Luke 12:16
And he spoke a parable to them, saying, The ground of a certain rich man brought forth plentifully:
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Luke 12:16-20. To illustrate his admonition, and give it the greater weight, our Lord here delivers an important parable. The ground of a rich man brought forth plentifully — This man, it appears, became rich, not by unjust gains, but by the produce of his own land, the most innocent method possible of making or increasing an estate. Nor did his covetousness consist in heaping up wealth without end, even by a method so innocent as that of agriculture: no; the extraordinary fruitfulness of one year’s crop contented him, for it was so great that he had no further care, but to contrive how to bestow his fruits. And the result of his deliberation was, to pull down his barns and build greater. Nor did his covetousness consist in hoarding up the fruits of that one bountiful year; for he laid them up with no other intention, but to take the full use of them in every sensual enjoyment which they could afford; saying to his soul, that is, to himself, with complacency and confidence, Thou hast much goods laid up for many future years, take thine ease — Cease from the fatigue of business, and even from the labour of thought. Enjoy thyself; eat and drink without any fear of exhausting thy stores, and be as merry as corn, and wine, and oil, shared with thy most jovial companions, can make thee. This man’s covetousness, therefore, consisted in the satisfaction which he took in his goods and fruits, in his putting a high value on the pleasures of luxury which they afforded, and in proposing to derive his happiness from them alone, without taking God and religion into his scheme at all. But God said unto him — God, who in this man’s scheme of happiness was overlooked, thought fit to show him the folly he was guilty of in contemning his Maker, on whom he depended for every thing, and by whose providence alone he lived to enjoy any blessing: God, with just displeasure, said to him, by the awful dispensation of his providence, amidst all his gayety of heart, and in the variety of his schemes and hopes, Thou fool — Who dost thus stupidly forget both the dignity and the mortality of thy nature, and thy continual dependance upon thy supreme Lord! Know, to thy terror, that this very night — While thou art talking of a long succession of pleasurable years; thy soul shall be required of thee — And hurried away to its own place; that soul, which thou just now saidst had much goods laid up for many years, and which thou badest take its ease and be merry. Greek, την ψυχην απαιτουσιν απο σου, They shall demand thy soul of thee; that is, “Either thy soul shall be required of thee by God that gave it, and whose deposite it is, as the Jews speak, or else it shall be required by evil angels, according to that other opinion of the Jews, that the souls of the just, when they die, are carried into the garden of Eden by the ministry of holy angels, and the souls of the wicked to the place appointed them, by evil spirits.” — Whitby. Then whose shall those things be which thou hast provided — Will they be thine any longer? When thou appearest at my bar to answer for thy actions, will they buy thee off from punishment? And when thou goest to thy own place, will they procure thee one moment’s respite from thy torment, or any comfort under it?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.A parable - See the notes at Matthew 13:3.

Plentifully - His land was fertile, and produced even beyond his expectations, and beyond what he had provided for.

16-19. a certain rich man, &c.—Why is this man called a "fool?" (Lu 12:20) (1) Because he deemed a life of secure and abundant earthly enjoyment the summit of human felicity. (2) Because, possessing the means of this, through prosperity in his calling, he flattered himself that he had a long lease of such enjoyment, and nothing to do but give himself up to it. Nothing else is laid to his charge.Ver. 16-21. The evangelist lets us know, that these verses contain not a narrative of a matter of fact, but only a representation of something that is too ordinary, by a fictitious story. The scope of it is to justify what our Saviour had said in the verse immediately preceding, that a man’s life lieth not in the abundance of what he possesseth; for he who hath the greatest possessions may die as soon as he who hath not where to lay down his head, and may be taken away at a time when he is enjoying the fullest satisfactions that he can promise himself, or the creature can afford him. Therefore he acts not like a wise and rational man, that takes care to lay up for himself treasure on earth, and in the mean time neglects the riches of grace. The sense of the parable is to be learned from the epi parabolh, which we have Luke 12:21,

So is he that layeth up treasure for himself; so foolish and unwise is he, &c. But from this parable we may make general observations:

1. That God maketh his sun to shine and his rain to fall on the just and on the unjust. Men may have laid up much earthly treasure, who are yet very poor towards God.

2. That the increase of riches increaseth care. The rich man saith, What shall I do? The difference between the beggar and the rich man is but this: both are saying, "What shall I do?" The beggar saith, "What shall I do to get money?" The other saith, "What shall I do with it now I have it?"

3. Worldly men’s fruits are their goods, Luke 12:3; they are so in their estimation, and they are so as they are the whole portion that such should have from God.

4. Great estates and enjoyments of this life have a very enticing quality in them.

a) They make us loath to die, and willing to think we shall live many years.

b) They entice us to a spiritual sloth and security, and to sing a requiem to our souls.

c) They entice us to sinful mirth and luxury; Eat, drink, and be merry.

5. He that hath most may have his soul taken from him in a night.

6. A man is no longer owner of the goods of this life, than he can keep an earthly possession of them.

7. When he dies, he knoweth not whose those things shall be; not whether his son or strangers shall inherit them; nor, if his son doth happen to meet with the countenance of the law, doth he know whether that son shall be a wise man or a fool.

8. Hence it appears to be the most egregious folly imaginable, for men to spend their time and strength in getting and laying up treasure upon earth, in the mean time neglecting, or not duly endeavouring, to be rich towards God; both:

a) In that grace by which the soul is justified and accepted; and also,

b) In that grace in the exercise of which alone he may glorify God.

This latter is that which the apostle calls, a being rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate, & c., 1 Timothy 6:18; where he mentions only one species of good works. For whereas wisdom lies in the choice of the best end, and then of the best means to obtain it, and the best circumstances in the use of those means, the worldly man failing in the first, not choosing the best end, must needs be a spiritual fool. And indeed, of all folly that is the greatest which is seen in the choice of a worse and more ignoble end, before that which is of more advantage, more noble, and excellent; as certainly the acquiring of an eternal happiness and felicity is before an acquiring a mere transitory and uncertain felicity and satisfaction. And he spake a parable unto them, saying,.... He supposed the following case, and made use of it by way of illustration of what he had said:

the ground of a certain rich man brought forth plentifully; who notwithstanding his riches, was but a fool, as the sequel shows; rich men are not always wise in things natural and civil; and very few of them are spiritually wise, or wise in spiritual things, in things which relate to the welfare of their souls; but however, this man was very prosperous in his worldly affairs, as a man of a small share of common sense may be, and wicked men often are: the word translated "ground", signifies a "region", or "country", which expresses the more, the riches of this man, that he had not a common and ordinary farm, but a whole country as it were; at least a very large part of one, and all this fruitful.

{6} And he spake a parable unto them, saying, The {e} ground of a certain rich man brought forth plentifully:

(6) There are none more mad than rich men who depend upon their riches.

(e) Or rather country, for here is set forth a man that possesses not only a piece of ground, but a whole country, as they do who join house to house, and field to field; Isa 5:8.

Luke 12:16-19. On the idea of this parable, comp. Psalm 49:18; Sir 11:17 ff.

εὐφόρησεν] not in the sense of the pluperfect (Luther, Castalio, and others), but: bore well. Examples of this late and rare verb (Hipp. Ep. 1274, 20; Joseph. Bell. ii. 21. 2) may be found in Kypke. Comp. εὐφόρως φέρειν (Lobeck, Paralip. p. 533).

ἡ χώρα] the estate, Xen. Cyr. viii. 4. 28; Jerome, x. 5, and elsewhere.

Luke 12:17 ff. Observe the increasing vivacity of the description of the “animi sine requie quieti” (Bengel).

οὐκ ἔχω ποῦ] “quasi nusquam essent quibus pascendis possent impendi,” Grotius.

καθελῶ μου κ.τ.λ.] I will pull down my storehouses (Matthew 3:12).

τὰ γεννήματα] see on Matthew 26:29.

καὶ τ. ἀγ. μ.] and in general, my possessions.

τῇ ψυχῇ μου] not equivalent to mihi, but: to my soul, the seat of the affections; in this case, of the excessive longing for pleasure. Comp. on Luke 1:46, and see Jacobs, ad Del. Epigr. VII. 1. How frequently also in the Greek writers the actions of the Ego are predicated of the soul, may be seen in Stallbaum, ad Plat. Rep. II. p. 365 A.

ἀναπαύου κ.τ.λ.] An instance of “asyndeton,” expressing eager anticipation of the enjoyment longed for. On the thought, comp. Sir 11:19; Tob 7:9; Plaut. Mil. Glor. iii. 1. 83; Soph. Dan. VI. (181, Dind.): ζῆ, πῖνε, φέρβου.Luke 12:16-21. Parable of the rich fool, simply a story embodying in concrete form the principle just enunciated: teaching the lesson of Psalms 49, and containing apparent echoes of Sir 11:17-19.16. The ground] Rather, The estate. In this parable (peculiar to St Luke) our Lord evidently referred mentally to the story of Nabal, whose name means ‘Fool’ or ‘Churl’ (1 Samuel 25). Observe that his riches, like those of Nabal, were acquired, not by fraud or oppression, but in the most innocent way. His crime was his greedy and callous selfishness. He cared not for generous use, but for self-admiring acquisition. Being “a fool” his “prosperity destroyed him.” Proverbs 1:32.Luke 12:16. Εὐφόρησεν, brought forth plentiful fruits) on one particular year, or else year by year. This is the most innocent manner of becoming rich, and yet it is attended with dangers.—χώρα) not merely χωρίον.[119]

[119] χώρα, a tract, ‘regio,’ is the more extensive of the two.—ED. and TRANSL.Verse 16. - The ground of a certain rich man brought forth plentifully. The unhappy subject of the Lord's story was a common figure in Palestine in an ordinarily prosperous time. We have the portrait of a landowner whose farms do not seem to have been acquired by any unjust means. This man, after years of successful industry, having acquired great wealth, wholly devotes himself to it and to its further increase. He does not give himself up to excess or profligacy, but simply, body and soul, becomes the slave of his wealth; utterly, hopelessly selfish, he forgets alike God and his neighbor.
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