|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 21. - And is not rich toward God; better rendered, if he is not. And this slight change helps us, too, in drawing the right lesson. The being rich is never condemned by Jesus Christ; nor even the growing richer. Among the saints of God in both Testaments are many notable rich men, whose possessions seem to have helped rather than hindered their journey to the city of God. The lesson which lies on the forefront of this parable-story is the especial danger which riches ever bring of gradually deadening the heart and rendering it impervious to any feeling of love either for God or man. The directions which immediately followed upon this parable were addressed to the inner circle of disciples. The general instruction, it will be seen, belongs to all who in any age wish to be "of his Church;" but several of the particular charges cannot he pressed as general commands, being addressed to men whose work and office were unique.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
So is he that layeth up treasure for himself,.... This is the accommodation of the parable. Just such a fool is he, and this will be the end or him, who employs all his thoughts, and spends all his time, in amassing to himself worldly riches and wealth, in laying up treasures on earth for himself, for futurity: and makes no use of his earthly substance to be the good of others; nor shows any concern for spiritual and eternal riches; but places all his hope, trust, and confidence, in uncertain riches:
and is not rich towards God; or "in God", as the Syriac and Arabic versions read; in things pertaining to God, in spiritual things, in faith, and in good works; and is not concerned to lay up a treasure in heaven, to have an interest in durable riches and righteousness; whereas one that is rich towards God, acknowledges that he receives all his riches from God, as the Ethiopic version reads; he gives up all into the hands of God, depends upon his providence for the increase, security, and continuance of it; and uses it to his honour and glory, and for the good of his interest; and is chiefly concerned for the riches of grace and glory; and enjoys much of God, and places all his riches in him: such a man is a wise man, but the reverse of this is the fool in the parable.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
21. So is he, &c.—Such is a picture of his folly here, and of its awful issue.
and is not rich toward God—lives to amass and enjoy riches which terminate on self, but as to the riches of God's favor, which is life (Ps 30:5), of "precious" faith (2Pe 1:1; Jas 2:5), of good works (1Ti 6:18), of wisdom which is better than rubies (Pr 8:11)—lives and dies a beggar!
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