!], 2 Kings 23:10; 2 Chr 28:3; 33:6; Jer 7:31, 19:5-6, 32:35; Ezekiel 16:20; 23:37 clearly prohibited by God in Lev 18:21, 20:2-5) is literally the valley of Hinnom, the valley where the filth and dead animals of the city were cast out and burned and where there were trash fires and perpetually burning rubbish, all a fit symbol of the future home of all unrepentant, unregenerate wicked men and women. It was a foul, forbidding place where the fire, smoke, and stench never ceased. It is thus fitting that gehenna is where sin and unrepentant sinners will one day find it's "resting place".

Hendriksen adds that Gehenna (Wikipedia) "comes from Gē-Hinnōm, that is, the land of Hinnom, a valley belonging originally to Hinnom (see picture) and later to his sons. Originally, no doubt, this was a beautiful valley. But it did not remain so. It was in this valley that a high place was built. It was subsequently called Tophet, meaning, according to some, "place of spitting out" or "abhorrence"; according to others, "place of burning." Either interpretation would fit very well. It would seem that in the top of this high place there was a deep hole in which much wood was piled, and that this wood was ignited by a stream of brimstone (see Isaiah 30:33). The wicked kings Ahaz and Manasseh actually made their children pass through this terrible fire as offerings to the gruesome idol Moloch (2 Chr. 28:3; 33:6; cf. Lev. 18:21; 1 Ki 11:7). Others copied their wicked example (Jer 32:35). Jeremiah predicted that the divine judgment would strike Tophet; God would visit the terrible wickedness that occurred in Gē-Hinnōm with such mass destruction that the place would become known as "the valley of slaughter" (Jer 7:31-34; 19:6; 32:35). God-fearing King Josiah defiled this idolatrous high place, and stopped its abominations (2 Ki 23:10). Afterwards Jerusalem's rubbish was burnt here. Hence, whenever a person approached the valley, he would see those rubbish-burning flames. Now by adding these various ideas represented by Gē-Hinnōm—namely, ever-burning fire, wickedness, abomination, divine judgment, slaughter—it is easily seen that this Gē-Hinnōm became a symbol for the everlasting abode of the wicked, namely, hell. Gē-Hinnōm becomes (in Greek) Gehenna, the place of never-ending torment. (Ibid)

Gilbrant - Originally geenna, or gehenna, was the name of a valley south of Jerusalem. Gê Hinnōm (Hebrew) equals Hinnom Valley (cf. Joshua 15:8; 18:16). Thus the Greek word has its origin in this Hebrew expression (cf. Aramaic gê Hinnām). The valley itself was the site of child sacrifice during the time of King Ahab and Manasseh. There children were sacrificed to Molech. King Josiah declared the place unclean, and later it was referred to as the place of the dead. The form Gaienna is found in the Septuagint of Joshua 18:16, but it is not found in secular Greek writings. In the Old Testament the Valley of Hinnom was, to some extent, viewed as a symbol of Israel’s apostasy from or rejection of God. As stated above, it was a site where offerings and sacrifices were made to Molech (2 Chr 33:6; Jer 32:35). As a result of this association with apostasy both the place and the word became associated with God’s punishment and judgment (Jeremiah 7:32; 19:6). Later Judaism associated God’s judgment of His people with the Valley of Hinnom. Several times the Old Testament explicitly associates the valley with God’s judgment. Isaiah especially reflects such an understanding. In a picture of final things Isaiah envisioned salvation (a new heaven and a new earth, Isa 66:22,23ff.; cf. Revelation 21:1ff.) as well as judgment (the worm does not die and the fire will not be quenched, Isaiah 66:24; cf. Mark 9:48). In these cases gehenna is not a literal reference to a valley south of Jerusalem; instead it symbolizes the future judgment and punishment. (Complete Biblical Library Greek-English Dictionary)

Related Resources:

  • Baker Evangelical Dictionary - Hell
  • International Standard Bible Encyclopedia Gehenna
  • McClintock and Strong's Bible Encyclopedia Gehenna
  • The Jewish Encyclopedia Gehenna
  • Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible Gehenna
  • Hastings' Dictionary of the NT Gehenna Gehenna (2)

MacArthur notes that "Some people say that hell just means the grave and that God has the authority to cast you into the grave.  Don't fear men who can just kill you, fear God who can kill you and cast you into the grave. That's nonsense because if there is no hell, and there is no eternal torment, then God can't do anything to you that man can't do. 

Cole notes that "Jesus points us to a supreme danger that should scare us into avoiding hypocrisy: Hypocrisy is a danger because it results in eternal judgment for the hypocrite.The judgment spoken of here involves each member of the godhead, which should cause us to consider it with the utmost care. Hypocrites will be judged by the Father (Lk 12:5). Jesus says that rather than fearing those who can kill us, but do nothing further, we should “fear the One who after He has killed has authority to cast into hell.” Then, to emphasize an already strong point, Jesus repeats, “Yes, I tell you, fear Him!” The word “hell” is the Greek gehenna, which came from the Hebrew for the Valley of Hinnom, where the idolatrous Jews had offered their children in the fire to the pagan god, Molech. Later it became a garbage dump and a place where criminals’ bodies were thrown to be burned. The smoke rose perpetually as the garbage was slowly burned. Thus the name came to be used as a description of the place of eternal torment, “where their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched” (Mark 9:48). Believe me, I didn’t invent the idea of such a place as hell and I don’t even like it! But I can’t believe in Jesus and deny hell, since He spoke so plainly about it. If you say, “I don’t believe in a God who would send anyone to hell,” keep in mind that your believing or not believing has absolutely nothing to do with whether such a God exists! Whether you believe in Him or not, God has revealed Himself to us through His Son, Jesus. If you reject Jesus and His teaching about hell, you run the great risk that what He said was true. If it is true, you will be in big trouble on judgment day!." (Confessing or Denying Christ?)

ILLUSTRATION - Tears were streaming from the evangelist's eyes as the Spirit of God directed him toward three young men on the back row. The message that night had been on the "The Horrors of Hell." The man of God had made a passionate plea, attempting to rescue any soul bound for that awful place. As he approached the trio, he was about to ask them to please come to the Lord and confess their sins. Before he could utter a word, one of them smirked and said, "Huh, preacher, how far is it to Hell, anyway?" The other two laughed and they all turned and exited quickly from the church. The evangelist told me he heard the squeal of the tires as they pulled out on the highway and sped away. His broken heart followed them as far as possible, hoping they would return. Others, however, did respond and a number of people were praying around the altar. The prayer was soon interrupted by a state trooper's knock on the front door of the church. His question paralyzed the congregation. "Do any of you know three men?" and he went on to describe what they were wearing. The people responded that they did and wondered aloud why he asked. The officer sadly unfolded the story. Just two and one-half miles down the road, at the big bend, their car had left the road and split in half around a large oak tree. The people hurried to their cars. When they arrived, they found three dead bodies lying beside the road. It was two and one-half miles to Hell for those young men! (THIS IS NO MEANT TO BE HUMOROUS, FOR THERE IS ABSOLUTELY NOTHING FUNNY ABOUT HELL!) I suppose that none of us realize how close death is to us. It stalks our every step and waits around every corner. God's word says it would be thus, "It is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment" (Hebrews 9:27).

Beloved, Hell is a very real place. It is not just a cuss word. It is the destiny of those who die without Christ as their Savior. 

  • You can deny it and pretend it's not real, but it still exists. 
  • You can claim it is a fable, but the flames and fire burn and continue to persist. 
  •  It will not disappear or vanish even though you may insist. 
  • Hell was originally prepared for Satan and his angels, but those who reject Christ and follow Satan will spend eternity with him. For the flames of Hell, Satan is doing all that he can to get multitudes to enlist. 
  • If you die without Christ, you will go therefor eternity, even if you resist. Beloved, Hell is an awful place. 

1. Hell Is a Place of Consciousness - People in Hell are very aware of what is happening to them. (Luke 16:23, 24)

2. Hell Is a Place of Torment and No Rest or Peace at All - There will be no parties in Hell. It will not be fun at all.(Lk 16:23, 28, Rev 14:11, Rev 20:10)

3. Hell Is a Place of Darkness (Matthew 8:12, Jude 1:13)

4. Hell Is a Place of Sorrow and Eternal Separation From Loved Ones (Luke 13:28, 2 Sa 22:6)

5. Hell Is a Place of Hopelessness with No Way of Escape (Matthew 25:46, Luke 16:26)

6. Hell Is a Place of Tormenting Memories (Luke 16:27, 28)

7. Hell Is a Place of Unfulfilled Desires (Revelation 22:11)

8. Hell Is a Place of Fire (Revelation 20:14-15, Revelation 21:8, Matthew 13:50

9. Hell Is a Place of Worms (Mark 9:48) (What does this mean?)

10. Hell Is a Place of Unanswered Prayers (Luke 16:27-31)

11. Hell Is a Place of Everlasting Destruction (2 Thessalonians 1:9 - see why they are sent there - 2 Th 1:8)

What does a person do to go to Hell? Nothing! You are condemned already because you are a sinner. John 3:18

(From Rod Mattoon - Treasures in Luke)

Related Resources:

Rod Mattoon summarizes the value of the Fear of the Lord, a subject we hardly ever hear preached but which literally permeates both the Old and New Testaments from beginning to end!

The Benefits of Fearing the Lord - Jesus warned us that we should fear the One who has the power to cast a person into Hell. In other words, we should fear or have a reverence for the Lord. Fear God and you will have nothing else to fear. It will deliver you from the fear of men. In fact, the best way to take the fear out of living is to put faith in the Lord. It was said of John Knox, as his body was being lowered into the grave, "Here lies one who feared God so much that he never feared the face of man." What are the benefits of fearing God?

  1. It is the Dawn or beginning of Wisdom - Proverbs 1:7—The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction.
  2. It Determines our Destiny - Those who have no fear of God will reap His judgment. - Proverbs 1:28-29
  3. It Delivers us and helps us to Depart from Evil - Proverbs 3:7
  4. It is to Detest Evil - Proverbs 8:13a
  5. The Duration of Our Days is Prolonged by it - Proverbs 10:27
  6. It Delivers Strong Confidence - Proverbs 14:26a
  7. It Directs us to Life - Proverbs 14:27
  8. It Develops Satisfaction - Proverbs 19:23a, Proverbs 15:16
  9. It is the Direction or instruction of Wisdom - Proverbs 15:33a
  10. It Delivers Riches, Honor, and Life - Proverbs 22:4
  11. It Defends us Against Envy and Jealousy - Proverbs 23:17

Don't Go There! By David C. Egner

Fear Him who . . . has power to cast into hell. —Luke 12:5

Though it’s a frequently used word in the English language, it’s one of the least talked about. It’s used as an exclamation, an interjection, and a noun. What word is it? Hell.

Pollsters tell us that most people who use the word don’t believe in the existence of hell. While 90 percent of Americans said they believe in heaven, only 25 percent indicated that they believe in hell. That’s because hell is not a nice place. In his book Inferno, Dante depicted hell as a place of torment for sin. Above its gate he imagined a sign that said, “Abandon hope all ye who enter here.”

The truth about hell is found in the Bible. Jesus described it as a lake of fire, which was prepared for the devil and his helpers (Mt. 25:41). Christ also told about a rich man who was being tormented in hell and who asked a beggar to come and cool his tongue (Lk. 16:19-31). Hell is a place where God demonstrates His justice in dealing with all those who have rebelled against Him.

Hell is real. If you have trusted in Christ, your sins are forgiven and you are headed for heaven. But if you do not believe in Jesus, you are headed for hell. It’s a terrible place. You don’t want to go there!

God is so holy, so pure, and so right
That hell will be justice for sin;
Yet pardon is found by trusting in Christ,
And heaven's great joys will begin. —K. De Haan

To believe in heaven without hell is like believing in good without evil.

Luke 12:6  "Are not five sparrows sold for two cents? Yet not one of them is forgotten before God.

KJV Luke 12:6 Are not five sparrows sold for two farthings, and not one of them is forgotten before God?


Are not five sparrows sold for two cents? - This expects an affirmative reply. They were sold, slaughtered and roasted to be eaten.  Sparrows were the cheapest thing sold in the market. God knows about and cares about the most financially insignificant things. Jesus' point is that God is omniscient

MacArthur notes that "one further reason to fear God, nothing escapes His knowledge....Sparrows were little tiny birds that the poor picked up, caught in nets and ate, plucked them, skinned them, roasted them and ate them like tiny little hors d'oeuvres and they fed the poor.  They were so cheap you could buy five for two cents.  In Matthew it says they were two for a penny.  So what happened is for two pennies you got an extra one thrown in, two for a penny, or five for two pennies.  A penny was one-sixteenth of a day's wage, a denarii, is called an assarion. It was a copper Roman coin.  They were cheap food for the poor.  Nobody cared about sparrows. The only reason the poor cared about sparrows was they could eat them.  If there was anything you'd think God wouldn't bother Himself about it would be sparrows.  Couldn't there be one sparrow somewhere on the planet that God didn't know about?  No. No.  And if He knows about sparrows, He knows about you.  In fact, in Matthew 10:29 it says that He knows when the sparrow falls and that word can mean “hops.”  He not only knows every sparrow but He knows when every sparrow hops." (A Certain Cure for Hypocrisy, Part 1)

Robertson on sparrows - Diminutive of strouthos and means any small bird, sparrows in particular. They are sold today in the markets of Jerusalem and Jaffa. "For a farthing" (assariou) is genitive of price.

Cents (787)(assarion) see Wikipedia article. This word is the diminutive of the Roman copper coin as. The only other NT use is Mt 10:29 and there are no uses in the Septuagint. 

NET Note on cents -  a small Roman copper coin worth about one-sixteenth of a denarius or less than a half hour's average wage (one tenth of a drachma) 

Yet not one of them is forgotten before God - If God remembers the small animals He has created, He will certainly remember those created in His image. 

Isa 49:15 “Can a woman forget her nursing child And have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even these may forget, but I will not forget you. 

Robertson - There is comfort in this thought for us all. Our father who knows about the sparrows knows and cares about us.

Jesus is saying "Not even the most insignificant of God's creatures lies outside the sphere of his loving care." (Hendriksen) If that is true than what about YOU, dear child of God?!!!

Forgotten (neglected) (1950)(epilanthanomai from epí = in or upon - intensifies meaning of following verb + lantháno = lie hidden or concealed) conveys 2 basic nuances in the NT, to forget (not recall information concerning something) or to neglect (give little attention to, to omit by carelessness or design). Paul uses this to describe what he did (and all believers should do) regarding his past persecution of the Church and other sinful acts. (Phil 3:13-note). The man who looks at the word of God and is not a doer is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and then goes away immediately forgetting what kind of person he was (James 1:24-note). The writer of Hebrews encourages the wavering readers with these words

For God is not unjust so as to forget your work and the love which you have shown toward His name, in having ministered and in still ministering to the saints. (Hebrews 6:10-note)

Before God - The word before is enopion discussed below.

This exact Greek phrase (enopion tou theou) is found 25x in 25v in the NT - 

Lk. 1:19; Lk. 12:6; Lk. 16:15; Acts 4:19; Acts 7:46; Acts 10:31; Acts 10:33; Rom. 14:22; 1 Co. 1:29; 2 Co. 4:2; 2 Co. 7:12; Gal. 1:20; 1 Tim. 5:4; 1 Tim. 5:21; 1 Tim. 6:13; 2 Tim. 2:14; 2 Tim. 4:1; 1 Pet. 3:4; Rev. 3:2; Rev. 8:2; Rev. 8:4; Rev. 9:13; Rev. 11:16; Rev. 12:10; Rev 16:19

Rev. 16:19-note "Babylon the great was remembered before God, to give her the cup of the wine of His fierce wrath."

Comment: God remembers the sin of all who do not fear Him as typified by His remembering Babylon with her utter destruction! What a striking contrast with God's "memory" of the sins of those who are safe in Christ by grace through faith - see Isa 43:25, Jer 31:34-note Heb 8:12 10:17

Before (1799)(enopion from en = in + ops = the eye/see [cp optanomai = see, perceive with eyes, look at, implying not only the mere act of seeing but actual perception of what one sees]) means literally in sight, in front of, in the presence of. Being in sight. Before the face and thus the idea of face to face! Of doing something in someone’s presence.

Rod Mattoon - Fear can hover and encompass us like a thick fog, making our path obscure and unclear. The words of the Lord provide encouragement for all of us as He reminds the disciples and us of our preciousness to God. He uses sparrows as an object lesson of the great truth that we are not forgotten by God. Wow! Sparrows and other small birds were caught, killed, skinned, roasted and consumed. They were considered delicacies, as is still the case in certain countries. You would think that the commonness and insignificance of a sparrow would not command the attention of the Lord, but it does. They were worth only two small coins. Each coin was worth 1/16th of a denarius which was the ordinary wage for a full days work in that time by a day laborer. As tiny as the sparrow is, God knows the needs of each one. If He knows their needs, how much more does He know your needs? He knows you so well, that He knows how many hairs are on your head. He is so intimate with us that each hair is numbered. It has been computed that a blonde person has about 145,000 hairs, a dark-haired person has 120,000 hairs, and a person with red hair has around 90,000 strands of hair! Your hair inventory is constantly changing and the Lord keeps up with it constantly. He knows the hairs that fall out and the ones that don't grow back! Ha! You are more valuable to the Lord than an entire flock of sparrows. That is how important you are to Him. With the Lord, you do not fall unnoticed between the cracks. You are not lost in the crowd. Beloved, fear and reverence the One who values you, not the one who opposes you. Because of His care, you and I do not need to live in fear. Have you ever noticed how people run for cover when it rains? When people don't have an umbrella, they run hard to get under cover somewhere. They tend to hurry and scurry. On the other hand, if people have an umbrella, they seem to walk just as they would normally. Dr. Hammonds of Sardis Baptist Church stated, "The other day it was raining very hard, and I saw a certain couple's behavior. The man did not have an umbrella so he ran for the building. The lady, on the other hand, had an umbrella so she took her time getting out of the car and strolling to the building. The man seemed aggravated because he got wet and had to wait on the lady. She took her time and enjoyed the rain." Beloved, we tend to do the same thing as this man and woman. When we trust the Lord, we can stroll through trouble. When we don't trust the Lord, we run to get out of the trouble. Then we get frustrated because we see other people that seem to handle trouble easily. When you have troubles remember, you can be under His umbrella and care. He wants you to be under His cover. So let me ask, "Are you under His cover today? If not, run under his protection and let Him shelter you and stay out of the puddles." (Treasures from Luke)

Luke 12:7  "Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear; you are more valuable than many sparrows.

KJV Luke 12:7 But even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not therefore: ye are of more value than many sparrows.


Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered - The verb numbered is (perfect tense) implying they are permanently numbered (even if they do not stay permanently present on our head!) and the passive voice implies God numbered them ("divine passive") Notice how Jesus places emphasis on the smallest, seemingly insignificant things (sparrows, hairs), to highlight the point that if God is concerned about these things, how much more will He take care of those who are created in His own image and who have been born into His family and are forever His children. Dearly beloved (and ponder that phrase for that is what you are in God's eyes!!!), the next time you doubt your Father's love and concern for you, take a moment and meditate on the truth in these passages. Remember the sparrows and your hairs. If He is concerned about you VERY HAIRS, would He not be concerned about your very being? Of course not! John writes

See how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, that we would be called children of God; and such we are. For this reason the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. (1 John 3:1-note)

Spurgeon - God does not forget the sparrows, but he regards you with far greater interest and care, for he counts the very hairs of your head. He not only knows that there is such a person, but he knows the minutest details of your life and being. It is always a great comfort to remember that our Heavenly Father knows us. A dying man, who had been for many years a believer, had a minister at his bedside who said to him, “Don’t you know Jesus?” “Yes, Sir,” he replied, “I do, but the ground of my comfort is that he knows me.” And, surely, there is a great force in that truth. Your Heavenly Father knows you so completely that he has counted the hairs of your head: “Fear not therefore; ye are of more value than many sparrows.”

MacArthur- God even knows the very hairs of your head and they are all numbered: One, two, three, four, and with some of you He runs out pretty quickly, right?  The average is 150 thousand hairs.  That's average.  And I'm a little shy of that and so are some of you, but six billion people on the world, you can do a little math and find out how many numbers God has to keep everybody's hair.  And what about when one falls out, does He catch that?  If it is, He knows it. He doesn't acquire information. What's the point of saying that?  The point of saying that is: Look, you better fear God because He knows everything, everything, absolutely everything.  Back in the Old Testament, 1 Samuel 14:45, 2 Samuel 14:11, 1 Kings 1:52 is a familiar Old Testament phrase, "Not one hair of your head shall fall."  By the way, that same phrase is in Luke 21:18, same thing about the hairs of your head.  "Yet not a hair of your head will perish."  That was God's way of saying when judgment comes, I'll protect you. I'll protect you.  You'll also find it in Acts 27:34.  God knows every hair on every person on the planet.  He knows the minutest, most inconsequential details because if it is, He knows it.  So don't think somehow you don't need to fear God because in the end something will slip by. Ah, it won't slip by.  The truth will be uncovered, hell awaits the hypocrite, and God knows everything. (A Certain Cure for Hypocrisy, Part 1)

Numbered (705)(arithmeo from arithmos = a number - English "arithmetic")  as determining quantity count, number, reckon

Gilbrant - In classical Greek arithmeō means to “count, number, reckon.” This same sense is carried into both the Septuagint (e.g., 1 Kings 3:8 [LXX 3 Kings 3:8]) and the New Testament. Jesus used arithmeō to express the disciples’ worth saying that even the hairs of their heads were “numbered” (Matthew 10:30; Luke 12:7). In Revelation 7:9 John saw a multitude too large “to count” (cf. Genesis 15:5).

Arithmeo - 3x - count(1), numbered(2). Mt 10:30, Lk 12:7, Rev 7:

Arithmeo - 35x in 35v in the Septuagint - 

Gen. 14:14; Gen. 15:5; Gen. 16:10; Gen. 32:12; Gen. 41:49; Lev. 23:15; Lev. 23:16; 2 Sam. 24:1; 2 Sam. 24:10; 1 Ki. 3:8; 2 Ki. 12:10; 1 Chr. 21:1; 1 Chr. 21:2; 1 Chr. 21:6; 1 Chr. 21:17; 1 Chr. 23:3; 1 Chr. 27:24; 2 Chr. 2:17; 2 Chr. 5:6; 2 Chr. 25:5; Ezr. 1:8; Job 3:6; Job 14:16; Job 28:26; Job 36:27; Job 38:37; Job 39:2; Ps. 147:4; Prov. 8:21; Eccl. 1:15; Isa. 33:18; Jer. 33:13; Dan. 5:1; Dan. 5:17; Dan. 5:26

Ge 15:5-note - And He took him (Abram) outside and said, “Now look toward the heavens, and count (Lxx = arithmeo) the stars, if you are able to count them.” And He said to him, “So shall your descendants be.”

Do not fear; you are more valuable than many sparrows - Jesus says in Lk 12:5, "Fear Him," and in this verse "Do not fear."  The point is that you have feared God, then don't fear because you are of more value than many sparrows. The implication is "Be fearless, trusting." 

Malachi 3:16-17-note Then those who feared the LORD spoke to one another, and the LORD gave attention and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before Him for those who fear the LORD and who esteem His name. “They will be Mine,” says the LORD of hosts, “on the day that I prepare My own possession, and I will spare them as a man spares his own son who serves him.”

Comment: Note that this great promise is in the context of Mal 3:1-4 where it says "who can endure the day of His coming? And who can stand when He appears? For He is like a refiner’s fire and like fullers’ soap." Malachi 3:16-17 tells us who can stand. Those who fear the LORD!

Malachi 4:1-note “For behold, the day is coming, burning like a furnace; and all the arrogant and every evildoer will be chaff; and the day that is coming will set them ablaze,” says the LORD of hosts, “so that it will leave them neither root nor branch.” 2“But for you who fear My name, the Sun of Righteousness will rise with healing in its wings; and you will go forth and skip about like calves from the stall.

MacArthur - Don't be afraid.  If you are fearing God, don't fear.  He knows everything and He knows you are His.  If you are not His, time to fear God, who will uncover the truth, who will sentence you to hell, and who knows everything.

Fear (5399) See preceding discussion of phobeo which in this verse is a present imperative with a negative meaning stop being fearful (or don't start) and then He explains why below.

You are more valuable (worth more) (1308)(diaphero from dia = separation, through + phéro = carry, bear) means literally to carry or take something through an area or structure. One of the meanings of diaphero is to "differ to one’s advantage from someone or something, be worth more than, be superior to" (BDAG) which is the nuance in this verse. 

Hendriksen - The main lesson is this: Jesus is assuring his disciples that God's tender love and care will never fail them, not even in the hour of death. Cf. Ro. 8:31-39-note." (Ibid)

Octavius Winslow - "But even the very hairs of your head are all numbered." Luke 12:7. 
You know so little of God, my reader, because you live at such a distance from God; you have so little transaction with Him- so little confession of sin, so little searching of your own conscience, so little probing of your own heart, so little dealing with Him in the blood and righteousness of Christ, so little transaction with Him in the little things of life. You deal with God in great matters; you take great trials to God, great perplexities, great needs; but in the minutiae of each day's history, in what are called the little things of life, you have no dealings with God whatever; and consequently you know so little of the love, so little of the wisdom, so little of the glory, of this glorious covenant God and reconciled Father.  I tell you, the man who lives with God in little matters, who walks with God in the minutiae of his life, is the man who becomes the best acquainted with God- with His character, His faithfulness, His love. To meet God in my daily trials, to take to Him the trials of my calling, the trials of my church, the trials of my family, the trials of my own heart- to take to Him that which brings the shade upon my brow, that rends the sigh from my heart- to remember it is not too trivial to take to God- above all, to take to Him the least taint upon the conscience, the slightest pressure of sin upon the heart, the softest conviction of departure from God- to take it to Him, and confess it at the foot of the cross, with the hand of faith upon the bleeding sacrifice- oh! these are the paths in which a man becomes intimately and closely acquainted with God!  (Morning Thoughts)

The Underbird By David C. Egner

Read: James 2:1-9 

You are of more value than many sparrows. —Luke 12:7

Charlie Brown, the comic strip character, identified with the underdog, probably because he always felt like one. In one scene he was building a birdhouse when the cynical Lucy came by. “I’m building it for sparrows,” Charlie told her. Lucy said, “For sparrows? Nobody builds birdhouses for sparrows.” “I do,” replied Charlie Brown. “I always stick up for the underbird.”

At times Christians may overlook the “sparrows,” the little people in their worlds. They may ignore those they view as less valuable.

James said it’s wrong for a Christian to practice partiality (James 2:1). It’s a sin to show personal favoritism (v.9). The reasons may be social, economic, educational, or ethnic, but there’s no excuse for disrespecting people with our attitudes and words.

Jesus didn’t do this. He crossed all kinds of traditional barriers to talk with tax-collectors, sinners, non-Jews, people of mixed races, the poor, as well as the rich. He came to identify with each of us, and to pay the price on the cross for all our sins.

When a sparrow falls, the Father takes note of it. But He cares much more for people, including the “underbird.” Perhaps we need a little more Charlie Brown in us.

Lord, help me to love the way that You love
The humble, the lowly, the meek;
And help me to care the way that You care
For sinners, the outcasts, the weak.

Nobody wins when we play favorites.

Luke 12:8  "And I say to you, everyone who confesses Me before men, the Son of Man will confess him also before the angels of God;

KJV Luke 12:8 Also I say unto you, Whosoever shall confess me before men, him shall the Son of man also confess before the angels of God:


Everyone - No exceptions. Jesus has been building up to this passage, because He knew that our natural fear of men would have an impact our our confession of Him as the Son of God. And so He has just encouraged them to fear God and not to fear men. 

Confesses Me before men - This speaks of willingness to be bold. We all have to ask ourselves "Does this describe my attitude and actions?"

John MacArthur adds that "Everyone is an inclusive term that gives a sober warning to all would-be and all professing believers for careful self-examination. A person's willingness to confess Christ before men determines Christ's willingness to claim that person before His Father. Paul eagerly confessed, "For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes" (Ro 1:16). He was not ashamed to acknowledge the person and work of Christ because His is the only message that offers salvation and hope to a corrupt and dying world. (MacArthur New Testament Commentary – Matthew 8-15)

Moody Bible Commentary - To confess is more than just a "cold recitation of words" but it is an active acknowledgment—by life and word—that "Jesus is Lord" of one's life. Three reasons are offered to encourage disciples to confess Christ: one, there is "the principle of reciprocity"—that is, if we desire Christ to confess us (acknowledge us as rightfully belonging in heaven—before the angels Lk 12:8b) we must confess Him before men (Lk 12:8-9). Two, there is the problem of blasphemy against the Holy Spirit (Lk 12:10). This appears to be a case of willfully denying the revealed truth about Christ—that is, unbelief. A "permanent rejection" (cf. Bock, Luke, 1143) of the Spirit revealed truth will not be—indeed cannot be—forgiven. Third, Jesus encouraged His friends to confess Him before men by reminding them of the promise of the Holy Spirit (Lk 12:11-12).

Confesses (acknowledges) (3670)(homologeo from homos = one and the same or together with+ lego = to say; confess from con = together, fateor = to say.) literally means to say the same thing as another and so to agree in one's statements with, to acknowledge, to admit the truth of (an accusation). 

This verb is used to describe the men in Titus 1:16-note who "profess (homologeo in the present tense) to know God" indicating this is continually their confession. The problem is that they counter their confession with a continual denial of Him by their deeds continually "deny" God (arneomai in the present tense)! Yes, we are to confess Christ (Ro 10:9-10-note), but if our life (works) does not authenticate or back up our words, then our words are a lie and we are still dead in our trespasses and sins. 

Confess means to affirm and agree with. It is not simply to recognize a truth but to identify with it. Even the demons, for example, recognize that God is one (James 2:19), but they by no means confess God, because they are His implacable enemies. We do not confess Christ simply by acknowledging that He is Lord and Savior but by acknowledging and receiving Him as our Lord and Savior. (Ibid)

MacArthur adds that "Confess means to affirm and agree with. It is not simply to recognize a truth but to identify with it. Even the demons, for example, recognize that God is one (James 2:19), but they by no means confess God, because they are His implacable enemies. We do not confess Christ simply by acknowledging that He is Lord and Savior but by acknowledging and receiving Him as our Lord and Savior." (Ibid)

NET Note - This acknowledgment will take place at the judgment. Of course, the Son of Man is a reference to Jesus as it has been throughout the Gospel. On Jesus and judgment, see Lk 22:69; Acts 10:42–43; 17:31. 

Parallel passage in Matthew

Matthew 10:32; 33 “Therefore everyone who confesses Me before men, I will also confess him before My Father who is in heaven. 33 “But whoever denies Me before men, I will also deny him before My Father who is in heaven. 

Before the angels of God  - In Mt 10:32 Jesus says Jesus will confess them before His Father Who of course is surrounded by the angels in Heaven. So the sense is the same. 

Steven Cole - We must confess Christ, even unto death, because we will stand before God for eternal judgment.

To be a hypocrite is to deny Christ. The opposite is to confess Christ. Jesus speaks very tenderly to His followers here, calling them His friends (Lu 12:4) and assuring them of the Father’s loving care (Lu 12:6, Lu 12:7). He promises that if we confess Him before men, He will confess us before the angels of God. So, what does it mean to confess Him?

To confess Christ means to proclaim to others the fact that Jesus Christ is our Savior and Lord and that our salvation is all from Him and not at all from us. Other Scriptures show that we do this initially through baptism, where we publicly confess that Jesus Christ is our Savior and Lord (Mt 28:19; Mk 16:16; examples in Acts, e.g., Ac 16:33). Then, through both our lives and our words, we openly acknowledge that we are followers of Jesus Christ and that He has saved us by His grace, apart from anything we have done. If Jesus Christ has truly saved you, then you will be a different person. You will be growing in righteousness, love, and truth. You will judge and confess your sins. When opportunities come up to tell others of the great love and mercy of the Savior, you will do it because of your gratitude to Him for saving you.

Don’t miss the fact that Jesus here not only accepts, but also openly promotes, His own preeminence. He states that every person’s eternal destiny hinges on his or her confession of Jesus! As Leon Morris puts it, “Jesus leaves His hearers in no doubt but that eternal issues are involved in their attitude to Him” (Luke [IVP/ Eerdmans], p. 210). Salvation is by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. One who has truly been saved will openly confess that fact. The question then is, How do we confess Christ, especially in the face of persecution?

To confess Christ, we must remember that all of life is lived under the Father’s gaze. - This is the thrust of Jesus’ words in Lu 12:2-3. Hypocrites live double lives, acting one way when they’re around the religious crowd, but living a different way when they’re alone. But that’s not a smart policy if there is an omniscient God who knows every thought we have. Genuine Christianity is a matter of the heart and it must be lived openly before the God who knows everything about us (Ps 139). When we sin even in our thoughts, we must confess it to Him. Then, with the inner person cleansed and with an awareness of His presence, we will be able to confess Christ openly to others.

To confess Christ, we must fear the judgment of God more than we fear the judgment of men. - Jesus here tenderly addresses His followers as His friends. To be the friend of Jesus is far better than to be the foe of evil men. He tells us not to be afraid of those who can kill the body, but after that can do no more. Rather, we are to fear God who has the authority not only to kill our bodies, but also to cast our souls into hell. Some Christians say that we should always be positive and that we should only focus on God’s love. But, clearly, Jesus did not agree with that. Here He uses the fear of God’s judgment as a strong motivation for believers. We may fear rejection or even persecution by men. But we need to fear rejection and the ultimate persecution by God!

This is a basic lesson that every man who teaches or preaches God’s Word must come to grips with. If you want everyone to like you and sing your praises, you will be unfaithful to God’s Word. The apostle Paul said (Ga 1:10), “For am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God? Or am I striving to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a bondservant of Christ.” He also said (1Th 2:3-4), “For our exhortation does not come from error or impurity or by way of deceit; but just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not as pleasing men but God, who examines our hearts.” You simply cannot be faithful to the message of the cross or to the holiness of God without stepping on some toes, no matter how tactfully you present it. So a basic requirement of every preacher and teacher is, you must fear God more than you fear men.

But, what if men not only reject or slander us? What if they actively persecute us?

To confess Christ, we must trust in the loving, providential care of the Father. - After telling us to fear God, Jesus tenderly tells us of His providential care for us and then says, “Do not fear” [men]. He uses two illustrations to show us how much God cares for those who confess the name of His Son. The first is that of sparrows. Five sparrows were sold for two cents. In Mt 10:29 He states that two sparrows were sold for a cent. If you bought four for two cents, they threw the fifth one in for free! Even though sparrows were of such little value to men, Jesus says that not one of them is forgotten before God. Jesus assures us, “You are of more value than many sparrows.”

Then Jesus tells us that God has numbered all the hairs of our head. In my case, God is good at subtraction! Jesus means that the smallest details of our lives are under the tender care of our heavenly Father. Contrary to modern “Christian” psychology, these verses are not teaching that we should esteem ourselves more highly than we do. Rather, we should esteem God more highly because of His fatherly care for us, in spite of our many sins and shortcomings. But, Jesus does want us as God’s children to feel assured in His loving care for us. No one can lay a finger on us apart from the Father’s permission. If wicked men kill us, we have His promise, “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His godly ones” (Ps 116:15). Knowing that the Father cares for us, we can bear witness even toward those who are hostile to us.

To confess Christ, we must count on the faithful promises of the Son. - Jesus promises that if we confess Him on earth, He will confess us in heaven (Lu 12:8). Every Christian should live every day in light of someday standing before the One who gave His life for us. Our great hope should be that we will hear Him say, “Well done, good and faithful servant!” Then any suffering or rejection we have experienced will be worth it all!

To confess Christ, we must rely on the instructive ministry of the Holy Spirit. - Jesus warns His followers that they will be brought before religious and governmental authorities because of their stand for Him. But He says that we should not worry about what we will say at such times, because the Holy Spirit will instruct us at the moment when we need His wisdom. These comments apply to any time that we are under fire for our testimony. If we have been living for Christ and walking in the Spirit, we can rely on the Spirit to give us wisdom to respond in the moment of pressure.

Conclusion Thomas Cranmer (youtube) served faithfully as Archbishop of Canterbury under kings Henry VIII and Edward VI in England. But when Bloody Mary came to the throne, he was condemned to death for treason and heresy. He was forced to watch as Hugh Latimer and Nicolas Ridley were burned at the stake in Oxford. The fear of such a painful death caused Cranmer to recant his Protestant views and to sign a paper that he agreed with the Roman Catholic view of transubstantiation. But even though he recanted, the Catholics planned to burn him anyway. On the eve of his execution, he was brought before the church where he was expected to acknowledge publicly his shift toward Rome. But he shocked his enemies when he suddenly renounced his recantation, declared the Pope to be antichrist, and rejected transubstantiation. Then, with a light heart and a clear conscience, he allowed himself to be hurried to the stake amidst the outcries of his disappointed enemies. As the flames curled around him, he boldly held out his right hand into the fire, the hand that had signed his recantation, and said, “This unworthy right hand,” while he held his left hand up toward heaven as he perished in the flames (J. C. Ryle, Light From Old Times [Evangelical Press], pp. 35-38).

Hopefully, none of us will have to face such a tortuous death. But, if we do, the way to be ready to confess Christ under such pressure is to be confessing Him now. What is a little rejection or ridicule, or even physical death, in the light of eternal life with our glorious Lord? May we boldly confess our loving Savior who bore our sins on the cross!

Discussion Questions

  • When does keeping certain personal matters private cross the line into hypocrisy? How honest should we be?
  • What is the difference between being diplomatic and being a people-pleaser?
  • How can a naturally timid person overcome his or her fear of people in order to confess Christ publicly?
  • Should a Christian fear committing the unpardonable sin? Is it possible for a believer to apostatize? (Confessing or Denying Christ)

ILLUSTRATION - In the summer of 2004, Warren Beamer, a missionary from San Antonio, Texas, visited an orphanage in Nigeria. Beamer was startled when one of the children at the orphanage spoke to him with a southern accent. The girl quickly shared that she was from Houston, Texas. To convince the missionary that this was true, she recited her social security number. Then the girl led Beamer to six other children in the orphanage, whom she described as her brothers and sisters.

The children, who ranged from eight to sixteen years-of-age, had been sent to a Nigerian boarding school by their adoptive American mother. When the woman stopped making tuition payments to the school, the children were sent to the orphanage, living in terrible, squalid conditions. Gradually the children gave up hope of ever returning home to the great state of Texas.

When the children saw Warren Beamer, they began singing the "Star-Spangled Banner" in an effort to convince him of the truth of their claim that they were Americans. The boldly proclaimed their citizenship and the place of their true home. With the assistance of Beamer's pastor and a U.S. congressman, the children were back in the United States of America within eight days. This story amply illustrates the important truth that Jesus makes with His disciples in this section about confession and being unashamed of your citizenship. (Mattoon's Treasures - Mattoon's Treasures – Treasures from Luke, Volume 3)

ILLUSTRATION - We should not be ashamed to confess the truth about Jesus Christ. That was the sentiment of the cartoonist, Charles Schultz.

The animated story A Charlie Brown Christmas airs on one of the major television networks seasonally. The two producers who worked closely with Charlie Brown creator Charles Schultz remembered their desperate efforts to convince a television network to show the special originally. All the major networks were hesitant. Finally, one agreed, and the great cartoonist got to work.

A memorable and moving part of A Charlie Brown Christmas occurs when the cartoon character Linus, strolls to center stage and reads the biblical account of the meaning of Christmas. The two producers working with Schultz cautioned him about putting something like that in the cartoon special, because they were convinced it wouldn't go over well. Charles Schultz faced both of the producers and said, "If not us, then who's going to do it?"

Way to go Charles! Even though he is dead, he is still remembered by many today. I am thankful he was willing to speak up for the truth about the birth of Christ in spite of the pressure and opposition he faced. 

In dealing with the issue of fear, Jesus adds that the person that denies the Lord will be denied by the Lord before the angels of God. He offers both positive and negative motivation for His disciples. There is a price to pay for denying Him and a blessing to enjoy in confessing Christ. (Mattoon)

Luke 12:9  but he who denies Me before men will be denied before the angels of God.

KJV Luke 12:9 But he that denieth me before men shall be denied before the angels of God.

Matthew's parallel

Matthew 10:33  But whoever denies Me before men, I will also deny him before My Father who is in heaven. 

MacArthur asks "What does it mean to confess and be confessed, to deny and be denied? people, this is the basic message that needs to be preached in every place where Jesus Christ is named, this is a message that calls so called Christians to self‑examination. It is a message that says look at yourself...are you confessing or...are you denying? For your eternal destiny depends on that." (The Hallmarks of Discipleship)

But  term of contrast. Here Jesus is clearly contrasting confession of Him versus denial of Him before men. 

Spurgeon - What courage this ought to give us! In company where the very name of Christ is kicked about like a football, — where everything is respected except true religion, — it is not always an easy thing to come forward, and say, “I also am his disciple.” But if you will do this, you have Christ’s pledge that he will own you before the angels of God. If you do not do so, but practically deny him by a shameful silence, you may reasonably expect that he also will deny you before the angels.

He who denies Me before men will be denied before the angels of God - Matthew 10:33 has before My Father instead of before the angels of God, but Jesus' point is the same. Notice that this in a sense is a conditional promise, but it is also a strong and clear warning. Keep in mind that the verb deny also carries the sense of disown. We need to ponder the thought of disowning Jesus, lest He disown us. He is not speaking about denial or disowning indicating that such a person loses their salvation. While a genuine believer (like Peter) may deny Him occasionally, they will not continually deny Him. Only an unbeliever continually denies or disowns Jesus and these false professors and hypocrites will be "flushed out" in the future at the judgment by God Who sees their hearts!  

Denies (aorist tense)(720)(arneomai from "a" = negation + rheo = say) literally means "to say no", to say one does not know about or is in any way related to some person or some thing. Webster says that to deny implies a firm refusal to accept as true, to grant or concede or to acknowledge the existence or claims of.

Hendriksen explains that "those who deny or disown him will be denied before these same angels. See Matt. 25:41-43, 45. In this case Jesus is not quoted as saying, "I will deny them." What we read is "they will be denied [or disowned]." This change was made, perhaps, to emphasize all the more strongly the sorrowful lot of those who will be thus rejected."

Preaching the Word –  True faith always moves from the heart to the lips. On the other hand, a lack of desire to confess Christ before others is a warning alarm—do we really have faith? An unwillingness to bear witness may mean we have fooled ourselves—we are not truly children of God. (Luke, Volume II: That You May Know the Truth)

Darrell Bock - In contrast to the idea in the previous verse, the one who denies Jesus before other people will be denied in heaven. The passive mood does not specifically indicate who does the heavenly denying, but it is clear that rejection from heaven is in view. People have two options: to accept Jesus or reject him; there is no neutral position (Manson 1949: 108). But is Jesus referring to a single incident or a pattern in one’s life? Peter’s failure to confess Jesus suggests that one incident is not in view (contra Nolland 1993a: 679). In contrasting Peter with Judas, it might be better to speak of denial of nerve versus denial of the heart. Peter did deny Jesus publicly three times, but he regretted his act and responded later with numerous public declarations of Jesus. Judas denied Jesus through betrayal and was tormented by his decision. Nevertheless, Judas’s response was inadequate; rather than declaring Jesus, he committed suicide. Peter’s denial was one of nerve, which was later dramatically reversed. Judas’s denial was one of the heart. Thus, Judas—not Peter—better illustrates this verse. Other candidates might include those who depart the assembly in 1 John 2:19+, which may be the same group referred to by the phrase sin unto death in 1 John 5:16+. Those who deny or end up denying Jesus are in view here. As such, the aorist participle ho arnēsamenos (the one who denies) functions as a summary description of a life of denial. (Baker Exegetical Commentary on the NT: Luke)

David Guzik - Even as there was an honorable reward for the faithful, there is a terrible penalty for the faithless. They would be denied and disgraced before the throne of God. i. Jesus did not say, denies Me in their heart or denies me in their mind; He said, denies Me before men. There is a real and important place for a public declaration of allegiance to Jesus. For many, this is the most difficult thing of all – and is usually difficult because of a fear of man, the exact thing Jesus warned against in His previous words (Luke 12:4-7). ii. The test to either confess or deny Jesus before men may come in many ways; but it will always come. It is helpful to be determined in heart and mind before the test comes. iii. Jesus clearly called His listeners to a choice. As before in Luke 11:23+ the choice is to either be with Jesus or against Him. Here the choice is to confess Jesus or deny Him. (Enduring Word Bible Commentary – Luke)

William MacDonald - The primary reference here seems to be to the Pharisees, but of course the verse includes all who refuse Christ and are ashamed to acknowledge Him. In that day, He will say, "I never knew you." (Believer's Bible Commentary)

Holman New Testament Commentary asks "will you confess that Jesus is your Lord? Now make your decision: fear human persecution—or fear not being included in Christ's eternal kingdom." (Holman New Testament Commentary – Luke)

Crawford - The verb arneomai  is used of Peter's denial before the cross, but is never used of believers afterward. The test of 2 Tim 2:12 is a test of the real against the false. No true believer can deny the Lord in this sense today; only apostates do this (see 1 Tim 5:8; 2 Tim 3:3; 1 John 2:22, 23; Jude 4). This is a denial of His deity and the value of His shed blood. The denial of the Master is moral error and apostasy (2 Pet 2:1; Titus 1:16), and is seen in those who are reprobate. Although no genuine believer can be an apostate, it is possible for believers to adopt at least some of the behaviour of apostates (Heb 10:25; Jude 20-25). To "be denied before the angels of God" means that in the presence of God the Lord will deny that these belong to Him, and they will perish eternally. (What the Bible teaches - What the Bible teaches – Luke)

Kent Hughes adds that "According to Paul, the inception of authentic faith in Christ involves verbal confession of him: "That if you confess with your mouth, 'Jesus is Lord,' and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved" (Romans 10:9, 10). True faith always moves from the heart to the lips. On the other hand, a lack of desire to confess Christ before others is a warning alarm—do we really have faith? An unwillingness to bear witness may mean we have fooled ourselves—we are not truly children of God. This is a great concern to Jesus. He said, after Peter's great confession, "If anyone is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels" (Luke 9:26). And the one who gave himself for us says it here again. We must confess him—always!" (Preaching the Word - Luke, Volume II: That You May Know the Truth) (Bolding added)

Leon Morris comments that "anyone who denies (‘disowns’, NEB) Jesus will face the ultimate denial. He has refused to number himself among Jesus’ followers. When he stands before God his choice will be ratified. Jesus leaves his hearers in no doubt but that eternal issues are involved in their attitude to him." (TNTC - Luke)

John Martin - To acknowledge denotes the fact that the disciples recognized Him as the Messiah and therefore they had access to the way of salvation. Those who did not acknowledge Him were denying themselves the way of salvation. (The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures by Dallas Seminary Faculty - see Constable's comments below)

Sadly some evangelical commentators (Another member of Dallas Seminary faculty Dr Thomas Constable who I use and generally respect on most of his comments) interpret this denial of Christ as the time at the Judgment Seat of Christ when "More or fewer rewards are in view" for believers. Beloved, this is a very dangerous teaching! How can a genuine believer live a life in which he continually denies (disowns) the One Who saved him? It is not even logical. Of course Jesus is not speaking about occasional denials all of us have been guilty of in our life. He is speaking about denial of Himself as one's practice. As alluded to above Paul describes this lifestyle of denial in Titus 1:16-note in men who actually "profess (continually confess) to know God, but by their deeds they deny (present tense = continually deny or disown) Him, being detestable and disobedient and worthless for any good deed." It is interesting that in this verse Constable says "Whenever a person's talk and walk conflict it is usually his walk rather than his talk that reveals what he really is (1 John 1:6)." Interesting! How can one continually walk with Jesus, if he continually denies Him?

This verb is used to describe the men in Titus 1:16-note who "profess (homologeo in the present tense) to know God" indicating this is continually their confession. The problem is that they counter their confession with a continual denial of Him by their deeds continually "deny" God (arneomai in the present tense)! Yes, we are to confess Christ (Ro 10:9-10-note), but if our life (works) does not authenticate or back up our words, then our words are a lie and we are still dead in our trespasses and sins. While one might argue these are not the same context, let's look at another statement in John's epistle

Whoever denies (arneomai in the present tense) the Son does not have the Father; the one who confesses (homologeo in the present tense) the Son has the Father also.(1 John 2:23-note)

Comment - This passage speaks of a lifetime (or lifestyle - present tense) of denying the Son! Even in this very clear passage, Constable does not say John is describing the attitude and actions of an unbeliever but instead says "If they rejected the Son, they could not expect an intimate relationship with the Father." That is not what the text says. John is not speaking of fellowship (Constable's view) in this verse but of sonship, of one of the marks of those who are not in God's family but have a spirit of antichrist. John MacArthur explains "Anyone denying the true nature of Christ as presented in the Scripture is an antichrist (cf. 1Jn 4:3; 2Th 2:11). The denial of Christ also constitutes a denial of God Himself, Who testified to His Son (1 Jn 5:9; Jn 5:32-38; 8:18)." Dr Charles Ryrie adds "To deny the Son makes it impossible to become part of God's family and have God as Father." (Ryrie Study Bible)

Cole - If a person denies Jesus before men, He states that He will deny that person before the angels of God. Obviously Jesus was not talking about a person who occasionally fails by denying Him. If He meant that, then Peter will not be in heaven! But if our way of life is to profess Christ when we’re around the Christian crowd, but to deny Christ when we’re around the pagans, we are being hypocrites. If we do not repent and take a stand with Christ, no matter what the cost, then He will deny us at the judgment. (Confessing or Denying Christ)

Broadman Bible Commentary - The pressures of persecution will subject followers of Jesus to the most difficult kind of test. The disciples are to be aware of the consequences of affirming and denying their relationship to him. If in an hour of crisis they affirm their allegiance to him, they can be assured that he will be their advocate in the time of eschatological crisis that lies beyond this age. Luke is thinking here of judgment, the great and final assize before the assembled hosts of heaven. While it is true that the language does not require the identification of Jesus with the Son of man, this was no doubt the identification made by early Christians and by Luke. (Matt. 10:32 has “I,” which, as Creed says [pp. 171 f.], may be original.) Those who yield to the pressures and deny Jesus cannot expect to have an advocate at the judgment. In his teaching, Jesus constantly drives home the severity of the gospel’s demands. By his actions, however, he shows that the love of God is not withdrawn from the weak and cowardly. The early church remembered well that the persons who denied Jesus in the hour of crisis were forgiven and restored to places of trust. The gospel is always both grace and demand. Without demand grace becomes cheap; without grace demand leads to despair. So those of us who have denied him because of social and business pressures or for other reasons must hear the word of grace, which brings us once more under the demand to be true whatever the cost. (Broadman Bible Commentary – Luke-John)

Luke 12:10  "And everyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man, it will be forgiven him; but he who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit, it will not be forgiven him.

KJV Luke 12:10  And whosoever shall speak a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but unto him that blasphemeth against the Holy Ghost it shall not be forgiven.

Parallel passages in the synoptic Gospels

Matthew 12:31-32+ Therefore I say to you, any sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven people, but blasphemy against the Spirit shall not be forgiven. Whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man, it shall be forgiven him; but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit, it shall not be forgiven him, either in this age or in the age to come.

Mark 3:29+   but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin”–


Note that this is a very difficult verse and as one writer said "Throughout the history of the church, this has been one of the most difficult texts to interpret. False teaching has thrived on incorrect versions, and often people have become mentally ill, fearing they have committed the unpardonable sin. It must be stressed that the Bible teaches there is only one unforgivable sin, and that is the rejection of Christ." (Powell)

This verse has even created anxiety in believers who wonder if they have committed the unpardonable sin. The answer is that they have not. In fact if anyone is worried that they are guilty of this sin, then they are not! Why do I say that? Because the sin is against the Holy Spirit and if one had committed it, he would have no concern for the Holy Spirit would have ceased convicting him. He is so dead to God that he has no consciousness of no sin at all, including no concern of committing the unpardonable sin. Concern that one has committed or might commit the unpardonable is clear evidence that this person still has a consciousness of sin. 

J C Ryle who wrote "THIS passage of Scripture contains “things hard to be understood.” The sin against the Holy Ghost in particular has never been fully explained by the most learned divines. It is not difficult to show from Scripture what the sin is not. It is difficult to show clearly what it is. We must not be surprised. The Bible would not be the book of God, if it had not deep places here and there, which man has no line to fathom. Let us rather thank God that there are lessons of wisdom to be gathered, even out of these verses, which the unlearned may easily understand."

NOTE: For a more in depth analysis of this difficult passage click the link to the commentary on Matthew 12:31-32 which has quotes from numerous sources (commentaries and sermons some of which are quoted here). Be forewarned that there is not perfect agreement on the interpretation.

“Therefore I say to you, any sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven people, but blasphemy against the Spirit shall not be forgiven. 32 “Whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man, it shall be forgiven him; but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit, it shall not be forgiven him, either in this age or in the age to come.

And everyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man - Note the use of everyone used here and the next clause which signifies no exceptions. As Utley puts it "The gospel is as wide as all humanity, but judgment is also as wide as all of those who say “no”!" This is probably every one of us, certainly those of us who came to Christ later in life (I was age 39), for we undoubtedly had spoken a word against Jesus. How many of us used His Name as a curse word before we were saved? That's a word spoken against Jesus (BTW - be wary watching TV these days - there is a veritable "epidemic" of using Jesus great Name as a curse word!). 

It will be forgiven him - And all God's people said "Hallelujah! Will be forgiven is a divine passive

But - This term of contrast draws a  "line in the sand" so to speak contrasting two destinies, forgiven and unforgiven, Heaven and Hell,  the good news with the bad news. There is no straddling the fence! 

He who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit - Blasphemes is in the active voice which speaks of a willful, volitional choice to revile the Spirit. This is not a single slanderous statement but recalcitrant resistance against the Spirit. It reflects an individual's a persistent unrepentant spirit to the Spirit's message of life available in Christ by faith. If you worry you have committed the "unpardonable sin" then you haven't (for if you had you would not be worried!).

Against (eis) - Expresses motion toward. This accentuates the picture of the person's resistance to the Spirit's urging.

Blasphemes (987) (blasphemeo from bláptō = to hurt, injure, harm + from phēmí = to speak) means literally to speak to harm and in general therefore means to bring into ill repute and so to slander, to defame (to harm the reputation of by libel or slander). 

Bock writes that "blasphemy of the Spirit is not so much an act of rejection as it is a persistent and decisive rejection of the Spirit’s message and work concerning Jesus. When a person obstinately rejects and fixedly refuses that message or evidence, that person is not forgiven.... The difference between blaspheming the Son of Man and blaspheming the Spirit is that blasphemy of the Son of Man is an instant rejection, while blasphemy of the Spirit is a permanent decision of rejection. Luke 22:65 and 23:39 look at instances of rejection, while speeches such as Acts 7:51, 13:40–49, and 28:23–28 show the implications once that rejection is solidified into an attitude. Once the Spirit’s testimony about God’s work through Jesus is permanently refused, then nothing can be forgiven, since God’s plan has been rejected. (Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament, Luke: 9:51–24:53, p 1141ff).

Shall not be forgiven - Absolute negation. Absolutely will not be forgiven which again is a divine passive

Forgiven (863)(aphiemi from apo = prefix implies separation + hiemi = put in motion, send; See noun aphesis) conveys the basic idea of an action which causes separation and means to send from one's self, to forsake, to hurl away, to put away, let alone, disregard, put off. It conveys the basic idea of an action which causes separation and refers to total detachment, total separation, from a previous location or condition. It means to send forth or away from one's self. It refers to the act of putting something away or of laying it aside. In secular Greek aphiemi initially conveyed the sense of to throw and in one secular writing we read "let the pot drop" (aphiemi). From this early literal use the word came to mean leave or let go. God will not let our sin go if we continually refuse the wooing of His Spirit. 

Mattoon -The Lord mentions that those folks who blaspheme, revile, or rail against the Spirit of God will not be forgiven. They will be empty of the pardon of Christ. What does this mean? Some have labeled this the unpardonable sin. What is the sin that is not forgiven? This is not so much a sin of the moment, as of one's entire life. It is an obstinate rejection of God's message and testimony. Beloved, when a person is in defiance or resistance toward the Holy Spirit's prompting in his life about his need for Christ, he is going to be unrepentant. Let me say that the problem is not with the Lord, it is with the resistant person. God has not shut him out. He wants all men to come to repentance and be saved. The resistant sinner continues to shut himself out of the blessing of eternal life and a home in Heaven by his refusal to put his faith in Christ. The more he resists, the harder he tends to get as time passes.  If a person is not careful, he can become so hardhearted that he can quench the Spirit of God in his life. He can get to a point where he will not be under conviction for his sins any more or the Lord stops speaking to him. You don't want to be in that boat for sure! If a person continues to resist the Spirit of God and reject the Lord Jesus Christ, he will never be forgiven of his sins if he dies without Christ. He will not receive eternal life. He will spend eternity in Hell and never get out. Once a person has died without Christ, it is the Lord that shuts him out of Heaven because that person rejected God's son and Christ's atonement for his sins. If you do not know the Lord as your Savior, then you have something to truly fear. Give your heart to Christ today. (Treasures from Luke, Volume 3)

A T Robertson- This unpardonable sin is given by Mark 3:28-29; Matthew 12:31-32 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 eis here in the sense of "against. If a person is not careful, he can become so hardhearted that he can quench the Spirit of God in his life. He can get to a point where he will not be under conviction for his sins any more or the Lord stops speaking to him. You don't want to be in that boat for sure! (Word Pictures in the New Testament)

Life Application Study Bible - Jesus said that blasphemy against the Holy Spirit is unforgivable. This has worried many sincere Christians, but it does not need to. The unforgivable sin is attributing to Satan the work that the Holy Spirit accomplishes (see the notes on Matthew 12:31, 32; Mark 3:28, 29). Thus, it is the deliberate and ongoing rejection of the Holy Spirit's work and even of God himself. A person who has committed this sin is far from God and totally unaware of any sin at all. If you fear you have committed this sin, be assured that your very concern shows that you have not sinned in this way.

Robert Stein feels that the best interpretation of the unpardonable sin is "persistent and unremitting resistance to the Spirit’s work as he brings conviction of sin and reveals the need for repentance and faith...the best interpretation, for rejection of the Spirit’s work renders faith impossible and salvation unattainable (cf. Acts 7:51). One thing is clear. Anyone concerned about this sin has nothing to fear, for such a concern witnesses to a sensitivity and openness to the Spirit’s work, which those who have sinned in this way do not possess. (New American Commentary – Volume 24: Luke)

Bruce Barton - This sin of blasphemy against the Holy Spirit has worried many sincere Christians, so the meaning becomes very important to understand. The unforgivable sin means attributing to Satan the work that the Holy Spirit accomplishes. Thus the "unforgivable sin" is deliberate and ongoing rejection of the Holy Spirit's work and even of God himself. A person who has committed this sin has shut himself or herself off from God so thoroughly that he or she is unaware of any sin at all. John refers to this as the sin unto death (1 John 5:16). (See also Life Application Commentary discussion of Hebrews 6:4-6.) A person who fears having committed this sin shows by his or her very concern that he or she has not sinned in this way. (Life Application Bible Commentary – Luke)

NET Note on blasphemes against the Spirit - Blasphemy against the Holy Spirit probably refers to a total rejection of the testimony that the Spirit gives to Jesus and the plan of God. This is not so much a sin of the moment as of one's entire life, an obstinate rejection of God's message and testimony.

R C H Lenski - this sin cannot be pardoned because it shuts out the very possibility of repentance. Other sins and other blasphemies do not render repentance impossible. It is the Spirit who works repentance, and to blaspheme him bars out him and his work. The point to be noted, however, is that, as far as the symptom of blasphemy is concerned, this need not name the Spirit in its vicious utterance, it may name only Jesus and yet be against the Spirit.We are unable to judge which blasphemer has gone too far and placed himself beyond remission already in this life; all we can say is that he who fears that he has committed this sin by that very fear furnishes evidence that he has not done so. This sin cannot be committed inadvertently or unconsciously. Its commission is possible only where the Spirit has come upon a man through the Word and has been recognized as God's Spirit with his divine grace and power to save. When a man deliberately answers him with blasphemy he puts himself forever beyond the Spirit's reach, into the unalterable condition of the devils and of the damned in hell. This sin thus constitutes his character indelebilis. (The Interpretation of St. Luke's Gospel)

Guzik writes "Some people – as a joke or a dare – intentionally say words they suppose commit the sin of blasphemy against the Spirit. They think it a light thing to joke with eternity. Yet true blasphemy against the Spirit is more than a formula of words; it is a settled disposition of life that rejects the testimony of the Holy Spirit regarding Jesus. Even if someone has intentionally said such things, they can still repent and prevent a settled rejection of Jesus. The blasphemy of the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven – not because it is a sin too big for God to forgive, but because it is an attitude of heart that cares nothing for God’s forgiveness. It never has forgiveness because it never wants forgiveness God’s way. It may want forgiveness on its own terms, but never God’s way.. The way to not blaspheme the Holy Spirit is to receive Jesus Christ, and to put one’s loving trust upon Him today. It means to stop rejecting the work of the Holy Spirit in bringing us to Jesus. (Luke 12 Commentary)

R Kent Hughes comments that "those who blaspheme the Holy Spirit by attributing his work and witness to Satan are damned. This blasphemy is not so much a matter of blasphemous language but of a conscious, persistent, wicked rejection of the Spirit's witness. It is a setting of the mind against the Spirit of God. (Preaching the Word – Luke, Volume II: That You May Know the Truth)

Wycliffe Bible Commentary. - The slander against the Holy Spirit is irremediable because it cuts a man off from the only power that can change his inner life. The Holy Spirit is God's messenger to men, on whom believers are dependent for their knowledge of the reality of God's truth.

Moody Bible Commentary on blasphemes against the Spirit -  This appears to be a case of willfully denying the revealed truth about Christ—that is, unbelief. A "permanent rejection" (cf. Bock, Luke, 1143) of the Spirit revealed truth will not be—indeed cannot be—forgiven.

J Vernon McGee - When a man blasphemes with his mouth, that is not the thing that condemns him; it is the attitude of his heart. Blasphemy against the Holy Spirit is to resist His convicting work in the heart and life. This is a permanent condition -- unless he stops resisting. (Thru The Bible with J. Vernon McGee)

What the Bible Teaches - As Christians we almost always use blasphemy as taking the Lord's name in vain, but there is a distinct difference between the two expressions, "speak a word against the Son of man" and "blasphemeth against the Holy Ghost". The usual significance of "blasphemy" in the epistles is not the use of swear words (1 Tim 1:20; 6:1; 2 Pet 2:2) but is a denial of the faith. This blasphemy against the Holy Spirit is not idle words at all, but a denial of the Spirit's testimony to the Lord Jesus. Apart from accepting the testimony of the Spirit there can be no new birth (John 3:5-7), so a person who rejects His testimony "lies under the guilt of an everlasting sin" (Mark 3:29 JND). (What the Bible teaches – Luke)

Wesleyan Bible Commentary -  The unforgivable sin is sin against the Holy Spirit. Matthew's record places this statement immediately following the Pharisees' declaration that Jesus cast out demons by the power of Beelzebub (Matt. 12:31), which suggests that the sin of which Jesus spoke is that of seeing the work of God and declaring it to be the work of the devil. The work of the Holy Spirit is to convict us of sin, convince us of truth, connect us with Christ's atonement, and confirm our relationship with God (John 16:8-13). If we defy the work of the Holy Spirit, we have no access to the source of forgiveness. The only unforgivable sin is the sin that will not respond to the Spirit that would lead to forgiveness.There is great danger in deadening the voice of the Spirit by constant and consistent denial, in blurring the line between good and evil so that you are no longer sensitive toward either, and in ridiculing the redemptive work of Christ until it is no longer believed to be either necessary or effective. It is possible to push yourself beyond the reach of God and be without Christ and without hope. (Wesleyan Bible Commentary – Luke)

Welwyn Commentary Series -  But what is the blasphemy against the Holy Spirit which will not be forgiven? (12:10). Every sin of a believer is forgiven even though he or she might on occasion speak against the Lord. But those who continually make up their minds to pay no attention to the prompting of the Spirit have placed themselves on the road that leads to perdition. Hendriksen says, 'The blasphemy against the Spirit is the result of a gradual progress in sin. Grieving the Spirit (Eph. 4:30), if unrepented of, leads to resisting the Spirit (Acts 7:51), which, if persisted in, develops into quenching the Spirit (1 Thess. 5:19). The true solution is found in Ps. 95:7-8, "Today if you would listen to his voice, harden not your hearts." 'When we trust God, though faith in Christ and reliance upon the Holy Spirit, we will not need to fear anyone, or worry about saying the right thing. The Holy Spirit will teach us and lead us into saying and doing what is correct (Lk 12:12). (Welwyn Commentary Series – Saving a fallen world: Luke simply explained)

William Barclay - Why is that the unforgivable sin? Because in such a state repentance is impossible. If people do not even realize that they are sinning, if goodness no longer makes any appeal to them, they cannot repent. God has not shut them out; by their repeated refusals they have shut themselves out. That means that the very people who can never have committed unforgivable sins are those who fear that they have, for once people have committed it, they are so dead to God that they are conscious of no sin at all. (The New Daily Study Bible – The Gospel of Luke)

The MacArthur Bible Commentary. - This was not a sin of ignorance, but a deliberate, willful, settled hostility toward Christ—exemplified by the Pharisees in Matthew 12, who attributed to Satan the work of Christ (cf. Lk 11:15).

Warren Wiersbe - The "blasphemy against the Holy Spirit"  has special reference to the Jewish nation that was rejecting the evidence Jesus gave them of who He was and what they needed to do. When they refused the ministry of John the Baptist, they rejected God the Father who sent John; but there was still the witness of the Son. When they rejected Jesus, He prayed for them (Luke 23:34). They still had the witness of the Spirit (Acts 1:8). When they rejected the witness of the Spirit through the church (Acts 2-7), they sinned against the Holy Spirit (Acts 7:51), and there was no further witness left! (Wiersbe's Expository Outlines on the New Testament)

The Reformation Study Bible. - Blasphemy against the Holy Spirit attributes to Satan the work of the Holy Spirit through Christ in the face of overwhelming moral evidence to the contrary. Such deliberate rejection of the truth is a decisive rejection of the One (the Holy Spirit) who can bring a person to repentance and faith; such sin makes forgiveness impossible.

Nolland said blasphemy against the Spirit is “the denial or rejection of the manifest saving intervention of God on behalf of his People.... The one who hardens himself or herself against what God is doing as he acts to save places himself or herself beyond the reach of God’s present disposition of eschatological forgiveness.”

Word Biblical Commentary - Lövestam (Spiritus blasphemia) has shown how the language of blasphemy/speaking against the Holy Spirit is a natural development from the ot and later Jewish reflection on the failure of the Israelites at the time of the Exodus from Egypt (on the Spirit, see Esp. Isa 63:10 and perhaps Ps 106:32–33). What is in view is not a matter of blasphemous speech, but rather the denial or rejection of the manifest saving intervention of God on behalf of his People (the use of Holy Spirit here is akin to that of “finger of God” in 11:20 [Cf. Lövestam, Spiritus blasphemia, 35–43). The one who hardens himself or herself against what God is doing as he acts to save places himself or herself beyond the reach of God’s present disposition of eschatological forgiveness.....The slander against the Holy Spirit is irremediable because it cuts a man off from the only power that can change his inner life. The Holy Spirit is God's messenger to men, on whom believers are dependent for their knowledge of the reality of God's truth.... not (yet) believing is forgivable, but apostasy, where the known experience of salvation through the Spirit is repudiated, is not (thus the contrasting of the mild “says a word against” with the forceful “blasphemes”). (Word Biblical Commentary – Luke: Volumes 35a, 35b, 35c)

The Bible Speaks Today - There are certain things which even God finds impossible. When we understand that, we begin to understand the nature of this sin which he cannot forgive. For it is impossible for him to lie, or to deny himself, or to contradict himself, and nothing that he has made (including man) can be at one and the same time both Thus and Not-Thus; which means, among other things, that if we will not be forgiven, then, in this rational world of his, it is a mere nonsense to say that we will be forgiven. It is impossible therefore for God to forgive one who says, ‘I will not listen to the Spirit when he brings me the message of forgiveness.’ It is impossible for him to save one who says, ‘I will not follow the Spirit when he points me to the Saviour.’ It is impossible to revolutionize one who says, ‘I will not have the Spirit revolutionizing me’. That is the ultimate blasphemy; and against that not even God can do anything. The man who is determined to go to hell will certainly get there. The readers of Luke’s Gospel are thus warned against the unforgivable sin. The Spirit comes to revolutionize their lives, offering salvation in the person of the Saviour Jesus; let them not refuse. He comes to transform their lives into the image of Jesus; let them not refuse that either—for refusal is the blasphemy against the Spirit, and can never be forgiven. (The Message of Luke: The Saviour of the World)

Hendriksen - The essence of the sin against the Holy Spirit can be condensed into just one word— impenitenceIf anyone is truly sorry for his sins, he cannot at the same time be guilty of "the sin against the Holy Spirit," "the unpardonable sin," for true sorrow is the work and fruit of the Holy Spirit, and shows that this Spirit is dwelling in the heart of that penitent. (Ibid)

Related Resources:

Steven Cole - Verse Lu 12:10 has caused a lot of confusion and anxiety! They are scary words! Many people worry that perhaps they have committed the unpardonable sin. Jesus states that if a person speaks a word against the Son of Man, it will be forgiven him, but that the person who blasphemes the Holy Spirit shall not be forgiven. What did He mean?

First, it is helpful to consider what Jesus did not mean. Clearly, He did not mean that a person, whether a pagan or a professing Christian, who utters a word of blasphemy in a moment of temptation is forever beyond the reach of God’s grace. Peter horribly denied Christ and yet was restored. Paul says that he formerly was a blasphemer, yet he was shown mercy (1Ti 1:13). When Jesus drew a distinction between speaking a word against the Son of Man and a word against the Holy Spirit, He did not mean that somehow the Son of Man is not on the same level as the Spirit. The verse just before shows that if a person denies Christ, that person will be denied at the judgment. Rather, He was drawing a distinction between the level of the offense.

The ministry of the Holy Spirit is to bear witness to Jesus Christ (Jn 15:26) by convicting the world of sin, righteousness, and judgment (Jn 16:8). During Jesus’ life on earth, the Holy Spirit bore witness especially through the miracles that Christ performed. The Jewish leaders, however, attributed those miracles to the power of Satan, not to the power of the Holy Spirit (Mk 3:22-30). This was the unpardonable sin, because these leaders had sufficient evidence from the Spirit that Jesus was the Messiah, yet they hardened their hearts against Him. This was not a case of men attributing Jesus’ miracles to Satan on any one occasion, but rather of men who set their whole lives and hearts against the witness of the Spirit to Jesus Christ. To turn away from the light God gives results in a searing of the conscience and hardening of the heart that has no remedy. Such a person has no capacity to repent.

Can this sin be committed today? Some argue that since it specifically involved attributing Jesus’ miracles to Satan, it could only be committed during His life on earth. But it seems to me that the warnings of Scripture are applicable today, even if the exact sense cannot be duplicated. In other words, a person today can repeatedly turn his heart away from the witness of the Holy Spirit to Jesus Christ until he reaches a point where he is hardened beyond remedy. God only knows when a person crosses that line, but the point is, unbelief is nothing to fool around with. If the Holy Spirit has been convicting a person of sin, righteousness, and judgment, and has been showing the person that Jesus Christ is God’s anointed Savior, but the person rejects that witness, then he is on the path toward the unpardonable sin. He is in grave danger that God will withdraw the light he has been given and he will be hardened in unbelief. That is the unpardonable sin.

So the lesson for us is, if the Spirit of God is tugging on your heart, do not resist Him! If He is drawing you toward Jesus Christ, but the lure of sin is drawing you the other direction, yield to Jesus Christ! Otherwise, you may cross the line and your time of opportunity will be lost forever!

Thus Jesus’ words here show us that we must beware of hypocrisy because we will stand before God for eternal judgment. (Confessing or Denying Christ)

ILLUSTRATION OF A MAN WHO COMMITTED THE UNPARDONABLE SIN - The famous (infamous) French philosopher (infidel) Voltaire (note - interestingly this reference has no record of his horrible last days!) is a tragic example of a "brilliant fool"...

An aristocratic woman who was old and blind wrote to Voltaire in the hopes that he could dispel her pessimistic view of life and offer some comfort. He replied, "I think we [human beings] are indeed contemptible creatures.... I exhort you to enjoy as much as you can life, which isn't much" (Norman L. Torrey, The Spirit of Voltaire [N.Y.: Columbia University, 1938, p. 216).

Voltaire once made a despicable, desecrating execration against our precious Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ (a quote I hesitate to even record because it is so heinous, and yet it so dramatically depicts the depths to which a man's depravity can plummet when he begins to suppress the truth of God in order to justify his unrighteous behavior!). Voltaire said..."Curse the wretch!" (And yet despite this horrible blasphemy, Voltaire could have been forgiven had he not persisted in resisting the Holy Spirit - see Mt 12:32+. How amazing is God's forgiveness and grace!!!).

In the midst of that period of intellectual history called The "Enlightenment" (Ed: In regard to what transpired during this time regarding Christianity and the Holy Word, what a sad oxymoron - the "age of reason" gave birth in fact to the "age of fools"!), a philosophy known as deism (note) was sweeping Europe. In the midst of this development, the famous skeptic, Voltaire, proclaimed that within 50 years, the Bible would be forgotten and Christianity would be a thing of the past. Voltaire wrote..."I’ll show how just one Frenchman can destroy it within 50 years.In twenty years Christianity will be no more. My single hand shall destroy the edifice it took twelve apostles to rear."

However, ironically some 20 years after Voltaire’s death in 1778, the Geneva Bible Society purchased his house for printing the Bible and other Christian literature! And it later became the Paris headquarters for the British and Foreign Bible Society. The Bible is still a best-seller; an entire 6-volume set of Voltaire’s works was once sold for 90¢ (Ed: "Methinks God has a sense of humor"!). Voltaire claimed to be a believer in God, but it was a "God" of his own imagination and not of the Holy Scriptures, for Voltaire clearly rejected the God of Holy Writ even to the point of ridiculing the idea of life after death. (Ed: Like the Russian cosmonaut who said something like this - "I went into space and I did not see Him!" Wrong! Had he opened his cockpit and stepped out into eternity, he would have met Him. And so did Voltaire when he breathed his last breath, even that breath being a gift from the God he despised, derided and decried!) On his deathbed Voltaire had some of his most intelligent revelations as he began to doubt his doubts! Would many skeptics follow his suit, but do so long before they draw their last breath! Voltaire apparently began to question (this time correctly) whether there might in fact be a heaven and a hell after all is said and done. He was indeed wise in one regard, for he clearly understood what would be his "eternal address". Just before his death, the noted atheist swore "I wish I had never been born!"

Voltaire, on his deathbed, addressed his apparently Christian physician Trochim..."I am abandoned by God and man. I will give you half of what I am worth, if you will give me six months’ life." The doctor replied "Sir, you cannot live six weeks." Voltaire replied "Then I shall go to hell, and you will go with me." And so, as almost his last utterance, he cried out, "I am abandoned by God and man! I shall go to hell! O Christ! O Jesus Christ!" 

Apparently not long after the preceding declarations Voltaire breathed his last. The nurse who attended Voltaire on his deathbed said "For all the wealth in Europe I would not see another infidel die." 

What a tragic mixed up life Voltaire led as inferred from quotes during his life

  • If God did not exist, it would be necessary to invent Him...The world embarrasses me, and I cannot think that this watch exists and has no watchmaker.
  • To one who claimed to have gotten rid of hell, Voltaire replied "I congratulate you, for I have not been able to do that myself."
  • Voltaire, true to the spirit of skepticism, said "Now look at the mighty mind of Newton, who discovered gravitation; when he began to study the Book called the Bible, it seems in order to credit its fabulous nonsense, he believed that the knowledge of mankind will be so increased that we shall be able to travel fifty miles an hour! The poor dotard!" 

Today even a skeptic should be able to look at Voltaire's life and his philosophy and say "Newton was a wise philosopher; Voltaire a poor old dotard. (The foolishness of God is wiser than man)." 

Voltaire is reported to have said "If a miracle occurred in the market place of Paris and in the presence of two thousand men, I would rather disbelieve my own eyes than the two thousand." (IS THAT NOT SIMILAR TO WHAT THE PHARISEES SAID WHEN THEY WITNESSED JESUS' MIRACLES?) 

It is sad but true that no matter how many facts (truths) we present to skeptics/agnostics (I don't believe men can be atheists in the truest sense, because that would require that they have all knowledge, including the knowledge that there is no supreme being. And since they are not omniscient, they cannot in truth know with absolute certainty that there is no God. Upshot? Know God!) are not sufficient to bring a man to Christ (cp 1 Cor 2:4, 5), for only God's Spirit can do that (Jn 3:5, 6, 7, 8+, Jn 6:63, 8:24). And yet we should not grow weary in proclaiming the truth of the gospel (2Ti 2:9, 10+), for we do not know which of the hearers will receive the Word implanted which will save their soul from eternal separation (2Th 1:9, Mt 25:41, cp the first "separation" Ge 3:8+, Mt 7:21, 22, 23+; Mt 22:13, cp Re 6:16+) from their Creator (Jas 1:18+; , Jas 1:21+ ; Ro 1:16+ -- see the power of the Gospel in Col 1:5, 6+;cp 1 Cor 1:17,18, 2:1, 2, 3, 4, 5, Acts 6:7+, Acts 12:24+, Acts 19:20+, 1Th 2:13+)

Peter McKenzie, the famous Methodist preacher, was being shown over Madame Tussaud’s Waxworks in London. Coming to one object, his guide said "This is the chair in which Voltaire sat and wrote his atheistic blasphemies." To which McKenzie replied..."Is that the chair?"  Then, Peter McKenzie, without seeking permission, he stepped over the cord, sat down on the chair, and sang as only a real believer could

Jesus shall reign where’er the sun
Doth His successive journeys run;
His kingdom stretch from shore to shore
Till moons shall wax and wane no more.
(Take a moment of respite and worship at His throne by singing this great Hymn to Him)

The Christian physician Trochim who attended Voltaire during the last illness gave the following testimony in a letter to a friend "When I compare the death of a righteous man, which is like the close of a beautiful day, with that of Voltaire, I see the difference between bright, serene weather and a black thunderstorm. It was my lot that this man should die under my hands. Often did I tell him the truth.’Yes, my friend,’ he would often say to me, ’you are the only one who has given me good advice. Had I but followed it I would not be in the horrible condition in which I now am. I have swallowed nothing but smoke. I have intoxicated myself with the incense that turned my head. You can do nothing for me. Send me a mad doctor! Have compassion on me-I am mad!’

Trochim went on to say "I cannot think of it without shuddering. As soon as he saw that all the means he had employed to increase his strength had just the opposite effect, death was constantly before his eyes. From this moment, madness took possession of his soul. He expired under the torments of the furies. (Ed: May this tragic story of a "brilliant" man, motivate us to speak forth the gospel of Christ boldly to those who are in danger today of stepping into a Christless eternity. Amen) I cannot help but pause after writing these somber notes on Voltaire and be reminded of Paul's great truth that even the intractably rebellious infidel Voltaire will one day bow before the precious Lamb of God and proclaim that Jesus is Lord...

Therefore also God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus EVERY KNEE SHOULD BOW, of those who are in heaven, and on earth, and under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Amen!) (Php 2:9, 10, 11+)

Luke 12:11  "When they bring you before the synagogues and the rulers and the authorities, do not worry about how or what you are to speak in your defense, or what you are to say;

KJV Luke 12:11 And when they bring you unto the synagogues, and unto magistrates, and powers, take ye no thought how or what thing ye shall answer, or what ye shall say:


When they bring you before the synagogues - This points first to a persecution from the Jews. Jesus is warning His disciples of persecution and not from the lay folks but from religious folks! That has not changed much has it? Some of the most painful and intense persecutions I have received for the cause of Christ over the past 30 plus years have come from folks IN the church! Doubtless, many of you can identify with this sad truth! Notice Jesus says WHEN, not IF! This is going to happen, but it is just a matter of WHEN it happens. He wants us adhere to the "Boy Scout" motto - "BE PREPARED." The synagogue is seen in a negative sense in Matt. 23:34; 10:17, Mark 13:9, Luke 21:12. 

Bock - The remark is an important one about relying on God during persecution and is the type of statement that would have been repeated. In fact, Luke 21:14–15 has a similar saying in his version of the eschatological discourse. (Ibid)

Synagogues (4864)(sunagoge from sunágo = lead together, assemble or bring together) refers to a group of people “going with one another” (sunago) literally describes a bringing together or congregating in one place. Eventually, sunagoge came to mean the place where they congregated together. The word was used to designate the buildings other than the central Jewish temple where the Jews congregated for worship. Historically, the Synagogues originated in the Babylonian captivity after the 586 BC destruction of the temple by Nebuchadnezzar and served as places of worship and instruction. Sunagoge was the name of a group "Synagogue of the Freedmen" (Acts 6:9).

Jewish synagogues could function as court, schools and of course a place of worship.

NET Note on the rulers and the authorities - The saying looks at persecution both from a Jewish context as the mention of synagogues suggests, and from a Gentile one as the reference to the rulers and the authorities suggests.

Corrie Ten Boom offered a great prescription for anxiety, worry and fretting...

Look around and be distressed.
Look inside and be depressed.
Look at Jesus and be at rest.

Hendriksen - “Do not worry,” that is, “Whenever worry raises its head, knock it down at once.” Reason: in that very hour the Holy Spirit will teach you what to say. (Ibid)

Do not worry (aorist active subjunctive - functions like an imperative) (3309) (merimnao from merimna = anxious care from meris = part, in turn from [Sources: Vine's Expository Dictionary, Ralph Earle - Word Meanings in the NT] the verb merizo = to distract, to divide, to draw different directions - which is exactly what anxiety does to most of us!) expresses a strong feeling for something or someone, often to the point of being burdened. Although this can be a "positive" concern, in most of the NT uses it refers to an anxious concern, based on apprehension about possible danger or misfortune, and so it means to be worried about, to be anxious about, to be apprehensive (viewing the future with anxiety or alarm), to be unduly concerned, to be burdened with anxious care or cumbered with many cares and in simple terms to worry.

Luke uses on merimnao four times in this chapter. Jesus wants His disciples prepared and He knows that worrying can lead to wavering! - Lk 12:11, 22, 25, 26 (and one other use by Luke in Luke 10:41-note in His address to Martha)

Related Resource:

It should be noted that most translations render merimnao in one of two ways -- "be anxious" and "be worried". Indeed many English dictionaries will define anxiety as worry and vice versa. With that in mind here is a summary of English dictionary definitions of each word (as well as the related verb "fret")...

Anxious: Characterized by extreme uneasiness of mind or brooding fear about some contingency (Webster, modern). Worried and tense because of possible misfortune, danger, etc. (Collins) Experiencing worry, nervousness, or unease. (Oxford) Concern or solicitude respecting some event, future or uncertain, which disturbs the mind, and keeps it in a state of painful uneasiness. it expresses more than uneasiness or disturbance, and even more than trouble or solicitude. it usually springs from fear or serious apprehension of evil, and involves a suspense respecting an event, and often, a perplexity of mind, to know how to shape our conduct. (Webster, 1828) A state of restlessness and agitation, often with general indisposition and a distressing sense of oppression at the epigastrium. (Webster, 1913)

Worry: feel or cause to feel troubled over actual or potential difficulties. Expressing anxiety. (Concise Oxford). To choke or strangle - to harass by tearing, biting, or snapping especially at the throat. Mental distress or agitation resulting from concern usually for something impending or anticipated. Worry suggests fretting over matters that may or may not be real cause for anxiety (Webster) To be or cause to be anxious or uneasy, esp. about something uncertain or potentially dangerous. To disturb the peace of mind of (Collins)

Fret: (See David's antidote for fretting) The etymology like that of "worry" (below) is fascinating and gives us an incredible "word picture" of the potential effect of fretting. Fret is from Middle English = to devour, fret (In turn from Old English fretan to devour; akin to Old High German frezzan = to devour, ezzan = to eat) Fret means to eat or gnaw into and figuratively to cause to suffer emotional strain, causing one to become vexed or worried. Fret describes running water = to become agitated or disturbed. To rub; to wear away a substance by friction. "Temporal prosperity is too small a matter to be worth fretting about" (Spurgeon)

Speak in you defense (626)(apologeomai from apo = from + logos = speech; English = "apologetics") literally means, “to talk one’s self off from" and thus to speak in one's own defense, defend oneself. BDAG - "to speak in one’s own defense against charges presumed to be false," Apologia was a technical word used in the Greek law courts and was used of an attorney who talked his client off from a charge preferred against him. In short it refers to a speech given in defense.

What you are to say - How easy it is to fall prey to worrying over what we will say or how we will defend ourselves. I have had personal experience being called before a group of church leaders at a Baptist church who leveled a charge against me that literally floored me = "You are teaching the Word of God too much! You place too much emphasis on the Word!" I'm paraphrasing because I was so stunned, that I could not really process what they were saying. But here is the point -- God literally shut my mouth. I did not react. I did not defend. I did not say anything to refute their clearly outrageous charges. I can only credit the power of the Spirit for "teaching me in that hour" (the meeting lasted about one hour) and His teaching was don't pay back evil to evil to anyone. 

Moses was worried about what he would say so God responded and unfortunately Moses still did not receive His word (cf Ex 4:13-14)

Then Moses said to the LORD, “Please, Lord, I have never been eloquent, neither recently nor in time past, nor since You have spoken to Your servant; for I am slow of speech and slow of tongue.” The LORD said to him, “Who has made man’s mouth? Or who makes him mute or deaf, or seeing or blind? Is it not I, the LORD? Now then go, and I, even I, will be with your mouth, and teach you what you are to say.”  (Ex 4:10-12)

Luke 12:12  for the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say."

KJV Luke 12:12 For the Holy Ghost shall teach you in the same hour what ye ought to say.


Forterm of explanation - explaining why there is no need to defend yourself or conger up eloquent arguments to support your case.  What a striking contrast with the danger of speaking AGAINST the Spirit (Lk 12:10), for here the Spirit speaks to them and they will speak through Him! Matthew and Mark state that it is actually the Holy Spirit Who speaks through the disciples...

Matthew 10:20 For it is not you who speak, but it is the Spirit of your Father Who speaks in you. 

Mark 13:11 When they arrest you and hand you over, do not worry beforehand about what you are to say, but say whatever is given you in that hour; for it is not you who speak, but it is the Holy Spirit.

And not only will the Spirit speak to and through us but Jesus promises "I will give you utterance and wisdom which none of your opponents will be able to resist or refute." (Lk 21:14,15)

The Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour - "The Holy Spirit will work within you in such an effective manner, illumining the mind and sharpening the power of speech, that you will know exactly what to say." (Hendriksen) This clearly calls for us to trust God to provide the words when the words are needed and not before. There is a similar promise by Jesus in John

But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you. (John 14:26)

We see these promises being fulfilled in Acts

Acts 4:8 Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, “Rulers and elders of the people, (Read Acts 4:8-12, 19, 20)

Acts 4:31 And when they had prayed, the place where they had gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and began to speak the word of God with boldness.

Acts 6:10 But they were unable to cope with the wisdom and the Spirit with which he was speaking.

Acts 16:6 (NEGATIVE BUT STILL EXAMPLE OF SPIRIT'S ENABLEMENT) And they passed through the Phrygian and Galatian region, having been forbidden by the Holy Spirit to speak the word in Asia;

See also answers of Paul (Acts 21:39–22:21; 23:1, 6; 24:10–21; 26:1–23).

Leon Morris - Jesus is concerned with the duty that rests compellingly on believers even in such a time of danger. He is not telling them how to secure acquittal. He is telling them how they may best serve God in their trying situation. The Spirit will inspire them with such a defence that through it the gospel will be proclaimed and God’s purposes be set forward.  (TNTC-Luke)

Spurgeon - I have often been amazed and delighted with the remarkable answers which were given to bishops and priests by poor humble men and women who were on trial for their lives. Perhaps you remember that Anne Askew was asked, in order to entangle her in her speech, “What would become of a mouse if it ate the bread of the holy sacrament? “She said that was too deep a question for a poor woman like her to answer, and she begged the learned bishop on the bench to tell her what would become of the mouse; to which his lordship answered that it would be damned. Now, what reply could be given to that but the one Anne Askew gave, “Alack, poor mouse!” I do not know that anything better could have been said; and, on other occasions, there have been answers which have been deeply theological, and there have been some which have been wisely evasive and, also some full of weight, and others full of grace and truth, for the Holy Ghost has helped his saints, in time of persecution, to answer well those who have accused them. He has often done this. If you will read, in Foxe’s Book of Martyrs, the answers given even by unlearned, illiterate men and women, who were taken quite at unawares, and assailed by subtle questions, you will see that they often answered in a remarkably wise way. They could not have answered better if the questions had been before them for months. They frequently burned their cunning adversaries by their wisdom and sometimes by their wit, for the Holy Ghost taught them in the same hour what they ought to speak.

Will teach (1321)(didasko from dáo= know or teach; English = didactic; see study of related noun didaskalia and the adjective didaktikos) means to provide instruction or information in a formal or informal setting. To be taught by the Spirit, we must make the (Spirit enabled) choice to set aside your human reasons (initiated by our flesh). 

Didasko is used of the teaching ministry of the Holy Spirit in John 14:26 and 1 John 2:27-note

Bock - God’s care for disciples was mentioned in Luke 12:6–7. Here Jesus specifies an aspect of that care: God will provide the Spirit to help them answer their accusers. The answer will come immediately....To those who depend on God in the hour of testing the Spirit offers aid so that they can confess their faith. Paul makes a similar request for boldness (Eph. 6:18–20; Col. 4:3–4), as does the early church (Acts 4:24–30). (Ibid)

Guzik makes a good point that Jesus' promise " isn’t a justification of poor preparation in teaching and preaching God’s Word, but it is a promise of strength and guidance for the persecuted that have an opportunity to testify of Jesus."

In that very hour - His grace is sufficient and is provided when it is needed. At the moment of need, then and not before, you will know what to say. This may entail waiting on (and trusting in) the Lord as Isaiah says 

Yet those who wait for the LORD Will gain new strength; They will mount up with wings like eagles, They will run and not get tired, They will walk and not become weary. (Isaiah 40:31-note)

Ought  (better = "Must" or "what is necessary to say")(1163) (dei from deo = to bind or tie objects together, put in prison and also root of doulos, bond-servant) refers to what is not optional but needful (binding) out of intrinsic necessity or inevitability. Dei refers to inward constraint which is why it is often translated "must". Dei describes that which is under the necessity of happening or which must necessarily take place, and as stated above, conveys a sense of inevitability. To express the sense of necessity dei is translated "one ought", "one should", "one has to" or "one must".

“Alice Driver, martyr, at her examination, put all the doctors to silence, so that they had not a word to say, but looked upon another. Then she said, Have ye no more to say? God be honored; you be not able to resist the Spirit of God in me, a poor woman … So the chancellor condemned her, and she returned to the prison as joyful as the bird of the day.” (Trapp) She was burned at the stake two weeks before the end of Queen Mary’s reign (Bloody Mary).

ILLUSTRATION - When we look at the life of Martin Luther, we find that the Lord helped him in a time of danger and oppression. When Martin Luther first stood before the Diet at Worms, John Eck, the Archbishop of Trier, asked him, "Martin Luther, do you recant of the heresies in your writings?... Do you defend them all, or do you care to reject a part?" Martin gave the quiet answer, "This touches God and His Word. This affects the salvation of souls. Of this Christ said, 'He who denies me before men, him will I deny before the Father.' To say too little or too much would be dangerous. I beg you, give me time to think it over." Luther asked for twenty-four hours to consider the situation he was facing in his life. John Eck and the whole assembly were amazed. How could the supreme intellectual leader of this movement ask for more time to think? Was he succumbing to fear? What was going on in this man's heart? That night Luther and his colleagues passionately called out to God in prayer. With the rising of the sun, another, larger hall was chosen, and it was so crowded that scarcely anyone except the emperor could sit. John Eck spoke long and eloquently in the flickering candlelight, concluding, "I ask you, Martin, answer candidly and without horns, do you or do you not repudiate your books and the errors which they contain?" Luther spoke, and his voice rang. He spoke first in German and then in Latin: "Since then your Majesty and your lordships desire a simple reply, I will, answer without horns and without teeth. Unless I am convicted by Scripture and plain reason, I do not accept the authority of popes and councils, for they have contradicted each other. My conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot and I will not recant anything, for to go against conscience is neither right nor safe. God help me. Amen." (See Christian History article; See also Blog by John MacArthur - A Conscience Captive to God's Word) At that towering moment Luther's massive fear of God freed him from the smaller fear of men! (Pr 29:25) Let me ask, "Are your fears keeping you from serving the Lord or standing up for Him?" If so, it does not have to be this way. Spend time with the Lord in prayer and His Word and you will find the encouragement and strength you need to live for Him. (Rod Mattoon)

Luke 12:13  Someone in the crowd said to Him, "Teacher, tell my brother to divide the family inheritance with me."

KJV Luke 12:13 And one of the company said unto him, Master, speak to my brother, that he divide the inheritance with me.

NET Then someone from the crowd said to him, "Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me."


Rod Mattoon sets the context - Jesus has been giving His disciples instructions and warnings about matters that the disciples will need to deal with in their lives if they are going to be effective servants of Christ. He has dealt with three key areas so far:

  • The Issue of Fraudulent behavior or Hypocrisy 
  • The Issue of Faithfulness in Professing Christ 
  • The Issue of the Fear of people 
  • Next... The Issue of Finances and the Fervor for Material Things 

Someone in the crowd said to Him - The NAS does not translate the Greek de, which  the NET Bible translates as then which helps "indicate the implied sequence of events within the narrative."

Spurgeon - Our Lord kept to his proper business, which was the preaching of the gospel and the healing of the sick. We find, in these days, that the minister of the gospel is asked to do almost everything. He must be a politician; he must be a social reformer; he must be I know not what. For my part, I often feel as if I could answer, “Who made me to do anything of the kind? If I can preach the gospel, I shall have done well if I do that to the glory of God, and to the salvation of men. Surely there are enough people to be judges and dividers, there are quite sufficient politicians to attend to politics, and plenty of men who feel themselves qualified to direct social reforms. Some of us may be spared to attend to spiritual affairs.”

Hendriksen - Jesus has been emphasizing the folly of worry. He has been saying, "Are not five sparrows sold for two cents? Yet not one of them is forgotten in God's sight.... Have no fear; y o u are of more value than any number of sparrows." One would think that in view of such words of encouragement the reaction of everyone would be, "How rich we are!" Upon one listener, however, the words of Jesus seem to have made no impression whatever. Someone has said, "When there is an inheritance 99 percent of the people become wolves." The person who made this request could think of only one thing: the inheritance! He was convinced that he was being cheated.

Teacher, tell my brother to divide the family inheritance with me - The way this is stated indicates the other brother possesses the inheritance and this brother wants a portion of the possession. Given that Jesus' "reply" (which was really a question in Lk 12:14) led to a discourse on greed, it is very likely that the underlying motive for this somewhat abrupt question was greed or covetousness. According to the law of the day, the elder brother received two-thirds of the inheritance and the younger brother received one-third

Leon Morris - His brother was clearly in possession and he wanted Jesus to persuade him to disgorge. He does not ask Jesus to decide on the merits of two claims: he asks for a decision in his own favour. He seems to be acting unilaterally for nothing indicates that the brother had agreed to have Jesus try the case. The man is taking Jesus as a typical rabbi, for the rabbis customarily gave decisions on disputed points of law. Jesus, however, refused to have anything to do with it. (TNTC-Luke)

Teacher (1320) See didaskalos, "a title that shows people view him as a respected rabbi. A rabbi would often settle such disputes about inheritance because the regulations on them appear in the Pentateuch and the rabbi interpreted Torah (Deut. 21:15–17; Num. 27:1–11; 36:7–9)(Bock)

Brother (80) See adelphos

Divide (3307)(merizo from meris = a part) means to divide, part, share, separate. To make an allotment (distribute, deal out, assign, apportion He 7:2, 2 Cor 10:13, Ro 12:3)

An interesting (telling) figurative use of merizo is found in Hosea 10:2 "their heart is faithless (Hebrew = slippery, smooth" - TWOT says "Their heart is divided" (Hos 10:2KJV) is better taken as "is false" (RSV) that is, figurative of the fickle heart."). Here merizo translates the Hebrew  word chalaq (smooth) with merizo, to picture their heart as divide. Contrast the prayer in Ps 86:22 "unite my heart" (Give me an undivided heart).

Friberg - divide, separate; (1) as separating into component parts divide (Mt 12.25); (2) as apportioning out something to someone distribute, divide out, assign ( Ro 12.3), opposite sunago (gather); middle share with someone (Lk 12.13)

Gilbrant - The primary meaning of merizō is “to divide.” The suffix, -izō, involves the idea of causation, i.e., “to cause or make a division.” A secondary meaning of merizō is “to share something with someone,” such as the distribution of the tithe of produce to the priests or the distribution of parental property to the children. In the Septuagint merizō describes God’s command to divide Canaan among the 12 tribes (Joshua 13:7-27; 14:5). It is also used to describe the distribution of the spoils of battle (1 Sa 30:24) and how God provided “portions” for the priests (Levites) to live on since they had no part of the inherited land (Dt 18:8). In spite of all that God gave, Israel persisted in her unfaithfulness to Him and was punished for her divided heart (Hos 10:2). In addition to the Septuagint, the New Testament uses merizō to show that division may destroy (see Matthew 12:25,26). Thus, there is a moral element in the term. As in the Septuagint, the New Testament uses merizō to describe the spiritual problem of carnal hearts divided by devotion to God and to the world. However, merizō does not contain the judicial or legal aspect of separation as krisis does. Merizō is the most inclusive of its four related terms in the New Testament. It includes a simple separation as well as a violent tearing apart. Merizō and diaireō (1238) can be interchanged in the division and distribution of an estate (Luke 15:12). Two other related words appear to show different ways that division may occur. Aphorizō (866), “to divide by setting boundaries, to exclude someone or something,” and chōrizō (5398), “to divide by separation, divorce, or departure,” clearly are limited in their scope compared with merizō. Schizō (4829), from which the English word schism is derived, consistently involves a harsh or violent means of division.

Merizo - 14x in 13v - allotted(1), apportioned(2), assigned(1), divide(1), divided(9).

Matthew 12:25  And knowing their thoughts Jesus said to them, "Any kingdom divided against itself is laid waste; and any city or house divided against itself will not stand.

Matthew 12:26  "If Satan casts out Satan, he is divided against himself; how then will his kingdom stand?

Mark 3:24  "If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand.

Mark 3:25  "If a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand.

Mark 3:26  "If Satan has risen up against himself and is divided, he cannot stand, but he is finished!

Mark 6:41  And He took the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up toward heaven, He blessed the food and broke the loaves and He kept giving them to the disciples to set before them; and He divided up the two fish among them all.

Luke 12:13  Someone in the crowd said to Him, "Teacher, tell my brother to divide the family inheritance with me."

Romans 12:3  For through the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment, as God has allotted to each a measure of faith.

1 Corinthians 1:13  Has Christ been divided? Paul was not crucified for you, was he? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?

1 Corinthians 7:17  Only, as the Lord has assigned to each one, as God has called each, in this manner let him walk. And so I direct in all the churches.

1 Corinthians 7:34  and his interests are divided. The woman who is unmarried, and the virgin, is concerned about the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and spirit; but one who is married is concerned about the things of the world, how she may please her husband.

2 Corinthians 10:13  But we will not boast beyond our measure, but within the measure of the sphere which God apportioned to us as a measure, to reach even as far as you.

Hebrews 7:2  to whom also Abraham apportioned a tenth part of all the spoils, was first of all, by the translation of his name, king of righteousness, and then also king of Salem, which is king of peace.

Merizo - 25x in 24v in the Septuagint - 

Ex 15:9 = " I will divide the spoil"; Nu 26:53 = "he land shall be divided for an inheritance" Nu 26:55 = "the land shall be divided by lot"; Nu 26:56 = "their inheritance shall be divided between the larger and the smaller"; Dt. 18:8; Dt. 33:21; Jos. 13:7 "apportion this land for an inheritance"; Jos. 14:5 = "they divided the land"; Jos. 18:6; 1 Sa 23:28; 1 Sa 30:24; 1 Ki. 16:21 = "he people of Israel were divided into two parts" 1 Ki. 18:6 = "they divided the land between them to survey it"; Neh. 13:13; Job 31:2; Job 39:17; Prov. 8:21; Prov. 14:18; Prov. 19:14; Prov. 29:24; Isa. 53:12; Jer. 12:14; Jer. 51:34; Dan. 11:4; Hos. 10:2;

MacArthur - This man was indifferent to the profound spiritual truths which the Lord was communicating and eager only to fulfill his own selfish desires. Driven by his crass materialism and growing tired of waiting impatiently for Jesus to finish, he interrupted Him. His request, although inappropriate under the circumstances, was not unusual. By calling Jesus teacher (didaskale) the man acknowledged Him to be a rabbi, and rabbis routinely arbitrated such civil and family disputes. His request that the Lord tell his brother to divide the family inheritance with him suggests that his brother was also present. No details are given about the man’s motives or the legitimacy of his claim under the Old Testament laws of inheritance (cf. Num. 27:1–11; Deut. 21:15–17). In any case, he was not asking Jesus to weigh his claim on its merits, but rather to arbitrarily rule in his favor.

NET Note on Tell my brother - In 1st century Jewish culture, a figure like a rabbi was often asked to mediate disputes, except that here mediation was not requested, but representation. 

Keathley - The law of primogeniture says (Num 27:1-11 Deut 21:15) that the first born gets a double portion. If you had two brothers, you divided the estate three ways and the oldest got two parts. So guess which son this is. He is the youngest son.

If he is asking this, what does that tell us about his father? His dad has just died. That will set us up for a very significant part of the parable.

This shows that he is greedy. From here on we will refer to him as the greedy brother.

The greedy brother is not following the ideal of living in harmony with his brother. Ps 133:1says, “How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity!” I would assume this man knew the Scriptures but did not care. The greedy brother treasured riches more than his relationship with his brother. He did not love people. (Parable of the Rich Fool)

Steven Cole - If I had been Jesus, I probably would have thought, “Where was this guy during my sermon?” The man was consumed with his problem and he had come to try to get Jesus to solve his problem. He wasn’t there to have Jesus change his heart. He wanted his problem fixed without confronting some deeper issues of sin in his life. In his mind, his problem was his greedy brother who wasn’t giving him his fair share of the inheritance. Surely, Jesus would see the injustice of this situation and right the wrong! But instead, the man got something he hadn’t bargained for! Jesus saw that his words revealed his heart. The man’s heart problem was not his brother’s greed, but his own greed. Yes, the brother may have also been greedy, and Jesus’ parable was not just directed to the man, but to “them,” which probably included the brother along with the whole crowd. But this man had his focus on getting what he wanted in this world. Jesus shows him that his true need was to be ready for the next world. So the Lord refused to take the role of judge between the man and his brother. Instead, He showed the man how to be really rich, namely, how to be rich toward God. (How To Be Really Rich)

ILLUSTRATION - A story that my college English professor related to the freshman English class sounded like it had been scripted by Tennessee Williams, but it was her own real-life drama. She and her five sisters had grown up in a small Midwestern town during the Depression where her father, despite the difficulties of the time, rose to become a successful banker. She had gone off to a university, but her sisters stayed close to home, married, and settled down. She likewise married and taught on the West Coast. When her aging father died, she and her husband hurried home for the funeral. As they comforted her poor mother, they noticed in mute amazement that everything in the house had been tagged by the other sisters with their names—Judy’s, Margaret’s, Annie’s. She and her husband were appalled but said nothing. The table was set, and dinner was served amidst mounting tension and awkward conversation. There were long periods of acrimonious silence. Then her husband stood, stepped behind their mother’s chair, and said, “Everyone’s tagged what they want. We’re placing our tag on what we want.” And he placed his hands on their poor mother’s shoulders. Greed is always ugly. Covetousness can turn a family’s mutual mourning into an orgy of hatred. (Preaching the Word-Luke)

Luke 12:14  But He said to him, "Man, who appointed Me a judge or arbitrator over you?"

KJV Luke 12:14 And he said unto him, Man, who made me a judge or a divider over you?


But He said to him - Jesus as He so often did, responded to the question with another question. But clearly, He used this question as a point to launch into a discourse warning against the dangers of greed. Jesus knew that the real problem was not the inheritance but the hearts of the two brothers, and so He uses this providential interruption to speak on the deadly danger of greed and covetousness. 

As Wiersbe says this man who interrupted "wanted Jesus to solve his problems but not save him from his covetousness! Had Jesus made a just division of the property, this would not have solved the problem, for “the heart of every problem is the problem in the heart.”  (Wiersbe’s Expository Outlines on the New Testament)

Man is not exactly a cordial response. MacArthur in fact says it is "an unsympathetic response; the term, like the English word “mister,” was used to address strangers" 

Bock - The vocative anthrōpe, man, can be harsh (Luke 22:58, 60; Ro 2:1, 3; 9:20; James 2:20) or gentle (Lk 5:20; 1 Ti 6:11) depending on the context. Here it is a rebuke. (Ibid)

Appointed (put in charge) (2525) See kathistemi

NET Note on man - This term of address can be harsh or gentle depending on the context. Here it is a rebuke.

As Morris reminds us "He came to bring people to God, not to bring property to people. In this situation he was concerned with the attitudes of those involved, not with who got what." (Ibid)

Hendriksen - The Master knew very well that the petitioner's preoccupation with strictly mundane affairs had its root in cupidity. Therefore he now issues a warning, addressed not only to this man but to the entire multitude. (Ibid)

NET Note on over you - The pronoun humas is plural, referring to both the man and his brother; thus the translation "you two." 

Wiersbe comments "As long as both men were greedy, no settlement would be satisfactory. Their greatest need was to have their hearts changed. Like too many people today, they wanted Jesus to serve them but not to save them." (Bible Exposition Commentary)

Judge (2923)(krites from krino = to judge) is one who has the right to render a decision in legal matters or make a decision based on examination and evaluation ( Mt 5:25; Lk 12:14, 58; 18:2, 6, 15 Acts 24:10). Of God as Judge (Heb 12:23, James 4:12, 2 Ti 4:8, Acts 10:42, cf James 5:9. See uses below in Pslams). Krites also refers to "one who rules in a special sense in the accounts of Israel’s theocratic period" (BDAG) such as uses in Lxx = Jdg 2:16, 18, 19, Ru 1:1, Acts 13:20). Judge can refer in a general sense to anyone who passes judgment or appoints to himself judgment on anything (James 4:11; James 2:4) 

Liddell-Scott - krites was used "at Athens, of the judges in the poetic contests." A krites - "an interpreter of dreams." (Aeschylus)

Gilbrant - In classical Greek this noun generally means “judge, umpire,” frequently in a competitive context (i.e., “the judges in the poetic contests,” cf. Liddell-Scott). In the Septuagint kritēs is also used in a special sense referring to the leaders God raised up in the period between Joshua and King Saul, the time of the “judges.” When outlining the history of the Jews, Paul preached, “And after that he gave unto them judges” (Acts 13:20). These leaders did act as judges over lawsuits, so “judge” is not an inappropriate title for them, but this was only one of their functions. In later Greek kritēs was more frequently used to designate a “judge” in a court of law. Both the Septuagint and New Testament use kritēs in this sense referring to both men and God. Jesus taught, “Agree with thine adversary quickly . . . lest at any time the adversary deliver thee to the judge” (Matthew 5:25). And in the parable about a woman’s persistent prayer, Jesus began, “There was in a city a judge” (Luke 18:2). It is also used of God in many places. An example is in Hebrews where it says “to God the Judge of all” (Hebrews 12:23).

Krites - 19x in 17v - judge(15), judges(4).

Matthew 12:27  "If I by Beelzebul cast out demons, by whom do your sons cast them out? For this reason they will be your judges.

Luke 11:19  "And if I by Beelzebul cast out demons, by whom do your sons cast them out? So they will be your judges.

Luke 12:14  But He said to him, "Man, who appointed Me a judge or arbitrator over you?"

Luke 12:58  "For while you are going with your opponent to appear before the magistrate, on your way there make an effort to settle with him, so that he may not drag you before the judge, and the judge turn you over to the officer, and the officer throw you into prison.

Luke 18:2  saying, "In a certain city there was a judge who did not fear God and did not respect man.

Luke 18:6  And the Lord said, "Hear what the unrighteous judge said;

Acts 10:42  "And He ordered us to preach to the people, and solemnly to testify that this is the One who has been appointed by God as Judge of the living and the dead.

Acts 13:20  "After these things He gave them judges until Samuel the prophet.

Acts 18:15  but if there are questions about words and names and your own law, look after it yourselves; I am unwilling to be a judge of these matters."

Acts 24:10  When the governor had nodded for him to speak, Paul responded: "Knowing that for many years you have been a judge to this nation, I cheerfully make my defense,

2 Timothy 4:8  in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing.

Hebrews 12:23  to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the Judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect,

James 2:4  have you not made distinctions among yourselves, and become judges with evil motives?

James 4:11  Do not speak against one another, brethren. He who speaks against a brother or judges his brother, speaks against the law and judges the law; but if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge of it.

James 4:12  There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the One who is able to save and to destroy; but who are you who judge your neighbor?

James 5:9  Do not complain, brethren, against one another, so that you yourselves may

not be judged; behold, the Judge is standing right at the door.

Krites - 19/17 51x in 49v in the Septuagint 

Deut. 1:15 = "officers (Heb = shoter = official; Lxx = krites) for your tribes"; Deut. 1:16; Deut. 16:18; Deut. 17:9; Deut. 17:12; Deut. 19:17; Deut. 19:18; Deut. 21:2; Deut. 25:2; Deut. 29:10; Deut. 31:28; Jdg. 2:16-19 ("Then the LORD raised up judges "); Ruth 1:1; 1 Sam. 24:15; 2 Sam. 7:11; 2 Sam. 15:4; 2 Ki. 23:22; 1 Chr. 17:10; 1 Chr. 23:4; 1 Chr. 28:1; 2 Chr. 1:2; 2 Chr. 19:5; 2 Chr. 19:6; 2 Chr. 26:11; 2 Chr. 34:13; Ezr. 7:25; Ezr. 10:14; Job 9:24; Job 12:17; Job 13:8; Ps. 7:11; Ps. 50:6; Ps. 68:5; Ps. 75:7; Ps. 141:6; Ps. 148:11; Isa. 1:26; Isa. 30:18; Isa. 33:21; Isa. 63:7; Dan. 9:12; Hos. 7:7; Amos 2:3; Mic. 7:3; Hab. 1:3; Zeph. 3:3

Ps 7:11  God is a righteous Judge, And a God who has indignation every day. 

Ps 50:6  And the heavens declare His righteousness, For God Himself is Judge. Selah. 

Ps 68:5  A father of the fatherless and a Judge for the widows, Is God in His holy habitation. 

Ps 75:7  But God is the Judge; He puts down one and exalts another. 

Arbitrator (3312)(meristes) one who decides a dispute over inheritance. It is related to the more common word merismos which denotes “a division” or “partition” (from meris = “a part”).

TDNT on mesites - A first use of mesítēs is for the trustworthy neutral, e.g., the umpire (The "neutral" whom both sides can trust. He may be an umpire) or guarantor. Thus we find the word for a. the legal arbiter, b. the witness, c. the sequester, d. the pawnbroker, e. the guarantor, and f. a warehouse official. More general senses are 2. “intermediary,” and 3. “negotiator.” mesiteúō means 1. “to act as umpire,” 2. “to occupy a middle place,” and 3. “to establish a relation between two hitherto unrelated entities.” . The OT. mesiteúō does not occur in the LXX and mesítēs only in Job 9:33. Hebrew has no single term for “mediator” but we find words meaning “interpreter” and “negotiator.”2. Rabbinic Judaism. The business world brings the idea of the negotiator or broker into rabbinic thought, in which it takes on a figurative sense.3. Hellenistic Judaism. Josephus uses the terms only in a secular sense. Philo starts with this but gives added depth to the idea of the “mediator,” using both noun and verb mostly in a religious sense.

Luke 12:15  Then He said to them, "Beware, and be on your guard against every form of greed; for not even when one has an abundance does his life consist of his possessions."

KJV Luke 12:15 And he said unto them, Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man's life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth.

Amplified - "And He said to them, Guard yourselves and keep free from all covetousness (the immoderate desire for wealth, the greedy longing to have more); for a man's life does not consist in and is not derived from possessing overflowing abundance or that which is over and above his needs.

  • Beware, and be on your guard against every form of greed Luke 8:14; 16:14; 21:34; Joshua 7:21; Job 31:24,25; Ps 10:3; 62:10; 119:36,37; Pr 23:4,5; 28:16; Jer 6:13; 22:17,18; Micah 2:2; Hab 2:9; Mark 7:22; 1 Cor 5:10,11; 6:10; Eph 5:3-5; Colossians 3:5; 1 Ti 6:7-10; 2 Ti 3:2; Heb 13:5; 2 Peter 2:3,14
  • for not even when one has an abundance does his life consist of his possessions Job 2:4; Ps 37:16; Pr 15:16; 16:16; Eccl 4:6-8; 5:10-16; Mt 6:25,26; 1 Ti 6:6-8
  • Luke 12 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries
  • Luke 12:13-21 How To Be Really Rich - Steven Cole
  • Luke 12:13-21 The Rich Fool - John MacArthur


Then He said to them - Here Jesus is surely speaking not just to the man who interrupted Him and not just to His disciples but to the entire crowd, for this warning is necessary for every human being!

MacArthur -  Refusing to sit in judgment on a dispute about money, Jesus instead rendered a far more important judgment on the sin of greed.

Hendriksen - This is a most earnest warning. Let every listener take it to heart. Let him begin to take inventory. Let him make it his serious business to ask himself again and again, "Am I perhaps a greedy individual? Do I experience joy in giving, in helping along good causes? Or am I, perhaps, a selfish person? Do I have an inordinate yearning for material possessions? For honor, prestige? For power and position? Briefly, am I greedy?" (Ibid)

Wiersbe - Mark Twain once defined "civilization" as "a limitless multiplication of unnecessary necessities," and he was right. In fact, many Christians are infected with covetousness and do not know it. They think that Paul's admonition in 1 Timothy 6:5-19 applies only to the "rich and famous." Measured by the living standards of the rest of the world, most believers in America are indeed wealthy people. (Ibid)

Solomon (probably the richest man who ever lived) ironically wrote...

He who loves money will not be satisfied with money, nor he who loves abundance with its income. This too is vanity. (Eccl 5:10)

Paul warned

For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. (1 Ti 6:10)

Beware, and be on your guard against every form of greed - Observe the two commands which are "synergistic" for beware means to perceive. Covetousness by its very nature is subtle and can slither into a heart if one is not on continually on the lookout (We ALL understand this pernicious pitfall don't we, whether its our neighbor's new car, etc). So first you have to "see" the slithering sin, and secondly, you have to put up a guard around your heart so that it can't gain easy entrance. Every form is literally "all" but this translation does rightly suggest that "greed" or "covetousness" comes in different "shapes and sizes" but ALL are similarly sinister! Be ware and be on guard. Jesus' words remind me of the fencing term En garde which of course is French for "on guard" and is spoken at outset of the engagement to warn the participants to take a defensive position (picture).

Against every form of greed - Note the warning is not just against MONEY, but "all kinds of greed!" This includes coveting your neighbor's house, car, wife (husband), clothing, etc! EVERY FORM!

Crawford - This most important statement gets to the very root of the evil of covetousness, which is literally a "lust for things"; these things are idols that displace God in the heart and life (Col 3:5, 6-note) and cause souls to be damned, as the following account explains.  The Lord's summary of a life is most tragic or most blessed. He summed up the life of another rich man in one brief sentence (16:19). All of human history and all our personal experience teach us the truth of the Lord's words. When man, with his eternal soul, attempts to make life out of the possessions he can gain, he comes to disappointment, emptiness, despair and eternal loss. The present world, devoid of meaning for so many who live for it, gives powerful testimony to the truth of the Lord's words. Prefaced by "Take heed, and beware", the Lord makes this warning very personal and pointed. "Beware" means to stand guard against the vicious attack of a deadly foe. A similar warning is given by Paul against those who "will be rich" (1 Tim 6:9).  (What the Bible teaches – Luke)

Beware (present imperative - command to continually take heed)(3708)(horao) means to see, observe, recognize, perceive, attend to (mentally and spiritually), and in this passage means to "see to it, take care, take heed." Jesus used this command several times in Matthew - Matt. 9:30; Matt. 16:6; Matt. 18:10; Matt. 24:6; and once in Mk. 8:15. 

Jesus uses horao in several warnings - Mt 8:4, Mt 9:30, Mt 16:6, Mt 18:10, Mt 24:6, Mk 1:44, 8:15, Jesus uses horao in John 6 "But I said to you, that you have seen Me, and yet do not believe." (Jn 6:36, cf Jn 6:46, 8:38, 9:37, 14:7, 9, 15:24, 20:29 John's witness - John 19:35)

Be on your guard  (present imperative - command to continually stand guard) (5442)(phulasso) means to watch, to carry out the function as a military guard or sentinel (cp Acts 23:35, 28:16), to keep watch, to have one's eye upon lest one escape, to guard a person that he might remain safe (from violence, from another person or thing, from being snatched away, from being lost). The NT uses phulasso of guarding truth (eg, 1Ti 5:21, 6:20, 2Ti 1:14-note

J R Miler commenting on Luke 12:15 wrote "Few people think of the danger of getting rich. Most think that they become great—just in proportion as they gather wealth. Yet there never was a more fatal error! A man is really measured by what he IS—not by what he HAS. We may find a shriveled soul in the midst of a great fortune; and a noble soul in the barest poverty. A man's real "life" is what would be left of him—if everything he has were stripped off. His real 'worth' is his character, as it appears in God's sight. We will make a great mistake if our goal in life—is simply to gather more worldly trinkets than our neighbor!"

The fact that Jesus warns with two verbs and both are in the present tense indicates the danger is ever present that greed could come in and corrupt a disciple's witness. 


Paul states this principle two times

For this you know with certainty, that no immoral or impure person or covetous man, who is (Greek - estin in the present tense = continually, as his habitual practice lives as) an idolater (eidololatres), has an inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God (i.e., THEY ARE NOT REGENERATE, BORN AGAIN!).  (Eph 5:5-note) (Ed: No wonder Paul commands us to flee idolatry in 1 Cor 10:14).

Therefore consider the members of your earthly body as dead (command) to immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed, which amounts to idolatry (eidololatreia). (Col 3:5-note)

Greed (covetousness) (4124)(pleonexia from pleíon = more + écho = have) means literally to have more and describes a strong, insatiable desire to acquire more possessions for self, especially those things we have no right to possess. The desire to have more is irrespective of the need and thus the word always conveys a bad sense. Pleonexia has been defined as "the spirit which snatches (root verb echo = "to have") at that which it is not right to take, the baneful appetite for that which belongs to others." It is the spirit which snatches at things, not to hoard them like a miser, but to spend them in lust and luxury.

Hendriksen - The Greek word for greed is very descriptive. Literally it means: the thirst for having more, always having more and more and still more. It is as if a man in order to quench his thirst takes a drink of salt water, which happens to be the only water that is available. This makes him still more thirsty. So he drinks again and again, until his thirst kills him. In this connection think also of one of the German words for greed: die Habgier; cf. the Dutch: hebzucht, the uncontrolled yearning to have... have... have... more... and... more... and still more. (Ibid)

Louw-Nida says pleonexia is "a strong desire to acquire more and more material possessions or to possess more things than other people have, all irrespective of need." 

Covetousness was regarded by Jews as an extremely heinous sin, a characteristic of pagans who were separated from God.

Even a pagan like Plato had the sense to recognize "The desire of man is like a sieve or a pierced vessel which he ever tries to, and can never fill."

Solomon wisely observed, “He who loves money will not be satisfied with money, nor he who loves abundance with its income” (Eccl. 5:10).

John Trapp - Covetous men by gaping after more lose the pleasure of that they posses, as a dog at his master’s table swalloweth the whole meat he casteth him without any pleasure, gaping still for the next morsel.

NET Note - Note the warning covers more than money and gets at the root attitude - the strong desire to acquire more and more possessions and experiences. 

Contentment is the opposite of covetousness. Attacking covetousness lays the ax to a root cause of sin because pleonexia is the root of the other sins listed (in Col 3:5). When contentment replaces covetousness, the latter cannot give rise to the process that culminates in an act of sin.

Hughes - The book of Proverbs views greed as the dividing line between righteous and evil people: “All day long he craves for more, but the righteous give without sparing” (Pr 21:26). The apostle Paul repeatedly condemned greed: “But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people” (Ephesians 5:3). To the Ephesian elders he proclaimed, “I have not coveted anyone’s silver or gold or clothing” (Acts 20:33). (Ibid)


Hughes observes the principle that "The greedy person lives as if the most important things of life are assured when they have amassed the superfluous. But Jesus said, “A man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” Material excess will never make one alive or happy or fulfilled. It is perhaps understandable to be fooled when you are fifteen. But at fifty, or seventy-five? How utterly foolish!"

Darrell Bock adds that "The danger of the pursuit of possessions is that it can make one insensitive to people. Greed can create a distortion about what life is, because the definition of life is not found in objects, but relationships, especially to God and his will. To define life in terms of things is the ultimate reversal of the creature serving the creation and ignoring the Creator (Ro 1:18–32)....Jesus will tell a parable to illustrate just how foolish this position is. Real life, he argues, possesses a far different focus. Real life is tied to God, his offer of forgiveness of sins, his values, and his reward" (Ibid)

For not even when one has an abundance does his life consist of his possessions - NLT paraphrases this "Life is not measured by how much you own." Phillips paraphrases it "For a man's real life in no way depends upon the number of his possessions." Amplified translations says "for a man's life does not consist in and is not derived from possessing overflowing abundance or that which is over and above his needs.

Has abundance (4052)(perisseuo from perissos = abundant, exceeding some number, measure, rank or need, over and above) means to cause to superabound, to be superfluous, to overflow, to be in affluence, to excel or to be in abundance with the implication of being considerably more than what would be expected.

Mattoon amplifies on greed or covetousness - The covetous person is piggish in priorities. Self is number one in his considerations and choices. He is like the horse-leech crying "Give! Give!" His focus is on things. His futility is the fact he is never satisfied and always wanting more. The foundation of his problems is the fact he is selfish, lacks contentment and satisfaction. The funnel of his problems is the lust of the flesh, eyes, and pride of life.  His frustration is the fact that his possessions do not satisfy him. He feels left out or is missing out on life. He also feels he is not treated fairly because you have something that he does not have, and he has just got to have it, too. Covetousness is the acid of avarice, a cancer of corruption and carnality that eats away at the health of society turning people into beasts. It causes to people to demand what they have not earned and have a spirit that says, "You owe me! What you have is mine!" Covetousness causes people to: burn in their hearts for the possessions of others, learn to deceive their neighbor, looking upon him as a competitor,  spurn the rebukes and warnings of Scripture and the conscience, turn from honesty and hard work to dishonest means, yearn for more after you get what you want. The Bible says, "The blessings of the Lord maketh rich and he addeth no sorrow with it." On the other hand, the bounty of covetousness leaves one deceived, distracted, discouraged, and depressed from the need for more, from selfishness, from a lack of satisfaction of possessions, and from the guilt which comes from the unlawful means by which things were attained. Like the sharp fangs of a rattlesnake that injects its venom into its victim, covetousness will poison your heart, infecting it with a spirit of greed that will cause you to deceive, make dangerous decisions, or disregard the needs of others. This is amply illustrated all throughout the Bible in the lives of people with catastrophic consequences....Covetousness is a mother sin that spawns other sins. It is interesting to note that the Ten Commandments have their roots in the tenth commandment which says, "Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbor's (Exodus 20:13)."

Hampton Keathley IV - vs. 15. gives us a big clue as to what the point of the parable is. Jesus condemns greed and warns that even if the man gets a larger share of the inheritance, it will not bring life.

People don’t believe this. They think that if they can only get enough material things these things will produce the abundant life.

Do riches bring the abundant life? Listen to what Andrew Carnegie had to say:

"Millionaires who laugh," said Andrew Carnegie, "are rare. “You may have all the money in the world, and yet be a lonely, sorrowing man.”

Sir Earnest Cassel said, “The light has gone out of my life. I live in this beautiful house, which I have furnished with all the luxury and wonder of art; but, believe me, I no longer value my millions. I sit here for hours every night longing for my beloved daughter."

And Christina Onassis said, "Happiness is not based on money and the greatest proof of that is our family." (Read her sad story)

(Ed comment: Who knows how money warped Onassis? In the 1991 biography All the Pain That Money Can Buy, author William Wright details how Onassis spent $30,000 a pop to send a private jet to America to keep her stocked in Diet Coke, and once sent a helicopter from Austria to Switzerland to retrieve a David Bowie cassette she'd left there. When friends said they were too busy to spend time with her, Onassis would give them cash –– as much as $30,000 a month –– to clear their schedules.)

Do you believe these stories? Or do you think it would be different for you if you had lots of money? (Ibid)

GREED - ILLUSTRATIONS - In the days following her flight from the Philippines with her deposed husband, revelations about Imelda Marcos made her name a synonym for greed. What can a woman do with thousands of pairs of shoes? But the Imelda Marcos syndrome operates throughout the economic scale. The term “greed” means simply “a consuming desire to have more”; it has the nuance of a grasping for more, a lust to acquire. It is the very opposite of the contentment that accompanies true godliness (1 Timothy 6:6).

Someone once asked John D. Rockefeller how much money was enough. “One dollar more,” he replied. The beast of greed is never full. It is insatiable.

We miss the point, however, if we see covetousness as an issue of amount not attitude. The poorest can be greedy; the richest can avoid greed. But the danger of possessions is that they often arouse the desire for more.

Ivan Boesky, who went to prison and paid a fine of $100 million for insider trading was, a few years earlier, the darling of Wall Street. During that time he declared at a graduation ceremony at a major university, “Greed is all right. I want you to know I think greed is healthy. You can be greedy and still feel good about yourself.” As Newsweek later commented, “The strangest thing when we look back will not be just that Ivan Boesky could say that at a business school graduation, but that it was greeted with laughter and applause” (December 1, 1986).

In the 1950s, wrestling was almost as popular as it is at present (and just as authentic!). The European champion was Yussif the Turk, who came to America to fight Strangler Lewis for the “world championship” and $5,000. Yussif won and insisted that the $5,000 be paid in gold, which he stuffed into his championship belt. The money mattered so much that he refused to remove the belt until he had reached home safely. Boarding the first available ship to Europe, he headed home. But halfway across the Atlantic, the ship foundered in a storm and began to sink. In a panic, Yussif jumped for a lifeboat, missed, and went straight to the bottom. His golden belt had become a golden anchor, a vivid illustration of the Lord’s words. (From Gary Inrig - The Parables)

Quotes on Greed and Covetousness

  • Big mouthfuls often choke. Anon.
  • No gain satisfies a greedy mind. Anon.
  • Greed of gain is nothing less than the deification of self, and if our minds are set on hoarding wealth we are being idolatrous. John Blanchard
  • Greed and ambition … the two sources from which stems the corruption of the whole of the ministry. John Calvin
  • The lack of faith is the source of greed. John Calvin
  • Somehow, for all the wondrous glimpses of ‘goodness’ I see in society, there remains the unmistakable stain of selfishness, violence and greed. John Dickson
  • Greed is a bottomless pit which exhausts the person in an endless effort to satisfy the need without ever reaching satisfaction. Erich Fromm
  • If your desires be endless, your cares and fears will be so too. Thomas Fuller
  • Riches have made more covetousness than covetousness has made rich men. Thomas Fuller
  • The world provides enough for every man’s need but not for every man’s greed. Mohandas Gandhi
  • That we shall carry nothing out of this world is a sentence better known than trusted, otherwise I think men would take more care to live well than to die rich. John P. K. Henshaw
  • Whereas other vices grow as a man advances in life, avarice alone grows young. Jerome
  • Avarice increases with the increasing pile of gold. Juvenal
  • Nearly all those evils in the world which people put down to greed or selfishness are really far more the result of pride. C. S. Lewis
  • Avarice is as destitute of what it has as poverty of what it has not. Publilius Syrus
  • Poverty wants much; greed everything. Publilius Syrus
  • Most men pray more for full purses than for pure hearts. Thomas Watson


  • Wealth is the devil’s stirrup whereby he gets up and rides the covetous. Thomas Adams
  • He who coverts is poor, notwithstanding all he may have acquired. Ambrose
  • Charity gives itself rich; covetousness hoards itself poor. Anon.
  • Gold is the heaviest of all metals, but it is made more heavy by covetousness. Anon.
  • Much trouble is caused by our yearnings getting ahead of our earnings. Anon.
  • Seeking empties a life; giving fills it. Anon.
  • Covetousness is a sin that comes earliest into the human heart, and is the last and most difficult to be driven out. George Barlow
  • Covetousness makes us the slaves of the devil. John Calvin
  • Faith is the sovereign antidote to covetousness. John Calvin
  • Covetousness is the blight that is withering our church life in all directions. Samuel Chadwick
  • When all sins are old in us and go upon crutches, covetousness does but then lie in her cradle. Thomas Decker
  • Riches have made more covetous men than covetousness has made rich men. Thomas Fuller
  • Covetousness is commonly a master-sin and has the command of other lusts. Matthew Henry
  • Covetousness is spiritual idolatry; it is the giving of that love and regard to worldly wealth which are due to God only. Matthew Henry
  • He is much happier that is always content, though he has ever so little, than he that is always coveting, though he has ever so much. Matthew Henry
  • Poor people are as much in danger from an inordinate desire towards the wealth of the world as rich people from an inordinate delight in it. Matthew Henry
  • The covetous man sits hatching upon his wealth and brooding over it, till it is fledged, as the young ones under the hen, and then it is gone. Matthew Henry
  • Covetousness swallows down any lie. William Jenkyn
  • The soul of man is infinite in what it covets. Ben Jonson
  • Beware … of the beginnings of covetousness, for you know not where it will end. Thomas Manton
  • There are two sins which were Christ’s sorest enemies, covetousness and envy. Covetousness sold Christ and envy delivered him. Thomas Manton
  • Coveting is something we do with our hearts, not our hands or feet. Will Metzger
  • We may love money without having it, just as we may have money without loving it. J. C. Ryle
  • One can be covetous when he has little, much, or anything between, for covetousness comes from the heart, not from the circumstances of life. Charles Caldwell Ryrie
  • Covetousness is both the beginning and the end of the devil’s alphabet—the first vice in corrupt nature that moves, and the last which dies. Robert South
  • We need not covet money, for we shall always have our God, and God is better than gold, his favour is better than fortune. C. H. Spurgeon
  • Covetous men, though they have enough to sink them yet have they never enough to satisfy them. John Trapp
  • A man may be said to be given to covetousness when he takes more pains for getting earth than for getting heaven. Thomas Watson
  • Covetousness is dry drunkenness. Thomas Watson
  • Covetousness is not only in getting riches unjustly, but in loving them inordinately, which is a key that opens the door to all sin. Thomas Watson
  • The itch of covetousness makes a man scratch what he can from another. Thomas Watson
  • The sin of covetousness is the most hard to root out. Thomas Watson
  • There is no better antidote against coveting that which is another’s than being content with that which is our own. Thomas Watson
  • I have heard thousands of confessions, but never one of covetousness.  Francis Xavier

(From John Blanchard - The Complete Gathered Gold: A Treasury of Quotations for Christians)

Steven Cole - Jesus here answers the vital question, “How can we invest our lives wisely so as to be rich toward God?”

1. We all have a choice about how to invest our lives.
The choice, simply put, is: Greed or God? Many might say, “Wait a minute! That’s too black and white. Life isn’t that neatly divided into separate categories. It’s more realistic to say that we can serve God and at the same time try to get rich.” But Jesus drew the line plainly when He said, “You cannot serve God and mammon” (Luke 16:13). He did not say, “should not,” but “cannot.” It is an impossibility to serve both masters at the same time. You must choose one or the other.

In Mark 4:19, Jesus said that the thorns that gradually grow up and choke out the word are “the worries of the world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the desires for other things.” Greed often isn’t a deliberate choice, where a person decides, “I’m going to become a materialistic hedonist by spending my life for as much money and as many possessions as I can get.” Rather, it creeps up around us without our realizing it. It gets a slow stranglehold on our lives, like thorns growing up around a healthy plant. So how can we determine if we’re falling into the sin of greed?

A TEST FOR GREED:   Here are five questions to ask yourself:

(1) Do my thoughts more often run after material things than after God Himself? If I am often thinking about that new car or that nicer house or that better computer, and I seldom think about how I can know God better, I am tainted by greed.

(2) Do I ever compromise godly character in the pursuit of material gain? If I sometimes cheat or lie or steal to get ahead financially or to avoid loss, I am being greedy. If I am willing to shred relationships or to take advantage of another person for financial gain, I am being greedy. If I care more about making money than about being a witness for Jesus Christ, I am being greedy.

(3) Do I enjoy material things more than I enjoy knowing God? If my happiness soars when I get a new car, but I am bored by the things of God, I am greedy. If I rejoice when I win a raffle or door prize, but I yawn when I hear about a soul being saved, I am greedy.

(4) How do I respond when I lose material things? When the stock market drops, do I fall apart emotionally? If I get robbed or lose some or all of my things in a fire, does it devastate me? I’m not saying that we must be stoical about such losses. We will always feel some sadness when we lose things. But if it wipes us out, then we’re probably too attached to this world and its goods.

(5) What would I do if I suddenly came into a fortune? I presume that none of you play the lottery, but what if you won the Reader’s Digest Sweepstakes? What if a distant relative died and left you a large inheritance? Would your first thought be, “Now I can get that better house or car or boat”? “Now I can take that trip around the world I’ve always wanted to take.” Or, would you think, “Now I can support dozens of missionaries”? “Thousands of people can hear about Christ because He has given me funds to invest in the spread of His kingdom!”

Some may be thinking, “What’s the big problem with greed? Sure, we all know that it’s wrong to live for things and to grasp after them like Scrooge. But success is the American way. As long as we’re not extreme about it, can’t we pursue the nice things in life?” Our text reveals three fundamental problems with greed:

(1) Greed ignores the lordship of Christ over everything.
The man in the parable saw himself as the owner of all that he had. Did you notice the prominence of the first person pronoun in his speech? Six times he says “I,” without any regard for God. He refers to my crops, my barns, my grain, my goods, and, most frighteningly of all, my soul. He would have been in harmony with the proud and defiant words of William Henley’s “Invictus,” “I am the master of my fate; I am the captain of my soul.”

The Bible declares, “The earth is the Lord’s, and all it contains, the world, and those who dwell in it” (Ps. 24:1). God rightfully owns the whole works! If He lets us use any of it, He still retains the ownership and we will give an account to Him of how we used it as stewards. Our lives are not our own. We have been bought with a price. We belong to the Lord Jesus Christ. If He has given you health, you will give an account to Him for how you managed your healthy body. If He has given you intelligence, He will demand an account of how you used it for His purposes. If He entrusts material goods and money to you, someday you will answer for how you invested it in light of eternity.

The greedy man is proud. If you asked this man, “How did you get all this wealth?” he would have answered, “I got it all by hard work, using my head, and I had a little luck with the weather.” But he wouldn’t have acknowledged God’s grace as the source of it. The greedy man is self-sufficient. His confidence was in his many barns full of produce, not in God’s care. The greedy man is his own lord. He asks himself, “What shall I do?” He proudly declares, “This is what I will do.” He does not ask, “Lord, what would You have me to do?”

(2) Greed ignores the priority of relationships over riches.
You don’t have to read between the lines to see that this man and his brother were not best buddies at this point! The money had come between them. How many families have been divided over the settling of the family estate! How many brothers and sisters are so angry that they won’t speak to each other because they are at war over possessions or money that belonged to their parents! In this case, I presume that the man bringing the complaint had some justification for his case. His brother probably had wronged him. But Jesus confronted this man with his own greed. The Bible is clear that the number one priority is to love God and that number two is to love our neighbor as much as we do love ourselves. Our love of money and things is just a manifestation of our love of self more than our love of God and neighbor.

(3) Greed ignores the shortness of life and the fact of eternity.
The rich man made a deliberate, thought-out decision (12:18 19), but he left out one critical factor: eternity! He had his bases covered for many years on earth, but not for eternity in heaven. Alexander Maclaren puts it, “The goods may last, but will he?” (Expository Thoughts on the Gospels [Baker], p. 342). Of course, he had no guarantee that even the goods would last. His barns could have been hit by lightning and burned to the ground before morning. Thieves or an invading army could have taken it all from him. Rats could have eaten and polluted his storehouses. Nothing in this life is guaranteed except death (and, perhaps, taxes!).

The rich man thought that he was being prudent. He had thought matters through carefully. But God bluntly calls him a fool. The fool thinks about life, but he doesn’t include God, judgment, and eternity in his thoughts. So, at death the fool and his riches are parted for all eternity. God’s voice breaks into this man’s life like a thunderclap without warning: “Front and center before My throne! Give an account of how you have used what I graciously entrusted to you!” The rich fool was weighed in the balance and found wanting.

Two men were at the funeral of a wealthy man. The first man whispered to the second, “How much did he leave?” The second man replied, “He left it all!” We always do, of course! So each of us has a choice to make about how we invest the rest of our lives: Will I serve God or will I serve greed? There’s a second fact to consider regarding how to be rich toward God:

2. The world’s perspective on how to invest our lives is at odds with God’s perspective.

The world says that life consists of things, but God says that life consists of being rightly related to Him and to others. The world would view this rich man as a success. He would be featured in business magazines as a model to follow. He had not gained his wealth by dishonest or corrupt means. He had worked for it, poured his money back into the business, and had done well. He was financially secure. He could now enjoy the good life: good food, fine wine, servants, and whatever pleasures money could afford. Isn’t that what we all aim for in life? Isn’t that why we go to college, so that we can get a good career, make plenty of money, provide the finer things in life for our children, and retire some day with plenty in our investments? What’s wrong with that?

William Barclay (The Gospel of Luke [Westminster Press], p. 164) points out that this man’s “whole attitude was the very reverse of Christianity. Instead of denying himself he aggressively affirmed himself; instead of finding his happiness in giving he tried to conserve it by keeping.”

His goal was to enjoy life, but in seeking his life, he lost it. What was wrong was the man’s focus. He had the world’s perspective, not God’s perspective. God’s perspective is not that riches are inherently wrong. Money can be a great good if it is used in line with God’s perspective. There are several wealthy men in the Bible, such as Job, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph who enjoyed God’s blessing and were godly men. But, to a man, they were generous men who lived in light of eternity. As Paul tells Timothy, "Instruct those who are rich in this present world not to be conceited or to fix their hope on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly supplies us with all things to enjoy. Instruct them to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, storing up for themselves the treasure of a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is life indeed."(1 Tim. 6:17-19). So if we want to be rich toward God, we need to be careful to distinguish between the world’s perspective and God’s perspective. We are bombarded daily with the world’s perspective, which invariably is focused on this life. God’s perspective always takes into account the life to come.

3. To invest your life successfully, deposit it with Jesus Christ and spend it for His kingdom.
You deposit your life and all that you have into the Bank of Heaven. As you withdraw from the account, you consider God’s purpose through His Son, to be glorified in all the earth when every knee shall bow before Jesus. In other words, you “seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness” (Matt. 6:33).

This investment begins by depositing your life with Jesus Christ, which means, entrusting your eternal destiny to Him. All of the good works that you try to do for God will not begin to pay the debt of your sin when you stand before Him. Jesus Christ paid that debt. On the cross, He cried out, “It is finished” (John 19:30). The Greek word means, “paid in full.” The wages of sin is death, and Jesus paid that price for you if you will put your trust in Him. When you stand before God and He asks, “What is in your account in the Bank of Heaven?” the only answer that will suffice is, “The blood of Your Son Jesus has paid for all my sins.”

Every investment requires trust, including the depositing of your life with Jesus Christ. When you put your money into the bank, you trust the officers and personnel of that bank to keep it safe for you. You may say, “Yes, but my money is insured by the Federal government.” So, you trust an institution that is trillions of dollars in debt and is run by the likes of Bill Clinton? If you can trust the U.S. government with your money, surely you can trust in Jesus Christ as your Savior!

Then, to be rich with God, you must expend what God has given you in line with His kingdom purposes. If you had come into a lot of money that you planned to invest, presumably you would take some time, thought, and effort to invest it wisely. You may even pay a financial counselor to give you some insights on where to put that money. Yet, while most of us are quite careful about investing money for our own purposes, we’re pretty sloppy when it comes to investing in light of God’s kingdom purposes. But, as the parable of the talents shows, we need to invest what God has entrusted to us in such a way that it will bring a good return in light of His purpose of being glorified among the nations.

Does this mean that we can’t spend any money on ourselves? Does it mean that we should live at a poverty level, drive old cars, only buy used clothes, and never spend money for personal enjoyment or pleasure? I doubt if many are tempted to go to those extremes, but, no, that’s not what it means. God has blessed us with many things and it is legitimate to enjoy those blessings with thankful hearts. Also, it is prudent and in line with Scripture to provide in a reasonable manner for our future needs through saving and investing (Prov. 6:6-11).

But, at the same time I think that most Christians need to think much more carefully about the question, “Am I really seeking first God’s kingdom?” Am I constantly thinking of the stewardship of my life and money in light of what God is doing? Or, could the deceitfulness of riches be getting a subtle stronghold on my life?

We expect missionaries to live modestly. We would be bothered if we heard that a missionary we were supporting was getting rich. And, yet, we aren’t bothered if we get rich and live lavishly. Missions strategist Ralph Winter argues that all Christians should live a missionary lifestyle and give the rest to the Lord’s work. We all should be as committed to the Great Commission as missionaries are, even if God has not called us to go to another culture. After all, Jesus didn’t say, “All you missionaries should seek first God’s kingdom, but the rest of you can just give a tenth, spend the rest on yourselves, and live as you please.” Probably, most of us need to give more serious time, thought, and effort to the matter of our stewardship in light of God’s kingdom priority.

Conclusion To be really rich, Jesus says that we must be rich toward God by laying up treasure in heaven. Paul says that we do that when we are rich in good works, generous, and ready to share. We should think of ourselves standing before God, giving an account of what He has entrusted to us. Will we be really rich on that day? At the end of the movie, “Schindler’s List,” the war is over and Mr. Schindler is leaving the many Jews whom he saved by employing them in his munitions factory. He has spent his entire personal fortune to bribe German officials in order to save these people from the death chambers. But as he looks at them, he breaks down weeping and laments, “I could have done more.” They try to console him, but he points to his nice car and says, “I could have sold it and save a few more lives.” He pulls out an expensive fountain pen and a watch and says, “These could have been sold to save another life.” Schindler was not a Christian and he was not saving souls for eternity. Perhaps the man was a bit too compulsive about his mission. But, still, when we think of our Savior’s commission, to preach the gospel to every creature, we all need to ask ourselves, “Am I doing enough?” Am I laying up treasure for myself, or am I getting really rich, rich toward God, by laying up treasures in heaven?

Discussion Questions
  1. Is it wrong to seek to improve my financial condition? What about wanting to get rich? Give biblical support.
  2. How much is enough? At what point do we violate Jesus’ point about not laying up treasure for ourselves?
  3. How can we be on guard against all greed? Is all luxury wrong? How do we define luxury in light of the world’s poor?
  4. Are things like insurance and investments opposed to trusting in God and seeking first His kingdom? Give biblical support. (How To Be Really Rich )

Joseph Stowell - THE MENACE OF MORE - But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. —1 Timothy 6:8
I recently picked up a paper and read about the marketing of a new cigarette from the R. J. Reynolds Company. “Dakota” is intended to appeal to young “virile females” who like to run with their boyfriends and do what the guys are doing. The tobacco industry knows that smoking is addictive and deadly. Yet when their research shows that these young women are especially prone to start smoking, they are like predators targeting their prey for the benefit of their profit margin. This is only one example of our greed-driven culture. Yet in honesty we must admit that the same tendencies often display themselves among those of us who claim to belong to another kingdom. Think of how often our greed robs from eternity. We spend so much of our time and money accumulating the things that “moth and rust destroy” (Mt 6:19, cf Lk 12:33-note) that we have few resources and little time left to invest in that which lasts forever. Think of how greed tarnishes the testimony of Christ when we compromise integrity and biblical values to cut a less-than-honorable deal. Or of how greed shreds families when parents devote their best energies to dreams of an extra car, a nicer home, or a better vacation—leaving little strength for rearing children in “the training and instruction of the Lord” (Eph 6:4). Greed contradicts love. It has no regard for values. It gobbles up all that is ultimately precious in life. No wonder Christ told us, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions” (Luke 12:15). It’s not easy to find contentment in a world in the grip of greed. But we can start by remembering how much we already possess in Christ, whom to have is life abundant. With that truth firmly in hand, we can rid our lives of the love of money and can learn to be content (Hebrews 13:5). And when we are content, we are freed to place loving and caring for Christ, His kingdom, and others above personal gain. May we always treasure that “godliness with contentment is great gain” (1 Timothy 6:6). Let contentment liberate your heart! (Strength for the Journey)

ILLUSTRATION OF NAZI GREED - The greed of Nazi Germany troubled not only the families of Germany, but the entire world that was thrown into a world war. The Nazi leadership hated the Jews, but they loved their gold and possessions. The Germans used the "death camps" to strip the Jewish people of their valuables. They accumulated huge amounts of furs, watches, clothing, jewelry, and cash before their victims had their appointments in the gas chambers. While the dead bodies were still warm, they would extract the gold from their teeth. They would then use blow torches to melt the gold and pour it into molds. As much as 110 pounds of gold were extracted every day. The Germans found that it was easier to get the gold and dispose of the bodies if they would cremate the bodies in ovens and that is what they did. Goldberg's book, The Complete Book of Greed, states that in the closing days of the war, the Nazis were intent on taking this stolen wealth with them. In 1945, Martin Bormann, Hitler's deputy, utilized a German submarine operation to transport the booty taken at the death camps to the country of Argentina. The Nazis' own records reveal that six U-boats carried across the Atlantic Ocean 550,000 ounces of gold, 3,500 ounces of platinum, and 4,638 carats of diamonds, plus works of art, gold marks, British pounds, American dollars, and Swiss franks amounting to millions of dollars. At $1100 an ounce, the value of the gold today would be worth 605 billion dollars. At $1200 an ounce the platinum would be worth today over four billion dollars.

Graffiti —Luke 12:15

Pastor and evangelist E. V. Hill went home to be with his Lord and Savior on February 25, 2003. He was much sought after as a conference speaker, and few have gained the attention and respect of people from all levels of society as he did.

Many years ago, Pastor Hill was invited to speak in a suburban church of a large southern city in the United States. In the introduction to his message, Pastor Hill commented on the difference between the affluent suburb and the poor urban area where he ministered. “I know what’s missing,” he said. “You folks don’t have any graffiti anywhere. I’d like to volunteer to provide some for you. I’ll get a bucket of paint and walk through your neighborhood, writing this one word on your million-dollar homes and expensive European cars: temporary. That’s it—temporary. None of it will last.”

We enjoy and take care of what we have, and that’s as it should be. But Jesus said we shouldn’t be possessed by our possessions, for they won’t last into eternity (Luke 12:15-21). A house is just a box in which to stay warm and dry; a car is a way to get us from one place to another. Since we can’t take them with us when we die, we’re far better off to view them as E. V. Hill did—temporary.By David C. Egner

The riches of this world are vain,
They vanish in a day;
But sweet the treasures of God's love—
They never pass away. —Bosch

The real measure of our wealth is what will be ours in eternity.

The Scenery Or The Play—Luke 12:15 Beware of covetousness, for one's life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses.

Early in Moss Hart’s career as a Broadway playwright, he tried desperately to overhaul the dull third act of an ailing play. After a dozen agonizing rewrites, he decided his favorite scene, along with its elaborate and expensive set, had to go. The scenery had captured the plot and was holding the dialog hostage.

No longer bound by the overpowering set, Hart rewrote with a new freedom and flexibility. The third act came to life, and Once In A Lifetime became the biggest hit of 1930.

Looking back, Hart said, “A play can be blackmailed by its scenery more often than anyone connected with it is likely to realize.”

His words cause me to reconsider the truth so powerfully expressed by Jesus: “Take heed and beware of covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses” (Lk. 12:15).

“Watch out,” I hear Jesus saying, as I set the stage of my life with things I consider essential. “Be on guard, or the things you own will begin to own you.”

The scenery of a play belongs in the background, not in the spotlight. The same is true of our possessions. When we clear center stage for Jesus Christ and keep the focus on Him, He will bring our story to life.By David C. McCasland

Lord, help us always realize
That we'd have nothing without You,
And may we ever put You first
In everything we plan to do. —Sper

You're in trouble when the things you own begin to own you.

Driving down the highway in Houston, I passed a billboard with large letters that announced “THE GOOD LIFE!” I couldn’t wait to get closer to read the small print, which explained that the “good life” was about buying a lakefront home starting at $300,000. Which made me wonder if some unhappy families might live in those homes, with kids who never see their parents, or couples who, though living on the lake, wish they weren’t even living together.

Luke 12 came to mind as I remembered the story of the man who asked Jesus to tell his brother to divide the inheritance with him. That was the wrong thing to ask Jesus! He replied with a warning, “Beware of covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses” (v.15). He then went on to tell the story of an extremely rich man who, from God’s point of view, was a fool—not because he was successfully wealthy but because he was not rich toward God.

The sooner we get over the illusion that more stuff means more peace, happiness, and self-fulfillment, the better off we will be. And then the more able we will be to find the longed-for peace and happiness—the true “good life”—that only Jesus can provide.By Joe Stowell 

O Lord, help us to be content,
Whatever we possess;
Protect us from the foolish lie
That “more” brings happiness.  —Sper

The “good life” is found in the richness of God.

Don’t Get Greedy—Luke 12:15

One’s life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses.

Philip Parham tells the story of a rich industrialist who was disturbed to find a fisherman sitting lazily beside his boat. “Why aren’t you out there fishing?” he asked.

“Because I’ve caught enough fish for today,” said the fisherman.

“Why don’t you catch more fish than you need?” the rich man asked.

“What would I do with them?”

“You could earn more money,” came the impatient reply, “and buy a better boat so you could go deeper and catch more fish. You could purchase nylon nets, catch even more fish, and make more money. Soon you’d have a fleet of boats and be rich like me.”

The fisherman asked, “Then what would I do?”

“You could sit down and enjoy life,” said the industrialist.

“What do you think I’m doing now?” the fisherman replied as he looked placidly out to sea.

We chuckle. Yet that story highlights an important truth. If we live only to accumulate material wealth, we’ll never get enough. We’ll work more and more frantically—until we collapse!

Been working all the time? Refusing to take vacations? Life is more than possessions. Learn to trust more fully in the God who has given us all things to enjoy. By David C. Egner

Once my life was full of effort,
Now ’tis full of joy and zest;
Since I took His yoke upon me,
Jesus gives to me His rest. —Simpson

Some people are so busy preparing for a rainy day that they miss God’s sunshine.

Beware of Covetousness!—Luke 12:15

Covetousness is one of those overstuffed words in our religious vocabulary that has lost its cutting edge. Many don’t take it seriously. Some even suspect that when God was putting together the Ten Commandments He had nine good solid ones, but then to round out the list threw in one about coveting (Ex. 20:17).

Jesus gave a warning about covetousness to a man who interrupted Him in the middle of His sermon. The man wanted Jesus to settle a dispute between him and his brother. Evidently their father had died, and this son felt he was not getting his fair share of what the father had left behind. The inheritance had become an obsession to this man. It consumed him. As he stood in the presence of Jesus Christ and listened to His peerless preaching, he did not hear the liberating words the Savior had been speaking.

There is danger in wanting more and more things, or in wanting what belongs to another. The apostle Paul called this intense desire “idolatry” (Col. 3:5). That’s strong language. Let’s listen to the law. Let’s listen to our Lord. He wants us to be rich toward God. That’s why He warned, “Beware of covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses” (Luke 12:15).By Haddon W. Robinson

When we would covet more and more
Of this world’s wealth—of earthly store,
Help us, O Lord, to look above
And draw upon Your endless love. —DJD

You cannot covet and be happy at the same time.

More, More, More —Luke 12:15

Some people love to shop. They have a perpetual desire to buy, buy, buy. The craze to find the latest deal is worldwide. There are huge shopping malls in China, Saudi Arabia, Canada, the Philippines, the United States, and around the world. A rise in store purchases and online buying show that buying is a global phenomenon.

Shopping can be fun. Certainly, there is nothing wrong with trying to find a real deal and to enjoy the things God has given to us. But when we become preoccupied with obtaining material goods, we lose focus.

Jesus challenged His listeners with these words: “Take heed and beware of covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses” (Luke 12:15). He went on to tell a parable about a man “who lays up treasure for himself,” but is not concerned about his relationship with God (v.21).

How can we learn to be content with what we have and not be consumed with amassing more? Here are some ways: View material goods as given by God to be used wisely (Matt. 25:14-30). Work hard to earn and save money (Prov. 6:6-11). Give to the Lord’s work and those in need (2 Cor. 9:7; Prov. 19:17). And always remember to be thankful and to enjoy what God gives (1 Tim. 6:17).By Dennis Fisher

Lord, our hearts often run after “stuff.”
Teach us not to be obsessed with collecting
more and more material goods. May we instead
learn what it means to be “rich” toward You.

To be rich in God is far better than to be rich in goods.

Luke 12:16  And He told them a parable, saying, "The land of a rich man was very productive.

KJV Luke 12:16 And he spake a parable unto them, saying, The ground of a certain rich man brought forth plentifully:


Darrell Bock - Jesus tells a parable that shows the danger of placing one’s trust in possessions. Part of the power of this parable is that much in the man’s response seems so natural. However, his response is flawed in its perspective. The unit fits into the section’s general thrust that many obstacles lie in front of disciples. The previous passage warned about fearing humans over God. Now another major danger is raised: excessive attachment to wealth. The warnings given in Luke 12 parallel the warnings offered in the parable of the soils, for the obstacles there included trials and riches (Lk 8:4–15; also Lk 16:19–31; 18:18–30). As a result of issues raised here, Jesus will go on to address the need to trust God (12:22–34), something true both in the midst of persecution and as one seeks life’s provision. (Ibid)

And He told them a parable - Jesus drives home His point about greed by presenting them a parable dealing with greed, using the picture of a rich farmer with an abundant harvest.

MacArthur - This text of Scripture has been called, “The Rich Fool.”  It could be called, “The Doom of the Materialist.” 

Crawford - The parable of this wise and successful businessman has been one of the most fruitful sources of solemn, searching warnings to careless sinners who live for time and forget eternity....The man in the parable is called a rich farmer, but every successful farmer is also a successful businessman, so whether he worked the fields, or was the owner of fields worked by others, the crops were so abundant that his storage was insufficient to the point of requiring new barns. The verb euphoreo ("brought forth plentifully") is used only here in the NT, but from it has been derived the English word euphoria which means to be in high spirits or have a feeling of great well being. (Ibid)

Parable (symbol) (3850)(parabole from para = beside, near + ballo = throw, cast; English "parable") is literally a throwing beside or placing of one thing by the side of another (juxtaposition as of ships in battle in classic Greek). The metaphorical meaning is to place or lay something besides something else for the purpose of comparison. (Mt 24:32, Mk 13:28, Mk 3:23, Lk 14:7). An illustration (Mt 13:3).

See "What is a parable?"

The land of a rich man was very productive - It bore good crops. The yield was good. Who gave the good yield? The good God. 

As Wiersbe says "Money does not necessarily solve problems; it created new problems for this farmer. It is not a sin to be wealthy, but it is a sin to make wealth your god (Col. 3:5). The rich are prone to be covetous, and the poor are prone to worry. Both are sins. When we substitute things for life, we stop living by faith and trusting God. All of nature trusts God to meet their needs, and so should we. Worry only tears us down. The key to a worry-free life is a heart fixed wholly on God (Lk 12:31; Mt. 6:33). This is the “undivided outlook” of Lk 11:34–36. If we belong to God, then it is His obligation to care for us; so we need not worry." (Ibid)

Very rich  (4145)(plousios from ploutos = wealth, abundance, riches) is an adjective which defines that which exists in a large amount with implication of its being valuable. Literally plousios refers to having an abundance of earthly possessions that exceeds normal experience. Rich is used most often in the NT in the sense of having abundant possessions and especially material wealth and was a frequent topic addressed by the Lord Jesus Christ. It is used figuratively in James to describe those who are rich in faith (Jas 2:5, cp similar use to describe the believers in Smyrna - Rev 2:9-note).

Plousios - 28v in the NT with 11 in Luke's Gospel  - 

Matt. 19:23; Matt. 19:24; Matt. 27:57; Mk. 10:25; Mk. 12:41; Lk. 6:24; Lk. 12:16; Lk. 14:12; Lk. 16:1; Lk. 16:19; Lk. 16:21; Lk. 16:22; Lk. 18:23; Lk. 18:25; Lk. 19:2; Lk. 21:1; 2 Co. 8:9; Eph. 2:4; 1 Tim. 6:17; Jas. 1:10; Jas. 1:11; Jas. 2:5; Jas. 2:6; Jas. 5:1; Rev. 2:9; Rev. 3:17; Rev. 6:15; Rev. 13:16

Very productive (2164)(euphoreo from = well + phérō = to bear) means literally to bear well, yield abundantly, to produce unusually well, to produce an abundance of good fruit or grain , to yield plenty of fruit, to produce a good harvest. Only in Lk 12:16. No uses in Lxx.

It is interesting that euphoreo gives us our English word euphoria which means to be in high spirits or have a feeling of great well-being, which is a good description of this rich fool's mindset whose contentment was related to temporal and not eternal things! 

Liddell-Scott - Of ships, have a prosperous voyage. Sense of well-being in disease. Grace of movement, in dancing

James Boswell in his biography of Samuel Johnson (a famous English writer) says, “he remembers the one day he went fishing with his father. He called it the most significant day of his life with his dad. Later he got hold of his father’s diary and read the entry, quote: “Went fishing with Sam, day wasted.” Why did he think the day was wasted? Maybe it was because he wasn’t at work making more money, getting ahead in his career. Jesus tells us a parable about a man like that. He is called “the rich fool.” (Hampton Keathley IV)

The rich fool looked upon himself as a successful man, but God didn't agree. True success is to find one's place and to fill it — to seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness! You may be poor, have relatively little talent, and be quite unable to do anything that looks big; how-ever, if you are faithfully handling the task God has given to you, in complete yieldedness to His will, you will find true happiness. God eventually will give an accurate estimate of your life; then "many who are last shall be first; and the first last!' H G Bosch (Ibid)

Seek ye first, not earth's aspirings,
Ceaseless longings, vain desirings
But your precious soul's requirings,
"Seek ye FIRST"!

Happiness is not having and getting;
it consists in giving and serving! —H. Drummond

Luke 12:17  "And he began reasoning to himself, saying, 'What shall I do, since I have no place to store my crops?'

KJV Luke 12:17 And he thought within himself, saying, What shall I do, because I have no room where to bestow my fruits?

NET Note on I have nowhere to store my crops - The thinking here is prudent in terms of recognizing the problem. The issue in the parable will be the rich man's solution, particularly the arrogance reflected in  Lk 12:19. 

Spurgeon - There were empty cupboards in the houses of the poor, and there were hungry children to be filled; so this man need not have lacked room where he could bestow his fruits.

Reasoning (pondering) (1260)(dialogizomai from dia = intensifies meaning +  logizomai - to reason, reckon, consider. Related to our English word "dialogue" a conversation between two or more people) means to consider, reason or reckon thoroughly, to think through, to deliberate by reflection. "To bring together different reasons." (Vine) To hold a discussion. To take full account of, to stop to consider, to distinguish between. To think about or reason in one's mind alone. The imperfect tense indicates he was doing this over and over. It was something that he was really thinking through carefully. His thoughts were tethered to earth, not heaven.

Luke 12:18  "Then he said, 'This is what I will do: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods.

KJV Luke 12:18 And he said, This will I do: I will pull down my barns, and build greater; and there will I bestow all my fruits and my goods. - Note how often the first person pronoun and possessives are used which indicate the farmer is totally self absorbed, focused on his self indulgence. "I" and "my" are also prominent in Lk 12:17 and Lk 12:19 (Total - 8 I’s and 4 my’s...OH MY!). This man is all about SELF! That's a major problem because as Jesus said

“No one can serve (douleuo) two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve (douleuo) God and wealth (mammonas). (Mt 6:24-note)

Gary Inrig notes he is marked by "selfishness: “I … I … I”—six times over. He is totally preoccupied with himself. For him, the purpose of having is self-indulgence. “I deserve it; I owe it to myself; I’ll do it my way”—all the anthems and slogans of twentieth-century selfists were known to their first-century cousins. (The Parables)

Wiersbe - How do you respond to the wealthy farmer’s dilemma? Here was a man who had a problem with too much wealth! If we say, “I certainly wish I had that problem!” we may be revealing covetousness in our hearts. If suddenly you inherited a great deal of wealth, would it create a problem for you? Or would you simply praise God and ask Him what He wanted you to do with it?There are perils to prosperity (Prov. 30:7–9). Wealth can choke the Word of God (Matt. 13:22), create snares and temptations (1 Tim. 6:6–10, 17–19), and give you a false sense of security. People say that money does not satisfy, but it does satisfy if you want to live on that level. People who are satisfied only with the things that money can buy are in great danger of losing the things that money cannot buy. (The Bible Exposition Commentary) (Bolding added)

Here is a related quote on Lotto winners who became losers -For an unlucky bunch, lotto winnings turn into a curse. The list of those who have squandered their prize money while suffering tremendous heartache is long; some regret ever winning." (Read more)

Mattoon on build larger ones - The rich farmer forgot about the "God factor." His plans would be changed as we will see, because the Lord was going to intervene. This common man had no sense because he left God out of his life and plans. That was the key problem in his life. He did not need bigger barns. He needed a bigger heart that was grateful for what the Lord had done for him....If you want to prosper financially, then realize that in God's economy, you gain by giving away what you have. What? That's right! You prosper, preserve, and protect your finances by giving a portion of what you have to the Lord. (Treasures from Luke)

Luke 12:19  'And I will say to my soul, "Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years to come; take your ease, eat, drink and be merry."'

KJV Luke 12:19 And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry.

  • Soul, you have many goods laid up Dt 6:11,12; 8:12-14; Job 31:24,25; Ps 49:5-13,18; 52:5-7; 62:10; Pr 18:11; 23:5; Isa 5:8; Hos 12:8; Hab 1:16; Mt 6:19-21; 1 Ti 6:17; James 5:1-3
  • for many years to come Job 14:1; Pr 27:1; James 4:13-15
  • take your ease Luke 16:19; 21:34; Job 21:11-13; Eccl 11:9; Isa 5:11; 22:13; Amos 6:3-6; 1 Cor 15:32; Phil 3:19; 1 Ti 5:6; 2 Ti 3:4; James 5:5; 1 Pet 4:3; Rev 18:7
  • Luke 12 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries
  • Luke 12:13-21 How To Be Really Rich - Steven Cole
  • Luke 12:13-21 The Rich Fool - John MacArthur


And I will say to my soul - He is "preaching a sermon" to himself. But it is a sermon that speaks death, not life. Here he speaks to his soul and in the next verse God requires his soul (Lk 12:20).

Mattoon says "His life was filled with six "I's", five "my's", and four "I will's", but not the Lord."

Spurgeon - It is “my” all through, — my fruits, my barns, my goods. The man was eaten up with selfishness, and did not recognize the fact of his stewardship. He did not know that even his own soul did not belong to him; he thought it did: “I will say to my soul,” 

Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years to come - James speaks to this deceptive mode of thinking

Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, and spend a year there and engage in business and make a profit.” Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away. Instead, you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that.” (James 4:13-15)

Gary Inrig says this man was marked by "materialism. The purpose of having barns is to get bigger barns, and the good life comes from having good things. The quality of the future he anticipates is directly related to the size of the barns he builds. He could no more be content with medium-sized barns than Imelda Marcos could be content with ten pairs of shoes!" (The Parables)

Many years to come - The farmer first boasted about his wealth and now his health! Or so he thought!

Hughes - This is the only place in the Bible where retirement is spoken of, and here it is in the context of disapproval. Of course, the Bible recognizes aging and slowing down. But retiring to a life of self-indulgence finds no favor with God. This is the only place in the Bible where retirement is spoken of, and here it is in the context of disapproval. Of course, the Bible recognizes aging and slowing down. But retiring to a life of self-indulgence finds no favor with God....A retirement that lives for self is unbiblical and immoral. If the rich man had survived that night, he would have gone on to live a life of bored hedonism and perhaps would have ended up like the despairing young woman, exhausted by pleasure, who when told she should simply stop, responded with relief, “You mean I don’t have to do what I want to do? Hedonism aside, the glaring fault of this foolish man was that he was living as if there was no God. “The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God’ ” (Psalm 14:1). (Ibid)

Take your ease, eat, drink and be merry (cf. 1 Cor 15:32; Eccl 8:15; Isa 22:13) - This is the worldly man's mantra, who sees this present world as the place where it is "as good as it gets" so go for all the gusto!

Hedonism is the pursuit of pleasure as a matter of ethical principle. Hedonism is a school of thought that argues that pleasure and happiness are the primary or most important intrinsic goods and the proper aim of human life. A hedonist strives to maximize net pleasure (pleasure minus pain), but when having finally gained that pleasure, either through intrinsic or extrinsic goods, happiness remains stationary.Ethical hedonism is the idea that all people have the right to do everything in their power to achieve the greatest amount of pleasure possible to them. 

Inrig adds "his life is characterized by hedonism. “I’ll say to myself, ‘… take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.’ ” We should not miss the Lord’s point. Solomon tells us that it is a gift of God “that everyone may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all his toil” (Ecclesiastes 3:13). Paul tells us that our gracious God “provides us with everything for our enjoyment” (1 Timothy 6:17). It is right to enjoy what we have; it is wrong to believe that self-indulgent pleasure is the goal of life, as this man does. He believes that his wealth makes him master both of the present and the future.
We can summarize his view of life in several phrases that ring through the years: “If I’m not good to myself, who will be?” “Success with possessions shows I’m a success as a person.” “The bigger the barn (or car or house), the better the life.” “If money can’t buy happiness, it can at least buy pleasure and security.” But, in a moment, the bubble bursts. (Ibid)

This man's hedonism is the antithesis of John Piper's "Christian Hedonism." = "God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him. Or: The chief end of man is to glorify God by enjoying him forever."

Hughes - Like so many, the rich man was like an old tree—he was dead inside, even while displaying the vestiges of life.

  “And because we know we have breath in our mouth
  and think we have thought in our head,
  We shall assume that we are alive, whereas we are
 really dead.… ”
  “The Lamp of our Youth will be utterly out, but we
  shall subsist on the smell of it,
  And whatever we do, we shall fold our hands and
  suck our gums and think well of it.
  Yes, we shall be perfectly pleased with our work,
  And that is the perfectest Hell of it!”

Do You Talk To Yourself? - Luke 12:19

Sitting in my car at the curb, waiting for my wife to finish shopping, I passed the time by watching the people walking by. I noticed one man in particular because he was deeply engrossed in talking to himself. What he said I don’t know, but it surely was a serious discussion. He reminded me of a man who, when asked why he always talked to himself, replied, “I have two reasons: First, I like to hear a smart man talk. And second, I like to talk to a smart man!”

When people talk to themselves, what do they talk about? It can be either good or bad, for our words reveal what is in our heart. The rich man in Luke 12:16-21 talked boastfully to himself about his riches, and God called him a fool. The prodigal in Luke 15 talked to himself about his poverty, and he returned to his father.

When you talk to yourself, you are simply thinking out loud, revealing what is in your heart. It could be said that we are what we think. If our thoughts are evil, we will be evil. If our thoughts are pure, our life will be pure.

Using Philippians 4:8 as our guide, let’s resolve to purify our thoughts. Let’s talk to ourselves about things that are true, noble, just, pure, lovely, of good report, virtuous, and worthy of praise. By M.R. DeHaan

Lord, saturate my thoughts with truth,
And let Your Word in me abide;
While thinking on the pure and good,
May my whole life be edified! —HGB

To become Christlike, fill your mind with Christlike thoughts.

Ready To Go? —Luke 12:16-21

A man decided to make all the necessary arrangements for the day of his funeral. He picked out a burial plot and chose the inscription he wanted carved on his headstone. A minister, who knew him well, heard that he was busily preparing for the inevitable day. So he went to the man and said, “I understand that you’ve done everything you can possibly do to provide a resting place for your body. Have you given any thought to a resting place for your soul?”

The man was stunned by the question, for it was true that he hadn’t thought about getting ready for the life to come. After listening to the minister explain the gospel, he placed his trust in Christ for salvation and found assurance of eternal life and rest.

Wise is the person who makes that all-important preparation, because everybody will spend eternity somewhere. Those who believe on Christ will enter the kingdom prepared for all who love Him; those who reject Christ will go into the everlasting fire (Matthew 25:34,41).

No one knows when death will come. But we can be ready. The Bible says, “Whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Romans 10:13). Nothing you do on earth is more important than making sure you are ready to go.  By Richard DeHaan

O to be ready when death shall come!
O to be ready to hasten Home!
And sweetly, gently, to pass away
From earth's dim twilight and into day. —Anon.

Only those who are ready to die are ready to live.

Sunrise In Heaven Luke 12:16-21

Now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation. —2 Corinthians 6:2

“It’s unsinkable!” That was the proud boast made by the builders of the Titanic, the magnificent ocean liner that on April 14, 1912, went down during its maiden voyage. Most of the 2,100 passengers were sent to their deaths.

In an article for the Danish magazine Evangelisten, Ingvald Andersen told about one of the passengers, John Harper, who was a fervent witness for Christ. According to a survivor, on the evening of the disaster John had led a young Englishman to faith in the Savior.

Soon afterward, John went for a walk on the deck with his daughter and a niece. As they were admiring the spectacular sunset, Harper said, “It is going to be beautiful in the morning.”

For him and any other Christian who died that night, the next morning was beautiful. Theirs was sunrise on their first day in heaven. Andersen, as he related all of this, urged his readers to be certain of their own relationship to Jesus.

No matter how safe and serene your life may be, it can end in shipwreck at any moment. So if you have never done so, you need to do as that young Englishman did—accept Christ as your Savior now. Then, regardless of when or how you die, yours will be sunrise in heaven.By Vernon Grounds

Salvation deferred too long becomes the tragedy of too late.

Luke 12:20   "But God said to him, 'You fool! This very night your soul is required of you; and now who will own what you have prepared?'

KJV Luke 12:20 But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided?

  • But God said to him Luke 16:22,23; Ex 16:9,10; 1 Sa 25:36-38; 2 Sa 13:28,29; 1 Ki 16:9,10; Job 20:20-23; 27:8; Ps 73:19; 78:30; Da 5:1-6,25-30; Nahum 1:10; Mt 24:48-51; 1 Th 5:3
  • You fool! Luke 11:40; Jer 17:11; James 4:14
  • and now who will own what you have prepared? Esther 5:11; 8:1,2; Job 27:16,17; Ps 39:6; 49:17-19; 52:5-7; Pr 11:4; Pr 28:8; Eccl 2:18-22; 5:14-16; Jer 17:11; Da 5:28; 1 Ti 6:7
  • Luke 12 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries
  • Luke 12:13-21 How To Be Really Rich - Steven Cole
  • Luke 12:13-21 The Rich Fool - John MacArthur


You fool - The rich man was not a fool because he had a lot of possessions, but he was a fool because he had all the possessions but did not possess Jesus. Oh, how poor this rich man really was! The world would call him WISE because he took such great care preparing for his earthly needs, but God called him a FOOL because he forgot about his heavenly needs. 

Spurgeon - Other men said of him, “This is a wise man; he minds the main chance; he is a fellow plentifully endowed with good sense and prudence;” but God said unto him, “Thou fool, “ I should like you to set that up as the counter picture to the one that we had this morning, “Today shalt thou be with me in Paradise.” That was said by Christ to the penitent thief, but to this impenitent rich man, God said, “This night thy soul shall be required of thee.”

Gary Inrig - In God’s eyes, he is a fool to be pitied. The term fool in biblical language is not a description of mental ability but of spiritual discernment. In the Old Testament language of Psalms and Proverbs, a fool is an individual who makes choices as if God doesn’t exist and who lives as if God hasn’t spoken. Eleven times over, we hear “I” and “my” in this man’s words. For all intents and purposes, God does not exist.  (Ibid)

Spurgeon - “Thou fool.” That is God’s opinion of the man who means to build bigger barns in order that he may himself enjoy what is about to be taken away from him. He was a fool to be laying up in store for others to scatter. Many a miser’s heirs have lived to ridicule him. He was the rake that gathered up a heap of gold, and they are the shovel and fork that scatter it. They drink the old man’s health, and are much obliged to him for stinting himself that they may drink so deeply.

ESV Study Note - Though this verse does not prohibit wealth, Jesus clearly warns his hearers concerning the dangerous eternal implications of wealth, with its seductive tendency toward complacency, self-sufficiency, and covetousness

Wiersbe - Jesus did not see this farmer enjoying life; He saw him facing death! Wealth cannot keep us alive when our time comes to die, nor can it buy back the opportunities we missed while we were thinking of ourselves and ignoring God and others. Jesus made it clear that true life does not come from an abundance of things, nor do true success or security. This man had a false view of both life and death. He thought that life came from accumulating things, and that death was far away. On March 11, 1856, Henry David Thoreau wrote in his journal, “That man is the richest whose pleasures are cheapest.” He also said, “A man is rich in proportion to the number of things which he can afford to let alone.” (Ibid)

Hughes - He was a fool because life is short. A sensible person will choose what is best for the long run. He will consider what will be best for him between his twenty-thousandth year and his seventy-thousandth year, not just his three score and ten. The man was a fool because he did not reckon with the fragility of life. This is understandable when you are a child, but when you are thirty, or fifty, or seventy and you live as if what is now will always be, you are a fool and will, Jesus said with certainty, receive “what you have prepared for yourself.” (Ibid)

Fool (878)(aphron from a = without + phren = understanding, means originally meant diaphragm and was regarded as the seat of mental and spiritual activity, then mind or understanding) is literally a lack of sense, reflection, understanding or reason. Aphron is one who does not use his rational powers. Aphron describes one not employing his understanding especially as it relates to practical matters. It means lack of good judgment and can refer to folly in action. It can express a reckless and inconsiderate habit of one's mind. Related ideas inherent in aphron are not using common sense, mindless or unmindful of the consequence of a thought or action, acting rashly. The aphron is not a dim-witted person or clown (as in ‘play the fool’), but in secular Greek was the person who had lost the correct measure of himself and the world around him. He was one who lacked prudence (= the ability to govern and discipline oneself by the use of reason and includes the idea of acting with or showing care and thought for the future)

Bock notes that aphron "is an important term, for in the OT a fool is one who either acts without God or without wisdom about potential destruction." (Aphron is used in both Ps. 14:1 and Ps 53:1)

ILLUSTRATION OF RICH FOOLS!!! - At least 12 American multimillionaires are looking forward to their lives beyond death. Confident in the continued progress of modern medicine, they have arranged for their bodies to be frozen after they have died. They have also have set up "personal revival trusts," which are designed to ensure their present wealth will be waiting for them when they have been resuscitated 100 or 200 years in the future. David Pizer, 64-years-old, presumes that the "roughly $10 million" he left to himself—after all the compound interest has been added in—will make him "the richest man in the world" when he wakes up. His attitude reflects the same attitude and presumption as the farmer. (Mattoon)


NET Note on your soul  - (psuche) is frequently used of one's physical life. It clearly has that meaning in this context.

Soul (5590)(psuche from psucho = to breathe, blow, Eng = psychology, "study of the soul") is the breath, then that which breathes, the individual, animated creature. However the discerning reader must understand that psuche is one of those Greek words that can have several meanings, the exact nuance being determined by the context. In the present context soul speaks of the man's life. (Click an excellent article on Soul in the Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology; see also ISBE article on Soul)

Hendriksen asks "Does not this parable imply that our real riches consists in that which is stated so beautifully in Rom. 8:31–39?

NET Note on required of you - Or "required back." This term apaiteo, has an economic feel to it and is often used of a debt being called in for repayment. 

Keathley - The word “required” has the idea of paying back a loan. This emphasizes the idea that the man was just a steward of his stuff and not the owner. (Ibid)

Required (demanded)(523)(apaiteo from apó = again + aitéō = to ask) means generally to demand or desire. More specifically apaiteo refers to property (stolen or borrowed) and is a demand to get it back, to ask again or to require (Lk 6:30). Apaiteo is used of stewards in 1 Cor 4:2 who are required to be faithful.  Figuratively apaiteo conveys the sense of one's life as if it were a loan from Who demands it back (Lk 12:20 - see Zodhiates below).  To recall, demand back, legal exaction of a demand or legitimate claim (Deut. 15:2, 3).

Inrig adds that "The word demanded (apaiteo) is a commercial term, used of a loan. At this crisis point he discovers a truth that everyone learns sooner or later. God owns life, and He merely loans our earthly existence to us. At any time He can call in His loan. The fool also has no power over the future: “Who will get what you have prepared for yourself?” As the writer of Ecclesiastes laments, “I must leave [my wealth] to the one who comes after me. And who knows whether he will be a wise man or a fool?” (Ecclesiastes 2:18-19)." (The Parables)

Zodhiates - To require, ask again (Luke 6:30, our Lord teaches here that it is better to be master of your emotions than of your possessions). To require, demand again in Luke 12:20 is in the 3d person pl., apaitoúsin, "they require thy soul of thee" (a.t.). The phrase "they require" must be understood as a reference to the three Persons of the Triune God (Luke 6:38; 12:48; Sept.: Deut. 32:39; 1 Sam. 2:6; 2 Kings 5:7). Life must be viewed as a loan from God due to be returned to Him at death. (Ibid)

Gilbrant - This verb actually is a combination of two words, the preposition apo, “from,” and the verb aiteo, “ask.” Compound verbs such as apaiteō often indicate a general pattern in classical Greek of adding strength to a word by prefixing a preposition. This particular expression had an active meaning of “demanding an account, exacting something due from someone, demanding back what was stolen, calling in debts.” It also had the passive use of “having something demanded by someone else” (see Stahlin, “apaiteō,” Kittel, 1:194). Koine Greek usage continued to demonstrate that the item demanded could be a loan or stolen property. More importantly, the term contained the concept of life being a loan from God. Sometimes it even expressed the idea of a desire. Septuagint Usage - Except for two instances in Neh 5:7, the Hebrew behind apaiteō is nāghas, “to ask for repayment” (often by force), or “a despot.” Each of these two meanings is found in apaiteō. Isaiah referred to the “rod of their oppressors” (Isaiah 9:4; cf. 14:4). In a different usage Deuteronomy instructed the creditor that he should not demand repayment (apaiteō) of his brother (15:2), although this did not apply to foreigners in the land (Deuteronomy 15:3). The practice referred to here was to occur at the end of every 7 years according to Deuteronomic legislation (at the conclusion of 7 sabbatical years [49 years], beginning with the 50th year, the Year of Jubilee was celebrated [cf. Exodus 21:2; Leviticus 25:1-55]). New Testament Usage - The New Testament brings to the forefront the concept expressed in the word apaiteō. Jesus, in His Sermon on the Mount, instructed His disciples to give to those who asked for something, without expecting anything in return (Luke 6:30). More importantly, He reminded His followers of the necessity of realizing life is a gift from God that He may choose to require at any time (Luke 12:20). The wise person will consider carefully the transitory nature of earthly life.

Apaiteo - 4x in 4v - Lk 6:30, 12:20, 48, 1 Cor 4:2. Uses 9x in 8v in the Septuagint - Deut. 15:2; 15:3; 2 Chr. 36:4; Neh. 5:7; Isa. 3:12; 9:4; 14:4; 30:33

The story of Esther, Mordecai and Haman is an illustration of the principle in this passage...

Esther 5:11 Then Haman recounted to them the glory of his riches, and the number of his sons, and every instance where the king had magnified him and how he had promoted him above the princes and servants of the king.

Esther 8:1 On that day King Ahasuerus gave the house of Haman, the enemy of the Jews, to Queen Esther; and Mordecai came before the king, for Esther had disclosed what he was to her. 2 The king took off his signet ring which he had taken away from Haman, and gave it to Mordecai. And Esther set Mordecai over the house of Haman. 

MacArthur - Failing to consider his own mortality left him to contemplate bitterly the materialist’s worst nightmare, aptly expressed by Solomon:

Thus I hated all the fruit of my labor for which I had labored under the sun, for I must leave it to the man who will come after me. And who knows whether he will be a wise man or a fool? Yet he will have control over all the fruit of my labor for which I have labored by acting wisely under the sun. This too is vanity. (Eccl. 2:18-19; cf. Pss. 39:4-6; 90:10; 103:15-16)

There is no bigger fool than he who does not prepare for the life to come.

ILLUSTRATION - Robert Morgan shared this incident in his life about the power of Christ to change a person: The first time I visited Chicago, I searched out the Old Pacific Garden Mission and asked a worker to show me around the mission. To my surprise, he grabbed my arm and pulled me out the door after him. "Here," he said, stuffing my hands full of New Testaments, "you can see the Mission later."
It was during the height of the Vietnam War, and young soldiers were pouring into Chicago in waves. I spent the rest of the evening at the train station, giving out literature, evangelizing soldiers, and inviting them to the Old Pacific Garden Mission—the granddaddy of all urban rescue missions.
The Pacific Garden Mission boasts of thousands of stories of men and women who have been "unshackled" by its message. An older man, for example, nicknamed "Sunshine" Harris, spent most of his life on Chicago's streets, living on stale wine and cigarette butts. I met a few men like this on the streets of Chicago in the early 1970's. Mr. Harris wandered in and out of the Mission, and one day someone there gave him a New Testament. As he flipped through its pages, his eyes fell on Luke 12:20, "Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee...." Sunshine angrily snapped the book shut, but later wanted to read the verse again. When he couldn't find it, he grew furious. Unwilling to be stymied, he started in Matthew 1:1, with the genealogies of Christ, and kept reading until he finally found Luke 12:20. Rereading the parable, he noticed that it spoke of a rich man, and Sunshine knew he was poor, but that didn't seem to matter. The story spoke to him, and that evening, when the invitation was given at the Mission, he raised his hand and a lady led him to the Lord Jesus Christ. The year was 1899, and Sunshine was 71 years old. He spent the rest of his life, night after night, working at the Old Pacific Garden Mission and telling everyone who would listen how Christ had changed his life. Because of Christ, he was marching to the drum beat of a different drummer. What drummer are you marching to in your life?

Life's Final Deadline Read: Luke 12:16-21

Prepare to meet your God. —Amos 4:12

We’re all confronted with deadlines. Bills must be paid, licenses renewed, tax returns filed— the list goes on and on.

One deadline, though, is of supreme importance. It’s one we all will face. The Bible says, “It is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment” (Hebrews 9:27).

Except for believers who are living when Jesus returns (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17), everyone will die. And all people from the beginning of history will stand before God in judgment. How foolish to neglect the preparation necessary for this inevitable accounting!

In Luke 12, Jesus told a parable of a rich man who planned to build bigger barns to store all his earthly goods so he could live out his days in pleasure and ease. But God unexpectedly announced, “Fool! This night your soul will be required of you” (Luke 12:20). His ultimate deadline had arrived.

Are you ready to meet God? If you’ve never received Christ as your personal Savior, do so without delay. Believe that He shed His blood on the cross to forgive your sins, and that He conquered death by rising from the grave. Ask Him to save you. Then you can face life’s final deadline with confidence. By Richard DeHaan 

If you believe that Jesus lives, you don't need to fear death.

You Fool! Luke 12:16-21 

The fool has said in his heart, “There is no God.” —Psalm 14:1

It seems to me rather contradictory that Jesus, who was so gentle at times (Matt. 19:13-15), would call some people fools. Yet, as recorded in the Gospels a number of times, our Lord used this derogatory term to describe those He spoke about—especially the Pharisees (see Matt. 23:17-19; Luke 11:39-40).

Jesus also used the word fool in a parable after warning a man about coveting (Luke 12:13-21). What made him foolish is not the fact that he built bigger barns to store his abundant harvest (vv.16-18). It would have been more foolish of him to leave it out in the fields where inclement weather would spoil it. Nor was he foolish because of his thought that this unexpected windfall was enough to last him a long time (v.19). After all, we are urged to follow the example of the ant in “storing up” the harvest (Prov. 6:6-8).

What made the man foolish? He left God out of the picture. He was called a fool because he failed to realize that his life was in God’s hands. While he was planning carefully for his comfortable life on earth, he failed to plan for eternity and store up treasures in heaven (Matt. 6:20).

Does your plan for the future have God in it? You won’t want to be called foolish by Him in the end.By C. P. Hia

Oh, why not turn while yet you may;
Too late, it soon will be—
A glorious life you may possess
Throughout eternity. —Anon.

He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose. —Jim Elliot

ILLUSTRATION OF A FOOL - The story is told of a prosperous, young investment banker who was driving a new BMW sedan on a mountain road during a snowstorm. As he veered around one sharp turn, he lost control and began sliding off the road toward a deep precipice. At the last moment he unbuckled his seat belt, flung open his door, and leaped from the car, which then tumbled down the ravine and burst into a ball of flames. Though he had escaped with his life, the man suffered a ghastly injury. Somehow his arm had been caught near the hinge of the door as he jumped and had been torn off at the shoulder. A trucker saw the accident. He pulled his rig to a halt and ran to see if he could help. He found the banker standing at the roadside, looking down at the BMW burning in the ravine below. "My BMW! My new BMW!!" the banker moaned, oblivious to his injury. The trucker pointed at the banker's shoulder and said, "You've got bigger problems than that car. We've got to find your arm. Maybe the surgeons can sew it back on!" The banker looked where his arm had been, paused a moment, and groaned, "Oh no! My Rolex! My new Rolex!!" (Mattoon)

An Uncertain Future

Read: Luke 12:13-21 

You do not know what will happen tomorrow. —James 4:14

The patriarch Isaac was an old man when he said, “I do not know the day of my death” (Genesis 27:2). That is true of us whether we’re young or old. We never know when the thread of life is going to be broken. This fact was vividly illustrated by something that happened in France in 1965.

A lawyer, Andre-Franois Raffray, agreed to purchase the apartment of Jeanne Louise Calment in the city of Arles. Theirs was a legal arrangement under which he, then age 47, agreed to pay Mademoiselle Calment, then age 90, $500 a month for the right to move into her splendid apartment when she died. What a bargain! Or so he thought. She went on living for 32 more years, while he lived for only 30. He died at 77, after paying $184,000 for an apartment he never occupied. His widow and heirs had to continue paying Mademoiselle Calment the agreed monthly payment until she died—at age 122! On her 120th birthday she had commented, “In life, one sometimes makes bad deals.”

What a great reminder that none of us can know when we will die. It may be that “this night your soul will be required of you” (Luke 12:20). How vitally important, therefore, that you make sure of your eternal destiny! You can do that right now by asking Jesus Christ to be your Lord and Savior.  —By Vernon Grounds 

If you know Christ as Savior, you can face the future with joy.

Traveling Light—Luke 12:20

Many vacation travelers take along too much stuff. They pack more shoes, clothes, and gadgets than they will ever need. Their mindset is, “I’d better not forget anything because I can’t go home and get it.” They would be better off if they asked, “How much can I get along without?” They often end up dragging around heavier-than-necessary suitcases. Some people even purchase so many new items on vacation that they have to leave some of their other stuff behind in the hotel.

We’re inclined to accumulate far too many possessions on our journey through life. We’re bombarded with ads that urge us to purchase things we “just can’t live without.” So we buy more and more and more.

The rich man in Jesus’ parable (Luke 12:13-21) may have been dreaming about all the good things he could acquire because he had a great crop. He said he would build bigger barns, and he would spend his time eating, drinking, and partying. But God told him, “Fool! This night your soul will be required of you; then whose will those things be which you have provided?” (v.20).

The principle is clear: Be “rich toward God,” not rich in things (Lk 12:21). Besides, you’ll have to leave it all behind when it’s time to go Home.By David C. Egner 

If we pursue mere earthly gain,
We choose a path that ends in pain;
But joy will stay within the soul
When we pursue a heavenly goal. —D. De Haan

Life is more than the things we store.

What's Inside

Read: Luke 12:13-21

The things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal. —2 Corinthians 4:18

A third-grader was asked to write an essay on the subject of the human body. He submitted this masterpiece:

“Your head is kind of round and hard, and your brains are in it and your hair is on it. Your face is in front of your head where you eat and make faces. . . . Your stummick is something that if you don’t eat often enough it hurts, and spinach don’t help none. . . . Your arms you got to have to throw a ball with and so you can reach the butter.

“Your fingers stick out of your hands so you can throw a curve and add up rithmatick. Your legs is what if you don’t have two of, you can’t run fast. Your feet are what you run on, and your toes are what always get stubbed. And that’s all there is of you, except what’s inside, and I never saw that.”

In a different sense, the rich farmer in Luke 12 also was unable to see “what’s inside.” He thought he had “the good life.” He was dead wrong. What we put in barns or closets or garages do nothing for the soul.

Does it take a grim funeral scene to demonstrate that “the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal”? (2 Cor. 4:18). Only a fool ignores “what’s inside.”By Haddon W. Robinson 

Have you thought of where you're going
When this earthly life is past?
Will the seed that you are sowing
Bring a harvest that will last? —Jacobsen

Life is more than the stuff we store.

Soul Goal Read: Luke 12:16-21

What will a man give in exchange for his soul. —Matthew 16:26

Rose Martin loved her Corvair. The low-slung, rear-engine vehicle was a popular model in the 1960s until consumer advocate Ralph Nader denounced it as a casket on wheels. Rose ignored his warnings and drove it around her hometown in Rhode Island for 36 years. She kept it functioning—no matter what the cost. So when she died in May 1998, her relatives and friends were not surprised by her desire to be buried in her cherished white Corvair.

Most of us don’t feel that sentimental about our cars. In fact, we may even wonder why some people are so concerned about where and how their bodies will be buried. Even though it’s wise to give some thought to cemetery plots and funeral arrangements, such matters are insignificant compared with the concern we ought to have for our undying souls (Mt. 16:26).

The rich man in Jesus’ parable had not been concerned about his soul and where he would spend eternity. Then one day God said to him, “Fool! This night your soul will be required of you” (Lk. 12:20).

The all-important issue is not where your body will be buried but where you will spend eternity. Are you headed for heaven or hell? What is the goal for your soul? By Vernon Grounds 

Admit that you don't deserve heaven (Rom. 3:23).
Believe that Jesus is your only hope (Jn. 3:16; 14:6).
Put your personal faith in Christ (Jn. 1:12; Rom. 6:23).

What we go after here determines where we go hereafter.

Be Prepared! Read: Luke 12:16-21

Prepare to meet your God. —Amos 4:12

The story is told of a nobleman who died very suddenly. Immediately his personal servant ran to tell the other servants of the household that their master was dead. He asked with gravity, “Where has he gone?” The servants replied, “Why, to heaven, to be sure.” “No,” said the man, “I am certain he has not gone to heaven.”

Somewhat surprised, the others asked him how he knew their master had not gone to heaven. The man replied, “Because heaven is a long way off, and I’ve never known my master to take a long trip in his life but what he talked of it beforehand and made thorough preparation for it. And I never heard him say a word about this journey, nor ever saw him getting ready for it.”

It’s true that we are saved by grace through faith in Christ—not by how much we talk about it (Eph. 2:8). Yet it’s strange when people think they’re going to heaven but never mention it nor read God’s Word.

The rich fool in Luke 12 wasn’t prepared when the Lord said, “This night your soul will be required of you.” If you seldom think about heaven and never discuss it, could it be you’re not going there? One way or another, you are going to meet God. Are you prepared? By Richard DeHaan

O to be ready when death shall come!
O to be ready to hasten Home!
And sweetly, gently, to pass away
From earth's dim twilight into day. —Anon.

Heaven is a prepared place for a prepared people.

On A Tight Schedule Read: Luke 12:16-21

What profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and is himself destroyed or lost? —Luke 9:25

Everyone who knew him agreed he smelled like success. He had made his mark in his field and was known in the community for his impressive gifts. He accomplished so much because of time management.

He had his priorities: “God, family, and business”—not necessarily in that order, but they all had their place. His family recognized his schedule and dutifully fit into it.

He had time for God too. Once a day he read a brief devotional—”God’s 60 seconds,” he called it. On Sunday, God got a whole hour.

A secretary protected his time. No one saw him without an appointment. No one, until . . . “I’m sorry; he can’t be disturbed. He’s in conference.”

Although she didn’t know it, she was right. He was in conference. God didn’t have an appointment, but He had crashed in anyway. What’s more, He had set the agenda for the meeting.

“Loving husband . . . good provider . . . Christian benefactor” were some of the phrases spoken at the funeral.

But God said, “Fool!”

We can make the most of our time, yet ignore eternity. We can let the passing dominate the permanent. And we can do it all on a very tight schedule.By Haddon W. Robinson

You've time to build houses and in them to dwell,
And time to do business—to buy and to sell,
But none for repentance or deep earnest prayer;
To seek your salvation you've no time to spare. —Anon.

Without a right view of eternity, we cannot know the real value of time.

Life's Final Deadline Read: Luke 12:16-21 

Prepare to meet your God. —Amos 4:12

We’re all confronted with deadlines! Bills must be paid, licenses renewed, tax returns filed—the list goes on and on.

One deadline we all face is of supreme importance, however. The Bible says, “It is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment” (Heb. 9:27).

Except for believers who are living when Jesus returns (1 Th. 4:16-17), everyone will die. And all people from the beginning of history will stand before God in judgment. How foolish to neglect the preparation necessary for this inevitable accounting!

In Luke 12, Jesus told a parable of a rich man who planned to build bigger barns to store all his earthly goods so that he could live out his days in pleasure and ease. But God unexpectedly announced, “Fool! This night your soul will be required of you” (Lk. 12:20). His ultimate deadline had arrived.

Are you ready to meet God? If you’ve never received Christ as your personal Savior, do so without delay! Believe that He shed His blood on the cross to forgive your sins, and that He conquered death by rising from the grave. Ask Him to save you. Then you can face life’s final deadline with confidence! By Richard DeHaan 

Life is uncertain,
Death is sure;
Sin the cause,
Christ the cure. —Anon.

Don't wait till the 11th hour to repent—you may die at 10:30!

Luke 12:21  "So is the man who stores up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God."

KJV Luke 12:21 So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.


Bock points out the application of the parable first noting that "The parable does not condemn planning or wealth per se. Rather, Jesus’ complaint is against the person who takes wealth and directs it totally toward the self....Pilgrim (1981: 112) sees three errors: (1) hoarding one’s possessions, (2) assuming that life can be secured and measured by possessions, and (3) regarding property as one’s own."

Spurgeon - “He that layeth up treasure for himself.” That was the chief point of this man’s wrong-doing, his selfishness. His charity began at home, and ended there; he lived only for himself.

So is the man who stores up treasure for himself - These words are the essence of selfishness, which describes the attitude of heart tht is concerned chiefly or only with yourself and your advantage to the exclusion of others. It is all about self. And when all is said and done all self has is self and selfishness to be contemplated for eternity where selfish desires will never be met! Don't be like the rich fool! Paul gives us the antidote for our natural, flesh driven selfishness

Instruct them to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, 19 storing up for themselves the treasure of a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is life indeed.  (1 Ti 6:18-19)

NET Note - It is selfishness that is rebuked here, in the accumulation of riches for himself. Recall the emphasis on the first person pronouns throughout the parable. 

Wiersbe - the greatest tragedy is not what the man left behind but what lay before him: eternity without God! The man lived without God and died without God, and his wealth was but an incident in his life. God is not impressed with our money. (Ibid)

Spurgeon - Here our Saviour shows us the frail nature of the tenure upon which we hold all earthly goods, and how it is not worth while to make these the chief things of our life; for, while they may leave us, we are quite sure by-and- by, to have to leave them.

Stores up treasure (2343)(theaurizo from thesaurós = a treasure, that which is deposited = place where something is kept. English = thesaurus, a treasury of words) means of keep some material thing (especially things of great value) safe by storing it. To store or treasure up goods for future use. Theaurizo means to do something that will bring about a future event or condition. The present tense indicates treasuring up treasure was his continual lifelong activity!

Lest we be like this fool we all need to hear and heed the words of Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount where He used the same verb theaurizo to explain an "investment strategy" which will guarantee the highest yield (and forever!)…

"Do not lay up present imperative with a negative = command to stop action already in process) for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. (The saying is true… You can't take it with you!) "But lay up (present imperative = make this the habit of your life! Don't be stingy! The only way to keep this continually is to continually filled with the Holy Spirit! Eph 5:18-note) for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal (see notes on Matthew 6:19-20)

See  related topics:

Not rich toward God - Here is the point of the parable - As the rich fool discovered you can't take it with you. But you can send it on ahead, by investing in God's kingdom work. Where are you investing your money? We should focus not on earthly riches but heavenly riches. Store up an abundant "harvest" in heaven where moth and rust do not destroy and thief does no break in to steal, for where you treasure is, there is your heart (cf Mt 6:19-21).

Inrig - In the moment of truth, the wealthy farmer realizes that he has worked so hard for so little. He has invested in the passing, not in the permanent. What makes death hard is the evaluation of what we lose by it. This is a man who is leaving everything behind—the barns he has built, the people he has controlled, the prestige he has acquired. Death strips him bare and reveals him for who he is, a man who “stores up things for himself but is not rich toward God.” That last statement forces us to sober reflection. Am I a fool in God’s eyes? What label would He attach to my life? Jim Elliot’s familiar words merit careful consideration: “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.” (Ibid)

Keathley - The rich man made at least four mistakes:

1. The rich man made the mistake of thinking he was the owner of his stuff when he was just a steward. We are just stewards of our stuff.

2. He was worried about the present and forgot about eternity.

3. He was concerned only for the physical and forgot about spiritual things.

4. He treasured stuff more than people. He lived an isolated life

This parable tells us how to define life. Most people define life in terms of material possessions, physical fitness or the future. This parable speaks loudly to our generation. Have you been defining life in your career, your house, your stock portfolio, in terms of what you can do physically, or the assumption that you will live much longer? What is going to happen when you lose one or more of those things? What happens when you get laid off? What happens when the stock market crashes? What happens when you get some disease which takes away your physical ability. What happens when you find out you only have six months to live? If you define life in these things, you will be devastated. Having possessions is not wrong, it is putting your security in them that is wrong. The rich man is not condemned for being rich. He is condemned for being self-centered, for not using his surplus to help others, for leaving God out of his life. (Ibid)

Inrig - The crucial issue in life is not the amount of our treasure, but the location of it. The rich man’s treasures were on earth. He was a fool because he built his life around what couldn’t last and what really didn’t matter. The disciple’s call is to be rich toward God, with a treasure in heaven that will not be exhausted.

D. L. Moody once said, “It does not take long to tell where a man’s treasure is. In fifteen minutes’ conversation with most men, you can tell whether their treasures are on earth or in heaven.” (Woe! Are you as convicted as I am?)

No one wants to be called a fool by God. How do we make sure that doesn’t happen? We can choose limits, not luxury, so our treasure can be invested in heaven. We can cultivate compassion, not greed. Most of all, we can pursue confidence in God, not money. On our money we Americans print the slogan “In God we trust.” Fine words—but do we trust God on our money or with our money?

Writing of his slim financial resources in a time of escalating needs, a friend said, “If we find ourselves sinking, we will not cry ‘uncle.’ Instead, we will cry out ‘Father’ to the One who knows all our needs and possesses all resources.” Such a person has learned the wisdom of God.

A Wealth Of Poverty Read: Luke 12:16-21

Lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven. —Matthew 6:20

A band of gangsters in France got away with more than $3.5 million. But the thieves had a problem. The loot was in French coins worth only about $2 each and weighing a total of 17 tons!

A Paris newspaper taunted the bandits with this statement: “You can’t buy a chateau, a car, or even a pair of crocodile shoes with bags of change. And if you go out to celebrate your coup, the owner of the smallest cafe will become suspicious before you drop the tenth coin on the counter.” The article continued, “Their punishment is included in their success. They will have to spend their loot franc by franc. They can buy millions of bottles of soft drinks. But what else?”

Those robbers had what might be called a wealth of poverty. Although they were rich, they couldn’t spend their money for anything worthwhile.

Their situation reminds me of people who spend a lifetime accumulating things while making no provision for eternity. They have material wealth but are spiritually poor.

How much better to heed Jesus’ words: “Lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal” (Mt. 6:20). Anything else is just a wealth of poverty.By Richard DeHaan

The poorest person is one whose only wealth is money.

Buried Toys: Luke 12:16-21

Have you ever seen this bumper sticker?


It’s a sad statement. For anyone living by that philosophy, death is the greatest of all tragedies. At that point, everything he’s lived for is gone.

Angus and Emma Brower, missionaries with whom I became acquainted in the early 1950s, did not look at life that way. With most of their support coming from one small church, they had no luxuries. They were effective missionaries, but they were so unpretentious that they were not well-known. They owned little of material value, and they didn’t care. A friend told me that in recent years they have been living in a retirement village, and their highest priority continues to be to please the Lord. Jesus told a parable about a man who spent his life accumulating more and more wealth but had no time for God (Lk. 12:16-21). He was rich in life but bankrupt in death. Death cannot rob people like the Browers of their true riches. Instead, it brings them into their indescribably glorious inheritance of the treasure they have waiting for them in heaven (v.33).By Herbert Vander Lugt 

Where’s your treasure?

Things of the world often pull at my heart,
But, Lord, help me see the end from the start;
Open my eyes to where my life's going,
What I will reap from all I've been sowing. —K. De Haan

Invest your life in what pays eternal dividends.

Misplaced Treasure - Luke 12:13-21

Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. —Matthew 6:21

I once read about a man who bought a luxurious house and filled it with expensive and impressive furnishings. After taking a friend on a tour through the mansion’s many spacious rooms, the owner asked proudly, “Well, what do you think of it?” He expected to hear lavish praise, so he was stunned when his guest replied, “It is magnificent; but to be perfectly frank, things like this make a deathbed terrible.”

In the parable of the rich farmer (Lk. 12:16-21), Jesus told about a man who thought riches could satisfy his soul (v.19). But God called him a fool, and said, “This night your soul will be required of you; then whose will those things be which you have provided?” (v.20).

If we cherish this world’s goods so much that the prospect of heaven loses its attraction, we can be sure that the earthly has become more valuable to us than the heavenly. The “treasure” we possess is misplaced.

Jesus said, “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Mt. 6:21).

May the enjoyment of our temporal possessions never diminish the appeal of the eternal. Earth’s affluence is poverty when compared to the glories of eternal life with God.By Richard DeHaan

If we live for wealth and fame,
We'll bring dishonor to Christ's name;
But truth and light will flood our soul
When we pursue a heavenly goal. —DJD

Invest your life in what pays eternal dividends.

Throughout history, much has been written about happiness and contentment.

  • Two thousand years ago, Lucius Seneca wrote, "It is not the man who has too little, but the man who craves more, who is poor." 
  • Fred Allen said, "I don't want to own anything that won't fit into my coffin." 
  • Someone else wrote, "Half the world is unhappy because it can't have the things that are making the other half unhappy." 
  • Steve Brown put it this way, "The most unhappy person in the world is not someone who didn't get what he or she wanted. The most unhappy person is the one who got what he or she wanted and then found out that it wasn't as wonderful as they expected." 

Beloved, the secret of a happy life and contentment is not getting what you want but living with contentment with what you already have. Most people spend their lives concentrating on what they don't have instead of thanking God for what they do have. They think that life consists of what you possess. When they finally wake up, their life is over, and they have missed the beauty of the present.

Those who covet are like the bird, the oyster catcher. They lay two to three eggs, but will desert their nest for one that has four eggs if it is undefended by the parents. They are also attracted to larger eggs and will desert their nest for a nest that has larger eggs. They will even try to incubate eggs they cannot straddle. These birds are a fitting illustration of people not content with their present provisions. They are always wanting more or what is bigger. (Mattoon)

HOW TO BE TRULY SUCCESSFUL: A very rich man, who had run after the things of the world and had overtaken them, lay dying. He was visited by the daughter of a friend with whom he had been associated in early youth, but who had left their profitable business to serve Christ. Now he too was dying but with great peace of mind and holy confidence. "You may wonder why I cannot be as happy and quiet as he," said the unsaved millionaire, "but just think of the difference between us. He is going to his treasure and I — I must leave mine!"

One who feels wretched and defeated cannot be considered successful regardless of how much wealth he may have amassed, or how many honors may have been heaped upon him. Nor can any person be termed "successful" if he has lived his life with-out God. I can think of some very happy people who never acquired wealth or fame. An elderly couple I know are still deeply in love with each other and radiate spiritual joy. They have four children, all married and in full-time Christian service. They are truly successful!

Some men will risk anything, will lie, cheat, and traffic in all sorts of dishonesty and immorality in order to obtain that illusive will-o'-the-wisp called fame!

Joseph Stowell - MORE OF CHRIST - “What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul? or what can a man give in exchange for his soul?” —Mark 8:36–37 Jesus calls us to be “rich toward God” (Luke 12:21), but in a world obsessed with acquiring more, we are prone to live for the riches of our present world. Our concerns are intensified by mounting stacks of bills and the shrinking balance in our checkbook. Yet Paul teaches us that “godliness with contentment is great gain” (1 Timothy 6:6 KJV). To watch our lives you would think he had said that godliness with gain would make us content. It’s easy to see ourselves in Luke 12:13. As the crowd moved along with Jesus, a man who no doubt had strained to catch Jesus’ attention catches Christ’s eyes and blurts out, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.” Imagine having the opportunity to talk to Christ. You might expect that this man would have chosen some serious theme to probe the depths of Christ’s claims. He could have talked with the Savior about deep realities of life and eternity. He could have asked Jesus to bless his frail humanity. Instead, he asked for wealth—for his piece of the pie. He is Exhibit A of how easy it is to be obsessed with consumption. Jesus’ answer was honest and profound: “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions” (Lk 12:15). Jesus said the same thing in Mark 8:36–37: “What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul?” There is something far more important than the more of this world: It is more of Jesus Christ. In Him alone we find true wealth and full contentment. The focus of our contentment needs to be our confidence in Christ, that He is aware of and will supply our needs, and that if we have Him, we have enough. Do you treasure Jesus and His gifts more than earthly gain? How does it show in your life? (Strength for the Journey)

Gotquestions - The Parable of the Rich Fool can be found in Luke 12:13–21. The key to understanding this parable is in verse 15 (and later summarized in verse 21). Luke 12:15 says, “Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” Jesus says this to the man who asked Him to arbitrate between him and his brother. In ancient times, the firstborn was guaranteed a double portion of the family inheritance. More than likely, the brother who was addressing Jesus was not the firstborn and was asking for an equal share of the inheritance. Jesus refuses to arbitrate their dispute and gets to the heart of the matter: Covetousness! Jesus warns this person, and all within earshot, that our lives are not to be about gathering wealth. Life is so much more than the “abundance of possessions.”

Jesus proceeds to tell the man the Parable of the Rich Fool. This person was materially blessed by God; his land “produced plentifully” (verse 16). As God continued to bless the man, instead of using his increase to further the will of God, all he was interested in was managing his increase and accumulating his growing wealth. So the man builds larger barns in place of the existing ones and starts planning an early retirement. Unbeknownst to him, this was his last night on planet earth. Jesus then closes the story by saying, “So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God.”

So the point of the Parable of the Rich Fool is twofold. First, we are not to devote our lives to the gathering and accumulation of wealth. There is an interesting point made in the parable. God says to the man in the story, “And the things you have prepared, whose will they be?” This echoes the thought expressed in Ecclesiastes 2:18 (“I hated all my toil in which I toil under the sun, seeing that I must leave it to the man who will come after me”). You see it all the time in people who are singularly devoted to the accumulation of wealth. What happens to all that wealth when they die? It gets left behind to others who didn’t earn it and won’t appreciate it. Furthermore, if money is your master, that means God is not (Matthew 6:24).

The second point of the Parable of the Rich Fool is the fact that we are not blessed by God to hoard our wealth to ourselves. We are blessed to be a blessing in the lives of others, and we are blessed to build the kingdom of God. The Bible says if our riches increase, we are not to set our hearts upon them (Psalm 62:10). The Bible also says there is one who gives freely and grows all the richer (Proverbs 11:24). Finally, the Bible says we are to honor God with the first fruits of our increase (Proverbs 3:9–10). The point is clear; if we honor God with what He has given us, He will bless with more so that we can honor Him with more. There is a passage in 2 Corinthians that summarizes this aptly (2 Corinthians 9:6–15). In that passage Paul says, “And God is able to provide you with every blessing in abundance, so that having all contentment in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work.” We are blessed by God, so we can in turn “abound in every good work” and be a blessing in the lives of others. So, if God has blessed you with material wealth “set not your heart on it” and “be rich toward God.” That is the message of the Parable of the Rich Fool. (Gotquestions)

Luke 12:22  And He said to His disciples, "For this reason I say to you, do not worry about your life, as to what you will eat; nor for your body, as to what you will put on.

KJV Luke 12:22 And he said unto his disciples, Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat; neither for the body, what ye shall put on.

Similar passages - Matt. 6:19–21, 25–34; 19:21; Mark 10:21; Luke 11:41; 18:22

For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; (phrase added by Matthew) nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? (Mt 6:25)


J C Ryle on this next section Luke 12:22-31 - We have in these verses a collection of striking arguments against over-anxiety about the things of this world. At first sight they may seem to some minds simple and common place. But the more they are pondered, the more weighty will they appear. An abiding recollection of them would save many Christians an immense amount of trouble.

Bock - Jesus continues to discuss trust with his disciples, trust for daily provision. He has warned the people with him of the dangers of putting their trust in possessions. Now he turns to his disciples and instructs them on where their trust should be placed (Luke 12:22–32)

Leon Morris - From the sins of greed and selfishness Jesus turns to that of worry, which in a way is connected with the other two. ‘Greed can never get enough, worry is afraid it may not have enough’ (Arndt). Wealth can represent a danger to those who do not have it as well as to those who do. Jesus emphasizes the importance of trust in God and detachment from things. (TNTC-Luke)

William MacDonald - One of the great dangers in the Christian life is that the acquisition of food and clothing becomes the first and foremost aim of our existence. We become so occupied with earning money for these things that the work of the Lord is relegated to a secondary place. The emphasis of the NT is that the cause of Christ should have first place in our lives. Food and clothing should be subordinate. We should work hard for the supply of our current necessities, then trust God for the future as we plunge ourselves into His service. This is the life of faith. (Ibid)

Spurgeon - Have no anxious, carking care. Do not be looking after the inferior things, and neglecting your soul. Take care of your soul; your body will take care of itself better than your soul can. The raiment for the body will come in due time; but the clothing for the soul is the all-important matter. Therefore, see to that.

And He said to His disciples - This group included the inner 12 but also others who had believed in Him, and others who were undecided (cf Lk 12:41). A lack of anxiety about basic daily needs is to characterize the disciple. 

His Disciples (learners)(3101) (mathetes from manthano = to learn which Vine says is "from a root math, indicating thought accompanied by endeavor". Gives us our English = "mathematics") describes a person who learns from another by instruction, whether formal or informal. Discipleship includes the idea of one who intentionally learns by inquiry and observation (cf inductive Bible study) and thus mathetes is more than a mere pupil. A mathetes describes an adherent of a teacher. 

For this reason term of conclusion. Whenever you encounter a term of conclusion consider the "5P's" - Pause to Ponder the Passage then Practice it in the Power of the Spirit

Kent Hughes says "The preceding parable about the folly of the rich fool's greed is intimately connected with the following text, which deals with worry. "Greed can never get enough, worry is afraid it may not have enough." (quote from Leon Morris) Worry is the emotional reward of material preoccupation. Jesus understood that worry about the things of life could undo a disciple's career." (Preaching the Word - Luke, Volume II: That You May Know the Truth)

MacArthur on for this reason -The phrase for this reason connects what Jesus was about to say with what He had just said. He had confronted His hearers with a choice. They could, like the foolish man in the parable, store up treasure on earth. Or they could be rich toward God and store up treasure in heaven (Lk 12:21; cf. Matt. 6:19–21-note).

What had He just stated? He given them the choice between the rich fool who stores up for himself treasure on earth and the truly rich person who stores up treasure in heaven. He had stated the same truth in Matthew

“No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth. (Mt 6:24-note).

Steven Cole - The old King James Version translated Jesus’ command in verse 22, “Take no thought,” which some have mistakenly taken to mean that we should not devote any mental effort or time or energy into providing for our future needs. These people would say that we should not store up any savings for the future, we should not buy insurance, we should not concern ourselves at all with money matters. Just trust God and He will provide.But in 1611 when the King James Bible was translated, the phrase, “take no thought,” meant, “don’t worry” or be anxious. The Lord was not encouraging a lazy, who-cares attitude about money. In fact, Scripture enjoins us to pay attention to financial matters (Prov. 27:23-24). While God provides for the birds, He doesn’t plop the worms in their mouths as they sit in their nests! They have to exert some effort to obtain the worms that God has provided. So here Jesus was speaking against inordinate, consuming, distracting worry.

Bruce makes a stinging but true comment that "You can be as unfaithful to God through care as well as through covetousness.” (Woe!)

Guzik - There is a difference between a godly sense of responsibility and an ungodly, untrusting worry. However, an ungodly, untrusting sense of worry usually masquerades as responsibility.

Spurgeon - The best cure for the cares of this life is to care much to please God. If we loved him better, we should love the world far less, and be less troubled about our portion in it.

Do not worry about your life - Why did he say this? Because they were like all of us, so prone to worry about our earthly life. This is a command in the present imperative with a negative which means "Stop being worried." Or "Don't begin to worry." Stop fretting, being weighed down with cares, being distracted and distressed, being troubled. Clearly God's will for His children is not to worry which is an important truth to recall to your mind, for whatever God wills (His desire is we do not worry and fret), He always enables by His grace and His Spirit.

There is a subtle distinction between worry and concern, for whereas worry tends to "paralyze" us and decreases initiative, genuine concern tends to motivate us to take the initiative. Worry fears the worse and tries to control the future, whereas godly concern hopes for the best and redeems the future. Worry does not give God the glory due Him (Mt 5:16-note) and tends to take our mind off of the things that are important, whereas genuine concern tends to direct our focus to those things that are truly important. A good antidote for present worry is to maintain a "future focus", continually contemplating the things above (Col 3:1-note, Col 3:2-note) and the things to come, especially our blessed future hope (Titus 2:13-note). "Amid fret and worry a hope of heaven is an effectual balm." (Spurgeon) See discussion of this spiritual dynamic I like to call "Vertical Vision."

Barclay - Jesus had something to say to those who had few possessions. In all this passage the thought which Jesus forbids is anxious thought or worry. Jesus never ordered any man to live in a shiftless, thriftless, reckless way. What he did tell a man was to do his best and then leave the rest to God.

About your life - Or "about your soul" Life is the Greek word psuche which Mattoon says is "comprehensive term that encompasses all of a person's entire being, which include his physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health. Jesus is referring to life in its fullest possible sense. Absolutely nothing in any aspect of our lives, internal or external, justifies our worry and anxiousness when we have the Lord in our heart."

Notice that this word merimnao occurs 3 times in this section (Lk 12:22, 25, 26), which places strong emphasis on Jesus' instruction about worrying. We need to hear and heed His word of truth on anxiety and worry. 

Worry (be anxious)(3309)(merimnao from merimna = anxious care from meris = part, in turn from and verb merizo = to distract, to divide, to draw different directions - which is exactly what anxiety does to most of us!) expresses a strong feeling for something or someone, often to the point of being burdened. Although this can be a "positive" concern, in most of the NT uses it refers to an anxious concern, based on apprehension about possible danger or misfortune, and so it means to be worried about, to be anxious about, to be apprehensive (viewing the future with anxiety or alarm), to be unduly concerned, to be burdened with anxious care or cumbered with many cares and in simple terms to worry.

Mattoon adds that "This word was used in classical Greek to describe a condition of being raised up or suspended in air, like a person dangling from a rope tied to a tree. This word was used to describe a person who felt totally insecure and swinging out of control. God's people are not to be gripped by insecurity." (Merimnao) means "to divide, to cut into pieces, to divide into parties, to be pulled in different directions, or be split into factions." This is what worry does to a person. Our goals and desires pull us in one direction and our worries and fears pull us in another. Worry distracts people and cuts them into emotional pieces, like a chef slicing away at a cucumber. Did you know that people have done studies to try to determine the most dangerous day of the week for a heart attack? What day of the week is considered the most dangerous for an attack? Research has found that the most dangerous day for heart attacks is Monday. When a person worries, their peace of mind and ability to focus on the right things is chopped up. Instead of keeping their eyes on the Lord, they focus on things that cannot satisfy. In fact, the average person crucifies himself between two thieves: 1) the regrets of yesterday, 2) the worries of tomorrow. Let me say here that Jesus is not forbidding proper attention to these material needs but is forbidding improper attention. It is not ordinary, prudent foresight that Jesus forbids in this verse. Our Lord is not advocating a shiftless, thriftless, reckless, thoughtless, improvident, lazy attitude to life. He is forbidding a care-worn, worried fear, which takes all the joy out of life. He is not forbidding foresight but He is forbidding foreboding or worry. Christ is not teaching here that we are not to think about and take proper action regarding food and clothes. It is the inordinate, consuming concern about these things that is forbidden. We must eat to live and we certainly need to be clothed, but it is possible to get so anxious, so consumed and fretful about these things that we take our eyes, attention, and interests off the more important matter of our spiritual needs and relationship with the Lord

Related Resource:

Worry has a fascinating etymology summarized below

Worrying may shorten one's life, but not as quickly as it once did. The ancestor of our word, Old English wyrgan, meant “to strangle.” (Ed note: Isn't this what worry does to our joy?)

Its Middle English descendant, worien, kept this sense and developed the new sense “to grasp by the throat with the teeth and lacerate” or “to kill or injure by biting and shaking.” This is the way wolves or dogs might attack sheep, for example.

In the 16th century worry began to be used in the sense “to harass, as by rough treatment or attack,” or “to assault verbally,” and in the 17th century the word took on the sense “to bother, distress, or persecute.” It was a small step from this sense to the main modern senses “to cause to feel anxious or distressed” and “to feel troubled or uneasy,” first recorded in the 19th century. (American Heritage Dictionary)

Worry... a small thing a big shadow the interest we pay on tomorrow's troubles.

...over tomorrow pulls shadows over today's sunshine. like a rocking chair; it will give you something to do, but it won't get you anywhere. an indication that we think God cannot look after us. (O. Chambers) putting question marks where God has put periods. (J R Rice) the interest we pay on tomorrow’s troubles. (E S Jones) an intrusion into God's providence. (J Haggai) a guest admitted which quickly turns to master.

... never robs tomorrow of its sorrow, it only saps today of its strength (A J Cronin)

... is the interest paid by those who borrow trouble (G W Lyon) practical atheism and an affront to God (R. H. Mounce)

June Hunt writes that...

Worry shifts the focus of attention from the all sufficient power of Christ (cp 2Co 12:9-note) to your human insufficiency and insecurity (cp 2Co 3:5, 6). Ultimately, worry can undermine your Christian witness by presenting God as impotent and unworthy of praise....

A specific characteristic of worry is a negative focus on the future. If you are a worrier, you are spending time speculating on what may or may not happen and then fearing the worst. (Biblical Counseling Keys - Worry: The Joy Stealer)

Quotes on Worry:

  • Worry is a small trickle of fear that meanders through the mind until it cuts a channel into which all other thoughts are drained.
  • Winston Churchill said:  Worry is an emotional spasm which occurs when the mind catches hold of something and will not let it go.
  • A church sign said:  Worry is the darkroom where negatives are developed.
  • George Washington reportedly said:  Worry is the interest paid by those who borrow trouble.
  • Worry is today’s mice nibbling on tomorrow’s cheese.
  • Worry is a complete cycle of inefficient thought revolving around a pivot of fear.
  • The American physician, Charles Mayo, called worry the disease of doubt.  He said it affects the circulation, the heart, the glands, the whole nervous system.  I have never known a man who died from overwork, but many who have died from doubt.
  • But the great Christian leader, George Müller, knew the antidote:  Many times when I could have gone insane from worry, I was at peace because my soul believed the truth of God’s promises.

Ray Pritchard writes that

Worry is excessive concern over the affairs of life. The key obviously is the word "excessive." Worry happens when you are so concerned about the problems of life that you can think of nothing else. It is an all-consuming feeling of uncertainty and fear. And it is a sin. Worry is a sin for two reasons: First, because it displaces God in your life. When you commit the sin of worry, you are living as though God did not exist. And you are living as though you alone can solve your problems. Second, because it distracts you from the things that really matter in life. As long as you are worrying, you can't do anything else. You are strangled by worry.

But how can we tell when the legitimate concerns of life have become sinful worries? Here are three practical guidelines. You are probably well into worry...

1. When the thing you are concerned about is the first thing you think about in the morning and the last thing you think about at night.

2. When you find yourself thinking about it during every spare moment.

3. When you find yourself bringing it up in every conversation you have.

Seen in that light, most of us worry a lot more than we would like to admit! (Three Things Not To Worry About ) (Bolding added)

Someone has written that worry is a small trickle of fear that meanders through the mind until it cuts a channel into which all other thoughts are drained.

Illustration of how worry affects one's sleep...

Today if you visit Thomas Carlyle’s famous home in London, they will show you an almost soundproof chamber that Carlyle had built so the noise of the street could be shut out and he could work in silence. One of his neighbors, however, kept a rooster that several times in the night and in the early morning gave way to vigorous self-expression. When Carlyle protested to the owner of the rooster, the man pointed out to him that the rooster crowed only three times in the night, and that after all could not be such a terrible annoyance. “But,” Carlyle said to him, “if you only knew what I suffer waiting for that rooster to crow!” (Clarence Macartney, Macartney’s Illustrations Nashville: Abingdon, 1945)

Worry and anxiety is the plague of our modern age as observed by Time magazine (in 1961) which said...

Not merely the black statistics of murder, suicide, alcoholism, and divorce betray anxiety … but almost any innocent everyday act: the limp or overhearty handshake, the second pack of cigarettes or the third martini, the forgotten appointment, the stammer in mid-sentence, the wasted hour before the TV set, the spanked child, the new car unpaid for. (Time Magazine, March 31, 1961)

Mattoon - It is interesting to note that the cares of this world, or worries, "choke" the Word. In fact, the word "worry" originally meant "to choke." The English word "worry" comes from a German word wurgjan which produced the word wugen, which means "to choke, strangle, seize by the throat with the teeth." Like a lion that suffocates its prey by clamping its teeth on its throat, worry goes for our throat, too. It will destroy us, if we do not conquer it. Beloved, God wants us to trust Him to take care of us and to be content with what we already have in our lives lest we be strangled and choked by our worries. Worry is a kind of mental and emotional strangulation, which probably causes more mental and physical afflictions than any other single cause. It has been reported that a dense fog extensive enough to cover seven city blocks, a hundred-feet deep, is composed of less than one glass of water that is divided into millions of droplets. In the right form, a few gallons of water can cripple a large city. In a similar way, the substance of worry is almost always small compared to the size it forms in our minds and the damage it does in our lives. Someone put it this way, "Worry is a thin stream of fear that trickles through the mind, which, if encouraged, will cut a channel so wide that all other thoughts will be drained out." Yes, worry is draining and distracting. It will flush the joy out of your life. Because of its importance, we are consumed with the need for food and clothing. Taking care of the body has always been a common obsession with men. Even when we are not starving, thirsty, or naked, we still give an inordinate amount of attention to our bodies.

ILLUSTRATION - We spend too much time worrying about things such as clothes, food, health, money and we tend to ignore things with eternal significance. Worry will cause a person to not relax and be at rest. For example, Frank Sinatra's daughter Tina recalls her father's unceasing drive to succeed and make money, even when his health was at risk. She278 said that he constantly worried about money and getting more of it. Here is what she shared: His health was in tatters and his life mired in financial wrangles, but my father refused to stop giving concerts. "I've just got to earn more money," he said. His performances, sad to say, were becoming more and more uneven. Uncertain of his memory, he became dependent on TelePrompters. When I saw him at Desert Inn in Las Vegas, he struggled through the show and felt so sick at the end that he needed oxygen from a tank that he kept on hand. At another show he forgot the lyrics to songs he had sung a thousand times. I couldn't bear to see Dad struggle. I remembered all the times he repeated the old boxing maxim "You gotta get out before you hit the mat." He wanted to retire at the top of his game, and I always thought he would know when his time came, but pushing 80, he lost track of when to quit. After seeing one too many of these fiascos, I told him, "Pop, you can stop now; you don't have to stay on the road." With a stricken expression he said, "No, I've got to earn more money. I have to make sure everyone is taken care of." Unfortunately, since his death, there have been constant family wrangles over his fortune. (Mattoon)

Gary Inrig - Luke makes it very clear that this section is addressed not to the crowd but to the disciples. There is an implication here that worry is one of the besetting sins of Christ-followers. The reason is not hard to discover. The terms of discipleship are demanding. To obey the call is to trust Christ completely, but what are the implications of that obedience? Financial questions also loom large. If I say good-bye to all my possessions, will the Lord really meet my needs? My head assures me that He will; my heart is not quite so certain. “An anxious heart weighs a man down” (Proverbs 12:25). Physically, this is so. As someone has observed, people get ulcers not so much from what they eat as from what eats them. Anxiety also steals emotional peace and removes spiritual assurance.
Worry is not the presence of appropriate concern for life’s responsibilities. Rather, it is undue care, exaggerated concern. Although the Lord illustrates His words by making a comparison to birds who work but neither worry nor plan, He is not asking us to live on the level of the birds. The people to whom the Lord is speaking know what it is to scramble for life’s necessities. Life was hard in biblical Palestine, roughly equivalent to peasant life in a Third World country today. The needs of life did not fall into their hands accidently, nor were they delivered by a benevolent government. The old King James translation, “Take no thought for your life,” seriously misrepresents the verb the Lord uses. He is not calling for thoughtlessness or the absence of appropriate concern. The sense of the word is beautifully illustrated in the complaint of Martha to Jesus about her sister Mary’s lack of assistance. Martha, we read, “was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made” (Luke 10:40). She was totally unable to enjoy the Lord’s presence because her mind was divided by other responsibilities. (The Greek word for worry literally means “to divide the mind.” The Latin root of our word anxiety is angere, “to choke, be in distress.”) So Jesus’ words to her are “Martha, Martha, you are worried and upset about many things.” Anxiety is the emotional distraction and distress that comes from allowing the duties and the unknowns of life to absorb and control us.
Telling us not to worry isn’t very helpful. People who tell us that usually seem either unrealistic, uninformed, or patronizing. The Lord forces us to think about why we are not to worry. First, He tells us that worry is foolish (Lk 12:22-24). It is falling into the folly of the rich fool who believed that his life consisted of his possessions. But life is more than food and clothes, and God has promised us that He will care for us, much more so than He does for His creatures, the birds. To worry is foolishly to forget who we are—God’s valued children, and who He is—our loving Father. Second, worry is futile (Lk 12:25-28). Worry can shorten life, but it can’t lengthen it—and God who gives beauty to the fields will not strip us bare. Anxiety denies the care of God, and all to no effect. So the alternative is not to be “care-less” but “trust-full.” A little bit of reflection helps us to recognize that most worry is about things that can’t be changed (the past), things that can’t be controlled (the present), or things that might not happen (the future). How much better to entrust ourselves to our God! Third, worry is faithless (Lk 12:29-31). To be absorbed with physical and personal needs is ultimately to be captured by unbelief. If the gospel is really true, our lives should be different qualitatively from the lives of pagans.

In his book Run Today’s Race, Oswald Chambers observes that “all of our fret and worry is caused by calculating without God.” Worry is the product of an inadequate understanding of our Father. He is the One who knows, cares, and acts. The way we look at God determines the way we will look at life, and this will determine what we worry about. Our great need is to worry about the right thing. What is that? “Seek his kingdom.” We do not refrain from worrying. We replace concern about secondary things with concern about the primary thing. Only His kingdom is worthy of our ultimate concern.

The Siamese twin of anxiety is fear, and the Lord addresses fear in Lk 12:32-34. He calls us to take drastic action with our financial resources and personal possessions. We are not to grasp them or trust them. We are rather to dispose of them by investing them eternally. In fact, the only way we can truly protect our treasures is to invest them in heaven. Our hearts follow our treasure, and if our treasure is in heaven, so will our hearts be. As David Gooding writes, “Heaven is scarcely a reality to a man who is not prepared to invest hard cash in it and in its interests; but by that same token it becomes more of a reality to the man who is” (According to Luke, p. 241).

Our Tomorrows—Luke 12:22

While we wouldn’t want to argue with Jesus, we may sometimes wonder if His words about worry are realistic (Luke 12:22). After all, shouldn’t we be concerned about tomorrow? Suppose we get laid off from work? Get sick? Isn’t fear that we won’t have bread and threads and shelter one of the strongest fears we have?

No words in any language can produce more anxiety than the question, “What if?” As we mutter them, we begin to imagine one bad possibility, then another, and then both bad possibilities together. We don’t think about the fact that our needs have always been met in the past and that we have enough for today. There is always that uneasy dread that tomorrow our well may run dry.

While it is certainly wise to plan for the future, the imagined thirst of tomorrow, even though our well is full today, is one thirst that is unquenchable. Jesus taught that worrying about the future is futile. We shouldn’t be traumatized by what might happen or by what might be required of us. The imaginary need of tomorrow is one need that God cannot meet.

If God has given us food and drink enough for today, why not let Him worry about our tomorrows? By Haddon W. Robinson

Each day we learn from yesterday
Of God's great love and care;
And every burden we must face
He'll surely help us bear. —D. De Haan

Worry is interest paid on trouble before it comes due.

Birds, Lilies, And Me —Luke 12:22

In the episodes of an old television show, the veteran police lieutenant always said this to the young officers on their way out to the street for their day’s assignments: “Be careful out there!” It was both good advice and a word of compassion because he knew what could happen to them in the line of duty.

Jesus gave His followers a similar warning, but in even stronger terms. Luke 11 ends ominously with these words: “The scribes and the Pharisees began to assail Him vehemently, and to cross-examine Him about many things” (v.53). In the continuation of this account, Luke says that Jesus compassionately instructed His disciples to “beware” (12:1) but not to worry or be afraid (vv.4-7,22).

Jesus was promising to guard, protect, and care for them as they went out into the world. He assured them that because He cared for simple things like birds and lilies, they could be certain that He would take care of His “little flock” of believers (vv.24-32).

We cannot know the future. But we can know this: No matter what comes, we are under the loving, caring, watchful eye of our great Shepherd, who also happens to be the Son of God! By David C. Egner

 I walked life’s path with worry,
Disturbed and quite unblest,
Until I trusted Jesus;
Now faith has given rest. —Bosch  

  If Jesus is concerned about flowers and birds, He certainly cares about you and me.  

Luke 12:23  "For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing.

KJV Luke 12:23 The life is more than meat, and the body is more than raiment.


For (gar) - term of explanation. Consider the "5P's" - Pause to Ponder the Passage then Practice it in the Power of the Spirit. What is Jesus explaining? What has He just instructed them not to do? Clearly He is explaining why they did not need to worry. 

Bock adds that "The reasons for having an absence of anxiety follow in Lk 12:23–28. The point is not asceticism, but a life lived with an eye to God, as he meets one’s needs....The point seems to be that, since there is more to life than food and clothing, to be overly concerned with them is to miss life’s important concern—a relationship with God. (1 Ti 6:6-19) The illustrations of nature in 12:24, 27, 28 operate on the level of food (ravens) and clothing (lilies and grass). God will care for these basics. Food and clothing only sustain and shield us. As Danker (1988: 249) says, “Living is more than having." (Ibid)

Life is more than food - There is more to life than eating, as important as eating is for the sustenance of our life. So stop worrying about what you are going to eat! In the next passage He explains they can stop worrying because God will supply for their needs (not their greed). 

Guzik - The worry Jesus spoke of brings man down to the level of an animal who is merely concerned with physical needs. Your life is more, and you have eternal matters to pursue.

Cole - We should not worry about money because the core of life concerns the soul, not the body (Lk 12:22-23). Jesus is saying that the key thing in life is not things. And, Jesus is not just talking about trinkets and non-essentials, but rather, about necessary food and clothing. But even these things are not the key thing in life. The key thing in life is being rightly related to God. If your soul is rightly related to God, then He will take care of your body, as Jesus goes on to point out. But if you have a well-fed and nicely clothed body, but you are alienated from God, you are missing the main thing in life. So, in effect, Jesus is saying, “If you want to worry, worry about the most important matter in life.” Food and clothing should not be your main worry. Your eternal soul should be your main concern. If someone says, “Yes, but I’m going to starve to death,” Jesus replies, “But where will your soul spend eternity?” “But I’ll freeze to death because I don’t have proper clothing!” “Yes, but then you’ll be too hot, if you’re not rightly related to God!” Don’t worry about money, because the core of life concerns the soul, not the body.

Joseph Stowell - True prosperity is not measured in cash or commodities but in our privileged relationship with the ever-present God. That is why we can sing with Fanny Crosby, “Take the world, but give me Jesus.”

Take the world, but give me Jesus,
All its joys are but a name;
But His love abideth ever,
Through eternal years the same.

Oh, the height and depth of mercy!
Oh, the length and breadth of love!
Oh, the fullness of redemption,
Pledge of endless life above!

Take the world, but give me Jesus,
Sweetest comfort of my soul;
With my Savior watching o’er me,
I can sing though billows roll.

Take the world, but give me Jesus,
Let me view His constant smile;
Then throughout my pilgrim journey
Light will cheer me all the while.

Take the world, but give me Jesus;
In His cross my trust shall be,
Till, with clearer, brighter vision,
Face to face my Lord I see.

In a similar statement Jesus had said "Man does not live by bread alone." (Lk 4:4-note) Matthew's version adds "but by every Word which proceeds out of the mouth of God." (Mt 4:4)

Hughes - Those who chose to be on the road with Jesus necessarily lived on the edge in respect to their food and clothing. If a disciple worried about breakfast, and then when breakfast was provided, thought, Whew! That's over. Now where will lunch come from? that disciple would soon become neutralized and spiritually ineffective.  There is a broad application of this truth to all would-be disciples of Jesus in today's culture, because modern culture is neurotic about food, drink, and clothing. TV ads feed our neuroses with alluring images of lithe legs in jeans and painted lips ecstatically downing chips and prunes and libations. Perhaps nothing does this better than airline magazines with their sumptuous beaux arts ads for champagne, antiques, carpets, watches, and "esoteric shopping sprees in Rome." Every product imaginable for the body is promoted—how to tan it, massage it, pamper it, clothe it, drug it, and stimulate it. Modern culture addresses worries we did not know we had, worries that neutralize our discipleship. But Jesus commands us not to worry about life. "Life is more than food, and the body more than clothes" (Luke 12:23). We must reject the popular reductionist view of life that claims we are just bodies that need to be fed, watered, clothed, and serviced—putting us on the same level as plants and animals and reducing "God" to our needs. Life is more than a good meal and a new outfit. And it is certainly more than worrying about these things. (Preaching the Word – Luke, Volume II: That You May Know the Truth)

Life (soul)(5590)(psuche from psucho = to breathe, blow, English = psychology, "study of the soul") is the breath, then that which breathes, the individual, animated creature. 

The body more than clothing - As important as clothing is to protect us from the elements, our life consists of more than what we wear. And as the following passages illustrate, God will provide for these basic needs which should negate our tendency to worry! Jesus proceeds to give three examples of the futility of worry - ravens (birds of the air), length of our life, and lilies of the field.

Luke 12:24  "Consider the ravens, for they neither sow nor reap; they have no storeroom nor barn, and yet God feeds them; how much more valuable you are than the birds!

KJV Luke 12:24 Consider the ravens: for they neither sow nor reap; which neither have storehouse nor barn; and God feedeth them: how much more are ye better than the fowls?


Spurgeon - It is quite possible that some of them were flying overhead just at that time, and that Christ pointed to them, and said, “Consider the ravens.”

Consider (aorist imperative - Do this now!)(2657)(katanoeo from kata = down or intensify meaning + noéo = to perceive or think) means literally to put the mind down on something and so to observe or consider carefully and attentively. It means to fix one’s eyes or mind upon and to perceive clearly. The idea is to think about something very carefully or consider closely which denotes the action of one's mind apprehending certain facts about a thing so as to give one the proper and decisive thought about the thing considered.

Luke's other uses of katanoeo - Lk. 6:41; Lk. 12:24; Lk. 12:27; Lk. 20:23; Acts 7:31; Acts 7:32; Acts 11:6; Acts 27:39

Spurgeon - So that, with the knowledge of his guarantees to you that you shall always have enough, what need have you to be careworn and anxious? I have often looked at birds in a cage, and thought of the happiness and carelessness of heart which they seem to exhibit; and yet, if you were to forget to give them water, or if you were to fail to give them seed, how soon they would die! Perhaps the little creature has not enough to last it more than one day, but it goes on singing its tune, and leaves; all anxiety about the morrow to those whose business it is to care for it. You would be ashamed to let your bird starve; and will your Heavenly Father let you, who are not his birds, but his children, starve? Oh, no! “Your Father knoweth that ye have need of these things.”

Spurgeon - It seems, then, that those that are fed by God are much better fed than those that are fed by men. The ravens know no care whatever, for God cares for them; and, if we could ever bring our hearts into such a condition that we felt that everything to do with us was in God’s hand, we should enter into a blessed, hallowed freedom from care in which we should find a sweet repose of spirit.

“Beneath the spreading heavens,
No creature but is fed;
And He who feeds the ravens,
Will give his children bread.” 

Cole -  We should not worry about money because God cares for us more than He cares for the ravens, whose needs He meets. This is the only New Testament reference to ravens. Some think that Jesus mentions them because they were unclean birds, so that His argument is, “If God cares for these lowest of scavengers, won’t He meet your needs?” When Jesus mentions that the ravens neither sow nor reap, nor store up their food, He does not mean that men should not labor for their food or that they should not store up necessary provisions. God’s Word clearly establishes labor as the means by which we provide for our families and ourselves. Rather, He is contrasting the lowly raven with the rich fool in the parable just before. This man was wrongly focused on storing up plenty for the future, but he stupidly ignored God. By way of contrast, the raven gets along just fine without all of the rich fool’s anxiety about the future, because God cares for the ravens. Then Jesus uses understatement to say, “How much more valuable you are than the birds!” Human beings are the apex of God’s creation, made in His image and likeness. Is it not reasonable to assume that if God cares for the lowly raven, then He will care for people, especially for those who are His own little flock (12:32)? The next time you see a raven, think about God’s care for those birds. You’ve never seen a starving raven! Even in the barren desert, they find plenty to eat. Then, banish your worries about money as you realize that God cares far more about you than He does about ravens. You can trust Him to provide. (How to Solve Worries About Money)

Hughes on ravens - These insolent, squawking birds know nothing of the prudential habits of a farmer (note the farm language here: “sow … reap … storeroom … barn”), and yet God feeds them. Jesus says, in effect, “Consider the birds and then consider yourself”—“And how much more valuable you are than birds!” (v. 24b). We are much more valuable than a bunch of rascally crows, and God will take care of us. (Ibid)

Matthew has

Matthew 6:26  “Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they?

Note: Ravens in Luke, birds of the air in Matthew. 

Ravens (2876)(korax) is an intelligent, large black bird, from the genus Corvus (which includes crows). They were scavengers and  were considered unclean (Lev 11:15) Fausset adds "The raven is singled out as exemplifying God's care for His creatures because of their restless flying in search for food to satisfy their voracious appetites. With their hoarse cry they unconsciously appeal to their Maker and Preserver for their necessary food, and never in vain, though they neither sow nor reap neither have storehouse nor barn. A lesson of faith to us. The ravens build their nests in solitary "valleys," hence a sign of desolation (Isa 34:11). Birds of prey attack the eye especially. The mocker of his father shall die a death of shame, and be a prey to the "raven of the valley" (Pr 30:17). The shrewd and ill visage of the raven, its mourning hue, its solitary haunts, harsh croak, instant scenting of premonitory decomposition even before death, made it be regarded as of ill omen. The glossy steel-blue black of the raven is the image of the bridegroom's locks (Song 5:11)."

Korax - 10x in 10v in the Septuagint - Ge 8:7; Lev. 11:15; Dt. 14:14; 1 Ki. 17:4, 6; Job 38:41; Ps. 147:9; Pr. 30:17; Song 5:11; Isa. 34:11; Zeph. 2:14

Ge 8:7 And he (Noah) sent out a raven (Hebrew = oreb; Lxx = korax), and it flew here and there until the water was dried up from the earth.

Fausset's Bible Dictionary on raven - Hebrew 'oreb, from a root "black," including the crow. Not allowed as food (Lev 11:15). Of the order Ιnsessores , family Corvidae . Ge 8:7, Noah's first messenger from the ark, which kept going forth and returning, resting on the ark but never entering, feeding on the floating carcasses; type of the carnal soul that having left God finds no rest (Isa 57:20-21); like Satan (Job 1:7; Job 2:2). Ravens fed Elijah at the brook Cherith (1 Kings 17:4; 1 Kings 17:6) when cut off from intercourse with men, who might have betrayed him to Ahab. When even the voracious ravens were against their nature made to care for him more than for themselves, his confidence was strengthened in Jehovah's illimitable resources to help him in his coming conflict with the idolatrous priests, dislikes the raven as of ill omen God cares for it (Job 38:41; Ps 147:9; Luke 12:24). (Ref)

Mattoon - Are you suffering from worry? Jesus tells us we can alleviate or put an end to the daily grind of stress and worry by bird watching, specifically speaking.... the raven. What? Run that by me again. Yes, you heard it right. Jesus points us to the ravens and tells us, "Watch how I take care of them."

ILLUSTRATION OF RAVEN  - A man in England raised a raven, then gave it its liberty. It made its home in some rocks. It would still come to the house where it had been raised to be fed. The man who raised this bird would walk on the nearby hills and the raven would soon appear. The man observed that the raven had caches of food stored up all over the place, hidden in the heather. When the man would feed it, the raven would take a big beak full and stack it away under a stone, covering it so neatly that it was hard for the man to find, even after watching the bird dig it in. The God who taught the raven to cache its food without barns and who Himself feeds the ravens is well able to care for His people. (John Phillips – Exploring the Gospel of Luke: An Expository Commentary)

Sow (4687) (speiro) means to scatter seed. Sowing, usually accomplished by broadcasting seed, which could precede or follow plowing. Fields or individual plants were fertilized with dung and the rain and sun brought different crops to maturity at different times. Following the winter rains and the ‘latter’ rains of March-April, barley was ready to be harvested in April and May, and wheat matured three or four weeks later.

Very few birds make a living from farming. You hardly ever see a red robin planting some corn. God feeds the birds. And aren't you worth more than the birds to God?

Men can sow, reap and gather, but are still to be like a little bird, trusting in God to take care of them.

Steiner - Luke’s ravens, who do not exhibit the rich man’s folly and greed (Luke 12:18), bring God’s care even more to mind because of Ps 147:9 and Job 38:41. In contrast to humans, “they do not sow and reap.” (New American Commentary – Volume 24: Luke)

Morris - Birds do not engage in agricultural activities, but they do not lack for all that. God feeds them. (Ibid)

Yet God feeds them - Don't misinterpret Jesus here. Yes God feeds them and He cares for us, but Jesus is not saying we should not work. 

J C Ryle says Jesus "sends us to the birds of the air for instruction. They make no provision for the future: “they do not sow or reap or store away in barns”; they do not store food for the future. They literally live from day to day on what they can pick up by using the instinct God has put in them. They ought to teach us that no one doing their duty in the position to which God has called him, will ever be allowed to come to poverty.

How much more valuable you are than the birds! - An "a fortiori" argument. Earlier sparrows, now ravens (which were even considered unclean - Lev 11:15), both are valuable to God and both are cared for by God. How much more will He care for those created in His own image, those whom He loved and for whom He gave His only begotten Son (Jn 3:16). If God takes care of birds, will He not care for His own creation, and especially those who believe in Him and become His own children (Jn 1:12)?  

Ryle - Now if the Maker of all things provides for the wants of birds, and orders things so that they have a daily supply of food, we ought surely not to fear that He will let His spiritual children starve.

Hughes - Jesus says, in effect, "Consider the birds and then consider yourself"—"And how much more valuable you are than birds!" (Luke 12:24b). We are much more valuable than a bunch of rascally crows, and God will take care of us....Worry insults God and defies reality.

ILLUSTRATION OF PROVIDENTIAL PROVISION - We are not only to consider the birds and God's care for them, we are also to consider the barrenness of worry. The Battle of Brooklyn began on August 27, 1776. It was the first major battle in the American Revolutionary War following the United States Declaration of Independence. British General Howe's army in New York numbered 32,000 experienced soldiers. American General George Washington had about 20,000 troops in the area but they were not as well-trained as British soldiers.During an opening engagement of the battle, Washington watched some 1500 American troops perish. Trembling, he cried out, "Good God, what brave fellows I must this day lose!" A man of prayer, Washington looked to the Lord as he feared the American army would be completely destroyed during the battle. As he prayed, he realized that the 8000 men in Brooklyn had to be evacuated to Manhattan. With no ships at his disposal, he had to rely on small boats. On the night of August 29, the Americans began the evacuation. All through the night, American soldiers silently left their entrenchments and their boats slipped quietly through the water to Manhattan. Just before dawn, Major Ben Tallmadge remembered the following events: "As the dawn of the next day approached, those of us in the trenches became very anxious for our own safety, and when the dawn appeared there were several regiments still on duty. At this time a very dense fog began to rise (out of the ground and off the river), and it seemed to settle in a particular manner over both encampments. I recollect this peculiar providential occurrence perfectly well, and so very dense the atmosphere that I could scarcely discern a man at six yards distance." The fog held five hours into daylight, enough time for the Americans to safely escape. God took care of these men for He is watching over all of us, and desires for us to look to Him in our time of trouble and desperation. (Mattoon)


As practical application, you might consider taking up the "avocation" of "spiritual bird watching" and/or "spiritual gardening." One cannot help but wonder whether bird watchers and gardeners worry less? Although you might think it somewhat unorthodox, consider setting up a bird feeder that you can easily observe and then every time you see one of God's beautiful creatures, ask God by His Spirit to bring the simple but profound truths of Jesus' message on worry to mind (cf Pr 23:7a, Ro 12:2 renewing your mind, Phil 4:8-9 dwelling on what is true and practicing it brings peace). Might such an "exercise" of meditating upon the trustworthy, dependable watch care of our Father for our feathered friends begin to free us from fretting?!

Said the Robin to the Sparrow,
"I should really like to know
Why these anxious human beings
Rush about and worry so."

Said the Sparrow to the Robin,
"Friend, I think that it must be
They have no Heavenly Father,
Such as cares for you and me."
 —Author unknown

His Eye is on the Sparrow
by Civilla Martin

Why should I feel discouraged, why should the shadows come,
Why should my heart be lonely, and long for heaven and home,
When Jesus is my portion? My constant friend is He:
His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me;
His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.

I sing because I’m happy,
I sing because I’m free,
For His eye is on the sparrow,
And I know He watches me.

“Let not your heart be troubled,” His tender word I hear,
And resting on His goodness, I lose my doubts and fears;
Though by the path He leadeth, but one step I may see;
His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me;
His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.

Whenever I am tempted, whenever clouds arise,
When songs give place to sighing, when hope within me dies,
I draw the closer to Him, from care He sets me free;
His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me;
His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.

Luke 12:25  "And which of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life's span?

KJV Luke 12:25 And which of you with taking thought can add to his stature one cubit?


And which of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life's span? - Clearly the logical answer is absolutely no one can add an hour to their life by worrying! Worrying is useless!

MacArthur comments that our "heavenly Father will sustain the lives of those who obey His Word until the end of their God-determined time. On the other hand sin may shorten that time from what it might have been (cf. 1 Cor. 11:29–30; 1 John 5:16)."

Can (is able)(1410) See dunamai

Hour (4083)(pechus) literally means refers to the forearm as a measure of length and then comes to mean a cubit (equivalent to 17.5 inches, 1.5 feet, or 0.46 meter). Vine writes pechus "denotes the forearm, i.e., the part between the hand and the elbow-joint; hence, "a measure of length," not from the wrist to the elbow, but from the tip of the middle finger to the elbow joint, i.e., about a foot and a half, or a little less than two feet.

Pechus - 4x in 4v - hour(2), yards(2) - Mt. 6:27; Lk. 12:25; Jn. 21:8; Rev. 21:17

Pechus is uses 230x in 122 verses in the Septuagint - 

Gen. 6:15-16; 7:20; Exod. 25:10,17,23; 26:2,8,13,16; 27:1,9,11ff,18; 30:2; 37:2,10-13,16; Num. 35:4-5; Deut. 3:11; Jos. 3:4; 1 Sam. 17:4; 1 Ki. 6:2-3,6,10,16-17,20,23-24,26; 7:3-4,8,10-11,14,18,21,39,43; 2 Ki. 14:13; 25:17; 2 Chr. 3:3-4,8,11-13,15; 4:1-3; 6:13; 25:23; Ezr. 6:3; Neh. 3:13; Est. 5:14; 7:9; Prov. 31:19; Zech. 5:2; Jer. 52:21-22; Ezek. 40:5,7,9,11ff,19,21,23,25,27,29,33,36,42,47-49; 41:1ff,8ff,22; 42:2,4,7-8,17,20; 43:13ff; 45:2; 46:22; Dan. 3:1,47; 

NET Note on hour to his life's span - Or "a cubit to his height." A cubit can measure length (normally about 45 cm or 18 inches) or time (a small unit, "hour" is usually used although "day" has been suggested). The term helikia is ambiguous in the same way as pechus. Most scholars take the term to describe age or length of life here, although a few refer it to bodily stature. Worry about length of life seems a more natural figure than worry about height. However, the point either way is clear: Worrying adds nothing to life span or height. 

Spurgeon - “You cannot lengthen your body;” or perhaps the Saviour meant, “You cannot lengthen out your life.” It would be a very small matter to you if you were a foot taller, or if you were a foot shorter. It is not that the making of yourself a cubit taller or shorter would be a small thing to do, but it is a small thing in its result; it is an inconsiderable matter whether a man is tall or short. If ye, then, be not able even to reduce your stature, or to increase it, take no anxious thought about other things.

Stein on a single hour - Literally a cubit. As a measure of length, the cubit was about eighteen inches. The next expression, “life” or “span of life” (RSV), can have either a physical or temporal meaning. In Lk 2:52 and Lk 19:3 it refers to stature, but here it refers to length of life, for adding a cubit to one’s height would be more than a “little thing” (Lk 12:26). “Cubit” must therefore refer not to a measure of length but to a measure of time. This verse asks whether believers can extend the length of their lives in any way by worrying. The assumed answer is, of course, no. This then is the third reason for the exhortation of Lk 12:22. Due to human impotence, worry is pointless. (Ibid)

Hughes - Worriers fear, worriers suffer, worriers wither and twist and die. Worry takes a terrible toll, and we see it every day—the stammer in mid-sentence, the distractedness, the missed appointment, the wasted hour in front of the TV, the second pack of cigarettes. Worry is not a moral virtue in a disciple of Christ. Worry is not something to be proud of. It is a desiccator, a shriveler. (Ibid)

Forget Worry - Perhaps you've participated in an experiment where you were given a phrase like "red car" and then were asked to put it out of your mind. But the harder you tried, the more the "red car" dominated your thoughts. This kind of exercise shows that we can never forget something by concentrating on it.

Anxious thoughts, our natural response to the cares of life, are like that. Many of us spend sleepless nights trying to solve complex problems, and all we accomplish is fixing them more firmly in our minds.

The Bible says that instead of being weighed down by our concerns, we should give them to God. The apostle Peter put it this way: "[Cast] all your care upon Him, for He cares for you" (1 Peter 5:7). And in Philippians 4:6, the apostle Paul gave similar instruction.

Jesus told His disciples not to worry about the necessities of life, because "your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things" (Matthew 6:32).

The way to forget our worries is to concentrate on the goodness and loving care of God, not on the problems that plague us. Then we can say with the psalmist, "In the multitude of my anxieties within me, Your comforts delight my soul" (Psalm 94:19). —David C. McCasland

When we give all our cares to God,
Our worries will depart;
He gives to us a peace of mind
That calms our anxious heart. —Sper

The more you think about God's goodness,
the less you'll think about your worries.

How Will My Worry Look?—Luke 12:25

Hans Christian Andersen, author of such well-known fairy tales as “The Emperor’s New Clothes,” had a phobia of being buried alive. As a result, he always carried a note in his pocket telling anyone who might find him unconscious not to assume he was dead. He often left another note on his bedside table stating, “I only seem dead.” Such was his anxiety until he finally succumbed to cancer in 1875.

We may think such a fear is strange, but do we have fears that will someday look just as irrational? Is it possible that the day will come when we look back and marvel at our own anxieties? Will we one day wonder at that foolish person who chose to worry rather than to pray? Will time eventually cast us as a pitiful person who was plagued by fear because we did not face life with the resources lavished on us by the Almighty Lord of the universe?

Worrying doesn’t change anything. But trusting the Lord changes everything about the way we view life.

Forgive us, Lord, for our inclination to worry. Help us to see how foolish it is for us to worry about what You have promised to provide. Don’t let us bury ourselves alive with fears.  By Mart DeHaan

A Strategy For Winning Over Worry
Identify specific worries.
Work to change what you can.
Leave what you can't change with God.

When we put our cares in God's hands, He puts His peace in our hearts.

Luke 12:26  "If then you cannot do even a very little thing, why do you worry about other matters?

KJV Luke 12:26 If ye then be not able to do that thing which is least, why take ye thought for the rest?


If then you cannot do even a very little thing - (First class conditional = assumed to be the case) If you cannot even add 60 minutes to your life, which you cannot, they why worry! In fact instead of lengthening our life, worry can contribute to actually shortening our life!  See secular Article

Why do you worry about other matters - Indeed, why worry when you have such a great giving God to believe in? Worry gains nothing positive, nothing of value and in fact steals our joy and hope while adding unneeded stress! Kierkegaard said, "No Grand Inquisitor has in readiness such terrible tortures as anxiety." We need to remember the maxim that God Who takes care of our growth will take care of all our needs.

Bock says it this way - Jesus develops his rationale about the pointlessness of worrying: if a person cannot do a little thing like adding a little time to one’s life span, then why worry about other matters that may well be beyond one’s control and will not add to one’s life....The disciples cannot add to their life by worry, so energy is wasted when it is directed toward things over which one has no control. The Matthean parallel lacks this remark. (Ibid)

Steven Cole -    We should not worry about money because worry doesn’t do any good anyway (Lk 12:25-26). Jesus points out the futility of worry. It never changes reality. If you worry, the outcome is the same as if you don’t worry. Actually, the outcome is worse because worry takes a toll on your health. But Jesus says that worrying won’t add any years to your life. Commentators are divided over whether He meant adding height to your bodily stature or years to your life. The cubit was a unit of linear measure, which supports the view that Jesus meant that you can’t grow physically by worrying about it. But, the cubit was about 18 inches, which isn’t a little thing when it comes to bodily height (12:26)! Since Jesus just talked about the rich fool whose life span was not his to determine, He probably meant here, “You can’t add any time to your life by worrying about it.” It has been estimated that 40 percent of our worries are about things that never happen; 30 percent of our worries concern things that are past that can’t be changed; 12 percent of our worries are needless worries about our health; 10 percent are petty, miscellaneous worries; and, only 8 percent deal with legitimate issues. It’s not wrong to think about things that we can do something to change, but it is futile to consume our thoughts with matters that we can’t change. Someone has observed that we need to distinguish between problems and facts of life. Problems are matters that we can do something about. Facts of life are matters that we can’t change and so we have to live with them. But in either case, worry isn’t productive and it runs counter to faith in God.

In the following passages the "other matters" refers to clothing (Lk 12:27-28) and food and drink (Lk 12:29).

Worriers feel every blow
That never falls
And they cry over things|
They will never lose.

Worry (3309) See previous discussion of merimnao. Note that worry is the present tense which speaks of worrying as a habitual pastime! We have better things to do with the precious time God has given us. Instead of wasting time worrying, enabled by the Spirit seek to redeem the time!

Kent Hughes says "Worriers fear, worriers suffer, worriers wither and twist and die. Worry takes a terrible toll, and we see it every day—the stammer in mid-sentence, the distractedness, the missed appointment, the wasted hour in front of the TV, the second pack of cigarettes. Worry is not a moral virtue in a disciple of Christ. Worry is not something to be proud of. It is a desiccator, a shriveler." (Ibid)

Related Resources:

Luke 12:27  "Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; but I tell you, not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these.

KJV Luke 12:27 Consider the lilies how they grow: they toil not, they spin not; and yet I say unto you, that Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.


Or as we might say "Stop and smell the roses!"

Parallel passages in Matthew 

And why are you worried about clothing? Observe (aorist imperative) how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil nor do they spin, 29 yet I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these. 30“But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more clothe you? You of little faith! (Mt 6:28-30-note)

Consider (aorist imperative - Do this now!)(2657) see same verb in Lk 12:24 = katanoeo. Recall this means to notice carefully, study closely. When was the last time you were experiencing anxiety and you obeyed Jesus' command to meditate His illustration of the lilies?

Spurgeon - So that God cares not only for things that have necessities, as ravens have, but for things that have luxuries, as lilies have. When God does anything, he does it well. He is a grand Housekeeper; he does not measure out so many ounces of bread per diem, as if we were in a workhouse, but “they that seek the Lord shall not want any good thing.” “No good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly.” The lilies might do as well without their golden hues, they might ripen their seed without the lengthened stems that lift them where they can be observed; but God takes more care of them even than Solomon did of himself, for “Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.” Now, dear children of God, if you trust your Heavenly Father, he will see that you have no cause for care. If you trust him with your souls, he will not give you a bare salvation, but a rich robe of righteousness to cover all your nakedness. When he does any work, he does it after a better fashion than the wisest of men could do it; and nature herself, working as she does for the lilies, is only God working in another way. But when God himself, without the intervention of the laws of nature, works in the kingdom of his grace, he does it perfectly; he does it gloriously.

Consider the lilies, how they grow - Jesus has just referred to worry about other matters (Lk 12:26) and now addresses our clothing as one of those matters we worry about. Jesus charges them to ponder the plants, specifically the lilies and one can even imagine Him pointing to one of these beautiful flowers as He spoke. 

Spurgeon - The lilies simply stand still in the sunlight, and silently say to us, “See how beautiful are the thoughts of God.” If we could just drink in God’s love, and then, almost without speech, show it in our lives, how we should glorify his name!

Lilies (2918)(krinon) is used only in Mt 6:28 and Lk 12:27. Hastings Bible Dictionary - The lily (שׁוּשַׁן, שׁוֹשַׁנָּה, κρίnon) is mentioned by various OT writers (1 Kings 7:19, 2 Chronicles 4:5, Song of Solomon 2:1 etc., Hosea 14:5). In the NT there is but one reference (Matthew 6:28 and || Luke 12:27). From the expression ‘lilies of the field,’ we gather that they were wild flowers, while the comparison of them with the regal robes of Solomon (Matthew 6:29) implies that they were not white, but coloured (cf. Song 5:13). The plant that best accords with these conditions is the scarlet anemone (A. coronaria - see picture), with which, in the spring of the year, the Galilaean hillsides are clothed. (See Tristram, Fauna and Flora of Palestine, p. 208; Nat. Hist. of Bible, p. 462). The nature of the reference might, however, favour the supposition that our Lord used the term ‘lilies’ in a very general way, and that it should be taken as comprising a variety of flowers, such as anemones, poppies, and tulips.

Krinon - 17x in 17v in the Septuagint - 

Ex. 25:31; 25:33; 25:34; Num. 8:4; 1 Ki. 7:19; 7:26; 2 Chr. 4:5; Song 2:1; Song 2:2; Song 2:16; Song 4:5; Song 5:13; Song 6:2; Song 6:3; Song 7:2; Isa 35:1; Hos. 14:5; 

How they grow - Do you see any lilies toiling and straining? And yet even without human care they grow easily, freely and gorgeously! Neither do they spin one thread with as Solomon's tailors had to do in order to decorate the king! Man made things cannot match the pristine perfection and beauty of God's creation!

Toil  (2872)(kopiao from kopos = labor, fatigue) This root word kopos (word study) is used in secular Greek of “a beating,” “weariness” (as though one had been beaten) and “exertion,” was the proper word for physical tiredness induced by work, exertion or heat. Kopiao means to to exhibit great effort and exertion, to the point of sweat and exhaustion. To physically become worn out, weary or faint. To engage in hard work with the implication of difficulty and trouble. Toil is in the

As an aside, notice that toil  is in the present tense (as is "spin"), which in a sense depicts one who worries continually as doing so with considerable exertion of emotional energy, even to the point of exhaustion!

Stein rightly points out that "There is extensive parallelism between Luke 12:27–28 and Lk 12:24: “Consider the ravens”—“Consider the lilies”; “They do not sow or reap”—“They do not labor or spin”; “Yet God feeds them”—“God clothes the grass”; “How much more valuable you are than birds!”—“How much more will he clothe you.” (New American Commentary – Volume 24: Luke)

Not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these - Here Jesus reaches into His omniscience, for He was there when Solomon reigned in glory and He saw first-hand this great king's majestic robes. And then He also saw these delicate, beautiful Palestinian lilies which made Solomon's grandeur pale in comparison. He is not using hyperbole, but is stating a fact that He alone could know with absolute certainty. 

Glory (1391)(doxa) in this context refers to Solomon's state characterized by honor, power, remarkable appearance and splendor. 

Solomon in all his glory - A man does not get much more glorious than Solomon, in terms of his material possessions. Read these representative passages..

In 2 Chronicles 9:22 we read that...

King Solomon became greater than all the kings of the earth in riches and wisdom.

The Queen of Sheba gave an apt commentary on Solomon in all his glory in 1 Kings 10...

4 When the queen of Sheba perceived all the wisdom of Solomon, the house that he had built,

5 the food of his table, the seating of his servants, the attendance of his waiters and their attire, his cupbearers, and his stairway by which he went up to the house of the LORD, there was no more spirit in her.

6 Then she said to the king, "It was a true report which I heard in my own land about your words and your wisdom.

7 "Nevertheless I did not believe the reports, until I came and my eyes had seen it. And behold, the half was not told me. You exceed in wisdom and prosperity the report which I heard.

8 "How blessed are your men, how blessed are these your servants who stand before you continually and hear your wisdom.

9 "Blessed be the LORD your God who delighted in you to set you on the throne of Israel; because the LORD loved Israel forever, therefore He made you king, to do justice and righteousness." (Notice what the recognition of Solomon's glory prompted in the Queen of Sheba? Was it envy? Clearly not. In fact it prompted in her an anthem of praise to the glorious God!)

Spurgeon - "Clothes must not be made much of; for in our finest array, flowers far excel us. We must not be anxious about how we shall be clad; for the field lilies, not under the gardener’s care, are as glorious as the most pompous of monarchs; and yet they enjoy life free from labor and thought. Lovely lilies, how ye rebuke our foolish nervousness! The array of lilies comes without fret: why do we kill ourselves with care about that which God gives to plants which cannot care? My Lord, I would grow to thy praise as the lily cloth, and be content to be what thou cost make me, and wear what thou cost give me." (Commentary)

Luke 12:28  "But if God so clothes the grass in the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, how much more will He clothe you? You men of little faith!

KJV Luke 12:28 If then God so clothe the grass, which is to day in the field, and to morrow is cast into the oven; how much more will he clothe you, O ye of little faith?

Matthew's version

But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more clothe you? (Mt 6:30)

But if God so clothes the grass in the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace - The grass blooms, dies and is burned year after year. The flowers blooming (grass growing) every Spring without fail should remind us of the certainty of God's provision.

Compare Isaiah 40:6-8

A voice says, “Call out.” Then he answered, “What shall I call out?” All flesh is grass, and all its loveliness is like the flower of the field.  7 The grass withers, the flower fades, When the breath of the LORD blows upon it; Surely the people are grass.  8 The grass withers, the flower fades, But the word of our God stands forever. 

John Walvoord - The argument was advanced that if God can care for the grass of the field, existing only for a day and then used for fuel for the oven, how much more will He clothe and care for those who are the objects of His great salvation?  (The Life of Faith in the Kingdom)

Spurgeon - Your life is not like that of the grass, or the flower of the field, that fades on a summer’s day. God will take care of you, and the everlasting things shall have from him a care even greater than he gives to the temporal. Yet how much God really does for flowers ¾flowers that only open their cups in the morning, and shut them in death at night! How much of skill and wisdom there is even about them! Shall there not be greater skill and wisdom employed upon you who, when you have once begun to bloom in the light of God, shall go on blooming, and flowering, and shedding your perfume throughout the endless ages?

And tomorrow is thrown into the furnace - Since wood was often hard to find in Palestine, grass was frequently used for cooking.

How much more will He clothe you - Another "a fortiori" argument. Jesus point is if God cares for the lilies (which are beautiful year after year or the grass which sprouts up every Spring without fail) how much more will He care for those created in His own image, those whom He loved and for whom He gave His only begotten Son (Jn 3:16)?

J C Ryle - Now if God every year provides these flowers with a fresh supply of living leaves and blossoms, we surely ought not to doubt His power and willingness to furnish His believing servants with all needful clothing.

Leon Morris - Solomon’s gorgeous robes could not match. Yet the flowers, now spoken of as grass (which supports the view that no particular plant is in mind), are very temporary. They live today and are burnt tomorrow. The argument is irresistible. If God does all this for the flowers that disappear so quickly, how much more will he clothe his people? O men of little faith shows that some of the disciples had shown anxiety. It is needless. (Ibid)

You men of little faith - A rebuke, the implication is they doubt God's faithfulness to provide, their doubting being manifested by the fact that they are worried if God will actually provide. Their continual seeking after these things implies they do not believe God will meet their need.

Spurgeon - What a title to address to us, — “O ye of little faith!” — but, depend upon it, we deserve it when we are full of anxious care. Much care argues little faith. When faith is strong, she casts all her care on him who careth for us. Oh, that we could but be rid of that which, after all, is not our business, and give our whole mind, and heart, and soul, to what is our business, namely, to please our Creator, our Redeemer, our Friend!

Hughes - Luther quaintly said of the lesson of the flowers: “It seems … that the flowers stand there and make us blush and become our teachers. Thank you, flowers, you who are to be devoured by the cows! God has exalted you very highly, that you become our masters and teachers.” We are to consider the flowers, then consider ourselves. If we persist in worry, it is because we are “of little faith”—we do not believe God’s Word. It is as simple as that! We do not believe he is in control. We do not believe he is capable of taking care of us. We do not believe what his Word tells us about his love and care for his own. Disbelief is the midwife of worry. (Ibid)

Steven Cole -  We should not worry about money because we should trust in God who cares for us more than He does the flowers of the field (Lk 12:27-28). “Lilies” probably refers to different kinds of wildflowers, not to what we think of as “lilies.” Consider the beauty and delicacy of a wildflower! Last week Marla and I hiked down to Horseshoe Mesa in the Grand Canyon. In that harsh desert environment there was a cactus with a beautiful bright reddish purple flower. It was spectacular! Not even Solomon in all his glory could match the beauty of a single wildflower! If God clothes the insignificant grass of the field with beautiful flowers, grass that was bundled up when dead and used to fuel a furnace, then shouldn’t we trust Him to provide the clothing that we need? Jesus’ rebuke, “O men of little faith,” hits the heart of worry: our little faith in God. It is safe to say, is it not, that all worry stems from our lack of faith in God? When we worry, we are doubting that God truly cares for us. Keep in mind that Jesus here was addressing the disciples. He was talking to believers. And yet, believers who have trusted God with their eternal destiny can easily fall into a state of unbelief when it comes to the immediate problems they face, especially with regard to basic provisions. We all need to keep in mind Paul’s words, “He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things?” (Rom. 8:32). In other words, if God did the greatest thing in saving us, can’t we trust Him to take care of comparatively lesser matters on our behalf? The worst thing about worry is not that it makes us miserable, although it always does. The worst thing about worry is that it dishonors our loving Heavenly Father. Suppose that you saw my kids and they had worry written all over their faces. You asked, “What’s wrong?” They responded, “We’re not sure whether our dad is going to feed us tonight.” What would that say about my love for my children? You’d probably turn me in for child abuse. My kids certainly would not be a good advertisement for any orphans who were thinking about coming to live in our home! And yet so many of the Lord’s children live as if their Father in heaven either isn’t concerned or isn’t able to take care of their needs! Thus Jesus’ first point is that to solve our worries about money, we must trust in the God who cares for us.

Spurgeon - But you have some faith, else the Saviour would not have said to you, “O ye of little faith!” The man who has no faith may well go on fretting, toiling, spinning; but he that hath faith, as he goes forth to his daily labour, looks beyond that to the God of providence, and thus God keeps him without care, and provides for him.

Little faith (3640)(oligopistos from oligos = little + pistos = faith) is an adjective describing one who does not believe or trust strongly. This expression "little faith" is used four times in Matthew, once in Luke (Luke 12:28), as an encouragement to growth in faith as well as a gentle reproof.

Oligopistos - 5x in the NT and no uses in the Septuagint

Matthew 6:30  "But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more clothe you? You of little faith!

Matthew 8:26  He said to them, "Why are you afraid, you men of little faith?" Then He got up and rebuked the winds and the sea, and it became perfectly calm.

Matthew 14:31  Immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and took hold of him, and said to him, "You of little faith, why did you doubt?"

Matthew 16:8  But Jesus, aware of this, said, "You men of little faith, why do you discuss among yourselves that you have no bread?

Luke 12:28  "But if God so clothes the grass in the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, how much more will He clothe you? You men of little faith!

The great saint George Mueller (Click for example of Mueller's amazing faith) once said that "The beginning of anxiety is the end of faith, and the beginning of true faith is the end of anxiety.:

The perfect cure for worry is trust in God. Faith is total confidence in the provision of God. - Therefore, a lack of faith will lead to a life of psychological anxiety. Since this lack of faith is identified with sin, Adams is correct in asserting that man’s emotional problems stem from his sin (J. Adams, Christian Counselors’ Manual. p. 117 ff.). In the Sermon on the Mount we have then, not only a directive for spiritual well-being, but the model of a manual of mental health as well. (Hindson, E, Woodrow Kroll: KJV Bible Commentary)

ILLUSTRATION - A businessman ran into a friend of his a stockbroker who had always had problems with ulcers and high blood pressure. "How's your health?" the man asked his stockbroker friend. "Great. My ulcers are gone and I don't have a worry in the world!" The man asked "How did that happen?" The stockbroker said, "It's easy. I hired a professional worrier. Whenever something comes along that I need to worry about, I tell him about it and he does all of my worrying for me."
The businessman couldn't believe it. "That's incredible. I'd be interested in something like that. How much does it cost?" The294 stockbroker said, "He charges $100,000 a year." The businessman said "How in the world can you afford to pay him $100,000 a year?" The stockbroker said, "I don't know. I let him worry about it."
In the same way the stockbroker gave his worries to the "professional worrier," we should give our worries and cares to God. In other words, give your financial problems, family problems, health problems, work and school problems, people problems, etc, all to the Lord. When we fail to do this, we show a lack of faith in Him as Jesus rebukingly says, "O ye of little faith. (Mattoon)

Spurgeon wrote in a devotional entitled "Divine Provision" that...

CLOTHES are expensive, and poor believers may be led into anxiety as to where their next suit will come from. The soles are thin; how shall we get new shoes? See how our thoughtful Lord has provided against this care. Our heavenly Father clothes the grass of the field with a splendor such as Solomon could not equal: will He not clothe His own children? We are sure He will. There may be many a patch and a darn, but raiment we shall have. A poor minister found his clothes nearly threadbare and so far gone that they would hardly hold together; but as a servant of the Lord, he expected his Master to find him his livery. It so happened that the writer on a visit to a friend had the loan of the good man’s pulpit, and it came into his mind to make a collection for him, and there was his suit. Many other cases we have seen in which those who have served the Lord have found Him considerate of their wardrobe. He who made man so that when he had sinned he needed garments, also in mercy supplied him with them; and those which the Lord gave to our first parents were far better than those they made for themselves. (Faith's Checkbook)

Faith and Care
Vance Havner

FOUR times in Matthew (and once in Luke) our Lord uses the expression "O ye of little faith," and each time the application is to a different problem. The first occurrence of the phrase is in Matthew 6:30: "Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is cast into the oven, shall He not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith?" This is part of the well-known passage from the Sermon on the Mount dealing with our daily anxieties. Nowhere is faith more needed nowadays. Many Christians seem to think of worry as a "white sin," as though God had made an exception in that case and we were allowed to fret and grieve, with no provision being made for our relief. People think they simply must worry, but God's Word is explicit that we are to be anxious about nothing (Phil. 4:6), casting all our care (anxiety) upon God (1 Pet. 5:7-note)—letting not our hearts be troubled (John 14:1). Why did Jesus say "Let not your heart be troubled" if we cannot help it? So our Lord tells us: "Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink" (Mt 6:25). Of course, we know that "thought" here means anxious thought and not the forethought and planning that are necessary for any business. It is not work, but worry, that kills—the feverish tension and uneasiness that soon wear down mind and body. The man who lives in the will of God need never worry about food, clothes, and the vexations of daily experience. It does no good, it is positively forbidden in the Word, and God has promised to supply all the believer's needs (Phil. 4:19).

The Lord Jesus speaks in this passage of the birds and the lilies as illustrations of God's care. Here cynics have objected that the sparrow falls just the same. But the idea is that no matter what happens, we are in God's care. The mistake is in limiting His care to temporal welfare—but God does not guarantee to save us from trouble and danger. His care goes beyond that: come what will, our lives are hid with Christ, and no matter what happens to our health or our money, we ourselves—our spirits—are safe in Him.

The heart of the whole matter is found in Mt 6:33 (cf parallel Lk 12:31): "But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you." We make "all these things" our chief concern but Christ makes them merely incidental. These things should be marginal and God central in our lives, but we put them on the main track and God is switched to the sidetrack, to be called upon only in trouble.

"Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof." Each day has enough troubles of its own. But we insist upon borrowing from tomorrow and crossing the bridge before we reach it. No Christian should worry. His sole business is to know the will of God and do it. Whatever his occupation may be, it is only to pay expenses while he is about his real business. But we reverse the whole matter and make our trade the main business with God's will an outside affair that is considered now and then, if at all. Consequently, when trouble and vexation come we fret and worry.

Our "little faith" shows up daily in this matter of care (anxious care, anxiety, worry). The believer who has gained through faith the conquest of care has found life here, even in this troublesome world, a blessed experience. Truly, the peace of God will garrison the hearts and minds of those who are careful for nothing but thankful for everything. 

Luke 12:29  "And do not seek what you will eat and what you will drink, and do not keep worrying.

KJV Luke 12:29 And seek not ye what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink, neither be ye of doubtful mind.


The parallel passage in Matthew adds the preface "Do not worry" 

Do not worry then, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear for clothing?’ (Mt 6:31)

Cole writes that "To solve our worries about money, we must seek for God’s kingdom above our own needs (Lk 12:29-34). This section falls into two parts. First Jesus tells us what we should not seek (12:29-30); then, He tells us what we should seek (Lk 12:31-34).     A. We should stop worrying about our basic needs, because to worry is to mimic the world and God knows that we need these things (Lk 12:29-30). When Jesus says not to seek after what you shall eat and drink, He does not mean that we are not to expend any effort or energy in working for a living! Rather, He means, “Don’t be all-consumed with these things. Don’t make these things your main aim in life.” He’s talking about where our primary focus should be. He commands us, “Do not keep worrying,” using a different word than in verse 22. The word here means to be lifted up and so some take it to mean, “Do not be arrogant or haughty,” in the sense of thinking that you can provide these things without God’s help. But the earliest versions of the New Testament and the context argue for the meaning, “Don’t be lifted up or tossed about, like a ship on the water.” In other words, “Don’t be unsettled and insecure; stop worrying about these things, since God will take care of you.” Jesus says that when we’re consumed with making a living, we’re mimicking the world. The world lives in a constant frenzy of activity to get more and more. This should not be our focus.

And do not seek what you will eat - Notice the parallel passage in Matthew has do not worry for do not seek, suggesting that in one's seeking there is often an element of worry or anxiety that they may or may not obtain what they are seeking. The use of seek in a negative sense here is balanced by the use of seek in a positive sense in Lk 12:31-note.

Mattoon - The Lord gives us closing instructions on how to overcome the stress and worry in our lives. In a nutshell He says, "Get out of the way and put me first in your life. Let me drive and you get in the back seat." We are to seek Him first!

Do not seek (NIV paraphrases this "Do not set your heart on") -  This is a present imperative with a negative, calling for them to stop (or not to begin) seeking. The NET Bible translates it "do not be overly concerned about" and explains  that "do not seek could be misunderstood to mean that people should make no attempt to obtain their food. The translation "do not be overly concerned" attempts to reflect the force of the original." Other passages clearly teach of the value and honor of work. The distinction is that we are not to "obsess" over our food and our clothing.

Seek (2212)(zeteo)  implies giving attention and priority to and deliberately pursuing after. 

Why does Jesus mention food and clothing? Aren't these the basic necessities of life? And as such these basic elements stand for all of the things we need to live in this world, including housing, jobs, money, etc. Jesus is saying don't worry about any of these things.

Do not keep worrying - This is a present imperative with a negative, calling for them to stop (or not to begin) worrying about obtaining food and drink. This Greek word (used only here) for "keep worrying" is not identical to the Greek word for worry (merimnao) in Lk 12:22, 25, 26, but is a synonym conveying the sense of one who vacillates between the emotions of hope and fear. 

Hughes - Worry is intrinsically useless, and especially so for Christians because God knows what we need. When Lincoln was on his way to Washington to be inaugurated, he spent some time in New York with Horace Greeley and told him an anecdote that was meant to be an answer to the question everybody was asking him: Are we really going to have a civil war? In his circuit-riding days Lincoln and his companions, riding to the next session of court, had crossed many swollen rivers on one particular journey, but the formidable Fox River was still ahead of them. They said one to another, “If these streams give us so much trouble, how shall we get over the Fox River?” When darkness fell, they stopped for the night at a log tavern, where they fell in with the Methodist presiding elder of the district who rode through the country in all kinds of weather and knew all about the Fox River. They gathered about him and asked him about the present state of the river. “Oh, yes,” replied the circuit rider, “I know all about the Fox River. I have crossed it often and understand it well. But I have one fixed rule with regard to the Fox River—I never cross it till I reach it.” Worry projects the worst: the Fox becomes the mighty Mississippi at flood stage. The worrier is perpetually going unfed and unclothed. Worry loads the present with the weight of the future. And when you load the troubles you are anticipating upon the troubles you are presently experiencing, you give yourself an impossible burden. As George MacDonald wisely put it: “No man ever sank under the burden of the day. It is when tomorrow’s burden is added to the burden of today, that the weight is more than a man can bear.” Jesus said just that in his summary statement of the parallel passage in Matthew: “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own” (Matthew 6:34).  (Ibid)

Worrying (3349)(meteorizomai from metá = denoting change of place or condition + aeírō =  form of aírō  = to raise) means literally to lift up on high. This verb is used only here in NT in a figurative sense speaking of the mind, "meaning to be in suspense or of a doubtful mind, anxious, fluctuating between hope and fear. " (Zodhiates)  Thayer says it is "a metaphor taken from ships that are tossed about on the deep by winds and waves, “to cause one to waver or fluctuate in mind, to agitate or harass with cares to render anxious."

Gilbrant - In classical Greek and in the papyri meteōrizomai means “to raise on high,” “to exalt,” or “to suspend.” It implies the suspending of an object or even a person in midair. Figuratively, meteōrizomai is used in two ways: (1) “to raise up someone by hope,” “to lift up oneself,” “to be proud or arrogant”; (2) “to be unsettled, anxious, tense” or “to be suspended between fear and hope” (Liddell-Scott). (In Lk 12:29) The context indicates the second and less familiar meaning of “being anxious, doubtful” or suspended between fear and hope.

Meteorizomai - 7x in 6v in the Septuagint - Ps. 131:1; Ezek. 10:16; Ezek. 10:17; Ezek. 10:19; Obad. 1:4; Mic. 4:1

Ps 131:1 O LORD, my heart is not proud, nor my eyes haughty; Nor do I involve myself in great matters, Or in things too difficult for me. 

Obadiah 1:4  “Though you build high like the eagle, Though you set your nest among the stars, From there I will bring you down,” declares the LORD. 

Mic 4:1 - And it will come about in the last days That the mountain of the house of the LORD Will be established as the chief of the mountains. It will be raised above the hills, And the peoples will stream to it

ILLUSTRATION - I recently read that illustrates the world’s ways of seeking after more and more. An American businessman was at the pier of a small coastal Mexican village when a small boat with just one fisherman docked. Inside the small boat were several large yellow fin tuna. The American complimented the Mexican on the quality of his fish and asked how long it took to catch them.   The Mexican replied, “Only a little while.”
The American then asked why didn’t he stay out longer and catch more fish? The Mexican said that he had enough to support his family’s immediate needs. The American then asked, “But what do you do with the rest of your time?” The Mexican fisherman said, “I sleep late, fish a little, play with my children, take siesta with my wife, Maria, stroll into the village each evening, where I sip wine and play my guitar with my amigos. I have a full and busy life, senor.” The American scoffed, “I am a Harvard MBA and could help you. You should spend more time fishing and with the proceeds buy a bigger boat. With the proceeds from the bigger boat you could buy several boats. Eventually you would have a fleet of fishing boats. Instead of selling your catch to a middleman you would sell directly to the processor, eventually opening your own cannery. You would control the product, processing and distribution. You would need to leave this small coastal fishing village and move to Mexico City, then to L.A. and eventually to New York City, where you will run your expanding enterprise.” The Mexican fisherman asked, “But senor, how long will this all take?”   The American replied, “Fifteen to twenty years.” “But what then, senor?” The American laughed and said, “That’s the best part. When the time is right you would announce a stock offer, sell your company stock to the public, and become very rich. You would make millions.”   “Millions, senor? Then what?” The American said, “Then you would retire. Move to a small coastal fishing village where you would sleep late, fish a little, play with your kids, take siesta with your wife, stroll to the village in the evenings, where you could sip wine and play your guitar with your amigos.” (Steven Cole)

George Sweeting - Our English word worry is equivalent to the Greek word merimnao. It is a combination of two words: merizo, meaning "to divide," and nous, meaning "mind." Worry really means "to divide the mind." It means we are double-minded rather than single-minded. The apostle James warned, "A double-minded man [is] unstable in all his ways" (James 1:8). When we are double-minded, we resemble a monster with two heads facing in opposite directions, or we are like rudderless boats, unable to steer straight, "driven and tossed by the wind" (James 1:6). Charles Haddon Spurgeon, the great nineteenth-century preacher, once said that he worried for weeks before a speaking engagement, even to the extent of hoping he would break a leg and miss the event. When he finally entered the pulpit to give the speech, he was exhausted! Then Spurgeon faced up to his fear. He asked himself, What is the worst thing that could happen to me during my sermon? Whatever it was, he decided, the heavens would not collapse. He knew that He had been magnifying his fears. Once he faced his worries for what they were, he relaxed, simply because his mind was no longer divided.

ILLUSTRATION - While touring Italy, a man visited a cathedral that had been completed only on the outside. Once inside, the traveler found an artist kneeling before an enormous wall upon which he had just begun to create a mosaic. On some tables nearby were thousands of pieces of colored ceramic. Curious, the visitor asked the artist how he would ever finish such a large project. The artist answered that he knew how much he could accomplish in one day. Each morning, he marked off an area to be completed that day and didn't worry about what remained outside that space. That was the best he could do; and if he faithfully did his best, one day the mosaic would be finished. We are to be concerned about today and what God wants us to do today. Tomorrow will take care of itself. 

Luke 12:30  "For all these things the nations of the world eagerly seek; but your Father knows that you need these things.

KJV  For all these things do the nations of the world seek after: and your Father knoweth that ye have need of these things.

NIV - For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them. 


For (gar) - term of explanation. Jesus is explaining what we must stopping seeking and stop being overly concerned about our pantry and our clothes closet. 

All these things the nations of the world eagerly seek - "For all the nations of the world pursue these things."

Cole - Jesus says, “Don’t seek for the same things the nations eagerly seek.” There should be a distinct difference between us and the world regarding our pursuit of material gain. While hard work is a Christian virtue, anxiety about money is not! To get caught up with the world’s attitudes toward money is to forget that we have a Father who knows that we need all these things. (How to Solve Worries About Money)

The Lord is implying that worrying over temporal, material necessities like the Gentiles do is unbecoming to a child of the King! The love of material things characterizes the Gentiles (the heathen, the pagans), and in fact is in one sense only reasonable. Since they are without God and without hope in this world, it is natural that they seek to accumulate possessions which are the only security they possess (albeit a deceptively empty security). They don't possess, nor would they understand the promises of God to provide and so it seems wise for the heathen to accumulate all they can (and "can all they get"!) On the other hand, when citizens of the Kingdom of heaven make the pursuit of material things the goal of their life and seek security in temporal treasures, they put themselves on the level of the heathen who has no god. What may be fitting for the heathen is unfitting for the children of the Living God.

Spurgeon - Therefore he would have you so live — industriously, prudently, thriftily, — that you shall get these things, and shall not waste them when you have them; but he would not have you live in an anxious, worrying, depressed spirit, as if you had no God, no Heavenly Father, no all-sufficient Friend; and as if there were no all-wise providence, and you were left to drift about uncared for and alone. It is not so. O thou God of the lilies and God of the ravens, thou wilt be the God of thy people too!

Spurgeon - For you, the immortal, the twice-born, the very body-guard of Christ, to live for such things as the men of the world live for, is to degrade the peerage of heaven, to bring those who are of the blood royal of the skies down to a gross pursuit. No; let your whole thought, and heart, and life, be spent for something higher and better than these things; and leave the lower cares with your Father.

Matthew's parallel

Mt 6:32 “For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.

Paul gives an accurate, succinct description of the Nations (Gentiles) in 1 Th 4:5-note writing of "the Gentiles who do not know God."

Hendriksen remarks that "When church members hardly differ at all from “outsiders” in the ambitions they cherish, in the goals they try to achieve, in the manner in which they react to the disappointments and adversities of life, in the way they conduct their social events and parties, in the kind of literature they prefer to read, in the songs they prefer to sing, in their choice of friends with whom they feel at home, etc., there is something very wrong." (Ibid)

Nations (Gentiles - “Pagan world”) (1484)(ethnos gives us our word "ethnic") in general refers to a multitude (especially persons) associated with one another, living together, united in kinship, culture or traditions and summed up by the words nation, Gentiles (especially when ethnos is plural), people (much like "people groups" in our modern missionary vernacular). In somewhat of a negative sense ethnos conveys the meaning of godless (generally idol worshipping) pagans (heathens, cp Eph 4:17, Mt 6:32), foreign nations not worshipping the true God (Mt 4:15). Often ethnos stands in clear contradistinction to Jew (Ioudaios) (Gal 2:14). Ethnos sometimes refers to Gentile Christians (Ro 11:13, Ro 15:27, 16:4, Gal 2:12). Ethnos is used in the singular of the Jewish Nation (Lk 7:5; 23:2; Jn 11:48, 50-53; Jn 18:35; Acts 10:22; 24:2, 10; Acts 26:4; 28:19). Plato used ethnos of a special class of men, a caste, tribe. In the Septuagint ethnos was used for nation, people Ge 10:5; non-Jews, Gentiles Ps 2:1.

Related Resources:

Eagerly seek (present tense = continually)(1934)(epizeteo from epi = intensifies meaning + zeteo = try to learn location of something, searching for) means to search or look for (people [Jesus] Lk 4:42-note).  To have a strong desire for and so to wish for (Mt 6:32, Lk 12:30 Ro 11:7). Epizeteo is used to describe the wicked generation of Israel what was seeking (even craving) for a sign from Jesus, despite the multitude of signs He had already performed. This verb is surely one of the watchwords of the Madison Avenue mindset. In other words, every advertisement is calculated to make us eagerly seek their product, whether it is the latest I-Phone (my old I-Phone 4 still works great and my 12 year old car still has less than 50,000 miles and looks like new!) or the newest chic Armani purse, etc. Is this not somewhat of a commentary of the "American disease" known as "keeping up with the Jones?" We fret and worry and work ourselves almost to death to make enough money to keep pace with our rich neighbors. Of course this never happens to Christians! I am being facetious, because we what the nations are seeking and we begin to zealously seek to accumulate what they crave and we worry that we can't keep up. 

Harry Ironside - The nations of the world make the pursuit of these temporal things the main object of life. We are not to imitate them in this, but rather to be concerned first of all with pleasing God, and ordering our behavior in accordance with the righteous principles of His kingdom.

John Walvoord -  Although concern for earthly things characterized the unbelieving Gentile world, Christ reminded them that their Father knows their needs and that they should seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and that God would add the necessary temporal things to them. . (The Life of Faith in the Kingdom)

J C Ryle says Jesus "suggests to us that over-carefulness about the things of this world is most unworthy of a Christian. One great feature of paganism is living for the present. Let the pagan be anxious if he wants to; he knows nothing of a Father in heaven. But let the Christian, who has clearer light and knowledge, give proof of it by his faith and contentment. When we are bereaved of those we love, we are not to “grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope” (1 Th 4:13). When we are tried by anxieties about this life, we are not to be over-careful, as if we had no God, and no Christ." (Expository Thoughts)

MacArthur on the Nations (the pagans) - Those outside of God’s kingdom have no claim on Him—no promises, pledges, or guarantees. The only good in their lives comes from common grace. Their father, Satan (John 8:44), makes no promises and provides no benefits. Being dead to spiritual things (Eph. 2:1), “having no hope and without God in the world” (v. 12), and being “darkened in their understanding, excluded from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them” (4:18), the unregenerate focus on material things. They even create false gods in a vain attempt to help them in their quest, but those gods are only a reflection of evil men and demons—wicked, devious, selfish, violent, untrustworthy, indifferent, capricious, and merciless. Far from expecting help from such gods, the best people can hope for is to placate them. (Ibid)

Constable - Since God provides so bountifully for His own, it is not only foolish but pagan to fret about the basic necessities of life. The fretting disciple lives as an unbeliever who disbelieves and disregards God. Such a person devotes too much of his or her attention to the accumulation of material goods and disregards the more important things in life. (Tom Constable's Expository Notes on the Bible)

Though I know not what awaits me,
What the future has in store,
Yet I know the Lord is faithful,
For I've proved Him oft before.

But your Father knows that you need these things - The word "your" is emphatic (first word in this clause). The key words here are "need" not greed and "these things", the essentials of food and clothing. God's knowledge is like the title of the popular 1950's television show  "Father knows best!" Notice that the use of the phrase "your Father" (cf Mt 6:9-note) indicates that this teaching is clearly intended for those who are believers in Jesus Christ. 

Spurgeon - He knows that you must go and work for these things; but he would not have you fret and fume about them. “Your Father knows.” He will provide. It is enough for him to know his children’s wants, and he will be sure to provide for them.

Spurgeon - Is not that a sweet word? “Your Father knoweth that ye have need of these things.” There used to be a hymn which was sung a good deal at revival meetings, it had a very sweet refrain, “This my Father knows.” If you cannot yourselves understand your ease, your Father knows all about it. If you cannot make other people comprehend it, yet your Father knows all that needs to be known. Whatever you really require, even for the present life, need not be any cause of anxiety to you, believers, for “your Father knoweth that ye have need of these things.” There is no need, therefore, for you to seek “what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink.”

MacArthur - In striking contrast to the lifeless gods of the pagans, our heavenly Father knows that we need these material things that the unregenerate so desperately seek. Not only does He know, He also sympathizes, and has unlimited resources and power to meet every need of His children. Understanding God’s fatherhood removes any legitimate cause for worry, fear, or anxiety. (Ibid)

Knows (1492) (eido - perfect tense = oida) speaks of knowledge which comes from one's state of being and in case since it refers to God, it is synonymous with His omniscience. It reflects an absolute, positive, beyond a doubt, knowledge of our situation, independent of whether we "feel" like He knows or cares. The point is He always knows our deepest need.

Need (5535) (chrezo from chreia = need, necessity) means to have need of. God knows our personal needs (and our greeds), but we can count on Him supplying only our needs. (See Anne Ortlund's devotional - Fix Your Eyes On Jesus - 44 excellent meditations when you struggle financially)

These things include food, drink, clothing, the essentials of life. Have you just lost your job and need a job? Guess what? God knows! This provides us with a great incentive to pray with confidence for our needs as Jesus taught in Mt 6:8-note.

The psalmist reminds us that ...

Just as a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear Him. (Psalms 103:13)

Spurgeon comments on this verse - "Fathers feel for their children, especially when they are in pain; they would like to suffer in their stead, their sighs and groans cut them to the quick: thus sensitive towards us is our Heavenly Father. His pity never fails to flow, and we never cease to need it.

Lawrence Richards - The pagan is gripped by anxiety because he faces an uncertain tomorrow. The Christian, who has a personal relationship with God as his Father, relies on One who not only knows, but also controls tomorrow. When we appreciate how much God loves us, we no longer feel pressure to “run after” even the necessities of life. This frees us to set right priorities, and “seek first His kingdom and His righteousness”. What a joy to worry about nothing except pleasing Jesus! (365 Day Devotional Commentary)

God has His own way of taking care of us. James Montgomery Boice shared the story of a man named Hotchkiss that went to Nigeria for forty years as a missionary. One day he was late for a service he was to conduct in a village located across a large plain. There was a rule in Nigeria in those days that no one ever crossed a large open space for fear of stampedes by the herds of wild animals that grazed the country side.297 A safe path could always be taken within a short run of the trees.
Hotchkiss was late, and he knew the quickest way to the village was across the plains. He started out and sure enough, about half way across the plain, he was caught in the path of a rhinoceros stampede. He was trapped with nowhere to go or hide. The rumbling thunder and dust cloud continued to approach the faithful missionary who hugged his Bible to his chest, and knelt in prayer saying, "Lord, I'm coming home."
It seemed like eternity as the missionary waited for the inedible. The roar intensified and his heart beat faster and faster, but then, the roar began to soften and fade away until all was quiet. Hotchiss got up and found himself in the midst of footprints from, over one hundred rhinoceros. He was actually alive, and went on to the church service in the village. It was a miracle and a tribute to God's protection.
Years later, a couple from Ohio visited Hotchkiss in Nigeria. In the course of their conversation, the husband said to the missionary, "I had a most unusual experience once that involved you. One night I woke up suddenly with an irresistible urge to pray for you. I did, committing you to God's safekeeping." Hotchkiss asked if he remembered when this took place. The man had written the event down in his Bible that very night. When they compared the times, it was on the same day and at the same hour that Hotchkiss had been miraculously spared on the Nigerian plain.
Never underestimate the power of prayer and do not ignore the urges of the Holy Spirit to pray for others. Don't neglect the opportunities to take your cares to the Lord in prayer and then wait and watch Him work out the solutions. (Mattoon)

Bread to Hold - In his book God’s Psychiatry, Charles L. Allen tells this story - “As World War II was drawing to a close, the Allied armies gathered up many hungry orphans. They were placed in camps where they were well-fed. Despite excellent care, they slept poorly. They seemed nervous and afraid. Finally, a psychologist came up with the solution. Each child was given a piece of bread to hold after he was put to bed. This particular piece of bread was just to be held—not eaten. The piece of bread produced wonderful results. The children went to bed knowing instinctively they would have food to eat the next day. That guarantee gave the children a restful and contented sleep.”

Dandelions And Dollars - Several years ago I was a missionary home on furlough, feeling anxious about my mounting financial needs. One morning at the farmhouse where I was staying, I talked with the Lord and finally handed over these needs to Him.

Later I was strolling through a field full of dandelions. Glancing down, I saw at my feet a crisp one-dollar bill! As I picked it up, I sensed that God wanted me to know that He would take care of me and my needs. If He wanted to, He could turn dandelions into dollars! I've carried that dollar bill with me ever since as a reminder of God's power to provide.

In Luke 12, Jesus referred to His Father's care of the "birds of the air" and the "lilies of the field" to illustrate His eagerness to meet our material needs. He also taught that we will have what we need if we focus on spiritual priorities. Instead of being preoccupied with worry about personal needs, we should be occupied with God's kingdom and His righteousness. And when we are, we can be assured that not some, not most, but all things that we need will be supplied.

Let's ask ourselves often: Am I preoccupied with material concerns or occupied with God's kingdom and His righteousness? We can't do both. —Joanie Yoder (Ibid)

The One who feeds the birds
And clothes the lilies fair
Will surely meet our needs
If we His purpose share. --DJD

If all we want is to please the Lord,
we'll have everything we need.

Enough For Today - Life can be monotonous. The road that lies before us seems to stretch mile after mile across a flat, barren desert with no oasis in sight. How then are we to handle wearisome responsibilities when there's no foreseeable relief from our burdens?

Oliver de Vinck, severely disabled from birth, lay helplessly on his bed for all of his 32 years, unable to care for himself. Day after day and year after year his parents put every spoonful of food into his mouth, changed his diapers, and still maintained a happy home.

One day Oliver's brother Christopher asked his father how they managed. He explained that they didn't worry about the long succession of tomorrows that might lie before them. They lived a day at a time, asking, "Can I feed Oliver today?" And the answer always was, "Yes, today I can do it."

Jesus taught us how we can handle life's routine: "Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble" (6:34). In faith--and with prayer--we can break life and its often wearisome tasks into bite-size pieces, entrusting the unpredictable future to the grace of Him who promises that "as your days, so shall your strength be" (Dt. 33:25). —Vernon C Grounds (Ibid)

The road I'm on is twisted, Lord,
Its end defies my view;
Teach me to take each step in faith
And leave the rest to You. --Gustafson

God supplies all our needs--one day at a time.

CONTENTMENT - If we could look behind the unexpected events in our lives, we would be amazed to see God wonderfully providing for our needs. The insig­nificant turns in the road, the seemingly unimportant events, the often unexplained happenings—all are part of God's loving care. His gracious providence is also evident in our tangible provisions. In Bristol, England, George Muller operated an orphanage for two thousand children. One evening, knowing they had no food for break-fast the next morning, Muller called his workers together and ex­plained the situation. After two or three prayed, Muller said, "That is sufficient. Let us rise and praise God for prayer answered." The next morning they could not push open the great front door. To see what was holding it closed, they went out the back door and around the building. Stacked up against the front door were boxes filled with food. One of the workers later remarked, "We know Who sent the baskets, but we do not know who brought them!" God uses many messengers and means to deliver His gifts, whether they are material or spiritual provisions. We may not always recognize that His hand is working behind the scenes, but it is. Sometimes we get down to the last of our resources, but we can rest assured that the Father knows exactly what we need. And this brings contentment to our hearts. Knowing the Source, we can leave to Him the method of His supply. —P.R.V. (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)

God often sends His help by way of human hands.

See also 

Luke 12:31  "But seek His kingdom, and these things will be added to you.

KJV Luke 12:31 But rather seek ye the kingdom of God; and all these things shall be added unto you.


Matthew's version 

But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. 34 “So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. (Mt 6:33-34)

But seek His kingdom - Matthew's version also has "seek first." In Luke 12:22-31 what Jesus has done is reduce that for which we seek to two categories, the essentials of life versus God's Kingdom and righteousness. Seeking for the former will make us anxious and worried. Seeking for God will give us peace that passes human understanding. Jesus gives God's key to open the door to freedom from worry and anxiety - make the conscious, volitional choice every day of your life that your thoughts and actions will demonstrate that the kingdom of God is your priority in this world which is passing away.

Spurgeon - He may not give you much here; but, in due time, he will give you the kingdom. He may give to worldlings more of these secondary things —these husks, these mere illusions, these mirages of the desert — than he gives to you; but for you there is prepared a city that hath foundations, and a kingdom that shall never pass away. Therefore patiently wait until the appointed time; and fear not; “for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.”

Spurgeon - When Abraham had many sons, he gave to each one of them a portion and sent them away; but Isaac had the family heritage. It is the same with you. The Lord may give to others more than he bestows upon you in this life, but for you he reserves the kingdom. Are you not content with that, whatever else your Father gives you or withholds from you? Thrown in as a kind of make-weight. You get the spiritual, and then the common blessings of life shall be added unto you.

MacArthur on seek His kingdom - The consuming interest of the believer’s life is the kingdom of God, the sphere of salvation where God rules as King and Lord. Everything is to be done for the honor and advance of the lordship of Christ. (Ibid)

Steven Cole -  We should seek God’s kingdom and He will take care of our basic needs (Lk 12:31-34). Jesus gives a command (Lk 12:31a), an assurance (Lk 12:31a-32), an application (Lk 12:33), and an explanation (Lk 12:34).  Command: Seek God’s kingdom (Lk 12:31a). In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus expressed it, “Seek first His kingdom and righteousness” (Matt. 6:33). What does it mean in practical terms to seek God’s kingdom? Does it mean that everyone has to become a missionary or full-time Christian worker? Obviously, not! God’s kingdom is where He rules. To seek His kingdom means to put God first as Lord of everything in our lives and to aim each day at furthering His rule over us and over others. The day is soon coming when Jesus will return and rule the nations with a rod of iron. But until then, we are to live under His lordship in every area of our lives. And we are to seek to further His rightful rule over others as they come to faith in Christ and then live under His lordship. In other words, God is not just to be a slice of life on Sundays or whenever we find Him useful to further our agendas. Rather, He is to be the center of all we think, say, and do every day. He is Lord over every facet of our lives, including our money. We live as His servants or stewards, seeking to glorify Him. That’s what it means to seek His kingdom. (How to Solve Worries About Money)

Have you every heard of "worry beads" (fidget beads or komboloi [from kombos = knot or large number of knots + loi = a group that sticks together] in modern Greece) which is a string of beads that when fingered or played with supposedly relieves nervous tension? You can get them at some great prices on EBay but they don't work! However Jesus' powerful teaching Luke 12:22-30 and culminating in His command in Luke 12:31 is the truth that can set you free if diligently "fingered" (i.e., mediated upon and put into daily practice).

Hendriksen - Christ’s disciples are being urged, therefore, to see to it that the rule of God is being established more and more in their own lives and in the lives of others. The reward of grace is this, that while they are concentrating all their attention on establishing God’s kingdom everywhere, their heavenly Father sees to it that they do not only have an abundance of spiritual blessings, but also, in addition, food and clothing. The necessities of daily living will not be lacking to them. (Ibid)

What Jesus is saying is that in essence "What you seek, you find." This principle reverberates throughout the Bible...

But from there you will seek the LORD your God, and you will find Him if you search for Him with all your heart and all your soul. (Deut 4:29)

As for you, my son Solomon, know the God of your father, and serve Him with a whole heart and a willing mind; for the LORD searches all hearts, and understands every intent of the thoughts. If you seek Him, He will let you find Him; but if you forsake Him, He will reject you forever. (1Chronicles 28:9)

Related Resource on One Thing - See Commentary on Luke 10:42 = "only one thing is necessary"

Bock - Matthew 6:33 has a longer form of this saying. He speaks of seeking “first” God’s kingdom “and his righteousness,” and “all” these things shall be added to you. These are not different ideas, since to seek his kingdom is to seek to live in a way that honors God’s presence and rule. (Ibid)

Seek (2212) (zeteo) means to try to learn where something is or try to find as a searching for what is lost seek. To attempt to learn something by careful investigation or searching. Seeking in the present context speaks of a single minded focus, as when one's eye is "single" (clear) (Mt 6:22, 23-noteZeteo is in the present imperative so what Jesus is saying is that the antidote to worrying is to make a daily choice, your habitual practice to prioritize God's kingdom and righteousness. The world won't stop tempting you to seek it's passing pleasures, and one of the best "defenses" is a good "offense", in this case seeking the things above where the King sits at the right hand of His Father (Col 3:1-note, Col 3:2-note).

Caveat - Don't attempt to obey Jesus' command to seek in your own (old man) strength! You will fail and experience frustration. And you will in effect place yourself under the yoke of legalism. The only way to obey this command to seek as our practice (present tense = continually, habitually and remember we're talking about "direction" not "perfection") is by daily dying to self and jettisoning self-effort and self-sufficiency (to live the supernatural/Christian life), daily seeking to be wholly controlled by the Holy Spirit. The Spirit is in us and is continually energizing us, giving us the supernatural desire and the supernatural power we need (Phill2:13NLT-note) so that we might effectively, successively work out our salvation in fear and trembling (Phil 2:12-note). To put it another way, we need to learn to depend on the Spirit's power to enable us to work out what He works in! Do you see the difference? Self-effort versus Spirit energization! The first is natural and the second supernatural power. And this command (not to mention all >1500 commands in the NT! See discussion of commands and need for the Spirit) can only be obeyed supernaturally. This is a process which we need to practice, daily seeking to be filled with (controlled by) the Spirit of Jesus (Eph 5:18-note) so that we might continually walk by the self-same Spirit and then (and only then) we will not carry out the desires of our flesh (Gal 5:16-note). It follows that we will need to be sensitive to those thoughts, words and action in our life which quench the Spirit (1Thes 5:19-note) or grieve the Spirit (Eph 4:30-note) lest we "short circuit" our Source of power (dunamis)! Paul reminded the saints at Galatia of their abject need to for dependence on the Holy Spirit asking "Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?" (Galatians 3:3) Of course the answer is a resounding "No" as all of us can attest from personal experience!

Notice then that Jesus is not suggesting but commanding all citizens of the Kingdom of heaven who still live on earth to cease making material things the center of their life ("stop worrying" Mt 6:25-32). Instead the believer's lifelong pursuit is not for things but the presence, pleasure and Person of Jesus Christ our Lord and our King ("kingdom" always indicates a "king"). See related resource by Anne Ortlund - Fix Your Eyes on Jesus

Dear Lord, may the words of Johnson Oatman's great hymn be our soul's deepest desire...

Higher Ground
I’m pressing on the upward way,
New heights I’m gaining every day;
Still praying as I’m onward bound,
“Lord, plant my feet on higher ground.”

Lord, lift me up and let me stand,
By faith, on Heaven’s table land,
A higher plane than I have found;
Lord, plant my feet on higher ground.

My heart has no desire to stay
Where doubts arise and fears dismay;
Though some may dwell where those abound,
My prayer, my aim, is higher ground.

I want to live above the world,
Though Satan’s darts at me are hurled;
For faith has caught the joyful sound,
The song of saints on higher ground.

I want to scale the utmost height
And catch a gleam of glory bright;
But still I’ll pray till Heav’n I’ve found,
“Lord, plant my feet on higher ground.”

Spurgeon writes that...

When I had resolved to enter college, walking across Midsummer Common, just outside of Cambridge, revolving in my mind the joys of scholarship and the hope of being something in the world, that text came to my heart,

"Seekest thou great things for thyself? Seek them not" (Jer. 45:5)

"Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you."

All was given up, everything was renounced, the finest pros­pects seemed to melt into thin air, merely on the strength of that text, believing that God would most certainly fulfill to me his promise if I could keep his precept.

God will always keep His word to the letter. Actually He will usually go beyond what the letter seems to mean. In this instance (cf "And the LORD gave Solomon wisdom, as he promised him" 1 Kings 5:12), while He gave Solomon wisdom, He also added to him riches and a thousand other things which did not appear in the compact.

Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you (Matt. 6:33).

He who makes promises about infinite blessings will throw in everyday things as if they were of small account and were given in as a matter of course, like the grocer’s paper bags in which he packs up our purchases.

Kingdom (932)(basileia from basileus = a sovereign, king, monarch) denotes sovereignty, royal power, dominion. Basileia can also refer to the territory or people over whom a king rules

These things will be added to you - What are these things? He has just described "these things the nations of the world eagerly seek." (Lk 12:30).

Cole says this speaks of assurance, for the "Father will provide for all our needs if we focus on His kingdom (Lk 12:31a-32). “These things” refers to the things the nations seek, namely, food, clothing, and other material needs. The thought of not seeking after these things, but rather of seeking God’s kingdom, causes some anxiety, even among God’s people. Thus Jesus says, “Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has chosen gladly to give you the kingdom.” (Lk 12:32) A little flock sounds pretty vulnerable in the midst of a dog-eat-dog world. But Jesus wants us to feel assured that none other than a loving Heavenly Father is watching out for us if we are committed to seek His kingdom. The full measure of kingdom blessings awaits us in the future, but even in the difficulties of this evil world, we can trust that the Father’s abundant mercies are on us because of His gracious choice of us.

Joseph Stowell - TREASURE FOR ETERNITY —Matthew 6:33 The disciples were no doubt delighted with Jesus’ reproof of the man who was rich with earthly goods but poor in that he had no relationship with God (Luke 12). This was a message for the pagans . . .  they were off the hook. Until he turned to them and asked why they were so distracted by earthly things and so uninterested in the kingdom. We have probably heard that living to promote and participate in the kingdom of Christ is important. But what would it mean if we really lived to “seek first His kingdom”? First, we must understand the essence of the kingdom. At its core is the reality of eternity. Christ hammered home the kingdom truth that there is something significant beyond the grave. This truth guided His view of this life. From Christ’s perspective, it made little sense to invest your life only in things you will not be able to take with you. He had a point. I have been to many funerals, and I have yet to see a Brink’s truck or a U-Haul following the hearse. A Spanish proverb says, “Shrouds have no pockets.” Christ taught that in this life we should live so as to make a difference in eternity. Just a few verses before Christ gave His call to the priority of kingdom things, He anticipated that point by saying, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:19–21). Someone has paraphrased this statement of Christ by saying, “You can’t take it with you, but you can send it on ahead.” Christ commands us to inventory our lives for the future. Think of your children, your money, your strength, and your gifts as investments in your kingdom portfolio. If the kingdom had a national hymn, it would be, “Only one life, ’twill soon be past; only what’s done for Christ will last.” What treasures of eternal significance have you stored in heaven? (Strength for the Journey)

During the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, a busy merchant was chosen by Her Majesty to fulfill an important ambassadorial mission. Informed of this honor, he asked to be excused, saying that it would cause him monetary loss and severely interrupt the supervision of his industrial activities. To this the Queen replied, "You look after my business abroad, and I will look after yours at home." The gentleman accepted the appointment and was gone for several years. When he returned, he found that the Queen, true to her word, had more than adequately taken care of his affairs.

To be faithful disciples of Jesus requires that we give the Savior top priority in all things, trusting Him fully to take care of our needs.

God gives His best blessings to those who put Christ first. Does He have top priority in your life? —H. G. Bosch (Ibid)

He who offers God second place
offers him no place.

First Things First - In the late 19th century John Wanamaker opened a department store in Philadelphia. Within a few years that enterprise had become one of the most successful businesses in the country. But operating his store wasn’t Wanamaker’s only responsibility. He was also named Postmaster General of the United States, and he served as superintendent for what was then the largest Sunday school in the world at Bethany Presbyterian Church. When someone asked him how he could hold all those positions at once, he explained. “Early in life I read, ‘Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you.’ The Sunday school is my business, all the rest are the things.” One evidence of Wanamaker’s desire to keep the Lord’s work first in his life was a specially constructed soundproof room in his store. Every day he spent 30 minutes there praying and meditating upon God’s Word. He had his priorities straight!

Planned Neglect - Have you ever noticed how the saints in the Bible were eager to let God have His way in their lives? They bestirred themselves as soon as dawn touched the sky in order to worship Him and seek His leading. For example, Abraham got up very early to stand before the Lord (Gen. 19:27). Jacob in like manner arose from his stony pillows to worship God after having seen a vision of angels in the night (Gen. 28:18). Moses went early to meet the Lord at Sinai (Ex. 34:4). Joshua did the same when he pre-pared to capture Jericho (Josh. 6:12), and Gideon followed their example when he made his way at dawn to examine the fleece that he had cast upon the ground to discern Jehovah's will (Judg. 6:38). Hannah and Elkanah arose early to worship God (1 Sam. 1:19), as did Samuel when he went to meet Saul (1 Sam. 15: 12). Job left his warm bed to offer sacrifices for his children (Job 1:5), and the faithful women who had followed the Savior arose at daybreak that they might go to the sepulcher on the first Easter morn (Mark 16:2). Say, have you ever gotten up early to study God's Word, to pray, and to seek His will? Does He have priority in all you do?

A noted young concert artist was asked the secret of her success with the violin. "Planned neglect!" she replied, and then ex­plained. "Years ago I discovered that there were many things which demanded my time. After washing breakfast dishes, I made my bed, straightened my room, dusted the furniture, and did a host of other things. I then turned my attention to violin practice. That system, however, failed to accomplish the desired results. So I realized I had to reverse things. I deliberately set aside every-thing else until my practice period was ended. That program of planned neglect accounts for my success!"

Christian, put priority on daily Bible study and prayer, even if you must neglect some secondary things. "Seek ye first the kingdom of God!"

He who puts God first will find God with him at the last!

ILLUSTRATION - For many of us one of the major obstacles to seeking first His kingdom is the persistent, pesky Problem with Priorities -  I’ve shared before the story of the time management expert who was speaking to a group of business students. He pulled out a large, wide-mouth jar and filled it with fist-sized rocks. When he couldn’t put any more in, he asked, “Is this jar full?” The class responded, “Yes.” He said, “Really?” Then he pulled out a bucket of gravel and poured it in, shaking it down through the cracks. Then he asked, “Is the jar full?” The students were onto him, so they said, “No.” “Good,” he replied. He dumped in a bucket of sand. Once more he asked, “Is the jar full?” “No,” they shouted. Again he said, “Good.” He poured in a pitcher of water until the jar was full to the brim. Then he asked, “What is the point of the illustration?” One student ventured, “No matter how full your schedule, if you try hard, you can always fit more in.” “No,” the speaker replied, “that is not the point. The point is, if you don’t put the big rocks in first, you’ll never get them in at all.” (First Things First, by Stephen Covey, Roger & Rebecca Merrill [Simon & Schuster], pp. 88-89.) Editorial comment - What should our “big rocks” be? Jesus and His Word! Put them first in your life! If we put the pebbles, or sand, etc, in first, we won't find time (room) for Jesus the King of kings and His living Word which endures forever! (from Steven Cole)

Joseph Stowell - A PURPOSE BEYOND OURSELVES—Luke 12:30–31
It’s amazing how many of us have become disoriented by the seduction of success. Even those of us who have little and have been unable to make a big splash in this world often live with the regret that life didn’t turn out as well as we had hoped. It’s time for us to get a biblical life! The late Ted DeMoss, former chairman of the Christian Business Men’s Committee, tells of a friend, John Herman, whose lifelong ambition had been to meet the brilliant criminal lawyer Clarence Darrow of the Scopes “monkey trial” fame. It was arranged for the two men to meet. Sitting in the attorney’s living room, Herman asked Darrow, “Now that you’ve come this far in life and you’re not doing much lecturing or teaching or writing anymore, how would you sum up your life?” Without hesitation, Darrow walked over to a coffee table and picked up the Bible. This took Herman by surprise, since Darrow was an atheist who had spent much of his life publicly ridiculing Scripture. “This verse in the Bible describes my life.” Darrow turned to the fifth chapter of Luke, the fifth verse. He changed the “we” to “I”: “I have toiled all the night, and have taken nothing” (see KJV). He closed the Bible, put it back on the coffee table, and looked Herman straight in the face. “I have lived a life without purpose, without meaning, without direction. I don’t know where I came from. And I don’t know what I’m doing here. And worst of all, I don’t know what’s going to happen to me when I punch out of here.” Take it from those who have cut their own wake and arrived in the fantasyland of fame and fortune without God: We need something more in life than we can supply. Our hearts long for something beyond ourselves, for a cause that can give meaning and value to life. What is the cause that drives your life? Of what significance will it be at the threshold of eternity? Do you need to refocus? (Strength for the Journey)

Beyond Our Dreams - Luke 12:31

  October 13, 2000  

Read: Luke 12:15-31 | Bible in a Year: Isaiah 41-42; 1 Thessalonians 1

Beware of covetousness, for one's life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses. —Luke 12:15

According to research by university professors Richard Ryan and Tim Kasser, there’s a dark side to the “American dream” of prosperity, and the problem isn’t confined to the United States. Based on data collected from subjects in 12 countries, Kasser says that in every culture he’s studied, there are psychologically unhelpful and often destructive results from pursuing wealth. The problem is not having money, but “living a life where that’s your focus.”

In today’s Scripture, Jesus warned His followers: “Take heed and beware of covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses” (Luke 12:15). But our lingering conviction that more money will bring us more happiness and satisfaction makes it difficult to believe either the psychologists or the Son of God.

To counter our natural tendency toward covetousness, Christ urged us to be rich toward God and to trust Him for all our needs. He commands us to “seek the kingdom of God,” and promises that “all these things” (life’s necessities) will be added to us (Luke 12:31).

Making Christ our focus does not guarantee prosperity but joy and contentment beyond our dreams.By David C. McCasland

True happiness comes not from wealth,
Real peace you can never buy;
The contentment that you long for
Is in Christ who reigns on high. —Fitzhugh

Our greatest riches are the riches we have in Christ.

Which World?. —Matthew 6:33 Read: Luke 12:15-31 

“How is your son John doing?” said a pastor to the father of a prosperous young man.

“Oh,” said the proud father, “John is doing very well. He is really getting along in the world.”

After a moment’s hesitation, the pastor asked, “Which world?”

Yes, that is the important question. As you get ready to go to your work in the shop, the factory, the office, or the home, what is your chief interest? Is it merely to make money and enjoy yourself, or is your desire to live your life today for Christ?

Jesus said, “Seek first the kingdom of God” (Mt. 6:33). Put first things first. Your life here will last at best a few years, but the life hereafter will last for eternity. If you have settled your eternal destiny by trusting the Lord Jesus, surely you can trust Him for material things.

What is your greatest desire for today? Is it to please God and lay up riches for eternity? Or is it merely to “get along” in this world?

Jesus said, “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, . . . but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven . . . . For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Mt. 6:19-21).By M.R. DeHaan

I am resolved no longer to linger,
Charmed by the world's delight;
Things that are higher, things that are nobler—
These have allured my sight. —Hartsough

To make the most of today, Keep eternity in mind.

Luke 12:32  "Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has chosen gladly to give you the kingdom.

KJV Luke 12:32 Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom.

  • Do not be afraid, little flock Song 1:7,8; Isa 40:11; 41:14;  Isa 53:6; Mt 7:15; 18:12-14; 20:16; Jn 10:26-30
  • your Father has chosen gladly to give you Luke 10:21; Mt 11:25-27; Eph 1:5-9; Phil 2:13; 2 Th 1:11
  • the kingdom Jer 3:19; Mt 25:34; Jn 18:36; Ro 6:23; 8:28-32; 2 Th 1:5; Heb 12:28; James 2:5; 1 Pet 1:3-5; 2 Peter 1:11; Rev 1:6; 22:5
  • Luke 12 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries
  • Luke 12:22-34 How to Solve Worries About Money - Steven Cole
  • Luke 12:32-34 Anxiety-Free Living, Part 3 - John MacArthur


Jesus reminds them (and us) though small in numbers, the flock is dear to the Father! And because the Father is please to give them (us) the kingdom, there is no reason to fear. 

Fear what? In context probably persecution or pressure for being a follower of Jesus. A natural response is anxiety. 

Mattoon on Fear not, little flock - If there was ever at time to be bold for the Lord, it is now. We are not to be gripped by the fear of men's opinions or what they can do to us. Such fear leads to being entangled and bound by the opinions and intimidation of men. Solomon warned us about this kind of fear. Proverbs 29:25—The fear of man bringeth a snare: but whoso putteth his trust in the Lord shall be safe. Conquering our fear about serving Christ is vital because the eternal destiny of friends and family are at stake. If we do not reach them for Christ, they will be lost forever in the flames of Hell. Some may ask, "How do you get the boldness to speak to others about Christ?" Boldness comes from having a clear conscience, a close walk with God, and from the power of the Holy Spirit working in our life (1 Th 2:10, Acts 4:13, Acts 4:31)

ILLUSTRATIONHugh Lattimer (read of his martydom; see Martyr's Monument at Oxford) once preached before King Henry VIII. Henry was greatly displeased by the boldness in the sermon and ordered Latimer to preach again on the following Sunday and apologize for the offence he had given.The next Sunday, after reading his text, he thus began his sermon: "Hugh Latimer, dost thou know before whom thou are this day to speak? To the high and mighty monarch, the king's most excellent majesty, who can take away thy life, if thou offendest. Therefore, take heed that thou speakest not a word that may displease. But then consider well, Hugh, dost thou not know from whence thou comest—upon Whose message thou are sent? Even by the great and mighty God, Who is all-present and Who beholdeth all thy ways and Who is able to cast thy soul into hell! Therefore, take care that thou deliverest thy message faithfully." He then preached the same sermon he had preached the preceding Sunday—and with considerably more energy. Latimer was faithful to the Lord. It was under the reign of Queen Bloody Mary, that he was burned alive at the stake for his faith in Christ and God's Word. On that day, Latimer was executed beside another Christian, Nicholas Ridley. In the hours before his death, with great boldness, Lattimer is quoted as having said to Ridley: Be of good comfort, Master Ridley, and play the man; we shall this day light such a candle, by God's grace, in England, as I trust shall never be put out. Lattimer was a man that conquered his fear in order to do what God led him to do. (Mattoon)

Do not be afraid (5399)(phobeo from phobos = fear source of our English "phobia") means to be in an apprehensive state that can range from mild uneasiness to stark terror as when one is frightened, terrified or alarmed. (Mt 10:31). Phobeo can be a fear of man (Lk 20:19, Mt 2:22, Mt 21:26, 46) as when Peter feared "the party of the circumcision" (Gal 2:12) which motivated him "to withdraw and hold himself aloof." Pilate experienced fear when he was about to sentence Jesus to death (Jn 19:8). Fear of people kept religious leaders from laying hands on Jesus (Luke 20:19) On the other hand Moses did not fear man (pharaoh - Heb 11:27) Believers were afraid of Paul after his Damascus Road experience, not realizing he had been born again (Lk 9:26).

Wayne Detzler on the root word phobos - In ancient Greek the word phobos came from the word phebomai meaning to flee, or to be startled. Thus phobos meant flight or terror, and was connected with fear of the unknown, fear of the future, and fear of authorities. It also took on the meaning of fear or reverence for God.  (New Testament Words in Today's Language)

Little flock - This is a metaphorical description of people who have believed in Jesus the Good Shepherd and are His sheep. In John 10 Jesus explains

“I am the good shepherd, and I know My own and My own know Me, 15 even as the Father knows Me and I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep. 16 “I have other sheep, which are not of this fold; I must bring them also, and they will hear My voice; and they will become one flock with one shepherd.  (John 10:14-16)

Why might the sheep of the flock be afraid? In Luke 10:3 Jesus warned

Go; behold, I send you out as lambs in the midst of wolves. (cf Paul's warning in Acts 20:29-note)

In Mt 26:31 we read Jesus' prophetic warning to His disciples

“You will all fall away because of Me this night, for it is written, ‘I WILL STRIKE DOWN THE SHEPHERD, AND THE SHEEP OF THE FLOCK SHALL BE SCATTERED.’

Jesus assures His followers that they have no reason to fear when they experience opposition (which He told them would occur). His words remind us of those Jehovah (Josh 1:1) gave to Joshua as he prepared to enter the promised land filled with God hating peoples

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9)

Flock (4168)(poimnion  from poimen = shepherd) was literally a flock of sheep but in the NT is applied only figuratively to spiritual sheep that make the community of Jesus' disciples, citizens of the Kingdom of Heaven.

For (hoti) is a term of explanation which always begs at least one question "What is being explained?" Jesus is telling the little flock (that He knows will be hated, rejected and even sometimes killed) that they have a reward, not this present, passing, evil world but the future Kingdom of God. In fact in Revelation 5 John described their future in the Kingdom of God:

And they sang a new song, saying, “Worthy are You to take the book and to break its seals; for You were slain, and purchased for God with Your blood men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation. You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to our God; and they will reign upon the earth (Ed: referring to the Millennium or another description here).” (Revelation 5:9-10-note)

Your Father - This is addressed to God's children, believers in Christ the Son of God, for they are the only ones who can genuinely call God their Father (see Jn 1:12-note, 1 Jn 3:1-note). 

Mattoon - A second principle that is needed in preparing for the second coming of Christ is to realize that your future is in God's hands. Fretting over today or the past is a waste of energy and is a distraction. God wants us to be at peace about our future and be focused on serving Him and reaching others for Christ until He returns. In Christ, we are joint-heirs of the kingdom of God because we become sons of God when we put our faith in Him. We have so much to look forward to in the days ahead of us. (Jn 1:12-note, Ro 8:16-17-note

Father (3962)(pater) is the genitor (a begetter), by whom another is begotten. Stated more simply this is a man who has begotten a child. Father is the progenitor, the ancestor in the direct line (a forefather -- thus Adam was the "progenitor" of the Human Race).

Bock on chosen gladly to give you the kingdom - The promise of the kingdom is not specified or described in detail. What seems to be in view are kingdom blessings that are the product of pursuing the kingdom. In other words, pursuit of the kingdom is a goal that can be realized. Above all, secure relationship with God is alluded to in the promise, one that can bring stability and absence of anxiety.

Spurgeon on give you the kingdom - That is your share. Others may have inferior joys; but you are to have the kingdom. The Lord could not give you more than that; and he will not give you less.

Has chosen gladly to give you the kingdom - Notice that give is past tense for while it is primarily a future kingdom, that kingdom is so sure that Jesus uses the past tense. One may also say that there is a sense in which the kingdom is the present rule of God within the hearts of all of Christ's followers. 

MacArthur on gladly to give you the kingdom-  It is God’s good pleasure to grant the kingdom in all its fullness to His children. All of its riches of righteousness, peace, and joy (Rom. 14:17) are theirs as “heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ” (Ro 8:17), with whom He will “freely give [them] all things” (Lk 12:32; cf. Matt. 25:21, 23, 34; Luke 22:29; 2 Cor. 9:8; Eph. 1:3–14; James 2:5; 2 Peter 1:3–4). Here is yet another reason that worry is foolish and unnecessary for believers. Since God has freely given them all the glorious riches of His kingdom, how much more willingly will He give them what they need to serve Him in that kingdom?

Has chosen (taken pleasure, is well pleased, delights in) (2106)(eudokeo  from eu = well, good + dokeo = to think) means literally to think well of and so to be well pleased, to take pleasure or delight in (This is the sense in which eudokeo is used in He 10:38). The idea is to find satisfaction in something or someone or to view with approval. To delight means to take great pleasure, to give keen enjoyment, to provide a high degree of gratification. The Father delights to give this great gift, not because we are so good, but because we are in His Son, in eternal, unbreakable union with Him by grace through faith and thus are eternally co-heirs with Him as Paul explained to the saints at Rome...

For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, “Abba! Father!” 16 The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him. 18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us.  (Ro 8:15-18-note)

Kingdom (932)(basileia from basileus = a sovereign, king, monarch) denotes sovereignty, royal power, dominion. Basileia predominately in the NT refers to the rule of God as promised, prophesied, and fulfilled through the spiritual rule of God in the hearts of people now (Ro 14.17) and ultimately to be fulfilled in the Messianic reign of Christ on earth (Millennium). 

He Meant What He Said—Luke 12:32

Time and time again, the Lord has tenderly spoken these reassuring words to His people: “Do not fear.” Yet how prone we are to live our days, like frightened lambs, in fear and anxiety.

Why are we fearful? Could it be that we see God as a reluctant giver?

Jesus tenderly corrected this distortion when He said, “Do not fear, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom” (Lk. 12:32). When Jesus said, “Do not fear,” He implied that fear is needless because we can trust our Father’s care.

Not too long ago, I was stewing about several personal concerns while driving my car. Suddenly the words “Do not fear!” broke into my troubled mind. As my car ate up the miles, God’s loving rebuke ate up my doubts, and I prayed, “Lord, when You said, ‘Do not fear,’ You really meant it! You want me to take You seriously, and that means trusting the Father’s eagerness to look after me and my needs.”

Jesus said that our heavenly Father knows what we need, and if we seek His kingdom first His provisions will be ours (vv.30-31). We can trust Him. He meant what He said.By Joanie Yoder 

At times our fears may loom so large
We long for proof that God is near;
It's then our Father says to us,
"Have faith, My child, and do not fear." —DJD

The perfect cure for fear is trust in God.

Money Worries—Luke 12:32

Of His words recorded in the Bible, Jesus has more to say on money than any other topic. Luke 12 offers a good summary of His attitude. He does not condemn possessions, but He warns against putting faith in money to secure the future. Money fails to solve life’s biggest problems.

Although Jesus speaks to many aspects about money, He seems to concentrate on the question: What is money doing to you? Money can dominate a person’s life, diverting attention away from God. Jesus challenges us to break free of money’s power—even if it means giving it all away.

Jesus urges His listeners to seek treasure in the kingdom of God, for such treasure can benefit them in this life and the next one too. “Do not worry,” He says (v.22), for God is the one who provides for our needs. And then to emphasize His point, He brings up King Solomon, the richest man in the Old Testament. Jesus said that a common wildflower is clothed more gloriously by God than a royal king. So do not have an anxious mind (vv.27-29), “but seek the kingdom of God, and all these things shall be added to you” (v.31).

Better to trust in the God who lavishes care on the whole earth than to spend our lives worrying about money and possessions.By Philip Yancey

For Further Study Learn more about this subject by reading Jesus’ Parables About Money

The real measure of our wealth is what will be ours in eternity.

Luke 12:33  "Sell your possessions and give to charity; make yourselves money belts which do not wear out, an unfailing treasure in heaven, where no thief comes near nor moth destroys.

KJV Luke 12:33 Sell that ye have, and give alms; provide yourselves bags which wax not old, a treasure in the heavens that faileth not, where no thief approacheth, neither moth corrupteth.


Sell your possessions and give to charity - First do not misinterpret this as a command to sell everything you own, because clearly in the Bible it is assumed that believers have possessions. One issue of course is just make sure those possessions don't "possess" you, specifically your heart!  As Randy Alcorn reminds us in his book The Treasure Principle that "God owns everything. I'm just His money manager!"

Spurgeon - That is to say, do not merely give a little, which you can readily spare; but sometimes even pinch yourselves to relieve the poor.

Steven Cole explains that the application of the above truths is to "Give generously and you will have lasting treasure in heaven (Lk 12:33). Jesus does not mean that we must literally sell everything we have and give away the proceeds. The Bible implies the right to private ownership of property in the eighth commandment, “You shall not steal.” Peter told Ananias that his property was his to do with as he saw fit (Acts 5:4). Ananias’ sin was not in holding back some of the proceeds, but in lying about giving all when he had not done so. Further, if Jesus meant that His followers must sell all their possessions, surely He would have rebuked those who owned homes, lands, etc., but He did not. Rather, Jesus here is saying, “Have a loose grip on the things of this world, since they won’t last anyway. Instead, be generous in giving to those in need, and God will reward you with lasting riches in heaven.” The contrast is between storing up temporary treasure for yourself on earth (Lk 12:21) instead of laying up eternal treasures in heaven. If you struggle with greed and with living for this life only, give away your stuff. Giving generously frees us from greed and puts our focus on God and eternity. 

Hudson Taylor stated a similar thought when he said "The less I spent on myself and the more I gave to others, the fuller of happiness and blessing did my soul become." (cf Acts 20:35-note)

NET Note - "The call to sell your possessions is a call to a lack of attachment to the earth and a generosity as a result."

Bock writes - "The generosity this text calls for has often been questioned. Are we really called to sell all our possessions? Jesus' point is that we must give up viewing what we call ours, as if it were a private possession to be hoarded."

Jesus made a similar statement in Luke 18...

(Lk 18:22) When Jesus heard this, He said to him, “One thing you still lack; sell all that you possess and distribute it to the poor, and you shall have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.”

Comment: Jesus was not establishing a new requirement for being saved -- certainly Jesus was not saying that the rich young ruler's philanthropy would merit salvation. Jesus saw the heart of the problem which was the problem of his heart. In a word, the rich young ruler's possessions "possessed" him! And so he was unwilling to acknowledge that he was a guilty sinner, affirm that his good works could not save him, and cast himself wholly on the grace of God for eternal life. What this story demonstrates is that something usually stands in the way of a person coming to Christ. It may be pride, position, family, friends, a particular sin, or even wealth. In this man’s case, it was money. In the case of a brilliant young doctor with whom I shared the Gospel, it was his dogs! Yes, his dogs kept him, so to speak, from eternal life (although he is still alive as of 2017 and the seed was clearly planted 15 years ago). He was afraid that if he believed in Jesus, he would have to give up his beloved hunting dogs. I tried to reason with him but it was to no avail. 

Life Application Notes - Jesus does not ask believers to sell everything they have, although this may be his will for some. He does ask us all, however, to get rid of anything that has become more important in life than God. If your possessions take first place in your life, it would be better for you to get rid of them. (Life Application Study Bible)

Is something you possess holding you back from believing in Jesus? If so you need to think about your destiny 1000 years from now when you have no possessions if you do not have the greatest possession of all, eternal life in Christ Jesus!

Sell (aorist imperative)(4453)(poleo) refers to trading merchandise, bartering or exchanging possessions for money or in the passive to be offered for sale or be sold.

Poleo - 22x - dealers(1), sell(7), selling(8), sells(1), sold(5).

Matt. 10:29; 13:44; 19:21; 21:12; 25:9; Mk. 10:21; Mk. 11:15; Lk. 12:6; Lk. 12:33; Lk. 17:28; Lk. 18:22; Lk. 19:45; Lk. 22:36; Jn. 2:14; Jn. 2:16; Acts 4:34; Acts 4:37; Acts 5:1; 1 Co. 10:25; Rev. 13:17

(Mt 13:44) “The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in the field, which a man found and hid again; and from joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.

(Mt 19:21) Jesus said to him, “If you wish to be complete (means "goal" or "end" and here is a synonym for salvation and eternal life), go and sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.”

Comment: Do not misunderstand Jesus. He is not teaching salvation by works! (see Ro. 3:23-24; Eph. 2:8, 9) Jesus was proving the error of the man's claim to have fulfilled God's law (Mt 19:20).This is the same command (sell in aorist imperative) Jesus gave to the one who ask Him "what good thing shall I do that I may obtain eternal life?" (Mt 19:16-22). Such mercy toward the poor would demonstrate inner righteousness, a righteousness based on his faith in Jesus. This he would not do and went away sorrowful (grieved). The rich man's unwillingness to share his possessions showed that he did not love his neighbor as himself. Sadly he proved that His possessions, his wealth and security, had become his god. What he lacked was the attitude that abandons everything (Mt 16:24) for the sake of God's unearned grace (Phil. 3:7-9).

MacArthur - His willingness to obey that command (to sell) would not merit salvation but it would be evidence that he desired salvation above everything else, as a priceless treasure or a pearl of great value for which no sacrifice could be too great (see Matt. 13:44-46). The ultimate test was whether or not the man was willing to obey the Lord. The real issue Jesus presented was, "Will you do what I ask, no matter what? Who will be Lord in your life, you or Me?" (MacArthur New Testament Commentary – Matthew 16-23)

Tannehill - "The command to 'sell' and 'give' (or 'distribute') is not obsolete after Jesus' ascension, for the narrator portrays the life of the Jerusalem church in such a way as to indicate a particular kind of fulfillment of Jesus' command...The descriptions of this arrangement feature the words 'sell' and 'distribute' (using piprasko and diamerizo in Acts 2:45, poleo and diadidomi in Acts 4:34-35), which correspond to the commands of Jesus in Luke 12:33 (poleo and didomi) and Lk 18:22 (poleo and diadidomi)." (Abingdon New Testament Commentary: Luke)

Allison Trites comments - Instead of just being concerned to build up a store of treasure for oneself (as in the parable of the rich fool, Lk 12:13-21), there was to be a willingness to part with possessions in order to meet the pressing needs of others, a point stressed by Jesus and buttressed by wonderful promises of blessing in the good time coming (Matt 19:29). In the stories of Acts, we see striking examples of people like Barnabas, the generous-hearted man from Cyprus who willingly shared his possessions for the sake of needy members of the Jerusalem church (Acts 4:34-37). By contrast, there were also people like Ananias and Sapphira who fell into the trap of duplicity; they wanted to appear to be generous, and so they deceptively inflated their account of what they had given. Their sad hypocrisy was revealed and exposed, with sobering results (Acts 5:1-11). By contrast, genuine concern on the part of disciples to meet the down-to-earth needs of people in the present life is to be viewed in the light of eternity, for “the purses of heaven never get old or develop holes” (Lk 12:33; cf. Lk 6:38) Jesus spoke the revealing and exposing truth: “Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be” (Lk 12:34). If one’s heart is on the eternal treasures, they will be more giving during their life on earth. (Cornerstone Biblical Commentary – Volume 12: Luke and Acts)

Charity (Alms) (1654)(eleemosune from eleemon = merciful from eleos = mercy, kindness, compassion) signifies mercy or pity particularly in giving alms. Jesus' emphasis is not so much on selling all your possessions but instead using your wealth to generously help those poorer than yourself. How are you doing in this area dear follower of Christ? (Lk 12:21-26).

Possessions (5225)(huparcho from hupó = under + árcho = begin or arche = beginning) means literally to begin under and then to exist, be present or be at hand. Huparcho denotes the continuance of a previous state or existence. It stresses the essence of a person’s nature, that which is absolutely unalterable, inalienable, and unchangeable. There is another sense meaning to be at one's disposal, one's possessions, property; means or resources (Mt 19:21; Lk 8:3; 11:21; 19:8; 1 Cor 13:3).

NIV Study Bible - The danger of riches and the need for giving are characteristic themes in Luke (see Lk 3:11; 6:30; 11:41; Lk 14:13-14; 16:9; Lk 18:22; 19:8).

Make yourselves money belts which do not wear out - What did Jesus mean by this seemingly enigmatic statement? He had just said sell your possessions! The NLT paraphrases it "And the purses of heaven never get old or develop holes." Earthly money belts wear out, so clearly Jesus is not speaking of earthly money belts, but heavenly money belts. What does He mean? Well, what is in a money belt? Money and if that money is unselfishly spent it is being "invested" in the "First National Bank of Heaven." The idea is when you use your money belt for the needs of others, your money belt will not wear out because it is focused on eternal values not earthly vanities. "Heavenly money belts" instead of being used to accumulate material possessions (which will wear out) and planning for time (which is passing away), disciples should seek to put their possessions to work for the Lord.

Stein adds this note on money belts which do not wear out - Money belts is a metaphor for the contents contained in them. One should use one’s purse, i.e., money, to lay up treasure in heaven so that it will not be wasted. How one’s money can be lost is given in the next two examples and was also illustrated in the parable of the rich fool (Luke 12:20-note).

Spurgeon - Put some of your estate where it cannot be lost. Take care that you invest some of it for God’s poor, and God’s work, where the interest will be sure, and the investment will be safe.

Mattoon - A third principle for rapture readiness is learning to cut your ties to this world. This is not your final home. Heaven is your future home if you are a Christian. Christ urged His disciples to let go of the treasures they had on earth and to lay up treasures in Heaven by investing in the Lord's work and giving to others. By relinquishing their prized possessions, their focus would be shifted to their future home with the Lord. Beloved, God wants us to realize that money is a tool. When we use this tool for His glory, we lay up treasure in Heaven where it will not be stolen or corrupted. There is nothing wrong in having money and taking care of your family. There is something wrong, however, when we fall in love with money to the point that we hurt our relationship with Christ and our family. Our hearts are not to be gripped by greed. Paul warned about this love for money. (1 Ti 6:10). We can guard ourselves against greed by storing up treasure in Heaven.

Reformation Study Bible - Central to this verse is the contrast between earthly goods that are perishable and a source of anxiety, and the treasures of the kingdom of God that are a lasting source of peace. Some of Jesus' followers had at least moderate wealth (Lk 10:38; John 19:27), and He is not demanding that all His disciples be poor. But they must be generous and not set their hearts on earthly possessions (Lk 12:34).

Life Application Study Bible - Money seen as an end in itself quickly traps us and cuts us off from both God and the needy. The key to using money wisely is to see how much we can use for God's purposes, not how much we can accumulate for ourselves. Does God's love touch your wallet? Does your money free you to help others? If so, you are storing up lasting treasures in heaven. If your financial goals and possessions hinder you from giving generously, loving others, or serving God, sell what you must to bring your life into line with his purposes. (Excellent online resource on Luke)

Make (aorist imperative - Do this now! Don't delay!)(4160) (poieo) has the basic meaning of to make something or do something. God never gives us a command without enabling us to fulfill the command, in this case to make "supernatural" (so to speak) money belts (as expl

Money belts (905)(ballantion) refers to a purse or pouch, a money bag. The disciples were not to rely on earthly security in their ministry; rather, they were to make for themselves “ballantia which wax not old,” in heaven

TDNT Abridged - Sometimes spelled balántion, this word means “pocket” or “purse,” especially for money. It occurs six times in the Lxx (Ed: only 2x in non-apocryphal Lxx = Pr 1:14, Job 14:17) and is used in later Judaism for money bag. All four NT instances are in Luke (Lk 10:4; 12:33; 22:35-36). The point in 10:4 (cf. Matt. 10:9; Mark 6:8) is that money is not to be taken for the journey, but while Matthew and Mark think of tying coins in the girdle, Luke has in mind a special purse. Hence renunciation of the security of settled life is demanded, as also in 12:33. The situation changes, however, with the death of Jesus (Luke 22:35-36).

Ballantion - Used 4x in NT all by Luke. Matthew and Mark refer to the more primitive custom of tying coins into one’s girdle (zōnē) (Mt 10:9; Mk 6:8).

Luke 10:4  “Carry no money belt, no bag, no shoes; and greet no one on the way.

Luke 22:35   And He said to them, “When I sent you out without money belt and bag and sandals, you did not lack anything, did you?” They said, “No, nothing.” 36 And He said to them, “But now, whoever has a money belt is to take it along, likewise also a bag, and whoever has no sword is to sell his coat and buy one.

Wear out (become old) (3822)(palaioo from palaios = old not in point of time but old in terms of use, thus "worn out", antiquated, useless, outmoded; English "paleontology," etc.). When used in the active sense means to make old, to declare or treat as obsolete (as the Old Covenant which is caused to become old and obsolete, and hence no longer valid - see  Hebrews 8:13-note).

ILLUSTRATION - A miser in Chicago was so suspicious of everybody that he would not trust his money in the bank, but buried it in his cellar. One night some thieves broke into the cellar and dug up every inch of sand and dirt until they found his box of gold and carried it away. The poor old fellow was nearly crazy over his loss. Unfortunately, the old man has many people following his example in the care of priceless treasures. How many there are today, who are laying away all their treasures in the sand and dirt of this earthly cellar, when Heaven's strong vaults are offered to them for their safe keeping. This issue is addressed here. (Matttoon)

An unfailing treasure in heaven - (cf Lk 16:1-13-note) Another way to phrase it that we will receive an "inexhaustible treasure," one that lasts forever and ever! Now if that is not a blessed hope (absolute assurance of future good) to hold fast to when the storm winds rise then I don't know of one! Heavenly treasures are full insured!

Unfailing (413)(anekleiptos from a = negates + ekleipo = fail which is used in Lk 16:9 of wealth "when it fails, Lk 22:32 =Jesus' prayer for Peter "that your faith may not fail"; Lk 23:45 "sun was obscured" or "failed") never failing, unfailing, inexhaustible. It is an adjective that describes that which can never decrease or cease to exist! In this context it clearly speaks of Christ's reward for good works wrought by wise use of the money in one's money belt (cf "Well done good and faithful slave" - Mt 25:21, 23, Lk 19:17). There are no uses of anekleiptos in the Septuagint.

What a contrast between the "failing" sun (Lk 23:45) as the Saviour suffered and died on the Cross and the unfailing treasures of heaven!

Gilbrant - The word anekleiptos is formed from the negating a (1) (an before a vowel) and ekleipō (1574), “fail.” It is found only in Luke 12:33 where it refers to the unfailing character of heavenly riches. In the apocryphal Wisdom of Solomon 7:14 it refers to wisdom as treasures that never fail and in Wisdom of Solomon  8:18 as infinite riches. (In these two passages the word used is aneklipēs, but it is equivalent in meaning to anekleiptos.)

Jesus' words are reminiscent of Peter's description of our "reservation" in heaven...

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved (perfect tense = speaks of permanence - if you have ever walked up to the desk and they said "Sorry. Your reservation has been cancelled" as happened to me on my honeymoon night, then Peter's description should give you great joy and anticipation!) in heaven for you, 5 who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. (1 Peter 1:3-5-note)

Treasure (2344)(thesauros from títhemi = put, set) refers to the place where goods and precious things are stored for safekeeping and thus a repository (place, room, or container where something is deposited or stored), a treasure chest, a storehouse, a treasury. The second sense of thesauros refers to that which is stored up in the treasury or repository, figuratively spiritually valuable things stored up in heaven (Mt 6:19-21 Lk 12:33).

Where no thief comes near nor moth destroys - No sin in heaven so no thieves there either! No moths either! Good news!

Thief (2812)(kleptes from klépto = steal; kleptomaniac) is a stealer or thief who acts with stealth or subterfuge.

Nor moth destroys - In Jesus' day clothing was a significant component of an individual's wealth and destruction by pesky moths could be quite costly.

Moth (4597)(ses) is from the larger division of order Lepidoptera (Moths, skippers, and butterflies all belong to this order for all have scale-covered wings) distinguished from butterflies by generally nocturnal activity and antennae which are not club-shaped. The moth larva in many cases spins a cocoon for the protection of the pupa or chrysalis, which is never the case with butterflies. In the Bible the clothes-moth (species of genus Tinea) are relatively tiny insects which lay eggs in woolen clothes upon which the larvae later feed (Most of us have personal experience with these little guys -- I remember getting ready to attend church one Sunday morning and when I put the nice pant I had a "holey" surprise, with several large irregular holes exposing my skin!). The moth larva feeds and composes a cocoon of its silk together with fibers of the wool it is eating, so that the color of the cocoon depends upon the color of the fabric! Only the larval stage injures clothing. Take my word for it - a significantly moth eaten garment is virtually beyond repair or at best must be re-knit which is not cheap! How much greater is the reward to which Jesus refers!!!

Destroys (present tense = continually destroys)(1311)(diaphtheiro from dia = intensifies meaning + phtheiro = to ruin, corrupt, spoil, shrivel, destroy, defile) (English = diphtheria) means to cause the complete destruction, to destroy, corrupt or decay utterly (through and through so to speak), to rot thoroughly, to ruin, to pervert utterly, perish. It always signifies a change for the worse.

Norman Crawford - This is a summary of the Lord's teaching about earthly possessions. They are never to control the believer, or to be allowed to reign in the heart. The believer is cheerfully to give of his possessions to meet the needs of others, that is, "give alms"; his chief aim in life is to lay up treasure above, for unlike all the corruptible treasures of earth, heaven's treasure will never lose its value. Our true treasure is the Lord Jesus (Col 2:3) and He is now in heaven; therefore we are to set our affection on things above (Col 3:1). We also have the treasure in earthen vessels, for we have Christ and all the precious truths that relate to Him to enjoy and proclaim to others (2 Cor 4:5-7). (What the Bible teaches – Luke)

Joseph Stowell - LIFE IN THE LONG VIEW “—Luke 12:33
Most of us suffer from a dreadful case of shortsightedness. Psalm 73 tells us of Asaph, who, though he was a man of  God, found that his “feet had almost slipped” when he envied the “prosperity of the wicked” (Psalm 73:2–3). This envy of those who had so much while they were so godless was only remedied in Psalm 73:16–17. He entered the sanctuary of the Lord and saw the wicked from God’s point of view: “It was troublesome in my sight until I came into the sanctuary of God; then I perceived their end” (NASB). Before Asaph transitioned to God’s eternal perspective, his limited point of view had skewed his perspective and he almost bailed out on God. When he saw the bigger picture, he concluded that he was more blessed in his trouble than the wicked are in their prosperity. As Christ said, “For what is a man profited if he gains the whole world, and loses or forfeits himself?” (Luke 9:25 NASB). It was to an anxious group of disciples, distracted by earthside stuff, that Christ said, “Your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you” (Mt 6:32–33). He also said, “Sell your possessions and give to charity; make yourselves money belts which do not wear out, an unfailing treasure in heaven, where no thief comes near nor moth destroys” (Luke 12:33). When we really believe in the other side, everything on this side is radically, wonderfully changed. We need to believe, with the British writer and social critic Malcolm Muggeridge, that “the only ultimate tragedy in life is to feel at home here.” What could you do during this Christmas season to invest in treasures in heaven? (Strength for the Journey)

Charity —Luke 12:33

Purim is one of the most unusual of the Jewish feast days. It was instituted to celebrate the death of Haman and the escape of the Jews. Today it is marked by reading the book of Esther (interrupted by raucous noisemakers whenever Haman’s name is read) amid a party atmosphere.

Purim is also a time for charity, a concept rooted in the Old Testament (Dt. 15:7-8; 26:12-13). The joy of Israel’s deliverance from Haman’s diabolical plot is expressed in generous charity to all who request it.

In his book Jewish Literacy, Rabbi Joseph Telushkin tells about a rabbi who felt so compelled to keep the day of Purim that he gave alms to two Jewish women who asked, even though he knew they were frauds.

Because we have been liberated from sin through Jesus Christ, we should be generous to the needy. From hearts of compassion, we are to be benevolent and help the poor. We won’t be charitable, however, if our hearts are hardened by a self-protective spirit, or if we think charity is someone else’s responsibility.

Christ commanded His followers to be charitable (Mt. 6:1-4; 12:33), and He demonstrated charity by the ultimate gift of Himself.By David C. Egner

You have bought us, and no longer
Can we claim to be our own;
Giving freely, naught withholding,
We shall serve You, Lord, alone. —Murray

The highest kind of giving springs from deep within the heart.

Luke 12:34  "For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

KJV Luke 12:34 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

This verse parallels Jesus' words in the Sermon on the Mount

Do not store up (present imperative with a negative = stop doing this or don't begin) for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 “But store up (present imperative) for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; 21 for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (Mt 6:19-21-note)

For (gar) - term of explanation  always begs the question "What is being explained? Here Jesus explains why where we lay up our treasure is such an important decision.  He is explaining that our heart will follow our treasure. If our treasure is in heaven that is where our heart is directed, even though we are still on earth. See related discussion of "Vertical Vision".  Remember also that this section follows the discussion of how to deal with anxiety, so what Jesus is teaching here clearly relates to how we handle anxiety. As we all know money and anxiety travel together!

Spurgeon - It is not only important to lay up that which can truly be called treasure, but also to lay it up in the right place: “a treasure in the heavens that faileth not, where no thief approacheth, neither moth corrupteth.” Such treasure as that will not harm us if we set our heart upon it, and, by-and-by, in God’s good time, we and our treasure shall both be in heaven.

Spurgeon - You are sure to live for that which is the choicest object of your love. Whatever you think to be first, will be first; and what you love in your heart, you will be sure to follow in your life. Make sure of that. Your heart will go after your treasure; and if none of your treasure has gone to heaven, none of your heart will go there.

Steven Cole explains that what Jesus is saying is that "Your heart follows your treasure. We usually get this backwards: we think that we will put our treasure where our hearts are. But Jesus says that if we put our treasure somewhere, our hearts will be there also. Store your treasure in heaven by giving generously to the Lord’s kingdom and your heart will be drawn to heaven. Hang on to your earthly possessions greedily and your heart will be on this earth. I have seen this work with regard to prayer. If I give money to a missionary, it’s easier to pray for him. Why? Because my heart follows my treasure. If my treasure is with a missionary, my heart is there with him, too, and I find it easier to pray for him. So Jesus’ point is, if you want your heart in the things of God, put your treasure in the kingdom of God. It’s the only investment in this shaky world with guaranteed safety and a high rate of return. Conclusion - Underlying the Lord’s teaching and central to a biblical concept of money is the principle of stewardship. We do not own what we have; God does! He entrusts a certain amount to each of us to use for His purposes. Some of it He graciously allows us to spend for our needs and for our enjoyment. But our main focus must be, “Lord, help me to use what You have given me to further Your kingdom.” Stewardship frees us from worry. Once when I was in the Coast Guard, we put out a fire on Frank Sinatra’s yacht. I remember talking to the skipper and being surprised at how nonchalant he was about the great amount of damage done to the boat. He said, “It’s not my boat, it’s Mr. Sinatra’s boat.” Of course it was also insured. But he was somewhat detached from the loss because he didn’t view the boat as his own. Since then, when my car has gotten dented in a parking lot or when other things beyond my control happen to my money or possessions, I say, “Lord, it’s Your car, Your money, Your stuff.” I’m trying to be a good steward, but it doesn’t belong to me. So Jesus is saying, “Don’t worry about money. Trust in the God who cares for you and seek His kingdom above your own needs.” The Father will be glorified and you will have unfailing treasure in heaven.

Play and pray John Newton's great old hymn "Come My Soul" sung by Matt Foreman which has these poignant lyrics...

Lord, I come to Thee for rest, 
Take possession of my breast; 
There Thy blood bought right maintain, 
And without a rival reign; 
And without a rival reign. 

Treasure (2344) see above for thesauros

Word Biblical Commentary - If one follows the trail marked out by a person’s use of money, it will lead to that person’s heart.

MacDonald rightly reminds us that "The trouble with material wealth is that ordinarily you can't have it without trusting it  (Ed: Or at least being tempted to place your trust in it!). If we send our money on ahead, then our affections will be weaned from the perishing things of this world. (Believer's Bible Commentary)

Hughes - Heart and treasure always go together. Your heart, the center of your being, is where your valuables, your energies, your time, all the things you value most, are. Where is your heart? In your barns and storehouses? In a Swiss bank account? On the golf course? In your home? In your kitchen? In your yard? In your wardrobe? In your car? Or is it in Heaven? In your church? In the inner city of Chicago? In the poor? In Africa or China or South America or the islands of the sea? If it is there, you have no worries!

Heart (2588)(kardia) does not refer to the physical organ but is always used figuratively in Scripture to refer to the seat and center of human life. The heart is the center of the personality, and it controls the intellect, emotions, and will. To the Jew, the heart was considered the center of the person and as such expresses the totality of one’s self.

The heart of the issue regarding wealth and possessions is the heart. If our heart is rightly focused on the things above and not on the things of the earth, we will gladly, generously give to the eternal work of the Lord (cf Lk 12:33). Do not misunderstand what Jesus is saying. He is not saying that if put our earthly treasure in "heaven", then our heart's location will follow suit. He is saying that where our treasure is located is a clear indicator of where our heart is focused. Our heart is used figuratively to describe the very center of our lives and thus it follows that it cannot be in heaven and on earth simultaneously. Jesus says the heart of the matter is that it is an "either-or proposition!"

Beloved, let us study the meaning of kardia, but let us be far more serious about guarding our kardia during our short time on earth (see Pr 4:23-note, 1Ti 4:7, 8-note, 2Co 5:9-note 2Co 5:10-note, Spurgeon writes "A short life should be wisely spent. We have not enough time at our disposal to justify us in misspending a single quarter of an hour. Neither are we sure of enough life to justify us in procrastinating for a moment. If we were wise in heart we should see this, but mere head wisdom will not guide us aright." See his full note on Ps 90:12-note)

NET Note -  Seeking heavenly treasure means serving others and honoring God by doing so.

We see a similar declaration by Jesus in Luke 6...

But love your enemies, and do good, and lend (love, do good, lend are not suggestions but commands in the present imperative, only possible as we are filled with the Spirit of love Who Alone energizes "good deeds"), expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.  (Luke 6:35–36-note)

Give us Thy grace to rise above
The glare of this world’s smelting fires;
Let God’s great love put out the love
Of gold, and gain, and low desires.
Cecil F. Alexander


Mattoon - Jesus said, "Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also."

  • Why are men driven by excitement and energized by their goals and dreams? Because that is where their treasure is. 
  • Why will a man will take risks, even face danger or death for what he loves? Because that is where his treasure is. 
  • What causes a person to sacrifice and spend his money on his desires and objectives? Because that is where his treasure is. 
  • What drives a person to go without sleep in order to complete a task that is important to him? Because that is where his treasure is. 

Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

  • Your Aims or goals will reveal what you treasure. 
  • Your Attention will be grabbed by what you treasure. 
  • Your Abandonment of prized possessions for special projects, people, or things show what you treasure. 
  • The Additional funds or hours that you sacrifice to complete a task divulge what you treasure. 
  • Your Animation and the things that ignite your Anticipation unveil what you treasure. 
  • An Accounting of how you spend your money will declare what you treasure. 

Where is your treasure? Where is your heart? What are the most important things to you in your life? If you want to be ready for the Rapture, lay up treasure in Heaven by putting the Lord first in your life. Failure to put Christ first, living for yourself or for this world, will cause you to be like the person who put his possessions in a bag full of holes. Notice what prophet Haggai said to God's people in his day, who were far from God.

Now therefore, thus says the LORD of hosts, “Consider your ways! 6“You have sown much, but harvest little; you eat, but there is not enough to be satisfied; you drink, but there is not enough to become drunk; you put on clothing, but no one is warm enough; and he who earns, earns wages to put into a purse with holes.”  7Thus says the LORD of hosts, “Consider your ways!

If the Lord is not first in your life, then consider your ways and make some changes for the better. (Rod Mattoon - Treasures from Luke)

John MacArthur notes out that "Jesus goes on to point out that a person's cherished possessions and his deepest motives and desires are inseparable, for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. They will either both be earthly or both be heavenly. It is impossible to have one on earth and the other in heaven (cf. Jas 4:4-note),As always, the heart must be right first. In fact, if the heart is right, everything else in life falls into its proper place. The person who is right with the Lord will be generous and happy in his giving to the Lord’s work. By the same token, a person who is covetous, self-indulgent, and stingy has good reason to question his relationship with the Lord.Jesus is not saying that if we put our treasure in the right place our heart will then be in the right place, but that the location of our treasure indicates where our heart already is. Spiritual problems are always heart problems. Sinful acts come from a sinful heart, just as righteous acts come from a righteous heart. (MacArthur, J: Matthew 1-7 Chicago: Moody Press

My hope I cannot measure,
My path to life is free;
My Saviour has my treasure,
And He will walk with me.
--Anna Waring

Randy Alcorn writes "My heart always goes where I put God's money." (The Treasure Principle - highly recommended short read which is guaranteed to change your perspective on your earthly possessions!). Alcorn also wrote this...

You can't take it with you--
But you can send it on ahead!

Are you sending it on ahead?

Donald Grey Barnhouse wrote that…

If a man is thoroughly wrapped up in the things of this world, then his eyes must be closed to the glories of Heaven.

If a man prefers the company of worldlings to that of God’s people, then he is a worldling himself.

If a man lives to please self rather than God, he is yet dead in trespasses and sin. (Barnhouse, D. G. God's Freedom: Romans 6:1-7:25. Page 248. Grand Rapids, MI.: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company)

Spurgeon comments that…

It is sure to be so: your heart will follow your treasure. Send it away therefore up to the everlasting hills, lay up treasure in that blessed land before you go there yourself.

There is many a way of sending your treasure before you to heaven. God’s poor are His money-boxes — His exchequer. You can pass your treasure over to heaven by their means. And the work of evangelizing the world by the labors of God’s servants in the ministry of the gospel — you can help this also. There is much need ye should. Thus also ye can pass your treasure over into the King’s exchequer, and your heart will follow it. I have heard of one who said his religion did not cost him a shilling a year, and it was remarked that very probably it would have been expensive at the price. You will find people form a pretty accurate estimate of the value of their own religion by the proportion which they are prepared to sacrifice for it.

C H Spurgeon adds this in his commentary "This is a grand moral motive for keeping our desires above groveling objects. The heart must and will go in the direction of that which we count precious. The whole man will be transformed into the likeness of that for which he lives. Where we place our treasures our thoughts will naturally fly It will be wise to let all that we have act as magnets to draw us in the right direction. If our very best things are in heaven, our very best thoughts will fly in the same direction: but if our choicest possessions are of the earth, our heart will be earth-bound." (Commentary)

Adam Clarke wrote that "If God be the treasure of our souls, our hearts, i.e. our affections and desires will be placed on things above. An earthly minded man proves that his treasure is below; a heavenly minded man shows that his treasure is above."

Wiersbe - treasure used for God’s glory is invested in heaven where it lasts eternally. The way people use wealth is an indication of the condition of their hearts. If we spend our time and money only on business, and neglect God, then our hearts are in business and not fixed on God. (Wiersbe's Expository Outlines on the New Testament)

Henry Ward Beecher once said that "No man can tell whether he is rich or poor by turning to his ledger. It is the heart that makes a man rich. He is rich or poor according to what he is, not according to what he has."

Ray Pritchard expounds on this point explaining that…

So many of us never grasp that point (that our heart follows our money). We spend all that we have on the things of this world and then we wonder why we have trouble concentrating on the things of God. Our problem is this: We’ve invested everything down here and nothing up there. Our money has kept our heart lashed to the earth with cords of silver and gold. You’ll never be able to get your heart focused on heaven as long as all your money is focused on the earth! I’m sure you’ve heard it said that when you buy a boat, you don’t own the boat… the boat owns you. The same thing is true of new car. Because you’ve invested so much money, you don’t own the car; the car owns you. It’s especially true of a new house. Let’s say you put down $20,000 and then finance $130,000. That's a huge investment of resources. Where is your heart going to be? In that new house. You’re going to think about it, worry about it, dream about it and talk about it. Your new house is going to be the center of your life. Why? Because your heart always follows your money. Would you like to discover where your heart is this morning? Open your checkbook and see where you’ve been spending your money. Your checkbook tells the whole story. So it all boils down to one question: Where is your heart? The answer is always the same: Your heart is wherever you’ve been spending your money… What are you sending ahead to heaven? What will you find when you pass through the Jordan River on your way to the Celestial City? What investments are you making today that will make a difference in eternity? The whole teaching of Matthew 6:19-21 may be summarized in six simple words: Invest in that which lasts forever! (The First National Bank of Heaven) (Bolding added)

If it is wrong to gather treasures on earth, is making provision for future physical needs wrong? Is it wrong to be rich? Clearly the answer to these questions is "No". Jesus is not forbidding material possessions in and of themselves, the private ownership of property, saving money for the future, investing for a greater return, owning insurance or owning nice things.

Joseph had grain stored for future use (Ge 41:33-36). Abraham was a very rich man and yet was known as the friend of God (Ge 13:2). Money can be a great blessing, if it is not an end in itself but a means to an end.

The late Chaplain of the United States Senate, Peter Marshall (1902-1949) - Let us give according to our incomes, lest God make our incomes match our gifts.

John Wesley said "Make all you can, save all you can, give all you can" (Referring to the subject of financial treasures)

Edward Kimball knew something about this spiritual savings account. As a Sunday School teacher he pursued and won to Christ a young shoe salesman, Dwight L. Moody (1837-99). Many years later Moody was preaching near his home in New England, and a young man came to Christ. Further investigation revealed that this young convert was none other than a son of Edward Kimball. The teacher's treasure paid interest in this life and a large dividend in eternity.

In 1978 the Sunday Telegraph of London carried an obituary of Sir John Laing. When the noted English building magnate died he was 99 years old, and a well-known Christian layman. Though Sir John had earned many millions, he died with only about $400 in the bank. The journalist explained: "The small net sum reflects Sir John's lifelong dedication to Christian and philanthropic work." He was wise enough to send along his treasure to heaven, where it could gather real interest for eternity.

W A Criswell told the following story as he ended his sermon on Matthew 6:19-21,

John Rascus put $300 in the collection plate when it passed, and he said softly, “I’ll see you in heaven.” Those around him said, “Old John is getting senile. He says he is going to see that $300 in heaven. He may meet his Maker over there, but he certainly won’t meet his money.”

Now, the church treasurer used some of that $300 to pay the electric bill. He gave some of it to the preacher to buy gasoline. Some went to ministerial students, and some to the mission field.

Early one morning John Rascus died in his sleep. On that first Lord’s Day in glory, he walked down the golden streets and a young fellow came up and said, “Thank you, brother John. I was cold and lonely and it was a dark night. I saw the lights of the church. Just to get out of the dark, I went in. While there, the darkness left my soul and I found Jesus.”

Another came to him saying, “The preacher came to the filling station. As I filled his tank, he told me about Jesus and I gave my heart to the Lord.”

Next John met a throng of people who said, “I want to thank you for those students you helped. They preached the gospel to my family, and we found the Lord.”

He next met those of strange tongues who said, “Thank you, brother, for sending us the gospel across the seas.” Finally old John came to Hallelujah Square and, turning to an angel, he said, “I feel sorry for you angels. You have never known what it is to be saved by the blood of Jesus, My Lord.”

John Rascus mused a moment, then added, “And you do not know what it is to transform the possessions of earth into the treasures of heaven.”

“Sir,” replied the angel, “all we do is just watch it from the streets of glory.” (listen to the moving version of I'd rather have Jesus than silver or gold,from Selah)

I'd rather have Jesus than silver or gold,
I'd rather be His than have riches untold;
I'd rather have Jesus than houses or lands,
I'd rather be led by His nail-pierced hands.

The poorest person is one whose only wealth is money.

Those who have their hearts fixed on heaven
 will hold loosely the things of earth.

Luke 12:35  "Be dressed in readiness, and keep your lamps lit.

KJV Luke 12:35 Let your loins be girded about, and your lights burning;

Young's Literal  'Let your loins be girded, and the lamps burning, 

Change of focus from earthly possessions (Luke 12:13-34) to heavenly watchfulness (Luke 12:35-48):

  • Watching servants -  (Lk 12:36–38),
  • Watching head of house (Lk 12:39–40)
  • Faithful steward (Lk 12:42–48).


One could subtitle Luke 12:35-40 "Saints that Wait for their Lord."

Leon Morris - Jesus reinforces his teaching on the right use of wealth with the reminder that earthly things are temporary and the coming of the Son of man sure. (TNTC-Luke)

Wiersbe observes that in this next section "Jesus shifted the emphasis from being worried about the present to being watchful about the future. The themes in Luke 12 all go together, for one of the best ways to conquer hypocrisy, covetousness, and worry is to look for the Lord’s return. When you are “living in the future tense,” it is difficult for the things of the world to ensnare you. In this section, Jesus explained how we can be ready for His return."

Spurgeon - Many people are thinking just now of Christ’s first advent, but this passage bids us watch for his glorious second coming. Never be undressed, as it were, in a moral or spiritual sense: “Let your loins be girded about.” Never be in the dark spiritually. Keep in the light; let your lamp be ever burning. Not only walk in the light of God but let your light shine before men.

Be dressed in readiness - Literally "Let your loins be girded" or "Stand, your waist having been belted." Jesus appropriately begins this section on watchfulness using the ancient picture of a man getting ready for action (work, war, running, etc) by first girding up his loins, which means he lifts up his flowing robe from his legs and tucks it into the belt around his waist so that nothing impedes him from full and effective movement. That literal picture is what Jesus wants us to manifest in our mind, our thinking, our heart. The essence of the idea He expounds on in the next 12 passages is BE READY AND WAITING, for "I AM RETURNING!"

ILLUSTRATION - After American troops were forced to surrender the Philippines in May, 1942, General Douglas MacArthur vowed to retake the islands, giving his famous “prophetic promise” “I WILL RETURN” which was printed on thousands of matchbooks, buttons, bars of soap and leaflets dropped by air all over the Philippines to encourage and give hope. MacArthur kept his promise! But even better the “Commander of the Lord’s army” (Josh 5:15NLT), Jesus our Messiah, made a similar “prophetic promise” to His disciples declaring “I go to prepare a place for you” and “I WILL COME AGAIN!” (Jn 14:3) As Hoekema rightly observes “The faith of the New Testament is dominated by this expectation.” Indeed, the NT has some 318 prophetic promises (direct and indirect) describing Messiah’s triumphant return as King of kings, and Lord of lords (Rev 19:11-16–note), which means that there is approximately one prophecy on the Second Coming in every 20 verses! In fact it has been estimated that for every prophecy of Messiah’s First Coming, there are eight describing His Second Coming! As the old Scottish preacher said “The doctrine of Messiah’s Second Coming, as it appears in the NT, is like a lofty mountain that dominates the entire landscape.” John Walvoord adds that Messiah’s Second Coming is also “implied in hundreds of OT prophecies” often mingling them with His first coming as in Isa 61:1-2a which was fulfilled at Messiah’s first coming (Lk 4:18-21-note) and Isa 61:2b which describes “the day of vengeance of our God to comfort all who mourn” to be fulfilled at Messiah’s Second Coming. And so just as MacArthur’s promise on leaflets gave hope during the dark days of WWII, the prophecies of Messiah’s Second Coming “give us hope and encouragement as we wait patiently for God’s promises” (Ro 15:4NLT–note). As this world grows darker and the promised return of Messiah grows brighter, we should continually be “looking (expectantly) for the BLESSED HOPE and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ (Messiah) Jesus.” (Titus 2:13–note) Paul called Messiah’s return ‘the Blessed Hope’ and as our world unravels morally and ethically, indeed He appears to be the only hope for the world! And so it is interesting that the largest type used by newspapers for headlines of astounding events is called “second coming” type and is reserved for the most amazing front-page news (beginning or end of wars, moon landings, etc). One day soon every eye “will see Him,” (Rev 1:7–note) the One for Whom “Second Coming” type was named! Messiah came first as the “Man of sorrows” (Isa 53:3), but will come again “with power and great glory” (Mt 24:30) as Judge and King (2Ti 4:1–note). Martin Luther well said, ‘I preach as though Messiah died yesterday, rose from the dead today and was coming back tomorrow.” How different our lives would be if we lived them in that spirit! As one has well said “Don’t complain about what this world is coming to. Proclaim the One Who is coming to this world.”

And for the hope of His return,
Dear Lord, Your Name we praise;
With longing hearts we watch and wait;
For that great day of days!”
- Sherwood

Steven Cole - The summer after I graduated from seminary, I worked as a furniture mover in Dallas. I learned that many of the men I worked with had worked at this job for years, yet they had no job benefits-no sick leave, no paid vacation, no retirement, and no raises for seniority. The only benefit was that the job was strictly day labor, so they didn’t have to show up for work if they didn’t want to. If you wanted to work, you showed up at 7 a.m. and they sent out those who showed up. Once in a while I noticed that one of the men wasn’t at work. When I asked where he was, the other workers would laugh and say that he got paid and got drunk. As soon as he needed more money, he would be back at work. I have since discovered that there is a common mindset shared by most of those who are perpetually poor, namely, that they rarely, if ever, think about the future. I call it a “welfare mentality.” They only think about today. If they get some money, they don’t think about the fact that rent will be due in two weeks or that other bills will be coming due. They only think about the fact that they’ve got money in their pocket today. Since they’re “rich” today, they will treat all their buddies to a round of drinks. They’ll gamble or spend it all in frivolous ways. But the one thing they will not do is save any money, because they don’t think about the future. Our Lord taught that we should not be anxious about tomorrow (Matt. 6:34), but He did not teach that we should ignore tomorrow! In fact, to the contrary, Jesus taught that our view of the future ought to be uppermost in our thinking about how we should live today. As followers of Jesus Christ, we should think often about the fact that He is coming soon and that every person must stand before Him to give an account. We should view ourselves as stewards who have been entrusted with time, money, and abilities, which we are to use for our Master’s kingdom. At some time-we don’t know when, but we do know that it is certain-our Lord will return and we must give an account to Him of how we used what He gave us. After telling His disciples to seek for His kingdom, Jesus goes on to exhort them to be ready for His return, because when He comes, He will judge everyone. We should be ready for the Lord’s return, because  when He comes He will judge everyone. (Are You Ready for Christ’s Return?)

Mattoon - A fourth principle for Rapture readiness is to remove from your life that which is spiritually hindering you and let your light shine for Christ. Be ready for the arrival of the Lord. We find these truths here when the Lord told us to let our loins be girded. Girding your loins was an expression for removing hindrances so that you could freely work. It carried the idea of being diligent, prepared, or ready. (see God's words to His prophet Jeremiah = Jer 1:17) Men in Bible days wore long robes. If they had to perform work or needed to make haste, they would tuck their robe into their belt around their waist. This would enable the person to walk, work, or run freely. This is why "girding your loins" deals with being ready for a task and removing obstructions from your life. This same truth is taught in other verses of the Bible. We are to remove sinful habits that hurt our effectiveness for Christ. (Read Heb 12:1-note, 2 Cor 7:1-note, 2 Ti 2:4-note 1 Pe 2:1-2-note, 1 Pe 4:2-note). 

Be dressed in readiness (4024)(perizonnumi from perí = about or around + zonnumi = gird around especially with a belt) means to gird all around as preparation for work or activity. Figuratively, perizonnumi speaks of readiness for activity while ungirding denotes rest. This picture derives from the custom of shortening the long flowing garments of Orientals which were pulled up and knotted at the waist for freedom of movement. The idea is to tuck up one’s long garment by pulling it through a belt. From the belt hung the scabbard in which the soldier's sword was sheathed. The belt tied tightly around the waist indicated that a soldier was ready for combat. Conversely, to slacken the belt equated with the soldier going off duty, something that is never to be in a Christian soldier. We are always on duty, for our foe never rests.

Hold the fort for I am coming,
Jesus signals still,
Send the answer back to heaven,
"By Thy grace we will."

Note that be dressed for readiness (ESV = "dressed for action") is in the perfect tense which speaks of a completed action with ongoing effect or result and so speaks of the permanence of this action. In other words, the implication of this tense is that one is not to wait to the last moment to tuck their long, flowing garment in, but is to always be prepared to act!

Believers are to like children of Israel were called to be on the first Passover. Moses records

'Now you shall eat it in this manner: with your loins girded (Lxx uses same verb - perizonnumi), your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand; and you shall eat it in haste-- it is the LORD'S Passover.

The picture is of the Passover night in Egypt. The lamb has been slain, the houses protected by the blood of the blemish-free lamb (cf 1 Pe 1:18-19-note), and each Hebrew was to have his loins girded, waiting for marching orders. Even more so should be the attitude of God's children who now wait expectantly for "Christ our Passover" (1 Cor 5:7)!

Perizonnumi - Used 6 times in NT - Lk. 12:35; Lk. 12:37; Lk. 17:8; Eph. 6:14; Rev. 1:13; Rev. 15:6

NET Note - "Let your loins be girded," an idiom referring to the practice of tucking the ends of the long cloak (outer garment) into the belt to shorten it in preparation for activities like running, etc.

Peter uses the related verb anazonnumi (ana = up ~ stresses lifting up of long robe + zonnumi = bind about with a belt) exhorting saints 

Therefore, prepare your minds for action (gird up the loins of your mind), keep sober in spirit, fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. (1 Peter 1:13-note)

This same image of girding your loins as you prepare to move is found in  Luke 17:8; Ex 12:11; 1 Ki 18:46; 2 Ki 4:29; 9:1; Eph 6:14

Keep your lamps lit  - Lit is in the present tense means continually lit. Keep them burning.  The picture is of a disciple who is ready at all times. One English definition of ready is "poised for action." I like that picture. Luke uses this same verb (lit) one other time figuratively to describe the disciples' "hearts burning within...while He (the resurrected Lord Jesus) was speaking to (them) on the road." (Lk 24:32-note) Luke had earlier mentioned lighting a lamp n Lk 8:16-note and Lk 11:33-note (but both use a different verb hapto, not the verb kaio). 

While the main point of your lamps lit in context is readiness for His return, disciples with "lamps lit" also speaks of the light emitted from our supernatural lives which point those in spiritual darkness to God and Jesus the Light of the world. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus taught... 

You (DISCIPLES) are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; 15 nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. 16 “Let your light shine (A COMMAND) before men in such a way (THIS IS KEY CAVEAT - SO THAT ULTIMATELY IT POINTS TO GOD NOT US) that they may see your good works, and glorify (GIVE A PROPER OPINION OF) your Father Who is in heaven (HE IS INVISIBLE BUT IN A SENSE MADE "VISIBLE" BY OUR SPIRIT ENERGIZED SUPERNATURAL LIVES AND SUPERNATURAL WORKS).  (Mt 5:14-16-note)

Paul echoes this principle

Do all things without grumbling or disputing; 15 so that you will prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world, 16 holding fast the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I will have reason to glory because I did not run in vain nor toil in vain. (Phil 2:14-16-note)

Therefore do not be partakers with them; 8for you were formerly darkness, but now you are Light in the Lord; walk as children of Light (Eph 5:7-8-note)

Lit (2545)(kaio) means to kindle or burn. It is used in an active sense and a passive sense - Active  = light something, have or keep something burning or lit. Mt 5:15; Lk 12:35; Jn 5:35; Heb 12:18; Rev 8:8, 10; 21:8. Fig. Lk 24:32 Passive sense =. be burned Jn 15:6; 1 Cor 13:3. In 

Friberg on kaio - (1) active - light something, kindle, ignite (Mt 5.15); (2) passive be lit, burn (Jn 15.6); figuratively, of fervent emotion burn, have strong feelings ( Lk 24.32); (3) of consuming by fire burn (up); passive be burned; 1Co 13.3 is understood as either martyrdom or voluntary burning of oneself. 

Thayer on kaio1. “to set fire to, light”: luchon (lamp), Matthew 5:15; passive participle kaiomenos (present tense), “burning,” Luke 12:35; Revelation 4:5; 8:10; 19:20; with puri added, Hebrews 12:18; Revelation 8:8; 21:8; in figurative discourse, a light showing the right way, Jn 5:35 (a comparison pointed at the Jews, to whom John the Baptist had been as a torch lighted for a merry-making); metaphorically, was glowing, burning, i.e. was greatly moved, Lk 24:32 (" our hearts burning within us"). 2. “to burn, consume with fire”: passive, John 15:6; 1 Corinthians 13:3 (see above); with πυρι added (cf. igni cremare, Caesar b. g. 1, 4), Mt 13:40

Gilbrant on kaio in Classical Greek and Septuagint Usage - The verb kaiō means “set on fire,” “burn,” or “consume by burning.” It is used both literally (of something “set on fire”) and metaphorically (of “passion, love”) in classical Greek and in papyri (cf. Liddell-Scott). Kaiō is used in the Septuagint over 70 times to translate 13 Hebrew terms, most frequently sāraph (“burn”). Lev 4:12 described how a bullock was to be “burned” for a sin offering, and in Jer 34:2 God instructed Jeremiah to warn Zedekiah that He intended to bring judgment upon Jerusalem by allowing the King of Babylon to “burn it with fire.”

Kaio - 12x in 12v - blazing(1), burned(2), burning(5), burns(2), light(1), lit(1).

Matt. 5:15; Lk. 12:35; Lk. 24:32; Jn. 5:35; Jn. 15:6; 1 Co. 13:3; Heb. 12:18; Rev. 4:5; Rev. 8:8; Rev. 8:10; Rev. 19:20; Rev. 21:8

Kaio - 70x in 63v in the Septuagint - 

Ex. 3:2; Ex. 27:20; Ex. 27:21; Ex. 35:3; Lev. 4:12; Lev. 6:9; Lev. 6:12; Lev. 6:13; Lev. 24:2; Lev. 24:3; Lev. 24:4; Deut. 4:11; Deut. 5:23; Deut. 9:15; Deut. 32:22; Jdg. 15:5; 2 Sam. 23:7; 1 Ki. 13:2; Job 15:34; Job 27:21; Job 31:12; Job 41:19; Job 41:20; Ps. 7:13; Ps. 50:3; Isa. 4:5; Isa. 5:24; Isa. 9:18; Isa. 10:16; Isa. 10:17; Isa. 10:18; Isa. 30:27 (Burning is His anger); Isa. 30:33; Isa. 33:14; Isa. 34:9; Isa. 44:15; Isa. 44:16; Isa. 50:11; Isa. 62:1; Isa. 65:5; Jer. 7:18; Jer. 7:20; Jer. 15:14; Jer. 20:9; Jer. 21:12; Jer. 32:29; Jer. 34:2; Jer. 37:8; Jer. 37:10; Jer. 38:18; Jer. 43:12; Jer. 49:27; Ezek. 1:13; Ezek. 39:9; Dan. 3:6; Dan. 3:11; Dan. 3:15; Dan. 3:19; Dan. 3:20; Dan. 3:26; Hos. 7:4; Mal. 4:1; 

Isaiah 4:5-note (describing Mt Zion in the Millennium) then the LORD will create over the whole area of Mount Zion and over her assemblies a cloud by day, even smoke, and the brightness of a flaming fire (Lxx = pur - fire + kaio in present tense - continually burning) by night; for over all the glory will be a canopy.

Hughes - There are 260 chapters in the New Testament, and Christ's return is mentioned no less than 318 times in those chapters. Statistically, one verse in twenty-five mentions the Lord's return. The only books that don't mention the Second Advent are Galatians (which is focused on refuting the Judaizers) and the tiny letters of 2 and 3 John. (Ibid)


Steven Cole - Jesus uses four word pictures to emphasize the same point: Be ready for His return. “Be dressed in readiness” is literally, “let your loins be girded.” In that day, everyone wore long robes which were a hindrance if you needed to move quickly or freely. If a person planned to run or work, he would tuck his robe into a sash around his waist so that it would not interfere with his movements. The verb here indicates a state of perpetual readiness for action.

The second figure, “keep your lamps alight,” comes from a day when there was no electricity. There were no streetlights or city lights outside and no nightlights to help you find your way to the bathroom in the middle of the night. If you were expecting a midnight visitor, you would keep an oil light burning so that when he knocked on the door, you could see to let him in. Again, the idea is, be ready for the Master’s coming. 

The third picture is of servants who are awaiting their master’s return from a wedding feast. Such feasts could last for days, often for a week. The servants would need to be ready when they heard their master arrive to open the door and serve him. Scholars debate whether Luke is using a Roman or Jewish reckoning of the watches of the night, but the point is the same: the master could come in the middle of the night when you least expect him, so you must be ready.

The fourth picture is of a thief breaking into a house in the middle of the night. If the homeowner had known when the thief was coming, he would not have allowed his house to be broken into. He would have been ready and waiting.

Then Jesus states the application of all four figures: “You, too, be ready; for the Son of Man is coming at an hour that you do not expect” (Lk 12:40).
Scoffers may say, “It’s been almost 2,000 years since Jesus spoke these words. Every generation since then has thought that it was the final generation before His coming, but they all died without seeing it happen. Face reality: It’s just not going to happen!” The apostle Peter points out (2 Pet. 3:3-13) that such foolish scoffers fail to note that God spoke the universe into existence by His powerful word and that He has given us an object lesson of the terror and power of His judgment in the flood. The present heavens and earth are being reserved, not for a judgment of water, but of fire. Also, with the Lord, a day is as a thousand years and a thousand years are as a day. His view of time and ours are vastly different! The only reason He has delayed judgment is His great patience as He waits for more to come to repentance. Peter then uses Jesus’ image of a thief:

But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up. Since all these things are to be destroyed in this way, what sort of people ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God ...” (2 Pe 3:10-12a).

An error regarding the Lord’s coming called Preterism is gaining popularity in evangelical circles. The basic teaching is that the prophecies of Matthew 24 and the Book of Revelation were fulfilled in A.D. 70 when the Roman general Titus destroyed Jerusalem and scattered the Jewish people. There are various degrees of this teaching. The more mild Preterists would say that there will be a double fulfillment of some of these prophecies, and that Jesus Christ’s bodily second coming is still future. While I disagree with many of their interpretations, this mild view is not heretical. But the extreme Preterists argue that Christ actually came back in A.D. 70 and that He is not coming again! Although those who hold this view say that they are attempting to deal with the biblical texts, I believe that the extreme Preterists go outside the bounds of orthodoxy and are guilty of heresy. Their view robs believers of the hope of the many promises of our Lord’s coming. While it is true that we all will stand before Him the instant we die, the Bible clearly teaches that we should live every day in the hope that He may come at any time: “Be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour that you do not expect!”


If you have any regard for Jesus’ words, you must be concerned with the question, “How can I be ready for His coming?” Our text suggests three things:

(1) To be ready for Jesus’ coming, He must be your Master.

There is a sense in which Jesus is the Lord of every person. In this passage, He clearly assumes the authority to be the rightful judge of everyone who has ever lived. But, also clearly, it will only go well for those who are rightly related to Him, who submit to Him as their personal Lord or Master. They will be blessed (Lk 12:37, 38, 43) when He comes; the rest will face His punishment. Some will say, “Jesus is my Savior, but I haven’t yet made Him my Lord.” Really? Can you find a shred of biblical evidence that gives you comfort with such a condition? I will grant that a person can truly be saved and yet fall into sin. Every saint struggles daily against the world, the flesh, and the devil, and many saints have not learned to have consistent victory over these enemies of the soul. But I deny that you can be truly saved and live in sin and yet be comfortable living like that! If you claim to know Christ as Savior and yet you’re shrugging off known sin as no big deal, you may be in for a serious reality check when Christ returns! The only people ready for His return are those who daily seek to bring every area of life under His lordship. It is a constant struggle, but if you are not engaging in the struggle, you need to examine yourself to see whether you are in the faith (2 Cor. 13:5). Those who are ready for Christ’s return seek to follow Him as Lord.

(2) To be ready for Jesus’ coming, you must be His servant.

It should be obvious that a master is master of servants. His servants live to obey his commands and to do his bidding. Jesus here commends the servants who are up in the middle of the night, ready for their master’s expected return. They were not up at that hour because they didn’t like to sleep! They were up in the service of their master. Servants do not have a life of their own; they live to please their master. It is only after they have done what he asked that he might say, “You are free to have some time to yourself.” But even then, if he thinks of something else that he needs, he will call the servant and say, “I also need you to do such and such,” and the servant must drop what he was doing or change his plans and respond, “Yes, master.” Being a servant of Jesus Christ is first and foremost a mindset and secondarily a specific ministry. My ministry is to be a pastor, but I only work at that task about 50 hours a week. But I am a servant of Jesus 24-7. Whether I’m shopping at WalMart or mowing my yard or spending time with my family, I should see myself as a servant of the Lord Jesus, obedient to His will. As Paul says, “You are not your own, for you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body” (1 Cor. 6:19-20). In addition to a servant mindset, servants of Christ should seek out an area of service in line with their spiritual gifts. God has given all of us a function to perform in the body of Christ and that body will be healthy and grow to the degree that every member functions as he or she ought (Eph. 4:16). If you are not serving Christ in some capacity or looking for a place to serve, you are probably living for yourself. Servants seek to serve their Master. When He comes, He doesn’t want to find them sitting on a hill waiting for His return. He wants to find them serving Him.

(3) To be ready for Jesus’ coming, you must live in expectation of His return.

“Blessed are those slaves whom the master shall find on the alert” (Lk 12:37). The homeowner should have been expecting the arrival of the thief. So, Jesus says, “You too, be ready” (Lk 12:40). If you’re expecting a guest, especially an important guest, you live differently than if you are not expecting anyone. On several occasions during President Carter’s time in office, he spent the night in the homes of common people. It was his attempt to portray himself as the friend of the average person, a leader who understood the problems we all face. Although you might not want our current President to spend the night in your home, imagine how you would get ready if a normal President announced that he would be coming to spend the night. Your house would be spotless. All the beds would be made. You might even put a fresh coat of paint on some of the walls or woodwork. You would want your yard to look presentable. You might go to the nursery and buy some flowers to plant. You would want things to be clean and neat because you were expecting the President.

If you’re expecting the King of kings, how should your life look? Would you have been comfortable if He had come back during your activities this past weekend? Are there books or magazines or videos that you need to get rid of before He comes to your home? Do you watch TV shows where you would be mortified if the Savior knocked on your door while they were on? Jesus says that we should be ready immediately to open the door to him when he comes and knocks (Lk 12:36). We shouldn’t have to yell, “Just a minute,” while we shut off the TV and hide a bunch of embarrassing stuff in the closet.

Spurgeon uses the analogy of his dogs to show how we should expectantly be awaiting our Master’s return. He said that at the very moment he was speaking, his dogs were sitting inside his front door, awaiting his return. At the first sound of his carriage wheels, they would lift up their voices with delight because their master is coming home. Then he adds,

Oh, if we loved our Lord as dogs love their masters, how we should catch the first sound of his Coming, and be waiting, always waiting, and never happy until at last we should see him! Pardon me for using a dog as a picture of what you ought to be; but when you have attained to a state above that, I will find another illustration to explain my meaning (12 Sermon on the Second Coming af Christ [Baker], p. 141]).

So to be ready for Christ’s return, make sure that He is your Master; be involved in serving Him all day every day; and, live as if you expect His soon coming.

J R Miller -   Watchfulness Luke 12:35-48
Our Lord often taught the lesson of watchfulness. The duty is one which cannot too frequently be impressed. We are all apt to grow negligent concerning things which we do over and over, day after day, through many years. We need to have our thoughts often called to the duty ofunceasing watchfulness in service, instant readiness for anything that may come.
The lesson opens with a wise counsel: "Be dressed ready for service and keep your lamps burning." These figures suggest readiness for instant and intense action. The loose garmentsmust be kept drawn up and tied, so that without a moment's delay we may be ready for the march, and may not be impeded in our journey. The lamps must be kept always burning, so that whenever the Master may come, we shall be ready to rise and go with Him. A characteristic phrase more than once reappearing in Paul's epistles is, "I am ready." Every Christian should hold himself ready at a moment's notice to do anything or go anywhere at the bidding of his Master.
Men looking for their absent master, waiting for his return—is the figure used to illustrate the waiting of the Christian for his Lord. No promise of Christ's was given more often, or repeated more impressively, than that He will come again. The time of the return—is indefinite and unknown; but of the fact that He will come—there is not the slightest doubt. His coming is always imminent—any hour He may come. These truths are presented in the parable we are now studying. The master is away, and his servants are left in charge of his house. When he will come back, tonight or a month hence, they do not know. But they are so to conduct themselves that, at whatever moment he may return—they will not be confused, and he will not be disappointed.
It is high honor which the Master shows to the servants whom He finds faithful. "It will be good for those servants whose master finds them watching when he comes. I tell you the truth, he will dress himself to serve, will have them recline at the table and will come and wait on them." No honor could ever be higher than this—that the master should bid his servants sit at the table, while he himself takes the servant's place and waits on them. Yet this is just what Jesus will do for His faithful ones, at the heavenly feast. He did it, indeed, at the Last Supper, when He washed His disciples' feet. He said also to them, "I am among you—as he who serves" (Luke 22:27). We cannot understand this—but we know that heaven holds for us surprises of blessedness far beyond our highest dreams. The picture suggests to us also—the dignity and nobleness of service. We may think it menial and degrading to serve—but in Christ's kingdom those who serve—are the highest. Love always serves, and love is divine.
Christ sought to make it very plain to His people—that the time of His coming to them cannot be known. He may come in the second watch, or in the third watch, or in the dawning of the morning. The value of this uncertainty as a factor in life—is to press the duty of incessant watchfulness. "If the good man of the house had known in what hour the thief would come, he would have watched, and not have left his house to be broken through." Of course. But that is just what men cannot know—when the thief will come. Thieves do not send, beforehand, a notice of the hour when they intend to break into a man's house. They come when the master of the house is least likely to be watching. So Christ will come as a thief in the night. This means that His coming in the last days will be entirely unexpected and will be a surprise!
The great lesson impressed in this passage, is the duty of readiness for the coming of Christ. While the words had special reference to the great and final return of Christ to the world—the lesson applies to every coming of Christ. We never can foretell any future, even the nearest to us. We never know what may happen in the next hour. We should so live—that any moment of our days and nights we may be ready for any coming of Christ, ready for any duty that may be most suddenly given to us; or ready to die if the call to go home should come to us.
What does this mean? For one thing, it means that we must be at peace with God, reconciled to Him. It means that we must be faithfully following Christ, doing our work day by day, hour by hour—as it is given to us. One who is not saved—is not ready for Christ's coming. DEATHis a coming of Christ to men, for it ends their probation and ushers them into the presence of God. No one is prepared for death—who has not accepted Christ as Savior, and is not living in Him.
There is a beatitude in our lesson which we should take into our lives. "Blessed is that servant whom the master finds so doing—when he returns." "So doing"—how doing? Doing his work with fidelity. If a man went away and left a servant in charge of a certain piece of work, fixing no time for his returning, what should the servant do in the master's absence? Sit in the doorway and watch to see his return? That is not the kind of watching that will please his master. He wants his servant to attend to the duties assigned him—and desires to find him, on his return, not idly gazing out at the window—but busy at his work! The way to be ready for Christ's coming, whenever and in whatever way He may come—is not to sit down in idleness and watch for His appearance—but to keep at one's tasks with unceasing diligence, so that when He comes He may find our work all finished!
Again and again is repeated the warning to those who are unfaithful. "The master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he is not aware of. He will cut him to pieces and assign him a place with the unbelievers!" There are several things said about this servant. For one thing, he is unbelieving. "My master is taking a long time in coming." As a result of his unbelief he is unfaithful to his duties and to the trust reposed in him. Then, besides unfaithfulness in duty, he is unjust to his fellow servants. He becomes selfish, grasping, domineering, and cruel. Then in his own moral habits he becomes debased. He is found eating, drinking, and drunken.
The punishment of the unfaithful and evil servant is stated clearly in the last verses, "He will cut him to pieces and assign him a place with the unbelievers. That servant who knows his master's will and does not get ready or does not do what his master wants will be beaten with many blows!"
It is a fearful thing to disregard life's solemn responsibilities. We should compare these two pictures—the faithful and the unfaithful servant—and know positively which one of the two is our own portrait. (Devotional Hours with the Bible)

READINESS FOR THE SECOND COMING - Many evangelical believers have only heard preaching about the second coming of Christ that used fear as the motivation for readiness. As a result many people live with a certain resentment toward God and the idea of the second coming. But the dominant pattern of New Testament teaching is that Christ’s return will be a time of great joy for those who are prepared to meet Him. For those who are ready, that day will be a day of celebration and joy as Jesus’ followers enter His presence for unbroken fellowship with Him. Such a joyful possibility should also be a major motivation to be ready for that day.

Luke 12:36  "Be like men who are waiting for their master when he returns from the wedding feast, so that they may immediately open the door to him when he comes and knocks.

KJV Luke 12:36 And ye yourselves like unto men that wait for their lord, when he will return from the wedding; that when he cometh and knocketh, they may open unto him immediately.


Spurgeon - Brethren, whatever theory we hold about the future, may God grant that it may never prevent our looking for the coming of Christ as an event which may happen at any moment, and being on the watch for it as a matter the date of which we do not know! The practical essence of all Scriptural teaching upon that subject is just this, “Ye yourselves like unto men that wait for their Lord, when he will return from the wedding.”

Tannehill  - Detachment from possessions (Lk 12:13–21) and from cares of daily life (Lk 12:22–34) is an important part of the readiness for the coming of the Son of Man which Jesus wishes to see in his disciples. (Abingdon New Testament Commentary: Luke)

"Be like men who are waiting for their master when he returns from the wedding feast - The men clearly refers to the servants of the master. He could return at anytime, but as noted below ancient wedding feasts were often quite lengthy. This means that the servants had to consistently, day after day, maintain an attitude of readiness to meet their master (lord) whenever he returns. The clear application of this exhortation is that the believers as bondservants of their Lord (Master) Jesus Christ are to continually be in a state of readiness (why?) for He could return at any moment, not from the wedding feast, but to take us, His Bride, to the wedding and the feast that follows. O happy, happy day! O glorious day! 

Mattoon - In Bible days, a faithful and good servant would keep the lights burning in the home when his master was away at a wedding. Most Jewish weddings in that time were at night. The faithful servant was prepared and anticipated the arrival of his master's return from the wedding. He would stay up all night long into the dark hours of the night to be able to greet his master at the door and serve him when he arrived.

Wiersbe adds "Jewish weddings were held at night, and a bridegroom’s servants would have to wait for their master to come home with his bride. The new husband would certainly not want to be kept waiting at the door with his bride! But the servants had to be sure they were ready to go to work, with their robes tucked under their girdles so they were free to move (see 1 Peter 1:13ff)."

Related Resources:

Waiting (present tense = speaks of our continual mindset)(4327)(prosdechomai rom pros = in compound Greek words implies motion or direction toward + dechomai [word study] = a deliberate and ready reception) means to accept favorably, to receive one into intercourse/companionship, to give access to oneself or receive to oneself. Prosdechomai means to receive one coming from some place and so to welcome with friendliness (Ro 16:2-note, Phil 2:29). This great Greek verb describes one who is waiting for something (in context Someone) with a sense of expectancy (Mk 15:43, Luke 2:25, 38, 12:36, 23:51, Acts 23:21, Titus 2:13, Jude 1:21). Does this verb typify your life beloved? If not what "earthly cargo" do you need to jettison in order to assure a safe voyage and an "abundant" arrival at port  (see 2Pe 1:10, 11-see notes, He 6:19, 20-see notes)?

NET Note on like men -  That is, like slaves (who are mentioned later, Lk 12:37-38), although the term anthropois is used here. Since in this context it appears generic rather than gender-specific, the translation "people" is employed.

Their master - This is the same word kurios that is translated "Lord" in the passage below (Lk 12:40, 41) where the context ("Son of Man") clearly refers to Jesus.

Master (Lord, owner)(2962)(kurios from kuros = might or power, related to kuroo = to give authority) primarily means the possessor, owner, master, the supreme one, one who is sovereign (used this way of Roman emperors - Act 25:26) and possesses absolute authority, absolute ownership and uncontested power. Kurios is used of the one to whom a person or thing belonged, over which he has the power of deciding, the one who is the master or disposer of a thing (Mk 7:28)

Luke's uses of kurios

Lk 1:6,9,11,15-17,25,28,32,38,43,45-46,58,66,68,76; 2:9,11,15,22-24,26,39; 3:4; 4:8,12,18-19; 5:8,12,17; 6:5,46; 7:6,13,19; 9:54,59,61; 10:1-2,17,21,27,39-41; 11:1,39; 12:36-37,41-43,45-47; 13:8,15,23,25,35; 14:21-23; 16:3,5,8,13; 17:5-6,37; 18:6,41; 19:8,16,18,20,25,31,33-34,38; 20:13,15,37,42,44; 22:33,38,49,61; 24:3,34; Acts 1:6,21,24; 2:20-21,25,34,36,39,47; 3:19,22; 4:26,29,33; 5:9,14,19; 7:31,33,49,59-60; 8:16,22,24-26,39; 9:1,5,10-11,13,15,17,27-28,31,35,42; 10:4,14,33,36; 11:8,16-17,20-21,23-24; 12:7,11,17,23-24; 13:2,10-12,47-49; 14:3,23; 15:11,17-18,26,35-36,40; 16:14-16,19,30-32; 17:24; 18:8-9,25; 19:5,10,13,17,20; 20:19,21,24,35; 21:13-14; 22:8,10,19; 23:11; 25:26; 26:15; 28:31

He returns from the wedding feast - This would not seem to be a reference to the Marriage Supper of the Lamb, for in this story the master returns to the servants AFTER the wedding feast. 

Returns (360)(analuo) means literally to to unloose for departure, in this context to return.

Wedding feast (1062)(gamos) refers to a wedding a public ceremony in which a man and a woman entered into a marital relationship and so speaks of a wedding or wedding feast (Jn 2:1) (5x in NT) or wedding feast (7x), the wedding festivities, wedding celebration (Mt 22.2). Gamos described.  

Eschatologically (prophetically speaking) gamos refers to the wedding ceremony of the Bridegroom, Christ, with His Bride, the Church, at the outset of the Messianic (Millennial) Kingdom (but exact timing difficult to state with absolute certainty). (Rev 19:7-note, Rev 19:9-note). Gilbrant cautions that "We would overinterpret the parable (Ed: referring to Luke 12:35-36) to insist that this speaks of Christ returning from the Marriage Supper of the Lamb for His Church. The point of the parable is the preparation for His return, not the actual timing of the return." (The Complete Biblical Library – Luke)

NET Note on wedding feast - An ancient wedding celebration could last for days (Tobit 11:18 = Ahikar and his nephew Nadab were also present to share Tobit’s joy. With merriment they celebrated Tobias’s wedding feast for seven days, and many gifts were given to him). 

So that - term of purpose 

They may immediately open the door to him when he comes and knocks - Jesus is calling for continual vigilance. Living in readiness for the parousia of the master (Christ).

Immediately (2112)(eutheos  from euthus = straight, immediate)  is an adverb which generally means at once, right away, forthwith, straightaway, without an interval of time or a point of time subsequent to a previous point of time.

Open (455)(anoigo from ana = again + oigo = to open) means to open, to open up, to open again, to give access to.

Knock (2925) (krouo) means to rap at a door for entrance. The English word "knock" comes from German word meaning to press! “Knock” means to stand at a door and repeatedly rap it with your knuckles. Other uses by Luke - Lk. 11:9; Lk. 11:10; Lk. 12:36; Lk. 13:25; Acts 12:13; Acts 12:16;

Krouo is used of Christ "knocking" at the door of the lukewarm church at Laodicea (and any church for that matter)

Rev. 3:20-note ‘Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me.

Comment: The Lord knocking here is not the same as the knocking in Lk 12:36, because the latter speaks of the Lord's return. In contrast Jesus has been "knocking" at the door of every lukewarm church for the past 2000 plus years. 

Luke 12:37  "Blessed are those slaves whom the master will find on the alert when he comes; truly I say to you, that he will gird himself to serve, and have them recline at the table, and will come up and wait on them.

KJV Luke 12:37 Blessed are those servants, whom the lord when he cometh shall find watching: verily I say unto you, that he shall gird himself, and make them to sit down to meat, and will come forth and serve them.

NET  Luke 12:37 Blessed are those slaves whom their master finds alert when he returns! I tell you the truth, he will dress himself to serve, have them take their place at the table, and will come and wait on them! 

NLT  Luke 12:37 The servants who are ready and waiting for his return will be rewarded. I tell you the truth, he himself will seat them, put on an apron, and serve them as they sit and eat! 


Blessed are those slaves whom the master will find on the alert when he comes - What is the "condition" for the blessing the slaves? Jesus says they are on the alert or vigilant (keeping alert while others are sleeping). When he comes is clearly an allusion the parousia of Christ.

Blessed (3107)(makarios) in its essence speaks of an inward contentedness that is not affected by circumstances. 

Luke's uses of makarios

Lk. 1:45; Lk. 6:20; Lk. 6:21; Lk. 6:22; Lk. 7:23; Lk. 10:23; Lk. 11:27; Lk. 11:28; Lk. 12:37; Lk. 12:38; Lk. 12:43; Lk. 14:14; Lk. 14:15; Lk. 23:29;  Acts 20:35; Acts 26:2;

Slaves (Bondservants) (1401) (doulos from deo = to bind) describes one who is bound to another in servitude and conveys the idea of the slave's close, binding ties with his master, belonging to him, obligated to and desiring to do his will and in a permanent relation of servitude. In sum, the will of the doulos is consumed in the will of the master.

On the alert (1127)(gregoreuo from egeiro = to arise, arouse) means to be watchful or to refrain from physical sleep. Ordinarily it occurs within the context of an admonition to be “on guard,” “watchful.” The expression also stands as a contrast to slothfulness (sleep) or spiritual lethargy. John uses gregoreuo in the context of the Second Coming in Rev 16:15-note describing the one who is blessed as that person "who stays awake and keeps his clothes." 

Gregoreuo came to used in the moral and religious sphere to call one to be on the alert, in a constant state of readiness and vigilant (alertly watchful especially to avoid danger). We are to be be watchful and ready to respond to external influences, focused, alert for the winds of temptation or overt attacks of evil. We are to remained alert lest we be deceived by the devil the deceiver or sin which is deceitful (Heb 3:13).

On the alert is in the present tense which speaks of a continual attitude of keeping awake and watchful, something that can only be accomplished if we are continually filled with the Spirit. 

Mark has a story (unique to his Gospel) emphasizing the need for alertness, watching at all times: 

Take heed (blepo in the present imperative), keep on the alert (agrupneo in the present imperative); for you do not know when the appointed time will come. 34 “It is like a man away on a journey, who upon leaving his house and putting his slaves in charge, assigning to each one his task, also commanded the doorkeeper to stay on the alert (gregoreuo). 35 (THEN JESUS GAVE THE SAME INSTRUCTIONS DIRECTLY TO HIS DISCIPLES) “Therefore, be on the alert (gregoreuo in the present imperative)–for you do not know when the master of the house is coming (IMPLYING HE WAS THE MASTER AND AFTER HIS CRUCIFIXION, RESURRECTION AND ASCENSION WOULD BE AWAY FROM THE DISCIPLES FOR AN UNSPECIFIED PERIOD OF TIME DURING WHICH THEY HAD ASSIGNED RESPONSIBILITIES TO CARRY OUT) , whether in the evening, at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or in the morning– 36 in case he should come suddenly and find you asleep. 37 “What I say to you I say to all, ‘Be on the alert! (gregoreuo in the gregoreuo)’” (THEIR MOST IMPORTANT TASK WAS TO WATCH CONSTANTLY FOR THEIR LORD'S RETURN! DEAR FOLLOWER OF CHRIST ARE YOU DAILY WATCHING FOR HIS RETURN?) (Mark 13:33-37)

Truly I say to you - Truly is the word  amen (it is so; so be it) which functions as a solemn affirmation, usually at the beginning of a sentence or clause (as here). Jesus is strongly affirming this statement as true! And given the incredible scene He describes, it is good to hear His "Amen" because the truth He expounds, as noted below, is absolutely mind-blowing!  

Amen (truly) I say to you (amēn legō humin) - The use of amēn legō humin in the New Testament is unique to Jesus and reinforces the importance and truthfulness of His words. This exact Greek phrase (amen lego humin) is found 61 times when Jesus introduces a statement, all in the Gospels (John's Gospel, amēn, amēn legō humin)

Matt. 6:2,5,16; 8:10; 10:15,42; 11:11; 16:28; 18:3,13,18-19; 19:23,28; 21:21,31; 23:36; 24:2,34,47; 25:12,40,45; 26:13,21; Mk. 3:28; 8:12; 9:1,41; 10:15,29; 11:23; 12:43; 13:30; 14:18,25; Lk. 4:24; 12:37; 18:17,29; 21:32; Jn. 1:51; 5:19,24-25; 6:26,32,47,53; 8:34,51,58; 10:1,7; 12:24; 13:16,20-21; 14:12; 16:20,2

Nelson's NKJV Study Bible - Here the blessing is on those who watch attentively for their master's return. Jesus was speaking of faithful and obedient service. One day Jesus will return to make an accounting of how people served Him (see Scriptures below). In a reversal of the servant image, Jesus pointed out that the faithful servant will be served by Jesus on His return. Faithfulness will be rewarded.

Romans 14:10-note  But you, why do you judge your brother? Or you again, why do you regard your brother with contempt? For we will all stand before the judgment seat (bema) of God.

2 Corinthians 5:10-note For we must all appear before the judgment seat (bema) of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad. 

He will gird himself [to serve]Gird (4024) See earlier discussion of perizonnumi. The irony (an event that seems deliberately contrary to what one would expect) is that the master girds himself to serve those who have girded themselves (Lk 12:35)!!!

Spurgeon - This always seems to me to be one of the most remarkable of our Lord’s utterances while he was here upon the earth. His whole life was one of condescension, which was never more clearly manifested than it was when he, the Lord and Master of all, took the position of servant of all, and washed his disciples’ feet; yet he here tells us that, if he finds us watching when he comes again, he will once more take his place as our servitor.

Spurgeon - I will not attempt fully to explain this passage of Scripture in the few moments which I can give to it, but it is very wonderful. Our Lord has been here once, and girded himself to serve us; but is it not extraordinary that here is an intimation of a second girding of himself that he may serve us? Oh, how fond is Christ of being the servant of servants, ministering unto those who delight to minister unto him! What an honour does the Captain of our salvation put upon the meanest soldiers in this war when he declares that, if we be found faithful, he will gird himself, and come forth and serve us! 

Wiersbe agrees that "the remarkable thing in this story is that the master serves the servants! In Jewish weddings, the bride was treated like a queen and the groom like a king; so you would not expect the “king” to minister to his staff. Our King will minister to His faithful servants when He greets us at His return, and He will reward us for our faithfulness." (Ibid)

And have them recline at the table - In this context, this is surely a reference to the Messianic Banquet. This refers to the messianic banquet. 

Revelation 19:9-note  Then he *said to me, “Write, ‘Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.’” And he *said to me, “These are true words of God.”

Tony Garland explains - Those who are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb are blessed because the supper will take place in the kingdom of God (see Luke 14:15 below). Attendance at the supper is equivalent to finding entry into the kingdom of God. This is one of seven blessings given in the book of Revelation. Since the banquet includes the saints of all ages (not just the bride), this also indicates the feast will be held during the Millennial Kingdom. In order for Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob to participate, it will have to follow their resurrection (Isa.26:19; Da 12:2-note). In order for the Tribulation martyrs to participate, it will also have to follow their resurrection (Rev. 20:4-note).

It is with the Marriage Feast that the Millennium will begin,...the invitations...go out to all the redeemed who are not members of the Church, i.e., the Old Testament and Tribulation saints soon to be resurrected. (Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum, The Footsteps of Messiah)

It is in the kingdom of God, when the Messianic Kingdom comes on earth, that Jesus will once again eat the Passover:

Then He said to them, “With fervent desire I have desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer; for I say to you, I will no longer eat of it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.” Then He took the cup, and gave thanks, and said, “Take this and divide it among yourselves; for I say to you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.” (Luke 22:15-18) Since the marriage supper consistently is used in reference to Israel on the earth, it may be best to...view the marriage of the Lamb as that event in the heavens in which the church is eternally united to Christ and the marriage feast or supper as the Millennium, to which Jews and Gentiles will be invited, which takes place on earth, during which time the bridegroom is honored through the display of the bride to all His friends who are assembled there. (Dwight Pentecost, Things to Come: A Study in Biblical Eschatology)

Luke 13:29  “And they will come from east and west and from north and south, and will recline at the table in the kingdom of God.;

Luke 14:15 When one of those who were reclining at the table with Him heard this, he said to Him, “Blessed is everyone who will eat bread in the kingdom of God!” 16 But He said to him, “A man was giving a big dinner, and he invited many; 17 and at the dinner hour he sent his slave to say to those who had been invited, ‘Come; for everything is ready now.’  (See this entire story in Lk 14:15-24)

Luke 22:27-30 “For who is greater, the one who reclines at the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one who reclines at the table? But I am among you as the one who serves (serves is in the present tense = continually!)  28 “You are those who have stood by Me in My trials; 29 and just as My Father has granted Me a kingdom, I grant you 30 that you may eat and drink at My table in My kingdom, and you will sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel. (Amazing, amazing truth and perhaps a shadow of that day when we are all reclining around the table at the Marriage Supper of the Lamb. Unbelievable! How great is our God!)

Related Resource:

NET Note - "have them recline at table," as 1st century middle eastern meals were not eaten while sitting at a table, but while reclining on one's side on the floor with the head closest to the low table and the feet farthest away.

And will come up and wait on them - If the servants are  prepared when their master comes, they will be blessed, because the master will actually wait on them! Do you understand what Jesus is saying here? It is enough to boggle your mind! Jesus, the King of kings and Lord of lords will Himself not only share in the Messianic banquet, but will actually serve those whom He saved! Jesus alluded to this when He was on earth declaring 

For even the Son of Man did not come to be served (diakoneo), but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many. (Mark 10:45+)

Luke 22 gives us a hint of this incredible future event when the King of kings girds Himself to serve His bondservants

“For who is greater, the one who reclines at the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one who reclines at the table? But I am among you as the one who serves. 

Stein - The image of the “Lord” serving his servants at the parousia is unexpected and powerful. How blessed indeed are those whom the Lord will serve when he returns! (New American Commentary – Volume 24: Luke)

Bock - Jesus will be so pleased with those who wait for him that he will serve them at the great banquet table, which pictures final eschatological blessing (Luke 13:29; 22:30; Rev. 19:9)

Gilbrant on will come up and wait on them - It probably produced some laughter among the listeners! Yet that is exactly what Jesus did in the midst of His disciples. In Lk 22:27 He affirmed that He came to serve. In John 13:4, 5 He did serve and wash their feet. He made it clear that He is to be understood as a rewarding and serving Lord.

Norman Crawford has an interesting analysis on Jesus serving those He saved - In the days of His humiliation He "took upon him the form of a servant?" (Phil 2:7-note) and manifested true servant character, but even in the day of His glory He will not have ceased to be the true Servant. To those who are found watching when He comes will the great honour be granted to sit down at His table and He Himself will serve them, even as He served them that day on the shore of the sea, meeting all their need (John 21:13). This eternal character as the perfect Servant explains for us the use of morphē in Phil 2:7, for this word is always the display of essential nature, not a display of temporal features. In the incarnation the Lord Jesus became what He forever will be. (What the Bible teaches – Luke) (Bolding added)

Wait on (serve) (1247)(diakoneo - derivation uncertain - cp diakonis = in the dust laboring or running through the dust or possibly diako = to run on errands; see also study of related noun - diakonia) means to minister by way of rendering service in any form or to take care of by rendering humble service. Luke's uses of diakoneo - Lk. 4:39; Lk. 8:3; Lk. 10:40; Lk. 12:37; Lk. 17:8; Lk. 22:26; Lk. 22:27; Acts 6:2; Acts 19:22

NET Note agrees that this "is a reversal of expectation, but shows that what Jesus asks for He is willing to do as well; see John 13:5 and John 15:18–27, although those instances merely foreshadow what is in view here."

Gilbrant on diakoneo - This verb member of the diakon- word group means chiefly “serve” or (passively) “be served.” Not especially common in classical Greek, in its earliest uses diakoneō probably did not have any religious connotations and simply meant “to render a service” of any kind. Herodotus has the first-known instance; there it simply means “to wait table” (Beyer, “diakoneō,” Kittel, 2:82ff.). More general senses include “to care for, provide for,” or “to do the work of a servant.” Beyer notes that in the eyes of the Greek serving was viewed with disdain, and “ruling and not serving is proper to a man....” (ibid.). Somewhat surprisingly the Septuagint does not use the verb diakoneō at all. Slightly over one-half of the instances of diakoneō occur in the Gospels. At times the term denotes the kind of “waiting on tables” or “serving” described in its classical usage (e.g., Matthew 8:15; Mark 1:31; Luke 10:40; 17:8). In more general terms, it refers to the kind of “care” that women followers of Jesus provided (e.g., Matthew 27:55; Mark 15:41). Of more theological significance is the place of “service” in the life of the disciple, which of course is predicated upon Jesus’ own model as servant. Jesus himself “did not come to be served (ouk diakonethēnai), but to serve (diakonesai)” (Matthew 20:28, NIV; Mark 10:45). He was in their midst as a servant (ho dianonōn) (Luke 22:26). Jesus invited His followers to serve if they wished to lead (Luke 22:27; cf. John 12:26; cf. Matthew 20:26; Mark 9:35). Outside of the Gospels the idea of “to wait tables” is seen, most clearly in Acts 6:2 (in this case, money tables as in Matthew 21:12). (Complete Biblical Library Greek-English Dictionary)

The Master Serves - multiple quotes 

John MacArthur - This remarkable statement pictures Christ, at His return, ministering as a servant to believers. Mk 10:45 

John MacArthur (Luke commentary) - But in the future, believers will be honored and rewarded when Jesus Himself serves them at the great heavenly banquet (Luke 12:37). Even that, however, will be the result of His grace. Never, either in this world or in heaven, will believers merit anything God lavishly gives them.

John Phillips (Exploring the Gospel of Luke) -  Watching for the Lord (12:37-40) First, there is a great promise: "Blessed are those servants, whom the lord when he cometh shall find watching: verily I say unto you, that he shall gird himself, and make them to sit down to meat, and will come forth and serve them" (12:37). What an extraordinary promise! (See also Lk 17:7-10.) Someone has called this the greatest promise in the Bible. It is a sure and certain indication of how greatly the Lord loves His servants and appreciates their willing, watchful commitment to His cause.

Alan Carr (Baptist pastor, sermon on Revelation 19) - The Groom at the Wedding Supper -- In a typical oriental wedding celebration, the groom would mingle with the guests to be sure that everyone had every need met. Imagine what it will be to be in the presence of the Lord Jesus and have Him be occupied with seeing that our joy is full! Jesus will actually serve His people in that day, Luke 12:37! My, that is almost beyond the grasp of my mind!

J C Ryle - "This is perhaps one of the most wonderful promises made to believers in the New Testament. It must probably be interpreted figuratively. It means that there is no limit to the honor and glory which the Lord Jesus will bestow on those who are ready to meet him at his second coming."

David Gooding (Luke Commentary) - At the great banquet the Master himself will serve us Lk 12:37). Does not that inspire us to grasp every opportunity of serving him first?

Spurgeon (Sermon on 1 Cor 4:1-2 Stewards) - The reward of faithful stewards is exceedingly great. Let us aspire to it. The Lord will make the man who was faithful in a few things to be ruler over many things. That is an extraordinary passage where our Lord says, “Blessed are those servants, whom the lord when he cometh shall find watching: verily I say unto you, that he shall gird himself, and make them to sit down to meat, and will come forth and serve them” (Lk 12:37). It is wonderful that our Lord has already served us. But how can we comprehend that He will serve us again? Think of Jesus rising up from His throne to wait upon us! “Behold,” He cries, “here comes a man who served Me faithfully on earth! Make way for him, you angels and principalities and powers. This is the man whom the King delights to honor.” And to our surprise, the King girds Himself and waits upon us. We are ready to cry, “Not so, Lord” (Ac 10:14; 11:8). But He must, and will, keep His word. This unspeakable honor He will pay to His true servants. Happy man to have been the poorest and most despised of ministers to be now served by the King of kings!

Spurgeon (Exposition of Lk 12) - I will not attempt fully to explain this passage of Scripture in the few moments which I can give to it, but it is very wonderful. Our Lord has been here once, and girded himself to serve us; but is it not extraordinary that here is an intimation of a second girding of himself that he may serve us? Oh, how fond is Christ of being the servant of servants, ministering unto those who delight to minister unto him! What an honour does the Captain of our salvation put upon the meanest soldiers in this war when he declares that, if we be found faithful, he will gird himself, and come forth and serve us!

Spurgeon (Exposition of Lk 12:37) - I never read this verse without wondering at the marvelous condescension of our Lord. Even in the day of his appearing in glory, his thoughts will be more about his people than about himself: “He shall gird himself, and make them to sit down to meat, and will come forth and serve them.”

Roy Zuck (THE REWARD OF SERVICE  -- Luke 12:37; 17:7–10) Two neglected truths about ministry are stated by the Lord in these passages. First, service is obligatory and a disciple deserves no praise for doing his duty (Luke 17:7–10). Even the finest service establishes no claim on God since believers are at best unprofitable servants. But God is gracious. In fact, He is so gracious that besides receiving the service of faithful, alert servants, He even reverses roles and actually serves His servants (12:37). This is the second idea—service is graciously rewarded by God. Nothing could more clearly underline the truth that grace and love lie at the heart of Christian service.

Mark Hitchock in 101 Answers - It may surprise you to learn that Scripture contains no mention of believers serving each other in heaven—only of us serving God and Him serving us. Luke 12:37 says that when the Lord of Glory comes He "will gird himself to serve, and have them recline at the table, and will come up and wait on them." Ever the servant, the Lord Jesus will wait on us, His beloved bride, and meet our needs forever.

John Piper (Devotional "Jesus Christ is Alive to Serve") - “The Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45). But not only was he the servant of his people while he lived on earth, he will also be our servant when he comes again: “Truly, I say to you, he will gird himself and have them sit at table, and he will come and serve them” (Luke 12:37). Not only that, he is our servant now: “‘I will never fail you nor forsake you.’ Hence we can confidently say, ‘The Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid; what can man do to me?”

Good News, Bad News. —Luke 12:37

A teacher tells her young students, “Class, I’m going down the hall for a few minutes. I don’t expect to be away long. I’m sure there won’t be any trouble. I’m trusting you to work on your assignments while I’m gone.”

Fifteen minutes pass, then 20, then 40. Suddenly the teacher returns. Dennis has just thrown an eraser at Carol who is doing her math. Steven is standing on the teacher’s desk making faces. The students carrying out the teacher’s instructions are delighted at the teacher’s return, but Dennis and Steven wish she hadn’t come back at all.

Jesus Christ is coming back! That stands as both a warning and a promise throughout the New Testament. It’s good news or bad, depending on who hears it.

In church we sing songs like “Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus.” As we take the Lord’s Supper, the minister says that we “proclaim the Lord’s death till He comes” (1 Cor. 11:26). On Sunday morning, the second coming of Christ sounds like great news. But during the rest of the week are we as ready for His return?

Jesus is coming back! It may be soon. It will be sudden. Is that good news or bad? It’s up to you.By Haddon W. Robinson

When Jesus comes to reward His servants,
Whether it be noon or night,
Faithful to Him will He find us watching,
With our lamps all trimmed and bright? —Crosby

Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming. —Jesus (Mt. 24:42)

Luke 12:38  "Whether he comes in the second watch, or even in the third, and finds them so, blessed are those slaves.

KJV  And if he shall come in the second watch, or come in the third watch, and find them so, blessed are those servants.

NLT   He may come in the middle of the night or just before dawn. But whenever he comes, he will reward the servants who are ready. 


Bock - Jesus reinforces the call to be ready with another illustration: a protected or unprotected home. 

SpurgeonPeradventure he will not come when the modern prophetic say that he will appear, but he will come when least of all he is expected. Therefore, expect the unexpected; look for your Lord to come when the many go to sleep. Perhaps, while yet I am speaking, ere this gathered assembly shall disperse, there may be heard the cry, “Behold, the Bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him.” Are our loins girded? Are our lamps burning? God bless his own truth to the effecting of both those ends! 

Whether he comes in the second watch, or even in the third - These are night watches when one would get sleepy and not be as alert. Jesus' point is clear -- He is not setting dates but is saying whatever time the master (speaking of Himself ultimately) returns, his bondservants are to be expectantly awaiting His return! The hour of His coming is not known and watchfulness is to characterize those who wait.

NET Note on watch - The second or third watch of the night would be between 9 p.m. and 3 a.m. on a Roman schedule and 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. on a Jewish schedule. Luke uses the four-watch schedule of the Romans in Acts 12:4 (cf Mt 14:25, Mk 6:48), so that is more probable here. Regardless of the precise times of the watches, however, it is clear that the late-night watches when a person is least alert are in view here.

Stein agrees that Luke probably was thinking of the Roman practice of dividing the night into four watches. ("Note the four sets of guards in Acts 12:4; cf. also Matt 14:25; Mark 13:35") The watches were 6–9, 9–12, 12–3, and 3–6. The time would therefore be around midnight. If he was referring instead to the Jewish system of three watches (6–10, 10–2, 2–6), then the time would be around 2:00 a.m.

Spurgeon - This is a warning to Christ’s own people; but it is still more a warning to those who do not know him. Suppose he were to come tonight; where would you be, you who have hitherto lived as if you were your own masters, and were by no means the servants of Christ? Take heed unto yourselves, for ye know not when your Lord shall come.

Finds them so - How? Finds them "alert when he returns!" Paul in his letter to the saints at Thessalonica,  exhorts them (AND US) not to become "sleepy saints" lulled into spiritual apathy and/or complacency in light of the imminency of Christ's return (he believed he would see the Lord in the air - see Paul's use of "we" in 1 Thes 4:15, 17 "that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord...Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air)...

But you, brethren, are not in darkness (unbeliever's moral state and separation from God), that the day should overtake you like a thief; 5  for (gar = term of explanation) you are all sons of light and sons of day. We are not of night nor of darkness; 6 so then (term of conclusion) let us not sleep as others do, but let us be alert and sober.  For (gar = term of explanation) those who sleep do their sleeping at night, and those who get drunk get drunk at night. 8  But since we are of the day, let us be sober, having put on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet, the hope of salvation. 9  For God has not destined us for wrath, but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, 10  who died for us, that whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with Him  11  Therefore encourage one another, and build up one another, just as you also are doing. (1 Thes 5:4-11-note)

Warren Wiersbe exhorts saints to "Live expectantly. This does not mean putting on a white sheet and sitting atop a mountain. That is the very attitude God condemned (Acts 1:10-11). But it does mean living in the light of His return, realizing that our works will be judged and that our opportunities for service on earth will end. It means to live “with eternity’s values in view.” Believers who live in the expectation of the Lord’s return will certainly enjoy a better life than Christians who compromise with the world. At the end of each chapter in this letter (1 Thessalonians), Paul pointed out the practical results of living expectantly. Take time now to review those verses and to examine your heart (1 Th 1:10, 1 Th 2:19-20, 1 Th 3:11-13, 1 Th 4:17-18, 1 Th 5:23-24), . 

Blessed (3107) see above for makarios. This is the reward for expectant waiting and not falling asleep, so to speak. 

NLT paraphrases the promised "blessing" - "He will reward the servants who are ready." This reminds me of Paul's promise to believers in some of his last written words...

In the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved (agapao in the perfect tense = speaks of an abiding, enduring love of) His appearing (epiphaneia). (2 Ti 4:8-note)

Comment: Beloved, who or what you are looking for tomorrow will determine what or who you are living for today. Do you truly love the thought of Christ's appearing? Do your thoughts, your words, your actions (e.g., your checkbook) indicate that you are truly looking, longing and loving His appearing? Today, would you say you find yourself loving the Lord's appearing or are you dreading the Lord's appearing? I have heard more than one professing believer say "I have too much left I want to do (speaking of earthly not eternal things). I'm not ready for Him to come back." Do you have a "Maranatha Mindset?" John Wesley said that "only a real Christian can" truly love and look forward to Christ's appearing."

Beloved, next to losing one’s soul and going to hell, (in my opinion) the greatest tragedy may well be when a believer enters into glory and discovers that he or she had squandered the opportunities the Lord had given them to bring Him glory. Only a person longing for His appearing will live like He could appear today.

MacArthur adds this challenge: "Do you love Christ? Do you show it by delighting in and obeying God's Word? If so, you'll receive an eternal reward of perfect righteousness in eternity. You can enhance and enrich that eternal reward by faithfully serving Christ now. That's why Paul said, "Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men; knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve" (Col 3:23, 24-note) . By loving and serving Christ with all your heart, you'll enjoy eternity as Christ expresses back to you His gratitude for your service. He will do so by enhancing your service and responsibility beyond what you can imagine! You'll know the fullness of eternal joy as you serve the One who gave Himself for you."

Dwight Edwards illustrates this idea with "The wife whose beloved husband is on his way home after a prolonged absence longs for and eagerly anticipates the day that the man of her heart returns. As she watches in keen expectation, the passengers slowly file out of the plane until at last her eyes gaze upon the face of her beloved. She truly "loves his appearing." In the same way, the faithful disciple longs for and keenly anticipates the day when Christ will return to leave no more. Because the strings of his heart are tightly bound around the King of kings, he counts Christ's return a supreme treasure and has "fallen in love" with His appearing. But the heart which is not "wholly His," which maintains its deep cravings for the pleasures and comforts of this world, cannot long for or "love His appearing." Edwards then gives us an interesting way to gauge if you love His appearing: "A significant question to ask ourselves in this regard is, "WHAT THINGS DO I DESPERATELY WANT TO EXPERIENCE OR ACHIEVE BEFORE CHRIST RETURNS?" The length of our answer to this question is an unerring gauge of our love and devotion to Christ and His eternal kingdom. The more answers we have, the more things we deeply crave before Christ returns; the less affection we will have for Him and His appearing. The heart which is captivated by the allurements of this age will feel little interest for the inauguration of a new age in which the present allurements will be utterly stripped away. But the servant whose heart is captivated by the person of Christ and His work will call out with the apostle John, "Even so, come, Lord Jesus!" (Re 22:20-note)

Slaves (Bondservants) (1401) see above for doulos

Robert Murray McCheyne sometimes asked people, “Do you believe that Jesus is coming today?” If they replied in the negative, he would say, “Then you had better be ready, for He is coming at an hour when you think not!” (Wiersbe)

C H Spurgeon - Our Master taught us how to die as well as how to live. He could say, “I have finished the work which You gave Me” (John 17:4). Triple blessed is the believer who, in permanently laying down the shepherd’s staff or the carpenter’s plane, or in putting aside the ledger or the schoolbook, can exclaim, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me” (2 Ti 4:7, 8). They asked good old Mede, the Puritan, how he was doing. He answered, “Going home as fast as I can, and bless God I have a good home to go to.” Dear aged saint, so near home, faith will transform death from an enemy to a friend as it brings the glory near. You will soon be in the Father’s house and leave me behind. But I am not sure. I remember that the other disciple outran Peter and came first to the tomb (John 20:4), and so may I. You have the start on me in years, but I may be called home first. Let death come. We will not be afraid. Jesus, who loved us and gave His life for us, is the resurrection and the life (John 11:25). Why should we not want to go? What is here that we should want to wait? What is there on this poor earth to detain a heaven born and heaven bound spirit? Let us go. He, our treasure, is gone. He whose beauties have enthralled our love is not here. Why should we linger? He has risen (Mt 28:7). Let us rise.

The Promised Prize - Recently I received a magazine sweepstakes letter that addressed me by name and repeatedly mentioned a $500,000 prize. It spoke of instant wealth and a lifetime of leisure. Finally, at the bottom of page 2, in very small print, I found the part I was looking for. As required by law, the letter told me that the approximate numerical odds of my winning the prize were 1 in 80 million. Now that's remote!

Contrast that with Paul's anticipation of what awaited him in heaven: "There is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing" (2Ti 4:8). Note his assurance: "There is laid up for me." Not "there might be" or "there's a slight chance"--"there is."

J. Oswald Sanders writes, "This crown is awarded to those who have completed the Christian race with integrity, with eyes fixed on the coming Lord. It is the reward for fulfilling the ministry entrusted to one."

If you have welcomed Christ into your life, long for His appearing, and are faithfully running your race, then the same prize awaits you. Count on it, plan on it, anticipate it! It's a promise from God. --D C McCasland (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)

Run the straight race through God's good grace,
Lift up your eyes and seek His face;
Life with its way before us lies,
Christ is the path, and Christ the prize. --Monsell

Our present choices determine our future rewards.
See Finishing Well (RBC Booklet)

Luke 12:39  "But be sure of this, that if the head of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have allowed his house to be broken into.

KJV Luke 12:39 And this know, that if the goodman of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched, and not have suffered his house to be broken through.


Matthew parallel passages

But be sure of this, that if the head of the house had known at what time of the night the thief was coming, he would have been on the alert and would not have allowed his house to be broken into. For this reason you also must be ready; for the Son of Man is coming at an hour when you do not think He will.  (Mt 24:43,44)

Butterm of contrast. What is Jesus contrasting? He is changing the illustration, now comparing the call to be alert to how one would watch to protect against a robbery if he knew the time of the robbery. 

Jesus used this metaphor in Revelation

‘So remember what you have received and heard; and keep it, and repent. Therefore if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come to you.(Rev 3:3-note)

Tony Garland writes - Christians are to watch: (1) for Christ; (2) themselves lest they drift; (3) others lest false brethren or teachers pervert what they have received. Here the emphasis is upon watching for Christ (Mat. 24:42; 25:13; Mark 13:33, 35; Mark 13:37; Luke 12:36-40; 21:36; 1 Cor. 1:7; 16:13; Php. 3:20; 1 Th. 1:10; 5:6; 2 Ti. 4:8; Tit. 2:13; Heb. 9:28; 2Pe. 3:12; Rev. 3:2-3; Rev. 16:15). Coming as a thief always denotes an unexpected coming in judgment because a thief comes to rob and destroy. Christ is never said to come for His church as a thief. “The first phase of the Lord’s coming is as a bridegroom and the second phase is as a thief. He does not come upon His bride as a thief and He does not come upon the apostates and unregenerate world as a bridegroom.”

“Behold, I am coming like a thief. Blessed is the one who stays awake and keeps his clothes, so that he will not walk about naked and men will not see his shame.” (Rev 16:15-note)

Paul addressing the believers in Thessalonica gave a similar picture describing the Day of the Lord...

For you yourselves know full well that the Day of the Lord will come just like a thief in the night. While they are saying, “Peace and safety!” then destruction will come upon them suddenly like labor pains upon a woman with child, and they will not escape. (1 Th 5:2,3)

Peter uses the metaphor of a thief writing...

But the Day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up.  (2 Pet 3:10-note)

Be sure of this - present tense - Continually understand the truth of the following parable. The chief thought is that the thief comes at an unexpected hour.

But be sure of this, that if the head of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming - Clearly thieves don't telegraph that they are coming to visit. They come when everyone is sleeping. They come when least expected. They come stealthily and swiftly. As Jesus explains in Lk 12:40, speaking of His own return, this is how He too will come but not to rob but to bless His Bride. But for some His coming will have a similar effect of a thief, for they will lose everything of value, and worst of all will lose their chance for salvation and be themselves "lost" forever in the eternal torments of hell. But for those who have received Jesus by grace through faith as their Lord and Savior, His coming will in fact end the night of this evil age, and be the dawning of the New Age of the Messiah and His Millennial Kingdom which lasts for 1000 years and is followed by the burning of the old heavens and earth, the Great White Throne judgment of all unbelievers of the all ages, be their great or small, rich or poor, which is then followed by the glorious New Heavens and New Earth, where righteousness will dwell forever and ever. Amen.

Liefeld - It is unusual, but not impossible, for an evil character, such as a thief, to represent a good person (see the unjust judge [Lk 18:1-8], who stands in contrast to God). Actually, it is the story as a whole, not the individual characters in it, that provides the comparison here.

Norman Crawford - It cannot be correct to interpret that the Lord will come to His own as a thief in the night when Paul, Peter and John say that it is in judgment on the ungodly that He will so come (1 Thess 5:2; 2 Pet 3:10; Rev 16:15)...Paul teaches that the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, "But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief" (1 Th 5:4), so the Lord does not come as a thief to His own. This warning by the Lord is general, teaching the suddenness of His return, and the great necessity of being ready. It is not really necessary to make a positive identification of the householder. (What the Bible teaches – Luke)

Related Resources on Millennium:

  • Millennium 1 - summary including overview of Rev 19:11-21:3, history of how it has been interpreted
  • Millennium 2 - events leading up to the millennium, including Great Tribulation and Chart of 70th week

Head of the house (3617)(oikodespotes from oikos = house + despotes = lord, master) means the master of the house, the head of a family.

Gilbrant - This noun is found only in later Greek (Bauer), and like the verb oikodespoteō, is a compound of oikos, “house,” and despotēs, “ruler.” It denotes one who is empowered to rule over a household. In classical Greek it is often used in connection with a native ruler as opposed to a foreign emperor (Liddell-Scott). It also refers to Zodiac symbols. Oikodespotēs does not occur in the Septuagint, although the term despotēs is found over 60 times. In the New Testament the word occurs 12 times, frequently in the parables of Jesus, and it depicts divine actions as represented by those of “the master of the house.” It is rendered “master of the house” in Matthew 10:25; Luke 13:14,25; and 14:21, where context emphasizes the authority of the person spoken of. Elsewhere, it may be rendered (e.g., Matthew 24:43) as “goodman of the house” (an obsolete English term meaning about the same as “master of the house”) or as “householder” (e.g., Matthew 13:27,52).

Oikodespotes - 12x in 12v - head of a household(1), head of the house(4), head of the household(1), landowner(4), owner(1), owner of the house(1). There are no uses in the Septuagint.

Matt. 10:25; Matt. 13:27; Matt. 13:52; Matt. 20:1; Matt. 20:11; Matt. 21:33; Matt. 24:43; Mk. 14:14; Lk. 12:39; Lk. 13:25; Lk. 14:21; Lk. 22:11

He would not have allowed his house to be broken into - This is straightforward logic. If we know we are going to be robbed tonight, we will be ready for the thief. Of course, Jesus will not come to His own to rob them. The timing of His return is not known and that is His main point in this simile. The Church needs to remain "awake" and not be falling asleep! How would you describe your church beloved? Awake and ready to meet Jesus face to face or "dozing into somnolence" regarding His return?

Broken into - literally dug through. Houses made of mud brick were common in Jesus' day. 

Luke 12:40  "You too, be ready; for the Son of Man is coming at an hour that you do not expect."

KJV Luke 12:40 Be ye therefore ready also: for the Son of man cometh at an hour when ye think not.


Matthew's parallel passage

For this reason you also must be ready; for the Son of Man is coming at an hour when you do not think He will.  (Mt 24:44)

You too - Like a man watching to protect his house, always on high alert.  

Be ready - The verb "be" is a command in the present imperative. This tense calls for a lifestyle of readiness of the return of Jesus (See discussion of the Need for the Holy Spirit to obey NT commands). When we have our morning devotional, we should say "Lord, this could be the day, so fill me with Your Spirit, so I am supernaturally empowered to remain continually in a state of readiness! Amen!"

The saintly Presbyterian pastor Robert Murray McCheyne sometimes asked people, "Do you believe that Jesus is coming today?" If they replied in the negative, he would say, "Then you had better be ready, for He is coming at an hour when you think not!" (Wiersbe)

Spurgeon - And the Lord told him that, while it was spoken to all, it had a very special bearing upon apostolic men, upon preachers of the gospel, ministers of Christ.

Ready (2092) (hetoimos from an old noun heteos = fitness) means ready, prepared, in a state of readiness. Luke's use of hetoimos - Lk. 12:40; 14:17; 22:33; Acts 23:15, 21; 

The English word ready means "ready and waiting," waiting and prepared to act,  prepared for what is going to happen, in a state of completion or preparedness, prepared or equipped to act or be used immediately, as for use or action willing or eager, prompt or rapid, quick in perceiving, fully prepared, made suitable and available for immediate use. There is a phrase referring to clothes as "ready to wear" clothing. Beloved, when we see Him in the air, we will receive our "ready to wear" clothing, for we will be made like Him (1 Jn 3:2-note) in the twinkling of an eye (1 Co 15:52) and clothed immediately and forever in glory. Beloved, this is why we need to remain in a state of spiritual/moral readiness now and every day until He returns! Let this grand truth motivate and inspire you to be ready. As Paul wrote to the saints at Rome

Do this, knowing the time, that it is already the hour for you to awaken from sleep; for now salvation is nearer to us than when we believed (He is referring to "future tense salvation" = glorification). 12 The night (of this evil age) is almost gone, and the day is near (The day of His glorious return - Mt 24:30-note, 1 Th 4:17-note). Therefore (LET THE TRUTH OF HIS IMMINENT RETURN MOTIVATE YOU TO) let us lay aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. 13 Let us behave properly as in the day, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual promiscuity and sensuality, not in strife and jealousy. 14 But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts. (Ro 13:11-14-note)

For (hoti) - term of explanation - Explains why the disciple is continually to be ready. 

The Son of Man is coming at an hour that you do not expect - Jesus made clear that His return could not be given a date (as some of the cults like the Jehovah's Witnesses have done!). His coming at an hour when we do not expect Him is all the more reason to remain in a continual state of readiness! 

NET Notedo not expect - Jesus made clear that his coming could not be timed, and suggested it would take some time. So long, in fact, that some will not be looking for him any longer (at an hour you do not expect).

Crawford - The reason for interpreting the parable as a general warning to be ready is seen in this verse, for the Lord applies the principle of being ready (prepared) to His own disciples. Indeed, the entire section has had this as its major theme. The rich man was well prepared for time but totally unprepared for eternity, so "Be ye therefore ready also" must be understood in this context. Applications to a believer's heart and life are certainly appropriate, but the main teaching is to be prepared for a day of judgment. Throughout the passage there is on the one hand those who are "cast into hell" (v. 5) and on the other, those who seek the kingdom of God (v. 31), wait for the coming of their Lord (v. 36), and will be blessed in their watching for Him (v. 37). (Ibid)

Matthew's parallel passages

Matthew 24:42 “Therefore be on the alert, for you do not know which day your Lord is coming.

Matthew 24:44 “For this reason you also must be ready; for the Son of Man is coming at an hour when you do not think He will. 

Matthew 25:13 “Be on the alert then, for you do not know the day nor the hour.

Luke's 27 uses of Son of Man

Lk. 5:24; Lk. 6:5; Lk. 6:22; Lk. 7:34; Lk. 9:22; Lk. 9:26; Lk. 9:44; Lk. 9:56; Lk. 9:58; Lk. 11:30; Lk. 12:8; Lk. 12:10; Lk. 12:40; Lk. 17:22; Lk. 17:24; Lk. 17:26; Lk. 17:30; Lk. 18:8; Lk. 18:31; Lk. 19:10; Lk. 21:27; Lk. 21:36; Lk. 22:22; Lk. 22:48; Lk. 22:69; Lk. 24:7; Acts 7:56;

I'm Ready—Luke 12:40

A friend of mine who has lived all her life in California goes to sleep every night with her shoes and a flashlight under the bed. When she was a child, her father required every family member to be ready to leave the house if an earthquake were to come during the night.

“During a tremor,” my friend says, “windows shatter and electricity is lost. With shoes I can walk on broken glass and with a light I can find my way in the dark. I never go to bed without them. I’m ready.”

When Jesus spoke to His followers about His return, He said, “Be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect” (Luke 12:40).

What does it mean for a Christian to be ready for Christ’s return? Jesus said that instead of worrying about material things, we are to trust God’s provision and make His kingdom our priority (vv.22-31). Instead of fear that grasps, we are to demonstrate faith that gives (vv.32-34). Like faithful servants, we should expect our Master at any time, because He will return at an unexpected hour (vv.35-40).

Jesus promised to return and told us how to live as we wait for His coming. Our lives, more than our lips, are to say, “I’m ready!”  — David C. McCasland

He surely is coming, I do not know when;
But this I am sure of, He's coming again;
So you'd better get ready, no time for delay,
For Jesus is coming, it may be today! —Smith

Be ready for the last moment by being ready every moment.

Prepared For The Real Thing—Luke 12:40

Through the years, quite a few people have predicted the return of Jesus at a specific time. Just last year an American radio preacher stirred up the interest of the mainstream media with his prediction that Jesus would return on May 21, 2011.

Anyone who knows Scripture well knew that this advance warning wasn’t accurate, because Jesus Himself said His return would be “at an hour you do not expect” (Luke 12:40). But I do have to admit that this prediction captured my attention. Often I get so caught up in the busyness of life that I live as though Jesus’ return is some distant reality. I forget that Jesus could come back at any time. The prediction, wrong as it was, reminded me about the importance of being prepared for my Savior’s return, and it renewed my excitement that it could be any day—even today.

Sometimes when we think of being ready for Jesus’ return, we think about what we shouldn’t be doing. But being prepared is really about purifying ourselves and becoming more and more like Him so we are pleasing to Him when He comes back for us (1 John 3:2-3). Jesus taught that being ready for His return requires living according to our Master’s will now (Luke 12:47). Will we be prepared when it’s time for the real thing? By Joe Stowell

Keep me praying, keep me trusting
Every step along life’s way!
Keep me waiting, keep me watching,
For He may return today! —Thiesen

Look for Christ’s return and you’ll live for Christ’s glory.

Luke 12:41  Peter said, "Lord, are You addressing this parable to us, or to everyone else as well?"

KJV Luke 12:41 Then Peter said unto him, Lord, speakest thou this parable unto us, or even to all?

NLT  Luke 12:41 Peter asked, "Lord, is that illustration just for us or for everyone?" (Luk 12:41 NLT)


Luke 12:41-48 The Parable of the Steward. Previously Jesus dealt primarily with WATCHING AND WAITING, but now He shifts to WORKING.

MacArthur on the theme of readiness - The Lord taught this same principle in Matthew 24:44-51 (cf. Mark 13:33-37 and the similar teaching in the parable of the talents [Matt. 25:14-30]), indicating that it was a recurring theme of His teaching. (MacArthur New Testament Commentary – Luke 11-17)

Peter said - Peter was always representative of the disciples and their spokesman. Every church leader needs to read this passage and apply it to himself.

Lord, are You addressing this parable to us - Is “this parable” (Lk 12:39–40) for the disciples only or for the crowds as well? Jesus does not answer directly but gives another parable describing first a faithful servant and then an unfaithful servant, including descriptions of their attitudes and/or actions and their dramatically different fates. 

MacArthur comments on the two servants observing that "The first is faithful and represents believers, who are ready for Christ’s return and will be blessed. The other is unfaithful, and represents unbelievers, who are not ready for His return and will be punished. Since all people fall into one of those two categories, Jesus’ parable encompasses everyone."

NET Note - [or for everyone] - Is the parable only for disciples (us) or for all humanity (everyone)? Or does Peter mean for disciples (us) or for the crowd (everyone)? The fact that unfaithful slaves are mentioned in Lk 12:46 looks to a warning that includes a broad audience, though it is quality of service that is addressed. This means the parable focuses on those who are associated with Jesus. (In other words, the warning of being watchful applies to all, even to [maybe especially] to His disciples).

Bock agrees that "The context determines the question’s scope. Does Peter mean “us” as leaders among Jesus’ followers and “all” as all disciples? Or does he mean “us” as disciples and “all” as all people? Or does “all” mean all who think they are related to the kingdom? Luke 12:46 provides a clue when one of the groups is called “the unfaithful.” Thus, anyone who has a connection to Jesus is included in the scope of the parable, even if the relationship consists of not being faithful to him."

Lord (2962) see earlier discussion of kurios

Parable (symbol) (3850) see earlier discussion of parabole

Gilbrant - In this parable, Jesus once again uses one of His favorite illustrations, that of the master who bequeaths authority to a steward. Other instances where Jesus used this illustration are Luke 16:1-8; 19:12-27, and Matthew 25:14-30. In each case Jesus is emphasizing two truths concerning the kingdom of God: that of preparedness for His return, and that of proper stewardship over what Christ has given us until His return. The immediate emphasis of the parable, as established by the context of Lk 12:36-39, is on the unexpectedness of Christ's return. When interpreting parables in particular, it is important to recognize that their meaning is generally related to a specific context or subject. To allegorize or spiritualize beyond the boundaries of context often adds meanings that were never intended.

Cole - In answering Peter’s question, Jesus lists four categories of servants, each of whom will receive a different reward or punishment. As in the parable of the soils, there is only one good category; the other three face punishment, beginning with the worst and moving toward the least severe. You can draw your own conclusions about whether the two categories who receive a whipping are believers who are disciplined or unbelievers who suffer in hell, but I wouldn’t want to risk being in either of those categories in hopes that they will be saved! I want to be solidly in the first camp!

Luke 12:42  And the Lord said, "Who then is the faithful and sensible steward, whom his master will put in charge of his servants, to give them their rations at the proper time?

KJV Luke 12:42 And the Lord said, Who then is that faithful and wise steward, whom his lord shall make ruler over his household, to give them their portion of meat in due season?

  • Who then is the faithful and sensible Luke 19:15-19; Mt 24:45,46; 25:20-23; 1 Cor 4:1,2; Titus 1:7
  • steward Luke 16:1-12; Mt 20:8; 1 Pet 4:10
  • whom his master will put in charge of his servants 1 Ti 3:15; 5:17; Heb 3:5; 13:7,17
  • give them their rations Jer 23:4; Ezek 34:3; Mt 13:52; Jn 21:15-17; Acts 20:28; 1 Pet 5:1-4
  • at the proper time Pr 15:23; Isa 50:4; 2 Ti 4:2
  • Luke 12 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries
  • Luke 12:35-48 Are You Ready for Christ’s Return? - Steven Cole
  • ​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Luke 12:41-48 Reward and Punishment at Christ's Return - John MacArthur

Matthew's parallel

Matthew 24:45 “Who then is the faithful and sensible slave whom his master put in charge of his household to give them their food at the proper time?

See Chart comparing Mt 24:45-51 and Luke 12:42-46


Who then is the faithful and sensible steward - As Jesus often did when asked a question, He responds with a question which leads into this parable. 

Hendriksen - Some are of the opinion that Jesus was thinking especially of his disciples, considered as office-bearers, and so, by extension, of all ministers and pastors of the churches to be organized during the entire new dispensation. They may well be right. But we cannot be certain about this. After all, the duty of faithfulness applies not only to pastors but also to elders, deacons, teachers, parents; in fact, to all believers. Doing the will of the Master and caring for those in need is certainly the task assigned to all. (Exposition of the Gospel According to Luke)

Gilbrant - These verses tell how the Son of Man (Lk 12:40) gave specific authority and power to those left behind to await His return. The two previous parables (Lk 12:35-38, 39, 40) indicate that faithful waiting is important. Now, in this particular parable, the nature of this waiting is identified. (Ibid)

Stein - The parable uses a picture of a manager placed in charge of his master’s household and has as its corresponding reality Christian leaders placed over the church by the Lord. [cf 1 Cor 4:1–2; Titus 1:7; 1 Pet 4:10] By introducing the parable as he did (Lk 12:41) and by using the term “manager” (Ed: NAS = steward) instead of “servant,” Luke underlined the application of this parable to leaders of the Christian community even more clearly than Matthew. (Mt 24:45 - "faithful and sensible slave") (Ibid)

Faithful (trustworthy)(4103) (pistos from peitho = to persuade - induce one by words to believe, have confidence) is something or someone who is worthy of faith or keeps promises and is applied to God, humans, His Word, etc Pistos means dependable (worthy of reliance or trust), trustworthy, steadfast, unswerving.  Webster says that "Faithful" means firm in adherence to whatever one owes allegiance and implies unswerving adherence to a person or thing or to the oath or promise by which a tie was contracted.

Sensible (prudent, wise, shrewd) (5429)(phronimos from phronéo = think, have a mindset from phren = diaphragm, seat of mental and spiritual activity, then the understanding) is an adjective which describes one who is thoughtful, sagacious or discreet. It describes the quality of one's thinking which is the result of insight and stands in opposition to moros which means foolish. The idea is that there is understanding combined with wisdom and insight. Phronimos implies a cautious, sensible, prudent character. Luke's only other use of this adjective is Lk 16:8.

Paul reminds us God is not as concerned about our fruitfulness per se as much He is about our faithfulness (but of course faithfulness is the fertile ground for productive fruitfulness!)...

In this case, moreover, it is required of stewards that one be found trustworthy (faithful). (1 Cor. 4:2)

Comment: This begs the question - We are all stewards because all believers are in one sense "stewards of the mysteries of God" (1 Cor 4:1). To be sure 1 Cor 4:1 applies especially to church leaders but as stewards, all believers manage the message and ministry God has entrusted to them by God (because every believer has at least one spiritual gift). So the simple question is "Am I a trustworthy steward? Am I using His spiritual gift to me for His glory or am I squandering it?" 

Notice that while he is designated a steward in this verse, Jesus also refers to him as a slave (Lk 12:43) or doulos, one who is subjected entirely to the Lord's will, totally possessed by the Lord and completely dependent on the Lord for his very life. 

Steward (3623) (oikonomos from oíkos = house + némo = manage, distribute, dispense) (see study of related word oikonomia) is literally the manager or superintendent of a household or estate. Vincent adds that in the Greek culture the steward was the one who "assigns to the members of the household their several duties, and pays to each his wages. The paymaster. He kept the household stores under lock and seal, giving out what was required; and for this purpose received a signet-ring from his master." Wealthy homeowners appointed gifted and educated slaves as chief executive officers over their affairs.

Spurgeon - Wonderful words! We cannot at present tell all that they mean; but, by God’s grace, may they be fulfilled to us when our Lord comes to take us to himself!  Distributing the bread of life, giving milk to babes and meat to strong men; not behaving as if he were master, but acting only as a steward who serves out, not his own, but his master’s stores. Oh, that we who are ministers of Christ may be always doing this! So shall we obtain the blessing promised to “that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing.”

Put in charge (2525) (kathistemi from katá = down + hístēmi = to set or stand) means literally “to stand or set down". Here it means to appoint, put in charge, designate.  

Matthew has a parallel passage:

Who then is the faithful and sensible slave whom his master put in charge of his household to give them their food at the proper time? (Mt 24:45).

Servants (2322)(therapeia from therapeuo = to heal, serve) means voluntary service, attendance, ministry as in the care of the sick to whom they bring relief or healing (Luke 9:11; Rev. 22:2). Speaks of the one giving help. In Lk 12:42 it describes the group of servants working in a particular household. 

Friberg -  (1) as medical care healing, treatment (Lk 9.11); figuratively, as prosperity for the nations healing, cure (Rev 22.2); (2) plural, by metonymy, of those who render service, as synonymous with a household, household attendants, servants (Lk 12.42)

NET Note on servants - This term therapeia describes the group of servants working in a particular household 

Therapeia - 3x in 3v healing(2), servants(1).  Lk. 9:11; Lk. 12:42; Rev. 22:2. (Note four uses if one counts Mt. 24:45 which has therapeia in the Greek Textus Receptus - the KJV).

Therapeia - 6x in 6v in the Septuagint - Ge 45:16; Est. 2:12; Est. 5:1; Est. 5:2; Joel 1:14; Joel 2:15

Giving them rations - The spiritual application is God's steward of His mysteries is FAITHFULLY giving them "solid food" (Heb 5:14) and "pure milk" (1 Pe 2:2). Compare John 21:15; John 21:16-17 1 Cor. 4:2 1 Tim. 4:16). And as aside EVERY BELIEVER shares in this accountability when the Master returns whether you are a pastor, teacher or otherwise, for Peter exhorts us..

As EACH ONE has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. (1 Peter 4:10-note)

Proper time (2540) (kairos) means a point of time or period of time, time, period, frequently with the implication of being especially fit for something and without emphasis on precise chronology.

Crawford - This bond servant is appointed over the household, not to lord it over the other servants (1 Pet 5:2-4) but to provide for the needs of each one "in due season". This latter phrase normally is used to convey the thought of God's full provision for man's need (Rom 5:6; 1 Tim 2:6; Titus 1:3). Into the bond servant's hands has been entrusted the goods of his Lord to be dispensed according to his Lord's will. God has committed to men the care and feeding of His people in every age. The overseers, shepherds and teachers of assemblies have a God-given responsibility "to feed the church of God" (Acts 20:28). It is tragic when God's people are not fed. There will be a day of accounting, and we will be found out regarding the reasons for our failure.

Note the parallel between this parable and Paul's teaching in 1 Corinthians 4 (from Hendriksen)


AUTHORITY Luke 12:43  His master 1 Cor 4:4 he that examines me is the Lord
RELIABILITY Luke 12:42 faithful and wise 1 Cor 4:2 that one be found trustworthy.
RESPONSIBILITY Luke 12:42 give them their rations 1 Cor 4:1 stewards of the mysteries of God
ACCOUNTABILITY Luke 12:46 will come on a day when he does not expect 1 Cor 4:2 
be found

Luke 12:43  "Blessed is that slave whom his master finds so doing when he comes.

 KJV Luke 12:43 Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing.


Parallel in Matthew

Matthew 24:46 “Blessed is that slave whom his master finds so doing (present tense active voice participle = he was "doing" the Master's work as his lifestyle or habitual practice) when he comes.

Steven Cole -  Some will be rewarded because they knew about the Master’s coming and lived as faithful and sensible stewards (Lk 12:42-44). The reason this parable especially applies to those in church leadership is that Jesus refers to the servants who have been put in charge of other servants to give them their rations at the proper time. The job of pastors is to feed the Lord’s flock (Ezek. 34:2). In Ezekiel 34, the Lord upbraids the shepherds of Israel because they dominated His flock and used them for their own purposes, just as those in the second category here were doing. But the faithful and sensible steward who will receive a reward regards the needs of the servants in his charge and remembers that he will give an account to his master. Three times (Lk 12:37, 38, 43) Jesus calls these faithful servants “blessed”. He makes the startling statement that He, the Master, will wait on such servants (Lk 12:37)! He literally did that when He washed the disciples’ feet (John 13:1-11). Here, Jesus is probably referring metaphorically to the honor that He will bestow on those who have faithfully served Him when He comes. He also states that He will put them in charge of all His possessions (Lk 12:44). This also is probably a metaphor of the rewards of heaven. We will not spend eternity sitting on a cloud. The Lord will give us meaningful responsibilities throughout eternity if we have faithfully served Him here on earth. While we cannot fathom the blessings that God has in store for His faithful servants, if Jesus three times calls them blessed, you know that they will truly be blessed!

Blessed (third blessing in this section, cf Lk 12:37, 38-note)(3107) see above for makarios.

Why does he receive a blessing? This is the reward for faithfully serving the Lord, accomplishing the good works, which God prepared for them. Regarding the work to be accomplished Paul explains "we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them." (Eph 2:10-note). If you are a church leader and are faithfully carrying out His task in the power of the Holy Spirit and for the glory of the Lord (not "your" glory), you shall be blessed at the return of the Master. The nature of the blessing is explained in Luke 12:44.

Slaves (Bondservants) (1401) see above for doulos

Master (2962)(kurios) is the one with sovereign authority, full ownership and control. 

Wiersbe makes a statement which is generally true - Once a believer starts to think his Master is not coming back, his life begins to deteriorate. Our relationship with others depends on our relationship to the Lord; so if we stop looking for Him, we will stop loving His people. The motive for Christian life and service must be a desire to please the Lord and be found faithful at His return.

Finds so doing (poieo) - Doing is present tense active voice participle = he was "doing" the Master's work as his lifestyle or habitual practice. That is doing the job God has assigned to him to accomplish. Many a humble steward who has labored without much worldly recognition  (cf 1 Cor 4:3) in that great future "accounting day" (bema) will be richly rewarded by the Lord Jesus Christ (2 Cor 5:10-note). What is it that we are to be DOING? As alluded to above Ephesians 2:10 explains we are to be DOING (walking in) the "good works, which God prepared beforehand" in Christ Jesus (cf fruit borne by abiding in the Vine - Jn 15:5. See also 1 Cor 6:20 1 Cor 15:58 Eph 6:7 Heb 13:17 1 Ti 6:20 2 Ti 1:14 1 Peter 5:2-3)

When he comes (returns) - Not "if" he comes, but "when." The date of the "when" is not known, but it is a certainty, not a possibility.

ILLUSTRATION  - When General Sherman went through Atlanta toward the sea in the Civil War, he left in the fort, back in the Kennesaw Mountains, around 1500 men to guard some 11/2 million rations that he brought there. General Hood, however, attacked the fort with 6000 troops. For a long time the battle raged furiously. Half of the defenders were either killed or seriously wounded. The general in command was wounded seven times. When they were about to run up the white flag of surrender, Sherman was within 15 miles of the besieged camp. Through the signal corps on a nearby mountain, he sent this message: "Hold the fort, for I am coming. W.T. Sherman." The message fired up the defenders of the fort and they held out for three more bloody hours until their reinforcements arrived, keeping their fort out of the hands of the enemy. This story was the basis for the famous hymn "Hold the Fort for I am Coming." Jesus gives the same message to us. We are to "hold fast till He comes." We are to be faithful until the Lord returns. If Christ returns in your lifetime, will He find you faithful in serving Him? Will you be making your life count for the Lord Jesus Christ? Realize beloved, that faithfulness is a big deal to the Lord. God does not ask how many talents one has. He asks for faithfulness. The world crowns success. God crowns faithfulness. (Mattoon)

Horatius Bonar was born in 1808 in Exise, Scotland. After graduating from Edinburgh, he became the minister at Kelso in 1837 at the Chalmers Memorial Church. In addition to being a minister, he was a popular author and hymn writer. The hymn "What a Friend we Have in Jesus" was written by Bonar. Reflecting on being faithful, Bonar understood that the small things can either make or break the Christian. He wrote, "A holy life is made up of a multitude of small things. It is the little things of the hour and not the great things of the age that fill up a life. Little words, not eloquent speeches or sermons; little deeds, not miracles or battles, or one great heroic effort or martyrdom, make up the true Christian life. It's the little constant sunbeam, not the lightning, that are the true symbols of a holy312 life." Make it your goal, make it your aim to live every moment of every day for Jesus Christ. (Mattoon)

Luke 12:44  "Truly I say to you that he will put him in charge of all his possessions.

KJV Luke 12:44 Of a truth I say unto you, that he will make him ruler over all that he hath.
that he will

NLT  Luke 12:44 I tell you the truth, the master will put that servant in charge of all he owns.

Matthew 24:47 has

“Truly I say to you that he will put him in charge of all his possessions.


Truly I say to you that he will put him in charge of all his possessions - Faithfulness will be liberally rewarded along the lines of "far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us." (Eph 3:20-note)

We see a similar statement in Paul's last known letter, which like Jesus' words, promises "good news" to the faithful and "bad news" to the unfaithful...

If we endure, we will also reign with Him; If we deny Him, He also will deny us; (2 Tim. 2:12-note)

TrulyAmen (281amen [OT = Amen (0543amen] It's as if Jesus has to "Amen" this (so be it!), because it is such an incredible promise that our ears can hardly believe that is what He said!

Later in Luke Jesus declares to His disciples after sharing the Last Supper..

“You are those who have stood by Me in My trials; And just as My Father has granted Me a kingdom, I grant you that you may eat and drink at My table in My kingdom, and you will sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel. (Lk 22:28-30)

Spurgeon -  What rewards Christ has in store for his people. If we will but be his servants now, and the servants of our brethren, he will make us rulers over all that he has. I cannot attempt to explain all that these words mean, but I bless the Lord that they are absolutely true. Just as Pharaoh made Joseph ruler over all Egypt, so, when men have done well in the ministry of Christ, he will promote them, and they shall do still more for him.

Put in charge (2525) (kathistemi from katá = down + hístēmi = to set or stand) means literally “to stand or set down". Here it means to appoint, put in charge, designate.  

As an aside, it was rich mercy that God would deliver us from hell, and here unspeakably amazing grace that He would reward us in heaven! How great a salvation we have been given (Heb 2:3). 

Faithfulness and obedience will result in greater blessing (all his possessions - not "some of his possessions" but "all"!). Compare Matthew 25:23 Matthew 25:34 Luke 6:35 Luke 19:17 Luke 22:28-29 Romans 5:17 1 Cor. 6:2 2 Tim. 2:12 Rev. 1:5-6 Rev. 3:21 Rev. 20:4 Rev. 22:5).

MacDonald writes "The reward probably has to do with governmental rule with Christ during the Millennium (1 Pet. 5:1-4)." I tend to agree with MacDonald for the apostle John writes in Revelation 5:10 "You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to our God; and they will reign upon the earth.” (See Tony Garland's comments on our reigning on earth)

Hendriksen - When the figure is interpreted, this means that the proper spirit in which believers should await as Savior the Lord Jesus Christ (Phil. 3:20) is not the feverish nervousness of certain Thessalonians (2 Thess. 2:1, 2; 3:6–12), nor the nauseating lukewarmness of the Laodiceans (Rev. 3:14–22), but the active faithfulness of the Smyrniots (Rev. 2:8–11). Just as in the parable the master, upon his return, rewards his faithful servant by setting him over all his possessions, so also Jesus himself at his glorious coming will bestow on all his faithful ones a high degree of glory and honor. See Luke 19:17, 19. Does not Christ’s promise also imply the assignment of certain specific tasks in the life hereafter, each task a matter of pure delight and satisfaction, and each in harmony with the individuality of the person for whom it is marked out? (Ibid)

Possessions (5225) See preceding discussion on huparcho

Stein - Compare Lk 19:17. Luke used this metaphor to describe the coming reward of those who by faithfully serving the Lord are prepared for his coming. Compare “rich toward God” (Lk 12:21); “treasure in heaven” (Lk 12:33; 18:22); “receive many times as much” (Lk 18:30); “take charge of ten [five] cities” (Lk 19:17, 19). Christian “managers” have the potential for great reward or great punishment (Lk 12:46). Compare Jas 3:1. (New American Commentary – Volume 24: Luke)

Crawford - Faithfulness in stewards is a major theme of the pastoral letters. Paul writes to Timothy about his own stewardship (1 Tim 1:11) and charges Timothy to be faithful to the stewardship that has been entrusted to him (1 Tim 1:18). As a steward Timothy is exhorted to be faithful with himself (1 Tim 6:14), with the household (1 Tim 4:6), with the truth (1 Tim 6:20) and to His Lord (1 Tim 6:14). "It is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful" (1 Cor 4:2), and this is in view of the day when we will be found (out). Many a lowly steward who laboured for God without much recognition from man (1 Cor 4:3) in the day of accounting will be given high honour by his Lord. (What the Bible teaches – Luke)

Mattoon - Why is the Rapture important to Us?

1. It challenges us to be PURE - Be saved and cleansed by the blood of Christ. Live a godly life.

1 John 1:7—but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.
2 Peter 3:14—Therefore, beloved, since you look for these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, spotless and blameless,

2. It challenges us to be PREPARED

Revelation 3:11—I am coming quickly; hold fast what you have, so that no one will take your crown.
1 John 2:28—Now, little children, abide in Him, so that when He appears, we may have confidence and not shrink away from Him in shame at His coming.
Luke 12:40—“You too, be ready; for the Son of Man is coming at an hour that you do not expect.” 

3. It challenges us to be PERCEPTIVE - Knowledge of the future should prepare us for today and help us to be aware of what is taking place in the world. World events, in light of the Scriptures, will help us to discern the nearness of His coming.

Titus 2:13—looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus,
1 Thessalonians 5:4-6—But you, brethren, are not in darkness, that the day would overtake you like a thief; 5for you are all sons of light and sons of day. We are not of night nor of darkness; 6so then let us not sleep as others do, but let us be alert and sober.

4. It challenges us to PASS ON the Gospel and PREACH the Word - The George Gallup Poll records that 62% of Americans believe in the Lord's return. The greatest outpouring of missionary and evangelistic efforts since the 1800's have come from denominations that strongly believed in the Rapture. The imminent return of Christ creates a sense of urgency.

2 Timothy 4:1, 2—I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction.

5. It challenges us to PARTICIPATE in church and be faithful - You can have a great church when the people are faithful in fulfilling their responsibilities and giving. When people are late, undependable, or uninvolved in the ministry, it hinders the effectiveness of the church in reaching people for Christ and it puts stress on the workers in the church that have to pick up the slack and carry the load.

Hebrews 10:25—not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.

6. It challenges us to be PATIENT

James 5:8—You too be patient; strengthen your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is near.

7. It challenges us to PASTOR our church faithfully

1 Peter 5:2, 4—shepherd the flock of God among you, exercising oversight not under compulsion, but voluntarily, according to the will of God; and not for sordid gain, but with eagerness; (5:4) And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory.

8. It challenges us to have PROPER PRIORITIES

Colossians 3:1-2—Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth.

9. It challenges us to have PASSION and love for PEOPLE

1 Thessalonians 3:12, 13—and may the Lord cause you to increase and abound in love for one another, and for all people, just as we also do for you; (3:13) so that He may establish your hearts without blame in holiness before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all His saints.

The heartwarming story is told of an older African American lady who found herself stranded with car trouble during a horrible rainstorm. This was during the height of racial tension many years ago in America. She desperately needed help and a ride. On this lonely Alabama highway, the unthinkable happened. A young white man stopped to render aid. He took her to the nearest store, arranged for help, and hailed a taxi cab for her. She wrote down his address and was on her way. About a week passed when a knock came to the door of this young man. In walked a delivery man with a huge television and a note attached which read, "Thank you so much for assisting me on the highway the other night. The rain drenched not only my clothes, but also my spirits. Then you came along. Because of you, I was able to make it to my husband's bedside during his final days. God bless you for helping me and unselfishly serving others." The note was signed, "Sincerely, Mrs. Nat King Cole." You never know the blessings that will come from your service and love for others.

Beloved, when Jesus returns at the Rapture, we will be given a new, glorified body and we shall be like Him at last. He will change our vile body, our body of humiliation.

1 John 3:2—Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is.

Are you looking forward to His return? During his 1960 presidential campaign, John F. Kennedy often closed his speeches with the story of Colonel Davenport, the Speaker of the Connecticut House of Representatives. One day in 1789, the sky of Hartford darkened ominously, and some of the representatives, glancing out the windows, feared the end was at hand. Quelling a clamor for immediate adjournment, Davenport rose and said, "The Day of Judgment is either approaching or it is not. If it is not, there is no cause for adjournment. If it is, I choose to be found doing my duty. Therefore, I wish that candles be brought." Rather than fearing what is to come, we are to be faithful until Christ returns. Instead of fearing the dark, we're to be lights as we watch and wait.

Luke 12:45  "But if that slave says in his heart, 'My master will be a long time in coming,' and begins to beat the slaves, both men and women, and to eat and drink and get drunk;

KJV Luke 12:45 But and if that servant say in his heart, My lord delayeth his coming; and shall begin to beat the menservants and maidens, and to eat and drink, and to be drunken;


But term of contrast. What is Jesus contrasting? Whereas one steward/slave is faithful and wise, this steward/slave is unfaithful and unwise (foolish)! The picture is of one who is faithful and doing the Lord's work when He returns versus one that sloughs off his obligations. Some writers see both the faithful and unfaithful as believing stewards/slaves (one rewarded, the other losing his rewards - e.g., Warren Wiersbe) but others see these two contrasting pictures as believing stewards/slaves versus unbelieving slaves/servants (e.g.,see ESV note with which I agree).

If that slave says in his heart - The "if" here marks this as a third class condition (see conditional statements) that for all practical purposes is a hypothetical condition. He steadfastly ignores Jesus' exhortation in Lk 12:40.

In his heart - The heart of the issue of faithfulness versus unfaithfulness is always an issue of our heart! Have you had a heart check-up recently? Do you have a progressive "hardening" of your (spiritual) arteries?

Hendriksen adds on in his heart signifies " to himself. Now what a man says to himself is often even more important than what he says openly. See Pr 23:7; Mt. 9:3, 21; Lk 12:17; 15:17–19. But within the secret precincts of his own being this particular man is conversing wickedly, irresponsibly."

Heart (2588)(kardia) is the center of his being, the "control center" so to speak. 

NET Note on that - The term "that" (ekeinos) is used as a catchword to list out, in the form of a number of hypothetical circumstances, what the possible responses of "that" servant could be. He could be faithful (Lk 12:43–44) or totally unfaithful (Lk 12:45–46). He does not complete his master's will with knowledge (Lk 12:47) or from ignorance (Lk 12:48). These differences are indicated by the different levels of punishment in Lk 12:46–48.

John Phillips - It is easy to see how people can get put off regarding the Second Coming of Christ. Some people, for instance, set dates for the Lord's return and trumpet their "discoveries." It has happened often. The Jehovah's Witnesses and the Seventh-Day Adventists both did that. When I was young, a man named G. F. Vallance caused a considerable stir that came to nothing. Several years ago, Edgar C. Wisenant attracted media attention with his book 88 Reasons Why the Rapture Will Be in 1988. All such efforts are in vain, and they invariably produce their casualties. Then some people embrace the idea that the church is spiritual Israel. That creates all kinds of eschatological problems. Much of the Old Testament has to be allegorized. The literal interpretation of Old Testament prophecies has to be debunked along with clear teaching on the Millennium. The modern rebirth of the nation of Israel has to be somehow explained away. Along with all this, some people have always picked up bits and pieces of prophetic truth and used them to support some error or other. No wonder many people wash their hands of Bible prophecy altogether and end up becoming skeptics. Some of them use the long-seeming delay of the present age as their excuse for discounting precious truth. The Lord Himself said that His coming would be delayed (Lk 18:7; 20:9). Had Israel accepted Him as Messiah, all of the Old Testament prophecies would have been fulfilled then and there. The stubborn rejection of Christ by the Jewish people brought on the church age, a long parenthesis in God's dealings with Israel and the nations. (Exploring the Gospel of Luke: An Expository Commentary)

Related Resources:


My master will be a long time in coming - This man had no sense of urgency, thinking it "is taking a long time." This implies the coming is delayed and so the unfaithful steward reasoned "I have plenty of time." (WRONG!) It is interesting to note in this parable that this steward was not expressing doubt that the Lord would return (interesting). Passages on the deadly deception of procrastination - Luke 12:19. Acts 24:25 James 4:13-14 Proverbs 27:1 Isaiah 56:12. 

MacArthur adds "He lived under the illusion that he had plenty of time to enjoy his sin before his master returned." And by the way sin IS enjoyable, but ONLY FOR A MOMENT. Hebrews 11:25 says Moses chose "rather to endure ill-treatment with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin,." Sin is a great deceiver (Heb 3:13-see discussion of deception).

Sin will take you farther than you ever thought you'd stay
Keep you longer than you ever meant to stay
And cost you more than you ever thought you'd have to pay!

MacArthur goes on to add - Many people live their lives under the same illusion, assuming they can do as they please and turn to God just before the end (Death bed conversions; see also Deathbed Conversion). Such reasoning is both foolish and dangerous, since no one knows when he or she will die, or when the Lord will return. Nor does that faulty reasoning take into account the deadly danger of apostasy (cf. Heb. 6:4-8). It fails to realize that God may harden the hearts of those who persist in hardening theirs so that they reach a point where they cannot repent and believe (John 12:37-40; Rom. 1:24, 26, 28; Heb. 10:26-27).

See Related Illustration on How Far is Hell?

Here is a principle - If we are looking for Jesus, we will be living for Jesus (not perfectly but in that general direction)! If one is not looking for Jesus, than there is a high likelihood that he will not be living for Jesus. The certainty of the Blessed Hope of His return is meant to have a sanctifying influence on our soul - 

Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is. 3 And everyone who has this hope (WHAT HOPE?) fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.  (1 John 3:2-3-note)

Stein - There is no displacement of the parousia into the far distant future (see the phrase "My master will be a long time in coming"), nor is there a “demythologizing” of the event into something else. On the contrary the warning involves being prepared “because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him” (Lk 12:40). (Ibid)

Matthew Henry - Christ's patience is very often misinterpreted His delay, to the discouragement of His people, and the encouragement of His enemies.

Begins to beat the slaves, both men and women - He does his will, not his master's will, mistreating and abusing the other slaves. (One thinks the horror story of the false teacher Jim Jones who killed the "slaves"!)  The slave's action in beginning to beat the other slaves was not only a failure to carry out what was commanded but involved doing the exact opposite.

Spurgeon - First, he becomes lordly, he acts as if he were master, beats his fellowservants, he is harsh and ungenerous, and assumes great dignity and gives himself airs. Let him mind what he is at, for his Master will come, and catch him usurping his place. The next danger is that he begins to enjoy himself, to be voluptuous, self-indulgent: “To eat and drink, and to be drunken.” He becomes intoxicated with pride, he is carried away with divers errors; in making much of himself he loses his head, and acts like a fool.

MacDonald - The servant professes to be working for Christ, but actually he is an unbeliever. Instead of feeding the people of God, he abuses them, robs them, and lives in self-indulgence. (This may be a reference to the Pharisees.) (Believer's Bible Commentary)

To eat and drink and get drunk - In a word, he indulged the evil, insatiable desires of his fallen flesh.  This foolish behavior recalls the foolish rich man's "life verse" of "take your ease, eat, drink and be merry.”’ (Lk 12:19; cf. Lk 21:34; 1 Cor 15:32, Isa 22:13) 

Get drunk (present tense = not just an occasional "slip up," but one's lifestyle or habitual practice)(3182)(methusko from methuo = drink to intoxication) means to have one's faculties impaired (as by alcohol) or become intoxicated. It is notable that both wine and the Spirit do their work deep in the human psyche. They effect people below the level of consciousness, down at the foundations of personality. 

Matthew 24:45–51 Compared with Luke 12:42–46
MATTHEW 24:45-51 LUKE 12:42-46
servant manager
has put in charge will put in charge
household employees servants

food allowance or food ration

wicked omitted in Luke
is taking his time

is taking his time in coming

his fellow servants

the men and women servants

shall eat and drink with drunkards

to eat and drink and get drunk

with hypocrites with the unfaithful

Luke 12:46  the master of that slave will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he does not know, and will cut him in pieces, and assign him a place with the unbelievers.

KJV Luke 12:46 The lord of that servant will come in a day when he looketh not for him, and at an hour when he is not aware, and will cut him in sunder, and will appoint him his portion with the unbelievers.


The master (kurios) of that slave (doulos) will come on a day when he does not expect him - This illustrates the fallacy of waiting until the last minute to repent and believe in Jesus. You do not know when He is coming. And more importantly you do not (always) know the moment you will take your last breath. Note that Jesus in this passage is not referring to believers who lose their salvation, because our eternal destiny is not based on our good works but on our faith and on God's faithfulness to His covenant, which He will not break. (Heb 6:16-18-note)

Not expect - The negative is not "me" (relative negation) but "ou" which signifies absolute negation! The slave will be absolutely surprised and shocked!

Expect (4328)(prosdokao from prós = towards - adds the idea of “mental direction” to the already existing meaning of the verb + dokáo = look for denoting direction of one's mind toward something) means literally to look forward toward, to wait for, to look for, to anticipate. This is an event the slave is NOT "looking forward to" (not expecting)!

A hour - The reiteration of these time phrases adds emphasis to this warning as one that will be fulfilled with the time is ripe and right! 

And at an hour he does not know - Of course no man knows when the master will return, but in contrast to those who don't know but remain every ready, these are never ready! The termination of their day of lascivious revelry will come suddenly when they least expect it, much like it came upon Belshazzar in the midst of drunken debauchery in Daniel 5:5-6, 24-28, 30-note

Will cut him in pieces - Was done literally by ancient barbarian pagans. Probably is a hyperbole which speaks of the horror of the punishment that await these wicked stewards. It will be as bad as being literally dismembered!

Spurgeon - This is a truly terrible expression. We are sometimes charged with using too strong expressions with regard to the wrath to come. It is quite impossible that we should do so, even if we tried, for the expressions of the Lord Jesus are more profoundly terrible than any which even mediaeval writers have ever been known to invent. 

NET Note on cut in pieces - The verb dichotomeo means to cut an object into two parts. This is an extremely severe punishment compared to the other two later punishments. To translate it simply as "punish" is too mild. If taken literally this servant is dismembered, although it is possible to view the stated punishment as hyperbole.

Cut in pieces (1371)(dichotomeo from dícha = separately, and temno = to cut and tomé = a cuttting) means to cut in two, as was done in ancient punishment, speaking of of the dismemberment of a condemned person. 

Matthew 24:51 and will cut him in pieces and assign him a place with the hypocrites; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

Comment: The place of weeping and gnashing (cf Mt. 8:12;. 13:42; 13:50; 22:13; 24:51; 25:30; Lk. 13:28) is a clear description of just some of the horrors of hell which await the individuals so judged. The fact that Matthew's passage almost perfectly parallels Luke 12:46 strongly supports the interpretation that a place in v46 is hell (gehenna). 

W E Vine - Some take the reference to be to the mode of punishment by which criminals and captives were "cut" in two; others, on account of the fact that in these passages the delinquent is still surviving after the treatment, take the verb to denote "to cut up" by scourging, to scourge severely, the word being used figuratively. As to Matt. 24:51, it has been remarked that the "cutting asunder" was an appropriate punishment for one who had lived a double life. In both passages the latter part of the sentence applies to retribution beyond this life.

Zodhiates has a detailed explanation on dichotomeō - To cut in two or asunder. If this word is understood in its primary and literal sense, it must denote that most horrible punishment of being cut in two while alive. There is a tradition that the prophet Isaiah thus died, and the Apostle is thought to allude to this in Heb 11:37, "they were sawn asunder"; see 1 Sa 15:33; 2 Sa 12:31; Da 2:5; 3:29. This was a manner of execution of criminals practiced at that time. In the NT used figuratively meaning to scourge with the utmost severity, to cut asunder as it were by scourging (Mt. 24:51; Lk 12:46). Scourging was usually inflicted upon idle and negligent servants among the Jews. In Matthew, the servant must endure great punishment, and in Lk 12:47 the explanation is given that the unfaithful servant should be beaten with many stripes. These parables refer to the Master's rewards and punishments for faithful or unfaithful service by those who claim to be His servants. The Lord's words should induce us to awesome thoughtfulness as to what we do with our lives on earth. The evidence that one is a true servant of Jesus Christ is found in how he responds to the duties which his Lord imposes upon him. Accordingly, how we live our lives in this life becomes the basis of reward and punishment in the next. God's true servants will be rewarded for their faithfulness and good works while hypocrites will be punished for their evil works and unfaithfulness.  (The Complete Word Study Dictionary – New Testament)

Gilbrant - In classical Greek dichotomeō is used in reference to the ancient method of punishment by “cutting into pieces” or the “dismemberment” of a convicted and condemned person. In the Septuagint it appears in Exodus 29:17 (ONLY USE IN Lxx), “Cut the ram in pieces.” Here dichotomeō translates the Hebrew word nāthach which simply means “cut up, cut in pieces,” although nāthach is usually translated into Greek as melizein. (See also Leviticus 1:8; Ezekiel 24:4.) In the New Testament dichotomeō occurs only in Matthew 24:51, “He will cut him to pieces” (NIV), and the parallel passage of Luke 12:46. Here it seems to mean “cut in two for the purpose of punishment.”

Crawford - Those who want to make this the punishment of a genuine believer who has been unfaithful apply the word figuratively to the cutting with a scourge. "There is no example of the word being used of scourging" (A. Plummer). Even if we could use a figurative meaning here, the problem would remain about the meaning of the words, "appoint him his portion with the unbelievers", which refers to punishment after death. To be cut in sunder is a violent death (1 Chron 20:3), and to be with the unbelievers forever is the correct portion for this false servant. (Ibid)

Matthew Henry - Death and judgment will be very terrible to all wicked people, but especially to wicked ministers. It will be a surprise to them: At an hour when they are not aware. It will be the determining of them to endless misery; they shall be cut in sunder, and have their portion assigned them with the unbelievers.

Stein - Here it is uncertain whether this serves simply as a picture of severe punishment or whether it also includes the idea of being cut off from God’s people (cf 2 Th 1:8-9). The next statement appears to lend support to the latter idea.

Spurgeon - The worst portion that any man can get is with the unbelievers. Are there not some here who may, in this verse, see what a dark doom theirs will be if they are among those who are described as being out in sunder, and having their portion with the unbelievers? Truly, our Lord uses very strong words; the Saviour is not one of your effeminate preachers like those of modern times, who seem as if the very word “hell” would burn their lips, and who will not warn men to flee from the wrath to come. It is an unkind and heartless want of humanity which prevents their being faithful to the souls of men. The great Lord, who is full of tenderness, does not hesitate to use the sternest figure, and the most terrible language, simply because he does not consult his own feelings but aims at the highest good of those with whom he deals. This is a terrible word for us if we are unfaithful at the last: “He will cut him in sunder, and will appoint him his portion with the unbelievers.” It is an awful thing that the unfaithful servant gets his portion with those who do not believe in Christ. The Lord preserve all of us from such a doom!

Assign him a place with the unbelievers - What is the place for unbelievers? Clearly it is separation eternally from God's presence. So if one interprets this passage as referring to a loss of rewards for a believer, they are clearly neglecting this context. 

The place and plight of an unbeliever is described by Jesus in Luke 13

“In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, but yourselves being thrown out. (Luke 13:28-note)

See the tragic List of What Awaits those who go to hell.

ESV Study Bible place with the unbelievers —a metaphorical reference to the punishment that awaits the unbeliever at the return of Christ. The latter description (cf. Luke 13:27-28 and esp. the parallel in Matt. 24:51) indicates eternal judgment and separation from God (cf. Luke 8:13).

Spurgeon - Again let me say that I cannot attempt to explain all that these words mean; but, oh! what will be the horror, the terror, of the punishment which will fall upon the unfaithful steward, the minister who is untrue to his holy calling, the professor who says that he is a child of God, and a steward of Christ, and yet is unfaithful to his trust? I will read our Lord’s words again. You know how we are sometimes accused of saying things too dreadful about the wrath of God in the world to come; but, beloved, we never say anything dreadful enough. If you will carefully examine the Word of God, you will find there expressions such as even Dante or the mediaeval preachers, with all the horrors they depicted, never; surpassed. We cannot exaggerate the awful depth of meaning which we find in the words of the loving Christ himself; let me read this verse again: “The lord of that servant will come in a day when he looketh not for him, and at an hour when he is not aware, and will cut him in sunder, and will appoint him his portion with the unbelievers.”

Steven Cole - Others will be punished very severely because they ignored the Master’s coming and abused their stewardship (Lk 12:45-46). This is the worst category of punishment. These slaves wrongly thought that they had plenty of time before their Master returned and so they began to live for themselves by abusing those under their charge. They used their stewardship for their own pleasure and advantage, without regard for the Master’s purposes. But it is a fatal mistake. The Master will return and cut them in pieces (the word means “to dismember”). But, that isn’t the end of these unfaithful servants, because then they are assigned a place with the unbelievers, namely, hell (Lk 12:5). I believe that these frightening words especially apply to unfaithful spiritual leaders who have used their office for their own advantage. They usually teach false doctrine because they want to dodge their sin, which is exposed by God’s Word. They use religion to promote their own greed and immorality. Jesus pronounces this most severe judgment on them because they have taken that which should have benefited people eternally and used it to destroy them. Their final punishment shows that they never truly repented of their own sins and submitted their lives to the Master. But before you all say, “Whew, this doesn’t apply to me,” you need to realize that there is a secondary application to us all. If we know about the things of God, but we don’t repent of our selfishness and abusiveness toward others, especially in our homes, are we not just like these unfaithful stewards? This especially applies to every husband and father who professes to be a Christian. If we do not repent of mistreating our wives and children, whom God has entrusted to our care, woe to us when the Master returns! (Are You Ready for Christ’s Return?)

Hendriksen - Anyone who has made a thorough study of Church History—not only ancient and medieval but also modern—will have discovered, if he has not experienced it in his own person, that what Jesus here presents was a true picture of events to come. To be sure, there have been and there are many faithful servants, who will one day hear the welcome words, “Well done!” But are there not also many of the opposite type, men filled with envy, lust to rule, selfishness? The tribe of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram, who rebelled against Moses (Nu 16:1-33, Nu 16:31, 32, 33, 34, 35), of Diotrephes, who made life difficult for the apostle John (3 John 1:9), and of scribes and chief priests, who brought about the death of Jesus, has not yet died out. In telling this parable Jesus’ aim may well have been: (a) to open the eyes of the true church, and (b) to warn the deceivers in order that they may even now repent. If they do not, the Lord will assign to them a place with the unfaithful. They will be “cut to pieces.” Does this mean, then, that the Master is cruel? Not at all. That he is just and reasonable appears from the closing passage of this section (Lk 12:47-48) (Ibid)

Kent Hughes - The "servant" here has not simply been lazy or indolent but monstrously unfaithful—a drunken glutton who beats not only men but women—an abuser of both divine trust and human life. His life is a grotesque perversion. When the master (Jesus) returns, the cruel servant suffers a grisly end, and Christ pronounces him to be an "unbeliever."  Those in Christian leadership may profess what they will. They can use every Christian cliche, hold the Bible like Billy Graham and say "The Bible says," build a following in wide Christian circles, but if that man or woman consistently behaves in an unchristian way, he or she is not a true believer. Paul told the Ephesians: "For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person—such a man is an idolater—has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God's wrath comes on those who are disobedient. Therefore do not be partners with them" (Ephes. 5:5-7). And listen to St. John: "This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not a child of God; nor is anyone who does not love his brother" (1 John 3:10). Everything will be revealed when Jesus returns, so we must make sure our life matches our profession. Everything will be put right, and the truth will be known at last! There will be justice on earth. .(Preaching the Word – Luke, Volume II: That You May Know the Truth)

Pulpit Commentary on cut and place - The expression is, however, used as simply implying that a terrible doom is surely reserved in the life to come for those who have so sadly misused their high opportunities and neglected their great responsibilities. "The image of the parable itself is blended with the reality which the parable signifies; this thought of the human master who can punish his slaves with temporal death passes into that of the Divine Judge who can punish with spiritual death" (Dean Mansel).

The dominant sense in the NT of apistos is as an adjective describing one who is not a believer. This supports the interpretation that Jesus is not referring to believers who lose their reward, but of professing believers who lack genuine belief and so end up in hell, the place with the unbelievers. 

Unbelieving (571)(apistos from a = negative + pistos = faith) means "(1) not believable, incredible, impossible to be true (Acts 26.8); (2) lacking in faith, unbelieving, not trusting (Jn 20.27); substantivally, as one who does not believe God's message about Christ unbeliever, pagan (1Ti 5.8); plural nonbelievers, non-Christians, pagans (1Co 6.6); (3) as a quality of behavior lacking in faithfulness, unfaithful, untrustworthy; substantivally unreliable person (Rev 21.8)." (Friberg) 

Apistos - 23x in 21v and is translated in NAS as  incredible(1), unbeliever(4), unbelievers(7), unbelieving(10), unbelieving one(1).

Matt. 17:17; Mk. 9:19; Lk. 9:41; Lk. 12:46; Jn. 20:27; Acts 26:8; 1 Co. 6:6; 1 Co. 7:12; 1 Co. 7:13; 1 Co. 7:14; 1 Co. 7:15; 1 Co. 10:27; 1 Co. 14:22; 1 Co. 14:23; 1 Co. 14:24; 2 Co. 4:4; 2 Co. 6:14; 2 Co. 6:15; 1 Tim. 5:8; Titus 1:15; Rev. 21:8

NET Note on unbelievers - Or "unbelieving." Here the translation employs the slightly more ambiguous "unfaithful," which creates a link with the point of the parable - faithfulness versus unfaithfulness in servants. The example of this verse must be taken together with the examples of Lk 12:47–48 as part of a scale of reactions with the most disobedient response coming here. The fact that this servant is placed in a distinct group, unlike the one in Lk 47–48, also suggests ultimate exclusion. This is the hypocrite of Mt 24:51. 

John Phillips has an interesting interpretation of the judgments described in Lk 12:46-48 - there is the matter of his sentence (Lk 12:46-48). Three types of servants are in view here. The first type is the false servant: "The lord of that servant will come in a day when he looketh not for him, and at an hour when he is not aware, and will cut him in sunder, and will appoint him his portion with the unbelievers." This servant is no servant at all. Whatever profession of faith the man might have made is annulled by his behavior. The Lord numbers him among the unbelievers. Judas was just such a man. The second type is the forgetful servant: "And that servant, which knew his lord's will, and prepared not himself, neither did according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes" (Lk 12:47). Here is a man who is well schooled in the things of God. He knows what is expected of him. Nevertheless, he wastes his time and talents and ignores God's will for his life. Instead of laying up treasure in heaven, he fritters away his life. He will be "beaten with many stripes." Sometimes those stripes come in this life as God chastises him for his neglect. At other times, God withholds judgment here because He intends to deal with it over there. This brings into view the judgment seat of Christ (Rom. 2:16; 1 Cor. 3:11-15; 2 Cor. 5:10). "[He] shall be beaten with many stripes." He will suffer blow after blow, as it were, as the various affairs of his life are weighed and found wanting and are cast into the fire as wood, hay, and stubble. Finally, the third type is the feeble servant: "But he that knew not, and did commit things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes." No excuse will be accepted at the judgment seat for poor performance, but allowance will be made for ignorance. The principle that the Lord lays down is simple: "For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more" (Lk 12:48b). In other words, the Lord's requirements are similar to those required by a human employer. (Ibid)

Luke 12:47  "And that slave who knew his master's will and did not get ready or act in accord with his will, will receive many lashes,

KJV Luke 12:47 And that servant, which knew his lord's will, and prepared not himself, neither did according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes.

And that slave - The one described in this passage.

Who knew his master's will - Compare Acts 22:14; Rom 2:18.

NET Note on knew his master's will - Grk "or do according to his will"; the referent (the master) has been specified in the translation for clarity. This example deals with the slave who knew what the command was and yet failed to complete it. 

And did not get ready or act in accord with his will will receive many lashes -  As Stein says "he is more guilty than the next man, for “anyone then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn’t do it, sins” (Jas 4:17). To sin in the face of much spiritual light is a sobering thought which yields a frightening fate! Compare the fate of the Jews in Jesus' day of His Light with that of the abominable cities of Sodom and Gomorrah (Mt 10:15). Many passages allude to the principle of degrees of punishment - Mt  11:20-24, 12:41,42 Jn 19:11, Lk 10:12-16, 11:31,32, 12:47,48, 20:45,46,47, Mk 12:38,39,40, Heb 10:29. 

MacDonald - Verses 47 and 48 set forth a fundamental principle in regard to all service. The principle is that the greater the privilege, the greater the responsibility. 

Spurgeon - So that there are different measures of responsibility; there are degrees in guilt, and degrees in punishment.

Hendriksen on the punishments in Lk 12:46, 47, 48 - Among those who at the master’s return are punished there is indeed a difference: some are punished severely, others lightly. This shows that not only are there degrees of glory in the new heaven and earth (1 Cor. 15:41, 42), but there are also degrees of suffering in hell....Even the Old Testament teaches this (Lev. 26:28; Nu 15:22–31; Ps. 19:12, 13; and, last but not least, Amos 3:2).... Why should the servant who did not know his master’s will be punished at all? Answer: ignorance is never absolute. See Rom. 1:20, 21; 2:14–16. The entire passage—see especially verse 48b—makes clear that the talents with which God has endowed men must be used, the time must be “redeemed,” the opportunities improved. No one has the right to be lazy. Also, no one has the right to live for himself alone. A person must live for others (1 Cor. 9:22), and for God (1 Cor. 10:31). (Ibid)

MacArthur feels the unfaithful servants in Lk 12:47-48 are still unbelievers - But while all unbelievers will be sentenced to hell, our Lord makes clear here that the degree of their punishment will differ. Jesus alluded to that fact by describing, in addition to the defiant slave mentioned above, two other types of unfaithful slaves.

Steven Cole - Others will be punished severely because they knew about the Master’s coming, but did not get ready (Lk 12:47). This category knew the Master’s will, but they did not get ready or act in accord with His will. They will receive many lashes. This refers to people who have been in religious circles enough to know the truth, but they don’t act on it. Maybe they procrastinate, thinking, “Someday I’ll follow Christ and serve Him, but right now I’ve got to devote myself to my business. Besides, to get ahead these days, you’ve got to cut a few corners, and so I’m not quite ready to follow Christ.” Beware: To sin against greater light means greater punishment! To hear the truth proclaimed in church every Sunday and to go out and ignore that truth the rest of the week is a risky way to live. What if the Master comes this week? (Are You Ready for Christ’s Return?)

Will receive many lashes - KJV preserves the sense of the passive voice "shall be beaten." In this context the passive is the so-called "Divine passive" as it is God Who administers the punishment. And yet while this punishment is less severe than being cut in pieces, it is still punishment. 

Receive...lashes  (1194)(dero) literally meant to remove the skin (flay = strip off skin) and in the NT is used to depict the action of whipping, beating, thrashing or scourging in a manner calculated to take off the skin (Mt. 21:35; Mk 12:3, 5; Lk 20:10, 11; Ac 16:37; 22:19). Dero is used with its literal meaning once in the Septuagint (2Chr 29:34).

Dero - 15x in the NT most often by Luke - 

Matt. 21:35; Mk. 12:3, 5; 3:9; Lk. 12:47; 12:48; 20:10; 20:11; 22:63; Jn. 18:23; Acts 5:40; Acts 16:37; Acts 22:19; 1 Co. 9:26; 2 Co. 11:20

Hughes - Equity at the end of this unfair world is a delectable thought. Praise God that he is such a judge that nothing will get by him. Praise him for his fairness. And, of course, praise him for his grace—our only hope. (Ibid)

Crawford - This part of the parable is most important teaching. It shows that God's punishment of evil is in accordance with the light and knowledge of the evildoer. Two sinners may commit the same act, yet one may have a greater measure of guilt than the other, and this is measured according to the knowledge of each one. The Lord Jesus taught this principle to Pilate (John 19:11). (Ibid)

Luke 12:48  but the one who did not know it, and committed deeds worthy of a flogging, will receive but few. From everyone who has been given much, much will be required; and to whom they entrusted much, of him they will ask all the more.

KJV Luke 12:48 But he that knew not, and did commit things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes. For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more.

NET  Luke 12:48 But the one who did not know his master's will and did things worthy of punishment will receive a light beating. From everyone who has been given much, much will be required, and from the one who has been entrusted with much, even more will be asked. 

NLT  Luke 12:48 But someone who does not know, and then does something wrong, will be punished only lightly. When someone has been given much, much will be required in return; and when someone has been entrusted with much, even more will be required.

But the one who did not know it, and committed deeds worthy of a flogging, will receive but few - Sinning in ignorance receives a lesser penalty.

From everyone who has been given much, much will be required - Spurgeon - O my brethren! Let those of us who are privileged with the possession of the gospel, and privileged with any amount of ability to spread it, enquire whether we could give in a good account if the Lord were to come tonight, and summon us, as stewards, to give an account of our stewardship. God bless to us all the reading of his Word! Amen.

Spurgeon - Judge ye, then, brethren and sisters, how much of ability and talent your lord has entrusted to you, and be not content to have rendered him some service; but look for proportionate service, and humble yourselves in his presence if your service is not in proportion to the opportunities entrusted to you. Who among us can refrain from humbling himself before God when he thinks of this?

To whom they entrusted much, of him they will ask all the more - Those who have been entrusted with many abilities, gifts and responsibilities will be held to a higher standard  (cf. Matt. 25:29; Mark 4:24, 25). As a teacher of God's Word, James continually resonates (sometimes painfully) in my mind

Let not many of you become teachers, my brethren, knowing that as such we will incur a stricter judgment. (James 3:1)

NET Note on entrusted much  To be gifted with precious responsibility is something that requires faithfulness.

Norman Crawford sums up Lk 12:47-48 - These two verses fully explain that in the day of judgment the Lord will judge men according to their evil works (Eccles 12:14), but it will be righteous judgment. Although ignorance does not exempt a sinner from judgment (note the "few stripes"), yet light and knowledge make a sinner much more responsible when he sins against that light. From all we are told in the NT, there do not seem to be degrees of punishment in hell (hadēs Ed: but the final "hell" is Gehenna), the present prison house of the lost, unless the remorse of memory is considered as added torment (Lk 16:25), but in the lake of fire there will be degrees of punishment according to works and the light that has been given (Rev 20:11-15).This principle that light given results in increased responsibility has a broad application to saint and sinner. The latter part of Lk 12:48 makes this clear. We must answer to God for our obedience to the truth that He has given to us. Some have far higher privilege than others. (Ibid)

Steven Cole - Others will be punished less severely because they did not know about the Master’s coming or live in light of it (Lk12:48a). The final category for judgment are those who did not even know the Master’s will. They will be judged less severely, with a few lashes, but judged nonetheless. Ignorance of God’s law is no excuse for not obeying it because we are responsible to know it. As J. C. Ryle points out, “Our very ignorance is part of our sin” (Expository Thoughts on the Gospels [Baker], p. 94). Even those who have never heard of Christ have enough revelation through creation and conscience to know that there is a righteous God. But they have suppressed the truth in unrighteousness, so that they are without excuse (Ro 1:18-20). Those who have been given the most light have the most responsibility and will be judged the most severely. There will be gradations of punishment in hell. Jesus clearly assumes His own authority to judge every person! Each person needs to answer the question, “Do I have a ‘welfare mentality’ regarding spiritual things?” Are you living for today only, with no regard for the Master’s return and the accounting that He will demand? Are you foolishly putting it out of your mind by thinking, “I’ve got time”? Jesus says that we should be “like men who are waiting for their master when he returns.” We should live each day with an eye on that future day when “the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet of God” (1 Thess. 4:16). We will be blessed if the Master finds us ready when He comes. (Are You Ready for Christ’s Return?)

Hughes - The thrust of Jesus' message can be summed up in two words: Get ready! His return is as sure as his Incarnation. The Second Advent of Christ is as sure as the First Advent. He will come when least expected. CNN will not expect it. Wall Street will have no hint. The nations will have no clue. The world's religions disbelieve it. To these, he is coming like a thief in the night! Revelation closes with Jesus' promise, "Yes, I am coming soon." And we say with the people of God, "Amen. Come, Lord Jesus" (Rev. 22:20). How can we be ready? By living a godly life that reflects the abundant truth God has given us. "For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It teaches us to say 'No' to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope—the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ" (Titus 2:11-13). By joyful service. "Be dressed ready for service and keep your lamps burning, like men waiting for their master to return from a wedding banquet, so that when he comes and knocks they can immediately open the door for him" (Luke 12:35, 36). Roll up your sleeves, turn the lights on, get ready—Jesus is coming soon! (Ibid)

Rod Mattoon - What are you doing with your life? Is Jesus first? Are you living for Him? That is what really matters. Take heed to the words of C.T. Studd.

   Two little lines I heard one day, Traveling along life's busy way;
   Bringing conviction to my heart, And from my mind would not depart;
   Only one life, 'twill soon be past, Only what's done for Christ will last.

   Only one life, yes only one, Soon will its fleeting hours be done;
   Then, in 'that day' my Lord to meet, And stand before His Judgement seat;
   Only one life, 'twill soon be past, Only what's done for Christ will last.

   Only one life, the still small voice, Gently pleads for a better choice
   Bidding me selfish aims to leave, And to God's holy will to cleave;
   Only one life, 'twill soon be past, Only what's done for Christ will last.

   Only one life, a few brief years, Each with its burdens, hopes, and fears;
   Each with its clays I must fulfill, living for self or in His will;
   Only one life, 'twill soon be past, Only what's done for Christ will last.

   When this bright world would tempt me sore, When Satan would a victory score;
   When self would seek to have its way, Then help me Lord with joy to say;
   Only one life, 'twill soon be past, Only what's done for Christ will last.

   Give me Father, a purpose deep, In joy or sorrow Thy word to keep;
   Faithful and true what e'er the strife, Pleasing Thee in my daily life;
   Only one life, 'twill soon be past, Only what's done for Christ will last.322

   Oh let my love with fervor burn, And from the world now let me turn;
   Living for Thee, and Thee alone, Bringing Thee pleasure on Thy throne;
   Only one life, "twill soon be past, Only what's done for Christ will last.

   Only one life, yes only one, Now let me say, "Thy will be done";
   And when at last I'll hear the call, I know I'll say "twas worth it all";
   Only one life, 'twill soon be past, Only what's done for Christ will last.

Much Received—Luke 12:48

Jeff, a 20-year-old in our community, has been given more than he deserves. He had deliberately dropped a brick from a highway overpass that went through the windshield of a car driven by Vickie Prantle. It split open her face, put out her right eye, destroyed her teeth, and necessitated a long series of painful surgeries.

Jeff could have expected Vickie to have a vengeful attitude. But even as she awaited the paramedics, Vickie prayed for the grace to forgive the perpetrator.

Later, she asked the judge to give Jeff a second chance, and he was sentenced to 90 days in a boot camp. “She gave me a gift,” he said, “and I’m going to take it to the fullest extent. I’m very thankful she was a Christian. If she wasn’t, I would still be locked up.”

If that troubled young man puts his faith in Jesus Christ, he will fully reward Vickie for her gift. But if not, his guilt will increase on the final judgment day. Jesus said, “For everyone to whom much is given, from him much will be required” (Luke 12:48). Jeff has been given much. But so have you and I. We who know Christ have received something much greater—the salvation and forgiveness that Jesus gives.

What will you do with His gift of grace?By Herbert Vander Lugt 

Thou hast bought us, and no longer
Can we claim to be our own;
Giving freely, naught withholding,
We shall serve Thee, Lord, alone.  —Murray

Grace is an unearned blessing given by God to an unworthy recipient.

Leadership—Luke 12:48

Leadership is a God-given privilege. There is no greater satisfaction than what comes from unselfishly seeking the physical and spiritual welfare of those entrusted to our care or supervision.

William Wilberforce, popular leader in England from 1780 to 1833, died with the satisfaction that the emancipation bill for which he had expended so much of his time and energy would be passed. The end of slavery in the British Empire was assured.

On the other hand, leadership is not always given recognition. A woman I knew, whose role had been that of mother and Sunday school teacher, faced death with contentment. She expressed gratitude to the Lord for entrusting these responsibilities to her and enabling her to fulfill them honorably.

Leadership, however, can be abused. Those who vie for prestige, power, and expensive perks will someday appear before God to give an account. Psalm 82 describes God’s judgment of self-serving leaders.

We too will one day give account for our lives. So let’s fulfill our God-given role with the solemn realization that “to whom much is given, from him much will be required” (Lk. 12:48).By Herbert Vander Lugt

Use now what God has given you,
Count not its worth as small;
God does not ask of you great things,
Just faithfulness—that's all! —Bosch

Only as we follow Christ can we lead others in the right direction.

Luke 12:49  "I have come to cast fire upon the earth; and how I wish it were already kindled!

KJV Luke 12:49 I am come to send fire on the earth; and what will I, if it be already kindled?


Luke 12:49-59 breaks down into the cause of division (Lk 12:49-53), the call to consider the signs of the times (Lk 12:54-56) and the call to settle one's accounts (Lk 12:57-59) (The parallels to this text are also conceptual, as with many passages in this chapter. Luke 12:49-53 is like Matthew 10:34-36 and Mark 10:38. Luke 12:54-56 is tied to Matthew 16:2-3. Luke 12:57-59 is like Matthew 5:25-26. But the differences in setting and in vocabulary between these texts means they are not true parallel descriptions of the same event.) Jesus is beginning his final appeal to the nation of Israel to repent. In Lk 13:31-35 he warns what will happen if they fail to respond. (NIV Application Commentary)


I have come - This speaks of His incarnation in general but more specifically summarizes His 3 year ministry. This exact phrase I have come is spoken by Jesus 7 verses in the Gospels in - Lk. 12:49; 13:7; Jn. 5:43; 6:38,42; 12:46; 18:37. 

John MacArthur explains that I have come "is a technical term used in several places by the Lord to speak of His mission, which He defined in Luke 19:10 when He said that “the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost” (cf. Matt. 9:13). “Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets,” He cautioned, “I did not come to abolish but to fulfill” (Matt. 5:17). In John 5:43 Jesus declared to the hostile Jewish leaders, “I have come in My Father’s name, and you do not receive Me; if another comes in his own name, you will receive him.” Jesus told those listening to His discourse on the bread of life, “I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me” (John 6:38). Jesus is the good shepherd, who “came that [His sheep might] have life, and have it abundantly” (John 10:10). He came “as Light into the world, so that everyone who believes in [Him] will not remain in darkness” (John 12:46); He “did not come to judge the world, but to save the world” (v. 47). On the night before His death Jesus said to the Twelve, “I came forth from the Father and have come into the world; I am leaving the world again and going to the Father” (John 16:28). He told Pilate, “For this I have come into the world, to testify to the truth” (John 18:37). Although He came to save the lost, Jesus’ mission was also one of judgment; He came to cast fire upon the earth.

Stein on cast fire - The judgment that this fire brings can also be viewed in two ways. First, it can refer to the final judgment at the end of history. The preceding passage (Lk 12:35–48) favors this reading. Second, fire can refer to how the coming of God’s kingdom divides people into two camps. The latter interpretation is demanded by the context (Lk 12:51–53). This theme of division is also found elsewhere in Luke. (Ibid)

To cast fire upon the earth - First note that the word "fire" is emphatic in Greek (literally Fire I have come to bring )  clearly calling attention to the importance of this metaphor. Fire is a figure of speech so the question arises what does it depict. Fire is associated with judgment (see passages below) but is also associated with the Spirit (cf Lk 3:16), so a few commentaries interpret this as a reference to the Spirit Who would later come with tongues of fire at Pentecost (Acts 2:3). However, the context of this last section (Lk 12:49-59) would favor this metaphor of fire as an allusion to judgment. We know that fire is frequently associated with divine judgment in Scripture, as in the passages below (but not a complete listing)

Dt. 4:24, 32:22; 2 Sa 22:9; Ps 21:9; 78:21; 97:3; Isa. 26:11; 29:6; 30:33; 66:15–16; Jer. 4:4; 15:14; 21:12; Lam. 2:3–4; 4:11; Ezek. 21:31; 22:21, 31; Amos 1:4, 7, 10, 12, 14; 2:2, 5; Amos 5:6; Joel 2:30, Nah. 1:6; Jer 5:14, 23:29, Isa 66:15, Mal 3:2, 5, Mal 4:1, Lk 3:9, 16, 17; 1 Cor 3:13, 2 Th. 1:7, 8; Heb. 10:27, Rev 8:5

Steven Cole agrees writing that "Jesus has been talking about the coming judgment (Lk 12:4-5, 8-10, 20-21, 35-48). He goes on to talk further about judgment (Lk 12:58-59; 13:3, 5, 9). John the Baptist warned the people about the wrath to come when “every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire” (Lk 3:7, 9). John predicted that the Messiah would baptize believers with the Holy Spirit and fire, but He warned that Messiah would “burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire” (Lk 3:16, 17)....I would contend that the predominant theme is judgment. While Jesus came to seek and to save the lost, His ministry necessarily also resulted in the judgment of those who reject Him. William Barclay states, “In Jewish thought fire is almost always the symbol of judgment.” Then he adds, “However much we may wish to eliminate the element of judgment from the message of Jesus it remains stubbornly and unalterably there”....To encounter fire is by nature a catastrophic, life-changing event. Robert Fulghum (It Was on Fire When I Lay Down on It [Ivy Books], p. 3) tells the odd story of a fire crew that broke into a house with smoke pouring out of the window and found a man in a smoldering bed. After the man was rescued and the mattress doused, they asked, “How did this happen?” The man replied, “I don’t know. It was on fire when I lay down on it.” That story strikes us as funny because it is so strange. Who in their right mind would lie down on a burning mattress? You can’t be passive about fire. You have to deal with it or it will consume you! Jesus’ coming is like a fire. You can ignore it and you will perish or you can get on the right side of it and it will purify the dross out of your life. But the one thing you cannot do is to be neutral toward it. Jesus draws a line that forces us to take sides." (The Divisive Jesus)


MacArthur notes that "the Jews believed that the fire would fall on the Gentiles and that the peace would come to them.  They never expected that the Messiah would come and the fire of judgment would fall on them and it is the fire of judgment.... John 9:39, (Jesus declared) "For judgment I came into this world that those who do not see may see and that those who see may become blind." His judgment is...a judgment that saves and it is a judgment that condemns (Ed: In short Jesus' coming and His message divides all mankind into two groups)....In Jn 3:16, John the Baptist says, "The One Who is coming is mightier than I.  I am not fit to untie the thong of His sandals.  He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire and He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire."  So there's the fire of judgment, the fire of destruction that is unleashed....But it's not only a fire of judgment; it's also a fire of purging. You see, the gospel is that fire that either purifies or punishes (cf Jn 3:18 “He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God." 2 Cor 2:16 says it is "to the one an aroma from death to death, to the other an aroma from life to life.")... Fire consumes what is combustible and does not consume what is noncombustible.  It purifies the noncombustible and it destroys the combustible and so the coming of Jesus is a fire.  It's a fire cast to the earth.  To those who believe, it purifies.  To those who reject, it consumes.   (Sermon - Jesus the Great Divider)

Some who interpret fire as divine judgment, see this as judgment on the wicked who are separated from the righteous (NIV Study Bible Note). Of course for this to even occur, first the fire of divine judgment would have to fall on Jesus the Lamb of God before there could even be any who would be righteous. So ultimately this would go back to the Cross first. Others think the fire "symbolizes judgment on the earth at the second coming of Christ" (HCSB Study Bible)

And how I wish it were already kindled - So although Jesus had come and is in the last stages of His 3 year ministry, the fire had not yet been kindled. So the question arises as what is the fire to be kindled and when is it to be kindled? Again, the context helps answer this question. Notice that the next verse describes His baptism which is clearly a reference to His Crucifixion. Now think for a moment why this might be a fire that is kindled. What is fire? Judgment. What did Jesus bear on the Cross? The sins of the world. And what did the world deserve from from God? His righteous judgment. Instead as Peter stated Jesus "Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed...For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just (Jesus) for the unjust (sinners), so that He might bring us to God (cf Ro 5:1-2), having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit." (1 Pe 2:24, 1 Pe 3:18) The wages of sin in death (Ro 6:23) and when Jesus was nailed to the Cross, He took our place (cf substitutionary atonement) and bore God's righteous wrath against our sins that had been place upon Him! That is when the fire of God's judgment was kindled. This helps understand why Jesus said "I wish it were already kindled." Clearly, what He is saying is He wishes the Crucifixion was already over. Of course He agonized Gethsemane, but He was always conscious that He had a baptism of judgment to undergo, which would entail separation from His Father, something that had never transpired in Eternity past (cf the moment when "Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, "ELI, ELI, LAMA SABACHTHANI?" that is, "MY GOD, MY GOD, WHY HAST THOU FORSAKEN ME?" Mt 27:46)

Hendriksen says "The fire of which Jesus speaks in all probability refers to the judgment of God upon the sins of his people. That judgment would be rendered at Calvary. It is Jesus Himself Who will satisfy God’s justice and bear the punishment....("I wish it were already kindled" means that) Jesus is thinking of his fast approaching passion and death. He realizes that His suffering will be intense. It is not surprising therefore that He says, "and how I wish it were already kindled." Besides, He knows that the firm foundation for the salvation of His people will not have been completed until at Calvary the sacrifice will have been brought." (Baker New Testament Commentary – Exposition of the Gospel According to Luke)

MacDonald - Although afflictions and dissensions broke out during His earthly ministry, it was not until the cross that the heart of man was truly exposed. The Lord knew that all of this must take place, and He was willing that the fire of persecution should burst forth as soon as necessary against Himself. (Believer's Bible Commentary)

​​​​​​​ Kindled (381)(anapto from ana = up or intensifier + hapto = to fasten) means to "light up" and comes from the fact that it was through fastening and rubbing things together that fire was produced. and is used with the literal sense in Acts 28:2 (because of the cold, they kindled a fire) and James 3:5 (how great a forest is set aflame by such a small fire) and figuratively here in Lk 12:49. Kindle means to cause something to begin to burn or catch fire, to set on fire; to ignite. It is interesting that one lexicon (Gilbrant) says anapto in Lk 12:49 refers to the metaphorical kindling of the "fire of division" and another (W E Vine) to the "the kindling of the fire of hostility" but both these interpretations are less satisfactory than the one discussed above. Anapto is aorist passive, and thus in the context of God's righteous judgment on sin signifies a "divine passive," (be kindled, the kindling being ignited [so to speak] by the Father on His only begotten Son!).

John MacArthur - The event that would kindle the fire of judgment was His death, which Jesus described as a baptism He had to undergo.

One potential place we see this beginning to be fulfilled is Rev 8:5. which appears to described events during the 1st 3 & 1/2 yrs of Daniel's 70th week of 7 years. (although in context Rev 8:5 is actually referring to the angel casting the fire, not Christ). The consumation of His conflagration is pictured in 2 Th1:7,8. Isa 66:15 

Luke 12:50  "But I have a baptism to undergo, and how distressed I am until it is accomplished!

KJV Luke 12:50 But I have a baptism to be baptized with; and how am I straitened till it be accomplished!


Similar passage found in Mark

Mark 10:38 But Jesus said to them (James and John, the two sons of Zebedee Mk 10:35), “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or to be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized?”

But I have a baptism to undergo - He has already been baptized by John in the Jordan (Mt 3:13-17), but His crucifixion is the baptism He is describing. He referred to His crucifixion metaphorically here as a baptism and in Matthew 20 as drinking a cup...

As Jesus was about to go up to Jerusalem, He took the twelve disciples aside by themselves, and on the way He said to them, 18 “Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem; and the Son of Man will be delivered to the chief priests and scribes, and they will condemn Him to death, 19 and will hand Him over to the Gentiles to mock and scourge and crucify Him, and on the third day He will be raised up.” 20 Then the mother of the sons of Zebedee came to Jesus with her sons, bowing down and making a request of Him. 21 And He said to her, “What do you wish?” She *said to Him, “Command that in Your kingdom these two sons of mine may sit one on Your right and one on Your left.” 22 But Jesus answered, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I am about to drink?” They *said to Him, “We are able.” (Mt 20:17-22)

Baptism (908)(baptisma) is the result of the act of dipping, plunging, immersing, washing. something or someone. The suffix -ma indicates the result of dipping or sinking or baptizing while baptismos is the act of baptizing. In the present use the picture is of Jesus being "immersed in" and overwhelmed by the agony of the Cross. "He will be plunged into the flood of horrible distress." (Hendriksen) See His praying in the Garden Lk 22:44 "And being in agony He was praying very fervently; and His sweat became like drops of blood, falling down upon the ground." (see Luke 22:39-46)

And remember how Jesus opens this section withe the words "I have come to" and in this baptism we see the consummation of the reason for His coming! He came to die! But not to die in vain, but to die that men might live again!

Stein - The term “baptism” is used in Greek literature to describe being overwhelmed with catastrophe. Yet the key for understanding this metaphor is found in the parallel in Mark 10:38–39. Here “baptism” forms a parallelism with the “cup” Jesus was to drink and refers to Jesus’ passion and death. That this image is found in two different Gospels indicates that it was well-known and that the early church would have understood both Jesus’ baptism and drinking the cup as references to his death. (Ibid)

To undergo (907)(baptizo from bapto = cover wholly with a fluid; stain or dip as with dye; used of the smith tempering the red-hot steel, used of dyeing the hair; of a ship that "dipped" = sank) has a literal and a figurative meaning in the NT. The literal meaning is to submerge, to dip or immerse as in water. A study of the 77 NT uses (See below) reveals that most of the uses of baptizo in the Gospels and Acts are associated with literal water baptism. There is a similar figurative use in Isaiah 21:4 "My mind reels, horror overwhelms (Heb = baath =to be overtaken by sudden terror,; Lxx = baptizo) me; The twilight I longed for has been turned for me into trembling." 

The psalms use the metaphor of water overwhelming one's soul - Ps. 42:7, "All Your breakers and Your waves have rolled over me" and Ps. 124:4, "Then the waters would have engulfed us, The stream would have swept over our soul."

MacArthur on a baptism to undergo  - Baptism refers to His immersion under divine judgment (cf. Mark 10:38);  before He judged unbelievers for their sin, Christ Himself was judged by God for the sins of believers. That took place at the cross when He “redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us” (Gal. 3:13; cf. Isa. 53:5–6, 11–12; Rom. 4:25; 2 Cor. 5:21; 1 Peter 2:24). In that verse Paul expressed the essential, non-negotiable doctrine of penal substitution, which “states that God gave Himself in the person of his Son to suffer instead of us the death, punishment and curse due to fallen humanity as the penalty for sin. This understanding of the cross of Christ stands at the very heart of the gospel” (Jeffrey, Steve, Michael Ovey, and Andrew Sach, Pierced for Our Transgressions [Wheaton, Ill.: Crossway, 2007], 21). (MacArthur NT Commentary - Luke, page 171)

NET Note on baptism - The figure of the baptism is variously interpreted, as some see a reference (1) to martyrdom or (2) to inundation with God's judgment. The OT background, however, suggests the latter sense: Jesus is about to be uniquely inundated with God's judgment as He is rejected, persecuted, and killed (Ps 18:4, 16; 42:7; 69:1–2; Isa 8:7–8; 30:27–28; Jonah 2:3–6).

How distressed I am until it is accomplished - John MacArthur paraphrases Jesus' words -   "I have an immersion into divine wrath and how distressed I am until it's accomplished." (Jesus, the Great Divider") He adds in his commentary note "Although Gethsemane was the most agonizing time of anticipation, Jesus lived His life in a perpetual Gethsemane. There was never a time when He was not aware of the suffering that lay before Him."

Distressed (4912)(sunecho/synecho from sun = with + echo = hold) literally means hold together, to press together, to press hard as did the crowd in (Lk 8:45). To hold in custody (Lk 22:63). In Php 1:23 Paul says "hard-pressed from both directions, having the desire to depart and be with Christ, for that is very much better." Jesus uses the present tense, indicating that the thought of Calvary was continuously on His mind! It was an incessant squeezing, a relentless pressure, and would be until it was finally accomplished.

MacArthur writes - He is pressed between the suffering and the purpose, between the anticipation of the pain and the plan, between His own will and the Father's will, but He never wavered when He said in the garden, "Father, if it's your will, let this cup pass from Me."   He immediately responded by saying, "Nevertheless, not My will but yours be done." (Mt 26:39) "I've come to cast fire," He said, "and it's going to be kindled by the cross and that's going to set the fire of judgment."  That will be the dividing point.  That is where all men are divided.  All men are divided at the cross, both in eternity and in time.

 Accomplished (finished) (5055)(teleo from telos = a goal, an end, a fulfillment)  means to bring to an end as one brings a process, a course, a task or an undertaking to the end, not merely by bringing it to end but bringing it to perfection. The idea is to achieve a goal or to conclude it successfully. This meaning is especially poignant in the context of Jesus' life purpose which was to die on the Cross, the purpose He pointed to and which He accomplished (see John 19:30 below). This same meaning of fulfilling or bringing about the completion or achievement of a goal or objective is also a prominent meaning in the Revelation (e.g. Re 11:7-note; Re 17:17-note)

In Luke Jesus used teleo to refer the Cross

Luke 18:31 Then He took the twelve aside and said to them, “Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and all things which are written through the prophets about the Son of Man will be accomplished.

Luke 22:37 “For I tell you that this which is written must be fulfilled in Me, ‘AND HE WAS NUMBERED WITH TRANSGRESSORS’; for that which refers to Me has its fulfillment.”

John 19:28 After this, Jesus, knowing that all things had already been accomplished, to fulfill the Scripture, *said, “I am thirsty.”

John 19:30 (see commentary) Therefore when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, “It is finished!” (tetelestai = perfect tense of teleo)  And He bowed His head and gave up His spirit.

Related Resource: Devotional on It Is Finished - Tetelestai

As MacArthur says "The Lord was hard-pressed between the suffering and the purpose; between the pain and the plan; between enduring the cross “for the joy set before Him” (Heb. 12:2) and desiring to be restored to the glory that He had had in the Father’s presence before coming into the world (John 17:5); between His own will and the Father’s. Yet He never wavered, and at the end said in the garden, “Not My will, but Yours be done” (Luke 22:42)." (MacArthur NT Commentary- Luke, page 172)

Luke 12:51  "Do you suppose that I came to grant peace on earth? I tell you, no, but rather division;

KJV Luke 12:51 Suppose ye that I am come to give peace on earth? I tell you, Nay; but rather division:


Similar passage found in Matthew 

Matthew 10:34-36  “Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. 35“For I came to SET A MAN AGAINST HIS FATHER, AND A DAUGHTER AGAINST HER MOTHER, AND A DAUGHTER-IN-LAW AGAINST HER MOTHER-IN-LAW; 36and A MAN’S ENEMIES WILL BE THE MEMBERS OF HIS HOUSEHOLD. 

Do you suppose that I came to grant peace on earth - The baptism Jesus had just described as explained was the Cross, which would separate not only a believing thief on one side from an unbelieving thief on the other side, but ultimately would be the great dividing line between all mankind, in time and throughout eternity! Earlier in Lk 12:41-48 Jesus had presented a parable of the faithful steward who awaited Christ's return thus representing the saved, and the unfaithful steward, who neglected His return, and was representative of unbelievers. So just as Jesus described a division of stewards, He now speaks of the fact that His coming and His accomplishment on the Cross brought a division, a division again between believers and unbelievers. 

I tell you, no - Jesus quickly answers His own question, lest His audience misunderstand His mission. Remember Jesus is speaking to the Jewish crowd many of whom (if not most) were expecting a Messiah Who would bring peace to Palestine, by liberating them from Roman domination. They failed to understand that they themselves needed to first experience peace with God (Ro 5:1, Jn 14:27), and for that to be possible the Messiah must first die for their sins. John records

He came to His own, and those who were His own did not receive Him. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, (John 1:11-12-note)

​​​​​​​Peace (1515)(eirene from verb eiro = to join or bind together that which has been separated) literally pictures the binding or joining together again of that which had been separated or divided and thus setting at one again, a meaning convey by the common expression of one “having it all together”. It follows that peace is the opposite of division or dissension.

Stein - Elsewhere in Luke, Jesus’ coming is described as bringing peace, but at the same time it brought the rise of some and the fall of others (Lk 2:34), as illustrated in the next two verses. The Matthean parallel (Lk 10:34) reads “not ... peace, but a sword” and is no doubt closer to Jesus’ words, though Luke’s “division” conveys his sense well. (Ibid)

I tell you, no, but rather division - The division is clearly between those who believe in Him for salvation and eternal life and those who reject Him and refuse to believe in Him and receive the due penalty of eternal death. That is the ultimate "chasm" on one or the other  of which all mankind will stand forever and ever. Amen.

Division (1267)(diamerismos from diá = denoting separation + merízō = to divide) describes a "division into partisan and contentious units" (BDAG). Opposition, dissension, disunity and hostility. In the Septuagint it refers to division of land (Ezek. 48:29). Notice that in Matthew the parallel word is "sword" so clearly in Luke 12:51 (the only NT use) "division" conveys the sense of a very unfriendly disposition or state of deep-seated ill-will. 

We see that Jesus brings division as described in John's Gospel

John 7:43  So a division occurred in the crowd because of Him.

John 9:16  Therefore some of the Pharisees were saying, "This man is not from God, because He does not keep the Sabbath." But others were saying, "How can a man who is a sinner perform such signs?" And there was a division among them.

John 10:19  A division occurred again among the Jews because of these words.

Hendriksen - We have here a mashal; that is, a paradoxical saying, one that sounds unbelievable! That it is contrary to prevailing opinion is indicated by the question, "Do y o u think that I have come to give peace on earth?" and the answer, "No, I tell y o u, but rather division." What Jesus says here causes the one who hears or reads it to startle in shocked disbelief. The natural reaction to the surprising statement would be: "How can this saying be true? Is not Christ 'the Prince of Peace' (Isa. 9:6)? Is he not the One who pronounces a blessing on those who make peace (Matt. 5:9)? If he did not come in order to bring peace how can the following passages be true: Ps. 72:3, 7; Luke 1:79; 2:14; 7:50; 8:48; John 14:27; 16:33; 20:19, 21; Rom. 5:1; 10:15; 14:17; Eph. 2:14; Col. 1:20; Heb. 6:20-7:2? Do not all of them in the strongest terms proclaim Jesus as the Bringer of peace?" We should remember, however, that it is the characteristic of many a mashal to place emphasis on one aspect of the truth rather than on a proposition that is universally valid. See on Matt. 5:34, "Do not take any oath at all." The merit of such aphorisms is that they stop a person short and make him think. So here also. A little reflection will soon convince the earnest student of Scripture that there is a sense in which the coming of Christ into this world not only brought division but was even intended to do so. If that had not been its immediate purpose would not all men have been lost (John 3:3, 5; Rom. 3:9-18)? Would they not all have rushed onward toward their doom? Besides, even in the lives of those who are ultimately saved is it not true that through many tribulations they must enter into the kingdom of God (Acts 14:22)? Is not the life of the believer one of Sturm und Drang (storm and stress)? To be sure, in the end all is peace, but the same Paul who exclaims, "I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord," also complains, "Wretched man that I am!" (Rom. 7:24, 25). (Exposition of the Gospel According to Luke)

Divider Of People—Luke 12:51

The Boston Red Sox were battling the rival New York Yankees for the division title during the 2001 baseball season—and the race was tight. So when Boston lost six games out of eight, the manager was abruptly fired and his job was given to the pitching coach. Some players and fans applauded the move; others felt it was a terrible mistake. Both sides were very vocal with their opinions.

Whoever said “a call for a decision is a cause for division” was right. Choice involves change, and change makes some people uncomfortable.

Jesus said that a decision to follow Him would mean changes in relationships. “From now on five in one house will be divided: three against two, and two against three. Father will be divided against son . . . , mother against daughter” (Luke 12:52-53).

Your friends or family may misunderstand you after you start living for Christ. Some may accuse you of thinking you’re too good for them. Others may shun you.

In that way, Jesus is a divider of families, friends, and co-workers. It hurts to be ridiculed or rejected by those close to you, but Jesus said it would happen.

Yes, Christ is a divider of people—but you are united with Him, and He will never leave you.  —By David C. Egner

Your choice to follow Jesus Christ
Some people will not understand;
Still others will resent the change—
But have no fear, He'll hold your hand. —Egner

When we walk with the Lord, we'll be out of step with the world.

Luke 12:52  for from now on five members in one household will be divided, three against two and two against three.

KJV Luke 12:52 For from henceforth there shall be five in one house divided, three against two, and two against three.


For (gar) - term of explanation Here Jesus is explaining how deep the division will be. It will be such a deep division that it even divides families where normally family ties and family love and loyalty (SEE ABSENCE OF FAMILY LOVE = astorgos) tend to bind people together. But now when it comes to the Gospel of Jesus, because Jesus' coming and crucifixion divides all mankind into those who are going to heaven and those who are going to hell, and the latter naturally detest and hate the belief and teaching of the former. It is as if a "light" of righteousness is always shining straight at them through the life and conduct of their relative and they do not want their sin and their selfish lusts to be exposed. John writes  

This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world (AND NOW BELIEVERS ARE JESUS' LIGHT - Mt 5:14-16, Php 2:15, cf an aroma of Jesus in 2 Cor 2:14-16) and men loved the darkness (THERE IT IS - THE ROOT PROBLEM) rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil. For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed (SO DON'T BE SURPRISED WHEN YOU COME TO CHRIST AND THEN GO TELL YOUR LOST RELATIVES AND IT BRINGS DIVISION, EVEN HOSTILITY AND IN SOME CULTURES EVEN MARTYRDOM! cf Mt 10:34 "a sword!"). (John 3:19-20)

From now on - This phrase is found 17x in the NAS and frequently used by Jesus - 1 Ki. 14:14; 2 Chr. 16:9; Mic. 4:7; Matt. 23:39; 26:29; Lk. 5:10; 12:52; 22:18,69; Jn. 8:11; 13:19; 14:7; Acts 18:6; 1 Co. 7:29; 2 Co. 5:16; Gal. 6:17; Rev. 14:13

Five members in one household will be divided - Indeed this division did not await His Crucifixion, but had already clearly begun as some of the Jews (e.g. 11/12 of His original disciples) received Him as Savior and Lord, while the majority of the Jews tragically rejected Him as their long-awaited Messiah. Those who received in were no longer of the world, although they were still in the world, but the world would now hate them, and sadly this hatred would include even members in one's household! Most of us who have been saved by grace through faith in Christ have experienced this division with our own family members and it is especially painful in my own experience. I had one uncle who had been much like a father to me who finally told me if I did not stop talking about Jesus (and his need to believe in Him), then I needed to stop coming to see him. This literally broke my heart and he continued to deny Jesus until his dying day. Jesus brings division in households and believers need to fully grasp that because of the pain that will ensue in their hearts. 

Perhaps you have suffered dearly for your testimony to your family that Jesus is your Lord. The disciples ask a related question. May Jesus' answer comfort your heart

Then Peter said to Him, “Behold, we have left everything and followed You; what then will there be for us?” 28 And Jesus said to them, “Truly I say to you, that you who have followed Me, in the regeneration when the Son of Man will sit on His glorious throne, you also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. 29 “And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or farms for My name’s sake, will receive many times as much, and will inherit eternal life.  (Mt 19:27-29)

MacArthur comments - That's good news. It's worth the forsaking because you get eternal life.  Oh, and not only that, even here, you get us. You get the body of Christ. You get many brothers, many sisters, many fathers, many mothers, many children, and you get many resources that are supplied by the family of God. Jesus the Great Divider; if you embrace Him He will be to you the Prince of Peace.  There will be some division in this life but you will enjoy a peace that passes understanding.  (Jesus, the Great Divider)


Stein observes that "Luke was fond of groups of five (Cf. Luke 1:24; 9:13, 16; 12:6; 14:19; 16:28; 19:18–19; Acts 4:4; 20:6; 24:1)."

Three against two and two against three - "The entrance of Christ into this world divides in two, splits apart, cleaves asunder, and in so doing turns one person against another. Faith not only creates division between one race and another, one people and another, one church and another; it even brings about division in the family, in fact often the sharpest division of all." (Hendriksen) 

Luke 12:53  "They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law."

KJV Luke 12:53 The father shall be divided 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 her daughter in law, and the daughter in law against her mother in law.


Similar passage in Matthew 


They will be divided, father against son and son against father - You may be saying Jesus said 5 in Lk 12:52 but here He names 6, but look again. The mother-in-law is also the mother of the son who has the wife, so in fact Jesus mentions not six, but five distinct persons in total.

Jesus is probably alluding to a similar statement by the OT prophet Micah indicating that this is a Biblical principle even in the OT

For son treats father contemptuously, Daughter rises up against her mother, Daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; A man’s enemies are the men of his own household. (Micah 7:6-note)

MacArthur rightly warns that "The offense of the gospel often causes those who reject and hate it to make outcasts of even family members who believe it. In Matthew 10:21 Jesus revealed how far family division over Him could go: “Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child; and children will rise up against parents and cause them to be put to death.” But He made the following comforting promise to those who lose their earthly families because of the gospel: “Everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or farms for My name’s sake, will receive many times as much, and will inherit eternal life” (Matt. 19:29)." (MacArthur New Testament Commentary – Luke)

Luke 12:54  And He was also saying to the crowds, "When you see a cloud rising in the west, immediately you say, 'A shower is coming,' and so it turns out.

KJV Luke 12:54 And he said also to the people, When ye see a cloud rise out of the west, straightway ye say, There cometh a shower; and so it is.

A similar passage is found in Matthew

Matthew 16:1-4 The Pharisees and Sadducees came up, and testing Jesus, they asked Him to show them a sign from heaven. 2 But He replied to them, “When it is evening, you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red.’ 3 “And in the morning, ‘There will be a storm today, for the sky is red and threatening.’ Do you know how to discern the appearance of the sky, but cannot discern the signs of the times? 4 “An evil and adulterous generation seeks after a sign; and a sign will not be given it, except the sign of Jonah.” And He left them and went away.  (See John MacArthur's sermon Dealing with Spiritual Blindness - Part 1 - Mt 16:1-4)


John MacArthur sets the context for this last section in Luke 12 explaining that Jesus' previous discourse has been "very evangelistic up to this point, calling people to come to faith in Him, to receive the salvation that He offers and that's why He's speaking to those who were still in the process of coming to that conclusion. But here in Lk 12:54, He opens it up to the crowd and it stops being an invitation because they've already made up their mind and it becomes an indictment.  It becomes a warning directed at them in their unbelief and from here on to the end of this discourse, Lk 13:9; all of it has that same tone of indictment and judgment to fall.  Essentially, up to Lk 12:54, He is inviting Jews to believe. Here, He begins condemning unbelieving Jews and we can extend it beyond that because the Bible is intended for all generations.  Up to this point, He has been inviting people to believe and now He condemns those who do not." (The Failure to Discern the Times and the Threat)

And so in this last section Jesus gives a stern warning to those who can discern natural signs but refuse to discern spiritual signs and as a result will miss the opportunity of a lifetime (like Judas Iscariot cf Mt 26:24, 27:3-5)! The world understands this for they even use the saying in commercials saying "Grab for all the gusto you can, because you only go around once!" Paul alludes to this "once in a lifetime" aspect 

And working together with Him, we also urge you not to receive the grace of God in vain (IMPLICATION? YOU CAN RECEIVE IT "IN VAIN" - ESV Study note "Those who turn back from Christ show that their initial, apparent reception of God’s grace was not real but in vain.") – 2 for He says, “AT THE ACCEPTABLE TIME I LISTENED TO YOU, AND ON THE DAY OF SALVATION I HELPED YOU.” Behold (MEANS "PAY ATTENTION!"), now is “THE ACCEPTABLE TIME,” behold (PAUL USES IT AGAIN TO STRESS THE IMPORT OF HEARING AND HEEDING THESE WORDS!), now is THE DAY OF SALVATION” (2 Cor 6:1-2)

MacArthur comments on Judas Iscariot's lost opportunity of a lifetime (3 years intimately involved with Jesus) - It's unthinkable that a man could waste that kind of opportunity and end up tragically tormented forever and if you think there's torment in hell (AND THERE IS!), imagine the torment of a person like Judas (FOREVER) remembering his wasted opportunity!

And He was also saying to the crowds - In Luke 12:22-55 Jesus spoke directly to His disciples but now shifts His focus to the crowds. Remember these were the most privileged people in the history of the world, for they alone had the gift of seeing Jesus the Man walking among them doing countless miracles that clearly pointed to His divine nature and power. But great privilege always incurs great responsibility and greater accountability (cp Mt 10:15, 11:23-24, Lk 10:12-15). 

Saying - The Greek verb for saying, lego, is in the imperfect tense picturing Jesus speaking to them again and again, over and over. 

When you see a cloud rising in the west, immediately you say, 'A shower is coming,' and so it turns out. - A cloud rising in the west refers to moisture coming from the Mediterranean Sea, indicating a shower is coming. This event is described after Elijah's confrontation with the false prophets of Baal on Mt Carmel:

It came about at the seventh time, that he said, “Behold, a cloud as small as a man’s hand is coming up from the sea.” And he said, “Go up, say to Ahab, ‘Prepare your chariot and go down, so that the heavy shower does not stop you.’” 45 In a little while the sky grew black with clouds and wind, and there was a heavy shower. And Ahab rode and went to Jezreel.(1 Ki 18:44,45)

NET Note on shower - the term ombros refers to heavy rain, such as in a thunderstorm 

Stein - They were blind to the fact that “the blind receive their sight, the lame walk ... the dead are raised, and the good news is preached to the poor” (Lk 7:22; cf. Lk 4:18–21). Yet even Jesus’ opponents knew that his exorcisms meant something and needed to be explained (Lk 11:15). If they had been open to the truth, they would have been able to interpret the present and recognize that God’s kingdom had in fact arrived. (For similar parallels see comments on Lk 7:31–35; 14:15–24.) (Ibid)

Steven Cole - We had better be quick to get on Jesus’ side (Lk 12:54-59). The link between 12:49-53 and this section is that of the coming judgment and the crisis of decision that Jesus’ message precipitates. This section falls into two smaller sections: If we analyze the weather and order our lives by it, we should analyze the times and order our lives accordingly (Lk 12:54-56). In Israel, a cloud from the west came from the Mediterranean Sea and thus brought rain. A south wind came in off the Sinai desert and thus meant a hot day. Jesus then calls them hypocrites because they are able to discern the weather, but they fail to discern the significance of Jesus’ presence in their midst. Geldenhuys (p. 368) explains, “On account of their unbelief and spiritual blindness they do not see the cloud of grace and blessings which appears with Him to all who believe in Him, nor do they observe the glowing heat of the judgment which He brings for those who are disobedient.” The point is, we hear a weather forecast and plan our day accordingly. If we hear that the Son of God has come, bringing salvation to all who believe, but judgment to all who ignore the message, should we not respond by immediately embracing Him? (The Divisive Jesus)

Luke 12:55  "And when you see a south wind blowing, you say, 'It will be a hot day,' and it turns out that way.

 KJV Luke 12:55 And when ye see the south wind blow, ye say, There will be heat; and it cometh to pass.


Parallel passage in Matthew

But He replied to them, “When it is evening, you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red.’ 3“And in the morning, ‘There will be a storm today, for the sky is red and threatening.’ Do you know how to discern the appearance of the sky, but cannot discern the signs (semeion) of the times?(Matt 16:2-3)

And when you see a south wind blowing - The south wind comes from the desert, and thus brings It is called a sirocco and blows from the south southeastern desert bringing scorching heat. (cf. Hos 13:15; Jonah 4:8 = "a scorching east wind"). 

you say, 'It will be a hot day,' and it turns out that way - When the "sign" of the hot winds came it was not difficult to predict it would be a hot day. In other words it was obvious to anyone who had the ability to think. In the next verse Jesus implies with His question that it should have been "obvious" that He was the Messiah of Israel, neither from the west (cloud) or the south (wind) but the Son of God Who came from the "direction" of Heaven at the direction of His Father!

Luke 12:56  "You hypocrites! You know how to analyze the appearance of the earth and the sky, but why do you not analyze this present time?

KJV Luke 12:56 Ye hypocrites, ye can discern the face of the sky and of the earth; but how is it that ye do not discern this time?


You hypocrites! You know how to analyze the appearance of the earth and the sky - What Jesus is saying in essence is that their (the crowd's) sin was not the sin of ignorance, but of willful rejection. It was not that they could not believe but that they were unwilling to believe. 

Hypocrite (5273)(hupokrites from from hupó = under, indicating secrecy + krino = to judge) describes one who acts pretentiously, a counterfeit, a man who assumes and speaks or acts under a feigned character. A hypocrite is someone who pretends to be something he or she is not. He lies about what he really is. The religious leaders' (and peoples') spirituality and loyalty to God were fake, a sham, a counterfeit. It was all external superficial show without any supernatural, life transforming change of their heart. In the context they were hypocrites because they with minimal evidence (cloud, hot wind), they could make a correct assessment. But Jesus had given them "maximum evidence," yea, even miraculous evidence, and they still pretended (hypocritically) to not have enough evidence that He was the Messiah (cf Lk 11:16-note, Lk 11:29-30-note)! 

Will Durant on hypokrites - The actor – who is always a male – is not disdained as in Rome, but is much honored; he is exempt from military service, and is allowed safe passage through the lines in time of war. He is called hypocrites, but this word means answerer – i.e., to the chorus; only later will the actor’s role as an impersonator lead to the use of the word as meaning hypocrite. (The Story of Civilization II, The Life of Greece, by Will Durant, page 380)

Jesus used this description 4 times in Luke (Most uses are in Matthew - Mt. 6:2,5,16; 7:5; 15:7; 22:18; 23:13-15,23,25,27,29; 24:51; Mk. 7:6)

Luke 6:42 “Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me take out the speck that is in your eye,’ when you yourself do not see the log that is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take out the speck that is in your brother’s eye.

Luke 12:1 Under these circumstances, after so many thousands of people had gathered together that they were stepping on one another, He began saying to His disciples first of all, “Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy.

Luke 13:15 But the Lord answered him and said, “You hypocrites, does not each of you on the Sabbath untie his ox or his donkey from the stall and lead him away to water him?

Related Resources:

But why do you not analyze this present time? - They could analyze the natural signs, but not the supernatural, in fact claiming they did not have enough signs (as noted above). They could not analyze the Supernatural One Who was performing countless miraculous signs in their midst. 

Analyze (1381)(dokimazo from dokimos = tested, proved or approved, tried as metals by fire and thus purified from dechomai = to accept, receive) means to assay, to test, to prove, to put to the test, to make a trial of, to verify, to discern to approve. Dokimazo involves not only testing but determining the genuineness or value of an event or object. That which has been tested is demonstrated to be genuine and trustworthy. Dokimazo means to make a critical examination of something to determine its genuineness. Dokimazo was used in a manuscript of 140AD which contains a plea for the exemption of physicians, and especially of those who have passed the examination (dokimazo). Dokimazo was thus used as a technical expression referring to the action of an examining board putting its approval upon those who had successfully passed the examinations for the degree of Doctor of Medicine. Dokimazo was also used to describe the passing of a candidate as fit for election to public office.

This present time - What was this time? This was the three year "slice of time" in which God invaded earth becoming a Man, for all Israel to see and consider as to whether He was the Messiah. This opportunity (meaning of "kairos" - see below) would soon pass to see the Messiah in person. In essence the opportunity was from His birth to His death, but especially the last 3 years of His ministry filled with miraculous signs. From the very outset of His ministry Jesus made it clear Who He was and what His mission was. We see His first "official sermon" in Luke 4

And He came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up; and as was His custom, He entered the synagogue on the Sabbath, and stood up to read. 17 And the book of the prophet Isaiah was handed to Him. And He opened the book and found the place where it was written,  18 “THE SPIRIT OF THE LORD IS UPON ME, BECAUSE HE ANOINTED ME TO PREACH THE GOSPEL TO THE POOR. HE HAS SENT ME TO PROCLAIM RELEASE TO THE CAPTIVES, AND RECOVERY OF SIGHT TO THE BLIND, TO SET FREE THOSE WHO ARE OPPRESSED,  19 TO PROCLAIM THE FAVORABLE YEAR OF THE LORD (MESSIAH'S FIRST COMING).”  20 And He closed the book, gave it back to the attendant and sat down; and the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on Him. 21 And He began to say to them, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”  (Luke 4:16-21-note)

Comment: However when Jesus made a reference to the Gentiles (Lk 4:25-27-note) "all the people in the synagogue were filled with rage as they heard these things." (Lk 4:28-note) The Jews were spiritually prideful and His indictment infuriated them so after just one sermon they sought to kill Him (Lk 4:29-note), the One Who came to show them the favorable year of the Lord and how to find favor with God! (cf similar reaction in John 8:58, 59)

MacArthur explains - There's no way to escape it.  "How," He says, "in the world can you make conclusions with minimal evidence that are accurate and not make the conclusion that is inescapable about this?  Why will you not sit down and analyze it?  Why will you not discern it?"  They wouldn't. They didn't want to know who He was. They wanted to accept their preconception. Why? Because He attacked their religious system.  He stomped on their self-righteousness. It wasn't that they didn't want a kingdom; sure they wanted a kingdom. It wasn't that they didn't want salvation; they wanted salvation.  It wasn't that they didn't want forgiveness and eternal life.  They want all that. It wasn't the cure they hated; it was the diagnosis they resented. (The Failure to Discern the Times and the Threat)

Present Time (2540) (kairos) means a point of time or period of time, time, period, frequently with the implication of being especially fit for something and without emphasis on precise chronology. It means a moment or period as especially appropriate the right, proper, favorable time (at the right time). A season. A point of time. A moment. An opportunity. Something that lasts for a season and so is transient, temporary or enduring only for a specific period of time.

Kairos is not so much a succession of minutes (Greek chronos 5550), but a period of opportunityChronos refers to chronological time, to clock time or calendar time, to a general space or succession of time. Kairos, on the other hand, refers to a specific and often predetermined period or moment of time and so views time in terms of events, eras, or seasons, such as the times of the Gentiles (see below) In other words, kairos defines the best time to do something, the moment when circumstances are most suitable, the psychologically "ripe" moment.

Kairos is occasionally translated opportunity in the NAS. (See also related word eukaira translated "good opportunity" in Mt 26:16Lk 22:6) The English word opportunity has a fascinating origin. Hundreds of years ago when living by the sea was critically important to everyday business and industry, the word opportunity was first coined. Time-tables for everything from commerce to transportation depended on the rise and fall of tides. The specific time when the water was deep enough to sail out to sea was known as ob portu-when time and tide converged. As believers, our lives are filled with God given opportunities, those moments for example when an urgent need converges with your ability to help meet that need. If you have the eyes to recognize that opportunity, you can seize the moment and redeem the time for the glory of God, joining in with Him where He is at work. As we learn to recognize and choose to join God when He presents us with an ob portu moment, we begin to enter into the fullness of joy He desires for our Christian life.

Shakespeare alluded to the idea of ob portu when he wrote these classic lines…

There is a tide in the affairs of men,
Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune;
Omitted, all the voyage of their life
Is bound in shallows and in miseries.
(Julius Caesar, 4.3.217)

Another source notes that our English word opportunity comes from the Latin and means “toward the port.” It suggests a ship taking advantage of the wind and tide to arrive safely in the harbor. The brevity of life is a strong argument for making the best use of every opportunity God gives us.

An old Chinese adage says - Opportunity has a forelock so you can seize it when you meet it. Once it is past, you cannot seize it again.

Some other common sayings that convey a similar thought include…

  • "Strike while the iron is hot"
  • "There is no time like the present"
  • "He who hesitates is lost."

Luke 12:57  "And why do you not even on your own initiative judge what is right?

KJV Luke 12:57 Yea, and why even of yourselves judge ye not what is right?

Why is Jesus telling this story? In context He had just said to the crowd that they should have known, they should have believed because they had more than enough evidence for a proper verdict on His identity. So now he uses a law court analogy, to demonstrate that their failure to discern while they had a "golden opportunity" had serious consequences. 

And why do you not even on your own initiative judge what is right - Jesus asks a rhetorical question which calls for personal reflection.

MacArthur says this question "was a challenge for each person there to examine his or her life. Specifically, He called them to judge what is right, by examining their lives with reference to sin. By way of illustration, Jesus chose a situation they would all have been familiar with."

As Hendriksen says "each person has to make his own individual decision, and what an important decision it is. The preceding context has driven home the following truths: It is necessary for everyone to ask himself the question, "Am I a faithful or unfaithful servant" (verses 41-46)? The hour of crisis has arrived (verse 49). You must choose sides (verses 52, 53). God is speaking to you in the present critical hour (verses 54-56).In harmony with all this, Jesus is winding up his address with a dramatic appeal to every listener, urging him to make his peace with God; to do so now, before it is too late. Note change of y o u (plural in Lk 12:57) to you (singular in Lk 12:58ff). To each person Jesus is saying, "Be reconciled to God."

NET Note on and - This unit probably does connect to the previous one - thus the translation of (de) here as "And" - to make a good spiritual assessment, thus calling for application to the spiritual, rather than personal, realm. 

Judge (decide, determine)(2919)(krino) primarily signifies to distinguish, to decide between (in the sense of considering two or more things and reaching a decision), to make up one's mind. 

Right (just) (1342)(dikaios from dike = right, just) defines that which is in accordance with high standards of rectitude. It is that which is in right relation to another and so in reference to persons defines the one who is morally and ethically righteous, upright or just

Steven Cole - The second section underscores the need to get on Jesus’ side quickly, before it is too lateIf we are quick to settle an unfavorable case against us in civil matters, how much more quickly should we settle God’s case against us before it is too late (Lk 12:57-59). Jesus asks a rhetorical question and then illustrates His point. When Jesus asks the crowd, “Why do you not even on your own initiative judge what is right?” He is not implying that unbelievers can, of their own free will and intelligence, decide to follow Him. Jesus taught (Lk 10:22) that “no one knows who the Son is except the Father and who the Father is except the Son, and anyone to whom the Son wills to reveal Him.” Jesus is not contradicting Himself here. Salvation depends on God’s sovereign will, not on man’s darkened human will or intelligence. What Jesus means here is, “You don’t have to blindly follow the Pharisees on spiritual matters.” He is urging them to consider His claims for themselves. Then He uses an illustration. (Lk 12:58-59) The assumption is that your opponent has a good case against you so that if it reaches the judge, you’re going to get thrown into prison and you never will get out. The Roman Catholics use this illustration to argue for Purgatory (See Does the Bible say anything about purgatory?), where a sinner can pay off his sins. But that only shows how hard pressed they are to come up with support for such an unbiblical concept! Jesus’ point is simple: If you know that someone has a case against you, settle up before it is too late. From the context we know that Jesus wants us to apply this spiritually. God has a case against every sinner. We owe Him for our debt of sin. Jesus’ death on the cross is the only acceptable settlement. If we discerned the times, we would know that now is the day of salvation. God is offering to settle in full His claim with any sinner who will trust in Jesus Christ. But if we do not settle, there will be no escape on the day of judgment. We will never get out of hell because our debt is infinite since it is against an infinitely holy God. The person who discerns the true situation will be quick to get on Jesus’ side.
Conclusion - During a training session for soldiers who were about to make their first parachute jump, the sergeant explained how to open the reserve chute if the main chute didn’t open. A private nervously raised his hand and asked, “Sergeant, if my main chute doesn’t open, how long do I have to pull my reserve?” The sergeant looked directly into the young private’s eyes and replied earnestly, “The rest of your life, soldier. The rest of your life.” (In Reader’s Digest, February, 1982.) If you have not trusted in Christ as your only hope for forgiveness on the day of judgment, you are like that soldier plunging toward earth. Either you accept Jesus as your sin bearer and you are reconciled to God; or, you will come into God’s court of justice and pay your own debt, which is eternal separation from Him. How long do you have to get on Jesus’ side? The answer is, the rest of your life! Jesus has drawn the line. Will you trust Him now before it is too late?
Discussion Questions
  1. Why is the theme of judgment a necessary part of the gospel?
  2. Which doctrines are so essential to the faith that we must divide when others deny these doctrines?
  3. Why is the message of the cross offensive to sinners? What is the difference between people being offended at the message versus the messenger?
  4. Where is the balance between being urgent about the gospel and giving people the necessary time to respond? (The Divisive Jesus)

Luke 12:58  "For while you are going with your opponent to appear before the magistrate, on your way there make an effort to settle with him, so that he may not drag you before the judge, and the judge turn you over to the officer, and the officer throw you into prison.

KJV Luke 12:58 When thou goest with thine adversary to the magistrate, as thou art in the way, give diligence that thou mayest be delivered from him; lest he hale thee to the judge, and the judge deliver thee to the officer, and the officer cast thee into prison.

  • For while you are going with your opponent to appear before the magistrate Pr 25:8,9; Mt 5:23-26
  • on your way there make an effort to settle with him Luke 14:31,32; Ge 32:3-28; 1 Sa 25:18-35; Job 22:21; 23:7; Ps 32:6; Pr 6:1-5; Isa 55:6; 2 Cor 6:2; Heb 3:7-13
  • so that he may not drag you before the judge, and the judge turn you over to the officer Luke 13:24-28; Job 36:17,18; Ps 50:22
  • the officer throw you into prison Mt 18:30; 1 Pet 3:19; Rev 20:7
  • Luke 12 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries
  • Luke 12:49-59 The Divisive Jesus - Steven Cole
  • ​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Luke 12:54-59 The Failure to Discern the Times and the Threat - John MacArthur

We see a similar passage in Matthew in Galilee (whereas the current discourse in Luke 12 is in Judea)

Mt 5:23 “Therefore if you are presenting your offering at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, 24 leave your offering there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your offering. 25 (note) “Make friends quickly with your opponent at law while you are with him on the way, so that your opponent may not hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the officer, and you be thrown into prison. 26 “Truly I say to you, you will not come out of there until you have paid up the last cent. 


Forterm of explanation

While you are going with your opponent to appear before the magistrate - Having been in a lawsuit, this sentence congers up all manner of horrible memories and sleepless nights. It would doubtless stir emotions in the pit of the stomach of many in the crowd. But it would be so easy to miss Jesus' point here, for He is not referring primarily to earthly courts but to the ultimate heavenly court, the Great White Throne judgment of God in Revelation 20: 11-15! He is using the earthly picture to drive home the point that as bad as an earthly lawsuit can be, a "lawsuit" with God is incomparably worse and does not have temporal but eternal consequences! You want to settle this case with God before you have to stand trial at the Great White Throne! And there is only one way to "settle" to be reconciled to God.

Paul explains the way to be reconciled to God writing 

And although you were formerly alienated and hostile in mind, engaged in evil deeds,  yet He has now reconciled you in His fleshly body through death, in order to present you before Him holy and blameless and beyond reproach. (Col 1:21-22)

And writing to the saints at Corinth

Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ, and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, 19  namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation. (2 Cor 5:18-19)

John alludes to the One Who reconciles us in his first epistle writing

My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; 2 and He Himself is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world. (1 John 2:1-2-note)

If Jesus is your Advocate, your divine "Lawyer," then the charges against you will be imputed to His infinite account and you will be set free and reconciled with God forever and ever. Amen

Opponent (Adversary)(476)(antidikos from anti = against + dike = a cause or suit at law) was used first as a word for an opponent in a lawsuit and then came to mean an adversary or enemy without reference to legal affairs. It describes one who is actively and continuously hostile toward someone. An adversary is one that contends with, opposes, or resists.

Antidikos - 4x in NT - Matt. 5:25; Lk. 12:58; 18:3; 1 Pet. 5:8 = "Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour."

The magistrate (archon)  refers to one who received complaints and possessed higher authority than the judge, to whom the he remitted the case if he found sufficient evidence.

Magistrate (758)(archon from present participle of archo = to rule) describes  one who has eminence in a ruling capacity, referring to earthly figures ( Mt 20:25) such as rulers (Acts 4:26),  Moses ( Acts 7:27, 35), of Christ as the ruler of the kings of the earth (Rev 1:5). Archon refers to one who has administrative authority (Ro 13:3; Titus 1:9), including Jewish leaders (Acts 23:5 = reference to the high priest, Lk 8:41 = "an official of the synagogue;" Mt 9:18, 23 = ruler over a synagogue), members of the Sanhedrin (Lk 18:18, 23:13, 35, 24:20), of Gentile officials (Acts 16:19).  Archon refers to the devil as ruler over the demons in Mt 9:34; 12:24; Mk 3:22; Lk 11:15 and Eph 2:2 "the PRINCE (archon) of the power of the air.". 

In classical Greek archōn functions primarily as a term for a civil official (e.g., a city magistrate), but it could denote a leader or commander in general (Liddell-Scott).

Gilbrant on archon - The Gospels show that archōn could mean “leader” in the civil sense (e.g., Mt 20:25; Lk 12:58; Jn 3:1) or religious sense (Mt 9:18,23; Lk 23:13; 24:20). But they also reveal that the writers understood archōn in the “supernatural” sense to refer to unseen, demonic powers which “ruled” the world (e.g., Mt 9:34; 12:24; Lk 11:15; John 12:31; 14:30; 16:11 [“the ruler of this world”]). Acts reflects the official civil and religious understanding (Acts 3:17; 4:5,8; 14:5). Paul used archōn of Roman government officials (Ro 13:3). But in 1 Cor 2:6,8 it is unclear whether he was referring to demonic forces which rule the world (cf. “of this world,” Jn 12:31; 14:30; 16:11, with “of this age”) or to civil powers which actually control the affairs of men. Perhaps both the spiritual “powers” as well as their human vessels were in view. In Ephesians 2:2 the reference is to the “prince” or “ruler” (NIV) of the power of the air (realm of evil forces). Revelation 1:5 archōn is applied to Jesus Christ, the “ruler of the kings of the earth”

Archon - 37x in 36v - authorities(1), leaders(1), magistrate(1), official(2), official's(1), prince(1), ruler(1), ruler(13), rulers(16).

Mt. 9:18,23,34; 12:24; 20:25; Mk. 3:22; Lk. 8:41; 11:15; 12:58; 14:1; 18:18; 23:13,35; 24:20; Jn. 3:1; 7:26,48; 12:31,42; 14:30; 16:11; Acts 3:17; 4:5,8,26; 7:27,35; 13:27; 14:5; 16:19; 23:5; Ro. 13:3; 1 Co 2:6,8; Eph. 2:2; Rev. 1:5

Gilbrant says the Septuagint usage (used over 500 times - Ge 12:15, 14:7, Ex 2:14, etc) largely conforms to classical usage. Archōn denotes the leaders of tribes or nations (e.g., Numbers 2:3ff., 34:18ff.); often it was equal to nāsî’ in those cases. Two other Hebrew terms translated by archōn are rō’sh and sar (both meaning something like “chief, governor, ruler”). There is also a trend in the Septuagint to associate archōn with religious duties (Isaiah 43:28). Daniel begins to link the idea of archōn and celestial beings (Daniel 10:13). “To a large extent the archontes are opponents of the people of God” (ibid.).

On your way there make an effort to settle with him - This would avoid having to appear before the legal authorities and risk an adverse outcome when the judge issued his verdict. 

Stein - If this is a “parable” (or a similitude), however, then the reality part would refer to the present eschatological situation. God’s kingdom has come! Therefore make peace now with God, the Judge, while there is yet time. If you delay, it will be too late. The adversary, magistrate, and officer in the picture part of the parable do not have a corresponding reality but are simply part of the story’s local coloring. In light of the eschatological context given in Lk 11:54–56, it is best to interpret this as a parable. (Ibid)

So that (term of purpose or resulthe may not drag you before the judge, and the judge turn you over to the officer - The judge would decide the case and if the accused was guilty he would be turned over to the officer in charge of the "debtor's prison." 

And the officer throw you into prison - Prison could be avoided if one had made an effort to settle with the opponent. 

NET Note on officer - The officer praktor was a civil official who functioned like a bailiff and was in charge of debtor's prison. The use of the term, however, does not automatically demand a Hellenistic setting

Prison (5438)(phulake from phulasso = to guard, watch) means a guarding (the act of guarding or keeping watch - Lk 2:8, Nu 1:53, 3:7, 28) or guard (the person doing the watching - Acts 12:10) , a prison as a place where someone is guarded (Mt 5:25, 14:3, 10, 18:30, 25:36, 39, 43, etc).

Stein - It is better to seek a settlement with one’s accuser than to appear before a judge. A decision should be made while there is time. Because of the arrival of God’s kingdom (Lk 12:53–56), it is time to get one’s life in order and be reconciled to God (Lk 12:58).

John Martin - Jesus used an illustration of a law court to drive home the point that people need to be rightly related to God. Even in the earthly sphere it makes sense to make an effort to settle with an opponent—even on the way... to the magistrate—in order to avoid being thrown into prison and having to pay the last penny. How much more important it is to "be reconciled" when the opponent is God! (The Bible Knowledge Commentary)

Rod Mattoon - The Jews did not heed the warning of the Lord. They rejected Christ as their Messiah and judgment came upon these people. Jerusalem and the Temple were destroyed by the Romans in 70 A.D. The prophecy of Christ was fulfilled. Luke 19:43-44.... For the days shall come upon thee, that thine enemies shall cast a trench about thee, and compass thee round, and keep thee in on every side, [44] And shall lay thee even with the ground, and thy children within thee; and they shall not leave in thee one stone upon another; because thou knewest not the time of thy visitation. In 135 A.D., the Jewish people believed that Bar Kokhba was their Messiah. He led the people into an insurrection against Rome and the Jews were totally defeated and expelled from Israel. The national life of Israel came to an end. The Jewish people were scattered all over the world for the next 1800 years, until 1948, when they became a nation again. The prophecy of Ezekiel in Ezekiel 37 was fulfilled. God's people, however, are still paying the price for their rejection of Christ and will continue to do so until He returns. In the Tribulation period, two-thirds of the Jewish people will be destroyed by the Anti-Christ. The remaining one-third will be rescued by the return of the Lord Jesus Christ Himself.

Zechariah 13:8-9 And it shall come to pass, that in all the land, saith the Lord, two parts therein shall be cut off and die; but the third shall be left therein. And I will bring the third part through the fire, and will refine them as silver is refined, and will try them as gold is tried: they shall call on my name, and I will hear them: I will say, It is my people: and they shall say, The Lord is my God.

Jesus' message to urgently make matters right with God applies to us today. If you do not know Christ as your Savior, you have a sin debt that must be paid. The price is death. The only hope for any sinner is to seek Christ's forgiveness and accept His gift of eternal life. Make your choice today!

Luke 12:59  "I say to you, you will not get out of there until you have paid the very last cent."

KJV Luke 12:59 I tell thee, thou shalt not depart thence, till thou hast paid the very last mite.

I say to you, you will not get out of there until you have paid the very last cent - This is a severe sentence. And if Jesus is indeed referring to the "prison" of eternal punishment, there is no getting out of there. Luke records Abraham's answer to the rich man's question (in hell) in Lk 16:26 

And besides all this, between us and you there is a great chasm fixed, so that those who wish to come over from here to you will not be able, and that none may cross over from there to us.’

NET Note on cent - Here the English word "cent" is used as opposed to the parallel in Matt 5:26 where "penny" appears, since the Greek word there is different and refers to a different but similar coin. This cent was a lepton, the smallest coin available. It was copper or bronze, worth one-half of a quadrans or 1/128 of a denarius. The parallel in Matt 5:26 mentions the quadrans instead of the lepton. The illustration refers to the debt one owes God and being sure to settle with him in the right time, before it is too late. Some interpreters, however, consider it to be like Matt 5:26, which has similar imagery but a completely different context. 

MacArthur applies the Lord's illustration in Lk 12:57-59) - The Lord’s point is that those who properly assess themselves will discern their issues of guilt before they stand before the judge and he settles them. In a spiritual sense, this pictures sinners on their way to the great white throne judgment, where they will be found guilty and sentenced to eternal punishment in hell (Rev. 20:11-15). Jesus urges them to carefully discern the horrendous threat of that judgment and embrace the gospel message before it is too late. As the writer of Hebrews warns, “It is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment” (Heb. 9:27). In the face of this terrifying reality God offers the good news of salvation—free and complete pardon to all who believe in Jesus Christ (2 Cor. 5:18-20; Col. 2:13-14; 1 Peter 2:24). Those who accept that pardon and trust in Him will never face judgment (John 5:24; Rom. 5:1; 8:1), since He bore God’s just wrath against all the sins of all who would ever believe and fully satisfied the demands of God’s justice (Rom. 3:26; 2 Cor. 5:21). God showed His approval of that accomplishment by raising Him from the dead (1 Thess. 1:10). As John Calvin eloquently wrote, “By His obedience, He has wiped off our transgressions; by His sacrifice, appeased the divine anger; by His blood, washed away our sins; by His cross, borne our curse; and by His death, made satisfaction for us” (“Calvin’s Reply to Sadoleto,” in John C. Olin, ed., A Reformation Debate). Therefore sinners can confidently heed the call to “seek the Lord while He may be found; call upon Him while He is near” (Isa. 55:6; cf. 2 Cor. 6:2), trusting in Jesus’ promise that “the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out” (John 6:37). (MacArthur New Testament Commentary)

Wiersbe - Anyone will do whatever is necessary to stay out of prison, but how many people will apply that same concern and diligence to stay out of hell? If lawyers and judges would examine God's Word as diligently as they examine their law books, they will gain a wisdom that the law cannot give. The nation of Israel was marching to judgment, and the Judge was Almighty God, yet they would not seek for terms of peace (Luke 13:34-35). Jesus knew that the Roman armies would come to destroy the city and the temple (Luke 19:41-44), but He could not convince the people to repent. Their debt was mounting up and they would pay the last mite. We must apply these truths to our own lives personally. If we knew a storm was coming, we would prepare for it. If we knew the officer was coming to take us to court, we would get a lawyer and try to settle the case out of court. The storm of God's wrath is coming, and the Judge is already standing before the door (James 5:9). "Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation" (2 Cor. 6:2). (Ibid)

Stein summarizes Luke's message - Luke’s view of the realized dimension of God’s kingdom was clear in this passage. The “signs” of the kingdom were present for all to see (Lk 12:56). They were not the “signs from heaven” Jesus’ opponents demanded (Lk 11:16), but they were signs nonetheless and could have been seen by those with eyes to see. What the OT promised was coming to pass. A great reversal was taking place (Lk 4:18–21; 7:22–23). This passage builds on prior passages that speak of the kingdom having come and will be reinforced by those that follow. More than any other Synoptic Gospel, Luke emphasized the “already now” of God’s kingdom.In light of the eschatological situation, Luke stressed the need for reconciliation with God. In the urgency of the present time it was dangerous to delay. The parable in Lk 12:58 urges such reconciliation even more strongly than its parallel in Matthew. Although exactly how that reconciliation comes about is not described in this passage, one need not look hard in Luke’s writings to discover what the required response is. One must repent, ridding oneself of anything that might be an encumbrance to following Jesus, and one must believe with a whole heart. (Ibid)