The Agora
Bible Commentary

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Luke 12

Luk 12:3

FROM THE ROOFS: "Epi" = "upon" (as KJV), not necessarily "from". Quiet discussion with friends and neighbors in evening gatherings on the cool rooftops.

Luk 12:7

THE VERY HAIRS OF YOUR HEAD ARE ALL NUMBERED: A phrase descriptive of long life: Luk 12:7; 21:18; Mat 10:30; Acts 27:34; 1Sa 14:45; 2Sa 14:11.

YOU ARE WORTH MORE THAN MANY SPARROWS: One day some workers on a British railroad found a thrush's nest under a rail. The mother bird was sitting peacefully on her eggs, undisturbed by the roar of the fast trains above and all around her.

"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
That they have no heavenly Father
Such as cares for you and me."

Jesus used the carefree life of birds to show that worrying is unnatural. In our own lives day by day we are learning to keep our minds centered on Christ so that the worries and concerns of the world will pass, leaving nothing but a "perfect peace" in our hearts. God has taken the responsibility for our care and worry. Let us trust Him to do it, do our best each day, and be grateful for Him.

Luk 12:9

HE WHO DISOWNS ME...: Not restricted to those who "disown" or "deny" AFTER baptism!

Luk 12:10

ANYONE WHO BLASPHEMES AGAINST THE HOLY SPIRIT: This the Jews had done, in Luk 11:15, when they accused Jesus of casting out demons through Beelzebub.

Luk 12:14

The same problem that Moses encountered: "The man said, 'Who made you ruler and judge over us?' " (Exo 2:14).

The man's brother was no doubt covetous, but it had not dawned on him that -- in disputing the claim -- he was also covetous (v 15).

Luk 12:15

The headlong pursuit after cars, well-furnished houses, and an array of sports equipment and amusement devices does not, in itself, guarantee happiness. 'If only I had... such-and-such, and so-and-so... things would be so much better' is a view of the world which underlies the appeal of lotteries, TV give-away programs and advertisements. It is a mistake to think that the more one has, the better things will be. What is required is a determination to live within one's income and to have the right perspective on this world's goods. No less a prophet than Elisha was furnished with only a bed, lamp, table, and chair! (See Lesson, Money.)

"For even when man has more than enough, his wealth does not give him life" (NEB). It is poss to "gain whole world" and yet "lose one's life" (Mat 16:25,26; 6:25-34; Phi 3:5-8; 4:11,12).

The real measure of a person's wealth is how much he would be worth if he lost all his money.

Luk 12:16

RICH MAN: He was ALREADY rich, so this additional prosperity was a superfluity! Cp Rev 3:17: "I am rich."

This man, in terms of the base standards of the world, had made a success of life. He became rich because of the productivity of his labor, and the fruitfulness of the ground he owned. But did he ever stop to think of why his land yielded its fruits in such abundance? Did he ever reflect upon the fact that "the earth which drinketh in the rain that cometh oft upon it, and bringeth forth herbs meet for them by whom it is dressed, receiveth blessing from God" (Heb 6:7)? Job did, and concluded: "If I rejoiced because my wealth was great, and because my hand had gotten much... this also were an iniquity to be punished by the judge: for I should have denied the God that is above" (Job 31:25-28).

But in contrast to Job, the rich man, having more food than was sufficient for him, did deny God: trusting in his own labor, he seemingly gave little thought to the One who so greatly blessed the land upon which he worked. Thus, he was a failure.

Leo Tolstoy once wrote a story about a successful peasant farmer who was not satisfied with his lot. He wanted more of everything. One day he received a novel offer. For 1,000 rubles, he could buy all the land he could walk around in a day. The only catch in the deal was that he had to be back at his starting point by sundown. Early the next morning he started out walking at a fast pace. By midday he was very tired, but he kept going, covering more and more ground. Well into the afternoon he realized that his greed had taken him far from the starting point. He quickened his pace and as the sun began to sink low in the sky, he began to run, knowing that if he did not make it back by sundown the opportunity to become an even bigger landholder would be lost. As the sun began to sink below the horizon he came within sight of the finish line. Gasping for breath, his heart pounding, he called upon every bit of strength left in his body and staggered across the line just before the sun disappeared. He immediately collapsed, blood streaming from his mouth. In a few minutes he was dead. Afterwards, his servants dug a grave. It was not much over six feet long and three feet wide. The title of Tolstoy's story was: "How Much Land Does a Man Need?"

Luk 12:17

WHAT SHALL I DO?: What a question, when all around him were the poor!

Luk 12:18

"Make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill the lusts thereof": Rom 13:14.

ALL: All! Leaving not even a little for the poor (Deu 26:1,2), or the "corners of the fields" (Lev 23:22; Deu 24:19).

Ct Mat 6:26: "Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?"

A preacher was invited to dinner in the home of a very wealthy man in Texas. After the meal, the host led him to a place where they could get a good view of the surrounding area. Pointing to the oil wells punctuating the landscape, he boasted, "Twenty-five years ago I had nothing. Now, as far as you can see, it's all mine." Looking in the opposite direction at his sprawling fields of grain, he said, "That's all mine." Turning east toward huge herds of cattle, he bragged, "They're all mine." Then pointing to the west and a beautiful forest, he exclaimed, "That too is all mine." He paused, expecting his guest to compliment him on his great success. The preacher, however, placing one hand on the man's shoulder and pointing heavenward with the other, simply said, "How much do you have in that direction?" The man hung his head and confessed, "I never thought of that."

Luk 12:20

Biblical "Fools": The rich fool (Luke 12:20). The unbelieving fool (Psa 53:1). The self-righteous fool (Pro 28:26). The scornful fool (Pro 14:9). The righteous "fool" (1Co 4:10).

The High Priest and his followers were building "bigger barns" (temple, revenues, etc), not knowing that their "time" was coming.

THIS NIGHT YOUR LIFE WILL BE DEMANDED FROM YOU: Cp Mat 16:26; Pro 23:4. Rather than to trust in our own wisdom and labour to obtain the empty riches of this evil world, we must seek the wisdom of God, for therein lies true riches -- riches which can sustain us beyond the grave. "How much better is it to get wisdom than gold! And to get understanding rather than to be chosen than silver" (Pro 16:16).

THEN WHO WILL GET WHAT YOU HAVE PREPARED FOR YOURSELF?: The abundance accumulated by the rich fool was a standing monument to his folly, even after he died. "The prosperity of fools shall destroy them" (Pro 1:32).

Luk 12:22

The vanity of materialism:
Luk 12:16-19 / cp with Ecc 2:4-10
Luk 12:20 / Ecc 2:15-19
Luk 12:22,23 / Ecc 2:22,23
Luk 12:24 / Ecc 2:24
Luk 12:27 / Ecc 2:25
Luk 12:28-31 / Ecc 2:26

Cp exhortations to work: 2Th 3:10; 1Ti 5:8.

Seven reasons not to worry: (1) Life itself is more important than things that sustain it; thus anxiety is forbidden (v 23); (2) The birds do not make frantic provisions (v 24); (3) Worry does not lengthen life (v 25); (4) God takes care of the flowers (v 27); (5) Those who do not know God, ie the Gentiles, seek after material things (v 30), but believers seek after the kingdom (v 32); (6) God knows what you need (v 30); and (7) Our Father is pleased to give you the kingdom (v 31).

"Worry can consume us and make us very unproductive in our lives. It steals our time and energy from God and His purpose. We are assured by Jesus that we are part of his flock and that his tender mercies are bestowed upon us. We are his, and he will guide and feed us and lead us to the pastures which nourish and give health. Our part is to keep our eyes on him and follow him. Not to try to look for ourselves to find the path, but keep our focus on him and his word. In doing this we can receive gifts of our Father and give thanks and praise continually. God's plan has taken from us the time we would spend on worrying and has allowed us to use that time in seeking the kingdom and His righteousness [v 31]. We are so blessed to be loved with such great love" (CPv).

Luk 12:23

// Psa 55:22; 1Pe 5:7; Phi 4:6.

Luk 12:24

RAVENS: Unclean birds (Lev 11:15; Deu 14:14), fed by God. The first to be cared for after Flood (Gen 8:7); cp Psa 147:8-11.

Luk 12:25

LIFE: "Span of life" (RSV). "Helikia" = "age, in years" (cp Joh 9:21,23; Heb 11:11; Luk 2:52).

Luk 12:26

See Psa 39:5.

Luk 12:28

Cp Isa 40:6: "All flesh is grass!"

FIRE: "Klibanos" = earthen pot for baking. "Oven" in KJV. The hot wind from the desert (cp Isa 40:6-8).

Luk 12:32

LITTLE FLOCK: Some of us even worry (v 22) about being a "little flock"!

YOUR FATHER HAS BEEN PLEASED: "Go for pleasure! Go for it with all your heart and might! That is what you are put here on earth for -- to enjoy yourself to the uttermost. But -- be sure it is pleasure. The world is full of tragic, tempting, cheating counterfeits that never satisfy, but at best only stupefy with temporary excitement or sensation or absorption, like a brief drug high -- but all lead at last to the same dead end. There is only one true, real, permanent pleasure -- unalloyed, unassailable, and everlasting. Ignore the myriad masks of the empty face of Folly, and heed the solitary sound of Wisdom's call to everlasting joy. God guarantees 'pleasures for evermore' " (GVG).

TO GIVE YOU THE KINGDOM: "The offer of reward from God to His sons is the final proof of His true personality. To an abstract Supreme Being it would be impossible; to a Father it is not only possible but natural; and to those who are truly His sons the reward is the occasion of responsive delight in that personality. When we are pleased with a gift the choice of which conveys the very personality of a beloved friend, we say, 'It is just like him (or her) to send me that.' And it is just like the Heavenly Father to give His children the Kingdom: the gift is as it were a part of Himself; He has planned it throughout the ages: He has 'prepared' it with loving care. And for His children the gift is the bond of love" (TM 166).

Luk 12:33

// Mat 6:19-24.

THAT WILL NOT WEAR OUT: Ref the "wilderness" journey of Israel -- a journey of faith, where God provides (Deu 29:5).

Luk 12:35

DRESSED READY: "Loins girded", as in 1Pe 1:13.

LAMPS BURNING: See Phi 2:14-16; Mat 5:14-16; 25:7,8.

Luk 12:37

HE WILL DRESS HIMSELF TO SERVE: Jesus actually did this (John 13:4). Did the disciples remember this comment on that occasion?

TO SERVE: The master will return to serve the servants!

Luk 12:39

Christ is portrayed often -- he even portrays himself -- as a "thief" in the New Testament, in connection with his Second Coming (Mat 24:42-44; Luk 12:39,40; 1Th 5:2,4,6; 2Pe 3:10; Rev 3:3; 16:15). This may seem extraordinary, since stealing is a sin, and a "thief" therefore must be a sinner -- and how could Christ be a sinner? (A similar question might be asked: how could Christ compare himself to a serpent: John 3:14; Num 21:7-9? But that's another story!) However, there is one instance when a "thief" is not committing a crime, and that is when he is simply reclaiming (by stealth or surprise) what is rightfully his (cp David and his men, who followed the Amalekites and retrieved their kidnapped families and stolen goods: 1Sa 30!). And that seems to be exactly the point in these NT instances also: Christ when he returns will be merely taking back what is rightfully his! The true "thieves" will be seen to be those servants who ate his bread and drank his wine and enjoyed themselves in leisurely consuming that which belonged to their Master (see the parable in Mat 24:48-51 and Luk 12:45-47). Their mistake -- and it was a crucial one -- was in forgetting they were mere stewards or caretakers, and instead supposing that all their Master's properties belonged to them, and acting accordingly! So, if we are to be sure that Christ does not come as a "thief" to us, we must not act as "thieves" ourselves now, stealing from him what is rightfully his. We must remember that all we possess really belongs to the One who is our true Lord and Master; that we merely hold it all in trust, to be used to serve him.

Luk 12:41

TO US, OR TO EVERYONE?: Christ's answer: to servants (vv 42-48).

Luk 12:44

See parable of Luk 19:17,19.

Luk 12:45

EAT... DRINK... GET DRUNK: See Luk 17:27; 21:34.

Luk 12:46

UNBELIEVERS: Or "hypocrites" (Mat 24:51).

CUT HIM TO PIECES: Cp "and shall cut him asunder" (Mat 24:51): The Greek is "dikotomesi" (cp Engl "dichotomy") lit to cut in two. The "Lord" upon his return will, by the "sword" of his judgment, separate the real man from the actor, revealing him for a hypocrite.

Luk 12:50

DISTRESSED: "Constrained" (RSV).

Luk 12:51

Vv 51-53: Fulfilling Mic 7:6: "For a son dishonors his father, a daughter rises up against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law -- a man's enemies are the members of his own household." Firstly in the way his own family responded to him, and secondly in the response of families to the beliefs of the followers of Christ. In a Jewish context, where being "put out of the synagogue" was the price paid for being a disciple of Jesus, being ostracized would be common for Jews who accepted Jesus as Messiah.

Luk 12:53

"Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child. Children will rebel against their parents and have them put to death" (Mar 13:12; cp Mic 7:6).

Luk 12:58

Here, a change from plural to singular pronouns. An appeal for individual action. God is the "accuser"; settle with Him before it is too late (Psa 32:6; Isa 55:6).

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