Luke 12

Listen to Luke 12

Beware of the Leaven of the Pharisees

1 In the meantime, 1when so many thousands of the people had gathered together that they were trampling one another, he began to say to his disciples first, 2"Beware of 3the leaven of the Pharisees, 4which is hypocrisy.
2 5Nothing is covered up that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known.
3 Therefore whatever you have said in the dark shall be heard in the light, and what you have whispered in 6private rooms shall be proclaimed on 7the housetops.

Have No Fear

4 "I tell you, my friends, 8do not fear those who kill the body, and after that have nothing more that they can do.
5 But I will warn you whom to fear: fear him 9who, after he has killed, has authority to cast into hell.[a] Yes, I tell you, fear him!
6 Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies?[b] And 10not one of them is forgotten before God.
7 Why, 11even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not; 12you are of more value than many sparrows.

Acknowledge Christ Before Men

8 "And I tell you, 13everyone who acknowledges me before men, the Son of Man also will acknowledge 14before the angels of God,
9 but 15the one who denies me before men 16will be denied 17before the angels of God.
10 And 18everyone who speaks a word 19against the Son of Man 20will be forgiven, but the one who 21blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven.
11 22And when they 23bring you before the synagogues and 24the rulers and 25the authorities, 26do not be anxious about how you should defend yourself or what you should say,
12 27for the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say."

The Parable of the Rich Fool

13 28Someone in the crowd said to him, "Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me."
14 But he said to him, 29"Man, 30who made me a judge or arbitrator over you?"
15 And he said to them, 31"Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions."
16 And he told them a parable, saying, 32"The land of a rich man produced plentifully,
17 and he thought to himself, 33'What shall I do, for I have nowhere to store my crops?'
18 And he said, 'I will do this: I will tear down my 34barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods.
19 And I will say to my soul, Soul, you have ample goods laid up 35for many years; relax, 36eat, drink, be merry.'
20 But God said to him, 37'Fool! 38This night 39your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, 40whose will they be?'
21 So is the one 41who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God."

Do Not Be Anxious

22 And he said to his disciples, 42"Therefore I tell you, 43do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat, nor about your body, what you will put on.
23 For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing.
24 44Consider the ravens: they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse nor barn, and yet God feeds them. 45Of how much more value are you than the birds!
25 And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his 46span of life?[c]
26 If then you are not able to do as small a thing as that, why are you anxious about the rest?
27 Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin,[d] yet I tell you, 47even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.
28 But if God so clothes the grass, which is alive in the field today, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will he clothe you, 48O you of little faith!
29 And do not seek what you are to eat and what you are to drink, nor 49be worried.
30 For 50all the nations of the world seek after these things, and 51your Father knows that you need them.
31 Instead, 52seek 53his[e] kingdom, 54and these things will be added to you.
32 55"Fear not, little 56flock, for 57it is your Father's good pleasure to give you 58the kingdom.
33 59Sell your possessions, and 60give to the needy. 61Provide yourselves with moneybags that do not grow old, with 62a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys.
34 63For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

You Must Be Ready

35 64"Stay dressed for action[f] and 65keep your lamps burning,
36 and be like men who are 66waiting for their master to come home from the wedding feast, so that they may open the door to him at once when he comes and 67knocks.
37 68Blessed are those servants[g] whom the master finds 69awake when he comes. Truly, I say to you, 70he will dress himself for service and 71have them recline at table, and he will come and serve them.
38 If he comes in the second watch, or in the third, and finds them awake, blessed are those servants!
39 72But know this, that if the master of the house had known at what hour 73the thief was coming, he[h] would not have left his house to be broken into.
40 You also must be 74ready, for 75the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect."
41 Peter said, "Lord, 76are you telling this parable for us or for all?"
42 And the Lord said, "Who then is 77the faithful and 78wise 79manager, whom his master will set over his household, to give them their portion of food at the proper time?
43 80Blessed is that servant[i] whom his master will find so doing when he comes.
44 Truly, I say to you, 81he will set him over all his possessions.
45 But if that servant says to himself, 'My master 82is delayed in coming,' and begins to beat the male and female servants, and to eat and drink and 83get drunk,
46 the master of that servant will come 84on a day when he does not expect him and 85at an hour he does not know, and will cut him in pieces and put him with the unfaithful.
47 86And that servant who 87knew his master's will but 88did not get ready 89or act according to his will, will receive a 90severe beating.
48 91But the one who did not know, and did what deserved a beating, 92will receive a light beating. 93Everyone to whom much was given, of him much will be required, and from him to whom they entrusted much, they will demand the more.

Not Peace, but Division

49 94"I came to cast fire on the earth, and would that it were already kindled!
50 95I have a baptism to be baptized with, and how 96great is my distress until it is accomplished!
51 97Do you think that I have come to give peace on earth? 98No, I tell you, but rather division.
52 For from now on in one house there will be five divided, three against two and two against three.
53 They will be divided, 99father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law."

Interpreting the Time

54 He also said to the crowds, 100"When you see 101a cloud rising in the west, you say at once, 'A shower is coming.' And so it happens.
55 And 102when you see the south wind blowing, you say, 'There will be 103scorching heat,' and it happens.
56 You hypocrites! 104You know how to interpret the appearance of earth and sky, but why do you not know how to interpret the present time?

Settle with Your Accuser

57 "And why 105do you not judge 106for yourselves what is right?
58 107As you go with your accuser before the magistrate, make an effort to settle with him on the way, lest he drag you to the judge, and the judge hand you over to the officer, and the officer put you in prison.
59 I tell you, 108you will never get out until you have paid the very last 109penny."[j]

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Luke 12 Commentary

Chapter 12

Christ reproves the interpreters of the law. (1-12) A caution against covetousness The parable of the rich man. (13-21) Worldly care reproved. (22-40) Watchfulness enforced. (41-53) A warning to be reconciled to God. (54-59)

Verses 1-12 A firm belief of the doctrine of God's universal providence, and the extent of it, would satisfy us when in peril, and encourage us to trust God in the way of duty. Providence takes notice of the meanest creatures, even of the sparrows, and therefore of the smallest interests of the disciples of Christ. Those who confess Christ now, shall be owned by him in the great day, before the angels of God. To deter us from denying Christ, and deserting his truths and ways, we are here assured that those who deny Christ, though they may thus save life itself, and though they may gain a kingdom by it, will be great losers at last; for Christ will not know them, will not own them, nor show them favour. But let no trembling, penitent backslider doubt of obtaining forgiveness. This is far different from the determined enmity that is blasphemy against the Holy Ghost, which shall never be forgiven, because it will never be repented of.

Verses 13-21 Christ's kingdom is spiritual, and not of this world. Christianity does not meddle with politics; it obliges all to do justly, but wordly dominion is not founded in grace. It does not encourage expectations of worldly advantages by religion. The rewards of Christ's disciples are of another nature. Covetousness is a sin we need constantly to be warned against; for happiness and comfort do not depend on the wealth of this world. The things of the world will not satisfy the desires of a soul. Here is a parable, which shows the folly of carnal worldling while they live, and their misery when they die. The character drawn is exactly that of a prudent, worldly man, who has no grateful regard to the providence of God, nor any right thought of the uncertainty of human affairs, the worth of his soul, or the importance of eternity. How many, even among professed Christians, point out similar characters as models for imitation, and proper persons to form connexions with! We mistake if we think that thoughts are hid, and thoughts are free. When he saw a great crop upon his ground, instead of thanking God for it, or rejoicing to be able to do more good, he afflicts himself. What shall I do now? The poorest beggar in the country could not have said a more anxious word. The more men have, the more perplexity they have with it. It was folly for him to think of making no other use of his plenty, than to indulge the flesh and gratify the sensual appetites, without any thought of doing good to others. Carnal worldlings are fools; and the day is coming when God will call them by their own name, and they will call themselves so. The death of such persons is miserable in itself, and terrible to them. Thy soul shall be required. He is loth to part with it; but God shall require it, shall require an account of it, require it as a guilty soul to be punished without delay. It is the folly of most men, to mind and pursue that which is for the body and for time only, more than that for the soul and eternity.

Verses 22-40 Christ largely insisted upon this caution not to give way to disquieting, perplexing cares, ( Matthew 6:25-34 ) . The arguments here used are for our encouragement to cast our care upon God, which is the right way to get ease. As in our stature, so in our state, it is our wisdom to take it as it is. An eager, anxious pursuit of the things of this world, even necessary things, ill becomes the disciples of Christ. Fears must not prevail; when we frighten ourselves with thoughts of evil to come, and put ourselves upon needless cares how to avoid it. If we value the beauty of holiness, we shall not crave the luxuries of life. Let us then examine whether we belong to this little flock. Christ is our Master, and we are his servants; not only working servants, but waiting servants. We must be as men that wait for their lord, that sit up while he stays out late, to be ready to receive him. In this Christ alluded to his own ascension to heaven, his coming to call his people to him by death, and his return to judge the world. We are uncertain as to the time of his coming to us, we should therefore be always ready. If men thus take care of their houses, let us be thus wise for our souls. Be ye therefore ready also; as ready as the good man of the house would be, if he knew at what hour the thief would come.

Verses 41-53 All are to take to themselves what Christ says in his word, and to inquire concerning it. No one is left so ignorant as not to know many things to be wrong which he does, and many things to be right which he neglects; therefore all are without excuse in their sin. The bringing in the gospel dispensation would occasion desolations. Not that this would be the tendency of Christ's religion, which is pure, peaceable, and loving; but the effect of its being contrary to men's pride and lusts. There was to be a wide publication of the gospel. But before that took place, Christ had a baptism to be baptized with, far different from that of water and the Holy Spirit. He must endure sufferings and death. It agreed not with his plan to preach the gospel more widely, till this baptism was completed. We should be zealous in making known the truth, for though divisions will be stirred up, and a man's own household may be his foes, yet sinners will be converted, and God will be glorified.

Verses 54-59 Christ would have the people to be as wise in the concerns of their souls as they are in outward affairs. Let them hasten to obtain peace with God before it is too late. If any man has found that God has set himself against him concerning his sins, let him apply to him as God in Christ reconciling the world to himself. While we are alive, we are in the way, and now is our time.

Cross References 109

  • 1. Luke 11:29
  • 2. Matt. 16:6, 11, 12; Mark 8:15
  • 3. 1 Corinthians 5:6-8; Galatians 5:9
  • 4. Matthew 23:28; Mark 12:15
  • 5. Luke 8:17; Mark 4:22; [1 Timothy 5:25]; For ver. 2-9, see Matthew 10:26-33
  • 6. Matthew 6:6
  • 7. See Luke 5:19
  • 8. Isaiah 8:12, 13; Isaiah 51:12, 13; Jeremiah 1:8; 1 Peter 3:14
  • 9. James 4:12
  • 10. [Psalms 50:11]
  • 11. See 1 Samuel 14:45
  • 12. Matthew 6:26; Matthew 12:12
  • 13. [Romans 10:9, 10; Hebrews 10:35; Revelation 3:5]
  • 14. [Luke 15:10; Matthew 25:31; 1 Timothy 5:21; Revelation 3:5]
  • 15. 2 Timothy 2:12; 2 Peter 2:1; 1 John 2:23; [Mark 8:38]
  • 16. Luke 13:25; Matthew 7:23; Matthew 25:12
  • 17. [See ver. 8 above]
  • 18. [Matthew 12:31, 32; Mark 3:28-30; Hebrews 6:4-6; Hebrews 10:26; 1 John 5:16]
  • 19. Matthew 11:19; John 7:12; John 9:24
  • 20. 1 Timothy 1:12, 13
  • 21. [Acts 7:51; Hebrews 10:29]
  • 22. Matthew 10:17, 19; [Luke 21:12, 14; Mark 13:11]
  • 23. See Matthew 23:34
  • 24. Titus 3:1
  • 25. Titus 3:1
  • 26. See ver. 22
  • 27. See Matthew 10:19, 20
  • 28. Luke 11:27
  • 29. Micah 6:8; Romans 2:1, 3; Romans 9:20
  • 30. [Exodus 2:14; Acts 7:27]
  • 31. 1 Timothy 6:6-11; [Hebrews 13:5]
  • 32. [Psalms 49:16-20]
  • 33. [Ecclesiastes 5:10]
  • 34. ver. 24
  • 35. [Proverbs 27:1; James 4:13-15]
  • 36. Ecclesiastes 2:24; Ecclesiastes 11:9; 1 Corinthians 15:32; [Luke 15:23]
  • 37. Jeremiah 17:11; [Matthew 16:26]
  • 38. [See ver. 19 above]
  • 39. Job 27:8
  • 40. Psalms 39:6; [Job 27:17-22; Ecclesiastes 2:18, 21]
  • 41. Matthew 6:19, 20
  • 42. For ver. 22-31, see Matthew 6:25-33
  • 43. ver. 11; Luke 10:41; Matthew 10:19; Matthew 13:22(Gk.); 1 Corinthians 7:32(Gk.); Philippians 4:6; 1 Peter 5:7
  • 44. [Job 38:41; Psalms 147:9]
  • 45. See ver. 7
  • 46. Luke 2:52(Gk.)
  • 47. 1 Kings 10:4-7
  • 48. Matthew 8:26; Matthew 14:31; Matthew 16:8; [Luke 17:6]
  • 49. [James 1:6]
  • 50. Matthew 6:8
  • 51. Matthew 6:8
  • 52. [Matthew 5:6, 20]
  • 53. Luke 11:2
  • 54. [1 Kings 3:11-14; Mark 10:29, 30; 1 Timothy 4:8; 1 Peter 3:9]
  • 55. Isaiah 41:14; Isaiah 44:2
  • 56. Isaiah 40:11; Matthew 26:31; John 10:16; John 21:15-17; Acts 20:28, 29; 1 Peter 5:2, 3
  • 57. [Luke 10:21; Matthew 11:26; Ephesians 1:5, 9; Philippians 2:13]
  • 58. Luke 22:29; See Matthew 13:19
  • 59. See Matthew 19:21
  • 60. Luke 11:41
  • 61. [Luke 16:9]
  • 62. Matthew 6:20; [ver. 21; 1 Peter 1:4]
  • 63. Matthew 6:21
  • 64. Ephesians 6:14; 1 Peter 1:13
  • 65. [Matthew 25:7]
  • 66. See 2 Peter 3:12
  • 67. Revelation 3:20
  • 68. See Matthew 24:42, 46
  • 69. See Matthew 24:42, 46
  • 70. John 13:4; [ver. 35; Luke 17:8]
  • 71. [Luke 22:27]
  • 72. For ver. 39-46, [Matthew 24:43-51]
  • 73. [1 Thessalonians 5:2; 2 Peter 3:10; Revelation 3:3]
  • 74. ver. 47; Matthew 25:10
  • 75. Luke 21:27
  • 76. [Mark 13:37]
  • 77. See Matthew 24:45
  • 78. See Matthew 24:45
  • 79. Luke 16:1
  • 80. John 13:17; Revelation 16:15
  • 81. Matthew 25:21, 23
  • 82. Matthew 25:5; [Hebrews 10:37; 2 Peter 3:4, 9]
  • 83. 1 Thessalonians 5:7
  • 84. 2 Peter 3:12; [ver. 40]
  • 85. 2 Peter 3:12; [ver. 40]
  • 86. [Matthew 11:24; John 15:22, 24]
  • 87. [James 4:17; 2 Peter 2:21]
  • 88. ver. 40
  • 89. [James 4:17; 2 Peter 2:21]
  • 90. [Deuteronomy 25:2, 3]
  • 91. Leviticus 5:17; [Numbers 15:29, 30]
  • 92. Romans 1:19, 20; Romans 2:14, 15; [1 Timothy 1:13]
  • 93. [Matthew 25:29]; See Matthew 13:12
  • 94. [Matthew 3:11]
  • 95. Mark 10:38
  • 96. 2 Corinthians 5:14(Gk.)
  • 97. For ver. 51-53, see Matthew 10:34, 35
  • 98. [Revelation 6:4]
  • 99. Matthew 10:21; [Micah 7:6]
  • 100. [Matthew 16:2, 3]
  • 101. 1 Kings 18:43, 44
  • 102. [See ver. 54 above]
  • 103. See Matthew 20:12
  • 104. Matthew 16:3
  • 105. Luke 21:30
  • 106. John 7:24; 1 Corinthians 11:13
  • 107. Matthew 5:25, 26; [Proverbs 25:8]
  • 108. [Matthew 18:34, 35]
  • 109. Luke 21:2; Mark 12:42

Footnotes 10

  • [a]. Greek Gehenna
  • [b]. Greek two assaria; an assarion was a Roman copper coin worth about 1/16 of a denarius (which was a day's wage for a laborer)
  • [c]. Or a single cubit to his stature; a cubit was about 18 inches or 45 centimeters
  • [d]. Some manuscripts Consider the lilies; they neither spin nor weave
  • [e]. Some manuscripts God's
  • [f]. Greek Let your loins stay girded; compare Exodus 12:11
  • [g]. Greek bondservants
  • [h]. Some manuscripts add would have stayed awake and
  • [i]. Greek bondservant; also verses 45, 46, 47
  • [j]. Greek lepton, a Jewish bronze or copper coin worth about 1/128 of a denarius (which was a day's wage for a laborer)

Luke 12 Commentaries

The English Standard Version is published with the permission of Good News Publishers.