|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
12:13-21 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.
Verse 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. The older authorities read, "beware of every kind of covetousness." No vice is more terribly illustrated in the Old Testament story than this. Prominent illustrations of ruin overtaking the covetous man, even in this life, are Balaam, Achan, and Gehazi. Has not this ever been one of the besetting sins of the chosen race, then as now, now as then? Jesus, as the Reader of hearts, saw what was at the bottom of the question: greed, rather than a fiery indignation at a wrong endured. "A man's life." His true life, would be a fair paraphrase of the Greek word used here. The Master's own life, landless, homeless, penniless, illustrated nobly these words. That life, as far as earth was concerned, was his deliberate choice. The world, Christian as well as pagan, in each succeeding age, with a remarkable agreement, utterly declines to recognize the great Teacher's view of life here. To make his meaning perfectly clear, the Lord told them the following parable-story, which reads like an experience or memory of something which had actually happened.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
And he said unto them,.... Either to the two brethren, or to his disciples, as the Syriac and Persic versions read, or to the whole company:
take heed, and beware of covetousness; of all covetousness, as read the Vulgate Latin, Syriac, Arabic, and Ethiopic versions, and some copies; that is, of all sorts of covetousness, and every degree of it, which of all vices is to be avoided and guarded against, being the root of all evil; and as the Persic version renders it, is worse than all evil, and leads into it:
for a man's life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth; of flocks and beasts, as the Persic version renders it: a man's natural life cannot be prolonged by all the good things of the world he is possessed of; they cannot prevent diseases nor death; nor do the comfort and happiness of life, lie in these things; which are either not enjoyed by them, but kept for the hurt of the owners of them, or are intemperately used, or some way or other imbittered to them, so that they have no peace nor pleasure in them: and a man's spiritual life is neither had nor advantaged hereby, and much less is eternal life to be acquired by any of these things; which a man may have, and be lost for ever, as the following parable shows.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
15. unto them—the multitude around Him (Lu 12:1).
of covetousness—The best copies have "all," that is, "every kind of covetousness"; because as this was one of the more plausible forms of it, so He would strike at once at the root of the evil.
a man's life, &c.—a singularly weighty maxim, and not less so because its meaning and its truth are equally evident.
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