Luke Jewish New Testament and comment David H. Stern
1. Meanwhile, as a crowd in the tens of thousands gathered so closely as to trample each other down, Yeshua began to say to his talmidim first, “Guard yourselves from the hametz of the P’rushim, by which I mean their hypocrisy.
Chametz. See Mt 16:6N.
2. There is nothing covered up that will not be uncovered, or hidden that will not become known.
3. What you have spoken in the dark will be heard in the light, and what you have whispered behind closed doors will be proclaimed on the housetops.
See Mt 10:27N.
4. “My friends, I tell you: don’t fear those who kill the body but then have nothing more they can do.
5. I will show you whom to fear: fear him who after killing you has authority to throw you into Gei-Hinnom! Yes, I tell you, this is the one to fear!
Gey-Hinnom. See Mt 5:22N.
6. Aren’t sparrows sold for next to nothing, five for two assarions? And not one of them has been forgotten by God.
Next to nothing, literally, "two assanons." The assarion was the smallest Roman coin.
7. Why, every hair on your head has been counted! Don’t be afraid, you are worth more than many sparrows.
8. “Moreover, I tell you, whoever acknowledges me in the presence of others, the Son of Man will also acknowledge in the presence of God’s angels.
9. But whoever disowns me before others will be disowned before God’s angels.
10. Also, everyone who says something against the Son of Man will have it forgiven him; but whoever has blasphemed the Ruach HaKodesh will not be forgiven.
Luke is the only writer who places all this material in one passage (compare Mt 10:32-33, 12:31-32; Mk 3:28-29 corresponds to v. 10 only). In the context of counseling his followers against fear generally (vv. 4-7) Yeshua encourages them not lo be afraid to acknowledge their faith publicly. One need not be a behavioristic psychologist to understand his means: reward (v. 8) and punishment (v. 9). Verse 10 explains what v. 9 means by "disowning Yeshua": a person unenlightened by the working of the Holy Spirit in him may say something against the Son of Man. but he will have it forgiven him because he doesn't really grasp the full import of his words. But if the Holy Spirit has caused genuine knowledge of Yeshua to enter his spirit, then in speaking against Yeshua he may well be blaspheming the Ruach HaKodesh (the Greek word "blasphemia " means "slander, defamation, reviling judgment, scurrilous talk, calumny, reproach, railing, impious and irreverent speech").
That is, if a person knows that Yeshua is "the way, the truth and the life: no one comes to the Father except through" him (Yn 14:6); if he knows that "he who disowns the Son disowns the Father, but he who acknowledges the Son has the Father too" (1 Yn 2:23); if he knows that "there is no other name under heaven given to men by whom we must be saved" (Ac 4:12) — then his denial of Yeshua as Messiah, Savior, Lord and Son of God becomes the ground for his "not being forgiven" (v. 10), apparently "neither in the 'olam hazeh nor in the 'olam haba" (Mt 12:32). What conclusions are to be drawn? On the one hand, believers in Yeshua should note that nonbelievers may "say something against the Son of Man" without incurring God's wrath, because they are "unaware of what they are doing" (Ac 3:17; also Lk 23:34), since the Holy Spirit has not brought the significance home to them. Although "the love and kindness of God has been revealed to every human being" (Ti 2:11; compare Ro 1:19-20), and "the Torah and the Prophets give their witness" to God's way of putting people right with him (Ro 3:21-22), nevertheless there are literally millions of Jewish people who have never in their lives heard the Gospel. That is, the Good News about Yeshua has never been presented to them in a way that made sense to them, given their training and backgrounds, and given the unpleasant fact that so much evil has been perpetrated against the Jewish people "in the name of Christ" — in his name but without his authority, of course. Thus when a Jew — or, for that matter, a non-Jew — who is thus ignorant of the true message of the Gospel "says something against the Son of Man," it may have no significance. In fact, if he has been taught, as some Jews are, that Yeshua is a false god, or a pretender, or an unfaithful Jew who led others astray, he may believe he is doing a good deed in denouncing Yeshua. What people who are prejudiced against Yeshua need is to be presented with the Good News in a way that shows it is truly good news, a fulfillment of the prophecies of the Tanakh and the best expression of the truths of Judaism.
Only when a person understands the Gospel in his mind and heart and spirit yet still rejects it is he blaspheming the Holy Spirit and risking eternal punishment (see MJ 6:4-6&N).
On the other hand, no one reading these words can excuse himself for speaking against Yeshua by saying, "The Holy Spirit has not enlightened me," for he may be doing so right now. In other words, it is the reader's responsibility to be open to the working of God's Spirit and to "check the Tanakh" and the New Testament "to see if these things are true" (Ac 17:11). In summary, vv. 8-10 show that disowning Yeshua does not consist merely in speaking words against him but in fighting against the Holy Spirit when he is holding the truth about Yeshua in front of you.
11. “When they bring you before the synagogues and the ruling powers and the authorities, don’t worry about how you will defend yourself or what you will say;
12. because when the time comes, the Ruach HaKodesh will teach you what you need to say.”
The ruling powers and the authorities include both Jewish and Gentile tribunals. Yeshua continues to comfort believers concerning fear: they need not be anxious about committing the unpardonable sin of blaspheming the Holy Spirit when under investigation by hostile officialdom, because the Holy Spirit himself will provide the words they need to glorify God in such dire moments.
13. Someone in the crowd said to him, “Rabbi, tell my brother to share with me the property we inherited.”
14. But Yeshua answered him, “My friend, who appointed me judge or arbitrator over you?”
14 Rabbi, tell my brother.... Traditionally a rabbi was not a clergyman but a teacher of Jewish values and customs, and as such the authoritative judge or arbitrator who decided points of law and ethics central to people's lives. Only since the secularly inspired Haskalah ("Enlightenment") of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries have rabbis in the West been viewed alongside Catholic priests and Protestant ministers as marginal figures in a supposedly secular "real world." But, alluding to Exodus 2:14, where Moshe appointed himself ruler and judge over his fellow Israelites, Yeshua rejects the role of arbitrator in order to probe the attitude motivating his questioner while imDlicitlv rejecting his request.
15. Then to the people he said, “Be careful to guard against all forms of greed, because even if someone is rich, his life does not consist in what he owns.”
16. And he gave them this illustration: “There was a man whose land was very productive.
17. He debated with himself, ‘What should I do? I haven’t enough room for all my crops.’
18. Then he said, ‘This is what I will do: I’ll tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and I’ll store all my wheat and other goods there.
19. Then I’ll say to myself, “You’re a lucky man! You have a big supply of goods laid up that will last many years. Start taking it easy! Eat! Drink! Enjoy yourself!”’
20. But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night you will die! And the things you prepared — whose will they be?’
21. That’s how it is with anyone who stores up wealth for himself without being rich toward God.”
21 He addresses his remarks to the people; apparently Yeshua regards the questioner's attitude as typical.
22. To his talmidim Yeshua said, “Because of this I tell you, don’t worry about your life — what you will eat or drink; or about your body — what you will wear.
23. For life is more than food, and the body is more than clothing.
24. Think about the ravens! They neither plant nor harvest, they have neither storerooms nor barns, yet God feeds them. You are worth much more than the birds!
25. Can any of you by worrying add an hour to his life?
26. If you can’t do a little thing like that, why worry about the rest?
27. Think about the wild irises, and how they grow. They neither work nor spin thread; yet, I tell you, not even Shlomo in all his glory was clothed as beautifully as one of these.
Shlomo. See 1 Kings 10:47, 2 Chronicles 9:3-6.
28. If this is how God clothes grass, which is alive in the field today and thrown in the oven tomorrow, how much more will he clothe you! What little trust you have!
29. “In other words, don’t strive after what you will eat and what you will drink — don’t be anxious.
30. For all the pagan nations in the world set their hearts on these things. Your Father knows that you need them too.
31. Rather, seek his Kingdom; and these things will be given to you as well.
32. Have no fear, little flock, for your Father has resolved to give you the Kingdom!
33. Sell what you own and do tzedakah — make for yourselves purses that don’t wear out, riches in heaven that never fail, where no burglar comes near, where no moth destroys.
34. For where your wealth is, there your heart will be also.
No passage could be more to the point for modern man than these verses about the nature, origin and cure of greed.
To his talmidim he goes into the matter more deeply, as was his practice (Mt 13:10-17). He identifies fear as the source of greed (v. 22). The one certain way to relieve anxiety over material matters is by seeking God's kingdom (v. 31) and its eternal riches. This is accomplished through doing tzedakah (literally, "doing righteousness," but understood as "giving to charity"), that is, by not being selfish but sharing the wealth (v. 33). Yeshua is not against having wealth but against making wealth the be-all and end-all of life (vv. 21,31, 34).
35. “Be dressed for action and have your lamps lit,
36. like people waiting for their master’s return after a wedding feast; so that when he comes and knocks, they will open the door for him without delay.
37. Happy the slaves whom the master finds alert when he comes! Yes! I tell you he will put on his work clothes, seat them at the table, and come serve them himself!
38. Whether it is late at night or early in the morning, if this is how he finds them, those slaves are happy.
39. “But notice this: no house-owner would let his house be broken into if he knew when the thief was coming.
40. You too, be ready! For the Son of Man will come when you are not expecting him.”
41. Kefa said, “Sir, are you telling this parable for our benefit only or for everyone’s?”
42. The Lord replied, “Nu, who is the faithful and sensible manager whose master puts him in charge of the household staff to give them their share of food at the proper time?
Nu. Yiddish, rendering Greek ara, which Arndt and Gingrich call an "interrogative particle indicating anxiety or impatience,... usually incapable of direct translation." That may be true of English; but if the Greeks had a word for it, so do the Jews. See also Mt 11:9N.
43. It will go well with that servant if he is found doing his job when his master comes.
44. Yes, I tell you he will put him in charge of all he owns.
45. But if that servant says to himself, ‘My master is taking his time coming,’ and starts bullying the men- and women-servants, and eating and drinking, getting drunk,
46. then his master will come on a day when the servant isn’t expecting him, at a time he doesn’t know in advance; his master will cut him in two and put him with the disloyal.
Disloyal, Greek apistoi, "unbelievers, unfaithful."
47. Now the servant who knew what his master wanted but didn’t prepare or act according to his will, will be whipped with many lashes;
48. however, the one who did what deserves a beating, but didn’t know, will receive few lashes. From him who has been given much, much will be demanded — from someone to whom people entrust much, they ask still more.
Entrust or "deposit." If the latter, then "they ask still more" continues the financial imagery: they want interest on their deposit.
49. “I have come to set fire to the earth! And how I wish it were already kindled!
Fire. Primarily the refining fire of holiness and the ultimate fire of judgment against sin (compare Isaiah 66:24; Malachi 3:2-3; 1С 3:13-15; Rv 19:20, 20:14-15). Secondarily a fire of hostility between unbelievers and believers (below, 12:53).
50. I have an immersion to undergo — how pressured I feel till it’s over!
This immersion (see Mt 3: IN, 3:15N) involves Yeshua's total identification with sinful mankind in which he bears our sins and their punishment, in keeping with Isaiah 53:6, "Adonai has laid on him the iniquities of us all." He thus becomes a sacrifice for our sins, giving up his very life and immersing himself into death, paying the death penalty we owe for our sins "like a lamb brought for slaughter" (Isaiah 53:7).
51. Do you think that I have come to bring peace in the Land? Not peace, I tell you, but division!
Yeshua is not to rule in glory at his first coming; he is not at that time to fulfill the Messianic prophecies of world peace, e.g., "They shall beat their swords into plowshares..." (Isaiah 2:4, Micah 4:3). For this reason he will bring... division: some will acknowledge him as Messiah, while others will not, so that families will be split down the middle over this issue (vv. 52-53, on which see Mt 10:35-36N).
52. For from now on, a household of five will be divided, three against two, two against three.
53. Father will be divided 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" (Micah 7:6).
54. Then to the crowds Yeshua said, “When you see a cloud-bank rising in the west, at once you say that a rainstorm is coming;
Once again Yeshua speaks differently to the crowds than to his talmidim (vv. 22-53). To his own disciples he entrusted information about his ministry and about how to obey him in a manner reflecting their already existing commitment to him. His only task with the crowds was to awaken them to their need to commit their lives to him, to become talmidim. This is the message of 12:54-13:9.
55. and when the wind is from the south, you say there will be a heat wave, and there is.
56. Hypocrites! You know how to interpret the appearance of the earth and the sky — how is it that you don’t know how to interpret this present time?
57. Why don’t you decide for yourselves what is the right course to follow?
58. If someone brings a lawsuit against you, take pains to settle with him first; otherwise he will take the matter to court, and the judge will turn you over to the bailiff, and the bailiff will throw you in jail.
59. I tell you, you won’t get out of there till you have paid the last penny!”
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