Luke 12:33
Sell that you have, and give alms; provide yourselves bags which wax not old, a treasure in the heavens that fails not, where no thief approaches, neither moth corrupts.
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(33) Sell that ye have.—In its generalised form the precept is peculiar to St. Luke, but it has its parallel in the command given to the young ruler. (See Note on Matthew 19:21.) It was clearly one of the precepts which his own characteristic tendencies led him to record (see Introduction), and which found its fulfilment in the overflowing love that showed itself in the first days of the Church of the Apostles (Acts 2:45). Subsequent experience may have modified the duty of literal obedience, but the principle implied in it, that it is wise to sit loose to earthly possessions, possessing them as though we possessed not (1Corinthians 7:30), is one which has not lost its force.

Provide yourselves bags . . .—The Greek word for bags (elsewhere “purse,” Luke 22:35), may be noticed as peculiar to St. Luke. Of the three words used in the New Testament for “purse” or “bag” it was the most classical.

Where no thief approacheth.—See Note on Matthew 6:20. The form is in some respects briefer here, but “the treasure that faileth not” is a touch peculiar to St. Luke. The adjective which he uses is a rare one, and not found elsewhere in the New Testament; but one from the same root, in Wisdom Of Solomon 7:14; Wisdom Of Solomon 8:18, describes wisdom as “a treasure that never faileth.”

12:22-40 Christ largely insisted upon this caution not to give way to disquieting, perplexing cares, Mt 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.Sell that ye have - Sell your property. Exchange it for that which you can use in distributing charity. This was the condition of their being disciples. Their property they gave up; they forsook it, or they put it into common stock, for the sake of giving alms to the poor, Acts 2:44; Acts 4:32; John 12:6; Acts 5:2.

Bags which wax not old - The word "bags," here, means "purses," or the bags attached to their girdles, in which they carried their money. See the notes at Matthew 5:38. By bags which wax not old Jesus means that we should lay up treasure in heaven; that our aim should be to be prepared to enter there, where all our wants will be forever provided for. Purses, here, grow old and useless. Wealth takes to itself wings. Riches are easily scattered, or we must soon leave them; but that wealth which is in heaven abides forever. It never is corrupted; never flies away; never is to be left.

Wax - This word is from an old Saxon word, and in the Bible means to "grow."

33, 34. Sell, &c.—This is but a more vivid expression of Mt 6:19-21 (see on [1650]Mt 6:19-21).Ver. 33,34. The immutable purpose of the Divine Being to glorify the disciples of Christ, the freedom of the Divine will in the gift of heaven and glory, are neither of them exclusive of, but include and suppose, their duty to use such due means as he hath directed them, in the use of which they shall obtain what he hath purposed for them, and promised to them; some of which are here directed and prescribed.

Sell that ye have, and give alms, & c. It is a precept of the same import with that, Matthew 19:21 Mark 10:21. Though possibly the precept here given to the disciples of Christ generally is not to be interpreted so strictly as seemeth to be our Saviour’s meaning in those texts, as to the young man. For it seems to have been a special precept to him, laying an obligation upon him to make a present actual sale of all he had, and it is plain that he so understood it. To this Christians are not obliged generally by this precept: but to be ready at the call and command of God to part with all, for such uses as God should show them: not to set their heart on riches, Psalm 62:10; to be ready to distribute, and willing to communicate, 1 Timothy 6:18; remembering that God loveth mercy rather than sacrifice, Hosea 6:6 Matthew 9:13. To give of our superfluities, Luke 3:11. To make friends of our mammon of unrighteousness, Luke 16:9. Nay, if the necessities of the people of God be such as requires it, for the subsistence of Christians, to sell what we have, rather than others of God’s people should starve, calling nothing our own in such a case; which Christians did in the primitive state of the church, Acts 4:34-37. For the other part of Luke 12:33,34, See Poole on "Matthew 6:20", and See Poole on "Matthew 6:21". Sell that ye have, and give alms,.... Since they had a kingdom bequeathed them by their heavenly Father, they should be so far from indulging an anxious care about food and raiment, that when there was a call in providence for it, and rather than the poor should go without a supply, it became them to sell their houses and lands, and whatever possessions they had, and relieve them; and so they did not long after; for some of those who sold their estates, and brought the money to the apostles, Acts 4:34, might be now present; and the more readily and cheerfully do what they did, remembering these words of Christ:

provide yourselves bags which wax not old; as do the bags of misers: their bag is, , "a bag pierced through", or that has a hole in it, which lets the money out as it is put in, Haggai 1:6 and which the Targum renders by, "for a curse"; as money hoarded up in bags by covetous persons generally is: Christ would have his followers put their money up in other bags; not in such which rot through age, or are worn out, and are full of holes through use; but into the hands and bellies of the poor, the fruit and reward of which will always abide;

a treasure in the heavens that faileth not: whereas treasure on earth does, being either taken away from the possessors of it by various ways, or they from that:

where no thief approacheth; can come near to steal it away, which is often the case here on earth:

neither moth corrupteth; as it does the best of garments, wore by men: but the robes of glory and immortality can never be corrupted: See Gill on Matthew 6:20.

{10} Sell that ye have, and give {k} alms; provide yourselves bags which wax not old, a treasure in the heavens that faileth not, where no thief approacheth, neither moth corrupteth.

(10) A godly bountifulness is a proper way to get true riches.

(k) This is the figure of speech metonymy, for by this word alms is meant that compassion and friendliness of a heart that cares tenderly for the misery and poor condition of a man, and shows this feeling by some gift, and has the name given to it in the Greek language of mercy and compassion: and therefore he is said to give alms who gives something to another, and gives to the poor, showing by this that he pities their poor condition.

Luke 12:33-34. Comp. Matthew 6:19-21. This end is so important that, in order to strive thereafter with your whole interest (Luke 12:34), ye must renounce your earthly possessions, etc. This selling and giving up of the proceeds as alms (ἐλεημοσ., as Luke 11:41) is not required of all Christians (Luke 12:22), as de Wette will have it, but of the disciples, who, in the discharge of their office, needed perfect release from what is temporal. All the less do the words furnish a basis for the consilium evangelicum and the vow of poverty (Bisping).

ἑαυτοῖς] while ye give to others.

βαλλάντια (Luke 10:4) μὴ παλαιούμενα is explained by the following θησαυρὸνοὐρανοῖς.[158] As to this θησαυρός, comp. on Luke 12:21.

[158] To refer the βαλλάντ. μὴ παλ. to the “everlastingly fresh power of apprehension in respect of the eternal possessions,” was a fancy of Lange’s opposed to the context (L. J. II. 2, p. 851).Luke 12:33 counsels a heroic mood for which apprehension as to future temporal want has become an impossibility, such want being now viewed as a means of ensuring the one object of desire, eternal riches.—πωλήσατε, etc.: the special counsel to the man in quest of eternal life generalised (cf. Luke 18:22).—βαλάντια, purses: continens pro contento (De Wette).—παλαιούμενα: in Hebrews 8:13 applied to the Sinaitic covenant. Covenants, religions, wax old as well as purses.—ἀνέκλειπτον, unfailing. Cf. ἐκλίπῃ, Luke 16:9, in reference to death: “vox rara, sed paris elegantiae cum altera ἀνεκλιπὴς, quam adhibet auctor libri Sapient., vii. 4, viii. 18, ubi habes θησαυρὸς ἀνεκλιπὴς et πλοῦτος ἀνεκλιπής,” Wolf. There is poetry in this verse, but also some think asceticism, turning the poetry of Jesus into ecclesiastical prose. I prefer to believe that even Lk. sees in the words not a mechanical rule, but a law for the spirit.33. Sell that ye have] This command was taken very literally by the early Church, Acts 2:44-45. Comp. Luke 16:9; Matthew 19:21.Luke 12:33. [Ἑαυτοῖς, for yourselves) Laying out your money at the highest interest, Hebrews 10:34.—V. g.]—πωλήσατε, sell) This the Lord said, not to the crowds [Luke 12:1; Luke 12:54], to whom however He was showing the way of salvation in a manner appropriate to that very time, Luke 12:54; Luke 12:56; nor to the apostles, who had left their all previously, and therefore had nothing to ‘sell:’ but to the rest of the disciples: see Luke 12:22; Luke 12:41. His departure from Galilee, ch. Luke 13:32, and his Passion itself, were at hand: and He was now already preparing His disciples, that they might be thenceforth as lightly equipped (with as few encumbrances) as possible. For these were they, of whom Luke makes mention in Acts 1:15; Acts 2:44, etc.: so that there is no doubt but that soon after this discourse they sold their possessions in Galilee. Otherwise the indiscriminate sale of all one’s resources is not enjoined on all, so as to require that they should convert them into alms, and that themselves, as well as their families should either seek or re-seek [seek to get in their turn] from others the alms which they had once given. Nevertheless spiritual prudence makes men, from being mercenary, even though they have not the most abundant supply of goods, to become liberal, and disposed to sell in order to have wherewith to give, especially when the exigency requires it. See Ecclesiastes 11:2; Jam 5:1.—βαλάντια, purses) Plural. He who sells after the manner of the world, fills his purse: but this kind of purse waxes old, even as the natural heaven itself doth.[122]—θησαυρὸν ἀνέκλειπτον, a treasure that faileth not) The treasure, as opposed to the purse, is the abundance of articles of food, which are very soon spent or spoiled [consumed or corrupted].—ἐν) namely [purses and a treasure] in the heavens. This appertains to both of the preceding clauses.

[122] Opposed to the spiritual τοῖς οὐρανοῖς, which do not wax old.—ED. and TRANSL.Verse 33. - Sell that ye have, and give alms; provide yourselves bags which wan not old, a treasure in the heavens that faileth not. "Those of you who have riches, see, this is what I counsel you to do with them." In considering these much-disputed words of the Master, we must remember

(1) to whom they were spoken: they were addressed to men and women who, if they would follow him, must set themselves free from all worldly possessions; they must literally forsake all to follow him.

(2) We must bear in mind

(a) that the only community which attempted, as a community, to obey this charge literally was the Church of Jerusalem, and the result was that for long years this Church was plunged into the deepest poverty, so that assistance had to be sent even from far-distant Churches to this deeply impoverished Jerusalem community. [This we learn from Paul, the real compiler of this very Gospel, where the charge is reported. See many passages in his letters, notably the Second Epistle to the Corinthians, passim.]

(b) The mendicant orders in the Middle Ages, with no little bravery and constancy, likewise attempted to carry out to the letter this direction. The impartial student of mediaeval history, while doing all justice to the aims and work of these often devoted men, can judge whether or no these mendicant orders can be reckoned among the permanently successful agencies of the cross. We conclude, then, that these words had a literal meaning only for those to whom they were specially addressed, viz. the disciples. While to the Church generally they convey this deep, far-reaching lesson, a lesson all would-be servants of Christ would do well to take to heart - it is the Master's will that his followers should sit loose to all earthly possessions, possessing them as though they possessed not. Thus living, the heart will be free from all inordinate care for earthly treasure, and will, in real earnest, turn to that serene region where its real and abiding riches indeed are - even to heaven. Bags (βαλλάντια)

From βάλλω, to throw. Something into which money and other things are cast. Rev., purses. See on Luke 10:4 :. Wyc., satchels.


Compare James 5:2.

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