12:1 In the mean time1, when the many thousands of the multitude were gathered together2, insomuch that they trod one upon another, he began to say unto his disciples first of all3, Beware ye of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy4. CONCERNING HYPOCRISY, WORLDLY ANXIETY, WATCHFULNESS, AND HIS APPROACHING PASSION. (Galilee.) Luke 12:1-59
In the mean time. That is, while these things were occurring in the
When the many thousands of the multitude were gathered together,
insomuch that they trod one upon another. In their eagerness to get
near enough to Jesus to see and hear.
He began to say unto his disciples first of all. That is, as the
first or most appropriate lesson.
Beware ye of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy. This
admonition is the key to the understanding of the principal part of the
sermon which follows. The spirit of Pharisaism was one which sought the
honor of men, and feared men rather than God. It was a spirit which yield to
public opinion, and, though seemingly very religious, was really devoid of
all true loyalty to God. There were trials and persecutions ahead of
Christ's followers in which no Pharisaic spirit could survive. The spirit of
hypocrisy works in two ways: it causes the bad man to hid his badness for
fear of the good man, and the good man to hide his goodness for fear of the
bad man. It is this latter operation against which Jesus warns, and he
follow of which he shows.
whatsoever ye have said in the darkness shall be heard in the light; and what ye
have spoken in the ear in the inner chambers1 shall
be proclaimed upon the housetops2.
Wherefore whatsoever ye have said in the darkness shall be heard in the
light; and what ye have spoken in the ear in the inner chambers. Many
fearing the storm of persecution which was soon to come upon the disciples
would attempt to conceal their faith, but the attempt would be vain, for one
could not even trust his own family (Luke
12:51-53) to keep silent about what was said even in the inner chambers
of the home. Bold speech would be best.
Shall be proclaimed upon the housetops. The flat tops of Eastern
houses were places from whence public proclamations were made.
12:4 And I say unto you my friends, Be
not afraid of them that kill the body1, and after that
have no more that they can do.
Be not afraid of them that kill the body. It would be a time of
fear, but the fear of God must dominate the fear of man. Also see Luke
12:5 But I will
warn you whom ye shall fear: Fear him, who after he hath killed hath power to
cast into hell; yea, I say unto you, Fear him1.
But I will warn you whom ye shall fear: Fear him, who after he hath
killed hath power to cast into hell; yea, I say unto you, Fear him. The
fear of God should cause them to speak out, though the fear of man bade them
be silent (Acts
12:6 Are not five
sparrows sold for two pence1? and not one of them is
forgotten in the sight of God.
Are not five sparrows sold for two pence? The Roman "as",
here rendered "penny", was worth about four-fifths of a cent. Two
sparrows were sold for a penny (Matthew
10:29). For two pennies, an extra one was thrown into the bargain, yet
even it, so valueless, was not forgotten of God.
12:7 But the very
hairs of your head are all numbered1. Fear
not2: ye are of more value than many sparrows.
But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. These words
assured them that whatever they might be called upon to undergo they would
be at all times the objects of God's special care and providence.
Fear not. See Luke
12:8 And I say unto you, Every
one who shall confess me before men, him shall the Son of man also confess
before the angels of God1:
Every one who shall confess me before men, him shall the Son of man
also confess before the angels of God. These words were intended to
strengthen those who loved honor or feared disgrace.
12:9 but he that
denieth me in the presence of men shall be denied in the presence of the angels
But he that denieth me in the presence of men shall be denied in the
presence of the angels of God. If the disgrace of being cast out of the
synagogue tempted them to deny Christ, or the honors given by their
fellow-men seemed too precious to be sanctified for Christ's sake, they were
to remember that the confession or denial of Jesus involved eternal honor or
disgrace in the presence of the angelic host.
12:10 And every
one who shall speak a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him1:
but unto him that blasphemeth against the Holy Spirit
it shall not be forgiven2.
And every one who shall speak a word against the Son of man, it shall
be forgiven him. Persecution would urge them to blasphemy (Acts
26:11). In his hour of trial a disciple must remember the tender
compassion of the Master against whom he is urged to speak, and the extreme
danger of passing beyond the line of forgiveness in his blasphemy.
But unto him that blasphemeth against the Holy Spirit it shall not be
forgiven. See Matthew
12:11 And when they bring you before
the synagogues1, and the rulers, and the authorities, be
not anxious how or what ye shall answer, or what ye shall say2:
Before the synagogues. See Mark
Be not anxious how or what ye shall answer, or what ye shall say.
The captive disciple planning his defense would be tempted to attempt
hypocritical concealment or dissimulation. To prevent this, Jesus admonishes
his hearers to rely upon the Holy Spirit for their utterance at such times.
How fully such reliance was honored is shown in the apology of Stephen
before the Sanhedrin (Acts
7:2-53), in Peter's defense before the tribunal (Acts
4:8-20), and in Paul's justification of his course, both before Felix (Acts
24:10-21) and Agrippa (Acts
26:1-29). See also Matthew
12:13 And one out
of the multitude said unto him, Teacher, bid my brother divide the inheritance
And one out of the multitude said unto him, Teacher, bid my brother
divide the inheritance with me. Some one in the multitude, seeing the
authority and justice of Jesus, thought it would be wise to appeal to him to
assist him in getting his brother to rightly divide the inheritance.
12:14 But he said unto him, Man,
who made me a judge or a divider over you1?
Man, who made me a judge or a divider over you? Jesus laid down the
general laws of justice and generosity, but he did not enforce these laws by
any other power than love (John
14:15). If love toward Jesus did not move this brother to rightly divide
the inheritance, the injured party must look to the state and not to Jesus
12:15 And he said unto them, Take
heed, and keep yourselves from all covetousness1: for
a man's life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth2.
Take heed, and keep yourselves from all covetousness. Jesus made
the incident the text for an admonition. Covetousness made one brother say,
"Divide", and the other one say, "No, I will not"; so
Jesus warned against covetousness.
For a man's life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he
possesseth. A man's goods are no part of his life, and so they cannot
preserve it. It is lengthened or shortened, blessed or cursed, at the decree
of God. Covetousness is an inordinate desire for earthly possession. Though
all ages have committed it, it is the besetting sin of our time. A clear
view of the limitations of the power of property quenches covetousness; and
Jesus gives such a view in the following parable.
12:16 And he spake a parable unto them,
saying, The ground of a certain rich man brought forth
The ground of a certain rich man brought forth plentifully. This
man's sin was not theft or extortion. His wealth came to him honestly as a
blessing from God.
12:17 and he reasoned within himself,
saying, What shall I do, because I have not where to
bestow my fruits1?
What shall I do, because I have not where to bestow my fruits? His
words betray his sin--his covetousness.
12:18 And he
said, This will I do1: I will
pull down my barns, and build greater; and there will I bestow all my grain and
And he said, This will I do, etc. It is a short speech, but it
reveals character. The man's selfishness is shown in that he uses the
pronoun "I" six times, and says nothing of anyone else. His
covetous love of possessions is shown by the word "my", which he
uses five times. Compare his words with those of Nabal at 1 Samuel
I will pull down my barns, and build greater; and there will I bestow
all my grain and my goods. The Eastern barn is a pit or dry cistern
built underground with an opening at the top. These the man proposed to
enlarge by pulling down the walls or sides and extending them.
12:19 And I will
say to my soul1, Soul, thou hast
much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease2, eat,
drink, be merry.
And I will say to my soul. In his speech to his soul he asserts his
trust that his "abundance" is a guarantee of "many
years" of happy life; but it did not guarantee one day.
Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease,
eat, drink, be merry. See Proverbs
12:20 But God
said unto him1, Thou foolish one2,
this night is thy soul required of thee3;
and the things which thou hast prepared, whose shall
But God said unto him. God may be represented as saying what he
Thou foolish one. His folly was shown in several ways: (1) He
hoarded his goods instead of using them for his fellowman; (2) ownership of
goods deceived him into thinking that he owned time also; (3) he thought to
satisfy the hunger of the soul with the food of the body; (4) in commanding
his soul in such a way as to show that he forgot that God could command it
This night is thy soul required of thee. The man said "many
12:19), but God said "this night".
And the things which thou hast prepared, whose shall they be? Death
generally scatters possessions broadcast (Psalms
2:18,19). For an echo of these words see James
12:21 So is he
that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God1.
So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward
God. To be rich in character is to be rich toward God. But we may be
rich toward him by making him the repository of our hopes and expectations.
12:22 And he said
unto his disciples1, Therefore I say unto you, Be
not anxious for [your] life, what ye shall eat; nor yet for your body, what ye
shall put on2.
And he said unto his disciples. This passage (excepting
Be not anxious for [your] life, what ye shall eat; nor yet for your
body, what ye shall put on. See Matthew
12:23 For the
life is more than the food, and the body than the raiment1.
For the life is more than the food, and the body than the raiment.
the ravens1, that they sow not, neither reap; which have
no store-chamber nor barn; and God feedeth them: of how much more value are ye
than the birds!
Consider the ravens, etc. See Matthew
12:25 And which
of you by being anxious can add a cubit unto the measure of his life1?
And which of you by being anxious can add a cubit unto the measure of
his life? See Matthew
12:26 If then ye
are not able to do even that which is least, why are ye anxious concerning the
If then ye are not able to do even that which is least, why are ye
anxious concerning the rest? If you cannot add one little moment to your
life, why should you be anxious about the smaller concerns of property?
the lilies, how they grow: they toil not, neither do they spin1;
yet I say unto you, Even Solomon in all his glory was
not arrayed like one of these2.
Consider the lilies, how they grow: they toil not, neither do they spin.
Even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.
12:28 But if God doth so clothe the
grass in the field1, which to-day is, and to-morrow is
cast into the oven; how much more [shall he clothe] you, O ye of little faith?
The grass in the field, etc. See Matthew
12:29 And seek
not ye what ye shall eat, and what ye shall drink, neither be ye of doubtful
And seek not ye what ye shall eat, and what ye shall drink, neither be
ye of doubtful mind. See Matthew
12:30 For all
these things do the nations of the world seek after1: but
your Father knoweth that ye have need of these things.
For all these things do the nations of the world seek after, etc.
12:31 Yet seek ye
his kingdom, and these things shall be added unto you1.
Yet seek ye his kingdom, and these things shall be added unto you.
12:32 Fear not1,
little flock2; for
it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom3.
Fear not. See Luke
Little flock. "Mikros poimnion", the Greek for
"little flock", is a double diminutive, indicating at once the
extreme smallness of the band of disciples, and also the tenderness of the
Master for them.
For it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom. They
are exhorted to remember that they are the heirs of the heavenly kingdom,
and that their treasures are there.
12:33 Sell that which ye have, and give
alms; make for yourselves purses which wax not old2,
a treasure in the heavens that faileth not3,
where no thief draweth near, neither moth destroyeth4.
Sell what ye have, and give alms. The disciples are told to sell
their possessions and give, because their official position in the kingdom
at that time required it. Compare 1 Corinthians
Make for yourselves purses which wax not old. Purses were bound to
the girdles, so that if a hole wore in them, their contents were lost.
A treasure in the heavens that faileth not. See Matthew
Where no thief draweth near, neither moth destroyeth. See Matthew
12:34 For where
your treasure is, there will your heart be also1.
For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. See Matthew
6:21. Having discussed the folly of amassing and trusting in earthly
riches, and the wisdom of trusting in God, and amassing heavenly riches,
Jesus passes to a new theme; viz.: a watchful service and its rewards. He
may have been led into this theme by some interruption, such as that given
12:13 or that at (Luke 12:41
), or it may have been suggested to him by his own words about the
little flock and the kingdom. The kingdom was not to come in a day, and the
little flock must watch patiently and serve faithfully before his coming (Luke
12:35 Let your
loins be girded about1, and your
Let your loins be girded about. The long Oriental robe had to be
lifted up and girded at the waist before the feet could step quickly (1 Kings
And your lamps burning. This was needful; for Oriental weddings
take place at night.
12:36 and be ye yourselves like unto men
looking for their lord, when he shall return from the marriage feast; that, when
he cometh and knocketh, they may straightway open unto him1.
When he cometh and knocketh, they may straightway open unto him.
Thus honoring him by a speedy welcome.
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 sit down to meat, and shall come and serve
He shall gird himself, and make them sit down to meat, and shall come
and serve them. The apostles had a foretaste of this honor on the
evening of the last Passover (John
12:38 And if he
shall come in the second watch, and if in the third1, and
find [them] so blessed are those [servants].
And if he shall come in the second watch, and if in the third.
Originally the Jews had three watches (Lamentations
7:19; 1 Samuel
11:11); but, following the Romans, they now had four watches. The second
and third watches lasted from 9 P.M. to 3 A.M. The first watch is not
mentioned because the marriage took place in it, and the fourth is not
mentioned because in the latter part of it the day dawns and the virtue of
watching was over (Luke
12:39 But know this, that if
the master of the house had known in what hour the thief was coming, he would
have watched1, and not have left
his house to be broken through2.
If the master of the house had known in what hour the thief was coming,
he would have watched. Jesus here illustrates watchfulness by a second
figure. To some the coming of Jesus will be like that of a master whom they
have served more or less faithfully. To others his coming will seem like
that of a plunderer who comes in suddenly and deprives them of all they
And not have left his house to be broken through. The Oriental
houses were mostly made of mud or sun-dried bricks. Hence it was so easy to
dig a hole in the wall than that the thief preferred to enter that way
rather than to break open the door.
12:40 Be ye also
ready: for in an hour that ye think not the Son of man cometh1.
Be ye also ready: for in an hour that ye think not the Son of man
cometh. These words of warning confront every generation.
12:41 And Peter
said, Lord, speakest thou this parable unto us, or even unto all1?
And Peter said, Lord, speakest thou this parable unto us, or even unto
all? Peter wished to know if the exhortation to watchfulness applied
merely to the apostles or to all who heard.
12:42 And the Lord said, Who
then is the faithful and wise steward, whom his lord shall set over his
household, to give them their portion of food in due season1?
Who then is the faithful and wise steward, whom his lord shall set over
his household, to give them their portion of food in due season? The
answer of Jesus shows that he especially addressed the disciples, for a
steward is distinct from the household. On him the whole burden and care of
the domestic establishment rested. Thus Jesus showed that he meant the
disciples, yet did not exclude any who heard from profiting by his
discourse. Fidelity is the first requisite in a steward, and wisdom is the
second. All Christians are stewards; preachers, elders, Sunday-school
teachers, etc., are stewards of place and office. Rich men, fathers, etc.,
are stewards of influence and possessions.
12:44 Of a truth I say unto you, that he
will set him over all that he hath1.
He will set him over all that he hath. As Pharaoh exalted Joseph (Genesis
12:46 the lord of that servant shall come
in a day when he expecteth not, and in an hour when he knoweth not, and
shall cut him asunder1, and appoint his portion with the
And shall cut him asunder. Cutting asunder was a punishment
prevalent among ancient nations (2 Samuel
11:37). The definite punishment is part of the drapery of the parable,
and does not necessarily indicate the exact nature of the punishment which
will be inflicted upon the wicked.
12:48 but he that knew not, and did things
worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few [stripes]. And
to whomsoever much is given, of him shall much be required: and to whom they
commit much, of him will they ask the more1.
And to whomsoever much is given, of him shall much be required: and to
whom they commit much, of him will they ask the more. The greater the
powers and opportunities entrusted to us, the larger the service which the
Lord requires of us. Ignorance does not entirely excuse, for we are
stewards, and it is the steward's duty to know his master's will. There is a
guilt of ignorance as well as of transgression. The parable pointed to those
who listened with delight to Jesus, but were careless about knowing his
meaning. With Luke
12:48, Jesus passes on to set forth the severe tests to which the
fidelity and vigilance of his disciples would be subjected in the times upon
which they were about to enter.
12:49 I came to
cast fire upon the earth1; and
what do I desire, if it is already kindled2?
I came to cast fire upon the earth. A firebrand. The object of
Christ's coming was to rouse men to spiritual conflict, to kindle a fire in
the public mind which would purify the better part and destroy the worse.
But the burning of this fire would excite men and stir up their passions and
cause division and discord.
And what do I desire, if it is already kindled? The opposition of
the Pharisees showed that this fire was already kindled. What therefore was
left for Jesus to desire? His work as a teacher was practically
accomplished. But there remained for him yet his duty as priest to offer
himself as a sacrifice for the world's sin. To this work, therefore, he
glances briefly forward.
12:50 But I have
a baptism to be baptized with1; and
how am I straitened till it be accomplished2!
But I have a baptism to be baptized with. A flood of suffering;
that is, the agony of the cross.
And how am I straitened till it be accomplished! The language here
is broken, indicating the strong emotion of him who spoke it.
12:51 Think ye that I am come to give
peace in the earth? I tell you, Nay; but rather division:
Think ye that I am come to give peace in the earth? I tell you, Nay;
but rather division. Jesus came to conquer a peace by overcoming
evil with good; a conflict in which the good must always suffer.
12:52 for there
shall be from henceforth five in one house divided, three against two, and two
For there shall be from henceforth five in one house divided, three
against two, and two against three. His warfare was not, as the people
supposed, a struggle against the heathen, but against the evil within them
and around them. So long as evil abounded, these unhappy divisions would
12:53 They shall
be divided, father against son, and son against father1;
mother against daughter, and daughter against her mother; mother in law against
her daughter in law, and daughter in law against her mother in law.
They shall be divided, father against son, and son against father,
etc. Jesus here shows the hard plight of the disciple. If he were the young
son he would find his father against him, and if he were the aged father he
would be persecuted by the boy whom he had raised.
12:54 And he said to the multitudes also, When
ye see a cloud rising in the west, straightway ye say, There cometh a shower;
and so it cometh to pass1.
When ye see a cloud rising in the west, straightway ye say, There
cometh a shower; and so it cometh to pass. The Mediterranean Sea lay in
that quarter, and rains came from thence.
12:55 And when
[ye see] a south wind blowing, ye say, There will be a scorching heat; and it
cometh to pass1.
And when [ye see] a south wind blowing, ye say, There will be a
scorching heat; and it cometh to pass. The south winds of Palestine blew
from the equator, crossed the intervening deserts and wildernesses, and were
12:56 Ye hypocrites, ye know how to
interpret the face of the earth and the heaven; but how
is it that ye know not how to interpret this time1?
But how is it that ye know not how to interpret this time? That is,
this period which began with the ministry of John the Baptist. They could at
once read the signs of nature so as to declare what kind of storm was coming
12:54,55). But with the political storm arising out of conflict with
Rome impending over them, and with the spiritual storm which the teaching of
Christ was bringing upon them, about to burst, they stood still in ignorant
indifference, and made no provision for the times of trouble.
12:57 And why
even of yourselves judge ye not what is right1?
And why even of yourselves judge ye not what is right? They had the
warnings of both John and Jesus about matters and conditions which were so
plain that they should have been able to see them without any warning
12:58 For as thou
art going with thine adversary before the magistrate1, on
the way give diligence to be quit of him; lest haply he drag thee unto the
judge, and the judge shall deliver thee to the officer, and the officer shall
cast thee into prison.
For as thou art going with thine adversary before the magistrate,
etc. See Matthew
5:25. The passage here is an appeal to the people to avert the coming
disasters. The Jewish rulers looked upon Jesus as their adversary. Accepting
their valuation of him, Jesus counseled them to come to terms with him
before it is too late.
12:59 I say unto thee, Thou
shalt by no means come out thence, till thou have paid the very last mite1.
Thou shalt by no means come out thence, till thou have paid the very
last mite. See Matthew
5:26. A mite ("lepton") was their smallest coin, being worth
about two mills, or two one-thousandths of a U.S. dollar.