And if he shall come in the second watch, or come in the third watch, and find them so, blessed are those servants.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)And if he shall come in the second watch.—In Mark 13:35 we have the Roman four-fold division of the night. (See Note there.) Here we find the older Jewish division into three watches. (Judges 7:19, 1Samuel 11:11.)Luke 12:38-40. And if he shall come in the second or third watch, &c. — This included all the time from nine in the evening to three in the morning; and was as if he had said, whether he come early or late. Here our Lord enforces “this constant watchfulness and habitual preparation for his coming, from the consideration of the uncertainty of the time of it; telling them, that as there is no master of a family but would make some preparation against a thief, if he knew of his coming, so it would be no great matter if they should make some preparation, on receiving certain information of his approach: for which reason, their zeal could only show itself by keeping them in constant readiness, as they did not know what hour he would come. Be ye therefore ready also, for the Son of man cometh, &c. — “The coming of the Son of man often signifies his providential interposition for the destruction of Jerusalem; but it cannot be taken in such a sense here, because our Lord speaks of an immediate reward to be bestowed on all faithful servants; and an immediate punishment to be executed on all that were unfaithful; and expressly declares this to be a matter of universal concern: all which particulars have very little sense or propriety, when applied to the destruction of Jerusalem. It must, therefore, be understood of his coming to remove them from the capacities of service here, to give up their account. And, if we suppose it to relate to death, as well as judgment, (which by a consequence at least it undoubtedly does,) it strongly intimates his having such a dominion over the invisible world, that every soul removed into it might be said to be fetched away by him.” — Doddridge.Matthew 24:42-51.
Second watch - See the notes at Matthew 14:25.See Poole on "Luke 12:37"
or come in the third watch, or after twelve o'clock, or any time between twelve and three; for the third watch was from twelve o'clock to three, which was late; See Gill on Matthew 14:25 The Persic version reads, "in the second, or third part of the night"; and the Ethiopic version, "in the second or third hour of the night";
and find them so. The Arabic version adds, "doing"; as above described, with their loins girt, lights burning, and they watching for their Lord's coming:And if he shall come in the second watch, or come in the third watch, and find them so, blessed are those servants.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)Luke 12:38. The earlier or later time of the Advent will make no difference in this blessed recompense. Jesus does not mention the first of the four night-watches (see on Matthew 14:25), because in this the marriage-feast took place; nor the fourth, because so late a return would have been unusual, and in this place contrary to the decorum of the events that were represented.Luke 12:38. ἐν τῇ δευτέρᾳ, etc., second and third watches named as the times at which men are most apt to be overtaken with sleep (Hahn), the night being probably supposed to consist of four watches, and the first omitted as too early, and the last as too late for the return.38. come in the second watch, or come in the third watch] It is not clear, nor very important, whether St Luke here alludes to the three watches of the Jews and Greeks (Lamentations 2:19; Jdg 7:19; Exodus 14:24) or to the four of the Romans (Jerome, Ep. CXL.). But it is very important to observe that often as our Lord bade His disciples to be ready for His return, He as often indicates that His return might be long delayed, Matthew 25:5-19. He always implied that He should come suddenly (Luke 21:34-36; 1 Thessalonians 5:2-6; Revelation 3:3) but not necessarily soon, Luke 12:46; 2 Peter 3:8-9. “The Parousia does not come so quickly as impatience, nor yet so late as carelessness, supposes.” Van Oosterzee.Luke 12:38. Δευτέρᾳ, in the second) The first watch is not mentioned: inasmuch as it was the very time itself of the nuptial feast.—τρίτῃ, in the third) The Romans used to divide the night into four watches, the Jews into three. Accordingly Simonius establishes it as certain, that Luke alludes to the Jewish division.Verse 38. - And if he shall come in the second watch, or come in the third watch, and find them so. Among the Jews at the time of our Lord, the old division of the night into three watches had given place to the ordinary Roman division into four. They were reckoned thus: from six to nine, from nine to midnight, from midnight to three, and from three to six. In this parable the second and third watches are mentioned as necessary for the completeness of the picture; for the banquet would certainly not be over before the end of the first watch, and in the fourth the day would be breaking. The second and third watches, then, represent the still and weary hours of the night, when to watch is indeed a task of difficulty and painfulness; and here again the Lord repeats his high encomium on such devoted conduct in his second "blessed are those servants." It is perfectly clear that in this parable the master's return signifies the coming of Christ. The whole tone, then, is a grave reminder to us, to all impatient ones, that the great event may be long delayed, much longer than most Christian thinkers dream; but it tells us, too. that this long delay involves a test of their loyalty. "The parousia does not come so quickly as impatience, nor yet so late as carelessness, supposes" (Van Oosterzee).
See on Mark 13:35.
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